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Jeremy Rivas to lead Porter County Council

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Porter County Council member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, will lead the Council in 2013.

Rivas was elected President by his peers unanimously at the reorganizational meeting Monday after a nomination made by Council member Dan Whitten, D-At Large. Whitten had been the board’s president for the last three years.

A nomination by Council member Jim Biggs, R-1st, the Council’s new Vice-President is Jim Polarek, R-4th.

Hot off a contentious election year including arguments with the Board of Commissioners, Rivas asked his fellow Council members to make the effort for better communication and cooperation with the Commissioners in 2013.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do. We have some big tasks ahead of us,” Rivas said.

Council member Karen Conover, R-3rd, put in her two cents saying that “the two groups need to hold hands” in facing challenges. “The bantering back and forth is getting us nowhere,” she said.

Even Biggs, whose past critiques have put blame on the commissioners for an assortment of issues, said “this year will be very different,” and the addition of Council member Robert Poparad, D-At Large, will “bring a lot of great balance.”

Budget committee

For his first official action as the new president, Rivas formed a new committee consisting of himself, Biggs, Poparad and County Auditor Robert Wichlinski which will meet monthly to address issues involving the County’s General Fund budget.

Appointments

In other reorganizing matters, the Council named their citizen appointments to various boards. Rudy Sutton was unanimously chosen to represent the Council on the Alcoholic Beverage Commission again this year.

Retained on the Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals will be Vicki Urbanik.

There will be a new member on the County Board of Zoning Appeals. With six votes, Michael Young will be the Council’s new appointment, replacing Luther Williams who received one vote from Conover.

Meanwhile, there was another split vote 5-2 for the Council’s appointment to the Chesterton Economic Development Commission. Members Rivas, Polarek, Biggs, Conover, and Sylvia Graham, D-At Large, voted in favor of Lloyd Kittredge for the spot while Paul Shinn, who was the Council’s pick last year, received two votes from Whitten and Poparad.

The Council named Mike Sarver to the Portage EDC and Pat McGinley to the Valparaiso EDC.

Later, the Council members chose which boards they would sit on. Poparad will be on the County Plan Commission this year, replacing Graham. Polarek will again be the appointment for the Northwest Indiana Regional Plan Commission. Graham will be on the Northern Indiana Transportation Commuter District and the Porter County Council on Aging. Conover will be retained for the Recycling and Waste District. Whitten and Graham will serve on the Emergency Management Authority. Biggs will be the appointment for the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board.

Liaison appointments, to name a few, included Whitten for the Animal Shelter, Polarek and Rivas for the Assessor’s Office, Polarek and Poparad for the Auditor’s Office, Rivas and Conover for the Commissioner’s Office, Rivas, Polarek and Poparad for E-911/Public Safety, Whitten, Rivas and Biggs for the Jail/Sheriff, Polaerk and Whitten for the Expo Center, Biggs and Poparad for the Memorial Opera House, Rivas and Polarek for the Parks Department, Poparad and Graham for the Highway Department and the Plan Commission/Building Department.

The Council voted 7-0 to table its appointment to the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. Polarek made the recommendation saying the appointment is a joint decision with the Commissioners and they still need to discuss it instead of having two different appointments.

Also, the Council voted 7-0 to keep Scott McClure of Rhame & Elwood LLC on as its attorney.

Next meeting

The Council will still meet this month for its regular monthly meeting on the fourth Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 5:30 p.m.

 

 

Posted 1/8/2013