General Interest

Saving you money, while protecting you

Improved fire protection comes to you along with some cash, potentially.  Property owners should check with their insurance company to determine how much their insurance premium can be reduced based on a new “ISO” rating for their fire department.

Harris Township provides fire and emergency medical services by being part of the Clay Fire Territory (CFT).  Two representatives of Harris Township represent the township as fire commissioners on CFT’s governing board — currently the trustee (Ken Lindsay) and board member (Jeff Broadwick).

Because much of Harris Township does not reside within a city, there are few hydrants.  In recent years the territory developed a comprehensive water strategy, upgraded equipment to bring more water to fires, and has arranged for access to some newly installed City of Mishawaka hydrants along with access to a number of other water sources.  A new well is planned in Granger for 2017.

Based partially on the above improvements, an external agency just upgraded CFT’s rating to ISO 2.  There is no ISO 1-rated department in the state, and only a few ISO 2-rated departments!  While this may be ‘nice to know’, some insurance companies consider the ISO in the calculation to set the insurance premium for property insurance,including homeowner’s insurance.  This rating change could mean real dollar savings to you.   We’re aware of one instance of savings over $200 annually.  Ask your existing insurance company to make sure the new ISO rating is applied.  And you might want to take this opportunity to shop around.  Please note that not all insurance companies use the rating — and if yours doesn’t you can at least feel good about the level of protection provided by your fire department.


Clay Fire Territory’s related press release:

September 28, 2016
GRANGER, IN — Fire Chief Timm Schabbel announced today that the communities served by Clay Fire—including Clay, German, and Harris Townships, as well as the Towns of Roseland and Indian Village—have received the results of the agency’s latest Public Protection Classification (PPC) evaluation from the Insurance Services Office, Inc. (ISO). Chief Schabbel proudly revealed that the entire service area for Clay Fire has received an upgraded score to an ISO Class 2 rating.
This new rating may result in a significant decrease of annual insurance premiums within the Clay Fire service area. Residential and commercial property owners within Clay, German and Harris Townships are encouraged to contact their insurance providers to inquire if their premiums will be impacted by the improved classification rating. The new ISO Class 2 rating— which includes the entire Clay Fire service area—will go into effect on October 1, 2016.
According to Fire Chief Timm Schabbel, “This improved ISO rating is yet another reflection of Clay Fire’s commitment to provide the highest quality public safety services to the citizens of our community. This improved rating would not be possible without the dedicated members of Clay Fire who perform outstanding work each and every day.”
Clay Fire is now one of only seven communities in the state of Indiana, including Indianapolis, to achieve a Class 2 rating. The ISO rating in the City of South Bend was also recently upgraded to a Class 2, which went into effect on August 1, 2016. Presently, there are no ISO Class 1 rated communities in the state of Indiana. The ISO rates more than 48,000 fire departments nationwide. Less than 2% of all fire departments achieve such an exceptional rating. This improved rating represents another significant milestone for Clay Fire. In 2004, the agency was the first fire department in the state of Indiana to achieve “Internationally Accredited Agency” status by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International (CFAI), and remains one of only four accredited departments within the state of Indiana. ISO collects information on communities and analyzes the data using its Fire Suppression Rating Schedule. This Fire Suppression Rating Schedule evaluates four primary categories of fire suppression – fire department, emergency communications, water supply, and community risk reduction. Class 1 generally represents superior fire protection, and class 10 indicates that the area’s fire-suppression program doesn’t meet ISO’s minimum standards. ISO’s Public Protection Classification can play an important part in an insurer’s decision when underwriting property insurance. The new ISO PPC for Clay Fire will be effective October 1, 2016.
This improved rating is the result of the first ISO review since the amalgamation of the Clay, German, and Harris Township Fire Departments into the Clay Fire Territory. Chief Schabbel stated, “This improved ISO rating serves as yet another example of the benefits which were achieved by merging these three agencies into one. Many of the value-added programs in place today would not have been possible without the unification of these three fire departments.” The assessment for the fire department component, which accounts for half of the overall rating, was improved by over 55% since the last review in 2003. In addition, the Community Risk Reduction Division—which provides public education, fire inspections, and fire investigations—received nearly all of the possible points available in that category. Chief Schabbel credits the fire department’s effort of becoming an internationally accredited fire department as a significant contributor used to identify, track, and document the improvements within the agency.

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HT’s parks are closed for the season; see you next Spring

Harris Township Park on Brummitt Road is now closed for the season.  The gates are locked.  There will be no garbage receptacles, nor any restrooms in place.  Look for the park re-opening in March of 2017.

Elm Ped Park on Elm Road is also effectively closed for the season.  The pickleball nets have been removed, and the baseball bases will be removed.  There is no garbage pickup; please don’t attempt to leave garbage in the bins.  The driveways and parking lot will not be snow-plowed.  The basketball hoops will remain up so, weather permitting, it might be possible to play a some basketball.

Attention friends of Harris Township Park:  The back, large parking lot was recently resurfaced at a cost to taxpayers.  Soon after, somebody damaged the surface by doing donuts with a vehicle.  That prompted us to close the back gate — allowing for continued use of the up-front playground.  While the township hoped to keep the park open as long as the weather remained nice, somebody actually removed fencing so they could get to the back lot and once again do donuts.  As a result, the decision was made to close the entire park for the season, earlier than planned.  You can personally ‘thank’ somebody if you ever catch them in the act, or call the St. Joseph County Police at 574-235-9611.  We intend to.

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Know of a non-profit that could benefit from surplus items?

Harris Township may soon have some surplus items.  If you know of a non-profit organization that could use one or more of the items for their operations (not resale), please have them contact Ken Lindsay, the Harris Township Trustee.  No promises, but perhaps we can fill a need or two.  The list is in flux and incomplete, but at this point may include:
  • one or more desks (likely)
  • chairs, non-folding (likely)
  • round table (possible)
  • small filing cabinet (possible)
The township will have final say on whether and where items are distributed.
Kenneth E. (Ken) Lindsay, Harris Township Trustee or 574-272-2371
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Pickleball, basketball, and a mud-pad at the Harris Township park on Elm Road

Saturday afternoon 11.5.2016: all four pickleball courts had players on them, as did the basketball court.  People driving by stopped to check it out.  First time pickleball players from Bridlewood tried the game, and they were good.  Kids found a way to make up for the lack of a splash pad.

The Harris Township Board – Karen Vargo, Jeff Broadwick and Chuck Sulok – and the trustee, Ken Lindsay are thrilled people are using the park just a few short days after it opened on Wednesday 11.2.2016.

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Elm Ped Park now open!

The courts have been painted.  Benches, bike loops and garbage cans are installed.  And construction fencing has been removed.   Enjoy it while the weather is nice, and tell us what you think.  Please keep off the sprouting and growing grass.

Stay tuned for opportunities to learn how to play pickleball.

Planned for this year — planting of trees and shrubs, removal of poles, and installation of lights.

Planned for next year or beyond — playground equipment and a shelter or two.

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Parking lot resurfacing complete at Harris Township Park

The large parking lot has a new surface!  The old one had larger chunks of recycled pavement, and was getting uneven in many spots.  The new surface is made from screened, recycled asphalt.  Sincere thanks to the County Commissioners, and to Chip at the County Highway Department for making the materials available to the township.

Northern Indiana Construction spread and compacted the material.  Thanks to them as well.

If you see anyone abusing the new surface, including doing donuts in the lot, please get a license number and let us and the county police know about it.  It only takes one bad apple to ruin a lot (pun intended), and unfortunately we have at least one horrible apple out there.


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Half done with court painting at Elm Ped Park!

The weather delayed the process a few times, but a base coat and some of the blue and green top coat has been applied to the basketball and pickleball courts.  NO PLAY YET, please.  A couple more days work once the weather is nice enough again, and we should be good to go.  An announcement will be posted.

Some furnishings will be installed yet this year.  We also plan to install some trees, take out ples and install lights.  Thanks for your patience.

Please stay off the grass, as we’ve hydro-seeded again.

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Parking lot upgrade at Harris Township Park

Not all the ‘action’ is at Elm Road.  The parking lot at Harris Township Park is getting a new surface.  The project might be completed yet this week.  Of course, your township officials are delivering this upgrade while keeping down costs.

Many thanks to St. Joseph County, and to Northern Indiana Construction.

If you visit the park often, we’d love to hear what you think about the upgrade.  And, please keep an eye out for those who may try to damage the new surface … as we’ve had some issues in the past.  Thanks!

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Get off my lawn…for several weeks (please)

The new lawn has been applied at Elm Road Pedestrian Park, via a hydro-seeding process.  Park construction is winding down, but there are a few weeks left until the park is open.  In the mean time, PLEASE let the grass start growing and stay off the courts if they are in the process of being painted.  If we have to pay to rework anything, it will be wasted money.  [Your Harris Township Trustee hates waste!]

What is left to do this year?  Fencing.  Court painting, sealing and drying.  Planting trees and shrubs.  Installing benches, garbage cans and bike lock-up loops.  Completion of the ball diamond infield.  Removal of some light poles and installation of others.

After this year the playground will be improved, and one or more pavilions may be built.  Please watch for fundraisers — including by Granger Sunrise Rotary –for your opportunities to help make future improvements a reality.

Elm Road Pedestrian Park   –   Elm Ped Park   –   EPP

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LAST CALL: Now hiring a Grounds Keeper

Applications are being accepting and interviews conducted for the position of Grounds Keeper, with an initial start date of late October 2016.  Interested parties should contact the Trustee at or 574-272-2371 so that an interview can be scheduled by October 6th.

The position will be seasonal (approximately March through November), and part time (approximately 20 hours per week) on a relatively flexible schedule, paid at a competitive hourly rate based on experience and skills.  No benefits.  The position requires a vehicle, with mileage to be reimbursed.

Responsibilities include oversight of two township parks and two cemeteries, mowing the lawn at one park, tree maintenance, trash removal, inspecting playgrounds and courts, court and sidewalk cleaning, care of courts and nets, minor repairs and installations, and working with service providers.  Also: being on-call via phone or text, ownership of problems, plus planning for and implementing improvements across a variety of areas including parking, lighting, signage, bird habitats, rentals, and security.

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