The Town of
Chesterton’s own Jennifer GadzalaÑMS4 Operator, Special Projects
Coordinator, GPS guru, grants writer extraordinaireÑhas been named one of
Northwest Indiana’s 12 Influential Women.
the Economic Development/Government category.
Gadzala was honored
last month at the Northwest Indiana’s Influential Women awards gala at
Avalon Manor in Merrillville.
Twelve women were
named Influential, another 12 Up & Coming.
comes as no surprise to her colleagues in Chesterton town government.
Although her primary job, as MS4 Operator, is administering its Municipal
Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) programÑa federally mandated initiative
aimed at reducing the release of pollutants into receiving watersÑGadzala
wears many hats.
Over the years
she’s painstakingly digitized and mapped nearly every storm and sanitary
sewer in Chesterton, every manhole, every piece of identifiable and
locatable piece of infrastructure under the ground and on top of it. Since
2016, sheÑalong with Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg and Town Engineer
Mark O’DellÑhas taken the lead in writing the hugely successful applications
for Community Crossings state infrastructure grants, to the tune, to date,
of $1,140,147.91, which have funded 50 percent of a variety of high-profile,
big-ticket re-paves and other projects.
Gadzala was also
the brains behind the crowdfunding campaign last year which raised more than
$70,000 in additional funding for the boxcar restroom project in Thomas
Centennial Park, and has been a mover-and-shaker on the Chesterton Branding
More recently, the
Town Council liked Gadzala’s chops so much that members gave her one more
hat to wear: that of Special Projects Coordinator, a part-time gig whose
brief is the implementation of projects to “enhance Chesterton’s economic,
beautification, and vitalization goals.”
O’Dell was pleased,
then, and proud, to announce Gadzala’s recognition at the Town Council’s
meeting Monday night. “Jennifer’s helped us a lot with all these projects,”
great job,” said Member Jim Ton, R-1st.
concurred Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th.
Jennifer is such an asset to the town,” Schnadenberg told the Chesterton
Tribune after the meeting, “is because of the different qualities she
possesses. She can be working on an MS4 project one day and then be looking
for and securing grants the next. She is very good with doing research on
projects or solving problems within the town. Jennifer’s computer skills are
excellent. For example, the Community Crossings grant procedures for
submitting all documentation have changed every year, requiring large
amounts of data to be submitted in a particular format in order to receive
O’Dell had one
other piece of news on Monday: the retirement of long-time and highly
respected Building Inspector and Code Enforcement Officer Ed Surgener.
Surgener has worked
for the town for a dozen years, since 2007, but it’s only been over the last
eight years that the Building Department has begun tracking his activity
with hard numbers, O’Dell said.
And for Surgener,
those numbers are huge.
Between 2010 and
2018, Surgener investigated 1,888 violations; responded to 406 written
complaints; issued 91 citations and 42 stop-work orders; and traveled
101,683 on-the-job miles.
“He will surely be
missed,” O’Dell said. “He was a great employee.”