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Driver's Ed for Valpo's Newest Roundabout

5 Points Roundabout Rendering
[Image/courtesy City of Valparaiso]
Valparaiso residents who might be a little uneasy about taking a spin through the city's newest and most high-profile roundabout –Five Points at Calumet Avenue, Vale Park and Roosevelt Roads– the city wants to help. Redevelopment Commission Executive Director Stu Summers' family runs a local driving school, Excel Driving School in Valparaiso, that he says is offering some free training for adult motorists next month as a public service to the community.  "The student will come to the office and spend about a half hour doing some paperwork, signing some releases and watching the video on how to drive a roundabout, and then a professional driving instructor will meet them in a driver-ed car, " Summers said, taking the motorist through the roundabout at Cumberland Crossing then the new one that's opening at Vale Park on the north side of the city.
A ten-minute video on driving a roundabout is also available at the city's website:

Indiana State Police Urge Motorists to Buckle Up

Indiana State Police want you to buckle up, not just for Thanksgiving travel, for for whenever and wherever you travel.  "It's the best way to protect yourself against injury in a crash as well as your loved ones, " said Indiana State Police Trooper Glen Fifield. Trooper Fifield says it's also important that parents have a properly-installed child safety or booster seat, and for more information you can visit for a list of locations and a toll-free number to speak with experts about proper installation.  
You'll be seeing officers taking part in high-visibility patrols as we're entering the holiday season. In an effort to make the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday travel period safer, the Indiana State Police are joining approximately 250 other law enforcement agencies statewide in participating in the annual Safe Family Travel campaign which began Friday, November 8th and runs through Sunday, December 1.  The Indiana State Police will be conducting enforcement efforts including sobriety check points and saturation patrols targeting impaired drivers and unrestrained motorists.
Officials say in 2012, alcohol-impaired driving in Indiana was linked to 150 fatalities (increase from 140 fatalities in 2011) and 2,112 injuries. Alcohol-impaired collisions were less than 3 percent of all Indiana crashes, but accounted for 20.3 percent of Indiana 779 traffic fatalities in 2012.   Indiana State Police also say roughly six out of ten fatalities in alcohol-impaired collisions were the impaired driver from 2008 to 2012. Approximately 80 percent of serious fatal and incapacitating injuries from alcohol-impaired collisions occurring during the 2008-2012 period were suffered by impaired drivers and their passengers.

Indiana State Police ask everyone to help make the Thanksgiving Holiday travel period safe by observing the following safety rules:

 If you are planning to travel make sure you are well rested, a fatigued driver is a dangerous driver
 Avoid tailgating; remember the two-second rule
 Make sure everyone is buckled up
 Put down the electronic devices and drive
 MOVE OVER - SLOW DOWN for emergency and highway service vehicles...

Portage to Offer Auto-Calls for Emergencies and More

In Portage, the city has approved offering a new auto-call system that'll get the word out to residents via phone, text, and email. The messaging is expected to be operational next month. There will be no cost to use it, and residents who don't want it can opt out. The system can be used to send emergency info like severe weather warnings or a broken water line notification to information like a change in garbage pickup, and residents will be able to choose what they want to be notified about....

South Shore to St John by 2023?

Region commuters could be catching the South Shore train in south Lake County by 2023 – within about a decade – according to a preliminary report. The first phase of the West Lake extension would stop in St. John, with an eye toward Lowell later. The investment plan being discussed by Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District also looks at enhancements to the current line, like replacing cars, and improvements to stations here in the Region.  In other NICTD news, members of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District Executive Board have voted to ban e-cigarettes on all trains. Smoking is already prohibited on all trains along the South Shore line. ...

Lake Effect Expected to Impact the Region

[Image/Chicago National Weather Service]
A lake effect snow event is expected to impact the Region just as holiday travelers may be taking to major highways for Thanksgiving travel. Forecasters with the National Weather Service says lake effect snow is likely especially the further east you go in Northwest Indiana, into Porter and especially La Porte County, including the Indiana Toll Road and Interstate 94, starting tonight and continuing through Wednesday.   Currently we have Lake Effect Snow Watches posted tonight through Wednesday for Porter and Starke Counties, with a Lake Effect Snow Warning for La Porte County tonight through Wednesday.
Chicago National Weather Service:    
Northern Indiana National Weather Service:


Man Sentenced to Life Without Parole

In Lake County court, a Gary man has been sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in the death of a Griffith woman in April 2011. Last month, a jury convicted 40-year-old Robert Lewis the third of charges that included murder and murder during the perpetration of criminal deviate conduct. Authorities say 37-year-old Jennifer Kocsis, a former teacher in Hammond and Whiting, agreed to give Lewis a ride from a restaurant. Her body was found by schoolchildren the next morning behind the former Riley Elementary School building at 43rd and Ohio Street in Gary. ...

Numerous Spin-outs and Crashes Due to Icy Roads

Late Monday afternoon rush hour drivers encountered icing road conditions all across northwest Indiana as area temperatures dipped below freezing. 
Dozens of traffic tipsters reported extremely hazardous conditions and spin-outs, including one eastbound on the Indiana Toll Rd. at the Broadway exit, which was moved to the left shoulder.
Icy roads may have contributed to a crash involving a semi and three other vehicles affecting the northbound lanes of Cline Avenue at the US 20/5th Avenue exit.  Emergency crews responded to a rollover wreck on US-231 at Montgomery Street just east of the intersection.
Shortly before 6:30p.m. CST reportedly a semi jackknifed blocking the left lane northbound I-65 just south of the US 231 Crown Point exit. 

Around the same time a traffic tipster reported that southbound State Road 49 was at a standstill just south of US Highway 6 and that traffic was moving about 20 mph.
A traveler from Virginia driving northbound on I-65 reported in on the Northwest Indiana Traffic Tip Hotline (219-405-7743) that she first encountered icy conditions just south of Winimac in the Fair Oaks area where she reportedly saw a police car in the ditch.  About the same time another driver reported that I-65 in the same area was nothing but a sheet of ice.
A public service worker on the way to her police job called in to say that the Broadway overpass over I-94 was a sheet of ice in the Gary area and that it took her 10 minutes to make it over it and she said cars attempting to cross were spinning out with no traction.
INDOT has dispatched their entire fleet of trucks to salt all the major expressways and area roads.  Drivers are being urged to stay off of area roads as travel is extremely hazardous, if not impossible in some areas....

Merrillville Rotary Club Donates Turkeys for Holidays

st clare 1
(Photos Courtesy of Franciscan Alliance)
Thanksgiving turkeys were recently purchased for 40 area families by the Merrillville Rotary Club. Franciscan Alliance reports club members raised nearly four-hundred dollars for the turkeys, which were purchased at a Strack and Van Til store in Crown Point and club members Ralph Neff and Brian Popp offered to match and double the donation, which was made to St Clare health Clinic in Crown Point today.
st clare 2 ...

Gary Man Found Guilty for Rape of Elkhart Woman

A sentencing date of December 20th has been scheduled for a Gary man found guilty by a jury of raping an Elkhart woman. 42 year old Ronald Thompson was convicted of rape, criminal deviate conduct, battery, robbery and criminal confinement for the incident that occurred in August of 2012. Thompson had been accused of raping the woman at his Merrillville business after offering her a ride while she waited at the Gary Metro stop for a bus. Thompson was convicted in June for a similar assault on a Gary woman for criminal confinement, battery and sexual battery and sentenced in September to four years in prison....

Secretary of State: Be Smart Spenders!

Secretary of State
Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson wants Hoosiers to be more responsible with their money this holiday season and has offered useful tips on ways to save. Lawson says her office has put together a smart shopping guide and will be releasing helpful tips on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest over the next five-weeks.
Secretary Lawson’s Top Five Tips
1)      Don’t assume the best deals will be found on Black Friday or Cyber Monday.  Some items – like toys, brand-name TVs, and Christmas decorations – drop in price much closer to the holiday.  Exercise equipment, winter clothes, and international airfare prices drop in January and February.
2)      Beware of restocking fees!  You may have to pay for a returned item to be repackaged and replaced.  Some retailers charge up to 25 percent or more, so it’s important to check the retailer’s return policy.
3)      Don’t be afraid to ask for price adjustments.  Hold onto your receipts and watch ads to see if the items you’ve purchased drop in price.  Most stores will credit you the difference if you show them your receipt.
4)      Pay with cash or use a debit card.  When you run out of money, you’re done shopping.  If staying on budget is important to you, then leave the credit cards at home.
5)      Beware of  free holiday lunches or dinner investment seminars!   Scammers exploit emotions of loneliness during this time of year by providing free meals.
Secretary Lawson's office teaches Hoosiers about investment fraud and financial literacy through Indiana Investment Watch.  The education program is funded primarily from fines imposed on violators of securities laws.  Indiana Investment Watch has educational materials covering various types of fraud, as well as general financial literacy tools.  Workshops and outreach events held throughout the state provide more in-depth information on detecting and avoiding scams.  Secretary Lawson believes the most effective form of investor protection is investor education....


Cook County Coroner: Trotter Died Due to a Stroke

We now know what killed celebrity chef Charlie Trotter. Here's ABC News reports Trotter was known worldwide for his culinary expertise. Now the Cook County Medical Examiner in Chicago says Trotter died from a stroke related high blood pressure. He was only 54 years old. Trotter's wife has said he had an aneurysm months before he died and that he was taking medication for his blood pressure and cholesterol. ...

Tips to Help Families Prevent Home Burglaries

LapPorte County Sheriff logo - this one
The LaPorte County Sheriff's Office is offering the public some tips to help prevent your family from becoming burglary victims this holiday season. The Sheriff's Office reports would-be thieves take advantage of you being out-of-town, so to assist law enforcement in helping to prevent burglaries they ask you secure all doors and windows in your home. Authorities also suggest using automatic timers to turn on house lights and to stop mail or newspaper delivery if out-of-town for an extended period.
Other tips include:

- Have a neighbor/relative remove snow to give appearance as if someone is home
- Report suspicious activity to law enforcement IMMEDIATLEY
- Record serial numbers to ALL valuables, and keep the list of numbers hidden
- Do not place “big box items” or valuable item boxes at curb for recycling/garbage as this just advertises to potential thieves. Rather, break down boxes and/or turn boxes inside-out.

Having serial numbers to all electronics, weapons, and other valuables; greatly increases the probability of solving your case, should you become a victim.
The La Porte County Sheriff’s Department works hard to prevent burglaries, and solve those that do occur. Any civic organization that is interested in having a property crimes detective come and speak about this topic at greater length is asked to contact Sgt. Andy Hynek at 326-7700 Ext 2401....

Harvey Officer Shot Twice While on Robbery Call

A six-year veteran of the Harvey Police Department was in stable condition at last check and was scheduled to have surgery today after he was shot twice on Sunday night. Officials say Robert Rolfe was responding to a robbery call, at a store at West 159th and Wood Street, when he was shot. Investigators report a person of interest was being interviewed. ...

Possibilty of More Arrests in Wednesday's Shooting

alexander newton
(Photos Courtesy of Michigan City Police;
Above: Alexander Newton. Below: Isaac Newton)
Police in Michigan City report an investigation continues into two groups shooting at each other Wednesday afternoon, near the intersection of Vail Street and Michigan Boulevard, as numerous people were walking and a school bus with children were on the same block as the shots fired. Police report 21 year old Alexander Newton and 19 year old Isaac Newton have each been charged with criminal recklessness, carrying a handgun without a permit and resisting arrest. The 19 year old also faces a felony attempted battery charge. Police say there is a possibility of more arrests in the near future and thank the public for their support and help with this investigation.
isaac newton ...

Counterfeit $ Turning Up at Schererville Fast Food Stops

Schererville PD
In Schererville, police are advising employees to be aware of change you maybe receiving and to make sure for possible counterfeit bills. Commander Brian Neyhart says there have been five incidents of counterfeit bills being reported since Thursday and all of them have occurred at fast food restaurants. Commander Neyhart has the last two incidents occurred over the weekend at Culver's and Panera Bread. Neyhart says a ten dollar counterfeit bill was used at Panera bread and that counterfeit twenty-dollar bills have been used in the other incidents. The counterfeit money will be turned over to the Secret Service....

Westville Food Service Worker Arrested for Trafficking

Shelton Ranetta
(Photo Courtesy of the Westville Correctional Facility)
A food service worker at the Westville Correctional Facility was arrested Saturday at the facility for felony trafficking with an offender. 30 year old Ranetta Shelton, of Gary, was arrested after she was unable to successfully clear a search of her personal property when entering the facility. Westville officials report Shelton was just hired in September and an investigation continues to determine what charges or internal disciplinary action maybe taken with any offender or offenders allegedly involved. ...

No Injuries in Whiting House Fire

Fire crews responded to a house fire in Whiting that had part of 117th Street blocked off by fire hose early this morning. Crews responded to the structure fire on Central Avenue shortly before 4:30 am and cleared the scene by 9 am. Whiting Fire Chief Gus Danielides told the Region News Team there were no injuries, and the homeowner wasn't home when the fire broke out. Whiting crews were assisted by an engine from Hammond. Chief Danielides says the two-story wood-frame home on sustained severe fire damage on both levels. Cause and point of origin of the fire are not yet known. Siding melted on a house to the south, and to the north Chief Danielides says another home may have had some smoke damage....

219: 18 On Franklin Grand Opening

The Porter County Career Center Sports and Entertainment Marketing Class is inviting the public to check out the grand opening of their new endeavor "18 On Franklin." The small business will be run by students of the class as part of their grading for the semester. To find out more, listen to today's 219 on Demand here on our website.

Valpo Tree Lighting, 5-Points Roundabout Dedication

Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission Executive Director Stuart Summers and Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas just after the tree-lighting at Sunday's dedication ceremony for the new Five-Points Roundabout  [Photo/Laura Waluszko, Radio One Communications]
The windchill may have been in single-digits, but about fifty people came out for the dedication of Valparaiso's Five-Points roundabout late Sunday afternoon. Mayor Jon Costas, joined by other city officials, led the event, thanking the many who made the city's newest and most high-profile roundabout happen, and invited kids there to help throw the wireless switch for the tree-lighting, but before that he had these words of advice for motorists. "One thing I want to say about driving the roundabout," Mayor Costas said, " It's a slow dance, there's a rhythm to it, and if everybody enters it slowly and they realize it's a dance, it works really great" 

Here's the tree lighting:

That 25-foot tree in the center of the roundabout was re-transplanted from a city park, because the tree had to be moved from his current location. That tree is one of the trees in downtown Valpo back in the 1980s decorated during the holiday season and later planted in city parks.  Last month, the city moved the Norway Spruce from Forest Park because she was in the way of a path being built and the city moved her to her new permanent home at the island at the roundabout rather than lose the tree.

The roundabout just needs to be striped, which may happen today or tomorrow, and it's expected to be fully open by Thanksgiving. To help ease anxieties residents may have, there is a new 10-minute video on roundabout driving at the city's website. For adults who want additional instruction, Redevelopment Commission Executive Director Stu Summers says his family operates Excel Driving Instruction, and some free training sessions on roundabout driving are being made available in December as a public service to the community. One of their instructors will take an individual through two roundabouts, including the new one, in a driver-ed car, then bring them back to the driving school.
To view the instructional video click here:


Police say Jail Escapee Turns Himself In

Authorities say a Gary man who escaped while being transported to the Lake County Jail Friday turned himself in at the Gary Public Safety Facility shortly before noon Saturday. About 24-hours earlier, police say 21-year-old Jamal Haskins attacked two police officers at the transport van outside Gary City Court and fled. Officials say Haskins had just been sentenced to one year in jail for failing to comply with a program that allows mentally ill defendants to avoid prosecution if they get treatment. Both the injured officers with Gary Police were taken to a local hospital, with injuries that were not considered life-threatening....

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