Chesterton Tribune

County park board picks Hasse Construction for RaisetheBarn

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(Revised 3:00 p.m. 4/10/2012)


The Porter County Parks and Recreation voted 4-1 Monday to select Hasse Construction of Munster to oversee the task of constructing the Raise-the-Barn activity center at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

Hasse competed with Chester Inc. of Valparaiso to take the lead on the two-story structure that will be used as an education center for county residents and other uses such as summer camp activities.

Last week, the board approved going to the county council at their upcoming April 24 meeting to request a $2 million appropriation for the approximate $3 million project that will cover construction as well as bringing in utilities.

Parks Superintendent Walter Lenckos this morning told the Tribune parks board members split in their decision between Chester Inc. and Hasse citing differences in experience and the places where they are headquartered.

The dissenting vote against Hasse came from board member Ruth Jarnecke who said that even though she thought both firms delivered “compatible” proposals, she preferred the work be done by a Porter County business.

According to its website, Chester Inc. has been responsible for many building constructions in Porter County such as the Eastpointe Center Tower in Valparaiso, the McAfee Animal Hospital, and the Heartland Christian Center on Ind. 49.

“We thought since it was going to be a county building it should be built by someone from the county,” Jarnecke said.

Jarnecke did acknowledge however that Hasse employs a considerable number of Porter County residents.

Those who voted for Hasse said it has done notable projects in Porter County and the region, including structures at County Line Orchard near Wheeler, which was cited by board member Rebecca Tomerlin.

The company also built the LEED-certified Harris Bank building in Chesterton.

Board president Rich Hudson expressed his confidence with Hasse saying they “had a lot of the same players” in line with the company originally considered for the Raise-the-Barn construction, Luke Builds of Hobart.

Fellow board member David Canright based his favorable vote on the grounds that Hasse had more experience than Chester Inc. in the type of project planned for Sunset Hill.

Also favoring Hasse was board member Annetta Jones of the Porter County Extension Service office.

Board member Craig Kenworthy, who was unable to attend, had indicated support for Chester in an email to board members prior to the meeting

Lenckos spoke in support of both firms during last week’s regular board meeting and said it was up to the board to decide which firm best suited their needs.

“Our goal is to get the best possible building for Porter County residents,” Lenckos said this morning.

Lenckos said he hopes construction will start sometime this year, possibly in late summer or fall once funding is in line.


Posted 4/10/2012