By KEVIN NEVERS
and VICKI URBANIK
For once the steel headlines were good.
Consider: in 2003, U.S. Steel Corporation (USS) reported a net loss of $463
million; through the first nine months of 2004, USS has reported a net
income of $623 million, a turnaround in less than a year of better than $1
billion. One could just as easily have imagined a skydiver whose chute has
failed suddenly sprouting wings.
As it happens, the industry owes its good fortune in large part to China.
Only a couple of years ago the country was dumping its own steel on U.S.
shores. Now, hell-bent on modernizing, China is in the middle of a massive
national infrastructure project and has acquired a voracious appetite for
the stuff. Demand has surged, prices have soared, and though neither USS nor
International Steel Group (ISG) exports much of its product, both have been
the beneficiaries of a global sellers’ market.
In a year when the top story was steel, of course, the top steel story was
the proposed merger, announced in October, of ISG with a company yet to be
born: Mittal, a combination—still in the works—of the Netherlands-based
Ispat International and Dutch Antilles-based LNM Holdings, both members of
the LNM Group, the world’s second largest steelmaker. When the merger is
complete —probably by the end of the second quarter—Mittal will have become
the world’s largest by far, with operations in 14 countries on four
continents, 165,000 employees, and a total annual capacity of 73 million
Thus has ISG, the great consolidator of bankrupts—of Bethlehem, LTV,
Weirton, and others—become the consolidated, and where once there were five
making steel along the shores of Lake Michigan, now there will only be two.
Storm warning for 2005: at year’s end the Wall Street Journal was reporting
that China is ramping up its own steel production and that in November it
had become a net steel exporter.
Not everyone locally may agree that all was rosy with ISG in 2004.
The much-heralded tax agreement forged between ISG and local taxing units in
early 2003 remained in limbo during 2004. Taxing units, including the
Duneland Schools, Westchester Public Library and Burns Harbor, that were set
to get a total of four payments had, by year’s end, only received one.
ISG maintained that its “payment in lieu of taxes” should be recalculated to
reflect the lower values caused by reassessment completed in 2003. But some
local officials, particularly those with the Duneland Schools, disagreed and
said it was understood by all parties that ISG would pay in the range of
By the end of the year, an effort was underway to get the state to clarify
how it will treat the payments, and local taxing units were still waiting on
Business was not only booming this year along the shores of Lake Michigan.
It was also booming a few miles inland in Chesterton. In 2004 the town saw a
continuation of the building frenzy which began in 2003, with the
construction of the new WiseWay Foods at the northeast intersection of Ind.
49 and C.R. 1100N, the Galleria immediately east of the Jewel/Osco on Indian
Boundary Road, and an Advanced Auto Parts in the Pumpkin Patch just east of
Coffee Creek Center, for its part, was not untouched by bulldozers.
Construction of the Lakeshore Bone & Joint Institute on Gateway Blvd. was
finished, a Bob Evans Restaurant went up next to the Hilton Garden Inn, and
the Pavilion Center—Coffee Creek Center’s first retail and office
complex—was begun on Sidewalk Road.
Yet even so it was in some respects a gloomy year for the Lake Erie Land
Company, after Kevin Pastrick, co-owner of Sand Creek Sales & Development,
Lake Erie Land’s principal real estate broker, pleaded guilty on all counts
to a kickback and cover-up scheme which greased the sale of 55 acres at
Coffee Creek Center to the Northwest Indiana Regional Council of Carpenter
Pension Fund Trust. Carl Paul Ihle Jr., president of Sand Creek Sales &
Development, opted instead to go to trial; he was convicted in September on
five counts. Meanwhile, Peter Manous—former head of the Indiana Democrat
Party—also copped a plea and was sentenced in November to 27 months in
federal prison and a fine of $200,000. Gerry Nannega, the pension fund
trustee who accepted $65,465 in kickbacks in exchange for his vote in favor
of the $10 million investment, pleaded guilty to three counts late last
The scandal has not so far penetrated Lake Erie Land proper, although the
Citizens Action Coalition, breathing fire, has been urging U.S. Attorney Joe
Van Bokkelen to dig deeper and probe wider, while the pension fund trust
itself has retained the services of a top law firm to amend a civil lawsuit
originally naming only Nannega to include, among other co-defendants, Lake
Erie Land. The goal of that lawsuit: to recover at least half of the pension
fund trust’s investment, after a recent appraisal put the value of the 55
acres at only $5 million and change.
The year 2004 was the first full year for appointed Center Township
Commissioner Robert Harper—and he took the ball running.
Curbside recycling, an unsafe building program, a safety committee aimed at
cutting insurance costs and a short-lived finance committee all got off the
ground in large measure because of Harper. But his biggest feat was quite
possibly the passage of a county open space ordinance, which was strongly
opposed by developers and which became a key issue in the commissioner
The elections of November set the stage for what will likely be an
interesting year in county politics: after Dave Burrus switched parties and
joined the Republicans in the primary, he was ousted in the fall by Democrat
Carole Knoblock, giving the Democrats a 2-1 majority on the board of
commissioners. The election of Dan Whitten sealed up a 4-3 Democrat majority
on the Porter County Council as well, giving the county Democrats control of
the two major county boards and significant powers over county hirings and
The county-owned Porter Memorial Hospital had far from a quiet year, with
two board resignations and one board member ousted by the Porter County
Though allegations of fraud raised by a fired executive in the spring were
quickly refuted by hospital officials, the accusations gave rise to a new
watch dog group formed by a vocal opponent of the hospital’s abortion
policy. The group maintained a presence at nearly every board meeting for
the remainder of the year, sometimes dominating the monthly media coverage.
Some county officials renewed talk of a possible sale of the hospital.
The hospital announced during the year that it would henceforth do business
under the simple name of “Porter” while retaining the historic Porter
Memorial name for legal purposes.
The Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission wins
$500,000 grant for its new visitor center. The new Porter Town Council
removes curbs on public comment at meetings. Carpenters Union sues its
former secretary Gerry Nannenga over the Coffee Creek land deal. Chesterton
Town Council unanimously elects Bob Crone president and John Kosmatka,
vice-president, for 2004. Liberty Township barn at 719 N. Meridian is
destroyed in fire. Antique dealer Carol Bratcher dies at 80. Lifelong
Furnessville resident Willis Grieger dies at 93. Marie Chochola, grandmother
of Bill and Jonnie Lee Jeffries of Chesterton, celebrates 100th birthday.
Mike Griffin is elected Duneland School Board president.
Head Start at Westchester Intermediate School is at full capacity with 20
pre-schoolers. A suspicious device at International Steel Group-Burns Harbor
is found to be harmless. Porter County officials declare another financial
emergency in order to extend an internal loan repayment. County Assessor
Shirley LaFever pleas for more staffing in response to 3,000-plus property
tax appeals. Michael Frasch of Liberty Township faces charges of child porn
and forgery. Porter County Council re-elects William Carmichael as president
and Rita Stevenson as vice-president. Flooding in the kitchen at the County
Jail prompts questions from commissioners.
Carole Knoblock announces she’ll run against fellow Democrat Dave Burrus for
commissioner. County Council requires planning and building department to
generate its own budget from fees. County Park Board agrees to use its share
of income tax revenues for land acquisition and construction of activity
center. Pines residents and the Hoosier Environmental Council sue NiSource
Inc. over contaminated groundwater. George W. Andershock of Chesterton dies
at 85. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky speaks to more than 60 residents in Porter.
New Chesterton Town Council member Mike Bannon calls for planning workshops.
Chesterton Town Council corrects oversight and inserts Utility policies into
town code. Indiana American Water Company announces it will trim the 14.7
percent water rate hike it originally sought.
Christian Community Action launches “Raise the Roof “ campaign toward a new
homeless shelter. Town of Porter declares fiscal emergency. Porter
Redevelopment Commission moves to repair a blocked sewer line that’s been
flooding the restroom, prohibiting use of the new town hall. Jim McGee is
elected president of Burns Harbor Town Council. Westchester Township leads
the county in number of property tax appeals; Chesterton homeowners in the
downtown area are hit the hardest by reassessment’s “neighborhood factor.”
Visclosky and the United Steelworkers of America blast Indiana gubernatorial
candidate Mitch Daniels for his opposition to steel tariffs.
Westchester Public Library announces plans to phase in computers for public
use. PCCRVC awards $7,585 in matching grants to six groups, including the
Chesterton Fire Department. Violinist Ole Steffen Dahl dies. Half of Jackson
Elementary’s morning kindergarten class attends the school’s highly praised
K-Care program. Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve wins national landscape
award. St. Paul Lutheran Church Pastor Robert Duncan retires. Chesterton
High School graduate Michael Gotch gets standing ovations for his
performance in Amadeus in Louisville. Duneland ISTEP scores are brought down
by scores from students in special education and the free/reduced lunch
Westchester Intermediate School sixth grader Mariah Russell is honored by
school board for her honesty during the Christmas season. Former Portage
Mayor Robert Goin dies at 74. Two 17-year-old Chesterton boys face charges
in connection with the burglary at Gelsosomo’s Pizzeria. Porter Town Hall
reopens. County Commissioners vote 2-1 in Center Township mixed-use rezoning
case strongly backed by developers and builders. Visclosky secures $4
million to upgrade South Shore line. The four-month old dispute over
reconstruction of a Porter Beach cottage heads back to court.
Chesterton/Duneland Chamber awards ceremony honors Joy Johnston of the
Duneland United Churches Resale Shop as the Athena Award winner, Jim
Jeselnick of Quality Search and Kent Mishler of Centier Bank as Volunteers
of the Year, Ken and Pat Bauer of Framing Concepts and Chesterton High
School Assistant Principal Barbara Spencer for “Putting Duneland on the
Map,” and Bertha Still as Senior Service award winner.
Carl Paul Ihle Jr. is indicted in connection with the Coffee Creek land
deal. Chicago redeveloper eyes old Jewel/Osco site. ISG to close Chicago
Cold Rolling. Chesterton BZA grants sign variances for Round the Clock
restaurant. Dave Burrus announces switch to Republican Party. Long-idle
Porter Stormwater Board is revitalized. Chesterton High School senior Brett
Norris is named a Class of 2004 Wells Scholar. Chesterton applies for state
grant to design Crocker water line. Chesterton town officials rap Wizard of
Oz fest for expense and sprawl, prompting strong outcry from Oz supporters.
Town of Chesterton issued more permits for single-family homes in 2003 than
in any other year in past decade. St. Patrick third graders create
chronology of Duneland from 1816 to 2002.
State Rep. Ralph Ayres attempts to revise the state curfew law struck down
in court. Indiana Legislature overrides governor’s veto of wetland rules,
though local lawmakers Ayres, Charlie Brown, Duane Cheney and Rose
Antich-Carr unite in support of the added wetland protection. Firefighters
from Chesterton, Porter and Burns Harbor help Portage in a fruitless attempt
to save the old Crisman School built in 1928. WiseWay surveys customers,
prompting rumors over the fate of the Broadway Avenue store. Porter BZA
decides to defend the town’s role in Porter Beach home dispute. U.S. EPA
confirms presence of boron in three Beverly Shores, triggering emergency for
Pines well-water. Porter Memorial Health System posts better financial
report than projected. NIRPC seeks donations to cover costs of a
professional job search firm for new director.
Jack Wellsand returns home for the first time following his October
motorcycle crash. NIRPC misses transportation deadline. Ayres is one of only
eight House Republicans to vote in support of optional full-day
kindergarten. NiSource reports lower earnings for 2003. Northern Indiana
Commuter Transportation awards $60.2 million bid to replace the 1928 signal
system. Marian Kalbe, founder and director of Westchester Neighbors Food
Pantry, dies at 61.
CHS Debate Team qualifies six students for nationals. County toughens septic
rules. County Commissioners hire Indianapolis law firm to fight south-county
landfill. Howard Vedell spearheads plaque to commemorate the carpenters who
built Chesterton’s bandstand. County Commissioners plan to cut their County
Economic Development Income Tax plan after learning the wrong formula was
used in the calculation, reducing projected revenues. Commissioner Robert
Harper proposes a joint finance committee with the council. Burns Harbor
Park Board welcomes new member Leann Perrine. Porter County puts additional
appropriations on hold. Fees are hiked at Sunset Hill Farm County Park. CHS
Debate Team wins 15th state championship. Chesterton finalizes its CEDIT
spending plan that includes new sidewalks along 1100N, a renovation of
Dogwood Park, paving of 100E, widening of 1050N, and installation of sport
lighting at Dogwood Park. County auditor calls on 14 taxing units to return
a total of $1.9 million in overpayments, with Burns Harbor the hardest hit.
Chesterton approves Oz Fest dates, ending speculation that the fest will be
canceled. Porter’s financial problems grow deeper. Burns Harbor Town Marshal
Jerry Price commends Assistant Chief Howard Morgan, officers Ken Tomasko,
Art Elwood, Paul McKamey and John Ryan and Chesterton detective Dave Adkins.
H.B. Snyder of Dune Acres dies at 71. Porter proposes recovering accident
investigation costs by billing insurance companies. ISG donation of $527,700
fulfills the fundraising goal of the United Way of Porter County, which has
raised $1.8 million.
Burns Harbor officials rip how the county handled the overpayment of $1.3
million in incorrectly disbursed funds. Burns Harbor Fire Department
commends Aluminum Welding for providing free specialty welding when the town
couldn’t afford the work. Glenn Wagner takes the helm as the new president
of the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce. Taxing units get early
access to CEDIT money thanks to unique language passed by lawmakers. Coffee
Creek Watershed Conservancy wins a $68,837 federal grant to hire full-time
staff to implement the watershed plan.
County Commissioners finalize their CEDIT spending plan. Utilities Board
retains an attorney in the dispute with contractor Bowen Engineering of
Crown Point. Duneland School Board finalizes plan to renovate an unused part
of Chesterton Middle School for an alternative school and the central
administrative office. School Board agrees to cut meetings to one per month
and give superintendent authority to finalize staff resignations. ISG
acquires bankrupt Wierton Steel Corporation in a deal valued at $255
million. NIPSCO gets 5,200 applications for 175 jobs. Commissioners make
exception to county vacation policy for former recorder Jacquelyn Sterling.
Chesterton planners hear new request for rezoning at the triangle at 1100N
between South Calumet Road and 100E. Suspicious package at the Portage UPS
Store turns out to be heroin shipment.
Sand Creek Country Club Chef Travis Dale named Chef of the Year by the
American Culinary Federation. Burns Harbor officials learn that the park
department received $65,000 in unappropriated funds. Katherine Cook resigns
from Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals. New child care consortium seeks
sponsors. Thomas McDermott resigns from Northwest Indiana Forum. Officials
outline the Chesterton Hometown Improvement Project. Regional Transportation
Authority is at a crossroads with funding committed by Porter County but
defeat of Lake County-based tax.
Porter struggles with borrowing from the town’s redevelopment fund. Parents
raise concerns about the Impact Bible study group in Chesterton home.
Chesterton Art Center honors Vivian and Leo Twit, Ann Ruge, and Walter and
Gloria Rector. Porter Memorial Health System to lease space for a Valparaiso
economic incubator at its building on Lincolnway. Chesterton BZA grants
variances for redevelopment of old Jewel site. CHS Trojan Guard names Megan
Kellogg as outstanding auxiliary member, Jessica Hargarten for drum major
award, and Joanna Golando as outstanding guardsman.
Porter Town Council increases its debt by $200,000 to ease cash flow
difficulties. U.S. Attorney seeks limited immunity for Carl Paul Ihle Jr. in
exchange for his testimony in Coffee Creek land deal. Duneland Schools
consider joining regional coalition focusing on student achievement.
Duneland teachers Ralph Ayres, John Becking, Linda Kilander and Lorene
Schaudt to retire. Duneland United Churches Resale Shop decorates window in
honor of soldiers Aaron Downey and Aaron Swichard, both home from Iraq for a
Porter County Commissioners approve ordinance requiring parents and
guardians to reimburse the county up to $110 per day for housing their kids
in the Juvenile Detention Center. Chesterton Park Board members study
skateboard parks in other municipalities. Commissioners decide to give up
old county home. Chestnut Hill residents air complaints involving substance
use at Impact youth group, later prompting the group to relocate to Liberty
Bible Church. Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy to stop sponsorship of
annual picnic, with the event to be run by Duneland Exchange Club,
Chesterton Lions Club and Rebuilding Together Duneland.
Children’s garden approved for Sunset Hill Farm County Park. County park
naturalists turning down requests from schools due to lack of funds.
Commissioners endorse ordinance requiring curbside recycling in the
unincorporated areas. Chesterton Middle eighth grader Dan Baughman qualifies
to compete at the state level of the National Spelling Bee.
CHS Speech Team wins sectional tournament. Veterinarian Larry Reed recovers
after near-fatal bite from a western diamondback rattlesnake. Ann Ruge of
First State Bank of Porter dies at 88. Chesterton, Porter and Burns Harbor
town councils back a renewed community effort against drug use. Emersen
Delaney named to Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals. Porter Town Council
launches a $4,500 rate study to determine if sewer rates need to be
increased. Porter nixes user fees for accident victims. Burns Harbor Town
Council refuses to fund $1,100 to pay for town firefighters to attend
regional training school in Chesterton.
Indiana Department of Natural Resources revokes Dune Acres deer cull permit
after two of the designated shooters face charges of using a spotlight and
hunting after legal hours; residents strongly defend the hunters and deer
kill. Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitors Commission awards
$31,000 to 20 groups for festival promotion. Westchester Public Library to
study move of Westchester Township Museum to the Brown Mansion. CHS speech
team captures six national slots and places first as a team. Duneland School
Board awards 2 percent raises to administrators and teachers. State Rep.
Ralph Ayres‚ bills dealing with runaways, missing children and mechanical
bills are signed into law by Gov. Joe Kernan. Porter BZA and plan commission
hear preliminary plans for an outdoor sign at strawberry field. Porter
Memorial Health System officials confirm possible expansion of Chesterton
Dan Keilman returns to Duneland to coordinate middle school alternative
program. Citizens give input on drug use at Chesterton Town
Council-sponsored forum. County council and commissioners air their
differences over salaries for 911 staff. Chesterton Town Council rejects
request from Comcast to close local cable office. County Council approves
$13,835 to hire outside law firm in fight against landfill. Porter Town
officials set Beam Street as the connecting route for hike/bike trail.
County Plan Commission receives first draft of a new open space ordinance.
Porter town officials seek state help to solve U.S. 20 flooding. County
agrees to begin distributing economic development income tax revenues to
cities and towns. Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District
management and union clash over proposal calling for conductors to supervise
more commuter cars. Porter County Election Board sets a special meeting to
investigate a complaint that the children of former Porter Town Council
President Kathryn Kozuszek voted in Porter without legally living there.
Chesterton United Methodist Church converts former Bethlehem Lutheran Church
into activity center.
Chesterton Tribune celebrates 120th anniversary. National Forensic
League honors CHS Speech and Debate Coach James Cavallo with his fourth
Diamond Key. Porter Memorial Health System studies how to improve bill
collection process. County Park Board rejects request to move most of Oz
Fest to Sunset Hill Farm County Park. Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper
is appointed by Gov. Joe Kernan to new child protection task force. County
Park Board agrees to offer to take over former County Home grounds. Burns
Harbor firefighters are able to attend regional emergency school thanks to
Val’s Pizza and Grinders. Pines Elementary School well water is
contaminated. Citizens comment on Duneland Schools possibly resuming its
drug testing program. Duneland Community Church announces Power Team
presentation in Duneland Schools. Chesterton Park Board hears arguments for
and against new skateboarding park. Commissioners form committee to study
former County Home. Commissioners agree to join Lake County RTA. NIPSCO and
Brown Inc. agree to pay for city water for 140 Pines homes. CHS wins
National Japan Bowl championship. Westchester Public Library Board approves
capital projects fund plan of $240,136.
Both sides square off in court over south county landfill. Robert Michael
Griffin dies at 90. Dune Acres Clerk Treasurer Patrice Bapst resigns.
Chesterton Town Council discusses a “community assessment” in anti-drug
campaign. Robert J. Paulson dies at 83. CHS and CMS install defibrillators.
Chesterton approves first phase of a new aerial survey for $26,457.
Residents speak out against Beam Street as route for Porter trail. U.S. Rep.
Pete Visclosky wins county commissioner support for extending rail service.
Peter Manous pleads guilty in Coffee Creek land deal.
Dr. Mann Spitler tells the story of his daughter who died after shooting up
heroin. Porter Police Commission ponders future of midnight parade. Sigrid
Anderson retires after 53 years as Augsburg Lutheran organist. Chesterton
Police investigate two burglaries at CMS Glad Rags breaks ground at Coffee
Creek Center. Conservationist James Fallis dies at 87. Two Hebron teens die
in crash. Community Action Drug Coalition raises more than $20,000 at the
first annual Walk Away from Drugs at the Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve.
CHS, CMS and Liberty Intermediate fail to meet federal No Child Left Behind
benchmark. Former Fairhaven student Spc. Jonathan Kephart, 22, dies in Iraq.
Lakeshore Festivals and Events Board approves a $1 entrance fee to Wizard of
Oz. Porter Town Council President Jennifer Granat will go door to door to
take community input over drugs. Porter County Solid Waste Board approves
curbside recycling in the unincorporated areas. Porter corrects errors in
Liberty Intermediate School student Ann Thompson, 11, wins national theater
competition. BZA cautions residents to take care when hiring contractors.
Cindy and Nick Tilden restore Imhof Drug building in downtown Porter.
Chesterton BZA grants variances for Chesterton Feed & Garden Center
expansion. More than 400 volunteers turn out for the seventh annual
Rebuilding Together Duneland. A jury awards $9 million in damages to
Christopher Berrier of Porter in faulty treadmill case. Town Council rejects
Oz Fest gate fee. Porter considers alternative route for town trail link.
Chesterton council enacts false alarm ordinance.
County Council once again rejects funding for more help for assessors.
County Council retains hiring freeze. County to refund merit officer pension
payments. ISG reports net income of $70.9 million in first quarter of 2004.
NiSource reports net income of $213.5 million for first quarter, a drop
compared to a year ago. Porter County Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa
dismisses charge of sexual battery against Glenn Hepp of Chesterton, who is
convicted of burglary in connection with the 1001 entry in Chesterton.
Porter police discuss emerging problem of nitrous oxide use.
State approves town of Porter’s 2004 budget allowing the town to spend $2.8
million; Chesterton’s is approved at $3.7 million. Duneland School Board
agrees to drug test students based on suspicion only, not to reinstate
random testing. ISG buys Georgetown Steel. Porter County Election Board,
after hearing nearly three hours of testimony in the Kozuszek case, vote 2-1
against forwarding the case to the prosecutor on charges of election fraud.
Questions arise over why Porter town officials removed beach sand from
Republican voters oust John Ruge from the Porter County Council in the GOP
primary, nominating incumbent William Carmichael, Jim Burge, and Robert
Wichlinski. Dave Burrus easily staves off a Republican primary challenge
from Eugene Manago. In the Democrat primary, Dan Whitten, Laura Dudley and
Joseph Kasper defeat three other contenders for nomination to the county
First Chesterton Hometown Improvement Project attracts 150 volunteers to
spruce up town. Porter County Wildlife Management Advisory board members Dr.
Lawrence McAfee and Maryann Zona-Gregg present the county park board with a
budget for improvements to the Zona wildlife sanctuary. Teen is charged with
2003 burglaries of Chesterton restaurants. Power Team visits the Duneland
Schools. Duneland YMCA honors board members Jim Hurst, Mary Bradford and
Chuck Parsons. Chesterton approves Oz Fest contract. Town of Porter seeks to
limit its liability in midnight parade by giving responsibility for the
event to an outside group.
Indiana Street residents in Porter make it clear they do not want the hike
bike trail along their road. Ind. Gov. Joe Kernan names State Rep. Ralph
Ayres to a study group on early childhood education. Local builder Dave
Milosevich asks Chesterton Park Board to begin testing playground equipment
for arsenic. County planners forward open space ordinance for public
comment. Singing Sands student life editor Christine Vidimos wins the 23rd
annual W.R. Canright Outstanding Senior Journalist award at the annual CHS
Student Press awards dinner. Burns Harbor Town Council expresses opposition
to sales of alcohol at gas stations.
Reports shows that tourism in Porter County is on the rebound. Kevin
Pastrick agrees to plead guilty in Coffee Creek land deal. Property tax
bills are late again in Porter County, but other counties are faring much
worse from reassessment. Porter police search for ways to cut gas
consumption. Porter County juvenile officials express concern over new state
law that requires criminal background checks of relatives and everyone
living in their household before children in abuse and neglect cases can be
placed in their care.
Valparaiso Police arrest man after foot chase that resulted in 15 bags of
heroin and crack cocaine begin found in his vomit. Waste haulers say they
cannot meet July 1 deadline for curbside recycling. Chesterton couple is
charged with marijuana cultivation. CHS Speech and Debate Team holds annual
awards dinner, with Outstanding Program Contribution awards going to Ben
Blohm, Liz Fox and Jessica Recchia. Porter looks at health insurance options
for town workers. Commissioners tackle moisture problem at county
courthouse. Porter Plan Commission unanimously recommends vacating town
roads in National Lakeshore.
Citizen Action Coalition calls for wider probe of Coffee Creek land deals.
People In Need of Environmental Safety funds new round of well water tests
in the Pines. Chesterton Plan Commission endorses 37-lot Touch of Green
planned unit development. Drug search in CHS parking lot turns up nothing. A
24-year-old Montana woman is killed on U.S. 20 in Portage after hit by
unidentified vehicle. Howlin’ Hill, a lost turret dune destroyed more than
40 years ago for the Port of Indiana, is remembered in David Tutwiler
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District approves up to $32 million
in bonds for the on-going $80 million modernization project. New nature
center at Sunset Hill Farm County Park is dedicated. Porter Superior County
Judge William Alexa rules that the Porter County Board of Zoning Appeals was
within its legal right to vote against the south county landfill. Chesterton
Town Council considers reclaiming its building now being leased to the
Former Chesterton teacher and community leader Martha Ellen Miller dies at
81. Pastor Rex Mitchell dies at 80. Porter County Plan Commission vote 7-1
in favor of a rezoning for 112-lot Eagle Ridge subdivision in Liberty
Township. Mother-daughter team of Mary and DeBorah Stipanovich design the
2004 poster for the 53rd annual CFWC Chesterton Women’s Club Art Show.
County Council lifts hiring freeze on budgeted but vacant posts. Franklin
Food Mart owner Steve Neitzel hopes to reorganize the midnight parade in
Porter. County Council approves borrowing for child protection fund
shortfall. Commercial projects mushroom in Chesterton.
Porter resident Mary E. Martin and Gregory Bruner of Merrillville die in
motorcycle crash on Brummitt Road. NIPSCO and union reach contract
agreement. Porter County Commissioners support spending $50,000 toward
public purchase of farm line in south county. Town of Porter park
department’s 2005 budget will be at ’03 levels. Liberty Bible Church Senior
Pastor Bill Jones is named Pastor of the Year. County Parks grapple with
Calumet Bicycle Trail upkeep.
CHS commencement honors 369 graduates. Fred Semmler of Beverly Shores takes
Best of Show at 53rd annual Chesterton Woman’s Club Art Show. Duneland
School Board stands by its policy of not allowing home-schooled students to
take courses in the public schools. School Board approves raises of 2.75
percent for classified staff and 2.25 percent raises for administrators.
School Board agrees to revisit policy on public presentations after
Chesterton resident Marjorie Crawford raises concerns over Power Team
presentation in the schools.
Youth and adults tell Chesterton Park Board that an extreme sports park is
needed. Fire destroys James and Barbara Bottorff home in Jackson Township.
Porter finalizes ordinances on parades. Burns Harbor Plan Commission rejects
proposed truck maintenance facility for Pilot Travel Center, putting the
rest of the project in limbo. Porter County Plan Commission votes 5-3 in
favor of open space ordinance. Burns Harbor Park Director Kim Burton is
praised for action in emergency at the park.
CHS math teacher Todd Talbert is killed in crash in southeastern Indiana.
Liz Fox of CHS is named in top 10 in the nation in National Forensic League.
To bypass the restrictions in a new state law curbing spending by libraries,
Westchester Public Library limits 2005 budget increase to 4.9 percent.
Westville residents Scott and Gwendolyn Kamradt killed in crash on U.S. 6 in
Jackson Township. County auditor, assessor and recorder shut down office in
observation of former president Ronald Reagan’s funeral without approval by
Chesterton Town Council votes not to renew its lease of the former New York
Central Passenger depot at 222 Broadway to the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber
of Commerce. Chesterton officials learn that the state does not intend to
replace the concrete divider on 49 Bypass. Chesterton Town Council member
John Kosmatka resigns his seat to take a job with the U.S. Embassy in
Russia. County Commissioners rezone land for Eagle Ridge subdivision in
Liberty Township. J&F Steel Corporation in Burns Harbor is sold to Ryerson
Porter County Solid Waste District moves back recycling start-up date to
Feb. 1 of 2005. Landfill developers announce they’ll appeal Judge Alexa’s
decision supporting the county in landfill rejection. Town of Porter deals
with new federal requirements on stormwater. Builder Mark Markovich
complains that Porter’s building requirements are too stringent. Liz Fox
takes national championship in Original Oratory in National Forensic League
competition. County Juvenile Detention Center director Ken Perkins wins
Marilyn Niequist award for his efforts on behalf of troubled kids. New Cub
Scout training center is planned at Camp To-Pe-Ne-Bee.
Porter Council considers cutting its own salaries. Joshua Brown, a 2004 CHS
graduates, earns Eagle Scout rank. Porter County Council refuses funding for
south-county rail line acquisition. Assessors in Westchester, Jackson,
Center, and Porter townships win additional funds for hourly help to catch
up with reassessment work. County Council grants $25,000 for more part-time
help in public defenders office. Town of Porter learns that it will run out
of funds in six weeks unless spring property tax draws arrive first.
Fired Porter Memorial Health System vice-president Sanjay Shah files lawsuit
alleging Medicaid and Medicare fraud and a physician-referral scheme.
Hospital board member William Back resigns, bringing the number of open
board seats to three. U.S. Census Bureau estimates town of Chesterton has
grown 6.2 percent since 2000. County agrees that it can no longer ignore
state juvenile debt of $2.2 million. Neighbors seek Porter Town Council
action on mosquitoes. Delinquent sewer customers in Burns Harbor get a
reprieve. Splash Down Dunes seek public input on five-year expansion plan.
County Finance Committee meets for the first time. Carl Paul Ihle Jr. seeks
a continuance of his trial in the Coffee Creek case. Chesterton resident Tom
Shumate talks about his volunteer work at Peru orphanage. Four months later
than usual, state finalizes property tax rates; rates will go down
throughout much of Duneland but increase elsewhere in Porter County. CWC Art
Show’s Popular Choice Award is a tie between Dee Jamison and Susan Kue.
Porter Town Council President Jennifer Granat tries to head off rumors of
possible job losses in town government. Chesterton Town Council approves
sidewalk work and proposes pay increases for police officers.
Commissioners split 2-1 to remove Robert Parks of Chesterton from the Porter
Memorial Hospital Board, replacing him with Portage Township Schools
Director of Business Affairs David White while reappointing hospital board
member James Spanopolous. Porter approves an ordinance giving police more
power to curb alcohol abuses at the annual midnight parade. Michael Nava of
Jackson Township is sentenced to 18 months in prison in a first test of
Zachary’s Law requiring convicted sex offenders to register with the state.
Army Spec. Wayne Clendenin of Chesterton is named Grand Marshal for the July
The trial of Carl Paul Ihle Jr., facing five federal counts in connection
with the cover-up of the kickback scheme which greased the sale of 55 acres
at Coffee Creek Center to the Northwest Indiana Regional Council of
Carpenters Pension Fund Trust, is continued to Sept. 7. The Board of
Trustees of Porter Memorial Hospital changes the name of the 65-year-old
county-owned health system to “Porter”: the main hospital becomes “Porter
Valparaiso Hospital Campus,” the PMH Board becomes the “Porter Board,” and
Ron Winger becomes “Porter President and CEO.” Attendance at this year’s
July 4 Midnight Parade in Porter is down, due possibly to the threat of rain
or to the new policy which bans open containers of alcoholic beverages on
streets or sidewalks.
The Northwest Indiana Regional Council of Carpenters Pension Fund Trust
retains Kirkland & Ellis, a top litigating law firm, in an effort to recover
“losses” in connection with its purchase of 55 acres at Coffee Creek Center,
in a deal which resulted in four federal indictments and three guilty pleas.
After splitting 2-1 to enact an ordinance which requires 20 percent open
space in subdivisions of 30 acres or more, the Porter County Commissioners
retain a consultant to revise the ordinance and set a deadline of Sept. 7
for the completion of that revision. The Porter County Commissioners approve
the request of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office to contract with a
California firm to serve as the county’s bad-check collection agent.
Chicago public radio station WBEZ/WBEW announces plans to establish a bureau
in Chesterton and assign two full-time staffers to broadcast and record news
of Duneland, Porter County, and Northwest Indiana. Porter resident Ryan E.
Haas, 24, dies in a motorcycle crash at the intersection of Indian Boundary
Road and North Calumet Road in Chesterton. The Porter County Drug Task Force
seizes 14 pounds of high-grade marijuana with a street value of $70,000, in
the county’s largest ever high-grade pot bust.
The City of Gary petitions the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to
purchase the site of NIPSCO’s Dean H. Mitchell Generating Station, to use in
the future expansion of the Gary/Chicago International Airport, while in a
separate filing NIPSCO indicates that it has no plans to restart the
facility, closed since December 2001. The bandstand in Thomas Centennial
Park, one of the few remaining original bandstands in the state, celebrates
its 80th anniversary. A Republican caucus elects Jim Ton to the 1st District
seat on the Chesterton Town Council, vacated by the resignation of John
Kosmatka earlier in the summer.
The Porter Stormwater Management Board informs the Town Council that the
Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System or MS4 program will cost at least
$3,469 per year to implement and will likely cost much more. The Chesterton
Town Council instructs department heads to calculate a 2.5 percent raise for
town employees in 2005, rather than the $1,000 across-the-board raises of
previous years. Portage Township resident Matthew R. Guy, 24, dies in
motorcycle crash at intersection of 14th Street and West Indiana Ave. in
1999 CHS graduate Craig D. Boshart, 23, dies in two-vehicle crash on U.S.
Highway 6 in LaPorte County. The Porter County Fair celebrates the
centennial anniversary of 4-H in the State of Indiana. The Chesterton BZA
approves a use variance to allow Duneland Pet Store to open at 112. S. 12th
St., the former location of Jim’s Lawn & Garden Shop.
The South Shore Industrial Safety Overpass opens, to replace the grade
crossing at the U.S. Steel Midwest facility where three people died in June
1998 after a South Shore commuter train struck a steel hauler. U.S. Steel
Corporation reports a record net income of $211 million in the second
quarter. GFWC Chesterton Woman’s club receives a third place national award
for fundraising in the 2003-04 club year and honorable mention for its
The State Board of Accounts audit of the Town of Porter for years 2000-03
reports numerous problems, including missing public records, the lack of a
required town inventory, and no timely action on delinquent sewer bills. The
Department of Natural Resources and the Indiana Department of Environmental
Management launch parallel investigations into the Town of Porter’s pumping
of stormwater and sewage into a pond at U.S. Highway 20 and Oak Hill Road
during a heavy rain on July 22. International Steel Group reports a net
income of $94.1 million in the second quarter.
Arson is blamed for a fire which destroys a home on U.S. Highway 6 in
Liberty Township. Ryerson Tull Inc. acquires J&F Steel Corporation, a steel
processor headquartered in Burns Harbor, in a deal valued at $55.3 million.
At a 2005 budget workshop, Town of Burns Harbor officials describe a
scenario in which the municipal tax rate could drop from 70 cents to 12
cents yet not raise enough revenues to fund basic services.
The Duneland School Board hires Merrillville elementary school principal
David Templin as new CHS assistant principal to replace Barb Spencer, who
resigned in July. The Porter County Commissioners enact an ordinance which
requires all waste haulers which do business in the county to offer curbside
recycling, beginning in February 2005. The 46th annual Chesterton Art Fair
is held at Hawthorne Park in Porter.
After years of declining revenues and referrals, the court-ordered treatment
provided by the Porter County Alcohol and Drug Offender Service is taken
over by the not-for-profit Prisoners and Community Together. Laurie
Franke-Polz resigns from the executive directorship of the
Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce to pursue other career ambitions.
The Chesterton Town Council raises the monthly garbage fee, assessed on the
bimonthly utility bill, by 50 cents.
Chesterton Town Council President Bob Crone, R-3rd, resigns after buying a
house in the 2nd District. Property reassessment is expected to cut the
payments which International Steel Group committed to make to local
government units when it acquired Bethlehem Steel Corporation in May 2003.
The Porter Town Council removes Member Paul Childress, R-4th, as liaison to
the Public Works Department and Stormwater Management Board.
Porter County Executive Deputy Auditor Sheila Riley announces that
property-tax appeals could result in budget shortfalls this year and next
for some local government units. A sanitary sewer force main buried under
concrete on the approach to the bridge over Coffee Creek on Indian Boundary
Road springs a leak. Owner Tracey Frye puts the Rainboutique at 302 Lincoln
St. in Porter up for sale.
The Porter County Council votes 4-3 to keep next year’s funding for
Porter-Starke Services at its 2004 level, even though Porter-Starke was
entitled to the same percentage increase allowed all other public entities.
The Duneland School Board unanimously authorizes the final design and bid
preparations to renovate the vacant east wing of Chesterton Middle School
for the corporation’s administrative offices and a new alternative school
for students removed from other classes. Michigan City resident James A.
Kelley pleads guilty to causing death while operating while intoxicated, in
connection with the crash in May 2003 which killed Porter resident and
Portage Police dispatcher Tracey Hall.
John Swanson, former deputy director of the Northeastern Illinois Planning
Commission, is hired as executive director of the Northwestern Indiana
Regional Planning Commission to replace James Ranfranz, who resigned in
January. Lakeshore Festival and Events Inc. (LFE) disinvites Munchkins Jerry
Maren and Karl Slover from the 2004 Wizard of Oz Festival after a contract
dispute with their agent, Ralph Zellem. The LFE Board of Directors rejects
the application of Neighbors Opposing NIPSCO’s Odorization Station for a
float in the Oz Parade and a booth at the festival.
Liberty Township resident and CHS student Robert Kendall, 17, dies after
being struck by a pickup truck while riding his bicycle at the intersection
of U.S. Highway 6 and Ind. 149 in Liberty Township. The Chesterton Town
Council unanimously votes to make the intersection of 11th Street and C.R.
1050N a four-way stop. The first-day enrollment of the Duneland School
Corporation jumps by 61.
Daniel Gavito resigns from the Porter hospital board. The ninth annual Taste
of Porter is held in Hawthorne Park, at which Sigrid Anderson is named
Porter Citizen of the Year. The Porter County Council votes 6-1 to grant
across-the-board raises of $4,258 to Porter County Sheriff’s Police
A semi tractor-tanker overturns on U.S. Highway 20 in Porter and spills
10,000 pounds of hot liquid tar, but the rapid response of firefighters and
volunteers prevents the contamination of the Little Calumet River. The
Porter County Park Board eyes the acquisition of two parcels, both
contiguous to Chesterton, one east of the town and one south. A Republican
caucus is canceled after no candidate emerges for the 3rd District seat on
the council vacated by the resignation of Bob Crone.
The Porter County Commission-ers unanimously enact a revised open space
ordinance, under which developers in the unincorporated county must set
aside 10 percent to 20 percent of the total acreage of a development for
open space, depending on the property’s environmental features. Tests detect
lower than expected arsenic levels in the treated wood of playground
equipment at Dunes Friendship Land. The Make-A-Wish Foundation announces
that it will send Samantha Keiser, 7, Lockland, Nev., to the 2004 Wizard of
Jackson Elementary School is one of only 147 schools in the state given a
Four-Star rating by the Indiana Department of Education for its student
testing scores and its attendance rates. The Porter Town Council unanimously
votes to reduce 2004 budget appropriations by $234,300. The Northwest
Indiana Regional Council of Carpenters Pension Fund Trust files an amended
civil suit, which names Peter Manous, Kevin Pastrick, Carl Paul Ihle Jr.,
Debbie Nannenga, and James Bohlen, and which seeks to recover its $10
million investment in Coffee Creek Center; Gerry Nannega, a pension fund
trustee, was the only person named in the original suit.
Ralph Zellem, the agent of Munchkins Jerry Maren and Mickey Carroll,
announces that his clients will appear at the 2004 Wizard of Oz Festival but
not as official guests. CHS Trojan Guard band places third in season opener
at the Pirate Treasures of Sight and Sound Band Invitational in
Merrillville. The Duneland United Churches Resale Shop’s new location at 534
Broadway in Chesterton is dedicated.
Carl Paul Ihle Jr., the only one of four persons not to plead guilty after
being indicted in the kickback and cover-up scheme which greased the sale of
55 acres in Coffee Creek Center to the Northwest Indiana Regional Council of
Carpenters Pension Fund Trust, is found guilty of five counts of lying to
federal investigators. The Lake Erie Land Company seeks to sell the Sand
Creek County Club to members. CHS seniors Melissa Dittman and Kyle Huber are
named National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists.
Chris Fischer is named the new executive director of the Duneland YMCA. The
23rd annual Wizard of Oz Festival is held. CHS students Casey Martin and
Katrina Dradziad are named Homecoming King and Queen. The Chesterton Town
Council unanimously appoints Det. Lt. Dave Cincoski of the Chesterton Police
Department, a Republican, to the 3rd District seat on the council vacated by
the resignation of Bob Crone.
The Department of Natural Resources awards the Town of Chesterton a $150,000
grant to develop and build Phase I of the Westchester-Liberty Trail, which
when completed will link Dogwood Park to the Coffee Creek Watershed via C.R.
1100N. The Porter County Council grants a 10-year tax abatement to Family
Express Corporation for a new distribution center in Morgan Township. The
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cites NIPSCO for improvements at four
coal-fired generating stations between 1985 and 1995, including the Bailly
Generating Station, without obtaining the proper permits and without
installing additional pollution controls; the EPA indicates that it will
refer the case to the U.S. Department of Justice for prosecution.
The Porter hospital board unanimously approves President and CEO Ron
Winger’s amended contract, which provides for a raise in his base pay of
$85,000, after it neglected to do so at a meeting in February 2003 when it
re-adjourned from a recess and forgot that the contract was still on the
table awaiting a vote.
The Chesterton License Branch of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles wins the Tree
of Life Award for signing up the most organ donors in Region 1 in 2003, and
a purple plum tree is planted at Dogwood Park to honor the community.
Federal transportation officials approve the Town of Porter’s request to
commence the final engineering and construction of the final 2.8 miles of
the proposed 3.2 mile multi-use trail, after the Redevelopment Commission
seeks to phase the project when it is unable to reach consensus on the route
of the first 0.4 miles of the trail.
CHS seniors Melissa Dittman and Hallie Orgel are recipients of the National
Council of Teachers of English Achievement Award in Writing. The Porter
County Commissioners approve a contract with Advanced Correctional
Healthcare of Peoria, Ill., to provide physician care and all medications at
the Porter County Jail for $135,000 per year. NIPSCO projects this winter’s
natural-gas bills to be comparable to last winter’s.
A federal jury convicts Michigan City resident Nasih Ra’id of murder in the
slayings of Kay Peckat and Chandler Simpson during the botched robbery of
the Pines Branch of the First State Bank of Porter in August 2002. USWA
Local 6787 breaks ground on a 24,500-square foot banquet hall immediately
north and west of its union hall at 1100 N. Ind. 149. The Porter County Park
Board agrees to purchase 130 acres located east of Ind. 49 and between I-94
and U.S. Highway 20 in Westchester Township for a new park.
Fairhaven Baptist Church announces the construction of a 58,000-square foot
multi-use recreational facility. NIPSCO announces that it will re-advertise
for bids for the purchase of additional electricity, to meet new standards
for reliability proposed by two organizations which monitor electric
transmission systems. Porter County Senior Judge Raymond Kickbush dismisses
a lawsuit against Porter Beach property owner Suzanne Schoenfelt and the
Porter BZA filed by two neighbors in connection with the issuance of
building permits to Schoenfelt in 2003.
Arnell Chevrolet donates a 2004 Chevrolet Impala to the Burns Harbor Police
Department. Bonnie Trout is named the new executive director of the
Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce. Karen Spallina resigns from the
presidency of Lakeshore Festival & Events Inc. The Porter County Plan
Commission voted 5-4 to adopt a revised open space ordinance unanimously
approved by the Commissioners in September.
The Chesterton Utility Service Board endorses a two-phase sewer rate hike of
5.8 percent in 2005 and 5.0 percent in 2006. The Porter County Commissioners
name former Valparaiso mayor David Butterfield and bank executive Richard
Wathen to the Porter hospital board. Paul Childress, owner of the Splash
Down Dunes water park, proposes an $11 million expansion which would include
the construction of a 120,000-square foot indoor aquatic park west of
Waverly Road and north of U.S. Highway 20.
Verizon Communication hits the Porter County 911 system with a steep fee
increase which could double the monthly fee from approximately $12,000 to
$24,000. The CHS Debate Team begins its defense of its state championship
title with a win at the Munster High School Tournament. Michigan City
resident Eric Thaler, 15, dies in a two vehicle crash on U.S. Highway 20 in
The Mittal Steel Company, to be formed by the merger of Ispat International
and LNM Holdings, announces the acquisition of International Steel Group in
a deal valued at $4.5 billion; the combination would create by far the
largest steelmaker in the world. NIPSCO flips and now warns of heating bills
this winter 10 percent to 15 percent higher than last winter. U.S. Steel
Corporation reports another record net income of $354 million in the third
International Steel Group reports a net income of $256.4 million in the
third quarter. The Porter County Council votes 4-3 to boost the pay scales
in the county’s planning and building department. Zella Olson, Angel
Gochee-Goins, Alice Garba, Patricia Scott, and Ruth Osann receives the
President’s Volunteer Service Award for their work at Indiana Dunes National
Lakeshore. The Board of Directors of NiSource names Robert Skaggs Jr.
company president and appoints him and Chair and CEO Gary Neale to the new
Office of Chairman.
Porter County voters split the ticket, but Democrats take control of county
government: in the Porter County Commissioners races, Democrat challenger
Carole Knoblock defeats Republican incumbent Dave Burrus for the South
County seat and Republican incumbent John Evans defeats Democrat challenger
Jack Clem for the North County seat; in the Porter County Council races,
Republicans James Burge and incumbent William Carmichael and Democrat Dan
Whitten win the three at-large seats; in the Porter County Treasurer race,
Republican James Murphy beats Democrat Jim Kopp; in the Porter County
Surveyor race, Democrat Kevin Breitzke beats Republican Harvey Nix; in the
Duneland School Board race, incumbent Janice Custer defeats challenger Terry
Maple; and in the most significant of three constitutional amendments on the
ballot, Hoosiers vote Yes to permit the General Assembly to declare certain
forms of property, most notably homes and inventory, exempt from taxation.
Todd Webb is named the new property manager at Indiana Dunes State Park to
replace Ted Bohman, who assumes the same duties at Pokagon State Park. Peter
Manous, former head of the Indiana Democrat Party, is sentenced to 27 months
in federal prison and a fine of $200,000 for his role in the kickback and
cover-up scheme which greased the sale of 55 acres in Coffee Creek Center to
the Northwest Indiana Regional Council of Carpenters Pension Fund Trust.
Former Chesterton luminary Dick Smith dies at his home in Albuquerque, NM,
The Lakeshore Café and Family Restaurant closes at the request of the Porter
County Health Department after five confirmed salmonella cases are linked to
the eatery. The Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission
agrees to purchase from the Lake Erie Land Company 3.4 acres located in the
area of Ind. 49 and U.S. Highway 20 for $350,000, as the site of the
proposed new visitor center; the deal is contingent on Lake Erie Land’s
installing infrastructure on the site. The Town of Porter’s former law firm,
Spangler Jennings & Dougherty, sends its old client a second “final” bill of
$6,000, after sending the town a first “final” bill of $9,472 in February.
The Porter County Plan Commission votes 7-1 to endorse a revised fee
schedule for the building and planning department as part of an effort to
make that department self-supporting. Longtime Burns Harbor Building
Commissioner Gene Weibl resigns, after a new full-time work schedule leaves
him no time to oversee the town’s building boom. Three employees of the
Lakeshore Café and Family Restaurant test positive for salmonella.
The Westchester Public Library Board votes unanimously to pursue a lease
with the Duneland School Corporation to move the Westchester Historical
Museum to the Brown Mansion, to restore next year the former service hours
at the Thomas Branch, and to suspend that portion of its meeting-room policy
which bans “religious services” in library buildings. Michigan City resident
James Kelley is sentenced to 10 years in prison, after pleading guilty to
causing death while operating intoxicated, in connection with the crash
which killed Porter resident and Portage Police dispatcher Tracey Hall in
Dunelanders contribute $3,500 to Ade for Our Duneland Military Heroes, a
fundraising effort to send powdered Gatorade and other treats to U.S. troops
in Iraq. Arson is blamed for a fire which causes $30,000 in damage to a home
on East Oak Hill Road in Porter. Lakeshore Café and Family Restaurant
re-opens, following an outbreak of 16 confirmed salmonella cases linked to
the eatery, after the establishment is sanitized under the supervision of
the Porter County Health Department and employees complete a five-hour food
The Duneland School Corporation (DSC) and International Steel Group dispute
the amount which the steelmaker owes under a 2003 agreement; DSC says around
$6 million, ISG says around $1.9 million. State Rep. Ralph Ayres,
R-Chesterton, is given the plum position of vice-chair on the House Ways and
Means Committee, after Republicans take control of the State House in the
general election. The Porter County Commissioners vote unanimously to
destroy the former County Home.
The Porter Plan Commission schedules a public hearing on the petition of
Paul Childress, owner of Splash Down Dunes water park, for a re-zone which
would allow him to build an $11 million expansion, including a
130,000-square foot indoor aquatic complex, west of Waverly Road and north
of U.S. Highway 20. Porter hospital announces plans to refinance existing
debt as part of a $43 million bond issue. Porter Police Chief John Lane
resigns, effective immediately.
The Porter hospital board approves a 7.5 percent hike in rates for 2005. The
Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission trims a 10 percent rate increase
requested by Indiana-American Water Company to 0.4 percent. Washington
Township resident Angela Jones, 20, and Valparaiso resident Christopher
Johnson, 29, are killed when their vehicle is struck by an Amtrak train at a
grade crossing in Jackson Township.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Dale Engquist is awarded the
Polish Cavalry Cross of Merit by the Republic of Poland for his efforts to
manage natural protected sites. The Chesterton Town Council unanimously
votes to approve a two-phase sewer rate hike of 5.8 percent in 2005 and 5.0
percent in 2006. The Porter Town Council votes to reject the Police
Commission’s request to establish a merit commission safety board and
instead to expand the existing Police Commission from three members to five
and to add a non-voting ex officio member to a sixth seat.
WiseWay Foods officially confirms the closure early next year of the old
grocery at 801 Broadway in Chesterton, when the new grocery opens at the
intersection of Ind. 49 and C.R. 1100N. Property reassessment is estimated
to lower International Steel Group’s “Payment in Lieu of Taxes” from $8.01
million in 2003 to $3.8 million and from $8.1 million in 2004 to $3.7
million, although some local government units dispute those figures.
Seven Valparaiso High School students are injured when a fellow student
attacks them in a classroom with machete and pruning saw. The Northwest
Indiana Regional Council of Carpenters Pension Fund Trust petitions a
federal judge to reconsider the sentence imposed on Peter Manous, who was
not required to repay the pension fund trust any of the money which it says
it lost in the deal with the Lake Erie Land Company. The Burns Harbor Town
Council unanimously votes to grant Ryerson Tull Inc. a three-year tax
abatement for all new and relocated processing equipment to be installed at
its operation in town, the former J&F Steel Corporation.
Arson is blamed for a fire which destroys a vacant farmhouse on C.R. 125W in
Liberty Township. Officials pitch Northwest Indiana as the ideal site for
the headquarters of Mittal Steel Company’s combined U.S. operations, after
its merger with International Steel Group is completed next year. The Porter
County Park Board unanimously votes to offer $118,000 for three acres of
privately owned property on the south side of Sunset Hill Farm Park.
The CHS Music Department holds the 32nd annual Madrigal Dinner. Chesterton
Tribune reporter Kevin Nevers wins first place in the Best General Columnist
category in the Hoosier State Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest,
Division III. The Duneland School Board reports a 98.24 percent turnout rate
for parent-teacher conferences.
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission orders a 5.01 percent cut in
Indiana-American Water Company’s rate for its Northwest Indiana customers,
including Dunelanders. Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, urges
the Porter County Council to repeal the county economic development income
tax. CHS juniors Katie Stahura and Tess Mullin are selected to participate
in the Richard G. Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders at the University
The United Steelworkers of America crafts a prescription drug card plan for
retirees to be funded with a portion of the estimated $160 million which
International Steel Group has contributed this year to the benefit trust,
created by the collective bargaining agreement to provide some health care
coverage to retirees who lost theirs in ISG’s acquisition of bankrupt
steelmakers. The Burns Harbor Town Council tables a proposed ban on the
discharge of firearms in town after a lively public hearing.
Harvest Homes appears before the Porter County Plan Commission for a concept
review of the first development which would be built under the county’s new
open space ordinance: a project proposed for 39 acres in Center Township and
on paper exceeding the requirements of that ordinance by better than 50
percent. The Duneland School Foundation awards more than $8,500 in grants
for a variety of projects in 2005. The Indiana Department of Education
reports the results of ISTEP: all Duneland grades but the third grade at
Liberty Elementary School exceed state averages.
Before it will close on the deal, the Porter County Convention, Recreation,
and Visitor Commission insists on the Lake Erie Land Company’s guarantee
that it will install infrastructure on a parcel approved for purchase by the
PCCRVC for a new visitor center. A federal judge sentences Nasih Ra’id to
death for the murders of Kay Peckat and Chandler Simpson during a botched
robbery of the Pines Branch of the First State Bank of Porter in August
2003. Porter-Starke Services Inc. seeks to cut services associated with its
intensive outpatient program at the Porter County Jail.
Chesterton Plan Commission Member George Stone resigns from his appointment
to the BZA, and the commission unanimously votes to appoint planner Fred
Owen to Stone’s seat on the BZA. The Porter Police Commission recommends
Det. Sgt. James Spanier for the position of Chief of Police. The Westchester
Public Library Board approves the hiring of 15 new clerks and names three
managers and two assistants in advance of expanded service hours effective
International Steel Group announces the re-start of the 110-inch plate mill
at ISG-Burns Harbor, idle for more than four years. The first snow storm of
the season hits Duneland less than a week before Christmas. The Chesterton
Utility Service Board unanimously votes to purchase the old United Tractor
facility at 116 N. 15th St. for $375,000.
A Democratic caucus elects Porter Township resident Laura Blaney to the
vacancy on the Porter County Council created by the election of Carole
Knoblock to the South County seat on the Porter County Commissioners.
Michigan City resident Nicole M. Healy, 25, dies of injuries sustained when
she is ejected from her pickup in a one-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 20
in Porter. Former Pine Township Trustee William Theis is charged with one
count of conflict of interest while in office.