WHEELER | Union Township includes the unincorporated community of Wheeler and the surrounding area, for just under 30 square miles in Porter County. Township Trustee Anthony Pampalone explained its unique situation.
“Union Township has no municipality in it, no town, no city; we are just aided by the county government that everyone in Porter County has,” he said.
Still, trustees are extremely busy with improving and maintaining a stellar quality of life for their residents and meeting all of their needs.
“One of the main things we do on a yearly basis is partner with the Union Township Volunteer Fire Department," Pampalone said. "In 2012 we assisted in purchasing a new aerial fire engine, so we have an aerial at station one and now we have this one at the station on the south end of the township. We purchased a 2011 E-One HP78 Quint. The total price was $568,990, which was a substantial savings for the township.”
One of the major projects Pampalone has on the horizon for his township is preserving an important piece of county history.
“We are working on restoration at one of our cemeteries. We have three cemeteries in the township. At one we hope to repair headstones and replace headstones, and we are working with a professional. There are Civil War veterans buried there and ones from pre-Civil War, which is unusual for someone to be buried here.
"Typically you would find graves from this era nearer to the lake or Kankakee River, so this is an important piece of history. We assessed it this past summer and will do restoration in phases. It’s like a lost art at this point, and we are thankful to have the help of a professional who will do it at cost, so we plan to start this spring,” he says.
The parks are an area of focus for the trustee's office, Pampalone said.
“We have a park in the township, and we worked with the Union Township school superintendent to complete legal transfer of the park in Wheeler. We also cleared areas at the park that were not being maintained, re-roofed the shelters, obtained six picnic tables as a donation from County Commissioner Bob Harper, had the concrete and fencing torn out and had the holes filled in with clean fill, had dirt fine graded, and debris and branches hauled away, had trees pruned, the backstop repaired, had a gate installed, and further maintenance,” Pampalone said.
The township also provides assistance to those in need. Union Township trustees rebuilt and reactivated the township food pantry, developed and implemented new Union Township assistance standards, and participated in the Stuff the Bus program, Shop with a Cop and Toys for Tots programs.
They also worked in conjunction with the Union Township School Corp. and St. Elizabeth Seton Church in providing food baskets for needy township families for Thanksgiving and Christmas.