“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
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
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
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