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Indiana Welcome Center installs bipolar ionization system to kill COVID-19
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Indiana Welcome Center installs bipolar ionization system to kill COVID-19

The Indiana Welcome Center is installing a state-of-the-art bipolar ionization system to kill COVID-19.

The South Shore Convention and Visitor's Authority's tourism information center just off the Borman Expressway at 7770 Corinne Drive in Hammond, which serves as Northwest Indiana's front door for many visitors, invested in the high-tech needlepoint bipolar ionization system to clear the air of particles and reduce the spread of viruses and diseases. About 350,000 to 400,000 people visit each year.

"We're doing everything we can to keep visitors and staff healthy," SSCVA Director of Communications Erika Dahl said.

Global Plasma Solutions manufactures the system, which generates positively and negatively charged ions that travel through the air and filter out particulate matter such as pollutants, dust, allergens, mold, bacteria and viruses, including Nonovirus, E. coli and COVID-19.

Martin Mechanical Corp. in Schererville is setting up the system in the Indiana Welcome Center, where visitors routinely stop to get tourist information, use the restrooms and check out free art or educational exhibits.

Third-party testing has shown the system kills 99.47% of SARS-CoV-2, the disease that causes COVID-19, within 30 minutes, Project Manager Doug Lavin said.

"It's like having Purell and hand sanitizer in the air," he said. "It starts killing viruses in the air and on surfaces immediately. It has a 75% kill rate within five minutes, an 85% kill rate within 10 minutes, and a 92% kill rate within 15 minutes. Within half an hour, the kill rate is 99.47%.

The South Shore Convention and Visitor's Authority, which is funded through hotel taxes visitors pay while staying in Lake County, spent just over $19,600 on the equipment but the cost varies from place to place depending on the size, square footage and layoff of buildings.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced he will sign an executive order directing Hoosiers to wear face masks in public places where it's not possible to maintain six feet of social distancing.

The bipolar ionization systems were previously used mainly at large airports, offices like the Google headquarters, and universities including Yale and Clemson. But demand has taken off during the coronavirus pandemic. Martin Mechanical Corp., a mechanical contractor that specializes in commercial piping, has installed them at several Region locations, including Square Roots in Crown Point, the Tauber Law Firm and the Pepsi bottling plant in Munster since the global pandemic started in March.

"I'm in back-to-back meetings all the time now," Lavin said. "We can do schools, hospitals, commercial or residential. There really is no size requirements."

The Indiana Welcome Center reopened last month with limited hours and has been taking increased precautions to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

High-touch areas are frequently cleaned, bathroom stalls and urinals are blocked off to encourage social distancing, and the W.F. Wellman Exhibit Hall and movie theater have been closed. Plexiglass shields have been installed at the information counter and at the check-out at the gift shop. Most of the tourist brochures have been removed to discourage lingering, but are still available upon request.

People can still get tourist information, visit the restrooms, shop at the gift shop and see the South Shore Wall of Legends.

"We're mulling what we're going to do for 'A Christmas Story Comes Home' this year," Dahl said. "It's a popular exhibit. We might limit the number of people and do social distancing but we don't have all the answers yet. The state isn't even at Stage 5 yet."

The Indiana Welcome Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

2020 The Times Best of the Region

2020 The Times Best of the Region

Welcome to The Times Media Company’s Best of the Region for 2020.

When voting began in early March, we couldn't have predicted the changes to business as usual that we have experienced.

Still, thanks to the pluck of local entrepreneurs and dedication of our readers, we are presenting our annual look at the best restaurants, services, places to live and more in the Region.

This year we added an ambitious 40 categories for a total of 176, and we are proud to profile these businesses and providers that you chose in the monthlong voting.

This contest is the culmination of another year of interacting with our readers, telling stories about people and places that make a difference in our communities and championing the local businesses that serve as the backbone of the Region. It's also a testament to the resilience of the Region.

This is a process you, our readers, take seriously, casting 320,282 total votes, up 28% from 2019. That includes an 11% increase in write-in votes.

All this from 36,068 registered users, an increase of 84% from 2019. That speaks to more than the fact that we have been spending a lot more time at home. It expresses the understanding that the Region is poised to rebound from the limitations imposed by the coronavirus.

What accounts for the staying power of Best of the Region? Perhaps it's how we recognize the value of hard work and the chance to applaud businesses that respect our time and resources and consistently exceed our expectations. A Best of the Region nod is not only a well-deserved “thank you” to those who truly care for their customers, but it also reinforces those efforts.

These pages contain a number of first-time winners including Anytime Fitness, Jay Marie Salon & Spa and the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce in addition to stalwarts such as Albert's Diamond Jewelers, Centier Bank and Strack & Van Til that annually dominate their categories. But whether the business is big or small, time-honored or cutting-edge, all have excellence in common.

So on behalf of the Times, I’d like thank the readers who took the time to thoughtfully complete the ballot and offer our congratulations to the winners. Here’s to another year of “the best” in the Region!

Chris White

Publisher

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.

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