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Hammond Fire Update: Father to Survive, Kids Doing Well

hammond house fire 1
(Photo Courtesy of Karl Berner)
An investigation continues into a house fire in Hammond Wednesday night in the 600 block of Sibley Street that left three young children dead and three others injured. Hammond Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Margraf says they got word today that the 28 year old father, who was able to save the two other children in the home and reportedly had suffered third-degree burns, will survive and the two children who were also hospitalized are doing well.
A preliminary investigation points to two space heaters being a factor in the fire. Hammond Chief Fire Inspector, Michael Opinker told the Region News Team on Thursday that at least one space heater was connected to a propane tank and was being used to heat the lower level of the home, which had no electricity or gas. ...

Hammond FD Recipient of FEMA SAFER Grant

Indiana US Senator Joe Donnelly today announced that the Hammond Fire Department is one of three in the state to receive FEMA's Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response, or SAFER, grants. According to the press release, the Hammond Fire Department will receive 965-thousand dollars. Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Margraf says they are very grateful to be awarded a grant of this magnitude.
Donnelly said, “Indiana’s firemen and women are some of the bravest and hardest working members of our community. I am proud to see these departments receive the federal support they need. This grant money will help them serve their communities much more safely and efficiently by allowing them to hire additional fire fighters. These men and women put their lives on the line every day, and they deserve our support.”
The SAFER grant program was created to increase the number of trained fire fighters available to communities in need. More information about these competitive grants can be found at
For more information on how Senator Donnelly’s office can assist groups applying for federal grants, please visit

Car Fire in Valpo Wal-Mart Parking Lot

Car Fire at Wal-Mart re
Fire crews from the Valparaiso Fire Department are on the scene of a car fire that was first reported around 2 p.m. Friday afternoon in the parking lot of the Wal-Mart located at 2400 Morthland Dr. No one was reported inside the vehicle at the time of the fire. 
Traffic tipsters reported that black smoke from the fire could been seen from some distance and attracted a lot of curious on- lookers.

(photo/Radio One Communications)


Jackknifed Semi Blocking Left Lanes NB I-65

01-10-14  Jackknifed semi I-65
Crews are on the scene of a crash reportedly involving a pick up truck and a jackknifed semi truck in Merrillville. INDOT is reporting that the two left lanes northbound I-65 are blocked at this time between 101st Avenue and US 30. 
Tipsters are reporting traffic backed up to US 231 the Crown Point exit with a gapers slowdown SB I-65 from US-30.  
Drivers should seek an alternate route including US231 to State Rd. 55/Broadway or 109th Avenue to Colorado Street to US30 back to I-65, or 109th Avenue to Broadway to US30 back to I-65.



Semi Hits Car on State Road 2 West, Flees the Scene

LaPorte PD
Police in LaPorte are investigating a hit-and-run accident involving a car and semi that occurred just after 5pm Thursday in the 13-hundred block of State Road 2 West. LaPorte Police say the victim informed officers he was driving west on State Road 2, in the outside lane, with a semi traveling next to him on the inside lane, when as they neared the entrance to Kabelin's Ace Hardware the semi allegedly started to make a right turn into his path of travel and the trailer struck the front driver's side of his vehicle. Police report the impact sent the victim's vehicle into a snow bank and that the semi continued into the lot of Ace Hardware and then left the scene. No injuries were reported and anyone with any information regarding this incident is asked to contact the LaPorte Police Department at 362-9446 and you can remain anonymous.  ...

Highway Avenue in Highland Reopened to Motorists

Highland PD
The 28-hundred block of Highway Avenue in Highland, from Kennedy Avenue to 4th Street has been reopened to motorists this afternoon after heavy snow accumulated on the front canopy of Bibles for Missions, causing the canopy and the front facade of the storefront to collapse on the sidewalk in front of the building. Highland Police Commander George Georgeff says pedestrian traffic on the north side of the 28-hundred block of Highway Avenue have been blocked off in front of those businesses.
Commander Georgeff says they have made contact with some other building owners who are now in the process of removing snow from the canopies in front of their businesses. He also recommends anyone with a flat roof in Lake County should consider addressing any large amounts of snow as the rain could add weight and compromise buildings that are not structurally sound. The incident occurred around 10am this morning....

Heavy Snow Causes Structural Collapse in Highland

Highland Police say due to a major structural collapse this morning at 2821 Highway Avenue, Bibles for Missions, the 28-hundred block of Highway Avenue from Kennedy Avenue to 4th Street will be closed.  Police say initial indications are that heavy snow accumulating on the front canopy of the building caused the canopy and front facade to collapse.  There were no injuries reported due to the collapse, authorities say.  The Highland Police Department, Fire Department and Public Works Department have responded to the scene....

Many Provide Help During Winter Storm

Region residents have been reaching out to express their thanks to the many, many in northwest Indiana who spent long hours helping others, making repairs, plowing roads, coming to rescues, getting to their jobs as police officers, fire crews, doctors, nurses, emergency responders, veterinarians, utility workers, and more during the winter storm and the 'polar vortex' that moved in afterwards. Here's an email we received we wanted to pass along... "My mom was locked out of her apartment on Sunday. I could not get there so we called the Valparaiso police department and they came to the rescue!! They came to my house to get my keys and brought them to her. In the confusion I did not get the officers name but both my mom and I would like to give him a big thank you!!! Sincerely, Lorna" ...

New Lake Central HS Academic Wing Opens

In St. John, a delayed introduction to the new three-story classroom addition at Lake Central High School. After Christmas break, school was out a couple days due to the winter storm. The school district is scheduled to host an open house for the community February 9. The school corporation broke ground in August 2012 for extensive renovations at the high school. Officials said construction would be completed in phases so the existing high school could continue to function, with new sections being built and old ones demolished over a three-year period until the work is completed in 2015.  Together with replacing Protsman Elementary School, the district is investing 160- million dollars to enlarge and update school facilities, funded by bonds approved by taxpayers in a referendum in November 2011. School officials said the high school renovation was prompted by aging infrastructure in the 1964 core of the building and overcrowding due to dramatic enrollment growth. In 2011, they say twenty teachers taught in portable classrooms....

Mechanical Problems Delay South Shore

Mechanical problems were delaying the South Shore commute for some riders up to an hour this morning.  For updates from Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD):

AUDIO: Polar Vortex Effect on Region Fruit Trees

The so-called Polar Vortex that just exited the Region will likely have an effect this year's fruit crops in Indiana, says Lake County Purdue Extension Educator Nikky Witkowski, who spoke to our Jay Stevens.  Most apple and pear trees in the Region are able to endure a zone five winter even with this season's below zero temperatures, but Witkowski says peach trees are less tolerant. There are also differences between the different varieties.  Witkowski also says the majority of the Region's blackberry and blueberry plants should be okay as the ample snow cover can actually insulate plants from the cold temperatures. Witkowski also says there are steps that can be taken once the warmer weather arrives. To hear the interview visit News Audio on Demand here at our website....

Increasing Flood Potential in the Region

The National Weather Service in Chicago this morning said flooding is not a certainty at this time... but the potential does exist. Rainfall amounts of half to three-quarters of an inch are expected in the Region this afternoon through tonight. Forecasters say the current snow pack across northern illinois and northwest Indiana ranges in depth from 6 to 14 inches, with the water equivalent of the snow pack estimated between 1 and 2 inches. A combination of snow melt, rainfall, and frozen ground may result in rises on area streams with the potential for flooding along some rivers....

Pothole Problems Possible

pothole graphic
As temps rise in the Region, so does the possibility of potholes. Weather experts say Region residents can expect a high threat of potholes forming as the temperatures of road pavement also go above freezing, causing it to contract. When water freezes, it expands and forces the pavement upwards. Additionally, rain and melting snow today could fill potholes with water, masking them to look like puddles. See the above graphic from the US National Weather Service in Chicago explaining the pothole process at ...

Severe Winter Weather Impacts Blood Donations

As severe winter weather begins to subside, the American Red Cross is asking all eligible blood and platelet donors to help offset a weather-related shortfall in donations. Approximately 280 blood drives across 25 states were canceled across the U.S. due to snow and extreme cold. The blood drive cancellations resulted in a shortfall of nearly 8, 400 blood and platelet donations since Jan. 2.  In Northern Indiana, severe winter weather forced the cancellation of more than 30 Red Cross blood drives, resulting about significantly fewer than expected blood and platelet donations over the past four days.
“It’s the blood products already on the shelves that help save lives when severe weather hits,” said Sharyn Whitman, CEO of the Red Cross Indiana-Ohio Blood Services Region. “Thanks to generous Red Cross blood and platelet donors, blood products were available for patients who still needed transfusions despite the weather. Now we invite those previously ‘frozen out’ from giving blood or platelets to come in soon.”
Platelet donors, as well as blood donors with the most in-demand blood types — O positive and negative, A negative and B negative — are urgently needed to give blood in the days and weeks ahead to offset the shortfall.
Platelets, a key clotting component of blood often needed by cancer patients, must be transfused within five days of donation, so donations are constantly needed. Red blood cells, the oxygen carrying component of blood, are the most widely transfused blood product and must be transfused within 42 days.
Upcoming blood donation opportunities:
Friday, Jan. 17, from 1:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Portage in the Fellowship Hall, located at 2637 McCool Road in Portage.
Monday, Jan. 20, from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. at St. Teresa of Avila in the Catholic Student Center, located at 1604 Lincolnway in Valparaiso.
Tuesday, Jan. 21, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. at Opportunity Enterprises in the Meeting Room, located at 2801 Evans Ave. in Valparaiso.
Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 1:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. at Kouts High School in the gymnasium foyer, located at 302 E. College Ave. in Kouts.
Wednesday, Jan. 22, from 12:30 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. at Portage Christian School, located at 3040 Arlene St. in Portage.  This is a Pint Size Heroes blood drive.
Friday, Jan. 24, from 11:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. at the YMCA of Portage, located at 3100 Willowcreek Road in Portage.
Friday, Jan. 24, from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in the Cafeteria, located at 1600 Roosevelt Road in Valparaiso.  Come to donate at this Future Blood Donors blood drive and receive an American Red Cross water bottle.
Saturday, Jan. 25, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Walmart, located at 2400 Morthland Drive in Valparaiso.
Wednesday, Jan. 29, from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. at Hebron Elementary School in the Cafeteria, located at 307 S. Main St. in Hebron.  This is a Pint Size Heroes blood drive.
Thursday, Jan. 30, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at South Haven Elementary School in the gymnasium, located at 395 Midway Drive in Valparaiso.  This is a Pint Size Heroes blood drive.
Thursday, Jan. 30, from 9 a.m. until noon at Lakeside Wealth Management, located at 407 W. Indiana Ave. in Chesterton.
Thursday, Jan. 30, from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. at Indiana Furniture and Mattress, located at 1807 E. Lincolnway in Valparaiso.
Thursday, Jan. 30, from 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at Wheeler High School in the gymnasium, located at 587 West 300 North in Valparaiso.
Friday, Jan. 31, from 10 a.m. until noon at Addison Pointe Health and Rehabilitation Center, located at 780 Dickinson Road in Chesterton.
How to donate blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit to make an appointment or for more information. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides  international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross....

Gary Mayor Appointed Vice Chair of Natl Committee

KFW hi res in Blue
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has been appointed vice chair of the National League of Cities (NLC) 2014 Public Safety & Crime Prevention Steering Committee. The committee has the lead responsibility for developing NLC federal policy positions on issues involving crime prevention, corrections, substance abuse, municipal fire policy, juvenile justice, disaster preparedness and relief, homeland security, domestic terrorism, court systems and gun control. The appointment was announced by NLC President Chris Coleman, mayor, St. Paul, Minn.  “I am honored to serve in this very important role,” said Freeman-Wilson. “I will be working alongside knowledgeable colleagues where we will share ideas and experiences that will ultimately elevate public safety and crime prevention in our respective communities.”
As vice chair of the committee, Freeman-Wilson will play a key role in shaping NLC’s policy positions and advocate on behalf of America’s cities and towns before Congress, with the Administration and at home.  The chair of this year’s Public Safety & Crime Prevention Steering Committee is Scott Somers, councilmember, Mesa, Ariz. Serving with Freeman-Wilson as vice chair is Scott Maddox, commissioner, Tallahassee, Fla. For more information on NLC’s other committees and councils, visit   [Photo provided/City of Gary]...

NW Indiana Airman Killed in Helicopter Crash

A northwest Indiana native was among four US service members killed in an US Air Force helicopter crash that occurred during a training mission Tuesday night on the coast of Norfolk in England, officials say. The Defense Department said Technical Sgt. Dale Mathews is from Rolling Prairie.  The three other aircrew members killed were identified as Capt. Christopher Stover, Capt. Sean Ruane, and Staff Sgt. Afton Ponce.  The US Air Force says an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter carries a four-person aircrew: a pilot, co-pilot, and two special mission aviators who are qualified as both gunners and flight engineers. On this particular mission, a statement from the 48th Fighter Wing said Stover and Ruane were the pilots, and Mathews and Ponce were the special mission aviators.  The helicopter was assigned to the 48th Fighter Wing at Royal Air Force base Lakenheath in England.  The accident remains under investigation. "We continue to think of the loved ones who are experiencing such a tragic, sudden loss," said Col. Kyle Robinson, 48th Fighter Wing commander. "The Liberty Wing feels as though it has lost members of its family, and we stand by to support one another and these Airmen's families during this difficult time."  [Pictured, right: Tech. Sgt. Dale Mathews, special mission aviator, 56th Rescue Squadron/U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Stephanie Mancha]...

Public Invited to Christmas Tree Bonfire this Weekend

One Lake County community's annual tradition is making its debut at the LaPorte County Fairgrounds this weekend. The 12th Night Christmas Tree Bonfire Celebration takes place on Sunday at 6pm and is being sponsored by the Cities of LaPorte and Michigan City, as well as Geisen-Carlisle Funeral and Cremation Services. Funeral Director Roy McNeal says Larry Geisen started the tradition 15 years ago in Crown Point at the Lake County Fair Grounds and they thought since he purchased a location in Michigan City they'd start the tradition in the Michigan City/LaPorte area.
Families with real, unwanted Christmas trees are being asked to drop them now until January 12th at the funeral home, located 613 Washington Street in Michigan City or at the LaPorte County Fairgrounds in front of the horse arena.  McNeal says everyone is welcome to the event where free popcorn and hot chocolate will be provided. ...

LaPorte PD Seek Help to Find Wanted Man

John Kampf
(Photo Courtesy of the LaPorte Police Department)
Authorities are seeking your help in locating a man wanted on a warrant for two-counts of felony burglary. LaPorte Police report 44 year old John Kampf is described as a white male, 6'2”, weighing 160 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes.
If you know his immediate whereabouts, call 911. If you have any other information on Kampf, please contact the La Porte Police Department at 362-9446, or La Porte Metro Operations at 325-9022. You can remain anonymous....

General Assembly Issues Valpo Chamber Supports

January 9, 2014, Valparaiso, IN - The Valpo Chamber announces key issues it will support and advocate for during the 2014 Indiana General Assembly Session.
“The key issues the Valpo Chamber supported in 2013 went unresolved. In all likelihood, these positions will go before the General Assembly in 2014,” states Rex Richards, Valpo Chamber President

Key issues to be supported: 
  • Support for the continued state funding for the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority
  • Support for the Illiana Expressway and its intersection with Interstate 65 in Lake County and continuing through Porter and LaPorte Counties
  • Repair and upgrade of Highway 30 from Fort Wayne to Valparaiso because of its importance as a transportation route moving goods across Northern Indiana
  • Elimination of the Business Personal Property Tax in Indiana as it is a negative factor discouraging capital investment therefore discouraging many forms of economic development in Indiana

“Each of these key issues will have an overall good effect on business and economic development in Valparaiso and Porter County,” adds Richards. “We strongly urge our legislators to work on the successful funding and enactments that will see these issues become laws.”...

FEMA Denies Federal Aid to 9 IL Counties Hit by Tornadoes

FEMA is denying federal aid to nine Illinois counties hit hard by the November tornadoes. ABC News reports the six-point-one million dollars in aid was supposed to go to county governments, to help pay for expenses like costly police overtime. But the money requested is well below the 17.8 million dollar minimum for federal approval in Illinois. Governor Pat Quinn, says he is disappointed by the decision, and will appeal. Millions of dollars in federal aid have already been given to residents and businesses....

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Region News Team
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Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team


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