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VALPARAISO | The city's Utilities Board on Tuesday voted to send to the council its recommendation to continue fluoridation of the city's water supply.

The action follows the recommendation of the seven-person fluoride commission, which met six times between May 21 and Aug. 7 to hear information and comments for and against fluoridation before voting on its recommendation.

The final vote of the commission was 5 to 2 in favor of continuing the use of fluoride.

The utilities board voted 4 to 1 in favor of sending the recommendation to the council with only Mark Thiros opposed. Thiros also was one of the two people on the commission to vote against fluoridation saying he didn't know if it should be the government's job to decide who gets fluoride.

The board also approved the commission's recommendation that the city revisit the issue in no more than five years to re-examine the changes in science and health information to see if fluoridation still should be done.

Board President David Bengs, who also was co-chairman of the fluoride commission with Thiros, said he thought the issue had been decided long ago but was surprised to learn during the commission's meetings the debate continues and new information still is coming in.

For that reason, taking another look in a few years is a good idea, he said.

Utility Director Steve Poulos said he and Bengs will present the recommendation for a final decision at the council's Oct. 13 meeting.

The board also approved the contract and the order to proceed with H & G Underground, of LaPorte, for the reconstruction of the Horse Prairie Avenue lift station for $607,000. The utility budgeted $650,000 for the project, but the H & G bid was so low, it was able to include nine additional items bid as alternates.

The main purpose is to upgrade the lift station to handle the growth along the U.S. 30 corridor to the east, including the new Pratt Industries paper recycling mill.

Aging, inefficient pumps will be replaced to increase the lift station's capacity to 6.8 million gallons a day from the current 5 million gallons a day. The work is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year.

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