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Residents Still Urged to Report Flood, Severe WX Damage

The Lake County Department of Homeland Security is again urging those who sustained damaged caused by the recent severe weather, and flooding, to report the damage as soon as possible. Director Jodi Richmond says the importance of this information is vital in the process for citizens to proceed with a request for a disaster declaration for possible assistance, and timing is crucial. A link to the form to report damage is available at, and for those without internet can call 219-755-35-46.
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Newton County RX Drug Turn In Locations for Saturday

The Newton County Sheriff's Office wants to let residents know that they will be taking part in the Drug Enforcement Administration's prescription drug turn-in program this Saturday, from 10am to 2pm. All unwanted or outdated prescription drugs can be turned in at one of three Newton County locations staffed by officers: the newton County Courthouse parking lot, Kentland; Beaver Township Community Center parking lot on Polk Street in Morocco; and at the parking lot of Tru-Value Hardware in Roselawn. The program works as an important first step in keeping prescription drugs from being misused, as its abuse lead to more people dying than in automobile crashes last year.
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Authorities to Give Update in Austgen Case this Afternoon

The Griffith Police Department announced just before noon today that they, along with the representatives of the FBI, ATF, and the Gary Police Department, will hold a news conference at 3pm this afternoon at the Griffith Town hall Council Chambers to announce updates in the murder investigation of Mary Austgen. Earlier this week police announced a $10,000 reward was being offered as authorities were seeking tips in identifying a suspect or suspects in the kidnapping and murder of Austgen, who was found at a parking garage at the Majestic Star Casino in Gary with a fatal gunshot wound shortly after 2 am on March 29th. On Wednesday, the Griffith Police Department, in conjunction with the Alsip Illinois Police Department, served a search warrant at a residence in Alsip. and a subject was taken into custody for questioning.
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Deal Reached on Income Tax Cut

Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma [bahz-muh] issued a joint statement today, regarding House Bill 1001, which they say will provide a three percent individual income tax cut for Hoosier taxpayers on January 1, 2015 and an additional 2 percent cut on January 1, 2017. Long says the measure represents single largest tax cut in the history of the state. Bosma says they have reached a budget that meets their goals of “prioritizing education and road funding while maintaining strong fiscal reserves. “
Indiana Governor Mike Pence, who had sought a ten-percent reduction, called the agreement reached between his administration and legislative leaders for a 5 percent income tax cut... along with repeal of the inheritance tax ...and additional tax relief for businesses... a “great victory” for Hoosier taxpayers.

Man Dies After Being Hit by Train

Authorities say a 24-year-old Merrillville man suffered fatal injuries when he was struck by a freight train in Merrillville overnight (late Wednesday night). Merrillville Police Detective Commander Robert Wiley says at this point, the case is open and being considered a tragic accident as they continue to try to determine whether or not there was any intent of suicide. Police also say they did not find any headphones on the man or at the scene, about 200 yards west of Broadway. The Lake County Coroners office says the man was pronounced dead of blunt force trauma at an area hospital shortly after midnight. Police say he was struck at a rail crossing just a little south of 61st Avenue, in the vicinity of 66th and Broadway, and was reported to be walking along the tracks just outside of the rails. Police say the train engineer blew the horn several times and applied the brakes, but the man did not turn to look behind him and never did anything to evade the train.

Semi Driver Killed in Crash

crash one
[Photos from Indiana State Police]
A three-vehicle crash in northwest Indiana overnight claimed the life of a semi driver and sent a Valparaiso man to jail on drunk driving charges. Indiana State Police say a preliminary investigation revealed at about 2 am, a semi driver was on 911 calling in an alleged drunk driver on eastbound I-94 a couple miles west of the Indiana/Michigan state line. Troopers say the semi- driver activated his four-way emergency hazard lights as he was talking to 911. The station wagon was reportedly going on and off the road anywhere from 25 to 60 miles an hour, before stopping in the right lane, where the driver got out and started walking around. The semi stopped behind the suspect car, and the driver got out to talk to the driver of the Audi, and as the semi driver was climbing back into his semi, another semi struck his rig.
crash two
Police say 52-year-old Steven Lunn of Olympia Fields was pronounced dead at the scene of massive trauma, and the the suspect driver, identified by Indiana State Police as 47-year-old Howard Gutenstein, was not hurt and had an alleged blood alcohol content of point-13. He was jailed on charges of Operating While Intoxicated causing Death, a Class C Felony and Endangering, a Class A Misdemeanor. Police say the driver of the first semi, 37-year-old George Leeth Sr. of Hammond, was hospitalized with what police say were non-life-threatening injuries. Police say the first semi was hauling perishable food and the second semi, ethanol, but no load was lost from either.

More Info on Gas Station Holdup

Indiana State Police logo
Indiana State Police are investigating an armed robbery early this morning at the BP Gas Station at 1 South Toll Plaza, which is on the eastbound Indiana Toll Road in Portage. A preliminary investigation revealed that at approximately 3:30 a.m., a male subject described as black, 6’ 2”, wearing a gray hoodie, dark jeans, and black tennis shoes, came around the counter inside the gas station and brandished a knife at the attendant. Troopers say the employee received non-life threatening wounds to their forearm, and the suspect took about six-hundred dollars, fleeing on foot to a lot on Plaza Road in Portage, then possibly fleeing in a vehicle. Some evidence was recovered at the scene.  Anyone who may have any information about this robbery is asked to call Trooper Ronald Davidson at the Indiana State Police Toll Road at 574-206-2931.

Kingsbury Bldg Among Most Endangered

Kingsbury WinCE
The Kingsbury Ordnance Plant Employment Office in La Porte County is one of the new additions to the latest edition of Indiana Landmarks 10 Most Endangered List. Much of the ammunition fired by the allies in World War Two was manufactured at that plant, and its employment office was created by John Lloyd Wright, inventor of Lincoln Logs and son of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The building has been vacant for decades. [Photos provided by Indiana Landmarks]
The prospects of seven places on last year's list improved enough that Indiana Landmarks removed the critical label, including the House of Tomorrow in Beverly Shores, which the group says has a chance at restoration with an agreement in the works between Indiana Landmarks and the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
From Indiana Landmarks:
Kingsbury 2 WinCE
Kingsbury Ordnance Plant Employment Office
“In World War II, the allies fired millions of rounds of ammunition, much of it manufactured in a sprawling compound eight miles south of LaPorte. Built beginning in 1940, the Kingsbury Ordnance Plant employed more than 20,000 people during the war years, nearly half of them women. Every shell filler on the assembly lines passed through the Kingsbury Employment Office created by John Lloyd Wright, inventor of Lincoln Logs and accomplished designer of International-style buildings. The son of Frank Lloyd Wright lived in Long Beach, Indiana, from 1923 to 1946. Vacant for decades, the Employment Office needs a buyer who’ll renovate and use the landmark, appreciating its design and role in our national story.”
Since the first 10 Most Endangered list in 1991, Indiana Landmarks counts 12 losses among 92 historic places in severe jeopardy that have appeared on the list. The 2013 10 Most Endangered list includes seven new entries and three landmarks making repeat appearances.
New on the list:
• Anderson Athletic Park Pool, Anderson
• Bowen House in Delphi, overlooking Deer Creek
• Brookview-Irvington Park Historic District and State Boulevard, Fort Wayne
• Eagle Cotton Mill, Madison
• Flanner House Homes Historic District and Phillips Temple, Indianapolis
• Kingsbury Ordnance Plant Employment Office, Kingsbury
• Walkerton Church, Walkerton
Repeating from 2012 list:
• Harmony Way Bridge, between New Harmony and White County, Illinois
• Old Clarksville Site, Clarksville
• The Pantheon Theatre, Vincennes

Lake County Tax Vote Moved Up

There's word today that Lake County residents could learn sooner rather than later whether or not they'll be paying a new income tax. The Times reports an emergency session of the Lake County Council has been scheduled for Friday afternoon [4:30] to take a final vote on the proposed one-and-a-half percent local income tax, which has already gotten preliminary approval. The vote's been moved up reportedly because of legislation downstate that would affect how the revenues are spent and divert a percentage of new tax dollars to transportation projects of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority. By law, the current legislative session has to end by this Monday .. but there's been speculation lawmakers could wrap up tomorrow. Lake County is the only county without a local income tax.

Robbery at Toll Plaza Gas Station

Indiana State Police say the BP gas station on the eastbound Indiana Toll Road at the Portage toll plaza was robbed at knifepoint overnight. Police say the robbery, at the 21-point-7 mile marker occurred shortly after 3:30 this morning, and the suspect fled. No other information was available at this hour.


Cold Case Playing Cards Feature Region Cases

The third edition of the Indiana Department of Correction's “Indiana Cold Case Homicides Playing Cards” was released this week and they're being distributed at state prisons and to police across the state. The cards profile 52 unsolved homicides and missing persons cases each featuring information and a photo of the victim. Officials hope the cards may jar an inmate's memory or provide a clue that, when combined with other information, might provide the break investigators need to solve a case. The latest edition includes seven homicide cases out of Northwest Indiana, two from Lake County, one from La Porte County, and four cases in Newton County that include three people yet to be identified. You can view the cards online at this link:

'Pink Moon' Lunar Eclipse

Region stargazers -- a 'shallow' lunar eclipse occurs today, but it won't be visible in the United States.  You can still catch the sight online in a webcast. The April full moon is sometimes called the "Pink" full moon, says Farmers Almanac, from wild ground phlox, one of the earliest spring flowers to bloom.  Only a small portion of the moon will be covered by Earth's shadow, hence 'shallow'.  In a total lunar eclipse, when the entire moon is obscured by Earth's shadow, the moon can take on a reddish-hue due to light refracted by the Earth's atmosphere.    It is the first of three lunar eclipses occurring this year.  You can watch the partial lunar eclipse live on  The entire lunar eclipse will be visible to the unaided eye for observers in Eastern Europe, Africa, Central Asia and Western Australia.  Lunar eclipses occur when the moon, Earth and sun align, with the moon positioned on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun.

Merrillville Drainage Project to Begin

The 54th Avenue/Meadowdale improvement project in Merrillville is expected to begin within a month, and be completed within 120 days. The 638-thousand dollar contract for storm sewer construction was awarded to Gough of Merrillville at a special meeting of the Merrillville Stormwater Management Board this week. Matt Lake, Executive Director of Stormwater Utility, says the infrastructure, which is mostly drainage pipes, is crumbling, and the work will extend along 54th Avenue from Fillmore to Johnson Street, where there've been some drainage problems in about a six-block area.

Schererville Denies Home Gunsmithing

The Schererville Town Council has denied a zoning change that would have allowed a resident to provide gunsmithing services – repairing and cleaning firearms -- at his home in a neighborhood near 73rd and Burr. The man said he requested the special clearance to work from home because he can't afford the cost of renting out space in a commercial area.

GPS Signs to Help Runners and Responders

Two more Region towns have approved locator signs that display GPS coordinates for their parks and trails. The idea comes from 78-year-old Bill Pauley of Valparaiso, an avid runner who's trying to aid emergency responders in getting to remote areas of Porter County, and parks that people may know by name, but likely don't know their address. This week town councils in Porter and Chesterton signed on. Similar signs have already gone up at Indiana Dunes State Park. The county is funding cost of the signs.

Portage Bomb Threat Suspect Arrested

Portage Police say they received a report of someone handing a note to a clerk at the Walmart on US 6 last night that he was going to blow up the store, then left the business. Officers responded, and a few hours later Portage Police Chief Troy Williams posted on the police department's Facebook page that they had someone in custody in connection with the incident.

Fatal Crash Closes EB 94 Overnight

A fatal accident had all eastbound lanes of Interstate 94 not far from the Indiana/Michigan state line shut down overnight. Indiana State Police say two lanes are closed as of 5:45 am (CDT).  The crash scene is at mile marker 43, which is about three miles east of the US 20/US35 exit, east of Trail Creek in La Porte County

95 Volunteers Teamed Up 2 Clean Up Last Saturday

Team Up 2 Clean Up
(Photo Courtesy of Portage Township Parks)
Ninety-five volunteers participated in the Portage Township Team Up 2 Clean Up event on Saturday, April 20th.  “We had returning groups, new groups, and community residents participate in this year’s event” stated Joy Lundstrom, Superintendent of Portage Township Parks, “its heart-warming to see the commitment and pride all these groups have for their neighborhood parks”.
Returning volunteer groups included Brownies Troop #30003, Boy Scout Pack #487, South Haven Boys & Girls Club, Portage High School JROTC, and employees from Bounce N Around.  New volunteer groups represented were managers and employees from area Starbucks stores, St. Peter Lutheran Church Youth Group and their parents, and local community residents like Melody Palmer and friends.
Projects took place at Haven Hollow and Field of Dreams Parks in South Haven, as well as, the South Haven Volunteer Fire Department.
South Haven Boys & Girls Club members expanded the tree nursery they created last year with seedlings from Indiana DNR’s Tree program.  The Starbucks crew assisted with the project which included staking new rows, planting, and mulching seedlings.  Brownies Troop #30003 spruced up their four flower boxes at Field of Dreams Park and placed recycle bins at the park.  The Portage High School JROTC picked up debris and fallen limbs at Field of Dreams Park, raked and leveled-out fiber mulch under playground equipment at Haven Hollow Park and gathered over 30lbs of recycle trash.  (Photo attached).
St. Peter’s Youth group tidied the grounds at the South Haven Fire Department, toured the facility and mopped the fire house bay where fire trucks are parked.  Boy Scout Pack # 487 donated four rain barrels to the Portage Township Parks Department that they received from donations from Indiana American Water Company and Recycle & Waste Reduction District of Porter County.
“This is an amazing example displaying how the good works of a few groups can have such a positive impact in our Township Parks and our community”, stated Brendan Clancy, Portage Township Trustee, "we are very grateful for everyone’s participation and support”.
To learn more about these projects, the Portage Township Department of Parks and Recreation or how you can be involved, contact Portage Township Parks Department at 219.762.1623 x31.
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Windom Gets 50 More years in Prison

Aaron Windom
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A 27 year old Michigan City man today had 50 years added to his prison sentence. The Times reports last month, Aaron Windom plead guilty to murder in the shooting death of a 17 year old Gary man that took place in February of 2011. Published reports say Windom is already serving a 20 year sentence for a shooting incident that reportedly took place two days prior to that incident, and a judge has ordered the sentences be served consecutively.
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General Assembly Approves Rural Health Bill

Senator Vaneta Becker
STATEHOUSE (April 24, 2013) — A bill authored by State Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville) to improve health-care access for Indiana’s rural residents gained final legislative approval today. 
Senate Bill 554 would require the Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning to reimburse health-care providers for telehealth and telemedicine services offered to Medicaid recipients. Telehealth and telemedicine services use telecommunications and information technology to provide remote access to health assessment, diagnosis and information. Becker lauded the legwork from both houses in the bill’s final legislative passage.
“I appreciate the hard work and support that has gone into this bill, from both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Providing health care to rural residents through telehealth and telemedicine services enhances both the quality and availability of medical care,” Becker said. “This bill is a common-sense measure that enables medical providers to utilize new technology to increase overall health-care access for Indiana residents.”
SB 554 now heads to the governor to be signed into law.
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Laura-WAKE Scott-WAKE Brent-WAKE
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team


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