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Officials weigh amending solar ordinance, again

Proposed changes to the recently changed Miami County ordinance governing solar farm projects are headed back to the county’s planning commission for a public hearing.

A public hearing for the changes is scheduled for the Dec. 8 Plan Commission meeting at 6:30 p.m. in the G.A.R. Room at the Miami County courthouse.

The proposal would amend setback requirements for solar farm equipment to “150 feet from the property line, and 200 feet from the foundation of a Primary Structure located on the adjoining property” if the adjoining property is 10 or fewer acres, county records show.

For larger adjoining properties the equipment would have to be placed “25 feet from the adjoining property line, and 200 feet from the foundation of a Primary Structure located on the adjoining property.”

The proposed changes come at the request of the Miami County Board of County Commissioners who, in October, approved a round of changes to the solar ordinance that some felt would be so restrictive as to deter companies from even exploring the possibility of undertaking a project in the county.

The changes voted in during that Oct. 20 meeting require setbacks of solar equipment 150 feet from all adjoining property lines.

“I don’t see a point in 150 feet personally,” Larry West, a former commissioner and member of the Plan Commission’s committee that drafted the changes, told the commissioners.

West pointed out that under the old ordinance, before the changes, setbacks to a property line were 25 feet unless the adjoining property were occupied by a residence, in which case, the setback would be 150 feet. He said he saw no reason why the setback had to be more than 25 feet if the solar panels were surrounded by farmland.

Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority also took issue with the setbacks, asking commissioners to send the draft ordinance back to the Plan Commission for more work, expressing concern that the ordinance could keep companies from even looking at Miami County as potential site for a solar farm.

“We are at a point where we won’t really be able to evaluate the potential impact if we make it so unaccommodating automatically through our ordinance to prevent something from occurring,” Tidd said.

Less strenuous setbacks, he said, would allow county officials and others to weigh the pros and cons of a project once proposed.

“We are talking about the ordinance, we are not talking about a specific company,” Tidd said, pushing back on public comments about projects rumored to be in the works in the northern part of the county, and arguing that drafting an ordinance to discourage a project not even proposed was shortsighted.

“Let’s get to the point where we know what the economic benefit is,” he said. “Let’s not pass an ordinance that is going to automatically prevent something from even coming to the table to negotiate.”

Though the commissioners passed the first round of changes, 3-0, they also voted to ask the Plan Commission to consider easing some of the requirements and sending a new proposal back to them.

If the Plan Commission votes to approve the proposed changes the changes would come back to the commissioners for final approval.


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'Lots of smiles': Parade, tree lighting, open house, mark start of holiday season in downtown Peru; Christkindlmarkt up next

With the flip of a switch on Saturday night, the lights on the trees on the courthouse lawn came alive and the Christmas season arrived in downtown Peru.

“It was the biggest crowd we’ve ever had,” Paul Forman told the Tribune on Monday.

Forman, and his group Light Up! Peru, helped organize the downtown Peru Christmas parade and tree lighting ceremony on the courthouse lawn.

Though usually scheduled to coincide with the Downtown Peru Christmas Open House, the weather had other plans this year. Originally scheduled for Wednesday, Forman and other organizers opted to move the parade portion of the festivities to avoid rainy weather on Wednesday.

That left the open house scheduled to carry on on Wednesday evening.

Miami County Chamber of Commerce President Sandy Chittum said the open house, and the new “clue page” activity planned for participants who made their way around to downtown businesses on Wednesday night, was still a well-attended hit.

“We had a really great turnout,” said Chittum, who agreed with Forman that Saturday, too, was a success.

“I had goosebumps all night,” she said. “For us having to change things it went great.”

The downtown events are traditionally the start of the Christmas season in the downtown area. The holiday lights on street lights go up and the parade brings in Santa Claus, who, from now until Christmas, will keep regular hours for hearing children’s gift requests in his little house in front of the courthouse. The following weekend, beginning Friday after Thanksgiving, also sees the start of the three-day, German-themed Christkindlmarkt holiday festival, another burgeoning local tradition.

Forman and Chittum both sounded as though they couldn’t have been happier with this year’s start to that season of festivities. They both said they’d heard estimates from city officials that the crowd lining Broadway for the parade exceeded 2,000 people.

For Forman, that was just what he wanted.

“Lots of kiddos, lots of people,” he said. “It made a lot of people a lot of memories. Lots of smiles.”


News
Grissom prepares for winter season

While many are looking at the fall foliage, civil engineers at Grissom Aire Reserve Base are looking at snow plows and salt trucks.

The Hoosier Wing says it is now ready to keep the roads and runways clear this upcoming winter season with fully inspected snow removal equipment.

Grissom recently held a snow parade, a vehicle inspection to make sure that all of the snow removal equipment is operational recently.

Inspecting equipment such as snow plows and salt trucks are critical to the air refueling mission.

“If there is snow on the airfield and we have broken equipment, then we can’t accomplish our mission to refuel,” said Scott Nipper, 434th Civil Engineer Squadron, chief of resources. “So, for obvious reasons, we need to make sure that all of our snow equipment is inspected and operational so our jets can take off.”

The October event was the first time in a while that the snow parade has happened at Grissom, but Nipper says that he would like to see this event occur a lot more frequently in the future.


News
State Police step up patrols for holidays

With more expected to travel for the upcoming holiday season, the Indiana State Police is stepping up patrols around the Thanksgiving holiday in an effort, they say, to ensure safer roads.

“Thanksgiving travel is expected to rebound to nearly pre-pandemic levels,” a news release from the State Police Peru Post said. “The American Automobile Association (AAA) predicts that 48.3 million people will be taking to the roads for the holiday. This is an eight percent increase from 2020.”

In response, the Indiana State Police is joining hundreds of law enforcement agencies across Indiana for the “Safe Family Travel” campaign.

“Over the next six weeks, officers will be working overtime to discourage impaired driving and ensure drivers and passengers are properly buckled,” the release said.

The patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and disbursed by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. The patrols will be concentrated around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year’s holidays.

“Troopers will be searching for the few, who endanger the many, by driving impaired,” Lieutenant T.J. Zeiser, commander of the Indiana State Police Peru Post, said in the release. “Officers will also be searching for anyone driving recklessly and will have zero tolerance for seat belt and child restraint violations.”

Officials say that in Indiana and nationwide, reckless driving incidents remain higher than during pre-pandemic times. As of early October, 683 people have been killed in crashes statewide, which is an eight percent increase from the same time in 2019 and on pace with 2020 as one of the deadliest years in the past decade,” according to the release.

“With one of the busiest travel periods still ahead, officers will be working to reverse this trend by focusing on impaired and unrestrained driving, two of the main causes behind the rise in fatalities,” it said.

Of the total number of vehicle occupants killed in crashes so far this year, more than 40 percent were not wearing seat belts, officials say, adding that seat belt use in Indiana has declined for the first time in five years from 94.9 percent before the pandemic to 92.9 percent.

Authorities say that most traffic fatalities can be prevented by taking some simple precautions: never drive impaired, always wear a seat belt, follow posted speed limits and avoid distractions.

“Before consuming alcohol, plan a sober ride home, such as a designated driver or using a ride service or public transportation,” the release said. “Motorists are encouraged to call 911 if they encounter an impaired or unsafe driver on the road. Give a location and direction of travel. Never follow a suspected impaired driver.”


News
Community Calendar

Events and information

Nov. 27

The Town of Bunker Hill will host its Christmas tree lighting on Nov. 27 at 5:30 p.m. at the Bunker Hill Community Center at 208 W. Broadway. Kids and residents are invited to bring an ornament to hang on the tree.

Nov. 29

The Miami County Democratic Party will meet Nov. 29 for their monthly meeting and pot luck at 6 p.m. at 190 E. Harrison Street in Denver.

Dec. 2

Loree Brethren Church will host their monthly chicken noodle dinner on Dec. 2. The November dinner has been canceled.

Dec. 4

The City of Kokomo is bringing back a holiday tradition to downtown with a Christmas Parade planned for Dec. 4 at 6 p.m.

Entries will include local marching bands, service organizations, local businesses and personalities.

Those wishing to participate in the parade by marching or entering a float need to download the registration form and waiver.

For questions contact Dave Trine at 765-456-7472 or at dtrine@cityofkokomo.org. The deadline for entries is Nov. 26.

Dec. 10

Pre-orders for Parkview Methodist Church mincemeat and pie sale are due by Dec. 10, by calling Maureen at 765-473-6706. Items available are: mincemeat pies, $12; sugar cream pies, $10; 9-inch chicken pot pies, $11; individual size chicken pot pies, $5.50. Pick-ups will be on Dec. 15. See Dec. 15 entry for details.

Dec. 11 – Dec. 12

The annual Twelve Mile living Christmas pageant will be at Plank Hill Park on Dec. 11 and Dec. 12 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information contact Kathy Buczkowski at 574-721-6876 or kbutch622@yahoo.com.

Dec. 15

Parkview Methodist Church will host its mincemeat and pie sale on Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1785 S. State Road 19 in Peru. Quarts are $10. Pre-orders for the following are due by Dec. 10, by calling Maureen at 765-473-6706: Mincemeat pies, $12; sugar cream pies, $10; 9-inch chicken pot pies, $11; individual size chicken pot pies, $5.50. These will be available for pickup on Dec. 15 as well.

Feb. 26

The Miami Co. 4-H Council’s 49th annual Pancake & Whole Hog Sausage Day will be Feb. 26 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Miami County Fairgrounds. Tickets are $7. Extra fried patties are $1 each. Bulk meat sales available. For more information, call 765-472-1921. The event will be drive-thru only.

Ongoing

Dog tags are available at the Miami County Courthouse, Room 107, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. The fee is $5 per dog. Residents can also mail payment to Miami County Courthouse, 25 N. Broadway, Room 107, Peru, IN 46970. They are asked to enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope and tags will be mailed along with a receipt. Please make checks payable to Miami County Treasurer. For questions, call 765-472-3901 Ext. 1860.

The Miami County Republican Party holds its monthly meeting on the first Tuesday of every month at 6 p.m. at party headquarters at 171 N. Miami St. in Peru.

NA Recovery Meetings

Wednesday

7:30 to 9 p.m. – Healing House meeting – 234 W. Main St.

Thursday

7:30 to 9 p.m. – Miami Nation of Indiana Tribal Headquarters, 80 W. 6th St. (use east entrance)

Sunday

7:30 – 8:30 p.m. – Miami Nation of Indiana Tribal Headquarters, 80 W. 6th St. (use east entrance)

AA Recovery Meetings

Monday

12 p.m. – Library, First Christian Church Library, 53 W. Main St. (use elevator entrance)

7:30 p.m. – Miami Nation of Indiana Tribal Headquarters, 80 W. 6th St. (use east entrance)

Tuesday

6 p.m. – Miami Nation of Indiana Tribal Headquarters, 80 W. 6th St. (use east entrance)

Wednesday

7:30 p.m. – Miami Nation of Indiana Tribal Headquarters, 80 W. 6th St. (use east entrance)

Thursday

6 p.m. – Miami Nation of Indiana Tribal Headquarters, 80 W. 6th St. (use east entrance)

Friday

12 p.m. – Library, First Christian Church Library, 53 W. Main St. (use elevator entrance)

7:30 p.m. – Miami Nation of Indiana Tribal Headquarters, 80 W. 6th St. (use east entrance)

Saturday

10 a.m. – Library, First Christian Church Library, 53 W. Main St. (use elevator entrance)

Sunday

2 p.m. – Women’s only meeting, Library, First Christian Church Library, 53 W. Main St. (use elevator entrance)

Vaccination information

The Miami County Health Department is providing COVID-19 vaccinations now at the county health building on 12 S Wabash St. in Peru. Vaccines are available to those ages 12 and up on Wednesdays from 2 to 6 p.m. and on Fridays from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome for first-dose COVID-19 vaccines ONLY and only during the clinic times listed above. The Health Department is also offering Pfizer/Moderna boosters but appointments are required to receive those shots.

To make a vaccination appointment visit the state-run website ourshot.in.gov or by calling 765-472-3901 ext. 1293.

Adult flu shots are also available on a walk-in basis during the vaccine clinic times above.

Testing available

COVID-19 testing is available through the Miami County Department of Health at the county health building on Court Street in Peru.

Those who need to make an appointment for testing still need to do so by visiting scheduling.coronavirus.in.gov or calling 765-472-3901 Ext 1293 if assistance is required.

Beginning Aug. 23, testing hours will be Monday and Wednesday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday testing is from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Testing is drive-up only, on Fifth Street.

Those with testing appointments or needing appointments are asked not enter the Health Department building.


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