Heated ramp approved for Porter County offices

By: Amy Lavalley, Post-Tribune

Sept. 1, 2017

Visitors to the Porter County Administration Building in downtown Valparaiso can soon expect a heated, snow-free ramp leading to the front door and in-ground lights that change color for holidays or special occasions.

The board of commissioners on Aug. 29 approved a contract with Gariup Construction of Gary for $932,500 in upgrades to the plaza outside the building, which is now blocked off with barricades after a person fell earlier this year.

The work, part of a $30 million capital upgrade, includes extras like $100,000 for the heated walkway and $27,000 for an irrigation system that uses reclaimed stormwater.

Commissioners said they hope the Department of Development and Storm Water Management will pick up the tab for the irrigation system and $7,000 in educational signs because the equipment fits within the department’s mission.

Commissioners received only one bid for the work, which commissioners President Jeff Good, R-Center, said was surprising because the bidding prompted interest from several firms.

The base bid was $793,500 but even with add-ons like the heated walkway, which commissioners said will save labor and salt costs, the bid was still under the $1 million they projected for the project.

With good weather coming to a close, commissioners need to move forward with the work, Good said.

Commissioners have watched people struggle while going up the stairs to the building’s door in icy weather, and the salt to keep it clear damaged the concrete, said Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South.

“I think the most expensive alternate, the heating of the ramp, is the most important,” she said of the ramp that will replace the stairs.

The ground lighting, Good said, is a few hundred dollars and allows the county to light up the building in different colors for special events.

“It gives us the opportunity to have some fun with the building,” he said.

In other business, commissioners approved a contract with Bartronics for just under $100,000 for mobile and portable radio units for Porter EMS that are compatible with a looming upgrade to 800 MHz communications for first responders.

The money for the contract, which commissioners approved contingent on county council approval of a fund transfer, will come from the contract for ambulance services from Porter EMS.

“It’s Porter Hospital funds being utilized to purchase radios for Porter Hospital,” said county attorney Scott McClure.

Commissioners are working with smaller departments about funding for their radios, Good said, adding several south county departments banded together to get a grant worth around $700,000 to purchase radios. The county will have to come up with a match.

Commissioners have offered one-time assistance to help departments purchase the radios, Good said, and are assessing that cost to take before the council.


•Commissioners approved continuing to pay $1,700 a month in rent for the next year for the health department at Portage Hospital. The department moved out of the North County Government Annex on Willowcreek Road a few years ago because of a lack of space.

After a planned renovation and expansion of the annex, also part of the $30 million upgrade, the health department’s satellite office will be able to move back in, officials said.

•Approved a contract for $44,700 with the Troyer Group, a design and engineering firm, to handle schematic drawings and other details for the intersection of Heavilin Road and Indiana 2, where the Indiana Department of Transportation is installing a roundabout to better handle traffic flow for the new Heavilin Elementary School.

The county owns land on three sides surrounding the roundabout, Good said, and the schematics will show road access, which will be useful when the county is ready to sell the land.

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