The Porter County
Board of Commissioners is nearly ready to present its plan for the 800
megahertz emergency radio system project to the County Council.
President Jeff Good, R-Center, said that if the Council moves the plan
ahead, the system could be running in the first quarter of 2018. The need to
switch to 800 MHz was pushed by the Integrated Public Safety Commission a
little more than a year ago. The system is what other counties in Indiana
have upgraded to. The emergency agencies in the county would be able to talk
to each other, and to other counties in the state, through radio.
For about a year,
the County and municipalities have strategized to come up with the funds
needed as the Commissioners realized they could not pay for the upgrade
alone. Towns like Chesterton and Burns Harbor have ponied up to purchase
their radios, while others have sought grants.
In the south half
of the county, the townships of Morgan, Pleasant and Boon Twp. received a
grant of around $700,000 for equipment a few months ago. The Commissioners
agreed 3-0 to honor the request to provide a 10 percent match for the grant
in the amount of $67,000.
Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, commended the efforts by the fire
departments as studies by Umbaugh & Associates indicated there was “not much
meat on the bone” on the County’s part to help pay for the radios. “This is
a really big deal. I can’t tell you enough how this moves us into the future
as a county,” said Good.
Formal costs will
be presented to the Council at its meeting next week on Sept. 26. The
Commissioners are working with Motorola for the implementation of the system
and earlier talks put the cost at over $5 million.
Good said a lot of
the work now involves installation of cell towers.
During the meeting,
the Commissioners voted in favor of two agreements dealing with cell towers.
First, a memorandum
of understanding was created between the Commissioners and the Porter
Township Government Board for a new 911 cell tower on a parcel of land
belonging to the Porter Twp. Trustee’s office. The MOU describes the role of
the two boards in terms of reasonability for maintenance of the tower.
Commissioners approved a tower licensing lease agreement with Aqualand Com-munications
Inc. to use one of the cell towers in LaPorte County for the 800 MHz radio
In other public
safety business, the director of the County’s new integrated 911
Communications and Emergency Management Agency Mike Brickner introduced his
new deputy who will be overseeing the EMA department in Porter County.
Lance Bella started his role on Monday. He previously worked as chief and
master chief at U.S. Steel in Gary.
“(Bella) will take
EMA to a new level in Porter County,” said Brickner.
at their previous meeting called for an audit of the County’s “archaic” IT
system and have chosen RSM, one of the largest public accounting firms in
the nation with experience in government IT audits, to study what the
infrastructure needs are. The audit cost would range from $22,000 to
$24,000, according to Good.
“This is the first
step to start down that path,” Good said. “We felt (RSM) was the right match
in what we’re asking for.”
forward to getting it done. This is another thing that is long overdue,”
said Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney, D-South.
Animal Shelter fund
retooling of the Animal Shelter and Animal Control ordinances will require
the Commissioners to create a new non-reverting fund for the receipt of fees
from local municipalities. The Commissioners voted 3-0 on first reading for
an ordinance to establish the fund for Animal Shelter services.
Scott McClure said this will keep the funds collected from cities and towns
in their own separate fund and maintain a clear line of accounting.
also voted 3-0 in favor of amending the County’s Animal Control ordinance on
first reading. The revision is to clarify the guidelines for Animal Control
Officers to assess for impoundment of animals, specifically dogs if they
have bitten a person or another animal.
“This just helps
clear things up because before (the ordinance) was a little vague,” said
Animal Shelter Director Toni Bianchi, who now oversees the County’s Animal
-- IT Director Don
Wellsand presented a contract with NITCO to run fiber optics between the
County Administration Building and the Courthouse which are two blocks from
each other. Wellsand said the new optic line will provide better speed for
internet connection between the two buildings. The Commissioners approved
the contract for $11,032 which includes labor and materials.
-- Portage resident
David Fagen was reappointed to the Gary/Chicago Airport Authority.
-- Rhonda Young has
been named Office Manager of the Commissioners Office.