Dunelanders may perhaps best remember 2011 as a year of sadness, loss, and
On Sept. 28, Spc. James A. Butz, U.S. Army—Porter’s own son and a 2009 CHS
graduate—died in Afghanistan, a hero. Butz, 21, a combat medic with the 82
Airborne Division, was rushing to the aid of two Marines hit by an
improvised explosive device in the Helmand Province when he himself was
struck by an IED.
All three men perished.
For the first time since this country went to war after 9/11, Dunelanders
lost one of their own. They responded with grief but also with pride, as
hundreds lined the procession route—stretching along Ind. 49, then through
Porter and into Chesterton—to welcome home Spc. Butz one last time. They
gathered again at the wake at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, to esteem his
sacrifice, to honor his courage, to bless his family, father and mother John
Jr. and MaryJane, brothers Will and John. Then, on an Indian summer day in
October, Spc. Butz was laid to rest at Chesterton Cemetery with full
CHS Trojan Coach John Synder’s memory of Spc. Butz the football player: “He
played bigger than he was.”
There were others to grieve as well in 2011.
On Sept. 3, Sheri Jania, 45, a long-time bartender at the Shift Change Tap
in Burns Harbor, was dragged more than a mile to her death on U.S. Highway
20 beneath a car which police say James Lohman III was driving. Lohman, 49,
a Portage resident, was charged with leaving the scene of an accident
causing death while OWI and with reckless homicide but not with murder,
although Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris told the Chesterton Tribune
that the car’s driver must have known that something, someone, was lodged
beneath the vehicle’s underbody. Lohman’s trial is scheduled to begin on
On Sept. 17, the body of Amanda Bach, 19, was found in brush south of the
Canadian National railroad right-of-way in Union Township, 36 hours after
her car was found abandoned. Dustin McCowan, 18—who lives 300 yards from
where Bach’s body was discovered—told police that Bach had left his home
alive and well in the early morning hours of Sept. 16 but on Sept. 19 he was
charged with her murder. An autopsy conducted on Sept. 20 determined that
Bach died of a single gunshot wound to the throat, severing her spine and
killing her instantly. McCowan’s trial is scheduled to begin on Aug. 13.
Coroner Harris recorded four other homicides in 2011 for a total of six,
tied according to Harris for the most ever reported in Porter County in a
•On April 24, Cynthia Cashner, 50, was found shot to death at her business
in Portage. Her estranged husband, Fredrick Cashner, 54, of Jackson
Township, was charged with her murder.
•On May 31, Cheryl Miller, 52, was found shot to death at her home in
Pleasant Township in an apparent murder/suicide. Her estranged husband,
Frederick Miller, 59, was found dead at the scene of a single gunshot wound
to the head.
•On Sept. 21, Donald M. Crouse, 45, died of injuries sustained a week
earlier when shot by his ex-wife, Beverly Therese Mitchell, 44, at her home
on Michigami Trail in Porter. Mitchell told police that she shot Crouse
during a domestic disturbance and in self-defense. She was charged with
•On Sept. 24, Michael Pasternak Jr., 24, of Gary, was shot to death while
mowing a lawn in Hebron. Police believe that he may have been hit by a stray
bullet fired from nearby woods or fields.
Duneland’s firefighters, for their part, responded to at least 11
residential fires in 2011, including one on Sept. 10, in a duplex at 910
Portage Ave. in Porter, which claimed the life of Lana Bevil, 63. The PFD
believe the cause of that fire to have been either an electrical malfunction
in a lamp or the careless use of smoking materials. Three of the 11 fires
have officially been called “suspicious,” in another—on Jan. 19, at a home
in the 800 block of Park Ave. in Porter—a dog and a cat succumbed, and in
one crazy three-week period this fall fully five homes were either destroyed
or badly damaged.
In the case of the Jan. 19 fire, PFD Chief Lewis Craig accused the 911
Dispatch Center of failing to tone-out the PFD. Another foul-up, this one on
April 12—when the Dispatch Center failed to tone-out the PFD to a dryer fire
in the 200 block of Indiana Street—“could have been a disaster,” Craig told
Meanwhile, when firefighters weren’t battling blazes this summer, they were
participating in multiple search-and-rescue operations on Lake Michigan,
where with some regularity strong north winds generated huge waves and
created rip currents which threatened the droves of swimmers driven to the
beach by the swelter of July and August.
In fact two persons drowned this year at the unguarded beaches at Indiana
Dunes National Lakeshore: Mark Tuthill, 47, of Portage, on July 15 at
Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk; and Rayan Sami A. Bokhari, 23, of Saudi
Arabia, on Aug. 28 at Porter Beach.
Bokhari drowned after walking west to the unguarded Porter Beach from the
guarded Indiana Dunes State Park beach, after the latter was closed due to
water conditions: 10- to 12-foot waves and a rip-current advisory.
Later in the year, on Oct. 21, the body of Roxanne Shah, 47, of
Indianapolis, was recovered from the Indiana Dunes State Park beach, eight
months after her abandoned vehicle was found, on Feb. 7, in the parking lot
at Mt. Baldy and footprints leading to the shelf ice discovered on the
beach. The National Park Service and the U.S. Coast Guard conducted an
extensive search for Shah, to no avail. Coroner Harris subsequently ruled
her death a drowning and a suicide.
Landmark events in Duneland in 2011:
•In March ground was broken on the long-discussed, often-postponed Downtown
combined utility project, forcing the closure of South Calumet Road between
the Norfolk Southern grade-crossing and West Indiana Ave. The project was
finally completed in July, after interruptions by bad weather and a strike
by Operating Engineers Local 150.
•In April the Chesterton Tribune celebrated its 50th year of
•In May the Town of Chesterton’s new municipal facility opened for business
at 1490 Broadway.
•In October ground was broken on the new Addison Pointe Health and
Rehabilitation Center on Dickinson Road in Chesterton.
Meanwhile, in May, Westchester Public Library Assistant Director Jane
Walsh-Brown, the long-time curator of the Westchester Township History
Museum, announced her retirement, effective Dec. 31, after 36 years with WPL.
In December, Burns Harbor Town Marshal Jerry Price announced his retirement,
effective Jan. 31, after 28 years of service with the BHPD.
Deaths in 2011: Ruth Osann, a Saves the Dune Council pioneer, at 93; William
“Bud” Tilden, former member of the Porter Town Council, Advisory Plan
Commission, and Porter Park Board, at 79; Harry Lewis, former member of the
Chesterton Utility Service Board and active supporter of State Park Little
League, at 77; David Parry, former NFL official and NCAA basketball
official, at 76; Alice Bruhn Scott, a long-time Chesterton Downtowner, at
90; Beverly Shores Town Marshal Richard Landis, at 51; and John R. Larsen, a
favorite son of Porter and former state senator, at 68. Farewell and
A home in the Village of Burns Harbor is badly damaged in a fire; the BHFD
reports that the blaze was fueled by floor joists made of compressed wood
and glue. Former Porter County Commissioner Bob Harper, D-Center, takes a
position as public defender. Jackson Township artist Virginia Phillips’
painting of a tiger lily is chosen by Easter Seals for its 2011 mailing
Porter Circuit Judge Mary Harper rules that the Burns Harbor Town Council
has no standing to challenge the BH Board of Zoning Appeals’ decision to
allow C.R. England Trucking to build a 250 semi-truck parking lot less than
half a mile from its existing terminal. For the second year, the Duneland
YMCA is honored with a Best of Chesterton Award for its child day-care
services by the U.S. Commerce Association. Porter County Health Department
officer Dr. Gary Babcoke his retires after 33 years. Porter Town Council
members Michele Bollinger, Trevin Fowler, and Todd Martin seek to overturn
the surprise election on Dec. 28 of Dave Babcock to the council presidency.
Report: Chesterton High School had an overall graduation rate of 91.1
percent in 2010 and a non-waiver rate of 87.5 percent, the median in Porter
County and above average statewide. The Chesterton Fire Department tells
other Duneland departments at a special meeting: trust is essential to the
success of a “fire territory,” a separate taxing unit formed by two or more
towns or townships to provide fire protection.
The CHS speech team posts eight champions at the Valparaiso High School
tournament. Nearly a foot of snow falls in Duneland, which nevertheless
dodges a lake-effect bullet which hits LaPorte County. Porter Town Council
votes to unseat President Dave Babcock, with Clerk-Treasurer Carol Pomeroy
breaking a 2-2 tie; at the same meeting, the council votes to appoint Member
Todd Martin to the BZA, in violation of Indiana Code prohibiting BZA members
from holding other elected office; Town Attorney Patrick Lyp advises the
council that it needs to take corrective action.
In his State of the State Address, Gov. Mitch Daniels proposes the expansion
of charter schools, limits on teacher union contracts, and taxpayer-funded
vouchers to help parents send their children to private schools. Jesse
Daniels, former financial secretary of USW Local 1011, representing
ArcelorMittal’s East Chicago facility, is indicted in federal court on a
charge of theft of union funds. The Burns Harbor Town Council votes 3-2 not
to appeal Judge Harper’s ruling on standing.
Report: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore set a record in 2010 with 2.165
million visitors. NIPSCO asks the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to
quash its first electric rate case—in which the IURC authorized a
residential rate hike of 16.8 percent—and expedite its second case, in which
it’s seeking a more modest residential rate hike of 7.9 percent. The family
of John and Mark Thanos—who died heroes trying to save a child swept away in
a ditch during the floods of September 2008—donates $1,000 to the Friends of
the Westchester Public Library for the purchase of audio-visual materials.
Report: visits to the Thomas Branch of the Westchester Public Library were
up 8 percent in 2010; those to the Hageman Branch, up 18 percent. The
Chesterton Town Council bounces Kim Goldak from the BZA and replaces her
with Jim Kowalski, who had previously resigned his seat but sought it again,
citing a “lack of leadership.” BHFD Chief Bill Arney proposes an ordinance
which would require houses built of compound wood and glue floor joists to
have a notification medallion placed on the roof peak, after a Dec. 30 fire
badly damages a home with such joists.
For the Porter Redevelopment Commission: the first phase of the Gateway to
the Dunes project calls for a hotel and family entertainment complex with an
indoor/outdoor water park. The CHS speech team posts six champions at the
2011 Skeffington Memorial Speech Tournament at CHS. The Porter County
Commissioners vote 2-1 to approve the re-zone of 10 acres around Porter
hospital’s new facility in Liberty Township—over the objections of
residents—for the mixed-use St. Andrews medical complex.
Two pets perish in a house fire in the 800 block of Park Ave. in Porter; PFD
Chief Lewis Craig, who says that the PFD was never actually toned out to the
fire by the E911 Dispatch Center, vows to learn why his firefighters never
received the alarm. Porter County argues the unconstitutionality of a Jasper
County judge’s ruling—to the effect that the county may not legally withdraw
from the Northwest Indiana Redevelopment Authority—before the Indiana Court
of Appeals. The CHS Chapter of Business Professionals of America entry
advances to the State Leadership Conference in Indianapolis.
U.S. Steel Corporation posts a net loss in 2010 of $482 million, cutting
2009’s net loss in half. The Chesterton Utility Service Board endorses a
2-percent sanitary sewer rate hike for Chesterton customers which would
increase the average bimonthly bill by $1.55.
The Chesterton Town Council hear comments from the public on a proposed
smoke-free ordinance. Porter Redevelopment Commission President Michele
Bollinger promises that there will be no Wal-Mart built as part of the
Gateway to the Dunes project.
Report: Porter hospital’s new facility is on track for completion in 2012.
The Porter Town Council—ending a flap which began late in 2010—backs off a
takeover and decides to let the Park Board retain jurisdiction over its
employees. Jim Anton of Anton Insurance Agency is installed as the 2011
president of the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce.
NiSource Inc. reports a net income in 2010 of $292 million or $1.05 per
share, compared to $217.7 or 79 cents in 2009. Porter County Assessor Jon
Snyder commits to the assessment of some 300 commercial properties on which
new construction, additions, or renovations were not assessed from 2008 to
2010. The forecast of a monster blizzard prompts the Chesterton Tribune
to cancel publication on Feb. 2, the first time since the Great Ice Storm of
1998 that the newspaper has missed a regular publication day; a foot of snow
blankets Duneland but Chicago gets hammered.
Elizabeth Maren, wife of Munchkin Jerry Maren—a.k.a. the Lollipop Kid—dies.
The Porter County Commissioners retain REM Management Services Inc. to study
the consolidation of the E911 system, at a price not to exceed $5,000. The
CHS debate team qualifies five students for the National Forensic League
tournament in June.
The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance certifies Porter County’s
2011 budget order and tax rates, almost two weeks before the statutory
deadline. The CHS debate team braves horrendous weather to win its fourth
consecutive state championship. Sheriff Dave Lain names Maj. Steve Lawrence
to replace retiring Chief Deputy Doug Snyder and taps Lt. Jeff Biggs to lead
the Investigations Division.
ArcelorMittal reports a net income in 2010 of $2.916 billion or $1.93 per
share, compared to $157 million or 11 cents in 2009. The Duneland School
Corporation braces for a possible shortfall of $1.4 million in state-funded
tuition support. The Town of Porter reports 32 inches of snow in the first
nine days of the month.
More than 1,000 Hoosier teachers rally at the Indiana Statehouse to denounce
proposed legislation which would impact public education. National Park
Service and U.S. Coast Guard personnel sweep Mt. Baldy for Roxanne Shah, 47,
of Indianapolis, whose van was found in the Mt. Baldy parking lot;
footprints in the snow leading to the ice shelf off the shoreline lead
searchers to fear the worst. The Burns Harbor Town Council asks the Advisory
Plan Commission to review a proposed ordinance which would regulate large
public assemblies at which admission is charged and alcohol served.
The temperature in Chesterton drops to -2 (and the wind chill to -17), cold
but nowhere close to the record of -21 set in 1994. Chesterton Police Chief
Dave Cincoski urges residents to remove cars from the street—or at least
clear them of snow—to make them identifiable as vehicles to municipal plow
drivers. The Porter Advisory Plan Commission formally approves the “vision”
for the $30-million Gateway to the Dunes project and forwards it to the Town
Census 2010 numbers are released: Burns Harbor grows by 50.9 percent in 10
years, from 766 in 2000 to 1,156; Chesterton grows by 24.6 percent, from
10,488 to 13,068; Porter shrinks by 2.3 percent, from 4,972 to 4,858; while
Porter County also grows, by 12.0 percent, from 146,798 to 164,343. The CHS
Japanese Olympiad wins the state championship in the fourth-year division
and takes second in the third-year division at Valparaiso University. The
late Chesterton Fire Chief Ralph Brooks’ vacant home in the 1400 north block
of Brummitt Road burns to the ground.
The Chesterton Town Council tables a proposed smoke-free ordinance while the
General Assembly mulls a statewide measure. The United Steelworkers convoys
600 members to Indianapolis to protest proposed “right-to-work” legislation
which the USW says would hit the middle-class in its pocketbook and weaken
unions. The CHS speech team is first at Munster Invitational.
Under the Indiana House’s biennial budget plan, the Duneland School
Corporation would get a projected 0.4-percent increase in state funding in
2012 but an overall 6.3-percent increase in its regular curriculum program
funding. Save the Dunes pioneer Ruth Osann dies at 93. CHS clarinetist
Bradley Levi is selected to participate in the 51st annual IASHS Band
Festival, sponsored by the Indiana Bandmasters Association.
The Chesterton Utility Service Board awards the Downtown utility project to
Rieth-Riley for its low bid of $518,208.30. The Chesterton Utility Service
Board announces that a storage tank—a major component of a state-mandated
“long term control plan” to reduce combined sewer overflows—will not be
built on State Park Little League fields or parking lot. Hundreds rally at
the Porter County Courthouse on behalf of public schools.
Community Health Systems Inc., owner of Porter hospital, reports a net
income in 2010 of $280 million or $3.01 per share, compared to $243.2
million or $2.66 in 2009. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood plugs
high-speed rail at a summit held at the Sand Creek Country Club.
Report: the U.S. Postal Service will study the proposed merger of the Gary
and South Bend processing and distribution centers.
William “Bud” Tilden, 79, former member of the Porter Town Council, the
Porter Advisory Plan Commission, and Porter Park Board, dies. The Chesterton
Clerk-Treasurer’s Office floods; its functions are moved to the town hall
meeting room. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, voices his opposition to the
proposed merger by the U.S. Postal Service of its Gary and South Bend
The Porter County Commission-ers agree to re-finance the 2001 jail bond
issue for a net savings of $570,000. The Indiana Court of Appeals upholds a
Jasper County judge’s ruling that the Porter County Council may not legally
withdraw Porter County from the Northwest Indiana Redevelopment Authority.
ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor appeals the Indiana Department of Environmental
Management’s newly issued wastewater permit, on the ground that it illegally
imposes monitoring requirements on discharges into Lake Michigan.
Porter County Council President Dan Whitten, D-at large, indicates a
willingness to appeal the Jasper County judge’s RDA ruling to the State
Supreme Court. Arthur Blum, 70, of Morgan Township, is booked into the
Porter County Jail on a charge of murdering his son, Aaron, 32, while the
two were arguing in a pickup parked in Washington Township in August 2009.
The Porter County Park Board approves an agreement with the Damon Run
Conservancy District and Indiana-American Water Company to bring sanitary
sewer and water service to Sunset Hill Farm Park.
The CHS speech team takes second at the sectional tournament, hosted by CHS,
and advances 30 students to the state championship. Report: Porter County
Republicans outraised Democrats by nearly two to one in the 2010 election.
Ground is broken on the Downtown combined utility project; the Norfolk
Southern grade-crossing is closed for the duration.
The CHS entry wins the Academic Super Bowl at an invitational hosted by
Purdue University North Central. The Duneland School Board unanimously
adopts a resolution opposing proposed legislation which would expand charter
schools and allow taxpayer-funded vouchers for private education. Bailly and
Jackson elementary schools and St. Patrick Catholic School are among 15
schools in Porter County designated “four star” by state Department of
The CHS Science Olympiad takes first in its division, second overall, at a
tournament hosted by Indiana University Northwest, and advances to state
competition at Purdue University Calumet. The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of
Commerce awards $39,000 in façade grants to 18 businesses. Thousands gather
for a union rally at the Indiana Statehouse in opposition to a
Republican-backed bill which they say attacks public education and labor
unions; Democrats continue their boycott of the House.
CPD Sgt. Randy Komisarcik is honored for saving the life of a student
choking on food in the CMS cafeteria. Thousands are killed when a tsunami
caused by an 8.9 earthquake swamps Japan. Justin Paliga, Kyle Hodgson, and
Justin Jefress are honored for saving the life of a woman who’d driven her
car onto the Norfolk-Southern tracks into the path of an approaching train
just east of the Calumet Road grade-crossing.
The Chesterton Town Council votes unanimously to enact a 2-percent sanitary
sewer fee hike to take effect April 1; the average household’s bimonthly
bill will increase by $1.55, to $76.80. The Porter County Council takes
public input on possible uses of $9 million in interest accrued from the
sale of Porter hospital; expansion of physical and mental health services
for residents, improvements in air and water quality, and economic
development are all suggested. The Porter BZA votes 3-2 to reject a variance
which would have allowed the use of the former Waverly Community Center at
955 Waverly Road as a showroom for custom cabinets.
House Speaker Republican Brian Bosma says that he’s done negotiating with
boycotting Democrats and will consider a formal censure motion. Report:
property crime in unincorporated Porter County plummeted in 2010 while
arrests spiked; meanwhile, the Civil Bureau reports that in 2010 it
advertised 1,048 sheriff’s sales of foreclosed property, an increase of 44
percent over the 781 advertised in 2009. Herb Read remembers the successful
grassroots fight against the Bailly I nuclear power plant, as news emerges
of leaks and explosions at Japanese nuclear plants in the quake’s wake;
State Senate Majority Leader David Long is quoted as saying that a
pro-nuclear bill pending in the General Assembly may be doomed.
The CHS Science Olympiad takes second at regional competition hosted by
Indiana University Northwest. The CFD is awarded a $46,180 grant for the
purchase of new hoses and nozzles. South Calumet Road closes for the
duration as the Downtown combined utility project expands; an old metal rail
of the interurban electric street car line is unearthed during work.
Yikes: the Chesterton Utility Service Board takes a collective gulp on
learning of the $11.4-million estimated cost of a storage tank, a major
component of a state-mandated “long term control plan” to reduce combined
sewer overflows. The Porter County Commissioners hands oversight of Animal
Control activities to the Porter County Sheriff’s Police. The Porter County
Council accepts a $500,000 plan—recommended by Auditor Bob Wichlinski,
Assessor Jon Snyder, and Treasurer Mike Bucko—to address back-tax
enforcement and mailing-address corrections, among other things.
House Democrat leaders and Republican Speaker Brian Bosma have a “very
positive” meeting, while Indiana Supreme Court Justice Randall Shepard
expresses doubt whether the Court will involve itself in the legislative
stalemate. The Chesterton BZA approves a variance for a $170,000 LED welcome
sign which the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce wants to erect near
the Porter County ambulance barn at the southwest corner of Ind. 49 and East
Porter Ave. The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission creates a new TIF
district south of the Indiana Toll Road to finance construction of the Ind.
49 utility corridor.
A house in the 600 block of South Second Street, badly damaged by a fire in
November 2008 and ordered demolished by the Chesterton Town Council, is
saved when Kay and Joe Gersna purchase the property and commit to rehabbing
it. House Democrats return to Indianapolis after Republicans agree to
“soften’ their agenda, ending a boycott lasting nearly six weeks. The CHS
speech team takes second place at the state championship at Fishers High
School, led by Dakota McCoy, who for the second consecutive year takes first
place in broadcasting.
House Republicans push through bills targeted by the Democrat boycott; the
legislation changes regulations on worker pay in government construction
projects, prohibits municipalities from setting higher minimum wages, and
guarantees secret ballots in union elections. The House approves a new
budget plan which keeps overall education funding at current levels while
shifting funding to growing suburban school districts. The Porter Advisory
Plan Commission votes 3-3 on sending a Gateway to the Dunes plan to the Town
Council with a favorable recommendation, after questions are raised about
traffic analysis and related studies.
Former Hebron Town Council president and convicted sex offender Mike Haughee
faces a felony forgery charge in Perry County, Ind. The Chesterton
Tribune celebrates its 50th year of daily publication. REM Management
Services Inc. recommends staffing, scheduling, and training improvements for
Porter County’s E911 system.
Sandra Ann Everly, 53, of Michigan City, is charged with OWI-causing death
in connection with an accident at the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and
Waverly Road in August 2010; Everly’s passenger, William Hertaus, died of
his injuries a week later. Report: thefts, auto thefts, and robberies were
up in the Town of Chesterton in 2010, traffic enforcement was way up, and
motor vehicle accidents were way down. The CHS Sandpipers take top honors in
competition at John Burroughs High School in Burbank, Calif., while the
Drifters take fifth place.
The Porter Branding Leadership Team hears input on making the town a
family-destination focus. The National Park Service announces that, in the
event of an anticipated shutdown of the federal government, all trails and
beaches at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore would literally close to
visitors. Harry Lewis, 77, a former member of the Chesterton Utility Service
Board and an active supporter of State Park Little League, dies.
For the second consecutive year in Porter County, the first installment of
property-tax bills is mailed on time. The Rube Goldberg device designed by
CHS Science Olympiad students Stephanie Buehler, Mavric Price, and Dayna
Gallo takes first place, while a balsa wood helicopter designed by Alex
Hanson and Eric Dreischerf takes second at state competition at Purdue
University Calumet. “In lieu of foreclosure,” the Lake Erie Land Company
once again takes possession of Sand Creek Country Club, after embattled
Illinois developer James Gierczyk transfers ownership as part of a deal
which “resolves all claims” between the two parties. PCSP Cpl. Ryan Fenters
resigns, after being charged with OWI on leaving Sheriff Dave Lain’s
re-election party in November 2010.
Report: a Republican re-districting plan would put all of Porter County in
the 1st District of U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky (D), by removing Pine and
Jackson townships from the 2nd District of Joe Donnelly (D). Report: NIPSCO
Group CEO Jimmy Stanton’s compensation in 2010 totaled $1,900,753, a
30-percent increase over 2009; the bulk of the increase was pegged to
performance thresholds which Stanton hit, while his base salary rose by
$64,000, from $440,000 to $594,167. Youth clubs, Duneland School officials,
and community members make a pitch for the installation of artificial turf
at the CHS stadium, resurrecting a 2008 proposal.
As part of the Gateway to the Dunes project, a roundabout is proposed for a
relocated Ind. 49 intersection north of Oakhill Road. Outnumbered House
Democrats argue that a Republican re-districting plan would leave few
competitive races and create more solidly GOP districts. Frontline
Foundation Inc., a not-for-profit substance-abuse treatment program based in
Chesterton, holds a fundraising auction of art created by its clients.
PFD Chief Lewis Craig says that a dryer fire on Indiana Street could have
been a “disaster” following another E911 tone-out foul-up. The Burns Harbor
Town Council enacts an ordinance regulating the use of hazardous
pre-fabricated I-beams in house construction. Liberty Elementary School
student Madison Fielder wins the district-wide spelling bee hosted by
Brummitt Elementary School.
The Chesterton Tribune remembers Porter County boys who went to war,
on April 15, 1861. CHS Honors Economics students tell the Chesterton Town
Council how to go high-tech, as part of this year’s edition of the Future of
Chesterton Foundation project. The offices of the Chesterton Tribune
are burglarized after the front door is forced; a police scanner, $30 in
cash, and a reporter’s magnet toy are stolen and a fruitless effort made to
enter the safe.
A sanitary sewer main along North Calumet Road fails, causing back-ups in
several basements in the neighborhood. The Porter County Commissioners
announce a search for a new E911 director but ask the current one, Dave
Sheibels, to serve as interim director until a replacement is found. The
Porter Park Board founds Bud’s Buddies, dedicated to fundraise for the Parks
and Recreation Department, in honor of the late Bud Tilden. A federal judge
orders Deborah Pavel evicted from a “lease-back” in Beverly Shores, nearly
two years after the Reservation of Use expired; the National Park Service
says that Pavel ignored orders to vacate the residence. The Northwest
Indiana Regional Development Authority accepts a $17.6-million grant
application from the Town of Porter for the next phase of the Gateway to the
The Chesterton Middle School Science Olympiad entry finishes fourth at state
competition at Purdue University Calumet. The Porter Advisory Plan
Commission unanimously endorses the concept of the Gateway to the Dunes
project but stops short of considering a re-zone of the planning area. Alan
D. Cohn, 50, of Channahon, Ill., dies of injuries sustained after running
into traffic on Ind. 49 near Gateway Blvd.
Fredrick Cashner, 54, of Jackson Township, is charged with murder in the
shooting death of his estranged wife, Cynthia Cashner, 50, at her business
in Portage. Robert Shannon, 37, of Hammond, is sentenced to six years in the
Indiana Department of Correction after pleading guilty to reckless operation
of a vehicle in a work zone, in connection with the death of Valparaiso
highway worker Christopher Jenkins on I-80 in Lake County in 2010. Community
Health System Inc., owner of Porter hospital, reports a net income in the
first quarter of $61.3 million or 67 cents per share, compared to $69.5
million or 76 cents in the fourth quarter of 2010.
The Chesterton Middle School math team wins the grand championship at the
Lake-Porter County Middle School Conference math contest. United
Steelworkers Local 6787 breaks ground on a memorial to members who perished
in the Burns Harbor mill. U.S. Steel Corporation reports a net loss in the
first quarter of $86 million or 60 cents per share, compared to a net loss
of $249 million or $1.74 in the fourth quarter of 2010.
The Chesterton Town Council, the Tree Committee, and the Street Department
celebrate Arbor Day by replacing a storm-damaged street tree at the
intersection of Broadway and Fourth Street. Volunteers rehab 11 homes and
community sites in this year’s Rebuilding Together Duneland. Osama bin Laden
is shot to death in Pakistan by U.S. Navy SEALs and buried at sea.
Timothy Hefner, 18, is sentenced to 12 years in the Indiana Department of
Correction after pleading guilty to OWI-causing death in connection with a
crash on U.S. Highway 20 which killed Beverly Shores cardiologist Morton
Arnsdorf in June 2010. NiSource Inc. reports a net income in the first
quarter of $205.2 million or 73 cents per share ($197.3 million or 71 cents
Porter County Auditor Bob Wichlinski and Treasurer Mike Bucko report that
efforts to end homestead-exemption fraud should return around $1 million to
the county, not enough, however, to make good on the loss of other revenues,
such as $2 million returned to property owners who have won their appeals.
CHS seniors Tom Biel, Ryan Gorman, and Brian Mabry are named National Merit
The results of the municipal primary election in Duneland: in Porter,
Republican Kenneth Timm beats incumbent Todd Martin in the 1st District,
Republican Rob Pomeroy beats fellow challenger Ron Bush in the 3rd District,
and Democrat Greg Stinson beats fellow challenger William Suarez in the 5th
District; in Chesterton, incumbent Republican Emerson DeLaney beats Tristan
Ziska in the 5th District, and Democrat Brian Mulholland beats fellow
challenger Calvin Chubb in the 3rd District after the latter withdraws from
Gov. Mitch Daniels signs into law the nation’s most sweeping private-school
voucher program. Indiana-American Water Company files a petition before the
Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission seeking a rate hike of 7 percent; if
granted, it would be the sixth hike since 2002. The Porter County Municipal
Airport Authority changes the facility’s name to the Porter County Regional
The Town of Chesterton’s new municipal facility opens for business at 1490
Broadway, home to the Street Department, the Engineering Department, the
Parks and Recreation Department, the Utility Billing Department, and the
Town Manager’s Office. Liberty Township resident Brian A. Reider pleads
guilty in federal court to distributing child pornography over the Internet.
ArcelorMittal reports a net income in the first quarter of $1.069 billion or
69 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $780 million or 51 cents in
the fourth quarter of 2010.
Chesterton Middle School seventh-graders participate in a field day as part
of the annual watershed and non-point source pollution education unit
coordinated by the Chesterton Stormwater Utility; the kids collect litter,
tour the wastewater treatment plant, and test Coffee Creek’s water quality.
A new South Shore poster, created by Artist Barbara Spies Labus, celebrates
the Shirley Heinze Land Trust. The Chesterton Police Commission honors CPD
Det. Lt. Dave Adkins for 25 years of service with the department.
The 49er Drive-In opens its 55th season with a brand-new screen, to replace
the one lost during the blizzard in December. Westchester Public Library
Assistant Director Jane Walsh-Brown announces her retirement at the end of
the year. Porter Town Attorney Patrick Lyp announces his resignation. The
Chesterton MS4 program’s name is changed to the “Stormwater Quality Program
of the Chesterton Stormwater Utility” because no one knows that MS4 is the
abbreviation of Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System program and no one
knows what MS4 does.
The Porter Redevelopment Commission acknowledges the on-site contamination
of the 32 acres which it purchased in 2009 for $350,000, with the idea of
mixed-use developing it. The Porter County Commissioners agree in principle
on the need for a new activity center at Sunset Hill Farm Park. The Times
reports that Porter County Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center, and her
husband flew to a GOP dinner in Indianapolis on the tab of county contractor
DLZ; Adams says she “goofed” and promises to reimburse DLZ the cost of the
David M. Parry of Michigan City—for 20 years an NCAA basketball official and
for 16 years an NFL official, with Super Bowl XVII to his credit—dies at 76.
Dennis Ditterline, 38, of Porter Township, admits to being the BB-gun vandal
who shot at parked and moving cars in Valparaiso and South County; 19
charges, including six felonies, are filed against him. Collin Buckles of
Boy Scout Troop 908, sponsored by St. John’s United Church, earns the rank
of Eagle Scout.
Alyce Bruhn Scott of Chesterton, who made a Cat in the Hat hat look good,
dies at 90. The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission okays a $176,000
contract with DVG Inc. of Crown Point to engineer the Ind. 49 utility
corridor. The R.O.S.E. Award is presented to Chesterton Feed & Garden as
Retailer of the Year by Indiana Dunes Tourism.
The CHS entry takes third place at the Super Mileage Challenge in
Indianapolis, with a car which averaged 446.89 miles per gallon. The Indiana
Department of Environmental Management asks the Town of Porter to test
groundwater at the Brickyard site in response to a citizen’s complaint.
Frederick Miller, 59, apparently shoots himself after fatally shooting his
estranged wife, Cheryl Miller, 52, in what the Porter County Sheriff’s
Police calls a murder/suicide at their Pleasant Township home. CHS speaker
Kara Fasone places 10th in Original Oratory at the National Catholic
Forensic League Grand National Tournament. The City of Chicago cancels the
annual Fourth of July fireworks as a “reasonable expense to cut”; the event
would have cost the city $110,000 plus $750,000 in police expenses.
Chesterton Tri Kappa Associates celebrates its 40th anniversary.
Helmed by its new executive director, Christine Kostbade, the Duneland
Education Foundation gears up for “Duneland Stars Shine On,” a variety show
at CHS featuring alumni performances. The Chesterton Street Department sends
workers and heavy equipment to the Town of Hebron after a severe storm blows
through there. George Hermelink of New Buffalo wins Best of Show at the
annual Chesterton Woman’s Club Art Show, for his oil painting “Evening
Pasture”; Tony Bianco of Chesterton wins Most Popular for the acrylic
painting “Requiem-Off Broadway.”
The Indiana State Building Department wants the Town of Burns Harbor to
amend its ordinance regulating faster-burning, pre-engineered wood trusses,
saying that the required notification tag is too small. NIPSCO blames an
“underground fault” for an outage which affected 150 customers in Duneland
for the better part of 24 hours. Midwest Living magazine names
Indiana Dunes State Park as one of the “Best State Parks” in its Best of the
Midwest 2011 edition.
Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, urges all county employees,
elected and otherwise, to renew their acquaintance with the county’s ethics
policy, after fellow Commissioner Nancy Adams, R-Center, admits having flown
on a county contractor’s tab to Indianapolis. The CHS Class of 2011
graduates in an indoor commencement ceremony. John Corso resigns his seat on
the Westchester Public Library Board of Directors after 15 years of service.
A strike by Operating Engineers Local 150 stops all work on the Downtown
combined utility project, mere days away from completion. The Chesterton
Town Council votes 4-1 to re-zone the Porter County ambulance barn at East
Porter Ave. and Ind. 49 from R-2 to B-2; Member Jim Ton, R-1st, votes
against the motion, citing concerns about the proximity of “sacred
ground”—the Vietnam War Memorial on the property—to possible commercial
development; the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce had asked the
Porter County Commissioners to seek the re-zone as a condition of financing
for a $170,000 welcome sign to be located on the property.
Porter Beachers express their frustration with traffic congestion caused by
beachgoers; the Porter Town Council looks for solutions. Renowned artist and
illustrator Olivia Petrides leads a botanical art workshop at Brincka-Cross
Gardens in Pine Township. The Westchester Township History Museum opens its
“Art of the Dunes: An Enduring Tradition” exhibit.
The Porter Redevelopment Commission okays a $1.6-million contract with SEH
for consulting services in connection with the Gateway to the Dunes project.
Fire destroys a home in the 200 block of Northwind Drive in Liberty
Township; the cause is believed to be a desk lamp which fell on the floor
near a bedroom mattress. The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission instructs
staff to investigate and pursue violations of the planned unit development
ordinance governing Coffee Creek Center; among other things, road pavers are
crumbling, proof of liability is not on file, and the Lake Erie Land Company
has failed to develop, as it committed to do, 12 acres of park land.
The Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club awards Kevin Miloshoff the William
Carmichael Young Leadership Scholarship. The CHS speech and debate team
concludes its season at the National Forensic League’s national championship
in Dallas, Texas; the program is recognized as one of three in the nation to
attend its 40th annual national tournament. Liberty Township day-care
provider Deborah Porlock is found not guilty of battery resulting in the
death of a person younger than 14, in connection with the death of
6-month-old Chesterton-area boy Nicholas Munden, who died Sept. 29, 2008, at
the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital 10 days after
experiencing difficulty breathing at Porlock’s facility.
Capt. Anthony Coslet, a 13-year veteran of the Chesterton Fire Department,
is named Firefighter of the Year. Porter County joins the federally
designated Lake County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), making
it eligible for federal resources to fund drug-interdiction operations. The
Porter County Commissioners approve a licensing agreement with the
Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce for a welcome sign on the ambulance
barn property at East Porter Ave. and Ind. 49.
Arthur James Blum, 69, of Morgan Township, pleads guilty to reckless
homicide in the shooting death of his son, Aaron Blum, in his pickup truck
parked in Washington Township in August 2009. The Friends of the Dunes
rebuffs the National Park Services’ demand for $262,162.53 in funds which
the Friends says are not designated for NPS use, after National Lakeshore
Superintendent Constantine Dillon elects to severe the park’s long-standing
relationship with the Friends.
Report: Porter County youth are at higher risk for substance abuse than
their cohorts statewide in a variety of categories. The Chesterton Utility
Service Board declares an emergency, terminates its contract with Rieth-Riley,
and retains Rock Solid Paving & Excavating to complete the Downtown combined
utility project, after a work stoppage caused by Operating Engineers Local
150’s strike puts a crimp in local business; one day after the Service Board
acts, Local 150 settles its strike against regional contractors.
USA Today picks Indiana Dunes State Park as one of the best “51 Scenic
Hikes” in the nation. CFD Chief Mike Orlich urges the Porter County Council
to fund eight new E911 dispatchers; a day later, the County Council agrees
to explore ways to fund the hires. The Chesterton Town Council, the Utility
Service Board, and the Redevelopment Commission all severe their
long-standing relationship with financial consultant H.J. Umbaugh &
Associates and begins a new relationship with the London Witte Group.
Alan Zimmerman, 43, pleads guilty in federal court to possession of
marijuana with intent to distribute, a year after his home in the Villages
of Sand Creek in Chesterton was raided by police and found to be full of
hydroponically grown marijuana plants. Brock Lloyd is installed as
president-elect of the Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club. The Porter Fire
Department calls a fire in a home under construction in the 400 block of
First Street “suspicious”; damage is estimated at $2,000.
The annual fireworks extravaganza at Indiana Dunes State Park beach is a
booming success. The Town of Porter holds a Fourth of July parade. The
Porter County Museum of History—formerly the Old Jail Museum—broadens its
vision with a variety of Americana placed on exhibit.
Chesterton author Heather Augustyn’s book, Ska: An Oral History, is
named a finalist for the 2011 ARSC Award for Excellence for Historical
Recorded Sound Research. Report: Porter County students perform better on
the ISTEP than their cohorts statewide. An unknown man pulls an alligator
from the exhibit at Zao Island and encourages nearby children to pet it; a
7-year-old does and the gator promptly bites him on the finger.
The Chesterton Town Council joins the Advisory Plan Commission in prodding
the Lake Erie Land Company to keep its PUD commitments at Coffee Creek
Center. The Chesterton Town Council increases the property-tax rate for the
Cumulative Capital Development Fund—used exclusively for the purchase of
emergency vehicles—from $0.0017 per $100 of assessed valuation to $0.04 per
$100, the maximum allowed under Indiana Code. Operating Engineers Local 150
ratifies a new three-year agreement with regional contractors associations.
The Porter Town Council retains Gregory Sobkowski of Hodges & Davis as its
new Town Attorney. CFD Assistant Fire Chief Doug Shearer is honored for his
30 years of service with the CFD. The Porter Town Council votes unanimously
to add the Gateway to the Dunes project to the Porter Comprehensive Plan.
The Duneland Business Initiative Group holds the fourth annual Bark in the
Park at Thomas Centennial Park. The Burns Harbor Town Council pushes the
property owners association for the Tech Business Center to rebuild the
crumbling private Tech Drive to heavy-haul highway standards. Arthur James
Blum, 69, is sentenced to time served—142 days—and 26 months of formal
probation, after pleading guilty to reckless homicide in the shooting death
of his son, Aaron Blum, in August 2009.
Westchester Public Library Director Phil Baugher reports that staff is
preparing a procedural guide for use in determining when illegal activity is
occurring on public library computers. Report: the Duneland School
Corporation finishes generally ahead of the Discovery Charter School and
behind parochial schools in ISTEP scores. Mark Tuthill, 47, drowns at
Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Centier
Bank takes possession of The Brassie Golf Club and retains Golfvisions of
North Lake, Ill., to manage the operation after owner George Middleton exits
A heat wave descends on Duneland. NIPSCO announces a settlement agreement
under which the average household’s monthly electric bill would increase by
4.5 percent or $3.33; almost a year earlier, the Indiana Utility Regulatory
Commission authorized a 16.8-percent hike but the public hue and cry
prompted NIPSCO to seek to abandon the original electric rate case and
pursue a second, more moderate, one instead. The Porter Fire Department
participates in the rescue of two capsized kayakers off Indiana Dunes State
U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, says that a federal government default
would have “serious” implications and voices support for an increase in the
authorized debit ceiling to $14.3 trillion; Visclosky blames the crisis on
four things—the 2001 Bush tax cuts, the War in Iraq, the War in Afghanistan,
and the unfunded Part D of Medicare, all of which Visclosky says he opposed
with the exception of the War in Afghanistan, which he says he supported
until he didn’t. Heavy fog forces the closure of Indiana Dunes State Park
beach, while the summer swelter continues.
The Town of Chesterton and Waste Management hold an e-waste collection;
folks rid themselves of 12 tons of old electronics. Autumn Cole, a 2011
graduate of Valparaiso High School, is named Porter County Fair Queen.
Report: the notoriously flood-prone intersection of East State Park Road and
Beverly Drive in Beverly Shores is to get a fix. U.S. Steel Corporation
reports a net income in the second quarter of $222 million or $1.33 per
share. The Chesterton Fire Department makes a case to the Town Council for
providing its own ambulance service, with an estimated up-front cost of
$231,187 and an annual cost of $334,960; the CFD says such a service has the
potential to pay for itself and to make a surplus revenue of
ArcelorMittal reports a net income in the second quarter of $1.535 billion
or 99 cents per share. The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce honors
Linda Ramsey with the Duneland Distinguished Woman Award; Alice Perney, the
Gold Achievement Award; Janice Custer and Sue Edds, Volunteers of the Year;
and Bonnie Trout, the Putting Duneland on the Map Award.
The 53rd annual Chesterton Art Fair is held in Hawthorne Park in Porter. The
Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce imagines a “Swipe and Bike” program,
in which riders of the South Shore commuter line could rent bikes at Dune
Park Station with a swipe of their debit card. The Duneland Education
Foundation holds its second annual Derby Downs at Sunset Hill Farm Park.
NiSource Inc. reports a net income in the second quarter of $38.9 million or
14 cents ($28.1 million or 10 cents year-ago). U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky,
D-1st, votes against the House debt bill, saying it “defers discussions we
should have today until tomorrow.” Jaclyn O’Connor is the recipient of the
Duneland Exchange Club’s 11th annual Accepting the Challenge of Excellence
(ACE) Award. A new Smart 911 system goes into operation; subscribers provide
a data base with pertinent information about their homes—location of
bedrooms, utility shut-offs, residents with special issues—which first
responders can access in an emergency.
Porter County Council President Dan Whitten discovers 80 cats in an
un-air-conditioned room while visiting the Porter County Animal Shelter.
Porter County Sheriff’s Police Officer Justin Reeder is honored for heroism
after rescuing a Washington Township resident from his burning home. Porter
and Chesterton firefighters join an hours’ long search for a boater presumed
lost on Lake Michigan; he’s subsequently found safe on shore. The Chesterton
Fire Department holds its 10th annual Street Dance.
Porter hospital officials give the press a tour of the new facility under
construction at the northwest intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and Ind. 49.
Sydney Klikus, 22, of Chesterton, dies in a one vehicle crash on North
Calumet Ave. in Center Township. The result of the Democratic caucus in
Burns Harbor (all Republican candidates are running unopposed for
nomination): challengers Gene Weibl and Gregory Miller are nominated for the
two at-large seats on the Town Council; incumbent James McGee is nominated
for the 2nd District seat on the council; Eric Hull is nominated for the 3rd
District seat on the council.
Chesterton and Porter firefighters participate in the rescue of four persons
from battering waves at Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk in Indiana Dunes
National Lakeshore. The C.R. England trucking company offers to pay half of
the estimated $1.2-million cost of rebuilding Tech Drive in Burns Harbor.
The Burns Harbor Town Council tables a proposed 10-year extension of
ArcelorMittal’s tax abatement until the new council is elected and seated.
Shriners’ Hospital Day is held at Thomas Centennial Park.
Constantine Dillon, superintendent of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore,
holds his annual meet-and-greet Q/A at the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor
Center in Porter. The Porter County Commissioners name John Jokantas the new
E911 Director. Porter hospital officials intimate that they want the
taxpayer-subsidy for ambulance service returned to the pre-Bethlehem Steel
bankruptcy level of $1 million, up from the current $500,000. Responding to
problems at the Animal Shelter, the Porter County Commissioners decide to
resurrect two separate eight-seat advisory boards to assist in running the
Animal Shelter and Animal Control.
BHFD Chief Bill Arney presents a plan to the Town Council for offering
advanced life-support ambulance service; currently the BHFD offers basic
life-support service. Report: the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor posted the
largest increase in international cargo of all Great Lakes ports in the 2010
navigation season, earning the prestigious Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award
from the U.S. Department of Transportation. Wagner’s Ribs and Signature
Graphics win the Porter Branding Leadership Team’s Adirondack chair contest.
United Steelworkers Local 6787 reports the first quarterly profit-sharing
since 2008. Indiana State Excise Police raid the Shore General Store—“also
known as the Boat Club Speakeasy”—at 2. W. Dunes Highway in Beverly Shores.
The Kelly Miller Circus brings back the fun with two performances at Dogwood
Park benefiting the Chesterton Fire Department.
Wayne Hernstrom, 48, of Chesterton, dies in a two vehicle crash on U.S.
Highway 20 in Gary. The Duneland School Corporation’s 2011-12 school year
begins. Britni Morrison, 29, of Indianapolis, is reportedly high on bath
salts when she leads Duneland police officers on a wild pursuit up Ind. 49
and into Indiana Dunes State Park. The Porter Redevelopment Commission votes
to purchase additional capacity from the Chesterton wastewater treatment
plant for $197,400.
National Geographic picks Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as one of the
Top 10 “Urban Escapes” in the country. Aarion Teri Lee Mosely, 16, of Gary,
is charged as an adult with the rape of a 69-year-old woman at the South
Shore commuter line’s Miller passenger depot. The Chesterton Art Center and
local businesses sponsor ARTour 2011.
The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce holds its annual Party in the
Park at Thomas Centennial Park. The Body of Rayan Sami A. Bokhari, 23, of
Saudi Arabia, is found 24 hours after he went missing while swimming at
Porter Beach at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore; officials say that he and
a group of friends originally went to Indiana Dunes State Park but found it
closed to swimming because of 10- to 12-foot waves, so walked to the
unguarded Porter Beach.
The Duneland School Corporation earns an A grade (“exemplary”) from the
Indiana Department of Education, up from a B grade (“commendable”); the
Valparaiso School Corporation and the Discovery Charter School earn B
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans against the War hold a dialogue for peace at
the Library Service Center. The Taste of Duneland is held at Thomas
Centennial Park. Shift Change bartender Sheri Jania, 45, is dragged 1.2
miles to her death on U.S. Highway 20, beneath a car police say was driven
by James Lohman III, 49; Lohman is charged with reckless homicide, OWI-causing
death, and leaving the scene of an accident-causing death.
The Porter County Commissioners name seven to a revived Animal Control
Advisory Board and approve the expenditure of $13,000 for the purchase of
HVAC equipment for the Animal Shelter and for the services of a professional
fundraiser, tasked with determining how much money could be raised for the
construction of a new facility. Beverly Shores Town Marshal Richard Landis,
51, dies. Eighteen-thousand metric tons of hot-rolled coils manufactured by
ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor facility are loaded at the Port of Indiana for
shipment to Macedonia, the first substantial such shipment since 2008.
Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris reports 10 suspected or confirmed
heroin-related deaths over the first eight months of the year. Duneland
first responders—police officers, firefighters, and EMS
personnel—commemorate 9/11 at a ceremony at the Coffee Creek Watershed
Preserve. CPD K-9 Jop is diagnosed with arthritis and is retired to live
with handler Officer Erik Herbert; the adoption fee is generously paid by
Greg and Nanette Ames of Valparaiso.
The Duneland Resale Shop celebrates two years at its new location, 801
Broadway, former home of WiseWay Foods. Elliott Tailford, 27, of Porter, is
sentenced to eight years in the Indiana Department of Correction after
pleading guilty to disarming a law enforcement officer and resisting, in
connection with an incident in 2009 which left PCSP Officer Roger Bowles
with a broken ankle. The U.S. Department of Labor and United Steelworkers
Local 1014 settle a lawsuit over the local’s April 2009 election of
officers, in which DOL alleged that incumbents conducted fundraising
activities at the plant; under the settlement, Local 1014 admits no
wrongdoing and DOL permits the results of the 2009 election to stand, but
DOL will monitor the next election, to be held before May 2012.
Lana Bevil, 63, dies in a fire in her duplex at 910 Portage Ave. in Porter;
the cause of the fire is suspected to be the electrical malfunction of a
lamp or the careless use of smoking materials. The 30th annual Wizard of Oz
Festival is held in Downtown Chesterton. Denise Starkey, assistant general
counsel in NiSource’s legal department, answers questions from Chesterton
officials about the future of Coffee Creek Center, after the failure of the
Lake Erie Land Company’s 2006 joint partnership with Illinois developer
The body of Amanda Bach, 19, of Portage, is found in brush near the Canadian
National right-of-way in Union Township; Dustin McCowan, 18, of Union
Township, is charged with her murder; an autopsy determines the cause of
death to have been a single gunshot wound to the throat. Steven W. Smith,
55, of Liberty Township, is killed in a two vehicle accident at the
intersection of Ind. 49 and C.R. 600N. Michael Scheiber, director of CHS
Bands and chair of the Music Department, assumes the presidency of the
Indiana State School Music Association for academic year 2011-12.
The Town of Chesterton is one of 13 municipalities in Northwest Indiana to
be awarded a free THINK City electric car, under a program funded by
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act moneys. The CHS Trojan Guard places
first at the Falcon Festival of Bands at Wheaton North High School in
Wheaton, Ill. Donald M. Crouse, 45, dies a week after being shot in the
Porter home of his ex-wife, Beverly Therese Mitchell, 44; Mitchell, who
tells investigators she was defending herself, is charged with felony
The Porter County Sheriff’s Police conducts an extensive ground and water
search for evidence in the Amanda Bach murder case. A revitalized Porter
County Animal Shelter re-opens, after a week’s closure for innovations. WPL
Assistant Director Jane Walsh-Brown is presented with the Indiana Library
Federation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Report: the two biggest obstacles
to granting raises to Porter County employees are the soaring price of
health care and a $2 million deficit in the E911 program.
The Northern Indiana Historical Power Association holds its annual Fall
Harvest Festival at Sunset Hill Farm Park. CNN reports allegations of child
abuse at Fairhaven Academy in an installment of a series entitled “Ungodly
Discipline.” Michael Pasternak Jr., 24, of Gary, is shot to death while
mowing a lawn in Hebron; investigators speculate that he may have been hit
by a stray bullet fired from fields or woods near the neighborhood.
Report by the National Parks Conservation Association: Indiana Dunes
National Lakeshore needs to be more accessible to folks who live in Chicago,
needs to be embraced by locals as an amenity and resource, and needs to come
to terms with climate change, in order to remain viable in the 21st century.
Three former employees in Porter County Clerk Karen Martin’s office—Margaret
Hammond, Kathleen Tabor, and Diana Kesel—file a discrimination complaint
with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging that they
were terminated or forced to leave “based upon ongoing harassment and/or
false allegations.” The 713th Engineer Company of the Indiana National
Guard, headquartered in Valparaiso, is deployed to Afghanistan. High winds
topple trees in Duneland, while vicious waves cause erosion of Porter Beach.
“He didn’t hesitate”: the death on Sept. 28 of Spc. James A. Butz, U.S.
Army, a combat medic with the 82nd Airborne Division, is reported by the
Chesterton Tribune; Butz, a Porter resident and a 2009 CHS graduate, was
killed by an improvised explosive device while rushing to the aid of two
Marines hit by a previous detonation; all three men perish; CHS Trojan Coach
John Snyder remembers Butz as a football player who “played bigger than he
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District officials take under
advisement a proposal to close the South Shore commuter line stations at the
Gary Metro Center and Miller and build a new $37.4 million station midway
between the two locations. The Duneland School Corporation reports an
official drop of 41.5 students in the 2011-12 academic year—bringing the
tentative total of enrolled students to 5,700.5—compared to a drop of 126
students in the 2010-11 academic year.
Porter County Council members Jim Biggs, Jim Polarek, and Dan Whitten clash
with Porter County Commissioner John Evans over how to use a significant
surplus to address a growing list of capital and operational expenses. The
Porter County Council grants the Memorial Opera House an additional $100,000
for new hires but Director Brian Schafer is given a year to solidify the
Opera House’s position. WPL Assistant Director Jane Walsh-Brown’s “My
Favorite Things: A Retirement Exhibit” opens at the Westchester Township
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor objects on all counts to
Indiana-American Water Company’s petition before the Indiana Utility
Regulatory Commission seeking a 6-percent rate hike; the OUCC maintains
instead that IAWC’s operating revenues should be decreased by $8.02
million. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management says that
additional soil samples are needed to determine the extent of contamination
at the Brickyard site in Porter. Michael T. Wilson, who substitute-taught in
the Duneland School Corporation, is sentenced to 17.5 years in federal
prison after pleading guilty to charges of distributing and possessing child
Hundreds gather along the route from the Porter County Regional Airport—up
Ind. 49 through Porter to White-Love Funeral Home in Chesterton—to welcome
home, honor, and mourn Spc. James A. Butz, who died a hero in Afghanistan.
Report: Walgreen’s Pharmacy is likely to leave Express Scripts, network
manager for Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, when its contract expires on
Dec. 31. Spc. James A. Butz is laid to rest with military honors at
NIPSCO projects lower natural-gas costs during the 2011-12 winter heating
season. The Porter County Sheriff’s Police investigates a rash of daytime
burglaries in Pine Township. Joseph Campbell, 37, of Elkhart, is sentenced
to 10 years in federal prison, after he admitted trying to rob the
Chesterton branch of Chase Bank and successfully robbing 11 other banks
elsewhere. The 10th annual Community Prayer Breakfast is held at Trinity
Hall at St. Patrick Catholic Church; the keynote speaker is Dave Mitchell,
news anchor for WBBM (CBS News Radio) and WMBI (Moody Bible Institute).
The Born Learning Trail opens in Dogwood Park, in conjunction with the
United Way’s Success by 6 program and the Chesterton Park Board. Sally
Fowler of Jackson Township is awarded the Girl Scout Gold Award, the most
prestigious national honor of the Girl Scouts of USA. The Porter County
Council grants the Animal Shelter a $90,000 increase in its 2012 budget.
John R. Larsen, favorite son of Porter and former State Senator, dies at 68.
Chesterton Tribune reporter Kevin Nevers racks up his 300th bird in
the State of Indiana, with a Harris’ Sparrow first located in the Kemil Road
parking lot in Beverly Shores by Brendan Grube and later reported by Ken
Brock. The Occupy Chesterton movement rallies in Thomas Centennial Park. The
Westchester Medical Closet moves to the Duneland Resale Shop.
After seven public meetings—including a five-hour marathon session—the
Porter County Council split-votes to approve a $39.5-million 2012 budget,
roughly $1 million more than recommended by the average-year growth formula.
The CHS Trojan Guard advances to semi-state competition. U.S. Rep. Pete
Visclosky, D-1st, joins unions in Gary to tout a 21st century jobs plan
calling for renewable energy and school modernization, among other things.
High winds once again buffet Duneland, threatening additional beach erosion
and toppling trees onto two houses. Fire causes $250,000 in damage to a home
in the 2400 block of Iowa Street in Chesterton; the blaze is ruled
accidental but the cause remains undetermined. The Chesterton Advisory Plan
Commission unanimously endorses amendments to the planned unit development
ordinance governing Indian Oak, requested by the developers of a Holiday Inn
A sewer main fails on West Morgan Ave. west of 15th Street, forcing the
closure of 15th Street between Broadway and West Porter Ave. The body of a
woman found at Indiana Dunes State Park beach is positively identified as
that of Roxanne Shah, 47, of Indianapolis, who went missing at Mt. Baldy in
February; Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris rules her death by drowning a
suicide. Ground is broken for the Addison Pointe Health and Rehabilitation
Center on Dickinson Road in Chesterton.
The second-story deck at 135 S. Calumet Road in Chesterton collapses during
a Halloween party, injuring several people; Chesterton Police report that
between 20 and 30 guests were jumping up and down on the deck at the time of
the collapse; Kenneth J. Allen, attorney for one of the injured, Caitlin
Scott, obtains a restraining order preventing the removal of debris, in
advance of possible legal action. U.S. Steel reports a net income in the
third quarter of $22 million or 15 cents per share.
Fire causes $80,000 in damage to a home in the 200 block of South 11th
Street in Chesterton. INDOT approves an Ind. 49 corridor feasibility study
as part of the Gateway to the Dunes project; that study recommends the
construction of a roundabout on Ind. 49 at a new intersection north of
Oakhill Road. Community Health System Inc., owner of Porter hospital,
reports a net income in the third quarter of $74.3 million or 83 cents per
share. NiSource Inc. reports a net income in the third quarter of $34.7
million or 12 cents per share ($33.2 million or 12 cents year-ago).
The Porter County Council undoes six weeks of work by flat-lining the
county’s 2012 budget at 2011 levels. A fire causes $10,000 in damage to a
home in the 400 block of Burdick Road in Jackson Township; the Liberty
Township Volunteer Fire Department calls the blaze “suspicious.” A federal
jury in Hammond awards $2,000 in medical expenses to Portage resident Frank
McAllister, who had sued Burns Harbor Town Marshal Jerry Price; McAllister,
a diabetic, alleged that Price injured him by using excessive force in
removing him from his vehicle following an accident in 2007.
Daniel J. Watt, 23, of Chesterton, is charged with operating while
intoxicated after Chesterton Police say he crashed his vehicle into the
front of Byron’s Barber Shop at 121 S. Calumet Road in the Downtown. Fire
destroys the old Olson Farmhouse at East Porter Ave. and 250E; the CFD later
calls the fire “suspicious.”
The Porter County Commissioners approve the expenditure of $3,815 for a new
metal detector and $17,442 for a new x-ray machine for use by courthouse
security. Matthew Parks, 29, of Porter, is found guilty of child molesting
and faces a sentence of up to eight years. ArcelorMittal reports a net
income in the third quarter of $659 million or 43 cents per share but cites
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission authorizes the Damon Run
Conservancy District to provide sanitary sewer service to Porter hospital’s
new facility at U.S. Highway 6 and Ind. 49, over the Town of Chesterton’s
objections. Chesterton and Porter County officials meet to discuss the
possibility of a partnership in the development of the Ind. 49 utility
corridor. The Memorial Opera House opens a new film series, the first
non-live event at the facility in years.
Fire destroys a home in the 400 block of Waverly Road in Porter; the PFD
calls it a total loss of $250,000. The body of Mitchell Fajman, 18, of
Channahon, Ill., is found at Central Ave. Beach in Beverly Shores, after his
kayak capsized in the New Buffalo, Mich., marina in October. The victim of a
reported rape at the South Shore commuter line’s Miller passenger depot
files a tort claim against the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation
District, for “negligently and carelessly failing to take any action
whatsoever to stop or prevent the sexual attack/robbery.” The Duneland
School Corporation reports that for the first time in 19 years, in the
2010-11 academic year, the number of students facing expulsion declined, to
74 from 87 in 2009-10.
The results of the municipal election: the Democrats sweep in Porter, with
Elka Nelson beating incumbent Trevin Fowler for the 4th District seat on the
Town Council, Greg Stinson beating incumbent Michele Bollinger for the 5th
District seat, and William Cantrell beating Kenneth Timm for the open 1st
District seat; in Burns Harbor, Jeffrey Freeze (R) beats Eric Hull (D) for
the open 3rd District seat on the Town Council, Democrats Gregory Miller (D)
and Gene Weibl (D) beat Jack Given (R) and Rick Hummel (R) for the open
at-large seats, and incumbent Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan (D) beats Beverly
Sutton (R); in Chesterton, incumbent Nick Walding (R) beats Brian Mulholland
(D) to retain his 3rd District seat.
Ashley Burbee, 19, of Portage, dies in a two vehicle accident on Ind. 49 in
Liberty Township. The Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club holds its annual
Veterans Day program; the guest speaker, Episcopalian Bishop Francis Gray, a
veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps and a Japanese POW internee, issues a call
for service. The Burns Harbor Town Council wants to know why Porter County’s
compost site in Valparaiso turned away municipal dump trucks hauling leaves.
WPL Assistant Director Jane Walsh-Brown is to receive the Hubert Hawkins
History Award from the Indiana Historical Society. Chesterton Street
Commissioner John Schnadenberg is honored by the Police Commission for his
quarter century of service with the CPD Reserves. Report: NIPSCO plans to
spend $5 billion in the next 10 years on electrical system upgrades.
The Chesterton Town Council awards the next three-year refuse and recycling
contract to Able Disposal: under the contract, all households will receive
at no charge two 95-gallon roll-away cans but pay less for garbage
collection than they are right now. Munchkin Karl Slover dies at 93, only a
few months after appearing at this year’s Wizard of Oz Festival. The Porter
County Commissioners approve a five-year, $3.8 million contract with Porter
Health Systems for ambulance service; that amount is reportedly $1.2 million
less than what the hospital was originally seeking.
The Porter Park Board decides to flood part of Hawthorne Park this winter
for an ice skating rink. Porter County Animal Shelter Director Kristine
Montgomery resigns after only three months on the job. Gabe Rocha, 53, a
salaried employee at ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor facility, dies at Loyola
University Medical Center after being badly burned in October at the No. 2
basic oxygen furnace. Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa denies bond to
Dustin McCowan, charged with the murder in September of Amanda Bach.
The Porter County Animal Shelter is closed to eradicate a parvovirus found
in several dogs there. Chesterton Police investigate a spray-paint vandalism
spree in the old part of town. Chesterton Police investigate the robbery by
a white male subject of the Speedway gas station at 459 N. Calumet Road.
Indiana House Speaker Republican Brian Bosma says that passage of “right to
work” legislation will be his top priority in the 2012 legislative session.
WDSO celebrates its 35th year broadcasting from CHS. Michael Clemens of Boy
Scout Troop 908, sponsored by St. John’s United Church, earns the rank of
The Westchester Neighbors Food Pantry reports an increasing need in the
community; when established in 1980, it served 30 to 40 people; at its most
recent distribution, it served more than 200. Unions pack the Indiana
Statehouse to protest proposed “right to work” legislation. The Porter
County Council split-votes to authorize $250,000 for the renovation of the
Memorial Opera House.
The Chesterton Town Council approves the use of the town hall meeting room
as an early-voting satellite center in the 2012 primary and general
elections. Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder announces that he will review
more than 6,000 parcels to ensure that they’re in compliance with state
regulations on tax breaks and exemptions, after the Porter County Tax
Assessment Board of Appeals indicated that there could be inequities in the
application of tax-exempt status.
The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission formally decides that, at such time
as the Dickinson Road extension is built, it will cross the Norfolk Southern
railroad tracks by way of Council Drive. Patricia Watson, 69, the victim of
a reported rape in August at the South Shore commuter line’s Miller
passenger depot, is struck and killed by a hit-and-run motorist while
crossing Broadway in Gary.
Chamber of Commerce holds its annual Mistletoe Market at Westchester
Intermediate School. Randy Doler installs his Civil War-era Christmas
collection at the Hageman Branch of the Westchester Public Library. Porter
County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, announces that the county is in
talks with Opportunity Enterprises about partnering to run the Animal
Report: Town of
Porter Democrats outspent their Republican opponents in their recent sweep,
in the most expensive municipal election in Duneland. April Lynn Kuchta, 17,
of Valparaiso, is sentenced to four years in the Indiana Department of
Correction after pleading guilty to charges of criminal confinement and
intimidation; VPD say that Kuchta handcuffed a special needs boy and
threatened him with a knife; the most serious charge, a Class A felony,
criminal deviate conduct, is dismissed as part of the plea agreement.
County Sheriff’s Police and the Chesterton Police Department—two members of
the Porter County Enforcement Team—begin federally funded drug-interdiction
operations on I-94 and the Indiana Toll Road, after Porter County officially
became part of the Lake County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area in the
summer. The 39th annual Madrigal Dinner is held at CHS.
An old Chicago
Northwestern railroad box car is sited at Riley’s Roadhouse at 123 N. Fourth
St.—the old New York Central freight depot—to be converted into a pair of
guest rooms at the railroad-themed bed and breakfast. Report: Duneland
School Corporation employees will pay a 6-percent increase in their health
insurance premiums in 2012. The Chesterton Tribune takes flak for
running a photo of Ron Santo in a White Sox uniform, after his induction in
the Hall of Fame.
School Board schedules two public meetings—on Jan. 11 and Jan. 16—to explain
why school funding has decreased dramatically and to take input on whether
programs should be cut or new revenue sources explored. The Porter County
Council and Commissioners hold a standing-room only meeting to discuss
possible solutions to the problems plaguing the Animal Shelter. Chesterton
Town Manager Bernie Doyle remembers his time as chief of operations at the
USS Arizona Memorial, in observance of Pearl Harbor Day.
Delta Theta Tau
holds a chili supper fundraiser to help the family of 5-year-old Phoenix
Bridgegroom, diagnosed with leukemia in October. Dustin McCowan, the accused
murderer of Amanda Bach, and eight other inmates of the Porter County Jail
file a federal complaint against PCJ over the restriction of privileges.
Court of Appeals finds nothing “egregious” in the hit-and-run death of
Valparaiso highway worker Christopher Jenkins in March 2010; in a 2-1
ruling, the court reduces the sentence of the admitted driver, Robert
Shannon, from six years to four years. Report: Allegiant will fly non-stop
service to Orlando, Fla., from the Gary/Chicago International Airport.
Report: the Izaak Walton League purchases 20 acres of land, including half a
mile of the Little Calumet River, upstream from Indiana Dunes National
Lakeshore’s Heron Rookery and adjacent to a new state gamebird habitat in
Stormwater Management Board approves an issue of up to $1 million in bonds
to finance a raft of drainage projects; two days later, $880,000 in bonds
are sold; the board says that the issue will not impact the stormwater
property-tax rate. The Read Dunes House—one of the last remaining sites
where conservationists met to strategize the creation of Indiana Dunes
National Lakeshore—is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
specialists, business leaders, and legislators attend the official opening
of a new health-care clinic operated jointly by Porter-Starke Services and
HealthLinc Inc.; the facility provides both mental and medical treatment
services. Burns Harbor Town Marshal Jerry Price announces his retirement,
effective Jan. 31, after 28 years of service. The Porter Town Council
borrows $1.5 million from the Indiana Bond Bank to cover a shortfall in
future operating expenses; in the past, the council has borrowed from the
Porter Redevelopment Commission, but that option was closed by a successful
property-tax appeal earlier in the year by Worthington Steel.
Tourism officials announce that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources
has a plan to develop a year-round restaurant and meeting venue at the
Pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park. After a month of inactivity, the blue
spray-paint vandal strikes multiple times in the old part of Chesterton. The
Porter County Election Board takes under advisement Burns Harbor
Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan’s complaint against Town Marshal Jerry Price;
Jordan alleges that Price, who voted in the municipal election on Nov. 8 at
the Burns Harbor Town Complex, should have voted in Portage Township.
Commissioner John Evans, R-North, announces the creation of a countywide
“cabinet” dedicated to economic development. The State Board of Accounts
questions the propriety of the Town of Chesterton’s use of $750,000 in Major
Moves money for construction of the 15th Street municipal facility; SBOA
doesn’t bother, however, to read Associate Town Attorney Chuck Parkinson’s
detailed response to its report.
Mayor-elect Jon Snyder taps Cpl. Troy Williams, the PPD’s long-time school
resource officer, as his Chief of Police. A fire causes $105,000 in damage
to a home in the 300 block of Ballensile Court in the Village of Sand Creek.
The Porter County Commissioners vote 2-1 to authorize the first expenditure
of interest money on the sale of Porter hospital, $270,000 for Opportunity
Enterprises, the Family and Youth Bureau of Porter County, and one other
not-for-profit; Carole Knoblock, D-South, votes against the motion.
Ditterline, 39, of Porter Township, pleads guilty to two Class D felonies in
connection with a months’-long BB gun vandalism spree earlier this year in
South County and Valparaiso; he faces a possible maximum prison term of
seven and a half years. Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa postpones the
trial of Amanda Bach’s accused murderer, Dustin McCowan, to Aug. 13.
Utility Regulatory Commission approves a settlement agreement with NIPSCO
under which the average household will pay 4.5 percent more every month for
electric service, a far cry from the original 16.8-percent hike authorized
by the IURC in August 2010 and even from the 7.9-percent hike sought by
NIPSCO in a second rate case.
Elementary, Jackson Elementary, Liberty Intermediate, and Chesterton Middle
schools all earn the Indiana Department of Education’s Four Star School
rating for academic year 2010-11. The LaSalle Council of the Boy Scouts of
America awards Eagle Scout Project of the Year to CHS student Jonathan
Kindmark, for his design and planting of an arboretum at Jackson Elementary
The Centier Bank
branch on Silhavy Road in Valparaiso is robbed by a man implying possession
of a gun. The Porter County Sheriff’s Police investigates a rash of tailgate
thefts in Jackson and Westchester townships. Porter County Coroner Chuck
Harris reports a suspected fatal heroin overdose in a Portage motel,
bringing the total number of confirmed or suspected heroin-related deaths in
2011 to 19, one more than in 2010.
legislators say that the top issue in the 2012 session of the Indiana
General Assembly may be the use of $320 million “found” missing from the
state’s General Fund; so-called “right-to-work” legislation will also be a
hot topic. State Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, announces at a press
conference at United Steelworkers Local 6787 that he will introduce a bill
in the 2012 session which would offer incentives to the manufacture in the
state of wind turbines made from domestic steel.
The Burns Harbor
Town Council appropriates $44,000 to pay a negotiated settlement with Frank
McAllister, ending a five-year dispute over Town Marshal Jerry Price’s
contact with McAllister following a traffic accident; The Pawn King on
Willowcreek Road in Portage is robbed at gunpoint; a shot is fired but no
one is injured.