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Lincolnway will be Restricted During Fall Harvest Festival

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While Valparaiso's city wide trick-or-treat is set for Thursday, October 31st from 5:30pm to 7:30p.m., the city's Downtown Fall Harvest festival trick-or-treat is scheduled for Friday, October 25th from 4pm to 6pm. Valparaiso Police remind drivers and visitors to downtown that Lincolnway will be closed from Michigan Avenue to Lafayette Avenue from 4p.m. to 6p.m. for the festival.
For more information about the fall festival visit:  www.valporaisoevents.com
Sgt. Michael Grennes of the Valparaiso Police Department offers the following safety tips to help make your Halloween holiday safe and fun for everyone:

1. Walk don't run from house to house
2. Stay on sidewalks
3. Stop and look both ways before crossing the street
4. Cross the street at intersections, not between parked cars
5. Stay in familiar neighborhoods
6. Carry a flashlight and wear bright clothing
7. Make sure costumes do not drag on the ground
8. Avoid wearing masks while walking from house to house
9. Safer to be in groups when walking from house to house
10. Approach only houses that have lights on
11. Wear clothing with reflective markings or tape
12. Wear costumes that don't restrict your sight
13. Wait to eat candy after you get home
14. Parents, inspect all candy after returning home. Any candy opened should not be eaten
15. Carry a cellular phone and immediately report any suspicious activity to police

All motorists should slow down and use extra caution during trick-or-treat hours
https://www.valapraisopolice.org ...

Read more: Lincolnway will be Restricted During Fall Harvest Festival

 

Improving Community Air Quality with Tree Planting

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There are other ways to improve air quality in the community other than reducing automotive emissions. The Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission will demonstrate such a way Friday morning at Sunset Hill Farm County Park in Valparaiso. NIRPC along with Partners for Clean Air, the parks department and local residents will be planting trees.
Kathy Luther. Director of NIRPC's Environmental Services says "Tree planting projects are one way we can all work together to improve air quality in our communities." Luther says that the presence of trees reduces air pollution and helps people cope better with asthma and other respiratory problems. She says trees also can lead "up to a 60-percent reduction in street level particulates" and can shave $250 a year from your energy bill.
The fall tree planting event is open to the public and takes place from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30a.m. Friday, October 25, 2013 at Sunset Hill Farm County park in Valparaiso.
Northwest Indiana Clean Air is a partnership between the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission and the people and businesses of Northwest Indiana to help all residents Think Green & Breathe Easy--understanding and inspiring action to continue improving the air quality of our unique region.
To learn more, visit: https://www.nwicleanair.com...

Read more: Improving Community Air Quality with Tree Planting

 

Indiana Atty General Seeks Dismissal of Ritz Lawsuit

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Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller has filed a motion in Marion County to dismiss a lawsuit filed by State School Superintendent Glenda Ritz, contending essentially that only his office can file lawsuits on behalf of state officials or the state. Ritz is suing all ten members of the State Board of Education, alleging they held an illegal meeting by drafting and sending a letter circulated by email requesting a legislative agency calculate school grades instead of her department, claiming that violated the state's Open Door Law. Documents filed today by Zoeller seeking to have the case thrown out say he did not consent to Ritz's lawsuit. ...

Read more: Indiana Atty General Seeks Dismissal of Ritz Lawsuit

 

Longtime Political Reporter Hugh Hill, 1924-2013

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Funeral services were held in Naperville, Illinois, Wednesday for longtime television political reporter Hugh Hill. Radio One Communications founder Leonard 'Uncle Len' Ellis recalls working with Hill, and the late ABC-TV news anchor Frank Reynolds, in Hammond, Indiana, here in the Region before Hill would later become political editor at ABC's Channel 7 in Chicago, where Hill worked for more than thirty years. Hill, a native of downstate Gillespie, Illinois, retired in 1996. Hill passed away last Friday at the age of 89....

Read more: Longtime Political Reporter Hugh Hill, 1924-2013

 

Man Cited After Entering Borman Work Zone

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In Hammond early this morning a Indiana State Police at Lowell say a 23-year-old Beecher, Illinois man who told troopers he was out celebrating the evening before was arrested in the overnight work zone on the east bound Borman Expressway east of Calumet Avenue. Shortly before 3:30 am, officials say a state police sergeant working traffic security for the overnight work saw a Ford Explorer drive in between the construction barrels behind her and stop to talk to a construction worker in his vehicle. The exit lane, right and right middle lanes were closed in this area for the overnight construction leaving the left two lanes open for motoring traffic. Troopers say the area was well posted, with signage, barrels, traffic control devices, construction workers and vehicles. Police say the sergeant was sitting in the right middle lane in construction with all of her emergency lights activated less than ½ mile from the workers up ahead, and as she watched the Explorer come up behind her she thought he might have been a worker until she realized his vehicle didn’t have an amber light on it. The Explorer passed her police car, officials say, and was approaching a construction semi-tanker loaded with water sitting in right lane as she took off after it. The semi was blocking the Explorer when it attempted to move to the right middle lane to get around it, police say, and the semi was able to maneuver itself to block the Explorer as the sergeant approached to stop it; as there were workers out working in front of the semi.  Police say the driver of the Explorer was cited for Failure to Obey a Traffic Control Device in a Work Zone and Operating While Intoxicated Refusal and was taken to the Lake County Jail....

Read more: Man Cited After Entering Borman Work Zone

 

Westville Man Seriously Injured in Crash

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Indiana State Police at the Lowell Post say an early morning pursuit ended with a motorcycle crash in La Porte County and the driver, a 39-year-old Westville man, receiving life threatening injuries. A preliminary investigation revealed shortly before 1:30 this morning, the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department got information about a motorcycle crash that may have occurred at U.S. 421 and 250 South in Westville. Officers were unable to locate the crash but shortly thereafter heard a motorcycle approaching allegedly at an excessive speed.  Police say driver would not pull over, and went into a neighborhood off East Jefferson Street in Westville, then north on US 421, approaching Valentine Court in Michigan City where he hit a curb, lost control, and was ejected.  Indiana State Police say William Knies who was not wearing a helmet was transported to Saint Anthony’s Hospital in Michigan City and later transported to South Bend Memorial Hospital with life threatening injuries. Indiana State Police say preliminary indications are Knies tested positive for alcohol (.28 B.A.C %) and also metabolic of tetrahydrocannibinol (THC). [Photo/Indiana State Police] ...

Read more: Westville Man Seriously Injured in Crash

 

Region Invited To Camp LRCA Harvest Festival

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The Lake Region Christian Assembly Camp is known for providing support and services to many in the Region. However, this weekend they are looking for the community's help in honoring a very special man Mike Mauger. To find out how you can help with the Harvest Festival Saturday, check out Annie Fox's interview with Camp General Manager Cherish Edwards at Audio On Demand here on our website....

Read more: Region Invited To Camp LRCA Harvest Festival

 

Gary Man Killed in Portage Crash

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In Portage, police say it's unknown what caused a crash that killed a 24-year-old Gary man. Officers responded to a single-vehicle crash on Route 12 at the US Steel bridge just after 7am Wednesday. Portage Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Keith Hughes says the passenger vehicle involved was traveling east on US 12 and crashed into the west side concrete wall that supports the bridge. Police say the vehicle was occupied by one man, whose identity has not been released. Police say he was airlifted to a Chicago-area hospital where he died. Icy roads made travel difficult around the Region Wednesday morning, but Portage Police say that did not appear to be a factor in this crash. ...

Read more: Gary Man Killed in Portage Crash

 

Gregg Not Running for Governor Again in 2016

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Democrat John Gregg has announced he will not make a second run for Indiana governor in 2016. Gregg, a former speaker of the Indiana House, was the democratic nominee for governor in last year's election. Gregg, who's been attending Democratic party events around Indiana this year, says he had planned on running for governor again in three years, but issued a statement this week saying he is no longer actively seeking the nomination....

Read more: Gregg Not Running for Governor Again in 2016

 

Plow Trucks Make Their First Appearance

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The Indiana Department of Transportation is reporting plow trucks out for the first time this season in the Michigan City-La Porte area, where snow has been falling this morning. The National Weather Service say slushy lake effect snow showers continue over La Porte County... and up to an inch of slushy wet accumulation is possible where these snow bands persist.   Forecasters say some major roads that will be impacted include the Indiana Toll Road, Interstate 94, and US Routes 12, 20 and 31....

Read more: Plow Trucks Make Their First Appearance

 

Franciscan Alliance Announces 275 Job Cuts

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Franciscan Alliance Wednesday announced it is cutting 275 jobs at its eleven Indiana hospitals and health care facilities. The Mishawaka-based company operates five hospitals in the Region -- Franciscan St. Margaret Health in Hammond and Dyer, Franciscan St. Anthony Health in Crown Point and Michigan City, and Franciscan Healthcare in Munster. The cuts made included administrative, management, supervisory, clinical and nonclinical. A Franciscan news release cited substantive changes in the field, including health care reform laws and shifts from inpatient to outpatient care. [Photo/Franciscan Alliance, Franciscan St. Margaret Health Dyer]
News Release:
MISHAWAKA, Ind. – Franciscan Alliance announced today that the health system is responding to the transformative shift in hospital economics with system-wide staff reductions.

The reductions will affect its 11 hospitals and health facilities in Indiana. 275 employees or 1.4% of the workforce will be laid off as a result of the reduction.  Franciscan Alliance has approximately 20,000 employees.
The healthcare industry is changing rapidly and economic pressures are forcing substantive changes in the field, including reduced reimbursements, new payer models, healthcare reform laws and shifts from inpatient to outpatient care. 
“Franciscan Alliance has not been immune to such pressures and has found it necessary to align staffing levels to reflect lower patient volumes and reduced industry wide reimbursements brought on by reforms associated with the Affordable Care Act,” said Kevin Leahy, Franciscan Alliance president and chief executive officer.
Like other health systems, Franciscan Alliance must cut its costs of care delivery over the next 3 years by 15-20% ($375,000,000-$500,000,000) to remain viable. Last month, our South Suburban Chicago Region eliminated 125 positions. Today, our other operating divisions will notify 275 co-workers that they will be laid-off from their positions. In addition, another 650 full-time equivalent positions will be eliminated by cutting back on assigned hours, closing open positions, retirements and through attrition. The remaining 19,000 employees will see cutbacks in benefits in 2014. These cutbacks include the elimination of the 1.5% employer match to the 403b retirement savings program, elimination of the PTO buy-back program, higher employee contributions for healthcare insurance, no salary increases for management, and a new defined benefit/defined contribution pension for all co-workers not vested by 1/1/2014 in the defined benefit pension plan. The cost savings from these, and other recent pay practice changes, will help preserve hundreds of other jobs which otherwise would have to be eliminated.
“Recent trends and the new law are challenging healthcare providers to manage the continuum of care for patients more efficiently and effectively to ensure the same quality outcomes at reduced reimbursement levels,” Leahy said.  “Our challenge is to staff our campuses in line with the reduced inpatient volumes that are a byproduct of recent healthcare trends and the new law,” he added.
The staff reductions are among several initiatives Franciscan Alliance has undertaken, such as streamlining patient flow processes and coordinating care across the system to deliver quality outcomes and improve patient satisfaction. Ongoing non-labor cost efficiencies continue to be researched, identified, implemented and monitored throughout the system as well.
Regarding the impact on employees affected by the reduction in workforce, Leahy emphasized, “We are profoundly aware of the impact our decisions have on the lives of our co-workers and their families. Consistent with our Franciscan Values, we will make every effort to support all Franciscan team members through these difficult changes. Those whose jobs will be affected by the workforce reduction will be provided with severance, extended health insurance where eligible, and outplacement assistance,” he said.
He added that for more than 138 years, the mission of Franciscan Alliance has remained steadfast and constant. “Whatever measures we take will not compromise our goal to provide patients the high-quality, compassionate care they expect and deserve.” ...

Read more: Franciscan Alliance Announces 275 Job Cuts

   

Court Upholds Former County Clerk Conviction

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The US Court of Appeals has upheld the public corruption conviction of former Lake County Clerk and former Lake County Coroner Thomas Philpot. The 56-year-old Philpot from Highland was found guilty of federal charges related to paying himself more than 24-thousand dollars in bonuses from federal child support incentive funds while he was county clerk. Philpot is serving an 18-month prison sentence in Michigan and is scheduled for release in July. ...

Read more: Court Upholds Former County Clerk Conviction

   

Region Native Elected Chief Judge Ind Ct of Appeals

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vaidik
A native of northwest Indiana has been elected chief judge of the 15-member Indiana Court of Appeals. Judge Nancy Vaidik, a former Porter Superior Court judge, was appointed in 2000 to the Court of Appeals by then Governor Frank O'Bannon, then retained by election in 2002 and 2012. Judge Vaidik, originally from Portage, will begin her three-year term as chief judge January first.  Vaidik is a sixth-generation Hoosier. She graduated with high distinction from Valparaiso University in 1977, with a double major in political science and psychology, and then studied at Valparaiso University Law School, where she earned her Juris Doctor in 1980....

Read more: Region Native Elected Chief Judge Ind Ct of Appeals

   

Board Member Seeks Dismissal of Lawsuit

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A northwest Indiana member of the State Board of Education says his attorney is asking the court to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the board by Indiana State School Superintendent Glenda Ritz. Tony Walker of Gary is one of ten members on the board. Ritz is alleging they held an illegal meeting by drafting and sending a letter circulated by email requesting a legislative agency calculate school grades instead of her department, claiming that violated the state's Open Door Law. Meanwhile, a spokesman for Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says Zoeller is hoping his office can serve a role in resolving the conflict outside of court.  A spokesperson for Governor Mike Pence says the “governor is confident all relevant Indiana laws were followed”....

Read more: Board Member Seeks Dismissal of Lawsuit

   

Teacher Accused of Taking Students to Strip Club Fired

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In Cedar Lake, Hanover Community school officials have fired a 31-year-old Hanover Central High School chemistry teacher who is charged with three misdemeanor counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor after being accused of  taking students to a strip club and allegedly providing alcoholic beverages at his home. Published reports says Travis Lechien of Crown Point has taught in the Hanover Community School district for a decade and had been suspended with pay since September 10th. An attorney for the teacher was quoted as saying their intention is to enter a plea of not guilty. An initial court hearing in Lake County is scheduled for November 19th....

Read more: Teacher Accused of Taking Students to Strip Club Fired

   

219: Coast To Coast Bully Walk

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"Bully" a term not only used to describe human behavior, but to categorize dogs. Breeds like Bulldogs, Rottweilers, Dobermans, and especially Pitbulls are often stigmatized as dangerous or agressive and put in the "Bully" category. The Annual Coast to Coast Bully Walk is an all-breed national walk held to fight for the rights of families and their dogs who are sterotyped as bullies. 

Listen to today's 219 or Audio On Demand here on our website for information on The Porter County Animal Shelter's local Bully Walk.  You can take part this weekend and help end the negative sterotypes associated with these loveable pets....

Read more: 219: Coast To Coast Bully Walk

   

INDOT Looking to Hire Seasonal Help at Thursday Job Fair

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The Indiana Department of Transportation is looking to hire Seasonal Winter Program Workers at a job fair to be held today in Rensselaer. According to INDOT, successful hires will work as seasonal INDOT maintenance crew staff, and as plow drivers during snow events this winter. 

Officials are looking to ad positions based out of Rensselaer, Winamac and Monticello.  Applicants must possess a vallid CDL, High School Diploma or equivalent and the ability to pass a drug test successfully.  The job fair is from 10am to 2p.m. CDT at INDOT's Rensselaer Subdistrict located at 1130 E. Maple in Rensselaer.  According to INDOT, priority at the job fair will be given to those who apply online in advance.
For more information like INDOT Northwest at www.Facebook.com/INDOTNorthwest and follow INDOT on Twitter at: www.Twitter.com/INDOTNorthwest
Or contact the La Porte dISTRICT TOLL FREE AT 1-855-GO-INDOT....

Read more: INDOT Looking to Hire Seasonal Help at Thursday Job Fair

   

Region Town Seeks Board and Commission Applicants

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The Town of Cedar Lake is actively seeking residents to apply for vacancies on several Boards and Commissions. In a press release, applicants are being sought to fill five vacancies on the Redevelopment Commission, one vacancy on the Plan Commission, two positions open on the Board of Zoning Appeals, one Republican and one Democrat vacancy on the Police Commission and one Democratic slot to fill on the Storm Water Board.
  Applications can be picked up at the Cedar Lake Town Hall, located at 7408 Constitution Avenue from  8a.m.-5p.m. Monday-Friday or they can apply online at:  https://www.cedarlakein.org.
Applications must be submitted in person at the Town Hall. Proof of residency is required and political affiliation, where applicable. Deadline to apply is December 1st, 2013.
...

Read more: Region Town Seeks Board and Commission Applicants

   

Morning Fire Causes Backup on Busy Valpo Roadway

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Traffic heading westbound in Valparaiso had to find an alternate route for about an hour an-a-half Wednesday morning, due to a structure fire that closed the westbound lanes of US-30 at Linwood Avenue.   Reportedly, westbound traffic was also being diverted at Sturdy Road and not allowed to continue on. Sgt. Michael Grennes of the Valparaiso Police Department says fire crews first responded to the call around 11a.m. just west of Axe Avenue.  According to Sgt. Grennes, people working at a  vacant house were burning materials near an outbuilding when burning debris caught the building on fire which is attached to the house.  A minor injury was treated at the scene.  But no firefighters were injured, according to Grennes....

Read more: Morning Fire Causes Backup on Busy Valpo Roadway

   

Walking and More at Refurbished Valpo Walking Track

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Looking to stay fit by walking and more?  The newly refurbished walking track at Fairgrounds Park in Valparaiso might be on your list of new destinations.  If you have driven by, or walked by the south side of Fairgrounds Park on Evans Avenue you probably noticed something that seemingly sprang up overnight, adjacent to the walking track.  Welcome to the new Life Trail Advanced Wellness System. Seven stations with three panels each that are designed to kick start anyone's fitness routine. 
Thanks to an Indiana Community Block Grant awarded to the City's Elderstyle initiative led by Pines Village Retirement Communities and the Valparaiso Parks Department, the fitness equipment, which is free and open to all. So, enjoy.                                             
According to the Barbie Johnson of the Valparaiso Parks Department, an official ribbon cutting of the new  Life Trail site will take place at 11 a.m. Thursday, October 24, 2013.
(above photo:  Life Trail Advanced Wellness System stations/Valparaiso Parks Department) ...

Read more: Walking and More at Refurbished Valpo Walking Track

   

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LAURA WALUSZKO
Region News Team
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Region News Team
KARL BERNER
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