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1st Indiana Human Case of West Nile Reported for 2013

indiana state department of health
INDIANAPOLIS—The first human case of West Nile virus in Indiana has been reported in Ripley County, State health officials announced today. Hoosiers are encouraged to take steps to protect themselves from West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.
In addition to the human case, mosquito groups in nine counties have now tested positive for the virus. Those counties include: Adams, Allen, Clinton, Grant, Hamilton, Jefferson, Starke, Vanderburgh and Vigo. The Indiana State Department of Health has collected and tested nearly 64,000 mosquitoes from 85 counties for West Nile virus and Saint Louis encephalitis. There have been no positive findings for Saint Louis encephalitis at this time.
“It is the time of the year when Hoosiers are at risk of getting West Nile virus and should take precautions against getting bitten by mosquitoes,” said Jennifer House, Director of Zoonotic & Veterinary Epidemiology at the Indiana State Department of Health. “Last year there were 77 cases in Indiana.”
State health officials recommend the following preventative measures:
·       Avoid places where mosquitoes are biting;
·       Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin;
·       Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home; and,
·       When possible, wear pants and long sleeves, especially if walking in wooded or marshy areas.
West Nile virus can cause West Nile fever, a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. Some individuals will develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other severe syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis.
To reduce potential mosquito breeding grounds:
·       Discard old tires, tin cans, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water;
·       Repair failed septic systems;
·       Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors;
·       Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed;
·       Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains;
·       Frequently replace the water in pet bowls;
·       Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically; and,
·       Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.

Individuals who think they may have West Nile virus should see their health care provider. 
For more information about mosquito safety, please visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s website at follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at
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Felony Theft Charges Filed Against Three Teens

Alex Conwell
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
Three teenagers have been charged with felony theft for allegedly trying to steal money from a woman at a gas station. The Times reports the woman informed police she was at the Go-Lo, in the 300 block of West US 6, when a vehicle pulled up with three teens who asked her if she could make change for a ten or twenty dollar bill. According to the article, 18 year old Alex Conwell, of Hobart, reportedly grabbed money from the woman causing an injury to her hand. Police were able to located the suspect vehicle, and all three were arrested, with Conwell also being charged with battery.
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Powerball Jackpot Jumps to $166 Million

hoosier lottery

Tonight's [Wed Jul 24 2013] Powerball jackpot is up to 166-million-dollars. Hoosier Lottery retailers have sold 38 Powerball jackpot winning tickets over the years, more than any other state. With the recent addition of California to the game, Powerball is now played in 43 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Hoosier Lottery officials say the most recent jackpot prize in Indiana was a 74-million-dollar jackpot win in Merrillville in April 2011.
The largest Powerball prize ever won in Indiana was a $314.3 million jackpot won in Richmond in August 2007.
The Hoosier Lottery reminds all players to play responsibly. Must be 18 or older to play.  Gambling Addiction Referral Line: 800-994-8448.  

Portage Hiring Freeze Lifted

Portage Hiring Freeze Lifted
The mayor of Portage has lifted a nearly two-month old citywide hiring freeze.  A statement from Mayor James Snyder said, "Early and projected results of trash automation are beginning to have an easing effect on the fragile city budget."  He also said early retirement packages have had the greatest impact on the budget, with significant cost reductions in staff and healthcare.  The mayor also said estimates show Portage could have a nearly one-million dollar surplus at the end of the year if the city continues on the same course.  The hiring freeze was no longer in effect as of last Thursday, the mayor's statement said.
"This by no means is a reason to celebrate; however, it is a reason to thank Department Heads for their long, hard and arduous work ethic in Portage's quick budget turnaround," Snyder wrote. "As Mayor, we will never hire without making sure we have the proper resources to insure that new employee's long and successful tenure with Portage. My staff and I will continue to exercise caution and prudence as we make long-term decisions affecting all of the residents of Portage. This short hiring stay was no different than what many Portage families are doing during these difficult times - analyzing their finances and making decisions accordingly."

Munster Cal Ave, 45th Project Progressing

Work continues to progress on eliminating gridlock at a busy set of intersections in Munster.  The most recent engineering and design reports are said to be on schedule for realigning 45th Street at Calumet Avenue, a project years in the making that would involve an underpass for cars and an overpass for trains.  The tracks cross Calumet between west and east 45th Streets.  Construction is expected to be a few years away. 

Stomach Bug Spreading

stomach map WinCE
More than 250 people in at least six states – including Wisconsin and Iowa - have a stomach bug ... ten of them hospitalized. The Centers for Disease Control says the cyclospora infection causes diarrhea and other flu-like symptoms. ABC's Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser: Besser says the CDC still doesn't know how the people are connected.  "CDC really has their hands full with this one," Besser said. "Cyclospora is the name of the bug. It's unusual. It tends to be found in the tropics. It's caused some outbreaks here in the past, from imported raspberries, from lettuce, from basil. It's not spread person to person."  Other cases have been reported in Nebraska, Texas, Georgia and Connecticut. The CDC also says Illinois and Kansas have also notified CDC of one case each that may have been acquired out of state. It is not yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are part of the same outbreak.
  • * Data are current as of 5pm EDT, 7/22/13. Data are preliminary and subject to change.
  • A total of 269 cases of Cyclospora infection have been reported from eight states. The number of cases identified in each state is as follows: Iowa (127)†, Nebraska (68)†, Texas (65)†, Wisconsin (4), Georgia (2), Connecticut (1), Illinois (1)‡, and Kansas (1)‡
  • † Total may include some international travel-associated cases (interviews pending)
  • ‡ Includes one case that was likely acquired in a neighboring state involved in the outbreak

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. 


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.


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]

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.

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

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.



Legislation Introduced to Protect Farmer's Personal Info

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)


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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Laura-WAKE Scott-WAKE Brent-WAKE
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team


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