Culver council members react to election, move towards comprehensive plan

Discussion among members of Culver's town council regarding last week's local election results ranged from praise for departing fellow members and Culver's clerk treasurer, who will be replaced starting in January, to decrying the controversial approach taken to political campaigning here during recent weeks.

At the council's regular meeting, rescheduled from last Tuesday -- election day -- to Thursday evening, member Ed Pinder said he would miss fellow councilman Ralph Winters, whose seat will be taken by Bill Githens (Pinder himself, and council president Ginny Munroe, the only other members up for election, were reelected).

"I will miss him for his knowledge," said Pinder. "He has knowledge of sewers, water, and the technical things we do in town....I really appreciate what Ralph has helped with in these (six) years I've worked with him.

"I've worked with Casey for six years," he added, referring to clerk treasurer Casey Howard, who lost the election to Karen Heim. "She's done a wonderful job and kept us (in good shape) with the State Board of Accounts...I've worked with clerks in the past where we were in terrible shape with the State Board, but not with Casey. She's done all these things well. She's a good friend, and I will really miss her."

Winters congratulated Githens, who was in the audience, for his win, and added apparent criticism of the council’s delay in filling Culver's town manager position, which has been vacant since April. He passed along the current stack of resumes for the position to Githens.
Winters also thanked those who voted for himself, Pinder, and Howard.

"This is the first time I've seen Lake County politics in town," he added, referring to the election, "where half-truths -- maybe even less -- got blown clear out of proportion with letters and flyers and so forth. It was quite disappointing. There are a lot of people I wouldn't want my grandchildren associated with...and other individuals' grandchildren associated with. I am quite disappointed and disgusted at the level this campaign went at."

At least one "Amen" was audible from the audience.

Pinder added he's gone through the 35 current town manager resumes, noting with the previous batch of resumes -- from which no manager was chosen -- council members have poured through 90 resumes in all.

"It's not much fun trying to find somebody to fit Culver," he said.
Council member Sally Ricciardi agreed the task of finding a manager "may be hard, but it's something we have to keep working toward."

Member Lynn Overmyer said she wasn't impressed with many of the present set of resumes.

"On the other side, I wonder how a town manager will fare with a new clerk treasurer," Overmyer added. "She won't know anything, and (the manager) won't...do we need to wait until she knows what she's doing before we hire?"

Overmyer also suggested town records stored in various locations around the building, due to a lack of adequate space in the clerk's office, should be brought to Howard's office for the benefit of Heim, a move the council formally approved.

In other actions, grant writer Shannon McLeod, with Priority Project Resources, discussed a request from the council that she look into the specifics of creating a new comprehensive plan to replace Culver's existing plan, which it was noted is over a decade old.

McLeod noted any more pressing projects needing grant funding should probably take priority over the comprehensive plan, since the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs only allows two unfinished grants to be in process at a time from a given municipality. She noted $50,000 is the maximum amount the town can request towards the comprehensive plan, alongside which the town will need to provide a 10 percent match. That approximately $5,000 will go towards Project Priority Resources' fees, she explained, including $1,000 to write, and $5,000 to administer the grant. The study towards the plan must be completed within a year, she added, and several public hearings and meetings will be part of the process.

It was agreed Culver's Second Century Committee, Chamber of Commerce, and the Lake Maxinkuckee Environmental Council should be centrally involved in the plan, which Winters suggested should be coordinated with plan commission members Kevin Berger -- who suggested the plan be updated -- and Bill Cleavenger.

The council passed on first reading rezoning of several properties in Culver, following a public hearing at its previous meeting. Final readings will take place at future meetings.

A meeting involving Culver's downtown merchants is scheduled for Dec. 6 at 4 p.m., according to utilities manager Bob Porter, who explained the meeting pertains to the grant-funded downtown revitalization project slated to begin next year. A public hearing will take place following that meeting, at 5 p.m.

Chief of police Wayne Bean asked the council to consider defining fines for various infractions presently left up to council by town ordinance, a matter brought to the fore at the last meeting when council members debated specific fines for a burning violation.
It was agreed a work session would be held to work through the various infractions and determine appropriate fines, with Bean present, on Nov. 15.

Bean also explained the police force is due to turn in its firearms for upgraded weapons, since they're now 10 to 11 years old. He noted his department generally works with the Marshall County sheriff's department to ensure weapons, magazines, and other equipment is interchangeable. The council approved a trade-in he said he felt is "a good deal," which reduces the $1,900 cost of four firearms to just $576, after trade-in of the older weapons.

The council also approved placing a crosswalk near the town park on Lake Shore Drive, at the curve nearest the Edgewater Grille restaurant, actually a return to a once-existent crosswalk some residents had suggested be revived.