Liberty Town Council announced at its Jan. 18 meeting the result of the recent request for proposals (RFP) to bring new life to the old Liberty Herald building.

The Herald has been published under license and the Market Street building leased from the Wedding family for years until the buyout of Whitewater Publications by Brookville-based Third Place News in 2019. Instead of licensing the Liberty Herald, the new owners sought to purchase the publication rights from the Weddings but did not pursue the Herald building at the time. The Weddings then donated the building to the Town of Liberty.

Although different plans were discussed, most notably relocating the town's offices from the current Fairground Street location, the Herald building has sat vacant for a number of years.

Brian and Amy Noah, publishers and part owners of Third Place News, approached LTC in the summer of 2021 about utilizing the Herald building to expand their newest endeavor, the Daily Scoop. Launched in May of 2021, the Daily Scoop is a newspaper themed ice cream parlor named in honor of legendary Brookville newspaperman Donald “Scoop” Sintz and was an instant success. LTC president Matt Barnhizer brought the request to the board on Aug. 16 when he suggested advertising for RFPs to give any interested parties an opportunity to pitch their business idea for the property. LTC opened the two proposals received at its Nov. 15 meeting, which featured a real estate appraisal office proposed by Michael Sweet, in addition to Noah's proposal.

Sweet and Noah were invited back to the LTC's Dec. 6 meeting where they were asked to present their proposal to the board and answer any questions. Sweet proposed a full renovation of the building in order to provide a home to his growing real estate business, hoping to take advantage of the building's convenient location near the Union County Courthouse and other relevant businesses. Noah proposed the location could provide a home to the Daily Scoop, but also provide office space for Liberty Herald staffers and preserve the historical equipment and architecture of the building in a printing museum.
LTC ruminated on the two proposals before holding an executive session on Jan. 3 to make a decision. That decision was announced at the Jan. 18 meeting where Barnhizer explained council chose to move forward with the Daily Scoop proposal and thanked Sweet for his proposal. Liberty clerk-treasurer Melissa Shepler explained town attorney Jim Williams is revising the contract to include a series of legal provisions put in place to ensure the building is used as proposed. Shepler offered examples of the building used for a business different than what was proposed or if the business were to close its doors.

Noah hopes to get a renovation plan in place soon with an expectation of serving ice cream in Liberty by the summer with the goal of opening sooner. Supply chain issues do pose a risk of delay if the equipment necessary to operate is not available. The Daily Scoop will be hiring local employees to staff the new location; more information on the positions will be made available as the project develops.

“We are ready to bring homemade ice cream from the Daily Scoop to Liberty. We have seen the increased traffic and joy an ice cream shop can bring to a community and we are excited to bring more people to the square in Liberty,” Noah said in a statement to the Herald. “The Herald building was home to the Liberty Herald and Union County Review for many years, so for Whitewater Publications, it's a bit of a homecoming as we will do a historical build out and tribute to some of the equipment used in the past to produce weekly history.”

Also discussed:

-LTC voted to approve a salary ordinance amendment increasing pay rates for all Liberty Police Department officers. Council discussed the need to raise pay to levels competitive with agencies in neighboring counties. Shepler noted an increase in applications for the current round of hiring, attributing the increase to expanded residency restrictions and utilizing online job posting services. LTC member Derrek Jenkins noted his focus on increasing pay for the LPD in the Jan. 3 meeting was not intended to discount the work performed by employees in the town's street and utility department or in Shepler's office and asked the board to address pay rates in other departments looking forward to the 2023 budget. Barnhizer agreed and suggested looking at the job descriptions for town employees and consider revisions to more accurately match the town's current operations.

-LTC voted to approve a resolution to update the town's employee handbook to reflect changes in the LPD's standard operating procedures regarding the department's new take-home-vehicle policy. LTC member Ross Keasling commented on the condition of some of the LPD's vehicles, emphasizing the need for the patrol vehicles to be kept clean. Shepler noted the policy does require the vehicles be kept clean.

-The town's trash collection contract is up for renewal. Shepler asked the board if they wanted to seek a complete rebid or seek a contract renewal price from the current provider, Rumpke. Council discussed seeking a rebid last year, but chose to extend the contract with the intention to rebid in the future. Shepler explained Rumpke's past competitor, CGS, has been bought out by Waste Management. Matt Reuss utilizes Waste Management for services at the town's wastewater plant and reported some issues when calling the company's Wisconsin-based customer service. Shepler reported good customer service experience when dealing with locally owned and managed Rumpke.

The contract is up this spring, which is Shepler's busiest time. Barnhizer suggested asking for a one-year renewal with Rumpke and seeking a full rebid in October or November. Shepler suggested requesting a 17-month renewal contract from Rumpke and going for rebids in the summer of 2023, which would shift the renewal contract to Shepler's least busy time of year. LTC agreed to seek a contract renewal.










staffers and preserve the historical equipment and architecture of the building in a printing museum.
LTC ruminated on the two proposals before holding an executive session on Jan. 3 to make a decision. That decision was announced at the Jan. 18 meeting where Barnhizer explained council chose to move forward with the Daily Scoop proposal and thanked Sweet for his proposal. Liberty clerk-treasurer explained town attorney Jim Williams is revising