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Northern Indiana Rail Conference Coming to Hammond

The Northern Indiana Rail Conference, “Junction 2013” will highlight not only the new $65 million dollar Potash Corporation investment in Hammond, Indiana, but will also focus on economic development, and methods to capitalize our rail assets in Northern Indiana.

Mr. David Ostertag, Senior Director of Transportation and Distribution for Potash Corporation will deliver the keynote address, emphasizing the Potash Multi-Million dollar investment in Hammond, why they chose Hammond for their new distribution site, and how this new location will enable Potash to more efficiently reach their customers across the Eastern United States.

A Panel of experts will follow the Potash presentation with a wealth of information, highlighting the Indiana Harbor Belt Railway (IHB), the $71 million dollar Indiana Gateway Project, the Norfolk Southern Rail influence in Northern Indiana, and the nearly 300 new construction and permanent jobs created by the Potash project.

Hammond Mayor, Thomas M. McDermott, Jr will join the NW Indiana Forum’s CEO, Mark Maassel, and railroad officials from Norfolk Southern, IHB, and Potash Corp, in a lively Question and Answer session with the audience.

The Northern Indiana Rail Conference – Junction 2013, is sponsored by the Steering Committee of the Northern Indiana Rail Conference, and hosted by the Lakeshore Chamber and the Crossroads Regional Chamber.

Location: Dynasty Conference Center, 4125 Calumet Avenue, Hammond, IN.

Date: April 19, 2013

Time: 11:15 – 1:00 pm

Cost: $25.00

RSVP to the Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, at 219 931 1000.
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New Porter County Organization Names It's Leader

Porter County’s new initiative to address substance abuse now has a name and a leader.  Heather Harrigan has been named Executive Director of Empower Porter County, a unified organization committed to empowering the community to prevent and overcome substance abuse. 

Empower Porter County is a single organization, uniting the efforts of many sectors of the community toward a common goal.  “We’re pleased to bring together a coalition of 12 organizations – healthcare, government, education, law enforcement, business, faith-based organizations, youth organizations and more,” said Harrigan.  “We’ll be working together to maximize efforts in our county, helping each organization to be even more effective and finding new ways to meet the community’s needs.” 

Harrigan brings 25 years of management and public service experience to her new role at Empower Porter County.  She most recently served as Director of Marketing and Sales at Prudential Executive Group, one of the region’s most successful real estate organizations.  She has also successfully led a nonprofit organization, led alumni affairs at Valparaiso University and served on the boards of directors for several community organizations, including the Porter County Community Foundation, and Pathway Family Center.  “I feel a personal interest in the mission of Empower Porter County and look forward to partnering with others to reach our common goal of overcoming substance abuse,” she said.

Empower Porter County is a limited liability organization founded through the Porter County Community Foundation and funded through the generous support of governmental entities, nonprofits and local businesses committed to addressing this important issue.  The new organization will initially be housed at the Porter County Community Foundation, 57 Franklin St., in Valparaiso. To learn more, you may contact the Foundation at 219-465-0294.
Heather Harrigan, Executive Director of Empower Porter County
(photo courtesy of Porter County Community Foundation)
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Scam Protection for Hoosier Military Service Members

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller recently helped launch a legal toolkit to assist state attorneys general in cracking down on those who prey upon military service members. 
Zoeller worked with the U.S. Department of Justice, the Consumer Protection Working Group of the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force and attorneys general from Kentucky, Illinois and North Carolina to develop the toolkit. The kit outlines issues impacting the military community and how states’ consumer protection officials can effectively combat these types of financial predators and scammers. 

“Scammers and illegitimate businesses often target service members and their families because of their steady paychecks and deployments,” Zoeller said. “Issues impacting our military include topics ranging from predatory mortgage lending to auto financing and from GI Bill related scams to identity theft. It’s important that state and federal officials use the resources available to crack down on those who prey on individuals serving our country.”

The toolkit is intended to serve as a guide for relevant statutes and regulations, as well as a platform to discuss best practices and developing trends. Zoeller said his colleagues in offices of state attorneys general nationwide will be better equipped to navigate the diverse issues and complex laws concerning the military community. 

"I want to thank Attorney General Zoeller for his efforts to protect our service members from financial predators who attempt to take advantage of those serving our country," said Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, Adjutant General of the Indiana National Guard. "I also want to encourage every soldier and airman to look closely at the resources available to protect themselves and their families, so they understand situational awareness in the world of finance can be just as important as it is on the battlefield."
Zoeller said there are some important resources available to those in the military to help prevent financial harm including:
Active-Duty Alerts: These alerts can be placed on a service member’s credit report to inform a business it is obtaining information from an individual away on active duty. The alert requires the business to first obtain permission from an authorized third party like a family member or friend before proceeding.
Caps on interest bearing debt: Those on active duty may cap the interest rate on most outstanding loans at 6 percent under the provisions of the Service members Civil Relief Act. To have your interest rate reduced to 6 percent, you must write a letter to each creditor letting them know about your orders and your intent to invoke the 6 percent cap. 
Vehicle and property lease terminations: Deployed military members are able to legally terminate some vehicle and property leases. If you are currently leasing a vehicle or home/apartment and wish to terminate your lease, contact the leaseholder and inform them of your deployment.
Foreclosure and eviction relief: Under the Service member Civil Relief Act and the National Mortgage Settlement, service members are granted special relief when facing foreclosure. For example, a person may be able to obtain a “stay” or temporarily delay in a foreclosure or other civil court proceeding if he or she is called up to active duty. In addition, service members have special eligibility for loss mitigation relief such as a modification of their loan or a short sale. Similarly, service members and their families who rent their home may obtain a temporary stay of eviction proceedings while the service member is on active duty.
Atty Gen. Greg Zoeller
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller (file photo)
(photo provided by Jay Stevens)
Military service members can visit to learn more about resources available to them.
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Tier Two Illiana Corridor Study Public Meeting #1

Based on technical analysis done as part of Tier One Illiana Corridor studies (completed in January 2013) and public comments, Corridor B3 and the No-Action Alternative have been identified and carried forward into the second tier of the project.

IDOT and INDOT and are now hosting open house public meetings regarding Tier Two where the focus will shift from the original broad 952 square-mile study area to the communities, landowners and access needs along the preferred corridor.

The purpose of these meetings is to explain the Tier Two process which includes the refinement of the preferred corridor, interchange locations and layout, and determining overpass and underpass opportunities, environmental analysis and continued stakeholder outreach. IDOT and INDOT will consider your input as the detailed planning process moves forward. The meetings will be an open house format, and interested persons may attend anytime between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. There will be a continuous PowerPoint presentation, and attendees will have the opportunity to view study exhibits and speak with IDOT, INDOT and study team representatives on a one-on-one basis. A question and answer forum will be held at 6:00 p.m. each day.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013
5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Peotone High School
605 West North Street
Peotone, IL 60468

Thursday, April 18, 2013
5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Lowell Middle School
19250 Cline Avenue
Lowell, IN 46356

* The meeting will be accessible to handicapped individuals. Anyone needing specific assistance should contact Sarah Copeland of Images, Inc. at (630) 510-3944. Persons planning to attend who will need a sign language interpreter or other similar accommodations should notify the TTY/TTD number (800) 526-0844/ or 711; TTY users (Spanish) (800) 501-0864/or 711; and for Telebraille dial (877) 526-6670 at least five days prior to the meeting.
Illiana Expressway Header


Gary Woman Found Guilty in Boyfriend's 2009 Murder

The fate of a Gary woman on trial for the 2009 shooting death of a man she had been involved with for some time, has been determined.  The Times is reporting that it took less than 90-minutes Friday for a Lake County`jury to find 34 year-old Kaneda Kidd guilty of murder.  Prosecutors had argued Kidd had opened fire on the victim, 37 year-old Jermaine Ellis, after the couple left a party held by friends in Merrillville. 

The defense countered that the shooting was the result of years of domestic abuse.  However, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michael Toth said Kidd methodically shot Ellis 10 times.

Kidd will next be sentenced on May 10th, according to the article.  Read more at:
Kaneka Kidd, found guilty Friday, April 4, of murdering her longtime boyfriend in 2009
(photo courtesy of the Times of Northwest Indiana)
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Bridge Work Continues on I-94 Between US-20 SR-49

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announces continued lane closures for both northbound and southbound I-94, between U.S. 20 and State Road 49, beginning Monday, April 8th.
The shoulders of I-94 in this area will also be closed. Lane restrictions will continue until the completion of this bridge rehabilitation project in late fall 2013.
An alternative route has been posted for drivers wishing to avoid potential travel delays. Eastbound I-94 traffic may take the U.S. 20 exit and travel east to State Road 49, then south to eastbound I-94. Westbound I-94 traffic may take the State Road 49 exit and travel north to U.S. 20, then west to westbound I-94.
INDOT reminds drivers to use caution and consider worker safety when driving through a construction zone. For the latest road closures and project updates like us at and follow us at
You can find traffic restriction information at  Contact the LaPorte District toll free at 1-855-GO-INDOT.
Indot Logo color

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Emergency Repairs Continue on Indiana Toll Road

On the Indiana Toll Road (I-90), the eastbound driving lane is closed at Milepost 14-15 until Sunday evening, April 7, while crews repair a joint failure on the Broadway Bridge.   Additionally, the repairs will close the eastbound Broadway entry ramp (Milepost 14) from approximately 4 a.m. CST Saturday until 10 p.m. CST Sunday.
According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, The joint failure caused a gap in the roadway, and maintenance crews have been working diligently to correct the issue; however the length of time is greater than first anticipated. During this time, patrons wishing to enter at Broadway will be detoured to Gary East (Milepost 17).
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Police Release New Photos of Casino Murder Suspect

There are new surveillance photos released by police investigating the murder of the 76 year-old Griffith businesswoman, whose body was found inside the passenger-side of her SUV at Gary casino parking lot. The Times is reporting the new photos show the suspec that police believe is the same male subject seen leaving one of the victim's family businesses appearing in security photos walking into the casino.

Additional photos show a black sedan, believed by police to contain the suspect, leaving the casino through the front valet parking area.

According to the article, 76 year-old, Mary Austgen of St. John, was found dead of a gunshot wound inside her vehicle parked in the Majestic Casino garage March 29th. Both gary and Griffith police continue to investigate the homicide. Anyone who has any information concerning the incident is asked to contact Gary or Griffith police. Read more at:
surveillance photo
Security photo shows male suspect, holding black bag, entering casino from the parking garage.
(photo courtesy of the Times of Northwest Indiana)
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Investigation Ends Concerning Killer's Father

An investigation into any role the father of convicted murderer Dustin McCowan might have had in the death of Amanda Bach, has ended.  Sgt. Larry LaFlower, Public Information Officer of the Porter County Sheriff's Department says  his department and the County Prosecutor based their decision to not pursue charges against the father, Ellliot McCowan, because there is no probable cause at this time.
However, Sgt. LaFlower says if new information is received, the investigation could be reopened.
According to an article in the Times, Dustin McCowan was sentenced to the near-maximum 60-years in prison for the Sept 2011 murder of his former Portage girlfriend.  Last month the younger the younger McCowan was sentenced after being convicted of shooting Bach during the early morning hours after she showed up at the Union Township home he was living in at the time with his father, according to the article.
Read more at:

Elliot McCowan rev
Elliot McCowan
(photo courtesy of Times of Northwest Indiana and John Luke)
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Fire Destroys Home in Lake Dale

A suposed empty house that was under rehab burned to the ground  Wednesday.  At around 12:26 pm.  Lake County Police responded to a house fire in the 4700 block of W. 153rd Avenue in Lake Dale. Upon arrival Officers found the structure to be completely engulfed by fire. An area resident indicated an explosion had been heard just prior to the fire starting. Nothing remains of the residence. Mr. Richard Stone of Cedar Lake is listed as the homeowner.

Detective Michelle Dvorscak and Detective Sgt. Edward Jenkins indicated there was one reported injury resulting from the fire. They are investigating his role in the incident. The male subject that was injured was airlifted from St. Anthony Hospital in Crown Point to Loyola Medical Center. His condition is unknown at this time.

The residence was under rehab, and it is believed there was no one living in the home at the time of this possible arson fire.

This case remains under investigation.
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Call To Hotline Tips Police to Suspected Drug Activity

On Thursday, April 4th, at approximately 12:38 pm, the Lake County Police responded to the residence at 648 New Jersey Street in the Aetna section of Gary reference to information provided on the Lake County Sheriff’s Department Tipline indicating there is suspected drug activity at that location. 
Upon arrival at the location, officers discovered the rear door of the residence to be standing open and could not raise any occupants to come to the door.  Officers noticed an extremely foul odor coming from the home.   Observations made through the open back door included children’s clothing laid throughout the residence.  The residence smelled of filth, and observed urine, feces, rat/mouse droppings, and molded food. 
Officers entered the building due to the circumstances to secure a possible crime scene.  They found no one to be home.  Officers located in plain view marijuana and pills.  The marijuana field tested positive.  A total gross weight of 113.5 grams was confiscated.  There was morphine pills along with other prescription medications as well as field test confirmed PCP.
Admitted gang member Daniel P. Thomas was located in the area who indicated he was the occupant of the residence and was arrested for Possession of Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute and incarcerated in the Lake County Jail.  Contact was made with Code Enforcement for the City of Gary and the Building Commissioner Steven Marcus.  Mr. Marcus advised that the residence was inhabitable and ordered the City to board up the residence immediately. 
Contact was also made with Lake County Department of Child Services due to the children living in the residence.  An investigation will ensue with that agency.  An area resident indicated there were at least four children living in the home and other children were brought there for babysitting services.
Sheriff Buncich stated, “We continue to encourage other area residents to call the Hotline.  If you see something like this in your neighborhood, please call us and we will see what we can do.”  Lake County Sheriff’s Department Tipline telephone number is 1-800-750-2746.
Daniel Thomas Sr
Daniel P. Thomas
(photo provided by Lake County Sheriff's Department
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Lane Restriction Start Monday on US 41 in Newton County

Indot Logo color
NEWTON COUNTY, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announces lane restrictions for U.S. 41 just north of State Road 10, beginning Monday, April 8th. U.S. 41 will be restricted to one lane in each direction near the project site so crews can install a pipe. All lanes are expected to reopen in early July.
INDOT reminds drivers to use caution and consider worker safety when driving through a construction zone. For the latest road closures and news from INDOT, “like us” at and “follow us” at
You can find traffic restriction information at  Contact the LaPorte District toll free at 1-855-GO-INDOT
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DNR Grants to Address Invasive Aquatic Vegetation

Indiana DNR
Department of Natural Resource grants totaling 693-thousand dollars is set to be used to fund the battle against invasive aquatic vegetation in 53 Indiana lake, including a half-dozen in northwest Indiana. Several lakes in LaPorte, Porter, and Starke County will receive DNR grant money, which comes from the LARE fee paid annually by boat owners to the BMV. The DNR's Division of Fish and Wildlife reports the projects also provide economic benefits to the associated lake communities by offering increased opportunities for those who fish or pleasure boat.
April, 2013 LARE Invasive Aquatic Vegetation Management Grant Awards
Water body (County)
Project type
Grant award

Bass Lake (Starke)
Aquatic vegetation management treatment

City of LaPorte Area Lakes-Clear, Pine, and Stone lakes (LaPorte)
Aquatic vegetation management survey, plan and treatment

Fish Lake Area-Upper Fish, Lower Fish and Mud lakes (LaPorte)
Aquatic vegetation management survey, plan and treatment

Hudson Lake (LaPorte)
Aquatic vegetation management survey, plan and treatment

Koontz Lake (Starke)
Aquatic vegetation management survey, plan and treatment

Valparaiso Area Lakes-Flint and Long lakes (Porter)
Aquatic vegetation management survey, plan and treatment

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National Public Health Week: Empower a Healthy Community

indiana state department of health
INDIANAPOLIS—National Public Health Week wraps up today with an important message to empower a healthy community. Individual health and community health go hand-in-hand. Where individuals have access to health tools, knowledge and opportunities, improved community health follows.  A resilient, well-supported public health system provides these necessary resources.
“It’s been a great National Public Health Week so far,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “Each of the daily themes were designed to help people understand exactly what public health is and its value. Nowhere is that value more evident than in the community setting, so today’s theme of Empowering a Healthy Community is a great lesson to end the week.”
There are many ways public health efforts positively affect Hoosiers, such as by providing access to fluoridated water, which can reduce tooth decay by up 25 percent, and protecting children and adults from infectious diseases by making immunizations available.
Providing information and guidance about healthy eating, physical activity and injury prevention are key components of public health. Health and wellness initiatives are often driven by local health departments and other public health partners. These efforts are aimed at improving quality and length of life and reducing the burden of health care costs on society. For example, if 10 percent of adults began regularly walking, $5.6 billion in heart disease costs could be averted. And a sustained 10 percent weight loss could reduce an overweight person's lifetime medical costs by up to $5,300 by lowering the costs linked to hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and high cholesterol.
“It’s amazing how far a little physical activity can go toward your overall health and wellness,” said Dr. VanNess. “Adding a few small extra steps into your day by parking far away from an entrance or choosing the stairs over the elevator adds up. You can gradually work your way up to more challenging activities, like Zumba, swimming, yoga or running. Have fun with exercise.”
Here are some ways to help your community become empowered:
·         Join your Neighborhood Watch program.
·         Inquire about volunteer opportunities at community health centers.
·         Take part in national health observances, such as National HIV Testing Day, National Youth Violence Prevention Week and National Minority Health Month.
·         Support smoke-free policies; visit to learn more. 
·         Partner with state and local parks and recreational facilities to increase access to safe places to be outside and physically active.
·         Work with local authorities to initiate violence intervention and prevention efforts. 
·         Reach out to health care professionals and discuss community health and prevention efforts.
·         Create a local health movement. Start a healthy food co-op, organize a canning circle, gather a walking group or form a club dedicated to volunteering.
To learn more about National Public Health Week, visit
For more information about the Indiana State Department of Health, visit
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Preliminary Info Released on South Bend Plane Crash

On March 17, 2013, at 1623 eastern daylight time, a Hawker Beechcraft model 390 (Premier IA) business jet, N26DK, serial number RB-226, collided with three residential structures and terrain following an aborted landing attempt on runway 9R located at the South Bend Regional Airport (KSBN), South Bend, Indiana. The private pilot and pilot-rated-passenger occupying the cockpit seats were fatally injured. An additional two passengers and one individual on the ground sustained serious injuries. The airplane was registered to 7700 Enterprises of Montana, LLC and operated by Digicut Systems of Tulsa, Oklahoma, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 while on an instrument flight plan. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the business flight that departed Richard Lloyd Jones Jr. Airport (KRVS), Tulsa, Oklahoma, at 1358 central daylight time.
According to preliminary air traffic control information, at 1610:31, the accident pilot established radio communications with South Bend Approach Control while at 11,000 feet mean sea level (msl). The air traffic controller cleared the flight direct to KNUTE intersection and told the pilot to expect a visual approach to runway 9R. At 1611:44, the flight was cleared to descend to 10,000 feet msl. At 1613:06, the flight was cleared to 3,000 feet msl. At 1615:00, the approach controller told the pilot to make a 5-degree left turn to align with runway 9R and asked the pilot to report when he had the airport in sight. At 1615:07, the pilot declared an emergency because of a lack of engine power, reporting that they were "dead stick" and without any power. About 23 seconds later, at 1615:30, the pilot transmitted "we've lost all power, and we have no hydraulics." When the controller asked if the airplane remained controllable, the pilot replied "ah, barely controllable." The controller advised that all runways at KSBN were available for landing and issued the current winds, which were 130-degrees at 10 knots. At 1615:22, the pilot transmitted that the airplane’s navigational systems were inoperative and requested a radar vector toward the airport. The controller replied that the airport was 9 miles directly ahead of the airplane’s current position. At 1616:12, the controller told the pilot to turn 10-degrees left to intersect runway 9R. At 1616:15, the pilot replied "26DK, turning left." No additional voice communications were received from the accident airplane. The approach controller continued to transmit radar vectors toward runway 9R without any response from the accident pilot. At 1618:58, the approach controller told the accident airplane to go-around because the main landing gear was not extended. (The tower controller had informed the approach controller that only the nose landing gear was extended) The accident airplane was then observed to climb and enter a right traffic pattern for runway 9R. The airplane made another landing approach to runway 9R with only the nose landing gear extended. Several witnesses observed the airplane bounce several times on the runway before it ultimately entered a climbing right turn. The airplane was then observed to enter a nose low descent into a nearby residential community.
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Two Thursday Afternoon House Fires in Lake County

Thursday fires
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
Two house fires in Lake County Thursday afternoon reportedly occurred within an hour of each other. The Times reports a home, at the northwest corner of 153rd Avenue and Colfax Street, in Cedar Lake Township was burned to the ground. The second fire, in the 500 block of Meadow Ridge Drive in Schererville, caused smoke and water damage to the home, with one corner of the residence sustaining heavy exterior damage, and several dogs were rescued as well, that according to the article. The cause of both fire have yet to be determined.
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Novak to Step Down from RDA Board April 30th

pete novak
(Photo Courtesy of the Northwest Indiana RDA)
The City of Hammond's appointee to the Board of Directors of the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority is stepping down from the Board, effective April 30th.
Pete Novak says while has enjoyed his time on the Board, changes in his personal and professional life since 2009 are demanding more and more of his time. Novak, who is the CEO of the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors, thanked Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna, Chairman Leigh Morris, and the Board for the tremendous experience.
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Rebuilding Together Duneland Accepting Volunteers

Rebuilding Together
You can help make a difference in the Duneland Community on this year's annual National Rebuilding Day, Saturday April 27th. Rebuilding Together Duneland is accepting volunteers, skilled or unskilled, to help rehabilitate 13 homes and two community improvement projects. The deadline to apply is Monday, April 15th, and for information on to apply online, visit
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Bill Passed in Senate to Reduce Calumet Twp Spending

Legislation was approved by the Senate Thursday that would give Calumet Township a year to reduce its township assistance tax rate for poor relief spending. The Times reports if the township fails to do that, then the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board can consider placing an emergency manager in power to make the necessary spending reductions, and if that doesn't reduce the the township's assistance tax rate, then in 2015, Griffith could hold a referendum on whether or not to leave. The bill now heads back to the House. Griffith residents pay more in property taxes to support the township's poor but reportedly get little in return.
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Bill to Protect Hoosier Children Online Passes House

One of State Sen. Randy Head’s (R-Logansport) bills to protect Hoosier children was approved by the House of Representatives today by a vote of 93-0. Senate Bill 347 now returns to the Senate for final legislative review. 
SB 347 makes it illegal for certain sex offenders whose victims were children to communicate with a minor under 16 years old using a social networking site. It also increases the penalty for child solicitation to a Class B felony if the person solicits a child online and then travels to meet him or her, or if the person is a repeat offender for child solicitation.
“This bill is a crucial step toward better protecting our children from online predators,” Head said. “As more young people use social media to communicate, criminals are using these websites to find and talk to potential victims. The legislation passed today will address this problem and send a message that Indiana will not tolerate those who seek to harm our children.”
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Region News Team
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Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team


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