Hoping to blend in
with the rest of downtown Valparaiso, the Porter County Commissioners
announced Tuesday they are seeking to rehabilitate the front entrance of
County Administration Building at 155 Indiana Ave., at a cost of about $1
renderings revealed at Tuesday’s Commissioners meeting show a central
walkway from the corner of Washington St. and Indiana Ave. with railings on
each side. The sidewalk will have a gradual slope rising up to the front
door with no steps.
To the south, trees
will be planted and strung with lights to give a lit canopy effect like what
the City of Valparaiso has downtown with nearby Central Park area, said
Commissioner President Jeff Good, R-Center.
“The sense of
arrival, as we call it, is everything,” said Good, borrowing a phrase
commonly used in the hotel industry, which he works in professionally.
“That is something
we need to do a little bit better job of doing at this building.”
The new entrance
will adhere to ADA standards, making it accessible for citizens with limited
mobility, and is a big part of the design.
“I’ve sat in this
chair and watched people struggle to get to the door for years,” said
Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South. “I like to be moving ahead with
something that has railings, a ramp, and it should be so much easier to
currently is a tiered series of steps that, as Commissioner Jim Biggs,
R-North, pointed out, are crumbling. It has not received any major
improvements since the building opened more than 20 years ago.
“I like the
drawing. It’s allowing the public to use space that all we are doing now is
walking over,” he said. “Much of this is designed in a safety factor for our
also be done around the parking garage on the south side of the building
leading to an entryway. The garage then can be made available for parking
during downtown events, Good said.
No money has been
allocated yet for the reconstruction. The Commissioners will need to discuss
a funding mechanism with the County Council.
“Our budget on this
is $990,000. We want it to be under $1 million. That’s our goal,” said Good.
Structurepoint is doing the redesign for $112,000 in a general services
agreement, which the Commissioners approved 3-0.
The building should
be something that residents can be proud of, Good said. “Your buildings
really signify who you are as a community. The (buildings) say who you are
as a county and we take that very seriously.”
policy to be revamped
One of the other
bigger discussion points Tuesday was a report by County ITS Director Don
Wellsand on how County employees are using the internet.
Wellsand warned the
Commis-sioners about potential security threats to the system. A threat
protection trial system was installed with Cisco’s system last month,
Wellsand said, and “caught a lot of things trying to get into our network.”
In the last week of
December, the IT Department removed 358,932 threats that were existing on
The price tag to
protect against threats would be $17,965 for one year, Wellsand said. Three
years of maintenance would be over $43,000, but would save the County money
in the long run, he said. Employees are currently spending 10 to 20 hours
per week tracking threats, Wellsand said.
The ITS department
also installed an email filter that stops many spam messages.
All employees have
access to the internet and about 60 have full access which means they can
navigate it just as freely as they do at home, Wellsand said.
inspection, Wellsand said he found out twelve of the most visited websites
on the County’s internet server included sites like Amazon that people
access for video and music. Facebook was the third most visited site which
also includes videos and chat features. Others included Google Play and
“These are the
types of things we are seeing on our network,” Wellsand said.
The total emails
for 2016 were 5,021,659. Wellsand said only about 40 percent of those were
business related. The remaining 60 percent were for personal use.
found that of the 550 employee email addresses, only about 350 actually
logged in last year. He suggested that it be decided with the department
heads whether the email accounts not relevant or being used should be gotten
Wellsand said the
10-year old server needs an upgrade this year. Each of those mailboxes would
cost $65 each, which would be about $35,000 if all 550 are updated.
“Based on the
numbers (Wellsand) has given us, it’s crystal clear we have a problem,” said
Good, who said he asked Wellsand last week to give a report. “This is
something we, with the department heads and officials, are going to have to
figure out how we are going to rein this in.”
It’s not only a
cost to the County but it is also creates the threat that someone could hack
the system, Good said. He and the other Commissioners said it also shows
that employees are not making efficient use of their time on the internet.
Good said he
intends for the board to come up with new internet usage policies. Biggs
said he agrees there should be consequences for those who do not abide by
“This is nothing
but a management issue, folks,” Good said, imploring the department heads to
also take action.
The money that the
County is spending on preventing malware should be spent on long overdue
upgrades to the County’s IT system.
internet access, powered by NetNitco, goes through the Administration
Building, Wellsand said. The data is saved on a backup server in case
NetNitco should lose its power.