South Shore CVA Celebrates 30th Anniversary in July

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Throughout the month of July, the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority will be celebrating its 30th anniversary. During a recent Region News Makers interview, South Shore CVA President and CEO Speros Batistatos says it was on this day 30 years ago the South Shore CVA was created by state code in 1983, in response to the second worst recession in history, to pursue hospitality and get public input to help leverage private investment. Batistatos says they plan to have a lot of fun with the 30th anniversary, like identifying 30 careers and 30 influential people in tourism, 30 stops in 30 days with their Tour Mobile that will travel throughout the South Shore, and much more.
To hear more of our Region Newsmakers interview South Shore CVA President and C-E-O Speros Batistatos, visit and for more information on the South Shore CVA, visit

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CP Zoning Board to Hear Petition for Proposed Cell Tower

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The Crown Point Board of Zoning Appeals is scheduled to hear a petition later this month, July 22nd, from a Warsaw based company about putting up a 175-foot cell tower on a site in a residential zone. The cell tower would be located in the 12-hundred block of South Indiana Avenue, and would be near a senior living complex, who has objected to the proposed structure.

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Region Gas Prices Continue to Fall

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Gas prices continue to take less of a toll on the wallets of Hoosiers. According to Triple-A's fuel gauge report, a gallon of regular unleaded is averaging three-dollars-46-cents in the Gary metropolitan area, down 21-cents from last week, and down 39-cents from a month ago. The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded for the state of Indiana is three-dollars-41-cents, a 34-cent difference from the Illinois average of three-dollars-75-cents.
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US Marshals Fugitive of the Week: Carl Robinson

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Carl Robinson
(Photo Courtesy of the US Marshals, Great Lakes Task Force)
A 41 year old wanted in Lake County Court for dealing cocaine, maintaining a common nuisance, and possession of marijuana has been named this weeks “Fugitive of the Week” by the US Marshals Service, Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force in Hammond. Carl Robinson is described as a six-foot tall black male, weighing 250-pounds, with black hair and brown eyes, with a scar on his nose and near his left eye. Authorities report Robinson was last known to reside in the 39-hundred block of Guthrie Street in East Chicago, that he frequents the areas of East Chicago, and possibly fled the state.  Anyone with information on Carl Robinson's whereabouts may contact task force investigators by calling toll-free (888) 805-6119 or by texting “capture” to Tip411 (847411). All tipsters will remain anonymous.
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IN Ranks 25th Out of 30 States for Beachwater Quality

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Indiana ranked 25th out of thirty states for beachwater quality according to a recently-released report from the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Testing the Waters” looked at the rate and reasons for beach closures, and frequency of water quality testing, and levels of bacteria . Jeorse Park Beach in East Chicago landed on their list of “Repeat Offenders”. To view the report, visit
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Special Emergency Siren Test in LaPorte County

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Well if you hear sirens going off in LaPorte County this morning, don't's just a test. LaPorte County Emergency Management reports they will be conducting a special siren test at 11am.
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Gary Clean Water Celebration

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City of Gary
A press conference will be held this Saturday morning to kick off the City of Gary's Clean Water Celebration. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson will be joined by representatives of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Department of Natural Resources for an award presentation to the Gary Storm Water Management District, while discussing Gary's advances in storm water management. The press conference is scheduled for 11am Saturday, at Marquette Park, Shelter Number 5, near the lagoon.
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Kindergarten Countdown Camp Prepares Kids in Knox

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starke kindergarten countdown lr
(Photo Courtesy of IU Health Starke Hospital)
KNOX, Ind.–Children in Knox received a jump start on kindergarten this summer thanks to a common goal aimed at helping at-risk kids transition successfully into school.
The Knox Community School Corporation, the United Way Starke United Fund and Indiana University Health Starke Hospital teamed up to offer Kindergarten Countdown—a program helping underserved children with the basic skills needed to succeed in kindergarten and meet Indiana educational standards later in life.
The free, four-week summer camp was held throughout June at Knox Elementary School. This was the third year Knox schools participated in Kindergarten Countdown.
Peggy Shidaker, director of curriculum/instruction for Knox schools, said the program especially connects to Knox’s current 33 percent of children who have had no preschool experience.
“All research lately has shown that children from low-income or underserved families who have not had preschool experience tend to score below their peers from higher-income families in literacy and math development as well as in social skills. They do not have the readiness skills needed and these children tend to never catch up with their peers unless there is some type of intervention, such as Kindergarten Countdown,” she said.
Shidaker added, “This was a great transitional program to help those students. At Knox, we do whatever it takes to reach out to students and their families.”
Kindergarten teacher, Kim Ray, taught students during the half-day camp four days a week. Children learned hands-on developmental readiness and activities such as how to identify their names and their letters, identify shapes, count to 25 and general book knowledge. Even basic necessities such as locating their classroom and understanding how the school day works will help create a smoother transition for students, program organizers said.
“We’ve had some really positive things happen here over the last four weeks,” Ray said. “Parents are happy that their children are socializing around other children. This will really help when they enter school in the fall.”
IU Health Starke Hospital coordinated a book drive earlier this summer, providing 320 books to Kindergarten Countdown. Each of the 18 campers received one book per day through the program.
“IU Health supports this program statewide,” said Laura Gould, community outreach coordinator for IU Health La Porte and Starke hospitals. “We understand that kindergarten is a fundamental stepping stone in the journey toward literacy and education.”
Hospital colleagues also volunteered for the program, and donated T-shirts for students to wear for the first day of school this fall. Children also received backpacks from Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
Shidaker, an educator for the past 35 years, found the benefits of the program too great to be measured. “When I walk into a classroom and see children naming letters or making sounds of the letters—especially since they didn’t have that knowledge before they entered the program—you can’t put that kind of progress into any kind of data.”
IU Starke Hospital
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Portage FD Presents Bicycle Safety Day

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Portage Fire Dept. 2
The Portage Fire Department today, with support from Portage Kiwanis, Porter Hospital, and Portage Firefighters Local 31-51, will be hosting “Bicycle Safety Day” at Willowcreek Middle School from 9 to noon. Portage Assistant Fire Chief Dan Kodicek says kids are taught things like what a stop sign and one-way sign mean, how to cross railroad crossings, and to look both ways. Free bicycle helmets will be available for children while supplies last.
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Gypsy Moth Found on Purdue West Lafayette Campus

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Indiana DNR
An infestation of the exotic European gypsy moth has been identified on Purdue University’s campus in West Lafayette.
Gypsy moth caterpillars feed on the leaves of more than 300 different tree species, but prefer oaks. Indiana has more than 4 million acres of forest, 40 percent of which is oaks. Another 40 percent is other hardwoods – maple and hickory – which are second among gypsy moth’s preferred trees.
Outbreaks of the pest can cause heavy defoliation, which can stress and eventually kill host trees. The hairs on caterpillars also can cause skin irritation and respiratory allergies in humans.
Gypsy moth is now found in nine quarantined northern Indiana counties. The DNR Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology has surveyed for gypsy moth since the mid 1970s. Since 2000, Indiana has participated in the multi-state Slow the Spread (STS) program, which detects and treats infestations.
This infestation falls well outside of the STS program area; however, the DNR will place these sites in its eradication program and plan treatments for spring 2014.
The infestation was discovered by a professor in the Purdue Entomology department. The origin of this infestation is unknown.
Officials from the DNR have placed burlap bands around selected trees to capture caterpillars, and installed tan-colored delta traps and green milk-carton traps in and around the infested area to capture gypsy moths. The public is asked not to tamper with either, to report any that have been knocked down, and to direct questions to DNR at (317) 232-4120. Survey crews will remove burlap bands by mid-July.
Gypsy moth egg masses, which resemble buff-colored, flattened, fuzzy patches about the size of a quarter, can be found on firewood and recreational vehicles. Campers and travelers from northern Indiana counties quarantined for gypsy moth are advised not to move firewood and to thoroughly check all camping equipment and vehicles for egg masses before traveling.
Found egg masses should be scraped into a bucket of soapy water.
More information about gypsy moth is at, the Gypsy Moth Slow The Spread website (, and the Purdue University Gypsy Moth Extension website (
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Indiana Files Lawsuit Against Standard and Poor's

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Indiana OAG Official Seal
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller filed a state lawsuit, on behalf of Secretary of State Connie Lawson’s office, against Standard & Poor’s for allegedly putting profits and market share above its objectivity when rating structured finance securities.
As the lawyer for state government, Zoeller filed the action in Marion County on behalf of the Indiana Secretary of State’s office and Securities Commissioner Chris Naylor. This lawsuit is part of a joint effort by more than a dozen states and the U.S. Department of Justice, all of which have filed complaints against S&P for alleged misconduct involving its analysis of toxic mortgage-backed securities.
“Investment banks, investors and regulators look to the nation’s credit rating agencies to independently rate the risks of financial products,” Zoeller said. “Leading up to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Standard and Poor’s made promises of objectivity but misled investors into purchasing financial products – like mortgage-backed securities – that they might not otherwise have invested in. The State, through its securities enforcement statutes, is committed to taking strong legal action against those that wrongfully mislead investors.”
Zoeller said S&P is paid lucrative fees for rating its clients’ securities which are packaged and sold on Wall Street. The complaint alleges that S&P adjusted its analytical models for rating residential mortgage-backed securities and other structured finance securities to achieve the ratings that its clients desired.
Indiana’s complaint does not challenge S&P’s ratings of Indiana’s state and municipal securities. The complaint alleges McGraw Hill Financial, Inc. and its subsidiary Standard & Poor’s Financial Services, LLC violated the Indiana Uniform Securities Act by misrepresenting the objectivity and independence of its rating process with respect to certain structured-finance securities. The lawsuit primarily seeks injunctive relief to force S&P to comply with Indiana securities laws and civil penalties.
“I believe S&P intentionally misled the marketplace at a time when our country needed accurate information the most,” Lawson said. “Through enforcing Indiana’s securities law, we plan to hold S&P accountable for its actions. Both retail and institutional investors deserve accurate, independent and objective ratings when investing and we cannot have companies defrauding the marketplace in the pursuit of ill-gotten gains.”
According to the lawsuit, the company intentionally misrepresented that its analysis of structured finance securities was objective, independent and not influenced by its clients’ financial interests from about 2004 to 2012. However, by 2001 the company’s “…desire to maximize revenue and market share by rating as many structured finance deals as possible led S&P to cater to the preferences of large investment banks and other repeat issuers of structured finance securities that dominated S&P’s revenue base.”
Zoeller said other states may also file lawsuits against the company for misleading investors while emphasizing its independent and objective ratings process.
Zoeller and Lawson thanked Deputy Attorney General Lisa Wolf and Securities Division Litigation Counsel Matthew Allen for their work on this case.
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15 Yr Sentence for Man for Sexual Misconduct with a Minor

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A Porter County man received a 15 year prison sentence on Friday on a charge of felony sexual misconduct with a minor. Alex Coronado, of Center Township, pleaded guilty, and in return had two counts of child molesting dropped. According to the victim, the over 50 incidents took place over a three year period beginning when she was younger than 14 years old.
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Pence Staff Deletes Gay Marriage Posts on Facebook

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Indiana Governor Mike Pence today admitted on Facebook that his staff deleted comments from his official Facebook page from Hoosiers who disagree the Republican stance to add a ban to gay marriage to the state constitution. Governor Pence stated he regrets the incident occurred and apologized to all affected, adding “In agreement or disagreement, I respect the opinions and freedoms of all the people in Indiana.” Published reports say Pence initially claimed on Thursday that only abusive comments were removed. To view the entire statement issued by Governor Pence, click
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Brandye Hendrickson Named Interim INDOT Commissioner

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Indianapolis—Governor Mike Pence today named Brandye Hendrickson as Interim Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Transportation, effective today.
Hendrickson has served as the Deputy Commissioner of the Greenfield District since 2007. Her responsibilities include the management of an annual construction budget of approximately $250 million and an annual operating budget of $48 million. Hendrickson oversees a workforce of 535 employees responsible for the planning, design, construction, maintenance and operation of INDOT’s transportation infrastructure within the district.
“I am confident that Brandye Hendrickson will lead INDOT in this interim period with skill and integrity,” said Governor Pence.
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Special Emergency Siren Test in LaPorte County Saturday

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Well if you hear sirens going off in LaPorte County tomorrow morning, don't's just a test. LaPorte County Emergency Management reports they will be conducting a special siren test at 11am.
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Merrillville Family's Home Burns Due to Candle During Outage

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A family of nine using a candle during a power outage are now in temporary housing after it accidentally set their house on fire earlier this morning. The Times reports fire crews were called out around 1:30am to the 37-hundred block of West 75th Avenue in Merrillville. No injuries were reported. NIPSCO says an additional 28-thousand customers in their service territory lost electricity due to another of storms Thursday night, this on top of the 105-thousand customers impacted by severe storms since earlier this week.
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Read more: Merrillville Family's Home Burns Due to Candle During Outage


Fatal Crash in Hebron Kills Griffith Man Update

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A fatal crash that resulted in the death of a 24 year old Griffith man remains under investigation. The Lake County Coroner's Office reports Isaac Salazar suffered blunt force trauma to the head as the result of a motor vehicle accident in Hebron, at 157th and Hancock Street, around 7:30 this morning. The Lake County Sheriff's Office reports the initial investigation revealed Salazar's vehicle left the roadway, struck a wooden bridge and flipped into a ditch, landing on its roof, submerging the vehicle in approximately three-feet of water. Authorities say speed is likely a contributing factor in this crash and that alcohol and substance testing are pending.
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Prestigious Sagamore Presented to Bruce Leetz

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Sagamore 143
(Photo Courtesy of Senator Charbonneau's Office)
STATEHOUSE (June 28, 2013) — On Thursday, State Senator Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) along with other elected officials had the privilege of presenting Indiana Beverage CEO Bruce Leetz with the Sagamore of the Wabash Award on behalf of Governor Mike Pence. The Sagamore is the highest honor that the governor can bestow and is only presented to distinguished Hoosiers who have made incredible contributions to the state. This month celebrates Leetz’s 50th year in business, creating countless jobs in Northwest Indiana.
“He is the epitome of what the award stands for,” said State Senator Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso).  “In addition to his success in business, Bruce personifies the term ‘gentleman.’ His achievements and contributions are products of his character.”
Leetz began working at Valpo Beverages in 1963 and was later appointed president in 1970. As the company expanded, increasing its distribution from Porter County to seven total counties, Valpo Beverages changed its name to North Coast Distributing and appointed Leetz as CEO. Under Leetz, the company continued to expand, employing more Hoosiers, and in 2012, merged with Indiana Beer to become Indiana Beverage.
Dating back to the mid-1940s, the Sagamore Award was created by Governor Ralph Gates. The term “sagamore,” used by the Northeastern United States Native American Tribes, refers to a great man that the tribal chief would look to for wisdom and advice. The award is the highest honor that the governor can bestow and is presented to Hoosiers who have rendered distinguished service to the state, contributing greatly to Indiana’s rich heritage.
“This honor is so well deserved. We are pleased to see Bruce properly recognized for his contribution to the industry and to our community,” said Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas.
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Husband and Wife Airlifted from I-65 Crash

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DeMotte I-65 crash
(Photo Courtesy of the Indiana State Police Lowell Post)
A husband and wife were airlifted to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after a crash just before 10am this morning on northbound I-65. Indiana State Police Lowell Post report a preliminary investigation revealed a pick up driven by a 66 year old DeMotte man left the roadway, about four-miles south of the DeMotte/Roselawn exit, then came back onto the roadway in the right lane, then entered the left lane and hit another pick up driven by a 53 year old Alabama woman. Authorities say that impact caused the Alabama woman's vehicle to veer off the road onto the median, where struck the concrete median barrier wall. State Police report I-65 had to be closed for a time for the landing of the helicopter that flew the Alabama woman and her 68 year old husband to Indianapolis with non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the other pickup that caused the crash suffered minor injuries.
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Griffith Man Dies as Result of Car Accident in Hebron

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A 24 year old Griffith man has died as the result of a motor vehicle accident this morning in Hebron. The Lake County Coroner's Office reports Isaac Salazar suffered blunt force trauma to the head in the accident that occurred at 157th and Hancock Street after 7:30 this morning. No further information regarding what caused the accident is available at this time.
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Read more: Griffith Man Dies as Result of Car Accident in Hebron


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