Chesterton Tribune

Orlich urges county to fund eight new E911 dispatchers

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Chesterton Fire Chief Mike Orlich wants the Porter County Council to know—when it meets at 5:30 p.m. today at a special meeting at the Chesterton town hall—that the hiring of eight additional dispatchers to staff the E911 Dispatch Center isn’t a luxury.

It’s an “imperative.”

As Orlich reminded the Town Council at its meeting Monday night, a consultant retained by the Porter County Commissioners recommended not eight new dispatchers but 12, and while money is tight all over, Orlich said, the County Council would do well to find a revenue stream as soon as possible to get at least eight into training and on the job.

“I can understand the County Council’s concerns,” Orlich noted. “But they need to find a temporary funding source.”

Orlich made his own recommendation: the County Council could borrow funds from the interest being paid on the proceeds from the sale of Porter hospital, then reimburse the interest account when a permanent revenue stream has been identified.

And the County Council should act fast, Orlich added, because even if the funds were made available right now to hire the eight, it would take months to train them and get them on line.

At issue and at stake, Orlich said, are residents’ life and property, Orlich said. “We’re going to end up with human error issues. This is imperative. The Dispatch Center is the first link in responding to a call. I want to know they’re not overworked and understaffed.”

When asked whether the council itself could take some sort of action, Orlich asked members to contact Northwest Indiana’s state legislators and lobby for a law to impose a higher user fee on cell phones, with the proceeds to be used by counties to fund E911.

Grant Awarded

In other business, Member Jim Ton, R-1st—the town’s rep on the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC)—announced the award to the town of a $216,450 grant to upgrade the traffic signal at the five-way intersection at North Calumet Road, Indian Boundary Road, and Woodlawn Ave. That grant specifically will fund the re-wiring of lights and the installation of an LED signal and battery backup.

While on the subject of things NIRPC, Ton urged folks to make their opinions known on the subject of the proposed Illiana expressway. Go to www.illianacorridor.org  for more information.

At the recommendation of Town Attorney Mark O’Dell, members voted 4-0 to retain as the council’s financial consultant the services of London Witte Group of Indianapolis.

That vote brings to an end the council’s long-time relationship with U.J. Umbaugh & Associates.

Chesterton Cruise Night 2011

The first edition of Chesterton Cruise Night, on Saturday in the Downtown, was a success, Park Superintendent Bruce Mathias reported. “We had around 50 cars at 8 p.m.,” he told members.

Posted 6/28/2011