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Visclosky Urges PUC Grads to Stay in the Region

PUC GRADS
(Photos Courtesy of Nick Russ)
Friends and families packed the Hammond Civic Center today to witness the commencement of the Purdue University Calumet fall and summer graduates. Indiana Congressman Pete Visclosky in his commencement speech urged the new graduates to stay in the region, “find something that can be improved...be persistent, work cooperatively and be urgent.”
The dean of Indiana’s congressional delegation also encouraged the graduates to remain positive. “Don’t ever let someone tell you that you can’t!” he said. “. . . Have hope and undertake your journey with confidence and resolve.”   Purdue Calumet Student Government President Adam Cooper, representing the study body, added brief remarks, encouraging his former classmates “to become lifelong learners. . . Continuing to learn is an excellent and absolutely necessary way to stay ahead of the curve.”
The 907 fall graduates represent the largest fall graduating class in Purdue-Calumet history.
PUC COMENCEMENT ...
 

Don Snemis Named Next Commissioner of BMV

Gov Mike Pence
Starting Monday, January 6th, a new commissioner will be running the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Indiana Governor Mike Pence today named Donald Snemis the next Commissioner of the B-M-V. Snemis is a lawyer and a partner at Ice Miller LLP's Indianapolis office, where he concentrates on business and environmental litigation. Snemis has more than 25 years' experience practicing law in Indiana as well as state and federal courts across the country. He is a graduate of Ball State University (B.S. 1985) and earned his law degree from the University of Notre Dame Law School (J.D. 1988). Snemis is a lifelong Hoosier and currently resides in Indianapolis with his wife, Kimberly Snemis, and their two sons. ...
 

Protections maintained Against Traded Imports of Hot-Rolled Steel

donnelly
Indiana US Senator Joe Donnelly says he appreciates the International Trade Commission's decision today to maintain existing anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders against unfairly traded imports of hot-rolled steel. Donnelly issued a statement following the decision saying, “the steel industry supports over 150-thousand jobs in Indiana and is a critical component in our nation’s manufacturing sector. While good trade policies can create jobs and fuel economic growth, trade only works when everyone plays by the same rules.” Senator Donnelly testified before the International Trade Commission in October to emphasize the importance to Indiana’s steel industry of maintaining existing anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders against unfairly traded imports of hot-rolled steel....
 

Fire at Midwestern Steel Fabricators

hammond fire
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A fire Monday night at Midwestern Steel Fabricators caused significant damage and has left 22 employees out of work. Hammond Fire Department Deputy Chief Kevin Margraf says they received the first call at 8:40pm and had one engine company at the scene until 11am today as a precaution against any hot spots flaring up. Deputy Chief Margraf says the fire is under investigation but, due to the damage and the roof collapsing, a cause of the fire cannot be ascertained at this time. Most of the damage was done to a small section in the middle of the facility, which also houses the over-head cranes needed to do most of their work. Margraf says it depends on how fast the company moves forward on insurance and cause and origin as to when employees could get back to work.
No employees were in the building at the time of the fire and no firefighters were reported to be injured. ...
 

AG's to Congress: Fund Human Trafficking Programs

Indiana OAG Official Seal
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller co-sponsored a letter signed by 46 other attorneys general urging Congress to fund programs targeting human trafficking in the US. Zoeller's office reports Congress re-upped the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act in March, but has yet to fund its many programs including victim services. The US Department of health and Human Services reports human trafficking is tied as the second largest and fastest growing criminal industry in the world, just behind illegal drugs, with children often targeted as victims and the majority of sex trafficking victims in the US are US citizens. For more information about the Attorney General’s human trafficking prevention efforts visit www.in.gov/attorneygeneral. For a copy of the letter visit  http://www.naag.org/sign-on_archive.php....
 

Two Robbery Suspects Crash Vehicle During Getaway

portage pd
Authorities report two men who allegedly broke into a Portage home Monday night, robbed those inside and fled, later crashing their vehicle in Lake Station. Portage Police report the alleged robbery occurred around 10pm in the 54-hundred block of Osage, where the two suspects, one of which was reported to be armed, ordered the residents and guests in the home to lie face down in the kitchen while they stole money, ransacked the home and took the victims cell phones. One of the victims followed the suspect vehicle after they left the home until it crashed in Lake Station. Police report some of the stolen items were recovered and police searched for the two suspects, described as wearing masks and dressed in black, into the woods between 18th Avenue and I-94. ...
 

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

megamillions
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

valpo1
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.
valpo2
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.
valpo3
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

gavin
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

knightdarlingtoncollage
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....
   

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