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.
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.
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.”
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
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
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.