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Feature Stories for February 22, 2001

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

County OK's basins

By Sean McNab 
Star Staff Writer

CROWN POINT - Residents and officials from south Lake County packed the County Council chambers last Thursday to witness the council's 5-2 vote approving the construction of sewage basins between Cedar Lake and Lowell. 
    In an intricate phase that should help stabilize the sanitary sewage project in the towns of Cedar Lake and Lowell, many voiced opposition to the project. 
    "Everyone keeps saying that this will add to the quality of life for both the towns. All I can see is the negative impact it is going to have for the surrounding homeowners," said County Commissioner Gerry Scheub. 
    The will be built on seven acres of a 58-acre site approximately one-half mile south of 159th Avenue on the east side of Morse Street. Two basins are proposed - one holding 3.75 million gallons and the other 11.25 million gallons. 
    Based on previous data, the basins would be used minimally because of the increased capacity of the Lowell sewage plant from 2.5 million gallons to four million gallons set to take affect on April 1, 2001, said Ron Bonar, the town engineer from Cedar Lake. 
    Town officials said constructing a equalization basin is the most cost-effective solution to their sewage problem. 
    "By using the present sewage plant it would increase the cost of the total project by $13 million to $20 million. That would increase homeowners' sewer bill in the two towns by $12 to $20 monthly," stated Bonar. 
    Residents brought up the possibility of overflow during a severe rainstorm, or through future town growth. 
    "There is no chance of an overflow with these equalization basins," said Cedar Lake Town Council President Robert Brannon. "If either or both are filled the excess reverts back to the interceptor which has an eight million line capacity." 
    The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has laid out strict guidelines for the project. Cedar Lake, hit the hardest by IDEM's past sanctions, has agreed to pay $3.5 million of the project with the hopes that in the future its residential sewer tap-in ban will be lifted. 
    Based on the a 20-year life of the two basins, the expected use of the small basin annually will be 32 days and 16 days for the large basin. 
    A final point that was brought up was that the proposed basins will be the largest created in the state of Indiana with regards to it being detached from its own sewer plant. 
    "Something definitely needs to be done but this option is not the solution. Unlike other cities in Indiana that are constructed on the same site as its sewage plant, these basins will be four miles away from the Lowell sewage plant. There are residences within one-half mile of each side of the basins," commented Rick Niemeyer, the West Creek Township Assessor. 
    Resident Nell Fabish expressed the concern of residents who will live near the basins. 
    "I have a feeling that more sewage is going to be dispersed in these basins than what was previously said. I am just wondering from all the prior problems with getting this sewer situation resolved, what is going to happen in the future when their is a problem? Is each town going to place the blame on the other?"


END

Harmonica leads man to town

Star Staff Report

LOWELL - Most people move to this community for its quiet, rural setting. 
   But Brett Sayers' unlikely path to Lowell was paved by a harmonica. 
    Sayers, 31, is a native of New Zealand. He now teaches harmonica classes in Lowell, and works as a performer and studio musician. 
    His story began in January 1987, when "my passion for the harmonica was first ignited ... when I heard the blues played live at a large Christian concert." 
    Sayers bought two books on the harmonica, and set to work learning the instrument. 
    Soon, he was playing in church and learning the blues by playing along to Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee tapes in his car. 
    In January 1995, he joined a Christian band and played with it until June 1997, when he and a friend decided to attend the Cornerstone Festival in Illinois. 
    The pair flew into O'Hare Airport, and found a ride to the festival with a college student named Rachel. 
    After several trips between New Zealand and America, Sayers proposed to Rachel and they were married in December 1998. 
    They settled in Lowell, where Rachel taught classes at the library. Sayers has been teaching harmonica lessons since September 1999. 
    "You don't have to read music to learn the harmonica and it's a great instrument to pull out of your pocket at any time and entertain," he said. 
    Sayers, also known as the "Traveling Bluesman," will begin an adult class for beginners on March 4. The four-week class runs from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Sundays. A class for eight- to 17-year-olds will begin March 17. Hours are 9 to 10 a.m. 
    Both classes will be held at the art cafe inside the Art Gallery at 310 E. Commercial Ave., Lowell. To register, call Sayers at 696-8393, ext. 3.

END

Cigar store plan meets resistance

By Sean McNab 
Star Staff Writer

CROWN POINT - The Plan Commission was introduced last week to the site development plan for the construction of the Stogies Cigar Shop off of 513 N. Main St., but were unimpressed with the petition due to a lack of clarity.
    John Desmaretz, owner of the present Stogies shop located in the Old Courthouse building, began by explaining that the primary use of the facility was for buying cigars but then later recanted his statement, saying alcohol sales would be the main revenue source.
    "Fifty percent of the shop will be for wine tasting, 25 percent will be for beer and the rest of the shop will designated for tobacco," explained Desmaretz.
    Because of the fact that the primary use of the facility had changed, new stipulations were set in place to accommodate the changes.
    "As a place that will be serving alcohol, it is mandated that we have on hand a certain amount of food for our customers. Unlike some establishments (local bars, taverns) we will have on hand small appetizers that complement the wine or beer that the customer is sampling. The food will be reheated and not cooked or deep fried as what is done in other places," said Desmaretz.
    Members of the commission had problems with the present parking layout by Desmaretz because of the fact that his shop would be in a highly populated area possibly producing a traffic jam at the adjacent intersection.
    With the shop seating approximately 20-24 people at one time, city ordinance requires at least one parking spot for every two seats along with handicap accessibility. Presently the shop has five parking spaces along with one handicap space.
    "There are a lot of concerns with the traffic at this intersection. It seems as if it is going to be a bottleneck with White Hen Pantry across the street and Levine Goodyear Tire directly behind it," commented Plan Commission member Bob Rees.
    Desmaretz brought up the possibility that during down hours, which would most likely be in the evening, Levine Goodyear may let him valet park his customers in its lot free of charge.
    Because no written commitments were submitted at the meeting, the suggestion was not taken seriously.
    The facility plan is for a two story building with the inside look of the salvaged remains of antique bar once located in Hammond. The first floor is set to be designated with wines and beer from regional states with the cigar room upstairs inclusive of a humidor to keep the cigars fresh.
    The Plan Commission unanimously deferred the site plan until its next meeting on March 12.
    In other news, the Plan Commission voted to recommend the City Council change the city's zoning ordinance so that tattoo parlors could not be located on the downtown square.

END

 

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