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Pelath: Bennett Review is Taking Too Long

The Indiana House Democratic Leader sent a letter today to the state Inspector General inquiring why an investigation of former state schools Superintendent Tony Bennett is taking so long. Scott Pelath, of Michigan City, says Hoosiers have waited long enough for the report and the Inspector General's review has taken twice as long as a legislative review released in September. Bennett has requested the Inspector General confirm that his changing of 165 school grades, 22 of which were in northwest Indiana, was not wrong. The legislature's review of the incident found Bennett's actions were plausible due to gaps in the rating standards for schools with non-traditional grade groupings. ...

Pence Announces Agreement with Amtrak

Indiana Governor Mike Pence this afternoon announced the state has reached an agreement in principal with Amtrak and local communities to keep the Hoosier State passenger rail service operating four days a week between Indianapolis and Chicago. INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield says once the agreement between the state and the local communities along the route, which include Rensselear, are signed, monthly payments will renew the existing service for one-year with an option for an additional four-months.
Wingfield says the agreement also allows the state and local partners to monitor ridership and explore service improvements to ensure long-term viability. Indiana was the final state to reach an agreement and the deadline to get a deal done was tomorrow (Wednesday). Congress voted in 2008 to end federal support for Amtrak routes of less than 750 miles, which includes the Hoosier State passenger rail service.
More information about the Amtrak Hoosier State service, including a cost-benefit analysis of schedule and frequency options, is available at

Two Drug Busts and Weapons Seizure

Corey Reed
(Corey Reed; Photos Courtesy of the Lake County Sheriff's Office)
The Lake County Sheriff's Office announced today two drug busts and a weapons seizure from last week. On Tuesday, October 8th, the Lake County Gang Unit recovered six-weapons during an investigation of local gang activity and placed them into evidence and an investigation continues. On Thursday, October 10th, the Sheriff's Department Drug Task Force arrested 38 year old Corey Reed, of Gary, who allegedly had 43-hundred grams of cocaine in his possession, worth in excess of 500-thousand dollars, as well as 38-thousand dollars cash. On Friday, October 11th, two Ohio men were stopped on I-90 on the Indiana Toll Road, at mile marker 21, and after consenting to a vehicle search, 22 bales of packaged marijuana weighing 25 pounds each were found. Arrested were 23 year old Miguel Perez and 33 year old Francisco Martinez, who were both charged with one-count of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and taken to the lake County Jail.
Miguel Perez-Mendoza
(Miguel Perez)
Francisco Martinez
(Francisco Martinez)...

East Chicago Gas Leak Repaired

Officials in East Chicago evacuated residents from about 50 homes in a neighborhood near Emlyn Place and Tod Avenue around 11:30 this morning. A construction crew struck a gas main while installing a water main. NIPSCO reports gas was not shutoff to homes and the gas main has since been repaired. ...

Backups on US 30 Due to Crash

Traffic tipsters are reporting a crash on US 30 in front of the Shorewood Forest subdivision entrance. One access lane is reportedly open in each direction. No information regarding any injuries at last check, but ambulance, police and fire departments are reported to be at the scene....

Accident Blocks Lanes on I-94

The Indiana Department of Transportation says the right two lanes of eastbound Interstate 94 in Porter County near US 20 in the Porter/Burns Harbor area are blocked due to crash.  A caller told us the accident was east of State Road 149. The crash reportedly involves injuries. INDOT says anticipate delays as you travel eastbound on I-94 near mile marker 22....


The Governor's Great Pumpkin Patch

The South Lawn of the Indiana Statehouse is turning into the Governor's Great Pumpkin Patch for ninety-minutes today [Tuesday 11:30 a.m. EDT to 1:00 p.m. EDT. ] Governor Mike Pence, Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, and Cabinet members are helping with the sale of pumpkins as well as cookies and apple cider to benefit the Midwest Food Bank as part of the 2013-2014 State Employees’ Community Campaign (SECC). Pumpkins of various sizes will be for sale, provided by Tragesser Pumpkin Farms of Atlanta, Indiana at no charge.[Photo/Governor's Office]...

Highland Approves New Police Station

The Highland Town Council Monday night unanimously said yes to building a new police station. The new Public Safety Facility will be next to Town Hall, off Ridge Road at Cottage Grove Avenue. Highland Police Commander George Georgeff told the Region News Team earlier the current facility was built in the late sixties, and they've run out of space. The current station is literally in the basement at Town Hall. Work is expected to be complete by the middle of 2015. ...

Teen Arrested on Molestation Charge

michigan city police
Michigan City Police today announced an 18-year-old man hss been arrested at the Blue Chip Casino hotel on a charge of child molesting. Authorities say police were dispatched last Wednesday afternoon to meet with Indiana Gaming Commission Agents and Blue Chip security on the report of an eleven-year-old girl missing from Michigan. Authorities say the missing girl was located in the company of the suspect inside a hotel room.  Both were reported to have minor injuries. Police say this is an ongoing investigation covering two states and several law enforcement jurisdictions, and future charges are possible.
Here is the news release from Michigan City Police:
Wednesday October 9th, 2013 about 1:45PM Michigan City Police were dispatched to Blue Chip hotel to meet with Indiana Gaming Commission Agents and Blue Chip security. This was to locate an 11year old female that was reported missing from the state of Michigan.
      Upon arrival law enforcement went to the room, it was confirmed to be occupied but police got no cooperation from the occupants of the room.  Facts were confirmed again and entry had to be forced into the room.
      Once inside a missing 11yr old was located and she was in the company of an 18 year old male named Daniel Ivan Cabrera-Pozadas, both had minor injuries and the juvenile was transported to Franciscan St. Anthony hospital and later interviewed by the Michigan City Police department.
     There was an indication that there may have been sexual activity that occurred in the room and Cabrera-Pozadas was taken to the Michigan City police department where he was charged with Child Molesting Class B Felony in Laporte Superior Court #1.  Cabrera-Pozadas was later transferred to the hospital for treatment.
      This is an ongoing investigation that covers two states and several law enforcement jurisdictions. Future charges are possible.
      The case has been assigned to Detective Jillian Ashley.
      Arrested parties are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. ...

Bus Rolls Over South of Lowell

In Lake County, an early morning bus rollover a couple miles south of Lowell resulted in the driver being extricated and taken to a local hospital. Indiana State Police say just before 1:30 this morning a bus owned by North American Charter Lines out of Bolingbrook, Illinois, was north bound in the right lane at the 238 mile marker when it went off the road and came to rest on its passenger side, against the center strand barrier cable. There were no passengers onboard. Troopers say the driver, a 41-year-old Chicago man, stated he had probably fallen asleep, telling officers he was driving in the right lane then woke up in a ditch. Authorities say he suffered non-life-threatening injuries to his shoulder and head. One lane was closed for over two hours. Police say the driver was cited for failure to retain his previous seven days log and for unsafe lane movement. [Photo/Indiana State Police]...

Valpo May Acquire Big Dome and Old Home

Valparaiso is taking steps toward tearing down a historic building damaged by fire in July. The city will get an appraisal of the Needle and Thread site at Lafayette and Jefferson Street to buy the building in hopes of turning the property into a free parking lot for the downtown area.
Meanwhile, the city is also reportedly eyeing a highly-visible structure off of State Road 49. According to the Times today, the Redevelopment Commission has tentatively earmarked funds in its draft budget for 2014 to demolish the former Natural Ovens Bakery dome, which has sat empty for several years, so the property could be prepped for new development. It could go up for tax sale, and possibly eventually end up being deeded to Valparaiso. The Natural Ovens plant opened in 2003 and closed less than two years later in the midst of a surge in popularity in low-carb diets....


Informational Pickets Continue

In Calumet Township, teachers in the Lake Ridge school system continue holding informational pickets to protest proposed cuts to salary and benefits. Yesterday, teachers stood outside the school administration building on Ridge Road before the School Board meeting last night. The Lake Ridge Federation of Teachers president, who teaches at Calumet High School New Tech, issued a statement last week saying they've had no part in budget discussions. Lake Ridge Schools Superintendent released a statement earlier saying there were public budget talks held earlier, and that the district is facing financial shortfalls due to less money coming in from the state and from property tax collections. ...

Merrillville Eyeing Properties

In Merrillville, officials continue developing the town's historic district, which could eventually include the former Old Mill pizzeria property at 73rd and Madison and former Carriage House antique store nearby. The town is reportedly looking at acquiring the vacant buildings, remodeling them, and renting them out, for possible future businesses like coffee shops or art studios.
There's been concern in Merrillville over empty, abandoned properties in general, many of which have fallen into states of disrepair, including a number of homes. ...

Central US Earthquake Drill set forThursday Oct. 17th

One of the largest earthquakes in U.S. history occurred in the Central part of the country a little over 200 years ago--a quake so big it reversed the course of the Mississippi River while the earth quivered.  Seismologists say there's a chance another quake as intense could strike the central United States.  To help Hoosiers prepare the Indiana Department of Homeland Security will hold the Great Central US Shake Out earthquake drill on Thursda, October 17, 2013 at 10:17 a.m. local time. According to emergency officials and first responders, when an earthquake hits you should drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy table or desk and hold on until the shaking stops.   

Earthquake drill  
(graphic:  provided by

Individuals, schools and organizations are being asked to sign up online to participate in the drill.  John Erickson of the department of homeland security says, once registered, participants will receive information about showcase events in their area and regular information on how to plan their drill and become better prepared for earthquakes and other disasters.
Erickson told Region News that he was proud of the fact that of all ten states in the central U.S., participating in the drill, Indiana leads the way for people registered to participate in the drill.  According to, as of 5p.m. CDT Monday, October 14, 2013, 531,827 Hoosiers have registered so far with the next closest state, in number and proximity, Illinois, reporting 486,556 individuals have signed up.
USGS earthquake hazard map  
(graphic provided by )
  To register for the earthquake drill to be held on Thursday, October 17, 2013 or more information visit:
Official rescue teams who have been dispatched to the scene of earthquakes and other disasters around the world continue to advocate use of the internationally recognized "Drop, Cover and Hold On" protocol to protect lives during earthquakes:
•DROP to the ground (before the earthquake drops you!), •Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table, and •HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.
If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building. Do not try to run to another room just to get under a table.
These are general guidelines for most situations. Depending on where you are (in bed, driving, in a theater, etc.), you might take other actions, as described in Recommended Earthquake Safety Actions .
The main point is to not try to move but to  immediately protect yourself as best as possible where you are. Earthquakes occur without any warning and may be so violent that you cannot run or crawl; you therefore will most likely be knocked to the ground where you happen to be. You will never know if the initial jolt will turn out to be start of the big one. You should Drop, Cover, and Hold On immediately!
In addition, studies of injuries and deaths caused by earthquakes in the U.S. over the last several decades indicate that you are much more likely to be injured by falling or flying objects (TVs, lamps, glass, bookcases, etc.) than to die in a collapsed building. Drop, Cover, and Hold On offers the best overall level of protection in most situations.
As with anything, practice makes perfect. To be ready to protect yourself immediately when the ground begins to shake, practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On as children do in school at least once each year.
According to here is What NOT to do: 
DO NOT get in a doorway! An early earthquake image of California is a collapsed adobe home with the door frame as the only standing part. From this came our belief that a doorway is the safest place to be during an earthquake. In modern houses and buildings, doorways are no safer, and they do not protect you from flying or falling objects. Get under a table instead!
DO NOT run outside! Trying to run in an earthquake is dangerous, as the ground is moving and you can easily fall or be injured by debris or glass. Running outside is especially dangerous, as glass, bricks, or other building components may be falling. You are much safer to stay inside and get under a table.


Man With Muscular Dystrophy Finishes Marathon

The Chicago Marathon started Sunday morning, but for one runner it didn't finish until early today. 38 year old Venezuelan Maickel Melamed crossed the finished line in Chicago around 1:30 in the morning, guided by the cheers of dozens of people. Melamed suffers from muscular dystrophy. He finished the 26.2 mile race in 16 hours a 46 minutes. The time wasn't officially recorded, as the time mats had already been taken down. He has previously run marathons in New York and Berlin. ...

2 University of Chicago Professors Win Nobel Prize

Two University Of Chicago professors have won a Nobel Prize for Economics. ABC News reports 60 year old Lars Peter Hansen developed a statistical method to test theories of asset pricing. He says he was walking his dog, when he got the call. Eugene Fama, who's been at the University of Chicago for more than 50 years, is known as the the father of efficient market hypothesis. He was asked if he ever thought as a young economist he'd be in this place... "I thought about how I'd feed my family...(laughing)" He won't have to worry about that any more. The Nobel Prize comes with a 1.2 million dollar reward. ...

Cedar Lake Police Invesigating Home Burglary/Fire

Cedar lake Metro PD
Cedar Lake Police are seeking help from residents after a house in the 136-hundred block of Cardinal Lane was broken into and a fire was set. Police say at approximately 11:40am Sunday, they received a call from the homeowner saying he returned from being out-of-town to find the rear door of his residence had been kicked in. Officers arrived and entered the home, only to encounter large amounts of black smoke and a couch on fire in the lower level of the residence. Firefighters were called to the scene and authorities report it appears the fire had been smoldering for several hours and may have burnt itself out. Anyone with information, or if anyone saw anything suspicious between 3pm on October 12th to 11am October 13th, is asked to contact Cedar Lake Police....


Chicago Man Arrested for Illegal Buying/Selling Wildlife

illegal buying and selling wildlife
(Photo Courtesy of Indiana Conservation Police)
A 47 year old Chicago man has been arrested in Starke County for illegally buying and selling wildlife. Conservation Police report officers served search warrants late this morning in Hamlet, at Alexander Moy's Starke County property, known as the Kankakee Valley Fish Farm, for evidence related to illegal wildlife sales, and various equipment and animal species used in the illegal operation were reportedly located at the property and seized as evidence. Authorities say their investigation of Moy began in 2011, after they received complaints Moy allegedly purchased whitetail deer from members of the public and during the course of their investigation they learned Moy was actively reselling the wildlife to markets and restaurants in Chicago's China-town. Conservation Police say an investigation continues which could lead to more arrests.
If anyone has information regarding this investigation, or has information on the illegal taking, possessing, or selling of wildlife; please contact the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Law Enforcement Division. You can report any fish and game violation to your local Conservation Officer’s District Office, or the IDNR Tip Hotline at: 1-800-TIP-IDNR....


IUNW Alumni Assoc. hosts Chicago Chocolate Tour

Paulette La Fata-Johnson IUNW
Chocolate lovers, the Alumni Association of Indiana University Northwest invites you to take a tour of Chicago Chocolatiers on Saturday, October 19th.  Alumni Director Paulette LaFata-Johnson says the all-day bus tour begins at the Macy's Frango Mint Viewing Kitchen with "sweet" stops along a five to seven-block walk.  Tour goers will then be given about three hours free time at Water Tower Place before heading back to the university at around 5p.m.

LaFata-Johnson says the $70 fee includes bus transportation to and from I-U Northwest, box lunch, tour, samples and a "chocolate challenge." She says there will also be two door prizes one of which is a chocolate basket to be given away.  Paid Alumni members will receive a discount. 
For tickets, or more information, contact the IU Northwest Office of Alumni Relations at (219) 980-6769 or a rel="nofollow" href="http:
You cna hear more about the tour by clicking on and selecting the News Audio On Demand link.
(photo:  Paulette La Fata-Johnson, Alumni Director, Indiana University Northwest; )

Another Suspect Charged in 2012 Double Homicide

sanchez alejandro
(Photo Courtesy of the Porter County Sheriff's Office)
A 21 year old Hammond man was formally charged today in an April 2012 double-homicide. The Porter County Sheriff's Office reports Alejandro Sanchez was picked up by police on Friday afternoon and charged today with two-counts of murder in the shooting deaths of Jeffery Trinka and Jennifer Guinn. Authorities report the double homicide occurred in the 15-hundred block of West Lincolnway, during the early morning hours of April 7th, 2012, on the southwestern fringe of Valparaiso. A November 4th trial date has already been scheduled for another suspect in this case, 20 year old Julius Garza, of Hammond, who is also charged with two-counts of murder....

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Region News Team
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