Chesterton Tribune

Youngsters launch petition drive for stoplight at Wagner and US 20

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Trey Bonnema urged the Porter Metropolitan Police Commission to lobby for a stoplight at Wagner Road and U.S. 20, and he presented a petition Tuesday in support with 271 signatures.

"If it saves one life, it could be yours or mine," he told commission members.

After hearing the presentation president Bill Donley stated, "I think that's something we can look at. We'll see what we can do to get the ball rolling. I commend you."

Bonnema is 10 years old and will be a student at Westchester Intermediate School.

He lives on Wagner north of U.S. 20 and said last month a vehicle in which he was riding had a close call at the intersection where it's difficult to see.

Bonnema said a fatality occurred there last fall; he quoted from accident statistics for the intersection, which he described as dangerous, and submitted photographs of it.

With the help of their parents and babysitter, Bonnema was assisted in his petition drive by friends Canaan Wilson, 11, also of WIS, and Bailly Elementary School pupil Abby Morris, 9, both of Chesterton. The goal is to collect 500 signatures.

Wilson said some people gave excuses why they couldn't sign the petition, but most people supported the stoplight, according to Bonnema.

Regarding the children, Donley told their parents present Tuesday, "You should be proud of them."

Trey's mother, Dawnn Bonnema, said the family's been in contact with Brad Steckler of the Indiana Department of Transportation. "He's very interested in hearing what Trey's got."

Trey Bonnema said it's only been a matter of weeks since he began his effort, and "I'm just ecstatic this is going so well." After the meeting Donley told him, "This could be a long, involved process that could take years," so not to get discouraged.

The intersection currently has an overhead light that flashes red for Wagner traffic and yellow for U.S. 20.

After years of asking INDOT to install a traffic signal at Waverly Road and U.S. 20 the request finally was granted, but it took a petition drive to convince INDOT to modify the signal timing because near-accidents still were common.

In other business, assistant Porter police chief Todd Allen said the department is researching the benefits of adopting software. Porter police statistics chosen by the department would be loaded onto the website and local residents could log on to stay abreast of what's happening in their neighborhoods.

"It's something for the public," said Allen, adding that the website is new to this area but it's popular on the East Coast.

Donley said armed with the information, maybe residents can take measures to better protect their property. "It'd be a deterrent in a way." Allen said in June, thefts and misdemeanors both were up.

Commission member Sandi Snyder asked if the anticipated $49 monthly cost is in the budget. Allen said it is, so she and Donley recommended the proposal be taken to the Town Council with a favorable recommendation. Police Commission member Karen Pisowicz was absent.

Allen announced the Federal Communications Commission approved Porter's license for a new repeater radio system to be installed on the 499-foot WBEZ FM radio tower at Tremont Road and U.S. 20. He also said the new police software installation is nearing completion and training has begun both in-house and in the squad cars.


Posted 7/22/2009