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Governor Pence Designates June 1st Trails Day

Indiana DNR
June 1 is Trails Day in Indiana, as designated by Gov. Mike Pence, so it's time to hit the trail on Saturday.
Each year Indiana joins states across the country in marking National Trails Day as a time to recognize the United States’ trails system and its countless supporters and volunteers. Saturday marks the 21st anniversary of National Trails Day.
Hoosiers can experience the great outdoors on a trail, not just this Saturday, but any other day of the year.
"Indiana's trails are natural treasures," said Dale Brier of the DNR Division of Outdoor Recreation. "They provide numerous recreational opportunities, bringing together family and friends, enhancing quality of life, and boosting tourism."
To celebrate Trails Day, O’Bannon Woods and Turkey Run state parks, and Brookville Lake and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are hosting trail cleanup and maintenance activities. 
Several other local trail organizations will host events in communities throughout the state.
For more information about trails and Trails Day opportunities, go to the DNR Division of Outdoor Recreation website at
"Every year more trails and opportunities are available to outdoor enthusiasts," Brier said. "With the Hoosiers on the Move program, Indiana State Trails and Greenways & Bikeways ambitious plan, every Hoosier will be within 5 miles of a trail by 2016."
The DNR Division of State Parks & Reservoirs offers 700 miles of hiking, biking and horse trails. For a list of favorite hikes at state parks and reservoirs by DNR staff, see For information about guided walks with interpretive naturalists on trails throughout the year, visit
The DNR Division of Forestry offers 425 miles of trails in Indiana’s state forests. See
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Nature Trust Announces Completion of LaPorte Co Project

The LaPorte County Parks Foundation has completed the purchase of a 15-acre addition to Luhr County Park with funding assistance from the Bicentennial Nature Trust (BNT). The Unity Foundation of LaPorte County contributed additional funding to help make the purchase. 
The new property features oak- and hickory-forested wetlands and an area targeted for prairie restoration. The LaPorte County Parks Department will own and manage the property, while the DNR holds a conservation easement ensuring public access and permanent protection.
“The Bicentennial Nature Trust helped us leverage private dollars to make this addition become a reality,” said Timothy Morgan, superintendent of LaPorte County Parks. “Without the BNT, this acquisition would not have been possible.”
The BNT is a project of the Bicentennial Commission, co-chaired by former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton. The statewide program is aimed at expanding trails, conservation areas and recreation sites to help celebrate Indiana’s 200 years of statehood in 2016. The state park system was created during Indiana’s centennial celebration in 1916, and BNT projects will provide a similar legacy for generations of Hoosiers.
An initial $20 million in state funding was identified for BNT projects, and the Lilly Endowment donated another $10 million to the effort. Money from the fund is matched no less than $1:1 with the local community or group sponsor. To date, the Bicentennial Commission has approved 35 projects, including three in LaPorte County.
“We applaud the LaPorte County Parks Foundation for its effort to further the 2016 Bicentennial Commission’s commitment to nature conservation in Indiana,” said Skillman and Hamilton. “We look forward to hearing and celebrating many more success stories for the Bicentennial Nature Trust in the months and years to come.”
LaPorte County Parks preserve and manage natural, cultural, and recreational resources within a seven-park system totaling more than 600 acres. Located on 89 acres just south of LaPorte, Luhr Park features upland forest, wetland, prairie, paved trails and a stocked pond. For more information, visit

The BNT is seeking additional private donations of land and money as well as input from communities on viable projects. Applications for the Nature Trust can be found at
For more information on the Bicentennial Commission, visit

Uncle Len Ellis Alumnus of the Year

Uncle Len Ellis Alumnus of the Year
Len Ellis speaking to new graduates and families among 2500 students receiving degrees on May 18-19 at Columbia College Chicago. Photo/Robert Kusel.
The founder of Radio One Communications was the recipient of a very distinguished honor from his alma mater. Country Music DJ Hall-of-Famer, charter member of the Country Music Association, and radio and country music industry entrepreneur Leonard “Uncle Len” Ellis was named an Alumnus of the Year for 2013 by Columbia College Chicago.
Uncle Len Ellis Alumnus of the Year
Len Ellis accepting his award from Columbia College Chicago national alumni president Joan Hammel. Photo/Robert Kusel.
On May 18 and 19, Columbia College Chicago  honored Leonard Ellis (BA ’52) among its alumni of the year during the college’s commencement ceremonies. The university says 'Uncle Len' was among "three outstanding alumni, whose work and dedication to their craft is a tribute to the Columbia College spirit and ideal, were lauded during the graduation ceremonies as part of its annual tradition."
Uncle Len Ellis Alumnus of the Year
Columbia College Chicago President Warrick L. Carter, Len Ellis and Joan Hammel. Photo/Robert Kusel.
“Uncle Len” Ellis is the founder of Radio One Communications, which holds four stations in Northwest Indiana, playing oldies (1500 WAKE-AM, classic rock (103.9 WXRD-FM),  modern adult contemporary (107.1 WZVNFM) and country (105.5 WLJE-FM ). Ellis is the longest-running country broadcaster in the Chicago media market and WLJE-FM is the longest-running country station in the Chicago area. The university also noted the other three stations also boast a string of awards from the Indiana Broadcasters Association.  November 2012 marked Ellis’s 48th year on-air with WAKE-AM, and he has spent more than 65 years in the radio industry overall.
Ellis was one of the 15 people in 1957 that co-founded the Country Music Association (CMA) to promote the genre’s growth and served on its first board of directors. Ellis also holds card number one as a charter member of the CMA. He was named “Mr. Dee Jay USA” in 1963 by the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Association’s Small Market Disc Jockey of the Year in 1978, and he was elected to the Country Broadcasters Association DJ Hall of Fame in 1983.
Uncle Len Ellis Alumnus of the Year
Columbia College Chicago Alumnus of the Year Len Ellis and VP of Institutional Advancement Eric Winston. Photo/Robert Kusel.
Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts to nearly 11,000 students in 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit .

Dr. Eric Winston, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, delivered news of the award to Uncle Len in person a few months ago. You can hear our conversation with Dr. Winston online at News Audio on Demand here at our website. 

East St Closure for Resurfacing

A traffic advisory for Crown Point motorists today (Friday May 31 2013): Walsh and Kelly crews will have East Street in Crown Point shut down from North Street to US 231 from about 11:30 am to 4 or 5 pm for resurfacing.

State Investigates Breast Cancer Awareness Apparel

A Colorado-based company accused of selling apparel and accessories to help fight breast cancer while allegedly giving a “minimal amount” to charity is the subject of a state investigation.   In February, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller issued a request for the company’s records but Zoeller says he got no response, so his office filed a petition in Marion County Thursday asking the court to make the company comply.  Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office filed a similar action yesterday to ask the court to enforce their demand for information.
Here is the news release from Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller:
INDIANAPOLIS – A for-profit company accused of selling merchandise to help fight breast cancer while giving a “minimal amount” to charity is the subject of a state investigation.
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office is investigating a Colorado-based business, Boobies Rock! Inc., and its owner Adam Shryock, for selling apparel and accessories which featured sayings like, “Boobies Rock! For Breast Cancer Awareness,” to Indiana consumers since October 2012.
In February, the Attorney General’s office issued a request for the company’s records in order to determine if it was misleading Indiana consumers into believing they were donating to charity. Attorney General Greg Zoeller said since the company did not respond to the requests, his office filed a petition in Marion County today asking the court to compel the company to turn over its records.
“People in Indiana were led to believe the payments for breast cancer awareness merchandise were going to help a charitable cause,” Zoeller said. “As part of our ongoing investigation, it’s important to determine – through the company’s records – whether or not it was misusing a worthwhile cause to grow its profits.”
According to the petition, the state believes the business could be in violation of the Deceptive Consumer Sales Act by “…misrepresenting that Boobies Rock!, Inc. merchandise was sold to raise money for a charitable cause, when in fact Boobies Rock!, Inc. is a for profit corporation and gives a minimal amount of money to charitable causes.” The company sold its merchandise to tailgaters before large sporting events and at bars.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office also filed a similar action today in Illinois to ask the court to enforce their demand for information.
According to the company’s website, the business is “a clothing and accessories brand that creates funny, fashionable and colorful t-shirts to promote awareness for breast cancer and donate portions of our sales throughout the country to various non-profit organizations.”
Anyone who feels they have been ripped off can file a complaint with the Indiana Attorney General’s office by visiting or requesting a complaint form be mailed to you by calling 1.800.382.5516. For tips of charitable giving or for information on how to find legitimate charities visit .

Garage Fire in Highland

In Highland, fire officials report no injuries in a garage fire at 80th and Sycamore around 11:30 last night (Thursday night). That location's not too far from the interchange of Interstate 80/94 and Kennedy Avenue, where one person reported lots of black smoke could be seen in the area. We're told the fire was contained to the garage.

IU Building Demolition Included in Drill

Some Indiana University buildings in Bloomington are coming down next week, and their demolition has become part of a training exercise. The structures will serve as a stage for "United Front II," a full-scale search and rescue exercise.   Indiana University will assist training and response activities of the Indiana National Guard and other local, state and federal partners participating in United Front II, a multivenue search and rescue operation exercise in Bloomington, June 10 to 13.
IU invited the National Guard to the Bloomington campus for the exercise, providing access to two demolished buildings along with various other services and facilities, including support from IU Emergency Management and Continuity. An off-campus building to be demolished will also be part of the exercise scenario, which is based upon an EF5 tornado like the one that hit Moore, Okla., this month, or the 2011 twister that hit Joplin, Mo. Both tornadoes carried winds over 200 mph.
Before the buildings are demolished, mannequins will be placed inside. Once the buildings are collapsed and the exercise begins, search and rescue teams will enter the wreckage to locate and extract the "victims," moving debris and rubble or cutting through materials blocking their passage.
The three buildings to be used for the exercise, along with dates for demolition and contractors handling the work, are:

  • The old Phi Kappa Psi house, 1200 N. Jordan Ave., beginning June 5; Jeffrey J. Morone, Kort Builders Inc., Indianapolis.
  • The old U.S. Post Office, now owned by First United Methodist Church in Bloomington, at Fourth and Washington streets, beginning June 5; Jeff Ellington, Phoenix Demolition, Bloomington.
  • The former IU Wrubel Computing Center at 10th Street and the 45/46 Bypass, beginning June 7; Randy Denney, Denney Excavating, Indianapolis.
All three buildings were scheduled to go down over the summer, but the demolition dates were coordinated so that resulting rubble can be used for the search and rescue exercise.
Photo Credit: Indiana National Guard troops with 81st Troop Command's emergency response unit search and rescue team search for casualties during a training exercise at Camp Atterbury, Ind. Photo by Staff Sgt. Jeff Lowry.

LAUW Tops Fundraising Goal

The Lake Area United Way announced Thursday it raised $4,973,000 in its 2012-13 annual campaign, topping its $4.7 million goal.  Leaders of the community impact and fundraising organization said it was one of the most successful campaigns in recent years.  The results were announced by 2012 Campaign Chair Aaron McDermott, president of Latitude Commercial Real Estate, at a news conference Thursday afternoon at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond.  John Kennedy, director of business development, American Structurepoint, Inc, served as Campaign Co-Chair.  Both serve on Lake Area United Way’s Board of Trustees.
More than 300 companies ran workplace campaigns and over 7,500 individuals contributed to this year’s campaign.   “It has been inspiring for me to see so many people, companies and members of organized labor care for our community and give back,” said McDermott.  “This campaign was a success because so many chose to get involved and give what they could.” “The success of this year’s campaign means United Way and its 31 member agencies and regional initiatives will enhance our results-driven work in the important community priorities of education, income stability and health,” said McDermott.
For a complete list of Lake Area United Way’s 31 member agencies and regional initiatives, go to:

Merit Board Member Resigns

Lake County Sheriff John Buncich tells the Times today that a member of the Lake County Sheriff's Police Merit Board has resigned, following an arrest on misdemeanor charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Crown Point Saturday night. Sheriff Buncich says 39-year-old Douglas J. Strayer of Crown Point had been on the board for a year and a half. The panel oversees disciplinary matters of Lake County police officers.

25 Names Being Read at Doughboy Ceremony

Today is the final Friday of the month, the day of the Hobart Marine Corps League “Howlin' Mad Detachment Number 93” Doughboy ceremony – where the names of fallen soldiers are read out loud – 25 names will be read tonight. The public as always is invited to the service which starts at 5pm at the Hobart Doughboy statue, at 7th and Main.  Doughboy was a term used to describe U-S infantrymen of the American Expeditionary Force during World War One.

Maple City Grand Prix Begins

Northwest Indiana is hosting professional boat races this weekend. The inaugural Maple City Grand Prix in La Porte features three days of racing on Stone Lake, a 160-acre inland lake, starting today. Boats of the F1 PROP Tour are described as the world's fastest tunnel boats, reaching speeds of over 100 miles-per-hour as they switch directions, and handle left and right-hand turns.


Indiana Comic Con Coming in March

indiana comic con
Indiana is getting its own Comic Con. Florida-based Action3 Events, the promoters behind similar events in Tampa Bay, Orlando, and Nashville, are bringing a three-day convention featuring 150 booths of comic book exhibitors, magazines, toys, games, Star Wars, Star Trek and more to the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis March 14, 15 and 16, 2014 – more info at

Former Sheriff Wants Apology from Portage Mayor

The former sheriff of Lake County wants the current mayor of Portage to apologize. Published reports say Roy Dominguez, a board member of Everybody Counts, sent Mayor James Snyder a letter, saying it was "un-American" and "uncalled for" for the mayor to call Portage Police out to last week's NIRPC meeting, where members of the advocacy group for disability rights arrived carrying protest signs, which resulted in officers being called out to the scene. Snyder says he doesn't intend to respond to the letter, and issued a statement that, among other things, said the people of Portage have elected him to keep them safe and take preventative measures when necessary.

Lightning Sparks Schererville Fire

No reports of injuries in a fire in Schererville believed to have started from a lightning strike. Several area departments were on scene for hours Thursday, after fire crews got the call around 3 in the afternoon to a condominium building on West Joliet Street. Joliet from the junction to US 30 was closed off to traffic into the evening hours. The fire reportedly caused the water pipes to burst.

Charges in Merrillville Home Invasion

Police say a 20-year-old Hammond man is in custody in connection with a home invasion over the weekend in Merrillville in which five masked men are believed to have entered a home in the 74-hundred block of Bigger Street around 9-o'clock Sunday night. Reports say charges of armed robbery, burglary, burglary while armed with a deadly weapon, and criminal confinement have been filed, and the investigation continues. Authorities say the victims' credit and debit cards were allegedly used to withdraw cash, and jewelry and other personal items were stolen.

Chiefs Choose Iowa Official for 911

[Photo provided/Times/Quad-City Times]
Lake County police and fire chiefs are recommending a man with experience in E-911 consolidations elsewhere in the midwest to lead Lake County's efforts to make it happen by the end of next year. 50-year-old Brian Hitchcock, a Minnesota native, got the unanimous nod from law enforcement leaders to be the new E-911 director – their choice still has to be approved by county officials. He'll be facing the task of consolidating the E-911 services of seventeen city, town and county law enforcement agencies by the end of 2014 –as mandated by state law – to prevent the county from losing millions in public safety dollars from the state. The former director resigned three months ago.  Since 2008, Hitchcock has been working in Iowa as director for the Davenport Emergency Communications Center, where he helped guide consolidation of E-911 services for 30 public safety agencies in the Quad Cities area.

Foreclosure Sales Down

More good news for the housing market: Foreclosure sales have reached their lowest level in five years, down to about 21-percent during the first quarter of 2013, according to RealtyTrac. Earlier this week, we spoke to Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors CEO Peter Novak, Jr, about some recent numbers in the Region housing market... including 22 months of consecutive growth. But Novak says distressed sales, like foreclosures, impact the local median selling price... so even though foreclosures have fallen, from more than forty-percent of all home sales in the U-S four years ago, there's still a ways to go. Experts say foreclosures were averaging around five-percent of all sales around 2005, before the housing bubble burst. You can hear more of our conversation with Peter Novak Jr online at News Audio on Demand here at our website....

Ruth Heinold, 1919-2013

Funeral services are Saturday in LaCrosse for Ruth Heinold of Francesville, formerly of Kouts. Heinold served as a secretary for Heinold Elevator in both Kouts and at the Kingsbury Poultry Plant. Radio One Communications founder Uncle Len Ellis says Heinold was the very first advertiser on the air with him in 1964. Heinold, who passed away Tuesday, was also a longtime volunteer for the American Red Cross of Porter County. Her husband of 51 years preceded her in death in 1991. Ruth Heinold was 93.

Pence to Attend Council of Great Lakes Governors

Indiana's Governor and First Lady will be spending weekend in northern Michigan, not to enjoy the Wolverine State's majestic beauty, but to attend a leadership summit. Governor Mike Pence and his wife Karen will travel tomorrow to Mackinac Island for the 2013 Council of Great Lakes Governors. On Saturday morning, Governor Pence is scheduled speak on strengthening the Great Lakes region in the global economy and attend multiple sessions and roundtables relating to advancing regional priorities before heading back to the Hoosier state Sunday.
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Director of MC Animal Shelter Charged with Forgery and Theft

The Director of Shelter Operations at the Michiana Humane Society and SPCA is charged with felony forgery and theft for allegedly embezzling over 100-thousand dollars from the animal shelter that relies strictly on donations. According to court documents, 41 year old Jennifer Westphal is accused of writing and cashing checks from the shelter for various amounts between January 2007 through April of this year.
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