The Cloverdale Town Council was thrown a curve ball recently, one it didn't see coming.
At its monthly meeting on Tuesday, the council informed those in attendance that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) had placed the town on a sewer connection ban, effective July 31.
"I was not expecting it," Council President Don Sublett told the BannerGraphic after the meeting. "We had no forewarning of this ban."
IDEM sent the town a certified letter on July 31 confirming the ban for all new sewer connections on the town's publicly owned treatment works.
Town Utility Manager Mike Gray said a report was issued to IDEM prior to the ban stating bypassing took place 22 days in 2004, 47 days in 2005 and 30 days in 2006. All of the bypasses, according to the IDEM letter, were prohibited by the town's discharge permit.
Sublett said the town received a violation from IDEM one month ago after there was an overflow.
Gray said he went to Indianapolis to deliver information to IDEM when he learned the ban was possible.
"I was told by IDEM when I went up there that they were kicking the idea around," Gray said.
He added the town's utility department is doing everything it can to fix the problems.
"We're pushing it as hard as we can right now," he said.
Gray said the town hopes to have its new wastewater treatment plant in place by August 2007, but the plan has to be up and running by December next year.
"It has to be working by then," he said. "But (the August 2007 date could happen) with everything working perfect. I'm hoping we'll have it done this time next year."
Gray told the board Tuesday he was not surprised by the ban.
"Unfortunately, that's what we're going to have to deal with," he said. "We've made some improvements on the sewer system, but we found some areas that were drastic. We're continually checking it."
Sublett said town growth will be affected by the sewer connection ban.
"It restricts town growth," he said. "The impact is severe.
"We have to follow the order. They know we're building a new sewer plant, but they have not approved our final plan."
The IDEM letter stated that appeals may be made, but said since that was a legal procedure, consultation with an attorney was suggested.
Town resident Don Gedert expressed concern regarding the ban, saying it "effectively put him out of business."
"It's just not acceptable," Gedert said.
Meanwhile, the board learned Putnam County Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter had donated $10,200 for a weapons upgrade and for two field breathalyzer testing machines to the Cloverdale Police Department.
Bookwalter told the board Tuesday the upgrade was necessary for CPD to continue fighting the battle against methamphetamine users.
"The weapon of choice with meth people, for some reason, is a .45-caliber,' Bookwalter said. "So we needed an upgrade."
CPD Chief Charlie Hallam said Assistant Chief Tim Walker put in the bulk of the work toward the donation, in addition to the department receiving help from the Putnam County Sheriff's Department through drug seizure money.
In other business, the board:
-- Approved Transfer Resolution 2006-9 for $200.
-- Approved Transfer Resolution 2006-10 for $500.
-- Approved claims for July 31 for $169.
-- Approved July 25 claims for $20,489.47.
-- Approved Aug. 8 claims for $30,190.29.
-- Learned from Hallam that he and Gray were researching a possible reduction of speed limits on town streets for safety reasons.
-- Learned from Gray the utility department has three employees. Gray told the board he will begin conducting interviews for an open position Wednesday.
-- Learned from Gray it may take 20 weeks for the town to receive its new dump truck.
-- Learned from Gray that he had contacted Spiker Excavating regarding ditchways and guardrails at Stardust Hills, but had not received a quote yet from the company. Gray said he would pursue other quotes elsewhere.
-- Unanimously approved an additional $500 for town clerk/treasurer Patti Truax to pay for computer software. The council had previously approved $1,500, but Truax informed the board she needed the additional money.
-- Approved Truax to receive three credit cards with a limit of $2,500 from First National Bank for the clerk, police and utility departments for out-of-town trips.
-- Approved the pre-adoption for the 2007 town budget, estimated at $783,745.
-- Accepted the resignation of Pat Steele from the Park Board by a 5-0 vote.
-- Learned from Gedert that progress had been made for street signs at Stardust Hills. Gedert asked the town to participate by purchasing treated poles for the signs, estimated at $400. The town approved the measure, not to exceed $500 unanimously.
-- Approved a request from resident Ina Johnson to rezone property she owns from Residential 1 to Residential 2.
-- Unanimously approved Sublett and council member Glenn Vickroy to attend an IACT meeting at Shelburn Park at a cost of $15 each.
The council meets regularly on the second Tuesday of each month at town hall. Its next regular meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Sept. 12.
However, it scheduled a special meeting for 6:30 p.m., Aug. 17 to further discuss the town's proposed 2007 budget.