The last official act of the late Warren “Skip” Highwood, before his
retirement on Dec. 31, 2008, was to recommend to the Town Council, in the
highest terms possible, the appointment of his deputy, Mike Orlich, to the
position of chief of the Chesterton Fire Department.
Highwood died on Thursday, Jan. 22, and he was much mourned.
At its meeting Monday night, the council voted unanimously to grant the
dying man’s last wish and to name Orlich--who had been serving as interim
chief--the permanent chief of the CFD.
President Emerson DeLaney, R-5th, liaison to the CFD, recommended making
that position permanent, and Member Jim Ton, R-1st, made the motion to do
Orlich has been a member of the CFD for 26 years, has served as deputy chief
for five years and prior to that as assistant chief for six years, and has
also been the building commissioner for nearly eight years.
In a ceremony at which Highwood’s presence was never very far away, DeLaney
administered the oath of office to Orlich, who laid his hand on a Bible held
by his wife, Julie. Then Orlich’s sons, Manny and Brandon, together pinned
to his chest the chief’s gold badge. Finally, Orlich hugged Highwood’s
widow, Nancy, and other members of Highwood’s family.
In attendance were the firefighters of the CFD, in their dress blues, and
many other municipal employees and well-wishers.
Orlich--like Highwood before him--is a man of few words and he managed just
a few. “Thanks everybody,” he said, visibly moved and choked up. “I
appreciate it. Sorry, I’m kind of an emotional guy.”
Ton and Member Sharon Darnell, D-4th, offered Orlich their congratulations
later in the meeting. Trout called Orlich a “hard-working honest guy” who
will “do a fine job.”