Kouts loses councilman, gains building inspector

2013-02-18T20:55:00Z 2013-02-18T21:41:05Z Kouts loses councilman, gains building inspectorBy Phil Wieland phil.wieland@nwi.com, (219) 548-4352 nwitimes.com

KOUTS | The Town Council satisfied the need to hire a building inspector at Monday's meeting. Now the town's Democratic precinct committeemen will have to fill the need for a new councilman.

The council voted 4-0 to hire at-large Councilman Orville Jefferson to replace Howard Wandrey, who retired as building inspector at the end of last year after 43 years on the job. Jefferson, who abstained from the vote, was one of two candidates for the position, and his hiring means he will have to resign from his council position because of state law.

The Democratic precinct committeemen will have to meet within 30 days of the official date of his resignation to pick a successor. The council also approved the official job description for the position and the annual salary ordinance setting the building inspector's pay at $10,000 a year.

Town Attorney Robert Schwerd announced the owner of American Convenience Stores finally signed off on an agreement that will allow development of the vacant parcel at the northeast corner of Ind. 49 and Ind. 8.

The company plans to build a convenience store and gas station on the corner similar to the one that previously occupied the site about five years ago. The agreement between the town and the company was reached "at least" 1-1/2 years ago and has needed only the company owner's signature, Schwerd said.

The agreement calls for American Convenience Stores, which owns several such gas stations/stores in northern Indiana and southern Michigan, to pay for any costs not covered by the state for replacing a nearby well. The well is no longer used by the town, except for emergencies.

The state originally wanted the company to remove the contaminated soil from the underground gas tanks used by the previous business. Gasoline leaked from the tanks and is slowly migrating off the site, but Schwerd said the nearby well is not contaminated.

The state allowed the town to work out a less costly solution involving replacing the well and letting the gasoline dissipate into the surrounding soil. Schwerd said state grants might be available to pay for part of the new well costs, but the company will pay anything not covered by the state.

The town's only expense would be if it decides to upgrade the well by adding a backup generator or asking for a larger well. Receipt of the signed agreement apparently means the owner is ready to begin developing the site.

"It's been a long time waiting for this piece of paper," Councilman Steve Howard said of the signed agreement.

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