Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 10, 2013

Public Eye - Sunday, March 10, 2013

By Ken de la Bastide and Scott Smith
Tribune columnists

Dem leaves voter post

Beth Rakestraw, the Howard County Democratic Party representative in the Howard County Voter Registration office is leaving the position after being at the center of controversy in 2012.

David Tharp, chairman of the local Democratic Party, confirmed this week that Rakestraw accepted another job offer and resigned her position in the Voter Registration Office.

Tharp said he is currently interviewing potential replacements.

The Indiana State Police are investigating allegations of ghost employment and misuse of county-owned equipment by Rakestraw in May 2012.

The allegation is that Rakestraw was performing “get-out-the-vote” activity while being paid by the county and using county-owned property to make political calls.

ISP was culling through the county’s computer software system to determine if any political emails were sent by Rakestraw.

Annexation everywhere

Kokomo isn’t the only place with an aggressive annexation push. Take Anderson, for example, where Mayor Kevin Smith is trying to annex 21 square miles of Madison County, extending Anderson’s boundaries down to the Hamilton County line, according to our sister paper, The Herald Bulletin.

Smith is calling it “Anderson Fast Forward.” The goal, according to the HB’s story Thursday, “is to stabilize Anderson’s population and property tax base, and create an economic development corridor by capturing the remaining frontage along Interstate 69 to the Madison/Hamilton county line.”

Anderson would grow by about 2,900 residents under the plan, and perhaps more, if Fishers and Noblesville keep expanding northwards.

Several weeks ago Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight was a guest on Smith’s weekly radio show to discuss annexation. Although it appeared Smith wanted an endorsement of his proposal from Goodnight, the Kokomo mayor didn’t take the bait.

During the program Goodnight said the first two annexations done in Kokomo were to annex those properties that were already receiving city services, like sanitary sewers.

“We were doing a little bit of catch-up,” Goodnight said. “We looked at who was receiving city services for the past 15 years.”

Damn the torpedoes

The dam belonging to the Indiana American Water Company isn’t going anywhere, but this spring, one of the last remaining obstacles in the Wildcat Creek will be gone.

Kokomo city officials last week moved ahead on plans to remove the remains of the old Philips Street dam, which can be seen from Foster Park.

Once it’s gone, the Wildcat west of the water company dam (which can be seen from the Carter Street bridge) will be clear. That’s great news for canoeists, and bad news for any fans of huge masses of concrete sitting in the middle of an otherwise picturesque stream.

Get ready to rumble

There are zoning fights, and then there is the battle royale concerning the quarter acre of gravel sitting at the northwest corner of Berkley Road and Sycamore Street.

Kokomo strip club/bar owner Dan Dumoulin II tried and failed last year to get the lot rezoned commercial so he could have customers of his Filling Station bar park there.

Dumoulin will be back again Tuesday, when he’ll ask the Kokomo Plan Commission to reconsider his request. This will be probably the fourth or fifth time a property owner has tried to get the lot zoned for parking, something some of the neighbors to the north don’t want to see happen.

Dumoulin’s request was initially set to be heard last month, but the case was continued at his request. The meeting is 7 p.m. at Kokomo City Hall, 100 S. Union St.