Chesterton Tribune



County looks to build out admin center courtyard for space needs

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The owner of 157 Franklin St. in Valparaiso, the former Porter County Jail, has declined the Porter County Commissioners $2.5 million offer to purchase the four-story building, Commissioner Jeff Good, R-Center, said at Tuesday’s meeting of the Board of Commissioners.

The purchase was one of the six components the Commissioners outlined in their $30 million capital upgrade plan, presented publicly to the County Council in June. Good said then that the building has the potential to house IT and election equipment and available office space for the courts.

Good on Tuesday said the results of two appraisals came in at a difference of $200,000, the average of which was $2.5 million which is the most the County could offer the owner.

“The County made the offer. It was not accepted,” said Good. “You know we’ve always talked about a plan B, which we have, and we are now researching and looking into filling in the courtyard here (at the County Administration Building).”

The courtyard area is on the southwest side of the building adjacent to the parking garage.

Good said the Commissioners are eyeing the possibility of adding an additional level to the garage after learning the building foundation can support it. The total price tag for the build-out would be roughly the same amount spent had the County proceeded with acquiring and renovating the former jail building.

“From our perspective, the (capital projects) plan has not changed,” Good said. “We can get the same space and continue on with the same program we had before. It’s the same thing, just a different building. The rest of the plan stays as goes.”

The County Council at its August meeting voted 6-0 in favor of proceeding with a bond issue for the $30 million plan on first reading. The bond, if approved, will be paid back over 20 years with earnings from the investment of the Porter Memorial Hospital sale proceeds or local income tax at $2.1 million per year.

The Council will vote to adopt the measure on second reading at its upcoming meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 26.

Meanwhile, Good read a prepared statement reaffirming the Commissioners stance to not accept Portage City Officials’ proposal to build a new building in downtown Portage as opposed to remodeling the North County Complex on Willowcreek Ave. A copy of the statement was emailed to news media and appears in today’s Chesterton Tribune.

Veterans fundraiser proclamation

Also on Tuesday, the Commissioners approved a proclamation by members of the Porter County chapter of Disabled American Veterans to declare a National Forget-Me-Not Drive Day, which took place on Sept. 16.

Chapter members Mitch Mullins, Barbara Anne Smith and Jeff Brooks along with Porter County Veterans Affairs Director Jim Atkinson said in the proclamation the Forget-Me-Not Flower is used as symbol of remembering the sacrifice and service of the military to preserve the freedoms of our nation.

Mullins said there are 1.3 million members of the DVA and the Porter County Chapter, which was chartered two years ago, has 117 members currently. The donations to DVA help transport disabled veterans to and from medical treatments.

“Keep doing good out there,” Good told the group, which was followed by applause from those in the audience.

Septic Smart Week

The Commissioners adopted another proclamation for Septic Smart Week in Porter County by the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems Program (MS4).

MS4 Coordinator Rich Hudson said this week is to educate where water flows within the county. The northern half mostly drains into Lake Michigan, he said, and 90 to 95 percent of properties in the unincorporated areas are on septic systems. This week encourages residents to take care of their septic systems.

“It’s to bring awareness that a septic system maintenance program is very important to preveny illicit discharge,” Hudson said.


Posted 9/21/2017




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