School board rejects appeal by
Cafeteria workers rebuffed in
union recognition try
By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor
CROWN POINT - School cafeteria workers stormed out of the School
Board meeting room Monday after the board refused to listen to their
appeal to be recognized as a collective bargaining unit.
About 35 workers were led out of the room by Service
Employees International Union organizer Rae Sovereign.
"They have a right to a union," Sovereign
shouted. "Please consider their position. We will not give
Sovereign said 53 of about 65 cafeteria workers in
the school system signed cards supporting union organization.
The cafeteria workers adopted the slogan
Elementary school worker Laurel Hardin said the
administration has cut the amount of cafeteria employees, and expects
current employees to work special events.
"We don't have time to do what they want us to
do," she said.
The workers said they are paid $2 to $3 less per hour
than Merrillville cafeteria employees.
Also, sick-day, holiday, and vacation benefits have
been cut for new employees, so workers have different benefits based on
when they started employment, the protesters said.
Workers also complained about equipment and safety
Cafeteria employees are considered part-time
The SEIU became involved when contacted by employees,
Organizers planned to meet Thursday to plot
strategy. Sovereign said workers were prepared to do "whatever it
takes" to get recognition. They will be back at the next board
meeting, Sovereign said.
Accident kills two
Mother, daughter die in train-car
By Andrew Steele
and Mark Smith
For the Star
CEDAR LAKE - A mother and daughter were killed early Friday when
their van was struck by a northbound Amtrak passenger train on 113th
Avenue north of town.
Deborah C. Parks, 42, and Lindsey Parks, 15, were
crossing the train tracks while exiting their neighborhood at 7:41 a.m.
According to Lake County police, Deborah Parks attempted to cross the
tracks without stopping.
There are no traffic control devices at the crossing,
only a railroad crossing sign with a stop sign attached to it.
Deborah Parks was declared dead at the scene; Lindsey
Parks died later Friday morning at St. Anthony Medical Center in Crown
Part of the family
Lindsey was a freshman at Hanover Central High School, where she was a
member of the golf and basketball teams, the swing choir, and Student
New Hanover Central Athletic Director Doug James made
a short speech to a crowd of about 800 at Hanover's Saturday night boys
basketball game with Gavit.
Since Lindsey was a freshman, many of the older
students were not intimately affected but at a school the size of
Hanover, everybody is affected. The home crowd cheered loudly but the
post game mood was somewhat subdued.
"It's pretty sad," said senior basketball
player Nick Medrano. "I honestly didn't know her. I knew her face
but I didn't really know her. A lot of the girls players did because she
was on their junior varsity."
"I knew her," senior Kelly Garrett
confirmed. "She was a really good golfer and she'd played in all
the JV games so far and they all sit on the bench during the varsity
Parks was one of Hanover's varsity golfers as a
freshman. The Wildcats had not been strong in girls golf in the past but
Lindsay was one of a group of six freshman that was on line to change
that for coach golf Scott Campbell. She had actually played in meets
before she started classes at Hanover and was their second lowest scorer
in an Aug. 28 upset win over Kankakee Valley at the Sandy Pines golf
course in DeMotte.
"We don't really get a lot of good girl athletes
out for golf," Campbell said after the first meet, "but these
girls are athletes. Last year, I had to drag girls to practice. These
girls play on weekends on their own. They really like the game. I think
it's going to be a fun four years."
With the coming graduation of their two low post
players, Parks might've reached Hanover's basketball varsity next
"It's funny," said Garrett, "because
we were just talking the other day about how much closer we are as a
team this year. We were all much closer than we were last season. She
was one of the taller girls and she was going to be a good
"This has been a tough couple of days,"
James commented Saturday night. "We were here until 6 p.m. Friday.
"I didn't really know her but she was part of the family. That's
one of the things I said before the game. One of the things I've learned
here is that everybody's part of the family. Much more so than at
Hobart, where I'm from."
There was a school of thought that Saturday's boys
game could've been postponed but some asked afterwards left feeling that
the right decision had been made.
"You just have to go on," said one adult.
"What else were these kids gong to do tonight? Where would they be
if they weren't here with their friends?"
Focus on the future
Tuesday's girls basketball game at LaCrosse was postponed until tonight
(6 p.m. junior varsity start) and Hanover girls will be wearing black
armbands in honor of Lindsay Parks when they take the court Saturday
night for their Porter County Conference game against Kouts.
The school provided a bus to transport students to
Tuesday's funeral at Burdan Funeral Home. Counseling services were also
provided to students.
The rail crossing at which the accident occurred has
been a topic of debate recently with the proposal to build a 52-lot
subdivision nearby. Residents fear the new subdivision will add too much
traffic to the road, and officials have discussed requiring the
developer to help pay for gates at the rail crossing.
The proposed subdivision is still being considered by
The Parks family includes Deborah's husband and
Lindsey's father Scott, two younger daughters, Megan and Katheran, and
Scott's mother Jean Parks. They are also survived by several of Scott
and Deborah Parks' brothers and sisters: Raymond (Cathy) Parks of
Paragon, Ind., William Crowley of Cedar Lake, Hunter Crowley of Lowell,
Barbara (Larry) Wickbolm of Mowequa, Ill., Sandra Glosser of Largo,
Fla., and Pamela (Donald) Marlow of Cedar Lake.
Lowell loses treatment plant
By Kathie Godfrey Star Correspondent
LOWELL - Wastewater Treatment Plant Superintendent Brian Tucker on
Monday joined the ranks of chiefs who've voluntarily left their
positions at Lowell's distressed utilities when the council accepted his
resignation after only 11 months on the job.
Tucker's departure follows on the heels of the
resignations of former Water Treatment Plant Operator Chris Johnson,
former Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Larry Nelson, former Water
Treatment Plant Superintendent William Musgrave, and former Public Works
Director Michael Lush, all of whom have left their jobs here within the
Tucker said he had been asked to take an $8,000 pay
cut following full-time reassignment to head the Wastewater Treatment
Plant after an executive meeting of Town Council members on Oct. 23.
Tucker said he was not asked to be present at that meeting.
"The fact that I was not talked to about the
decision that was made and other irreconcilable differences with the
council led to my decision to leave," he said.
Tucker, who received an Isaac Walton Environmental
Achievement award for his work at the formerly-troubled Schererville
sewage treatment plant as well as similar awards for his work at plants
in Illinois and Pennsylvania, came to Lowell in January with more than
20 years of experience in the wastewater treatment field.
Tucker said Schererville officials had given him the
authority to reach their objective of compliance with state and federal
But in Lowell, Tucker said he and the council just
didn't see eye to eye. "In my case we couldn't come to terms with
what my role and their role should be," he explained.
But despite differences between himself and the
council over the terms of his employment, Tucker said Lowell's treatment
plant incursions had been reduced by 90 percent.
"The plant is running better now than it has in
a decade," he said.
Director of Administration Rick Dal Corobbo said
Tucker had been reassigned full-time to the wastewater treatment plant
from his dual position as superintendent of both water and wastewater
plant operations to comply with the wishes of the Lowell/Cedar Lake
Interim Wastewater Treatment Board.
Dal Corobbo explained that Tucker's $8,000 pay cut
was stipulated by town ordinance, which calls for salary payment for the
position to be made from the wastewater treatment plant budget alone.
"If he was only going to be doing one job instead of two, we had to
make the pay cut as a result," he said.
Dal Corobbo said Tucker had opted to resign even
though an offer had been made by the council to reconsider the pay cut
for the position by amending the salary ordinance.