Chesterton Tribune



Year in Review: Anger, sadness and achievement: Duneland says goodbye to 2016

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Dunelanders seethed in 2016. They grieved. Anger, dismay, joy, sorrow: emotions ran high in the community this year, and sometimes very low.

The Pavilion

Dunes Action rang in the New Year in the reasonable belief that Pavilion Partners’ plans for a restaurant and banquet center at Indiana Dunes State Park had foundered the previous fall on the rocks of the IATC’s unanimous rejection of the LLC’s application for a three-way permit. Then, early in January, two different bills were introduced by Republican lawmakers, both of them requiring the IATC to issue permits--one to the DNR on behalf of its state parks, the other to retailers engaged in “economic development”--without local ABC oversight or investigation.

Dunes Action, outraged, promptly and loudly cried foul, blasted the pols for working to circumvent a community’s will and prerogative, and suggested that Pavilion Partners principal Chuck Williams’ embeddedness in the Indiana GOP may have smoothed the way for attempted end-runs. When the House Public Policy Committee held a hearing on the economic development bill, a group of Dunes Actioners made the long drive to Indy to remonstrate. Committee members were unimpressed and voted unanimously to send the bill to the floor, after--curiously--amending it, by emptying it of its original language and inserting in its place the text of the DNR bill.

The legislation ultimately passed the House and the Senate and 10,000 signatures on a Dunes Action-circulated petition failed to persuade Gov. Pence to veto it.

Dunes Action had one last chance this year to voice its opposition to alcohol service at the beach: at a public hearing in November before the Natural Resources Commission at Portage’s Woodland Park, specifically on a proposed rule change--prompted by the new law--which would shift the responsibility for obtaining a three-way from private concessionaires to the DNR itself.

The nearly 200 remonstrators were galled enough as the hearing began. They became positively livid when told, by an NRC rep, that they were objecting to the wrong thing: alcohol service at Dunes State Park had already been legalized, by a bill passed in 2015. The only relevant issue, she said, was the proposed rule change, and any principled argument against alcohol service per se would fall on deaf ears.

Road Work

By the middle of summer Dunelanders found themselves living--and, more to the point, driving--in a three-sided box: Ind. 49 had been reduced to one lane in each direction for re-paving, the Indiana Toll Road was similarly a stop-and-go nightmare of lane restrictions, and INDOT had begun an ambitious re-pave, from state line to state line, of I-94.

Savvy motorists began taking the scenic route everywhere, winding their way along the back roads of Liberty and Jackson just to get to Valparaiso or the grocery, while Meridian Road became the new bypass. Folks who decided to brave Ind. 49 anyway found themselves in a maddening gridlock and at the mercy of irate, distracted drivers who thought it a fine idea to while away their time in traffic on their smartphones.

The CPD responded to scores of rear-end chain-reaction crashes, a few of them spectacular but none, mercifully, fatal.


United Steelworkers employed at ArcelorMittal had good reason to be irked on Jan. 1. Four months to the day earlier their old contract had expired and negotiations long since stalled. They’d have to wait nearly five more months for a new tentative agreement to be reached.

U.S. Steel’s non-represented workforce, on the other hand, had reason to be fearful in the New Year. In April USS confirmed it was slashing management by 25 percent, in response to market conditions and as part of the long-term belt-tightening strategy dubbed The Carnegie Way.


The Duneland Teachers Association was also involved in a contentious contract dispute this year, following the expiration of its previous seven-year agreement on July 31. Veteran teachers--who the DTA said had received neither raises nor cost-of-living increases since 2009--were especially aggrieved by what some took to be an unexpected intransigence on the administration’s part. Then, like smoke in the wind, the tension was gone, when a new tentative contract was reached and promptly ratified in the last week of September.

The DTA and the administration were still negotiating, however, when both parties took umbrage at the proposed South Shore Classical Academy’s application for a charter school in Porter County. Teachers and administrators alike jammed the Library Service Center for a public hearing, where they clamored to express their indignation and resentment at the perceived slight to the Duneland Difference. Two days later, the South Shore Classical Academy’s organizers withdrew their application.


Yet, too, there were as many occasions for celebration as for rancor this year. CHS, as always, gave folks something to smile about, as its athletes, scholars, and musicians continued the tradition of outstanding performances and honorable finishes in state and national competition.

Putting Duneland on the Map in a really big way was former CHS swimmer Blake Pieroni, who set three personal bests in the 100 free to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Team, then glommed a Gold in the 4x100 free at the Rio Games. The community got a chance to pat its Favorite Son on the back when Pieroni was named Grand Marshall of the CHS Homecoming Parade in September.

Exemplifying Duneland’s volunteerism and generosity was the success of the capital campaign which is funding the cutting-edge addition to the Duneland Unit of the Boys and Girls Club: ground broke in the spring and by year’s end the building had taken shape nicely.


And there was grief.

In January, Elizabeth Scott, 38, of Porter, died after being struck by a vehicle while running along a country road in Jackson Township. She taught at the Field Station Cooperative School and coached the Discovery Charter School’s run club.

In March, educator and legislator Ralph Ayres, 67, passed unexpectedly.

In June, Cadet Mitchell Alexander Winey, 21--U.S. Army, CHS Class of 2014--died in a training accident in Fort Hood, Texas, after completing his second year at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

In September, Roy Flaherty, long-time Park Board member and friend of the Chesterton Parks, passed at 64.

In November, Jo Anne Winey-Babcock, a past member of the Chamber of Commerce and Duneland YMCA boards and a dedicated community booster, passed at 64.

Rest in peace and Godspeed.


The Porter County Council appoints Democrat Gregg Simms of Valparaiso, former 10th District state representative, to replace Rudy Sutton on the Alcoholic Beverage Commission, after Sutton opted not to seek re-appointment. The Porter County Commissioners bounce Ralph Levi from the ABC, replacing him with swimming pool installer Jason Gilliana of Valparaiso; Levi was part of the majority which voted to deny Pavilion Partners LLC a three-way permit for a Pavilion restaurant and proposed banquet center at Indiana Dunes State Park.

Emerson DeLaney is elected president of the Chesterton Town Council; Ray Poparad president of the Burns Harbor Town Council; and Greg Stinson president of the Porter Town Council. The Indiana Department of Education (DOE) releases the 2015 ISTEP scores; new standards lead to declines in the Duneland Schools: overall 64.8 percent of students passed in both English and math, compared to 82.1 percent in 2014; statewide, 53.5 percent passed, compared to 74.7 in 2014.

State Rep. James Merritt, R-31st--representing portions of Hamilton and Marion counties--introduces SB188, which would force the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (IATC) to grant three-way permits to the Department of Natural Resources on behalf of state parks without local ABC oversight or investigation; Merritt says that the thrust of the bill is to make “state parks more competitive with their competition”; Dunes Action calls it “an attempt to circumvent the normal permitting process.”

Frederick D. Fegely, 67, is charged with murder and arson in connection with the fire which killed his mother in her Ogden Dunes home in April 2015. Ann O’Heir is named president and CEO of the Visiting Nurse Association. Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder says that Pavilion Partners principal Chuck Williams filed a written request in August 2015 to appeal the property-tax assessments of several parcels on the former Johnson Inn property at Porter Beach, owned by Johnson Inn Inc. and Carl Dahlin Jr.

State Reps. Sean Eberhart, R-57th, and Tom Dermody, R-20th, introduce HB1247, which would exempt from local ABC proceedings any application for a retailer’s permit “issued for economic development reasons”; the bill would also preclude IATC from denying a permit in a residential district on the ground that it “would unreasonably impair the enjoyment of residents”; Dunes Action blasts the bill on the ground that it would curb local control of alcohol permits.

The Porter County Park Board sets its priorities for 2016: the Sunset Hill Farm education center and Aukiki Park. The Burns Harbor Town Council votes 4-1 to abandon town caucuses and move to primary elections. The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance issues Porter County’s budget order: all taxing districts in Duneland will see lower tax rates in 2016. The United Steelworkers (USW) reports that contract talks with ArcelorMittal got off to a rocky start in the New Year, after resuming from the holiday break.

Report: the Senate Public Policy Committee will not hear State Sen. James Merritt’s SB188--which would require IATC to issue three-way permits to the DNR--yet the bill has not been withdrawn and its status is unclear. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, at annual town forum in Chesterton, says that the National Park Service has no legal standing to intervene in the Pavilion Partners’ lease with DNR.

Chesterton High School Congressional debaters Megan Daye and Paul Petro, in competition at Concord HS, qualify for the National Tournament of Speech and Debate in Salt Lake City, Utah, in June. Boy Scouts Fred Owens and Collin St. Mary of Troop 908 earn the rank of Eagle Scout. The Indiana Department of Transportation announces plans to add east- and westbound left-turn lanes at the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and Waverly Road in Porter.

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) recommends a substantial reduction in the electric rate hike sought by the Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO); the latter is seeking $126.6 million in additional annual operating revenues, while the OUCC recommends instead an increase of only $15.6 million. Elizabeth Scott, 38, of Porter, dies after being struck by a vehicle while jogging on C.R. 1200N in Jackson Township; Scott taught at the Field Station Cooperative Pre-school and coached the Run Club at Discovery Charter School.

CHS senior band students Fred Owens and Joel Peterson perform in the 2016 Indiana Music Educators Association Honor Concert. CHS debaters Tim Vincent, Joel Peterson, Nathan Poczekay, Fred Owens, Mark Wilcox, Hayden Hodge, Kaylinn Woolever, Katelyn Balakir, Katrina Balon, and Quinlan Doolin qualify for nationals in district competition at Plymouth HS. Chesterton Middle School seventh-grader Quentin Funderburg wins the school-level competition of the National Geography Bee.

Report: all nine Duneland Schools, the Discovery Charter School, and St. Patrick Catholic School receive an “A” grade in school accountability for 2015 from DOE. U.S. Steel (USS) posts a net loss of $1.5 billion in 2015 (net income in 2014 of $102 million) and a net loss of $999 million in 4Q 2015 (net loss in 3Q of $173 million, net income in year-ago of $275 million).

The House Public Policy Committee votes 12-0 to send HB1247 to the floor for a vote; HB1247, however, has been emptied of the original language authored by State Reps. Sean Eberhart and Tim Dermody and replaced with the text of State Sen. James Merritt’s SB188, which would force IATC to issue the DNR three-way permits. The USW rallies for a fair contract at the headquarters in Chicago of ArcelorMittal USA; ArcelorMittal Chair Lakshmi Mittal meets with a delegation of Steelworkers.

The CHS debate team wins the state championship for the third consecutive year, beating West Lafayette HS by a the score of 97 to 85.5; Tim Vincent and Joel Peterson successfully defend their previous state title in Policy.


The National Park Service (NPS) announces plans to restore the Great Marsh wetlands in Beverly Shores later in the winter or in early spring. The USW ratifies a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with USS by a 2-1 margin. Liberty Intermediate School student Noah Fletcher wins the school spelling bee, with Eric Swanson second and Cormac Fallon third.

The Porter County Council approves the articles of a charitable non-profit foundation in which it will invest the proceeds from the sale of Porter Memorial Hospital to Community Health Systems. The Indiana House passes HB1247--which would force IATC to issue three-way permits to the DNR--by a 58-38 vote: eight Democrats join 50 Republicans in voting for the bill.

The Duneland School Board approves a proposal to introduce boys and girls tennis at CMS, with the season to begin after spring break. The Discovery Charter School Science Bowl team of fifth- and sixth-graders wins the state championship in its class. Report: the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled 2.8 million tons of cargo in 2015, the second highest tonnage in more than two decades and the third highest in its history.

Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, announces his decision not to seek a fifth term; Porter County Council Member Jim Biggs, R-at large, files for Evans’ seat, as do Chesterton Redevelopment Commission Member Jeff Trout and Portage City Council Member John Cannon.

ArcelorMittal posts a net loss of $7.9 billion in 2015 (net loss in 2014 of $1.08 billion) and a net loss in the 4Q of $6.68 billion (net loss in 3Q of $711 million and net loss in year-ago of $955 million). The Shirley Heinze Land Trust announces the conclusion of its first-ever capital campaign to raise funds to permanently protect an additional 500 acres of environmentally significant land; Shirley Heinze’s goal was $3.5 million, with contributions actually totaling more than $4.6 million.

The CHS girls swim team finishes third at state. State Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, pledges to “do whatever she can to get HB1247 killed” in the Senate. The Indiana Association of Chiefs of Police honors Chesterton Police Department Reserve Sgt. Dale Pflughaupt with its 2015 Community Service Award. NiSource Inc. posts a net income of $302 million in 2015 (net income of $530 million in 2014) and net income of $59.4 million in 4Q ($152.4 million in the year-ago).

Diva Bridegroom is honored as CHS Trojan Guard Drum Major, Riley Franklin as Outstanding Trojan Guardsman, and Natalie Stemler as Outstanding Trojan Guard Auxiliary Member. The CHS speech team ends its regular 2015-16 season with a strong finish at its annual Skeffington Memorial Speech Invitational, with nine tournament champions. NIPSCO agrees to cut in half a proposed 11.5-percent electric rate hike, settling for 5.4 percent; the agreement with the OUCC is subject to review and approval by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).

Chesterton Town Council Member Jim Ton, R-1st, is elected chair of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission’s Executive Board. Local homeschooled student Adam Chesak is named a finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Indiana Dunes State Park seeks a permit from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to realign Dunes Creek, which has meandered several hundred feet to the west.

The Porter County Drainage Board votes to end the “ditch tax” levied against the owners of property crossed by regulated drains. CHS wrestler Jack Tolin finishes sixth at state. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office files suit against a Chesterton travel company, Sunbound Travels LLC, and its owner, Nicole Scott, alleging that the company sold “bogus vacation packages to unsuspecting customers.”

The Senate Public Policy Committee appends HB1247--which would force IATC to issue three-way permits to the DNR--to an omnibus bill, HB1386, then votes 7-2 to send the bill to the floor. House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, delivers a petition with the signatures of nearly 10,000 people--collected by Dunes Action and opposing the construction of a banquet center at Indiana Dunes State Park--to Gov. Mike Pence. The CHS boys swim team finishes sixth at state.


Seven CHS seniors are named finalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program: Christine Craig, Keely Ellman, Jared Gallina, Fred Owens, Joel Peterson, Nathan Poczekay, and Hunter Warren. Contract talks between the USW and ArcelorMittal reach the six-month mark. The CHS Japanese Olympiad team wins the state championship in the third-year division, is runner-up in the second-year division, and takes third in the fourth-year division competition at Ball State University.

Community Health Systems, the owner of Porter Regional Hospital, buys LaPorte and Starke hospitals; part of the deal is a $140-million commitment to provide new services, acquire new technology, and recruit new physicians. The 400 employees of Urschel Laboratories Inc. at Coffee Creek Center in Chesterton acquire an ownership-stake in the company, under which stock shares will be allocated annually to employee accounts at no out-of-pocket cost to workers.

The annual Maple Sugar Time is held at the Chellberg Farm site at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The CHS speech team qualifies 14 for nationals: Lexi Justak, Izzy Portugal, Josh Hogan, Emily Coleman, Sam Lee, Sam Gordon, Karly Carden, James Van Drie, Ayesha Khan, Natalie Beglin, Noelle Friel, Connor Wantuch, Hanna Geiss, and Creighton Gaff. The CHS Sandpipers are Grand Champion at the Southland Show Choir Classic in Enterprise, Ala., the Drifters are runner-up in the women’s division. The Duneland Chamber of Commerce hosts the first annual Corkscrew & Brew event at Thomas Centennial Park in Chesterton.

The CHS jazz band receives Superior Gold at the ISSMA Jazz Contest at LaPorte HS. The Indiana House votes 63-30 to pass an omnibus bill which includes HB1247, which would force IATC to issue three-way permits to the DNR; the bill now goes to Gov. Pence for signing. The Chesterton Tribune reports that Pavilion Partners principal Chuck Williams’ donations to the Republican Party include rent-free offices and in-kind donations.

The St. Patrick Catholic School Science Olympiad team takes second place and earns 19 medals in competition at Purdue Calumet College. Former Valparaiso investment manager William Cantrell is sentenced to seven years in federal prison and ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution to the nine persons who entrusted him with their retirement funds, after he’s convicted of mail fraud.

The CHS speech team finishes second in Class AAA and third overall at state; Tim Vincent wins impromptu and Hanna Geiss discussion. Indiana American Water Company announces plans to replace old water mains on the west side of town, between West Porter Ave. and West Morgan Ave. The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission awards a $124,275 contract to NITCO, a Hebron DSL and broadband provider, to engineer the town’s new fiber-optic network.

The team of Zachary Mullins, Josh Sweet, Xavier Pittman, and Calvin Anders wins the CHS Book Battle championship. A groundbreaking ceremony is held for the new addition to the Duneland Unit of the Boys and Girls Club of Porter County; the addition will double the size of the current building and feature a full-size gymnasium and two-story climbing wall. The CMS Science Olympiad team takes second at state. Gov. Pence signs a bill repealing ISTEP.

Terry and Beth Gassoway, owners of the Port Drive In, announce their retirement at the end of the 2016 season, after 38 years of serving chili dogs and BK root beer; the Port goes up for sale. Boy Scouts Connor Archbald, Colten Carter, Josh Owens, and Josh Williams of Troop 908 earn Eagle Scout rank. Educator, legislator, Dunelander Ralph Ayres dies at the age of 67.

Gov. Pence signs an omnibus bill which includes HB1247; effective July 1, IATC will be forced to issue three-way permits to the DNR without local ABC oversight or investigation. An unknown person forces entry into the Pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park, damaging three sets of doors and locks.


A pilot bikes-on-trains program--weekends only--begins on the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District’s South Shore commuter line. The Chesterton Tribune begins its 133rd year as a community newspaper. A total of 1.14 inches of rain falls on Duneland, most of it in 30 minutes, giving the Chesterton Utility’s new 1.2-million gallon storage tank its first genuine workout, with 10,000 gallons of wastewater and runoff being diverted from the system until the treatment plant has a chance to catch up.

ArcelorMittal idles the 84-inch hot strip mill at its East Chicago facility--but lays off none of the 300 who work the mill--in order to take capacity off line and rationalize the company’s U.S. operations. USS confirms that it’s downsizing its non-represented workforce by 25 percent; a spokesperson calls the move a “restructuring” and attributes it to current market conditions and to the long-term strategic belt-tightening dubbed the Carnegie Way.

Michael Clemmens, 21, the Chesterton resident and Valparaiso University student accused of a hostage hoax at the VU library in April 2015, is vindicated, after a voice recognition expert identifies the voice of the person who phone-hoaxed him three days after the incident at VU as that of the person who perpetrated the hostage hoax in the first place; the two charges filed against Clemmens--intimidation and false informing--are dismissed.

The Porter County Park Board is forced by the County Council to chose which project--the Raise the Barn education center at Sunset Hill Farm or Aukiki Park--it wants to pursue funding for in 2016; the Park Board plumps for Aukiki. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Paul Labovitz says that potentially dangerous cavities in the sand at Mt. Baldy are only one reason the site remains closed; it remains off limits to the public also due to severe erosion caused by currently high lake levels.

The residents of the Tamarack subdivision ask the Chesterton Town Council to build a sidewalk on the west side of C.R. 100E south of 1100N; the council says in response that the area in question is in unincorporated Liberty Township and that the town has no jurisdiction there. U.S. Sens. Dan Coats, R-Ind., and Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., ask the Government Publishing Office’s Style Board to formally refer to Indiana residents as Hoosiers.

AP: the black bear which wandered into Northwest Indiana in 2015 from southwest Michigan is captured and euthanized in Michigan after it became aggressive and attempted to enter homes. WDSO broadcasts from the CHS cafeteria and the Red Cup Cafe in Downtown Chesterton. A boil order is issued to 10,000 folks in Duneland, Portage, and South Haven after a 16-inch water main breaks in the area of U.S. 12 and Ind. 149 in Burns Harbor.

Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris attributes a drop in fatal heroin overdoses in 2015 to the Narcan kits issued to Porter County police officers. The Shirley Heinze Land Trust acquires 165 acres along the Little Calumet River adjacent to the National Lakeshore’s Heroin Rookery site in Pine Township. Shifting Sands: On the Path to Sustainability, a documentary on the Indiana Dunes produced by environmentalist Lee Botts, premieres on Lakeshore Public Television (WYIN).

The 88 homes in the Fox Chase Farms subdivision in Liberty Township are connected to the Chesterton sanitary sewer system. Cathy Brown, co-owner of Valpo Velvet, is appointed to the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission to replace Jesse Harper, who resigned his seat. The CHS symphonic band receives a near perfect score at ISSMA district competition, earning both the Gold Superior and the highly coveted “With Distinction” awards.

The Chesterton Police Department (CPD) urges motorists to use extreme caution, as the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) begins a re-paving of Ind. 49 between U.S. 12 and the Indiana Toll Road.


NiSource posts a net income of $179.7 million in the 1Q (a net income of $268.4 million in the year-ago). The Duneland School Board votes unanimously to appoint Brandon Kroft to the unexpired term of the late Ralph Ayres; Kroft is a 1991 CHS graduate who previously served on the Duneland Education Foundation and the Chesterton Board of Zoning Appeals.

In the primary election, Democrat Pamela Mishler Fish beats Jesse Harper and the right to challenge incumbent State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso; incumbent Democrat Judge Julia Jent defeats challenger Michael Deppe; Republican Jim Biggs prevails over Jeff Trout and John Cannon for the open North District seat on the Porter County Commissioners; and Republicans Jeff Larson, Rich Parks, and Travis Gearhart are the top vote-getters in the pick-three contest for at-large seats on the Porter County Council, beating Ralph Levi and Howard O’Connor.

The team of Riley Hawksworth, Eric Sparks, Liam Grimes, and Mark Vear wins the WIS Book Battle championship. ArcelorMittal posts a net loss of $416M in the 1Q (net loss of $6.68 billion in the 4Q, net loss of $711 million in the year-ago). The Duneland Exchange Club presents its A.C.E Award (Accepting the Challenge of Education) to Syrian refugee Juli Hanna.

Joseph Carlin, 58, of Niles, Mich., is killed in a head-on collision on U.S. 6 in Jackson Township, after crossing the center line and colliding with a second vehicle driven by a Westville man. Boy Scout Joey Petrovitch of Troop 908 earns the Eagle Scout rank.

Five persons are injured--but miraculously no one is killed--in a six-vehicle chain-reaction accident on Ind. 49 at Gateway Blvd.; it’s the most spectacular but only one of many rear-end crashes during INDOT’s re-paving project, most of them blamed on impatience and inattentiveness; trucker Predrag Radisavljevic, 36, of Hickory Hills, Ill., who’s issued a citation for speed too great for conditions and following too closely, admits he wasn’t paying attention, the CPD says.

A house in the 1100 block of Harbor Way in the Village of Burns Harbor is gutted by a fire which spreads to the house next door; total damage to the first house is $360,000, that to the second $100,000, from a blaze which the Burns Harbor Fire Department blames on the careless use of smoking materials. USN Cdr. Scott Rosetti--CHS Class of 1994--assumes command of the USS John Paul Jones, a guided missile destroyer based in San Diego, Calif.

NIRPC Executive Board Chair Jim Ton confirms a three-week delay in the Ind. 49 re-paving job, while INDOT revises the project specs after it’s determined that the roadway’s poor substrate will require a thicker asphalt surface. Chesterton Tribune managing editor David Canright presents the Warren R. Canright Outstanding Senior Journalism Award to Katelynn Williams of the CHS Sandscript.

Ken and Pat Baur announce the closing, on Sept. 30, of Framing Concepts at 219 Broadway, marking the end of 78 continuous years of a Baur storefront in downtown Chesterton; the property is put up for sale. NICTD approves a 5-percent phased-in fare hike on the South Shore commuter line, effective July 1, for the purpose of raising additional funds for capital projects and federal grant matches. The Chesterton Math Team--comprised of students from CMS, WIS, and LIS--is the Grand Champion at the Ben Franklin Math Competition.

The Duneland School Board names Marc Urban the new CHS boys basketball coach; Urban is an Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Coach of the Year. CMS and St. Patrick Catholic School earn the DOE’s Four Star rating for the 2014-15 school year. The Chesterton Fire Department takes delivery of a new $462,362 pumper. CHS Senior Athletes of the Year are named: Garritt Slatcoff (seven varsity letters in football and track); and Desiree Bell (eight varsity letters in soccer and track).

The Chesterton Redevelopment Commission demands that the Lake Erie Land Company either repair the crumbling brick pavers at Coffee Creek Center or replace them with asphalt. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore expands by 32 acres--land adjacent to the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center--purchased on behalf of NPS by the National Park Trust with funds made available by NIPSCO.

Chesterton resident Donald Pratt, 82, dies of injuries sustained in a two-vehicle crash at the intersection of U.S. 20 and Brummitt Road in Westchester Township. Ronald Warner, 76, dies in a one-vehicle accident on Waverly Road in Porter. The Porter County Sheriff’s Police announces the results of a saturation patrol in Burns Harbor, held when the Hells Angels visit the Mill Bar & Grill for a charity event: 65 traffic stops, 21 citations, 53 written warnings, six arrests, and four impounds. Indiana Toll Road traffic is restricted to one lane in each direction, making the rush-hour commute an ordeal and rear-end collisions daily events. The Discovery Charter School begins a bee-keeping program on its property.

The M.V. Lubic officially opens the international shipping season at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor with the customary load of imported foreign steel. The circuit breaker trips in the Town of Chesterton: the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance slashes the town’s previously certified budget by $482,250.75 or 7.8 percent. USS posts a net loss of $340 million in the 1Q (a net loss of $1.13 billion in the 4Q, a net loss of $75 million in the year-ago).

Molly Hadenfelt and her American quarter horse, Sweet Comfort, win four top placings at the American Quarter Horse Association’s Level 1 championship in Oklahoma City, Okla. The USW and ArcelorMittal reach a tentative agreement, almost eight months exactly after the previous contract expired. Six members of the CHS Sandscript are winners in the annual high school writing contest sponsored by the Woman’s Press Club of Indiana: Katelynn Williams, Jennie Moran, Erin Grimes, Kady Chad, Patrick Sosby, and Katrina Gregurich.

INDOT announces Restore I-94, a $45-million project to modernize I-94 between the Illinois and Michigan borders in 2016, warning motorists to expect congestion, slow travel times, and back-ups. The Discovery Charter School breaks ground on its new building, which will include a combination gym/cafeteria and eight classrooms. The 2016 edition of Rebuilding Together Duneland is held; community projects include a fresh paint job on the Chesterton Art Center and planting and landscaping at Chesterton Park.


The 126th annual CHS commencement is held outside, in the football stadium; 440 graduates walk. Michael Jozwiak, 48, of Porter, dies in a motorcycle accident on U.S. 20, reportedly while fleeing a traffic stop. The CFD responds to multiple rear-end crashes on I-94, as INDOT’s Restore I-94 initiative results in congestion and slowdowns. The Porter Public Works Department begins an ambitious re-paving program.

Save the Dunes Executive Director Nicole Barker leaves the organization to take the position of director of capital investment and implementation at NICTD. Kristina Knowski’s watercolor “It Might Have Been a Bird” takes Best of Show at the 65th annual Woman’s Club Art Club Show.

Cadet Mitchell Alexander Winey, 21--U.S. Army, CHS Class of 2014--dies in a training accident at Fort Hood, Texas; he’s one of nine soldiers who drowned when their vehicle overturned in a flash flood, days after Winey completed his second year at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point; the community mourns as Gov. Pence orders flags at all state facilities to be flown at half-mast.

The CHS boys golf team wins its second consecutive sectional title in competition at Forest Park Golf Course. Former Duneland teachers Jim and Betty Ertel celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. The Northwest Indiana Paddlers Association lauds the Kankakee River’s designation as a National Water Trail.

The BHFD rescues eight orphaned ducklings trapped in a storm drain in the Village of Burns Harbor. The Shirley Heinze Land Trust celebrates 35 years of land conservation in Northwest Indiana. Charterboat captain Tyler Kreighbaum of Michigan City catches the largest lake trout ever in Indiana waters while fishing on Lake Michigan; the monster is 44 inches in length and weighs 38 pounds, eight pounds heavier than the previous record.

CHS golfer Mitch Davis is named to the Boys All-State Team by the Indiana High School Golf Coaches Association. The Izaak Walton League’s Indiana Division honors the Chesterton Tribune with its Russell Sinclair News Media Award, “for excellent reporting and editorials” on the Pavilion Partners’ proposed banquet center at Indiana Dunes State Park. The CHS speech and debate team wins the School of Outstanding Distinction--awarded to the top 10 teams in the country--at nationals in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The First Baptist Church of Chesterton celebrates its 60th anniversary. The second annual Kids Fishing Derby is held at Indian Springs Park in Porter, sponsored by the Porter Park Department and the Chesterton Stormwater Utility. Leroy’s Hot Stuff hosts the fifth annual Friends in Service Together (F.I.S.T.) motorcycle riding club’s Child Advocacy Benefit Ride. Lydia Johnston, 76, of Porter, dies after being struck by a train at the Norfolk Southern grade-crossing on South Jackson Blvd., while trying to cross the tracks on foot.

The Discovery Charter School shifts to self-management, officially breaking from the oversight of American Quality Schools, a management company which operates several charter schools in Indiana and Chicago. Ground breaks on the Porter Business Park, a 14,000-square foot commercial retail building on 2.4 acres just west of Porter Regional Hospital. The USW ratifies a new three-year collective bargaining agreement with ArcelorMittal, just about a year after contract talks began and nearly 10 months after the previous contract expired.

Work begins on a new canopy over the main entrance at CMS. The Porter County Council votes unanimously to allocate $2.25 million for the new animal shelter, to be built near the County Expo Center on Ind. 49 between Division Road and U.S. 30. The 20th Midsummer Solstice event is held at Chellberg Farm at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

The following Dunelanders are named as bearers of the Indiana Bicentennial Torch as it makes its way through Porter County: Anthony Paetsch, David Halkias, Dave Hartford, Paul Boyter, Geof Benson, Wendy Mang, and Jim Paglia.


The Duneland Chamber of Commerce hosts the eighth annual Fireworks at the Lakefront extravaganza at Indiana Dunes State Park and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The BHFD suspects fireworks are the cause of a fire which causes $10,000 in damage to a house in the Village of Burns Harbor.

Pedal Power, a July-to-October bike-rental business operated by Mark and Deana Lacy, opens in the cul-de-sac at the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center, with the Porter Town Council’s blessing. Former CHS swimmer Blake Pieroni wins a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team, competing at the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, after setting three different personal records in the 100 free at the qualifying finals.

Teresa M. Lawhead, 51, of Chesterton, dies in a motorcycle accident on 1100N, when Harry L. Waelde, 48, of Valparaiso, turns in front of her bike. Fourth months after Indiana American Water Company began replacing water mains on the west side of town, the house-to-house tie-in process hasn’t yet begun; neither has restoration of road cuts and front yards.

The Indiana Natural Resources Commission gives preliminary approval to a rule change which would permit the DNR to obtain a three-way permit from the IATC, to reflect legislation which took effect on July 1; currently the rule permits a concessionaire only to obtain a three-way for alcohol service in the Pavilion. The Chesterton Town Council expands the 6,000-foot swath of “riverfront” district along Coffee Creek from East Porter Ave. to the Indiana Toll Road, with an eye to making future eateries at Coffee Creek Center eligible for three-way alcohol permits exempt from local quotas.

Indiana Dunes State Park Property Manager Brandt Baughman tell the Chesterton Tribune that Pavilion Partners, not the DNR, is responsible for maintaining and stocking the comfort station at the beach, in response to reports of poor conditions in the restrooms. Porter County Superior Court Judge David Chidester prevails in a legal flap with Prosecuting Attorney Brian Gensel, when the Indiana Supreme Court rules that Chidester may request, and Gensel must provide, copies of police officers’ OWI arrest reports.

Horizon Bank acquires LaPorte Savings Bank; the LaPorte Savings’ Chesterton branch will close in the fall and its functions--and personnel--moved to Horizons’ Chesterton branch. Pokemon Go sweeps Duneland; a Liberty Township man is arrested on an OWI charge after crashing his vehicle in Burns Harbor while playing the mobile game on his smartphone.

NPS re-opens Central Ave. Beach in Beverly Shores, nearly a year after it was closed when storm waves swept away most of its beach. The IURC approves an electric rate hike of about 6 percent, per a “collaborative agreement” between NIPSCO and the OUCC; the average household will pay an additional $5.70 per month, beginning in October. The Dunes Kankakee Trail linking the Dorothy Buell Visitor Center, Indiana Dunes State Park, and the Town of Porter’s trail system is dedicated in a ceremony at the Visitor Center.

The recipients at the Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s annual award luncheon: Amber Hensell-Hicks, Duneland Distinguished Woman; Bob Capehart, Golden Achievement Award; Dan Ameling and Kelly Shikany, Volunteers of the Year; Bill Meyer and George’s Gyros, Putting Duneland on the Map; Nicki Caylor of Running Vines, Spotlight Award; Designer Deserts, Business Renovation Award; and Road to Life Church, Humanitarian of the Year.

A Dunes Action fundraiser draws a crowd of 160 to St. Patrick Catholic Church’s Chapel Hall. ArcelorMittal names Robrecht Himpe as the new CEO of ArcelorMittal North America. USS posts a net loss of $46 million in the 2Q (net loss of $340 million in the 1Q, net loss of $261 million in the year-ago).

A 200-foot stretch of the newly re-paved Ind. 49, directly opposite Bailey Drive, is closed after it begins seeping a foul-smelling green ooze, identified as slag, a byproduct of the steelmaking process; investigators believe the seep was caused by a chemical reaction of slag and groundwater.

NPS: the DNR must submit Pavilion Partners’ plan before the rehabilitation of the Pavilion may continue, pursuant to the Land and Water Conservation Act (LWCF) of 1965, which authorizes NPS to approve any potential “conversion” of LWCF-encumbered property used for public recreation.

ArcelorMittal posts a net income of $1.1 billion in the 2Q (a net loss of $416 million in the 1Q, a net income of $179 million in the year-ago). Lightning hits a South Shore concatenary line, leaving a powerless train with 300 passengers stranded west of Hegewisch; at the same time a hack traced to Russia executes a denial of service attack on NICTD’s website; a three-hour line-wide delay ensues and five trains are canceled entirely and folks looking for updates are unable to access the website.


Louise Crumpacker of Chesterton and Girl Scouts of America Service Unit 318 is honored for her 70 years of service to Girl Scouting. Girl Scout Kathryn Ausema of Chesterton and Troop 30109 earns the most prestigious national honor in Girl Scouting: the Gold Award. U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., visits Urschel Laboratories Inc. at Coffee Creek Center in Chesterton.

NiSource posts a net income in the 2Q of $28.6 million (a net loss of $36.4 million in the year-ago). The 58th annual Chesterton Art Fair is held at Dogwood Park. The CFD holds the 15th annual Street Dance. The Chesterton Park Board purchases new playground equipment for Chesterton Park ($23,596.12) and Olde Towne Park ($37,201.03).

Capt. Michael Masty, U.S. Army and CHS Class of 2000, earns an appointment to the Space and Missile Defense Command. A jury finds Thomas Reichler, 19, of Porter, guilty of murder in the shooting death of Alex Tapia outside his home in Portage in December 2014, after Tapia found Reichler rifling through his vehicle.

The third annual Christina Lynn Hill Benefit for Overdose Awareness is held at the American Legion Post 170 in Chesterton. Former CHS swimmer Blake Pieroni wins Olympic Gold in the 4x100 at the Rio Games. An all-access geocaching trail opens at the Coffee Creek Watershed Preserve; its self-guided tour features 13 points of interest and folks with a GPS device can follow clues to a cache.

CPD Chief Dave Cincoski urges Pokemon Go enthusiasts not to use the mobile game as an excuse for trespassing. NIPSCO announces plans to demolish the out-of-service Dean H. Mitchell electric generating station in Gary, a two-year, $18-million project.

IATC approves DNR’s three-way permit for alcohol service at nine state parks, including Indiana Dunes State Park, where Pavilion Partners plans to open a restaurant in the Pavilion and build a banquet center. Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris says that “drugs and alcohol played a role” in the drowning death of a Lafayette man who was in the water in the evening, after the beach had been closed to swimming for the day.

The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission votes unanimously to table consideration of a 28-unit condominium complex in the Villages of Sand Creek, after a crowd of Villages neighbors express concerns about traffic and stormwater runoff. Porter Board of Zoning Appeals attorney Laura Frost says that a use variance granted to Seven Peaks Waterpark in 2015--for year-round activities like paint ball--has expired, after the waterpark failed to launch the activities within 12 months of the variance’s being issued.

The Izaak Walton League honors Liberty Township resident Bonnie Swarner and the Northwest Indiana Paddlers Association with Save our Streams awards at the Ikes’ annual convention in Stevens Point, Wis. NIRPC voices its vehement opposition to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s move to merge the agency’s functions with those of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning; NIRPC Executive Board Chair Jim Ton says that Northwest Indiana would end up with the short end of the stick when it comes to federal transportation funds.

Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford denies the motion of former Duneland realtor Don Johnson for the dismissal of eight of the 17 felony charges filed against him, on the ground that the statute of limitations has expired; Johnson is charged with selling unregistered securities and with selling securities without himself being registered to do so.

The Chesterton Town Council votes 4-1 to approve a planned unit development ordinance for the Residences of Chesterton, a senior living facility to be built at Coffee Creek Center; Member Jim Ton, R-1st, votes against the amendment because it permits two monument signs larger than permitted by the Zoning Ordinance. The Chesterton Town Council votes unanimously to approve the issuance of economic development bonds for the StoryPoint senior living facility, to be built on Dickinson Road.

WDSO celebrates its 40th year of broadcasting at CHS. Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris reports that fatal heroin overdoses are trending up, with 10 investigated through June compared to only four in the first six months of 2015. Only Duneland School Board incumbents John Marshall and Kristin Kroeger will be on the ballot in November, after no candidates step forward to challenge them. The Ind. 49 re-paving project complicates the Duneland Schools’ first day of classes, as many bus drivers opt to use Meridian Road instead of Ind. 49.


The Chesterton Tribune reports that August was the wettest month in years in Duneland; fully 8.75 inches of rain were recorded at the wastewater treatment plant, the most since 18.15 inches fell in the Great Flood month of September 2008, 12 of them in the space of 72 hours; none of the multiple rain events, however, forced the treatment plant to bypass, thanks to the Utility’s new 1.2-million gallon storage tank. The Duneland Unit of the Boys and Girls Club invites folks, as a fundraiser, to purchase a personalized brick which will be fixed in the club’s entryway.

The ninth annual Taste of Duneland is held in Thomas Centennial Park. Franciscan Alliance announces that it’s dropping saints’ names from its hospitals; Franciscan St. Anthony Health in Michigan City will accordingly become Franciscan Health Michigan City. The Northwest Indiana Paddlers Association announces plans to take chainsaws to log jams in the Little Calumet River along two stretches in Duneland, to re-establish the water trail.

The Chesterton Park Board approves the purchase of new playground equipment for Dogwood Park, at a cost of $182,109.36; and a new manufactured restroom at Dogwood, at a cost of $138,140.35. A telecom cable is inadvertently severed during excavation for a new sign at the Westchester Township History Museum at 700 W. Porter Ave., causing a “telecommunications break” in the Duneland Schools.

Ground breaks on the new Porter County Animal Shelter. CHS senior Hayley O’Keefe and family once again organize the annual 9/11 placement of 2,977 U.S. flags in the grass outside the football stadium.

CHS Student Government plants a redbud tree--donated by Chesterton Feed & Garden--in the school’s courtyard, in memory of the late educator and legislator Ralph Ayres. The CHS Trojan Guard takes second at its season opener, the Goshen HS Crimson Invitational. CHS seniors Amy Socha, Sydney Ghoreishi, David Kosakowski, Mark Wilcox, and Lennon Matz are among the 16,000 2017 National Merit Scholarship Program semi-finalists.

A standing room only crowd at the Library Service Center attends a public hearing on a new proposed charter school, the South Shore Classical Academy; opponents--who far outnumber supporters--bristle at the suggestion that a classical academy is needed or would offer students any better education than the Duneland Schools already do; two days later, the organizers of South Shore Classical Academy withdraw their application, saying “It was never our intention to work against or subvert the public will.”

WDSO goes off the air for two weeks, after a transmitter fails. The first annual Apple Festival is held at Chellberg Farm at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, in place of the former Harvest Festival. The fifth annual Hooked on Art festival is held in downtown Chesterton; proceeds from the event support Frontline Foundation Inc.’s substance abuse treatment program for young adults.

Gary Atkinson and Donna Harris, both of Porter County, are sentenced to eight years on probation and ordered to pay $2,183,831 in restitution to 36 victims, after being convicted of securities fraud and acting an unregistered broker-dealers; Atkinson and Harris operated Dunes Country Mortgage Partners and Nova Star Securities, purportedly offering an investment opportunity in a real estate development along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Joan and Loren Knibbs are honored by the Duneland Resale Shop and Duneland Community Center for their 60 years of community service with such organizations as Save the Dunes, Alliance for the Great Lakes, and Scouting. Dan Plath--president of the Northwest Indiana Paddlers Association--is named the new Chief of Resource Management at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. The Porter County Museum marks its 100th anniversary as an exhibition of local artifacts.

Roy Flaherty, a long-time member of the Chesterton Park Board and a devoted friend of the Chesterton parks, dies at 64. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, is presented with the 2016 Congressional Steel Champion Award by the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Olympic Gold Medalist Blake Pieroni is the Grand Marshal of the CHS Homecoming Parade; Brandon Sufina is elected Homecoming King, Isabelle Wheeler, Queen; Paul Petro, Prince; and Annie Spangler, Princess. Community Health Systems Inc., owner of Porter Regional Hospital, eyes a possible buy-out as one possible response to significant financial losses and a plummeting stock price.

The Northwest Indiana Historical Power Association holds its annual Steam Power Show at Sunset Hill Farm County Park. The Duneland Family YMCA marks its 50th anniversary with the Family Fall Fest.

NICTD’s proposed West Lake Corridor extension of the South Shore commuter line gets approval from the Federal Transit Administration to enter project development; in advance of the FTA’s announcement, NICTD approves a $20-million contract with HDR Inc. to do the project’s preliminary engineering and prepare an environmental impact statement. The CHS boys tennis team wins its third consecutive sectional title. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, authors a bill which would make Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore a national park.


CHS golfer Elyse Stasil is the runner-up at the IHSSA girls state finals. Jonathan Arizzola, a maintenance worker at USS Gary Works, dies in an accident in the hot strip mill; in the days before the incident, the USW had been protesting the lay-offs and demotions of maintenance workers, saying the cost-cutting move--recommended by a consultant--made the mill less safe.

Porter County Highway Superintendent David James calls CSX uncommunicative about its track work, after its closure of grade-crossings on Meridian Road and C.R. 50W makes life massively inconvenient for Duneland Schools bus drivers and Liberty Township residents. Corinne Johns of Porter and Alexis Schroeder of Valparaiso die when Schroeder fails to yield for a semi-tractor trailer at an intersection on M-66 in Branch County, Mich.

Porter Police patrol officers wear pink patches on their uniforms during October to increase awareness about breast cancer. The CFD holds its annual Lights & Sirens Parade to kick off National Fire Prevention Week. The CHS Trojan Guard advances to ISSMA state finals, following competition at Homestead HS in Fort Wayne.

CHS musicians Zane Mauke, Andrew Figg, Mark Hodgkiss, Aaron Brookhouse, and Trey Bonnema are selected to the 17th annual All-District Honor Band by the Indiana Bandmasters Association. The CHS boys soccer team wins its fourth consecutive sectional title with a victory over Valparaiso HS. Chesterton Tribune reporter Jeff Schultz rips the throat out of the role of Head Zombie in Chicago Street Theater’s production of Night of the Living Dead.

Highly regarded local jewelry designer Stephanie Swanson launches her new book, Playing with Fire: A Jeweler’s Guide to Metalsmithing, with a signing at The Flower Cart. Porter Town Council Member Tim Conroy, D-5th, resigns his seat after moving out of his district. NIPSCO projects a 24-percent spike in the 2016-17 winter heating season gas bills. Early voting begins in Porter County; 540 residents cast ballots on the first day, a new record by a mile.

One half of the Augustyn Brothers acting duo, Frank, 11, of Chesterton, has a walk-on and -off role on the season premiere of Chicago Heat; meanwhile, the other half, Syd, 14, continues to make a name of his own on the big and small screen alike; their mother, world authority on Jamaican music Heather Augustyn, is proud.

A sell-out crowd at the 15th annual Community Prayer Breakfast hears keynote speaker Ken Jennings talk about putting one’s faith in God. The CHS boys soccer team wins the regional title with a victory over Munster HS. The CHS boys cross country team is third at regionals in New Prairie and the girls team fourth.

CPD K-9 partner Igor--handled by Sgt. Dan Rocha--is retired after six years of faithful service to the community. Burns Harbor Park Director Kim Burton is honored with the 2016 Ivan J. Brinegar Municipal Management Award from the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns. The Chesterton Advisory Plan Commission endorses Van Tobel Corporation’s plan for 28 condo units at the Villages of Sand Creek.

The CHS boys soccer team advances to the state championship match after beating West Noble HS and Harrison HS on the same day. Porter artist Mark Vander Vinne receives Best Painting Award at the 38th annual Regional Juried Exhibition at the Midwest Museum of Art in Elkhart.

Thomas Reichler, 19, of Porter, is sentenced to 62 years in prison for the murder of Alex Tapia of Portage. The CHS Trojan Guard takes third at the state “A” ISSMA finals in competition in Indianapolis. Bailly Elementary and Westchester Intermediate celebrate their 50th anniversary.

The CHS boys soccer team is edged out 2-1 by Evansville Memorial HS in the state championship match in Indianapolis; Owen Hallas is presented with the 2016 C. Eugene Cato Mental Attitude Award, sponsored by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance. The CHS boys cross country team finishes 18th at state. The Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s annual family trick-or-treat event draws an enormous crowd to Downtown Chesterton.


NIPSCO seeks authorization from the IURC to retire and decommission Bailly Generating Station’s coal-fired units in the next two years; NIPSCO says that its goal is to “provide ongoing work opportunities” for the 110 employed at the facility, “by proactively working with union leadership and affected employees.” Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore culminates its year-long celebration of its 50th anniversary with a film fest highlighting the Dunes and the National Lakeshore.

NiSource posts a net income of $27.2 million in the 3Q (net loss of $4.9 million in the year-ago). USS posts its strongest quarterly performance in two years, with a net income of $51 million in the 3Q (a net loss of $46 million in the 2Q, a net loss of $173 million in the year-ago). ArcelorMittal posts a net income of $680 million in the 3Q (net income of $1.11 billion in the 2Q, net loss of $711 million in the year-ago).

Next year is now: the Chicago Cubs win the World Series.

Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar closes its doors after 13 years. Report: nearly 14 percent of registered voters in Porter County early-voted. Kevin J. Campbell, 69, of Crown Point, is fatally injured in an accident at ArcelorMittal’s Burns Harbor facility, apparently after being struck by a semi-tractor trailer.

The Chesterton Pee Wee D3 team wins the first Pop Warner state title since 2007, with a victory over Portage. Save the Dunes names Natalie Johnson its new executive director.

Donald Trump takes 50 percent of the vote in Porter County to Hillary Clinton’s 43 percent and 49 percent in Duneland’s precincts to Clinton’s 42 percent. Republican Jim Biggs wins the open North seat on the Porter County Commissioners. Republican Jeff Larson ousts Democrat Bob Poparad from his at-large seat on the Porter County Council, while Democrats Sylvia Graham and Dan Whitten are re-elected to their at-large seats. Democrat Kevin Breitzke is re-elected Porter County Surveyor. Democrat Michelle Clancy is elected Porter County Treasurer.

Rachel Dover, 24, of Westville, is charged with OWI-causing death, after the PCSP says that she struck a motorcycle headon on U.S. 6 in Jackson Township; motorcyclist Donald McCarthy, 68, of Chesterton, is injured, while his passenger, Nanette Howard, 55, of Michigan City, is killed.

James H. Higgason III, 47, of Gary, suspected of stealing lighting wire from Northwest Indiana highways, is arrested on a charge of stealing lighting wire at Lakeland Park in Burns Harbor. Three men rob the Verizon store on Plaza Drive at gunpoint, herding customers and employees into a backroom and restraining them there. Sunset Hill Farm County Park holds its annual Winter Lights Night Festival.

DOE releases the 2016 ISTEP results; scores fall across the state and in Duneland, as educators point to tougher core standards; St. Patrick Catholic School scores higher above the state average than either Duneland Schools or the Discovery Charter School. Portage Mayor James Snyder and Lake County Sheriff John Buncich are indicted in federal court, both charged with bribery in connection with city/county tow contracts.

A fire in a furnace crucible at Urschel Laboratories Inc. foundry forces the evacuation of the plant and corporate headquarters; no one is injured and the CFD praises Urschel employees for their professional response to the incident. The Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center celebrates its 10th anniversary at its present location, off Ind. 49 in the Town of Porter.

The Shirley Heinze Land Trust acquires 7.7 acres along the Little Calumet River in the Town of Porter. New benches constructed of 800 pounds of recycled bottle caps are dedicated in Hawthorne Park to the memory of the late Lorain Bell and to Girl Scout Troop 30352. The Duneland Chamber of Commerce sponsors the annual Hometown Christmas Celebration and Twilight Christmas Parade on Thanksgiving Saturday.

Dunes Action and other opponents of a banquet center at Indiana Dunes State Park--upwards of 200 of them--vehemently protest a proposed rule change at a public hearing held by the Indiana Natural Resources Commission (NRC) at Woodland Park; an NRC rep makes it clear that what’s at issue isn’t alcohol service at the Pavilion or a banquet center--which is already permitted under the current rule--but rather changing that rule, to allow the DNR itself, and no longer the concessionaire, to obtain a three-way permit from IATC; no one likes hearing that the NRC is uninterested in their opposition to the banquet center and to alcohol service.


The CHS music department holds its 44th annual Madrigal Dinner. A wet, heavy snow leaves 11,000 NIPSCO customers in the dark during the storm’s peak and a total of 20,000 over its duration. The Porter County Council tables a request by Commissioner John Evans, R-North, for reimbursement of $5,000 in legal bills incurred in connection with an apparent FBI investigation of county government; council members want to know the status of that investigation before it cuts a check.

Oliver Montgomery is honored by Chesterton Masonic Calumet Lodge 379 for his 50 years of service to freemasonry. U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-1st, reads into the Congressional Record a statement honoring NIRPC on its 50th anniversary. The Indiana Court of Appeals, in its review of a case originating in Long Beach, Ind., rules that the owners of property along Lake Michigan must allow the public access to the beach, on the ground that the shore is owned by the state and is held as a public trust.

The Discovery Charter School begins holding classes in its brand-new 16,000-square foot addition. Bailly Elementary Principal Kevin Zeck expresses his gratitude to the CPD for the regular continued presence of officers at his school and at other Duneland Schools in Chesterton. The Duneland School Board sets its 2017-18 school calendar, with the first semester ending not in January but on the last day of school prior to the Christmas break.

The Chesterton Town Council votes unanimously to approve a sanitary sewer rate hike, effective Jan. 1, under which the average household’s bimonthly bill will increase by $4.58 or 5.64 percent. DOE releases school accountability grades; winning the A grade are Liberty Elementary and Intermediate, Westchester Intermediate, and St. Patrick Catholic School; all other Duneland Schools and the Discovery Charter School receive B grades; last year, in contrast, all Duneland Schools, St. Pat’s, and Discovery received A grades.

The Porter Town Council votes 3-2 to reject Paul Childress’ petition for a rezone of 15 acres at 1035 Wagner Road from residential to open space, for the purpose of operating a family foundation farm. Temperatures plunge to -12 overnight in Chesterton, following a weekend snowfall of around seven inches; some 3,200 customers lose power for six hours on the coldest night of the year. Indiana American Water Company issues a boil-advisory to 850 customers after a water main breaks in the area of Ind. 49 and U.S. 12.

CHS musicians Holly Kittredge, Sarah Harmony, Tristan Dooley, and Pieter Ausema are named to the Indiana All-State Orchestra. The Governor’s Office honors retiring Porter County Commissioner John Evans, R-North, with the Distinguished Hoosier Award. Coroner Chuck Harris presents officers with the Portage and Valparaiso PDs and the PCSP with the Phoenix Award, for saving the lives in 2016 of 28 heroin overdose victims by using their department-issued Narcan anti-opioid emergency kits.

CHS soccer standout Owen Hallas is named Indiana Mr. Soccer by the Indiana Soccer Coaches Association--the first Trojan to garner the award--and earns spots on the All-American, All-State, and All-District teams.


Posted 12/30/2016




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