Chesterton Tribune


County wants state to study widening US 6 in Liberty Township

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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.

County gets 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 internet access.

“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 work.

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 jail medics

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.”




Posted 3/6/2013