Chesterton Tribune



Indiana Dunes Visitor Center marks ten years at US 20/Ind. 49 location

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The Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center will hit its ten-year milestone later this month, Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission Executive Director Lorelei Weimer told her board at its meeting last week.

On Nov. 29, 2006, local officials and environmentalists packed the visitor center to dedicate the facility at 1215 N. Ind. 49 at the southeast corner of the U.S. 20 cloverleaf in Porter.

The Visitor Center has since been home to the PCCRVC and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore through a partnership of Federal and County governments. It was built after a long-time collaboration between the National Park Service, Department of Interior, Indiana Dunes State Park, and the Department of Natural Resources.

“It’s amazing it’s been ten years already. I still call it the new visitor center. That’s what it is like for me,” said Weimer.

Recently, the Center has seen a few added attractions with the dedication of the Judy Chaplin Memorial Garden, the connection of the Dunes-Kankakee Trail and an art walk with murals created this summer by artist Ryan “ARCY” Christianson.

Concept plans were made last year for a $1.6 million floor space redesign that would incorporate visual and interactive features to educate visitors about the Indiana Dunes.

2017 Tourism Grants

The board voted unanimously on the grant committees recommendation to award $26,250 in tourism development grants to local community festivals, sporting competitions and other events that have the potential to boost tourism and to help the events to grow.

PCCRVC Vice-President Scott Tuft said 15 out of the 17 applicants were awarded grants.

The grants can be used for promotion expenses and print materials such as brochures and websites.

Each applicant must give the committee specific details as to how many visitors they are expecting and what they will do to achieve that goal. Tuft said overnight stays are a major component of the grants and many of the music festivals have booked a lot of rooms.

“That’s what we want to see coming to this community,” said Tuft.

Local grant recipients include Gears of Hope Duneland Tour, $2,000; Indiana Dunes Birding Festival, $2,500; Prairie Music Fest, $2,500; Dunes Learning Center camps, $1,000; and Hooked on Art, $1,500.

Committee members met last Wednesday to consider the applicants. Tuft sits on the committee with PCCRVC Treasurer Richard Riley and Cathy Brown.

In other action:

-- The board authorized Weimer to send letters of support to agencies for the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore to receive $27.4 million of deferred maintenance money. The National Park Service recently released its deferred maintenance statistics from the 2015 fiscal year which reported nearly $12 billion backlogged for national parks in deferred maintenance to improve infrastructure, facilities, trails and campgrounds.

-- The October Innkeeper’s tax collection check for October was $145,746, a year-to-date increase of 2.5 percent on a cash basis from 2015, Riley reported in his Treasurer’s report.

-- PCCRVC Assistant Director Christine Livingston showed the board the new fishing attractions page on the Indiana Dunes Tourism website.

-- The board will meet next on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 4 p.m. at Riley’s Railhouse in Chesterton. Weimer said she will report on the latest economic impact study for tourism in the county.



Posted 11/21/2016




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