A tragedy earlier
this year involving a worker at the Porter County Juvenile Detention Center
has prompted the Center’s director Alison Cox and Circuit Court Judge Mary
Harper to start a campaign to educate the public about domestic violence.
Over Mother’s Day
weekend, Brianna Hefner Ballor was shot to death at her home in Morgan Twp.
by her husband before he shot and killed himself in the presence of their
two-year old daughter, Harper said. The incident has “devastated” her family
and her co-workers, she said.
Working with The
Caring Place of Valparaiso, a shelter for women who have been victims of
domestic violence or sexual assault, and the Porter County Community
Foundation, Cox and Harper have launched “Bri’s RACE (Raising Awareness
Changes Everything)” and asked the County Commissioners at their meeting
Tuesday to allow the County IT Department help get the message out through
“We want to
saturate the county with information, but we do want to ask your approval,”
Harper said. “(Domestic violence) covers all ages and aspects.”
Shurr Blaney, D-South, agreed “social media is a fantastic way to reach
people,” as she and her peers said they would support the efforts.
“Go make our county
better,” said Commissioner Jeff Good, R-Center.
New stormwater fee
In other business,
the Commissioners voted 3-0 in favor of the new storm water fee ordinance,
which Good and Blaney also voted in favor of yesterday on the Storm Water
Management Board, along with County Surveyor Kevin Breitzke.
President John Evans, R-North, who was absent at the stormwater board
meeting, voted in favor of the new fee structure Tuesday.
procedure, the Commissioners opened a public hearing which saw longtime
environmentalists Herb and Charlotte Read give roughly the same comments as
they had Monday.
Both asked again
about the appeal process in the fee ordinance and how it would relate to
land preservation groups like Shirley Heinze Land Trust and the Izaak Walton
League of Porter County.
Charlotte Read said
she’d like the ordinance to state that groups like these are exempt, saving
them the effort of producing evidence that their land is protected at an
appeal hearing, but the Commissioners said the appeal process would be more
appropriate, so that the storm water board can verify how much or how little
an impact a parcel has on the stormwater system.
“It would allow us
to take a dive at every piece of property. There are a lot of different
things that go into this,” Good said.
Charlotte Read also
asked that the County create a frequently asked questions page to help the
public understand the stormwater system and fees, something she said that
Monroe County has done well.
Two residents from
the south part of the county inquired what the fees would be used for.
Explaining that the
board wants to make drainage project costs more equitable, Good said he
takes pride in the County’s ongoing efforts to resolve issues in the south
part of the county along the Kankakee River that were underwater during last
“We have some very
good drainage, but that comes at a cost. (The fee structure) is evening out
the playing field. It’s time now to get everyone involved because, no matter
what, water goes north and it goes south,” Good said.
the meeting, Evans announced that County Attorney Betty Knight has decided
Knight is a
principal at Knight Hoppe Kurnik & Knight Ltd. law firm and for three years
has served as attorney for the County Commissioners. She is giving up the
County gig to lighten her work load.
“I’m just getting
old and with the demands of my law work, I want to let someone younger (be
the County attorney), not that someone my age couldn’t do the job,” Knight
Knight for her assistance and said the Commissioners will be seeking a new
attorney. Anyone interested is encouraged to apply for the job. Knight will
continue until a replacement is found.
The longtime third
party administrator of the County’s employee health plan, Stewart C. Miller,
will be dropping out at the end of the year.
Mike Anton of Anton
Insurance, the County’s insurance service agent, said the County received a
60-day termination notice from Stewart C. Miller and recommended the
Commissioners select Benefit Administration Services as the new TPA. It’s
the same firm which has represented the Northern Indiana Commuter
Transportation District for the last five years, Anton said.
Troy Scott of R&R
Benefits said BAS will be able to adapt to the County’s health plan, which
underwent changes to reference-based pricing system to lower costs, and will
offer more use of technology.
The technology side
was a reason Stewart C. Miller felt it no longer could offer services to the
County, Evans said, describing it as more of a “mom and pop shop.”
agreed to start a one-year contract which will be up for review at the end
of its term.
should be getting their new insurance cards next week.
approved a change in the County’s phone company, from ACME to NITCO, could
yield an annual savings of $22,000. The Commissioners then asked IT Director
Sharon Lippens if she could bring more attention to the county venues.
Good said there is
a lot of “white space” on the County website home page that could be filled
with advertisements for events at both the Memorial Opera House and the Expo
Center. “I think it’s a value add for our venues.”
Lippens said she
would make the attempt.
The County Council
recently made an attempt to boost marketing for the venues by diverting
$150,000 annually of the Innkeeper’s Tax collected by the Porter County
Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission for that purpose starting in
2016, about $60,000 more than in past years.
The Opera House,
Expo Center and Museum are to receive $38,120 each, while the County Parks
Department is to get $35,640.
In other business,
Mike Jabo of DLZ Indiana reviewed the bids received for the emergency
replacement of the security system at Porter County Jail and said the lowest
and most responsive bidder was VideoTec of Highland, with a base bid of
$1,062,018 and a three-year lease agreement of over $1 million.
available for funding, County Auditor Vicki Urbanik said there are not
enough funds currently in the jail’s general fund budget to cover the lease.
The Commissioners put off approving the lease until it’s decided where the
funds can be drawn from.
Commissioners approved a $30,997 quote from F. E. Moran to replace alarm
detection and sprinkler systems for the County Administration Building, the
Courthouse, the North County Complex and the Sheriff’s Department.