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UPDATE: Church, Former Hotel Destroyed by Fire

An abandoned hotel in Gary is destroyed by fire overnight. Fire damaged a second vacant building also in the area of 8th and Washington, a block west of Broadway. The former Hotel Plaza, which collapsed in the blaze, is mostly empty, but was occupied by a storefront church called God's House of Prayer. There's debris including bricks from the collapsed structure across 8th Avenue. No word on possible cause of the fire at this time. Crews responded at about 11 pm Wednesday night, and firefighters this morning are dealing with flareups and hotspots. Some streets are blocked off around the fire, but we understand traffic on Broadway was not being affected. The 21st Century Charter School of Gary is located across the street from the fire. At this time we have no word of any injuries....

Gary Metro Platform Elevator, Escalator Out of Service

The operators of the South Shore commuter rail line have announced the Gary Metro Center platform elevator and escalator are out of service pending a complete inspection and repairs, which means until further notice, Gary Metro is not accessible to passengers with disabilities who require either the elevator or escalator to access or leave the train platform. The two closest accessible stations to Gary Metro would be East Chicago and Portage/Ogden Dunes. Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District says they're working to restore the elevator and escalator as quickly as possible....

Building Collapses in Gary Fire

At this time we have no word of any injuries in a fire in Gary overnight, involving two structures, one vacant, in the area of 8th Avenue and Washington,  a block west of Broadway. One of the buildings collapsed. We're told one unit was occupied in one of the structures. There's debris including bricks from the collapsed building across 8th Avenue. No word on the cause at the time. Crews responded just before 11-o'clock last night, and we're hearing that firefighters are on scene this morning dealing with flareups. Some streets are blocked off around the fire scene. We understand traffic on Broadway was not being affected at this hour.   We have an unconfirmed report that a storefront church was operating in one of the buildings. ...

IV-D Child Support Court to Return to Gary

City of Gary
Lake County Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson announced an agreement that is contemplated to result in the settlement of litigation surrounding the move of the IV-D Child Support out of the Gary, Indiana Court House. The agreement was the result of a collaborative effort involving Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen, Lake County Clerk Michael Brown, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter, and Lake County Councilpersons Elsie Franklin and Jerome Prince. 
Judge Stefaniak indicated that while he understood the factors that led former Juvenile Judge Mary Beth Bonventura to close the Court, he was pleased that the parties were able to reach a solution that would ensure access to justice for citizens in the northern part of Lake County. This decision also honors the investment that has been made in the Gary Courthouse. Judge Stefaniak also praised the members of the Lake County Commission and Lake County Council for the flexibility in the use of resources to govern the Court.
Mayor Freeman-Wilson applauded the agreement and indicated that she knew that Mayor Anthony Copeland and the citizens of East Chicago and other north Lake County communities would join the citizens of Gary in their appreciation of the opportunity to attend hearings in the Gary Courthouse.   She further indicated her willingness to develop employment opportunities and work with Judge Stefaniak to ensure compliance and prevent parents from having to be brought into Court.
Judge Stefaniak will assume full-time responsibilities at the Juvenile Court on December 20, 2013. He anticipates that a full service IV-D Court will return to Gary in January 2014 as well. ...

Two Tree Lighting Events Scheduled in East Chicago

More signs of the season in Northwest Indiana as East Chicago gets ready for two tree lighting celebrations.
Mayor Anthony Copeland and the East Chicago Parks and Recreation Department invite residents to the Magic of Christmas,   According to the City's website, a tree Lighting celebration to be held this Friday (Dec. 6. 2013) at 5:30 p.m. on the corner of Main Street and Broadway in downtown Indiana Harbor.  Following that at 6:30 p.m., East Chicago's main tree lighting will take place at City Hall, on Indianapolis Blvd.  The city says hot chocolate will be served and families can take a photo with Santa Claus at City Hall. Plus, a free surprise for the city's children with parent while supplies last.  Gift recipients must be from East Chicago, parent ID's will be checked, according to the City's website.
More about the tree lighting available at: ...


TSA Gives Air Travelers a Way to Skip Long Lines

Starting today - the Transportation Security Administration is giving more air travelers a chance to skip the long lines at security checkpoints. IF - you're willing to give them lots of personal information - and 85 dollars. ABC News reports imagine not taking off your shoes. Or your sweater. Keeping your laptop and liquids inside your luggage - and moving through a special, shorter line. The dream begins in Indianapolis - where the TSA is opening its first application center for the program it calls "precheck." Passengers willing to provide fingerprints, go through a background check - and pay 85 dollars - can get five years of sped-up screening. Eventually the TSA says 300 application centers will open across the country. They'll be in New York, Washington and LA by the end of the year....

Items Recovered in LaPorte County Burglary Sting

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(Photos Courtesy of Karl Berner; Law enforcement gather for
news conference at LaPorte County Fairgrounds)
An iPhone GPS tracker assisted La Porte County Sheriff's Detectives in recovering thousands of dollars in allegedly stolen property from a residence in rural Coolspring Township last week. La Porte County Detective Sergeant Andrew Hynek says the collaborative effort between the La Porte County Sheriff's Department and the Michigan City Police Department has led to the arrest and charging of 33-year-old Nicholas Rife with three counts of residential burglary. His wife, Stephanie Rife, was also arrested and charged with receiving stolen property. The investigation was also aided by serial-number confirmation and anonymous informants and links the recovered items to a dozen or more burglaries throughout western La Porte County. Hynek says modern technology proved very valuable in the initial stages of the investigation.

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Hynek advises all homeowners to take precautions against burglaries by recording serial numbers and taking photos of your property.
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As the investigation continues, recovered items are being viewed by potential victims so that they may be returned to their rightful owners. Hynek advised victims who believe their property may have been recovered to contact the detective in charge of their case in order that an inquiry can be made with the La Porte County Sheriff's Office....

Leaf Pick Up in Michigan City Extended

The Michigan City Street Department has announced an extended leaf pick schedule for residents. Officials say residents who would like weekly pickups of their leaves to please use compost containers or compost/yard waste bags available from area merchants, but to not use toters or plastic bags. Leaves in paper yard bags or 32 gallon trash cans should be placed with your regular trash and will be picked up on your regular trash day.  If citizens have branches that need picked up please call in your requests to the Central Service Department at 873-1500.
The Street Department request that residents cooperate by following these rules:
  • No plastic bags are to be used
  • Branches, rocks and other debris must be kept out of the leaf piles
  • Leaf piles should be loose in large piles in front of the property as close to the curb as possible, but away from the sewer drains.
  • Please do not use Toters, leaves will not be picked up in those containers

leaf collection map
December 9 – 14, 2013
Area 1 is marked by Franklin Street on the west, Michigan Boulevard and Roeske Avenue on the east and Kieffer Road on the south.
December 16 – 21, 2013
Area 2 is marked by Lake Shore Drive and U.S. 12 and Shoreland Drive on the north, Michigan Boulevard on the south and Meer Road on the east.

December 2 – 7, 2013
Area 3 is marked by County Line Road on the west, Franklin Street on the east, Kieffer Road on the south and Lake Michigan on the north....

Customer Assaults Employee at Wendy's Drive-thru

LaPorte PD
Authorities are seeking the public's help to locate a man who assaulted a Wendy's employee at the drive-thru window on Saturday night. LaPorte Police report they received the call just after 10pm and were informed an elderly woman driving a large white vehicle, possibly a Lincoln or Cadillac, with a male passenger in his 20's, pulled up to the drive-thru to collect their order. Police say the man got upset because there was too much ice in his drink, exited the vehicle and began slamming the drive-thru window open and closed before reaching inside a grabbing an employee's arm. The employee was able to pull away from the man, who got back in the vehicle which exited the area. Anyone with any information regarding this incident is asked to please contact the LaPorte Police Department and you can remain anonymous....


Columbia Ave Bridge Now Open to Traffic

In Munster, the Columbia Avenue Bridge, between Hammond and Munster, is now open to traffic as of this afternoon. Officials say the reconstruction was necessary to help alleviate flooding along the flood-prone Little Calumet River. The one-point-two-million dollar reconstruction effort caused the bridge to be closed for the last four-months. ...

Valpo PD Investigating Suspicious Incident at Bus Stop

Valpo PD
Police in Valparaiso are investigating a suspicious incident that occurred this morning at a bus stop on the corner of Valparaiso and Union Streets. Police report they were notified by school officials around 9am that an older white male subject yelled at a ten-year old boy who was waiting for his school bus and allegedly ran towards the child, who in turn ran back to his house and locked the doors until his school bus arrived. The child was able to safely enter the bus and notified the bus driver of what had transpired. The older white male subject is described as possibly in his 50's, wearing a jean jacket and blue jeans, who is bald with some gray hair on each side of his head. ...

Gary Metro Center Elevator/Escalator Out of Service

NICTD logo
The Gary Metro Center platform elevator and escalator are out of service pending a complete inspection and repairs.  Until further notice Gary Metro Center is no longer accessible to passengers with disabilities who require either the elevator or escalator to access the train platform.  The two closest accessible stations to Gary Metro Center would be East Chicago and Portage/Ogden Dunes.  NICTD regrets any inconvenience and is working to restore the elevator and escalator as quickly as possible....

Warning: New Phone Scam Circulating

porter co sheriff dept
Police in the Region report a new phone scam is spreading. Porter County Sheriffs Police Sgt. Larry LaFlower says scammers will call you stating your relative has been in a crash, and by doing so, extract a relatives name from you. Once they have a name the scammers become aggressive telling you the relative hit a high-ranking gang member, and as a result, said relative is being held for ransom with the threat of physical violence until you need to send them money.
Police say do not give out any personal information, disconnect the call and contact your family member to confirm their condition....

Two Highland Burglary Suspects in Custody

Highland Police
In Highland, two men are in custody after a burglary this morning in the Terrace Estates Subdivision. Just before 11:30am, Highland Police reported they were searching for a heavy set black male wearing a white t-shirt and within an hour two suspects allegedly involved in the burglary were apprehended. Police say they have taken several reports of daytime burglaries the past few days, particularly on the north side of town. Residents are reminded to secure your houses and garages and to report any suspicious persons, vehicles or activity to police. ...

Rash of Daytime Burglaries Reported in Highland

Highland Police
Highland Police say residents of Highland and neighboring communities have been experiencing a rash of daytime burglaries – something that generally increases every year during the holiday season. Highland Police say their staffing levels have been adjusted to meet the concern – and they remind people home during the day to remain watchful for themselves and their neighbors, and to report any suspicious activity immediately by calling 911. ...

Lake County Legislators Preview Session

The Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce got a little preview of what the upcoming legislative session may bring, from three local legislators who took part in an informal presentation at the Lake County Public Library in Merrillville Tuesday night. [Pictured: Representative Slager, Representative VanDenburgh, Senator Randolph/Photo, Laura Waluszko]
Democrat Crown Point State Representative Shelli VanDenburgh, Republican State Representative Hal Slager of Schererville, and Democrat East Chicago State Senator Lonnie Randolph also answered questions from attendees on topics like South Shore expansion, Illiana Expressway, Common Core, and providing more benefits for police K-9s. And, it's anticipated that a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage will be a big topic. Representative VanDenburgh, who voted against it the first time, told the Region News Team she's resolved to oppose it even more strongly.  To hear her comments visit News Audio on Demand here at our website.
Indiana state law currently defines marriage as between a man and a woman. A proposed marriage amendment was approved in 2011 and if lawmakers say yes again this session, the question will go before Hoosier voters on the November 2014 general election ballot. ...

219: Valpo Holly Days

If you are looking for some holiday fun this weekend be sure to check out Holly Days in downtown Valparaiso Friday. The event is free and will feature train rides, ice sculptures, food samples, Santa and a whole lot more from 5-7pm at Central Park Plaza. Find out more by listening to today's 219 On Demand here on our website....

Purdue North Central Receives Historic Donation

PNCNew Building image
Purdue University North Central in Westville recently received a historic donation to its Student Services and Activities Complex fundraising effort from Dr. Peter Kesling and his wife, Charlene.  The Kesling's $1 million donation is the largest cash donation that PNC has ever received.  [Image provided/PNC]
"We are thrilled that the Keslings have chosen to support PNC with this significant gift," said PNC Chancellor Dr. James B. Dworkin. "This gift is a turning point for Purdue North Central. The Kesling name will be a permanent part of the building and will serve as a daily reminder to our students, staff, faculty and guests of the Keslings' support and their commitment to PNC and our community."
[A photo of the 1918-19 Logansport basketball team. H.D. Kesling is third from the left seated in the second row. [Photo provided]]
With this gift, the Keslings have the naming rights to the SSAC gymnasium. The "H.D. Kesling Gymnasium" will be named in honor of Dr. Kesling's father.   "We are excited to be supporting the new Purdue North Central Student Services and Activities Complex and naming the H.D. Kesling Gymnasium in honor of my father," said Dr. Kesling.
"He, among other things, had the foresight in 1959 to develop the Orthodontic center in a cornfield at the interchange of the Indiana Toll Road and U.S. 421. PNC has been our good neighbor across U.S. 421 since 1967. It has been a great pleasure watching it grow during the past 46 years."
The Players 2
[A page from the 1919 Logansport High School (LHS) yearbook "The Tattler" features biographies of the team.  In those days, H.D. "Harold" was called "Bill" by family and friends. Note that his name is misspelled with two "S's." Sent courtesy of Thelma Conrad, Curator of the Cass County Historical Society. [Courtesy PNC]]
Dr. Kesling explained that his father was an outstanding high school basketball player in Logansport and he was a member of a team that made it to the 1918 - 19 state quarterfinals.  "When recounting those days, he always added the fact that he was not a good student and the only reason he buckled down and raised his grades was so that he could be eligible to play," he recalled.
"Therefore, if it wasn't for basketball, he might have stayed down on the farm and never had the opportunity to attend college. However, he continued his excellent study habits, graduated from Loyola Dental School and in 1924 began practicing dentistry in LaPorte. This is why all of the Kesling family will be proud to have his name associated with the new gymnasium. His story may also serve to inspire future students during their academic years."
"The Keslings are committed to making our community a better place to live," said Dworkin. "Their generosity has benefitted countless thousands of people through the years. In making this donation, we are assured that PNC students for generations to come will have the benefit of enjoying the H.D. Kesling Gymnasium."
University officials say as planned, the Student Services and Activities Complex will cost $34.7 million. The state will provide $24.7 million, or approximately 70 percent of the debt service. Student activities fees will generate $6.3 million and cover another 20 percent of the project. PNC fund raising will bring in the remaining $3.7 million
Dworkin noted that the local fundraising effort has achieved more than 80 percent of its goal and donations of all amounts are welcomed. Many building naming rights remain available as well.  Groundbreaking is expected to take place in October, 2014 and the tentative completion date is October, 2016.
Anyone who would like to make a donation may contact Dworkin at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or Melissa Westphal-Benefiel, PNC Director of Development, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ...

Hearing on Redistricting Postponed

The Porter County Board of Commissioners postponed a planned hearing Tuesday on a redistricting plan for four county council districts. Commission President John Evans said the proposal needed additional tweaking and rescheduled it for December 17th. In October, county officials got word of research by students at DePauw University in 2011 and 2012 claiming population between districts is not as equal as it should be as per state law. However, the accuracy of data used in the study has been called into question. Other concerns have been raised about the fairness of redistricting so late in this year, with filing opening up in January for the 2014 elections. Officials say redistricting has to take place during an odd-numbered year. The county began looking into redistricting in late 2011, but did not take action....

Cedar Lake Trying to Help Blind Woman Keep Home

In Cedar Lake, town council members Tuesday night took action in the latest of attempts within the community to help a blind woman keep her longtime home. The council directed the town attorney to look into trying to buy the property where 67-year-old Dolores Pittman has lived for over a half-century, then allowing her to stay there through possibly a life estate agreement. Published reports say through a series of events that began years ago, the small plot of land ended up on a county tax sale list, unbeknownst to Pittman, and sold out from under her for 43-dollars. Pittman's family bought the house decades ago, and was paying rent on the land, and when a church group that used to own the land divested itself of the property, property tax bills for the parcel began mounting up. Donations have come in to help the woman move, in advance of her anticipated eviction....

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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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