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Skillman prepares bid specs for school
By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor
   CROWN POINT - It was announced at Monday’s School Board meeting that two bid packages are being prepared for the new high school project that will allow work to begin this spring.
   Assuming the project is approved by taxpayers in the ongoing petition drive, the bid packages for early site work; footing, foundation and steel; and storm water drainage work will be sent out at the end of the year, and the bids will be due Jan. 25, said Pat Portteus of the Skillman Corp.
   “That will allow us to get an early spring start,” he said.
   Bids on the actual building contract will be due May 2, Portteus said.
   Splitting the project bids into two packages “will allow some additional time to complete the design for ... the building,” he explained.
   Portteus projected a Feb. 11, 2003 completion date for the project.
   Meanwhile, architects from Armstrong, Torseth, Skold and Rydeen are continuing design work on the building.
   “We are now in the process of the last go-round of design development meetings with (high school) staff,” architect Ken Grabow said.
   He said architects have met with 36 groups of staff a number of times each.
   Currently, design work is focusing on approaches to the building and development of field areas, Grabow said.
   Drawings for the courtyards in front of the school’s main entrance, the area between the bus corral and student entrance, and the interior courtyard are being completed, he said.
   Also, the necessary lighting levels for the football field is being determined, Grabow said.
   Inside the building, the industrial technology area has been modified to include another shop area; design of the library/media center has been completed; and acoustical design is being completed for the auditorium.
   The issue of the auditorium brought comments from one audience member.
   Tom Dimos, a member of the Crown Point Music Boosters, addressed a recent newspaper article in which board member Bart Aiello, also a music boosters member, criticized the size of the auditorium, which is smaller than the current high school’s.
   Dimos said the boosters did not take positions on school policies, but noted that the music directors were involved in the planning of the new school’s music wing and that the current school’s music rooms are inadequate.

Betty Wells, left, director of the Crown Point Parks and Recreation Department, and Karn Shook, a member of the Homestead Committee, carefully carry an old spinning wheel out of the historic house.  This spinning wheel was one of many antiques and collectibles in the house that are being stored in safer locations while the house is being restored.
Transporting Treasures
Items moved from Homestead while historic house undergoes renovation.

By Karen Caffarini
Star Editor
   CROWN POINT - A fainting couch sat in a corner of the nearly empty living room of the Old Homestead house, its beauty covered by a flowered sheet draped over it.
   The old, but well-kept, couch was waiting its turn on Sept. 8 to be carefully moved from its longtime location in the historic house and taken to a safe, environmentally controlled space inside the Lake County Historic Museum.
   It will remain there, along with other valuable items — both in terms of sentimental and monetary value — for about one year, while the Homestead House undergoes an extensive renovation.
   Still other items were moved on Saturday to the former Water Treatment Plant on North Street, where they will be kept under lock and key, said Jessica Metros, who with her husband Mayor James Metros, co-chairs the Homestead Committee.
   Metros said Bruce Woods, director of the historic museum, chose which pieces he would put on display at the museum in the old Courthouse according to available space and historic value.
   Other items transported to the museum by a crew of Homestead Committee members and Park and Recreation staffers included a large spinning wheel, baby buggy and rocking chairs owned by Wellington Clarke, who built the house in 1847, and Solon Robinson, the founder of Crown Point.
“The rocking chairs are so old we are afraid to fold them,” Metros said. Soon after the items are removed, Dillabaugh Excavation of Crown Point will begin the first step in the renovation process, correcting structural foundation problems.
   “We were concerned that we would lose part of the house,” Metros said, pointing to the cracked walls and ceilings. “But Dillabaugh thinks by leveling the foundation, the house will be okay.”
   She said the next step will be to remove a porch on the south side of the white clapboard house, which was added on in later years. The final step will be interior renovations, including fixing cracked ceilings and walls and bringing the house back as close to its original look as possible.
   Metros said the house was being taken care of for a number of years by long-time resident Lillian Holley and her daughter, until ill health forced them to quit about 15 years ago. The house was largely neglected since then.
   Bringing the building back to its original state won’t be easy, or cheap.
   But at least one committee member believes the result will be worth the cost.
   “It’s worth saving, the whole building is. It will be dandy when it’s done,” said committee member Karen Shook, a life-long Crown Point member who helped spearhead the efforts.

Bruce Woods, director of the Lake County Historic Museum, carries an old buggy to the museum, where it will be housed for awhile.

Metros expects the work to take about a year and cost about $500,000. The committee will be applying for various grants to pay for some of those costs, but the co-chair also is looking for donations and volunteers from the community, and all of Lake County.
   “This is for all of Lake County, not just Crown Point,” she said.
   The Old Homestead is the oldest oldest documented house in Lake County. Metros said once completed, the house will be open for school tours for free, and to others at a nominal fee.
   Metros said union laborers have promised to help with the plastering, Hubinger’s Landscaping in Crown Point has said it will help landscape the grounds, Bill’s Movers in Highland provided boxes for the move and she is confident that some larger corporations will make donations.
   She added that the some 20 members of the Homestead Committee have been invaluable as well. Anyone wishing to sit on the committee should phone the Mayor’s secretary, Toni Evans, at 662-3240. If you wish to donate, phone Jessica Metros at the same number.


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