Chesterton Tribune



Commissioners OK United Consulting for engineering on two bridges

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United Consulting, out of Indianapolis, will handle the engineering design on two County-maintained bridges that are scheduled to be reconstructed in 2024.

The Porter County Board of Commissioners approved bringing on United as the design engineer for bridges 131 and 149 at its meeting yesterday.

County Planner Bob Thompson said bridge 131 (200 W over Damon Run) and bridge 149 (Waverly Road over the Little Calumet River, in Porter) are both in the County’s bridge inventory as needing attention. With sufficiency ratings below 50%, they both qualify for Federal Highway Administration funding, which is managed through the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) per a contract with Porter County.

Thompson said United is the same company that does bridge inspections in Porter County, and United was chosen from a pool of five proposals for bridge 131 and from a pool of nine for bridge 149.

The Department of Development and Stormwater Management first solicited letters of interest, then reviewed proposals from qualified entities. Thompson, County Engineer Mike Novotney, Senior Highway Engineer Matt Gavelek, and Highway Superintendent Rich Sexton worked together to score the respondents based on INDOT criteria. United scored highest for the projects.

Thompson said work on the bridges could start anytime after July 1, 2023--the beginning of INDOT’s 2024 fiscal year. Bridge 149 could be closed longer than bridge 131 because the adjoining pedestrian bridge adds complexity to the repair, according to Thompson.

Gavelek reported 12 of the County’s 132 bridges are currently under design.

In other Development and Stormwater business, the Commissioners approved Thompson to pull the letter of credit in the Department’s deal with Budz Plus, LLC for paving in the Tower Meadows subdivision.

Budz Plus, LLC agreed to finish paving in the Tower Meadows subdivision by May 31. The agreement was backed up with a written commitment and letter of credit from BMO Harris bank that was presented to the Commissioners at their December 2018 meeting.

South Commissioner Laura Blaney (D) asked if the group has made any progress on the paving. Thompson said they haven’t, and his attempts to reach their attorney have been unsuccessful.

Board President Jeff Good (R-Center) asked about the ownership of lots in the subdivision. County Attorney Scott McClure said Budz Plus, LLC only owns one lot in the subdivision, and sold the rest of its holdings there to Olthof Homes.

Both Thompson and McClure said they can’t recall the last time the County had to pull a letter of credit to get work done.


The Board also approved the Kankakee Valley Historical Society to apply for an Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) Brownfield grant with the County acting as its fiscal agent.

Tina Rongers, president of local consultant firm Karnerblue, is working with KVHS on obtaining grants to help grow the organization as a tourist destination in south Porter County. Rongers said the last time the County partnered with KVHS, also as its fiscal agent for OCRA funds, everything went smoothly. KVHS will provide the local match for the grant, if awarded, and do all the legwork on the project this time around, as it did last time, according to Rongers.

KVHS President John Hodson said the grant funds sought this time are for disassembling the historic Collier Lodge. The original parts form the building will be stored while the group builds up funds for restoring it.

Hodson said KVHS has a vision of a recreation area with restored historical buildings and potentially miles of trails along the Kankakee River on Porter County’s southern border. He said the organization is interested in partnering with the County Parks Department.

“We have plans for a much bigger, more comprehensive site down there. We’re more than just a preservation organization,” Hodson said.

North Commissioner Jim Biggs (R) praised Hodson’s work and the KVHS property. “It really is becoming a jewel for the County to have, especially if it ends up with our County Park Department managing it,” Biggs said.

PoCo Museum Recognized

The Commissioners announced that the Porter County Museum was awarded the 2019 American Association for State and Local History Award of Excellence for its current exhibit, “Do your part! A County Responds to the First World War.”

Museum Executive Director Kevin Pazour said the Museum is delighted to have won the award, only about 50 of which are given each year. He noted that the Museum has new Sunday hours from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and encouraged the public to come see the collaborative exhibit, which came together because of people all over the County.

“This is a situation where history repeats,” Pazour said. “There are a lot of really great people in Porter County who do their part, and this is just an illustration of how that is nothing new.”


Expo Center Director Lori Daly reminded residents that the Expo Center is having a public open house to show off new renovations from 3 to 6 p.m. Friday, June 14. Good encouraged residents to attend and see their tax dollars at work. The Expo Center is the first finished product of the Commissioners $30 million capital improvements plan, aside from the reworked plaza at the County Administration Center.

The Commissioners announced they are seeking applications for seats on the Porter County Park Board and the Porter County Airport Authority. To apply, fill out an “Application for Board Appointment” form, at

The Commissioners July 2 meeting has been cancelled and rescheduled for July 9.


Posted 6/12/2019




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