Chesterton Tribune



Commissioners renew Lake Michigan shoreline emergency declaration

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The Porter County Board of Commissioners renewed its emergency declaration for the Porter County portion of the Lake Michigan shoreline at its meeting yesterday.

The Commissioners previously declared an emergency over the excessive erosion in Beverly Shores and at the Portage Lakefront at its Dec. 17 meeting.

Commissioner President Jeff Good (R-Center) said yesterday state law dictates that the Commissioners can only declare emergencies in 10- or 30-day increments. The requirement is a way of ensuring that emergency situations are reviewed periodically and not just declared and left open-ended, he said.

County Attorney Scott McClure said since the emergency still exists, the Board should extend its emergency declaration until its Feb. 18 meeting and reassess the situation then. Emergency Management Agency Director Lance Bella agreed and said he’s hoping for freezing weather to slow down the damage.

Graham Woods Stormwater Issues

Commissioner Jim Biggs (R-North) reported residents of Graham Woods came to him with concerns about drainage and flooding from the nearby lake in their neighborhood. This resulted in what Biggs called a very productive community meeting where County Engineer Mike Novotney answered questions and took down concerns from at least two dozen residents.

Graham Woods is a housing development in unincorporated Westchester Township on the north side of Indian Boundary road near Brummitt Elementary School. Biggs said residents came to him with concerns about water on their properties and local roads last month. Some theorized beaver dams were backing up water and causing damage to the stormwater infrastructure in the area.

Novotney thanked a resident of Graham Woods, Ron Achterhon, who hosted the impromptu community meeting at his house. “I thought it was a great conversation,” Novotney said. “We laid out what we’re going to do. We’re working on a plan going forward with the long-term goal of replacing culverts so we have a structure that requires less maintenance and will manage water levels better.”

Achterhon agreed the meeting went well: “I think it did a lot of good for everybody.” Achterhon and his wife Teri told the Chesterton Tribune that the County had previously told them the stormwater issues in Graham Woods weren’t a County issue, but Biggs and Novotney have cleared that up and affirmed that the County will maintain the culverts in the area.

Teri Achterhon suggested that beavers are easy to blame, and that residents should also be mindful of debris in their yards that can be swept into and clog culverts. She added that Biggs and Novotney were helpful. “They have been great. They’ve been there every time we called,” she said.

Biggs said he’s learned and continues to learn a lot about stormwater issues and the County is better equipped to take residents’ concerns into account thanks to the County hiring its own engineers.

Other Business

In other Stormwater business, County Planner Bob Thompson announced the Department of Development and Storm Water has brought on Adam McAlpine as Assistant County Engineer. McAlpine is the former City Engineer for Valparaiso. Novotney and Thompson said they’re excited to have McAlpine, and he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Department.

The Commissioners renewed the County’s annual agreement with the Purdue Extension. Porter County Extension Director Annetta Jones made a reminder that 4-H enrollment is wrapping up soon, and there are some new offerings.

The Board approved IT Director Don Wellsand to enter a maintenance agreement with Network Solutions for trouble calls for the County phone system for $30,800. The Board also approved a quote for NITCO to provide additional off-site backup storage for disaster recovery for $199.95 per month.

Facilities Director Ray Cloyd got quotes for fencing at the outdoor kennels at the Animal Shelter. The Board approved the lowest, responsive bidder, Northwest Indiana Fence, who offered to replace both the front and back fencing on the kennels for $9,500. The Board also approved Cloyd to enter an agreement with D.A. Dodd to provide the County IT server room with a new HVAC unit for $54,801.

Honoring Doug Crandall

The Board of Commissioners presented a plaque to Doug Crandall, who is retiring from Animal Control after serving the County in various capacities for 37 years. According to Animal Shelter Director Toni Bianchi, Crandall started as a 911 dispatcher and moved into being a jail officer, sheriff’s deputy, and juvenile court bailiff before he came to Animal Control. Crandall worked under Bianchi for the last few years, since Animal Control has been based at the new shelter.

Bianchi said, “Doug has brought a lot to us in terms of knowledge and done a lot to make us a better department.” She added that he’s taken home more than one animal over the years, and wished him luck at his new position with the Beverly Shores Police.

Crandall took a moment to say he appreciates the efforts at the new Shelter. “I have a deep respect for the quality of work they’ve put into it. It’s been made a place where animals don’t end up, but in effect, have a new beginning. They work with them very well to give them new homes,” Crandall said.



Posted 1/15/2020




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