Chesterton Tribune



Town Council votes to place baby box at Fire Department

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(Revised to correct year to November 2017)


In November 2017 afterbirth was discovered in the tank of a portable toilet on the Prairie Duneland Trail, one day after a newborn infant was left in a Safe Haven Baby Box at the Coolspring Township Volunteer Fire Department.

It will never be known whether that discovery was actually connected to the CTVFD rescue, but at the time it prompted Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, to call for the installation of a similar baby box at the Chesterton Fire Department, and Fire Chief John Jarka was duly instructed to investigate the ways and means of procuring one.

But confusion about the legalities of baby boxes threw a monkey wrench into matters, until--on July 1--new legislation took effect which clearly permits the placement of such boxes at any Indiana fire station which is manned 24/7.

So it was at Monday’s council meeting that Ton once again called for the installation of a baby box at the CFD. As Ton noted, Monica Kelsey, founder and president of Safe Haven Baby Boxes (SHBB), previously toured the CFD station and found it a feasible location for a box and, together with Jarka, identified a likely site: at the station’s southeast corner.

Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann, for his part, has reviewed and greenlighted a contract with SHBB, under which the box will be purchased at a cost of $10,000. An additional monthly expense, related to the SHBB subscription and alarm company services, is estimated at $100 to $140, while the installation itself will be done in-house by the CFD, Ton said.

“Chief Jarka has done the heavy lifting throughout,” Ton added, while “Chuck Lukmann has worked tirelessly to craft a suitable contract with SHBB’s legal department.”

Jarka then explained how the box works, much like a depository at a bank, as it turns out: once it has been opened and then closed, it cannot be re-opened until the CFD has re-set it from inside. There are three alarms: the first is activated automatically when the box is opened; the second, when a baby is placed on the pad (which is either heated or cooled depending on the season); and the third time, when--if--the person leaving the baby elects to activate it.

The infant will then be placed into the custody of the Indiana Department of Child Services, which will work to adopt it out. Ton noted that both infants which have been left in the CTVFD baby box have already been adopted out, and Coolspring Township firefighters proudly display photos at their station of the babies with their new families.

“This is for people in crisis,” Ton said. “They have a child and don’t know what to do. It’s a matter of sanctity of life. We don’t want a child put in harm’s way because the mother is in crisis. Babies can’t do anything about their situation but we can.”

President Lloyd Kittredge, R-2nd, concurred. “I think this is a wonderful thing for the town to do,” he said.

Members accordingly voted 5-0 to enter into a contract with SHBB.

Folks interested in donating funds to the cost of the baby box may make a check out to the Town of Chesterton and write “Baby Box” in the memo.

Other Business

In other business, Town Manager Bernie Doyle reported that an updated version of the town’s municipal website will go live on Thursday, Sept. 6.

“It’s a very sophisticated but user-friendly system,” he said.

Meanwhile, thinking ahead--thinking way ahead--the organizers of the annual Chesterton Art Fair got their promotional banner request for next year’s event in early.

As Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg reported, the organizers would like to place two banners promoting the Chesterton Art Fair on Aug. 3-4, 2019, at the usual locations: on East Porter Ave. and at the intersection of North Calumet Road and Indian Boundary Road. The banners will be placed two weeks in advance of the event, July 17, and removed immediately at the conclusion of the event. Members voted unanimously to approve the request.

At the request of the Chesterton Branding Leadership Team, members also voted unanimously to hold a special meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 17, in the auditorium of the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center.

The purpose of meeting: to screen a 60-minute video on ways to facelift and promote downtowns.


Posted 8/28/2018




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