Greencastle strategic plan committees becoming active

Staff reports

Progress is underway for Greencastle's Five-Year Strategic Plan. At the borough council meeting Monday night Michele Emmett presented an update on the committees created to guide the borough to its goals. She was pleased with the number of citizens who had volunteered.

With a council member as liaison for each committee, seven goals will be pursued as the groups formulate recommendations. Council has asked various governmental and civic organizations to put a representative on each committee and is waiting for responses. However, individuals made their interests known and have been accepted onto the following committees: Paul Schemel's Traffic, Karin Johnson; Harry Foley's Infrastructure, Jason Gearhart; Craig Myers' Community Safety, Tom Dick and Sheri Morgan; Mark Singer's Community Development, Jim Thomas, Richard Myers and Karin Johnson; Emmett's Community Recreation, Kim Siner, Richard Wright, Darrell Miller, Vicky Ritchey, Bob Crider, Frank Bock, Sue Eckstine and Lauren McLane; Mayor Robert Eberly's Health/Aging, Bea Hoffman, Wanda Frain and Sheri Morgan; Charles Eckstine's Downtown Beautification, Marissa Burt, Ginny Lays, Tom Pensinger, Nancy Stein, Darrell Miller, Greg Overcash and Lori Facchina; and Duane Kinzer's Community Revitalization, Susan Horst.

Each committee welcomes more members. Emmett hoped to see more young people advise for recreation needs.

Miller shared discussions already held by the Beautification Committee. They had samples of signage for the four corners of town, welcoming people to Greencastle. They want the town tidied up for Old Home Week, with attention paid to the overpass mural, train station, playground and bandshell. "If we get the word out, I know people will step forward," he said. "If we work together we can make an impact."

Council action

A unanimous vote adopted an amendment to the open burning ordinance to prohibit the use of exterior furnaces as a source of heating. Emmett said the state was also moving in that direction, setting strict standards for use.

The Lilian S. Besore Memorial Library board of directors was granted a waiver from a formal land development plan. The board plans to expand the existing parking lot on the south side by 1,400 square feet to add nine parking spaces. The Planning Commission on Oct. 26 had recommended approval of the request. With the new spaces, the library will be able to accomodate 28 vehicles.

A professional services contract for $47,060 was awarded to Dallas Data Systems for a new financial accounting/utility billing software system.

"We need it really bad," said borough manager Kenneth Womack.  The current DOS system dated to the 1980s. The expenditure will be split between the general fund, sewer fund and water fund. In his briefing Womack said $72,000 had been budgeted. Some costs are yet to come with installation, transfer of data and integrating the system. He estimated annual support for the Caselle Finance Software and Services would run $5,000, compared to $6,000 for the current system.

Eckstine agreed with the need. "Anything that saves us time and lends itself to accuracy will pay for itself over time."

Jan. 7, 2010 was established as the meeting date to resume sidewalk discussions. A 7 p.m. workshop will be used for council to address several policy issues — whether to require sidewalks in the borough, where, in what timeline, how maintenance and inspections should be handled, what exceptions, and how to proceed. The next step is a community meeting, then to adopt a policy and draft the ordinance, and finally to host a public hearing before passage.

A formerly planned sidewalk meeting, set for Nov. 9, was cancelled.

Resident Jack Dunn asked why Greencastle Police Department reports were not being published in the Echo Pilot. Foley, Eckstine and Eberly all admitted they liked to see the incident reports to know what was happening in town. Eberly assured Dunn the police had been busy but he would check on the reason. He rattled off statistics from the October police report: one assault, four criminal mischief, five DUI, one disorderly conduct, three public drunkenness, one sex offense and 11 theft. Thirty traffic citations were issued. The report contained numerous other calls and duties for the police officers, which didn't necessarily merit publication.