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I-DNR Finds No Indication of Alligator in Indy

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Indiana Conservation Officers found no indications that an alligator is or has been found in a retention pond in Marion County Tuesday. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources reports an alligator sighting was first reported in the 35-hundred block of DePauw Blvd, in Indianapolis, on June 7th, with two other sightings since that initial report. Officials say while nothing has been found, it doesn't eliminate the possibility one could still be in the pond, and they advise caution and to report if any other sightings. Conservation officers say alligators have been found in Indiana waters in the past, mainly due to people releasing them.
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Read more: I-DNR Finds No Indication of Alligator in Indy

 

Lightning Safety Awareness Week (6/23-30)

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In light of recent lightning strikes in the news and in recognition of Lightning Safety Awareness Week (June 23 - June 30), the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH)® offers the following tips to keep families reduce their risk of lightning injuries:
Before the Storm
  • Stay alert and listen carefully for the first signs of lightning or thunder. Remember, “If Thunder Roars, Go Indoors™.”
  • Seek shelter. Lightning often hits before the rain begins, so don’t wait for the rain to start before leaving.
If Outdoors
  • Avoid water, high ground and open spaces.
  • Stay away from metal objects including wires, fences and motors.
  • Find shelter in a sizable building or in a fully enclosed metal vehicle like a car or truck. Completely close the windows and don’t lean on the doors.
  • Don’t get under a small canopy, small picnic shelter or near trees.
  • If you cannot take shelter indoors, crouch down with your feet together and place your hands over your ears to minimize hearing damage from the thunder.
  • Stay at least 15 feet away from other people.
If Indoors
  • Avoid water and stay away from doors and windows.
  • Do not use landline telephone or headsets. Cell phones are safe.
  • Turn off, unplug and stay away from appliances, computers, power tools and televisions sets as lightning may strike exterior electric and phone lines inducing shocks to equipment inside.
After the Storm
  • Don’t resume activities until at least 30 minutes after the last lightning strike or thunderclap.
  • Call 911 immediately if anyone is injured and use first aid procedures.
  • Lightning victims do not carry an electrical charge, so it is safe to administer medical treatment.

For more information on protecting your home and family from dangerous lightning strikes, visit www.flash.org. For severe weather alerts and mitigation tips, download FLASH Weather Alerts at www.flashweatheralerts.org
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Read more: Lightning Safety Awareness Week (6/23-30)

 

Coats: Obama's Climate Action Plan is Damaging to Indiana

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Senator Dan Coats
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s announcement that he will bypass Congress and issue a series of executive actions to enact a national energy tax and close existing coal-fired power plants:
“Once again President Obama is circumventing Congress and the will of the American people to implement policies that have already been rejected. Imposing a backdoor energy tax and unrealistic regulations on coal power plants is a recipe for disaster in Indiana and across the country. Instead of encouraging job creation and an economic recovery, President Obama is empowering unelected Washington bureaucrats to implement regulations that will result in significant job losses and skyrocketing energy costs.
“Our country has taken great strides to improve air quality over the years. To date, the utility industry has spent over $100 billion in capital investment for air pollution controls resulting in significant declines in emissions. By singling out these providers and effectively prohibiting coal-fired electricity generation, the president is putting our economic well-being, grid reliability and American jobs at risk. This unreasonable plan will damage Indiana’s economy and hike electric bills for all Hoosiers.”
On June 13, Coats joined a bipartisan group of the Indiana congressional delegation in a letter to President Obama highlighting the importance of coal-fired generation to Indiana and urging the administration to abandon a proposal of imposing a one-size-fits-all carbon regulation on power plants.
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City of Valparaiso Reminds of Fireworks Guidelines

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The 4th of July holiday is a time of celebration, but also a time of potential dangers. The City of Valparaiso is reminding residents that restrictions are in place regarding the use of fireworks, and that penalties may result from violations. The guidelines include:
  • Fireworks may be used only on the user’s property or on the property of someone who has consented to the use of fireworks.
  • Fireworks are not permitted on public property or in areas where fireworks will land on, litter or end up on public property or private property (unless the property owner has consented).
  • To prevent fireworks and their debris from polluting waterways, all fireworks litter must be extinguished, retrieved, and disposed of in the trash by those using the fireworks.
  • Fireworks are permitted only between the hours of 5 pm and midnight on July 4th. On all other days of the year, fireworks are permitted between the hours of 5 pm and two hours after sunset, with the exception also of Dec. 31, where fireworks are permitted from 5 pm to 1 am on Jan. 1. All other guidelines apply.
  • Fireworks may be purchased only by persons 18 years of age and older and children may possess or use fireworks only with an adult present.

Further, Valparaiso’s Fireworks ordinance states that those using fireworks must comply with the guidelines above or risk penalties for violation. Those using fireworks are liable for damage to person or property caused by the use of consumer fireworks, special fireworks or banned fireworks, and shall also be liable for costs of fire service by a responding fire department or other emergency services necessitated by the use or discharge of fireworks.
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Pence Comments on Obama's Climate Action Plan

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Gov Mike Pence
INDIANAPOLIS - Today, President Obama announced his Climate Action Plan, which takes the unprecedented step of calling for carbon dioxide emission standards for both new and existing power plants.  The Environmental Protection Agency has already begun the rulemaking process for regulating carbon dioxide emissions at new power plants.  Governor Pence recently wrote President Obama in opposition to the EPA’s rulemaking. The President’s announcement today to extend the carbon dioxide regulations to existing power plants will raise electricity costs for Hoosiers.
“The President’s proposed carbon dioxide regulations will have a significant and detrimental impact on states like Indiana that rely on coal for reliable, affordable electricity,” said Indiana Governor Mike Pence.  “These regulations will increase the cost of electricity on Hoosier families and businesses at a time when our economy can least afford it.  Instead of driving up the cost of energy, the President should be focused on creating jobs.”
Governor Pence adds, “We need an all of the above energy strategy that uses coal, wind, solar, nuclear and natural gas to meet our energy needs.  These proposed regulations are inconsistent with an all of the above strategy.”
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Read more: Pence Comments on Obama's Climate Action Plan

 

City of Gary Announces Cooling Center Locations

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City of Gary
June 25, 2013 -- In collaboration with the City of Gary and NIPSCO, the Gary Community School Corporation is providing additional cooling centers to support Gary families who have been affected by power outages. There will be cold water available at each site.
“In times of emergency, it is wonderful that we are able to come together quickly and forge partnerships to meet the needs of our citizens,” said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. “I would like to publicly thank Superintendent Pruitt and the Gary Community School Corporation as well as NIPSCO for helping us to secure these cooling centers.”
The following locations have been designated as community Cooling Centers:
Genesis Convention Center, 5th Ave. & Broadway
This cooling center will be open today, June 25th from 2:00p.m. - 5:00p.m. and will reopen tomorrow June 26th from 9:00am -- 5:00p.m. 

Williams Elementary School, 1320 E. 19th Ave.
This cooling center will be open today, June 25th from 2:00p.m. - 7:00p.m. and will reopen tomorrow June 26th from 8:00a.m. – 7:00p.m. 

McCullough Girls Academy, 3757 W. 21st Ave
This cooling center will be open today from 2:00p.m.-7:00p.m. and will reopen tomorrow June 26th from 8:00a.m. -- 7:00p.m. 

Gary residents who need to report fallen trees and other storm emergencies are encouraged to call (219) 881-1311. More information regarding the City of Gary 311 System is listed in the attachment.
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Company Thanks 1st Responders, Offers Condolences to Family

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Co-Alliance, LLP, today issued a statement saying their thoughts and prayers go out to the family of 67 year old James Swank, of Union Mills, who had worked at the facility for seven-years before tragically losing his life in a grain explosion accident Monday afternoon. The company reports the focus for the cause of the explosion is centered on grain dust ignition, as preliminary indications are that an explosion took place at the top of the grain elevator. They report that in the days to come, they will work closely with investigating agencies to provide any assistance necessary. Co-Alliance also thanks all the first responders for their quick and professional efforts in securing the facility and providing assistance to employees. Grief counselors were scheduled to be on site at the facility today and at last check funeral arrangement for James Swank are pending.
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Portage Dealing with Grass Clippings Issue

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The city of Portage is having to deal with grass clippings. They're not being picked up at the curb by the city anymore, and so many bags of them have been left outside the street department that they'll have to be hauled to a Newton County landfill – but that will cost. The Times reports that's because there's no more room at the city compost site for them, but they're trying to address that. The city is encouraging residents to use mulching mowers and leave the clippings on their lawn to decompose.
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New Trial for Man Accused of Killing Corrections Officer

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A new trial date will be set Monday in the case of a man accused in an alleged hit-and-run crash that killed Lake County Corrections Officer Brittney Meux and injured three others after the judge today excused the jury. The judge made the decision after a man apart of the jury pool stated he witnessed the incident take place along West 93rd Avenue in Crown Point in March of last year. 43-year-old Jason Cozmanoff, of Lakes of the Four Seasons, faces charges that include reckless homicide and criminal recklessness. Earlier this month a Lake County judge approved a request from the defense to remove a memorial for Meux [mew] at the Lake County Government Center and Court complex before and during the length of the trial.
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Read more: New Trial for Man Accused of Killing Corrections Officer

 

Griffith PD Investigating Armed Robbery at Walgreens

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Griffith PD
Police in Griffith are asking for the public's help after an armed robbery Monday evening. Authorities report a white male in his 40's wearing a blue hoodie pulled all the way up around his face, dark glasses, a blue and white striped shirt, and blue jeans, displayed a gun and demanded controlled substances at the Walgreens in the 12-hundred block of East Ridge Road at approximately 7:35pm. Police say the subject departed south on Colfax in an older model white Chevrolet Cavalier, with the license plate covered by a plastic bag.  Anyone with information can contact the Griffith Police Department at (219) 924-3141 or their anonymous tip line at (219) 922-3085.
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Cleaning Up and Restoring Power After Monday's Storm

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carsmash Katie Reeves
(Photo Courtesy of Katie Reeves)
NIPSCO field personnel and contracted crews from several Midwest states continue working around the clock to restore power to their customers. Over 25-thousand remain without electricity at last check, according to their outage map, with the highest totals coming out of the Marquette Park area of Gary. Reported storm damage included numerous downed trees and limbs and near 80 mile per hour winds that caused down power lines, blocked roadways, and knocked out traffic signals. ...

Read more: Cleaning Up and Restoring Power After Monday's Storm

   

Valpo Cooling Center Locations

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The following Cooling Centers are available when the heat index exceeds 100 degrees for consecutive days.
  • Valparaiso University (219) 464-5000
Harre Union, 1509 Chapel Drive., open Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Christohper Center Library, 1410 Chapel Dr., open Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

  • Valparaiso YMCA, (219) 462-4185
1202 Cumberland Crossing, open Mon – Fri 5 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sat 7 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sun 12:30 p.m. – 6 p.m.

  • Porter County Public Library, Valparaiso Branch (219) 462-0524
103 Jefferson St., open Mon – Thurs 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Fri 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sat 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Vale Park Enrichment Center at Banta (219) 462-1301
605 Beech St., open Mon – Fri 8:30 – 4 p.m.

  • St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church (219) 464-4042
1511 LaPorte Ave., open every day 8 a.m. – 7 p.m.

In addition, the Valparaiso Police Department offers a special program for individuals who may need special help during weather emergencies, including times when the heat index exceeds 100 degrees for consecutive days. The Contact Assistance Referral (CARE) Program means the VPD wil check on residents during harsh weather. To register yourself or a loved one for CARE, contact Sergeant Michael Grennes at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (219)462-2135.
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Three Airlifted After US 6 Crash

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Three people were airlifted to Illinois hospitals after a crash north of Valparaiso around 9:30 Monday night. Porter County Sheriffs Police say the traffic signal was out due to the storm, and a passenger vehicle going north on Calumet Avenue struck the trailer of a semi going west on US 6. Police found the car pinned under the semi, and the officer had to crawl underneath to determine that there were three occupants in the car, but none could be extricated until a wrecker could lift the trailer off the car so it could be pulled free. Officials say the vehicles came to rest on US 6, about three-hundred feet west of the intersection.  Police say the driver and passengers from the car are from northwest Indiana, but their names are conditions were not available.   Porter County Sheriff David Lain says it appears the storm played a significant role in the incident, but an official cause is still pending.
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Hobart Opens Cooling Center

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Due to the high heat and humidity today, along with scattered power outages, the City of Hobart has opened the Community Center at Festival Park at 111 E. Ridge Rd. as a cooling center.
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Settlement Announced in 'Nose Doctor' Claims

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A Merrillville law firm has announced a 55-million dollar civil settlement for nearly three-hundred people who were once patients of the so-called 'Nose Doctor'M. Attorneys at Theodoros and Rooth say the settlement approved in Lake Superior Court is for malpractice claims filed against former Merrillville sinus doctor Mark Weinberger. Weinberger pleaded guilty last year to more than twenty counts of health care fraud and was sentenced to seven years in federal prison last October. Officials say Weinberger fled the U-S in 2004, and was found on a mountainside in Italy about five years later.
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Update: 87,000 Lose Power, Lake County Hard Hit

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Northern Indiana Public Service Company field personnel and contracted crews from several Midwest states continue working around the clock Tuesday to restore the more than 35-thousand electric customers system-wide who lost power when severe storms moved quickly across northwest and northern Indiana Monday evening (June 24). Since 7 p.m. Monday, NIPSCO field crews have restored more than 52,000 of the total 87,000 customer outages related to the storm. The outages were primarily due to broken utility poles, downed electrical wire and other related storm damage as a result of heavy wind and tree damage. The remaining electric customer outages today are mostly in Lake County, including Gary, Hammond, East Chicago, Munster, Highland, Merrillville and Lake Station. Other communities with significant customer outages include Valparaiso, LaPorte, and Michigan City.
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Read more: Update: 87,000 Lose Power, Lake County Hard Hit

   

Cline Avenue Land Transferred for New Toll Bridge

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In East Chicago, demolition of the former Cline Avenue Bridge has been completed, and the Indiana Department of Transportation has transferred its right of way holdings to a private company. INDOT and East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland signed agreements in 2012 with Cline Avenue Bridge LLC – a team from United Bridge Partners of American Infrastructure MLP Funds, FIGG Bridge Companies and Lane Construction Corporation – to build a new toll bridge entirely with private funds. As part of the transaction, sections of State Road 912 connecting the new bridge will receive approximately $3 million in resurfacing and paving work.
INDOT says the new Cline Avenue Bridge will have all-electronic toll collection when it opens to traffic using two basic payment programs: Transponders that are already used for regional toll systems like the Indiana Toll Road, and for drivers without transponders, a “pay by plate” option where the license plate is recognized and a bill is sent in the mail.
“United Bridge Partners is excited to be a part of the East Chicago community,” said Bob Hellman, Chairman of United Bridge Partners and CEO of American Infrastructure MLP Funds. “We look forward to providing a remarkable new modern bridge that is a solution to traffic congestion and will lead to a growth in jobs and opportunity for people and businesses throughout the region.”
Cline Avenue Bridge LLC is currently performing land surveys, design and traffic studies. Permit application materials are also being prepared and assembled for regulatory agencies. Once permitting is completed, bridge construction is anticipated to last 24 to 30 months.
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Deputy Wounded, K9 Killed in Standoff

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kilo
Indiana State Police say an Clark County Deputy Police Officer in downstate Sellersburg was wounded and an Indiana State Police K9 was killed during a standoff Monday afternoon. Sellersburg Police had called for assistance in a domestic call after authorities say an officer was confronted by a suspect who pointed a handgun at the officer. The officer took cover and shortly thereafter the suspect fled the area on foot and a foot pursuit ensued. Police say the suspect attempted to gain entry into a couple of residences in the neighborhood then entered one; no one was home at the time.
Trooper Nathan Abbott along with his K-9 partner, Kilo arrived at the scene. Kilo entered the residence first followed by several officers and shortly thereafter there was gunfire. The officers retreated from the residence but Kilo did not exit. At this point a standoff ensued. Officers from several area police agencies responded to the scene and secured the area. Two Indiana State Police SWAT teams along with a Clark County SWAT team also arrived on the scene.
Police say all afternoon negotiators attempted to establish dialog with the suspect who refused to respond to those attempts, and during the standoff a robot with a camera mounted to it was deployed inside the residence. The robot located the suspect inside the home however the suspect allegedly fired several rounds at the robot disabling the camera. The suspect also allegedly fired rounds at officers outside the residence wounding a Clark County Sheriff’s Deputy. The deputy was subsequently evacuated from the scene and flown to University Hospital in Louisville with non life-threatening injuries.
Police say after it was determined attempts to negotiate with the suspect were not going to be effective SWAT teams deployed numerous rounds of teargas inside the residence. At approximately 9:25 p.m. the suspect surrendered to officers ending the nearly 10 hour standoff.
The suspect, later identified as 31 year old Joshua L. Priddy of Sellersburg, was finally taken into custody. He is currently being held in the Clark County Jail on charges of Attempted Murder of a Police Officer (Class A Felony), Causing the Death of a Law Enforcement Animal (Class D Felony), Burglary (Class B Felony), Residential Entry (Class D Felony), Pointing a Firearm (Class D Felony), and Criminal Recklessness with a Firearm (Class C Felony).
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The Indiana State Police Alliance says Kilo’s handler was Nathan Abbott and their tour of duty with the ISP started January 5, 2007.  The Alliance say those who wish to make a donation in memory of Kilo can mail them to the address below, and 100% of all donations will be used to support the ISP K-9 program in memory of Kilo. These donations are also tax exempt. If you have any questions please contact Wayne Flick at the Indiana State Police Alliance, 317-636-0929
Please ensure you designate your donation is for the “Kilo Memorial Fund”. Donations may be made to the:
“Kilo Memorial Fund”
CFK/ISPA Foundation
1415 Shelby St.
Indianapolis, IN 46203...

Read more: Deputy Wounded, K9 Killed in Standoff

   

Signals Out Across the Region

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Traffic-Advisory
Last night's severe weather and the power outtages that came with have resulted in numerous traffic signal outages or malfunctions across the Region.  Traffic signal issues have been creating commuter delays this morning in busy areas including Munster, Highland, East Chicago, Merrillville, Chesterton and LaPorte.  In some cases, temporary four-way stop signs have been placed at key intersections.  When traffic signals malfunction or are dark, officials say motorists should treat the intersection as an all-way stop, unless law enforcement is on the scene directing traffic.   
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Michael Jackson's Death 4 Years Ago

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Four years ago today (Tue) a global music icon died. Gary-native King of Pop Michael Jackson passed away on June 25, 2009, at the age of 50.   Alex Stone of ABC News covered Jackson's death, and saysl Jackson was in bed -- receiving the anesthetic Propofol to help him sleep -- when he died  "He had been on a grueling rehearsal schedule for a concert series in London. His assistant called 911," Stone reports.  "Jackson's doctor was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and now four years later, Jackson's family is suing the concert promoter - claiming it should have known Jackson was in poor health."
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