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Pelath: Governor's Agenda Overlooks Middle Class

Representative Pelath
Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath of Michigan City is critical of the Governor's recently announced legislative agenda for 2014.  Pelath says he agrees with the governor on improving crumbling infrastructure, but says "the vast majority of tax breaks being proposed are being lavished on corporate board rooms and not families".  One major point of contention already brewing between parties is Governor Pence's proposal to phase out the personal property tax businesses pay on equipment.
State Representative Pelath's statement:
"From an initial look at his agenda, the Governor is not offering a striking vision of where Indiana needs to go.
"I agree that we must improve our state's crumbling infrastructure, and I applaud his desire to help families with child care.
"But as I look at the scope of these proposals, I wonder how he plans to reconcile new spending with his own reputation as a rabid fiscal conservative. I also wonder how fellow Tea Party politicians will react to any deterioration of their precious state surplus, which they value more than the prosperity of our citizens.
"And I cannot help but think that this agenda continues the recent tradition of leaving our state's middle class by the side of the road.
"Consider that once again, the vast majority of tax breaks being proposed are being lavished on corporate board rooms and not families. Despite recent improvements in Indiana's unemployment rate, our state still lags behind the rest of the country, and it is becoming rapidly apparent that consistently cutting taxes for those with all the power and all the money is not doing anything for middle-class pocketbooks.
"In fact, this trend toward more corporate giveaways is going to end up hurting families who will not find much protection from the property tax caps, and local units of government that again will be forced to choose to cut services or increase fees to pay for them.
"Once again, the improvements in our state's educational system are weighted toward vouchers and charter schools available only to a select few. Our traditional public
classrooms are forgotten.
"Since there may be some criticism of this agenda from members of the governor's own party, I simply will add that House Democrats will study this program in-depth in
the weeks leading up to the start of the 2014 legislative session, and we will be prepared to offer improvements where necessary and alternatives that make sense.
"It's not all bad. But our state has many problems that this agenda ignores."...

Woman Dies After 3 Vehicle Crash in Jasper Co

Indiana State Police say an Avon, Indiana, woman died yesterday evening, Sunday, December 8th, from injuries she received in a three vehicle crash.  Preliminary investigation by Trooper Jason Madison revealed that at approximately 5:15 p.m., yesterday, a Jeep driven by Ashley A Rogers, 28, was southbound on I-65 at the 225 ½ mile marker, approximately 4 ½ miles south of the Demotte/Roselawn exit, and lost control for unknown reasons. Troopers from the Lowell Post say road conditions were snow covered and slippery at the time of the crash.
Police say the driver of a 2003 Ford was south bound and came over the hill crest and saw the Jeep spinning in the roadway, swerved to the left to avoid the Jeep but was hit on the front right side of the Ford. The Ford came to rest on the inside shoulder. Police say the driver of the Ford was wearing a seat belt and was not hurt.
A  semi driver heading southbound came over the hill crest, authorities say, saw the Jeep in the right lane, and could not avoid hitting it. The semi went off the interstate, down into a ditch and into the fence line approximately 50 feet off the road. The Kenworth was loaded with approximately 45,000 pounds of Resin. No load was lost. The semi driver was wearing a seat belt and was not injured.
Police say Rogers was found lying on the inside shoulder next to the concrete barrier wall, and it's not known at this time if she was ejected or hit while she was outside of her Jeep.  Rogers was taken to Jasper County Hospital in Rensselaer and was being transported to a Lafayette Hospital when complications arose and was rushed back to Jasper County where she died at the hospital.  Assisting: Indiana State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Trooper Dale Turner, Keener Township Fire and EMS....

Winners Announced in Photo Contest

Winners Announced in Photo Contest
"End of a Perfect Day," winning photo by Valerie Parson of St. John
The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority has announced the winners of the Summer Fun Along the South Shore photo contest.  The winner, Valerie Parson of St. John, received a $500 Visa gift card.
Winners Announced in Photo Contest
"Frolic Merriment," by Taytum Bultema of Crown Point, taken at Mowry’s Fruit Farm.
All-American-Boy Dana-Garvin2
"All-American Boy," photo by Dana Garvin of Indianapolis. Garvin was at a Fourth of July gathering in Highland when she snapped her winning photograph.
Two runners-up, Taytum Bultema of Crown Point and Dana Garvin of Indianapolis, were also selected and each received $100 toward custom framing at Lake Street Gallery, located in the Miller Beach section of Gary.
Photographs submitted to the contest have the opportunity of being featured on the South Shore CVA’s website or in other promotional materials. Last year’s winning photograph, submitted by Scott Keithley of Valdosta, Georgia, is featured on the cover of the 2013-2014 visitors’ map. The contest, which ran through the summer, asked for candid photographs of people enjoying summer activities such as the beach, festivals, parks or the water park.  Photographs were judged by Sandra Mendez, a photography instructor in the Chicago region.   [Photos courtesy South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority]...

Driver Seriously Hurt in Borman Crash

In Lake County overnight, a motorist was seriously injured when their car went out of control on the slick and snow-covered Borman Expressway near Gary. Indiana State Police at the Lowell Post say a preliminary investigation indicates the driver was westbound in a Mercury Mountaineer going too fast for road conditions and spun out just east of Cline Avenue, hit the inner barrier wall, then bounced into the middle lane of the interstate where the vehicle was struck by a semi that could not avoid it. The Freightliner then hit the inner barrier wall. Police say the driver of the Mountaineer was not wearing a seat belt, and was ejected onto the roadway. That individual was taken to a local hospital with what police described as critical life-threatening head injuries, and the semi driver was transported with non-life-threatening injuries. All lanes west bound were closed with traffic getting by on the outer shoulder until approximately 04:30 a.m. when all lanes were reopened. The lanes were closed for reconstruction of the crash, removal of the injured and vehicles and clean-up of the roadway....


Hammond Police Investigate Homicide

Police continue to investigate a homicide that claimed the life of a Highland man in the Hessville section of Hammond over the weekend. The Lake County Coroners office says 38-year-old Thomas Ferrell died at a local hospital around 9:30 Saturday morning from a gunshot wound. Police say the victim was apparently heating up his girlfriend's vehicle outside a bar in the 29-hundred block of 165th Street in around 2 am Saturday when the shooting occurred. Authorities say the woman found the man shot inside the vehicle when she went to the parking lot....


Indiana Gets Grant to Get Local Foods in Schools

The Hoosier state is part of a nationwide effort to better connect schools with food grown closer-to-home. A 100-thousand dollar US Department of Agriculture Farm to School Program grant awarded to the Indiana Health Department in November and will be put toward ways of expanding farm-to-school network efforts as well as meet-and-greet events to create partnerships between school food service directors and local producers. Specifically, this grant will use the Hoosier Harvest Market, an online marketplace of food produced and grown in central Indiana, as a test hub for connecting farmers and local school systems.
The Indiana State Department of Health says it is one of 71 projects spanning 42 states and Washington, D.C. to receive the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Farm to School Program grant. This is an effort to better connect schools with local food producers.
The $100,000 grant was awarded to the State Health Department in November and will be used to:
·        Conduct strategic planning to expand and better support the Indiana Farm to School Network efforts.
·        Assess school food service infrastructure and readiness to incorporate local products into school meal programs.
·        Provide scholarships for small farmers and school food service staff to attend trainings that provide skills and information that support farm to school.
·        Host meet and greet events to create partnerships between school food service directors and local producers.
“Support for Farm to School has been gaining momentum in Indiana,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “We knew it was important to meet farmers and school food service directors to learn who might be interested in farm to school activities. The response has been very positive.”
In Indiana, 231 out of 294 public school districts completed the USDA Farm to School Census and 357,590 children in attendance are actively engaged in Farm-to-School activities.
The USDA Farm to School grants help schools respond to the growing demand for locally sourced foods and increase market opportunities for producers and food businesses, including food processors, manufacturers and distributors. Grants will also be used to support agriculture and nutrition education efforts such as school gardens, field trips to local farms and cooking classes.
“In rural and urban communities across the country, farm to school is teaching students where food comes from and how it gets to their plate, and encouraging them to make healthier food choices in the cafeteria and at home,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Farm to school programs are an investment in the health of our nation’s children and in the vibrancy of rural economies."

Online Shoppers Warned About Lookalike Sites

The Better Business Bureau serving Northern Indiana is warning Region residents about phony websites pretending to be Overstock-dot-com. Better Business Bureau says a noticeable trend recently is websites that include the word "overstock" in the domain name, hoping to trick consumers into thinking they are shopping with The President and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus says they've seen this with other major retailers as well. BBB is warning consumers: be careful to look for the real domain when it comes to major retail sites.
" is a highly visible online retailer, so it's no wonder scammers try to mimic them," noted Carrie A. Hurt, President and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, the umbrella organization for 113 BBBs across the U.S. and Canada. "We've seen this with other major retailers as well. BBB is warning consumers: be careful to look for the real domain when it comes to major retail sites."
"Our web address is simple:," said Jonathan Johnson, Executive Vice Chairman of, Inc. "That's all. If the name is longer, or uses any additional words, or letters, if it has any words other than 'overstock' before the dot com, it's not our website." is a BBB Accredited Business with an A rating, as well as a National Partner of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The company has been recognized by many organizations, including Compuware as a "Best of the Web" award winner for four years in a row.
BBB suggests the following tips for online shoppers to avoid bogus websites:
* Go to to look up the BBB Business Reviews of your favorite online retailers.
* Type the URL directly into your browser; do not click on a link from an email or social media site unless you are absolutely sure the message is from the legitimate business.
* On the payment page, look for "https" at the beginning of the address (the "s" stands for "secure").
* Look for "Contact Us" information, including a real address, a toll-free customer service number, and other ways to reach the company if you have a problem.
* Use a credit card (not a debit card) when shopping online for greater protections against possible fraud.
* If a website has a BBB Accredited Business seal, click on it. A real seal should link directly to that company's BBB Business Review....

Audio: Indiana Pearl Harbor Survivors

The local chapter of the Sons and Daughters of Pearl Harbor Survivors will conduct the annual Pearl Harbor Day Memorial Service on Saturday, December 7, 2013 starting at 11:55 am today (Sat Dec 7) local time of when the attack by the Japanese Empire upon Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii began 72 years ago. Our Jay Stevens spoke to a Pearl Harbor survivors in Indiana, including Crown Point.  Hear Jay's reports at News Audio on Demand here at our website.
Over 2,400 servicemen and civilians were killed as a result of the attack which lasted less than 2 hours; some were trapped in their ships, unable to be rescued. Today's ceremony in Highland takes place at the Main Square Gazebo at 5th and Highway Avenue. Honor Guards from American Legion Post 66, Indiana University Northwest ROTC, and Knights of Columbus Abraham Lincoln Assembly and Santa Maria Venegas Assembly will be participating....

Two Recent Burglaries at Foreclosed Homes in CP

In Crown Point, police are investigating a second recent burglary involving a vacant foreclosed home. Reports say a hot water tank, copper pipes and kitchen cabinets were taken from a house in the 300 block of Church Street. Police say on November 28th, a water heater and copper wiring were reported stolen from a vacant foreclosed home in the 1700 block of East 106th Avenue. In both cases, officials say entry was made through a back door....

LOFS, Hebron Fire Depts 'Stop, Drop Donate'

'Tis the weekend to Stop, Drop and Donate for a couple of Region fire departments. Lakes of the Four Seasons Volunteer Fire Force will be running their annual Stop, Drop and Donate food collection today (Sat Dec 7) on the Porter County side of LOFS, 10a to 3p, also driving through the following subdivisions; Springwood Estates, Fieldstone Manor, and Windy Oaks. The Lake County LOFS collection event is being held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday December 14th and will also include the following subdivisions; Stoney Run, Trees, Double Tree East & West, Country Meadows, as well as the Lake County side of Lakes of the Four Seasons. Residents can leave donated items at the end of their driveway, at the fire station, or make cash donations to firefighters.
Tomorrow (Sunday Dec 8), the Hebron Fire Department is holding its third annual “Stop, Drop and Donate” tomorrow, Sunday, December 8th from 10 am to 2 pm. Fire Chief Chad Franzman says the food drive being held in conjunction with the Boone Township Trustee's Office works like this:  anyone who wants to donate to the Hebron Country Food Pantry located at Hebron United Methodist Church to meet firefighters at the end of their driveway or set their food out there in a cardboard box or brown paper bag, where it will be picked up.    Franzman says last year's 'Stop, Drop and Donate' resulted in six pickup truck loads full of food. There will also be a collection site at Patz's in Hebron and at the Hebron Fire Station. Franzman says trucks will sound their siren to let residents know they're in the neighborhood and they plan to pass through more than once.  You can hear more about the event from Hebron Fire Chief Chad Franzman here at our website at News Audio on Demand....

Wishard Memorial Hospital Closes

Eskenazi Health
In downtown Indianapolis, Wishard Memorial Hospital is closing its doors this morning. Patients and staff are moving to the brand new 754-million dollar Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Health facility two blocks away. Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services, the U.S. Naval Reserves, the Indiana National Guard, and multiple ambulance services from throughout Central Indiana and over 300 volunteers are assisting in the transfer.

Hospital officials say Eskenazi Health will be the first new complete public hospital campus relocation in the nation since Chicago’s John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital opened in 2002 to replace Cook County Hospital, and it will be the first time in more than 40 years Indianapolis has seen a new downtown hospital campus. The history of Wishard goes back to 1855 when a smallpox epidemic prompted Indianapolis to begin building a hospital, which opened four years later as City Hospital, and after a couple other name changes, became Wishard Memorial in 1975....

Veteran Deputy Lake County Prosecutor Passes Away

Veteran Deputy Lake County Prosecutor John Burke has died. Burke, born in Gary, was a retired Deputy Prosecutor with the Lake County Prosecutor's Office, where he served in the Career Criminal Unit for 37 years. Among the high-profile cases Burke prosecuted was that of convicted serial killer Eugene Britt. Burke won an arson-murder conviction in the trial of Steven Allen for a 2005 fire at Tanglewood Apartments in Hammond that killed Allen's wife, infant daughter and a neighbor. Burke was also involved in eight death penalty cases. Burke, who retired in 2011, passed away at his home in Valparaiso Monday. Burke was 66....

Soup Recalled Due to Undeclared Allergen

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service says StockPot, Inc., an Everett, Wash. establishment, is recalling 1,864 cases (approximately 22,368 pounds) of chicken noodle soup due to misbranding and an undeclared allergen. The Classic Chicken Noodle Soup product, shipped to distribution centers in Indiana and seven other states, is formulated with wheat, a known allergen.  However, the product was released with a Loaded Baked Potato Style Soup side label, which does not declare this allergen.
The following product is subject to recall:  
24-oz. plastic tub of Wholesome@Home  “Classic Chicken Noodle Soup.” The establishment number “P-18235” is located on the label on the lid.  The products were produced on October 25 and 26, 2013, with a use-by date of February 17 and 18, 2014. The product was shipped to distribution centers in the following states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Washington. The product was sold at retail only.
The problem was reported by a supermarket employee who noticed the labeling error while stocking shelves. Officials say the problem occurred when a subset of the labels provided by the label printing company were assembled incorrectly.  FSIS and the company have received no reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.
FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to ensure that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.
Consumers with questions about the recall should contact Susan Baranowsky at 1-866-270-9303. Media with questions about the recall should contact Carla Burigatto, a company media contact, at 856-342-3737.
Consumers with food safety questions can "Ask Karen," the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at or via smartphone at "Ask Karen" live chat services are available Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can be accessed 24 hours a day at:

Senators Join Forces to Promote Illiana Expressway

Senator Dan Coats 4 

Indiana U.S. Senator Dan Coats joined Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk Friday morning to highlight the economic benefits of the proposed Illiana Expressway project during a joint press conference by the two Republicans at the Union League Club in Chicago.
According to a press release from Senator Coats' office, both the Illinois and Indiana Departments of Transportation are working together to build the project as a public-private partnership, in which a private contractor would design, build and operate the new roadway.
Senator Coats said that both states are, "demonstrating that regional problems require regional solutions." The senator added, "By partnering together...we can solve some of our region's biggest transportation challenges." He said, "Increasing opportunities to distribute goods made all over Indiana is good for Hoosier job creation and economic growth."
The project would create around 9,000 construction jobs with $1.3 billion in wages over a 30-year period, according to the release. In addition the Illiana Expressway is expected to provide $1 million in daily travel time savings and will help truck traffic bypass the Chicago metropolitan area.

Senator Dan Coats 2
Senator Coats, who later in the day delivered the keynote address at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Regional Meeting in Merrillville (above photo), took the opportunity to talk about his earlier press conference with Senator Kirk saying that it seemed to him that one of the things that can keep predicted growth and a "staggering number of new jobs in the Region" from happening is a "dysfunctional transportation system" by not having an alternative way to move goods other than a congested interstate.
Meanwhile, Senator Kirk echoed the infrastructure of President Abraham Lincoln by pointing out that in order to construct the 2,000 mile transcontinental railroad, Lincoln resourced private railroads to build the tracks in exchange for land rights.

Senator Dan Coats 3
Region News Team speaks with U.S. Indiana Dan Coats after workshop appearance at the Radisson, on his way to deliver the keynote at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce Regional Meeting.

(photos/Jay Stevens)

Facing yet another audience, Senator Coats also talked about the joint press conference when he spoke briefly at a free workshop for small businesses in northwest Indiana titled, "Indiana Get Your Business Online," sponsored by Google and held at the Radisson in Merrillville.



Audio: IU Northwest Professor On Mandela

Around the world, mourning for former South African President Nelson Mandela, who passed away Thursday at the age of 95. IU Northwest Professor of Communications Dr. Dorothy Ige, along with a former IUN colleague, extensively researched the public speaking style of Mr. Mandela in their most recent book, Public Speaking & Responsibility in a Changing World. Ige says Mandela used spoken word to change a nation.
Mandela ended the policy of racial separation known was apartheid after spending years in jail.  To hear our interview with Dr. Ige, click News Audio On Demand at

Christmas Tree Display at Lake County Public Library

(Photos Courtesy of the Lake County Public Library)
The Lake County Public Library in Merrillville invites everyone to stop by and view the nine Christmas trees set up now through December 23rd in the Acheff Art Gallery. The trees were decorated by the employees of various branches of the library system representing specific themes and designs including garland made from old encyclopedias, actual processing materials, noses put into books, fish and boats from a lakeside branch, miniature cross-stitch from craft classes, historical trains from a station branch, gingerbread men from program refreshments, and more. While you're there, take some time to view the original SouthShore poster artworks depicting life in Northwest Indiana.
The gallery is open from 2 to 4pm and from 7 to 8pm Monday through Thursday, and from 2 to 4pm on Fridays and Saturdays. ...

Franciscan St. Anthony-MC Patient Turns 100

Brunner 100
(Photo Courtesy of Franciscan St. Anthony Health- Michigan City)
Cardiac Services staff members at Franciscan St. Anthony Health in Michigan City on Thursday celebrated early the 100th birthday of one of their patients. Ed Brunner, a native New Yorker who has spent the last 11 years in Michigan City, turns one-hundred tomorrow and over the last century Brunner says some highlights including meeting famous celebrities such as Babe Ruth, Bing Crosby, Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra among others. According to the nurses, Brunner still lives independently and is “very sharp” mentally, using email to correspond and still drives. As for the secret to his longevity, Brunner, who was married to his late wife for 63 years, says he drinks a cocktail everyday at 5 o'clock. ...

Donnelly Calls on Congress to Help, Not Hurt Economy

us senator joe donnelly
Washington, D.C. — In case you missed it, Politico reported today that though our economy is recovering, government dysfunction could continue to threaten economic growth.  According to Politico, Wall Street economists still rate government dysfunction as the leading risk factor for our economy.
“Washington has tried very hard this year to crush the economy with debt ceiling fights, clumsy budget cuts, a government shutdown and complete legislative gridlock…  In fact, while most Wall Street economists expect growth to pick up in 2014, they still rate government dysfunction as the leading risk factor.” – Politico
Catherine L. Mann, professor of economics at Brandeis University, told Politico, “If there was anything that even looked bipartisan that made it seem like D.C. was less out of touch and trying to work toward some kind of solutions you would see an improvement in growth that would build over the year.  It would probably have very large global benefits as well. But I’d probably put about a 10 percent chance on any of that happening.”
Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) has repeatedly voiced this concern, calling for Congress to help, not hurt, the economy.  During the government shutdown, Senator Donnelly ">spoke on the Senate floor in October about the negative impact Congress is having on the U.S. and Hoosier economies.
Donnelly said, “It is embarrassing that the actions of some in Congress these days are now the greatest obstacle to future job creation in our country…
“At a time when Hoosiers are trying to get back to work and take care of our families, Congress’ inability to work together is making it so much more difficult. Congress is not helping and is actually hinderingjob creation and economic growth…
“We must find a way to stop hurting the economy and to actually help the people who have made this country such a great place.”
Donnelly said in October, “I think we need more people focused on what’s best for Indiana, what’s best for our nation, and less about what’s best in politics. This is not about Democrat, this is not about Republican, it’s about America.  That’s what Hoosiers sent me here to do, and that’s what I have tried to do the past few weeks and since my first day in office.”...

DeMotte Man Sentenced for Possession of Child Porn

A 31 year old DeMotte man was sentenced this week in Hammond Federal Court to over four-years in prison and five-years supervised released after pleading guilty to felony possession of child pornography. According to court documents, Matthew Jasek admitted to possessing over 600 child pornography images and that he distributed some of the material through a file sharing program. The case resulted from an investigation by members of the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, including the U-S Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations. ...

Lake Station Man Charged in October Armed Robbery

A 38 year old Lake Station man was arrested and charged on Thursday with armed robbery stemming from an incident in October in Porter County's Union Township. Jose Alvarez is accused of using a gun to rob the victim of cash, a cell phone and a bracelet, before driving off and leaving the victim near US 30 and County Road 700 West. Authorities report Alvarez had picked up the victim to take them to purchase a vehicle Alvarez was supposedly interested in purchasing....

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