Presented by PCCRVC
Executive Director Lorelei Weimer, the plans call for removing physical
obstacles such as the brochure racks at the entrance and replacing them with
visual and interactive features to educate visitors about Lake Michigan and
the formation of the Indiana Dunes.
“A lot is focused
on the dunes themselves and we don’t take for granted that we have Lake
Michigan,” Weimer said.
A map of the lake
will be featured in the central part of the exhibit along with topographical
representations of the dunes and a narrative of the Dunes’ “success story.”
desk will be moved forward and its column removed, Weimer said, to make it
easier to receive guests. The room on the southeast end currently being used
by the NPS will now become the “destination room” for Porter County
attractions. A green screen will be set up for visitors to take photos with
selected images, with the option to send them to their e-mails.
The theater room,
which Weimer said is the most underutilized portion of building, will be
opened up and the seats inside movable to allow for dinners or reception
events to be held. The theater will loop videos on the “the story of steel”
in Porter County and an exhibit section geared to children is planned.
The gift shop and
book store will also be removed from the back corner and the plan is to have
moveable carts stationed throughout the visitor center offering merchandise.
Weimer said the
idea to reconfigure the center started in early 2014 and a committee was
formed to oversee the planning process including members from the PCCRVC
board and staff, the National Parks Service, the Indiana Dunes State Park
and the non-profit Friends of the Indiana Dunes.
When the building
opened nearly nine years ago, the NPS had planned on receiving $1 million or
so to create exhibits, but the funding never materialized so they ended up
using what they already had from the previous visitor center, Weimer said,
which is why many of the materials are in need of updating.
“It really is time
for a facelift,” Weimer said.
Weimer said the
cost for the whole project would be nearly $1.6 million, the majority to
cover the cost of the exhibit elements while the physical building
modifications would make up about 10 percent of the cost. No funds have been
The PCCRVC is
working with the NPS to identify possible funding sources, Weimer said, and
a fundraiser of some type could happen in the future. Weimer said she has
considered the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority as one
President John Evans, R-North, said the County pays $3.5 million into the
RDA each year so there is a chance for funding to be drawn from there. He
agreed the changes would give the visitor center a boost.
“It does need to
function better and this really is a great concept,” Evans said, who also
complimented the PCCRVC staff on recent landscaping along the exterior of
In other business,
the Commissioners made minor adjustments to the County employee health
plan’s pharmaceutical management.
Troy Scott of R&R
Benefits said that in the 30 days since the refurbished plan began issues
have arisen, just as he thought would happen.
One of the controls
in the plan is that any pharmacy prescriptions over a $1,500 threshold is
“flagged” by insurance provider Magellan Health, and needs verification from
a physician that those receiving the drug are using it for its intended
intent is to help the County contain overall costs on its health plan. It’s
caused concern among employees but Scott said that once the proper checks
are made, they will get the medication that they need.
“We’re not denying
access to anybody,” he said.
approved Scott’s recommendation to raise the control threshold on “specialty
drugs” to $2,500. Examples would include chemotherapy drugs and injectables,
Another change to
the plan dealt with preferred and non-preferred prescriptions. In some
cases, the preferred prescriptions are not the most effective for employees
and if there is a version in the non-preferred column that would work best,
the employee would be able to receive it at the same cost as the preferred
medication as long as their physician can substantiate the reasons for the
Scott said the
employees will be educated on the changes. He said the number of concerns
since the new plan went into effect have declined in the last couple of days
and he expects that to continue with the new modifications.
Evans said he
thinks the transition to the new plan has gone “very well” compared with
previous occasions when the health plan has been overhauled.
approved continuing a contract with Umbaugh and Associates as the County
Auditor’s office sets its sights on updating all records on parcels in the
County within tax increment finance (TIF) districts.
Urbanik said she wants to determine the base value of each TIF area and
determine the amount of revenue passed on to other taxing units. The Porter
Vale area in the Valparaiso City limits is currently the only TIF area that
Urbanik said she
hopes to have the updates complete by the Aug. 1 deadline for the net
certified assessed values.
Umbaugh has worked
with Urbanik these past few months to figure the correct amounts for
properties with abated property taxes.
named two appointments to the Porter County Regional Airport board -- Mark
Taylor, who has been on the board before, and Dante Pergher.
In other business,
the Commissioners voted unanimously to accept a bid from Stevens Engineering
of Portage for $27,685 for emergency replacement of the condensate pipe at
the County Museum, as recommended by mechanical maintenance supervisor Jerry