The Fourth of July always brings back memories of the Korean War for James Watkin, of Valparaiso.
Exploding fireworks remind him of the Fourth of July in 1953 in Korea when he saw the bombs bursting in air, and the U.S. flag wasn't still there.
"Right as you come off the road there was a little guardhouse with the American flag, and the shell came down — I just happened to be looking — and hit this guardhouse and the flag, and neither one existed," Watkin said.
"When I see the flag flying yet today, I still remember how an enemy destroyed our flag."
Later in his interview, Watkin returned to that memory.
"But the saddest day of my whole career in the Army was the Fourth of July when you see shells dropping, trees being blown up by the assault of them. And there was this one guy standing in this little guardhouse, about 3 by 3 or 3 by 4, and all at once he just disappeared with a big hole in the ground," he said.
"Every time on the Fourth of July when we have all the fireworks shows around, I can see the real fireworks from shells bursting in air."
That Fourth of July in 1953 wasn't the only time U.S. Army Private 1st Class James Watkin was close to danger. He remembers the night he personally came closest to death — or as he put it, "the one day in my life that I had seriously been in a dangerous situation."
"The Chinese forces kept shooting at us, and we were right near the spot, and many times we couldn't sleep in our tents," Watkin said. "We had to go out, and one night in particular I remember. We went back into our tents the next morning, and my bunk, the cot I was sleeping on, it was just shot full of holes."
He was injured at another time, but not as bad as many.
"I was hitching up a Jeep to a trailer, and I had my thumb at the wrong spot, and it mashed my thumb. They took me down to the medics, and this first sergeant said, 'Let me get you a medal for that.' I said no, 'I don't want anything. Let it go.'"
Watkin did lose a front tooth, though.
Watkin recalls when "somebody up the chain of command decided they wanted to take this little hill called Pork Chop Hill."
There about 1,000 men in his batallion who went up the hill to face the Chinese, "and when they came back down, there was about half that many left, other than those who had been wounded and killed in action."
Watkin had stayed behind to guard the equipment.
"A lot of people lost a lot more. I had one friend who was in the battle of Pork Chop Hill. He got, a shell hit right in front of him, and he was alive a a very short while, and then he died. I hated that like everything."
That was disturbing, but it shouldn't be surprising in a war. But one event in particular was.
"One thing that always surprised me. It was during the battle of Pork Chop Hill," Watkin recalled. "They called a truce right in the middle of the battle, and our side went up and got the wounded, and the Chinese went up and did the same thing.
"And I don't know how long this truce lasted — I don't remember — but our troops traded trinkets and badges and everything with the Chinese and shook hands and I don't know what all, and after a short time they went back to fighting each other."
Watkin, a member of the First United Methodist Church in Valparaiso, remembers the atheist who went up the hill to fight that battle.
"After the battle, our chaplain said, 'Let's have a big prayer meeting.' And this atheist was sitting right on the front row shouting 'Amen!'"
While Watkin was in Korea, late in the war, he kept hearing talk of peace talk. "We kept thinking, 'Why can't they sign that?'"
After the war, Watkin came back to the States to farm and raise a family. In 1962, he moved to Valparaiso to work at Pinney-Purdue Farm. The weather was 10 below — harsh for Indiana, but a reminder of those winters he spent in Korea.
Chris Kovacik hoped to celebrate Christmas in his newly-built home in Winfield’s Stonegate subdivision.
Providence Builders worked hard to make his dream a reality, said Kovacik, who closed on his home Dec. 19.
It was a nice Christmas present for the family including his wife, their son and the two foster children who were staying with them, he said.
“They were super excited. Everybody was. Even I was,” Kovacik said.
The Kovaciks moved from Winfield’s Stony Run subdivision, where they had lived 15 years. Kovacik, who grew up in Whiting on the Robertsdale border, said his home was a “fixer upper” in Hammond.
“The second was a two-year old home when we bought it,” Kovacik said. “After living in that house for two or three years you realize that it isn’t what you want.”
So when the family decided to move, Kovacik said, they chose new construction.
“You get to make those choices, to make the house yours exactly as you want it,” Kovacik said. “That was the big thing about choosing new construction.”
Kovacik said he chose Stonegate because he wanted to stay in Winfield, where he is familiar with the area and the people, and in the Crown Point school system.
Realtor Catherine Hicks of Pace Re/Max, who markets Stonegate, said Kovacik likes his new home so much he convinced his parents to move from Whiting to Stonegate.
Hicks said 2013 new construction sales in Stonegate were almost double from 2012 numbers. She said sales are off to a good start in 2014.
“It’s great quality at a wonderful price,” Hicks said. “You really get a little bit more for your money in Winfield.”
Jennifer McCollom, who represents Phillippe Builders in the Gates of St. John subdivision, said sales in 2013 were slightly better than 2012.
McCollom said most of her buyers are downsizing to the maintenance-free cottage homes or are move-up buyers who have been renting or leasing. They are buying single family homes from $210,000 to $400,000, McCollom said.
Most of McCollom’s buyers come from Illinois, she said, but some are local.
McCollom said the advantages of building a new home include the energy-smart savings, the builder’s and manufacturers’ warranties, the ability to choose everything from roof to faucets and not having to update or rehab the home.
McCollom said St. John offers great schools, nearby shopping and activities, access to expressways and reasonable taxes.
“Our community offers maintenance-free living for those who travel or are ready for some relaxation and beautiful single family homes in the same neighborhood for those starting or growing their families,” McCollom said.
Todd Olthof said Olthof Homes is building new homes in Lake County in Cedar Lake’s Centennial subdivision, Crown Point’s Pentwater, Hamilton Square and Covington subdivisions, in St. John’s Lake Hills, Silverleaf, Saddle Creek and North Point subdivisions and in Meadow Gate in the Gates of St. John. In Porter County, Olthof Homes is building in Chesterton’s Duneland Trails and Valparaiso’s Mistwood and Beauty Creek subdivisions.
“Sales are relatively in line with expectations at each location,” Olthof said. “There are buyers evenly spread across the price points for the different home types which is very healthy.”
Olthof said it is nice to see buyers realizing the benefits of buying a home with everything brand new.
“They don’t have to start fixing things around the house the day they move in,” Olthof said. “That gets to be a costly proposition. The new home also has far lower energy bills with the energy efficiencies that come with today’s new construction.”
A recent Metro Study ranked both St. John and Crown Point in the top 15 for new housing starts in the entire Chicago-area market.
Christopher Meyers, Crown Point planning and building administrator, said in 2013 Crown Point issued 190 residential permits with 178 new single family residences, two duplexes and 10 townhomes. Overall residential costs, not including lots, were nearly $48 million in 2013 with an average single family residence construction cost of $252,231.
By subdivision, Meyers said, Regency had 43 single family permits, Waterside Crossing 21, Ellendale Farms 21 single family and one two-unit duplex and Penn Oak 12 single family residences.
In St. John, Town Manager Steve Kil said 102 building permits were issued for single family residences, 38 duplexes, seven townhomes and 10 condominiums last year. Kil said total residential construction value in St. John was $141.3 million.
It all started very innocently. She was 21 years old and just delivered her second child. After a particularly rough, natural birth, her doctor sent her home with a prescription for Vicodin. And so started a seven-year addiction to prescription painkillers that eventually led her to seek treatment at a local addiction treatment center.
“I never thought I would be here,” said the woman, who chose to remain anonymous. “I have been in treatment for more than a year, standing in line for a methadone treatment to kick this nasty habit,” she explained.
“I am a mother of two, I have a job, and we have a nice house in a decent neighborhood. I always thought that addicts were people I could spot a mile away — that anyone could — but now I look at my neighbors in my nice neighborhood and wonder if they too are addicts.”
“Most people think that methadone is for treating hard-core heroin addicts," said Lori Fuentes, program director at the Northwest Indiana Treatment Center (owned by the Riverwood Group), "but it actually helps us treat people with addictions to opiates, including painkillers, which is quickly becoming one of the largest problems nationwide and in our region.
"The majority of our patients are 25-39 years old and are addicted to opiates. And unlike what people may think, the problem is widespread across all of Northwest Indiana and affects people at all income levels.”
Most of the treatment center’s current patients in the outpatient treatment facility at 8500 Broadway in Merrillville come from south Lake County, she said.
Painkillers — most of which contain opiates — are the second most widely abused drugs of dependence.
The top drugs of dependence/abuse among Americans in 2012 were marijuana at 4.3 million, pain relievers at 2.1 million and cocaine at 1.1 million, according to the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
“Many of our patients started out with a physical injury or illness that their doctors prescribed them painkillers to treat,” Fuentes said. “They then became addicted to those painkillers and some of them even traded that addiction for other, less expensive street opiate-based drugs, such as heroin. When you have a long-term addiction, cost is a major factor.”
And the cost of that abuse is high, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, an organization that supports most of the world’s research on the health aspects of drug abuse and addiction.
Abuse of tobacco, alcohol and illicit drugs is costing our nation more than $600 billion annually in costs related to crime, lost work, productivity and health care. However, NIDA reports that there continues to be a large treatment gap in this country. In 2012, an estimated 23.1 million Americans (8.9 percent) needed treatment for a problem related to drugs or alcohol, but only about 2.5 million people (1 percent) received treatment at a specialty facility.
“Methadone treatment is 100 percent voluntary,” said Victoria Charleston, director of addiction at Edgewater Systems at The Turning Point building, which is the organization’s addiction services center, at 1110 W. 5th Ave. in Gary. “Addiction is a disease, like diabetes, and once that disease takes over, you need help to recover.
“You can’t force someone into treatment, at least not if you want them to be successful. They have to be willing and open to receive help. We are to help but the person has to be willing to receive the help and do the work,” added Charleston, who celebrates 19 years as a recovering addict herself.
Upon recovering from her addiction, Charleston made it her life’s work to help treat others. She earned a master’s degree in clinical addiction counseling, as well as several certifications specific to addiction treatment, and speaks to groups around the region and country about addiction and recovery.
The intake process at facilities such as Edgewater and the Northwest Indiana Treatment Center starts with a complete history — a process known as a bio/psycho/social — that takes into account the person’s medical, social and family dynamics.
“We take a holistic approach to treatment,” Charleston said. “Successful recovery, which often takes several years to achieve, requires addressing all of the issues that led to the addiction.”
The intake process also includes a drug screen, visits with physicians and psychiatrists on staff, and therapy sessions to address issues that contribute to the disease. Treatment averages $11 to $12 per day/session paid directly to the facility. Patients with insurance that covers addiction services submit expenses for reimbursement. Currently, Medicaid does not cover Methadone treatment.
Tourism agencies are increasingly turning to social media to connect visitors with all that Lake and Porter counties have to offer.
South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority used social media to poll visitors to the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond on their choice of a new window in the center's "A Christmas Story" Comes Home exhibit, said Speros Batistatos, president and CEO.
Responders resoundingly selected a scene where Ralphie, the 1982 movie's main character, saves his family from burglars using his Red Ryder BB gun.
"That came from Facebook," Batistatos said. "Our digital team is doing an exceptional job engaging our customers."
A video launched in January on the Indiana Dunes Tourism website has created interest, said Lorelei Weimer, executive director.
The video artfully depicts the thick layer of shelf ice formed this year in one of the region's coldest and snowiest winters in decades.
"It's our highest viewed video," in the Video 101 series launched on the agency website, Weimer said.
Response to the video has been "unbelievable," Weimer said, drawing visitors to the Indiana Dunes State Park to see the ice shelf for themselves.
The state park and adjoining Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore are the main destination for drivers in the area, Weimer said, attracting nearly 3 million visitors a year.
The agency also directs visitors to places of interest just outside the Lake Michigan shoreline.
"Shake off the sand and come into our communities," Weimer said.
A study by Kentucky based Certec Inc., which collects data on the tourism industry, said tourism and travel in Porter County contributed nearly $348 million to the county's economy in 2011, up from $311.5 million in 2009.
"Where it really benefits us is to have them visit our attractions, shop at our stores, eat at our restaurants," Weimer said. "It's helping those businesses increase their bottom lines."
The tourism and travel industry infused the Lake County economy with $1.62 billion in 2010, according to a study by the same company, Certec Inc.
The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority's recent launch of an interactive map showcasing local breweries is one of many ways the agency is working to build tourism's economic impact on the region.
Nine local breweries are showcased on the CVA website, with people able to plan their own brewery tour by clicking on the map. The number of trail listings will expand as more craft brewers come to the region, the CVA's Batistatos said.
The website also maps numerous other local attractions, from restaurants and hotels to bike trails. In the works are plans to map locations for local works of outdoor art and of bird migration spots, Batistatos said.
Visits to the website are increasing, Batistatos said.
"We're seeing in some instances thousands of percent increase in our mobile site," he said.
Details on the South Shore Brewery Trail are available at www.southshorecva.com/restaurants/breweries/brewery-trail/.
The Shelf Ice in Indiana Dunes Country video, and other information about Indiana Dunes Tourism, is available at www.indianadunes.com.
The push for electronic access to government services is stronger than ever, and big gains are being made in the courts.
This is translating into greater efficiency at the county level, while providing the public with free and easy access to details about cases.
Porter County jumped fully into the statewide Odyssey Case Management System in September, according to Porter County Clerk Karen Martin.
The county began the process two years earlier by placing traffic infractions and ordinance violations into the system, which reduced the workload in the busy clerk's office enough to allow employees to be shifted to other areas of need, she said.
The county then went live in the fall with the balance of its criminal and civil court cases.
"It's much easier to maneuver through," Martin said.
There was an initial learning curve that resulted in some difficulties among staff, Martin said. But after a few weeks, the new system was learned and has resulted in greater efficiency and streamlining in the office.
One example of this efficiency is the use of bar codes on the labels that are affixed to the front of each civil and criminal file, Martin said. Staff now use a bar scanner to read those codes, which eliminates the need to input information by hand while working with a folder.
Martin said the system also provides convenience to the public, who can check on the status of a case without having to travel to the courthouse.
"Accessibility to the public is phenomenal," she said.
The Odyssey Case Management System is a state-funded effort to bring uniformity to case management systems across Indiana, according to Mary DePrez, director of the Indiana Supreme Court's Judicial Technology and Automation Committee, which is overseeing the project.
The Odyssey Case Management System brings files together from various counties and provides not only free public access, but also links them with one another and with state agencies, she has said.
DePrez said 48 of the state's 92 counties already have some presence in the system, including LaPorte County. Discussion is underway with Lake County.
Lake County is currently operating its own on-line court docket system, said Marilyn Hrnjak, executive chief deputy in the Lake County clerk's office.
The system has increased efficiency, in part, by cutting down on the number of inquiries from the public, who now has access to the information on its own, she said.
"It seems to be, in my opinion, running quite smoothly," Hrnjak said.
While the Odyssey system provides online access to details of case activity, it does not yet offer an option for the public to look at scanned copies of the filed documents, DePrez said.
The vendor that provided the current system has another in the works that could one day be used if counties wish to make copies of documents available, she said. There are several issues that first must be worked out, she said, including how to handle the cost of storing all the information and what are the local hardware needs.
Franklin County became the first in the state in December to scan documents, DePrez said. But those copies are currently available for internal use alone.
The Odyssey system is funded from the automated record-keeping fee, which is one of the fees charged when a case is filed, she said.
The Odyssey Case Management System can be reached online at www.mycase.in.gov, Martin said.
The Lake County system is available at www.lakecountyin.org/portal/user/anon/page/online-docket-welcome.
Change is afoot at Nason’s Appliance Co. in Crown Point, and there’s no better time to see what’s new than during their annual St. Patrick’s Day Sale Extravaganza.
As always, there will be great deals on everything customers need to update their appliances – which will ultimately save even more green once the old energy guzzlers are replaced with brand-new Energy Star-rated appliances. Look for “Luck of the Irish” savings on everything from gas ranges, French door refrigerators and tall-tub dishwashers to high efficiency washers and dryers.
Mattresses have replaced televisions at Nason’s.
“We made the decision to no longer display televisions and added a mattress showroom,” owner Eric Hart says. “With Sealy on the way and King Koil - which is the oldest bedding manufacturer in the world - we can save you hundreds if not thousands on a great mattress made with higher quality material than many of the ‘brand name’ manufactures with a 20-year warranty. From value to luxury, we have you covered.”
Customers can check out all the details online. Nason’s recently introduced a new and improved website at nasons.net to go along with their fresh, new product mix.
“We take pride in what we do, and we want the people in our community to see how committed we are to making sure they remember a positive experience each and every time they visit or call Nason’s,” Hart adds. “We’ve been around for more than 75 years now, and our customers have a lot to do with that. We genuinely appreciate them and remain focused on doing what’s best for the customer at Nason’s.”
For example, Hart points out that it’s a big misconception among consumers today that independent stores cannot compete with box stores.
“That’s outrageous! Our volume and buying group allow for us to beat any advertised special in print more than 90 percent of the time for the products we carry,” he explains. “Plus, all of our installation and delivery costs are straight forward and usually end up being less than our competitors as they pull the blindfolds over their customers’ eyes promising free delivery, then riddling them with fees for kits. Another thing that’s really important to our customers is the fact that we keep our dollars local. Keeping it within the community means we are always contributing to local youth programs and school systems that need our support.”
As one of Indiana’s largest independent appliance stores, Nason’s works closely with their manufacturers in order to offer dependable service after the sale.
“Nobody's perfect, but I feel if a problem arises we have more control working tightly with our manufacturers rep and having a direct contact with our delivery personnel and servicers in the field eliminating the need for calling a 1-800 number all while getting you the best deal for your dollar because that is what providing great service is all about,” Hart says. “We know your time is valuable, so if you ever have a service issue with an appliance from Nason’s, you simply need to call the store, and a real live employee will answer. Not only will they listen to what you have to say, they can get everything set up for you in less than five minutes. We often hear about how refreshing that is.”
Nason’s store hours are Monday through Thursday 9am to 7pm, Friday and Saturday 9am to 5pm. Normally closed on Sunday, Nason’s will be open Sunday, March 16 to kick off their “Luck of the Irish” sale week.
Tudor Carpet One Floor & Home’s staff offers real-world flooring experience and knowledge not often found in the large national chain stores. Since they are locally-owned, they want to help customers make the right flooring and installation decisions for their home to enjoy for years to come.
Owned by Jan and Mauri Stump, Tudor Carpet One Floor & Home has been family owned and operated for 45 years. “We are the oldest floor covering store in Porter County and we are now into our third generation of being a family-owned business,” says Jan Stump. This means that Tudor’s staff not only knows their products and services with the ultimate level of expertise, but they also know their customers and the tastes of the region so they can better advise and pass along knowledge.
Stump says that the staff at Tudor Carpet One Floor & Home is able to focus on the customer because of their business culture. She says, “All of our staff is non-commission so we are able to give equal attention to small and large projects. What we show customers is what they need instead of what the sales person needs for financial gain. We are very customer service oriented. We really want the customer to be happy. With Carpet One, a buying group we’ve been a part of for 20 years, we are able to obtain product at lower prices and better warranties from the vendors, so we can pass that along to our customers. They have a beautiful guarantee which means if you don’t like it we will replace it, including labor, and there is no one else in the industry that will do that.”
As evidence of their expertise in the field, Stump says that they were one of only 400 stores nationally selected to be part of program for HGTV endorsed products and HGTV is very selective about the stores chosen to participate. These are products that are endorsed by HGTV and carry the label of HGTV and are featured and shown on HGTV. “In addition, we have a lot of specialty-type products like heat mats for under tile, glass tile for backsplashes and unique materials. We have a warehouse with half-off deals all of the time and we can help customers save money, from cheap to chic,” she says.
Stump adds that Tudor Carpet One Floor & Home also cares about the environment, in addition to their customers. “We recycle the carpet and pad that we remove from homes and we are the only store in Valparaiso that does this. We use a company in Wisconsin who turns it into car parts and gardening products, so we keep it out of the landfills for future generations.”
It all starts with service.
Since Nick Maruszczak first started repairing washers and dryers in North Hammond more than 60 years ago, the Maruszczak name has been associated with excellent service.
Prior to opening the family’s former Munster retail store with his wife Pam in 1987, Doug Maruszczak, Sr also had a thriving repair appliance repair business that consistently exceeded customer expectations.
With the support of a friendly and knowledgeable team, Maruszczak Appliance enjoyed serving customers and continued to flourish. From offering a wide range of major home appliances, to assisting individuals, remodelers and builders with their kitchen design, the family-owned and operated business expanded to a newly built facility in the spring 2008. Maruszczak Appliance moved to Schererville and quickly filled over 8,000-sq-ft of dedicated showroom space.
New advances such as larger capacity full-sized front loading washing machines that allow busy families to wash more clothing in less loads saving time and water, plus specialty items like wine and beverage refrigeration including kegerators, along with the introduction of more energy-efficient appliances are on display in the already five year old facility.
“We are extremely grateful to all our loyal customers as well as the many new ones we have welcomed,” Maruszczak, Sr said. “It’s truly a privilege to have been voted the #1 Appliance Store in the Best of the Region all five years since we made the move to our new building, and I believe it’s a testament to the fact that we still offer the same old-fashion personalized service and attention that made the company what it is today!”
Featuring beautiful built-in kitchen vignette displays that provide great ideas when it comes to design, the Maruszczak Appliance showroom floor offers something for everyone - from a 60" Wolf Professional Range for cooking enthusiasts all the way to an entry-level affordable stove for the first time homeowner. Stop by and see GE’s Profile™ Series with easy to mix and match appliances giving you the freedom to choose the options you want most as well as more basic options – with competitive pricing for all your kitchen and laundry needs.
“We’re part of the Brand Source® network, a multi-million dollar buying group that gives us the leverage we need to compete with the big box stores on price,” Doug Maruszczak, Jr. said. “However, it’s always been our goal to sell, install and service appliances that fit the needs of our customers, and we feel that service after the sale is more important than ever.”
Maruszczak Appliance offers warranty service on all appliances purchased there and also services appliances bought elsewhere that are out of warranty, according to Maruszczak, Jr.
“Honestly the biggest benefit of having our own team of manufacturer trained and locally vetted technicians is our customer’s peace of mind,” he said. “Who would you prefer to let in your home if something goes wrong with an appliance – someone that represents the Maruszczak name or someone who has no ties whatsoever to the local community?”
FOR MORE INFO:
7809 West Lincoln Hwy. | Schererville, IN | (219) 865-0555
Batteries Unlimited is a full service battery supplier with two locations in the Chicagoland area. The first location in Addison, Illinois opened in 2003 and the second opened in Griffith, Indiana in September, 2013. Daryle Gates, owner, says that they specialize in batteries of every kind and as a result of their expertise, they have become a leader in the battery industry.
“We specialize in all types of batteries. We sell automotive batteries, commercial batteries for equipment like golf carts, floor scrubbers, backup sump pumps, marine boat applications, hearing aids, laptops, cordless phones, motorcycles, cameras, cell phones, commercial tractor trucks, and forklifts and we also sell battery charging equipment. We carry Exide, AC Delco, Trojan, US Battery, and Optima, among other brands,” says Gates.
Batteries Unlimited also recycles batteries of all types including lithium ion, NiCad, and nickel metal hydride. Gates says, “Most people are looking for a battery recycling center and we do it here. We know how to handle batteries properly for the environment and that’s very important. When it comes to car batteries, we recycle about 45,000 pounds a week. We also pay for scrap lead batteries such as car or truck batteries.”
As a result, Batteries Unlimited sells reconditioned batteries as well. “In addition to our new batteries, we also sell reconditioned car batteries starting at $29 for people who are looking to save money. We regenerate them ourselves at our Addison location. We build battery packs too for cordless drills or other equipment.”
Sometimes batteries can be hard to find, but Gates and his staff are experts in the battery industry. “People who work with us know we can find it. We have many batteries in stock and others are easily ordered. This is all we do so we are experts in our field and we know what we’re doing. We know where to obtain hard-to-find batteries because we’ve seen it and we can get it. We are experts at solving problems and helping people to find the right battery. Sometimes people might have the wrong battery for the application. We are very competitively priced and we can help find the battery our customers need,” Gates says.
The Griffith location is managed by Derrick Gates who has over six years of experience in the battery business. Both locations sell retail as well as wholesale and deliver for larger orders.
At John’s Pizzeria in Dyer, Owners Maria and Nik Mileusnic say that they are a great go to for a delicious meal. “As a mom and a business owner, let me tell you it is a lot easier to get a fresh hot pizza, with great ingredients and you don’t have to worry about dinner,” says Maria Mileusnic. “You just run home and it’s done. We make everything ourselves—our sauce, our dough, our own pork that we grind ourselves—nothing is out of a can, it is all done in house. They are hand tossed and we are known for our thin crust. We do a number of specialty pizzas including a four cheese pizzas made with mozzarella, provolone, parmesan, and cheddar; we do a taco pizza; a vegetarian pizza; a pizza with spinach that is sautéed with butter, sour cream, onions, and garlic; we do a meatball pizza with our homemade meatballs and red sauce; and a pesto pizza with fresh tomato and onion and we make our own pesto. We make our own chunk sausage in house which we grind, cook, and season. We have a pizza with chunk sausage, pepperoncini peppers and red onions and it’s a little spicier so it’s really good. We can make anything you want. We have specials every day for dining in or carry out. John’s Pizzeria has been around for 75 years and my husband and I have been owners for 20 years.”
Mayor Keith Soderquist and the administration, staff, and employees of the City of Lake Station, Indiana have been working hard to improve the quality of life for residents and visitors, through rebuilding homes, rebuilding infrastructure, and rebuilding parks and recreational opportunities. Many of these improvements are long overdue and will greatly affect the future of the city and its residents.
It’s a Wonderful Life Housing Project
To help restore neighborhoods after the hard economic times have made their mark, the City of Lake Station has invested in rebuilding homes, quite literally, in order to bring beauty back to the city and inspire others to do the same. Soderquist says, “This is something I wanted to start years ago and the time was right. We started this project at the later part of 2013. It’s called the It’s a Wonderful Life Housing Project and it was inspired by the movie. There were situations in Lake Station where the homeowners backed out of their mortgage and the bank had to maintain and the home. But that isn’t the bank’s business—they’re in the business of banking, so we had to deal with unruly lawns and deteriorating homes. Through this program, four homes were deeded to the city from the bank and we assessed what it would take to turn the home around.”
The first home, a three bedroom with a 1 ½ car garage and full basement, was restored with a new roof, new flooring, and was completely gutted and remodeled after damaged by flood. The city spent $28,000 in repairs, as budgeted by the city council. “It’s in a prime location, but the house sat for four years. It fell apart. It is right in the center of a nice block and people were moving away because it hurt the appeal of the block. People came in from out of town and saw it and it was embarrassing. But now, people are inspired by the remodel and they want their relatives to buy it. The point is to get a family to move to Lake Station or stay in Lake Station. This is our way of trying to correct the problem and reverse the problem and hopefully it will be contagious and people will want to take care of their homes. We want to lead by example and inspire other neighbors on the block,” says Soderquist.
The city of Lake Station plans to continue the It’s a Wonderful Life Housing Project with the other four other homes they own. Soderquist says, “We will put this first one on the market in March and we plan to list it in mid to upper $80,000. All the money made will go back into the economic development fund for the remodel of the other homes. We will plan to get the next two done this year.”
Since Mayor Soderquist took office, one of the issues that has been on the top of his agenda has been the water quality in the city. After a period of data gathering and analysis, the plan was made to replace the four wells that have reached the end of their useful lives, built in the 1950s, and an additional fifth well was planned for construction. The city, rather than a private profit-seeking firm, embarked on this project to save Lake Station customers money. The project began in 2013 and will be finished this year. It means that the city will have increased their water production by 35 percent so they can be self-supportive and not have to rely on outside companies. Plus, a water main break can be treated much quicker by the city rather than a firm located in Indianapolis. In addition, manual read water meters are being replaced for better accuracy of use and supervisory control and data acquisition systems are being installed. The city’s water filtration plant and new water mains are both complete and the plant will be turned on this spring, resulting in very clear, odorless, safe, and drinkable water.
Field of Dreams
The Field of Dreams outdoor sports complex has already given residents and their families the ability to play team sports and enjoy recreation without having to travel to other towns and cities, is scheduled for much additional work in 2014, as soon as weather breaks. Soderquist says, “We are building a brand new playground at the park so when little children go with the family to watch their brothers and sisters play baseball, they can play on the playground. We plan to open this playground in-mid April. We are also putting in a skate park for our skateboarders which will be a 100 foot by 100 foot concrete slab with equipment ramps. This will also be completed this spring. Also this spring we will build a facility in the center of the four baseball fields that will feature a concession stand, bathrooms, and on the top floor, an announcing stand. The fourth field will be finished this spring as well. On the north part of the field we will begin clearing out, leveling, and landscaping the area that will become the football field and we have that work slated to finish this fall. So next year, residents of Lake Station can anticipate enjoying a really nice mature sod they can play on.”
It is the mission of the Hammond Port Authority to provide maximum public recreational access to Lake Michigan waters, Wolf Lake waters, George Lake waters, Lost Marsh Golf Course, Forsythe Park, Wolf Lake Memorial Park, for all who come by land or by sea, striving towards the highest quality of professional Port Authority management for customers and citizens while promoting economic development for the city of Hammond.
Designated the first “Clean Marina” in the State of Indiana, the Hammond Marina is just 12 nautical miles from Downtown Chicago and features 918 slips (seasonal and transients welcome), a fuel dock, daily launch, winter storage on both water and land, mast stepping, 24-hour security, and affordable slip rates. The Marina is located on miles of sandy shoreline and is adjacent to the Horseshoe Casino. Visitors enjoy activities that appeal to every age, all linked together by a pedestrian trail and within two square miles. Sailing classes are also available for all experience levels.
Overlooking Lake Michigan, the Hammond Marina’s Clipper Room offers a breathtaking view and provides a serene, peaceful setting for special events or meetings. With seating for 100, the Clipper Room provides an in-laid dance floor, full service bar, and a spacious balcony. The professional staff is prepared to assist in planning any occasion and will work closely with clients to make it memorable and enjoyable. To enhance meetings or seminars, a wireless microphone system, pull-down screen, LCD projector and DVD are available for rental. Continental breakfast and box lunches may also be arranged. Various rental rates are suited to the type of event or meeting with reduced banquet rates Mondays through Thursdays.
Wolf Lake Memorial Park
Wolf Lake Memorial Park is home to boating, kayaking, fishing, windsurfing and a full host of outdoor recreational activities. Visitors enjoy the Pavilion at Wolf Lake and the Aquatic Center, which are linked to the Hammond Marina and area amenities by way of a pedestrian trail. Wolf Lake Memorial Park is open daily from dawn to dusk and canoe, kayak, paddle board, and boat rentals are available for only $5 per hour from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, weather and event-permitting.
Lost Marsh Golf Course
Lost Marsh is a world class 18-hole public golf course and a challenging 9-hole executive course. Lost Marsh is a shining example of brown-field reclamation, habitat restoration, and a satisfying golfing experience. With driving range facilities, pro-shop and lounge, Lost Marsh is an excellent facility at an affordable price. With the natural beauty of George Lake as a centerpiece and a view of the Chicago Skyline on the horizon, Lost Marsh Golf Course is a world-class, award-winning haven. Lost Marsh is home to the next generation of golfers through the First Tee Program for children.
The beautiful Restaurant at Lost Marsh is perfect for lunch, dinner, or corporate or group gatherings. Whether celebrating a wedding or a birthday party, expecting 10 people or 200, Restaurant at the Lost Marsh helps celebrate special events in style and comfort. Occasions seem even more special at Restaurant at the Lost Marsh. The restaurant is housed in the Lost Marsh Club House, a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired prairie style building that is open to the public, not just the golfers, as everyone is welcome. The Club House features a top-shelf bar and grille, a gourmet dining room, and an elegant pro shop.
The Pavilion at Wolf Lake
Just 20 minutes from Chicago, The PAV (Pavilion at Wolf Lake) is a new outdoor concert venue located on the shores of Wolf Lake in Hammond, Indiana. Offering ticketed big name concerts to free community events, there's something to interest everyone at The PAV. It is a centerpiece of revitalization of the Wolf Lake Memorial Park area and was built as part of the $31.4 million grant by the Northwest Indiana Redevelopment Authority. The 2,600 square foot main stage and 6,000 square feet of “front of the stage” VIP seating and 80,000 square feet of grass seating allows the PAV to host concerts of all sizes. At the annual Festival of the Lakes concert in mid-July, free admission shows of over 15,000 concert goers have enjoyed top-flight entertainment while watching the sunset over Wolf Lake and the Chicago skyline.
Forsythe Park is home to picnics, Little League, fishing, and relaxing lakefront scenery. Settled on Wolf Lake and linked to nearby amenities by way of a pedestrian trail, Forsythe Park is open from dawn to dusk daily, with extended summer hours for Little League games. A picnic shelter is available for rental at Forsythe Park.
The Hammond Port Authority provides boundless opportunities for outdoor recreation and activity. All outdoor recreation locations are clustered within two miles of each other. Sites offer convenient parking and are linked by way of a pedestrian, walking, and biking trail. Families can enjoy splash-pad fun at the Wolf Lake Aquatic Center; beach fun along the shores of Lake Michigan; biking a seven mile lakeside trail; boating on Lake Michigan or Wolf Lake; sailing and golf instruction; a summer full of outdoor festivals and events; fishing along Lake Michigan, Wolf Lake, or George Lake; world-class gaming at the Horseshoe Casino; championship golf at Lost Marsh; kayak and canoe fun on Wolf Lake; and winter fun around the community.
Hometown Appliance & Electronics has been committed to providing customers with the best possible prices while still providing them the customer service they expect. With almost 50 years combined experience, the professional sales staff at Hometown Appliance & Electronics has the knowledge to help customers with almost any appliance question.
Owner Erik Schneider says, “All the sales staff is very knowledgeable and I have been in the appliance business for over 10 years. Prior to opening my business four years ago, I was in the construction industry so I can offer customers ideas on how to use the space in their homes when selecting or installing appliances. I can go to customers’ homes to see what can be moved or rearranged and provide the customer with design ideas. It gives the customer an advantage, to know what is going to work in their homes, and what is going to fit. For example, if they are doing a kitchen remodel and are selecting new appliances, I can prepare spec packets for the cabinet business and installers and can ask questions with every customer so they don’t have issues down the line.”
Hometown Appliance & Electronics offers customers a 3,100 sq. ft. showroom. They carry most major brands of appliances including Amana, Estate, Whirlpool, Maytag, Kitchen Aid, Fisher & Paykel, Frigidaire, Electrolux, Broan, DCS, and Samsung. They also carry a number of electronics manufacturers such as Sony, Samsung, LG, Toshiba, Sharp, Mitsubishi, and Panasonic. They always have a number of TVs in stock to make sure customers never miss the big game. They also have a live working Kitchen Aid kitchen display for people to look at as well as live cooking demonstrations monthly with local chefs. “We are the only store in Northwest Indiana that carries the new high efficiency Fisher & Paykel washers and dryers. These are the highest capacity washers with an agitator that can be taken out of high efficiency mode so customers have the option and don’t have to take their king-sized comforter to the Laundromat or drycleaner,” he says.
Schneider adds that his delivery and installation departments are second to none. “Since we opened our doors four years ago we have added a service department and we have maintained our core structure and sales staff. We really stand by our customer service and feel that this is how we stand out from other stores. Our delivery crew is our own—we don’t outsource our delivery to other companies the way other stores may. Justin and Greg on our delivery crew are excellent and they just don’t make mistakes. It makes it a lot easier for us to streamline our service having them in house and they treat your home like their own. That’s what makes us who we are. They go above and beyond always. It’s all about our family taking care of yours,” Schneider says.
The aromas from the Italian cuisine at Giovanni’s are tantalizing, promising dishes sure to satisfy everyone. That’s because family-owned Giovanni’s has been true to its tradition of serving up the savory flavors of Italy for nearly 48 years. From a welcome weekday dinner to a special-occasion weekend and isn’t-this-great lunch, you’ll always enjoy the best Italian cuisine at Giovanni’s.
Each day begins with selecting the freshest vegetables at market, along with fresh fish for the day’s specials, from Chilean sea bass to halibut and more. Simmering sauces are ladled over pasta made from scratch that day, accompanied by rolls still warm from the oven.
Executive chef Chris Pohl directs the activity in the kitchen, always geared toward preparing dishes with strong, clean flavors, like the popular veal piccata and the fork-tender lamb shanks.
“We’re a neighborhood restaurant; very comfortable and with quality dishes,” says Pohl. While the dining room is all about easy elegance, Giovanni’s dishes can also be ordered for pick-up, including large pans and half pans for offices and conference groups, with meat and vegetarian choices. Most individual entrees are available for carry-out and include rolls and salad. Whether for a couple or a crowd, “People love the convenience and wonderful food,” says Giovanni’s owner Mary LoDuca.
“We’re also proud of our extensive wine lists. In addition to our regular wine list, we have a cellar list that offers great pairings with our dishes.” Budget-friendly wine specials mean patrons can choose the wine they enjoy the best, and also discover new wines. A VIP texting club offers something new each week, like the half off a bottle of wine ordered with an entrée. The club also offers meal specials for lunch and dinner, and signing up is simple—just go online at giosmunster.com or on Giovanni’s Facebook page.
Intriguing extra: “We pick winners every month for a gift certificate. We offer a lot of fun things,” says LoDuca. “And our portions are generous.”
“In our elegant dining room we strive for really good service in a calm, pleasant atmosphere,” says Pohl, who was voted Best Chef in the 2013 Best of the Region poll.
Located in Northwest Indiana’s very own ‘downtown Mayberry’, Popa Heating & Cooling in Highland attracts its share of passersby. Some stop in for a cup of coffee. Others enjoy some casual conversation. And no matter how long they stay, most can’t get over how nicely decorated the front office is.
I mean, this is a heating and cooling company, right?
“We are woman-owned, and it shows,” laughs Pat Popa, owner and operator of Popa Heating & Cooling. “It’s just a really happy environment around here. Every day is a fun and exciting adventure.
Providing quality services at fair prices, Popa Heating & Cooling is well versed in energy savings, manufacturer’s recommendations, building code requirements and federal laws that have an effect on today’s wide range of heating and cooling systems. As a premier TRANE comfort specialist dealer, Popa Heating & Cooling are specialists in knowing all about the latest and greatest products out there on the market. “I would have to say we have the best air cleaners on the market,” explains Popa of their extensive line of TRANE products. “We have customers to this point, have been living with allergies. With this particular system, we have them breathing better by the next day. And as a premier TRANE comfort specialist dealer, we get the exclusive on selling new products before other dealers, such as the brand new variable speed air conditioners.”
Yet, convincing customers to make the necessary investment within their home can be tricky. “People will spend 4-5 times more on a car than they ever do on a heating and cooling system, which will end up something they will actually spend much more time with,” comments Popa. “We never want our customers to waste either money or comfort, so we love being there to come up with heating and cooling solutions.”
Often, this means comprehensive load calculations which involve formulas that look at a number of determining factors to ensure that the heating and/or cooling system is the right size for the home. “We often find, in large subdivisions for example, that a contractor has used a blueprint where they put the same size system in every home,” she says. “Yet, factors such as what direction the windows are facing are going to have an effect on that calculation.”
Another aspect that sets Popa Heating & Cooling apart from the competition is their inner pride in their work, a quality seldom seen these days. “We employ quality technicians who are not only highly trained with the very latest in technology, but also always have the customer’s interests first in their mind,” says Popa, who receives most new customers via positive referrals. “The culture in our company is about always providing the very best for our customers and doing the very best job we can.”
Of course, being a woman owned enterprise also helps draw and ultimately keep customers. “Many customers say that they picked us because we were the only company who truly listened to them and cared about their issues,” she says of the company, which first opened in 1968.
A Highland resident who stays quite active within the community, Popa says she takes pride in what she does for a living, and is proud of the work her company provides. “It’s not like I can go into Strack & Van Til with my head hanging, hiding from anyone I might see in the produce department,” she laughs. “Our customers are our neighbors and our friends. We want to be sure they remain a satisfied customer.”
When it comes to choosing the right podiatrist it is easy to get lost in vast amount of information. Traditional research on search engines or word-of-mouth from friends, family or referring physicians simply does not cut it. “The health of your feet are extremely important and you must seek the top quality care you deserve,” says Dr. ElSamad, DPM, FACFAS, founder of The Institute of Foot & Ankle Reconstructive Surgery. “Ask questions like is your podiatrist double certified, where did the receive their training and how long had they trained.”
Dr. ElSamad is amongst America’s Top Podiatrists according to Consumers’ Research Council of America and serves as the Director of Diabetic Limb Salvage at both Saint Catherine’s in East Chicago and Saint Mary’s in Hobart. He started his professional education at the American University of Beirut before earning an undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the University of Central Oklahoma. Soon after he earned his Masters in Biomedical Sciences and his Doctorate in Podiatric Medicine, which led him to Salt Lake City, UT where he completed his comprehensive training in foot and ankle reconstructive surgery.
Dr. ElSamad is one of the few podiatrists who have completed a fellowship in diabetic limb salvage in Italy utilizing the Ilizarov technique, which would led to his induction to the Society of Innovators in 2012. After working with the orthopedic team at the Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, VA, where he played an integral role of keeping active duty personnel on their feet, “I realized I needed to take my double certification, expertise and passion to help others and establish an independent practice,” says ElSamad
But what does it mean to be double certified?
Under to the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgery, formerly American Board of Podiatric Surgery, there are three certifications: Foot Surgery, Reconstructive Rearfoot & Ankle Surgery and Foot & Ankle. The average podiatrists obtain a Foot Surgery Certification that indicates knowledge of podiatric surgery, diagnosis of problems and surgical management of foot disease, deformities and/or trauma.
“Very few podiatrists go the extra mile to seek the “upper level” certification and that is what sets us apart from the rest,” states Dr. ElSamad. Board Certified Podiatrists in Rearfoot and Ankle, such as Dr. ElSamad, have all the knowledge of a typical podiatrist but harness more in-depth training in the structures that affect the foot, ankle and leg. “We strive to be the best and provide the best service for our patients and this can only done by taking our knowledge that extra step,” Dr. ElSamad said.
There are numerous websites where you can locate podiatry offices around your local area that offer convenient, friendly locations with knowledgeable doctors. “The best way to find this information is through theABPS.org (abfas.org effective in June) or by viewing our certifications atTIFARS.net,” says Dr. ElSamad.
Although Lowell has expanded much since it was first platted in 1852, that growth has been measured with the same rural mindset upon which the town was founded; a mindset that has been the backbone and foundation of Lowell, allowing it to be a friendly town with a proud past and bright future.
The Lowell Parks and Recreation Department benefits residents and visitors through programs and recreational opportunities. Tom Sullivan, superintendent of parks, says that there have been many successes over the past year. “Soccer remains our largest program and again we hosted the Challenger British Soccer Camp for one week this year, as well as the MiniKickers program. Our tree count at Freedom Park is still growing. The Freedom Brick Walk is established and continues to grow. Disc golf is complete and we are hoping to utilize this new addition by hosting tournaments and possibly a youth instruction camp. We seeded 40 acres north of the entrance which makes a great spot for flying a kite or throwing a football around and one-half mile of gravel path has been laid and continues as a work in progress. Plenty of walking paths have been established including a partial wilderness path and we are getting closer to having ball fields become a reality at Freedom Park,” Sullivan says.
The Town of Lowell’s Tri-Creek School Corporation creates a progressive, collaborative, innovative and tech-centric school system that not only prepares students for thriving success in college, but a rich, full life beyond that. The school system serves 3,700 students at Lowell High School, Lowell Middle School, Lake Prairie Elementary, Oak Hill Elementary, and Three Creeks Elementary. In addition, the Lowell municipal services are superb. Erik Matson, chief of police, says they have recently embarked on a Neighborhood Watch program with terrific results. “We have about 19 people who have gone through our first orientation and training and we will continue our training quarterly to welcome in new members. It’s great to see the town working together to keep our community safe,” says Matson.
Tom Trulley, building administrator for the Town of Lowell, says that the parks and schools are just two of the things that make for an excellent quality of life in Lowell and the recent grown growth in residential and commercial building over the past few years shows it. “On the business side, our community development is progressing really well. We just put in a St. Franciscan Clinic that opened this year and features facilities with two doctors. We had a banquet hall that was built and it opened last fall, the Signature Banquet Hall, and the Trilogy Nursing Home will open this year with 91 beds. A Family Dollar Store is open,” says Trulley.
He continues, “Our housing was stable last year and we were up considerably since 2008, so we’re feeling really good about commercial and residential growth in our town. The town has also annexed over 100 acres which will make it easier for future development. It shows we have growth and potential for growth to provide for the citizens coming into Lowell.”
In 1951 the Calumet College of St. Joseph was established in the region with one purpose—to provide access to education. Originally built in East Chicago, Calumet College of St. Joseph moved to Whiting in 1973 to accommodate expansion and during the course of their history they have fulfilled, and continue to fulfill their mission of offering a quality education in the Catholic tradition. “Calumet College of St. Joseph has three different populations of students,” says Dr. Daniel Lowery, president. “We have 1,100 students and comprising that number of just over 500 traditional students who come from high school and attend full time; and the rest are in our graduate program and degree completion programs.”
Mission to Serve the Underserved Population
Calumet College of St. Joseph was built upon the mission to serve the underserved population and that mission is linked to college affordability. Carl Cuttone, Jr., director of admissions, says that they have a high percentage of students who need financial aid and the college has a variety of ways to meet that need. “About 90 percent of our traditional students receive some kind of financial aid. Given our mission, we don’t feel that ability to pay should be a barrier to education,” Cuttone says.
Organizing their programs in a way to prepare all students for success, Calumet College of St. Joseph has a diverse population of students. Lowery says, “Year in and year out we are ranked as the 1st or 2nd most-diverse four-year institution of higher learning. We are Indiana’s only designated Hispanic serving institution.” Cuttone says that this year’s freshman class is comprised of 33 percent Hispanic students. “We have a summer bridge program to aid students to prepare for classes at the college level. This is a free program and we offer it so students can get ready before they show up in the fall and the financial barrier is taken away. We also have a dual credit program so high school students can come into our classroom and see what a college life is like and get general education credit. We only charge $75 a class. We’ve organized ourselves to provide a unique level of assistance to students who aren’t fully ready for college and to those in the honor track as well. We try to serve a diverse population and the best way to serve an urban population is to give them a diverse institution,” says Cuttone.
The St. Gaspar's Honors Learning Community provides an exceptional educational experience to a diverse group of highly motivated students in an environment that nurtures the growth of the whole student, academically, socially, emotionally, and intellectually. Through this program, students are able to gain leadership and service opportunities, dedicated honors scholarships, special activities such as retreats and banquets, and the honors transcript and degree. The added rigor of honors classes coupled with integrated learning experiences serve as an ideal preparation for continuing educational opportunities such as graduate school. In addition, students in the honors program receive an expenses paid international trip designed to engage them in the world beyond the classroom. These trips prepare students to take their place in the world by teaching them cultural awareness, respect for individual differences, and giving them first-hand knowledge of the best our culture has to offer. Entry to the honors learning community is based on merit.
Curriculum Redesign for Career Readiness
Calumet College of St. Joseph offers a choice of more than 20 majors. Among these programs are accounting, business management, computer information systems, criminal justice, education, English and professional writing, general studies, humanities, human services, media and fine arts, organization management, paralegal and pre-law studies, psychology, public safety management, religious studies, science, and social sciences.
Lowery says that those programs are changing to prepare students for the workplace and after a lengthy and thorough process they are getting ready for roll out. “We are in the middle of a multi-year complete redesign of our program. We redesigned the general education program about five years ago and it tends to be very different than other institutions of higher learning. One way is through the number of credit hours offered. Many schools scale back the number of credit hours, or the courses aren’t sequenced or build on each other in any significant way, or they are taught by adjuncts or grad students. The redesign we’ve embarked on over the course of five years is that we have bulked up our number of credit hours in the general education program. We did this because we want our students to have a core experience in common with each other. Also, the courses are sequenced so they build on each other. We link the courses in their freshman year so the instructors are mutually supporting the students’ efforts, and we provide mentors for students to address their education and social needs. Finally our very best faculty, many times our most senior faculty, teach these courses. And that makes us very different from other universities,” says Lowery.
One of the more substantial changes in the programs at Calumet College of St. Joseph comes with the addition of experiential learning opportunities, essential for career readiness. “The big change that is now forthcoming is we are redesigning our majors with full integration of experiential learning into each of those majors. Our experiential learning is a whole tool box of opportunities that help students to be career ready so they have the knowledge and experience to move right into a job. These experiences help students to think critically and enhance their writing and speaking skills. We are in the process of establishing partnerships with the business community to help design and gain feedback for what they look for in employees. We will be rolling this out in about three years and we have a faculty that has embraced this change and are leading the change,” says Lowery.
Through the redesign, Calumet College of St. Joseph is also adding majors that will be in demand. They have constructed new science laboratories due to the demand in the sciences. These science labs opened last year although the program is one of Calumet College’s most popular. Lowery says, “There is a tremendous demand. There are a large number of African-American and Hispanic students who traditionally don’t have as much opportunity in the sciences and we feel we can fill that niche. We serve all students and we want our urban population, regardless of race and ethnicity, to be able to get into those science jobs that are so important for the market.” Calumet College of St. Joseph continues to grow. They carry on the tradition of serving a diverse student population, changing lives through education. Master’s degrees and accelerated programs remove time and space barriers for adult students and innovative education programs assist professionals who transition to teaching. An athletic program, established in 1999, swelled the College’s traditionally-aged academic population.
Calumet College of St. Joseph has recently written a strategic plan that guides their future growth. “We have engaged in a year-long strategic planning process with input from the board, faculty, alumni and we discovered that the mission upon which we were founded, to serve the underserved, was reaffirmed. All of our changes we make moving forward will fit into that mission. We are looking to construct housing through a lease-build arrangement and are in the process of trying to acquire land. We have engaged a firm to develop a concept plan for the redesign of the entire campus so the change to a more traditional population is already underway.”
When great food and award-winning wines are served in a beautiful setting, the experience is bound to be memorable. Guiseppe “Joe” Scalzo has created that experience at Ciao Bella, where authentic Italian dining is true to his family’s roots in their native town of Calabria, Italy. Scalzo discovered the joys of cooking working at a small restaurant in Florence, Italy—and then brought it to the U.S.
After studying international business at Loyola College in Chicago, Scalzo
was more than ready to successfully take the helm at two Chicago restaurants. Next, it
was time to bring the flavors of fine Italian cuisine to northwest Indiana “Having a place where people can share love and friendship over good food that’s prepared with experience and skill is something beautiful,” says Scalzo.
Ciao Bella offers authentic Italian fare from family recipes reflecting different regions in Italy. Scalzo creates dishes embracing the Mediterranean diet, and patrons are delighted with his new ideas for specialty dinners with fresh ingredients. The Rigatoni Boscaiola is Joe’s mother’s recipe; the Pollo alla Romana (Chicken Romano) is another family favorite; and the recipe for award-winning lasagna is from a chef in Bologna. During Lent, there will be fish specials every Friday, prepared with fresh fish flown in daily as always.
No wonder Scalzo was featured in Gourmet magazine!
Make memories at Ciao Bella
Ciao Bella is also a great place to gather for graduations, rehearsal dinners and other special occasions. “You and your friends and family can come here and enjoy a wonderful meal in a beautiful atmosphere.”
Experience great pairings of food and wine with a truly superb wine list. Last year Wine Spectator magazine honored Ciao Bella with an Award of Excellence for one of the best wine lists in the world. Each Wednesday Scalzo offers a budget-friendly half off all wines $40 and over.
Ciao Bella is an elegant yet cozy atmosphere, for everything from an intimate dinner for two to a banquet for 100.
Sports events in the bar area are congenial and exciting, with four large-screen TVs. For Scalzo, every detail is important, from the newly expanded bar area to its 450-year-old doors custom-made in Ireland. And every occasion is made memorable with Ciao Bella’s professional and friendly waitstaff.
The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) serves Lake, Porter and LaPorte Counties in Northwest Indiana as a council of local governments that provides a forum for Northwest Indiana’s elected officials to address regional issues relating to transportation, the environment, and community and economic development. Here are four areas of focus where NIRPC had made recent advancement for the region.
2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan
The 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan is a Vision Plan that was developed as a comprehensive, citizen-based regional vision that will guide the development of land use, economic development, the environment, urban reinvestment, and transportation programming. Two years of discussions on the opportunities and challenges in Northwest Indiana contributed to the 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan, which was adopted in June of 2011. The 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan received the Daniel Burnham Award from the American Planning Association as the best comprehensive plan from across the country.
Creating Livable Centers Program
The purpose of the Creating Livable Centers Program is to support community-based transportation and land use projects that bring vitality to downtown areas, neighborhoods, station areas, commercial cores, and transit corridors. It funds development and redevelopment projects in the places where we already live and work to create a better range of working, housing and travel choices. “This program helps to make our communities more walkable, vibrant, and destination-oriented,” says Ty Warner, Executive Director for NIRPC. “It allocates a portion of our available transportation funding to downtown planning for our communities, since increasing livability and walkability in our downtowns reduces the draw on our regional transportation system.”
South Shore Rail Extension
In December 2013, NIRPC passed a resolution to endorse increased investment in commuter rail connecting the Chicago market to Northwest Indiana in general and the development of the West Lake Corridor expansion. The West Lake Corridor is a proposed extension of NICTD’s South Shore Line commuter service south from its current route. “NIRPC has a long history of supporting the expansion commuter rail in Northwest Indiana,” says Warner. “NIRPC feels the extension also furthers other goals of the 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan. When ‘livable centers’ lie along transit routes, then the ‘livability’ of these downtowns is even better since they become opportunities for Transit-Oriented Development, which will also have a direct connection to the jobs in Chicago. This opens up an entirely new housing market for northwestern Indiana that is attractive to younger buyers,” he says.
Regional Trail Development
As a result of the combined efforts of regional groups and municipalities in conjunction with NIRPC, Northwest Indiana has seen the development of over 130 miles of paved trails throughout the region and Northwest Indiana is becoming known as a premier destination for trails. In addition to trails for running, hiking, and biking, the region has also designated significant water trails which provide exceptional opportunities for kayaking and canoeing.
NIRPC’s Greenways/Blueways Plan maps for real-time use are available in the NIRPC office.
Tucked into the shadow of Indiana Dunes yet a mere 45 minutes away from Chicago, Chesterton combines the hospitality and serenity of small town living with the economic viability and cultural opportunities of a world-class city. It’s not hard to see why Chesterton continues to gain international attention as one of the best places in North America to live, work and play.
Town Manager Bernie Doyle says that the town has engaged in years of smart growth to offer residents and visitors a vibrant downtown with the bustling European Market, restaurants, and specialty shops that are second to none. One initiative that town officials enacted to help attract dining to the town is the Riverfront District liquor licensing program which allowed more liquor licenses to be issued to fine dining restaurants. “The benefit of this initiative continues with the most recent recipient being Lemon Tree, a Mediterranean style restaurant,” says Doyle. Other excellent dining establishments include Taste of India, formerly known as Taj; Octave Grill, Villa Nova Pizza, Lucrezia Café, Val’s Grinders & Pizza, Sage, and plenty of other delectable dining attractions. Doyle says, “Excellent dining options are consistent with our vision of making Chesterton a unique destination. We wanted to provide family dining as well as fine dining options with wine, beer, and cocktail choices.”
Chesterton’s downtown is perhaps most well known for their European Market. “It’s our crown jewel,” Doyle says. This outdoor market is vibrant with live music, fresh produce, imported spices, original artwork, home decor, jewelry, flowers, fresh baked bread, and great foods. Chesterton’s European Market runs every Saturday from the beginning of May through the end of October in historic downtown Chesterton from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Broadway and Third Street, next to Thomas Centennial Park.
Downtown Chesterton is also packed with exceptional bed and breakfasts, like Riley’s Railhouse, and shopping. O’Gara & Wilson Antiquarian Booksellers., which was established in 1882 in Chicago’s Hyde Park, returns to Chesterton having recently closed their Chicago location and begin the next chapter of their business. “You don’t see a bookstore like this very often—a place that buys and sells books,” Doyle says. Other special shops in Chesterton include Stephanie Swanson Jewelry Design which offers one of a kind jewelry made with a professional jeweler’s precision, but from an artist’s perspective. The Flower Cart is much more than just flowers, although floral designs are award-winning. This store boasts two floors of home décor, jewelry, clothing, accessories, and more. And Chelle’s is a boutique that promote artisan made products and manufacturers that place less of a demand on our earth. Doyle says, “The downtown is growing, it is vibrant, and Chesterton is a destination. We are rebuilding one business at a time, understanding that even in today’s e-commerce world, you just can’t find events, restaurants, and shops like these anywhere else.”
Since 1953, Welch’s Stop and Shop has offered customers the finest quality meats, prepared dishes, side dishes, groceries, produce, and fresh baked bread. Ed Welch, owner of Welch’s Stop and Shop along with his mother, Jeanette, says that the region has come to depend on the quality of food at their store and that they have added many new items to their offerings to meet the needs and requests of customers. “We’re continuously changing,” says Welch. “We’ve added some new things to the menu.”
One of the new things on the menu is a completely new concept that Welch says they have added due to the demand of their customers—Open Flame Grill Catering. “We have two guys and grill that we send out to a party. We let the people mingle and we do the grilling. We take the stress out of your party so you can just enjoy it. People have been begging us for years to do this so we decided to start and we’re taking orders now,” says Welch.
Fresh off our grill to your guests include all of Welch’s Stop and Shop’s popular sandwiches and sides including Welch’s famous rib-eye steak sandwiches, hot dogs, brats, hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, Welch’s pulled pork, Welch’s pork chop sandwiches, and BBQ ribs, plus Welch’s famous BBQ smoked beans, potato salad, pasta salad, coleslaw, cut watermelon in season, and assorted individual bags of chips. They also provide all the paper goods so parties are worry free. Condiments are included too--sliced and diced tomatoes and onions, grilled onions, relish, ketchup, mustard and assorted cheese. “We also offer our family-style catering with selections like our Italian bee and mostaccioli,” says Welch.
Don’t forget to supplement the catering package with Welch’s huge selection of trays. There are trays for nibbling and entertaining, like cheese and meat trays or vegetable trays. And there are plenty of combo trays so you can make your own custom selection for guest with a variety of fresh meats for every occasion. They also offer a dozen different flavors of beef jerky and beef sticks.
Great food and great service is what Welch’s Stop and Shop brings to Open Flame Grill Catering. “We’ve been a foundation in the region because we provide the best product with the best service. I really think our service is the best around and people see that,” he says. Customer service means fast, friendly, smiling staff, says Welch. “My staff enjoys the interaction with people. They’re fast and they’re good at what they do,” he says.
Hartsfield Village in Munster is a Continuing Care Retirement Community that celebrates the full continuum of life and promotes successful aging. But more than a typical senior-living community, Hartsfield Village provides residents and their families a seamless transition and the peace of mind knowing that Assisted Living, Memory Support, and Skilled Nursing are available on their beautiful campus, if additional care becomes necessary. Services and amenities are tailored to meet the requirements and abilities of each resident so that they can experience what we mean when they say their residents truly are Living Well, Living Wise.
The opportunity to maintain independence to the highest level possible is supported by Hartsfield's Assisted Living and Memory Support Residence. Licensed by the State of Indiana as a Residential Care Community, Hartsfield has earned the distinction of being deficiency free in an annual survey conducted by the state. “In addition to the perfect survey for 2014, the state surveyors remarked that the residents at Hartsfield Village seemed happy and content in their assisted living homes, and we are very proud of that,” commented Suzanne Gillette, administrator of residential care.
The Assisted Living at Hartsfield Village is ideal for people who want to maintain their independence, but can benefit from assistance with some of life’s everyday tasks. Assisted Living provides all three meals, weekly housekeeping and linen services, scheduled transportation, and a wide variety of wellness and recreational activities.
Nurses and care professionals are on staff around the clock to provide customized healthcare services tailored to meet each resident’s individual needs. A variety of studio, one bedroom and two bedroom apartments are available.
The Memory Support at Hartsfield Village offers a welcoming environment that promotes cognitive abilities to the greatest extent possible. Nursing and activity staff monitor residents to provide specialized programming that eases the strain of dementia on both the resident and their family. Residents have private suites in a secured neighborhood with round-the-clock nursing assistance lovingly provided by dementia care professionals.
Sponsored by Community Healthcare System, Hartsfield Village has a long reputation of quality care and has been voted The Best of the Region 2013 by The Times of Northwest Indiana readers. The high quality and attention to detail makes Hartsfield Village an outstanding value in retirement living. With the new pricing structure, the value has never been greater.
“Transitioning a loved one can be a stressful time. We are trying to ease the burden on families by minimizing the financial strain,” says Tim Nix, executive director. Beautiful Assisted Living apartments do not require an entrance fee and are available for as low as $3,100 per month. The Assisted Living and Memory Support Residence at Hartsfield Village provides residents and families the care options they need at the greatest value to truly help them Live Well, Live Wise.
TLC Remodeling, Inc. owner Terry Cheek has always appreciated the idea of hard work and helping his fellow man. It’s a philosophy he has based his life on, and something he says will serve as the cornerstone of his business.
“It comes down to the quality of the work you can provide and how you can do that work with both honesty and integrity,” explains Cheek, a graduate of Hammond Tech High School. “There is no price on the trust a customer puts in you and your work. When you are able to take the time to build relationships with your customers, and you can walk into their home and treat it like it’s your very own, that’s when a business succeeds.”
Cheek has witnessed the lackluster work of other area contractors; it’s what led him to establish TLC Remodeling about 4 years ago. Customer response has been so great that he looks forward to expanding it in the spring, with a brand new showroom and a redesigned logo. It’s a natural extension of the business, as Cheek offers remodeling services, too.
Remodeling with confidence
“We realize not everyone is buying a new home,” says Cheek. “Lots of people want to keep the home they have, and remodel it to better fit their lifestyle. And others simply want their home to match their dream of how they’ve always wanted it to be.”
For such an important and personal project, customers look to TLC Remodeling, confident in the business’s professional expertise and work ethic.
TLC Remodeling also offers electrical services. Whether the need is for upgrading your electric service or installing ceiling fans or just a new outlet, TLC Remodeling can help! That’s because even as the business continues to grow, Cheek will not dismiss any job, no matter how small. "If an elderly woman needs her kitchen cabinet fixed, we will be there to help," he says. "We want to be the company they not only call, but the company they conduct business with."
One of the company’s many assets is its skilled group of craftsmen who go out into the community every day, building on the positive reputation of TLC Remodeling. “One of our skilled carpenters is from our church. He had been without a job for awhile because his previous employer down-sized due to the economy.” recalls Cheek. “I knew the quality of his work was amazing, and I knew this was someone that should not be out of a job. I loved being able to offer him a chance at a career with TLC Remodeling.”
Most of all, Cheek looks forward to continuing to serve the community he has loved since he was just a youngster, working alongside his father and brothers. “From the beginning, I have known that the only way to succeed in this industry is to never cut corners,” concludes Cheek. “We are here to take care of our customers and help get their lives back together again.” No wonder TLC Plumbing, Inc., was named “Best of the Region” in 2013.
Doelling Decorating Center proudly continues to serve the community for many decades. They offer Pratt & Lambert paints and stains, ML Campbell lacquers and finishes, Old Master stains, window treatments, blinds, draperies, real wood and hybrid interior shutters, expert installation, an array of fabric choices, and above all, service. Doelling’s success includes focused customer service paired with selling cutting edge, quality products at affordable prices.
Making certain all projects are successful from beginning to completion is only one of Doelling’s many attributes. Other extraordinary offerings Doelling provides include accurate paint color selection and placement, state-of-the-art window treatment for specialty windows, perfect wallpaper selection, in-home and in-store consultations for paint, and customized design work for interior and exterior decorating are staple services.
Malissa Doelling-Happer, operations manager for Doelling Decorating Center says, “Our staff members share a multitude of talents and knowledge with our customers. Examples would be the accuracy of paint color in a room, the best window treatment for that specialty window, where to use that wallpaper selection, and to make sure the project goes well from the beginning of the process to completion. We provide in-home and in-store consultations for paint, window treatments, and customized design work for interior and exterior decorating.”
Built on a foundation of customer service, expertise, and loyalty, Doelling Decorating Center champions the same tradition today. “What sets us apart from other businesses is not only our superior customer service, but the fact that we make partnerships for life, not just for the day. Part of this level of expertise comes from knowing our products, the correct applications, and preparations for an ultimate positive end result. We have been blessed with strong partnerships with many coatings specialists (painters) and designers that share the same integrity and principles that we do, and in turn we give them our color expertise, knowledge, and service to ensure their clients’ total satisfaction. All of our staff is professionally trained and licensed to answer questions and ensure a perfect solution for your home, office, or industry, “Doelling-Happer says.
Doelling Decorating Center strives to be consumers’ first, last, and only stop for decorating needs and advice.
The Theatre at the Center is proud to offer four Chicagoland premiers this 2014 show season as well as one world premiere. The excitement begins February 20th through March 30th with the Chicagoland premiere of Ring of Fire. From the iconic songbook of Johnny Cash comes this unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and home and family. More than two dozen classic hits including “I Walk the Line,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and the title tune are performed by a multi-talented cast who paint a musical portrait of The Man in Black that promises to be a footstompin', crowd-pleasin' salute to a uniquely American legend!
Next up is the Chicagoland premiere of Miracle on South Division Street which runs from May 1st through June 1st. From the author of Over the Tavern, this warm and funny comedy introduces the Nowaks of Buffalo, NY. Clara and her three grown children have kept a shrine since the day in 1942 when the Blessed Mother appeared to Grandpa in his barbershop! As Clara waits for the Pope to give “the miracle” his seal of approval, daughter Ruth unveils her plan to star in a one-woman show so the “whole world will know!” Expect the unexpected as long buried family secrets are revealed.
July 10th through August 10th, the world premiere of The Beverly Hillbillies the Musical kicks off as Granny, Jed, Jethro, Elly May, Mr. Drysdale and Jane Hathaway—all your favorites from the beloved 60's TV comedy—are back, and this time they're singin'! When oil is discovered on Jed Clampett's Ozark land, he becomes an overnight millionaire and the whole clan moves to Beverly Hills. See this uproarious world premiere musical before anyone else. Who knows? What starts in Munster could just end up on Broadway!
The Chicagoland premiere Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown runs from September 11th through October 19th. Set in a madcap Madrid, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown is based on Pedro Almodóvar's film of the same name. Lane and Yazbek, the team behind Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, took Almodóvar's tale and infused it with their own wry, comic style and an irresistible Spanish beat. Both touching and hilarious, it’s a story about women and the men who pursue them with songs that will make you laugh aloud while igniting your sense of romance.
Finally, from November 13th through December 14th, the Chicagoland premiere A Christmas Memory hits the stage, based on Truman Capote’s touching memoir of his childhood. This new musical is set in a small southern town in the 1930's and chronicles a young boy's friendship with his eccentric relatives, including his cousin and best friend, Sook. The misfits are inseparable as they launch kites, haunt speakeasies, and mail fruitcakes to everyone from Jean Harlow to President Roosevelt. It's a festive tale whose songs celebrate the simple pleasures of country life, friendship and the joy of giving during the Christmas season.
You probably know by now that Meyer’s Heating and Cooling has been bringing Northwest Indiana residents an attention to detail, product knowledge, and salesmanship that is unparalleled in the region since 1951. They are built upon a tradition of quality products and services, and the complete dedication to customer satisfaction. But Co-Owners Joe Yothment and Paul Starchvich take that dedication to the region one step further by helping homeowners to maintain their equipment so easily and thoughtlessly that it practically happens on its own.
Yothment explains the new VIP program that not only maintains furnaces and condensers, but saves homeowners money on these and other services. He says, “You don’t think about scheduling maintenance on anything in your home until it breaks, which is typically right before you go on vacation or right in the middle of a snowstorm. No one remembers to maintain their furnace or condenser, so we offer our VIP program to prevent these disruptions in your life. Our program is absolutely free to our existing customers.”
Sign up for the VIP program is free and the checkup is $89.95, so it is never a worry. “We pre-schedule maintenance every spring and every fall to check, clean, and update the equipment with an 18-point check list so our customers are ready to go and we can prevent those terrible problems.” Plus, if you sign up for the VIP program, any service or repairs that need to be made come at a 15 percent discount with no overtime charges. Further, Meyers Heating/Cooling/Plumbing/Electrical is also a plumbing and electrical contractor. “So by committing to our VIP program,” says Yothment, “we also will offer a 15 percent discount on electrical and plumbing service calls with no overtime charges.”
Why does Yothment believe that this is an important program for regional residents to take advantage of? “We want people to realize that they should have their equipment maintained so it’s taken care of before it’s broken. Anyone who has been stuck with broken equipment in the heat of summer or the cold of winter can tell you how important it is, and it’s just something we forget to do. You don’t have to remember with the VIP program. It’s taken care of for you. We unfolded it last year and will continue to encourage people to sign up because we realize how important it is to make sure everything is clean and ready to go when you need it,” Yothment says.
Nick Shaw, owner of Lawn Doctor, has heard from many of his customers this winter who are concerned about weather damage. After an especially brutal winter with lots of snow and cold temperatures, there are some things that homeowners can do to help mitigate the effects of below-zero temperatures and excessive moisture.
“In general, our lawns are used to the extreme weather conditions and for the most part will be completely fine,” he explains. “However, there are some things that we want you to be aware of and reach out to your lawn care provider if you have concerns. Typically homeowners worry about areas where there has been plowing. Chances are that at least part of your yard has a huge pile of snow on it from the plows that have been busy keeping us all safe on the roads. These piles are a mixture of snow, ice, salt, and probably some rocks from the road asphalt.”
Shaw advises that you wait to rake the rocks out of the lawn. “After the first thaw, your grass will still be very weak and raking and removing rocks could do more damage at this point,” he says that it would be much better to wait until the grass is “fully greened up” and recovered from the winter before you begin cleaning the lawn up.
The other issue to keep top of mind, Shaw says, is salt. “Excessive salt can cause damage to lawns along parkways and right by the street,” he says. “Evaluate this in the spring and perform a soil test if you feel it necessary. For your own sidewalks and driveway try using a salt alternative like calcium chloride or potassium chloride. These products are less harmful for your lawn and landscape plantings.”
Shaw also recommends that you watch out where vehicles and other heavy equipment are left for long periods of time.” Do not park cars or other heavy things in the lawn on top of the snow, even a small vehicle like a lawn mower can cause damage,” he explains. “As we start the freeze - thaw cycle, any heavy items and all that snow on top of the lawn will compact the soil, putting more unnecessary stress on the grass. This compaction may be remediated with a spring core aeration, but it is possible for some areas of turf to die from the compaction stress.”
Spring brings out the critters as the snow and ice recede, Shaw reminds his customers. “Deer, rabbits, squirrels, voles and moles can really make a mess of our lawns and landscaping,” hesays. “The deer near our home, hungry from the long winter, have been looking at the tasty shrubbery in the neighborhood. Snow on top of the lawns has covered over moles’ feeding trails through the thatched layers of lawns. Moles, always protected by the dirt above them, have had little concern about predators with the extra thick snow cover and the squirrels just never seem to stop digging around looking for buried nuts. The larger pests may require professional involvement and you should not hesitate to call pest control or landscape management as soon as you become aware of a problem.”
Shaw’s final words of wisdom for Spring: “Our lawns and landscape plantings are stronger than we usually give them credit for so with a little luck, warm spring weather, and some preparation we should soon be back out enjoying our lawns and smelling the flowers."
Over the last decade, St. John, Indiana has experienced rapid population growth. Located just outside Chicago, it’s become an oasis for urban professionals and their families desiring a small town environment with all the conveniences of a major urban center. People come to St. John and stay in St. John. St. John’s ever-increasing population has brought major investments in infrastructure and expanding sustainable development within the town. All of this growth and investment make St. John an ideal location for expanding commercial and retail operations.
St. John is a Great Place to Live
No stranger to the spotlight, St. John was recently featured in Businessweek’s “Best Places to Raise Kids 2013.” Judged by diverse criteria, though heavily influenced by public school systems, safety and the local job market, St. John was deemed the Best Place to Raise Kids in the State of Indiana and ranked 15th nationwide. In 2009 CNN ranked St. John number 48th among the 100 best places to live in the U.S. Since 2000, St. John’s job growth rate exceeded CNN’s best places to live average by at least 15%.
St. John is a Great Place to Do Business
Over the past decade, St. John has strived to create a family-friendly community with carefully-controlled plans to expand the town’s infrastructure, zoning and services. This has kept St. John an ideal place to live as evidenced by continuing population growth and, of course, economic growth. The town is home to a growing number of local businesses and commercial chains on its US 41 Commercial Corridor and Frontage Road Retail Area. Most recently, several major retail chains have purchased land to take advantage of St. John’s growth and growth-friendly policies. The St. John business community is alive with activity. Boasting 14 financial institutions, St. John proves that growth and prosperity are here to stay.
St. John Offers Abundant Amenities
St. John is home to a variety of local medical professionals, specialists, physicians and dentists and has a new Community Hospital Outpatient Centre. In addition to local medical services, St. John is located near several major hospital systems. St. John maintains its own police, fire, and emergency services which are constantly being upgraded to accommodate the town’s growth.
St. John’s two major school districts, Lake Central and Hanover, have excellent public schools that outperform Indiana averages in terms of test scores and graduation rates. St. John also has more than 20 public parks offering sports facilities, picnic facilities, fishing, hiking, skating, cross-country skiing, sledding and a large network of bike and pedestrian trails.
St. John is Growing
St. John currently comprises 8,622 acres and is prepared to grow by an additional 7,000 acres in the coming years with two phases of annexation planned. Current growth trends predict that the town will annex over 4,000 additional acres by 2045. Due to this anticipated growth, St. John is planning a second phase of annexation that will bring the total land area to 15,954 acres. A projected 200% increase in size and the population will mean more businesses, more residents, and more improvements to infrastructure. St. John is growing quickly and orderly.
When Donna Brum was just three years old, her mother, Helen Trigg, had a dream for her. “She wanted me to be another Shirley Temple,” says Brum. Part of this dream came from her mother’s own passion in life that she hoped her daughter would share. “As a child, my mother always wanted to dance but never got the chance—she had me. But when I was little she signed me up for dance class and took me every week on the bus. I loved it. Dance has always been a part of my life, and something I have loved sharing,” says Brum who made dance her life-long mission to involve others.
Opening her first dance studio in Lansing, Illinois in 1969, Brum’s legacy has lived on within her long list of students, who have appeared everywhere from the field of the Orange Bowl to the deck of the Disney Cruise Line. Many of Brum’s students have returned home to teach for the studio where they once learned which is today located in Schererville. “Now that almost all of my staff are previous students I have trained since they were children, it really feels as if everything has come full circle,” she says.
The Donna Brum Dancers studio offers classes in ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, funk tap, hip-hop, lyrical and modern, pom and cheer, performance and competition, and tumbling for students ages three and up. The whole family gets involved in the fun. Brum says, “Every year we have dads who dance in our performance with their children and we had 30 dads who were featured in our last performance! We also offer a class for our dancing moms who are parents of students. It’s a family environment here and we bring it together at our show.”
Brum and her business partner, Tracie Keene, who has been a member of the studio since she was three years old, offer classes in their new 4,000 square foot studio which actually features two dance studios equipped with Marley flooring. This special floor is suspended on springs which are easier on the dancers’ knees and feet. The studio also features spacious waiting areas where friends and family can watch their loved ones via special TV monitors.
As active participants in competitive dance, the Donna Brum Dance studio is also known for their award winning tap, ballet, hip hop and jazz teams who have enjoyed great success in dance contests across the country. And while Brum and her students say they enjoy the accolades, they realize dance means much more than awards and ribbons.
“When children take dance, they not only get great exercise, but their socialization skills improve,” says Brum, whose students come from all across the Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland area. “They are able to relate to people better, especially with their peers at school. I can’t tell you how many children I have seen change before my eyes, simply because of the confidence they find within themselves through dance.”
For 27 years family owned and operated Illiana Heating & Air Conditioning has taken great pride in providing quality workmanship and superior service with professional, dependable and knowledgeable technicians for your complete heating, air conditioning and indoor air quality products and systems.
Established in 1987, Tom Krygsheld founded Illiana, running it out of his Lansing home. As the business grew, Krygsheld moved to various locations within the Lansing area, his son-in-law Illiana General Manager Kevin Frump says. Eight years ago, Illiana moved to its current Cedar Lake property at 11407 Wicker Ave., constructing a brand new building last year.
“Along with that we have grown with service trucks and employees,” Frump says. “Tom’s son Dan came into the business after high school and is now our sales manager.”
Frump says the company’s growth has been spurred by its quality workmanship and great customer service.
“It is really a family environment here,” Frump says. “We try to treat our customers like we want our family to be treated and we treat our employees like family as well.”
“Illiana is a Christian-based business. In the business environment, we take that to mean providing integrity, honesty and quality,” Frump says.
Illiana provides 24-hour emergency service and can be reached at (219) 365-0006. Customers are greeted by a company employee during normal business hours and an answering service employee after hours.
“A tech will call you back and talk to you about what is going on. We try to share your urgency, handling an emergency-type situation right away, especially in the cold weather we’ve been having.”
Illiana offers more than “just warming up and chilling off air,” Frump says. Illiana can help improve a home’s indoor air quality, “which is a big thing that affects a lot of people and they might not even know about it.”
“Part of that is duct cleaning, part of that is air filtration and purification,” He says. “We also offer blown-in insulation, which is certainly the energy efficiency side of the story. We offer indoor air quality testing which is something a lot of people don’t even realize exists.”
To measure air quality, Illiana places a monitor in customers’ homes for at least three days.
“It will actually be checking the levels of pollen and dust, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, as well as Chemical VOCs and pollutants. It will monitor all those things and from that we can make recommendations to improve people’s indoor environment. People worry about the pollution outside but they don’t recognize how much pollution there is within their own home.”
Frump says people don’t realize that they have options and don’t realize their houses are making them not feel as good as they should.
Illiana’s services can help improve the efficiency of their customers’ heating and air conditioning systems.
“We offer energy efficiency upgrades, for example the standard blower motor can be retrofitted for comfort as well,” Frump says. “Some newer home builders will put in the least expensive furnace that they can to meet code. Often it is one of the higher efficiency furnaces so people aren’t looking to replace it.”
Illiana has been named the Best in the Region in its category by Times readers for two consecutive years.
“It is important for the public to know that we are a trustworthy and reliable company,” Frump says, “And that our employees are the best in the business, our professional technicians as well as our customer service staff. We want to make sure that people get the best investment they can and have comfortable homes to live in and get a great value for their dollar.”
Illiana installs the very best heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and indoor air quality products available; providing customers with the utmost in energy savings, comfort, protection and preservation of their home and their belongings says Dan Krygsheld, Illiana’s Sales manager.
Illiana offers attractive financing options to help customers secure the home comfort system they need.
Griffith, Indiana, is looking to the future, with many plans to continue its business growth and improve the quality of life for its residents.
Plans and fresh ideas are being brought to reality with energy and resolve, through the efforts of the Griffith Chamber of Commerce, the Imagine Griffith Project — formed to carry on the work begun at the Griffith/Ball State Workshop — and the Griffith Town Council. The vision is of a vital, growing community with new businesses, activities, and amenities.
A major renovation is planned for Main Street from Lafayette Street to the bike path. New curbs, sidewalks with paving bricks, and decorative street lights will soon create a welcoming extended downtown environment for residents, businesses, and visitors. Griffith Town Council President Rick Ryfa explained, “The objective is to mirror the work done in the Downtown district on Broad Street, creating a very appealing streetscape to attract new business as a parallel to the Downtown Business district .extension.” Work on this exciting development is expected to start this spring. A natural addition to that project is developing plans for a more comprehensive street resurfacing program that will repave many of Griffith’s neighborhood streets now and in future years.
There’s much anticipation for a Griffith Neighborhood Improvement Program designed to encourage residents to improve their properties, by reducing obstacles and modifying permit fees. The Griffith Town Council will be working closely with the town’s Redevelopment and Economic Development Commissions to expand upon previous facade programs and revitalization efforts.
With the safety and security of residents and business always a priority, the Griffith Town Council will support the efforts of the Griffith Police Department as it continues to implement the innovative crime-fighting tactics that resulted in reducing violent crimes in Griffith by 36 percent compared to the previous year.
Griffith has at least 15 community and civic organizations helping to make this town a close-knit community that participates in and supports diverse activities in sports, history, and the arts. There are sports teams for youth, veterans’ organizations, and a Historical Society, among others. The Franklin Center is a focal point of Downtown Griffith. On the main floor, the YMCA offers everything from Zumba classes to a licensed day care. “There’s lot going on there, and the programs are constantly evolving to meet the needs of the members,” said George Jerome, Griffith’s clerk-treasurer. The Center is also home to a large model train layout and train club, the South Shore Dance Academy, and more — all self-sustaining, with no tax-dollar support.
Along with supporting economic development, "Our chamber of commerce really interacts with the community, hosting five community events a year. We're especially proud of our annual scholarship to a high school senior," said the chamber’s Carl Zurbriggen.
Central Park is busy, providing a pleasing, natural venue for events that include local artists’ exhibits, and concerts performed by the Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra. Starting in May and continuing every Friday into October, Central Market returns to Central Park after a very successful debut last year, with a wide variety of food and specialty items, a craft beer garden, and weekly live entertainment.
Be sure to mark your calendars this year for Griffith’s 6th Annual Rock ‘N’ Rail Street Festival. This year, with another day added, the festival will run Thursday through Sunday over Labor Day weekend, featuring non-stop live music, dozens of food vendors and a giant family beer garden.
Come grow with Griffith!
What makes a customer confident that a business is reliable, providing excellent customer service and top-quality appliances? A family-owned business just naturally captures consumer confidence, especially when the family has been in the business for years.
Blink Appliance & Kitchens specializes in high-quality, built-in, and professional appliances that will last for years, as well as cabinetry and counter tops. Product lines include Whirlpool, Maytag, Kitchenaid, Wolf, and many more.
Allison (Blink) Jabaay explains with pride the family business: “My grandpa, Duane Blink, is still the owner. My dad, Doug Blink, heads up the appliance department. My uncle, Brian Blink, runs the cabinet department. I work in the appliance department with my dad and do the bookkeeping, and my brother, Zachary Blink, does deliveries for us.”
The Blink family’s nearly 50 years in the business began when Duane Blink went into retail in Chicago in the ’50s, selling furniture, then TVs and stereos -- “big ticket items in the ‘50s,” says Allison. When a foot injury made him ineligible for the military draft, he joined forces with a furniture store in Dolton, Ill., then opened his own appliance store on Torrence Avenue and attended service school for Whirlpool.
The big move was to a property in South Holland, Ill., with a house -- where he still lives -- and a barn he turned into a new store.
Each year, for five years, he paid one-fifth the cost of the building by collecting and recycling scrap and pop cans all year. Even as kids, Duane’s sons, Doug and Brian, began going on deliveries with their dad; later, Doug worked in sales and deliveries and Brian took on cabinetry sales.
Allison recalls, “When we were little, my mom would take my brothers and sister and me to Blink’s to visit my dad, and our long-time secretary always gave us M&M's.”
“When I was in grade school, I went there after school, doing office tasks to earn a little spending money.”
By 2000, the business outgrew the barn, so the Blinks bought an old door store at 2717 Glenwood Lansing Road in Lynwood, Ill. “And that’s where we still are today.”
Serving the south Chicago suburbs and northwest Indiana, Blink’s does it all—sales, service, installation and parts, deliveries—and they do it with family pride.
Langer & Langer provides legal services for Personal Injury and Wrongful Death, including Medical Malpractice cases for surgical, hospital, and birth-related injuries, Car and Semi-Truck Crashes, Nursing Home cases, and Complex Litigation. Other areas of practice include Family, Criminal, Real Estate/Landlord Tenant, and Business/Commercial Litigation. With offices in Valparaiso and Indianapolis, Langer & Langer represents clients throughout the State of Indiana.
For over 33 years, Langer & Langer has been an integral part of Valparaiso’s downtown community and actively involved in charitable and community organizations, and events throughout the region. The firm has participated in Valparaiso’s Annual Popcorn Festival multiple years, providing its residents an opportunity to support their favorite local charity through Langer & Langer’s Popcorn Festival charitable donation contest. Their stability and commitment to their home town and their absolute devotion to clients have given the attorneys at Langer & Langer the opportunity to represent thousands of families throughout Indiana.
Steven Langer, and his brother Michael Langer, founded the firm in 1984 and began their practice with a focus on the client that has never wavered. “Ever since I began working as an attorney, I understood what clients really care about is individualized attention and a high level of competency. People want to feel confident they have put what is perhaps one of the most important events in their lives in the right hands, with people who completely know what they are doing, and feel assured that everything will be handled in the best possible manner. We can offer that to our clients. We can provide them with prompt return of phone calls to answer any questions or concerns they have as they go through a stressful time in their lives. We deeply care about the client and the outcome of their case. We take a personal interest in our clients’ matters and treat each case as if it’s our own case.”
No matter what it takes, attorneys at Langer & Langer believe their clients deserve everything they’ve got. They want every client to know their attorneys will provide the legal skills, real-world experience, and dedication needed to fight for their interests and advance their causes.
Langer & Langer attorneys include Steven Langer, Michael Langer, Steven Pribyl, Tara Worthley, Jon Schmoll, and Jonathan Kohlscheen. As a result of their work representing clients with a dedication to their individual cases, Langer & Langer earned a U.S. News & World Report Best Lawyers ranking in 2014 and Steven Langer earned the rank of “Best Lawyers in America in 2014.”
Steven Langer and Jon Schmoll are Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent® rated attorneys and ranked by Thomson Reuters as “SuperLawyers.” Steven R. Pribyl and Tara M. Worthley were named as a “Rising Stars” by SuperLawyers in 2014.
Round the Clock Family Restaurants are family-owned establishments that focus on people, including both their customers and their employees, and they deliver a quality dining experience. They believe that delicious food, an inviting atmosphere, and excellent customer service are what every customer deserves, and that’s exactly what they bring to Northwest Indiana. Their made-from-scratch meals, paired with their hot-out-of-the-oven rolls, homemade soups and freshly baked desserts all come together to create an unforgettable dining experience that’s just like home.
Rinoula Alexiades says that they first opened the Round the Clock location in Schererville in 1977 and all of her family works at their restaurants, in Hammond, Lansing, Schererville, and Highland to bring quality food that is made from scratch daily. “At all of our locations you will get the same quality of family food. For the past 30 years we have focused on our food and on our atmosphere. Families come and you feel like it’s a home away from home. Our kitchen is your kitchen. In every restaurant we have a chef and a baker. The chef makes our daily soups and our daily specials from scratch. Our cheesecakes, pies, and rolls are baked fresh by our baker every single day. We want our food to be fresh and we value our customers who have been coming to our restaurants for almost 40 years,” says Alexiades.
Perhaps this is why Round the Clock Family Restaurants have been voted the Best Family Restaurant by Times of Northwest Indiana readers for 17 years running, including the Best Place for Breakfast 2013 and Best Place for Lunch 2013. The Schererville Round the Clock, which opened in January 1977, offers a warm and inviting European cottage design; the Highland Round the Clock, opened in 1996, has a unique barn design that features a fireplace and lots of cozy booths; and the Hammond and Lansing locations are now open.
Lakeshore Public Media has grown since its inception in the mid-1980s, but the mission has never changed. Today more than ever, Lakeshore Public Media, through television, radio, the web, community outreach and events, is a source for local and national information to connect people and ideas here at home and across the globe.
James A. Muhammad, president and CEO of Lakeshore Public Media says that providing local and national content, for television programming is important to serving the community. “It’s all about being able to provide a service where there is local as well as national content that is relevant to our community. The national programs we select for our station address the needs and concerns of the community we live in, so we select many educational and kids programs, healthy living shows, cooking shows, creative programs on art, quilting, and gardening, and we bring it all together to provide a service that is distinct in our market,” says Muhammad.
One example of this type service: Lakeshore recently aired a special on Public Television, FRONTLINE The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela, which was selected because it’s a national story with regional interest. The dialogue was then continued through an interview on Lakeshore Public Radio, which talked to a local individual who had worked against Apartheid. Muhammad says, “This is an example of what we’re doing across channels. It’s using the circle of what is happening in your local world to provide context for what is happening in the greater world.”
For PBS stations, nationally Lakeshore is one of the top producers of local programming producing hundreds of hours each year. This month Lakeshore launched their new weekly, Lakeshore Reports, with host Kristyn Estes, which delivers accurate, in-depth analysis about the stories that affect the region, from education to environment, politics to the arts and Money $ense a series that will focus on financial wellness provided by experts from Centier Bank. In addition, Lakeshore Focus with host Keith Kirkpatrick addresses important topics for residents of the region and the fascinating lives of his guests. Lakeshore is also the one stop source for local sports coverage with Prep Football Report, PFR Scoreboard and Prep Sports Report with long time hosts, Joe Arredondo and Wayne Svetanoff.
We proudly offer iconic children’s shows like Sesame Street and Curious George plus new programs such as Peg + Cat and Daniel Tiger. For history buffs and collectors we offer highly informative shows like the Ken Burns documentaries, History Detectives, and Antiques Roadshow. For lovers of drama and mystery we offer you the MASTERPIECE Collection which includes Scherlock and Downton Abbey. For those interested in science we bring fascinating programs like Nature and NOVA. Last, but certainly not least, we bring encore presentations of the American classic The Lawrence Welk Show. These are just a few examples of the favorites Lakeshore brings into homes throughout the region.
Local radio coverage, on Lakeshore Public Radio means up-to-the-minute news, traffic and weather coverage during Morning Edition, especially necessary during the recent harsh winter; coverage of important local events are lead by host Steve Walsh with Regionally Speaking and continue with Casual Fridays with Jerry Davich, Your Mind on Money with Oak Partners, The Ad Men and Midwest Beat with Tom Lounges. National programming includes analysis of national topics on the Diane Rehm Show, Here & Now, All Things Considered and Marketplace Money.
LakeshorePublicMedia.org brings all of these programs and more to your finger tips. Not only does the website give viewers the ability to watch and listen to a wide range of local and national programs it is a news source for the region.
Community Outreach, especially hosted by Lakeshore Kids is a leader in bringing fun and educational activities to the region with the opportunity to meet PBS Kids characters such as Daniel Tiger, Super Y and Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Lakeshore Public Media’s events have also addressed the needs of residents in Northwest Indiana and one of the most respected of these efforts is the Lakeshore Professional Women’s Conference, which will take place on September 18th, is in its third year. This event offers high level training and networking through speakers, panel discussions, and seminars addressing all aspects of the business world from a woman’s perspective.
Through television, radio, the web, community outreach and events, Lakeshore Public Media is connecting people, ideas, and information in the region. Residents of Northwest Indiana can rely on Lakeshore Public Media as their source for the important issues in their lives and the people of the world.
At Compton Dental Center the goal of Dr. Eric Compton and his professional staff is helping their patients prevent gum disease, keep their beautiful white smiles and ultimately experience overall better health. All this is accomplished with the latest technological advances and quality care.
With so much focus in society on the benefits of exercise, healthy eating and proper medication, Dr. Compton says he is surprised that people are not more concerned with keeping their gums healthy.
“Recent research shows that people with periodontal disease are at a higher risk of multiple diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, cancer, pre-mature births, Alzheimer's and rheumatoid arthritis,” Dr. Compton says. “Periodontal disease, also known as pyorrhea, is an inflammatory process that allows bacteria to get into your blood stream and create endless problems to the organs that we so dearly rely on to keep us alive and healthy.”
Periodontal disease is preventable and can be stopped.
“Your dentist is your coach and trainer when it comes to helping you understand periodontal disease,” Dr. Compton says. “Your dentist and dental hygienist create an individualized plan to help prevent this silent killer. Solutions range from simply brushing and flossing or using an electric toothbrush and mouthwash to traditional or laser surgery. But, without regular check-ups it may be too late and the disease may have already started taking over, destroying your precious pearly white teeth.”
Dr. Compton recommends patients with healthy gums have check-ups and cleanings every six months but more frequent visits are needed if periodontal disease is present.
“Along with helping patients understand how to have a healthier life through better dentistry, we also provide high quality services that are not found in every dental office,” Dr. Compton says.
To better serve their patients, Compton Dental Center uses the latest technology including the CEREC machine allowing the staff to make a crown in a single visit. Digital x-rays and a CT scanner provide 3D images with better clarity for diagnostic issues and implant placement.
One of the center’s best secrets to patient satisfaction is their hand massage therapist, who, during teeth cleanings, relaxes patients taking their minds off being at the dental office with hands and arms massages including a warm paraffin dip.
“We provide many of our patients the ability to have everything done in the office,” Dr. Compton says. “For example, we provide sedation that allows us to preform extractions and cosmetic makeovers while making your appointment stress free and comfortable. We have the capability to perform many services the same day, including crowns, implants and dentures. With our staff of well-trained dentists we can consult from within and work together to provide a treatment plan that works for you. We love what we do and believe the entire staff reflects it.”
When it comes to pizza, House of Pizza in Hammond has made it their family’s business for six decades to serve the freshest and tastiest pizza in the region. Manager Danny Zunica says that House of Pizza began when his grandfather founded the business in the same location they have today. “My grandpa, Dante Zunica, opened the business in 1954. We are still in the original building and we’ve never moved. The building was originally six different stores and he slowly bought the whole building so we were rather small to begin with—a couple of tables in the front and an oven in the back. Today we have a full bar with a lounge, a family dining area, a room for parties, and the menu has expanded as well,” he says.
Although the business has grown over the years, and menu offerings have expanded to include five different sized pizzas and 20 different toppings to choose from, Italian dinners, ribs, broasted chicken, sandwiches, salads, appetizers, and a substantial selection of beers on tap, what hasn’t changed is the dedication to quality food and a connection to the customer. Zunica says, “The business is still run by my family. My grandma Nancy still comes in twice a week, my mom and I run the business, and my cousin works here. This means we have a better relationship with our customers. We get to meet people and this is our life—it’s what we care about and what we put our heart and all our hard work into. We want to do the best possible job we can so our customers have the best possible experience.”
The food at House of Pizza speaks for itself. “All of our food is made fresh in-house. Customers love the homemade cheesecake which was my great grandma’s recipe, but what we are really known for is our thin-crust pizza. We make our own dough and our own sauce and the sausage was my grandma’s recipe. Another thing that really sets our pizza apart too is that we use the same oven we’ve owned since 1975 and that really affects how the pizza cooks. Many of our older customers or even those in their 30s and 40s who came as a kid, come in and say it’s the same great pizza and a lot of that has to do with how the pizza cooks in our oven,” says Zunica.
Drenth’s Highway Garage is a local family-owned, full-service auto and light truck repair facility that prides itself on top quality dependable service without the dealership pricing. They are a new face on an established business with a focus on expert repair and service that simply can’t be found anywhere else in the region.
Owner Ken Drenth says, “We opened on September 1st last year at what was formerly Leeps Hwy Garage. I came into this business as a mechanic with a background in trucking for 30 years. We have the same staff of experts who know the shop, and in fact, our Service Adviser Bill Kasper has been in this business for over 20 years so you’re talking to someone who can relate to you and your needs and can let you know what is going on with your vehicle.
"We are building this business on the golden rule, to treat people how we want to be treated. We are honest, reliable, and here to earn our customer’s trust,” says Drenth.
Joe Radziejeski, general manager with 32 years of experience in tires and automotive repair, says that the staff at Drenth’s Highway Garage is second to none. “We have a master ASE certified technician on site who is certified through the State of Indiana to repair vehicles that fail emissions tests; another full-time ASE certified technician; and three general tire service technicians who are dedicated to oil changes and servicing tires. Most shops in Northwest Indiana can’t offer that. We also have state-of-the-art equipment to do on-board diagnostics and the most up-to-date equipment to check and set the tire pressure monitoring systems which are on most cars now. We can handle any make or model, foreign or domestic and customers can now go online to shop our new website for tires and look into maintenance items,” Radziejski says.
Drenth’s Highway Garage carries only quality parts that meet or exceed original equipment specifications including brands such as A/C Delco, Motorcraft, Mopar, Denso, NKG, Bendix, and many more. Radziejeski says, “Our line of tires cover a full range, including brands such as General, Continental, B.F. Goodrich, Uniroyal, Goodyear, Kelly, Dunlop, and many more. We believe in carrying a wide selection of tires because people have different tastes, and we want to be their one-stop shop and not have to send them away when they have a warranty issue with their tires, like so many other shops do.”
Repair services include oil change, brakes, battery testing and replacement, tune-ups, computerized engine analysis, flushes, fuel system repair, suspension system, steering system, alignment, electrical system, heating and air conditioning system, belt and hose inspection and replacement, radiator, transmission, welding, alignment, and manufacturer recommended maintenance. They also offer a Drenth’s Highway Garage credit card with specials like six months financing. Drenth's Highway Garage is looking forward to servicing the automotive needs of the families and businesses from the Tri-Town and it's surrounding areas.
Podiatrists Dr. Michael Nirenberg and Dr. Michael Lacey are now using a hi-tech treatment to help alleviate heel pain.
“Heel pain is not normal and you do not have to live with it," Dr. Lacey says. People suffer with pain in their heels for many different reasons, Dr. Nirenberg explains. It could be a heel spur or an irritation of a ligament called plantar fasciitis.
“Sometimes the pain starts with the very first step out of bed,” Dr. Lacey says. The pain is often sharp or stabbing, and it causes people to limp and soon they often end up with other aches and pains.
To help people with heel pain, the doctors use a tiny but powerful camera called an endoscopic camera. Through a small opening that they make at the side of the patient’s heel, they slip the camera inside. The camera quickly alleviates the problem, usually a thickened ligament in the heel.
"The camera makes it easy to alleviate heel pain," Lacey says. "It only takes a few minutes." The doctors also use the hi-tech camera to help alleviate painful arthritis from the foot and ankle. Nirenberg cautions that this hi-tech treatment is not for everyone and does not always work, but when it does, he says it's great to see people walking normally—without a painful limp!
Readers of The Times have voted Drs. Nirenberg and Lacey “Best Podiatrist” four times in a row! The doctors pride themselves on using the latest technology to alleviate heel, foot and ankle pain and problems.
Seattle Sutton is helping people lose weight steadily and sensibly, the kind of healthful eating that sheds pounds and keeps them off.
Losing weight is a reachable goal with Seattle Sutton’s carefully planned, calorie-controlled meals. There’s no more wondering how much you can have and still lose weight—Seattle Sutton has figured it out for you. You become familiar with portion sizes that are right for you, to lose weight and keep it off.
There’s no skimping on flavor and freshness. “People love our amazing food! It’s fresh, not frozen, and with nothing artificial,” says Seattle Sutton’s Amy Moore. And unlike many programs, Seattle Sutton meals include fresh fruits and vegetables.
Different meal plans ensure one is just right for you: a 1,200-calorie, full week of 21 meals; a 2,000-calorie, full week of 21 meals; and a 1,500-calorie, vegetarian 21-meal plan.
You receive your full week meals on Mondays and Thursdays, with pick-up times from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. And you have the option of partial weeks rather than whole weeks. Is convenience important to you? For an additional charge you can have meals delivered right to your door! All you need to furnish is milk and water to drink.
In four months, Diana, in Highland, Ind., has dropped her cholesterol level from 273 to 201. With Seattle Sutton meals that include fresh fruits, salads, vegetables, and proteins, Diana is eating healthy, satisfying meals.
A Crown Point, Ind., man has everyone smiling: Doug has lost 80 pounds in just over a year. “It’s been a great transformation to see Doug as a healthier, happier person,” says Moore.
Boring meals are a thing of the past: Menus change every week for five weeks. “With low-fat, low-cholesterol, and sodium-restricted meals, we help people lose weight, help control their blood sugars, and help keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels down,” says Toni Smith at Seattle Sutton.
A big draw is that there are no contracts to sign. You may come and go on the program as you choose. And the programs are local: Toni Smith is in Highland, and Amy Moore is in Merrillville, Ind., and Valparaiso, Ind.
Seattle Sutton programs work! The shopping, cooking and preparing are done for you.
Smith and Moore have contestants vying for the most weight lost. So far, it’s Michael, who’s lost 29 pounds between Jan. 13 and Feb. 12.
Will you be next?
Why should customers use Higgins Overhead Door for their door needs? Here are just a few reasons:
• They are family owned and operated with over 25 years of experience in the business
• They service all of Northwest Indiana
• Most repairs can be done in less than 48 hours with dedicated service technicians
• Their fully equipped service vehicles can handle any make and model of door
• Higgins Overhead Door provides expert sales, service, and installation of all types of residential sectional doors and operators
• The also offer and install LiftMaster garage door openers with a variety of options
• They are an Angie’s List Super Service Award winner for the past three years
• They have a Better Business Bureau rating of A+
Community HealthNet Health Centers is committed to offering comprehensive healthcare to adults and children. CHN provides a range of acute, chronic and preventative care. In addition to traditional prenatal, pediatric and family medicine services, CHN offers routine check-ups, health and wellness assessments, immunizations, screenings and referral based personalized counseling to individuals of all ages. As a federally qualified health center it is their mission to provide quality and affordable medical services to all individuals in need of health care. CHN has five locations throughout Lake County: Gary (2), Merrillville, Hammond and the school-based clinic in Calumet High School. They employ a staff of licensed and professional physicians who are committed to the health and well-being of their patients.
Since opening its doors in 1998, CHN continues to expand the scope of services that we offer our patients. Partnering with state and local organizations CHN is able to offer more affordable access to preventative health services such as mammograms. These services are made possible through a partnership with the Indiana State Department of Health Breast Cervical Cancer Program (BCCP). Recently CHN opened doors to the first Centering Pregnancy Clinic in Lake County offering a program aimed to improve birth immortality rates and coach mothers through a successful pregnancy. Funded by the March of Dimes, the Centering Pregnancy Clinic is operated by an on-staff certified nurse mid-wife. Just recently CHN partnered with Geminus Corporation to conduct on-site Domestic Violence Prevention trainings helping its medical staff to identify child abuse.
In need of insurance? CHN's got you covered! How about dental services? CHN can brighten your smile. Community HealthNet is partnered with Covering Kids and Families Indiana, a grassroots statewide initiative aimed to enroll individuals, primarily youth in state provided medical plans. As a certified application and enrollment site CHN employs outreach specialists working to educate, enroll and meet the demands of the Affordable Care Act through Marketplace enrollments. At the main site in Gary, CHN is partnered with Kool Smiles to provide dental services to both youth and adults.
In 1960 life expectancy was 70 years. Today life expectancy is 78 years of age and getting higher. People are living longer, and this relates to more people retaining their teeth. Some of these people have ill-fitting partial dentures or complete dentures, while other have teeth that are falling that can’t be saved. All these patients may be great candidates for dental implants which will reconnect them to something they have lost or about to lose (their teeth). Consider these alarming statistics: 240 million people worldwide are missing one, few or all of their teeth.
In the USA:
1. Adults between the ages of 55-64 are missing at least 10 teeth at a rate of 69%
2. 35 million adults are missing all teeth in at least one jaw and 48 million adults are missing all teeth in both jaws.
3. By the age of 74 more than one in four senior citizens have no teeth.
4. 50% of denture wearing sufferers have dentures that don’t even fit.
5. Nearly 50% of denture sufferers are able to eat ONLY soft or mashed foods.
6. 50% of denture sufferers avoid MANY FOODS all together.
7. Indiana is the number 11th edentulous (toothless) state in the US.
For those who feel they are prisoners inside their body with ill-fitting dentures, ill-fitting partials and failing teeth from disease, decay or trauma, many others feel the same. Dr. Irfan Atcha DDS, DICOI at the Center for Implants, Sedation and Cosmetic Dentistry can help with these dental problems.
As a Dipolmate of the International Congress of the Oral Implantologists (highest distinction) and a leader in dental implants, he has the credentials and the experience that has transformed the lives of many of his patients with the miracle of dental implants with the one single tooth implant, a few teeth implants or full jaw/arch of teeth with dental implants. What once took years to accomplish can be accomplished in a day (after initial work up) with Dr. Atcha and his team. He is a leader of the All-on-4 dental implants and new teeth in one day (no bone grafting approach) which has helped hundreds of his patients that are suffering from the conditions mentioned above.
When patients lose their teeth they suffer nutritionally and emotionally as well. “Teeth loss can really lower one’s self confidence and confidence is so important to success in all areas of our lives at home, at work & in social setting,” mentions Dr. Atcha.
“Virtually all of my patients tell me after their care that they’d wish they should have done it sooner,” says Atcha.
Visit youtube.com/drirfanatchadds for patient success stories.
Call Dr. Irfan Atcha TODAY at 219-227-5084 or 888-416-4109 pro a personalized one-on-one consultation. The consultation is complimentary and it's NO RISK. Patients will also receive a 3D scan to assess their candidacy for dental implants.
For many people, a promise made must be a promise that’s kept. This rings especially true for hospice patients and their families at end-of-life, and Hospice of the Calumet Area helps these patients fulfill their promises and reach their goals, despite their serious illnesses.
“At Hospice of the Calumet Area, we cherish life and we want patients to do everything they can do,” says Joanne Persic, a registered nurse for Hospice of the Calumet Area.
“We love our patients to meet their goals and do what they want to do,” she says. “We have some that garden, patients that ride motorcycles, go to the beach. If they are up to it, we want them to do it.”
Furthermore, many people choose to care for their loved ones in the place they cherish most – the comfort of home. Hospice of the Calumet Area makes that possible. Their family centered approach to care includes a team of professionals comprised of doctors, registered nurses, social workers, counselors and trained volunteers. The team works together to provide expert medical care to manage pain and symptoms for the patient as well as compassionate emotional and spiritual support for the patient and family.
Persic knows firsthand being the primary caregiver for a loved one with a serious or life-limiting illness is challenging. However, as many families discover, you don’t have to do it alone.
Susan Porter, whose mother was on Hospice of the Calumet Area’s service, knew how important it was for her mother to be at home with family and promised her that she would be. “They helped me keep my promise because they showed me how to properly care for her [and supported those efforts],” she says. “It made my heart feel good that we could do this for my mother and that she was happy.”
“Having been a hospice nurse for quite a few years, it’s really helped me cherish life,” Persic says. “Everyone should do the things you want to do now because life is short.”
Hospice is about more – more options for care and support, more control over the choices you make, more opportunities to spend meaningful moments together. Contact Hospice of the Calumet Area and let their expert care and support help you and your loved ones.
Oncology nurse and nurse practitioner Lisa Guzman established and opened Blue Skies Hospice in Hammond, Ind., in 2002. Her mission was to provide palliative care and hospice treatment to Northwest Indiana and Chicago suburban patients at their most vulnerable time—after being recently diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Guzman was inspired into action through her experiences with dying patients she treated as an oncology nurse—patients who did not have the comfort, care, and compassion that hospice readily offers the actively dying. “Those patients held a special place in my heart,” she said. “Yet there were so many of them who would have been better treated within a hospice.”
Blue Skies Hospice provides personalized services to improve the quality of life for patients and their families. A qualified and committed staff of nurses, social workers, clergy, and volunteers gives 24-hour care with an emphasis on the patients’ and families’ physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
Rapid and tumultuous changes in American health care policy and governmental regulations have affected, but not ended, the mission of service that guides Lisa Guzman and the entire staff of Blue Skies Hospice.
In 2013, federal government regulations forced the closure of the Blue Skies Hospice House, a high-quality, inpatient facility that often provided care at no cost to local patients.
Medicare regulations state only 20 percent of a hospice’s total patient hours can be for inpatients. When a hospice exceeds that limit, it is required to reimburse Medicare at high cost for the payment the hospice receives. Because of this additional financial burden, Blue Skies was forced to close its doors on Feb 1, 2014. Patients no longer have access to its peaceful facilities.
A new beginning
However, Blue Skies Hospice is moving forward, adjusting to current health care laws so it can continue to serve Northwest Indiana and the Chicago suburbs. On Feb 1, 2014, Blue Skies Hospice relocated to its new office at 649 Mulberry St. in Hammond, providing palliative care and symptom management for terminally ill patients. Blue Skies will still be able provide short-term, inpatient care at contracted facilities. Patients are receiving comfort in a way that protects patients’ dignity and enhances their families’ peace of mind.
Guzman has also recently opened the doors of Blue Skies Medical, a new family practice office specializing in palliative care in Lansing, Ill.
Guzman received the AMVETS National Ladies Auxiliary Humanitarian Award in 2007, for outstanding dedication and years of service to those with terminal illnesses and little or no insurance. She and Blue Skies demonstrate that even when changes in health care law, policy, and cost confuse and frustrate many Americans, qualified and caring people can continue to make a beneficial difference for the lives of many patients and their families.
Patients understand that top-quality health care is essential. But they also know that when travel and extra time are necessary, an appointment or procedure can put a major dent in the calendar. Regularly scheduled checkups for special conditions and health classes for wellness can turn into a burden when they’re not nearby.
Franciscan Alliance Healthcare System recognizes patients’ need for more, easily accessible clinics and board-certified physicians. To answer that need, Franciscan Medical Specialists and Franciscan Hammond Clinic bring the physician to the patients—right in their own community.
Whether the need is for managing a long-term condition like diabetes or rapid care for a sudden illness or injury, Franciscan Medical Specialists and Franciscan Hammond Clinic is bringing more accessible health care to northwest Indiana.
The blossoming gastroenterology department is a great example. Franciscan Hammond Clinic has recently purchased state-of-the-art gastroenterology equipment. This means patients who’ve had to go to Chicago or even Indianapolis to get top-flight care in gastroenterology can now visit Franciscan Hammond Clinic. That’s just one of the ways the organizations are bringing top-rated care to northwest Indiana.
Caring for all patients
Dr. James Cantorna specializes in internal medicine and pediatrics at his office at Franciscan Medical Specialists in Munster. He sees a huge benefit for patients who will have more immediate access to gastroenterology specialty care. “Patients will have access to the newest technologies that used to be only available at university medical centers. Now we can provide those kinds of university-level services within the community.”
Dr. Cantorna said the expanded gastroenterology services demonstrates the organization’s goals of bringing top-rated services to our community. In addition to expanding services, he says another goal is to have a large network of specialty and primary care physicians—including internists and pediatricians—located throughout the communities, available daily for sick and urgent care visits. “With same-day appointments, we can help people avoid the increasingly expensive emergency room visits. It’s much more cost effective to see your doctor in a clinic than it is to see someone in an emergency room.” In the eyes of Franciscan Medical Specialists and Franciscan Hammond Clinic, the focus is all about bringing university-level care and services into the northwest Indiana community.
Wide range of services at Franciscan Medical Specialists
Franciscan Medical Specialists has created patient programs that address health issues facing our community. Some even take into account patients’ personal lifestyle preferences.
For example, diabetics can access the latest development in managing diabetes with a full spectrum of services and monitoring systems. “At Franciscan Medical Specialists, our all-inclusive diabetes treatment center offers a unique and exclusive M3+ program,” says Dr. Alexander Stemer, President of Franciscan Medical Specialists. M3+ is an innovative disease management membership for those recently diagnosed with diabetes or who have difficulty maintaining glycemic control. It does not take the place of the patient's existing medical providers, but offers enhanced care and maximum access to services that help manage diabetes.
In addition to M3+, the organization has recently started a program titled Diabetes in Pregnancy for soon-to-be mothers. This program addresses the unique health concerns of pregnant women with diabetes and women recently diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
Franciscan Medical Specialists can also provide pediatric patients with a board-certified pediatrician who is also a homeopathic doctor. This physician provides homeopathic care for patients who prefer a more natural alternative to traditional pediatric care.
To address the serious issue of lung cancer, there is a lung cancer screening program for current or former smokers, who meet accepted guidelines. This program was developed to help detect lung cancer at an earlier stage when tumors are more effectively treated.
Franciscan Hammond Clinic – Ready to serve day or night
Residents in surrounding communities who need prompt attention for non-life-threatening illness receive quality care at Franciscan Hammond Clinic’s Quick Care Center in St. John, Ind. and at the Urgent Care Center in Munster, Ind., which is open 365 days a year. If patients are experiencing non life-threatening illness or injury, these clinics are a good alternative to emergency rooms. “We pride ourselves on accessibility and the highest quality care,” says Dr. Joselito Navarro, a physician at the Urgent Care Center. “The Urgent Care Center is open 365 days a year and is staffed by at least three certified health care practitioners at any given time.”
Franciscan Hammond Clinic also offers Nurse On-Call, an after-hours service exclusive to Franciscan Hammond Clinic patients. A registered nurse with access to patients’ medical records will work with patients to sort through their symptoms and help them make safe, effective and appropriate healthcare decisions in the evening and during the night.
Prevention and education
The organizations understand that patient education is key to maintaining good health and managing medical conditions, which is why they have created the educational program, Healthy You. Healthy You is a series of free educational seminars that are open to anyone in the community. Healthy You offers an average of three classes each month on a variety of health-related topics, from healthy eating and eye health to diabetes and life-saving skills like CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.
Many physicians, many programs, a wide population of patients cared for: That adds up to more convenience for patients who are valued and treated with individual, attentive care.
Franciscan Alliance, University of Chicago Medicine form partnership
The University of Chicago Medicine and Franciscan Alliance have entered into a master affiliation agreement that creates a novel partnership between a prominent academic medical center and a leading regional health system. The affiliation provides for the joint development and implementation of clinical, research and educational initiatives.
Officials from both institutions emphasized the synergies that will result from the affiliation agreement, which focuses on the University of Chicago Medicine and Franciscan Alliance’s Northwest Indiana facilities including Crown Point, Michigan City, Dyer, Hammond and Munster.
“By combining the world-class tertiary and quaternary care and research capabilities of the University of Chicago Medicine with Franciscan Alliance’s extensive network of community-based hospitals and ambulatory centers, we will enhance patient care locally and provide seamless access and continuity for patients needing care at any level,” said Kevin Leahy, Franciscan Alliance’s president and chief executive officer.
Franciscan Alliance, one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the Midwest, has emerged as a leader in new approaches to payment and care delivery models. In December 2011, it formed the Franciscan Alliance Accountable Care Organization, the first and only federally recognized “Pioneer ACO” in Indiana and among the first in the country to partner with Medicare as an ACO. Headquartered in Mishawaka, Franciscan Alliance provides primary and specialty care services throughout its multi-state hospital system that includes more than 40 ambulatory sites.
The University of Chicago Medicine, an academic medical institution that includes the Pritzker School of Medicine, ranked eighth among medical schools in the country, attracts patients regionally, nationally and internationally for its specialty care services. Its faculty physicians undertake research in an extensive array of areas and are in the top five U.S. medical schools in generating federal research dollars per faculty member.
“This partnership brings together two health care systems that share both a dedication to excellence in patient care and a desire to develop new models of care in a rapidly changing health care marketplace,” said Kenneth S. Polonsky, MD, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago and dean of the Biological Sciences Division and the Pritzker School of Medicine.
No reason to travel elsewhere, Franciscan Alliance provides all-inclusive help for lung cancer treatment
A comprehensive lung cancer treatment program is another reason Franciscan Alliance patients need not travel outside of the area for the best, most timely care.
“From diagnostics to therapeutics to surgery to recovery, our hospitals offer it all. We can do anything a ‘big-city’ hospital can do, with timeliness being a key factor,” said Michael Meska, Franciscan Alliance regional director for respiratory therapy, adding Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City, Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point and Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Dyer and Hammond are accredited, with commendation, by the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer.
The process begins with low-dose, CT Scan screenings, which are recommended for persons aged 55 or older, who are current or former smokers and are done following an initial patient assessment.
Smokers whose screenings are negative are referred to American Cancer Society cessation programs and are monitored.
Those whose results are positive, if the mass is small, enter a watchful-waiting program for six months to a year for assessment, Meska says.
Those whose tumors are larger are candidates for endobronchial ultrasound and electromagnetic navigational bronchoscopy -- minimally invasive technology that allows lung lesions that are located beyond the reach of traditional bronchoscopes to be visualized and accessed.
Using a CT scan, computer software creates a virtual 3-D road map through the deep passages of the lungs. Once a catheter-type tool is inserted into the airway and reaches the tumor, tissue can be harvested for biopsy, tumor changes can be tracked and a marker can be placed to pinpoint the location for subsequent radiation treatment.
“Without it, we would have to use a needle to go into the lung, which has risks; or even do surgery, which has more risks,” says Don H. Dumont, M.D., a pulmonary medicine specialist. “But ENB is an outpatient procedure and the only recovery time needed is due to anesthesia.”
The hospitals also offer radiation therapy, medical oncology, brachytherapy and infusion services, as well as state-of-the-art Linear Accelerators, which allow for minimally invasive treatment and higher radiation doses, usually in two minutes or less.
If surgery is needed, Eias Jweied, Ph.D., M.D., and Chadrick Cross, M.D., perform video-assisted thoracoscopic lobectomy, which is minimally invasive, involves smaller incisions and results in less pain and faster patient recovery times. Average hospital stays are two to three days, compared to seven to 10 days.
“The public needs to know this procedure is available locally, since many people think they have to drive to Chicago to receive it. They don’t need to travel to Chicago; we bring the highest-quality services here, to them,” Dr. Jweied said.
The procedure, which mostly treats stages one and two lung cancers, involves using a small camera that is introduced into the patient through a scope, which allows the physician to view the instruments and the anatomy. The camera and instruments are inserted through ports, which helps to reduce the chances for infection and allows for a faster recovery.
Besides physicians, nurse navigators perform an invaluable role for patients throughout the treatment process, Meska points out.
“They help the patient navigate through all stages; they hold their hands through the process to explain and help them understand what is going on.”
Cancer support groups also are available at the hospitals.
“We have university-academically trained physicians and offer quality, more timely care along the continuum - from diagnosis, to treatment, which every patient deserves – all in our neck of the woods,” Meska says.
Franciscan Alliance hospitals earn Chest Pain Center accreditation, reaccreditation
Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point and Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City recently received Chest Pain Center with Percutaneous Coronary Intervention Accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care, while Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Dyer and Hammond received reaccreditation.
Accredited hospitals have achieved a higher level of expertise in dealing with patients who arrive with heart attack symptoms.
Such hospitals undergo a rigorous, onsite evaluation by review specialists, which assures centers meet or exceed quality-of-care measures in acute cardiac medicine. They must demonstrate expertise in the following areas:
* Integrating the emergency department with the local emergency medical system.
* Assessing, diagnosing and treating patients quickly.
* Effectively treating patients with low risk of acute coronary syndrome and no assignable cause for their symptoms.
* Continually seeking to improve processes and procedures.
* Ensuring the competence and training of personnel.
* Maintaining organizational structure and commitment.
* Having a functional design that promotes optimal patient care.
* Supporting community outreach programs that educate the public to promptly seek medical care if they display heart attack symptoms.
Hospital Chest Pain Center directors praised their staffs and colleagues for the honors.
“This is the culmination of an excellent collaborative process between the hospitals’ physicians, staff and ancillary services to provide the best care possible for patients experiencing acute coronary syndrome,” said Eric Cook, D.O., of Franciscan St. Margaret Health.
Carl Metcalf, M.D., of Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Crown Point, added, “Accreditation is a benefit to Chest Pain Center patients since it assures the kind of quality of care they will receive and puts us on the cutting edge of providing them the best possible treatment.”
Neil Malhotra, M.D., of Franciscan St. Anthony Health Michigan City, called the designation exciting, adding, “I am very impressed with the hard work of the staff. It shows how dedicated we are to providing the best possible care for our patients.”
About the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care
The Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care is an international not-for-profit organization that focuses on transforming cardiovascular care by assisting facilities in their effort to create communities of excellence that bring together quality, cost and patient satisfaction. As the only cross-specialty organization, SCPC provides the support needed for individual hospitals and hospital systems to effectively bridge existing gaps in treatment by providing the tools, education and support necessary to successfully navigate the changing face of healthcare. For more information on SCPC, accreditation and certification opportunities, visit scpcp.org, or call toll free, 1-877-271-4176.
Checking the pulse in a human is easy. Just count the number of beats in 15 seconds, multiply by four, and you have the number of heart beats per minute. Checking the pulse of a region takes much more work.
The Times spent months working on today's 102-page NWI Perspectives special report, beginning the planning process last fall. The result is in your hands today, both in print and at nwi.com.
For today's comprehensive report, we looked in depth at agriculture, arts and culture, business, charities and social services, education, environment, government, health care, law enforcement and criminal justice, religion, tourism and recreation, and transportation.
Here are some highlights from the dozens of stories in this special section:
- Droughts in the United States shrank U.S. herds, so we're eating beef imported from Brazil and Mexico, not just homegrown. Neil Hannon, whose family has farmed in Morgan Township since the Civil War, said it will take about five years to rebuild herds here.
- Valparaiso's V-Line bus service saw 124,195 riders in 2013, a 23.5 increase from 2012. LaPorte County is planning a bus service between Michigan and LaPorte, and Gary Public Transportation Corp. is expanding well beyond the city's borders.
- The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled 2.5 million tons of cargo in 2013, the most since 2006. The port generates $4.3 billion a year in economic activity and supports 33,000 jobs.
- St. John and Crown Point are in the top 15 for housing starts in the entire Chicago area.
- The Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors called 2013 a "great year," with home sales up 19 percent from 2012. Nationally, the increase was 10 percent.
- Residents are gaining online access to court records.
- Ogden Dunes is planning to install elevated walkways with handrails at two of the towns beach access points.
- Local hospitals are planning recruiting efforts to cope with a looming doctor shortage.
- The Affordable Care Act puts more emphasis on keeping people out of hospitals, which opens opportunities for home-based care and transitional care.
Don't feel bad if it takes more than one day to read this massive report. After all, it took several months to bring it all together for you.
It is indeed an exciting time to be a part of Northwest Indiana, a thriving region with great prospects for growth and a promise of a brighter future. People are coming together, working together like never before, and placing the good of the region ahead of more provincial interests, knowing the quality of life will be better for all if we address the most pressing needs, even if they’re not in our neighborhood.
This is evidenced by the decision to build the Illiana Expressway. Though it will be built in the southern half of the region, it was supported by communities across the entire region because we will all benefit from reduced congestion on the northern expressways.
There are many examples of the progress we’re making.
For instance, we've seen educators from throughout the region sign on and support the work of the READY NWI initiative, first established in Hobart, but quickly spreading throughout the region to most school districts, as a means to better prepare our students for the workforce of tomorrow.
Four groups of emerging leaders in Lake and Porter counties came together to form the Emerging Leaders Network under the guidance of the United Way to educate and show support for the expansion of the South Shore Line commuter railroad — and this happens as city and county governments plan to set aside a portion of their economic development income tax to fund the project.
The multimillion dollar investment in Marquette Park, the new home of the Boys & Girls Club in Gary and the expansion of parking at the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk park are signs of the good that is happening across the region.
And the One Region initiative continues its work bringing organizations and interested parties together to form coalitions to tackle the big issues continuing to face the region.
These are but a few examples, and it’s important to recognize the gains we've made. Even so, our work is only just beginning. Today’s residents of the region enjoy the benefits of the work done by those who came before us. We inherited a strong transportation system with rail, highway and harbor infrastructure that are coveted by growing communities around the nation. This system didn't just happen. It was created by people like us who had a vision for what this area could be and who worked hard to create it.
It would be easy to sit back and enjoy what we have, but we owe future generations more than that. Just as our predecessors did, we must develop the vision to make the region an even better place and work together to make that vision a reality.
The coming year will provide us the opportunity to do just that, but what we choose to do will determine what our legacy is.
I believe one day soon, we’ll be able to look back and see 2014 as the year good things started to get much better.
What a great time to be living in Northwest Indiana!