Chesterton Tribune



County Commissioners approve $4.5 million renovation at old jail

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Bids are in for turning the old jail building at 157 Franklin in downtown Valparaiso into a new County annex building. Construction is planned to start tomorrow and to conclude in March 2020.

The Porter County Board of Commissioners approved contracts with the lowest responsible and responsive bidders in eight bid categories, as determined by the County’s construction management firm, Skillman Corp., at its regular meeting yesterday.

The following companies were choosen from a field of 26 bidders: Pangere Corp., $1,217,000 for general trades; E.C. Babilla, $210,124 for roofing; Stan’s Painting, $122,260 for painting; Midwest Tile & Interiors, $221,330 for flooring; State Line Fire Protection, $92,209 for fire services; Circle R Mechanical, $190,007 for plumbing; Steven’s Engineering, $1,400,000 for mechanical; and Continental Electric, $1,139,300 for electric.

The project is the final step in the Board’s $30 million capital improvements plan, according to Board President Jeff Good, R-Center. The County bought the building back from a private owner in April 2018 with the promise of moving several County offices into it to ease space constraints at other buildings.

Good said the top floor of the new annex will be dedicated to an updated 911 Center, since 911 has been sharing space with the Sheriff’s Department. The Prosecutor’s office will move into the third floor. Adult probation will move to the second floor. The Prosecutor’s Child Support division, currently housed in a temporary space on the first floor, will move to another part of the same floor.

In other capital improvements business, Good said the Expo Center is once again open for events after extensive renovations. He thinks everyone will be happy with the changes, and thanked various County departments for chipping in. “Everybody’s working together,” Good said. “It’s really good to see, so hats off to everyone for coming together for a common cause.”

Expo Center Director Lori Daly announced that there will be a public open house at the Expo Center from 3 to 6 p.m. on Friday, June 14.

Renovations on the downtown courthouse are also coming to a close, according to Good. New windows are going in this summer, and--South Commissioner Laura Blaney (D) noted--more landscaping will be done once the ground dries out.

The Board also approved a renewal of the lease for the Portage Health Department office, which they plan to move once the new North County Annex building is finished.

County Attorney Scott McClure said the current space is leased through August 2020, but “We don’t expect to be there until then.” The contract has a 90-day termination clause so the Health Department office can be moved as soon as the North Annex is ready.

Bridge Work

County Planner Robert Thompson reported bids are in for work on three bridges.

Rieth-Riley was awarded a contract for repairs on Bridge 135, Old Porter Road over Salt Creek, in Portage, for $673,536.54. Thompson said there’s a chance the bridge won’t be finished before kids return to school in August.

Repairs on Bridge 152, Wagner Road over the Little Calumet River, in Porter, and Bridge 208, Shorewood Drive over Lake Louise, in Valparaiso, will also be done by Rieth-Riley for a bundled price of $753,310.30.

Other Approvals

The Board appointed Nick Walding to the Chesterton Economic Development Committee.

The Highway Department is working on memorandums of understanding with Valparaiso and Chesterton for sharing the cost of roadwork, since the County can now do in-house chip and seal. Good and Highway Superintendent Rich Sexton hope more municipalities will join in on the cost savings.

The Board approved Thompson to enter a fleet management agreement with Enterprise. The Development and Storm Water Management Department will take the trade-in value of its three current vehicles as a credit toward the contract’s annual fee and get five vehicles--two trucks, two SUVs, and one sedan--in return.

Per the agreement, Enterprise handles vehicle maintenance and rotates them out as they reach maximum resale value, replacing them with newer models. The program operates like a lease, though the County will own the vehicles, McClure said.

McClure said the agreement will help the County budget, since new vehicles costs for that Department can be boiled down to a known number. Good noted it also keeps County employees in newer vehicles and saves money on one-time purchases.

Since the annual fee is $25,173 with an expected $19,000 in trade-in value deducted, the first year of the contract could cost less than $7,000.



Posted 5/22/2019




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