CROWN POINT — The Lake County Board of Commissioners plans to reopen the cafeteria at the county government center.

Commissioners voted Wednesday to allow Brad Strom, of County Cafe LLC, to lease the cafeteria in the government center's administration building for $1,500 a month.

Lake County Attorney John Dull said county officials met with a number of potential vendors recently before choosing Strom due to his previous experience with White Lodging. Dull said Strom also operates food carts around the area.

Commissioners closed the cafeteria early this year after the retirement of 80-year-old George Kostides, who had operated it for 36 years.

The cafeteria had been in business since the government center opened in 1974. It served county employees and jurors serving in the Lake Circuit and Superior courts there. 

In other business, the commissioners approved an agreement with Aramark to provide food service at the Lake County Community Corrections center.

Commissioners are privatizing food service for inmates of the Lake County Community Corrections center at 93rd and Main Street and, if successful, may extend the program to the Lake County Jail and the Lake County Juvenile Detention Center. 

Community Corrections Executive Director Kellie Bittorf said recently she recommended the Lake County Board of Commissioners hire Pennsylvania-based Aramark Correctional Service to feed her minimum security facility at a cost of $334,050 for the next two years.

Her work-release center in Crown Point houses about 170 people convicted in local state courts. It is part of a statewide work-release center program to alleviate overcrowding in state-run prison facilities elsewhere.

Bittorf said her staff has been preparing and cooking meals for residents, as the facility refers to them, for the last two years at an annual cost of about $375,000 since the former sheriff stopped providing food services from the county jail kitchen.

Bittorf said she believes Aramark is efficient enough at food preparation to cut her current food budget in half.

Lake County Auditor John Petalas told commissioners Wednesday that he asked Indiana State Police to investigate an apparent phishing scam that targeted him and Commissioner Kyle Allen.

Petalas said he recently received an email that appeared to be from Allen asking him to provide him with $50,000. Petalas said he called Allen to confirm the note wasn't legitimate, and no money was transferred.

Commissioners also announced they will auction tax delinquent real estate next spring, probably in March and May.

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