Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Porter County Animal Shelter construction ahead of schedule

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The new Porter County Animal Shelter northwest of the County Fairgrounds on Ind. 49 is nearly two-thirds complete and officials say it could possibly open before its target date of June 1.

At Tuesday’s County Commissioners’ meeting, DLZ Indiana representatives Mike Jabo and Stephen Kromkowski said that the project is 65 percent finished as the Commissioners approved Certificate #5 for contractor Larson-Danielson at about $445,000.

The groundbreaking for the estimated $3.25 million Shelter took place in September. Exterior walls are up and work has started on the interior.

The 14,000 sq. ft. facility will have more kennels than the current 4,000 sq. ft. facility on Ind. 2. Plans shown to the County Council last year indicated a larger public entrance and areas where dogs and cats can meet with their prospective owners.

“I drove by it yesterday and it’s a very solid building,” said Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North.

Commissioner President Jeff Good, R-Center, and Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South, said soon the materials and animals from the current facility will need to be transferred.

Good boasted about how impressed he thinks people will be when they see the finished building.

“I think people are going to be very pleased with this building and what it’s all about,” said Good. “It’s still trending under budget. Everything is going swimmingly.”

The Commissioners had planned to show pictures of the building at Tuesday’s meeting but the slide show got put off until next meeting due to a computer error.

DLZ Indiana had its general services agreement renewed by a 3-0 vote of the Commissioners Tuesday.

Master Gardeners

Also, the Commissioners asked Extension Office Director Annetta Jones if the Porter County Master Gardeners Association would be willing to help the County in landscaping the proposed improvements to the County Administration Building entrance.

“We wanted to make a change there and make it beautiful so we thought we could talk to the Master Gardeners. They know what they are doing,” Blaney said. She said the Commissioners are looking to have native plants.

Jones said it should be “no problem.” The group performed some landscaping around the building about ten years ago, she said.

“We’re looking to save some money and encourage that program,” Biggs told Jones.

“I think they’ll do us proud,” she replied.

The Commissioners announced earlier this month that they are seeking to rehab the entrance at about a $1 million cost. There will be a central walkway with railings leading up to the building and it will be ADA compliant.

For Jones, the Commissioners approved the 2017 agreement with Purdue University to have the extension program with four educators leading the 4-H Youth Development, Family/Health and Human Sciences, Community Development, and Agriculture and Natural Resources programs.

Also, Good asked Jones if the programs for the 4-H Celebration Sale printed each year at the County Fair could mention that County Government donated the funds to have them printed. Jones said her office could do that.

Juvenile Detention contract

In other business, the Commissioners approved a contract to accept juvenile delinquents from Newton County at the Porter County Juvenile Services center.

JDC Director Alison Cox said the per diem has been increased from $110 to $140, at the request of the County Council last year, for 100 bed days. That would mean the County would receive $14,000 from Newton County.

Cox said Newton officials approached her late last year after a center they used for juveniles was closed. She mentioned another county is interested in using the facility as well.

Employee handbook

Next, the Commissioners hired HR Unlimited Resources to look over the changes needed in the County Employee Government Handbook.

Suzy Bass, vice-president for HR Unlimited Resources, said her team will make sure all state requirements are included and then meet with County department heads to create a draft of the handbook. Once complete, it will be delivered to the Commissioners to review.

The intention is to make the handbook easy to read, Bass said.

Good said the handbook has not been updated in some time and it operates as a working document. The County will benchmark its handbook against other counties in Indiana, he said.

The Commissioners plan to include information on health care benefits in the manual and what its goals are, Good said.

In addition, the Commissioners approved a contract with P4 Global Consulting to put a separate handbook together for Enhanced 911 employees.

Memorial Opera House historic resolution

By unanimous vote, the Commissioners approved a resolution recognizing the historic value and core purposes of the Memorial Opera House.

Opera House Director Scot MacDonald said the resolution will make the facility eligible for state and federal grants. More than $126,000 was received last year and the Opera House hopes to bring in more this year. The funds help to restore and preserve the building, he said.

Good plugged the Opera House’s next production, “The Producers” based on the 1968 Mel Brooks film, which will run starting Feb. 17.

“Get your tickets because they are selling fast,” he said.

Shared Ethics appointment

Good announced that the Commissioners are taking applications for a citizen to fill a seat on the Northwest Indiana Shared Ethics Commission.

The appointment will be made at the Commissioners’ Feb. 21 meeting.

 

 

Posted 2/2/2017

 

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

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