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Feature Stories for February 8, 2001

The STAR is distributed every Thursday.  
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Dillinger idea gets no help from city

By Andrew Steele 
Star Managing Editor

CROWN POINT - If a Dillinger Days festival is ever held in Crown Point, it won't be with the backing of city officials. 
    City Councilman James Wirtz, R-at large, opened Monday's council meeting lamenting the fact that the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau is advertising their John Dillinger museum on U.S. 231, and criticizing the idea to hold a Dillinger festival in Crown Point. 
    "Is our city that desperate for tourism dollars?" he asked. 
    Though supporters of capitalizing on the Dillinger story say their message is "crime doesn't pay," "we sure are wanting to make money of his crimes," Wirtz said. 
    "Imagine," Wirtz continued facetiously, "a contest with kids whittling guns - maybe it could be sponsored by the NRA." 
    Or perhaps, he added, a reenactment of a police officer being killed as Dillinger's gang escapes. 
    Wirtz noted that residents were just as afraid of Dillinger 70 years ago as current residents were afraid one year ago of the fugitives loose in south Lake County. 
    Mayor James Metros told Wirtz not to worry about the city supporting the Dillinger Days idea, which was resurrected recently by local realtor Roger Pace. 
    And, Metros said, local business groups are not as supportive of the idea as has been suggested. 
    "Both the (Main Street) Merchants Association and the Chamber (of Commerce) have said they are not in favor of putting any criminal in the limelight, and the (city) administration feels the same way," Metros said. 
    The Dillinger issue came up again when the council considered granting a zoning variance that would allow a new billboard to be put up on the Helix Hydraulics property at 1503 N. Main St. 
    The billboard will be 10 feet high, 30 feet wide, and will reach 35 feet from the ground. It will have a rotating face to allow for three advertisements on each side. The sign replaces one that was taken down in 1999. 
    Just before the council approved the variance, Wirtz said his support depended on the sign never including the visitors center's Dillinger ad. 
    Though there are legal problems with such prohibitions, Metros said he would inform Prime Outdoor, the billboard owner, of the city's wishes. He expressed confidence they would comply.


Residents oppose landfill

By Sean McNab 
Star Staff Writer

LOWELL - C&D Development had its day in front of the residents of Lowell on Jan. 31 and it wasn't a kind one. 
    In the midst of possibly passing a permit for the subsidiary of Allied Waste to operate a construction demolition landfill, representatives from C&D heard repeated displeasure as to why a packed house of 300 would rather the establishment conduct its business somewhere else. 
    Zoned back in 1997 by the Lake County Council to operate a landfill, Feddeler bought and used the landfill the last four years for waste disposal - of which approximately 63 percent originated outside the state of Indiana. 
    With the sale to C&D, representatives explained that approximately 20 acres of the 94-acre site will be used for solid waste disposal. 
   "We plan on using a portion of the landfill for waste disposal with over 80 percent of all the debris delivered to it originating from Lake County," said Jim VanWeelden, the Regional Vice President of Allied Waste. 
    Skeptical that VanWeelden was embellishing the facts, residents asked if he would put the number down in writing. 
    "If it makes the rest of the residents in the town more comfortable, I and my associates will sit down with town and county officials and come to a number close to that percentage," said VanWeelden. 
    Most important to those in attendance was the issue of safety, specifically for those families with young children. 
    "We need to make sure this community is safe and look at ways in which to best protect our children," interjected Allen Sunny. 
    The problem that many residents see surfacing in the coming years is the probability of some of the contaminants leeching to the town's water source resulting in contaminated water. 
    "We will use the best technology available to make sure that doesn't happen. We will make sure that hazardous contaminants are not deposited in this landfill so that there are no chances of sacrificing the safety of the town," VanWeelden responded. 
    Town residents did not buy his response as factual data refuted that every landfill eventually leaks some of its deposits. 
    Along the same lines the issue of past fines assessed to the company was asked. 
    "We have over 100 landfill acquisitions located in 42 states throughout the country. We have acquired a number of subsidiaries and I would probably guess that at least one of them has had a fine levied against them over the years," commented VanWeelden. 
    As VanWeelden was trying to paint a picture to the town that his organization was unlike all the others in terms of safety precautions, resident Joe Bender put the entire team of representatives on the spot by questioning the social consciousness of each. 
    "If you are so concerned about the health and safety of those surrounding your sites, why would you seek to operate a landfill site right in the middle of a small town? Don't you think it would be better to create a landfill away from a residential area out in the middle of nowhere?' 
    Another public hearing is scheduled for Feb. 7 at the Lake County Government Center. The topic will be rezoning this piece of property from the proposed landfill site back to agricultural setting. 
    The Indiana Department of Environmental Management will accept written comment on the issue up through Feb. 23. Written comments may be sent to IDEM, Attn.: Jeff Sewell, 100 North Senate Avenue (N1154), P.O. Box 6015, Indianapolis, IN 46206.



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