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Region Events for Coastal Awareness

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LMCoastalAwarenessMonth
June gives Hoosiers and their neighbors the chance to celebrate the Lake Michigan coast and increase awareness of its importance to Indiana.
Coastal Awareness Month will kick off June 1 with events in Michigan City and end June 29 with a Clean Water Celebration in Gary. The full lineup of Coastal Awareness Month activities is at cam.dnr.IN.gov  
Lake Michigan is a source of recreation, drinking water, industrial resources and many other uses. The 45 miles of shoreline in Indiana is the most diverse in the Great Lakes Region. This month provides a chance to learn and appreciate it more. The Lake Michigan Coastal Program and its partners orchestrate Coastal Awareness Month each year.
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Chamber Seeks Nominations

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The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is taking nominations for the 2013 Community of the Year Award. The winning community will be announced in August or September. Valparaiso won in 2009, La Porte in 2005. Indianapolis was named Community of the Year last year. The Chamber says the purpose is to give special recognition for significant contributions to local business climate and overall image during the past year. Entries must be received no later than June 17 to be eligible for consideration.  The last five Community of the Year recipients were Indianapolis, Kokomo, Terre Haute, Valparaiso and Noblesville.
The criteria and application form are available online. Submit entries to: Nick Ostergaard, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, 115 W. Washington St., Suite 850 South, Indianapolis, IN 46204 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The honor will be presented at the Indiana Chamber's 24th Annual Awards Dinner on November 12 in downtown Indianapolis.
Link:  http://www.indianachamber.com/index.php/chamber-seeking-2013-community-of-the-year-nominations 
Past Community of the Year recipients:
2012: Indianapolis
2011: Kokomo
2010: Terre Haute
2009: Valparaiso
2008: Noblesville
2007: Anderson
2006: Evansville
2005: LaPorte
2004: Muncie
2003: Warsaw
2002: Marion
2001: Greater Lafayette
2000: Jeffersonville
1999: Fort Wayne
1998: Rochester
1997: Batesville
1996: Elkhart
1995: Indianapolis
1994: Kendallville
1993: St. Joseph County
1992: Columbus
1991: Muncie
1990: Bluffton
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Ribbon Cutting Today for Truck Stop in Gary Off I-80/94

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A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Tuesday to unveil a state-of-the-art TravelCenters of America Ptero Stopping Center in Gary. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson was joined by TravelCenters senior management, State Representative Vernon Smith and a host of others at the site, located at I-80/94, exit 9. Gary Economic Development Director J. Forest Hayes says the facility hired 164 Gary residents, through a series of job fairs held back in April. TravelCenters Preseident and C-E-O Tom O'Brien says groundbreaking for the facility began in November, and although the weather this winter and spring set construction back about two to three weeks, 23 acres of the 28-point-six acre site have been developed, including more than 46-thousand square-feet of building space, and it was still able to open on time.
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Michigan St Closed Tomorrow in Valpo to Remove Fire Debris

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Motorists in Valparaiso using Michigan Street could run into some issues starting tomorrow morning. The City reports Michigan Street, from Lincolnway south to the alley, will be closed starting at 7am through 5pm, for the removal of fire debris leftover from the two-story brick building fire in the downtown, at Lincolnway and Michigan,in early March.
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Volunteers Needed for Portage Twp Summerfest in June

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The Portage Township Parks and Recreation Department and the Portage Township Summerfest Committee are looking for volunteers to help at this year’s 2nd Annual Portage Township Summerfest. Portage Township Trustee Brendan Clancy says the event in June at Haven Hollow Park will be even bigger this year, running four days instead of two this Father's Day weekend.
The event started last year as a way to generate funds for the township parks. You can hear more of our Region Newsmakers interview with Portage Township Trustee Brendan Clancy online at regionnewsteam.com.
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Home Invasion in Merrillville Sunday Under Investigation

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Merrillville Police are asking for the public's help regarding a home invasion Sunday night. The Times reports five masked men entered the home in the 74-hundred block of Bigger Street about 9pm, entering through a locked screen door. According to the article, two suspects held three individuals in a bathroom while three of the suspects left and used the victim's credit and debt cards to withdraw 200 dollars. The suspects then returned, and reportedly took jewelry, and other personal items, including the victims phones, which required them to drive to the police station to file a report.
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61 Weapons Turned in Saturday at Gary's Gun Buyback

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(Photo Courtesy of the City of Gary)
A total of 61 weapons, 42 handguns and 19 rifles, were turned in on Saturday in Gary, at their second gun buyback event this year. Chelsea Whittington, Director of Communications for the City of Gary, says this was the fourth such gun buyback since Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's administration started in 2012, and the hope is to have one or two more by the end of this year. Whittington called the event a success, not only because guns were taken off the streets, but also because it gave the city an opportunity to partner with local churches to raise awareness about the efforts of the Gary Police Department. She says the event also lets potential criminals know the City of Gary is partnering with the eyes and ears of the community, to work together, to make the city safer.
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Allegiant to End Service at Gary/Chicago Airport on 8/10

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Allegiant airline say it will end service at the Gary/Chicago International Airport on August 10th. The Times reports Allegiant is severing their ties because they were not seeing a strong demand in the market and they have a responsibility to use their resources where they'll be most successful. According to the article, airport officials say the number of passengers on flights consistently exceeded the airline's minimum requirements.
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Lake Co Coroner's Office Investigating Death of Gary Man

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The Lake County Coroner's Office reports the manner of death is pending for a 54 year old Gary man. The Coroner's Office says just before 12:30am Sunday they were dispatched to Methodist Lake Hospital where the deceased, whose name has not yet been released, was identified. Authorities report no visible trauma on the man, but stated the death did occur at the deceased man's residence, in the 62-hundred block of Hemlock Street, in Gary. No further information is available at this time.
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US Marshals Fugitive of the Week: Eric Martel Johnson

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Johnson Eric
(Photo Courtesy of the US Marshals Service)
A 19 year old man wanted for felony attempted murder with a deadly weapon by the Lake County Sheriff's Department is this week's “Fugitive of the Week” by the U-S Marshals Service, Great Lakes Task Force. Eric Martel Johnson was last known to reside in the 21-hundred block of Delaware Street in Gary, and is also wanted by authorities for battery, aggravated battery, and battery causing serious bodily injury, all of which are felony charges. Eric Johnson is described as a black male, 5'6'', weighing 145 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information on Eric Johnson's 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.
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Supreme Court Stays Out of IN Planned Parenthood Funding

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Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says his office in considering what “remaining legal avenues” are available after the US Supreme Court today announced it would not hear Indiana's appeal in a legal challenge to a state law that disqualifies abortion providers from being Medicaid providers. The Supreme Court let stand lower court rulings blocking enforcement of the law since shortly after its passage by the 2011 Legislature. The nation’s highest court announced today it declined to accept the case, so Zoeller says Planned Parenthood of Indiana can continue to collect Medicaid funding as it continues to offer abortion services.
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Indiana State Trooper Saves Two-Year-Old

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In Lake Station, Indiana State Police Senior Trooper Dan Avitia helped save a two-year old Valparaiso girl Memorial Day afternoon. Around 3:30 pm, Avitia, a fourteen-year veteran,was in the area of I-80 west bound just west of Central Avenue, when a dispatch came out about a child having a medical emergency. Avitia located the SUV parked on the inner shoulder. Police say the child had bluish tinged lips, and not breathing; Avitia revived the child who was taken to a local hospital for observation. The mother said her daughter had been on medication for an illness. The girl was given two teddy bears by the Indiana State Police. These bears are given to children to comfort them if they become involved in a stressful situation.
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Region Population Changes

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US citiies with largest numeric population increase [courtesy US Census Bureau]
New data from the US Census Bureau show cities and towns across the Region losing population over the past two years, with some exceptions, including Crown Point and St. John in Lake County … Valparaiso, Chesterton and Kouts in Porter County, and Westville in La Porte County. Eight of the 15 fastest-growing large U.S. cities and towns for the year ending July 1, 2012 were in Texas, according to new population estimates, and the Lone Star State also stood out in terms of the size of population growth, with five of the 10 cities and towns that added the most people over the year.

New York continued to be the nation's most populous city by a wide margin, with 8.3 million residents in 2012, followed by Los Angeles and Chicago, and the list of 15 most populous cities has remained unchanged since last year; however, the list's order has changed slightly, including Indianapolis shifting downward a spot from twelfvth to thirteenth, as Austin Texas moved up, also pushing Jacksonville, Florida, down on the list along with Indy. Indianapolis with about 835-thousand people.
State city/town lists:   http://www.census.gov/popest/data/cities/totals/2012/SUB-EST2012-3.html 
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Teaching Garden to Valpo

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The American Heart Association’s Teaching Garden will come to Parkview Elementary School in Valparaiso thanks to support from Methodist Hospitals. The garden is meant to help students understand the importance of healthy eating habits, is being unveiled today [Tuesday]. Teaching Gardens are real-life laboratories where students learn how to plant seeds, nurture growing plants and harvest food.
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Local Discussion on Prayers at Govt Mtgs

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The US Supreme Court is taking up the issue of prayer at government meetings, and the topic is being discussed here in the Region. In Hammond, where city council meetings generally start with a prayer, Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. says he has brought the matter to the attention of council members, quoted in the Times recently as saying he's concerned about the city possibly facing a lawsuit. Other communities including Merrillville and Portage have also opened meetings with prayers.
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/hammond/views-on-prayers-at-local-government-meetings-varied-across-region/article_90cf7809-19cb-54ff-a3ae-e19a9e77f01f.html
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Limited Tickets for New Game

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The Hoosier Lottery is kicking off the summer season with a new game. Sales begin today (Tues May 28 ) for the Inependence Day Millionaire Raffle and are open to the first 300,000 players, 18 or older, to purchase a ticket. Tickets will remain on sale until all tickets are sold - or until July 4, whichever comes first. Winning numbers for the $1 million grand prize, 10 $10,000 prizes and 2,000 $100 prizes will be announced July 5.
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Purdue Approves WL Tuition Freeze

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The summer season just started, but when college starts up again this fall, Purdue President Mitch Daniels says "Thousands of West Lafayette students will pay less for their Purdue education next year than they did last year.” Purdue University trustees recently approved frozen tuition and cut costs for West Lafayette students for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 academic years. Board members also approved a 2 percent tuition and fee increase at Purdue's three regional campuses, which include campuses in Hammond and Westville, for each of the next two years.
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Hobart ZIP Code Issue Ongoing

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Hobart continues to try and resolve a ZIP code issue. About twenty years ago, the city annexed part of Ross Township that includes Westfield Southlake mall, but that area still has a Merrillville ZIP code. A letter was recently sent to the US Postal Service in Washington. Similar requests have been made in the past, by previous city officials. The mayor's assistant tells the Times the ZIP code issue has caused problems in the past, including a new gas station on U.S. 30 that ended up having a permit issued by Merrillville instead of Hobart.
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Gov Pence to Speak at Dedication

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Indiana Governor Mike Pence joined hundreds of people at the 145th Annual Memorial Day ceremony at Crown Hill National Cemetery in Indianapolis.   Today the Governor Mike Pence will offer remarks at the dedication of the Sammy Davis Exhibit at the Indiana War Memorial Museum today (Tue May 28). Indiana's only living Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Davis will be in attendance, as well as former Indiana Governors Joe Kernan and Edgar Whitcomb. [3 pm EDT]
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Region Soldier Honored

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Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly today released the following statement to honor the Hoosier soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice to their country while protecting the freedoms of our nation.
“This Memorial Day, I join all Americans as we celebrate the lives of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for the many freedoms we enjoy in our great nation. Our Armed Forces are filled with brave men and women from across the country, but today I especially honor those from our great state of Indiana.
"They are our family, friends, and neighbors who have chosen to serve at any time, at any place. It’s a sacrifice beyond imagination, but they serve because of their belief in American values and freedoms.  We honor the Hoosiers who we have lost in the past year while serving in Afghanistan.
·         Marine Sgt. Bradley W. Atwell from Kokomo, who died after defending a breach at Camp Bastion.
·         Army Sgt. Kyle B. Osborn of Lafayette, who succumbed to wounds caused by small-arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire.
·         Marine Lance Cpl. Alec R. Terwiske of Dubois, who lost his life following combat operations in Helmand.
·         Army Spc. Sergio E. Perez, Jr. from Crown Point, who died from injuries following a rocket-propelled grenade explosion to his vehicle.
·         Army Spc. Nicholas A. Taylor of Berne, who lost his life when the armored vehicle he was driving was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade.
·         Marine Lance Cpl. Hunter D. Hogan from Norman, who died while conducting combat operations in the Helmand province.
·         Marine Lance Cpl Joshua E. Witsman of Covington, who died while supporting combat operations in Helmand.
 
"We also acknowledge those servicemembers who we have lost to suicide. Suicide is a shadow killer, but the service of these soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines is still honorable, and should be honored.
"Forever, we are in debt to all the men and women from our state who lost their lives in combat and in all other conflicts. We will always owe our gratitude to our fallen heroes whose sacrifices grant us our freedoms and remind us every day that as Americans, we will always fight for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
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