Chesterton Tribune



County Council hires Harold Harper as new attorney

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At the end of Tuesday’s Porter County Council meeting, the Council unanimously decided to select Harold Harper to take over for Scott McClure as its attorney.

Harper is a lawyer at Harper & Harper Attorneys At Law in South Haven, a practice he shares with his dad, former County Commissioner Bob Harper. He received his law degree from Valparaiso University in 1997.

McClure served as the Council’s attorney since 2009 and was hired earlier this year as County Attorney by a split 2-1 vote of the County Commissioners. He has continued to act as attorney for the Council until a replacement could be appointed.

Council members all expressed gratitude to McClure.

“With (McClure’s) knowledge of County government, it’s not going to be easy to replace him,” said Jim Biggs, R-1st.

Communication with Portage

Attempting to make amends with Portage City officials over the investment of the sale proceeds of Porter Memorial Hospital, Council President Dan Whitten, D-at large, informed his peers that he has reached out to Portage Council President Mark Oprisko and member Patrick Clem.

“I want to have a handle on what their concerns are,” Whitten said.

The Council jointly issued a statement with the Commissioners on April 8 decrying assertions made by Portage Mayor James Snyder that the County is unwilling to help municipalities with infrastructure when it has a large sum of money from the sale of the publically owned hospital.

The City is considering passing a wheel tax that would match state funds set aside for local roads.

Whitten said he intends to keep the lines of communication open with Portage which is also asking the County to consider upgrading the North County Complex on Willowcreek Rd.

A committee was formed Tuesday consisting of Whitten and Council members Sylvia Graham, D-at large, and Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, whose district represents Portage.


In business matters, the Council approved the additional amounts of innkeepers tax money in the budgets for the Memorial Opera House and the Expo Center of $19,000 and $20,000.

Expo Center Manager Lori Daly told the Council the money will be used for expanding the facility’s website and mailing out a quarterly newsletter.

Rivas thought it might be a good idea for Porter County Government to mail out a newsletter of its own and inform the public on what the different departments are doing.

Whitten and Biggs said “it’s a good idea” but cautioned it would also be a costly one.

Other approvals

The Council approved all other requests 7-0, including staff adjustments for the Maintenance Department, the Parks Department and the County Surveyor’s Office.

Maintenance and Facilities Director Matt Stechly proposed to eliminate a custodial services manager position and replace it with a fourth custodian, for a total savings of $4,146.

The Parks Department will hire a programming coordinator with the unused salary money for a parks planner position budgeted this year saving $2,000, and the job title for drainage construction in the Surveyor’s office has been changed to “party chief.”

The Council agreed to pay for two outstanding invoices for veterinarian services left over from 2014 at the Animal Shelter totaling $1,868. Shelter Director Toni Bianchi said this will be the Shelter current on all its outstanding vet bills. The two remaining bills were discovered in January, she said.

A $317,197 total in Major Moves funds was approved by the Council for the local match of the grant to refurbish the runway at the County Regional Airport. The amount was originally approved out of hospital interest funds but the Commissioners agreed to draw it from Major Moves instead.

The Council agreed to pay out $441,500 in hospital interest to cover the first installment of the Sheriff’s Pension fund. Council member Robert Poparad, D-at large, asked his colleagues to consider paying the second half, too. The Council plans to discuss it at its May meeting.



Posted 4/28/2016





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