The Porter County Commission-ers are sending a clear message to the Indiana
Department of Transportation to try to get things moving on widening the
state-owned U.S. Hwy. 6 from Ind. 149 in South Haven east to Porter Regional
Hospital at the northwest corner of the Ind. 49 bypass and Hwy. 6.
On Tuesday, all three County Commissioners voted “yea” to a resolution
requesting INDOT conduct a comprehensive traffic study and analysis in
preparation for the widening work.
Reading from the resolution, Commissioner President John Evans, R-North,
said that spikes in traffic along Hwy. 6 have risen from the opening of the
new Porter hospital on Aug. 25, 2012. Part of the study will also map out
signals and signage to make travel safer, Evans said.
INDOT has considered continuing to expand the highway to Ind. 49, since
lanes were added from Portage only to Ind. 149, when it could get the
funding but so far that day has not arrived.
Evans said it is not easy for ambulances coming from Portage that have to
cut down from four to two lanes past Ind. 149.
“We really would like to see four or five lanes all the way there (to Ind.
49),” said Evans.
County Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center, mentioned she has had meetings
with representatives from INDOT who have said work may not start until 2016
but, if the County and its communities put forward some of their own funds,
the work could start sooner.
tougher on web use
A “virus attack” on the County computer server last week which took three
days to remedy has caused the Commissioners to crack down more thoroughly on
what websites County employees can peruse.
ITS Director Sharon Lippens said the virus could have come from a number of
websites. They are most often triggered by websites designated for personal
use, like social media or gaming sites. She said the County could impose
limits to keep employees from accessing those sites.
The County has increased its bandwidth to allow employees to use their own
devices such as smart phones. With the web policies revamped, employees will
have to take their devices to the IT department to get a password for
“We will be looking at what people are doing, and we will be looking even
closer at what they’re doing with our computers,” Evans said.
Lippens said the IT department will work with each individual department to
create a specialized list of what websites are allowed. Some departments
such as the Plan Commission need to use personal websites as part of their
Evans said the County has had website restrictions in the past but has never
strongly enforced them until now.
“We can’t be lax. We have to tighten up and get it right,” he said.
More time for
Meanwhile, County Sheriff David Lain told the Commissioners he and County
Attorney Elizabeth Knight are making headway but still need more time to
research firms who had responded to the County’s RFP for a new medical
services provider at the County Jail.
“We are still waiting to hear back from those vendors,” said Lain. He said
he and Knight are coming close to a decision and should be ready with their
recommendation by the end of this month.
The recommendation has been tabled continuously since early February.
In a related request, the Commissioners did agree to use $1,100 to test a
diesel generator switch at the jail.
In other business:
-- Audio and visual equipment at the Expo Center will receive upgrades from
Broadway Music, using $127,717 of county economic development income tax
dollars. Manager Ken Blaney said much of the Expo’s equipment is approaching
29 years old and the improvements have the potential to attract more
business to the facility.
-- The board gave initial approval to rezone Luke Oil’s parcel at the corner
of Meridian Rd. and U.S. 6 from Single Family Residential to Moderate
Commercial. According to Construction Director Mike Zell, the company plans
to raze and rebuild the convenience store similar to the one on Melton Rd.
in Burns Harbor and add a car wash facility similar to the one at Horse
Prairie Ave. and U.S. 30 in Valparaiso.
-- Leigh Westergren from Anton Insurance reported County employee wellness
screenings have been well attended. The Commissioners voted to solidify
their agreement with Porter Health and Care Express for clinic service.
Westergren said that with the exception of a few billing issues, employee
reports on the service are “quite favorable.”