Nine new part-time firefighters were approved Tuesday by the Warsaw Board of Public Works and Safety for the fire department.
In presenting the new hire/change in payroll report to the board, Human Resource Director Denny Harlan said the nine new part-time firefighters will “definitely” help at the fire stations.
Mayor Joe Thallemer asked Fire Chief Brian Mayo to talk about the part-time program in the fire department and how that’s being developed.
“In basic watering this all down, we currently have about three active part-time firefighters and they supplement any time a full-time member will go off for school, vacation, sick. We’ve got some that are on kind of like a permanent disability at the moment cause they’re (not) working due to injuries and whatnot, FMLA. So they’ll fill in for the full-timers as we can,” Mayo explained. “It helps reduce the amount of overtime that we pay for the full-time staff as well.”
He said they don’t always have part-timers available, so then they have to hire back full-timers on an overtime basis.
“This office boost up our numbers for the part-time program, and it’s also an avenue for us to hire our full-timers from the part-timers so we get a good look at them while they’re working for us in a part-time capacity and it kind of gives us a look for the future as well,” Mayo said.
Thallemer said Mayo has made it a priority to fill out the part-time pool.
“Absolutely,” Mayo said. “I’d say we have about three or four active part-timers on the roster right now when we used to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 back in the day so we’ve dwindled down to three. So this will put nine back on the roster and bring us back to 12. It is exciting and we’ve got some fresh blood in there, which is good.”
Thallemer said when the part-time program was started years ago, it was a solution to a problem. He asked Mayo what he attributed that dwindling numbers to in the past.
Mayo said it would be hard to say, but some of it may be attributed to the transition in administrations over the last two years, as well as the way the staffing models were worked over time and some discombobulation. Now, he said, there’s more organization.
Thallemer said he appreciated all the work Mayo has done on it. Mayo said human resources and the fire department staff plays a large part in it.
“There’s a lot of people that make it work. A lot of firefighters that have put hours in to bring people on, so a huge thanks to all of them. They’re making it work,” Mayo said.
The new part-time firefighters are Myles Scott, Ricardo Prater, Addison Bryce, Kyle Rowe (also an EMT), Michael Hicks (also an EMT), Noah Brehmer (also an EMT), Anthony Hill, Jeremiah Norwood and Hugo Bautista-Romo. Their hourly salaries are $14.68 for firefighters and $16.31 for firefighters/EMTs. Estimated start dates were Oct. 18.
The street department also was approved for two new full-time employees, while Wastewater Treatment Utility maintenance technician Shane Newsome upgraded his wastewater operator certificate. Matt Dausman is an equipment operator at the street department at $21 per hour, with Braydon Ott as a mechanic at $22 per hour. Newsome’s hourly wage is $24.93.
Harlan presented six travel requests, including one for Angela Howard, senior administrator, Warsaw Police Department, to attend the Central Square conference in Dallas, Texas, from May 4-9 at a cost of $3,397.
Police Chief Scott Whitaker explained, “Our senior systems administrator, Angie Howard, is attending this conference. It’s obviously in Dallas, Texas, but the Central Square is the software that we use for the countywide data management system collectively. The software is updating, the technology is changing, but these resources that Angie has made while attending these courses and the education she’s received in the past, this is the only location she can go to get this specific training. There’s nothing local, so it is a costly travel expense, but it’s certainly well worth it for what she’s able to bring back.”
Thallemer said Central Square is a collaboration with the county and he asked if Howard does the maintenance of that software or a portion of it.
Whitaker said yes, to a certain degree on the city’s end. “It is the county’s software, they maintain it but to keep it up and running in all of our squad cars, in all the work stations, in all the computers, terminals throughout the police department, she - and now Nick (King) - are tasked with that responsibility,” he said.
Everything the WPD does, Whitaker said, funnels through the Central Square system. It’s shared by not only all the local law enforcement in the county, but also with the county and the prosecutor’s office so “everything’s basically attainable through this database,” he stated.
All the travel requests were approved.
A bid for Shelden Street improvements also was opened at the meeting Tuesday. The sold bid was from G & G Hauling & Excavating, with a base bid of $300,722.30 and a total alternate bid of $457,920.73.
Community Economic Development Director Jeremy Skinner said the Warsaw Redevelopment Commission will be the awarder of the bid so the commission will approve the bid and contract at their next meeting if they decide to move forward with it.
City engineer Aaron Ott said he didn’t have the engineer’s estimate to share, but he believed the estimate was below the bid submitted but he didn’t want to make that public at the board meeting.
In other business, the board:
• Approved for the Warsaw Public Arts Commission to apply for two grants on the city’s behalf from the Kosciusko County Community Foundation and the Kosciusko County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commission, as requested by City Planner Justin Taylor.
“They would the funds that they recently received from the state Creative Convergence grant program for $10,000, they would use that as leverage to help gain some local support for a national call for an artist to do a community collaborative project here locally for our permanent art installation,” he said.
While the amount the WPAC is going to request hasn’t been finalized yet, Taylor said he believes they were going to ask for $20,000 from the KCCRVC and $10,000-$15,000 from the Community Foundation.
• Approved pay application No. 4 for $2,703.80 from The Troyer Group for construction inspection services for the Lincoln Neighborhood Sidewalk project, as requested by Taylor.
• Approved the acceptance of a $29,000 grant from the Comprehensive Hoosier Highways Injury Reduction Program (CHHIRP), as requested by WPD Capt. Joel Beam.
On Sept. 1, the board approved WPD to apply for the grant. The WPD was notified the Kosciusko County Traffic Safety Partnership was approved to receive the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration grant funding, which will pay overtime to officers to enforce seat belt, child restraint and impaired driving laws.
Beam said the whole county partnership received $177,763, with WPD’s portion to be approximately $49,000, almost double what they normally receive. Beam said $18,000 of that is for U.S. 30 specifically. The grant doesn’t require any matching funds.