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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.