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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.
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Valpo Tree Lighting, 5-Points Roundabout Dedication

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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:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMyeJIohpjA

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: http://www.ci.valparaiso.in.us/index.aspx?NID=1244...

 

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....
 

Hobart Makes Changes to New Median on Old Ridge

In Hobart, city officials are making changes to a new median on Old Ridge Road to make it safer, and the work may be finished by Thanksgiving. A city resident expressed safety concerns at the city council meeting earlier this month, saying he felt the squared curb on the east and west ends could be a hazard for motorists. Mayor Brian Snedecor says the median, which was installed near the entrance to Festival Park, is meant to soften the flow of traffic and make it safer for pedestrians to cross. ...
 

Fatal Crash in Hammond

In Hammond, Police Chief Brian Miller says alcohol is believed to have been a factor in a motor-vehicle crash that killed an Illinois woman and injured four other people. The Lake County Coroners office says 29-year-old Jill Rasco of Minooka sustained fatal injuries. The accident happened about 2:15 Sunday morning in the 35-hundred block of Sheffield Avenue.  ...
 

New US 6 Bridge Near Kingsford Heights Now Open

Indot Logo color
KINGSFORD HEIGHTS, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announces the new U.S. 6 bridge near Kingsford Heights opened to traffic today. Crews closed the U.S. 6 bridge back in April for a complete bridge replacement. Nearby Tracy Road will remain closed through early December, while crews complete the project.
For the latest road closures and news from INDOT, like us at www.Facebook.com/INDOTNorthwest and follow us at www.Twitter.com/INDOTNorthwest....
 

Volunteer and Give Back this Holiday Season

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The Lake Area United Way is gearing up for the holidays. During a recent Region News Makers Interview with 2013-2014 Campaign Chairman John Kennedy and Resources Development Director TJ Holsen, Holsen told the Region News team we they think of the holidays, they think of giving back and how people can get involved and get engaged to help families in Lake County. Holsen says a number of their partner agencies are doing food distribution and clothing drives.
For more information on how to volunteer, visit http://www.nwivolunteer.org/ and to hear more of our Region News Maker interview, click Region News Makers at http://regionnewsteam.com/...
 

Traffic Backed Up SB I-65 Near Fair Oaks Farms

Traffic-Alert
Traffic tipsters are reporting a three-mile backup due to an incident on southbound I-65, just north of Fair Oaks Farms. Authorities are reportedly on the scene and no further information is available at this time. ...
 

Get Your Business Online Program Coming to Merrillville

Senator Dan Coats
Indiana U-S Senator Dan Coats on Friday announced that representatives from Google will be hosting a free workshop for Hoosier small businesses on Friday, December 6th, in Merrillville. The “Indiana Get Your Business Online” event, which will take place at the Radisson Star Plaza, from 9am to 12p., will help business owners create their own websites, and provide training on how to reach more customers online. In addition businesses in attendance can receive a customized domain name, free web hosting for one-year, and get a local business listing on Google maps as well as free tools, training and resources.
According to Google, 97 percent of Internet users look online for local products and services, yet only 53 percent of Indiana small businesses do not have a website or online presence. For more information, visit http://www.gybo.com/indiana/...
 

Crown Point Sends Donations to Kokomo

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(Photos Courtesy of the City of Crown Point)
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The City of Crown Point and Source One Real Estate expressing their deepest gratitude to everyone who donated for the Kokomo Tornado residents. City Special Events Administrator Diana Bosse says the support they received was amazing and donations kept coming in up until they were ready to leave for Kokomo at 11:30am on Friday. Two trucks and trailers full of food, cloths, blankets, supplies and more were donated to the Kokomo Urban Outreach Program.
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(One of the many homes with damage from the tornado)
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(A fire station in Kokomo that was lost due to the tornado)...
   

Ivy Tech Receives Boeing 737 for Use as Training Lab

Training Lab
(Photo Courtesy of Ivy Tech Community College)
GARY, IN — Ivy Tech Community College has received a Boeing 737-400 as a donation from the Popovich Family Trust.  The plane, valued at $1.375 million, will be utilized by the Community College for various training and teaching opportunities.
“This is a wonderful example of how a local community helps make its community college even stronger by providing the resources it needs to be successful,” said Dr. Thomas Coley, Chancellor of the Northwest and North Central regions of Ivy Tech. “There is no substitute for hands-on experience, and that’s exactly what this plane will offer our students. The plane will allow us to provide training that we would otherwise have no way of facilitating.  On behalf of Ivy Tech Community College and its students, we say thank you to the Popovich Family Trust.”
Ivy Tech will use the plane in its Emergency Response Training Lab, which opened on November 22 at the Gary/Chicago International Airport. The lab will give Ivy Tech students the chance to train with special instructors as part of their education. Students will be greatly benefited by the opportunity for response training prior to graduation, as many are studying professions in highly demanding fields. The use of the plane will allow them to be better prepared for the workforce once they have completed their degrees.
Two different types of training will be offered by the Emergency Response Training Lab. First, Ivy Tech students who are studying criminal justice, public safety, law enforcement, and fire and emergency response will have the ability to learn from seasoned professionals by observing them in training. This training provides a simulated environment with the use of an aircraft, which differs from the current training classes that are offered to these students. Ivy Tech is working with outside law, fire, and emergency responder professionals to help coordinate this training program.
Second, there will be a training program for seasoned officers, so that the officers can potentially obtain college credit for participating in the training in order to earn their continued education units (CEUs). The CEU training will be made available with the assistance of Ivy Tech Corporate College. Additionally, the Corporate College is working to establish classes so that officers can continue to work toward their degree while satisfying CEUs. The Corporate College would provide the certificates to the instructors.
In addition to the training lab, there are many other opportunities made possible by the donation of this airplane. The plane allows for an expanded partnership with the city of Gary, as it could be used for valuable training for Northern Indiana law, fire and emergency responder agencies. It will also provide job opportunities for security trainers, which is a valuable asset in a field where jobs are very limited. Finally, it allows the chance for Northwest Indiana to put itself at the forefront of this type of training. This is a unique and rare opportunity, and by using the plane for various types of training, Northwest Indiana can position itself as a leader nationwide.
The airplane is provided in its entirety by sage popovich, inc. (SPI), one of the companies owned by the Popovich Family Trust, which has been in business since 1979 and works to repossess commercial aircrafts. SPI is now the world’s largest specialist in recovery of aviation related equipment. In addition to repossessing aircrafts, they also offer services to provide asset management, monitor project-oriented contractual obligations, and offer expertise in all phases of airline and charter operations. Nick Popovich is currently working with Ivy Tech and aircraft professionals to create an endowment fund for the airplane. The goal for this endowment is between $1 and $2 million.
“My family and I established the Popovich Family Trust to fulfill our obligation to give back to the industry, to the community and to our veterans,” said Popovich.  “We accomplish this with direct scholarships, internships and assisting educational institutions, programs for children and families with special needs, and by our work with Veteran Airlift Command where we fly wounded veterans for medical treatments, unit and family reunions and memorial services.   We have high hopes for Ivy Tech and the Emergency Response Training Lab for both educational and practical training.”
Ivy Tech Community College is the state's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system serving nearly 200,000 students annually.  Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering affordable degree programs and training that are aligned with the needs of its community along with courses and programs that transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana. It is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association....
   

Gun BuyBack in Gary with GED Voucher Incentive

City of Gary
The Gary Police Department will be hosting another gun buyback event today, Saturday, November 23, from 8am-4pm at six local churches. City of Gary Director of Communications Chelsea Whittington says, in addition to receiving Wal-Mart gift cards, the first 50 people who turn in weapons that day will receive a GED testing voucher. Whittington says Pastor LaTonya Pettigrew, of St. Andrew AME Zion Church, put forth the idea back in August to have the GED incentive apart of this gun buyback event.
The participating churches are listed below:
Trinity Missionary Baptist Church
1831 Virginia St.
Pilgrim M.B. Church
1301 W. 21st Ave.
Embassies of Christ
4285 Cleveland St.
Grace Unity C.O.G.I.C.
3435 W. 21st Ave.
St. Andrew AME Zion Church
749 Chase Street
Beyond 4 Walls Christian Center
875 S. Lake St.


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FDA Approves New Drug to Fight Hepatitis C

A new drug approved by federal regulators to fight hepatitis. ABC News reports Johnson & Johnson says the drug is designed to eliminate hepatitis C, the most common form of the liver-destroying virus. Friday, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the drug that's a protease inhibitor that blocks a protein needed by the virus to replicate. The pill is taken daily in combination with other long-established drugs to fight the virus. The approval comes less than a month after an FDA advisory panel voted unanimously in favor of approving the treatment. More than 3 million people in the US have hepatitis C, a blood-borne disease that is blamed for 15,000 deaths a year. ...
   

High School Football Semi-State Finals

Only one region team will be heading to the state finals next weekend in Indianapolis. In Merrillville on Friday night undefeated Andrean had no problem verses 12-and-1 West Lafayette, winning 52-to-7 and now advance to the Class 3A state championship game.
In Class 4A, East Chicago Central traveled to Fort Wayne and was shutout 38-to-nothing. Rensselaer was also shutout, 27-to-nothing, in their Class 2A state semi-state match up verses Tipton.
Finally, host Winamac lost their Class A semi-state games against Tri-Central, 20-to-14. ...
   

Silver Alert for Missing Bloomington Man Canceled

A statewide Silver Alert for a missing 63 year old Bloomington man has been canceled. Indiana State State Police issued the cancellation for Jay Larry Bell on Friday at 6:10pm EST at the request of Bloomington Police. Bell had reportedly gone missing on Friday morning. No further information has been made available....
   

Valpo Convenience Store Robbed

Valpo PD
Police in Valparaiso are investigating a report of a convenience store being robbed on Friday evening. Valparaiso Police say around 6pm, they received a call that the Valpo Quick Pantry in the 300 block of West Lincolnway had just been robbed. Police arrived and were informed a black male allegedly displayed a handgun, requested cash from the register and then fled on foot in a northeasterly direction with an undisclosed amount of cash. The suspect is described as 5'9”-to-5'10”, wearing a hooded sweatshirt with his face partially covered. ...
   

Suspect in Outlet Mall Attempted Robbery in Custody

Nathan Hatchell
(Photo Courtesy of Michigan City Police)
A 22 year old Michigan City man was taken into custody without incident this afternoon and charged with two-counts of attempted robbery for the incident that took place Wednesday afternoon in the parking lot of Light House Place Outlet Mall. Michigan City Police report they were able to identify Nathan Hatchell as a suspect and obtained two search warrants. Hatchell was arrested at 3pm in the one-thousand block of Chicago Street. Police are thanking the public for their assistance in this investigation. ...
   

3 Men Charged in LaPorte County Home Invasions

Three men were charged in LaPorte Circuit Court today on burglary and robbery charges stemming from two separate home invasions near Michigan City and Westville earlier this year. A 34 year old, 20 year old and 16 year old are accused of forcing residents into their homes and confining and beating them, on May 13th and July 4th, and taking money. The victim's injuries were non-life threatening, and the 16 year old suspect, who also faces battery and criminal confinement charges, has been waived into adult court. A 23 year old man charged in the July 4th incident is still awaiting trial. ...
   

State Wide Silver Alert Issued for Jay Larry Bell

jay larry bell
(Photo Courtesy of Bloomington Police)
A statewide Silver Alert has been issued for a missing Bloomington man. Bloomington Police report 63 year old Jay Larry Bell, also known as “Sam” was last seen at 6am EST todayand is believed to be in danger. Bell is described as a white male, 6'3”, weighing 250 pounds, with short gray hair, mustache and beard, has hazel eyes, a mole in the center of his forehead and on his right nostril and a diamond and green earring in his left ear. Bell was last seen wearing a long sleeve blue Kentucky Wildcats shirt, dark jeans, white and green tennis shoes and a black University of Kentucky hat. Anyone with any information on Jay Larry Bell, who police say maybe disoriented and require medical attention, is asked to contact the Bloomington Police Department at (812) 349-3300....
   

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