Centerville’s council authorized a $55,800 study of the town’s water system to find lead pipes and discussed implementing an extra $125 fee for property owners if lawns aren’t maintained.

Water lines

During its May 9 meeting, council unanimously approved a proposal from Lochmueller Group to conduct Phase 1 of a lead line inventory before an approaching federal deadline.

Because of previous contracts, Lochmueller already has records related to the town’s water works. Thus, Council President Dan Wandersee said Lochmueller will be faster and cheaper than hiring another firm.  

The town replaced some of its oldest service lines two years ago for about $2.2 million. At that time, full replacement could have cost $10-$15 million.

Only three of the town’s subdivisions were built after the 1990s, and some of those might even have lead lines.

The town is already gathering lead samples from residents as required. So far, they have been under the acceptable limit, but the level could be lowered in the future.

Lawn maintenance

Some Centerville officials want to charge an additional $125 administrative fee beyond the fines now being issued to “repeat offenders” who haven’t mowed their grass this year.

Gerald Millsaps, who oversees code enforcement, said the fee would cover employees’ time and costs for visiting the property, invoicing the owner, and adding liens.

However, an administrative fee would be waived if owners quickly pay the fee—up to $2,500—and resolve the concern.

If vegetation is at least 8 inches tall, owners now receive a warning letter and 10 days before fines are issued. The last two fines were $250 each.

Millsaps estimates cleanup of one property blighted by honeysuckle and 3-foot-tall grass will cost $1,000.

Town Manager Kevin Slick said some communities already charge an administrative fee.

Because ordinance(s) might need amending, council will consult town attorney Ed Martin before the 7 p.m. May 30 work session (a public meeting).

Before or after receiving a letter, Millsaps urged residents struggling to maintain properties to contact him at (765) 855-5515 and he’ll find someone to mow it.

And, if contacted, Jack Bodiker said some of his fellow councilors might seek volunteers to help someone in need.

“Don’t ignore (notices),” Millsaps said. “Give the office a call and we’ll work with you, not just grass, but any violation. We’ll work through it.”

In other business

  • Police Chief Ed Buchholz thanked the community for supporting Officer Daniel Husted and the entire department as healing continues after the death of Husted’s 3-year-old son Rowan. Husted has returned to work.
  • Wayne County veterans are encouraged to join a 6 p.m. May 20 downtown parade, with registration at 765-277-0199. The caboose in Maplewood Park is open immediately afterward.
  • The stormwater board needs to meet and plan cleanouts to prevent flooding.
  • Indiana Municipal Power Agency’s pole replacement was to cause a westside power outage late last week. Wandersee recently toured Prairie State Energy Campus in Illinois, where much of Centerville’s electricity is generated. He called it “quite an education.”
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A version of this article appeared in the May 17 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.