Chesterton Tribune

2006 Year in Review: big plans, big changes

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By VICKI URBANIK

and KEVIN NEVERS

The year 2006 was far from business as usual.

Some of the most sweeping policy changes and large scale projects in recent memory came to light in 2006.

The nation’s largest privatized road project was put into action when the Indiana Legislature, on its final session day in March, gave Gov. Mitch Daniels the approval he sought to lease the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years to a foreign consortium, in exchange for a heaping pot of cash for new roads.

By year’s end, talk was underway about the possible need for a new Duneland elementary school, a new privately managed toll road in rural Porter County, a new Wal-Mart on Ind. 49, and the end of more than 65 years of public ownership in the county’s hospital system.

A few projects that could have had a profound impact on the community, namely the GK mall development planned east of Ind. 49 in Chesterton and the beachfront hotel in the Indiana Dunes State Park, prompted public outcry. Both projects fizzled, at least for now.

The elections of 2006 demonstrated that Porter County is no longer a Republican stronghold. Perhaps no one can recall Democrats ever holding the county offices of assessor, auditor and coroner. But that’s just what voters decided in November, when by and large they thumbed their noses at the GOP, giving Democrats control of all elected county offices except for prosecutor, recorder, and treasurer.

The year 2006 was a rough one for those who live and breathe taxes and government budgets. It seemed like one error after another linked to the county auditor’s office—a $400 million erroneous value given to a modest Valparaiso home, a $3 million property tax overpayment, and significant tax increment financing shortfalls for Chesterton and possibly other municipalities—kept local officials frustrated with the county and searching for answers.

Privatization was a recurring theme of the year, as evidenced by the Indiana Toll Road lease, the proposed new Illiana expressway in South Porter County, the Dunes State Park hotel, and, on a county level, the pending sale of Porter Memorial Hospital to a Texas-based Fortune 500 company.

The year saw continuation and completion for some projects that began in previous years. Consider:

•The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and the Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Commission realized their long-awaited goal of opening a joint visitor center.

•Development at the Coffee Creek Center, which for years has languished: PBR Development of Chicago continued to seek permitting for a mall between Gateway and Voyage boulevards, while the new Ambulatory Surgery Center was built near the Lakeshore Bone and Joint Institute. Meanwhile, the Lake Erie Land Company finalized a joint development partnership with Chesterton Development Partners LLC, whose principal is James Gierczyk of Gierczyk Inc. Midwest, a long-time developer based in Homewood, Ill. The first fruit of that partnership: the successful permitting of the 94-unit Village Green Townhomes on 15 acres at the southeast corner of C.R. 1050N and Kelle Drive. Lastly, the Northwest Indiana Regional Council of Carpenters Pension Trust put its 55 acres in Coffee Creek Center up for sale.

•The Porter County Park Board actually began buying park land in 2006, securing the 65-acre West Farm in Pine Township and laying the groundwork for several other major acquisitions.

•The Chesterton Utility and the Town of Porter at long last completed their often sewer treatment negotiations and ratified a new agreement under which Porter may purchase as many as 380,000 gallons per day over the next five years at a total cost of $1,786,000. Among other things, Porter agreed never to use eminent domain in an attempt to acquire the wastewater treatment plant.

•The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission, which administers the town’s tax increment financing district, endorsed the first large-scale project in its history: the improvement of the South Calumet Triangle, including the permanent closure of the intersection of South Calumet Road and C.R. 1100N. Property owners in the Triangle protested the proposed closure and the Town Council has yet to greenlight the project. Although the commission began the year discussing the acquisition of right-of-way for the long-discussed extension of Dickinson Road, legal and financial issues pushed that project to the back burner.

•At the end of the year four annexation petitions were pending before the Chesterton Town Council. If all were granted, the town would grow by around 270 acres. One of the petitions, for around 40 acres in Liberty Township, is particularly notable, as annexation of that property would for the first time push Chesterton’s corporate boundaries south of the Indiana Toll Road.

•The residential building boom in Burns Harbor, which could end up more than doubling the town’s population, showed no sides of stopping: The town approved two new subdivisions and rezoned more than 100 acres of industrial land to residential. Total homes in Burns Harbor reached 342, up from 218 in 2002. When the subdivisions now in planning and building phases are complete the total could reach 798.

Amid all of the plans for change, however, there were signs that many residents like things the way they are.

Chesterton residents overwhelmingly voted to keep the town a town in a November referendum. County Commissioner President Robert Harper wasn’t shy about campaigning on a theme of keeping Porter County “green,” and he easily won reelection. Citizens opposed to plans for a new privatized state park hotel and the GK mall in Chesterton were at least temporarily successful in stopping those projects.

January

Demolition of Wingfield’s Restaurant on Indian Boundary Road begins. Chesterton’s welcome sign at Ind. 49 and C.R. 1050N is vandalized. Sandi Snyder is elected president of Porter Town Council. Chesterton Redevelopment Com-mission urges town to make Dickinson Road extension a priority. NIPSCO’s mid-year review of budget plans results in monthly hikes of at least $50 for about one third of its customers. Chesterton Park Board is urged by two parents to go forward with skate/bike park.

The Porter County Council splits 5-2 to name Dan Whitten, D-at large, its 2006 president. County Council okays $100,000 in income tax funds for Ivy Tech equipment purchases and $250,000 for the Geographic Information System. Pat’s Liquors in Porter is robbed at gunpoint. Chesterton Utility lab wins statewide award. McDonalds says it will build new Chicago-style restaurant in Chesterton. Indian Oak Mall is sold to Jeffrey Katz, developer of the former Galleria Retail Center.

State Senator Karen Tallian begins first day in Legislature by pushing for a bill seeking to prevent the privatization of the Indiana Toll Road. The cost for a first-class stamp rises by 2 cents. Chesterton is asked to annex 39 acres at C.R. 1050N and Ind. 49 in Liberty Township. Chesterton Town Council makes fund transfers due to county delays in releasing tax funds. Burns Harbor rejects call from Chesterton to study a merger. Porter Town Council member Bill Sexton questions the county over $27.9 million drop in the town’s assessed value.

County Commissioners retain same officers as in 2005 and more than doubles the size of the Animal Welfare Board. Duneland School Superintendent Dirk Baer speaks out against Gov. Mitch Daniels’ “Rule of 65,” which diminishes the role of counselors and administrators. School board hears positive report on the alternative school. Porter Town Council discusses ways to improve recycling collection. The Waters of Duneland nursing home gets new owner. Porter County Drainage Board approves assessment in Swanson-Lamporte watershed.

Chad Lawson is honored for 14 years of service to the Burns Harbor Fire Department after retiring due to Parkinson’s disease. Officials celebrate the “uncovering” of Dunes Creek after Indiana Dunes State Park parking lot is removed. Indiana Department of Natural Resources Director Kyle Hupfer announces plan to allow a private developer to build a hotel in the Dunes State Park. Spring Valley Homeless Shelter reports 24 percent increase in requests for housing. Porter County’s townships form new association, which takes a stand against state efforts to eliminate assessors.

Porter Police Commission once again calls for a tri-town disaster-preparedness plan. Three Chesterton males are arrested in the vandalism of St. Patrick Cemetery and a theft spree near Bailly Elementary School. Deb Butterfield leaves Valparaiso Chamber to assume public relations post for Porter Memorial Hospital. A Spanish-Australian consortium bids $3.8 billion to lease the Indiana Toll Road for 75 years. Chesterton Town Council discusses how the Indiana-American Water Company has been billing customers based on estimated usage. Town Council seeks engineering proposals to revamp South Calumet “triangle.” Duneland Youth Baseball Association withdraws petition for rezoning 10 acres at 800 Canonie Drive in Porter to business.

State Rep. Ralph Ayres, R-Chesterton, votes in favor of Toll Road lease bill. Porter Memorial Hospital board announces that it is seeking a partner to build new hospital and secures an option to buy 61 acres at C.R. 400N and the 49 Bypass. Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper refuses to let a Chesterton High School wrestler who violated Duneland’s anti-alcohol policy off the hook. Hospital Board splits 5-3 to grant President Ron Winger a $43,900 raise.

Northwestern Indiana Regional Plan Commission urges the Legislature not to proceed with the Toll Road lease but to study the plan further; only Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas votes no. Ellen Firme is named the 2006 recipient of the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s Athena Award, while Sharon Robbins is honored with the chamber’s Senior Award. Mittal Steel company launches an unsolicited tender offer to acquire Arcelor SA, the second largest steelmaker in the world.

South Shore passenger service announces experiment for wireless Internet service for passengers. Chesterton High School boys swim team wins 10th straight Duneland Athletic Conference title. NiSource Inc.’s fourth quarter earnings for 2005 drop sharply. CHS debaters qualify five for national tournament. Chesterton Town Council releases a statement calling for a one-year study of the Toll Road lease. U.S. Steel reports profit decline for 2005.

February

Indiana House Republicans push through Toll Road lease bill with no Democrat support. Jackson Elementary School is named a Four-Star School. Westchester Township teen is found dead of suspected heroin overdose. Hotel developer Jeff Good files as Republican candidate for county commissioner. Tribune analysis shows that new I-69 and Marion County would get largest share of Toll Road lease revenue.

CHS debate team takes ninth state championship in a row. Portage man dies in suspected heroin overdose. Michigan City man is charged with drunk driving after his pick-up truck plows into Molly’s Dolls on South Calumet Road.

County Auditor Sandy Vuko orders 18 governmental units to return $3 million in tax funds erroneously received in 2005 due to tax appeals and to an erroneous $400 million assessment error on a Valparaiso home. Commissioner John Evans proposes list of projects he wants to see added to governor’s Major Moves plan. Test results show that some heroin sold in Porter County was cut with powerful pain killer Fentanyl.

Burns Harbor planners endorse rezoning more than 100 acres of industrial land on Babcock Road to residential. Commissioners hire consultant to study hospital’s bonding capacity. Expo Center Manager John Thorstad presents plan for facility upgrades expected to cost $603,000. Porter residents Michael and Terry Medley launch petition drive for better dog control regulations after their dog was mauled by two unleashed Mastiff dogs; the owner of Mastiffs is given 30 days to get them out of town.

Chesterton Police Commission promotes Joe Christian to sergeant and Chris Swickard to corporal. Burns Harbor Town Hall is undergoing repairs in part to comply with Americans with Disabilities Act. Porter County Drug Task Force finds cotton saturated with heroin in Valparaiso High School student’s vehicle. Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center reopens on the weekends after being closed for more than a year due to indoor air pollution. Jackson Township’s Audrey Witzman, an authority on early childhood development, dies at 68.

Westchester Public Library plans to add four online databases. Burns Harbor man is charged with moving the body of a suspected overdose victim from the scene of death. Chesterton Town Council authorizes the preparation of a referendum question asking residents if they want city status. Chesterton Town Council urges local lawmakers, in particular Ralph Ayres, to vote against Toll Road lease bill. Tourism, park and planning officials seek $125,000 in county funds for planning for Marquette Plan extension, an ecology trail, and a hike-bike connection. Chesterton Town Council approves pre-annexation agreement for 60 acres at 1100N across from Dogwood Park.

William Sexton files against incumbent Shirley LaFever in the Republican primary for county assessor. Porter Hospital CEO Ron Winger donates his raise to nursing scholarship. Commissioner Robert Harper forms new group with Porter County Economic Development Alliance to plan land use along major roads. South Haven man is in stable condition after heroin overdose. Chesterton’s Leigh Ann Gray, 24, dies in crash on I-69 near Anderson. Chesterton Clerk-Treasurer Gayle Polakowski can’t get answers from the county on tax matters.

Paul Childress outlines plan for townhome development on gravel parking lot at Splash Down Dunes. County Health Departments puts 28 food establishments on notice that they must get their annual permits. Chicago-based PBR Development reveals plans for 350,000 square foot retail mall at Coffee Creek Center between Gateway and Voyage boulevards. Chesterton planners agree to amend the zoning ordinance to better regulate big box development. Ports of Indiana had record year in 2005, handling $1.5 billion of cargo at the three ports, including Burns Harbor’s. Trojan boys swim team wins eighth consecutive sectional championship.

Citizens express opposition to Toll Road lease at State Sen. Karen Tallian’s first legislative forum. Home on Fifth Street is heavily damaged by fire. Chesterton Town Council enacts MS4 ordinance. Good quits commissioners’ race. CHS debaters Rachel Wyatt and Kate Weber qualify for national tournament. Dune Acres bans controlled burns in the town’s residential areas. Porter County Emergency Management Agency official says Duneland doesn’t need its own response plan. Golfview Estates lift station is clogged by non-biodegradable cleaning towels. Ralph Ayres’ bill clearing the way for a methadone clinic in Porter County is on its way to becoming law.

More than 300 attend long-awaited public hearing on PUD petition for GK mall. McDonalds wins Chesterton BZA approval for 15 variances for $1 million prototype store on Indian Boundary Road. CHS seniors Katherine Stahura and Emilia Blaser are named presidential scholars candidates. Porter Town Council now expects even larger budget shortfall. Chesterton Town Council approves fire protection pact with Westchester Township.

March

Chesterton Redevelopment Commission rededicates itself to Dickinson Road extension. Porter Town Council picks Wood and 23rd streets for routes for Brickyard Trail. Porter Town Council sets financial crisis meeting to hear from county officials on tax problems. Northwest Indiana Forum gives conditional support for Major Moves and Toll Road lease but faults the funding distribution. A dozen people demonstrate outside of Chesterton Town Hall against big-box developments.

NIRPC remains opposed to Toll Road lease bill without further study. Porter County Park board acquires three acre parcel on south side of Sunset Hill Farm. Steelworkers Local 6787 strike Ryerson Inc. in Burns Harbor for seven days. Porter County /Economic Development Alliance identifies 2006 priority projects that focus on marketing, planning, and strengthening the workforce. Chesterton Middle School adopts new schedule that divides the school year into 12-week grading periods and eliminates first-hour home rooms.

Duneland Schools to file levy appeal of at least $52,000 due to county’s tax calculation “mess.” School Board approves summer gifted and talented program for elementary students. Always Open on U.S. 6 in Liberty Township is robbed at gunpoint. CHS Japanese academic team wins a state championship. State cuts capital projects fund rate for Westchester Public Library.

Duneland Historical Society hears presentation on history of Brown Mansion. Jerry Mobley announces that he will resign from Lake Erie Land Company at the end of the month. Fur flies at county wildlife board meeting over the election of the board president and other issues. Nicholas Duncan will be tried in adult court on charges related to the vandalism at St. Patrick Catholic Cemetery. Commissioners endorse plan by a non-profit group to renovate the historic Collier Lodge on the banks of the Kankakee River. Duneland First holds inaugural meeting. Porter Town County holds workshop to addressed projected $299,892 budget shortfall.

Chesterton Redevelopment Commission recommends seeking an appraisal of land needed for Dickinson Road extension. Porter County Council member Jim Burge, R-at large, calls for the ouster of County Auditor Sandy Vuko. Porter to file excess levy appeal due to budget shortfall of $299,892. Porter Town Council approves 18-unit villa on Mineral Springs Road and Beam Street, despite concerns raised over three 100 year-old oak trees. Porter Town Council sticks with ban on storage sheds at beach.

Republican-dominated Indiana Legislature approves a bill clearing the way for 75-year lease of Indiana Toll Road. Porter County Convention, Recreation and Visitor Com-mission objects to the proposed beach front site for a new hotel at the Indiana Dunes State Park. Vuko says she won’t resign and cave into the “witchhunt.”

Mittal Steel presents Arcelor takeover plan to Luxembourg government. County Board of Zoning Appeals grants approval for day care center on C.R. 900N and 50W.

Chesterton’s urgent care center closed three times due to staffing glitches. Jake McCusker, a Liberty Elementary fourth grader, wins Indiana Poison Center’s statewide poster contest. Chesterton planner and town council member Mike Bannon raises concerns about the latest design for PBR’s mall at Coffee Creek Center. Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission approves Rose Hill’s townhouse development on wooded section that residents thought would remain a nature preserve. National Park Service bans alcohol at Dunewood Campground. County Council approves funding for an additional jailer while denying request to grant raises for public health nurses. Chesterton Speech Team qualifies four more students for the national tournament.

With two abstentions and one absence, Porter County Council deadlocks 2-2 on a resolution expressing confidence in the county auditor. Save the Dunes Council hosts forum on the state’s plan to lease state park land for a beachfront hotel. County Council approves $1.25 million internal loan for Department of Child Services related to housing children removed from their homes due to neglect or other reasons. Alert neighbors rescue dog from fire at 212 Michigan Ave. County Commissioners approve ordinance requiring a review of commercial projects.

County Sheriff and Valparaiso Police Chief reassign their officers from the county’s drug task force to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Owner of GK mall property warns that manufacturing facility might be located on the site if the mall plans fall through. Chesterton officials raise concerns about lack of space at the town hall. Town Council votes 3-2 to table a vote on the GK mall to give developers time to change the plans. Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce forms welcome committee for new residents.

Chesterton Redevelopment Commission hires DLZ to study options for South Calumet triangle. Chesterton Speech Team places second in state tournament. Town of Porter wins $100,000 grant for pedestrian bridge over the Little Calumet River. State Budget Committee releases $20 million for the second phase of the Ivy Tech campus in Valparaiso. Porter County Community Services Board fires outspoken director, Philip Farese Jr. of Chesterton. Hospital Board approves plan to grant bonus pay to nurses who work critical hours. Chesterton Middle School 7th graders had the fifth highest scores in science of the county’s 11 middle schools on ISTEP tests.

April

Chesterton’s Urgent Care Center closes twice again over the first weekend in April. Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District announces public hearings on fare hikes, the first increase since 2003. Work begins on new outpatient surgery center at Coffee Creek Center. County Commissioners dissolve wild life board. Duneland Extreme Sports Park group revitalizes. Commissioners resurrect Ind. 149 extension project by asking regional planners for $20 million. County Health Board tightens up rules on experimental septic systems. County Park Board seeks bids for demolition of Murray House and dairy barn at Sunset Hill Farm.

Chesterton Town Council votes 3-2 to deny the planned unit development for the GK mall. State Park controlled burn near the site of the proposed new hotel gets out of control. CHS Winter Guard finishes 11th in international championships. Porter Town Council gets plea to keep July 4 midnight parade. Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority gets request to purchase 12 double-decker South Shore train cars. Burns Harbor Plan Commission approves initial plans for truck terminal and driver training school on Tech Drive.

Protesters outnumber the hotel developers at a DNR meeting on the state park hotel. Chuck Parkinson is named president of the Parents and Teachers Board. Duneland School Board approves new attendance policy for grades K through 6 that makes it more restrictive to take vacation time during the school year. Town of Porter drops sewer lawsuit against Chesterton. Plans are outlined for Chesterton to annex 45 acres south of the Indiana Toll Road and east of Ind. 49, much of which for commercial development.

Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club hosts visitors from Brazil. County Commissioners agree to have the county participate in the second phase of the Marquette Plan through north Porter County. Porter Town Plan Commission members vote 5-0 against an alley vacation on Porter Beach; planners also give conditional approval to Paul Childress’ townhouse project. Chesterton Storm-water Board hears that new stormwater fee isn’t generating enough money. Former hospital executive Sanjay Shah wins $425,000 as part of a settlement in his lawsuit against the hospital. Jim Menn retires after 34 years of service to Porter Police department.

Duneland’s 6th, 7th and 8th graders win grand champion in Lake-Porter Academic Conference Math Contest. Burns Harbor Town Council member Louis Bain heads back to Iraq after one tour of duty. Chesterton High School honors 31 seniors with academic rings. Rose Hill residents file suit against Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission. Annexation petitions before the town of Chesterton total 243 acres. Nearly 80,000 ballots in Porter County’s primary election must be reprinted due to an error in the instructions.

Seven Russian firefighters visit the Chesterton Fire Department. Porter Town Council members and residents complain to Regional Industries over trash pickup. Porter Redevelopment Commission gives approval for engineering and environmental studies for a looped tunnel under U.S. 20 for the hike-bike trail. Porter County Council discusses plan to tie up the principal on county’s share of $15.89 million in Toll Road lease funds.

Porter Town Council votes 3-0 not to sponsor midnight parade. County hospital sells 4.8 acres of land at its Chesterton Medical Campus for a new assisted living center. Visiting Nurse Association of Porter County celebrates 35th anniversary. Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals reach an agreement with Lamor Outdoor Advertising calling for bigger, but fewer, outdoor signs. Hospital begins courting potential providers interested in a merger or sale. Rebuilding Together Duneland hosts 10th annual clean-up day with more than 500 volunteers.

May

CHS senior Emilia Blaser advances as a semifinalist in the 2006 Presidential Scholars program. Duneland School officials study traffic flow improvements at Yost Elementary. School Board approves dual credit program for college credit. In a Republican primary upset, William Sexton ousts Shirley LaFever for assessor. Republican voters choose Paul Childress over Timothy Vojslavek for 4th District State Senate; incumbent Karen Tallian defeats Larry Chubb in the Democrat primary. Susan Resteau defeats Robert Taylor and Harol Lush in the GOP primary for sheriff, while Dave Lain emerges as the victor against Chip Yanta in the Democrat primary.

CHS seniors Emilia Blaser, Stephanie Leopold, Katherine Stahura, Kirsten Olsen, and Nathan Pavlovic are Merit Scholarship college scholarship winners. Portage Township Assessor John Scott changes his retirement plans and announces he’ll be the Democrat candidate for county assessor. Commissioners reauthorize county wildlife board just days before the official opening of the Paul C. Zona Sr. Wildlife Sanctuary in Jackson Township.

County Park Board is in the process of acquiring 240 acres near South Haven. Pandemic flu planning is underway in Porter County. Philip Roemer Dunne of Dune Acres, a wine and travel columnist, dies at 73. Chesterton Town Council vacates a portion of unbuilt Jefferson Avenue but denies a similar request on 24th Place. Trench collapses at Bass Pro Shop under construction in Portage. Porter Police Commission is cut to three members. Debate begins on county’s proposed new zoning ordinance. Contractor requests more time to finish new tourism visitor center. Porter Redevelopment Commission eyes Beam Street sewer upgrade.

Michelle Miloshoff is named the new executive director of the Duneland Education Foundation. Burns Harbor Town Council approves changes to its subdivision and zoning ordinance. Dan and Joy Johnston are honored for their volunteer work. Mittal Steel workers donate $1.875 million to the United Ways in Porter and Lake counties. Dorothy Margaret Crampton, a community volunteer who lived most of her life in Chesterton, dies in Ohio at 88. Crash on Ind. 49 at the eastbound ramp for I-94 ends in death for a Portage man; the driver who fled the scene, Aaron Lee Luchene, surrenders.

Porter County tax bills are late again, in part because of appeals filed by several units due to tax distribution shortfall. A partial settlement is reached in the Carpenters Pension Trust Fund lawsuit. CHS sophomore Holly Brady is second in national contest in banking and finance. Porter planners refuse to take sides in dispute over who owns Porter Beach lots. United Way of Porter County exceeds its goal and raises $2.1 million. Sandi Synder resigns as president of the Porter Town Council. Former Chesterton resident Martha Hall, who helped start the North Porter County Ambulance Service, dies at 103.

The retirements of eight Duneland teachers -- Barbara Funke, Richard Kadish, Linda Pauli, Chuck Craycraft, Judy Spiering, Mary Kay Kellstrom, Marilyn Schultz, and Mary Lou Fenske -- are announced. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky secures $1 million for land acquisition funds for the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, the first time since 2003 that such funds have been approved. Lorene Schaudt is new director of Augsburg Pre-Kindergarten. NICTD Board finalizes fare hike on South Shore. Michelle Hunt-Newham’s work is chosen as the cover and poster art for this year’s 55th Annual Woman’s Club Art Show.

Duneland Schools overall reach a benchmark under the No Child Left Behind Act, though Brummitt Elementary, Chesterton Middle and Chesterton High failed to meet the benchmark as individual schools. Kelly Gough is Women’s Bowler of the Year. Chesterton Town Council bans parking on north side of East Morgan Avenue. Porter County Sheriff’s Police arrests two Jackson Townships teens on charges involving the theft of assault rifles and coins. State finally certifies the county’s tax rates. New Spring Valley Center for the homeless is officially dedicated. Porter Town Council grants final approval for Paul Childress’ Dune Grass Hollow townhouse project.

County Auditor Sandy Vuko releases full CEDIT funding to towns and cities all at once, creating a problem with the county fully funding the new homestead credit and other CEDIT projects; cities and towns are asked to return one half of the funds. CHS girls track team wins second consecutive regional title. A 3-year-old boy who wandered from his Chesterton backyard was quickly returned thanks to the “A Child is Missing” program. CHS Senior Kris Adamik wins the 24th annual W.R. Canright Award. CHS seniors receive awards at annual Senior Honors Night.

County hospital ends 2005 nearly $1.4 million in the red, and a hospital auditor presents a grim picture of health care by calling the situation nationally a “toxic cocktail.” Owen Sutkowski, a CHS graduate, wins distinguished senior award from Indiana University. Homeowners paying a higher tax rate due the excess levy appeals prompted by the county’s tax distribution error won’t qualify for a tax break that they normally would. Cpl. Greg Fuller, a 1994 CHS graduate home on leave from Iraq, participates in local Memorial Day ceremonies. Porter firefighters douse wildfire on a beach west of Dune Acres in scorching heat.

CHS girls softball team wins sectional championship. Groundbreaking ceremony is held for the new Portage lakefront park, a project of the Marquette Plan. Ben Kay, Matt Christensen, Elizabeth Schnabel, Katie Downey, Emily Roman, and Signe Larson win top honors at CHS annual music awards. No developers submit bids to build a hotel in the Indiana Dunes State Park by the established deadline, prompting Department of Natural Resources Director Kyle Hupfer to order an analysis to study to see if the state could build and operate a hotel on its own. Adam Martin and Sarah Kehe are named CHS athletes of the year.

June

More than 80 people gather at the Indiana Dunes State Park beach parking lot at sunset to keep up their protest against a beachfront hotel. Work on the Ind. 49 resurfacing project comes to a halt when Local 142 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters strikes. Jason Teets wins Eagle Scout Award. Gerrie Govert and Kathleen Los-Rathbrun win the top Chesterton Woman’s Club art awards. Chesterton girls relay team wins state title. CHS girls softball team wins first regional title.

Duneland School Board approves plan for staggered student dismissal times at Yost Elementary in order to improve parking lot traffic flow. School Board also approves new wellness policy aimed at improving school lunch nutrition and physical education. Chesterton Middle School students Syed Shah, Hung Ly, Caitlin Zondor, Kathleen Maple, Alan Kiszka, Brittney Biddle, Josh Tully, Adam Nault, Chirs Robison, Justinn Jackson and Joseph Michalak are honored for two years of perfect attendance. The decorative fountain at Thomas Park is dedicated in memory of Leslie and Mary Pratt.

Proprety tax bills are in the mail, about two months later than normal. CHS graduates 365. An addition to Thomas Library is included in library budget plans. County officials host informational summit on pandemic influenza, encouraging the public to prepare for the worst but not to panic. Porter Hospital officials move forward with search for a partner by sending out letters to 38 other hospitals. Chesterton Town Council approves annexation of 12 acres on C.R. 1100N. Democrats announce that Victoria Deppe will be their candidate for Porter County Coroner against incumbent Roger Kleist.

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Renee Hanson is selected grand marshal of July 4 parade. John Trowbridge’s killer is recommitted for another six months in Nevada. Porter Clerk-Treasurer Carol Pomeroy casts the tie breaking vote, killing the July 4 midnight parade. Porter Town Council expands no-parking zones at Porter Beach. County planners adopt new set of findings upholding its rejection of The Preserves, a 99-lot subdivision amid wetlands at 1050N and 50W. Vickii Brock announces she will retire as director of Parents As Teachers.

Lake Eire Land Company finalizes a joint development partnership with James Gierczyk of Gierczyk Inc. Midwest. PBR Development of Chicago presents revised commercial development plan for Coffee Creek Center. Lifelong Chesterton resident Arthur Nickel, a former Chesterton Park Board member who worked for the Westchester Township Assessor until he was 84, dies at age 94. Miriam Christensen, director of Duneland Kindermusik, is selected as a member of the Kindermusik International Maestro Program for 2006.

Duneland Extreme Sports Club sponsors a Go Pro Exhibition at Chesterton Middle School. Paul Childress appeals an IDEM notice of violation at Splash Down Dunes. Porter Fire Department divers recover a suspected murder weapon from Trail Creek in Michigan City. Porter County Library system enacts restrictions on borrowing by the homeless, but soon reverses the new policy amid opposition. Chesterton Utility reports that tap-on fees are lagging projections by nearly 34 percent. St. Patrick School’s graduating eighth graders Milana Socha, Olivia Gordon and Jordan Hoover are honored with Presidents Education Award.

H. J. Umbaugh consultants conclude that the county hospital cannot build a new hospital without a financial partner. First Baptist Church celebrates 50 years. Chesterton / Duneland Chamber launches online survey for its members. Duneland School administrators win 2 percent raises. Jacob Havner achieves the rank of Eagle Scout. Chesterton officials learn that the cost to renovate the old United Tractor facility on 15th Street for town offices could reach $1.26 million. Democrat Sylvia Graham announces that she’ll take on Ralph Ayres for 4th District State Representative.

Tyler DeMar places fifth at national speech tournament. Water company and NIPSCO take steps to prevent service disruptions, such as those that happened last summer prompting boil advisories. Porter Redevelopment Commission approves the purchase of five parcels of land for the town’s hike/bike trail. The Indiana Toll Road lease takes effect. Chesterton Utilities mull 30 percent rate hike.

July

The Indiana curfew statute, reinstated by legislation authored by State Rep. Ralph Ayres, R-Chesterton, goes into effect. The Chesterton Lions Club hold the 67th annual Turtle Derby at Dogwood Park as part of the Independence Day celebration. Juan Ruiz, 15, of Chicago, drowns at Porter Beach.

The Burns Harbor Park Board approves a 2007 budget which increases recreational spending from $44,822 to $71,000. Leigh Westergren’s bench, created as part of the County Seats Project, goes on exhibit in Thomas Centennial Park. The Porter County Commissioners re-appoint attorney and former Valparaiso mayor Dave Butterfield to the Porter hospital Board of Trustees and appoints Porter County Attorney Gwen Rinkenberger to the seat formerly held by John Rhame.

The Duneland School Board calls the first full year of the Alternative School a success, after 37 participating seniors graduate who otherwise would not have. The Motor Carrier Division of the Indiana State Police gives the Duneland School Corporation bus fleet a perfect score of 100 percent in its annual inspection. Chesterton realtor and composer Michael Boo premiers work in a 12-day five-city tour of China by region concert band Windiana.

Liberty Township residents appear before the Chesterton Town Council to blast the proposed annexation of 45 acres located immediately south of the Indiana Toll Road and east of Ind. 49. Glitches in the Bureau of Motor Vehicles computer system upgrade cause long delays at local license branches. The Chesterton Park Board alerts the Tri-Town Festival Committee that, due to ongoing improvements at Dogwood Park, the 2007 Independence Day celebration may need to find a new location.

Members of Local 6787 of the United Steelworkers ratify a new collective bargaining agreement with Joseph T. Ryerson & Son Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Ryerson Inc. and operator of a steel processing facility in Burns Harbor. Superior Construction Company of Gary completes work in the southbound lanes of Ind. 49 and commences work on the northbound lanes. A new state statute permitting the discharge of fireworks on one’s own property prompts complaints to the Chesterton Police Department.

The inaugural Duneland Relay for Life, benefiting the American Cancer Society and held at Chesterton Middle School, raises $18,000. MS4 informational literature becomes available at the Westchester Public Library. Gary-Chicago International Airport Director Paul Karas resigns.

Indiana Dunes State Park celebrates its 80th birthday with special events. State Rep. Ralph Ayres, R-Chesterton, proposes legislation which would give municipalities the home-rule option of restricting or banning the use of fireworks. Ayres withdraws his bid to win a 14th term in the Indiana House; meanwhile, fellow Republican Paul Childress withdraws from the race against Democrat Karen Tallian for the 4th district seat in the Indiana Senate.

The Boys and Girls Clubs of Porter County announces the establishment of a unit at the Methodist Activity Center in an agreement with the Chesterton First United Methodist Church. The 156th annual Porter County Fair opens. Officials from the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitors Commission and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore get a preview of the new Dorothy Buell Visitor Center.

St. Patrick Catholic Church breaks ground on a new parish social hall. A storm causes widespread power outages and forces the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant to bypass sewage into the Little Calumet River. Amanda Scarborough, 26, of Westville, dies in a two-vehicle crash on U.S. 6 in Jackson Township.

INDOT begins a major widening project on U.S. Highway 6 between Scottsdale Road in Portage to a point east of Ind. 149. U.S. Steel Corporation reports a net income of $404 million or $3.22 per diluted share for the second quarter of 2006. Melissa Louise Puza, 29, of Lake Station, dies while in custody at Porter County Jail.

DLZ of South Bend, the town’s contracted traffic consultant, presents a preliminary drawing of improvements proposed for the South Calumet Triangle. Mittal Steel Company announces that shareholders representing 92 percent of Arcelor have accepted Mittal’s third offer for the company, in a deal valued at $31.9 billion. The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission seeks an answer to this question: why was the second tax increment financing draw of 2005 two thirds less than the first draw?

The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce names Meg McCarel its Humanitarian of the Year and the Chesterton Hometown Improvement Project its Volunteer of the Year, and presents the Business Renovation Award to the Duneland School Corporation and the New Construction Award to the Chesterton McDonald’s. The wet summer continues to force the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant to bypass sewage into the Little Calumet River. Kevin Sullivan, 50, of LaPorte, is crushed to death in an accident at Coke Battery No. 1 at the Burns Harbor facility of Mittal Steel USA.

Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper is presented with the 2006 Robert J. Kinsey Award for Outstanding Judicial Service and Support to the Children and Youth of Indiana. Forty-nine members of the CHS Class of 1956 celebrate their 50th reunion at Sand Creek Country Club. Veronica Bush, 11, of Michigan City, drowns at Mt. Baldy Beach at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District announces that the South Shore carried more passengers in June than in any single month in its history—378,466—on its way to an eleventh consecutive record-setting month.

August

The Northern Indiana Public Service Company announces that it is “unlikely” to meet its original 2006 net operating earnings guidance, due to customer attrition and reduced usage of natural gas, but opts not to issue a re-forecast. Mittal Steel Company and Arcelor record a pro forma net income of $1.644 billion or $1.20 per share for the second quarter of 2006. The Porter County Commissioners authorize the expenditure of $20,000 to restore the Paul C. Zona Sr. Wildlife Sanctuary after vandals cause extensive damage there in July.

The 49th annual Chesterton Art Fair is held at Hawthorne Park in Porter. The failure of a generator at Porter Portage Hospital Campus during an outage forces the evacuation of three patients.

The Community Action Drug Coalition commits $100,000 to help Pathway Family Center establish an adolescent drug treatment program in Porter County. Republican Sandy Boothe resigns her 3rd district seat on the Porter Town Council. The Porter County Council approves a 2-percent raise for full-time employees in 2007.

Burns Harbor Fire Chief Ray Poparad resigns. Sand Creek Country Club celebrates its 30th birthday with a community party. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Dale Engquist announces his resignation, effective at the end of January 2007, after nearly 24 years in the position.

The Porter County Council rejects Sheriff Dave Reynolds’ request for funds to hire two additional patrol officers. Cpl. Kenneth Tomasko of the Burns Harbor Police Department is terminated for the unauthorized use of a department weapon. The Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce holds it second annual Party in the Park at Thomas Centennial Park.

Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper persuades the Porter County Council to keep intact the current level of funding, $6.9 million, for the Family and Children Fund, which pays for foster home and other residential programs for troubled youth. A Republican caucus elects Lorri Wickberg to the 3rd district seat on the Porter Town Council resigned by Sandy Boothe. The Porter Town Council votes 3-1 to re-open talks with the Chesterton Utility over the purchase of additional sewage treatment capacity, as development projects in the Town of Porter languish for want of capacity.

The Duneland School Corporation shows a gain of 137 students on the first day of the 2006-07 school year, with the largest grown in kindergarten and sixth grade. Duneland is spared the worst of a violent Lake Michigan storm which turns timber into tinder in Beverly Shores, The Pines, Michigan City, and Westville. Porter hospital announces a joint venture in which the Chandana Surgery Center in Valparaiso will move to the hospital’s surgical outpatient unit on Roosevelt Road, with both units to be combined and managed by a new entity.

The new Greg Phillips Emergency Services Center, housing the Porter County Environmental Department and the Emergency Management Agency, is dedicated. Mittal Steel Company announces that it now controls 93.7 percent of Arcelor.

Robert B. Bishop is named Citizen of the Year at the Taste of Porter. An arsonist destroys the concession building at Liberty Elementary. No one files against Duneland School Board incumbents Michael Trout and John Marshall, and no one files for the seat held by Robert Rhoda, who did not file for re-election.

The Chesterton Town Council proclaims Lt. Peter A. Duda Week, in honor of Duda’s retirement after 30 years of service with the Chesterton Police Department. Democrat Paul Christofersen resigns his 3rd district seat on the Chesterton Town Council. A mosquito pool at the intersection of Ind. 49 and Indian Boundary Road tests positive for West Nile Virus.

The Porter County Council urges the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitors Commission to guard its turf against the meddling of Lake County Convention, Recreation, and Visitors Commission President and CEO Spero Batistatos. The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission votes 3-1 to endorse the permanent closure of the intersection of South Calumet Road and C.R. 1100N as part of a package of improvements proposed for the South Calumet Triangle. The death of a homeless transient in a field at U.S. Highway 6 and Willowcreek Road in Portage is ruled a homicide. CHS SAT scores are revealed to exceed state and national averages in all three testing categories.

September

The Marquette Plan of U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, becomes the subject of a new South Shore poster, the tenth executed by artist Fred Semmler, unveiled at People’s Bank Corporate Center in Munster. The Duneland Resale Shop donates $2,500 to the Community Action Drug Coalition. WDSO-FM 88.3 begins its 30th years of broadcasting from CHS.

No one is injured when two cars of a South Shore commuter train derail after colliding with a South Shore Freight train one mile east of the Beverly Shores station. Frank McAllister, 59, of Portage, files a tort claim against Burns Harbor Town Marshall Jerry Price, alleging that Price used excessive force against him in March when removing him from a vehicle after he became hypoglycemic and unresponsive. In a four-hour special meeting, the Porter BZA postpones a decision in the matter of Chicago Public Radio’s petition for a use variance to permit construction of a 499-foot FM radio transmission tower in the area of U.S. Highway 20 and Ind. 49.

The new $38 million Ivy Tech Community College, consisting of 85,000 square feet on 38 acres in the Eastport Industrial Center in Valparaiso and serving 2,000 students, is dedicated. The Chesterton Town Council holds the first of two informational and educational workshops on city-status. Chesterton Land Owners United for Excellence (CLUE), representing stakeholders in the South Calumet Triangle, appear before the Town Council to oppose the proposed permanent closure of the intersection of South Calumet Road and C.R. 1100N.

The homeless man found murdered in a field in Portage is identified as Bradley Bothwell, 47, whose family resides in Omaha, Neb. The CHS Trojan Guard takes third place at the Goshen High School Crimson Marching Band Invitational. An arsonist destroys a portable chemical toilet at Dogwood Park.

Geoff Schoeneck of Jackson Township, a CHS sophomore, earns the Eagle Scout rank. The Chesterton Utility Service Board votes 5-0 to approve a new intermunicipal agreement with the Town of Porter, under which Porter over the next five years could increase the amount of capacity reserved for it at the wastewater treatment plant by 380,000 gallons per day, at a total cost of $1,786,00 or $4.70 per gallon. Eric Foor of Chesterton, a CHS senior earns the Eagle Scout rank.

The Porter Town Council votes 3-2 to approve the new intermunicipal agreement with the Chesterton Utility. The Chesterton Town Council approves a new schedule of building permit fees. Sarah Christofersen and Alyssa Penning are National Merit Scholarship semi-finalists.

The Read on Down the Road Book Festival is held in Thomas Centennial Park. Munchkin Meinhardt Raabe returns to Chesterton for Munchkinland Market Days. Nicholas Duncan, 17, of Chesterton, is sentenced as an adult to four years in the Department of Correction for his role in January in the vandalism of St. Patrick Catholic Church Cemetery and a theft spree in the Bailly Elementary School neighborhood.

An Indiana Department of Environmental Management law judge rules against the opponents of a proposed waste transfer station on Porter/LaPorte County Line Road. The Indiana State Department of Health confirms four human cases of West Nile virus in Porter County. The Porter County Council opts to invest $14.3 million of its share of the Indiana Toll Road lease payment and bond for around $3 million in projects, with the bond payments to be made with interest earned on the investment.

The 30th annual Harvest Festival is held at Chellberg Farm and the Bailly Homestead at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Town of Porter makes a payment of $799,000 to the Chesterton Utility for 170,000 gallons of additional capacity at the wastewater treatment plant. The Porter BZA rejects Chicago Public Radio’s petition for a use variance to construct a 499-foot FM radio transmission tower in the area of U.S. Highway 20 and Ind. 49.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources lifts a ban on carrying handguns in state parks and other DNR properties. The annual Fall Harvest Festival and Antique Equipment Show is held at Sunset Hill Farm County Park. CHS holds it annual Homecoming Parade in Downtown Chesterton. Allyson Harvey is named CHS Homecoming Queen and Simon Jeffrey Homecoming King.

The Chesterton Town Council votes 5-0 to enact a 34-percent sanitary sewer rate hike, effective in the last billing of the year. The Chesterton Redevelopment Com-mission votes 5-0 to re-endorse the proposed permanent closure of the intersection of South Calumet Road and C.R. 1100N as part of a package of improvements in the South Calumet Triangle. Devin M. Defauw, 17, of Jackson Township, dies in a one vehicle accident on South Park Drive in Chesterton.

Jill Stricker is named the new director of Parents as Teachers to fill the vacancy created by the resignation over the summer of Vickii Brock. A squirrel in a transformer at NIPSCO’s Chesterton substation causes a late-morning power outage affecting 3,500 customers for around 65 minutes.

October

The United Way of Porter County donates $20,000 to the Duneland Unit of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Porter County. The Indiana State Department of Health reports a death from West Nile virus in Porter County. The CHS Trojan Guard advances to the Indiana State Music Association regional competition.

CHS Assistant Principal David Templin is named Assistant Principal of the Year in District I by the Indiana Association of School Principals. The Association of Conservation Engineers presents the Award of Excellence to the Indiana State Department of Natural Resources for its “daylighting” of Dunes Creek at Indiana Dunes State Park. The Duneland School Corporation reports the increase of expulsions and drug use in school year 2005-06.

The Chesterton associate members of the Tri Kappa sorority celebrate the 35th anniversary of their founding. A Democrat caucus votes 3-1 to elect Frank Sessa to his old 2nd district seat on the Chesterton Town Council, resigned in August by Paul Christofersen. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security awards a $77,425 grant to the Burns Harbor Volunteer Fire Department, for the purchase of 15 air packs and an air bottle fill station.

Mittal Steel USA idles two blast furnaces, one in East Chicago and the other in Cleveland, to bring production capabilities in line with a reduced demand for light flat-rolled product. Former Hebron Town Council president Michael Haughee, previously a candidate for a seat on the Porter County Commissioners and a seat in the Indiana State Senate, is charged with sexual battery, criminal confinement, and interference with the reporting of a crime.

Lakeshore Gymnastics celebrates its 20th anniversary. The CHS Trojan Guard takes third place at the Plymouth Harvest Festival of Bands. Chesterton resident Marguerite Beck celebrates her 100th birthday.

The Chesterton Town Council unanimously votes to enact a permanent Stormwater Utility rate, increasing residential customers‚ bimonthly bill by 22 percent and some non-residential customers‚ bills by much more, effective Jan. 1. Earl Eaton, 91, of Liberty Township, dies when his vehicle is struck by trucker Sampson Boadi of Columbus, Ohio, after Boadi runs a red light on Ind. 49 in Center Township. The Porter County Commissioners appeal the decision by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to issue a permit for a new waste transfer station on Porter/LaPorte County Line Road.

Chesterton resident Gladys Peterson celebrates her 100th birthday. Burns Harbor Street Commissioner Doug Wentz returns to work after a long recovery from a motorcycle accident. Dr. Marc Bruell of Chesterton is elected 2007 president of the Indiana Podiatric Medical Association.

Chesterton resident Matthew Johnson members of the Northwest Indiana Chapter of the Lupus Foundation of America, is named the foundation’s Volunteer of the Year. CHS senior Sarah Cohen receives the Achievement Award in Wring from the National Council of Teachers of English. Another squirrel gives its all at NIPSCO’s Chesterton substation, causing an outage which affects 5,000 customers for around 45 minutes.

Save the Dunes Conservation Fund receives the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence in Education and Outreach for its Indiana Coastal Restoration Action Team. The CHS Trojan Guard finishes sixth at the Indiana State School Music Association’s regional competition. Veteran test pilot Russell O’Quinn gives the keynote address at the fifth annual Community Prayer Breakfast at Sand Creek Country Club.

Chicago Public Radio files a lawsuit in Porter Superior Court seeking to overturn the Porter BZA’s rejection of its petition for a use variance to construct a 499-foot radio transmission tower in the area of U.S. Highway 20 and Ind. 49, on the grounds that the BZA failed to adopt findings of fact within five days of its decision. The Westchester Township Historical Museum celebrates its first anniversary in the Brown house. The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission unanimously approves the primary and second plat for a 32,000 square foot medical arts building at Coffee Creek Center.

Jason Tallent, 27, of Whiting, dies in a two vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 6 in Jackson Township. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources orders a quarantine banning the movement of most firewood and ash products in and out of Porter County, after an emerald ash borer is discovered in Westchester Township. The old Porter town hall cupola, refurbished as a garden house, is dedicated to the Friends of Porter and the citizens of Porter in memory of Ann F. Ruge.

Three employees of Mittal Steel USA are injured when a hot air pipe serving Blast Furnace D at the Burns Harbor facility ruptures. The Porter Town Council enacts a $1,500 sanitary sewer fee, in addition to the existing tap-on fee, to fund the $1,786,000 purchase of more capacity at the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant. Indiana Dunes State Park celebrates its 40th anniversary with a gala.

The Chesterton Parks and Recreation Department completes an extension of the boardwalk at Coffee Creek Park, partially funded with a $1,000 donation from the Eastman Kodak Company. U.S. Steel reports a net income of $417 million or $3.42 per diluted share for the third quarter of 2006. The Chesterton Town Council holds the second and final informational and educational workshop on city status, as the idea of hiring a town manager gains traction.

November

NiSource reports a net income of $25.8 million or 10 cents per basic share for third quarter of 2006. Sampson Boadi, 41, of Columbus, Ohio, is charged with reckless homicide, criminal reckless, and reckless driving after police said he disregarded a stop light on Ind. 49 in Center Township in October and slammed into the vehicle driven of Earl Eaton, 91, of Liberty Township, killing him. Nathan Pavlovic of Westchester Township, a 2006 CHS graduate and Grinnell College freshman, earns the Eagle Scout rank.

The Board of Directors of the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce unanimously adopts a resolution in opposition to city status and urges the Chesterton Town Council to hire a town manager. Westchester Intermediate School Principal Tim McGinty is named 2006 Middle School Principal of the Year for District I by the Indiana Association of School Principals. The Porter County Parks and Recreation Department announces that it purchased a 65-acre former prison farm in Pine Township for $214,500 at an auction in October. Arcelor Mittal reports a pro forma net income of $2.182 billion or $1.58 basic earnings per share for the third quarter of 2006.

Democrats ride a national wave to victory on Election Day in Porter County, while Chesterton voters reject city-status by a comfortable 73.22 percent. The winners: Dave Lain for Sheriff, Jim Kopp for Auditor, John Scott for Assessor, Bob Harper for County Commissioner, Bob Poparad for County Council, Victoria Deppe for Coroner, Duane Cheney for 10th district House seat, Karen Tallian for 4th district Senate seat, and Suzanne Philbrick for Westchester Township Trustee, all Democrats. Republican Ed Soliday did win in the race for the 4th district House seat vacated by Republican Ralph Ayres.

Burns Harbor Building Commissioner Randall Lopez cracks down on derelict property. Liberty Township residents appear in force before the Porter County Plan Commission to opposed a proposed 134-lot subdivision on C.R. 700N. No one is injured when 30 cars derail after and eastbound train and westbound train sideswipe each other on the Norfolk Southern right of way in the Burns Harbor facility of Mittal Steel USA.

Joanne M. Baublitz, 39, of Portage, drowns after crashing her vehicle through a guard rail and coming to rest in a creek 100 feet south of U.S. Highway 20 in the area of Dombey Road. Joe Wagner donates $3,500 to the Visiting Nurse Association, the proceeds from the fifth annual Joe’s Towing Charity Golf Outing. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, steps in line to become chair of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee of the powerful House Appropriations Committee.

Chesterton Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, volunteers to spearhead the effort to hire a town manager. The Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitors Commission awards 22 tourism grants totaling $40,861.75.

State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, steps in line to chair the House Committee on Public Health, while State Rep. Duane Cheney, D-Portage, steps in line to chair the House Committee on Pensions and Labor. Former State Rep. Ralph Ayres, R-Chesterton, steps in line to become the executive director of the Indiana Retired Teachers Association, a lobbying organization with 23,000 members.

The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission votes unanimously to endorse an amendment to the Coffee Creek Center planned unit development ordinance which would permit the construction of the 94-unit Village Green Townhomes on 15 acres at the southeast corner of C.R. 1050N and Kelle Drive.

Porter County Treasurer Jim Murphy predicts that the first installment of 2007 property taxes will not be issued until August or September, well beyond the normal May 10 deadline. The CHS debate team wins the Munster tournament. CHS senior Matthew DeLeon is recognized by the College Board’s National Hispanic Recognition Program.

The Chesterton Utility Service Board votes unanimously to begin the engineering of the long-discussed, long-postponed Downtown sanitary sewer separation and repair project, to be undertaken in the spring of 2007. The Chesterton BZA votes unanimously to approve the petition of T & T Gaming for a special exception permitting the operation of a video-console gaming center in the 200 block of Broadway. Incoming Porter County Sheriff David Lain taps Maj. Doug Snyder of the PCSP to be his Chief Deputy.

The annual Hometown Christmas Parade in Downtown Chesterton kicks of the holiday season. The Chesterton Redevelopment Com-mission votes unanimously to accept the contracted engineering consultant’s recommendation permanently to close the intersection of South Calumet Road and C.R. 1100N as part of a package of improvements proposed for the South Calumet Triangle. The Porter Town Council votes unanimously to begin collecting an interim fee of $4 per parcel, beginning Jan. 1, to fund the MS4 program. The Dorothy Buell Visitor Center opens for business at 1420 Munson Road in Porter.

December

The Porter hospital Board of Trustees votes unanimously to increase rates by 6 percent in 2007 and give employees a 3-percent raise. The Pizza Hut on Indian Boundary burns. The CHS Music Department holds its 34th annual Madrigal Dinner. The CHS debate team wins its second consecutive sweepstakes championship at LaPorte High School.

Porter Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees announces its intention to the sell the hospital to Triad Hospitals Inc., a for-profit health care company headquartered in Plano, Texas, which operates 53 hospitals and 12 ambulatory surgery centers in the U.S. and Ireland. Gov. Mitch Daniels proposes a three-year phase-in of optional full-day kindergarten, starting in the fall of 2007 with the neediest children.

Hunters take 31 deer over the two days of the second and final phase of the 2006 cull at Indiana Dunes State Park, for a four-day total of 84. The 12th annual Duneland Community Advent Festival is held at St. Patrick Catholic Church. The Duneland School Board approves a 10-percent increase in the 2007 premiums for employees enrolled in the Duneland School Corporation’s health insurance program.

The developer who proposed a 134-lot subdivision on C.R. 700N in Liberty Township withdraws his petition before the Porter County Plan Commission for a re-zone. The Indiana American Water Company files a petition with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for a 17.64 percent rate hike; if granted, it would be the fourth sought and obtained by the company since November 2002. Christmas in the Dunes is held at the Chellberg Farm and Bailly Homestead at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

CHS debate hosts 22 teams from Indiana and Illinois. Chesterton Fire Chief Warren “Skip” Highwood is presented with the Sagamore of the Wabash. The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission learns that the Porter County Auditor’s Office has shortchanged it of an undetermined amount in tax increment financing revenues by inadvertently dropped parcels from the TIF district after they are assigned new tax numbers when sold or subdivided.

The Chesterton Town Council postpones a vote on a package of improvements proposed for the South Calumet Triangle, including the permanent closure of the intersection of South Calumet Road and C.R. 1100N, after Member Jim Ton, R-1st, voices his hope for a compromise of some kind. Bob Nienhuis becomes the senior pastor at Liberty Bible Church. Gov.. Mitch Daniels announces a plan for a second privately managed toll road in Northwest Indiana, which would intersect Ind. 49 south of U.S. Highway 30.

Gov. Mitch Daniels proposes leasing the Hoosier Lottery to a private company for an upfront payment of $1 billion and annual payments of $200 million. The Town of Burns Harbor seeks an excess level appeal of $350,000, on the basis of a growth of assessed valuation of at least 2 percent above the state average within a three-year period. The CHS speech team wins the Fort Wayne Snider invitational tournament.

The Northwest Indiana Regional Council of Carpenters Pension Funds puts its 55 acres at Coffee Creek Center up for sale. ISTEP results are released: all Duneland School Corporation grades exceed the state average. The Westchester Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 152 holds its annual Shop with a Cop, putting presents under the tree for 66 Duneland children.

The family of James Johnson, a Pine Township man who died nearly two years ago, files a lawsuit against Porter hospital, hospital CEO Ron Winger, the Porter County Commissioners, the Porter County Council, and the Porter County Coroner’s Office, alleging that Johnson’s body was wrongly released for cremation.

The Porter Town Council votes unanimously to create a rainy day fund, into which a maximum of 10 percent of the town’s total budget may be transferred annually. Former U.S. President Gerald Ford dies at 93.

CVS Pharmacy petitions the Chesterton BZA for a variance to permit a drive-through at a 12,900-square foot store proposed for construction on the present site of Nielsen Nissan at the southeast corner of the intersection of Ind. 49 and C.R. 1100N.

 

Posted 12/29/2006

 

 

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