Grass Clippings Do's and Don'ts

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Valparaiso’s Department of Public Works reminds residents that grass clippings do not belong in the trash and Public Works employees will not empty trash cans found to contain grass clippings. “Grass would add significantly to the city’s waste stream and add expense for all residents, so we must remind residents of other options for yard waste,” said Matt Evans, Public Works Director. “With a 90% water content, heavy grass clippings are too expensive to landfill—and too valuable to throw away!” he said.
The city offers the following guidelines:
  • Never place grass clippings in your garbage or recycling containers.
  • Use a mulching mower, or spread grass clippings underneath your shrubs. This replaces moisture and nutrients in your soil. 
  • For Valparaiso residents who still wish to bag, grass clippings may be brought to Valparaiso Public Works, 406 Don Hovey Drive, Monday - Friday, 7:00 am - 4:00 pm and Saturday 7:00 am - 3:00 pm.
  • For Porter County residents who do not have city garbage service, grass clippings may be taken to the County's Boone Grove compost site only. For hours and directions, call 465-3694 or visit and click on “Compost” under “Services.”

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8 IL Lottery Checks Bounce

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Eight lottery winners in Illinois were stunned when they went to cash their checks and they bounced. The Illinois Lottery confirms they bounced checks worth nearly ten thousand dollars. The smallest was for 847-dollars won by a Chicago woman -- the largest: more than 25-hundred dollars. That one belonged to Charles Cinquegrani from Norridge. Lotto official Mike Lang says it was human error - an employee forgot to approve the winning funds in time so the Lotto's bank - US Bank - didn't release the money when the checks arrived.  Lang says they're looking to possibly amending their procedures to minimize the likelihood that this could happen again.

Read more: 8 IL Lottery Checks Bounce


Bus Safety Violations Increasing

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An investigation by an Indianapolis TV station into state bus inspection statistics says the number of school buses failing safety inspections went up 35-percent over the last five years, and that buses transporting students in the Gary and Indianapolis areas had some of the highest percentage of out-of-service orders. An executive with a company which serves the Gary schools tells WTHR-TV they are making plans to do better this year. State law requires each school bus be inspected by Indiana State Police at least once a year.

Read more: Bus Safety Violations Increasing


Lt Gov Ellspermann Visits Porter Co

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13 LLT Porter County 440 WinCE
Porter Co Sheriff David Lain, Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, and former Pennsylvania governor and former US Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge
Porter County was the latest Region stop.. and the sixth county... on Indiana Lt. Govenror Sue Ellspermann's “Listen and Learn” tour. On Friday, Ellspermann met with government officials from around the county at Valparaiso City Hall, and then with county business leaders at US Steel in Portage in the afternoon, talking about infrastructure issues, maximizing Porter County’s geographic and community engagement advantages, and improving relationships with the state’s Department of Local Government Finance. Following the listening sessions, Ellspermann went to the Porter County Sheriff Department's annual memorial service, which featured keynote address by former Pennsylvania Governor and former US Homeland Security Chief Tom Ridge, and visited the Hoosier Bat Company in Valparaiso, meeting owners David and Debbie Cook, who’ve been making major and minor league wooden bats for more than 22 years.
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Hoosier Bat Company owner David Cook showing his patented 3-wood bat.
[Photos courtesy Lt. Governor Ellspermann's office]

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Shots Fired in Parking Lot

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Police in Hammond continue to investigate a shooting and crash in the parking lot of the Walmart in the eleven-hundred block of Fifth Avenue on the far north side of the city around 2:30 Sunday afternoon. Authorities say two men were leaving the store when two vehicles approached, and the two men ran to their car, then started shooting at the vehicles before driving off toward Chicago. Police say a parked vehicle was hit by one of the vehicles involved. Police say a store employee was grazed by a bullet, and a second person received minor injuries in the crash.

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Woman Hurt in ATV Accident

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Indiana Conservation Officers are investigating an off-road vehicle accident that occurred near the 400 block of State Road 2. Officials say a 48-year-old Valparaiso woman was operating her neighbors’ ATV when she struck a fence and became airborne. Officers say she was taken to a local hospital and is being treated for severe back pain.

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Man on ATV Hit, Run Over

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Indiana Conservation Officers say a 21-year-old New Buffalo, Michigan, man suffered multiple injuries in a hit-and-run off-road vehicle accident in La Porte County. Authorities say the man was operating his ATV on the roadway around 10:30 Saturday night near 1000 North and 150 East when he was struck by a pickup truck and thrown, then run over by the same vehicle. Officials say he was taken to a South Bend hospital, and anyone with information is asked to contact the Indiana DNR 24-Hour Dispatch Center. Anyone with  regarding this accident is asked to contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources 24-Hour Dispatch Center at 812-837-9536.

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East Chicago Man Fatally Shot

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The Lake County Coroners office says they were called out to the 26-hundred block of Lincoln Street in Gary early Saturday, where a 24-year-old East Chicago man was found with a gunshot wound to the head. . Officials say the Dvae Haynes was pronounced dead at the scene, and his death was ruled a homicide. Gary Police and the Lake County Crime Lab are investigating.

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Employees Choose Pedal Power

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In celebration of May being National Bike Month, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore assembled a team of two-wheeled commuters who volunteered to participate in this year's Federal Bike to Work Challenge. Among them was Nick Simic, a park maintenance crew member, commutes 6 miles a day by bicycle. Last year, 2012, federal employees logged over 5,200 bicycle trips and 65,000 miles in the Challenge, saving the equivalent of over 3,000 gallons of gasoline.
During the first week of the Challenge, the team from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore logged 13 trips, 78 miles, prevented about 76 pounds of carbon from being released into the atmosphere and burned an estimated 4,000 calories. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is accessible via the Calumet, Marquette, Oak Savannah, and Porter Brickyard bicycle trails

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AG: Beware These Calls

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Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has announced the top three telemarketing calls Hoosiers have reported receiving the most. Since January, the Attorney General’s office has received more than 5,100 complaints from consumers who received a telemarketing call from either a live operator or prerecorded message.
“Indiana’s Do Not Call law protects registered numbers from receiving certain telemarketing calls,” Zoeller said. “Unfortunately, illegitimate businesses and scammers skirt the law by trying to deceive consumers with phony sales pitches. That’s why if you are on the Do Not Call list and receive a sales call or text message you can count on it being a scam.”
The next quarterly deadline to block annoying sales calls and text messages is Tuesday, May 21. Consumers can register their residential landline, cell, VOIP or prepaid wireless numbers.
Zoeller said thetelemarketing calls in these categories aim to separate consumers from their money or collect consumers’ personal information.
1. Card Services
More than 920 consumers reported receiving an automated call from a woman, who says her name is Rachel (or Kelly, Courtney, Heather, etc.) from “Cardholder Services,” offering to lower their credit card interest rates. Rachel warns that this “is your final notice,” but Zoeller says Hoosiers should just hang-up on Rachel and her sisters. If you follow through with the prompts, you will be connected with a representative who will collect an upfront payment from you without any intention of providing services or a refund.
2. Home Security
Since January, more than 370 complaints have been filed about an automated call which mentions an FBI report on the number of home break-ins and offers a “free” home security system. These telemarketers have no relationship with federal law enforcement agencies. The caller will take your information and sell it to a home security company that may charge up to $45 per month for monitoring services.
3. Prize/Sweepstakes Scams
So far this year, more than 110 consumers have received calls from a live operator that says “You have won $2 million from Publisher’s Clearinghouse. All you need to do is transfer $250 for fees and taxes via Moneygram, Western Union or GreenDot money card…”  This is a scam designed to separate you from your money. Once you wire money, it’s like using cash and it’s nearly impossible to get back.   
In Indiana, most robocalls are illegal regardless of whether or not a consumer’s number is registered on the Do Not Call list. Exceptions include calls from school districts to students, parents or employees and businesses advising employees of work schedules. It is also legal if a live phone operator first obtains your permission before playing a pre-recorded message.
Zoeller said consumer complaints help the Attorney General’s office bring enforcement actions against violators and stop unwanted calls. Since 2009, the office has obtained 57 settlements or judgments against companies that violated Indiana’s telephone privacy laws. The total awarded to the state has been more than $4.9 million and the total collected is more than $791,800. Zoeller said this money collected is used to defray the cost of enforcing the state’s telephone privacy laws.
Individuals do not need to re-register for the Do Not Call list unless their address has changed. To sign up or to confirm a number is already on the list, visit or call 1.888.834.9969.
Out-of-state area codes can also be added as long as the billing address is located in Indiana. Those consumers who are registered and receive an unwanted call can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office by visiting and clicking on “file a complaint.”

Read more: AG: Beware These Calls


Lice and Scabies Outbreak at Jail

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Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart has ordered isolation with a division of the Cook County Jail and a portion of Cermak Hospital after an outbreak of lice and scabies. Five detainees in a mental health unit of the hospital and ten detainees assigned to a dorm within a division of the jail have been diagnosed. The units are being disinfected, new linens and clothing provided and and preventative treatment is being provided.

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Seat Belt Blitz Begins

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The Valparaiso Police Department is among the numerous police agencies participating in a state wide blitz focusing on motorists and passengers who fail to properly wear a seat belt. This Click It or Ticket blitz began yesterday [Friday May 17] and continues thru June 2nd.. The national mobilization will take place over the Memorial Day holiday period and is supported by thousands of law enforcement agencies and traffic safety advocates across the country. In Indiana, more than 250 law enforcement agencies will conduct special patrols - day and night, to identify and ticket unrestrained motorists.
During Indiana's 2012 Click It or Ticket mobilization, from May 17th thru June 3rd, participating law enforcement agencies issued more than 18-thousand citations to drivers who were not wearing seat belts. During the same time period, there were 170 collisions and 12 fatalities that occurred on Indiana roadways involving unrestrained motorists, with 91 ejections occurring due to not using restraints.

Read more: Seat Belt Blitz Begins


Trek the Township

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Bicyclists will be touring the township today//Saturday for a new event to raise funds for Portage Township Parks... The Friends of Portage Township Foundation is hosting “Trek the Township”, a twenty-mile family bicycling event starting at Haven Hollow Park in South Haven Saturday morning, 8am. Portage Township Trustee Brendan Clancy says the ride features a scenic route on county roads and the Prairie Duneland Trail. For more info, visit .You can hear our Region Newsmakers interview with Portage Township Trustee Brendan Clancy here at our website.

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Commission Opts Not to Buy Former Inn

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It wasn't what the Mayor wanted, but the Portage Redevelopment Commission this week voted against buying the former Travel Inn on US 20, which was closed by the city in January due to multiple fire code violations. At a special meeting Thursday, the Times reports the commission voted against spending up to 725-thousand dollars to acquire it, with members saying it was a lot to spend at this time. The mayor said buying it, to tear it down, was the only way to make sure it didn't turn into a crime-ridden facility, and said the city will have to work with the new owners to make sure it doesn't .

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Jobless Rate Falls in the Region

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The month of April featured the largest single-month decline in Indiana's unemployment rate in over a year... with a big decrease in the Region. The Indiana Department of Workforce Development also says April recorded the biggest drop in the total number of unemployed in over a year. The report issued Friday showed Indiana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate declined by point-two [0.2] percent to eight-and-a-half [8.5] percent in April,a decrease of point-two-percent. Private sector employment in the Hoosier state also increased by 68-hundred [6,800] jobs over the past month and exceeded the national rate of growth. Labor force estimates show the jobless rate in Northwest Indiana dropped from 10-point-three in March to 9.1 percent last month.

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Van Til Charged with Wire Fraud and Obstruction of Justice

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United states Attorney David Capp announced three indictments were returned as a result of investigations by the public corruption task force including charges against Lake County Surveyor George Van Til.   Lake County's current Surveyor is charged with six counts of wire fraud and two counts of obstruction of justice.
Capp says the indictment alleges that Van til, beginning in or about November 2007 and continuing through December 2012, devised a scheme to defraud Lake County of money and property by utilizing county employees to perform personal services and political services so that Van Til would be re-electd as Lake County Surveyor.
The indictment also alleges that Van Til directed an employee to remove a hard drive from a Lake County computer and to replace it with another hard drive, according to attorney Capp.  The indictment further alleges that Van Til told that same employee "And by the way, if by some chance down the line there's ever a conversation, we never had these conversations."  Van Til's alleged conduct with respect to this particular employee forms the basis for the two obstruction of justice counts.
Attorney Capp says the investigation into the allegations came about through a tip from a citizen.
Two other indictments were announced this afternoon in Hammond Federal Court, which Attorney Capp stresses are unrelated except for the fact they all involve some aspect of public corruption or public funds.   One indictment charges a Pennsylvania owner and operator of an armament company located in Philadelphia with nine counts.  Capp says the indictment alleges that the owner conspired with two former Lake County Sheriff deputies to make false statements concerning the acquisition of firearms.  Capp says both former deputies were indicted for this conduct in September 2010 and  both have since plead guilty, are awaiting sentencing and cooperating with the United States Attorney's Office.
The third indictment announced this afternoon charges Roman Perez, 41, of Crown Point, with one count of making false statements under oath on a tax return and one count of making a false statement in a bankruptcy proceeding.  The indictment alleges that Perez understated his total taxable income for 2007 by approximately $110,108.00, of which approximately $80,000 constituted payments from both the Treasurer of Lake County and the Lake County Sheriff's Commissary Fund, to Roman Art Inc., a graphic design business owned and operated by Perez; and that Perez understated his gross income for the year 2009 by an amount in excess of $40,000 in a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case.  The United States Attorney's Office will today file a plea agreement wherein Perez has agreed to plead guilty to these charges and will cooperate with the United States Attorney's Office.
The United States Attorney's Office emphasized that an Indictment is merely an allegation and that all persons charged are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court. 
US Atty David Capp  2
U.S. Attorney David Capp at todays press conference at the federal Courthouse in Hammond. 

Read more: Van Til Charged with Wire Fraud and Obstruction of Justice


One Dead After Car Vs Semi Crash North of Kentland

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Newton County Sheriff Dept
One person was killed after two-vehicle crash in Newton County this morning. The Newton County Sheriff's Office reports officers responded to the scene, at approximately 11am, on U-S 41, near County Road 15-hundred South, located just north of Kentland. The Sheriff's Office says reports indicate the driver was heading north when, for unknown reasons, the vehicle drifted off the roadway and when the driver attempted to return to the roadway, lost control, crossed the median and into the path of a southbound tractor trailer driven by a 36 year old Illinois man. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene, while the truck driver was not injured. At last check, the name of the deceased was being withheld pending notification of next of kin and the crash remains under investigation.
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State Auditors: Gary Schools Treasurer Owes Us Money

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The Indiana State Board of Accounts have forwarded a report to the Lake County Prosecutor and the Attorney General alleging a former extracurricular treasurer for two Gary High Schools owes almost six-thousand dollars for missing fees and ticket sales receipts between 2010 and 2012. The Times reports Darrellyn Wilson is also accused of failing to ensure ticket sales for events, and auditors want an additional 42-hundred dollars to reimburse the state for audit costs. According to the article, Wilson denies taking any money.
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Read more: State Auditors: Gary Schools Treasurer Owes Us Money


IL Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Senate, Heads to Gov

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The Illinois Senate today voted 35 to 21 in favor for allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The proposed legislation, touted as the strictest in the nation among the 18 states and the District of Columbia which allow medical marijuana, creates a four-year pilot program that allows physicians to prescribe the drug to existing patients with at least one of the over 30 medical conditions listed including cancer, HIV, and multiple sclerosis. Patients and caregivers would be required to undergo background checks and sets a two-point-five ounce limit per patient per purchase. The measure heads to the Governor.
A Pew Research Center poll last month reported that 77-percent of Americans believe marijuana has a legitimate medical use.
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Read more: IL Medical Marijuana Bill Passes Senate, Heads to Gov


Tom Ridge Speaks at Porter Co Sheriff's Memorial Service

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Tom RIdge 2
Former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge was the keynote speaker at the Porter County Sheriffs Department's annual Inspection and Memorial Service this morning for National Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Week. Ridge called the four officers being remembered, Edward Blakely, Timothy Hecht (heck), Robert Hardesty, and Phillip Pratt, our rock stars, our celebrities, who relentlessly pursued service, and whose contributions truly mattered.
Ridge, who has since re-entered the private sector, served as the 43rd Governor of Pennsylvania from 1995 through 2001, and was the first Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, serving from 2003-to-2005 .  To hear more from today's memorial service, click News Audio On Demand.
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Read more: Tom Ridge Speaks at Porter Co Sheriff's Memorial Service


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