“There’s only one
Jerry Hanas, and I’m going to miss you,” said Lake County Council member
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.
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.
addressed Hanas, who for the first time in decades sat in the back of the
“This is really a
community service we’re doing here and I’m sure it was sometimes thankless,”
said Lake County Commissioner Michael Repay.
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.”
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.
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
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.