Chesterton Tribune



2017 Year in Review: A banner year for building

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2017 was a banner year for building in Duneland.

Begin with several high-profile municipal projects: the completion this summer of Phase II of the Westchester-Liberty Trail, which continued the eight-foot sidewalk along 1100N from the Rosehill Estates subdivision to South Fifth Street; the installation of brand-new playground equipment at both Dogwood Park in Chesterton and Hawthorne Park in Porter; the construction of a hugely popular splash pad at Chesterton Park; and the reconfiguration of Gateway Blvd. immediately east of the intersection of Ind. 49, to eliminate the bottleneck which caused traffic stacking during rush hour.

Meanwhile, ground broke on the following commercial projects in Coffee Creek Center: the Residences at Coffee Creek, a 110-unit, $20-million senior living facility south of Sidewalk Road and east of Ind. 49; Eagle Crossing, a 170-unit, high-end apartment complex south of Rail Road and east of Kelle Drive; and--late this year--a strip mall complex featuring a roof-top restaurant (estimated value: $1.4 million) at the northeast corner of Village Point and Gateway Blvd.

And yet more at Coffee Creek Center: over the summer the Lake Erie Land Company removed the old brick pavers at Coffee Creek Center and re-surfaced the roadways with asphalt, while late in the year Urschel Laboratories Inc. was issued a building permit for additions to its facility and headquarters valued at $6.5 million.

On the residential side, the developers of Easton Park, located at East Porter Ave. and 250E, completed the installation of infrastructure last winter and houses have been going up slowly but steadily throughout the year. On build-out, Easton Park will be the largest subdivision ever developed in Chesterton, with 342 single-family homes.

Other Developments

in Development

In a blow to convenient shopping in Duneland, the Chesterton Kmart was shuttered in March, one of scores across the country to suffer the fate. The building has remained vacant since then, although Town Manager Bernie Doyle has said that its owner is interested in finding a new tenant, not in demolishing it.

In a boon to Downtown Chesterton, Richard Riley, owner of Riley’s Railhouse at 123 N. Fourth St., completed the purchase last spring of the long vacant buildings at 402 Broadway and 101 Broadway. Both had been eyesores and 402 was facing possible demolition, after the Town Council found it to be “unsafe.” Riley has been busy rehabbing the pair and at last word was looking to lease them.

Work continued this year on the Westchester Migratory Bird Sanctuary, off South 11th Street, and--in a sign of the project’s huge success--responsibility for the development of the property passed last spring from the Porter County Parks Foundation to a not-for-profit, the PorterCo Conservation Trust.

Work, however, did not continue on the rehab of the Pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park. Although a spokesman for Pavilion Partners LLC announced in the spring that the rehab would resume in September--and that plans were in the works for a “family-friendly” restaurant to take occupancy on completion of the work--at year’s end the Pavilion remained just as gutted as it did when crews left the site in September 2015.

At year’s end, the sales office for the StoryPoint senior living facility on Dickinson Road officially opened. The three-story complex features 162 residential units, 120 for independent living and 42 for enhanced.

2017 Headlines

In April a mechanical malfunction at U.S. Steel Corporation’s Portage facility resulted in the dumping of a large quantity of a known carcinogen--hexavalent chromium--into Burns Waterway. Although subsequent water sampling found no detectable levels of the chemical in Lake Michigan waters, area beaches were closed and the Indiana American Water Company temporarily ceased operations at its pumping station in Ogden Dunes. Late in the year it was revealed that a second spill occurred in October, which U.S. Steel asked the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to keep secret.

Also in April, Nicole Gland, 24, a bartender at The Upper Deck, was found stabbed to death in her car behind the offices of the Chesterton Tribune. Three days later Christopher Dillard, 50, a bouncer at The Upper Deck, was charged with her murder, after he admitted killing Gland in a taped conversation with his girlfriend at the Chesterton Police station.

In May the Porter County Health Department ordered Seven Peaks Waterpark in Porter closed, after multiple children sustained chemical burns in the kiddy pool. A subsequent inspection determined that the facility’s automated disinfectant feeder was malfunctioning. The waterpark remained closed for the rest of the season.

In July the Strack and the Van Til families outbid Jewel Food Stores to purchase 20 Strack & Van Til grocery stores from their majority owner, the bankrupt Center Grocers Group of Illinois. Although Jewel Food Stores had previously announced that it had no intention of closing any of the stores, should its bid prove the high one, on the face of it that pledge seemed implausible, given the fact that the Chesterton Strack & Van Til is located less than a mile from the Chesterton Jewel on Indian Boundary Road.


And Duneland mourned this year.

In April, Malcolm Anderson, World War II veteran, long-time attorney, and prolific contributor of Voices of the People, 97.

In June, Dale Engquist, for nearly 24 years the superintendent of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore; and Thomas Bush, former Chesterton Police Commissioner, 77.

In July, Harold McCorkel, retired Detective Lieutenant of the Chesterton Police Department, 78.

In August, Harold “Red” Shrader, also an inveterate writer of Voices of the People, 82.

In September, Will Lee Lewis Jr., former Chesterton Postmaster, 83.

In October, Elizabeth “Betty” Canright, publisher of the Chesterton Tribune, 90.

In December, Paul Tharp, former member of the Chesterton Redevelopment Commission and enthusiastic booster of the town, 70; Anne Hokanson, former Duneland teacher, 105; and Dirk Baer, retired superintendent of the Duneland Schools, 62.


U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.: Improve the Affordable Care Act, don’t repeal it. The owner of Kmart, Sears Holdings Corporation, announces the permanent closure in March of the Kmart at 750 Indian Boundary Road in Chesterton, one of 78 Kmart and 26 Sears stores across the country to shutter in the most recent round of closures. Chesterton Police Department report: A custodian at St. Patrick Catholic Church accidentally discharges a loaded revolver after finding it on church property.

The Chesterton Park Board agrees to pursue the rehabilitation of Waskom and Kipper parks. A Republican Party caucus elects Burns Harbor Town Council Member Andy Bozak to the open North District seat on the Porter County Council, vacated after its incumbent, Jim Biggs, was elected in November 2016 to the Porter County Commissioners.

Porter County Parks survey: 74 percent of respondents are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the park system, but 78 percent feel it is at least somewhat important for county government to fund park improvements in comparison to other priorities, such as roads and public safety.

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, at his annual Chesterton town forum: after the election of Donald Trump to the presidency, it’s time to “look for areas of agreement where we can move the nation forward,” although Visclosky voices his opposition to any repeal of the Affordable Care Act and to any reductions in Social Security, Medicaid, and Medicare benefits.

The Porter County Commissioners agree to pursue a $1-million upgrade of the Administration Building, 155 Indiana Ave. in Valparaiso. Approximately 25,000 NIPSCO customers lose electrical service in high winds. The Porter County Commissioners elect Jeff Good, R-Center, their president. The Porter Town Council elects Greg Stinson its president. The Chesterton Town Council elects Jim Ton, R-1st, its president.

The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District cancels all South Shore train service at mid-morning following a heavy overnight icing; some 400 passengers are stuck for five hours on a train stopped west of Hegewisch. Duneland Schools Superintendent Dave Pruis announces his retirement, effective June 30. The Duneland School Board--three months after ratifying a one-year contract with the Duneland Teachers Association which gave educators their first raise in seven years--votes to give raises to classified staff.

A foul odor in the area of Haglund Road and Westport Road in Burns Harbor is blamed on off-gassing in the town’s sanitary sewer system. The CHS girls swim team wins its 18th consecutive conference title. The CHS wrestling team finishes second at the conference meet. Two CHS debaters at Concord HS competition qualify for the National Speech and Debate Association’s national tournament in June: Creighton Gaff and Paul Petro.

No one is injured in a fire which causes $70,000 in damage to a house in the 500 block of Park Ave. in Chesterton. Duneland Swim Club members Eric Carlson, Alejandro Kincaid, Lucas Piunti, and Isabella Smith achieve personal records at the Mid-States All Star Tournament, while Team Indiana beats Teams Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan, and Missouri Valley. Chesterton Police Officer Aaron Miersma is honored as Porter County’s No. 1 OWI enforcement officer in 2016, with 38 arrests.

The Shirley Heinze Land Trust acquires 42 acres along Sand Creek in Westchester Township. The Indiana Natural Resources Commission officially adopts a rule change under which the Department of Natural Resources may obtain a three-way permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to allow alcohol service at Dunes State Park. The third annual Alley-Oop for Autism is held between basketball games in the CHS gym.

Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds unveils the “One County One Protocol” school-safety plan. Four CHS students are named 2017 Rising Stars of Indiana: Molly Grimes, Abigail Koster, Karlyn Lawrence, and Nolan Poczekay. Report: Building in the Town of Chesterton went through the roof in 2016, with the total value of all projects increasing by 60 percent over 2015 and the total number of permits issued increasing by around 33 percent.

Donald Trump is elected as this nation’s 45th president. Ten CHS debaters qualify for the national tournament in June at Northwest Indiana District competition: Hannah Geiss, Katrina Balon, Mark Wilcox, Hayden Hodge, Nate Scheerer, Katelyn Balakir, Sydney Ghoreshi, Keagan Wong, Dustin Bucher, and Madison Simms.

The old Chesterton post office at 402 Broadway is declared “unsafe” by the Town Council and Town Engineer Mark O’Dell is authorized to begin the abatement process, under which owner George Manning would be required to repair, rehab, or demolish the structure at his own expense. A Republican Party caucus elects Kevin Tracy to the open seat on the Burns Harbor Town Council, created when an earlier caucus elected the seat’s incumbent, Andy Bozak, to the Porter County Council.

The Porter County Council elects Mike Jessen, R-4th, its president. The No. 1-ranked CHS gymnastics team defeats No. 2-ranked Valparaiso HS. The Indiana Court of Appeals denies--without comment--the interlocutory appeal filed by former Duneland real estate broker Don Johnson, who sought the dismissal of eight of the 19 felony charges filed against him on the ground that the statute of limitations had expired.

Report: The Chesterton Fire Department responded to 12 percent more calls in 2016 than it did in 2015. The CHS debate team wins its fourth consecutive state championship, beating West Lafayette HS 95 points to 74; it’s the team’s 27th title overall and its 18th in the last 20 years.

The CHS boys swim team wins its 21 consecutive conference championship. The CHS wrestling team wins its third consecutive sectional championship. The CHS gymnastics team wins the CHS Invitational. Report: South Shore commuter line ridership was down 3 percent in 2016.


Porter County Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, votes against the establishment of a park fund into which to deposit $58,125 in matching grants for the purchase of five additional acres at Brincka-Cross Gardens in Pine Township, saying that he opposes the acquisition of more park property which would go unused but still require maintenance. U.S. Steel Corporation narrows its 2016 net loss to $440 million or $2.81 per diluted share, compared to a net loss of $1.6 billion or $11.24 in 2015.

The Porter County Sheriff’s Police reports that alcohol- and substance-related arrests--excluding OWI arrests--jumped by 66 percent in 2016 while burglaries spiked by 33 percent; most of the latter involved the theft of prescription medications and most of that of opioids. Porter Health Care System donates a decommissioned ambulance to Porter County Search & Rescue. The CHS wrestling team finishes second in regional competition.

Jim Starin of Starin Marketing is installed as the 2017 Board Chair of the Duneland Chamber of Commerce. Asplundh Tree Expert Company, NIPSCO’s contracted tree trimmer, begins pruning its way through the Town of Chesterton. A telecom contractor installing fiber-optic conduit bores through an eight-inch sanitary sewer force main at 23rd Street and West Porter Ave.

The CHS speech and debate team hosts the annual Skeffington Memorial Invitational and dominates it, winning 11 of 14 events. Six Duneland Schools teachers with a combined 168.5 years of experience announce their retirement at the end of the school year: Music Director Tom Schnabel (32 years), Jackson Elementary teacher Elaine Krause (31), Chesterton Middle School teacher Amy Otto (21), CHS business teacher Rebecca Gierke (20), Liberty Elementary teacher Gayle Sandquist (16), and CHS business teacher Donna Wilke (10).

The Duneland School Board okays the sale of an unused 25.6-acre school site in the area of Haglund Road and Ind. 149 to the Town of Burns Harbor. After nearly half a century of use, the old playground equipment at Dogwood Park is removed, to make way for a new set. CHS grads TJ Jaeger and Hunter Huddleston’s short film Lost Dog wins a screening at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

Marguerite Domsic of Chesterton celebrates her 100th birthday at the Duneland YMCA. The CHS gymnastics team sets a new school record in a conference win over Merrillville HS, earning 114.175 points to better the old record of 113.575. Trucker John James, 57, of Foley, Minn., dies in a crash on the Indiana Toll Road in Jackson Township.

ArcelorMittal reports a net income in 2016 of $1.77 billion or 62 cents per share, compared to a net loss of $7.94 billion or $3.43 in 2015. Bob and Becky Dunbar make a $50,000 gift to the Duneland Education Foundation to strengthen its endowment, funds from which are used to improve the quality of education in the Duneland Schools.

Porter County Auditor Vicki Urbanik reports lower 2017 tax rates in all but two of the county’s 30 taxing districts, Union Township and Portage (Westchester Township). CHS senior Ashley Heilmann is a finalist for the Distinguished Young Women of Indiana Scholarship. Chesterton Town Manager Bernie Doyle reports that the owner of the Kmart building intends to lease the space--not demolish it--when the Kmart closes in March.

The Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission is told by its contracted consultant, Certec Inc. of Versailles, Ky., that between 2013 and 2015 the economic impact of tourism in Porter County grew by 3.5 percent, from $386 million to $413 million.

The CHS gymnastics team wins the conference title for the first time since 2003, defeating defending champion Valparaiso HS. The CHS boys swim team takes its 19th consecutive sectional title. The CHS wrestling team wins the semi-state title. The CHS girls swim team takes second at the state finals.

Report: The Ports of Indiana handled nearly 11.3 million tons of cargo in 2016, the second highest volume in its history. Porter County Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, reverses his vote on a second reading of an ordinance establishing a park fund into which to deposit $58,125 in matching grants for the purchase of five additional acres at Brincka-Cross Gardens in Pine Township, saying that he voted against the motion on first reading “to send the right message to the parks,” which would be that there’s a limit to what county government can do.

CHS wrestler Andrew Davison wins the state championship at 195 pounds, while the team finishes second overall. NiSource Inc. posts a net income in 2016 of $331.5 million or $1.03 base earnings per share, compared to $302.1 million or 90 cents in 2015. The Town of Burns Harbor unveils an historical marker in Shadyside Park at the boundary which formerly marked the border of the Michigan territorial line, before that line was moved 10 miles to the north.

Lakeshore Wealth Management of Chesterton is named one of the Top 100 Best Places to work in the state by the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. CPD report: A man injures his arm in a beaver trap set by an unknown person near the playground at Coffee Creek Park; officers are unable to locate any other traps in the area.

The CHS boys swim team finishes third at the state finals. The CHS gymnastics team wins its first sectional title since 2003. The CHS speech team takes second at sectional competition. The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission reports that, later in the year, the Lake Erie Land Company will replace the brick pavers at Coffee Creek Center with asphalt.


Rain totaling 2.59 inches falls on Duneland in 24 hours, forcing the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant to divert 600,000 gallons of flow into its 1.2-million gallon storage basin. The CMS Science Olympiad team qualifies for state competition by placing second in field of 17 teams at regional competition. Porter Cove residents ask the Porter Town Council to fund the purchase of new playground equipment at Kids Cove Park; in response President Greg Stinson tells them that “money is tight all over.”

Chesterton Clerk-Treasurer Stephanie Kuziela recovers from kidney transplant surgery, after donating one of hers to Randy Darnell, husband of former Chesterton Town Council member Sharon Darnell; both are nicely on the mend. The annual Maple Sugar Time event opens at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore’s Chellberg Farm site. The Duneland School Board begins its search for a new superintendent.

The St. Patrick Catholic School Science Olympiad team sends two teams to regional competition, where one places first in its division and qualifies for state competition. The CHS gymnastics team finishes second at regional competition and qualifies for the state meet. The CHS speech team qualifies 12 for the national tournament: Izzy Portugal, Allen Smith, Karly Carden, Paige Donovan, Natalie Beglin, Noelle Friel, Josh Hogan, Logan Summers, Bryn Jackson, Angel Smith, Connor Wantuch, and Ryan Day.

Patty Linson, 52, of South Bend, dies in a one-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 20 in Burns Harbor. The CHS Science Olympiad team places second in its division at regional competition and qualifies for state competition. The CHS Jazz Ensemble wins Superior Gold at the annual Jazz Festival at LaPorte HS.

The Burns Harbor Redevelopment Commission approves a $9,320 budget for Food Truck Square, earmarking--among other things--$700 for licensing for movie night and $900 for a tent for the blues festival. A faulty light ballast in a storage room at CMS is blamed for a light haze of smoke which forces the evacuation of the entire school. CPD report: Amanda Daler, 35, of North Webster, Ind., admits to using heroin, crack, Ecstasy, and synthetic marijuana when interviewed by officers at the BP on Indian Boundary Road.

The CHS Japanese Olympiad team wins its third consecutive state championship in the fourth-year division and takes second place in the third-year division. Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris reports a record number of fatal opioid overdoses in 2016: 36, doubling the 18 in 2015. Daniel R. Evans, 37, of Terre Haute, is hit by a semi and killed while standing outside his vehicle on I-94 about a mile east of Chesterton.

CHS gymnast Sophie Hunzelman wins the All-Around title at the state meet, while her team finishes third overall. Chesterton Pop Warner’s Brook Redman, a fifth-grader at Liberty Intermediate, is named Top 5th-grade Boys Scholar at the annual Mid-America Little Scholars Banquet in Schaumburg, Ill. The CHS speech teams wins the state championship.

CHS junior Lucas Klein codes a mobile app game--Impossible Orbit--and places it in the iPhone App Store. Richard Riley, owner of Riley’s Railhouse at 123 N. Fourth St. in Chesterton, announces his intention to purchase and rehab the buildings at 402 and 101 Broadway from their current owner of record, George Manning; 402 Broadway was previously declared “unsafe” by the Chesterton Town Council.

CMS eighth-grader Kate Nevers places second in the regional spelling bee at Wheeler HS, after being bested by PURBLIND. Chesterton Town Engineer Mark O’Dell reports that the Holiday Inn Express project at the southwest corner of Indian Boundary Road and Ind. 49 is dead, leaving only an empty slab. The Porter County Commissioners adopt an overlay district for development along U.S. Highway 6, six years after beginning the process.

NIPSCO pledges to replace five trees left lopsided at Chesterton Park, following pruning by its contracted trimmer, Asplundh Tree Expert Company. Sheriff Dave Reynolds takes command of the Drug Task Force, which since 1994 has been under the direction of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. None of the 25 occupants of a Duneland Schools bus involved in a three-vehicle chain-reaction accident on South 11th Street is injured, but three other persons are; the driver of the passenger vehicle which caused the crash is cited for following too closely.

Anton Insurance Agency of Chesterton resigns as Porter County government’s insurance servicing agent, effective April 1, after 25 years of serving as its agent. The CHS Sandpipers and their band, The Business, earn Grand Champion honors and sweep the caption awards in competition in Herscher, Ill., while the Drifters are third runner-up.

The CHS Financial Analyst team of Alexys Hanas, Nia Weems, and Drew Vesling qualify for the National Business Professionals of America Leadership Conference; also qualifying in Fundamental Accounting is Haydn Malackowski. Nathan Legler, 19, of Jackson Township, dies in a one-vehicle accident on U.S. 6 in Jackson Township. Chesterton Town Council President Jim Ton, R-1st, reports that the proposed merger of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission and the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning is dead.

Ground is broken on a new splash pad at Chesterton Park. Cassie Kiegan is named the new program director for the Duneland Unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County. The Porter County Council votes 4-2 to approve nearly $40,000 in raises for three senior deputy prosecuting attorneys, with Members Jeremy Rivas, D-2nd, and Sylvia Graham, D-at large, voting against the motion.


The Chesterton Tribune begins its 134th year as the community newspaper of Chesterton and Duneland. The Jo Winey Babcock Memorial Endowment, created to support the Duneland YMCA, closes to within $6,500 of its $50,000 goal; those funds will be matched dollar for dollar by the Porter County Community Foundation. Flooding closes Central Ave. Beach and Beverly Drive, west of U.S. Highway 12, in Beverly Shores.

Work continues on the Westchester Migratory Bird Sanctuary--a genuine sweat-equity project--off South 11th Street, opposite the rear entrance to Westchester Intermediate School. The Porter County Commissioners approve an amendment to the ambulance service contract with Porter Regional Hospital, after PRH agrees to cut the county’s annual cost from $750,000 to $450,000. The Porter County Commissioners approve the installation of panic buttons at the Admin. Building in Valparaiso, the North County Complex in Portage, and the Expo Center.

The Porter County Park Board adopts a new five-year master plan which highlights trail development and environmental protection. The Duneland School Board approves a veterans memorial for erection at the CHS stadium, in memory of CHS graduate and West Point Cadet Mitchell Winey, who died in a flash flood while training at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2016. The Chesterton Town Council finds that work done to 402 Broadway by new owner Richard Riley has rendered the structure no longer “unsafe.”

Porter Parks Director Brian Bugaski reports that work to remove the old playground equipment at Hawthorne Park has begun, in advance of the installation of new equipment sometime in May. Chesterton Feed & Garden celebrates its 37th year of business. The Duneland School Board announces more retirements: CHS guidance counselor Jennifer Thoms (40 years), health services supervisor Lorie Skimhorn (20+), and Director of Safety and Security Steve Rohe.

INDOT lets the contract for Phase II of the Westchester-Liberty Trail--along 1100N from Rosehill Estates to South Fifth Street--to Walsh & Kelly Construction, whose low bid of $547,049 was significantly lower than the engineer’s original estimate of $700,000.

U.S. Steel Corporation’s Midwest Plant in Portage accidentally spills a known carcinogenic chemical--hexavalent chromium--into Burns Waterway following an equipment failure; a first day of water testing detects no evidence of the chemical in lake waters, although its presence is found in Burns Waterway; the Midwest Plant ceases all operations, Indiana American Water Company closes its pumping station in response, and eventually West Beach, Ogden Dunes Beach, the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk site, and Cowles Bog Beach are all closed; Save the Dunes blasts the state’s “emergency spill response actions and associated responsibilities” as “quite lax,” the Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League says that regulations are “either too weak or are not enforced,” and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel accuses USS of “reckless conduct”; after a week of testing shows either no detectable or no hazardous levels of the chemical in lake waters, the pumping station and beaches are re-opened and--under the oversight of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency--USS begins a re-start of its Midwest Plant.

CHS radio station WDSO holds its 27th annual Radiothon. INDOT lowers the speed limit on Ind. 149 in the area of Burns Harbor Food Truck Square from 55 miles per hour to 45 mph. Lifelong Duneland resident, World War II veteran, and longtime Chesterton attorney Malcolm Anderson dies at 97. The third annual Autism Awareness 5K run/walk is held at CHS.

Responsibility for the Westchester Migratory Bird Sanctuary spins off from the Porter County Parks Foundation, under the aegis of the not-for-profit PorterCo Conservation Trust, after the project outgrows the foundation’s mission and resources. Upper Deck bartender Nicole Gland, 24, of Portage, is found stabbed to death in her car behind the offices of the Chesterton Tribune; three days later, Upper Deck bouncer Christopher Dillard, 50, of Hobart, is charged with Gland’s murder, after he tells his girlfriend, in a recorded interview room at the CPD, that “I killed that girl, I didn’t mean to.”

Sally Gabric is named School Age Director at the Duneland YMCA. The CHS Symphonic Band earns the Gold Superior rating in district competition at Elkhart Memorial HS. Boy Scouts Christopher Sexton and Evan Ekblaw of Troop 908 earn the Eagle Scout rank. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance cuts the Town of Chesterton’s 2017 budget by $800,000, following a miscalculation in 2016 by the Clerk-Treasurer’s Office.

USS reports a net loss in the first quarter of $180 million. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is held to celebrate the opening of the expanded Duneland Unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County. The PorterCo Conservation Trust, not-for-profit operator of the Westchester Migratory Bird Sanctuary, adds 10 acres in the Coffee Creek watershed to its holdings with a gift from Holladay Properties; the land is located south of Indian Boundary Road and north of the Norfolk Southern railroad right-of-way.

A student-designed nature playground opens at Discovery Charter School. The CHS Sandpipers and their band, The Business, are third runner-up at the FAME National Finals at Arie Crown Theater in Chicago. As always the community rises to the occasion, to rehab and build, during the 26th annual Rebuilding Together Duneland.


The re-paving of Ind. 49 from the Indiana Toll Road to U.S. Highway 30 commences, and Chesterton is not unaffected, as lane closures for the project begin well north of the Toll Road, congesting rush-hour traffic. Indiana Toll Road operator ITRCC announces that a subsidy program which kept tolls low under the 2006 lease agreement will expire on June 1, when EZPass users will then begin paying dramatically higher tolls.

The Duneland School Board names Vince Arizzi the new Director of Music for the 2017-18 school year; he succeeds long-time director Tom Schnabel, who previously announced his retirement at the end of the 2016-17 school year. The attorney for Frederick Fegely, 69--charged with the arson-murder of his mother in her Ogden Dunes home in 2015--files a notice of insanity defense.

NiSource Inc. posts a net income in the first quarter of $211.3 million or 65 cents basic earnings per share. BreeAnna Suitor is named the Duneland Exchange Club’s 2017 recipient of the ACE (Accepting the Challenge of Excellence) Award. Retiring Duneland Schools Superintendent Dave Pruis is made a Paul Harris Fellow by the Chesterton-Porter Rotary Club.

The CHS Wind Ensemble earns two Gold Superior ratings at ISSMA’s Northern State qualifying competition, hosted by CHS. CHS Senior Erik Rudolph is named a 2017 Academic All-Star by the Indiana Association of School Principals. Central Grocers Group Inc., majority owner of Strack & Van Til, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The National Park Service announces that the Mt. Baldy beach--but not the dune--will re-open in the summer.

State Park Little League umpire Michelle LaFreniere is tapped to umpire in the Little League Softball World Series. The Upper Deck closes, following the murder of bartender Nicole Gland. The Porter County Park Board gives the Illiana Garden Railroad Society a home at Sunset Hill Farm Park. Chesterton native Megan Adamczewski is named Legislative Director for U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st.

CHS hosts the 44th annual All That Jazz concert, this year featuring the Jim Widner Quintent. The Dunes Learning Center brings back livestock to the Chellberg Farm site at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi tenders his resignation; he is succeeded by Dave Burritt. Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder announces that reassessment has begun in Westchester Township.

ArcelorMittal posts a net income in the first quarter of $1 billion or 33 cents basic earnings per share. The Westchester Public Library Board of Directors votes in renew the annual non-resident fee of $175 per person for borrowing privileges. Jewel Food Stores enters into a stalking-horse agreement with Central Grocers Group Inc., under which it bids $70 million for 19 Strack & Van Til stores--including Chesterton’s--and $30 million for inventory; Jewel Foods says that it has no plans to close any of the Strack & Van Til stores.

The Duneland School Board names Dr. Ginger Bolinger its new superintendent; a day after the Chesterton Tribune runs an interview with her, disgruntled parents and teachers at her current superintendency, of Madison Consolidated Schools in Southern Indiana, begin slinging mud on social media; the smear doesn’t deter the School Board from making her appointment official a week later, and a Duneland Teachers Association rep tells the Tribune that faculty will be happy to give Bolinger the time and space she needs to hit the ground running.

The CHS boys baseball team demolishes LaPorte HS 16-1 to claim a share of the conference title. The 34th annual W.R. Canright Outstanding Senior Journalist Award--presented by the Chesterton Tribune--is given to Erin Grimes, Sandscript, and to Kaitlyn Szprychel, Singing Sands; while the 17th annual Kathryn Elizabeth Pokorny Student Press Memorial Scholarship is awarded to Grimes, Szprychel, and Celeste Coughlin.

CHS wrestler Andrew Davison is named the recipient of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award for Indiana by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. The CHS boys track team places second at sectional competition, with five event titles. CHS graduate and Purdue University junior Makaela Myer is named the 2017 Truman Scholar by the Harry S Truman Foundation.

U.S. 6 between Mander Road and C.R. 500E in Jackson Township is closed for the duration of the summer for bridge work. CHS pole vaulter Zoi Heideman qualifies for state competition by placing second in regional competition. A grand opening is held for the new Porter County Animal Shelter, off Ind. 49 north of the Fairgrounds. The CHS boys golf team places second at its conference meet.

CHS girls tennis player Hannah Nabhan wins the sectional title and qualifies for regional competition. The CHS boys track team wins the regional title. U.S. Marine Corps veteran Bob Bergren recalls his Korean War and his recent Honor Flight in an interview with the Chesterton Tribune. Liberty Elementary and Intermediate schools and St. Patrick Catholic School earn the 4-Star rating from the Indiana Department of Education.

CHS dedicates its new veterans memorial at the stadium, in memory of CHS graduate and West Point Cadet Mitchell Winey, who died in 2016 during a flash flood at Fort Hood, Texas; other CHS graduates who gave their all and are remembered at the ceremony are William Lee, U.S. Navy, 1967, Gulf of Tonkin; Spc. Mark Taylor, U.S. Army, 1971, Republic of Vietnam; S/Sgt. Thomas Thorstad, U.S. Marine Corps, 1981, Beirut, Lebanon; and Spc. James Butz, U.S. Army, 2011, Afghanistan.

CHS seniors Owen Hallas (soccer and baseball) and Cara Kroeger (golf and swimming) are named Athletes of the Year. A spokesman for Pavilion Partners LLC principal Chuck Williams reports that work is expected to resume on the rehab of the Pavilion at Dunes State Park in September; he also reports that Pavilion Partners expects to announce “soon” a “partnership with a well-known family-friendly restaurateur to occupy both the first floor and rooftop spaces next summer.”


Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford sets a Nov. 7 trial date for Don Johnson, the former Duneland real estate broker charged with 19 felonies, most of them in connection with the sale of securities. The 127th annual CHS commencement is held outside in the stadium. St. Patrick Catholic School opens Meade Park, named for Father James Meade, who has served St. Pat’s since 2001.

CHS speakers Izzy Portugal and Karly Carden place fourth in the nation in duo interpretation at the National Catholic Forensic League’s national tournament in Louisville, Ky. The CHS boys golf team finishes second in sectional competition. Dale Engquist, for nearly 24 years the superintendent of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, with a career in the National Park Service spanning 53 years, dies.

Chesterton resident Anthony Condeni, 98, is awarded the French Legion of Honor for service with the U.S. Army in France during World War II, in a ceremony at the French consulate in Chicago. Winners in the 66th annual Chesterton Woman’s Club Art Show include Best of Show, Kristina Knowski for her watercolor “Flicker”; and First Place, Kathy Los-Rathburn for her acrylic “Insights on Industry.”

Porter Zip Foods on Franklin Street is robbed at gunpoint; David Andrew Graham, 24, with an unknown address, is subsequently charged with the robbery. Chuck Lukmann, Chesterton Town Attorney since 1980, is the recipient of the Longevity of Service Award from the Indiana Municipal Lawyers Association. Andrew Dicharia, 49, of Chicago, and Kimberly Raines, 29, of Bolingbrook, Ill., are found dead in a van in the parking lot of the BP on Indian Boundary Road; Coroner Chuck Harris suspects fatal drug overdoses.

CHS boys golf Mitch Davis qualifies for state with a 76 in regional competition at Battle Ground Golf Course. For the fourth consecutive year the Duneland Soccer Club hosts the Northwest Indiana Soccer League’s annual championship tournament at Dogwood Park. CPD report: The Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon Wireless stores on the Indian Boundary Road commercial strip are all victims in a single night of smash-and-grab burglaries.

The CPD hires Alexias DeJesus and Kaitlin Bruning as probationary officers. The Shirley Heinze Land Trust adds 70 acres to the Meadowbrook Nature Preserve in Liberty Township, bringing the total amount of protected land in the preserve to 224 acres. A brand-new playground opens at Dogwood Park. CHS golfer Mitch Davis finishes 20th at state.

No one is injured in an attic fire at a residence in the 300 block of U.S. 20 in Burns Harbor but total damage is estimated at $200,000. Dunes State Park Property Manager announces that the Trail 2 boardwalk--much of it under water or washed away and for several years now closed--will be replaced by an elevated structure, with $400,000 appropriated for the project by the DNR; Baughman thanks Friends of the Dunes for making $1,600 available for the crucial preliminary design.

The Porter County Health Department Administrator Keith Letta closes Seven Peaks Waterpark--four days after it opened for the season--after receiving multiple reports of children’s having sustained chemical burns in the kiddy pool; Letta says that investigators found that the facility’s automated disinfectant feeder had failed and that employees were adding chlorine to the water manually; the park never re-opens in 2017; Seven Peaks apologizes, in half-page ads published in the Chesterton Tribune and other publications, but also calls media coverage of the incident “fake news.”

Boy Scout Logan Bell of Troop 908 earns the Eagle Scout rank. Grounds breaks on Phase II of the Westchester-Liberty Trail, extending the eight-foot side along 1100N from Rosehill Estates to South Fifth Street. The Boys & Girls Club of Porter County and the Boys & Girls Club of Northwest Indiana--the latter serving Lake County--announce their merger.

Christopher Barton, 23, of Chesterton, dies in a motorcycle accident on Ind. 49, south of U.S. 6. The CHS speech and debate team fails to qualify for a team award at the national tournament in Birmingham, Ala. Despite heavy rain at times, the ninth annual Fireworks at the Lakefront, sponsored by the Duneland Chamber of Commerce, is a great success.


The annual Fourth of July Parade, the Family 4th Fest, and the 78th annual Turtle Derby are all held in the Town of Porter. Ron Ranta is named the new director of the Duneland Unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County; Angie Barber, its new program director. The new splash pad at Chesterton Park opens to wide acclaim and scads of kids.

Coroner Chuck Harris reports that a 12-year-old Chicago boy drowns in the swimming pool at Fairhaven Baptist Church in Westchester Township. Boy Scout Max Witt of Troop 908 earns the Eagle Scout rank. The Liberty Township Volunteer Fire Department takes delivery of its new 2016 Spartan pumper, which replaces the department’s 1993 GMC Topkick.

The Porter County Park Board considers scaling back on plans to build the Raise the Barn education center until sufficient funds can be raised and instead erect a smaller building in which to offer programming at Sunset Hill Farm Park. The Chesterton Town Council extends its refuse and recycling contract with Republic Services--d.b.a. Able Disposal--for three more years; in 2018 households will pay the same rate as in 2017, with the rate increasing by 2 percent in each of the next two years.

The Strack and the Van Til families outbid Jewel Foods to buy 20 Strack & Van Til groceries from bankrupt Central Grocers Group Inc.; the purchase price isn’t released but it would have to be in excess of the $100 million which Jewel Foods bid under a stalking-horse agreement; the purchase prices includes a $3 million breakup fee and $500,000 in expenses to be paid to Jewel Foods.

The Duneland Business Initiative Group holds its annual Bark in the Park in Thomas Centennial Park in Downtown Chesterton. The CHS Trojan Guard marches in the International Lions Club’s 100th annual Parade of Nations in Downtown Chicago. The Town of Porter is named the eighth safest municipality in Indiana by home security company SafeWise; the Porter Town Council attributes the rank to the vigilance of the town’s police officers and its citizens.

Dunes State Park interpretive naturalist Brad Bumgardner leaves the DNR to accept the position of executive director of the Indiana Audubon Society. ICARUS, the world’s largest liquid argon neutrino detector is offloaded from M/V Frieda at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, en route from Antwerp, Belgium, to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill.

Honored at the Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s annual Awards Luncheon: Duneland Distinguished Woman, Meg McCarel; Golden Achievement Award, Mike Anton; Humanitarian of the Year, Dawn Ruge; Volunteer of the Year, Keith Davison; Serviceman of the Year, Master Trooper Steve Caylor; Putting Duneland on the Map, Blake Pieroni, Indiana Dunes Birding Festival; Renovation Award, the Duneland Boys & Girls Club, Fireflies; New Construction Award, the Chesterton and Porter park departments, Serenity Salon & Spa.

The PCCRVC reports a 9-percent increase in visits to the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center, attributable to an influx of seniors purchasing Lifetime Senior Passes to the National Park System, in advance of a price increase, effective Aug. 28, under which the cost of a pass will go from $10 to $80. The annual Porter County Fair opens for its 10-day run.

The Chesterton Town Council adopts an ordinance requiring the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in all new residential construction. U.S. Steel posts a net income in the second quarter of $261 million or $1.48 per diluted share. Porter County Sheriff’s Police Sgt. Matt Edwards and his K-9 partner Joker find five kilos of cocaine--while off duty--in a vehicle stopped on the Indiana Toll Road by Officer Jacob Kerwin.

Porter County Council Member Dan Whitten, D-at large, rips tax increment financing as a “backdoor tax,” saying it diverts revenues from other government units and drives up property-tax rates. The Porter County Commissioners pick retiring Valparaiso Police Chief to lead a merged county E-911 and Emergency Management Agency, in the interest of making government more efficient. ArcelorMittal posts a net income in the second quarter of $1.32 billion or $1.30 basic earnings per share.

The Porter County Council approves the purchase of body cameras for use by PCSP officers. CHS wrestler Eli Pokorney goes 5-0 with two pins and a technical victory to win the 285-pound Greco title at the USA Wrestling Fargo Nationals in South Dakota. The Porter County Council approves the expenditures of $400,000 in innkeepers’ tax revenues for the renovation of the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center.

Tom Lee of Liberty Township remembers the loss of his identical twin brother, William, while both were serving in the U.S. Navy aboard the aircraft carriers USS Forestal, on the 50th anniversary of the catastrophic fire which claimed the lives of 134 sailors. A cupola is added to the shelter at the Westchester Migratory Bird Sanctuary, thanks to the generous support of Porter County Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North. VFW Post 2511 in Porter celebrates 73 years of service to veterans and the community.


Christopher Dillard, accused slayer of Upper Deck bartender Nicole Gland, seeks to suppress the recorded statement which he made to his girlfriend in the CPD interview room--“I killed that girl, I didn’t mean to”--on the ground that he invoked his right to an attorney on multiple occasions during his interview with Police Chief Dave Cincoski. NiSource posts a net loss in the second quarter of $44 million or 14 cents basic earnings per share.

The fourth annual Chrissy Hill Benefit for Overdose Awareness is held at Frontline Foundations’ Chesterton headquarters, with live performances by The Sure and Frontline’s own The Salt Exchange. An American flag which once flew over the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. is raised at the Dunes Learning Center in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in honor of Dunes environmentalist Lee Botts.

The 59th annual Chesterton Art Fair is held at Dogwood Park. The Prairie Magic Music Festival is held at Sunset Hill Farm Park. More than 800 attend the annual Babapaloosa at Sunset Hill Farm Park, benefiting the See Change Foundation in Nepal. The CHS Sandpipers sing on stage with Foreigner at Chicago’s Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island, performing the single finest, most heart rending rock ballad ever written, “I Wanna Know What Love Is.”

Former PCSP deputy Roger Bowles, 56, of Hebron, is charged with possession of child pornography and furnishing alcohol to a minor. The Porter County Auditor’s Office certifies the county’s total net assessed value at $9.49 billion for 2018 property-tax bills, a year-over-year increase of 2.5 percent; it certifies Duneland’s total net assessed value at $2.96 billion, an increase of 1.01 percent.

Classes start for Duneland Schools 2017-18 academic year, with few snafus to report. Under the leadership of Chesterton Town Council President Jim Ton, R-1st, members vote to re-establish the long dormant Chesterton Economic Development Company, a not-for-profit arm whose mission is to revitalize the Downtown by making low-interest loans available to businesses for facade and other improvements.

Mary “Matzic” Stipanovich, late of Chesterton, is posthumously inducted into the Amish Acres Arts and Crafts Festival Hall of Fame. The Porter County Commissioners seek to have an audit performed of the county’s IT system, with President Jeff Good, R-Center, calling it “old,” “slow,” and “archaic.” The Town of Burns Harbor celebrates its 50th anniversary in Lakeland Park.

The Porter County Board of Zoning Appeals split-votes to permit a greyhound shelter in Liberty Township, at the intersection of the CSX line and C.R. 100W; Member Marvin Brickner votes against the motion. An undetermined number of guns is stolen from Blythe’s Sporting Good in Valparaiso in a smash-and-grab burglary. Virtually everyone in Duneland but the staff of the Chesterton Tribune go outside to watch the solar eclipse.

Porter Cove resident Blake Lange introduces a plan to raise $250,000 for the rehab of Kids Cove Park; the Porter Town Council is unenthusiastic. Chesterton Police Chief Dave Cincoski wants it to be known, after receiving numerous calls, that the monument sign at the southwest corner of Third Street and Broadway--now featuring the Resist message--is on private, not public, property, and is in no way sponsored or endorsed by the Town of Chesterton.

The Porter County Council okays a $20-million bond issue to finance drainage improvements. The Porter County Council also okays a $30-million bond for capital improvements, to be re-paid over 20 years using an annual $2.1 million from the interest earned by the investment of the Porter Memorial Hospital sale proceeds.

At the Izaak Walton League’s national convention in Sandusky, Ohio, Elizabeth “Liz” McCloskey is awarded the Hall of Fame Award, and Susan Swarner of Chesterton and Gary Brown the Conservation Award.

The reconfiguration of Gateway Blvd. begins, a $168,948 project pursued by the Chesterton Redevelopment Commission to remove the bottleneck in the westbound lanes, caused by the median traffic islands, which frequently stacks motorists for two or three cycles of the traffic signal at Ind. 49. Joe Wagner, owner of Joe’s Towing Inc. of Chesterton, loads as many pallets of bottled water as he can on two flatbed wreckers, then transports them to flood-ravaged Houston, Texas, where he remains for two weeks moving abandoned vehicles.


The U.S. Surface Transportation Board puts the kibosh on a plan by Great Lakes Basin Transportation to build a 261-mile railroad--with 110 trains per day--which would traverse southern Porter County. CHS girls CX runner Shelby Bullock sets a school record at the Marion Invitational at Indiana Wesleyan. PCSP report: A Chicago resident’s handgun is stolen after being left unattended in a designated safe area at the North Porter County Conservation Club in Liberty Township.

All nine Duneland Schools earn the 2017 Gold Star School Counseling Award from the Indiana Department of Education. Chester Inc. presents a concept drawing for an educational programming building at Sunset Hill Farm Park; shaped like a grain bin, it would not replace the proposed Raise the Barn Center, planned for well over a decade.

The PCSP reminds folks that target shooting is not illegal in unincorporated areas of the county but urges residents to call 911 immediately with safety concerns, after two people target-shooting in Jackson Township with an inadequate backstop hit a house and a moving vehicle. Students and faculty at CHS, under the direction of staffer Mary (Nallenweg) Whitmer, place 2,977 American flags in the lawn outside the stadium in honor of the martyrs of 9/11, continuing a tradition begun by the O’Keefe Family.

A Chesterton Tribune reporter learns a hard lesson about law enforcement’s use of deadly force, on a firearms simulator made available to the CPD by the town’s insurance underwriter, Bliss McKnight. The Porter Town Council to Porter Cove residents: Don’t expect the rehab of Kids Cove Park anytime soon.

Six CHS students are named National Merit Scholarship semifinalists: Raymond “CJ” Connors, Tristran Dooley, Karlyn Layman, Bryan Pamintuan, Nolan Poczekay, and Kristina Stevenson. The second annual Dunes Apple Festival is held at Chellberg Farm in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. CHS girls golfer Elyse Stasil wins the individual sectional title at Valparaiso County Club, while the team finishes runner-up and advances to regional competition.

Liberty Elementary School raises $3,143 for brain tumor research. The CHS Trojan Guard takes second at the Concord HS Minuteman Invitational. The CHS boys tennis team wins the conference title. A ribbon-cutting is held for the new Easton Park subdivision at the terminus of East Porter Ave. and 250E, which when built out will be the largest subdivision ever developed in Chesterton, with 346 single-family homes.

The Jim Bonfield Memorial Benefit Ride is held in Valparaiso, a fundraiser established to help the Bonfield Family; Bonfield, a retired Indiana State Police detective and the Duneland Schools Director of Transportation, was killed in a motorcycle accident in 2016; his wife, Karla, was grievously injured and has undergone numerous surgeries. Frontline Foundations Inc. holds the sixth annual Hooked on Art festival in Downtown Chesterton, a fundraiser benefiting its not-for-profit substance abuse treatment program for adults.

Steve Grimaldi, the new proprietor of Byron’s Barbershop at 121 S. Calumet Road in Chesterton, continues a 125-year-old tradition in the Downtown. Mike Brickner, director of the newly merged 911 communications and emergency management services department, names his deputy in charge of EMA: Lance Bella, former chief and master chief at U.S. Gary Works.

CHS girls golfer Elyse Stasil takes the individual title at regional competition. Alex Lopez, 21, of Plainfield, Ill., drowns off Porter Beach when his kayak capsizes; the Porter Fire Department reports that Lopez was not wearing a life jacket. Boy Scout Lucas Huffman of Troop 908 earns the Eagle Scout rank. The Town of Chesterton is awarded a $379,000 50/50 grant from the State of Indiana’s Community Crossings program, to fund paving and infrastructure work.

The CHS girls soccer team wins the outright conference title, beating LaPorte HS 2-0. NIPSCO announces that it’s seeking a natural-gas rate hike from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission which would raise the average household’s monthly bill by $10 or 20 percent. The Porter County Council votes on second reading to approve a $30-million bond issue for capital improvements, including the renovation of the North Porter County Complex in Portage; Portage officials and businesses had hoped the county would opt instead to construct a brand-new building.

The CHS boys tennis team wins its fourth consecutive sectional title. The Chesterton Fire Department reports that a witch burned at The Flower Cart. Six CHS students are named Commended Students by the National Merit Scholarship Program: Aaron Brookhouse, Laura Estridge, Joshua Guzek, Jason Hebblethwaite, Tanaykumar Murarka, and Andrew Smenyak.


CHS boys XC runner Jacob Kintzele wins the conference title, leading the team to a third-place finish. CHS girls XC team finishes second at the conference meet. CHS girls golfer Elyse Stasil finishes seventh at state finals. No one is injured in a fire which destroys a garage and damages a home in the 1800 block of Elgin Street in Chesterton; total damage is estimated at $60,000.

CHS Homecoming Royalty is announced: King, Aramis Solis; Queen, Aysha Moore; Prince, Jack Ward; and Princess, Madison Wrigley. Porter Police credit 219 Taxi cabbie Tonya Gonzalez with foiling a scam targeting a senior. Boy Scout James Dean Cory II of Troop 928 earns the Eagle Scout rank.

A ceremony is held to celebrate the opening of a water trail along the East Branch of the Little Calumet River, developed and funded by the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, the National Park Service, the Shirley Heinze Land Trust, and Save the Dunes. The 16th annual Community Prayer Breakfast is held at St. Patrick Catholic Church, with the keynote address delivered by Mark Heckler.

The Indiana Department of Education releases school grades, based on ISTEP scores: the nine Duneland Schools average grade drops slightly to 3.1 or a B for the 2016-17 academic year, compared to a 3.3 or B+ for the 2015-16 academic year.

The CHS girls soccer team beats Valparaiso HS 3-2 to win the sectional title. CHS XC runner Jacob Kintzele wins the sectional title, leading the team to a second-place finish. CHS girls XC runner Shelby Bullock wins the sectional title, leading the team to a third-place finish. CHS boys tennis double Chad Whelan and Blake Ellen win the sectional title.

The Duneland School Board and Duneland Teachers Association peacefully negotiate a new two-year collective bargaining agreement. The CHS Trojan Guard earns the Gold rating in preliminary competition, advancing to the ISSMA finals. NIPSCO projects that winter heating bills are expected to stay flat this season.

Porter Health Care System CEO Stephen Lunn resigns to accept a position in Nashville, Tenn. Porter Town Council Member Ross LeBleu tells Porter Cove residents to raise money for Kids Cove Park improvements, not ask for handouts. CHS XC runner Jacob Kintzele wins the regional title, leading the team to a third-place finish. The CHS girls soccer team falls in the regional semifinal after an outstanding season. The CHS volleyball team falls in the sectional semifinal.

CHS girls XC runner Shelby Bullock takes second in regional competition, as does the team. A total of 3.31 inches of rain falls on Duneland, filling the storage tank at the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant to 5 percent of capacity. Sheriff Dave Reynolds announces his intention to seek re-election in 2018.

Elizabeth “Betty” Canright, publisher of the Chesterton Tribune, dies at 90. CHS XC runner Jacob Kintzele finishes second at the semistate meet, as the team qualifies for state finals. The CHS girls XC team qualifies for state finals with its sixth-place finish in semistate competition. No one is injured in a fire which badly damages a home on Knoelke Drive in Porter; damage is estimated at $250,000.

A total of 2.78 inches of rain falls on Duneland and fills the Chesterton wastewater treatment plant’s 1.2-million storage tank, forcing the plant to discharge into the Little Calumet River after an ongoing rehab of its clarifiers reduces the plant’s capacity by 33 percent. CHS senior Amera Abu hakmeh, 17, dies in a head-on car crash on U.S. 20 on her way to school, after Gayle Brown, 85, of Greencastle, Ind., crosses the center line; Brown is also killed and Amera’s sister, a seventh-grader at CMS, is badly injured.

CHS boys XC runner Jacob Kintzele takes seventh at state, while the team finishes 20th. CHS girls XC runner Shelby Bullock takes 13th at state, while the team finishes 16th. Gov. Eric Holcomb appoints attorney Jeffrey Clymer to the bench of Porter Superior Court No. 2, vacated by the retirement of Judge Bill Alexa.

Keegan Whaling, 20, of Valparaiso, goes missing on Long Lake when his canoe capsizes; heavy vegetation in the water impedes the search for his body. The Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s annual business trick-or-treat fills the Downtown with hundreds of kids and families.


U.S. Steel posts a net income in the third quarter of $147 million or 83 cents per diluted share. NiSource posts a net income in the third quarter of $14 million or 4 cents basic earnings per share. The Porter County Commissioners adopt an ordinance requiring the installation of carbon monoxide detectors in all new homes.

The operator of the defunct website, David Wichlinski and his company Hyperion Consulting, apologizes to Pavilion Partners LLC principal Chuck Williams and acknowledges that certain statements about Williams posted to the website, Facebook, and Twitter were untrue, as part of a settlement of Williams’ defamation lawsuit against Wichlinski.

The U.S. House passes legislation authored by Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, which would re-designate Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as a national park. The Indiana Court of Appeals rejects the appeal of Thomas Reichler, 20, a former Porter resident convicted of murder in the 2014 fatal shooting of Alexius Tapia, 36, in front of his wife and children at their home in Portage.

The Town of Burns Harbor is awarded an Indiana Arts Commission grant, under which it will receive 50 hours of placemaking consulting services for Food Truck Square. The Shirley Heinze Land Trust acquires 43.5 acres along the Little Calumet River in Westchester Township, west of Brummitt Road and south of Brummitt Elementary. The Nov. 7 trial of Don Johnson--the former Duneland real estate broker charged with 19 felonies, most of them related to the sale of securities--is canceled after his attorneys withdraw from the case.

Porter Superior Judge Pro Tem Thomas Webber Sr. rules that accused murderer Christopher Dillard’s statement made to his girlfriend in a recorded CPD interview room--“I killed the girl”--will be admissible as evidence when Dillard stands trial for the slaying of Upper Deck bartender Nicole Gland. The Chesterton Park Board hears a plan to retrofit an old railroad boxcar as a public restroom--and a caboose as a warming center--for installation in Thomas Centennial Park.

ArcelorMittal posts a net income in the third quarter of $1.2 billion or $1.18 basic earnings per share. After weeks of trying to persuade a municipal employee or official to apply for a vacant seat on the Advisory Plan Commission, the Chesterton Town Council appoints one of its own to the seat--Member Nate Cobbs, R-4th--instead of a second 11th-hour applicant, Deputy Fire Chief Nate Williams.

The Surfrider Foundation, a not-for-profit advocating for clean water, files notice in federal court to sue U.S. Steel Corporation for repeated violations of the Clean Water Act, in connection with the accidental release in April of a known carcinogen into Burns Waterway, following an equipment failure: meanwhile, the University of Chicago’s Abrams Environmental Law Clinic finds documents which indicate that U.S. Steel released 57 more pounds of the chemical in October, following a second equipment failure, and then asked the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to keep its release submission “confidential.”

The Chesterton Branding Leadership Team unveils a brand-new brand at a Town Council meeting: “Celebrating the Art of Life.” Valparaiso University Law School responds to a funding crisis by canceling its 2018-19 first-year class. The Westchester Public Library Board of Directors begins a search for an assistant director. Ryan Smiley, president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Porter County, is tapped to serve in the same positions of a merged organization, when on Jan. 1, 2018, the Porter County and Lake County units are formally consolidated.

The body of missing canoeist Keegan Whaling is recovered from Long Lake, three weeks after his craft capsized. The Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s annual Hometown Holiday Celebration is held in Downtown Chesterton, coinciding with Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday. Heather Augustyn, Chesterton resident and the world’s foremost authority on Jamaican ska, releases her latest book, a collaboration with Adam Reeves: Alpha Boys’ School: Cradle of Jamaican Music.

The Chesterton Town Council instructs Police Chief Dave Cincoski and Fire Chief John Jarka to investigate the feasibility of obtaining and installing a Safe Haven Baby Box on municipal property, following the discovery of a newborn infant’s afterbirth in a portable restroom on the Prairie Duneland Trail; investigators speculate that the discovery may be related to a newborn left in a baby box the day before in Coolsprings Township in LaPorte County.

Sheriff Dave Reynolds makes Ruth “Babe” Poparad an honorary Sheriff’s Deputy, to mark her 33 faithful years as a crossing guard at Yost Elementary. Work begins on the Town of Chesterton’s new 13.8-mile fiber-optic network, one month after the Chesterton Redevelopment Commission entered into a $1.23-million contract with CSU Inc. to build it, and a revenue-sharing contract with Nitco to operate it.

Porter PD report: $60,000 is missing from the accounts of the Discovery Charter School’s all-volunteer not-for-profit Parent Advisory Council (PAC); the school’s administration says in an e-mail to parents that the “person responsible for the missing deposits and inappropriate cash withdrawals and debit transactions is no longer affiliated with PAC and does not have any access to PAC bank accounts.” NIPSCO agrees to pay $900,000 to settle a complaint filed against it by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission in connection with 261 violations relating to its obligation “to timely and accurately locate its underground facilities.”


The CHS Music Department holds the 45th annual Madrigal Dinner in the Great Hall. The CHS girls basketball team improves to 8-0 with a win over Michigan City HS. The Chesterton Park Board votes unanimously to authorize Town Engineer Mark O’Dell to begin the procurement process for a boxcar to be retrofitted into a restroom and installed at Thomas Centennial Park.

Report: Officers from the PCSP and Valparaiso PD participating in No-Shave November raise $11,000 for the United Way of Porter County. Don Johnson, the former Duneland real estate broker charged with 19 felonies--most in connection with the sale of securities--is appointed a public defender, or as court records put it, “Indigent Counsel at County Expense.”

Dunes Action! is named Frontline Advocate of the Year by the Hoosier Environmental Council for its opposition to plans to build a banquet center at the Indiana Dunes State Park beach. The CMS Chess Club takes second place at the Chess Invitational hosted by Morton HS in Hammond. Kramer & Leonard, founded in Chesterton in 1983, is acquired by Des Plaines Office Equipment.

CFD report: Three separate natural-gas lines are ruptured by excavators, after NIPSCO’s contracted locating service mislocates them, or fails to locate them at all; the breaches occur one week after NIPSCO agreed to pay a $900,000 fine related to 261 faulty locates in 2015-16. The Indiana Department of Education’s newly approved graduation requirements--scheduled to take effect in 2023--are a cause of concern to the Duneland School Board, whose members worry that students may be forced to make premature career decisions in their freshman year.

Paul Tharp--the last of the Wise Men to religiously attend Chesterton Town Council meetings--dies at 70; he previously served on the Redevelopment Commission and the Tax Abatement Advisory Committee, diligently policed the recycling site at the municipal complex, and was an outspoken booster of the Town of Chesterton who regularly chided and praised the council as he saw fit.

David A. Jones, 24, of Chesterton is struck and killed by a semi while attempting to cross Ind. 49 on a bicycle in the early morning hours during a snowfall. The CHS girls basketball team improves to 10-0 with a win against Portage HS. The former offices of Gerometta & Kinel Architects at 1200 N. Ind. 49 in Westchester Township are demolished; new property owner Vic Gerhardt eyes the development of a restaurant on the site.

Chesterton Police Lt. Joe Christian tells the Town Council that officers’ low wages impact public safety, having prompted 14 over the last 20 years or so to leave the CPD--and leave it short-staffed--for greener pastures with other departments. The Chesterton Town Council is told that a peculiarity in the state’s Safe Haven law means that no baby box may be installed until the statute is amended.

A train stopped for at least 90 minutes on the Norfolk Southern lane blocks all at-grade crossings in Chesterton and turns the Downtown into a parking lot. The CHS boys basketball team improves to 5-0 on the season with a win against East Chicago Central HS. The CHS boys swim team stays perfect for the season with a win over Valparaiso HS.

Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris reports that the 22 fatal opioid overdoses recorded through September already exceed the total number recorded in 2016: 20. Porter County Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, announces that flashing caution lights will be installed early next year at the intersection of Meridian Road and C.R. 950 in Liberty Township. The Porter County Park Board makes it a priority to find a permanent home for the farm animals at Sunset Hill Farm Park.

CPD Dispatcher Mary Conder receives a commendation for her highly professional response to the theft of a Town of Chesterton municipal vehicle, leading directly to the arrest of a suspect and the recovery of the vehicle. Tyler Brock is named 2017 District 10 Conservation Officer of the Year. Centier Bank donates $25,000 toward the construction of a new Caring Place facility.

The Porter County Commissioners approve plans to demolish a decommissioned Sheriff’s substation on C.R. 700N in South Haven and replace it with a new Highway Department substation, to improve snow-plowing efforts in the winter. The Porter County Commissioners are told that moving from a commission-based to a fee-based model for insurance coverage earlier this year has saved the county $76,323 or 6.4 percent from what it paid in 2016.

The CHS boys basketball team improves to 6-0 while the girls team drops its first of the season, to Valparaiso HS. The Chesterton Tribune announces the winners of its annual Christmas Coloring Contest: Megan Fischer, 4, of Porter; Stella Stewart, 7, of Chesterton; and Andersen Himan, 9, of Westville.

Addison Agen, 16, of Fort Wayne, takes second place on The Voice; Addison is the daughter of Morrison (Nobles) Agen, CHS grad (Class of 1992). Taltree Arboretum & Gardens in Union Township, founded by Damien and Rita Gabis, is donated to Purdue University Northwest, which will assume operations of the 300-acre property early in 2018. The Duneland Chamber of Commerce is awarded a $1,375 contract to coordinate the Town of Burns Harbor’s 2018 Food Truck Square.

The Chesterton Town Council finds sufficient funds in unspent CEDIT moneys to award all full-time non-elected municipal employees a $1,500 bonus. United Steelworkers Local 6787 puts Christmas under the tree for more than 40 families--and 100 kids--in need, by providing parents with $100 per child for a spree at the Valparaiso Target and a $25 Strack & Van Til gift card.

After 45 years in the fire service, Lewis Craig Sr. retires as Porter Fire Chief. Anne Hokanson, for years a teacher in the Duneland schools, dies at 105. Dr. Dirk Baer, who served the Duneland Schools for 26 years--11 of them as superintendent--dies at 62.



Posted 12/29/2017




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