Chesterton Tribune

New direction; Stinson to lead new Porter Town Board

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By PAULENE POPARAD

“I think the election showed a new direction was desired, but it will take time to go there,” said Greg Stinson, elected Tuesday to lead the 2012 Porter Town Council.

He asked the packed town hall audience for patience in seeing the changes the five new council members promised as they learn what needs to be done and the best way to do it.

Also elected unanimously was Elka Nelson to serve as council vice-president. Other members are William Cantrell, Rob Pomeroy and Jeanine Virtue. Clerk-treasurer Carol Pomeroy, also present, began a third term Jan. 1.

The night’s lone remarks under public comment were best wishes from long-time resident Don Whisler. “I’m sure you have the Town of Porter in your hearts, and congratulations to you.”

Numerous appointments to boards and commissions were made last night, but selection of department heads, consultants and making other reorganizational assignments were postponed until the Jan. 10 regular meeting.

Some changes did occur Tuesday.

The Porter Redevelopment Commission will now have a majority of Town Council, not citizen, members. Stinson and Nelson were tapped by a council vote to serve there, and Stinson’s presidential RDC appointments were Virtue and residents Al Raffin and Joe Simanski.

Raffin served on the RDC under the previous administration and will be its only returning member. Simanski is an attorney with municipal-government experience. All RDC appointments are for a one-year term. The Duneland School Board by law also names one of its members to serve as a non-voting RDC member.

The current Town Council was critical of the previous RDC for spending $350,000 to buy a 32-acre parcel for future development that now is the subject of repeated environmental testing.

Other changes came for the Park Board.

Stinson said it was determined that two of the board’s current members were incorrectly appointed by former Town Council presidents because state law requires a vote of the full legislative body. To correct the error the new council voted 5-0 to reaffirm the previous appointments of Patty Raffin through 2013 and Rondi Wightman through 2014.

In addition, the current Park Board appointment of Jessie Campaniello was changed from a Republican seat to a Democratic seat after she so voted this year. For that reason Nichole Crist was unanimously named to the Park Board as a Republican member despite the fact she was replacing Democrat Becky Maranto, who did not seek reappointment. Crist will serve a four-year term.

The Board of Zoning Appeals has a new make-up after Stinson and Nelson both had to give up their BZA seats because Town Council members are legally barred from serving. BZA appointments do not require a political balance be maintained.

The council voted to replace Nelson with Ken Timm, who will complete her term through 2014. Timm had been a BZA member but his term expired Dec. 31; Stinson named former Town Councilman Bill Sexton to that seat serving through 2015. As his presidential selection to complete his own BZA term through 2015, Stinson named John Kremke as a dual appointment on both the BZA and Plan Commission.

The full Town Council appointed Cantrell, town director of engineering Matt Keiser and Porter police chief James Spanier as the three non-partisan municipal representatives on the Plan Commission. Longstanding Porter policy had been to name the town building commissioner to the commission. All three men will serve through 2015.

In addition to Kremke, Stinson named Erik Wagner to the Plan Commission through 2013; both Kremke and Wagner are Democratic appointments.

Stinson reappointed Daniel Colbert to the Porter Stormwater Management Board through 2014. Cantrell previously served as a citizen member.

On a 4-0 vote the Town Council returned previous member Karen Pisowicz to the Porter Police Commission through 2014. Virtue recused herself from voting; after the meeting she explained Pisowicz is her former mother-in-law and the women still maintain a close relationship.

Several residents applied for the board/commission vacancies and council members thanked the applicants for their interest but noted it didn’t have to end there. “Come to the meetings. We want to hear what you say. Please stay involved,” said Virtue.

Cantrell urged residents to apply again when new vacancies occur, and he thanked Ken Timm for being an honorable opponent in their November election contest.

Stinson said residents who want to be involved in the community can do so by participating in available activities like joining the Park Department’s new Bud’s Buddies friends-of-the-parks group.

Stinson closed the meeting by repeating the new council’s theme of accountability. “Whatever decisions I make will be in the best interest of the town as I see it. If you disagree there’s a (town hall) microphone, my phone number is published or send me an email.”

In other business, the Park Board met very briefly prior to the Town Council to adopt a 2012 salary ordinance for Park Department employees. No raises were given or longevity to be paid.

The only full-time employee, park superintendent Jim Miller, will receive $50,360 and part-time park administrator Stephanie Miller $17,581. Park laborers will make $11 per hour; the summer arts & crafts director $1,575 for the session; the arts & crafts assistant $7.87 per hour; park secretary Stephanie Miller $50 per meeting and Park Board members each $50 per meeting.

 

Posted 1/4/2012