Make your home page

WHITING, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Butler Blue has been selected as one of 10 finalists for induction into the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting. The first round of online voting is set to begin Sunday and the hall of fame says, if selected, Butler Blue would be the first live mascot program to be inducted.

Butler Blue is the only collegiate mascot in this year’s finalist list. If inducted, he would join other Indiana mascots in the hall of fame, including Blue from the Indianapolis Colts and Boomer from the Indiana Pacers. 

“Blue wants to thank everyone who voted for him during the first round of voting, and helping us reach the finalist stage,” said Evan Krauss, handler of Blue IV, the current mascot for Butler University. “It’s a great honor to be a finalist, but it would be an even greater honor to be the first live mascot program represented in the Mascot Hall of Fame. We hope we can count on Blue’s thousands of fans around the world to vote for us at least one more time.”

The other finalists include:

The 2021 inductees will be announced to the public Nov. 5, with an official induction ceremony scheduled for June 11 of next year.

Voting is slated to begin at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday and will end at 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 23. You can learn more about the finalists by clicking here.

WHITING, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Mascots from two universities in the Hoosier State have been nominated for the National Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting. Butler University’s Butler Blue bulldog and Purdue Pete from Purdue University are in the running this year. A total of 23 mascots, both in professional and collegiate sports, have been nominated.

The hall also serves as an interactive children’s museum. The Indianapolis Colts’ Blue and Indiana Pacers’ Boomer were both inducted in 2020.

Voting begins Sunday October 3 and ends Saturday October 9. The 2021 Mascot Hall of Fame inductees will be announced November 5 with the induction ceremony take place next June.

Butler Blue IV has served as Butler’s mascot since January 2020. The university says he has 42,000 followers on Instagram. The school says the live mascot program, and not specifically Butler Blue I, II, III or IV, is nominated. This would be the first live mascot in the Mascot Hall of Fame.

“Butler University’s live mascot program has come a long way since its inception in 2000,” said Evan Krauss, Butler Blue IV’s handler. “It would be a tremendous honor for the program to be inducted as the first live mascot in the Mascot Hall of Fame.”

Purdue Pete has been around much longer, cheering on the Boilermakers. According to a university website, Purdue Pete first ran onto the football field in 1956. However, his heritage can be tracked back to the 1940s when the likeness was used as an advertising logo.

Click here to see the full list of nominees.

WHITING, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) – A 41,000-square-foot mixed use development in Whiting is adding to its retail offerings. South Bend-based Holladay Properties says Notre Dame Federal Credit Union will open a new branch inside The Illiana.

The more than 3,600-square-foot location will be the credit union’s first location in the Whiting market. The $5.5 million mixed-use development, construction on which began in the summer of 2019, opened in August.

“Our growing Lake County membership led us to the Illiana building in Whiting. With a growing network of members already active, the building will serve as our Lake County headquarters,” said Thomas Gryp, president and chief executive officer of Notre Dame FCU.

The credit union will offer checking and savings accounts, mortgages, consumer loans, credit cards, commercial loans, investment services, and online services like mobile banking and virtual video appointments.

WHITING, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — BP America Inc. (NYSE: BP), which employs approximately 1,800 workers at its oil refinery in Whiting, is underwriting a scholarship for engineering students who attend Purdue University Northwest.

PNW announced the establishment of the BP scholarship fund for incoming students who intend to major in civil, computer, electrical, or mechanical engineering.

“BP has a long history of supporting STEM education throughout the Northwest Indiana region. We are proud to partner with PNW to offer these opportunities to local students and to play a small part in supporting their continued success,” said Amber Russell, Whiting refinery manager.

The program will award fifteen, $1,000 scholarships starting in the 2020-21 academic year.

Only future engineering students who live in Whiting, Hammond and East Chicago are eligible. The 1,400-acre refinery is primarily based in Whiting, but it also stretches into the other two communities.

“We are excited to offer students from high schools in our immediate neighborhood access to an engineering education enabling them to improve people’s lives,” said PNW School of Engineering Director Dietmar Rempfer.

Northwest Indiana Adapting Workforce to New Economy

WHITING, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — While the steel industry has been the backbone of the economy in northwest Indiana for more than four decades, other emerging economic drivers are gaining steam in the region.

The president and chief executive officer of the Center of Workforce Innovations in Porter County says a shift in the economy has begun, particularly with the $40 million data center being constructed in Hammond, as well as the healthcare and tourism and hospitality industries. Linda Woloshansky says those sectors are starting to influence workforce and talent development efforts in the region.

On a special road show edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick from northwest Indiana, Linda Woloshansky said businesses are making a concerted effort in training a new generation workforce.

“Our career and technical education centers are really working closely with the industries and beginning to take a look at how they can provide more advanced classes for students which are getting filled,” said Woloshansky. “The students are really responding well to this and we’re seeing a lot of early college connections as well with Vincennes and Ivy Tech, which then bodes well for our university enrollments and continuation of skill development.”

Woloshanksy says it has been “tremendous” to see educational institutions making connections with businesses, which have led to a changing of curricula and the development of their programming to have a greater focus on STEAM jobs. 

Woloshansky adds there is difficulty in transitioning from a greater steel and manufacturing economy to more of the information technology area. 

“People here do not see a lot of IT companies located here, corporate headquarters or a lot of talked-about jobs. But what we know is that so many of the jobs today really require IT skills and so that’s where we have a challenge and we’re starting to put efforts on helping people understand how they could really advance with those skills.”

She adds placemaking efforts to make the region more attractive to new residents is also key to adapting to a more diverse economy.

RDA Chief: Northwest Indiana Economy ‘Never Been Better’

WHITING, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — For more than a century, industrial manufacturing has been a critical component to the success of northwest Indiana. While the region was hit hard by the nation’s manufacturing transition, there are signs of significant economic improvement and growth with the rise of tourism, a planned $300 million Hard Rock Casino in Gary and several quality of place investments in various communities. 

On a special roadshow edition of Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick from the Mascot Hall of Fame in Whiting, Hanna said the state of the region’s economy has never been better.

“We went through a period of struggle there of course with the industrial decline and a lot of it had to do with productivity, too. So, I feel like the steel industry and BP are more competitive than they’ve ever been,” said Hanna. “But we’re learning also to adjust to some of the changes there in terms of employment and so I think we’ve postured ourselves as the new suburban opportunity around Chicago and that’s a game changer for us.” 

Hanna says while manufacturing is still a powerhouse in northwest Indiana, the region has begun to look toward a changing workforce.

“Looking at diversity and professional jobs, that’s changed a lot and it’s been on the rise. Tapping into our educational institutions like IU and Purdue that are up here and some of the benefits that come from that has become bigger and stronger. And of course, you know, tapping into the third-largest economy in the country in a place that has as many jobs as the state of Indiana, Chicago, Illinois, is going to be huge for us.”

One of the many projects in the region that would help is growing the workforce is the West Lake Corridor project, which would feature an eight-mile extension of the South Shore Rail line from Hammond to Dyer. Project officials are seeking up to $440 million in federal funding and last month, the project was moved into the engineering phase by the Federal Transit Administration.

Hanna says the project is all about economic development.

“The impact, really, is about two things: taking people to work and then bringing people here to increase our population. We’ve had areas that have had a decline in population in the north since the 70s and some growth in the south, but this is going to help change the direction of what people are thinking about in terms of living opportunities within northwest Indiana.”

Hanna said officials in northwest Indiana have changed their approach from just looking to bring businesses over to the region from Illinois and other places to also increasing the population and creating a quality of place to attract new residents.

WHITING, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — The first round of voting for the 2020 nominees of the National Mascot Hall of Fame is underway. The Whiting museum’s Executive Committee announced 19 finalists and began taking votes for the first round on Sunday, which runs through October 12.

The finalists are:

Voters can choose up to seven mascots for the final vote. Click here to cast your votes. Final ballot voting takes place October 20-28.

WHITING, Ind. (AP) – Baseball has Cooperstown. Football has Canton. If Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura has his way, sports mascots will soon have the northwest Indiana city.

A brochure has been created to kick off fundraising efforts for the National Mascot Hall of Fame that would honor some of the well-known sports mascots who have entertained fans for generations, such as the Phillie Phanatic, the Famous Chicken, the former San Diego Padres mascot, Brutus the Buckeye and Bucky the Badger.

“It’s really going to be a children’s museum that focuses on and highlights the world of mascots,” Stahura told The (Munster) Times.

The brochure describes various potential features of the hall and how it could entice visitors to make repeated trips to the venue to enjoy a variety of activities and events.

David Raymond, the original Phillie Phanatic, and members of his company, Raymond Entertainment Group, came up with the idea. He said the genesis of the hall was an incident in 2003 when Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Randall Simon hit one of the Milwaukee Brewers’ sausage mascots with his bat. Raymond was approached by a member of his entertainment group, Chris Bruce, about doing something fun in response.

Raymond gathered a group of about 30 costumed mascots to march on Philadelphia City Hall to unveil a Mascots Bill of Rights. The lighthearted event attracted an even bigger crowd and even more attention the following year, and soon, the idea of a Mascot Hall of Fame was born.

The hall is only an online entity at the moment, and Raymond thought at first his group might eventually be able to have a mobile exhibit or be a part of some other existing development. The opportunity for a hall came with a call from Whiting a couple of years ago.

Stahura said the city will use tax increment financing bonds to construct what has been envisioned as a 25,000-square-foot building. He said the city is probably going to invest about $8 million in the structure, parking and related exterior components.

He estimated an additional $2.5 million to $4 million will be spent on interior attractions.

The project was initially scheduled to open in the fall of next year, but Stahura said “the sooner we get a couple of donors to step forward, the sooner we’ll have a shovel in the ground.”

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Monrovia executed its game plan and avoided making mistakes. Whiting had its opportunities but struggled to finish drives that ended on Monrovia’s side of the field. And once the Bulldogs’ impressive running game wore Whiting down, Monrovia put the game out of reach.

Dalton Smith rushed for 167 yards and two touchdowns, and Jaden Rhea finished with 122 rushing yards and two touchdowns as Monrovia rolled to a 33-6 Class 2A state football championship Saturday over Whiting.

“We knew that we were going to wear people down as we went and that’s what happened,” said Monrovia coach Kevin Hutchins.

Third-ranked Monrovia took a close game at the half and blew it open by outscoring No. 6 Whiting 19-0 in the final two quarters. The Bulldogs (14-1) run-focused offense finished with 373 yards on the ground, the fourth most in a state finals game.

The telling possessions for Whiting (13-2) took place on the Oilers’ final first half drive and the opening drive of the second half. Right before the half Whiting’s defense stopped Monrovia on a fourth down attempt on the Whiting 20-yard line. The Oilers then drove 60 yards but came up empty at the Monrovia 24-yard line.

A drive that potentially could have ended with Whiting tying the contest stalled with no points with 1:39 remaining in the second quarter. The score was 14-6 at that point.

On the first play of the second half, Whiting quarterback Stuart Glascow was stripped by senior Monrovia defensive lineman Jeremiah Welty for the game’s first turnover. In the process of executing a one-armed tackle, Glascow took the ball away from Glascow as the two players went to the ground.

Eight plays later, Smith cashed in from two yards out to give the Bulldogs a 21-6 lead and control of the game.

“That was a big turnover for us, because they were only down by a touchdown,” Welty said. “Me getting that turnover put us up by two (scores). I feel like that was a real momentum changer.”

In a 14-6 contest, Whiting coach Jeff Cain said that sequence that had Whiting coming up empty was costly.

Rhea put the finishing touches on Monrovia’s first football title in school history with an 18-yard touchdown run with 8:04 left in the game. It also gave him 32 touchdowns on the season during a campaign in which he ran for 2,048 yards.

“Three backs and we all do great because of our line,” Rhea said. “It’s an honor to have them blocking for us so we can get those yards.”

Smith finished the year with 1,646 rushing yards and 22 touchdowns. With his 68 rushing yards, Garrison Lee finished with 1,628 yards on the ground. For the season, Monrovia racked up 6,368 rushing yards.

The Monrovia defense, one of the best defenses in Class 2A during 2015, limited Whiting to 236 total yards of offense. Glascow finished 12-of-25 for 137 yards but threw two interceptions playing from behind in the second half. He also led the team in rushing with 63 yards.

Thomas Davenport gave Whiting its lone score of the game, a 1-yard touchdown run in the first quarter that pulled Whiting within 7-6. He finished with 17 yards on six carries.

WHITING, Ind. (AP) – BP says it has restarted a portion of a large Indiana oil refinery whose unplanned shutdown for repairs caused gasoline prices in the region to spike earlier this month.

BP issued a news release Tuesday saying it has safely restarted a large crude distillation unit at its refinery in Whiting, 15 miles southeast of Chicago, which had been shut down since Aug. 8 for unscheduled repair work.

BP says the restart of the unit is increasing the refinery’s fuel production, with output ramping up over time. senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan says gasoline prices in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and neighboring states served by the refinery could fall 20 to 50 cents a gallon over the next two weeks as long as no new problems develop.