Chesterton Tribune

Evans orders ethics review after DLZ pays for Adams' flight to Indy

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A “naďve” mistake lead to an apology and the revisiting of an old policy.

In response to a discovery by the Northwest Indiana Times that Republican county commissioner Nancy Adams accepted a free flight to Indianapolis from DLZ Engineering last month, county commissioner president John Evans is requiring all county employees both elected and otherwise to revisit the county’s ethics policy.

DLZ received more than $600,000 in consulting fees from the county last year, the largest amount of any company.

Adams said she will repay the money.

Evans started the announcement at Tuesday’s commissioners’ meeting with an apology to all taxpayers and then admitted the printed ethical policy in Porter County is not well-known.

“I want to apologize to taxpayers for a digression that was unknowing,” Evans said. “We need to reiterate our own ethics policy and pay more attention to it.”

The method for doing so will be the distribution of a six-page printout from the Porter County Government Employee Policy Manual to all elected officials and department heads. The department heads are then responsible to convey the information to their staffs.

The policy covers topics such as conflicts of interest, outside employment, nepotism, accepting of gifts or favors and appearances, activities and expenses. The memo with the policy states that the commissioners “wholeheartedly” support both the spirit and the letter of the policy.

“We wanted to acknowledge that something happened,” Evans said. “Even though it was not intentional, we want to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

The review and return of the acknowledgement forms is due to the commissioners’ office by July 5. Evans said the commissioners will also revisit the plan every other year to address any new issues.

2012, 2013 CEDIT Plan

The commissioners also approved the CEDIT fund plans for 2012 and 2013.

The plans will basically remain as 2010 and 2011 with the acknowledgement that revenues will likely be decreased by an unknown percentage.

If that is the case, any decrease in the funding will be felt proportionally among distributed funds because nearly every dollar is allocated. For example, if revenues are down 10 percent, a 10 percent cut will be felt by all projects receiving CEDIT monies, Evans said.

Potential “facelift”

for the Expo Center

The county’s branding leadership team will solicit and review proposals by various companies to make the county’s expo center more of a destination.

The leadership team and the commissioners agreed that the Expo Center is not being used to its potential, but they need to find out what the best use would be, which is why they are requesting outside studies and opinions.

“The Expo Center needs a facelift,” Evans said.

The branding leadership team will also begin constructing a new web site that will serve the county offices more effectively. Instead of each county group running their own site as is currently done, the groups will all share resources to streamline the process.

This will allow groups such as the Expo Center, the parks, the Old Jail Museum and the Memorial Opera House to have more effective web sites.

Each commissioner approved $5,000 from their district’s CEDIT money for a $15,000 total on the project.

Federal money sought

The commissioners approved a motion to request federal funds to improve the intersection of Division and Smoke Roads in the southern part of the county.  The hope is to make the intersection safer by addressing the poor visibility of travelers from the north.

There have been many accidents, some fatal, at this intersection and that needs to be fixed, Evans said.

Sand Creek Campground rezoned

Privately-owned Sand Creek Campground in Jackson Township received rezoning approval from Rural Residential to Parks and Recreation upon the first reading.

The rezoning request was sent to the commissioners recommended by a 7-2 vote of the plan commission. The second reading of the matter will be held at the next commissioners meeting on June 21.

The rezoning will allow the campground, which has been open since 1935, to make improvements to the property and add buildings without going through the permit process for each step.

The owners of the campground applied for the P2 zoning over P1 because of their swimming pool. In order to alleviate some public concerns, the owners agreed not to build a golf course, paintball facility or skate park that the zoning status would allow.

Other items

DLZ Engineering requested and received $38,069 for additional valves and piping for the county’s boiler replacement project. The money, which is still accounted for by the federal energy grant, is needed for some extra safety shutoffs that were visualized after the original installation.

An evaluation of a generator at the Juvenile Detention Center will be done by Alternative Energy of Schererville after coolant was found in the oil pan. The diesel generator should be able to be repaired at a much lower cost than replacement.



Posted 6/8/2011