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CHESTERTON — The town will be the second in the Region to install a Safe Haven Baby Box.

Fire Chief John Jarka said he received shipment of the town's box last week and is seeking bids for its installation and alarm system. The hope is to have it installed at the Broadway fire station in November.

Chesterton expressed interest in installing a Safe Haven Baby box earlier this year after two babies were recovered last year in separate incidents from a box at the Coolspring Township Volunteer Fire Department outside Michigan City. 

Around the time the baby was recovered last November, Chesterton police discovered human afterbirth, but not a baby, in a portable toilet near the Prairie Duneland bike trail.

Officials were not able to officially link the two events, but suspected they might be related, which prompted town officials interest in securing a box of their own.

Jarka said while the town launched a fundraising campaign, officials thought it was important enough to commit $10,000 from the county economic development income tax fund to purchase the box.

"We really wanted to move forward with it, the council really wanted to move forward, mostly because of the success of the one in Coolspring Township," Jarka said.

They are continuing to raise funds to pay for its installation, an alarm system and maintenance of the box. Clerk-treasurer Stephanie Kuziela said the town has received $2,450 in donations so far which is set aside in a separate fund for costs related to the box.

Michigan City and Hobart have also been exploring installing baby boxes.

A state law, effective July 1, allows the use of the baby boxes at fire departments, including volunteer units, that are staffed by an emergency medical service provider around the clock. The boxes must be located "in an area that is conspicuous and visible to staff" and must include "an adequate dual alarm system connected to the site that is tested at least one time per month to ensure the alarm system is in working order," according to the legislation.

Chesterton's fire department is staffed around the clock, including emergency medical personnel.

The box is designed to silently contact 911 when it is opened. Motion sensors contact 911 a second time when the baby is placed inside, and the person leaving the baby is given a third option of pushing a button to contact emergency officials.

The drawer has a heater to keep the baby warm and can only be opened from inside the building once it is closed with the baby inside.

(Editor's note: This story has been edited from a previous version.)

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Porter County Reporter

Joyce has been a reporter for nearly 40 years, including 23 years with The Times. She's a native of Merrillville, but has lived in Portage for 39 years. She covers municipal and school government in Porter County.