Lake County surveyor, opponent debate engineering qualifications

2012-07-30T16:30:00Z 2012-07-31T01:23:05Z Lake County surveyor, opponent debate engineering qualificationsBy Bill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com

CROWN POINT | Lake County Surveyor George Van Til is dismissing the latest attack on his administration as just another "political press release."

Eric Krieg, the Republican nominee for surveyor and an engineer, argues Van Til's office lacks the technical expertise needed to oversee big-ticket flood-control projects to which his office and the Lake County Board of Commissioners have committed public dollars.

State law requires a county surveyor either to be a licensed engineer or land surveyor or to hire one. Russell Dillon, a land surveyor on Van Til's payroll for nearly a decade, left earlier this month as a full-time employee but continues providing technical assistance as a part-time consultant.

Krieg said this new arrangement is inadequate, leaving no one with the proper credentials to inspect completed projects to ensure they meet engineering specifications.

Van Til and his office's legal adviser, Cliff Duggan, said Monday that using a consultant meets the requirements of the law.

Van Til said he, like half the county surveyors in the state, are not engineers themselves, but he has a qualified staff, which he personally supervises. He said employing engineers for every aspect of a project would drive up taxpayer costs by tens of thousands of dollars.

Last week Krieg criticized Van Til for accepting political contributions from employees and county vendors.

Van Til said Krieg's campaign is to grab headlines with irresponsible allegations.

Voters will choose between them in the Nov. 6 general election.

Van Til said Krieg has no training or experience in stormwater control.

"He is a mechanical engineer, which means nothing in this field. If he were elected, he, too, would have to hire a registered land surveyor," Van Til said.

Krieg responded, "My degrees are in mechanical engineering, not civil, that is true, but they are closely allied fields. More importantly, my competence and expertise at this stage in my career are really in project management and engineering management, fields that span the engineering disciplines. I've also been involved with a lot more construction over the last five years, and have supervised surveyors in the field."

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