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Local Drive Underway to Help Oklahoma Tornado Victims

While the law enforcement community warns Region residents to be alert to possible phone scams asking for money for victims of the recent Moore, Oklahoma tornado, a collection drive for urgently needed items is going on today and tomorrow at two collection sites in Porter County.
According to published reports, items needed most include tooth paste and tooth brushes, shampoo, hand sanitizers. female products, hand lotion, toilet paper, paper towels, sponges, baby wipes, baby lotion, cotton swabs, work gloves, towels, trash bags, bottled water, diapers, wash cloths, bath soap, dishwasher soap, detergent, bleach and razors.
Other items being requested are blankets and pillows, dog food, cat food, kitty litter, leashes and collars, hand wipes, ear plugs, juice boxes, and non-perishable food items.
The Times reports items can be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and tomorrow at two sites in Porter County including the K-Mart in Chesterton on Indiana Boundary Rd. and at the Valparaiso VFW on Roosevelt Rd.  For more information contact Melissa Rees at 219 508-9519 or Samantha Rees at 219 331-6233. 

Allegiant Air Announces End of Service Out of Gary

Allegiant Air
Allegiant Air will cease flights from Gary/Chicago International Airport in August but before they do the airline says starting June 5th it will switch it's weekly flights to Wednesdays and Saturdays.  The Times is reporting that the carrier anticipates its last scheduled flight to take off on August 10th. Despite the announcement made Friday by the airport authority, the airport is planning to borrow it's largest amount in authority history. According to the article, Gary Mayor, Karen Freeman-Wilson says with the airport's large-scale runway expansion project and potential public-private partnership, other airlines are “expressing an interest in Gary.” Meanwhile despite it's announcement to end service, Allegiant has not totally closed the door on future opportunities at the airport, according to published reports.
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Memorial Day Weekend Services at Calumet Park Cemetery

Privately owned Calumet PArk Cemetery is observing its 85th year of serving families and veterans in the Region and as in previous years they will be holding Memorial Weekend Services.  In addition, Rob Vogel of Calumet Park said they will be having a free fireworks display and hayride starting today at dusk.   Visitors should enter through the cemetery's west entrance as the main gate will be closing at 6 p.m., according to Vogel.  You can hear more about Calumet Park's history and 85th Anniversary activities online at News Audio On Demand at  
Memorial Weekend Schedule for 2013:

May 25 - Saturday at 10:00 a.m. ...............................................................................................Descent of the Holy Ghost Service
To be held in the mausoleum ... come share a moment of remembrance of those who sacrificed their all for this country. 


May 25 - Saturday at 7:00 p.m. ....................................................................................................................Fireworks and hayride
In celebration of our 85th year as a privately owned cemetery serving all of the NW Indiana and beyond, we invite you to bring a blanket or a lawn chair and watch the fireworks. They will be in Section 17, the Veterans section, upon darkness. Hayrides will be available from 7:00 until dark. This event, like all of Calumet Park’s special community activities, is free to the public. 


May 26 - Sunday at 1:00 p.m. .........................................................Veteran’s Memorial Service
American Legion 1st District Guest speaker: Pastor Fred Hoover. Actual service beings promptly at 1:00 p.m. Meet in Section 17 (Veterans Section) at the tent. The Merrillville H.S. Band will offer a background of patriotic music in a military tribute to America’s veterans. Check with your local American Legion to have a flag placed on the graves of veterans at Calumet Park Cemetery. If a flag is not placed on your loved one’s grave, come to the office and we will provide a complimentary flag while supplies last. 


May 27 - Monday at 10:00 a.m. ...............................................................................................................................Catholic Service
A Catholic Mass will be celebrated at the altar in the Crucifixion Circle by Fr. Frank Torres. In case of inclement weather, the services will be held in the mausoleum. 


May 27 - Monday at 10:00 a.m. ...............................................................................................St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Service
Service will be conducted by Reverend Father Marko Matic. Gather at the Serbian Monument. Service starts at 10:00 sharp with a blessing of individual graves to follow.


 May 27 - Monday at 10:00 a.m. ....................................................................................First Presbyterian Church of Merrillville
Service conducted by Reverend Bill Hudson at the large tent in the Veterans Section (Section 17).   


May 27 - Monday at 11:45 a.m. ..................................................................SS Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Service
Service conducted by Reverend Father Ted Poteres. Gather for services in Section 37 at the Precious and Life Giving Cross. Blessing of individual graves throughout the cemetery will follow the service. 


May 27 - Monday at 12:30 p.m. ......................................................................................Battle of the Bulge Memorial Ceremony
Meet at South end of Section 17 at “Bulge” memorial, rain or shine. Services conducted by the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge (VBOB) Northern Indiana Chapter 30, lead by Barry Veden, President.  
flag memorial day
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Recreational Water Illness Injury Prevention Week

The Memorial Day holiday is traditionally the kick off to the summer season where people start to enjoy the outdoors in the sun and the water. As many will be heading towards the water for fun and recreation, State health officials urge Hoosiers to do so safely. Recreational Water Illness and Injury (RWII) Prevention Week is May 20 to 26 and aims to raise awareness that each year, thousands of Americans get sick from germs in waterways or injured in places they swim. The goal of RWII Prevention Week is to raise awareness about healthy and safe swimming.  

“Everyone can have plenty of safe fun in the water this summer if they take some small steps while they are enjoying aquatic activities,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “Whether it’s a public or private pool, a lake, water park, reservoir or other body of water, Hoosiers need to practice safe habits and personal hygiene in the water. Waterborne-illnesses are a risk, as well as accidental drowning and injuries.”


In the latest State mortality report from 2010, there were 62 deaths in Indiana due to accidental drowning or submersion. Some of these deaths could have been prevented. When swimming, be sure to have a flotation safety device, like a life preserver or a vest, nearby and always obey swimming rules at the pool, lake or other body of water. Do not swim where prohibited and never swim alone.


State health officials say the best way to prevent recreational water illnesses from pools is to keep germs out. That can be accomplished by following these six healthy swimming steps:

Don’t swim when you have diarrhea
Don’t swallow pool water
Practice good hygiene—shower with soap before swimming and wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers
Take your kids on bathroom breaks or check diapers often
Change diapers in a bathroom or a diaper-changing area and not at poolside
Wash children thoroughly with soap and water before they swim

If you have a private pool, always check the chlorine and pH levels before getting into the water. Proper chlorine (1–3 mg/L or parts per million [ppm]) and pH (7.2–7.8) levels maximize germ-killing power. Most superstores, hardware stores and pool-supply stores sell pool test strips for testing the chlorine.


Health officials also caution Hoosiers of the possible presence of blue-green algae, also known as Cyanobacteria, at many of Indiana’s reservoirs, lakes, ponds and slow-moving streams where the water is warm and enriched with nutrients like phosphorus or nitrogen from fertilizers.


Even though they may not be visible in water, many things that can harm you may still be present, and anyone in Indiana’s waters should take some basic precautions, including:

·        Avoid water-related activities when temperatures are high and water levels are low

·        Avoid coming in contact with visible algae while swimming, jet skiing or tubing

·        Avoid swallowing or breathing in any water while swimming

·        Hold your nose shut, use nose clips or keep your head above water

·        Avoid digging in, or stirring up the sediment in shallow areas

·        Don't let your pet drink or swim in water with visible algae

·        If your pet does swim, be sure to properly bathe your pet afterwards and

·        Always supervise children playing in or around water, as they are more likely to swallow water

Anyone who gets injured or who may be experiencing symptoms related to exposure to recreational waters, including stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, headache, fever, muscle weakness or difficulty breathing, should contact their health care provider.

For more information on recreational water illnesses, visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s Healthy Swimming website at Information on public swimming pools and spas may be found at  For more information on blue-green algae, visit Indiana’s Blue-Green Algae website at


As we kick off Recreational Water Illness and Injury Prevention Week, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention invites you to join a Twitter chat on healthy and safe swimming on Wednesday, May 22 from 2 to 3 p.m. ET.  To participate, follow @CDC_NCEZID on Twitter and use the hashtag #swimsafe during the chat to view and respond to tweets.  Remember to like Indiana State Department of Health on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @StateHealthIN.  

 indiana state department of health



Local Influential Women Honored at Awards Ceremony

Influential Women winners
MERRILLVILLE – More than 450 people attended the Influential Women of Northwest Indiana Awards Banquet at Avalon Manor Thursday night to honor the most successful women in 11 different industries.
The categories for which women were awarded include business, construction, economic development, education, finance, government, healthcare, law, media/marketing, nonprofit and service/tourism. Two women were awarded in each of the 11 industries, one for the Influential Woman Award and one for the Up and Coming Woman Award.
“Our nominating committee had their work cut out for them this year,” Event Organizer Andrea Pearman said. “We had more than 172 applicants and 90 finalists to choose from, and the number of deserving women was truly amazing.”
Alumni who received Influential Women Awards during previous ceremonies were also in attendance to welcome the class of 2013.
An overall winner was also chosen for Influential Woman of the Year and Up and Coming Woman of the Year. JoAnn Birdzell, Chief Executive Officer of St. Catherine Hospital, was named the 2013 Influential Woman of the Year, while Tricia Hanrath, Safety Coordinator for Superior Construction Company, Inc. was honored as the 2013 Up and Coming Woman of the Year.
NIPSCO also received the Empowering Business of the Year Award, which recognizes one company that demonstrates excellence in supporting women’s success.
Denise Dillard, Chief Consultant of Government and External Affairs at Methodist Hospitals, received the 2013 Community Leader Award for her service throughout Northwest Indiana, andCalvin Bellamy, of Krieg DeVault, was named 2013 Supporter of the Year for submitting the most nominations for the Influential Women of Northwest Indiana Awards during the three years since the event began.
“All of our finalists and winners are deserving of these accolades,” Pearman said. “They are committed throughout the year to making Northwest Indiana such an exceptional place to live and work.”
During the past two years, Influential Women of Northwest Indiana has also donated more than $20,000 to area nonprofits. This year, four more organizations received funds – Sojourner Truth House, The Caring Place, Discoveries Unlimited, and the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana.
“The nonprofits that we selected are solely focused on improving the quality of life in Northwest Indiana,” Pearman said. “We had a very impressive list of organizations to choose from, and these four stood out. The projects these funds go to will specifically benefit girls and women.”
A full list of the women, organizations and nonprofits that were honored at the Influential Women of Northwest Indiana Awards Banquet can be found at
And the winners are …
2013 Overall Influential Woman of the Year
JoAnn Birdzell, Chief Executive Officer
St. Catherine Hospital
2013 Overall Up and Coming Woman of the Year
Tricia Hanrath, Safety Coordinator
Superior Construction Co., Inc.
Empowering Business of the Year 
2013 Community Leader Award Winner
Denise Dillard, Chief Consultant, Government and External Affairs
Methodist Hospitals
2013 Supporter of the Year 
Calvin Bellamy
Krieg DeVault
2013 Influential Women of the Year (Category listed above each name)
Kimberly Broader, Manager, NISPCO Business Office
Melissa Neff, President
Mechanical Concepts
Economic Development
Dawn Collins, Broker/Owner
Century 21 Executive Realty
O’Merrial Butchee, Gerald I. Lamkin Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center Director
Ivy Tech Community College
Rachel Saxon, President/Senior Trust Officer
Horizon Bank
Senator Earline Rogers
Indiana State Senator
JoAnn Birdzell, Chief Executive Officer
St. Catherine Hospital
Sean Kenyon, Attorney
Hoeppner Wagner & Evans LLP
Marketing/ Media
Chelsea Whittington, Communication Director
City of Gary
Maggi Spartz, Asset Developer
Unity Foundation of La Porte County
Lorelei Weimer, Director of Tourism
Indiana Dunes Tourism
2013 Up and Coming Women of the Year (Category listed above each name)
Theresa Valade, President/CEO
Success Trek, Inc.
Tricia Hanrath, Safety Coordinator
Superior Construction Co., Inc.
Economic Development
Tina Rongers, President
Karnerblue Era, LLC
Regina Biddings-Muro, Interim Vice Chancellor for Advancement
Purdue University Calumet
Jocelyn Hibshman, COO/Chief Compliance Officer
Lakeside Wealth Management Group
Commissioner Nancy Adams 
Porter County Board of Commissioners
Cynthia Thompson, Patient Care Services Hammond Director
Franciscan Physician Hospital
Dana Rifai, Attorney
Burke Costanza & Carberry LLP
Marketing/ Media
Brandi Anstine, Marketing & Special Events Director
Lakeshore Public Television & Radio
Monique Ruiz, Administrator
Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce
Allyson Baughman, Marketing Director
Duneland Chamber of Commerce
About Influential Women of Northwest Indiana
Influential Women of Northwest Indiana is an organization devoted to providing women with the resources, recognition and motivation necessary to be successful in the business world. Each year, Influential Women of Northwest Indiana honors the area’s most successful women in eleven different industries, ranging from construction and healthcare to education and government.

Festival to Honor US Service Members Tomorrow at Griegers

Valparaiso: As American’s older Veterans pass on, there are fewer and fewer ceremonies commemorating the great sacrifices of Americas heroes. ThisSaturday, May 25th a festival will commemorate America’s greatest heroes under a majestic flag in front of Griegers on US 30 in Valparaiso. Valpo’s American Legion will provide a color guard ceremony and historical artifacts from WW II and other wars. After the 21 gun salute and taps is performed, Bill Wellman, Mayor Costas and Bill Hanna will say a few words. Wellman is a local hero and fought in the Battle of Okinawa. Wellman has been in the media recently for his initiative to have cities around the nation honor the war dead by playing taps each night at dusk. Many downtown restaurants, including don Quijote, Bon Femme, Tommy B’s and Margarita’s will serve food. The Northwest Indiana Jeepers will have a Jeep Show. The Jeepers will hopefully attract a younger generation to the festival.
“The torch of remembrance needs to be passed on,” said Brad Hallal of Griegers. “We hope this event will spark an interest with a new generation. Honoring America’s war dead should be considered a civic responsibility. We felt this festival would be an opportunity for Griegers to do right”
Many people misunderstand the meaning of Memorial Day. It is meant to honor America’s war dead. The purpose of the “Heritage of Heroes” event is to honor the nation’s war dead, preserve their memory and create awareness of their selfless service, bravery and sacrifice. This event will attempt to achieve this through displaying historical artifacts, ceremony, speakers, good food and fellowship.
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3 Juvenile Girls in Custody for Fight Behind LaPorte Business

Three female juveniles from LaPorte, ages 15, 16, and 17, were taken into custody for disorderly conduct Thursday for fighting over a boy behind the LaPorte Little Ceaser's. LaPorte Police report they were dispatched just before 3pm, and advised en-route the involved parties were leaving the scene in a red Lincoln Towncar and a black BMW, but officers arrived in time to stop the vehicle from leaving the north side of business. All three girls were taken to the juvenile services center.
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Highland Man Commits Suicide on Highland RR Tracks

The body of a 53 year old Highland man was found this morning at Highway Avenue and 1st Street in Highland, on the railroad tracks, without a head. The Lake County Coroner's office reports Thomas Crnkovich died as a result of trauma to the neck, and his death has been ruled a suicide. The Coroner's Office reports an investigative team was dispatched at 7:20 this morning, and pronounced the man deceased at 8am.
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Agreement Reached with Penguin for Price-Fixing and Collusion

Indiana Attorney General
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller today announced an agreement has been reached with Penguin Group Inc. to settle allegations that the book publisher colluded, along with other major publishers and Apple Inc., to manipulate prices in the E-book market. Zoeller says if approved by the U-S District Court, Indiana's consumers who purchased E-books published by Penguin will receive one-point-one-five million dollars in total refunds via their E-book accounts, as well as benefit from restored competitiveness within the E-book marketplace. Indiana has previously settled with four other publishers, and Zoeller says together, these five settlements will result in Indiana consumers receiving two-point-seven million dollars in refunds.
Indiana's antitrust action based on the same allegations against Apple Inc. remains pending, with a trial scheduled next month.
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Six Latin King Gang Members Sentenced for Racketeering

Six members of the Latin Kings street gang were sentenced this week in Hammond Federal Court for racketeering conspiracy, along with a former Chicago Police officer. The indictments charge that the gang members were responsible for more than 20 murders, including the deaths of of two Latin Dragon members in Griffith in February of 2007. 42 year old Antonio Martinez Jr. was sentenced to 12 years in prison, and according to court records, committed armed robberies on behalf of the Latin Kings along with another officer, at times while in uniform and driving police-issued vehicles.
In total, 23 Latin King members and associates have been indicted in this case, with 14 having already been sentenced, and of the nine remaining, seven have pled guilty, one case was dismissed, and one is a fugitive.
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Cook County Sheriff's Dept Conducting Holiday Enforcement

Cook County Sheriff
The Cook County Sheriff's Department will be among a host of law enforcement agencies conducting enhanced enforcement efforts this Memorial Day weekend. Sheriff Tom Dart says deputies will be focusing on seat belt and DUI violators, and that officers will also be conducting extra patrols looking for all types of suspected violations. During the 2012 Memorial Day weekend, there were six fatalities, three of which were alcohol related, and almost 600 injuries on Illinois roadways, that according to provisional numbers from the Illinois Department of Transportation.
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LaPorte Man Victim of Telemarketing Scam

LaPorte PD
Police in LaPorte are reminding residents to never give out personal information over the phone or agree to send money in order to claim a prize after a 59 year old man reported being the victim of a telemarketing scam Thursday. Police say the man informed them that on Monday, a man who identified himself as “Walter Lopez” told the victim he was calling on behalf of Publisher's Clearing house, claiming the victim had won 250-thousand dollars and a new vehicle, but in order to claim the prize, he had to obtain a PayPal card in the amount of 350 dollars and call back with the card number as part of a service fee. The victim ended up doing this two more times to cover other so called “fees”, shelling out a total of 850 dollars before he called Publisher's Clearinghouse and learned no one from the business had contacted him and that they never ask prize winners to send money to claim winnings.
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Lowell Car-Hauler Fire

lowell car fire
[Photo courtesy Barbara Hiestand]
We're told Lowell fire crews were on scene about two hours after responding to a fire involving multiple cars on a semi car-hauler on State Road 2 just east of I-65 in Lowell around 7-o'clock this morning. Flames and thick black smoke could be seen at the scene. Lowell was assisted by Hebron Fire. There were no immediate reports of any injuries, and there is no word on what caused the fire at this time

Area Councils Comment on Scouts Decision

The Boy Scouts of America will no longer prohibit gay youths from participating. A vote on Thursday lifts the ban effective January of 2014. Gay adults remain barred from scout leadership.   The Boy Scouts of America councils of Chicagoland issued this statement regarding Thursday's decision:
Scouting's focus in Chicagoland remains to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. The information we have provided on this issue helped provide perspective to the process, and we respect the integrity of the national decision-making process. As leaders of Scouting in Chicagoland, we believe this update to our policy will allow all kids who sincerely want to be a part of Scouting to experience this life-changing program while remaining true to the long-standing virtues of Scouting. While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting.  We believe good people can disagree and still work together to accomplish great things for youth. Going forward, we will work to stay focused on that which unites us.

Multiple Safety Campaigns Over Holiday

Over the Memorial Day weekend,  Indiana State Police will be participating in “Operation CARE”, (Combined Accident Reduction Effort), and “SWDUIEP”, (Statewide Driving Under the Influence Project). Troopers will be specifically looking for drivers who speed, follow too closely, make unsafe lane changes, and fail to buckle up or to properly restrain children. Troopers will also be aggressively looking for impaired drivers.  Indiana State Police will also be participating in the “Click it or Ticket” enforcement campaign through June 2nd. The campaign will include not only the Indiana State Police, but more than 250 local law enforcement agencies throughout the state.
Additionally, troopers and motor carrier inspectors will work extra hours to ensure commercial motor vehicles are operating safely. Their efforts will concentrate on enforcing traffic, logbook, size, weight and mechanical violations as well as illegal interstate parking.


Cedar Lake Chief No Longer Interim

The Cedar Lake Town Council has removed “interim” from Police Chief Jerry Smith's title. Smith, a longtime Cedar Lake police officer and a former town councilman, had been serving as interim chief since former Chief Randall Majersky left the position last fall. Smith's appointment was unanimously approved recently by the town's police commission. Smith is a native of Cedar Lake, served in the Marine Corps, and joined the police force when he returned.


Dangerous Rip Currents Expected

The National Weather Service has issued a Beach Hazards statement for the Lake Michigan shoreline in the Region.  High waves and life-threatening rip currents are expected through this evening.  Meteorologists say strong north to northeast winds will gust to 30 to 35 mph this morning before diminishing into the afternoon. Waves of 6 to 9 ft with occasional larger waves are expected tol gradually subside through the evening. Officials say the winds and waves will create dangerous conditions at Lake Michigan beaches.
Officials say rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from shore...which occur most often at low spots or breaks in sandbars, and rip currents can sweep you out lakeward.
For updates and additional information from the National Weather Service:

School Bus Crash Investigation Continues

Investigators continue to look into a crash that injured more than fifty people, mostly middle and high school students, in northern Indiana this week. Officials say the chain-reaction crash involved four school buses near North Webster Wednesday. Most of the injuries were minor, but one of the bus drivers was flown to a Fort Wayne hospital.

Much Work Ahead to Merge 911

There's been a lot of debate on how to make it happen, but happen it must for Lake County to avoid losing millions in state grants for public safety, per a 2008 state law that mandates counties and municipal governments consolidate their E-911 services by the end of 2014. At a joint meeting of the 911 Commission, Lake County Commissioners and Lake County Council Thursday, the message was, it's got to be done, but there's still a lot to be done between now and then. In Lake County, that means the consolidation of seventeen E-911 networks.

Ban Lifted on Gay Boy Scouts

The 103-year-old Boy Scouts of America Thursday voted to lift the ban on gay youth. A ban on gay adult leaders remains. The President of the Calumet Council, which represents hundreds of troops in the Region, tells the Times today that members agreed with the vote. The vote came after a decade of debate within the Boy Scouts, 14-hundred members of the national council voting to end the ban.

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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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