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Feature Stories for August 10, 2000

The STAR is distributed every Thursday.  
The Crown Point Network offers a sneak preview of weekly cover stories.

Dredging gets county approval
County Council keeps SRI, seeks sale tax answers

By Andrew Steele 
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT - The County Council gave final local approval Tuesday to the Lake Dalecarlia Property Owners Association to construct basins in which silt will be deposited from the planned dredging of the lake. 
    The council's action was to rezone the land from agricultural to a conditional development zoning. 
    The dredging project is expected to remove 250,000 cubic yards of sediment from the man-made lake, returning it to its original depth. 
    The series of basins will be located next to the Fairways subdivision, and some residents there were concerned about contamination of their groundwater supply and the odor that might emanate from the drainage basins. 
    Those concerns have been satisfied, though, Fairways Regional Waste District President Robert Ghidotti told the council. 
    The Lake Dale POA hopes to build the basins this fall, and begin dredging in 2001. 
    In other business, the council decided to continue paying the company that is selling tax-delinquent property, but to urge the commissioners to resolve questions surrounding the tax sales. 
    The company, SRI, Inc., does the paperwork and runs the auctions of tax delinquent property the county has confiscated. SRI is paid through the proceeds of the sales, and through the back-taxes property purchasers must pay. 
    But some council members are concerned about the fact that some of the tax money collected is actually owed to other taxing bodies, for example municipalities and schools, and that the county does not have the money to pay these bodies if they should demand it, because the money is being paid to SRI. 
    "One day they're going to come knocking on our door and the pot's going to be empty," said Councilman Larry Blanchard (R-Crown Point). 
    Blanchard and Councilman Thomas O'Donnell (D-Schererville) voted against allocating the $504,875 to pay SRI for July, August and September. 
    Other council members voted to release the money, but also to urge commissioners to get agreement from the local taxing bodies not to demand their back taxes. 
    Also Tuesday, the council approved an extra $19,000 for overtime in the Sheriff's Department. 
    The money was needed to pay officers for work put in during the Mississippi fugitives incident in June.

END
    

A green season
Students learn and grow during program 

By Sean McNab 
Star Staff Writer

Cedar Lake - In its third year of operation, high school students from Hanover Central gave something back to the community by landscaping a portion of the westernmost part of the South Lake County Community Services, Inc. (SLC) property adjacent to its picnic shelter. 
    "This program is in coordination with the Workforce Development Program that focuses on students within the special education environment or that of low income families. Instead of these students attending summer school at the high school, they come here instead," explained Margo Sabato, the Executive Director of SLC. 
    This year's group consisted of 11 students with educational coursework being divided into two phases. "The first phase was taught by Hanover High teacher Pam Roberts whose focus throughout the entire project was on ways for students to sharpen their skills on passing the ISTEP in the fall," stated Sabato. 
    Included was the setting up a proper bid for the area in question to be landscaped, providing a budget for that area, and then once finalized by Sabato setting up the plotted area to be landscaped. 
    Following that, Lorraine Keilman, of Hubinger Landscaping, provided landscape design techniques for the students so that they would be able to professionally clear and plant in the designated area. 
    "The students actually designed the landscape plot to their liking using geometric measurements to graph the dimensions onto a blueprint," commented Keilman. 
    Included in the six-week course were numerous field trips in which the students gained firsthand knowledge as to what they needed to do for their own plot. 
    Hanover Central junior Nicole Pawlak stated, "I felt that the trip to Hubinger Landscaping was where I learned the most about what we had to do this summer. We had to clear out the excess weeds and grass by hand in order to plant the vegetation." 
    Included in part of the class was instructional tutoring on personal resumes that will hopefully help students gain future summer employment or possibly make it as a career. 
    "The experience the students have gained in the past six weeks are skills that can be useful for future job opportunities. Each year we have employers who call us to inquire about possible students who want to work as spring and summer help," added Sabato. 
    Similarly, Hanover Central junior Aaron Johnson said that the most valuable asset he learned from the experience was that of everyone working together. "As a whole we don't always get along, but in order to get the job done we had to use teamwork." 
    However, this year's program funding was substantially reduced from that of prior years. 
    "Because we were not able to get as much federal funding as in years past, we had to scale down what and how much we landscaped this year," stated Sabato. 
    This program, entitled the 'Greenhouse Project,' for the first time will continue this fall at Hanover Central under the reigns of Botany teacher Scott Campbell with the same focus and goals of the summer class. 
    Sabato concluded, "The goal of this program is to provide high school students with work experience while keeping their educational processes in tact."

END

 

Wellbeing of annexed families to get a look
Crown Point to reexamine property owners annexation concerns, issues

By Andrew Steele 
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT - City Council members decided Monday they want to get a better handle on how residents of the recently annexed southeast side feel about being part of the city. 
    Councilman James Wirtz (R-at large) brought up the issue when he proposed investigating the disannexation of the area between Iowa and Colorado streets. 
    Four property owners in the area have already disannexed pursuant to the settlement that ended residents' remonstrance against annexation two years ago. And some residents of the Niles Creek subdivision have talked about disannexation. "We know that we annexed that only because Merrillville was trying to pull a fast one on us," Wirtz said. The Town of Merrillville attempted to annex land down to the I-65 and U.S. 231 interchange, but Crown Point preempted that with a 6.5 square-mile annexation taking in the interchange and land all the way east to Colorado Street. 
    Wirtz said it's unlikely that people east of Iowa Street would see the full benefits of living in the city, including sewer and water service, "for decades." 
    "I just don't think we'll be in a position to service them," Wirtz said. 
    But City Engineer Jeff Ban said "the city's put a heavy investment into that area." 
    The city has repaved Colorado Street, addressed drainage issues, overseen the planning of the proposed Miller's Farm subdivision, extended police protection to the area, and plowed snow, he said. "A lot of people are happy" to be in the city, Ban said. 
    Councilmen Paul Bremer (R-1st) and Robert Corbin (R-5th) added that they have received calls from Niles Creek residents on both sides of the issue. Some want to disannex, others want to stay in the city. 
    Corbin did say Wirtz's idea had merit, and council members agreed the issue should be investigated further, and residents' opinions should be solicited. 
    Also at Monday's meeting, the council gave final approval to a 2001 employee salary ordinance that gives a three percent raise to most employees but leaves unaddressed the issue of raises for Public Works Department employees who joined the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees last year. 


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