Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Community fireworks at the beach July 2 thanks to Town of Porter

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By PAULENE POPARAD

Indiana Dunes State Park will be the site of the tri-town Independence Day fireworks July 2.

The Porter Town Council on Tuesday donated $3,000 for the event and as it did last year voted to enter into the necessary contracts for the display. Melrose Pyrotechnics will be paid $10,000 and a separate company $8,000 to provide the barge from which the fireworks will be set off.

The fireworks are co-sponsored by the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce.

Its executive director, Heather Ennis, said last year over 8,000 people attended the inaugural display and she will be asking other area Town Councils to help defray the 2010 expenses.

Ennis also said the chamber is looking for community and corporate financial support with sponsorships available. Donations may be made at or mailed to the chamber office.

During public comment Tuesday the Town Council heard resident Debbie Bowen ask why Porter can’t afford to host a 4th of July Festival at Hawthorne Park but it can help finance an event the spectators have to pay admission to enjoy.

The State Park did not waive its entrance fee last year.

Council president Michele Bollinger said the fireworks are a joint effort of the town, chamber, State Park and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore that highlights the good that can occur through cooperation. She said last year 6,000 to 8,000 people attended the fireworks.

Resident Gary Cutter said he has been involved with Duneland pyrotechnic displays since the mid-1970s and asked to be considered if the council took bids. The contract with Melrose later was approved.

Iris sales again questioned

Resident Tom Towle, owner of Oakhill Garden Nursery at 410 E. Oakhill Rd., asked the council to rescind a citation he received for posting signs in the public right-of-way, a violation of town code.

The signs are related to his nursery. After an extended discussion associate town attorney Ethan Lowe recommended the council not waive the fine or take any action until he can review the matter.

Building commissioner Art Elwood said if Towle doesn’t pay his fine by the deadline, the matter will be heard in Porter County Court.

Towle was before the council May 23, 2006 seeking an assembly permit to conduct an iris festival. He was granted the permit but told not to sell any plants because conducting an ongoing business in a Residential-1 zone could conflict with town code so Towle was urged to discuss the situation with the town’s Board of Zoning Appeals.

Last night, no one mentioned the need for an assembly permit for this weekend’s 2010 iris festival, or Tuesday’s advertisement for the nursery in the Chesterton Tribune describing a wide variety of annual and perennial plants available and the nursery’s hours of operation.

Towle maintained he doesn’t sell plants at the nursery, instead taking orders online and shipping them while discouraging in-house sales. He said he tries to abide by town rules as he understands them.

Elwood said there were previous problems with Towle obtaining permits for a greenhouse and attempting to create a second driveway although Towle’s neighbor, Patricia Clavier, said the latter wasn’t intended to be a driveway. “He’s not a businessman,” she said of Towle. “He wants to share something beautiful.”

It also was noted that the iris festival creates an environment where people could be parking along Oak Hill Road, where parking is banned. Clavier said she’s never seen anyone park on the road.

Towle said he tries to keep cars off it, and that his property has poor drainage and he’s had to have cars towed out of the mud. He said Munson Ditch needs to be cleaned.

Towle added that many of the people who come to look at the iris are elderly. “It’s not like I’m bringing criminals into the community. It’s retired people.”

Towle said his signs are like those people put up to promote a garage sale. Porter Police chief James Spanier said he believes the proper venue to resolve the dispute is in County Court.

In a related matter, by a 4-0 vote with member Dave Babcock absent the council approved a peddler’s permit, pending employee background checks, for George’s Gyros to operate a food concession this summer at Porter Beach.

Tourism update given

Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commission executive director Lorelei Weimer said 60 percent of the 71,000 people who visited the PCCRVC’s Dorothy Buell Visitor Center in Porter last year took an unplanned side trip after interacting with tourism staff there.

That translates to income and jobs for local residents, she told the Town Council, and the PCCRVC will help local businesses and attractions better market themselves.

No more Casual Coast. Porter County’s new marketing theme is Nature’s Masterpiece referring to the Indiana Dunes, the state’s No. 1 tourist attraction generating 3 million visitors annually.

Porter County’s CRVC has launched a branding initiative for each local community’s unique character in an attempt to get visitors off the sand and onto town streets.

The tourism bureau is part of seven northern-tier Hoosier counties that coordinate their marketing efforts. “We’ve teamed with Amish country and Notre Dame country, and those are powerful brands to be teamed with.”

Weimer noted that tourism is the only industry found in all 92 Hoosier counties and that in Porter’s case, if it lost the Indiana Dunes there is no business or attraction that could come even close to matching its draw.

The Town Council had no questions or comment following Weimer’s presentation, which was viewed on the town hall’s new audio-visual system. In the audience was Duneland’s tri-town PCCRVC member Judy Chaplin of Chesterton.

Summer intern to be hired

On another matter, the council voted unanimously to hire a Chesterton High School student through the non-profit Future of Chesterton Foundation as a summer intern to work in the Porter engineering department.

The intern will be a temporary 32-40 hours per-week employee paid $10 an hour for a maximum of eight weeks with no benefits.

Porter director of engineering Matt Keiser welcomed the help. “We’re on a skeleton crew right now. Everybody’s been operating with limited funds and people.”

Keiser reported he wants to set up a workshop for the Town Council, Porter Park Board and representatives of the Northwest Indiana Paddlers Association to discuss plans to clear blockages along the Little Calumet River.

He also said he wants to set up a meeting with Chesterton and State Park Little League officials to discuss parking and drainage plans for the league’s new Challenger Field, the first in northwest Indiana built for the needs of handicapped ballplayers. The field is planned south of the Chesterton sewage treatment plant.

The council also voted 4-0 to purchase a Dodge Charger police squad car at a cost not to exceed $21,400 and to amend the 2010 salary ordinance.

The latter establishes a $100 per-meeting payment to citizen members of the Redevelopment Commission and increases up to $12,000 what the building/electrical inspectors each can be paid annually. Bollinger said their hours have increased.

 

 

Posted 5/26/2010

 

 

 

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