Cloverdale Chamber set to be investigated for unpaid taxes

Friday, July 12, 2019

CLOVERDALE -- The Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce and a local investment outlet could soon be in hot water over alleged mismanagement of a neglected historic building.

During the regular meeting of the Cloverdale Town Council on Tuesday, Town Manager Wayne Galloway shared photos of the old train depot, which has deteriorated into serious disrepair. Multiple questions as to the building’s safety have been asked by community members in recent town meetings.

However, the council let it be known that it would have to consider the consequences stemming from potential misdeeds by the chamber, as well as Invest Putnam, in terms of misfiled taxes and financial missteps.

Though the discussion was meant to be about incurring costs to repair the depot, the town will now have to face the prospect of criminal liability determined through an investigation by the State of Indiana.

Current chamber president Mark Wingler said previously that he would provide the council with maintenance records, and it was in these documents that he found what has been termed “suspicious activity.” These elements came after the previous chamber was vacated, though the exact date of this is unclear.

In a Friday morning call to the Banner Graphic, Town Marshal Steve Hibler said that he had met with Prosecutor Tim Bookwalter, the Indiana Sate Police at Putnamville and ISP’s White Collar Crime Unit on Thursday to consult on next steps. He provided that he was then directed to contact the Department of Revenue.

The depot is a historic building that was deeded years ago to the chamber, with the stipulation that it would be used as an educational outlet such as a museum. The chamber then deeded it to the town, though the stipulation seems to not have ever been fulfilled.

Invest Putnam is headed by Stardust Hills developer and majority owner Don Gedert. Indeed, the depot is located not far from the subdivision.

Town Attorney Daniel Hofmann advised the council that it needed to be careful with discussing any investigation, as the issue is ongoing and could have far-reaching ramifications handed down from the state. As of this point, it remains unclear how the town will proceed.

Another topic that encouraged discussion was how the council wished to proceed with regard to the Bales house. According to the agenda, the home was under demolition in February, but a two-month grace period was given to sell it. It also stated there were two parties interested in buying the house, but a price had not been settled on.

The former owner of the house died in 2013, and the property has been abandoned and neglected since that time. It is also considered a fire hazard.

Hofmann provided that the main obstacle with the demolition is that a family trust was established and has not been found, though taxes are currently being paid on the house. He added that others with potential interests in the property needed to be located and advised before the town could consider demolition. However, the town can begin to cite the house for ordinance violations, so as to prompt the family to repair the home if it is not sold or razed.

In his monthly reports, the town manager addressed concerns about his salary earnings and how they were dictated. He said that his salary was public record, and also emphasized that he was being paid as the town’s building inspector as well.

Galloway also addressed how a strong storm at the beginning of last month had forced one of the wastewater stations to be shut down for 28 hours. This wastewater had to be manually pumped out, accounting for a large cost incurred by the incident.

To a comment about the buildings downtown that were heavily damaged by strong winds last February, and whether they were being cleaned up, Galloway said only one property owner had approached him about plans to rebuild.

The council also had its second reading of Ordinance 2019-4, which allows the town to establish a new specific fee schedule for ordinance violations, such as building neglect. With no discussion or comments from the audience, the council passed the ordinance with Gary Bennington dissenting.

The council also passed Ordinance 2019-5, which Clerk-Treasurer Cheryl Galloway said adopted a supplement to the town’s code concerning subdivision regulations. Galloway provided that the regulations dated back to 2011, and stipulates that developers are responsible for utilities, as well as for roads and sidewalks.

Council members also approved a software maintenance agreement with A.E. Boyce for $6,590. She also said the town’s insurance with HBG Insurance & Bonds would remain at $40,000.

The council also briefly touched on the ongoing issue of lowering the speed limit in Stardust Hills. Councilman Greg Jay related that he had seen input on social media about installing speed bumps in the subdivision. He also provided that more research needed to be done on how the change could be more cost-effective and enforceable, following comments from the audience that Stardust Hills was a “racetrack,” though proposed stop signs could discourage high speeds.

In its final item on the agenda, the council approved an extended memorandum of understanding for the Cloverdale Police Department to provide a student resource officer (SRO) to Cloverdale Schools for the 2019-20 school year.

Don Sublett was the only member of the council who was absent at Tuesday’s meeting.

The next regular meeting of the Cloverdale Town Council is scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 7 p.m. in the Cloverdale Town Hall.

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  • When was the last time that Sublet attended a board meeting, hummmmm, can't remember, can anybody remember?

    -- Posted by becker on Sat, Jul 13, 2019, at 4:19 PM
  • Mr. Sublett needs to resign, health issues or not. He's not serving the town.

    -- Posted by Ben Dover on Sat, Jul 13, 2019, at 9:45 PM
  • He is an elected official. You can't make anyone resign if your elected. Everyone knew Mr. Sublett before placing the ballot in the box. So it is what it is. next time you vote you may want to consider this fact.

    -- Posted by Franklinheart on Sun, Jul 14, 2019, at 10:17 AM
  • Cler: I don't think "everyone knew" he would't attend meetings after being elected. Is he still drawing a salary and benefits? What are his thoughts regarding all the Cloverdale scandals? I guess we'll never know.

    -- Posted by Ben Dover on Mon, Jul 15, 2019, at 8:57 AM
  • Am I the only one that see's it being odd that nothing was said about the condition of the depot until it was turned over to the town and they wanted to kick Joy Applebee out? Joy and her staff has been in there for quite awhile and I would think if it was in that bad of shape they would have noticed something. Tearing it down is not an option in my book. It is a piece of history. Why don't you give someone a chance to take it over and fix it up instead. Also why is it that every article published about the town meetings, also include Don Gedert's name. Is this some kind of personal vendetta to the person that has probably invested more money in this town than anyone else. You know if all of you would work together instead of against each other, you might actually be able to make some real changes in Cloverdale.

    -- Posted by putnamcountyproud on Mon, Jul 15, 2019, at 12:21 PM
  • putnamcountyproud you might want to check in with a doctor, I think you may have a head problem.

    -- Posted by becker on Wed, Jul 17, 2019, at 9:05 AM
  • *

    Becker -

    What was the point of your comment?

    Perhaps you believe that real change is just not in the cards for Cloverdale. (An opinion for which you may find a fair amount of agreement.)

    But in all seriousness - why attack PutnamCountyProud for actually contributing SOMETHING to the discussion?

    Where is your contribution? Anything at all relevant to anything in the article?

    I too think its unacceptable to tear down the depot. But acquiring funds for the renovation will be difficult and the project, even the idea of it, will likely fail. Such is life in a small town. Especially one with such discord. Still, one can always hope.

    As for Mr. Gedert being continually mentioned in town meetings, I would guess that is b/c its relevant. In this particular case, Mr. Gedert is the head of Invest Putnam. And it seems that Invest Putnam may be involved in legal/financial shenanigans (along with the Chamber of Commerce - i.e. The Merchant's Guild) in respect to the old depot. As there is no direct tie mentioned between Invest Putnam and the depot, one must assume that Invest Putnam was a major player in the Merchant's Guild and a part of their interest in the depot.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Wed, Jul 17, 2019, at 1:34 PM
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