Get Adobe Flash player


October 2, 2006 Tape #019

The White County Drainage Board convened at 10:30 A.M., EDT in the Commissioners’ Room of the White County Building, Monticello, Indiana with Board Members Steven Burton, O. D. “Bud” Ferguson and John C. Heimlich, Attorney George W. Loy, Surveyor Dennis W. Sterrett and Drainage Assistant Mary Sterrett in attendance. Others attending were John Archibald, Esmeralda Medina, Dan Klemme (LEK Trust) and Charlie Mellon.

Chairman Burton opened the meeting. Board Member Ferguson made a motion to approve the minutes of the September 18, 2006 meeting. Board Member Heimlich seconded the motion. The minutes were approved unanimously.

Chairman Burton opened the Maintenance Modification Hearing on the Julia Connor Drain in Round Grove Township. Surveyor Sterrett showed where the Julia Connor Drain empties into the Vanatta Branch #1 Drain in Round Grove Township south of the old Round Grove Elevator. He stated, “We were going to clean that out. We were going to try to do it on maintenance. Right now there is approximately $2,400.00 in it (maintenance fund). I estimated it at $6,800.00 and the drain brings in $570.00 a year. If we do the project that will put the drain in debt $4,446.00 so we sent notices out to raise the rate one hundred percent which would bring in $1,149.00 a year. It would be in debt for approximately four years by raising maintenance.” Chairman Burton asked if they had any written objections. Surveyor Sterrett answered no. Board Member Ferguson said, “That’s $2.00 an acre and $10.00 a lot.” Surveyor Sterrett answered yes, it was a dollar and we raised it to two. Chairman Burton asked if there was anyone here on that drain. He asked, “So there were no phone calls, no written objections?” Surveyor Sterrett said no, we haven’t heard anything.

Chairman Burton read Adoption of Maintenance Modification IC36-9-27-42, “The White County Drainage Board having heard and considered all the evidence and any objections submitted in these proceedings, the Chairman would now consider a motion finding that the current estimate of maintaining the Julia Connor Drain is insufficient and the annual assessments for periodic maintenance of said drain should increase as proposed in these proceedings ($2.00 flat rate per acre and $10.00 per minimum or lot).” Board Member Heimlich so moved. Board Member Ferguson seconded the motion. Vote taken. “The White County Drainage Board by a vote of 3 in favor and 0 opposed now hereby adopts the schedule of assessments as originally filed herein. The White County Drainage Board issues its written Findings and Order declaring the proposed Maintenance Modification Schedule in these proceedings established, a copy of which will be mailed to all owners affected.”

Chairman Burton asked Surveyor Sterrett if he received a copy of a letter from Randy Moore. Surveyor Sterrett had not received it. Board Member Heimlich said he got a copy. See Tape.

Surveyor Sterrett reported that he has changed his estimate on the maintenance project on the upcoming P. L. Bush Drain after looking at last year’s quote for a similar project. He is raising his estimate from $2,200.00 to $2,835.00 because it is the same footage. He also reported that on September 20, 2006 he got approval from DNR for construction in a floodway for the Big Pine Drain project and it is good for two years. All landowners were sent certified letters.

Surveyor Sterrett opened the Maintenance Modification Hearing on the J. C. Vanatta Branch #1 Drain. Surveyor Sterrett stated, “We plan on cleaning it from CR 1100 South up to where it enters the Big Pine. It is 13,041 feet long. It was assessed at a variable rate, collected $2,050.00 a year. The maintenance fund has $9,088.00 and my estimated cost of the project was $15,489.00 so we decided to raise the maintenance. Parcels were on fifty to seventy-five cents per acre before and we raised it one hundred percent. If we did work on it out of maintenance we would put the drain in debt approximately $5,000.00 so we recommend raising it 100% and $10.00 minimum and would collect $4,151.00 a year. So, it would only be in debt a year and a half. We got a call from Kent Blume on that. He owns this ninety-two acres here. I used the old assessment roll to send the assessments out and I went back and I looked at it after we sent it out and he is being assessed eleven acres here south of the Big Pine and he should be assessed a minimum of four acres. So I am going to change that assessment. And there were two assessments over here on Cain (Charlotte) that went to the J. Roudebush Ditch, the Roudebush runs up here and it does empty into the Big Pine. In fact it runs along the road, and they were being assessed to the Roudebush, after I looked at it, on both of those tracts. So we need to take them off of the Vanatta. And, I think they said we got a call from Brian Mathew. He just wanted to know why he was being assessed ten dollars. He’s got three acres.”

Chairman Burton asked, “Is anybody here that would like to speak concerning this Maintenance Modification? What we are proposing here is using the money that has accumulated in the maintenance fund and after two years………” Board Member Heimlich said, “After two years it would be paid. Are we going to revert back then to the old (rate)?” Surveyor Sterrett answered, “We planned to leave it in, it’s up to the Board.” Board Member Heimlich said, “Leave it in until it got up to the four times?” Surveyor Sterrett said, “Yes, there would be sixteen thousand dollars in there.” Chairman Burton said, “And currently it is paid up and they’re not paying. (The answer was yes.) So even though the rates have stayed the same, the ditch has a good record of actually not being paid because it is staying within its maximum amount, past history. If nobody has any objections or comments……anything from the Board?” No response.

Chairman Burton read Adoption of Maintenance Modification IC36-9-27-42, “The White County Drainage Board having heard and considered all of the evidence and any objections submitted in these proceedings, the Chairman would now consider a motion finding that the current estimate of maintaining the J. C. Vanatta Branch #1 Drain is insufficient and that therefore the annual assessments for periodic maintenance of said drain should be increased as proposed in these proceedings. (Raise 100% & $10.00 minimum - for two years)” Board Member Ferguson so moved. Board Member Heimlich seconded the motion. Vote taken. “The White County Drainage Board by a vote of 3 in favor and 0 opposed now hereby adopts the schedule of assessments as originally filed herein. The White County Drainage Board issues its written Findings and Order declaring the proposed maintenance modification schedule in these proceedings established, a copy of which will be mailed to all owners affected.”

Chairman Burton asked, “Your goal of estimation on proceeding is late fall, early winter?” Surveyor Sterrett said he is ready to get quotes. Surveyor Sterrett corrected previous conversation about dropping the rate back, stating his notes say the raise is for two years. Chairman Burton said, “For the record, it will be that way ($2.00 an acre and $10.00 minimum)………” Board Member Heimlich said, “For two years then we will drop it back to the old rate.”

Surveyor Sterrett asked, “So, the Board is ok with going ahead with the projects?” The Board Members shook their heads indicating “yes”.

Surveyor Sterrett continued to the Consent to Encroach for Esmeralda Medina property to replace an existing mobile home. He showed the Board where the property is and where our regulated Sluyter Ditch is out at Lake Breeze 4 Subdivision, Lot 17, a mobile home park. Board Member Heimlich said they are asking to encroach down to thirty feet. Surveyor Sterrett said that on the south side of the ditch there is a clover field so we could get in to work on the ditch from that side. They can’t set the new trailer farther toward the road. They have to stay back from the road because the leech bed is between the road and the existing trailer.

Board Member Heimlich made a motion to grant the encroachment down to thirty feet to Esmeralda Medina on the Sluyter Ditch at Lake Breeze 4 Subdivision, Lot 17. Board Member Ferguson seconded the motion. The motion carried unanimously. Attorney Loy stated, “I will draw up an agreement which will basically say that it is ok to put it there, but if for some reason down the road if some unknown problem arises and there is a little more cost involved in cleaning the ditch out because your home is there, you will bear that extra cost. They don’t typically give consents when they think something like that might come up. (See tape for conversation on who will sign the Consent to Encroach. Esmeralda’s mother Maria Mendoza has Power of Attorney for both girls.) When you record this, the Recorder will need an original of your Power of Attorney because it will have to be recorded. Your phone number? 765-426-5445.”

A gentleman from LEK Trust asked if they discussed the Julia Connor Drain. Chairman Burton explained that was at 10:30 and asked if he had an objection to it. The gentleman (Klemme?) said no, he hadn’t heard what they had to say about it and he was just sorry he missed it. Chairman Burton explained, “It’s just that the Julia Connor brings in such a small amount, $570.00 a year and we are trying to do all those drains that intersect there, the Connor, Vanatta, Big Pine all at once.” Mr. Klemme said, “You mentioned it’s for two years on the Vanatta, is that true for the Connor?” Surveyor Sterrett said no. Chairman Burton said, “The estimate to do the Connor is $6,800.00 and there is currently $2,400.00 in it (maintenance fund) and it only brings in $570.00 a year so that’s why we’re bringing it up. It’s going to bring in eleven something a year so that’s to cover the difference between the $2,400.00 and the $6800.00.” Surveyor Sterrett said it will be four years before the drain is out of debt. Inaudible conversation – see tape. Chairman Burton said, “Originally the Connor wasn’t involved here but Denny looked at it and decided it is a shame to be out there cleaning the Vanatta and the Big Pine and not deal with the Connor at the same time so this is kind of a big picture project and hopefully you will see some………..” Surveyor Sterrett explained some more about the projects – see tape. Mr. Klemme said he does not object, he just wanted to know what’s going on. He asked about spraying. Surveyor Sterrett said, “We do it every three years, if it is on the list. Some people don’t want their ditches sprayed. It was scheduled to be done this year but we didn’t do it, due to this project. So it will be done next year.”

Chairman Burton recognized John Archibald who addressed the Board, “I’m here as a concerned resident of Golden Hills. In our area which is essentially right across from the Airport entrance, we have a, as far as we can find out, an un-named ditch that drains from the stone barn area, the Airport area, into the canal in the Golden Hills area. That canal is filling up with sand and silt, and we are looking for a starting point. Something maybe that can be done about this canal. I’m getting close to being landlocked. My neighbors upstream are landlocked. We are looking for what we need to do. Surveyor Sterrett said, “It is not a regulated drain.” Mr. Archibald asked, “What about the ditch that runs into the canal?” Surveyor Sterrett said the only ditch that is regulated is the Faris Ditch that is on west of him. He said when you get within a half a mile of the lake usually nothing is regulated. Mr. Archibald asked for any recommendations they could try to work with. Chairman Burton said, “The ditch you are talking about is probably a natural waterway that was there from the beginning.” Mr. Archibald said he believes there is a tile……at one time there was a ditch….inaudible……..up toward the stone barn…..There’s drainage off of the Airport area that comes in there……..inaudible…..As far as we can find out this ditch doesn’t have a name.” Chairman Burton stated, “You see why we use the term unregulated. This Board only functions on regulated ditches where we are bringing in money and unregulated or a natural waterway that was there pre-existing or within a half mile of the lake is out of our jurisdiction and we have no authority over that. That particular waterway, we are no different than you are having any authority or say-so over that.” Again Mr. Archibald asked for recommendations. He said, “We’ve got the lake association and I guess the Corps of Engineers…….inaudible………See tape. Surveyor Sterrett asked if SFLECC is going to come back up in there. Mr. Archibald said maybe, eventually……….inaudible…….is that the people we should try to work with? Attorney Loy said it can’t hurt. Board Member Heimlich said that SFLECC controls the shoreline and they are the ones doing the dredging. Mr. Archibald said, “I think technically this canal isn’t considered shoreline…….inaudible……” Board Member Heimlich asked Surveyor Sterrett if he is familiar with it. Surveyor Sterrett said he just knows there’s canals back in there or a canal. Board Member Ferguson said, “That’s when you go down the hill from the Airport and turn left.” Mr. Archibald said it is right at the bottom of the hill from the Airport entrance. Chairman Burton stated he does not have a good answer to that. Mr. Archibald said he was just looking for a starting point or direction. Board Member Heimlich asked how many landowners?” Mr. Archibald answered, “Right at the present time there are six of us concerned because we are on the upper part of the canal. We’re rapidly losing……..inaudible.” Board Member Ferguson asked if he is close to the property that Mike Piatt used to have, that corner. Surveyor Sterrett said, “… old farm house, right?” Board Member Ferguson said, “No, it’s just as you go down the bottom of the hill, about the last one on the left. Franks lives there now.” Mr. Archibald said yes, just before you reach his house. Chairman Burton said, “Not what you wanted to hear, but that’s our take on the scenario.”

Surveyor Sterrett asked did the landowners get together. Board Member Heimlich asked if there is any way of digging it out other than the floating dredge, can you get in there with equipment? Mr. Archibald said, “I believe with a long-armed excavator could probably reach clear across the canal, it would have to be trucked out of there. I would allow them to come on my property, but the property on the other side of the canal I don’t think would be very conducive, because of trees and the shoreline, to an excavator. The only other option would be to come in on the barge.”

Chairman Burton said, “You see, even if it was regulated we would be approaching it like John was saying to get in there and dip it and then find some place to go with the silt. Your approach would be check with the property authorities and ultimately the property owners would be paying for it even though it was regulated by us, as you have seen today. You could view it that way, that you are going to end up dipping it on your own if you have a place to do it and the funds to do it with, with notification to the proper authorities and permits.” Mr. Archibald asked who the property authorities are. Board Member Heimlich asked Surveyor Sterrett if he needed State Agencies involved to be able to do something like that. Surveyor Sterrett answered, “Yes, just like I did on the Big Pine. You’re working in a flood hazard area probably, a floodway. DNR is where you start.” Mr. Archibald said, “We had a DNR person come out and he essentially said ‘Well, the Corp of Engineers is taking this over and you might talk to the Corp of Engineers or go to the Drainage Board’, he didn’t really give us a definitive answer.” Chairman Burton said, “If he said you’re on your own and we say you’re on your own, maybe you are half way there.” Mr. Archibald said, “You go in on your own and start doing this then someone comes in and says hey you don’t have the permits for doing this.” Chairman Burton said, “Get the DNR to have you sign papers and once you get past that point, obviously he’s trying to push you in a different direction, you’ve touched two out of the three (agencies) so…...” Surveyor Sterrett said, “That’s the way it was on the Big Pine Ditch, two engineers came out, an IDEM person, Fish and Wildlife, and they looked at the ditch and said we’ll notify you within fourteen days, and it took ninety days. And, we had to contact the Army Corp of Engineers.” Mr. Archibald said, “So maybe we need to contact the Corp of Engineers and go from there.” Chairman Burton said, “You may want to repress the DNR issue, he may not have totally understood. Good Luck. If nothing else, return.” Mr. Archibald said the Army Corp of Engineers came in to this for a reason didn’t they? Surveyor Sterrett said they have always regulated our ditches.

Chairman Burton adjourned the meeting.