Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Hanas honored for service to South Shore commuter line

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By PAULENE POPARAD

“There’s only one Jerry Hanas, and I’m going to miss you,” said Lake County Council member Christine Cid.

Meeting Friday, the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District honored its former top official who, after 37 years of service, retires as the longest serving general manager of any commuter railroad in the nation.

Even before NICTD was formed, Hanas played an instrumental role in creating the public agency and saving the South Shore passenger service whose private owners threatened discontinuation in 1976, said NICTD attorney Charles Lukmann.

Hanas spearheaded NICTD’s purchase of assets and the rail line in 1990, continued Lukmann, and assembled a team that set about recapitalizing and refocusing the South Shore led by Hanas’s dedication and work ethic.

Board members addressed Hanas, who for the first time in decades sat in the back of the meeting room.

“This is really a community service we’re doing here and I’m sure it was sometimes thankless,” said Lake County Commissioner Michael Repay.

Porter County Council member Sylvia Graham said, “Jerry always kept me informed. He gave me a lot of good information and made my job easier making decisions.”

Hanas announced in 2012 he wanted to retire within the next 18 months. NICTD chairman Mark Yagelski, a LaPorte County Councilman, said Hanas was in the difficult position of helping find his own replacement and Michael Noland, who began Oct. 27, was a good choice.

Noland said he’s had three weeks to debrief Hanas. “I’m trying to download nearly 40 years of railroad history from his brain.”

Long-time NICTD attorney Michael Harris said Hanas has been an outstanding public servant for Northwest Indiana, and that former board members comment how their NICTD service was a good or the best government experience they’ve had.

Porter County Commissioner John Evans moved to adopt a resolution commemorating Hanas’s service, and Yagelski gifted Hanas with a clock.

Hanas said NICTD board members have tough jobs in their home counties yet they agree to help oversee the complicated operation of the South Shore with enthusiasm for the responsibility.

He also commended past NICTD board members, especially long-time members transportation professor Dr. George Smerk and the late Porter County Commissioner/Councilman Bill Carmichael.

Hanas said NICTD is very fortunate to own the railroad and not have to purchase service. Saving the South Shore “was hard to do and very risky but we came through it.”

Hanas will remain available to NICTD as a paid consultant.

 

Posted 11/17/2014

 
 
 
 

 

 

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