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Valpo School Evacuated as a Precaution

Valparaiso Police and Fire responded to a gas line break this morning that led to a precautionary evacuation at Ben Franklin Middle School.  Police say crews were dispatched at 9:45 to a strong smell of natural gas in the 500 block of Weston Street, directly behind the school.  Valparaiso City Utilities Director Steve Poulos says a city utility crew working on a water main leak in the 400 block of Weston struck a gas line during trenching operations.  Police say due to a strong smell of natural gas inside the school the students were evacuated and eventually bused to the Valparaiso High School fieldhouse as a precaution.   NIPSCO arrived on scene and stopped the leak. As of 11:15 a.m. the gas line had been repaired. School and fire department officials will be determining when the students will return to the school.  No injuries were reported.
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New Student Center for PNC

Construction is expected to begin next year on a new student services and activities complex at Purdue North Central in Westville. University officials say the new budget approved by the Indiana General Assembly includes a key provision that will allow for the issuance in 23-point-7 million dollars in bonds to help finance construction of the proposed 34-point-7-million-dollar facility. The remaining funding will be generated through student fees and gift donations to PNC. Along with meetings, conferences, and exhibits, P-N-C says commencement will also be held there. The May 2013 graduation ceremonies for PNC, for instance. will be at the Valparaiso University ARC. Athletic teams that now must hold practices and games off-campus will be housed in the new complex.
"We are thrilled the general assembly has allowed us to move forward," said PNC Chancellor Dr. James B. Dworkin. "This is a significant step for PNC as we continue our mission to serve the educational, athletic and social needs of the residents of Northwest Indiana. This is a game changer which will enable us to continue to improve our retention and graduation rates."
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Gas Line Hit in Valpo

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Valparaiso City Utilities Director Steve Poulos says city utilities field crews were working on a water main leak in the 400 block of Weston Street, where the crews initiated a trench within the street to replace the line, and during the trenching a NIPSCO gas line was hit.  Valparaiso Police and Fire crews are on scene and per his communications with field crews, Benjamin Franklin Middle School has been evacuated to the high school field house as a safety precaution. NIPSCO has been called to respond to the leak so it may be repaired.  Assistant Distribution Manager Mark Geskey is on site with City Utilities staff.
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IUN Officer Injured in Crash

An 22-year-old Indiana University Northwest officer responding to a police pursuit was among two people injured in a two-vehicle crash near Ridge Road and Van Buren Street in Gary. Gary Police Corporal Gabrielle King says a Gary officer and another IUN officer were in the area of 43rd and Washington Monday afternoon when they noticed an SUV drive by with a passenger not wearing a seat belt, then recognized that person as someone who was being sought by authorities.  "In the meantime," Corporal King says, "while they were chasing that car, another Indiana University officer was on his way to assist them, and he was involved in a crash."  Corporal King says it's her understanding that injuries sustained by that officer and the other person in the crash are not life-threatening.   Police say the suspect being pursued was taken into custody about a half-hour later on warrants out of Lake and Jasper Counties.
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Two Killed, Two Hurt in Crash

Gary Police continue to investigate a crash that left two dead and two others hospitalized. The Lake County Coroners office says ten-year-old Symone Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene in the 700 block of West 4th Avenue around 4:30 Sunday afternoon, and the driver, 53-year-old Charles Thomas died at Gary Methodist Northlake. Gary Police say at approximately 3:48 pm a Ford Econoline van was traveling westbound on West 4th Avenue when for unknown reasons it left the roadway, struck a fire hydrant and came to rest in a house. Gary Police Corporal Gabrielle King says a 32-year-old woman and six-year-old boy were taken to the hospital, and the boy was later transported to Chicago. Police say the girl who died was the woman's daughter. Corporal King says there was no indication anyone was inside the house, which she said appeared to be vacant.
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Prescribed Fire Near West Beach

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Fire crews from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will be burning approximately 100 acres of land near West Beach today.
Prescribed Fire Near West Beach
Fire officials with the National Lakeshore say as long as weather conditions remain good, crews will be burning the parcel of land along County Line Road, north of US 12 to improve animal and plant habitats.
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Coast Guard Cutter Restores BH Buoys

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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Stephen Elliott
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, a 240-foot icebreaker homeported in Cheboygan, Michigan, is doing some work in the northwest Indiana waters of Lake Michigan. On Monday, as shown in the photo above, they repositioned shoal buoys off the entrance to Burns Harbor, to better mark a shoal created by Hurricane Sandy that covered much of the entrance to the commercial port. The other day the crew also commissioned the Southern Lake Michigan NOAA weather buoy.  The crew of the Mackinaw is conducting buoy operations along western Lake Michigan as part of Operation Spring Restore.
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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Dave Lieberman
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, a 240-foot icebreaker homeported in Cheboygan, Mich., prepares to commission the Southern Lake Michigan NOAA buoy, April 26, 2013.
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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Jason Ashley
The Southern Lake Michigan NOAA buoy is lowered down to the water by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, a 240-foot icebreaker homeported in Cheboygan, Mich., April 26, 2013.
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U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Dave Lieberman
The Southern Lake Michigan NOAA buoy floats free after being set and anchored by the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, a 240-foot icebreaker homeported in Cheboygan, Mich., April 26, 2013.
The crew of the Mackinaw is conducting buoy operations along western Lake Michigan as part of Operation Spring Restore.
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Two Killed in Crash

A man and a child are dead after a motor-vehicle accident in Gary. There's no indication at this time what caused their vehicle to crash. The Lake County Coroners office says ten-year-old Symone Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene in the 700 block of West 4th Avenue around 4:30 Sunday afternoon, and 53-year-old Charles Thomas died at Gary Methodist Northlake.  Gary Police are investigating.
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Chesterton Gas Station Robbed

Police in Chesterton continue to investigate a robbery at the Speedway Gas Station in the 700 block of Indian Boundary Road. Officials say a man who first bought a candy bar came back about 15-minutes later and demanded money from the register around 3:15 am last Thursday, threatening the clerk with physical violence. He reportedly left on foot, and a Porter County Sheriffs Department K-9 unit assisted in a search, but he wasn't located.
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Man Robbed at Gunpoint

In Gary, police are investigating the report of a 61-year-old man being robbed at gunpoint outside his home in the 39-hundred block of Broadway. Authorities say around 10:30 Friday night, six men, one of them armed with a gun, reportedly approached the victim, demanded his car keys, and stole his 2013 Hyundai Accent. Anyone with information is asked to call Gary Police Detective Lorenzo Davis.
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New Fee Ahead?

Indiana motorists who traverse the state line with their E-Z Pass transponders may soon be paying a little extra when they get to Illinois toll plazas. Drivers with the Illinois I-Pass pay a three-cent transaction fee on the Skyway and Indiana Toll Road, which are both operated by the same company. E-Z Pass customers, however, pay no additional fee on the Illinois Tollway, and officials tell the Chicago Tribune they're evaluating their policy in the spirit of fairness. The E-Z Pass system replaced I-Zoom in Indiana last year.
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Hammond Schedules Chicago St Meeting

The City of Hammond will hold a Public Meeting on Tuesday, May 7, 2013. featuring a couple of presentations.........first at City Hall, then a second one that evening at Washington Irving Middle School to discuss a proposed project to reconstruct and widen Chicago Street from South Brainard Avenue, on the Indiana border with Illinois, to White Oak Avenue, at the eastern limits of the City of Hammond. The entire length of the proposed project is approximately 2.1 miles.
The proposed project will include improvements to the existing roadway, including new pavement, curb and gutter, sidewalks, storm sewers, roadway lighting, and new traffic signals.
Here's more info from the city:
The City of Hammond will hold a Public Meeting on Tuesday, May 7, 2013. Two presentations will be offered. The first presentation will be held at City Hall, 5925 Calumet Avenue, Hammond, Indiana 46320, with a formal presentation at 12:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. The second presentation will be in the auditorium of Washington Irving Middle School located 4727 Pine Avenue, Hammond, Indiana 46327 with a formal presentation at 6:00 p.m. An open house will follow each of the presentations. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the project purpose and need, alternatives being investigated, and afford an opportunity for public participation and allow discussion of any views and comments the public may have in relation to the proposed project. Concept plans of the proposed project will be on display for public review. City of Hammond and design consultants will be available during the meeting to discuss the project.
The City of Hammond, Indiana, is developing a federal-aid project to reconstruct and widen Chicago Street (formerly known as State Route (SR) 312) through Hammond from South Brainard Avenue, on the Indiana border with Illinois, to White Oak Avenue, at the eastern limits of the City of Hammond. The entire length of the proposed project is approximately 2.1 miles. Former SR 312 coincides with three separate streets as it traverses the project study area, including Gostlin Street, Sheffield Avenue, and Chicago Street. The project limits, from west to east, begin at the intersection of Gostlin Street and South Brainard Avenue and continue east along Gostlin Street to the intersection of Gostlin Street and Sheffield Avenue, where the project study area continues south along Sheffield Avenue to the intersection of Sheffield Avenue and Chicago Street. At this intersection, the project study area turns east along Chicago Street to the study area’s eastern terminus at the intersection of Chicago Street and White Oak Avenue.
The western end of the proposed project corridor is currently a two-lane roadway. Travelling east along the corridor, the roadway remains two lanes until the intersection of Gostlin Street and Sheffield Avenue, where a left-turn lane is provided for both eastbound and westbound traffic. Turning south, Sheffield Avenue is a two-lane facility. No left-turn lane is provided at the intersection of Sheffield Avenue and Chicago Street. Turning east onto Chicago Street from Sheffield Avenue, Chicago Street is a two-lane facility with striped on-street parking along both sides of the roadway up to its intersection with Calumet Avenue, where both left- and right-turn lanes are provided for eastbound and westbound traffic. East of Calumet Avenue, Chicago Street becomes a four-lane roadway with two eastbound and two westbound travel lanes and striped on-street parking along both sides of the roadway through to the end of the project study area. Left-turn lanes are provided for both eastbound and westbound traffic at the intersection of Chicago Street and Columbia Avenue.
The proposed project will include improvements to the existing roadway, including new pavement, curb and gutter, sidewalks, storm sewers, roadway lighting, and new traffic signals. Several alternatives are currently being evaluated. The current proposed project includes realignment of Gostlin Street between the Indiana/Illinois state line and Sheffield Avenue, leaving the current alignment of Gostlin Street as a local access road between Clark Avenue and Wabash Avenue. The intersection of Sheffield Avenue and Gostlin Street will be shifted to the southwest and become a roundabout. Sheffield Avenue will be slightly realigned, and the intersection of Sheffield Avenue and Chicago Street will be realigned to eliminate the 90 degree turn. The intersection of Hohman Avenue and Chicago Street will also become a roundabout. Additionally, Chicago Street between Hohman Avenue and Torrence Avenue will be widened to accommodate these improvements. Intersection improvements are also proposed at Johnson Avenue, Pine Avenue, and Columbia Avenue.
This project is being proposed to improve safety, reduce congestion, repair deteriorated infrastructure, and maintain the east-west travel corridor for truck traffic. It is anticipated that new permanent right-of-way will be acquired from residential, commercial, park, and industrial properties.
The proposed project is anticipated to be constructed in two phases with Phase I extending from Brainard Avenue to Calumet Avenue and Phase II extending from Calumet Avenue to White Oak Avenue. It is anticipated that Phase I will be let in July 2015 with Phase II being let in September 2016. Estimated construction costs as of September 2011 were $16 million with 80 percent of this total being provided by federal funding and 20 percent coming from local funding. Maintenance of traffic during construction will be coordinated with the Indiana Department of Transportation, the Illinois Department of Transportation, the City of East Chicago, and the City of Hammond.
Initial investigations, including an assessment of potential hazardous materials sites, historic resources, land use, and ecological resources have been completed. Several sites along the project corridor contain hazardous materials and will be further investigated. One property, the Polish Army Veterans’ Post No. 40 located at 241 Gostlin Street, was recommended as eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places under Criterion A for its association with the ethnic and military heritage of the Hammond Polish community. Additionally, the project traverses Census Tracts containing both low income and minority populations identified as meeting the criteria for an Environmental Justice population. An Environmental Assessment is being prepared for this project and will be completed in 2013.
This notice is published in compliance with Title 23, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 771.111(h) entitled “Early Coordination, Public Involvement and Project Development,” and the Indiana Public Involvement Manual, approved by the Federal Highway Administration, US Department of Transportation, on August 16, 2012.
Please direct any questions or comments concerning this project to Christine Meador, American Structurepoint, Inc., 7260 Shadeland Station, Indianapolis, Indiana 46256. Contact Ms. Meador at (317) 547 5580, or by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
In accordance with the “Americans with Disabilities Act,” if you have a disability for which the City of Hammond would need to provide accommodations pertaining to the accessibility to program documents and participation at the public meeting, or if you are a person of Limited English Proficiency (LEP) requiring assistance pertaining to accessing project documents and participating at the public meeting venue, contact Christine Meador at American Structurepoint, Inc., 7260 Shadeland Station, Indianapolis, Indiana 46256, (317) 547 5580, or by email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or visit the project website at GoChicagoStreet.com.
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Stop the Tax Rally

A stop the tax rally was held at the Lake County Fairgrounds in Crown Point last night, as Lake County sits on the threshold of approving a one-and-a-half percent local income tax.
The tax has gotten preliminary approval, and there's word today that the Lake County Council may hold a special meeting this Monday to consider it again, and if approved, it would then go before the county commissioners for a vote.
Kim Krull, lead organizer of Lake County Taxpayers Against Additional Taxation, the group behind Monday evening's rally in Crown Point, told our Jay Stevens earlier she believes the tax would have a ripple effect on local businesses.
Lake is the only county without one, and for years its property tax levy was frozen because of it. Legislation was just approved lifting that freeze.
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Valpo Woman in Critical Condition After Motorcycle Crash

A Valparaiso woman is listed in critical condition at last check after a motorcycle crash Sunday afternoon in LaPorte County. Authorities report a 65 year old LaPorte man did not see the motorcycle, and turned into its path at the intersection of U-S 421 and State Road 2 near Westville. 40 year old Angie Oaks was a passenger on the motorcycle and was reportedly airlifted to a South bend hospital today for her injuries, while the driver of the motorcycle, 44 year old Barry Frey, also of Valparaiso, was taken to a Michigan City hospital with less severe injuries. Neither were wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
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HIghland PD Accepting Unwanted Drugs, Guns, and Ammo

Highland Police
The Highland Police Department reports they collected 503-pounds of old or unwanted prescription drugs and other medications on Saturday, in participation with the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day campaign. Highland Police says if you missed out, they, along with many other local area police departments, will accept any prescription drugs and medications on a permanent basis, as well as any unwanted guns and ammunition. All information for either items will remain confidential.
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WB South Shore Train 118 Delayed Indefinitely

Traffic-Advisory
Westbound South Shore Train 118 delayed indefinitely due to mechanical problems at our Gary Metro Station.
At this time Train 118 is not on the move.  We will update this messages as soon as we have further information available.
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Man Charged with Felony Battery Against Child and Cop

Mathew Dominion
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A 40 year old man faces two felony counts of battery, and misdemeanor battery with bodily injury, resisting law enforcement, and disorderly conduct after an incident Saturday night. Authorities say Mathew Dominion is alleged to have picked up a six year boy and acted as if he was going to throw the child into a fire in his back yard, in the 43-hundred block of Ostedt Drive, around 9:30pm. A concerned neighbor reportedly was punched in the face by Dominion after he told him to stop being so rough. Police later arrested Dominion at his home, using physical force, and even used a taser at one point, after Dominion allegedly kicked an officer in the back of his twice after being placed in the back of a squad car.
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ISTEP Testing Today Canceled Due to Glitch

ISTEP Plus online testing today had to be canceled at a number of school districts in Indiana after students reportedly kept getting clicked off-line due to an apparent glitch. C-T-B issued a statement today saying they are trying to resolve the issue. At last check, testing was postponed in Brownsburg, Carmel, and the West Lafeyette school districts, with Shelby and Tippecanoe schools also affected.
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Merrillville High School Recognized as Model School by ICLE

The International Center for Leadership in Education (ICLE), an organization led by nationally recognized speaker and expert in education, Dr. Willard Daggett, has announced that Merrillville High School has been identified as a Model School for its annual Model School Conference this summer.
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION (ICLE)
Since 1991, Dr. Willard R. (Bill) Daggett and the International Center for Leadership in Education have partnered with thousands of schools and school districts on sustainable whole school reform. Lessons learned from successful schools show that effective and sustained school improvement begins with creating a shared vision of the need for change; progresses to forming a consensus vision of learning and learners based on rigor, relevance, and relationships; and continues with translating beliefs about education into broad-based, but focused and measurable goals and actions.
The International Center’s work is based on the premise that students are living in a world that is changing dramatically and the education system needs to adapt to those changes in order to prepare students for the world in which they will live and work.
Common elements of Model Schools are:
 Embrace a Common Vision and Goals – Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships for ALL Students
 Inform Decisions Through Data Systems
 Empower Leadership Teams to Take Action and Innovate
 Clarify Student Learning Expectations
 Adopt Effective Instructional Practices
 Address Organizational Structures
 Monitor Student Progress/Improve Support Systems
 Refine Process on an Ongoing Basis
ABOUT MERRILLVILLE HIGH SCHOOL
Association with ICLE began five years ago when Merrillville High School was selected among a group of four Northwest Indiana area high schools to receive a five year, $5 million federal grant. Under the leadership of Mrs. Lorri Covaciu, Merrillville High School Associate Principal and Project Manager for the Small Learning Communities Grant, Merrillville High School staff attended, participated and were trained in many of the educational practices endorsed by ICLE that have become an integral part of the Merrillville High School program (Rigor-Relevance-Relationship; Quadrant D real world application of instructional content; freshman mentoring and partnerships with Model Schools like Brockton High School in Massachusetts).
The effects of these programs and instructional practices have contributed to the achievements of Merrillville High School having received an “A” grade from the State of Indiana (the only large minority-majority high school to do so) and boasting a 90% graduation rate. Merrillville High School implementation of best practices related to a “Success is Our Only Option” philosophy have included a Rigor-Relevance-Relationship framework; trimester scheduling; and innovative diversity programs including its highly recognized S.T.A.N.D. (Socially Together and Naturally Diverse) club which are reflected in “The Merrillville Advantage”.
This summer Merrillville High School will be presenting at the annual Model Schools Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, from June 30 to July 3, as one of ICLE's Model Schools.
Dr. Tony Lux, Superintendent, has stated, “Recognition of Merrillville High School as an ICLE Model School is a tribute to the school’s administrative leadership and the incredible effort of staff, students and parents to accept the challenges to meet academic success. As with the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color (COSEBOC) award, these recognitions reflect a systemic belief embraced by the entire school community, from School Board members through the entire staff, as to what is possible for all students when there is relentless support and high expectations.”...
   

American Discovery Trail Now Connects with NW Indiana

AmericanDiscoveryTrailLogo
An announcement was made last week that will re-route the 68-hundred mile American Discovery Trail to include Northwest Indiana and the South Chicago Suburban region. Non-motorized Transportation Planner with NIRPC, Mitch Barlogo says it is still a huge mystery as to how and why our region was not included when the trail was laid out in the early 1990's, but says now that it is established the trail will enter the region from Cincinnati into southern Crown Point using lightly traveled, well maintained roadways.
The American Discovery Trail itself stretches from Delaware to California, and diverts into a northern and southern route in Cincinnati, Ohio, and reconnects in Denver, Colorado. To hear more of the interview, click News Audio On Demand, and for a link to view the map, visit http://nirpc.org/greenways-blueways/g-b-map.aspx.
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