New Chicago president likes small-town friendliness

2012-02-26T00:00:00Z 2012-03-03T18:41:17Z New Chicago president likes small-town friendlinessBy Deborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, 9219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

NEW CHICAGO | Town Council President Laurie Robbins loves her tiny town.

"I like living in a smaller community. People are friendly. We take care of each other and look out for each other," Robbins said.

During the last election, New Chicago made history by electing four women to its five-member council.

"It's the first time there has even been four women on the board. We do have one man," Robbins said.

New Chicago, which is comprised of 0.7 square miles, was incorporated as a town in 1908. According to the 2010 U.S. census, the town's population is 2,035.

Robbins was born and raised in New Chicago, but moved to Tennessee a few years ago. She said she quickly moved back after realizing what she had missed.

"My family roots drew me back," Robbins said.

Robbins is now serving as one of the leaders in the town she loves.

"I'm looking forward to working with the new board,"  Robbins said.

One of the town's biggest triumphs last year was learning officials had won a major lawsuit with Lake Station in a dispute over sewer fees.

The Indiana Supreme Court ruling said New Chicago was not responsible for a $650,000 sewer-related payment to Gary.

Lake Station sued New Chicago for that amount. Sewer bills in New Chicago would have increased by 50 percent if the town would have lost, officials said.

"It would have fallen back on our citizens. But we stuck to our guns and continued with the lawsuit and won," Robbins said.

Robbins said she's also proud of New Chicago's parks that have been fixed up and new equipment purchased with the aid of grants.

"Our parks have improved so much that it's brought a lot of people and their kids back to our parks," Robbins said.

Although the town doesn't have a lot of money in its budget for major expenditures, it does have a lot of residents willing to volunteer their time if needed.

Robbins singled out those who serve on the town's volunteer fire department, including New Chicago Fire Chief Joe Eakins.

"They more than just volunteers; they're friends to the town," she said.

Robbins said officials are working on obtaining grant money to make street repairs and pay for stoplights.

"We're always looking for money so that we can better ourselves," Robbins said.

The bottom line for Robbins is to keep her small community a great place to live.

"I want people to come to New Chicago and decide this is where they want to raise a family," Robbins said.

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