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NIRPC begins 30-day comment period Wed. in Gary

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The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) has begun a 30-day comment period for Amendment #1 to the 2014-2017 Transportation Improvement Program. This amendment adds regional transit projects in Lake, Porter, and LaPorte County. Amendment #1 is available on NIRPC’s website at www.nirpc.org.
Comments should be submitted to NIRPC Transportation Projects Monitor, Gary Evers in written form or electronic media at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or by mail to: 6100 Southport Rd., Portage, IN 46368. Comments may also be submitted on the NIRPC Public Comment Line at (219)763-6060 ext. 160.
The public will also have the opportunity to provide comment on Amendment #1 at the following three public open houses:
·        Wednesday, August 21, 2013 1:00-4:00 pm, Gary Public Library, Kennedy Branch, 3953 Broadway, Gary
·        Tuesday, August 27, 2013 1:00pm-4:00pm, East Chicago Public Library, Pastrick Branch, 1008 W. Chicago Avenue
·        September 11, 2013 2:00 pm-4:00 pm, Valparaiso City Hall, 166 Lincolnway, Valparaiso
NIRPC is the Metropolitan Planning Organization and regional council of local governments for the three counties of  Northwest Indiana.  NIRPC provides the forum for local elected officials, regional, leadership, and citizens to address regional issues relating to transportation, the environment and community and economic development.  NIRPC
seeks to develop consensus solutions with the broadest participation.
For more information, please contact NIRPC at 219-763-6060. TTY users may call 711.
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State Grant funding to enhance School Safety

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Indiana OAG Official Seal
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller encourages school administrators to apply for new state grant funding that will help fund School Resource Officer positions to enhance school safety.
Earlier this year the Legislature passed a new state law Zoeller had proposed and recommended, Senate Enrolled Act 1, which makes available $20 million over two years in matching grant funding to schools to fund a variety of safety efforts.  With the grant application process now open, Zoeller specifically recommends school leaders apply for matching funds to expand existing School Resource Officer positions or create new ones.  He noted that School Resource Officers are trained law enforcement officers who receive an additional 40 hours of certification in working with students in schools.
“Public safety is the number one duty of government and we must attend to public safety first.  I feel strongly that School Resource Officers are the most effective means of making the most schools safe for the most students given the funding available,” Zoeller said.  The Attorney General spoke this morning at a seminar in Wheatfield, Ind., on the Secured School Safety Grant Program where school officials learned about the grant application process.
Last year, before the Newtown tragedy, Zoeller’s office conducted a needs assessment study which found that school administrators and law enforcement officers around the state would be interested in expanding School Resource Officer programs if additional funding were available. Senate Enrolled Act 1 as passed and signed into law provides a total $20 million in matching grant funds over two fiscal years.
The grant program is administered through the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and application materials are found at http://www.in.gov/dhs/securedschoolsafety.htm .  The deadline for schools to submit proposals to DHS for the first round of grants is September 30, and Zoeller encourages school officials to coordinate with their local law enforcement agencies and apply. The first round of matching grants of up to $50,000 each is scheduled to be awarded in early November. 
“Schools that already have good working relationships with their local law enforcement agencies have expressed interest in implementing School Resource Officers to facilitate a safe environment for student learning, so I urge them to pursue this grant opportunity and apply soon,” Zoeller said.
NOTE: The executive summary of the needs assessment study the Attorney General’s Office conducted last fall is attached. A schedule of upcoming DHS seminars for school officials considering applying for grants is at this link: http://www.in.gov/dhs/files/2013_Secured_School_Safety_Seminar_Flyer.pdf
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WGU Indiana: 4th year of No Tuition Increase

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As the cost of higher education continues to increase nationwide, WGU Indiana announces it will not raise tuition for a fourth straight year. The online university has kept its tuition at $6,000 per year since its inception in 2010, making it an affordable option for those looking to go further in their education.
WGU Indiana offers more than 50 accredited bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions including nursing.
“Degree attainment is extremely important in today’s economy as college degrees play an instrumental role in helping working adults move forward in their careers,” WGU Indiana Chancellor Allison Barber said. “We are committed to providing an affordable, flexible education option designed to meet the needs of Indiana’s adult learners—another year of steady tuition rates will help us achieve this mission.”
WGU’s innovative, competency-based education model, which earned the university a spot in Fast Company’s 50 Most Innovative Companies of 2013, measures learning rather than the time a student spends in a classroom seat. Students earn their degrees by demonstrating mastery of subject matter, completing coursework online at any time convenient to their lives. Designed to meet the needs of adult learners, competency-based education allows students to take advantage of prior learning and experience to move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn.
  To learn more about WGU Indiana, call 877-214-7014 or visit:  http://www.indiana.wgu.edu
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“Pack-a-Palooza” will kick-off United Way Event

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United Way’s Day of Caring is an annual event that celebrates volunteerism throughout the communities it serves.  This year, it will be held on Friday, August 23rd.  Lake Area United Way will be hosting a special volunteer activity during the Day of Caring.  This event, known as “Pack-a-Palooza”, will focus on providing food for residents who are experiencing hunger locally.  “Thanks to the generous support and partnership with Strack & Van Til, BP and Kids Against Hunger, we will be able to bring over 180 volunteers together to pack 50,000 meals in 3 hours to give to the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana for distribution, ” said Lou Martinez, President/CPO of Lake Area United Way.  “It’s a rewarding and effective way for the community to join the fight against hunger.” 
Pack-a-Palooza will begin at 9:30 at the Radisson Ballroom in Merrillville, and will anchor the kick off of the 2013-2014 Community Campaign.   “The Campaign allows for so much to be accomplished, right here in our communities.  Last year alone, over 170,000 lives were positively and directly affected as a result of the generosity of region residents and the success of workplace campaigns,” said John Kennedy, Chairman of the 2013-2014 LAUW Community Campaign and Director of Business Development for American Structurepoint Inc.  “Our goal for the Campaign this year is to engage 1,000 new donors and volunteers to join United Way’s efforts to advance the common good in our communities,” said Kennedy.  “Kicking-off the Campaign at Pack-a-Palooza highlights our emphasis on increased volunteerism.  It’s a reminder that everyone can play a part, and be part of the change.”   For more information on United Way’s Day of Caring and to find information on many other volunteer opportunities throughout Northwest Indiana, please visit: www.nwivolunteer.org.

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DNR campgrounds almost full for Holiday weekend

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Indiana DNR
A limited amount of campsites at Indiana state parks and reservoirs remain available for Labor Day weekend, Aug. 30 through Sept. 2. 
Last-minute planners should make reservations soon before the campgrounds are booked to capacity.
Properties with sites left are: Charlestown, Clifty Falls (non-electric only), Lincoln (non-electric and primitive only), McCormick’s Creek, O’Bannon Woods and Versailles state parks; Lieber State Recreation Area, and Salamonie (primitive only) and Deam lakes.
A three-night minimum stay is required.
Reservations can be made at camp.IN.gov or 1-866-6CAMPIN (1-866-622-6746).
Not a camper? Consider a day trip for hiking, a family gathering or a swim. Check ahead with your destination for availability of swimming and hours of operation.
Remember to make reservations for fall camping. It’s one of the most popular times of year to camp.
“October has become like the busy month of July for our parks and reservoirs,” said Christie Wilmoth of the DNR Division of State Parks & Reservoirs. “With so much to see and do at our Halloween and fall festival weekends, you won’t want to miss out on all of the activities we have planned.”
Information on state parks and reservoirs is at stateparks.IN.gov. Information on programs and special events is at InterpretiveServices.IN.gov.

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Region Homes Sales Continue to Grow

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Homes in the region in July marked the 25th month of consecutive growth in year-over-year comparisons.  The Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors reports homes sales for Lake, Porter, Jasper, Newton and Starke counties combined increased by 23-point-two percent from a year ago.  To hear more of regarding July home sales, click News Audio On Demand at http://www.regionnewsteam.com/

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Pence Travels to NYC to Meet with Bond Ratings Agencies

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Gov Mike Pence
Indiana Governor Mike Pence is in the Big Apple today to showcase the Hoosier state's continued fiscal strength.  Governor Pence will be meeting with Standard and Poor's, Moody's and Fitch, in New York City, to share Indiana's plans for continued fiscal leadership and economic development.  The Governor says the state's credit rating is an important part of the fiscal foundation and the strategy to attract more jobs.

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LaPorte PD Wanted Person of the Week: Jamie Hough

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jamie hough
(Photo Courtesy of the LaPorte Police Department)

A 33 year old man wanted through LaPorte Circuit Court for felony battery is the LaPorte Police Department's Wanted Person of the Week. Jamie Hough is described as  white male, 6'01”, weighing 170 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes.  Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Jamie Hough is asked to contact 911. 
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70mph Speed Limit in IL for Rural Interstates

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Illinois Governor Pat Quinn approved legislation on Monday to raise the speed limit on rural interstates to 70 miles per hour. According to the Governor's Office, the six-county Chicago-region and two counties near St. Louis, would be allowed to set lower limits under the law, which starts on January 1st. The Illinois Department of Transportation, state police, and roadway safety organizations opposed the measure, arguing the increase in the speed limit will lead to more fatalities on Illinois roadways, while Governor Quinn says the measure keeps the state from falling behind other states with faster speed limits and prevents an increase in excessive speeding. Illinois transportation officials report it could cost anywhere from 150 to 200-thousand dollars to update around 900 speed limit signs.

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Martin's Attorney Files Insanity Defense

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(Photo Courtesy of the Times)

A 45 year old man who shot at officers and barricaded himself inside his home for nine-hours Wednesday is claiming insanity, according to a motion filed by his attorney Monday.  Eric Martin, of Porter County's Jackson Township, was charged Friday with six counts of felony attempted murder, seven counts of felony criminal recklessness and one felony count of aggravated battery. The incident began after officers went to the residence to question Martin about a complaint of battery by Martin against his 78 year old father.  According to the defense, Martin suffered an incident at work or illness that reportedly caused him to lose touch with reality.  The Times reports Martin was a supervisor at Bethlehem Steel, who was living with his parents on Social Security disability. The motion filed asks that Martin be transferred to the state mental hospital in Logansport or that Porter-Starke Services of Valparaiso be brought in to help him while he is being held in a padded cell at the Porter County Jail.
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Man Exposes Himself at Soldier's Memorial Park

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LaPorte PD
A 58 year old New Carlisle, Indiana man could be charged with public indecency after an incident Friday at Soldier's Memorial Park in LaPorte.  Police says the adult male victim told them he was approached by the suspect in the park and after speaking, they parted ways until the victim heard someone yell and when he turned to look, saw the suspect standing across the channel completely nude.  The victim called police and left the park, only to be followed by the suspect in his vehicle.  The victim then went back to the park to wait for police, and after they arrived, the suspect drove by and was stopped by officers.  At last check, charges were being reviewed by the prosecutor's office.

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Public Service for I-65 Crash Victims this Thursday

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A candle light vigil was held Monday night for 27 year old Lindsey Williams and her two daughters who were killed along with her sister and three others last week in a fiery three-vehicle crash on I-65 in Jasper County.  The vigil was held at Villa del Sol in Merrillville, where Williams had worked, and all proceeds were reportedly donated to help with the family's funeral expenses.  The family's Jeep was struck from behind by a semi while they were stopped in traffic for an approaching work zone behind another semi.  The crash remains under investigation and once completed will be forwarded to the Jasper County Prosecutor's Office for review.  A public memorial service has been scheduled for 12pm Thursday, in Munster, at the Family Christian Center.
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Donation Drive for Calumet Area Humane Society

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jaks warehouse
Public demand has led to the addition of gluten-free menu items at a popular Region eatery.  A press release announces that Jak's Warehouse in Schererville is helping Northwest Indiana pave the way with  a gluten-free pizza as well as gluten-free birthday cupcake cake.   The indoor family fun center also leads the way in charitable causes. Jak's is currently holding a donation drive for the Calumet area Humane Society to help recover after a recent fire.  According the business, a free 5-dollar game card will be given for blankets, cleaning supplies, dog or cat food donated.  The drive continues through this Friday.

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Back to School Safety Advisory

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The 2013-2014 school year will begin today for Lake Station and La Porte Community school children.
Motorists are encouraged to be alert when approaching school zones, and to obey the posted school zone speed limit when children are present.
Please observe for children crossing the street , waiting near bus stops and for those getting on and off school buses. Remember, Indiana law requires that drivers stop for a bus when its “Stop” arm is extended. 
Officers will be exercising zero tolerance for school speed zone violations and stopped school bus violations.
Parents can help their children by reviewing a few safety tips:
- Cross the street only at intersections and designated cross-walks.
- Do not walk in between parked vehicles.
- Obey instructions from the school crossing guard, if one is present.
- Walk to and from school in groups, if possible.
- Wait until the bus comes to a complete stop before approaching or getting out of your seat.
- The bus driver has limited visibility around the bus. Teach your child to always cross in front of the bus.
With everyone’s commitment, we can help keep our children safe this school year. Citizens who observe dangerous or suspicious behavior near schools are encouraged to report same by calling police.
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EC Teen Could Face Felony Charges for Killing Kittens

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A 17 year old East Chicago teen is accused of hunting and killing three kittens with a bow and arrow and the prosecutor's office is considering felony charges.  Police report Lake County Animal Control received a call about a photo the teen posted on Facebook showing him with the dead kittens.  Authorities say the teen confessed to killing the kittens, saying he was bored the week before school started.  The photos have been removed.
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Man Recovering From Being Struck by Amtrak Train

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A 22 year old northwest Indiana man under went surgery Monday to repair a cracked vertebae, the result of being struck head-on by an Amtrak train Friday.  Authorities report Darryle Jacob See was reportedly wearing headphones while walking along U-S 12, east of Michigan City, when he walked into the middle of the tracks and into the path of a Chicago-bound Amtrak train traveling 110 miles per hour.  The impact reportedly sent him flying 20 feet.  See also reportedly has one or two fractures to his pelvis as well.
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Attempted Vehicle Break-in at Buffalo Wild Wings

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Dominique Wilson

Attempted vehicle break-in at Buffalo Wild Wings According to the report, on Saturday, August 17th, at approximately 12:21 a.m., police observed a teen male, wearing a backpack, walking from the area underneath the Pine Lake Av. overpass towards the parking lot of Buffalo Wild Wings. As police continued to watch the suspect, they observed him walk to the passenger-side of a blue Honda sedan. The teen was observed doing something with the door window of the vehicle, while periodically stopping to look around. A few minutes later, police saw the interior dome light come on inside the car as the suspect leaned inside. At this time the vehicle's car alarm went off and the headlights began flashing. The suspect ran north from the vehicle and after a short foot pursuit, was apprehended by police. While being placed into custody, the suspect, Dominique Wilson, 19, of Michigan City (IN), allegedly told police he was breaking into the vehicle because he was hungry and only wanted some change so he could buy a bag of chips. During a search of Wilson's person, loose change was found inside his pants pocket that he denied knowledge of. The owner of the Honda was located and confirmed the vehicle had been entered, but that nothing appeared missing at the time. He advised the windows were left down slightly, but the doors were locked. Wilson is charged with Attempted Theft, D felony.
*All defendants are presumed innocent until/ unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and are entitled to have a trial before a judge or a jury.

(photo provided by La Porte Police Department)

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Track at (Old) Fairgrounds Park Closed for Repaving

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Walking/Jogging track at Old Fairgrounds Park in Valparaiso

Beginning Tuesday, August 20, the track at Fairgrounds Park will be temporarily closed for repaving.  The track will be closed to the public during construction, which is estimated to take up to 10 days depending on weather.
The ¾ mile track, which is more than 20 years old, is in need of repair and repaving and is used by hundreds of walkers and joggers every day.  Not only is the track being repaved, it is being widened to 8’ wide, making it better for users to walk, run and exercise together.
(photo courtesy Valparaiso Parks and Recreation)
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“Miracle at Mt. Baldy Recognition Programs

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Mayor Ron Meer and the City of Michigan City, Indiana announce a dual recognition program honoring all of the agencies and individuals involved in the rescue of Nathan Woessner on Wednesday, August 28, 2013.
The first recognition program will be conducted by Indiana Governor Mike Pence at Michigan City City Hall (100 E. Michigan Boulevard) at 11:00 a.m. and will run approximately one hour.
At approximately 1:00 p.m., Mayor Meer and the City of Michigan City will present a recognition program in the Stardust Events Center at the Blue Chip Casino (777 Blue Chip Drive) in Michigan City.
Nathan Woessner and Family plan on being in attendance at both programs.
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Crown Point to Honor Cal Ripken Champs Tuesday

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Mayor David Uran, Mayor’s Office of Special Events and the Crown Point Parks and Recreation Department are proud to announce parade plans for the U12 Cal Ripken World Series Champions.
The parade for the team will be Tuesday, August 2th at 8pm. Players will be escorted by the police and fire departments around the square and led to the Cal Ripken fields on North Street for a brief ceremony.
“What an amazing accomplishment. We are so proud of these boys. They played hard and represented Crown Point at the World Series” said Mayor David Uran.  “I would like to invite everyone to come out and join us to celebrate their success.”  Residents are invited to watch the parade downtown on the square or at the Cal Ripken fields located off North Street.
The Bulldogs played teams from New York, Kentucky, North Dakota, North Dakota, Hawaii, and Hammond, Indiana.
For more information please contact Jennie Burgess at 661-2271 or at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
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