Chesterton Tribune

Porter Parks plan summer of fests and art and music and fun at Hawthorne

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The Porter Park Board, in cooperation with Bud’s Buddies, is planning three Ravinia-style concerts this summer when picnicking on the grounds of Hawthorne Park will be encouraged.

For those who don’t have time to pack a snack, vendors will be available in the park offering refreshments. Sponsorships to help finance the concert nights will be available.

The June concert is provided through Westchester Public Library’s summer music series; entertainment for Porter’s own concerts in July and August will be assembled by area music professional Robert Vodnoy. Opening acts will be part of the performances.

Park Board president Rondi Wightman said at Tuesday’s meeting, “We have some great developing ideas.” The Duneland Ballroom group hopes to give dance lessons on concert nights as well. “It’s amazing how this can grow,” said Wightman, who emphasized the atmosphere will be family-friendly.

Another event this summer on June 15 from 5 to 8 p.m. is a kids’ summer party featuring interactive presentations by Town of Porter police, fire and other departments.

Firefighters will have a dive tank to demonstrate those skills as well as car extrication techniques and fire safety. Water safety including pools and bathtubs will be explained. Police will make child ID cards and help younsters feel comfortable in the presence of uniformed officers.

Member Patty Raffin reported plans are moving along well for the tri-town Family 4th Fest celebrating Independence Day at Hawthorne. Popular activities will return from last year like a parade, bingo and children’s activities; added will be a patrons’ tour behind the scenes of the pre-fireworks preparations.

Judy Gregurich of the Chesterton Art Center won unanimous board permission Tuesday to have Hawthorne Park host the 54th annual Chesterton Art Fair Aug. 4 and 5. A reduced rental rate of $1,000 for both days was approved.

Memorial on the move?

Park superintendent Jim Miller said Bill Schaudt has proposed updating Hawthorne’s military memorial to include veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Raffin said when Hawthorne’s new master plan is prepared to include a 2013 hike/bike trail link and a drainage improvement project there, a better look at the park grounds for future needs can take place.

That might include relocating the war memorial, now in a grassy triangular island in front of the community building, to a planned memorial garden area. Doing so would allow reconfiguration of the current circular public parking there.

Raffin asked park administrator Stephanie Miller if the vacant downstairs space at the community building were remodeled to add a kitchen and restroom, would it likely be rented to generate more income. Miller said yes, but additional parking would be needed.

“We’re ahead of last year at this time” Miller told the board when giving her income/reservations report. “May starts getting busy, but June starts crazy busy until the end of August.”

She said the March 31 Easter Egg Hunt drew 350 people to Hawthorne after Reprographic Arts Inc. donated 1,000 flyers and a yard sign. Others donating to the popular event were Chesterton Jewel/Osco, 90 dozen plastic eggs; Chesterton WiseWay, $25 in-store gift certificate; Valparaiso Starbucks, hot chocolate; and Park Board member Nikki Crist, six Disney prizes for special egg winner.

Also, Rob Pomeroy for arranging a visit by the Easter bunny; Duneland Seniors, filling the eggs with candy and serving refreshments after the hunt; Lakeshore Drifters 4H Club, hiding the eggs and providing crowd control before the hunt began; and volunteers Debbie Bowen and Jack Kashak.

Wightman said because of the generous donations and volunteers, it’s phenomenal the park’s expenses were limited to only $288.85. Next year’s Egg Hunt will include a time for handicapped participants.

A thank you also was given to Jennnifer Hayden for purchasing and planting native flowers around the disc golf course.

Eagle Scout overlook deck

Boy Scout Joseph McHugh, of Portage and Chesterton/Porter Troop 928, won Park Board approval to continue his Eagle Scout project to design and install an observation deck near the Little Calumet River wetlands north of Hawthorne. McHugh said the Army Corps of Engineers confirmed no special permit is needed.

McHugh was thanked for his interest in the park. Raffin said the board wants to approve the final plans, which Wightman said will have to be submitted to the town building commissioner for review.

For some time John Beckman has been organizing volunteers to clear and renew the wetlands area. Jim Miller said of McHugh’s deck location, “It’s a great spot, a good opening. A great view.”

In other business, Miller said this month’s Rebuilding Together Duneland work day will provide 30 volunteers to do a number of maintenance projects at Duneland Cove and Hawthorne parks. He also noted a renovation of the Hawthorne ballfield concession stand continues.

Wightman said the Duneland Seniors group that meets at the community building is going strong with several projects planned and an average 45-70 seniors attending. The group made new bean bags for the park’s bag-toss game.

Voting 4-0 the Park Board amended its 2012 salary schedule to revise the way Stephanie Miller is paid. She had been a salaried part-time employee earning $17,581 per year. She now will be a part-time employee paid $13.52 per hour effective April 22.

Crist announced April 30 through May 4 the Porter Parks office will have limited hours for the public to conduct business.



Posted 4/18/2012