Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 5, 2013

Greensburg Police pushing for canine unit

Brent Brown
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — In a busy Monday night session, the Greensburg Common Council heard proposals for the formation of a Greensburg Police Department (GPD) canine unit in addition to forthcoming changes in the Greensburg Fire Department (GFD) command structure.

GPD Officer Jordan Craig addressed his plans to once again bring a canine unit to the Tree City. Office Craig’s own dog is presently in training to fulfill the role of canine officer, an endeavor which could save the city approximately $4,000 should the plan be implemented. Craig noted he has been actively seeking funding for the project and applying for various grants. Additionally, a vehicle capable of transporting the dog has been donated by the Columbus Police Department.

Officer Craig stated he would sign a three-year contract in order to keep the program active in Greensburg.

Council member Glen Tebbe noted past canine programs haven’t worked for a variety of reasons, but later added he felt the project was “worth a shot.”

Mayor Gary Herbert added that since the dog in question is Craig’s own pet, there is a greater likelihood of the program being successful.

The council later voted to amend a loophole prohibiting Greensburg Police Officers who do not live within the Decatur County limits from taking part in the canine program. Officer Craig is not a resident of Decatur County but lives close enough that he and his canine partner would be able to respond to situations in Greensburg in a matter of minutes.

The council wished Craig luck with the program.   

The pending retirement of veteran GFD Assistant Fire Chief Rick Emsweller has led to Chief Scott Chasteen mulling over resumes in recent weeks for Emsweller’s replacement. Upon Emsweller’s retirement, his position will be filled by Captain Brian Wenning, who has worked under Chasteen for the past 10 years. Wenning, Chasteen said, has been working in the assistant chief position on an interim basis without an increase in pay. Wenning’s promotion leaves a captain’s position open, which Chasteen said he will post for resumes and applications this week. The departure of Emsweller also leaves the GFD a person short. Chasteen said he has a candidate in mind to join his department, but did not divulge that individual’s name.

In terms of old business, the council heard from City Engineer Gary Murray on the ongoing sign ordinance proposal. Murray, the mayor and the council discussed some of the changes to the ordinance, which primarily involved an increase in sign size in some areas as well as a decrease in the number of panels permissible on signs containing multiple advertisements. Murray specifically mentioned signs such as those seen at Walmart and Tractor Supply Company as examples of the latter.

Local resident Shawn Green, who worked with the City Plan Commission in creating the ordinance, brought a stack of papers and files with him to the council meeting Monday night. Green addressed the council saying his primary concerns were safety and “what’s best for the city,” alongside ease for business owners to get permits for their signs. Green said the chart given to council members by Murray is based on a government study that took into account safety, visibility, contrast and space for signs as well as other factors. A decision on the ordinance was not made Monday night as the council members will review the ordinance before voting on it next month.

“We’re going to rely on good common sense to come up with what we think is prudent,” said Tebbe. Tebbe added he wanted to go back through the ordinance saying it contains “an extraordinary amount of data.”

The council later heard from Bart Brown of the Southeast Indiana Workforce Investment Board, who encouraged the council as well as other elected officials to sign an agreement allowing them control of how Work One’s funding is spent. Work One is run by the Southeast Indiana Workforce Investment Board. Brown and Mayor Herbert mentioned signing such an agreement puts the city at a risk of financial liability, though Brown noted only once in the past decade and a half has a city had to pay back funds. Not signing the agreement runs the risk of the city losing its Work One office.

In other council news Monday, Joann Fry was appointed to the Greensburg-Decatur County Library Council.

The council stated three strong candidates for the position had been considered, though Fry’s work as a volunteer and her knowledge of the library proved the deciding factors in her appointment.

Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056