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2017 Fact Book

Statue of Orville Redenbacher

A resource guide to local government, events and more A special publication of Kankakee Valley Publishing

Memorial Opera House

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WELCOME To Valparaiso


Quick Facts City Government Opera House Transportation Parks and Recreation Police Department Fire Department Community Schools Valparaiso University YMCA Popcorn Festival TalTree Arboretum

Pg. 3 Pgs. 4-5 Pg. 6 Pg. 7 Pg. 8 Pg. 9 Pg. 10 Pg. 11 Pg. 12 Pg. 13 Pg. 14 Pg. 15

The site of present-day Valparaiso was included in the purchase of land from the Potawatomi people by the U.S. Government in October 1832. Chiqua’s town or Chipuaw was located a mile east of the current Courthouse along the Sauk Trail. Chiqua’s town existed from at or before 1830 until after 1832. The location is just north of the railroad crossing on State Route 2 and County Road 400 North. Located on the ancient Native American trail from Rock Island to Detroit, the town had its first log cabin in 1834. Established in 1836 as Portersville, county seat of Porter County, it was renamed to Valparaiso (meaning “Vale of Paradise” in Old Spanish) in 1837 after Valparaíso, Chile, near which the county’s namesake David Porter battled in the Battle of Valparaiso during the War of 1812. The city was once called the “City of Churches” due to the large number of churches located here at the end of the 19th Century. The city also has a long history of being a transportation hub for the region. In 1858, the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad reached Valparaiso, connecting the city directly to Chicago. By 1910, an interurban railway connected the city to Gary, Indiana. Today, while the city no longer has a passenger train station, it is still very much a part of the “Crossroads of America” due to its proximity to I-65, I-80, I-90, and I-94.

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Valparaiso Quick Facts • Valparaiso is the county seat of Porter County in Northwest Indiana. • According to the US Census Bureau, the estimated population in 2015 was 32,626, an increase of 257 from 2014. • Median household income 2010-2014 was $49,656 in 2014 dollars. • Per capita income in past 12 months in 2014 dollars is $25,002. • Persons in poverty, percent 16.1 percent according to the US Census Bureau. • Valparaiso was included in a purchase of land by the United States Government from the Potowatami Indians in 1832. • Valparaiso means “Valley of Paradise” in old Spanish. It was once called Portersville, established in 1836, and was renamed in 1837, after David Porter, the county’s namesake, fought in the Battle of Valparaiso during the War of 1812. It is named after the city of the same name in Chile. • Valparaiso sits on the site of the Sauk Trail, which ran from Rock Island, Illinois, through northwest Indiana to Detroit, Michigan. • Valparaiso has a mayor and a seven person city council rep-

Porter County Courthouse in Valparaiso

resenting five districts with two at-large seats. • Valparaiso is home to Valparaiso University, founded in 1859. It is also home to a branch of Ivy Tech State College. • Valparaiso is a transportation hub, located midway between Chicago and South Bend with access to the South Shore rail

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line, ChicaGo Dash and its own V-Line bus system. It is situated along US Hwy. 30, State Road 49 and State Road 2. • Lincoln Highway, US 30, was the first coast to coast roadway in the country. Valparaiso became part of that route. A marker designating such sits in front of the city hall (pictured below). • The median value of owneroccupied housing units (20102014) is $165,500. The median selected monthly owner costs – with mortgage (2010-2014) is $1,325. Median selected monthly owner costs -without mortgage (2010-2014) - $449. Median gross rent (2010-2014) - $840. • Education in Valparaiso, according to the US Census Bureau of Education: High school graduate or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+, (2010-2014) is

92.6 percent, Bachelor’s Degree or higher, percent of persons age 25 years+ (2010-2014) is 35.9 percent. • In civilian labor force, total, percent of population age 16 years+, (2010-2014) is 60.9 percent. In civilian labor force, female, percent of population age 16 years+, (2010-2014) is 54.1 percent. • Total accommodation and food service sales 2012 $107,638. • Total health care and social assistance receipts/revenue, 2012 is $313,333 • Total manufacturers’ shipments, 2012 is $959,112. • Total merchant wholesaler sales 2012 is $236,553. Total retail sales, 2012 is $854,605. Total retail sales per capita, 2012 is $26,695.

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Jon Costas Mayor

Sharon Swigart Clerk/Treasuer

Diana Reed District 1 Councilmember

Robert Cotton District 2 Councilmember

Matt Murphy District 3 Councilmember

Lenore Hoffman District 4 Councilmember

John Bowker District 5 Councilmember

Trista Hudson At-Large Councilmember

Deb Porter At-Large Councilmember

Bill Oedling City Administrator

Valparaiso City Government The City of Valparaiso is governed by the mayor and a seven member city council. Day to day operations are under the city administrator. Mayor Jon Costas has been the mayor of Valparaiso since 2004. Prior to becoming mayor, he was an at-large councilman for the city beginning in 1985. He is a long-term resident of Valparaiso, and is a 1975 graduate of Valparaiso High School.

He received his BA from St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer and his law degree from Valparaiso University School of Law, specializing in Elder Law. He is an adjunct professor at the law school. The city council members are District 1: Diana Reed, District 2: Robert Cotton, District 3: Matt Murphy, District 4: Lenore Hoffman, District 5: John Bowker and two at-large

members: Trista Hudson and Deb Porter. The council meets the second and fourth Monday of each month at 7 p.m. in Valparaiso City Hall, located at 166 Lincolnway, downtown Valparaiso. The city administrator is Bill Oeding. He reports directly to the mayor and is responsible for implementing policy directives of both the mayor and the

See GOVERNMENT, page 5

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GOVERNMENT ... From Page 4 city council. As administrator, he is also responsible for strategic planning, financial management and citywide communication. He coordinates daily operations in the following departments: engineering, human resources, information technology (IT), parks and recreation, planning, public works, project management and utilities. Oeding worked for the city as director of public works before attaining the position of city administrator. His office is at city hall. To reach city hall, call 219-4621161. The Valparaiso City Hall is open Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The mayor’s email is mayorcostas@ His executive assistant, Lori Good, can be reached at the city hall number or through email at The fax number for city hall is 219-462-4273.

The city clerk/treasurer is Sharon Swihart (sswihart@ She is the fiscal officer for the city. The city clerk/

treasurer position is an elected office. Currently, there are five full time employees including Swihart, and two part time

employees. The office can be reached at the city hall number and is open during regular city hall hours.

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Memorial Opera House The Memorial Opera House, a 364-seat historic venue, sprung to life at the end of the 19th century, when the Grand Army of the Republic (the GAR) wanted to build an auditorium that would be useful for the growing town of Valparaiso, and Porter County. In 1893, Memorial Opera House was constructed to commemorate the Veterans of the Civil War. More than 100 years later, the GAR’s strong voice still echoes in Memorial Opera House’s beautiful red, white and blue stained-glass windows found throughout the building, and on the plaque over the entrance honoring “The Soldiers and Sailors of 1861-5. Throughout the years, Memorial Opera House has stood as a beacon for the Arts: acting as a venue for theatrical events, concerts, public meetings, weddings, funerals, presentations, school plays and graduations. In addition, some nationally recognized personalities have been part of events at the Memorial Opera House. • “March King” John Philip Sousa led a series of concerts from the Opera House stage beginning in February1898. • The Marx Brothers performed here for two days in January of 1919. Valparaiso native Beulah Bondi, the woman who portrayed Jimmy Stewart’s mother in the movies Mr. Smith Goes To Washington and It’s A Wonderful Life, got her start in theatre on this very stage in a production of Little Lord Fauntleroy. For over 40 years, Valparaiso’s own Community Theatre Guild acted as stewards of Memorial Opera House, bringing with them an ambitious vision: to bring living, legitimate theatre to residents of Porter County, and to rehabilitate and preserve Memorial Opera House. While these artists have since established themselves in a new home, Valparaiso’s Chicago Street Theatre, the twofold mission to create vibrant art and steadfastly protect the historic theater has been proudly renewed by the tireless volunteers, the loyal patrons, and the new Memorial Opera House staff. The PRESENT AND FUTURE The present is truly an invigorating time for Memorial Opera House. Much needed restoration work has begun on both the interior and exterior of the 120-year-old building. Brick, plaster, paint, flooring, doors, windows, and draperies have all been targeted in the renovation work that ushered in 2013. The Memorial Opera House Foundation has been reactivated and Porter County has generously renewed its support to return Memorial Opera House to its previous 1890’s grandeur. And with the new renovation schedule comes a new promise: Memorial Opera House – Spotlighting History, Community, and the Arts. The renovation of the building constitutes only a part of our pledge to care for and recall our history. Building tours are now available as part of our mission to shine a light on our history. New partnerships with community leaders and businesses will fruitfully bring revenue and an active sense of fraternity to Valparaiso and Porter County. Our desire to bind together with our Community to envision a prosperous future goes hand in hand with our commitment to the Arts. Throughout the world’s history, thriving arts have been a sure sign of thriving society. Our commitment to the Arts and Education stems from a philosophy that the Arts make our lives better. With this in mind, Memorial Opera House staff dutifully works to bring live

Memorial Opera House

theatre, music, and dance to our community and educational opportunities to our children. With your help, whether generous volunteerism, consistent patronage, humbling tax- deductible donations, or all of the above, Memorial Opera House can courageously look toward its future, Spotlighting History, Community, and the Arts. And we can say with certainty, ‘the future is bright.’

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Valparaiso Transportation Valparaiso’s Transportation Department is located in City Hall at 166 Lincolnway. Taylor Wegrezyn is the transportation manager. There are two bus lines in Valparaiso, the ChicaGoDASH and the V-Line. ChicaGoDASH takes riders to Chicago and back, while the V-Line transports passengers around the city, and has a line taking passengers to the South Shore station. Monthly passes are available at the Valparaiso Village Station at 58 S. Campbell St. Tickets can be purchased starting 30 minutes prior to departure. The ticke office is open Monday through Friday, 5:30 to 7:15 a.m. ChicaGoDASH accepts Wage Works, RTA fare checks and debit cards, Visa, MasterCard, American Express, personal checks, cash and most commuter benefits debit cards. The V-line was established in 2007 and has a number of routes throughout the city, including destinations within the campus of Valparaiso University. It is a deviated and fixed route bus service. A deviation is a departure from the scheduled route. Deviations are granted on all routes where time allows and cannot be scheduled if



it delays the route any more than five minutes. To request a deviation, customers may download a deviation request form online at www. under transportation. The ChicaGoDASH partners are the City of Valparaiso, Federal Transit Administration, Northwest Indiana Regional PC, NWI Regional Development Authority and Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission. Call 219-462-1161 or toll free 800326-9193. For bilingual information, call 877-746-3274. The city has five routes, all designated by a different color, green, yellow, brown, orange, red and purple. The green line operates Monday through Saturday, 6:16 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. Yellow operates Monday through Saturday, 6:18 a.m. to 8:15 p.m. Brown line hours are Monday through Saturday, 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. The Orange line operates Friday from 2:20 to 10:33 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9:10

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a.m. to 11:13 p.m. The Red line runs on Fridays from 1:20 p.m. to 11:23 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 8:10 a.m. to 12:03 p.m. and the Purple line operates Monday through Saturday, 8:15 p.m. to 10:19 p.m.


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Parks and Recreation Valparaiso has 17 parks and a golf course for fun, play and relaxation. The parks are 200 East, Banta Park, Berkley Park, Bicentennial Park, Central Park Plaza, Forest Park, Foundation Meadows, Glenrose Park, Jessee-Pifer Park, Kirchhoff Park, Ogden Gardens Park, Old Fairgrounds Park, Rogers-Lakewood Park, Tower Park, Valplayso, Westside Park and Will Park. The Forest Park Golf Course is described on the city’s web site as a “somewhat wide open traditional parkland front nine, and a very challenging back nine that has several elevation changes and relatively small greens, Forest Park awakes the senses and challenges your skills.” Ogden Gardens features a Japanese Garden, a gazebo, trails, streams and a pond with koi. It is an oasis of beauty within the city where visitors can relax and enjoy the views in a relaxing stroll through the park. It is located at Campbell St. and Harrison Blvd., about 3/4 mile north of Lincolnway. Central Park Plaza is located in downtown Valparaiso and offers a skating rink in the winter and a splash pad in the summer. It also houses the Porter Health Amphitheater, the William E. Urschel Pavilion and a statue of the city’s famous popcorn maker, Orville Redenbacher. Valplayso is located on the south side of Glendale Blvd., east of Roosevelt Rd. It was designed and built in 1994 by the Valparaiso community in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Valparaiso Department of Parks and Recreation. Community participation was incorporated into all phases of the designing and building of Valplayso; more than 2,600 children and adult volunteers shared in the experience. Energetic foundation members and committed park staff coordinated the community project. Valplayso was updated on its 20th anniversary in 2014 with more fun for children to enjoy. Old Fairgrounds Park is located at 704 McCord Rd. at Evans and Calumet Ave. It features the Butterfield Family Pavilion, a 5,000 sq. ft. building that was originally the 4-H Building when the park was once the Porter County Fairgrounds. It is available for rental.

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Little Vikings Tot Land Softball fields can be found at Bicentennial Park, which also features a multi-purpose area with a basketball backstop and newly refurbished playground equipment and tennis courts. Visit the Parks Dept. web site at index.aspx?NID=325 to learn about all the city’s parks.

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Valparaiso Police Department The Valparaiso Police Department is located at 355 S. Washington St. The Police Chief is Michael Brickner. Richard Spicer is the Asst. Chief and Michael DeHaven is the Captain of Patrol. The patrol division is the largest and most visible of the divisions. Patrol officers are assigned to a district in the city providing blanket coverage and enhancing response time. The city has two K-9 officers and their canine partners Cairo and Femmy. The officers are Sgt. Jerame Simpson and Officer Joe Hall. The investigation division has six detectives under the direction of Capt. Jeff Balon. The police department offers a number of community programs where citizens can get involved including the Citizens’ Police Academy.

The Valparaiso Police Department is located at 355 S. Washington St.

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Page 10 The Valparaiso Fire Dept. is headquartered at 2605 Cumberland Dr., Station No. 2. There are three stations in the city, Station One (above) is located at 205 Indiana Ave. Station Three can be found at County Rd. 222 North and County Rd. 250 West. Chad Dutz is the Fire Chief with Scott Arnold as Assistant Chief. Administrative hours are Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The non-emergency number is 219-4628325. The department was first organized in 1868.


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Valparaiso Community Schools Valparaiso Community Schools include eight elementary schools, two middle schools and a high school. School board members are appointed by the Valparaiso City Council, with one seat on the board up for renewal every June 30. In May, the council seeks applicants from citizens interested in serving on the school board. The school corporation office is located at 3801 N. Campbell St. Rick Frataccia is the Superintendent of Schools. Julie Lauck is the Associate Superintendent and Jim McCall is the Asst. Superintendent. Sharon Qualkenbush is the Chief Financial Officer and Christina Coppinger is the director of Human Resources. The elementary schools are: Central Elementary at 305 Franklin St. It is a 4-Star School. Jeanie Sienkowski is principal. Contact the school at 219-5313030. Cooks Corner Elementary is located at 358 Bullseye Lake Rd. Mrs. Elaina Miller is principal. The phone number is 219-5313040. Flint Lake Elementary can be found at 4106 Calumet Ave. Principal Hawkins can be emailed at and the phone number is 219-531-3160. Dr. Bonnie Stephens is the principal at Hayes Leonard Elementary, located at 653 Hayes Leonard Rd. The phone number is 219-531-3060. Memorial Elementary is located at 1052 Park Ave. Mrs. Debra Misecko is the principal. The school can be reached at 219-531-

3090. Northview Elementary is located at 257 Northview Dr. The principal is Mr. Loren Hershberger. Phone 219531-3100. Parkview Elementary is found at 1405 Wood St., and the phone number is 219531-3110. Anne Wodetzki is the principal. Thomas Jefferson Elementary’s principal is David Muniz. The school is located at 1700 Roosevelt Rd., 219-531-3130. Benjamin Franklin Middle School is at 605 Campbell St. Christopher Fields is the principal and Andrew Sargent is the assistant principal. The number is 219-531-3020. Thomas Jefferson Middle School is located at 1600 Roosevelt Rd., 219-531-3140. Mrs. Elizabeth Krutz is the principal and Mr. Cary McKay is the assistant principal. Valparaiso High School has an average enrollment of 2,082 students in 9th through 12th grades. It is a 4-Star School, four years in a row. Dr. Reid Amones is the principal. Assistant Principals are Ashley Monroe, Michael Pavell and Dr. Veronica Tobon. Barak Coolman is the Dean of Students. The high school is located at 2727 N. Campbell St. The main office number is 219-531-3070, athletics is 219-531-3080 and attendance is 219531-3079.

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Valparaiso University Valparaiso University is a selective, independent Lutheran institution in Valparaiso, Indiana, an hour’s drive from Chicago. Founded in 1859, Valpo offers a thorough grounding in the liberal arts as well as professional training and graduate study, helping students find their own paths to lifelong personal, spiritual, and professional growth. Academic Programs and Assets • More than 70 majors offered in five undergraduate colleges • Graduate school offering more than 40 master’s and two doctorate degrees • Law School • Valpo Core intensive seminar for first-year students • Valpo Study Centers in England, Germany, Costa Rica, and China • 17 international programs in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America Graduate Success • 94.7% of graduates are employed or engaged in graduate education within six months of graduating • 85% of pre-med students (and 100% of those from Christ College) are admitted to medical school • 50% of Valpo alumni hold at least one graduate degree • Alumni network numbers nearly 60,000 Athletics and Student Life • Nine men’s and 10 women’s NCAA Division I varsity sports teams • Mascot: Crusader

• School Colors: brown and gold • 100+ co-curricular organizations • Nine fraternities, six sororities • 61% of students live on campus • Hundreds of students participate annually in concerts, plays, and exhibitions, with access to state-of-the-art performance facilities • Students combine perform more than 220,000 hours of community outreach and service-learning annually Accreditations The Higher Learning Commission, The American Chemical Society, National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education, Indiana State Department of Education-Indiana Professional Standards Board, National Association of Schools of Music, The Council on Social Work Education, Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, AACSB International, The Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, State of Indiana Health Professions Bureau-Indiana State Board of Nursing, Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, The Association of American Law Schools, The American Bar Association.

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The Valparaiso YMCA is a state of the art facility built in 2009 and is located at 1201 Cumberland Crossing Dr. The first YMCA in Porter County was founded on the campus of Valparaiso University in 1896, and a county charter was obtained in 1946. A new outdoor, open air pavilion was added to the YMCA campus in 2012. The Valparaiso Family YMCA serves over 16,000 members. The website, states, “Here, everyone has the opportunity to become healthier, more confident, and more engaged in the community.” It is open Monday through Friday from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is open to members only on Sunday fom 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and is open from 12:30 to 6 p.m. The Y offers child watch hours so parents can exercise, swim or attend one of the Y’s programs with hours on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Programs offered include child care, aquatics, health and wellness, diabetes prevention, sports and recreation for adults and youth and programs for adults and children with special needs. Call 219-462-4185 for more information on the YMCA.

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POPCORN FESTIVAL Boasting the nation’s first Popcorn Parade, the Popcorn Festival in downtown Valparaiso offers family-fun every year, the Saturday after Labor Day. The parade is the highlight of the day featuring floats with a popcorn theme, marching bands and local organizations. The festival is held in honor of the late Orville Redenbacher, popcorn mogul and former Valparaiso resident. Craft, food and fine arts booths line the streets and the kids can enjoy the Kid’s Poppin Play Place. Live entertainment can also be heard in the afternoon and early evening. The week leading up to the event features city hosted activities including the Cutest Baby Contest and the Hot Wheels Contest. Also available during that week are daily lunch and dinner events held under the Orville Redenbacher tent in Central Park Plaza hosted by different charities and businesses. 2017 Event Saturday, September 9 7 AM to 6:30 PM

Downtown Valparaiso This long-standing community tradition returns for its 39th year. The Valparaiso Popcorn Festival continues to offer family-fun activities for all ages. Over 250 arts & crafts booths, 35 food booths, kids’ games, five-mile Popcorn Panic, two live music stages and the nation’s first Popcorn Parade are only the beginning of the excitement of this incredible festival. PRESENTED BY: CHICAGOLAND POPCORN South Shore CVA Main Stage

Central Park Plaza at the Porter Health Amphitheater Main Stage Headliner: BoDeans at 5:00 pm Known for their chart topping songs like “Fadeaway”, “Only Love” and “Dreams” the band is sure to deliver high energy performance for eager fans. BoDeans are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of their breakthrough album – Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams. BoDeans will take the stage as the finale of the day long entertainment that begins at noon in Central Park Plaza at the Porter Health Amphitheater. Popcorn Festival Day Activities 7:00 am – 6:30 pm:  Craft, Food and Fine Arts Booths Open 7:30 am:  Popcorn Panic 5M Run and 5K Walk (hosted by Valpo Parks) 7:00 am – 6:30 pm: Kids Poppin’ and Play Place, Inflatables & Games 8:45 am: Lit’l Kernel Puff Race (hosted by Valpo Parks) 10:00 am: Chicagoland Popcorn Parade 12:00 pm – 6:30 pm: Main Stage Live Entertainment 12:30 pm – 6:30 pm: Second Stage Live Entertainment   Popcorn Festival Pre-Event Activities Cutest Baby Preliminaries: Saturday, August 26, 9:00 am-11:00 am at the Indiana Beverage Activity Center Chicagoland Popcorn Area Open: Tuesday, September 5 – Friday, September 8 at the William E. Urschel Pavilion Daily Lunch:  11:00 am-1:00 pm Daily Dinner: Times vary, approximately 4:30-7:00 pm

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TalTree Arboretum & Garden is located at 450 West 100 North Valparaiso, Indiana TalTree Arboretum is a dog friendly oak preserve of formal gardens, woodlands, wetlands, and prairies that is available year round. Taltree offers beautiful vistas, quiet corners, and hiking trails. There are also many special events throughout the year. This arboretum is home to 112 unique oaks which is the most diverse oak collection in the nation. There is also a railway garden featuring model steam trains. The garden tells the story of early 19th century us railroad history. Please visit for hours of operation, directions, admission prices and information on becoming a member. Arboretum & Gardens: April - October: Daily 8 am-7 pm CST November-March: Daily 10 am-4 pm CST Railway Garden April-October: Daily 10am-5pm (weather dependent)

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2017 Valparaiso Fact Book  

An updated information guide for all things Valpo, Indiana in 2017.

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