County commits $89,000 to Big Walnut Water funding

Monday, May 6, 2024
Putnam County Courthouse

The request of help from a local water company did not go unheard by the Putnam County Commissioners.

On Monday, commissioners David Berry and Tom Helmer committed to investing $89,700 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to perform an emergency repair on a Big Walnut Water line that runs under the creek of the same name in northern Greencastle Township.

Spring floods have caused erosion on the northwest bank of Big Walnut Creek just upstream Dunbar Bridge, exposing a six-inch water line that serves customers to the north of that location.

Should the water line break, it would knock out water service to nearly all of Big Walnut’s 223 meters, which serve between 600 and 700 people, plus the Madison Township Fire Department.

The work will include a directional bore of approximately 900 feet for a six-inch water line.

The line runs north away from Greencastle and runs under the creek and then follows the dead-end road that runs on the far side of the creek.

Big Walnut Water President Jeff Mace noted that with the funding in place, the work will be performed as soon as possible.

The utility provider had already been working with Midwestern Engineers on an overall upgrade to its water system, but this particular problem needs to be addressed sooner.

County Engineer Jim Peck said the Putnam County Highway Department will not be involved in the work unless assistance is needed.

The expenditure leaves only about $10,000 in the county ARPA fund.

Peck reported on some short-term and long-term projects moving forward

Among these is that consultants have submitted letters of interest to begin work a curve correction on Manhattan Road and the countywide sign inventory, both of which are federal aid programs.

Peck said that a committee including himself, Highway Director Clint Maddox and Helmer would review and the proposals, submitting their assessments to the Indiana Department of Transportation.

Peck also noted that bids for the 2024 Community Crossings work will be opened at the Monday, May 20 meeting with the bid awarded on Monday, June 3.

The 2024 Community Crossings grant represents $1.5 million of a total $2 million project to repave 14.4 miles of county road in Franklin, Floyd and Washington townships.

In terms of in-house paving work, Peck reported it will start on May 15. There was some disagreement during the meeting over where paving will begin, but it was ultimately decided it will start in the northern part of the county before the railroad crossing on U.S. 231 in northern Greencastle is closed for 45 days due to state repaving work on that road.

In other business, the commissioners:

• Approved an ordinance establishing a cumulative fire fund for Floyd Township, which will have to be reviewed by the state before it receives final approval.

However, the Putnam County Council also still has a say both in establishing the fund and at what rate. That decision is set for Tuesday, May 13.

• Approved continuing the county dust control program in 2024. The program, which sets aside $15,000 in county highway funds, shares the cost with property owners on the application of a soy-based oil to keep dust down during the summer months.

The county pays 25 percent of the fee while the property owner pays the remaining 75 percent.

Contractor Lee Hoopingarner took over the service from his retired father Loren Hoopingarner in 2023.

“Last year was very good. We had no complaints,” Peck said.

Hoopingarner said this was in part due to his decision not to work with customers who had previously been problematic.

Additionally, there were apparently fewer complaints from motorists of oil on their cars, as they apparently stuck more closely to the posted temporary speed limits in the aftermath of such applications.

Joining Berry, Helmer and Peck for the meeting were Auditor Kristina Berish and County Attorney Jim Ensley. Commissioner Rick Woodall was absent.

The next meeting of the Putnam County Commissioners is set for 9 a.m. on Tuesday, May 20.

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