Chesterton Tribune

Evans is Commissioner president for 2012

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

The Porter County Commissioners will keep the same hierarchical structure as they had for 2011.

Republican Northern County Commissioner John Evans will be president of the three-member board for the second year as he begins his twelfth as a commissioner.

Fellow commissioner Nancy Adams, (R-Center district), will remain as vice-president while the board’s sole Democrat, South County Commissioner Carole Knoblock, will continue as secretary.

All three commissioners named their picks for citizen appointments to county boards.

Evans announced his appointment of Richard Riley of Chesterton to serve on the county’s tourism commission. Riley and his wife are the owners of the Riley’s Railhouse bed and breakfast at 123 N. 4th Street, which opened last year.

Liberty Twp. resident Ed Gutt has been reappointed to the county’s drainage board by Adams. Knoblock will also remain a member.

Other reappointments include Debbie Cook-Kerr and Marvin Brickner to the county’s board of zoning appeals. The Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals will retain Joe Wszolek and will welcome Valparaiso broker Nicholas Sommer.

Ralph Levi was chosen as the commissioner’s representative for the Alcoholic Beverage Commission. On the Jail Museum Advisory board are Mark McColley, Robert Ordway and Claudine Reczek.

Karie Lukas will join the West Porter Twp. Fire District.

Seven will serve on the Wildlife Management Advisory Board: Robert Gregg, John Ervin, Robert Helmick, James Lamb, Mark Scales, Jenny Shebesh and Mary Ann Zona-Gregg.

Adams will keep her seat on the Porter County Plan Commission and Northwest Indiana Regional Plan Commission. Evans will continue to be the commissioner appointment for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.

Proposed Districts On Hold

While much of the commissioners meeting was quiet, a small dispute broke out over changes for the county’s four council districts proposed by representatives of the voters registration office.

Republican director Sundae Schoon and Democratic director Kathy Kozuszek spoke of reforming the districts by townships only at the Dec. 20 commissioners meeting to make the ballots less confusing to voters. The commissioners agreed then to take the matter under advisement.

Just hours before Tuesday’s commissioner meeting, Kozuszek learned state statute does not allow division changes to be made during an even-numbered year based on the county’s population figures. However, Evans questioned if the task could still be done given the fact the changes were first proposed to them in December of 2011.

He sought advice from county attorney Gwenn Rinkenberger who was eager to look into the matter. Meanwhile, Schoon drew up a new plan for council districts on Friday that divided the districts more evenly based on population.

While the first plan did not divide up township precincts – for instance District 1 would have all voting precincts for Jackson, Pine, Liberty and Westchester townships and eliminate three precincts from Center and Portage – the revised plan would put Portage precincts 4 and 6 in District 1 and Center 3 and 17 would join the fourth district.

Schoon said she believed the changes would be fairer since the districts would have almost equal shares of population. She said she receives complaints from residents who say their vote does not have as much “weight” as those living in the other districts.

Kozuszek was not comfortable with Schoon’s plan as she had only heard of it a few minutes before and wondered if there were any political gains to be had from the modifications. “At the last minute, changes were made and that is what is bothering me,” she said.

Schoon denied that politics played a role in the process as she had checked with various individuals last week regarding the changes.

Kozuszek was out of the office Friday and was not aware of the new proposal. Evans said he would like the election board members to give their recommendation on the matter and the changes could wait until next year since council district races will not be held again until 2014.

Schoon and Kozuzsek said the changes do not affect the 2012 election cycle since the council races are for at-large members only.

Facebook for Animal Shelter

The ongoing effort to help the county animal shelter continues, this time by use of social media.

The commissioners officially approved a year-long independent contract agreement with Curt Ellis to make updates to the shelter’s Facebook page at a rate of $3,600 or approximately $10 a day. The goal is to promote adoptions and find residents who would be willing to volunteer their time.

Included in the motion was to make Evans the official representative for the page, therefore establishing it as a government website.

County’s Job Plan Board

Evans ended the meeting reminding the public the commissioners are still accepting applications for the proposed nine-member economic development board.

The county announced last month it will team up with Valparaiso and Portage on the job-making venture. Applicants are asked to have five or more years experience in regional or local development.

Those interested can apply to pocojobsplan@gmail.com

Evans said he plans to announce the cabinet members at the next commissioner meeting on Jan.17.

 

Posted 1/5/2012