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Region, Chicago Deal with Flooding

Communities across the Region and Chicago area continue to deal with flooding. On the southeast side of Chicago, a sinkhole swallowed three vehicles. Reports say the apparent cause of the sinkhole was a nearly century-old water main.  A number of area roads still have high-standing water, and flood warnings remain in effect across Northwest Indiana. The National Weather Service says rainfall reports of nearly seven and eight inches were observed in Illinois. In Northwest Indiana, and nearly two-and-a-half inches was reported to have fallen in Portage, with more than two inches of rain during a 24-hour period in these storms in Highland and Dyer.
Flood warnings continue for Region rivers. This morning at 5 am the Little Calumet River at Munster was at 15.2 feet, 3.2 feet above flood stage, meteorologists report. Last night the Kankakee River at Shelby was at 10.5 feet, and flood stage is 9 feet.
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Boston Bombings: One Suspect Dead, 2nd At Large

Dramatic developments overnight in the search for the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings. One of the suspects was killed in a police shootout - and a massive manhunt is underway for the second. ABC's Aaron Katersky from Watertown, Massachusett, reports this alll began with the robbery of a 7-11 convenience store near the campus of MIT. A campus police officer was shot and killed. There was a carjacking of a Mercedes. That car was found in a residential neighborhood here in Watertown. And when police pursued, there was gunfire. There were explosives, perhaps grenades, thrown at police. And during that pursuit, one transit police officer was shot and wounded and one of the suspects - the one in the black cap, number one - was shot and killed.
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Tier ll of the Illiana Corridor Project Holds Public Meeting

Representatives from the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) and the Illinois Department of Transportation held their first Open house of the Second Tier of the Illiana Corridor Project at Lowell Middle School from 5pm to 8pm tonight.

In a joint press release INDOT says the purpose of this event is to explain the Teir Two process, which includes refinement of the preferred corridor; interchange locations and layout; determining overpass and underpass opportunities; environmental analysis; and continued stakeholder outreach.  A brief Question and Answer session was held at around 6pm.

Along with several hundred property owners and curious others who live near the planned #B corridor route, were members of the expressway's opposition group, "No Illiana 4 US," headed up in Indiana by Harold Mussman, West Creek Township Trustee.  According to a recent article in the Times, Mussman said the group's main concern is the closure of certain north/south roads that would jeopardze residents' safety if they needed ambulance or first responder services. 
Read more about the group at:
 http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/illiana-expressway-foes-to-attend/article_406cd995-17fc-58dc-a172-9fd9bc995123.html
Spokepersons from INDOT and IDOT
INDOT and IDOT spokespersons at media briefing prior to public meeting to kick off Tier ll of the Illiana Expressway Project
Harold Mussman opposition leader

Harold Mussman, West Creek Township Trustee and Indiana leader of the "No Illiana 4 US," opposition group
opposition with picket signs
Part of the opposition group "No Illiana 4 US" with picket signs at the first Indiana public meeting of Tier ll of the Illiana Corridor Project
Slide presentation
Slide presentation of Tier Two at public meeting
B3 Corridor
The Illiana Expressway B3 Corridor laid out for public inspection (Indiana sector is at the far end of the table)
B3 Corridor in Lowell
The Illiana Corridor in the Lowell area
Tier ll  poster 2
One of several dozens informational posters on display at the public Open House Thursday night
signs
Some of the opposition group "No Illiana 4 US" signs
(photos provided by Jay Stevens)
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Donnelly Presses DOD on Off-Ramp of IN National Guard Units

Washington, D.C. —Yesterday, Senator Joe Donnelly questioned Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Acting Under Secretary of Defense Jessica Wright about an issue important to more than one thousand Indiana families: the off-ramping (cancelled deployment) of four Indiana National Guard units, two of which were just six weeks away from deploying.  The Army replaced these units with active duty units from a neighboring state.  In a few days, these National Guard families will lose their healthcare benefits, and 142 soldiers who reenlisted to serve in these deployments will have their bonuses cancelled and they will be asked to reenlist without the bonus.
“Hoosiers have said, ‘Look, we’re willing to share the burden. We’re willing to stand up for our country and reduce costs.  But Indiana’s National Guard shouldn’t have to bear the burden for the Army,’” said Donnelly.  “In just a few days, National Guard families lose their healthcare benefits and some soldiers lose their reenlistment bonuses.  We need to show that even during these challenging budget discussions, the well-being of the people who serve our great nation comes first.”
Donnelly concluded, “I am here to try to make sure that this is made right because what was done was not.”
Following the announcement of the off-ramp in March, Senator Donnelly sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense and the Chief of Staff of the Army asking them to reconsider his decision.  In response, the Army delayed the off-ramps by one month, giving Guard members and their families additional time on payroll and with health benefits, allowing them the transition time they have earned.
For a link to the letter Donnelly sent, click http://www.donnelly.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=341319
To view Senator Donnelly question Secretary Hagel, click ">
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$4.5 Million Proposed to Help Low Income Hoosiers with Energy Costs

WASHINGTON -- President Obama’s Budget Request for Fiscal Year 2014 includes an increase for low-income home weatherization services, including $4.5 million to help needy families in the state of Indiana.  The proposal represents a continued commitment by the President and his Administration to help low-income Americans address their energy needs through raising the energy efficiency of their homes while reducing their monthly energy costs.
The Weatherization Program is operated through the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority. The state office combines funding from the Energy Department and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to provide these services through a network of 24 community action agencies located throughout the state. 
To be eligible to receive these free energy improvements, the typical family of four in the state must earn less than $47,000, or less than 200 percent of the U.S. Poverty Guidelines. These families will save from $250 to $450 per year in their energy bills depending on the housing type and fuel source. These dollars can now be used for medicine, food, clothing and other expenses. 
Indiana’s Weatherization Program also provides comprehensive consumer education to each participating family on both improving health and safety in the home and the best use of the energy efficiency measures being installed. Nationally, the Department’s weatherization program has helped more than seven million families save money on their energy bills while creating jobs for American workers, supporting small businesses and reducing pollution.
To help families save additional money on their energy bills, energy efficiency and renewable energy experts from the Energy Department will answer questions about reducing energy use and improving home comfort during a Google+ Hangout on April 22 at 3 pm ET.
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LaPorte Co Authorities Seeking Info on Missing Sex Offender

Darell Eckwood
(Photo Courtesy of the LaPorte County Sheriff's Office)
The LaPorte County Sheriff's Office says they are seeking the public's help to locate a missing sex offender. The Sheriff's Office reports 20 year old Darell Eckwood is being sought for a sex offender registry violation, after it was learned earlier this month that he was not living at his registered address in the 56-hundred north block of County Road 400 West in Springfield Township. Eckwood was convicted in 2011 for felony child molesting, and is described as standing five-feet six inches, weighing 139 pounds, with short-cropped black hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact the LaPorte County Sheriff's Department.
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Body Found in Boone Twp Ditch Is Missing Akron, IN Man

porter co sheriff dept
The body of man found Monday night in a ditch in the area of County Road 500 West and County Road 1000 South, in Boone Township, has been identified. The Porter County Sheriff's Office reports the deceased is that of 32 year old Ruben Paredes (pair-dez), of Akron, Indiana. Authorities say the Akron man was reported as a missing person by his wife in early February, and a joint homicide investigation is underway. On Tuesday, Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris performed an autopsy on the victim, whose death was cause by an apparent gunshot wound. Anyone with information is asked to please contact the Porter County Sheriff's Department.
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FBI Releases Description of Suspects in Boston Bombing

ABC News reports the FBI has has identified two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. This afternoon officials released photos of the suspects and asked for the public's help in identifying the two men. Rick DesLauriers is the FBI special agent in Boston says suspect one is wearing a dark hat, suspect two is wearing a white hat. Suspect two set down a backpack at the site of the second explosion just in front of the Forum restaurant.
The FBI considers them to be armed and extremely dangerous. No one should approach them, and no should should attempted to apprehend them except law enforcement.
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Illinois Governor Declares State of Emergency

ABC News reports the governor of Illinois has declared a state of emergency after heavy rains brought flooding to the Chicago area. North of Chicago, the Fox and Des Plaines rivers are swollen, with the rate with which the river is rising on the Des Plaines is very rapid, nearly three feet since last night. Officials in Lake County, Illinois have been dispatching sandbags. The public works department has processed nearly 200-thousand sandbags out to local municipalities and townships. Meanwhile in Chicago some locks were opened along Lake Michigan reversing the flow of the Chicago River back to the lake.
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WX Cancels Wednesday's HSC Game, No Makeup

GARY, Ind. — Wednesday’s postponed High School Challenge contest between North Newton and South Newton has been canceled and will not be made up. Here is the remainder of the High School Challenge schedule. All games for this weekend are on as of right now.
 
Friday, April 19th
4:30 p.m. - *Lew Wallace vs. Roosevelt
7:30 p.m. - *East Chicago vs. MC Marquette
 
Saturday, April 20th
1:00 p.m. - *Michigan City vs. Boone Grove
4:00 p.m. - *Chesterton vs. Griffith
7:00 p.m. - *Victory Christian vs. Calumet Christian
 
Tuesday, April 23rd 
7:30 p.m. - *Hales Franciscan vs. St. Patrick
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Tips for Evading Fake Online Boston Charities

In the wake of Monday's bombing at the Boston Marathon, Scambook, the Internet’s leading complaint resolution platform, cautions the public to watch out for fake charities run by criminals who exploit national tragedy via the Internet. Over a dozen charity domains were registered in regards to Boston with names like "bostonmarathondonations.com", "bostonmarathonvictimfund.com" and "bostonmarathonattack.com".   
To avoid giving money to a fake charity, Scambook recommends donating to well-established organizations like the Red Cross, Boston Children's Hospital or One Fund Boston. If an individual is considering donating to a different organization, Scambook advises the following 5 tips to avoid a charity scam:
1. Check the organization online. Contact the State Attorney General or the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) to find out if the organization is officially registered. Watchdog sites guidestar.org and charitynavigator.org are also recommended.
2. Don't trust viral stories from supposed victims. In the wake of a national tragedy, dozens of heart-breaking stories circulate through social media and email. Don’t make any donations to individuals with whom there stands no personal relationship or verification of the claims.
3. Don't give in to pressure to donate. Even in times of need, a legitimate charity will never pressure anyone to donate. If an individual soliciting donations is rude, threatening, or refuses to answer questions, it's unlikely that they're representing a real charity. Call the organization they claim to represent.
4. Stop and remember past donations. Charity scammers often try to build trust with their victims by thanking them for past donations.  If contacted, pause and think about your history of donations. A legitimate charity will be able to provide the date of the donation or other verifying information.
5. Watch out for unsolicited text messages. Be wary of any text messages asking for donations. Although legitimate charities can receive donations via text message, it is highly improbable that they will send out unsolicited text messages for help.
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Gary PD Asks Those Walking to School to Do So in Numbers

Gary police are asking kids who walk to school, to try and do so in a group if possible, after an incident Wednesday morning. Gary Police Public Information Corporal Gabrielle King says a 14 year old was grabbed from behind while walking southbound on Washington Street to school, at 8:43am. Corporal King says the suspect, a black male, took the girl in an abandoned building in the 41-hundred block of Washington, fondled her, and left the scene. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Gary Police Department.
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Hammond PD Seek Public's Help in Armed Robbery

super gas 1
super gas 2
Hammond Police are asking for the public's help regarding an armed robbery that occurred at the Super Gas, in the 75-hundred block of Columbia Avenue, around 2am, on March 31st. Authorities say the suspect a male, described as being in his late teens to early twenties, approximately five-foot-nine inches tall, weighing around 140 pounds, wearing a dark colored jacket, red hooded sweatshirt, dark colored pants, gloves, and black shoes with a white mask. Police says the weapon used in the robbery was described as a black automatic handgun.
super gas 3
super gas 4
(Photos Courtesy of the Hammond PD)
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Power Restored Along US 30 in Valpo

Tipsters report power has been restored to the area along US 30 in Valparaiso. Power reportedly went out sometime after 1:30 this afternoon, affecting over 11-hundred customers for about a half-hour or so.
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Over 11 Hundred without Power Along US 30 in Valpo

Over a 11-hundred customers are without power in Valparaiso at last check. NIPSCO's Outage Map reports crews have been assigned, with power estimated to be restored by 5pm this afternoon. Tipster are reporting no electricity from County Road North 250 West to Horseprairie, along U-S 30. Power reportedly went out sometime after 1:30 this afternoon.
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Hammond Road Closures Due to Storm

We got word that emergency sirens were going off in Lansing this morning, reportedly someone spotted what they thought was rotation in the clouds... in nearby Hammond heavy rains have shut down some roads. This morning Hammond Police reported the following closures:
-Northcote [north-cott] Ave bridge from Hammond to Munster closed
-Columbia Ave bridge from Hammond to Munster closed
- Sheffield Ave, from Calumet to 141st Street
- 129th and New York Ave
-136th and Sheffield to Illinois
Also, INDOT reported Cline Avenue is closed between Riley Road and Calumet Avenue (East Chicago)
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Flood Exercise Friday in Gary Canceled Due to Flooding

A flood fighting exercise that was scheduled for tomorrow morning, near Indiana University Northwest, in Gary, has been canceled due to flooding. The drill would have been the first of its kind in Gary, with Harrison Avenue to have been closed using sandbags, in light of the floods back in September of 2008, that left nearly the entire main campus parking lot along 33rd Avenue under water, along with significant portions of the campus grounds.
Just about a month ago, there was a Hammond/Highland flood prep drill that had Kennedy Avenue shut down near the Borman for a few hours overnight. The exercise used concrete blocks and sandbags to build a 'wall' in just a couple hours on Kennedy Avenue as if flood waters were rising and was held in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers to make sure region responders, including public works and safety officials, are ready to act quickly in the event of a major flood.
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Indiana Flu Deaths Increase to 70

Two flu-related deaths have been reported this week by the Indiana State Department of Health, bringing the current total of flu-related deaths this season in the state to seventy. Five deaths occurred in individuals younger than 18 years of age. Five deaths occurred in Lake County, though no other information was released. The department does not report the number of deaths in a county until that number reaches five. Sixty-four of the cases involved individuals with underlying medical conditions. Flu season generally runs from October through May. State Health Commissioner Dr. William VanNess says everyone should still be diligent with hand washing.
Additional tips from the Indiana State Department of Health:
Dr. VanNess says practicing the following “Three C’s” will help protect you and prevent the spread of flu.
·        Clean: properly wash your hands frequently with warm, soapy water.
·        Cover: cover your cough and sneeze with your arm or a disposable tissue.
·        Contain: stay home from school/work when you are sick to keep your germs from spreading.
Flu symptoms include cough, fever, sore throat and body aches. Anyone experiencing symptoms should contact their health care provider. Individuals 65 and older are more susceptible to complications and death from flu and are urged to seek treatment quickly if they experience symptoms.
Flu vaccination is recommended for anyone six months of age or older. It is especially important for those at higher risk of complications related to the flu, to get vaccinated. High risk individuals include pregnant women, young children, people with chronic illnesses and/or compromised immune systems and the elderly. Because the vaccine can be less effective for people 65 and older, it is especially important for others to get vaccinated to help prevent the spread of flu to individuals in that age group.
For more information about Indiana’s 2012-2013 influenza season, visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov
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Multiple Shots Fired in Gary Homicide

Gary Police and the Lake County Crime Lab are investigating a shooting death overnight that occurred in the area of a corner store in the 700 block of West 45th Avenue in Gary. The Lake County Coroners office says 22-year-old Bryan David Taylor of Gary suffered multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene at midnight this morning. Gary Police Public Information Corporal Gabrielle King says officers responded to the report of shots fired in the area of 45th and Harrison just before 11pm. "And upon their arrival, they found 22-year-old Bryan D. Taylor lying on the ground, unresponsive and no signs of life.  Mr Taylor was identified at the scene by Detective James Bond who had recognized him from previous encounters with him," Corporal King said. "It's our understanding there were numerous shots that were fired," King said. Anyone who saw anything in the area of 45th and Harrison just minutes before 11 pjm Wednesday night is urged to call either Gary Detective James Bond, who can be reached at 219-881-4751, or Gary Corporal Ed Gonzalez, who can reached at 219-881-4750, as the two are both working this case.  Corporal King says the shooting victim was located outside of the nearby store.
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Police Seek Public's Help in Holdup

Porter County Sheriffs Police are asking for the public's help as they continue to investigate an armed robbery in South Haven Tuesday night. Officers say shortly after 10-o'clock, the subject entered the Speedway gas station at US 6 and State Road 149 and confronted the clerk as she came out of the back room. Police say the suspect pointed a handgun at the clerk and made her open the register and give him an undisclosed amount of currency.  The suspect is described as a black male, 5'9" with a large build, wearing blue/black pants, black shoes, tan gloves, dark blue nylon winter coat with a green collar and 2 red stripes running horizontally across the center of the back. The suspect also was wearing a black ski mask over his face. Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Department Detective Bureau at 219-477-3140. Anonymous tips can be called into WeTip at 1-800-782-7463. WeTip offers up to a $1,000 reward for information aiding in the arrest and conviction of any suspects involved.
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