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
“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
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.
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
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.
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.”
In other business,
Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg reported that a recent error in the
recycling schedule posted to the municipal website has been corrected.
questions about the schedule may consult the website--www.chestertonin.org--or
else call the Street Department at 926-2222.
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.
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
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.