GARRETT — The Garrett Board of Works Tuesday heard about updates made to a home at 513 E. Quincy St. that had violated the city’s Unsafe Building Law, but found them insufficient.
Siblings Terry L. Freeman and Lori A. Freeman, co-owners of the home, were given 60 days to make substantial improvements to the structure. It was deemed unsafe and ordered for demolition following an inspection April 24 by City Planner Milton Otero and Scott Lehman, City of Angola building commissioner.
At a meeting in June, the Freemans asked for the opportunity to fix the home that once was owned by their grandparents. The city statute allows 60 days for the tasks to be accomplished, at which time an extension could be given if progress is shown.
Tuesday, Otero submitted photos taken earlier in the day showing a front window had been removed and replaced with a tarp, and a broken, second-story window had been boarded up. The photos did not display many further improvements.
City Attorney Darrick Brinkerhoff said he acknowledges and appreciates some landscaping improvements made during the past weeks, “but we are more interested in the structural integrity of the home. This is an unsafe-building matter,” he said.
Based on its finding of facts, the board agreed to continue the order for demolition. Brinkerhoff said due to lag time for a 60-day notice to proceed with civil action and to work through the court system, the process could take as long as six months.
Otero said he will continue to monitor the situation.
Randy Harris, a resident at Iron Horse Crossing on the north side of town, requested street lighting in the subdivision, which has seen a growth in families with young children, causing danger for students getting on and off school buses on dark mornings. He also complained of drivers speeding in the area. Harris said he especially wants lighting at the school bus stops.
“We have heard you, and we are at least going to do some digging and figure out what we can do or what the options are. You’re are not falling on deaf ears,” Brinkerhoff said. He and Mayor Todd Fiandt have begun researching street lighting and will continue to work with the electric department for solutions.
Harris said developer Todd Ramsey is responsible for providing street lights in the subdivision, but so far he has been unresponsive to attempts to contact him.
In other business, the board gave permission for Fiandt to sign a five-year extension to the city’s contract with wholesale power provider Wolverine Power Cooperative, based in Cadillac, Michigan. The city switched from Indiana Michigan Power effective June 1 through May 31, 2025. Consultant Rod Sibery from Spectrum Engineering recommended the contract in order to hedge price increases until 2030, after watching trends and indicators.
Police Chief Roland McPherson reported officers responded to 333 calls between July 15 and Aug. 4, including 88 traffic tickets and 162 traffic warnings and 10 property-damage accidents.
Officers made 44 arrests, including 18 drug arrests, nine warrants issued, seven traffic arrests, six miscellaneous, three for operating while intoxicated and one for battery. He also reported 119 security checks during the period.
McPherson said 35 code violations were issued from July 15 through Aug. 4, most for grass, weeds and rubbish. Fourteen abate notices were sent to City Hall for noncompliance and $1,500 in fines was collected.
Two new police cars, both Dodge Chargers, have arrived, McPherson said. One is in the process of getting equipment, while they are still waiting for the equipment to arrive for the second vehicle.
Plans are being finalized for a downtown parking lot on South Cowen Street. Otero said the Redevelopment Commission approved funding for the improvement, with a goal for completion set by late October to early November.
Otero reported the Census Bureau is hiring for all positions in the northeast Indiana area. The census determines the number of seats each district has in the U.S. House of Representatives and also is used to distribute billions in federal funds to local communities for just about every social service, including benefits for families and children through subsidized child care, early intervention services and children’s health insurance.
“If a community’s census data is not correctly reported, everything from early childhood education to local transportation, to the fire department can be negatively affected,” he said. “Ignoring the census leads to serious consequences, including misrepresentation, loss of programs and underfunding."
People can go to: 2020census.gov/en/jobs for more information. Information about the census may be found on the City of Garrett website.
Streets and Parks Superintendent Eric Mossberger reported the pool has had 100% testing all year and was given permission to seek quotes for a recirculation pump at an estimated cost of $8,000-$10,000. He estimated the cost at $1,500 to rebuild. He also mentioned the need for a new mosquito machine, as parts are no longer available for the current unit. He reported summer help is continuing to paint curbs in town, with Friday their last day on the job.
Fiandt introduced Rick Vie as the city’s new information technology director. He also noted the last day of the pool season is Sunday, with a teen swim scheduled Saturday night.
Clerk-Treasurer Marcie Conkle reported the utility and cashier offices will be closed Wednesday, Aug. 14, for an Invoice Cloud kick-off.