Culver Beer Fest given tentative O.K. by council

Culver's town council last week greenlighted a new beer festival in Culver, pending approval from the park board, after lengthy discussion from council members and the audience.

The council, which was technically reorganized but retained Sally Ricciardi as president and Ginny Munroe as vice president,
Tammy Pesek, of the Evil Czech Brewery in Culver, who was accompanied by husband George and brewery general manager Shawn Erikson, said the notion for the festival began last September, when Culver's wine festival took place.

She said she spoke to Culver park superintendent Kelly Young and was reminded town ordinance prevents consumption of alcohol in the town park, where organizers hope the event will take place. She said the festival is tentatively slated for early May, between Culver Academies' parents’ weekend and Mother's Day weekend, on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m.

Pesek noted festival goers would be issued five ounce, plastic cups for a three ounce taste per pour from each participating brewery, all of which would be from Indiana. George Pesek noticed 25 breweries have committed to participate.

Tammy Pesek pointed out the event would likely be called the Culver Beer Festival, as opposed to Lake Maxinkuckee, since many local businesses felt including "Culver" would increase name recognition for their locations. She added tents and tables would be available to showcase area businesses and organizations. She also said it was hoped local non-profits and service organizations could make money from the event through cleanup and other work associated with the festival; the Culver fire department may provide security.

The festival will raise funds specifically to fight breast cancer and for the Antiquarian and Historical Society of Culver, said Pesek.
Council member Ginny Munroe said she felt the scheduling of the festival was appropriate.

"And I'm always big on bringing traffic into town; it's good for the retail shops, too."

Council member Bill Githens suggested Pesek speak to the park board before the council vote on the matter. Munroe, however, noted the choice to grant an exemption for the festival to allow alcohol in the park fell on the council, not the park board.

Audience member Margaret Dehne suggested allowing drinking in the park for the event could "open a kettle of worms." Audience member Kathy Clark noted parks in other communities make exemptions for events; also, she said, vendors are disallowed in the park by ordinance, but an exception made for the annual Lake Fest there.

Culver town marshal Wayne Bean said he was uncomfortable with Culver officers providing security for the festival -- as had been briefly discussed -- given the department's emphasis on fighting public alcohol consumption. He said, pending park approval, he would work with festival organizers to reach agreements satisfactory to everyone involved.

Council member Ed Pinder expressed some concern about alcohol in the park, particularly in light of the proximity of the event to children's play areas. However, he emphasized his support of small businesses and the fund-raising aspect of the event, adding he would not vote against the festival.

Pesek emphasized the hope that the event would bring heavy traffic to town over the weekend; George Pesek affirmed the location -- the east end of the park -- aids in policing the event due to its high fence, and lends atmosphere due to the beauty of the Maxinkuckee beach at hand.

Tammy Pesek addressed some potential concern by distinguishing between a "craft beer" festival such as the one proposed here, versus the "drunken bash" some might think of when they hear of a beer festival.

"We're actually involved in a lot of beer fests," she said. "They're sophisticated; these are sort of what we call 'beer snobs.'"

"These people look for these festivals and come and stay in town," added Erikson. "They typically go to's going to bring a lot of business to Culver in general. Valparaiso has a brewery.

Their festival was packed, and the surrounding restaurants had lines out the door."

George Pesek noted the average age of attendees at such festivals is 35. "And they're high income," he said. "These are not some 18 to 21 year old hooligans trying to get drunk."

The council approved the event going forward, pending approval by the park board, with Githens voting against it due, he said, to his wish that the park board approve it before the council.

Handling the usual beginning-of-the-year board appointments, the council reappointed Tammy Shaffer to the park board. Ricciardi noted the town would hold onto letters from four other interested persons, in case present park board member Leroy Bean resigns this year, as he indicated is possible.

The council approved Jerry Ney and Brandon Cooper to stay on the Culver Redevelopment Commission, with Ricciardi as council president appointing Kathy Clark, Rick Tompos, and Steve Heim to the CRC as well.

Approved for the Culver tree commission were Dick Brantingham and Larry Brockey (both reappointments) and new appointment Kathy Clark. Council also approved the reappointment of Kevin Berger to the Marshall County Economic Development Corporation.

Approved on all three readings and thus passed was an ordinance prohibiting farm animals within town limits and amending the nuisance ordinance to include such animals -- which includes chickens -- as a public nuisance. Horses being used for transportation or to pull buggies or carts were exempted.

The council also approved moving forward towards a storm drainage improvement project in Culver, as explained by grant writer Shannon McLeod.

She explained grant monies totaling $792,835, previously left unapproved by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs, came up available again unexpectedly last fall, according to a call from OCRA to the town hall.

Mark Sullivan, of Commonwealth Engineers, explained the funds would overhaul storm water drainage on the west end of Lake Shore Drive outside Culver Elementary School, where as much as four feet of water sometimes accumulates. Work would move from that area across properties to the west, eventually paralleling Jefferson Street on the south side and discharging to a culvert on State Road 17. A county drain follows the same path, and the proposed work this year would also fulfill an agreement between the town and county calling for replacement of a section of storm sewer there. Total cost is $892,000, so Culver's financial commitment would be around $100,000, said Sullivan.

He also noted timing on the project is "fairly tight," as bids must be received by June 30. Construction can begin within 30 days of those bids, and with a four month projection of work time, the project should be done by November. If deadlines are unmet, the grant is null and void, Sullivan added.

"We can meet that deadline from an engineering standpoint, but we need to get rolling on it."

The council approved allocation of those funds, also authorizing Ricciardi to approve needed alterations as work proceeds.

In other discussion, town manager Dave Schoeff said Culver may be one step closer to in-town, public transportation for seniors following an unexpectedly robust response from residents to a survey on the matter.

Applauding the community for its participation in the survey, Shoeff noted 93 people responded positively to the idea, which would hopefully utilize Marshall County Council on Ageing vehicles to transport seniors within the Culver area around town as needed. Such transportation is currently provided one day per week, something some have requested increase.

Schoeff suggested a work session with Jackie Wright of the Council on Ageing. He affirmed the biggest hurdle in facilitating increased coverage is financial, though the Council may seek a vehicle to house permanently in Culver.

The council also approved up to $600 to pay an interested party, as reported by Shoeff, to digitize past town records in hopes of eventually backing them all up, not only within the town hall, but on offsite servers and possibly on the town website.

The majority of town documents are in the town hall with no other copies available in the event of a damaging occurrence there.

The council also approved $11,820 for the town's portion of purchase of a new grass truck for the Culver fire department, at the request of new chief Terry Wakefield. The township trustee will provide the remaining funds for the truck, Wakefield added.

Culver EMS director Bob Cooper III detailed the previous year's activities in his department, noting he was retained as director at the EMS' November meeting. EMS member Kathy Hart has resigned as a training officer (though not as a member of the service); John Grolich will remain as training officer.

Barb Penrod and Robert K. Cooper were retained as trustees, with Sally Ricciardi added; Brandon Cooper is vice director of the service, which presently has 17 members total. Six of those are advanced EMTs; seven are basic EMYTs, and four are drivers. Ten employees are paid, two full-time advanced EMTs and eight part-time advanced EMTs, said Cooper.

Among accomplishments in 2012, the EMS implemented its new charting program, eMedicReports, through Accumed; started off the year with a major push for new volunteers, which netted seven new members. Five out of seven participants in a Culver-hosted EMT class became certified, and the department updated members' uniforms at the end of the year as well.

The Culver EMS handled 457 total calls last year, including 305 medical, 95 trauma, and 57 various others such as fire standbys, lift assists, and the like, according to Cooper. Of those calls, 180 were in the town of Culver, 127 in Union Township, and 21 in Monterey. Of 59 requested paramedical assists, 44 times paramedics were available, he added.

In all, 1051.5 shifts were covered by volunteers, said Cooper.

During her clerk's report, town clerk Karen Heim was approved for three requested encumbrances totaling $43,098.67, for paving on Main Street and a laptop. Also approved was $968 from the clerk's budget for one laptop and part of the cost of another.

Heim described the remaining balances on various town budgets at the end of last year: $36,088.27 (clerk's); $0 (police); $3,515.70 (fire); $37,187.28 (EMS); $799.80 (park); $105,432.51 (MVH). Total remaining unspent is $183,023.56.