Plans to refurbish
the Calumet Trail are being revived as NIPSCO finishes replacing a natural
gas line beneath the trail.
At Tuesday’s Porter
County Commissioners meeting, Director of the County’s Development and
Stormwater Management Depart-ment Robert Thompson said after the pipeline
installation is complete, the County and the Indiana Department of
Transportation will let for construction.
voted 3-0 to renew the agreement with INDOT for work on the Calumet Trail
originally planned in 2013. Thompson said the construction was put on hold
two years ago when the trail partners learned of the pipeline project.
NIPSCO owns the
easement where the trail runs parallel to U.S. 12 and the Northern Indiana
Transportation Commuter District’s South Shore tracks, but the trail is
maintained by the Porter County Parks Department..
As in the original
plan, this phase of construction will cover nearly two miles between Mineral
Springs Rd. in the town of Porter and Tremont Rd. in Westchester Township.
Thompson had said
the stretch of trail floods frequently and the project will involve putting
in asphalt to raise the trail.
The funding is
still available, Thompson said. A grant of $400,000 came from the Northwest
Indiana Regional Development Authority through the Town of Porter.
That will be a
local match to the $1.6 million in federal transportation enhancement
grants, for a total of $2 million, Thompson said.
The trail has been
closed since mid-July due to the pipeline replacement from East State Park
Boundary Rd. to Mineral Springs Rd. and is expected to reopen next month.
Thompson said he
has been in contact with NICTD as its double-tracking proposal may affect
the trail’s construction. The solution being discussed is to move the trail
north under a set of piers where it crosses under Ind. 49.
In other matters
related to INDOT, Thompson said the County received a $40,000 railroad
crossings grant from the agency. The money will be put towards striping at
railroad crossings where the paint is fading. An inventory was done last
summer and the Department is deciding which crossings are the most
important, Thompson said.
Thompson and County
Stormwater Engineer Mike Novotney also reported on the work done by the
Department’s summer intern program, creating an inventory of the culverts
and sewer structures that need attention. Commissioner President Jeff Good,
R-Center, praised the work as it will help the Department see what needs to
be done to ameliorate drainage problems.
“We got a lot of
information collected in the first year and a half we started this
department,” Good said.
Meanwhile, in other business, the Commissioners
voted 3-0 on second reading to establish a non-reverting fund for holding
the earnings made from investment of the sale proceeds from Porter Memorial
Hospital and 3-0 on first reading for a “budget fund..”
Scott McClure said the holdings account purpose is to retain the earnings at
the end of each year. The Porter County Government Nonprofit Endowment
Foundation, consisting of the Commissioners and the County Council, would
have control of the account and can transfer any amount of earnings to the
“budget fund.” The latter’s funds would be what the Council can use to fund
items in the County’s budgets.
The Council has
said at its 2018 budget hearings last month that it will likely tap into the
interest earnings to balance the budget.
entered into an agreement with Shive-Hatterly Architects, which has an
office in Valparaiso, to conduct a needs assessment of the County-owned
facilities within the City of Valparaiso, such as the County Administration
Building and the County Courthouse. The cost is roughly $32,000.
Good said this will
be a first step in the Commissioners’ $30 million capital improvements plan
that will now include building on to the County Administration Building. The
historic Courthouse building will undergo tuckpointing and rehabilitation
for the windows.
In addition, the
Commissioners Tuesday approved documents for the bond issue to pay for the
six projects. Other parts of the plan include replacing three bridges in
poor condition, renovating the Expo Center and the North County Complex in
“It’s needs, not
wants (on this list), some of the buildings have not been touched in 25
years. We have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Good, who mentioned the
Council voted unanimously in favor the bond issue. “We feel the two boards
have come together to move this county in the right direction.”
For the newly
combined E-911 and County Emergency Manage-ment Agency department, the
Commissioners will purchase new vehicles for it up to $150,000. This will
replace two vehicles currently that have a high number of miles.
Good talked further
about the decision to combine both 911 and EMA together and how the board is
raising the standards for public safety.
“With what happened
in Las Vegas (on Monday), the world is turning into a little bit of a
different place. This needs to be taken much more serious than in the past,”
The money for the
vehicles will be purchased out of a fund containing unallocated income tax
-- Second reading
and adoption was made to create a fund to hold fees collected from cities
and towns for Animal Shelter and Animal Control services. Good said the
Commissioners will continue to adjust other parts of the Animal Control
ordinance as needed.
-- The independent
contractor agreement with Curt Ellis for the County’s website and social
media outreach has been terminated. Ellis has now been hired as an employee
of the County and will continue to do some of the responsibilities he
performed as an independent contractor.
-- The Memorial
Opera House will purchase new draperies through Exquisite Draperies for its
auditorium, lounge and box office. MOH Director Scot MacDonald said the
venue continues to improve over last year with sales and currently there is
a discount available on season passes for next year in celebration of its
-- A three-year
contract was approved with NITCO to mark out where underground fiber optics
are that provide internet connection to the County Administration Building
and Courthouse. The cost is $3,000 per year.
Commissioners approved a request by the Porter County Substance Abuse
Council to disburse grant funds to designated agencies. The money comes from
the fees charged by the County Courts.