Trustee State of Wabash Township
Summary: Wabash Township has been able to expand assistance to our residents-in-need through this pandemic with assistance from state and federal aid. We have also continued the long-term project of moving from a 95% volunteer to 75% volunteer fire and emergency service provider with the addition of 2 new paid fire personnel as well as health insurance for all full-time employees.
Wabash Township continues to focus on helping our residents in need. In 2019 we were able to more than double direct township assistance from $16,416 in 2018 to $37,282 in 2019.
In 2020, new sources of aid were made available by the state and federal governments to our residents due to the Covid emergency. Therefore, in accordance with our township assistance guidelines, we referred our residents to those new sources of funding. They include: Indiana State Rental Assistance program, Bauer Family Fund, United Way (Covid) Housing Hotline, and Area 4 Utility Assistance Program. As well as our usual county resources including; Salvation Army, Mary T Klinker Veterans Resource Center, Lafayette Urban Ministries, and Lafayette Transitional Housing. Through these referrals we estimate we were able to help 108 residents with an estimated value of $78,000, double what we were able to do directly in 2019.
In addition, we looked for new opportunities to assist our residents. These include assisting with the execution of the Indiana State Rental Assistance program and meeting with Patty Useem from LUM regarding their interest in using our space for a West Lafayette food pantry. We remain open to future discussions on how we can best serve the township.
With the anticipated end of the eviction moratorium later in 2021, we will continue to work with other agencies to leverage our existing funds as much as possible and seek additional guidance from the Wabash Township Board.
Fire and Emergency Services
In 2019, the board approved an emergency loan to meet the fire and emergency service needs of our growing township. As a result, we were able to offer health insurance to all our paid fire department staff for the first time. We were also able to hire 2 new fire personnel, thus doubling our professional force. We currently are advertising for a new fire chief and hope to have that position filled by the second quarter of 2021. In 2020, the board approved a second emergency loan that will allow us to continue supporting the staff, health insurance benefits and getting a 1977 (Fire & Emergency Service) Retirement Fund established.
In 2021 we plan to hire 2 additional paid fire personnel as well as begin the process of transitioning from a township led volunteer fire department to a fire district with a 75% paid fire department.
Deputy Chief Jim Lewis 2020 Report
Wabash Township Fire Department has had another busy year. We are at 1,174 runs this year compared to 1,316 runs in 2019. We doubled our paid staff and went on 24 hour shifts for better response time. We added a second quick response vehicle to help better serve our community. Our members have spent 1500 hours of training to improve their skills and increase their knowledge to serve our community better and for the future. We have made tremendous strides in working agreements with our partners in West Lafayette, Lafayette, Battle Ground and Purdue that will help all of us serve our communities better and faster. This is something that I have promoted for over 15 years and had me thinking it may never happen, but it will start early next year. We have faced the unusual task of responding to medical runs in the middle of a pandemic while protecting our staff from contracting the disease. We did this by developing a comprehensive plan to help our neighbors while still making sure we were safe and continue to do so until the pandemic is mitigated. We have one of the most diverse and dedicated Departments in the country and I am proud of all of them.
The township is responsible for the management and maintenance of 4 cemeteries: Sand Ridge Cemetery, Burton Cemetery, Hebron Cemetery, and McCormick Cemetery.
We are working on an agreement with NICHES land trust at the Sand Ridge Cemetery where they will help with maintenance of the property in exchange for protecting natural areas of the cemetery. They have been collecting seeds from the property for use in restorations at their Granville Sand Barrens property in western Tippecanoe County.
We hired a veteran-owned company to maintain and improve our other cemeteries.