Chesterton Tribune

2001 Year in Review: This too shall pass

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By KEVIN NEVERS

We spent the first eight months and 10 days of 2001 dickering and bickering, scrambling for a living and living in denial, as though the last decade of the twentieth century would last forever.

We worried about sanitary sewer systems and sidewalks, about planned unit development ordinances and town halls, somehow unaware that as Americans we are despised. We cheered the athletes of Chesterton High School to glory in their spanking new facilities, and never for a minute stopped to think whether the Duneland Difference might be less our due as middle-class suburbanites than the accident of a local industry.

And then, on the 253rd day of the year, moments after we’d arrived at work, before we’d even finished our first cup of coffee, our world, the world, changed utterly.

At 8 a.m. Sept. 11 we never could have predicted this slaughter. By midnight we wondered how our government could not have anticipated it—and by anticipating it prevent it—so evilly simple was the hijackers’ plan and so gleeful was the Arab Street.

Dunelanders responded to the crisis as Americans did everywhere. We unfurled our flags, donated money and blood, prayed, wept, and cursed, then returned to our jobs and lives because we had no choice.

We did one thing many other communities perhaps would not have done, however. While the dust and ash were still rising over the New York City skyline, the Oz Festival proceeded. Not everyone was pleased by the decision to go with the festival—it seemed to some mercenary and callous—yet in fairness to the Duneland Chamber of Commerce no practical way would have existed to inform attendees, as they made their way overland to Chesterton from all parts of country, of a cancellation.

In the end the Oz Festival was a moral success. The children—whose tender sensibilities the Chamber claimed to be protecting—did enjoy the color and the hoopla and maybe for a few hours they were able to forget this thing they could not possibly understand. The Oz Parade, led by Chesterton’s firefighters in funeral cortege, was a dignified tribute to our martyrs and heroes. And something like $11,000 was collected for relief efforts.

A few days later the CFD organized a candlelight prayer vigil in Thomas Centennial Park, and in grief and anger we joined our hearts again in a pledge never to forget.

A few weeks later the United States went to war. And so our nation will be still as 2002 opens in uncertainty but also with hope.

Steel

Yet the collapse of the World Trade Center possesses a dire symbolism little reported outside those places where integrated mills are the backbone of local economies: the Twin Towers were constructed of foreign steel.

And so after years of warnings and pleadings from Bethlehem Steel Corporation and the United Steelworkers of America about the damage done to the domestic industry by dumped and subsidized imports—after one quarter after another of net losses in the tens of millions of dollars and then in the hundreds of millions—Bethlehem on Oct. 15 filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, only 10 days after the U.S. International Trade Commission convened a public field hearing in Merrillville to take testimony on the impact of foreign steel.

We see now the inevitability of that filing. We may even wonder how Bethlehem could have limped along as long as it did bleeding from the jugular. Yet we were nevertheless unprepared for this disaster, as we were for Sept. 11.

Local taxing units began to brace immediately for the backblow, and it was not long in coming. Bethlehem announced early in November that it would pay neither its second installment of property taxes in 2001—estimated at $10 million—nor either installment in 2002. The Northwest Indiana delegation of the General Assembly lost no time in putting together proposed legislation along the lines of that enacted earlier this year for local taxing units affected by the bankruptcy of LTV Steel: an emergency no-interest loan of $30 million to tide over the municipalities and the Duneland School Corporation.

But a combination of indifference, demagoguing, resentment, and cold feet conspired on Organizing Day—the one-day session held Nov. 20, and the only possibly day on which the bailout legislation could have been approved in time to help local taxing units before their tax anticipation warrants fell due—to leave Duneland with no better than an administrative relief package which offered precious little in the way of relief.

Thus the Town of Burns Harbor announced layoffs and slashed services. The Westchester Township Public Library similarly took to the knife and, beginning on Jan. 2, users will find its staff and hours and programs cut to the bone.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, this region’s tireless champion, ran his head into committee and Republican brick walls in a fruitless bid to introduce legislation which would have provided integrated steel with cash to defray the colossal burden of legacy costs: the health care benefits which U.S. steel makers owe to its retirees and which have become the single greatest obstacle to a necessary consolidation of the industry.

But as Visclosky has made clear, competing interests make the salvation of integrated steel a tricky proposition. Forget the free-traders who dislike tariffs and quotas on principle. Forget the consumers of steel who like the cheap imported product. Minimills—which have no legacy costs, which by and large are non-union shops—would just as soon see the old-time integrateds close so as squeeze out some of the overcapacity in the marketplace and grab some of their market share.

Here in Duneland we can only hold our breath and hope that something good happens. Hope that Bethlehem can pull itself out of its black hole and return to profitability. Hope that we can find our way back to our way of life, chastened perhaps but still strong.

January

Blizzard buries Duneland on New Year’s Day. The Burns Harbor Town Council reverses its Dec. 27 decision and votes 4-1 to re-appoint Larry Shinneman as Town Marshal, after John Shelhart declines to accept offered position. The Chesterton Town Council votes 5-0 to authorize the Lake Erie Land Company to transfer 168 acres of the Coffee Creek corridor to the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy.

Westchester Township resident Jan Steiner, one of the founding members of the Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America, dies at 80. At the second economic development summit, Chesterton officials and business leaders craft a five-point action plan aimed at smart growth. The Indiana General Assembly opens its 2001 session with talk of bipartisanship.

The Chesterton Town Council votes 3-2 to fire Building Commissioner Ronnie Marquardt. The Dune Acres Town Council votes 3-0 to pursue a cull of as many as 10 deer, per a permit issued by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The Porter Town Council votes 3-2 not to re-appoint Linda Hodges to the Police Commission but to replace her with former council member Bill Donley.

The Porter County Plan Commission votes 9-0 to approve the primary plat for Papillon Estates, a 36-lot subdivision slated for a 65-acre parcel between C.R. 700N and U.S. Highway 6 in Liberty Township. Dick Littlefield, chief ranger at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, retires after 34 years with the National Park Service. The Chesterton High School Golden Gators win the Dunes Athletic Conference championship, and the 200 Medley Relay sets a new DAC record.

The CHS boys’ basketball team beats Michigan City in an overtime thriller. CHS wrestler Chris Loehmer takes top honors at the DAC championship meet. Bethlehem Steel Corporation concludes the last phase of a 15 percent company-wide salaried workforce reduction, which eliminated 2,400 positions over 12 months.

Chesterton resident Mindy Ann Self, 19, dies of a heroin overdose. The Chesterton Utility Service Board transfers $146,260 to the Town of Chesterton, in repayment of a 1995 emergency loan. The Porter County Commissioners replace Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitors Commission President Cliff Bryan with Dr. John Johnson, and reject bid for appointment by immediate past member Helen Boothe.

The Indiana DNR issues a permit to the Town of Beverly Shores authorizing a cull of as many 75 deer by March 31. The Indiana Department of Education releases the results of ISTEP: Duneland students fare better than the statewide averages in each grade at each school and in both the math and English/language arts portions of the test. National Steel Midwest Operations lays off about 100 employees, most of them members of the United Steelworkers of America with two years’ of experience or less.

The CHS boys’ basketball team loses a triple overtime heartbreaker to Portage. Evelyn Finnstrom, Porter County Republican and Chesterton art luminary, dies at 91. Porter County borrows $5 million to get through cash-flow crunch. The Burns Harbor Town Council accepts bids for the sanitary sewer project.

The CHS Golden Gators end their regular season undefeated. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission launches a probe into allegations that the Northern Indiana Public Service Company has overcharged electric customers for the past 13 years. David Squires is sworn in as the new Chesterton Postmaster.

The CHS Trogems win the Chesterton Invitational Gymnastics Invitational for the seventh consecutive year. The CHS boys’ swim team wins its fifth consecutive DAC championship. The Duneland Chamber of Commerce presents the Environmental Award to the CHS Science Program and the butterfly garden at Yost Elementary School; presents the Community Leadership Award to Jim Jeselnick; names State Rep. Ralph Ayres, R-Chesterton, Citizen of the Year; names Jane Walsh-Brown Volunteer of the Year; and bestows on Alice Nale Special Recognition for Dedicated Service.

Chesterton Town Council Member Bob Crone, R-3rd, begins his term as President of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce. Rev. Lewis Hansen, pastor at Porter United Methodist Church, dies at 61. Kim Sigler is named Athletic Director at Chesterton Middle School.

The CHS boys’ swim team ends its regular season undefeated for the first time in school history. Bethlehem Steel reports a net loss of $118 million for the fourth quarter of 2000.

February

The Steel Family Health Care Center opens in the Fourth Addition to Coffee Creek Center. The Office of the Porter County Coroner opens on a full-time basis in the County Administration Building. The CHS Golden Gators win the sectional championship at LaPorte.

Daniel Kado of Hobart and Michael Davis of Gary die in a flash fire in the 160-inch plate mill at Bethlehem Steel Burns Harbor Division. George Phillips dies in a fire at his Porter home. The CHS debate team successfully defends its championship title at the state tournament in Indianapolis.

The Porter County Commissioners approve an agreement with the U.S. Marshals Service, under which the new Porter County Jail will house up to 40 federal prisoners for the next 15 years, in exchange for which the Marshals Service will provide $1.3 million for the construction of a police training facility on the grounds of the new jail. The Indiana-American Water Company announces plans for a new $48 million water intake facility and tunnel. The CHS Trogems lose to Merrillville, their first loss ever in the new CHS Fieldhouse.

The CHS Golden Gators take fourth place at the IHSAA championship in Indianapolis, as Jenni Anderson wins the 50-yard Freestyle and 100-yard Backstroke and is presented with the IHSAA Mental Attitude Award. The Department of Justice awards $121,096 to the Chesterton Police Department to place a school resource officer in the Duneland School Corporation. Chesterton Clerk-Treasurer Gayle Polakowski breaks a 2-2 tie on the Town Council to spend $56,260 of the $146,260 windfall on a sidewalk on the east side of 23rd Street from Peterson Ditch to Dogwood Park.

The Porter Town Council seeks volunteers to reactivate the Stormwater Management Board. National Steel Corporation announces a company-wide salaried workforce reduction of 10 percent. The CHS boys’ swim team wins the sectional championship at LaPorte.

The CHS Winter Guard places fifth in the Winter Guard International Mid-America Regional at St. Charles, Mo. The Porter County Sheriff’s Police announces plans to open a substation in Pine Township. The CHS Drifters win grand championship in the girls’ division and fifth place overall and the Sandpipers take first runner-up overall at Norwell High School in Ossian, Ind.

The Porter Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees approves a policy change which authorizes the Chief of Staff to select physicians who will oversee hospital departments. The Duneland Chamber of Commerce moves its offices to the historic New York Central passenger depot at 220 Broadway in Chesterton. The CHS boys’ swim team takes seventh place at the IHSAA championship in Indianapolis.

A 63-year tradition ends in Chesterton when Ken and Pat Baur close Ben Franklin at 219 Broadway. The Burns Harbor Town Council opens bids for the sanitary sewer project. The CHS Trogems finish second behind Merrillville at the DAC championship at Portage. The CHS boys’ and girls’ track teams host their first in-door meet in the new Fieldhouse, and both teams beat East Chicago.

March

Under a new statute which takes effect to prepare taxpayers for the shift to true tax value assessments, assessed valuation no longer equals true tax value divided arbitrarily by three, which will result in assessed valuations which appear to have tripled since 2000.

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, introduces the Steel Revitalization Act, which features provisions to address both the problem of dumped and subsidized foreign imports and the costs associated with consolidation. The Burns Harbor Town Council votes 5-0 to award to Bowen Engineering of Crown Point the contract to upgrade and expand the wastewater treatment plant, currently in the possession of Bethlehem Steel Burns Harbor Division.

For the five consecutive year, the CHS Singing Sands yearbook is named a Gold Medal publication by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association. The CHS Trogems beat Merrillville to win the sectional championship at Portage. Sgt. Dan Reynolds of the Chesterton Police Department is charged with driving while intoxicated on the Indiana Toll Road. The Porter Town Council in private session fires Public Works Director Art Powell.

The new Chesterton High School comes in around $1 million over budget, an overrun of approximately 1 percent. The CHS boys’ basketball team beats LaPorte in the sectional tournament to end the Slicers’ five-year run as sectional champions. A vandal causes around $34,000 in damage in the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy.

PCCRVC President Dr. John Johnson prohibits Saves the Dunes Assistant Director Charlotte Read from addressing the commission at a public meeting on the subject of a proposed visitors center within the boundaries of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Darcel McCoy of Pine Township and William White of LaPorte County die in a two-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 20 in Westchester Township. The CHS Trogems take second place at the regional championship. The CHS boys’ basketball team loses to Portage in the sectional semifinals at Michigan City.

Census 2000 figures released: Porter County grew 13.9 percent since 1990; its black population jumped 196 percent and Hispanic population 83.5 percent; Chesterton’s population increased 14.9 percent to 10,488; Porter’s, 59.4 percent to 4,972; Burns Harbor’s fell from 788 to 766; Dune Acres’, from 263 to 213. Welsh Inc. announces the sale of its convenience store chain in Indiana and Michigan to Speedway SuperAmerica LLC; CHS band members Megan Bergauff, Courtney Lambert, and Kelly Schlundt are named to the 41st annual Indiana All-State High School Band Festival.

The Chesterton Town Council appoints Greg Gagliano Building Commissioner. James Trout of Boy Scout Troop 908 becomes an Eagle Scout, the 75th member of the troop to earn this honor in its 52-year history. St. John’s United Church opens a re-sale shop at 104 N. Calumet Road.

The Porter Town Council declines to apologize for firing Art Powell without a public vote and denies illegality of that vote. Atlas Excavating of West Lafayette threatens a lawsuit after the Burns Harbor Town Council rejects its apparent low bid and votes 5-0 to award to Grimmer Construction of Highland the contract for the wastewater collection system. The Chesterton Plan Commission votes 6-0 to endorse the Unified Comprehensive Zoning and Subdivision Control Ordinance.

The CHS Trogems finish fourth at the IHSAA championship in Indianapolis. Bob Glinstra, Chesterton resident and community watchdog, dies at 81. The Beverly Shores Town Council ends a deer cull one day after it began, with one deer dead.

The CHS speech team wins seven of 12 slots for national competition at the North East Indiana National Forensics League Qualifying Tournament at Plymouth. CHS senior Tony Easterlin, accepted to study engineering at Notre Dame University, is the first to win the Duneland School Board’s $10,000 scholarship raffle. Duneland officials and community leaders meet to discuss feasibility of a Boys and Girls Club.

The CHS softball team opens its new facility with a win over Michigan City Marquette. The Chesterton Police Department showcases its refurbished and outfitted mobile command center. Laura Ellis becomes the first woman in the history of Chesterton bowling to roll a 300 game on her way to a 784 series.

The CHS speech team wins the state championship in Indianapolis, the 17th in school history and the first since 1993. The Chesterton Town Council votes 5-0 to enact the Unified Comprehensive Zoning and Subdivision Control Ordinance. The LaPorte District of the Indiana Department of Transportation agrees to lower the speed limit on U.S. Highway 20, from Burns Harbor to east of Beam Street in Porter, from 50 to 45 miles per hour.

The Porter Town Council agrees to pay $50,000 of a nearly $800,000 waterline extension, the balance to be paid by the Indiana DNR and the Indiana-American Water Company, for a 10,700-foot line to be laid on the east side of Waverly Road from U.S. Highway 20 to the east side of Porter Beach. The FBI returns to the Porter County Sheriff’s Police a Thompson submachine gun stolen in 1934 by John Dillinger during his escape from the Lake County Jail in Crown Point.

April

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District votes 6-1 to suspend until further notice the South Shore Railroad’s Citizen Advisory Board. The CHS girls’ track team opens its new outdoor track with a victory over Gary Lew Wallace. Lakeshore Gymnastics Level 6 13-year-old team and Level 7 14-year-old and over team both win their state age group championship at the Indiana-USA Gymnastics Levels 6 and 7 state meet.

The Town of Chesterton receives its fifth Tree City USA title. The Chesterton Town Council votes 5-0 to approve an issue of $900,000 in general obligation bonds to finance a combined street and sidewalk project. The Duneland School Board agrees to offer full-day kindergarten in the fall to parents who pay a tuition expected to be in the range of $1,800 to $2,000.

The CHS girls’ tennis team opens its new courts with a win over Highland. State Sen. Bill Alexa, D-Valparaiso, indicates interest in running for redrawn 2nd district congressional seat, comprised largely of current 3rd district seat held by Democrat Tim Roemer. Former Valparaiso City Council member Jill Long Thompson, 4th district congresswoman from 1989 to 1993 and Under Secretary of Agriculture under President Clinton, indicates interest in running for 2nd district congressional seat.

A 17-year-old boy, suspected in a vandalism spree in the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy, is referred to the Porter County Juvenile Probation Department. The Porter County Commissioners approve an updated personnel manual which includes a reference to State Board of Accounts guidelines prohibiting personal use of publicly owned equipment by both county employees and elected officials.

CHS senior Alex Bishop, ranked first in his class, is named a National Merit Scholar. Leslie West and Jenny Janosky both win individual state championships and lead Lakeshore Gymnastics to the Indiana-USA Level 8 Senior Division state championship. Bethlehem Steel reports a net loss of $118 million in the first quarter of 2001.

The Chesterton Town Council appoints Mike Bannon to the Plan Commission to replace Diane Burge, who announced her retirement from the commission after 14 years of service. The firefighters of the Chesterton Fire Department announce their membership in Local 3151 of the International Association of Firefighters, a member union of the AFL-CIO. Porter County Auditor James Murphy urges all departments to limit spending for the rest of the year, and warns that the county is running out of money for emergencies and unavoidable bills.

Tom Dombkowski, current principal of Niemann Elementary School in Michigan City, is named to replace retiring Ken Miller as principal of Yost Elementary School, and Susan Cartwright, current principal at Polk Elementary School in Lake Station, is named to replace retiring Fonda Rhea as principal at Liberty Elementary School. Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission ranks a proposed visitors center and Porter’s proposed trail link last in their respective categories to receive a share of $16 million in state grants available this year.

Some 300 people attend a forum sponsored by the Community Action Drug Coalition at the Porter County Expo Center. The Indiana General Assembly adopts House Resolution 128 in honor of Chesterton resident Betty Rodeman, for her 50 years of contributions to the Chesterton Woman’s Club and its art show. The Indiana General Assembly defers tax restructuring legislation to the 2002 session and redraws the district of State Rep. Ralph Ayres, R-Chesterton, now largely swallowed by the new district of State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary.

May

Bruce Dumas, director of the Porter County Prosecuting Attorney’s Child Support Division, retires after 17 years. Improvements required of American Stores Property Inc., the developer of the new Jewel-Osco, by the planned unit development ordinance begin on Indian Boundary Road. A petition signed by 56 residents and former firefighters in Pine Township requests the State Board of Accounts to audit Trustee Bill Theis’ spending.

Ground breaks at Morgan’s Corner in the Second Addition to Coffee Creek Center. PCCRVC Executive Director Peter Drescher resigns after only one year on the job. Ronald Winger, a former hospital executive in New Mexico and head of an Albuquerque physicians group, is offered the position of CEO of Porter Memorial Health Systems by the PMH Board of Trustees.

CHS seniors Sara Baughman and Megan Bergauff are named National Merit Scholars. CHS junior John Jernigan scores a perfect 1600 on the Scholastic Aptitude Test. Liberty Township resident Tammy Creech dies in a three-vehicle accident on Ind. 2 in LaPorte County.

The constitutionality of the Duneland School Board’s decision to offer full-day kindergarten for a tuition is questioned in a Voice of the People by Chesterton resident Marjorie Crawford. The CHS girls’ track team finishes second at the DAC championship. NIPSCO seeks to dismiss an investigation of its electric rates opened by the IURC, in which the commission proposes an 11.60 percent across-the-board reduction of those rates.

The Chesterton Tribune website is hacked by the Honkers Union of China. The trial of Reggion Slater, accused of the 1999 murder of Liberty Township resident Kate Pokorny, is continued a third time, to Jan. 22, 2002. Atlas Construction announces its intent to file for a temporary restraining order to block Grimmer Construction from building Burns Harbor’s wastewater collection system.

CHS senior Stephanie Kendall is named Exchange Club Youth of the Year. The CHS boys’ track team finishes fifth at the DAC championship. Bethlehem Steel files a tax return which seeks a significant drop in the assessed valuation of personal property at Burns Harbor Division, from $728 million to $352 million.

CHS boys’ basketball coach Bob Buscher takes a leave of absence after an incident involving his son at the high school. The CHS girls’ track team wins the sectional championship at Chesterton. CHS head football coach Bill Dorulla resigns after seven seasons.

A jury convicts Christopher Matson of the 2000 murder of Rick Pinkerton in his Porter home. The Porter County Commissioners unanimously approve a land use plan intended to guide development in unincorporated areas. Candice Andolina bowls a 666 series to become the Bowler of the Year in the 26th annual Chesterton Tribune Roll-Off.

CHS senior Kevin Rowe is named the recipient of the first annual Kathryn Elizabeth Pokorny Student Press Memorial Scholarship and CHS senior Kelly Miller is named Warren R. Canright Outstanding Senior Journalist at the CHS journalism awards dinner. Chesterton officials and business leaders begin an update of the town’s Comprehensive Plan, as part of the economic development initiative. The CHS girls’ tennis team wins the sectional championship at Portage.

The CHS boys’ track team takes third at the sectional championship at Portage. The Chesterton Plan Commission votes 6-1 not to endorse a proposed planned unit development ordinance for Tamarack Plaza. Karen Brownell, a counselor at Lowell Middle School, is named assistant principal at Chesterton Middle School.

Chesterton Utility Superintendent Ann MacDonald resigns from her position. The CHS girls’ track team finishes second at the regional championship at Highland. CHS junior John Jernigan is named Most Valuable in the speech and debate program.

Porter County Superior Court Judge Thomas Webber denies standing to two Burns Harbor residents, Gene Weibl and George Castle, as part of the effort of Atlas Construction to obtain a temporary restraining order to block Grimmer Construction from building Burns Harbor’s wastewater collection system. CHS senior Zack Wellsand is named Senior Athlete of the Year and Katie Wiese is named Female Athlete of the Year. The Town of Chesterton goes on line with its own municipal website.

Bethlehem Steel announces a company-wide reduction of 5 percent of its salaried workforce. The Indiana Civil Liberties Union considers a lawsuit to block the Duneland School Corporation’s full-day kindergarten program. CHS senior Josh Craig takes fifth place at the National Catholic Forensic League Tournament in New York City.

June

CHS senior Alex Bishop is named a scholar in the 2001 Presidential Scholars Program. The CHS boys’ golf team wins the sectional championship at Valparaiso. CHS names John Snyder its new head football coach.

Under threat of litigation, the Duneland School Board sticks to its plan for a full-day kindergarten program. The Duneland School Corporation establishes an annual fee for field trips, $1 for K-6 and 50 cents for 7-12. The Duneland School Board agrees to lease space at Westchester Intermediate School for $600 per month.

Liberty Middle School eighth-grader Caitlyn Hasek receives a Poet of Merit Award at the Spring Convention and Symposium of Poets in Orlando, Fla. The Indiana Supreme Court takes the appeal of David Malinski, convicted murderer of Center Township resident Lorraine Kirkley. The PCCRVC names Lorelei Weimer its Executive Director.

Chesterton resident John “Jack” Connors, auto dealer, business leader, and community benefactor, dies at 70. The Friends of the Duneland Community Parks unveils a concept map of its Community Link Pathway. The PCCRVC officially abandons the Wagner property at the northeast corner of U.S. Highway 20 and Ind. 49 as the site of a proposed visitors center.

The Westchester Junior Historians, local chapter of the Indiana Junior Historical Society, wins Outstanding Chapter, first place in Junior Division Static Exhibit, and fourth place in Nametag at the 2001 state championship in South Bend. Sgt. Dan Reynolds of the Chesterton Police Department is charged a second time in 2001 with driving while intoxicated on the Indiana Toll Road. Gov. Frank O’Bannon dedicates the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy.

The CHS boys’ golf team finishes seventh at the regional championship at LaPorte. Chesterton resident Cookie Ruschak is named Volunteer of the Year by the Indiana Health Care Association. Christopher Matson is sentenced to the maximum term of imprisonment, 95 years, for the murder of Porter resident Rick Pinkerton.

The Porter Town Council votes 3-1 to re-zone a 2.2-acre parcel downtown, which John and Lorain Bell are purchasing, from C-1 to C-3. The Burns Harbor Town Council votes 5-0 to purchase the wastewater treatment plant from Bethlehem Steel Burns Harbor Division for $450,000. The Duneland Community Team raises $12,000 in the Relay for Life and Porter County a total of over $201,000.

Father Lawrence Heeg, leader of St. Patrick Catholic Church since 1976, retires. In its best showing since 1992, the CHS speech and debate team returns to the Top 10 in the nation at the National Forensic League Nationals in Oklahoma City, JohnPaul Benitez finishes fourth in the nation in Original Oratory, John Jernigan finishes eighth in Foreign Extemp, and Nate Whitmer and Joanne Dubach finish ninth in Duo Interp. Ground is broken on a new $2.4 million hospice center for the Visiting Nurse Association of Porter County.

NIPSCO contends that it deserves a 24 percent rate hike, in response to the IURC claim that it should reduce its rates across the board by 11.60 percent. CHS assistant principal Don Gandy resigns to become Assistant Principal at Plymouth High School. CHS seniors Marissa Flaxbart and David Odefey are awarded Merit Scholarships by the University of Chicago.

Robert Rhoda is named interim Director of the Duneland YMCA. CHS 2001 graduate Eugene Halpin is recipient of the first Duneland Exchange Club Accepting the Challenge of Excellence Award. Porter resident Paul Swenson, educator, carpenter, and Habitat for Humanity volunteer, dies at 70.

Gov. O’Bannon places a moratorium on the disbursement of all Build Indiana funds, including those awarded to various Duneland entities, after an investigation is opened into illegal awards. The Porter Starke Services Board names David Lomaka of Naples, Fla., as CEO, only the second since its establishment in 1974. The Porter Town Council moves to create a Town Hall Advisory Committee to study the future of that building.

State Sen. Bill Alexa, D-Valparaiso, officially announces his candidacy for the 2nd district congressional seat. The Town of Burns Harbor breaks ground on its $8.1 million sanitary sewer project. The LaPorte District of INDOT concedes that an unstable subgrade has forced the removal of 6,600 tons of freshly laid asphalt for an overrun of around $6 million and a season’s delay in the completion of the Ind. 49 re-paving project. After 20 years, the Skube family of Chesterton relinquishes its Chesterton Tribune newspaper route.

July

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals orders a new trial for Perry Miller, the convicted and condemned murderer of Jackson Township resident Christel Helmchen, on the grounds that he had an ineffective public defender. Joe Callahan sells the Quonset hut on Broadway in Chesterton to an unnamed party with undisclosed plans for it, and in a separate transaction sells the building to the east of the hut to an unnamed party with plans to put an antique shop in it. Bethlehem Steel’s lenders agree to waive adjusted consolidated net worth covenants in their secured financing agreements, after Bethlehem announces that it does not expect to comply with those covenants this year.

The Porter County Commissioners approve an ordinance establishing a $10 co-payment for prisoners in Porter County Jail able to pay it for requested medical or dental services. Martha Bucksbarg is the recipient of the 2001 Ed Pearson Award from the Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club. Chesterton resident Ray Carnes urges the Town of Chesterton to outfit its police squads with automated external defibrillators.

Northwest Indiana wins the lottery to retain area code 219. Porter County Environmental Coordinator Bob Casbon resigns. The PCCRVC announces an alternative site for a proposed visitors center: south of U.S. Highway 20 and east of Ind. 49 in an industrial park whose development the Lake Erie Land Company is pursuing in Porter.

The Porter County Plan Commission establishes a committee to overhaul the zoning and subdivision code. Zack Wellsand scores a touchdown in the North’s victory in the Indiana High School North-South All-Star Football Game. Gov. O’Bannon lifts his moratorium on the disbursement of Build Indiana funds.

Bethlehem Steel announces the company-wide elimination of 160 salaried positions, on top of the 140 targeted reductions announced in May, for a total reduction of 11 percent of the company’s salaried workforce. Steven Wheatcroft of Pennsylvania wins the 35th annual Northern Amateur Tournament at Sand Creek Country Club. Westchester Township resident Charlotte Read is named to the Izaak Walton League of America’s Conservation Hall of Fame.

Bethlehem Steel reports a net loss, including “two unusual non-cash charges,” of $1.132 billion for the second quarter of 2001. The ICLU files a class action lawsuit seeking an injunction barring the Duneland School Corporation from charging a fee for full-day kindergarten. The Duneland Chamber of Commerce presents its 2001 Athena Award to Dawn Ruge; its Senior Service Award to Shirley Peffers; and a Community Service Award to Chesterton Tribune cub reporter Kevin Nevers.

Porter receives $1 million of a requested $1.9 million in federal transportation-enhancement funds for its trail link project and the PCCRVC $556,101 of a requested $1.6 million for a proposed visitors center. NIPSCO blames a brownout-type outage on the hottest day of the year to date on a mechanical malfunction.

August

Porter County Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper denies a request for a preliminary injunction sought to force the Duneland School Corporation to offer full-day kindergarten to all students at no charge. The Duneland School Board agrees to issue $9.35 million in general obligation bonds to fund an early retirement pension program. Ken and Pat Baur open Framing Concepts Gallery in the former Ben Franklin.

The CHS girls’ golf team takes first at the Chesterton Invitational. CHS 2001 graduate JohnPaul Benitez is named a Wells Scholar at Indiana University. Perry Miller admits his guilt in the 1990 murder of Jackson Township resident Christel Helmchen in exchange for a sentence of 138 years in prison, 69 years of which he must serve before becoming eligible for parole.

Valparaiso resident Hugo Garcia Torres, 17, drowns at Indiana Dunes State Park after falling off a sandbar into deep water. The new Jewel-Osco opens at the northeast corner of the intersection of Indian Boundary Road and Ind. 49. Westville resident Wanda Aguilera dies in a one-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 6 in Jackson Township after hitting a tree trunk in the roadway.

Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration fines Bethlehem Steel $10,000 for the February flash fire which killed two workers. Jacob Frum of Boy Scout Troop 929 becomes an Eagle Scout. Hobart High School leaves the DAC to join the Lake Athletic Conference.

Rail Road, which links C.R. 100E to Dickinson Road beneath Ind. 49 along the abandoned Wabash Railroad right-of-way, is completed. The Lake Erie Land Company announces the development of a “class A” office building in Coffee Creek Center, to be built by Metropolitan Ventures of Milwaukee, Wis. Kyle Whitaker of the Duneland Swim Club takes four individual championships at the Indiana Long Course championship in Indianapolis.

Niles, Ill., resident Kwanghyun Suh, 19, drowns at Porter Beach, on a day when rip current conditions close the beach at Indiana Dunes State Park. INDOT Commissioner Cristine Klika announces her resignation, less than a week after the Northwest Indiana Transportation Study Commission agreed to study the $6 million overrun in the Ind. 49 re-paving project. The Duneland Teachers Association rejects a tentative contract agreement with the Duneland School Corporation.

The LaPorte District of INDOT installs reflectors, not guardrails as requested by the Town of Chesterton, on Ind. 49 north of Indian Boundary Road. The Westchester Public Library Board advertises a budget which includes 4 percent pay raises. The Porter Town Council gives the Town Hall Advisory Committee a deadline of Nov. 13 to make a recommendation.

Steve Yagelski returns as Superintendent of the Chesterton Utility, with added titles of Utility Planning Director and Town Planning Director. Lula Radiger, former member of the Chesterton Town Council, dies at 77. The newly renovated Chesterton Middle School opens.

The Porter County Drug Task Force raids the first methamphetamine manufacturing lab confirmed to be operating in the county, in Oaks Mobile Home Park in Portage. Bethlehem Steel announces the temporary layoffs of 175 hourly employees in response to continued depressed operating conditions. Rumors swirl that Porter Town Council Member Mary Powell, D-5th, has moved to Florida.

The CHS girls’ cross country team beats number one ranked Valparaiso in a three-way meet at Lafayette. The Indiana-American Water Company seeks a phased-in 50 percent rate increase partially to defray the cost of its $48 million water intake facility and tunnel. A cash-crunch prompts the Porter County Council to reject across-the-board raises and to impose a hiring freeze.

September

In its first football game ever, Chesterton Middle School beats Portage Fegely 20-8. Hammond resident Dewayne Newton burns to death in the cab of his Mac tractor after a garbage truck hits his vehicle from behind on I-94 in Pine Township. Vandals go on a spree in the Chesterton Cemetery.

An anticipated decrease in the Duneland School Corporation’s assessed valuation, caused by Bethlehem Steel Burns Harbor Division’s application for a deduction in the assessed value of its personal property, prompts the corporation to advertise a steep hike in the tax rate, from $5.29 to approximately $6.50 per $100 of assessed valuation.

Suicide hijackers kill thousands at the World Trade Center in New York City and at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. President Bush declares a war on global terrorism. Americans face an uncertain future with grim resolve.

The Oz Festival proceeds in the wake of Sept. 11, as its parade honors American martyrs and heroes. The CHS girls’ golf team finishes second in the sectional championship at Valparaiso. The Chesterton Fire Department organizes a candle-light vigil in Thomas Centennial Park.

The Porter Town Council votes 4-0 to take the necessary steps to remove Member Mary Powell, D-5th, from her seat on the Plan Commission, on the grounds of absenteeism. West Nile virus is confirmed in two birds found dead in Porter County. The CHS girls’ golf team finishes ninth in the regional championship at LaPorte.

Jeff Gilbertson wins the 2001 Dunes Classic Golf Tournament at the Brassie Golf Club. The Board of Directors of Bethlehem Steel elects Robert Miller Chair and CEO, as former Chair and CEO Duane Dunham continues to serve as President and Chief Operating Officer. The Chesterton Town Council votes 4-0 to fire Greg Gagliano as Building Commissioner.

Donations to the American Red Cross during the Oz Festival total $11,000. The Burns Harbor Town Council authorizes Town Attorney Bob Welsh to pursue the condemnation of land whose owners refuse to grant easements for the sanitary sewer project. Bethlehem Steel sells its equity interest in a Brazilian iron ore producer for $4.4 million in cash and $20.1 million in credits to be applied against future iron ore purchases.

The State Board of Accounts faults Porter Memorial Health Systems for 12 accounting practices in 2000, including questionable credit card purchases and the payment of personal items for hospital executives at two country clubs. The CHS boys’ tennis team finishes second in the sectional championship at Portage. Reggion Slater confesses to the 1999 murder of Liberty Township resident Kate Pokorny in exchange for life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. RWE AG, a German holding company headquartered in Essen, acquires American Water Works, the parent company of Indiana-American Water Company, in a deal worth $7.6 billion.

October

The CHS football team defeats Hobart in a Homecoming thriller 17-15. The Porter County Commissioners transfer oversight authority over the 80-acre Paul C. Zona Sr. Wildlife Sanctuary from the Porter County Wildlife Advisory Board to the Porter County Park Department. Bethlehem Steel sells a short-line subsidiary, the South Buffalo Railway, for $33.5 million in cash and $3.3 million in assumed liabilities.

The CHS boys’ cross country team wins the DAC championship at Westville and the girls’ cross country team finishes second. Chesterton resident John Arcuri and a 17-year-old boy face charges in connection with the vandalism spree at Chesterton Cemetery. The U.S. International Trade Commission gathers testimony on the steel crisis at a public field hearing in Merrillville.

Graphics 22 at 211 Broadway raises $25,000 in tee-shirt sales for New York City disaster relief. The CHS boys’ soccer team loses the sectional opener to Wheeler at Portage. The Chesterton Town Council unifies the positions of Chief Fire Inspector and Building Inspector and appoints Assistant Fire Chief Mike Orlich to the new post.

Lenny Allen Bradley, a custodian at Brummitt Elementary School, disappears. The CHS boys’ and girls’ cross country teams both finish third in the sectional championship at Sunset Hill Farm. The Porter Town Council urges AWOL Member Mary Powell, D-5th, to resign.

The CHS girls’ soccer team wins the sectional championship at LaPorte. The CHS boys’ and girls’ cross country teams both win their regional championships at New Prairie.

Bethlehem Steel, builder of Liberty ships and armorer of the Allies in World War II, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Bethlehem reports a loss of $134 million in the third quarter of 2001. Local taxing units brace for the possibility of losing the company’s second installment of property tax revenues, estimated at $10 million.

The Duneland Materials Reconsideration Committee votes 8-0 not to remove Alma Flor Ada’s The Rooster Who Went to His Uncle’s Wedding from the second-grade curriculum. The CHS girls’ soccer team wins the regional championship at LaPorte. The CHS boys’ cross country team wins the semistate championship and the girls’ cross country team finishes second at New Carlisle.

The CHS girls’ soccer team wins the semistate championship at South Bend and advances to the finals. Verne Ash, for 17 years principal at Liberty Middle School, dies at 61. The U.S. International Trade Commission unanimously determines that 12 domestic steel industries of a possible 33 have been seriously injured by dumped and subsidized foreign steel.

The State Board of Tax Commissioners says it will increase property tax rates for local taxing units should Bethlehem’s failure to make its second installment in 2001 leave them with a debt service shortfall. Porter Memorial Health Systems Chief Operating Officer Don Wadle announces his resignation and PMHS CEO Ronald Winger announces the elimination of that position. The CHS girls’ cross country team finishes fourth at the state championship and the boys’ cross country team finishes eighth.

The CHS girls’ soccer team loses the semifinal match in Indianapolis. Gov. O’Bannon, after meeting with representatives of local taxing units bracing for Bethlehem’s probable failure to pay its second installment of property taxes in 2001, pledges support for bailout legislation slated for the General Assembly’s Nov. 20 Organizing Day. A structural engineer issues a report determining the renovation of the Porter town hall to be feasible.

The Porter Town Council files a request for a declaratory judgment in Porter County Superior Court to remove Member Mary Powell, D-5th, from her council seat. Gov. O’Bannon’s office reveals that he can do nothing but offer moral support for bailout legislation slated for the General Assembly’s Nov. 20 Organizing Day. Porter County Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford sentences Reggion Slater, confessed murderer of Liberty Township resident Kate Pokorny, to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

A body found in a Porter County cornfield is determined to be that of missing Brummitt Elementary School custodian Lenny Allen Bradley, and a neighbor of his in a Michigan City mobile home park, James Smith, is charged with felony murder.

November

The Duneland School Corporation halts a planned $93 million bond sale for its employee pension program because the corporation is perceived as a bad risk. Clifford Keppen, president of the Burns Harbor Town Council and charter member of the Burns Harbor Lions Club, dies at 65. The CHS football team loses the sectional championship at Valparaiso.

Porter Town Council Member Mary Powell, D-5th, who has in fact moved to Florida, resigns her seat. Crown Point resident Randall Kodic and Valparaiso resident David Mann die in a one-vehicle accident on Ind. 149 in Liberty Township. Gary resident Edward Brown III dies in a one-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 12 in Burns Harbor.

The Chesterton branch of Fifth Third Bank is robbed. The Northwest Indiana delegation of the General Assembly fashions a game plan for a $31 million no-interest loan for local taxing units to be enacted on the Nov. 20 Organizing Day. Bethlehem Steel announces that it will not pay the second installment of property taxes in 2001 or either installment in 2002.

A model home opens at Morgan’s Corner in the Second Addition to Coffee Creek Center. Bethlehem Steel announces a company-wide elimination of 400 salaried positions, for a total reduction of management since January 1999 of 40 percent. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management issues the Chesterton Utility a construction permit for the long-planned expansion of the wastewater treatment plant.

CHS cross country runners Lindsay Hattendorf, Nicole Hartford, and Steve Vrska are named to the Indiana All-Star Cross Country Team, the largest one-school contingent in the state. Porter County Council Member Karen Martin, R-3rd, announces her candidacy for the Center District seat on the Porter County Commissioners, currently held by Democrat Larry Sheets.

The Chesterton Plan Commission votes 4-3 to endorse a proposed planned unit development ordinance for Tamarack Plaza. The “D” blast furnace at Bethlehem Steel Burns Harbor Division is idled for a month or more after a scheduled 40-hour outage goes awry. CHS cross country runner Lindsay Hattendorf finishes eighth at the Indiana All-Star Cross Country Meet and Indiana wins the championship for the first time in 10 years.

The Indiana General Assembly declines to consider an emergency no-interest loan for local taxing units on Nov. 20 Organizing Day and instead approves a resolution which authorizes an administrative relief package of advanced tuition credits and property tax credits. LTV Steel asks the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for permission to halt integrated steel production in preparation to sell its facilities. The Burns Harbor Park Board makes plans to cease operations Dec. 15, as the town faces the next 18 months with only 13 percent of anticipated property tax revenues.

The Hilton Garden Inn opens in the First Addition to Coffee Creek Center. Gov. O’Bannon’s office raises the possibility that the relief package approved by the General Assembly on Nov. 20 Organizing Day is illegal. The Porter Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees moves to open a new $6.25 million out-patient diagnostic imaging center in the summer of 2002.

The Burns Harbor Town Council cuts five full-time employees as part of an austerity plan expected to save $500,000 in 2002. James McGee is appointed by Porter County Democratic Chair Leon West to the Burns Harbor Town Council, to fill the vacancy left by the death of Clifford Keppen. The Westchester Township Public Library announces the termination Jan. 1 of 53 employees and cuts hours and programs as part of an austerity plan.

December

A Democratic caucus taps Guy Grasher to replace Mary Powell in the 5th ward seat of the Porter Town Council. The Duneland School Board enacts a new policy under which impromptu questions and comments from the floor will not be recognized. David Canright, managing editor of the Chesterton Tribune, wins first place, Division III, for Best Online Web Site, and Vicki Urbanik, reporter, wins second place for Best Business/Economic News Coverage in the Hoosier State Press Association Better Newspaper Contest.

Bethlehem Steel and U.S. Steel announce separately that they are in consolidation talks with a view to a combination of four or five integrated steel mills. The Duneland School Board declares a financial emergency, to clear the way for the administration to transfer unspent funds in all accounts to pay this year’s tax anticipation warrant. Gov. O’Bannon confirms that the state will provide local taxing units with a $3 million emergency loan at a 3 percent interest rate.

NIPSCO, citing reduced demand as a result of the steel crisis, announces the indefinite closure of the Dean H. Mitchell Generating Station in Gary. The U.S. International Trade Commission recommends a range of tariffs and quotas, on which President Bush has until Feb. 16 to act. Bethlehem Steel Burns Harbor Division seeks a new, huge cut in the assessed valuation of its personal property, from $761 million to $167 million, which—all things being equal—would cut the company’s total annual property tax bill from $20.4 million to $7.4 million.

Japanese steel maker NKK Corporation confirms that it is negotiating to sell its U.S. subsidiary, National Steel, to U.S. Steel. A caucus taps Republican and current Porter County Treasurer Sandy Vuko as the new County Auditor to replace James Murphy, who will assume his elected position of County Treasurer Jan. 1. The Chesterton Town Council votes 3-1 to enact the planned unit development ordinance which will govern Tamarack Plaza.

The Interlocal Governmental Cooperative is established by six of the 12 local taxing units most affected by Bethlehem Steel’s bankruptcy in an effort to pursue their share of the company’s property tax revenues. Processing Technology, a $9 million steel-coil warehouse and slitting operation partially owned by bankrupt LTV Steel, announces that it plans to close the facility and put 63 employees out of work. Porter Town Council Member Eugene Bodnar, D-1st, announces his resignation effective Jan. 1.

A second man, Justin Ludwig, is charged with felony murder and criminal confinement in the shooting death of Brummitt Elementary School custodian Lenny Allen Bradley. The state agrees to advance the Duneland School Corporation $6.3 million in tuition payments to offset Bethlehem Steel’s unpaid property tax bill. Bethlehem Steel President and Chief Operating Officer Duane Dunham and three other executives announce their retirement and the company announces in turn that it will eliminate their positions.

The Indiana Bond Bank says that it will not advance the Town of Burns Harbor $900,000 to make the first installment on sanitary sewer bond payments in 2002. Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals Member Levi Mayes announces his retirement after 20 years of service. Sgt. Jerry Price of the Burns Harbor Police Department is presented with the department’s 2001 Exceptional Service Award.

Primary Energy, a subsidiary of NiSource Inc. and the responsible party in the $60 million 50 megawatt cogenerating facility at bankrupt LTV Steel, says that the future of the facility is uncertain. The Burns Harbor Plan Commission announces that it will meet once every two months in 2002 to cut costs. Chesterton resident Ioannis Koulianos is charged with the robbery of the Chesterton branch of Fifth Third Bank.

The Porter County Council tells all departments to cut their budgets by 10 percent. Chesterton resident Barbara Johnston is electrocuted in her home by a space heater. Debate resumes on the fate of the Porter town hall.

The Porter County Commissioners ban the use of all take-home vehicles except those used by merit police officers and paves the way for layoffs. Jack Parton, director of District 7 of the United Steelworkers of America, retires. Cpl. Dave Cincoski of the Chesterton Police Department is named the department’s 2001 Officer of the Year, for the second consecutive year. The CHS 2001 Singing Sands yearbook is named an All-American Publication by the National Scholastic Press Association.

Duneland School Board Member Dawn Rogers dies at 46 after a long battle with cancer. NIPSCO’s lease of an office building from its parent company, NiSource Inc., moves ratepayers’ money to an unregulated entity. Fowler resident Verlin Murphy dies in a two-vehicle accident on I-94 in Porter

Liberty Township resident Kim Goldak will carry the Olympic Torch Jan. 4 in Gary on its way through the country. Bethlehem Steel asks permission of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to pay 87 top executives $8.92 million in bonus pay over two years to retain them, to the dismay of the USWA.

 

Posted 12.31.2001