Around the Region – Fall 2017 - October 31, 2017

Courtesy of Northwest Indiana Business Quarterly Magazine

Written by Michelle Searer

Stay current with local people, news and events


Michelle Anderson has been promoted to mortgage loan originator at First Financial. Anderson, a graduate of Purdue University, has served as a banking center manager with First Financial for more than 15 years… Horizon Bank announced the appointment of Mark Ritzi as market president for Porter County. Ritzi has been an employee at Horizon Bank for 17 years in the mortgage division.


Ozinga recently named Joe Sanders as executive vice president of Indiana, responsible for heading Ozinga’s ready-mix operations in Indiana and Michigan. Sanders started at Ozinga in 1996 and replaces Don Rapley, who ran the Indiana region since 1990 and also served on the Indiana Ready Mix Concrete Association.


Northwest Indiana native Peggy Hinckley has been appointed as the new emergency manager for the Gary Community School Corporation by the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board. Hinckley will lead a team of financial and academic experts in an effort to balance the district’s budget, reduce its more than $100 million debt burden and make improvements that attract more students. She is a former teacher, school superintendent and author…

Purdue University Northwest announced that Richard Rupp, an experienced associate professor of political science, has been named chief of staff in the office of Chancellor Thomas L. Keon. In this role, Rupp will be engaged in the university’s strategic planning and engagement, community relations and participating in the day-to-day operations of the university. Rupp has been with Purdue Northwest since 1998 and is the director of PNW’s Friday University series of workshops.


City of Hammond Mayor Thomas M. McDermott, Jr. announced a series of staff changes. Philip Taillon has been named chief of staff. Taillon, a graduate of Purdue University Northwest with a bachelor ‘s degree in management, has been with the city for the last nine years as executive director of planning and development.

Africa Tarver has been promoted to executive director of planning and development. Tarver is a native of Hammond and graduated from Calumet College of St. Joseph with a bachelor of science in organization management. She has been employed with the city for the past 16 years in various positions. Mark McLaughlin has been named deputy executive operator of the Water Department. McLaughlin, a native of Hammond, graduated from the University of Colorado with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He previously was employed with the City of Hammond as director of planning and development. Anne Anderson has been promoted to director of economic development. She received a bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University in Virginia and has worked for the City of Hammond since 2013. Richard Szany, who has been finance director with the Hammond Port Authority for the past nine years, will also be responsible for Port Authority operations in the absence of the port authority director. Szany, a native of Hammond, earned an MBA and bachelor’s degree in business, both from Indiana University Northwest. Matthew Muta has been named deputy district manager of the Hammond Sanitary District. He is a native of Hammond and was in the first graduating class of the College Bound Scholarship Program. Muta graduated with a B.S. in civil (environmental) engineering from Purdue University. Muta has served on the Board of Sanitary Commissioners since August 2013. Aileen Ibarra has been hired as administration assistant to the chief of staff in the mayor’s office. Ibarra is a Hammond native and holds a B.S. in public affairs, civic leadership with a minor in policy studies and Spanish from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs.


Methodist Hospitals announced Dr. M. Kamran Aslam has joined the Methodist Physician Group Network. Aslam is a cardiologist specializing in cardiac electrophysiology. He also treats atrial fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia. Aslam’s office is at the Southlake Campus in Merrillville…

Porter Physician Group recently welcomed two new medical oncologists.

Dr. Janet Retseck and Dr. Tareq Braik both specialize in hematology and oncology. Retseck, a Michigan City native, is a graduate of the Ohio State University College of Medicine and has a special interest in patient-centered care and advances in immunotherapy. Braik earned his medical degree from the University of Baghdad and treats all types of cancers, with a special interest in breast, lung, gastroenterology, and prostate cancers…

Mark Savage is the new operations director of the Occupational Health Department for Community Healthcare System. He’s responsible for management of the system’s operations in both Lake and Porter counties, supervising a service line that includes clinics in East Chicago, Hobart, Munster and Portage as well as onsite services at the BP Refinery in Whiting and U.S. Steel in Gary. Savage received a master’s degree from the University of Nebraska-Omaha and an MBA from Western Governor’s University.


Ben Zimmer of Anderson Insurance, a Keystone Insurers Group partner, received the Thoroughbred Award in recognition of outstanding new business production in the state of Indiana during calendar year 2016. The award is presented to the top producer in each of Keystone’s eleven states …

Hoosier Insurance Agency of Schererville recently welcomed Jeanette Luce as its newest producing agent. Luce is a life-long Indiana resident who joins the team in Schererville as an independent insurance agent.


Adam Sedia has joined the litigation team at Hoeppner Wagner & Evans, practicing in the firm’s Merrillville office. Sedia is a graduate of Indiana University and the DePaul University College of Law. He currently serves as president of the Lake County Bar Association.


Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County announced new leadership for its South Haven Club. Former Program Director Jason Kegebein was promoted to serve as the club’s new director. He began his career as a part-time youth development professional for the South Haven Club. In 2011, he left the organization to work for Opportunity Enterprises, returning to the Club in 2014 as the program director.

Amber Zimmer has been appointed to serve as the South Haven Club’s program director. Zimmer is a graduate of IUPUI, with a bachelor’s degree in physical education, a major in exercise science and a minor in psychology. She is a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor, and also is CPR, AED and First Aid certified.

Public Safety

Valparaiso Police Department has promoted officer Philip Spence to the rank of patrol lieutenant. Spence is a 23-year veteran of the department. He is a graduate of Olivet Nazarene University, and Northwestern University Crash Reconstruction School and Police Executive Leadership Academy … The Crown Point Police Department welcomed new officer Jayson Villars.

Real Estate

McColly Real Estate agents and staff recently celebrated their top-producing agents of 2016. Platinum Award winners from Indiana included: Top Producer, Kelly White, Portage Willowcreek office; Rookie of the Year, Jennifer Karban, Portage Route 6 office; and President’s Platinum Team Award for top-producing team, Lisa Grady Team, Schererville office.

Methodist Hospitals Completes $12.1M Renovation of ER and ICU

Methodist Hospitals has completed a $12.1 million investment at the Northlake Campus in Gary. The project was completed in 14 months ; it includes the renovation of the Emergency Room and an existing Intensive Care Unit to create a Surgical/Trauma ICU to support Northwest Indiana’s first “in process” Level III Trauma Center, and the construction of a new ICU. The renovated Northlake Campus Emergency Department features 15 large rooms with improved patient privacy that includes doors instead of curtains, updated nurse call systems, the latest patient telemetry monitoring systems and televisions. Each room also contains nurse work stations so charting and medication scanning can be performed at the patient’s bedside. A new centralized station offers emergency nurses and physicians a view of every room and the department’s floor layout is designed for the most effective patient flow. Its design enables physicians, surgeons and staff to reduce ER wait times and improve overall efficiency. The renovation also includes a Fast –Track Area where patients with less critical needs are seen and treated quickly. The ICUs feature a new 12-bed ICU and a renovated 6-bed ICU, for a total of 18 private, spacious rooms that accommodate the latest technologies. The general contractor was Skanska USA building, architect was Stantec Architect (formerly VOA Associates Incorporated) and the project manager was Adams Management Services Corporation.

Methodist Hospitals Northlake Receives Level III Trauma Center Designation

Methodist Hospital’s Northlake Campus in Gary has been verified as a Level III Trauma Center by the Verification Review Committee (VRC), an ad hoc committee of the Committee on Trauma (COT) of the American College of Surgeons (ACS). This achievement recognizes the trauma center’s dedication to providing optimal care for injured patients. Established by the American College of Surgeons in 1987, the COT’s Consultation/Verification Program for Hospitals promotes the development of trauma centers in which participants provide not only the hospital resources necessary for trauma care, but also the entire spectrum of care to address the needs of all injured patients. This spectrum encompasses the pre-hospital phase through the rehabilitation process. The program provides confirmation that a trauma center has demonstrated its commitment to providing the highest quality trauma care for all injured patients.

Founding Families Win Bid to Buy Back Strack & Van Til

Members of its founding families successfully bid on 20 Strack & Van Til supermarkets in a bankruptcy auction. Strack & Van Til President and CEO Jeff Strack, the Strack family, the Van Til family and others joined forces to buy the stores, owned by the bankrupt grocery cooperative Central Grocers. Chicago-area retailer Jewel-Osco, owned by Albertsons Cos., had entered a $100 million bid for 19 stores but was outbid for an undisclosed amount. The deal includes 17 Strack & Van Til stores in Northwest Indiana, two Town & Country Markets; an Ultra Foods store; a central bakery in Valparaiso; and the corporate headquarters in Highland.

Visclosky Announces Grant Award for Michigan City Fire Department

Congressman Visclosky announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded a grant for the Michigan City Fire Department under the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program in the amount of $718,468. This grant award will provide the Michigan City Fire Department with the ability to hire six additional firefighters. In general, the SAFER program is designed to strengthen the nation’s ability to respond to fire and fire-related hazards and improve the nation’s overall level of preparedness.

Chester Inc. Celebrates 70th Year and Induction into Chief Buildings Hall of Fame

Chester, Inc is celebrating its 70th year in business. In addition, Steel Guru Chief Builders (a division of Chief Industries) announced the induction of Chester Inc., and its CEO Pete Peuquet into the Chief Builders Hall of Fame. Overall sales and constant commitment to partnership are the cornerstone of Chester’s longevity. Chester Inc., based in Valparaiso, is structured into three primary divisions: Architectural and Construction; Information Technologies; and Agricultural Systems.

Orville Redenbacher and Charles Bowman established Chester,Inc. in 1947, after purchasing the George F. Chester & Sons Seed company. At that time, Bowman was manager of the Purdue Ag Alumni Seed Improvement Association, Lafayette, and was formerly manager of the Indiana Crop Improvement Association Seed Certification Service. Redenbacher was manager of Princeton Farms, in Princeton, Ind., a large farm operation which, among other major projects, produced hybrid seed corn, certified seeds and commercial popping corn.

City of Hammond Breaks Ground For New Sportsplex and Community Center

Hammond city officials, along with representatives for architectural, construction and engineering companies, broke ground for a new, state-of-the-art sports complex and community center. It will be located at the former Woodmar Mall site at the corner of 165th and Indianapolis Boulevard. The 135,000 square-foot complex will feature 6 basketball courts, 12 volleyball courts, 2 regulation-sized indoor soccer fields, 6 indoor batting cages and an upper level track for running and walking, as well as for observation of sporting events taking place on the lower level. The facility also will offer a community room to host city events, a concession area, general offices, restrooms and changing rooms. Mayor Thomas McDermott stressed that the project is on a fast track, and is expected to be completely finished, operational and open to the public within the next 12 months. Construction for the new sports complex is being done by Madison Construction Co., of Orland Park, Ill. American Structurepoint is the architect and is also responsible for the project’s interior design, structural engineering, and civil engineering services. IMEG Engineering of Rock Island, Ill. is performing the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering services.

Sand Creek Country Club Recognized for Environmental Distinction

Sand Creek Country Club has retained its designation as a “Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary” through the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses, an Audubon International program. Participation is designed to help course personnel plan, organize, implement, and document a comprehensive environmental management program and receive recognition for their efforts. To reach certification, a course must demonstrate a high degree of environmental quality in a number of areas including: environmental planning, wildlife and habitat management, outreach and education, chemical use reduction and safety, water conservation, and water quality management. Sand Creek Country Club is one of 6 courses in Indiana and 910 courses in the world to hold the honor.