CROWN POINT | Lake County commissioners gave their conditional nod of approval Wednesday to Brian R. Hitchcock as the next county E-911 director.
The three county executives want to hire the 50-year-old Minnesota native to manage the consolidation of 17 municipal police and fire departments and county communications systems into a single countywide E-911 network by the end of next year, as required by state mandate.
Their vote comes one week after the advisory board of municipal and county officials interviewed Hitchcock and a second applicant. The board gave its support to Hitchcock on the strength of his 31 years of experience in military and public safety communications and managing police and fire systems in Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, which includes three similar E-911 consolidation projects.
The commissioners' approval is conditional on the Lake County Council's creating a salary for the new director in county government's 2013 budget. The council could address that issue as early as Tuesday.
Commissioners also voted to hire attorney Nicole A. Bennett as legal adviser for the E-911 project. Her pay is not to exceed $20,000.
Commissioners also are preparing to renovate the Columbia Avenue bridge over the Little Calumet River between Hammond and Munster.
Marc Malczewski, county highway director, said the project is designed to raise the elevation of the bridge over the waterway to provide a higher clearance to flood waters and debris and riverbank levees. It is estimated to cost $1.4 million. Hammond, Munster, the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission and the county will split the cost.
Commissioners voted to advertise specifications for the bridge work to invite potential vendors to bid on the project as early as next month. No start date for construction has yet been set, but work will require the bridge to be closed for four months.
Commissioners awarded a $964,242 contract Tuesday to Keough Mechanical Corp., of Merrillville, to reconstruct plumbing in the older section of the Lake County Jail. The work is part of an agreement by the county and the U.S. Department of Justice to improve sanitation and health for jail inmates.
Commissioners opened bids Tuesday for new county police cars from Lake Shore Ford, of Burns Harbor; Paul Heuring Motors, of Hobart; Thomas Dodge-Chrysler-Jeep, of Highland; and Bloomington Ford, of Bloomington, Ind., ranging from $66,161 per car to a total bid of $368,678.
Lake County Attorney John Dull said the dealers offered a variety of different packages that have to be studied for the best value. Commissioners took the bids under advisement.
Commissioners announced Norfolk Southern Corp. may abandon a three-mile section of railroad tracks from Main Street in Griffith southeast into Schererville.