Things are looking up in Porter County

2012-03-04T00:00:00Z Things are looking up in Porter CountyBy John Scheibel john.scheibel@nwi.com. (219) 548-4358 nwitimes.com

PORTER COUNTY | We in the media like to condense things -- get the story out in as few words or minutes as possible.

People are busy -- and many of us have short attention spans. Gone are long stories that go into great detail about events, proposals and people's lives.

Bears win. Cubs lose. Stocks are down. Unemployment is up.

Those ever-changing statistics serve as a barometer of our lives.

But are we looking at the right gauge? Perhaps it's time to step back and assess our progress in some different ways.

If prosperity can be measured by the number of roundabouts in a city, then it appears Valparaiso is moving in the right direction, which in the roundabout is counter-clockwise.

Valparaiso officials continue to invest in the downtown by expanding the new Central Park Plaza. Meanwhile, the city is seeing private dollars being invested in companies like North Coast Distributing and by Valparaiso University, which has opened a new engineering laboratory and is working on a new solar furnace that will be a one-of-a-kind teaching and research tool.

Out-of-town interest seems to be a good barometer of progress in Portage.

With a promise of $23 million investment and 500 jobs, Austria-based Fronius USA weighs in with probably the biggest announcement for development.

And although Kmart decided to close its Portage store, Meijer was quick to announce its interest in same property -- a sign that Portage has a lot to offer.

In the Duneland area, you can't miss the major municipal projects in Porter and Chesterton, but I think we must look to the dunes to gauge the area's progress. At the Indiana Dunes State Park, state officials are pursuing plans to revitalize the beachfront pavilion. The hope is to turn the grand structure back into a year-round restaurant and banquet facility. State and local officials hope a public-private partnership will be the key to getting that project off the ground.

When it comes to charitable giving, my barometer this year is the Christmas for the Elderly program sponsored by the Visiting Nurse Association of Porter County and The Times. While the most recent collection fell just short of a record-setting year, donations outpaced the previous year. That's a good sign that people across Porter County are feeling better about their lives and feel able to extend a hand to those who need a little help.

John Scheibel is Porter County editor. The opinion expressed in this column is the writer's and not necessarily that of The Times.

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