Portage lakefront

Shown is the area where the rising Lake Michigan waters breached a dune just west of the pavilion at the Portage Lakefront Park and Riverwalk.

VALPARAISO — Porter County officials are hoping for freezing weather soon to protect the Lake Michigan shoreline, which has been battered by waves and a record high lake level.

The county Board of Commissioners on Tuesday extended for another month the emergency declaration that had been issued in December.

The problem isn’t just the loss of beaches but the protection that those beaches provide for infrastructure along the shoreline — “critical infrastructure such as main roadways, water lines, electrical feeds and natural gas supplies,” the declaration said.

“Loss of critical infrastructure has the potential to impact homes numbering in the thousands as well as business entities,” the declaration said.

Among the measures taken are limiting speeds to 15 miles per hour along Lakefront Drive in Beverly Shores. Commission and heavy loads are also forbidden there unless the Beverly Shores Police Department gives its permission.

Other travel on Lakefront Drive is restricted as well.

County Emergency Management Agency Director Lance Bella is checking the shoreline daily, Commissioners President Jeff Good, R-Center, said at Tuesday’s meeting.

The commissioners have seen extensive drone footage in the area, which shows the drastic erosion there, Good said.

Good and Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, praised Bella for the agency’s attention to the erosion situation.

“I think this is the only time you guys have ever prayed for freezing weather,” Bella told them.

The state of emergency was extended to Feb. 18. The declaration had been set to expire Tuesday.

In other business, the commissioners are looking for citizens to apply for open seats on the county Park Board and Wildlife Management Board.

The Park Board position must be filled by a Democrat to comply with state law.

No political party affiliation requirements apply for the seven open seats on the Wildlife Management Board.

Residents have until noon Jan. 27 to submit an application. Appointments will be made at the Jan. 28 Board of Commissioners meeting.

Anyone interested in applying can find details at www.porterco.org/appointments.

Porter County Auditor Vicki Urbanik also has an appointment to the Park Board. She chose Erin Labovitz, of Valparaiso, who currently serves on the Shirley Henize Land Trust board. A change in state law allowed the County Council to designate a county official to appoint someone to the Park Board, and the council chose Urbanik to do so.

The commissioners also chose board officers Tuesday. Good will remain as president. Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, will be vice president, and Biggs will serve as secretary.

Biggs will also serve on the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, Community Corrections, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board, Emergency Management Agency and 911 Advisory Board. Blaney was named to the Plan Commission, Child Protection Team and Center for Workforce Innovations board. Good was named to the Storm Water Advisory Board.

Gallery: 1959 images of NWI industry

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