Chesterton Tribune

Year in Review: Construction projects highlighted 2010 in Duneland

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By KEVIN NEVERS

Call 2010 the Year of the Big Dig.

Holes opened everywhere in Duneland, as eagerly awaited construction projects finally broke ground, sanitary-sewer projects introduced detouring motorists to parts of their community they’d never seen before, and plain old road work made getting into and out of the Tri-Towns an experience every bit as satisfying as crossing an Iron Curtain frontier.

Item: Earth finally turned in July on Porter hospital’s new $255-million, 104-acre, 225-bed facility at the northwest corner of Ind. 49 and U.S. Highway 6 in unincorporated Liberty Township. Litigation brought by the Liberty Landowners Association delayed the project by months and the scheduled completion date is now the summer of 2012, one year later than the date stipulated in the agreement under which the Porter County Commissioners sold Porter Health System to Community Health Systems Inc. of Franklin, Tenn., in May 2007. But stay tuned. The Chesterton Town Council—puzzled by Porter hospital’s decision to flow its wastewater to the Damon Run Conservancy District, rather than to the Chesterton Utility, a far cheaper alternative in the council’s opinion—has opted to intervene in Damon Run’s petition before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commis-sion and see what the IURC has to say about the matter.

Item: St. Anthony Memorial Health Center also stuck a shovel in the dirt this year, in October, commencing work on its $22 million freestanding ER department on the site of the old Jewel/Osco on Indian Boundary Road. The facility will include 12 beds, three triage rooms, and an on-site ambulance, will create 75 new full-time positions, and will be manned around the clock by board-certified ER physicians. Expected completion date: November 2011.

Item: In August the Indiana Department of Transportation began reconstruction of the Ind. 49 bridge over U.S. Highway 20, Phase I of the $30-million Gateway to the Dunes project, spearheaded by the Town of Porter. The Gateway—which when finished will feature a 10-foot hike/bike trail along Ind. 49 from Indiana Dunes State Park—will likely trace a course along the Orchard Pedestrian Way and terminate in the area of Woodlawn Ave. and Waverly Road, where ideally the Town of Chesterton will feed it into the Downtown and on its way south to Hebron as the Dunes-Kankakee Trail. The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority has provided $1.8 million in initial funding for the Gateway while U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, secured a $500,000 earmark for it.

Item: Work also began in June on the Town of Chesterton’s new municipal facility at 116 N. 15th St., former site of United Tractor. The complex—total cost around $2.615 million, financed by a bond issue of just under $2 million and with Major Moves funds—will include a salt-storage building, a cold-storage building, and the main building, where Stormwater, Engineering, Economic Development, and Parks and Recreation will all make their headquarters.

Meanwhile, long-planned sewer and road work—and some unplanned emergencies—turned Duneland for most of the summer and fall into a maze of detours and dead ends: a new force main and a re-line on West Porter Ave.; a separation on South Calumet Road; the re-paving of the Downtown and of stretches of 11th Street, Wabash Ave., and West Porter Ave.; the reconstruction of the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and Ind. 149 and the upgrade of the CSX grade-crossing just south of Old Porter Road; a sink hole at the intersection of West Porter Ave. and Eighth Street; a failed sanitary line beneath Coffee Creek Bridge along East Porter Ave.; and a series of water main “pops” along Broadway. Complica-ting nearly every project’s time line was a strike in June by Teamsters Local 142.

But perhaps the best is yet to come. The Chesterton Utility Service Board postponed the Downtown sewer replacement—once again—until the spring of 2011. That project will close South Calumet Road between West Indiana Ave. and the Norfolk Southern grade-crossing.

On the bright side, the South Calumet District project came to an end after two years of work and the old Triangle—now an efficient trapezoid—is now a highly appealing and much safer entrance into town.

The Economy

The year opened with a steady trickle of bad news on the economic front. A sampling: ridership on the South Shore commuter line fell by 7 percent in 2009 due to the recession (at year’s end NICTD was projecting a $1.7 million deficit in 2011, despite a 2-percent across-the-board fare increase enacted for this year and next); the volume of tourists in Porter County similarly fell by 5 percent in 2009 (most of the decrease was in business travel); and sheriff’s sales on foreclosures jumped by 21 percent, to 731 from 603 in 2008 (including the sheriff’s sale of Splash Down Dunes water park in Porter).

More bad news would follow. U.S. Steel Corporation reported four consecutive net losses, for the fourth quarter of 2009 through the third of 2010; ArcelorMittal, however, was back in the black this year. And in May a funding crisis prompted Portage Adult Education to close the Chesterton center and 19 other satellites, although in August the centers re-opened through the joint efforts of the Regional Adult Education Consortium and the Center for Workforce Innovation.

Of particular interest, the Duneland School Corporation projected in January that it would lose $1.3 million in state funding in 2010—after Gov. Daniels ordered cuts—and began to plan accordingly. While the Indiana Department of Education advised school corporations to meet their shortfalls by increasing class sizes, cutting pay, and outsourcing bus driving and custodial work, the Duneland School Corporation went about things slightly differently: early retirement incentives were offered to teachers—Chesterton Middle School Principal Jim Ton was one among many who took advantage of the offer—the director positions for the Alternative School and the Positive Life Program were eliminated, summer-school fees were increased by 108 percent, and mandatory one-week furloughs for all year-round employees were ordered.

Yet in places there was light at the end of the tunnel. After yo-yoing over the first half of the year, the unemployment rates in Porter County and Chesterton began to show signs of stabilizing: Porter County joblessness was 9.9 percent in January but had dropped to 8.2 percent in November; Chesterton joblessness was 10 percent in January but had fallen three full points to 7.0 percent in November, the lowest rate in the region.

In May, ArcelorMittal also announced that Blast Furnace D at its Burns Harbor facility, idled since September 2008, would be returned to service; then, in June, the company announced $138 million in capital improvements to its U.S. facilities including an upgrade of the 160-inch plate mill at Burns Harbor.

And in March the Porter Redevelopment Commission crystallized plans for The Porter Brickyard, a mixed-use development featuring senior housing.

Politics

Another top story of the year wasn’t written until Nov. 2, when Republicans went to the polls in droves and Democrats in drips and drabs (relatively speaking, of course: turnout was still only 42.76 percent). It was a blowout: the GOP swept every countywide race but one, that of Sheriff Dave Lain, who managed not to drown in the red tide and win re-election.

Wearing a big old target on his back was Porter County Commissioner Bob Harper, D-Center, who fought and lost a bitter race to his Republican opponent, Nancy Adams. The largely unstated theme of the race: Harper’s opposition to the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority, which earned him the ire not only of business interests but—crucial to his defeat—of some unions as well. The race generated intense interest around the county, at least partially due to a series of occasionally misleading anti-Harper mailers “authorized and paid for” by a group calling itself “Valparaiso Republicans.” Adams herself never wholly disavowed the content of the mailers but she appears not to have been personally responsible for them.

If Republican candidates did well in the countywide “department head” races, however, they had no success whatsoever in Duneland’s state and federal legislative races. Every single incumbent Democrat prevailed: State Sen. Karen Tallian, State Rep. Charles “Chuck” Moseley, State Rep. Charlie Brown, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, and U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly.

Meanwhile, in February, Congressman Visclosky was cleared of any wrongdoing by the U.S. House Committee on Standards of Professional Conduct in connection with his relationship with a defunct Washington, D.C., lobbying firm, The PMA Group. But PMA founder Paul Magliocchetti did plead guilty in September to federal charges of making hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegal campaign contributions since 2003.

Transitions

Some notable comings and goings in 2010:

•After nearly 20 years in the position, George Nelson retired as Chief of Police in the Town of Chesterton. Lt. Dave Cincoski was named his successor and Cincoski immediately launched a campaign to raise funds for a K-9 unit. In November two German shepherds—Job and Igor—joined the department.

•Porter County Coroner Vicki Deppe announced her resignation to take a nursing position. A Democratic caucus elected Robert Schulte to succeed Deppe but Schulte was unable to win election to the office in his own right in November.

•U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., opted not to seek a third term.

•Both the CHS speech and debate teams took the state title, while Tyler Fabbri won the national championship in extemporaneous speaking at the NFL tourney in Kansas City, Mo.

•Tom Anderson resigned as executive-director of Save the Dunes after more than 20 years in the position. Nicole Kamins was later named Anderson’s successor.

•The Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club celebrated its 50th anniversary.

•The vast majority of the remaining “lease-back” houses—formally known as “reservations of use”—expired at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, ending a long chapter in the park’s 40-year history.

•The Discovery Charter Schools opened its doors, and Duneland Superintendent Dirk Baer blamed a drop in enrollment for the 2010-11 school year on Discovery.

•Illinois developer James Gierczyk, who was supposed to breathe new life into Coffee Creek Center as a partner of the Lake Erie Land Company, was sued by LEL and numerous other creditors in Indiana and Illinois.

•There were no tornados in Duneland this year and only one—minor—flood.

January

The creation of the Guzek family of Porter is voted the most popular in the Sugar Plum Visions Gingerbread House Exhibition at the Chesterton Art Center. AP reports: ridership on the South Shore commuter line fell by 7 percent in 2009 due to the recession. A lake-effect snow storm closes Duneland Schools.

The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission holds a three-hour workshop to discussion revisions of the Comprehensive Plan, in attempt to balance economic development with quality of life. Michael Kies, 35, of Hammond, dies in an explosion at the Beta Steel facility at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor. The Duneland School Corporation projects that it will lose $1.3 million in state funding in 2010 due to cuts ordered by Gov. Daniels.

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) makes the rounds in Duneland, visiting town councils and looking for municipal support, while a majority on the Porter County Council seek to withdraw the county from the RDA. A man attempts to rob the Chesterton branch of Chase Bank at 105 W. Indiana Ave.; the same man is suspected of robbing the Hebron branch of 1st Source Bank later the same day.

Steve Brickner resigns from the Chesterton Police Commission over policy differences with some members of the Town Council. Save the Dunes Council and Save the Dunes Conservation Fund formally merge to create “Save the Dunes.” The Northwest Indiana Forum voices its opposition to a plan to close the Chicago shipping locks in an effort to slow the spread of the Asian carp into the Great Lakes.

Porter Clerk-Treasurer Carol Pomeroy breaks a tie on the Town Council to name Joe Wagner to the Police Commission. Thousands are feared dead in a massive earthquake in Haiti; Dunelanders respond by donating money and goods for relief. The Indiana Department of Education names Jackson Elementary School a Four-Star School, the state’s highest ranking, based on test scores and attendance rates.

George Nelson resigns as Chesterton Chief of Police, after nearly 20 years in that position; he is promoted to Captain and remains with the CPD. Healthcare reform is a hot topic when U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, holds a town meeting in Chesterton; the crowd of around 150 is on the whole polite. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., brokers a meeting between Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Constantine Dillon, Save the Dunes, and other interested parties to “explore constructive dialogue on the future of Chellberg Farm as a ‘living history’ farm, but the National Lakeshore has no plans in 2010 to return animals to the farm.

Porter County Coroner Vicki Deppe announces her retirement in February to accept a nursing position at a regional hospital. Reported: the Office of Congressional Ethics recommends that the relationship of U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, with defunct Washington, D.C., lobbying firm The PMA Group be investigated by the U.S. Committee on Standards of Official Conduct. The Indiana Department of Education suggests that school corporations deal with state funding cuts by increasing class sizes, cutting pay, selling surplus buildings, and outsourcing bus driving and custodial work.

The Chesterton High School (CHS) speech team hosts the Skeffington Memorial Invitational and has three individual champions after placing 34 of its entries into final rounds. The U.S. Supreme Court declines to order the immediate closure of the Chicago shipping locks to slow the spread of the Asian carp into the Great Lakes. Downtown businesses in Chesterton express concern over the impending sanitary sewer project, which will force nearly the total closure of South Calumet Road between West Indiana Ave. and the Norfolk Southern right-of-way.

The Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission (PCCRVC) reports: tourism visitor volume was down 5 percent in 2009 due to the recession, with business traveling hit harder than leisure traveling. Northwest Forum President and CEO Vincent Galbiati resigns to pursue “other business interests.” Brock Lloyd of LaPorte Savings Bank is installed as the 2010 president of the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce.

U.S. Steel (USS) reports a net loss in 2009 of $1.4 billion or $10.42 per share, compared to a net income of $2.1 billion or $17.96 in 2008. The CHS speech team places second at the Munster High School Invitational. The Chesterton Town Council votes 4-1 to adopt a resolution articulating members’ desire “to continue Porter County’s involvement and Chesterton’s participation in the RDA”; Member Jim Ton, R-1st, votes against the motion.

The Duneland School Corpora-tion and School Board mull administrative cuts and furloughs, higher summer-school fees, reduced staff hours, and attrition, to come to terms with a $1.3 million loss of state funding. Valparaiso Police Department says a Ben Franklin middle schooler is caught “sexting.” CHS senior John Denfeld serves as a page in the 2010 session of the Indiana General Assembly.

“Remembering Hazel” Hannel opens at the Chesterton Art Center; Hannel, who died in 2002 at age 106, help launch the Chesterton Art Fair and was a charter member of Save the Dunes Council. John Norris of Valparaiso is found guilty by jury of the beating murder of his girlfriend, Elizabeth Lepucki, in June 2008.

February

NiSource reports net income in 2009 of $217.7 million or 79 cents per share, compared to a net income of $79 million or 29 cents in 2008. The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) proposes an across-the-board 2-percent fare increase for the South Shore commuter line in both 2010 and 2011. Alysha Ramos, 19, who was sentenced to home detention after pleading guilty to OWI-causing death in connection with the crash which killed her passenger, Alisha Purnick, 17, of Liberty Township in June 2008, is ordered into drug treatment after failing a drug test and violating the terms of her probation.

CHS students Nicole Thompson, Megan Adamczewski, Jeff Tucker, Warren Fasone, and Christian Parroco qualify for the National Forensic League tournament in Kansas City, Mo., in June; they join Tyler Fabbri, who pre-qualified after competing in the a final round at the previous year’s tourney. East Chicago Mayor George Pabey and municipal employee Jose Camacho are indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy and theft of federal program funds for allegedly using city labor and materials to renovate a home in Gary owned by Pabey. Report: Porter County unemployment jumped to 9.8 percent in December 2009 from 9.3 percent; Chesterton unemployment was up to 8.6 percent from 7.6 percent.

The Chesterton Town Council names Brandon Kroft to the Police Commission to fill the vacancy created by Steve Brickner’s resignation. The Chesterton Utility Service Board hires Pat Geisendorfer as Superintendent. Duneland dodges a lake-effect snow bullet but the Duneland School Corporation cancels classes anyway.

ArcelorMittal reports net income in 2009 of $100 million or 8 cents per share, compared to a net income of $9.4 billion or $6.80 in 2008. The Bob Rohrman Auto Group purchases the former Nissan dealership at 220 Verplank Road in Burns Harbor. Chesterton Middle School (CMS) Principal Jim Ton and 16 others—with a total of 517 years in the Duneland School Corporation—announced their retirement at the end of the school year.

The Duneland School Board authorizes $1.4 million in budget cuts including early retirement incentives for teachers and the termination of the director positions for the Alternative School and the Positive Life Program. U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., announces that he will not seek a third term in Congress.

The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance revises Porter County’s 2010 budget order and tax rate, after the Auditor’s Office certified the assessed valuation of the Town of Burns Harbor at more than $100 million more than it should have been. Porter Assistant Fire Chief Lewis Craig Jr. and Porter Police Officer Larry LaFlower rescue an elderly woman, confined to a wheelchair, from her burning home, rushing into the house without breathing apparatus and sustaining minor smoke inhalation. CMS eighth-grader Tony Kincaid advances to the regional round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Porter County Coroner Vicki Deppe rules the death by gunshot of Morgan Township resident Aaron Blum, 32, in August 2009 a homicide. Community Health Systems Inc., owner of Porter hospital, reports a net income in 2009 of $243.1 million or 2.66 per share, compared to a net income of $218.3 million or $2.32 in 2008. Former Liberty Middle School principal Robert Meek dies at 81. CHS wins the annual School Datebooks cover design contest, with special recognition given to senior Jannon Jeffries. A Democratic caucus elects Robert Schulte to the position of Porter County Coroner, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Vicki Deppe.

CHS students Syed Shah, Luke Morgan, and Adam Potrzebowski qualify for the National Forensic League tournament in Kansas City, Mo., in June. CHS Drifters and Sandpipers show choirs take top honors in several categories at the Norwell High School Show Choir Invitational in Ossian, Ind. Report: suicides in Porter County spiked in 2009 by 133 percent, totaling 33, while fatal drug overdoses rose by 21 percent, totaling 22.

The Chesterton Police Depart-ment hires two new officers: John Carnahan and Troy Allen. Report: Porter County is the 16th healthiest county of all 92 in Indiana, while Lake County ranks 84th and LaPorte County 61st. Michael Wade, 58, of Michigan City, is charged with the robbery in December 2009 of the Super 8 Motel at 418 Council Drive in Chesterton. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, is cleared of any wrongdoing by the U.S. House Committee on Standards of Professional Conduct, in connection with his relationship with the defunct lobbying firm The PMA Group.

March

John Norris of Valparaiso is sentenced to 65 years for the beating murder of his girlfriend, Elizabeth Lepucki in June 2008. The Duneland School Board enacts mandatory one-week furloughs for all year-round employees, while the Duneland School Board approves a 108-percent increase in summer-school fees; 14 more teachers announce their retirement, including Director of Media and Technology Randall Eckley and CHS Speech and Debate Director Robert Kelly. Chesterton artist Mary Ann Pals has a solo exhibition of her work at the Pines Village Retirement Community in Valparaiso.

Michael Wilson, 25, a former Valparaiso University grad student, is indicted on a federal charge of distributing child pornography; Wilson substitute-taught in the Duneland Schools until he was dropped from the sub-teacher list after colleagues complained about his “demeanor.” Joseph Campbell, 35, is taken into custody after Valparaiso Police said that he robbed the local branch of Centier Bank; Campbell admits his involvement in 11 other robberies, including the attempted robbery in January of the Chesterton branch of Chase Bank.

Seven trees in Dogwood Park are confirmed to have been invaded by the emerald ash borer beetle. A manhunt in the Town of Porter for a fugitive from a traffic stop on I-94—involving a helicopter and tracker dogs—prompts the lock-down of Yost and Brummitt elementary schools; Angel Reyes-Palacios, 26, is taken into custody nearly five hours after the hunt began, plucked from the Little Calumet River near the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant, and is later indicted in federal court on a charge of re-entry of a deported alien with a prior felony conviction. The annual Maple Sugar Time is held at Chellberg Farm and the Bailly Homestead at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

The CHS speech team finishes second in sectional competition and qualifies 31 of 36 entries for the state finals in Indianapolis. Edward Ibarra, 21, of Valparaiso, charged with the shooting murder of Juan Garcia, his mother’s fiance, is found not competent to stand trial. Edgar C. Tillery, 60, of Portage, is charged with attempted murder after firing two shotgun rounds at the Indiana Department of Workforce Development Office in Portage; investigators said that Tillery, a DWD employee, had just received a poor work review from his supervisor.

William Dugan, 76, of Hancock, Md., retired president and business manager of Operating Engineers Local 150, is charged in federal court with a misdemeanor count of demanding and accepting concrete buffalo feeders from a company at which Local 150 members worked. Five CHS students win or place at the Business Professionals of America competition in Indianapolis: Ryan Tarnowski, Rachel McCrum, Ryan Thomalla, Kaci Watson, and Jon Vincent. Report: unemployment in Porter County rose in January to 9.9 percent from 9.0 percent; in Chesterton to 10.0 percent from 8.7 percent.

ArcelorMittal announces $138 million in capital improvements, including an upgrade of the 160-inch plate mill at its Burns Harbor facility. The Porter County Sheriff’s Police reports: burglaries were up in 2009 by 17 percent, auto thefts up 50 percent, simple thefts down 10 percent, alcohol-related arrests up 41 percent, and drug-related arrests up 84 percent. All CHS Japanese Olympiad teams finish in the Top 5 of their respective divisions, with the third-year team of Brandon Moore, Ryan Gorman, and Celian Mooradian finishing second.

The Chesterton Police Commission names Lt. Dave Cincoski Chief of Police; Cincoski resigns his 3rd District seat on the Town Council. The CHS speech and debate team qualified six more entries at the NFL tournament in Kansas City in June: Tyler Fabbri, Syed Shah, Kira Geairn, Matt Keeley, Hayley Miller, Kara Fasone, and Jessica Cleary. The Porter Redevelopment Commission votes to adopt a plan for The Brickyard, with potentially 194 residential units, including senior housing, commercial, open space, a fire station, and future municipal uses.

Utility worker Bryan Marzullo, 38, of Valparaiso, dies after being struck by a vehicle driven by Verna L. McCoy, 93, of Liberty Township, as he’s spray-painting utility locations on the roadway on Calumet Ave. near Burlington Beach Road. Robert Shannon, 35, of Hammond, is taken into custody after the Indiana State Police said that he fled the scene of a hit-and-run crash which took the life of construction worker Christopher Jerkins, 45, of Valparaiso, on I-80 in Lake County. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, and U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, both vote in favor of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The CHS speech team wins the state championship; Adam Potrzebowski, Tyler Fabbri, Hayley Miller, and Dakota McCoy all win individual championships. The Porter Park Board is told that there will be no Independence Day celebration this year in Hawthorne Park. The Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission unveils its new doing-business-as name: Indiana Dunes Tourism.

The Porter County Sheriff’s Police reports that sheriff’s sales on foreclosures were up 21 percent in 2009 to 731 from 603 in 2008. The Chesterton skate park opens with signage posting the rules of usage. CHS students Nate Waltz and Billy Atherton are finalists in the Indiana Association of School Broadcasters’ High School Broadcasting Competition.

Tom Anderson, after more than 20 years as executive director of Save the Dunes, announces his resignation. William Dugan, former president of Operating Engineers Local 150, pleads guilty in federal court to a misdemeanor charge of violating labor law. The 10-year joint development partnership between the Lake Erie Land Company and James Gierczyk’s Chesterton Redevelopment Partners (CDP) ends seven years early, after CDP fails to make a scheduled payment under an installment sales agreement.

Report: unemployment in Porter County rose in February to 10.0 percent from 9.9 percent; in Chesterton, it dipped to 9.8 percent from 10.0 percent. The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District okays a 2-percent fare hike to take effect June 1 of both 2010 and 2011. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore reports visitation increased by 6 percent in 2009, with 1,944,375 visitors. Adam Erway, 32, of Valparaiso, is sentenced to 30 years for dealing heroin.

April

IOSHA fines Beta Steel $4,200 after “serious” violations were found in the investigation of the January explosion which took the life of Michael Kies, 35, of Hammond. The Chesterton Tribune begins its 127th continuous year of publication. The CPD investigates a rash of forced vehicle entries on the west side of town.

Dennis Brown, 62, of Chesterton, is charged with intimidation and criminal recklessness after the CPD said that he fired a gunshot at his residence on Beverly Drive, then refused to leave his home, keeping the emergency response team on alert for seven hours. An unknown person vandalizes the Wikipedia entry on the Town of Burns Harbor, blowing the lid off the “Great Zombie Coverup.” The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor opens its 40th shipping season with 9,000 tons of steel coils imported from Europe.

Newly appointed Chesterton Police Chief Dave Cincoski launches a fundraising campaign for the establishment of a K-9 unit. Jasper Circuit Court Judge John Potter rules that Porter County may not legally withdraw from the RDA, on the ground that the authorizing legislation which created the RDA formerly made the county a member of it with no implied or clear right to withdraw from it. Meinhardt Raabe, who played the Munchkin Coroner in The Wizard of Oz, dies at 94.

WDSO holds its 20th annual Radiothon. Portions of 11th Street, West Porter Ave., and Wabash Ave. are re-paved with federal stimulus funds granted to the Town of Chesterton in 2009. CHS honor economics students present their “Greening Chesterton” ideas at a special meeting of the Town Council.

Burns Harbor Police crack down on speeders and scofflaws as INDOT begins the re-construction of the intersection of U.S. 20 and Ind. 149. Roger Holzman, 23, of Chesterton, is charged with criminal institutional mischief after Chesterton Police said that he broke 13 exterior windows at Chesterton First United Methodist Church, then broke into the church and broke five interior windows. The Porter County Council votes 5-2 to appeal a Jasper Circuit Court ruling which bars Porter County from withdrawing from the RDA.

The CHS debate team wins its third consecutive state title at Kokomo High School. Father Terrence Chase is placed on administrative leave by the Gary Diocese after he is accused of sexual misconduct while serving as associate pastor of St. Patrick Catholic Church in 1991; Chase maintains his innocence and no criminal or civil charges are filed against him. Chesterton Feed & Garden celebrates its 30th anniversary. The Chesterton Utility Service Board postpones until spring 2011 the dreaded first phase of the Downtown sanitary sewer project.

Sheriff Dave Lain announces the creation of a Gang Task Force. Joseph Draus, 32, of Chesterton, pleads guilty to dealing a narcotic drug after the Porter County Drug Task Force said that he sold heroin to a 16-year-old girl whom he met at the Chesterton skate park. Brandt Baughman, property manager at Indiana Dunes State Park, reports that more than 1 million people visited the park in 2009 and that fees collected made the park 126 percent self-sufficient.

A Republican caucus elects Nick Walding to the 3rd District seat on the Chesterton Town Council vacated by Dave Cincoski on his appointment to Chief of Police. Community Health Systems Inc. reports a net income in the first quarter of $70 million or 75 cents per share, compared to $65.1 million or 70 cents in the fourth quarter of 2009. David Capp of Beverly Shores is confirmed as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana.

Rebuilding Together Duneland rehabs 10 homes and three community sites, including the Duneland YMCA and the Westchester Neighbors Food Pantry. The Town of Chesterton celebrates Arbor Day by planting a lilac tree in the memory of the late Warren “Skip” Highwood in front of the Brown Mansion on West Porter Ave. Stacking is reported at the intersection of Ind. 49 and 1100N as motorists fail to heed the advice to avoid the intersection as 1100N is reconstructed as part of the South Calumet District project.

The Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club celebrates its 50th anniversary with a gala at Barker Hall in Michigan City. U.S. Steel reports a net loss in the first quarter of $157 million or $1.10 per share, compared to a net loss of $267 million or $1.86 in the fourth quarter. Two juveniles apologize publicly to the Chesterton Town Council for vandalizing park equipment at Dunes Friendship Land.

Former Chesterton Police chief George Nelson is honored by Porter County Prosecuting Attorney Brian Gensel for his support of the Drug Task Force over the years. Teresa Lloyd, 46, of Liberty Township, who had been charged earlier in the year with child molesting, shoots herself to death in a field near her home. The Porter Stormwater Management Board voted 2-1 to recommend a doubling of the monthly stormwater fee, from $4 to $8.

The Porter Redevelopment Commission indicates its willingness to use TIF moneys to fund $2.6 million of the $4.1 million needed to upgrade the town’s sanitary sewer system. ArcelorMittal reports a net income in the first quarter of $679 million or 45 cents per share, compared to a net income of $1.07 billion or 71 cents in the fourth quarter. Construction worker Roger Sadler, 49, of Michigan City is killed in a hit-and-run accident between the Porter and Burns Harbor exits on I-94, the third construction worker killed by a motor vehicle in Northwest Indiana in two months.

May

Ricardos Bustus, 21, of East Chicago, is charged in connection with the fatal hit-and-run of Roger Sadler, 49, of Michigan City, on I-94 in Porter County. CHS sophomore Colin Jeniszewski, 17 and 165 pounds, sets a national record by bench-pressing 330 pounds. NIPSCO files its first natural-gas rate case in 20 year, asking the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for an increase which would raise the average residential household’s monthly gas bill by 2.65 percent.

An Indiana-American Water Company rate increase takes effect, under which Northwest Indiana residents begin paying 27.06 percent or $6.81 more per month; its the fifth rate increased approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in the last eight years. NiSource reports a net income in the first quarter of $197.3 million or 71 cents per share, compared to a net income of $148.4 million or 54 cents in the year-ago period. The Duneland School Board names Craig Stafford the new principal of Chesterton Middle School.

Primary election results: Incumbent David Lain (D) wins in the Sheriff’s race; John Snyder (R) in the Assessor’s race; Vicki Urbanik (D) in the Auditor’s race; Jim Biggs (R) in the race for the 1st District seat on the Porter County Council; Jon Miller (R) in the Recorder’s race; and Chuck Harris (R) and incumbent Robert Schulte (D) in the Coroner’s race. Meanwhile, a glitch in the election system software is blamed for the omission from the ballot in nearly two-thirds of the county’s precincts of the at-large race for the Center seat on the Porter County Commissioners, featuring incumbent Bob Harper (D) and Nancy Adams (R); both, however, had run uncontested.

The U.S. Postal Service holds its 18th annual Letter Carriers Food Drive. The Porter County Park Board names Walter Leakos the new superintendent. Six weeks after he was appointed by the Chesterton Utility Service Board, Superintendent Pat Geisendorfer tenders his resignation, forcing the Service Board to begin the hiring process all over again.

The National Park Service invites public comment as it develops a new Comprehensive Interpretive Plan for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Spring Out to Sunset Festival is held at Sunset Hill Farm County Park. NICTD announces the first of seven temporary weekend service outages on the South Shore commuter line between South Bend and Gary Metro Center, as crews replace old overhead wires.

The Scandiana Lodge of the Sons of Norway celebrates its 25th anniversary. The Porter Town Council agrees to find some way to finance the remaining $1.4 million needed to upgrade the sanitary sewer system, after the Redevelopment Commission commits $2.6 million in TIF moneys for the purpose. The National Park Service announces that most of the remaining “lease-backs” at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore—more correctly known as reservations of use—will expire in September, ending a long chapter in the park’s history.

Nearly four inches of rain overwhelm the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant and cause localized flooding in Duneland. The Porter County Plan Commission votes 7-2 to approve Porter hospital’s plan for a new 450,000-square foot, 250-private bed facility at the northwest corner of Ind. 49 and U.S. 6 in unincorporated Liberty Township. The U.S. Department of Interior honors Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for the highly successful BioBlitz in May 2009, conducted in conjunction with the National Geographic Society.

Sgt. Fred Shivalec retires from the Chesterton Police Department after 34 years of service; he is the second-longest serving member in the CPD’s history. A sinkhole opens at the intersection of West Porter Ave. and Eighth Street, a location prone to sinkholes. Paige Vliestra is honored as Youth of the Year by the Duneland Unit of the Boys and Girls Club of Porter County.

The Duneland School Corporation and CHS Assistant Principal Kevin Zeck are sued by Alberto and Maria Carrasco of Chesterton, who allege that the civil rights of their son—who committed suicide in April 2009—were violated, that DSC and Zeck acted negligently, and that DSC and Zeck were responsible for their son’s death. The Discover Charter School announces that it is set to open in the fall with 300 K-6 students and that 110 more children are on a waiting list to get spots. CHS senior Suzanne Williams is presented with the W.R. Canright Outstanding Senior Journalist Award.

ArcelorMittal announces that Blast Furnace D, idled at the Burns Harbor facility since September 2008, will be returned to service. Report: unemployment in April in Porter County was down to 8.8 percent from 9.8 percent; in Chesterton, down to 8.5 percent from 10.0 percent. The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce holds a bus tour of economic development sites in Duneland.

Portage Adult Education announces the imminent closure of the Chesterton center and 19 other satellites due to a funding crisis. The Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club presents Paul Harris Fellowship awards to Jim Ton and Jim Jeselnick. Report: James Gierczyk, the Illinois developer whose Chesterton Development Partners was supposed to breathe life into Coffee Creek Center, is sued by various Illinois banks to which he owes millions of dollars.

June

The 120th annual commencement ceremony is held at the CHS gymnasium. Mark Cripe, 57, of Michigan City, dies in an accident in the Bulk Transport trucking yard at ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor facility. Ground breaks on the Town of Chesterton’s 15th Street municipal facility project.

The Porter County Gang Task Force holds an informational meeting at Paul Saylor Elementary School in South Haven. The Chesterton Woman’s Club holds its 59th annual art show at the Chesterton Art Center. Porter County Assessor John Scott says that the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance “made a mistake” in its claim that the county is falling behind in keeping on track with on-time property-tax billing in 2011.

Vandals go on a spree in the Morningside subdivision in Chesterton, causing $1,800 in damage. A strike by Teamsters Local 142 puts a stop to all paving, and many construction projects, in Chesterton and throughout the region. The Duneland Exchange Club presents CHS senior Scott Radcliffe with the 2010 Accepting the Challenge of Excellence (ACE) Award.

The Porter Redevelopment Commission authorizes a $5.1 million bond issue, with a payment period of 15 years, to finance badly needed sanitary sewer upgrades. Jim Anton is installed as the new president of the Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club. The Indiana Court of Appeals upholds the 85-year sentence of Bruce Guess, the Liberty Township man who confessed to bludgeoning to death Luke Oil clerk Barbara Heckman in a robbery in December 2008.

Morton Arnsdorf, M.D., 69, of Beverly Shores, is killed in a fiery crash after being rear ended on U.S. 12 by a 17-year-old Michigan City boy. Brendan Grube, 42, of Valparaiso, risks his life to save a drowning girl at Lakeview Beach in Beverly Shores. A 15-inch ductile iron sanitary sewer pipe fails and falls into Coffee Creek beneath the bridge over East Porter Ave.

The Porter County Substance Abuse Council awards the CPD $5,500 for the establishment of a K-9 unit, the first of many contributions from the community and not-for-profit organizations. The Duneland Business Initiative Group’s Chesterton Cruise Night returns to the Downtown, featuring a dunk tank in which CPD officers, including Police Chief Dave Cincoski, take their turns to raise money for the K-9 unit. Laurie Wehner-Evans is named director of community relations for Porter Health System.

The Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission launches its Beyond the Beach initiative. Report: Duneland students score better than the state average for each grade tested on the ISTEP. A CSX train derails in Jackson Township; Michael Bowling, 45, a derail supervisor for Cranemaster Inc. of Hammond, is killed at the scene when a crane being used to clear the tracks falls on him.

A storm knocks out power to 95,000 NIPSCO customers and forces the postponement of the Duneland Relay for Life. Report: unemployment in May in Porter County was down to 8.6 percent from 8.8 percent; in Chesterton, down to 7.9 percent from 8.5 percent. For the third time in eight years, the CHS speech and debate team has a national champion at the NFL tournament in Kansas City, with Tyler Fabbri taking the individual title in extemporaneous speaking.

The Lake Erie Land Company files a foreclosure suit on loans made to James Gierczyk, current owner and operator of the Sand Creek Country Club. Another summer storm forces the Duneland School Corporation to move summer school from CHS to CMS, after electric service to CHS is interrupted. The daylighting of Dunes Creek at Indiana Dunes State Park nears completion.

Broadway is closed for paving in the Downtown, following the settlement of the strike called by Teamsters Local 142. Chesterton Street Department employee Phil Criswell, 44, dies after a battle with cancer. Dana Dabagia of Michiana wins the People’s Choice Award at the Chesterton Women’s Club Art Show.

July

Crews continue work on the South Calumet District project—interrupted by the strike of Teamsters Local 142—and the Chesterton Redevelopment Commission is told that the project could be substantially completed by the end of the month. Porter hospital CEO Jonathan Nalli announces that the Damon Run Conservancy District—and not the Chesterton Utility—will receive the new facility’s wastewater; Chesterton officials are mystified by the decision. The Chesterton Lions Club holds the 71st annual Turtle Derby at Dogwood Park.

Ground breaks on the $30 million Gateway to the Dunes project, spearheaded by the Town of Porter and funded in part with moneys made available by the RDA; specs include a 10-foot hike/bike trail along Ind. 49, starting at Indiana Dunes State Park, separated from the roadway by a barrier wall. James Gierczyk, already facing lawsuits from creditors in Illinois and Indiana—including the Lake Erie Land Company—is sued by a partner in Arizona, who claims that Gierczyk misappropriated the whole of a $1.4 million earnest deposit, half of which the partner says was owed to him.

The second annual fireworks extravaganza at Indiana Dunes State Park—spearheaded by the Town of Porter, supported financially by the towns of Chesterton and Burns Harbor, and sponsored by the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce—is a booming success. Destiny Bahena, 9, of Chicago, drowns at Lakeview Beach in Beverly Shores at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore; the drowning—not blamed on rip currents—is the first at the National Lakeshore since 2008, which two Chicago boys drowned in separate incidents.

The shuttered Splash Down Dunes water park in Porter is put on the auction block at a sheriff’s sale after owner Paul Childress defaults on a payment to his former partner, Fred Pearson. IDEM grants the petition of ArcelorMittal for a landfill permit which will allow the steelmaker to dispose of up to 1.8 million tons of waste at its Burns Harbor facility.

Four Girl Scouts from Chesterton Troop 30121 earn the Gold Award, Girl Scouting’s highest honor: Hayley Trezzo, Emily Pavlovic, Christa Cundiff, and Brittney Biddle. Mikaela Smith, 10, of Liberty Township, finishes third in the nation at the 10th annual National Braille Challenge in Los Angeles, Calif. The National Park Service names Sue Bennett the new Chief Interpreter at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Chesterton FOP Lodge 141 sponsors an open golf day at the Sand Creek Country Club to raise funds for a K-9 unit. Bergland Construction of Chesterton is awarded the $1.9 million contract to build the new Town of Chesterton municipal facility on 15th Street. The Duneland Business Initiative Group holds its annual Bark in the Park in Thomas Centennial Park.

The Porter Town Council intensifies efforts to remove 64 of the estimated 70 cats living in a home in the area of First Street and Main Street north of Hjelm Road. The Duneland School Board announces that administrators and non-teaching staff will forego raises for the second consecutive year. Town of Porter contracted rate consultant Karl Cender recommends a 27-percent sanitary sewer rate hike.

Fire destroys the bio-diesel storage facility at the Paulson Oil Company at 300 N. 15th St.; Chesterton and Burns Harbor ladder trucks attack the fire from the air while train traffic along the Norfolk Southern and CSX lines is temporarily stopped so that hoses may be strung across the tracks; the cause of the fire remains undetermined. Kouts Clerk-Treasurer Greg Frame is found not guilty by a jury of sexual misconduct with a minor. The 160th annual Porter County Fair opens.

David Raby, 46, of Jackson Township, dies when a tree which he was cutting down falls on him. ITR Concession Company, which leases the Indiana Toll Road, raises the speed on the Toll Road in Porter County to 70 miles per hour. Save the Dunes appeals the landfill permit granted by IDEM to ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor facility.

The annual Chesterton Lions Club Duck Race and the Duneland Exchange Club’s Frog Hunt and Community Picnic are postponed to August due to inclement weather. The Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission votes to designate most, if not all, of ArcelorMittal’s facility an economic development zone, to capture TIF revenues on future improvements there. CHS sophomore Darrian Arch is named 2010 Miss Indiana Junior Teen.

Ground breaks on Porter hospital’s new $225 million facility, the single largest construction project in Porter County in years. CHS grad Sloan Jones is named Miss Photogenic and grad Jamie Cahillane is named Miss Congeniality and second runner-up in the 2010 Porter County Fair Queen Pageant. Two die when the car in which they are riding is struck by a South Shore train as they try to go around the downed gates at the Porter/Lake County Line Road crossing: Taajae McKinley, 20, of Chicago, and Victoria Lucio, 19, of Gary.

Nicole Kamins is named the new executive director of Save the Dunes. U.S. Steel posts a net loss in the second quarter of $25 million or 17 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $157 million or $1.10 in the first quarter. A likely relic of the August 2009 tornado, a boat wedged into the limbs of a down tree is removed by Chesterton firefighters from the Little Calumet River near St. Patrick Catholic Church.

Eighteen head of cattle perish in a semi crash on I-94 just west of Chesterton. The Chesterton Utility Service Board names Rob Lovell the new Utility Superintendent; at year’s end, he’s still on the job. Hero Evelyn Ello is honored by the CFD with its Life-Saving Award, after she performs CPR on a man who went into full cardiac arrest at Westchester Lanes, of which Ello is owner.

ArcelorMittal reports a net income in the second quarter of $1.704 billion or $1.13 per share, compared to a net income of $679 million or 45 cents in the first quarter. Community Health Systems, owner of Porter hospital, reports a net income in the second quarter of $70.1 million or 79 cents per share, compared to $70 million or 75 cents in the first quarter. The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce presents Florence Dresh with the Golden Achievement Award, Jane Delligati with the Duneland Distinguished Woman Award, and Kim Goldak with the Humanitarian of the Year Award at its annual awards luncheon at Sand Creek Country Club.

The re-scheduled Duneland Relay for Life is held at Chesterton High School. Alan Zimmerman, 42, is charged with dealing marijuana in an amount greater than 10 pounds after the Drug Task Force, the DEA, Chesterton Police, and other agencies raid his home in the Villages of Sand Creek and recover 763 marijuana plants, 90 pounds of loose marijuana, and thousands of dollars in hydroponic grow equipment.

August

The 52nd annual Chesterton Art Fair is held at Hawthorne Park in Porter. Roger Holzman, 23, of Chesterton, pleads guilty to one count of criminal institutional mischief in connection with the vandalism of windows at Chesterton First United Methodist Church. NiSource reports a net income in the second quarter of $28.1 million or 10 cents per share, compared to a net income of $4.8 million or 1 cent in the year-ago period.

Ind. 149 between U.S. 20 and U.S. 6 is closed for repairs to the CSX grade-crossing just south of Old Porter Road in Burns Harbor; the Chesterton Town Council enacts a heavy-truck ban on 1050N and 200W in anticipation of truckers looking for a shortcut through town. Paul Magliocchetti, president The PMA Group, the lobbying firm with close ties to U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, is indicted in federal court on 11 counts of making illegal campaign contributions.

Unemployment in June in Porter County rose to 9.0 percent from 8.6 percent; in Chesterton, to 8.2 percent from 8.0 percent. Herb and Charlotte Read are inducted into the Indiana Conservation Hall of Fame, having begun their environmentalist involvement with Save the Dunes in 1952. Ground breaks on the new basketball and tennis courts at Chesterton Park.

A ruling by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals clears the way for a Portage man’s civil lawsuit against Burns Harbor Town Marshal Jerry Price to proceed; the suit alleges the excessive use of force by Price. Report: the Chesterton Adult Learning Center and other satellites in the region are set to re-open in August through the joint efforts of the Regional Adult Education Consortium and the Center for Workforce Innovation to find new funding.

One year after Morgan Township resident Aaron Blum was found shot to death in his father’s truck on a road in Washington Township—and his father, James Blum, 62, found by his side, also with a gunshot wound—James Blum is charged with his son’s murder. Patricia Mitchell files a lawsuit against the defunct Splash Down Dunes water park in Porter, its former owner Paul Childress, and its current owner Fred Pearson, for injuries which she says she sustained in August 2008 on the American Revolution Water Slide. Timothy Hefner, 17, of Michigan City, is waived into adult court to face felony charges, after the Porter County Sheriff’s Police said that he was intoxicated when he rear ended Beverly Shores cardiologist Morton Arnsdorf on U.S. 20, in a crash which killed the physician.

Chesterton Town Council Member Sharon Darnell, D-4th, broaches the possibility of a stormwater bond issue to remedy various drainage problems in town. The Westchester Township History Museum opens “The Lost Tourist Attractions of the Dunes.” The Discovery Charter School opens for classes.

Vandalism forces the closure of the Chesterton skate park. The former United Tractor building at 116 N. 15th St. is demolished to make way for the new Town of Chesterton municipal facility. Report: unemployment in July in Porter County fell to 8.6 percent from 9.0 percent; in Chesterton, to 7.8 percent from 8.3 percent.

Work is completed on a new sidewalk along Fifth Street from 1100N to Hunters Court. Three separate sanitary sewer projects close an L-shaped stretch of roadway in Chesterton—West Porter Ave. from Fifth Street to South Calumet Road and South Calumet Road from Porter Ave. to Morgan Ave.—making getting into, out of, and through Chesterton problematic. Micheal Genger, R-4th, resigns his seat on the Porter Town Council to pursue the mission fields in South Korea.

The Porter Town Council votes to enact a 27-percent sanitary sewer rate hike. NIPSCO settles its natural-gas rate case, which if approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission will save the average residential customer $7.50 per year. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission issues an order in NIPSCO’s electric rate case, reducing NIPSCO’s authorized operating revenues by $49 million, in an action which the IURC itself estimates will raise the average residential customer’s monthly bill by 10 percent.

Fall enrollment in the Duneland Schools falls by 213 students, a decrease which Superintendent Dirk Baer attributes to the opening of the new Discovery Charter School. A boy fishing in a Salt Creek headwater in Imagination Glen in Portage hooks a three- to four-foot alligator; the gator manages to escape. Roger Holzman is sentenced to two years in prison after he pleads guilty to one count of criminal institutional mischief in connection with the vandalism of Chesterton First United Methodist Church.

Water mains begin “popping” in several places along Broadway in Chesterton. The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handles one of the single biggest cargos in its 40-year history: a 388-ton electrical transformer. The Burns Harbor BZA votes 3-2 to grant a special exception to CR England to build a 250-semi truck parking lot west of Ind. 149 and south of Tech Drive.

September

David Canright, managing editor of the Chesterton Tribune, is recognized for his years of service on the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission. An IRS audit questions Porter County employee contracts and fringe benefits. The Schoolhouse Shop holds its 21st annual Outdoor Art Fair.

The Purdue North Central Veterans Club closes out the summer with a fundraising 12-hour music bash at American Legion Post 170. The CHS guidance program is once again the recipient of the Indiana Gold Star School Counseling Award. Coroner Robert Schulte reports eight confirmed or suspected fatal heroin overdoses so far in 2010, with at least four of the victims Dunelanders; Porter Starke Services Inc. raises the possibility of tainted heroin being sold.

The South Calumet Road sewer separation project begins, as detours force motorists to snake their way through the Downtown. The National Association of Homebuilders gives its highest energy-efficiency certification to Sarah Oudman’s home in The Village of Sand Creek; Oudman is president of Treasure Homes Inc. The Porter County Commissioners vote to ban the sale of synthetic marijuana.

The 2010 Porter County Epidemiological Profile shows 44 percent of high-school seniors used alcohol at least once a month, 25 percent of juniors used marijuana, and nearly 18 percent of sixth-graders perceive little or no risk in the use of cocaine. The Porter County Republican Party opts to close to the public the caucus called to fill the vacancy on the Porter Town Council created by the resignation of Micheal Genger; the caucus elects Trevin Fowler. Thomas Campbell, 62, of Valparaiso, dies of injuries sustained in a two vehicle accident on U.S. 6 in Liberty Township.

The Duneland Resale Shop celebrates its first anniversary at its new location, 801 Broadway in Chesterton. Local police officers, firefighters, and U.S. service members remember 9/11 at a ceremony at Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy. Four CPD officers are promoted: to Sergeant—Chris Swickard, School Resource Officer Randy Komisarcik, and Det. Don Maloney; and to Corporal—Nick Brown; Officer Jamie Copollo earns her detective’s shield.

The CHS Trojan Guard takes fourth at the Goshen High School Invitational. The 29th Wizard of Oz Festival comes to Downtown Chesterton, with celebrities John Fricke and Rick Ewigleben. Duneland Heritage Days is held at the Chellberg Farm and Bailly Homestead at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Report: Great Lakes shipping pumps $14 billion into Indiana’s economy. Four CHS seniors are named National Merit Scholarship Program semifinalists: Tom Biel, Ryan Gorman, Brian Mabry, and Kirsten Markey. Paul Magliochetti, whose defunct lobbying firm, The PMA Group, donated tens of thousands of dollars to the re-election campaigns of U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, pleads guilty to a federal indictment charging him with making hundreds of thousands of illegal donations to scores of campaigns dating to 2003.

The Burns Harbor Town Council votes to appeal the BZA’s issuance of a special exception to CR England. Folks have little to say at a public hearing before the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission on a revised Comprehensive Plan. United Steelworkers International President Leo Gerard is named to President Obama’s Advisory Committee on Trade Policy and Negotiations.

The Visiting Nurse Association of Porter County celebrates its 40th anniversary. NIPSCO submits its own calculation of the impact of an electric rate order issued by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission: not a 10-percent average residential hike as estimated by the IURC, but a 16.8 percent spike. The National Park Service announces that, beginning in 2011, it will discontinue the sale of the $20 annual pass at West Beach.

ARTour 2010 celebrates art in Chesterton. Delores Brooks retires from the Chesterton Cemetery after 66 years of service. Report: unemployment in August in Porter County fell to 8.6 percent from 8.7 percent; in Chesterton, to 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Constantine Dillon tells the Chesterton / Duneland Chamber of Commerce that the National Lakeshore is an economic driver, and with 1.96 million visitors in 2009 is more popular than Mammoth Cave, the Everglades, and Gettysburg national parks. The National Park Service conveys the five remaining historic South Shore commuter line cars to the East Troy, Wis., Electric Railroad. The Indiana State Department of Health reports two cases of West Nile virus in Porter County.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor files a notice with the Indiana Utility Regulatory of its intent to contest the IURC’s order in the NIPSCO electric rate case. CHS senior Nicholas Brahos is named a winner of the National Council of Teachers of English Achievement in Writing Award for 2010. Tori Schroeder is named 2010 Homecoming Queen and Jay Broder the King at the CHS homecoming football game.

The Chesterton Town Council honors its longest serving municipal employees. The Chesterton Town Council names Alex Rodriguez to the Police Commission to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Nick Walters. The IRS announces its intent to pursue a $175,000 penalty against Porter County for the way some employee contracts were handled between 2007 and 2009.

The Friends of the Indiana Dunes purchases a new ATV for Indiana Dunes State Park. The Tri-Towns consider the idea of establishing a Duneland fire territory. Long-time Porter County public defender James Tsoutsouris dies at 74.

October

Michael Wilson, 26, of Valparaiso, who substitute-taught in the Duneland Schools, pleads guilty to federal charges of distribution of child pornography and possession of child pornography. Six CHS students are among the 34,000 in the country commended by the 2011 National Merit Scholarship Program: D.J. Gallagher, Brandon Moore, Salvador Mujica IV, Manny Orlich, Katelyn Povlinski, and Jeffrey Waltz Jr. The CHS Trojan Guard advances to ISSMA regional competition, with a Gold Superior rating at district competition at Concord High School in Elkhart.

Gov. Daniels fires Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission Chair David Lott Hartley, citing ethical issues; those issues involve former IURC general counsel Scott Storms, now employed by Duke Energy Group, who had previously communicated with Duke about that position while presiding over hearings concerning the utility. Recycling containers provided by the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County move to a new home: at WiseWay Foods at 1600 Pioneer Trail in Chesterton.

Portage-based Persistence LLC announces plans for a $40 million indoor sports facility on land immediately south of the Indiana Toll Road and east of Ind. 49, the so-called Rossman property; the project would be financed with recovery-zone bonds made available through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 and administered by the Chesterton Economic Development Commission. The CHS debate team takes first place at Fort Wayne Carroll. The Chesterton Town Council instructs Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann to draft an ordinance which would ban smoking at businesses in Chesterton.

The Porter Town Council enacts an ordinance banning the sale of synthetic marijuana. Joseph Draus, 33, of Chesterton, who admitted selling heroin to a 16-year-old girl whom he met at the skate park, is sentenced to six years in prison. The Burns Harbor BZA votes to spend up to $5,000 to hire an attorney to defend the special exception which it granted to CR England, after the Burns Harbor Town Council files an appeal of that decision in court.

Minister Bruce Binkley is the keynote speaker at the ninth annual Community Prayer Breakfast. Misleading anti-Bob Harper ads, authorized and paid for by the “Valparaiso Republicans,” raise eyebrows; Harper’s opponent in the race for the Center District seat on the Porter County Commissioners, Nancy Adams, says that she has nothing to do with the ads. William Dugan, former president and business manager of Operating Engineers Local 150, is sentenced to three years of probation and fined $30,000 after he pleaded guilty to violating federal labor law.

Chesterton Town Engineer Mark O’Dell begins compiling a project list for a proposed $835,000 stormwater bond issue. Sanitary sewer projects along South Calumet Road and West Porter Ave. are finally completed and the roads re-paved, at last cutting the Gordian knot which had become the dominant traffic pattern in Downtown Chesterton. The Porter County Council defers a decision on whether to authorize raises for its roughly 700 employees.

Burns Harbor Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan is named Master Municipal Clerk by the International Institute of Municipal Clerks. Jeanette Neagu is named the new president of Save the Dunes, succeeding Deborah Chubb. Porter County Assessor John Scott says that the county has met the state requirement to have 25 percent of reassessment completed by Dec. 1.

The Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission reports that tourism generated $311.5 million in 2009. The Indiana Financial Authority okays $23 million in recovery-zone bonds for a proposed indoor sports facility in the Town of Chesterton. The Porter Advisory Plan Commission endorses the adoption of new rules which would prohibit the planting of invasive species at Porter Beach.

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handles the largest shipment of project cargo in its 40-year history: 134 complete turbine units carried by 11 ships. The Westchester Township History Museum opens “The History of Burns Harbor” exhibit. The newly re-modeled Nature Center at Indiana Dunes State Park is dedicated.

CHS Principal James Goetz is named 2010 District High School Principal of the Year by the Indiana Association of School Principals District 1. Report: unemployment in September in Porter County falls to 8.3 percent from 8.7 percent; in Chesterton, to 7.6 percent from 7.9 percent. U.S. Steel reports a net loss in the third quarter of $51 million or 35 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $25 million or 17 cents in the second quarter.

ArcelorMittal reports a net income in the third quarter of $1.35 billion or 89 cents per share, compared to $1.704 billion or $1.13 in the second quarter. The Chesterton Town Council grants a 10-year tax abatement for a proposed nursing home to be built on Dickinson Road by Long-Term Care Investments, over the objections of The Waters of Duneland. Community Health Systems Inc., the owner of Porter hospital, reports a net income in the third quarter of $70.4 million or 76 cents per share, compared to a net income of $70.1 million or 74 cents in the second quarter.

St. Anthony Memorial Health Center breaks ground on a $22 million ER department on the site of the old Jewel/Osco on Indian Boundary Road. NiSource reports a net income in the third quarter of $33.2 million or 12 cents per share, compared to a net income of $15.4 million or 5 cents in the year-ago period.

November

Nathaniel Worden, 29, of Valparaiso—already sentenced to 35 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to a charge of advertising child pornography—is ordered to pay one of his victims $533,244. The Chesterton Art Center celebrates its 50th anniversary with its Art after Dark gala.

The GOP sweeps all but one countywide race in the general election, as more Republicans vote straight-ticket than Democrats and more Democrats just stay home: Nancy Adams (R) wins the Center District seat on the Porter County Commissioners; Jim Biggs (R), the 1st District seat on the Porter County Council; Robert Wichlinski (R), the Auditor’s race; Jon Snyder (R), the Assessor’s; Karen Martin (R), the Clerk of Circuit Court’s; Chuck Harris (R), the Coroner’s; Jon Miller (R), the Recorder’s; while incumbent Sheriff Dave Lain’s victory is the one bright spot for Democrats. In the race for Duneland School Board, voters retain incumbent Mike Trout but unseat John Marshall for Ralph Ayres.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore celebrates its 40th anniversary. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission okays the settlement agreement in NIPSCO’s natural-gas rate case, saving residential customers around $7.50 per year on their gas bills. The Duneland School Board tours the new addition at Liberty Elementary School.

Dead livestock are found mutilated on a Morgan Township farm. After more than eight months of concentrated fundraising, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 141, representing the officers of the Chesterton Police Department, has sufficient moneys to acquire two K-9 units: Job, partnered with Officer Erik Herbert; and Igor, with Sgt. Dan Rocha. CHS Class of 1965 holds its 45-year reunion.

In what is believed to be its single largest entry ever in a regular season tournament, the CHS debate team—with 54 students competing—defeats 10 other schools at the Larry B. Stuber Memorial Debate Tournament at Valparaiso High School. Friends and foes of a proposed smoke-free ordinance make their opinions known to Chesterton Town Council members. The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce announces a new brand for the Town of Porter: “Front Porch to the Dunes”; the Town of Chesterton’s, “Artcentric.”

The Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club holds its annual Veterans Day commemoration; Rich Gardner Sr. is honored with the Paul Harris Fellowship. The Porter County Plan Commission votes to approve plans for a 109-acre medical campus park, including a medical office building and assisted living and family homes in the neighborhood of the new Porter hospital facility in unincorporated Liberty Township. 2002 CHS graduate Tamara Carnahan Weaver is named an Indiana deputy attorney general.

Chesterton resident Paula Wiese, who teaches art at Portage High School, is named Secondary Art Educator of the Year by the Art Education Association of Indiana. The Chesterton Utility Service Board announces that it may forego a sanitary sewer rate increase in 2011. NIPSCO responds to the outcry over a 16.8 percent hike in the electric rate for residential customers—authorized by an Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission order in August—by proposing to cut that hike in half, to 7.9 percent or $5.94 per month.

Burns Harbor Town Council Member Cliff Fleming is awarded the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center. Machelle Blount, who spearheaded the return of the Wizard of Oz Festival to the Chesterton Downtown in 2009, is named Woman of the Year by Duneland Working Women. Chesterton Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann tells the Redevelopment Commission that he does not know whether Persistence LLC will close its sale of recovery-zone bonds—to finance a proposed $40 million indoor sports facility—by the Dec. 31 deadline.

The public is invited to meet Rusty the Turkey at Chesterton Feed & Garden. The Duneland holiday season opens with the Hometown Christmas Celebration and the Twilight Christmas Parade on the day after Thanksgiving. Gary Danowski, 62, of Lake Villa, Ill., dies in a spectacular six-vehicle crash at the intersection of Ind. 49 and Gateway Blvd. Chesterton author Heather Augustyn establishes herself as a world authority on ska—the Jamaican music which birthed reggae—with the publication of her book, Ska: An Oral History

December

The Chesterton skate park is vandalized, again. The Porter County Council votes 4-3 to appoint hotelier Jeff Good to the county’s seat on the RDA, even as it pursues its appeal of a Jasper Circuit Court judge’s ruling denying the council’s right to withdraw from the RDA; Good’s appointment is later endorsed by the Porter County Commissioners. Report: hunters take 85 deer over two phases and four days at Indiana Dunes State Park, the most deer taken since 2003 and more than double the number take in the last cull, in 2008.

“It’s a Jim Dandy Christmas: Toys from the 1930s and 40s” exhibit opens at the Westchester Township History Museum. Folks get their first look at alternative draft plans for the $16 million Brookdale Park, to be built on 65 acres north of the CSX right-of-way and between Meridian Road and C.R. 50W in unincorporated Liberty Township; when finished, the park will feature a variety of sports fields for year-round use. The CHS Music Department holds its 38th annual Madrigal Dinner. The Chesterton Town Council votes unanimously to “intervene” in the Damon Run Conservancy District’s petition before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, after Porter hospital’s decision to flow its wastewater through Damon Run—and not to the Chesterton treatment plant—mystifies town officials.

The fourth annual Rock for Tots benefit concert is held at the Chesterton Moose Lodge. A power failure at CHS forces administrators to start classes in the dark; juice is returned by 10 a.m. Local realtor Don Johnson is sued by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, which alleges improprieties in Johnson’s foreclosure consulting services.

The Duneland Community Advent Festival is held at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Chesterton.

The Chesterton Tribune wins first place in the Hoosier State Press Association Foundation’s 2010 Better Newspaper Contest, in the Best News Coverage Under Deadline Pressure category, for its stories in the Aug. 19, 2009, edition, on the previous night’s tornado; reporters Vicki Urbanik, Margaret Willis, Alexander Newman, and Kevin Nevers all contributed articles and pictures.

A colossal crane sways a new 8,900-pound foot bridge into place in Coffee Creek Park, replacing the old one battered and broken by the floods of September 2008.

NICTD projects a $1.7 million deficit for the South Shore commuter line in 2011; General Manager Gerald Hanes says that, if necessary, the shortfall could be covered by the line’s $2 million in cash reserves. A lake-effect blizzard, accompanied by winds gusting to 50 miles per hour, closes the Duneland Schools, strands scores of motorists on highways—including, for 15 hours, Chesterton Police Chief Dave Cincoski on U.S. Highway 30—leads to dozens of crashes and slide-offs, carves thousands of tons of sand from Lake Michigan’s shoreline and foredunes, and blows down the screen at the 49er Drive In.

Angel Reyes-Palacios, who lead Duneland police agencies on a five-hour manhunt in March, is sentenced to 46 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to a charge of re-entry of a deported alien with a prior felony conviction. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, votes against a tax-cut extension bill, while U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, votes for it; the House passes the so-called “compromise” bill by a comfortable margin. The National Park Service begins work on a Shoreline Restoration and Management Plan for Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore; the public is encouraged to provide input.

Report: unemployment in November rose in Porter County to 8.2 percent from 7.9 percent, while it fell in Chesterton to 7.0 percent from 7.2 percent. Mark Maassel is named president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum. The Chesterton Town Council approves an expenditure of $30,000 in emergency CEDIT funds, after Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg reports a shortage of road salt, on the first day of winter.

The Chesterton Town Council okays in principle the extension of the Orchard Pedestrian Way, planned by the Town of Porter, into the Town of Chesterton in the area of Waverly Road and Woodlawn Ave.; the Town of Porter will maintain that stretch of the Pedestrian Way until such time as the Town of Chesterton links it to its own portion of the Dunes-Kankakee Trail. Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, accuses the LaPorte District of INDOT of “blackmail,” after INDOT threatens to recommend to the Federal Highway Administration that Porter County be forced to repay the $3.2 million cost of building the elevated bridge over U.S. Highway 12 leading to the U.S. Steel Midwest facility.

The Porter Park Board unanimously rejects the Town Council’s request to transfer all Parks and Recreation Department employees to the council’s jurisdiction; Council President Michelle Bollinger says that such a transfer would streamline park operations; Board President Patty Raffin says that the Park Board was established in 1934 as an autonomous board with its own employees as provided by Indiana Code. The Porter Town Council deadlocks at 2-2 over a motion to elect Member Dave Babcock to the 2011 presidency; Clerk-Treasurer Carole Pomeroy breaks the tie by casting her vote for Babcock.

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles announces that, effective Jan. 1, motorists will no longer be able to obtain registration cards, stickers, or license plates at their local license branch but will instead have those items mailed to them. Mark Snyder, former owner of Sunrise Farms, sues the Chesterton Police Department, alleging among other things fraud and perjury in its investigation of an alleged incident at Synder’s store in 2005; that investigation led to charges of public indecency and battery being filed against Snyder but the Porter County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office later dismissed those charges.

 

Posted 12/31/2010