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Feature Stories for Thursday, August 9, 2001

The STAR is distributed every Thursday.  
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Salesian plan draws criticism

By Sean McNab
Star Staff Writer

CEDAR LAKE - The owner of the old Saleisan property on Cline Avenue has presented plans to construct a senior citizens village on the site that will include a variety of living arrangements.
     Representatives of the Golden Age Retirement Home presented the layout to the Plan Commission on Aug. 1.
     The property is owned by Damir Missbrenner.
Included in the plans are single-family detached homes in the far northwest corner of the property, townhomes three to four units in density south of that, and a four-story residential building near the front of the 36-1/2 acre property.
     With most members impressed with the design, the only remonstrance came from Fire Chief Dennis Wilkening, who expressed concern about the safety concerns of the four-story building.
     "We are not equipped to service a four-story builidng," Wilkening said. "I talked with other towns that had assisted living establishments. Dyer just recently had one open up and in the past seven days the emergency services have taken nine calls."
     Wilkening complemented the plans in terms of the structural content of the buildings and the sprinkling systems used on the sites, but felt that certain fires could not be controlled, specifically in the four-story building.
     "Most of the fires that take place in large structures like that are room and content fires and because they start up so quickly they usually cannot be put out right away," Wilkening explained.
     "What happens is that a small fire starts and the person runs to the window usually trapping themselves inside. I do not have a big enough ladder to get up to the top stories of the building."
     Plan Commission member Dennis Scaggs agreed with Wilkening suggesting that the project should be approved excluding the four-story building.
     Wilkening concluded by saying, "We are putting people at risk if this large building is approved. I am definitely not in favor of it."
     Because this was only a work session no decision was made on the development.
A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 15.


Salaries get initial approval

By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT - The City Council on Monday gave first-reading approval to the 2002 salary ordinance for appointed employees.
     The ordinance reflects a 3 percent raise for most employees, though the Parks and Recreation director, Civil Defense director, judge's employees, chief deputy clerk-treasurer, and Electric Board members will receive larger raises.
     The most significant raise would go to Parks Director Betty Wells, who "started off at a pretty minimal salary," Mayor James Metros said.
     "We've been trying to get her to about the same place as some of the other parks directors," he said.
     Wells' salary will increase from $40,000 to $44,000. Many other parks directors in the area make in the $50,000s.
     That led to a discussion of the police chief's salary, which would be about $50,700 according to the proposed ordinance.
     That figure, though, is 'the lowest or second lowest' in the area, Metros said.
     Councilman William Condron, R-4th, said the council should consider increasing the chief's salary.
     "I think our police force is at least as good as the best in the county," he said.
     Councilman James Wirtz, R-at large, argued that not only should the chief make more money, but officers should too.
     "I just don't think that 3 percent a year for a police officer is enough," he said.
     Metros said he agreed in principle but giving a particular department higher raises could cause problems in other departments.
     "I hate to start singling out departments," he said.
     Police Chief Michael Valsi said he would bring a proposal from the Fraternal Order of Police to the mayor that creates larger pay distinctions between ranks. He suggested this might solve some of the problem of low pay in the department.
     Metros also told the council that he is investigating creating different pay levels for regular Public Works Department employees.
     There would be four levels, Metros said, based on the number of defined 'jobs' an employee is qualified to do.
     This would reward employees with more skills, and encourage others to increase their qualifications.
     Metros said that the full budget process is going well. The council will have special meetings Aug. 15 and 22 to discuss it.
     The mayor also said financial consultant Greg Guerrettaz will assist officials in creating a long-term capital projects plan.


For questions concerning the Star Newspaper or content on their articles, please contact
Star-Register Publications
112 West Clark Street
P.O. Box 419
Crown Point, IN 46307
(219) 663-4212

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