are a becoming big business in Porter County and have the untapped
potential to boost the county’s tourism market according to Commissioner
President John Evans, R-North.
Tuesday, Evans stopped the commissioners’ meeting for a minute to
announce that the board “has decided in its best interest” to call for
an ordinance adding two additional members to the Porter County
Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission who would also be part of a
subcommittee tasked with taking a closer at promoting and expanding
amateur sports throughout the county.
change and so do the needs of our organizations. We believe the tourism
bureau is one of those,” Evans said.
PCCRVC has served the county well in its 30-year existence by promoting
the county’s natural assets such as the dunes lakeshore and the cities
and towns, he said, and it is part of the county’s economic development
efforts. But there is a growing opportunity to find and build venues that
can bring thousands of visitors from all over to Porter County for events
and activities, Evans said.
said the two new members will be assigned with examining the “organizational
structure and focus” of the tourism bureau and come up with strategies
to expand sports programs. Applications will be taken over the next ten
days and are available on the Commissioners’ website, Evans said.
appointments are expected to be announced at the Commissioner’s next
meeting on April 16 as soon as the proper ordinances can be written and
approved, Evans said.
approved, the number of PCCRVC members will shift from nine to eleven with
a total five commissioner appointments. Other appointments are made by the
County Council (1), the mayor of Portage (2), the mayor of Valparaiso (1),
the Hebron/Kouts town councils (1), and the Chesterton/Porter/Burns Harbor
town councils (1). Each County Commissioner has their own appointment but
the proposed two will be jointly decided between the Commissioners, Evans
board members do not receive pay.
subcommittee will include some current PCCRVC board members and one or two
citizens who have an expertise in sports marketing.
said Lake County has for a while been successful with bringing amateur
sports competitions into its neck of the woods and said Porter County
should be able to do the same given its “central location” along Lake
Michigan, Interstate 94 and the Indiana Toll Road.
the demand for outdoor sports has led to more sports fields in the county,
Evans said he feels there is a need for more indoor events like swimming
pools or an ice rink. He also listed baseball, basketball, football,
softball, and soccer as amateur sports to court.
Executive Director Lorelei Weimer later on Tuesday said that sports are
growing in every category and in every age group. The tourism bureau has
promoted many of the County’s sports events widely through niche
marketing and efforts are likely to step up to see how a new sports
approach can drive tourism dollars, she said. “We want to be very
strategic in how we move down the road.”
recent study done by Certec Inc. revealed that only 4 percent of tourism
dollars are spent on sporting events in Porter County while 80 percent of
them are spent on leisure and the PCCRVC wishes to concentrate on
shrinking that gap, Weimer said.
first steps for the subcommittee would be to undertake feasibility studies
of facilities that already exist in the county to determine what their
potential is for holding sports events, Weimer said. She encouraged the
group to call upon Don Schumacher, CEO of the National Association of
Sports Commissions, who previously spoke to county tourism officials in
for the revamped board, Lorelei said 11 members will be “manageable.”
The number of tourism commission members vary throughout the state, she
said, some with as many as 20 to 30 members.
County Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, on Tuesday said the
county parks department has the intention of purchasing land in the
southern portion of the county to provide sports fields to those
long overdue,” she said.
said the County has received two appraisals for a 55-acre parcel of land
on the southeast corner of Ind. 49 and County Road 550 South across from
where Baums Bridge Road starts.
funds restored to the parks’ land purchase budget, it is expected that
the County will go through with the purchase soon, Blaney said.
potential purchase is expected to be discussed by the county park board on
the form of a resolution, the Commissioners accepted a plan envisioning
the development of 15 square miles surrounding the Porter County Regional
Airport for the next thirty years where U.S. 30 and Ind. 49 meet.
plan drafted under the title “In Plane View” was adopted by county
planners in March, Plan Commission Director Robert Thompson said. No
zoning changes are being asked for but the planners have asked that an
overlay be created where potentially a new 7,000 feet north-south runway
could be built.
area could see up to 16,000 additional jobs in the next 30 years, Thompson
said, with growth in its industrial areas to the south. A buffer will be
used in the agricultural sections to the east where Pinney-Purdue Farm
said the plan includes the expansion of roads around the county
fairgrounds and Expo Center.
The Commissioners accepted a bid of $377,000 from Mechanical Concepts of
Gary to replace the HVAC systems at the County Administration Building,
the County Jail, and the County Courthouse. Representatives from DLZ said
the work is to be completed in four months. CCD funds will pay for systems
at the Administration Building and Courthouse while the jail refinance
bond will pay for the jail’s system.
Consultant agreements were approved amongst the three department heads.
The Recorder will begin a system with Simplifile E-Recording Services that
will enable the office to produce titles and deeds in a web-based
electronic form that can be sent easily to other County offices.
treasurer’s office was approved a not-to-exceed $25,000 agreement with
Atos web development company to help taxpayers pay their bills online.
auditor’s office was approved three different contracts, two of which
were not-to-exceed $90,000 and a third not-to-exceed $27,000, as well as
another contract with Government Fixed Asset Services worth $7,850 for
tasks that had been carried out by the total quality management program.
Funding requests will now need approval from the County Council.