Hepatitis: Know It, Confront It and Get Screened Now

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INDIANAPOLIS—Did you know that hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver, can be caused by a virtual alphabet of different viruses? It’s a major reason the World Hepatitis Alliance, working in partnership with the World Health Organization, will recognize the sixth annual World Hepatitis Day on Sunday, July 28, 2013. The main themes for this year are “This is hepatitis. Know it. Confront it,” and “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil.”
Hepatitis is a silent epidemic. In the U.S., the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. As of 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that nationwide, approximately 4.4 million people have chronic hepatitis B and C infections. In Indiana in 2010, 12 cases of hepatitis A, 75 cases of hepatitis B, and more than 6,000 cases of hepatitis C were reported.
“Hepatitis can be a serious illness leading to liver disease and liver cancer,” said Joan Duwve, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at the Indiana State Department of Health. “The good news is that testing for hepatitis is simple. Knowing your status can help prevent serious complications of infection and stop the further spread of disease to others.”    
Hepatitis A is spread through ingestion of contaminated food or water, while hepatitis B and C are both spread through contact with infected blood and bodily fluids. Common modes of transmission for hepatitis B and C include the spreading of the infection from mother to child during childbirth, intravenous drug use, reusing contaminated needles, including those used for tattoos, body piercing, home blood sugar testing, and injection of drugs. Thankfully, there are safe and effective vaccines to prevent hepatitis A and B, and treating babies born to mothers infected with hepatitis B within hours of delivery greatly reduces the likelihood that they will become infected.
Protect yourself against infection with hepatitis C by avoiding risk factors like reusing needles.  Other risk factors for hepatitis C include having HIV (since HIV and hepatitis C are transmitted in similar ways), receiving body piercing or tattoos with non-sterile instruments and sex with partners already infected with hepatitis C.
Most Americans with hepatitis B and C are unaware they are infected with serious liver infections until they begin to have complications from their infections. State health officials are encouraging Hoosiers to take action to increase viral hepatitis by talking with your doctor about risk factors, getting tested and getting vaccinated.  State health officials recommend a one-time hepatitis blood test for everyone between the ages of 48 and 68. There are treatments available for both hepatitis B and C, and knowing your hepatitis status can help prevent ongoing spread of disease.  Visit your health care provider and ask about testing.    
To learn more about World Hepatitis Day 2013, visit
For more information about viral hepatitis, visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s website at Follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at
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Michigan City Man Sentenced in Death of Isiah Wright

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One of three defendants was sentenced on Thursday in the case of a 16 year old found dead near Eastport School last September. The Times reports 21 year old Jamar Pasha, of Michigan City, who pleaded guilty to the murder of Isiah Wright, was sentenced to 45 years in prison. Published reports say authorities are not releasing many details regarding the shooting incident, since two other cases are pending. A 25 year old woman is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to robbery, while an 18 year old man has yet to enter a plea on charges of robbery and criminal gang activity.
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Read more: Michigan City Man Sentenced in Death of Isiah Wright


17 Year Old from Gary Charged with Murder

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A Gary teenager has been charged in the shooting death of 18 year old Cameron Sanders, which took place in Hammond on Monday. According to court documents, the 17 year old is being charged as a adult, and witnesses stated they heard the Gary teen and the victim arguing about Sanders allegedly firing a gun at his girlfriend, who happens to be the suspect's sister, prior to hearing gunshots.  The homicide was one three shooting incidents in Hammond this week.
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Hobart Names Ceremony Marking 3rd Anniv

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Today is the final Friday of the month, the day of the Hobart Marine Corps League Howlin' Mad Detachment Number 93 Doughboy ceremony where the names of fallen soldiers are read out loud – seven names are being read tonight. The public is invited to the service, which starts at 5 pm at the Hobart Doughboy statue at 7th and Main. Doughboy was a term used to describe U-S infantrymen of the American Expeditionary Force during World War One. Today the Hobart Marine Corps league marks their 3rd anniversary of reading the names, a three-year total that stands at 1,637.

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Hospital, Assessor Reach Agreement

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Officials say Porter Regional Hospital has agreed to turn over documents said to be necessary to complete the property tax assessment of the hospital campus at US 6 and State Road 49 in Liberty Township. The issue wound up in court. County Assessor Jon Snyder issued a statement today saying the hospital and his office have come to an equitable agreement, and that thanks to  "this agreement and its timing, assessments will be completed on time and accurately.”

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Public Comment Sought on Upgrade Plan

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Indiana's utility consumer representative is taking public comment on a one-billion dollar proposal by NIPSCO to upgrade its electric system. The plan that would include replacing poles and transformers could mean yearly one-percent electric bill increases in the coming years. The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor says the Merrillville-based utiity giant's request is the first to be filed under a new law, Senate Enrolled Act 560, passed by the legislature this year. The measure allows utilities to pay for certain infrastructure improvements through surcharges called "trackers" added to customer bills.
For more info on the proposal or submitting a comment, visit

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Van Til Trial Won't Start Monday

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Reports say the public corruption trial scheduled to begin this Monday for Lake County Surveyor George Van Til has been postponed until December 9th. Van Til's attorney had filed a motion in federal court asking for more time. Van Til pleaded not guilty in Hammond Federal Court after being accused of using county employees to do campaign work. He's been Lake County's Surveyor for more than twenty years.

Read more: Van Til Trial Won't Start Monday


Powerball Jackpot Up to $196 Million

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Some facts and figures about a couple of big jackpots this weekend, courtesy of the Hoosier Lottery:
INDIANAPOLIS (July 26, 2013) - At $196 million, Saturday's Powerball jackpot is the stuff dreams are made of.  At $13 million, and thirteen weeks without a winner, Saturday's Hoosier Lotto jackpot is the stuff dreams - and superstitions - are made of.
Superstitious or not, at the Hoosier Lottery, the number "13" is a historicaly significant number. The Hoosier Lottery opened it's doors and sold its first ticket on Friday, October 13, 1989.  If a player is lucky enough to win Saturday's Hoosier Lotto jackpot they will need to claim their $13 million prize at Hoosier Lottery Headquarters, which is located at the intersection of Meridian and 13th Street in Indianapolis (1302 N. Meridian Street to be exact).
When it comes to Powerball jackpot wins, Hoosiers have historically been pretty lucky.  The Hoosier Lottery leads the pack nationwide.  Hoosier Lottery retailers have sold a record 38 Powerball jackpot winning tickets over the years.  That's more than any other state.  With the recent addition of California to the game, Powerball is now played in 43 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Not only does Indiana hold the record for most jackpot wins, but 25 Powerball players in Indiana have also won $1 million prizes playing Powerball or Powerball with Power Play. 
Thirteen lucky Indiana players have won $1 million Powerball prizes since January 2012, including four already in 2013.
The most recent Powerball jackpot prize in Indiana was a $74 million jackpot win in Merrillville in April 2011. The largest Powerball prize ever won in Indiana was a $314.3 million jackpot won in Richmond in August 2007.
Players in Indiana have until 9:58 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday night to purchase their shot at the $196 million Powerball jackpot.   If they want to try their luck at Hoosier Lotto's lucky $13 million, they have until 10:39 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday to get their $1 tickets.
Players don't have to wait until Saturday to try their luck.  Friday night's Mega Millions drawing offers a $19 million jackpot.
The Hoosier Lottery reminds all players to play responsibly. Must be 18 or older to play.  Gambling Addiction Referral Line: 800-994-8448.  

Read more: Powerball Jackpot Up to $196 Million


Three Gas Utilities Fined

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The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has announced they are seeking a total of 180-thousand dollars in proposed penalties from Merrillville-based Northern Indiana Public Service Company and two other major gas utilities in the state, Citizens Gas and Vectren, for pipeline safety violations. The I-U-R-C says the companies failed to follow procedures and keep accurate maps and records of underground facilities, resulting in mislocating or not locating pipelines in accordance with the state's “Call Before You Dig” laws. IURC Chairman Jim Atterholt says a deadly gas pipeline explosion three years ago in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno, California, was a “tragic wake up call”.

NIPSCO issued a statement saying, "Public safety and the safety of our employees is a top priority, and we take that responsibility seriously.

"NIPSCO, along with every utility in the country, has an obligation to its customers to continually operate and maintain a safe energy infrastructure.

"NIPSCO has upgraded its systems and internal procedures to improve performance in responding to locate requests received throughout the year, and will continue to investigate and implement further measures to reduce pipeline damages.

"The additional action required by the Commission recognized the corrective steps already identified by NIPSCO," the company said.


Read more: Three Gas Utilities Fined


Fire Training Provided to Inmates

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Eleven inmates at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City are being certified as firefighters. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security collaborated with the Indiana Department of Correction to provide the training this week, which included classroom and hands-on lessons in topics like fire behavior and ventilation. The Indiana State Prison had earlier established an offender fire department, but this is the first time certified fire training was conducted inside the facility. Upon graduating, the inmates will be certified to fight interior fires.    William K. Wilson, Superintendent of the Indiana State Prison stated, “This certification will benefit them when they return to their communities and will allow them to give back to the community”.
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[Photos/Indiana Department of Correction]
About the Indiana State Prison:
This Indiana State Prison (ISP) was built in 1860, and is the oldest correctional facility in operation for the Department. ISP is located on 102 acres of land on Michigan City’s west side. The physical plant consists of 51 buildings, which include 13 offender-housing units, steam plant, garage, warehouse, industries buildings, and five staff housing units. The main walled compound surrounds 24 acres of land. Located on the same grounds, outside the wall is the unit dedicated to house the medium-minimum security offenders....

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Multiple Sobriety Checkpoints Planned

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Multiple sobriety checkpoints will occur in the Region this weekend. The Lowell District of the Indiana State Police will conduct a sobriety checkpoint during the late evening hours in Porter County tonight [July 26, 2013]. Troopers say motorists who encounter a checkpoint will be required to produce a valid license and registration and can expect delays of two-to-three minutes if they're not impaired and there's no other reason to be detained. The Hammond Police Department says they will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint this weekend as part of the Lake County Drunk Driving Task Force with funding provided by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. And, the Lake County Traffic Safety Partnership has announced they're conducting a sobriety checkpoint in Hobart sometime this weekend.

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NWI RDA Considers EC Request

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The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority Board of Directors is considering a 39-million dollar funding application from the City of East Chicago. It would go toward a project to create a public-private partnership for spur economic development in the North Harbor area.
The board this week also approved a request for Deal Closing Funds from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, currently in negotiations with a company considering Northwest Indiana. Due to the sensitive nature of the talks, no further details were made available. The board says no RDA funds will be used unless a deal is finalized.

Read more: NWI RDA Considers EC Request


Services for Former State Sen William Costas

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Visitation is scheduled today (Fri Jul 26 2013) and funeral services tomorrow (Saturday) for former northwest Indiana state lawmaker and Region grocery store owner William Costas of Valparaiso. William Costas passed away at his home Tuesday at the age of 84. Costas, who was born in Detroit, founded Wilco Foods in Miller in 1962, then owned and operated Costas Foods from 1972 to 1998. Costas served two terms in the Indiana State Senate from 1980 to 1988. Costas is the father of Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas.
Visitation is Friday, July 26, 2013 from 2:00-8:00 p.m. at Liberty Bible Church, 824 N. Calumet Avenue in Chesterton.   The funeral service will begin Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. at the church with Rev. Robert Nienhuis officiating. Burial will be at Angelcrest Cemetery in Valparaiso.

Read more: Services for Former State Sen William Costas


Gary Youth to Clean Up Graffiti

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In less than a month, Gary's Youth Services Bureau hopes to mobilize one-hundred youth to take the first step in Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's challenge to young people in Gary to remove all the city’s graffiti. The bureau's director Patrick Barry is recruiting participants now, to remove and paint over graffiti in the first targeted area: along Broadway, from 6th to 21st Avenues. For info on the August 7th event, contact the Gary Youth Services Bureau.
City officials say this service learning activity will be the official kick-off of the Gary Youth Services Bureau’s “TEAM S.T.E.E.L.” (Service, Training, Engagement and Experiential Learning). This group is open to young people middle school to college age and will meet monthly to participate in training and experience based service learning activities. Youth who participate on this team will learn about relevant issues in the city, have a direct impact on addressing those issues, develop a sense of community pride and feel more equipped, empowered and engaged in helping to build a better Gary for themselves, their families and the future.
To register youth to participate visit the Gary Youth Services Bureau located at 839 Broadway, Suite S202 between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. For more information contact the Youth Service Bureau at (219) 881-5270.
Additionally, city officials announced a Youth for Change Rally this Saturday, July 27:
In March of 2013, recent high school graduate David King launched a Youth Movement for Change which included a city-wide Youth March for Change. This marked the beginning of a youth-led movement to actualize young people’s vision to see a stronger, safer, more united Gary. King has since teamed up with the City of Gary’s Youth Services Bureau to expand the movement to include a citywide Youth Rally for Change, which will be held Saturday July 27, 2013, from 11a to 1p at Indiana University Northwest, Savannah Center, 3400 Broadway Gary, Indiana.

Read more: Gary Youth to Clean Up Graffiti


A Recent Poll Shows Rural Areas Feel Ignored

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INDIANAPOLIS - Rural Americans believe the federal government is ignoring their communities' needs, according to a new poll commissioned by the Center for Rural Affairs. Rural Affairs executive director Chuck Hassebrook said rural communities want and need economic help from the government.

 "They believe strongly that their communities are worth fighting for, and their way of life is worth fighting for, but that Washington's not paying attention," he declared. "And in all honesty, you can see it in the current Farm Bill debate."
 Nearly 9 in 10 polled believed the rural and small-town life is worth fighting for.   Hassebrook said the poll makes an important statement about the values of rural America.  
 "We surveyed 800 people across close to 20 states," he said. "It's a good-sized sample and important findings that inform the entire nation about what rural people have to say about what's important for their communities."

 Other findings from the poll show that three-fourths agree that too much of federal farm subsidies go to the largest farms, hurting smaller family farms. Three-fourths support tax credits and investment in new transmission lines for development of wind, solar and other renewable electric generation in rural areas. Eight in ten support grants and loans to revitalize small towns through upgrades to water and sewer systems and investments in roads and bridges.

 After failing to pass a new Farm Bill last year, when the old one expired, the U.S. Senate and House have recently passed very different versions of a new measure.

(article and graphic provided by, Leigh DeNoon/Indiana News Service)


Read more: A Recent Poll Shows Rural Areas Feel Ignored


Grant Opportunity to Help Youth-Serving Organizations

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INDIANAPOLIS – At least twelve organizations across Indiana will have the opportunity to serve more children, youth or families or improve their effectiveness through a grant program offered by the Indiana Youth Institute (IYI).
The Capacity Building Coaching grant will give nonprofits serving children, youth or families an opportunity to overcome challenges they face in running their agencies. The grant matches consultants with agency staff and board members to develop strategies and implement best practices so the organizations can best deliver their services.
IYI will award 12 grants, but because collaborative applications between two agencies are encouraged, more than 12 agencies could benefit. Applications must be submitted via e-mail to IYI by Aug. 26.
Nonprofit community and faith-based organizations serving children, youth or families from any Indiana county are eligible. Geographic diversity of the 12 winning applications will be taken into account when the grants are awarded. The grants will be awarded this September and the grant cycle will run through next June. The winning organizations will receive:
·         Up to 150 hours of professional consulting from IYI to provide strategic planning, board development, evaluation planning, fund development, marketing, executive mentoring, technology or other technical assistance that would increase the effectiveness of the organization.
·         Registration for one to attend “Principles and Techniques of Fundraising,” a five-day overview course taught by The Fund Raising School at Indiana University in Indianapolis, all approved travel expenses paid.
·         Registration for two to attend IYI’s Because Kids Count Conference in Indianapolis, Dec. 3-4, 2013, all approved travel expenses paid.
Requests for proposal guidelines for the Capacity Building Coaching grant can be found on the IYI website at Organizations with additional questions may contact Carolyn Langan, IYI’s program manager for consulting, at 1-800-343-7060, ext. 2716 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
The Indiana Youth Institute promotes the healthy development of Indiana children and youth by serving the people, institutions and communities that impact their well-being.
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Majority Favor Obama's Climate Action Plan

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It's been a little over a month since President Obama announced that he's not waiting for Congress to do something about climate change and Americans seem to be glad he's doing it.   That's the result of the first poll of voters since the president unveiled his Climate Action Plan. 
The poll, conducted by Hart Research Associates and Chesapeake Beach Consulting for the Naturla Resources Defense Council, found strong bipartisan support with 61 percent if respondents approving of the plan--with a reported 68 percent from the Midwest. 
Howard Learner with the Environmental Law and Policy Center says he expects to support to grow even stronger, "as people see that cars and trucks are becoming more efficient, as people see some of the old coal plant dinosaurs either cleaning up or retiring, I think you're going to see a lot of members of the public saying this makes sense."    Even after being given the arguments for and against the plan, the voters supported it by a nearly two to one margin.  
 In addition to telling the voters that the plan will limit pollution from power plants as well as boost fuel efficiency in vehicles and energy efficiency in homes, the voters were told that the plan will invest more in wind and solar power generation. And they approved.   
 Learner said Illinois is one of many states that will benefit economically.   "You know, the Midwest and the Great Plains are the Saudi Arabia of wind power," he said. "Iowa is the number two state in the country in terms of installed wind power development, Illinois is number four, Minnesota is number six."   He said the Dakotas are producing more wind power as well.  Meanwhile according to the Defense Council's website:, Indiana was ranked in the Top 20 states but is the third-fastest growing state in wind energy capacity
 Learner sees the president's Climate Action plan as an important kick starter for the clean-energy industry.   Even though the poll showed bipartisan support for most elements in the plan, Senate Republicans have introduced legislation to stop the EPA from regulating carbon emissions from power plants. 

 Poll results and more information is at


Read more: Majority Favor Obama's Climate Action Plan


East Chicago Man Found Not Guilty of Murder by Jury

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Antonio Perkins
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A 23 year old East Chicago man was found not guilty of murder today  by a jury in the death of a 21 year old woman and not guilty of attempted murder of the woman's boyfriend. The Times reports Antonio Perkins was accused of following the couple, after an altercation at an East Chicago gas station in July of 2011, and firing at their vehicle, striking the woman in the head. According to the article, the defense contended the evidence in the case did not hold up, as cell phone records indicated the victim had already been hospitalized when Perkins was alleged to have been shooting at the vehicle.
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Read more: East Chicago Man Found Not Guilty of Murder by Jury


Coats Votes Against Senate Spending Bills

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Senator Dan Coats
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) voted against the Senate Fiscal Year 2014 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill and Financial Services Appropriations bill in today’s full committee markup.
Although Coats supported a number of amendments to these bills, he remains opposed to all of the Senate Appropriations bills because collectively they violate current law under the Budget Control Act.
“While these bills include amendments I offered and many worthy initiatives, I could not support the final legislation because the collective spending levels among all Senate Appropriations bills will violate current law,” said Coats. “The Senate needs to abide by the laws it enacts and stop playing games to avoid hard fiscal decisions.”
During the Senate Appropriations Committee markup, Coats along with Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) successfully included an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014 State and Foreign Operations spending bill that would impose steep cuts on U.S. aid to the Government of Afghanistan if exit fees on American property continue during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The amendment would reduce foreign aid to Afghanistan by five dollars for every one dollar in taxes, fines or levies imposed on U.S. property exiting Afghanistan.
“Over the last twelve years, thousands of brave Americans have given their lives heroically to break the Taliban’s stronghold on the Afghan people and provide Afghan troops with military training and support,” Coats said. “We will not stand aside and allow the Afghan government to exploit the United States after all of the lives and resources our country has sacrificed.”
The U.S. military is gradually reducing its presence in Afghanistan as more responsibility is passed along to the Afghan security forces. The Government of Afghanistan reportedly has fined the U.S. up to $1,000 per shipping container that does not have a corresponding invoice of its contents. Recently, the U.S. special investigator for Afghanistan informed Congress of nearly $1 billion in business taxes and penalties imposed by the Afghan government on contractors and warned of hundreds of millions of dollars in additional future costs if the exit fees remain.
Coats also backed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Services Appropriations bill to prevent funding for implementation of the individual mandate in the president’s health care law.
“The Affordable Care Act is proving to be anything but affordable,” said Coats. “I consistently hear from Hoosiers across Indiana about the negative impacts this law is having on family budgets and job creators. Rather than force an unwanted and unpopular law onto the people, let’s regroup, reset and deliver effective health care reform for all Americans.”
The amendment failed along party lines during the committee markup.
The Senate Fiscal Year 2014 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations bill and the Senate Fiscal Year 2014 Financial Services Appropriations bill cleared the committee and will now be placed on the Senate calendar for consideration at a later date.
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Providing Fire Training to Indiana State Prison Inmates

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(Photos Courtesy of the Indiana State Prison)
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A program to provide fire fighting training to inmates of the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City is scheduled to conclude tomorrow. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Indiana Department of Corrections says the program, which began on Monday, provides entry-level knowledge for participants to meet performance requirements and perform basic tasks, in the classroom and through hands-on lessons in topics such as fire behavior, forcible entry and ventilation. Indiana State Prison Superintendent William Wilson says this is the first time that certified fire training has been conducted inside the facility, and upon graduating, the inmates will be certified to fight interior fires which benefits them when they return to their communities so they can give back.
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Read more: Providing Fire Training to Indiana State Prison Inmates


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Region News Team
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