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UPDATE: West Beach Burn Called Off

Prescribed Burn Scheduled at West Beach

UPDATE: Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore officials announced this morning that weather conditions have changed and they are no longer going to burn the West Beach Unit today.  Instead, they will be conducting small burns around the Century of Progress Homes along Dune Ridge near Beverly Shores. The small burns are used to remove fuel near structures in preparation for a larger prescription burn at a future date.  They anticipate the burn to begin about 10:00 a.m.

Fire crews from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore plan to burn approximately 73  acres, in the West Beach area of the park, near Portage, Indiana today (Tuesday November 19, 2013) as part of a prescribed burn plan.  As long as weather conditions remain good, crews say they will be burning the parcel of land along the north side of West Beach Access Road between the parking lots and the West Beach entrance station to reduce potential wild fire fuel, and improve animal and plant habitats.
[Prescribed fire conducted Friday, November 15, 2013, looking south across Long Lake in the Portage/Ogden Dunes area. The burn was on the south side of the lake, west of Ogden Dune and north of US 12. Photo/Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore]

The prescribed fire program at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is conducted by trained and experienced National Park Service fire personnel. Smoke dispersal is a primary concern and park staff will do everything possible to limit smoke in the area by monitoring wind and atmospheric conditions prior to ignitions. However, smoke drifting in and around park lands and roadways is possible.
Before burning, National Lakeshore officials say a designated set of conditions must exist including ideal air temperature, wind speed and direction, and relative humidity. Weather conditions will be monitored throughout the duration of the burn to ensure the fire is completed safely.  More photos


Man Charged with Felony Stalking

In Portage, police say a 44-year-old Valparaiso-area man who reportedly admitted he has a foot fetish has been arrested and charged with felony stalking after allegedly following a mother and daughter from the Portage Library to a restaurant, Friday afternoon, and then to the police station. Police say at one point the subject stepped on the daughter's foot as she exited the library, causing her shoe to come off, and afterwards he apologized. Police say the man, a registered sex offender who has committed several acts of violence against women in Michigan, denied any intentions of harming the women. Portage Police say they believe the man has done this in the past and any women who may have had a similar experience at the library or any other business in Portage are asked to call Portage Police.  [Photo - Dustin A. Jolly]
Here is the news release from Portage Police:
On Friday, November 15th Portage Police arrested a 44-year-old Valparaiso man (Dustin Jolly) on Felony Stalking charges after he began following two Portage women around the cit y in his car as the women were headed home after they left the Portage library.
The incident began shortly after 2 pm on Friday afternoon when two women (mother and daughter) went to the library to rent a movie. While inside looking for a movie, the daughter noticed that a male subject kept walking around the area in the library near her. At one point the male came into the same aisle as the female and stood next to her. The daughter advised that when she was unable to find a movie to rent, she began exiting the library. While headed to the main entrance, she heard someone walking fast behind her and observed it to be the same male subject. The daughter stated that as she was exiting the buildings doors, the male stepped on her foot which caused her shoe to fall off. After the incident, the male apologized and both then went their own way and walked into the parking lot to their cars.
The female advised that after leaving the library, she and her mother then went to a restaurant to eat. While getting their food, she observed the males car drive by twice which she thought was odd. On the second drive by, the daughter wrote down the cars license plate number. While driving home after they left the restaurant, they observed the same car following them. Both females were aware of this and continued to drive around the city instead of going directly to their home. When the car continued to follow them after they tried to get away it, they drove to the Portage Police Department to report the incident.
While officers were taking the report from the women, they found out that car was registered to a Dustin A Jolly of Valparaiso. Officers learned that Mr. Jolly was a registered sex offender who had committed several acts of violence against women in the past in Michigan. As officers were leaving the police department to go to Mr. Jolly’s residence to speak with him about the incident, they observed Mr. Jolly’s car drive past the police department and stopped him.
When questioned about the incident at the library, Mr. Jolly admitted to it and stated that he was “sorry and needs help”. He told officers that he has a foot fetish and never meant to harm anyone. He stated that he was simply following the women and denied any intentions of harming them. After further questioning by detectives at the police department, Mr. Jolly was charged with class D Felony Stalking.
We believe that Mr. Jolly has done this in the past and if any women have had a similar experience at the library or any other business in Portage, they are asked to contact Detective Cpl. Janies Regnier at 219-764-5706....

Body Found Near Interstate

Indiana State Police from the Indianapolis District are investigating a body found on the west side of Indianapolis near I-465. Monday afternoon, at approximately 4:30 p.m. EST, police were notified by a person walking on the exit ramp from northbound I-465 to Crawfordsville Road of a male body just off the interstate near the 17 mile marker.  The Marion County Coroner was called to the scene. No other information is available at this time....

Starwood Completes Purchase of Southlake Mall

A Connecticut-based private investment firm announced today that it has completed the acquisition of a majority interest in seven shopping malls in the US from the Westfield Group, including Southlake Mall in Hobart. Starwood Capital Group says existing onsite management teams will continue to operate the properties under the direction of Starwood Retail Partners. Westfield will maintain a 10% common equity interest in the properties.
The malls contain 7.9 million square feet of retail space across four states on the West Coast and the Midwest. The sites are all anchored by major national retailers and have an average occupancy of approximately 96%. The other six properties are Belden Village Mall in Canton, OH; Capital Mall in Olympia, WA; Franklin Park Mall in Toledo, OH; Great Northern Mall in North Olmsted, OH; Parkway Plaza in El Cajon, CA; and Plaza West Covina in West Covina, CA.
Southlake Mall opened in 1974.  The mall, which has a Merrillville mailing address but is within Hobart city limits since an annexation that took effect in 1994, was purchased by Australia-based mall operator Westfield in 2002....

Tornadoes Confirmed in Newton, Jasper, Pulaski

Locally, the National Weather Service in Chicago has determined tornado touchdowns in Newton and Jasper Counties during Sunday's severe weather, the first November tornadoes on record, since 1950, for both counties. The National Weather Service in Northern Indiana says an EF-1 tornado was confirmed in Pulaski County, touching down in Medaryville.
An EF-1 tornado began in Goodland, causing heavy damage to a large grain elevator. An EF-1 tornado starting northeast of Rensselaer destroyed multiple empty grain storage bins and outbuildings across four farmsteads. The reports are preliminary from damage survey teams. Details at the National Weather Service websites:
Northern Indiana:


Power Restored to Many as Repairs Continue

As of late Monday night, NIPSCO says 94-percent of customers who lost power in Sunday's severe weather had been restored.  Repairs for the remaining outages were expected by Wednesday night.  Hard hit areas locally include Lowell, Cedar Lake, DeMotte, Crown Point, Gary, Chesterton and Valparaiso.  As of this morning about 36-hundred customers were without electricity.
All available NIPSCO crews, with assistance from support contractors from neighboring states, continue to respond to the effects of the severe weather, which carried wind gusts up to 86 miles per hour reported in some areas.
“This storm has posed a challenge for many of our communities, and our thoughts are with all those affected, especially those dealing with the effects of the Midwest tornadoes,” said Keith Wooldridge, NIPSCO’s senior vice president of field operations. “Because the damage is very widespread, we’ve brought in all available resources to address the repairs.”
Kankakee Valley REMC reports progress continues to be made across their service territory, with 110 outages remaining as of late Monday afternoon. Some outages are requiring additional time due to the severity of the damage. As crews work through the night, there will still be work continuing into today. Downed power lines are still being reported at some locations.

NIPSCO: Power Restored to Over 90 Percent

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. – Sunday’s damaging storms left its mark on northern Indiana, resulting in more than 75,000 NIPSCO electric customers losing service. As of 5 p.m. CT, more than 90 percent of affected customers have been restored and approximately 6,400 remain without power.
The majority of the remaining outages are expected to be restored by Wednesday night, Nov. 20, with some outages in the hardest hit areas extending into Thursday. As repairs continue, NIPSCO will be able to provide more refined restoration times.
All available NIPSCO crews, with assistance from support contractors from neighboring states, continue to respond to the effects of the severe weather, which carried wind gusts up to 86 miles per hour reported in some areas.
“This storm has posed a challenge for many of our communities, and our thoughts are with all those affected, especially those dealing with the effects of the Midwest tornadoes,” said Keith Wooldridge, NIPSCO’s senior vice president of field operations. “Because the damage is very widespread, we’ve brought in all available resources to address the repairs.”
940 separate incidents still require attention from repair crews, and current assessments indicate that the storm damage has resulted in widespread damage, including: three damaged transmission towers, more than 150 broken poles, numerous downed lines and broken cross arms and hundreds of downed trees and limbs.
Monticello, Crown Point, Lowell, Cedar Lake, Gary and Valparaiso are among the communities hit hardest with storm damage.
Storm Restoration Process
·        NIPSCO repairs high voltage transmission lines and substations (and re-route power where possible), which provide power to the largest number of customers. Without repairing this part of the system first, the smaller electric lines connected to homes and businesses can’t be energized.
·        Priorities shift to restore power to facilities most critical to public safety and health –including hospitals, police and fire stations, water lift stations and communication systems.
·        Crews are then disbursed to repair service lines that will bring power back to the largest amount of customers the quickest – including major lines that feed power to densely-populated neighborhoods and other rural/municipal electric companies.
·        Finally, NIPSCO is able to make repairs to electric service affecting smaller neighborhoods or outages that impact one or two individual customers.
Safety First – Stay Away from Downed Power Lines
Most important to your safety is to avoid downed power lines, damaged poles or other hazardous situations. Every downed wire should be treated as though it is a live wire.  Report them to NIPSCO immediately.
Residents are also encouraged to drive safely when approaching any NIPSCO field employee or contractor vehicles working to restore power in the area.
Reporting an Outage or Downed Power Line
If customers have not yet reported an outage, they can do so in a few different ways:
1.        From your smart phone or other mobile device – Search NIPSCO and your device will be automatically directed to our mobile site where you will find a button on the main page to report an outage.
2.        On your computer – Visit and enter some basic information about your location.
3.        Via phone – Call 1-800-4NIPSCO (1-800-464-7726) and follow the automated prompts. You can ask to receive a call back when power has been restored.
Staying Informed
Regular updates regarding the current number of customers affected, where outages are located and when power is expected to be restored can be found in a variety of ways, including:
·–Find current information on the status of power outages and estimated restoration times.
· – View the same outage map and details on from your mobile device.
· or– Follow NIPSCO’s progress through popular social media channels to view photos and power restoration updates....

GNIAR Reports 28th Consecutive Month of Growth

GNIAR logo
For the 28th consecutive month the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors reports growth in year-over-year comparisons of single family homes in Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper and Newton counties. Those counties combined for 830 single family homes sold in October 2013, compared to 782 in October of 2012 numbers, for a one-year change of six-point-one percent and the median selling price rose six-point four percent....

Two Region Men with the ISP Get New Roles

corp bill jones
(Photos Courtesy of the Indiana State Police Lowell Post;
Above: Sgt. Bill Jones. Below: Detective Brian McCall)
Two region residents with Indiana State Police's Lowell Post now have new titles. 42 year old Corp. Bill Jones was promoted today to the rank of Sergeant and transferred to the Toll Road District to serve as a District Squad Leader. Jones is a 1989 graduate of Gary West Side High School and the recipient of the ISP Firearms “Possible Club” award.
39 year old Senior Trooper Brian McCall was transferred to Criminal Investigation today and reassigned as a detective. McCall is a 1992 graduate of Crown Point High School who was awarded a Life Saving Award in 2012 and was “Trooper of the Year” in 2008. Both men currently reside in Lake County.
detective Brian McCall ...

Child Molesting Charges Filed Against Hebron Man

A 37 year old man has been charged with two-felony counts of child molesting. The Hebron man admitted to inappropriately touching the girl, who was 12 at the time of the incident, and letting her touch him, after taking a voice-stress test regarding the allegations. Authorities report the incidents occurred in 2011....

Evacuation of EC Neighborhood Lifted After Gas Leak

1 breaking-news
An area around 145th Street and Baring Avenue in East Chicago that was evacuated earlier this afternoon due to a gas leak has been lifted. City officials gave residents the “all-clear” just before 3:30pm. The leak was reportedly the result of a contractor striking a gas main in that area. As a precaution, Benjamin Harrison Elementary was put on lock down and no injuries were reported. The surrounding two blocks around 145th and Baring Avenue were closed to traffic as a result of the gas leak. ...


Debris From Washington, IL Found Over 100 Miles Away

Damage reports are still coming in after yesterday's day of rough weather in the Midwest. ABC News reports besides the six people who were killed as the swarm of tornadoes swept through Illinois, officials in Michigan say two more died in that state. The most violent storm may have touched down in the town of Washington, Illinois, 140 miles west of Chicago. As many as 500 homes were destroyed by an EF-4 tornado packing winds of 170 to 190 miles per hour.   Meanwhile the tornado that ripped through Washington, Illinois, threw debris more than 100 miles away.  Ann Ortman lives in Shorewood, Illinois, and was picking up tree branches in her yard when she came across a piece of paper... "I unfolded this piece of paper, and it was actually a check dated December 18, 1994. And it was from someone that lives in Washington, Illinois." Ortman lives about 110 miles away. She says she hopes the owner of the check is okay. She would like to return the check. ...


Man Arrested for Interfering During Pine Twp Fire

porter co sheriff dept
Several fire departments were called out at approximately 5:17 this morning to a residential fire in the 600 block of East Old Chicago Road, in Pine Township, in far northeast Porter County. Sgt. Larry LaFlower, of the Porter County Sheriff's Office, reports 40 year old Christopher Battishill was arrested and charged for actively interfering with firemen who were trying to extinguish the blaze. LaFlower says the cause of the fire remains under investigation, as does any alleged involvement on the part of Battishill, who also had an outstanding warrant for failure to comply with probation. New charges could be forthcoming once an investigation is complete....

Neighborhood Evacuated, School Locked Down for Gas Leak

1 breaking-news
Officials in East Chicago say firefighters have evacuated residents near 145th Street and Baring Avenue due to a gas leak after a main was struck around noon today. As precaution, Benjamin Harrison Elementary was locked down and no injuries have been reported. No further information is available at this time....


Porter County Compost Sites to Close 11/28-12/1

Porter County's Boone Grove and Valparaiso compost site will be closed for the upcoming Thanksgiving Day Holiday. Donna Stuckert, with the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County, says both sites will be closed Thursday, November 28th through Sunday, December 1st and will reopen Monday, December 2nd through Saturday, December 7th, after which both sites close for the season.
Until then, Stuckert says they encourage Porter County residents to bring in their organic yard waste, such as leaves, brush, garden and household plants, limbs, logs and firewood and live fall decorations like pumpkins, gourds, corn and mums, to the compost sites where it will be incorporated into the windrows which is used to create large amounts of finished compost and mulch.
No treated wood or lumber of any kind are accepted at either site and grass is only accepted at the Boone Grove location. Residents are also asked to remove plastic bags and other containers when dropping off materials. For more information visit or click News Audio On Demand at

Gas Leak Reported in East Chicago Around 145th St

1 breaking-news
The cause of a gas leak reported around 145th Street in East Chicago is unknown at this time. NIPSCO crews reportedly arrived at the scene around noon and the surrounding two-blocks around 145th and Barring Avenue are closed as a result. At last check no injuries and no evacuation had been been reported. ...


Final Open House on Illiana Expressway Tomorrow

The final open house regarding the proposed Illiana Expressway takes place tomorrow in Michigan City. You are invited to stop by and give your input at Michigan City City Hall, from 2pm to 4pm. Next month, NIRPC is scheduled to vote on whether to include Illiana in their 2040 Comprehensive plan, a necessary step to move the project forward for federal funding. Meanwhile the state of Indiana has issued an official call for investors for the Hoosier stretch of the proposed Illiana Expressway, which would connect I-65 from south Lake County to I-55 in Illinois. For more information visit

Hoosiers Can Report Storm Damage Online

From the Indiana Department of Homeland Security:
Hoosiers who sustained damage caused by severe weather on November 17 can report damage online at:
A link to the form is also available on the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) website at . In the middle of the page under "Featured Topics," click on "Report Damage from Severe Weather - November 17"
Individuals will be asked to provide their name, address, phone number and type of damage the property sustained. Losses can include structural damage to homes and loss of personal property.
For questions, contact your county emergency management agency. Local agency's contact information is available at
Individuals without Internet access are encouraged to contact a friend, family member or neighbor for assistance. Web access is also available at many libraries, religious institutions, community centers or other public facilities. If none of those options are available, individuals may also contact their county emergency management agency to report damage.
This is NOT an application for a grant with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Information will be used to help local emergency management agencies and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security preliminarily assess damage to determine if federal assistance can be pursued....

Two Injured in Recent Tree Stand Falls

Indiana Conservation Officers say the state has had eleven falls from tree stands resulting in serious injuries this year. Two tree stand accidents have occurred in the past few days in northern Indiana. Officers say a 53-year-old deer hunter in the Hebron area who wanted to change the location of his stand from one area to another fell over fourteen feet to the ground and suffered a leg and shoulder injury. In Marshall County Sunday morning, authorities say a 54-year-old man was deer hunting from an elevated tree stand when the stand broke sending the man crashing 24 feet to the ground. Law enforcement officials say the stand had been left in the tree for several years. The man was airlifted to a South Bend hospital for serious injuries to his spine. Conservation officers say neither man was wearing a safety harness.   Conservation Officers remind all hunters inspect their equipment regularly and that the use of a Fall Arrest System (FAS) while hunting from elevated positions greatly reduces the risk of serious injury from falling.


Governor Pence to Tour Storm Damage

Governor Mike Pence today will tour Indiana communities hit by severe storms Sunday.  Stops include Kokomo, Logansport, Lafayette, and Washington.  The National Weather Service is sending out survey teams to areas of significant damage in northern Indiana and elsewhere in the state to assess whether damage was caused by tornadoes or straight-line winds during thunderstorms....

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Region News Team
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