Chesterton Tribune

Tax snafus, hospital sale, libraries, adult ed, sprawl: Top 2007 stories will be back next year

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By VICKI URBANIK

and KEVIN NEVERS

Like most years, 2007 brought plenty of changes in politics and public policy. But one common theme of the top events was that the stories were only begun in 2007.

The final outcome -- whether it’s how the county will spend the proceeds from the hospital sale, whether Westchester Public Library will be eliminated, or whether the region’s adult education program can be saved -- will spill over into 2008.

Topping the list of notable stories in 2007 was the decision by county officials in late spring to sell Porter Memorial Hospital to a for-profit company, bringing a nearly 70-year old public institution to an end and kicking off a debate, still unresolved by year’s end, over what the county should do with the millions in hospital proceeds.

By mid-year, two announcements that may have seemed unlikely a mere year ago were made: Porter hospital would move out of its native Valparaiso and into unincorporated Liberty Township, but another hospital, Memorial Health Systems of South Bend, would move into the county seat.

In the meantime, Coffee Creek Center in Chesterton had welcomed a $2.6 million dialysis and nephrology center in 2007, amid ongoing speculation of even more health care facilities there, including an orthopedic hospital.

Threats were made in 2007 to other public institutions.

One is Westchester Public Library. Despite strong public sentiments locally, and overwhelming public support statewide, in favor of keeping independent library systems, Gov. Mitch Daniels’ blue-ribbon Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform issued its long-awaited report that called for consolidation of public agencies, including libraries.

Townships are also on the chopping block, with various state proposals calling for an end to the township assessors or township trustees or both.

Adult education in Northwest Indiana is also in crisis, with the November decision by the Portage Township School Board to effectively shut down the six-county program unless an alternative funding source is found.

The year brought lots of farewells in the political arena.

Gone in 2007 was Democrat Party Chair Leon West. State Senator Anita Bowser died. Two Indiana House Democrats -- Duane Cheney and Robert Kuzman -- resigned mid-term. Robert Rhoda resigned from the Duneland School Board. Porter Town Council incumbents Paul Childress and Lorri Wickberg were ousted in the Republican primary, while Burns Harbor Town Council member Bernie Poparad lost his bid for a council seat in the town convention. Chesterton Town Council incumbents Mike Bannon and Frank Sessa both opted not to seek another term.

Resistance to change was seen in a number of ways, as residents sought to protect what’s dear to them, sending the message that they like their quality of life as it is.

The threats to WPL prompted a flurry of petition-signing and letter-writing by Duneland residents. The possibility of consolidating Porter County’s tourism bureau with Lake County’s prompted resolutions of opposition from the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce and the county commissioners.

The governor’s plans for a privatized Illiana Expressway prompted a loud outcry from south county residents wishing to preserve their rural community. The plan to extend the South Shore commuter service into Valparaiso and Lowell, heavily favored by many public officials, prompted plenty of concern for others, who questioned the impacts of sprawl, new taxes, and possible negative impacts to the existing South Shore line.

After the big box plans for Chesterton resurfaced late for a site south of the Indiana Toll Road, affected Liberty Township residents organized, took their concerns to meetings in Chesterton and at the county level, and made it clear they’ll keep up their fight into 2008.

Tax talk dominated the year.

Amidst lots of fingerpointing, the county’s tax bills went out woefully late in December. Early in the year, the Northwest Indiana Regional Bus Authority promoted the idea of a new tax for bus systems. Late in the year, state legislators were trying to reach a consensus on a new tax for the expanded South Shore.

Lawmakers were gearing up for the 2008 session with tax reform on the top of the list -- including a 1 percent hike in the state’s sales tax to fund decreases in property taxes.

New in 2007, and a sign of what’s to come in 2008: The commissioners forged ahead with plans for a new north county highway garage off Friday Road. The Duneland School Board forged ahead with land acquisition and consultants for a possible new elementary school. The county’s new zoning ordinance -- the first overhaul in 24 years -- was approved for the unincorporated areas. Porter officials may have finally resolved the logjam over the Brickyard Trail, with a groundbreaking set for ‘08.

With the final hours of 2007 ticking away, the Tribune offers its annual month-by-month recap of the year.

January

Scrap metal thefts plague Duneland. Chesterton Police investigate the assault of Park Superintendent Bruce Mathias on the Prairie-Duneland Trail, where a man riding an ATV drove into him. Dennis D. Burns, 43, of Washington Township, an inmate at the Porter County Jail, sustains fatal injuries after jumping from the second tier of the jail.

The Chesterton Utility loans the town $300,000 as the second draw of the 2006 property-tax revenues remains delayed. Figures released by the Indiana Department of Education indicate that 73.4 percent of eligible Chesterton High School students graduated in 2006, around 10 percentage points lower than the Duneland School Corporation expected.

A collapsed sanitary sewer main forces the closure of South Calumet Road between Indiana Ave. and Morgan Ave. while the main is replaced. The Chesterton Town Council votes 3-2 to permanently close the intersection of South Calumet Road and C.R. 1100N as part of the South Calumet Triangle project. In a court filing, the Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters Pension Fund Trust (PFT) alleges that Jerry Mobley, former president of the Lake Erie Land Company, was aware of the $200,000 “finder’s fee” paid to Peter Manous in the course of the $10 million sale to the PFT of 55 acres at Coffee Creek Center.

Bob Rhoda resigns from the Duneland School Board. The Duneland School Corporation disputes figures released by the Indiana Department of Education, claiming that 82.1 percent of students graduate, not 73.4 percent. The Chesterton Redevelopment Com-mission votes to pursue appropriate legal action to recover all TIF revenues which the Porter County Auditor’s Office has shortchanged the commission.

Evelyn Albrecht, former office manager for the Porter County Builders Association (PCBA), is charged with forgery and theft in connection with the unauthorized use of more than $170,000 in PCBA funds. The CHS speech team takes first place a the Hoosier Invitational at Indiana University. Porter County Commissioners John Evans, R-North, and Robert Harper, D-Center, clash over the Commissioners’ 2-1 vote to re-appoint Porter County Democratic Party Chair Leon West to the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District Board.

The Duneland School Board honors former State Rep. Ralph Ayres, R-Chesterton, citing his 35 years as a CHS teacher and 20 years in the Indiana House. The Duneland Unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Porter County reports a total of 306 members at the end of 2006, exceeding its target of 200 by better than 50 percent. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance approves the Town of Burns Harbor’s appeal, based on growth, for an excess levy of $350,000.

Mittal Steel USA announces plans to invest a minimum of $58 million in major capital improvements, including $11 million at its Burns Harbor facility and $15 million at its Indiana Harbor facility. Porter Police investigate the attempted sexual assault of a woman in Hawthorne Park. The Utility Service Board announces that it will postpone to 2008 the Downtown sanitary sewer replacement and separation project.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore honors 16-year volunteer Marguerite Domsic at a surprise birthday party celebrating her 90 years. Public input sessions are scheduled on the proposed Illiana Toll Road, what would be a privately built and managed toll road through Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties. Lakeshore Gymnastics celebrates 20 years of training the best gymnasts in Porter County.

The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission approves the 94-unit Village Green Townhomes at Kelle Drive and Sidewalk Road in Coffee Creek Center. A sixth-grade girl at Westchester Intermediate Girl is detained after a knife is found in her backpack. Chesterton Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, submits his report on the ways and means of recruiting a town manager.

Hopkins Ace Hardware at 320 S. Calumet Road announces its relocation to the former Smedman’s Econo-Mart right across the street. Published reports indicate that NiSource Inc. is looking to sell the electric operations of the Northern Indiana Public Service Company. The Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals approves a variance for a drive-through for CVS Pharmacy, greenlighting its move to a new $2 million store on 2.43 acres at the southeast corner of the intersection of Ind. 49 and C.R. 1100N.

Jane Delligatti assumes the presidency of the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce at the Chamber’s annual winter banquet; Vickii Brock is honored with the Duneland Distinguished Woman Award; Charles and Jillian Swickard, with the Senior Citizen Award. U.S. Steel Corporation posts a net income of $1.374 billion or $11.38 per diluted share for 2006, compared to $910 million or $7 per share in 2005. NiSource Inc. posts a net income of $282.2 million or $1.04 per share for 2006, compared to $306.5 million or $1.13 per share in 2005.

Conflicting maps prompt questions over whether State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, resides in the 4th District which he represents. CHS debates Tyler DeMar, Jay Hartford, Alex Stecivch, Greg Gentry, Tom Geairn, and Ankur Chawla qualify for the National Forensic League’s national tournament in Wichita, Kan., in June. The Chesterton Urgent Care Center on Dickinson Road expands its hours and changes its name to the Chesterton After-Hours Clinic.

February

NIPSCO temporarily suspends service disconnections due to frigid weather. The Duneland YMCA opens a new Teen Center, featuring a 47-inch plasma TV, couches, and a snack bar, among other amenities.

Porter County Crime Stoppers offers a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Bruce Mathias’ attacker. The CHS debate team takes second place at the Indiana High School Forensic Association’s state debate tournament. Back-up generators at Porter Valparaiso Hospital Campus fail, after the facility loses power in a “weather-related incident.”

The Porter County Coroner’s Officer reports that drug-related deaths doubled in 2006, from nine in 2005 to 18. Triad Hospitals Inc., in the process of acquiring Porter hospital, enters into a definitive merger agreement for $4.7 billion with two private equity buyers. Chesterton Park Board approves a contract with consultant Lehman & Lehman to investigate the possibility of enacting a recreational impact fee.

The Duneland School Board appoints Ron Stone to replace Robert Rhoda. The LaPorte County Commissioners adopt a resolution which urges the General Assembly to create a public power authority to bid for and acquire NIPSCO’s electric operations, amid reports that NiSource is seeking to sell them. Frigid weather causes a radiator to burst in a second-floor office above The Blue-eyed Girl in the 100 block of Broadway, flooding and destroying the store.

The CHS speech team takes first at the Munster Invitational. Heavy snow forces the closure of Duneland schools. The Indiana Senate votes to fast-track the Illiana Toll Road and gives Gov. Daniels unchecked power to deal with a private for-profit company. CHS senior Sarah Christofersen and Alyssa Penning are named National Merit Scholarship finalists.

Ryerson Inc. lays off nine members of the United Steelworkers Local 6787-03 at its Burns Harbor facility. ArcelorMittal enters into a joint venture agreement to design and construct a seamless tube mill in Saudi Arabia. The Shirley Heinze Fund is now the protector of more than 1,000 acres in Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties.

Becky Fox, the director of marketing for the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitors Commission, receives the Bronze Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International Award for the Image Campaign in Advertising 2006, for her “Experience More!” campaign. CHS debater Adam Potrzebowski qualifies for the NFL national tournament.

The First National Bank of Valparaiso is bought by 1st Source Bank of South Bend. The U.S. Department of Justice orders ArcelorMittal to sell its Sparrows Point, Md., facility, so as to preserve the competitive market for tin products in the eastern U.S. ArcelorMittal posts a pro forma net income of $7.973 billion or $5.76 per share in 2006, compared to a pro forma net income of $8.263 billion or $5.97 per share in 2005.

Christopher Birkholz, 38, of Chesterton, dies after being struck by a train near the Norfolk Southern railroad crossing in the area of Burdick Road and C.R. 400E in Jackson Township. Five voters file a lawsuit seeking to void the election of State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, to his 4th District seat, and either seat his Democratic opponent, Sylvia Graham, or call a special election. A proposed overflow sanitary sewage storage tank, proposed by the Chesterton Utility to eliminate combined sewer overflows, threatens to encroach on the softball field at State Park Little League.

The CHS speech team wins its third consecutive invitational tournament, this one at LaPorte. An ice storm downs tree limbs and causes blackouts in Duneland. The NICTD Board of Directors agrees to buy 14 double-decker cars for the South Shore commuter line. The Chesterton Fire Department reports that it set a new annual call record in 2006, with 1,059, shattering the old record of 878 set in 2005. The Porter Redevelopment Commission blasts the Porter County Auditor’s Office for “incompetence” after shortchanging the commission of TIF revenues.

March

The annual Maple Sugar Festival is held at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The CHS speech team wins the sectional title, beating rival Munster. State Sen. Anita Bowser, D-Michigan City, dies at 86.

The Porter Fire Department reports that it set a new annual call record in 2006, with 458, breaking its old record of 428 set in 2005. Steelworker Dave Ranus, of Valparaiso, is severely burned in accident at C Blast Furnace at the Burns Harbor facility of Mittal Steel USA. The Porter County Park Board makes bids on four separate properties for future park development.

The Porter County Plan Commission approves a 43-lot subdivision on C.R. 900N despite neighbors’ concerns about drainage. The Board of Directors of Ryerson Inc. announces that it is considering several strategic alternatives, including the sale of the company. The Save the Dunes Council announces its opposition to the proposed Illiana Toll Road.

Porter hospital reports four medical errors in 2006, including two surgeries performed on the wrong body part. The Duneland School Board endorses full-day kindergarten in the fall. Boy Scout Mike Gillman, of Troop 908, achieves the rank of Eagle Scout.

The Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center at 1420 Munson Road in Porter remains in Internet limbo as Verizon and Comcast fail to extend high-speed broadband service to that facility. The Burns Harbor Town Council approves the transfer of the town’s water system to Indiana-American Water Company. A tentative agreement under which Triad Inc. would purchase Porter hospital for $100 million is released, and the debate begins over the use of the revenues.

The Superintendent of Public Instruction designates Jackson Elementary School a Four-Star School. The CHS Music Department and Music Boosters host the Winter Guard International Midwest Regional Championship, bringing 80 indoor color guards to Duneland to compete. Mildred Pratt, 71, of Liberty Township, dies in a two vehicle accident at the intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and C.R. 200W in Liberty Township.

WDSO holds its 17th annual Radiothon with 72 hours of non-stop music. CMS eighth-grader Robert J. Conrick qualifies to participate in the state level of the National Geographic Bee. TripAdvisor.com ranks Indiana Dunes State Park as sixth in Top 10 Family-Friendly U.S. Beaches.

Director’s Order No. 21 of the U.S. Department of Interior is interpreted to forbid the Friends of the Dunes from soliciting donations in the parking lot during the Harvest Festival at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and to force the Friends to close most of their donation boxes; meanwhile, budget cuts prompt the National Lakeshore to furlough the Chellberg farmer for three months in the winter.

The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission takes note of “improvements” in the concept of a strip mall, dubbed Mills Pond, which developer Bob Rossman proposes to build on the same property eyed in 2006 by GK Development of Barrington, Ill., south of C.R. 1100N and east of Ind. 49.

The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission voices support for study of the Illiana Toll Road, not for the concept itself. The CHS Japanese academic team places second in the third-year division and third in the fourth-year division at the Japanese Olympiad in Indianapolis. The CHS speech team takes five of 12 qualifying positions at the North East Indiana national qualifying tournament.

Verizon finds a way to bring DSL high-speed broadband Internet service to the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitors Center. The Better Business Bureau returns to Northwest Indiana, with an office in Merrillville. Community Health Systems of Brentwood, Tenn., agrees to buy Triad Inc. for $5.1 billion, topping the previous bids of two private equity partners and sidetracking the sale of Porter hospital.

The Porter County Commission-ers endorse $200,000 in funding for Pathway Family Center, a non-profit drug-rehab service interested in establishing a facility in Porter County. The Regional Bus Authority eyes a possible sales tax to fund its plan for expanding bus service to the region. Porter-Starke Services Inc. re-opens the county’s only inpatient psychiatric facility after being closed for two weeks, renaming it The Inpatient Care Center.

The 17th annual Duneland School of Emergency Response is held over two weekends hosted by the Chesterton Fire Department. The CHS speech team regains its state championship, after crushing its rival, Warren Central, at the IHSFA state tournament. A fiscal study of the proposed 113-acre annexation of the old Olson Farm, at the terminus of East Porter Ave. east of Friday Road, indicates that the Town of Chesterton would need to hire at least seven new workers and secure an excess levy of more than $250,000 to service the 360-lot residential subdivision which developers want to build in the area.

The Chesterton Town Council votes 5-0 to endorse the principle of hiring a town manager. The Porter County Council takes no action on the request of Porter-Starke Services Inc. for $400,000 in funding and Alice’s House for $10,000. U.S. Steel Corporation announces its acquisition of Lone Star Technologies Inc., a manufacturer of welded oilfield tubular goods.

The Port Drive-In celebrates its 50th anniversary of serving up chili dogs and root beer. Porter County Council Member Bill Carmichael, R-at large, reveals that between 1938 and 1954 $2.2 million in tax revenues were used to fund Porter Memorial Hospital operations and bond payments, or $32.7 million when adjusted for inflation, and argues that revenues from the sale of the hospital should be returned in some form to taxpayers.

April

A bill passes the Indiana House giving the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau authority to use eminent domain outside its home county; a drafting error is blamed. Gov. Daniels approves an expenditure of $3 million, toward the $47.6 million purchase price of 14 new cars for the South Shore commuter line. The Porter County Council quashes a plan for the creation of a private trust to spend the revenues from the sale of Porter hospital.

Michael A. Leyden II, 22, of South Haven, fatally shoots himself after invading a home in Porter and confining two teenage boys in a search for money. A new computer glitch stalls assessing work in Porter County.

Porter County Auditor Jim Kopp resolves the settlement of the shortchanged TIF districts in Chesterton and Porter. The Duneland School Corporation as a whole meets a federal benchmark which tracks school improvement, but CHS misses two of its 15 categories. The Ritual Team of Chesterton Moose Lodge No. 1623 and Women of the Moose Chapter No. 846 celebrate another state championship at the 2007 Indiana Moose Association’s ritual competition.

Two new invasive beetles, the European chafer and the Asiatic garden beetle, are confirmed in Porter County, the Turfgrass Entomology and Applied Ecology Laboratory at Purdue University reports.

The Porter County Park Board approves a new five-year master plan which provides for the development of a comprehensive plan for the acquisition of land for new parks. The Chesterton Town Council votes 5-0 to annex the first phase of the old Olson Farm.

The Duneland School Board names Christina Dujmovich as the new principal of Liberty Elementary School and Kevin Zeck as new assistant principal at CHS. The Porter County Commissioners consolidate the Town of Porter’s four precinct polling places into one location for the primary election. Burns Harbor Town Council Member and Indiana Marine Reserves Gunnery Sgt. Louis Bain II, D-at large, returns home after his second tour of Iraq.

The first two ships of the 2008 international season, the Cyprus-flagged Isolda carrying steel coils and the Canadian-flagged Algo Marine carrying potash, arrive at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor / Portage. Rose Marie Hurley, 44, of Molena, Ill., dies after losing control of her vehicle in a police pursuit, which began on I-94, continued on Ind. 49 through Chesterton, and ended again on I-94. Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa throws the Soliday case to the Indiana House to decide the question of his residency.

The Porter County Commission-ers once again refuse to issue a driveway permit which would have paved the way for the construction of a waste transfer station on Porter/LaPorte County Line Road. The Porter County Commissioners endorse a new Unified Development Ordinance, the first major overhaul in 24 years. Porter hospital officials confirm that a chance may have been missed to get $65 million more for the sale of the hospital.

Space is leased in a new $2.6 million medical office building at Coffee Creek Center for a regional kidney dialysis and nephrology center, as part of the development of the growing 114-acre health care campus. Rogetta Urbahns, 59, of Liberty Township, former bookkeeper for the Duneland School Corporation, is charged with forgery and theft in connection with $45,000 taken from two accounts following an investigation by the Indiana State Police. Porter County Clerk of Courts Dale Brewer is awarded the Distinguished Hoosier Award by Gov. Daniels. Mittal Steel USA begins selling steel for exports, and plans to do so “on an ongoing basis.”

U.S. Steel Corporation posts a net income of $273 million or $2.30 per diluted share for first quarter of 2007, compared to $256 million or $2.04 per diluted share for the year-ago period. Marguerite Beck, 100, of Chesterton, dies. The Chesterton Town Council agrees to scale back plans for the remodeling of the former United Tractor facility at 116 N. 15th St., after estimated construction costs for the original design rise to $1.25 million.

The Duneland Exchange Club presents Accepting the Challenge of Excellence Award to CHS senior Nick Cunen. The owner of the Round the Clock property file a tort claim notice against the Town of Chesterton, alleging a loss of $1 million should the intersection of South Calumet Road and C.R. 1100N is permanently closed; it is the first of five such notices to be filed.

The Porter County Commissioners, the Porter County Council, and the Porter hospital Board of Trustees vote unanimously to sell the hospital to Community Health Systems for $120 million.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management warns the Town of Porter to remedy its sanitary sewage overflow problems or face significant fines. The Porter County Parks Department finalizes the acquisition of a 22-acre site in Pine Township named the Brincka-Cross Gardens arboretum.

The Duneland Unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Porter County announces that it will be open for business in the summer, due in part to a grant from the United Way of Porter County.

The Duneland Exchange Club names CHS senior Kristin Kalita its Youth of the Year. Rebuilding Together Duneland works on eight homes and six community sites. The General Assembly approves a bill which would create a committee to study the Illiana Toll Road from I-57 in Illinois to I-65 in Lake County.

May

The Duneland YMCA launches its “Strong Kids” annual campaign. Hugh King, former chief financial officer at Porter hospital, files a lawsuit claiming that he was wrongly fired two years ago when he divulged plans to sell the hospital and build a new facility. NiSource Inc. posts net income of $216.7 million or basic earnings of 79 cents per share for first quarter of 2007, compared to $172.9 million or 63 cents per share in the year-ago period.

The Porter County Park Board agrees to permit the Duneland Fourth of July Festival to be held at Sunset Hill Farm Park in Liberty Township, after construction at Dogwood Park makes it impossible to hold the festival there. The Porter County Sheriff’s Police reports that personal injuries accidents dropped from 419 in 2005 to 354 in 2006, while fatalities dropped from 18 to eight. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission schedules a public field hearing to take input on the a proposed 18.1 percent rate hike sought by Indiana-American Water Company.

Robert Urbanski, 66, of Chesterton, is reported to be in intensive care after being bitten by a Western diamondback rattlesnake purchased five days earlier at a swap meet in Pennsylvania.

The Duneland School Board acquires 26 acres of land on the west side of the Liberty Township schools on C.R. 900N, in what could signal a new school construction proposal.

The Duneland School Board asks the Positive Life Committee to review the Duneland School Corporation’s drug-testing policy, with an eye possibly to combining the current suspicion-based program with random tests.

Republican Michael Genger ousts incumbent Paul Childress for the nomination to the 4th District seat on the Porter Town Council, and Republican Dave Babcock ousts incumbent Lorri Wickberg for the nomination to the 3rd District seat, in the only contested races in the primary election in Duneland. Porter hospital President and CEO Ron Winger announces his resignation one week after Community Health Systems acquires the hospital.

Duneland author Harry Mark Petrakis holds a book signing for his new novel, Legends of Glory. The Westchester Public Library Board authorizes the development of bid specs and timetables for the replacement of the original carpeting at Thomas and Hageman libraries. The Duneland Garden Club holds its annual spring plant sale.

Splash Down Dunes owner Paul Childress announces the scheduled opening of the waterpark, after he reaches an 11th hour agreement to buy out his partner, Fred Pearson, in a deal which probably saves Splash Down Dunes from the auction block. The Chesterton Town Council votes 5-0 to make available $225,000 in additional CEDIT and TIF funds for paving projects, after the price of asphalt spikes by more than 50 percent. Westwood Manor residents, citing drainage woes, rip plans for a mixed-use PUD south of C.R. 1050N and west of Abercrombie Woods.

ArcelorMittal posts actual net income of $2.25 billion or $1.62 per share for the first quarter of 2007, compared to a pro forma net income of $1.603 billion or $1.16 per share in the year-ago period. The Town of Chesterton receives its 11th consecutive Tree City USA designation. The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce assumes management of the European Market from the Duneland Economic Development Company.

A violent storm rips through Duneland and kills a Gary motorist when a tree in the area of Ind. 149 and C.R. 1100N falls on his vehicle. The community and loyal customers turn out to help Hopkins Ace Hardware move its inventory across the street to its new location, in the old Smedman’s Econo-Mart. State Park Little League acquires 1.75 acres in an area west of the present fields off League Lane in Porter.

The Great Lakes Commission honors environmentalist Lee Botts with its Lifetime Achievement Award. The Chesterton Plan Commission clears the way for Pizza Hut to rebuild east of Ind. 49, by granting LZK LLC primary subdivision approval for the creation of two lots at the north end of the old Jewel/Osco parking lot on Indian Boundary Road. Chesterton Utility to the Town of Porter: Stop all building until more capacity at the wastewater treatment plant is purchased.

Mittal Steel USA announces plans to upgrade the continuous heat-treating line at its Burns Harbor facility. Mittal Steel USA announces plans to re-start the long idled 160-inch plate mill at U.S. Steel Gary Works, acquired by its successor, International Steel Group, in 2003.

David J. Lee, 30, a Highland photographer sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to secretly videotaping a 17-year-old girl as she changed in a dressing room at his Chesterton studio, is sentenced in Lake County to three years in prison for doing the same thing at his Highland studio.

The Duneland YMCA Board of Director names Kym Groceman as its new executive director, replacing Chris Fischer who resigned in March. The Porter Redevelopment Commission learns that the combined cost of building the Porter Brickyard Trail and the Orchard Pedestrian Way could increase by $1 million.

The Chesterton Town Council, over the objections of Westwood Manor residents, annexes 39 acres in Crocker, south of C.R. 1050N and west of Abercrombie Woods, for a proposed mixed-use PUD.

Morgan Park celebrates its 100th anniversary as Chesterton’s first planned subdivision. NiSource Inc. announces that it will not sell NIPSCO’s electric operations. Thirty-five firefighters from five departments respond to a fiery accident on the Indiana Toll Road in Liberty Township which claimed the life of Hawa Sissoko, 28, of Calumet City, Ill. The Chesterton Hometown Improvement Project, an initiative of the Duneland Economic Development Company, holds its annual Downtown Cleanup Day.

June

Chesterton Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, blasts the Redevelopment Commission’s apparent willingness to remove the connector road from the South Calumet Triangle project “as a ruse for retaliation” against property owners who have filed tort claim notices against the town.

ArcelorMittal announces the launching of a brand identity and design, dubbed “Transforming Tomorrow.” Mary Ann Pals wins Best of Show with “This Close,” a pastel, in the 56th annual Chesterton Woman’s Club Art Show, and Ray Noldin of Schererville wins the Chesterton Tribune Award with “Hideaway,” an oil.

Community Health Systems Inc., new owner of Porter hospital, posts a net income of $54.3 million or 58 cents per diluted share for the first quarter of 2007, compared to $54 million or 55 cents for the year-ago period. Jeff Vantil, owner of Vantil Medical, announces the re-location of his business to the former site of Hopkins Ace Hardware at 320 S. Calumet Road. The Porter County Commissioners purchase 4.42 acres off East Porter Ave. for $160,000, site of the new North County Highway Garage, a project expected to cost $800,000.

The Indiana Department of Education gives the Duneland School Corporation its highest ranking, “Exemplary,” but places CHS and Liberty Elementary School on “Academic Watch,” its second lowest ranking; rankings are based on ISTEP results. The 117 annual CHS commencement exercises honor 379 graduates at the gymnasium. The Chesterton Fire Department finds and acquires Engine No. 1, a 1939 American LaFrance bought the CFD in 1941 and used until it was placed on auxiliary status in 1961.

Porter Police investigate a burglar at the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant at 600 League Lane, the second such burglary in a year. Trucker Frank Epperley, 55, of Norwalk, Ohio, dies after losing control of his rig at the 32.6 mile marker of the Indiana Toll Road. The Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club honors Barbara Mort with the Ed Pearson Award, presented annually to the Rotarian who has performed outstanding service to the club and the community.

The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission awards the engineering contract for the South Calumet Business District project—formerly known as the South Calumet Triangle project—to DLZ of South Bend, at a cost not to exceed $395,750. Around 11, 000 tons of hot-rolled steel coils from the East Chicago facility of Mittal Steel USA steams for Pasajes, Spain, the first exported shipment of steel through the Port of Indiana/Burns Harbor since 2005. Mark J. Easter, 20, of South Haven, is charged with murder in connection with the death of Christopher J. Janus, 15, also of South Haven.

The Porter Town Council does not act to approve an application for the Fourth of July Midnight Parade. Residents of the Village of Burns Harbor broach the concept of a town center at a meeting of the Town Council. Report: between 2000 and 2006, the mileage in the Town of Chesterton’s roads increased by more than 23 percent.

Nevada enacts “John’s Law,” named unofficially after former CHS student John Edward Trowbridge, murdered in Las Vegas, Nev., by Michael Kane, later judged to be not guilty by reason of insanity; Trowbridge’s mother, Robbin Benko-Trowbridge, had lobbied the Nevada Legislature to give juries the option of finding a defendant guilty by mentally ill.

The Chesterton Utility Service Board votes 5-0 to send a letter of understanding to the Porter Town Council, in which it lifts its moratorium on the issuance of building permits for three months, while Porter undertakes to get to the bottom of its overages at the wastewater treatment plant in breach of its contract with the Utility.

Jeff Corso of the CHS speech team takes fourth in story-telling, Jay Hartford fifth in impromptu, and Kristin Kalita 11th in original oratory at the NFL national tournament in Wichita, Kan. The 11th annual Scandinavian Midsummer Celebration is held at Chellberg Farm at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Porter Valparaiso Hospital Campus is locked down for four hours after a message described as a possible bomb threat is found in a restroom.

The Porter County Community Foundation awards a total of $80,769 in grants to 10 organizations, including the Duneland YMCA and Parents as Teachers. David A. Pence, 69, of Liberty Township, dies in a two vehicle accident at Ind. 149 and C.R. 875N in Liberty Township. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, secures $2 million for land acquisition at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Porter County Democratic Party Chair Leon West announces his resignation to move to Texas. The newly reconfigured entrance to Indiana Dunes State Park is dedicated. The Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals grants two variances enabling Bethlehem Lutheran Church to erect a tower in which to hang its original nineteenth-century bell.

The U.S. Census reports: Chesterton’s population in 2006 estimated at 12,456, up 18.76 percent since 2000; Porter’s, at 5,313, up 6.85 percent; and Burns Harbor’s, at 1,015, up 32.5 percent.

July

The Duneland Resale Shop presents $5,000 to the Duneland Unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Porter County. EOCM Dylan Ellis, Staff Sgt. Jerry Graves, MSgt. Bill Fagen, and Greg Cooley, U.S. Navy (retired), are named as Marshals of the Chesterton Fourth of July Parade. Memorial Health Systems of South Bend announces the purchase of 53 acres in the area of Ind. 49 and C.R. 500N in Valparaiso, with the idea of building a 100-bed acute care hospital.

State Rep. Duane Cheney, D-Portage, formally resigns his 10th District seat; Cheney subsequently asks a Democratic caucus to rescind his resignation; the caucus refuses and elects Jack Clem to the seat. As part of a confidential settlement of the lawsuit filed against it by the Indiana Regional Council of Carpenters Pension Trust Fund (PFT), the Lake Erie Land Company agrees to re-purchase, at an undisclosed price, the 55 acres at Coffee Creek Center which the PFT bought for $10 million in 1999; neither party admits any wrongdoing.

Attorney Cliff Fleming, representing developer Bob Rossman, is vague on the details of a mixed-use PUD which Rossman wants to develop on 75 acres south of the Indiana Toll Road and east of Ind. 49., when appearing before the Chesterton Town Council to ask members to annex the property. The Chesterton Town Council expects to file an excess levy appeal twice as large as originally indicated, in the amount of $529,302, to cover the cost of serving a 360-lot subdivision on property, known as the old Olson Farm, in the process of being annexed.

The Duneland Unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Porter County celebrates its 500th member. The Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals approves an agreement under which Mittal Steel USA will abandon its two pending tax appeals and will not file another this year; had the company won those appeals, Porter County could have been on the hook for a $7 million refund. The Porter County Commissioners hear from fans of motocross and ATVs, after neighbors complain about noise and dust.

After a staggeringly high number of scofflaws are ticketed by Chesterton Police for ignoring a temporary ban on left turns from southbound Ind. 49 onto eastbound Indian Boundary Road, INDOT rescinds the ban and splits the traffic signal. NIRPC staffer Steve Strains is named to lead the commission’s new Department of Planning. ArcelorMittal and Nippon Steel Corporation sign a memorandum of understanding concerning a global strategic alliance.

Porter County Assessor John Scott blames the delay in the issuance of property tax bills not on township or county assessors but on the Porter County Auditor’s Office, which he says was not prepared for trending. Chester Inc. agrees to pay $5,000 to settle a violation of its stormwater pollution prevention plan, alleged by the Chesterton Stormwater Utility, while building an addition at St. Patrick Catholic School. Porter Police investigate the third burglary of the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant.

The 10 career firefighters of the Chesterton Fire Department receive a charter to become Local 4600 of the International Association of Firefighters. Nearly four inches of rain fall in Duneland within 24 hours, bringing a wet end to a summer drought.

U.S. Steel Corporation posts a net income of $302 million or $2.54 per diluted share for the second quarter of 2007, compared to $404 million or $3.22 for the year-ago period. Ryerson Inc. announces that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement to be acquired by Platinum Equity, a private firm, in a deal valued at $2 billion. The Chesterton Town Council annexes 75 acres located south of the Indiana Toll Road and east of Ind. 49, eyed by developer Bob Rossman for an unspecified mixed-use project.

Chesterton Clerk-Treasurer Gayle Polakowski announces that the old WiseWay Foods building at 801 Broadway has been sold by the Tonner family to an undisclosed buyer. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, secures $5 million for the South Shore rail line. Four more inches of rain fall in Duneland, in a storm which damages the sugar shack at Chellberg Farm at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce honors veterinarian James Read, owner of Ark of the Dunes, with its Humanitarian of the Year Award; it presents Business Renovation awards to George’s Gyros, Centier Bank, and Allegius Credit Union; and a New Construction Award to Tamarack Plaza.

August

Indiana University names Mathew DeLeon a Wells Scholar. The 49th annual Chesterton Art Fair is held at Hawthorne Park in Porter. ArcelorMittal announces the sale of its Sparrows Point, Md., facility to a privately held steel distributor, Esmark Inc.

Two CHS students face delinquency charges after a 14-year-old girl is sprayed in the face with bleach. NiSource Inc. posts a net income of $26.7 million or basic earnings of 10 cents per share for the second quarter of 2007, compared to $21 million or 8 cents per share for the year-ago period. Indiana-American Water Company (IAWC) and the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor reach a settlement agreement under which IAWC would receive a 9.9 per cent rate hike, instead of the 18.1 percent increase which it had been seeking.

ArcelorMittal posts a record actual net income of $2.723 billion or $1.97 per share for the second quarter of 2007, compared to a pro forma net income of $1.817 billion or $1.31 per share for the year-ago period.

Community Health Systems, the new owner of Porter hospital, posts a net income of $53.763 million or 57 cents per diluted share for the second quarter of 2007, compared to $52.369 million or 55 cents per diluted share for the year-ago period.

KFC, Burger King, and Long John Silvers are all burglarized. The Chesterton Town Council opts not to give raises in 2008 to municipal employees, citing fiscal uncertainty. The Porter County Health Board finalizes a plan to begin accepting donations to offset the cost of child immunizations: a voluntary contribution of $5 per child or $10 per family per visit.

Brandie Broussard, 15, of Metairie, La., dies when the 16-year-old driver of the vehicle in which she is riding attempts to flee a police officer and collides with a semi-tractor trailer at the intersection of Ind. 49 and Vale Park Drive. Porter Director of Public Works Karl Bauer resigns.

Westchester Public Library Director Phil Baugher warns of the possibility of consolidation with a larger county or metro system, as the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform targets small libraries.

The Duneland School Board rips the state for the property-tax mess, after it figures that the Duneland School Corporation has paid three times more than it normal does in interest on tax anticipation loans. The Duneland School Board appoints Anne Stillman Yost Elementary School principal, to replace Thomas Dombkowski, who resigned.

The CHS production of Guys and Dolls is ranked as one of the Top 5 finalists in USA Weekend’s 2007 Show Stopper Contest.

Porter County Auditor Jim Kopp warns that property-tax bills could be late in 2008. The Porter Town Council appoints Building Commissioner Brenda Brueckheimer Director of Public Works. At their convention Burns Harbor Democrats nominate Cliff Fleming in the race for the 3rd District seat on the Town Council and incumbent Louis Bain II and Eric Hull in the race for the at-large seats. Another tremendous storm blows through Porter County.

CHS swimmer Ethan Hall swims 10.3 miles before six-foot waves halt his effort to swim the 29 miles to Chicago; he raises $1,000 for the Duneland Unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Porter County. Ground breaks on a new Pizza Hut on Indian Boundary Road east of Ind. 49. Constantine Dillon, author of the cult class Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, is named the new superintendent of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, replacing the retired Dale Engquist.

INDOT opts to phase the green lights for east- and westbound traffic at the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and Waverly Road in Porter. The Porter County Commissioners decline to second John Evans’ motion to appoint himself to the NICTD Board of Directors, then vote 2-1, with Evans casting the sole nay vote, to appoint Robert Harper to the seat, to replace Leon West. The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce holds its third annual Party in the Park at Thomas Centennial Park.

The Duneland School Corpora-tion sees an increase of 119 students on the first day of school, with total enrollment on that day increasing from 5,764 last year to 5,883 this year. Yet another vicious storm roars through Duneland. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance raises another roadblock to Porter County’s issuing property-tax bills, after it demands information missing on sales disclosure forms. U.S. Steel Corporation announce plans to acquire Canadian steelmaker Stelco in a deal valued at $1.1 billion.

Ella’s Bella and The Moonlight Cafe in Downtown Chesterton are burglarized. Seven employees of the Burns Harbor facility of Mittal Steel USA, Dennis Baltzer, Jack Ballentine, Jeremy Schoon, Mike Koller, David Carmichael, Charlie O’Brien, and Mike Harden, are burned when the No. 1 vessel at the basic oxygen furnace “burps” or “squishes.” Burns Harbor Police discover an enormous marijuana field, seize truckloads of plants as tall as 10 feet, and burn them. The Porter County Council continues austerity measures by refusing to grant more funds to replace flimsy body bags used by the Porter County Coroner’s Office.

September

The first phase of the new roundabout in Valparaiso opens, at the intersection of Lincolnway, Sturdy Road, and LaPorte Ave. Parents as Teachers begins it 20th year helping parents prepare their children for school. The Indiana Court of Appeals upholds a 2005 vote by the Porter County Plan Commission to reject the primary plat for a 12-lot subdivision on 20 acres at 988N 400E in Jackson Township.

The uniforms of the old Sunset Hill Colonels—who played local baseball teams like Liberty Rec and Flint Lake in 1959-60—are donated to the Porter County Parks and Recreation Department. Report: Duneland Xtreme Sports raised more than $11,000 over the summer for the construction of a skate park in Chesterton. Five inmates at the Porter County Jail file lawsuits in federal court, alleging that unsanitary conditions at the jail are responsible for their staph infections.

CHS students pay tribute to the victims of 9/11 by placing 2,974 flags on the grassy area adjacent to the football stadium. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance finally approves the Town of Chesterton’s 2007 budget, after cutting 6 percent from the General Fund and 8 percent from the Parks and Recreation Department’s budget.

The Porter County Council opts not to give raises to elected county officials but rejects a move by one of its members to deny health insurance to elected officials unless they work full-time.

The Town of Burns Harbor celebrates its 40th anniversary.

Residents are urged to contact the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform and voice their support of the continued independence of the Westchester Public Library. Theodore and Barbara Prange of Chesterton celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

United Steelworkers Local 6787 holds a safety stand-down at the Burns Harbor facility of Mittal Steel USA, after a worker, Jim McMahon, is injured while operating a Pettibone at Vessel No. 3 at the basic oxygen furnace. The Porter County Council approves a plan to seek an excess levy appeal in 2008 to cover a shortfall in tax collections dating to 2006.

The National Weather Service announces that, effective Oct. 1, it will begin issuing alerts aimed at specific communities, in place of county-wide warnings. Aaron Lee Phelps, 16, of Valparaiso, is charged as an adult with reckless homicide, in connection with the death of Brandie Broussard, 16, of Metarie, La.; Phelps crashed the vehicle in which Broussard was a passenger while attempting to flee a police officer. State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, and State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, say that a bill will definitely be introduced during the 2008 legislative session establishing some sort of tax to fund the extension of the South Shore commuter line to Valparaiso and Lowell.

Porter hospital officials announce that they have secured an option to purchase 105 acres at the northwest corner of the intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and Ind. 49 in Liberty Township; groundbreaking on a new hospital, with a minimum of 225 all-private rooms, is expected early in 2008. Meanwhile, the Lakeshore Bone & Joint Institute, the anchor of a growing medical campus at Coffee Creek Center, enters discussions with Clarian Health Partners of Indianapolis to develop a health care campus in Northwest Indiana which would include an orthopedic hospital.

The old Pioneer Lumber showroom at 502 Grant Ave.—now the home to AccuCast Industries Inc.—burns to the ground, in the largest, most destructive fire in Chesterton since the old St. Patrick Catholic Church was destroyed in 1998; virtually every department in Porter County responds to the blaze, whose cause is never determined.

The Paper Conspiracy and China Chef Buffet are burglarized. The Chesterton Town Council votes 5-0 to offer the Tonner family $40,750 for the graveled lot across the street from the town hall, fur use as a public parking lot. The Porter County Council creates 11 of 20 full-time positions requested by department heads in 2008, including two new positions in the Auditor’s Office and three at the Parks and Recreation Department.

The Chesterton Town Council votes 5-0 to enact a recreation impact fee of $1,171, effective in March 2008, to be collected from the builders of all new homes. The law offices of Harris Welsh & Lukmann in Downtown Chesterton are burglarized. The Porter County Council votes 4-3 to reverse two key decisions, cutting the Family and Children Fund from $8.2 million to $5 million, while giving all elected officials, including council members, the same $750 raise in 2008 which other county employees will receive.

The Duneland Unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Porter County celebrates its first anniversary. CHS senior Trinadi Shires is named a semifinalist in the 44th annual National Achievement Scholarship competition. Porter County Auditor Jim Kopp says that property-tax bills will be mailed around Thanksgiving, with a due date of Dec. 15. Porter hospital announces that Jonathan Nalli has been named interim CEO. The CHS Trojan Guard wins a First Division Gold Rating at the ISSMA District Competition at Penn High School in Mishawaka.

October

Dunkin Donuts in burglarized. The Porter County Commissioners rejects a re-zoning petition sought for a car sales business at 155 W. U.S. Highway 6 in Liberty Township. A memorial to Lt. (j.g.) Magdalene Kubeck of Chesterton, a U.S. Navy nurse killed on Guam in February 1945, is re-dedicated at Our Lady of Sorrows in South Haven.

The Moms Club of Duneland expresses interest in “adopting” Dunes Friendship Land. Jason R. Meade, 21, formerly of Chesterton, is charged with burglary in connection with the forced entry of the law office of Harris Welsh & Lukmann in Downtown Chesterton in September. CHS seniors Holly Brady and Katrina Lutze receive the National Council of Teachers of English Achievement Award in Writing.

The recently appointed State Rep. Jack Clem, D-Portage, dies at 73. The first ever Zona Fest, hosted by the Porter County Wildlife Management Advisory Board, is held at the Paul C. Zona Sr. Sanctuary in Jackson Township. The CHS Trojan Guard takes first at the Fall Festival of Bands at Homestead High School in Ft. Wayne.

Local residents and public officials urge the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform to be wary of recommending sweeping changes without understanding near- and long-term consequences, including any move to consolidate smaller library systems with larger ones, at a two-hour “listening session” in Gary. NIPSCO projects a 20-percent increase in bills during the winter heating season. Judy Martz, former governor of Montana and former member of the U.S. Olympic speed skating team, is keynote speaker at the annual Community Prayer Breakfast.

The National Parks Conservation Association gives Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore a “poor” rating, warning that the dunes are being threatened by air and water pollution and by shoreline development in surrounding areas. The Chesterton, Porter, and Burns Harbor town councils all adopt resolutions in support of the continued independence of the Westchester Public Library.

Neighbors express concern about drainage and traffic in response to plans for a 246-lot subdivision, dubbed Timberland Farms, on Meridian Road in Liberty Township.

Porter County Council Member Matt Murphy, R-3rd, relinquishing his seat in January, resigns from the committee tasked with deciding what to do with the proceeds from the hospital sale. Burns Harbor Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan is the only elected official from Duneland to attend the inaugural meeting of the Porter County League of Councils.

A petition drive is launched in support of the continued independence of the Westchester Public Library.

The CHS Trojan Guard wins a Gold Division Rating at the ISSMA Northern Regional competition, its best showing in years. The Chesterton Fire Department holds its annual Fire Safety Open House. The Duneland School Board retains a professional demographer to help decide where a new school might be needed or where re-districting should be implemented.

The Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department, assisted by eight other departments, fights a blaze in a garage at 193E 750N which injures an occupant and kills at least one dog. Report: Luke Oil Company, owner of property at 524 Indian Boundary Road, former site of the now razed Shell gas station, hopes to place a Starbucks Coffee in a 4,100-square foot building it plans to build on the property. The National Forensic League ranks CHS eighth in the nation for speech and debate out of 2,700 schools.

A survey conducted by United Way of Porter County and the Porter County Community Foundation reveals this: 60 percent of stakeholders—businesses, non-profits, elected officials—believe that more public transportation is a “major concern” in Porter County, versus only 17 percent of citizens who believe the same thing. The Chesterton / Duneland Chamber of Commerce adopts a resolution in support of the continued independence of the Westchester Public Library.

The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance certifies property tax rates in a budget order which shows a decrease in rates for all but nine of Porter County’s 29 taxing units. Indiana Dunes State Park Security Officer Dan Dickey rescues three children from a two-man inflatable raft adrift on Lake Michigan.

The Portage Township School Board, the administrative agent for the local adult educational program serving more than 20 learning centers in communities like Chesterton in six counties, puts the program in crisis with a proposed resolution under which the School Board would cease to be the administrative agent unless a adequate funding source is secured.

Virginia Wehner, 76, of Portage, dies in a three vehicle accident at the intersection of Ind. 49 and Gateway Blvd., when the driver of the vehicle in which she is a passenger attempts to turn left against a red light from southbound Ind. 49 onto eastbound Gateway Blvd.; local police officers call the intersection hazardous because INDOT placed the left-turn signal for southbound motorists east of the median over the northbound left-turn lanes.

Anthony M. Miller, 20, of Chesterton, is charged with burglary in connection with the forced entry of the concession stand at the State Park Little League field at 250 League Lane in Porter. At a joint meeting, NIRPC and the Northwest Indiana Forum take no action on a proposed resolution in support of extending the South Shore commuter line to Valparaiso and Lowell.

A Democratic caucus elects Greg Simms of Center Township to the 10th District seat in the Indiana House vacated by the death of Jack Clem. U.S. Steel Corporation posts a net income of $269 million or $2.27 per diluted share for the third quarter of 2007, compared to $417 million or $3.42 per diluted share in the year-ago period.

In the wake of the fatal crash at the intersection of Ind. 49 and Gateway Blvd., INDOT announces it will re-locate the left-turn signal for southbound motorists at the intersection of Ind. 49 and Gateway Blvd.

A rare Evening Grosbeak, a species not reliably reported in Porter County for 10 years, is sighted at the Nature Center at Indiana Dunes State Park.

Laurence T. Hanna, 42, of Porter, dies in a house fire which investigators subsequently rule he set himself. The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles announces the re-opening of the Gary license branch but not of the Chesterton one.

November

Porter Fire Chief Lewis Craig responds to criticism leveled by an anonymous Chesterton firefighter, troubled that the CFD does not automatically respond to all structure fires in Porter but is rather held on stand-by until Craig makes a specific request for assistance; Craig says that he is best positioned to make a specific request for aid while the CFD is still on station. NIPSCO announces plans to purchase two gas-fired generating stations for $539 million, one of them the Whiting Clean Energy facility, owned by its parent company, NiSource Inc. Roger and Kathleen Morris of Chesterton celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

NiSource posts net income of $9.8 million or 3 cents per share for the third quarter of 2007, compared to $26 million or 10 cents per share for the year-ago period. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance announces that it has certified the distribution of $300 million in rebate checks statewide—funded from license fees on horse race tracks—to offset 2007 property-tax bills. Nicholas Canzoneri, 21, of LaPorte, dies after being struck by a semi-tractor trailer while trying to cross I-94 on foot two miles west of Ind. 49.

The Duneland School Board grants Duneland School Corpora-tion administrators a 3.5-percent base salary raise, retroactive to July 1. A demographer hired by the Duneland School Corporation projects that, bucking a state trend, the system will add 500 students over the next 10 years, about the same number it added over the previous five years.

Municipal election results in Chesterton: Clerk-Treasurer Gayle Polakowski easily wins re-election to her sixth term; incumbent Town Council members Jim Ton, R-1st, and Sharon Darnell, D-4th, also dispatch their challengers without difficulty; Republican Jeff Trout narrowly beats Democrat Larry Chubb for the 2nd District seat; incumbent Member Dave Cincoski, R-3rd, is unopposed in his bid for re-election; and Republican Emerson DeLaney is elected to the 5th District seat without opposition.

In Porter: Republicans sweep in Porter, with incumbents Clerk-Treasurer Carol Pomeroy and Town Council Member Bill Sexton, R-1st, handily beating their challengers; while Jon Granat wins the former 2nd District seat of his wife, Jenny, Dave Babcock the 3rd District seat, Micheal Genger the 4th District seat, and Michele Bollinger the 5th District seat, as Democrats go 0-6.

In Burns Harbor: Incumbent Town Council Member Louis Bain II, D-at large, only just defeats his challenger, while Republican Toni Biancardi takes the other at-large seat with the most overall votes, and Democrat Cliff Fleming strolls to victory in the race for the 3rd District seat; Mike Perrine, R-1st, and Jim McGee, D-2nd, are unopposed in their bids for re-election.

Dr. Norman Novak of Chesterton is honored at the Indiana University Fall Dental Conference in Indianapolis with the Alumnus of the Year Award for his dental mission work in Haiti, Guatemala, and St. Lucia. The Family and Youth Services Bureau of Porter County announces the closure, at the end of the month, of two residential centers for abused and troubled children, after state funding is cut by 25 percent. Charged in connection with the burglaries of the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant are Luke Bradley, 19, of Porter, Bradley Eric Sharpe, 20, of Portage, John Sniderhan, 19, of LaPorte, and a 18-year-old Chesterton man who was a juvenile at the time.

The Burns Harbor Park Board names its newest park, the one-acre park in the Harbor Trails subdivision, for longtime and outgoing Town Council Member Dick Bolinger, D-at large. The Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club honors CHS Athletic Director Garry Nallenweg with the Paul Harris Fellowship Award.

The Chesterton Park Board informs the Duneland Festival Committee that there is no longer room enough at Dogwood Park for the annual Fourth of July Festival. The Friends of the Westchester Public Library donate $10,000 to the WPL, the largest ever donation made by the Friends. Antonio M. Binion, 33, of Michigan City, is killed after being struck by a vehicle while trying to cross Ind. 49 on foot just south of Indian Boundary Road.

The Chesterton Trojan Pee Wee Red Football Team wins the state championship, Duneland Pop Warner does not have the money to send the team to Orlando to play for the national championship, and a fundraising campaign is organized. CHS debate team takes first at Munster. Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper, ruling in favor of the residents of Rose Hill Estates, orders the vacation of the primary plat of Lot 73 of that subdivision, approved by the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission in 2002, after plaintiffs argue that they believed that Lot 73 would remain a nature preserve, not the site of 48 townhomes which developer Randy Hall wants to build there.

The Porter Town Council confirms with Fire Chief Lewis Craig that from now on the Chesterton Fire Department will respond automatically to all structure fires in Porter. The McDonald’s in Burns Harbor is robbed at gunpoint. ArcelorMittal posts a record actual net income of $2.96 billion or $2.10 per share for the third quarter of 2007, compared to a pro forma net income of $2.182 billion or $1.58 per share in the year-ago period.

Liberty Township residents attend the meeting of the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission to oppose plans for a proposed mall, to be anchored by a big-box store like Wal-Mart, on 75 acres recently annexed by the Town Council located south of the Indiana Toll Road and east of Ind. 49. The Chesterton Utility settles its lawsuit with the Duneland Group over the design of the wastewater treatment plant expansion for $275,000. Porter County Commissioners endorse Gov. Daniels’ plan for a hike in the state sales tax to fund a deep cut in property taxes.

The Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitors Commission formally opposes the idea of a merger of Northwest Indiana’s tourism bureaus and supports the current state statute permitting local control of the revenues from the inn keeper’s tax. The annual Christmas Twilight Parade draws hundreds to Downtown Chesterton. A Hammond duck hunter dies of a cardiac event after falling in Lake Michigan from a boat just off the Bailly Generating Station.

Porter County Commissioner Robert Harper, D-Center, proposes using up to $150,000 in county funds each year for the next four to five years to keep Porter County Adult Education afloat. The mailing of property-tax bills is delayed once again, this time to Dec. 6, with a due date of Dec. 21, after problems surface in the numbers for the county’s various tax increment financing districts. Two days later those problems disappear and bill are expected to be mailed on Dec. 3.

December

The CHS Music Department holds its 35th annual Madrigal Dinner. The mailing of property-tax bills is delayed by a brand-new glitch, after the homestead tax credit is discovered to have been set too high. The NICTD Board of Directors contemplates no fare increases for the South Shore commuter line in 2008.

The Porter County Commission-ers approve an ordinance which—except for certain liabilities and the ambulance subsidy—preserves the principal of the revenues from the hospital sale in perpetuity and permits the spending only of the interest.

Charlie Jones, 19, of Gary, is killed after he attempts to drive around the downed gate at the South Shore crossing on Porter/Lake County Line Road and is struck by an early morning commuter train. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance recalculates the homestead tax credit and lowers it from 15.5 percent to 6.0766 percent.

Report: the intersections of U.S. Highway 20 at Wagner Road and at Waverly Road are among the most hazardous in the state. The Chesterton Town Council takes under advisement bids for a new aerial for the Fire Department, with the lowest at $744,463 and the highest at $886,140. The Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform releases its report, advocating the bureaucratic centralization at the county level of libraries, police, fire, and other services.

Report: NIPSCO President Mark Maassel is set to resign, as part of a re-organization intended to centralize accountability for the Indiana business operations of its parent company, NiSource Inc. With less than three weeks left in the year, the 2007 property-tax bills are at last in the mail. The question of endorsing the proposed $1 billion expansion of the South Shore commuter line to Valparaiso and Lowell prompts a power struggle at NIRPC, with NIRPC Member and Porter County Commissioner Robert Harper, D-Center, urging the endorsement to be put to a vote by all 53 members, not just by the 11-member NIRPC Executive Board.

A seventh-grade CMS student is detained at the Porter County Juvenile Detention Center after being found in possession of a knife with which he reportedly intended to stab another student. Students in both the Duneland School Corporation and St. Patrick Catholic Church School exceed the state averages in the English and math portions of the ISTEP.

The Porter County Plan Commission votes 5-4 to endorse a re-zoning needed for Community Health Systems Inc. to re-locate Porter hospital from Valparaiso to Liberty Township.

The Duneland Teachers Association announces that contract talks with the Duneland School Corporation have reached an impasse. Report: hunters take a total of 63 deer during the two phases of this year’s cull at Indiana Dunes State Park, 16 bucks and 47 does. Report: the number of Duneland School Corporation students placed on probation or otherwise faced with expulsion totaled 103 in the 2006-07 school year, an increase of 16 over the previous year’s total.

The NIRPC Executive Board, ignoring the strong suggestion of Porter County Commissioner Robert Harper, D-Center, votes 9-0 to endorse the expansion of the South Shore commuter line to Valparaiso and Lowell, begging the question “Who’s going to pay for it?”

The Duneland School Corporation begins the process of forming a “key communicator group” to be guided by a Indiana State University consultant, the first step in building a new elementary school. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, is robbed in the parking lot of a Merrillville supermarket.

Paulson Oil Company, a Chesterton fuel and lubricant supplier since 1956, is sold to Maxum Petroleum of Old Greenwich, Conn. The first big snow of the winter, around 10 inches of it, whitens Duneland; by Christmas it has melted. Liberty Township residents appear before the Chesterton Stormwater Management Board to express their fear that the proposed PUD dubbed Coffee Creek Crossing, in which context a Wal-Mart has been mentioned, will flood them out.

Mark A. Heckler, provost and vice-chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Colorado-Denver, is named the new president of Valparaiso University.

Chesterton Fire Chief Warren “Skip” Highwood is honored for his 45 years of service with the CFD. The PCCRVC tables a resolution to endorse the extension of the South Shore commuter line to Valparaiso and Lowell.

Report: Lake County’s decision to impose a county option income tax will cost Porter County $1 million per year in revenues, as Lake County residents who work in Porter County are taken off the latter’s COIT rolls. The Porter County Commissioners pass a resolution in opposition to any attempt to merge the tourism bureaus of Lake and Porter counties. The Porter Plan Commission forwards an unfavorable recommendation to the Town Council on a 190-unit PUD proposed for the so-called Iron Triangle.

The Hilltop Community Health Center announces plans to expand to Michigan City. A Norfolk-Southern train carrying semi-trailers loaded with UPS packages derails in Portage, dumping 38,000 packages and prompting a massive recovery effort.

High winds, with gusts just short of hurricane speed, buffet Duneland, bring down trees and power lines, and leave some residents in the dark on Christmas morning. The Duneland Resale Shop donates $3,000 in matching funds to the Westchester Neighbors Food Pantry.

The Lake County Council allows a proposed income tax to die, after members are unable to find the votes to override the veto of the Lake County Commissioners; it was estimated that a local option income tax in Lake County would have deprived Porter County of around $1 million in revenues.

 

 

Posted 12/31/2007