(This piece was originally published on December 9, 2017 in the Northwest Indiana Times.)

Michigan City resident Jeanette Neagu and the Dunes Action group have received awards from the Hoosier Environmental Council.

Neagu received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her more than six decades as an environmental advocate.

She served as chair of the Indiana League of Women Voters Natural Resources Committee for years and is a board member and past president of the Lake Michigan League of Women Voters.

Neagu has been active with Save the Dunes since 1955 and is a past president.

Neagu’s advocacy on above-ground storage tanks — inspired by a chemical spill in Charleston, West Virginia, in 2014 — led to new state protocols for assuring the safety of drinking water against chemical tank spills.

“There has never been a time more important than now to protect our planet from human degradation,” Neagu said. “The best way to honor an activist is to be an activist. Let us all maximize our efforts to see that our state does not step backward but move forward to assure the next generations can enjoy our waters, forests, prairies and drink water, breathe air without fear of contamination.”

Dunes Action was named Frontline Advocate of the Year.

The group was formed in February 2015 following news of an Indiana Department of Natural Resources lease with a private developer, Pavilion Partners LLC, that could have opened the door not only to a refurbished pavilion but also an adjacent banquet center.

“In spite of many hurdles, we’re continuing our efforts to stop commercialization at the state park, and to advocate for transparency and community input,” said Jim Sweeney, cofounder of Dunes Action.

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