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Memorial Service and Fundraiser for I-65 Crash Victims

lindsey williams
A public memorial service to honor the seven people who perished last week in a fiery three-vehicle crash on I-65 in Jasper County will be held in Munster tomorrow. At last check, the crash remains under investigation and when completed, results will be forwarded to the Jasper County Prosecutor's Office for review.   Meanwhile, fundraising efforts are underway for 27 year old Lindsey Williams and her two daughters, along with her sister and three others killed in the crash to help with the family's funeral expenses, and so far, over 12-thousand dollars has been raised, through over 400 contributors.  The memorial service will take place at noon tomorrow, in Munster, at the Family Christian Center.  For information on how to donate to the family's funeral fund, visit https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/aa3j1

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Cook Co Jail Population Increases 3.7% in 11 days

Cook County Sheriff
The population keeps growing at the Cook County Jail and if trends continue, the Sheriff's Office reports hard-earned legal successes will be jeopardized.  As of Tuesday, the Cook County Jail population stood at ten-thousand-182, a three-point-seven percent increase in just the last 11 days, and its the jail's highest population since October 11th, 2007. The Sheriff's office reports the closing of mental health clinic continues to yield a staggering amount of mentally ill individuals into the jail, typically for petty offenses.

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Owner Finds His 8 Birds Shot and Killed in Portage

portage pd
Police in Portage are investigating eight gaming birds shot and killed at a residence in the 17-hundred block of Samuelson Road.  Police report the owner informed officers that, between 3:30pm Monday and 2:30pm Tuesday, an unknown person or persons entered his property and shot his five maned geese, two mandarin ducks and one pheasant with what appears to be a low velocity round from a BB or pellet gun.  The victim stated he was raising and selling the birds and that he and other family members had been home during the time of the incident, but had not heard anything.

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ISP Conducting Sobriety Checkpoint in Jasper County

Indiana State Police logo
Indiana State Police Lowell Post report they'll be conducting a sobriety checkpoint during the late evening hours tonight in Jasper County.  Drivers encountering a checkpoint will be required to produce a valid drivers license and registration, and can expect delays of two to three minutes if everything checks out. Troopers will also be conducting roving saturation patrols, aggressively seeking impaired drivers throughout their district.

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Valpo Dome Could Go Back to City if Not Purchased

The empty dome building on Valparaiso's southeast side will be available for purchase during Porter County's tax sale on October 29th, but one-point-four million dollars in back taxes owed on the property may keep it from being bought.  If the property does not get purchased, a proposal for transfer of the building to Valparaiso could come before Porter County Commissioners, so it can be torn down and the land redeveloped.  The dome was erected in 2000, and has been empty since 2010. 
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IN July Unemployment Rate Remains at 8.4%

Indiana's unemployment rate for July remained unchanged over June but is ahead of the national average by a full one percent.  Figures released Monday by the state's Department of Workforce Development  indicate the Hoosier state's jobless rate is stalled at 8.4 percent for July. That translates to 266-thousand people looking for jobs last month.    
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MC Couple Arrested for Breaking into Storage Units

Sheryl Eaton
(Photos Courtesy of the LaPorte Police Department)

Ralph Labarr
A Michigan City couple each face felony burglary charges for allegedly breaking into storage units.  LaPorte Police report they received a call of a burglary in process at Cedar Chest Storage, in the seven-hundred block of J Street, just before 9:30 Monday morning.  46 year old Sheryl Eaton allegedly admitted to police she had cut the padlocks off several units the night before and returned with her boyfriend, 52 year old Ralph Labarr, to remove the items because she needed money.
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Efforts to Cleanup Gary Continue

In the middle of a clean-up campaign in Gary's Roosevelt neighborhood, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Councilwoman Kimberly Robinson and a number of city employees took a time out Tuesday morning for a brief press conference.   It was during that conference at Roosevelt Park Pavilion that the Gary Police Foundation presented a check for 77-hundred dollars to go toward police programs and equipment.  Also representatives from Anew Youth Development Corporation discussed the one-million dollar they were awarded to fund it's Youth Build program.  According to the group, grant dollars help target at-risk students who have dropped out of school.
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Cooperative Effort Steps-up Drug Related Arrests

LaPorte PD
The LaPorte County Metro Operations Unit in conjunction with the LaPorte City Police Department and the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office has been working tirelessly in the fight against illegal drugs in the La Porte area community.  Over the last 2 weeks Officers from these units have made 7 arrests for Heroin related offenses and more arrests are expected shortly. 

 According to a press release from La Porte Police Department,  the hard work of the combined agencies, along with tips from the community, is paramount in getting a handle on the drug issues being face. 
Without these agencies working as team and fighting these problems 24/7 residents would certainly be facing far more problems in the community. The department is 100% dedicated to the fight against illegal drugs and it vows to continue to aggressively fight this problem to help protect the citizens!  Every tip received is worked all the way to the end.  When a tip is made sometimes it takes several months of investigation before an arrest can be made. Investigators work these cases every day and they want to make sure that they get everyone who may be involved in these cases identified so that all the players involved are known. 
A single tip turn into the arrests of several dealers, which is why it is so important that we maintain a good relationship with our citizens. We always need the eyes of the public letting us know when they witness or suspect any type of illegal activity.  Please use any of the various ways of getting tips to us by calling 362-9446, using
our website www.lpcitypd.com, visiting our facebook page, all of which can be done anonymously.  
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NIRPC begins 30-day comment period Wed. in Gary

NIRPC Logo
The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) has begun a 30-day comment period for Amendment #1 to the 2014-2017 Transportation Improvement Program. This amendment adds regional transit projects in Lake, Porter, and LaPorte County. Amendment #1 is available on NIRPC’s website at www.nirpc.org.
Comments should be submitted to NIRPC Transportation Projects Monitor, Gary Evers in written form or electronic media at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by mail to: 6100 Southport Rd., Portage, IN 46368. Comments may also be submitted on the NIRPC Public Comment Line at (219)763-6060 ext. 160.
The public will also have the opportunity to provide comment on Amendment #1 at the following three public open houses:
·        Wednesday, August 21, 2013 1:00-4:00 pm, Gary Public Library, Kennedy Branch, 3953 Broadway, Gary
·        Tuesday, August 27, 2013 1:00pm-4:00pm, East Chicago Public Library, Pastrick Branch, 1008 W. Chicago Avenue
·        September 11, 2013 2:00 pm-4:00 pm, Valparaiso City Hall, 166 Lincolnway, Valparaiso
NIRPC is the Metropolitan Planning Organization and regional council of local governments for the three counties of  Northwest Indiana.  NIRPC provides the forum for local elected officials, regional, leadership, and citizens to address regional issues relating to transportation, the environment and community and economic development.  NIRPC
seeks to develop consensus solutions with the broadest participation.
For more information, please contact NIRPC at 219-763-6060. TTY users may call 711.
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State Grant funding to enhance School Safety

Indiana OAG Official Seal
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller encourages school administrators to apply for new state grant funding that will help fund School Resource Officer positions to enhance school safety.
Earlier this year the Legislature passed a new state law Zoeller had proposed and recommended, Senate Enrolled Act 1, which makes available $20 million over two years in matching grant funding to schools to fund a variety of safety efforts.  With the grant application process now open, Zoeller specifically recommends school leaders apply for matching funds to expand existing School Resource Officer positions or create new ones.  He noted that School Resource Officers are trained law enforcement officers who receive an additional 40 hours of certification in working with students in schools.
“Public safety is the number one duty of government and we must attend to public safety first.  I feel strongly that School Resource Officers are the most effective means of making the most schools safe for the most students given the funding available,” Zoeller said.  The Attorney General spoke this morning at a seminar in Wheatfield, Ind., on the Secured School Safety Grant Program where school officials learned about the grant application process.
Last year, before the Newtown tragedy, Zoeller’s office conducted a needs assessment study which found that school administrators and law enforcement officers around the state would be interested in expanding School Resource Officer programs if additional funding were available. Senate Enrolled Act 1 as passed and signed into law provides a total $20 million in matching grant funds over two fiscal years.
The grant program is administered through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and application materials are found at http://www.in.gov/dhs/securedschoolsafety.htm .  The deadline for schools to submit proposals to DHS for the first round of grants is September 30, and Zoeller encourages school officials to coordinate with their local law enforcement agencies and apply. The first round of matching grants of up to $50,000 each is scheduled to be awarded in early November. 
“Schools that already have good working relationships with their local law enforcement agencies have expressed interest in implementing School Resource Officers to facilitate a safe environment for student learning, so I urge them to pursue this grant opportunity and apply soon,” Zoeller said.
NOTE: The executive summary of the needs assessment study the Attorney General’s Office conducted last fall is attached. A schedule of upcoming DHS seminars for school officials considering applying for grants is at this link: http://www.in.gov/dhs/files/2013_Secured_School_Safety_Seminar_Flyer.pdf
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WGU Indiana: 4th year of No Tuition Increase

WGU logo
As the cost of higher education continues to increase nationwide, WGU Indiana announces it will not raise tuition for a fourth straight year. The online university has kept its tuition at $6,000 per year since its inception in 2010, making it an affordable option for those looking to go further in their education.
WGU Indiana offers more than 50 accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions including nursing.
“Degree attainment is extremely important in today’s economy as college degrees play an instrumental role in helping working adults move forward in their careers,” WGU Indiana Chancellor Allison Barber said. “We are committed to providing an affordable, flexible education option designed to meet the needs of Indiana’s adult learners—another year of steady tuition rates will help us achieve this mission.”
WGU’s innovative, competency-based education model, which earned the university a spot in Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2013, measures learning rather than the time a student spends in a classroom seat. Students earn their degrees by demonstrating mastery of subject matter, completing coursework online at any time convenient to their lives. Designed to meet the needs of adult learners, competency-based education allows students to take advantage of prior learning and experience to move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn.
  To learn more about WGU Indiana, call 877-214-7014 or visit:  http://www.indiana.wgu.edu
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“Pack-a-Palooza” will kick-off United Way Event

Day of Caring logo
United Way’s Day of Caring is an annual event that celebrates volunteerism throughout the communities it serves.  This year, it will be held on Friday, August 23rd.  Lake Area United Way will be hosting a special volunteer activity during the Day of Caring.  This event, known as “Pack-a-Palooza”, will focus on providing food for residents who are experiencing hunger locally.  “Thanks to the generous support and partnership with Strack & Van Til, BP and Kids Against Hunger, we will be able to bring over 180 volunteers together to pack 50,000 meals in 3 hours to give to the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana for distribution, ” said Lou Martinez, President/CPO of Lake Area United Way.  “It’s a rewarding and effective way for the community to join the fight against hunger.” 
Pack-a-Palooza will begin at 9:30 at the Radisson Ballroom in Merrillville, and will anchor the kick off of the 2013-2014 Community Campaign.   “The Campaign allows for so much to be accomplished, right here in our communities.  Last year alone, over 170,000 lives were positively and directly affected as a result of the generosity of region residents and the success of workplace campaigns,” said John Kennedy, Chairman of the 2013-2014 LAUW Community Campaign and Director of Business Development for American Structurepoint Inc.  “Our goal for the Campaign this year is to engage 1,000 new donors and volunteers to join United Way’s efforts to advance the common good in our communities,” said Kennedy.  “Kicking-off the Campaign at Pack-a-Palooza highlights our emphasis on increased volunteerism.  It’s a reminder that everyone can play a part, and be part of the change.”   For more information on United Way’s Day of Caring and to find information on many other volunteer opportunities throughout Northwest Indiana, please visit: www.nwivolunteer.org.

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DNR campgrounds almost full for Holiday weekend

Indiana DNR
A limited amount of campsites at Indiana state parks and reservoirs remain available for Labor Day weekend, Aug. 30 through Sept. 2. 
Last-minute planners should make reservations soon before the campgrounds are booked to capacity.
Properties with sites left are: Charlestown, Clifty Falls (non-electric only), Lincoln (non-electric and primitive only), McCormick’s Creek, O’Bannon Woods and Versailles state parks; Lieber State Recreation Area, and Salamonie (primitive only) and Deam lakes.
A three-night minimum stay is required.
Reservations can be made at camp.IN.gov or 1-866-6CAMPIN (1-866-622-6746).
Not a camper? Consider a day trip for hiking, a family gathering or a swim. Check ahead with your destination for availability of swimming and hours of operation.
Remember to make reservations for fall camping. It’s one of the most popular times of year to camp.
“October has become like the busy month of July for our parks and reservoirs,” said Christie Wilmoth of the DNR Division of State Parks & Reservoirs. “With so much to see and do at our Halloween and fall festival weekends, you won’t want to miss out on all of the activities we have planned.”
Information on state parks and reservoirs is at stateparks.IN.gov. Information on programs and special events is at InterpretiveServices.IN.gov.

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Region Homes Sales Continue to Grow

GNIAR logo
Homes in the region in July marked the 25th month of consecutive growth in year-over-year comparisons.  The Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors reports homes sales for Lake, Porter, Jasper, Newton and Starke counties combined increased by 23-point-two percent from a year ago.  To hear more of regarding July home sales, click News Audio On Demand at http://www.regionnewsteam.com/

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Pence Travels to NYC to Meet with Bond Ratings Agencies

Gov Mike Pence
Indiana Governor Mike Pence is in the Big Apple today to showcase the Hoosier state's continued fiscal strength.  Governor Pence will be meeting with Standard and Poor's, Moody's and Fitch, in New York City, to share Indiana's plans for continued fiscal leadership and economic development.  The Governor says the state's credit rating is an important part of the fiscal foundation and the strategy to attract more jobs.

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LaPorte PD Wanted Person of the Week: Jamie Hough

jamie hough
(Photo Courtesy of the LaPorte Police Department)

A 33 year old man wanted through LaPorte Circuit Court for felony battery is the LaPorte Police Department's Wanted Person of the Week. Jamie Hough is described as  white male, 6'01”, weighing 170 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes.  Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Jamie Hough is asked to contact 911. 
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70mph Speed Limit in IL for Rural Interstates

70 mph
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn approved legislation on Monday to raise the speed limit on rural interstates to 70 miles per hour. According to the Governor's Office, the six-county Chicago-region and two counties near St. Louis, would be allowed to set lower limits under the law, which starts on January 1st. The Illinois Department of Transportation, state police, and roadway safety organizations opposed the measure, arguing the increase in the speed limit will lead to more fatalities on Illinois roadways, while Governor Quinn says the measure keeps the state from falling behind other states with faster speed limits and prevents an increase in excessive speeding. Illinois transportation officials report it could cost anywhere from 150 to 200-thousand dollars to update around 900 speed limit signs.

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Martin's Attorney Files Insanity Defense

eric martin
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)

A 45 year old man who shot at officers and barricaded himself inside his home for nine-hours Wednesday is claiming insanity, according to a motion filed by his attorney Monday.  Eric Martin, of Porter County's Jackson Township, was charged Friday with six counts of felony attempted murder, seven counts of felony criminal recklessness and one felony count of aggravated battery. The incident began after officers went to the residence to question Martin about a complaint of battery by Martin against his 78 year old father.  According to the defense, Martin suffered an incident at work or illness that reportedly caused him to lose touch with reality.  The Times reports Martin was a supervisor at Bethlehem Steel, who was living with his parents on Social Security disability. The motion filed asks that Martin be transferred to the state mental hospital in Logansport or that Porter-Starke Services of Valparaiso be brought in to help him while he is being held in a padded cell at the Porter County Jail.
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Man Exposes Himself at Soldier's Memorial Park

LaPorte PD
A 58 year old New Carlisle, Indiana man could be charged with public indecency after an incident Friday at Soldier's Memorial Park in LaPorte.  Police says the adult male victim told them he was approached by the suspect in the park and after speaking, they parted ways until the victim heard someone yell and when he turned to look, saw the suspect standing across the channel completely nude.  The victim called police and left the park, only to be followed by the suspect in his vehicle.  The victim then went back to the park to wait for police, and after they arrived, the suspect drove by and was stopped by officers.  At last check, charges were being reviewed by the prosecutor's office.

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