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Columbia, between Ridgeway and Ridge in Munster Still Closed

Traffic-Alert
A gas line rupture in Munster has been repaired but Munster Police now report part of Columbia Avenue, between Ridgeway and Ridge is still closed for sewer work. The gas leak reportedly occurred around 9am. A sewer main break was reported in the same location a week ago....
 

Mega Millions Up to 656 Million Dollars

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Tonight's Mega Millions jackpot has now risen to 656-million-dollars. Not a record, but close. ABC News reports if there is no winner tonight -- Frida's jackpot will hit almost a billion dollars...But lotto players buying tickets today are certain - they will win. ...
 

Munster Gas Leak Repaired, Columbia Ave Open

Traffic-Alert
In Munster, crews were on the scene on a gas line rupture in the 83-hundred block of Columbia Avenue. It happened around 9-o'clock this morning. That part of Columbia is closed and Munster Police are advising motorists to seek alternate routes. Last Friday, there was a sewer main break in the same block of Columbia.
 ...
 

Generous People Have Holiday Spirit

A Christmas story to share from our own Uncle Len today... He was at a Family Express in Valparaiso the other day when he pulled in the wrong direction, and had some difficulties with the gasoline pump hose reaching the vehicle, and the credit card reader. One man came over to help with the pump hose, and a woman came over and put her charge card in and paid, saying 'Merry Christmas, I wish I could have done it for my folks.' They hugged... but soon after when Uncle Len went to try to pay the woman back, she was gone....
 

Valparaiso Police Seek Same Man in Three Hold-Ups

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In Valparaiso, police believe a man who robbed a local liquor store over the weekend is the same person involved in two previous armed robberies over the past few weeks. Valparaiso Police were called to the 18-hundred block of East Lincolnway to Buz's Liquor Store, where someone entered shortly after midnight Sunday, approached an employee at the cooler, displayed a semi-automatic handgun and demanded cash from the register.
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The suspect is described as male, about 5-foot-8, 160-pounds with a dark complexion, and the clothing has been the same in each robbery -- a dark-colored hooded sweatshirt with a diamond-type print, dark-colored pants and white shoes. The man also wears a mask and gloves.
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Police say in late November, on the opposite end of the city, the Quick Trip convenience store/Chesters Fried Chicken on the west end of Lincolnway was held up twice within a week-and-a-half. Anyone with information is asked to call the WeTip line 1-800-78-Crime or Valparaiso Police at 219-462-2135. Police say a reward is being offered.  [Surveillance photos released by Valparaiso Police]...
 

Six-Year-Old Hero Honored by Fire Department

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A six-year-old northwest Indiana boy has been recognized by his local fire department for actions he took to save his dad's life. Officials say first-grader Gavin Michaels was in an above-ground pool at his home in August when the child's 49-year-old father had a seizure, fell off an inflatable raft, and was struggling to stay afloat. The boy immediately ran inside his house and also next door to the neighbors to gather enough people to pull the six-foot-tall man out of the pool. The dad was transported to the hospital and released that day. Noble Township's Fire Chief John Homan says the child did the right thing by not freezing up or trying to get his father out by himself.
Pictured: Gavin Michaels holding a plaque presented to him by the Noble Township Fire Department. Also in photo,from left, Noble Township Fire Chief John Homan, Gavin's father Jeff Michaels, and Noble Township Fire Captain Jeremiah Smith. [Photo/provided]...
 

Charges Filed in Merrillville Restaurant Robbery

In Merrillville, two men have been charged with armed robbery, robbery resulting in bodily injury and criminal confinement after allegedly pretending to be delivery persons to rob Portillo's Restaurant off US 30 late Sunday night. At about 11 pm, officers confronted the suspects as they were trying to flee, police say, and it was later discovered three employees had been handcuffed and duct-taped, and the suspects allegedly forced the manager to open a safe. The men were pursued on foot, and one was caught behind a nearby Shell station, the other on a snowy hill a short distance away behind the Staples store. Authorities say the suspect vehicle was located in the nearby parking lot of Deluxe Inn....
 

Gas Line Rupture Reported in Munster

Traffic-Alert
Munster Police report the 8300 block of Columbia Avenue is closed due to a gas line rupture.  No further details were available at this time. Motorists are advised to use alternate routes....
 

Plane Skids, Flips at Griffith-Merrillville Airport

A single-engine plane skids into a snowbank and flipped onto its roof at the Griffith-Merrillville Airport shortly before noon Monday.  Authorities say both the pilot and the passenger were able to get out of the Cessna 152, were checked by ambulance staff on scene, and declined transport to the hospital. The plane reportedly had minor damage....
 

Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Child's Death

A Liberty Township man has been sentenced to forty years behind bars in connection with the death of girlfriend's seven-month-old son. Officials say 25-year-old Benjamin Willis the second was convicted of two felony charges of neglect of a dependent and battery. Willis maintained his not guilty plea and told the court he plans to appeal. Published reports say the boy died from blunt force trauma to the head....
 

Region Eyes Boeing

Flight of fancy or not? Indiana is said to be among several states, including Illinois, trying to land a Boeing manufacturing plant where their newest wide-body jetliner would be produced. Region officials are envisioning what it would be like to have the new plant plant itself in the northwest corner of the state, bringing with it nearly nine-thousand jobs. The Chicago-based aerospace company is expected to announce the location early next year. Boeing's wish list includes a site adjacent to an airport with a long runway, and road, rail and port access, criteria that northwest Indiana can meet....
   

Valpo a National Choice for Retirees

A Region community is getting some national attention as being a retirement destination. An article in Huffington Post utilized a combination of US Census data and proprietary info to assemble a list of fifty communities, one per state, with a population of ten to fifty-thousand that appear to be attracting the greatest number of people over fifty. Valparaiso made the list as Indiana's top smaller city for Boomers....
   

Good Samaritan and Teacher Both Remembered

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Nikki and William Riley Knight; Linda Darlington
Friends, family and co-workers are remembering the lives of two Crown Point residents who died Saturday night, as one was trying to help the other. Lake County Sheriffs Police say 49-year-old William Riley Knight had gotten married hours earlier and was returning from his wedding reception with his new bride when he pulled over to help 42-year-old Linda Darlington, whose vehicle had gone into a ditch near 109th and Lane in Crown Point. Sheriff John Buncich says Knight and Darlington were both struck by a car while standing on the side of the road, then hit by two other vehicles, and were pronounced dead at the scene. Police say all drivers stayed at the scene, no citations were issued, and no arrests were made as police continue their investigation.
Counselors were at Joan Martin Elementary School in Hobart Monday to help students, teachers and staff with their grief. Darlington taught first graders at Joan Martin. School City of Hobart Superintendent Peggy Buffington says there are plans to plant a tree in Darlington's honor during a memorial service this spring.
Knight, a US Army veteran, was also an actor in local theater. Knight family friend Angie Lowe directed Knight when he was a a student at Lake Central High School in St. John and also as an adult in local community theater. Lowe heads a theater group called L'arc en Ciel in Cedar Lake. Lowe told the Times that Knight “died a hero on his last night”.
Funeral arrangements for Darlington are being made through Chapel Lawn Funeral Home in Schererville.  No information was available at this time on funeral arrangements for Knight....
   

Officials: Hotel, Church Fire Arson

Fire officials in Gary are said to have ruled a fire that destroyed the vacant Plaza Hotel and a storefront church inside the building earlier this month was arson. The blaze at 8th and Washington a block west of Broadway broke out the night of December 4th. The city plans to demolish what's left of the three-story structure, which collapsed in the fire. There were no injuries reported....
   

One Hurt in Collision Near Plymouth

A 55-year-old Westville man was injured in a four-semi crash that closed westbound US 30 near Plymouth for about two hours Monday. Indiana State Police say a 36-year-old semi driver from Illinois apparently fell asleep then woke up moments before colliding with the rear of a stopped semi at the intersection of King Road, causing a chain reaction. Troopers say the collision caused a tank full of argon gas to spill from one of the trucks as they came to rest. Police say the argon gas is inert and was not a hazard to the public.  The man Injured in the crash was taken to Saint Joseph hospital in Plymouth and treated for injuries to his back and neck, police say....
   

Hospital Assessment Goes Up After Appeal

The Porter County Property Tax Assessment Board of Appeals Monday ruled that the first assessment for the new Porter Regional Hospital should have been higher than it was. The ruling comes after the hospital filed an appeal contending the 2012 assessment should have been lower. The president of the appeals board says the hospital opened the door to the increase by appealing the March 2012 assessed value of 34-million dollars, which officials have now increased to 117-million dollars.  The new hospital at State Road 49 and US 6, which opened in August 2012, has been described as the biggest construction project in Porter County since the steel mills went in....
   

Mega Millions at $586 Million

Tonight's Mega Millions jackpot estimate has been increased to $586 million.  Here are some fun facts courtesy of the Hoosier Lottery:
Notable Hoosier wins by family, friend or workplace pools
Some notable Hoosier jackpot wins, including the biggest prize ever won in the state and the only Mega Millions jackpot win in Indiana, have been by family members or co-workers who pooled their money and purchased tickets as a group.
Pools, also referred to as lottery clubs, are popular among Hoosiers.  Indiana's biggest jackpot, a $314 million Powerball win in Richmond in 2007, was a group of family members:  a father and his two grown children, who played Powerball twice a week together.
Indiana's only Mega Millions jackpot win to date was claimed by a group of five siblings, the Bolke family, who pooled their money and struck it rich in February 2011 with a $46.5 million winning ticket purchased in Munster.
Players interested in pooling their money and playing as a group may want to print a  Mega Millions Pool Form at hoosierlottery.com.
Other big Hoosier wins by groups include the following:
    Two southern Indiana co-workers, welders Darin Fox of Clarksville and Todd Reardon of Jeffersonville, both retired after they combined their money and won a $221.7 million Powerball jackpot in April 2011.
    A group calling themselves "The Lucky 13" claimed a $295 million Powerball prize on a ticket purchased in Richmond in July 1998.
    Two co-workers at CMA Supply in Fort Wayne claimed a $19 million Hoosier Lotto jackpot in September 2013. A group of six Columbus residents and friends who called themselves the "Thursday Lunch Six" claimed a $14 million Hoosier Lotto jackpot in August 2012.
    The "Amtrak 15" from Beech Grove shared a $34.5 million Hoosier Lotto jackpot in October 2010.
    Twenty-nine co-workers at Trailer Transit in Porter split a $2 million Powerball prize in August 2012.
    Ten co-workers at PRD in Bedford split a $1 million Powerball prize in September 2013.
    Two co-workers at Union Electric Steel in Valparaiso, Brad Hundt and Pamella Legler, combined their funds and won $1 million playing Powerball in May 2012.
    Five medical claims processors in Indianapolis split a $1 million prize in February of this year after pooling their money and matching the first five numbers in a Powerball drawing.
    Thirty-six City of Hammond employees shared a $250,000 Mega Millions prize in August of this year.
Tickets for the $586 million Mega Millions jackpot must be purchased by 10:44 p.m. Tuesday for the drawing, which is at approximately 11 p.m. They are available for $1 per wager at over 4,000 retailers across the state.
To avoid long lines at retail, players may want to purchase their tickets early.
The Hoosier Lottery reminds all players to play responsibly. Must be 18 or older to play.  Gambling Addiction Referral Line: 800-994-8448.  
ABOUT THE HOOSIER LOTTERY: Hoosier Lottery distributions benefit every county throughout Indiana. Each fiscal year, the Hoosier Lottery contributes $30 million to local police and firefighters' pensions, and $30 million to the Teacher's Retirement Fund. In fiscal year 2012, $147.6 million in Hoosier Lottery earnings helped reduce motor vehicle excise taxes by 50 percent.
To learn more about the Hoosier Lottery, visit www.hoosierlottery.com and follow on Facebook and Twitter....
   

Region Resident Celebrates her 105th birthday

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Ann Pamachena was four years old when the Titantic hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank on its maiden voyage. Fast forward to this last Friday, and Ann could be seen playing a piano (above photo) at her 105th Birthday celebration at Golden Living Center in Portage.
That is where the staff, management and voluteers at Asera Care Hospice and Palliative Medicine joined family and friends in celebrating the centenarian's
special day.
 
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Ryan Trzaskowski Asera's Executive Director says that everyone just wanted to "celebrate the moment" with  Ann.  
Trzaskowski wants everyone to know that hospice care is about living  "Although someone is facing the end of thier time here on earth that there is still a lot to be celebrated and a lot that hospice can bring to the quality of that time and we are certainly very privilidged to be a part of folks lives."

You can find out more about the birthday celebration online by clicking on the News Audio On Demand link at:  http://regionnewsteam.com
(photos courtesy of great nephew, Christopher Smith)...
   

Indiana Welcome Center Reaches Milestone

Indiana Welcome Center
On Saturday, the South Shore Visitors and Convention Authority welcomed their 3-millionth visitor to the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond. According to the South Shore CVA, Janette Patterson of downstate Greenwood, was on her way to Chicago with her family when she decided to make a stop to view the exhibits at the welcome center. After being given a gift basket full of items from South Shore CVA partners, including a gift certificate for an overnight stay, candy from Albanese and more Patterson remarked how great and nice the welcome center was to her.
The Indiana Welcome Center serves both residents and visitors to the South Shore area and first opened its doors in 1999.
(photo/ http://www.in.gov )...
   

Governor to Present 2014 Jobs and Economic Agenda

 Hoosiers might have a better idea of what to expect on the Indiana job front in 2014.  Governor Mike Pence is scheduled to detail his 2014 jobs and economic agenda during a keynote address one o'clock EST Tuesday at the Anderson Rotary meeting in Indianapolis. The venue he'll be speaking at, called "The Speak Easy," is a place for Indianapolis-based entrepreneurs and start ups to work and collaborate, according to a press release from the governor's office. ...
   

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