Chesterton Tribune

 

 

2013 Year in Review: Life goes on in Duneland despite dysfunctional nation and county

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By KEVIN NEVERS

New Year’s Day, 2013: Congress only just manages to save the nation from tumbling off the ballyhooed financial cliff, whatever exactly that is. Here in Duneland, folks sleep late, pop a couple of Alka Seltzer, and watch parades and college football.

Two months later, in March, federal budget cuts mandated under so-called sequestration go into effect butÑfor visitors to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, at any rateÑthose cuts are invisible.

On Oct. 1, Congress’ inability to approve a budget, in the face of Republican recalcitrance over the Affordable Care Act, leads to a partial government shutdown. On the same day, the portal to the federal healthcare exchange is revealed to be an unmitigated disaster. No one in Duneland seems to notice, except perhaps, for the federal workers placed on furlough. Apathy over the shutdown is quickly replaced by apathy over the impending national default, which fails to materialize when Congress reaches an 11th-hour deal which fails to prompt dancing in the streets.

Dunelanders, meanwhile, spend the year doing what they’ve always done: working and playing, raising their families, tending their gardens, happy perhaps that for now, at least, they can safely ignore the ham-handed bumbling in Washington.

The fact, however, that the Chesterton Tribune is leading its annual Year in Review with a story which, for the most part, was simply background noise in our lives here, goes to the kind of year 2013 was news-wise: there was plenty to cover but it lacked what newspaper reporters like bestÑthemes, easy to summarize and quick to digest.

If theme there was, though, it would probably be the continuing vicissitudes of county government. Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, may have accused some County Council members, on the subject of finances, of “Chicken Little” fear-mongering, but ponying up for the $1.5 million needed for additional medical staff at the jail was like pulling teeth. Another $1.5 million, which the Commissioners earmarked for the Raise the Barn activity center at Sunset Hill Farm County Park, the Council in the end just flat tabled. And the county is still going into 2014 with a projected $1.4 million budget shortfall.

Along the way, the Commissioners floated the unpopular idea of building a new animal shelter on a memorial meadow at Sunset Hill and voted Council Member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, right out of his district. (See related story on this page.)

The year closed with the FBI seizing records from county offices, apparently as part of an investigation whose point is anybody’s guess.

In Chesterton, 2014 will be remembered as the year in which Urschel Laboratories Inc. broke ground at Coffee Creek Center, for its new manufacturing facility and corporate HQ. It will be remembered as well as the year in which the Wizard of Oz Festival finally gave up the ghost.

Ground was broken as well on the Dunes-Kankakee Trail, and real progress was madeÑover some objectionsÑon the Orchard Pedestrian Way in Porter.

And Seven Peaks appears to have made itself right at home in Duneland, with the grand opening of its waterparkÑthe former Splash Down DunesÑas well as the purchase of Westchester Lanes from the Ellos.

We wished the very best in 2013 to Dirk Baer, Michael Grubb, and Gayle Polakowski, on their well-earned retirement. And we bade farewell to Doc Whisler and the Rev. Laurence Heeg, with sadness.

January

On New Year’s Day, Congress kicks the can down the road, after approving a compromise intended to avert the nation’s tumbling off the fiscal cliff; among other things, it raises the top income-tax rate of 35 percent to 39.6 percent; U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, votes against the bill, on the ground that it adds $4 trillion to the national debt without resolving tax and spending issues. Report: the Indiana Office of Tourism announces the results of an on-line survey which ranks the Indiana Dunes second in the state in the Best Fall Foliage Spot category and third in Best Summer Gotta-Do.

Fredrick Cashner Jr., 56, of Jackson Township, is sentenced to 45 years for shooting his wife, Cynthia Cashner, 51, to death in April 2011 at her business in Portage. The Porter County Council elects Member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, to the presidency; Rivas asks his colleagues to make a better effort at communicating and cooperating with the Porter County Commissioners.

The Porter County Council okays the use of $500,000 in interest from the hospital sale to allow PACT to purchase the Legacy Banquet Center, with an eye to reducing the jail population and saving up to $150,000 annually. The Porter Town Council honors Stephanie Miller for her 20 years of service to the municipal park system and the community’s children. Duneland Schools Superintendent Dirk Baer announces his retirement, effective at the end of the 2012-13 academic year.

The Friends of the Indiana Dunes donates two new ATVs to Indiana Dunes State Park, to be used for trail and beach maintenance. The Westchester Public Library launches a free downloadable magazine subscription service. Representatives of Urschel Laboratories Inc. make their first public appearance before the Chesterton Town Council and the Economic Development Commission, to applause, handshakes, and good cheer, after the announcement late in 2012 that the company is building a new corporate HQ and manufacturing facility at Coffee Creek Center.

Det. Lt. Dave Adkins of the Chesterton Police Department announces his retirement, effective April 13, after nearly 30 years of service to the community. U.S. District Judge Philip Simon rejects Operators Local 150’s challenge of Indiana’s so-called “Right to Work” law. Lifelong Duneland resident Edna Agnes Elzene JohnsonÑ“Zeni”Ñcelebrates her 100th birthday.

ArcelorMittal announces plans to close a coke plant and six production lines in Belgium, threatening 1,300 jobs; the company cites a collapsing demand for steel and structural overcapacity; Belgian steelworkers protest. Tracy Freeze is installed as the 2013 President of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce. A Dune Acres group, the Coalition to Save Cowles Bog, reaches a temporary accord with the National Park Service; the former agrees to withdraw its petition for a preliminary injunction against “clear-cutting” trees in Cowles Bog; the latter agrees to remove no more trees from a “stipulated” area on the eastern portion of the project area.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District projects a November completion of a new high-boarding platform at Dune Park Station. U.S. Steel posts a net loss in 2012 of $124 million or 86 cents per diluted share and a net loss in the fourth quarter of 2012 of $50 million or 35 cents per share. Chesterton High School qualifies seven debaters for the national tournament in Birmingham, Ala.

A midnight hail storm slams Duneland. The Friends of Indiana Dunes donate an all-terrain wheelchair to Indiana Dunes State Park. Carlos Martinez Jr., 42, with an address on Gladys Lane, faces 50 years in prison after the Porter County Drug Task Force says he transacted drug deals within 1,000 feet of Westchester Intermediate School.

February

The Shirley Heinze Land Trust purchases the former Meadowbrook Girl Scout Camp on C.R. 700N in Liberty Township, with plans to operate the 74-acre property as a natural area and center for environmental education. The CHS debate team ends its streak of state championships at five, after placing second, behind West Lafayette, at the tournament in Kokomo. Ryan Schroeder, 27, of Liberty Township, is sentenced to 54 years in prison, following his conviction late in 2012 on five counts of aiding in child molesting; according to the Indiana State Police, Schroeder told his girlfriend to molest a Chesterton boy and record the molestation.

A jury is picked on the first day of Dustin McCowan’s murder trail; Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa denies the defense’s motion for a change of venue. ArcelorMittal posted a net loss in 2012 of $3.7 billion or $2.4 per share and a net loss in the fourth quarter of $3.98 billion or $2.58, the later including a $4.3 billion non-cash write-down of goodwill due to weak market conditions in Europe, where steel demand fell by 9 percent in 2012.

In the opening statements of Dustin McCowan’s murder trial, the state promises that physical evidence and eye- and ear-witness testimony will link McCowan to Amanda Bach’s murder; the defense responds by calling the police investigation shoddy and maintaining that there is no “real concrete evidence” tying McCowan to the crime.

At a public hearing before the Chesterton Economic Development Commission on the bond issue for the Urschel Laboratories Inc. project, one resident expresses concern over the 20-year, 85-percent property-tax break on the table and wants assurances that Urschel will preferentially hire Chesterton residents; Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann says that steps are already being taken in that direction; the CEDC subsequently approves the bond issues, under which Urschel will pay all costs associated with the project with its own liquidity, then recoup a portion of those costs through the 20-year, 85-percent tax break.

The CHS speech team wins the first tournament of the year, the Munster Varsity Speech Invitational. The Duneland Business Initiative Group ends its sponsorship of the Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival; Machelle Blount of DBIG, who spearheaded the return of the Oz Fest to Chesterton, cites dwindling attendance and the sheer time needed to organize the event.

Luke Oil announces the demolition of its gas station at the northeast corner of U.S. Highway 6 and Meridian Road in Liberty Township and the complete reconstruction of the facility for a “fresh look”; the Porter County Plan Commission unanimously votes to re-zone the site to Moderate Commercial Intensity. Nearly a dozen residents of a four-plex apartment on Annabelle Court are displaced by a fire in the first-floor utility room, believed to have been electrical in nature. The CHS speech and debate team qualifies three more for the national tournament in Birmingham, Ala.; the total now stands at 10.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore receives a $193,400 grant to establish shuttle service from the South Shore commuter line to sites in the park. NiSource Inc. posts a net income in 2012 of $416.1 million or $1.43 basic earning per share, compared to $299.1 million or $1.06 in 2011. Fire destroys a home in the 1200 block of Sunset Ave. in Porter; firefighters use 38,000 gallons of water to douse the blaze, fought in bitterly cold conditions; damage is estimated at $190,000.

Duneland Schools Business Manager Bonnie Gaston and Bailly Elementary Principal Michael Grubb are among those who join Superintendent Dirk Baer in announcing their retirement at the end of the school year. CHS boys swim team wins its third IHSAA state title. The Chesterton Town Council carves out 157 acres from the original TIF districtÑscheduled to expire in 18 yearsÑand creates a new one for Urschel Laboratories Inc., whose financing arrangement with the town has a lifetime of 20 years.

A jury finds Dustin McCowan guilty of murdering Amanda Bach; at a press conference afterward, Amanda’s father, William Bach, expresses his gratitude to the jury, the family’s public supporters, the PCSP, and the prosecutors; Amanda’s mother, Sandra Bach, calls the conviction a “bittersweet victory” and speaks of the “families destroyed by the acts of Dustin McCowan.” The Porter Town Council raises 2013 beach parking fees in all classes with one exception: the $5 resident senior citizen permit for folks 60 and older.

St. Patrick’s School Science Olympiad team advances to state competition in Bloomington. CHS senior Kaleigh Wilder is named to the 53rd annual all-state band by the Indiana Bandmasters Association. Discovery Charter School sets 2013-14 target enrollment at 470, up from the current academic year’s enrollment of 439.

March

The Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals grants a use variance to the Duneland School Corporation, permitting the conversion of the former Instructional Materials Center at 411 S. Fifth into a wellness center for staff, in a move which DSC estimates could save $450,000 in health-related costs. The Westchester Township Historical Museum opens two new exhibits: “Police Departments of Westchester Township” and “Death in Duneland.” The annual Maple Sugar Festival is held at Chellberg Farm at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

Consultants tout the use of storytelling media to the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission, as a way of turning the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center into a tourist destination in its own right. CHS wins its 14th and 15th state titles at the Japanese Olympiad in Muncie, in the second- and third-year divisions, with the fourth-year garnering second place. Report: federal sequestration to have minimal visible impact on Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

James Lohman III, 50, of Portage, admits to dragging Shift Change bartender Sheri Jania to her death beneath his car on U.S. Highway 20, in September 2011, and pleads guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and OWI-causing death; he faces a maximum sentence of 28 years in prison. Ten inches of snow make the afternoon rush hour in Duneland a mess. A deer cull, using federal sharpshooters, begins at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, with an authorized take of up to 345 deer in the first year of the program.

The CHS Jazz Ensemble wins Gold in Division I at the annual Jazz Festival at LaPorte High School. Ethisphere Institute names NiSource Inc. one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies, a designation given to 140 firms worldwide and recognizing a commitment to ethical business standards. CHS senior Micheala Sosby, editor of Sandscript, is named the State Student Journalist of the Year by IHSPA.

Lakeshore PAWS opts not to enter into a partnership for a new animal shelter, after expressing concerns over gray areas in the law concerning the delegation of responsibility between PAWS and Porter County Animal Control. By a 4-3 vote, the Porter County Council bounces Member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, from the presidency and replaces him with Member Bob Poparad, D-at large. CHS junior Nick Moreno, WDSO training director, takes first place in In-Depth Features at the 10th annual IASB in Indianapolis.

Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris reports that confirmed or suspected heroin-related fatalities are surging early in 2013, with eight reported, compared to a total of nine in 2012. Coroner Harris also reports that suicides reached an 18-year high of 39 in 2012, compared to 19 in 2011. The Duneland School Board taps Assistant Superintendent of Operations Dave Pruis to succeed Dirk Baer as Duneland Schools Superintendent.

CHS business students Joe Pejril and Natalie Petro take first place awards at the State Leadership Conference in Indianapolis. Rick Hokanson and Sharon Robbins, with a combined 45 years of service, announce their retirement from the Westchester Public Library Board of Directors. The DNR honors the Friends of Indiana Dunes with its Partnership of the Year Award, in recognition of the Friends’ continued and generous support of Indiana Dunes State Park. Report: a study by the U.S. Geological Survey indicates that a new EPA rapid water-quality test could prevent unnecessary Lake Michigan beach closures.

The estimated cost of improving medical services at the Porter County JailÑ$1.5 million, compared to the current budget of $300,000Ñprompts the Porter County Commissioners to order a complete audit review of all PCSP and PCJ expenses. Report: Porter County is the 20th healthiest in the State of Indiana, Lake County the 81st. The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission sees for the first time the concept plan for Urschel Laboratories Inc.’s future 350,000-square foot corporate HQ and manufacturing facility at Coffee Creek Center.

Report: Indiana’s union members comprise 9.1 percent of the state’s workforce, compared to 22 percent in 1983, a drop in membership attributed to an aging workforce, changes in the public sector, and shifts in the political winds. The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District Board of Directors awards the contract for a new high-boarding platform at Dune Park Station to Larson-Danielson Construction Company of Michigan City. The Coalition to Protect Cowles Bog alleges that the National Park Service has violated a temporary accord by cutting trees in a so-called “stipulation area.”

The CHS speech team takes second place at the IHSFA state tournament. The Chesterton Town Council approves a $14.9 million sewer revenue bond issue, to finance the federally mandated long term control plan to reduce sewage bypasses into the Little Calumet River. CHS cellist Josh DeVries spearheads a musical gift to create a “Bridge to Beijing.”

The Porter County Council votes 5-1 to appoint former Chesterton Tribune reporter Vicki Urbanik to the newly created position of County Financial Specialist, at a salary of $40,000. Dustin McCowan is sentenced to 60 years in prison for murdering Amanda Bach, by Porter Superior Judge Bill Alexa.

April

Unevenly mixed heroinÑresembling nuggets of limestone streaked with layers of greater and lesser purityÑis blamed for a surge in fatal overdoses by Porter County Drug Task Force Coordinator Bob Taylor. The Shirley Heinze Land Trust acquires 38 acres along the Little Calumet River in Chesterton, to be named the Keith Richard Walner Nature Preserve. The first saltie of the season, the German tanker Slomen Herakles, opens the 2013 international shipping season at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, carrying on her maiden voyage a cargo of 12,860 tons of liquid fertilizer.

Local artist Holly Jackson visits Chesterton Middle School, trades art cards with students, and talks about creating. The PCSP ends its investigation of Elliott McCowan, father of convicted murderer Dustin McCowan and suspected of having aided his son in some capacity after the murder of Amanda Bach, with the decision to pursue no criminal charges against him.

Michele Bartels, co-president of the Duneland Teachers Association, objects to a 12.5-percent salary increase approved by the Duneland School Board for superintendent-designate Dave Pruis, on the ground that it’s too much at the wrong time. A dog barking in the night wakes the owner of a burning barn in the 1400 block of Tremont Road, in time to evacuate his horses and goats; the CFD and assisting departments manage to save the barn.

Duneland municipalities enact ordinances intended to protect the dignity of funerals and the privacy of mourners, by prohibiting pickets and protests within 300 feet of cemeteries and funeral homes. “Dangerous” structures at Dunes Friendship Land are removed, leaving intact only the pre-school section of the playground. Luke Gregurich, an eighth-grader at St. Patrick School, places seventh at the Indiana State Geography Bee in Indianapolis. The Duneland School Board appoints CHS Assistant Principal Kevin Zeck to succeed retiring Bailly Elementary Principal Michael Grubb.

The Duneland School Board approves the use of mandatory breathalyzers at the Senior Banquet and Prom, under a pilot program. The Westport Community Club in Burns Harbor dissolves and members express the desire to transfer the property to the town but a $20,000 property-tax bill complicates the proposed transaction. Sander Owens, a fourth-grader at the Discovery Charter School, places 10th at the Indiana State Geography Bee in Indianapolis.

The Porter County Plan Commission approves primary plat for a proposed senior living community on St. Andrews property, adjacent to Porter Regional Hospital at U.S. Highway 6 and Ind. 49 in Liberty Township. St. Paul’s Lutheran Church celebrates its 125th anniversary. CHS senior Liz Benson is named Academic All State, one of only 40 students in Indiana to be so honored.

Donald “Doc” Whisler, 79, dies; he served for eight years as Porter Building Commissioner, was active as a Democrat precinct committeeman, and formerly owned Duneland Heating and United Heating & Cooling. A decomposing body found in a ditch near Hebron in Boone Township is identified as Ruben Paredes, 32, of Akron, Ind.; the cause of death is determined to be a gunshot wound; his car is found abandoned on the South Side of Chicago. The Porter County Commissioners authorize an expenditure of $1.5 millionÑfrom interest on the hospital saleÑfor the Raise the Barn education center at Sunset Hill Farm County Park but the Porter County Council must still approve the expenditure on its end.

Convicted murderer Dustin McCowan seeks to “correct errors” in his 60-year sentence, claiming Porter Superior Judge Bill Alexa was prejudiced by the recording of a jail phone call between McCowan and an unidentified person in which the latter “arguably made death threats” against the children of the judge and the prosecutors. The CFD opts not to establish its own advanced lift support ambulance service; instead, the Town Council approves a three-contract with Superior Ambulance Service (SAS), under which SAS will operate an ambulance at the CFD at no municipal cost, respond to all EMS calls in town 24/7/365, and share on a 50/50 basis with the town all revenues over and above $450,000.

A proposed TIF district for Porter Regional Hospital is projected to cost the Duneland School Corporation some $5 million over five years. A 3-2 vote by the Porter County Council is not enough to authorize a $1.5-million expenditure for Raise the Barn, with the absence from the meeting of members Karen Conover, R-3rd, and Dan Whitten, D-at large; members Jim Biggs, R-1st, and Jeremey Rivas, D-2nd, say they will not approve the expenditure until questions pertaining to the hiring of additional medical staff at PCJ are resolved.

Chesterton Girl Scout Sara Filipek earns the Gold Award for her design of a concussion prevention program for local coaches. United Steelworkers 6787 and ArcelorMittal resolveÑwithout the need to go to arbitrationÑsafety concerns related to recently installed automation controls at Nos. 1 and 2 continuous castors. Rebuilding Together Duneland volunteers work on 13 home sites throughout the community. State computer problems foul ISTEP testing, as students are “bumped off” the system in the middle of tests, a problem which the Indiana Department of Education says affected 27,000 students throughout the state. The Town of Chesterton celebrates Arbor Day by planting three trees at an Indiana Ave. home as part of the town’s Cost Share Program.

May

U.S. Steel posts a net loss in the first quarter of $73 million or 51 cents per diluted share, compared to a net loss in the fourth quarter of $50 million or 35 cents and a net loss in the year-ago of $219 million or $1.52. Sridhar R. Mothkur, 62, of Chesterton, dies in a two-vehicle crash on I-94 in Porter County. Tera Ross, 24, of South Haven, dies in a one-vehicle crash on Ind. 149 in Liberty Township.

NiSource Inc. posts a net income in the first quarter of $260.5 million or 84 cents basic earnings per share, compared to $193.4 million or 68 cents in the year-ago. The Chesterton Utility Service Board rejects as too high all bids for Phase I of the long term control plan. The CHS Jazz Ensemble holds the 40th annual Spring Jazz Concert, entitled “All that Jazz.” The National Park Service reports that 84 deer were taken during the 10-day cull at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

The Porter County Community Foundation awards over $87,000 in grants to 11 non-profits, including the Duneland Family YMCA and the Westchester Neighborhood Food Pantry. The European Market opens its 2013 season in the Chesterton Downtown. Porter Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa denies convicted murderer Dustin McCowan’s motion to overturn his 60-year sentence.

The CHS Fine Arts Academic Super Bowl Team takes the state title in West Lafayette. Glenn and Lois Nicholson, married at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in 1948, celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary. CHS seniors Elizabeth Benson and Kevin Fekete are named National Merit Scholars. Kalvin Ravn is named the Duneland Exchange Club’s winner of the Accepting the Challenge of Excellence (ACE) Award.

U.S. Army Sgt. Travis M. Derr, CHS 2003, is awarded the Bronze Star for service in Afghanistan. ArcelorMittal posts a net loss in the first quarter of $345 million, compared to a net income of $92 million in the year-ago. Architect Dave Kinel estimates the cost of a proposed brick-and-mortar restroom facility in Thomas Centennial Park at $226,200. The Lake Michigan Coastal Program awards the Town of Chesterton a 50/50 grant of $25,000 to engineer Phase II of the Westchester-Liberty Trail.

Wendy Marciniak is the 2013 Chesterton Woman’s Club 62nd annual Art Show cover artist. The PCSP investigates the poisoning by antifreeze of three dogs belonging to a Pine Township resident. CHS senior Micheala Sosby, Sandscript feature editor, is presented with the 30th annual W.R. Canright Outstanding Senior Journalism Award. Dr. Dan Keilman is presented with the 2012-13 United Way Success By 6 Service to Children Award.

Boy Scout Logan Castro earns the Eagle Scout rank with his service project: the cleaning and beautification of the Vietnam Veterans’ Wall at Ind. 49 and East Porter Ave. The Westchester Township History Museum opens its summer exhibit, “Saving the Indiana Dunes.” A residence in the 1700 block of Amen Court Corner sustains an estimated $70,000 in damage, CFD Chief Mike Orlich says, after a grease fire in a grill built into the side of the house spreads.

Report: the Addison Pointe nursing home on Dickinson Road is fulfilling its promise to hire Chesterton residentsÑafter being granted a 10-year tax abatementÑwith around 40 of its 103 new hires residing in the Town of Chesterton. The Northwest Indiana Regional Plan Commission awards the Town of Chesterton a federal grant in the amount of $405,834 for Phase II of the Westchester-Liberty Trail. The Porter County Council votes unanimously to table a $1.5-million expenditure for Raising the Barn. Bob Kindmark and Greg Schoeneck are presented with the Boy Scouts of America’s Silver Beaver Award, for distinguished service to Scouting.

June

Former Porter County Auditor James K. Kopp, 68, of Ogden Dunes, dies; Kopp also served as president of the Town Board and chief of the Volunteer Fire Department. The 123rd annual CHS commencement is held in the school gymnasium. Duneland Schools Superintendent-Designate Dave Pruis expresses displeasure at the state’s per-student funding formula: DSC received $4,348 in 2013 compared to $4,500 per voucher student, will receive $4,569 in 2014 compared to $4,700 per voucher student.

Duneland Carpet Connection at 900 Broadway celebrates its 25th year in business. Gas prices in Chesterton spike at $4.35 per gallon, compared to the state average of $4.16, which is itself 50 cents higher than the national average. Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, reads a prepared statement in which he accuses a “Chicken Little” group on the Porter County Council of spreading “untruthful financial information” to convince the public that the county is facing a crippling budget shortfall.

Seven Peaks Waterpark Duneland, at Waverly Road and U.S. Highway 20 in Porter, postpones its opening, after it fails to obtain in time all state and local health and safety permits. The Best of Show at the 62nd annual Chesterton Woman’s Club Art Show: Ivan Chermel’s bust of Jane Walsh-Brown, entitled “JWB Librarian.” Boy Scout Eric Dreischerf of Chesterton earns the Eagle Scout rank, with his reconstruction of a staircase on the Long Lake Trail at West Beach in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

James Lohman III is sentenced to 20 years in prison for dragging Shift Change bartender Sheri Jania to her death beneath his car; Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford says that in 33 years on the bench he has never seen a more “severe” case of leaving the scene of an accident; after Lohman testifies that he wants to help other alcoholics like himself, Bradford says that Lohman will find lots of alcoholics in prison and that he’ll have lots of time to help them.

1st Source Bank celebrates its 150th year in business. The Summer Safety Fest is held at Hawthorne Park in Porter. The Burns Harbor Town Council votes to accept the Westchester Community Club’s donation of its clubhouse and 4.7 acres at the corner of Ind. 49 and Haglund Road, with the understanding that, should the town elect to sell the property later, 50 percent of the proceeds will go the Park Board. Duneland dodges a bullet after a massive line of thunderstorms seems to hit everywhere else; 44,000 NIPSCO customers, but few here, lose power.

The Westchester Township History Museum opens a new exhibit, “Father Knows Best: A History of Father’s Day.” Motorcyclist John Arama, 64, of Valparaiso, dies in a crash on I-80 in Lake County. A mystery substance washing up on Porter Beach and the Indiana Dunes State Park beach is identified by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management as containing food additives, including an anti-caking agent, an acidity regulator, and maple syrup, according to the DNR.

The Chesterton Utility Service Board awards three contracts for Phase I of the long term control plan, at a total cost of $2,315,828 or $125,072 under budget, for plant, lift station, and sewer upgrades. The Porter County BZA rejects Kenneth Price’s petition for a variance which would have permitted him to sell firearms to law enforcement and personal acquaintances from his home in the 400 block of Whitewood Drive in Jackson Township.

Nathan Jania, son of Sheri Jania, files a complaint suit against his late mother’s employer, the Shift Change, in which he alleges that the business failed to follow necessary security procedures to protect the public on the premises, on the day a patron, James Lohman III, dragged her to her death beneath his car. The Indiana Division of the Izaak Walton League of America voices its support of the National Park Service’s restoration of Cowles Bog but its opposition to the Illiana Expressway.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission slashes by half the revenues which the Damon Run Conservancy District may legally collect from Porter Regional Hospital, a ruling which could dramatically increase the special benefits fee which residents of the district must pay; the IURC also questions the fairness and reasonableness of Damon Run’s business practices. The Chesterton Art Center sponsors the fifth annual ARTour, with art demonstrations at 16 different venues.

The CHS speech and debate team competes in its 42nd consecutive National Forensic League national tournament, in Birmingham, Ala., with senior Jennifer Kattalia finishing 18th in the country in Prose Reading and Eric Dreischerf 24th in Lincoln/Douglas Debate. Duneland most definitely does not dodge a bullet, as a violent and sudden wind storm pummels it, leaving trees in the streets and on cars and badly injuring three people in a weather-related crash at the intersection of North Calumet Ave. and U.S. Highway 6 in Liberty Township.

The Duneland School Board shuffles administration: Monte Moffett is named Assistant Superintendent of Operations, a post formerly held by the new super, Dave Pruis; CHS Principal Jim Goetz is slotted into Moffett’s old position, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction; and Assistant CHS Principal Jeff Van Drie succeeds Goetz. Heavy morning rains flood some of Duneland’s roadways. More than 300 tons of buried farm debris is hauled from the work site of the Ind. 49 utility corridor, at a cost of $27,343.29.

NICTD forbids alcohol on all South Shore commuter trains due to the planned celebrations of the Chicago Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup win. The Chesterton Utility Service Board names Terry Atherton the Utility’s new superintendent; Atherton formerly served as operations director for Indiana-American Water Company. The Chesterton BZA rejects a Lamar Advertising Company’s petition for a bigger and taller LED billboard on Ind. 49 but approves the petition of James O’Connor Martial Arts for a BB-gun shooting range at its facility at 534 Broadway.

July

Seven Peaks Waterpark Duneland opens to the public on July 1. Cody Riffett, 17, of Valparaiso, dies after ingesting a synthetic version of LSD, the PCSP says; Jeffrie Crucean, 18, of Union Township, who reportedly supplied Riffett with the substance, is taken into custody. A resident of the 1900 block of Laura Lane in Chesterton reports the theft of $20,000 in jewelry and Vicodin, the CPD says.

Ground is broken on the Dunes-Kankakee Trail, with a ceremony at Mile Marker O at Indiana Dunes State Park; when completed, the trail will take bikers and hikers from the State Park to the Kankakee River near Hebron. The annual fireworks extravaganza at Indiana Dunes State Park is postponed for three days after high waves on Lake Michigan are forecast. A cabin at the Sand Creek Campground at 1000N 350E is destroyed by fire, the Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department reports; the cabin was not in use and not connected to utilities.

Nancy and Russ Adams announce the sale of Strongbow Inn in ValparaisoÑfor 70 years a family-owned businessÑto the Luke Company of Hobart. The Porter County Jail goes live with 24/7 medical staffing, for the first time in history, after Correct Care Solutions begins services under a contract valued at $1.299 million. Porter County Assessor John Snyder files a writ of production in Porter Circult Court to force Porter Regional Hospital to submit information which Snyder says is necessary to complete an accurate assessment of hospital property.

The Chesterton Lions Club holds the annual running of the turtles at Hawthorne Park in Porter, as part of the Independence Day celebration. The owners of Westchester Lanes, Tony and Evelyn Ello, announce the bowling alley’s imminent closure, blaming community apathy. The Lemon Tree Grill at 356 Indian Boundary Road receives its license to sell beer and wine, the third such restaurant under the Town of Chesterton’s formal riverfront designation.

Frontline Foundations moves its substance treatment facility to the old Rax/video store/vet’s office on Broadway. The annual Bark in the Bark event, sponsored by the Duneland Business Initiative Group, is held at Thomas Centennial Park. The Porter Police Department warns Porter Beachers that it will begin ordering towed vehicles illegally parked on Dearborn Street.

A federal judge rejects the attempt by the Coalition to Protect Cowles Bog to stop the National Park Service from cutting trees, as part of a project to restore Cowles Bog to the condition it was in when ecologist Henry Cowles first studied it in the early 20th century. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management honors Chesterton MS4 Operator Jennifer Gadzala with three certificates of recognition. The Burns Harbor Town Council wants researched the possible annexation of the Bailly Generating Station.

Tara Tryon, 22, of Wanatah, who molested a Chesterton boy and recorded the molestation at the behest of her boyfriend, Ryan Schroeder, is sentenced to 10 years in prison; Schroeder is serving a 54-year sentence. The Relay for Life is held at Chesterton Middle School. Jennie Welch, 25, of Brighton, Mass., dies after falling off a golf cart in Dune Acres; Jason Pelton, 27, of San Francisco, Calif., driving the cart, is charged with operating while intoxicated resulting in serious bodily injury.

Nathan Woessner, 6, of Sterling, Ill., is saved by firefighters after surviving three hours buried alive in a 11-foot hole in the sand on Mt. Baldy at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore; Nathan, who managed to find an air pocket in the sand, is expected to recover; the National Park Service closes Mt. Baldy to search for other holes, believed to be naturally occurring and formed after the shifting dunes expose cavities left by rotted trees. Seven Peaks, which earlier in the month opened its waterpark in Porter, purchases Westchester Lanes from Tony and Evelyn Ello, with plans to make it a family fun center and to include it on its Pass of All Passes Chicagoland.

A car fire in a garage in the 2200 block of Texas Street causes an estimated $32,500 damage, the CFD reports. CHS boys swimming coach Kevin Kinel is named Coach of the Year by the National High School Coaches Association. A heat wave simmers Duneland. Bary Bostic, 47, and Robbin Bostic, 41, of Michigan City, are sentenced to time servedÑ16 months and 24 daysÑafter pleading guilty to stealing more than $100,000 from a Chesterton widow.

The Duneland Chamber of Commerce holds its annual awards banquet: CHS swimming coach Kevin Kinel and debate coaches Jim Cavallo and Bob Kelly win the Putting Duneland on the Map Award; the Duneland Business Initiative Group is Volunteer of the Year; Westchester Public Library Director Phil Baugher wins the Community Achievement Award; Lorelei Weimer is Duneland Distinguished Woman; Seven Peaks Duneland wins the Community ImprovementÑRenovation Award; the Addison Pointe Health and Rehabilitation Center wins the Community ImprovementÑNew Construction Award; and Amber Hensell-Hicks and Bud Flick are the Humanitarians of the Year.

A 15-year-old Hobart boy is injured on the Starship ride on the midway of the Porter County Fair. The 54th annual Porter County Fair Queen is Britta Ringas, CHS ‘11; Miss Congeniality, Allison McAloon, CHS ‘13; and Miss Photogenic, Kaitlyn Waltz, CHS ‘13. An abandoned home on C.R. 1050N, west of Meridian Road in Liberty Township, is destroyed by fire; it was not connected to utilities and the cause is undetermined, the LTVFD says.

Costa Dillon, the successor to long-time superintendent of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Dale Engquist, announces his retirement. Porter residents rap the Orchard Pedestrian Way but the Redevelopment Commission says that it’s too late to change anything, after hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent since 2003. Chesterton Girl Scouts Anule Ndukwu and Neathie Minesh Patel earn the Gold Award, the former for holding a journalism workshop promoting creative expression, the latter for presenting an anti-drug program at Chesterton Middle School.

Porter County Assessor Jim Snyder and Porter Regional Hospital announce jointly in Porter Circuit Court that they have settled their differences; PRH says that it will provide most of the information requested by Snyder to complete his assessment of the hospital property. Gonzola Silva, 37, of Lafayette, Ind., dies in hospital after being pulled from Lake Michigan off a beach in Beverly Shores at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Porter Park Department begins a summer dancing and music series at Hawthorne Park. Boy Scout Riley Buckles earns the Eagle Scout rank, for landscaping the American Red Cross building in Valparaiso.

August

ArcelorMittal posts a net loss in the second quarter of $780 million, compared to a net income in the year-ago of $1.02 billion. The 55th annual Chesterton Art Fair is held at Hawthorne Park in Porter. Tonya’s Patisserie in Chesterton is selected to represent Porter County’s cuisine at the Indiana State Fair in Indianapolis. NiSource Inc. posts a net income in the second quarter of $71.7 million or 23 cents basic earnings per share, compared to $69.4 million or 25 cents in the year-ago.

U.S. Steel posts a net loss in the second quarter of $78 million or 54 cents per diluted share, compared to a net loss in the first quarter of $73 million or 51 cents and a net income in the year-ago of $101 million or 62 cents. The parents of Amanda Bach, William and Sandra, sue their daughter’s convicted murderer, Dustin McCowan, and his father, Elliott McCowan, under the state’s Child Wrongful Death law; Count II of the suit hinges on the case’s enduring mysteryÑwhat firearm was used to shoot Bach and what happened to it?Ñand alleges that Dustin McCowan used a firearm belonging to his father and one which Elliott McCowan had a duty to secure properly.

The Westchester Township History Museum recreates the 1913 panoramic photo of the Chesterton Downtown and invites the public to participate. Wizard of Oz Munchkin Margaret Pellegrini dies at 89. The newly formatted letter-size Chesterton Utility bills prompt more than 500 people to call the Utility, seeking explanations, clarifications, or reassurance. The Duneland School System says that “quirks” in the new online registration system are a one-time problem.

Wade Breitzke, CHS ‘05, is the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Investigators find a second hole at Mt. Baldy at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, similar to the one from which an Illinois boy was rescued earlier in the summer, 10 inches in diameter and at least five feet in depth and believed to be naturally occurring. Eric Martin, 45, of Jackson Township, is taken safely into custody after a nine-hour standoff at his residence, during which the PCSP says he fired at officers through the walls of his home; Martin is charged with multiple counts of attempted murder.

PCSP: an elderly Liberty Township man loses $3,725 to a scammer. The Burns Harbor Town Council hires an agency to collect unpaid billings from the BHFD’s advanced life support ambulance service, with the agency keeping 31 percent of what it collects. PCSP: Vincent Canzoneri, 15, of Porter Township, dies in a dirt-bike accident, apparently after hitting a tree on a trail near his home.

After years of discussion, a stormwater lift station designed to drain the alley behind Val’s Famous Pizza & Grinders at Broadway and 11th StreetÑthe lowest point in townÑgoes on line. The Boys and Girls Club of Porter County Board of Directors announces that the Duneland Unit will remain at the Methodist Activity Center at 135 Lincoln Ave. in Chesterton for at least one more year, but that a long-term solution is needed to space and capacity problems.

Eric Martin, accused of shooting at PCSP officers during a standoff at his Jackson Township home, files notice of an insanity defense. The Porter County Commissioners propose the construction of a new animal shelter at Sunset Hill Farm County Park; the response from neighbors and other interested parties is not positive. Discovery Charter School reports a first-day attendance of 491 students, compared to 450 a year earlier. Andrea Lashon Coleman, 34, of ChestertonÑwho admitted selling crack cocaine, accompanied by her children, in the parking lot of the local Family ExpressÑis sentenced to four years in prison.

The Duneland School Corporation reports first-day attendance of 5,851, down from 5,939 a year earlier. Joyce Weaver, 77, of Chesterton, dies at the University of Chicago Medical Center less than a week after suffering burns to a third of her body when her clothing ignited; the CFD said that the fire started when Weaver was smoking while breathing oxygen through a nasal cannula. In a letter to Porter County Attorney Betty Knight, the American Civil Liberties Union calls overcrowding at the Porter County Jail “inexcusable,” urges the opening of the third pod, and suggests the likelihood of legal action should there be no indication in the next six months of a “good faith effort” to comply with state staffing standards.

Indiana-American Water Company’s new computer system fails to bill some customers, with two ripple effects: unbilled customers will face an eventual reconciliation statement which could be very high; and the Chesterton UtilityÑwhich calculates its own bills based on water consumptionÑtakes a hit in revenues. The Porter County Council votes 5-2 to increase the number of officers at the Porter County Jail by two, to attend to inmates’ medical needs; Sheriff Dave Lain is requesting the eventual hire of a total of 11 new officers.

Some 1,800 NIPSCO customers in Duneland lose power during the afternoon and into the evening, after a main transformer fails and a secondary transformerÑundergoing maintenanceÑis off line at the time. The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission hears that the Ind. 49 utility corridor project is nearly complete; change orders have increased the contract price of $2,880,865 by only $63,899.73 or 2.21 percent.

September

Boy Scout Edward Kaczmarek earns his Eagle Scout rank, after volunteering 100 hours at the Paul C. Zona Wildlife Sanctuary, widening trails and pulling invasive plant species. The Porter County Commissioners pledge nearly $2 million in CEDIT moneys, to fund new medical personnel at the Porter County Jail and the E-911 Dispatch Center. The Porter County Park Board takes under advisement the Porter County Commissioners’ proposal to build a new animal shelterÑpartially funded with a $1 million anonymous donationÑat Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

Lakeside Wealth Management of Chesterton kicks off the United Way campaign in Porter County with a $40,000 donation. A mosquito pool in an undisclosed location in Porter County tests positive for the West Nile virus, the Health Department announces. A Lake Superior Court judge strikes down the so-called “right to work” law, ruling in a suit brought by Operators Local 150. CHS Principal Jeff Van Drie announces the expansion of the breathalyzer program to Homecoming.

The National Transportation Safety Board blames a texting engineer for the three-train pileup in Jackson Township in January 2012 which caused $5 million in damage. Extreme heat prompts CMS to cancel a football game and all outdoor athletic practices. The Porter County Drainage Board authorizes Enbridge Energy to enter Neimer Ditch in Pine Township and establish a mitigation site, as part of the permitting process for the company’s 210-mile pipeline replacement project.

CHS seniors Andrew Hurst, Taryn Trusty, and Jennette Sink are National Merit Scholarship semifinalists. CHS students commemorate Sept. 11 by placing 2,977 U.S. flags in the grass outside the school; in the evening a tribute concert is held at Coffee Creek Center. Porter County Parks Foundation President Dave Yeager objects to a proposed animal shelter at Sunset Hill Farm County Park. The third weekend of SeptemberÑhistorically the Chesterton Wizard of Oz Festival weekendÑdraws out-of-towners who never got the memo about Oz.

The First Christian Church of Chesterton becomes the CrossPointe Christian Church of Liberty Township at the southeast corner of Ind. 49 and U.S. Highway 6. Former Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds announced his candidacy in 2014 for a third term as sheriff. The Porter County Council indicates its willingness to draw from CEDIT to cover an estimated $6 million shortfall in the General Fund in 2014. The 2014 CHS Homecoming King and Queen: Connor Smith and Megan Homme. Urschel Laboratories Inc. announces that Rick Urschel will succeed his father, Bob Urschel, as president and CEO of the company.

The Duneland Resale Shop marks its fourth year at 801 Broadway. The Porter County Council cuts more than $2 million from the Porter County Commissioners’ requested budget, slashing $193,000 from the power line item, $35,000 from water, $20,000 from equipment. Porter County Expo Interim Director Ken Blaney resigns. Northwest Indiana Forum President and CEO Mark Maassel resigns.

The Chesterton Utility Service Board awards low bidder Gariup Construction Company of Gary the contract for Phase II of the long term control plan, the chief feature of which is a 1.2-million gallon storage tank. The 25th annual Celebration of the Arts is held at the Schoolhouse Shop. Work begins on the Orchard Pedestrian Way in Porter and the topography of Hawthorne Park begins to change.

Duneland Schools’ ISTEP 2013 scores improve: English 84.6 (state average 79.5), up from 82 in 2013; math 86.8 (state average 82.7), up from 85.3. The Porter County Commissioners announces that they will no longer pursue the construction of a new animal shelter at Sunset Hill Farm County Park. The Michigan Department of Transportation reports that all six alternative routes for high-speed Amtrak will traverse Duneland, that the trains will travel at speeds of up to 110 miles per hour, and that the ultimate goal is to create capacity along the passenger line of 56 trains per day between Chicago and Detroit/Pontiac.

October

Congress’ inability to reach a budget deal prompts a partial government shutdown; here in Duneland only the furloughed federal employees notice. The DNR dedicates the state’s first underwater nature preserve, the J.D. Marshall Preserve, just off the beach at Indiana Dunes State Park, where in 1911 the steam barge went down, taking the lives of four crew members. Harry and Diane Petrakis celebrate their 68th wedding anniversary.

The morning rush-hour commute is fouled by a suspicious package at the Van Buren Street station in Chicago, prompting officials to halt all South Shore and Metra trains on either side of the station; the all-clear is given 90 minutes later when the package turns out to be someone’s cooler. The Porter County Council approves the last of 91 2014 budgets and finds itself $1.4 million in the hole, not including the $450,000 needed to hire nine more Porter County Jail officers. Porter County’s assessed valuation for 2013-pay-2014 is $8.3 billion, a decrease of $52 million attributed chiefly to successful property-tax appeals.

A private donor pledges $300,000 gift to the Porter County Parks Department to purchase additional land at the Brinkca-Cross Gardens in Pine Township; meanwhile, the family of founding Park Board president Art Willig makes a $300,000 toward Raise the Barn. The Duneland School Corporation’s average daily membership dips by 43 students from 2012, a slip which under the state’s tuition support formula will result in a loss to Duneland Schools of nearly $200,000. The Rev. Lawrence S. Heeg, former pastor at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Chesterton, dies at 82.

Former Jackson Township residents Byron and Darlene Wilson celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Bryce Drew, men’s basketball coach at Valparaiso University, is the keynote speaker at the 12th annual Community Prayer Breakfast. The Porter County Commissioners retain DLZ to review the unused third pod of the Porter County Jail, to assess what needs to be done to make it usable.

The Town of Chesterton becomes a “Bird Town Indiana,” through the Indiana Audubon Society. The CFD holds its second annual Lights & Sirens Parade, to kick off National Fire Prevention Week. The oldest tree in the Town of Chesterton, a bur oak in the backyard of a home at Third Street and West Porter Ave.Ñwith a 17-foot circumference and thought to be more than 200 years oldÑis cut down for safety reasons.

Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder assesses Porter Regional Hospital at $244,500,000. The Chesterton Tribune publishes the 2013 panoramic photo of the Downtown, shot earlier in the year; more than 300 folks participated in the event. NIPSCO announces the removal of up to 17 public street-trees along Fifth Street between 1100N and Park Ave., as part of an upgrade of the service in that area. Congress ends a 16-day partial shutdown and averts default with a last-minute compromise bill.

Bonnie Trout, chief founder of the European Market, is inducted into the Society of Innovators of Northwest Indiana, sponsored by Ivy Tech Community College. The Porter BZA and Advisory Plan Commission approve a new Dollar General store at the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and Waverly Road.

The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission endorses the PUD for the Alliance Business Center at Ind. 49 and 950N, over the vociferous objections of Liberty Township residents fearful of their traditional rural land uses being fouled by the development. Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris reports that fatal heroin overdoses are on pace to nearly double the number investigated in 2012. The Porter Town Council votes 3-2 to disband the Park Board and assume full authority and responsibility for operating all parks in town.

Valparaiso Police Chief Mike Brickner announces his 2014 candidacy for Porter County Sheriff. The Chesterton Lions Club celebrates 80 years in Duneland. Franciscan AllianceÑwhich operates the ER department on Indian Boundary RoadÑannounces a 1.4-percent workforce reduction, to eliminate 275 positions across its system. The Porter County Parks Foundation eyes 39 acres of wetlands, located in Chesterton between the Park Place subdivision and Westchester Intermediate School, for acquisition as a migrant bird sanctuary. The Boys and Girls Club of Porter County seeks a use variance from the Chesterton BZA to use the former Lighthouse Christian Center at 521 W. 1100N as its Duneland Unit facility.

The CHS Trojan Guard wins their ISSMA division state championship in Indianapolis. The Chesterton Town Council approves the PUD for the Alliance Business Center at Ind. 49 and 950N; there is no actual plan of development but the PUD allows I-1, I-2, B-3, and R-3 uses. The old Quonset hut at 563 Broadway, first used by the Wilbar Manufacturing Company shortly after World War II to manufacture car visors, is demolished by its owner, on the order of Chesterton Interim Building Commissioner Mike Orlich. NiSource Inc. reports a net income in the third quarter of $48.1 million or 16 cents basic earnings per share, compared to $19.3 million or 6 cents in the year-ago.

November

CMS seventh-grader Lindsay Kaurich wins the peace poster competition sponsored by the Chesterton Lions Club. Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, instructs Sheriff David Lain to clean the Porter County Jail’s third pod and prepare it for use; contracted consultant DLZ estimates the cost of readying the pod at between $146,000 and $158,000. Some CHS parents are unable to access their children’s report card grades on the on-line access portal.

ArcelorMittal posts a net loss in the third quarter of $193 million or 12 cents per share, compared to a net loss in the second quarter of $780 million or 44 cents and a net loss in the year-ago of $652 million or 42 cents. The “Missing Man Table,” honoring fallen service members, goes on display at Hageman Library. The Porter County Park Board forms an ad hoc committee of animal specialists to advise staff on caring for more farm animals at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

Tom and Carole Coslet celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. Chesterton American Legion Post 170 commemorates Veterans Day in Thomas Centennial Park. The CHS Sandpipers place second at the 23rd annual Southmont High School Show Choir Invitational in Crawfordville, Ind. The price of a gallon of gas fallsÑbrieflyÑbelow $3 in Chesterton.

The Porter Town Council standardizes sewer rates for residential customers and waives back billingsÑin some cases totaling $1,300Ñfor affected households. Carl and Linda Burton of Chesterton celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Andrew Hurst of Chesterton earns the Eagle Scout rank, after installing mile markers along Chesterton’s stretch of the Prairie Duneland Trail.

Contractor Michael Samuelson, 39, of Valparaiso, dies in an accident at ArcelorMittal’s facility in East Chicago. The Burns Harbor Town Council approves the use of Tasers by the BHPD for immobilizing out-of-control persons. The annual Winter Lights Night Festival is held at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

George and Barbara Bolesch of Chesterton celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. A massive storm wallops the Midwest, with at least 26 tornados touching down in Indiana, leaving hundreds of NIPSCO customers without power here and 75,000 juiceless company-wide. Benjamin M. Willis II, 25, of Liberty Township, is convicted of neglect of a dependent and battery, both Class A felonies, in connection with the death of his girlfriend’s infant son, Keagan Fishel, aged 7 months.

Porter Regional Hospital appeals its assessed value, saying its building is worth $205 million less than the $242.8 million which Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder put it at. County Democrats urge the Porter County Commissioners to be fair and accurate as they reconfigure the County Council district maps. Delbert and Dianne Wright celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Chesterton Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann reports that the Utility’s financing of the long term control plan to reduce sewage bypasses through the State Revolving Fund has saved its customers $2.7 million in interest over the bond’s 20-year lifetime. The FBI seizes documents related to the Porter County Commissioners’ decision in December 2012 to contract with Porter Regional Hospital as the county’s new wellness program provider, after terminating an earlier contract with HealtheACCESS. Chesterton Clerk-Treasurer Gayle Polakowski announces her retirement for health reasons, effective Dec. 31, after faithfully serving the town for a quarter of a century.

The Chesterton BZA approves a use variance allowing the Duneland Unit of the Boys and Girls Club of Porter County to move its facility to the former Lighthouse Christian Center at 521 W 1100N; but it postpones final decision on the proposed expansion of St. Patrick’s Cemetery, after a roomful of neighbors remonstrate. The annual Twilight Christmas Parade in the Chesterton Downtown kicks off the holiday season.

December

The cause of a BOOM heard in Jackson Township, loud enough to shake homes and activate car alarms, remains a mystery. Wendell and Mary Carlson celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. The Porter County Park Board purchases a 46-acre addition to Brincka-Cross Gardens in Pine Township; the board also buys 63.5 acres between C.R. 605S and C.R. 700S, north of Kouts, for a new park.

The 41st annual Madrigal Dinner is held, sponsored by the CHS Music Department. Eight employees of U.S. Steel Gary Work appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that the company should pay them for the time it takes to don protective gear required by their jobs. The Porter Fire Department’s K-9 partner, Harley, recovers from successful surgery, after eating half a tennis ball.

The FBI seizes more records from Porter County offices: conflict of interest disclosure forms filed by all units of government between 2008 and 2013, from the Clerk’s Office; and bid proposals for unspecified projects between 2010 and 2011, from the Highway Department. The Burns Harbor Town Council pulls the plug on the town’s advanced life support ambulance service and seeks instead a contract with Porter Regional Hospital to staff a rig at the BHFD station.

Frigid temperatures and wind chills prompt the Duneland School Corporation to call a two-hour delay of classes. Parents As Teachers holds its annual Cookies with Mrs. Claus event at the Waterbird Banquet Center. Save the Dunes honors U.S. Geological Survey research scientist Dr. Noel Pavlovic with the Paul H. Douglas Award. The Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals raises Porter Regional Hospital’s assessment from the original value of $34.1 million to $117 million.

The Porter County Commissioners vote unanimously to move County Council Member Jeremy Rivas’ home precinct from the Second District to the Fourth, represented by Republican Jim Polarek; Rivas, a Democrat, says that he was “thrown out” of his district “in a purely political move.” PCSP Sgt. Jeremy Chavez saves a Liberty Township infant’s life by administering CPR, after the girl is found unconscious and not breathing.

The Chesterton/Porter Rotary Club awards Paul Harris Fellowships to Mike and Sharon Grubb. A Republican County caucus elects Stephanie Kuziela to succeed outgoing Chesterton Clerk-Treasurer Gayle Polakowski, who announced her retirement, effective Dec. 31, after 25 years of service. Patricia Dahlin, 79, of East Chicago, dies of injuries sustained in a three-vehicle accident at the intersection of Ind. 49 and C.R. 600N in Liberty Township.

The Chesterton BZA approves a variance allowing the expansion of the St. Patrick Catholic Cemetery but attaches conditions to it. The Chesterton BZA also approves variances allowing the demolition of the 103-year-old Wilbar Manufacturing building off South Calumet Road and its replacement by two townhome duplexes.

A Chesterton resident reports the theft of four rings with a total value of $33,000. Porter County Council Member Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, and four citizens whose voting districts were flipped in the recent redistricting by the County Commissioners file a lawsuit alleging a legal violation because not all districts have contiguous precincts.

 

Posted 12/31/2013