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Apparent Homicide in Hammond

The Lake County Coroners Office reports a 58-year-old Hammond man was a victim of an apparent homicide and was pronounced dead at an area hospital just before 4:30 this morning.  Officials identified the victim James Edwards and said he suffered multiple gunshot wounds at his home in the 61-hundred block of Ray Street.  Hammond Police are investigating. 
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NIPSCO Seeks $1B in Electric System Upgrades

Northern Indiana Public Service Company is asking the state to approve a one-billion dollar modernization plan for its electric system that would include replacing poles, wires and transformers. The Times reports the Merrillville-based company is the first to present such a plan under a newly-enacted state law that allows utilities to pay for certain infrastructure improvements through surcharges called "trackers" added to customer bills. The request presented to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission could result in annual one-percent hikes in electric bills for NIPSCO customers in the coming years. The legislation, Senate Bill 560, was opposed by consumer groups.
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Update on Grand Cal Restoration

GC-River WinCE
The U-S Environmental Protection Agency says east branch dredging along the Grand Calumet River between Cline and Kennedy Avenues should start at the end of this month. An open house was held Tuesday at the East Chicago Public Library on the Grand Calumet River sediment cleanup and habitat restoration. Federal officials say sediment cleanup on the west branch from the state line to Hohman Avenue is in design, and the project team anticipates cleanup could begin this December or January.
This is a separate project from the US Army Corps of Engineers removing over a million cubic yards of polluted sediment from the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal. Officials say the Ship Canal is downstream from the Grand Calumet River and is not a natural habitat area.
[Photo/The Grand Calumet River Revitalized pamphlet]
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CP Family Files Wrongful Death Lawsuit

A Crown Point family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a 42-year-old Chicago man and a Chicago bar in connection with a fatal crash on the Dan Ryan near 95th Street last November. Police say 21-year-old Philip Briner, who was on his way home from work at The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago, died after his pickup truck was struck by an alleged drunk driver who reportedly crossed five lanes of traffic on the southbound side of the expressway. A statement from their attorney Patrick Salvi says the Briner family hopes no family will have to experience the loss they did, and want to remind drivers of the tragic consequences that can happen if they drink and drive.
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Gary Mayor Submits Requested Plan to Governor Pence

The Mayor of Gary today responded to Governor Mike Pence's request for a law enforcement plan detailing how a request for state assistance would fit into the city's long-term plans for self-sufficiency in light of 31 homicides this year. In the letter, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson says the situation is now “beyond urgent” and has worked with the police department to outline a plan. The Mayor says a majority of the anticipated resources the city will receive from the one-point-five percent income tax will be dedicated to funding public safety needs that were neglected over the last decade She also stated the city's engagement with Lake County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA, and the Public Safety Council of Lake County One Region continues in the form of saturation patrols, and that in the coming weeks, the city will work with personnel from the US Department of Justice to maximize their work with HIDTA.
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Former State Senator William Costas Dead at the Age of 84

william costas
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A former state senator and grocery store owner has passed away. The Times reports William Costas died at his home today at the age of 84. According to the article, Costas opened “Costas Foods” in Valparaiso in 1972 before selling the business to Wiseway in 1998, and served two-terms in the state senate, from 1980 to1988, before losing a bid for a third term. Costas is survived by his wife Diane and six children, one of which is Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas.
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Fish Lake Man Arrested for Outstanding Attempted Sex Offenses

LapPorte County Sheriff logo - this one
A 57 year old Fish Lake man was arrested without incident today for outstanding attempted sex offenses. The LaPorte County Sheriff's Office reports David Kaufman was arrested at his home, in the 77-hundred East block of State Road 4 in Lincoln Township, after a criminal arrest warrant had been issued earlier in the day by LaPorte County Circuit Court, as a result of an extensive investigation into reports of inappropriate behavior. Authorities say Kaufman is charged with three-felony counts of attempted sexual misconduct with a minor, one-felony count of possession of child pornography, and one-misdemeanor count of false informing.
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Five Arrested in Prostitution Sting in State Line Area

prostitute sting KLINKHAMMER
(Photos Courtesy of the Hammond PD)
prostitute sting MATTHEW20ODEN
A joint operation between the Hammond Police Department and the Lake County Sheriff's Office resulted in a total of five arrests after decoy prostitutes were placed along the state line. Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller says the operation was a complete success, with no injuries to officers or the five arrested, one of which was driving a cable company truck. Chief Miller says they arrested two of the five, a 44 year old Bruce Klinkhammer, of Lynwood, Illinois, and 32 year old Matthew Oden, of Lake Station, who have both been charged with patronizing a prostitute.
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All Lanes WB Borman are Open, Backup Remains

Traffic-Alert
An earlier crash that closed the two left lanes westbound on the Borman (I-80/94) has been cleared away.  A residual backup remains as all westbound lanes remain backed up from just before Broadway to Burr Street.

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Legislation Introduced to Protect Farmer's Personal Info

donnelly
Washington, D.C. – Senators Joe Donnelly (D-IN) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today introduced the Farmer Identity Protection Act, legislation that would protect farmers and ranchers by prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from disclosing their private and confidential information to the public.
Earlier this year, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the personal and private information of many livestock and poultry owners from across the nation, including Hoosier farmers. Sensitive information including names, phone numbers, and email addresses of the farmers and ranchers, their spouses, and employees on these farms or ranches was made available to the public.
Donnelly said, “I am proud to join Senator Grassley in introducing legislation that would protect livestock and poultry farmers from having their personal information released by the EPA.  It is unacceptable that earlier this year, the EPA released the personal contact information of over 80,000 livestock and poultry owners from across the nation, including many from Indiana.  This blatant violation of privacy must not happen again, which is why I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this common sense legislation.”
Grassley said, “Transparency is good for accountability, but putting the personal information of tens of thousands of farmers in the hands of environmental activists makes no sense.  It’s par for the course at the EPA, and by the looks of the agency’s response, they aren’t going to end this reckless behavior.  It’s time for Congress to step in and fix the problem.”
While the EPA has attempted to correct the error, this bill would provide clear protections moving forward for farmers and ranchers across the country.  It would limit the EPA to disclosing information about farming operations only when all personally identifiable information is removed to prevent the identification of farmers and ranchers and their families and employees.
Senators Donnelly and Grassley offered similar legislative language as an amendment during floor debate on the farm bill; however, the Senate did not vote on the amendment.

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Six People Displaced after Fire in East Chicago

east chicago fire
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
The Red Cross is assisting a family of six after a fire late this morning in East Chicago. Chief Inspector Henry Ventura says they received the call at 11am, and the fire, in the 49-hundred block of Tod Avenue, was extinguished within the hour. Ventura says the fire began on the top of the roof of a garage, and spread, causing damage to two adjacent homes. No injuries were reported and the cause remains under investigation.
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7 Mile Backup Westbound on the Borman

Backed up to Burr St.  07-23-13
Looking west on I-80/94, traffic is backed up due to crash that has the two letf lanes closed near Calumet Avenue
A crash has the two left lanes closed westbound I-80/94 near Calumet Avenue.  Traffic is backed up from Burr Street until Calumet Avenue.  Wreckers are on the scene and the lanes should be cleared away soon.  Drivers can still expect 10-15 minute delays.

(photo from INDOT)
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Fire at ArcelorMittal Extinguished, No Injuries Reported

A fire reported at ArcelorMittal around 1:15 this afternoon has been extinguished. An ArcelorMittal spokesperson issued a statement saying the fire, which occurred at a coal bunker servicing ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor's coke battery operation, has been put out and there were no injuries as a result of the incident. ArcelorMittal reports they are currently evaluating the damages and potential impact on their coke battery operations, which they anticipate to be minor.
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Michigan City Police Add New Subject to Top Ten List

Dustin Bush
(Photo Courtesy of the Michigan City PD)
The Michigan City Police Department today announced the 308th arrest since the inception of their “Ten Most Wanted List” in 2004. Police report on Monday that Kwasi Mitchell II was arrested without incident in the 34-hundred block of Salem Court. Mitchell was being sought for a number of felony charges, including theft, carrying a handgun without a permit, and dealing drugs.
Michigan City Police have replaced Mitchell on their Top Ten List with 19 year old Dustin Bush who is wanted on a felony charge of dealing a controlled substance. Bush is described as a white male, 5'10”, weighing 135 pounds, and was last known to reside in the 49-hundred block of Clover Lane. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Dustin Bush, or any of the subjects listed on the Michigan City Police Department's Top Ten List, is asked to contact police at (219) 873-1488 and callers can remain anonymous. 
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LaPorte PD Wanted Person of the Week Kyle Craft

Kyle Craft
(Photo Courtesy of the LaPorte Police Dept)
A 22 year old man currently wanted through LaPorte Circuit Court for revocation of suspended sentence for an original charge of sexual misconduct with a minor is the LaPorte Police Department's wanted person of the week. Authorities report Kyle Craft is described as a white male, 5'11”, weighing 220 pounds, with red hair and green eyes. Anyone with information on the immediate whereabouts of Kyle Craft is asked to call either 911, the LaPorte Police at 219-362-9446, or LaPorte County Metro Operations at 219-325-9022, and you can remain anonymous.
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Pence Travels to Aspen for GOP Govs Summer Meeting

Gov Mike Pence
Indiana Governor Mike Pence will be traveling to Aspen, Colorado, today to join other governors as part of the Republican Governors Association Summer Meeting. The Governor is scheduled to attend panels regarding workforce development and job creation, as well as international economic relations. The Governor is expected to return to the Hoosier state late this Friday afternoon.
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LaPorte Man Scammed Out of $2,500

LaPorte PD
Authorities are warning of a scam circulating after a 63 year old LaPorte man was swindled out of 25-hundred dollars. LaPorte Police report the victim received a phone call, on or about July 17th, from a man claiming to be a US Drug Enforcement Agent, who told the victim a warrant had been issued for his arrest for the purchase of drugs illegally over the internet, but that the charges would be dropped if the victim wired 25-hundred dollars to New York via Western Union. Police say the victim, who admitted to purchasing drugs over the internet several years ago became nervous, and wired the money. Police advise that if you receive a similar call do not comply.
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Area Fire Crews Assisting in Fire at ArcelorMittal

A fire at the ArcelorMittal coke plant in Burns Harbor prompted the fire department there to seek outside help this afternoon. Dispatch made the call for assistance sometime around 1:15 this afternoon, and second alarm was struck not too long after that. No further information is available at this time.
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Forecasters Warn of Rip Currents, 'Rogue Waves'

The National Weather Service is warning Region residents that unseasonably large waves are likely this afternoon through Wednesday morning along the northwest Indiana and Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. Forecasters anticipate dangerous swimming conditions and life-threatening rip currents. Meteorologists say strong northerly winds blowing down the full length of the lake and cooler air moving over the warmer lake waters will result in unusually large waves for summer, ten feet or higher, that could inundate vulnerable locations along the shore, including a few spots on the Chicago lakefront bike path.  The National Weather Service is warning people that occasional "rogue waves" could reach up to fifteen-feet and potentially sweep someone out into the lake.
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Grant Approved for New York Ave Cleanup

hammond WinCE
Hammond
The Board of Directors of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority has approved a 200-thousand dollar matching grant for demolition and cleanup work along the 25-hundred block of New York Avenue on the north side of Hammond. RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna said private developers and Calumet College of St. Joseph have expressed interest in building housing and dormitories in this area if vacant buildings are removed. City officials say tearing down the old vacant Amoco Oil Company Research and Development Laboratory will create about 18-million dollars in development opportunities.
The grant comes under the RDA’s Challenge Grant program, which offers awards of up to $200,000 for local projects of regional significance. Other Challenge Grant recipients include the City of Gary and the Town of Pines.   The RDA says the grant will supplement $800,000 from Hammond for the work.
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