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Commissioners Move Toward Opening 3rd Pod

jailoverview
Porter County officials are moving forward on getting the third pod at the county jail up and running to help relieve overcrowding. Porter County Commissioners held a special meeting Wednesday and agreed to hire DLZ engineering to evaluate what's needed to open that section of the jail. Last week the county council voted 4-to-3 against funds to pay for additional jailers to staff the pod, but there's word the council is expected to revisit the request and resolve the issue by the time the final budget hearing happens later this month (Oct 22) The jail on State Road 49 opened in 2002, but the third of its three pods has never been opened due to staffing constraints. [Photo/PorterCounty Sheriffs Office]...
 

New Voter Forms Meant to End 'Hoarding and Dumping'

connie lawson
Secretary of State Lawson
The state has new voter registration forms meant to decrease voter fraud and end the “hoarding and dumping” of applications, according to Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, who says the improved forms will create a “custody trail” . Lawson says in previous elections they've had forms submitted for Jimmy Johns and Mickey Mouse, and most of the time these applications are mixed in with legitimate ones collected by groups registering large numbers of voters then turned into the county voter registration offices just before the deadline. The new forms include a section for individuals who collect the applications to document their name and other info, and newly-registered voters will also receive a receipt with the name and address of the person who took “custody” of the application and when.
“By creating a custody trail, we are providing county clerks with the tools they need to stop fraudulent registrations that undermine the integrity of our election process,” said Secretary Lawson
If a person’s application is given to another person, but for whatever reason never arrives at a county voter registration office, Lawson says the changes will help the county assist that person in registering to vote. The additional information required by the new form can also help the county voter registration office identify any patterns of suspicious activity or clear violations of election law.
The new Indiana voter registration forms also remind groups and individuals who register voters of their own responsibility to protect the election process and prevent disenfranchisement of voters who have placed their trust in these groups or individuals. By putting their name on the application, individuals collecting voter registration forms will be more likely to review the application to ensure it is correctly filled out and filed in a timely manner, according to Lawson's office.
Individuals collecting voter registration applications who receive an application they believe to be false or fraudulent are now required to submit the application to the appropriate county election office with a statement sworn to under penalties of perjury, indicating why they believe the application to be fraudulent, to alert county officials that a violation of election law may have occurred. 
Also, beginning with next year’s election, all applications collected from another person must be turned into the county voter registration office or the Indiana Election Division no later than noon 10 days of receipt of the application or the deadline to submit applications under state law, whichever occurs first.
The changes in the voter registration process were enacted by the 2013 Indiana General Assembly as part of Senate Enrolled Act 519. The updated forms were approved by the bi-partisan Indiana Election Commission, with assistance from the bi-partisan Indiana Election Division under the guidance of co-directors Brad King and Trent Deckard. ...
 

UPDATE: Crash at State Road 49 and 600 North

Traffic-Advisory
Porter County Sheriffs Police are reporting no life-threatening injuries at this time in a two-vehicle crash that resulted in delays on northbound State Road 49 around 6-o'clock this morning. The collision occurred at the intersection of County Road 600 North, which is just north of Valparaiso. Vehicles were reportedly backed up for about six-miles, down to US 30....
 

Crash on State Road 49 North of Valparaiso

Traffic-Alert
Multiple emergency responders are on scene at a motor vehicle accident on the northbound side of State Road 49 at the intersection of County Road 600 North, which is just north of Valparaiso.  No other information is available at this hour.  We are getting reports of long backups in the area....
 

Company to Lead Strategic Planning for IN Schools Chosen

An out-of-state company was chosen today to advise the State Board of Education's strategic planning process over the next three years. Massachusetts-based Center of Educational Leadership and Technology's bid was chosen by the Board's panel over the Indiana Youth Institute, Indianapolis-based Thomas P. Miller Miller and Associates, and the National Association of State Boards of Education. A decision by the full State Board of Education to accept the company's goals takes place in February....
 

Gary Settles Lawsuit with Majestic Star Casinos

The City of Gary has settled a five-year old lawsuit with Majestic Star Casinos and a land trust and is expected to receive 13-point-five million dollars over the next 12 to 18 months. During a special meeting Tuesday, the city's Common Council approved the settlement resolution, which the city's attorney says was done to prevent further litigation. The agreement still needs to be signed by casino officials and approved by Gary's Redevelopment Commission. At issue was a local development agreement between the two over an access road that travels over the Wisconsin Central and Norfolk-Southern railroad lines. Majestic Casino thought Gary was in violation of the local development agreement, so they put the money owed into an escrow account. ...
 

Teen Arrested for Threatening to Shoot Students

portage pd
A Portage High School student was arrested today for intimidation and taken to the Juvenile Detention Center after a fellow student informed school officials the teen was talking about bringing a gun to school and shooting students who were “arrogant and self-righteous”. Portage Police say the student in question, a sophomore, was brought to the office and an inquiry revealed he was not in possession of any gun, but claimed access to one at home. Police reportedly searched the teen's bedroom and did not find a gun, but his parent's reported having a gun under lock and key and that the child does not have access to it. Police Chief Troy Williams commended the student who initially reported the threat, as well as the swift action taken by school officials, and urged parents to talk with their children with regards to the importance of reporting a threat they may hear and to also monitor their children for changes in behavior that warrant a concern. ...

 

Frontier's Portion of the 5 Points Project Ends Friday

frontier
Frontier Communications announced today they anticipated having their portion of the road project at the Five-Points in Valparaiso completed this Friday. Frontier's General Manager Todd Pence says they invested almost 245-thousand dollars in capital funds to move existing fiber and copper networks, which began back in August at the Five-Points intersection of Vale Park, Calumet and Roosevelt Roads, at the request of the City of Valparaiso.
Pence says most of their work just required digging a new trench a few feet over from the existing trench and transferring the cable fiber over to it. Pence says, “this new project will enable construction of a safer pedestrian path, new storm water and sewer system, and a two-lane roundabout for the community of Valparaiso.”...
 

Schneider National to Host Three Job Fairs in Gary

City of Gary
One of the nation's largest truck load carriers has joined forces with the City of Gary to bring more employment opportunities to residents. The collaboration is part of the city's “New Day, New Jobs Initiative” and Schneider will be hosting three jobs fairs before the end of the year at the WorkOne office in Gary. Schneider reports they are primarily looking for truck drivers and mechanics in the Gary area and that they are offering a five-thousand dollar signing bonus for over-the-road drivers.
The job fairs will take place on the following dates and times:
October 17, 2013
November 14, 2013
December 12, 2013
10:00a.m. – 2:00p.m.
WorkOne Office
3522 Village Circle (located in the Village Shopping Center)
Gary, IN
Applicants are asked to wear interview attire, bring a resume and proof of CDL certification if interested in the truck driver positions....
 

Indiana Tax Climate 10th Best in the Nation

For the first time ever Indiana has cracked the top ten in a national survey of business taxes. The National Federation of Business today released its 2014 State Business Tax Climate survey where Indiana ranked 5th in property taxes, 10th in personal income taxes, 11th for sales taxes and 13th for unemployment insurance taxes. The only tax for which Indiana did not place in the top 15 was the corporate tax where it ranks 24th. Indiana Governor Mike Pence called the tax rankings further evidence that the Hoosier state is on the right track.
The 10 best states in this year’s Index are Wyoming, South Dakota, Nevada, Alaska, Florida, Washington, Montana, New Hampshire, Utah and Indiana. To read the full report, visit http://taxfoundation.org/article/2014-state-business-tax-climate-index...
 

Woman Injured in Portage Township Crash

portage twp crash
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A woman suffered multiple injuries after she was ejected from her vehicle during a crash this morning at US 6 and County Road 450 West in Portage Township. The Times reports the woman was heading east on US 6 and failed to stop for a red light, striking a southbound vehicle on 450 West, causing the vehicle to hit a northbound school bus on 450 West. According to the article, the woman sustained a head injury and complained of pain to her torso, but police reported it appeared her injuries were non-life threatening. No other injuries were reported and no children were on the school bus at the time of the crash, which occurred just before 9am....
   

Former Wanted Person of the Week Arrested

amanda hanley
(Photo Courtesy of LaPorte Police)
A 29 year old LaPorte woman, who had been listed as the LaPorte Police Department's “Wanted Person of the Week” last week, surrendered herself to law enforcement on Tuesday. LaPorte Police report Amanda Hanley had been wanted on a warrant from LaPorte Circuit Court for felony theft....
   

Earlier Vehicle Fire Backing up the Borman

Earlier Vehicle Fire Backing up the Borman 
A traffic tipster reporting a vehicle on fire heading westbound on the Borman (I-80/94) just past the Grant Street exit initially came in shortly before 1p.m. CDT Wednesday.

INDOT reports the fre has been extinguished wih the vehicle moved to the right shoulder as fire equipment continues to block the right lane of westbound I-80/94 near Burr St. .  Drivers should expect about 20-minute delays with westbound lanes of the the Borman backing up to I-65.  Also, northbound traffic on I-65 is backing up on the connector ramp to westbound I-80/94, drivers should expect backups and delays.  

Earlier Vehicle Fire Backing up the Borman 
(Top photo:  vehicle earlier reported on fire and extinguished is off on the right shoulder of westbound I-80/94 near Burr Street.  Bottom photo:  westbound I-80/94 (Borman) backing up from I-65 and the northbound I-65 entrance ramp to westboud I-80/94 is backing up as well, due to the right lane closed near Burr St.)

(photos:  INDOT traffic cams)


   ...

   

CMAP Board Votes Against Illiana Expressway

The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, or “CMAP” board today voted ten-to-four to NOT include the Illiana Expressway in its Go To 2040 Plan. The vote is non-binding and the issue comes up for another vote before CMAP's Metropolitan Planning Organization next week. Meanwhile, in northwest Indiana, NIRPC has four open houses scheduled next month on the proposed east-west highway that would connect I-65 in south Lake County to I-55 in Illinois. NIRPC has votes scheduled in December on whether or not to include the project in its 2040 plan. Putting it in the plan pushes it forward for federal funding....
   

Traffic Detour on Colorado Street

Traffic-Advisory
11am - A traffic tipster reports to us that traffic is being detoured off of Colorado Street in Hobart south of US 30, in the area of construction at the new TradeWinds facility on East 83rd Place.  The tipster tells us motorists are being detoured to Clay or Mississippi Street....
   

Hammond Groundbreaking for Munster Steel

Munster Steel is breaking ground on its new facility in Hammond today. In 2011 the steel fabrication firm announced plans to move their headquarters from 45th and Calumet to West Point Plaza Industrial Park, near White Oak and Gostlin. Munster Steel, a family-run company founded in the 50s, says it will retain its name. ...
   

La Porte Teen Killed, Another Injured in Crash

Officials say a 17-year-old boy from northwest Indiana was killed and another teenager was injured in a two-vehicle crash near the La Porte/St.Joseph County line Tuesday afternoon. Authorities say Skyler Kleine of La Porte died in the collision, and 19-year-old passenger Aaron Oaks of La Porte, was transported to a South Bend hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the semi was said to be uninjured. St. Joseph County Police say the teens were in a car that apparently went through a stop sign on County Line Road/900 East at a high rate of speed and crashed into the trailer of a semi on State Road 2. Police say the impact caused the trailer tires to lift off the ground and roll over the car....
   

NIPSCO Announces Winter Heating Bill Forecast

nipscogrid
Northern Indiana Public Service Company says heating bills this winter may be about one-percent higher than last, assuming normal winter temperatures. In its annual forecast announced Tuesday, NIPSCO said the average residential customer using a total of 624 therms over the course of the five-month winter heating season, November first through March 31st, could expect to pay about 437-dollars, four-dollars more than a customer using the same amount of natural gas last winter.
Here is more information from NIPSCO:
Over the course of the five-month winter heating season – Nov. 1 to March 31 – NIPSCO’s average residential customers using a total of 624 therms could expect to pay approximately $437. This compares to $433 for a customer using the same amount of gas during last winter.
NIPSCO’s projections take into market forecasts, supply trends and storage levels, among other considerations.
NIPSCO has among the lowest residential gas bills in Indiana, according to bill comparisons released monthly by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).
Actual bills vary by customer depending on the home’s age and size, number in the household, number and age of gas appliances, thermostat settings and insulation levels.
“Natural gas continues to be one of the lowest-cost, most reliable and abundant energy sources for customers,” said NIPSCO CEO Jim Stanley. “The outlook on natural gas prices and domestic supplies remain stable for the foreseeable future, which is great news as we head toward the winter heating season.”
While winter bill amounts are projected to be relatively flat compared to last winter, the company expects usage amounts to be slightly higher. Last winter’s actual usage amounts were lower than normal due to warmer temperatures during some months.

The cost of natural gas represents the largest portion of customer bills – on average, two-thirds of an overall bill. NIPSCO has no mark-up and makes no profit on the cost of natural gas billed to its customers. Before billing, natural gas commodity costs must be reviewed by the IURC.
While NIPSCO cannot control market conditions affecting the price of natural gas, the utility does negotiate the best possible price for the natural gas it purchases for its customers.
NIPSCO’s purchasing strategy is a multi-faceted approach that consists of buying gas in the market from a variety of supply sources at different times throughout the year. The ability to utilize gas storage helps to offset market price volatility.
NIPSCO’s gas distribution system consists of three on-system storage facilities and connects to seven interstate pipelines providing access to eight major North American supply basins.
Billing and Payment Options Customers who are experiencing financial difficulties are encouraged to call NIPSCO’s 24-hour Customer Care Center as soon as possible to determine what options might be available to offer help. Some of those solutions include:
Payment Assistance Programs: Based on income levels, customers may qualify to receive state and federal utility assistance dollars as well as support funds from separate NIPSCO programs by visiting their local community action agency.
BudgetPlan: A free service to all NIPSCO customers to help manage their monthly energy bills by spreading out gas costs over an entire year.
Payment Arrangements: Allows customers to make an initial payment within four days of the agreement, then spread the remaining unpaid balance over three months, plus current bills as they are due.
For more information on billing options and payment assistance, visit NIPSCO.com/PaymentAssistance.
Energy and Money Saving Programs
Through NIPSCO’s energy efficiency programs, customers can pinpoint ways to manage their energy usage, and in turn their bills. A full list of programs available to NIPSCO customers to help manage energy use can be found at NIPSCO.com/SaveEnergy.
Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) has served the energy needs of Northern Indiana since 1912. Headquartered in Merrillville, NIPSCO is one of the seven energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc (NYSE: NI). With more than 821,000 natural gas customers and 468,000 electric customers, NIPSCO is the largest natural gas distribution company, and the second largest electric distribution company, in the state. NiSource distribution companies serve 3.8 million natural gas and electric customers primarily in seven states. More information about NIPSCO is available at NIPSCO.com....
   

Gov Pence: Indiana Can Weather the Shutdown

Gov Mike Pence
Indiana Governor Mike Pence says Indiana can weather the federal government shutdown.  Here is an op-ed piece submitted by Governor Pence:
As the federal government shutdown enters its second week, Hoosiers should know that Indiana will be able to mitigate the impact and continue to meet our obligations to those who support our National Guard and to our most vulnerable citizens.
At midnight on Tuesday, October 1, federal funding for many critical programs lapsed and the federal government partially shut down. Employees of the Indiana National Guard whose pay comes from the federal government were put on furlough, and new federal funding for programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Women, Infants and Children program (WIC) stopped.
On that first day of the federal shutdown, I ordered the Indiana National Guard to continue paying the 244 federally-reimbursed employees who provide support to the Guard. I consider the cost of approximately $33,000 a day a small price to pay for ensuring Indiana is prepared to handle any emergency.  I am grateful that most of these employees have now been recalled to work, but we stand ready to take care of those who serve by making sure they have all the support they need. 
Indiana’s most vulnerable also are at risk due to the disruption in federal funding.  We have 931,737 Hoosiers who receive SNAP food assistance and 27,560 who receive TANF.  The WIC program helps another 280,000 Hoosiers provide nutritious food for their infants and children. The federal shutdown jeopardizes these programs and threatens those who most need assistance. Since Indiana has administered those programs in a responsible manner, we have funds available to continue both SNAP and WIC through October and TANF through November, if need be.  We will assess our resources and look at options for providing those services to Hoosiers should the shutdown go on longer.
While activity in Washington, D.C. has ground to a halt, Indiana will keep moving forward. We are investing in schools, pushing our career and technical education initiatives, and making our economy more competitive. We can do those things right here in Indiana with state resources and the help of talented Hoosiers from across the state.
Like every Hoosier, I am frustrated over this government shutdown, and I will continue to urge this administration to seek common ground with Congressional leaders to reopen the government as soon as possible. In the meantime, Hoosiers will be glad to know that Indiana has the resources to weather this shutdown and mitigate the impact on our people and our economy....
   

Region Students Take Part in Walk to School Day

walkbiketoschool
Today (Oct 9)  is International Walk to School Day. Organizers say it's a day that teaches about the health and environmental benefits of walking.  Bryan Bodamer is the parent chairman of Walk to School Day at Lake Street Elementary in Crown Point. Bodamer says when it comes to getting the kids to walk, Lake Street is like most schools in the region, with a few walkers, but mostly parents who drop their kids off or bus riders, "our goal is to give those kids an opportunity to have a day of walking to school," and to promote the exercise benefit.  Bodamer also says more students are participating in the event that's in its sixth year. "The kids have always been excited about it," Bodamer says, and when they started they had maybe 42-percent participation and last year went up to about 65-percent.  He says participants can participate by riding their bikes to school too.  The website walkbiketoschool.org shows schools in more than 70 communities around the state signed up for walk to school events.  You can hear Jay Stevens' interview with Bodamer online here at our website at News Audio on Demand....
   

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