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Lake County Government Center stock

The entrance to the Lake County Government Center in Crown Point.

CROWN POINT — Lake County commissioners awarded more than $3 million in contracts Wednesday to service vendors.

The bulk of the money will go to renovating infrastructure of the Lake County Government Center, which first opened in the mid 1970s.

The commissioners voted to give $1,517,000 to Quality Control Systems to replace heating, ventilation and air condition equipment; $1,478,000 to Hasse Construction, of Calumet City, to renovate restrooms, the recorder's office and courtroom areas; and $196,520 to Continental Electric to install new lighting.

The county also ratified previous agreements with Regulatory Compliance Management to remove asbestos and Vam Labs Inc. to monitor the air quality in the administration and court buildings of the government center during the asbestos work.

The county borrowed $12 million last July to abate asbestos and renovate county offices, including the county jail, juvenile detention center and the satellite courthouses and rehabilitate the Milroy Covered Bridge on the Lake County Fairgrounds.

Asbestos, a mineral fiber, was commercially sprayed throughout the government center during its construction in the mid 1970s. It has since been linked to lung cancer.

A federal court mandate prompted county officials to remove asbestos from the jail in the late 1980s. Commissioners spent $12 million between 1993 and 2006 removing asbestos from public and office areas, but the program was halted short of the mark because of cost overruns.

Commissioners also awarded $26,928 to ATN Technology for a closed circuit video and radio system in the Lake County Sheriff's Department offices.

Commissioners voted to give Nexus Group, of Indianapolis, $120,000 to assist the Lake County assessor's office in making real estate valuations for taxing purposes.

Lake County Attorney John Dull said Wednesday the county will ask the Indiana Supreme Court to overturn an Indiana Appeals Court ruling in December that put the county in jeopardy of having to pay as much as $350,000 to the family of a former government contractor.

U.S. Research Consultants, and its principal officer Roosevelt Powell — who died last year — pursued delinquent taxpayers for the Lake County treasurer's office between 2000 and 2006 under contracts awarding him a percentage of the taxes collected.

The relationship ended after federal prosecutors indicted Powell in October 2006 on fraud charges. A federal jury found him guilty in 2007 of conspiring to illegally reduce taxes owed on delinquent real estate in Gary. He served about two years in prison.

The county had paid Powell's company nearly $4 million in commissions, but he filed suit in 2008 to recover additional money.

Lake Superior Judge John Sedia found last year that this request for additional money to be untimely and that the county had no further obligation to U.S. Research Consultants Inc. The Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday reversed Sedia's decision in December.


Lake County reporter

Bill has reported in Lake County since 1972 after graduating from Indiana University. He has worked for The Times since 1997, covering the courts and local government during much of his tenure. Born and raised in New Albany, Ind., he is a native Hoosier.