Downed trees are no problem for Lake County Traveling Board – Chicago Tribune

Since “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds” wasn’t an excuse for the Persian couriers of 500 B.C., a little wind wasn’t going to be for the Lake County Election Board’s Traveling Board Saturday.
Traveling Board workers Aleta Stoler and Pam Drangmeister were somewhere between Cedar Lake and Lowell around 10 a.m. when at a bend in Clark Street — or it might’ve been Chase Street, Drangmeister said — they came up a rather tall, skinny tree blown all the way with a second, smaller tree down from the torrential winds of Friday and Saturday, she said.
There was no getting around the tree, Drangmeister, of Crown Point, said, so the two women got out of the car and tried to move it themselves. That didn’t work.
“It was a skinny tree — about six inches in diameter — but it was tall and reached all the way across the road,” Stoler, of Merrillville, said. “And with the other tree on top of it, it was heavy.”
As they were figuring out what they could do, another person drove up and joined them, she said. Then two more people coming the other direction joined the effort, and within 10 minutes, they cleared the road and headed to their next stop in Lowell.
At one point, one of the people suggested they call the Lake County Highway Department, she said, but it turns out they didn’t need to.
“One of the guys — I forgot which one — said ‘I’m from the Highway Department,’” she said, laughing. “It was kind of funny.”
“It proves that we’ll do pretty much anything to make sure people are able to vote,” Stoler added.
Ginny Gasparovic, who heads the Traveling Board with Toya Smith, was flabbergasted when the two women finally checked in that afternoon to update their status with her.
“They told me where they were heading, and I said, ‘You didn’t take 9-Mile? And you had to move a tree? What?’” Gasparovic said. “We really do have the best Traveling Board in the county.”
The Traveling Board helps voters who’re homebound and would rather vote on a machine than send in an absentee ballot, Drangmeister said. Traveling Board members assist people in nursing homes and hospitals as well, she said.
“We know that all of the polling places are Handicapped Accessible, but they’re not always handicapped friendly,” she said. “We do it for the primary and general (elections).”
Smith on Monday said the Traveling Board makes a difference in ways people might not think always think about.
“I had a woman come in and tell me her husband had had a stroke, and that she could go out and vote, but he couldn’t, and he didn’t want an absentee (ballot),” she said. “We sent a team out to them, and she told me he was so happy because it helped him feel normal.”
Anyone homebound or otherwise differently abled is welcome to apply to have the Traveling Board come to them, Drangmeister said. Those interested should call the Lake County Election Registration Board at 219-755-3795.


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