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Farmers Play Catch-Up

Farmers Play Catch-Up
A farmer seized the opportunity to plant corn at LaCrosse in La Porte County on May 16 during a stretch of long-awaited good weather. (Purdue Agricultural Communication photo/Jennifer Stewart)
Indiana farmers are getting caught-up, somewhat. Clearing skies and warming temperatures since early May have enabled Hoosier farmers to plant 64 percent of the corn crop as of the week ending May 19, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service said, and that's just a percentage point below the five-year-average. Frequent and heavy rains producing soggy and flooded fields in April and into the first week of May left many farmers, especially in southern Indiana, weeks behind schedule during the spring planting season. The report said most of the corn acreage last week was planted across the northern and some central Indiana counties, as soils remained too wet in southern counties to allow much progress.
But they eventually got the break they needed, with May rainfall in Indiana so far averaging 1.9 inches, 30 percent less than normal. April rainfall, by comparison, averaged near 6.5 inches, about 70 percent more than normal.  Warmer-than-normal temperatures with near-normal rainfall is expected through the remainder of May.
"This should help farmers to finally reach the planting finish line after a slow start," said Ken Scheeringa, associate state climatologist, based at Purdue University.
There has been a wide variation in May rainfall across the state the past three weeks. Northern Indiana received just a third of normal, with about 0.7 inch, while southern Indiana averaged close to 3.3 inches - about normal.
By area, 84 percent of the corn acreage so far had been planted in northern Indiana, 59 percent in the central portion of the state and 36 percent in the south.
Plants in 20 percent of Indiana's corn acreage had emerged, compared with 44 percent for the five-year average. For soybeans, 30 percent of the crop had been planted, compared with the five-year average of 36 percent. Soybeans typically are planted after corn.
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National Veterans Awareness Ride in MC

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Motorcycle riders are departing Michigan City this morning (8am) on the National Veterans Awareness Ride. They're headed southward toward Lafayette, and ultimately to the nation's capital for Memorial Day ceremonies. Riders in procession with police escort are departing American Legion Post 37 on US 20 at 8am, they will be heading southward along US 421. Motorists can expect delays and blocked intersections along US 421 at the procession passes.
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Homicide in Gary

The Lake County Coroners office says a 22-year-old Valparaiso man was pronounced dead of multiple gunshot wounds in Gary overnight, the victim of a homicide authorities say occurred in the 25-hundred block of Delaware Street. Coroners officials say Jovan Jackson was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:30 this morning. Gary Police and the Lake County Crime Lab are also investigating.
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Grants Include Sheraton Demolition

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority has approved a combined half-million dollars in grants for four projects, including 200-thousand dollars for the demolition of the old Sheraton Hotel in downtown Gary, which has stood vacant next to City Hall since the early 80s. Another 200-thousand is earmarked for a sewer lift station in Valparaiso that is also meant to help attract investment along the State Road 49 corridor. 50-thousand dollars is set aside for a documentary on regional partnerships that have contributed to the restoration of the Lake Michigan shoreline. The fourth grant, for 75-thousand dollars, is meant for one of four alternative-fuel buses to shuttle between the South Shore rail line and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
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Merrillville Case to Prosecutor

Charges are expected to filed today against a man who allegedly assaulted an off-duty Merrillville officer working as a security guard at Planned Parenthood Monday afternoon. The Major Crimes Task Force is investigating the incident, in which the officer shot the truck driver. Officials say the officer had written two parking citations for the unoccupied truck, and the driver allegedly began striking and punching the officer when the officer approached to tell him about the citations.
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New Jobs to Region?

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority is in the process of trying to bring an as-of-yet unnamed business to the Region... a company that already operates in the state, and is now eyeing Porter County, along with other midwestern sites. RDA CEO Bill Hanna says the project could be the largest his agency has been involved in, and that could mean over two-hundred new jobs for the area.   Tuesday the board authorized the potential use of its Deal Closing Fund on the project, which is currently under negotiation by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.
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Disaster Drill at Prison

Several emergency responders from Westville and La Porte County and the Indiana State Police were at the Westville Correctional Facility for a disaster drill. The Tuesday exercise featured a simulated powerhouse explosion and fire with mock injuries and wounds. The powerhouse contains huge boilers as well as a backup generator for much of the facility.
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Teen Tan Ban Approved

A teen tan ban in Illinois has moved to Governor Quinn's desk. The Illinois State Senate joined the House in banning anyone under 18 from using indoor tanning booths at a salon…even with permission from mom and dad. Senate President Christine Radogno says it’s just too dangerous…greatly raising the risk of developing skin cancer.  Teens would still be able to get a spray tan. Opponents have argued the decision is best left up to parents.
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School Superintendent Arrested

The Times reports that a meeting will be held soon with the school district's attorney and school board to discuss this week's arrest of the South Central schools superintendent on a misdemeanor battery charge. The La Porte County Sheriffs Police department reports 51-year-old Christopher Smith of La Porte is accused of physically assaulting a friend who is also co-worker following an argument after they went to Silverhawks baseball game in South Bend, then a restaurant in Michigan City on Monday.
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Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week in Indiana

Indiana DNR
Ash trees are dead and dying throughout Indiana by the thousands, costing Hoosiers millions and marring the landscape.
The killer is tiny, elusive and resilient. The emerald ash borer beetle, EAB for short, can fly, but not far. Its rapid spread is caused by humans moving the firewood in which the beetles thrive.
Memorial Day weekend travel traditionally coincides with a more sinister happening—more spread of this killer by unwary humans on summer vacation trips and weekend outings.
To remind Hoosiers and visitors to Indiana to protect forests by not moving firewood, Gov. Mike Pence has declared May 19-25 as Emerald Ash Borer Awareness Week in Indiana.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources regulates the types of firewood that can be brought onto State lands. The purpose is not only to stop spread of EAB, but also to fight the next invasive pest, which will likely travel in firewood, too. 
The DNR requires all firewood entering state properties to: (1) be accompanied by a state or federal compliance stamp allowing such movement, or (2) be kiln-dried scrap lumber, or (3) be completely debarked if brought from home within Indiana.
To fight EAB, if you plan to have a campfire, the best option is to buy firewood close to where you will burn it; don’t bring it from home. Burn wood completely before leaving your site—don’t leave wood for the next person. Buying packaged firewood bearing a state or federal compliance stamp also helps.
Extensive information about the bug and the laws regarding firewood movement is at dnr.IN.gov/entomolo/3443.htm.
Suspected EAB infestations outside of the quarantine boundaries should be reported to DNR’s toll-free Invasive Species Hotline, 1-866-NO-EXOTIC. Insecticide treatments are available to protect individual trees from EAB. Many are cost effective. See eabindiana.info.
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No Recount for MSB of Boone Twp Referendum

There will be no recount for the referendum in Metropolitan School District of Boone Township after no signatures were reportedly filed by Tuesday's deadline. The referendum asking voters to approve a property tax increase for the schools failed by just four votes, according to unofficial tallies. The school superintendent has said personnel cuts would be necessary without the additional funds
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LaPorte to Unveil New Propane Transit Vehicles Thursday

LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo announced today the addition of two environmentally friendly transit vehicles to the city's TransPorte demand/response public transportation service. Mayor Milo says the new vehicles are powered by propane, which will decrease tailpipe emissions resulting in fuel cost savings and reduced maintenance. You can take a look at the two new 15 passenger transit vehicles, which will be unveiled at a press conference tomorrow afternoon at 1:30, at the city's TransPorte building, in the 100 block of L Street.
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A Call to Create a Gulf War Memorial

donnelly
Washington, D.C.—Today, Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and John Boozman (R-AR) introduced legislation that would authorize a National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial to recognize the many Americans who served our nation during this conflict.
Donnelly said, “Over 60,000 Hoosiers served in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, so I am proud to join my friend, Senator Boozman, in introducing bipartisan legislation that would authorize a national memorial to demonstrate our appreciation for their bravery and sacrifice.  We owe all men and women who serve our nation a debt of gratitude, and those who serve in war should have their exceptional efforts recognized.  The men and women who fought in the first Gulf War, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, deserve to have their service memorialized.”
Boozmansaid, “There is no national memorial dedicated to the valor and sacrifices made by those members of our Armed Forces who honorably fought, and in some cases made the ultimate sacrifice, in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. We need to change that. This bill will clear the way for a memorial that will show a grateful nation’s respect and appreciation for those who fought to defend freedom in the Gulf War.”
The Boozman-Donnelly legislation, the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial Act, would authorize the National Desert Storm Memorial Association to establish the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial on federal lands within the District of Columbia.  No federal funds would be spent to build this memorial, as all funds would be raised privately by the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association.
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Westville Correctional Officer Arrested for Trafficking

joyce sokolowski
(Photo Courtesy of the Westville Correctional Facility)
An investigation continues after a Westville Correctional Facility officer was arrested Friday and charged with felony trafficking with an offender. 54 year old Joyce Sokolowski, of Merrillville, was found to possess tobacco and other contraband intended to be delivered to an offender. Authorities report the facility's Internal Affairs Department is still trying to determine what charges or internal disciplinary action may be taken with any offenders allegedly involved. Sokolowski has been suspended without pay.
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United Way Accepting Monetary Donations for OK Victims

OKLAHOMA CITY - The devastating May tornadoes have left most Oklahomans stunned and wondering what they could do to help. United Way of Central Oklahoma advises that monetary donations are the best way to assist. The organization activated its disaster relief fund on Monday where individuals may contribute specifically to the May tornadoes relief and recovery efforts.
“We are reactivating the disaster relief fund at the request of many of our donors and corporate partners who are seeking an efficient and accountable way to assist with the relief effort,” said Debby Hampton, President and CEO of United Way of Central Oklahoma.
Individuals may contribute online, via credit card by phone, and by mail, specifically to the May tornadoes relief and recovery efforts. At this time, PLEASE make financial donations only. If you have trouble with donating online, there are two alternative ways to give.
  1. Give online to the May Tornadoes Relief Fund located on our home page at www.unitedwayokc.org
  2. Give by credit card: call (405) 523.3598, (405) 523.3597 or (405) 236.8441
  3. Give by mailing a check to United Way of Central Oklahoma, P.O. Box 837, Oklahoma City, OK  73101 with notation for May Tornadoes Relief Fund
Fund dollars will be distributed without administrative fees to United Way Partner Agencies working on the tornado relief efforts. Agencies must clearly prove services provided and demonstrate need for financial support. Organizations that receive United Way disaster fund assistance will be evaluated and held strictly accountable. As our Partner Agencies work together to meet the immediate needs in the recovery efforts, the May Tornado Relief Fund will serve not only immediate needs, but intermediate, and long-term care for years to come.
United Way of Central Oklahoma’s Disaster Relief Fund has operated to meet needs after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the tornadoes on May 3, 1999, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and other disasters. In each circumstance, United Way has effectively and efficiently distributed donors’ dollars to serve as many people as possible while maintaining the highest level of accountability.
For more information, contact United Way of Central Oklahoma’s main number at (405) 236-8441.
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How to Help Oklahoma Citizens in Need

INDIANAPOLIS – In support of the response and recovery in Oklahoma, two Indiana agencies are advising Hoosiers to be organized in their volunteer efforts and to give money, not stuff.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Indiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (Indiana VOAD) are advising Hoosiers about how to help Oklahoma citizens in need. The destruction in Oklahoma City has left communities in need of hands-on help and donations. Volunteers play a vital part in disaster recovery.
Chris Gilbert, president of Indiana VOAD, said, “Well-meaning individuals who simply show up to help without coordinating with disaster management personnel can complicate or even hinder response and recovery operations already underway. Become part of a coordinated effort.”
Following some simple guidelines can make all the difference in the revitalizing the areas hit by a disaster. 
·         Do not just show up to the disaster area. Reach out and contact a volunteer organization.
·         Inform volunteer organizations of any specific skills or services that you can offer.
·         Get trained with a group.
·         Make sure to think through things you will need. Do not assume that resources are available at the site. These should include:
o   Appropriate clothing
o   Food and water
o   Shelter/a place to stay
John Erickson, senior public information officer for the IDHS, said, “In disaster recovery, it is best to donate money to a legitimate relief agency that you know, trust and is working in the area. Sending materials and food to areas hit by a disaster can cause problems with sorting, storage and distribution. It is best to send money rather than goods because it is more flexible. It allows volunteer organizations to more quickly obtain the supplies needed to address the most urgent needs.”
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Misdemeanor Battery Charge Against S. Central School Corp Super

christopher smith
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
The South Central School Corporation Superintendent was arrested Monday night and charged with misdemeanor battery. According to a LaPorte County Sheriff's Office incident report, 51 year old Christopher Smith is accused of physically assaulting the head of maintenance for South Central Schools, Daniel Glassman. The Times reports, an argument between the two men occurred while heading home that night following a South Bend Silverhawks baseball game and a stop at a Michigan City lakefront bar.
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Missing 15 Year Old Girl Listed as an Endangered Runaway

celesteguzman
Authorities are seeking the public's help to find a missing 15 year old girl last seen on May 9th. The Lake County Sheriff's Office says Celeste Guzman was listed today as an endangered runaway. Guzman is described as five-feet tall, weighing 145 pounds, with brown hair, brown eyes, and was last seen wearing a pink and black Notre Dame hoodie. The Sheriff's Office reports Guzman is known to frequent the Black Oak area of Gary. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Celeste Guzman is asked to contact the Lake County Sheriff's Office.
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Students Learn Drinking and Driving Don't Mix

DD Wheeler 6
(Photos Courtesy of the Porter County Substance Abuse Council)
DD Boone Grove 5
Over 15-hundred Porter County students were recently given the opportunity to experience the hazards of impaired driving. The Porter County Drunk Driving Task Force visited four high schools: Boone Grove, Morgan Township, Valparaiso, and Wheeler, helping students through a series of challenges meant to simulate a variety of impairment levels. The Porter County Substance Abuse Council says the message of not drinking and driving is especially important this time of year with students attending proms, graduations, parties and other events, and remind parents to set an example and share the message not to drink and drive.
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Honor Flight Film to Run This Evening in Schererville

Honor Flight Movie
A documentary about four living World War II veterans and a Midwest community coming together to give them the trip of a lifetime will be showing this evening for one night only. “Honor Flight, One Last Mission” shows how volunteers race against the clock to fly thousands of WWII veterans to Washington, DC to see the memorial constructed for them in 2004, nearly 60 years after their epic struggle. The film will be at 5:30pm, at the AMC Showtime Theater 12, in the 14-hundred block of Eagleridge, in Schererville, and the cost per ticket is eleven dollars. For more information about the film, visit http://www.honorflightthemovie.com.
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