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Around the Region


Eileen E. Brassil, CPA, a partner at Legacy Professionals LLP in Schererville, has been appointed to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) Employee Benefit Plans Expert Panel. The panel serves the needs of AICPA members by monitoring and advising on industry developments, trends and opportunities.


Chester Inc. has hired Kent Wamsley in its agricultural systems unit. Wamsley started his career in Ohio with a private lake management company before working for The Nature Conservancy, where he worked for 13 years. Before coming to Chester Inc. Ag Systems, Kent was employed at Wallace Pork Systems, a swine and cattle feed mill in southern Pulaski County.


Northwest Indiana Bancorp, the holding company for Peoples Bank, has elected Robert Johnson III to its board of directors. He is the president, CEO and co-founder of Cimcor Inc., a firm that develops cutting edge IT security software. He is also the founder of Velocityware, which develops, markets and distributes mobile software and technology… Ruoff Home Mortgage has hired Tammy Graff as a senior loan officer for their Crown Point office. She was most recently with Caliber Home Loans. She has been doing mortgages for 22 years and specializes in FHA and VA loans. Ruoff has also named Cindy Jansky as its top loan originator for their Crown Point office for the month of September. Jansky joined Ruoff in May 2016 and has been in the banking/mortgage industry for nearly 31 years. Ruoff Home Mortgage is a full-service residential mortgage company with 23 branches throughout Indiana and in Michigan and Florida.


The Pangere Corp. has promoted Tim Guendling to carpenter superintendent of the Commercial Construction Division. He has been with The Pangere Corp. since 2009 and has led a variety of projects in the health-care, education, and municipal markets … Chester Inc. has hired Laura Small in its architectural and construction unit. Small is an experienced and accomplished licensed architect and LEED AP, with over 25 years of experience. She began her architectural career in 1990 working for a well-known Porter County architectural firm. In 2010 she started her own architectural business, L A Small Architects LLC in Crown Point for commercial and custom residential projects.


Saint Joseph's College in Rensselaer, Ind. has appointed Michelle Searer as its new director of alumni affairs and parent relations. As the college's strategic and operational leader in alumni affairs and parent relations, Searer will play a central role in providing direction for alumni programming, engagement, chapter development and management. Searer recently served as vice president of the South Shore Leadership Center in Valparaiso, Ind. where she was responsible for program development of the widely renowned regional community leadership programs South Shore Leadership Youth for Community Engagement (SLYCE) and Leadership Northwest Indiana (LNI) … Dr. Eileen P. Doherty has joined Saint Joseph's College as the new vice president for student development. Doherty previously served as the dean of students at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Ill. … Fr. Vincent Wirtner has joined Saint Joseph's College Campus Ministry as a full-time chaplain. Since his ordination in 2010, Fr. Vince has served the Community as Director of Vocation Ministry. A native of Fort Wayne, Ind., he has served others as a youth minister, a high school campus minister, a retreat leader, and a nurse … The Purdue University Northwest College of Technology recently recognized Joseph Uzubell with the Outstanding Graduate Alumni award for his contributions in technology. Tanima Zaman received the first Accomplished Graduate Alumni award. Uzubell is chief information officer of Rail Watchers, a startup focusing on railroad safety applications for mobile devices. Zaman is a full-time instructor of mechatronics at Ivy Tech Community College and also serves as chair of Engineering Technology and Electrical Engineering Technology at its Valparaiso campus … The Presidents' Round Table has named Keisha L. White, associate vice chancellor of student affairs at Ivy Tech Community College's East Chicago campus, to the Thomas Lakin Institute for Mentored Leadership (Lakin Institute). The Presidents' Round Table, a national association dedicated to supporting African-American leaders and students in community colleges, presents the Lakin Institute annually for African-American participants whose experience and credentials indicate they are ready to attain the highest academic positions … Ivy Tech Community College has hired Megan Juchcinski as its new associate director of admissions at its Valparaiso campus. She comes to Ivy Tech from Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana, where she served as senior admissions counselor. Juchcinski is a 2009 graduate of Portage High School … Purdue University Northwest has hired Jeff Lochowicz as its new executive director of admissions. He previously served as senior assistant dean of admissions at Marquette University of Milwaukee, Wis., where he attracted an increased number of diverse and graduation-persistent students … The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) has recognized Joseph Wetchler, the director of the Marriage and Family Therapy program at Purdue University Northwest from 1988 through 2013. He was awarded the organization's 2016 Outstanding Contribution to Marriage and Family Therapy Award … Purdue University Northwest Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation Director Chenn Qian Zhou was a featured panelist at the 2016 convocation of the National Engineering Academy and the American Association of Engineering Societies. The panel's theme was “Revolution in Modeling and Simulation in Engineering.” She is a professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University Northwest … The Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents has named John Hunter, superintendent of Union Township School Corporation, the 2017 District I Superintendent of the Year. He was selected by fellow superintendents in his district who consider the qualifications and accomplishments of area colleagues and their instructional leadership during a time of limited resources. He has been Union Township superintendent since 2005.


The National Park Service has selected Dan Plath as the new chief of resource management at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Plath, who began work in mid-October, oversees the park's Natural, Cultural and Fire Management Branches. He previously worked at NiSource Inc. in the environmental department for the last eight years. Prior to that, he spent 10 years with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. He is also the president and founder of the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association (NWIPA).


Prompt Ambulance announced promotions for Ron Donahue to vice president and Nathaniel Metz to vice president for medical operations and ambulance deployment. Donahue has been with Prompt since 2001, most recently serving as the director of business development and EMS consulting. Metz has been with Prompt since 2012, most recently serving as the director of operations for Prompt's Central and South Bend Divisions. Metz is also the newly elected president of the Indiana EMS Association … The board of directors of the Community Foundation of Northwest Indiana (CFNI), has promoted John Doherty, MS, PT, ATC to the position of vice president for Therapy Services, Sports Medicine and Occupational Health. CFNI is the parent company to various health-care entities, including Community Hospital in Munster, St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago, and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart … Franciscan Health Michigan City named Anne Corder, a 13-year intensive care unit nurse, its October Ambassador of the Month and Tina Thomas as its November Ambassador of the Month. The award is presented by the hospital's Social and Recognition Committee and recognizes employees who exhibit the mission and values of Franciscan Health … The Porter Health Care System has welcomed Dr. Shalini Patel, who will practice family medicine at her office in Chesterton. She received her medical degree at American University of Antigua and completed her family medicine residency at University of Illinois at Rockford … DeMotte Physicians, a Porter Physician Group practice, has welcomed Keri Smith, MSN, FNP. She received her bachelor's degree in nursing from Purdue University North Central and earned her master's of science as a family nurse practitioner at Purdue University Calumet … The Society for Minimally Invasive Surgery in Las Vegas earlier this month heard research presented by Dr. Nitin Khanna, a spine care specialist at Orthopedic Specialists of Northwest Indiana. He presented on the role of alignment and advanced tools to measure alignment intraoperatively … Timothy Wiess, MD, an obstetrics-gynecology specialist in practice since 1995, received the annual St. Raphael Award for performance excellence and outstanding teamwork from the nursing staff at Franciscan Heath Crown Point. Dr. Wiess has been with the hospital since 2006 … Methodist Hospitals has welcomed physicians Dr. Ashish Patel, a spine and scoliosis surgeon, and Dr. Omar Perez, an orthopedic surgery and sports medicine specialist, to its Methodist Physician Group. Patel has a fellowship in spine and scoliosis surgery and served as chief fellow at New York's Hospital for Special Surgery which has been ranked as U.S. News & World Report's #1 Orthopedic Hospital, 2016-17. Perez has a fellowship in orthopedic sports medicine from Baylor College of Medicine, Houston. He has successfully treated world-class athletes in the NFL, NBA, MLS, NCAA and Major League Baseball.


The corporate and real estate teams at Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP have welcomed Ann M. Dolezal to their Valparaiso office. She is an IU Kelley School of Business graduate with a juris doctor from New York Law School. She has worked at two New York law firms and most recently was a vice president in Global Custody and Agency Services at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Chicago.


HealthLinc Inc. has appointed Emily Backe as its chief human resources officer. She will be responsible for developing and executing human resources strategy in support of the business plan and strategic direction of HealthLinc … The Starke County Economic Development Foundation has recognized William Sonnemaker with its Robert E. Hamilton Award. He was honored for his many activities to make life better in Starke County, including serving as an officer at Starke United, his service as a board member at the Starke County Economic Development Foundation and his work to establish a Workforce Development Committee to further vocational education programs and training … The Food Bank of Northwest Indiana has named Steve Beekman executive director of the region's largest hunger relief organization. Beekman had served as the Food Bank's deputy director and head of development since 2013.


The Valparaiso Parks Department has announced the addition of two new people to its staff and the promotion of a long-time employee. Terrance Price was promoted to recreation superintendent; Lisa Baisden was named youth program director; and Helene Pierce named executive assistant for the department. Price is a Valparaiso University graduate and played basketball at VU for Coach Homer Drew. Baisden is a Valparaiso native, a graduate of Valparaiso University with a physical education science degree and served as the Valparaiso High School varsity softball assistant coach for three years. Pierce, a Valparaiso native, has worked for the city for 19 years, most recently as customer service administrator.


Gina Avila recently graduated from the Indiana Association of Realtors Leadership Academy. It is a year-long training program designed for emerging Realtor leaders to give them the skills and confidence to effectively assist buyers and sellers in their markets. She is a Realtor at Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Schererville.


Chester Inc. has hired Nick Doud, Michael Sikora and Sam Sawaya in its information technology unit. Doud started his IT career in 2004 in the U.S. Air Force. After the military, he spent five years at Purdue University North Central, where he was the classroom technology technician and, most recently, he worked the corporate headquarters for DirectBuy in Merrillville. Sikora is a 2013 graduate of Indiana University with a degree in telecommunications. Since college, he has been working in the Chicagoland area as an information technologies specialist. Sawaya has been in the IT industry for over eight years with expertise in disaster recovery, business continuity and managed service plans.


Powersource Transportation Inc. owner Barb Bakos has had her firm certified as a Women's Business Enterprise by the Great Lakes Women's Business Council.


Ratner Steel Supply Co. announced plans to expand its operations at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor in Portage, creating up to 37 new jobs by 2019. The Roseville, Minn.-based company will invest $8.83 million to nearly double the size of its facility in Portage. Construction is currently underway to add an additional 100,000 square feet and is expected to be completed by March 2017. With its growth, the company plans to improve its logistics efficiency by providing additional space for loading and unloading steel shipments. Ratner Steel produces 300,000 tons of steel annually and is currently operating at capacity 24-hours a day. Ratner Steel's announcement follows the company's decision in 2012 to locate a facility in Portage–its only facility outside Minnesota–and create 30 new jobs. The company currently employs 50 associates in Portage and is currently hiring machine and crane operators.


Byway Brewing recently partnered with Indiana Beverage to distribute their award winning beers across Northern Indiana. The company opened in February 2016 and in June was named Indiana Brewery of the Year and Grand Champion Indiana Brewery of the Year at the Indiana Brewer's Cup Competition in Indianapolis. Three Byway beers received gold medals at the competition.


Horseshoe Casino recently unveiled The Eatery, a $5 million food hall adjacent to the casino floor, adding burgers, pizza, sandwiches and desserts to its food offerings. The Eatery's four restaurants include H Burger, 360 Pizza, Fresh, and Cafe.


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