Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County Board of Directors President John Lantz gives a presentation to the Syracuse Town Council Tuesday night. Photo by Denise Fedorow
Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County Board of Directors President John Lantz gives a presentation to the Syracuse Town Council Tuesday night. Photo by Denise Fedorow
SYRACUSE - On Tuesday, the Syracuse Town Council heard a presentation from the Animal Welfare League of Kosciusko County.

John Lantz, president of the AWL Board of Directors, told the Council, “We are working hard to rebuild our reputation here in the county.”

He said they’re rebuilding the Board and have added several young people to the Board. “They have a lot of energy and drive,” he said.

They also have a new executive director, Tonya Blanchard.

“She left the family business to come work for us for practically nothing,” he said. Lantz said she’s put together a good team and has created a family atmosphere.

He said there are a lot of good things going on at the shelter, including the Shelter Buddies Literacy Program where young kids come and read aloud to shelter pets. He said they only had 30 euthanasias last year and a Council member asked if that was a good thing.

Lantz said the goal nationally is no more than 10%. He said they took in 1,300 pets last year so 10% would be 130. He said it takes $77,000 annually to take care of the pets on top of the $4,300 a month mortgage on the new building and other expenses. He passed out the first annual report and said they wanted to be transparent.

He told them last year they took in 50 pets from Syracuse and they were already at 44. He said sheltering is a community and county problem and they always need financial help. He said animal shelters are at the bottom of donations at about 3%. He invited the Council to come visit the shelter and he’d give them a tour.

Cell service in Syracuse should be improving soon as Syracuse Council members Tuesday night approved a rezoning order allowing Wawasee School Corporation to have a cell tower on school property.

The Council acted on the recommendation of the Board of Zoning Appeals who voted 6-1 to approve a zoning change for about an acre of school property from a public use zoning to Industrial 1. Wawasee Superintendent Dr. Steve Troyer was present and a Council member commented he hoped that would make cell service better downtown.

Troyer said that was the hope. He said the cell tower would be used by multiple carriers.

Reportedly, cell service in Syracuse worsens in the summer when the population increases with summer residents.

The Council approved declaratory resolutions for two separate residential Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts for two housing developments in town.

One residential TIF is for the Oakwood Housing Development and the other is known as the Allen Development. After approving both, Council President Bill Musser said, “I think since most of us are not real familiar with what Dr. Allen is proposing out there we should meet with him.”

Councilman Larry Siegel introduced State Rep. David Abbott, who will soon be Syracuse’s state representative because of redistricting.

Abbott said he was glad to be there and told the Council he was “looking for more funding for DNR for lake enhancement. I’m passionate about that — I spent my younger years on Lake Wawasee and Syracuse Lakes.”

He said it wouldn’t be his district until November.

Siegel said when he first went to the statehouse about the conservancy for the dam, Abbott took interest in the meeting and sat in with Siegel and former Rep. Curt Nisly and, according to Siegel, helped open the doors. He told Council members that Abbott headed a conservancy for Sylvan Lake.

“He’s interested in the same things we’re interested in — enhancement of the lakes,” he said.

Musser said, “We always like when a state representative comes.”

Park Superintendent Chad Jonsson reported the eighth annual Mudtastic was held last week with 250 attendees. They’re also preparing for July 4th. He said progress is being made at the new ball field with plans to be completed by August.

He was asked if he had any luck hiring lifeguards and said no. He only received one phone call and the person didn’t have certification.

Public Works Superintendent Mark Aurich reported his department worked hard cleaning up after the storm last week and he really appreciated residents’ patience.

He asked for and received approval to have Pulver Excavating do the town’s sidewalk program for $50,835. He provided a list of sidewalks they’d be fixing. Aurich said the company waived a $7,000 fee since they’re already in town.

Siegel said they need to coordinate with several organizations that are holding road races in town — many next month — so that the roads aren’t torn up for those events. Aurich said he’d check into it.

The Council also authorized advertising for providing transfer of funds for the Huntington Street lift station for $83,200 and will have the ordinance to approve next month.

Turkey Creek Township Fire Chief Mickey Scott asked for and received approval for upgrading their security systems at both departments  for $11,500.

He spoke about the complaints he heard about businesses locking their doors due to lack of staffing, to keep more customers from coming in, but customers are being locked in, which is a violation of Indiana fire code, unless the doors have panic bars.

He said he spoke to some of the businesses but asked for the media’s help in getting the word out. Scott said he sympathized with their staffing problems but said, “You can’t risk public safety.”

The Council made an impromptu appointment to the Board of Zoning Appeals.

Matt Goodnight spoke during public comments, stating how he ran for Council against Paul Stoelting but was unsuccessful. He congratulated Stoelting for his win and shared how he enjoyed his first campaign.

He said he has extra time if there are any open positions on boards. Before Goodnight could complete his sentence, Siegel interrupted him and told the Council that there is an open seat on the BZA and would likely be another one soon. He wanted them to make the appointment of Goodnight right then saying, “I think we have a volunteer here and we don’t get many volunteers.”

When they moved to new business, Musser made the appointment and the rest of the Council approved making Goodnight a member of the BZA.

In other business, the Council:

• Approved an ordinance for additional appropriations for $188,177.25 for the Community Crossing grant.

• Approved a $2,500 application fee for right of way from the railroad for work to be done. Jeremy Hardy, of Commonwealth, said they’d be reimbursed by deducting it from the contractor’s pay request.