Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Commissioners oppose gay marriage ban amendment

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Following in the footsteps of elected officials around the state and Northwest Indiana, all three members of the Porter County Commissioners voted in favor of a resolution Tuesday expressing opposition to the Indiana General Assembly’s proposed amendment to the State Constitution, limiting marriage to between a man and a woman.

Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, read the resolution urging members of the 2014 General Assembly to vote against House Joint Resolution No. 6.

HJR 6, more commonly known as the gay marriage ban, was adopted by a majority of state legislators in 2011 and must be agreed to again in the upcoming Assembly session to allow it to be included on voter ballots in the November 2014 general elections.

The Commissioners’ resolution gives support to a statement made by the Indiana Interfaith Coalition on Non-Discrimination last month that stating a specific religious view of marriage is in conflict with the Indiana Bill of Rights.

The resolution also makes mention of a study by the Indiana University Maurer School of Law which found more than 600 rights and obligations related to marriage that could be denied by HJR 6.

The Commissioners made it clear that another reason for their opposition is the shared belief of leaders in the Indiana business community, such as Eli Lilly and Cummins, that HJR 6 “jeopardizes” the state’s ability to compete in a global marketplace and is detrimental to attracting talent to Indiana.

“HJR 6 would impede the ability of Porter County to attract new businesses, diversify our tax base, and draw badly needed jobs for our citizens,” Blaney read from the resolution.

Voting to pass the resolution were Blaney, Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, and Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center. County Attorney Betty Knight will forward copies to the Governor’s office, the president of the Indiana Senate, the Indiana House Speaker, and to all House and Senate members who represent Porter County.

In the recent weeks Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas and Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott have also announced their opposition to HJR 6.

Wetland delineation

on Calumet Trail

In the business portion of the meeting, the Commissioners said yes to a request by Plan Commission Director Bob Thompson to hire Soil Solutions of Valparaiso for $18,500 to mitigate or delineate wetlands as required by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in regards to the Calumet Trail restoration project.

Soil Solution scientist John McQuestion and botanist Lydia Lloyd said a section of the west side of the trail where renovation is occurring between Mineral Springs Rd. and Tremont Rd. contains wetlands that meet the trail.

When a wetland is impacted, delineation must occur at another location at a 2-1 ratio. McQuestion said the delineation work will also take into consideration the National Lakeshore’s Restoration Plan.

The Commissioners said that, if feasible, Soil Solutions will be paid out of the funds allocated for the renovation work.

Building Corp. to reimburse commissioners

Also, Evans said the Building Corporation for the Juvenile Service Center is looking to reimburse the funding the Commissioners put forward last year for construction of the IV-D court at the Juvenile Center.

Bob Welsh, attorney for the Building Corp., said it was originally thought at the time of construction that the fund for the IV-D court would be reimbursed with state money, but it was later found that court construction was not permitted as part of the statute that established IV-D courts.

Welsh said that there was approximately $200,000 in funds left over on a bond that was paid up earlier this year and that the corporation is willing to use that to reimburse the Commissioners. The cost for construction is estimated in the range of $95,000 to $100,000, Welsh said, and as soon as the county auditor can determine how much was actually paid, the corporation will cut a check to the Commissioners.

The remaining left over funds will be held by the Building Corporation to be used for ongoing maintenance at the Juvenile Center, Welsh said.

Evans thanked the Corporation for their generosity.

Bikes on trains

It may not be long before you can ride your bicycle to the South Shore line and hop aboard with it.

The Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding with the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission that includes the County Commissioners pitching in $5,000 toward funding and evaluating an engineering study to the test the feasibility of accommodating bikes on NICTD trains.

Other entities partnering with NIRPC on this venture are NICTD, the National Parks Conservation Association, ArcelorMittal USA, LaPorte County, the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, NIPSCO and the Greenways Foundation.

The MOU states that excess funds will be proportionately returned to those who contributed to the study costs.

Other items:

-- A Jail Population Review program headed by Porter County PACT was approved by the Commissioners after the County Council okayed $147,690 to start the program at its previous meeting. The initiative will pay for PACT employees to assess which inmates are eligible for electric home monitoring as they await trial, which will mitigate the overcrowding issue in the County Jail. Evans said next year the Commissioners will talk to see if CEDIT funds can be a permanent funding source for the program.

-- The Porter County Waste Reduction and Recycling District will now accept entries from Lake and LaPorte counties in their Rain Barrel Paint Contest for next year’s contest that local elementary and high schools are welcome to participate in. The barrels will be displayed in the corridors of the County Administration Building and residents can vote on their favorites in the contest.

-- The Commissioners approved various bids for highway supplies for 2014 such as for limestone, slag, bituminous plant mix, motor oil, diesel fuel, culverts and guard rails, signs and sign posts. Evans also lauded the highway department for its work in keeping roads salted and plowed during the recent surge of wintry weather.

“If you’re pleased, we’re pleased. We’re doing the best job we can,” said Highway Superintendent Al Hoagland.

-- The annual Chalk the Walk event at the Porter County Courthouse to benefit the Family and Youth Services Bureau was granted permission to use the sidewalks around the courthouse. Chalk the Walk is scheduled for Saturday, June 14 with a rain date of June 15.

 

 

Posted 12/18/2013