Longtime Porter County employee honored at plaza ribbon cutting

Longtime Porter County employee honored at plaza ribbon cutting

By: Amy Lavalley
June 6, 2018

Debby Boggs clipped the red ribbon stretched on the Porter County Administration Building plaza with a large, ceremonial scissors while the elected officials surrounding her clapped and cheered.

On Tuesday, county commissioners and other officials celebrated the newly renovated plaza at the front of the administration building, touting its many features and improvements.

In what Commissioners President Jeff Good, R-Center, said is the start of a new tradition, ribbon cuttings will be used “to highlight and honor some of our outstanding employees.”

Boggs, of Portage, started working as a receptionist part-time at the North County Annex in 1987, eventually moving to the county courthouse in downtown Valparaiso, which then held all of the county’s offices, a few years later.

When the administration building opened 25 years ago Tuesday, Good said, Boggs became gatekeeper of that building.

“For over 30 years, Debby has been the first point of contact for county taxpayers,” he said, adding Boggs is always upbeat and helpful. “Debby is a role model for all county employees. I can think of no one more deserving to cut the ribbon.”

Work on the plaza started in September, part of a $30 million capital upgrade plan for county facilities and a handful of bridges being paid for with a bond issue that commissioners announced last year. The plaza work was initially estimated at $1 million but officials have said the bid for the work from Gariup Construction of Gary came in at $932,500.

“This was our project for seven months. It’s been really fun to watch it,” Good said, going on to thank officials from the city of Valparaiso and the Greater Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, as well as other county officials, for attending the ribbon cutting.

He also thanked the County Council for assisting with the work.

“As a council, we worked closely with the commissioners to make sure the funding was available for this great project,” said Council President Andy Bozak, R-1st District.

He went on to list some of the features of the renovation, including full wheelchair access and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act with a sloped entranceway; seating along concrete planters; the removal of crumbling concrete steps; and a heated sidewalk, which removes the need for salt and shoveling in the winter.

“It also means we’re not going to be burdening county employees with its upkeep, and it’s going to be safer,” Bozak said.

The previous plaza, Good said, lasted 25 years but was crumbling and posed an esthetic challenge, especially with recent improvements downtown by the city of Valparaiso, including Urschel Pavilion across the street.

“We look at it more as a breakout area for what the city has done. We wanted to be a part of that, just a small extension of what the city is doing,” Good said, adding programmable lights on the building’s exterior meant the building was lit in red, white and blue for Memorial Day. “You’ll be seeing a lot of fun things coming out of that.”

Handrails on the steps are backlit, Good said, and a storm water collection system means rainwater can be used for the plaza’s plants, which will help the county meet state requirements for storm water education. A plaque will soon detail the collection system.

Boggs, for her part, said she’s worked for the county for so long because “I enjoy people and I enjoy helping and I love Porter County.”

The new plaza impressed her, too.

“I like it a lot,” she said.


Click here to read the story as published on post-trib.com.