Porter County Museum of History Executive Director Kevin Pazour is here to
stay as the County Council agreed to bump his salary to $40,000.
That’s an increase of $8,000 over the previous salary, which the Museum
Board of Trustees felt was too low in light of Pazour’s work the past four
years, breathing new life into the Old Jail Museum and making it an
Raises have been a point of contention among the Council due to financial
constraints and Pazour’s has been fought hard for by the County
Commissioners, who have pointed out he is the lowest paid department head in
But that changed Tuesday when the Council members, by a 6-1 vote, agreed
that the $1,000 pay cut to their salaries made voluntarily during this
fall’s 2014 budget hearings would be used for Pazour’s increase, plus
another $1,000 from the General Fund.
Prior to the vote, Museum trustee and Chesterton attorney Bob Welsh formally
made the salary request while fifteen museum volunteers and supporters sat
in the audience.
Welsh said the jail museum for years had been simply “a collection of
artifacts” and when Pazour was appointed in 2008 that began to change.
Pazour, guided by his trustees which form the Porter County Heritage
Foundation, has overseen many renovations and exhibits that have vastly
enhanced the interactivity for the visitor.
The current exhibits “We are Porter County” and “Prehistoric Porter County”
use a mixture of stories, pictures, activities, audio and video components
to convey the history right here in Porter County, an approach many modern
museums have followed.
Welsh drew attention to the fact that the museum has focused on telling the
story of all of Porter County in understanding why each community is unique.
The “Stories Project,” launched earlier this year, tells the history of a
different community in each installment using oral-histories from residents.
This year featured downtown Valparaiso’s central neighborhood and next
spring will an exhibit will highlight the history of Ogden Dunes with
collaboration from the Historical Society of Ogden Dunes.
“We now have the capacity to do something that needed to be done for a long
time, expanding the museum to everyone in the county,” Welsh said.
The Stories Project was named History Project of the Year by the Indiana
Historical Society, Welsh said. Included in the museum’s list of accolades
since Pazour took the helm is the 2011 Attraction of the Year ROSE Award
from Indiana Dunes Tourism.
Welsh said Pazour’s accomplishments have “not gone unnoticed.” He has
received offers from museums in both Chicago and Indianapolis with higher
salaries, Welsh said, but Pazour would like to continue here.
Museum directors in other counties have salaries ranging from $60,000 to
$85,000 and Welsh said the County is getting “a bargain” having Pazour.
“With somebody as talented as Kevin, we have been able to convey to our
families of Porter County the history of their ancestors and predecessors,”
Welsh said. “It’s taken a whole lot to get to this point. We didn’t get here
Making the motion to honor the request and give the portion of Council
members’ salaries to Pazour was Council member Jim Biggs, R-1st, who has
been one the Council’s harsher critics of raises in the past.
But after taking a look at Pazour’s accomplishments, Biggs felt a raise was
Council member Jim Polarek, R-4th, gave kudos to Pazour after touring the
museum with his son’s Cub Scout group, “You did an excellent job,” Polarek
Council member Karen Conover, R-3rd, complimented Welsh on a well-made
request. “I wish I had you writing my speeches, Bob,” she said.
The sole “no” vote was from Council member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, who said he
still had concerns about giving a salary raise while the County is facing
large budget troubles.
Pazour told the Tribune he “did not expect” the raise and was
“humbled” by it.
“I will work to continue to make (the Council) proud and develop a museum
that all of Porter County can be proud of,” he said, crediting his success
to his team of volunteers.
The museum is looking to expand to the former Valparaiso Police Department
across from the County Courthouse but will still maintain a presence in the
old jail building, Pazour said.
A strategic plan for the new location is set to begin in January.