of Public Safety Mike Brickner presented awards to seven E911 dispatchers at
the Porter County Council’s meeting last night.
were: Lindsey Lloyd, Jennifer Herron-Jolley, Darla Evans, Roberta Pollock,
Jessica Scrivnor, Sandra Gallegos (a shift supervisor), and Scott Kleckner.
that he was motivated to give Porter County’s honorable mention award to
five of the dispatchers and their supervisor after a July 31 incident where
an armed robbery took place at a bank in Portage. The Portage Police were
able to apprehend the suspect within minutes of dispatch. In the meantime,
the dispatchers maintained contact with officers and transmitted information
while handling 20 other calls. “Teamwork in our 911 center is crucial,
especially in a high-pressure incident like this,” Brickner said.
“I’ve said this many times, especially in the last year, but our 911
dispatchers are the unsung heroes. You don’t get to read about them in the
headlines, but they are the backbone of public safety in Porter County.”
dispatcher, Scott Kleckner, received a different award. Brickner said he
named it the “Stork award,” and Kleckner earned it following a July 30 call
from a woman who went into labor while driving. Kleckner stayed on the phone
with her to reassure her until first responders arrived in what Brickner
said is an example of the special and varied skill set required to be a
dispatcher. Kleckner was given a blue stork pin for his part in the baby
boy’s entrance to the world.
Brickner made a
somber note to highlight the ups and downs of being a dispatcher. Just a
week later, Kleckner was the dispatcher who spoke to the rail conductor
following the August 7 train accident that took the life of a Portage
toddler and left another severely injured.
The Council also
approved a $750,000 additional appropriation to the Highway Department in
what new Highway Supervisor and Assistant Supervisor Rich Sexton and Jim
Polarek say will be a cost saving measure over the new few years.
Sexton and Polarek
had this plan--to return to in-house chip and sealing County roads--
approved at the last meeting of the Porter County Commissioners, and the
Council was receptive, releasing the funds in an additional appropriation
out of the local road and streets fund to fund other mobile equipment, which
will include two large purchases that must be made this year to be cost
Sexton and Polarek
did research that included observing the use of chip and seal equipment in
Newton County. They concluded that the County needs an asphalt zipper and a
chip spreader. The last chip spreader the County owned was 30 years old, and
the administration at the time opted to contract out for chip and seal
rather than replace it.
Karen Conover, R-3rd, asked about the asphalt zipper, which grinds the
asphalt to prepare the surface and produces usable material in the process.
“So we’re recycling our own asphalt on our roads with this machine? That’s
Though it may not
be used until next year, buying the chip spreader this year is in the
County’s best interest. The chip spreader is slated to be reclassified from
Tier 3 to Tier 4 in terms of the Environmental Protection Agency’s motor
vehicle emission and fuel standards. The cost of production for it will
change, and the retail price tag will jump $40,000 with it, according to
Sexton and Polarek.
Vice-president Jeremy Rivas, R-2nd, asked when the County will see savings
from eliminating the middle man. Polarek reported that the equipment will
pay for itself in saved contractor fees after four to six years, depending
on how many miles of road the Department chip and seals each year.
Sexton said he is
also looking into acquiring a striper because he read research suggesting
that faded striping is a major cause of accidents, and keeping the stripes
bright can reduce accidents by up to 51 percent. He found that a top-grade
striper could cost up to $55,000. Council member Sylvia Graham, D-At-large,
expressed her approval for the idea. “I think that’s really important
because that’s a safety issue. I’ve had calls about that,” she said.
In a stroke of good
news, Director of the Porter County Animal Shelter Toni Bianchi reported she
is short on hourly wages due to a higher rate of intakes and adoptions.
approved her request for an additional $10,000 to hourly wages transferred
from the veterinary services fund. Bianchi says that veterinary services
costs have also been down due to recent improvements to the shelter.
Adoptions are up 57
percent from this time last year. In June, more dogs and cats left the
shelter than those that were brought in, Bianchi said.
Bianchi said more
volunteers are also needed due to the increased activity. Volunteers must be
16 or older and must complete a three-step orientation program that includes
watching an online video, attending an information session at the shelter,
and shadowing an employee.