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Gary Begins Neighborhood Revitalization

mayor WinCE
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson today announced a project she's been collaborating on with former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley for nine months – the Neighborhood Revitalization Project. Also working with Gary Councilwoman Carolyn Rogers, along with Carol Brown with the University of Chicago and her students, the community wide neighborhood-by-neighborhood cleanup is intended to engage the entire community for the collective good of the city. Sarah Taylor, a Marshalltown Terrace resident, spoke about the need for residents to band together for the good of their neighborhood, and that this pilot project was a reinforcement of that effort. The pilot project kicks off this Saturday in the Marshalltown neighborhood with cleanup , beautification activities, city-provided services, signmaking and abandoned buildings tracking. Residents are meeting at Peppermint Park, Marshalltown Terrace, off of East 23rd Avenue, between Wisconsin Ave and Marshalltown Dr, starting at 9am.
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Road Closed for Fire Cleanup

Traffic-Advisory
Officials report a road closure having to do with the major fire in downtown Valparaiso in early March. Michigan Street is scheduled to be closed for fire debris cleanup from Lincolnway south to alleyway, from 7am to 5 pm on May 30, 31, open for the weekend (June 1 and 2), and re-closed Monday June 3-Wednesday June 5.
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Persons of Interest in Home Invasion

Merrillville Police say they have two persons of interest in connection with a home invasion Sunday night. Merrillville Detective Commander Robert Wiley says no charges have been filed at this time, but interviews have been taken and they expect charges to be filed soon. Officials say police were investigating the report of five masked men entering a home in the 74-hundred block of Bigger Street about 9-o'clock Sunday night, allegedly using the victims' credit and debit cards to withdraw cash and taking jewelry and other personal items, and the victims' cell and landline phones.
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Stores Sue Over 'Lookalike' Law

A federal lawsuit has been filed in Indianapolis on behalf of four Hoosier aromatherapy stores to repeal Indiana's new law that makes it illegal to possess or deal “lookalike” synthetic drugs. The National Association of Aromatherapy Product Producers and Vendors contends the 'lookalike' law is too vague and unconstitutional. State Senator Jim Merritt has said Senate Enrolled Act 536 closes a critical loophole in the state’s previous ban on drugs like 'spice' and so-called 'bath salts' and gives police and prosecutors new tools to fight the synthetic drug epidemic.
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Sobriety Checkpoints Announced

Region motorists may encounter two sobriety checkpoints this weekend. Officials have announced one is planned for LaPorte County this Saturday evening (June 1st) .
The La Porte County DUI Task Force, a multi-agency group of police officers from the Michigan City and La Porte Police Departments, along with deputies from the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, will set up a checkpoint to arrest impaired drivers, and they say the location will be determined based upon the analysis of available crash data, impaired driving arrest data and officer safety.  The Indiana State Police Lowell Post earlier announced they would be conducting a checkpoint sometime this Friday night in Porter County.
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MC Discussing Teacher Dress Code

The Michigan City School Board is discussing a dress code, but this isn't about students... who already have specific guidelines that spell out what they can and cannot wear to school. Board members are talking about adopting stricter standards requiring professional attire for teachers, including no blue jeans or jogging suits. The president of the Michigan City Federation of Teachers tells the Times she's fully in support of the measure, saying they want instructors to be dressed professionally.
More from the Times today: http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/laporte/michigan-city/michigan-city-school-board-considers-stricter-dress-code-for-teachers/article_39511b22-fb73-5839-bcb2-117bc3c71ee1.html
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Merrillville Approves ATV Limits

The town of Merrillville has approved limits on the use of off-road vehicles due to concerns over noise and safety. The ordinance prohibits people from driving ATV's, dirt bikes and other similar vehicles on public property, or on private property that's smaller than ten-acres. Violators could face a five-hundred dollar fine.
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Shooting in East Chicago

Police in East Chicago are investigating a shooting. Authorities say a 21-year-old man was hit in the leg while he was outside in the 38-hundred block of Catalpa Street around 6:30 Wednesday night. No information was available regarding the circumstances of the shooting. The man reportedly sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
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New Agreement Between PUC, Ivy Tech

Purdue University Calumet and Ivy Tech Community College have forged a new transfer agreement to assist students in the field of family, child and youth development. Students can complete an Associates in Early Childhood Education at Ivy Tech and in most cases have completed at least half, and sometimes more, of the total required credits towards a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies at Purdue's Hammond campus. University officials say the agreement will help fill critical job needs in Indiana, targeting the growing void of skilled educators and youth caretakers.
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Hobart Sets Hearing on Medical Bldg

The Hobart City Council has set a June 19 public hearing on a tax abatement request for a proposed medical facility off the interstate. The two-point-two million dollar project would put a new office/medical building, called Hobart Square, at the corner of 62nd Street and Marcella Boulevard, not far from the busy I-65/61st Avenue interchange. Some council members and the police chief voiced concerns about traffic issues that have since been addressed.
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Lowell Names New Police Chief

Lowell's interim Police Chief, Erik Matson, is now the town's new police chief.  On Tuesday, the Lowell Town Council voted across the board in favor of Matson being the south Lake County's town top cop.  The Times is reporting that 3rd District Councilman Donald Parker suggested a contract of no more than three years be drawn up by the Lowell Police Commission and town attorneys.  When Matson was appointed interim chief back in March he said that :being chief was never part of the plan," according to the article.
That despite be acknowledged for demonstating significant leadership and productivity and receiving accolades for exemplary police work in 2011.  Matson replaces Chief John Shelhart who resigned in March and had been chief since 2006.  Read more about Lowell's new police chief at:  http://www.nwitimes.com.
Lowell Image
(http://www.lowell.net)
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Two Men Charged in Griffith Radio Shack Armed Robbery

Two men accused of robbery at the Radio Shacks in Griffith have been charged with three-counts of armed robbery and two counts of criminal confinement. According to the probable cause affidavit, an investigation revealed 36 year old Antoine Gates, of Gary, and his stepson, Javonte Colbert, who was 17 years old at the time of the alleged incident, robbed the Griffith Radio Shack on August 4th, 2012, taking over 800 dollars in cash, and almost 19-thousand dollars worth of electronic merchandise. Authorities also believe the pair was responsible for a similar robbery on October 31st at the Munster Radio Shack, and charges have been filed with the Lake County Prosecutor's Office.
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ISP to Participate in Roadcheck 2013 June 4th-6th

Indiana State Police logo
Indiana State Police report next week they will take part in Roadcheck 2013, “Enhancing Truck and Bus Safety and Security Throughout North America” campaign, which emphasizes promoting both safety and security on highways through inspection of commercial vehicles and their drivers. The 72-hour international campign takes place June 4th through the 6th, which a special emphasis placed on motor coach safety, traffic enforcement, and proper securement of cargo on commercial trucks.
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Enbridge Gets Water Quality Certification for Pipeline

A permit application submitted by Enbridge Energy for expansion of the company’s crude oil pipeline through Northwest Indiana has been approved, marking the next step toward completion of Enbridge’s pipeline plans. The Section 401 Water Quality certification issued to Enbridge by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) sets conditions the company must meet during construction of a new 60-mile pipeline through Lake, Porter, LaPorte, and St. Joseph Counties. The pipeline will transport up to 800,000 barrels per day of Canadian tar sands oil. According to environmental groups, the permit is a mixed bag for the environment.
“The permit includes several significant steps to protect natural resources during and after construction of the pipeline, and we applaud IDEM and Enbridge for including these measures,” says Nicole Barker, executive director for Save the Dunes. “However, it is by no means a grand slam.”
Among the positive measures identified by Save the Dunes is a provision that will see Enbridge hire Independent Environmental Monitors (IEMs) to monitor construction and report environmental concerns directly to IDEM. The measure, which was voluntarily undertaken by Enbridge after concerns were expressed by environmentalists, is intended to ensure that any harm to water bodies or permit violations are quickly brought to the attention of the agency during construction.
“To our knowledge, this is the first time IDEM has ever included IEMs in a permit document for a construction project. While there are kinks that must be worked out to ensure the effectiveness and independence of the monitors, a positive precedent has been set,” said Nathan Pavlovic, Land and Advocacy Specialist for Save the Dunes. “We hope this type of oversight is strengthened and expanded for future projects in Indiana, especially in cases such as Enbridge where a company has an established track record of environmental harm.”
Enbridge expects to impact large areas of natural land during construction staging. Under the permit issued by IDEM, the company will be responsible for restoring impacted areas and demonstrating the success of the restoration after 10 years. This is another step in the right direction, says Barker.
However, the groups are not entirely satisfied. “We believe that further steps are needed to ensure this project is safe for our region’s environment and communities,” says Kim Ferraro, staff attorney at Hoosier Environmental Council. “IDEM, through its certification, is allowing Enbridge to disregard alternate pipeline routes and other opportunities to reduce and eliminate water quality impacts, in likely violation of the Clean Water Act. Furthermore, the IEM provision of the permit does not apply to the entire project, exposing sensitive areas in the Lake Michigan watershed to significant harm.”
More broadly, Pavlovic points out that Enbridge does not plan to use state-of-the-art safety measures because of weak federal safety regulations, a fact he describes as “worrying” in light of Enbridge’s history of large pipeline spills. The company also has yet to confirm that they will use American-made steel and products in the line, as well as local labor.
To comply with the Clean Water Act, Enbridge must still gain the approval of the Army Corps of Engineers and address zoning ordinance concerns raised in LaPorte County. The groups say they will closely monitor the status of these issues and take “necessary action to protect the environment and impacted communities.”
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Save the Dunes, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, is dedicated to preserve, protect and restore the Indiana Dunes and all natural resources in Northwest Indiana's Lake Michigan Watershed for an enhanced quality of life. Visit  http://www.savedunes.org for more information.
About Hoosier Environmental Council:
Founded in 1983, the Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) is the largest statewide environmental policy organization in Indiana. HEC aims to set a new path for Indiana, embracing practices and policies that dramatically reduce the footprint of transportation, industry, commerce, and agriculture on the environment. Visit hecweb.org for more information. You can also follow HEC on Twitter: @hec_ed, or like us on Facebook: facebook.com/hecweb....
   

Hobart PD Looking for Full-Time Officers in June

Hobart PD
The Hobart Police Department today announced that they will be starting an application process for the position of full-time police officers. Eligibe candidates must be be in good physical condition, a high school graduate, and at least 21 years old, but less than 36 years of age at the time of appointment. Indiana law enforcement graduates and/or honorable military service are preferred, but not required. Those interested may pick up an application at the Hobart Police Department, 705 East 4th Street, between Monday, June 3rd and Friday, June 28th M-F 8am-4pm or Saturdays between 7:30am-2:30pm.   For question contact Captain Paul Oliver at (219) 942-1125 ext. 1048.
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NIRPC Awards Chesterton Funds to Complete Trail

The last remaining portion of the Westchester-Liberty Trail in Chesterton can now be connected. The Times reports NIRPC's Transportation Alternates Program has awarded Chesterton almost 406-thousand dollars for the project, which includes engineering, construction, and materials, and which was ranked number one on NIRPC's project propsal list for Lake and Porter Counties. According to the article, the project will connect the remaining portion of the pedestrian bike trail along County Road 11-hundred North, from 11th Street to the sidewalk near Dogwood Park, as well as expanding the sidewalk to 5th Street into a trail.
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Permanent Homes to be Provided to 125 IN Homeless Vets

Dept of Veteran Affiars
CHICAGO – Approximately 125 homeless veterans living on the streets and in shelters in Indiana will soon find a permanent place to call home.  U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric K. Shinseki announced today that HUD will provide $60 million to local public housing agencies across the country to provide permanent supportive housing to homeless veterans, many of whom are living with chronic disabling conditions. Indiana will receive nearly $607,000 to assists its homeless veterans.

HUD-VASH funding to Indiana:


Indianapolis Housing Agency
Indianapolis
IN
Indianapolis VA Medical Center
50
$ 245,334
Housing Authority of the City of Marion, In
Marion
IN
Marion VA Medical Center
20
$  64,846
Indiana Housing And Community Development Authority
Indianapolis
IN
Indianapolis VA Medical Center
15
$ 80,870
Indiana Housing And Community Development Authority
Indianapolis
IN
Northern Indiana Health Care System , South Bend Community-Based Outreach Clinic
15
$ 80,870
Indiana Housing And Community Development Authority
Indianapolis
IN
Northern Indiana Health Care System , Ft. Wayne and Marion Campuses
25
$ 134,784


IN Total

125
$  606,704


Indiana has received 635 vouchers since 2008.

The supportive housing assistance announced today is provided through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program which combines rental assistance from HUD with case management and clinical services provided by VA. Since 2008, a total of 48,385 vouchers have been awarded and 42,557 formerly homeless veterans are currently in homes because of HUD-VASH. 

Donovan and Shinseki announced this additional support for homeless veterans in an address to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans Annual Conference today in Washington.  Find out how much of this assistance will help homeless veterans in your area.

“Our veterans have answered the call of duty.  That’s why our nation has its own duty – to help homeless servicemen and women rejoin the very communities they have given so much to protect,” said Donovan.  “These grants make it possible to help more veterans obtain housing, bringing us steps closer to our goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015.”

“These HUD-VASH vouchers are a critical resource toaccomplish our shared goal of ending Veterans’ homelessness in 2015,” Shinseki said. “With the continued support of President Obama, Congress, and our community partners, we will end homelessness among Veterans and provide these brave men and women with the earned care and benefits that help them live productive, meaningful lives.”

“With programs like HUD-VASH, we will end veteran homelessness in Indiana by 2015 -- one veteran at a time,” said Antonio R. Riley, HUD’s Midwest Regional Administrator.

HUD-VASH is a critical part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to end Veteran and long-term chronic homelessness by 2015.  Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness serves as a roadmap for how the federal government will work with state and local communities to confront the root causes of homelessness, especially among former servicemen and women. HUD’s annual “point in time” estimate of the number of homeless persons and families for 2012 found that veteran homelessness fell by 7.2 percent (or 4,876 people) since January 2011 and by 17.2 percent since January 2009.  On a single night in January 2012, 62,619 veterans were homeless.

The grants announced today are part of $75 million appropriated this year to support the housing needs of homeless veterans.  Local public housing authorities provide rental assistance to homeless veterans while nearby VA Medical Centers (VAMC) offer supportive services and case management.  This is the first round of the 2013 HUD-VASH funding.  HUD expects to announce more HUD-VASH funding this summer.

VAMCs work closely with homeless veterans then refer them to public housing agencies for these vouchers, based upon a variety of factors, most importantly the duration of the homelessness and the need for longer term more intensive support to obtain and maintain permanent housing.  The HUD-VASH program includes both the rental assistance the voucher provides and the comprehensive case management that VAMC staff provides.

Veterans participating in the HUD-VASH program rent privately owned housing and generally contribute no more than 30 percent of their income toward rent.  VA offers eligible homeless veterans clinical and supportive services through its medical centers across the U.S., Guam and Puerto Rico.
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EPA Oks Brownfield Cleanups

20130529 110824 WinCE
Congressman Pete Visclosky speaks with RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna while Hammond Mayor, Tom McDermott and EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman discuss the EPA's Brownfield Program Grant to be awarded to the RDA. [Photo/Karl Berner, Region News Team]
Federal, state and Region officials gathered in Hammond this morning to announce a new partnership between the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency. RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna and EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman were joined by the mayors of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago, and Congressman Pete Visclosky as the two entities announced an 800-thousand dollar EPA Brownfield program grant which will help the RDA and the three north Lake County cities and NIRPC with brownfield cleanup. This grant will go toward the establishment of a one-million dollar revolving loan fund for Gary, Hammond and East Chicago brownfield remediation. Projects targeted include former US Steel site Buffington Harbor, the Gary downtown city center, the 6200 block of Columbia in Hammond, and the Union Tank car site in East Chicago. This grant is the third partnership between the RDA and the EPA. Previously the RDA was awarded one-million dollars for the dredging of Marquette Park lagoon, and a 350-thousand dollar grant for Miller Beach stormwater mitigation.  Both of those EPA grants resulted from the RDA’s $28 million Marquette Park restoration project.
Specifics:
-Buffington Harbor. This former U.S. Steel site includes 200 acres along the Lake Michigan shoreline contaminated with heavy metals, asbestos, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These contaminants can cause kidney and liver damage, respiratory problems and cancer, among other ailments.
-The Gary Downtown City Center. This includes 15 city blocks in central Gary that once housed paint shops, auto service centers, dry cleaners and printing shops. The area has concentrations of lead, heavy metals, hexavalent, chromium, solvents, PAHs and asbestos that can cause nerve and liver damage, respiratory issues, anemia and bone marrow problems and mesothelioma.
-Union Tank Car. This 50-acre site in East Chicago was once used to manufacturer railroad tank cars and is contaminated with heavy metals, lead, solvents, hexavalent, chromium and PAHs.
-The 6200 Block of Columbia. This consists of 15 acres of vacant commercial space in southeast Hammond that is contaminated with chlorinated-VOCs that can cause headaches, respiratory problems, nerve and liver damage, and affect fetal development.
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Lake Co 911 Announcement Expected

A report in the Times says Lake County police and fire chiefs are expected to announce their choice Thursday May 30 12] for the county's new E-911 director – a recommendation that'll still have to be approved by county officials. Whoever that is faces the task of consolidating the 911 services of seventeen city, town and county law enforcement agencies by the end of next year –as mandated by state law – or face losing millions in public safety dollars from the state. The former director resigned in February.
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RDA, EPA Announcement in Lake Co

rda
The mayors of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago, Congressman Pete Visclosky, Northwest Indiana RDA President/CEO Bill Hanna and EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman are scheduled to gather for an announcement this morning about a new partnership between the RDA and EPA they say will benefit the Region. A news conference is being held at Lost Marsh Golf Course in Hammond.  The Region News Team's  Karl Berner is covering the announcement, and we'll bring you details today.
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