Beginning his fourth consecutive term as North County Commissioner on
Tuesday, Republican John Evans was chosen by his board to lead as president
for this year.
Vice-president will be newly elected County Commissioner Laura Shurr Blaney,
D-South, and County Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center, will be board
Blaney succeeds former Commissioner Carole Knoblock and will also take her
spot on the County’s Drainage Board.
“We are happy to welcome Laura. We think she is going to be a definite asset
to our board (of Commissioners),” Evans said.
Evans will continue as the commissioner representative on the Northern
Indiana Commuter Transportation District. Adams will remain the commissioner
appointee on the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission, the Porter
County Plan Commission, and the Center for Workforce Development.
Blaney will also be the appointee for the Child Protection Services.
A few changes were made in the Commissioners’ citizen appointments.
The Commissioners chose not to reappoint lifelong environmentalist Herb Read
as their Democratic appointee to the nine-member county plan commission.
Instead, Chesterton resident and attorney Mitch Peters will take the seat.
Peters is also the current County Council appointee and board president of
the Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission.
Evans said Read had served two straight terms, starting in 2005, and the
board wanted to appoint someone new. Other Democrats who applied for the
spot included Robert Cotton, Thomas Kopko, Ned Kovachevich, Debora Porter
and Kenneth Williams.
There will also be a replacement on the PCCRVC for the South County
Commissioner pick. Blaney appointed Jesse Harper who will take over for Pat
Jackson. Adams kept Dr. John Johnson as her PCCRVC appointee.
For the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, the Commissioners named Ralph Levi as
their Republican appointee.
Reappointed to the board of health are physician John Forchetti and
registered nurse Kathryn Lemmon. The Commissioners will retain Joe Wszolek
and Nicholas Sommer as their appointments for the Property Tax Assessment
Board of Appeals, and Harvey Nix and Russell Pumroy for the Drainage Board.
The two members of the West Porter Twp. Fire District board selected by the
Commissioners are Pat Dragash and Jack Weber.
The Commissioners also filled all seven spots on the Wildlife Management
Advisory Board. Members will be Jenny Ault, Shellie Barron, Robert Gregg,
Robert Helmick, James Lamb, Mark Scales, Mary Ann Zona-Gregg, and ex-officio
member Dottie Kostka.
No changes were made to department heads under the auspices of the County
Commissioners with the exception of Michelle Smith who was promoted to
permanent business director of the Memorial Opera House. Smith had been the
facility’s interim director since August.
Evans said the Commissioners will announce their appointment for the
Gary/Chicago International Airport board at a later date.
During the business portion of the meeting, the Commissioners unanimously
supported the County Council’s decision to use $600,000 of hospital interest
for Porter County PACT to purchase the Legacy Banquet Center in Valparaiso
as its new headquarters.
As was told the County Council on Monday, PACT Executive Director Sharon
Mortensen said that $485,000 will go to the purchase of the building while
the rest will be used for renovations. The two residences PACT owns in
Valparaiso will be sold and the money will go back to the agency’s operating
With the new building, it will be possible for more non-violent offenders to
be released from Porter County Jail and into PACT home monitoring programs.
Evans said the Commissioners would consider giving $139,000 in county
economic development income tax revenue to PACT’s monitoring programs but he
added that the County Council has not yet allocated any funds for CEDIT
projects this year and the Commissioners and their departments cannot use
the funds at this time.
The County Council meets in two weeks on Jan. 22.
In other business, after a request from Russ Shirley, director of the
Emergency Management Authority, the Commissioners agreed to continue a
maintenance contract with Bartronics LLC in Chesterton to test the 50 or so
sirens in the county for $22,500.
The Commissioners also approved catering contracts for the Expo Center this
Evans announced that starting with its next meeting the Board of
Commissioners will meet at 1 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays, instead
of at 2 p.m.
Reason being, he said, is that many of the consultants who come to the
meetings often drive long distances from Indianapolis or somewhere else down
state and many of them “miss their dinner times” because they are an hour
ahead. Also, the earlier starting time is more accommodating for meeting
attendees who have to pick their kids up from school, Evans said.