Porter County Sheriff David Lain said his latest projection for opening the
unused pod at the county jail is “probably eight or nine weeks after the
start of next year” now that the Commissioners have committed to seeking
bids for housing upgrades to the pod.
The Commissioners on Tuesday accepted a recommendation by DLZ to seek bids
of about $125,000 for fundamental housing items such as refining the
interior walls and finishes, replacing disassembled door locks and restoring
the plumbing, fire protection systems, electrical and security systems.
Mike Jabo of DLZ said the initial estimates of $148,000 to $156,000 were
reduced as some enhancements the County could do in-house, such as painting.
DLZ also recommends that the Commissioners pursue additional upgrades to the
overall jail costing roughly $700,000. Jabo said those items could be
handled piece by piece.
The larger items include a new video surveillance system at up to $412,000,
a new intercom system for $147,000 and electronic security control system,
County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, asked if the bigger
items, like the video system, could be accomplished in phases. Jabo said it
would be more cost-effective if the whole system is purchased with one lump
Evans agreed to consider additional items after completing the step of
opening the B-pod.
“It’s not like we have a lot of money to work with but we do have the $1.4
million from the refinancing of our jail bonds,” Evans said.
Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, asked if the video system should
be purchased prior to the pod’s opening. Lain said there are security
cameras there now adequate for monitoring until they are replaced with the
Sharing a bit of good news, Blaney took a moment to announce that earlier on
Tuesday the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority awarded a
$200,000 challenge grant to the town of Kouts which will allow it to extend
its infrastructure north.
She said that the extension includes the land the County is currently eyeing
to purchase for a south county park.
Blaney thanked the RDA and all those who helped with the cooperative effort
including the Town of Kouts, fellow County Commission-ers and County Council
“This is a good example of a number of factors coming together and something
really good coming out of it,” Blaney said. “I feel like it’s going to be a
game changer for the area.”
The grant will allow for the underground installation of water and sewer
In attendance Tuesday, Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos said he is not
ready to announce the exact location of the new park, as the purchase is
still being negotiated, but he said he’s excited to have the Town of Kouts
on board with the endeavor.
With the grant, Lenckos said his department will be able to use more of the
CEDIT acquisition money for development.
The location may be revealed at the park board’s next meeting in December.
Blaney compared the opportunities with the new grant to those in the
Chesterton Utility Corridor Project, which she also supported.
“In both projects, the government is helping out with infrastructure and I
think that’s really what we’re there for,” Blaney said after the meeting.
Health Board to pick up Antabuse program
Meanwhile, an ordinance to establish the County Board of Health as
administrator of the Antabuse anti-alcohol program was approved by the
Commissioners on first reading.
Board attorney David Hollenbeck said that the probation department has
administered the program since 1971, but there is a new “legal impediment”
that would end the department’s and the judiciary system’s role in operating
it after this year.
“It would die if the health department does not step up,” he said.
Hollenbeck said the health board had unanimously voted to take over the
program and collect the fees, which will stay at $120 per month for each
user. There are roughly 80 people in the program now, he said, and the
program prevents them from having to sit in jail.
The probation department had submitted an annual budget for the Antabuse
program which will be within the health department starting in 2015,
Users take Antabuse three days a week at Portage and Valparaiso locations
and many people have overcome alcoholism by participating in the program,
The Commissioners will hold a second reading on the ordinance at their Dec.
In other matters Tuesday:
* The 2014 County Holiday Schedule was adopted with 14 dates total for
the County to be closed, including Election Days. Evans said he hears
complaints that County employees have too many paid holidays but the
schedule is virtually the same as most Indiana counties.
* The Porter County Substance Abuse Council won approval to add a new
desk in a workspace for a part-time worker it’s been able to hire with a
drug free communities grant. The Council occupies a room on the first floor
of the County Administration Building.
* The County Highway Department received and opened bids for 2014
service and supplies. Unable to attend the Dec. 3 Commissioners meeting,
Highway Superintendent Al Hoagland will tell the Commissioners of his
recommendation at the Dec. 17 meeting.
* The County’s E-911 Communications Center is making strides toward
public safety standard accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation
for Law Enforcement Agencies. E-911 Director John Jokantas said it’s been a
goal of his “since Day 1” to achieve CALEA accreditation which will involve
a two-year self assessment.