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SR 130 Near Wheeler Opened

Traffic-Alert
Union Fire officials say State Road 130 is now open, from County Road 475 West/Sedley Road to County Road 625 West, after a crash. One individual was taken to the hospital with minor injuries, after losing control of their vehicle and hitting a utility pole, shearing it in half, and knocking down wires. The accident happened around 10, just east of the Union Fire Station, near Wheeler.
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One Hurt in Wheeler Crash

Traffic-Alert
One person was taken to the hospital after a passenger vehicle traveling eastbound on State Road 130 lost control and struck a utility pole just outside of Wheeler today, shearing the pole in half. Wires are also down.  Union Fire Department Assistant Chief Tim Beach tells the Region News Team that extrication was not necessary, and the individual was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.  The accident happened around 10 am just east of the Union Fire Station in Union Township on State Road 130.
Union Fire officials say State Road 130 is shut down from County Road 475 West/Sedley Road to County Road 625 West, and may be closed a couple of hours to clear the crash scene and replace the pole.
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Accident Shuts Down SR 130

Traffic-Alert
Union Fire officials in Union Township say State Road 130 is being shut down as crews respond to a single-vehicle crash in Wheeler.  Officials say a passenger vehicle struck a utility pole.  State Road 130 is closed between County Road 475 West/Sedley Road to County Road 625 West.
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Lowell Troopers Respond to 33 Crashes

The early-Spring blast of Winter kept Indiana State Police from the Lowell Post busy overnight on requests for service and assisting motorists. Troopers responded to 26 property damage crashes, 7 personal injury crashes, 30 slide offs and 10 assist motorists calls in their district, which includes Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Newton, Jasper, Pulaski and Starke Counties.   Motorists are reminded to travel cautiously, allow more stopping distance and reduce your speed on icy, snowy, slushy roads.
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Merrillville Land is Farmland Again

Some undeveloped property in Merrillville has been re-rezoned as farmland,what it was originally. There were plans to put a large residential development on 62 acres of land on the town's east side near 101st and Colorado, but that didn't materialize, so the Merrillville Plan Commission has changed the zoning back to agricultural.
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Firearm Applications Transition to Electronic

The process to apply for a license to carry a firearm in Indiana is transitioning from paper to electronic , streamlining the application process for citizens as well as processing completed by local agencies and the Indiana State Police-- and Indiana State Police say an enhanced version will be made available starting today (Mon Mar 25). State Police are experiencing a high volume of phone calls and are asking applicants to NOT request a status check regarding firearm permit applications unless it's significantly past the expected timeframe.
Also starting today [Monday March 25], the LaPorte County Sheriffs Office reports they will no longer be accepting paper handgun permits, and will no longer provide fingerprinting for applicants, due to recent changes implemented by the Indiana State Police. You can hear more from our interview with LaPorte County Sheriffs Police Major John Boyd here at our website at On Demand.
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Milan Museum Hoping for "Hoosiers" Uniforms

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A Northwest Indiana resident wants to preserve some small-town, big-screen Hoosier basketball history. Ron Niess is on the board of the Milan 54 – Hoosiers Museum, which is going into an old bank building in downtown Milan, about 240 miles south of the Region. Milan is a small town that a lot of people know thanks to their 1954 high school boys basketball upset of Muncie Central for the state championship during the days of the single-class tourney, and the season and game are chronicled in film history in the movie Hoosiers, starring Gene Hackman as the team's coach. Niess says the museum has the unique opportunity to purchase the “Hoosiers Collection”... the largest collection of Hoosiers movie props and uniforms known in existence... and they need to raise 40-thousand dollars by March 31st:
The museum is scheduled to open June 6th, and they hope to have the producer and writer of “Hoosiers” there for the festivities. You can hear our interview with Ron Niess here at our website at On Demand. For more info on donating toward the purchase of the movie uniforms and props, visit www.milan54.org or call 812-530-6789 .
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Region Soldier in Best Warrior Competition

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Sgt. Blayne Peterson, a health care specialist from 7203rd Medical Support Unit, Hobart, Ind., takes a written exam part of the Army Reserve Medical Command’s prestigious “Best Warrior Competition” at the C.W. Bill Young Armed Forces Reserve Center in Pinellas Park, Fla., March 23, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Marnie Jacobowitz/Released)
A Region native is among soldiers selected to compete in the Army Reserve Medical Command's prestigious “Best Warrior Competition” in Florida this week. 21-year-old Sgt. Blayne Peterson, a health care specialist from 7203rd Medical Support Unit in Hobart is a 2010 graduate of Winamac Community High School, and currently works as a physician substitute with Saturn Bio-Medical, working toward becoming a nurse practitioner at IUPUI.
More info:
Story by Lt. Col. Michele Sutak
PINELLAS PARK, Fla. - Sgt. Blayne Peterson, a health care specialist from 7203rd Medical Support Unit, Hobart, Ind., is competing in the Army Reserve Medical Command’s prestigious “Best Warrior Competition” here and Camp Blanding, Fla., March 22-30, 2013. He is one of only 10 soldiers of the 9,500-strong AR-MEDCOM Warriors to be selected to compete for this honor.
Peterson, 21, a Winamac, Ind., native, is representing Central Medical Area Readiness Support Group from Fort Sheridan, Ill., besting more than a thousand soldiers from that command to advance to the next level.
“I wanted to be the best at what I do,” said Peterson, who deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation New Dawn in 2011. “This competition allows me to go against other great competitors and see how I stack up against the rest of the force.”
As a 2010 graduate of Winamac Community High School, he currently works as a physician substitute with Saturn Bio-Medical, and is working toward becoming a nurse practitioner at Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Ind.
“Being a civilian one day and serve my country the next day is very rewarding,” said Peterson, whose following in the footsteps of his grandfathers, great uncles, uncles and two brothers, serving in the military. “I will always be a soldier first, and I get to share that with my civilian friends and family as well.”
The Best Warrior Competition was developed by retired Sergeant Major of the Army Jack Tilley in 2002 as a test of a soldier’s physical endurance, military knowledge, current events, and mental perseverance. The competition is an opportunity for Warrior’s to highlight their military skills in a competitive environment and measures how well they perform under stress.
The grueling five day event competition taxes each soldier mentally and physically. It includes a timed written exam, physical fitness test, and a number of mentally and physically challenging exercises including a 10 kilometer road march, M-4 rifle qualification, urban warfare orienteering, an Army Combatives Tournament –and a Mystery Event.
Peterson began the competition at unit level, rising to command level and continuing on to higher command intended to select the noncommissioned officer and junior enlisted Soldier of the Year for AR-MEDCOM. The winner advances to train and prepare through U. S. Army Reserve Command, and upon winning will go on to represent the Army Reserve Command to the Army wide ‘Best Warrior’ Competition to be held later in the year.
The Army Reserve Medical Command has been represented at the top Army event in 2009 by Staff Sgt. Aaron Butler, a medical logistics NCO from Three Forks, Mont., at the Department of the Army level competition.
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EC Police Chief Wants to Start 'Stop Team'

East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker says one of his plans this year is to start an aggressive patrol team for the city, a program he started when he was chief in Portage. Becker told us during a Region Newsmakers interview it was called the “Stop Team”.  "I know in Portage it had great results," Becker told the Region News Team, and he says it freed up officers to do that which patrol officers didn't have time to. Becker says they discovered a counterfeiting operatiion, and recovered guns, money, and drugs.  "If people called, and they were unhappy about the speeding in the school zone, we went out there to stop it. If people had burglary problems in a certain neighborhood, we went out there and did surveillance to stop it," hence the name, "Stop Team"    You can hear more of our recent Region Newsmakers interview with East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker here at our website.
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Powerball Jackpot Won in Jersey?

The official word will come later today from New Jersey lottery officials. But a truck stop in Bordentown, New Jersey says it got a call from a truck driver who said he has the winning ticket for Saturday night's 338 million dollar Powerball jackpot. 
Here's some Hoosier Lottery history for Powerball: the Hoosier state has seen 38 Powerball jackpot wins.  A Hoosier Lottery player laid claim to the very first Powerball jackpot win in the first Powerball drawing in April 1992, and since then, Hoosier Lottery retailers have gone on to sell jackpot-winning Powerball tickets 37 more times -- more than any other jurisdiction.
Two of the game’s top ten ranking jackpots -- $314.3 million and $295 million -- were also scored in Indiana.
TOP POWERBALL JACKPOTS WON IN INDIANA:
1.  $314.3 million won by Coterel-Hiles Family of Dayton, Ohio, on a ticket purchased at Speedway in Richmond in August 2007
2.  $295.7 million claimed by Lucky 13 Trust on a ticket purchased at Speedway in Richmond in July 1998
3.  $221.7 million won by Darin Fox and Todd Reardon on a ticket purchased at Circle K in Clarksville in April 2011
4.  $165 million claimed by GMTR Investments, LLC on a ticket purchased at Circle K in Lawrenceburg in January 2009
Saturday’s jackpot is the largest in the game since last November’s historic $587.5 million run culminated with jackpot winners in Missouri and Arizona. Powerball is now played in 42 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
As with all Hoosier Lottery games, the net income generated from the sale of Powerball tickets in Indiana stays in Indiana.
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Postal Workers Protest Saturday Cut

Postal workers held protests in Indiana and across the country Sunday. They say the Postal Service's plan to end Saturday mail deliveries will cost thousands of jobs and would hurt many Americans, including senior citizens who depend on six-day delivery for medication. The Postal Service says it needs to cut out six-day delivery to cut costs.
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Icy, Snow-Covered Roads

Traffic-Advisory
Roads are slick and snow-covered this morning around the Region.  Some areas, especially southern portions of northwest Indiana, still have Winter Weather Advisories posted, with Winter Storm Warnings still in effect south of Newton and Jasper Counties.  Interstate 65 is icy south of the Crown Point/Lowell area and State Road 2.
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Oh No, Spring Snow

Oh No, Spring Snow
(National Weather Service Chicago)

About four days into Spring, the Region is in for a Winter storm, but varying amounts of snow are expected.  Then, we could get lake effect. The National Weather Service in Chicago says this system is expected to bring a Spring snow storm to Mid-America late Saturday evening through Monday morning. Accumulating snowfall is possible north of Interstate 80, while in far southern counties heavy snow is possible. Forecasters with the National Weather Service also say widespread snow may become lake enhanced resulting in locally higher amounts from Chicago south and in far Northwest Indiana.

Hebron-native Brandon Fisel, Doctoral Research Assistant in the Department of Geological and Atmospheric Sciences at Iowa State University, says initially we may see one-to-three inches of snow on Sunday, with a total of three-to-six inches by Monday morning due to lake effect snow Sunday night.  Hear more of our interview with Fisel here at our website at On Demand.
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Donnelly: Budget 'Not Perfect, But Balanced'

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The Senate pulled an all-nighter, passing a three-point-seven billion dollar budget proposal early this (Saturday) morning. It's a very different proposal than the the budget approved the House, and the two will need to be reconciled.  Indiana US Senator Joe Donnelly issued a statement this morning, after voting in favor of the Senate spending plan:
“I think we need to cut spending and make changes to our tax code as we work our way back to a balanced budget. The budget proposal I voted for today is not perfect, but it is balanced: it would cut spending by nearly $1 trillion and close tax unnecessary loopholes. Even more important, it would not balance the budget by turning Medicare into a voucher program or by raising taxes on middle class families. 
“There is no issue greater than getting more Hoosiers back to work, so I was pleased to vote for two important amendments during this debate, both of which passed the Senate, to help create jobs for Hoosiers. I was joined by every Republican senator and 32 of my Democratic colleagues in voting to repeal the medical device tax, which is inhibiting the growth of some of Indiana’s most important jobs creators.  I also supported a bipartisan amendment advocating for the construction of the Keystone Pipeline, which would create tens of thousands of jobs and help lessen our dependence on foreign oil. I will continue focusing on job creation when I travel across Indiana next week meeting with community leaders to discuss how we can continue to grow our state’s economy.
“Now it is time for both parties to come to the table to make the tough choices necessary to further cut spending and move toward a balanced budget as we aim to create a stronger country for our children and grandchildren.”
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Highland Man Sentenced for Murder

A Lake County judge has sentenced a Highland man to 55 years in prison in the shooting death of his girlfriend early last year. 27-year-old Douglas Smith was convicted of murdering 28-year-old Jacqueline Williams. The judge reportedly said the trial indicated the killing was a case of if not for the use of alcohol and the presence of the weapon, the tragedy may not have occurred. Police in Highland said they believe the victim was shot during an argument after the couple came home from a bar.
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Munster Woman Wins $150,000

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A Lake County woman has claimed a 150-thousand dollar Hoosier Lottery prize. Lottery officials say  Melissa Watts of Munster walked into a Citgo on 45th Street in Munster Wednesday to buy a Powerball ticket., and while she was in there, decided to try her luck on a Lucky Loot ticket as well... and the scratch-off was a big win. No one hit the Powerball jackpot that night, so it's now up to an estimated 320-million dollars for tonight's drawing.
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East Chicago State of the City Apr 3

East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland is scheduled to deliver the annual State of the City address April 3. City officials say Mayor Copeland will discuss achievements in 2012 and reveal plans for this year. The city also will honor individuals who have helped the city through service and dedication in their departments, organizations or as volunteers. The speech is 2 p.m. April 3 at the Field Educational Center, 3551 Block Ave. Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees as asked to RSVP by Monday, March 25, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., to the mayor’s office at (219) 391-8200.
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Lake Station Man Charged With Murder

Prosecutors in Lake County Friday charged a Lake Station man in the death of his wife last fall. Reports Say Troy Shawn Meyers, who also goes by the name Shawn Troy Meyers, has been charged with murder. Authorities say Shannon Meyers died in September of multiple blunt force injuries.  Witnesses told police the couple fought on average about two to three times a week, according to a report in the Times today, and reported hearing a short fight the same night or early morning the day an ambulance was called to the couple's home.
http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/lake-station/lake-station-man-charged-with-wife-s-murder/article_4f6822de-7bd4-524b-afe9-67e45c6d5702.html
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Visclosky Supports Currency Reform Act

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First District Congressman Pete Visclosky has joined a bipartisan group of legislators in supporting the Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act of 2013, a measure designed to crack down on foreign currency manipulators. Visclosky says the bill would help to level the playing field for American workers by providing the administration with the ability to combat the artificial devaluation of currency. Visclosky says currency manipulation policies significantly hamper domestic job creation, allowing foreign countries to export their products at below-market prices.
“For Northwest Indiana workers, each and every single day is a fight against foreign nations like China that illegally prop up their industries with artificial currency controls,” Congressman Visclosky said. “I will not stand aside while we welcome illegally-subsidized imports into the country at the expense of American workers. I urge my colleagues to pass this commonsense, bipartisan legislation and send it to the President’s desk without delay.”
Currency manipulation policies significantly hamper domestic job creation, allowing foreign countries to export their products at below-market prices. The Peterson Institute for International Economics noted  that "half or more of excess U.S. unemployment – the extent to which current joblessness exceeds the full employment level – is attributable to currency manipulation by foreign governments.” The nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute estimates that the U.S. trade deficit with China alone cost over 2.7 million jobs from 2001-2011.
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Pelath: Policy Paralysis in the General Assembly

House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, of Michigan City, on Friday spoke about the “policy paralysis” as he labeled it, which says has a grip on the General Assembly, because Republicans cannot govern on their own, which has led to no clear direction for the state.
Pelath says while Indiana's unemployment rate inched up a third of a percent, there have been no efforts to create a significant number of jobs. Pelath says Republicans have spent public tax dollars for business tax deductions, abatements, and loan guarentees, yet nothing has been down to empower consumers or workers.
State Representative Chuck Moseley, of Portage, last week expressed a similar frustration, after legislation to assist Indiana's steel industry with reduced income tax rates and additional economic incentives to encourage the manufacture of wind turbines components using steel produced in Indiana, instead in China, was shot down by House Republicans.
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