Chesterton Tribune

 
 

County Park system nets grants, commissioners create funds

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

In business Tuesday, the Porter County Board of Commissioners honored a request by Parks Department Superintendent Walter Lenckos along with attorney Dave Hollenbeck to create up to five separate funds for grant monies received recently by the County Parks Department, each fund created by an ordinance with a public hearing.

From the Lake Michigan Coastal Grant program with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the park department has received $50,000 towards the development of walking trails at Brincka-Cross Gardens. Another $50,000 grant will be used for designing a children’s garden at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

A $4,000 grant came from the Valparaiso Rotary Grant for development of a community vegetable garden, Lenckos said, and another $15,000 grant from the National Recreation and Park Association will initiate a Take Me Fishing Project for children which Lenckos said would have approximately 4,000 participants.

The commissioners also approved an agreement for the department to use any leftover monies, of the $60,000 in county economic development income tax designated for parking lot construction at Brincka-Cross Gardens, for trail development there.

Also, another fund was created specifically to start receiving grants or donations for the long awaited Raise-the-Barn Activity Center at Sunset Hill Farm. Lenckos said no grants have been received for the center but he has a few in mind for which he can apply.

Each grant fund required its own public hearing which saw zero speakers but prompted some light humor from Hollenbeck. “Despite this experience, we’ll continue our efforts to get grant money for the county.”

As for a continuing discussion regarding use of the County Home Grounds for sports fields, County Commissioner President John Evans, R-North commented his board has received other requests for the property located across from the Animal Shelter on Ind. 2 and is considering its options.

Employee wellness service tabled

Mike Anton of Anton Insurance reported his agency is still holding interviews with firms interested in being the County’s wellness provider for its employees and asked the Commissioners to table his recommendation until their next meeting on Dec. 18.

Meanwhile, Anton said open enrollment for the county’s new health insurance plans is “moving very smoothly.” More than 400 of the County’s 610 employees have attended enrollment meetings and six more are scheduled.

The Commissioners urged at their last meeting that each employee re-enroll with the new plan by the end of the year, or they will not be eligible to receive health coverage.

Highway Superintendent

honored

Before the start of the meeting, Evans announced Al Hoagland has been named “Highway Superintendent of the Year” by the Indiana Association of County Commissioners.

“An award well, well deserved,” Evans added.

For his part, a humble Hoagland said the award should be broken up to be shared with something like 50 people. “There are 49 other people who deserve it as much as I do.”

Hoagland said next year will mark his 33rd with the County.

Public services get their money

After a no-show by the County Council last meeting, the Commissioners gave their unanimous approval to using hospital interest money to aid a few non-profits that provide services for the County.

Using the money requires majority votes from both boards. The Council on Oct. 15 voted to give the agencies the same amount as in 2012. Opportunity Enterprises will receive $50,000, Aging and Community Services will receive $120,000 and the Family and Youth Services Bureau will get $100,000.

Repairs needed for

Opera House

Also on Tuesday, a recommendation by Mike Jabo of DLZ Indiana to hire Berglund Construction of Chesterton to stop the leaking problems at the Memorial Opera House met with approval by the commissioners. The contract is to be paid for with Cumulative Capital Development funds not to exceed $225,000.

Berglund will make roof repairs and replace many of the 120-year-old facility’s older doors, along with other refurbishments.

In other matters:

• As an early Christmas present, Evans announced the Commissioners’ decision to give employees the day off on Monday, Dec. 24 in addition to Christmas Day, Dec. 25.

• County Assessor Jon Snyder was approved a $25,000 consulting agreement with Cender and Company LLC of Merrillville to help make corrections in personal property assessments. Snyder said if an error is found, his office will walk the taxpayer through the assessment.

• The Commissioners’ reorganizational meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 8 at 2 p.m. where they will make appointments to various county boards.

 

Posted 12/5/2012