Warsaw Police Dept. Adding Officers To Its Ranks

A handful of probationary full-time patrol officers will be joining the Warsaw Police Department.

As part of Human Resource Director Jennifer Whitaker’s new hire/change in payroll report to the Board of Public Works and Safety on Friday, she said five officers will come on board at the first part of December, about Dec. 6.

“We have a couple lateral transfers that are coming over, that’s why you see a little bit of a pay increase, or a pay difference, is because the way our salary ordinance is set up, it does allow for longevity credit up to five years,” she said.

The five officers will include Sam Bohnke, biweekly pay of $2,288.68; Brandon Fugate, $2,200.64; Dustin Kreft, $2,200.64; Jeremy Rau, $2,200.64; and Ryan Piper, $2,244.66.

Mayor Joe Thallemer said, “It’s really gratifying to see the five probationary police officers being hired and brought in. I know it’s been a difficult road, but … the committee did a great job bringing those folks in and I’m just thrilled at the results, so thank you, Chief, your department for that.”

After the meeting, in an email, Police Chief Scott Whitaker explained that WPD hired a lateral transfer last week, “so technically we’re adding six probationary officers from this current process and within a month of each other.”

These six officers bring WPD’s count to 37. The Department’s full complement is 42.

City Planner Justin Taylor presented a pay application for $3,970 from The Troyer Group for the right-of-way services for the Lincoln neighborhood sidewalk project.

“We’re in the process of acquiring properties. We just acquired about eight and we’re going to do another six-ish properties for that project,” Taylor said. The pay application is for “all that paperwork involved in acquiring those properties.”

He said the project is scheduled to go out to bid in February and go under construction in the summer.

It is an 80/20 Indiana Department of Transportation project, meaning INDOT will pay for 80% of the costs.

After the Board of Works approved that pay application, Taylor presented an agreement between the city and USI Consultants Inc. to examine elements of the city’s aging downtown streetscape and provide professional solutions on how best to maintain and build on what the city has.

Taylor said the last time beautification was done was about 20 years ago.

Thallemer said, “We’ve got to look at our downtown streetscapes in 2020 as part of the Hyatt Palmer study. Those were put in and they are 20 years old. There’s potentially some things we can do better, so we’ll take a good look at that and certainly develop a plan to rehabilitate the issues.”

Taylor said $20,000 was added to the proposal to look at the whole streetscape instead of just the crosswalk portion. The city also asked USI to add in a public meeting portion to it for public input as requested by the Warsaw Common Council.

Total project cost is $59,200.

Thallemer asked Taylor to provide an update on the downtown tree replacement.

Taylor said, “We’re going to replace about 16 trees this fall yet, believe it or not. We’re going off the advice of our landscaper and they will take a look at it. They think we can plant up through the early weeks of December, if the weather holds up.”

If, for some reason, the city can’t replace those 16 trees this fall, Taylor said they will do it in the spring.

The Board of Works approved the agreement with USI.

In other business, the Board approved:

• The agreement between the city and Warsaw Community Schools for jointly purchasing ice-melting materials. Nothing in the agreement has changed over the prior years, and the city and WCS have done the agreement for at least 18 years.

• The agreement between the city and G & G Hauling & Excavating for the reconstruction of Country Club Lane Country Club Lane extension intersection at a cost of $425,348. The bid was awarded at the previous Board of Works meeting.

The project may begin in February, but must be completed before lake levels are raised in early May, according to Brian Davison, utility superintendent.

• Accepting a drainage easement from Sherri Makinson for Kelly Park so the city can run that water onto the property, Davison said. The cost for the easement to the city was $20,000.

• Accepting utility easements from 403 N. Maple Ave. LLC and Matthew D. Wolf to allow the city to get public sewer closer to the edge of Wolf’s parcel.

• A State Revolving Fund disbursement for reimbursement of $260,919.34.

Davison said, “This is from the lining project that actually finished in ’20. And we had ($260,919.34) left. We wanted to spend that on more lining. There is so many hoops to jump through, SRF suggested we just request – these funds are we spent on the front end before we had the loan. So, essentially, we’re asking for those funds to be reimbursed and we’re going to reinvest into more lining. So it’s just a way  for us to get these funds back so we can use them for lining projects.”

Clerk-Treasurer Lynne Christiansen said it will close out the loan.