Chesterton Tribune

2005 in Review: Year of anger finally comes to a close for Duneland and Porter County

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By KEVIN NEVERS

and VICKI URBANIK

Call it the Year of Indignation.

In 2005 it seemed at times as if everyone in public life was mad at someone else in public life. There were charges and countercharges, lawsuits and rumors of lawsuits. Headline writers were given the job of carrying messages between aggrieved parties because the aggrieved parties couldn’t be bothered to speak to one another.

The Porter County Commissioners set the tone early in 2005, at their first meeting of the year, when the new majority, Robert Harper, D-Center, and Carole Knoblock, D-South, bounced their colleague, John Evans, R-North, from the NICTD board and replaced him with Porter County Democrat Chair Leon West. At issue isn’t the rightness or wrongness of their decision but rather the etiquette of it: Harper and Knoblock jettisoned Evans in his absence, while he was mourning a death in his immediate family. For his part Evans was disinclined to turn the other cheek and at the Commissioners’ next meeting he called Harper and Knoblock’s move “petty, political, and punitive” and slammed them for neglecting to consult with him prior to naming their appointments.

And so it would be all year long: egos bruised, grievances nursed, and precious little effort on anyone’s part to resolve differences quickly and amicably.

The ugliest feud has its proximate cause in the sewer rate hike enacted by the Chesterton Town Council in late 2004 at the recommendation of the Utility Service Board. Reeling from sticker shock—its sub-rate for treatment rose a whopping 60 percent—the Porter Town Council claimed gouging, then threatened in May to condemn the property where the wastewater treatment plant is located and run the thing itself. In November Porter filed a lawsuit seeking access to the plant in advance of any condemnation proceeding, then re-filed it when Chesterton Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann maintained that the Porter Town Council had never authorized the lawsuit by public vote (maybe it did, maybe it didn’t, the Indiana Public Access Counselor couldn’t decide). The shame of it all: only the lawyers are talking at this point, as the parties themselves have never actually met face to face to discuss the outstanding issues. When invited to do so at a special meeting in June by the Utility Service Board and the Chesterton Town Council, the Porter Town Council refused to go to the table.

So it was hardly a propitious moment for Evans to push the idea of a Tri-Town merger. In fact he pushed it twice, the first time in August and again in November when Chesterton Town Council Member Sharon Darnell, D-4th, solicited public input on the desirability of the town’s seeking city status. Without enthusiasm the Chesterton Town Council asked the Porter and Burns Harbor town councils whether they wanted to parley on the subject. They didn’t, as though even the pretense of open-mindedness were a sign of weakness.

Nor was it a propitious moment for Porter Redevelopment Commission Member Bill Donley to ask the Chesterton Town Council whether it would re-consider its opposition to routing the link between the Prairie Duneland Trail and the Brickyard Trail by way of South Jackson Blvd. The Chesterton Town Council rebuffed him in May, however, standing stubbornly firm on the 15th Street route, and so the Brickyard languished until near year’s end when Porter proposed a new route avoiding Chesterton entirely.

Duneland by no means had a corner on rancor, however. There was plenty of ill will to go around at the county level. Begin with the release of secretly taped comments made by Porter hospital CFO Hugh King, who asserted that hospital officials have a plan to emphasize the institution’s shaky finances in order to build support for the sale of the hospital. Porter President and CEO Ron Winger denied King’s assertions and two months later King was fired, but not before Knoblock unsheathed her long knife and, citing “incompetence or greed,” urged Winger and the Board of Trustees to resign en masse. Evans was quick to characterize Knoblock’s suggestion as “political meddling”; Board President John Rhame, as a “personal attack that seemed to come out of nowhere.”

Rhame, hoping to mend some fences, formed a citizens committee charged with ensuring that the hospital “positions itself appropriately for the future.” In a highly critical report released in November, that committee blasted the hospital for secrecy and opined that sale or merger would in fact be the most appropriate way of so positioning itself.

By far the policy with the most far-reaching implications was the Porter County Council’s decision, in a split vote, to join the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority by raising the CEDIT rate to generate the county’s $3.5 million annual commitment. Membership in the RDA had wide support from Democrats and Republicans alike as well as from real estate agents, builders, union reps, and business leaders. Still, not everyone was on board and it wasn’t just the tax hike which raised opponents’ hackles: it was their fear of being corrupted and swallowed by Lake County.

In the meantime, battle was waged on Porter/LaPorte County Line Road, where a Michigan City group wants to build a waste transfer station. The Porter County Commissioners unanimously voted not to raise the weight limit on County Line Road and not to issue a driveway permit, moves which ought to have stymied the project out of the gate. But the Indiana Department of Environmental Management went ahead and issued a permit for the transfer station anyway. The Commissioners—joined by the towns of Beverly Shores and Pines — intend to appeal that issuance.

Not surprisingly, 2005 was a banner year for litigation. A sampling:

—in April the Chesterton Utility sued The Duneland Group after the contractor in charge of the wastewater treatment plant expansion alleged that a bad design and engineering mistakes caused numerous and extensive delays;

— in June the owner of a 353-acre site in Porter Township where developers want to place a new landfill petitioned the Indiana Supreme Court to reverse previous rulings against it in Porter Superior Court and at the Indiana Court of Appeals;

—and in November Nicole and Wesley Koszusek Jr., the daughter and son of former Porter Town Council Kathy Koszusek, filed a federal lawsuit against Porter County Clerk Dale Brewer and Chesterton Police Chief George Nelson, in which they maintain that their absentee ballots in the 2003 general election were unconstitutionally spoiled.

Dunelanders themselves had plenty to beef about in 2005 and had opportunities to speak out at several high-profile public hearings:

Jackson Township remonstrators scored a victory against the developer who wanted the Porter County Plan Commission to re-zone 150 acres along C.R. 1050N for a 270-unit subdivision, when the Porter County Commissioners refused to grant the petition.

Chesterton remonstrators put two in the win column after the Board of Zoning Appeals rejected James Morrow’s petition for a use-variance to operate his all-steel Lustron house in Morgan Park as a museum (Morrow later sought a writ of certiorari against the BZA); and after the board also rejected an Arlington Heights, Ill., man’s petition for a use-variance to operate a massage parlor in the old Jewel/Osco strip mall (the fact that the man and his business partner proved to have ties to prostitution did not help his case).

Not everyone was a winner. Porter Beach residents were angered when the Porter Town Council reached a compromise with Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in the contentious matter of an alley vacation. And all of Duneland lost when the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, taking its lead from Our Man Mitch, opted to close the Chesterton license branch. Remonstrators packed the public hearing in both cases and spoke passionately but to no avail.

Yet by far the most important public hearing of 2005 the Chesterton Plan Commission postponed until 2006, when the look and feel and function of the town for years to come could be determined: GK Development Inc. of Barrington, Ill., wants to PUD a regional mall in excess of 300,000 square feet on a 40-acre industrial parcel located south of C.R. 1100N, east of Ind. 49, north of Rail Road, and west of the Coffee Creek Watershed Conservancy. It would be a colossal development, would affect traffic patterns in and around Chesterton for miles, and would take more than 13 percent of the town’s precious industrial acreage out of play forever. Look for feelings to run high at that public hearing, whenever it’s convened.

What else had people in a lather this year? Boil-order advisories issued twice this summer in less than a month by Indiana-American Water Company, after power outages interrupted service to the Ogden Dunes pump station? The announcement by Lakeshore Festival & Events Inc. that the Wizard of Oz Festival would no longer be held in Chesterton but at the Porter County Fair & Expo Center? The newly created stormwater user fee which municipalities have enacted in order to fund the cost of implementing the federally mandated MS4 program?

Take your pick. In 2005 there was always something.

January

A dead bobcat is found in Duneland, only the second confirmed sighting in the area of the state-endangered feline since 1970. The Burns Harbor Town Council appoints Paul Christofersen Building Commissioner. Chesterton Tribune headline: 388 deaths reported in 2004.

The Chesterton Town Council rescinds its decision not to renew its lease with the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce for the old New York Central passenger depot at 222 Broadway, after the Utility announces its plan to purchase the old United Tractor facility at 116 N. 15th St. The Chesterton Town Council replaces Joe Wagner on the Police Commission with Nick Walters. Det. Sgt. James Spanier is sworn in as Porter Police Chief.

Porter County Commissioners Robert Harper, D-Center, and Carole Knoblock, D-South, oust colleague John Evans, R-North, from the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation Board and replace him with Porter County Democrat Party Chair Leon West. The Porter County Council votes 4-3 to elect Member Bob Poparad, D-1st, to the presidency. The Chesterton High School Trojan Guard Marching Band, Wind Ensemble, and Jazz Ensemble take nine trophies at the Outback Bowl Music Festival in Tampa, Fla., all three winning Grand Champion honors.

The Porter County Commission-ers agree to re-zone 29 acres on North Calumet Ave. in Liberty Township from Planned Unit Development to Commercial-4 for a proposed sports complex and indoor ice rink. Chesterton Tribune headline: 177 births reported in 2004. Former Indiana Democrat Party Chair Peter Manous begins serving a 27-month sentence in a federal prison for his role in 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.

Thefts prompt the Thomas Branch of the Westchester Public Library to close the entire adult CD collection until additional theft control devices are installed. Chesterton Town Council Member Frank Sessa, D-2nd, resigns his seat. Chesterton resident Alfred P. Nelson, educator and community activist, dies at 95.

The Chesterton Town Council ratifies the 2005 Wizard of Oz Festival contract. Talor Whitaker breaks the CHS record in the 100-free as the girls swim team beats seventh ranked Lake Central. The Porter Town Council enacts a 22-percent sanitary sewer rate hike.

Stop lights at the entrance to the Pilot Travel Center on U.S. Highway 20 in Burns Harbor are activated. Jennifer and Hector Santos Sr., parents of a 4-year-old who accidentally but not fatally shot himself with his father’s handgun in 2002, are convicted of neglect of a dependent, a Class D felony. Jackson Township residents remonstrate at a public hearing convened by the Porter County Plan Commission against the petition for a re-zone of 150 acres on C.R. 1050N for a proposed 270-unit subdivision.

The Porter County Solid Waste Management District is re-named the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County. The CHS girls swim team wins its sixth straight Duneland Athletic Conference title, led by Christy Grcevich’s two individual wins and two relay wins. CHS wrestlers Andy St. Germain and Ethan Newham win DAC titles in their weight classes.

Steve Brickner, owner of The Flower Cart, is selected to be one of 200 florists from 35 states to design arrangements for President Bush’s inauguration. Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, rips colleagues Robert Harper, D-Center, and Carole Knoblock, D-South, for creating a “political circus” and calls their decisions in his absence two weeks earlier “petty, political, and punitive.” The CHS speech team takes first place at the LaPorte High School Invitational.

Natalie Munoz, 20, of Portage, dies in a one vehicle accident on U.S. 20 in Pine Township. The Burns Harbor Volunteer Fire Department is awarded a $48,881 grant from the Department of Homeland Security to be used to purchase 23 sets of bunker gear and other equipment. Jamie Gray, 29, of Valparaiso, a mother of two, is stabbed to death in the parking lot of an apartment building on Valparaiso’s north side.

The 1955 CHS basketball team, winner of that year’s sectional title, is remembered at the half time of the CHS-Portage varsity game. Chuck Lukmann accedes to the presidency of the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce, Joan and Loren Knibbs receive the Senior Award and Jean Phelps the Athena Award, and Jane Delligatti is honored for her volunteerism at the Chamber’s annual banquet. Meaghan McLaughlin, Ethan Whitaker, Grant Schuster, Kyle Whitaker, and Tyler Fozkos of the Duneland Swim Club help Team Indiana take back the state title in competition with other Quad teams from Ohio, Kentucky, and Illinois.

At the urging of Kim Goldak, the Chesterton Town Council adopts Chennai, India, badly damaged by the Dec. 26 tsunami, as a “sister town.” U.S. Steel Corporation reports a net income of $462 million or $3.55 per diluted share for the fourth quarter of 2004, the third straight record-breaking quarter since the company began reporting steel results separately in 1991. The Community Drug Coalition reports: Porter County’s opiate mortality rate of 9.83 per 100,000 exceeds Chicago’s rate of 5.88, according to a study conducted by Roosevelt University’s Institute for Metropolitan Affairs.

Porter Public Works Director Scott Guy resigns effective immediately for personal reasons. The CHS Trogems win the 11th annual Chesterton Invitational. The CHS boys swim team wins its ninth straight DAC title.

A Democrat caucus elects Kelsee Waggoner to the 2nd District seat on the Chesterton Town Council vacated by Frank Sessa in the mistaken belief that Waggoner resides in the 2nd District. NiSource Inc. reports income from continuing operations of $430.2 million or $1.63 per share for 2004. CHS debaters and speakers Margaret Knopic, Kate Weber, Ryan Anderson, Kevin Weaver, Kelly Starcevich, and Samantha Wuletich qualify for the National Forensic League’s national tournament in Philadelphia.

February

Paul Childress withdraws his petition before the Porter Plan Commission for a re-zone of 15 acres on Waverly Road for a proposed $24 million indoor aquatic center. WiseWay Foods opens its new grocery at 1560 Pioneer Trail in Chesterton, three times larger than the older one at 801 Broadway. The Porter County Democrat Party fails within a 30-day statutory window to call a caucus and elect a successor to the 2nd District seat on the Chesterton Town Council vacated by Frank Sessa, but Porter County Voter Registration says that the 30-day clock has not started ticking because Clerk of Circuit Court Dale Brewer was not properly informed of the vacancy.

Thirty-three soloists and 15 ensembles from CHS and Chesterton Middle School win gold medals and eight soloists and three ensembles win silver medals in the ISSMA District Invitational at Valparaiso High School. Indiana Dunes State Park announces the continued closure of the Nature Center as it tries to get to the bottom of what appears to be a “sick-building” problem. Porter Chesterton Medical Campus, the urgent care center, scales back hours by one hour per day Mondays through Fridays and two per days Saturdays and Sundays, in a move which the hospital says is prompted by patient volumes.

CHS wrestler Andy St. Germain wins his weight-class title at the LaPorte Regional. The CHS girls swim team wins its sixth straight title at the Chesterton Sectional. The CHS debate team successfully defends its title at the state tournament at Kokomo High School.

The Indiana Election Commission clarifies matters, by ruling that the Porter County Democrat Party has another chance to call a caucus and elect a successor to the 2nd District seat on the Chesterton Town Council vacated by Frank Sessa. International Steel Group reports a net income of $606 million or $5.87 per diluted share for the fourth quarter of 2004. The Chesterton Town Council agrees by consensus to give the Porter County Democrat Party its blessing to hold another caucus to elect a successor to Frank Sessa.

CHS swimmers Sarah Kehe, Taylor Lipniskis, Talor Whitaker and Christy Grcevich win the school’s first-ever state relay title in the 200-free at the IUPUI Natatorium in Indianapolis. CHS trumpeter Brian Chubb is selected to participate in the 45th annual Indiana All-State High School Band Festival. The CHS speech team wins the Bill Young Memorial Speech Invitational at Plymouth High School.

The Duneland Swim Club wins the fourth annual Union Township Snowflake Classic. The CHS boys swim team wins its seventh straight title at the LaPorte Sectional. A Democrat caucus elects Paul Christofersen to the 2nd District seat on the Chesterton Town Council vacated by Frank Sessa.

The Porter Town Council agrees to pay a $56,266 sewer bill to the Chesterton Utility in the wake of a rate increase. CHS debaters Mike Frost and Stephanie Leopold qualify for the National Forensic League’s national tournament in Philadelphia. A sinkhole 16 feet deep is discovered beneath the intersection of 15th Street and West Morgan Ave., created by the erosion of a brick manhole.

CHS basketball player Zack Novack breaks Porter County’s all-time freshman season scoring record with one more game remaining in the season. The Porter Redevelopment Commission makes a loan of $500,000 in TIF moneys to the town’s General Fund, whose balance had fallen to around $11,000. CHS percussionist Steven Trowbridge performs in the Indiana All-State concert ensembles at the Indiana Music Educators Association convention in Indianapolis.

Developers withdraw their petition before the Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals for a variance which would have permitted construction of 100 upscale apartments on an extended Council Drive and behind the Super 8 Motel south of Indian Boundary Road. Mittal Steel Company announces a planned worldwide workforce reduction of 45,000 jobs after it completes its acquisition of International Steel Group. The CHS Trogems place fifth at the DAC championship meet. The CHS boys swim team places fourth in the 200-free relay and breaks a school record in that event but finishes 16th as a team at the state championship meet.

March

The Chesterton Town Council grudgingly acknowledges the need to enact a stormwater user fee to defray the cost of the unfunded federal mandate known as MS4. Democrat and Republican precinct committee members elect party officers: Leon West is re-elected Democrat chair and Chuck Williams is elected Republican party chair, both unopposed. The Chesterton Parks and Recreation Department submits its five-year master plan to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, announces federal approval of the South Shore West Lake Commuter Rail Extension, with the last remaining step in the development of the rail line being the identification of a permanent funding source from a non-federal entity. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore holds its 27th annual Maple Sugar Time Festival. The Duneland Exchange Club presents the Book of Golden Deeds award to Don and Doris Metzner for their 16 years of work for the Westchester Neighbors Food Pantry.

Existence of secretly taped conversations with Porter hospital Chief Financial Officer Hugh King is disclosed; on those tapes King is alleged to have said that hospital officials want to build a new hospital but haven’t the funds to do so and therefore plan to emphasize the institution’s shaky finances in order to sell the hospital or enter into a management partnership with another hospital. King is suspended with pay, as hospital officials investigate his comments. Hospital President and CEO Ron Winger largely refutes the substance of King’s comments.

CHS speech team wins title at Valparaiso Sectional. A Porter County Sheriff’s Police SWAT team shoots and kills James Francis Szotek, 60, of Jackson Township, after Szotek fires a rifle at officers. CHS boys distance relay team—Nick Stevens, Al Thompson, Adam Martin, and Matt Osborn—takes first place with a new meet record at the DAC Indoor Invite at Valparaiso High School.

CMS pool is drained and closed indefinitely after a leak is discovered. CHS Winter Guard takes third place at the Midwest Color Guard Association Invitational at Lake Park High School in Roselle, Ill. CHS girls track team posts three wins at the CHS Indoor Invite.

CHS captures two state titles at the Indiana State Japan Bowl at Michigan City and Aaron Sisto, Jenna Johnson, and Kyle Huber qualify for the National Japan Bowl in Washington, D.C. Transcripts of secretly recorded conversations with Porter hospital CFO Hugh King reveal discussions about proposals to privatize the 66-year-old public institution. The Porter County Plan Commission forwards without recommendation to the Porter County Commissioners a developer’s petition for a re-zone of 150 acres on C.R. 1050N in Jackson Township for a proposed 270-unit subdivision.

Chesterton Police Commission President Jim Reeder resigns his seat to serve as Ogden Dunes Town Marshal. Dave Hollenbeck—who serves, among other things, as Porter Town Attorney—is named to the list of Indiana Super Lawyers, comprising the top 5 percent of attorneys in the state, by publisher Law and Politics. Lakshmi Mittal, majority owner of Mittal Steel Company, jumps to No. 3 on the Forbes list of billionaires with a net worth of $25 billion.

CHS speakers Zena Kharsa, David Corso, A. J. Rodriguez, Sarah Christofersen, Kathryn Kattalia, and Sruthi Sadhujan qualify for the National Forensic League national tournament in Philadelphia. Lindsey Whittaker wins beam and the CHS Trogems take third place at Valparaiso Regional. Chesterton Building Department reports: 181 single-family building permits issued in 2004, the best year for new housing starts in the last 11 years.

Porter hospital Board of Trustees John Rhame announces the formation of a citizens committee intended to ensure that the hospital “positions itself appropriately for the future.” Lakeshore Gymnastics Level 4 team sets gym record with the highest score at the Level 4 state meet in Noblesville and Elizabeth Sullivan breaks the Level 4 gym record. Kevin Pastrick is sentenced to 37 months in federal prison for his role in 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.

Jackson Cub Scout Pack 924 celebrates its 75th anniversary. Paul Ihle is sentenced to 21 months in federal prison for his role in covering up 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. CHS speech teams takes its fifth straight title at the state tournament in Indianapolis.

CHS Winter Guard takes second place at Midwest Color Guard Circuit invitational at Stagg High School in Palos Hills, Ill. Porter Town Council Member Paul Childress, R-4th, raises the threat of municipal bankruptcy after the council authorizes a $50,858 sewer payment to the Chesterton Utility. The Duneland Swim Club takes its 12th consecutive title at the Northwest Indiana Swim Conference in Hobart.

The Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals rejects James Morrow’s petition for a use-variance which would have permitted him to operate his all-steel Lustron home in Morgan Park as a museum. The new citizen committee formed to study Porter hospital appears to break the Indiana Open Door Law when it holds a meeting without giving public notice. Sanjay Shah, fired from his position as vice-president of information systems at Porter hospital in March 2004, files a federal lawsuit claiming he was terminated because he was a whisteblower. Porter County Commissioner Carole Knoblock, D-South, urges the Porter hospital Board of Trustees and President and CEO Ron Winger to resign, citing “incompetence or greed”; Commissioner John Evans, R-North, calls Knoblock’s suggestion “political meddling,” while Board of Trustees President John Rhame calls it a “personal attack that seemed to come out of nowhere.”

April

Sarah Kehe’s three first-place finishes lead the CHS girls track team to a win at a non-conference triangular meet at Chesterton. For the third straight year, Porter County property-tax bills will be mailed late, County Treasurer Jim Murphy announces. CHS Winter Guard takes third place at the Midwest Color Guard Circuit championship at LaPorte High School.

The CHS softball team defeats previously unbeaten Griffith 1-0. CHS teams take first and second places at the National Japan Bowl in Washington, D.C. Less than a year after completion, the South Shore Industrial Overpass linking Ind. 249 to U.S. Steel Midwest is showing cracks.

The Porter Redevelopment Commission recommends nearly doubling the size of the town’s tax increment financing district. After nearly five years in moth balls—placed there by Bethlehem Steel Corporation—the 110-inch plate mill at Burns Harbor is re-started by International Steel Group. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission rules in favor of NIPSCO in the company’s two-year effort to open a natural gas regulator station in Jackson Township.

Duneland Schools Superintendent Dirk Baer recommends redistricting the Bailly Elementary School boundaries, in a move which would send some Chesterton students to Brummitt Elementary School. The Community Action Drug Coalition holds its second annual Walk-Away-from-Drugs fundraiser at Coffee Creek Center. Porter County officials are asked by Northwest Indiana lawmakers to buy into a “regional development authority,” aimed at developing Gary / Chicago Interna-tional Airport and expanding South Shore service, among other things, with the county’s cost of participating estimated at $3.5 million per year.

Fire guts Chesterton Auto Repair & Service at 1002 S. Calumet Road. The Chesterton Utility Service Board files, then puts on hold, a lawsuit against its former contracted engineer and the designer of the wastewater treatment plant expansion, The Duneland Group, in response to allegations by the project contract, Bowen Engineering Corporation of Crown Point, that the expansion was badly designed and that mistakes in the engineering have caused numerous and extensive delays. Philip Kozlowski, 67, of Liberty Township, dies in a brush fire after he loses control of a controlled burn on his property. The Chesterton Town Council appoints Mark Acevedo to the seat on the Police Commission vacated by Jim Reeder.

The Duneland School Board approves a 10-year lease of the Brown Mansion to the Westchester Public Library, for use as the new home of the Westchester Public History Museum. The Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission closes on the land for a new visitors center at Ind. 49 and U.S. Highway 20 and places in escrow for the Lake Erie Land Company the $350,000 purchase price. The United Steel Workers of America merges with the Paper, Allied Industrial, Chemical, and Energy Workers International Union to create the largest industrial union in North America.

The Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department celebrates its 50th anniversary. The Federal Mackinac, skippered by Capt. Ivo Ruhar of Croatia, becomes the salt water ship of the season to berth at the Port of Indiana/Burns Harbor, with a load of steel and general cargoes from Antwerp, Belgium, and Bremen, Germany. Finalized property tax rates reveal that the Duneland communities have among the lowest rates in Porter County.

Goodnight Moon is to be the theme of the children’s reading corner at the Thomas Branch of the Westchester Public Library. Porter hospital President and CEO Ron Winger warns that for-profit hospitals threaten access to health care. Sagan Newham, Sarah Kehe, Kelly Peller, and Katie McColly take a share of MVP honors for their outstanding performance at the Chesterton Relays, while Adam Martin, Max Goldak, and Matt Osborn set a new meet record in the 9,600 relay.

International Steel Group is de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange as its acquisition by Mittal Steel Company is finalized; no word on where MSC plans to establish the headquarters of its combined U.S. operations. Anthony F. Darmofal, 69, of LaPorte County, dies in a two vehicle accident on County Line Road in Jackson Township. CHS senior Melissa Dittmann is named a Merit Scholar.

The Porter Plan Commission sends without recommendation to the Town Council Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s petition for the vacation of a public alley as part of a plan to build a 35-vehicle parking lot and picnic area at Porter Beach. The Porter Plan Commission approves the concept of a 50-room motel/restaurant/gas station PUD on U.S. 20. The 12-13 age group of Lakeshore Gymnastics takes fourth place at the Flippin Good Time State Championship.

The Duneland Flyers 11-year-old baseball team wins the USSSA state qualifier Spring Classic in Bourbonnais, Ill. John Hunter, principal of Brummitt Elementary School, announces resignation to become superintendent of Union Township School Corporation. James Morrow, owner of the all-steel Lustron home in Morgan Park, files a petition for a writ of certiorari against the Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals, after the board rejects his petition for a use-variance to operate the home as a museum.

CHS softball pitcher Laura DeLeon tosses a perfect game in 12-0 win over Merrillville. Mittal Steel Company reports net income for the first quarter of $1.1 billion or $1.78 per share. U.S. Steel Corporation reports net income for the first quarter of $445 million or $3.48 per diluted share.

The Board of Directors of the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce endorses the concept of a Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. The Porter Town Council rejects the vacation petition of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. NiSource Inc. reports income from continuing operations for the first quarter of $208.7 million or 77 cents per share.

Revealed at meeting of the Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals: Tom Roberts to sell the old Jewel/Osco property to Jeffrey Katz and Jim Lyons, developers of the mall formerly known as the Galleria Retail Center. The Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals continues a public hearing on an Arlington Heights, Ill., man’s petition for a use-variance which would permit him to operate a massage parlor in the old Jewel/Osco strip mall. The community rallies to rehab 10 homesites in Rebuilding Together Duneland.

May

Sarah Kehe wins the 800, 1,600, and 3,200 to lead the CHS girls track team to a first-place finish at the Princess Relays in Mishawaka. Porter County officials need to decide whether to use CEDIT revenues to fund its $3.5 million commitment to a Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and use any amount in excess of the first $3.5 million for property-tax relief. Porter hospital fires CFO Hugh King, following a two-month investigation of secretly taped conversations in which he criticized hospital management and spoke of plans for building a new hospital.

Duneland Superintendent Dirk Baer warns that under a budget bill passed by the General Assembly property owners will shoulder an increased burden to fund the school corporation. The Porter County Commissioners reject a petition to re-zone 150 acres on C.R. 1050N in Jackson Township which would have permitted the construction of more than 200 single-family homes. NiSource Inc. announces that the company is looking to out-source up to $2 billion in business support functions over the next 10 years.

NiSource Inc. discloses in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that it has begun accounting for the assets of Sand Creek Country Club as discontinued operations, and that it also expects to sell an estimated $5.6 million in land in the next 12 months. The Porter County Park Department forfeits a federal grant of nearly $50,000 awarded to acquire the late Mabel Trager’s property on the south side of Sunset Hill Farm, after her son sells the three acres to Chesterton Park Superintendent Bruce Mathias, who in turn priced it in excess of its appraised value. CHS softball pitcher Laura DeLeon tosses her second perfect game of the season in 3-0 win over Valparaiso High School.

Duneland School Board Member Mike Griffin announces his resignation to move to Brandenten, Fla. The Porter Redevelopment Commission asks the Chesterton Town Council to reconsider its opposition to South Jackson Blvd. as the route connecting the Prairie Duneland Trail to Porter’s proposed link with the Calumet Trail. The CHS girls track team wins the title at the DAC championship at Valparaiso, with a meet record in the 3,200 relay and a field and DAC record set by Katie McColly in the long jump. INDOT disallows bid alternatives in the bidding of the new visitors center planned by the PCCRVC.

NiSource CEO Gary Neale announces his retirement effective June 30. The Porter Town Council instructs Town Attorney Dave Hollenbeck to prepare a timeline of actions needed to condemn, then purchase and operate, the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant, located in the Town of Porter. The Town of Burns Harbor officially becomes the owner of the wastewater treatment plant formerly owned by Bethlehem Steel Corporation, then International Steel Group, although the mill will continue to operate the facility.

Gov. Mitch Daniels signs the bill providing for the creation of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. The Chesterton Utility Service Board counters the Porter Town Council’s move to condemn the wastewater treatment plant with an offer to purchase Porter’s sanitary sewer collection system. The Porter hospital Board of Trustees approves a resolution which stipulates that the institution will not enter any third-party arrangement that would effectively relinquish more than 49 percent control of either the Valparaiso or Portage hospital campus; that resolution clears the way for a $43 million bond issue, to be used in part to re-finance bonds issued in 1985 and 1988.

The CHS girls track team wins its sixth straight title at the Chesterton Sectional. Former union official Gerry Nannenga is sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for accepting kickbacks in exchange for influencing the purchase of 55 acres at Coffee Creek Center by the Northwest Indiana Regional Council of Carpenters Pension Fund Trust. The Porter County Commissioners approve a resolution not to lift the 10-ton weight limit on County Line Road or to upgrade that road to all-weather status, in a move which could complicate the proposed construction of a waste transfer station in a Pine Township neighborhood.

Carol Miller is named Chesterton Tribune Bowler of the Year. The CHS boys track team takes second place at the Portage Sectional. The Indiana Court of Appeals upholds Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa’s ruling that the Porter County Board of Zoning Appeals was within its rights to reject a petition for a proposed landfill in Porter Township.

The CHS girls tennis team wins the title at the Portage Sectional. The Board of Directors of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District votes 9-2 to implement changes to the South Shore schedule to meet growing demand for off-peak service, over the objection of working commuters. The Chesterton Town Council stands firm on its preference for 15th Street as the route connecting the Prairie Duneland Trail to Porter’s proposed link with the Calumet Trail.

The CHS girls track team wins title at the Highland Regional. The Porter County Council votes 4-3 to join the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority by doubling the county’s current CEDIT rate, use the first $3.5 million in revenues as its annual commitment, and dedicate the rest, estimated at $4 million per year, for property-tax relief. The Burns Harbor Board of Zoning Appeals grants a special exception to allow a proposed ice rink in a C-1 zone at 368 U.S. 20.

The Porter Town Council and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore strike a compromise, under which INDU will build its parking lot and picnic area at Porter Beach and an environmental study will be conducted on the feasibility of routing visitor traffic from the area. The CHS girls tennis team wins its first ever title at the LaPorte Regional, on the strength of a come-from-behind win by Lynn Gackowski. CHS senior Jenna Johnson is named Youth of the Year by the Duneland Exchange Club.

The Chesterton Hometown Improvement Project holds its second annual Hometown Cleanup Day in Downtown Chesterton. Indiana Dunes State Park unveils the newly rehabbed $3.4 million campground, with all 140 sites now hooked to electric and furnished with concrete pads for RVs. The Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals rejects an Arlington Heights, Ill., man’s petition for a use-variance which would have permitted him to operate a massage parlor in the old Jewel/Osco strip mall after information surfaces linking him and his partner to prostitution-related offenses in Indiana, Michigan, and Illinois.

The CHS softball team wins the title at the Class IVA Sectional at Crown Point. Edward Osann Jr., longtime environmentalist and advocate for the Save the Dunes Council, dies at 86.

June

Northwest Indiana Uncovered—formerly Porter County Uncovered—hosted throughout its 14-year run by Ross Amundson, manager of public affairs for Indiana American Water Company and former executive director of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, is canceled by Comcast Cable, after more than 700 episodes. The CHS boys golf team wins its first title at the Valparaiso Sectional since 1999 and shatters the old sectional record by 10 strokes. CHS senior J.D. Williamson is honored by the Duneland Exchange Club with its Accepting the Challenge of Excellence award.

Susan Kuc of Schererville wins Best of Show at the GFWC Chesterton Woman’s Club 54th annual art show. Robert “Rob” Hardesty, a former Porter County Sheriff’s Police officer who joined the FBI in 2001, dies of injuries sustained during a tactical training exercise a the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. The Porter County Commissioners authorize the County Election Board to purchase optical scan voting machines to replace punch card ballots, under a federal law enacted after the 2000 presidential election, at a cost to the county of around $600,000.

Former Porter County Republican County Chair Mike Aylesworth is named the new director of a 10-county regional office of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. CHS holds its 115th annual commencement exercise in the school gymnasium. The Burns Harbor Town Council expresses concern at lax security at the Pilot Travel Center, which is supposed to provide its own security under a special exception granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals.

The Chesterton Street Department installs a sidewalk on the north side of East Porter Ave. from Roosevelt Street to Wilson Street and re-paves the whole stretch of East Porter between Ind. 49 and South Calumet Road. The CHS boys golf team secures a spot in the state tournament by taking third place at the LaPorte Regional. The Porter County Agricultural Society proposes building a multi-functional arena seating 8,000 and an attached hotel at the Porter County Fair and Expo Center.

In its first year of competing at Level 3, Lakeshore Gymnastics takes second place at the spring state meet. CHS sophomore Nick Wiesmann takes two gold medals, a bronze, and a fifth-place ribbon at the Special Olympic State Swim Meet at Indiana State University in Terre Haute. The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles targets the Chesterton license branch for closure.

The Chesterton Town Council takes its first formal step in a proposed $2 million general-obligation bond issue to finance park improvements. The Chesterton Branch of Horizon Bank at 423 S. Roosevelt St. is robbed by a man in a cowboy hat. The Porter Town Council decides not to attend a special meeting with the Chesterton Town Council and the Utility Service Board at which the latter’s offer to purchase Porter’s sanitary sewer collection system would have been discussed.

The CHS boys golf team advances to the second day of play at the 69th annual IHSAA state tournament, for the first time in school history, and takes eighth place. Anthony R. Hebb, 36, of Michigan City, confesses to robbing the Chesterton Branch of Horizon Bank as well as a bank in Michigan City and one in Indianapolis. The Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club celebrates the 100th anniversary of Rotary International by hosting Mamerto Mugerwa, mayor of Kira, Uganda.

The CHS debate team wins its first School of Excellence award at the National Forensic League national tournament in Philadelphia, with Kevin Weaver and Ryan Anderson taking fifth place in Public Forum. The DNR decides not to hold a deer kill at Indiana Dunes State Park this year. The CHS softball team wins 27 games and concludes its most successful season in school history. Burns Harbor Street Commissioner Douglas Wentz is critically injured while riding his motorcycle on Ind. 149 when a van turns in front of him.

The owner of a 353-acre site in Porter Township proposed for a new landfill files a petition with the Indiana Supreme Court seeking reversal of previous rulings against it. NiSource Inc. announces the out-sourcing of 1,017 jobs corporate-wide, with 150 employees to be affected in Northwest Indiana. The Duneland School Board names Nino Cammarata the new principal of Brummitt Elementary School.

The Porter County Commissioners voted 2-1, with John Evans, R-North, opposing the motion, to appoint Daniel Roszkowski and Dr. Christopher Wirsing to the Porter hospital Board of Trustees. The Porter hospital Board of Trustees announces plans to open four new specialized medical facilities at Portage Hospital Campus as well to form a new partnership with two orthopedic surgeons based in Aurora, Ill. Pastor Edward Mitchell of Porter United Methodist Church dies at 50.

Mittal Steel Company announces a reduction of worldwide production by 1 million tons in the third quarter. Nearly 200 people attend a public hearing held by the BMV at CMS on the proposed closure of the Chesterton license branch. The Porter hospital Board of Trustees asks the Porter County Commissioners to impose a two-year moratorium on all new hospitals and outpatient clinics in the county.

July

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jared Underhill, a Chesterton High School 2001 graduate, is the tri-town Independence Day parade marshal. Porter town officials agree to spend up to $25,000 to appraise Chesterton sewer plant. People in Need of Environmental Safety receives up to $50,000 to hire a consultant from four companies responsible for The Pines’ groundwater contamination.

Duneland School Board selects John Marshall to replace Michael Griffin; the other candidates interviewed were Joe Grossbauer and Paul Blohm. Burns Harbor restores boat rental hours. Duneland School busses get perfect safety score. Porter County Park Board to study plans for festivals at Sunset Hill Farm due to lacking attendance at recent Gaelic Fest.

Indiana Chamber of Commerce president tells a regional group that state lawmakers aren’t adequately addressing state transportation needs. Duneland Raptors win the Northwest Indiana Soccer League Tournament. Porter County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Thode wins a $750 state grant to assist non-English speaking litigants. Lt. Colonel Jose Robles, U.S. Army, visits the Tribune offices to share his experiences in Iraq.

Chesterton Town Council bans parking on East Morgan Avenue during Porter Avenue project. Chesterton Town Council unanimously approves $2 million park bond issue. Porter Town Council agrees to beef up police presence at Porter Beach. Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commission approves three contracts with the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for the $2.5 million joint visitor center. Porter bike trail opponents present a petition with more than 100 names against the route. Westchester Township Historical Museum begins its move from the Library Service Center to the Brown Mansion.

Sam Doty, 13, rescues a 6-year-old boy from a possible drowning in Lakeland Park in Burn Harbor. NICTD police catch vehicle vandal in the act. Porter County Plan Commission sends 162-lot Timberland subdivision in Liberty Township back to the Technical Advisory Committee. Chesterton Fire Department volunteer Chris Neale donates a set of pet oxygen masks to the CFD. Burns Harbor Town council members question the lack of security at Pilot Travel Center.

University of Chicago Aeoromedical Network helicopter crashes on Porter Hospital helipad. Dane Anderson of Porter is sentenced to 18 years in prison for child molesting. Westchester Public Library’s 2006 budget includes 4 percent raises for full-time workers. Two Illinois teens die in U.S. 12 crash in Porter, and police charge the driver with driving while intoxicated charges.

Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles announces it will close the Chesterton license branch, despite overwhelming community opposition. Liberty Rec All-Stars take fourth place in state competition. Family and Youth Service Bureau and the Porter County juvenile court win an award for promoting family unity.

GK Development of Barrington, Ill. proposes what would be the largest single commercial development ever built in Chesterton on 40 acres at 1100N and Ind. 49. Development in the town of Porter comes to a halt due to terms in current sewage treatment plant agreement. Dune Acres Town Council retains an Oak Brook, Ill. architect to oversee the renovation of town clubhouse. Liberty Rec 10 and under girls team wins state title. State Park Senior Softball All-Star team wins district championship.

County Commissioners give up county ownership of 140-foot section off U.S. 12 to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. County Health Department orders restaurants and other food establishments closed after Indiana American Water Company issues a boil water advisory. The 155th annual Porter County Fair opens. Porter Town Board of Zoning Appeals threatened with court action after upholding a building permit for beach area home.

County Animal Shelter launches T-shirt sales to reinstate spay-neuter program. Chesterton High School, Chesterton Police and Burns Harbor Police are awarded part of $172,000 in county substance abuse funding. Porter Plan Commission members say Beam Street subdivision is too dense. Chesterton planners say GK proposal is too dense. Planners approve outpatient surgery center in Coffee Creek Center. Chesterton Town officials say County Auditor Sandy Vuko won’t respond to their questions about the County Economic Development Income Tax distribution.

Seth Barry, a former Chesterton High School graduate and Auburn University swimmer, visits the White House after his swim team wins its third straight NCAA Division National Championship. Chesterton Redevelopment Commission amends its plan for capital projects in the tax increment financing district. Chesterton Town Council awards contract for a municipal website to Griffin Marketing Services for $9,600. Porter County Council refuses to approve new haz-mat building.

Chesterton High School graduate Tara Fraley is crowned Porter County Fair Queen. Porter County Council finalizes a bond issue to repay the state up to $3.2 million for unpaid juvenile housing bills. Porter mulls sending town sewage to Burns Harbor treatment plant. Liberty Rec Ice takes state championship. Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce honors Bruce and Sandy Mannakee as volunteers of the year, presents Kim Goldak with the Humanitarian Award and names Eric Kroeger the Citizen of the Year. Porter County Plan Commission once again tables action on Timberland.

Richard Wathen and David Butterfield are chosen as chair and vice-chair of hospital board. E-4 Specialist Erik Hise returns home after four years with the U.S. Army. NICTD announces plans to add 119 parking spaces at Dune Park Station.

August

Burns Harbor officials consider limiting the proposed firearms discharge ordinance. Chris Fischer takes top honors in the Championship Flight in the 21st annual Dunes Golf Classic. Porter County officials rip new state law clearing the way for much higher tax levies for juvenile welfare expenses. Chesterton Stormwater Board endorses interim user fee of $5, which is later adopted by town council. Indiana American Water Company issues a second boiler order advisory in two weeks.

Westchester Animal Clinic becomes the temporary home of a seven-foot Burmese python found abandoned. Porter County Commissioners are given title to the county hospital’s entire Valparaiso campus. Duneland School Board approves a zero tolerance policy regarding bullying. Chesterton town officials approve raises of $1,000 or 3 percent, whichever is greater. Robbin Trowbridge-Benko appears on national media in her efforts to keep her son’s killer in prison. Burns Harbor Park department gets a new computer and truck for $100. County Health Department sets new rules for restaurants to allow them to stay open during water boil alerts.

Liberty Schools’ parking lot is resurfaced with recycled rubber tires. Burns Harbor approves $1,000 in additional benefits for employees but no raises for 2006. County Commissioner President Robert Harper announces his re-election bid. Eleanor Valadez is named the 2005 National LULAC Women’s Hall of Fame recipient. Porter County Council votes 5-2 to appoint Family Express Chief Executive Officer Gus Olympidis to the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority; the other two top contenders are Ross Amundson of Chesterton and Ed Charbonneau of Valparaiso.

The Grossbauer Group’s Joe Grossbauer questions Chesterton’s selection of website designer to Griffin Marketing Services, the highest of the four top contenders. Chesterton Town Council member Dave Cincoski questions the Indiana American Water Company over the recent water advisories. Mittal reports $1.1 billion earnings in second quarter.

Tourism officials keep working on the new $2.5 million Visitor Center despite ongoing hurdles. Porter town officials ask Chesterton to approve additional sewage capacity to allow the Visitor Center. Chesterton Police Commission expresses support for tri-town disaster response plan. Chicago Public Radio leases site at 442 N. Calumet Road for new Chesterton bureau.

Burns Harbor’s Niebauer sisters -- Esther, 14, Naomi, 13, and Miriam, 8 -- drown at Lakeland Park. Westchester Public Library summer reading program gets 22 percent increase in participation. Mary Reusch of Rockford, Mich., is this year’s resident artist at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Megan Newlin, 7, and Ethan Ford, 6, of South Haven die after being hit by a car in their neighborhood driven by a Chesterton motorist. Dan Watt of Chesterton is one of 10 Boy Scouts selected from 40,000 to meet President George W. Bush.

North Porter County Commissioner John Evans calls on Chesterton and Porter officials to quit their feuding over the sewage treatment plant rates and to merge into one community with Burns Harbor. County Commissioners formally agree to demolish the former County Home. Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County holds a public hearing on proposal to increase annual fee to $13. Duneland Youth Baseball Association seeks to rezone a portion of the 10.4 acres it owns between Canonie Drive and U.S.. 20 from residential to business.

Porter County Council votes 4-1 to more than double the funding for a welfare fund used for institutions and foster care for at-risk youth. Brian Hicks of Liberty Township earns Eagle Scout rank. Chesterton Utilities Board approves greater capacity for the Visitor Center. Porter County Council rejects Porter Starke Services funding increase as requested. Chesterton hikes building permit fees. Burns Harbor enacts new swimming safety measures at Lakeland Park.

Porter County Council votes 4-2 to increase 2006 funding for the Family and Youth Services Bureau from $174,627 to $500,000 and for the Porter County Community Services from $98,000 to $118,000. Businesses are the ones now questioning new route for Porter’s Brickyard Trail. Porter Town Council grills Indiana American Water Co. for unrepaired water main leak and billing disputes. Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce celebrates its 50th birthday. First day of school shows an enrollment increase of 107 students.

Town of Porter learns it probably can’t send its sewage to Burns Harbor treatment plant. New concerns are raised over the Timberland subdivision in Liberty Township. West Nile virus found in mosquito pool trapped in Chesterton. County Council ends 2006 budget hearings with $1,500 raises for most employees; $3,000 raises for the county auditor, clerk, treasurer, recorder and assessor; eight new full-time employees; and a new rank system for county sheriff police. The new owners of convenience stores at 400 S. Calumet Road and 1175 Broadway wins variances from Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals.

Liberty Township motorist Kenneth Liptak escapes injury after his station wagon is struck by a train at the CSX crossing at 200W. County officials agree to provide $100,000 in income tax revenues for the new Ivy Tech State College in Valparaiso. Richard LaHayne is Porter Citizen of the Year. United Way of Porter County holds national Day of Caring, and landscaping at the Duneland YMCA day care is one of the local projects.

Indiana Dunes State Park lifeguards save two Illinois women from drowning. Two die in three-vehicle crash on U.S. 20 in Pine Township. Burns Harbor takes the first steps to save $500,000 by refinancing a sewer bond. Hurricane Katrina strikes. Duneland School Board budget includes 7 percent increase in transportation costs. County hospital Porter posts a $394,000 loss for the month of July.

September

Ivy Tech College treats county officials to tour of new campus under construction in Valparaiso. Eric Ginter of Jackson Township is one of the first two recipients of a new scholarship program aimed at training steelworkers of the future.

Gov. Mitch Daniels makes an impromptu stop in Chesterton at the Northside Diner in Chesterton, where he’s questioned over the license branch closure. Daniels appoints Harley Snyder of Valparaiso as the Portage/Valparaiso representative on the RDA. Porter County Park board agrees to get appraisals on three parcels.

Splash Down Dunes tries to force neighboring residents to pay $100,000. Two inmates escape from the Porter County Jail by making their way through the roof, but are quickly captured. Duneland Schools “adopt” the Pearl River County School Corp. for hurricane relief. Lakeshore Festival & Events announces that the 2005 Oz Fest will be the last in Chesterton. State announces that Porter County’s income tax revenue in 2006 will be much higher than anticipated. Porter awards bid for Hawthorne Park community building remodeling to Taylor & Bartholomew for $56,163.

Local trucking companies join forces in hurricane relief. Liberty Intermediate Student Sarah Jackett is the impetus behind a large-scale hurricane benefit concert. County Health Board proposes new restaurant fee, from $50 to $200, to offset the costs of inspections. County Commissioners refuse to issue driveway permit for proposed waste transfer station on the Porter-LaPorte County Line Road.

Derek Mikolajczylk wins Alice Wesson scholarship at Sand Creek Country Club. Heading to help in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts are Duneland guidance counselor Rick Lawson and Porter County Juvenile Court Judge Edward Nemeth, a Red Cross disaster relief worker.

Porter Town Council and Redevelopment Commission map out new strategy to attract new businesses. Teamsters Local 142 strike against PSC Metals. Porter Hospital officials outline services at Chesterton campus. Mike Meltz of Chesterton travels to Biloxi, Miss. to bring his mother back. Chesterton Town Council member Jim Ton suggests a new town festival to replace the Oz Fest.

Duneland Superintendent Dirk Baer issues a temporary ban on school field trips due in part to rising fuel costs. Robin Jocius of Chesterton, a Tulane University senior, tells how she survived Hurricane Katrina. Miriam Christensen is honored for her Kindermusik work. Duneland School Board to refinance its pension bond. Porter upholds reduced-rate summer sewer schedule.

Duneland School Board is told that nearly 50 percent of the 690 CHS athletes maintain a GPA of at least 3.5. Nathan Pavlovic, Emilia Blaser, Stephanie Leopold, and Katherine Stahura are Merit Scholar Semi-finalists. Chesterton Planners raise concerns about the GK Development proposal.

Burns Harbor commends heroic actions by those assisting in the Lakeland Park drownings, including Arthur Elwood of the Burns Harbor police, John McMann of Porter Police and Robert Caufman of the Department of Natural Resources.

County Plan Commission approves the Timberland subdivision’s entire plat. County planners reject the 12-lot Rilan Acres and the eight-lot Huntington Chase subdivisions, both in Jackson Township. Burns Harbor bans the discharge of firearms in town. The revised GK development includes an indoor theater.

Spectators boo the Oz Fest organizers at the conclusion of the 24th annual Oz Fest, the last in Chesterton. NIRPC and the Save the Dunes Conservation Fund host a conference in Chesterton on eco-friendly communities. CHS wins a challenge against Valparaiso in Hurricane Katrina relief drive. The recycling fee hike to $13 annually is now final. Social service agencies plan for Hurricane Katrina response.

Crash on U.S. 6 claims the life of Daniel Inherst, 21, of Jackson Township. The County Council and Commissioners sign a letter calling on the RDA to function openly and to pursue projects that involve quality jobs. The Indiana Supreme Court rejects the Boone Grove landfill. Chesterton Utilities says its customers save $83,000 in the last billing period due to the summer-rate policy.

Seven of the nine human cases of West Nile Virus so far in Indiana this year were in Northwest Indiana. County Commissioners return management of the Zona wildlife refuge to the County Wildlife Board. Lonnie Steele resigns as Expo Center manager. The county’s first contractor registration program is finalized. County Council settles a longstanding issue by approving construction of a new emergency response building.

Porter Hospital withdraws request for a moratorium and instead forms a new alliance with county officials to guide the future of the hospital. New sidewalks are installed along Porter Avenue. St. Patrick Catholic Church dedicates a new polyptych. NIRPC wins $200,000 grant to develop region’s first greenway and blueways plan.

NIRPC planner says new Porter bike trail should be a slam dunk in terms of acceptance. Chesterton Tribune’s Vicki Urbanik wins a community mental health award. Northwest Indiana residents urge the RDA at its first meeting to carry out its mission while protecting the environment, rising above politics and involving poorer communities. Army Capt. Jeff Smith returns after a year deployment in Iraq.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management hears strong opposition to the County Line Road waste transfer station at a public hearing. The National Merit Scholarship commends CHS seniors Courtney Harsy, Kaeleigh Kruger, and Amanda Bissonnette.

County officials authorize up to $425,000 in improvements at the County Jail and say they will sue if necessary to recoup the money due to faulty construction. Porter Town officials authorize $4 monthly user fee for stormwater program. Katrina aid concert is canceled due to inclement weather but is rescheduled.

Town of Porter to pay $1,750 in fines for the July, 2004 pumping of raw sewage into a pond that drains into the Little Calumet River. Lilly Foundation grants $25,000 to Parents as Teachers program. County Police seize $32,000 in a Toll Road stop.

David Malinski confesses to Lorraine Kirkley murder and tells officials where to find her body. Porter Hospital employees and medical staff contribute more than $30,000 toward Hurricane Katrina relief. Hospital adopts a new charity and discount policy aimed at cutting bad debt. Hospital watch dog Julie Wheeland wants data on hospital physician groups in Chesterton and Portage.

October

The National Forensic League ranks Chesterton High School Speech and Debate Team sixth in the nation out of 2,700 schools. Duneland School officials host open house for the new Alternative School. Due to ridership levels, NICTD learns of the need for 10 new cars at a $30 million pricetag.

Lorraine Kirkley’s body is found in Jasper County. CHS Homecoming Queen is Sagan Newham and King is Alex Sanchez. Mittal announces that its headquarters will be in the Chicago Loop. Duneland Schools’ official enrollment for funding purposes shows a gain of 113.5 students. Despite threat of litigation, County Commissioners stand firm in their resolve not to issue a driveway permit for the County Line Road waste transfer station.

Chesterton Park Board finalizes bond of up to $2 million for park improvements, followed by town council approval later in the month. Commissioners pass the county government’s first ethics policy banning the hiring of close relatives.

State announces plan to remove the Portage Toll Road barrier and implement an E-Z pass system. State faults the 2004 audit of Porter hospital but says no further action is needed. Porter County Park Board discusses how the park system has been hurt by the Duneland School ban on field trips.

Few attend the open house on the South Shore commuter line extension. Dale Pflughaupt is named Kiwanian of the Year. Porter-Starke Services fares well in its annual audit. Commissioners and County Council agree to digitize records. Liz Culp is named the interim Expo Center manager. Chesterton Town Council member Sharon Darnell asks for citizen input on city status. Porter park officials debate fees for non-profit users of Hawthorne Community Building.

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority hosts a 4 1/2 hour retreat in Chesterton. Porter Redevelopment Commission tentatively endorses new route for Porter Brickyard Trail. Construction of the new Visitor Center begins.

Porter Town Council mulls elimination of park board. Chesterton Tax Abatement Advisory Committee endorses six-year abatement for Starin Marketing Inc. Miles Tucker is the new general manager of Sand Creek Country Club. NIPSCO projects that heating costs this winter will rise 43 percent under normal temperatures, 60 percent if it’s colder.

Porter County Drainage Board gets plenty of feedback about proposed new Swanson-Lamporte Ditch assessment and delays final approval until after the start of the new year. Burns Harbor may take legal action to force security at Pilot Travel Center. Westchester Public Library Board upholds 10-book per patron borrowing limit.

CHS Girls Cross Country team beats defending state champ Valparaiso at regionals. Dunn’s Bridge opening is celebrated. Porter-Starke expects to lose $160,000 due to state cuts. Chesterton Utilities projects a $77,758 deficit for 2006, prompting talk of another rate hike.

Trojan Guard wins ISSMA Gold rating and 12th place finish at regional competition. Porter Town Council gives park board until the end of the year to improve. Commissioner Carole Knoblock criticizes Valparaiso’s sludge application program in south county. Dune Acres to install temporary speed bumps on East Road.

Mystery boat washes ashore in Dune Acres. Porter Police Commission to ask the state to install a delay system for the light at Waverly and U.S. 20. County learns that the state is cutting $50,000 from its share of gas tax revenues. County Board of Zoning Appeals grants permanent use variance for a concrete contractor business on Ind. 149 in Liberty Township.

Chesterton residents are urged to lock their vehicles. Porter Plan Commission reviews revised townhome plan on North Mineral Springs Road and Beam Street. Chesterton officials continue to voice concerns over the GK development’s density.

Knoblock proposes incinerator for region’s trash. Lady Trojans are the runners-up at semistate; Adam Martin wins semistate and the boys team finishes second. Chesterton Council grants Starin tax abatement. Downtown Chesterton merchants urge action against skateboarders.

NetNitco meets with Porter to discuss wireless broadband service. RDA picks Tim Sanders of Porter as its executive director and Dave Hollenbeck of Valparaiso as its attorney. LaPorte County to explore joining the RDA.

Waverly Road pedestrian way will likely be delayed until 2007. Chesterton Town Council directs attorney Chuck Lukmann to review the process to become a city. White Sox wins the World Series. Chesterton BZA grants approval for 10-cage indoor batting facility on Grant Street.

Mittal announces cut in health insurance to 2,700 Medicare-eligible Ispat Inland salaried retirees. Operator of Reflections Studio in Chesterton is charged with voyeurism. Westchester Township History Museum opens in the Brown Mansion.

November

GK Development Inc. says Kohl’s and Target are possible tenants at its proposed mall. County Commissioner Robert Harper proposes a scenic roadway plan. Groundbreaking ceremony is held for new Visitor Center. County Commissioner John Evans urges Chesterton not to pursue city status before it explores a merger. Porter Park board takes several actions to bring it in line with what the town council wants.

Burns Harbor Park Board plans for a 1.14-acre park in Harbor Trails subdivision. County Park Board agrees to purchase a 90-acre tract in Westchester Township and the property formerly owned by Mabel Trager in Liberty Township. Porter seeks court order to inspect Chesterton sewer plant. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky secures $20 million in federal funds for his Marquette Plan. State plans to ask the feds to remove “non-attainment” status for ozone in Lake and Porter counties in order to loosen pollution rules on industry.

Nicole and Wesley Koszusek Jr. file federal suit against Porter County Clerk Dale Brewer and Chesterton Police Chief George Nelson over their spoiled ballots in the 2003 general election. CHS Buildings Trades class works on building a new house in Chesterton as part of their vocational training. Duneland reinstates field trips. All Duneland School employees are awarded 2 percent pay raise.

Duneland School report shows that 42 students were expelled and 35 placed on probation in the 2004-05 school year. CHS wins state counseling award. Indian Oak Resort is now under new management. County Plan Commission votes 5-3 against the 99-lot The Preserve at 1050N and 50W. Indiana American Water says it is interested in buying Burns Harbor water system. CHS honors student athletes, including the following Most Valuable Players: Adam Hutnick, Adam Martin, Gerard Pannekoek, Marc Nelson, Aaron Dittman, Danielle Luther, Kristin Kalita, Sarah Kehe, and Jessica Sharp.

Burns Harbor threatens court action to force security at Pilot Travel Center. Indiana Department of Environmental Management approves waste transfer station. Westchester Public Library plans to expand Internet-based resources. The Save the Dunes Council elects Susan MiHalo as its new president, the first woman to hold the position in more than 17 years. Due to budget cuts, Porter-Starke announces elimination of its last residential program for children. Dickinson Road lift station loses power, causing sewage backup in homes at Villages of Sand Creek.

Chesterton invites Porter and Burns Harbor to discuss a merger. Chesterton enacts ordinance regulating sexually oriented businesses. Ryan Steinbeck of Porter publishes book of poetry. Portage Park Foundation buys land along Salt Creek. County hospital reshuffles administrators. Officials speak out against open burning in Dune Acres, including prescribed burns. Someone steals the temporary speed bump in Dune Acres. Porter Town Plan Commission votes 4-3 in favor of commercial rezoning sought by the Duneland Youth Baseball Association.

County Commissioners announce appeal of waste transfer station permit. County Hospital Board approves a 9.75 percent rate increase for 2006. WPL Assistant Director Jane Walsh Brown celebrates 30 years with the library. Rose Hill Estates residents take their dispute with the developer to the Chesterton Plan Commission. Chesterton planners reject GK traffic plan. Community volunteer Frances Meyer of Burns Harbor dies at the age of 73.

Citizen task force issues a critical report on Porter Hospital, ripping it for secrecy but calling on it to be sold or merged to sustain itself financially. Blockbuster Video in Chesterton is robbed. Hilmer Boo receives a CHS diploma 65 years after he normally would have graduated if he wasn’t needed on the family farm after his brother was drafted in World War II. Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District asks the RDA to attend the next NICTD meeting in January. State Senator Rose Ann Antich Carr is elected Merrillville Clerk Treasurer.

County hospital begins NICU ambulance service. Town of Porter picks Regional Industries for its garbage collection over Able Disposal. Commissioners amend their income tax plan to provide funds for Ivy Tech and a Geographic Information System. Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals grants N. Wood County Laboratory Inc. the variance needed to open a radiation detector manufacturer in the downtown. Town of Porter agrees to refile its seeking a court order to allow access to the Chesterton treatment plant and in so doing, tables the request to discuss a merger.

Harper and Evans hint that a new hospital may be needed. Duneland School bus drivers wear purple in support of pancreatic research on behalf of fellow driver, Ellen Clendenen, who is fighting the disease. Rita Skeffington Memorial Garden is planted in Thomas Park. Porter County Economic Development Alliance outlines its CEDIT spending plan, which includes $65,000 to study technology infrastructure. Porter County Commissioners enact new stormwater rules.

The towns of Beverly Shores and The Pines join forces to appeal the waste transfer station. Spencer Wright, Allison Granat and Justin Kleine are the top three winners in Hageman Library writing contest. Chesterton Town Council rips Able Disposal but awards it a three-year garbage and recycling contract. County Council President Robert Poparad announces he’ll run for re-election in 2006.

Indiana Public Access Counselor Karen Davis refuses to get involved in Open Door complaint filed by Chesterton against Porter. Porter County Council denies $10,000 increase for county’s child support director and agrees to dole out $140,000 for employee longevity pay. Snowy conditions are blamed for eight crashes in a two-hour period in Chesterton; one person dies in a six-vehicle crash on I-94 in Pine Township. St. Patrick School hosts ribbon cutting ceremony for first phase of a construction project that will include new classrooms.

December

Consultants tell Porter County Park Board that the Murray Home and the dairy barn at Sunset Hill Farm need extensive improvements if they are to remain at the park. Porter Superior Court Judge David Chidester rules in favor of the Porter Board of Zoning Appeals‚ decision not to grant David and Cheryl Lagastee a required variance for a pole barn already constructed. County Sheriff Dave Reynolds to get $20,150 raise in 2006 due to a change in state law.

Fire heavily damages the Farese family home at 301 Jones Court. County Sheriff’s bloodhound Samantha is credited for identifying batterer at Purdue University. Pilot Travel promises Burns Harbor improved security at its truck stop. Porter County’s township trustees form new association.

Three-truck collision closes Ind. 49 between Porter Avenue and 1100N for more than an hour. Commissioners hire John Thorstand of Liberty Township as the new Expo Center manager. Chesterton Park Board says extreme sports enthusiasts are no longer in contact with the town.

Five taxing units file appeals with the state over faulty tax rates set by the County Auditor’s office. Porter officials brainstorm ways to attract developers to town. NiSource CEO Robert Skaggs proposes cut in executive pay.

Chesterton agrees to participate in the County Seat art project. Porter Town Council approves salary ordinance giving department heads leeway in setting pay levels. Chesterton officials discuss new business incubator.

Karen Tallian wins Democrat Party caucus as the new 4th district state senator to fill the remaining term of Rose Antich Carr; Chesterton attorney Larry Chubb is disqualified as a candidate due to failure to file financial form.

NIPSCO says natural gas costs will go down 7.8 percent this month.

Chesterton Town Council approves a claim resolution for the June 22 completion of the sewer plant expansion, two years after the project was originally set for completion and at a 14 percent cost overrun. Chesterton hikes monthly garbage fee from $9 to $10.50. Duneland School Board nixes Hawaii trip for Show Choir students. The new Chesterton High School Freshman Academy is producing favorable results.

Duneland and St. Pat’s ISTEP scores are well above the state average. Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commission is presented with the Dune Creek Watershed Management Plan for the new visitor’s center.

Porter Redevelopment Commission applies for a $200,000 federal grant toward the an 8-foot wide Waverly pedestrian bridge over the Little Calumet River. Porter Town Council agrees to keep the Police Commission at five members and announces the resignations of Bud Tilden and Nancy Whisler from the park board.

Crash at Brummitt Road and U.S. 20 injures two people. Burns Harbor officials rule out participating in merger talks. State Court of Appeals overturns two of four murder convictions of shotgun killer Christopher Peterson, faulting County Prosecutor James Douglas.

Chesterton Planners say there’s not enough time left in the year to review GK’s traffic and stormwater plans. Rose Hill residents return to Plan Commission with woes over the lot they were told would remain open space. Michigan man confesses to Nov. 20 robbery of Blockbuster Video.

Chesterton Utilities Board endorses tougher pre-treatment rules for businesses. Chesterton Utilities says Porter has yet to comply with its six-month-old request for documents related to sewer separation projects. The developers of The Preserve sue the County Plan Commission, but talks toward a resolution are underway.

County Commissioners hear how the County Auditor’s office erred in certifying assessed valuations for taxing units. Commissioners name Dr. John Forchetti of Chesterton to the County Health Board. The U.S. Army Reserve 113th Engineers Battalion arrives in Porter County after a one-year tour of duty in Iraq.

Chief Deputy Prosecutor Brian Gensel announces run for county prosecutor; Douglas will not seek re-election.

Dune Acres Town Council gives first reading approval to ordinance banning all burning in town, including prescribed burns. Andrew Snyder resigns as vice-president of county hospital Porter. Hospital CEO Ron Winger announces the hiring of Cheryl Harmon as the new Chief Financial Officer.

Hospital Board grants 3 percent raises for associates, with nurses and pharmacists to receive more. Porter Plan Commission hears plans for 10 townhouse development totaling 20 units on 3.8 acres at Beam Street and North Mineral Springs Road.

Westchester Public Library grants assorted raises for staff, including 6 percent increases for the director and assistant director; WPL’s finances are called the best ever, with $3.48 million on hand. Chesterton BZA votes 4-1 to grant variance for dwelling on two adjacent small lots on West Porter Avenue.

Former Pine Township Trustee/Assessor Bill Theis is found not guilty of a conflict of interest related to checks the township wrote to his company. Porter Town officials say the town is in the best financial shape it’s ever been in and directs town attorney to present information to create a Rainy Day Fund to avoid future borrowing.

Porter Police seeks the public’s help finding the man who robbed Porter Quick Stop on Christmas Eve. Burns Harbor BZA urges true zoning change for proposed 36-lot residential development adjacent to Magnetics International on land now zoned industrial.

Al Wagner co-owner of Crazy Al’s in Chesterton receives a heart transplant at Rush University Hospital in Chicago. Duneland YMCA’s “Extreme Makeover Fitness Room” is renovated thanks to a substantial donation from First National Bank.

 

Posted 12/30/2005

 

 

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