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December 17, 2007 Tape #026

The White County Drainage Board convened at 10:40 A.M. in the Commissioners’ Room of the White County Building, Monticello, Indiana, with Board Members Ron Schmierer, 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, Mike Ezra, Dow Dellinger, Jeff Woods, Irvin Furrer, Willis Gudeman, and Fred Yaggie.


Chairman Schmierer opened the meeting asking for approval of the minutes for the December 3rd, 2007 meeting. Board Member Heimlich moved to approve the minutes as presented. Board Member Burton seconded the motion. Motion carried.


The next item on the agenda is the Oliver Bell Ditch Landowner’s Meeting.


Several photos were shown of the Oliver Bell Ditch. Surveyor Sterrett explained, “This is the headwall at the start of the Oliver Bell open ditch. As you can see it is under water. When we were out there a month ago there was about a two inch gap in the tile. About two months ago we had a repair where the tile blew up. The tile runs about 1.5 to 2 miles coming in from the west. I think the ditch needs cleaned out. We surveyed one-half mile from the headwall up to 700 West. There is approximately 1 ½ foot coming out there to get down to the culvert at 700 West.”


“Do you think that will take care of it?” Chairman Schmierer asked.


Surveyor Sterrett replied, “Yes, there will be plenty of fall. There is 4 foot of fall in a half mile (.14%).


Chairman Schmierer asked, “Are you going to do it on maintenance?”


“Yes,” Surveyor Sterrett replied.


“Is there anyone here that would like to speak to what we are doing?” Chairman Schmierer asked.


One landowner stated, “I just came to see what you were doing.”


“We are cleaning out one-half mile of the ditch to get the tile to drain. I had an estimate of $2,503.94 to do that one-half mile,” Surveyor Sterrett explained.


Board Member Heimlich asked, “How much is in the fund?”


“Right now there is $9,855 in the fund and we have not collected for 2007. It collects $5,284 per year,” Surveyor Sterrett explained.


Chairman Schmierer asked, “Is it still being collected on?”


“Yes, it would have to get up to $20,000 before we would stop collecting,” Surveyor Sterrett explained.


“So there is plenty of money in there,” Board Member Heimlich stated.


“Yes, we looked up the claims we’ve had on it in the past seven years and many of them were tile repairs,” Surveyor Sterrett added.


“That should stop some of that, shouldn’t it?” Chairman Schmierer asked.


“It will stop it. I had a call from Larry Yerk this morning. He did not have anything against it. I also had a call from Beverly Overmeyer, she was a Bell, and they had no objections to it,” Surveyor Sterrett stated.

Board Member Heimlich made a motion to approve the maintenance work on the Oliver Bell ditch as described by Surveyor Sterrett. Board Member Burton seconded the motion. Motion carried.


“Go ahead and get quotes on it and let’s get it done,” Chairman Schmierer stated.


Surveyor Sterrett recognized Jeff Woods, “Mr. Woods may have something to say about the Oliver Bell Ditch.”


Mr. Woods explained, “We have a farm that the Oliver Bell goes through and the ditch is wandering through there. We are going to start losing property and the ditch banks are close to falling in. I said something to Surveyor Sterrett about getting in there with an excavator and moving the dirt to the opposite bank and put it back so it will quit cutting. Before too long the bank sides will fall in.”


“Are we going through his property?” Chairman Schmierer asked.


Surveyor Sterrett replied, “No, not for this project. I can go out and take a look at it.”


“Go take a look at it and see what we need to do. We’ve got the assessment to do it with,” Chairman Schmierer


“It’s only a couple of spots, but before long it’s going to fall in. It’s where we farm,” Mr. Woods explained.


“If he only has a couple of spots, you could probably just have whoever is working on the maintenance project go down and do that work,” Chairman Schmierer suggested.


The next item on the agenda is Mr. Dow Dellinger to discuss putting a silt trap on the J. M. Timmons drain.


Mr. Dellinger explained, “I spoke with Surveyor Sterrett about this. We started with SFLECC and they told us that since it was a regulated ditch to come talk to the Drainage Board. What we have is that at the end of Jim VanWheeldon’s property that is on the lake, there is a bay that they have used, and that is filled in with silt. He has recently purchased the farm ground just to the east of his place. When I talked with Darrell about the silt build up in there, he said that it is coming from the ditch side, not the lake side and that it is a waste of time without stopping the silt from the ditch to really get in there and clean that bay out. He said they did it once before and it just almost immediately that summer filled back in with silt. Jim said he might be willing, depending on what the price might be, to go ahead and build a silt trap in there. The address is 6197 North East Shafer Drive. It is just to the north of Hughes Cemetery.”


Surveyor Sterrett brought up the site on GIS and explained, “The J. M. Timmons Ditch is a regulated drain all along here.”


Mr. Dellinger further explained, “He owns on both sides of it. The thought was that we would let the engineers tell us where the best place to put it would be. What is on back to the west of the county road is fairly wooded and we’ve been back in that ditch, it’s been years ago, but the guys did some tree work back there and it is really steep; almost to the point where I think it would be hard to maintain a trap that was up close to the lake. We thought that the SFLECC engineer would do it, but SFLECC thought that the Drainage Engineer would be able to tell them where a good place to put it in and maintain it would be. We are just kind of here early on just to see if that was a decent idea to look into or not. We might be way ahead of ourselves, but we just want to see if the engineer can get us a price of how much he might charge to design it and tell us where to put it and how to put it together.”


Board Member Heimlich stated, “I think IDEM would have to approve it also.”


Mr. Dellinger replied, “Yes, I have the manual of how to fill out the application.”


“We have been approached with this before. Sometimes that is where you get bogged down is in all of that paperwork,” Chairman Schmierer stated.

“That is kind of what we thought too. What we also thought was that if your engineer told us a good location to put it we’d start with whatever they said and do the application. So then if IDEM were to come back to us we would at least be able have an explanation because your engineer knows more than we do. That is the thought anyway,” Mr. Dellinger stated.


Board Member Heimlich stated, “It has to be someplace where you can get at it and have access to it.”


Surveyor Sterrett showed a photo of the J. M. Timmons Ditch. He explained that the photo was facing east upstream from East Shafer Drive. He explained that there was a potential place, but that the water moves awfully fast down through there. He didn’t know if it could be slowed down or not.


Chairman Schmierer recognized Mr. Ezra, “Mike, you’ve cleaned lots of ditches. Would a silt trap work on that?”


Mike Ezra replied, “The thing that bothers me about it is that this one is on the list of ditches to be cleaned, right?”


Surveyor Sterrett replied, “I don’t know whether it is or not. I think it might be.”


Mr. Ezra continued, “There are two ditches, the Carter-Hines and the J. M. Timmons that we wanted to get cleaned. I have property that has ditch on both ends. There is two feet that needs to come out of that ditch and I just wondered if the silt trap would be necessary if the ditch was cleaned.”


“It might not be,” Chairman Schmierer stated.


“You have all that dirt that is backed up in there and the water is trying to push that dirt down and out. If that dirt was gone…,” Mike Ezra added.


“I don’t think you’re going to stop the silt from coming down whether you clean it or not,” Surveyor Sterrett stated.


“I don’t believe in silt traps,” Mike Ezra commented.


Chairman Schmierer stated, “But cleaning it would probably help it as much as anything…”


Mr. Ezra explained, “One thing about it is that when you clean it there will be a lot that moves down through there until it’s clean, but once you do that then you might re-dig that section. You might consider the possibility of re-digging the very bottom end of it a second time, maybe a year after you do it, to get the silt out of there.”


“I don’t know whether the cleanout would have to come clear down or not. I haven’t looked at it that much,” Surveyor Sterrett explained.


“There is a lot of fall there,” Mr. Ezra stated.


“Well, if there is too much fall a silt trap won’t do much good,” Chairman Schmierer stated.


“Well, what else are you going to be talking about if not a silt trap, a dam? If you build a dam in it then the farmers upstream won’t be happy,” Mr. Ezra stated.


“Right, we couldn’t get rid of the water fast enough then. We don’t want to build a dam in there,” Chairman Schmierer stated.


“Is the J. M. Timmons on the list of ditches to be cleaned?” Chairman Schmierer asked.


“I believe that the J. M. Timmons is on the list, but I am not sure,” Surveyor Sterrett replied.

Chairman Schmierer asked, “Have we done anything with it yet?”


“No, we haven’t done anything yet. It hasn’t been surveyed,” Surveyor Sterrett replied.


“How far it is from being done? A couple of years?” Chairman Schmierer asked.


“Yes, it’s probably a couple of years out. I think the Carter Hines was petitioned first and that is eight or nine miles of ditch there,” Surveyor Sterrett replied.


“I don’t think it’s something that’s not a possibility Mr. Dellinger, it’s just something…” Chairman Schmierer stated.


“Yes, if it’s due to be cleaned out they aren’t going to want to go in and start working on that,” Mr. Dellinger replied.


Chairman Schmierer explained, “It’s probably something that we’ll just have to wait on until we get it cleaned out.”


Mr. Dellinger stated, “My suggestion would be to see what the engineer says about cost and maybe he can give us an idea of a location that might work.”


Surveyor Sterrett explained that he would get with the engineer and they could get a time scheduled to go out to the site the next time the engineer was in town.


Mr. Dellinger stated, “Let’s do that. If he could do that and have him give us some suggestion and then try to see what we can do with the schedule.”


“Who did you say bought the ground on both sides of it?” Chairman Schmierer asked.


“Jim VanWheeldon is the owner. We’ll see what we get with the engineer and then we’ll come back to you and we’ll figure something out,” Mr. Dellinger replied.


Mr. Ezra was in attendance to discuss the William Marion Ditch.


Mr. Ezra explained, “What we would like to do is get that cleaned. It is the same situation that Surveyor Sterrett says that it would be two years before we could get it cleaned. It is a short ditch and it only has a few landowners compared to some of the other ditches. We would like to try to get this done mutually if we can. So far we have a price set and everyone is in agreement on getting it done and the price. We are here to make sure that there are no problems and that it is ok that we are doing it this way.”


“So what you are asking for is to do a friendly clean out?” Chairman Schmierer asked.


Chairman Schmierer asked, “How do we handle that? I can’t remember.”


“Whatever is done has to be approved by the Surveyor,” Board Member Heimlich stated.


“I don’t think that we get involved other than that,” Chairman Schmierer added.


Mr. Ezra explained, “Everyone is in agreement, unless Charlie (Morris) has changed his mind. I’ve got a paper that everyone will sign before we start the project to make sure that everything is taken care of. The only problem we had to start was with the brush on Charlie and he didn’t want to pay for clearing the brush. So, the rest of us have to pay to clear his brush in order to get the job done. He does want to go completely through all the way. There will be some maintenance that will need to be done on this ditch besides cleaning. There are two sewers that need work done to them and there is a bank starting to wash out behind Charlie (Morris) which he said he would like to have rip-rapped. We were hoping…We can use the maintenance money for repair work, right?”


“Yes,” Surveyor Sterrett replied.


“Is there maintenance money in there now?” Board Member Heimlich asked.

“The William Marion has $5,270 in its maintenance fund,” Surveyor Sterrett stated.


“I was wondering if the brushing could be done with maintenance money, because you wouldn’t have to wait on that would you?” Board Member Heimlich asked.


Surveyor Sterrett replied, “Well, his quote for brushing is…”


Mr. Ezra stated, “It’s all put together, I quoted $1,500 for brush. If I just take $1,500 off the quote and re-quote it without the brush and use maintenance money for the brush…”


“I think that Surveyor Sterrett can approve the brushing and the maintenance work to be done fixing the two spots, that’s fine. The rest of it, just have a friendly cleanout and you can get it done a lot quicker. You’ll just have to work with Surveyor Sterrett to make sure it is correctly,” Chairman Schmierer stated.


Surveyor Sterrett added, “I know there is a tile outlet there that is under water. Mike has worked on the tile before.”


“I think we are good to go then. Does anyone else have any questions? We’ll use the maintenance money to fix where it comes into the ditch. There are two main county tiles. One sewer has been rusted out for years,” Mr. Ezra stated.


“Where is that at?” Surveyor Sterrett asked.


“It comes through my field and then the other outlet that is right on the roadside, but that is ok,” Mr. Ezra stated.


“Have you started on the Esther Fraser yet?” Chairman Schmierer asked.


“No, I have one done, the A. K. Ruth over by Thomasville. I talked with Surveyor Sterrett about it; there is a section that is going to have to be redone. In the little branch ditch, the banks are straight up and down and they slid in. We just need to go in there and touch it up. The other ditch looks great,” Mr. Ezra explained.


“What did we find out from the Pulaski County Surveyor regarding the issue from last meeting on the Helfrick?” Chairman Schmierer asked.


“I called up there and told them what we requested and our office hasn’t heard anything back. I haven’t talked to the Surveyor, Joyce, but I did talk to the gentleman that works for her, Dan,” Surveyor Sterrett replied.


“That one will probably be nasty,” Mr. Ezra said.


“Well, we just don’t do things without a landowner’s meeting and letting people know what we want to do,” Chairman Schmierer stated.


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


Mr. Ezra addressed the board, “I hope I can do this and not step on anyone’s toes. I have a question I’d like to bring up. Is there a way that we can…like this ditch for example it’s small, does there have to be so much surveying done? Surveyor Sterrett just can’t keep up with all of it, it’s just too much and I just think that these smaller ditches that have several…I was just wondering if there were any rules or regulations regarding whether or not some of these ditches can’t be cleaned with minor amounts of surveying. So, in other words, maybe you go out and survey just at stations where there are sewers to get a rough idea rather than the 400 feet. I realize that the larger ditches are quite a job and require extensive surveying, but some of these minor ones that are one or two miles long…it’s a bad situation, it’s just like this one we’ve talked about here. The farmers pay the money in, but they can’t do anything about cleaning it out for two years. I just feel like it’s unfair to the farmer and I am not blaming Surveyor Sterrett because I know he is loaded down, but somehow we need to speed up this process. When you start something that is three years behind, it’s pretty hard to get caught up.”


Chairman Schmierer replied, “When Board Member Heimlich and I first started on this board there were some ditches that were 21 years behind.”


Board Member Heimlich added, “It is timelier now then it was back then.”


“Then people just give up on that. I guess what I am getting at is there are so many ditches out there that need cleaned very badly. If you let those ditches go, the banks soften up and then when you come in to take out two feet, then the banks slide in. If the ditch is maintained where you dig it out, every time it needs a foot and a half taken out to get it cleaned the ditches will stay in better shape and it will be a much cleaner and nicer job,” Mr. Ezra explained.


Chairman Schmierer stated, “I haven’t talked to Surveyor Sterrett lately, I don’t know how far behind we are. How far behind are we? Two or three years? That is minor compared to what it used to be.”


Mr. Ezra stated, “I’m not arguing that, I’m trying to figure out if there is a better…”


“I’m not sure on the smaller ditches; we would have to ask Counsel…” Chairman Schmierer replied.


“I am just wondering if there is a law that states that it has to be done this way or just a county decision that was made,” Mr. Ezra asked.


Chairman Schmierer replied, “I’m not sure there is a law. I don’t know I’d have to ask Counsel, he’d have to tell you statute on that because I am not sure. What you get into is that I wouldn’t want to clean any of them without a landowner’s meeting. I absolutely would not want to do anything without a landowner’s meeting because we didn’t do those before. It wasn’t done before John and I came on. We started doing landowner’s meetings and the communication lines opened up and we had a lot less trouble.”


“I guess the Surveyor could go out and measure the length of the ditch on the aerial photograph and come up with an estimate without surveying it,” Surveyor Sterrett said.


“Well, at least to figure how much dirt, roughly, needs to come out. I don’t know how everyone else figures, I use the yardage figure just as a back up, but I don’t have to have a yardage figure, we go by the footage as much as anything. So what if there is a big hole where a sewer dumps in, it’s just going to be a short section, it’s not going to be that big of deal. For every place there is a hump, there is going to be a pocket somewhere else. I feel like it will all wash out one way or the other that way. It’s just such a long way to go to get a ditch cleaned, that’s the tough part. We have a couple other short ones that need something done to, but it’s just…,” Mr. Ezra explained.


Chairman Schmierer stated, “Well, bring them to the Surveyor and see what we can work out. Bring them to him and see what we can do.”


Mr. Ezra continued, “We have brought them to him, but his hands are tied until he knows he can do differently.”


Surveyor Sterrett stated, “The James Turnipseed, if that is one of them, doesn’t have any money in it. It only brings in $79 per year. So, when it gets up to $400 we quit collecting.”


Charlie Mellon stated, “ Back several years ago when Ron (Schmierer) first came on…We used to have a rule that on a ditch that had really grown up on both sides, it was cleaned once and then if people didn’t take care of it…the people that kept their ditch clean didn’t have to pay. The ditch up there that the lady wants cleaned up in Pulaski County; she has oodles of brush on each side. When you get down to my property, it’s clean. I don’t think that rule should have ever been taken away. It’s happened since you’ve been on the board.”


“I didn’t know they ever had that rule,” Chairman Schmierer stated.


Mr. Ezra commented, “Now everything is on maintenance so once it is cleaned, it’s still up to the landowner to call in and say ‘this ditch needs to be cleaned’.”


“Well, it needs to sprayed too,” Chairman Schmierer added.


“I mean sprayed, that is what I meant to say. Charlie made that comment, but…If a landowner doesn’t call in, how do you know that ditch needs to be sprayed? So, it still needs to be up to the landowner to make the phone call. Now if someone makes the phone call and it’s not done, I guess that would come back on the Surveyor. The way it is now, you can’t blame the county if you don’t make a phone call,” Mr. Ezra stated.


Chairman Schmierer asked, “We’ve been spraying more and more every year, haven’t we?”


Surveyor Sterrett replied, “Yes, whenever someone calls and says that their ditch needs to be cleaned and it’s got money in the fund, I write it down the day they call or come in.”


“Some of these people think that someone else is looking out for them all the time and that just isn’t going to happen,” Mike Ezra stated.


Chairman Schmierer added, “No, there is just no way that could happen. We’ll check into that Mr. Ezra and see what we can do and go from there.”


“This is my personal opinion as a contractor. 400 feet apart on some of these ditches, I don’t know how much more time it takes the Surveyor, but if you don’t feel its necessary I know it’s not necessary on my part,” Mr. Ezra explained.


Surveyor Sterrett explained, “Well, if there is a culvert you still have to get out there and run your levels to that culvert to determine if it’s too high or too low.”


“Do you have to walk up and down the ditch every 400 feet?” Mr. Ezra asked.


Surveyor Sterrett replied, “It doesn’t take that much more time. We have to know the distance between where we started and where that culvert is in order to establish some kind of grade.”


“Won’t this new outfit (GPS) do that for you?” Mr. Ezra asked.


“Yes, if there’s not any brush on it. We’re just experimenting with it now. We’ve surveyed ditches with the laser level and then we’ve gone out with GPS to check and see and there is a difference of a couple tenths,” Surveyor Sterrett explained.


“That brings up another question you and I talked about. Let’s bring it up before the Drainage Board. The Carter Hines is two or three years off from getting done. There is brush on it and there is maintenance money in there. I told the Surveyor that it makes more sense to me to go ahead within the next year or so and try and get the brush off. Then when it comes time for him to survey it, the brush is gone and he can come in and survey it and it will take less time,” Mr. Ezra suggested.


Chairman Schmierer stated, “I don’t see any reason why if Surveyor Sterrett wants to go to work and let a contract for brush, I don’t see why we can’t let a contract for brush. It’s coming out of maintenance anyway. It’s up to the Surveyor, but it makes sense to me if it works.”


“Would it be more expensive to go in and take the brush and then come back and do the brush?” Chairman Schmierer asked.


Mr. Ezra stated, “Not from my end of it. Now there is something in the future that I do…I’m saying this because the ditch is on my property as well. The Carter Hines needs so much taken out of it that I would like to see it stated right on the contract (on the larger ditches) that the contractor goes through that ditch and just dips the center out and leaves it sit for 30 days and then the shelves can dry out. Once those dry and you come in and dip it, the sides don’t slide in. If you take and dip it from shelf to shelf right away in one shot, the water sitting in there…the banks slide right in and you lose some of your banks. It will cost a little bit more in the short run because that contractor has to come back to it, but in the long run that ditch will go much longer before it needs to be cleaned. So, for 50 cents a foot more than it might have cost, you are going to save $1.50 a foot from not having to dip it as often. I’m saying over the next couple of years maybe I should watch ditches and see how that works, but I do that quite often if I have two or three feet coming out. I will go through and dig it ahead. I won’t give it a month, but I’ll send a machine way up front and then I’ll be three or four days behind and get that water off there so the shelf will stay.”


Surveyor Sterrett replied, “That is fine if you are not interfering with the farmers. If you have to wait and you’re interfering with the farmers…”


Mr. Ezra added, “No, you can’t do it and interfere with the farmers. If you send the bids out at the beginning of the year, even if you make a two week period, if a guy starts through there by the time he gets through, especially on the larger ditches, he may not have to do anything but load up and go back and start over again. I just value ditches in that I don’t want them to slide back in. I see that ditch sliding back in really bad because there is so much that has to come out.”


Chairman Schmierer stated, “Why don’t you check into that and see if we can’t get that brush…go ahead and get that contract on that brush. That might be good just to get that off of there. It would make it a lot simpler for you when you survey it, right Surveyor Sterrett? It would probably save you a lot of time. I never thought about that, and if it’s going to be under maintenance then what’s the difference.”


“So, are you talking about when you take the brush off to go ahead and get the logs and brush out at the same time?” Surveyor Sterrett asked.


“Yes, you’re going to burn that stuff. If you don’t take those logs out of the bottom and you come back and dig it, you have all that stuff to mess with later. Yeah, if you’re taking brush off you clean what’s in the bottom at the same time,” Mr. Ezra explained.


“He really means well when he dips out the center and lets that sludge dry off. Mr. Ezra doesn’t really know me, I’m just a neighbor up the road and we are on the same ditch in regards to that friendly clean out. I am part of that. I really want to commend the board on how you handle things and the courtesy that you show each other. I just live across the road in Pulaski County. It is a joy to work with your board,” a landowner stated.


“Thank you,” stated Chairman Schmierer.


“Do we need to get quotes on getting the brush off?” Surveyor Sterrett asked.


Chairman Schmierer replied, “I would say yes, you need to get quotes if there is that much brush. I would say it would be just like a ditch, but just quote it for brushing. I never thought of that, but it would make the Surveyor’s work easier.”


“When you know that it’s going to be two years, that gives you time. I can see doing that on many ditches that you have to clean if there is a lot of brush. If it makes the Surveyor’s job easier, it’s really not going to cost any more in the long run,” Mike Ezra stated.


“What was the big one that we did over there about four years ago that came across State Road 16?” Chairman Schmierer asked.


“That was the Carter Hines. This is where the petition starts for this one, where that one ended on the other one,” Surveyor Sterrett explained.


Chairman Schmierer asked if there was anything further for the drainage board.


Chairman Schmierer then adjourned the meeting.