219: Lake Hills Haunted House

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Halloween is right around the corner and what better way to celebrate than by checking out a Haunted House in the Region! We spoke with Mike Forbes, House Manager at Lake Hills Haunted House about what makes his haunted house stand out. Check out the full interview in today's 219 On Demand....

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Carbon Monoxide Suspected in Family's Death

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Two adults and two children in Merrillville have been found dead, the apparent victims of carbon monoxide poisoning, according to local officials.   The Lake County Coroners office says 41-year-old Micheal Nichols, 38-year-old Kennetha Purnell, 13-year-old Matthew Nichols and 11-year-old Morgan Nichols were pronounced dead shortly after 7-o'clock Wednesday night inside a home in the 800 block of West 70th Avenue. The cause of death for all four was pending as of late Wednesday night, according to the coroners office.
Merrillville Police Detective Commander Jeff Rice says police responded to a home at about 5:30 Wednesday evening to conduct a welfare check, and found four people dead. Through the investigation, officers say they determined that the family was moving into the home and did not have the power turned on.  A gas generator was located in the attached garage with power cords connected to various electronics in the home, police say.  Detective Commander Rice says all exterior doors and windows were closed....

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Portage PD Seeking Help with Unsolved Homicides

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The Portage Police Department is seeking the public's assistance regarding three unsolved homicide cases.
The first case involves Bradley Bothwell, a 47 year white male found deceased in a field behind Walgreens on U-S 6 and Willowcreek Road on August 29th, 2006, who was last seen at Walmart in the days leading up to his death.
The second case concerns Jeremiah Higgins, who was shot to death at his Canden Avenue apartment on May 15th, 2009, by a male suspect described as a dark skinned black man in his late teens or early twenties, with an athletic build, six-foot to six-foot-three inches tall. A female suspect is described as possibly Hispanic or a light skinned black woman, five-foot-five to five-foot-seven inches tall, with long black hair. Higgins was shot by the suspect who kept asking for someone named “Tommy” and wanted to know where “the money” was.   To view a video account of the Higgins case, click ">
The third case took place on December 10th, 2012, where 38 year old Wilson Rivera was shot to death near his vehicle, which was parked just north of the railroad tracks in the 21-hundred block of Crisman Road, at approximately 5:30pm.
Anyone with information regarding these three unsolved homicides is asked to contact Portage Police Detective Captain Joe Reynolds at (219) 764-5704 and all callers can remain anonymous....

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Lake Co Commissioners Double Funds for Cover Crops

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Farmers in Lake County will get twice as much money from Lake County officials to reduce soil erosion and fertilizer runoff. Meeting as the county drainage board, Lake County Commissioners today pledged eight-thousand dollars to cover about 400 acres with cover crops. The money will be doled out on a first-come, first-serve basis. ...

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Shade Brigade Plants Over 80 Trees in Valpo

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Two tree planting events were recently held in Valparaiso where over 80 trees were planted. Ann Brugos, Coordinator for Shade Brigade of Valparaiso, says 20 different variety of trees that are, for the most part, native to northwest Indiana were planted at Jessee-Pifer and at Keystone Commons, which were both chosen due to strong neighborhood support. Brugos says Keystone Commons was also chosen due to the devastation done by the emerald ash borer to the ash trees there. To hear more of our interview, click and to learn more about trees visit

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Portage Parks Dept Reports Missing Money Bag

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Portage Police are investigating a report of a money bag containing an undisclosed amount of cash being missing from the Portage Parks Department Woodland Park office. Police report the Parks Superintendent reported the incident on Tuesday and stated the bag had been stolen sometime between Sunday and Monday. The Parks Superintendent informed officers the bar tender dropped off the money bag through a door slot in a secure room, which was witnessed by another employee early Sunday morning. On Monday, another employee, who was suppose to deliver the money bag to the accounting office, informed her the bag was missing, but the Parks Superintendent told officers her story changed slightly, from the bag was not there to she picked it up and put it on her desk, then to being unsure if she had even seen it. The Parks Superintendent says only herself and the employee whose story changed have keys to the office where the money is kept and there were no signs of forced entry to the room....

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Strack and Van Til Delivers Generosity to Health Clinics

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(Photos Courtesy of Franciscan Alliance)
Franciscan Alliance today announced Strack and Van Til food market delivered generosity to two of their health clinics. The donations of five-thousand dollars each were presented to Catherine McAuley Clinic and to St. Clare Health clinic to serve their uninsured and working-poor clients. The donations come from proceeds received from Strack and Van Til's second annual charity golf outing. The two health clinics were selected as part of the 37 store food giant's efforts to support agencies that provide community services to the less fortunate.
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Daniels Presents Model for University Growrth

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Purdue University President and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was in Hammond today to address the October general membership luncheon of the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. With college enrollment down in 2012—for the first time since 1999—and tuition costs up, Daniels stressed the importance of adapting to marketplace demand, knowledge he said he gained in part from his time as governor.
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Sighting increased college tuition costs and competition from more economic-friendly, online colleges, Daniels's “Purdue Moves” plan aims to address those problems through initiatives such as improving education in science, technology, science and math, world-changing research (such as advancing Purdue's plant-science research and new drug discovery), increasing overseas study opportunities and gearing Purdue toward becoming a year-round university.
Other parts of the initiative include a tuition-cost freeze and other cost controlling measures in order to make Purdue a better overall value to students. After his presentation, Daniels remained to answer questions from those in attendance.
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Cline Ave Ramps to WB I-80/94 Closed this Weekend

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Starting Friday evening, both the south and northbound Cline Avenue ramps to westbound I-80/94 will be closed. INDOT reports crews will be repaving sections of the ramp as part of a larger project involving I-80/94, between Cline Avenue and the Illinois state line. Work will continue through Monday morning. Drivers wishing to travel from Cline Avenue to westbound I-80/94 will be detoured east on I-80/94 to the northbound Broadway exit, then back on I-80/94 westbound....

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Knox Man Faces More Sexual Misconduct Charges

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(Photo Courtesy of the Indiana State Police Lowell Post)
A 36 year old Knox man currently incarcerated at the LaPorte County Jail is facing additional sexual misconduct with a minor charges. Keith Thatcher was arrested on September 3rd after an Indiana State Police investigation revealed sexual misconduct involving a 15 year old girl that had been taking place since July of 2012. Authorities report Thatcher was a family acquaintance at the time of the alleged incident, which occurred in Michigan City. State Police say the family moved to Pulaski County in September of 2012, when Thatcher allegedly began molesting and had sexual misconduct with the victim's 8 year old sister, which continued until July of this year. Thatcher was served a warrant today by the Pulaski County Prosecutor's Office for one-count of felony child molestation and for one-count of sexual misconduct with a minor and he will eventually be extradited to Pulaski County. ...

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Suspect On the Lamb After Robbery in Dyer

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Police in Dyer at last check were still seeking a suspect who allegedly robbed a gas station early Tuesday in the five-hundred block of Joliet Street. Police report the suspect pulled out a large knife and demanded money, and then fled on foot. An officer reportedly tried to stop a vehicle leaving the crime scene, but after a chase the suspect vehicle crashed near 215th Street and Sheffield Avenue and the suspect escaped. A physical description of the suspect has not yet been made available but authorities say the person in question is known to them and charges could be filed as soon as tomorrow....

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Region Aviation Affected by Shutdown

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Ed Bolen, President/CEO, National Business Aviation Association
Airports in the Region... like Gary/Chicago International... may be feeling the effects of the federal government shutdown in ways that aren't highly visible, more under the radar, so to speak. Ed Bolen, President and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association, told the Region News Team today that a number of operators in and around northwest Indiana are affected. "We've heard from B. Coleman Aviation, which is a start-up company," and they're just at a standstill, Bolen said.  He says if "you just look at general aviation airports in a 25-mile radius of Gary," that represents over a 200-million dollar a year economic impact.  Bolen says the annual economic impact of aviation in Indiana is over six-billion dollars.The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Aircraft Registry has been closed during the shutdown, halting the sale and purchase of aircraft in the US and preventing the renewal of aircraft registrations since the beginning of the month. The association says the shutdown has effectively grounded the general aviation industry, severely jeopardizing countless jobs, and America’s economy and infrastructure, noting many entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes rely on the airplanes for business flights, as do communities, for critical services including medical transport, mail delivery and firefighting.
To hear our interview with Ed Bolen, visit News Audio on Demand here at our website....

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IUN PD Lieutenant Named Chief at IU Kokomo

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Lt. Wayne James recently visited the Region News Team studios, along with IU Northwest Police Chief Patricia Nowak, for a Region Newsmakers interview that can be heard here at our website.
Indiana University Director of Public Safety Jerry Minger and Susan Sciame-Giesecke, interim chancellor of IU Kokomo, have announced the appointment of Wayne James as campus police chief. He began serving in his position Oct. 1.
James, 33, most recently served as operations lieutenant for the IU Police Department Northwest in Gary, Ind. He began as a patrol officer there in 2009.  James was also an officer in the New Chicago Police Department in Indiana from 2003 to 2010, rising from patrol officer to the rank of detective sergeant. In 2009, he was commended for his work on a drug-related incident in which he arrested six suspects. In 2011, while serving as sergeant for the IU Police Department Northwest, he received a medal of valor or his actions during an off-campus incident that helped save a man’s life and secure a suspected shooter.
As police chief at IU Kokomo, he will provide leadership, direction and oversight for all campus law enforcement functions.
“We are extremely pleased to welcome Wayne to his new role as police chief at Indiana University’s Kokomo campus,” Minger said. “His record of outstanding service, leadership skills and constant willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty make him an excellent choice to oversee police services and the safety of the IU Kokomo community.”
“Wayne brings a wealth of expertise in public safety and management to our campus,” Sciame-Giesecke said. “I look forward to working with him to continue providing a safe environment where our students, faculty and staff can learn and work.”
James said he is looking forward to being part of the IU Kokomo community and implementing a “Coffee with a Cop” program.
“I like the small-campus atmosphere,” he said. “I’m going to make sure to be available to work with all the students, faculty and staff. I’m a people person, and I look forward to developing a strategic plan and vision for our police department.”
James graduated from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy and is currently earning a bachelor’s degree in public safety management. He plans to move to Kokomo with his daughter.  [Photo/Indiana University]...

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Roof Repairs Continue at Gary Metro Center

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Gary Public Transit is reminding passengers that boarding and bus circulation detours and roof work continue at the Adam Benjamin Metro Center. Federal and city funds are going toward fixing the roof at the downtown transportation center at 4th and Broadway, which is also a main stop for the South Shore train. Gary Public Transportation Corporation is housed at the commuter station.  [Photo/Gary Public Transit]...

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Expressway Delays Heading Into Illinois

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Long delays heading into Illinois via 80/94 due to Tri-State Tollway accident near the quarry.  INDOT cam is showing backups near Calumet Avenue in Hammond....

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Valpo Looking to Spruce up Two Rail Overpasses

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Valparaiso is hoping to improve the look of two railroad overpasses along US 30 on the east end of the city. Redevelopment Commission Executive Director Stu Summers says the city has an overall plan that partners with the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to improve the safety and appearance of the US 30 corridor.  "About 50,000 cars a day pass through Valparaiso on US 30, " Summers said.  Summers says there are still some hurdles to overcome, including getting permission from the rail companies, finding out what material would adhere to the old steel and concrete, and then, what would be put up there, be it art, or a fresh coat of color. ...

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Indiana BMV Commissioner Stepping Down in December

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The Commissioner of Indiana's Bureau of Motor Vehicles is stepping down effective the beginning of December.  R. Scott Waddell says he is honored to have served Governor Mike Pence and his predecessor, former Governor Mitch Daniels, saying the accomplishments of the state's BMV have "raised the bar for bureaus throughout North America". Waddell, a native of Indianapolis, was appointed Commissioner in October 2010 and was reappointed by then Governor-Elect Mike Pence in December 2012. Waddell originally joined the BMV as Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Staff in March 2009.  [Photo/Indiana BMV]
More from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles: Indianapolis, Ind. -- On Tuesday, October 15, 2013, Commissioner of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) R. Scott Waddell announced that he will be stepping down as Commissioner effective the beginning of December:
"I am honored to have served Governors Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence as Commissioner of the BMV. Just as important, it has been my privilege to play a role in the 'Best in the Country' successes achieved by the dedicated and hard-working associates of the Indiana BMV. The accomplishments of our customer oriented agency have raised the bar for bureaus throughout North America.
During my time at the BMV we have continued to drive improvements in operational efficiencies and customer service with initiatives such as just-in-time license plate procurement and a more responsive center for phone inquiries. We have also implemented new branch visit time monitoring technology and touch-screen computers for knowledge testing.
Additionally, I have overseen the upgrade of the website including transaction based smart phone apps. The BMV is now seeing almost 50% of all transactions completed outside of a license branch resulting in overall branch visit times of less than 15 minutes. The groundwork has also been established that should keep Indiana's BMV at the forefront of motor vehicle agencies for years to come.
However, as with all things, my time is nearing an end with the BMV. Effective December 2, 2013, I voluntarily submit my resignation to Governor Pence. It has been an honor to help lead the BMV from Good to Great!"...

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Justices Agree to Hear Indiana Lawsuit

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Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller says he's pleased the nation's highest court will take a look at the EPA's power to regulate greenhouse gases. Indiana was among several states asking the US Supreme Court to decide whether the Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. Justices will decide whether the EPA was justified in setting up new permit requirements under the Clean Air Act for stationary sources of pollution, like factories, refineries and power plants.


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New Indiana Lawmaker Takes Office

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Indiana's newest state lawmaker was sworn in Tuesday. 31-year-old Casey Cox, an attorney from Fort Wayne, was chosen earlier this month to fill the seat of a longtime Republican state representative in northeast Indiana. Cox succeeds Phyllis Pond, who died at the age of 82 last month after serving 35 years in the Indiana House. Pond was the longest-serving female state representative in Indiana history. [Photo/Indiana House of Representatives]...

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Fire at Lake Station Convenience Store

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Officials in Lake Station are trying to determine the cause of a weekend fire that destroyed a landmark store that has sold Puerto Rican foods and takeout meals for decades. Authorities say crews responded to J & A Foods on East 27th Avenue early Sunday. The building was described as a total loss. ...

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