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August 20, 2007 Tape #017

The White County Drainage Board convened at 10:50 A.M. in the Commissioners’ Room of the White County Building, Monticello, Indiana, with Board Members John Heimlich and Steve Burton, Attorney George W. Loy, Surveyor Dennis Sterrett, Drainage Assistant Mary Sterrett and Secretary Jamie Rozzi in attendance.


Others in attendance were Charlie Mellon, Don Burton, Roger Wiese, Arnold Dahlenburg, Kenneth & Chafica Rogers, Vernon Furrer, Mike Lehe, Dirk Fleck, Ralph Zarse, Charlie Van Voorst, Jerry Gutwein, Brian Furrer, Mr. Purkhiser, and Jerry Altman.


Chairman Burton opened the meeting asking for approval of the minutes for the August 6, 2007 meeting. Board Member Heimlich so moved. Board Member Burton seconded the motion. The minutes were approved unanimously.


The second item on the agenda is opening bids for the reconstruction project on the A.K. Ruth Drain. There were two contractors that have submitted quotes for this project.


Attorney Loy asked, “How many quotes were solicited?” Surveyor Sterrett replied, “Five, we sent out five invitations.” Attorney Loy continued, “We requested five and we have received two. The time has expired for further submissions.”


“This is a reconstruction project, right?” Attorney Loy asked. “Yes,” Surveyor Sterrett replied. Attorney Loy opened the bids announcing the contractors in addition to amount of their bids. The two bids were as follows:


Gutwein Bulldozing & Excavating of Francesville - $15,460.00

County Line Tiling & Excavating of Winamac - $14,950.00


Board Member Heimlich asked the amount of Surveyor Sterrett’s estimate of this project. Surveyor Sterrett replied, “My estimate was $5,987.00 for dredging and $13,000.00 for clearing, which a total of $18,987.00.”


Chairman Burton asked, “Are we prepared to accept the low bid then?”


“You may, if you want to take a quick look at their quotes and comes back to this you may. Or not…,” Attorney Loy stated.


Board Member Heimlich asked if those quotes were for both brushing and dredging. Surveyor Sterrett reviewed the quotes and stated that from the information provided on their submissions that both contractors included quotes for the complete project.


Board Member Heimlich moved to accept the bid from County Line Tiling & Excavating for the work to be completed on the A.K. Ruth for the amount of $14,950.00. Chairman Burton seconded the motion. Motion carried unanimously.


Surveyor Sterrett thanked the contractors for submitting quotes for this project.


The next item on the agenda is the Esther Fraser Landowners Meeting. Surveyor Sterrett discussed that the plan is to dredge and clean the brush off the Esther Fraser from Honey Creek Ditch (Wolf) to the end about 2,000 feet west of 450 West. There does not appear to be much brush. There is $93,969.00 in the Maintenance Fund and the plan is to do this project on Maintenance. Surveyor Sterrett’s estimate is $56,731.00. It is 8.25 miles and encompasses 7,623 acres. It is assessed on a variable rate and brings in $20,191.00 per year. There have not been any collections on this ditch since 2005 because it has been paid up four times the amount it brings in each year.


There were several landowners in attendance. Surveyor Sterrett asked if there were any questions and that he would try to answer them.


Landowner Kenneth Rogers asked, “Who requested that this be done to the ditch?” Surveyor Sterrett replied, “We have had several people…”


Board Member Heimlich interjected, “I want to state before we start that I own land that is assessed on the Esther Fraser so I won’t be voting on anything.” Board Member Heimlich continued, “But to further answer your question, there have been over the last two or three years, at least 3 requests where we have done some sort of digging in places that had been filled in. We have also had a couple people after that come in and ask about reconstruction. Surveyor Sterrett said that there is plenty of money in maintenance to do it through maintenance. So, we thought it would be a good idea to have a landowners meeting and discuss it rather than to just keep piecing out small jobs.


Surveyor Sterrett continued, “Brian Furrer was one and two people on the west end; Tribbett and Cooper. It is pretty bad on the west end.”


Landowner Rogers asked, “What will you do with the private ditches that run into the Esther Fraser?” Surveyor Sterrett replied, “The regulated drains that come into it will be cleaned 500 feet upstream. The private ditches will only be cleaned through to the right of way which is about 100 feet. That is as far as we can go and stay on the right of way.”


“Have you ever thought of making private ditches part of the Fraser?” Kenneth Rogers asked. Surveyor Sterrett replied, “That can be petitioned by the landowners.”


Board Member Burton asked, “What is the rate per acre?” Surveyor Sterrett replied, “It is a variable rate. It brings in approximately $20,000 per year and 7,600 acres.


Board Member Burton stated, “There is $93,000 in that fund. So, really what the Surveyor is asking is……his estimate is $56,000 there is still going to be roughly $35,000. Would that kick the assessment back in?”


Surveyor Sterrett replied, “Yes. Collection stops on this ditch when the fund reaches approximately $80,000.”


Landowner Mike Lehe asked, “You are looking strictly at maintenance here, not taking anything to the original.” Surveyor Sterrett replied, “No. Just dipping, it probably averages 1 ½ feet of silt out and there are probably a few places where there is brush on it at the west end. The ditch is fairly clean of brush, at least when I was out there this summer.”


Board Member Heimlich added, “There were places on that ditch, Roger (Wiese) and Arnold (Dahlenburg) you might remember when that was done in the mid-1980s. Right after that was done we got a big, big rain of about 7-8 inches and there were several places where the brush had been taken off where it filled in right away. I kind of remember that.”


Surveyor Sterrett continued, “We will not be messing with the side slopes or anything like that, only dipping out of the bottom.


Landowner Wiese asked, “On an existing fence that is along the ditch….is that the landowner’s responsibility to remove it and put it back always?” Surveyor Sterrett replied, “Yes, if we dip from that side. Usually we leave that up to the contractor and the landowner to which side it gets dipped from. If a decision cannot be made it would then come to the Surveyor and back to the Drainage Board.”


“Can they reach all of it with an excavator?” Landowner Wiese asked. “I hope they can, I am not completely sure. I think that they can, it is really deep up there by Honey Creek. We did the Bossung that runs parallel to the railroad tracks just west of Reynolds, they were able to reach all of that with an excavator and it is pretty steep down where it ties in there,” Surveyor Sterrett replied.


Chairman Burton asked if there was any more discussion on the Esther Fraser Ditch.


Landowner Mike Lehe asked, “Is this the ditch that the Ethanol Plant will drain into, is that affected?” Surveyor Sterrett replied, “Yes.”

Lehe continued, “Are they one of the reasons that you need more capacity on the ditch or is it just time to do it anyway?” Surveyor Sterrett replied, “We have just have several requests and you can’t do anything up on the west end without cleaning the rest of the ditch.”


Chairman Burton added, “Back to what John was saying earlier Mike, each time we have a small problem coming up; we’re pulling the money out of maintenance to deal with that small problem. There is enough money in the Esther Fraser maintenance fund if we decide to just go through and do maintenance all the way through, instead of spending small amounts that may not be as efficient.”


Board Member Heimlich continued, “There is always a question about maintenance. If someone comes in and says ‘I have this place washed in’, it may be 300 feet or 500 feet, it’s always a question…do we have a hearing and bring everyone in to dredge this amount or how big an amount does it need to be? That is what we have been doing, just working on these 500 feet stretches. Our feeling was that maybe we need to do the whole thing.”


Landowner Wiese asked, “Does the specs also include replacing any of the drain pipes that come into that needs replacing?” Surveyor Sterrett replied, “I have set aside $5,000.00 for miscellaneous to do that.”


“The Esther Fraser does not have a Board other than this Drainage Board, correct?” Landowner Dirk Fleck asked. “No, this is the only one for this ditch,” Surveyor Sterrett replied.


Board Member Heimlich clarified that there are only two of those, the Wolf (Big Honey Creek), and the Hoagland that have separate boards.


“I think it is an excellent idea. I would like to see it cleaned all the way through there.” Dirk Fleck added.


“Obviously with Board Member Schmierer not being here and Board Member Heimlich withdrawing his vote, anything that is being said today or being discussed will just be taken under advisement because we cannot officially move on anything today. I would assume that the next meeting would be the earliest that an official decision could be made,” Board Member Burton stated.


Attorney Loy added, “Or if a hearing is even needed. This is not a reconstruction matter and I think the purpose is to get a consensus of landowners and let them know what is going on.”


“We have done more of these that years ago would have been reconstruction projects, but we do them under maintenance, and for reconstruction you would have had a formal hearing. It has always been my feeling that when you do a reconstruction project under maintenance you should still have public input that is why we usually call a landowners meeting, so everyone knows what’s going on. Also if there is anything we’re not aware of that the landowners could bring up, it allows us to get it out in the open,” Board Member Heimlich stated.


“What is the definition of reconstruction versus maintenance?” Landowner Brian Furrer asked.


“When you are substantially changing the ditch in any number of ways such as the route, going deeper than the original bottom, changing tile to open ditch or vice versa. However, if your work is basically maintenance and getting it back to the original design or grade that is maintenance. Sometimes there is a blurred line between maintenance and reconstruction.” Attorney Loy explained.


“We are not widening or making it any deeper,” Surveyor Sterrett stated.


Chairman Burton continued, “If there is nothing else, we’ll continue until the next meeting.” Attorney Loy mentioned that it should be added to the agenda for the meeting on September 4th.


Landowner Kenneth Rogers asked, “What would the timeline be on this?” Surveyor Sterrett replied, “I had tentatively put that work was to be completed by April 1st, 2008. I talked to one contractor and asked how long it would take to complete the work. He thought he could get ½ mile per day.”


The next item on the agenda was discussing Section Corner finder’s fees. Surveyor Sterrett explained that 100 percent of the county’s Section Corners have been located. We re-witness 5 percent of those per year. However, some of our Quarter Corners have not been located. Surveyor Sterrett suggested that we pay a finder’s fee to a surveyor if they locate one of the corners and brings in the witness to it and records it with the Surveyor’s Office. Surveyor Sterrett checked with other counties regarding how they handle this: Newton County pays $100 plus per corner, Jasper County pays $100, Tippecanoe County does not pay, Carroll County pays $50, Fulton County is just starting to do this and they are thinking $50-100, Pulaski County has to hire a surveyor because their surveyor is not licensed and they pay $5,000 per year to maintain 5 percent of their corners, Cass County does not pay, and Benton County does not pay. Surveyor Sterrett stated that the money would come out of the Section Corner Restoration Fund, which is the fund that the GPS system was purchased with and it is now built back up to $10,000. Surveyor Sterrett wanted to bring it up to the Commissioners to see what they thought.


“How many would you expect that you would get per year?” Board Member Heimlich asked. Surveyor Sterrett explained that they would not be going out and dig them up for $100, as they cost about $2,000 to dig them up. It is just what they might come across in the course of a farm survey or private survey.


“The surveyor is required to do 5 percent per year?” Chairman Burton asked. “Yes, we are required to do 5 percent,” replied Surveyor Sterrett.


“Do you anticipate that they would turn in 20 percent the first year?” Chairman Burton asked. “No, not even that, there is not even that much money in the budget, there is only about $2,000 right now, “Surveyor Sterrett replied.


Surveyor Sterrett estimated that 5 to 10 percent of Quarter Corners are probably located. Those that others bring in would also count toward the 5 percent that the Surveyor’s Office is required to do each year.


“What is your opinion on it?” Board Member Heimlich asked. “I don’t see anything wrong with it. If I was in private practice, it would influence me to turn one in,” Surveyor Sterrett replied.


“Is $100 a reasonable amount?” Board Member Heimlich asked. “Yeah, I wouldn’t want to pay any more than that. Newton County said they paid $1,300 bill one time on a section corner. I don’t know if they had to hire someone or what, but it comes out of the Section Corner Restoration Fund, which is provided by a fee from the Recorder’s Office. $5 per document goes into the Surveyor’s Perpetuation Fund. It averages about $600 per month.


“Do you get people that turn them in now without a finder’s fee?” Dirk Fleck asked. “INDOT does, but that is about it…maybe one per year from the private sector. I don’t see it increasing much,” Surveyor Sterrett replied.


Board Member Heimlich added, “It’s going to be just for someone that finds something within the course of their work. Without the finder’s fee, there is no incentive for them to bring the information and tell them that they found it.” It was agreed by both Chairman Burton and Board Member Heimlich that they didn’t see any problem with offering a finder’s fee.


Board Member Heimlich made a motion to establish a finder’s fee to be paid for those who bring in quarter corner’s that have been previously unrecorded. Chairman Burton seconded the motion. Motion carried. So moved.


Board Member Heimlich mentioned that on 25 South, the gravel road south of his place, there is a piece of metal sticking up in the middle of the road. He had wondered if it had something to do with section corners or some type of marker. It is right after you turn off of the highway, headed west, around the first turn and it would be in the middle of the second turn.


The next item on the agenda was the Clapper Funeral Home (Monon) Drainage Review. Surveyor Sterrett mentioned that Mr. Clapper was not in attendance and that Todd Frauhiger called this morning and he (Mr. Frauhiger) thinks we need more time to review the drainage plan because he was not satisfied with the detention pond elevations and the tile outlet. This review will be moved to the next meeting on September 4th. Todd was going to call Mr. Clapper this morning.


“Is the detention going to empty into the Brown tile?” Board Member Heimlich asked. “Well, there is a private tile east of there because there is an air well sticking up just outside the highway right of way. Mr. Milligan did the plans on that and they ran a tile out of the pond, which is setting on the northwest corner of the funeral home, ran straight south with the highway, and then east-west down the highway. He put it on outside of the right of way. So, we believe that Clapper needs an easement off of Brown to locate that tile. It was going to empty into that private tile.” Surveyor Sterrett replied. (After further review, outlet will be to the Brown Tile.)


Surveyor Sterrett continued, “It goes south there at Buzz Horton’s subdivision, the new subdivision. It is not that tile.” We will address Clapper Funeral Home at the next meeting.


“There is a lot of water standing just down to the east of there across the road. Across from Buzz Horton’s new subdivision,” Charlie Mellon added.


Surveyor Sterrett wanted to update the board on ditch spraying. Surveyor Sterrett believed that the spraying was done. Dan Alexander from Townsend called Surveyor Sterrett on Friday to let him know that there were three places that weren’t sprayed because in order to get back to them crops that were not in the legal right of way would have to have been knocked down. Those three places will have to wait until the crops are off and Dan Alexander said they would do them in the fall. One is over by Ned Fulkerson (Lewis Thrasher Tile), another is C. M. Mertz #2 which is Coble’s where the willows are, and the last one is on the J.P. Carr where you have to get in from the west to get back to it. Dan Alexander said that he would spray those this fall when Surveyor Sterrett notified him that the crops were gone. Surveyor Sterrett stated that he added one ditch west of Chalmers. Mr. Stevenson called and said that ditch (Vanatta Br. #4) needed to be sprayed. Surveyor Sterrett contacted Dan Alexander and he went and sprayed it the next day. Mr. Alexander said that the ditch really did need sprayed. There was money in the fund to cover it.


Chairman Burton asked if there was anything further for the Drainage Board.


Chairman Burton then adjourned the meeting.