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Tests Show Food Additive Was in Lake

The National Park Service has lifted the swimming advisory for all beach areas at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore that was in place following an oily looking substance that was sticking to swimmers Monday afternoon at Porter Beach. Officials say water samples ruled out an oil spill and further laboratory analysis indicated the presence of a food additive, tricalcium orthophosphate, an anti-caking agent. The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore also says an increased amount of natural products, including algae and mica particles, were also found to be in the water. Lab tests conducted by both the U-S Geological Survey and Indiana Department of Environmental Management determined that the substances found in the water did not pose a health threat to swimmers. The United States Coast Guard used a helicopter and estimated it to be approximately 1/8 of a mile in length and being moved by lake currents to the east from Porter Beach towards the Indiana Dunes State Park and the eastern portions of the National Lakeshore.

Three Parachute Off Trump Tower

Three people reportedly parachuted from the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago overnight. Chicago Police say officials started getting 911 calls after midnight this morning from people who say they saw the three jump from the 92-story building along the Chicago River. It's the second-tallest building in the city, behind Willis Tower, formerly Sears Tower. At last word, the three hadn't been located.

Five Recent Arrests for Ridge Task Force

Officials in Griffith say a new task force made up of officers from the Ridge area made five arrests in just the past few days, three of them reportedly drug-related. Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance says Griffith, Munster and Highland are sharing a Violence Reduction Grant that's going toward the initiative. Chief Mance told us during a recent Region Newsmakers interview that partnerships like these are great for the community and the police force.  To hear more of our interview, visit Region Newsmakers here at our website.

Moving Forward on Trauma Center Study

Local officials are at the very beginning of a process that will eventually lead a feasibility study of a trauma center in the Region, a directive spelled out in the so-called “Gary bill”, Senate Bill 585 passed by the Indiana General Assembly this session. Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority President/CEO Bill Hanna says the RDA is responsible, per the legislation, to deliver that study.  "So we're at the point right now where we're trying to get a stakeholder group developed," Hanna said. " We want to be very thoughtful about that and make sure we have the right balance that represents the two-county area."  Hanna said that group's function will be as a steering committee to guide whatever team is selected  to do the actual study.  Hanna also says they want to make sure those involved understand that the Region is a unique market, that the impact of Chicago has to be considered as well as how to finance such a center. You can hear more at News Audio on Demand here at our website.

Defense Wants Charges Dropped

A judge in Lake County is being asked by the defense to dismiss charges against the mother of a two-year-old Portage girl whose body was found in concrete in a swampy area of LaPorte County four years ago. Trial is scheduled to begin Monday for Melissa Swiontek, who's been charged with two counts of neglect of a dependent. Published reports say the case revolves around whether the woman knowingly placed Jada Justice in a dangerous situation leaving the girl in the care of her cousin and her cousin's boyfriend with knowledge the couple used and dealt drugs. Engelica Castillo was found guilty of murder and Timothy Tkachik pleaded guilty to neglect in the child's death.  A ruling from Lake Criminal Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak Jr is expected by this afternoon.

Woman Arrested for Machete Attack Last Week in Gary

A 28 year old Merrillville woman has been charged after attacking a 30 year old Crown Point woman with a machete in Gary last week. Authorities report Endia Rivera was arrested Tuesday night and charged Wednesday with attempted murder, aggravated battery, and two other felonies for the June 11th assault of Angela Carrier in 45-hundred block of Georgia Street. Court documents state the victim suffered injuries to her arm, neck, back, hands, and shoulder, resulting in the permanent loss of the use of her right shoulder, and may have to have her left index finger amputated.
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LaPorte Woman Assaults Officers After Arrest for Battery

Kristina Yacconi
(Photo Courtesy of the LaPorte PD)
A 34 year old LaPorte woman was arrested Tuesday night for assaulting a woman and the woman's ten-year old daughter, and then assaulting a two police officers while being processed. LaPorte Police report the victim informed them that she, along with another person, were playing cards at a home in the 300 block of State Street, when Kristina Yacconi, of LaPorte, came home and appearing intoxicated, allegedly proceeded to assault the victim and her daughter. Police called out to the scene just after 11:30pm and located the suspect minutes later at a neighboring residence where she was initially taken into custody on battery charges. Police say while processing Yacconi, she allegedly became combative, and assaulted a LaPorte Police Officer and a LaPorte County Jail Officer, and was additionally charged with felony battery to a law enforcement officer.
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CP Man Gets 4 Yrs for OWI Crash that Killed his Passenger

A Crown Point man was sentenced to four years in prison for the death of his passenger in a July, 2011, crash. The Lake County Prosecutor's Office reports Nicholas Stockman was charged with felony operating while intoxicated causing death after his vehicle left the roadway while heading north on I-65, just north of the U-S 30 exit, and struck a light pole, causing both Stockman and his passenger, Desmond Ramos to be ejected. Ramos was pronounced dead at the scene, and authorities reported neither man was wearing their seat belt at the time of the crash.
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Gary Man Sentenced to 19 1/2 Years for House Burning

A Gary man today received 19 and a half years in prison during sentencing for arson, battery, and stalking. The Lake County Prosecutor's Office reports James Gardner III was convicted of arson for damaging the residence of Kaneka Turner in December of 2008. Gardner was also found guilty of battery and stalking against Turner, as well as several other crimes, including harassment and criminal mischief.
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Substance in Water Posed No Threat to Swimmers

A swimming advisory has been lifted for all beach areas at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Officials report lab tests conducted by both the US Geological Survey and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management determined that the substances found in water did not pose a health threat to swimmers. Park rangers were dispatched to the Porter Beach area Monday afternoon after visitors reported an unidentified substance sticking to swimmers. A US Coast Guard helicopter observed the extent of the material and estimated it to be approximately one-eighth of a mile long. Water samples taken ruled out an oil spill and further analysis indicated the presence of Tricalcium Orthophoshate. The US Coast Guard continues to investigate and a report is expected within a week.
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All Lanes WB on the Borman (I-80/94) Running Slow

WB 80-94 at Calumet crash  06-19-13
Traffic westbound on I-80/94 is backing up just past Kennedy Avenue due to a crash on the outside shoulder near Calumet Avenue, which has the right lane closed between Indianapolis blvd. and Calumet.  Rescue crews are on the scene, be alert to slowdowns in the westbound lanes.
(photo from INDOT)

19 Year Old Charged with April Burglary in Michigan City

McFaddenAndre 05-15-13

(Photo Courtesy of the Michigan City PD)

A 19 year old already in the LaPorte County Jail on unrelated charges, was served a warrant on Friday for one-count of felony burglary for an incident on April 1st, in Michigan City. Michigan City Police today announced that after a lengthy investigation probable cause was found for Andre McFadden who is accused of gaining unlawful entry to the B-P Gas Station in the 700 block of State Road 212, where tobacco items were reportedly taken.

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Woman Allegedly Assaulted in LaPorte

LaPorte PD
Police in LaPorte are investigating an alleged assault of a 24 year old woman Tuesday night. Authorities report the LaPorte woman informed police she was attacked from behind while walking south in the one-hundred block of Fox Street, near Family Express. The woman reported seeing a man standing at the west side of the store just after 10pm, and after realizing the store was closed, became nervous, so she began walking south and that is when she reports being strangled until she passed out by an unknown man. Police report the woman had fresh scrapes to her knees, ankles, and feet, a cut on her hand, redness on both sides of her neck, and refused medical treatment. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact LaPorte Police at (219) 362-9446 or ...


Gary Mayor Responds to Animal Control Closure Petition

City of Gary
Recently, a petition was launched on suggesting that the City of Gary’s Animal Control facility and services be transferred to Lake County Animal Control (LCAC). In light of the claims raised by concerned citizens, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson issued the following statement:
“We are certainly aware of the concerns that have been expressed regarding the city’s Animal Control facility, and the staff has been working with rescue groups and committed volunteers to improve the environment for the animals that occupy the building. The current Animal Control staff is fully trained with proper certifications to handle animals and operate the facility. However, the outdated structure presents challenges as they seek to give these animals the care they need and deserve.
There is a need for a new or renovated facility that can accommodate the quarantine of infected animals. Because current budget restraints don’t allow for the construction or renovation of a facility using city dollars, we are exploring other ways to accomplish this goal. Most recently, representatives from the Bissell Pet Foundation in partnership with Animal Rescue Corps (ARC) have come forward to offer their assistance.
From July 8-12, 2013 ARC President Scotlund Haisley will visit our Animal Control facility to conduct a needs assessment at no cost. He and his team will assess all elements of Gary’s Animal Control field and shelter operations, identify any deficiencies, make recommendations on cutting costs while maximizing efficiency and effectiveness, and suggest ways to expand and improve service. Areas to be assessed include but are not limited to budget, facility, staff, training, database system, customer service, emergency plan, animal handling, animal enrichment, behavior assessments, veterinary care, housing quality, intake protocol, euthanasia criteria and protocol, adoption program and policies, community outreach, shelter and rescue partnerships, food program, volunteer program, foster program, etc.
The above assessment is only the beginning. Once ARC reps report their findings, which will take approximately 3 weeks, recommendations can then be made to the Bissell Pet Foundation on how they can help with the implementation of these findings. It is our hope that this partnership will lead to the building of a new facility or complete renovation of the current or an alternate building in the city.
Our Animal Control division is an enforcement agency that serves the residents of Gary. While there have been suggestions in the past to move the services to Lake County, we have been advised that LCAC cannot handle the volume of animals that Gary Animal Control impounds on a daily basis.
Currently, our Animal Control team is developing a contingency plan that will outline the immediate next steps for addressing the housing situation for these animals, and these measures will be shared publicly by July 1. Our first priority is to provide a safe and sanitary location for these animals to dwell until rescued. Ideally, we want to keep these vital services here in our community. A city of Gary’s size and population deserves it.
Finally, I would like to thank the citizens of Gary and surrounding communities for their outpour of concern, and ask that they continue to volunteer and support the Animal Control Department as we work through these challenges.”
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IN Republican State Chair Holcomb to Step Down on 7/9

INDIANAPOLIS (June 19, 2013) - Indiana Republican Party State Chairman Eric Holcomb issued the following statement regarding upcoming leadership changes at The Indiana Republican Party:

"At today's State Committee meeting I announced a series of upcoming leadership changes at The Indiana Republican Party.  While there is never a perfect time for these types of transitions, I believe this year, being an off-election year, is the best time.  In addition, and most importantly, these changes will give Governor Mike Pence a wonderful opportunity to charge forward and write our Party's next chapter of success. 

"My final day as State Chairman will be July 9, 2013.

"For quite some time now I have been contemplating the next steps in my professional career. With the support of Governor Mike Pence and the confidence that our State Party's debts are paid off, we have surpassed our recent fundraising goals, our staff is smaller and more efficient than ever and we've already completed our biggest technological upgrade in a decade, made now the right time.

"I've had the honor and rare opportunity to serve alongside the leadership of two Republican governors, legislative leaders second to none, the best Congressional delegation in the country and local leaders in all 92 counties in the state.  This service ranks as one of the best experiences of my life. I have enjoyed giving it my all and yet always realized I received so much more out of the endeavor than I ever invested in it.

"An announcement regarding my next assignment will come sooner rather than later."

In addition, Holcomb announced that Executive Director Justin Garrett will be moving on to the private sector effective tomorrow, June 20.

"On a Mitch Daniels for Governor campaign, in the Governor's office and as a member of our Indiana Republican Party staff, Justin has been an indispensible leader, colleague and friend.  Our gains in the past few years are in large part because of his dedication to the cause," Holcomb said.

Former Lt. Governor Becky Skillman will also step down from her role as National Committeewoman following our Summer Dinner on July 9th.

Under State Party rules, Vice Chair Sandi Huddleston, in her capacity as Acting Chairman upon Holcomb's resignation, will be charged with conducting the election for a new State Chair.  Vice Chair Huddleston will also step down at that time herself.

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Swimming Advisory Lifted at Indiana Dunes State Park

Officials report the waters of Indiana Dunes State Park are now open again. Those waters had been under a swimming advisory after officials were alerted by beach-goers who reported children coming out of the lake with what they described as a 'sticky substance' on them Monday afternoon. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management, and US Geological Survey both took samples Monday, and expect a report on their findings within a week. IDEM Spokesman Dan Goldblatt says the Coast Guard continues to investigate, but the substance, whatever it is, is not believed to have come from the shore or any stacks, and are also investigating the possibility if this incident is related to a glittery substance reported on vehicles and outdoor furniture in the 15-hundred block of Brown Avenue in Robertsdale earlier this month.
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Sentors Donnelly and Collins: 40 Hours is Full-Time

Washington, D.C. — Today, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) took a two-pronged approach to addressing what is an increasing problem around the country: employers needing a better definition of and clarity on “full-time employee” under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).   
Collins said, “The new health care law creates a perverse incentive for businesses to cut their employees’ hours so they are no longer considered ‘full time.’  If its definition of a full-time worker as someone who works only 30 hours a week is allowed to go into effect, millions of American workers could find their hours, and their earnings, reduced.  This simply doesn’t make sense.”
Donnelly said, “Most Hoosiers I know think forty hours is full time.  We need to change the definition of a ‘full-time employee’ in the Affordable Care Act to bring it in line with what most Americans have traditionally recognized as full time.  We also need to provide clarity to employers so they have the information they need to run their businesses and plan for the future.  Many employers have to make decisions because of this definition, and some have chosen to cut current part-time employees’ hours.  This leaves too many Indiana families struggling to make ends meet.  I’m pleased to join my friend, Senator Collins, in introducing both a legislative and administrative approach to addressing this problem.  These are straightforward, common sense improvements that would benefit both employers and employees.”
Beginning in 2014, employers with more than 50 full-time employees will be required to provide employees with a basic level of health insurance or potentially face a penalty.  Under the ACA, a full-time employee is defined as an individual who works an average of at least 30 hours per week.  This is inconsistent with what most Americans, think: full-time is a 40 hour work week.  Further, there is significant confusion among employers who are struggling to understand and comply with the new requirements. 
Offering a legislative approach to solving this issue, Senators Collins and Donnelly introduced the Forty Hours is Full Time Act of 2013, which would change the definition of “full time” in the ACA to 40 hours per week and the number of hours counted toward a “full-time equivalent” employee to 174 hours per month. 
As they work together on a bipartisan legislative solution to develop clear, workable guidelines necessary for American businesses and workers, Senators Collins and Donnelly simultaneously urged President Obama to provide transition relief for employers.  They co-authored a letter to the President strongly urging his Administration to work with the employer community to provide transition flexibility beyond January 1, 2014, free from the threat of penalty.
To read the full text of Sens. Collins and Donnelly’s letter to President Obama, click here.
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Ind School Supt Wants to Help Guidance Counselors

Indiana State School Superintendent Glenda Ritz says she wants to enhance school counseling. Speaking to an audience of school counselors this week, Ritz introduced the idea of having thirteen Department of Education Outreach Coordinators in nine regions across the state work with counselors on how to better help students better succeed after high school. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, Indiana's student to counselor ratio is eighth worst in the nation, at 539-to-one. The Indiana Youth Institute has brought experts to Indy yesterday and today for a Postsecondary Counseling Institute. The institute said 90-percent of counselors responding to a survey of theirs said they didn't know all the information needed to help students succeed


More Work Ahead on 133rd in Cedar Lake

In Cedar Lake, a public hearing is coming up next month as town officials prepare for additional work along 133rd Avenue. Town Manager Ian Nicolini says financing essentially will cover two different projects.  "The second phase of 133rd Avenue," Nicolini said, "which is on the west side, will pay for the water main extension of that project.  The remainder of the project is paid for with federal funds.  On the east side of 133rd Avenue, we're paying for a reconstruction locally with TIF dollars as part of this financing."   For more about the project visit News Audio on Demand. Nicolini said the public hearing is July 8.

Graduation Cat Caps IU Grad's Cake

grad cat cap WinCE
A graduation cat capped this IU grad's cake...22-year-old Laura Gambrel of Zionsville graduated from Indiana University last month.... and her mom ordered her a cake that featured a photo of her photo in the icing, and she requested that a cap be drawn on the top of picture. Someone, however, apparently accidentally wrote down “cat”, and that's what drawn in icing on top of Laura's head. The mom says they all got a good laugh out of it – including the bake staff – and she asked them not to scrape it off.
[Photo/ABC News Blogs/courtesy Laura Gambrel]

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