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The Six Millionth Served in the Region

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An exciting milestone was reached by a popular program that caters to area seniors.  Meals On Wheels of Northwest Indiana announces that they have served  it's six millionth meal Wednesday night.  Because there is still a need for the program it's a number that is both troubling as it is amazing. 

Ron Donahue, a member on the group's Business Development Committee and one of their volunteer drivers, says many seniors use the program because a lot of the times their kids are grown and moved out of the area.   "So, there really is no other way they would get a hot meal" served at home."
Donahue says there are other benefits to the program because the same driver delivers the meals, "aside from the meals...it's also someone checking in on them (seniors) everyday...and there's been cases where they've identified a need for somebody to go to the hospital."
While the program continues to serve those in need, Meals On Wheels is in need of volunteers and monetary donations and Donahue says they simply want to get the word out, "There's people in our Region that don't understand Meals On Wheels is out there."
To learn more about the program or to volunteer log onto: http://www.mealsonwheelsnwindiana.org/
Meals On Wheels of Northwest Indiana is located at 8446 Virginia Street, Merrillville, IN 46410.  Office hours are Monday-Friday 8a.m.-4p.m.     (219) 756-3663.
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Fair Oaks Farm Considers an Expansion

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Fair Oaks Farms is considering an expansion. Published reports say surveys have been sent out to gauge the interest of recent visitors regarding whether they should build an indoor water park and hotel at the northwest Indiana agricultural tourist destination. A Company spokesperson says, at this time, no decision has been made on the idea and no permits have been sought. Fair Oaks Dairy Adventure opened in 2004. ...

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Deer Firearms Season Opens Saturday

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Indiana DNR
The most popular phase of Indiana deer hunting kicks off Saturday with firearms season, and it serves as a reminder to hunters: Follow the rules, practice ethical hunting behavior, and have an enjoyable, safe time in the woods.
It’s estimated that at least a quarter-million Hoosiers participate in firearms season, which runs from Saturday (Nov. 16) through Dec. 1.
Hunters are required to have a valid deer license unless otherwise exempt. Exemptions are listed in the DNR Hunting/Trapping Guide, available at outdoor retail stores or online (dnr.IN.gov/fishwild/2343.htm).  
Deer licenses can be purchased at IndianaOutdoor.IN.gov, at many DNR-managed properties, and at hundreds of retail outlets across the state.
A deer firearms license costs $24 for Indiana residents, $150 for non-residents.
A firearms license allows a hunter to take one antlered deer with a legal firearm. A bonus antlerless license is needed to take antlerless deer during firearms season. Bonus antlerless county quotas are set for each of Indiana’s 92 counties.
Archery season, which began Oct. 1, runs concurrently with firearms season and ends on Jan. 5, 2014.
Successful hunters are required to report their harvest within 48 hours, either to a DNR-designated check station or through the CheckIN Game program. CheckINgame.dnr.IN.gov is a free online option, or the call-in option can be used at 1-800-419-1326 for a $3 charge (Visa or MasterCard only).
In 2012, hunters reported a record harvest of 136,248 deer, with 55 percent of the total coming during firearms season.
The DNR manages about 350,000 acres of public land — state forests, state reservoirs and state fish & wildlife areas — that are available to deer hunters. Hoosier National Forest offers another 202,000 acres.
A considerable amount of deer hunting also occurs on private land.
Whether hunting on private or public ground, hunters should practice safe hunting habits. Wear hunter orange clothing, identify your target before pulling the trigger, and respect private property.
Hunting accidents are extremely rare, but when they do occur, it usually involves falls from elevated hunting stands. The DNR Division of Law Enforcement records about 30 hunting-related accidents each year, and about two-thirds involve falls from elevated tree stands. When using such a stand, an easy way to avoid injury is to use a full-body safety harness. It can mean the difference between minor injuries or falling and sustaining serious injuries or even death.
“Invest in a quality safety harness,” DNR director Cameron Clark said. “It’s the least expensive life insurance policy you’ll ever buy.”...

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Conference of Hispanic HS Students at PUC

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Purdue University Calumet in Hammond will be hosting a conference for Hispanic high school students tomorrow morning. University officials report some 300 Hispanic students from high schools in East Chicago, Gary and Hammond will be attending the day-long conference which is designed to generate inspiration and energy while promoting success in college. The conference will feature two keynote speakers and breakout sessions for students and workshops for parents focusing on college admission, financial aid and preparation. ...

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Convicted Sex Offender on the Lam

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Stephen Rootes
(Photo Courtesy of the LaPorte County Sheriff's Office)
A 31 year old LaPorte man is wanted for failing to comply with sex offender registration rules. The LaPorte County Sheriff's Office reports Stephen M. Rootes moved from a home in the 11-hundred block of Farrand Avenue in late October and did not notify authorities and now faces a felony failing to register as a sex offender charge. The Sheriff's Office says he is suppose to register his whereabouts through June 2021, after he was convicted of felony sexual misconduct in 2007 and again in 2011, in a separate incident. Authorities believe Rootes, described as a white male, 5'9”, weighing 145 pounds and missing his upper front teeth, maybe in the Mishawaka area and St. Joseph County. Anyone with information is asked to contact Major John Boyd at the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office at (219) 326-7700 ext. 2406....

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Hammond PD to Conduct Weekend Sobriety Checkpoint

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Hammond PD
As part of the “Safe Family Travels” enforcement program, Hammond Police will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint this weekend. Lt. Patrick Vicari says motorists who are stopped can expect a brief delay and will be asked to produce their drivers license and registration. Lt. Vicari says they will be looking for impaired drivers, as well as other violations, and if none are found, drivers would then be immediately released. ...

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CDC: Teens are Finding New Ways to Use Tobacco

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The Centers for Disease Control warns of a new type of smoking danger for young people as new products appear in the market. Brian King, senior scientific adviser with the CDC's Office of on Smoking and Health, says regulations are needed that will take the new smoking products into consideration. King says one of the primary ways to help curb the use of these products is to regulate them the same as other tobacco products and that could hopefully address use among multiple populations, including youth, who are particularly vulnerable to use of these products. 
King says the increase in the electronic cigarettes, and the hookah, could be due to a lot of factors including increased marketing, availability, the visibility of these products. He says there's also a perception that these tobacco products may be safer alternatives....

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State Inspector General Files Complaint Against Bennett

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An ethics complaint was filed Thursday against former Indiana State School Superintendent Tony Bennett. State Inspector General David Thomas is alleging Bennett used state-owned computers for fundraising and other political activities last year. Bennett was defeated in his 2012 re-election bid. A hearing on the complaint is scheduled January 9th.

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Obama Announces You Can Keep Your Health Plan

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President Obama, appeared today in the White House briefing room to announce a fix for people losing their health insurance because of changes under the Affordable Care Act. The President announced that insurance companies can keep offering consumers plans that would otherwise be canceled but urged those consumers to look for better plans in the new marketplace.

"If you received one of these letters I would encourage you to take a look at the marketplace. Even if the website is not working as smoothly as it should be for everybody yet the plan comparison tool that lets you browse cost for new plans near you is working just fine."
For more information, visit the ABC local feed on our website....

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Roundabout Opening Just About Around the Corner

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Opening day for Valparaiso's new Five-Points Roundabout is just about just around the corner. Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission Executive Director Stu Summers says a special dedication and tree-lighting ceremony is planned for Sunday November 24th.  "Mayor Costas and the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission are going to have tree-lighting ceremony and the public's invited," Summers said, "on Sunday November 24th, at 4:30, just around dusk."  The tree, which had to be removed from a city park, was relocated and transplanted at the new roundabout.  Crews have started putting down the base for the new road, with the surface going down early next week weather-permitting, followed by lane markings, in hopes of opening the roundabout sometime Friday, November 22nd. [Image/City of Valparaiso]

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Investigation Continues into Fatal Accident at ArcelorMittal

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Authorities continue to investigate an accident that claimed the life of a Valparaiso man at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor West Wednesday morning. The Lake County Coroners office says 39-year-old Michael Samuelson died from blunt force trauma to the body. East Chicago Police say falling debris claimed Samuelson's life and injured two other contractors. Authorities have said injuries suffered by the other two contractors were not believed to be life-threatening. Their conditions were not available. The accident happened at the Number 3 steel production facility....

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BP Pipeline Repairs in Munster

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BP crews were working behind some townhomes near Apple Blossom Court and Windfield Drive north of Main Street in Munster Wednesday night to repair a pipeline. BP Spokesman Scott Dean says the 16-inch line, which had been out of service for a maintenance cycle, was being stress tested with high-pressure water when they found a failure point yesterday.  Dean says the water used in the testing is dyed green so it can be differentiated from other water, like rainfall, and the dye is similar to what's used when the Chicago River is dyed green for St. Patrick's Day. Officials say some of the water went into a nearby pond. Water from the pond was tested and Dean says no hydrocarbon was found; hydrocarbon is a component of crude oil.  Dean says the company will perform restorations to lawns and shrubs dug up during repairs.

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Cardiology Group Joins Porter Health

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Porter Health Care System CEO Jonathan Nalli has announced that Northwest Indiana Cardiovascular Physicians (NICP) has joined Porter Physician Group. NICP, the largest cardiology practice in Porter County, brings a formal affiliation of eight cardiologists to the health care system.
Physicians belonging to NICP include: Keith Atassi, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.S.C.A. & I.; Akram Kholoki, M.D., F.A.C.C.; Daniel P. Linert, M.D., F.A.C.C.; Hector J. Marchand, M.D.; M. Satya Rao, M.D.; Sandeep Sehgal, M.D., F.A.C.C.; Jay Shah, M.D.; Michael L. Wheat, M.D., F.A.C.C.
 “We are pleased to welcome this esteemed group of physicians and their 59-member staff into Porter Physician Group,” said Nalli. “All have well-established reputations as exceptionally skilled, dedicated and compassionate leaders in the medical community. These physicians and their well-trained staff have made a difference in the lives of so many patients for more than a decade. We are proud to have them aboard as an integral part of the hospital’s Center for Cardiovascular Medicine.”
Described by Porter Health Care as a “heart hospital within a hospital,” the Center for Cardiovascular Medicine is located on the first floor of the new Porter Regional Hospital and provides advanced cardiovascular medicine in one centralized location. The center has received national recognition and accolades from the American Heart Association, Blue Cross and Blue Shield Distinction, Society of Chest Pain Centers, and the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Most recently, Porter was awarded advanced certification in heart failure from The Joint Commission (the first hospital in northern Indiana and the second in the state to receive this honor).
For more information regarding Porter Physician Group, visit porterphysiciangroup.com.
 ...

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Whiting Takes Possession of Former Illiana Hotel

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The City of Whiting recently announced it has officially taken possession of the former Illiana Hotel at 119th Street and Atchison Avenue through the county property tax sale process. City officials say the action was necessary to facilitate redevelopment. The city says it plans to assess the building's overall condition and seek a partnership with a private developer for a full renovation. ...

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Horizon to Acquire Summit Community Bank

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Michigan City-based Horizon Bancorp has announced plans to expand their current market presence in southwestern Michigan by acquiring Summit Community Bank through a stock and cash merger.  Summit Community Bank is headquartered in East Lansing and serves the greater Lansing area through two full-service banking locations. Horizon Bancorp’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Horizon Bank, operates under its original charter, dating back to 1873, with a footprint of twenty-nine offices extending throughout northern and central Indiana as well as southwestern Michigan.
“We are enthusiastic about this merger which is consistent with Horizon’s philosophy of partnering with banks that hold core values similar to ours and a commitment to serving their local communities,” said Horizon’s Chief Executive Officer, Craig M. Dwight.  “Summit Community Bank was founded with the goal of contributing to the success of their customers by offering creative financial solutions based upon sound financial advice, being ever mindful of the communities they serve. This stems from their most basic goal to preserve the values of community banking.”
 
Dwight explained that the Summit merger provides an excellent opportunity to expand Horizon’s current market presence in southwestern Michigan into the state’s vibrant capital region. This expansion will also complement Horizon’s entry into Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Horizon recently announced the hiring of a senior lender in charge of building a loan production team. Grand Rapids and Lansing represent Michigan’s second and third largest metropolitan areas, respectively. “We believe establishing a significant presence in these larger markets will provide Horizon with substantial growth opportunities, a key component to our future success,” Dwight commented.
“The team of experienced bankers at Summit Community Bank will continue to be led by John W. Abbott, Summit’s President and Chief Executive Officer, to solidify our shared philosophies of exceptional customer service and commitment to community banking,” continued Dwight.  Horizon has a track record of establishing local advisory boards to maintain the pulse of the local community.  Dwight indicated that such an advisory board will be established and appointed by Mr. Abbott for the greater Lansing area.

Mr. Abbott stated, “We are excited to become part of the Horizon Bank family and the increased opportunities this provides our customers and community.  Horizon’s demonstrated commitment to preserve true community banking, which means local decision-making, community involvement, and personal one-on-one service, will be keys to our joint success.”
 
The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2014, subject to approval by federal and state regulatory authorities and SCB shareholders as well as the satisfaction of other closing conditions provided in the merger agreement.  The merger agreement also provides that Summit Community Bank will be merged into Horizon Bank, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Horizon Bancorp.
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Valpo Redev Commission Executive Dir Leaving

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The Executive Director of the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission has announced he will leave the position effective the end of this year. Stuart Summers has served with the Redevelopment Commission since 1995 and was appointed executive director in 2002.
“I have been involved in numerous projects during my time with the Commission,” Summers said, “and I have thoroughly enjoyed serving Valparaiso.  Summers commented that he believes that with the recent signing of the Pratt expansion project it would be a good time to move on. “I will still be around, and I will assist in helping the transition (to a new Executive Director) go smoothly."
Summers, 58, said he will focus on his other business interests and personal objectives. Summers owns Excel Driving Instruction in Valparaiso, does governmental consulting and is a resolution arbitrator for FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority)....

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Discussion on Whiting's Stadium District Plan

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Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura presented an overview of the city's Stadium District plan Wednesday, noting there's no guarantee that properties on the acquisition list will ever be acquired. The proposed development area includes land north of 121st Street and east of Schrage Avenue. The plan says properties in the area include some of the oldest in the community, but that many are in disrepair and several high-volume police call properties exist within the district's boundaries.  The mayor spoke at Wednesday's Redevelopment Commission meeting.  To view the plan, visit http://www.whitingindiana.com/intranet/Plans_and_Reports/2013_WRC_Plan_Information.pdf

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Sentencing in Sexting Case Delayed for Former Teacher

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Sentencing for a former Portage Middle School teacher who pleaded guilty on two-counts of felony child solicitation, originally scheduled for today will now take place on November 27th after the judge stated she was not prepared to accept his plea agreement. The plea deal calls for 45 year old Bryan Tyman to spend six years on probation, the first of which on home detention and to register as a sex offender for ten-years. He would also lose his Indiana teaching license. Tyman admitted in September to sending sexually-themed text messages to three female students from December 2011 to December 2012....

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Porter County Recorder Offers eRecording Service

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Porter County Recorder Jon Miller announced today the implementation of electronic recording as a new service their office provides to the public. The Recorder's Office will be able to electronically record deeds, mortgages and other documents in cooperation with the Porter County Assessor and County Auditor. Miller says the more efficient process will reduce the turnaround time on processing documents, which in turn expedites the return of important personal documents back to the public.
Miller says other benefits of electronic recording include:
• The manual process associated with paper processing is reduced from days to just minutes.
• eRecording wins “The Race to the Courthouse” - eDocuments beat ones submitted via the mail or a courier
• Direct cost savings in postage, overnight shipping and delayed processing
• Fewer rejections and faster corrections: eRecording eliminates rejections for incorrect fees. Rejected documents can be resubmitted in hours vs. days.
If you are interested in eRecording, please visit http://www.porterco.org/index.aspx?nid=202...

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Wreath Silent Auction to Benefit Needy Families

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(Photos Courtesy of Franciscan Alliance)
An event to benefit underprivileged families kicked off on Monday. Michelle Payne, Director of Customer Relations and Satisfaction Department for Franciscan St. Anthony Health in Crown Point, says the public is invited to participate in their 7th Annual Christmas Wreath Silent Auction, just stop by the hospital's main lobby, view the 28 wreaths on display, place your bid on the bid sheet and the highest bid wins.
Payne says the goal of the auction is to provide at least 20 needy families one-hundred dollar gift cards from the sale of the wreaths. The Christmas Wreath Silent Auction continues through 9am Monday, November 18th.
wreath auction2 ...

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