(Photos Courtesy of Karl Berner)
By an 18-to-8 vote, NIRPC's Transportation Policy Committee today approved a proposal to include the Illiana Expressway and the I-65 expansion projects in their 20-40 Comprehensive Regional Plan. A lengthy public comment period was held after a committee overview of the two proposals, with some speaking in favor the projects, saying benefits would include reduced truck traffic on local roads, construction jobs and it has statewide bipartisan support. Many of those in attendance came out against the projects citing a bigger need for local redevelopment, the creation of more permanent jobs and financial feasibility of the project overall.
With the passage of the proposal, a full NIRPC Board vote will now take place on Thursday, December 12th. If the full board approves the projects, INDOT can wrap up their Tier Two study, then take the project to the Federal Highway Administration who will then make their decision.
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. ...
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. ...
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. ...
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."
[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.
Mayor McDermott says his city has passed a resolution stating their "inclusiveness of all people, regardless of sexual orientation." McDermott called the amendment "backwards thinking, on the wrong side of history and not part of what I know as Hoosier hospitality."
Mayor Costas says the amendment is unnecessary as Indiana law already defines a marriage as between a woman and a man. He says as a conservative, he feels government should be limited, and not unduly intrude into social issues that are best left to individuals, families, and faith communities. He also says it would hinder opportunities for economic growth.
The group of mayors have launched Mayors for Freedom - a coalition dedicated to defeating the proposal.
Here is their news release with statements from each of the mayors:
Indiana Mayors Stand with Freedom Indiana, Speak Out against HJR-6
December 3, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS – Today, Mayors from across the state of Indiana stood with Freedom Indiana and spoke out against HJR-6, the proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution that would permanently define marriage and would remove existing protections under law for same-sex and unmarried couples and families.
The bipartisan group of Indiana mayors oppose the amendment for a variety of reasons but they all agree the language should not be added to the state’s constitution.
“We’re proud to stand with these mayors from across our state as champions of freedom for all Hoosiers,” said Freedom Indiana campaign manager Megan Robertson. “They represent cities large and small, and they understand that this amendment will make it harder for them to build their local economies, recruit new residents and maintain existing protections for same-sex and unmarried couples.”
More information: freedomindiana.org/mayors
Statements from Individual Mayors Opposing HJR-6
Mayor Greg Ballard – Indianapolis
“I understand that many people hold differing views on this subject, but Indiana law already defines marriage and I don’t see the overriding government interest in adding such an amendment to our state’s constitution. Indy is renowned for its ‘Hoosier hospitality’ and working hard to attract new jobs and people to our city. My hope is that we can continue to work together and focus on those things that make Indy a place where people want to live, work and raise a family.”
Mayor Jim Brainard – Carmel
“I am a Republican and believe in limited government. Government is not the institution that should decide who is allowed to marry. Moreover, Indiana law already covers this issue and therefore, it is not necessary to add it to the Indiana Constitution. Our government needs to be focused on attracting and retaining good jobs and improving public education for future generations.”
Mayor Tom Henry – Fort Wayne
“Each day in Fort Wayne we’re working hard to attract and retain businesses, jobs, and families. Our City is committed to being a welcoming place for families and individuals seeking great opportunities, friendly neighborhoods and a strong sense of community. We’re asking the Indiana General Assembly to focus its attention on issues that help cities across our state be more competitive in economic development and position us for future growth and success with a quality of life that is unmatched.”
Mayor Pete Buttigieg – South Bend
“Indiana’s constitution exists in order to protect rights and freedoms, not take them away. Our state must be welcoming and respectful of all individuals, or we will be left behind. Changing the constitution in order to deny certain protections to some Hoosier families would send the exact wrong message as we work to grow and develop a competitive economy in cities like South Bend.”
Mayor Jon Costas – Valparaiso
“I am opposed to amending our state constitution to prohibit gay marriage for a number of reasons. First, Indiana law already defines a marriage as only between a woman and a man. Thus, the amendment is unnecessary. Second, as a conservative, I feel that government should be limited, and not unduly intrude into social issues that are best left to individuals, families, and faith communities. And finally, as a mayor who wants to foster a welcoming, diverse and collaborative community, I believe the amendment would portray Indiana in a negative light and hinder opportunities for economic growth.”
Mayor Thomas McDermott – Hammond
“In Hammond we wanted to make sure that all people feel welcome and so we passed a resolution through the city council that I signed as mayor stating our inclusiveness of all people, regardless of sexual orientation. The path that the legislators who support this amendment are taking only makes certain groups feel unwelcome in our state. It’s backwards thinking, on the wrong side of history and not part of what I know as Hoosier hospitality. I will do anything I can to help defeat this amendment that I consider in contravention of what Indiana should be doing on this important civil rights issue.”
Mayor Mark Kruzan – Bloomington
“Bloomington benefits economically because it’s a welcoming community in which people want to live, visit, and grow a business. HJR-6, in addition to being an unnecessary infringement of basic rights, threatens the business-friendly reputation of Indiana cities.”
Mayor Kevin Smith – Anderson
“In Anderson, our focus is to create an environment attractive to business – one where those businesses can grow. We actively work to recruit businesses to our city not just locally or nationally but globally. HJR-6 harms those efforts. It is important that Indiana remain a welcoming community focused on those things that can grow our economy.”
Mayor John Dennis – West Lafayette
“The City of West Lafayette prides itself on being a diverse, tolerant and welcoming community. For years we have been a state-wide leader in celebrating our diversity and ensuring that all our citizens are treated with respect. Because of this guiding philosophy, West Lafayette and the Greater Lafayette community has celebrated having over a billion dollars of new investment for 2013. HJR-6 sends the wrong message for our City, for our community and for our state.”
Mayor Greg Goodnight – Kokomo
“HJR-6 is bad for Kokomo and for our state. This amendment sends the wrong message at a time when we are competing for new residents and businesses. The legislature should be focusing on how we reduce the number of vacant foreclosed homes in our cities, and on how we get Hoosiers back to work instead of this unnecessary amendment.”
Mayor Richard Hickman – Angola
“Equality means equality for all. Equal rights means equal rights for all. To take these rights away from one group of people means we can take them away or deny them to anyone we don’t understand or agree with.”
Freedom Indiana is a bipartisan statewide organization that champions liberty for all Hoosiers. The organization is opposed to an amendment that would permanently alter the Indiana Constitution to define marriage and could potentially affect hundreds of rights related to marriage under current Indiana law. Freedom Indiana launched in August 2013....
(Photos Courtesy of the City of Gary)
(Gary, Ind.) – With a festive backdrop of holiday decorations and a luminous tree, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson joined representatives from the Gary Parks Department, Cause 2 Compete, Gary Housing Authority and the Broadway Area Community Development Corporation (CDC) at Marquette Park Pavilion to announce a host of activities that will be taking place in Gary during December.
“This is the season when we think of others and their needs, and we are excited to have a number of events in the City of Gary that will allow us to do just that,” said Freeman-Wilson. “The partnerships we have forged will once again help us to bring a series of entertaining events and generosity to many of Gary’s youth who are in need.”
The following is a list of upcoming holiday activities:
Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
On Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 5:00p.m., there will be a Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony in Gateway Park located at 4th & Broadway. The public is invited to come out and see the lighting of various trees that were donated by local businesses.
“This is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season,” said Park Superintendent Lori Peterson-Latham. “The donated trees will be on display at one the city’s most visible entrances for all to enjoy.”
Businesses that are interested in donating a tree may call Sharon Ishman or Leslie Thomas at (219) 886-7099.
Holiday Bazaar and Carriage Rides
The Broadway Area (CDC) will host a Yuletide Carriage Ride and Stepper Set at Marquette Park Pavilion for adults on Friday, Dec. 20 from 5:00p.m. – 9:00p.m. The fun continues Saturday, Dec. 21 with a Family Fun Day complete with vendors, holiday music, photos with Santa, food and more carriage rides. Individuals who are interested in being a vendor should call (219) 455-9725.
Trot for Toys 5K Run/Walk
A first annual “Trot for Toys” 5K Run/Walk and Kiddie Fun Run 1K will be held Saturday, Dec. 21 at 10:00a.m. at Marquette Park Pavilion, 1 N. Grand Blvd. Registration begins at 8:30a.m., and there is no cost to enter. Participants are instead asked to donate a new toy valued at $10 or more.
To register for the 5K, visit cause2compete.com. Each participant will receive a collector’s t-shirt from one of the previous races from around the region (while supplies last). Parking will be available in the main beach parking lot for $5 until 9:45a.m. For more information about the race, call Tom Taylor at (219) 395-4503.
For those who would like to donate toys to this cause, drop-off locations are listed below:
Gary City Hall, 401 Broadway
City Hall Annex, 839 Broadway
Marquette Park Pavilion, 1 N. Grand Blvd.
Hudson & Campbell Fitness Center, 455 Massachusetts St.
Gary Housing Authority, 578 Broadway
All toys will be distributed to youth who are clients of several Gary shelters and residents in Gary Housing Authority properties....
(Photo Courtesy of Valparaiso Police)
Police in Valparaiso are seeking the public's help to identify an armed robbery suspect. Police report they were called out to Valpo Quick Trip Convenience Store, in the 300 block of Lincolnway, at approximately 9:14pm on Monday night, and at this time, police believe it is likely that the same suspect also robbed the store on Friday, November 22nd. The suspect is described as a black male, 5'9” to 5'10”, wearing a black and red hooded sweatshirt, with a distinct diamond pattern on the sweatshirt. Anyone with any information regarding these robberies is asked to contact Valparaiso Police. ...
(Photo Courtesy of Indiana State Prison)
The Superintendent of the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City was recently re-certified as a Certified Corrections Executive by the American Correctional Association. William Wilson's re-certification required the completion of 100 continuing education contact hours and he became certified by qualifying for and successfully passing a comprehensive examination that test his knowledge as a Corrections Executive. Indiana Department of Correction Commissioner Bruce Lemmon says Wilson's commitment to continuously up-date his skills epitomizes his professionalism in the corrections field and he continues to be an asset to the Indiana State Prison and the Indiana Department of Corrections. ...
Police in Merrillville recently wrapped up their 25 day mobilization of the 2013 Safe Family Travels Seatbelt/Impaired Driving enforcement campaign, which featured 16 seatbelt patrols and two impaired driving patrols. Merrillville Police report a total of 232 citations were issued, including 147 seatbelt tickets, one child restraint citation, three DUI arrests and ten miscellaneous Misdemeanor arrests. Sgt. Kurt Horvath says while the enforcement campaign maybe over in Merrillville, it is no excuse to not wear a seatbelt and officers will continue to enforce seatbelt laws as well as continue to look for impaired drivers....
The University of Notre Dame is re-filing a lawsuit against the Obama administration over a federal mandate that health insurance plans include birth control. ABC News reports Notre Dame filed a lawsuit in May of 2012, but the suit was considered premature, because the law had not gone into effect. Now the suit is being re-filed by the university, just before the law takes effect January 1st, and a week after the US Supreme Court agreed to consider two cases where businesses objected to covering birth control for religious reasons. Notre Dame says the federal mandate that all employees be covered for birth control violates the Catholic school's rights under the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. ...
(Photo Courtesy of Munster Police)
Authorities are seeking the public's help in locating a missing 21 year old Downer's Grove man. Munster Police report Richard Spindler III, who requires daily medication, took his sister's 2013 Hyundai on November 15th, after an issue arose while in Munster, which was located two days later by the Grant Park Police Department along with Spindler's cell phone. Police report Spindler was not located after a search of the area and has no access to other vehicles the family owns. Spindler is described as a white male, 6'02”weighing 145 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes, and was last seen wearing a black winter jacket and workout pants. Spindler's father resides in Munster and police report possible sightings in Crown Point, Merrillville and Winfield....
(Photo Courtesy of INDOT)
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Nine Span Bridge on Indianapolis Boulevard is scheduled to take place next week. INDOT reports Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann, the Mayors of East Chicago and Hammond, local elected officials and INDOT will unveil a historic marker commemorating the old Nine Span bridge. INDOT Spokesperson Matt Deitchley recently told the Region News Team they are looking forward to getting folks on the new bridge, which will feature two-lanes in each direction.
The ribbon-cutting is scheduled to take place at 12:30pm, Monday, December 9th, and the new bridge is expected to be open to traffic later that same day. ...
Lake County Surveyor George Van Til today issued a statement saying he is resigning his position effective Thursday. According to the statement, Van Til says, “I believe that my political skills have often been a positive force for good yet, in the end, I let political campaigns intrude into the taxpayers work negatively and, ultimately, illegally. And for this, now, in declining health and regretting my errors, I need to leave.”
On Monday, Van Til agreed to plead guilty to six-counts of wire fraud, one-week before a trial was set to begin and a change of plea hearing is scheduled for Thursday afternoon. The 65-year-old, who's been Lake County's surveyor for more than twenty years, is accused of using county employees in his office to do campaign work. The plea deal would also require Van Til to pay restitution, and two obstruction of justice charges would be dropped. State law prohibits public officials convicted of felonies from holding office.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2013
STATEMENT FROM GEORGE VAN TIL
LAKE COUNTY SURVEYOR
UPON SENDING LETTER OF RESIGNATION
DECEMBER 3, 2013
Forty four years ago, as a part-time college student, I walked into a Political Science Club meeting at Indiana University Northwest and while about the same time, I signed up to help as a Clerical Union Organizer at Bethlehem Steel where I was employed. I was just a struggling young father with an autistic son.
That was the beginning of my public political involvement in our area. It quickly led to my election to the first of two terms on the Highland Town Board in 1971 at the age of 24 and on to working on the staff of the Indiana House of Representatives; the U.S. Senate; the North Township Trustee; the County Sheriff’s Department, and much, much more.
I involved myself in literally dozens of voluntary civic, charitable and environmental groups and causes, unmatched by any political leader, while later I was elected by a caucus to serve on the Lake County Council followed by my election in 1992 to the first of six (6) terms as Lake County Surveyor.
These 40 plus years, by most accounts, were good, honest public service. At virtually every step along the way I left positive projects and programs for the people in my wake. From the wonderful Gazebo, in Highland’s Main Square decades ago to continuous improvements in the County Surveyor’s office as recent as a very productive meeting last week. Making a positive impact through public service has always been my goal, my career, and the reality of my service. Few will try to dispute this except for naysayers and political old-timers who never liked my reform agenda. BUT, now this all ends. I’m finished. It’s done. I am resigning my position as Lake County Surveyor effective December 5, 2013.
I think that I have given valuable public service, but I’m certainly not indispensable. I know that I have served with integrity, but I’ve made significant mistakes. I believe that my political skills have often been a positive force for good yet, in the end, I let political campaigns intrude into the taxpayers work negatively and, ultimately, illegally. And for this, now, in declining health and regretting my errors, I need to leave.
I now know I stayed too long. I have been involved in more than 66 elections. I’ve run and won, myself, 17 times, and for those honors I will always be grateful to the good voters of our area. Also, I’ve played a significant role in dozens of other people’s campaigns for public office, most of them good. I did it honorably and honestly until, in the end, tired, sick and uncertain, I did it wrong.
I know that the people’s employees and the people’s resources are for the people’s business. And for decades that’s the way I rolled in spite of literally countless examples from others who showed no respect for this model. Throughout four decades I’ve seen many abuses of political campaigning by public employees and, while it was always my goal and desire not to cross that line, towards the end I definitely did, and I think that much of this came from staying too long and taking things for granted.
I’ve always argued that long service in the same public office can be very beneficial to the taxpayers. I believe I proved that, with the expertise and institutional knowledge that I built up through the years that is valuable in an office like County Surveyor.
But now I’ve come to acknowledge that long service in the same office can be detrimental and I believe that I am an example of the problems that can be caused by this. During the last third or so of my tenure, without really realizing it, I developed a sense that it was “my office” and “my staff”, and sometimes, especially in political situations, I approached it as such, on occasion asking employees to work for me, not the public. This was something that, that in retrospect gradually developed. I knew better, but as the years went by, as my enthusiasm for politics waned, as campaigns became more onerous, as my age climbed, as my health declined and as my comfort in the office increased, I gained a sense of entitlement that was wrong, and led to my wrong doing and my downfall.
So with these problems that I caused myself plus the lies of some who saw opportunities in my mistakes, along with the discoveries by the federal government which are outlined in my plea agreement, combined with my rapidly declining health, I now must leave the office I’ve served in and loved. It is terribly difficult for me, but the right thing to do.
My mistakes have cost me the end of my career, my stature, my good reputation, my livelihood, my savings and the respect of many, in spite of whatever public good I’ve produced. The Van Til family and name have been respected here in Lake County for more than 100 years and though I mostly added to that, in the end I did not uphold it as I should have. This is heartbreaking to me and my family and friends. It should have not turned out this way. I am sorry and I apologize to those who’ve expressed faith in me for so long and to the taxpayers of Lake County that I let down.
I ask those who believed in me for forgiveness. I apologize to the public for not staying the course. And so I say good-bye and God bless, and ask if you should run into my dear son, who was always so proud of me, if you can find it in your heart, please tell him that that his dad was a good and decent man who tried to do the right thing, and most often did, loving the practice of Public Service, and loving Lake County and the people of it....
The state has been grappling with a 100 billion dollar pension crisis. At one point the governor withheld lawmakers' paychecks until they reached a deal. However that move was deemed unconstitutional. The latest agreement, reached by state leadership calls for a raising of the retirement age, adding a 401(k)-style option, reducing employee contributions, and changing the cost of living increases. Labor unions are calling the deal unconstitutional, and are threatening a lawsuit if it passes. A full vote could come as soon as today. ...
- NIRPC Transportation Policy Committee Aprroves Illiana
- Cause of Hebron House Fire Not Yet Known
- Officer Injured Responding to Disturbance
- Coast Guard 'Christmas Ship' to Deliver Trees
- Arrest Made in Overnight Shooting
- Times Managing Editor to Head Bishop Noll
- Cyber Monday Shoppers Reminded of 'Use Tax'
- Trial Begins in Alleged Hit-Run Jail Officer Death
- Investigations Continue Into Deadly Gary Shootings
- Valpo Schools to Discuss Electronic Report Cards
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