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Feature Stories for June 22, 2000

The STAR is distributed every Thursday.  
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Mapping sets drain alleviation forward
Flood simulations to make up next phase of Beasor Valley Project

By Andrew Steele 
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT - City officials last week told residents of the Beasor Valley drainage area that planning for a project to alleviate flooding is taking longer than they thought, but is still on the front burner. 
    City Engineer Jeff Ban said the city has spent the months since the project's kickoff in September mapping the sewer system in the drainage basin, a 440-acre area concentrated on South Street between Cardinal Drive and Main Street. 
    "We had a lot of spaghetti and (our maps) didn't show what all the ends of the spaghetti connected to," Ban said. 
    All the data is collected now, though, he said, and is being entered into a computer program that will allow engineers to simulate flood conditions and various solutions. 
    The simulation work is being done by engineers from Woolpert LLP of Cincinnati. 
   "We are trying to recreate an actual storm event," said Woolpert engineer Bob Serenko. The simulation will then be used to test possible solutions. 
   Among those are using wetlands at Sauerman Woods or using Lake Seven to retain storm water, Serenko said. 
    The city will likely have to install larger drainage pipes around the intersection of South and Court streets, Serenko said, and probably have to rely on a pumping system, rather than gravity, to get water out of the low-lying areas. 
    Ban said a solution will likely include additional sewer inlets, and possibly some 'low profile' stormwater ponds in backyards and other open areas. He also mentioned the old water plant on North East Street as a possible location for larger detention ponds. 
    Ban said the results of the computer modeling will be done in 30-60 days. Officials have estimated the project cost at around $4 million and expect it to take two or three years, partly because the city has to save money to pay for it. 
    "This is the largest, most expensive, most exclusive stormwater project in the history of this city," Mayor James Metros said. "We are looking at acres and acres and acres of water that come right through your neighborhood." 
    He said the tedious mapping of the sewer system, and the computer modeling are necessary "because of the expense of the project. 
    "We get one shot at it," Metros said.
                       
END

 

McIntosh meets assessors 
Republican candidate swings through area

By Andrew Steele 
Star Managing Editor

WINFIELD -  Republican candidate for governor David McIntosh spent time Friday with local assessors talking about property taxes and his plan to reduce them by 25 percent. 
    McIntosh said his tax plan would be implemented in conjunction with a reassessment based on standards that meet court requirements. The plan includes expansion of the homestead credit to as much as 50 percent; a property tax freeze for homeowners 65 and older; an agricultural property tax cut; elimination of the business inventory tax; and other business tax breaks. 
   "“My goal in the end is for the average taxpayer to see an average 25 percent cut," McIntosh said. 
    To pay for this, McIntosh said he would put half of projected increases in sales and income taxes into a "property tax replacement fund." Some of the state's budget surplus would also have to be used to make up for the cuts, he said. 
    Democrats say the plan does not provide sufficient details. Among other things, they say the tax cuts threaten funding for schools. 
    McIntosh maintains schools won't lose any money, though he does say the law that allows local governments to increase their tax levies five percent each year will have to be modified. 
    The two assessors in attendance, Winfield Township Trustee-Assessor John Curley and Porter Township Assessor Catherine Hall, relayed some of their concerns to McIntosh. 
    Curley told McIntosh that the state shouldn't penalize homeowners with higher taxes when they make basic upgrades to their houses and land. 
    Also, Curley said, many Lake County residents in older houses benefit from depreciation. They may have a high-priced house - like residents of "Stuffed" Shirt Hill in Crown Point, Curley said - but pay relatively low property taxes because the houses are so old. 
    Curley also recommended that the state, if it wants to reduce local property tax burdens, investigate absorbing some of the costs of running schools. 
   Hall told McIntosh she does not want the responsibility for funding welfare removed from county government responsibility, and she told McIntosh she opposed any proposal that would eliminate township assessors.

END

 

Fugitives get their day in Lake County court
Convicted thief Roy Harper will be formally arraigned Friday morning June 23

By Sean McNab 
Star Staff Writer

Crown Point - Brought in shackles and handcuffs and surrounded by four fully armored Lake County Corrections Officers with bulletproof vests and face shields, felon John Woolard had his day in court Tuesday after placing Southern Lake County in three days of terror last week. 
   Escaping from the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman on May 28, Wollard and his comrade Roy Harper led authorities on a nationwide chase. 
    Woolard, sentenced to life in prison for the shooting of National Park Service Ranger during a previous prison break, has five new charges pending. Included are two counts of attempted murder on police officers, two counts of attempted battery, and resisting law enforcement. 
    Representing Woolard before Lake Superior Court Judge Richard Maroc was public defender Richard Wolter. 
    Having concerns over his client's privacy because of the publicized media surrounding the case, Wolter commented on the possibility of speaking with his client in a more secluded setting. 
    "Presently I have been speaking with my client in the attorney's booth that separates us by a piece of glass. I am worried that are conversations are being overheard. It would be more beneficial to spend time in a solitary conference room where we would have more privacy." 
    Moreover, Wolter explained that Woolard has not been receiving different meals throughout the day like the other incarcerated inmates. 
    "My client is getting two bologna sandwiches and a carton of milk three times a day and is not receiving a breakfast, lunch, and dinner like the rest of the inmates. I am sure that Mr. Woolard is not on any dietary constraints and we were wondering if we could discuss this situation with Warden Piskoty." 
    Judge Maroc took both of the requests under advisement. Discovery information for Woolard's charges are slated for July 11. 
    The prosecutor for this case is Barbara Mc Connell. 
    The next court date will take place Friday, June 23 at 8:30 a.m. in which convicted thief Roy Harper will make his formal appearance.

END

 

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