City council briefed following big storm

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

GREENCASTLE -- While city departments no longer have to work extra shifts and overtime to respond to the winter storm, cleanup efforts in Greencastle are ongoing.

Several of the city's department heads gave reports on storm response at Tuesday's meeting of the Greencastle Common Council.

Fire Chief Bill Newgent said GFD's storm response lasted from about 9:30 p.m. last Monday through Friday. During that time, they responded to about 100 calls, which is normally three months' worth of runs.

The department worked mostly car accidents, medical assists and alarms due to the weather.

"Our number one goal is to provide emergency services during those type of events," Newgent said. "The men and women in the fire department, the police department and all the departments in the city work hand in hand so well."

Likewise, the Greencastle Police Department called in extra help and was working 12-hour shifts. At one point during the storm, 16 officers were on duty at the same time.

Public works supervisor Brad Phillips said battling the snow and ice on the streets is ongoing, although things have slowed considerably from last week's ice and the weekend's snow.

He said the city was able to conserve salt in January, which has served the department well.

"The good thing is, the material we saved for the month of January, we were able to use for this storm," Phillips said. "We still have about 200 tons, so we should be in good shape, but without what we saved in January, we'd be hurting."

Phillips said the city is planning to do limb pickup March 1 through 11. It will be a single sweep of the city, to pick up limbs 8 inches or less in diameter.

Residents are asked to place limbs from storm-damaged trees next to the curb on these dates for pickup. Only limbs damaged in winter storms should be included.

Power outages during the storm could have caused headaches for the utilities department, but measures already in place worked as planned.

Utilities supervisor Richard Hedge said the generator at the water plant came into action twice -- once for about 12 hours and then again for around six. Additionally, the portable pump at the North Jackson Street lift station also came on and ran perfectly.

Midland Co-op came around twice to top off the fuel in the generator, although it never got low on gasoline.

Finally, parks department employees are continuing their efforts to clean up trees and limbs on city property. They have been out in recent days, although Parks and Recreation director Rod Weinschenk will not allow staff to cut trees in unsafe conditions. One tree fell in the park, but it will not be cut until there is a more complete thaw.

"I told my guys I don't want to see a chainsaw in their hand if they have to stand on ice to use it," Weinschenk said. "Safety first."

Council President Adam Cohen said he was impressed with the effort displayed by city employees, but said it's a spirit he saw from all department heads during January's council retreat.

"I was just amazed at the total response we had," Cohen said. "If you look back at those meetings we had in January, it makes total sense."

Putnam County Economic Development director Bill Dory approached the council about declaring economic revitalization areas for Chiyoda U.S.A. and for Crown Equipment. Declaring a revitalization area is the first step in becoming eligible for tax abatement.

Chiyoda has plans to invest about $2 million in four new pieces of equipment. Crown is also planning an expansion of the facility, additional equipment and additional employment, although the numbers are not yet finalized.

Council approved both requests. Both the mayor and the council expressed their pleasure at new investment in the community.

"Council, I would bet there are a lot of places here in the state meeting tonight that would love to trade places with you, with two companies making investments in the community," Mayor Sue Murray said.

Council also approved the closure of Franklin Street on the north side of Courthouse Square on Saturdays during the Greencastle Farmer's Market. The closure will be 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday from May 21 to Oct. 29. Additionally, on busy days, Indiana Street on the east side of the square may close.

Murray requested that Cathryn Ensley get the city the current Farmer's Market application so they can post it on the city's website.

"We'll try to have that ready in the next couple of weeks," Ensley said.

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  • Just wanted to say good job! and thanks.

    -- Posted by millerschoolkid on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 8:51 AM
  • If the county agencies worked together nearly as well as the city, maybe we wouldn't still be having school delays.

    -- Posted by ProblemTransmission on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 4:56 PM
  • It would have been nice to have the streets plowed since last they put a strip of sand down so the bus could get around easier....the county knows how to drive the trucks but someone needs to show them how to use the blades! Sunday and Monday they should have been out in full force, but no...our kids have yet another day to make up!

    -- Posted by hereitis on Wed, Feb 9, 2011, at 9:06 PM
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