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Hearing for Murder Suspect

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Another hearing is this Friday in Lake County court for an Alsip, Illinois, man accused of killing Griffith businesswoman Mary Austgen. Police have charged 57-year-old Ralph Martinez with murder, robbery and criminal confinement in the kidnapping and shooting death of the 76-year-old St. John resident, who was found in a Gary casino parking garage in March. A preliminary not guilty plea was entered last Friday. Police have said a motive has not yet been determined, and they continue to investigate.
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Mushroom Hunters Lost Then Found

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Indiana Conservation Officers remind anyone who enters a wooded area to let someone know where you're going and when you'll be returning after getting a call of two lost mushroom hunters at Pedestal Rock Nature Preserve in Waveland Sunday. The two, from Illinois, were in a remote area near Shades State Park and couldn't find their way back to their vehicle. Conservation officers were able to use their in-car computer to plot their GPS coordinates on a map from the 911 call from their cell phone, and the two were located, safe, within about a half-hour.
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Illinois May Raise Speed Limit

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In Illinois, Governor Pat Quinn says he’ll have to take a close look at legislation raising the speed limit on Illinois highways. The Illinois Senate voted last week to increase the speed limit on interstate highways and tollways from 65 miles per hout to 70. Illiinois Governor Quinn won’t say whether he supports the idea, adding it will need careful review. Opponents say motorists already drive too far over the speed limit, and that measure would result in people driving even faster. The bill still faces a vote in the Illinois House.
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Jackpot Hit in Cayuga

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A ten-million dollar Hoosier Lotto ticket purchased about an hour southwest of Lafayette matched all six numbers in Saturday night's drawing. The ticket was sold at The Falcon Mart on State Road 234 in Cayuga, which is in Vermillion County, on the Indiana Illinois border. Wednesday's jackpot is $1 million. No player nationwide matched all six numbers in Powerball or Mega Millions this weekend. Tuesday's estimated Mega Millions jackpot is $114 million. Wednesday's estimated Powerball jackpot is $165 million.
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2013 Legislative Session Ends

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Well depending on which side of the aisle your on, the end of the 2013 legislative session was either a success or utter failure. House Bill 10-01 passed the Senate early this morning, and according to Senate President Pro-Tem, Republican David Long, the budget is “homerun” for Hoosiers, saying it is an honest balanced budget for two years that provides the most K through 12 funding ever, pays down the debt, provides the biggest tax cut in state history, and funds roads and infrastructure. Meanwhile Democrats like Scott Pelath of Michigan City says opportunities to help the middle class were squandered, as issues like the 8.7 percent unemployment rate and a median household income which is four-thousand dollars behind the rest of the nation does nothing to benefit middle class Hoosiers. As for the five-percent tax cut, Pelath says giving the middle class a dollar back a week two years down the road won't do much to help Hoosier families. He also blasted the Republican supermajorities in the House and Senate for not restoring hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to public schools, but instead, are giving considerable more money to schools in wealthy communities, shortchanging those in less affluent communities.
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8 years in Prison for Merrillville Man in Fatal Shooting

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Angel garcia
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A 19 year old Merrillville man was sentenced to eight-years in prison for killing a 39 year old Gary man. The Times reports Angel Garcia was 17 when he shot Bryan McCoy multiple times inside of McCoy's home, in the 600 block of East 48th Avenue after a verbal dispute turned physical. According to the article, a plea agreement reduced the charges, which included murder, to reckless homicide.
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Lansing Shooting Suspects Arrested in Hobart After Chase

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Three suspects in a Lansing, Illinois, shooting incident on Friday are in custody after a pursuit led them into Hobart. The Times reports Lansing Police responded to a report of gunshots, about 2:15am, in the 25-hundred block of Ridge Road. The suspected vehicle fled the scene into Indiana, where their vehicle ran over stop sticks at 37th Avenue in Hobart, and eventually stopped at 39th Avenue, where the suspects fled, but were later captured. No injuries were reported, and at last check the names of the three suspects had yet to be released.
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New Law to Improve Ethics in Vehicle Dealer Services Signed

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Wyss SEA 537
A bill sponsored in the state House by Valparaiso State Representative Ed Soliday to improve ethics in vehicle dealer services was signed into law on Friday. Senate Enrolled Act 537 is authored by State Senator Tom Wyss, of Fort Wayne, and creates a Dealer Services Division within the Secretary of State's Office to enforce regulations regarding licensed vehicle dealers, while also providing guidelines on criminal penalties for unfair practices and violations against vehicle dealing rules.
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Bill to Protect Hoosier Homeowners Heads to Governor

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SEnator Doug Eckerty
Legislation to protect Hoosier homeowners now moves to the Governor's desk for final consideration. Senate Bill 152 essentially shifts the burden of proof from the homeowner to the county or township assessor that makes the initial assessment, according it author, State Senator Doug Eckerty, of Yorktown. Senator Eckerty says from there that assessor must substantiate his proof with the Property tax Assessment Board of Appeals to verify that the values of homes and properties are not overestimated, meaning fewer homeowners will have to appeal their assessment year after year.
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Give Back Night Monday to Help Fuel the Kids Summer Project

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The Portage Township Trustee's Office is the proud recipient of of a number of grants to help those in need in the community. Township Trustee, Brendan Clancy is proud of one in particular, a matching fund type called the "Fuel the Kids Summer Project”, to raise money for 300 food baskets in the area.  Clancy says Portage Township will be having a "Give Back Night" (April 29th) Monday, from 5pm to 8pm, at Buffalo Wild Wings in Portage. A percentage of food sales will be donated back to the "Fuel the Kids Summer Project."
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80 Years in Prison for Cedar Lake Man for Murder and Arson

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Anthony LaPorta
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A Cedar Lake man was sentenced to 80 years in prison Friday for killing his neighbor and burning down the victim's home. Published reports say 24 year old Anthony LaPorta agreed to a plea bargain for 62 years in the death of 32 year old Anthony Giordano, and 18 years for arson. The incident occurred during a burglary on July 11th 2012, in the 14700 block of Cline Avenue. The Times reports LaPorta had previously received a two sexual battery sentence which will be served concurrently with the 80 year sentence.
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Rolled Over Semi on I-65 at I-80/94

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Traffic-Alert
A rolled over semi is blocking the right lane and reportedly spilling fuel, which has slowed traffic this morning on the I-65 ramp northbound ramp to I-80/94. Traffic is being being able to get by in the left lane. No further information available at this time.
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Vote Postponed on Lake County Income Tax Proposal

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A vote on a one-and-a-half percent local tax increase for Lake County has been pushed back to May 14th, after this afternoon's vote had to be postponed due to a legal publishing notice issue. Meanwhile, a bill now heads to the Governor's desk to lift the Lake County property tax levy freeze. The House version of the bill was approved by the Senate, which doesn't tell Lake County how to spend potential income tax funds if it passes.
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Worker's Memorial Day Ceremony at US Steel in Gary

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workers memorial day
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A Worker's Memorial Day ceremony was held today in Gary to honor those who have lost their life in the past 105 years of the U-S Steel Mill. The Times reports the ceremony focused on safety and efforts made to keep more names from being added to the waist-high, three-sided memorial wall. According to the article, 2013 has so far been the safest year at the Gary facility.
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Pelath Blast Tax Cuts, Redistribution of School Funding

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House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, of Michigan City, held a media availability in his office today to review the end of this legislative session. Pelath called the proposed tax cuts, which includes a combined five-percent tax cut, with the first reduction beginning in 2015, followed by an additional two-percent two years later, compromised politics at its worst, and says it should have been the full ten-percent cut or nothing. Pelath says giving the middle class a dollar back a week two years down the road won't do much to help Hoosier families.
Pelath also blasted the Republican supermajorities in the House and Senate for not restoring hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to public schools, but instead, are giving considerable more money to schools in wealthy communities, shortchanging those in less affluent communities.
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LaPorte County Burglary Suspects To Be Tried As Adults

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Dolores Smith
(Photos Courtesy of the LaPorte County Sheriff's Office)
Jacob Cornett
Two juveniles charged in a LaPorte County burglary Thursday will be tried as adults, with a third yet to be charged. The LaPorte County Sheriff's Office says 16 year old Dolores Smith, of Merrillville, is charged with felony burglary, and a misdemeanor charge of dangerous possession of a firearm, while 17 year old Jacob Cornett, who is being held without bond, is charged with aiding, inducing, and causing a crime, in this case burglary, a Class B felony. On Thursday morning, two juveniles were arrested after their vehicle crashed into a semi at the Lake/Porter County line while being pursued by authorities, after a witness reported them leaving the scene of a potential residential burglary in the 12-hundred block of Goldring Road. The Sheriff's office says the third suspect was taken into custody several hours later, at his home in rural LaPorte County.
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Munster and Lake Central HS Named Among Top in State

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Munster and Lake Central High Schools were among the top schools in the state, according to the US News and World Report 2013 Best High School Rankings released this week. Several other area high schools were also honored, including Chesterton, Hobart, Knox, Kouts, La Porte, Merrillville, Plymouth, Portage, West Central, Whiting, Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy. For a link to the list, visit: http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/indiana/rankings?schooltypepublic=y&schooltypemagnet=y&schooltypecharter=y ...

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84 of 95 Compliant in Porter Co Sex/Violent Offender Check

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porter co sheriff dept
Members of the Porter County Sheriff's Department recently wrapped up a week long detail that included a residence verification for registered sex or violent offenders living in Porter County. Authorities say 95 registered offenders were checked out by officers at various times of day, between April 15th through the 19th, and found 84 were compliant with the registry. Of the eleven that weren't, six were already incarcerated, with reports sent out for charges to be filed for two who were in violation, and according to the press release, three offenders require further investigation. A state statute requires a personal visit by law enforcement to the offender's listed address at least once a year, with those designated as a“sexually violent predator”, to be visited at least once every 90 days.
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Traffic Hazard Closes 2 Center Lanes SB I-65 @ Ridge Rd

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A number of traffic tipsters are calling in Northwest Indiana's Traffic Hotline reporting a full-size refrigerator was in the center lane southbound I-65 near Ridge Rd.  The traffic hazard has caused INDOT to close the two center lanes southbound I-65 approaching Ridge Rd. and that is backing up traffic on the connector ramp from the Borman (I-80/94).
Drivers need to exercise caution.
Traffic backing up on connector ramp
Eastbound I-80/94 connector ramp to southbound I-65 backing up due to traffic hazard in the center lanes southbound I-65 near Ridge Rd.
(photo from INDOT)
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Burglary Suspect and His Mom Arrested by Portage SWAT

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portage pd
Two suspects wanted in connection with numerous burglaries throughout Portage are now in police custody, including one suspect's mother. Portage Police report just before 9 this morning, they served a felony forgery warrant in the 68-hundred block of Mercedes Avenue for 22 year old James Rasch, whom police say they had looking for, along with another suspect, 26 year old Mark Bogart, for approximately a week. Authorities report James's 46 year old mother battered a SWAT officer during the execution of the warrant, and was subsequently arrested for battery and resisting arrest. Police say Bogart had previously been arrested on Wednesday, at a residence on Airport Road, and charged with felony possession of a hypodermic needle, and that the detective bureau is currently working on burglary charges for Bogart and Rasch.
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