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Hobart Man Sencenced in Death of Jada Justice

A Hobart man accused in connection with the death of a two-year-old girl whose body was found burned and encased in concrete in a La Porte County swamp four years ago was sentenced to forty-years in prison in Lake County court on Friday. Timothy Tkachik pleaded guilty in 2010 to neglect. Co-defendant and former girlfriend Engelica Castillo was found guilty of murdering Jada Justice and is serving a 65-year prison term. Police say the child was beaten to death while the couple was babysitting her. A judge dismissed neglect charges against the child's mother last month.
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Statewide Silver Alert Issued for Missing Fishers, IN Teen

Peyton Rickhof
(Photo Courtesy of the Indiana State Police)
A statewide Silver Alert has been issued regarding the disappearance of a 18 year old Fishers, Indiana, woman who is believed to be in danger. Indiana State Police report Peyton Rickhof was last seen wearing a pink tank top and black yoga pants on Thursday, July 18th, in Fishers, located approximately 15 miles northeast of Indianapolis. The missing teen is described as a white female, 5'08”, weighing 140 pounds, with blond hair and blue eyes, and is believed to be driving a black 2006, Mercury Mariner SUV, with Indiana license plate number SGC-405. Authorities say Rickhof may be disoriented and require medical assistance. Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Peyton Rickhof is asked to contact the Fishers Police Department at (317) 773-1282.
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Elderly Hammond Man Gets 10 Years for Child Pornography

An elderly Hammond man on Thursday was sentenced to ten-years in prison and ten-years of supervised release after pleading guilty to felony possession of child pornography. According to court documents, almost 95-hundred images and almost 250 videos were found in 71 year old Jon Zondor's possession, who was also ordered to pay 500-dollars in restitution to two victims. The resulted from an investigation by members of the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, including the FBI.
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Couple Sentenced for Illegal Dispencing of Pills and Tax Evasion

A husband and wife were sentenced Thursday in US District Court in Hammond after pleading guilty in January to tax evasion between 2005 and 2008, and for illegally dispensing millions of pills containing amphetamine-based controlled substances to patients at their facilities in Northwest Indiana and south suburban Chicago. 57 year old Doctor Rakesh Anand will begin serving his two-year sentence on August 30th, while his wife was ordered to begin her 30-day sentence on September 3rd. The couple was also ordered to pay over 745-thousand dollars in restitution to the IRS from the nearly five-point-two million that was seized from them and ordered forfeited. In addition to that, the couple remains civilly liable to the IRS for any and all back taxes and a civil fraud penalty of up to 75-percent of the underpayment, plus interest.
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March to End Violence in Hammond at Noon July 20th

Demonstrators will be marching in Hammond tomorrow, July 20th, as part of the Justice for Trayvon: 100 City Vigil. The Times reports members of area churches, and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition plan to march at noon, starting on Douglas Street, near the Hammond Federal Courthouse. According to the article, supporters of the march say while the not guilty verdict in case of George Zimmerman initiated these marches, violence in local communities across the state and the nation effects everyone and is reason enough to demonstrate against.
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Gary Kicks Off New Redevelopment Initiative

Mayor Initiative
Mayor of Gary, Karen Freeman-Wilson at Friday's press conference to announce the City's partnership with the EPA, HUD, DOT for Sustainable Communities Redevelopment Initiative
Leaders from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the U.S. Department of Transportation today joined Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson at the Genesis Convention Center in Gary, Indiana, to announce a new redevelopment initiative to revitalize four city neighborhoods. They are the Horace Mann, Downtown/Emerson, Aetna and Miller neighborhoods on the city’s north side. 

“I am pleased to announce that the City of Gary has been selected for a $350,000 U.S. EPA grant to establish a revolving loan fund that will be used to clean up contamination at brownfield sites in Northside neighborhoods,” said EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman. “The work we are starting here today -- through the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities -- will be good for the environment, good for the economy and good for Gary.”
The federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities, EPA, HUD and DOT, along with other federal and state agencies, will work with the city and private foundations to identify additional resources needed for the Gary Northside Redevelopment Project to move forward.
“The interest that all of these federal agencies have taken in the city of Gary is both exciting and humbling,” said Mayor Freeman-Wilson. “We will continue to work with these entities as they look to invest in various neighborhoods throughout the city, ultimately leading to the rejuvenation of Gary’s economy.”
“Eighteen months ago, HUD convened a meeting of eight Federal Agencies to align our resources and join state and regional partners in a super effort to identify available resources and innovative strategies to support Mayor Freeman-Wilson and the development of sustainable solutions for Gary and Northwest Indiana,” said Antonio R. Riley, HUD Regional Administrator. “Today, we join together to continue the progress of that first meeting and many that followed in helping Gary achieve the future it deserves -- this shows the progress that can be made when a region and partners from all sectors act as one.”
“I appreciate Mayor Freeman-Wilson’s vision in initiating this project, and her constant efforts to leverage every available resource to improve the quality of life for Gary’s citizens,” said U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky. “This collaborative project between the city of Gary and the Partnership for Sustainable Communities will strengthen not only Gary but all of Northwest Indiana. I look forward to the progress of the Gary Northside Redevelopment Project, and I anticipate working with her and our agency partners to turn this vision into reality.”
Today’s federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities event in Gary included a tour of the Horace Mann, Downtown/Emerson, Aetna and Miller neighborhoods and discussions on transportation, housing and neighborhood stabilization, environment and brownfields, and public health.
For more information on the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities:  http://www.sustainablecommunities.gov/
More information on EPA’s brownfields program:  http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/
(photo provided by Jay Stevens & Radio One Communications, article provided)
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SWAP Cleans Up Abandoned Homes in Dolton, IL

Dolton3before
Dolton3after
(Photos Courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff's Office)
A program that uses offenders sentenced to manual labor helped cleanup a dozen abandoned homes Thursday morning in Dolton, Illinois. The Cook County Sheriff's Office reports approximately 20 offenders with the Sheriff's Work Alternative Program, or SWAP, picked up garbage, whacked weeds and mowed grass, transforming the lawns in front of homes located on East 140th Place, East 141st Place and East 142nd Place. The SWAP crews provide municipalities, government agencies and nonprofit organizations with free labor, and runs seven-days a week.
Dolton2before
Dolton2after
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Trustees Approve Several Changes at Purdue Calumet

Purdue Calumet
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue University's Board of Trustees on Friday (July 19) approved several academic changes at Purdue University Calumet.
The board approved changing the name and moving the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Members also voted to merge the Department of Information Systems and the Department of Finance and Economics and to change the name of all academic units from schools to colleges.
The name of the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management will be changed to the White Lodging School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and move to the College of Business. Purdue Calumet Chancellor Thomas Keon said the department's faculty unanimously voted to approve the changes earlier this year.
The new Department of Information Systems, Finance and Business Analytics will combine relevant disciplines into one department in the College of Business, Keon said.
"The reorganization allows more opportunities for collaboration and program updates consistent with university goals and with industry needs," Keon said. "This is especially relevant as employers of our students are calling for database management and business analysis skills."
Keon said changing the names of schools to colleges is to be consistent with other Purdue system campuses. The name changes include:
* School of Management to College of Business
* School of Education to College of Education
* School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science to College of Engineering, Mathematics and Science
* School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences to College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences
* School of Nursing to College of Nursing
* School of Technology to College of Technology
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Schererville PD Seek Help in July 10th Hit and Run

Schererville PD
Authorities in Schererville continue to search for a hit and run suspect who injured a child last week. Schererville Police report that at 5:10pm on Wednesday, July 10th, a mini-van driven by a White or Hispanic woman, approximately 30-to-40 years old, struck a nine-year old boy causing a severe arm injury on 81st Avenue and Wedgewood Court. Police described the vehicle as a green or blue older model Chrysler or Dodge, but the investigator believes the vehicle may be teal in color due to varying descriptions from witnesses. The vehicle should also have minor damage to the front end of the van. Anyone with any information regarding this incident is asked to please contact the Schererville Police Department.
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Caution for Swimmers on L. Michigan as Foul Wx Approaches

Coast Guard 9th District
MILWAUKEE — The Coast Guard is advising Lake Michigan residents and visitors to be cautious if swimming or recreating in or around the lake, as a strong cold front is expected over the weekend.
According the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids, Mich., winds and waves are expected to increase considerably this afternoon and tonight. A beach hazards statement is in effect until Friday night for beaches from Manistee, Mich., to St. Joseph, Mich. Hazards include high wave action, strong currents, possible rip currents, and dangerous swimming conditions.
“It’s imperative that those who choose to swim in Lake Michigan this weekend exhibit personal responsibility for their safety and the safety of others,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Randy Williams, a search-and-rescue controller at Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan in Milwaukee. “Whether boating or swimming, always be mindful of the conditions on the water and along the shoreline. If rip current warnings, small craft advisories, or other dangerous weather conditions are forecasted, it's best to stay away from the water.”
The Coast Guard recommends the following tips for swimmers:
Swim near a lifeguard — U.S. Lifesaving Association statistics during a 10-year period show that the chance of drowning at a beach without lifeguard protection is almost five times as great as drowning at a beach with lifeguards.
Never swim alone — Many drownings involve single swimmers. Learn water rescue techniques you can use if someone you are swimming with is in danger.
Don’t fight the current — If caught in a rip current, don’t fight it by trying to swim directly to shore. Instead, swim parallel to shore until you feel the current relax, then swim to shore. Most rip currents are narrow and a short swim parallel to shore will bring a swimmer to safety.
Swim sober — Alcohol is a major factor in drowning. Alcohol can reduce body temperature and impair swimming ability. Both alcohol and drugs impair good judgment, which may cause people to take risks they would not otherwise take.
Don’t float where you can’t swim — Non-swimmers and weak swimmers often use flotation devices, such as inflatable rafts, to go offshore. If they fall off, they can quickly drown. No one should use a flotation device unless they are also able to swim. The only exception is a person wearing an inherently buoyant Coast Guard approved Type I, II or III life jacket.
Prepare for the unexpected — Wear a life jacket while participating in any activity during which you could unexpectedly enter the water, such as when fishing from break walls or piers.
Avoid unnecessary risks — Walking along breakwalls is risky, because it only takes a momentary loss of footing to invite tragedy. Jumping from breakwalls, waterside structures, or into unfamiliar water is extremely dangerous since unseen underwater hazards may exist.
Read a June 2013 Coast Guard news release to learn more about rip current safety.
Read the National Weather Service’s beach hazards statement....
 

Rogers: Expanding Opportunities for our School Principals

Expanding opportunities for our school principals
By Indiana State Senator Earline Rogers (D-Gary)

Ensuring our public school principals have the skills and tools they need to be successful is essential to student achievement and creating a job-ready workforce. There are too many differences in schools and students to apply a one-size-fits-all approach across Indiana. The needs of students in Lake County schools are not necessarily the same as the needs of students in other areas of the state. By identifying the areas of need in their local communities, our public school leaders must come up with new and innovative ways of ensuring Hoosier schools succeed.
I was very pleased to work with legislators in the General Assembly in a bipartisan effort to establish the Indiana Principal Leadership Institute, a two-year collaborative program at Indiana State’s Bayh College of Education. This experience is designed to incorporate the full spectrum of community and professional collaboration to develop both personal and organizational goals for our public school leaders. In its first year, the institute will assist 50 principals from around the state with the evolving needs of schools including teacher evaluation models, student performance, community involvement and shaping a strong school culture. The participating principals will attend five seminars throughout the year, and will be assigned to focus groups led by mentors who are veteran educators with proven history of success in these areas. The inaugural class will begin the program this month in Terre Haute.
It is my hope that with the creation of the institute, along with a new law I authored creating the family-friendly school designation, these school principals will become better equipped to identify and implement programs that foster community and student involvement.  The institute is an innovative top-down approach to building strong schools through building strong leaders. These educators are in the unique position to be able to identify and understand the needs and strengths of their local schools from the perspective of those most directly involved – Hoosier students, the teachers and parents.
Strong communities and a healthy economy rely on strong schools, and strong schools are reliant on strong leaders. I think that the Indiana Principal Leadership Institute is a step in the right direction to ensuring our school leaders are proficient at the skills necessary to support their students and their communities.
I would encourage any school principals interested in participating in the institute to explore the opportunity. If you would like to participate in the program in the future, or if you would like more information please visit www.indianapli.org.
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NICTD: Riders May Have 10-20 Minute Delays Due to Heat

Traffic-Advisory
Extreme Heat Alert
Due to the forecast for extremely hot weather South Shore Rail riders may experience delays of 10-20 minutes. NICTD reports it is necessary to operate their trains at reduced speeds under these conditions.
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Hobart Man Sentenced in Jada Justice Death

A Hobart man accused in connection with the death of a two-year-old girl whose body was found burned and encased in concrete in a La Porte County swamp four years ago was sentenced to forty-years in prison in Lake County court today [Friday] . Timothy Tkachik pleaded guilty in 2010 to neglect. Co-defendant and former girlfriend Engelica Castillo was found guilty of murdering Jada Justice and is serving a 65-year prison term. Police say the child was beaten to death while the couple was babysitting her. A judge dismissed neglect charges against the child's mother last month.
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Man Shot at Party Dies, Marks 30th Homicide in Gary in 2013

Gary PD
A 24 year old man shot at a party in Gary on July 13th has died, becoming the city's 30th homicide this year. Gary Police report Benjamin Fullilove was shot multiple times after reportedly getting into an argument at a party in the 21-hundred block of Carolina Street.
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NiSource Exec to Lead Gary Airport Committee

gary airport logo WinCE
The Gary Airport Authority has announced the appointment of a NiSource executive as the new chair of the airport's ad hoc committee looking into the possibility of a public-private partnership to invest in the airport and surrounding area. Carrie Hightman, a current member of the P3 [public-private partnership] committee, will replace Northwest Indiana Bancorp CEO David Bochnowski, who resigned from the committee and the airport authority board for personal reasons.
“Carrie Hightman is an exceptional leader, and we are pleased to have her at the helm of the P3 committee,” said Nathaniel T. Williams, president of the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority.  “We are grateful to David Bochnowski for his service to the airport authority and for his leadership as chair of the public-private partnership committee.”
Established by the Airport Authority in February 2013, the P3 committee recently received a number of responses from private sector interests to the airport’s Request for Expressions of Interest and Qualifications (REIQ) to gather a broad array of approaches and ideas to invest in the airport and the surrounding area through a potential public-private partnership (P3). The committee expects to release a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) within weeks.
In addition to the P3 exploration, the airport has a $166 million runway expansion project underway to extend the main 7,000-foot runway by 1,900 feet.  The expansion is expected to be complete by September 2014.
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Metra Wire Problems Delay South Shore

Traffic-Advisory
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District says wire problems on Metra has led to South Shore delays this midday west of Hegewisch Station. Not known how long the delays will last.
NICTD website:  www.nictd.com
Metra has a service alert in effect due to the extreme heat, saying riders may experience delays of 10 to 15 minutes. Officials say when temperatures exceed 95 degrees, it is necessary to operate Metra trains at reduced speeds to compensate for heat-related stresses on their track, switches and signals
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Suburban Alderman Dies in Lake Michigan

michael janko WinCE
After about a seven-hour search by water and air, the body of a Blue Island alderman who disappeared in Lake Michigan was found hundreds of yards off Whiting's Whihala Beach shoreline around 10:30 last night. The Lake County Coroners office says 50-year-old Michael Janko was pronounced dead shortly before midnight this morning, and cause and manner of death were pending. 
Here is additional information from the U.S. Coast Guard today:
At 3:45 p.m., a search-and-rescue controller at  Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan, in Milwaukee, was contacted by a boater who said Janko went missing while he was swimming in Lake Michigan .25 miles north of Whihala Beach in Hammond, Ind.
The owner/operator told the Coast Guard that Janko jumped into the water then resurfaced but was unresponsive. Another swimmer grabbed onto him, but could not keep hold of him. He went under the water and did not resurface. He was not wearing a life jacket.
A rescue boatcrew aboard a  25-foot Response Boat Small launched from Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor, Ill., and a rescue aircrew aboard an MH-65C Dolphin helicopter launched from Coast Guard Air Facility Waukegan, Ill. Also searching were rescue crews from the Lake County, Ind., Sheriff’s Office, Indiana Department of Natural Resources and Hammond Fire Department.
A boatcrew with the Indiana Conservation Marine Unit conducting side-scanning sonar searches directed the Lake County Sheriff's Office divers to the area where they located Janko's body at 10:28 p.m. The sheriff's marine unit boatcrew transported Janko's body to the Hammond Marina, where it was turned over to the Lake County Coroner.
The Coast Guard RB-S crew, the Lake County Sheriff's Office boatcrew, and the Coast Guard rescue helicopter crew conducted eight sorties, over a period of almost eight hours, and covered a cumulative area of more than 40 square nautical miles.
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Chief Issues Statement After Two Dogs Fatally Shot

In Crown Point, Chief Pete Land says his officers did all they could to deter two Siberian Huskies fatally shot by police Wednesday. Land says a 911 caller reported two large dogs dragged her cat down a creek bank and were cornering her husband who was trying to get the cat. Land said neither dog had a collar or tags, and officers used pepper spray to try to scare them away. Land says an officer believing he was in danger of being attacked shot one of the dogs, and he says the second dog was shot due to the dog's continued aggressiveness. Land said in a prepared statement the “absolute last resort was to have to shoot either dog”. Chief Land also said one of the responding officers is with the department's K-9 unit.
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Car Show, Music Bingo Friday Night Fair Fare

Classic car and truck enthusiasts will be heading for the Porter County Fair today.  Radio One Communications' Buggy Wheel Pavilion is hosting the fair's Classic & Custom Car and Truck Day, sponsored by Oak Partners and MTI Service Center.  Those entering the judged competition should enter at Gate 3 starting at 1pm for free driver admission.  
Also at the Radio One Communications Buggy Wheel Pavilion tonight-- Music Bingo-- brought to you by Tony Saddle Shop and Vogelsang Asset Management!  It's free after your regular fair admission starting at 6:30pm.  It's like regular bingo, but instead of listening for a bingo number, players listen to popular songs from country, rock and other genres to complete their bingo card, with prizes awarded for each winner during tonight's fun!   Once again,  Music Bingo starts tonight at 6:30pm at the Porter County Fair's Radio One Communications Buggy Wheel Pavilion. 
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Boy Rescued from Sand Hole Improving

Doctors in Chicago say a six-year-old Sterling, Illinois, boy suddenly swallowed up by and buried under eleven-feet of sand at Mount Baldy in Michigan City last Friday is continuing to improve. University of Chicago Comer Childrens Hospital released a statement Thursday afternoon saying Nathan Woessner has been upgraded from critical to serious condition.
Park officials continue to try to determine what happened, hoping to bring in ground-penetrating radar or other equipment that can see under the 12-story dune to look for holes or any other dangers under the surface.

Experts also think an air pocket below the ground protected the child. Mount Baldy is closed until further notice.
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