Make Appointments Now to View Merrillville Flood Maps

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The Merrillville Stormwater Utility is inviting property owners and potiential businesses to view the final draft of the Stormwater Utility Master Plan Inundation Maps. The maps contain flooding information on areas inundated after rain events, identify locations that require future attention and show flood storage areas that can be used for future detention. To view the map, you must schedule an appointment, by contacting the Merrillville Stormwater Utility, where you can then provide input and make suggestions. Appointments can be scheduled now through the next 30 days....

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NIPSCO Charity Ride for the Red Cross

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Over 30 NIPSCO employees, family members and friends will take part in a 165 mile charity mototcycle ride tomorrow to benefit the American Red Cross. The Red Cross is NIPSCO's 2013 charity of choice and the goal is to raise 100-thousand dollars, in addition to volunteering, blood donations and participating in emergency preparedness training. The race begins at their Merrillville headquarters at 8:45am and from there they will travel to Valparaiso, and on to Plymouth and LaPorte before returning to Merrillville by 3pm. ...

Read more: NIPSCO Charity Ride for the Red Cross


Lightning Causes Football Game to Change Venues

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A game between two of the region's undefeated high school football teams has had a change of venue. The game, between Andrean and Hobart, was originally scheduled to be held at Father Eckert field at Andrean High School. The game will now be played at Hobart High School at 7 pm tonight. A story in the Times says lightning from a passing thunderstorm struck one of the light towers at Father Eckert Field which knocked out the lighting to the whole stadium....

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Wheatfield's Sandhill Crane Festival and Car Show

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Wheatfield's Sandhill Crane Festival and Car Show is event named after the large, well-known birds who make their way through the Region... specifically the Jasper-Pulaski Fish and Wildlife Area... in very large numbers... during their fall migration.
The Indiana DNR says more than ten-thousand sandhill cranes stop during fall migration, for the next few months, generally starting in late September....

Read more: Wheatfield's Sandhill Crane Festival and Car Show


Former Teacher Files Lawsuit Against Hammond Schools

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A former Morton High School teacher and basketball coach has filed a lawsuit against School City of Hammond. According to the lawsuit, which was filed Thursday in U-S District Court in Hammond, Benjamin Chinn claims he was improperly fired. Chinn had been accused of sexual misconduct with a student, but was found not guilty this summer. Chinn, who now resides in Indianapolis, had been suspended without pay and moved to Arizona, and claims the board mailed an August notice that his contract would not be renewed to an address where they knew he no longer lived, when they indeed knew where he lived and had even sent mail to the right address. Chinn also claims he was informed he would receive back pay if found not guilty, but has yet to see any money, and that the district's actions have now made it hard to find another job. ...

Read more: Former Teacher Files Lawsuit Against Hammond Schools


Valparaiso University Gets Solar Research Grant

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Valparaiso University is getting a two-point-three million dollar U-S Department of Energy grant to fund cutting-edge solar research.  First District Congressman Pete Visclosky says the funds will assist College of Engineering faculty and students in developing a unique electrochemical cell that produces magnesium using solar-thermal energy, which could potentially reduce carbon dioxide emissions and electricity consumption associated with current metals manufacturing.  
“I am proud of Valparaiso University for being at the forefront of innovation in energy research,” Congressman Visclosky said. “It is my hope that their advancements in cutting-edge solar technologies will promote the use of American renewable energy for generations to come.”  
“With this funding from the Department of Energy, Valpo faculty and students will push forward the energy science frontier by exploring new methods for using solar energy,” Valparaiso University President Mark A. Heckler, Ph.D., said. “The research conducted at the James S. Markiewicz Solar Energy Research Facility will provide new, more efficient energy sources for creating commodities, positively impacting both the local and the national economies.”
For more information on ARPA-E and its innovative project portfolio, please visit

Read more: Valparaiso University Gets Solar Research Grant


Indiana Jobless Rate Drops in August

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The Indiana Department of Workforce Development says Indiana's unemployment rate for August dropped to eight-point-one-percent, from eight-point-four in July, the largest one-month decrease since January 2011.   The state added over six-thousand jobs in manufacturing, private education and health services, but the private sector as a whole decreased by 29-hundred jobs as losses in the trade, transportation and utilities, and construction sectors offset gains.
"The significant decrease in Indiana's unemployment rate in August is definitely encouraging, but the fact is too many Hoosiers are still unemployed," said Scott B. Sanders, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. "This underscores the need to bring unemployed individuals into WorkOne following their fourth week of receiving benefits. It is vital we get folks on the path to reemployment as soon as possible."
Sanders also noted initial claims for unemployment insurance this year are still at their lowest levels since 2000.
Employment by Sector
Sectors showing gains in August include: Manufacturing (3,000), Private Educational & Health Services (3,000), and Financial Activities (900). The Trade, Transportation & Utilities (-4,900), Construction (-1,900), Professional and Business Services (-1,800), and Leisure and Hospitality (-300) sectors showed declines. Total non-farm employment increased in August (6,500).
NOTE: Private sector jobs were revised downward (-4,200) for July by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The September 2013 Employment Report will be released on Tuesday, October 22, 2013....

Read more: Indiana Jobless Rate Drops in August


Three Escape Early Morning House Fire in Portage

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Fire officials say a family of three in Portage was very fortunate to have escaped a house fire in the 28-hundred block of Oakwood around 5:30 this morning.  Portage Assistant Fire Chief Joe Calhoun says it was determined there were no working smoke detectors inside the house - family members, he says, awoke to the smell of smoke. "They went to the front of the house and found some very heavy fire in the front area of the house and were able to escape safely, however upon our investigation we did find that there were no working smoke detectors in the home," Calhoun said. "It's fortunate they were able to make it out and weren't overcome by the smoke in their sleep." There were no injuries reported. The cause is not yet known.  South Haven fire assisted at the scene....

Read more: Three Escape Early Morning House Fire in Portage


Forum President Leaving to Join Trade Association

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The President and Chief Executive Officer of the Northwest Indiana Forum is leaving to become vice president of the Indiana Energy Association out of Indianapolis. Mark Maassel  has been at the helm of the forum for the past three years. Maassel, returning to the utility sector, is a former president of NIPSCO.  
Carey Lykins, President and CEO of Citizens Energy Group and Chairman of the Indiana Energy Association (IEA) Board of Directors, has announced the selection of Maassel to assume the position of Vice President of the energy trade association on October 16, 2013. The association’s Board of Directors selected Maassel in its September 12 meeting following a year-long search to fill the position.
Maassel has served as President and CEO of the regional business membership organization, Northwest Indiana Forum, for the last three years. Prior to that, Maassel held the title of President of Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) from October 2004 to January 2008 and in that capacity served as a member of the board of the association. Prior to serving as President, Maassel held various senior level positions with NIPSCO. In addition to his work with the Forum and NIPSCO, he served as Of Counsel for the law firm of Krieg DeVault.

IEA President Ed Simcox said that “Mark is ideally suited to help lead the public policy efforts of the association. Mark not only has executive experience with a large utility, but he also brings the perspective of a civil engineer and lawyer to the complex issues facing the energy industry.”
Maassel earned a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota and holds a Juris Doctorate with High Honors from Chicago-Kent College of Law. He is licensed to practice law in both Indiana and Illinois. He and his wife, Chris, live in Valparaiso.
His prior leadership roles in the energy industry include membership on the Gas Technology Institute Board of Directors, Edison Electric Institute Board of Directors and participation on various American Gas Association committees.
Among his many civic endeavors in northwest Indiana, he has served as the Chair of the 2008 United Way of Porter County Campaign, Chair of the Porter County Community Foundation, Chair of Ivy Tech Foundation, President of the Crisis Center Board of Directors, Board Member of the Calumet College of St. Joseph and Board President of the Valparaiso Community Schools Board of Education. He was also selected for the inaugural class of the Northwest Indiana Business Hall of Fame in 2008 and received a Sagamore of the Wabash award from Governor Mitch Daniels.
Lykins praised Maassel for his years of effective service within the energy industry. “Mark is extremely knowledgeable of all of the issues affecting the utility industry today,” said Lykins. “He will be called upon to work with Ed Simcox and the member companies to navigate the rapidly changing world of energy delivery.”
The Indiana Energy Association is a trade association that represents Indiana’s investor-owned electric utilities and local distribution gas companies before the Indiana General Assembly, state administrative agencies, and works with other allied and constituent groups that address policy issues affecting the electric and gas utility industries in the State of Indiana.  [Photo/provided]...

Read more: Forum President Leaving to Join Trade Association


Sunset Hill Site for New Animal Shelter Dropped

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Where to build a new Porter County animal shelter has been a major topic of discussion among local officials, and the latest update is county commissioners are no longer seeking to build the facility on a recently proposed site using park foundation land at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.  That information came out at Thursdays' parks foundation meeting. A site near State Roads 130 and 149 is among those still being considered a possibility.
Opponents to the Sunset Hill suggestion have said the land would have to be taken out of a federal conservation program, which could mean the loss of some funds, and the old county home across from the current shelter has also been suggested as an alternative.
At a Porter County Park Board meeting earlier this month, County Commissioners John Evans and Laura Blaney put forth a proposal to build the facility on three to five acres of Sunset Hill Farm County Park.  At that meeting, they also told the panel an anonymous donor has pledged one-million dollars toward a new animal shelter, and Blaney told our Steve Zana the donation was not predicated on a new shelter being built at the park.
The current shelter on State Road 2 south of US 30 has been described as old, outdated and overcrowded....

Read more: Sunset Hill Site for New Animal Shelter Dropped


Two Dead After Lightning Strikes in Gary

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In Gary, two people are dead and a baby was injured after two separate incidents involving lightning strikes.  Gary fire officials say shortly before 11:30 Thursday morning a man working on a billboard in the 47-hundred block of 27th Avenue was hit by lightning. The Lake County Coroners office say 28-year-old Angelo Santucci of Hobart sustained multiple burns and was pronounced about an hour later at an area hospital.   Within the hour the fire department was called out to to a house fire in the 11-hundred block of Jefferson Court, a fire that is believed to have started by a lightning strike.  lake County Coroners officials say a 45-year-old male identified as Jacquelyn Allen of that address was pronounced dead after suffering severe burns, and a nine-month old child was transported to a Chicago hospital.  No information was available on the child's condition....

Read more: Two Dead After Lightning Strikes in Gary


Indianapolis Officer Killed in the Line of Duty

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Officer Bradway
Officials say an Indianapolis Police officer who's originally from northern Indiana lost his life this morning, responding to a woman's screams for help, as he was fatally shot in an exchange of gunfire with a man who was later killed.  Police were called out to a disturbance at an apartment complex on the northwest side of the city overnight.  Authorities say 41-year-old officer Rod Bradway, a native of Nappanee, was a five-year veteran of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department
Police say at approximately 1:52 am (Eastern Daylight Time), officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) were dispatched to the 6700 blk. of Eagle Pointe Dr. (Eagle Point Apartments) reference a disturbance.

When the first arriving officer arrived, he heard screams for “help” from an unidentified woman who was inside an apartment. The officer fearing for the safety of this woman made entry. As the officer entered the apartment, gunshots were exchanged between the officer and the suspect and the officer was struck with gunfire. The officer was transported to Wishard Memorial Hospital in critical condition where he later died as a result of his injuries. The officer, identified as Bradway, was a highly decorated officer having just been awarded the IMPD’s Medal of Bravery. Officer Bradway leaves behind a wife and two teenage children.

"We have lost a true hero today in Officer Bradway…please keep his family and the IMPD family in your thoughts and prayers in the days and weeks that lie ahead” said IMPD Chief Rick Hite.

Investigators have not yet identified the suspect who was also fatally shot and killed in the exchange of gunfire with police. Investigators are also working to ascertain the exact circumstances of the shooting, and have detained the woman, who was not injured, for questioning. Further updates will be provided as they become available. [Photo/provided]...

Read more: Indianapolis Officer Killed in the Line of Duty


Hobart Man's Death in Gary Under Investigation

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The Lake County Coroner's Office is investigating the death of a Hobart man who suffered multiple burns in the 47-hundred block of West 27th Avenue in Gary. The Coroner's Office reports the manner of death is pending for 28 year old Angelo Santucci. No further information is available at this time. ...

Read more: Hobart Man's Death in Gary Under Investigation


Transgender Person's Death Under Investigation

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A transgender person from Gary who sustained severe burns was pronunced dead just after noon today at Methodist Northlake ER.   The Lake County Coroner's Office reports the manner of death is pending for Jacquelyn Allen, and that the incident occurred in the one-thousand block of Jefferson Street in Gary.  The Coroner's Office and the Gary Fire Department are investigating and no further information is available at last check.

Read more: Transgender Person's Death Under Investigation


Crown Point Gets Grant Money for 93rd Ave Trailhead

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The City of Crown Point announced today they received a grant from TransCanada in the amount of 35-thousand dollars to place a trailhead at 93rd Avenue and to add amenties like bike racks, benches and additional shelters. Parks Administrator Jennie Burgess says the city has two trailheads, with construction to begin shortly for the Summit Street end of the one-point-six mile trail, which is the Crown Point portion of the Erie Lackawanna Trail, and that this grant now allows them to now add more to the 93rd Avenue trailhead. Burgess says contruction on the 93rd Avenue portion could begin later next year, in conjunction with improvements to the intersection of 93rd and Main Street.
The public is invited out on Monday, September 23rd, at 10am, at the 93rd Avenue trailhead for a check presentation, which would be moved into the City Hall Council Chambers in the event the weather refuses to cooperate. ...

Read more: Crown Point Gets Grant Money for 93rd Ave Trailhead


Police Investigating the Rape of a Hammond Teen

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Authorities in Hammond and Dolton, Illinois are investigating an alleged sexual assault of a 16 year old Gavit High School girl who was reportedly abducted while walking home from school Monday afternoon in Hammond. Police report the incident occurred around 3:30pm, and the suspects drove her across the state line to a motel in Dolton, where she was raped and eventually released. At last check no charges have been filed and no one is in custody....

Read more: Police Investigating the Rape of a Hammond Teen


Many Without Power Due to Storms

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A number of northwest Indiana communities are dealing with power outages due to the storms. At last check NIPSCO's Outage Map reports over 900 customers in Gary are without power, with almost 180 in Lowell and over 40 without power in Shelby. The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Advisory is in effect for southern Newton and southwestern Jasper County until 8pm tonight. ...

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Valpo Mayor takes part in Project Lifesaver Event

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Mayor receives wristband from Sheriff Lain
In an effort to call attention to a proven national program that protects elderly parents of adult children afflicted with memory loss or some form of Dementia or Alzheimer's, Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas agreed to seek a hiding place in the City's downtown only to be found.

The event to publicize the effectiveness of Project Lifesaver, hosted by the Porter County Sheriff's Department and Triad of Porter County, is a program that, according to the Lifesaver website, "protects those who wander and brings peace of mind to families, caregivers , and Communities."

Mayor Costas, seen in the above photo receiving a Project Lifesaver wristband from Sheriff David Lain, told Region News, "I can see how difficult it can be when an (elderly) parent is struggling with dementia or Alzheimer’s and they're at risk." But the mayor who is also an Elder Law attorney says, "this program is very cost effective and it really puts the adult children at ease knowing that their parents are safer and that someone who is suffering...can be found quicker."
Mayor and Louise go off and hide
(L-R) Louise Thompson of Alzheimer's Association Greater Indiana Chapter and Mayor Costas begin their ten minutue head-start in Central Park Plaza, Thursday Sept. 19, 2013.
Time is of the essence when searching. Louise Thompson, Community Outreach Specialist for the Alzheimer's Association, Greater Indiana Chapter, who accompanied the mayor, says the program is a lifesaver, "The mortality (rate) for someone who gets lost and is gone for over an hour...doubles every hour."

Project Lifesaver was unveiled nationally over ten years ago with Porter County being one of the first counties in Indiana to obtain the system in April of 2005, according to a previous Times article. Since that time, Sheriff David Lain says there have only been twelve participants in the county, and all of the participants were found uninjured. Triad tasked County Sheriff David Lain to approach the mayor to get the word out about the program to residents of Porter County. The sheriff says with his celebrity status, Mayor Costas is the perfect figure to champion the program's cause.
Sheriff David Lain
Porter County Sheriff, David Lain at the "Where's the Mayor?" Project Lifesaver event
The sheriff says, "from the standpoint of manpower...we now have technology on our side and instead of it taking hours or even days to find somebody the average amount of time it takes to find a Project Lifesaver client is 30 minutes."
Cpt George Gonzales with tracking gear
Cpt. George Gonzalez of the Porter County Sheriff's Department leads one of two tracking units to find "lost" mayor

Police increase their odds of finding lost individuals by tracking with up to five units and using triangulation to get a fix on the missing subject's probably position. After a ten minute head-start, Captain George Gonzalez of the Sheriff's Department lead one of the two teams that found the mayor and Thompson's location in under ten minutes. The program runs very efficiently, Captain Gonzalez told Region News, "every client has a unique frequency (their radio transmitting wristband) and we program it into the receiver...we stop and scan from time to time to make sure we are headed in the right direction and eventually it will lead us right to the client."
Tracking team finds Mayor and Louise
Sharing in the success of Project Lifesaver after being found in the vicinity of the old jail are (L-R) Sheriff David Lain, Louise Thompson and Mayor Jon Costas
More information about Project Lifesaver is available at:
(photos courtesy of Jay Stevens)...

Read more: Valpo Mayor takes part in Project Lifesaver Event


Idea to Move Animal Shelter to Sunset Hill Dropped

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Porter County Commissioners report they will no longer seek to move the county animal shelter to Sunset Hill Farm County Park. The announcement was made today to find a new location during the Porter County Parks Foundation meeting, in which over 40 people turned out. The proposed site at Sunset Hill is in a federal conservation zone, and the County Parks Foundation could have possibly stood to lose funding if plans would have moved forward....

Read more: Idea to Move Animal Shelter to Sunset Hill Dropped


WX Causing Many Issues Overnight and This Morning

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Flash floods in Chicago killed one man, and left thousands without power. ABC News reports with the rain falling at nearly two inches an hour Wednesday night, a 25 year old private contractor, working on a sewer was swept away. His body was later recovered. Michael Fox, with the Chicago Fire Department, says the contractor had the camera going both ways in the sewer to see if the man could be found faster, and maybe make it a rescue instead of a recovery, but it didn't turn out. The downpour knocked out power to more than 15-thousand customers. At Chicago's airports, dozens of flights were delayed as the storms lingered through the morning.
The heavy rains overnight and into today caused water to drip from the ceiling, leaving soggy carpets in one of the courtrooms at the Lake County Government Center in Crown Point. The roof is reportedly past its prime and commissioners may declare an emergency and seek bids to fix it....

Read more: WX Causing Many Issues Overnight and This Morning


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