Chesterton Tribune

Duneland 2009 Year in Review: There's no place like home

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By VICKI URBANIK

and KEVIN NEVERS

Of all the issues that made the news repeatedly and fatiguingly over the course of 2009 in Duneland—the sour economy, late property tax bills, and political warfare over regional development—the top story of the year in Duneland was only 13 minutes in the making.

On Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 7:32 p.m., an EF2 tornado buzzsawed through Chesterton, mauling roofs, windows, and sheds, and shearing trees. Born somewhere south and west of South Park Acres, it blitzed its way to the northeast until finally dying, around 7:45 p.m. somewhere in the Beverly Shores area (or, anecdotally, somewhere over Lake Michigan).

Incredibly no one was seriously injured but damage was horrific, including the blown-off roof of the Goldsborough Gym at Chesterton Middle School and a “catastrophically destroyed” apartment complex on Brown Avenue. Yet the tornado proved to be an uplifting event in more ways than one, as scores of volunteers from Duneland and throughout Porter County—to no one’s surprise—flooded Chesterton to aid in the weeks-long clean-up effort, whose cost in the end exceeded $45,000.

Then, only a month later—ironically, maybe fittingly—a symbolic tornado blew through town, as the resurrected Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival returned triumphantly to the Downtown after going defunct the previous year at its new venue at the Porter County Expo Center. All credit for the success goes to the Duneland Business Initiative Group.

Meanwhile, Dunelanders struggled as the rest of the nation did with a troubled economy which showed few rays of hope. ArcelorMittal, for example, posted a loss of $1.063 billion in the first quarter and announced the indefinite lay off of 978 workers at its Indiana Harbor West facility. The pain continued in the second quarter as ArcelorMittal posted another net loss of $792 million. The steelmaker managed to stem the hemorrhage in the third quarter, however, and post a net income of $900 million.

New in 2009: BioBlitz—a joint effort of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the National Geographic Society—brought national attention to the wonders of the Indiana Dunes, though bad weather dampened the festivities. The new Discovery Charter School won approval from Ball State University to open an environmentally-themed curriculum in Duneland.

The Duneland School Board, meanwhile, proceeded with a $5.85 million addition to its most crowded school, Liberty Elementary. And the Chesterton High School Athletic Hall of Fame held its inaugural ceremony in June.

But for all the change this year, 2009 was also about the status quo. Porter County was once again late with its property tax bills, fueling the frustrations of local government officials who found themselves borrowing more and more to keep afloat. The county’s drug and suicide problems continued at a depressing pace, with 22 people killing themselves in the first half of the year and drug abuse showing no signs of improvement.

But the status quo can be positive, too. Duneland students continued to shine, taking a host of top honors in state and national competitions, while CHS athletes rocked. In February the CHS boys swim team won the state championship in Indianapolis, its second consecutive one, while the CHS girls swim team finished fourth. In the same month CHS wrestler Anthony Quiroz took second place in the 152-pound class at state. In September the CHS girls golf team qualified to compete in state competition, and in October the CHS boys cross country team finished second at state.

And the Duneland Resale Shop continued to grow as a strong charitable force in the community with its re-location in September to the old WiseWay building on Broadway.

In 2009, the community lost a number of leaders: Chesterton Fire Chief Warren “Skip” Highwood, 66; former Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Chief Jim Branham, 61; former Jackson Township Trustee Bill Mathe, 84; former Porter County Clerk and council member John Ruge, 90; and St. Francis Episcopal Church Pastor Father John “Jack” E. Meyer, 65.

The year also welcomed new leaders, from the 44th U.S. President Barack Obama to local officials. Bernie Doyle took the post of Chesterton Town Manager, Mike Orlich of Chesterton Fire Chief, Dave Novak of Chesterton Building Commissioner, Matt Keiser of Porter Director of Engineering and Development, and Randy Skulku of Burns Harbor General Maintainence / Street Supervisor.

The year 2009 also had its share of resignations and terminations. Steve Yagelski resigned as Chesterton Utility Superintendent in January (as did his replacement, James Chris Shank, only days after taking the job in August, “for personal reasons”), while Porter County Parks Superintendent Ed Melendez’ resignation was to take effect by the end of the year. The Porter County Council touched off a storm of political debate with its decision to withdraw from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, while Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Constantine Dillon prompted protests and a petition drive with his decision to remove the animals and end use of Chellberg Farm as a working farm.

Just seven months after moving into its new facility on Canonie Drive, Pathway Family Center closed its adolescent drug treatment program. And with a business history dating back more than 100 years, James Connors Buick announced that it has lost its franchise and will no longer sell Buicks as of Oct. 31, 2010.

Here is the Chesterton Tribune’s annual month-by-month recap of the year for 2009.

January

Porter County Council names Scott McClure its attorney, replacing longtime counsel Dave Hollenbeck. A steering committee created by the Burns Harbor Advisory Plan Commission to update the town’s Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance meets for the first time. Porter County Expo Center Manager John Thorstad resigns.

Report: the unemployment rate in Porter County hit 5.8 percent in November 2008, up from 3.4 percent in the year-ago period. The Indiana General Assembly opens its session faced with the challenge of creating a balanced two-year budget in a struggling economy. Mark J. Easter, 22, of South Haven, is sentenced to 55 years in prison for the beating murder of Christopher J. Janus, 15, also of South Haven, in June 2007, after being found guilty by a jury.

A draft bill proposed by the Indiana State Library and the Indiana Library Federation would mandate the creation of individual county planning committees to prepare a library services plan, the first step in a process some fear would force the consolidation of township library systems with county ones. Report: in 2007 and 2008 sheriff’s sales on foreclosed properties spiked by 59 percent, from 383 in 2006 to 606 in 2008. Antoine Lungs, 34, of Griffith, is killed by a South Shore commuter train at the Porter/Lake County Line Road at-grade crossing after he tries to drive around the lowered gates.

The Chesterton High School speech team takes second place at the 14th annual Hoosier Invitational at Indiana University. Bitter cold and snow sap Dunelanders and lead to a string of crashes on the Indiana Toll Road, two of them fatal: John Liefbrower, 69, of Chesterton, dies in one, then 60 seconds later, less than half a mile away, Paul Shrewsbury, 70, of Elkhart, dies in another. Report: U.S. foreclosure filings increase 81 percent in 2008.

The temperature at 8 a.m. Jan 16 hits -15 with a wind chill of -36, not quite the record low set in 1994 of -21. A surprise lake-effect snowfall adds to the total of 50 inches so far for the season, already a foot or more over the annual average. State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, defends his bill which would create a new charitable community foundation, administered by a county’s council, to which the proceeds of the sale of any county hospital after 2006 would be donated.

Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States. Jennifer Lynn Cook, 35, of Portage, is charged with the murder of Andrew Katzelis, 82, of South Haven, whose shooting death was initially believed to be suicide. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, amends the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act legislation to include an “American Steel First” provision.

Report: global steel production falls 1.2 percent in 2008, down from a record high in 2007. Newly installed Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce President Chuck Parkinson vows to reach out to the towns of Porter and Burns Harbor and to their business communities. Former Chesterton Fire Chief Warren “Skip” Highwood, 66, dies after 46 years in the fire service; Duneland mourns.

U.S. Steel Corporation reports a net income of $308 million in the fourth quarter of 2008 but projects a net loss in the first quarter of 2009. The Chesterton Town Council names Bernie Doyle the new Town Manager. Chesterton Utility Superintendent Steve Yagelski abruptly resigns.

The Chesterton Town Council hears a pitch from the Duneland Business Initiative Group for a resurrected Wizard of Oz Festival in the Downtown. The Indiana Senate Committee on Local Government clears a bill which could lead to the consolidation of township and county library systems. The home owned by Sofianos Hasapis in the Rose Hill Estates subdivision is destroyed by a fire which the Chesterton Fire Department later determines to have be incendiary in origin; Chesterton Police say Hasapis was in Illinois at the time of the fire.

February

Robert Wainwright, 65, of Chesterton, is apprehended in Mexico after he fled the country in 2008 following his conviction in federal court on two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm; Wainwright, a convicted child molester, was taken into custody after being listed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s fugitives website on suspicion of breaking federal environmental law at his waste disposal business in Gary. The Big Snow of 2009 dumps two feet on Duneland; Chesterton Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg, looking like Old Man Winter, is interviewed on The Weather Channel. NiSource reports a weak year in 2008 with a net income of $79 million compared to $321.4 million in 2007.

The CHS boys swim team wins the state championship in Indianapolis, its second consecutive one. The CHS girls swim team finishes fourth at state. CHS wrestler Anthony Quiroz finishes second in the 152-pound class at state.

Nicole Moore, 27, of Liberty Township, is charged with two counts of operating while intoxicated-causing serious bodily injury after police say she was driving drunk when she struck brothers Adam and Aaron Casko as they were riding a moped on U.S. Highway 6, critically injuring Adam, 17. The Chesterton Utility Service Board names Town Engineer Mark O’Dell the Interim Superintendent. The CHS debate team wins the state championship; Lincoln-Douglas competitor Ankur Chawla takes the individual title as do Public Forum competitors Spencer Hadley and Luke Morgan.

Chesterton Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg tells the Town Council that the Street Department is $62,125 over budget for street salt, after the price of salt jumps 117 percent over the previous year; the council releases emergency CEDIT funds to cover the shortfall. Report: the Chesterton Fire Department sets a new annual call record, for the third consecutive year, responding to 1,165 calls in 2008 compared to 1,141 in 2007. Lakeside Wealth Management Group of Chesterton is honored with the 2008 Edge Award by the Indiana Small Business Development Center.

ArcelorMittal reports its first ever quarterly loss of $2.632 billion in the fourth quarter of 2008, as the floor drops out of the global steel market. A winter weather pattern is established in Duneland: frigid weather and heavy snow followed by significant melt and flooding rains. The Porter County Sheriff’s Police is ordered to seize autos and personal property from Luddington Nissan in Burns Harbor by Porter Superior Judge Roger Bradford, after Fifth Third Bank says the Luddington Automotive Group failed to pay two promissory notes under the agreed terms.

Municipalities begin the process of lining up at the federal trough to receive their share of stimulus funding provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. At a town hall meeting in Chesterton State Sen. Karen Talian, D-Ogden Dunes, State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, and State Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, all voice opposition to various pending bills which they say would weaken local control of government with no assurance of tax-money savings. Kathy Borrowdale, 38, of Trail Creek, Ind., dies in a single vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 20 in Westchester Township.

The Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission (PCCRVC) votes to retain, at a cost of $5,000, a consultant to monitor the legislative session after a rumor surfaces that a bill would be introduced forcing the merger of the Porter, Lake, and LaPorte County tourism bureaus. CHS forensics coach Robert Kelly receives his third Diamond Key Coach title from the National Forensics League. Jim Branham, retired chief and life member of the Liberty Township Volunteer and South Haven fire departments and the founder of the Porter County Fire Investigation Strike Team, dies at 61.

ArcelorMittal idles its East Chicago long-carbon facility in a move laying off around 400 members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 1010. U.S. Rep. Visclosky announces the return of $18,000 in campaign contributions made by three men officially listed as associates of Washington, D.C.-based lobbying firm The PMA Group after national media question the three men’s actual relationship to PMA. The Porter County Treasurer’s Office mails the second 2008 property-tax bills, late in February 2009.

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority names Bill Hanna its executive director, replacing Tim Sanders. The Chesterton Town Council names the connector street linking 100E and South Calumet Road, in the South Calumet District, Thanos Road in memory of John and Mark Thanos, the father and son heroes who drowned in September 2008 after jumping into a drainage ditch during the floods to save a boy swept away in the raging waters in the Westchester South subdivision. Porter County Auditor James Kopp receives $10,000 in additional overtime pay for employees preparing the 2009 property-tax bills, bringing total overtime in his office in the year-to-date to $15,000.

Eugene Joseph Jr., 42, of Chesterton, dies in a three vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 421 in LaPorte County. U.S. Rep. Visclosky joins Democrats in a party-line vote in the House to kill a resolution introduced by Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., calling for an investigation into the relationship between earmarks and campaign contributions, after it emerges that Visclosky’s campaign committees received tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from PMA associates and from the associates of companies for which he secured earmarks.

March

The CHS Winter Color Guard takes first place at the Midwest Color Guard Circuit’s Invitational at Lake Park High School in Illinois. Kyle Nathan Witten, 18, of Burns Harbor, is charged with three counts of burglary in connection with the entry of Bob’s Shop, World Wide Wireless, and Peggy Sue’s Diner in Downtown Chesterton; four Duneland juveniles are detained at the Porter County Juvenile Detention Center in connection with the burglaries.

The CHS Japanese Olympiad Team wins the state championship in the fourth-year division and takes second in the second-year division at the Japanese Olympiad of Indiana at Earlham College in Richmond. U.S. Steel concentrates production at Gary Works and two other facilities as it temporarily idles operations at Hamilton Works and Lake Erie Works, in a move laying off 1,500. Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, issues an apology to property taxpayers, after the 2008 bills are finally mailed late in the first quarter of 2009.

An overflow crowd attends a public field hearing before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in Gary to protest NIPSCO’s proposed residential electric rate hike of 15.6 percent. The Burns Harbor Town Council creates a Board of Stormwater Management and a special stormwater taxing district comprised of all property within the town’s corporate limits. The Porter County Park Board agrees to proceed with the master plan for a new park to be developed on 67 acres located in Liberty Township west of Meridian Road, north of the CSX right-of-way, and east of C.R. 50W, on property being acquired over three years at a total cost of $889,000.

U.S. Rep. Visclosky bolts from the Democrats to vote in favor of a resolution calling for an investigation into PMA earmarks and campaign contributions but House Democrats overwhelmingly vote to table the resolution. Heavy rains drench Duneland again, forcing yet another bypass at the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant. Porter County Coroner Vicki Deppe is honored by fellow Democrats for retrieving files from former coroner John Evans, after going to the Indiana Commission on Open Records and the Indiana Public Access Counselor.

The Chesterton Town Council names Mike Orlich the new Fire Chief. The Chesterton Town Council approves a contract with the Duneland Business Initiative Group to hold a resurrected Wizard of Oz Festival in the Downtown in the third weekend of September. The CHS speech team finishes second at the sectional tournament at North Central High School in Indianapolis.

Report: drug deaths increased, suicides decreased in Porter County in 2008. The Duneland School Board announces a snow-day make-up schedule which includes a Saturday in April. The Indiana House passes a resolution honoring the CHS swim team and debate team for their state championships, the second consecutive title for the swim team, the 19th title ever for the debate team.

Porter County extends the deadline to pay property-tax bills by two weeks in response to concerns over unusually large increases in the most recent assessed values for some commercial property. Report: the slumping economy boosts usage of the Westchester Public Library, as year-over-year circulation so far in 2009 has increased by 17 percent. Local 2038 of the International Longshoremen’s Association protests the recent election of officers on the grounds that nominations and voting were not open to the full membership.

Report: the Porter County Sheriff’s Police investigated 17 fatal crashes in 2008, more than in the previous two years combined. The CHS debate team dominates the Northeast NFL District qualifying tournament, taking nine of 12 qualifying slots for the national tournament later in the year in Birmingham, Ala. The CHS financial analyst team of Tommy Peller, Glenn Peterson, George Sanidas, and John Thanos places first at the state contest of the Business Professionals of America; Joshua Kalita takes first place in payroll accounting.

CHS wins the third annual Purdue North Central-Porter County Academic Super Bowl Invitational. CHS eighth-grader Allie McAloon finishes second at the regional Northwest Indiana Scripps National Spelling Bee, becoming an alternate at the National Bee in Washington, D.C. The St. Patrick Catholic School Science Olympiad Teams compete at the state Science Olympiad in Indianapolis.

Report: the Porter County Sheriff’s Police participated in 1,038 evictions in 2008, an increase of 23 percent over 2007, while executions—court-ordered seizures of property in the case of default—skyrocketed to 33, from only one in the previous year. Report: Porter County students self-report higher than the state average drug use. The CHS speech team takes second place at the state tournament in Indianapolis.

April

The PCCRVC awards a $3,000 grant to the resurrected Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival. The CHS Winter Color Guard wins the Midwest Color Guard Circuit’s championship. The Chesterton Tribune celebrates 125 years as Duneland’s hometown community newspaper.

The State Senate Committee on Homeland Security, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs passes an amendment which would create a Northwest Indiana regional transportation district with the authority to impose a tax of up to 0. 25 percent in Porter, Lake, LaPorte, and St. Joseph counties. St. Patrick Catholic School seventh-grader Brendan Mulshine competes at the state Geography Bee championship in Indianapolis. St. Patrick Catholic School middle-schoolers finish 16th out of 26 schools at the Indiana State Science Olympiad in Indianapolis.

The old Jewel/Osco building on Indian Boundary Road is razed to make room for a new emergency department being developed by the Sisters of St. Francis Health Services Inc., operator of Saint Anthony Memorial Health Center in Michigan City. A bail-out bill for Indianapolis sports stadiums—which would double state alcohol taxes—clears a Senate committee.

A public hearing is held on a new Burns Harbor Comprehensive Plan. The CHS Winter Color Guard finishes 20th out of nearly 300 units competing from the U.S., Japan, Canada, and Europe at the Winter Guard International World Finals in Dayton, Ohio. The Porter County Commissioners are divided on whether the county should remain a member of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.

The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance upholds the assessments used in the 2008 property-tax bills but orders the Porter County Assessor’s Office to re-do the tax ratio to be used in the 2009 bills. Porter County Judge Pro Tem James Sarkisian dismisses a lawsuit filed by the Liberty Landowners Association challenging the re-zoning for the new Porter hospital at U.S. Highway 6 and Ind. 49 in Liberty Township, on the grounds that the group lacks legal standing. The Village of Burns Harbor is the first subdivision in the nation to receive a “green” designation from the National Association of Home Builders.

Former Jackson Township trustee William Mathe dies at 84. The Porter County Council votes 4-3 to withdraw the county from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. Dunelanders protest the National Park Service’s decision to cease all farming operations and dispose of remaining animals at Chellberg Farm at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

U.S. Rep. Visclosky says that he will not seek any earmarks in the Fiscal Year 2010 budget for any private or for-profit entities, citing the ongoing federal investigation of The PMA Group. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance defends the most recent assessments, amid complaints from business owners who saw their assessments skyrocket, but does urge property owners to appeal. John Ruge, former Porter County Clerk and Council member, dies at 90.

Porter Building Commissioner Art Elwood says that numerous apparent violations at Splash Down Dunes water park must be corrected before the park may open for the season. Fire destroys the picnic shelter at Fairhaven Baptist Church, with damage estimated at $15,000. Porter County Treasurer James Murphy and Auditor James Kopp say they will defy the Porter County Council’s order to cease payments to the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority; the RDA seeks the State Attorney General’s opinion about the legality of the Porter County Council’s vote.

Report: in March unemployment hit 10.2 percent in Chesterton. The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce supports the Town of Chesterton’s offer to treat the wastewater of Porter hospital’s new facility in Liberty Township. The Porter Park Board votes to allow the Duneland Soccer Club to have a practice field at Hawthorne Park.

ArcelorMittal announces the outage of the No. 4 blast furnace at its Indiana Harbor facility, the only blast furnace currently in operation there, as the company begins to negotiate a layoff minimization plan with USW Local 1011. U.S. Rep. Visclosky secured $501,000 in stimulus funding to support projects at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Town of Chesterton receives its 13th Tree City USA designation.

The Porter County Council adopts a resolution in support of the Dunes Kankakee Trail. Liberty Township resident Lee Gast, 26, dies in a one vehicle accident in the area of Meridian Road and C.R. 700N in Liberty Township. Local municipalities fight to keep Porter County in the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.

U.S. Steel posts a net loss of $439 million in the first quarter of 2009. U.S. Steel gets set to re-start the No. 14 blast furnace at Gary Works and recall temporarily laid-off workers. ArcelorMittal posts a net loss of $1.063 billion in the first quarter of 2009. The Porter County Council retains an attorney to defend its vote to withdraw the county from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.

May

Indiana-American Water Company petitions the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for a rate increase of nearly 29 percent, in what would be if approved its fifth rate hike in seven years. NiSource reports a net income of $148.4 million in the first quarter of 2009. The CHS Symphonic Orchestra qualifies for state competition.

Porter Town Council names Matt Keiser its Director of Engineering and Development. The CHS Wind Ensemble earns a Group I Gold Division rating in competition at Warsaw Community High School. The National Park Service holds a forum on the future of Chellberg Farm at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore; a consensus emerges to enlist volunteers, craft a plan, raise donations, and save the farm.

USW Locals 12775 and 13796 ratify a new five-year collective bargaining agreement with NIPSCO. The Burns Harbor Town Council adopts the new Comprehensive Plan, although two minor amendments force the document’s return to the Advisory Plan Commission. The Liberty Landowners Association appeals the ruling of a Porter County court that the group lacks standing to challenge the re-zoning of the site of the new Porter hospital.

Ground breaks on a new skate park at the terminus of the Prairie Duneland Trail at 15th Street and Broadway. CHS graduate Matthew Christensen marches with the world champion Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps. The Town of Chesterton contributes $5,000 to the community fireworks extravaganza to celebrate Independence Day spearheaded by the Town of Porter and planned for Indiana Dunes State Park.

CHS senior Kevin Kokesh is named Duneland Exchange Club Student of the Year. ArcelorMittal announces the indefinite lay off of 978 workers at its Indiana Harbor West facility. The Duneland Masters 1,650-yard team places third in the nation. A charter school is proposed for Duneland; it would emphasize environmental education and initially serve grades K through 6.

The Burns Harbor Town Council orders the demolition of the Standard Oil Plaza on U.S. Highway 20. Deborah Parlock, 53, operator of a day-care facility in Liberty Township, is charged with battery resulting in the death of a person younger than 14 in connection with the death of Chesterton-area infant Nicholas Munden. The Duneland Exchange Club honors CHS senior Jonathan Mesich with its Accepting the Challenge of Excellence Award.

The Discovery Charter School would provide a tax-funded environment-themed curriculum, backers say. Report: the Westchester Public Library ranks 13th of all 238 public libraries in Indiana and 406th of all 7,115 in the nation. PCSP Sgt. Tim Emmons receives the department’s Life Saving Award for using an automated external defibrillator to revive Jackson Township resident Keith Lakin, who suffered cardiac arrest in April.

The National Park Service and National Geographic Society bring Bioblitz to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Portage Police seek a man and woman in the fatal shooting of Jeremiah Higgins, 27, in what investigators believe was a case of mistaken identity. The Chesterton Stormwater Utility purchases a slightly used street sweeper for $129,500.

Kouts Clerk-Treasurer Gregory Frame is charged with sexual misconduct with a minor between the ages of 14 and 16. South Shore Commuter Train conductor Gregory Beach is charged with the battery of a passenger; Beach denies all wrongdoing. Liberty Township man Steven Jorden, 18, pleads guilty to the felony murder of Luke Oil clerk Barbara Heckman in December 2008.

Jackson Township resident Hilda Demuth-Lutze, co-author of Plank Road Summer, has a book-signing in Valparaiso. Artist Holly Jackson creates the design for the cover and poster of the 58th annual Chesterton Woman’s Club Art Show. The CFD takes delivery of its new ladder truck, purchased for the contract price of $759,950 and built by Central States Fire Apparatus.

The Town of Chesterton borrows $1 million while it waits for a 2009 property-tax draw. Daniel Winn, 36, of Jackson Township, dies of injuries sustained in a one vehicle accident on U.S. 6 in Jackson Township. The Association of Artists and Craftsmen of Porter County honors Walter Rector.

The Chesterton Town Council enacts an “advanced” curfew more restrictive than state statute. Father John “Jack” E. Meyer, 65, dies; he was parish pastor of St. Francis Episcopal Church in Chesterton. The Porter County Council clashes with Auditor James Kopp over delayed 2009 property-tax bills.

The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce urges Porter County to re-join the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. The European Market begins its 2009 run, to be followed on Saturdays this season by Chesterton Cruise Night, sponsored by the Duneland Business Initiative Group.

The U.S. Department of Justice serves grand-jury subpoenas seeking documents on the campaign committee, the Congressional office, and certain unnamed staffers of U.S. Rep. Visclosky, in connection with its ongoing investigation of The PMA Group.

June

The Portage Township School Board extends its Adult Education program for another year but eyes the possible closure of one or more of its 24 Adult Learning Centers in order to cut costs. The Duneland School Board approves a $5.85 million addition to and renovation of Liberty Elementary School. An alligator is spotted in Pine Lake in LaPorte County.

Nicole Moore, 27, of Liberty Township, pleads guilty to OWI-causing serious bodily injury, after police say that she was driving when she struck a moped being driven on U.S. 6 by Aaron Casko, 15, and his brother, Adam, 17, critically injuring Adam. Ten are named to the inaugural CHS Athletic Hall of Fame: Jenni Anderson, Mike and Maria Bachuchin, Tim Bagby, Warren Canright, Keith Davison, Leonard Eason, Dr. John Forchetti, Larry James, and Steve Wynder. A revised Duneland Schools 2009-10 calendar ends half days.

U.S. Rep. Visclosky confirms the retirement of his chief of staff, Chuck Brimmer. Splash Down Dunes water park owner Paul Childress announces the likely sale or auction of the park at the end of the summer season. The Porter County Commissioners vote 2-1 to approve a legal contract in the dispute over the county’s withdrawal from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority; John Evans, R-North, votes nay.

The Porter County Commission-ers contribute $5,000 to the Duneland community fireworks extravaganza. The 119th CHS commencement is held at the football stadium. The Porter County Park Board proceeds with Phase II of the Liberty Township land acquisition, acquiring 27 acres for $271,000.

Valparaiso resident Alexander Santoyo, 54, dies in a fall at USS Gary Works. All members of USW Local 1014 laid off in the wake of blast furnace troubles at USS Gary Works are called back to work. Best of show at the 58th annual Chesterton Woman’s Club Art Show goes to Robert R. Williams for his pastel “Amanda in Purple.”

The Chesterton Town Council names Dave Novak its Building Commissioner. The Chesterton Town Council agrees to seek stimulus funding for the construction of a second fire station east of Ind. 49. Chesterton artist Mary Ann Pals’ design wins Honorable Mention in the International Association of Pastel Societies’ catalogue cover competition, for her work “Anhinga.”

The Porter County Council says that 2009 property-tax bills could be mailed late in the summer. An on-line petition is posted in support of Chellberg Farm at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Eugene A. Thomas, 80, of Liberty Township, dies in a three vehicle accident in the area of Ind. 49 and C.R. 600N in Center Township.

Former Chesterton Utility superintendent Steve Yagelski reimburses the Utility the $1,728.12 spent for a forensic examination of office computers, conducted after files were found missing following Yagelski’s resignation; in exchange the Utility releases Yagelski from any future litigation or prosecution. The Chesterton-based Flora Richardson Foundation awards a $10,000 grant to IUN students and faculty for a study of beach erosion at Mt. Baldy at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Federal Election Commission rules that U.S. Rep. Visclosky may use campaign funds to defray legal expenses in connection with the ongoing federal investigation of The PMA Group.

190 North, seen on WLS Channel 7, Chicago’s ABC affiliate, shoots a segment in Chesterton. Report: 23 people died of heroin or cocaine overdoses in Porter County in 2008, very nearly double the number who died in 2007. Report: suicides surge in Porter County in the first half of the year, with 22 persons killing themselves compared to 15 in the whole of 2008 and 29 in 2007.

The U.S. Department of Labor agrees to investigate the disputed election of officers conducted in March by Local 2038 of the International Longshoremen’s Association. U.S. Rep. Visclosky secures $1 million in federal funding to install a water line to Good Fellow Lodge at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Report: in May the unemployment rate hit 9.6 percent in Porter County and 10.5 percent in Chesterton.

The CHS speech and debate team wins the Bruno E. Jacob National Award of Excellence at the NFL national tournament in Birmingham, Ala., becoming the first public school ever to win that prestigious award for a third time; junior Tyler Fabbri is a finalist in U.S. Extemporaneous, placing fifth in the nation. The Chesterton Town Council votes to condemn the fire-damaged house at 616 S. Second St., owned by Terry Long. Report: the Duneland School Corporation is projected to lose $168,000 in 2010 due to the state’s new “circuit-breaker” tax caps.

Porter County Auditor James Kopp tells the Porter County Council that the soonest 2009 property-tax bills could be mailed is in October. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Constantine Dillon tells supporters of the Chellberg Farm that he envisions a “Dunes Cultural Heritage Center” which could include the farm in some form. NIPSCO donates $40,000 to the Shirley Heinze Land Trust to purchase 30 acres on the Little Calumet River in Westchester Township.

The 13th annual Scandinavian Midsummer Festival is held on the grounds of the Chellberg Farm at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Stand up For Duneland Schools, a parent group, organizes to fight the proposed Discovery Charter School, on the grounds that public tax dollars should not be used to subsidize those seeking an alternative education for their children.

July

Bruce Guess, 18, of Liberty Township, pleads guilty to the robbery-homicide of Luke Oil clerk Barbara Heckman in December 2008. A total of $1.4 million in federal stimulus funding is earmarked for the restoration of Dunes Creek at Indiana Dunes State Park. Glaziers Local 1165 strikes Trout Glass & Mirror and two other companies in Northwest Indiana.

Florence Dresch and Jim Ruge are named to preside over the Town of Porter’s Independence Day parade. The first annual Duneland community fireworks extravaganza, spearheaded by the Town of Porter, is a booming success, with an estimated attendance at the Indiana Dunes State Park lakefront of 8,500. Ball State University grants approval for the Discovery Charter School less than 24 hours after BSU hosts an informational meeting about the approved school.

Seven months after moving into its new facility on Canonie Drive in the Town of Porter, Pathway Family Center closes its adolescent drug treatment program there; Pathway board member Bob Taylor cites the inability of families to pay for the program. The Chesterton Lions Club holds the 70th annual Turtle Derby in Hawthorne Park as part of the Town of Porter’s Independence Day celebration. The Chesterton Police Department joins the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force.

The Duneland Business Initiative Group holds Bark in the Park at Thomas Centennial Park. The Porter County Health Department temporarily closes Splash Down Dunes under a voluntary agreement; at dispute is whether necessary safety equipment is readily accessible and whether the chlorine level is too high at some rides. USW Local 6787 President Paul Gipson tells ArcelorMittal that his membership will make no further concessions beyond those already negotiated in a layoff minimization plan approved in November 2008.

The Duneland Exchange Club hosts its annual Frog Hunt at Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve. Two boys shoot a 150-pound alligator in Iroquois River in Jasper County. The Chesterton Town Council adopts a resolution urging the National Park Service to re-open Chellberg Farm as a working farm at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Jennifer Lynn Cook, 35, of Portage, pleads guilty to the murder of Andrew Katzelis, 82, of South Haven. The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce holds its 2009 State of the Chamber and Community Awards Luncheon: Dr. Dan Keilman is named Humanitarian of the Year; Jackie Ruge-Perkins, Duneland Distinguished Woman; the New Construction Award goes to The Flower Cart; the Business Renovation Award, to Taco Bell.

The Porter County Fair opens its run at the Fair Grounds and Expo Center. U.S. Rep. Visclosky secures $2 million for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, $500,000 for the Dunes Kankakee Trail. U.S. Steel posts a net loss of $392 million in the second quarter of 2009. The 51st annual Chesterton Art Fair is held at Hawthorne Park. Glaziers Local 1165 settles its strike against Trout Glass & Mirror. ArcelorMittal posts a net loss of $792 million in the second quarter of 2009.

August

The Chesterton Fire Department holds its eighth annual Street Dance. The South Shore Commuter Railroad announces the temporary suspension of service over five weekends in the fall between Gary Metro Center and South Bend, to allow a contractor to string a new overhead electrical catenary system. NiSource posts a net loss of $4.8 million in the second quarter of 2009.

Josephine Darling of Chesterton celebrates her 100th birthday. The Chesterton Utility Service Board names James Chris Shank its new Superintendent. Aaron Blum, 32, of Morgan Township, is found shot to death in the cab of a pickup truck parked in Washington Township; his father, James Blum, 67, also of Morgan Township, is found next to his son, wounded by a gunshot to the chest.

The Northwest Indiana Patriots swarm a town hall meeting on health care reform at the Library Service Center, hosted by the Northwest Indiana Democratic Alliance and featuring guest speaker U.S. Rep. Visclosky. A dispute between Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana and Atlanta, Ga.-based Apollo MD, Porter hospital’s new emergency medicine provider, forces users of the ER to pay higher out-of-pocket costs. Report: former Post-Tribune employees whose customer service jobs were outsourced to overseas are eligible for federal aid.

Chesterton motorcyclist Derek Dodd, 23, is killed is a two vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 30 in Valparaiso. Duneland School Superintendent Dirk Baer blasts Porter County for the property-tax mess at a meeting of the Duneland School Board. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Constantine Dillon tells attendees at a Q/A session that his No. 1 goal is to see the park survive.

The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce holds its fifth annual Party in the Park. The Chesterton Town Council orders the owner of the fire-damaged house at 1500 Maximilian Drive in the Rose Hill Estates subdivision, Sofianos Hasapis, to demolish his home. East Porter Ave. between Ind. 49 and South Calumet Road is closed for the installation of a sanitary force main, part of the upgrade of the Dickinson Road lift station.

Dr. Janet Rowley, a University of Chicago scientist and a longtime resident of Porter Beach, is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her work in cancer chromosome studies. The Burns Harbor Town Council split-votes to name Randy Skalku its General Maintenance/Street Supervisor. Report: the National Park Service plans to demolish the old Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore visitor center at U.S. 12 and Kemil Road; no date for the demolition is set.

Indiana-American Water Company dedicates a new pumping station at 1041N 100E in memory of the late Warren “Skip” Highwood. The Porter County Council rejects the PCCRVC’s proposal to eliminate the $89,100 venue fund from its 2010 budget and shift the money into an expanded grant program and website development. Alysha M. Ramos, 19, is sentenced to three years of home detention after pleading guilty to OWI-causing death, in connection with the crash in June 2008 which killed Alish A. Purnick, 17, of Liberty Township; Ramos was waived into adult court following the crash.

CHS student Jannon Jeffries wins the “Watershed Area” signage design contest sponsored by the Chesterton Stormwater Utility. The Chesterton Utility finalizes the issuance of $5.1 million in sewer revenue bonds to finance an ambitious schedule of capital projects and equipment acquisitions. The Porter County Council faces the fact that projected tax revenues next year won’t come close to covering the cost of the 2010 election, employee health insurance, and police and jail expenses. The Duneland 2009-10 school year begins.

Miraculously no one is seriously injured on Aug. 19 when an EF2 tornado roars through Chesterton. Born at 7:32 p.m. just to the south and west of South Park Acres, and blazing a slicing, hopping, skipping trail of destruction to the northeast before dying 13 minutes later at 7:45 p.m. somewhere in the Beverly Shores area, the tornado uproots scores of trees, opens the roof of Goldsborough Gym at CMS to the sky, and catastrophically damages an apartment complex on Brown Ave. A total of 211 structures are hit: eight of them are destroyed, 52 sustain major damage. The tornado brings out the best in residents and in Chesterton’s neighbors, as police officers, firefighters, and a host of municipal employees from across Porter County converge on the town. Technically the tornado is not a disaster, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security rules, while the Porter County Emergency Management Agency blames the inability of the 911 Dispatch Center to activate the tornado sirens in town on a malfunctioning control panel. Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg puts the preliminary cost of cleanup at upwards of $40,000. A WGN talking head asks Town Manager Bernie Doyle at a news conference what impact the tornado has had on the town; Doyle tells her that the tornado has had a positive impact, proving if anyone were to have needed proof that a strong spirit of volunteerism and community goes to Duneland’s roots. The body of a Miller boater who went missing during the storm is found at Kemil Beach at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

September

WDSO begins its 33rd year of broadcasting at CHS. Christopher Egener, 33, of Chesterton, dies after crashing his motorcycle into the rear of a pickup truck on U.S. 20 in Portage. The Sisters of St. Francis Health Services Inc., which operates Saint Anthony Memorial Health Center in Michigan City, and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana announce a new multi-year contract which maintains in-network benefits for policy holders.

The CHS girls golf team qualifies to compete at the state championship.

NIPSCO announces that it will cut up to 40 salaried, non-union positions, or 2 percent of its workforce of 2,568. The Chesterton Park Board admonishes users of the new skate park to clean up their act and stop littering there. Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford issues an injunction closing Splash Down Dunes water park until owner Paul Childress provides proof of insurance; Childress does in time to open the park for the Labor Day weekend, then closes it for the season and probably forever.

Northwest Indiana environmentalist Lee Botts is inducted into the Indiana Conservation Hall of Fame. Porter Beach artist Stephanie Carnell wins first place in the Illiana Artists 12th regional juried exhibition. The Porter County Health Department plans for a massive H1N1 flu immunization campaign.

Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, suggests that Porter hospital should maintain countywide ambulance service if it wishes to secure a tax abatement for its new facility in Liberty Township. Jennifer Lynn Cook, 35, of Portage, is sentenced to 45 years in prison for the murder of Andrew Katzelis, 82, of South Haven. The tornado cleanup continues: scores of trees are staged at Dogwood and Coffee Creek parks to await chipping.

The Indiana Attorney General’s Office issues a non-binding opinion to the effect that Porter County is mandated to join the Northwest Indiana Redevelopment Authority. Porter County Park Superintendent Ed Melendez resigns. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance says that Porter County cannot reimburse local units for the interest paid under tax anticipation loans.

Local 2038 of the International Longshoremen’s Association agrees to hold a new election of officers supervised by the U.S. Department of Labor, following a challenge of the March election by dissident members. Report: the Dunes Kankakee Trail will pass through Downtown Chesterton. The Duneland Business Initiative Group holds ArTour 2009 in Chesterton.

The Porter County Commissioners unanimously grant a tax abatement to Porter hospital for its new facility in Liberty Township, with three conditions: Porter hospital must continue to provide countywide ambulance service, negotiate an agreement with the construction trades, and pay an annual fee intended to boost redevelopment along the U.S. 6 corridor. The Duneland School Corporation receives $9.6 million in federal stimulus funding for energy efficiency projects at six schools. The Chesterton Town Council enacts an ordinance legalizing the use of golf carts on town roadways.

The Indiana Department of Education reports that Duneland students are mostly above average on ISTEP scores. Robert Wainwright, 65, of Chesterton, is sentenced to 108 months in federal prison after being convicted of two counts of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The CHS Trojan Guard finishes second at its season opener at the Goshen High School Crimson Invitational.

The Wizard of Oz Festival returns to Downtown Chesterton: “It’s like Oz never left town.” The Duneland Harvest Festival is held at Chellberg Farm at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Porter County Council votes 4-2 to deny the request of Auditor James Kopp and Treasurer James Murphy for funds to hire their own attorney in the legal dispute over county membership in the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.

The Duneland Resale Shop opens at its new location, 801 Broadway in Chesterton, formerly home of WiseWay Foods. Steven Jorden, 19, of Liberty Township, is sentenced to 57 years in prison for the felony murder of Luke Oil clerk Barbara Heckman in December 2008. Investors in the failed Dunes Country at Furnessville sue developers Gary Atkinson and Donna Harris, alleging that they were swindled of more than $2.7 million.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District raises adult weekend fares on the South Shore, as ridership in a slumping economy drops by 10.4 percent so far in 2009. Bruce Guess, 19, of Liberty Township, is sentenced to 85 years in prison for the robbery-homicide of Luke Oil clerk Barbara Heckman in December 2008. The Carnegie Hero Fund Commission honors John and Mark Thanos, the father and son who drowned in the floods of September 2008 saving a boy who had been swept away in the raging waters of a drainage ditch in the Westchester South subdivision.

The Chesterton Town Council votes to create a Riverfront Development District in the Downtown in an effort to attract fine dining. The Duneland YMCA is selected for the 2009 Best of Chesterton Award in the Child Day Care Services category by the U.S. Commerce Association. The Liberty Landowners Association loses it appeal of a county court ruling which found that the group does not have standing to challenge a re-zoning for the new Porter hospital facility. Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana and Apollo MD settle their dispute; Apollo maintains despite the settlement that Anthem’s near monopoly allows it to go cheap on the reimbursement of physicians at Porter hospital. Porter hospital reports no medical errors for the second consecutive year. The Burns Harbor BZA votes 3-1, reversing a decision in June, to grant a zoning amendment necessary for ArcelorMittal to expand an on-site solid waste landfill.

The Federal Election Commission rules that U.S. Rep. Visclosky’s staffers may use campaign funds to defray the cost associated with the ongoing federal investigation of The PMA Group. “Nonchalant” hero Colin Ringas, 15, of Chesterton, saves his buddy, Colin Wilson, also 15, from drowning in Lake Michigan off Ogden Dunes Beach. Nine days after his first official day on the job, newly hired Chesterton Utility Superintendent James Chris Shank resigns for “personal reasons”; the Utility Service Board once again names Town Engineer Mark O’Dell its Interim Superintendent.

October

The CHS Trojan Guard wins Gold at the ISSMA district competition. CHS seniors Adam Boatright and Megan Adamczewski are named CHS Homecoming King and Queen. Ken Brock, the dean of birding in Northwest Indiana, is honored by the Indiana Audubon Society with its prestigious Earl Brooks Award, presented annually to those persons who advance conservation of natural resources in the state; birders from around the state converge on the Dunes as the society holds its annual Fall Birding Festival in Chesterton.

“Partnership” is the watchword of the first Northwest Indiana economic development summit at the Sand Creek Country Club. The Porter County Commissioners amend the Unified Development Ordinance to provide a framework for wind farms in the county. CHS Assistant Principal Jeffrey Van Drie is named 2009 District Assistant Principal of the Year for Northwest Indiana by the Indiana Association of School Principals District 1.

Chesterton Town Council Member Jeff Trout, R-2nd, voices his desire to put the Dickinson Road extension project back on the front burner. The intersection of South Calumet Road and 1100N is effectively closed forever as work continues on the South Calumet District project. The Dunes Creek daylighting project enters Phase II at Indiana Dunes State Park.

Rick Hicks, retired chief of the Cypress, Calif., Police Department, is the keynote speaker at the annual Community Prayer Breakfast held at St. Patrick Catholic Church. The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce officially launches its new website, outfitted with a fully functional economic development feature including property listings and zoning, permitting, and ordinance information. The Porter County Plan Commission gives site plan approval to the $5.8 million addition to Liberty Elementary School.

Porter hospital closes on its acquisition of the land at the northwest intersection of U.S. 6 and Ind. 49 in unincorporated Liberty Township for its new $300 million, 225-room hospital. The CHS Trojan Guard wins Gold at the ISSMA Northern Regional competition. Bailly Elementary School students raise $12,000 in the PTO-sponsored “Wild About Reading” read-a-thon.

Chesterton Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg is named Urban Forestry Individual of the Year by the Indiana Urban Forest Council and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. H1N1 flu vaccination clinics begin in the Duneland schools. The Porter Park Board informs the Town Council that security must be hired for the Town of Porter’s Christmas party at the Community Building in Hawthorne Park.

Gloria and Walt Rector are honored with the Patron Award by the Chesterton Art Center. Report: the state unemployment rate dropped in September for the third consecutive month; it also dropped significantly in Porter County and Chesterton. Berglund Construction Company of Chesterton is honored by Building Indiana magazine with the Swanky Award for Best Green Office.

The CHS Trojan Guard ends a successful season at semi-state competition. Chesterton Tribune reporter Vicki Urbanik announces her candidacy for Porter County Auditor in the 2010 election. U.S. Steel reports a net loss of $303 million in the third quarter of 2009. A vaccine shortage forces the re-scheduling of a flu clinic at Bailly Elementary School. The Chesterton Town Council abandons the plan to retrofit the former United Tractor facility at 116 N. 15th St., opting instead to demolish the current building and construct a new one for use as municipal office space and equipment storage.

ArcelorMittal posts a net income of $900 million in the third quarter of 2009. The Porter Redevelopment Commission votes to spend up to $350,000 to buy 31 acres where the historic Beam Street brickyard operated in the early 1900s; the site could be home to a future fire station and possibly up to 193 residential units. The Porter County Council urges voters to reject a regional transportation district in the November referendum.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor wants the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to cut in half a rate hike proposed by Indiana-American Water Company; any rate hike approved would be the fifth in seven years. NiSource posts a net loss of $15.4 million for the third quarter of 2009. Around 2.5 inches of rain forces the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant to bypass; leaves clogging storm drains cause the temporary flooding of local roadways.

The CHS boys cross country team finishes second at the state championship.

November

Edward Ibarra, 21, of Valparaiso, is charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of his mother’s fiancé, Juan Miguel Garcia, 33, also of Valparaiso. Joseph Draus, 32, of Chesterton, is charged with dealing heroin to a minor, after police say he sold it to a 16-year-old girl whom he met at the skate park; police also say Draus introduced the girl to heroin. The Duneland School Corporation reports a 30-percent increase in expulsions in the 2008-09 academic year, attributed to an increase in the number of students with extensive tardies and truancies.

The Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League celebrates its 50th anniversary. Fully 80 percent of voters reject a regional transportation district in a countywide referendum.

NIPSCO announces that it may file a second, brand-new electric rate case in 2010; the IURC has not yet ruled on a pending case in which NIPSCO is seeking a rate hike of 14.34 percent. ArcelorMittal’s East Chicago facility is awarded $31 million in federal stimulus funding for a No. 7 blast furnace gas flare capture project. CHS seniors Daniel Carmody, Jordan Hoover, and Megan Gillespie are named National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists.

The Porter County Treasurer’s Office announces that the 2009 property-tax bills are finally set to be mailed. CHS senior Christian Parroco is one of 1,600 Black American students named as semi-finalists in the annual Achievement Scholarship Competition. Longtime Chesterton BZA Member Jim Kowalski announces that he will resign his seat on Jan. 1 before the expiration of his term.

Jack Connors Buick, tracing its history in Chesterton to 1898, announces that it has lost its franchise and will no longer sell Buicks as of Oct. 31, 2010. The Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club hosts its annual Veterans Day commemoration. Herb and Charlotte Read are honored with the Robert Klawitter Lifetime Achievement Award by the Hoosier Environmental Council.

Report: the Porter County Voter Registration Office says that counters in three precincts—one in Westchester Township, two in Pine Township—inadvertently flipped the results of the regional transportation district referendum, mistakenly reporting that all three precincts supported an RDT. Hudson Evans, 22, of Bloomington, Ill., dies after crashing his car into the Pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park. A 20-year tradition continues at the Chesterton Feed & Garden Center: visit Benny the Turkey.

The Town of Porter wins $1.8 million in funding from the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority as lead agency in the Ind. 49 Lakeshore Gateway Corridor Development Project. More questions are asked than answered at an informational meeting in Burns Harbor on ArcelorMittal’s proposed new landfill. The 11th annual Winter Lights Night is held at Sunset Hill Farm County Park in Liberty Township.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District eyes fare hikes and service cuts as ridership falls, revenues drop, and operating costs rise. Neighbors voice their opposition to a proposed pawn shop on Brown Ave. at a public hearing before the Chesterton BZA. The annual Twilight Christmas Parade ushers in the holiday in Downtown Chesterton. Traci Scott, 33, of Jackson Township, dies in a one vehicle accident on U.S. 6 in Jackson Township.

December

Chesterton United Methodist Women hold the 17th annual Holiday Cookie Walk. A man robs the Super 8 Motel at 418 Council Drive of $112 at knife point. Report: CHS 8th grader Josh DeVries is to tour China with the South Shore Orchestra.

IDEM is grilled at an informational meeting in Burns Harbor over how it has managed solid wastes which have accumulated over the years at ArcelorMittal’s steel mill there. Gov. Mitch Daniels announces $150 million in funding cuts for state colleges and universities as tax revenues continue to plummet. Post-Tribune reporter Karen Snelling, 50, of Chicago, pleads guilty in federal court to embezzling $18,100 from the Gary Newspaper Guild while serving as its treasurer.

Indiana Dunes State Park naturalists report on the results of their first ever Northern Saw-whet Owl banding operation, only the fourth such station in the state: a total of 19 owls was caught, banded, and released. The “Reform Slate” of Local 2038 of the International Longshoremen’s Association romps in the Department of Labor-supervised election of officers: Kensey Alsman elected president, Mike Battista secretary/treasurer, and Jeff Kleefisch business agent; all three were signatories to the complaint filed with the DOL over the March 13 election. Ron Greenfield, 63, of Chesterton, is killed after being struck by flying debris in a plant explosion while stopped at a rest area on I-90 near Belvidere, Ill.

CPD: Michael E. Wade, 57, of Michigan City, a suspect in the Super 8 Motel robbery, is being held at the Hancock County Jail on suspicion of similar robberies in the Indianapolis area. The 15th annual Duneland Community Advent Festival is held at St. Patrick Catholic Church. A temporary building moratorium comes to an end in Porter Beach after the Town Council creates a Lakeshore Preservation District with development standards unique to Porter Beach.

The Chesterton First United Methodist Church raises $1,000 at a chili supper for the Shop with a Cop program run by Fraternal Order of Police Westchester Lodge 152. Mike Anton of Anton Insurance Agency is named 2009 Director of the Year by the Independent Insurance Agents of Indiana. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission orders NIPSCO to achieve annual energy savings of 2 percent by 2019.

The Duneland School Corporation projects a possible budget deficit of $4 million in 2009 in expectation of an 8-percent cut in state operating funds; Superintendent Dirk Baer “absolutely” anticipates staff layoffs. The Porter County Commissioners agree to table the proposal of Commissioner Bob Harper, D-Center—after receiving numerous requests to reconsider—to strip the Tri-Towns, Valparaiso, and Hebron of their appointments to the PCCRVC and make those appointments themselves. USW Local 6787 President Paul Gipson characterizes as a “vicious rumor” a Wall Street Journal report that ArcelorMittal will cut 10,000 jobs in 2010.

Gov. Mitch Daniels says that public school funding will be cut by at least $300 million following a forecast that the state will receive $1.8 billion less in revenues than originally believed. PCSP: Lawrence Hull, 56, dies of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after shooting and wounding his brother, Ronald O. Hull, 69, at a Union Township residence. The Chesterton Utility braces for the long-discussed, long-postponed Downtown sewer replacement and separation project, warns businesses that the two- to three-month project will disrupt traffic on South Calumet Road in the spring, but promises the project to be finished by Memorial Day in time for the summer tourist season.

The Town of Chesterton prepares to get tough with stormwater and refuse and recycling fee deadbeats. The CPD reports the theft of the Baby Jesus from two front-yard Nativity scenes. The Chesterton BZA rejects a petition for a pawnshop at the former home of Childress Industrial Controls at 100 Brown Ave. “I’m dreaming of a sloppy Christmas”: sleet and freezing rain, then rain, then snow make for a bad weather-filled holiday.

Porter County Auditor James Kopps tells the Chesterton Tribune that he will run for re-election in 2010. Report: a 3.5 percent cut in state school funding—nearly $300 million—will be applied evenly to all school corporations; “Any district can find 2 to 3 percent savings without reducing teaching staff,” Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett says; “If everyone, including teachers themselves, will pitch in, we’ll get through this recession just fine.” Horizon Bancorp, the parent company of Horizon Bank, headquartered in Michigan City, signs a definitive agreement to purchase the banking-related assets and assume the deposits and certain liabilities of American Trust & Savings Bank, headquartered in Whiting.

 

Posted 12/30/2009