Noteworthy News Bits from Around the Region
by Michelle M. Searer
Red Gold's Scott Rice, James Rice, and David Rice were awarded their seventh Master Grower Award for delivering quality production and exhibiting professionalism and industry leadership at Rice Farms in Wanatah … Kathy Little, of Hebron, won third place in the AA non-irrigated division of the 2015 National Corn Growers Association's Corn Yield Contest in Indiana and Robert Little won second place in the AA no-till/strip-till non-irrigated division.
Centier Bank president and CEO Michael E. Schrage announced the promotion of Bryan Traylor to senior vice president of Residential Lending. Traylor's office is located in Carmel, Indiana … Gina DeCicco has been appointed branch manager of the Centier Bank's new branch located inside Strack & Van Til in Schererville … Chairman and CEO David A. Bochnowski of Peoples Bank was presented the Crystal Globe award by the Asian American Medical Association at their 39th annual gala. The award is given to community members who have contributed to Northwest Indiana through their civic and philanthropic involvement and have success in their profession … Rebecca Lusin was named branch manager of the Munster office of Horizon Bank N.A. … Jim Katona was recently appointed senior loan officer of Tech Credit Union's commercial loan department. He previously worked as a commercial lender for the past nine of his total 18 years in banking.
The Michigan City Area Chamber of Commerce selected Mary Jo Orlowski to take over as new president January 11. Orlowski most recently served as the director for member services at the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, which won the National Chamber of the Year Award from the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives in 2012. She will also join the Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly's editorial board … The Northwest ISBDC announced the addition of Kenneth Gonzalez as a business adviser. Gonzalez will work directly with new and existing business owners. Previously he worked for Tyco as a global executive leader in the electrical and metals business unit and is a founder of several startups.
Two local Allstate agency owners Cassandra Toporski, Hobart, and Jorge Guitierrez, Munster, were recently awarded the Allstate Agency Hands in the Community Award for their community service. The Allstate Foundation also awarded $1,000 to each nonprofit where these agents volunteer–Toporski for Phi Beta Psi Sorority and Guitierrez for March of Dimes Foundation.
The Pangere Corp. recently announced the promotion of Jim Vermillion to division manager of commercial construction. Since 2004, Vermillion has been with Pangere and led a variety of construction projects in the educational, commercial and healthcare markets … The Indiana Builders Association board of directors recently elected Jim Pressel to serve as 2016 president. Pressel is the owner of Pressel Enterprises in LaPorte. He is a certified graduate builder and has been in the construction business for 24 years … Kevin Kelly was appointed to serve as 2016 Chairman of the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA). Kelly is president and CEO of Walsh & Kelly, and as chairman, Kelly will be responsible for guiding NAPA's efforts to support the asphalt pavement industry.
Indiana University Northwest recently appointed Alan Barr, Ph.D., as Chancellor's Professor, a special academic title conferred on senior faculty members who demonstrate “highly meritorious performance in all areas of faculty work.” Barr is a professor of English and scholar of Victorian literature, who has published five books and 27 peer-reviewed journal articles … Renee Conroy, associate professor of philosophy at Purdue University Northwest Calumet, spent a semester as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Roehampton in the United Kingdom teaching a course in the philosophy of dance, conducting research for a monograph on the subject and presenting professional papers on the topic … The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana announced that Kevin L. McElmurry was recently appointed to serve on its board of directors. McElmurry is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Indiana University Northwest … Chad Celestin, a Purdue University Northwest Calumet student's successful class project turned into a job opportunity with Strack & Van Til, who was also the first recipient of the university's College of Technology Outstanding Graduate Alumni Award. Celestin of Highland, graduated from Purdue Calumet with a bachelor's degree in industrial engineering technology in 2010 and a master's degree in technology in 2014 … The Indiana Chamber of Commerce selected Dr. Robert A. Pastoor, president of Saint Joseph College in Rensselaer, to serve on its Business Higher-Ed Policy Committee for the 2016 term … Indiana University Northwest Chancellor, William J. Lowe, and Interim Superintendent of Public Safety, Bob True, announced the appointment of Lt. Wayne James as chief of the Indiana University Police Department (IUPD) at IU Northwest … Lowell High School teacher, Kevin Garling, was recently recognized as a leader by the Indiana Conservation Partnership Leadership Institute. Garling, who has taught for 30 years, is responsible for the Natural Resources, Horticulture, and Landscape Management classes. He has also represented Lake County for the past three years on the Indiana State Board for the Soil and Water District Committee.
SEH of Indiana recently announced the appointment of Dan Botich as a senior economic development specialist. Botich will lead SEH's economic development team by providing site selection, incentive negotiation, design/build and other services to both municipal and private clients.
TrueWealth Advising Group of Crown Point announced the appointment of Jennifer Vinovich as their new director of client services. Vinovich has more than 20 years' business experience and is a Purdue University graduate … Harbour Trust & Investment Management Co. announces the addition of Todd McWhirter, an 18-year financial services veteran and Indiana University graduate and the promotion of Brian Merrill to vice president. McWhirter has served Harbour for nine years and Merrill for eight … Delta Jones-Walker has recently started ATLED Financial in Schererville. Jones-Walker has been in the financial service industry for 20 years … Western & Southern Life announced the appointment of Walter Matheny as a financial representative in its Merrillville office … Residential mortgage lender Ruoff Home Mortgage announced David Leeper was the top loan originator for their Crown Point office in January … Clifford Bryan, a financial advisor with the Chesterton office of Wells Fargo Advisors, has been named Managing Director of Investments. Bryan previously served with Wells Fargo Advisors for seven years and has 22 years of experience in the financial services industry.
Ophthalmologist Richard Houck, MD, 46-year veteran of the Franciscan St. Anthony Health- Michigan City medical staff, was recently honored by the Indiana General Assembly through an adopted resolution saluting his service … Franciscan Alliance welcomes neurosurgeon George DePhillips, MD, to its northern Indiana medical staff in March. DePhillips will be servicing patients at the Crown Point and Michigan City facilities. JoAnn Riley Miller, a 39-year pharmacy technician, was named as the February Ambassador of the Month … Cardiologist Eric Schulte, MD, recently joined Community Healthcare System's Community Care Network Inc. (CCNI) team of physicians. CCNI is the physician group affiliated with St. Mary Medical Center and all Community Healthcare System hospitals. Jennifer Sabuda, FNP-BC, joins Schulte in practice at his office in Merrillville … St. Mary Medical Center recently welcomed the cardiologists of Portage Heart Care and Southlake Heart Care to its Community Care Network Inc. team of physicians: Nazzal Obaid, MD, Abdulrazzak Kawamieh, MD, and Kais Yehyawi, MD … Nurse practitioner Kathryn Gjeldum, NP, joins the doctors in their practice … Dr. Michael H. Simpson is the newest member of Community Care Network Inc. and will work in the hospital's comprehensive medical, surgical and lifestyle weight loss program, Healthy 4 Life … Gowri Ramadas, MD, has joined the practice of Cancer Health Treatment Centers in Munster. She is board certified in internal medicine, medical oncology and hematology and graduated Magna Cum Laude of Northeast Ohio University's College of Medicine. Ramadas was chief fellow at University of Illinois at Chicago where she completed her residency … Rachel Moody, MS, CNS, RN, administrative director for critical care and infection control at Franciscan Alliance was recently honored by The National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists with the prestigious Brenda Lyon Leadership Award. The Award recognizes extraordinary leadership in service to the national association … Samaritan Counseling Centers Inc.- Michigan City, announced Nolah Nasser-Gertner will serve as the 2016 board president … Dr. Nitin Khanna presented on the role of alignment in spine surgery at the Insurgency Spine meeting to 80 key surgeons from major academic institutions around the world. SPINE journal named Dr. Nitin Khanna to its Associate Editorial Board. SPINE is an international, peer-reviewed, bi-weekly periodical. It is the leading subspecialty journal for the treatment of spinal disorders … Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City's March Ambassador of the Month is Larry Mitchell, security officer and veteran police officer who was cited as an employee who “goes above and beyond … in a joyful and helpful manner.”
American Family Insurance Agent Russ Bereolos, of Munster, was recognized for providing an outstanding customer experience under the American Star Excellence in Customer Experience Certification Program. The service excellence distinction is determined through an evaluation process, including a customer satisfaction survey.
Bingham Greenebaum Doll LLP has announced that attorney David T. McGimpsey has rejoined the firm and is now a member of the Economic Development and Corporate Transactional practice groups. He will continue his practice from the firm's Jasper office … Three attorneys at the Langer & Langer law firm have been recognized by the 2016 Indiana Super Lawyers Magazine: Steven L. Langer made the magazine's Indiana Top 50 list as a Super Lawyer; Jon Schmoll was recognized as a Super Lawyer; and Tara Worthley was named a “Rising Star” by the magazine … Family law attorneys David Butterfield, Valparaiso, and Barbara Shapiro Friedman, LaPorte, were recognized as the 2015 10 Best Family Law Attorneys for Client Satisfaction from the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys … Renee Mortimer, with Hinshaw & Culbertson of Schererville, was recently named secretary for the Defense Trial Counsel of Indiana … Board of director appointments include Marian Drenth, with O'Neill McFadden & Willert in Schererville, Jaime Oss with the Michigan City firm of Huelat Mack & Kreppein and Louis Voelker of Eichhorn & Eichhorn in Hammond … The Million Dollar Advocates Forum announced that attorneys Rhett L. Tauber and Jared R. Tauber have been certified as life members of both the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. The Taubers are partners at Tauber Law Offices in Schererville. Membership is limited to attorneys who have won million and multi-million dollar verdicts, awards, settlements … The Indiana State Bar Association announces the Class of 2016 of its Leadership Development Academy. Now in its fifth year, members include Elizabeth L. Barnes of Church, Church, Hittle & Antrim in Merrillville; James “Jim” B. Dillon of the Lake County prosecutor's office in Gary; O. Adedoyin Gomih of Adedoyin Gomih Law in Merrillville; and Raeanna C. Spahn of State Farm Insurance in Crown Point … For the 10th consecutive year, Barry R. Rooth, partner and co-founder of the Merrillville law offices of Theodoros & Rooth, has earned the distinction of being selected one of the Top 50 Super Lawyers in the State of Indiana … Highland lawyer Daniel L. Freeland, of the law offices of Daniel L. Freeland & Associates PC, has been named to the 2016 Indiana Super Lawyers list for the seventh consecutive year. No more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected for the honor.
The Hammond Group Inc. (HGI) announced the appointment of Gordon C. Beckley to vice president and chief technical officer. Beckley will be responsible for all R&D efforts now headquartered at HGI's new Lead-Acid Battery Laboratory and report directly to the CEO.
United Way of Porter County selected Kim Olesker as its new president and CEO. Olesker had been the agency's regional director of early childhood initiatives before assuming her new position in January following the retirement of Sharon Kish, who held the position for 14 years … Damien and Rita Gabis recently received the Outstanding Philanthropist Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Northwest Indiana chapter. The couple has been longtime supporters of Taltree Arboretum & Gardens … Leigh Morris has been appointed interim president and CEO of the South Shore Leadership Center (SSLC). Morris is a former mayor of LaPorte and a former Chairman of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority … The March of Dimes appointed Lisa Carpenter to lead the organization's Northwest Indiana region. Prior to joining March of Dimes, Carpenter served as Lake Area United Way's senior relationship manager … The bi-state Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative (AWLI) has elected Lara Gonzalez, of Crown Point, as president. Gonzalez is a communications specialist with the Field Museum. Alissa Finch, of Crown Point, and Debbie Lucia, of Glenwood, were re-elected treasurer and secretary, respectively. AWLI is a bi-state, not-for-profit organization and land trust. Amanda Smith, of Valparaiso, a graduate student at Indiana University Northwest (IUN), has become the first Ford Motor Co. intern at the bi-state Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative (AWLI). Smith, who is a student in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUN will become engaged in the day-to-day management of the AWLI.
Jim Burns, President of Burns Funeral Home & Crematory in Crown Point and Hobart, was recently recognized by the Indiana Funeral Directors Association and the Hobart Chamber of Commerce for 40 years of service to his communities as a funeral director.
Century 21 Executive Realty welcomes Carol Dobrzynski as a Realtor in its Schererville office. With 13 years of experience, Dobrzynski most recently worked for Re/Max and specializes in all aspects of residential real estate … George Dubovich, of McColly Real Estate Valparaiso, was awarded “2015 Outstanding Associate of the Year” by the Home Builders Association of NWI at their annual holiday installation banquet … McColly Real Estate DeMotte recently received the Business Achievement Award for Community Involvement from the DeMotte Chamber of Commerce. Linda White, managing broker for the McColly Real Estate office, accepted the award on behalf of her colleagues.
Dennis (Denny) Oklak, of Indianapolis, has been appointed independent board chairman of ITR Concession Co., Indiana Toll Road operator. Previously Oklak served as chairman and chief executive officer of Indianapolis-based Duke Realty Corp. He remains executive chairman of the board of directors of Duke Realty.
TRAVEL, TOURISM & HOSPITALITY
Indiana Dunes Tourism has made several new staff and board appointments: Nupur Arora, operations director, responsible for various aspects of administration, building operations, community support, finance, and other functions; Brooke Allen, community engagement director, overseeing the organization's social media, graphic design projects and business partnerships; and new board members Lisa Wodrich and Julie Jones were recently announced. Jones is manager of Birky Family Farms Country Gourmet. Wodrich, a Porter resident, was appointed by the towns of Chesterton, Porter and Burns Harbor, while Jones is a resident of Kouts and was appointed by the towns of Kouts and Hebron … Travel Hut owner Mary Rakoczy recently won an All Star Award for high sales in 2015 with 45 nationally-known tour and cruise companies at the MAST Travel Network annual awards ceremony. The award ranks Travel Hut, in Highland, among the top 15 percent of travel agencies in the MAST Travel Network … Donnie Gilbert has been promoted to managing partner of the Portage Longhorn Steakhouse, after previously serving as manager at the Bloomington, Indiana, Longhorn Steakhouse … Pampalone Travel owner Dominic Pampalone was recently awarded the All Star Award for high sales in 2015 with 45 nationally-known tour and cruise companies from the MAST Travel Network awards in Oak Brook, Illinois. This award ranks Pampalone Travel, in Merrillville, among the top 15 percent of travel agencies in the MAST Travel Network.
The Indiana Veterinary Medical Association awarded certificates of excellence in education to Dr. Molly Farrell of Dyer Animal Clinic and Dr. Anne De Graaf of Highland. Award recipients must have completed at least 40 hours of continuing education during the past year.
NIPSCO Continues Upgrades to Energy Infrastructure
NIPSCO announced plans to begin work on a natural gas upgrade project in the Towns of Munster and Highland. One of many existing and future project investments planned as part of the company's long-term effort to modernize the gas and electric infrastructure. In April, NIPSCO will start construction to replace 3.5 miles of underground natural gas transmission lines. Construction is expected to run from April through November 2016. The new natural gas lines are being installed to provide safer and more reliable service to area residents and businesses in the future.
SJC to Launch Mathematics/Engineering Dual Degree Program
Saint Joseph's College is launching a Mathematics/Engineering Dual Degree Program, which will be open to students beginning in the fall of 2016. The five year program will provide students the opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Saint Joseph's College and a second degree specific to their area of interest from an accredited engineering program.
Crown Point Community School Corp. First in Indiana to Earn National Top Honors
The National School Board Association (NSBA) has named Crown Point Community School Corp. (CPCSC) the 2016 Magna Grand Prize winner for the 20,000 to 5,000 enrollment category in the 22nd annual Magna Awards Program. CPCSC is the first Indiana school corporation in history to receive this-category distinguished award and selected the CPHS Summer Engage Program in relation to the Freshman School within a School to represent the district. Since its launch, the Crown Point High School graduation rate reached a high of 98% (a 15 percent improvement).
Challenger Learning Center to Offer Children's Summer Camps in 2016
The Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana, located on the campus of Purdue University Northwest in Hammond, will host summer camps for children ages 5-15. Offerings include the Star Wars themed Rebel Training Camp, with sessions for children aged 7-9 and 10-12, which will investigate explosions, lasers, holograms and intergalactic space travel. The camp will also include a mini-lightsaber for campers to take home.
TransPorte LaPorte Goes Green, Transitions to Propane Fueled Buses
TransPorte of LaPorte recently held an open house to announce that the City of LaPorte would now officially run on propane fuel, which is the first city in Indiana to utilize an all alternative fuel system. Four propane fueled buses are now in commission with a fifth on the way and are bought as unleaded vehicles, then converted to propane. The TransPorte fleet won the 2015 Green Fleet Award for their commitment to going green. Next the Street Department will be converting their vehicles to propane soon, and both the Public Works and Waste Departments are considering propane fuel in the future.