Free Help Enrolling in Health Insurance Programs

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Franciscan Alliance logo
Persons in need of health insurance can learn what’s available and how to enroll during free programs, sponsored by Franciscan Alliance, in January and February at Southlake Mall.
Kim Eldridge, a representative of MDwise Hoosier Alliance insurance provider, will offer information on coverage options and assist with the enrollment process.
Sessions will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 30 and 31, from 9 a.m. to noon Feb. 7 and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 14, at the Franciscan Alliance display in the JC Penney store court on the mall’s first floor.
Registration is not required. For more information, send e-mail to: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

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Read more: Free Help Enrolling in Health Insurance Programs


La Porte Co. December 2013 DUI Task Force Results

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Drive Sober get Pulled Over
The results are in for the Impaired Driving Patrols conducted by the La Porte County D-U-I Task Force during the month of December, 2013.
According to a task force press release, 28-patrols yielded a total of 340 vehiclesthat were stopped with members of the patrol unit issuing 146 citations for Traffic and Criminal offenses in addition to 317 warnings. 

 Six persons were arrested for Drivoing while under the influence amd three were taken into custody for Felony D-U-I.  Of the ten subjects arrested for DUI, they had an average Breath Alcohol Content (BrAC) of .13% BrAC.
Nine additional suspects were arrested for Criminal Misdemeanors not related to DUI and six were arrested for Felony charges not related to DUI.
Sergeant Harlan Willliams says, "The continued efforts by members of the La Porte County DUI Task Force show our continued commitment to ridding our roadways of dangerous and imparied drivers as well as criminal offenders and wanted persons."  Williams goes on to say that he commends the continued efforts by Task Force members to keep our motoring public and communitgy safe."  The sergeant reminds members of the community that if they witness or suspect imparied or dangerous driving to report it immediately to 9-1-1.
The La Porte County DUI Task Force is a partnership that is funded by a grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and the National highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Members of the Task Force are comprised of Officers from the LaPorte City Police department and Michigan City Police Department as well as Deputies of the La Porte County Sheriff's Office.

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Read more: La Porte Co. December 2013 DUI Task Force Results


Budget Concerns Alarm Food Pantry Board

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Increased costs due to a variety of factors are raising new budget concerns with members of the Portage Township Food Pantry Board. 
A pantry press release says while several businesses, churches and charity-mined individuals continue to support the pantry, an overall decrease in contributions in combination with a significant increase to operational expenses are causing the pantry to examine it's resources with a concern for its future as a substantial source of aid for the community's needy.
Among the contributing budget factors are an increase in food prices, more qualified patrons due to cuts in food stamps, as well as the cut off of extended unemployment benefits. According to the release, the pantry is also sharing heat and power costs with its host, New Vistas Educational Opportunities Center. 
Even with the budget concerns, the board appreciates the continued community support it receives including a recent $500 donation from the Sandpiper Cooperative Preschool in Ogden Dunes....

Read more: Budget Concerns Alarm Food Pantry Board


Home Invasion, Robbery Suspect in Custody

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Zackery Padgett of La Porte
A La Porte man has been taken into custody in connected to an armed robbery at a neighboirhood tavern and an alleged home invasion that occurred early Sunday morning in La Porte. 
Reports say police en route to an armed robbery in progress in the 500 block of Tipton St. were informed that witnesses were chasing the suspect on nearby Brighton St. Upon arrival to that location, officers observed two males pinning down and assaulting another male against a silver SUV.
Further investigating showed that the subject being detained had allegedly just entered an apartment in the 600 block of Tipton Ave. and reportedly robbed a subject at gunpoint. He then fled the apartment where he was chased to where the SUV was located.
The suspect identified as 20 year-old Zackery Padgett is charged with robbery, a Class B 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.


Read more: Home Invasion, Robbery Suspect in Custody


IU NW Offering Free Tax Preparation Starting 2/7/14

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IU Northwest
Beginning Friday, Feb. 7 and continuing on most Friday evenings through April, Northwest Indiana families with less than $50,000 in annual income may take advantage of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at the Indiana University Northwest School of Business and Economics. This service provides free electronic tax filing of federal and state returns for local families.

VITA sessions take place by appointment on Friday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Dunes Medical/Professional Building at IU Northwest, located near Jefferson Street and 35th Avenue.

Families are asked to bring all W-2 forms, 1099s, Social Security and government payment notices, any tax rebate amounts received, and any other notices of income, mortgage interest, taxes paid, qualified tuition payments, contributions, rents paid, names and addresses of landlords, and any other tax-related information, as well as all family and dependent Social Security numbers and birthdates. Individuals are also asked to bring a photo ID.

There are no charges for this service and refunds are typically received within 10 days.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

To provide this service, the IU Northwest School of Business and Economics and the Accounting and Business Student Organization have teamed with Northwest Indiana Community Action and the Internal Revenue Service. Business and accounting students at IU Northwest are trained by faculty members and Internal Revenue Service representatives to prepare the tax returns.

For more than 30 years, students with IU Northwest’s AACSB-accredited School of Business have received practical, hands-on experience in tax preparation and customer service, while Northwest Indiana families have enjoyed access to free tax-preparation services.

For information about parking at IU Northwest, including a practice for issuing temporary visitors’ permits, please visit
For more information or to make an appointment, contact the IU Northwest School of Business and Economics at (219) 980-6552....

Read more: IU NW Offering Free Tax Preparation Starting 2/7/14


INDOT: Crews Working to Fill Potholes

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NORTHWEST INDIANA – Northwest Indiana drivers are asked to be on alert for potholes on interstates, U.S. highways, and state routes. The rise and fall in temperatures following last week’s severe winter weather was a recipe for potholes to form quickly. As temperatures continue to rise and fall through the winter season, more potholes are likely to form. When the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is not clearing snow, ice or storm debris, crews are focused on maintaining and preserving the state’s roads and bridges, which mainly consists of pothole patching in the winter months.
INDOT crews worked all weekend long to fill potholes in the Northwest Indiana District. All this despite an exhausting previous week on the roads clearing snow and ice from our recent winter storm which saw them on the roads 24 hours a day, for five days. Crews are filling potholes as quickly as possible, but with 5,000 lane miles to maintain in the Northwest Indiana District alone, it’s a big job.
Potholes begin when water seeps into the cracks in a road and freezes, expanding the layers of pavement, stone and soil beneath the surface. As the ice melts and contracts, heavy highway traffic further loosens the pavement, forming potholes.
With temperatures too low for paving, most of Indiana’s hot mix asphalt plants are now closed. During the winter INDOT uses cold mix – a mixture of small stone and liquid asphalt – as a temporary patch. Even after being filled with cold patch, the same pothole requires ongoing maintenance and can reopen several times throughout the winter. When the asphalt plants reopen in the spring, INDOT maintenance crews clean out and then repair potholes with hot mix, providing a smoother, more permanent fix.
For the past several years, INDOT has been expanding its Pavement Preservation Program to improve pavement friction and seal tiny cracks before potholes form. For every dollar invested, research estimates that pavement preservation saves taxpayers $6 to $14 in future maintenance and construction costs. Pavement preservation also uses fewer natural resources than reconstruction and significantly reduces motorist inconvenience.
To report a pothole on a numbered state route, interstate or U.S. highway, call 1-855-GO-INDOT.
INDOT urges motorists to slow down and stay alert when encountering pavement maintenance crews. Drivers in Northwest Indiana can monitor road closures, road conditions, and traffic alerts at any time via the INDOT social media channels: or Twitter @INDOTNorthwest. Or visit for INDOT’s TrafficWise Traveler Information Service....

Read more: INDOT: Crews Working to Fill Potholes


Packed House Hears Testimony on Proposed Marriage Bill

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The Indiana House Chamber, gallery and hallway was full of Hoosiers opposed to the proposed marriage amendment this morning as the House Judiciary Committee listened to testimony. State Representative David Niezgodski says also on the agenda is House Bill 1153, which Republicans say clarifies the amendment's language in case of a court challenge.
Representative Niezgodski called House Bill 1153, “highly unusual and unnecessary” and says he is confident the proposed marriage bill would be challenged if it passes. ...

Read more: Packed House Hears Testimony on Proposed Marriage Bill


Two Semi Tractors Stolen During Blizzard Found in IL

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portage pd
Blizzard conditions last weekend resulted in numerous crashes, spin-outs and slide-offs, but it also resulted in two semi tractors being stolen from Great Lakes Peterbilt in Portage. Portage Police report the General Manager received a call from an officer of the Wheeling Police Department who stated he had located two tractors and asked if they belonged to them, and after checking their inventory found that they indeed had two missing. Video footage captured on Sunday, January 5th, at 3:13am, showed two subjects enter and leave the area in the tractors and that the entire theft took two-and-a-half minutes. Wheeling Police located the two red 2007 Peterbilt tractors parked at a local business. Police report, at this time, it is uncertain if anything was taken from the tractors or if they sustained any damage due to the theft and there is no witnesses or suspects....

Read more: Two Semi Tractors Stolen During Blizzard Found in IL


Two Dead in Chicago River Trying to Rescue Cellphone

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In Chicago, it appears two people have died in the frozen Chicago River ... trying to rescue a cellphone. ABC News reports that according to police a man's cell phone slipped from his hands into the Chicago River, and he jumped in to get it. Two friends jumped in after him.
One man is dead. A woman is presumed dead and still in the water. A third man is going to be OK....

Read more: Two Dead in Chicago River Trying to Rescue Cellphone


Traffic Light Out at Sturdy Road and US 30 in Valpo

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Traffic tipsters are reporting the traffic light at Sturdy Road and US 30 in Valparaiso is dead. Until the issue can be resolved please treat the intersection as a four-way stop. ...

Read more: Traffic Light Out at Sturdy Road and US 30 in Valpo


Flood Warning Continues for Kankakee River at Shelby

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Ice and flooding ... causing a lot of trouble in Illinois and other states. ABC News reports the water wasn't rising, but freezing in Chicago, where three people plunged into the icy Chicago River, leaving one dead, and another in critical condition. That third person is still missing.
In northwest Indiana, the National Weather Service has issued a Flood Warning until further notice for the Kankakee River at Shelby. ...

Read more: Flood Warning Continues for Kankakee River at Shelby


GM Recall of Some GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverados

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A recall from General Motors involving it's Silverrado and Sierra pickups. ABC News reports GM's asking more than a third of a million Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra owners to get a software fix to avoid a potential fire. The company says drivers have reported at least 8 fires but no injuries.  GM's asking customers to not leave their trucks idling unattended or risk overheating the exhaust system and sparking a fire. ...

Read more: GM Recall of Some GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverados


Pence on Passing of Former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon

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Gov Mike Pence
Indianapolis, IN - Governor Pence issued the following statement regarding the passing of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Governor Pence and First Lady Karen Pence met privately with former Prime Minister Sharon during a congressional delegation trip to Israel in 2004.
"Today, we mark the passing of Ariel Sharon, a soldier and a leader who served the nation of Israel in times of war and peace. Prime Minister Sharon dedicated his life to the security and well-being of our most cherished ally and he will forever be remembered with respect by her people and her friends. Our prayers are with his loved ones and all those who mourn the passing of this warrior and leader of Israel."...

Read more: Pence on Passing of Former Israeli PM Ariel Sharon


New Study Says School is Less Safe than the Streets

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ABC News reports the latest study on school safety shows school less safe than the streets. Researchers writing in the journal Pediatrics find that a large proportion of school related injuries are intentional. The analysis from emergency room data indicates that children are more likely to be assaulted in their schools than anywhere else. The researchers from Brown University and Case Western say especially in cases of middle or high school, if a child is hurt at school, it's more likely to have been an intentional assault rather than an accident....

Read more: New Study Says School is Less Safe than the Streets


Two Children Hurt in Hammond House Fire Released

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hammond house fire 1
(Photo Courtesy of Karl Berner)
An investigation continues into a house fire in Hammond Wednesday night in the 600 block of Sibley Street that left three young children dead and three others injured. Two children injured in the fire were released from the hospital over the weekend, while the father, Andre Young remains in critical condition. Hammond Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Margraf says he's going to be a survivor.
The father reportedly had suffered third-degree burns saving the two children. A preliminary investigation points to two space heaters being a factor in the fire. Hammond Chief Fire Inspector, Michael Opinker told the Region News Team on Thursday that at least one space heater was connected to a propane tank and was being used to heat the lower level of the home, which had no electricity or gas....

Read more: Two Children Hurt in Hammond House Fire Released


Cline Ave Reopened After Weekend Closure

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Cline Avenue has reopened after an outbreak of potholes caused by the recent severe winter weather forced the closure late Saturday night. The Indiana Department of Transportation closed Cline Avenue, between I-80/94 and Columbus, at 10pm. The Lake County Sheriff's Department reported assisting motorists in record numbers for service calls due to flat tires and vehicle damage. INDOT reports crews are working to fill potholes across northwest Indiana as quickly as possible, but in the meantime, motorists should continue to watch for potholes on the roadways. ...

Read more: Cline Ave Reopened After Weekend Closure


Don't Become a Victim of a Slider Crime

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La Porte PD patch
Every Region resident knows the dangers of sliding on ice-covered area roadways, but now there is another form of “sliding” to be weary of.

The La Porte Police Department is reporting the rise of purses or wallets being snatched from car seats. The suspect simply slides below the window level of a vehicle, opens the door and steals the victim's purse or other valuables off the car seat.
Police say gas stations and shopping center parking lots are most favored by “slider” criminals. To avoid becoming a victim:

-don't leave your purse, wallet or other valuables sitting on the seat when you exit your vehicle.
-if you do have to leave it there temporarily, such as to pump gas, be sure to take your keys with you, roll up your windows and lock the car.

-stow valuables in the trunk or under the seat.

-keep your purse or wallet with you.

-as with any situation, always be alert to your surroundings. 

Take time to look up and around several times while completing your task.  You'll be a less desirable target for criminals.

Read more: Don't Become a Victim of a Slider Crime


24K Awarded for Emergency Food Shelter Programs

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United Way of Porter County
Porter County is on the receiving end of a $24,000 federal grant to bolster the county's emergency food and shelter programs.

A press release from the United Way of Porter County says the selection was made by a national board that is chaired by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency management Agency. 

The national board is made up of representatives from American Red Cross, Catholic Charities, USA: National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, The Jewish Federations of North America, the Salvation Army, and United Way Worldwide, according to the release.
A local board will determine how the funds will be distributed among the emergency food and shelter programs run by local service agencies in the area.  The local board is responsible for recommending agencies to receive these funds and any additional funds made available under this phase of the program.

Under the terms of the grant from the national board, local agencies chosen to receive funds must:
1) be private volutary non-profits or units of government,
2) be eligible to receive federal funds,
3) have an accounting system,
4) practice nondiscrimination,
5) have demonstrated the capability to deliver emergency food and/or shelter programs, and
6) if they are a private volluntary organization, have a voluntary board.
Qualifyiing agencies are urged to apply.
Porter County has distributed Emergency Food and Shelter funds previously with non-profits providing food, shelter, and utility assistance. 
Public or private voluntary agencies interested in applying for Emergency Food and Shelter Program funds should contact the United Way of Porter County, P.O. Box 2028, Valparaiso, In 46384, phone 219-464-3583 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for an application.
The deadline for applications to be received is 3p.m. February 7th, 2014.


Read more: 24K Awarded for Emergency Food Shelter Programs


Winter Weather Dents Blood Supply Donors Needed

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Amer. Red Cross
Last weeks snow and below zero temperatures forced hundreds of blood drives to be cancelled across some 25 states--including Indiana.  As a result, blood supplies have dropped significantly.  The American Red Cross is calling on Hoosiers to give as there is an especially urgent need for platelet donors and donors with types O, A negative and B blood.
Read more about the shortage at:
A number of blood drives are scheduled to be held throughout Lake County for the remainder of January:

Sat. Jan. 18th  9-11:30 a.m. at Charter Fitness, 1642 U.S. 1 in Schererville

Sat. Jan. 18th  1:30-4 p.m. Charter Fitness, 8560 E. Ridge Rd. in Hobart
Mon. Jan. 20th  1-6 p.m. St. John Township Community Center, 1515 Lincoln Highway in Schererville
Thu. Jan. 23rd  10a.m.-12:30p.m.  Indiana Botanic Gardens, 3401 W. 37th Ave. in Hobart
Thu. Jan. 23rd  2:30-5:30p.m. Henry S. Evans Elementary School, 2915 E. 35th Ave. in Lake Station
Sat. Jan. 25th  9 a.m.-1p.m.  St. John the Baptist, 1844 Lincoln Ave. in Whiting
Sat. Jan. 25th 9a.m.-3p.m. Adler Strong in the field house concourse, 600 N. Wiggs St. in Griffith
Mon. Jan. 27th 12:30-6:30p.m. St. Bridget gym, 107 Main St. in Hobart
Wed. Jan. 29th, 9a.m.-3p.m. Indiana University Northwest, 3400 Broadway in Gary
Merrillville donor center, 791 E. 83rd Ave. in Merrillville.   Mondays 12:30-5pm and 1st and 3rd Sat. of each month, 8a.m.- noon.

Read more: Winter Weather Dents Blood Supply Donors Needed


Flu is now Widespread in the Region and elsewhere

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indiana state department of health
The Centers for Disease Control says the flu season is now widespread throughout the Region and the rest of the state and it is also now showing up in at least 34 other states.

Health Officer Doctor Sara Cody says most urgent care facilities along with hospitals are implementing new rules for patients  including, "requiring patients to wear a mask to help reduce the spread from the ill person to the well people who might be sitting (near) by." People who may not have come in contact with the virus to also wear a mask to prevent spreading the flu to themselves. 
Public health official, Doctor Gil Chavez says, "people get sick pretty quickly and people have been reported to actually go from being healthy to having the flu to being in the hospital within two days." 
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, in Indiana of the 41 specimens submitted for influenza testing at ISDH Laboratory for the week ending January 4, 2014, nearly three quarters tested positive. The number of influenza-associated deaths reported so far this flu season in Indiana is three.


About... Influenza ("the flu")  from:

What is Influenza?

Influenza (flu) is a contagious illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the respiratory tract. The illness can be mild to severe and can be fatal in some people. Although anyone can become infected with influenza, the elderly, young children, or anyone with other health problems are at greater risk from developing more severe illness or suffer from the complications of influenza, such as pneumonia. Every year, more than 36,000 Americans die from influenza-related complications.

How is influenza spread?

Influenza is spread by respiratory droplets from close contact with infected persons or contact with contaminated surfaces or objects. Infection can occur when influenza viruses contact the eyes, mouth, or nose, and possibly through inhaling droplets from a sneeze or cough. Sometimes people may become infected by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with influenza viruses and then touching their eyes, mouth, or nose. Infected adults may be able to spread the virus to others about one day before they develop symptoms and up to five days after becoming sick. That means that you may be able to spread the flu to someone else before you even know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.

What are the symptoms of influenza?

Symptoms usually include:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches

Symptoms usually start about 1-4 days after being exposed and last 2-7 days.

How do I know if I have influenza?

A health care professional usually diagnoses influenza by looking at your symptoms.  Sometimes your nose will be swabbed and tested for the influenza virus.

How is influenza treated?

Influenza is usually treated with fever reducers, throat or cough drops, water, and plenty of rest. If the diagnosis is made at the very beginning of the illness, a doctor may prescribe antiviral medication.

How can I protect myself from influenza?

The best protection is to get a flu shot every year before the flu season starts. Since influenza viruses change over time, it is important to get a shot each year. Each year the vaccine is remade to include the types of flu virus expected to cause illness during that flu season. The vaccine begins to protect you within a few days after vaccination, but the vaccine is not fully effective until about 14 days after vaccination.
Good respiratory hygiene is important to prevent the spread of ALL respiratory infections, including influenza.

  • Use your elbow or upper arm, instead of your hands, or a tissue to cover your mouth and nose or when you cough or sneeze.  Immediately throw used tissues into the wastebasket.
  • To clean your hands after coughing or sneezing, wash with soap and water, or clean with alcohol-based hand cleaner if water is not available.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you get influenza, stay home from work, school, and social gatherings. This will help prevent others from catching your illness and gives your body the rest it needs to recover.
  • Try not to touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. Many diseases often spread this way.
  • For additional information on influenza, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Web site at:

Update: Vaccination with Fluzone

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recently detected an increase in the number of reports to VAERS of febrile seizures following vaccination with Fluzone (trivalent inactivated influenza vaccine or TIV, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur, Inc.). Fluzone is the only influenza vaccine recommended for use for the 2010-2011 flu season in infants and children 6-23 months of age. These reported febrile seizures have primarily been seen in children younger than 2 years of age. Data from VAERS are preliminary and serve as a sign or indication that further investigation is warranted. Further investigations are under way to assess whether there could be an association between influenza vaccination and febrile seizures, or if other factors could be involved. FDA and CDC have seen no increase in VAERS reports of febrile seizures in people older than 2 years of age following vaccination with TIV, and no increase after live attenuated influenza vaccine (FluMist, the nasal spray vaccine). In the cases reported, all children recovered and no lasting effects have been seen. Recommendations for the use of flu vaccine in children have not changed.
For more info, go to the FDA Website



Read more: Flu is now Widespread in the Region and elsewhere


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Laura-WXRD Scott-WXRD Brent-WXRD
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team


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