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Porter cuts 4th Fest donation but OKs police patrols Woodlawn trail on hold

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By PAULENE POPARAD

Citing tight town finances, the Porter Town Council voted Tuesday to give $650 of in-kind police coverage and $350 in cash to the Family 4th Fest celebration in Hawthorne Park July 4.

Last year the council made a $1,000 cash donation and police assisted during the event.

The Porter Park Board and the Duneland Business Initiative Group sponsor the holiday festival, which includes a parade, vendor displays, a beer tent, food booths, organized events and a concluding fireworks display.

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Laura Layman of DuneBig explained how her group receives in-kind police services and the few times it pays for that coverage. DuneBig also sponsors Bark in the Park and other events in the area.

Layman said she was hoping Porter again could give $1,000 because private donations are an uncertain funding source and last year’s level might not be duplicated.

In 2012 more than $500 in private donations were received soon after the Town of Chesterton initially balked at making a cash donation to the 4th Fest; that Town Council later approved a $300 donation.

Layman told Porter officials DuneBig has tightened its belt this year. Councilman Rob Pomeroy asked if DuneBig generates income from the festival. Layman said vendors pay a fee but that’s eaten up with insurance, advertising, portable restrooms and buying fireworks.

Council president Elka Nelson said Porter has an especially tight budget, too. “Our prayers and hopes for miracles are just prayers and hopes,” she explained. Council member Jeannine Virtue said the Family 4th Fest is a wonderful event, but the town has to watch its budget.

Council member Greg Stinson suggested making a minimum $500 cash donation because the Porter Park Department is a co-sponsor, but the eventual vote on the $650/$350 was unanimous.

Woodlawn trail on hold

Plans for the portion of the new Orchard Pedestrian Way hike/bike trail that would run on the north side of Woodlawn Avenue from League Lane west to Waverly Road temporarily have been halted, said Nelson.

As the federal grant project, almost a decade in the planning, neared bid letting, Nelson said it became apparent an 8 foot-wide trail with shoulders along Woodlawn needed a second look before proceeding.

Homes are near the road in that neighborhood and there are no alleys for alternate access as is the case in downtown Porter.

Town officials have met with consultants from SEH and with representatives of pedway engineer/project manager Haas & Associates about the layout. An additional meeting with a trails specialist at NIRPC is scheduled. Being considered is extending a sidewalk, not a trail, along Woodlawn.

Title: Town or FD?

The night’s longest discussion resulted in 3-2 vote allowing the town to accept a new F150 truck to be donated by Westchester Township; also donated will be two automatic external defibrillators commonly known as AEDs.

Virtue, Stinson and Dave Wodrich voted yes; Nelson and Pomeroy voted no. It later was agreed the motion included that the town, not the separate incorporated Fire Department, would hold title to and be responsible for the vehicle.

Assistant fire chief Jay Craig said if the town doesn’t title and insure the vehicle, the fire incorporation can’t afford to take it.

There was unanimous gratitude expressed to Westchester Township, as well as acknowledgement that a 1999 Suburban the F150 will replace is in bad shape. But the fact the F150 will be one of two two take-home vehicles for firefighters who aren’t full-time employees caused Nelson and Pomeroy to ask for more time to study the contract between the town and incorporation.

Fire chief Lewis Craig is the only full-time firefighter. He has begun an approximately six-week medical leave, and Virtue wished him well on behalf of the council.

Jay Craig said having the two other take-home vehicles available cuts response time, and the vehicles typically aren’t driven for private use. In his case Craig’s take-home vehicle carries rescue gear, dive team supplies, medical equipment and items related to his search-and-rescue dog Harley, who recently earned additional certification.

In related Fire Department news, Craig said Saturday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. firefighters will be soliciting donations for the Hoosier Burn Camp. Also, the department roster has climbed to approximately 30 members, a full complement.

In other business Tuesday:

*  Clerk-treasurer Carol Pomeroy’s office will close Thursday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. for on-site training.

*  The council approved spending $527 out of CEDIT funds to install a secure buzzer-entry system on the man door into the clerk’s office from the town hall lobby.

*  An assembly permit was approved for Discovery Charter School to hold several events May 24 from 1 to 3 p.m. along portions of Canonie Drive and Tremont Road. About 450 students will participate.

*  Police chief James Spanier urged residents to lock the doors to their vehicles since warm weather has arrived.

*  Nelson said approximately 30 people have offered to take the 17 puppies rescued after being dumped along State Park Road over the weekend.

*  Park director Brian Bugajski said the annual Memorial Day observance will take place at 1 p.m. May 27 at the Hawthorne Park monument; also dedicated will be the Jim Butz Parkway, named after the Army specialist, a combat medic and Porter resident, who was killed September, 2011 in Afghanistan.

*  Bugajski thanked coordinator Ryan Groceman and his Rebuilding Together Duneland crews who undertook several projects at Hawthorne and Porter Cove parks. Pomeroy said he received compliments about the latter work.

*  Public Works director Brenda Brueckheimer announced work was completed today on the sewer extension that’s caused traffic problems for months on Porter Avenue, Waverly Road and Lincoln Street. Restoration has begun, and she thanked Porter residents for their patience.

*  Nelson noted the recent loss of two significant Porter residents. Richard LaHayne, a town historian among other interests, passed away April 11. Donald ‘Doc’ Whisler passed away April 14. He was a former town building commissioner active in other areas. Said Nelson, “It was a bad week for Porter. We’ll all miss both of them in our own ways.”

 

Posted 5/15/2013