Chesterton Tribune



Commissioners name courtroom after Mary Harper

Back To Front Page



The Porter County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution last week naming a courtroom after long-time Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary R. Harper, who retired last year.

Governor Eric J. Holcomb appointed Republican Mary DeBoer to finish Harper’s term when Harper retired last year after 23 years as Porter Circuit Court judge.

According to the resolution detailing Harper’s accomplishments, Harper became Porter Circuit Court Judge in 1996. Before that, she was the first female deputy prosecutor and chief deputy prosecutor in Porter County from 1975 to 1981. She then served 12 years after being elected Porter County’s first female superior court judge. Upon her retirement, Harper was the longest serving female judge in Indiana history, says the resolution.

Part of the resolution, read into the record by Assistant to the Commissioner’s Curt Ellis, is as follows:

“Whereas, during her tenure as judge of the circuit court, Judge Harper initiated many new and innovative programs to serve juveniles and their families, including but not limited to the juvenile and family drug court, family court, mental health diversion program, juvenile detention alternative initiative, free divorce and paternity mediation services, and truancy court; and,

“Whereas, the Porter County Board of Commissioners wishes to recognize Judge Harper’s 40 years of groundbreaking and exemplary service to the people of Porter County,

“Therefore, be it resolved, that the Porter County Commissioners hereby designate and name the courtroom at the Porter County Juvenile Services Center as the Honorable Mary R. Harper courtroom, effective this 28th day of January in the year 2020.”


The Board greenlit the Porter County Agricultural Society to replace the horse barn, which Dave Bagnall of the Fair Board said is one of the oldest buildings on the fairgrounds, with two smaller barns, one for horses and one for poultry. Bagnall said the move will better equip the 4-H program for their growing goat and poultry programs, since larger animals are now more expensive and less popular to raise.

The total cost of building two barns with electricity and 60 horse stalls and demolishing the old barn is estimated to be approximately $435,000, to be paid for by the Ag Society. The horse barn and the other buildings at the Fairgrounds besides the Expo Center were built by the Ag Society and continue to be maintained by the Ag society, but were given to the County, according to Bagnall. Projects on the buildings require the Commissioners approval, per a lease agreement. Bagnall also suggested the Commissioners and the Ag Society revisit the lease agreement soon for routine updates, since parts of it are obsolete.

The Board also approved Memorial Opera House Director Scot MacDonald to enter a service agreement with ZFX Flying Effects for a manual flying track system for $6,925 so actors can fly during the Opera House’s run of “Mary Poppins.” MacDonald said ZFX will handle take-down and install for a temporary flying track and train the Opera House staff and volunteers who will be using it. ZFX has worked with historical buildings before, and came highly recommended by many theatre professionals MacDonald talked to at a recent conference, he said.

The Board approved the Sheriff’s Department to buy a new bomb suit from MED-ENG, LLC for $85,621.

Park Expansion Approved

The Board approved on second reading two ordinances to create funds for the receipt of grants for the Porter County Park Department’s acquisition of 35 acres adjoining the Brincka-Cross Gardens in Pine Township. The two funds are for a $150,000 Lake Michigan Coastal Program Grant and a $179,000 Conservation Fund grant.

Park Board Vacancy

In other Park Department business, the Commissioners have not yet made their Democratic appointment to the Park Board since a 2019 change in State law gave them an additional appointment to the Park Board. They now have two appointments, who must be of opposite political parties. The Commissioners said at their last meeting that they were re-advertising for more applicants and would make an appointment Jan. 28.

911 Director Tony Stua reported he’s created a proprietary training manual for Porter County 911. Having the manual will help the Department provide consistent training and establishes protocols for emergency services that are unique to Porter County.


Posted 2/4/2020




Search This Site:

Custom Search