Semi Carrying Mail Rolls Over Near Lowell

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In Lake County, a semi loaded with U-S mail heading to Lafayette and Indianapolis rolled over around 11 am Wednesday on south bound I-65 three miles north of the Lowell exit. No mail was lost. Indiana State Police say the driver, a 60-year-old St. John man, was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Preliminary investigation by Master Trooper Martin Benner revealed that the driver was south bound on I-65 when he changed lanes from the right lane to the left. There had been a previous crash in that location earlier which was off the roadway on the right and no lanes were closed because of it, police say.   The driver told police he saw the crash activity up ahead and changed lanes to go into the left lane and began to slow down. He stated he looked to the right at the crash and when he looked forward another semi ahead of him was going slower than his semi. He steered to the left, went off the road, lost control and hit the barrier median cables, troopers say, and the semi then came back partially into the left lane before it went off the road again, losing control and hitting the barrier median cables for a second time causing the semi to roll over onto its passenger side in the median where it became entangled in the barrier cables.  [Photo/Indiana State Police]...

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Westbound Toll Road Blocked

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Westbound Indiana Toll Road stalled semi blocking both lanes at 28mm.  Delays begin at State Road 49. Black ice this morning.  Northbound Interstate 65 accident near 61st now clear. ...

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Trooper Squad Hit, Crash Slows Traffic on I-65

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Authorities say a collision involving three vehicles including a state trooper's car has the two right lanes of Interstate 65 near the Gary/Hobart/Lake Station area blocked at the 256 mile marker, just a couple miles south of Ridge Road. Indiana State Police at the Lowell Post report drifting snow and slick conditions.  Officials say a passenger vehicle slid off the road due to drifting snow and after a trooper responded, parked his vehicle and got out, and the squad car was struck from behind by another passenger vehicle.  We're told all three vehicles, the squad, a pickup truck and a passenger car, are being towed from the scene. Authorities tell us the trooper was not hurt and the other two drivers were being checked at the scene. There are long delays on northbound I-65 between Ridge Road and 61st Avenue....

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Dog Lost After Tornado Reunited with Indiana Family

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Separated after a tornado....Rosco the dog is back with this family in Fountain County, Indiana, but he almost wasn't.  ABC News reports after a fierce tornado damaged Kyla Robinson's home in west-central Indiana....the family's dog Rosco turned up missing.  The boxer mix was found days later wandering, 45 miles away. But the family didn't know it. The dog was taken to a shelter and adopted...but the new owner at first refused to give him up. Then, she relented. Today, Rosoe and his people were reunited. And Kyla...says she'll get him microchipped at a friend's grooming salon.  As for Roscoe, he's just happy to be home....

Read more: Dog Lost After Tornado Reunited with Indiana Family


New Budget Deal, Many Hope Farm Bill Will be Next

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Now that Congress has approved a new budget deal, many around the country and in northwest Indiana are hoping a new Farm Bill will be next. During a recent Region News Makers interview, Food Bank of Northwest Indiana Executive Director Arleen Peterson talked about the issue of poverty and those facing hunger, especially in light of the SNAP cuts to food stamps last month. Peterson says they have been receiving numerous calls on food pantry locations from those whose benefits have been cut.
Published reports recently announced any potential vote on the Farm Bill will not take place until January and Executive Director Peterson urges you to contact your U-S Congress or Senate representative to advocate for its immediate passage. To hear more of our Region News Makers interview with Food Bank of Northwest Indiana Executive Director Arleen Peterson, visit

Read more: New Budget Deal, Many Hope Farm Bill Will be Next


Merrillville Stormwater Resource Center Officially Open

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stormwater ribbon
(Photos Courtesy of Karl Berner)
A ribbon cutting was held at the new Merrillville Stormwater Resource Center, a one-of-a-kind facility in the state of Indiana which houses stormwater equipment and allows for better administration, provides conference rooms for workshops, and is more accessible to the public. Matt Lake, Executive Director of Stormwater Utility for the Town of Merrillville, applauded the efforts of Merrillville's Stormwater Management Board in getting to this point.
stormwater truck

Lake says the Town of Merrillville Stormwater Utility is looking toward the future with their Stormwater Master Plan, which—among other initiatives—aims to locate areas suitable for upland water storage.
stormwater people
To view viseo of today's ribbon cutting click

Read more: Merrillville Stormwater Resource Center Officially Open


One of Two Mega Millions Winners Comes Forward

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Ira Curry of Stone Mountain, Georgia has been named as one of two Mega Millions winners. ABC News reports she'll collect half of the $636 million jackpot which comes out to about $120 million in cash after taxes. Georgia Lottery President Debbie Alford says Curry heard the numbers over the car radio, and became curious after hearing the mega ball was her lucky number seven. Alfrod says Curry picked all the numbers on the winning ticket using a combination of family birthdays and her family's lucky number...number seven.
At last check the other winning ticket holder has not yet identified themselves. ...

Read more: One of Two Mega Millions Winners Comes Forward


I-65 SB Backing up from Earlier Rollover Crash

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As crews continue to off-load a semi involved in an earlier rollover accident, the left lane remians blocked southbound I-65 south of the US-231 Crown Point exit near mile marker 244.  Traffic tipsters are reporting that the southbound lanes of I-65 are backing up from 109th Avenue.  Drivers may want to seek an alternate to avoid delays.

Read more: I-65 SB Backing up from Earlier Rollover Crash


Audio: BP Marks Final Major Milestone in Whiting Project

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(Photos Courtesy of BP Whiting)
BP announced today that all of the major new units associated with the multi-year, multi-billion dollar modernization project at the Whiting refinery are up and running. The Region News Team spoke with BP Spokesman Scott Dean and you can hear our interview by clicking News Audio On Demand at
bp 2 ...

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Intoxicated LaPorte Man Assaults Police Officer

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shawn espinosa
(Photo Courtesy of the LaPorte Police Department)
A LaPorte man is charged with two felony counts of battery to a police officer after an incident early Saturday morning in an alleyway in the 700 block of Clay Street. LaPorte Police report they were at a home on Perry Street to investigate a report of a battery which had just occurred when, at approximately 2:11am, they observed a man in an alley on his hands and knees. The subject identified himself as Shawn Espinosa, who police report smelled of an alcoholic beverage and appeared intoxicated. Police report while attempting to verify his identity, Espinosa allegedly became verbally and physically aggressive and struck an officer in the face while police attempted to place him into custody. Officers and Espinosa continued to fight on the ground until he was eventually secured. ...

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US Marshals Fugitive of the Week: Jose Gonzalez-Ibarra

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Jose Gonzalez-Ibarra
(Photo Courtesy of the US Marshals Service)
A 40 year old man wanted by the Lake County Sheriff's Department since 2007 for child molesting is the US Marshals Service, Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force, “Fugitive of the Week.” Jose Gonzalez-Ibarra is described as a white male, 5'9”, weighing 180 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes who has been known to reside throughout the northern Indiana area with ties to Merrillville.  Anyone with information on Jose Gonzalez-Ibarra and his 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....

Read more: US Marshals Fugitive of the Week: Jose Gonzalez-Ibarra


Home Invasion and Battery at LaPorte Village

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LaPorte PD
Police in LaPorte are investigating a report of a home invasion and battery that took place Saturday morning at LaPorte Village. LaPorte Police say the victim reported he heard knocking at his entry door and cracked the door partially open to see who was there, when two men forced their way inside and began hitting him with a baseball bat. The victim stated he knew the suspects, but had no idea why they allegedly forced their way into his home and assaulted him. EMS responded to the scene, in the one-thousand block of East State Road 2, but the victim refused medical treatment....

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Free Shipping Day

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Today is one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year for procrastinators. ABC News reports thousands of retailers are doing it this free shipping day to make sure you shop, by offering your gift a free ride to its recipient, by Christmas eve.  The event began six years ago, and organizers say it's as much a holiday tradition as eggnog and jingle bells.  You can find a list of retailers offering the perk, at, along with a disclaimer, saying the offer is only valid on in-stock items in the Continental US. ...

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VU Signs Bryce Drew to Long-Term Contract Extension

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Valparaiso University and head men’s basketball coach Bryce Drew, a 1998 Valpo graduate, have reached an agreement on a new, 10-year contract.  Director of Athletics Mark LaBarbera announced today that Bryce Drew will continue with the Crusaders, where he started his career as both a player and a coach.
“We are thrilled to have a coach of such high caliber for our men’s basketball team,” said Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., president. “Bryce Drew demonstrates extraordinary leadership, integrity and character, and I am confident he will continue to develop Valpo student-athletes who exhibit these same characteristics.”
Drew was named head coach in May 2011 and guided the Crusaders to consecutive Horizon League regular season titles in his first two seasons. As a rookie head coach, Drew was named the Horizon League Coach of the Year, and his second season culminated with the program’s first Horizon League Championship crown and a berth in the NCAA Tournament.
“Bryce Drew has shown himself to be one of the exceptional young coaches in college basketball,” said LaBarbera. “His outstanding record clearly shows his ability to recruit and lead talented student-athletes. We are grateful for Coach Drew’s dedication to Valparaiso University and excited that he will continue in a leadership role here for the foreseeable future.”
Prior to his appointment as head coach, Drew was a member of the Valpo coaching staff for six years as an assistant and then as associate head coach of the men’s basketball team. During that period, Valpo moved into the Horizon League in 2007-2008 and advanced to the postseason on two occasions.
“I love coaching at Valparaiso University. The leadership on our campus radiates what is exceptional about collegiate athletics and the college experience. I feel extremely blessed to work under such great leadership and for such a great university,” Drew said. “I definitely have a place in my heart for Valpo. Growing up I remember enjoying watching my dad and brother put their passion into building Valpo’s basketball program. Being a Valpo student-athlete, I was able to experience everything about the university hands on. With all of that experience here coming to work does not feel like a job but a part of who I am.”
Drew graduated from Valparaiso University in 1998 and was a four-year starter on the men’s basketball team, leading Valpo to the Sweet 16 of the 1998 NCAA Tournament. He spent six seasons in the NBA with the Chicago Bulls, Houston Rockets and Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets, and he played one year professionally overseas before joining the Valpo coaching staff....

Read more: VU Signs Bryce Drew to Long-Term Contract Extension


Board Opposes Amendment to Ban Gay Marriage

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The Porter County Board of Commissioners this week unanimously approved a resolution opposing a proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Indiana. The resolution notes that state law already defines marriage as between a man and a woman, and points to concerns voiced by the Hoosier business community. Two Region mayors, Democrat Thomas McDermott Jr of Hammond and Republican Jon Costas of Valparaiso are among a dozen mayors around the state who also recently took an official stand against the proposed amendment, House Joint Resolution Number 6....

Read more: Board Opposes Amendment to Ban Gay Marriage


Webinar on Ped, Pedal and Paddling in the Region

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More and more Region residents are finding themselves walking, biking, and paddling in northwest Indiana, and you can go online tomorrow to take a peek into the future of local non-motorized travel routes.  Click here for info on signing up for the webinar, set for 11a-12n CST Thursday Dec 19:

You can hear our conversation with Barloga online here at our website at News Audio on Demand.
Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission Transportation Planning Manager Mitch Barloga says the free webinar Thursday is basically for anyone wanting more info, and that could include elected officials; health professionals; bicycle, walking and paddling enthusiasts; and anyone else with an appreciation reducing our dependency on the automobile, and to engage in healthier lifestyles.
He says the webinar will last about an hour. Barloga says the Region has seen a huge increase in new trail miles over the past twenty years.
"We have about 130 miles of trail on the ground," Barloga said, "and that is a ten-fold increase from just two decades ago when we only had thirteen accounted for."
NIRPC works with municipalities and advocates alike on expanding the non-motorized network through funding and educational avenues....

Read more: Webinar on Ped, Pedal and Paddling in the Region


Pelath Reacts to Pence Announcement

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Representative Pelath
Indiana House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath from Michigan City today issued the following statement in response to Gov. Mike Pence’s recent announcement about job creation figures in our state this year:
"Hoosiers have seen a lot of these slick jobs announcements in recent years. And once the press releases are deleted and the promised jobs never materialize, they notice that the politicians are long gone.
"Folks are skeptical about these announcements, and with good reason.  The fact is that they already know how to judge our prosperity.  They ask, ‘Am I working?  Am I earning enough to take care of my loved ones?  Will I earn enough next month to plan for the future?’
"Our citizens believe Indiana can do a lot better, and they will cast their judgments based on outcomes and not promises.
“And given the hyperbole that sometimes comes with job creation announcements – with inflated numbers that get carried over from year to year and never seem to match what people see around them – attention must be paid to the fact that Indiana’s unemployment rate continues to exceed that of our fellow Americans.
“And let us remember that creating jobs is only half of our mission.  Creating good-paying jobs that grow our middle class is just as important…and that is where our state has just as much work ahead of it.
“Since numbers are so much a part of announcements like this, here are a few that are verifiable:
“According to the national census, Indiana’s median household income is $48,393, compared to the national average of $52,762.
“The census also tells us that our per capita income of $24,497 is behind the national average of $27,915.
“This is why we must dedicate the 2014 legislative session to creating jobs that help lift our Hoosier middle class, rather than hand out more tax cuts to corporate boardrooms and debate a marriage amendment that will drive the best and brightest away from Indiana.
“If the grand numbers touted today turn out to be true, then we should feel a little better about our state’s future.
“But we cannot be content with mere numbers.  What matters is whether our people are prospering as they could.”...

Read more: Pelath Reacts to Pence Announcement


BP Marks Final Major Milestone in Whiting Project

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BP announced today that all of the major new units associated with the huge Whiting project have been successfully brought on stream. The start-up of the new 102-thousand barrel per day coker in mid-November marked the last major milestone of the multi-year, multi-billion dollar modernization project at the Whiting refinery. The company today said the plant in north Lake County is working through post-start-up troubleshooting and expects to be ready to begin the ramp up of progressively higher Canadian crude processing from year-end through the first quarter of 2014, as announced earlier.
The multi-billion dollar investment in the refinery is the largest private sector investment in Indiana history and also includes several hundred million dollars in state-of-the-art environmental equipment for water treatment and air emissions, according to Whiting Refinery manager Nick Spencer.
“The safe start-up of this world-scale coker is the last major step in unlocking the full potential of the Whiting Refinery for our shareholders,” said Iain Conn, chief executive of BP’s downstream segment. “The reconfigured refinery now has the flexibility to greatly increase heavy sour crude processing, delivering an expected incremental $1 billion of operating cash flow per year, depending on market conditions.” A coker is a refinery processing unit that converts residual oil from the crude oil distillation process and converts it into lighter naphtha, light and heavy gas oils for use in gasoline and diesel production and petroleum coke which can be used in power generation and other industrial applications.
“The Whiting Refinery project has been at the heart of our U.S. fuels strategy to operate sophisticated, feedstock-advantaged refineries tied to strong logistics and integrated into fuels marketing,” Conn added. “This world-class refinery is in the right location with the right equipment to process growing supplies of North American crude oil, including heavy grades from Canada. I would like to congratulate the wider team which has delivered this final milestone.”
“Along with the recent Toledo and Cherry Point Refinery upgrades and the successful completion of the Texas City and Carson Refinery divestments, the Whiting Refinery modernization project repositions our fuels business in North America,” said Steve Cornell, Chief Operating Officer for U.S. Fuels and Head of Refining & Major Projects.
“Our investment in Whiting’s future shows BP’s commitment to safely providing energy and jobs in America,” Spencer said. Spencer also credited the 1,900 Whiting employees and large contractor workforce for safely delivering the multi-year project.
“We’ve employed more than 10,000 skilled craftspeople here at Whiting the past several years preparing for this day and safety performance has been very good,” Spencer added. “Our focus now is to continue this high standard of safety performance as we operate the plant to produce gasoline, diesel and jet fuel and provide jobs for thousands of people in greater Chicagoland and much of the Midwest for decades to come.”
As BP’s largest U.S. refinery, the 413,000 barrel per day (bpd) Whiting facility provides the Midwest and other parts of the U.S. with enough fuel every day to run 430,000 cars, 22,000 commercial trucks, 2,000 commercial jet liners, 10,000 tractors and fill 350,000 propane tanks.
BP has recently completed a number of major investments in its other U.S. refineries, including a clean-diesel upgrading project at its 234,000 bpd day Cherry Point, Washington refinery; and the addition of a continuous catalytic reformer to the 160,000 bpd Toledo, Ohio, refinery (a 50:50 joint venture with partner Husky Energy Inc.)....

Read more: BP Marks Final Major Milestone in Whiting Project


Chief: Portage Incident Not Random Act

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Portage Police Chief Troy Williams says an incident Monday night involving an apparent home break-in and robbery in the 5400 block of Osage was not a random act and his department continues to investigate. One of the victims reportedly chased the suspects after they left, officials say, and the suspect vehicle crashed in Lake Station, where police there conducted a search in a wooded area between 18th Avenue and I-94. In a post on Facebook, Williams says it is an ongoing case, and there are not many details he can comment on at this time. ...

Read more: Chief: Portage Incident Not Random Act


Woman Suspected of Running Prostitution Ring

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Authorities say a Chicago woman extradited from Hong Kong is accused of operating a prostitution ring out of three massage parlors in Lake County, Indiana. United States Attorney David Capp announced that 55-year-old Rita Law has been charged in a sealed complaint filed on October 17, 2013, now unsealed, with transporting an individual for the purposes of prostitution. The US Attorney's Office in Hammond says Law was arrested on October 18, 2013 after deplaning from a Cathay Pacific airline flight in Hong Kong. Homeland Security Investigations' Hong Kong office coordinated with the Hong Kong Department of Justice and the Hong Kong Police Force to both arrest and extradite Law back to the United States to face the charge in the complaint. This charge was filed as the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of Homeland Security Investigations Hong Kong....

Read more: Woman Suspected of Running Prostitution Ring


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