Chesterton Tribune



Commissioners move forward with Expo Center renovation

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The Porter County Board of Commissioners received and opened sealed bids for work on the Porter County Expo Center slated to begin right after the conclusion of the Porter County Fair.

Tuesday, a representative from Skillman Corporation, the construction firm acting as the County’s agent in the projects under the umbrella of the Commissioners $30 million capital improvements plan, read off the bid amounts.

As part of the capital improvements plan, the Expo Center will have major upgrades beginning as soon as the County Fair and cleanup are done. The work was divided into eight bid categories, including general trades; roofing; metal studs, drywall and acoustics; flooring; painting and wall coverings; plumbing; mechanical; and electrical. Some companies bidding on the projects were Larson-Danielson Construction, Gough Construction, Gibson Lewis LLC, Klackner Interiors, Gariup Construction, Midwest Flooring and Interiors, Master Tile Inc., Artic Engineering, Mechanical Concepts, and D.A. Dodd LLC.

Commissioner President Jeff Good, R-Center, said the bids would be awarded at a special Commissioners meeting Tuesday, July 17 after Skillman vets the bidders. Good said the numbers are looking promising. “I think people can start to see how we’ve broken the projects down, and we really feel that that’s how we can get the best price.”

Capital improvements

In other capital improvements business, the Board released a request for proposals for the restaurant space in the old jail building at 157 Franklin in downtown Valparaiso. Good said the City of Valparaiso will be helping to corral the proposals so both parties can vet people who want to use the space. “We’ve had some pretty good interest in that space so far, so we’re cautiously optimistic.” he said.

The Board also announced a small-scale project continuing the renovation on the Administration Center plaza. Good said existing ADA parking didn’t line up well with the new plaza design, so the Commissioners are partnering with the City of Valparaiso to improve it. American Structurepoint will design the improvements for $14,500. Good noted that the County saved $7,000 by having County Surveyor Kevin Breitzke do a topographic survey needed for the design.

The Board also approved a payment of $69,300 to Gough Construction for work on new interior framing in the Commissioner’s and Auditor’s offices. The remaining balance is $18,488.88.

Other Approvals

The Board approved three ordinances--two on second reading and one on first reading. In the first ordinance, the Board approved on second reading an ordinance creating a non-reverting fund for receipt of a $2,500 Indiana Humanities grant for the Memorial Opera House.

In the second ordinance, the Board approved on second reading a video tape duplication fee that will mandate a charge $150 for Freedom of Information Act Requests (FOIA) to see footage captured on Sheriff’s police body cameras. The fee will help offset the cost of new cameras and is the maximum amount the County is allowed to charge based on a state statute allowing a fee for such requests, according to County Attorney Scott McClure.

Lastly, the Board conducted a first reading of an ordinance amending County statutes regarding truancy. McClure said a state statute allows County governments to enforce local truancy ordinances, and Portage Township reached out to the County to consider one. “This is all just to try and keep kids in school and have some enforcement,” McClure said. The Board held a public hearing where no one spoke for or against the ordinance before they passed it on first reading. A second reading will take place at the next meeting, August 14.

The Board granted permission for two events to take place on the Valparaiso Courthouse grounds later this year. The first event was the annual Popcorn Festival, taking place September 5 - 8. The second was a “Don’t punish pain” rally where people with chronic pain hope to raise awareness about the difficulty they face in getting needed medications due to the opioid crisis.

Dawn Anderson, of Portage, came to represent the group holding the rally, which she says is made up of many veterans and others with chronic pain. Anderson said chronic pain sufferers are casualties of the opioid crisis who don’t get much attention. She opened up to the Board to say that one dose of her medication that becomes harder and harder to get as doctors become more reluctant to overprescribe makes it possible for her to get out of her wheelchair. The Don’t Punish Pain Rally will take place on the Courthouse grounds on September 18 from Noon to 2 p.m.



Posted 7/12/2018




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