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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Evans ended the meeting reminding the public the commissioners are still
accepting applications for the proposed nine-member economic development
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
Evans said he plans to announce the cabinet members at the next commissioner
meeting on Jan.17.