Chesterton Tribune

2002 in review A year of uncertainty

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By VICKI URBANIK

and KEVIN NEVERS

The fallout from the Bethlehem Steel Corp. bankruptcy dominated the news in 2002, as local government units struggled with an unprecedented fiscal crisis and the steelmaker courted potential buyers for its survival.

With no quick assistance from the state and uncertainties over the role that Bethlehem will play in the future, local officials grappled during the year trying to keep their doors open without the normal influx of tax dollars from the county’s largest taxpayer.

Westchester Public Library depended on a largely volunteer workforce after drastically cutting hours. The Burns Harbor town government nearly came to a screeching halt as well. The county and the Duneland Schools cut spending and pieced together a scheme of financing options that kept them afloat. Duneland canceled the first session of summer school, and the county cut all budgets 10 percent while eliminating filled and vacant jobs.

Meanwhile, Bethlehem Steel engaged in merger talks with U.S. Steel early in the year, then with Luxembourg-based Arcelor and, by year’s end, with International Steel Group. During the same year in which Bethlehem’s stock was de-listed on the New York Stock Exchange, a federal agency took over Bethlehem’s pension plan and the steelmaker announced a 20 percent staff cut at its corporate headquarters -- with more job losses in store for the coming weeks.

At the same time, Bethlehem and Westchester Township squared off at several hearings during the year on a tax appeal that could substantially cut future tax payments on the Burns Harbor plant.

For many, 2002 was a year to protest, mourn, or celebrate.

A series of emotionally charged, hot-button issues shared the headlines this year. Citizens organized and made their voices heard. Some succeeded. Some failed. And some still don’t know for sure how their efforts will play out.

The 2,000-plus crowd protesting a Chesterton firm’s proposed landfill in Boone Grove may have broken the county’s record for public event attendance. Porter residents continued their passionate fight, which they ultimately lost, in their battle to preserve the historic town hall.

Jackson Township residents staged a 6 a.m. picket, held a Girl Scout camp open house, and marched in the Fourth of July parade as part of an intensely organized fight against a new Toll Road “barrier” near 350E. Crowds were turned away when Porter Memorial Hospital trustees met at the Memorial Opera House to consider changing its abortion policy.

The year brought both tragedy and triumph.

A botched bank robbery at the Pines branch of Porter Bank in August left two dead, one badly injured and five behind bars. The grisly robbery came shortly after the Chesterton branch of Horizon Bank was robbed twice.

Too many lives came to an end on local roads in 2002.

A crash on U.S. 20 in January took the life of Vernier China co-owner Loretta Vernier. Two crashes in July on U.S. 20, one in Porter and one in Westchester Township, resulted in two deaths. In August, an East Chicago man died in a crash on U.S. 20 and Tremont Road in Porter. Jackson Township motorcyclist Michael Hineline faced several charges after fatally striking 6-year-old Mary Ross of Washington Township on 400E. Melissa Anderson, 16, of Porter died in a car crash on 50W in Liberty Township. In late September and early October, three fatalities occurred within three days on U.S. 12 and 20. James Collins of Liberty Township died in a crash on U.S. 6 in Jackson Township in November.

A 4-year-old Chesterton boy shot himself with his father’s handgun in July, prompting neglect charges against his parents. The December discovery of the body of Liberty Township resident Robert Verboom resulted in a quick murder arrest.

Linda Rigg died in the first fatal fire in Chesterton in more than 15 years. Hobart resident Randal Moehl died in an accident at Bethlehem. Ruge & Sons Meat, a Duneland institution for 56 years, was destroyed by fire.

For all the tragedies, however, local residents still had plenty to be proud of in 2002.

Angel Gochee of Porter was named a national park volunteer of the year. Mary Wesley was named the top female firefighter in the state, while Chesterton Fire Chief Warren “Skip” Highwood was named the state’s Firefighter of the Year.

Jule Orlich, a Chesterton Tribune carrier, and Jerry Ruge of Burns Harbor were deemed heros after waking up Cary Christopher in a house fire. Chesterton High School students continued to shine, winning the state and national championship in Japanese Bowl and taking eighth in the nation in Speech and Debate.

Triumphs of the year also included the opening of the refurbished Calumet Bicycle Trail after more than a decade of efforts to renovate it. The Burns Harbor sewer service, another long-awaited project, also came on line. Porter County opened its new jail, replacing the overcrowded one in downtown Valparaiso that has long violated standards. The Chesterton Fire Department celebrated its 100th anniversary, and Liberty Bible Church its 75th. The Save the Dunes Council marked its 50th, the same year that long-time members Herb and Charlotte Read celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.

The year also saw the passing of some people who contributed greatly to the community during their lifetimes.

Among them, Margaret Larson, long-time first-grade teacher who founded the Augsburg preschool and who promoted the preservation of local history, died at 102. Dunes painter and potter Hazel Hannell died in Oregon at 106. Orinthologist Helen Dancey of Valparaiso, who worked tirelessly to preserve the bird populations at Sunset Hill Farm County Park, died at 90. Russell Willis, a Portage community leader and former county judge, died at 80.

The year had its share of resignations and retirements.

Duneland Superintendent H. Stephen Hewlett surprised many when he announced in June that he was leaving to become an assistant superintendent in Valparaiso. Porter County Superior Court Judge Thomas Webber resigned, replaced by long-time state senator Bill Alexa, whose resignation from the Indiana Legislature left Porter County without a resident senator. Chesterton Town Engineer Charlie Ray resigned, as did Duneland’s Positive Life Director Jeanne Hayes, Burns Harbor Marshall Larry Shinneman, CHS band and orchestra director George Hattendorf, Porter Town Council member Eugene Bodnar, county planning director Robert Thompson, and Memorial Opera House director Jackie Gray.

While the nation’s economy continued to be the pits, growth continued in Duneland. Plans were announced for development of the “Pumpkin Patch” on Indian Boundary Road, including an Applebee’s restaurant, and a new WiseWay on the east side of Ind. 49. A new dental office on Pope Court, a body shop on South Calumet, and a sewer plant expansion highlighted Chesterton building permits, while Porter saw new water slides and Burns Harbor welcomed a new slitting and packaging line on Tech Drive.

As 2002 comes to a close, the new year will begin with many of the year’s struggles still unresolved.

No one knows for sure yet how Bethlehem Steel will survive its bankruptcy. The county’s tax board still needs to decide Bethlehem’s tax appeal, and the bankruptcy court still must determine how much, if any, of the delinquent 2001 and 2002 taxes Bethlehem must pay.

The county rejected the Boone Grove landfill, but the case remains pending in a state court. Toll Road officials have yet to finalize the new barrier plans, picking a preferred site near the Porter-LaPorte County Line but not totally giving up on the Jackson Township site, either. And Porter residents devastated by the loss of their cherished town hall are looking ahead to the 2003 town elections as an epilogue in the town hall saga.

January

The Indiana General Assembly opens its 2002 legislative session, expected to focus on the three Rs: revenue, reassessment, and restructuring. The Porter County Community Foundation awards a $10,000 grant to the Porter County Park Foundation for the purchase of 19 acres of wetland located west of 11th Street in Chesterton and owned by the Duneland YMCA. Chesterton High School senior and McDonald’s employee Joshua Jacobs carries the Olympic Torch in South Bend.

The Northern Indiana Public Service Company files a petition with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission seeking to separate its electric and natural gas businesses into two distinct companies. The CHS debate team wins sweepstakes championship at Ben Davis High School Tournament in Indianapolis. The Board of Trustees of Porter Memorial Health System approves rate increase of 8 percent.

The Duneland School Board endorses a $125,000 grant awarded to the Parents as Teachers program by the Discovery Alliance. Longtime Porter resident Carl H. Wagner dies at 87. Members of the Porter Town Council vote 3-1 to give themselves a raise of $850 per year or nearly 20 percent.

Save the Dunes Council endorses a proposed joint visitor center serving both Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission. CHS senior Kyle Stocks receives Eagle Scout Award. The 219 area code is split into three area codes: 219 in Northwest Indiana, 574 in North Central Indiana, and 260 in Northeast Indiana.

The Interlocal Government Cooperative files an objection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court to bankrupt Bethlehem Steel Corporation’s plan to distribute $9 million in incentive bonuses to selected salaried employees. CHS seniors Kevin Kearney, Courtney Lambert, and Aubree Norris are chosen to perform in all-state honor ensembles at the convention of the Indiana Music Educators Association in Indianapolis. Transit Group Inc. of Atlanta, the parent company of KAT Inc., files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board releases its report on the double-fatal flash fire Feb. 2, 2001, at Bethlehem Steel Burns Harbor Division: the incident was preventable. The nation’s largest minimill, NuCor Corporation, endorses a federal bailout of integrated steel mills’ legacy costs. NIPSCO announces the closure of 12 field offices in its service area and the cutting of an unspecified number of jobs.

Bethlehem Steel President and CEO Robert “Steve” Miller Jr. says that the company has enough cash to sustain operations through the end of the year. U.S. Steel announces an agreement with NKK Corporation of Japan, the parent company of National Steel Corporation, for the option to purchase National. Democrat leaders in the Indiana House are reported to be refusing to hear any version of a Porter County emergency loan bill unless it’s embedded in one of Gov. O’Bannon’s tax bills.

Kmart Corporation files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The Duneland School Corporation faces the possibility having to slash $3.8 million from its General Fund if the General Assembly fails to approve a Porter County emergency loan bill by Feb. 15, the deadline by which the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance may certify school budgets and tax rates. The Porter Town Council chooses Harrison & Associates of Chicago to project the cost of renovating the town hall.

CHS Assistant Principal James Thorne is named the new principal of Liberty Intermediate School. Chesterton Utility Service Board agrees in principle to the creation of a conservancy district to serve a proposed subdivision in Liberty Township, dubbed Damon Run. Bethlehem Steel reports a net loss of $547 million for the fourth quarter of 2001 and a net loss of $1.950 billion for the year.

The Porter County Commissioners agree to draft plan for shutting down agencies and laying off employees, in anticipation of running out of money prior to the receipt of the first installment of property-tax revenues in April or May. The Indiana House Ways and Means Committee lumps a version of a Porter County emergency loan bill into a state-wide tax package, almost guaranteeing that the emergency loan will not be finalized in the House until the end of the legislative session in March. The Indiana Senate Finance Committee rescues a Porter County emergency loan by unanimously approving its own version of a bill, raising the possibility that that version could be approved in the House as a stand-alone bill.

Porter Assistant Police Chief Jim Menn is chosen by a Democrat caucus to take the seat on the Town Council of the retired Eugene Bodnar. The police officers, firefighters, and EMS personnel of Duneland are honored by the Duneland Chamber of Commerce as its Citizens of the Year, while Chesterton Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg receives its Community Service Award and Mary Jean Greene is named its Volunteer of the Year. The Chesterton Town Council annexes a seven-acre parcel located on the north side of Indian Boundary Road and immediately east of a parcel owned by Tom Roberts and known as the Pumpkin Patch.

Harry Reed Wilson Ray, former Chesterton resident and Postmaster, dies at 81. All Porter County employees receive notification that they may be subject to layoff in the next three months. Loretta Q. Vernier, 60, Pines resident and co-owner of Vernier China, dies in a two vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 20.

NiSource Inc. reports earnings of 33 cents per basic share and a net income of $66.9 million for the fourth quarter of 2001 and earnings of $1.05 per basic share and $216.2 million for the year. Chesterton resident Ray Carnes’ campaign to raise money for the Chesterton Police Department to purchase four automated external defibrillators is successful. The Indiana Senate votes unanimously to approve its version of a Porter County emergency loan bill. The Duneland Health and Wellness Institute opens.

February

NIPSCO denies that its proposal to separate its electric and natural gas businesses into two separate companies is a prelude to the sale of the electric operation. The Indiana House unanimously approves a resolution which calls on the Department of Local Government Finance to delay the certification of tax rates by one month, to buy time for Porter County taxing units hurt by the Bethlehem Steel bankruptcy. The Duneland School Board chooses Nick Jurasevich to fill the vacancy on the board left by the death of Dawn Rogers in December.

The Sandpipers, the CHS mixed show choir, wins the Grand Champion award at the Midwest Classic in Danville, Ill. The CHS debate team successfully defends its championship title at the State Tournament in Indianapolis: in policy team John Jernigan and Seren Orgel win first place and Maggie Hurley and Tamara Carnahan finish third; in congressional Owen Sutkowski finishes sixth; and in Lincoln-Douglas Francesca Smith finishes third. Jeanne Hayes, director of Positive Life for the Duneland School Corporation, announces her resignation.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management requests the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to put groundwater contamination in the Town of Pines on a list of the nation’s worst polluted areas, in what would be Porter County’s first Superfund designation. Hazell Hannell, painter and potter who worked for decades in a Furnessville studio, dies at 106. The LaPorte District of the Indiana Department of Transportation unveils preliminary designs for a grade-separated interchange at the intersection of Ind. 49 and Indian Boundary Road.

Bethlehem Steel is awarded the contract to supply 40,000 tons of plate over the next three years for construction of five ships at the Kvaerner Philadelphia Shipyard. The CHS debate team qualifies for the National Speech and Debate Tournament, sponsored by the National Forensic League, at Charlotte, N.C. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance announces that it cannot legally delay the certification of tax rates.

The Porter County Council cuts seven county employees, axes 15 vacant positions, and makes several full-time positions part-time. The Porter County Council shelves a “doomsday plan” for a partial government shutdown between March and May when the sum of $800,000 is saved through a combination of unseasonably warm winter weather, a hiring freeze, and the collection of $160,000 in delinquent property taxes. The Chesterton Police Commission honors former member Carroll “Gus” Gustafson, who served the commission for a total of 22 years.

Joe Suchak resigns from the Porter Police Commission after six years. Indiana House Ways and Means Committee Chair Patrick Baur, D-South Bend, says that the House version of a Porter County emergency loan bill may be contingent on the imposition of a county income tax. A Chesterton firm, Porter Development LLC, proposing to place a landfill in Porter Township, seeks a special exception from the Porter County Board of Zoning Appeals; the Porter County Plan Commission completes an inspection committee report on that petition and forwards its unfavorable recommendation to the BZA.

Bob Rhoda is named permanent executive director of the Duneland YMCA. The Porter County Council eliminates funding for the Old Jail Museum and slashes its funding for four social service organizations by 17 percent. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court approves a revised version of Bethlehem Steel’s plan to distribute $9 million in incentive bonuses to selected salaried employees.

The Town of Burns Harbor’s property-tax rate increases 466 percent, Porter County’s 26 percent, the Duneland School Corporation’s 21 percent, and the Westchester Public Library’s 44 percent in the wake of Bethlehem Steel’s bankruptcy. Burns Harbor Marshal Larry Shinneman accepts a position as head of Porter County court security. The Indiana House Ways and Means Committee approves a version of the Porter County emergency loan bill which includes language encouraging the county to adopt an income tax.

The Indiana House unanimously approves its version of a Porter County emergency loan bill. The Porter Town Council votes 3-1 to move the offices of the Clerk-Treasurer and Utility Clerk from the town hall to rented office space at 130 Lincoln St. The Porter County Council agrees to establish the Local Government Funding Study Process Committee to investigate the feasability and desirability of a county income tax.

Some 2,000 people jam a public hearing, convened by the Porter County BZA at the Expo Center, to remonstrate against a petition filed by Porter Development LLC for a special exception which would permit the placement of a landfill in Porter Township; the Porter County BZA tables that petition until its April meeting. Members of the United Steel Workers of America get on the buses and travel to Washington D.C. to urge President Bush to impose tariffs on foreign steel imports. A U.S. Bankruptcy Court approves the sale to WL Ross & Company LLC of the steelmaking assets of the bankrupt LTV for $127 million plus the unspecified cost of environmental liabilities.

March

The cost of a grade-separated interchange at the intersection of Ind. 49 and Indian Boundary Road is estimated at between $33.6 million and $53.6 million, and INDOT postpones the project until two lanes are added to Ind. 49, probably in 2008 or ‘09. National Steel Corporation files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. President Bush imposes three-year tariffs of 8 percent to 30 percent on a range of steel products, while Bethlehem Steel announces a halt to merger talks with U.S. Steel when the latter balks at the company’s legacy costs.

Former CHS student Shawn Rivera, 18, dies of a heroin overdose at PMH after being dropped at the emergency department without identification. CHS senior Courtney Lambert selected to participate in the 42nd annual Indiana All-State High School Band Festival sponsored by the Indiana Bandmasters Association. Duke Energy Inc., headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., expresses interest in acquiring four of NIPSCO’s generating stations.

The Chesterton Kmart is not one of 284 stores, seven of them in Indiana, closed as part of the company’s re-organization plan under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. A cut in the budget of the Porter County Health Department of 13.5 percent is expected to lead to a drop in child immunization and a delay in the federal goal of immunizing all children by age 2. A Indiana Senate conference committee kills an amendment, proposed by State Rep. Ralph Ayres, R-Chesterton, which would have banned new landfills within a mile of public schools that use well water.

The Indiana Senate votes 98-0 and the House 86-1 to approve a final version of a Porter County emergency loan bill, which provides up to $28 million in 10-year loans to taxing units hurt by Bethlehem Steel’s bankruptcy, to be re-paid without interest if the county enacts an income tax or—if it does not—at an interest rate pegged to the Consumer Price Index; Gov. O’Bannon remains mum, however, on whether he will sign the bill into law. The Board of Trustees of the Westchester Public Library agree to apply for no money through the Porter County emergency loan legislation but instead to maintain its austerity program and eke out a $300,000 loan previously obtained through the Department of Commerce. CHS sophomores Brett Norris, Ali Reston, and Chesarae Wheeler win the state title at the Japanese Bowl.

The IURC issues an emergency order preventing NIPSCO from closing five of the 12 district offices previously targeted for closure. The CHS speech team wins the sweepstakes in the district tournament at Plymouth High School and qualifies six for the National Speech and Debate Tournament in Charlotte, N.C. A $25 ticket wins Chesterton resident Michael Roach a $10,000 scholarship in the Duneland School Foundation raffle.

The alley between South Calumet Road and Lois Lane in Chesterton is closed to vehicular traffic. Porter County Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper orders the Porter County BZA to re-open the public hearing on the petition for a special exception which would permit Chesterton firm Porter Development LLC to place a landfill in Porter Township.

The Porter Plan Commission votes unanimously to grant primary subdivision approval for a nine-lot business park being developed by the Lake Erie Land Company at the southeast corner of Ind. 49 and U.S. Highway 20. The LaPorte District of INDOT, unbeknownst to Chesterton officials, approves the placement of a traffic signal at the intersection of Ind. 49 and Oak Hill Road. The buyer of the steelmaking assets of the bankrupt LTV names the newly formed business International Steel Group and says that it expects to resume steel production within two months.

The Chesterton Town Council annexes a 31-acre parcel located at the end of Michael Drive and to the south and west of Wake Robin. The CHS speech team successfully defends it AAA championship title at the State Tournament in Indianapolis: Owen Sutkowski takes first in impromptu speaking, Nathan Whitmer takes first in dramatic interpretation, and John Jernigan wins the James Hawker Scholarship for outstanding forensic accomplishments. The Porter County Solid Waste District appoints Jackson Township resident Therese Davis as its executive director.

Chesterton Fire Chief Warren “Skip” Highwood is named Firefighter of the Year in the State of Indiana by the Indiana Veterans of Foreign Wars. Gov. O’Bannon signs the Porter County emergency loan bill.

April

In its largest pension takeover ever, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation assumes control of the underfunded retirement plans for the 82,000 active and retired employees of the bankrupt LTV. Harrison & Associates of Chicago determines that the cost of renovating the Porter town hall would be $112,400 less than the cost of building a new one of the same size. CHS sophomores Brett Norris, Ali Reston, and Chesarae Wheeler win the National Japan Bowl in Washington, D.C.

The Porter County BZA denies the petition of Chesterton firm Porter Development LLC for a special exception which would have permitted the placement of a landfill in Porter Township. The Porter County Commissioners approve a new group health-insurance plan which will require county employees to pay more to keep the current benefits. Porter County Plan Commission Executive Director Robert Thompson announces his resignation.

CHS freshman Sean Russell receives the Eagle Scout Award. The Burns Harbor Park Board votes unanimously to post “Swim at Your Own Risk” signs at Lakeland Park, after it receives no budget in 2002 in the wake of the Bethlehem Steel bankruptcy and has no money to hire lifeguards. Bethlehem Steel announces its pursuit of a joint venture with Brazilian steelmaker Companhia Siderurgica Nacional.

The Chesterton Fire Department celebrates its centennial anniversary. For the second consecutive year, Chesterton Moose Lodge 1623 wins the State Ritual Team title and qualifies to compete in the international competition in Orlando, Fla. The Duneland School Corporation cuts 11 teachers as part of the effort to offset a $1.6 million shortfall in its 2002 budget, attributed to the state’s funding formula for schools.

Porter residents speak at a public hearing convened by the Town Council on the future of the town hall. The Burns Harbor Town Council votes 3-2 to set the first-ever monthly sanitary sewer rate in the town at $40.75. Ray Katayama, former minister at the Chesterton First United Methodist Church, dies at 77.

Builders and Carpenters LLC, owner of Morgan’s Corner in the Second Addition to Coffee Creek Center, ends the relationship with its construction manager, Calumet Management, and assumes the primary responsibility of overseeing construction itself. NIPSCO petitions the IURC to be allowed to implement clean-coal technology which could lead to an increase in electric rates. The Westchester Public Library closes its DVD collection to circulation due to a rash of thefts.

NiSource reports earnings of $1.18 per basic share and a net income of $242.2 million for the first quarter of 2002 and a reduction of both short- and long-term debt of nearly $750 million. Bids for the expansion of the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant come in roughly $1 million higher than the estimated cost of the project. Bethlehem Steel reports a net loss in the first quarter of 2002 of $97 million. Funding uncertainties prompt the Duneland School Board to vote 4-1 to end the pilot extended-day kindergarten program.

The Porter Town Council votes 3-2 to build a new town hall and to put the old one up for sale; interested parties have 30 days to make a minimum bid of $120,000. Around 350 volunteers working at nine sites make Christmas in April a rousing success despite the rain. Linda Rigg, 58, dies of smoke inhalation in a fire in her Chesterton apartment, the first fatal fire in town in more than 15 years. INDOT announces plans to decommission the Portage barrier of the Indiana Toll Road and relocate it east in the county, in a move which draws protests from Jackson Township residents.

May

Liberty Bible Church celebrates its 75th anniversary. The Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Leadership Committee presents Seagull Scholarships to CHS seniors Kathleen White and Meredith Chase. The Chesterton firm Porter Development LLC claims that the Porter County BZA based its rejection of the firm’s petition for a special exception “solely upon opinion and sentiment” and files a lawsuit in Porter Superior Court.

CHS seniors John Jernigan, Kevin Kearney, Seren Orgel, Michael Pals, Carl Svendsen, Kelly Vogie, and Kathleen White are named 2002 National Merit Scholars. The Duneland Exchange Club names CHS senior Mark Weaver Youth of the Year. Gov. O’Bannon calls the General Assembly back for a special session to work on the state’s urgent fiscal problems.

Indiana Toll Road Director Mike Puro is questioned for three hours by opponents of the plan to relocate the Portage barrier east in the county. CHS senior Michael Pals receives the Indiana Resident Top Scholar Award and full tuition for four years from Purdue University. The Chesterton firm Porter Development LLC seeks another special exception from the Porter County BZA, this one to build a waste transfer station in Union Township, only three months after the BZA rejected a similar petition from a Burns Harbor firm.

In the primary election Democrat Rita Stevenson upsets incumbent Leon West in Porter County Council race, Democrat David Chidester upsets incumbent Bob Kennedy for Porter Superior Court IV race, Republican Nancy Kolasa upsets incumbent Bill Theis in Pine Township Trustee race, Republican Shane Stillman beats Connie Collins for State Senate race, and incumbent State Sen. Rose Ann Antich, D-Merrillville, beats Larry Chubb. The Porter County Commissioners approve an ordinance which restricts all new waste facilities, including landfills and transfer stations, to I-2 and I-3 zones. USWA Local 6787 confirms the rumor that the largest steelmaker in the world, Luxembourg-based Arcelor, is vying for U.S. Steel to acquire a controlling stake in Bethlehem Steel Burns Harbor Division.

The Chesterton BZA votes 3-1 to grant a special exception which will permit Horizon Bank to install a drive-through at its new branch at 423 S. Roosevelt St. in Morgan Park. The former LTV mill in East Chicago begins steel production as International Steel Group. The Porter Town Council votes unanimously to appoint Carol Pomeroy to the Police Commission, to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Joe Suchak.

The Porter County Council allows a special deadline created for the county to pass without imposing an income tax and so forces taxing units which borrow money from the emergency loan enacted by the General Assembly to repay with interest. The Friends of Porter Inc. asks to negotiate an agreement with the Town Council in lieu of making a formal bid on the town hall. CHS seniors Brian Scott and Virginia Hultman are named co-winners of the 20th annual W.R. Canright Outstanding Senior Journalist Award.

The Porter County BZA refuses to hear the petition of the Chesterton firm Porter Development LLC for a special exception which would permit the construction of a waste transfer station in Union Township, and the firm threatens to file a lawsuit. The Chesterton Utility Service Board awards the contract for the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant to Bowen Engineering of Crown Point. The Duneland School Board agrees to scale back summer school courses in response to funding cuts.

WiseWay announces plans to build a new store on the east side of Ind. 49, at the intersection of C.R. 1100N and Pioneer Trail. Bethlehem Steel claims 89 percent abnormal obsolescence in an appeal of its personal property assessment before the Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals. CHS senior Eric Jimenez is honored as a Scholar Finalist in the National Hispanic Recognition Program.

The Girl Scouts of the Calumet Council, which operates Apple Acres camp in Jackson Township, joins the protest against the plans of the Indiana Toll Road to relocate the Portage barrier east in the county. Porter Superior Judge Thomas Webber refuses to dismiss a lawsuit against the Porter County BZA filed by the Chesterton firm Porter Development LLC, and opponents of the firm’s proposal to place a landfill in Porter Township vow to appeal. Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar eyes a site in the Pumpkin Patch on Indian Boundary Road.

For the fourth time in as many years, Porter Memorial Health System loses its chief financial officer, when John Clements announces his resignation. Bonnie Gaston, deputy treasurer of the Duneland School Corporation, is named Treasurer of the Year by the Indiana Association of School Business Officials.

June

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District issues $10 million in short-term bonds to finance the replacement of the 75-year-old electric catenary system which powers the South Shore trains. The Porter Park Board grants the newly-formed dive/rescue team of the Porter Fire Department permission to practice in Pratt Lake. The Porter County Commissioners grant Sheriff Dave Reynolds’ request to house up to 80 federal prisoners per day in the new jail, twice as many as originally planned.

Jackie Gray, the facilities director of the Memorial Opera House, announces her resignation. The 386 graduates of the Class of 2002 of Chesterton High School participate in the school’s 112th commencement exercise. The Porter County Election Board reviews charges of fraud made by two Democrat Voters Registration workers.

The Chesterton Town Council allows a resolution which would have formally recognized Chesterton Local 3151 of the International Association of Firefighters to die for want of a motion. The pork chop at the intersection of South Calumet Road and C.R. 1100N is removed and the ban rescinded on left turns from southbound South Calumet onto eastbound C.R. 1100N. Bethlehem Steel’s stock, first listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1906, is dropped from the NYSE after it fails to comply with the rule which requires a stock not to fall below a closing price of $1 for any 30-day period.

With the installation of a sanitary sewer system proceeding, the Burns Harbor Plan Commission reviews the concept of the first residential subdivision ever proposed in town, dubbed Ironwood by its developer, Cliff Fleming. Hikers raise $1,900 for environmental education programs in the Indiana Dunes State Park Wildflower Wander Hike-A-Thon. Duneland Superintendent H. Stephen Hewlett announces his resignation, effective Dec. 31.

CHS band and orchestra director George Hattendorf announces his resignation. Former Burns Harbor Town Marshal Larry Shinneman and former BHPD dispatchers Hazel Shinneman and Judy Burden file a notice of intent to sue the town for lost pay. Save the Dunes Council celebrates its 50th anniversary. Capt. Mary Wesley of the Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department is honored as the top female firefighter in the state as the 2002 recipient of the Angel Award at the convention of the Indiana Volunteer Firefighter Association in Evansville.

For the second consecutive year, West Nile virus is detected in a dead crow found in Porter County. The Valparaiso Community School Board hired outgoing Duneland Superintendent H. Stephen Hewlett to the post of assistant superintendent for business and technology, effective Jan. 1. The Indiana Toll Road declines to release to Citizens Against Noise and the Toll Road (CANOT) documents related to the proposed relocation of the Portage barrier east in the county.

Chesterton Town Engineer Charlie Ray announces his resignation. The Friends of Porter Inc. offers to buy the town hall for an immediate payment of $37,500 and 80 percent of the net profits after the building has been repaired and sold; the remaining 20 percent of the net profits would be dedicated to a community project chosen jointly by the Friends and the Town Council. The fourth annual Hometown Picnic, sponsored by the Lake Erie Land Company, is held at Coffee Creek Center.

The new Porter County Jail is dedicated. The CHS speech and debate team is one of only 11 schools in the nation to win the Excellence in Speech Award at the National Speech and Debate Tournament, sponsored by the National Forensic League, in Charlotte, N.C.: John Jernigan wins the national championship in foreign extemporaneous; Nathan Whitmer and Joanne Dubach finish fourth in duo interpretation; Tamara Carnahan finishes 11th in House; and Owen Sutkowski finishes 13th in Senate. Chesterton Town Council Rich Whitlow, R-1st, informs his colleagues that he will no longer vote to suspend the rules when enacting an ordinance.

The Indiana General Assembly approves sweeping legislation which restructures the state’s property tax system and increases cigarette, sales, gasoline, and wagering taxes, among others. The Black Cobra tube slide opens at Splash Down Dunes in Porter. Porter Police Chief Len Smith announces a new time for the Independence Day Midnight Parade, 9 p.m. July 3, in the wake of complaints about drinking and concerns about liability.

The Chesterton Town Council votes unanimously to approve a much revised and redacted Town Code. The Duneland YMCA announces a year-long fitness campaign, dubbed “Fit is It,” to begin in July. The Porter County Council authorizes Sheriff Dave Reynolds to use federal funds to hire 11 employees for the new jail.

Michael Henkel offers to buy the Porter town hall for $43,850, only hours before the bidding deadline expires. For the second time the Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club names Bob Rhoda its Rotarian of the Year. Porter Police Chief Len Smith announces that the Independence Day Midnight Parade will proceed at its usual time, 12 a.m. July 4, after Porter VFW Post 2511 assumes liability for the event. Hooligan’s opens in The Factory in Chesterton.

July

St. John’s United Church celebrates the 30th anniversary of the union of the Presbyterian Church of Dunes and St. John’s Church of Christ. CANOT showcases the Girl Scout-operated Apple Acres in Jackson Township, as an example of the stakes involved in the proposal of the Indiana Toll Road to relocate the Portage barrier east in the county. Gov. O’Bannon signs into law the tax-and-budget bill approved by the Indiana General Assembly.

Chesterton Town Council Member Rich Whitlow, R-1st, angers the Park Board by writing a letter to Superintendent Bruce Mathias critical of park conditions. Arthur A. Gardner, 36, of Portage, dies in a one vehicle accident on U.S. 20. United Churches Resale Shop opens at a new location, across and down the street, at 221 N. Calumet Road.

Bethlehem Steel announces the “acceleration” of its efforts to re-structure, including the pursuit of a comprehensive new labor agreement and significant changes in its active and retiree health-care plans. Bethlehem Steel also announces that joint-venture talks will be put on hold at least until the company has negotiated a new labor agreement and can “stand alone” as a going concern. The Porter County Plan Commission votes 7-2 to reject plans for Damon Run, on the grounds that the 191-lot subdivision at Meridian Road and C.R. 900N in Liberty Township would be too dense for the area.

Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper is presented with the Marilyn J. Niequist Memorial Award for her work with troubled youth. The Duneland Chamber of Commerce at last receives a check for $51,999.90 in Build Indiana funds for its community signage program. Roderick Glover of Gary dies when his motorcycle is hit by a car exiting Leroy’s Hot Stuff on U.S. 20 in Porter.

CANOT stages an early-morning protest at the Chesterton exit of the Indiana Toll Road. People in Need of Environmental Safety, Save the Dunes Council, and the Hoosier Environmental Council file notice of intent to sue Brown Inc., the owner of a landfill formerly known as Yard 520, in response to the problem of well-water contamination in the Town of Pines.

Ground breaks on the expansion of the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant. The Duneland School Board rejects for the moment the reinstitution of random drug testing for students in extracurricular activities. A dryer is blamed for a large pole-barn fire in Porter.

The State Budget Agency recalculates a lower interest rate on money borrowed by Porter County taxing units through the emergency loan legislation. The 152nd Porter County Fair opens at the Porter County Fairgrounds. In response to complaints raised by Democrat Voter Registration workers, the Porter County Election Board implements reforms.

The Porter County BZA votes unanimously to reject the petition of Chesterton firm Porter Development LLC for a special exception which would permit the construction of a waste transfer station in Union Township. West Nile virus is found for the first time in mosquitos in Indiana, in Columbus, 40 miles south of Indianapolis. Porter County 4-H celebrates its centennial anniversary.

Hector Santos Jr., 4, of Chesterton, accidentally shoots himself while playing with his father’s handgun but survives. Bethlehem Steel reports a net loss in the second quarter of 2002 of $118.9 million. The 11th Street sidewalk, laid between Porter Ave. and Chestnut Blvd. in Chesterton, is completed, the last major project in a combined re-paving/sidewalk package financed by an issue in 2001 of $900,000 in general obligation bonds.

Coffee Creek Center is named one of the 26 most “innovative” communities in the world by the Urban Land Institute. The Porter Town Council votes 3-2 to reject the two bids submitted to buy the town hall and to demolish it. The Porter County Council approves a resolution opposing the relocation of the Portage barrier of the Indiana Toll Road east in the county and urging the state to eliminate the concept of the barrier altogether.

NiSource reports earnings of 12 cents per basic share and a net income of $25 million for the second quarter of 2002. Sue Edds receives the Athena Award and Al Nelson the Senior Service Award from the Duneland Chamber of Commerce. The Porter Town Council approves a route for the link between the Prairie Duneland Trail and the Calumet Trail.

August

The 44th annual Chesterton Art Fair is held at Hawthorne Park in Porter. Porter Superior Court Judge Thomas Webber announces his resignation, effective Dec. 1. The Indiana Toll Road reveals its preferred site for a new barrier to be in LaPorte County, just east of the county line.

CHS Assistant Principal Barbara Spencer is named 2002 Assistant Principal of the Year for District 1 by the Indiana Association of School Principals. The Chesterton branch of Horizon Bank is robbed. The Post-Tribune gives credence to a silly and virtually-on-the-face-of-it fabricated rumor that Ozzy Osbourne intends to attend the 2002 Wizard of Oz Festival in Chesterton.

The Duneland School Board agrees to postpone raises to administrators, teachers, and non-certified staff until 2003. The Chesterton Town Council declines to act on the request of the Park Board to replace its liaison, Member Rich Whitlow, R-1st. Suspects in the robbery of the Chesterton branch of Horizon Bank are arrested in connection with the robbery of Alliance Bank in Michigan City.

The long-planned renovation of Thomas Centennial Park in Chesterton begins. NIPSCO officially commissions an innovative natural-gas fired microturbine system at the Hilton Garden Inn at Coffee Creek Center. The Chesterton Fire Department holds a street dance to celebrate its centennial anniversary, while the Town Council declares the week of Aug. 10-17 Fire Chief Warren “Skip” Highwood Week and proclaims Chesterton’s volunteer firefighters to be “hometown heroes.”

Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana vows to make a last-ditch effort to save the Porter town hall from demolition. Some 70 Porter residents, braving rain, rally to save the town hall before a regularly scheduled Town Council meeting. The Indiana Toll Road unveils plans for a new 14-lane barrier to be located just east of the Porter/LaPorte county line.

Luis A. Mendoza, 31, of East Chicago, dies in a two vehicle accident on U.S. 20 in Porter. Harold Bower Harris Jr., former assistant principal at CHS and head of the Mathematics Department, dies at 72. Duneland Assistant Superintendent Dirk Baer is named new superintendent, effective Jan. 1, to replace the outgoing H. Stephen Hewitt.

Porter Memorial Health System agrees to review its abortion policy at the request of Porter County Right to Life. Bethlehem Steel makes a “multi-million” dollar investment in the No. 2 castor at Burns Harbor Division. The Chesterton branch of Horizon bank is robbed again.

Chesterton celebrates the 150th anniversary of the founding of Calumet, later re-named Chesterton. The Chesterton Town Council votes unanimously to appoint Mark O’Dell to the combined position of Town and Utility Engineer. Save the Dunes Council and the Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America join the opposition to the proposal of the Indiana Toll Road to relocate the Portage barrier to a site just east of the Porter/LaPorte county line.

Bethlehem Steel announces the permanent closure of its large-diameter pipe mill, a unit of its subsidiary, Pennsylvania Steel Technologies. Kay Peckat, 51, a teller at the Pines branch of the First State Bank of Porter, is shot to death, and Chandler Simpson, 59, also a employee of the bank, and Keith Hill, 38, a guard, are critically wounded in a botched robbery attempt. A new $5 million dock is opened at the Port of Indiana in Portage and a new director of the Port, Steve Mosher, is named in a ceremony attended by Gov. O’Bannon.

Virgil A. Hokanson, a life-long Chesterton resident and a community leader, dies at 88. The Lake Erie Land Company is not going out of business, its president, Jerry Mobley, is not retiring, and its relationship with the Duneland Chamber of Commerce is just fine, Mobley tells the Chamber membership at a luncheon. Security is tight as 3,000 people attend Electro-Fest 2K2 at the Porter County Expo Center, far fewer than promoters expected.

September

Donald “Doc” Whisler, Porter Building Commissioner and member of the Plan Commission, is named Porter Citizen of the Year at the Taste of Porter. Four people are charged in connection with the fatal botched robbery of the Pines branch of the First State Bank of Porter: O’Dell Corley, 37, of Michigan City, who police say was the shooter; Edward Johnson, 30, of Rochester, Ind.; Jeana Ramsey, 30, of Rochester; and Andre “Pee Wee” McGregor, 28, of Michigan City. Arthur Forest Wells Jr., former Duneland community leader, dies at 83.

A fifth person is charged in connection with the fatal botched robbery at the Pine branch of the First State Bank of Porter: Donyass Arlene Gay, 22, of Michigan City. Jennifer and Hector Santos Sr., parents of the 4-year-old Chesterton boy who accidentally shot himself while playing with his father’s gun, are charged with neglect of a dependent. Eleven contractors submit bids for the demolition of the Porter town hall.

Michael L. Hineline, 36, a resident of Jackson Township, is charged with reckless homicide after police say he ran into a 6-year-old Washington Township girl, Mary Ross, on a motorcycle. In a simple ceremony the Chesterton Fire Department honors the 453 firefighters, police officers, and paramedics who died at the World Trade Center on the one-year anniversary of Sept. 11; later in the evening, the CFD leads a candle-light service in Thomas Centennial Park. The Porter Town Council votes 3-2 to award the contract for the demolition of the town hall to Champion Environmental of Crown Point, which submitted the low bid of $38,500.

High-profile attorney Ken Allen is suspended from practicing law for 90 days after the Indiana Supreme Court finds him in violation of the rules of professional conduct. The CHS Trojan Guard marching band takes second place in Class A competition at the Tournament of Dreams at Knox High School. The Friends of Porter Inc. obtains a temporary restraining order and seeks a preliminary injunction from Porter Superior Judge Roger Bradford in an 11th-hour attempt to save the town hall.

Ground breaks on a new building which will expand the services of Hilltop Neighborhood House in Valparaiso. The Porter County Commissioners declined to sell the former county home but set Nov. 20 as the date for the auction of the old jail. CHS seniors Michelle Forszt, Angela Linsemeyer, and Mia Fioritto are semi-finalists in the 2003 National Merit Scholarship competition.

The Porter Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees holds a public forum on the hospital’s abortion policy at the Memorial Opera House. At the request of State Rep. Ralph Ayres, R-Chesterton, the Northwest Indiana Transportation Study Commission agrees to investigate the proposal of the Indiana Toll Road to relocate the Portage barrier. The 21st annual Wizard of Oz Festival is held in Chesterton.

Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford denies the petition of the Friends of Porter Inc. for a preliminary injunction, dissolves a temporary restraining order, and clears the way for the demolition of the town hall. INDOT awards $500,000 in transportation enhancement funds to the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission for a new visitor center to be located at the southeast corner of Ind. 49 and U.S. 20. The IURC approves a settlement under which NIPSCO will credit customers’ bills at least $225 million over 49 months, for an approximate annual savings to the average residential customer of $50.

The Porter Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees votes 4-3 to permit elective abortions and certain physician-approved abortions through the second trimester, as Porter County Right to Life vows to file a complaint with the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. At a ribbon-cutting ceremony the renovated Calumet Trail is dedicated. Porter residents bid farewell to the town hall in a final opportunity to walk through the building.

The Porter link between the Prairie Duneland Trail and the Calumet Trail does not receive a requested $900,000 in transportation enhancement funds from INDOT. Demarco McGhee, 38, of Gary, sustains fatal injuries when he loses control of his motorcycle while trying to avoid an oncoming vehicle on U.S. 12 in Westchester Township.

October

Jason D. Varney, 23, of Valparaiso, dies in a one vehicle accident on U.S. 20 in Porter. Lawrence R. Wendt, 50, of Michigan City, dies when his motorcycle collides with another vehicle on U.S. 12 in Porter, in the third fatal accident in as many days in Westchester Township. The Porter County Council lifts the hiring freeze to allow the Health Department to fill four vacancies as well as makes funds available to restore most of the cuts in the child immunization program.

The Porter County Park Board recommits itself to the construction of a new barn at Sunset Hill Farm. Inmates of the old Porter County Jail are moved to the new jail under tight security. The Porter town hall is demolished.

The Duneland School Corporation releases the numbers on expulsions in the 2001-02 school year: 32 students were expelled, 14 fewer than in the previous school year. Arcelor CEO Guy Dolles tells the Financial Times Deutschland that his company decided against pursing a joint venture with Bethlehem Steel Burns Harbor Division because legacy costs would have proved too burdensome. The CHS Trojan Guard takes top honors in Class A competition at the Blue Jay Marching Band Invitational at North Judson-San Pierre High School; the Trojan Guard also wins awards for Best Musical Achievement, Best Visual Achievement, and Outstanding Auxiliary Performance.

CHS sophomore David Corso wins the Eagle Scout Award. William H. Crockett, former assistant superintendent of the Duneland School Corporation, dies at 70. CHS debate team sweeps all three divisions at the Indianapolis Invitational Tournament at Breubeuf Jesuit Prep School.

The Chesterton Fire Department wins the Life Safety Achievement Award, presented by the Residential Fire Safety Institute to communities free of fire deaths in the previous calendar year. The Chesterton Town Council votes 4-0 to reject a resolution which would have formally recognized the existence of Chesterton Local 3151 of the International Association of Firefighters, then 4-0 to approve a resolution which “recognizes and appreciates” all town employees. Angel Gochee of Porter, a volunteer at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park, is the recipient of the 2002 Outstanding Interpretive Volunteer Award presented by the National Association of Interpretation.

CHS seniors Jenny Starcevich and Francesca Smith are recipients of the Achievement Award in Writing by the National Council of Teachers of English. Russell A. Willis Jr., former Porter Superior Court Judge, dies at 80. Margaret Larson, Chesterton resident, first-grade teacher to three generations of Dunelanders, author, pre-school founder, and Duneland’s venerable historian, dies at 102.

Bethlehem Steel reports a net loss of $54 million in the third quarter of 2002. The Porter Town Council votes 3-1 to issue $400,000 in revenue bonds to build, equip, and furnish a new town hall. NIPSCO projects an increase of 45 percent in natural gas prices this winter.

The State Board of Accounts orders Pine Township Trustee Bill Theis to repay $5,558 in township funds which it says he used for personal reasons in 2000 and 2001. The National Forensic League ranks CHS speech and debate team eighth in the nation and names CHS graduate John Jernigan an NFL All-American after he finished his senior year as the top-ranked NFL student in the nation. Melissa K. Anderson, 16, of Porter, dies of injuries sustained in a one vehicle accident on C.R. 50W in Liberty Township. NiSource reports earnings of 11 cents per basic share and a net income of $23.2 million in the third quarter of 2002.

The Chesterton Town Council votes 4-0 to approve the Pumpkin Patch planned unit development. The Duneland Economic Development Company, the not-for-profit arm of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, pitches the idea of a French market franchise to the Chesterton Town Council. Dave Wagner of Wagner’s Ribs signs a lease with the United Tractor Company to lease the old factory on 15th Street in Chesterton; he intends to move his barbecue sauce bottling operation into a portion of the factory and sublease the rest.

November

City Savings Bank, formerly Michigan City Savings and Loan, announces plans to establish a Chesterton branch at the Pumpkin Patch. Bethlehem Steel and International Steel Group, the buyer of LTV’s steelmaking assets earlier in the year, enter into a 60-day exclusive due-diligence agreement which could lead to ISG’s purchase of some or all of Bethlehem’s assets. Chesterton Middle School is fully accredited by the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement.

Porter County voters split the ticket on Election Day: Democrat incumbent Larry Sheets, recovering from leukemia, beats Karen Martin in the race for Porter County Commissioner; Democrat incumbent Dave Reynolds beats Det. Sgt. Susan Resteau of the Porter County Sheriff’s Police in race for Sheriff; Republican incumbent Jim Douglas beats Dan Whitten in the race for Prosecuting Attorney; Democrat Bob Poparad beats incumbent Barb Stroud in the race of Porter County Council; Democrat David Chidester beats Dolores Aylesworth in the race for Porter Superior Court IV; Republican Nancy Kolasa beats Steven Lewis in the race for Pine Township Trustee; Republican incumbent Dale Brewer beats Hubert Hoffman in the race for Clerk.

The Porter Town Council votes 3-2 to accept the $699,000 bid of Fitzwater Inc. of Crown Point to build a new 5,000 square-foot town hall on the site of the old one. INDOT awards $944,000 in transportation enhancement funds to Porter for the link between the Prairie Duneland Trail and the Calumet Trail. Chandler Simpson, 59, shot in the head during the fatal botched robbery of the Pines branch of the First State Bank of Porter, dies of infection related to his wound.

A handsome four-side clock on a decorative pole is installed in Thomas Centennial Park. A committee proposes the merger of the Porter County Parks and Recreation Department, the Expo Center, the Memorial Opera House, and the Old Jail Museum into a single entity under the aegis of the Porter County Park Board. State Sen. Bill Alexa, D-Valparaiso, is appointed by Gov. O’Bannon to fill the vacancy in Porter Superior Court II created by the retirement of Thomas Webber.

The Chesterton Town Council votes unanimously to approve a 2003 Salary Ordinance which does not grant the standard $1,000 across-the-board raise to town employees, although it does provide for a longevity bonus of $75 per year of employment. The Burns Harbor Town Council honors Burns Harbor resident Jerry Ruge and Chesterton Tribune motor carrier Julie Orlich for saving the life of Burns Harbor resident Cary Christopher by waking him when they saw smoke coming from his attached garage. The Duneland School Board agrees to begin charging non-resident students who transfer to Duneland next year a fee of up to $300.

James L. Collins, 67, of Liberty Township, dies in a two vehicle accident in Jackson Township. Bethlehem Steel slashes its remaining salaried workforce at corporate headquarters in Bethlehem, Pa., by 20 percent. Jennifer and Hector Santos Sr., parents of the 4-year-old Chesterton boy who accidentally shot himself with his father’s handgun, plead not guilty to a charge of neglect of a dependent.

The Duneland Chamber of Commerce ponders a change in its name and its mission. The old Porter County Jail is auctioned to George Dovellos of Schererville and his brothers William and Gus for $320,000, but the future of the building remains uncertain. In response to a query from Julie Wheeland, president of Porter County Right to Life, the Porter Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees say that they are unaware of any abortion performed at the hospital which ever resulted in a live birth.

The First Christian Church of Chesterton holds its 14th annual free community Thanksgiving meal. The public is welcomed to the groundbreaking for the new Porter town hall. CMS seventh-graders Chelsea Gustafson, Frank Filippini, Aaron Dittmann, Claire Forszt, Holly Brady, Sam Larimer, Kevin Russell, Walter Helminski, Elise Bayer, and Steven Holbrook place first in the state out of 16 seventh-grade teams and third in the state out of 41 seventh- and eighth-grade teams at the Indiana Thinking Cap Quiz Bowl. Randal E. Moehl, 47, of Hobart, dies in an accident at Bethlehem Steel Burns Harbor Division, when he is struck by a remote-controlled hot-metal sub car.

December

The Porter Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees endorses a proposal to enlarge the board from seven to nine members as well as a proposal to ask the Porter County Commissioners to condemn land associated with the expansion of the Valparaiso Surgical Center. The Chesterton Hometown Christmas Parade draws hundreds of spectators. Bethlehem Steel, International Steel Group, and Ispat Inland Inc., alleging that NIPSCO is overcharging them to make up for the cost of electricity which it’s been forced to buy since closing the Dean H. Mitchell Generating Station, demand a refund in a complaint filed with the IURC.

Julie Holmaas, chief of interpretation and education at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, announces her retirement. Ruge & Sons Meat in Liberty Township, a third-generation business and an institution in Duneland for 56 years, burns to the ground in a fire blamed on a faulty incinerator. The Chesterton branch of Horizon Bank moves to 423 S. Roosevelt St. in Morgan Park.

The CHS Music Department presents its 30th annual Madrigal Dinners. Ira Hayes Sr., 69, of Gary, is struck and killed by a forklift at the Port of Indiana in Portage. The IURC expresses concern about the proposed sale of American Water Works, the parent company of Indiana-American Water Company, to RWE AG/Thames, a German holding company.

The Chesterton Town Council appoints some new faces to municipal boards: Steve Yagelski to the Plan Commission, Mark Acevedo to the BZA, Jim Ton (after a hiatus) to the Police Commission, and John Kroft to the Park Board. CMS Principal Jim Ton is designated chair-elect to the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. Some 71 percent of CHS sophomores pass the ISTEP this year, compared to 67 percent last year.

The Burns Harbor Town Council signs the sale, operation, and service agreements governing the town’s long-awaited purchase of the Bethlehem Steel Burns Harbor Division wastewater treatment plant, then submits those agreements to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for approval. Marianna Halina Shedlock buys the Country Cafe in Chesterton. The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission is re-certified in its triennial review by the Federal Transit Administration.

The New York Stock Exchange delists Kmart common stock after its average closing share price falls below $1 for a 30-day period. Chesterton Tribune reporter Kevin Nevers wins third place in the Best General Columnist category in the Better Newspaper Contest sponsored by the Hoosier State Press Association; the Tribune competes with daily newspapers with circulations of 8,000 or less. The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation announces its intention to terminate the pension plan of the bankrupt Bethlehem Steel and to assume responsibility for payment of pension benefits to the company’s 95,000 workers and retirees, in the largest takeover in the agency’s 28-year history.

The badly decomposed body of Robert Verboom, 50, is found in his trailer at the Whispering Sands Mobile Home Park in Liberty Township. The Porter County Commissioners authorize Pine Township Trustee/Assessor-Elect Nancy Kolasa to open a new township office on U.S. Highway 12 in Beverly Shores. The Porter Town Council approves a 5 percent raise for town employees in 2003—excepting members themselves—and appoints Leon West, a resident of Portage and the chair of the Porter County Democrat Party, as town representative to the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission.

Orlando, Fla., resident Chad Henry, 20, is charged with murder in connection with the death of Liberty Township resident Robert Verboom. A Democrat caucus selects Nancy Dembowski to fill the 5th District State Senate seat vacated when Bill Alexa was appointed by Gov. O’Bannon to fill the bench vacated when Porter Superior Court Judge Thomas Webber retired.

International Steel Group reaches a tentative six-year labor agreement with the United Steel Workers of America. Bethlehem Lutheran Church celebrates Christmas in its new sanctuary. An unexpectedly heavy Christmas Eve snow blankets Duneland. Quentin Tallent, 24, of Elwood, Ind., dies while incarcerated at the Porter County Jail.

 

Posted 12/31/2002