Chesterton Tribune



Porter County to partner with Chesterton and Valpo for minor road construction

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The Porter County Board of Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding between the Porter County Highway Department and the Town of Chesterton yesterday.

The Board approved a similar MOU with the City of Valparaiso, as well. Both MOUs are pending approval by the respective Town Councils.

Highway Superintendent Rich Sexton said the MOUs are a result of a sit-down meeting the Department had with local municipalities earlier this year. “We talked to a lot of the local street supers, and they were interested in chip and seal. We talked about working with them to chip and seal some of their lower volume roads,” Sexton said.

County Attorney Scott McClure said the MOUs don’t add work where it wasn’t already planned. The County coordinated with Chesterton and Valparaiso and agreed that the Highway Department will continue over the Town limits on certain roadways instead of chip and sealing an unincorporated road and stopping at the boundary.

Per the MOU, the Department will chip and seal about a mile of roadway in each Town, in small sections, and be reimbursed by each Town. McClure said Chesterton will owe about $38,000 and Valparaiso about $48,000.

North Commissioner Jim Biggs (R) said the agreement is a win-win because paying a third party to chip and seal small sections of road would be cost prohibitive. Center Commissioner Jeff Good (R) pointed out that the County can improve the longevity of chip and sealed roads by having its own equipment and being able to grind down and reinforce the road base before sealing. Good also said he was glad to see the communication between the County and Towns.

Sexton said the Highway Department plans on having another meeting to talk to Town officials about this kind of partnership on Oct. 11.

Other Partnerships

A number of other partnerships were up for discussion at yesterday’s meeting. Good brought up a letter of appreciation from the Porter County Library to the County IT Department and Director Don Wellsand.

According to the letter, the Library expects a cost savings of about $100,000 over the next five years since Wellsand and his team helped the Library get connected to the county’s phone system and take advantage of county pricing.

Good said the Library will be able to pass on the benefits of the partnership to its patrons. “I think it’s sort of a big deal. Again, its cooperation. It’s working together, not getting down in the weeds and fighting over stupid things,” Good said. “This is about the greater good and trying to put things ahead and work together.”

South Commissioner Laura Blaney (D) noted that libraries are in flux right now, trying to stay relevant in a changing environment, and she said the Porter County Library especially is making great strides in that. “The whole standard of going in and checking out a book is just not how people use information anymore,” Blaney said. “Hopefully this savings will help them further that.”

In addition, Dave Bagnell, manager of the Porter County Fair, reported on the status of the Fair. Bagnell said he was excited to snag Luke Combs as a headliner this yearÑtickets for the show sold out in 12 minutes. Bagnell also said, “I wanted to tell you guys how much we appreciate the relationship the County has developed with the Porter County Ag Society.”

Bagnell told the Commissioners, because of a new relationship with the County, the Fairgrounds have been rearranged for better performance, there’s a new self-contained sound system for performances, and the Agricultural Society put $70,000 into installing fiber optic cables to improve the wifi on the fairgrounds so vendors can take credit card payments more efficiently. Bagnell guesses this investment will help increase revenue from food vendors by 20%. Bagnell also noted he was grateful for the County’s $4 million investment in the Expo Center.

Expo Center Director Lori Daly thanked Bagnell and the Agricultural Society, and noted that the Agricultural Society donated a booth to the Election Board so members can show off the County’s new voting machines to the public each day of the fair. Daly said this will be a great opportunity for anyone who hasn’t yet interacted with the new machines.

The Board also approved another MOU, this time between the Commissioners, the Stormwater Board, and the County Redevelopment Commission for the construction of a garage and utility shed to stage plow trucks and store equipment in South Haven for ongoing projects there.

Other Approvals

The Board approved a $14,300 contract with Municode Services for a recodification and restatement of Porter County’s local code, which McClure said is over 565 pages. McClure said there hasn’t been a sweeping update of the language in the code since the late 90s. Updating the code will take about a year, after which the code will also be more easily accessible on the County website.

The Board approved Facilities Director Ray Cloyd to enter a contract with Dude Solutions for an operations management software that will help the County keep data on its assets and what maintenance those assets have had or may need. The cost is $1,512 for 6 months. Good said the software will help the County make “better, informed decisions.”

The Board approved on first reading an ordinance establishing a $10 fee for real property conveyance documents from the Auditor’s Office after no one spoke for or against the ordinance in a public hearing. County Auditor Vicki Urbanik reported the increase in the fee was mandated by a state law that went into effect July 1. The Board will hold a second reading at its next meeting.

The Board reappointed Mark Taylor to the Porter County Airport Authority and appointed Bryan Waisanen to fill a vacant Republican seat on the Porter County Park Board. Waisanen is also the sitting President of the Porter County Parks Foundation.


Posted 7/10/2019





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