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Indiana Prepares to 'Drop, Cover and Hold On'

Hear our interview with John Erickson from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security about today's drill at News Audio on Demand here at our website.
The fourth Great Central U.S. ShakeOut earthquake drill is this morning [Thursday, October 17, 2013] 10:17 local time. Half-a-million people in Indiana are expected to “Drop, Cover and Hold On” as part of today's self-led drills also taking place in nine other states.
Endorsed by emergency officials and first responders, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security says the proper response to an earthquake is to: 
-          Drop to the ground
-          Take Cover under a sturdy table or desk if possible, protecting your head and neck
-          Hold On until the shaking stops
To take part in the ShakeOut, individuals and organizations are asked to sign up to participate in the drill by visiting . Once registered, participants receive information about showcase events in their area and regular information on how to plan their drill and become better prepared for earthquakes and other disasters. Participants include individuals, schools, businesses, local and state government agencies, and many other groups.
“Being prepared for an earthquake means you’re prepared for the hazards Indiana faces each year,” said IDHS Senior Public Information Officer John Erickson. “Many of the same preparations for an earthquake apply to tornadoes, flooding and winter storms. A large earthquake in or near Indiana could have a major impact on the population and national transportation, communication, utility, and financial systems.  The ShakeOut is a great annual event to help keep Hoosiers thinking about preparing for earthquakes and other possible emergencies.”
Nearly 3 million people participated in the third Central U.S. ShakeOut in February 2013, which was coordinated by the Central U.S. Earthquake Consortium (CUSEC) and the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma and Tennessee. To align with other states and regions throughout the country, Erickson said the Central U.S. ShakeOut will occur the third Thursday of October going forward. So this drill will include not only 10 states in the central U.S. but also 40 other states and territories nationwide, with about 12 million expected participants. ...

Lake Michigan Most Dangerous Among Great Lakes

greatlakesripcurrents Lake Michigan continues to be the most dangerous of the Great Lakes when it comes to deadly rip currents.  The National Weather Service says 18 of the 21 incidents related to rip currents on the Great Lakes so far this year were on Lake Michigan.  Furthermore, since 2002, 321 rip current-related incidents involving rescue or death were reported on Lake Michigan, as opposed to 113 such incidents on all of the other Great Lakes combined.   Of the three counties along Indiana's South Shore, Porter County has been the most dangerous since 2002.  The National Weather Service report says tourism and conditions favorable to rip-currents combine to make Lake Michigan more dangerous than her sister lakes. ...

Illiana Toll Rd Vote Ahead in Illinois

Chicago planners are taking another vote today on the Illiana Expressway. The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning's policy committee will consider whether or not to include the proposed 47-mile tollway linking I-65 in south Lake County to I-55 in Illinois in the Go To 2040 plan, a long-term development plan for Chicagoland, an important step in getting federal funding for the estimated one-point-three-billion-dollar project. C-MAP board members voted ten-to-four against it last week.
Meanwhile, the Active Transportation Alliance, a non-profit transportation advocacy group, is urging Metra and PACE, to reverse their yes votes supporting the construction of the Illiana. The group says two more transit agencies, CTA and RTA, abstained from voting, and transit agencies are cheduled to vote again in a final, binding vote today (Thu Oct 17).
Supporters of the project say the highway would reduce congestion on other highways in the area.
In early September, the Metropolitan Planning Council, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group of business and civic leaders in the Chicago area, announced it was opposed to including Illiana in Go To 2040, contending the highway does not "demonstrate signfiicant transportation or economic benefits in exchange for high and uncertain costs".
In Northwest Indiana, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) has four open houses scheduled next month on the proposed highway. NIRPC has votes scheduled in December on whether or not to include the project in its 2040 plan, which pushes it forward for federal funding....

Indiana Lawmakers Respond to DC Deal

Coats, Donnelly, Visclosky
Federal employees are heading back to work today, after a 16-day government shutdown kept them off the job.  Here are statements released by Indiana US Senators Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly and First District Congressman Pete Visclosky on the deal announced Wednesday to reopen the federal government.
Indiana US Senator Dan Coats:
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today issued the following statement after voting for legislation to fund the federal government through January 15, 2013 and raise the debt ceiling through February 7, 2013:
“I returned to public service to make the difficult choices necessary to tackle our debt and restore our country’s fiscal footing. To my great disappointment, once again Congress is kicking the can down the road and ignoring what needs to be done.
“While I deplore supporting yet another short-term Band-Aid, the only thing worse would be a continued government shutdown, the United States defaulting on its debt obligations and the elimination of the spending reductions enacted by Congress in 2011.
“I have voted for and will continue to support efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare with common-sense health care reforms. It is evident to me that the present strategy has failed to sway the president or Senate Democrats. As we’ve seen from Obamacare’s disastrous rollout, this law’s failures are more than mere glitches, and the fight to repeal it must continue. 
“I am disappointed with this outcome, but my commitment to reducing our debt, growing the economy and getting Americans back to work will not waver. I will be an integral part of the ongoing effort to address our nation’s serious financial challenges.”
The legislation passed the Senate 81 to 18.
Indiana US Senator Joe DonnellY:
Washington, D.C.—This afternoon, Senator Joe Donnelly spoke with members of the Indiana media to discuss the Senate’s bipartisan agreement that would reopen the federal government and ensure the country continues to pay its bills.  He also discussed his role as one of 14 senators from both parties who worked on a bipartisan framework that helped break the gridlock.  
When asked about what he heard from Hoosiers about the shutdown, Senator Donnelly said they were asking Congress to get back to work.  He said, “Every day we spent working on this was one day we couldn’t be working on putting more Hoosiers into additional employment.  This country works best when every mom and dad is working and has a chance to take care of their kids and their families. And that’s my focus, and I think that’s what everybody back home wants. Look: run the shop, run it right, keep the spending down, create more jobs.”
Additional comments from the call follow.
“I approach this job that I have been given the honor of having with the common sense we have as Hoosiers, the common sense that I pledged to bring to the U.S. Senate if I was elected last year.  And that means working with both parties to get things done, it means working to be a constructive part of the process.  This is what people of Indiana expect from me and what I try to do every day.
“I have for the past few weeks been a part of a group of now 14 senators…6 Democrats, 1 Independent, and 7 Republicans who have met several times over the past couple of weeks to putting  together a bipartisan framework to get the government operating and ensure we continue to pay our bills. This is about the jobs in Indiana, making sure we don’t have any interruptions in creating more jobs, about our families making ends meet.  It’s about our economy.  It’s about our nation’s reputation.
“I think we need more people focused on what’s best for Indiana, what’s best for our nation, and less about what’s best in politics. This is not about Democrat, this is not about Republican, it’s about America.  That’s what Hoosiers sent me here to do, and that’s what I have tried to do the past few weeks and since my first day in office.”
First District Congressman Pete Visclosky:
“I supported the budget agreement reached in the United State Senate in order to reopen the federal government and ensure that our financial obligations are met. For some years, Congress has failed in its responsibility to provide for the predictable and efficient delivery of services and protections important to all Americans. This failure has reduced the effectiveness of our government and distracted attention from strengthening our economy and creating good-paying jobs. Despite past disappointments, I am committed to working hard with all of my colleagues to use this temporary respite as a real opportunity to comprehensively address our national budget in a balanced fashion, and to achieve the reasoned and timely completion of all Fiscal Year 2014 funding measures with an emphasis on investing in our economy.” Congressman Visclosky said....

219: Lake Hills Haunted House

Halloween is right around the corner and what better way to celebrate than by checking out a Haunted House in the Region! We spoke with Mike Forbes, House Manager at Lake Hills Haunted House about what makes his haunted house stand out. Check out the full interview in today's 219 On Demand....

Carbon Monoxide Suspected in Family's Death

Two adults and two children in Merrillville have been found dead, the apparent victims of carbon monoxide poisoning, according to local officials.   The Lake County Coroners office says 41-year-old Micheal Nichols, 38-year-old Kennetha Purnell, 13-year-old Matthew Nichols and 11-year-old Morgan Nichols were pronounced dead shortly after 7-o'clock Wednesday night inside a home in the 800 block of West 70th Avenue. The cause of death for all four was pending as of late Wednesday night, according to the coroners office.
Merrillville Police Detective Commander Jeff Rice says police responded to a home at about 5:30 Wednesday evening to conduct a welfare check, and found four people dead. Through the investigation, officers say they determined that the family was moving into the home and did not have the power turned on.  A gas generator was located in the attached garage with power cords connected to various electronics in the home, police say.  Detective Commander Rice says all exterior doors and windows were closed....

Portage PD Seeking Help with Unsolved Homicides

portage pd
The Portage Police Department is seeking the public's assistance regarding three unsolved homicide cases.
The first case involves Bradley Bothwell, a 47 year white male found deceased in a field behind Walgreens on U-S 6 and Willowcreek Road on August 29th, 2006, who was last seen at Walmart in the days leading up to his death.
The second case concerns Jeremiah Higgins, who was shot to death at his Canden Avenue apartment on May 15th, 2009, by a male suspect described as a dark skinned black man in his late teens or early twenties, with an athletic build, six-foot to six-foot-three inches tall. A female suspect is described as possibly Hispanic or a light skinned black woman, five-foot-five to five-foot-seven inches tall, with long black hair. Higgins was shot by the suspect who kept asking for someone named “Tommy” and wanted to know where “the money” was.   To view a video account of the Higgins case, click ">
The third case took place on December 10th, 2012, where 38 year old Wilson Rivera was shot to death near his vehicle, which was parked just north of the railroad tracks in the 21-hundred block of Crisman Road, at approximately 5:30pm.
Anyone with information regarding these three unsolved homicides is asked to contact Portage Police Detective Captain Joe Reynolds at (219) 764-5704 and all callers can remain anonymous....

Lake Co Commissioners Double Funds for Cover Crops

Farmers in Lake County will get twice as much money from Lake County officials to reduce soil erosion and fertilizer runoff. Meeting as the county drainage board, Lake County Commissioners today pledged eight-thousand dollars to cover about 400 acres with cover crops. The money will be doled out on a first-come, first-serve basis. ...

Shade Brigade Plants Over 80 Trees in Valpo

Two tree planting events were recently held in Valparaiso where over 80 trees were planted. Ann Brugos, Coordinator for Shade Brigade of Valparaiso, says 20 different variety of trees that are, for the most part, native to northwest Indiana were planted at Jessee-Pifer and at Keystone Commons, which were both chosen due to strong neighborhood support. Brugos says Keystone Commons was also chosen due to the devastation done by the emerald ash borer to the ash trees there. To hear more of our interview, click and to learn more about trees visit

Portage Parks Dept Reports Missing Money Bag

portage pd
Portage Police are investigating a report of a money bag containing an undisclosed amount of cash being missing from the Portage Parks Department Woodland Park office. Police report the Parks Superintendent reported the incident on Tuesday and stated the bag had been stolen sometime between Sunday and Monday. The Parks Superintendent informed officers the bar tender dropped off the money bag through a door slot in a secure room, which was witnessed by another employee early Sunday morning. On Monday, another employee, who was suppose to deliver the money bag to the accounting office, informed her the bag was missing, but the Parks Superintendent told officers her story changed slightly, from the bag was not there to she picked it up and put it on her desk, then to being unsure if she had even seen it. The Parks Superintendent says only herself and the employee whose story changed have keys to the office where the money is kept and there were no signs of forced entry to the room....

Strack and Van Til Delivers Generosity to Health Clinics

strack and van til 1
(Photos Courtesy of Franciscan Alliance)
Franciscan Alliance today announced Strack and Van Til food market delivered generosity to two of their health clinics. The donations of five-thousand dollars each were presented to Catherine McAuley Clinic and to St. Clare Health clinic to serve their uninsured and working-poor clients. The donations come from proceeds received from Strack and Van Til's second annual charity golf outing. The two health clinics were selected as part of the 37 store food giant's efforts to support agencies that provide community services to the less fortunate.
strack and van til 2 ...

Daniels Presents Model for University Growrth

daniels 1
Purdue University President and former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels was in Hammond today to address the October general membership luncheon of the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce. With college enrollment down in 2012—for the first time since 1999—and tuition costs up, Daniels stressed the importance of adapting to marketplace demand, knowledge he said he gained in part from his time as governor.
daniels 3
Sighting increased college tuition costs and competition from more economic-friendly, online colleges, Daniels's “Purdue Moves” plan aims to address those problems through initiatives such as improving education in science, technology, science and math, world-changing research (such as advancing Purdue's plant-science research and new drug discovery), increasing overseas study opportunities and gearing Purdue toward becoming a year-round university.
Other parts of the initiative include a tuition-cost freeze and other cost controlling measures in order to make Purdue a better overall value to students. After his presentation, Daniels remained to answer questions from those in attendance.
daniels 2 ...

Cline Ave Ramps to WB I-80/94 Closed this Weekend

Indot Logo color
Starting Friday evening, both the south and northbound Cline Avenue ramps to westbound I-80/94 will be closed. INDOT reports crews will be repaving sections of the ramp as part of a larger project involving I-80/94, between Cline Avenue and the Illinois state line. Work will continue through Monday morning. Drivers wishing to travel from Cline Avenue to westbound I-80/94 will be detoured east on I-80/94 to the northbound Broadway exit, then back on I-80/94 westbound....

Knox Man Faces More Sexual Misconduct Charges

keith thatcher
(Photo Courtesy of the Indiana State Police Lowell Post)
A 36 year old Knox man currently incarcerated at the LaPorte County Jail is facing additional sexual misconduct with a minor charges. Keith Thatcher was arrested on September 3rd after an Indiana State Police investigation revealed sexual misconduct involving a 15 year old girl that had been taking place since July of 2012. Authorities report Thatcher was a family acquaintance at the time of the alleged incident, which occurred in Michigan City. State Police say the family moved to Pulaski County in September of 2012, when Thatcher allegedly began molesting and had sexual misconduct with the victim's 8 year old sister, which continued until July of this year. Thatcher was served a warrant today by the Pulaski County Prosecutor's Office for one-count of felony child molestation and for one-count of sexual misconduct with a minor and he will eventually be extradited to Pulaski County. ...

Suspect On the Lamb After Robbery in Dyer

Police in Dyer at last check were still seeking a suspect who allegedly robbed a gas station early Tuesday in the five-hundred block of Joliet Street. Police report the suspect pulled out a large knife and demanded money, and then fled on foot. An officer reportedly tried to stop a vehicle leaving the crime scene, but after a chase the suspect vehicle crashed near 215th Street and Sheffield Avenue and the suspect escaped. A physical description of the suspect has not yet been made available but authorities say the person in question is known to them and charges could be filed as soon as tomorrow....

Region Aviation Affected by Shutdown

Ed Bolen, President/CEO, National Business Aviation Association
Airports in the Region... like Gary/Chicago International... may be feeling the effects of the federal government shutdown in ways that aren't highly visible, more under the radar, so to speak. Ed Bolen, President and CEO of the National Business Aviation Association, told the Region News Team today that a number of operators in and around northwest Indiana are affected. "We've heard from B. Coleman Aviation, which is a start-up company," and they're just at a standstill, Bolen said.  He says if "you just look at general aviation airports in a 25-mile radius of Gary," that represents over a 200-million dollar a year economic impact.  Bolen says the annual economic impact of aviation in Indiana is over six-billion dollars.The Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Aircraft Registry has been closed during the shutdown, halting the sale and purchase of aircraft in the US and preventing the renewal of aircraft registrations since the beginning of the month. The association says the shutdown has effectively grounded the general aviation industry, severely jeopardizing countless jobs, and America’s economy and infrastructure, noting many entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes rely on the airplanes for business flights, as do communities, for critical services including medical transport, mail delivery and firefighting.
To hear our interview with Ed Bolen, visit News Audio on Demand here at our website....

IUN PD Lieutenant Named Chief at IU Kokomo

Lt. Wayne James recently visited the Region News Team studios, along with IU Northwest Police Chief Patricia Nowak, for a Region Newsmakers interview that can be heard here at our website.
Indiana University Director of Public Safety Jerry Minger and Susan Sciame-Giesecke, interim chancellor of IU Kokomo, have announced the appointment of Wayne James as campus police chief. He began serving in his position Oct. 1.
James, 33, most recently served as operations lieutenant for the IU Police Department Northwest in Gary, Ind. He began as a patrol officer there in 2009.  James was also an officer in the New Chicago Police Department in Indiana from 2003 to 2010, rising from patrol officer to the rank of detective sergeant. In 2009, he was commended for his work on a drug-related incident in which he arrested six suspects. In 2011, while serving as sergeant for the IU Police Department Northwest, he received a medal of valor or his actions during an off-campus incident that helped save a man’s life and secure a suspected shooter.
As police chief at IU Kokomo, he will provide leadership, direction and oversight for all campus law enforcement functions.
“We are extremely pleased to welcome Wayne to his new role as police chief at Indiana University’s Kokomo campus,” Minger said. “His record of outstanding service, leadership skills and constant willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty make him an excellent choice to oversee police services and the safety of the IU Kokomo community.”
“Wayne brings a wealth of expertise in public safety and management to our campus,” Sciame-Giesecke said. “I look forward to working with him to continue providing a safe environment where our students, faculty and staff can learn and work.”
James said he is looking forward to being part of the IU Kokomo community and implementing a “Coffee with a Cop” program.
“I like the small-campus atmosphere,” he said. “I’m going to make sure to be available to work with all the students, faculty and staff. I’m a people person, and I look forward to developing a strategic plan and vision for our police department.”
James graduated from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy and is currently earning a bachelor’s degree in public safety management. He plans to move to Kokomo with his daughter.  [Photo/Indiana University]...

Roof Repairs Continue at Gary Metro Center

Gary Public Transit is reminding passengers that boarding and bus circulation detours and roof work continue at the Adam Benjamin Metro Center. Federal and city funds are going toward fixing the roof at the downtown transportation center at 4th and Broadway, which is also a main stop for the South Shore train. Gary Public Transportation Corporation is housed at the commuter station.  [Photo/Gary Public Transit]...

Expressway Delays Heading Into Illinois

Long delays heading into Illinois via 80/94 due to Tri-State Tollway accident near the quarry.  INDOT cam is showing backups near Calumet Avenue in Hammond....

Valpo Looking to Spruce up Two Rail Overpasses

Valparaiso is hoping to improve the look of two railroad overpasses along US 30 on the east end of the city. Redevelopment Commission Executive Director Stu Summers says the city has an overall plan that partners with the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to improve the safety and appearance of the US 30 corridor.  "About 50,000 cars a day pass through Valparaiso on US 30, " Summers said.  Summers says there are still some hurdles to overcome, including getting permission from the rail companies, finding out what material would adhere to the old steel and concrete, and then, what would be put up there, be it art, or a fresh coat of color. ...

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