Hobart Man Sentenced in Jada Justice Death

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A Hobart man accused in connection with the death of a two-year-old girl whose body was found burned and encased in concrete in a La Porte County swamp four years ago was sentenced to forty-years in prison in Lake County court today [Friday] . Timothy Tkachik pleaded guilty in 2010 to neglect. Co-defendant and former girlfriend Engelica Castillo was found guilty of murdering Jada Justice and is serving a 65-year prison term. Police say the child was beaten to death while the couple was babysitting her. A judge dismissed neglect charges against the child's mother last month.

Read more: Hobart Man Sentenced in Jada Justice Death


Man Shot at Party Dies, Marks 30th Homicide in Gary in 2013

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Gary PD
A 24 year old man shot at a party in Gary on July 13th has died, becoming the city's 30th homicide this year. Gary Police report Benjamin Fullilove was shot multiple times after reportedly getting into an argument at a party in the 21-hundred block of Carolina Street.
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Read more: Man Shot at Party Dies, Marks 30th Homicide in Gary in 2013


NiSource Exec to Lead Gary Airport Committee

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The Gary Airport Authority has announced the appointment of a NiSource executive as the new chair of the airport's ad hoc committee looking into the possibility of a public-private partnership to invest in the airport and surrounding area. Carrie Hightman, a current member of the P3 [public-private partnership] committee, will replace Northwest Indiana Bancorp CEO David Bochnowski, who resigned from the committee and the airport authority board for personal reasons.
“Carrie Hightman is an exceptional leader, and we are pleased to have her at the helm of the P3 committee,” said Nathaniel T. Williams, president of the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority.  “We are grateful to David Bochnowski for his service to the airport authority and for his leadership as chair of the public-private partnership committee.”
Established by the Airport Authority in February 2013, the P3 committee recently received a number of responses from private sector interests to the airport’s Request for Expressions of Interest and Qualifications (REIQ) to gather a broad array of approaches and ideas to invest in the airport and the surrounding area through a potential public-private partnership (P3). The committee expects to release a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) within weeks.
In addition to the P3 exploration, the airport has a $166 million runway expansion project underway to extend the main 7,000-foot runway by 1,900 feet.  The expansion is expected to be complete by September 2014.

Read more: NiSource Exec to Lead Gary Airport Committee


Metra Wire Problems Delay South Shore

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Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District says wire problems on Metra has led to South Shore delays this midday west of Hegewisch Station. Not known how long the delays will last.
NICTD website:
Metra has a service alert in effect due to the extreme heat, saying riders may experience delays of 10 to 15 minutes. Officials say when temperatures exceed 95 degrees, it is necessary to operate Metra trains at reduced speeds to compensate for heat-related stresses on their track, switches and signals

Read more: Metra Wire Problems Delay South Shore


Suburban Alderman Dies in Lake Michigan

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michael janko WinCE
After about a seven-hour search by water and air, the body of a Blue Island alderman who disappeared in Lake Michigan was found hundreds of yards off Whiting's Whihala Beach shoreline around 10:30 last night. The Lake County Coroners office says 50-year-old Michael Janko was pronounced dead shortly before midnight this morning, and cause and manner of death were pending. 
Here is additional information from the U.S. Coast Guard today:
At 3:45 p.m., a search-and-rescue controller at  Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan, in Milwaukee, was contacted by a boater who said Janko went missing while he was swimming in Lake Michigan .25 miles north of Whihala Beach in Hammond, Ind.
The owner/operator told the Coast Guard that Janko jumped into the water then resurfaced but was unresponsive. Another swimmer grabbed onto him, but could not keep hold of him. He went under the water and did not resurface. He was not wearing a life jacket.
A rescue boatcrew aboard a  25-foot Response Boat Small launched from Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor, Ill., and a rescue aircrew aboard an MH-65C Dolphin helicopter launched from Coast Guard Air Facility Waukegan, Ill. Also searching were rescue crews from the Lake County, Ind., Sheriff’s Office, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Hammond Fire Department.
A boatcrew with the Indiana Conservation Marine Unit conducting side-scanning sonar searches directed the Lake County Sheriff's Office divers to the area where they located Janko's body at 10:28 p.m. The sheriff's marine unit boatcrew transported Janko's body to the Hammond Marina, where it was turned over to the Lake County Coroner.
The Coast Guard RB-S crew, the Lake County Sheriff's Office boatcrew, and the Coast Guard rescue helicopter crew conducted eight sorties, over a period of almost eight hours, and covered a cumulative area of more than 40 square nautical miles.

Read more: Suburban Alderman Dies in Lake Michigan


Chief Issues Statement After Two Dogs Fatally Shot

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In Crown Point, Chief Pete Land says his officers did all they could to deter two Siberian Huskies fatally shot by police Wednesday. Land says a 911 caller reported two large dogs dragged her cat down a creek bank and were cornering her husband who was trying to get the cat. Land said neither dog had a collar or tags, and officers used pepper spray to try to scare them away. Land says an officer believing he was in danger of being attacked shot one of the dogs, and he says the second dog was shot due to the dog's continued aggressiveness. Land said in a prepared statement the “absolute last resort was to have to shoot either dog”. Chief Land also said one of the responding officers is with the department's K-9 unit.

Read more: Chief Issues Statement After Two Dogs Fatally Shot


Car Show, Music Bingo Friday Night Fair Fare

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Classic car and truck enthusiasts will be heading for the Porter County Fair today.  Radio One Communications' Buggy Wheel Pavilion is hosting the fair's Classic & Custom Car and Truck Day, sponsored by Oak Partners and MTI Service Center.  Those entering the judged competition should enter at Gate 3 starting at 1pm for free driver admission.  
Also at the Radio One Communications Buggy Wheel Pavilion tonight-- Music Bingo-- brought to you by Tony Saddle Shop and Vogelsang Asset Management!  It's free after your regular fair admission starting at 6:30pm.  It's like regular bingo, but instead of listening for a bingo number, players listen to popular songs from country, rock and other genres to complete their bingo card, with prizes awarded for each winner during tonight's fun!   Once again,  Music Bingo starts tonight at 6:30pm at the Porter County Fair's Radio One Communications Buggy Wheel Pavilion. 

Read more: Car Show, Music Bingo Friday Night Fair Fare


Boy Rescued from Sand Hole Improving

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Doctors in Chicago say a six-year-old Sterling, Illinois, boy suddenly swallowed up by and buried under eleven-feet of sand at Mount Baldy in Michigan City last Friday is continuing to improve. University of Chicago Comer Childrens Hospital released a statement Thursday afternoon saying Nathan Woessner has been upgraded from critical to serious condition.
Park officials continue to try to determine what happened, hoping to bring in ground-penetrating radar or other equipment that can see under the 12-story dune to look for holes or any other dangers under the surface.

Experts also think an air pocket below the ground protected the child. Mount Baldy is closed until further notice.

Read more: Boy Rescued from Sand Hole Improving


Gary to Announce Redevelopment Project

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Federal officials are joining Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson today for a news conference at the Genesis Convention Center [Fri Jul 19 13] to announce a redevelopment project. Representatives from the US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the US Department of Transportation are scheduled to be there. The city says the agencies will work with the city and private foundations through the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities on the new project.

Read more: Gary to Announce Redevelopment Project


Man Dead After Disappearing in Lake Michigan

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The Lake County Coroners office says manner of death was pending for a 50-year-old Blue Island, Illinois, man who disappeared in the waters of Lake Michigan off the Whihala Beach shoreline in Whiting. Officials say Michael Janko was pronounced dead shortly before midnight this morning.
At 3:45 Thursday afternoon, a search-and-rescue controller at Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan, in Milwaukee, was contacted by a boater who said a 50-year-old man he was boating with went missing while swimming in Lake Michigan a quarter mile north of the beach. The US Coast Guard says the man was reportedly not wearing a life jacket.
A rescue boatcrew aboard a 25-foot Response Boat-Small launched from Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor, Illinois., and a rescue aircrew aboard an MH-65C Dolphin helicopter launched from Coast Guard Air Facility Waukegan, Ilinois.
Other agencies responding included the Indiana DNR, Lake County Marine Unit, Lake County Aquatics Team, Lake County Sheriff Dept., Hammond Police and Whiting Police.

Read more: Man Dead After Disappearing in Lake Michigan


Violent Crime in EC Down 18%, Lowest Total Since 2003

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East Chicago PD
Chief Mark J. Becker today released the following information;
A review of the crime statistics submitted to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program for the period of January through June, 2013 is attached to this release.
Also released at this time are similar statistics for the first 6 months of 2003-2012.
The East Chicago Police Department submits monthly crime statistics to the FBI for inclusion in their Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) program. Among some of the information that is shared with the FBI, is data on 4 violent crimes, criminal homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.
The program also collects data on 3 property crime offenses which include, burglary, larceny-theft and motor vehicle crime. Finally, some departments, to include the East Chicago Police Department, provide data on the number of reported arsons.
A review of the attached table will find reported offense totals for the City of East Chicago, for January through June of 2013, as well as data from previous years for the same period of time.
Of note is that 2013 data compared for the same time last year reflects the following:
  • Violent Crime in East Chicago is down 18% ( 94 total violent crimes is the lowest since 2003. Data prior to that time is not available)
  • Property Crime is up (3%)
  • All Crime (Violent + Property) is up 1%
(Due to the volume of property crime offenses reported, all crime rose by 1%)
Unfortunately there were 7 criminal homicides in 2013. The department continues to partner with other federal, state and local agencies so as to address such issues.
We are committed to an aggressive community outreach program, we cannot fight this battle alone. Neighborhood walks, the implementation of a Citizen’s Academy and regular attendance at public gatherings are but a few of the community based efforts that the department has undertaken.
The establishment of The STOP Team and partnering with Indiana University Northwest (IUN) are some of the initiatives that have also contributed to the reduction in crime. IUN in general and particularly Dr. Joseph Ferrandino, is to be commended for their assistance in the form of crime mapping and related analysis. The identification of problematic areas and suggestions as to how to maximize our resources has proved to be of invaluable assistance.
The implementation of The STOP team on April 12th has also proved very effective.
In 2 ½ short months, the team has logged over 550 traffic stops, executed a total of 112 arrests and they continue to aggressively pursue gang and drug related issues.
Studies clearly support the direct correlation of increased traffic enforcement in regards to reducing crime. In 2012 the department recorded 3,717 traffic stops versus the first 6 months of 2013 in which they have already tallied a total 4,209 stops. Increased police presence has played a significant role in the reduction of violent crime.

Our partnerships with Federal Task Forces, implementation of The STOP Team, increased activity by our patrol officers, and the continued dedication by our detectives, crime scene personnel, gang/narcotic officers, a very professional support staff and community support have combined to reduce crime in East Chicago.
Source FBI UCR submissions by the East Chicago Police Department

Criminal Homicide
Aggravated Assault
Violent Crime Total
Larceny Theft
Motor Vehicle Theft
Property Crime Total
All Crime Total
Arson(Not Included in UCR)

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Read more: Violent Crime in EC Down 18%, Lowest Total Since 2003


NIRPC Transportation Plan Pushed Back to Aug. 29th

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The 2014 through 2017 NIRPC Transportation Improvement Plan will not be seeing any action until the end of August, after a disability rights group pointed out a public hearing had not taken place, which is required by federal regulations. The Times reports the plan will now be considered at a meeting on August 29th. According to the article, action was taken regarding police at NIRPC meetings, with a 14-13 vote in favor of sending a letter to the City of Portage stating a law enforcement presence is not necessary, this after the issue of police at the scene brewed some controversy during a May 23rd NIRPC meeting when protestors with disabilities showed up.
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Read more: NIRPC Transportation Plan Pushed Back to Aug. 29th


Indiana Leads Nation in Manufacturing Growth in June

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Indianapolis – Indiana led the nation in manufacturing job growth in the month of June, adding 4,300 manufacturing positions over the course of the month. California came in second place, with 2,600 manufacturing jobs added. Overall, the manufacturing sector experienced the largest one-month increase since August of 2004.
Since July of 2009, Indiana has added nearly 64,000 manufacturing jobs, coming in second in the nation, at a 14.9 percent rate of growth, ranking third in the nation. The state continues to have the highest percentage of manufacturing jobs as a portion of the private sector than any other state.
“The job growth seen in Indiana’s manufacturing sector in the month of June shows that people are going to work in Indiana,” said Governor Pence. “While too many Hoosiers are still out of work, I am encouraged by today’s report and anticipate further progress for jobs in Indiana in the months ahead.”
More information about the June 2013 Indiana Employment Report can be found here:
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Read more: Indiana Leads Nation in Manufacturing Growth in June


Coats Working to Reintroduce the GAS Act

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Senator Dan Coats
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Americans face increasing fuel costs this summer, Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) joined Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) to reintroduce today the “Gas Accessibility and Stabilization” (GAS) Act, legislation that would reduce gas price spikes by improving the reliability, flexibility, and affordability of so-called “boutique fuels.”
To help lower fuel costs and prevent spikes at the pump, the GAS Act further broadens periods where the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can grant a waiver to a community to use whatever fuel they have on hand if there is a disruption. The waiver would be automatically approved if the EPA fails to respond to the request within three days. The bill also calls on the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct a Fuel Harmonization Study, as directed by the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005, to determine the status of boutique fuel programs and their impact on supply, reliability, and gas prices.
“Indiana’s fuel prices are among the highest in the nation, and Hoosiers are feeling pain at the pump,” said Coats. “While this legislation does not address every energy challenge facing our nation, it will provide the flexibility needed to help level out price fluctuations. Our country needs common-sense solutions like the GAS Act to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”
“Simplifying our fuel blends just makes sense. Someone traveling across the state of Missouri could fill up with one blend of fuel in St. Louis, and a different blend of fuel in Kansas City. If one blend is in short supply, the other blend is not acceptable as a replacement – forcing consumers to pay more in different locations,” said Blunt. “This bill is a step in the right direction to help lower costs and provide more flexibility for consumers in Missouri and nationwide.”
“The GAS Act is designed to reduce the regulatory burden, which shrinks supply and drives up the cost of fuel for consumers and businesses,” said Hoeven. “This legislation enables different fuel types to be moved from region to region when demand grows and supplies are short, helping to hold down prices.”
“Chicagoland gas prices are subject to price fluctuations in part because individual geographic areas are required to have their own unique fuel blends,” said Kirk. “You cannot buy the same gasoline in Chicago as you can in St. Louis because of federal regulations, which create a rigidity in the gasoline market and consequently, higher prices.  Our legislation will break up these geographic monopolies, increase flexibility and allow gas prices for everyone to become more affordable.”
“As families across Ohio continue to struggle through a weak economy, the last thing they need to deal with is escalating gas prices,” said Portman.  “By giving communities the flexibility to use different blends based on supply demands, this bill takes a commonsense step to reduce costs at the pump.”

Click here for a copy of the legislation.
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Read more: Coats Working to Reintroduce the GAS Act


Rollover Crash Blocking EB I-94 at State Road 249

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Rollover crash EB 80-94 at SR-249  07-18-13

The back side of a semi trailer on its side can just be seen in this view looking toward eastbound I-94 at the Portage exit

All lanes eastbound I-80/94 are backing up due to rollover accident involving a semi at the State Road 249 entrance ramp onto I-94.  Emergency crews are on the scene and first  responded to the accident at 3:08 p.m. CST Thursday afternoon.  Drivers eastbound on I-94 can exit and the Central Avenue or US-20 exit to avoid the crash.

(photo from INDOT)

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Read more: Rollover Crash Blocking EB I-94 at State Road 249


Part of SR 2 in LaPorte Closed Friday for Movie Shoot

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LAPORTE, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announces the closure of State Road 2 (Lincolnway) in the city of LaPorte, between Holcomb Street and Boston Street, on Friday, July 19th from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. A movie crew will be filming a scene and has obtained the proper permission to shut down the roadway, with cooperation from INDOT and LaPorte city officials.
Eastbound non-truck traffic will be detoured around the closure by travelling north on Tipton Street, east on Brighton Street, south on Boston Street, and back to SR 2 (Lincolnway). Westbound non-truck traffic will be detoured around the closure by travelling north on Boston Street, west on Brighton Street, south on Tipton Street, and back to SR 2 (Lincolnway).
Eastbound truck traffic will be detoured around the closure by travelling east on SR 4, north on Boyd Blvd., and back to SR 2. Westbound truck traffic will be detoured around the closure by travelling south on Boyd Blvd., west on SR 4, and back, to SR 2.
INDOT reminds drivers to use caution and consider worker safety when driving through a construction zone. For the latest road closures and news from INDOT, like us at and follow us at
You can find traffic restriction information at  Contact the LaPorte District toll free at 1-855-GO-INDOT.
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Read more: Part of SR 2 in LaPorte Closed Friday for Movie Shoot


Inmate Charged with Arson for LaPorte County Jail Fire

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A 35 year old inmate at the LaPorte County Jail was charged with felony arson Wednesday after a 4th of July fire in a cell located in the south side of the jail. Marzano Shelly, of Michigan City, who was being held in the jail while awaiting trial for murder, robbery, and other charges, was taken to Indiana University Health, in LaPorte for possible smoke inhalation, and authorities accuse him of setting fire to a mattress using a cigarette lighter, which is prohibited in the jail. No evacuation resulted due to the fire but did result with inmates in the immediate cell block area being relocated to another secure area within the jail.
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Read more: Inmate Charged with Arson for LaPorte County Jail Fire


IDEM Investigating 2nd Sheen off Porter Beach

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The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is investigating another sheen which was reported on the waters of Lake Michigan's Porter Beach Wednesday afternoon. Public Information Officer Dan Goldblatt says not much is known at this time. He says visually it seems to be similar to the material found in the water last month, which is still being analyzed, so there is no way to compare it yet to the samples collected yesterday.
On June 17, officials evacuated people from the water, but on Wednesday swimmers were reportedly not asked to leave. Goldblatt says there has been no indication that anyone has been harmed or illnesses reported by anyone coming into contact with the sheen yesterday or last month. He says IDEM suggests that if you have come into contact with it, to wash yourself with soap and water and not to ingest it.
Goldblatt says while the preliminary report of last month's sheen indicated the presence of a food additive, he says he doesn't know if that may even be found in the actual report...which will be a detailed analysis, breaking down each compound found in the water.  
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Read more: IDEM Investigating 2nd Sheen off Porter Beach


Be Alert to Maintenance Work on Region Roads

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NB I-65 roadwork near Ridge Rd  07-18-13
Looking toward oncoming traffic southbound on I-65 near 45th Avenue

The Indiana Department of Transportation announces the closure of the right lane northbound Interstate 65 between 61st Avenue and Ridge Road until around 4:15 pm Thursday afternoon for maintenance work.


INDOT is also reporting the right lane closed westbound I-94 between US-421 and State Road 49 for road work until around 4 p.m. CST Thursday.
Drivers can also expect alternating lane restrictions both directions of Broadway (State Road 53) between 57th Avenue and US-12 for mobile pothole patching operations until around 3 p.m. CST Thursday.

In Dyer, US-30 remians closed both directions between Calumet avenue and Hart St. for railroad crossing work through around 5 p.m. CST Friday.  Trucks should use the Borman 9I-80/94) as an alternate.  Local traffic can us 213th St. and 77th Avenue as alternates, according to the DYer Police Department.

In Crown Point, utility repair work has State Road 53/Grant St. closed both directions at 159th Avenue until around 5 p.m. CST Thursday.
In Jasper County, US-231 is closed both directions at the railroad crossing in downtown Demotte as repair work to the crossing continues.  Authorities report US-231 will reopen on Monday, July 2nd.

Elsewhere in Porter County, the City of Valparaiso is reporting road restrictions are in place today (Thursday, July 18) for road painting on Morgan, from Lincolnway to Bush and on Lafayette, from monroe to Indiana until 5 p.m. CST Thursday.  Officials say that two-way traffic will be maintained.

Other road maintenance work is underway in Northwest Indiana for most major projects log onto: 

(photo from INDOT) 


Read more: Be Alert to Maintenance Work on Region Roads


Donnelly Introduces the Military Reserve Jobs Act of 2013

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Washington, D.C. – Today, Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced a bill that would give qualified members of the Reserve Components, such as a member who has successfully completed basic training and incurred a commitment to six consecutive years of service, tiered preference in hiring for civil service jobs.  The Military Reserve Jobs Act of 2013, S. 1320, would help promote the hiring of Reserve Component members into the federal workforce.
“Members of our Reserve Components serve honorably, whether or not they are called for deployment,” said Donnelly. “Yet currently, some members of the Reserve Components cannot qualify to access preference points when applying for federal employment. They have already demonstrated their commitment to public service by joining the Reserve Components, and it is important that we support their pursuit of federal employment opportunities.  This approach balances the respect for veterans who qualify for a 5-point preference with recognizing the contributions of Guard members and Reservists.”
“It is our patriotic duty to ensure our men and women in uniform receive the benefits and recognition they deserve for their sacrifices to defend our nation's freedom,” said Senator Cruz.  “I am proud to cosponsor Sen. Donnelly's bill, which recognizes the invaluable contributions our military reserves and National Guard make to our national security through this overdue reform of hiring preferences by the federal government.”
“I believe that if someone wears the uniform for our country, they should be given preference in federal hiring decisions,” said Senator Leahy, co-chair of the Senate National Guard Caucus and a senior member of the Senate’s defense appropriations subcommittee. “For our currently serving reservists, I think federal employment gives them a great opportunity to find a stable position in the workforce that allows them to drill, train, and deploy with their reserve unit when called to duty. In other words, I see this bill as a win for military readiness.”
Members of the Reserve Components do not qualify for veterans’ preference if they have only served in a training capacity and have never been deployed.  The National Guard Bureau estimates that approximately 159,400 Army National Guard soldiers (44 percent of the total force) and 73,700 Air National Guard airmen (70 percent of the total force) serve without having qualified for veterans’ preference. 
The Military Reserve Jobs Act would close the gap for Reserve Component members who may not qualify for veterans’ preference points and would promote hiring of Reserve Component members into the federal workforce.  The bill would implement a tiered “Military Reserve” hiring preference for members of the Reserve Components who do not otherwise qualify for preference under existing laws.  Under the bill, a qualified member of the reserve component would be able to claim a 3-point, 4-point, or 5-point preference depending on their length of service.
Congressman Tim Walz (MN-1) is introducing a bill with similar provisions in the House of Representatives.

The tiered system in the legislation would work as follows:
Tier I
A member of the reserve component may claim a 3-point Military Reserve preference when they have met each of the following requirements:
1.      Successfully completed basic military training or officer candidate training
2.      Has incurred a 6-year commitment with a reserve component
Tier II
A member of the reserve component may claim a 4-point Military Reserve preference when they have met each of the following requirements:
1.      Has completed 10-years of satisfactory service (earned a minimum of 50 retirement points per year) with a reserve component
2.      Continues to serve within a reserve component
Tier III
A Reserve Component member who retires after 20 or more years of service, but is not yet receiving a retirement annuity, may claim a 5-point Military Reserve preference.
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Read more: Donnelly Introduces the Military Reserve Jobs Act of 2013


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Region News Team
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