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US Steel Signs 10 Year Deal for Stadium Naming Rights

Railcats Naming Rights
GARY, Ind. — U. S. Steel and the Gary SouthShore RailCats have reached a new 10-year naming rights agreement, keeping U. S. Steel Yard the name of the RailCats’ home stadium through the 2022 season.
U. S. Steel has held the naming rights to the ballpark since it opened in the 2003 season. The original 10-year contract expired after the 2012 season.
“We are absolutely delighted to continue our relationship with the RailCats and retain the naming rights,” said Al Spajer, Director of Employee Relations at the U. S. Steel Gary Works. “The stadium is a super place for moms and dads, boys and girls to come and watch baseball.”
The RailCats have enjoyed their home field advantage, clinching both the 2005 and 2007 Northern League Championship at U. S. Steel Yard. The ballpark has a capacity of 6,139 and has welcomed over 1.5 million fans since opening in 2003. The RailCats play 50 home games a year at U. S. Steel Yard as a member of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.
“I am very happy as the General Manager, as the next door neighbor to the stadium and as a baseball fan to announce that we are extending the naming rights agreement,” said Matt Perkins, General Manager of U. S. Steel Gary Works. “We look forward to another great decade here.”
“We are proud to be able to call U. S. Steel Yard the home of the Gary SoutShore RailCats,” RailCats President/General Manager Kevin Spudic said. “There are many companies out there that could have supported this stadium when we were first naming the place. However, we saw U. S. Steel  as a perfect fit because they provided the framework and the foundation of what Gary is all about.”
In addition to RailCats baseball games, the stadium also plays host to the annual High School Challenge, set to welcome high school teams from Indiana and Illinois for the 11th time this spring. U. S. Steel Yard has also hosted an NCAA Regional, Horizon League Tournament, concerts, boxing, mixed martial arts, comedy shows and a Michael Jackson tribute. 
United States Steel Corporation (NYSE: X) is an integrated steel producer and Gary Works is the corporation’s largest manufacturing plant.
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Changes to Handgun Permit Process in LaPorte County

LaPorte Co Sheriff Dept
Starting Monday, the LaPorte County Sheriff's Office reports they will no longer be accepting paper handgun permits and will no longer fingerprint applicants due to recent changes implemented by the Indiana State Police. The Sheriff's Office reports those interested in obtaining an application must do so online, via the State Police's website, http://www.in.gov/isp/2828.htm, where they can also schedule an appointment for fingerprinting, http://www.in.gov/isp/2674.htm, at a location of their choice. Authorities say once those two-steps are complete, applicants must report to the agency that has primary law enforcement jurisdiction of their place of residence for a background check. Anyone living in LaPorte County who cannot access the internet is encouraged to contact the Sheriff's Office to schedule an appointment for a handgun permit.
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Discussion in Gary on Raising Federal Minimum Wage

A roundtable discussion was held today in Gary regarding President Obama's proposal to raise the federal minimum wage. Acting Deputy Administrator of the Wage and Hour Department of the Department of Labor, Mary Beth Maxwell, says they have been traveling the country and hearing stories from hard-working-people and finding folks cannot make ends-meet on $7.25 an hour. She says people are having to choose between medicine or food, and struggling to even get to their minimum wage job due to high transportation costs.
Maxwell says despite the argument that this would have a negative effect on job growth, which it doesn't, raising the minimum wage strengthens the economy because people spend the money, which is good for local businesses.
Maxwell says this is just the beginning of this process, which is meant to build majority support by lifting up the stories of people affected by it, which she says most Americans believe should happen.
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Overnight Kennedy Closure for Flood Drill

Overnight tonight, a Hammond/Highland flood prep drill ... in conjunction with the Army Corps of Engineers... to make sure Region responders, including public works and safety officials, are ready to act quickly in the event of a major flood. Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission Executive Director Dan Repay says closures beginning at 10:30 tonight (Wednesday March 20) will include all lanes of Kennedy Avenue at the river, north and southbound, along with the ramps from the Borman Expressway to southbound Kennedy Avenue. Repay says they anticipate the closures should last no longer than 3am Thursday (March 21). Repay says participants will use concrete blocks and sandbags to basically construct a 'wall' in just a couple hours on Kennedy Avenue as if floodwaters were rising. The exercise follows the devastating floods that hit Lake County in September 2008.
Hear our interview with Dan Repay here online at On Demand.
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Former Pastor Sentenced to 12 Years

Sentencing this morning in Hammond Federal Court for Jack Schaap, the former leader of First Baptist Church of Hammond. The ex-pastor of the megachurch who pled guilty last year to interstate transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. Our Karl Berner reports US District Court Judge Rudy Lozano sentenced Schaap to 12 years in federal prison, with five years of supervised release to follow. He must serve a minimum of 85 percent of the total sentence. The Schaap family left after the sentencing with no comment. The courtroom was filled to capacity, with another 30 to 40 people standing outside the doors.
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Budget Cuts Affect Ind Natl Guard Missions

The Indiana National Guard has announced hundreds of soldiers will not deploy as scheduled a few months from now in support of Operation Enduring Freedom because of sequester cuts and federal budget issues. The units slated for these missions include 1st Battalion, 293rd Infantry, 1st Squadron, 152nd Cavalry, and Company D, 113th Combat Support Battalion. The units were set to deploy in June 2013.
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Armed Robbery at Portage Gas Station

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[Photo provided]
Police are investigating an armed robbery at a Speedway gas station in the five-thousand block of Central Avenue around 3-o'clock this morning. Portage Police say a man pointing a gun ordered the attendant to put money in a bag, then was told to lie on the floor behind the counter. The suspect is described as a white male between 5-foot 10-inches and 6-foot tall, wearing all black or dark clothing including a hoodie-style sweatshirt, and a black bandanna covering his face. Anyone with information is asked to call Portage Police.
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Butler Joining Big East

Butler University will join the Big East conference this July. The Bulldogs’ football team will remain in the Pioneer League, while other sports will begin their Big East competition in the fall. Butler just joined the Atlantic 10 last year, after leaving the Horizon League.  As a Big East member, Butler will join Creighton], DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence College, Seton Hall, St. John’s, Villanova, and Xavier University.
“Joining the Big East is an unprecedented opportunity for Butler and represents an ideal fit for us—academically, athletically, and geographically,” said President Danko.
Joining the Big East will further enhance Butler’s national visibility, which soared following the men’s basketball team’s back-to-back Final Four runs in 2010 and 2011. “Butler’s increased national prominence will create new opportunities not only for student-athletes,” stated Butler President James Danko, “but for our entire student body and for our alumni, while increasing the value of a Butler degree.”
The conference change comes a year after Butler’s move from the Horizon League to Atlantic 10 Conference. “The A-10, like the Horizon League, is an outstanding conference, and we were honored to be a member,” Danko added. “After in-depth deliberations and analyses, we determined that joining the Big East was the right thing to do for our students and our institution, regardless of the timing of past conference transitions.”
From 1946 to 1950, Butler was in the Mid-American Conference. The Bulldogs played in the Indiana Collegiate Conference from 1950 to 1978 and were independent in 1978–1979. In 1979, Butler became a charter member of the Midwestern City Conference (later renamed Midwestern Collegiate Conference and then Horizon League). Butler joined the Atlantic 10 in 2012.
The Bulldogs have made appearances in NCAA National Championship Tournaments in men’s and women’s basketball, men’s soccer, volleyball, men’s cross country, lacrosse, and baseball, and over the past decade, Butler teams have captured 29 conference championships.
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Teen Arrested in Double Homicide

Gary Police say a 17-year-old suspect is in custody in connection with a double homicide. The Lake County Coroners office says 18-year-old Charles Wood of Gary died at a local hospital Monday afternoon after suffering a gunshot wound in the 25-hundred block of 13th Avenue in Gary Sunday. On Sunday, police say the body of 19-year-old Shaqwone Ham of Gary, whose body was found in shrubs nearby. Gary Police also say the report of a 15-year-old boy being approached by four people and robbed in the street minutes earlier within about a half-mile of the shooting remains under investigations.
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Schaap Sentencing Today

Sentencing is scheduled in Hammond Federal Court this morning for Jack Schaap, the former leader of First Baptist Church of Hammond.  Officials say the 55-year-old ex-pastor of the megachurch is facing ten years in prison after pleading guilty last year to interstate transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity. Sentencing was set for 10 am in the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Rudy Lozano.
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President Picks IU

President Picks IU
According to the White House Blog, President Barack Obama is taking the Hoosiers to go the distance for March Madness. The President's 2013 NCAA mens basketball tourney bracket shows Ohio State, Louisville and Florida making up the rest of the Final Four. The President, who shared his picks with ESPN, predicts Michigan State will eliminate VU this Thursday, and he's got Butler winning just their first game.
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Accused Doctor Loses Lake Co Jail Job

Published reports say a Region doctor arrested at his Valparaiso office last week on sexual misconduct and criminal deviate conduct charges has been released from his job at the Lake County Jail, where Dr. Jose Agusti worked for an outside contractor providing medical services to the facility. Police in Merrillville are reportedly reopening an investigation based on another allegation against the doctor.
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Residents Support Hammond Library

Hammond residents want to save their public library, and keep it under local control. Tuesday they had the opportunity to sign up for committees that are part of an advocacy plan to help the library board access hundreds of thousands already collected in property taxes –money that's untouchable without the approval of the city council, as per a relatively new state law. There's also been legislation proposed to place Hammond's library under the jurisdiction of the Lake County Library System .
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Possible Structure Fire in Porter Co

Unconfirmed reports of a structure fire northeast of Valparaiso this morning, reportedly on County Road 500 East. We've heard at least two departments have been called out to respond. Details as they become available.
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Hoosier Prairie Could Grow

The Natural Resources Commission has approved a request for a public hearing on a proposed addition to the Hoosier Prairie Nature Preserve near Grffith and changes to the site’s management master plan. Hoosier Prairie is a 304-acre nature preserve in Lake County that was first dedicated in 1978. The proposal would add just over 275 acres to the preserve and amend the master plan to allow changes in how the prairie habitat is managed. These would include the ability to plant native prairie plants, if needed, and to convert former pasture into prairie and savanna habitats. In addition, several new parking lots could be added in the future
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Gary Council Supports Local Tax

The Gary City Council is officially in favor of a local option income tax for Lake County. The council passed a resolution supporting such a tax – a tax that every county in the state has already adopted except for Lake, and because Lake hasn't adopted the tax – which was meant to ease the property tax burden on residents and businesses – the county's property tax levies have been frozen since 2007.
Senate Bill 585 proposes a one-percent local income tax for Lake County, and would let the county use the money for government operations and economic development. There's a House Ways and Means Committee hearing today.
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Tax Day Nears, VITA Can Still Help

Tax day is already less than a month away... IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance – VITA volunteers have been busy helping Region residents fill out the forms, and they still have some spots available if you qualify. George Kuebler, VITA Site Supervisor at United Way of Porter County says they provide the free assistance, by appointment, on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursday, through April 11th.  Kuebler says they do federal and state returns, including out-of-state returns. There are requirements and some restrictions. For details, you can hear our interview online at On Demand here at our website.  Also, for an appointment or more info, call 219-464-3583 or visit www.nwivolunteer.org .
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Powerball Climbs to $260 Million

Powerball is on the rise. An estimated $260 million is up for grabs in tonights Wednesday night's drawing. The potential prize is the largest in the game since last November's historic $587.5 million run culminated with jackpot winners in Missouri and Arizona.
Indiana leads the nation in Powerball jackpot wins with 38. A Hoosier Lottery player laid claim to the very first Powerball jackpot win in the first Powerball drawing in April 1992. Two of the game's top ten ranking jackpots -- $314.3 million and $295 million -- were also scored in Indiana.
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Former County Clerk Surrenders to Prison

One-time Lake County elected official Thomas Philpot has reportedly surrendered to a federal prison in Michigan to begin serving an 18-month sentence for paying himself more than 24-thousand dollars in bonuses from federal child support incentive funds while he was County Clerk. Philpot, who also served a decade as Lake County Coroner, was convicted last August on theft and public corruption charges.
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Hundreds Gather for Public Schools Rally

More than three-hundred people from around the state gathered at the statehouse for a rally supporting traditional public schools in Indiana. Some family members of Lake Ridge Schools in Calumet Township were among the crowd Tuesday. Lake Ridge has announced plans to close one of their elementaries in the face of a looming budget shortfall.
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