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Hammond 2nd Dist Councilman Pleads Guilty to Bribery, Tax Charge

Al Salinas
A 52 year Hammond City Councilman had his guilty plea accepted today in U-S District Court for federal bribery and tax charges. 2nd District Councilman Alfonso Salinas pleaded guilty to one-count of accepting over ten-thousand dollars from the owner of Dave's Tree Service to steer city work in their direction, and to one-count of failing to file a tax return for the 2006 tax year. As a result of his plea, the Councilman's seat is now considered vacant due to the federal bribery charge, which carries a 10 year prison sentence and a 250-thousand dollar fine. He could face one-year in prison and a 100-thousand dollar fine for failing to file a tax return, and must pay over 20-thousand dollars in restitution to the I-R-S.
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7th Annual Indiana Fallen Officers Blood Drive Starts Tuesday

Indiana State Police logo
The Indiana Fallen Officer's Blood Drive began this month with the first donation site in the Lowell District slated to start tomorrow. The blood drive began as a way to keep alive the memory of Sergeant Dan R. Starnes, of the Morgan County Sheriff's Department, who lost his life during a line of duty gun battle in 2001. In 2007, that blood drive was taken statewide by Starnes's wife, and renamed, with donation sites located in nearly every county across the state. Blood donations will take place tomorrow, from 2 to 4pm, at the Jasper County Hospital Conference Room Basement, in Rensselaer. More blood drives are scheduled in June, and here is a list of dates and locations:
Jasper June 7th, 2013 12P-6P St. Luke Lutheran Church, 704 E. Grace
Rensselaer
Lake June 4th, 2013 9A-3PM Lake Co. Government Center-Sheriff
Department 2293 N Main, Crown Pt
Lake June 5th, 2013 9A-3PM Same location
Starke June 4th, 2013 12P-6PM Knox Community Center, East
Lake St, Knox
Newton June 19th, 2013 3P-7PM Newton Co. Fallen Officers, 12100
Punkin Vine, Kentland
Newton July 12, 2013 1:30P-6:30 PM Kentland Community Center, 401 N
4th, Kentland
Porter June 11th, 2013 12P-6PM Porter Co Expo Center, 215 E
Division, Valparaiso
Porter June 23rd, 2013 9A-2PM Nativity of Our Savior Parish Hall
2949 Willowcreek Rd, Portage
Pulaski June 11, 2013 3P-7PM Pulaski Co Sheriff Dept, 110 E
Meridian, Winamac
Pulaski June 26, 2013 11:30A-5:30 PM Knights of Columbus, 340 E
50 N, Winamac
LaPorte June 21st, 2013 9A-2PM LaPorte Co Annex, 809 State St
Laporte
Indiana Blood Facts:
• 1,000 units of blood are needed daily in Indiana
• Each unit of blood donated helps in three different ways:
o Red Cells
o Platelets
o Plasma
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Superload Traveling SB I-65 Toward SR-24, Remington

Oversized load I-65   05-13-13
Two semis in the far right lane/shoulder hauling a super load as seen looking southbound I-65 just past US-231 Crown Point exit.
(photo courtesy of INDOT) 
A number of traffic tipsters are reporting two semis hauling a super load are causing slowdowns and backups southbound on I-65 approaching the US-231 Crown Point exit.  Indiana State Police at the Lowell post, confirm that a superload is moving through the Region on I-65 toward the State Road 24, the Remington.Monticello exit.  Drivers should be alert to slowing vehicles and merge safely into the left lane.
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US Marshals Fugitive of the Week: Richard D. McClure

MCCLURE
(Photo Courtesy of the US Marshals Service)
A 45 year old man wanted by the Porter County Sheriff's Department for probation violation and dealing in a narcotic drug is the U-S Marshals Service, Great Lakes Task Force, “Fugitive of the Week”. Richard D. McClure is described as a white male, six-feet tall, weighing 210 pounds, with brown hair, blue eyes, with a tattoo of a devil on his left arm and a panther on his right arm. Richard McClure was last known to reside in the 42-hundred block of West 41st Avenue, in Gary, and in the 100 block of North 750 West, in Valparaiso. Anyone with information on Richard McClure's whereabouts may contact task force investigators by calling toll-free (888) 805-6119 or by texting “capture” to Tip411 (847411). All tipsters will remain anonymous.
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Munster, Muncie Banks to Merge

firstmerchants
A bank merger making news in the Region today. First Merchants Corporation out of Muncie and Munster-based CFS Bancorp have announced plans to merge Citizens Financial Bank into First Merchants Bank. The transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2013, subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals. The combined company, doing business as First Merchants Bank expects to complete the integration during the first quarter of 2014, with nearly 100 banking offices in twenty-six Indiana counties, and two counties in Illinois and Ohio.
First Merchants and CFS will have combined assets of $5.4 billion and create the second largest financial holding company headquartered in Indiana. The combined company will have nearly 100 banking offices in twenty-six Indiana counties, as well as two counties in both Ohio and Illinois.
Michael C. Rechin, President and Chief Executive Officer of First Merchants, said, “Like First Merchants, Citizens has a long history of deep-rooted commitment to community banking and we are excited that it will become the newest member of the First Merchants family. We believe that our strategy to be a service-driven alternative to our super-regional bank competitors will support the acceleration of the Citizens’ current initiatives while furthering our goal of becoming a more efficient higher performing company. The Citizens franchise is a logical geographic extension for us given the 20-mile proximity of our nearest branch locations. Citizens’ markets in Northwest Indiana, and specifically Valparaiso, Merrillville, Schererville, Crown Point and Munster, are very similar to Lafayette, Plainfield and Greenwood Indiana markets. We believe our partnership will provide our business and consumer customers with broader services, greater access and expanded product offerings, while maintaining our legacy of local community banking.
Details at:
https://www.firstmerchants.com/latest_news/citizens
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Valpo 5-Points Roundabout Update

valporoundaboutfivepoints
The city of Valparaiso says the contractor’s tentative schedule is to begin construction of the five-points roundabout on May 13th, which will require the closure of Roosevelt Road. Traffic on Roosevelt will be detoured.  For details, visit the city's website at this link:
http://www.ci.valparaiso.in.us/index.aspx?NID=1243
The roundabout is scheduled to be complete by the fall. The work will take place in phases, so the entire intersection won't be shut down. To hear Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas discuss the roundabout project, visit Region Newsmakers here at our website.  You can also  hear our interview with Valparaiso City Engineer Tim Burkman on the five-points roundabout at News Audio on Demand here at our website.
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School Closed Due to Water Main Break

Breaking News
David Harmon of Portage Schools has announced that Paul Saylor Elementary will be closed today due to water main break.  No other details are available at this hour.
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No Suspects in Quadruple Homicide

Investigators say right now they have no suspects in a quadruple homicide in a rural Indiana home in Waynesville, about fifty miles south of Indianapolis, over the weekend. In a news conference yesterday (Sunday), Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett said officials received a 9-1-1 call Saturday night, the caller saying he lived at the residence with his mother and stepfather. "Dispatchers had the caller leave the residence until officers arrived at the scene," Gorbett said.  Authorities discovered the bodies of three men in the living room of the house as well as the homeowner in the bedroom all with gunshot wounds.
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New Park Planned for Munster

A new park is being planned for Munster, in an area where some older homes stand now. The town is acquiring some duplexes and a few single-family homes along Manor Avenue, between Ridge Road and Broadmoor, with the intent of putting in some green space in the northwest part of town, a park that'll include a community garden and playground.
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LOFS Clubhouse Damaged

The clubhouse at Lakes of the Four Seasons was damaged Sunday. According to the Lakes of the Four Seasons Fire Force, a resident accidentally put his car into reverse, and the vehicle crashed into the building. There were no reports of injuries. Crown Point's Fire Department was at the scene to help get the vehicle out of the structure.
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Officer Injured in Crash

A Merrillville police officer was treated and released for injured sustained in a motor-vehicle accident as he was responding to a call Saturday night, authorities say. A spokesperson for the Lake County Sheriffs Department says the officer was heading south on Taft Street with emergency lights on when he swerved to avoid hitting a vehicle that pulled out from 65th Avenue, and the police car jumped the curb, hit a tree and flipped.
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Two Hurt in La Porte Co Crash

A single-vehicle crash on I-94 in La Porte County Sunday afternoon sent two women to the hospital with injuries. Indiana State Police say a preliminary investigation revealed that at approximately 2 pm a westbound car one mile west of the LaPorte exit was in the middle lane when an SUV made an abrupt lane change from the right lane to the middle lane causing the first driver to swerve and lose control, striking the concrete wall twice before going across all lanes of traffic. Troopers say two women, age 57 and 61 from Lake County, were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, and police say having their seatbelts on, along with the airbags deploying, greatly reduced the severity of injuries. Police say the SUV continued west bound without stopping.
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Bullet Strikes Vehicle on I-65

Indiana State Police say just before seven-thirty Sunday night, a pickup truck about thirteen miles north of Lafayette was struck by a bullet on I-65. A preliminary investigation revealed the four-door vehicle with three occupants was northbound when the bullet entered the front right passenger door window, traveled through the cab area, and exited out the rear window on the driver's side. No one in the truck was injured. State Police are trying to determine whether anyone might have been target shooting in the area, and the investigation is continuing.
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Homicide in Hammond

Hammond Police are investigating a fatal shooting. The Lake County Coroners office says 21-year-old Jeffrey Morgan of Hammond suffered gunshot wounds and died at the scene, in the 600 block of Sibley, just before 1:30 am Sunday. Authorities say the shooting occurred inside a house where a party was being held with about fifty people present.
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Proposed Budget Increase for PNC

A public hearing and vote are scheduled later this month on a proposed budget for fiscal year 2014 that reduces spending at the Purdue Calumet campus in Hammond by more than two-percent, and provides increases for Purdue North Central in Westville. The nine-point-four increase for PNC includes debt-service funds for a student services-activities complex. The spending plan for the West Lafayette campus would decrease by just over two-percent. Purdue President Mitch Daniels says the budget proposal was designed to “keep Purdue affordable for students and families, ensure the continued high quality of a Purdue education and use internal savings to cover the frozen tuition at West Lafayette and balance the budgets at the regional campuses.” The proposal moves to the Board of Trustees' Executive Committee, which will take a final vote on the plan following a public hearing on proposed tuition and fees Wednesday, May 22.
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Visclosky Named 'Champion of Science'

visclosky
Region Congressman Pete Visclosky is one of 28 members of Congress to be named a “Champion of Science” by the Science Coalition, a non-profit group of fifty US research universities that advocate for federal investment in scientific research.
“Americans have long recognized the vital role that scientific research and innovation play in fostering economic growth and job creation,” Congressman Visclosky said. “We must not forget that local investments in science and technology development like Purdue University Calumet’s Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation have the potential to create not only new jobs, but new businesses and new industries that benefit all of us. We need to invest in our future to strengthen our manufacturing base and build upon it.”
The First Congressional District is also home to the Center on Logistics, Distribution, and Transportation at Ivy Tech, the Purdue Technology Center, and several key regional institutions of higher learning, including Purdue University North Central, Purdue University Calumet, Valparaiso University, and Indiana University Northwest. 
Visclosky is also a 2011 recipient of the Gerald I. Lamkin Fellow Award for Outstanding Achievement for Innovation & Service, the top individual award of The Society of Innovators. 
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Letter Carriers 'Stamp Out Hunger'

stampout
Letter carriers around the Region and the country are encouraging their postal customers to help them 'stamp out hunger' as part of the National Association of Letter Carriers "Stamp Out Hunger" Food Drive today (Sat May 11, 2013), the largest one-day food drive in the world. Over the past twenty years, the effort has resulted in the delivery of more than one-point-three billion pounds of donations to community food banks and pantries.  Included in that amount is 170-thousand pounds shared by the Portage Township and Nativity of Our Savior Parish food pantries in the Portage area.   Those wishing to participate are asked to leave non-perishable food items attached to or beneath their mailboxes today.  Please do not include items that are expired or are in glass containers.
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Off-Road Vehicles a Concern in Merrillville

The town of Merrillville is considering its options concerning off-road vehicles. Town Council President Carol Miano says they've gotten multiple complaints about people riding dirt bikes near railroad tracks on Taft Street. Safety and noise issues have been raised. Miano has proposed an ordinance prohibiting the use of off-road vehicles on public properties as well as residential and agricultural areas of town.
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Funeral Monday for Former Mayor Billings

Visitation is Sunday with funeral services Monday for Armed Forces veteran, former judge, and former Mayor of Valparaiso, Bryce Billings. Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas says he admired the former mayor for making a lot of tough decisions to grow the borders of Valparaiso in a uniform fashion. Billings was among those instrumental in developing cable television service in Valparaiso, when the industry locally was in its infancy, along with Radio One Communications founder Leonard Ellis. Billings was appointed to the bench of the Superior Court where he served from 1976 until his retirement in 1988. he was also instrumental in founding the Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County in 1971.  Moeller Funeral Home says visitation for Bryce Billings will take place Sunday, from 1 to 4pm, at the funeral home, with a funeral service scheduled for Monday morning, at 10:30, at Heritage Lutheran Church in Valparaiso. Billings served as Mayor of Valparaiso from 1968 through 1972.  Billings passed away last Monday, May 6, at Porter Regional Hospital at the age of 88.
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Lake Tax Takes Effect in Fall

No veto from the Lake County Commissioners, so Lake County becomes the 92nd out of 92 counties in Indiana to have a local income tax, and it takes effect this October. Commissioner Gerry Scheub made multiple motions to veto ordinances for the tax, but each motion failed to get a second from either of the other two commissioners, Michael Repay and Roosevelt Allen, Jr..  There had been widely publicized speculation, based on earlier published comments by Repay that he could not support the tax, that the income tax would be vetoed by commissioners during the board's special meeting early Friday. Early in the week, the Lake County Council voted four-to-three to approve a one-and-a-half percent local income tax for county residents and out-of-staters who work in Lake County.
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