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History Of County
In 1836, Porter County was formed, including the territory now comprising both Porter and Lake Counties, with Portersville as the county seat. In 1837, at the suggestion of local residents, the Indiana General Assembly changed the name of the county seat to Valparaiso, which is Spanish for "Vale of Paradise", to symbolize the beauty and wealth of the lakes and beaches and rich agricultural land surrounding it.

Porter County was named in honor of Commodore David Porter of the U.S. Navy, whose famous battle during the War of 1812, while in command of the Essex, was fought near the harbor of Valparaiso, Chile. Commodore Porter captured seven British ships and took possession of the Marquesas Islands during this great exploit. Eventually, the Essex was blockaded by British ships in the harbor at Valparaiso and Porter was taken prisoner. He was released later and
when Porter County was named after him in 1836, he was serving as American charge d'affairs at Constantinople. Commodore Porter died in 1843.

To understand County Government and its obligations, it is first necessary to understand the geographical units in Indiana that are established by the General Assembly. In Indiana, local government is divided geographically into units:
counties, townships, cities and towns. These units work together within each county to provide a variety of special duties which are required by the Indiana Constitution. Special duties can include: flood protection, schools, police and fire
protection, highway or street construction, and planning administration.

Historically, Indiana counties were totally "creatures of the legislature." The counties relied on the Indiana General Assembly to define their powers and obligations. In 1978, the General Assembly recommended that the power of the counties be expanded. The General Assembly proposed that the counties be given the power to exercise any powers not specifically denied to them or reserved by the State of Indiana. In 1980, this recommendation became enacted as a law and is now known as the "home rule" statute. The "home rule" statute granted Indiana counties "all the powers that they need for the effective operation of government as to local affairs". The counties now have no limits on their powers except for certain powers reserved by the state.

Indiana counties are generally responsible for the administration of county governmental affairs. Administrative duties may include:
  • Law enforcement
  • Maintenance of county highway systems
  • Operation of county institutions
  • Collection of taxes
  • Keeping certain public records
  • Operation of court systems
  • Conducting voter registrations and elections
  • Landfill operations
  • Emergency medical services
  • Public Health Departments

Each county is required to have a five-member, bi-partisan Sheriff's Merit Board to administer certain police appointive functions under a merit system.

Porter County operates under an elected Board of Commissioners responsible for administration, and a seven-member County Council which must pass on all County appropriations. Administrative duties are divided among various elected or appointed county officials.