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1200 Christmas Trees to Arrive in Chicago Friday

More than 12-hundred Christmas trees is scheduled to arrive in Chicago tomorrow morning on the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw. The arrival marks a two-day event re-enacting an annual Chicago tradition dating back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The “Christmas Ship” is scheduled to arrive tomorrow at the west end of Navy Pier at 8:30am and opening ceremonies and free public tours of the ship are scheduled for Saturday.
Schedule of Events:
Dec. 6, 2013
8:30 a.m. - Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw arrives at west end of Navy Pier near Captain at the Helm statue, escorted by Chicago Fire Department and Chicago Police boats; Rickover Naval Academy Band performs
9:05 a.m. - Decorating of Mackinaw commences
9:15 - noon - Students from Goodwin, St. Cornellius and Epiphany Schools tour Mackinaw and Tall Ship, Windy
 
Dec. 7, 2013   
10 a.m. Opening ceremony, west end of Navy Pier; wreath laying at the Captain at the Helm Statue by Capt. Dave Truitt and the President of Chicago Shipmasters; wreath drop and fly-over by Chicago Fire Department helicopter; remarks by Capt. Matt Sibley, Commanding Officer, Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan and Cmdr. Michael Davanzo, Commanding Officer of Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw; initial presentation of trees to representative families; music by the Taft High School Choir; folk singer Lee Murdock performs
Trees offloaded from Mackinaw following ceremony
1:30 - 5 p.m. - Free public tours of Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw
...
 

Measles Making a Comeback in the U.S.

Just when you thought measles was ancient history......ABC News reports on new trouble. Look out for the spots because the measles are back, according to Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control.   Dr. Frieden reports 175 measles cases in the U.S. this year, 3 times the usual average. That's the bad news; the good news is two doses of vaccine - not one - will protect children and adults.  Experts say most of the new cases are spread by someone coming into the U.S. from overseas, or someone who had traveled abroad. ...
 

Polar Express Storytelling and City Tour of Lights

In Crown Point, the Mayor's Office of Special Events announced today that they are currently taking reservations for Polar Express Storytelling and City Tour of Lights. The story of the Polar Express and bus tours around the city to view and vote on the best decorated houses takes place on Friday, December 13th, but registration is required. Anyone interested in entering their home on the Tour of the Lights route should also contact the city to sign up and winners will be announced at the December 19th City Council Meeting.  Stories will be told at the top of each hour beginning at 5pm with the last story at 8pm. Tour of light busses will depart every hour on the ½ hour beginning at 5:30pm with the last bus tour at 8:30pm.  To register please call (219) 662-3290.  ...
 

Four Suspects Arrested in Michigan City Robberies

michigan city police
In Michigan City, four people were arrested on probable cause pending a probable cause hearing, regarding two robberies Wednesday night. Police says the first robbery occurred in the parking lot of Lighthouse Mall and the victim was a 55 year old woman. The second robbery occurred two-hours later in the three-hundred block of South Street where the victim was a pizza delivery driver. Police says a city-wide search began and just after 10:30pm, an officer was able to locate the suspect vehicle in the 41-hundred block of Franklin Street. Through the investigation, police report it was determined that both robberies were committed by the four people in the suspect vehicle. Arrested were three men, ages 20, 19, and 18, along with a 29 year old woman, all from LaPorte. An investigation continues and additional charges are expected. Anyone with any additional information regarding these robberies is asked to contact Michigan City Police....
 

Lake County Surveyor Formally Submits Guilty Plea

In U.S. District in Hammond on Thursday, Lake County Surveyor George Van Til formally submitted his guilty plea to six counts of wire fraud-felony crimes against taxpayers. 
 
When asked by Senior U.S. District Court Judge James T. Moody who was the victim in this case, Federal Prosecutor Phillip Benson said that the Lake County Government was and if case went to trial the government is prepared to prove Van Til was using his office employees and resources to help get re-elected while employees were on the county's payroll sometime between the period of November 2007 and December 2012.  
 
Prior to hearing the plea, Judge Moody asked Van Til if he was fully aware of the rights and privileges that he would be giving up including not being able to run for public officer again and waiving the right to appeal the sentencing, to which Van til responded in the affirmative. 
 
Judge Moody also instructed the defendant that he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for each of the six counts plus, an additional 2 to 3 years supervised release adding up to a maximum sentence of 120 years in prison, 18 years supervised release and $1.5 million dollars in fines plus restitution. 
 
The judge reserved accepting the plea pending a sentencing date which Judge Moody said would be set to a date and time convenient to both the prosecutors and defendant’s council. Until that time, Van Til remains free on bond....
 

Coats: Indiana's AAA Credit Ratings a Model for D.C.

Senator Dan Coats
Indiana has maintained its Triple-A credit ratings from all three bond agencies – Standard and Poor's, Moody's and Fitch. Indiana US Senator Dan Coats today says the Hoosier model has resulted in balanced budgets, job creation and a continued Triple-A credit rating, which is why Washington should look to it as a good blueprint for Amercia's recovery. Senator Coats says Washington's approach the last five-years has resulted in fewer jobs, higher debt, and credit agency downgrades, while Indiana's fiscal turnaround has brought increased opportunity and prosperity for Hoosier businesses, workers and families.

Indiana has held Triple-A ratings with all three bond agencies since April of 2010. ...
 

Mandela Dead at 95

mandela
Former South African President Nelson Mandela has died. He was 95. ABC News reports Nelson Mandela became an international symbol of triumph over injustice after he became South Africa's first democratically elected president following a quarter century as a political prisoner. During his five years in office he encouraged a policy of national reconciliation to heal the wounds of apartheid and devoted his later years to charity and conflict mediation across the globe. ...
 

Charges Filed Against At-Large Homicide Suspects

Gary PD
Charges have been filed regarding two recent homicides in Gary. Gary Police Public Information Officer Corp. Gabrielle King says on Sunday, December 1st, Robert Crawford was charged in the November 29th death of 33 year old Eugene Jackson, who died as a result of multiple gunshot wounds in the 44-hundred block of Virginia Street.
On Wednesday, Corp. King says 28 year old Anthony T. Williams was charged with murder and in the December 2nd death of 34 year old Damian Reedus, of Gary, and attempted murder for the shooting of his girlfriend. Williams is alleged to have shot the two while in a van, near East 19th Avenue and Pennsylvania Street.
Corp. King says both suspects remain at large and anyone with information regarding their whereabouts is asked to contact the Homicide Division of the Gary Police Department at (219) 881-1210. ...
 

IN Taxpayers Being Ripped-Off By Metal Scrappers

Indiana State Police logo
INDOT and Indiana State Police today announced a press conference will be held next week regarding the numerous incidents recently of metal scrapper thieves stealing wiring from highway light poles. Officials say the incidents have persisted along the I-80/94 and I-65 corridors, which results in darkened highways and in turn threatens the safety of drivers. Details on Indiana taxpayer money lost due to metal scrapping thieves, how they're doing it, and how the public can help to catch them is expected to be addressed during the press conference, which takes place Wednesday at 11am, at the INDOT Gary Subdistrict Conference Room.
Indot Logo color ...
 

Region Invited To Holly Days

If you are looking for some holiday fun this weekend be sure to check out Holly Days in downtown Valparaiso Friday. The event is free and will feature train rides, ice sculptures, food samples, Santa and a whole lot more from 5-7pm at Central Park Plaza. Radio One's KB will also be on hand collecting toys for Toys for Tots on the corner of Lincolnway and Lafayette. Find out more by listening to today's 219 On Demand here on our website....
 

Video: Fire Scene, Gary Building Destroyed

An abandoned hotel in Gary is destroyed by fire overnight. Fire also damaged a second vacant building near 8th and Washington, a block west of Broadway. The former Hotel Plaza, which collapsed in the blaze, is mostly empty, but was occupied by a storefront church called God's House of Prayer. There's debris including bricks from the collapsed structure across 8th Avenue. No word on possible cause of the fire at this time. Crews responded at about 11 pm Wednesday night.
Here is video from the fire scene this morning (courtesy Karl Berner/Radio One Communications: http://youtu.be/DOMBdm7-tQo...
   

UPDATE: Major Fire in Gary Overnight

fire one
An abandoned hotel in Gary is destroyed by fire overnight. Fire also damaged a second vacant building near 8th and Washington, a block west of Broadway. The former Hotel Plaza, which collapsed in the blaze, is mostly empty, but was occupied by a storefront church called God's House of Prayer. There's debris including bricks from the collapsed structure across 8th Avenue. No word on possible cause of the fire at this time.
fire two
Crews responded at about 11 pm Wednesday night, and firefighters this morning are dealing with flareups and hotspots. Some streets are blocked off around the fire, but we understand traffic on Broadway was not being affected. The 21st Century Charter School of Gary is located across the street from the fire. At this time no word of any injuries. The 21st Century Charter School of Gary is located across the street from the fire.
Our Karl Berner was at the scene this morning - to hear his report visit News Audio on Demand here at our website. [Photos/Karl Berner]
fire three
fire four ...
   

Winter Storm Heading for Indiana

wx
With a significant winter weather system expected to make its way to Indiana Thursday evening, state officials are warning Hoosiers to prepare in advance.  The Region looks to be spared from this system, which is expected to significantly impact travel just a little to our south and affect areas like West Lafayette, Kokomo, Indianapolis and Bloomington. A Winter Weather Advisory today was expanded north: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/ind/   Central and southern Indiana could see several inches of snow, preceded by a messy combination of rain, sleet, slush and snow today.  Ice could also be a factor.  [Image/Indianapolis National Weather Service]
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security says preparations include charging cell phones and other items in case power is interrupted, evaluating whether driving is necessary, taking your time if you decide to drive, and gathering items for your car and home in case they are needed.
The National Weather Service is predicting sleet and significant snowfall beginning Thursday evening. These conditions, in addition to low temperatures, may cause roads to be extremely icy and travel conditions dangerous. Anyone in the path of the storm is strongly encouraged by state officials to make alternate plans in case weather conditions disrupt daily routines.
Information from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security:
Travel Advisories
Go to GetPrepared.in.gov and click on “Indiana Travel Advisory Map” at the top of the page. The map is updated with information from counties and describes the conditions for a travel warning, watch, advisory, and caution.
The page also has links to the Indiana Department of Transportation’s Traffic Wise information.
A travel "advisory" is notification that travel may be restricted in some areas. Under a "watch" level, only essential travel is recommended. A travel advisory at a "warning" level means travel may be restricted to emergency personnel only.
DO NOT call city, county or state police to check on road conditions – police agencies across the state want to keep phone lines open for emergency phone calls. Dial toll-free 1-800-261-ROAD (7623) for updated Indiana travel information, including road conditions, road closures, crashes and other traffic alerts.
Winter Driving Safety
Those considering going out onto the roads are advised to check the weather forecast and travel conditions prior to leaving, and allow for extra travel time. If driving during the storm is necessary, make sure you have a fully charged and functioning cell phone. A vehicle preparedness kit is also strongly encouraged. Items in a vehicle preparedness kit include:
  • At least two blankets or a sleeping bag;
  • Flashlight and extra batteries;
  • Booster (jumper) cables;
  • Emergency flares;
  • Extra clothing, including boots, hats and gloves;
  • Shovel
  • Bottled water and non-perishable foods like granola bars, raisins, nuts, peanut butter or cheese crackers;
  • First-aid kit and necessary medications;
  • Sand or non-clumping kitty litter for tire traction;
  • Cell phone and charger for vehicle use; and
  • Ice scraper and snow brush.
When traveling, always move over or pull to the side of the road for first responders.
If You Become Stranded
  • Unless there is a safe structure nearby, do not leave the car, since it is the best protection;
  • Run the engine for 10 minutes every hour to stay warm. An idling car only uses about one gallon of gas per hour;
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the car for rescuers to see;
  • Light a flare or turn on a flashlight to let others know you are stranded;
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe is free of any blockage to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning; and
  • Keep hydrated by drinking water from your preparedness kit. Don’t eat snow, as it will lower body temperature.
For more information on winter travel safety, visit GetPrepared.in.gov
 ...
   

UPDATE: Church, Former Hotel Destroyed by Fire

An abandoned hotel in Gary is destroyed by fire overnight. Fire damaged a second vacant building also in the area of 8th and Washington, a block west of Broadway. The former Hotel Plaza, which collapsed in the blaze, is mostly empty, but was occupied by a storefront church called God's House of Prayer. There's debris including bricks from the collapsed structure across 8th Avenue. No word on possible cause of the fire at this time. Crews responded at about 11 pm Wednesday night, and firefighters this morning are dealing with flareups and hotspots. Some streets are blocked off around the fire, but we understand traffic on Broadway was not being affected. The 21st Century Charter School of Gary is located across the street from the fire. At this time we have no word of any injuries....
   

Gary Metro Platform Elevator, Escalator Out of Service

The operators of the South Shore commuter rail line have announced the Gary Metro Center platform elevator and escalator are out of service pending a complete inspection and repairs, which means until further notice, Gary Metro is not accessible to passengers with disabilities who require either the elevator or escalator to access or leave the train platform. The two closest accessible stations to Gary Metro would be East Chicago and Portage/Ogden Dunes. Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District says they're working to restore the elevator and escalator as quickly as possible....
   

Building Collapses in Gary Fire

At this time we have no word of any injuries in a fire in Gary overnight, involving two structures, one vacant, in the area of 8th Avenue and Washington,  a block west of Broadway. One of the buildings collapsed. We're told one unit was occupied in one of the structures. There's debris including bricks from the collapsed building across 8th Avenue. No word on the cause at the time. Crews responded just before 11-o'clock last night, and we're hearing that firefighters are on scene this morning dealing with flareups. Some streets are blocked off around the fire scene. We understand traffic on Broadway was not being affected at this hour.   We have an unconfirmed report that a storefront church was operating in one of the buildings. ...
   

IV-D Child Support Court to Return to Gary

City of Gary
Lake County Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson announced an agreement that is contemplated to result in the settlement of litigation surrounding the move of the IV-D Child Support out of the Gary, Indiana Court House. The agreement was the result of a collaborative effort involving Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen, Lake County Clerk Michael Brown, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter, and Lake County Councilpersons Elsie Franklin and Jerome Prince. 
Judge Stefaniak indicated that while he understood the factors that led former Juvenile Judge Mary Beth Bonventura to close the Court, he was pleased that the parties were able to reach a solution that would ensure access to justice for citizens in the northern part of Lake County. This decision also honors the investment that has been made in the Gary Courthouse. Judge Stefaniak also praised the members of the Lake County Commission and Lake County Council for the flexibility in the use of resources to govern the Court.
Mayor Freeman-Wilson applauded the agreement and indicated that she knew that Mayor Anthony Copeland and the citizens of East Chicago and other north Lake County communities would join the citizens of Gary in their appreciation of the opportunity to attend hearings in the Gary Courthouse.   She further indicated her willingness to develop employment opportunities and work with Judge Stefaniak to ensure compliance and prevent parents from having to be brought into Court.
Judge Stefaniak will assume full-time responsibilities at the Juvenile Court on December 20, 2013. He anticipates that a full service IV-D Court will return to Gary in January 2014 as well. ...
   

Two Tree Lighting Events Scheduled in East Chicago

More signs of the season in Northwest Indiana as East Chicago gets ready for two tree lighting celebrations.
Mayor Anthony Copeland and the East Chicago Parks and Recreation Department invite residents to the Magic of Christmas,   According to the City's website, a tree Lighting celebration to be held this Friday (Dec. 6. 2013) at 5:30 p.m. on the corner of Main Street and Broadway in downtown Indiana Harbor.  Following that at 6:30 p.m., East Chicago's main tree lighting will take place at City Hall, on Indianapolis Blvd.  The city says hot chocolate will be served and families can take a photo with Santa Claus at City Hall. Plus, a free surprise for the city's children with parent while supplies last.  Gift recipients must be from East Chicago, parent ID's will be checked, according to the City's website.
More about the tree lighting available at:  http://www.eastchicago.com ...

   

TSA Gives Air Travelers a Way to Skip Long Lines

Starting today - the Transportation Security Administration is giving more air travelers a chance to skip the long lines at security checkpoints. IF - you're willing to give them lots of personal information - and 85 dollars. ABC News reports imagine not taking off your shoes. Or your sweater. Keeping your laptop and liquids inside your luggage - and moving through a special, shorter line. The dream begins in Indianapolis - where the TSA is opening its first application center for the program it calls "precheck." Passengers willing to provide fingerprints, go through a background check - and pay 85 dollars - can get five years of sped-up screening. Eventually the TSA says 300 application centers will open across the country. They'll be in New York, Washington and LA by the end of the year....
   

Items Recovered in LaPorte County Burglary Sting

20131204 090903
(Photos Courtesy of Karl Berner; Law enforcement gather for
news conference at LaPorte County Fairgrounds)
An iPhone GPS tracker assisted La Porte County Sheriff's Detectives in recovering thousands of dollars in allegedly stolen property from a residence in rural Coolspring Township last week. La Porte County Detective Sergeant Andrew Hynek says the collaborative effort between the La Porte County Sheriff's Department and the Michigan City Police Department has led to the arrest and charging of 33-year-old Nicholas Rife with three counts of residential burglary. His wife, Stephanie Rife, was also arrested and charged with receiving stolen property. The investigation was also aided by serial-number confirmation and anonymous informants and links the recovered items to a dozen or more burglaries throughout western La Porte County. Hynek says modern technology proved very valuable in the initial stages of the investigation.

20131204 090657

Hynek advises all homeowners to take precautions against burglaries by recording serial numbers and taking photos of your property.
20131204 090302

As the investigation continues, recovered items are being viewed by potential victims so that they may be returned to their rightful owners. Hynek advised victims who believe their property may have been recovered to contact the detective in charge of their case in order that an inquiry can be made with the La Porte County Sheriff's Office....
   

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Meet-The-Team

Laura-WAKE Scott-WAKE Brent-WAKE
LAURA WALUSZKO
Region News Team
SCOTT ROSENBERG
Region News Team
BRENT BROWN
Region News Team
Jay-WAKE Karl-WAKE Annie-WAKE
JAY STEVENS
Region News Team
KARL BERNER
Region News Team
ANNIE FOX
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