Chesterton Tribune

 

 

2015 Year in Review: State Park banquet center battle, steel crisis

Back To Front Page

 

By KEVIN NEVERS

Duneland’s top story in 2015--unquestionably--was the lease agreement struck by Pavilion Partners LLC with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Call it, for shorthand, the Pavilion story, although it was always less about the Pavilion than about the banquet center which the lease entitles the LLC to build.

Needless to say, the Pavilion story, in all of its hurry-up-and-wait lurchiness, promises to make periodic headlines well into the New Year. In the wane of 2015, folks were wondering pointedly, for instance, what piece of property DNR is looking to acquire, under the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, to swap for the square footage on which Pavilion Partners is going to put the banquet center.

Other questions which the New Year presumably will answer:

Will Chuck Williams’ appeal of the local ABC’s decision to deny the LLC an alcohol permit--later upheld by the IATC--prove successful? Would an unsuccessful appeal force Williams to abandon his plans and if so what provisions would be made by DNR to cover the LLC’s expenses to date? And what would become of the Pavilion itself under those circumstances, gutted as it is and in need of a costly rehab to be made minimally functional?

Meanwhile, when will Cardno JFNew complete its environmental assessment of the Pavilion project--another requirement of the LWCF Act--and what conclusions will it reach?

Finally, inasmuch as the project is behind schedule by at least half a year--a food concession was originally supposed to open on the Pavilion’s ground floor last Memorial Day weekend and the rooftop restaurant sometime later in the 2015 season--will the LLC resume construction at the Pavilion, halted since September?

Steel

The other top story of the year--and for a lot of Dunelanders one that hit them squarely in the pocketbook--was the besiegement of the U.S. steel industry.

The plunge in oil prices--to which U.S. Steel Corporation, with its extensive tubular operations, was especially vulnerable--in conjunction with a record flood of imported foreign steel, driven not only by a strong dollar but, according to USS and ArcelorMittal, by unfair and illegal trade practices, left the domestic steelmakers reeling and hemorrhaging red ink.

Over the first four months of the year USS issued WARN notifications of possible or impending idlings or closures to more than 9,000 employees--about a quarter of its global workforce--roughly 900 of them at the company’s East Chicago tin mill, which it idled, and at the Gary Works coke batteries, which it permanently shuttered. Arcelor brought the total number of regional steelworkers laid off or pink-slipped to more than 1,000, when it idled its East Chicago long carbon facility.

There was more unnerving news in the second half of the year, when USS announced the permanent closure of its Fairfield, Ala., Works steelmaking ops, impacting 1,100; and then the postponement of its electric arc furnace project, also at Fairfield, until such time as the market could sustain it.

In the midst of this crisis the United Steelworkers began negotiating new master contracts with USS and Arcelor, both of which--pointing to the appalling market conditions--went into the talks seeking concessions from the union, especially with respect to healthcare coverage. The Steelworkers’ response: Nuts. No way, the USW said repeatedly, would it fritter away 50 years of hard-fought gains to give the companies a leg up during a temporary downturn.

On Sept. 1 the Steelworkers’ contract expired without a new deal. The union agreed to talk and work. The companies were happy, no doubt, to hear that. So too was anyone who lives in a steel community. Because the alternatives were too awful to think about.

Throughout the fall precious little progress was made, at least none either side was willing to discuss in public. Early in September Arcelor’s team walked away from the table, only to return a couple of weeks later. The union’s USS committee walked in October, went home to the locals, and stayed there well into December. Then, only a week after talks resumed in Pittsburgh--and just before they were set to break for the holidays--the USW and USS announced a tentative agreement, though without revealing any details. How that deal might affect negotiations with Arcelor in the New Year is unclear.

Other News

There were other headlines of interest in 2016:

The FBI continued to make unannounced visits to county offices; the Assessor’s, the Auditor’s, and--reportedly--the Commissioners’.

The East Porter Ave. bridge over Coffee Creek was replaced by the Porter County Highway Department; for the better part of seven months, motorists were forced to thread their way through Morgan Park to get into or out of town.

Urschel Laboratories Inc. officially changed its address to Chesterton. Just north of Urschel’s brand-new plant and HQ, on the other side of Coffee Creek, ground broke on the Symphony of Chesterton, a major assisted living, post-acute care, and rehab facility whose doors should open early in 2016.

Republican Nate Cobbs beat Democrat Scott McCord by a single vote in the race for the open 4th District seat on the Chesterton Town Council. Oh wait, he didn’t, they tied, 401-401.

Meanwhile, a number of long-standing officials stepped down, leaving very large shoes to fill: Paul Gipson, president of USW Local 6787; Phil Baugher, director of the Westchester Public Library; Bob Taylor, coordinator of the Porter County Drug Task Force; and Sharon Darnell, D-4th, for 16 years a member of the Chesterton Town Council.

And there were two grievous losses: Judy Chaplin, owner of Shady Lawn Florists and for years an active member of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, who passed in May; and Jim Bonfield, director of transportation for the Duneland Schools, who was killed in a motorcycle accident in July.

January

Chesterton Tribune reporter Paulene Poparad announces her retirement after 38 years in the business, all but four of them with the Trib. The Chesterton Fire Department blames an overloaded electrical circuit for a house fire in the 200 block of South Calumet Road; bottles of unlabeled chemical found in the house are later taken into custody by hazmat teams for identification and safekeeping.

The season’s first two measurable snowfalls, two days apart, drop maybe five inches on Duneland, but frigid windchill temperatures of -10 to -14 prompt Duneland Schools to cancel classes; two days later the windchill drops to -31 and classes are canceled again. An Enbridge 68 mitigation grant enables the Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America to buy a 40-acre farm in Pine Township, near Michigan City, for inclusion in its Little Calumet Conservation Area.

A Republican caucus elects Lloyd “Buck” Kittredge to the 2nd District seat on the Chesterton Town Council vacated by the resignation of Jeff Trout, who in December had moved to a home in Chesterton’s 3rd District; meanwhile, filings begin in the Chesterton and Porter municipal primary races. Fire destroys a home on Dodge Court in Jackson Township. Free-falling oil prices prompt U.S. Steel Corporation (USS) to idle tubular operations in Ohio and Texas, impacting 756.

Jeff Trout declares his candidacy for the 3rd District seat on the Chesterton Town Council, currently occupied by his former colleague, fellow Republican Jim Ton; Ton, for his part, files for re-election. Bary and Robbin Bostic of Michigan City, who admitted stealing more than $100,000 from an elderly blind Chesterton widow, petition the court to lower their monthly restitution; he owes $110,230, she $52,690, but they’ve paid less than 2 percent of the restitution owed to date; apparently it’s hard for convicted felons with only high school educations to get good-paying jobs.

The Duneland School Board changes its policy to permit public comment at board meetings, but only on items of new business on the agenda; the board calls it “patron participation.” Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds names Det. Com. Jeff Biggs his Chief Deputy. Report: the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor set a cargo-handling record in 2014, with a 30-percent year-over-year increase in total tonnage, a 35-percent increase in ocean-going vessels, and a 25-percent increase in river barges.

Study: first-time use of marijuana and heroin between sixth- and eighth-grade spikes in Porter County by 600 percent, according to the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at IU’s School of Public Health. Sam Stemler of Boy Scout Troop 928 earns his Eagle Scout rank. Gary M. Pilipovich, 30, a resident of the home in the 200 block of South Calumet Road damaged in a New Year’s Day fire, is charged with possession of an explosive device, after bags of ammonium nitrate are found in his residence; Pilipovich is a Lake County Sheriff’s Police officer on paid leave, put there after he was arrested on multiple drug charges in Portage in 2012.

For the first time in Chesterton Middle School history, three eighth-graders will represent the school in the 2015 Indiana Junior All-State Band: Madison Ghoreishi, Madeline Joesten, and Holly Kittredge.

Melinda Lindsey, 23, is fatally shot in her home on Ind. 149 in Center Township. Tyler Potter, 19, of Michigan City, is killed when the unlicensed driver of a car in which Potter is riding crashes into a tree in Pine Township; the driver is not identified; the Porter County Sheriff’s Police blames speed, alcohol, and illegal drugs.

Justice Eiden of Chesterton earns his Eagle Scout rank. The Porter County Commissioners hear the conclusion of a consultant’s study: three of the four sites in the county large enough and suitably located for a $17-million softball / baseball / soccer / football facility are in Duneland.

USS idles its East Chicago tin mill and announces the permanent closure of the Granite City Works coke facility, impacting 545. ArcelorMittal idles the East Chicago long carbon facility, impacting 300. USS announces a “temporary adjustment in operations” at two more tubular facilities in Texas and Alabama; the company blames the plunge in oil prices and a spike in cheap imports.

USS posts a net income of $102 million in 2014 or 69 cents per diluted share; the company attributes its best year since 2008 to the belt-tightening strategy dubbed the “Carnegie Way.” The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission authorizes Indiana American Water Company (IAWC) to implement an 11.5-percent rate hike, less than the 17-percent hike sought by the company, as part of a settlement agreement with the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor; under that agreement, IAWC is banned from filing any new general rate case until 2018.

John Marshall, president of 1st American Management Company, is installed as the Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s 2015 Chair. The Chesterton High School Sandpipers win first place in the Large Mixed Division at the Silver Spotlight Invitational at Fishers HS; the Drifters take the third runner-up’s trophy in the Women’s Division. The PCSP reports that property crime hit a 10-year low in the unincorporated townships in 2014; meanwhile, there was a downtick in traffic enforcement and an uptick in traffic accidents.

February

The CHS debate team wins the district championship and qualifies 10 for the NSDA national tournament in Dallas, Texas, in June: Abby Burke, Eric Zhong, Matt Eggers, Nathan Burris, Savannah Tipton, Eric Richardson, Tim Vincent, Joel Patterson, Katherine Bolek, and Nadio Mario. Seventeen inches of white wet cement fall in the season’s first significant snow event; Street Commissioner puts the cost of clearing it at $1,000 per inch in man-hours and materials.

The Duneland School Board reports that the district is receiving ADM support of $5,211 per student in academic year 2014-15, compared to average ADM support of $5,736 per student for conventional public schools and $6,567 for charter schools. CHS senior Emma Stricker and Rob St. Pierre are elected the 2015 basketball homecoming queen and king. Retiring at the end of the school year are Jackson Elementary fourth-grade teacher Deborah Pope, with 41 years’ service; CHS social studies teacher Linda Curry, with 21 years’; and Yost Elementary art teacher Pam Adamik, with 16.5 years’.

Sheriff Dave Reynolds creates the Heroin Overdose Response Team, tasked with investigating all ODs for the purpose of identifying, arresting, and prosecuting those responsible for providing heroin to the OD victims. The CHS debate team wins back-to-back state titles, squeaking by West Lafayette HS 89 to 87.5; Abby Burke is named winner of the IHSFA Brittain Award for Mental Attitude.

CHS ninth-grader Kari LaFreniere serves as an Indiana House Page during the General Assembly’s 2015 session. Dave Kasarda is named the Duneland Family YMCA’s new executive director; he brings nearly 30 years of Y experience to the job. Beverly Mitchell, 47, of Porter, is sentenced to four years of formal probation after she pleads guilty to battery; in September 2011 Mitchell fatally shot her ex-husband, Donald Crouse, after she said he became physically abusive to her while staying in her home on Michigami Trail.

Steven Lee Lindsey, 35, now living in Jackson Township, is charged with the murder of his wife, Melinda Lindsey, 23, in their Center Township home in January; Lindsey says the murder was committed by an intruder who first subdued him, then shot Melinda. The Chesterton Stormwater Management Board buys a new streetsweeper for $182,175, paying cash on the barrel. ArcelorMittal posts a net loss in 2014 of $1.086 billion or 61 cents per share, a big improvement over tthe company’s 2013 net loss of $2.545 billion or $1.46 per share.

NiSource Inc. posts net revenue in 2014 of $530 million or $1.68 per share, compared to $532.1 million or $1.70 in 2013. The Duneland School Board votes to issue a $7.5-million general obligation bond to finance building and grounds projects; the owner of a $150,000 house will pay, beginning in 2016, $6.98 more per year to service the Duneland Schools’ debt; the bond will finance asphalt work at each school, CHS stadium repairs, CHS and CMS building control upgrades, and the purchase of back-up generator for CHS.

CHS ninth-grader Rachel Fredenburg wins the Indiana Bookmark Contest, sponsored by the Geography Educators Network of Indiana. Chesterton sets an apparent record low for Feb. 19 of -2 (with a -21 windchill), according to Intellicast.com; Duneland Schools calls a two-hour delay. The CHS Japanese Olympiad team wins the state title in the second- and fourth-year divisions and third place in the third-year division; since its establishment the CHS Japan Bowl/Japanese Olympiad program has won 18 state championships and three national championships.

CMS seventh-grader Blake Fletcher serves as an Indiana House Page in the General Assembly’s 2015 session. The CHS Sandpipers are named Grand Champion at the Show Choir Invitational at El Paso-Gridley HS in El Paso, Ill. USS announces the permanent closure of the Gary Works coke facility, impacting 300, one month after the company decides to shutter the Granite City coke facility.

The gutting of the Pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park commences; the Department of Natural Resources reports that Pavilion Partners LLC will be putting a fine-dining restaurant inside and on top of the Pavilion and building a banquet center just to the east of it; the LLC’s spokesperson, Deb Butterfield, says that the Pavilion’s rooftop restaurant should be completed sometime in 2015.

March

The Westchester Intermediate School Math Bowl team wins its division at the annual Purdue University M.A.T.H. Bowl at Boone Grove HS, with 27 out of a possible 32 points, the highest total at the contest site and the 14th highest total throughout the state. The annual Maple Sugar Time is held at the Chellberg Farm site at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Porter County Commissioners vote to increase the jail inmate booking fee from $25 to $75.

Porter native Rosina (Rose) Rosetti Davison Schubert celebrates her 100th birthday. Clayton Gatewood of the Hoosier Daddy racing motorcycle land speed team is awarded the 2014 American Motorcyclist Association’s National No. 1 plate for his class at the Bonneville speed trial; sponsored by Harley-Davidson, Gatewood hit a speed of 92.427 mph.

The Porter County Park Board gives its preliminary okay to a deer bow-hunting program in isolated areas of three of its properties: Brincka-Cross Gardens, Brookdale Park, and the former DOC farm in Pine Township; the Park Board also agrees to purchase ducks, turkeys, and rabbits for Sunset Hill Farm Park.

The CHS Jazz Band is awarded Superior Gold at the annual ISSMA Jazz Festival at LaPorte HS. The CHS Winter Guard wins top honors in the Open Class at the Midwest Color Guard Invitational at Lake Park HS in Roselle, Ill. CMS seventh-grader Ben Hoham and Discovery Charter School eighth-grader Liam Monroe are state semifinalists in the National Geographic Society’s 2015 Indiana National Geographic State Bee.

Taking second overall in IHSFA sectional competition, the CHS speech team qualifies 32 of 39 for the state tourney in Indianapolis. The CHS Drifters are named Champion of the Women’s Division, the Show Choir Band is named Best Band, and the Sandpipers are first runner-up in the Large Mixed Division, at the Lawrence North Midwest Vocal Showcase.

The Indiana Division of the Izaak Walton League of America is the first organization to go on the record in opposition to a planned banquet center at Indiana Dunes State Park beach; while voicing support for the rehab of the Pavilion, Porter County Chapter President Jim Sweeney is unwilling “to trade some of the public beach for a private conference center.”

IFM Investors of Australia enter into an agreement to buy the 75-year lease from the bankrupt Indiana Toll Road (ITR) Concession Company for $5.725 billion; meanwhile, top ITR execs share $2.45 million in bonuses. USS announces the permanent layoff of 83 probationary employees at Gary Works, in a move which the company says reflects “market conditions and operational requirements.”

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District debuts the South Shore commuter line’s new limited-stop Sunrise Express service between South Bend and Chicago; the Dune Park to Millennium run is cut to just under an hour, 20 minutes faster than the current fastest run. Report: the Mt. Baldy site at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will remain closed as the dune-hole investigation continues. The CHS speech team qualifies nine for the NSDA national tournament in Dallas, Texas, in June: Carley Lowe, Emily Coleman, Ayesha Khan, Lexi Justak, Izzy Portugal, Michael Stone, Galen Wong, Hayden Hodge, and Sam Lee.

Donald Gish, 59, of Liberty Township, is killed after losing control of his pickup truck on U.S. Highway 20 near C.R. 200E. The St. Patrick Catholic School’s Science Olympiad team qualifies in regional competition for the state tournament.

Pavilion Partners LLC releases the names of its principals: Valparaiso businessman Chuck Williams; Tom Collins Jr., senior vice-president of Luke Oil; Ryan Richardson of County Line Orchard, which is owned by Luke Oil; Peter Kaiafas, owner of Avalon Manor in Merrillville; and project architect Scott Virtue. The LLC’s timeline: comfort stations to open by Memorial Day; the rooftop restaurant to open sometime during the 2015 season; the second-floor Pavilion restaurant and the banquet center to open sometime during the 2016 season.

The Porter Board of Zoning Appeals grants a use permit to Seven Peaks Waterpark allowing year-round paintball, electric go-carts, and ice-skating. Mitchell Smith, 14, of Chesterton, earns his Eagle Scout rank. The Shirley Heinze Land Trust unveils its first-ever capital campaign--“Take a Walk with Shirley”--the goal of which is to raise $3.5 million to continue its mission of protecting important habitats in Northwest Indiana. The Chesterton Police Department reports that 2014 saw the department’s third highest number ever of calls for service, which is likely why total traffic stops dropped by 26 percent.

The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission awards the Town of Chesterton a $120,000 grant for Phase II of the Westchester-Liberty Trail, in addition to two previous grants, of $405,000 and $547,000. East Porter Ave. between South Calumet Road and Ind. 49 is closed to through-traffic for the duration--at least until October--as the Porter County Highway Department begins its replacement of the bridge over Coffee Creek, just west of Chesterton Cemetery.

USS announces the possible idling of Granite City Works, impacting 2,080. The Indiana Supreme Court upholds the murder conviction and sentence of Dustin McCowan, found guilty of fatally shooting Amanda Bach at his home in Union Township in September 2011. The CMS Science Olympiad team takes second place at the state tournament at IU in Bloomington, in a field of 30 qualifying teams. The CHS speech team takes third place at the IHSFA state tournament in Indianapolis.

Save the Dunes cites a “lack of transparency” in Pavilion Partners LLC’s plans to build a banquet center at Indiana Dunes State Park beach but takes no position, pending an open house hosted by the DNR scheduled for April.

April

Indiana American Water Company ends bimonthly billing; going forward, customers will receive 12 statements a year. USA Today readers pick Indiana Dunes State Park as the seventh best state park in the nation; the Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America is quick to note that Dunes State Park is the seventh best in the nation without a banquet center.

The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway’s 57th shipping season opens. Gregory J. Sebahar, 53, of Schererville, is found dead at the bottom of an elevator shaft at ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor mill; Sebahar was an employee of a private contractor, KONE Elevators & Escalators of Chicago. Ground breaks at Coffee Creek Center on the Symphony of Chesterton, an assisted living, post-acute care, and rehabilitation facility.

A large crowd attends an open house at the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center to ask questions and get answers from the DNR on its lease with Pavilion Partners LLC; many criticize the format, under which only reporters have the undivided attention of DNR Director Cameron Clark and Director of State Parks & Reservoirs Dan Bortner; when asked by a Chesterton Tribune reporter why the DNR made banquet service a minimal expectation in its prospectus, Bortner says that over the years many folks have expressed an interest in getting married on the beach; the day after the open house, Save the Dunes joins the Ikes in objecting to the lease arrangement and urges the DNR to stop construction pending a full public discussion of the project.

Bob Urschel, former president of Urschel Laboratories Inc., donates a nine-foot concert Steinway & Sons piano to CHS; a special concert is planned for the fall to debut the Steinway. The Porter County Commissioners name Pamela Courtney as the county’s new human resources director; she formerly served as the HR director of Ottawa County, Ohio. CHS junior Brooke Sauter is the best Live Radio News Anchor and the best Live TV News Anchor in the 12th annual IASB competition in Indianapolis.

The Burns Harbor Town Council grants three separate 10-year tax abatements to ArcelorMittal for $51.2 million worth of projects planned for the next two years. The Indiana Court of Appeals quashes part of NIPSCO’s $1.2-billion seven-year electric modernization program, saying that the IURC erred in approving the program without knowing specific details about the projects planned for the final six years. The Westchester Public Library Board taps Thomas branch librarian Leea Yelich to succeed the retiring Phil Baugher as WPL director.

Dunes Action!, a grass-roots citizens group, is organized to launch a petition campaign opposing Pavilion Partners LLC’s plans to build a banquet center at Indiana Dunes State Park beach; it collects 1,200 signatures in the first week. Chesterton Town Council Member Jim Ton identifies himself as a member of the other, not-for-profit, group which responded to the DNR’s prospectus, and voices concerns at a council meeting about the transparency of the process by which the DNR reviewed the two proposals.

The DNR holds a second public session on the Pavilion project, in response to criticism of the open house; two persons speak in favor of the banquet center; somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 speak in opposition to it; DNR Director of State Parks Dan Bortner says, in all candor, that public input was not solicited prior to the DNR’s inking the lease with Pavilion Partners LLC because “we felt we would never get to that if we started out with public meetings”; Bortner adds, “We don’t allow pubic hearings (on concession agreements), we can’t manage by committee.”

Wanda Maxine Wunder, 94, dies in a fire in her Ogden Dunes home. The Porter County Election Board votes 2-1 to order electronic poll books for the municipal primary election in May; the Republican members out-vote the Democrat, Kathy Kozuszek. The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor opens its international shipping season the way it usually does, with the arrival of a saltie loaded with imported foreign steel, in this case the M/V Irma, carrying 9,400 tons of steel coils loaded in Holland.

Michael P. Clemens, 20, of Chesterton, is charged with intimidation and false reporting in connection with a hostage hoax which shut down the Valparaiso University campus and prompted a massive police response. The Porter County Commissioners dismiss Animal Shelter director Jon Thomas; Commissioner Laura Blaney, D-South, says she can’t discuss Thomas’ termination because personnel issues are confidential.

After serving more than 30 years as president of United Steelworkers Local 6787, Paul Gipson opts not to run for re-election; he’s succeeded by his long-time vice-president, Pete Trinidad Sr., who runs unopposed for the office. Some 500 volunteers pick up hammers and rakes and converge on 13 homes and four community sites as part of the annual Rebuilding Together Duneland. St. Pat’s Catholic School and Jackson Elementary are named Four-Star Schools by Indiana Superintendent of Public Education Glenda Ritz.

USS posts a first-quarter net loss of $75 million or 52 cents per diluted share; the company cites a flood of cheap imported steel in a bleak report. Seth Fickel of Boy Scout Troop 998 earns his Eagle Scout rank.

May

Report: over the first four months of the year, more than 9,000 USS employees--about a quarter of the company’s global workforce--receive WARN notifications of impending or potential layoffs or idlings. In the Chesterton municipal primary election, incumbent Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, easily survives the challenge of his former colleague, Jeff Trout; Republican Nate Cobbs beats Kevin Jakel in the 4th District race; and Democrat Dane Lafata beats Rory McMahan in the 3rd District race. In the Porter municipal primary election, incumbent Clerk-Treasurer Carol Pomeroy fends off the challenge of fellow Republican Zathoe Sexton.

Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, pushes for a healthcare deductible in 2016 three times higher for employees who don’t participate in the county’s wellness program. ArcelorMittal posts a first-quarter net loss of $728 million or 41 cents per share. A new exhibit opens at the Westchester Township History Museum: “Lost to Time: Duneland Ghost Towns.”

The Hoosier Environmental Council, the Hoosier Sierra Club, and the Citizens Action Coalition pile on, releasing a joint statement opposing a banquet center at Indiana Dunes State Park beach.

CHS seniors Abigail Burke and Alisha Dziarski are National Merit Scholarship winners. The Chesterton Town Council rejects all seven bids for a new fire engine after several bidders confuse the specs.

Chesterton Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, urges his colleagues to take a stand on the DNR’s lease with Pavilion Partners LLC, specifically with respect to the issue of transparency and that of the appropriateness of a banquet center at Indiana Dunes State Park beach.

ArcelorMittal closes its Georgetown, S.C., wire rod plant, impacting 226; the company says it can’t compete with what it calls unfairly traded foreign wire. USS lays off another 285 more workers, both represented and salaried, at Gary Works.

After representing the Town of Burns Harbor for 43 years, attorney Bob Welsh of Harris Welsh & Lukmann--on behalf of the whole firm--resigns. A NorthShore Health Center facility opens at 407 W. Indiana Ave., the former home of Lakeside Wealth Management, to serve Duneland’s un- and under-insured. CHS head baseball coach Jack Campbell notches his 700th career victory with a 2-1 win over Highland HS.

Korey Izynski, 19, of Porter, is sentenced to time served after pleading guilty to theft, with the understanding that he will testify against Thomas Reichler, accused of fatally shooting Portage resident Alex Tapia with a handgun which police say Izynski stole four days earlier from an unlocked car in Chesterton. The Porter County Election Board once again split-votes 2-1 to certify the results of the primary election, in which electronic poll books were used; Democrat Kathy Kozuszek refuses to certify because of a discrepancy between the number of ballots counted by the tabulation machines, 10,618, and the number of voters who signed the poll books, 10,284.

At the 33rd annual WDSO Awards Night, Sean Virden is named Most Outstanding DJ, Brooke Sauter Most Outstanding Newscaster, and Laura Hoover Most Outstanding Sportscaster. CHS reporter Gregory Mochen is the recipient of the Warren R. Canright Outstanding Senior Journalist Award. The Porter BZA votes 3-1 to extend some deadlines by which Seven Peaks Waterpark must complete a stormwater pollution prevention plan, implement drainage controls, reconfigure the parking lot, and install fencing.

Report: the Karner blue butterfly is not observed this spring at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, leading U.S. Geological Survey ecologist Ralph Grundel to speculate that the Dunes’ population may have perished from a loss of the wild lupine plant, on which the Karner blue caterpillar feeds.

Delays in Pavilion Partners LLC’s construction of a new comfort station at Indiana Dunes State Park beach prompts the DNR to install a line of portable toilets; meanwhile, the Chesterton Town Council opts to take no position on a banquet center but does instruct Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann to draft a letter of inquiry to DNR Director of State Parks Dan Bortner.

Judy Chaplin, owner of Shady Lawn Florist and active in the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, dies at 72.

The Boys and Girls Club of Porter County announces the biggest capital campaign in its history, for a major expansion of its Duneland facility; the goal is $4 million, with nearly $3 million of that sum raised at the time of the BGC’s announcement. Indiana Superintendent of Public Education Glenda Ritz visits the Discovery Charter School.

June

The Izaak Walton League of American asserts that the DNR is violating the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1965, by entering into an agreement with Pavilion Partners LLC to convert public land at Indiana Dunes State Park to private use; the Ikes ask the National Park Service to stop the project.

NICTD’s Board of Directors votes to enact an across-the-board South Shore fare hike to take effect July 1; the hike will increase the price of a ticket from Dunes Park to Millennium by 75 cents or 10.3 percent.

CHS Senior Natalie Petro is the Duneland Exchange Club’s--as well as the Northern Indiana District Exchange Club’s--Youth of the Year. CHS Senior Claire Johnston wins the Duneland Exchange Club’s ACE Award (Accepting the Challenge of Excellence). CHS holds its 125th annual commencement outside, in the football stadium.

Duneland Pizza of Chesterton and The Rolling Stone Baker of Beverly Shores are finalists in Pizza Wars, a contest to crown the best pizza maker in Porter County. The Burns Harbor Town Council names Clay Patton of Osan & Patton as the new town attorney. The Visiting Nurse Association of Porter County sells its home healthcare unit--including skilled nursing care and therapy--to Porter Health Care System Home Health; the VNA will continue to provide in-home and in-patient hospice care.

The Chesterton Woman’s Club holds its 65th annual art show: Fred Holly’s acrylic “It’s About Time” takes Best of Show; Jenn Head’s watercolor “The Gorge” wins first place. The beach access stairs at Lakeview Beach at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Beverly Shores are closed after a washout caused by high waves; the picnic area remains open. The Burns Harbor Fire Department’s ladder truck is damaged in a traffic accident while en route to stand-by duty in Portage.

Chesterton Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, calls the condition of property at 101 and 402 Broadway “an embarrassment” to the town. St. Pat’s Catholic School eighth-graders Julia Miller and Thomas Pampalone are honored with the President’s Award for Academic Excellence. For the second time in less than two weeks, a NIPSCO contractor replacing underground wire in the Chestnut Hill subdivision hits a natural-gas line which the locate company failed to locate.

The annual Relay for Life Duneland is held at the CMS track. Report: accused VU hoaxer Michael Clemens is the victim of someone else’s hoax two days after the VU incident when someone calling himself Michael phones the PCSP land line, gives the Clemens address in Chesterton, and says he’s feeling suicidal and wants to hurt his parents; responding Chesterton Police officers determine that Clemens could not have made the call himself.

Sharon Kish, president of United Way of Chesterton, announces her retirement at the end of the year, after 14 years in the position. A black bear wanders from Michigan across the state line into Indiana; the first seen in the state since 1871, the black bear is spotted in St. Joseph County, then in LaPorte County, then in Michigan City.

The Porter County Alcohol Beverage Commission votes 2-2 in the matter of Pavilion Partners LLC’s liquor permit, needed for alcohol service at the Pavilion restaurants and the banquet center; the LLC’s petition goes to the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to decide. The Porter County Community Foundation purchases 170 naloxone opiate OD rescue kits, enough to issue one to every patrol officer in every police department in the county.

Nate Cobbs is installed as the Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club’s new president; David Hiestand is named Rotarian of the Year; and Bill Dean, Jody Klein, and Dan Amling are presented with Paul Harris Fellowships. The Porter County Commissioners refuse to comment on reports that the FBI visited their offices, on the advice of County Attorney Betty Knight.

Report: the Pavilion project is subject to the regulations of the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act, which would mean that any public land converted to private use would have to be replaced with a purchase of new public land; the LWCF would also require the DNR to conduct an environmental assessment of the project.

An electric vehicle charging station is installed on Broadway in the Chesterton Downtown; NIPSCO provides the $7,000 station free of charge, after the town undertakes to pay half the cost of installation. The Porter Health Care System reports a workforce reduction of 70 employees or 3 percent, “to align resources and support the most utilized and growing clinical areas.” Dena Wright and Dan Gresham win an $18.7-million Hoosier Lotto jackpot with a ticket bought at the Red Carpet Smoke Shop on Broadway; they elect to receive their winnings as a 30-year annuity, not in an $11.6-million pre-tax lump-sum payment.

The Chesterton Town Council votes to increase the Utility Superintendent’s salary by 18 percent, bumping Super I from $72,100 to $85,000, to attract more qualified candidates to replace the current superintendent, Terry Atherton, who plans to retire in December; the Utility Service Board subsequently gives the nod to Dave Ryan, like Atherton a veteran of Indiana American Water Company. The CHS speech and debate team wins the School of Honor Award at the NSDA national tournament in Dallas, Texas, presented to those schools which rank 40th to 21st in the country.

The Midsummer Solstice is celebrated at Chellberg Farm. Porter County Storm, Babe Ruth Baseball 16-18, retires the late Coach Alex Miloshoff’s No. 36. Porter Police officers Marty Gonzalez and Scott Cornelison; Indiana Dunes State Park lifeguards Sean Partart, Jon Arlow, and Evan Mazurkiewicz; and citizens Joel Poling, Eli Muller, and Sarah Drexler save the lives of three girls drowning at Porter Beach.

July

Gregory Mochen, CHS 2015 and Sandscript editor-in-chief, wins second place in the Hoosier High School Columnist Contest for his column “Tobacco outside of school none of school’s business.” The Rev. David Pearson is the new priest at Saint Francis Episcopal Church in Chesterton. The Chesterton Stormwater Utility, the Porter Public Works Department, and the Porter Park Department hold the first Kids Fishing Derby at Indian Springs Park; more than 30 perch and bluegill are caught.

Frontline Foundations Inc., the substance abuse treatment center headquartered in Chesterton, closes its Valparaiso location in a centralizing move. PCSP Officer Paul Czupryn goes on a wild ride at Valplayso, hanging onto the outside of a speeding Jeep and succeeding in keeping its driver from crashing into a crowd of people waiting for an Independence Day fireworks show to begin; Spencer T. Sovich, 20, of Valparaiso, is charged with OWI, criminal recklessness, resisting law enforcement, and minor consumption of alcohol, while Czupryn is honored for his heroism by Sheriff Dave Reynolds.

Five in Boy Scout Troop 929 earn their Eagle Scout rank: Trevor VanNostren, Damien Thomas, Micah Nord, Jordan Sweet, and Michael Smith. Report: South Shore commuters spend 85 percent less than Northwest Indiana residents who drive to work in Chicago, a finding which is the centerpiece of NICTD’s “Life is Hard, The Train is Easy” campaign. Indiana Dunes State Park officials seek volunteers to help clear beaver dams which are causing the flooding of the Trail 2 boardwalk.

The Town of Porter is No. 18 on the list of Top 30 Safest Cities in Indiana, compiled by Safewise.com, a clearinghouse of information on home security. One-hundred Burns Harbor residents attending a presentation by master development and revitalization consultant LiveWorkLearnPlay hear that “Burns Harbor can be an iconic small town, maintain its charm, and have a bright future” but that it will depend on the “care quotient” of those who want to see it succeed.

The CPD re-organizes: Capt. Dave Lohse is named assistant police chief and Sgt. Chris Swickard is tasked to Chesterton High School as the CPD’s second school resource officer. Large waves buffeting the shoreline erode what little is left of the Central Ave. Beach at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in Beverly Shores; the continuing high-water levels of Lake Michigan make the beach’s re-opening anytime soon unlikely.

INDOT emergency-patches the badly potholed Ind. 49 in Chesterton, in advance of a complete re-surfacing of Ind. 49 between I-94 and the Indiana Toll Road on tap for 2016. Dunes Action! objects to the rules on public input set by the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Center prior to a meeting at which Pavilion Partners LLC is scheduled to make a presentation. The Northwest Indiana Forum endorses a banquet center and calls Indiana Dunes State Park beach an “under-utilized asset.”

The property-tax circuit breaker--under which a property owner’s tax liability is limited to 1, 2, or 3 percent of the property’s gross AV--is tripped in the Town of Chesterton, leading to a 10.5-percent reduction of the town’s general fund. The Chesterton Town Council is hit by sticker shock, when members discover that the true cost of the animal control service provided by the PCSP isn’t $3,120--an amount they’d already approved--but actually $31,120.

Before a standing room only crowd at the Memorial Opera House, the PCCRVC votes 7-1 to endorse a banquet center at Indiana Dunes State Park beach; Member Jesse Harper’s is the only No vote, while Member Chuck Williams, a Pavilion Partners LLC principal, recuses himself; meanwhile, Peter Kaiafas, owner of the Avalon in Merrillville and also an LLC principal, dissolves his relationship with the partnership.

Jim Bonfield, director of transportation for the Duneland Schools, dies in a motorcycle accident while on vacation in Arkansas; his wife, Karla, is seriously injured; Bonfield accepted the position in May 2002, after retiring from the Indiana State Police. The Speedy Mart at 1175 Broadway is robbed at gunpoint in the early morning hours. The Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission kicks Pavilion Partners LLC’s petition back to the local ABC with instructions to convene a “complete hearing” on the matter, after noting that it had received 264 emails in opposition to the petition and four in favor of it.

The Duneland Chamber of Commerce holds its annual awards luncheon: Laurie Wehner-Evans and the late Judy Chaplin, the 2015 Duneland Distinguished Women; Jerry Ruge, Golden Achievement; Lori St. Pierre, Humanitarian of the Year; and Bruce Mathias, Volunteer of the Year. Felix Duron, 27, is sentenced to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to neglect of a dependent, in connection with the death of his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son, Bently Mihal of Chesterton; Duron admits to shaking the boy in a fit of anger, then telling the police Bently fell off the trampoline.

USS posts a second-quarter net loss of $261 million or $1.79 per diluted share. The Porter County Council votes to retain the 10-year tax abatement granted to Porter Regional Hospital, although President Dan Whitten, D-at large, promises that he will vote to rescind the abatement if the hospital fails to honor its hiring commitments; the abatement will save PRH around $12 million over its lifetime.

Herb and Charlotte Read are honored by the Izaak Walton League of America with the 54 Founders Award for their work on behalf of the Dunes. Burns Harbor Town Council Member Greg Miller resigns his seat after moving to Valparaiso; Porter County Democrat Chair David Chidester appoints Eric Hull to fill the seat.

August

The Waters of Duneland on Beverly Drive changes its name to Chesterton Manor, after its former management company, Infinity Health Care Management, is succeeded as of Aug. 1 by Ide Management Group. The 57th annual Chesterton Art Fair is held at Hawthorne Park in Porter. The NICTD Board of Directors approves a pilot program under which three older rail cars will be equipped with bicycle racks; beginning in April 2016, two of the three cars will run on a normal weekend schedule from South Bend to Chicago, but the trains will only stop at high-level platforms for the ease and safety of bicyclists.

Chase Froese of Carol Stream, Ill., 20, drowns in high waves at Porter Beach at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. ArcelorMittal posts a second-quarter net income of $179 million or 10 per share. Report: about 1,220 fewer Hoosiers and 330 more out-of-state residents have been accepted at Purdue University since the school froze tuition at 2012 levels. NiSource reports a second-quarter net loss of $36.4 million or 11 cents per share.

The Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America buys 49 acres from Sandra Bedenkop at 1167N 575E in Jackson Township, with assistance from The Conservation Fund, among others. The FBI seeks documents from the Porter County Assessor’s Office related to the AV appeals of commercial property between 2012 and 2013. Babapaloosa, hosted by the Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club and benefiting Eric Bouchard’s See Change Foundation, is a huge success at Sunset Hill Farm Park.

The Post-Tribune reports: emails obtained by Dunes Action! show that the DNR and Pavilion Partners LLC principals discussed the Pavilion project before the DNR released its prospectus. The United Steelworkers accuses both ArcelorMittal and USS of trying to force large concessions on the membership--in particular, “sweeping cuts” in benefits--as the deadline to reach a new collective bargaining agreement rapidly approaches.

The inaugural edition of the Northwest Regional Sheriff’s Camp at Indiana Dunes State Park introduces 57 day campers to law enforcement. The FBI visits the Porter County Auditor’s Office; Auditor Vicki Urbanik confirms that an agent did speak to her staff but doesn’t disclose the topic of the conversation. Eclipse Performing Arts dancers take the National Champion title at the World Series of Dance in Virginia Beach, Va, in five different divisions.

The Porter Town Council votes to modify a ban on dogs at Porter Beach: dogs are now allowed on the beach west of State Street. The Town of Burns Harbor is recognized by the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns for “outstanding achievement, successful innovation, and steady leadership in municipal government.” Maria S. Contreras, 45, of Portage, is shot to death by her estranged husband, Miguel, who then fatally shoots himself. Tom and Candy Davison, formerly of Chesterton, celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

CPD Officer Erik Herbert is honored for using CPR to save the life of a man suffering a cardiac event; Herbert was off duty at the time but driving his marked squad car in Portage when he was flagged down. USS announces the permanent closure of the Fairfield, Ala., Works, impacting 1,100. The winners of the Democrat town convention in Burns Harbor: Craig Barnes, Eric Hull, Raymond Poparad, Marcus Rogala Sr., and Nathan Tumblin; ousted were incumbents Gene Weibl and Jim McGee.

The property immediately west of Gelsosomo’s Pizzeria on Indian Boundary Road is clear-cut by its new owner, Aetna Development Corporation of Chicago, for a new strip mall to be occupied by a Dollar Tree and an auto parts store. The Duneland Schools begin the 2015-16 academic year without a hitch. The Porter BZA gives Seven Peaks Waterpark a month to fix a drainage issue, after a delay in getting engineering plans from the Duneland Group prompts the park to try--without success--to remedy the problem in-house.

The PCCRVC dedicates a section of the gardens at the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center to the late Judy Chaplin. The USW recalls its history at a rally in Gary, one week before its contract with ArcelorMittal and USS expires. A member of USW Local 6787, Kenneth Gish, 61, of Wanatah, dies in a fall at the BOF at ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor facility.

The William G. and Margaret E. Tilden Memorial Garden is dedicated at a formal ribbon-cutting at Hawthorne Park. The 2015 Lieutenant Governor’s Hoosier Hospitality Award is awarded posthumously to Judy Chaplin. Chesterton Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg earns his Master Road Builder certificate through the Indiana Local Technical Assistance Program at Purdue University.

Indiana Dunes State Park celebrates its 90th birthday with cake on the beach. The Chesterton BZA grants a variance permitting an 85-foot “monopine”--a cell tower designed improbably to resemble a tree--at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, over the objections of its neighbors in the Rose Hill Estates subdivision. Report: Porter County’s total assessed valuation for real and personal property rises to $8.96 billion in 2015, an increase of nearly $300 million over the 2016 AV. A ribbon-slicing, -dicing, -milling, -stripping ceremony is held at the new global headquarters of Urschel Laboratories Inc. at Coffee Creek Center.

September

Negotiators with the USW and ArcelorMittal and USS fail to reach a new basic labor agreement by the Sept. 1 deadline; the union agrees to talk and work as negotiations with both companies continue; meanwhile, thousands of Steelworkers march from the Local 6787 union hall to the East Gate in a show of solidarity.

Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas makes race an issue after a Burns Harbor Police officer working a gang task force arrests a former VU athlete who refuses to identify himself following a traffic stop in Valparaiso; Burns Harbor Police Chief Mike Heckman, Sheriff Dave Reynolds and Fraternal Order of Police lodges 165 and 152 vigorously defend the officer.

Chesterton Moose Lodge 162 and Women of the Moose 846 each donate $668.50 to the CPD for the outfitting of each officer with a tactical “go-bag.” Seven CHS seniors are National Merit Scholarship semifinalists: Christine Craig, Keely Ellman, Jared Gallina, Frederic Owens, Joel Peterson, Nathan Poczekay, and Hunter Warren; also a semifinalist is Jackson Township homeschooler Adam Chesak.

USW Local 6787 rallies at dawn: “No contract, no peace.” The Porter County ABC votes 3-1 against Pavilion Partners LLC’s petition for an alcohol permit; changing his vote from a Yes to a No is Ralph Levi; over 500 attend a public hearing on the petition held at the Porter County Expo Center.

ArcelorMittal walks away from the bargaining table, after the USW submits a “comprehensive proposal” which it says will meet members’ needs but save the company “millions in expenses and liabilities”; the USW and USS are still talking but committee remembers return home to consult with their locals. CHS Trojan Guard wins the Open Class “A” competition in its season opener at the Goshen HS Crimson Invitational.

The Chesterton Town Council enacts an abandoned building registry, triggered by vacant buildings in ongoing, unremedied code violation or delinquent in their property taxes. The Duneland Resale Shop celebrates its sixth year at 801 Broadway. Arson is the likely cause of a fire which destroys an old Jackson Township barn and outbuilding on 1050N, the Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department says. The Porter County Commissioners approve a trap-and-neuter-and-release program for feral cats.

Lindsey Proper, 33, of Chesterton, dies after her vehicle hits the guard rail on the Indiana Toll Road. CPD Cpl. Joe Kantowski is arrested after his wife accuses him of pointing a handgun at her in the course of an argument; Kantowski is placed on administrative leave without pay. The Indiana Secretary of State’s Office blames humans, not electronic poll books, for technical problems reported in May’s municipal primary election.

The National Park Service announces a Youth Art and Poetry Contest to celebrate Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s 50th anniversary in 2016. The USW announces that ArcelorMittal is returning to the bargaining table and contract talks will resume. Sixty chalk artists--nearly double last year’s number--participate in the fourth annual Hooked on Art Festival in Downtown Chesterton, benefiting Frontline Foundations Inc.

The Chesterton Town Council endorses Gastro 49’s petition for a “riverfront district” alcohol license. It’s become obvious that a burglar has been targeting businesses along the Indian Boundary Road/Calumet Road commercial corridor since at least July: among the victims are Verizon Wireless, Kathy’s Antique Store, McGue Dentistry, Zale Eye Center, Spike & Buddy’s and Di la Bella Salon. Display cases to house memorabilia of Chesterton High School’s 125-year history are built by Jeff Larson’s students and funded by the children of the Duneland Schools’ two attorneys, Mox Ruge and Mike Harris.

October

A Porter County mosquito pool tests positive for the West Nile virus, the first positive result in the county this year. NIPSCO seeks the IURC’s authority to implement an 11.5-percent electric rate hike, which would increase the average household’s monthly bill from $91.63 to $102.53. The International Longshoremen’s Association Local 2038 ratifies a new contract with the Russian-owned NLMK Indiana--the old Beta Steel--after its 275 members at the plant in Portage work without a new contract for nearly two months after the old one expired on July 1.

USW President Leo Gerard blasts the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact: it “threatens the future of production and employment” and would “deal a critical blow to workers and their standard of living in the United States.” Lia Lombardini and Nate Dawson are elected queen and king of the CHS fall homecoming. Report: a pilot Wi-Fi program on select South Shore commuter trains is proving popular. The Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission finds that the local ABC did not act arbitrarily or capriciously in denying a liquor permit for Pavilion Partners LLC and accordingly upholds the body’s decision to reject the petition; the LLC has 15 days to appeal.

ArcelorMittal announces, in response to media inquiries, that it is re-assessing its USA “footprint” with regard to an “asset optimization plan” but that no final decision has been made. NIPSCO projects lower winter heating bills this season; the average household is expected to pay $344.94, compared to the $495.15 last winter. Mona Purdy of Share Your Soles is the keynote speaker at the 14th annual Duneland Community Prayer Breakfast.

The Westchester Horseshoe League holds its awards banquet at which many are honored, including the late Carol La Tour, who was instrumental in creating the women’s horseshoe league. The construction crew at the Pavilion removes its equipment and construction fencing and breaks camp, while an environmental assessment of the project is conducted. The Republican candidate for the 3rd District seat on the Chesterton Town Council, Aaron Adcock, withdraws from the race; the Democrat candidate, Dane Lafata, wins by default.

The USW reports something like progress with ArcelorMittal but something like an impasse with USS. CPD K-9 Kahr undergoes a successful hernia surgery. The Chesterton Town Council approves a $1.2-million park bond to finance, among other things, a splash pad and new playground equipment at Dogwood Park. The Chesterton Town Council also approves amendments to two old PUDs, to greenlight a pair of significant developments: the 346-lot Easton Park subdivision of single-family homes east of 250E; and the 170-unit Conservancy Point high-end apartment complex east of Kelle Drive and south of Rail Road in Coffee Creek Center.

The Duneland School Board names Cathy Forszt as transportation director, to succeed the late Jim Bonfield; Forszt previously served as route coordinator. The Porter Fire Department’s search-and-rescue K-9, Harley, undergoes surgery to correct a birth defect; an outpouring of financial assistance helps Deputy Fire Chief Jay Craig--on the hook himself for the medical bill--to pay the tab. East Porter Ave., and the new bridge over Coffee Creek, opens to through-traffic, one day before the contractual deadline to do so.

Report: the dune-holes on Mt. Baldy at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore are the remnants of a “ghost forest;” 11 holes have been located but there are probably more. Juan Luis Lamarr III, 19, of Hobart, dies after losing control of his vehicle on U.S. Highway 6 in Jackson Township. Jack R. Forbes, 38, of Portage Township, dies after crossing the center line and colliding with a semi-tractor tanker on U.S. 6 in Jackson Township.

The Duneland Historical Society remembers F.M. Goldsborough, who served as principal of the old Westchester (now Chesterton) HS and died while teaching a math class at CHS in 1954.

Pavilion Partners LLC appeals the ITAC’s ruling; principal Chuck Williams tells the AP that the State of Indiana will owe him millions of dollars if setbacks conspire to scuttle his lease agreement with the DNR. Roughly 1.6 new miles of walking trails are opened at Brincka-Cross Gardens, a county park in Pine Township.

Danielle Karczewski, owners of Dimensions School of Social Dance, earns one of the Top Ten Teacher awards at the Chicago Harvest Moon Ball Championship as well as national recognition in one of the oldest dance competitions in the country. The CHS Trojan Guard wins the ISSMA Scholastic Class “A” state championship in Indianapolis. Dean Stainko, 45, of Chesterton, dies in a motorcycle crash on U.S. Highway 20 in Porter.

A consultant’s plan for the Calumet Connection--that stretch of South Calumet Road from Porter Ave. to the Chesterton Post Office--calls for a traffic-calming narrowing of lanes, from 14 to 10 feet. The USW blasts ArcelorMittal for beginning open insurance enrollment without input from the union. Both the Porter and Chesterton town councils nominate Lisa Wodrich to the PCCRVC seat vacated by the death of Judy Chaplin; Wodrich and her husband own Lemon Tree Mediterranean Grill and Third Coast Spice Cafe.

The Porter County Commissioners approve a “design-build” approach to a new animal shelter near the Fairgrounds and Expo Center; the hope is to break ground in the spring of 2016. The USW remains on a break from contract talks with USS. Congress acts to extend the deadline to Dec. 31, 2018, by which railroads must install positive train control; the NICTD Board had previously voted to suspend operations on Jan. 1, 2016, if Congress failed to extend the deadline by the end of this year.

Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris rules the death of Wanda Maxine Wunder, 94--who succumbed in a fire in her home in Ogden Dunes--a homicide; Ogden Dunes Town Marshal Jim Reeder declines to discuss his investigation pending a review by the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. Christopher Glenn Rogers, 50, of Burns Harbor, is sentenced to one year in the Indiana Department of Correction after he pleads guilty to reckless homicide; Roger admitted punching his friend in the parking lot of the Shift Change Tavern, causing his friend to fall to the ground and sustain a fatal head injury.

November

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore celebrates its 49th birthday with a cake party at the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center. NiSource posts a third-quarter net loss of $4.9 million or 2 cents per share. USS posts a third-quarter net loss of $173 million or $1.18 per diluted share.

The result of the Chesterton municipal election: Republican Nate Cobbs beats Democrat Scott McCord in the race for the 4th District seat by a single vote. In Porter the Democrats sweep, with William Lopez upsetting Republican Rob Pomeroy by two votes for the 3rd District seat; Erik Wagner beating Levi Mele for the 1st District seat; and Ross LeBleu beating Kimberly Fowler for the 4th District seat. In Burns Harbor, Republicans Tony Biancardi and Andy Bozak and Democrats Eric Hull, Marcus Rogala Sr., and Ray Poparad are the five top vote-getters, while incumbent Democrat Clerk-Treasurer Jane Jordan beats Republican challenger Timothy Canfield.

Neither McCord in Chesterton nor Pomeroy in Porter expresses an interest in a recount. But wait: four provisional ballots were cast in the Cobbs/McCord race; those four voters have until Nov. 13 to present themselves at Voter Registration with proper identification to make those votes count.

Valparaiso resident Jesse Harper announces his bid for the Democrat nomination to the 4th District seat in the Indiana House, currently held by Republican Ed Soliday. ArcelorMittal posts a third-quarter net loss of $717 million or 40 cents per share. The Prairie Duneland Trail is officially made a part of the designated U.S. Bicycle Route between Illinois and Michigan.

Joshua Williams of Boy Scout Troop 908 earns his Eagle Scout rank. The DNR says that it will winterize the Pavilion after holes in the roof, left by the removal of an old kitchen exhaust apparatus and the installation of a elevator shaft, have been letting rainwater into the building’s interior. The Porter Town Council enacts an off-street parking requirement in the town’s subdivision, to take effect during snow events so that plows and emergency vehicles can more easily access the subdivisions.

CHS/CMS French teacher Jordan Nelson is presented with the Rising Star Award by the Indiana Chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French. The Porter County Election Board certifies all four provisional ballots in the Cobbs/McCord race for the 4th District seat on the Chesterton Town Council, plus one other vote, cast by email by a serving member of the U.S. military; the result--a 401-401 tie, to be broken by the members of the Chesterton Town Council.

The Chesterton Lions Club honors Mariah England with first place in the Peace Poster Contest. The USW remains on a break from contract talks with USS, while the company warns retirees of likely “substantial premium increases” for benefits in 2016. The Chesterton Utility Service Board agrees to provide sanitary sewer service to a 93-lot subdivision at the southeast corner of C.R. 1050N and C.R. 50W in unincorporated Liberty Township, being built by Red Fish Development LLC.

Chesterton Feed & Garden is the latest burglary victim in a rash of forced entries which has continued into the fall; also hit are Lemon Tree and George’s Gyros Spot; during the latter, the suspect is believed to have cut his hand while breaking the drive-through window. The Porter County Commissioners approve a new stormwater fee: agricultural properties will be charged a flat fee of $2.75 per acre per year; any residential property over 20 acres will be charged a fee of $150 per year.

Tiara T. Thomas, 35, is fatally shot in her apartment on Old Porter Road in Portage. Announced: up to 100 members of the CHS orchestra will perform at historic venues in Nashville, Tenn. The NICTD Board mulls a possible fare hike in 2016 to fund capital projects, after an $80-million bond issue floated to finance the positive train control mandate exhausts NICTD’s self-funding capacity.

The Chesterton Town Council votes 3-1 to break the tie for the 4th District seat in Republican Nate Cobbs’ favor; it’s a party-line vote, with Member Nick Walding not in attendance. USS announces the temporary idling of Granite City Works, impacting 2,000. The Chesterton Town Council enacts a 4-percent raise for municipal employees to take effect Jan. 1. The Chesterton branch of the First State Bank of Porter at 429 N. Calumet Road is robbed at gunpoint.

Shirley Ann Walton, 63, dies in a fire in her home in the 800 block of Chestnut Blvd.; the CFD determines the fire to be accidental, caused by an electrical malfunction in the wall. The Duneland Chamber of Commerce holds the annual Twilight Christmas Parade in Downtown Chesterton; as always, Santa rocks the CFD ladder trucks.

December

The Discovery Charter School says it’s set to close on a $7-million bond issue at the end of the month; the proceeds will be used to buy the school property from the Charter Schools Development Corporation, build a 16,720-square foot annex, and consolidate its debt. The Porter County Commissioners ratify the nomination of Lisa Wodrich to the Duneland seat on the PCCRVC.

Kevin Campbell, 31, of Hobart, is charged with the murder of Tiara Thomas in her Portage home; Campbell, a former Hammond Police officer, is the father of Thomas’ three children. Ground breaks on the Holiday Inn Express at the southwest corner of Ind. 49 and Indian Boundary Road, behind the Walgreen’s. The FBI once again visits the Porter County Auditor’s Office; this time, Auditor Vicki Urbanik says, the FBI is interested in documents related to the county employees’ health insurance plan.

Chuck Williams, a principal in Pavilion Partners LLC, sues the operator of the valpolies.com website, David Wichlinski and Hyperion Consulting, for defamation, alleging that “fake statements” posted on the site have “irreparably damaged his reputation and business ventures.” The Northside Diner and Round the Clock are the latest burglary victims in the Indian Boundary Road/Calumet Road commercial corridor.

Eight CMS students are selected to the All Region Orchestra: eighth-graders Joe Adcock, Maris Robinson, Charlie Skube, and Ben Hoham; and seventh-graders Emma Ghoreishi, Jackson Fleming, Kate Nevers, and Katie Hansen. Four CMS students are selected to the All Region Band: Nick Hanson, Maddie Figg, Carly Sparacio, and Grace Whah. The 43rd annual Madrigal Dinner is held at CHS.

United Way of Porter County names Kim Olesker its new president and CEO; Olesker is currently serving as regional director of Early Childhood Initiatives. The Symphony of Chesterton, an assisted living, post-acute care, and rehabilitation facility under construction at Coffee Creek Center, says it could begin accepting patients as soon as Dec. 28. Glenn Coppage, 52, of Valparaiso, dies in a two-vehicle accident on I-80/94 in Lake County.

Paul Labus, Northwest Indiana regional director of The Nature Conservancy, is the 2015 recipient of Save the Dunes’ prestigious Paul H. Douglas Award. The Burns Harbor Town Council votes to replace “town conventions” with primaries in the next municipal election; it also votes to purchase a new ALS ambulance for $188,126.

The Westchester Public Library Board adopts a new logo: two partly open books in the form of a “W.” Jane M. and Frank V. Zemaitis of Porter celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary. The Town of Chesterton closes on a $2-million park bond, with an interest rate of 2.54 percent over 10 years. Report: Kahr, the CPD K-9 partner, is set to return to active duty in January, after making a good recovery from hernia surgery.

Save the Dunes acquires 100 acres in Hobart to donate to Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore; a good chunk of that acreage is located in the National Lakeshore’s Prairie Grove site but is not yet actually owned by the National Park Service. The USW reaches a tentative three-year labor agreement with USS; the proposed contract must still be ratified by the membership.

Daryll Coleman, 29, of Gary, is indicted in federal court charged with robbing the First State Bank of Porter at gunpoint. Burns Harbor Police Officer Tim Lucas leads all officers in Porter County with 45 OWI arrests this year; Chesterton PD Officer Aaron Miersma and Porter PD Officer Tawni Komisarcik lead their respective departments.

Depressed market conditions lead USS to postpone construction of its electric arc furnace at Fairfield, Ala., Works. The Chesterton BZA grants the Chesterton Bicycle Station at 116 S. Fourth St. a variance permitting its owner to expand the business with a 975-square foot addition. Chesterton Street Commissioner John Schnadenberg, who’s been dreaming of a green Christmas, gets his wish.

A wintry mix of ice, sleet, rain, and snow liberally coats Duneland on the first day back to work after Christmas. Mitchell Willis of Boy Scout Troop 929 earns his Eagle Scout rank. DNA evidence links Milton B. Gilmer Jr., 44, of South Haven, to the burglary in November of George’s Gyros Spot, one in a series of more than a dozen smash-and-grabs committed in Chesterton since early summer; Gilmer is arrested on a charge of burglary, one count only. Bob Taylor, coordinator of the Porter County Drug Task Force, retires after 21 years.

 

 

12/31/2015

 

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

Search This Site:

Custom Search