The Porter County
Board of Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding between the
Porter County Highway Department and the Town of Chesterton yesterday.
The Board approved
a similar MOU with the City of Valparaiso, as well. Both MOUs are pending
approval by the respective Town Councils.
Superintendent Rich Sexton said the MOUs are a result of a sit-down meeting
the Department had with local municipalities earlier this year. “We talked
to a lot of the local street supers, and they were interested in chip and
seal. We talked about working with them to chip and seal some of their lower
volume roads,” Sexton said.
Scott McClure said the MOUs don’t add work where it wasn’t already planned.
The County coordinated with Chesterton and Valparaiso and agreed that the
Highway Department will continue over the Town limits on certain roadways
instead of chip and sealing an unincorporated road and stopping at the
Per the MOU, the
Department will chip and seal about a mile of roadway in each Town, in small
sections, and be reimbursed by each Town. McClure said Chesterton will owe
about $38,000 and Valparaiso about $48,000.
Jim Biggs (R) said the agreement is a win-win because paying a third party
to chip and seal small sections of road would be cost prohibitive. Center
Commissioner Jeff Good (R) pointed out that the County can improve the
longevity of chip and sealed roads by having its own equipment and being
able to grind down and reinforce the road base before sealing. Good also
said he was glad to see the communication between the County and Towns.
Sexton said the
Highway Department plans on having another meeting to talk to Town officials
about this kind of partnership on Oct. 11.
A number of other
partnerships were up for discussion at yesterday’s meeting. Good brought up
a letter of appreciation from the Porter County Library to the County IT
Department and Director Don Wellsand.
According to the
letter, the Library expects a cost savings of about $100,000 over the next
five years since Wellsand and his team helped the Library get connected to
the county’s phone system and take advantage of county pricing.
Good said the
Library will be able to pass on the benefits of the partnership to its
patrons. “I think it’s sort of a big deal. Again, its cooperation. It’s
working together, not getting down in the weeds and fighting over stupid
things,” Good said. “This is about the greater good and trying to put things
ahead and work together.”
Laura Blaney (D) noted that libraries are in flux right now, trying to stay
relevant in a changing environment, and she said the Porter County Library
especially is making great strides in that. “The whole standard of going in
and checking out a book is just not how people use information anymore,”
Blaney said. “Hopefully this savings will help them further that.”
In addition, Dave
Bagnell, manager of the Porter County Fair, reported on the status of the
Fair. Bagnell said he was excited to snag Luke Combs as a headliner this
yearÑtickets for the show sold out in 12 minutes. Bagnell also said, “I
wanted to tell you guys how much we appreciate the relationship the County
has developed with the Porter County Ag Society.”
Bagnell told the
Commissioners, because of a new relationship with the County, the
Fairgrounds have been rearranged for better performance, there’s a new
self-contained sound system for performances, and the Agricultural Society
put $70,000 into installing fiber optic cables to improve the wifi on the
fairgrounds so vendors can take credit card payments more efficiently.
Bagnell guesses this investment will help increase revenue from food vendors
by 20%. Bagnell also noted he was grateful for the County’s $4 million
investment in the Expo Center.
Director Lori Daly thanked Bagnell and the Agricultural Society, and noted
that the Agricultural Society donated a booth to the Election Board so
members can show off the County’s new voting machines to the public each day
of the fair. Daly said this will be a great opportunity for anyone who
hasn’t yet interacted with the new machines.
The Board also
approved another MOU, this time between the Commissioners, the Stormwater
Board, and the County Redevelopment Commission for the construction of a
garage and utility shed to stage plow trucks and store equipment in South
Haven for ongoing projects there.
The Board approved
a $14,300 contract with Municode Services for a recodification and
restatement of Porter County’s local code, which McClure said is over 565
pages. McClure said there hasn’t been a sweeping update of the language in
the code since the late 90s. Updating the code will take about a year, after
which the code will also be more easily accessible on the County website.
The Board approved
Facilities Director Ray Cloyd to enter a contract with Dude Solutions for an
operations management software that will help the County keep data on its
assets and what maintenance those assets have had or may need. The cost is
$1,512 for 6 months. Good said the software will help the County make
“better, informed decisions.”
The Board approved
on first reading an ordinance establishing a $10 fee for real property
conveyance documents from the Auditor’s Office after no one spoke for or
against the ordinance in a public hearing. County Auditor Vicki Urbanik
reported the increase in the fee was mandated by a state law that went into
effect July 1. The Board will hold a second reading at its next meeting.
reappointed Mark Taylor to the Porter County Airport Authority and appointed
Bryan Waisanen to fill a vacant Republican seat on the Porter County Park
Board. Waisanen is also the sitting President of the Porter County Parks