Kosciusko County Animal Welfare League Board Chairman John Lantz makes a presentation to the Syracuse City Council on Tuesday evening. Photo by Denise Fedorow

SYRACUSE — On Tuesday, the Syracuse City Council heard a presentation from the Kosciusko County Animal Welfare League.

John Lantz, Chairman of the Board of AWL, told the Council: “We are working hard to rebuild our reputation here in the county.”

He said they are rebuilding the council and have added several young people to the council. “They have a lot of energy and drive,” he said.

They also have a new general manager, Tonya Blanchard.

“She left the family business to come work for us for next to nothing,” he said. Lantz said she made a good team and created a family atmosphere.

He said there are a lot of good things going on at the shelter, including the Shelter Buddies literacy program where young children come to read aloud to shelter the pets. He said they only had 30 euthanasias last year and a council member asked if that was a good thing.

Lantz said the national goal is no more than 10%. He said they took in 1,300 pets last year, so 10% would be 130. He said it takes $77,000 a year to take care of the pets on top of the mortgage of $4,300 per month on the new building and other expenses. He distributed the first annual report and said they wanted to be transparent.

He told them last year that they had taken in 50 pets from Syracuse and they already had 44. He said sheltering was a community and county issue and that they still needed financial help. He said animal shelters are at the bottom of donations at around 3%. He invited the Council to come and visit the refuge and he showed them around.

Cell service in Syracuse is expected to improve soon, as Syracuse board members approved a rezoning ordinance late Tuesday allowing the Wawasee School Corporation to have a cell tower on school property.

The Board acted on the recommendation of the Board of Zoning Appeals which voted 6-1 to approve a rezoning of approximately one acre of school property from public use zoning at Industrial 1. Wawasee Superintendent Dr. Steve Troyer, was in attendance and a Council member commented that he hoped it would improve cell service downtown.

Troyer said it was hope. He said the cell tower would be used by multiple carriers.

Apparently cell service in Syracuse deteriorates in the summer when the population increases with summer residents.

Council has approved declaratory resolutions for two separate residential tax increment financing (TIF) districts for two city subdivisions.

One residential TIF is for the Oakwood residential development and the other is known as the Allen development. After endorsing both, Council Chairman Bill Musser said, “I think since most of us aren’t really familiar with what Dr. Allen is offering, we should meet with him.”

Councilman Larry Siegel introduced State Representative David Abbott, who will soon be Syracuse State Representative due to redistricting.

Abbott said he was happy to be there and told the board he was “seeking more funding for MNR for lake improvement.” I’m passionate about it – I spent my youth on Lakes Wawasee and Syracuse.

He said it wouldn’t be his district until November.

Siegel said that when he first went to the Statehouse about dam conservation, Abbott became interested in the meeting and sat down with Siegel and former Rep. Curt Nisly and, according to Siegel, helped open the doors. He told council members that Abbott was leading a reserve for Sylvan Lake.

“He’s interested in the same things we are — improving the lakes,” he says.

Musser said, “We always love when a state representative comes.”

Park Superintendent Chad Jonsson said the eighth annual Mudtastic was held last week with 250 attendees. They are also preparing for the 4th of July. He said progress is being made on the new ballpark and plans should be completed by August.

He was asked if he had managed to hire lifeguards and he said no. He only received one phone call and the person had no certification.

Public Works Superintendent Mark Aurich said his department worked hard to clean up after last week’s storm and really appreciated the patience of residents.

He applied for and received approval for Pulver Excavating to complete the city’s sidewalk program for $50,835. He provided a list of the sidewalks they were going to fix. Aurich said the company waived a $7,000 fee since they were already in town.

Siegel said they need to coordinate with several organizations that have road races in town — many of them next month — so the roads aren’t torn up for those events. Aurich said he would check.

Council also cleared the advertisement for the transfer of funds for the Huntington Street lift station for $83,200 and will have the order to approve next month.

Turkey Creek Township Fire Chief Mickey Scott requested and received approval to upgrade their security systems in both departments for $11,500.

He talked about complaints he’s heard about businesses closing due to understaffing, to keep more customers out, but customers are locked in, which is a fire code violation. from Indiana, unless the doors have panic bars.

He said he spoke to some companies, but asked the media for help in getting the word out. Scott said he understood their personnel issues, but said, “You can’t risk public safety.”

Council made an impromptu appointment to the Zoning Appeals Board.

Matt Goodnight spoke during public comments, explaining how he ran for Council against Paul Stoelting, but was unsuccessful. He congratulated Stoelting on his win and shared how much he enjoyed his debut campaign.

He said he had extra time if there were vacancies on the boards. Before Goodnight could finish his sentence, Siegel interrupted him and told the Council that there was an open seat in the BZA and that there would probably be another soon. He wanted them to make the Goodnight date right away saying, “I think we have a volunteer here and we don’t have a lot of volunteers.”

When they moved on to new business, Musser made the appointment and the rest of the Board approved making Goodnight a member of the BZA.

In other cases, the Council:

• Approved an order for additional appropriations of $188,177.25 for the Community Crossing grant.

• Approved a $2,500 application fee for the railroad right of way for the work to be done. Jeremy Hardy of the Commonwealth said they would be reimbursed by deducting them from the contractor’s claim for payment.