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NWS: Tornado Watch in Effect Through Midnight

The National Weather Service has issued a Tornado Watch until 12am CST Thursday for the following counties in Northwest Indiana: Newton, Jasper, Starke, and Pulaski. A Tornado Watch means the formation of tornadoes, large hail, and/or damaging winds are possible in the listening area. Be alert to changing weather conditions, be prepared to move to a place of safety, and keep your radio on for any changing weather conditions.
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Rain Anticipated to Soak the Region Today and Thursday

The region is expected to get soaked between today and tomorrow. Associate Professor of Meteorology at Valparaiso University, Dr. Bart Wolf says most Northwest Indiana could see one to three inches of rain, with other areas receiving more, with the likelihood of severe weather increases tomorrow. Dr. Wolf warns of runoff with storms like these, and asks motorists to watch for flooding on areas along the roadway, especially in rural areas, during heavy rain, and says to never drive through a flooded area at night, because you cannot accurately estimate its depth. The National Weather Service has issued a Flood Watch in effect through Friday morning for Porter, Newton, and Jasper Counties, and a Flood Warning continues for the Kankakee River at Shelby until Monday morning.
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Pelath To House Republicans: We Need a Plan B for HIP

House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, of Michigan City, spoke on the House floor this afternoon, pleading with legislative Republicans and Republican Govenor Mike Pence to have a Plan B to offer health care expansion if the governor’s plan fails. Pelath mentioned that North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple, a Republican in a very conservative state, signed legislation to expand Medicaid to cover more than 20,000 uninsured citizens in his state. The bill makes available $150 million to provide that coverage. The federal government will pay 100 percent of the cost for the newly insured recipients through 2016. The state’s share will rise in stages to 10 percent.
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Governor Signs First Responder Bill

Indiana Governor Mike Pence has signed a bill giving first responders more tools to help treat disaster victims. State Senator Vaneta Becker of Evansville says she's relieved this got approved so quickly, especially in light of the bombings in Boston. Becker says House Bill 1111 enhances the authority and ability of first responders to practice tactical emergency medicine, which means care provided in the field instead of a hospital – usually in a crisis environment, like a natural disaster. Under current law, members of law enforcement and other organizations who are trained to practice emergency medicine are sometimes prohibited from treating disaster victims on site. The measure passed both the Senate and House unanimously and takes effect immediately.
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Armed Robbery in South Haven

In South Haven, Porter County Sheriffs Police are investigating an armed robbery at a Speedway gas station at US 6 and State Road 149 Tuesday night. Reports say there were no injuries and police were searching for the suspect.  Police say at approximately 10:05 PM, the suspect entered the station and confronted the clerk as she came out of the back room. The suspect pointed a handgun at the clerk and made her open the register and give him an undisclosed amount of USC. 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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Interest Could Help Build New Shelter, Center

There's a lot of interest in how accrued interest from the sale of the county hospital six years ago might be spent... it's up to nearly eleven-million dollars. Porter County Commissioners have forwarded a request to the County Council requesting one-and-a-half million dollars go toward building a new animal shelter, at State Roads 130 and 149... and another million and a half on constructing an educational center at Sunset Hill Farm County Park, which is at US 6 and Meridian Road.
Earlier this year, the county agreed to put 600-thousand dollars of the interest money into buying and renovating the Legacy Banquet Center on West Lincolnway in Valparaiso for Porter County PACT alternative sentencing, community service, counseling and related programs for offenders and former offenders.
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Child Abuse Awareness Vigils Across Indiana

Candlelight vigils were held in Merrillville, Valparaiso, and communities around the state last night, representing 92 counties in the effort to bring awareness to protecting children against child abuse. Jane Bisbee, Regional Manager of the Department of Child Services in Lake County, says the number of assessments in Lake County has gone up. "The Indiana Child Abuse Hotline takes all of our calls of abuse or neglect, and then they're transferred electronically to the local level, and then we assign them to the case managers here in the Lake County office," Bisbee said.  She said they now have over two-thousand children who are now under the jurisdiction of the Lake County court system.  Louella Richey, Director of the Porter County office, says the toll-free Indiana Child Abuse and Neglect Hotlinel is 1-800-800-5556. "We know that Indiana's future depends on our kids," Richey said, "and it's our responsibility to take care of them."
You can hear more of our interviews with Jane Bisbee and Louella Richey at News Audio on Demand at regionnewsteam-dot-com
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Legislators Honor Bowman Academy

Gary State Representative Charlie Brown led the Indiana House of Representatives in congratulating the Bowman Academy with a Senate Concurrent Resolution for winning the 2A Boys Basketball State Championship this year. Brown says the Bowman Academy boys basketball team—which won the Class 1A Championship in 2010—is the first team in Indiana history to win state titles in multiple classes. Last year, they placed second in the Class 2A title game.
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Pickets at Peotone Illiana Meeting

Pickets in Peotone at a meeting on the proposed Illiana Expressway last night during an open house coordinated by the Illinois Depatment of Transportation and Indiana Department of Transportation. Residents were expressing concern that the proposed east-west highway between I-65 in Lake County and I-55 in Illinois would cut them off from certain routes. A concern over access roads has been voiced in Lowell, too. There's another Tier Two public meeting open house scheduled this week, and it'll be at Lowell Middle School, 19250 Cline Avenue, Thursday, April 18, 2013 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.  Lowell Town Council President Edgar Corns talks about this issue, and other community topics, in a recent Region Newsmakers interview that can be heard online here at our website.
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PC EMA Director Says Stay Alert

Emergency managers like Director of Porter County Emergency Management Russell Shirley stress the importance of being vigilant, all the time, in light of the deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon Monday.    "When you're there, you're having a good time, you're not thinking about that kind of stuff," Shirley said. "What you need to do is be more aware of your surroundings. The adage now is, 'If you see something, say something', and that's obviously never been more true. If you see something suspicious, say something to somebody -- let us know that you see something suspicious because the public really is the 'eyes and ears'." Shirley says the public is going to see more than what the police, or the fire, ems, emergency responders are going to see.  You can hear more of our interview with Russell Shirley at News Audio on Demand here at our website.
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Body Found Now Homicide Case

The discovery in a rural area of northwest Indiana of a body described as severely decomposed has turned into a homicide investigation. Porter County Sheriffs Police say an autopsy Tuesday showed the adult male suffered an apparent gunshot wound, and revealed that the victim was white or Hispanic. Authorities say the body was found in a drainage ditch near County Roads 500 West and 1000 South in Boone Township, south of Hebron, and anyone with information or who may have seen suspicious activity in the area is asked to call Porter County Sheriffs Police Commander Jeff Biggs at 219-477-3141.  Anonymous tips can be phoned into WeTip at 1-800-782-7463. Police say WeTip offers up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of any suspects involved.
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Lake Co Woman Hurt in Boston Bombings

A Highland woman is among the more than 170 people injured in the Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people. Beth Roche was taken to the hospital for her injuries. She was in Boston to see her daughter, Rebecca Roche, participate in the race. Rebecca Roche says she crossed the finish line about thirty or sixty seconds before the two bombs went off and says her mother and some friends were injured  in the impact, and are recovering from surgery for broken bones.
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Two MC Top Ten Caught, Two More Added

Pierre Greer
(Pierre Greer, Photo Courtesy of Michigan City PD)
Police in Michigan City say two subjects have been taken off the Michigan City Top Ten Most Wanted List, as they have been recently apprehended. Officials say Denquise Hart, who was wanted on a probation revocation for receiving stolen property is now in custody, and on Tuesday, police arrested Demetrius Howell without incident, who was wanted for escape and several other failure to appear warrants. Of course this now opens up two spots on the top ten list, which Michigan City Police say is now held by 26 year old Pierre Greer, of Chicago, wanted for felony forgery and identity deception. The other subject added to the list is 33 year old Beecil Minley, of Michigan City, wanted on a felony charge of dealing cocaine.
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Donnelly Receives Annual Spirit of Enterprise Award

WASHINGTON, D.C. —The U.S. Chamber of Commerce today presented Senator Donnelly of Indiana with the annual Spirit of Enterprise Award for his support of pro-jobs, pro-growth policies during the second session of the 112th Congress.
“In the face of high-stakes politics and difficult choices, Senator Donnelly provided America’s job creators with a strong voice in Congress,” said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber. “This award recognizes Senator Donnelly for consistently demonstrating his support for pro-growth policies.”
The Chamber’s prestigious Spirit of Enterprise Award, in its 25th year, is given annually to members of Congress based on key business issues outlined in the Chamber publication How They Voted. Members who support the Chamber’s position on at least 70% of those votes qualify to receive the award.
According to the scorecard, Senator Donnelly received a 91% rating with the Chamber this year and collectively holds a 66% ranking during his tenure in Congress.
The Chamber scored Congress on 8 Senate and 12 House votes in 2012, including reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the establishment of Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) with Russia, and the reauthorization of surface transportation legislation. Also scored were votes to repeal onerous provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, improve the process by which regulations are promulgated, and better secure the United States from cyber threats.
To view a complete list of the 2012 Spirit of Enterprise recipients, please visit www.uschamber.com/soe.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers.
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3 Arrested on Drug Charges in Lake County After Raids

James Baker
(James Baker)
Michael Baker
(Michael Baker)
Jermaine Stanley
(Jermaine Stanley)
(Photos Courtesy of the Lake County Sheriff's Office)
Three men were arrested today on drug charges as the result of information provided by citizens after raids were conducted by the Lake County Sheriff's Department. Authorities report two raids were conducted in Lake Station where 55 year old James Baker, of Lake Station, was arrested in the 33-hundred block of Minnesota Street and 36 year old Michael Allen Baker, of Lake Station, was arrested in the 33-hundred block of Iowa Street. The Sheriff's Department says the third raid was conducted in Gary, where 40 year old Jermaine Stanley, of Gary, was arrested in the 48-hundred block of Vermont Place. Officials says each face charges of dealing drugs and that drugs were recovered at the scene of each arrest.
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Pair Caught After Pursuit for Theft from LaPorte Walmart

Brian Kull
Dianna Krull
(Photos Courtesy of the LaPorte Police Department)
A 42 year old South Bend man has been charged with felony theft after exiting the LaPorte Walmart early Monday morning with a laptop computer he failed to pay for. LaPorte Police says Brian Kull was witnessed running to a van by a employee, that fled east out of the parking lot. Police say the employee notified a reserve officer, who then notified police of the suspected vehicle, and followed it until police could intercept it, at State Road 2 East and 900 East. Police say the driver of the suspected vehicle, 45 year old Dianna Krull, of Mishawaka, was also taken into custody and charged with aiding, inducing, or causing an offense, a Class D felony.
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Responders Training to Handle Explosion Aftermath

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security announced today that Hoosier first responders are training today and tomorrow to react to the aftermath of an explosion similar to the incident at the Boston Marathon on Monday. Officials says over 30 students are participating in medical preparedness and response to bombing incidents at a course at the Brownsburg Fire Territory, which is designed to give public safety professionals the necessary knowledge needed following a bombing incident.
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Child Abduction in Maywood, Illinois

Police in Maywood, Illinois, have confirmed a child abduction that took place today at 6th and Main in Maywood. An Amber Alert has been issued for Bryeon Hunter, a one-year old, black male, described as two-feet tall, weighing 30-pounds, wearing a two-toned blue stripe long sleeve shirt, blue jeans, blue and brown Nike boots, and that he was last seen by his mother at 2:15 this afternoon. Maywood Police described the suspected vehicle as a black two-door car with tinted windows. Authorities say three Hispanic male suspects were in vehicle, one described as a heavy-set, bald, and with a patch of hair in the back, while the other two are described as stocky. Anyone with information is asked to call 9-1-1.
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Man Found Drainage Ditch Died of Gunshot Wound

An autopsy to determine the identity of a man whose body was discovered in a rural area of northwest Indiana late Monday afternoon has been completed by the Porter County Coroner's Office. Coroner Chuck Harris says the victim was a white or Hispanic male, who died of an apparent gunshot wound, and no further information is being released at this time.  The Porter County Sheriff's Office says the body was found in a drainage ditch about twenty-feet wide near County Road 500 West in Boone Township, south of Hebron, and that they are now considering this a homicide investigation. Authorities ask that anyone with information, or who may have seen any suspicious activity recently in the area of 500 West and County Road 1000 South, are asked to contact Porter County Sheriff's Commander Jeff Biggs, at 219-477-3141, or to their anonymous tip line, WeTip, at 1-800-782-7463, which offers up to a $1000 reward for information aiding in the arrest and conviction of any suspects involved. 
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How to Cope with Disasters Like the Boston Bombings

Disastrous events like the bombings in Boston have an affect on everyone. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, used social media today to remind us that everyone who sees or experiences a disaster is affected by it in some way...and that includes those of us who experience a disaster “second hand” through exposure to extensive media coverage.
FEMA points out that it's normal to feel anxious about your own safety and that of your family and close friends...and everyone has different ways of coping. Children and older adults are of special concern in the aftermath of disasters. FEMA urges citizens to contact local faith-based organizations, voluntary agencies, or professional councilors for counseling, and says events like Boston can also serve as a reminder to update your family disaster plan to prepare locally. For more information visit http://www.ready.gov/coping-with-disaster .
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