Valparaiso’s loss is Duneland’s gain.
That’s the big economic-development story of 2012, in a year big on economic
Begin with the official opening, on Aug. 25, of Porter Regional Hospital, at
the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 6 and Ind. 49 in unincorporated Liberty
Township. That facility is widely expected to generate new development in
the area, not only ancillary medical services and physicians’ offices, but
also spin-off commercial.
And indeed, in January the Porter County Board of Zoning Appeals approved
the last in a series of 36 variances requested by the developer of St.
Andrews Medical Campus, a 109-acre mixed-use project on property adjacent to
Then there was the game changer, announced less than two weeks ago: the
relocation of the famously community-minded Urschel Labora-tories Inc. from
Valpo to Coffee Creek Center in Chesterton. In the company’s press release
on Dec. 21, Vice-president Rich Urschel said that the decision to build a
new HQ and plant was prompted chiefly by a lack of available land, following
28 expansions of the facility over 40 years.
Coffee Creek Center, however, has quite a bit of available land and
Urschel’s purchase of 160 acres represents a huge chunk of it. Chesterton
officials have not yet said what incentives, if any, were offered to Urschel.
Nor have they said what amendments to the planned unit development ordinance
might be required before construction may begin, set right now for the
second quarter of 2013. But Urschel’s commitment to its 300 employees and
their convenience—on whom the move from Valpo will have little or no
impact—speaks well of a company which could have moved anywhere yet chose to
set up shop here.
Meanwhile, Porter Regional Hospital was not the only medical center to open
its doors in Duneland this year. In March the Franciscan Alliance formally
dedicated the Chesterton Health & Emergency Center, a 24-hour free-standing
ER department built on the site of the old Jewel/Osco grocery. The $22
million investment is significant for any number of reasons. First, it’s a
redevelopment of a site which had become blighted and a revitalization of
that stretch of Indian Boundary Road. Second, it’s the northern anchor of a
host of medical services which have mushroomed in Chesterton over the last
10 years. Finally, the facility offers cutting-edge emergency medicine to
Dunelanders in their own backyard.
Also opening in Chesterton this year, in November, was the Addison Pointe
Health & Rehabilitation Center on Dickinson Road: a nursing home facility
with 100 skilled beds and 60 private suites for short-term rehab. Town
Manager Bernie Doyle reported to the Town Council late this year that
Addison Pointe appears to be exceeding the number of employees which it
pledged to hire as part of a 10-year tax abatement granted to the developer,
and that a number of those jobs have gone to Chesterton residents.
Chesterton officials are bullish on one last project: the construction,
begun in October, of the Ind. 49 utility corridor. The idea behind that
project: to open up commercial development along Ind. 49 south of the
Indiana Toll Road by installing sanitary sewer, stormwater, water, and fiber
optic infrastructure. And to open up development south of the town’s
corporate limit as well, by upsizing the sanitary line sufficient to treat
customers in unincorporated Liberty Township, thanks to a partnership with
Porter County, which contributed $740,409. Total cost of the project:
In the Town of Porter the name of the game in 2012 was re-development, with
Utah developer Gary Brinton’s plans to invest $1.5 million to $2 million on
improving the old Splash Down Dunes waterpark. Paving the way for that
project was the Porter BZA, which secured written commitments governing the
hours of operation, the maximum length of rides, and parking lot
regulations. Then, in November, Seven Peaks Waterpark Duneland announced
that the park will indeed officially open on Memorial Day 2013.
In December, moreover, the Porter Town Council followed the Chesterton Town
Council’s lead in 2009 and formally established a riverfront district which
includes the property of the old—and long vacant—Spa restaurant and banquet
center. The advantage of a riverfront designation: it makes available, under
state law, more liquor licenses than a municipality’s population would
otherwise permit. Accomp-anying that move was news that an experienced
regional caterer is in the process of acquiring the Spa property.
And one more bit of good news in Porter: IDEM reversed itself and decided
that the town would not, after all, need at this point to monitor the
Brickyard property by means of permanent wells.
In the first half of 2012 the big story was the Duneland School Board’s
decision to put to a referendum a proposed new property tax—22 cents per
$100 of assessed valuation—to cover multi-million dollar shortfalls in the
Duneland School Corporation’s General Fund. The alternative, according to
Superintendent Dirk Baer, would be wholesale cuts to staff and programs.
Perhaps oddly, no organized opposition to the referendum ever emerged in the
run-up to the May 8 primary election. There was plenty of organized support,
however, as scores of yard signs urging folks to vote “Yes” popped up
throughout Duneland. The outcome, though, could scarcely have been closer:
voters approved the new property tax by a 50.95 percent margin to 49.05
percent, in an election in which 33 percent of Duneland’s registered voters
cast ballots, compared to only 21 percent countywide.
The lead story for the Nov. 6 general election: Democrats in Porter County
win. Win big. In fact, Democrats swept every countywide race for the first
time in memory. Yet despite the Democrat triumph, a sizable partisan rift
appeared in the day-after numbers: fully 43 percent of all voters in Porter
County cast straight-ticket ballots, up from 37 percent in 2008. In Duneland
itself, the number of straight-ticket ballots nearly doubled from four years
ago: 42 percent in 2012 versus 24 percent in 2008.
Sears Holding Corporation announces the closing of the Super Kmart at 6050
U.S. Highway 6 in Portage, followed a few days later by Meijer’s
announcement that it is buying the property. The Class of 1992 stone
monument at Chesterton High School is vandalized; damage is estimated at
$3,500. An arson sets fire to the same playground structure at Dunes
Friendship Lane twice in five hours; damage is estimated at $1,500.
A home in the 1300 block of County Line Road in Pine Township is destroyed
by fire; 100,000 gallons of water are used to extinguish the blaze, which
causes estimated damage of $650,000. The South Shore Orchestra nears the end
of its seven-concert tour of China. The State Attorney General’s Office
files suit against former Porter County Animal Shelter Director Judith
Bonaventure to recover $7,199 in funds which the State Board of Accounts
found missing in its annual audits and for which the suit contends she is
Animal Shelter Interim Director Jon Thomas advises the Shelter Advisory
Board of a host of improvements made since his appointment in November 2011;
care of animals is his No. 1 priority, he says. Porter County Council Member
Dan Whitten, D-at large, is elected by his colleagues to the presidency for
the third consecutive year. A rash of vehicle entries prompts Chesterton
Police to urge residents to secure their vehicles and harden the target. An
unknown person fires a gunshot at Fairhaven Baptist Church in Westchester
A derailment involving three CSX freight trains strews 25 cars, five
locomotives, and 45 intermodal trailers like Tinker toys in Jackson
Township; none of the trains’ crews members is seriously hurt but
firefighters from nearly every department in the county battle for 16 hours
a blaze started when spilled diesel fuel ignites paper products being hauled
by one of the trains; the smoke is visible for five miles, a one-square mile
area is evacuated as a precaution, and firefighters use 139,200 gallons of
water deployed by 800 feet of hoses hand-stretched to the scene; in the days
after the incident, first responders begin reporting symptoms of
gastroenteritis, the result of eating tainted food delivered to the scene by
a Valparaiso restaurant.
U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, speaks of war, debt, taxes, and jobs at his
annual town forum in Chesterton. Divisive “right-to-work” legislation is
sent to the full Indiana House of Representatives for a vote; the bill would
ban contracts requiring workers to pay union dues for representation; Gov.
Mitch Daniels defends the bill in his State of the State address; most House
Democrats begin a boycott of the session. Porter Director of Engineering
Matt Keiser resigns.
Porter County Animal Control seizes 105 dogs from a home in the 100 block of
C.R. 1400N in Westchester Township; charges are pending against their owner.
The Chesterton Utility Service Board reports that the U.S. Postal Service is
delivering some customers’ bills late or not at all. The Porter Park Board
launches Bud’s Buddies, a not-for-profit advisory board named in honor of
the late William “Bud” Tilden, a long-time member of the Park Board.
Brian Sinotte is named Porter Health System’s new chief operating officer.
Report: the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor moved 2 million tons of cargo in
2011, an increase of 10 percent over 2010. The Porter County Board of Zoning
Appeals approves the last of 36 variances for St. Andrews, a 109-acre
mixed-use medical campus on property adjacent to the site of the new Porter
Regional Hospital in Liberty Township.
Fire destroys a home in the area of C.R. 625E and C.R. 1600N in Pine
Township; damage is characterized as total, after the roof falls into the
ground floor. Fire causes an estimated $140,000 in damage to a house in the
1200 block of Griffin Lake Road in Chesterton; the blaze is believed to have
started by burning incense. The new Duneland Seniors invites folks over 55
to join, for activities every Wednesday at the Community Building in
Hawthorne Park in Porter.
Ryan Schroeder, 26, of Liberty Township, is charged with 23 felonies, after
investigators say that he persuaded a woman to molest a young Chesterton boy
and video the molestation. Fire causes $200,000 in damage to multiple condo
units at Westchester Village on the Green, off 23rd Street in Chesterton;
the suspected cause of the fire is an electrical malfunction. The Indiana
Senate receives the “right-to-work” legislation, as House Democrats promise
to end their boycott but not to hold a vote on the bill.
The CFD extinguishes the third house fire in three days, this one in the
kitchen of a residence in the 800 block of South Jackson Blvd.; damaged is
estimated at $30,000. The new Sage restaurant at 425 Sand Creek Drive holds
a grand opening. The Indiana House passes the “right-to-work” bill by a vote
of 54-44, as Republicans take advantage of their 60-40 majority in the
Mary Fox of Kramer & Leonard’s is installed as the 2012 Chesterton/Duneland
Chamber of Commerce president. Porter Health Systems sets a Aug. 25 date for
the move into the new Porter Regional Hospital. The state’s old electric
chair, formerly used at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, is put on
exhibit at the Indiana Department of Correction museum; the chair was
constructed from wood salvaged from the state’s original hangman’s scaffold.
The Burns Harbor Town Council names Craig Barnes the new Town Marshal. The
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s Board of Directors
imposes an across-the-board fare hike of 5 percent to the nearest 25 cents,
to take effect on Feb. 15 on the South Shore commuter line. Dunelander
Kindermusik celebrates its 15th year of operating locally.
The CHS debate team wins the district qualifying tournament, sending Jon
Vincent, Justin Reed, Nikita Chawla, Christian O’Brian, and Jack McCrum to
the NFL national tourney in Indianapolis in the summer. INDOT proposes the
construction of a non-grade interchange at the intersection of Ind. 49 and
Vale Park Road/C.R. 400N in Center Township. U.S. Steel Corporation posts a
net loss in 2011 of $68 million or 47 cents per share, compared to a net
loss in 2010 of $482 million or $3.36. US. Steel also announces the sale of
its Serbian operations to the Republic of Serbia.
The Indiana Senate passes the “right-to-work” bill by a vote of 28-22; Gov.
Daniels signs it, making Indiana the first right-to-work state in the Rust
Belt. NiSource Inc. posts a net income in 2011 of $299.1 million or $1.06
per share, compared to $282.6 million or $1.02 in 2010. Gary Atkinson and
Donna Harris a.k.a. Donna Meade—the promoters of Dunes Country, a proposed
New Urbanist mixed-use development on Brummitt Road, Pine Township—are
charged with securities fraud and the unlawful sale of securities.
The Duneland Family YMCA names Executive Director Kym Groceman its Staff
Person of the Year and Pat Bigger its Volunteer of the Year at the Y’s
annual meeting. The Duneland School Corporation announces that a
multi-million dollar shortfall in the General Fund could force program and
staffing cuts, unless voters were to approve a new property tax of 22 cents
per $100 of assessed valuation in a referendum being considered for the May
primary election; after the homestead and other deductions are applied,
owners of a home valued at $100,000 would pay an extra $72.03 per year or $6
Jesse Daniels Sr. and Loren Hanson, two former officers of United Steel
Workers Local 1011—representing members at ArcelorMittal’s Indiana Harbor
facility—are found not guilty by a federal jury of conspiring to embezzle
union funds. The Porter County Election Board votes unanimously to take no
action against former Burns Harbor Town Marshal Jerry Price, whom Burns
Harbor Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan accused of knowingly violating several
election laws. The Election Board also green-lights the use of the
Chesterton town hall as an early satellite voting center in the run-up to
the May 8 primary election.
Barry Yarbrough, 41, of Valparaiso, dies after leaving the road and hitting
a tree in the 200 block of East. U.S. 6 in Jackson Township. ArcelorMittal
posts a net income in 2011 of $2.262 billion or $1.46 per share, compared to
$2.916 billion or $1.93 in 2010. More than 230 Dunelanders attend an
information session at CHS to hear details about a proposed referendum on a
new property tax; Superintendent Dirk Baer tells them “We’re at a precipice,
at the edge of a cliff, through no fault of our own.”
Amtrak announces that approval has been given to run high-speed passenger
trains from Western Michigan through Northwest Indiana at a top speed of 110
miles per hour; Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, says that
Amtrak never notified the county of its high-speed plans. Able Disposal
begins distribution of two new 95-gallon rollaway garbage cans to all
Chesterton households, one for recycling, the other for refuse; under the
terms of the company’s new three-year contract with the town, households
receive the rollaways at no charge but recycling collection is put on a
The CHS debate team wins its fifth consecutive state championship and its
22nd overall, with Victoria Simms and Kalina Smith in Policy leading the
way. CHS swimmer Olivia Kabacinski is the only double individual winner at
the state finals, taking first in both the 50 Free and the 100 Free, leading
her team to a fifth place finish. The Indiana Department of Natural
Resources awards the Town of Chesterton a 50/50 $6,500 grant to complete a
street-tree inventory, begun several years previously under a prior grant
The Duneland School Board votes unanimously to put a new property tax to the
voters on a referendum in the May 8 primary election. The Indiana Department
of Local Government Finance slashes the Town of Chesterton’s 2012 budget to
below its 2011 level, apparently because the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office missed
the deadline in September 2011 by which to advertise the 2012 budget. The
Indiana Department of Environmental Management orders the Town of Porter to
install several monitoring wells on the Brickyard property for the purpose
of sampling groundwater, meaning that any work on the site will be delayed
for at least a year.
BB gun vandal Dennis Ditterline, 39, of Porter Township, is sentenced to
three and a half years in prison after pleading guilty to two counts of
criminal recklessness; Ditterline admits shooting at moving and parked
vehicles on more than 50 different occasions because “Destruction makes me
Carl and Carol Bachman of Chesterton celebrate their 50th wedding
anniversary. Donna Montoya, 50, of Westchester Township, is charged with 11
counts of animal neglect and three of harboring non-immunized animals, after
Animal Control seized 105 dogs from her residence in January. The father of
Dustin McCowan, accused of shooting Amanda Bach to death in September 2011
in Union Township, announces a reward of $10,000 for information leading to
the arrest and conviction of, he says, the real killer; the reward is good
for a period of one month; no one ever collects it.
The Discovery Charter School announces an admission lottery because there
are more applicants than spots for the 2012-13 school year. CHS speaker
Mikaela Meyer qualifies for the NFL tournament in Indianapolis. Porter
County Attorney Gwen Rinkenberger is named Juvenile Court Magistrate,
replacing the retiring Edward Nemeth. The Porter County Commissioners vote
2-1 to endorse in principle a partnership with the Town of Chesterton, under
which the county would pay for the upsizing of a new sanitary sewer line to
be installed south of the Indiana Toll Road in incorporated Chesterton, to
enable the line to serve any new commercial development along Ind. 49 in
unincorporated Liberty Township.
Shawnna Forgus, 22, of Valparaiso, is found murdered in her bedroom at 403
Courtney Street. The first project funded by an $880,000 stormwater bond
issue, floated by the Chesterton Stormwater Management Board late in 2011,
is approved: the cleaning of the Lincoln Ave. basin. Local 150 of the
International Union of Operating Engineers, files suit in the U.S. District
Court for the Northern District of Indiana, seeking to nullify the state’s
new “right-to-work” statute.
The Discovery Charter School sets its 2012-13 school year enrollment at 436,
an increase of 60 pupils. California consultant Shelter Planners of America
reports that Porter County needs a new animal shelter of 15,000 to 18,000
square feet, at an estimated cost well over $2 million. Two fishermen pull a
dead alligator, 4’ 7’’ in length, from the Kankakee River in Starke County.
A “Finding Bigfoot” segment, taped at Indiana Dunes State Park, airs on
Animal Planet; the segment was shot after a video showing “something” at the
park, appears on YouTube in November 2008.
CHS swimmer Blake Pieroni takes first in the 100 Freestyle at the state
championship, leading the team to a fourth place finish. Allen Warnes, 55,
the stepfather of Shawnna Forgus, is charged with her murder.
Maple Sugar Time is held at Chellberg Farm at Indiana Dunes National
Lakeshore. The Porter County Election Board votes to put a referendum for a
new property tax of 22 cents per $100 of AV on the May 8 primary election
ballot, as requested by the Duneland School Corporation to cover a
significant shortfall in the General Fund. Allen Warnes, charged with
murdering his stepdaughter Shawnna Forgus, is issued a no-contact order,
after members of his household tell investigators that they did not
initially report what they saw and heard on the night in question because
they fear him.
Kramer & Leonard’s is named Company of the Year by United Way of Porter
County, recognizing its volunteerism and execution of innovative ideas. The
CHS Academic Super Bowl team wins first place at the sixth annual Academic
Super Bowl Invitational at Purdue University North Central; it’s the fourth
first-place finish for the team. The CMS Science Olympiad team places first
in its division and second overall at the Indiana University Northwest, to
advance to state competition.
Tony Davern of Boy Scout Troop 998 earns the rank of Eagle Scout, after
completing as his service project the installation of bike racks in the Town
of Porter. The Duneland School Board slashes summer school programs for
fourth to eighth grades, after the Indiana Department of Education decides
to cut the number of summer school classes for which it will reimburse
costs. The CHS Jazz Ensemble earns the Group I Gold-Superior rating at the
ISSMA’s District Jazz Festival at LaPorte HS.
The Porter County Commission-ers formally make Animal Shelter Interim
Director Jon Thomas the permanent director. IDEM announces that it will
not, after all, require the Town of Porter to install permanent
monitoring wells on the Brickyard property—for now—after determining that
the site does not appear to pose a risk to drinking water. Franciscan
Alliance dedicates its new cutting-edge free-standing 24-hour ER department
on the site of the old Jewel/Osco on Indian Boundary Road.
Ratner Steel Supply Company announces plans to build and equip a $14.25
million 102,000-square foot steel service facility at the Port of
Indiana-Burns Harbor. The CHS speech team wins the North East District
national qualifying tournament, sending six more speakers to the NFL tourney
in Indianapolis in the summer: Cassidy Peretin, Andrew Hogan, Sharon
Coleman, Mike Leopold, Kaylee Oates, and Jennifer Kattalia.
The Town of Burns Harbor and ArcelorMittal renew discussions of a proposal
which would extend the company’s current tax abatement to 2023; in exchange,
the company would pay off the balance of the town’s outstanding sewer bonds,
freeing up $500,000 annually for other municipal needs. John Swanson,
executive director of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission,
announces his retirement, effective on Dec. 31.
Benjamin M. Willlis II, 23, of Liberty Township, is charged with neglect of
a dependent in connection with the death of his girlfriend’s 7-month-old
son, Keagan Fishel, who an autopsy determines sustained a traumatic brain
injury. A rail summit at Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton promotes
public/private partnerships for freight investment. “The Fire Departments of
Westchester Township” opens at the Westchester Township History Museum.
The Chesterton Utility Service Board approves a $750,000 contract with DLZ
to engineer a new 1.2-million gallon storage tank and other capital
improvements at the wastewater treatment plant, under a long term control
plan mandated by IDEM to reduce sewage overflows into the Little Calumet
River during heavy rain events. Officer Marty Gonzalez is named Porter
Police Officer of the Year by the Police Commission, for the fifth
Duneland Schools Superintendent details the scope of the funding crisis at a
speech before the Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club: should the referendum fail
to pass, in-school aides would disappear, he says; secretarial staff would
be cut by 20 percent; a minimum of 20 teaching positions would be cut; class
sizes would increase by a minimum of 10 percent; and the $750,000 spent
annually on high-visibility extra-curricular programs would be cut to
The Porter County BZA approves a use variance allowing a former landscaping
building at 884N 100W in Liberty Township to be converted into a year-round
youth softball/baseball practice facility. CHS students win top awards at
the Business Professionals of America state contest in Indianapolis: Eric
Dreischerf, Sam Fadel, Nathan Finke, Austin Johnson, Will Levi, Brian
Miller, Jake Daxe Pullins, Jacob Pruitt, Trent Schreiber, and Jon Vincent.
The Chesterton BZA approves a use variance for a “nano-brewery,” allowing
Hunters Brewing LLC to operate at 1535 S. Calumet Road. The Porter Town
Council promotes part-time Building Inspector Michael Barry to the newly
created position of Development/Building Commissioner.
The CHS speech team takes fifth at the state championship in Indianapolis;
leading the way are Mike Leopold who places fifth in Broadcasting and Andrew
Hogan who takes fourth in Humorous Interpretation. Early voting begins on
April 9 in Porter County, one month before the May 8 primary election.
Liberty Township residents tell the Porter County Council that they want the
Damon Run Conservancy District, not the Town of Chesterton, to provide
sanitary sewer service to development along Ind. 49 south of Chesterton’s
corporate limit; meanwhile, the County Council mulls a partnership with the
town, under which it would pony up an estimated $900,000 to upsize
Chesterton’s sewer line to enable it to serve customers in unincorporated
About 20 people oppose the National Park Service’s plan to close Tremont
Road, Furnessville Road, and portions of Hadenfeldt and Veden roads in
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, at a public hearing called by the Porter
County Commissioners; residents accuse the National Park Service of
“bullyism” by forcing folks to find alternative travel routes. Liberty
Elementary School fourth-grader Dimitri Nicholson is winner of March Math
Indiana Department of Revenue Commissioner John Eckart resigns after $205
million in local income tax revenues is discovered not to have been
distributed to the state’s counties; a programming error is blamed. A
spray-paint vandal causes $5,000 in damage at Coffee Creek Park; a $500
reward is offered for information leading to the vandal’s arrest and
conviction. Porter County is slated to receive a total of $6 million in
CEDIT funds mistakenly not distributed in 2011 and early 2012; those moneys
will be split among the county and its municipalities.
Three former employees at the Porter County Clerk’s Office—Kathleen Tabor,
Margaret Hammond, and Diana Kesel—sue County Clerk Karen Martin in federal
court, claiming that they lost their jobs without cause, due to age
discrimination and political retaliation. Julius Jovan Garza, 19, of
Hammond, is charged with murder in the shooting deaths of Jeffery Trinka,
40, of Valparaiso, and Jennifer Guinn, 31, of Hammond, at a Center Township
residence. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance cuts $800,000
from the Duneland School Corporation’s advertised 2012 General Fund;
overall, DSC will see a $3.5 million difference between what was projected
for all funds and its final appropriated budget.
The Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission pledges to
be proactive and take the fight to the Lake County tourism commission, after
the PCCRVC accuses the latter of publicizing false information about tourism
in Porter County. The Porter Town Council votes to use $3,000 in CEDIT funds
to support the annual fireworks extravaganza at Indiana Dunes State Park.
The Chesterton Town Council mulls the purchase of a trailer-mounted public
restroom for Thomas Centennial Park, in place of a proposed brick-and-mortar
facility. A man’s body washes up on the beach in Beverly Shores; initial
attempts to identify the man are unsuccessful. CHS student Jackie Santos
wins first place in Radio Copywriting at the Indiana Association of School
Broadcasters competition in Indianapolis. The National Park Service
announces plans to cut trees to “restore” the Cowles Bog Wetland Complex to
its appearance in the early 20th century, when groundbreaking ecologist
Henry Cowles first studied it.
The Burns Harbor Town Council votes to increase from 0.05 cents to 5 cents
the property-tax rate for the Cumulative Capital Development fund; to table
a proposed 10-year extension of ArcelorMittal’s tax abatement; and to
disband the Burns Harbor Economic Development Commission. Chesterton Police
Chief Dave Cincoski reports that 95 percent of speeders issued citations or
warnings, in a new zero-tolerance crash-reduction blitz, are out-of-towners.
Fire causes up to $50,000 in damage to a home in the 600 north block of C.R.
70E in Liberty Township.
Sgt. Joe Christian is promoted to Lieutenant and named the Chesterton Police
Department’s new commander of the Patrol Division. Fingerprints identify a
body washed up on the beach in Beverly Shores as that of William Hurse, 33,
of Benton Harbor, Mich., who was reported missing two months earlier. An
elderly Chesterton woman is treated for smoke inhalation after a kitchen
fire in the 1100 block of West Indiana Ave.; the fire causes $30,000 in
Paul Gipson is re-elected to his 10th term as president of United
Steelworkers Local 6787. The Chesterton Utility Service Board signals its
intention to go out for bids soon on the Ind. 49 utility corridor project,
whether or not the Porter County Council decides to spend $900,000 in
partnership with the town. Mikaela Smith, daughter of Chesterton Lions Club
members Robin and Mike Smith, wins the grand prize in the Lions Club
International Peace Essay Contest: $5,000 and a trip to New York City for
Lions Day at the United Nations.
The Porter County Commission-ers vote to use $1.27 million in CEDIT moneys
mishandled by the state to cover the E911 deficit. CHS student Molly Brust
is the winner of the cover design contest for the 2012-13 CHS handbook. The
CHS Symphonic Band and Wind Ensemble both earn Gold-Superior ratings at the
ISSMA event at LaPorte HS. A consultant reports that the cost of running the
Dunes Kankakee Trail through the Town of Chesterton would cost at least
$4.176 million and as much as $6.5 million, depending on the route.
The Indiana Court of Appeals rules that Porter County Clerk Karen Martin
rightfully terminated employee Margaret Hammond, who according to court
documents was fired for insubordination. The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of
Commerce urges a “yes” vote on the new property-tax referendum on the May 8
primary. WDSO hosts its 22nd annual Radiothon fundraiser. U.S. Steel
Corporation reports a net loss in the first quarter of $219 million or $1.52
per share, compared to a net loss in the fourth quarter of $211 million or
$1.46 and a net loss in the year-ago of $60 million or 60 cents.
The Chesterton Town Council ponies up $2,500 for the fireworks extravaganza
at Indiana Dunes State Park. David Moscoe of Chesterton wins the 2012 Justin
Dart Personal Achievement Award from the Indiana Association of
Rehabilita-tion Facilities, recognizing a person with disabilities who
maximizes skills to achieve chosen goals. Ernesto Martinez is named the new
director of the Discovery Charter School for the 2012-13 school year.
The Porter County Sheriff’s Merit Board terminates Officer Paul Arnold after
finding him in violation of departmental rules in connection with five
squad-car crashes in 21 months. “A mill is a terrible place to die”: United
Steelworkers Local 6787 dedicates a monument at the union hall to members
who lost their lives on the job. Volunteers for Rebuilding Together Duneland
2012 work on a variety of private and public rehab jobs. Report: the
estimated cost for a new Porter County Animal Shelter is $2.9 million.
Chesterton Police Capt. George Nelson retires after 38 years of service. The
House of Tomorrow, from the 1933-34 Century of Progress Exhibition in
Chicago, is named one of the Most Endangered sites in the state by the
not-for-profit Indiana Landmarks.
NiSource Inc. reports a net income in the first quarter of $193.4 million or
68 cents per share, compared to a net income in the year-ago of $209.5
million or 75 cents. Fire causes $175,000 in damage to a home in the 2300
block of Dakota Street in Chesterton. Emma Schmidt, 8, is named Poppy
Princess by the American Legion Auxiliary Post 170 in Chesterton.
The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance advises Porter County
Auditor Robert Wichlinski that he may not offer amnesty to owners of
multi-family structures in violation of homestead credit rules. Porter
County Sheriff Dave Lain warns of unsafe overcrowding and liability at the
Porter County Jail. The Porter County Commissioners reach an agreement with
the National Park Service about road closures at Indiana Dunes National
Lakeshore: Furnessville, Tremont, and Hadenfeldt roads as well as North Main
Street will all remain open.
Sandra Ann Everly, 55, is sentenced to six years after pleading guilty to a
fatal OWI in August 2010, in which her passenger, William Hertaus, was
mortally injured in an accident at the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and
Waverly Road in Porter. ArcelorMittal’s re-engineered, upgraded, and
rationalized heat-treat line at Burns Harbor’s 160-inch plate mill is
formally dedicated. The Porter County Park Board votes to accept a horse to
be kept at Sunset Hill Farm Park for educational purposes, in addition to
the goats already there.
The National Park Service approves a plan for deer management at Indiana
Dunes National Lakeshore; that plan provides for sharpshooters, in addition
to non-lethal management methods. A rare Snowy Owl is sighted in a wooded
area behind the Duneland School Corporation’s bus barn on C.R. 1050N. A new
one-mile trail, dubbed “Rosie’s Ravine,” is opened at the Paul C. Zona Sr.
Wildlife Sanctuary in Jackson Township.
A wafer-thin margin of voters cast “yes” ballots in the new property-tax
referendum in the May 8 primary election: 4,093 or 50.95 percent vote yea,
while 3,940 or 49.05 vote nay; only 13 of Duneland’s 30 precincts vote a
majority “yes”; majority “no” precincts include all in the Town of Porter,
the single precincts in the towns of Burns Harbor and Dune Acres, both Pine
Township precincts, and four of five in Jackson Township.
Incumbent Porter County Commissioner John Evans successfully defends a
challenge from Jim Biggs and wins the GOP nomination for his North District
seat. Laura Blaney wins the Democrat nomination for the open South District
seat on the Porter County Commissioners, defeating Jerry Puckett.
ArcelorMittal reports a net income in the first quarter of $11 million or 1
cent, compared to a net loss in the fourth quarter of $1 billion or 65 cents
and a net income in the year-ago of $1.069 billion or 69 cents. The Burns
Harbor Town Council listens to neighbors and votes to close the Burns Harbor
Police Department’s gun range. The Burns Harbor Town Council also votes to
reject a proposed 10-year extension of ArcelorMittal’s tax abatement, set to
expire in March 2013.
Gary Brinton of Utah, a principal in the Seven Peaks Waterpark Porter LLC
seeks to re-open the old Splash Down Dunes water park facility in Porter.
“Tools of the Trade” exhibition opens at the Porter County History Museum.
“Mother O’ Mine: A Celebration of Mothers Day” exhibition opens at the
Westchester Township History Museum.
The Chesterton Police Depart-ment seizes 35 pounds of marijuana in a traffic
stop on I-94 as part of a HIDTA funded drug interdiction operation;
Rigoberto Trancoso, 20, of South Bend, is charged with dealing marijuana.
Anthony Kuk is named the new director at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor,
replacing Peter Laman. Announcement: South Shore commuter line passengers
will be screened and some regular trains canceled as part of security for
the NATO summit in Chicago. The Chesterton First United Methodist Church
celebrates its 150th anniversary.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources announces that it has
authorization to begin contract negotiations with an unnamed group to
develop a restaurant and banquet hall at the Pavilion at Indiana Dunes State
Park. Eric Ailes, 9, of Porter, helps to organize Safety Fest, scheduled for
June 15 at Hawthorne Park. CHS student Kalvin Ravn is named a winner of the
National Council of Teachers of English Achievement Award in Writing for
Off-duty PCSP Officer Phillip Pratt, a Chesterton native and a 2006 CHS
graduate, is killed when he crashes his motorcycle into a pickup truck on
Ind. 2 in Washington Township. CHS student Michael Leopold is named the
winner of the 12th annual Accepting the Challenge of Excellence Award from
the Duneland Exchange Group. Richard Bollinger, 90, of Burns Harbor, dies;
Bollinger served on the Burns Harbor Town Council and was a charter member
of the Burns Harbor Lions Club.
CHS student Michael Leopold earns the Degree of Premier Distinction from the
National Forensic League. The 29th annual W.R. Canright Outstanding Senior
Journalist Award is presented to Jessica Hickle of Sandscript and Toni Greco
of Singing Sands. CHS student Jackie Santos is named WDSO Most Outstanding
Newscaster and student Jake Dieotte Most Outstanding DJ.
CHS 2012 Prom royalty: Queen Sunny Lee and King Jon Vincent. The Duneland
Exchange Club names Jacob Pruitt its 2012 Youth of the Year. Roy Ferguson,
48, of Fulshear, Texas, fatally shoots himself after holding hostages at a
real estate office on North Calumet Ave. in Valparaiso. The Chesterton Town
Council expresses qualms about a proposed trailer-mounted public restroom in
Thomas Centennial Park, after questions are raised about the cost of
maintaining one and its vulnerability to vandalism.
The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission votes to authorize a maximum bond
issue of $3 million for the Ind. 49 utility corridor project, to be repaid
with tax increment financing funds. Eagle Scout candidate Eddie Kaczmarek
spearheads a trail-cleaning project at the Paul C. Zona Sr. Wildlife
Sanctuary in Jackson Township.
CHS speakers Andrew Hogan in Dramatic Interpretation and Cassidy Peretin in
Extemporaneous Speaking break into the Top 48 at the 61st annual National
Catholic Forensic League’s Grand Nationals in Baltimore, Md. The Chesterton/Duneland
Chamber of Commerce activates a new double-sided electronic sign on Ind. 49,
just south of East Porter Ave., on the west side of the roadway. The Indiana
Department of Education awards a $69,000 technology grant to the Discovery
The CHS speech and debate program names Michael Leopold Most Valuable in the
Program. Vale Park Road is closed between Ind. 49 and Silhavey Road—and C.R.
400N is closed between Ind. 49 and Bartz Road—for the construction of an
overpass interchange. The United Steelworkers calls ArcelorMittal’s new
contract proposals “unacceptable”; the company says it needs to close the
competitive labor cost gap between ArcelorMittal USA and non-union minimills
and to become sustainable throughout the entire business cycle.
St. Patrick Catholic School holds its second annual Shakespeare Festival.
CHS holds its 122nd commencement, as the Class of 2012 graduates in a
ceremony in the football stadium. Timothy Gajdik, 33, of Chesterton, dies
after crashing his motorcycle on C.R. 875N in Liberty Township. The Indiana
Utility Regulatory Commission slashes Indiana-American Water Comp-any’s
proposed income hike of $16.9 million or 8.64 percent to $1.95 million or 1
percent; how that increase will be allocated among the company’s different
service areas, including Duneland, remains undetermined.
Utah developer Gary Brinton says that he plans to invest $1.5 million to $2
million on improvements to the former Splash Down Dunes waterpark facility,
after closing on the property. Local environmentalist Charlotte Read
receives the Ted Falls Memorial Environment-alist of the Year Award from the
Indiana Division of the Izaak Walton League. The Chesterton Woman’s Club Art
Show’s Best of Show award goes to Judith Rein for her watercolor entitled “5
The Porter County Sheriff’s Police seeks the driver of a Honda Civic who
left Gabby Bigman, 21, of Liberty Township, for dead after striking her
while she was jogging on C.R. 200W; Bigman sustains two broken vertebrae, a
shattered ankle, and a separated ankle. The Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club,
in conjunction with United Way’s Success by 6 program, opens a Learning
Trail at Lakeland Park in Burns Harbor. The Chesterton Town Council receives
two quotes for a trailer-mounted restroom, the lowest for $48,945.
The Burns Harbor Town Council, without discussion, replaces Town Marshal
Craig Barnes with Mike Heckman, effective immediately. The Indiana
Department of Natural Resources dedicates the Dunes Creek daylighting
project near the Pavilion parking area at Indiana Dunes State Park. The
Burns Harbor Fire Department seeks to establish an advanced life support
municipal ambulance service; $75,000 from the Cumulative Capital Development
fund, $50,000 from the Rainy Day Fund, and $50,000 in donations from the
local businesses would provide start-up money for the service.
The Porter County Sheriff’s Police says the driver of a hit-and-run Honda
Civic in Liberty Township may be keeping the car in a garage or under a
tarp; investigators are contacting body shops. CHS students Andrew Hogan and
Jack McCrum advance to the octofinals before being eliminated in the NFL’s
national tournament in Indianapolis, the 41st in which the CHS speech and
debate team has competed. A Family Express gas station and convenience store
is proposed for the parcel at 77 E. U.S. 6 in Liberty Township, on a parcel
owned by St. Andrews Development, near the new Porter Regional Hospital.
CHS teacher Dave Bullock creates a wearable writing pad, the Scribbleband,
chosen as one of Top 10 New Products by trends magazine Top Ten
Wholesaler. Leonel Dominguez, 33, of Bronx, N.Y., is swept away after
his inflatable raft capsizes in Lake Michigan off Beverly Shores in Indiana
Dunes National Lakeshore; his body is recovered a week later. Gov. Daniels
is named the next president of Purdue University.
The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission hears opposition to a proposal to
allow farming on 175 acres at Coffee Creek Center; Robert Rhoda would farm
corn, soy beans, wheat, or hay but have no animal operations. Bill Cantrell
Day is proclaimed in the Town of Porter, to honor the outgoing Town Council
member, who took office on Jan. 1 but tendered his resignation for health
reasons. Anthony R. Rodriguez, 24, of Chesterton, is charged with criminal
recklessness, after he’s accused of taking an alligator from a pond at Zao
Island in Valparaiso in July 2011 and encouraging a young boy to pet it; the
boy did and was bitten.
Bids for the Ind. 49 corridor are lower than expected; the Chesterton
Redevelopment Commission urges the Porter County Council to partner with the
town for considerably less than originally anticipated. The Chesterton
Woman’s Club Art Show’s Most Popular award goes to Ivan Chermel’s sculpture,
“The Trainer.” Chesterton Redevelopment Commission Member Jim Ton apologizes
for an hour-long NIRPC presentation at the commission’s May meeting, at
which NIRPC representatives failed to address members’ questions about the
Dickinson Road extension but did talk a lot about other things.
Chesterton Park Superintendent Bruce Mathias suggests that CHS Building
Trades students construct a public restroom at Thomas Centennial Park as a
class project. Porter County Council Dan Whitten announces his opposition to
the creation of a TIF district around the new hospital, calling it a
“backdoor tax” unfair to residents. Former Purdue University dean Marilyn
Haring announces that, in opposition to the choice of Gov. Daniels as PU’s
next president, she is dropping a $1 million gift to the school from her
Chesterton resident Peter Wilson returns home after bicycling 1,626 miles
across the country to raise funds for the House of Hope Orphanage in Uganda.
A new 11-ton granite columbarium is delivered to Chesterton cemetery, with
60 double niches for the interment of ashes. Storms knock out power to
40,000 NIPSCO customers.
Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club installs its new president, Brock Lloyd, who
succeeds Chuck Parkinson. Thousands celebrate Independence Day at the fourth
annual fireworks extravaganza at Indiana Dunes State Park; stifling heat
does not smother the fun at the Family Fourth Fest the next day at Hawthorne
Park, sponsored by the Duneland Business Initiative Group, the Porter Parks
and Recreation Department, and the Chesterton Lions Club. Horizon Bancorp
acquires Heartland Bancshares of Franklin, Ind.
“The Lives and Legacies of William and Flora Richardson” opens at the
Westchester Township History Museum, in conjunction with the “The
Photography of William D. Richardson” at the Braver Museum of Art at
Valparaiso University. The Porter County Commissioners vote to dissolve the
Animal Shelter Advisory Board, after resignations whittle membership to less
than a quorum. Brian Shafer resigns as business director of the Memorial
Opera House and manager of the Porter County Expo and Fairgrounds.
Corey McFry, 15, of Portage, drowns at the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk
site at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Leslie (Norm) and Dorothy Mork of
Jackson Township celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary. The Chesterton
Town Council abandons the idea of a trailer-mounted restroom at Thomas
Centennial Park. Contract negotiations formally commence between
ArcelorMittal and the United Steelworkers. The Burns Harbor Town Council
approves the purchase of two reconditioned diagnostic monitors for $28,000,
appropriates $125,000 in start-up funds for a new advanced life support
municipal ambulance service, and tells Fire Chief Bill Arney to advertise
for paramedics to staff the service.
The Duneland School Board bids farewell to retiring Support Services
Director Mark McKibben, retiring after 19 years; the board also names a new
CMS principal, Mike Megyesi, to replace Craig Stafford, transferred to CHS
as a new assistant principal. A Democrat caucus elects David Wodrich to the
1st District seat on the Porter Town Council, to replace Bill Cantrell, who
resigned his seat for health reasons.
Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa vacates the Aug. 13 trial date for
Dustin McCowan, charged with the murder of Amanda Bach, after defense
attorney John Vouga says he needs more time to prepare his case; Vouga files
a motion for a change of venue and one to suppress dog-tracking evidence.
Jonnathan Fuller, 38, formerly of Michigan City, is sentenced to three years
in prison after pleading guilty to neglect of a dependent; the CPD says that
Fuller tried to lure a local girl into running away with him. The 2012 Relay
for Life is held at CMS; a violent thunderstorm doesn’t ruin the fun or the
spirit of the event.
The Friends of Indiana Dunes marks 30 years in a celebration at the Library
Service Center. The old Bethlehem Steel hunting lodge in Jackson Township
burns to the ground. The Chesterton Utility Service Board and
Indiana-American Water Company announce their intention to go after
customers who disconnect their water service to use wells, in violation of
Two sappers from Valparaiso’s 713th Engineer Company are killed in combat in
Kandahar Province, Afghanistan: Spc. Sergio Eduardo Perez of Crown Point and
Spc. Nicholas Andrew Taylor of Berne, Ind. An overnight storm dumps 2.8
inches of rain on Duneland and topples trees; lightning is suspected as the
cause of a fire which destroys a contractor’s workshop in the 100 block of
U.S. Highway 6 in Liberty Township.
The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission votes 4-1 to endorse an ordinance
which would permit farming on 136 acres at Coffee Creek Center, after the
Lake Erie Land Company agrees to eliminate from the deal the 39 acres
closest to Morgan’s Corner. A settlement ends Save the Dunes and the Hoosier
Environmental Council’s challenge of an IDEM permit granted to ArcelorMittal
allowing the construction of a landfill at the facility; as part of the
settlement, ArcelorMittal must test the soil after cleaning up one of the
largest piles of steelmaking waste materials on the property.
The 2012 Porter County Fair royalty: Queen Katelyn Marak of Valparaiso; Miss
Congeniality Brita Ringas of Westchester Township. A morning rush-hour storm
leaves 60,000 NIPSCO customers in the dark. ArcelorMittal reports a net
income in the second quarter of $959 million or 62 cents per share, compared
to $11 million or 1 cent in the first quarter and $1.535 billion or 99 cents
in the year-ago. The Porter Town Council votes to begin condemnation
proceedings to acquire a parcel needed for the Brickyard Trail, after the
council and the owner of the property—located at the southwest corner of
U.S. 20 and Howe Road—are unable to agree on a price.
Report: the Discovery Charter School places second overall on the ISTEP
among the state’s 45 charter schools. Report: Porter County’s total assessed
valuation falls by $360 million or 2.7 percent in 2012. Liberty Intermediate
School is burglarized and iPads and iBooks stolen. The Northwest Indiana
Redevelopment Authority pledges to help NICTD to create a new 15-year plan,
the cost of which is estimated at $500,000; items likely to be addressed by
the plan include the West Lake expansion of lines to Lowell and Valparaiso.
NiSource posts a net income in the second quarter of $69.4 million or 25
cents per share, compared to $40.2 million or 14 cents in the year-ago. U.S.
Steel posts a net income in the second quarter of $101 million or 62 cents
per share, compared to a net loss in the first quarter of $219 million or
$1.52 and a net income in the year-ago of $222 million or $1.33. The Travel
Center of America in Porter is robbed at gunpoint and $1,647 stolen. The
Porter County Council votes 5-2 to partner with the Town of Chesterton and
participate in the Ind. 49 utility corridor project, at a cost of $740,409.
The 54th annual Chesterton Art Fair is held in Hawthorne Park in Porter.
NiSource representatives ring the closing bell on the New York Stock
Exchange to commemorate 50 years of trading on the NYSE; the company is also
celebrating the centennial of the Northern Indiana Public Service Company.
The Porter County Highway Department works with IDEM and the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers to obtain the proper permits, after beginning a bridge
replacement project over Coffee Creek on 1100N without those permits.
Twenty-nine employees at Trailer Transit Inc. in Porter share a $2 million
Powerball win. Low bidder LGS Plumbing Inc. of Crown Point is awarded the
$2,888,865 contract for the Ind. 49 utility corridor project. Standard &
Poore’s Rating Services cuts ArcelorMittal’s long-term credit rating from
BBB to BB+. The CFD holds its 11th annual Street Dance. Report: St. Patrick
Catholic School outperforms all Duneland Schools as well as the Discovery
Charter School on the ISTEP.
“Prehistoric Porter County” opens at the Porter County Museum of History.
The Burns Harbor Town Council votes to spend $38,500 on a used ambulance and
in so doing formally authorizes the BHFD to establish a 24-hour advanced
life support municipal ambulance service. Life Fest 2012 spreads the
anti-suicide message in Duneland.
The Westchester Public Library Board of Trustees cuts its 2013 budget by
$165,286 to keep the unit’s maximum levy increase to no more than the 2.8
percent allowed; no reductions in service are anticipated. Liberty Middle
School is burglarized and computers and AV gear valued at $5,500 stolen. The
seventh annual Party in the Park, sponsored by the Chesterton/Duneland
Chamber of Commerce, is held at Thomas Centennial Park.
The Duneland School Corpora-tion regroups after a lackluster ISTEP
performance in 2012, which ranked it sixth out of seven school corporations
in Porter County. Chief Ranger Mike Bremer tells the PCCRVC that poor
decisions by beach visitors are a chief factor in drownings at Indiana Dunes
National Lakeshore; the park has seen 18 drowning deaths since 1994, with 14
of the victims under the age of 25. The Chesterton Town Council asks
contracted financial consultant London Witte Group to review the CFD’s
proposal for an advanced life support municipal ambulance service; the CFD
estimates that such a service could potentially yield a surplus revenue of
$50,000 to $140,000 annually.
The Porter BZA affirms written commitments for a waterpark operation on the
grounds of the old Splash Down Dunes: they include the hours of operation,
the maximum length of rides, and parking lot regulations. Porter Superior
Court Judge Bill Alexa schedules Dustin McCowan’s murder trial for Feb. 4,
2013; he refuses to change the venue of the trial. The Porter County BZA
votes to allow construction of the 10,000 square foot First Christian Church
of Chesterton at the southeast corner of Ind. 49 and U.S. 6 in
unincorporated Liberty Township.
United Steelworkers Local 6787 President Paul Gipson calls contract talks
with ArcelorMittal “ugly,” 10 days before the current contract expires.
Motorcyclist Grady Royal, 60, of Michigan City, dies after striking a second
vehicle on U.S. 20 in Pine Township. The 2012-13 school year begins for
Duneland students, with first-day enrollment up marginally, by 12 students.
The Discovery Charter School begins its third year of operation.
The Chesterton/Duneland Cham-ber of Commerce holds its 2012 awards luncheon:
Kym Groceman is the Duneland Distinguished Woman, Joyce Recktenwall wins the
Golden Achievement Award, Best Buddies Pet Pantry is the Humanitarian of the
Year, and Leslie Plesac and Laurie Wehner-Evans are the Volunteers of the
Year. Staff and patients move into Porter Regional Hospital; 35 ambulances
transport 95 patients and six “hot” trucks carry patient care equipment;
roads are closed in Valparaiso to facilitate the move.
A fundraiser is held at The Boiler Room in Chesterton to benefit Gabby
Bigman, 21, who was left with a stack of medical bills after a hit-and-run
driver left her for dead on C.R. 200W earlier in the summer; investigators
have put in 100 man-hours to date but are left with few leads. The United
Steelworkers calls a new contract proposal from ArcelorMittal “dangerous,”
with no light at the end of the tunnel four days before the current contract
expires. The Porter Police Department’s K-9, Nicky, dies unexpectedly of a
turned stomach, after surgery to repair a bulging disk.
The Chesterton Town Council votes 3-1 to authorize Clerk-Treasurer Gayle
Polakowski to establish a “reverting fund” in the 2013 budget, a first step
to establishing an advanced life support municipal ambulance service; that
vote does not, however, authorize the CFD to purchase ambulances or
equipment or to hire paramedics. The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission
begins a $69,640 engineering study of the Dickinson Road extension, in an
effort to persuade NIRPC to include the project in its 2040 plan and thus
make it eligible for federal funding. The Porter County Commissioners pledge
to make $2 million in CEDIT funds available to the Porter County Council to
cover budget shortfalls.
The third annual Veterans Bash at the American Legion Post 170 features live
music all day on Labor Day Sunday to raise funds for Purdue North Central’s
Veterans’ Organization. WDSO begins its 36th year of broadcasting at CHS.
The United Steelworkers and ArcelorMittal fail to reach a new contract by
deadline; the union opts not to strike, while warning members of the
possibility of a lockout. Former long-time Chesterton couple Bud and Mavis
Schrader celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary.
More than a week after the previous contract expired, the United
Steelworkers and ArcelorMittal reach a new three-year contract; the USW
claims victory, attributes it to membership solidarity, and says that the
union “successfully defended our wages and pensions from management’s
attempt to drive them down.” Chesterton resident Tom Lee tells the
Chesterton Town Council that the lack of sidewalks along 1100N, between the
Rose Hill Estates subdivision and 11th Street, is putting children in peril.
Dunelanders remember the martyrs of 9-11 at a ceremony at Coffee Creek
Center. CHS students Elizabeth Benson and Spencer Gordon are named National
Merit Scholarship finalists.
The Wizard of Oz Festival is held in Downtown Chesterton. Some $71.3 million
in stimulus funding is awarded to INDOT for the upgrade of rail lines in
Northwest Indiana, including the Porter choke point; 703 jobs will be
created during the 20-month construction period and, when completed, an 11.6
minute reduction in delay times for all train types is projected. The Porter
County Election Board okays the use of the Chesterton town hall as an early
voting satellite center in the run-up to the general election on Nov. 6.
Westchester Public Library Director Phil Baugher rejects the idea of a
bookmobile for the homebound, saying that the township is too small to
support the initiative. The Duneland Resale Shop celebrates its third year
at 801 Broadway, the former home of the Costas and then the WiseWay
groceries. Sticker shock: the low bid for the Val’s lift station is
$205,888, nearly a quarter of the $880,000 stormwater bond issue and at
least 65 percent higher than the projected cost; Chesterton Town Engineer
Mark O’Dell hopes to shave $13,000 to $20,000 off the price by tweaking the
Brass tacks at the Porter County Council’s 2013 budget hearing: a projected
revenue loss of $1.7 million from the state’s property-tax circuit breakers;
$1.5 million needed to open and staff the third pod at the Porter County
Jail; and $2 million needed to cover the E911 deficit; and none of that
includes a staggering spike in employee health care costs. The Porter County
Commissioners chip in $12,000 for an engineering consultant to design three
miles of a Calumet Trail spur from Mineral Springs Road to the Dune Park
Station; when completed, the trail will link Indiana Dunes National
Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park.
The National Park Service wants to build a cobble berm in the waters off
Beverly Shores to combat beach erosion caused by man-made structures like
the Michigan City Harbor, which divert the natural flow of sand to the west.
The Out of the Darkness Walk is held at Coffee Creek Center in support of
the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention; the family and friends of
Jenna Marie O’Reilly, on Team Remembering Jenna, participate.
The National Institute of Corrections releases its report on the Porter
County Jail: “immediate action” is needed to open the third pod to alleviate
overcrowding; Sheriff Dave Lain, in a letter to county officials, says that
the most urgent issue is the paucity of medical staffing. CHS Homecoming
royalty: King Brian Lesnick and Queen Rachel McCrum. Burns Harbor residents
remonstrate at a rare field hearing held by the Indiana Department of Local
Government Finance, opposing a spike in the Cumulative Capital Development
property-tax rate, which would increase annual revenues from $29,805 to
The Chesterton Town Council schedules a public hearing on the proposed sale
for $25,000, by the Parks and Recreation Department, of a lot in the
Dunewood Estates subdivision originally intended for development as a
community park; although the purchasing couple wants to build a home on the
lot, the town makes no representation that the lot is in fact buildable. CHS
student Matrika Laster is a National Achievement Scholarship semi-finalist.
The State Board of Accounts raps a no-bid purchase by the Porter County
Opera House of $150,145 in audio gear.
The 713th Engineer Company, headquartered in Valparaiso, returns home, in a
reunion joyful but also sad, with six of its sappers killed in the line of
duty: during its deployment in Afghanistan the 713th conducted 371 missions
and cleared 14,000 miles of roads. U.S. Marine Cpl. Josh Bleill is the
keynote speaker at the 11th annual Community Prayer Breakfast. The Porter
County BZA voted 5-4 to grant a design variance which would allow the
construction of an air-inflated dome at The Courts of Northwest Indiana in
Liberty Township, for six indoor tennis courts. Report: the estimated cost
of a federally mandated positive train control system on the South Shore
commuter line, to be in place by the end of 2015, is $35 million.
Hooked on Art, Chesterton Cruise Night, and the European Market make for a
great final Saturday in September. Jonnathan Fuller, serving time after
pleading guilty to trying to lure a Chesterton girl to run away with him, is
charged with the murder of Sylvia Marie Jones, whose skeletal remains were
found buried in the Dunes in Gary; the case was investigated by CPD Det. Lt.
Dave Adkins and Det. Jamie Copollo. The Porter County Plan Commission gives
plat approval to the St. Andrews Medical Campus on 83 acres adjacent to
Porter Regional Hospital; Family Express takes a gas station off the table
but still wants to build a convenience store on the property.
Porter County Council President Dan Whitten blows a gasket at a meeting,
after it’s confirmed that the Porter County Commissioners did not collect
bids for a contract to conduct an ADA compliance study, as Commissioner
Nancy Adams, R-Center, said they had. The CFD holds its first annual Lights
and Sirens Parade, to kick off National Fire Prevention Week. The CHS Trojan
Guard advances to ISSMA regional competition after earning a Gold-Superior
rating at district competition at Concord HS in Elkhart.
The Perfect Pint Festival is held at Hawthorne Park in Porter. The National
Park Service scraps the Ly-Co-Ki-We and Inland Marsh names for more historic
ones: the former is renamed the Glenwood Dune Trail, the latter the
Tolleston Dunes. The BHFD contains 1,000 gallons of sulfuric acid after a
spill in the Pilot Travel Center parking lot. A faulty electrical outlet is
suspected in a house fire in the 1400 block of Veden Road; the CFD estimates
damage at $30,000.
The Chesterton Town Council votes on first reading to sell a lot in the
Dunewood Estates subdivision belonging to the Park Department for $25,000,
to a couple looking to build a home on it; a resident of the subdivision
objects on the ground that it was her understanding that, even if a
community park was never developed on the lot, it would remain open space.
The CHS Trojan Guard takes first in Class A competition and earns the
highest scores in Music Performance, General Effect, and Visual Performance
in competition in New Lenox, Ill.
The Porter Park Board appears prepared to reverse its earlier decision not
to allow former superintendent Jim Miller to rescind his resignation, when
it announces that it will discuss employee reorganization at a future
meeting and will likely offer Miller a full-time position. The Chesterton
Stormwater Management Board awards the contract for the Val’s lift station
to low bidder Woodruff & Sons, with the understanding that an effort will be
made to shave 20 percent off the $205,888 price by modifying the project’s
SafeCo Insurance names Mike Anton of Chesterton a Community Hero, one of 15
insurance agents around the country so recognized. NIPSCO projects
historically low natural-gas bills during the 2012-13 winter heating season.
Long-time Duneland residents Peter and Louise Crumpacker celebrate their
64th wedding anniversary.
The Porter County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office moves to dismiss a murder
charge against Allen Warnes, 55, accused of killing his stepdaughter,
Shawnna Forgus, after witnesses recant; those witnesses previously told
investigators that they were fearful of Warnes. Ground is ceremonially
broken on the Ind. 49 utility corridor project. Ex-Animal Shelter employee
Rebecca Carroll files suit in federal court against the Porter County
Commissioners, alleging that she was terminated after reporting to county
officials instances of animal neglect and abuse.
Alan Zimmerman, 44, of Chesterton, is sentenced to 57 months in federal
prison after pleading guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to
manufacture and distribute; two years earlier, law enforcement agencies
seized 852 plants and 22 kilograms of marijuana in his home in the Villages
of Sand Creek. The Porter County Council votes 4-3 to freeze budgets;
President Dan Whitten walks out of the meeting after a line item for
veterans’ services is decreased by $6,000 to $90,000; immediately after his
leaving, his colleagues vote to restore the $6,000.
The CHS Trojan Guard advances to semi-state competition after regional
competition in Lafayette. Chesterton Fire Chief Mike Orlich makes a
presentation on a proposed advanced life support municipal ambulance service
and fields hostile questions from the public; Orlich vows that the service
would be killed if it fails to pay for itself. The Chesterton Utility
Service Board votes to endorse a sanitary sewer rate hike of 6 percent—which
would increase the average household’s bimonthly bill from $76.80 to
$81.26—to pay for the costs of the federally mandated long term control
Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, accuses Porter County
Council members Jim Biggs, Jeremy Rivas, Jim Polarek, and Sylvia Graham of
playing Russian roulette with county budgets. The Burns Harbor Town Council
votes to enact a monthly $4.12 fire hydrant fee, to cover the $70,000 which
the town pays annually to Indiana-American Water Company for its 89
hydrants. The United Steelworkers ratifies a new three-year contract with
ArcelorMittal but Local 6787 President Paul Gipson urges members to “save
their money” because “three years is not that far away.”
Lorain Bell, owners of L.A. Bell Motor Lines Inc. and a long-time member of
the Porter BZA, dies at 76. Record numbers participate in early voting.
Porter County Commissioner John Evans and Porter County Council Member Jim
Biggs squabble over salary increases in the failed 2013 budget. A World War
II exhibit opens at the Westchester Township History Museum. The Porter Town
Council authorizes the expenditure of $14,845 in CEDIT funds to acquire a
new K-9, after the death of Nicky in August.
The Chesterton/Duneland Cham-ber of Commerce’s trick-or-treat event in
Downtown Chesterton is a huge success. U.S. Steel Corporation posts a net
income in the third quarter of $44 million or 23 cents per share, compared
to $101 million or 62 cents in the second quarter and $22 million or 15
cents in the year-ago. Hurricane Sandy’s backwash slams into the southern
Lake Michigan shoreline, with winds as high as 60 miles per hour and waves
as high as 21 feet; but low lake levels lessen the impact of the storm.
ArcelorMittal posts a net loss of $709 million or 46 cents per share,
compared to a net income in the second quarter of $959 million or 62 cents
and a net income of $659 million or 43 cents in the year-ago. The Indiana
Department of Education releases its grades on Duneland schools: Brummitt
Elementary goes to a C from an A in 2011, Bailly Elementary to a B from an
A, and CMS to a D from an A.
The Duneland School Corpora-tion: the Indiana Department of Education’s
grades of Duneland schools—some of them disappointing—are “slanted” and not
appropriate. The Indiana Real Estate Commission permanently revokes the
real-estate broker’s license of Don Johnson, after the IREC says that
Johnson failed to comply with the terms of a settlement reached in June,
under which he agreed to pay $15,000 in restitution to the Indiana Attorney
General’s Office; the IREC found that Johnson violated the Mortgage Rescue
Protection Fraud Act and that he is “unfit to practice,” among other things.
The Burns Harbor Fire Department’s 24-hour advanced life support municipal
ambulance service begins. Carl Griffith Sr., 72, of Portage, is shot to
death in front of his home. NiSource posts a net income in the third quarter
of $19.3 million or 3 cents per share, compared to $34.7 million or 12 cents
in the year-ago.
For the first time in memory, Democrats sweep every countywide race on
Election Day: Laura Blaney takes the open South District seat on the Porter
County Commissioners; Dan Whitten and Sylvia Graham are re-elected to the
Porter County Council and Bob Poparad is elected to an at-large seat; Kevin
Breitzke is re-elected Surveyor; and Bill Alexa is re-elected to his seat on
the bench of Porter Superior Court II. Meanwhile, in the non-partisan
Duneland School Board races, John Marshall and Kristin Kroeger win lopsided
victories, Marshall winning an open seat and Kroeger beating incumbent Nick
Jurasevich; both Marshall and Kroeger supported the new property-tax
referendum. Despite the Democrat sweep, straight-ticket voting points to a
deep partisan rift in Porter County, with 43 percent of all voters going
straight-ticket in 2012, compared to 37 percent in 2008.
Seven Peaks Waterpark Duneland announces the opening of the old Splash Down
Dunes on Memorial Day 2013. State Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City—whose
district includes a slice of Duneland—is named to serve as the Democrat
House Speaker in the 118th General Assembly. The Westchester Public Library
announces a pilot program under which selected newspapers and magazines will
be loaded onto computer tablets.
The Indiana Association of School Principals names CHS Assistant Principal
Kevin Zeck as the 2012 District Secondary Assistant Principal for IASP
District I. Mark Chamberlain, CEO of Lakeside Wealth Management of
Chesterton, is named to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
The Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department douses a flue pipe fire in
the 800 north block of C.R. 200W in Liberty Township, then eight hours later
extinguishes a fully involved fire burning the demolished remains of a barn
in the 1000 north block of C.R. 400E in Jackson Township.
CSX conductor Benjamin Knipp sues CSX in federal court, claiming that he
sustained injuries in the three-train derailment in Jackson Township in
January. The Burns Harbor Town Council votes to make the entire town a
single voting district, in which all five council members will be elected at
large. The Duneland Historical Society remembers the Save the Dunes Council
in its 60th anniversary year. Edward Ibarra, 24, of Valparaiso, is sentenced
to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of
manslaughter in the fatal shooting in 2009 of Ibarra’s mother’s fiancee,
Juan Garcia, 33.
Over 600 attend Dancing Like the Stars, a fundraiser for the Duneland Family
YMCA. The Porter Park Board names Jim Miller, for 24 years the
superintendent, the new specialist in charge of maintenance of grounds,
facilities, and trails; a search begins for a new park director. The Porter
County Commissioners okay a new health care plan for employees, giving them
the option of increased deductibles or of a health savings account;
employees are warned that if they do not enroll in one or the other during
the window, they will not receive health coverage.
Report: less than half of the workers hired for RDA projects reside in Lake
or Porter counties. Hundreds brave the cold weather to watch the annual
Twilight Christmas Parade in Downtown Chesterton, hosted by the Chesterton/Duneland
Chamber of Commerce. Bross Enterprises sues the Town of Chesterton and Town
Council Member Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, claiming the discriminatory
enforcement of Town Code. The Chesterton Town Council votes to borrow
$400,000 from the Utility to cover budget shortfalls caused by the Indiana
Department of Local Government Finance’s cuts earlier in the year.
Announcement: Strack & Van Til to buy WiseWay Supermarkets; Strack President
David Wilkinson tells the Chesterton Tribune that the transition will
be mostly seamless. Janet Schweitzer wins the Westchester Public Library’s
photo contest with a shot of a deer on the beach. NICTD Transit Police seek
Jawaun Dontell Woods, 24, of Gary, suspected of slashing a man’s throat and
stabbing him in a robbery in the restroom of the East Chicago South Shore
train station. Dr. James Lane, preeminent historian of Northwest Indiana, is
the winner of the Indiana Historical Society’s 2012 Dorothy Riker Hoosier
Historian Award; Lane is the author of City of the Century: A History of
Gary and for almost 30 years produced the invaluable annual Steel
The 40th annual
Ye Olde Madrigal Christmas Feasts are held by the CHS Music Department. The
National Park Service announces the finding that the cutting of 3,900 trees
at the Cowles Bog Wetland Complex at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will
have “no significant” environmental impact; the goal of the project is to
“restore” the area to its appearance in the early 20th century, when
groundbreaking ecologist Henry Cowles studied it. Porter County Jail inmate
Jerome Scott files suit in federal court against Sheriff David Lain and
others, alleging bad conditions in the jail.
residents blast the Chesterton Park Board for the sale to a private party of
a lot in the subdivision which had been deeded to the Parks and Recreation
Department for development as a community park; residents say, among other
things, that the $25,000 selling price is far below what they paid for their
own lots. CMS seventh-grader Carol Dilts performs in the Joffrey Ballet’s
25th anniversary presentation of Nutcracker in Chicago.
Cashner Jr., 56, of Jackson Township, pleads guilty to the murder in April
2011 of his wife, Cynthia Cashner, 51, at her business; he faces a term of
45 years in prison. The Porter County Park Board votes officially to
designate an area southeast of the main parking lot at Sunset Hill Farm Park
as the site of the proposed 10,000 square foot Raise-the-Barn activity
center. The buyer of the Chesterton Park Department’s lot in the Dunewood
Estates subdivision backs out of the deal.
38, of Indianapolis, is shot to death in Portage, in what investigators say
may not have been a random shooting. Liberty Intermediate School
fifth-grader Daniel Alexander collects over 250 toys and $600 in cash and
gift cards for sick kids at the University of Chicago Comer Children’s
Hospital. A group of Dunes Acres residents file a motion in federal court
seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, to stop
the National Park Service from cutting 3,900 trees in the Cowles Bog Wetland
Complex; a day later, a federal judge rejects the motion on procedural
The Porter Town
Council establishes a riverfront development area including the former Spa
banquet center, vacant for 10 years, after confirming that an experienced
regional caterer is in the process of acquiring the Spa property; the
riverfront designation will make more liquor licenses available in town.
After Indiana-American Water Company tells the Burns Harbor Town Council
that the monthly fire hydrant fee—estimated in the summer at $4.12—could in
fact be as high as $14, the BHTC revises that new estimate downward, to
Court Judge Bill Alexa grants a motion by the accused murderer of Amanda
Bach, Dustin McCowan, to suppress dog-tracking evidence at McCowan’s trial,
scheduled for Feb. 4. A key witness in investigators’ case against Dontaye
Singletary and Sheaurice Major, charged with murder-for-hire in the shooting
death of Carl Griffith Sr. at his home in Portage, is herself shot to death
in Gary; the Portage PD vows not to be deterred. Jawaun Dontell Woods,
charged with attempted murder and robbery resulting in serious bodily injury
in connection with a stabbing in the restroom room of the East Chicago South
Shore train station, is apprehended in Indianapolis after being stabbed
himself and transported to Lake County Jail.
Save the Dunes,
the Hoosier Environmental Council, and others urge the state to scrutinize
the Enbridge Energy pipeline replacement project, which will traverse
Duneland, entering it in Liberty Township, then moving into Jackson
Township, before exiting in Pine Township. CHS student Jacob Korba of Boy
Scout Troop 929 completes his Eagle Scout service project at Opportunity
Enterprise’s Respite Home.
Christmas: Toys and Gifts from the 50s and 1960s” opens at the Westchester
Township History Museum. A rumor of violence at a CHS homecoming pep rally
prompts school officials and local law enforcement to take precautionary
measures; the source of the rumor is never determined but the pep rally is
Laboratories Inc. announces that it is moving its corporate HQ,
manufacturing facility, and 300-plus well paying jobs from Valparaiso to
Coffee Creek Center in Chesterton; the company says that it’s acquired 160
acres on the property and will begin construction in the second quarter of
2013. Ryan Schroeder, 27, of Liberty Township, is convicted on 23 felony
counts, after Tara Tryon, 22, of Wanatah, testifies that he convinced her to
molest a Chesterton boy and video the molestation; Tryon still faces her own
trial. Chesterton Town Engineer Mark O’Dell tells the Stormwater Management
Board that work will begin on the Val’s lift station in January.