PORTER | When 2012 began, the town ushered in an entirely new council. These five new members had plenty of experience behind them, but they set forward to continue a number of initiatives begun by previous councils while changing course on others.
Sadly, shortly into that new tenure, one of the council members who had served the town so loyally in many capacities on various boards and committees, and by attending and being a vocal resident at every council meeting, passed away. Bill Cantrell is still sadly missed by the council and town, who will forever be in gratitude for his years of service.
Elka Nelson, president of the Porter Town Council, recalls the advances made over the past year and says there have been many events brought back or established for the downtown and parks.
“We brought back the popular Midnight Parade, which was a fixture in the town to celebrate the Fourth of July. This was an event the community was disappointed to see ended, and it was obvious from the huge turnout that it was welcomed back with no incidents. We also helped sponsor the Lakefront Fourth of July Fireworks at the Dunes, and held a successful Family Fourth Fest, and we look to do all of these events again this year.
"Our parks have been very active as well. We have an ice skating rink our departments have constructed at Hawthorne Park and although this was attempted last year, with the weather it never froze. This year we have been able to use it, and it’s a lot of fun.
"Our parks have undergone a major reorganization, and they have added many events to their schedule. They have their Concert in the Parks series, and they have an extremely active senior program,” said Nelson.
The town departments have seen improvements and upgrades.
“The town got a search and rescue dog through the Fire Department," Nelson said. "The Police Department acquired a canine officer handled by Officer Scott Cornelison, whose previous canine, Nicky, died from a twisted stomach after emergency surgery, and we’ve added to our police force.
"We reorganized Town Hall staff to create better efficiencies, and we eliminated two vehicles from the fleet. When they went out of service we didn't replace them, just by reorganizing, thereby saving the town money. We also increased our fleet of hybrid vehicles, and we’re looking to continue to do so,” Nelson said.
Porter’s pedestrian trails also are moving forward. The council has advanced the Brickyard Trail by acquiring property to complete it, and they have completed trail plans for the Orchard Pedestrian Trail. They also have been actively engaged in final planning for the Dunes Kankakee Trail.
Porter’s economic development has been active over the past year.
“The council approved the Plan Commission request to expand the TIF district to include the new Seven Peaks Waterpark and surrounding area, four parcels of land that were thought to have already been in a TIF district but were not recorded properly years ago. This encouraged economic development by attracting the new water park owners," Nelson explained.
"And we have been consistently working to assist Heather Ennis at the Chamber of Commerce to submit sites in Porter for consideration to developers nationally and internationally. We’ve also recently designated a riverfront district to attract developers to the old Spa Restaurant,” Nelson said.