Chesterton Tribune



Ton thanks O'Dell; O'Dell thanks everyone else for train car operation

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Name a major public works project in the Town of Chesterton, and you’ll find--if you look closely enough--Town Engineer Mark O’Dell’s handiwork all over it.

The Gateway Blvd. reconfiguration. The Chesterton Park splash pad. The new Dogwood Park restroom. The Morningside sanitary sewer aerial stabilization. The Ind. 49 utility corridor. The 1100N sidewalk project. The fiber optic network.

O’Dell is the brains behind the speccing and the advertising. He eagle-eyes the bids. He runs herd on the contractors. He parleys with DNR and IDEM and INDOT and the Army Corps and NIRPC. In short, he not only surveys the land and lays the track, he makes the trains run on time.

And speaking of trains, Chesterton Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, had a few words to say at Monday’s meeting about O’Dell’s role in bringing the boxcar and caboose to Thomas Centennial Park. Because O’Dell wouldn’t say the words himself.

“There’s one person who deserves to be mentioned, one person who was absolutely key in the success of this project, and that person is Mark,” Ton said. In fact, O’Dell was in on the ground floor of the boxcar restroom project and worked closely with Rich Riley--who originally brought the idea for the project to the Park Board--with the architect who designed the actual restroom facility; and with the contractor who reconditioned the train cars. O’Dell was also boots on the ground in the laying of the literal tracks a couple of weeks ago; and in the citing of the train cars on those tracks.

Not only that, Ton added, but O’Dell and his wife, Laura, spent five hours on Sunday staining the boxcar’s interior, to save the town the expense of having the contractor do it.

That, Ton said, is Mark O’Dell, when it comes to the Town of Chesterton: unsung but all in. Concurring was Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th. “Mark has had a big stake in this project,” he said. “He’s being very humble.

Ton made his remarks following O’Dell’s own heartfelt thanks to all of the people who made the siting of the train cars on their tracks last week a spectacular--if inch by slow inch--success.

That operation began early on the morning of Wednesday, July 18, and finally ended after dark (flood lights had to be deployed for the final hour or so). Over the course of the day the caboose and then the boxcar were transferred, in incremental steps, from the flatbed which had transported them from Michigan City up and onto the train wheels previously sited on the tracks, with the assistance of a 60-ton Peterbilt crane provided by Joe’s Towing Inc. It was a feat of physics and of patience and fine touch, with razor-thin tolerances, and O’Dell said that everyone who had a hand in it performed superbly. “There was a lot of teamwork.”

Ron Schlatter of Schlatter Inc. and his sons Joe and Jake, who hauled the train cars to Thomas Centennial Park and then positioned the flatbed, in a meticulous bit of driving, next to the tracks in perfect position for craning.

Joe Wagner and his crew, “who were phenomenal” and did “a great job with the remote control.”

Mike Steward of Preferred Contractor Services in Michigan City, who reconditioned both the boxcar and the caboose and assisted in their transportation.

The Chesterton and Porter police departments, who provided an escort of the train cars into Chesterton and the Downtown. “It was the biggest escort I’ve ever been in and Ron Schlatter said he’s never had a police escort like it,” O’Dell noted.

Crews from the Street and Park departments--and O’Dell himself--who performed the actual underbody work of aligning the train cars with the wheels.

MS4 Operator Jennifer Gadzala and Richard Riley, who advised on the ground and were in it for the duration.

And the public who came to watch and stayed for the festival atmosphere.

“It says a lot to see all the departments come together,” DeLaney said. “And the public out there was there all day.”

Recycling Schedule

In other business, Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg reported that a recent error in the recycling schedule posted to the municipal website has been corrected.

Anyone with questions about the schedule may consult the else call the Street Department at 926-2222.

Park Board Resignation

Meanwhile, Park Board Member Jim Crawford has notified the town of his resignation from the board, to take effect after its last meeting of the year, on Dec. 4.

Crawford travels for business during much of the winter and does not want to inconvenience the board by missing meetings.

“Jim added a lot to the board,” said Member Nate Cobbs, R-4th. “He will be missed.”

School Soon to be in Session

Ton took a moment at the end of the meeting to remind folks that the Duneland Schools will begin their 2018-19 academic year on Monday, Aug. 13, and that motorists should take particular care to watch for kids while they’re waiting for the bus or exiting the bus.

Ninety percent of accidents involving kids on school buses happen while they’re getting on or getting off, Ton observed. And when the stop sign is extended, he added, stopping behind the bus is mandatory.


Posted 7/25/2018




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