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Summary of May 22 Bluffton Council meeting

By Andy Chappell-Dick

The Monday, May 22 meeting of the Bluffton council proceeded with dispatch, as councilors and administrators covered a lot of ground in only forty minutes.


Several Committees presented reports of their meetings from the last two weeks. Joe Sehlhorst said that Streets and Alleys had met for five minutes to discuss vacating an alley.  

For Utilities, Dave Steiner indicated that talks have begun with the Allen County Sanitary Engineer regarding the possibility of expanding Bluffton's sewer service to the southwest of town, centering on the Mast Estates development of 21 homes near the golf course.  

Ben Stahl reported that Parks and Rec had met to discuss ways to apply for more grants, perhaps for improvements around Cobb Lake.  It's important, he said, to have projects with defined goals and budgets since grant applications need that information ahead of time. "We need some time to get our ducks in a row."  Someone didn't hesitate to heckle: "we have a lot of ducks out there."  (Rim shot.)


First readings of three resolutions were presented for a legislative vote. The first was an authorization for the County Commissioners to start up Bluffton's brand new natural gas aggregation, an initiative that was approved at the ballot box earlier this month.  

The second confirmed Bluffton's ongoing participation in the regional Solid Waste Management Plan.  

The third was an application for the state DNR NatureWorks grant program.  All three passed unanimously.

Mayor Johnson asked Administrators Jesse Blackburn and Bryan Lloyd for their report.  The bike pathway projects extending along SR 103 and County Line Road are set to begin soon.  

AEP has all their new giant utility poles in place.  The highest wires are the transmission lines, and they're done.  Distribution lines are lower down, and these include electric service to homes as well as phone and cable.  Once these utilities are transferred to the new poles, the older smaller ones will disappear.

Residents suffering from painful gas--bills, that is--may soon feel some relief. The Village's new natural gas aggregation requires two public meetings to answer questions about the bulk purchasing program.  Since there's no requirement that they be on separate days, the public is welcome to a forum on Monday, June 26 at 6:00 p.m. in Town Hall, and then again at 6:30 p.m.  Come get your gas questions answered, and stay for the 7:00 p.m. Council Meeting.

Community Clean-Up is scheduled for three days:  Tuesday, May 30-Thursday, June 1.  The shorter duration and the title "Community Clean-Up" is specifically designed to discourage non-residents from bringing their junk into town. Dumpsters are for Village taxpayers only.

Mayor Johnson had a  few items for Council to consider. Two special events were approved:  the Youth For Christ street party on Friday, May 26 and the June 16 Festival of Wheels.

Council also voted to hire the swimming pool staff roster presented by pool manager Jennie Wilson; it was announced that the pool is full and ready to go.


The Emergency Services chiefs were asked to report. Jan Basinger of EMS stated that the new weekend paid on-call system is working well, and he's hopeful that the roster of EMT's may see some additions in the coming months.  

Jon Kinn of the Fire Department said, and I quote, "there's not much going on."  Let's hope that continues. He said he'll be attending a fire chief convention where he'll get a chance to look at new trucks.  

This past week, the Village received good news from the Insurance Services office, which rates communities on their fire preparedness.  Bluffton received a 4 out of 10 (lower is better), an unusually good score for a village our size; insurance companies use the rating to determine discounts.  The surrounding rural area rated a 9, typical when there aren't fire hydrants on every block.

Police Chief Ryan Burkholder was not present. On this evening he was with the rest of the department attending a Hancock County memorial for fallen officer Dominic Francis.

To close the meeting, some discussion was had about gravedigging. With the retirement of the Village's longtime provider of this service, Council was asked to approve a contract for Kent Karhoff of Benton Ridge to dig at $500 per casket burial and $300 for cremation interment.  The issue will be finalized at the next meeting.

Mayor Johnson asked for adjournment, looking to Jerry Cupples who as Council President always seems to be the one to make the move.