Chesterton Tribune



County Council OKs $28.5 million for Courthouses and Expo Center

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The Porter County Council approved $28.5 million in additional appropriations for Commissioners capitol improvement projects at its meeting Tuesday night.

The $28.5 million consists of $4.5 million for consultants and $24 million for contractual services. County Attorney Scott McClure reported that the first projects will be improvements to the Portage Courthouse, the Expo Center, the Valparaiso Courthouse, and the new out-building planned for the Porter County Government North County Complex in Portage. McClure said the Portage Courthouse will be fully renovated and the Commissioners announced recently that the new out-building at the North County Complex will house the Portage Township Trustee and the Portage Food Bank as well as a community room, assessor’s office, and health department office. There are three bridge projects on the agenda too.

McClure also said he hopes to have Skillman Corp., the consultant acting as owner’s representative for the County on the capital improvement projects, at the next County Council meeting to provide more details on a timeline and budget for each project. McClure described what was in the works: “For each project, you’ll see the total amount allocated, how much of that is design, how much of that is construction, and as we keep coming back to you every 30 or 60 days, you’ll see how those line items are panning out.”

Other Business

Public Safety Director Mike Brickner was granted a total of $31,696 in additional appropriations for equipment and vehicle repair.

Brickner also presented a summary of the recent flooding event to the Council. He reported that water levels have not receded completely, impeding comprehensive damage assessments. As it stands, the damage is estimated to exceed $3.8 million. The Porter County Emergency Management Agency worked with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to assess damage on over 100 affected houses and provided that information to Governor Eric Holcomb so he can consider Porter County for a state disaster declaration. Federal funds can only be released if Holcomb gets Presidential approval for the declaration.

Brickner took a moment to commend County employees again for their swift work and collaboration dealing with the floods. “The teamwork was phenomenal. Everybody worked together and communicated so well,” he said. He also had high praise for Lance Bella, the new director of the EMA. “This was a pretty significant event, and Director Bella did an outstanding job. It’s good for everybody to know that,” he added.

Michelle Benson from the Porter County Soil and Water Conservation District, which assists County residents with questions and problems related to soil, water, and environmental resources, appeared to deliver the District’s 65th annual report. Benson took a moment to thank Don Wellsand and his employees in the County IT Department who designed a new logo for the Soil and Water Conservation District free of charge. Benson said the help saved them about $500.

Benson also expressed gratitude for National Park Service and United States Geological Survey support on the Soil and Water Conservation District’s projects, including a recent in-depth study of the East Branch of the Little Calumet River.

County Surveyor Kevin Breitzke was granted an additional appropriation of $35,000 to purchase a new vehicle for field work.



Posted 3/21/2018




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