Commissioner Therese Brown congratulated; companies, individuals lauded by Allen County commissioners for recycling work

Himsel? That’s a familiar name.

Northwest Allen County Schools Superintendent Chris Himsel attended the Dec. 13 Allen County Commissioners meeting in Citizens Square in Fort Wayne to thank Commissioner Therese Brown for her service to the county. Brown earlier this fall was named the recipient of an award close to Himsel’s heart.

In 1983, Himsel’s grandfather died in office as Hendricks County commissioner, where he’d served for 25 years. The county named the award after him, and it’s been given annually since 1983 to someone who significantly contributes to county government through his/her involvement in the Association of Indiana Counties.

“And you are the first person that I am aware of who I’ve actually worked with and known who has been recognized with the Arthur R. Himsel Award,” Chris Himsel said, “and I just want to say congratulations.”

Brown lives in the Northwest Allen County Schools district.

More winners

Jodi Leamon, sustainability coordinator with Allen County Department of Environmental Management, announced the five winners of awards for Reducing, Reusing, Recycling, and Composting at the meeting. Each received repurposed candles made by a local company that are refillable and reusable, Leamon said.

Nominations were accepted from the public September through November in five categories for businesses, organizations and individuals. Nominees with the most votes that best fit each category were chosen by a team of judges to receive recognition for their efforts.

ACDEM encourages waste reduction and environmentally sustainable choices in business, community and everyday life. These sustainability “superheroes” are taking the extra steps to help preserve natural resources for the future. The winners in each category were:

Reduce: Larry Graf, Leamon’s “right-hand man,” is a volunteer food rescuer with the Food Rescue US program. Graf has put in many hours meeting with donors and recipients to establish relationships as well as driving many deliveries of good food that would have otherwise gone to landfill, according to an announcement from county government.

“We have rescues every single day now,” Leamon said at the meeting, “sometimes multiples per day. We’re rescuing tons of food that would otherwise go to landfill.”

Reuse: Grassroots Baby, 1615 Coliseum Blvd. W., Unit B, has made many families more aware of and given access to reusable products instead of disposables, according to the announcement. Nominations from grateful parents said they were able to reduce their child’s environmental footprint because of this store. It was the most nominated recipient and has saved vast quantities of materials, including diapers, from going into the landfill, Leamon said.

Recycle: Samantha Vance, founder of Sammie’s Buddy Benches at age 9, continues to inspire and empower kids to save plastic caps, recycle them into benches and be kind to those who need a friend. Sammie’s Buddy Bench Project,, has encouraged recycling of thousands of pounds of plastic.

“She’s found a way to make recycling into something that helps other kids,” Leamon said.

Vance has reached out to countries in Africa for the program as well and has received national attention for her project.

Compost: Dirt Wain,, is a new business that converts food scraps and turns them into nutrient-rich compost. It includes drop-off and pickup subscription services for residents and businesses in several ZIP codes. This model keeps food scraps from the landfill where they produce methane gas, and instead creates a valuable soil amendment. Wain is another word for wagon, Leamon said, with Brett Bloom of Dirt Wain attending the meeting, and “He’s really expanding, I think, faster than he ever thought,” Leamon said.

Combination of the above: Pembroke Bakery, 300 E. Main St., No. 102, Fort Wayne, takes great care to reduce waste in all ways possible, according to the county government announcement. The bakery, which makes its bread and deli items from scratch and is mostly vegan and gluten-free, is mindful of upstream sources for its products and provides reusable wares for eating in, and carryout items that are recyclable or compostable. Staff recycle or compost almost everything and produce little trash.

It “source(s) material that is sustainable, uses the least amount of packaging possible and is good for our environment, good for our community,” Leamon said. “…They’re ticking every category: reduce, reuse, recycle, compost. They’re doing it all.”

The three commissioners also unanimously approved:

* A warranty deed for the first of three parcels for a project to put in a cul-de-sac of Kress Road east of Lower Huntington Road where it dead-ends at Interstate 69. The project will provide school buses with a turnaround, said Bill Hartman, Allen County Highway Department director.

* A warranty deed for Fitch Road land that will be the next-to-last piece needed to begin the bidding process for construction of new segments of the Pufferbelly Trail using a grant from Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Hartman said.

* Adding 33 street segments totaling 4.189 miles to the county’s maintenance because of development.

* Indiana Department of Transportation’s 2018 mileage certification of about 1,346.5 miles. Fort Wayne annexed just under 2 miles; Huntertown annexed 1.5 miles, for a total certification of 1,327.2 miles, Commissioner Nelson Peters said.

Fort Wayne annexed in La Cabreah, while Huntertown’s mileage affects its takeovers in Rolling Oaks in the Shoaff Road area and Brownstone near Old Lima Road.

The mileage certification is part of the basis of population and number of motor vehicles numbers, Hartman said.

* A contract between them and INDOT for HMA Resurfacing for work on Bluffton Road and Interstate 469 to Ferguson Road for $138,670.80. This brings the county up to the $1 million it got in Local Roads and Bridges Matching Grant Agreement.

* Internal cell phone usage policy: “It really puts into writing things we’re already doing in practice,” said Chris Cloud, commissioners chief of staff. It deals with usage as well as disposal of the now-ubiquitous devices.

* Adding $16,309.11 to the Work Release project. The work has been done on the project, which includes concrete work on the loading dock for food delivery and an HVAC fan.

* Approved documents related to the extension of the lease of ground west of Paul Shaffer Drive that’s where the Holiday Inn Hotel now sits. The extension of the agreement with Purdue University Foundation will move the time back to 2074, and was requested for financing for renovations to the hotel, county attorney Bill Fishering said. It doesn’t affect land east of Paul Shaffer Drive that will expire in 2059. The commissioners did not receive any comments for or against the extension.


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