Frozen-out customer puts New Chicago's feet to fire

2014-02-11T19:30:00Z 2014-02-12T11:23:07Z Frozen-out customer puts New Chicago's feet to fireBill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
February 11, 2014 7:30 pm  • 

NEW CHICAGO | The town is working to free up frozen water mains that have stopped water service to a number of homes in New Chicago and Lake Station.

Jeff Ban, a town consultant, said below-normal temperatures over the last week has caused "a handful" of service problems. He said the town has hired Gatlin Plumbing, of Griffith, which has experience in municipal water systems, to thaw out frozen lines once they have been found.

New Chicago provides drinking water to about 800 homes in town and a similar number in the southwestern quarter of Lake Station.

Vicki Hazzard, of the 3300 block of East 34th Avenue in Lake Station, said Tuesday that water stopped early this week at her family's home.

She said she never had a problem with New Chicago's water service for the past seven years, but when she complained this week she was told she was responsible for the repair.

Hazzard said she was forced to pay a plumber $190 to confirm the water was frozen between the water main under the street and her water meter.

Lake Station City Councilman Rick Long said Tuesday one of Hazzard's neighbors on 34th Avenue also was without water. He said he complained to New Chicago officials, who responded a town ordinance absolved their community of responsibility for the problem.

Long said he is trying to get a copy of the ordinance.

"If that's true, then maybe Lake Station can do something to help," he said.

Hazzard said she has complained to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and other state and county officials. She said county commissioners have offered the services of the county's economic development commission to help pay for repairs.

Hazzard said she wants to hold New Chicago responsible for the money and trouble.

Long said, "I suspect New Chicago is overwhelmed, understaffed and a little broke, like most municipalities."

Ban said, "We haven't turned our backs on these people. The Hazzards shouldn't have gotten the runaround. We are attempting to help everyone, but this is like a storm where NIPSCO needs time to restore service. This is an act of God."

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