OFFBEAT: Young CP animal enthusiast honored for efforts

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-02-26T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Young CP animal enthusiast honored for effortsPhilip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

Melanie Derwinski, 10, of Crown Point, the daughter of Darlene and Jim Derwinski, is the young reader I wrote about last year for her efforts raising money (all on her very own) for a family in Valparaiso who take in injured animals to mend before their return to the wild.

She had read my story earlier last fall about Dr. Larry McAfee, one of the local veterinarians who depend on the help of Glenn Wiles and his family for this important mission.

I reported Melanie had raised $500 for this great cause and now it's she who is being honored for her efforts.

The Porter County Wildlife Management Advisory Board honored Melanie at this month's meeting. How did she raise so much money so quickly? She said she went door to door in her Crown Point neighborhood.

The Porter County Wildlife Management Advisory Board President Bob Gregg tells me Melanie will be honored as "event princess" at this year's Celebration of Wildlife for her efforts. The 2013 Celebration of Wildlife is June 1 and 2 in Valparaiso at Sunset Hill Park and will feature native and exotic wildlife on Saturday, while on Sunday, the Board is partnering with the Porter County Animal Shelter to host dog and cat rescue groups.

Not Crown Point

Thank you to the readers who called or emailed me over the weekend to let me know Dawn Brancheau, the trainer from Sea World Orlando I wrote about in my Sunday column, hailed from Cedar Lake area and not Crown Point.

It was three years ago yesterday, on Feb. 24, 2010, that Tilikum, one of the star Killer Whales at Sea World in Orlando, Fla. was blamed for the death of Brancheau, the 40-year-old trainer featured in the shows at the marine animal park.

A new documentary called "Blackfish," about Sea World, the treatment of Killer Whales used in performances and the death of this trainer, the third such death connected to the whale, premiered last month at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and has now been acquired by CNN to be broadcast on cable this summer.

Dawn's sister, Diane Gross, was very kind and gracious when she called me to alert about her sister's connection to Cedar Lake.

"In case you will be writing more about this film in the future, because I'm sure it will get further hype, I thought you'd want to know Dawn was from Cedar Lake," Gross said.

Reader Rick Sharp called upset about not only Brancheau being mentioned as from Crown Point, but also that I devoted space to tell readers about the new film.

"Did you even finish the second grade? Shame on the producers of this film 'Blackfish.' And shame on you too!" Sharp said.

Thank you to Diane, Rick and everyone who took the time to call or contact me, and for reading Sunday's column.

CNN Films, a production and acquisition unit of CNN Worldwide, and the Wagner/Cuban Company's Magnolia Pictures are the backers in partnership who acquired the U.S. rights to director Gabriela Cowperthwaite's "Blackfish" documentary. The exact air date has not yet been announced.

Old school

Thank you to reader Peter Ayala, 81, of Highland, who called me after I wrote about singer Patti Page and one of her friends who originally hailed from Northwest Indiana and "graduated from Catholic Central in 1952."

"The man you mentioned could not have graduated from Catholic Central in 1952, because I graduated from the same school in 1949, and it was already being called Bishop Noll," Ayala said.

Thank you for the clarification. You are indeed correct. Catholic Central was renamed Bishop Noll in 1947, in honor of the chief benefactor of the school, just in time for the 25-year celebration of the school's dedication.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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