Although the Porter County Expo Center and Memorial Opera House have
experienced success over the past year, both are getting a long overdue
Porter Expo Center Manager Brain Schafer spoke to the Porter County Board of
Commissioners saying he is hoping to improve the interior aesthetics of the
Expo Center which has not been updated in nearly 15 years.
The commissioners’ approved Schafer’s request of $63,274 at their Tuesday
meeting for the improvements which will include replacing carpet on the
walls, painting the rooms and halls, sprucing up the front entrance,
replacing glass that has been cracked or broken and renovating the restroom
facilities which have slipped below standards.
Schafer said he would like the upgrade to give the Expo a more uniform look,
coordinating the color and style of the main hall with the two banquet
halls. He said the staff will oversee the project and will try to create an
Porter County Commissioner President Robert Harper, D-Center, complimented
Schafer on his previous efforts of refurbishing the landscape around the
exterior of the building and keeping the area clean. Harper said he expects
inside upgrades will continue to improve the facility.
Schafer said he expects the upgrade process for the building will take
approximately four weeks once they receive the funds which will come from
the county economic development income tax.
The commissioners also approved $53,945 to be used for improvements and
upgrades to the Memorial Opera House, $42,000 of which will be used for a
digital sound system upgrade.
Schafer, who serves as business director and executive producer for the
opera house, said the facility is hoping to use the funds to purchase
wireless microphone gear and is also looking to replace the older desktop
computer unit with four new laptop computers. The reason being that ticket
sales have risen drastically and the opera house’s box office would be able
to serve their customers more efficiently if additional computers are used.
County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, agreed with the request
acknowledging the progress the opera house has made.
“Success has its price,” he said.
Schafer said that a digital system will attract more acts to the facility.
He said the facility may be able to bring in big-name musicians that could
possibly give the opera house a bit of national exposure.
The commissioners and County Attorney Gwenn Rinkenberger showed strong
interest in the idea of expanding the acts.
“Do you think you could get Lady Gaga?” joked Rinkenberger.
Both the Expo Center and the Memorial Opera House have had a successful
year, according to Schafer, who also said the locations have been great
tourist draws for the county.
“We’re on the up and up,” he said.
Set for March 2
Rinkenberger said Tuesday that the Indiana Department of Transportation has
asked that all counties in the state complete an evaluation to determine if
all their facilities and services are accessible for those with
The American Disabilities Act is asking for counties to develop a
comprehensive report using public input that points out architectural or
systematic obstacles impeding people with disabilities from recieving full
use of government services and provide possible solutions on how the county
plans to remove those obstacles. Those who do not submit an evaluation will
be excluded from receiving federal funds from the ADA.
Rinkenberger said she will be working with the Porter County Plan Commission
and Tina Bengs of Hoeppner Wagner & Evans in gathering data for the survey.
A public hearing will also need to be held in order to receive public input.
Rinkenberger suggested to the commissioners they start the hearing during
the Mar. 2 county commissioners meeting. A notice will be sent to local
papers announcing the meeting in the same manner as regular public hearings.
Questionnaires will also be used to gather data.
It is yet to be determined how long it will take the county to complete the
survey but each step of the process will take some time, Rinkenberger said.
The commissioners received bid proposals for Aerial Photography and
Topograhy at the meeting in bundles delivered by the Porter County Plan
The mapping will be used to collect images and data for the countywide
comprehensive drainage study. The images will be collected by using LIDAR
Technology which can take photographs in one-foot contours, said Plan
Commission Executive Director Bob Thompson.
The committee made up of various county environmental officials and city
engineers will meet next Monday to review the bids. The committee will make
their recommendations at the next commissioners meeting on Feb. 16.
Thompson said he and Drainage Board President Dave Burrus hope the county
can approve a contract by March when the landscape is best fit to
Board of Health
The commissioners announced Deborah Hric as their appointee to the Porter
County Board of Health. Hric will be succeeding Visiting Nurses Association
clinical manager Marylyn Johns. Johns resigned from the health board after
she was chosen to represent District 4 on the Porter County Council.