Several Depts Respond to Wheeler House Fire

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Crews from three counties responded to a structure fire in Wheeler Tuesday night. Union Volunteer Fire Department Chief Tim Beach tells the Region News Team the blaze on County Road 625 West broke out at a house that was being rebuilt after a fire there in 2011.  "From what I'm being told, ninety-percent of the home was rebuilt, and they were getting ready to get some appliances, and I believe move in within the next couple of months," said Beach.  Chief Beach says crews arrived shortly after 10 pm and the log cabin style home was fully involved. Fire crews from around northwest Indiana responded, from as far as Crown Point and Westville in Lake and La Porte Counties, along with crews from across Porter County.  There were no injuries. Beach says the house is a total loss. Crews left the scene just before 3 am and Beach said investigators from Union Township, Indiana State Fire Marshal, ATF, and Porter County FIST, Fire Investigation Strike Team, were on scene today. ...

Read more: Several Depts Respond to Wheeler House Fire


Local Restaurant on 'Restaurant Impossible'

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A local restaurant is being featured on a national television show tonight. The episode, titled “Unlucky Seven” on Food Network's “Restaurant Impossible” unveils details of a visit from Chef Robert Irvine and his staff to the La Porte eatery called “SEVEN” back in September. The show says their crew takes on the challenge of renovating and rejuvenating a struggling restaurant, updating menus and decor, and retraining staff, in two days on a ten-thousand dollar budget.  (9 pm Central Nov 27)...

Read more: Local Restaurant on 'Restaurant Impossible'


New Jury Chosen in Lake Co Jail Officer's Death

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In Lake County court, opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday in the trial of a Lakes of the Four Seasons man accused in an alleged hit-and-run crash that killed Lake County Corrections Officer Brittney Meux and injured three others in March 2012. 43-year-old Jason Cozmanoff faces multiple felony counts. A mistrial was declared this past June, after a jury was selected, after officials say a man who was part of the jury pool informed the court he witnessed the accident. Police say the officers were struck while jogging along 93rd Street not far from the Lake County Government Center in Crown Point....

Read more: New Jury Chosen in Lake Co Jail Officer's Death


Lunchmeat Co Moving S Holland Center to Munster

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A company based out of Homewood, Illinois, has announced plans to relocate its South Holland distribution center to Munster, putting 55 additional jobs in Lake County by 2016. Indiana officials say Carl Buddig & Company, a producer of sliced and packaged lunchmeat, will invest $3.7 million to lease and refurbish the 65,000 square-foot former Dawn Foods facility at 215 45th Ave. in Munster. The facility, which is expected to begin operations in March, will enable the company to increase its available warehouse and dock space, growing capacity for added production lines across the company. Buddig currently employs more than 1,000 associates nationally with its subsidiary Old Wisconsin Sausage. 
"Illinois companies are on the move--to Indiana," said Victor Smith, Indiana Secretary of Commerce. "From Buddig to recent announcements from firms like MAC Medical and Tec Air, Illinois companies continue to discover that our low taxes, limited regulations, growing infrastructure and skilled workforce make Indiana a state that works for business. Welcome to Indiana, Buddig, and may you enjoy many years of growth and job creation here in the Hoosier State." 
"Moving into the new Munster facility was an easy decision for the company," said Dan Wynn, chief operating officer of Buddig. "Finding a food grade facility within 10 miles from the plant was a major factor in the decision. Also, since the Dawn facility was partially refrigerated, the company was able to reduce the investment needed to refrigerate the entire facility. Last, lower real estate tax rates and an overall more affordable cost of doing business definitely created an attractive financial proposition."
Founded in 1937, Buddig is a family-owned and operated business.  The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Carl Buddig and Company up to $300,000 in conditional tax credits based on the company's job creation plans. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. The city of Munster approved additional incentives.
"We are always proud to announce when another company decides to relocate to the town of Munster," said Joseph A. Simonetto, president of the Munster Town Council. "When it is a renowned and family-owned company like Buddig that announces they would like to open logistical operations in the town of Munster, we are ecstatic. The investment dollars and the jobs this company brings are wonderful for our community."
Last month, Illinois-based MAC Medical and Tec Air announced plans to move operations east of the Illinois-Indiana border to Munster, creating a combined nearly 300 new Hoosier jobs and more than $16 million in capital investment....

Read more: Lunchmeat Co Moving S Holland Center to Munster


Comments Fly Over Air Show Announcement

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Discussion continues to swirl around the South Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau decision to move the air show, held for more than a decade at Marquette Park in Gary's Miller Beach, to Fair Oaks Farms. Talk began most publicly perhaps within about 24-hours of last week's announcement, after critical comments from Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. questioning the decision to move the Lake County event about forty miles south to Newton County. A Facebook page against the move has since sprung up. South Shore CVA President CEO Speros Batistatos says Fair Oaks Farms is growing at an exponential rate and hosting the air show there will be an opportunity to "bring in new facets to an event that is already a 'must-attend' for residents and visitors," according to a news release issued by the visitors bureau. This past summer's air show in Gary was canceled due to automatic federal spending cuts known as sequestration....

Read more: Comments Fly Over Air Show Announcement


FBI Requests Info on County Wellness Contract

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Last year the Porter County Board of Commissioners changed the wellness and health clinic services contract for county employees from HealtheACCESS to Porter Regional Hospital's CareEXPRESS. Now the FBI has reportedly requested documents regarding the decision that was made last December. Mike Anton of Anton Insurance serves as servicing agent for Porter County's employee health plan and told the Times the process was transparent and he knew of no reason for concern. Officials say of the proposals considered, Porter's was the only one not charging a flat fee regardless of use....

Read more: FBI Requests Info on County Wellness Contract


Region Invited To Community Thanksgiving Dinner

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For most Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family and eat a big meal. What if that wasn't an option? Would you stay home alone? Skip the holiday all together? The Sales family in Laporte has a better idea, come to the William D. Sales Thanksgiving Dinner. The dinner is open to anyone who would like to stop by American Legion Post 83 in Laporte, Thanksgiving day from 11a-2p. For more information listen to today's 219 or Annie's full interview with David Sales On Demand here on our website....

Read more: Region Invited To Community Thanksgiving Dinner


Low Number of Weapons Turned In at Gun Buyback

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City of Gary
The City of Gary held a gun buyback event on Saturday at six local churches but police report the turn in number was very low compared to previous events. Gary Police Corp. Gabrielle King says a total of 29 weapons, 23 pistols and six rifles were turned in, despite an incentive from the city to give GED testing vouchers to the first 50 people. City Director of Communications Chelsea Whittington says even with the low turn out, anytime you get guns off the streets it is a victory.
Whittington says ten citizens signed up to receive the testing vouchers on Saturday and the city plans to continue using the GED testing voucher as an incentive with future gun buybacks, the next occurring by the first of the year. ...

Read more: Low Number of Weapons Turned In at Gun Buyback


NIRPC Releases Illiana Expressway Staff Analysis

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NIRPC today released a 55 page staff analysis on the Illiana Expressway to guide regional decision makers as they debate the proposal to include the project as an amendment in their 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan. The report is mixed and does not take a stand on the project. Four NIRPC committees will take up the issue next month, the first of which is the Transportation Policy Committee on December 3rd, with the full NIRPC Commission voting on December 12th, and only the Transportation Policy Committee and Full Commission votes are binding on the inclusion of the Illiana Expressway into the 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan. INDOT has requested both the Illiana Expressway and the widening on I-65, between US 30 and US 231, be included in the amendment. For a link to read the entire report, visit

Read more: NIRPC Releases Illiana Expressway Staff Analysis


Hoosier Drivers Not Prepared for Winter WX Emergency

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IDHS logo
According to a recent survey conducted by the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, about 75 percent of Indiana respondents indicated they did not have a preparedness kit in their vehicle. Officials are encouraging Hoosiers to check their tire pressure and tread depth, the age of car batteries, anti-freeze levels and age, car heater and defroster operation, as well as windshield wipers and blades.
In addition to winter vehicle preparation, IDHS suggests creating and putting a winter weather preparedness kit in each vehicle in case of a weather-related emergency like an accident, car trouble or slide-offs. An emergency car kit is essential any time of year and should include the following items, with special emphasis this time of year on water, food and warmth:
·         At least two blankets or a sleeping bag;
·         Flashlight and extra batteries;
·         Booster (jumper) cables;
·         Emergency flares;
·         Extra clothing, including boots, hats and gloves;
·         Shovel
·         Bottled water and non-perishable foods like granola bars, raisins, nuts, peanut butter or cheese crackers;
·         First-aid kit and necessary medications;
·         Sand or non-clumping kitty litter for tire traction;
·         Cell phone and charger for vehicle use; and
·         Ice scraper and snow brush.
Erickson says drivers who become stranded should try to stay calm, call for help if possible and keep in mind the following precautions:
·         Unless there is a safe structure nearby, do not leave the car, since it is the best protection;
·         Run the engine for 10 minutes every hour to stay warm. An idling car only uses about one gallon of gas per hour;
·         Tie a brightly colored cloth to the car for rescuers to see;
·         Light a flare or turn on a flashlight to let others know you are stranded;
·         Make sure the exhaust pipe is free of any blockage to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning; and
·         Keep hydrated by drinking water from your preparedness kit. Don’t eat snow, as it will lower body temperature.

During severe winter weather or if inclement weather is approaching, IDHS recommends staying home, if possible. If the trip is absolutely necessary, Erickson says it’s a good idea to let someone know your destination, route and expected time of arrival.

Read more: Hoosier Drivers Not Prepared for Winter WX Emergency


Right Lane Restriction SB I-65 Removed

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Right Lane Restriction SB I-65 Removed
Crews have reopened the right lane southbound I-65 as daytime road work has wrapped up for the day in the southbound direction.  In the photo, the orange barrels can be seen moved to the right hand shoulder.
The right lane restriction northbound I-65 remains near 45th Avenue with northbound lanes I-65 backing up a little before 61st Avenue. 
The right lane closure southbound I-65 at one time backed up traffic eastbound on the Borman (I-80/94) from Cline Avenue with all southbound lanes running below posted speeds from almost the Indiana Toll Road.
Speaking of the Toll Road, ITR Consessions Company,  the firm that operates the Indiana Toll Road, has issued a WInter Weather Ban from 6p.m. CST (7:00p.m. EST) Tuesday, November, 26, 2013 through 6:00p.m. CST (7:00p.m. EST) Wednesday, November 27, 2013 from Valparaiso through South bend West on the Indiana Toll Road.  The ban is in effect for all triples, and long-doubles including steel haulers, according to ITR.
(photo:  INDOT )


Read more: Right Lane Restriction SB I-65 Removed


US Marshals Fugitive of the Week: Kenneth King

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kenneth king
(Photo Courtesy of the US Marshals Service)
A 31 year old man wanted by the Lake County Sheriff's Department for child molesting is this week's US Marshals Service, Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force “Fugitive of the Week.” Authorities report Kenneth Markie King has been known to reside throughout northwest Indiana, with ties to East Chicago, Gary, Lake Station and Indianapolis. King is described as a black male, six-feet tall, weighing 205 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information on Kenneth Markie King and his whereabouts may contact task force investigators by calling toll-free (888) 805-6119 or by texting “capture” to Tip411 (847411). All tipsters will remain anonymous....

Read more: US Marshals Fugitive of the Week: Kenneth King


Man Charged After Pulling a Gun and Pointing It at His Wife

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john wall
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A 48 year old man from the Hebron-area was taken into custody on Monday, after being released from a hospital for an evaluation, on charges he allegedly pointed a gun at his wife and fired it while both in a barn on their property. The Times reports John Wall confronted his wife around 1:30am on Saturday, inquiring about who she had talked with on her phone, and then threw her to the ground and took her phone. According to the article, about 40 minutes later, the wife heard noises outside and went out to the barn to investigate when she was allegedly shoved inside and kept from leaving by her husband. The woman reportedly informed police Wall pulled a gun from his coat and pointed it at her, and then fired a shot in an unknown direction before pointing the gun at himself, grabbing his wife's hands and asking her to shoot him. ...

Read more: Man Charged After Pulling a Gun and Pointing It at His Wife


Daytime Road Work Backing-up Both Directions I-65

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11-26-13  NB I-65 backing up at 61st
Drivers can expect possible backups and delays traveling both directions of I-65 in the Gary corridor.  INDOT is reporting that the right lane of both northbound and southbound I-65 is restricted near Ridge Road for daytime road work.  INDOT traffic cam (photo above) is showing the right lane restriction on the northbound side close to 53rd Avenue with traffic backing up from before 61st Avenue. 

11-26-13  SB I-65 backup
(INDOT traffic cam view shows traffic backing up southbound I-65 due to the right lane being restricted near 45th Avenue for daytime road work)

The southbound right lane I-65 is closed near 45th Avenue as seen in the above photo.  Drivers should expect delays both directions I-65 especially southbound I-65 coming from the Borman ( I-80/94) with traffic backing onto the right lanes eastbound 80/94. 
Traffic tipsters are reporting bigger backups perhaps due to more drivers on area roads who are getting a head start on the holiday or simply expediting their travel plans due to the lake effect snow being predicted to begin later Tuesday evening into Wednesday.
(photos:  INDOT )...

Read more: Daytime Road Work Backing-up Both Directions I-65


Ford Escape SUV Recall Due to Oil and Fuel Leaks

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Over 160-thousand Ford Escape SUV's are being recalled worldwide. ABC News reports the small Ford Escape SUV has been recalled seven times since it was redesigned in 2012. This time two recalls involve fixing oil and fuel leaks that could cause engine fires. 13 fires have been reported but Ford says nobody has been injured. Dealers will inspect and fix any impacted Escapes beginning in January. ...

Read more: Ford Escape SUV Recall Due to Oil and Fuel Leaks


Investigation Continues into Portage Bait Shop Robbery

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portage pd
In Portage, police are seeking the public's assistance as they continue their investigation into an armed robbery at a business Sunday morning in the 62-hundred block of US 20. Portage Police report the suspect allegedly entered Quick Step Outdoors bait shop around 10am, used a knife from the store's counter to threatened the owner and left with an undisclosed amount of money. Police report the suspect is described as a white male, 5'10” with a heavy build, in his mid 30's, wearing a blue coat and a blue winter cap. Surveillance footage from a nearby gas station reportedly shows the suspect driving a large white SUV, with an Indiana handicapped license plate from White County. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Portage Police. ...

Read more: Investigation Continues into Portage Bait Shop Robbery


Poachers Caught Hunting Illegally in National Lakeshore

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national park service
Officials say two men were apprehended hunting illegally in Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in separate incidents this month. On Friday November 15th, National Park Service rangers say they located a Buchanan, Michigan man hunting in a tree stand approximately 75 yards inside the park boundary near Mount Baldy in Michigan City. The next day, a ranger on patrol in the Pinhook Bog area of the park discovered a Valparaiso man allegedly standing in an illegal tree stand about 150 yards inside the park boundary in possession of hunting gear. Hunting within Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is prohibited under federal law and both men are facing charges. Violators are also subject to the seizure and forfeiture of all equipment, including firearms and vehicles.
Additional information from the National Park Service:
Hunters may not pursue, dress out, or transport legally wounded or killed animals that end up within park boundaries unless they are accompanied by a park ranger. Hunters should call 1-800-ParkTip to report any such incidents and to request assistance. Legally taken animals may not be stored overnight anywhere in the park, including campgrounds, parking lots, or any other visitor facilities. All park roads are closed to the transportation of lawfully taken wildlife, unless specifically approved in writing by a park ranger. Individuals hunting near the park boundary are reminded to be familiar with the location of the park and to confirm that the area they are hunting in is not inside the boundary.
The National Park Service welcomes the public’s assistance in helping to protect the park’s wildlife. Illegal or suspicious hunting activity can be reported to the 1-800-ParkTip line 24 hours a day seven days a week. Reporting parties do not have to identify themselves and all reports are kept confidential.  For more information click

Read more: Poachers Caught Hunting Illegally in National Lakeshore


Extra Police Patrols in Valpo for Thanksgiving Holiday

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Valpo PD
Police in Valparaiso will be working extra patrols tomorrow night and throughout Thanksgiving weekend as part of the “Safe Family Travels” enforcement blitz. Officers will be searching for aggressive driving, speeding motorists, seat violations and impaired drivers. Valparaiso Police report the night before Thanksgiving has become a popular night for consuming alcohol, so they are encouraging everyone who does drink to please drink responsibly. Motorists are also encouraged to report impaired drivers from their cell phone when they observe erratic driving....

Read more: Extra Police Patrols in Valpo for Thanksgiving Holiday


Winter Weather Ban Issued for Indiana Toll Road

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ITR Concessions Company has issued a Winter Weather Ban in effect Tuesday, November 26, 2013 beginning at 07:00 pm EST through Wednesday, November 27, 2013 07:00 pm EST from Valparaiso through South Bend West on the Indiana Toll Road. This ban is in effect for all triples, and long-doubles including steel haulers.


Read more: Winter Weather Ban Issued for Indiana Toll Road


Gov Pence Accepts State Auditor's Resignation

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dwayne sawyer
Indiana Governor Mike Pence today announced that he has accepted Dwayne Sawyer’s resignation as State Auditor, effective next month. In his letter of resignation, Sawyer said he was leaving due to “family and personal concerns.” In August, Sawyer, former town council president for Brownsburg, Indiana, was named auditor to finish Tim Berry's term, which runs through 2014. Sawyer was the first black Republican to hold statewide office in Indiana. Berry left after being elected chair of the State Republican Party.
“I have accepted Dwayne Sawyer’s resignation as Auditor of State effective December 15, 2013.  His reason for resigning had to do with personal and family circumstances, and I respect his decision to step aside. Hoosiers can be assured that Mr. Sawyer’s resignation had nothing to do with his fiduciary responsibilities for the state or his execution of his duties as Auditor. This office will always be grateful for Mr. Sawyer’s service and wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Sawyer stated in his letter of resignation, “Due to family and personal concerns, I have come to the conclusion that it will be in the best interests of my family and the people of Indiana whom I have been honored to serve that I resign from the office of Indiana auditor of state.”...

Read more: Gov Pence Accepts State Auditor's Resignation


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Region News Team
Region News Team
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Region News Team


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