THE JASPER-NEWTON COUNTY JOINT DRAINAGE BOARD MET ON TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23, 2014 AT 9:00 A.M. IN THE COMMISSIONERS ROOM, JASPER COUNTY COURTHOUSE, RENSSELAER, INDIANA WITH THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS PRESENT: RICHARD MAXWELL (CHAIRMAN-JASPER COUNTY), KENDELL CULP (MEMBER-JASPER COUNTY), MICKEY REED (MEMBER-NEWTON COUNTY). ALSO PRESENT WERE VINCE URBANO (SURVEYOR OF RECORD-JASPER COUNTY), JOHN CASEY (ATTORNEY-JASPER COUNTY), AND RHONDA ELDRIDGE (SECRETARY-JASPER COUNTY). ABSENT WAS TIM DRENTH (MEMBER-NEWTON COUNTY) AND JOHN HEIMLICH (FIFTH MEMBER-WHITE COUNTY). Chairman, Richard Maxwell called the meeting to order.
DEHAAN DITCH – DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS IN NEWTON COUNTY
RANDY PETERSON – ABONMARCHE CONSULTANTS, L.L.C. Randy Peterson, Abonmarche Consultants, L.L.C. gave an update on the Wetland Delineation project they have been working on. The profile, the plans, and the surveying of the DeHaan Ditch in Newton County have been completed for some time. Per a contract with Newton County Drainage Board, proceedings have taken place with delineating wetlands along the entire project length of the DeHaan Ditch in Newton County.
Peterson stated he just received the final report from a sub-contractor, Soil Solutions, Inc. of Valparaiso of the wetland delineation. An onsite meeting between Soil Solutions, Inc. and the Army Corp of Engineers is scheduled for October 1, 2014.
Peterson stated he has plans for review on the DeHaan Ditch project in Newton County available for the Surveyor of Record, Vince Urbano. The plans are ready for bidding purposes and they reflect the wetlands as they were delineated. These plans consist of the legal drain as well as the other easements which are associated with the DeHaan Ditch in Newton County.
Peterson stated as you near the Kankakee River, the DeHaan Ditch splits into two channels. One of the channels is inactive currently and the other is active. There is reason to believe the inactive channel was the original ditch, which would still have the statutory legal drain easement crossing. It was found there was another easement issued for the other channel which is reflected on the plans.
Peterson stated all the documentation required by the Army Corp of Engineers and the Department of Natural Resources are in place.
Peterson presented the board with a cross-section of the wetlands. Vince Urbano inquired if taking the cross-sections of the wetlands areas was something Abonmarche Consultants, L.L.C. compiled. Peterson responded Soil Solutions, Inc. was hired (wetland specialist and soil scientist) to delineate the wetland areas, although, ultimately it is still the Army Corp of Engineers call as to where the wetland lines are, so the lines determined by Soil Solutions, Inc. could be adjusted slightly.
Peterson stated, in general, the channels where there is water, it is considered waters of the United States, therefore, those are jurisdictional wetlands. Also, outside of the levees to the north are also wetlands. To the south it was delineated as wetlands due to the vegetation and types of soils. Between the channels it is considered the upland, which is an area which outside the wetlands. During the upcoming ditch excavation process, as long as the channel is dipped and spoils are placed in a one-step process in the uplands, it would not be considered violating any wetland areas according to IDEM or Army Corp of Engineers which is what receiving the permit would be based on. Peterson stated if it were desired to place the spoils within the wetlands area, it would take considerable amount of time to receive the permitting. These are high quality wetlands so if you were going to mitigate on a two to one ratio. If you disturb one acre wetlands in one location, you would have to mitigate two acres at another location.
Micky Read inquired if the work would be done on the north side of the DeHaan Ditch. Peterson responded the plan is basically from the east side up to the railroad work would be performed on the north side of the ditch then once the railroad is crossed, the work would be performed on the south side of the ditch. As you get closer to the Kankakee River, the channel widens and there is a question on whether the excavator would be able to reach, so there may be a need to work on the north side.
Vince Urbano inquired if permits from the agencies would be received with the wetland delineation project which Abonmarche Consultants, L.L.C. had just completed. Urbano also inquired if the wetland delineation project was complete and if the project is ready for bidding of the excavation. Randy Peterson responded the wetland delineation project is complete and the project is ready for bidding of the excavation.
Richard Maxwell inquired if the permits from the agencies had been applied for and received by Abonmarche Consultants, L.L.C. Randy Peterson stated Abonmarche Consultants, L.L.C. had not applied for the permits from the agencies.
Vince Urbano stated Jasper County is Surveyor of Record over the DeHaan Ditch project, but has not been included on the wetland delineation project performed by Abonmarche Consultants, L.L.C.
Urbano stated on December 31, 2013 he along with others involved in the DeHaan Ditch project met with the agencies. At that time, the agencies were ready to provide permits if a profile would have been provided. Peterson stated receiving the permits from the agencies was not included in the contract for the scope of work they were to provide to Newton County. Peterson stated providing the profile and plans were in the contract they had with the Newton County Drainage Board.
Kendell Culp stated Randy Peterson had previously stated “the documents to clean the
drain are in place”. Peterson responded the profile and plans are in place. Culp stated he believes the statement “the documents to clean the drain are in place” means the permitting from the agencies have been received also. Peterson stated the permits from the agencies are not in place.
Urbano stated he was hoping part of the scope of work for Abonmarche Consultants, L.L.C. was to acquire the permits from the agencies. Now there will be several months ahead to receive permitting being that Newton County nor Abonmarche Consultants, L.L.C. have applied for the permits. Urbano stated in order to save money for the taxpayers of Jasper County, he would be willing to apply for the permits from the appropriate agencies.
Maxwell inquired the length of time the profile and plans have been completed on the DeHaan Ditch project in Newton County. Peterson replied the profile and plans have been completed on the DeHaan Ditch project in Newton County for quite a while and Newton County Surveyor, Chris Knochel, has known they have been done.
Randy Peterson stated Abonmarche Consultants, L.L.C. had a contract with the Newton County Drainage Board to delineate the wetlands on the DeHaan Ditch in Newton County and when they met onsite it was determined the wetland delineation was not necessary. However, the Newton County Surveyor insisted the wetlands continue to be delineated. Peterson stated he did not want to issue the profile and plans until the wetlands were delineated and Chris Knochel agreed.
Kendell Culp stated if the Army Corp of Engineers was not requiring wetland delineation, he does not understand why the expense and time to delineate wetlands continued.
Jody Melton, Kankakee River Basin Commission, stated the Newton County Drainage Board,under the advisement of the Newton County Surveyor, was concerned about Jasper County sending a large amount of water down the DeHaan Ditch into Newton County. Chris Knochel wanted to make sure that he was going to have ample area to build the levee high enough to protect Newton County from any backflow from the Kankakee River or the water flowing down from DeMotte. This is why Knochel ordered the wetland delineation study. Knochel used funds from the Kankakee River Basin Commission for the wetland delineation study.
Richard Maxwell inquired who paid for the profile and plans for the DeHaan Ditch in Newton County that Abonmarche Consultants, L.L.C. completed. Vince Urbano stated Newton County paid for the profile and plans on the DeHaan Ditch project in Newton County and Jasper County paid for the profile and plans on the DeHaan Ditch project in Jasper County.
James Walstra, Landowner, inquired if the Kankakee River Basin Commission paid for the plans and profiles on the DeHaan Ditch project in Newton County. Jody Melton responded the Kankakee River Basin Commission did NOT pay of the profile and plans on the DeHaan Ditch project in Newton County. James Walstra inquired how much of the funds acquired by Newton County from the Kankakee River Basin Commission for the wetland delineation have currently been spent. Jody Melton responded he was not positive on the exact amount spent on the wetland delineation currently, but he would guess approximately half and would be willing to look at the records for the exact amount spent.
Dan Blaney, Newton County Drainage Board Attorney, stated the profile and plans are now complete and the project should move forward.
Vince Urbano stated he will move forward with filing for permits with the appropriate agencies for the cleaning of the DeHaan Ditch. Urbano stated if Newton County has any work or studies which they feel are necessary to be performed, it should not take place until consulting with the Jasper-Newton County Drainage Board and the Surveyor of Record, Jasper County.
Dan Blaney inquired if Micky Read was in agreement with moving forward with the DeHaan Ditch project. Read stated she was in agreement with moving forward with the DeHaan Ditch project, as well as Tim Drenth has also agreed.
Alan Cameron, landowner, stated he felt the Jasper-Newton County Joint Drainage Board is making a good decision by moving forward with the DeHaan Ditch project.
Micky Read stated the statement earlier made by Jody Melton regarding Newton County being worried Jasper County would dump their water on Newton County, was not all members of the Newton County Board’s opinion. Read stated they had discussed with the Newton County Surveyor to continue moving forward with the cleaning of the DeHaan Ditch project, but did not see any cooperation in regards to the progress.
Kendell Culp made a motion for the Surveyor of Record, Jasper County, to apply for the appropriate permits with the agencies in regards to the DeHaan Ditch project in Newton County as soon as possible. Micky Read seconded the motion. Motion carried.
Vince Urbano stated he would like to discuss the DeHaan Ditch project which was started during the previous winter with Grube Construction, Inc., but was not completed due to inclement weather conditions. Since last winter, there have been a couple storms which caused several trees down in the ditches which had already been cleaned and several of the laterals have had washouts and need touched up in places. There is still $103,000 to be paid to Grube Construction, Inc. for the completed contract for the cleaning of the project bid to them.
Urbano inquired if the Jasper-Newton County Joint Drainage Board would have any objections to the Surveyor’s office putting together a project for the removal of fallen trees and touching up the washouts on the ditches which had damage during the past storms. The Eighth Street Culvert in the town of DeMotte had been replaced and needs a little touching up around it. Urbano stated he would like to receive approval to avoid another Jasper-Newton County Joint Board meeting being held in order to proceed for the upcoming winter. Kendell Culp inquired if this project would be an addendum to the original contract with Grube Construction, Inc. Urbano responded it would be an addendum to the original contract with Grube Construction, Inc. Culp inquired if there would be funds available for this addendum. Urbano responded the money has been acquired from the GDIF for last year’s project and will need to be reimbursed by way of assessments and would need to again acquire the money from GDIF to pay off the addendum. Urbano stated due to the applying for the permits on the main drain, work will not be performed until the fall of 2015.
Kendell Culp stated he is concerned why there have been multiple trees which have fallen since the last time the drain was cleaned. Urbano stated there was a storm the previous June that had taken down many trees. Jody Melton stated there was a confirmed tornado in July.
Kendell Culp inquired what the agencies are allowing to be removed from the opposite ditch bank. Urbano responded the agencies are allowing anything on the slope to be removed but want you to keep anything that is up and healthy. Kendell Culp stated given a choice, take all the trees out that can be taken.
James Walstra inquired if the old channel or the new channel at the outlet of the drain will be cleaned. Urbano responded the old channel and new channel would be cleaned as well as the removal of the delapitated railcar on the old channel due to it is obstructing the flow of water. Randy Peterson stated Chris Knochel had made a statement that he was considering filling in the old channel. Urbano stated the agencies would never allow the filling in of the old channel due to it being within a wetland. Culp inquired if there is still water draining into the old channel. Urbano responded there is water draining into the old channel currently.
Culp inquired if Abonmarche Consultants, L.L.C. did or did not find recorded easements on the new channel. Peterson responded recorded easements were found on the new channel.
Alan Cameron stated he has a problem with the removal of the dam, due to the Kankakee River Banks will need to be accessed for repair purposes. Urbano responded the dam will not be completely removed. The landowner does not want the dam removed and is willing to compromise by allowing the very bottom being busted out where it holds back a couple feet of water in the drain itself. The plan is to remove seven or eight feet at the bottom of the structure and leave the pillars and top in place.
Urbano inquired when the onsite meeting between the soil scientist from Soil Solutions, Inc. and Newton County is to be held. Randy Peterson responded the date of the Wetland Delineation concurrancy onsite meeting with the Army Corp of Engineers is to take place on October 1, 2014. Urbano stated he would like to be present at the Wetland Delineation concurrancy meeting and inquired if he could receive information regarding such.
Micky Read inquired the length of time to receive permits for the Newton County portion of the DeHaan Ditch project. Urbano responded it varies on the length of time to receive permits on projects.
Reed inquired when the profile and plans for the DeHaan Ditch project for Newton County had been completed. Peterson responded he had presented the profile and plans for the DeHaan Ditch project in Newton County to the Newton County Drainage Board on March 17, 2014. Urbano stated the profile and plans should have been presented to the Jasper-Newton County Joint Drainage Board rather than the Newton County Drainage Board exclusively. This drain is between the two counties and nothing should be going in front of any board except the joint drainage board.
Alan Cameron stated the railroad bridge is an old wooden trussle which crosses the DeHaan Ditch and is in a bad state of repair. Two years ago the railroad placed two steel I-beams. He is concerned about the structure and is weary of anyone working around this delapitated structure. Cameron stated there is not a good line of communication with Northfolk Southern Railroad. Urbano responded the Northfolk Southern Railroad is very hard to communicate with.
Jody Melton stated on Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 4:30 p.m. Justin Schneider with Indiana Farm Bureau will be present at a special session of the Kankakee River Basin Commission in Portage, Indiana. Schneider will make a presentation on the new Waters of the United States. The Army Corp of Engineers and EPA are trying to set a new set of rules on the water act which would give them unbelievable authority over all kinds of water then they already have currently. Indiana Farm Bureau has picked up the battle and fighting it, currently going through congress.
Jody Melton stated between the railroad track and Interstate 65 there is no access to the levee. Melton stated he received a telephone call informing him INDOT was planning on building the bridge over Interstate 65 and make it three lanes over the Kankakee River. Melton stated he touched base with INDOT in LaPorte and the Landowner, Alan Cameron, and it was determined a road would be constructed on the south side to allow for access of equipment. Approximately a month ago, Melton received word the Governor felt it was not necessary to replace the bridges over Interstate 65 and would wait another ten years to do so. They will be performing a little structural integrity and leave the bridges as they are, therefore, the construction of the road will not take place. At the KRBC meeting two weeks ago, the board decided to authorize the spending of up to $100,000 to gain access and repair the levee.
Urbano inquired if there are any funds left over from the Wetland Delineation project which could be used in addition to the $100,000 authorized by the KRBC for the levee access and repair. Melton responded there is a possibility there are funds left over from the Wetland Delineation project which could be used in addition to the $100,000 authorized by the KRBC for the levee access and repair.
Kendell Culp made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Micky Read seconded the motion. Motion approved.