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Conservative Group Church Flier Targets Marriage Amendment

Advance America, a prominent Indiana conservative group, is sending out fliers to Hoosier churches warning of dire consequences if a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage does not happen. According to published reports, the group states that allowing same-sex marriage would result in ministers facing hate-crimes and cross-dressing men in women's restrooms. Supporters of gay-rights report the group is just using misconception as scare tactics....
 

Suspect Charged with Shooting at a Michigan City Home

Julian Mojica 12-12-13
(Photo Courtesy of Michigan City Police)
In Michigan City, a man is in custody for allegedly shooting at a home in the two-hundred block of Greene Street early Thursday morning. Michigan City Police report they initially received a call of shots fired with a suspicious white Cadillac being driven in the area, just before 3am, but no vehicle could be located and there was no damage or victim reported. Then just before 3:30am, a second call came stating the vehicle was back and shooting at a residence at the same location. Police say responding officers witnessed the suspect vehicle leaving the area and stopped it in the area of Main and Lafayette and took the driver, the lone occupant of the vehicle, into custody. Julian Mojica is charged with serious violent felon in possession of a firearm and criminal recklessness, both felonies. According to police, the home was struck by bullets and evidence was allegedly recovered from inside the suspect vehicle. ...
 

Wanatah Public Library to Use Grant $ for E-Books

Wanatah Library picture
(Photo Courtesy of Julianne Charlesworth)
The Wanatah Public Library is going to be receiving a four-thousand dollar grant for the funding of electronic books. Triple J-Mar Petroleum Inc. announced they secured the grant from the BP Fueling Communities Program from the library, which has selected Overdrive, one of the nation's largest e-book providers, to provide e-books to Wanatah and the surrounding areas....
 

Murder Suspect Could Be Found Incompetent for Trial

Ryan A. Phelps 101192
(Photo Courtesy of Michigan City Police)

A 21 year old man charged with murder and felony robbery in the death of a retired Michigan City school teacher will learn next month whether or not he will sent to a mental institution. On Thursday, two-court appointed psychiatrists testified that Ryan Phelps is mentally incompetent to stand trial for the death of 69 year old Gerald Peters who was killed at his home in the three-hundred block of Walker Street. A judge is expected to make a decision at a hearing scheduled on January 23rd in LaPorte Superior Court One. Two other suspects in this case are awaiting sentencing after having pleaded guilty, with a third suspect yet to make a plea.

 

Five Charged in Lake Station Meth Lab Raid

Lake Station Police say the very first meth lab raid conducted in the history of the city has resulted in charges being filed against five people. Three Lake Station residents are charged with Class-A Felony Dealing in Methamphetamine and other charges, and two additional individuals from Hobart and Portage have been charged with-Misdemeanor Visiting a Common Nuisance. Lake Station Police Department raided an alleged meth lab in the 33-hundred block of Arizona Street, a residential area, on Wednesday shortly before 2 am. Lake Station Police Chief Kevin Garber says several members of the Indiana State Police Clandestine Drug Lab Team assisted Lake Station Police with processing the residence....
 

I-65 Lanes Reopen Near Crown Point

Traffic-Advisory
All lanes were closed on I-65 near US 231 in Crown Point for a time this midday due to maintenance work. INDOT reports lanes have since reopened....
 

Sewer Main Break in Munster

Traffic-Advisory
Police in Munster report crews have been working on a sewer main break in the 83-hundred block of Columbia. Motorists are asked to proceed with caution through the area.  Crews are making repairs.  The main break was reported just after 8 am....
 

I-65 to Be Widened Near West Lafayette

A portion of I-65 will be widened just a little south of the Region. The Indiana Department of Transportation has announced the interstate will eventually have six lanes along the eight-mile West Lafayette corridor between State Roads 25 and 38 in Tippecanoe County. State officials say the project is meant to relieve congestion for motorists traveling from Chicago to Indianapolis. The work is scheduled to be finished by possibly late 2016, and the interstate will remain open during the project....
 

Missing Lansing Man Found Dead

urdiales
Matthew Urdiales
The Cook County Medical Examiner's office says a body found in a ditch off Burnham Avenue in Lansing Thursday night is that of a Lansing man missing since last Friday. Police say 40-year-old Matthew Urdiales was last seen leaving a restaurant on Burnham Avenue in Lynwood about three miles to the south December 6th. An autopsy was scheduled today to determine cause and manner of death. [Photo provided]...
 

Morgan Twp Elem Celebrates Being Blue Ribbon School

blueribbon
Michelle Friesen-Carper, principal of Morgan Township Elementary, and Mary Riffer, 3rd grade teacher at Morgan, in front of the National Blue Ribbon seal in Washington, D.C.
Happy faces in a sea of blue in the north bleachers of the John Blastick gym at Morgan Township Schools -- blue as in the color of the t-shirts the crowd was wearing proclaiming Morgan Township Elementary being named a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School.  A special celebration was held at Morgan November 22nd.   Earlier that week, Friesen-Carper and Riffer, accompanied by East Porter County School Superintendent Dr. Rod Gardin, were in Washington DC to receive the plaque and flag identifying Morgan Township Elementary as a National Blue Ribbon School.  Riffer was the teacher selected by her fellow staff members to attend the awards presentation - she has been teaching at Morgan Township Elementary for 34 years and attended Morgan school from kindergarten through 12th grade.  East Porter County Schools' Washington Township Elementary was also named a National Blue Ribbon School in 1997.  [Photo provided]...
 

Significant Snowfall Possible in the Region

Just as the Region exits the extreme cold snap, significant snowfall is possible entering the weekend.  Forecasters say up to eight inches could fall in some areas from Chicago into the Northeast. Some areas of upstate New York have already gotten four feet of lake-effect snow in the last couple days. Here in northwest Indiana, the National Weather Service says total snow accumulations of three-to-six inches are expected by late Saturday morning.  A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect from early this evening through early Saturday afternoon.    Click here for forecast details from the Chicago National Weather Service: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lot/

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County Clerk to Testify Before Fed Grand Jury

Published reports say the FBI recently requested additional documents from Porter County government. An FBI representative had a subpoena for conflict of interest disclosure forms, and Porter County Clerk Karen Martin is scheduled to testify December 18th before a grand jury in Hammond Federal Court, according to the Times. Late last month, reports say the FBI requested documents related to the Porter County Board of Commissioners decision in December of 2012 to change the provider of the county employees wellness and clinic service from HealtheACCESS to Porter Regional Hospital's CareEXPRESS, according to the servicing agent for the county health plan, who told the Times the process was transparent and he knew of no reason for concern. No word on whether the investigations are related....
   

Fire at Portage Duplex

In Portage, a resident in the adjacent unit was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene after a fire at a duplex in the 54-hundred block of Aspen around 3-o'clock Thursday afternoon. No one was home at the time, authorities say, and no word on possible cause at this time. Officials say the fire was quickly extinguished....
   

Governor Pence Praises Illiana Vote

Indiana Governor Mike Pence is praising Thursday's vote by Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission approving the Illiana Corridor Project for its 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan.  The pivotal vote moves the project forward for federal dollars.  As proposed, the 47-mile tollway would link Interstate 65 near Lowell to Interstate 55 in Illinois. It still needs federal approval, and if granted, officials say construction could begin as soon as 2015 with the highway open possibly by 2018.
Pence issued the following statement:
"I believe roads mean jobs, and today's vote on the Illiana Corridor Project brings us one step closer to more jobs for northwestern Indiana. I am grateful to the members of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission for their vote in favor of this important project, which will bring jobs and economic growth to northwestern Indiana and throughout the state.
“The innovative funding for this project will bring new investment dollars into the state transportation system and allow the Indiana Department of Transportation to make further infrastructure investments that will benefit the region for generations to come.”...
   

Downtown Cookie Walk Saturday in LaPorte

In LaPorte this weekend the Christmas season will be in full-effect with Santa, free train rides and the first annual downtown Cookie Walk. City of LaPorte Downtown Director Tiffany Bley says the cookie walk takes place during the Downtown Holiday Open House from 10am to 5pm and custom La Porte tins will be available for purchase at the Greater La Porte Chamber of Commerce at 803 Washington Street.  The tins come with a list of participating businesses with cookies to help fill the tins to complete the Cookie Walk. Each tin is $5.00 and only limited to the first 100 Cookie Walk participants so people are encouraged to arrive early. Over 15 businesses are participating, offering a free cookie per customer with a tin.
Bley says while your check out the downtown Holiday Storefront Competition, which continues through December 22nd and showcases several businesses competing for the top prize, the People's Choice Award. Pictures of the participating windows are posted to the Downtown La Porte Facebook page.  Free train rides and visits with Santa take place in the Chamber of Commerce train depot area from 11am to 2pm....

   

State Attorney General Visits Lake County to File Lawsuit

Indiana Attorney general Greg Zoeller
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller was in Crown Point Thursday to personally file a lawsuit against an out-of-state foreclosure consultant for allegedly bilking over $5,000 from two Region homeowners in an alleged mortgage-rescue scam. 
 
In a press release, Attorney General Zoeller said "This case is particularly egregious" because the company violated the state's consumer protection laws by allegedly collecting high fees upfront. A Lake County homeowner reported paid $2,630 dollars in pre-service fees and a Jasper County resident $3,099 with both victims never receiving the promised services or refunds. In addition, Liberty Credit Law failed to register a $25,000 surety bond with the Indiana Attorney General's office which is required before collecting money up front and other services.

The lawsuit says, the company violated the Credit Services organization Act, the Mortgage Rescue Protection Act, the Home Loan Practices Act and Indiana's Deceptive Consumer Sales Act.  Zoeller admits that while lost fees are rarely returned, the Consumer Protection Assistance Fund, that contains monies from funds recovered from companies sued for violating consumer protection laws, will go to help those victims. In total, Lake County victims will receive $8,175 from the fund.
 
The State Attorney general is seeking an injunction against Liberty Law Credit, restitution for the victims, civil penalties and investigative costs. 
When checking online with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, Liberty Credit Law, which was not accredited by the BBB and has an "F."  Also, 65 complaints were registered to the BBB in the last three years.
Distressed homeowners at risk of foreclosure need not pay a large fee to a for-profit company, when advice on avoiding foreclosure is availablefor free from the Indiana Foreclosure Prevention  Network at 1-877-GET HOPE (1-877-438-4673).  Hoosiers who believe they have been a victim in a foreclosure consultant scam can file a complaint by visiting www.IndianaConsumer.com or by calling 1-866-382-5516.
Zoeller thanked Deputy Attorney General Laura Turner for her work on the case andher dedication to the Homeowner Protection Unit. 
(Photo: from RNT file)
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Water Main Break in Highland Repaired

Highland Police
In Highland, tipsters are informing the Region News Team a water main break in the 94-hundred block of Kennedy Avenue has been repaired. Highland Police had Kennedy Avenue, between Hart Road and 43rd Street, down to one-lane in each direction for much of this afternoon so crews could finish the necessary repairs....
   

Alleged Election Law Violations Against McDermott Dismissed

Three allegations of election law violations were dismissed today by the Lake County Board of Elections and Registration against the re-election campaign of Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. The violations were filed by Munster Republican Eric Kreig and the dismissal negates any investigation into the issues, which included allegations of personal use of campaign funds....
   

Gary Woman Charged with Child Abuse

Gary PD
The mother of a three-year old child is in police custody charged with child abuse over a video that had surfaced on YouTube, which has since been taken down. Gary Police Corp. Gabrielle King says after viewing the video, which showed the 25 year old woman disciplining the child for allegedly not knowing his A-B-C's, officers were able to identify the woman, who was taken into custody at her home at 6pm Wednesday night. Anyone with additional information regarding this case is asked to contact Detective Alex Jones at 881-7477. ...
   

VIDEO: NIRPC Commission Approves Illiana

nirpcmtg1
(Photo Courtesy of Karl Berner)
The Sycamore Room at Woodland Park in Portage was filled this morning as the NIRPC Executive Board and Full Commission used a weighted vote to decide the fate of the proposed Illiana Expressway and I-65 widening projects. The proposed projects would construct a 47-mile-long link between I-65 in Lake County and I-55 in Illinois, and also would widen I-65 from 4 lanes to 6 lanes between US 30 and Highway 231.
Using the weighted vote clause, The Commission voted roughly 76% to roughly 24% to include the projects in the NIRPC 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan.

The Illiana Expressway and I-65 widening projects have passed a major hurdle, and when INDOT finishes its Tier 2 Study, the fate of the proposed projects will lie with the Federal Highway Administration for final approval. If approved, ground for the projects should break in 2015, with the Illiana Expressway slated to open for travel some time in 2018.
To view video of today's vote click http://youtu.be/2wTLno8tYHA
After the Illiana vote, the NIRPC Board passed two resolutions, one in favor of continued state funding of the Regional Development Authority beyond 2015 and the other supporting the expansion of commuter rail in northwest Indiana. For more information on these resolutions, click http://www.rdatransformation.com/blog/nirpc-backs-rda-funding-renewal-and-south-shore-expansion/...
   

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