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Porter County students do winter car check-ups

KaylBowman Portage (right foreground) gets ready add windsheild wiper fluid car during free winter car check-up event Porter County Career

Kayla Bowman of Portage (right, foreground) gets ready to add windsheild wiper fluid to a car during a free winter car check-up event at the Porter County Career & Technical Center in Valparaiso, Ind. Saturday September 29, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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If you go

The Porter County Career and Technical Center will offer free winter car checks from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 20 at the center, 1005 N. Franklin St., Valparaiso. No appointments are needed; for more information, call Karl Sickles or Tony Avalos at 531-3170.

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Updated: November 1, 2012 6:47AM



VALPARAISO — Judy Lippens brought her 1995 Oldsmobile in to the Porter County Career and Technical Center on Saturday for a free winter car check.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Lippens, of Valparaiso, adding her daughter is a vocational counselor at the school. “It gives them practical experience.”

About 25 juniors and seniors at the center’s automotive program did the work, topping off fluids and giving car owners a sheet to let them know what was OK and what needed more attention.

Auto technology instructor Karl Sickles offered a similar program in Crown Point several years ago. He tried it once at the Porter County center awhile back and the response wasn’t very good, but he tried it again five or six years ago and it’s gained in popularity ever since then, sometimes attracting almost 50 car owners. This is the first year the checks are being offered two weekends; they will be held again on Oct. 20.

The students, from high schools throughout Porter County and Hobart, had car owners waiting for the service when they opened up Saturday. As the work got under way, they served a wide array of cars, from a BMW station wagon to a Ford F-150 pickup truck.

“It’s good experience for the kids. For the first year kids, it’s their first experience under the hood, and it builds a camaraderie,” Sickles said, adding it breaks down barriers between first and second year students, and those from different high schools. “They are automotive students now.”

Over the years, they students have serviced everything from luxury vehicles to vans that their homeless owners were living in, Sickles said.

Emmy Byrnes, 18, a senior at Valparaiso High School, likes both the automotive program and helping people out with the winter car checks.

“People come here hoping nothing’s wrong and when it is, we break it down for them,” she said.

Lippens, meanwhile, hoped her car would get a clean bill of health.

“I know it’s old but it’s paid for and it rolls down the road,” she said.



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