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Carl and Lorrie Lisek

Carl and Lorrie Lisek

As part of its effort to highlight its 2013-14 class, the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana selected Carl and Lorrie Lisek and Brandt Baughman as its September Innovators of the Month.

Building on national recognition for displacing petroleum with alternative fuels, South Shore Clean Cities champions partnerships to build a green economy across Northern Indiana, said Carl Lisek, executive director.

“Our region continues to be a leader in displacing petroleum by using alternative fuels from biodiesel to electric, from natural gas to hybrids,” he said.

Several years ago, the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Clean Cities gave SSCC top awards that included best overall improvement in petroleum savings and the greatest increase in biodiesel fuel use.

Also announced in February at the SSCC’s annual meeting was NIPSCO’s plans to add up to 250 electric vehicle charging stations at public locations to encourage electric vehicles.

Earlier this company announced a home charging station program in which more than 100 residential customers have already signed up encouraged by incentives.

SSCC administers both programs. Other projects involve a new city of Hobart garbage truck fueled by natural gas, and Ozinga's fleet embracing natural gas. Ozinga has 500 mixers and support vehicles, and a public fueling station in Gary.

SSCC is a project of Legacy Environmental Services led by Carl and Lorrie Lisek, president.

The first in the Indiana and among the first in the nation, the “daylighting” of Dunes Creek at the Indiana Dunes State Park is a shining example of collaboration in innovation, said Brandt Baughman, property manager.

A two-phase project launched in 2005 and completed in 2012, it restored just under a mile of the stream to a near natural state that had been channeled into a culvert as it flows into Lake Michigan.

“We removed 280 parking spaces as a result,” he said, “and instead of seeing fewer people, this led to an explosion in gate receipts.”

The restoration of the final leg of the creek that drains a 7,400 acre water shed had been diverted into a culvert that ran underneath two parking lots since the 1930s. By the early 2000s, the main lot had fallen into disrepair and rather than restore the rarely used lot, the decision was made by DNR to remove it and restore the stream.

More than 1 million people annually visit the park, up from under 500,000 in 2005.

The society is part of the Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center of Ivy Tech Community College Northwest.

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Assistant Local News Editor