La PORTE — A veteran La Porte County public official has found yet another way to serve.
Gov. Eric Holcomb has named former state Sen. Jim Arnold to the board of directors of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District – the agency that operates the South Shore Line commuter train service.
Arnold assumed the position during the board’s Jan. 27 meeting, where the members elected him treasurer.
The La Porte resident and member of the La Porte Community School Corporation Board of Education will represent the county on the five-person panel, assuming the seat previously held by former Michigan City mayor Ron Meer.
With NICTD board rules allowing only currently elected officials to serve, the governor had to vacate Meer’s seat after he left office at the end of 2019.
Arnold, who expressed interest in serving on the reformed board before Meer’s appointment in 2019, is excited for the opportunity, he said.
The former Michigan City resident and active South Shore rider said he wants to provide his insight and knowledge as the train service embarks on several ambitious projects.
Arnold is a strong supporter of NICTD’s proposed $300 million Double Track project, which will install a second rail line between Michigan City and Gary. The initiative – a partnership between NICTD and local, state and federal entities – is expected to dramatically reduce travel time along the line, which runs from South Bend to downtown Chicago.
The Double Track project will also bring other significant changes to South Shore’s infrastructure in Michigan City, including construction of a new station on 11th Street and a 500-car parking facility.
Arnold believes the improvements will offer a plethora of benefits to the South Shore and its riders, including increased ridership and decreased travel times.
The project will also spur economic development in Michigan City, and draw new residents to the community and greater La Porte County, he said.
The NICTD board appointment is the latest position Arnold has served in his 53 years in the public sector. In addition to his current position on the La Porte School Board, which he has served since 2016, he was La Porte County Sheriff from 1999 to 2007, and a state senator from 2008-16.
Arnold’s father, former Michigan City Mayor Cliff Arnold, also served on the NICTD board during the early 1990s.
He is is the second newcomer on the NICTD board this year, joining Gary Mayor Jerome Prince, who replaced former Gary mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson as Lake County’s representative.
Also serving on the board are St. Joseph County Commissioner Andrew Kostielney, Porter County Commissioner Jeff Good, and Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGuinness, who serves as chairman.
The state restructured the board last year, reducing the number of members from 11 to five while giving the governor the sole authority over appointments. An equal number of Republicans and Democrats are required to serve alongside the INDOT commissioner, a requirement that disqualified Meer’s successor, Duane Parry, from consideration.
The next board meeting is scheduled for March 30. Anyone wishing to contact Arnold can call 219-326-5826 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.