Land preparation to begin for new animal shelter
December 15, 2015 - 3:33PM
Construction on a new county animal shelter could begin in the spring, and the Board of Commissioners have asked the county's highway department to tear down the old house on the property.
"Let's tear down the buildings and get started," Commissioners President John Evans, R-North, said Tuesday of the county-owned land, on Indiana 49 between the Porter County Sheriff's Department and the Expo Center.
Commissioner Jeff Good, R-Center, said soil borings would be needed at the site in the coming weeks, which will require the house and a few outbuildings to be torn down, though some buildings may remain for construction equipment storage.
The work will include salvaging an air conditioning unit and other equipment from the old house.
Good is heading up a technical review committee for the new building, and said the committee is ready to start the request for qualifications process. The committee will review the firms interested in the design/build process for the shelter and rate them, getting the list down to three potential bidders.
That list will be ready early next year.
"It is moving forward. We are following state guidelines," Good said, adding this is the first time the county is using the design/build process, which will be useful for future projects.
Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, suggested putting up a sign announcing the spot as the new site for the shelter.
The current shelter, at 2056 Heavilin Road, is a facility that county officials have long said was too old and too small to handle the volume of animals that pass through it.
Previous discussion about where to put a new shelter have included on county-owned property at U.S. 130 and Ind. 149, and at Sunset Hill Farm County Park, among other locations.
In other business, commissioners renewed a contract with Porter Health Care System for another year for its Care Express urgent care clinics, located in Chesterton, Portage and Valparaiso.
This will be the third year for the contract, which is unchanged from past years, said Porter's chief executive officer, Steve Lunn. Under the contract, the county pays $125 when employees or those covered on their insurance use one of the clinics and employees have a $10 co-pay.
The clinics saw 656 people in 2014 and expect to see 667 people this year under the contract, Lunn said.
Before the county signed the contract with Porter, it had a contract with Healthy Access for a flat rate of $18,000 per month, regardless of how many employees used it, said Mike Anton, the county's servicing agent for its health insurance.
Under the old plan, 20 to 30 employees were using Healthy Access clinics each month; that's now 50 to 55 people with Care Express, Anton said.
Additionally, commissioners announced they hired Matthew Stechly of Valparaiso as the county's new facilities director after conducting four interviews earlier Tuesday. Stechly, who has a background in facilities management, starts Jan. 4 at an annual salary of $57,000.