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Mike Harris is Chamber citizen of the year

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Chamber board: Members of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, going into 2003, are pictured here, during the banquet held Friday at Sand Creek Country Club. Left to right, front, are Mary Edwards, of Precise Audit; Dave Perry, First National Bank; Janice Custer, Duneland School Board; Linda Ramsey, Horizon Bank; Judy Chaplin, Shady Lawn Florist; Bonnie Gaston, Gaston Towing and Repair and Duneland School Corp.; Bill Cummins, Porter Memorial Health Systems and Ray Krisek, Schoolhouse Shop & Antiques. Back row, Greg Fox, Kramer and Leonard; Joan Galka, Bank One; Glenn Wagner, The waters of Duneland; Kent Mishler, Centier Chesterton; Mark Chamberlain, Great Dune Financial; Bob Vaughn, Indiana American Water Co.; Jeff Trout, Trout Glass and Mirror; Chuck Lukmann, Harris, Welsh & Lukmann and Jim Fitzer, NIPSCO. Absent from photo are Greg Babcock, attorney; John Marshall, 1st American; Jean Phelps, Express Personnel Services; Tim Winey, Winey Insurance; Dirk Baer, Duneland School Corporation and Suzanne Philbrick, attorney. (Tribune photo by Dana Gilbertson)

New Chamber president: The Duneland Chamber of Commerce inducted a new president at Friday’s Chamber banquet. Incoming president Dave Perry (left) shakes hands with outgoing president Mary Edwards. Edwards holds a plaque commemorating her term as president.

(Tribune photo by Dana Gilbertson)

Outstanding Citizen: Named the Duneland Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Citizen at Friday’s Chamber banquet was local attorney Mike Harris (right). Harris, among his other volunteer activities, was instrumental in launching the Chesterton High School Speech and Debate program. With Harris is presenter Mark Chamberlain.

(Tribune photo by Dana Gilbertson)

 

By ALEXANDRA NEWMAN

Mike Harris was named Oustanding Citizen at the annual winter meeting and awards dinner Friday night at Sand Creek Country Club.

Harris, a local attorney, has been active in community affairs since moving to Chesterton and is credited with being instrumental in establishing the Chesterton High School Debate Team.

Said Mark Chamberlain, “We had a guest speaker at our church recently for a stewardship drive and he made a statement that made a lot of sense to me. He said, ‘You don’t give to the church because God needs the money, you give because you need to give.’

“Rarely will we see that spirit personified better than in our honoree this evening,” he continued in his introduction.

Harris’ professional contributions to the community include representing NICTD (Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District), the town of Dune Acres and being the only lead counsel Duneland Schools has retained since its reorganization in 1969.

At his church, he has served on countless committees, led the youth program and headed up a capital fundraising drive for a building addition that raised three quarters of a million dollars.

He is a long-standing active member of the Chamber of Commerce, International Rotary Club, and the former Diana of the Dunes Festival. Most recently he was on the committee of the Community Prayer Breakfast.

Gary Neale also spoke of Harris’ attributes, albeit in a light-hearted vein. Neale said when he met Harris 13 years ago on the golf course, Harris hit a ball into the woods.

“I said, ‘that’s it for him,’ and was quickly told ‘just wait’ by Joel Hull and John Read. He hit the ball out of the woods and onto the green.”

Continuing to describe Harris’ tenaciousness, Neale related the story of how Harris ‘’straight-bombed’ a Colorado ski hill to beat Neale to the bottom.

And, while fly fishing in Colorado with Neale, Read, and Hull, Harris caught a fish by grabbing it. When his friends began to give him some hints about fly-casting, according to Neale, Harris said, “I caught the biggest fish, that’s all I care about.”

“He is tenacious. He gets involved and is an outstanding lawyer, Neale said.

“He could have been anywhere, but he chose Chesterton and he chose to be a part of the community. He is always out there - at school, church and economic development. He raises his hand every time.”

In a letter Jim Cavallo, current head coach of the Chesterton High School Debate Team, praised Harris for first approaching Glen Percifield in 1966 urging him to start a debate team, then supporting the team after it was established. Each year Harris honors the speech and debate team with a dinner.

Said Cavallo’s letter, “Some citizens follow the flow, and some make themselves available...Harris was a college debater who knew the value of the program.”

“Chesterton has been put on the academic map because of his foresight to give back to the community,” said Cavallo’s letter.

The team has won national and state championships and has had several individual champions.

Harris approached the dais to a standing ovation.

“Thirty-nine years ago, I was fortunate to find this community,” he began.

Referring to Mox Ruge as “the Abe Lincoln of Porter County” he credited him as having been his mentor for three years.

“The nicest thing I did for Chesterton was to bring my wife here,” Harris said.

“This is a special place. Not often can you entice children to come back to live where they grew up. Four of my five children live here and most all of my grandchildren. It is a great reward of life.”

Harris also recognized the politicians, both local and county.

“They are straight-arrow people dedicated to the community,” he said.

“Also what makes the community great is the local newspaper (Chesterton Tribune). Sometimes it exasperates me, but for the most part it is an outstanding paper. It’s nice to have the ‘daily toot’ come to our door.

“All these things make this a good place to live,” Harris said, concluding with a statement to the chamber to continue to honor area citizens.

“It’s been a pleasure,” he said.

President says farewell

In her farewell speech, 2002 President Mary Edwards told her followers they will need to “turn up the knob on economic development planning.”

She also noted the chamber’s name change which is now the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce.

New Chamber President

Edwards passed the gavel to Dave Perry, 2003 President.

Perry, Chesterton office manager and Vice President of First National Bank of Valparaiso, said one of the first things he did when he joined the bank in 1971 was to become involved in the Duneland Chamber.

He served on the Duneland Economic Development Co. Inc., as treasurer, was golf outing chairman and served on the executive board and as vice president.

He and his wife Susan have three sons, all graduated from college, and he said he is ready to begin the next phase of their lives.

“...we want to do our part to keep our community strong, and be a place for children of all families to work and live,” Perry said.

“Last year there was a popular movie that had a saying in it, ‘There is nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer,” he continued urging his fellow members to rededicate their efforts at making the quality of life enjoyed in this community by “exercising this muscle called volunteerism.”

He urged members to assist the Duneland Economic Development Commission to improve the local economy and to take an interest in legislative issues and know how legislators represent us on local issues and concerns. Growth and stability comes through a team effort he said.

“A respected person once told me - the way you practice is the way you play the game. Your personal involvement in many different ways will be appreciated and allow us to win the game,” he said, then quoted what Olympic Torch carrier, Kim Goldak said at an award dinner in 2002, “ ‘Duneland belongs to you and me, and we must always be proud to say who we are and where we come from. Only then will the Duneland legacy continue on.’”

2003 Board of Directors

The 2003 Board of Directors includes Greg Babcock, Attorney at law, Judy Chaplin, Shady Lawn Florist & Greenhouse, Janice Custer, Duneland School Corporation, Mark Chamberlain, Great Dune Financial Services, Inc., Mary Edwards, Precise Audit Enterprises, John Marshall, 1st American Management, Kent Mishler, Centier Bank, David Perry First National Bank, Jean Phelps, Express Personnel Services, Linda Ramsey, Horizon Bank, Jeff Trout, Trout Glass & Mirror, Inc., Robert Vaughn, Indiana American Water Co., Inc., Glenn Wagner, the waters of Duneland and Tim Winey, Winey Insurance Agency, Bill Cummins, Porter Memorial Health Systems, Greg Fox, Kramer & Leonard Office Products, Bonnie Gaston, Duneland School Corporation & Gaston’s Towing and Repair, Roy Krisek, Schoolhouse Shop and Antiques, Charles Lukmann, Attorney Town of Chesterton and Harris, Welsh & Lukman, Dirk Baer, Duneland School Corporation, Jim Fitzer, Northern Indiana Public Service Company, Joan Galka, Bank One, Suzanne Philbrick, Attorney at Law and Kevin Warren, Kelle Moble, and Tom Godfrey of Lake Erie Land Company.

Retiring Board Members

Retiring Board members include Bob Crone, Coldwell Banker, Larry Chubb, Indian Oak Resort & Spa, Sue Edds, Community Member, Dina Brickler, PMH, Chesterton Medical Center, H. Stephen Hewlett, Duneland School Corporation, Kay Ribordy, Bank One and Clarence Ehlers, Bethlehem Steel Company.

 

Posted 1/20/2003

 

 

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