Chesterton Tribune

2008 Duneland Year in Review: The ups then downs of a troubled year

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Amid a number of records and unprecedented events, one thing is clear about 2008: The year ended on quite a different note than when it began.

Consider President George W. Bush’s declaration in February, when he tried to assure Americans that “this country is not recession-bound.” But by year’s end, analysts declared that not only are we indeed in a recession, but that the slump began nearly a year ago. By year’s end, layoffs and threatened layoffs dominated the headlines, and the nation’s worst economic crisis since the Great Depression emerged as the top issue for President-elect Barack Obama. 

The drip-drip-drip of bad economic news both locally and nationally was steady throughout the year, yet you wouldn’t necessarily have known it -- at least, not during the first half of the year --  by looking at the steelmakers.

Steel in Crisis Again

Arcelor Mittal opened the year by reporting a record net income of $10.4 billion for 2007. U.S. Steel, too, posted colossal profits in the second and third quarters. Steel orders surged. Union officials accused Arcelor Mittal of dragging its heels in contract negotiations, and the membership actually voted in support of the authority to strike. ArcelorMittal lost the game of chicken and with fewer than 36 hours to go before the deadline agreed to a three-year  contract. 

Still, by late summer, it became clear that the nation’s credit crisis was metastasizing into manufacturing and that the demand for steel was falling. Then plunging. It happened virtually overnight. Orders were suddenly canceled and the stream of new ones dried to dust. 

U.S. Steel responded initially by laying off 500 workers at its U.S. facilities, 100 of them in Northwest Indiana, then in December announced  further layoffs of 3,500. ArcelorMittal opted to play chicken again with the USW, when it announced that it would lay off as many as 2,444 at Burns Harbor. The union made rumblings about arbitration and litigation, and once more the company relented, this time agreeing to issue fewer than 500 pink slips. 

South Shore Milestone

The South Shore passenger service had a bittersweet year. It celebrated its 100th anniversary in June and took possession of the first of 14 long-awaited double-decker train cars. Ridership surged, likely in response to the oppressive prices at the gas pump, but by year’s end the service expected to end the year with a 1.5 percent decline in overall passengers, a drop attributed to the rotten economy.

The proposed expansion of the service to Lowell and Valparaiso, along with a public relations campaign partly funded by taxpayers in support of the extension, prompted plenty of discord. A plan to capture a portion of the sales taxes generated in Northwest Indiana to pay for the project ultimately fizzled.

Property Tax Confusion

Meanwhile, lawmakers hit Hoosiers in their wallets by hiking the state sales tax  --  from 6 percent to 7 percent  -- while setting into motion a number of property tax reforms, including a big boost in a tax credit for homeowners.

But it would be quite some time before Porter County homeowners would see that credit.

 Throughout 2008, Porter County officials continued to struggle with longstanding tax billing problems. Despite spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in consultant fees and overtime for county staff, Porter County still couldn’t get its tax work done, ending 2008 with even later tax bills than the year before.

Blue State Indiana

Politically, 2008 was a year for Democrats to shine.

For the first time in  decades, Indiana voters  found that the state’s  late primary didn’t really matter because this time, they could still sway the presidential nomination. Hillary Clinton became the first presidential contender in 40 years to visit Porter County -- not once but twice. And Barack Obama stumped in Northwest Indiana as well, with stops in Portage, Gary and Highland. 

The November election solidified the Democrats’ hold on county offices. Not only did the Dems retain majority control of the Commissioners, but they also won an unprecedented 6-1 control on the County Council while snatching the County Treasurer’s post to boot.

Fee Hikes, Rate Hikes

With the economy struggling, it’s a bad time to find bigger utility bills in the mail. But Dunelanders will, beginning on Jan. 1. The Town of Chesterton raised its refuse and recycling rate by 38 percent and its sanitary sewer rate by 14 percent. The Town of Porter doubled its refuse and recycling rate and upped its sanitary sewer rate by 60 percent. And NIPSCO is seeking a single-phase spike in the electric rate paid by residential customers of 14.36 percent, while proposing a significantly smaller increase for commercial and industrial customers. 

Harsh Winter, Tragic Flood

Had not the economy tanked, however, 2008 might well have been remembered as the Year of Bad Weather. It started with a winter so harsh that municipalities were forced to ration street salt after frequent snows had depleted their stocks to perilously low levels. Then, in the early morning hours of April 18, an earthquake epicentered west of Evansville rocked Dunelanders awake, shook the china, and scared the dog. 

But it was the rains of Sept. 12-14, more than 12 inches in 72 hours, which will no one will ever forget. They swamped basements, flooded streets, turned back yards into swimming holes, and overwhelmed the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant. They also tragically took the lives of two heroes: John Thanos and his son, Mark, who leaped unhesitatingly into a churning drainage ditch to save a boy who had been swept away. 

The bad weather wasn’t quite done. In early November a lake-effect snow dumped nine inches on Duneland, then Mother Nature got into the ugly habit of throwing a snow or sleet or freezing-rain event at us every 48 hours or so. 

Progress and Plans

Though the local economy suffered -- as reflected in months of declines in building permit activity -- there were some notable construction projects begun or announced.

At long last, Phase I of the South Calumet Project began. A new North Porter County Highway Garage opened. Chesterton planners endorsed what could be the largest commercial project in the town’s history south of the Indiana Toll Road. Porter officials made real progress in their long-awaited Porter Brickyard Trail. New housing starts continued in Burns Harbor. The Duneland School Board purchased 37 acres at 1050N and 250E in Jackson Township for a possible new school.

Further, Steve and Raymond Brickner built a new Flower Cart in downtown Chesterton. Harris Bank opened a new branch in Chesterton. St. John’s United Church embarked on a $1.2 million expansion. Two vacant Chesterton buildings got a new life: Duneland Resale Shop bought the former WiseWay on Broadway Avenue while St. Anthony acquired the former Jewel store.

And Porter-Starke announced plans for a major new mental health facility in Portage -- only to put the plans on hold by the end of the year when the nation’s banking crisis forced changes in the financing.

Police Blotter

The year opened with a mystery, when the body of Rylan Cotter, a Michigan State University junior, was found on the Brassie Golf Course in January, culminating in a ruling by County Coroner Victoria Deppe of suicide.

The year closed with the savage murder, less than a week before Christmas, of Luke Oil clerk Barbara Heckman at the convenience store at U.S.  6 and Meridian Road in Liberty Township. Twelve hours after Heckman’s body was found,  Bruce Guess and Steven Jorden, both of Liberty Township  were  charged with murder and robbery. 


Dunelanders might remember 2008 as the end of an era, or of eras. Lakeshore Festival Events Inc., the operator of the Wizard of Oz Festival, announced in November that the Yellow Brick Road has at last come to an end. 

Chesterton Fire Chief Warren “Skip” Highwood, a vital member of Porter County’s fire service for 46 years, announced his retirement, effective today. 

And Bill Carmichael, a fixture in local and county politics for a generation (and a world-class shot with a muzzle loader) died. 

The Chesterton Tribune provides the following month-by-month summary of the events of 2008.


Porter County Sheriff’s Police (PCSP) says Randy Swisher, 53, of Jackson Township, shoots his roommate, Chad Nolan, 21, who returns fire, in a New Year’s Day incident; both treated for gunshot wounds. NiSource Inc. admits the outsourcing of business support functions to IBM in 2005—leading to the elimination of 5 percent of employees corporate-wide—failed to produce projected cost savings. Dr. James Callaghan, former family physician in Chesterton, is named new president of Saint Anthony Memorial Health Center in Michigan City.

The Porter County Clerk’s Office restores lunch-time hours. The State Utility Forecasting Group projects electric rates to increase by 20 percent over the next five years. A winter rain floods Duneland, swamps basements, closes roads, and overwhelms the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant. Randy Swisher is charged with aggravated battery and battery with a deadly weapon in connection with the New Year’s Day shooting at his residence in Jackson Township.

The Porter County Council authorizes Sheriff Dave Lain to hire to additional patrol officers. Gov. Mitch Daniels appoints former LaPorte mayor and Republican Leigh Morris to oversee the Indiana Toll Road lease and to chair the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA). Former Duneland School Corporation (DSC) bookkeeper Rogetta Urbahns pleads guilty to one count of theft in connection with the misappropriation of more than $45,000 from two DSC accounts.

Porter County Commissioners John Evans, R-North, and Robert Harper, D-Center, call for a voter referendum on the proposed $1 billion South Shore commuter rail extension. Augsburg Lutheran Church and St. Patrick’s Catholic Church both celebrate 150 years of Christian services in the Duneland community. The body of Michigan State University junior Rylan Cotter, 20, of Okemas, Mich., is found on the Brassie Golf Course.

The Porter County Council retains the firm of former Indiana Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) commissioner Beth Henkel to ensure that the second installment of the 2008 property-tax bills are mailed in November. Chesterton High School (CHS) debate team wins the Ft. Wayne South Side High School tournament. The Chesterton Town Council approves a planned unit development ordinance (PUD) for Sand Creek Farms, a 362-unit single family residential development to be built on 130 acres annexed in 2007 at the terminus of East Porter Ave. east of Friday Road.

DSC teachers attend a Duneland School Board (DSB) meeting, many of them wearing buttons reading “Working Without a Contract.” The Porter County Convention Recreation and Visitor Commission gives its support to the South Shore extension, with the condition that a bill authored by State Rep. Chet Dobis, D-Merrillville, is enacted; under that bill the estimated local match of $350 million would be funded with a Porter and Lake county sales tax, rather than a new regional tax.

The Porter Plan Commission endorses a 595-foot FM transmission tower for WBEZ radio at the site of the former Andershock’s at U.S. Highway 20 and Tremont Road. A fire in Beverly Shores leaves at least five people homeless and kills a cat. Robert Murphy, 49, of Jackson Township, dies in a one vehicle accident at the entrance to Indiana Dunes State Park (IDSP).

The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) conditions its support of the South Shore extension on the Dobis funding formula. The Porter County Commissioners vote 2-1 to rezone 104 acres of land at the intersection of Ind. 49 and U.S. Highway 6 in Liberty Township from Residential-1 to Institutional for the proposed re-location of Porter hospital. The Porter County Commissioners condemn the use of taxpayer-funds by the Regional Development Authority on a marketing campaign in support of the South Shore extension.

“A Day in the Life of Westchester Township” opens at the Westchester Township Historical Museum. The Dobis bill on South Shore funding clears the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee. Aaron Lee Phelps, 17, of Valparaiso, pleads guilty to charges in connection with a fatal accident in 2007 at the intersection of Vale Park Road and Ind. 49, in which one of his passengers was killed while he was fleeing a police officer. RDA Executive Director Tim Sanders defends the use of taxpayer funds on the marketing campaign in support of the South Shore extension.

The Chesterton branch of 1st Source Bank at 800 Indian Boundary Road is robbed. The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce names Julie Kelchak Citizen of the Year and honors Walt and Gloria Rector with the Senior Service Award, as Mark Chamberlain assumes the presidency for 2008, at the annual membership meeting and installation banquet. Michael Haughee, former Hebron Town Council president and a prominent Porter County Democrat, is convicted of sexual battery, criminal confinement, and interfering with the reporting of a crime.

U.S. Steel reports a net income of $879 million or $7.40 per diluted share for 2007, down from a record $1.37 billion or $11.18 per diluted share in 2006, as acquisitions impact the bottom line. CHS debate team qualifies Mike Hadley, Tyler Fabbri, Kurtis Kolb, Riley Golden, Jessica Povlinski, Rachel Marvin, Alex Steciuch, Greg Gantry, and Tom Geairn for the National Forensic League (NFL) national speech and debate tournament in June. Pathway Family Center re-locates to a larger office at 425 Sand Creek Drive in Chesterton.

NiSource Inc. reports a net income of $331.4 million or $1.21 basic earnings per share for 2007, up from $282.2 million or $1.03 basic earnings per share in 2006. The Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club awards a Paul Harris Fellow to Dr. Norm Novak, DDS.


DSC cancels classes after an early morning snowfall. A $46 million INDOT interchange modification project closes I-94/I-65 ramps for an anticipated nine months in Lake County. Duneland Xtreme Sports launches an appeal campaign aimed at local businesses to raise funds for a skateboard park in Chesterton.

An amendment to the Dobis South Shore extension funding bill which would essentially force Porter and Lake counties to remain members of the RDA draws harsh criticism. The Porter Fire Department reports a record year in 2007 with 551 calls, compared to the old record of 458 set in 2006. The Porter County Commissioners abolish comp time, the practice of giving paid time off after employees work more than their standard hours.

Chesterton resident Valerie Brown gets the nod to appear on “The Wheel of Fortune.” Report: the Indiana Department of Corrections stopped sending inmates to the Porter County Jail at the end of 2007 due to overcrowding at the facility. A road salt shortage forces the Chesterton Street Department to go on emergency rations and stop salting side streets.

Chesterton resident John Poparad is presented the Bronze Star, the POW Medal, and seven other decorations which he earned during WWII but never received. Porter County Animal Shelter Director Sandy Ogle resigns in the wake of complaints that she failed to monitor the condition of horses previously in foster care before they were returned to former Animal Welfare Board member Bonnie Frye. The Duneland YMCA Teen Center celebrates its one-year anniversary.

Mark (Jerry) and Dawn Ruge of Burns Harbor celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. The Porter Town Council votes 4-1 to approve a PUD ordinance for the Trails of Porter, to be developed in the Iron Triangle at the northeast corner of Wood Street and South Mineral Springs Road, north of the CSX right-of-way. Porter County Commissioner Robert Harper, D-Center, testifies in favor of property-tax caps before the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee.

ArcelorMittal reports a record net income of $10.368 billion or $7.41 basic earnings per share for 2007, up from a pro forma net income of $7.973 billion or 5.76 basic earnings per share in 2006.

Anonymous fliers spread the false rumor that the Burns Harbor Town Council, in executive session, voted to condemn property and pursue eminent domain proceedings.

The CHS Sandpipers Show Choir is named Grand Champion at the Norwell High School Choir Invitational in Ossian, Ind. Liberty Intermediate School and Jackson Elementary School are named Four-Star Schools, the Indiana Department of Education’s highest academic honor. The CHS debate team wins its 18th state championship, a record.

James and Constance Sherrick of Duneland celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Chesterton resident Kourtney Pogue tapes an episode of “The Wheel of Fortune.” Bonnie Frye, former member of the Porter County Animal Welfare Board, is charged with 10 counts of neglect of a vertebrate animal. Coffee Creek Development I LLC, the Lake Erie Land Company’s joint development partner, is fined $9,400 for MS4 violations at the Village Green Townhomes construction site in Coffee Creek Center.

The Chesterton Utility Service Board offers to provide sanitary sewer service to a new Porter hospital at the intersection of Ind. 49 and U.S. Highway 6 in Liberty Township. The Chesterton Fire Department reports a record year in 2007 with 1,141 calls, compared to the old record of 1.059 set in 2006. Associated Press (AP) reports: President Bush assures Americans that “this country is not recession-bound.”


AP reports: “The cascading fallout from the subprime loan crisis, barely a cloud on the horizon a year ago, is now viewed by experts as the economy’s greatest threat.” CHS Japanese team sweeps all three levels of the Japanese Olympiad of Indiana at DePauw University in Greencastle. CHS Jazz Band earns a Superior Gold at the ISSMA’s annual Jazz Fest at LaPorte High School. 

Duneland teachers win 3.5-percent pay hike plus a 4.5-percent hike in academic year 2009-10, under the terms of their new contract. The CHS speech team takes second at the IHSFA sectional tournament, hosted by CHS. Engineers estimate the cost of mandated upgrades to the Town of Porter’s sanitary sewer collection system at between $4 million and $10 million over five years. 

Porter-Starke Services Inc. announces that it will break ground in the spring on a new $1.5 million 8,000-square foot mental health facility in Portage. 

AP reports: U.S. home foreclosures hit an all-time high in the fourth quarter of 2007. Porter County Coroner Vicki Deppe rules the death of Rylan Cotter a suicide, concluding that she jumped to her death from an electric transmission tower on the Brassie Golf Course. Michael Haughee is sentenced to one year in jail after being found guilty of sexual battery, criminal confinement, and interfering with the reporting of a crime. 

The Porter County Council accepts the recommendation of consultant Beth Henkel to hire, at the cost of $72,000, two additional consultants to assist the Porter County Auditor and township assessors with this year’s property taxes. The Porter County Community Foundation awards a total of $124,058 to 10 not-for-profit organizations. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the City of Portage form a partnership to create Portage Lakefront Park on 57 acres on former Midwest Steel property at Burns Ditch, the first such partnership in the country. 

Girl Scout Troop 389 of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church wins the Girls Scouts Bronze Award. The CHS speech and debate team qualifies four more for the NFL national tournament at the North East Indiana District tourney at Plymouth High School: Zack Stemer, Jackson Fox, Melissa Penfold, and Samantha Kattalia. Aaron Phelps, 17, is sentenced to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges in connection with a fatal accident in 2007. 

The Porter Town Council opts to investigate the feasibility of selling its sanitary sewer collection system. Warren Fasone of Boy Scout Troop 908 wins the Eagle Scout Award. The Liberty Landowners Association files a lawsuit challenging the Porter County Commissioners’ re-zone of land at the intersection of Ind. 49 and U.S. 6 for a re-located Porter hospital. 

AP reports: President Bush says that the economy is in “challenging times.” Nicholas Parry, 20, of Valparaiso, dies in a two vehicle accident on U.S. 6 in Jackson Township. CHS debater Kathleen O’Keefe qualifies for the NFL national tournament at the Northeast Indiana District Congress Tournament at Columbia City High School. 

The Porter County Commissioners name Jennifer Pierce the director of the Animal Shelter. Former DSC bookkeeper Rogetta Urbahns is sentenced to 60 days of community service and three years of formal probation after pleading guilty to theft in connection with the misappropriation of more than $45,000 from two DSC accounts. CHS Business Professionals of America bring home 12 awards from the State Leadership Conference in Indianapolis. 

The private operator of the Indiana Toll Road announces an increase in tolls for motorists paying cash: from $4.65 to $8 for those who drive the entire 157-mile roadway. Chesterton Middle School (CMS) Principal Jim Ton wins the 2009 John Vaughn Excellence in Education Award from the North Central Association on Accreditation and School Improvement. The Indiana General Assembly enacts new property-tax legislation: among other things, the state sales tax rises from 6 percent to 7 percent, in 2010 a 1 percent cap on property taxes takes effect, and the duties of township assessors are transferred to county assessors. 

CMS eighth-grader Chance Culp-Rigg qualifies for the National Geography Bee. Michael Kane, the killer of former CHS student John Trowbridge, is scheduled to be released to a halfway house from the psychiatric institute to which he was committed after being found not guilty of murder for the reason of insanity, under a new Nevada statue—for which Trowbridge’s mother, Robbin Trowbridge-Benko lobbied the state legislature—requiring Kane to be carefully supervised. The Porter Quick Stop at 20 E. U.S. 20 is robbed at gunpoint. 

The death sentence of Odell Corley is upheld; Corley was convicted of murder in the shooting deaths of tellers Chandler Simpson, 59, and Kay Peckat, 52, during the botched robbery of the Pines branch of the First State Bank of Porter. The Chesterton Town Council makes offers totaling $360,475.50 for 16 parcels needed for right-of-way in Phase I of the South Calumet District project. Chesterton artist Mary Ann Pals is honored by Lt. Gov. Becky Stillman in the 2008 Celebration of Hoosier Women Artists competition. 

The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce creates the position of managing director. Lisa Abramson, 35, of Jackson Township, dies in a one vehicle accident on C.R. 400E in Jackson Township. The Lakeshore Bone & Joint Institute is honored as the VNA Physicians of the Year for 2007. 

Jack Batz of Burns Harbor wins several top honors at the 28th annual Southern Grand amateur trapshooting competition in Odessa, Fla. CHS sophomore Brianne Guardiola competes at the World Championship of Irish Dancing in Ireland. 


AP reports: U.S. home-building falls for a record 24th straight month. The Chesterton Tribune begins its 125th straight year of publication. Eric Sharpe, 20, of Portage, is sentenced to four years for his role in two of the burglaries in 2007 of the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant. 

The CHS speech team finishes second at the IHSFA state tournament at Lafayette Jefferson High School. The 12th annual Native Plant Sale is held at the Pavilion at IDSP by the Friends of the Dunes. Public Law 221, an Indiana Department of Education accountability program, places CHS and Liberty Intermediate School on academic watch but ranks Brummitt Elementary School, Bailey Elementary School, and Westchester Intermediate School as “exemplary,” its highest rating. 

The Duneland Unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Porter County names Joe Juarez its unit director. The CHS Winter Guard finishes sixth at the championship competition of the Midwest Color Guard Circuit at Lincoln Way East Highway School in Frankfort, Ill. The Chesterton branch of 1st Source Bank is robbed for the second time in less than three months. The Duneland School Board (DSB) votes unanimously to resume random drug testing at CHS in academic year 2009-10 for students in extracurricular and co-curricular activities. 

CHS is selected to begin an International Baccalaureate program. Burns Harbor Town Council Member and U.S. Marine Reserve Gunnery Sgt. Louis Bain returns safely from his third tour in Iraq. U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, makes a campaign appearance at Washington Township Elementary School. 

Chesterton Economic Development Coordinator Dwayne Williams resigns, prompting the Town Council to earmark his salary for the position of town manager. The Chesterton Town Council retains the services of H.J. Umbaugh & Associates to file a petition with the DLGF seeking an excess levy of $860,583. AP reports: U.S. bankruptcy filings jumped 38 percent in 2007. 

The Porter County Commissioners agree to use $67,000 in county income funds to assist the struggling Portage Adult Education. The Indiana Chapter of the ACLU names State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, its Legislator of the Year, The Porter County Board of Zoning Appeals grants seven variances on signage, curbing, entrance width, parking, and buffers for a re-located Porter hospital. 

A 5.2 magnitude earthquake centered six miles from West Salem, Ill., and 45 miles from Evansville, Ind., rocks Dunelanders awake shortly before dawn. CMS math team wins Grand Championship Prize at the Lake/Porter County Middle School Conference math contest at Fegely Middle School. MOMS Club of Duneland cleans Dunes Friendship Land. 

ISP Trooper Mike Jones and K-9 partner Boss discover $153,900 in cash in a vehicle during a traffic stop on I-94 in Westchester Township; the driver and passenger deny knowledge of the money, which is seized. More than 65 booths participate in the Career/Jobs Fair held at CHS, sponsored by CHS and the Partners in Education Committee of Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce. The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor opens the 2008 international shipping season with a load of 8,610 metric tons of steel coils loaded in Ijmuiden, Holland. 

AP reports: U.S. sales of new homes plunge in March to the lowest level in more than 16 years. Chesterton resident Pearl Warble celebrates her 100th birthday. Eight homes and the Thomas Centennial Park bandstand are refurbished during Duneland Rebuilding Together. 

The Chesterton Tree Committee celebrates Arbor Day by planting three memorial trees on the east side of CMS on Eighth Street. CHS senior Kevin Nault is honored by the Duneland Exchange Club with the Accepting the Challenge of Excellence Award. AP reports: U.S. home prices fell in February at the fastest pace ever. U.S. Steel reports a net income of $235 million or $1.98 per diluted share for the first quarter of 2008. The Chesterton Town Council agrees to purchase a new aerial at a cost of $893,815. CHS Symphonic Orchestra and Wind Ensemble qualify for the State Concert Band Finals in Indianapolis. AP reports: GMC posts a $3.3 billion loss in the first quarter of 2008. 


CMS Principal Jim Ton named Middle School Principal of the Year for District I by the Indiana Association of School Principals and the Horace Mann Companies. U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton make a second campaign stop in Porter County, this one at the United Steelworkers Local 6787’s Duneland Falls Banquet Center. Local 6787 member Russell Payne, 60, of Portage, dies in a crushing accident at ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor facility. 

NiSource Inc. reports a net income of $99.3 million or 36 cents basic earnings per share for the first quarter of 2008. Less than two months after being appointed director of the Porter County Animal Shelter, Jennifer Pierce resigns, citing differences of opinion with the Animal Welfare Board. The DSB agrees to purchase 37.8 acres at the northeast corner of C.R. 1050N and C.R. 250E in Jackson Township for two new school facilities; as part of the deal, it also agrees to donate $200,000 to the Town of Chesterton for development of a new park east of Ind. 49. Joshua Don Young, 28, of Lake Station, is charged with two counts of assault in federal court in connection with an attack on two National Park Service rangers at the INDU campground in Beverly Shores.

U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton narrowly wins the Indiana primary election for the Democratic nomination for president; Jill Long Thompson, the Democratic nomination for governor; Dale Brewer, the Republican nomination for Porter County Treasurer; Jim Murphy, the Republican nomination for the South seat on the Porter County Commissioners; incumbent State Rep. Ed Soliday, the Republican nomination for the 4th District seat in the Indiana House; Chuck Moseley, the Democratic nomination for the 10th District seat in the Indiana House held by Greg Simms; Republicans Jim Burge, Bill Carmichael, and Sandra Snyder and Democrats Laura Blaney, Sylvia Graham, and Dan Whitten are the top vote getters for the at-large seats on the Porter County Council. 

CHS Honors Economic students advise the Chesterton Town Council, in a presentation at a special meeting in the CHS auditorium, to give a town manager the authority to hire and fire, their consensus recommendation following an in-depth study of the issue. St. John’s United Church announces Phase I of a proposed $1.2 million expansion. 

CHS juniors Jessica Povlinski and Kevin Kokesh receive the Rotary Youth Leadership Award from the Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club. Indian Boundary Road from Ind. 49 to North Calumet Road is re-paved at an estimated cost of $250,000 in TIF funds. The Chesterton Hometown Improvement Project holds its fifth annual Downtown Cleanup Day. 

ArcelorMittal reports a net income of $2.371 billion or $1.69 per share for the first quarter of 2008. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, endorses U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., for president. The CHS Jazz Ensemble holds the 35th edition of All that Jazz. 

The Porter County Commissioners disband the Animal Welfare Board and hire Judy Bonaventura to direct the Animal Shelter. Steve and Raymond Brickner, owners and operators of The Flower Cart, announce plans to build a new store from scratch on the site of the old Chesterton Muffler Man site at South Calumet Road and Indiana Ave. Timothy Shawn Dunn, 48, of Chesterton, is convicted in federal court in connection with a $60 million tax fraud conspiracy. The Chesterton branch of Chase Bank is robbed, the third bank robbery in Chesterton in less than five months. 

The emerald ash borer, a non-native insect, is identified in young and mature ash trees on the west edge of Chesterton. Town of Chesterton employees hold a benefit fundraiser for Street Department employee Phil Criswell, being treated for esophageal cancer. The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission awards the contract for Phase I of the South Calumet District project to Walsh & Kelly Inc., for its low bid of $519,352.84. 

IDSP celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Prairie Club. Illinois trucker Mark Flock, 51, dies in a horrific three vehicle accident at the intersection of Ind. 49 and Gateway Blvd. The Porter Police Department tells the Chesterton Tribune that investigators are developing new information in the murder of David Wahoske, shot to death in his kitchen on Beam Street in October 2000. The Chesterton Town Council informs Able Disposal that it will hold the company to the terms of the contract, which make no provision for fuel surcharges, after Able indicates that it plans to add surcharges in the wake of spiking fuel prices. The European Market opens another season in Downtown Chesterton. 


Jackson Township resident Edith Johnson celebrates her 100th birthday. Jeffry Krafft of Merrillville wins Best of Show and First Award in the 57th annual GFWC Chesterton Woman’s Club Art Show; the other First Award goes to Robert D. Williams. The 2008 W.R. Canright Outstanding CHS Senior Journalist Award is shared by Melissa Kogler and Christine Lambert. 

The Porter County Treasurer’s Office mails provisional property-tax bills. The Duneland Key Communicator Committee calls the addition of a new—and sixth—elementary school the “number-one short-term need” of the DSC. Robert Kelly, CHS communications teacher and speech sponsor, is inducted into the National Forensic League Hall of Fame. 

AP reports: U.S. home foreclosures set a record in the first quarter. The Chesterton Muffler Man building is demolished to make way for a new Flower Cart. AP reports: the nation’s unemployment rate jumped to 5.5 percent in May, the biggest monthly rise since 1986, as employers cut 49,000 jobs. 

The Senior Nutrition Site at Hawthorne Park in Porter to close for lack of participants. The 118th CHS commencement is held for the Class of 2008. The Duneland Exchange Club presents the Book of Golden Deeds Award to John and Dan Johnston, volunteers at the Duneland United Churches Resale Shop. 

A scene from Public Enemies, starring Johnny Depp, is shot at IDSP. Thomas Peak, 78, of Westchester Township, dies after his tractor overturns and crushes him while he is mowing grass along U.S. 20. The Duneland Business Initiative Group (DBIG) holds Old Fashioned Day at Thomas Centennial Park. 

A sanitary sewer force main fails beneath Porter Ave. between Fifth and Eighth streets. CHS Club Earth plants nearly 1,000 native plants to restore a wetland area at Dogwood Park. The Chesterton Utility Service Board votes 3-2 to endorse a single-phase sanitary sewer rate hike of 14 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2009; members John Schnadenberg and Jim Raffin prefer a two-phase hike of 7 percent in the first year and 7 percent in the second. 

The Friends of Indiana Dunes donates $1,000 for three bicycles to be used by DNR security personnel at IDSP. AP reports: the FBI has arrested more than 300 real estate industry players since March in a crackdown on mortgage fraud. The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce appoints Heather Ennis to fill the newly created position of managing director. 

Twenty-seven local teams participate in Duneland’s third annual American Cancer Society Relay for Life at the CHS athletic field. The CHS speech and debate team posts one of its best showings in years at the NFL national tournament in Las Vegas: the public forum team of Mike Hadley and Tyler Fabbri finishes 12th of 246 teams, while CHS wins the NFL School of Excellence Debate Team Award and the Bruno E. Jacob Award for cumulative rounds of competition. Jeremiah Leffel, 34, of Chesterton, and his father Joseph Leffel, 59, of Falls River, Idaho, die in a rafting accident on the Alsek River in Kluane National Park in the Canadian Yukon. 

John Norris, 48, of Valparaiso, is charged with the murder of his girlfriend, Elizabeth Lepucki. Liberty Township resident Alan Hewitt resigns his seat on the Porter County Drainage Board after opposing two new developments, The Preserve and Timberland Farms, in rural Liberty Township. Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa acquits Ohio trucker Sampson Boadi of reckless homicide in connection with a fatal accident in October 2006; Valparaiso Police said that Boadi ran a red light on Ind. 49 before plowing into Liberty Township resident Earl Eaton’s vehicle. 

The Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals grants variances for a scooter dealership at 310 S. Calumet Road. What would become the Chicago South Shore and South Bend Railroad began on June 30, 1908, with service between South Bend and Michigan City. The Duneland Exchange Club holds its fifth annual Frog Hunt and Community Picnic at Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve. 


The Chesterton branch of LaPorte Savings Bank at 651 Indian Boundary Road is robbed, the fourth bank robbery in Chesterton this year. The Duneland YMCA launches its 2008 fundraising campaign, with a goal of $40,000 to provide scholarships to children and families to participate in YMCA programs. Freddie Mullins, 62, of Michigan City, dies when he loses control of his motorcycle on U.S. 20 just east of Waverly Road.

William “Bud” Tilden is named the King of Porter’s sesquicentennial celebration, Ruth “Babe” Poparad the Queen, and Maxine Erickson Rankin—Queen of Porter’s 1958 Centennial Celebration—returns home to serve as Honorary Queen. The Independence Day Parade in Duneland is celebrated in conjunction with Porter Sesquicentennial Parade, while housing development on the west side of Dogwood Park precludes the traditional July 4 fireworks at that location.

The United Steelworkers, North America’s largest private sector union, merges with Unite the Union, the largest labor organization in the United Kingdom and Ireland, to form the world’s first global union. The Burns Harbor Advisory Plan Commission votes 4-2 to endorse an 18-month development moratorium, to buy time in the quickly growing town to review, amend, and possibly overhaul the 1994 Comprehensive Plan, last updated in 2003. Brenda Brueckheimer is named Porter Citizen of the Year.

The Walgreen’s Pharmacy at 580 Indian Boundary Road is robbed of unspecified controlled substances by a man implying possession of a gun. Four swimmers narrowly avoid drowning in a rip current off the unguarded Dunbar Beach in INDU. DeVante Jackson, 14, of Chicago drowns in a rip current off the unguarded Kemil Beach in INDU. Saint Anthony Memorial Health Center announces plans to build a $20 million free-standing emergency department on the site of the old Jewel/Osco on Indian Boundary Road.

The Chesterton Town Council approves a beefed up town manager ordinance, which gives that position a supervisory function and the authority to hire and fire. The DSB agrees to stop accepting students who do not reside in the DSC but who pay tuition to attend schools here.

DBIG holds Bark in the Park at Thomas Centennial Park. CHS student Ethan Hall swims 23 of the 29 miles across Lake Michigan to Chicago, battling six-foot waves to raise money for junior diabetes research. The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission votes unanimously to endorse a PUD ordinance which would permit I-80 Partners LLC to develop what would be the largest commercial project in the town’s history, on a site immediately south of the Indiana Toll Road and east of Ind. 49, potentially to include retail space, a hotel, medical facilities, and a big-box anchor like Wal-Mart, following a public hearing at which opponents outnumbered supporters.

The Porter County Fair opens. The cost of replacing a failed sanitary sewer force main beneath Porter Ave. is estimated at $450,000. Chesterton Utility Service Board President Larry Brandt, citing a shortfall in Utility revenues, calls for more development to increase the number of customers.

Alysha M. Ramos, 17, of Westville, is waived into adult court to face charges in connection with a crash which killed her passenger, Alisha Purnick, 17, of Liberty Township; the Porter County Sheriff’s Police say that Ramos was intoxicated at the time of the accident. Bricklayers Local 4 pickets the construction site of the new Auto Zone on Indian Boundary Road, protesting Auto Zone’s use of a non-union masonry subcontractor based in Springfield, Mo. The Porter County Election Board votes 2-1 to deny the request of the Porter County Commissioners to hold a non-binding referendum in the November election which would have asked voters if they would support a new tax for the South Shore extension.

The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce names Tricia Howe its Volunteer of the Year, Dan Johnston its Humanitarian of the Year, and Ann Howard the Duneland Distinguished Woman. Former INDU Superintendent Dale Engquist receives the U.S. Department of Interior’s Distinguished Service Award. U.S. Steel reports a a record net income of $668 million or $5.65 per diluted share for the second quarter of 2008.

The Chesterton Town Council votes unanimously to approve the PUD ordinance for Coffee Creek Crossing, what could be the town’s largest commercial development ever, to be built immediately south of the Indiana Toll Road and east of Ind. 49. The Chesterton Police Department says that a man shot and killed by South Bend Police, reportedly after robbing a bank there—identified as Brian Szuflita, residence unknown—may have been responsible for robbing two banks in Chesterton as well as the Walgreen’s Pharmacy earlier in the year.

The picket of the Auto Zone construction site by Bricklayers Local 4 results in an agreement with the masonry subcontractor under which six members of Local 4 and three members of Laborers Local 81 get jobs on the building.


AP reports: The U.S. Surface Transportation Board issues a draft environmental impact statement which states that the South Shore extension is not “a reasonably foreseeable future action.” AP reports: GMC posts a $15.5 billion loss in the second quarter of 2008. Raphael Palomar, 13, of Chicago, drowns in a rip current off the unguarded Porter Beach in INDU, the second child to drown this summer on a beach in the park not patrolled by lifeguards. 

The Chesterton Art Fair celebrates its 50th anniversary in Hawthorne Park in Porter. ArcelorMittal announces plans to build a $600 million electric-steelmaking facility in Mexico. A two-punch storm blasts through Porter County, leaving Duneland relatively unscathed but toppling trees and flooding roads elsewhere in the county. 

Ralph Ayres announces his resignation as executive director of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association. AP reports: Fannie Mae posts a $2.3 billion loss in the second quarter of 2008, as high-risk mortgage defaults rise. The Chesterton Montessori School celebrates its 25th anniversary. 

The Porter County Health Department reports a mosquito pool in the county has tested positive for the West Nile virus. The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce holds its fourth annual Party in the Park in Thomas Centennial Park. The Porter County Council and the Porter County Commissioners unanimously re-appoint Gus Olympidis as their representative on the RDA. 

The United Steelworkers and U.S. Steel reach a tentative four-year labor agreement covering the 16,000 members at the company’s domestic facilities. AP reports: U.S. foreclosure filings jumped 55 percent in July. One month after endorsing an 18-month development moratorium, the Burns Harbor Advisory Plan Commission asks the Town Council to take no action yet on such a moratorium. 

ArcelorMittal reports a net income of $5.839 billion or $4.20 basic earnings per share for the second quarter of 2008. Sheriff Dave Lain warns the Porter County Council that a move to rescind overtime pay will take police officers off the roads and jailers out of the jail. Lance Stroobandt, 37, of Michigan City, dies in a two vehicle accident on U.S. 20 at Wagner Road, and Brian Allan Otto, 24, is charged with OWI in connection with the crash. 

Randy Swisher is convicted of aggravated battery and battery with a deadly weapon in connection with a New Year’s Day shooting. Local law enforcement agencies seize and burn multiple dump-truck loads of wild-growing marijuana from an undisclosed site on INDU property. A CMS student is arrested on a delinquency charge of possession of marijuana on the first day of classes. 

According to the Indiana Department of Health, Porter hospital reported no medical errors in 2008. AP reports: U.S. home prices drop by a record amount in the second quarter. AP reports: the FDIC announces that bank profits fell by 86 percent in the second quarter. Porter Town Council Member Bill Sexton, R-1st, resigns his seat to move to Merrillville. 

The Porter Town Council votes 4-1 to approve a 30-percent increase in the sanitary sewer hike, with an additional 30-percent hike tentatively planned to take effect at the end of 2009, to guarantee repayment of a $4 million revenue bond floated to finance mandated upgrades to the collection system. All United Steelworkers locals representing steelmakers at ArcelorMittal’s U.S. facilities vote to authorize International President Leo Gerard to call a strike if a new contract is not reached by the expiration of the old one at midnight on the last day of the month. 

Porter County Republican Party Chair Chuck Williams breaks a 2-2 tie in a caucus to tap Todd Martin, a resident of the Town of Porter for only three months, to the 1st District seat on the Town Council vacated by Bill Sexton. The United Steelworkers and ArcelorMittal reach a tentative three-year labor agreement—described as “pattern-plus” by Local 6787 President Paul Gipson—less than 48 hours before the current contract expires and members were scheduled to go on strike. 


Some 250 employees of Priority Trucking—which began business as KAT Inc. and opened its Chesterton headquarters in 1983—lose their jobs when the holding company which acquired KAT in 1999 opts to liquidate its assets. NIPSCO files a proposal with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for a two-phase electric rate increase, under which the average residential customer’s bill would rise by 8.86 percent in the first phase and by 6.64 percent in the second. 

The DSC reports that CHS students out-performed the state average on the SAT, ACT, and GQE. The United Steelworkers ratifies a new four-year labor agreement with U.S. Steel. Local municipalities are hit by the soaring price—as well as by the scarcity—of road salt, with the likelihood that motorists will find roadways slicker than usual during the upcoming winter. 

NICTD Board of Trustees Chair Mark Yagelski defends the proposed South Shore expansion in testimony before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. INDU Superintendent Constantine Dillon tells the Chesterton Tribune that it would be “prohibitively expensive” for the park to hire enough lifeguards to patrol all of the six currently unguarded beaches in INDU. AP reports: Lehman Brothers, a 158-year-old investment bank, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. 

More than 12 inches of rain drench Duneland in 72 hours, swamping the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant, causing the Gustafson and Pope O’Conner ditches to breach their banks, flooding basements, and closing roads, in a catastrophic weather event. Chesterton residents John Thanos, 74, and his son, Mark Thanos, 48, die as heroes, drowning after leaping in a rushing drainage ditch in the Westchester South subdivision to save a 10-year-old boy who had been swept away; the boy survived. The parking lot by the Pavilion at IDSP collapses into a sink hole after the flooding Dunes Creek washed away the sand beneath the asphalt. Gov. Mitch Daniels—who pays a visit to the Chesterton town hall to confer with officials—signs an executive order declaring a disaster emergency in Porter and Lake counties. State and federal FEMA agencies rush to establish local relief centers. 

The Porter County Commissioners reject all three bids for an expansion of the Animal Shelter and opt to re-bid in the hope of lowering the cost of the project. Lloyd Ogilvie is the keynote speaker a the annual Community Prayer Breakfast. AP reports: the Federal Reserve bails out AIG with an $85 billion injection, in return for which the government takes an 80-percent stake in the company. 

AP reports: U.S. new home construction fell to the lowest level in 17 months in August. The Northwest Indiana Migratory Bird Association holds a Big Sit Birdathon at the old Green Tower site at IDSP to raise funds for a new observation tower at the west edge of the park. Dunes Acres living legends Ruth Osann, Barbara Plampin, and Harry Mark Petrakis are honored at the opening of Dunes Acres exhibit at the Westchester Township Historical Museum. The annual Duneland Harvest Festival is held at INDU. 

The Duneland United Churches Resale Shop buys the old WiseWay Foods at 801 Broadway and plans to move its operations there early in 2009. Brianna Cauley, 10, of Madison, Wis., is reported to be in critical condition after being rescued from near drowning off Kemil Beach in INDU. Former NBC news anchor Jane Pauley participates in a panel discussion at Local 6787’s Duneland Falls Banquet Center in support of Obama campaign for presidency. 

Fifteen Chesterton residents file a petition with the DLGF objecting to the Town of Chesterton’s appeal for an excess levy of $860,583. IDSP selects a design consultant to prepare options for restoring the Pavilion parking lot. The Chesterton Lions Club celebrates its 75th anniversary. 

Tourism consultants Roger Brooks and Monica Dixon urge Duneland officials and businesses to increase the “curb appeal” of their towns, at a presentation held at the Porter County Visitors Center and sponsored by the PCCRVC. 

AP reports: President Bush warns that “the entire economy is in danger.” Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa sentences Randy Swisher to 20 years for the New Year’s Day shooting, after information emerges that Swisher tried to persuade family members to exact vengeance on persons responsible for his conviction, including court officials. The financial meltdown stalls the plan of Porter-Starke Services Inc. to build a new mental health facility in Portage. 

NICTD confirms that it is revising its plans for the $1 billion South Shore extension and says that it may build one leg at a time, rather then both simultaneously, although NICTD cannot say whether it will build the Valparaiso or the Lowell leg first. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, votes against the $700 billion bailout of troubled financial institutions; U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, votes in favor of it. 


FEMA continues to staff local disaster recovery center in the wake of the September floods. The Cook County, Ill., Medical Examiner’s Office rules the death of Chesterton area infant Nicholas B. Munden a homicide after he dies at the University of Chicago Hospital, where he was transported for “treatment of an unknown medical condition.” David Squires, Chesterton Postmaster since 2001, retires. 

The CHS Trojan Guard takes Gold at the ISSMA district competition. AP reports: the price of oil falls below $90 per barrel, a 40-percent drop since peaking in July, as the financial meltdown spreads. AP reports: the Dow Jones tumbles 500 points and falls below 10,000 for the first time in four years. 

The financial meltdown temporarily delays the DSC’s plan to refinance the bond used to build the new CHS. AP reports: the staggering economy causes a scuttling of the plan to build a $62 million ethanol plant in Starke County. A home built by the CHS building trades program in Jackson Township sells for $287,000. 

The Indiana Department of Education ranks Jackson Elementary School a Four-Star School, the state’s highest academic honor. IDSP holds its Fall Funfest and Storytellers Festival. Bonnie Frye, former member of the Porter County Animal Welfare Board, pleads guilty to 10 counts of animal neglect and is sentenced to 30 days of community service and year of unsupervised probation. 

The National Forensic League honors the CHS speech and debate team with its Leading Chapter Award in the Northeast Indiana District, recognizing it as one of the Top 100 in the nation. The Chesterton Lions Club floats its plan for a two-day Duck Race Festival in June 2009, with events in Thomas Centennial and Dogwood parks. AP reports: the fear of recession has begun to trump the fear of inflation. 

By mid-October more than 1,800 Porter County residents have cast their ballots in early voting, the Porter County Election Board reports. The CHS Trojan Guard advances to the semi-state competition after a solid performance at the regional. 

ArcelorMittal announces the idling of four blast furnaces at its U.S. facilities and its plans temporarily to reduce the workforce, as part of a ramp-down in production prompted by the credit crisis. AP reports: Fifth Third Bancorp posts an $81 million loss in the third quarter. Brianna Cauley, 11, of Madison, Wis., dies of injuries sustained after her near-drowning off Kemil Beach in INDU. 

Lawrence K. Hill, 40, of Chicago, a suspect in a fatal stabbing in Portage only a few hours earlier, kills both himself and his 2-year-old son after crashing his vehicle into a police squad on U.S. 20, just east of Beam Street. Residents ask the Chesterton Stormwater Management Board to intercede with the Porter County Drainage Board to get the Gustafson and Pope O’Conner ditches cleaned, in the wake of the September floods. AP reports: U.S. home foreclosures jump 71 percent in the third quarter. 

The CHS Trojan Guard ends its season at the ISSMA semi-state competition. A reportedly intoxicated driver hits a NIPSCO pole on Woodlawn Ave., causing a power surge which fries the whole of the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant’s automated computer system. AP reports: consumer confidence falls to the lowest level ever, since a private research group called The Conference Board began tracking it in 1967. 

U.S. Steel sets a record quarterly net profit of $919 million or $7.79 per diluted share for the third quarter of 2008, yet its projection for the fourth quarter and beyond is grim. The Chesterton Town Council votes 5-0 to annex 85 acres south of the Indiana Toll Road, the second trans-Toll Road annexation, over the objections of unincorporated Liberty Township residents. 

The Chesterton Town Council awards the next three-year refuse and recycling contract to Able Disposal, whose low bid nevertheless reflects a 38-percent increase in the contract price in its first year. CMS Principal Jim Ton is named Principal of the Year for Northwest Indiana by the Indiana Association of School Principals. DBIG sponsors the Three Days and Nights of Halloween. 


The Porter County Highway Department has an open house at its new North County Garage on C.R. 200E. Mark Easter, 21, of South Haven, is found guilty of murder in the beating death of Christopher Janus, 15, also of South Haven, in June 2007. U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., wows the region with a campaign rally at Wicker Park in Highland. 

Amanda Buchta, 20, of LaPorte, is charged in connection with a fatal crash on U.S. 6 in Jackson Township in September 2008, in which passenger Adam Candlar, 19, also of LaPorte, was killed. AP reports: U.S. auto sales fall to their lowest level in 17 years. NiSource Inc. reports a net income of $20 million or 8 cents basic earnings per share for the third quarter of 2008. 

The DSC reports that 46 students were expelled in academic year 2007-08, compared to 49 in the previous school year. Jared Altman, 19, of Chesterton, dies in a two vehicle crash on U.S. 20 in Westchester Township. ArcelorMittal reports a net income of $3.8 billion or $2.79 basic earnings per share in the third quarter of 2008, a fall-off in earnings attributed to a decrease in shipments and sales. 

U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., becomes the first Democratic presidential candidate to win in Indiana since LBJ in 1964, while Democrat Jill Long Thompson wins Porter County but loses the state to incumbent Republican Mitch Daniels in the race for governor. In Porter County Democrats romp. The winners: Mike Bucko, Porter County Treasurer; Carole Knoblock, Porter County Commissioner, South; Laura Blaney, Sylvia Graham, and Dan Whitten, Porter County Council, at-large; David Chidester, Porter Superior Court, District 4. The only Republicans to win in county-wide races are incumbents: Roger Bradford, Porter Superior Court, District 1; and John Evans, Porter County Commissioner, North. In a non-partisan race Janice Custer is re-elected to the Duneland School Board. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, and U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly, D-2nd, also win re-election, as does State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, to his 4th District seat. Democrat Charles Moseley wins election to the 10th District seat in the Indiana House. 

Two fatal crashes occur in Liberty Township in less than an hour: Joseph Cusson, 27, of Lake Station, dies in a two vehicle accident on C.R. 900N, and George Richart, 69, dies in a five vehicle accident on Ind. 49. AP reports: U.S. joblessness soars to its highest level in 14 years. AP reports: GMC posts a $2.5 billion loss in the third quarter. The CHS debate team wins the championship at Munster High School. 

The Chesterton Town Council proclaims Warren “Skip” Highwood Day in the Town of Chesterton. The Town of Chesterton posts a job ad for the position of town manager. Harris Bank opens its Chesterton branch on Ind. 49 and 1100N. The Porter County Foundation awards nearly $300,000 to 30 not-for-profits. 

The CHS speech team holds the annual Skeffington Memorial Speech Invitational at CHS. U.S. Steel lays off 500 United Steelworkers members, 100 of them in Northwest Indiana. Porter County Coroner Vicki Deppe says that former coroner and present Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, refuses to turn over to her office old records in his possession. 

A fundraising dinner is held for Jim Branham, former chief of the Liberty Township and South Haven fire departments and director of the Porter County Fire Investigation Strike Team, as he battles esophageal cancer. AP reports: Citigroup announces that it will cut an additional 53,000 jobs. The CHS speech team takes top honors at the Culver Academy Speech Invitational. 

The CHS debate team dominates the Valparaiso Debate Tournament. A nine-inch lake-effect snowfall blankets Duneland in a late-fall storm. AP reports: U.S. wholesale prices dropped a record 2.8 percent in October. The AP reports: U.S. jobless claims jump to a 16-year high. 

INDOT and the Chesterton Street Department are sued by the estate of Virginia Wehner, 76, of Portage, who died in October 2008 in a three vehicle crash at the intersection of Ind. 49 and Gateway Blvd., after the driver of the vehicle in which she was a passenger turned left against a red light; the suit claims that the configuration of the traffic signal was confusing. 

United Steelworkers Local 6787 President Paul Gipson calls ArcelorMittal’s notification of the possible layoff in January of 2,444 members at the Burns Harbor facility a “gun” held to the union’s “head.” The Chesterton Tribune celebrates the 50th anniversary of Pigskin Pigs. The DLGF grants the whole of the Town of Chesterton’s excess levy appeal of $860,583 but phases it over three years. AP reports: U.S. new home sales fell to the lowest level in nearly 18 years in October. 

ArcelorMittal agrees to reduce the number of proposed layoffs at its Burns Harbor facility from 2,444 to fewer than 500. The Wizard of Oz Festival is retired by Lakeshore Festival Events after a 27-year run; the September floods are blamed as well as the advanced age of the Munchkins. The Hometown Christmas Parade is held in Downtown Chesterton. The Flower Cart opens for business at its new location at South Calumet Road and Indiana Ave. 


AP reports: the U.S. manufacturing index drops to a 26-year low. U.S. Steel announces the idling of three facilities and the layoff of 3,500 workers. R.V. Sutton Inc. makes of donation of $11,307 worth of lights and light poles for installation at Dogwood Park.

Hunters harvest a total of 42 deer over four days, in two phases, during this year’s cull at IDSP. Timothy Shawn Dunn, 48, of Chesterton, is sentenced to 17 years in federal prison after being convicted earlier in the year of tax fraud. DSC students beat the state averages on ISTEP results at all grade levels.

Anthony Miller, 21, of Chesterton, is sentenced to eight years in prison in connection with a rash of business burglaries in 2007. AP reports: 533,000 jobs were cut in November, the most in 34 years. The CHS Music Department holds the 36th annual Madrigal Dinner.

William Carmichael, 77, of Chesterton, a fixture in local and county government for more than 30 years, dies; Carmichael was in his twelfth year as an at-large member of the Porter County Council and had served 16 years as a Porter County Commissioner.

Porter-Starke Services Inc. Vice-president Rocco Schirali is named the new president and CEO after the resignation of David Lomaka. Porter County property-tax bills are late once again this year and the Tribune reports that they may not be mailed until the New Year. The Chesterton Town Council votes 5-0 to raise the refuse and recycling rate by 38 percent and then 3-2 to raise the sanitary sewer rate by 14 percent.

The CHS debate team take first place at the LaPorte High School Invitational. Keith and Gloria Simms re-open Porter Zip Foods. Long-time Porter County Attorney Dave Hollenbeck announces that he will not seek re-appointment to that post in the New Year.

Chesterton Fire Chief Warren “Skip” Highwood announces his resignation, effective Dec. 31, after 46 years in the fire service. A local group announces that it will try to return a resurrected Wizard of Oz Festival to Chesterton. The 14th annual Duneland Community Advent Festival is held at St. Patrick Catholic Church.

Pathway Family Center re-locates to a new site at 804 Canonie Drive in Porter. The Porter Town Council votes 4-1 to double the current monthly refuse and recycling fee of $5 and tentatively to increase it to $11 in 2010 and to $12 in 2011. The Save the Dunes Shop celebrates its 35th year of supporting dunes preservation.

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, and U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., both vote in favor of an automaker bailout. The CHS speech team takes first at the Elkhart Central High School Blazer Invitational. CHS hosts the 17th annual CHS Debate Invitational. Michael Anton of the Anton Insurance Agency of Chesterton is named 2008 Director of the Year by the Independent Insurance Agents of Indiana.

The Porter BZA votes unanimously to approve a use variance permitting State Park Little League to expand its facilities in a residential zone on property donated by Ron McColley of McColley Real Estate. Congress approves $17.4 billion in rescue loans for U.S. automakers. An ice storm prompts the DSC to cancel classes.

Richard and Helen Henderson of Chesterton celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. The Westchester Public Library Board opts not to give raises to the system’s 70 employees in 2009 and then to name Suzanne Chomel as the new branch manager at Hageman Library. Bruce Guess, 18, and Steven Jorden, 19, both of Liberty Township, are charged with murder and robbery after the Porter County Sheriff’s Police said that they bludgeoned to death Luke Oil clerk Barbara Heckman, 42, of Portage, while they were robbing the store at 51 E. U.S. 6 in Liberty Township.

NIPSCO amends its rate case before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission; it now is seeking a single-phase hike in the residential electric rate of 14.34 percent, in place of a two-phase hike of 15.5 percent. The Indiana Court of Appeals reverses Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper’s vacation in November 2007 of the Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission’s secondary plat approval of Lot 73 in Rose Hill Estates. Freezing rain glazes local and regional roads and highways into skating rinks, bringing early morning traffic to a dead stop.

New non-profit organization is formed to support increased funding for adult education programs. Porter-Starke’s methadone clinic for opiate treatment receives a three-year accreditation. Porter officials approve a $89,500 software purchase for the police department, while hike the per-household monthly trash fee 100 percent.


Posted 12/31/2008