Porter Public Works superintendent Brenda Brueckheimer gave an emotional
recap Tuesday of her department’s battle with the Jan. 4-5 blizzard that
paralyzed the Duneland area.
For the most part, she told the Porter Town Council, residents were
understanding and helpful, but a surprising number were vebally abusive to
Public Works employees and even made hand gestures and threw snow at their
At one point, said Brueckheimer, she was so hesitant to travel in her
town-marked vehicle she went around in her personal vehicle because of the
language she was encountering.
“No employee, regardless of department, deserves abuse,” said council
president Greg Stinson. “If INDOT can’t keep interstates clear, why should
we be able to clear your cul-de-sac so you can go to Jewel?”
Stinson said it was a declared state of emergency and Porter plow drivers
were risking their lives to keep what roads they could open. He told police
chief James Spanier if it’s necessary to arrest a citizen who’s interfering
with town employees, the council will back him up.
Brueckheimer said her employees tallied a total of 880 regular hours and 340
overtime hours not including her own multiple shifts to battle 18 to 24
inches of wind-driven snow in extreme cold. “I can’t even commend my staff
enough,” she told the council. “They did an amazing job.”
She emphasized it’s not the town’s responsibility to keep snow away from
mailboxes, a source of post-blizzard complaints, because plows can’t safely
get that close. Brueckheimer and Stinson said it’s up to residents to clear
mailboxes and sidewalks if they want delivery, and to clear blocked storm
inlets, in this case frozen by the sub-zero cold snap following the storm,
to avoid flooding.
Brueckheimer thanked Spanier and fire chief Lewis Craig and their staffs as
well as park superintendent Brian Bugajski and park maintenance specialist
Jim Miller for their assistance. A Park Department truck sustained $500
damage in an accident but there were no injuries.
Council member Elka Nelson praised Brueckheimer for leading her department
under extreme circumstances, which prompted applause from the town hall
Resident Jennnifer Klug earlier had commended all Porter departments for
their blizzard-related efforts. “When most people wouldn’t dare venture
outside, they’re out there clearing our streets, keeping us safe.”
Brueckheimer thanked the residents who shoveled, brought the Public Works
employees food, thanked them and inquired about their well-being. She
encouraged neighbors to help neighbors in emergencies.
Stinson said the town had used its reverse 911 notification system to alert
residents as needed.
Brueckheimer also asked residents to call her department at 926-4212 to
report potholes so they can be filled.
Department heads retained
After praising current department heads for their leadership, the council
agreed with member David Wodrich absent to retain Brueckheimer, Spanier,
Craig, Bugajski and building commissioner/director of development Mike
Stinson will lead the council in 2014 and Jeannine Virtue was retained as
vice-president. Council liaisons to departments were named: Stinson to town
hall, Rob Pomeroy to the Police Department, Nelson to the Park Department,
Virtue to Public Works and Wodrich to the Fire Department.
Council appointments to town boards and commissions were made by unanimous
votes. Stinson and resident Joe Simanski were named to the Redevelopment
Commission, and Stinson’s presidential RDC appointments were Erik Wagner,
Virtue and Pomeroy.
Wodrich was named as the council’s municipal appointment to the Plan
Commission, and Stinson returned both Wagner and veteran member Jim Eriksson
to the commission. Eriksson also was a presidential appointment to the
Stormwater Management Board.
The council named Mark Lynk to the Metropolitan Police Commission and
reappointed Henry “Jay” Huyser to the Board of Zoning Appeals. Stinson will
continue as the town’s representative on the Northwestern Regional Planning
Commission, and Virtue will represent Porter on the Duneland Economic
Consultants also retained
Long-time town planner Jim Mandon was appointed to that post again, as was
Haas & Associates as the town engineer. Both Cender & Company and Umbaugh &
Associates were hired as financial planners, the latter for budget support
and long-range financial planning.
In other business, Craig urged landlords to return by Jan. 31 required forms
certifying they have working smoke detectors in their rental properties. The
forms can be obtained at the town hall, police station and fire station but
they must be returned to the latter by the deadline.
Clerk-treasurer Carol Pomeroy announced her office will be open Saturday,
March 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for issuing Porter Beach parking permits.
Bugajski said Sunday at 10 a.m. at Hawthorne Park the Frozen Feet 5K steps
off as part of the Crazy Legs Racing Series. Runners generally will follow
the Brickyard Trail.
The new winter discount rate for Hawthorne Park rentals has prompted more
inquiries and bookings, said Bugajski. He also thanked Liz Tilden and Leroy
Flores, organizers of last fall’s Porter Perfect Pint brewfest, for making a
generous donation to the Park Department from the event proceeds.