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.”
Director Mike Brickner was granted a total of $31,696 in additional
appropriations for equipment and vehicle repair.
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.
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
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
Kevin Breitzke was granted an additional appropriation of $35,000 to
purchase a new vehicle for field work.