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LaPorte to Unveil New Propane Transit Vehicles Thursday

LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo announced today the addition of two environmentally friendly transit vehicles to the city's TransPorte demand/response public transportation service. Mayor Milo says the new vehicles are powered by propane, which will decrease tailpipe emissions resulting in fuel cost savings and reduced maintenance. You can take a look at the two new 15 passenger transit vehicles, which will be unveiled at a press conference tomorrow afternoon at 1:30, at the city's TransPorte building, in the 100 block of L Street.
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A Call to Create a Gulf War Memorial

donnelly
Washington, D.C.—Today, Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and John Boozman (R-AR) introduced legislation that would authorize a National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial to recognize the many Americans who served our nation during this conflict.
Donnelly said, “Over 60,000 Hoosiers served in Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, so I am proud to join my friend, Senator Boozman, in introducing bipartisan legislation that would authorize a national memorial to demonstrate our appreciation for their bravery and sacrifice.  We owe all men and women who serve our nation a debt of gratitude, and those who serve in war should have their exceptional efforts recognized.  The men and women who fought in the first Gulf War, especially those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, deserve to have their service memorialized.”
Boozmansaid, “There is no national memorial dedicated to the valor and sacrifices made by those members of our Armed Forces who honorably fought, and in some cases made the ultimate sacrifice, in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. We need to change that. This bill will clear the way for a memorial that will show a grateful nation’s respect and appreciation for those who fought to defend freedom in the Gulf War.”
The Boozman-Donnelly legislation, the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield War Memorial Act, would authorize the National Desert Storm Memorial Association to establish the National Desert Storm and Desert Shield Memorial on federal lands within the District of Columbia.  No federal funds would be spent to build this memorial, as all funds would be raised privately by the National Desert Storm War Memorial Association.
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Westville Correctional Officer Arrested for Trafficking

joyce sokolowski
(Photo Courtesy of the Westville Correctional Facility)
An investigation continues after a Westville Correctional Facility officer was arrested Friday and charged with felony trafficking with an offender. 54 year old Joyce Sokolowski, of Merrillville, was found to possess tobacco and other contraband intended to be delivered to an offender. Authorities report the facility's Internal Affairs Department is still trying to determine what charges or internal disciplinary action may be taken with any offenders allegedly involved. Sokolowski has been suspended without pay.
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United Way Accepting Monetary Donations for OK Victims

OKLAHOMA CITY - The devastating May tornadoes have left most Oklahomans stunned and wondering what they could do to help. United Way of Central Oklahoma advises that monetary donations are the best way to assist. The organization activated its disaster relief fund on Monday where individuals may contribute specifically to the May tornadoes relief and recovery efforts.
“We are reactivating the disaster relief fund at the request of many of our donors and corporate partners who are seeking an efficient and accountable way to assist with the relief effort,” said Debby Hampton, President and CEO of United Way of Central Oklahoma.
Individuals may contribute online, via credit card by phone, and by mail, specifically to the May tornadoes relief and recovery efforts. At this time, PLEASE make financial donations only. If you have trouble with donating online, there are two alternative ways to give.
  1. Give online to the May Tornadoes Relief Fund located on our home page at www.unitedwayokc.org
  2. Give by credit card: call (405) 523.3598, (405) 523.3597 or (405) 236.8441
  3. Give by mailing a check to United Way of Central Oklahoma, P.O. Box 837, Oklahoma City, OK  73101 with notation for May Tornadoes Relief Fund
Fund dollars will be distributed without administrative fees to United Way Partner Agencies working on the tornado relief efforts. Agencies must clearly prove services provided and demonstrate need for financial support. Organizations that receive United Way disaster fund assistance will be evaluated and held strictly accountable. As our Partner Agencies work together to meet the immediate needs in the recovery efforts, the May Tornado Relief Fund will serve not only immediate needs, but intermediate, and long-term care for years to come.
United Way of Central Oklahoma’s Disaster Relief Fund has operated to meet needs after the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, the tornadoes on May 3, 1999, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and other disasters. In each circumstance, United Way has effectively and efficiently distributed donors’ dollars to serve as many people as possible while maintaining the highest level of accountability.
For more information, contact United Way of Central Oklahoma’s main number at (405) 236-8441.
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How to Help Oklahoma Citizens in Need

INDIANAPOLIS – In support of the response and recovery in Oklahoma, two Indiana agencies are advising Hoosiers to be organized in their volunteer efforts and to give money, not stuff.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security and the Indiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (Indiana VOAD) are advising Hoosiers about how to help Oklahoma citizens in need. The destruction in Oklahoma City has left communities in need of hands-on help and donations. Volunteers play a vital part in disaster recovery.
Chris Gilbert, president of Indiana VOAD, said, “Well-meaning individuals who simply show up to help without coordinating with disaster management personnel can complicate or even hinder response and recovery operations already underway. Become part of a coordinated effort.”
Following some simple guidelines can make all the difference in the revitalizing the areas hit by a disaster. 
·         Do not just show up to the disaster area. Reach out and contact a volunteer organization.
·         Inform volunteer organizations of any specific skills or services that you can offer.
·         Get trained with a group.
·         Make sure to think through things you will need. Do not assume that resources are available at the site. These should include:
o   Appropriate clothing
o   Food and water
o   Shelter/a place to stay
John Erickson, senior public information officer for the IDHS, said, “In disaster recovery, it is best to donate money to a legitimate relief agency that you know, trust and is working in the area. Sending materials and food to areas hit by a disaster can cause problems with sorting, storage and distribution. It is best to send money rather than goods because it is more flexible. It allows volunteer organizations to more quickly obtain the supplies needed to address the most urgent needs.”
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Misdemeanor Battery Charge Against S. Central School Corp Super

christopher smith
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
The South Central School Corporation Superintendent was arrested Monday night and charged with misdemeanor battery. According to a LaPorte County Sheriff's Office incident report, 51 year old Christopher Smith is accused of physically assaulting the head of maintenance for South Central Schools, Daniel Glassman. The Times reports, an argument between the two men occurred while heading home that night following a South Bend Silverhawks baseball game and a stop at a Michigan City lakefront bar.
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Missing 15 Year Old Girl Listed as an Endangered Runaway

celesteguzman
Authorities are seeking the public's help to find a missing 15 year old girl last seen on May 9th. The Lake County Sheriff's Office says Celeste Guzman was listed today as an endangered runaway. Guzman is described as five-feet tall, weighing 145 pounds, with brown hair, brown eyes, and was last seen wearing a pink and black Notre Dame hoodie. The Sheriff's Office reports Guzman is known to frequent the Black Oak area of Gary. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Celeste Guzman is asked to contact the Lake County Sheriff's Office.
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Students Learn Drinking and Driving Don't Mix

DD Wheeler 6
(Photos Courtesy of the Porter County Substance Abuse Council)
DD Boone Grove 5
Over 15-hundred Porter County students were recently given the opportunity to experience the hazards of impaired driving. The Porter County Drunk Driving Task Force visited four high schools: Boone Grove, Morgan Township, Valparaiso, and Wheeler, helping students through a series of challenges meant to simulate a variety of impairment levels. The Porter County Substance Abuse Council says the message of not drinking and driving is especially important this time of year with students attending proms, graduations, parties and other events, and remind parents to set an example and share the message not to drink and drive.
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Honor Flight Film to Run This Evening in Schererville

Honor Flight Movie
A documentary about four living World War II veterans and a Midwest community coming together to give them the trip of a lifetime will be showing this evening for one night only. “Honor Flight, One Last Mission” shows how volunteers race against the clock to fly thousands of WWII veterans to Washington, DC to see the memorial constructed for them in 2004, nearly 60 years after their epic struggle. The film will be at 5:30pm, at the AMC Showtime Theater 12, in the 14-hundred block of Eagleridge, in Schererville, and the cost per ticket is eleven dollars. For more information about the film, visit http://www.honorflightthemovie.com.
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Farmers Making Progress

The latest crop report from the U-S Department of Agriculture says warm, sunny days allowed Hoosier farmers to make good progress planting corn and soybeans, with the most acreage planted across northern Indiana and some central counties. 64-percent of intended corn acreage is now in the ground, compared with 96-percent last year, but 65-percent is the five-year average. Thirty percent of soybean crops are planted, compared with 84-percent last year, and 36-percent for the five-year average. Just a couple weeks ago, there had been little to no progress on planting corn because of rain and soggy field conditions, especially in portions of southern Indiana.
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Teen Hurt in Whiting Shooting

Whiting Police are asking for the public's help as they investigate a shooting near the Community Center Saturday night. At about 7:30 pm, officers responded to Clark Street and Community Court in reference to a shooting. Whiting Police say their preliminary investigation indicates a 19-year-old Robertsdale resident and an unidentified male individual were in the area when words were exchanged, and the unidentified male pulled a handgun and fired at the 19-year-old, striking him in the back, then fleeing in a dark-colored vehicle. Police say the victim was taken to a local hospital in serious condition, then later airlifted to a Chicago-area hospital. Whiting Police say they believe the incident was gang-related, and they are currently following leads. Anyone with information is asked to contact Whiting Police Police Department Detective Bureau at 219-659-2131.
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Vision Testing Expands

Vision Testing Expands
Hoosier school kids will be getting their eyes checked more often. Indiana Governor Mike Pence has signed into law a measure that expands vision testing to students entering fifth grade. Current policy only requires screening for students entering kindergarten or first grade, third grade and eighth grade. Senate Enrolled Act 553 also requires exams for kindergarteners and first graders must be performed by a licensed opthalmologist or optometrist
Photo provided | Pictured, from left to right at desk: Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg), Sen. Becker, Gov. Pence, Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany); from left to right in back: Yara Catoira-Boyle, MD; Kim Williams, Executive Director of the Indiana Academy of Ophthalmology, Inc.; Rep. Ron Bacon (R-Chandler); Derek Sprunger, MD; Polly Hendricks, OD, Indiana Optometry Immediate Past President; James Stewart, OD, Indiana Optometry President; Rep. Suzanne Crouch (R-Evansville); Jim Zieba, Executive Director of the Indiana Optometric Association.
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Area Students Compete in Science Olympiad

munster olympiad
Munster HS Science Olympiad Team [provided]
Region students were among more than a-hundred teams to compete in the Science Olympiad National Tournament at Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, Saturday. Munster High School placed 18th, and Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Valparaiso placed 19th. The local schools advanced to the national tournament after winning at the state competition at Indiana University in Bloomington in March. This was the 24th consecutive year T- J students competed in the national championships. Science Olympiad competitions are like academic track meets, consisting of a series of 23 team events in each division, with a division for middle school and a division for high school.
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Valpo Paving Season Soon

Paving crews in Valparaiso will hit the streets toward the end of next month for their annual repaving program, starting with Montdale Drive in Montdale Industrial Park. Parts of several other roads in the city are also having work done, including Academy Street, Andover Drive, Don Hovey Drive, Howard Street, Linden Street, and Sheffield Drive. Some sidewalks are also being replaced in parts of the city.
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'Do Not Call' Deadline

donotcall
Tuesday May 21, 2013, is the next deadline to sign up for Indiana's Do Not Call List. Since January, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller's office has gotten more than five-thousand complaints about telemarketing calls either with a live operator or prerecorded message. Zoeller says nearly one-thousand consumers got an automated call from a woman from “Cardholder Services” offering to lower credit card interest rates, asking for money but not really providing any service.
Nearly four-hundred complaints have been filed this year about an automated call that mentions an FBI report on home break-ins offering a “free” home security system, but Zoeller says they'll sell your info to a home monitoring company that will charge you. Zoeller also says these telemarketers have no relationship with federal law enforcement agencies.
Individuals do not need to re-register for the Do Not Call list unless their address has changed. To sign up or to confirm a number is already on the list, visit www.IndianaConsumer.com or call 1.888.834.9969.
Zoeller's office says out-of-state area codes can also be added as long as the billing address is located in Indiana. Those consumers who are registered and receive an unwanted call can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office by visiting www.IndianaConsumer.com  and clicking on “file a complaint.”
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Two Men Charged in Death of Markham Man

Brandon Johnson
(Photos Courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff's Office)
Lester Larkin
Two men face first degree murder charges in connection with the death of a 35 year old Markham man whose body was discovered in April in unincorporated Calumet City, Illinois. The Cook County Sheriff's Office reports an joint investigation with the Harvey Police Department led to the arrest of 27 year old Brandon Johnson, of Harvey, and 25 year old Lester Larkin, of Riverdale, Illinois, for the shooting death of Eddie Bell. The Sheriff's Office reports Bell, who had been the subject of a missing person's investigation, was identified on April 16th, after his body was found near Thornton and Lansing Road, east of Stoney Island Avenue in Calumet City. An investigation began in late March while Harvey Police were investigating Johnson's residence where blood, weapons, and cleaning materials, but no body, were found, after gunfire had been reported. Both men were denied bond in their court appearance today.
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Man Shot by Merrillville Officer at Planned Parenthood

shooting at pp
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
The Times is reporting a Merrillville officer shot a man for illegally parking a semitrailer at Planned Parenthood. According to the article, the incident occurred while a citation was being written, and both the officer and the man were reportedly taken to a local hospital. No further information is available at this time.
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Van Til Bonds Out, Pleads Not Guilty to Charges

Lake County Surveyor George Van Til plead not guilty today in Hammond District Court and was freed on a 20-thousand dollar bond. Van Til was charged on Friday with six-counts of wire fraud and two-counts of obstruction of justice, and is alleged to have devised a scheme to defraud Lake County of money and property by utilizing county employees to perform personal and political services so Van Til would be reelected surveyor.
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19 Year Old Robertsdale Resident Shot Sunday in Whiting

Police in Whiting are asking for the public's help regarding a shooting incident Sunday near the Whiting Community Center. The Times reports a 19 year old Robertsdale resident was shot in the back around 7:30pm, and the suspected shooter fled in a dark-colored vehicle. At last check, Authorities report no one is in custody and charges have not been filed. According to the article, the 19 year old was listed in serious condition at an Oaklawn hospital. Police say they believe the incident is gang related, and anyone with information is asked to contact the Whiting Police Department.
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14 Year Old Drives Car in Gary Home Friday

Gary PD
Trying to teach an underage driver how to drive ended up getting an 18 year old arrested Friday. Gary Police Public Information Officer Corp. Gabrielle King says the incident took place just before 1pm, in the 21-hundred block of William Street. King says the 14 year old ended up driving a vehicle into the home of two elderly women, who were not injured. The 18 year old is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and also received a traffic citation.
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