Commissioners voted 3-0 Tuesday to renew the lease with the Indiana Dunes
National Lakeshore, for space at the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center,
for up to another three years.
Recreation and Visitors Commission Attorney David Hollenbeck said leases
with the National Park Service are made through the General Service
The County has a
memorandum of understanding with the GSA as well, but that is “still a work
in progress” and will be approved later for the lease to move forward.
Director Lorelei Weimer said the visitors commission and the Lakeshore will
discuss the MOU, including the possibility of a long-term lease of “at least
10 years,” because the relationship between them is “so solid.”
The previous lease
was for five years and it seemed to “come up so quickly,” Weimer said.
The Visitor Center
has been shared since it opened in November 2006.
The building is
owned by the Porter County Board of Commis-sioners.
In the new lease,
the first year is fully committed while the last two years are negotiable.
It would start this November and would be in place until November 2019 for
the maximum, Hollenbeck said.
For the first year,
the National Lakeshore will pay a total of $65,104. It is to pay $67,057 in
the second and $69,069 for the third. That is 20 percent of fair market
value for rent, Weimer said, along with additional costs in operation
expenses and long-term capital improvement.
In other business
Tuesday, the Commissioners agreed to procure a merchant’s agreement with
Heartland Bank for the County Animal Shelter to accept donations online.
Heartland will hold
the donation money from the Shelter’s website in a checking account and
regularly will deposit it into the Shelter’s non-reverting donation fund
overseen by the County Auditor’s Office.
Scott McClure said the reason the separate checking account is needed is
because the donations are not public tax dollars. Donations made by credit
card are charged a $1.99 processing fee, which the County can’t take in,
similar to when someone pays their property tax bills online.
Heartland also has
a merchant’s agreement with the Expo Center, McClure said.
Curt Ellis, who is
the contractor paid to operate the Shelter’s website and Facebook page, said
he feels the Shelter should pay the fees so that people will not be charged
for making a donation.
In the agreement,
The County will pay a monthly merchant’s charge of $24.95 which will be
offset by the donation fund.
Good said he would
like to see the County start leveraging the volume of donations made to the
Shelter or Expo Center and see if a better rate can be negotiated when the
contract comes up again. That way other County venues can use the service
with better pricing.
In other Animal
Shelter news, the Commissioners approved three change orders for the ongoing
construction of a replacement shelter on Ind. 49 near the fairgrounds.
architect with Larson-Danielson, said the Shelter will have LED lights
rather than florescent bulbs. The LED lights will allow the County to save
on energy costs.
order was to put an onsite generator for the facility back into the scope of
construction. The third was for the addition of two interior doors for
security in the private areas of the Shelter where animals will be treated.
The construction is
making progress and “the walls are up,” said Witte.
“The colors are
selected and all we have to do is build it,” added Commissioner Jeff Good,
Commissioners approved renewing contracts for the Towns of Hebron and Kouts
to receive animal control services with the County Sheriff’s Department for
Kouts’ fee is
$1,600 and Hebron’s is $5,600. The fees are split evenly among the Sheriff’s
Department and the Animal Shelter.
Towards the end of
the meeting, Commissioner President John Evans, announced that Highway
Superintendent David James has tendered his resignation and will be leaving
on Thursday, Oct. 13.
have appointed Highway Assistant Andrew McKay to be interim superintendent
as they begin a search for a permanent department director.
longtime superintendent Al Hoagland after he retired in 2014. Good said
James in his letter mentioned he is moving closer to retirement and looking
at other opportunities.
Commissioners approved on second reading a petition to vacate an alley on
the south side of U.S. 20 on Willow St. in the Town of Pines. The owner,
DDALT Corporation, will be using the property for well monitoring, said
Robert Thompson, Director of Development and Stormwater Management for the
-- Final readings
on ordinances were approved to start five non-reverting funds for the
Memorial Opera House to hold grants from the AOC Arts Project, Arts Midwest
Touring, United Way Power of Youth, the Anderson Foundation and the PCCD
Sparking the Arts Grant.
-- A first reading
was given on an ordinance to create a non-reverting fund to hold funds from
a planning grant given for the preservation of the historic Collier Lodge in