RICHARD A. STEVENSONSummer is really in full swing now. School is out, Germanfest is over and we are heading very quickly toward the Fourth of July and then the Three Rivers Festival. As we do every year, we opened our summer event season at the Wayne Township Trustee’s Office by participating in the Waynedale Memorial Day Parade.

And, what a great Parade we had! My staff and I always enjoy participating in the Waynedale Memorial Day Parade and meeting all the wonderful residents of Waynedale. I must commend The Waynedale News for setting up a camera at the corner of Bluffton and Old Trail Roads and recording the entire Parade. If you were not able to attend or want to watch the parade again, just log into The Waynedale News Facebook Page and you can see the entire parade.

A very important project we engage in every spring here at the Wayne Township office is to update our Eligibility Standards. Updating the Standards annually is required by Indiana law. Once we complete our update, we must present the updated Standards to our Board for approval, which we did at the June Board meeting. After approval, we are required to file the new Eligibility Standards with the County Commissioners.

Making sure our Eligibility Standards are the best they can be is imperative for our office and for our clients. All decisions regarding granting or denying Township Assistance applications are based on our Eligibility Standards, in conjunction with Indiana law. When a client appeals our denial of assistance, the County Administrative Law Judge uses our Standards to decide the case.

In some instances, Indiana law tells township trustees exactly what they must do. Other parts of the statute allow trustees flexibility in determining their own standards. The law takes into account that townships are different and what might work well in a populous urban township like Wayne might not be the best approach for a smaller rural township.

The law also takes into account that circumstances can change, and the Standards may need to change with our changing world. That is what happened with telephone service. Last year, we loosened our standards a bit regarding cell phones. Before last year, we would only provide assistance for basic landline telephone service for clients who needed a phone for medical reasons.

We realized last year that a basic cell phone might be less expensive than a landline phone and allowed assistance for the least expensive medically necessary phone, even if that meant a cell phone. This year, we decided that having a phone of some kind really is a basic necessity of our lives in this modern world. So, we decided not to penalize clients who are paying ten dollars or less a month for a phone.

In addition, we decided to require all clients who want a telephone to apply for one of the free cell phones for low-income persons being offered now by several phone companies. This would be the least expensive way for our clients to have telephone service, and we want to encourage our clients to use wisely the money they have available.

Our goal is to move clients from assistance to independence. Looking for a job is difficult without a phone. A phone is needed to contact potential employers. A job applicant needs to be able to give employers a contact phone number for setting up interviews or receiving other information about jobs.

I know many of you are looking forward this weekend to spending time with your father on Father’s Day or remembering him if he is no longer with us. And fathers and grandfathers will be looking forward to hearing from their children and grandchildren. I hope everyone has a great Father’s Day.

Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee