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Petition drive held-up

By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT - The Lake County Auditor’s office was continuing Tuesday to review a remonstrance petition submitted last week by opponents of the new high school project.
   An auditor’s office employee said Tuesday that a decision on the validity of the petition was expected Wednesday morning.
   The petition, if it contains enough valid signatures, would force a petition race between supporters and opponents the new school that will determine the future of the project.
   The auditor’s office originally expected the petition to be certified Monday, but “we have a little problem,” a staff member said Tuesday, declining to specify the cause of the hold-up.
   If the auditor’s office certifies the remonstrance, the full petition drive will start 30 days after the school corporation posts a legal advertisement notifying residents of the procedure.
   Once the petition drive starts, supporters and opponents of the project each will have 30 days to collect the signatures of as many Center and Winfield township property owners as they can. If supporters collect the most, the new school project may proceed; if opponents do, the project will be delayed at least one year.
   New school opponents needed 250 signatures of property owners on the remonstrance petition.
   Michel Nikolich, a former School Board member and a leader of the opposition to the new school, said he and about 10 volunteers turned in around 475 signatures.
   They held back several pages of signatures that were not notarized or had not been filled out correctly, he said.
   Nikolich said about one-third of the signatures were from people the group knew, and the other signatures were collected by going door-to-door.
   The people who signed it were concerned mainly about the increase in taxes the project would bring, Nikolich said, and they don’t believe estimates school corporation consultants have prepared.
   “These people are down and out,” Nikolich said of project opponents. “They can’t afford another $300 to $400 on their tax bills.”
   Nikolich said project opponents planned to meet this week to discuss their approach to the petition race. He said the group will likely go door-to-door and also set up locations where project opponents can stop and sign the petition.
   Meanwhile, new Superintendent Steve Sprunger said he has been thrilled by the number of people who have called asking how they can help support the pro-build side of the petition drive.
   Sprunger said he is confident the new school will be built, pointing to the fact that the last two School Board elections have produced a pro-build majority and that the 1997 community preference poll supported the project.
   Sprunger said the school corporation will be involved in the petition drive, “but we believe it will be more of a grass-roots effort.”
   As planning for the petition drive gets underway, planning for the new school continues, Sprunger said.
   “We are continuing on with finalizing the architectural plans, working with the city on the annexation process (and) on the project infrastructure,” Sprunger said.“
   The project has not been deterred or slowed down,” he said. “We anticipate breaking ground this fall.”

Paul Gerst of Lowell, center, operates a saw mill with a 56-inch blade at the Antique Power and Steam Show held over the weekend at the Lake County Fairgrounds.   The show, sponsored annually by the South Lake County Agricultural Society, featured exhibitions of antique tractors and other farm implements during three days of perfect weather.

Farming's past on display at show

By Karen Caffarini
Star Editor

   CROWN POINT — Delores Koopman didn’t mind being in the “hot seat” on Saturday.
    It was an unseasonably cool July day and Koopman was drawing warmth from the wood-powered engine in the replica model of an old threshing and plowing machine that she was seated in.
    “This is a toy. Momma’s back home,” the Pontiac, Ill. area woman was saying to the crowd gathered around her as she fed more wood into the already hot fire.
    Every once in a while the fire would get a little too hot and let off some steam, which drew applause from the kids and adults alike surrounding the machine.
    Koopman and her machine were part of the 15th Annual Antique Power and Steam Show held at the Lake County Fairgrounds Friday through Sunday. The event was sponsored by by the South Lake County Agricultural Historical Society Inc.
    Koopman said while the machine she was in looked old, it was actually a replica of an older machine that was probably made around 1950. She said “momma,” a real 1908 machine with wheels as high as the entire replica, was back at home in Illinois.
    “My husband bought momma in Ohio, but we never use it,” Koopman said.
    The family takes it to shows like the one in Crown Point, where non-farmers and farmers alike can see how farm and other machinery has progressed through the years. At the Crown Point show, there were machines of all types and makes scattered around the fairgrounds. They included a large selection of J.I. Case machines, as well as some of the typical John Deere’s dating back to the 1920s, ’30s, ’40s and ’50s and some by companies that have since closed.
    Some of the machines looked their age, rusted and lacking paint. Others looked almost new, with a new coat of paint and lettering making them look much younger than their actual age.
    A special event included a parade of some of the machines.
    But there was more than farm machinery at the event. Housewives could appreciate the modern washing machine after looking at the old Maytag and woodworkers marveled at an old steam-run sawmill in operation.
    It took seven men and several machines to cut one-inch thick pieces of wood from a large oak trunk and stack them onto a neat pile. The sawdust was collected via a large overhead pipe that dumped the dust into a large bin.
    There also were a farm toy show, tractor pull and working blacksmiths to entertain the crowd.


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