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(Photo Courtesy of Senator Charbonneau's Office)
STATEHOUSE (June 28, 2013) — On Thursday, State Senator Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) along with other elected officials had the privilege of presenting Indiana Beverage CEO Bruce Leetz with the Sagamore of the Wabash Award on behalf of Governor Mike Pence. The Sagamore is the highest honor that the governor can bestow and is only presented to distinguished Hoosiers who have made incredible contributions to the state. This month celebrates Leetz’s 50th year in business, creating countless jobs in Northwest Indiana.
“He is the epitome of what the award stands for,” said State Senator Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso). “In addition to his success in business, Bruce personifies the term ‘gentleman.’ His achievements and contributions are products of his character.”
Leetz began working at Valpo Beverages in 1963 and was later appointed president in 1970. As the company expanded, increasing its distribution from Porter County to seven total counties, Valpo Beverages changed its name to North Coast Distributing and appointed Leetz as CEO. Under Leetz, the company continued to expand, employing more Hoosiers, and in 2012, merged with Indiana Beer to become Indiana Beverage.
Dating back to the mid-1940s, the Sagamore Award was created by Governor Ralph Gates. The term “sagamore,” used by the Northeastern United States Native American Tribes, refers to a great man that the tribal chief would look to for wisdom and advice. The award is the highest honor that the governor can bestow and is presented to Hoosiers who have rendered distinguished service to the state, contributing greatly to Indiana’s rich heritage.
“This honor is so well deserved. We are pleased to see Bruce properly recognized for his contribution to the industry and to our community,” said Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas.
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(Photo Courtesy of the Indiana State Police Lowell Post)
A husband and wife were airlifted to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after a crash just before 10am this morning on northbound I-65. Indiana State Police Lowell Post report a preliminary investigation revealed a pick up driven by a 66 year old DeMotte man left the roadway, about four-miles south of the DeMotte/Roselawn exit, then came back onto the roadway in the right lane, then entered the left lane and hit another pick up driven by a 53 year old Alabama woman. Authorities say that impact caused the Alabama woman's vehicle to veer off the road onto the median, where struck the concrete median barrier wall. State Police report I-65 had to be closed for a time for the landing of the helicopter that flew the Alabama woman and her 68 year old husband to Indianapolis with non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the other pickup that caused the crash suffered minor injuries.
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LAKE STATION, Ind. – Today Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s Office filed a lawsuit in Lake County to recover nearly $42,000 from a former extracurricular school treasurer who, according to an audit, misappropriated elementary school funds.
Named as defendant in the Attorney General’s lawsuit is Jane Woynaroski, who until March 2013 was extracurricular treasurer at Virgil I. Bailey Elementary School in Lake Station, Ind., where she was in charge of collecting school fees and depositing them.
According to a special investigative audit by the State Board of Accounts, Woynaroski failed to deposit $23,003.27 in elementary school funds into school accounts over a five-year period from July 2008 to March 2013. Because of the incomplete and inadequate condition of the financial records Woynaroski kept, the State Board of Accounts incurred another $18,843.83 in auditing costs reconstructing her transactions. In the lawsuit the Attorney General’s Office filed today, the State demands Woynaroski repay both amounts, a total $41,847.10.
“It is very disheartening to see the brazen violation of the public trust by this defendant in misappropriating elementary school funds and it sends a terrible signal to students and parents. My office will use all legal means at our disposal to compel this individual to repay what she owes the school system and the taxpayers,” Zoeller said.
The State Board of Accounts audit issued June 18 found that Woynaroski regularly failed to properly deposit fundraising money, textbook rental fees and other official receipts into the elementary school’s bank account. Examiners reviewing deposit slips found Woynaroski misappropriated school funds by not recording and depositing cash receipts. Additionally, Woynaroski replaced cash deposits with checks received for other purposes, which were not properly recorded.
Today in Lake County Superior Court 11 in Crown Point, Ind., the Attorney General’s Office, acting as collection agent for the State, filed a complaint to recover public funds against Woynaroski, seeking $41,847.10, plus attorneys’ fees and treble damages.
Zoeller’s office today also sought a temporary restraining order against Woynaroski to prevent her from selling, transferring or concealing financial assets such as two properties, three vehicles, bank accounts and retirement accounts. Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider granted the temporary restraining order, which is in effect until a court hearing July 10 on the Attorney General’s motion for a preliminary injunction, which would freeze Woynaroski’s assets indefinitely until the overall lawsuit is concluded. The purpose of the temporary restraining order and injunction is to preserve whatever assets are available so that the State is able to recover something later to reimburse the Lake Station Community Schools' treasury for the amount owed.
If the court eventually enters a civil judgment against Woynaroski, then the Attorney General’s Office can pursue a civil collections action against her to garnish wages, attach liens, or take other actions any creditor can take against a debtor to collect on a debt.
Also named in the Attorney General’s lawsuit are two bonding companies that provided surety bond coverage over the extracurricular treasurer position. Ohio Casualty Insurance Company provided $5,000 in bond coverage each year from July 2008 to July 2012, and Selective Insurance Company of America provided $10,000 in bond coverage for July 2012 to July 2013. By naming the bonding companies as defendants, the Attorney General’s Office hopes to recover the bond money to reimburse the school treasury. Any amount not covered by bonds, however, would be Woynaroski’s personal responsibility.
Decisions about filing criminal charges in audit cases are solely the jurisdiction of county prosecutors, not the Attorney General. Whether a public employee is civilly responsible for repaying misappropriated funds is a separate issue from whether they are criminally responsible for a loss. Through his role as collection agent for the State, the Attorney General has legal jurisdiction to file civil lawsuits to recover public funds based on State Board of Accounts certified audit reports.
Since January 2009, the Attorney General's Office has collected more than $2.4 million from former local government officials whom the State Board of Accounts found had misappropriated public money. Many of the acts of misappropriation occurred because an individual had the ability to divert or embezzle public funds with no oversight or supervision. Earlier this year, the Legislature passed a bill that Attorney General Zoeller had recommended, House Enrolled Act 1333, which authorized a legislative study of requiring internal accounting controls – such as dual signatures – on public employees who handle public money. Zoeller noted that if two or more employees were required to sign off on large transactions involving public funds, then misappropriation and embezzlement would be more difficult for one individual to commit without being detected.
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Authorities are battling a reported car fire in Valparaiso. Tipsters reported the incident just before 1pm this afternoon near the Hampton Inn on Silhavy Road. Valparaiso Police Dispatch reports fire crews are on the scene and that the car fire is located on a side road between the hotel and the Raymond James Building. No further information is available at this time.
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11:40am CDT: Indiana State Police Lowell Post report lanes open now, but traffic was stopped earlier after a crash on the northbound side of Interstate 65 just south of Roselawn. The crash reportedly occurred on or near the overpass at mile marker 225. Police report significant delays are still being seen on the interstate through that area.
Phase two of the five-points roundabout project in Valparaiso is officially underway. City officials say the eastern half of the intersection of Calumet Avenue, Roosevelt Road and Vale Park, will be under construction, with the east approach of Vale Park and the east half of Calumet closed. Traffic on Calumet will be reduced to one lane in either direction, shifted to the western half of the roadway (currently the southbound lanes).
From the city:
NOTE REGARDING TRUCK TRAFFIC: Due to the narrowed lanes on Calumet during phases 2 and 3 of construction, trucks will NOT be permitted to travel through the intersection. A truck detour route will be posted (see below for detour route). Business owners in the area are encouraged to instruct delivery drivers ahead of time of these restrictions and direct them to the detour route shown, or plan for alternate routes that will better accommodate their individual business.
[Phase 2 Image from City of Valparaiso website]
More info plus detour map here: http://www.ci.valparaiso.in.us/index.aspx?NID=1243
Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann will oversee the agency and joins several state agencies already engaged in support of small business enterprise.
“Our teams at the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), Indiana Housing and Community Development (IHCDA), the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) and the Indiana Office of Defense Development (IODD) are already providing outreach and opportunities for Indiana small businesses,” said Ellspermann. “We believe the synergies created by our cross collaborations will foster greater capacity building for individuals and their communities as they explore new ways to create jobs and expand.”
OSBE will focus on business consulting, specialty programming, and integrating universities, private sector business and government stakeholders. A newly-created business ombudsman will help to streamline state programs, licensing and permitting processes.
The agency’s overall goal is to develop an entrepreneurial climate for new talent and business opportunities, attracting both human and financial capital to Indiana.
Ellspermann has appointed Jacob Schpok as the Executive Director of the new agency. Schpok is a graduate of Ball State’s nationally recognized entrepreneurship program and has been with ISBDC since 2005, serving as director since 2011.
After multiple rounds of strong storms causing damage and power outages this week, some traffic signals remain out in Region.
At last report, these signals were out:
In Hammond, Calumet Avenue and 171st and 165th Streets
In Hobart, State Road 130 and County Line Road
The Statue of Liberty stands again at Gateway Park in downtown Gary. The eight-foot-tall replica, reportedly blown off its pedestal at 4th and Broadway during a wind storm in the summer of 2008, returned this Spring, thanks to the efforts of a number of people, including Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Hamady, whose mother, who worked at US Steel Gary Works just down the road, asked him if it was still there. Hamady tells the Times he worked with county and city officials to track the statue down, and asked Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson about it, who learned it was down for repairs and being stored in a building nearby. The copper statue is one of 200 Lady Liberty's Little Sisters distributed to cities around the state and the country between 1949 and 1951 by the Boy Scouts of America for the organization's 40th anniversary.
In northern Indiana, other Lady Liberty's Little Sisters statues were installed in Plymouth and South Bend outside the Marshall and St. Joseph County Courthouses.
[Photo/Restore Gary's Statue of Liberty Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/pages/Restore-Garys-Statue-of-Liberty/235612253142166 ]
Areas of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore national normally closed after sunset will remain open so the public can watch the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce “Fireworks on the Lakefront” event staged off the coast of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Indiana Dunes State Park on July 2.
The entire Lake Michigan shoreline in Porter County, east of the NIPSCO generating station, is within Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. The park boundary extends 300 feet into the lake. The National Park Service says under current park regulations, this shoreline is closed to public use 30 minutes after sunset. In order to accommodate the fireworks event the shoreline from Dune Acres to Lake View will be open until 11:30 p.m. on July 2. Other park regulations, including the prohibition of the use of personal use fireworks on the beach and the prohibition of glass containers on the beach, will remain in effect.
More information from the National Park Service:
The following areas will remain open on July 2, 2013, until 11:30 p.m.:
· Wabash Avenue parking lots and restrooms
· Kemil access (East State Park Road) parking lots and restrooms
· Dunbar parking lot and restroom
· Lake View parking lot and restroom
· Beach below the toe of the dune and park waters from the west end of West Road in Dune Acres to Lake View
All other closures and use limits in the 2013 Superintendent’s Compendium and 36 CFR remain unchanged. The public closure regulations remain in effect for all other areas of the park. The complete set of park regulations can be found on the park website www.nps.gov/indu/parkmgmt/lawsandpolicies.htm
There are no fees charged for parking in National Park Service parking lots, but, parking is extremely limited and lots are expected to fill long before sunset.
National Park Service personnel will be on duty during the event to provide law enforcement, emergency medical services, crowd control, parking management, and maintenance of National Park Service areas. The National Park Service is supporting this event by waiving the normal Special Use Permit requirements, including fees and cost recovery charges.
If the fireworks event is rained out and rescheduled, the park’s open hours will not change on July 2, and the regulations as amended will apply to the rain date of July 5, 2013.
[Photo/Duneland Chamber of Commerce http://chestertonchamber.chambermaster.com/events/details/fireworks-on-the-lakefront-1204 ]
LAKE COUNTY TRAFFIC SAFETY PARTNERSHIP
Cedar Lake PD, Crown Point PD, Dyer PD, East Chicago PD, Griffith PD, Highland PD, Hobart PD, Lowell PD, Munster PD, New Chicago PD, Schererville PD, St. John PD
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District Advisory for FRIDAY JUNE 28 2013:
Because of the Blackhawks’ Celebration alcohol is prohibited on ALL trains.
We encourage eastbound passengers to board South Shore trains at Van Buren or Millennium Station. Museum Campus/11th St. station is not designed to handle the eastbound
crowds we’re expecting.
At Van Buren Street Station South Shore passengers must board trains from TRACK 2 platform between the hours of NOON and 3:20 p.m.
We will add cars to off-peak trains and will provide an extra westbound train in Train 14’s time slot and an extra eastbound train early in the afternoon to address overcrowding. We have scheduled as much extra service as we can given our fleet size and manpower.
Passengers should expect very crowded conditions, especially on eastbound trains departing Chicago after 12:00 noon on Friday. During the Blackhawks celebration in 2010 daily ridership surged from 12,000 to 21,000 passengers.
NICTD Website: www.nictd.com
NIPSCO Crews making repairs in La Porte County Wednesday
Another round of strong storms brought additional power outages to the Region Thursday night, with the Highland, Hammond, Munster area especially hard hit. NIPSCO says an additional 28-thousand customers in their service territory lost electricity. Crews have been working around the clock making repairs since earlier this week, when 105-thousand customers were impacted by severe weather. Assessment teams were out last night, and NIPSCO says fallen trees had to be cleared from lines before significant power restoration efforts can ramp up early today [Friday morning.]
NIPSCO Outage Map: http://www.nipscooutages.com/WSSNisourceOutageMap/outagemap.html?action=city&reloaded=true
Kankakee Valley REMC says about 3,000 of their members in Lake, Porter and LaPorte County experienced a power outage due to the Thursday evening storm that affected a NIPSCO transmission line that feeds two of REMC's substations.
Police in Highland are investigating an armed robbery that took place just before noon on Wednesday. Authorities report a female entered Doctor's Pharmacy in the 27-hundred block of Highway Avenue at approximately 11:46am, and reportedly handed the clerk a note demanding narcotics and cash, and then displayed a handgun tucked inside her pants. Police say after the clerk complied, the suspect fled on foot. The suspect is described as a very thin white woman, in her mid 20's to mid 30's, weighing approximately 120-pounds, wearing a black baseball hat, gray camouflage hooded sweatshirt, a bright orange colored tank top, and black pants. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Highland Police Department at (219) 838-3184....
This weekend Indiana Conservation Officers will be out in force in lakes and rivers for a boating under the influence detection and enforcement campaign. Conservation Officer Jake Carlile says Operation Dry Water, June 28th through the 30th, is aimed at reducing the number of alcohol-related accidents and fatalities, and to foster a stronger and more visible deterrent to alcohol use on the water.
Nationally, 17-percent of boating fatalities involve alcohol use, and in 2012, there were 62 boating accidents in Indiana involving 22 injuries and two fatalities.
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WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.), ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, issued the following statement regarding Senate passage of comprehensive immigration reform legislation:
“The American people deserve an immigration system that is fair, effective and delivers on past promises to secure our nation’s borders. While there are some good measures in this legislation, the bill does not avert the fundamental mistake of the 1986 immigration reform act – granting legal status with only promises, not proven results, of border security. In order to obtain the trust of the American people, this legislation needs to ensure real results on securing our borders before beginning the path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
“As the son of an immigrant and the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, I will continue working for immigration reform, border security and other measures to successfully address the flow of illegal immigration. I hope the House of Representatives will come forward with alternative legislation that is more credible than what the Senate passed today.”
The Senate passed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S.744) in a vote of 68 to 32.
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Washington, D.C. –Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement after the Senate passed bipartisan immigration reform legislation, S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, with a vote of 68 to 32.
“The immigration system in our country is clearly not working. Today, our broken system has resulted in a policy of de facto amnesty for 11 million undocumented immigrants living in our country illegally. Like all Hoosiers, I believe citizenship is a privilege, and I have long argued that effective immigration reform requires strong borders, strict laws that punish those who break the rules, and a tough process for those who want to earn the opportunity for citizenship.
“This afternoon, I supported the bipartisan legislation before the Senate because it would create a practical policy that strengthens our borders, protects and grows our economy, and holds accountable those who have broken the law. At the core of this bill is a bipartisan proposal, which I helped introduce, that would enact the strongest border security measures in our nation’s history. The plan would double the size of our border patrol, construct 700 miles of fencing, invest in the tools and technologies necessary to stop the flow of illegal immigration, and require all employers to use the E-Verify system to ensure they hire legal workers. At the same time, the bill would require undocumented immigrants who have broken the law to register with the government, pay taxes and fines, learn English, and go to the back of the line.
“The United States has a rich tradition built upon the hard work of immigrant citizens. While today’s bill is not perfect, it would create a responsible policy and fair process that will allow this tradition to continue. My focus is always on what is best for Hoosier workers, middle class families, and business owners. By strengthening our borders and ending de facto amnesty, I think we also strengthen our state and our country’s economic future.”
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON S.744
S.744: TOUGH ON THOSE WHO BROKE THE RULES:
1. PROVISIONAL STATUS REQUIREMENTS:
This bill would require those living in this country with de facto amnesty to meet the following requirements to reach provisional status, only after DHS notifies Congress that the border security and fencing strategies are underway:
· have not been convicted of certain criminal offenses, including a felony or three or more separate misdemeanors;
· pay all assessed Federal taxes;
· submit biometric data (fingerprints and photographs)
· pass a background check; and
· pay application processing fees and a $1,000 fine per adult.
Limit Federal Benefits:
· Those with provisional status would not be eligible for Federal means-tested benefits including non-emergency Medicaid, CHIP, SSI, SNAP, and TANF.
· No immigrant could claim Social Security credit for periods while they were working illegally.
· Under this bill, HHS could not grant waivers to states to allow them to use TANF dollars to give cash assistance to people with provisional status.
Must Renew Provisional Status After 6 Years: Initial provisional status would be valid for 6 years, at which point the immigrant would need to apply for an extension. Also, this bill would require the immigrant to:
· demonstrate continued eligibility,
· pay application processing fees, and
· demonstrate proof of regular employment or enrollment in a qualifying educational program.
Provisional Status Not Guaranteed and Can Be Revoked at Any Time: Provisional status can be revoked if an immigrant fails to meet the eligibility requirements.
2. GREEN CARD REQUIREMENTS:
After 10 years of provisional status and only if the border security conditions are satisfied, those with provisional status can apply to be permanent residents if they:
· continue to meet criteria for provisional status,
· meet employment or education requirements,
· prove that they are learning English,
· register for the draft (if applicable), and
· pay application processing fees and a $1,000 fine per adult.
Back of the Line Requirement: No one with provisional status would be able to apply for permanent residency until immigrant visas have become available for all approved employment- and family-based petitions in the visa queue backlog.
3. CITIZENSHIP REQUIREMENTS:
The bill would require immigrants pursuing citizenship to work through a no less than 13-year process. Immigrants who are approved for permanent resident status can apply for U.S. citizenship no less than 3 years after reaching permanent residency status.
S. 744: STRENGTHENING OUR BORDERS
Under this bill, before DHS could begin to process immigrants’ applications for provisional status, DHS must notify Congress that it has developed and started to implement a Border Security Strategy and Fencing Strategy.
After 10 years, immigrants with provisional status could apply for green cards only if the Secretary of Homeland Security in consultation with the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense, the DHS Inspector General, and the Comptroller General certify to Congress and the President that the following five security and enforcement measures have been implemented:
· The Border Security Strategy is deployed and operational including at a minimum full implementation and activation of $4.5 billion in specific technology and equipment requested by the Border Patrol to achieve full surveillance of the border.
· No fewer than 38,405 trained full-time active duty Border Patrol agents are deployed and maintained along the Southern Border (an increase of 20k over the existing 18k agents already deployed).
· No fewer than 700 miles of pedestrian fencing are in place on the Southern Border (350 miles more than existing 350 miles).
· E-Verify is mandatory for all employers.
· DHS has implemented an electronic biographical exit/entry system at all international air and sea ports of entry within the United States where CBP and Border Patrol officers are stationed.
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- LaPorte PD Wanted Person of the Week Anthony Carter
- Gary Clean Water Celebration Press Conference Saturday
- Major Backup Eastbound I-80/94 Due to Crash
- Changes to Business and Securities Laws Start July 1st
- Valpo Economic Dir to Join City's Board of Works and Safety
- Trial of Man Accused of Molesting a Child Ends in Hung Jury
- Friday Rules for South Shore Riders
- Fairgrounds Park Reopens
- New Immediate Care Center in Lake Co
- Cong Visclosky Reax to DOMA Ruling
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