Chesterton Tribune

Consultant: County E911 moving in the right direction

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The 6-month study of Porter County’s 911 Center reached its conclusion with a favorable review at Tuesday’s commissioners meeting.

Completing REM Management Services’ responsibilities as the consultant firm for the study, Larry Mulcrone told the commissioners that the center is “moving in the right direction” by hiring a new director, improving training methods and improving communication within the center and with the community.

REM started their consultant duties by surveying center employees to identify the biggest problems they faced. After concluding the employees felt overworked and underserved, REM implemented various boards and committees to increase communication. The company also developed two manuals, for policy and for administration to use as guidelines going forward.

A clear mission statement that stated the values and vision of the center was created to help develop a strategic plan along with an employee recognition program for those who followed it.

REM also recommended a full-time training director.

Commissioner president John Evans thanked Mulcrone for the help REM provided for its $5,000 payment.

“We work with a lot of consultants,” Evans said. “I have to hand it to you guys. You came into town with a plan and did what you said you were going to do. We ended up with a really good product.”

911 Center director John Jokantas, who officially took over on Sept. 6, said the results of the study will be helpful as he tries to continue improving the atmosphere and productivity of the ever-growing center.

Another of Jokantas’ goals for the center is to fully embrace the technology available for communication. More effective use of the center’s web site, along with the utilization of social media such as Facebook and Twitter, is a top priority. He said residents can already use the center’s Facebook page to sign up for Smart911 and he plans to use Twitter to alert motorists as to where accidents occurred so they can avoid those areas.

Grants being sought

John Sheperd, director of the County’s Redevelopment Commission, addressed the commissioners about his intention to seek two grants.

The first is a $30,000 grant to restore Collier Lodge, which is along the Kankakee River. Shepherd said he wasn’t seeking funds or administration for the grant, those will both be handled by the Kankakee Valley Historical Society, but needed their permission to hold a public hearing about the restoration.

The goal is to make the historic lodge, now in disrepair, a destination for tourists once again.

The issue of restoring the more than 100-year-old lodge came before the commissioners a few years ago, but to obtain a grant at that time the commissioners would have had to declare the surrounding area blighted. Since the process to declare and then repeal that was arduous, the issue was dropped.

However, since the lodge now appears on the National Register of Historic Places, a different type of grant can be obtained.

The commissioners voted to approve the grant and restoration process.

The second grant process will also get underway, but won’t be submitted before some more information is attained. The grant would be for necessary repairs to the Sager Lake Dam. Shepherd said the redevelopment commission is seeking a $600,000 grant to address the 130-year-old structure that was deemed “at risk” by the DNR.

While the dam is on the private property of the Lake ‘O The Woods nudist colony, which has already spend $70,000 to address the problems, its failure could greatly affect county residents in the surrounding areas since its part of the Smith Ditch Watershed that has been deemed one of the top 10 drainage problems in the county. The private status or 10 percent local share for the grant, $60,000, isn’t the issue, but rather who would be responsible for funding if the cost of repairs exceed the $600,000. Engineers have suggested it could cost as must as $1.8 to make the structure dependable. And the final authorization and approval would have to come from the DNR.

County attorney Gwen Rinkenberger said in past instances entities such as the county can be caught “on the hook” for extra expenses once they apply for these grants.

“Sometimes there is language in these grants that unintentionally hooks us,” Rinkenberger said. “It can be pretty deep.”

With that discussed the commissioners told Shepherd to continue with the engineering and grant writing process, while they investigated the possibilities should costs soar.

Sidewalk for Indian Boundary Road

The commissioners awarded a $67,800 contract to Coex Construction of Scherrillville, Ind., to build a sidewalk on Indian Boundary connecting the businesses near US 49 to Brummitt Elementary School. The project is expected to be completed this year.

Other news

In other business, Commissioners Evans and Nancy Adams voted to allow for the purchase of five new copiers for various county offices.

They also approved the use of $16,000 in already-appropriated funds by the auditors’ office to continue the relationship with Gordon Etuler Consultants to continue dealing with the appeals process through 2011.

The Porter County Jail was approved a total of $18,600 for replacement cameras in various locations.

South county commissioner Carole Knoblock was absent from the meeting to attend an AIC conference in Fort Wayne.





Posted 9/28/2011