Duneland Today - Fall 2022

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3 CURRENTS Duneland Chamber Community Awards


HANDS 9 HELPING VNA Hospice NWI —Meals on Wheels of Porter Co.

WAVES 11MAKING Duneland Chamber Events PAD 20 LAUNCH Welcoming New Members


ON THE COVER Chesterton High School Basketball's George Vrahoretis


DUNELAND TODAY IS PUBLISHED BY Duneland Chamber of Commerce 220 Broadway • Chesterton, Indiana 46304 www.dunelandchamber.org 219.926.5513 Publisher/ Duneland Chamber of Commerce Contributing Editor/ Heather Augustyn Managing Editor & Graphic Designer/ Elizabeth Kelly, Duneland Chamber of Commerce Photographer/ Kyle Telechan Copy Editor/ Kelly Sieman

TO ADVERTISE: Contact us at 219.926.5513 or info@dunelandchamber.org

Heather Augustyn / Contributing Editor Heather Augustyn is a Chesterton native. She is a continuing lecturer of composition at Purdue Northwest and was a newspaper journalist for 12 years. She has published seven books on ska music and lives in Chesterton with her husband and their two sons, Sid and Frank.

Kyle Telechan / Photographer

Kyle Telechan, photographer, has done freelance work for the Times of Northwest Indiana since graduating from Indiana University in 2007 and has over 11 years of experience in photojournalism. His interest in nature, architecture, and urban decay drives much of his non-photojournalistic work. Kyle currently lives in Portage with his wife, Elise. Elizabeth Kelly / Managing Editor & Graphic Designer Elizabeth has over 16 years of experience in the design and publishing industry. A lifelong resident of northwest Indiana, Elizabeth currently lives in Chesterton with her children, Jacob and Everly.


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CURRENTS The Duneland Chamber of Commerce held their annual Community Awards luncheon to celebrate members who have contributed to the community in a number of ways. President Maura Mundell led the event which was held on July 20, 2022, at the Spa Speakeasy & Special Event Center. “It is the Duneland Chamber’s honor to recognize organizations, businesses, and individuals at today’s Annual Community Awards luncheon,” says Mundell. “These winners make the Duneland community a better place to live, work, and play.” This issue of Duneland Today Magazine pays tribute to those award winners.

Chesterton head coach Marc Urban gestures to his team during a game.

Chesterton's Travis Grayson.


Chesterton High School Boys Basketball


he Chesterton High School Boys Basketball team sure gave March Madness a whole new meaning last season. That month, the team proudly finished as IHSAA State Final Runner-Up after winning the Noblesville Holiday Tournament along with the DAC title enroute to an undefeated regular season. In addition, they won their second IHSAA Sectional championship in four years. They then defeated South Bend Adams and Penn to win the school’s first ever Regional Championship and followed that with a victory over Kokomo to win the Semi-State Championship. The Trojans finished the year with an overall record of 29-1. Head Coach Marc Urban led this determined team of boys through a successful season, guid-

ing them to be strong members of the team, as well as the community. As a result, Marc Urban is recipient of the Putting Duneland on the Map award which was presented by Duneland School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Chip Pettit. “When I first got the job,” said Urban, “I told our players that we were going to do whatever it took to put this program on the map. So, receiving an award that is named ‘Putting Duneland on the Map’ is pretty neat. What made our run so special was the support that we had from our school and community. Hearing stories of where people were watching the game if they were not at the game was really fun. This is a special community and we feel very lucky to be a small part of it.”

Urban says the excitement that the season brought to the community is inspiring and motivates him to continue this season. “When we came back from Regionals and Semi-State and there were people in the streets standing in the rain to welcome us back was really special. Even though we came up short at State, to look up into the stands at Gainbridge and see and hear the amount of people that made the trip to Indy was incredible and something that we will never forget,” he says. Dr. Pettit stated, “Marc does a tremendous job leading every aspect of the basketball program. The team sure took the community on a magical ride this past winter. It was so much fun to watch everyone come together to support this team.” DUNELAND TODAY

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Duneland Distinguished Woman Darlene Kittredge at Kittredge & Zehner in Chesterton.


Darlene Kittredge


he Distinguished Woman award was presented by last year’s recipient of the award, Heather Compton, during the Duneland Chamber Community Awards banquet in July. Heather explained that the award is presented annually to a Duneland resident who demonstrates the spirit of humanitarianism in her service to the community, contributions to her business or profession, and initiative and creativity in assisting other women to reach their full leadership potential. “Darlene Kittredge,” said Compton, “has been a part of the Duneland community for over 50 years and has contributed through many different avenues. She has raised three children here, two of whom have successful businesses in town and also give back to the community through town politics and serving on not-for-profit boards. 38 years ago, Darlene established and still continues to be an integral part of the accounting firm Kit4


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Duneland Distinguished Woman Darlene Kittredge holds the necklace given to her for obtaining the title.

tredge & Zehner.” “My husband and I moved to Chesterton 51 years ago and raised our three children here,” says Kittredge. “It has been a wonderful place to raise a family. I have worked in the community for 51 years, initially as an employee of another firm and 39 years ago I started my own firm. The community was very welcoming and receptive to me. The Chamber has been a large factor in my firm’s growth and success. The educational system for our children and the community support for my business has inspired me to be active in the Chamber, educational organizations and my church.” Kittredge has held all offices for the Duneland Chamber of Commerce throughout the 1980s and she was the first female president of the Chamber in 1985. She has also served on municipal boards, bank boards, church administration, and in the mid-1990s she helped

to begin the Duneland Education Foundation with several other town leaders and served on their board for 15 years. She also works to support other small businesses and in 2018 she was recognized by the Indiana CPA Society for being the first woman in Indiana to be involved with the organization for 50 years. “Receiving this award is a great honor,” said Kittredge of the Distinguished Woman award. “I feel privileged to be included with the many women who have preceded me. We don’t do what we do for recognition, but it is an honor to be recognized. I will continue to be active and am proud to have two children who live in Chesterton and are active members of the community.”

---------------------------------------------Kittredge & Zehner, P. C. 209 S. Calumet Rd., Suite 1, Chesterton (219) 926-8836 www.dlkcpa.com

CURRENTS Program Specialist Grace Gidley and Porter County Program Director Alyssa Zilz.


Mental Health America of NWI


he Humanitarian of the Year award was given to Mental Health America of NWI for their dedication to the community. President and CEO Andrea Sherwin says that the demand for mental health services has been higher than ever and they have been responding to that call. “In 2020, the number of individuals seeking mental health support skyrocketed across the nation, and our community was no exception. Between Covid-19 and events that amplified a collective cry for social justice, people took on significant emotional health constraints: fear, anger, loneliness, isolation, and more. At Mental Health America of NWI, we saw an increase in requests and response for support and services of 1214% across our programs. What we all thought was going to be an isolated spike due to the pandemic turned into a longer-term norm, as we continue to manage the needs of our community even today,” says Sherwin. She continues, “Responding to the growing need for mental health support has required both collaboration and creativity. We have added programming that helps educate, inform, and support our community; and we

have found new ways to provide outreach and support to existing clients, including virtual services. Leveraging decades-long partnerships in the community, we have also joined community action committees and cohorts in order to share resources and make referrals to ensure 360-degree care for all NWI residents.” Being recognized with this award only motivates Sherwin and her staff to continue their work. Sherwin says, “As a mission-based organization, our end goal is always the health and welfare of our community. We are grateful to be recognized for the work we do to educate, empower, and strengthen the way individuals and families function for life. This award is a gracious reminder of our “why”—and recognition of the incredible work by our program teams each and every day. We accept this honor with great humility and pride in service to the community. We are incredibly grateful for our entire team and happy to thank and honor two phenomenal team members who make our work in the Duneland Community possible—Alyssa Zilz, Porter County Program Director, and Grace Gidley, Porter County Program Specialist.” In identifying programs that have been espe-

Porter County Program Director Alyssa Zilz accepting the award from Duneland Chamber's Kelly Sieman at the Duneland Chamber Community Awards.

cially beneficial to the community, Sherwin says that two programs specific to the Porter County Community have greatly contributed to the health and wellbeing of Porter County residents. “Bridging the Gap and Open Door Social Club. Bridging the Gap provides emergency assistance to residents of Porter County who are in financial distress and are unable to pay for medications prescribed to treat their mental illness and/or addictions. With the crisis need met, clients are aided in locating long-term resources through follow-up services, moving them from crisis mode to improved financial stability. Open Door Social Club (ODSC) provides individuals living with mental illness a space to come together with peers to work on socialization and build life skills. Program participants have expressed great appreciation for this program due to the safe, non-judgmental space in which to combat social isolation, practice social competencies, and be part of a community that might otherwise feel inaccessible to them.”

---------------------------------------------Mental Health America of NWI 5311 Hohman Ave, Hammond (219) 937-7733 www.mhanwi.org DUNELAND TODAY

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Retired Chesterton Assistant Police Chief Dan Rocha


resenting the Serviceperson of the Year award, Town of Chesterton Liaison Kevin Nevers said he was delighted to make comments on behalf of Town Manager Dave Cincoski. The award was given to Dan Rocha who has retired from serving as Chesterton’s Assistant Police Chief. “It’s been a pleasure watching this officer rise steadily, and deservedly, through the ranks of the Chesterton Police Department. He made detective after only five years, a rank of responsibility and wisdom for which he’s ideally suited. What impressed

Dan Rocha and Kevin Nevers at the Duneland Community Awards.

me about this officer even in the early days is his demeanor. He blends, in an easy balance, professionalism with warmth, a seriousness of purpose with a fine sense of humor, modesty with confidence. In short, he’s exactly the sort of officer a Chief of Police wants in customer service: calming the angry, comforting the traumatized, taking a prayer meeting with the innocent until proven guilty,” Nevers said. Rocha served with the Drug Task Force and was promoted to sergeant. He volunteered as a K-9 handler with his partner, Igor, and was

promoted to lieutenant and was tapped to command the Investigations Division. He was then promoted to assistant chief and was a recipient of a Life Saving Award, in addition to receiving numerous commendations. “I was very humbled and honored to be nominated for an award like this, let alone to receive it,” Rocha said. “I view myself as a guy who just showed up and did my job. The citizens that live in the community and the men and women that I work with, and the entire Town of Chesterton are very supportive of their first responders,” he says.

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NorthShore Health Centers

The lounge in the Frontline Foundations facility at the newly-opened NorthShore Health Centers building in Chesterton.

NorthShore Health Centers employee Mary Carey, on right, fills a glasses prescription with help from Optician Barbara Chasko during the grand opening of the new NorthShore Health Centers building in Chesterton.

Examination room in the new NorthShore Health Centers building in Chesterton.

Allen Grecula, director of substance abuse treatment with NorthShore Health Centers, and director of clinical services at Frontline Foundations, on right, leads visitors on a tour through the new facility at the NorthShore Health Centers Chesterton building.


orthShore Health purchased the Duneland Resale Shop property at 801 Broadway in Chesterton in order to relocate and expand its healthcare services. This renovation spanned approximately 15,000 square feet of space, where NorthShore Health will be relocating not only its existing facility, but also its Frontline Foundations substance abuse and addiction treatment facility. It was important for NorthShore to keep the Westchester Neighbors Food Pantry headquartered in the building to keep everything as community based as possible. Tricia Hall, senior director of marketing and communication for NorthShore Health, says being recognized by the community is an affirmation of their commitment. “NorthShore Health Centers joined the Chesterton community in 2015 offering family practice, pediatrics, and OB/GYN. The original building did not allow for much growth and as the demand for more services grew, NorthShore realized we needed more space to meet the needs of the community. Additionally, in July of 2019, NorthShore merged with Frontline Foundations as a way to offer coordinated care to the whole person with physical and mental health services as one. NorthShore and Frontline as one company functioned under two sites due to space limitations in both buildings. As NorthShore had been looking for a larger space for quite some time, the resale shop opportunity presented itself during the pandemic when the shop was forced to close in order to eliminate the spread of COVID-19. After a meeting with the owners of the resale shop, they felt comfortable with the idea of moving a healthcare organization into the building as they knew it would continue to impact the community in a positive way,” says Hall. The new facility will meet the needs of the community through the services and resources that NorthShore is able to provide. Hall says, “Immediately, moving into this new building allowed NorthShore to provide more convenient care for our patients since the medical and mental health services are now together in one building. We were also able to expand services to add a chiropractor, vision center, and pharmacy in this building with dental coming in the near future. Our current medical services of family practice, pediatrics, and OB/GYN have

additional exam rooms allowing us to add more providers as the community demand increases and requires more medical services. These additional services have also given us the ability to create more job opportunities in the Duneland community. NorthShore was also able to build out a space for the food pantry. The food pantry previously operated out of the Duneland Resale Shop and we did not want to jeopardize that resource. Now the food pantry does not need to relocate and NorthShore patients who are in need of this service can receive their medical care and resources in the same location.” "The design of the new facility was based around the needs of the community," says Hall. “The Chesterton clinic is different than all of our other clinics as there is a check in desk per service. Medical, dental, vision, chiropractic, and substance abuse treatment all have different check in stations and medical suites since each service has different patient needs. Many of our locations have one reception desk for all services. Although this might seem convenient, as our services have expanded and our sites have gotten larger, we realized there are some issues with workflow. For example, during a busy time, patients might have the same appointment time but for a different service which creates a bottleneck and a line for check-in. Different desks and suites allow for each patient to be addressed in a more efficient manner. Another reason for breaking the building into suites by services is medical staff and patients do not need to pass through other services to get to exam rooms positioned at the back of the building. Overall, this design is more compliant with ADA and HIPAA regulations and more convenient for the patients and the staff.” The award has recognized this attention to the community and the hard work of the remodel. NorthShore CEO David Hall says, “We are honored to receive this award. A lot of thought went into the design of the Chesterton clinic and we are confident that this new building will allow us to better serve the Duneland community and continue to build a healthy community, one patient at a time.”

---------------------------------------------NorthShore Health Centers 801 Broadway Ave, Chesterton (219) 763-8112 www.northshorehealth.org DUNELAND TODAY

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VNA Hospice NWI - Meals on Wheels volunteer Linda Burrus walks on the walkway outside of a veteran's house during delivery service in Chesterton.


VNA Hospice NWI - Meals on Wheels of Porter Co.


his year’s Volunteer of the Year award was presented to the VNA Hospice NWI for the VNA Meals on Wheels of Porter County program. The award honors an individual or an organization that actively dedicates their time for the community. The VNA Meals on Wheels of Porter County helps homebound seniors maintain their independence and nutritional well-being. There are over 40 seniors in the Duneland community that receive this service and more than 40,000 meals to homebound seniors in Porter County every year. Even more astonishing, they do this with only 23 rotating volunteers that help serve the community by delivering their meals. Bob Franko, president and CEO of VNA Hospice NWI, says that the effort is a result of these dedicated volunteers who enable to serve those in need. “Our program has been around since the '80s. During the pandemic

we served many more people and we anticipate the program will grow. Most are seniors somewhat isolated in their homes who have trouble preparing a meal just for themselves, so that’s really the blessing of the program. For many of the seniors we serve in the program, this is sometimes the only person that knocks on their door all day long, so it helps to lay eyes on them and ask if there is anything they need,” Franko says. It is also worthy to note that the VNA also received a $7,500 pet food and supply grant from Meals on Wheels America to provide the VNA Meals on Wheels clients with food and veterinary services for their pets, too. This new service is yet another way that VNA helps improve quality-of-life for seniors and none of this would be possible without their volunteers. Franko says, “It's awesome to be recognized like this. We approach this work we

do with a huge sense of humility and we get the gratitude every day when we deliver the meals, but it’s great to receive gratitude from the community. It’s one of the programs that people don’t really know about and the service we bring. It’s about recognizing our volunteers and some of these people have been doing this for 20 years and have built relationships with people they deliver to. We can’t do it without them. We don’t need the gratitude—we pass it to our volunteers and to our partner in this, Pines Village. They are the ones who prepare and package these meals every day and tailor them to the need of each individual person.”

---------------------------------------------VNA Hospice NWI 501 Marquette St., Valparaiso (219) 462-5195 www.vnanwi.org DUNELAND TODAY

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Kelly Sieman of Duneland Chamber of Commerce and Amy Wulf of VNA Hospice NWI

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Dan Rocha and Kevin Nevers of Town of Chesterton

Mark Urban and Dr. Chip Pettit of Duneland School Corporation DUNELAND TODAY

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Chesterton High School new teachers: Tom Biel - Business/Computer Science, Jonathan Flodder - Band Director, Shalonda Henderson Special Ed, Mark Coleman - Special Ed, Matthew Christensen Assistant Band Director, Doretta Kurzinski - English, and Kristen Myers - Science.

Duneland School Intermediate new teachers: Jake Trezak Westchester Intermediate (WIS) Special Ed, Nadine Kavanaugh WIS Reading Specialist, Kate Meyer - Liberty Intermediate Special Ed, Michael Cleary - WIS Special Ed. Absent from photo is Paige Hart - WIS Music.

Jackson Elementary new teachers: Kiersten Berry - Music, Jason Finner - Grade 3, and Casey Wszolek - Kindergarten.

Chesterton Middle School new teachers: Marc Bruner - English, Donald Liles - Math, Kristine Prater - Spanish, Leanne Johnson Math, Kailey Holmquist - Science, Robert Morris - Special Ed, Taylor Chamberlain - Math.

Duneland School Elementary new teachers: Karli Kennedy - Bailly Elementary Grade 2, Renee Mundt - Brummitt Elementary Kindergarten, Ashleigh Claudio - Brummitt Special Ed, and Adona Elkins - Yost Elementary Grade 3.

Liberty Elementary new teachers: Lindsey Stainko - Counselor, Julie Miles - Special Ed, Morgan Olson - Kindergarten, Ashleigh Trumble - Grade 3, and Chris Nixon - Grade 3. DUNELAND TODAY

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