Union Twp. resident William Pauley came up with an idea that the Porter
County Commissioners feel is worth putting up $10,000 for.
Pauley, who described himself as “a private citizen concerned with public
safety,” is spearheading an effort to place around local parks yellow
reflective 8” x 8” signs that would give GPS coordinates for folks to read
off to a 911 dispatcher in case of an emergency.
The idea stems from a personal tragedy that befell friends of Pauley’s when
they were running the trails at the Indiana Dunes State Park in January
As Pauley tells in his story, one of the runners suffered a fatal heart
attack while another ran to his car to call 911. The dispatcher asked for
the address for the state park, but like many citizens, Pauley’s friend did
Later they found the address for Dunes State Park to be 1600 North 25 East,
Chesterton, which is near the entrance but not close to where the victim
Although his friend died instantly, Pauley said there were delays that he
thought needed to be addressed.
“The key to this whole thing is efficiency,” he said.
Dispatchers are efficient when it comes to having a street address or having
a mile marker on the toll road and interstate, Pauley said. But, “what
happens if you call from a large or remote area with no address?” he asked.
While camping at Florida last year, Pauley saw a decal that gave GPS
coordinates for 911 response and thought he would suggest that Indiana Dunes
State Park officials put up GPS signs. He called a meeting and brought on
board Porter County E-911 Communications Director John Jokantas.
“We all came to the agreement that we had to do something,” Pauley said.
Following that meeting, park officials installed 31 signs at key locations
throughout the state park on trails and shelters and their GPS locations
were entered into the county’s E-911 database late last year.
Next, Pauley met with officials from the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
who told Pauley they “have had problems like that” and expressed interest in
putting up signs by the hundreds.
Pauley said he has contacted various departments and public organizations
who have all expressed an interest in the project such as the South Shore
commuter line, Valparaiso Parks, Portage Parks, the County Expo Center, the
Porter County Regional Airport, and the Porter County Parks Department,
which already has some signs ready to go for Sunset Hill Farm and Dunn’s
Bridge parks. They are also being considered for public trails such as the
Calumet Trail and the Prairie-Duneland trail.
Helping him in the matter is County Parks Planner Ray Joseph who recently
introduced the signs to the county park board.
County Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, said Pleasant Twp. Trustee
Jean Oehlman originally turned down putting signs in Drazer Park but has
Pauley said he is continually getting feedback, and even has heard from
places outside of the county like the LaPorte County 911 center.
The letters and numbers on the sign would pertain to the area. For example,
the Dunes State Park has the initials IDSP followed by a number and the
initials for Dunns’ Bridge would be PCDB.
Costs for each custom made sign run up to $350 to $400 but Pauley said
buying the signs in bulk from the supplier will lower the cost which is why
he went to the Commissioners.
Pauley’s request was for $8,800, which could produce up to 450 signs. The
signs would be free to the municipal units in the County but they would be
responsible for installation and maintenance of the sign, Pauley said.
County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North, made a motion the
agreement be for up to $10,000 in case more signs are needed. He and Blaney
agreed on the motion. Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center, was absent
Evans told Pauley he is to be commended. “You saw a problem and you took
action,” Evans said.
Pauley said municipalities interested in obtaining signs can contact him at
or Joseph at the County Parks Department, 219-465-3447.