Baby Box Installation Approved By Warsaw Board

Board of Works and Safety members Jeff Grose and George Clemens are pictured Friday during a board meeting.

WARSAW – The final OK toward the future installation of a baby box at Fire Station No. 2 came today, March 15, by the city Board of Works and Safety.

After months of consideration and some tweaks by city leaders, the board approved an installation and service agreement with Safe Haven Baby Box, of Woodland.

The approval appears to be the final one needed before installation can begin.

Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer pulled back plans for final approval last month by the board of works to adjust wording in the agreement that had said the city would pay for an estimated $10,000 purchase price when in fact Right To Life of North Central Indiana has already covered those costs.

Last month, City Council signed off on the general agreement, which also has the support of the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory as well as the Kosciusko County Firemen’s Association.

Safe Haven Baby Box will provide the box, which provides mothers with an anonymous and legal way to surrender their newborn. The group considers the use of a baby box as the last option for new mothers who are considering surrendering their newborn.

Safe Haven places an emphasis on counseling and offers a hotline phone number for anyone seeking advice.

Officials chose Fire Station No. 2 on Center Street in part because of its proximity to two hospitals.

The city has agreed to several upgrades at the fire station to provide safeguards to protect the baby in case the box is ever used.

Voting to approve were Jeff Grose and George Clemens. Thallemer, who sits on the board, did not attend.

The board was informed that two police officers who were recommended for 10-day suspensions a week ago accepted the discipline. Ross Minear and Jason Dobbins were accused of several violations related to their copying of a body cam footage from an officer who responded to a reckless driving incident initially investigated by Warsaw Police Chief Scott Whitaker.

Whitaker was caught up in a dispute over how he physically engaged a 74-year-old man he suspected of being an impaired driver. He attempted to stop the man from getting into his vehicle in the man’s driveway. The man claims he was tackled by Whitaker, but Whitaker claims the man’s legs gave out and he helped him to the ground. Whitaker was off duty at the time and later apologized for the circumstances.

The officers made copies of the body cam apparently because they were displeased with how Whitaker handled the situation. A city investigation determined one of the officers sought a copy of the body cam to use it as blackmail against Whitaker. The other apparently wanted to use it to force a change in leadership, according to an internal investigation by the department.

The board also:

  • Approved a contract for the blues and BBQ concert featuring Kara Grainger for $2,500. The show is scheduled for June 28.
  • Approved plans to spend up to $28,000 for painting of bike lanes for new and future dedicated bike paths.
  • Approved a request to provide $3,500 for the annual fireworks show for the fourth of July with Winona Lake. The event is set for June 29.
  • Approved of a request to apply for grant money through the Aim Drug Opioid Abuse Program.