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Lake Co Bill Passes House 97-0

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A bill filled with Region issues today got out of the Indiana House on a unanimous 97-to-nothing vote. Senate Bill 585 in its current form releases Lake County from its property tax levy freeze... one the county has been under since 2007 because it has not approved a personal income tax for its residents, the only of 92 counties in the state not to do so. The measure also provides for a study on a possible second Lake Michigan port, possibly in Gary, and potential trauma hospital in Gary. It also urges a study on whether Indiana ports should pay for municipal services... like the situation with Portage, for instance, providing fire and police service to the Port of Indiana. The measure, though, now goes back to its Senate sponsor, northwest Indiana lawmaker Ed Charbonneau , and could end up in conference committee before it can land on the Governor's desk.
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Read more: Lake Co Bill Passes House 97-0

 

Moseley: Bill Protects Against 'Being Victim Twice'

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The Indiana House has passed legislation co-sponsored by Portage State Representative Chuck Moseley he says will help protect injury victims from unfair hospital costs.  Senate Bill 5—which passed through the House 65-28—limits the circumstances under which a hospital can place a lien on a patient.  “This bill protects patients who have been injured through no fault of their own, such as in a traffic accident or as a victim of a violent crime,” Moseley said. “By limiting the circumstances under which hospitals can apply liens by a small amount, we are helping those victims who are not at fault and who need to await their settlement before making payments.  “These folks have been victims once already, and it is unfair for them to be victimized again. This is a fair and balanced bill, and I’m pleased to see support from both parties on the issue,” he added.  Senate Bill 5 was authored by Sen. Brent Steele (R-Bedford) and sponsored by Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville).
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Crown Point Hearing on NIPSCO Project

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Environmental work at NIPSCO generating plants in the Region is expected to add about a-dollar to an average residential customer's monthly electric bill by 2017... according to NIPSCO testimony, as the company is asking the state to approve a 59-point-two-million dollar project to install pollution control equipment at the utility company's Bailly, Michigan City and Schahfer generating stations to reduce mercury and particulate matter emissions. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission is holding a public field hearing on the case April 22nd, at the Lake County Government Center in Crown Point.
Here are the details from the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor:
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is encouraging Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) customers to comment on the utility’s pending environmental compliance construction case.
 
Consumers may:
 
1. Speak at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) public field hearing on Monday, April 22, 2013, or
2. Send written comments to the OUCC anytime between now and the close of business on Wednesday, May 1, 2013.
 
The April 22 IURC public field hearing will be held in the Lake County Government Center Auditorium in Crown Point (2293 N. Main St.). The OUCC will conduct an informational session on the regulatory process and 5:30 p.m., local time, with the IURC accepting public comments beginning at 6:00 p.m., local time.
 
Sworn oral and written comments regarding the case will be accepted during the field hearing.
 
Oral and written consumer comments carry equal weight and will become part of the case’s official evidentiary record.
 
Commissioners are not allowed to answer questions during the field hearing. (However, OUCC and IURC staff will be available before, during and after the hearing.)
 
An OUCC informational session on the regulatory process and public field hearing procedures will begin at 5:30 p.m., local time.
 
NIPSCO is asking the IURC to approve its proposed MATS Compliance Plan, which would include the construction, installation and operation of new pollution control equipment at NIPSCO’s Bailly, Michigan City and Schahfer generating stations. The equipment would be installed on seven generating units at the three facilities, and would reduce mercury and particulate matter emissions.
 
In its testimony, the utility states that the project is necessary for compliance with federal regulations, specifically the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) rule.
 
NIPSCO is also seeking IURC approval to recover the project’s costs through rates, with rate adjustments to be made every six months. The utility currently estimates the project’s construction costs - not including financing - at approximately $59.2 million.
 
In its testimony, NIPSCO states that it expects the project to add approximately $1.07 to the monthly electric bill for an average residential customer using 688 kilowatt hours (kWh) by 2017.
 
NIPSCO provides electric utility service to approximately 457,000 customers throughout northern Indiana. The outcome of this case will only affect the utility’s electric rates, and will not affect NIPSCO’s natural gas rates and charges.
 
The OUCC – which represents consumer interests in cases before the IURC – is still evaluating this case and is scheduled to file testimony on May 7, 2013. Additional parties that have intervened in this case – including the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana (CAC) and the NIPSCO Industrial Group – are also scheduled to file testimony on May 7.
 
More information on this case is available online at www.in.gov/oucc/2740.htm.
 
Consumers who wish to submit written comments in this case may do so via the OUCC’s Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm, or by mail, email or fax:
 
Mail: Consumer Services Staff
Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
Indianapolis, IN 46204
email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
Fax: (317) 232-5923
 
Written comments the OUCC receives by May 1 will be filed with the Commission and included in the case’s formal evidentiary record. Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address, and a reference to “IURC Cause No. 44311.”
 
Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff
toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.
 
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(IURC Cause No. 44311)
 
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) represents Indiana consumer interests before state and federal bodies that regulate utilities. As a state agency, the OUCC’s mission is to represent all Indiana consumers to ensure quality, reliable utility services at the most reasonable prices possible through dedicated advocacy,
consumer education, and creative problem solving.
 
Visit us at www.IN.gov/OUCC, www.twitter.com/IndianaOUCC, or www.facebook.com/IndianaOUCC.
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Read more: Crown Point Hearing on NIPSCO Project

 

Remembering the Palm Sunday Tornado Outbreak

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double tornado WinCE
National Weather Service Chicago has this photo of the double-funnel tornadoes near Dunlap, Indiana, between Elkhart and Goshen, by Paul Huffman, Elkhart Truth, at their website
Nearly fifty years ago, Indiana was part of one of the worst tornado outbreaks to ever strike the Midwest. 48 years ago on this date, Palm Sunday, April 11, 1965, 47 tornadoes, all during the late afternoon and early evening on a balmy April day, hit parts of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio, killing 271 people and injuring over 15-hundred. A huge double-funnel tornado occurred near Dunlap, Indiana, between Goshen and Elkhart. Koontz Lake and Wanatah were also among areas in northern Indiana to be hit by tornadoes. The National Weather Service says watches had been posted and warnings were excellent, but many did not receive the warnings because they were outside.
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Man Charged in South Haven Fatality

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Porter County Sheriffs Police say an 18-year-old man has been charged in connection with an incident Saturday night that left a South Haven man dead. Authorities say Ryan Cash of Union Township has been charged with C-Felony Leaving the Scene of an Accident Resulting in Death. Prosecutors say 45-year-old Brian Hagerman went outside of his home after hearing a loud crash and glass shattering, and walked toward a suspicious vehicle that allegedly drove into him. Police say Hagerman reportedly went up onto the hood of the vehicle, then fell off, suffering critical injuries, and officers learned Wednesday that he had died at a South Bend hospital.
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Read more: Man Charged in South Haven Fatality

 

Public Hearing on 4/22 for NIPSCO Construction Project

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The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is encouraging Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) customers to comment on the utility’s pending environmental compliance construction case.
 
Consumers may:
 
1. Speak at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) public field hearing on Monday, April 22, 2013, or
2. Send written comments to the OUCC anytime between now and the close of business on Wednesday, May 1, 2013.
 
The April 22 IURC public field hearing will be held in the Lake County Government Center Auditorium in Crown Point (2293 N. Main St.). The OUCC will conduct an informational session on the regulatory process and 5:30 p.m., local time, with the IURC accepting public comments beginning at 6:00 p.m., local time.
 
  • Sworn oral and written comments regarding the case will be accepted during the field hearing.
 
  • Oral and written consumer comments carry equal weight and will become part of the case’s official evidentiary record.
 
  • Commissioners are not allowed to answer questions during the field hearing. (However, OUCC and IURC staff will be available before, during and after the hearing.)
 
An OUCC informational session on the regulatory process and public field hearing procedures will begin at 5:30 p.m., local time.
 
NIPSCO is asking the IURC to approve its proposed MATS Compliance Plan, which would include the construction, installation and operation of new pollution control equipment at NIPSCO’s Bailly, Michigan City and Schahfer generating stations. The equipment would be installed on seven generating units at the three facilities, and would reduce mercury and particulate matter emissions.
 
In its testimony, the utility states that the project is necessary for compliance with federal regulations, specifically the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) rule.
 
NIPSCO is also seeking IURC approval to recover the project’s costs through rates, with rate adjustments to be made every six months. The utility currently estimates the project’s construction costs - not including financing - at approximately $59.2 million.
 
In its testimony, NIPSCO states that it expects the project to add approximately $1.07 to the monthly electric bill for an average residential customer using 688 kilowatt hours (kWh) by 2017.
 
NIPSCO provides electric utility service to approximately 457,000 customers throughout northern Indiana. The outcome of this case will only affect the utility’s electric rates, and will not affect NIPSCO’s natural gas rates and charges.
 
The OUCC – which represents consumer interests in cases before the IURC – is still evaluating this case and is scheduled to file testimony on May 7, 2013. Additional parties that have intervened in this case – including the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana (CAC) and the NIPSCO Industrial Group – are also scheduled to file testimony on May 7.
 
More information on this case is available online at www.in.gov/oucc/2740.htm.
 
Consumers who wish to submit written comments in this case may do so via the OUCC’s Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm, or by mail, email or fax:
 
  • Mail: Consumer Services Staff
    Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
    115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
    Indianapolis, IN 46204
 
  • Fax: (317) 232-5923
 
Written comments the OUCC receives by May 1 will be filed with the Commission and included in the case’s formal evidentiary record. Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address, and a reference to “IURC Cause No. 44311.”
 
Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff
toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.
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Read more: Public Hearing on 4/22 for NIPSCO Construction Project

 

Gary Teen in Serious Condition After Hit and Run

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Gary PD
An 18 year old Gary man is in serious condition at a Chicago hospital after he was struck by an unknown older model SUV Tuesday evening while jogging. Gary Police Public Information Officer Corporal Gabrielle King says Emille Robinson was struck just before 8pm, in the 300 block of West 30th Avenue, while jogging as part of his training for the Police Athletic League. Corporal King says vehicle fled the scene and the case is being treated as a “hit and run”, and anyone with information is asked to contact the Gary Police Department, and ask for Corporal Agnes Roberts.
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Read more: Gary Teen in Serious Condition After Hit and Run

 

Alcohol Maybe Factor in Union Twp Rollover Crash

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Authorities say alcohol is believed to be a factor in a rollover crash that took place Wednesday evening in Porter County's Union Township. Chief Deputy Steve Lawrence, of the Porter County Sheriff's Office, says just before 5:30pm, a 44 year old Valparaiso man was heading south on County Road 325 West when, according to the 44 year old, a deer ran out in front of his vehicle, which he said he avoided, but caused him to hit a tree and his vehicle rolled over as a result. Lawrence says the man was taken to the hospital for non life threatening injuries, and no further information is available at this time.
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Read more: Alcohol Maybe Factor in Union Twp Rollover Crash

 

Lilly Denied Home Detention Request

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A 27-year-old Morton High School math teacher accused in federal court of asking underage female students to text sexually explicit pictures of themselves to him by cellphone, and allegedly having sex with a student, was reportedly denied a home detention request on Wednesday. Published reports say a judge denied Jon Erik Lilly, who reportedly wanted to stay at his mother's home, due to its close proximity to Lake Central High School. Lily was arrested on March 27th and according to court documents denied having sexual contact with the girl.
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Ball State Smoking Study: IN 7th Highest Rate in Nation

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A new report entitled, “the Burden of Adult Smoking in Indiana 2012” was recently released by Ball State University's Global Health Institute. According to the data, Indiana has the 7th highest smoking rate in the nation. 25-point-six percent of Hoosiers are smokers, with the highest percentage per age group being 25 to 44 year olds, at 40-percent, and more men than women are smokers. Education and income also play a big factor on who smokes, as the report says the percentage of smokers decreases as either their education or income levels increase. 97-hundred Hoosiers died and four-point-seven billion dollars was spent on annual health and other economic costs in 2010 as a result of tobacco use. For more information, visit http://cms.bsu.edu/-/media/WWW/DepartmentalContent/GlobalHealth/PDF/040413v2BurdenofSmokingIN2012.pdf
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Read more: Ball State Smoking Study: IN 7th Highest Rate in Nation

 

Senate Passes Bill to Reform Indiana's Criminal Code

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State lawmakers are attempting to reform Indiana's criminal code for the first time since the 1970's. House Bill 10-06 passed the Senate Wednesday, and would change the four classes of felonies into six and change the credit timed-served system, requiring offenders to serve at least 75-percent of their sentence instead of the current 50-percent, with serious offenders required to serve at least 85-percent of their sentence. Those convicted of non-violent property crimes would serve less time under the proposed legislation, and face lower levels of felony or misdemeanor charges. The bill now heads back to the House for final legislative action, and if enacted would begin July 1st, 2014. For a link to view the bill's sentencing reform proportionality chart, visit http://www.in.gov/legislative/senate_republicans/images/photogallery/Steele/Different%20format%20HB%201006%20Proportionality%20Chart.pdf
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House Approves Higher Education Transparency Bill

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A Senate bill to increase transparency in higher education passed the Indiana House on Wednesday. Senate Bill 180 would require each state education institution to prepare and publish a report on its grading and employment practices, including employee salaries, faculty responsibilities, and student grade point averages, as well as an analysis of each campus's administrative expenditures. State Senator Jim Banks says not enough is being done to hold these institutions accountable, which is why we see student tuition skyrocketing, excessive red tape, and questionable administrative practices. The bill now returns to the Senate for a final review.
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Read more: House Approves Higher Education Transparency Bill

   

Japanese Auto Parts Maker Expands Again in N. Indiana

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A Japanese auto parts manufacturer announced today its third expansion in Indiana in less than year, which is expected to create up to 34 new jobs in Bremen by 2015. NISCO will invest 12.7 million dollars to equip its 150-thousand square-feet facility, and will install new equipment to accommodate the company's door hole sealing finishing capabilities. The company has already begun hiring additional finishing associates, operators and engineers for the expansion, which is scheduled to be completed in July.
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Read more: Japanese Auto Parts Maker Expands Again in N. Indiana

   

Breakfast with the Mayor Program Launches Tomorrow

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A program where the Mayor of Gary has breakfast with students and answers questions they may have regarding government and the city's future officially kicks tomorrow morning at the Thea Bowman Leadership Academy. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson says, “Since we already have the ‘15 minutes with the Mayor’ program for the adults, I thought we should have a platform for students who also have questions about their city and want to get involved.” The program begins at 7am, Friday, and the Mayor will be visiting another Gary school in May, and will resume the breakfast program again in August when students return to school in August.
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Read more: Breakfast with the Mayor Program Launches Tomorrow

   

Firearms Safety to be Addressed Tonight in Schererville

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The subject of firearms and firearms safety will be addressed this evening at Schererville Town Hall. Schererville Police invite the public to attend their first quarter “Crime Watch Meeting” of 2013, at 7pm.
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Power Outage in Hobart

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A number of people are without power in the city of Hobart this evening.  The Northern Indiana Public Service Company online outage map shows nearly 1,700 customers without electricity. No word at this time on the cause.
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Authorities Investigate Fatal EC Crash

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A 32 year old Gary man died this morning after a car accident in East Chicago. The Lake County Coroner's Office reports Robert Patterson suffered blunt force trauma, after a crash early today at Chicago Avenue and Grasselli Street, where officials say his vehicle struck railroad tracks, went airborne, and hit several trees. The Lake County Coroners office says Patterson was pronounced dead shortly before 4 am at a local hospital.
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Photo Studios Suddenly Closed

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The company that ran PictureMe photo studios at Wal-Mart and Sears Portrait Studios, and Kiddie Kandids portrait studios in stores around the country has gone out of business, and Region customers may be wondering what has become of their pictures. A statement at the website for photography vendor CPI Corporation directs people to the customer service department of their local store. The company reportedly shut down their U-S photo studios a week ago.
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Illiana Mtg in Lowell Next Week

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illiana pm1 T2 header
A couple of forums are coming up on the proposed Illiana Expressway. The meetings, hosted by the Indiana and Illinois Departments of Transportation, are meant to explain the Tier Two process, where INDOT and IDOT say the focus will shift from the original broad 952 square-mile study area to the communities, landowners and access needs along the preferred corridor. The open houses will look at refining the preferred corridor, looking at interchange locations and layout, determining overpass and underpass opportunities, environmental analysis and continued outreach.
The meetings will be an open house format, and interested persons may attend anytime between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. There will be a continuous PowerPoint presentation, and attendees will have the opportunity to view study exhibits and speak with IDOT, INDOT and study team representatives on a one-on-one basis. A question and answer forum will be held at 6:00 p.m. each day.
TIER TWO Public Meetings:
IINDIANA
Thursday, April 18, 2013
5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Lowell Middle School
19250 Cline Avenue
Lowell, IN 46356
ILLINOIS
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Peotone High School
605 West North Street
Peotone, IL 60468
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Saturday Mail Delivery Staying

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Region residents -- Saturday mail delivery isn't ending just yet. The U-S Postal Service Board of Governors said today (Wednesday) it is delaying its plans to stop Saturday service - because Congress won't allow the change. Postal Service Spokesperson Dave Partenheimer says employees are disappointed. "The board believes that Congress has left us with no choice but to delay the implementation at this time, but the board wants to ensure that our customers of the Postal Service are not unduly burdened by ongoing uncertainties as to whether we'll be able to move forward with the new delivery schedule or not," Partenheimer said. The Postal Service had recommended cutting Saturday delivery starting this August to save two billion dollars a year.
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Read more: Saturday Mail Delivery Staying

   

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