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TMCNet:  City Council hears 3 annual reports

[January 30, 2013]

City Council hears 3 annual reports

WASHINGTON, Jan 29, 2013 (Washington Times-Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- At Monday's Washington City Council meeting, the councilmen -- minus Eric Bassler, who could not be present -- heard 2012 annual report summaries from Building Commissioner Terry Wininger, Fire Chief David Rhoads and Police Chief Mike Healy.

Wininger dedicated his year-end report to the memory of the late Building Commissioner Chris Wimmenauer, who died unexpectedly in September while serving the city in that capacity. Wininger said 463 building permits were issued in 2012. Of those, 15 were for new residences, seven new nonresidential buildings, 29 other nonresidential buildings, 24 residential additions, 52 residential garages and carports, three nonresidential additions, and 353 other permits and applications. Permit fees totaled $10,783.86.

There were 278 clean-up orders related to grass, weed and junk complaints, according to Wininger, with 189 completed by the owners and 89 mowed/cleaned up by the city. The street department was reimbursed $11,304 for its labor, he said.

Twenty-four structures were demolished by the owners, and two were demolished by the city. Compared to 2011, construction of new residences was down and new commercial construction stayed even. Residential additions were up by one; commercial additions remained the same; and garage/carport additions were up significantly. Another area that showed a significant increase was reroofing, with 227 new roofs put on in 2012 compared to 78 in 2011. Twice as many pools were installed in 2012. Though the number of permits was up in 2012, the amount of permit fees collected was slightly lower than in 2011.

"We were down about 145 calls from last year," Rhoads told the council as he began his report.

The Washington Fire Department responded to 1,138 incidents in 2012, he said. There were 102 fire alarms; 34 structure fires; 11 vehicle and mobile property fires; 10 grass and brush fires; 19 rubbish, trash and waste fires; eight other special fire incidents; six auto accidents; 30 hazardous conditions including fuel spills, gas leaks and electrical problems; 16 carbon monoxide responses; EMS assists and rescues; 212 service calls and good intent calls; five false alarms; 144 other fire calls; and no mutual aid calls.

"Hazardous materials and hazardous conditions responses remained nearly the same as past years and that trend is expected to continue due to new regulations and community awareness," Rhoads wrote in his report summary.

He said EMS calls accounted for 60 percent of their runs, and their quick response time saved lives. There was one civilian death due to fire in 2012, Rhoads said, and four line-of-duty injuries. Two structure fires were intentionally set and were investigated by the State Fire Marshal's Office.

The fire chief said the department's Fire Prevention Program has been a great program for local schoolchildren for 22 years, with 1,400 children seeing fire safety and prevention demonstrations in 2012. The department also offers fire safety and fire extinguisher training video programs to area schools, industries and healthcare facilities upon request.

A new fire truck was ordered and is expected to arrive in August, according to Rhoads.

The Washington Police Department saw an increased number of calls in 2012, according to Healy, who said there was a total of 15,431 complaints. Of those, 4,020 were 911 calls. There were 321 accidents investigated and 2,556 arrests made.

The detective division logged 362 pieces of evidence and investigated 335 cases, the chief said, with 322 cases effectively cleared for a 96 percent clearance rate. Detectives made a combined 17 trips to the Indiana State Police lab in Evansville with evidence to be analyzed, conducted five voice stress analysis exams and completed almost 258 hours of in-service training.

"Members of the Washington Police Department completed 2,720 hours of training, including 400 hours of firearms training," Healy stated in his report, adding that the Emergency Response Team completed 210 training hours and other training was completed in terrorism, drug investigation, CVSA, breathalyzer, search and seizure, school tactics, defensive tactics, traffic stops, legal aspects, crime scene processing and investigation, emergency response, hazardous materials, first aid and blood-borne pathogens.

The department also participated in the RSVP Drug Toss and placed a drug toss box in city hall. Officers conducted safety and security programs, child fingerprinting and proper car seat placement for community residents and provided traffic control for civic events. They also promoted and worked with local schools in many facets, according to the chief, who added that the job-shadow program will not be offered any longer at the advice of the department's insurance carrier.

In addition, the department's three K -9 officers and their handlers, along with Assistant Chief Todd Church, trained five to six hours weekly. The K-9 units assisted in numerous searches and worked with other law-enforcement agencies.

"Two new police officers were hired in 2012," Healy said,"and currently the police department is in the process of hiring a new police officer. The Washington Police Department has two reserve officers who have gone through the 40-hour pre-basic training, as well as firearms, and other training the police officers go through at the monthly training." Healy updated the council on new equipment purchased or needed. He also explained that WPD dispatchers are trained in CPR, emergency medical dispatch and the IDACS/NCIC computer program, and they're recertified every two years. Healy said the dispatchers are also trained in several criminal justice aspects.

"The records and reports in the IDACS/NCIC computer were audited and were in compliance," Healy said in his report.

In other business * City attorney Tim Dant read a resolution establishing the amount of payment in lieu of taxes to be collected from Washington Municipal Utilities for 2013. Mayor Joe Wellman explained each of the three utilities pay an amount to the city's General Fund equal to what they'd pay in taxes if they were for-profit entities. For the Light and Power Department, the amount is $107,543.67; it's $295,784.98 for the Water Works Department; and $291,612.50 for the Waste Water/Storm Water Department, for a $696,941.15 grand total.

* Wellman announced a public hearing by INDOT on the US 50/Business 50 intersection move. It will be at 6 p.m. Thursday in City Council Chambers, and the public will be able to see the plans and give input.

Board of Public Works and Safety * A transformer agreement was presented and approved for the Ride Solutions expansion at E. Main and 11th streets.

* The board voted to advertise for sale 35.6 acres of excess land the water department has out by the wells.

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