Safe Haven Baby Box

Safe Haven Baby Boxes of Woodburn supplied this photograph simulating a mother taking an infant to one of its boxes. An anonymous donor is paying to install a box at Auburn Fire Station No. 2 on South Grandstaff Drive.

AUBURN — An anonymous donor will pay to install a Safe Haven Baby Box at a fire station in Auburn.

A contract to lease and install the box was approved Thursday morning by the Auburn Board of Public Works and Safety at its meeting in City Hall.

The box will be attached at Fire Station No. 2 on South Grandstaff Drive sometime later this year, Mayor Mike Ley said.

A baby box “legally permits a mother in crisis to safely, securely and anonymously surrender” an infant if she is unable to care for the newborn, according to the website for Safe Haven Baby Boxes, based in Woodburn.

The organization now has 21 baby boxes in place at fire stations and hospitals throughout Indiana, the website says. The nearest are at fire stations in Angola, New Haven, Woodburn and Columbia City. Three boxes in nearby Ohio communities are at hospitals in Hicksville and Van Wert and a fire station in Defiance.

“Six babies have been surrendered in our boxes in Indiana in the past 18 months,” the organization’s website says. “Three babies were surrendered to firefighters at Safe Haven Baby Box locations. Since April 2016, when the first box was installed, there have been no dead abandoned infants in the state of Indiana.”

Auburn Mayor Mike Ley said that since he took office Jan. 1, three organizations had contacted him about acquiring a Baby Box for the city.

“The third and last one said, ‘We’d like to see one in our community. We’ll fund the entire project,’” Ley said.

The local benefactor will pay a $10,000, one-time lease fee for the box, plus installation costs. Ley said the city will use an installation contractor that has installed numerous baby boxes to place Auburn’s box on an outside wall of the fire station.

The box comes with three alarm mechanisms to alert firefighters and other emergency agencies that a baby has been placed inside the box, Ley said.

“It has an exterior door that automatically locks upon placement of a newborn inside the Baby Box, and an interior door which allows a medical staff member to secure the surrendered newborn from inside the designated building,” according to the Safe Haven website.

The box will be tested several times before it is placed in service, Ley said.

Auburn will not reveal an activation date in advance. Ley said that precaution is necessary because of an incident in another city, where the box was not ready on the promised date.

“A baby showed up that very day that it was supposed to be open,” Ley said. Because the box was not yet in service, the mother safely gave the infant to firefighters.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, the board hesitated before granting approval to close 3rd Street for outdoor church services on April 5 and 12.

Saint Andrew Evangelical Presbyterian Church is planning to conduct worship services in its parking lot, next to 3rd Street, for Palm Sunday and Easter. Auburn Police Chief Martin McCoy said the church intends to maintain 6-foot distances between families.

Board members questioned whether the April 5 service would be a legal gathering under Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive order limiting large gatherings.

“To me, they run the risk of violating that executive order. I think they need to be aware of that,” city attorney W. Erik Weber said.

Board members decided to approve the street closure, leaving the church with responsibility for complying with state rules.

Holcomb’s most recent executive order prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people unless the gathering fits one of several exemptions. It permits religious gatherings that adhere to the Centers for Disease Control guidance on social gatherings.

The board also approved closing the 100 block of West 8th Street on June 18 for 4:30-7:30 p.m. for a DeKalb Chamber Partnership event, assuming that rules about gatherings would be lifted by that date.

The city bought a truck for Auburn Essential Services from Ben Davis Ford of Auburn. The bid was $240 higher than from an out-of-town dealer, but the board said buying from Ben Davis would be more convenient for service and would patronize a local business.

The board hired Engineering Resources Inc. to design a bridge over Peckhart Ditch and an extension of Lenora Lane to connect with a senior housing project under construction on S.R. 8 at the city’s west edge.

Dixon Engineering was hired to inspect the condition of a 18-year-old water tower at the city’s north edge before repainting it, which is expected in 2021.

The city arranged for Atlas Collections to help collect utility bills. Clerk-Treasurer Patricia Miller said a new state law means a city cannot hold landlords responsible for a tenant’s utility bills.

The Auburn Street Department obtained approval to contract for crack-sealing and microsealing on numerous streets this year.

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