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Armed Robbery at Portage Gas Station

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Police are investigating an armed robbery at a Speedway gas station in the five-thousand block of Central Avenue around 3-o'clock this morning. Portage Police say a man pointing a gun ordered the attendant to put money in a bag, then was told to lie on the floor behind the counter. The suspect is described as a white male between 5-foot 10-inches and 6-foot tall, wearing all black or dark clothing including a hoodie-style sweatshirt, and a black bandanna covering his face. Anyone with information is asked to call Portage Police.
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Butler Joining Big East

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Butler University will join the Big East conference this July. The Bulldogs’ football team will remain in the Pioneer League, while other sports will begin their Big East competition in the fall. Butler just joined the Atlantic 10 last year, after leaving the Horizon League.  As a Big East member, Butler will join Creighton], DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence College, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Villanova, and Xavier University.
“Joining the Big East is an unprecedented opportunity for Butler and represents an ideal fit for us—academically, athletically, and geographically,” said President Danko.
Joining the Big East will further enhance Butler’s national visibility, which soared following the men’s basketball team’s back-to-back Final Four runs in 2010 and 2011. “Butler’s increased national prominence will create new opportunities not only for student-athletes,” stated Butler President James Danko, “but for our entire student body and for our alumni, while increasing the value of a Butler degree.”
The conference change comes a year after Butler’s move from the Horizon League to Atlantic 10 Conference. “The A-10, like the Horizon League, is an outstanding conference, and we were honored to be a member,” Danko added. “After in-depth deliberations and analyses, we determined that joining the Big East was the right thing to do for our students and our institution, regardless of the timing of past conference transitions.”
From 1946 to 1950, Butler was in the Mid-American Conference. The Bulldogs played in the Indiana Collegiate Conference from 1950 to 1978 and were independent in 1978–1979. In 1979, Butler became a charter member of the Midwestern City Conference (later renamed Midwestern Collegiate Conference and then Horizon League). Butler joined the Atlantic 10 in 2012.
The Bulldogs have made appearances in NCAA National Championship Tournaments in men’s and women’s basketball, men’s soccer, volleyball, men’s cross country, lacrosse, and baseball, and over the past decade, Butler teams have captured 29 conference championships.
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Teen Arrested in Double Homicide

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Gary Police say a 17-year-old suspect is in custody in connection with a double homicide. The Lake County Coroners office says 18-year-old Charles Wood of Gary died at a local hospital Monday afternoon after suffering a gunshot wound in the 25-hundred block of 13th Avenue in Gary Sunday. On Sunday, police say the body of 19-year-old Shaqwone Ham of Gary, whose body was found in shrubs nearby. Gary Police also say the report of a 15-year-old boy being approached by four people and robbed in the street minutes earlier within about a half-mile of the shooting remains under investigations.
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Schaap Sentencing Today

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Sentencing is scheduled in Hammond Federal Court this morning for Jack Schaap, the former leader of First Baptist Church of Hammond.  Officials say the 55-year-old ex-pastor of the megachurch is facing ten years in prison after pleading guilty last year to interstate transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. Sentencing was set for 10 am in the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Rudy Lozano.
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President Picks IU

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President Picks IU
According to the White House Blog, President Barack Obama is taking the Hoosiers to go the distance for March Madness. The President's 2013 NCAA mens basketball tourney bracket shows Ohio State, Louisville and Florida making up the rest of the Final Four. The President, who shared his picks with ESPN, predicts Michigan State will eliminate VU this Thursday, and he's got Butler winning just their first game.
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Accused Doctor Loses Lake Co Jail Job

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Published reports say a Region doctor arrested at his Valparaiso office last week on sexual misconduct and criminal deviate conduct charges has been released from his job at the Lake County Jail, where Dr. Jose Agusti worked for an outside contractor providing medical services to the facility. Police in Merrillville are reportedly reopening an investigation based on another allegation against the doctor.
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Rseidents Support Hammond Library

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Hammond residents want to save their public library, and keep it under local control. Tuesday they had the opportunity to sign up for committees that are part of an advocacy plan to help the library board access hundreds of thousands already collected in property taxes –money that's untouchable without the approval of the city council, as per a relatively new state law. There's also been legislation proposed to place Hammond's library under the jurisdiction of the Lake County Library System .
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Possible Structure Fire in Porter Co

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Unconfirmed reports of a structure fire northeast of Valparaiso this morning, reportedly on County Road 500 East. We've heard at least two departments have been called out to respond. Details as they become available.
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Hoosier Prairie Could Grow

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The Natural Resources Commission has approved a request for a public hearing on a proposed addition to the Hoosier Prairie Nature Preserve near Grffith and changes to the site’s management master plan. Hoosier Prairie is a 304-acre nature preserve in Lake County that was first dedicated in 1978. The proposal would add just over 275 acres to the preserve and amend the master plan to allow changes in how the prairie habitat is managed. These would include the ability to plant native prairie plants, if needed, and to convert former pasture into prairie and savanna habitats. In addition, several new parking lots could be added in the future
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Gary Council Supports Local Tax

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The Gary City Council is officially in favor of a local option income tax for Lake County. The council passed a resolution supporting such a tax – a tax that every county in the state has already adopted except for Lake, and because Lake hasn't adopted the tax – which was meant to ease the property tax burden on residents and businesses – the county's property tax levies have been frozen since 2007.
Senate Bill 585 proposes a one-percent local income tax for Lake County, and would let the county use the money for government operations and economic development. There's a House Ways and Means Committee hearing today.
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Tax Day Nears, VITA Can Still Help

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Tax day is already less than a month away... IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – VITA volunteers have been busy helping Region residents fill out the forms, and they still have some spots available if you qualify. George Kuebler, VITA Site Supervisor at United Way of Porter County says they provide the free assistance, by appointment, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursday, through April 11th.  Kuebler says they do federal and state returns, including out-of-state returns. There are requirements and some restrictions. For details, you can hear our interview online at On Demand here at our website.  Also, for an appointment or more info, call 219-464-3583 or visit www.nwivolunteer.org .
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Powerball Climbs to $260 Million

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Powerball is on the rise. An estimated $260 million is up for grabs in tonights Wednesday night's drawing. The potential prize is the largest in the game since last November's historic $587.5 million run culminated with jackpot winners in Missouri and Arizona.
Indiana leads the nation in Powerball jackpot wins with 38. A Hoosier Lottery player laid claim to the very first Powerball jackpot win in the first Powerball drawing in April 1992. Two of the game's top ten ranking jackpots -- $314.3 million and $295 million -- were also scored in Indiana.
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Former County Clerk Surrenders to Prison

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One-time Lake County elected official Thomas Philpot has reportedly surrendered to a federal prison in Michigan to begin serving an 18-month sentence for paying himself more than 24-thousand dollars in bonuses from federal child support incentive funds while he was County Clerk. Philpot, who also served a decade as Lake County Coroner, was convicted last August on theft and public corruption charges.
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Hundreds Gather for Public Schools Rally

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More than three-hundred people from around the state gathered at the statehouse for a rally supporting traditional public schools in Indiana. Some family members of Lake Ridge Schools in Calumet Township were among the crowd Tuesday. Lake Ridge has announced plans to close one of their elementaries in the face of a looming budget shortfall.
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House Approves Legislation to Improve Child Services

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A bill intended to improve child services in Indiana unanimously passed the House of Representatives Tuesday. Senate Bill 164 would permit prosecuting attorneys to file a Child-In-Need-Of Services petition with a juvenile court, which would start legal action that allows the state to intervene to protect a child, an ability prosecutor had until July of 2009, when the Department of Child Services became the only one able to file such a petition. The bill now returns to the Senate for concurrence or the establishment of a conference committee.
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IN General Assembly Passes Family Friendly School Bill

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INDIANAPOLIS – Today the Indiana House of Representatives approved legislation co-sponsored by Rep. Vernon Smith (D-Gary) to establish the Indiana Family Friendly School designation program.
            The bill requires the Department of Education (DOE) to consult with statewide organizations that study the correlation between family involvement and student achievement, and develop the guidelines for the program. The DOE must also make available to schools best practices for encouraging family engagement.
            “The purpose of this bill is to involve parents in their children’s education,” said Smith. “Warm and inviting schools can make a difference in the quality of performance.
            “Schools could create packets and workshops to show parents what the students are learning,” he added. “They can provide summer packages to encourage families to work together on simple schoolwork over the summer. Even welcoming parents into the building can make a difference in a child’s education. This bill is very important.”
            Senate Bill 422 passed through the House 96-0 and now will advance to the Senate for further review.
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Cold Case Murder Solved After 30 years

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Paul Stucker
(Photo Courtesy of Indiana State Police)
Authorities say a thirty year murder case can now be brought to a close. A 52 year old Scottsburg, Indiana, man was arrested this morning, in Louisiana, on a LaPorte County warrant for felony murder by the U.S. Marshals out of New Orleans. Indiana State Police report Paul Stucker is awaiting extradition back to Indiana, accused of killing 34 year old Johnny Hodge in his cell, at the Indiana State Prison, in Michigan City, on October 19th, 1983. State Police report Stucker was an inmate at the prison at the dame time as Hodge when the murder occurred. Hodge was serving a life sentence on a double-murder charge at the time.  Indiana State Police Detectives assigned to the SEllersburg and Versailles Post are reportedly responsible for closing this cold case.
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All Clear Given at IUPUI

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A full-alert on the campus of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has been lifted.   Officals reported the "all-clear" was given just after 4pm, about three-hours after it was first issued.   Police were reportedly searching for a suspicious individual, after a man with what maybe a gun, was allegedly seen near Barnhill and Vermont. The campus will now return to normal operations.
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St. John Man Charged in Sunday's Fatal Crash

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The Lake County Prosecutor's Office today accepted charges against a 39 year old St. John man, who fled the scene of a firey crash Sunday morning in Crown Point that left one man dead. The Lake County Sheriff's Office says David Hatfield is charged with operating while intoxicated resulting in death, and leaving the scene of a crash resulting in death, both of which are felonies, as well as two misdemeanor counts of operating while intoxicated. Investigators report Hatfield's vehicle struck the rear of a 59 year old Crown Point man's vehicle as it traveled west on 109th Avenue, killing the Crown Point man, and causing both vehicle to go up in flames. Authorities report extremely excessive speed by Hatfield also contributed to the crash.
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IN Toll Road WB Calumet Exit Closed Tomorrow

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Starting tomorrow morning at 7am Central Time, contractors will begin painting the bridge over the westbound Calumet City exit on the Indiana Toll Road, causing the westbound exit ramp to be closed. Indiana Toll Road officials report traffic from the westbound exit ramp will be detoured through the make-up/break-up lot, which in-turn will restrict parking to tractor-trailers in that lot. The closure is scheduled to be lifted this Friday afternoon, but will begin again Monday, March 25th, through Thursday, March 28th.
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