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Feature Stories for Thursday, March 15, 2001

The STAR is distributed every Thursday.  
The Crown Point Network offers a sneak preview of weekly cover stories.

Parking frustrates "Stogies"

By Sean McNab
Star Staff Writer

CROWN POINT - Last month John Desmaretz presented a site development plan to the city's Plan Commission that was deferred because of unanswered questions regarding his property.
    Desmaretz's return Monday brought revisions and changes to his wine and cigar shop at 513 N. Main St, but it still did not satisfy commission members.
    But commission members thought there would not be enough parking spaces for Stogies Cigar Shop customers.
    "At the last meeting I did not have clear-cut figures as to how many parking spaces we would need or be using. Through talks with my engineer we have constructed 19 spaces," said Desmaretz.
    City Engineer Jeff Ban negated three of the proposed spaces because they were in front of the store and were illegal.
    Desmaretz then explained that he may be able to use an adjacent parking lot in order to conform to city regulations.
    "I am looking at using Levin Tire's parking lot during our peak hours. It is going to be a give and take relationship in that if I need to use his parking lot I can as well as him using mine when he needs to."
    Trying to reassure the commission that his business would not congest the central part of Main Street, Desmaretz did a study over the past couple of weeks to figure out when the times were busiest around his establishment.
    "The highest traffic pattern around my business seems to be in the morning when people get early breakfast. We will not be open at that time."
    Neighboring businesses voiced their displeasure because of the possibility that their parking lots could be used to house his customers vehicles.
    "I do not want anyone using my parking lot except my tenants or customers. I know that may sound selfish but I pay the taxes on the property and the upkeep," stated attorney John Sorbello, whose property is adjacent to Desmaretz.
    Desmaretz said that that would not be an issue.
    But White Hen Pantry owner Bill Filter refuted that by saying, "Today I had to ask two of your employees to move their vehicles out of my parking lot and move them back into your lot. They didn't even ask if they could park in my lot."
    Desmaretz added that once he is able to finally develop the land, the shop will be an asset to the community raising the property values of all establishments surrounding it.
    "To me it really doesn't matter whether my property value increases or not, what matters to me is the problem we are going to have with the parking. Right now this property is on the bare minimum of having enough parking spaces to operate. What if this business really takes off? This will directly have an adverse effect on all the neighbors around it," commented Edward Grimmer, a neighbor.
    The commission deferred the site plan until its April 10 meeting with Desmaretz needing to have written documentation of an agreement to use Levin  Tire's parking lot, a state highway curb cut approved to ease traffic and a permit from the Alcohol Beverage Commission.

END

Mac teacher is tops with Dole

By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor

CEDAR LAKE - A MacArthur Elementary School teacher and her class were honored at Monday's School Board meeting for their efforts to encourage consumption of fruit and vegetables.
    The Dole Food Company presented teacher Mary Lou Thompson with its "Creative 5 A Day Teacher of the Year Award" for incorporating good nutrition into the curriculum of her kindergarten-to-first-grade transition class.
    Lorelei DiSogra, vice president of nutrition and health for Dole, flew in from Oakland to present the award. Also on hand was Judy Rose of the Indiana Department of Health, who presented a commendation award from Gov. Frank O'Bannon.
    DiSogra said Thompson won the award because of her concern for her students' nutrition.
    "She decided to design her own curriculum" encouraging consumption of at least five servings of fruit and vegetables per day.
    "It's a year-long curriculum," DiSogra noted. Students try new fruits, sing songs about fruit, and visit local orchards as part of the curriculum.
    Ten of Thompson's students were also on hand for the presentation.
     Thompson, each of her students, and school corporation Food Services Director Shirley Walter received fruit baskets from Dole.
    School Board President Byron J. Hubbard, a former principal at MacArthur, congratulated Thompson.
    "No one knows it more than I do - every day's a special day in your classroom," Hubbard said.


END

Residents have say on grade issue

By Andrew Steele
Star Managing Editor

CEDAR LAKE - One month after receiving the administration's recommendation, the School Board listened Monday to the thoughts of residents on how the school corporation's buildings should be used once the new high school is complete.
    The bulk of those comments were critical of the administration's recommendation for Taft Middle School to be converted into a fifth- and sixth-grade school and the current high school to be converted into a seventh- and eighth-grade middle school.
    Instead, critics said the School Board should stick to the original plan of using both Taft and the high school as sixth- through eighth-grade middle schools.
    Karen Schrum presented a statement to the board listing a variety of studies claiming that grouping sixth- through eighth-grade students is better than putting fifth- and sixth-graders together.
    Also, Schrum said her research showed keeping students in a building three years is better than two years.
    With the administration's proposal, "our students will be in four buildings in five years," she said.  "The research I cited clearly states that this is detrimental to a student's performance and well-being."
    Mary Jo Klepsch urged the board to stick to the school corporation's original plan of two 6-8 middle schools.
    "It was a strong component of the (facility) project," she said.
    She said many of the arguments in favor of the 5-6, 7-8 arrangement were not convincing.
    Crowding at the elementary schools is not so bad as to require removing two grades from them, she said.
    Also, the argument that using Taft and the high schools as middle schools would create "unequal" schools is flawed, Klepsch said.
The high school facility is superior to Taft in ways that aren't relevant to academics, she argued.
    "There is no curriculum delivered in a pool, stadium, or auditorium."
    Both Schrum and Klepsch delivered much of their statements in written form because the board's five-minute time limit for comment did not allow them to complete their presentations. Both had been led to believe last month that they would have as much time as needed to present their case, but board president B.J.   Hubbard enforced the five-minute rule.
    Schrum, Klepsch and others also mentioned issues like Spell Bowl and other student activities, in which the number of students able to participate would drop under the 5-6 configuration.
    Several people spoke in favor of the administrations plan.
    Judy Katz said she did not want to see sixth-graders in the same school as eighth-graders.
Also, the two middle school configuration "would create division and competition," she said.
    Bringing fifth-graders together in one school would allow for a more uniform curriculum, she said, and make band and orchestra classes easier to incorporate into the school day.
    Tom Toering said the problems with a 5-6 school are overstated.
    "I think if we have a 5-6 school it will be a great school, because the staff will make it a great school," he said.
    Leann Michalik, a member of the task force that recommended the 5-6, 7-8 configuration, said the elementary schools did face crowding, and would face more if all-day kindergarten is established.
    Also, "our kids are stronger than we think," and can handle the transitions from one building to the next, she said.

END

 

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