|By Andrew SteeleStar Managing Editor
CROWN POINT Threats from one high school student against another two weeks ago led
to rumors of violence and retaliation early last week, and finally to 48 hours of intense
police scrutiny from Tuesday evening through Thursday at Crown Point High School.
About three-quarters of high school students did not attend school Wednesday,
the day rumored for violence. The night before, May 12, police and a bomb-sniffing dog
searched the school. Officers checked students coming into the school Wednesday and
We didnt want anybody bringing any kind of weapon or anything
else into (the school) to protect themselves, Police Chief Michael Valsi said.
Valsi said a 15-year-old Winfield resident made the initial threat of
violence. That student has been charged with intimidation and is no longer in school. His
family withdrew him from school.
Police kept watch over the student last week, Valsi said.
Last months killings in Littleton, Colo., heightened the concerns of
police, school officials, students and parents, leading to absences of about 1,500
students at the high school Wednesday despite official assurances the building was safe.
Our people working the schools were on top of it, Valsi said
adding, the schools people were too.
Tuesday evenings bomb search included 10 to 15 police officers and a
bomb-sniffing dog brought in from the Elkhart area, Valsi said.On Wednesday, 17 officers
monitored the high schools entrance, checking students with hand-held metal
detectors and searching backpacks.
Nothing illegal was found during the searches.
Valsi said police will maintain an increased presence at the high school and
Taft Middle School the rest of the school year, although he has no specific
concerns about student safety.
Officers will also do walk-throughs at elementary schools to keep
contact with teachers and principals, Valsi said, just to make people feel
|By Andrew SteeleStar Managing Editor
USA Waste Services-Hickory Hills has followed through on its threat to sue Lake County for
allegedly violating a contractual obligation to support development of a landfill in Eagle
The company, a subsidiary of Waste Management, filed a $200 million lawsuit
in federal court on May 13 claiming damages resulting from costs USA Waste has incurred
preparing for the new landfill and for the profits it would have earned operating the
The lawsuit is based on a provision in the 1996 landfill contract requiring
the Lake County Solid Waste Management District to support USA Wastes efforts to
acquire the necessary permits and approvals to put a landfill in south Lake County.
Our agreement was very clear, said Dean Vander Baan, regional
vice president of Waste Management. It required the district to fully support our
efforts to obtain all necessary permits and governmental approvals for the Hickory Hills
landfill. ...It also required the district to support our efforts to demonstrate to the
state the need for the facility. In the end, they did neither.
USA Waste claims that actions taken by the waste district over the course of
the past year violate the contract. Those actions include rescision of the landfill
contract and amendment of the districts 20-year waste disposal plan to say there is
no need for a landfill in Lake County.
The waste districts actions contributed to a November decision by the
Indiana Department of Environmental Management to deny a permit for the proposed landfill.
But members of the waste board majority who voted for those measures say they do
not violate any contractual obligations.
Rescision of the contract came last summer after IDEM announced it would not
permit a landfill the size called for in the contract.
Lowell Town Councilman Ray Raszewski made the motion to rescind the landfill
contract on the basis that IDEMs decision had essentially nullified it. The contract
had set levels for the amount of trash accepted, maximum fees and payments to various
governmental agencies. The IDEM decision upset this balance, Raszewski said.
| As for the vote claiming Lake County does not
need a new landfill of any size, board members say that fact is independent of the
We have supported the contract, Mayor James Metros said.
Were just saying we dont need a landfill.
A last chance to avoid court was rejected by the board April 15 when it
turned down a proposed settlement that would have allowed a smaller Eagle Creek Township
This things going to end up in court for several years,
Metros said. He said a settlement is still possible, but only if the waste districts
attorneys tell board members they cant win the court case.
But currently, our attorneys say were on solid legal
ground, he said.
Landfill opponents also claim the $200 million figure is exorbitant.
Thats just a figure theyre pulling out of the air,
He said the landfill company has invested about $6 million in the project.
Raszewski said he would support paying the $6 million amount, but added that
he sees no way a jury would award damages based on speculation about how much money in
profits Waste Management might have made on the landfill.
If the county were ordered to pay the full amount, residential property
owners with an assessed valuation of $10,000 would pay around $60 a year if the payments
were financed over a 10-year period.