Politics surge through Lake drainage projects

2012-08-15T13:30:00Z 2012-08-15T23:56:06Z Politics surge through Lake drainage projectsBill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
August 15, 2012 1:30 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | The race for Lake County surveyor continues to sizzle this summer with the Democratic incumbent carrying on in trying circumstances and his Republican opponent trying to make his life between now and the Nov. 6 election even more difficult.

Lake Surveyor George Van Til won $33,684 Wednesday to improve flood control in Griffith, Highland and Schererville.

Republican Eric Krieg stepped up an attack on Van Til's oversight of a Munster drainage project.

Van Til's quest for a sixth term as surveyor has been troubled by a federal investigation of his office that began dramatically two months ago with the FBI seizing computers and other records.

Some of his employees received subpoenas last week to testify Wednesday before a federal grand jury.

Van Til hasn't been accused of any wrongdoing.

Although the surveyor was forced to cancel a regular drainage board meeting because of the grand jury proceedings, Van Til used the Board of Commissioners meeting Wednesday to demonstrate he is still getting things done in his role as the county's flood control specialist, while his opponent can only complain from the sidelines.

Van Til persuaded commissioners to award a contract to Flow Technics Inc., of Thornton, Ill., to repair and replace pumps that for the past 10 years have redirected storm surges from drainage ditches in Griffith, Highland and Schererville into Hartsdale detention pond in Schererville.

He said his office coordinated a cooperative agreement among the county and those three communities to prevent residential and business flooding.

"There would be plenty of headlines if we hadn't done this," Van Til told commissioners.

Meanwhile, Krieg issued a news release and documents he said confirm his earlier contention that Van Til's office erroneously signed off on $102,000 in payments to a Munster vendor last year for improvements on Spring Street Ditch in Munster that weren't yet completed.

Krieg said erosion control on the Spring Street Ditch banks wasn't done until earlier this month, after the surveyor's office learned Krieg would make an issue of it. Van Til has accused Krieg of ignorance and inexperience with the workings of the surveyor's office that Van Til has run for the past 20 years.

Van Til also has characterized Krieg's allegations of a cover-up as overheated political rhetoric devoid of truth.

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