Chesterton Tribune



Township History Museum exhibit area will close next month for facelift

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The exhibit areas of Westchester Township History Museum will close in mid-September and reopen in early December because of a renovation project approved Thursday by the Westchester Public Library Board.

WPL owns and operates the museum in the Brown Mansion leased from Duneland School Corporation. The only area to be remodeled is a later addition to the historic home.

Anderson Construction was awarded the renovation contract at $39,935 including an alternate. Library director Phil Baugher said despite Anderson’s being the only bid submitted, project architect Scott Virtue deemed it acceptable because of the new track lighting planned as well as embossed ceiling panels to replicate real tin.

The exhibit areas will be reconfigured and new display cases added.

Museum curator Serena Sutliff said after the board meeting, “I am so excited it’s not even funny, but it’s a lot of work.” She stressed the Brown Mansion will remain open while the exhibit areas are closed, and museum programs will continue as scheduled.

Thomas Library librarian Leea Yelich reported the restroom renovations at Hageman Library in Porter are completed and the restrooms have reopened. A final punch list is being prepared by Virtue. A leak there resulted in a nearly $900 expense to replace the original 1975 main water shutoff because of serious corrosion.

Oct. 10 WPL hopes to award a bid to remodel the lower-level restrooms at the Library Service Center; that work is being rebid after the only proposal received was higher than expected.

Fire-alarm upgrades to the Thomas Library elevator also are completed, and Yelich said the WPL website is up again after being down for a week when Go Daddy switched host servers and the library’s IP address changed.

In other business, of four quotes submitted WPL technology specialist Mike Acsbok recommended the Library Board accept the proposal of Education Networks of America’s SmartVoice VoIP (voice over internet protocol) phone system. Vote was 7-0 to approve.

Cost is $5,000 for equipment and software and $500 in monthly fees. WPL currently pays just over $10,000 annually for local and long-distance phone charges.

WPL uses ENA for its internet access; according to the company, ENA provides internet and phone service for most Indiana schools and libraries.

Acsbok said he prefers a fully hosted cloud-based phone system to replace WPL’s land lines although some will be retained. He described the improvements planned and predicted they will be well received by staff. “The phone system we have here is so old, the employees will think this is magic.”

Even though the history museum building is owned by Duneland, Acsbok said there will be no problem linking it to WPL’s ENA network.

Also Thursday:

*  Thomas Library and satellite WPL buildings will close Aug. 22 from approximately 12 noon to 2 p.m. so employees can attend the annual staff appreciation luncheon.

*  Yelich said she and Baugher attended a recent presentation regarding the federal Affordable Care Act and WPL plans to provide programs for its staff, volunteers and patrons to help them learn to navigate the complex new health-insurance system.

*  WPL’s downtown Chesterton bandstand concerts and family-film series wrap up tonight. This year five concerts and six films had to be moved indoors due to weather, negatively affecting attendance.

*  Also down from 651 last year to 613 was completed participation in the recent children’s summer reading program; the drop was typical of similar declines at many area libraries, it was noted. The peak participation year was 2010 with 908.

*  The Library Board adopted an employee dress code detailing acceptable and unacceptable attire. Baugher said there have been only isolated incidents in the past. Commented board member Claire Jolie, “It’s better to know what’s expected.” A patron dress code previously was adopted.

*  Despite initial questions from board member Michele Corazzo, vote was unanimous to contract with Horizon Bank to manage WPL’s future investments; updated investment policies were adopted last month. Corazzo felt the agreement restricts WPL’s investment choices, but member Drew Rhed said risk levels have to be considered and the board’s first responsibility is to keep WPL’s money safe. The library has $7.8 million in all funds with most of it typically invested.


Posted 8/9/2013