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Water Main Break in Munster

Traffic-Advisory
Police in Munster say River Drive closed this morning between Monroe and Jefferson Avenues due to a water main break.  Repairs were being made.
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Gary Finalist in Hometown Host Contest

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A Lake County resident is among five finalists in the Hoosier Lottery's Hometown Host contest.  Hoosier Lottery live ball drawings will soon be back on the air throughout the state and the Hoosier Lottery and FOX59 in Indianapolis are conducting a statewide talent search to cast on-air draw talent.    Last week the public was invited to view the 20 semi-finalists' entries and vote for their favorite Hometown Host online at hoosierlottery.com or FOX59.com.  Hoosiers narrowed the list down to the top five finalists.
Those finalists are Heather Cruise of Fort Wayne, Robin La'Toya of Gary, Lisa Wright Minter of Indianapolis, Chayzee Smith of Indianapolis and Jennifer Wilkens of Anderson.  The finalists videos can be viewed at hoosierlottery.com.  The public is invited to watch the top five finalists audition live at the Indiana State Fair before a panel of local celebrity judges Friday, Aug. 16 at 5 p.m. in the Farm Bureau Building at the Indiana State Fair.
The Hometown Host winner will be expected to step into the role when Daily 3 and the Daily 4 live ball drawings begin airing statewide early this fall.
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Wheelchair Vehicle Manufacturer Expanding in NWI

A wheelchair lift and wheelchair vehicle manufacturer is expanding in Northwest Indiana.  The Braun Corporation has announced plans to expand their headquarters in Winamac, creating up to seventy new jobs by 2016.   The company will relocate production from its facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to Winamac.  The new production line, which is expected to be fully operational late next year, will allow Braun to convert additional Dodge, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota minivans into rear-entry, wheelchair accessible vehicles.   As part of the expansion, Braun will also install a new line to convert trucks and SUVs.  
"With their vision and drive, Hoosiers have a way of making the world a better place," said Governor Mike Pence. "Through Ralph Braun's ingenuity to develop new ways to expand mobility, he built a business and a legacy that helps expand opportunities for individuals around the world. I'm proud that as a state that works, Indiana provided the best business climate for Braun to build this company and help people maintain active lives, regardless of physical limitation."
"We are truly excited about what our growth plans mean for our customers, our employees, as well as the local community and the state of Indiana," said Nick Gutwein, president of Braun. "We firmly believe there is no better place to invest than Pulaski County. Here, in rural Indiana, we have been able to build a company over four decades with men and women who have a true desire to create the best products. They are skilled, possess a very strong work ethic and instinctively believe in putting customers first. This incredible workforce, combined with government policy by Indiana lawmakers who understand business and economic growth, continue to make Winamac our location of choice."
Founded in 1972 by Ralph Braun out of a desire to improve his own mobility, Braun designs and manufactures wheelchair lifts and wheelchair accessible vehicles. In addition to its Winamac headquarters, the company also has facilities located in Elkhart, Ind., Florida, Arizona and Sweden. Braun's products are distributed globally.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered The Braun Corporation up to $500,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants based on the company's job creation plans. These incentives are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. Pulaski County approved additional tax abatement at the request of Pulaski County Economic Development.
Braun, which currently has more than 800 full-time employees in Indiana, has already begun hiring additional production line associates and will fill engineering, management, information technology, sales, marketing and aftersales positions over the next year. Interested candidates can apply in person or visit www.braunability.com.
"With Braun's longstanding history in the community and the number of residents that they employ, it is obvious what a valuable component they are to Winamac and all of Pulaski County," said Jay Sullivan, president of the Pulaski County Council. "Pulaski County and Winamac celebrate this expansion and welcome this news of new jobs for Hoosiers and continued investment in our community, and we're excited to be able to assist and encourage them, now and in the future."
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Gas Prices Dropping

Have you filled up your car in the last few days? Chances are it cost you less.  New government figures show prices are down 7 cents in the past week and 16 cents compared to a year ago at this time. Gas Buddy analyst Tom Kloza says expect prices to stay lower. "We're going to be producing more oil in October than we're importing," Kloza said. "We haven't seen anything like that since the 1980's".  The biggest drop in the past week has been in the Midwest... and in Indiana the statewide average for a gallon of regular unleaded is about $3.45, according to Triple-A's Daily Fuel Gauge Report. In the Gary metropolitan area, the average is about 3-dollars-57 cents, nearly twenty-cents lower than a week ago.
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Whiting Mayor Hosting Forum

There's a public forum in Whiting tonight (Tue Aug 13, 2013).  Mayor Joe Stahura is hosting the get together, starting at 6-o'clock at the Whiting Community Center, to get feedback on city issues in general ... and to talk about a number of upcoming projects, including the rollout of the Stadium District plan and possible future opportunities for the Community Center on Clark Street.  Light refreshments will be served.
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Police Warn of Animal Control Impersonator

The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office and La Porte County Animal Control are warning Region residents about someone pretending to be an employee of the La Porte County Animal Shelter.   Similar incidents have recently been reported in Porter and Allen counties and the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public to immediately call 911 if it happens again.  On August 5, police say  a white van pulled into someone's driveway in rural Galena Township and the driver started talking about the size of the enclosure for livestock and saying the resident had forty-eight (48) hours to make necessary improvements or risk having the animals removed.    The impersonator was described as approximately 5’9” and about 180 pounds and having very dark hair and a black mustache. Police say the complainant added that it appeared as though the man had hair that may have been dyed black. 
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Train Summit to Discuss Amtrak Route

Region planners say a statewide “all aboard” is going out to draw attendance to a free Amtrak Summit, next Wednesday, August 21, in Lafayette, to discuss the pending loss of some Indiana passenger rail service.  The main focus will be the Amtrak Hoosier State Chicago to Indianapolis run, which could stop operating on October first if state funding is not secured. The Federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 requires state dollars rather than federal funding for passenger train routes of less than 750 miles.   Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) says the Indiana General Assembly’s current budget approved the Indiana Department of Transportation’s use of discretionary funds to support the Hoosier State, the department has not committed the monies. 
The Indianapolis/Chicago route, one of the busiest in the Midwest, carried 37,000 passengers in 2012. Currently both the Hoosier State and the Cardinal cover the route, together providing service seven days a week, with two local stops in Dyer, and Rensselaer, as well as Lafayette and Crawfordsville.
Registration begins with a train whistle at 8 a.m., with opening summit remarks by Indiana State Senator Brandt Hershman at 8:30 a.m., at Faith Community Center, 5526 State Road 26 East, Lafayette, Ind. The center is just east of the Interstate 65/State Road 26 interchange. Reservations are not required for the free event, but appreciated, by calling (765) 742-4044 or responding at http://tinyurl.com/ktdsc5t .
“Time is running short,” said Joseph Seaman, president and chief executive officer of Greater Lafayette Commerce, an area economic development group that is spearheading a group of numerous communities and organizations involved in hosting the summit.
“This summit will bring together interested parties so the best course of action for Indiana can be determined and actions taken,” Seaman said.  
Speakers and panelists include government, community and industry representatives. Among them are Ray Lang, Amtrak’s senior director of state and local government affairs; keynote speaker Tim Hoeffner, director of the Office of Rail, Michigan Department of Transportation, and vice chair, Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission; and Randy Truitt, 26th District State Representative.
Among the industry representatives participating in a panel discussion are Eric Angermeier, Nanshan America general manager, and Fred Lanahan, Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association. Government speakers include mayors Todd Baron, Crawfordsville; John Dennis, West Lafayette; Tony Roswarski, Lafayette; and Stephen Wood, Rensselaer. Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh and others also will present.
The Indianapolis/Chicago route, one of the busiest in the Midwest, carried 37,000 passengers in 2012. Currently both the Hoosier State and the Cardinal cover the route, together providing service seven days a week, with stops in Crawfordsville, Dyer, Lafayette and Rensselaer, Ind..
If the Hoosier State is dropped, the Cardinal will be the only train on the route, running from Indianapolis to Chicago on Monday, Thursday and Saturday, and from Chicago to Indianapolis on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
“We encourage attendance from all over the state,” Seaman said. “What happens on October 1 could impact the future of high-speed rail service, quality-of-life enhancement efforts in the state, business and employee recruitment, the tax base, and state and local economies. Whatever happens, we want it to be a proactive decision, not simply an expiration of a deadline that went unaddressed.”
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Governor Announces Trade Mission to Japan

Gov Mike Pence
Indiana Governor Mike Pence will lead a delegation of Hoosier business leaders and elected officials on his first gubernatorial overseas jobs and economic development mission to Japan – the state's largest Asian trading partner.  Indiana is the only U.S. state that is home to three Japanese original equipment manufacturer automotive companies, Subaru, Toyota and Honda. The governor will leave September 5 and return September 14.
Nearly 44-thousand Hoosiers are employed by more than two-hundred Japanese companies statewide.  The Governor's Office say the cost of the state delegation is being covered entirely through private donations to the Indiana Economic Development Foundation.
“From leading automotive manufacturers to their diverse array of suppliers, Japan’s top companies have found homes across all corners of the Hoosier State,” said Pence.  “Our administration aims to continue to nurture and grow the strong bond between Indiana and Japan that dates back nearly 100 years and has led to more than 42,000 Hoosier jobs in recent years. I look forward to renewing our commitment to Japan, opening doors for new investment and jobs in Indiana and telling the story of Indiana as a state that works in America.”
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Vandalism Spree in Portage

Numerous cars... including a Portage squad and an unmarked Porter County Sheriffs Department car... were damaged in a vandalism spree in Portage early Saturday, and police are asking for the public's help.  Authorities say several signs, sidewalks and garage doors were also spray-painted in the area of Olsen Park and at the Savannah Heights subdivision. Portage Police detectives are also reviewing surveillance footage.
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Investigation Begins at Mt Baldy Using EPA Equipment

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(A white rod marks the location on Mt Baldy where a 6 year old boy became trapped in the dune)

The National Park Service, in partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency, began an on-site investigation Monday morning at Mount Baldy, in Michigan City, using ground-penetrating radar equipment to determine why an incident occurred one month ago to-the-day when a six-year-old boy was swallowed up on the giant dune, and buried under eleven-feet of sand for three-and-a-half hours before being rescued.   Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Public Information Officer Bruce Rowe says Mt Maldy will remain closed for reasons of public safety until they understand the science behind what caused the incident to occur in the first place.  Rowe thanked the E-P-A for providing the equipment necessary to conduct this portion of their investigation, which Francisco Arcaute, EPA Region Five Spokesman, says provides a series of images up to 30 feet under the ground, much like an ultrasound. 
mt baldy park closed
Rowe says after the incident received so much publicity, they received information of two similar incidents, one from a man who stepped into a hole at Mt Baldy many years ago that went up to his knees, and another from a person in southwestern Michigan, who was on a private dune, who reported seeing a hole similar to the one on July 12th a couple of years ago, but in both cases, the incidents had not been reported until now.
mt baldy equip
Authorities say the equipment will be at the site as long as necessary, and will cover a vast majority of the 42 acre dune, but until a reason for why a hole opened up in the first place can be ascertained, Mt. Baldy remains closed to the public.   To hear the press conference, click News Audio On Demand at http://regionnewsteam.com/
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30 Year Old EC Man May Have Had Heart Attack

A 30 year old East Chicago man who died about an hour after being rescued in the waters of Lake Michigan Sunday may have suffered a heart attack after being thrown off the person watercraft he was operating. Indiana Conservation Police report they responded to a call of an unresponsive man at the Hammond Marina, at approximately 4:15pm.  A preliminary investigation determined Wilson was operating the vehicle in the area with two to three foot waves, when both he and his passenger were thrown off, and while struggling to stay afloat, Wilson fell unconscious.  An autopsy was conducted this morning and according to preliminary findings, Wilson died as a result of drowning with complications due to existing medical conditions. Authorities say both Wilson and his passenger were wearing Coast Guard approved person flotation devices.
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Portage PD Seek Public's Help in Gas Station Shooting

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Police in Portage are seeking the public's help after a man was shot outside of his vehicle, at a gas station on US 6 and Swanson Road late Saturday afternoon.  Police say the 33 year old drove himself to the hospital and that his injuries were non-life threatening.  Anyone who was in the vicinity of the incident, which occurred around 4:45pm Saturday, is asked to contact the Portage Police Department.

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LaPorte PD Wanted Person of the Week: Jason Stevens

Jason Stevens
(Photo Courtesy of the LaPorte Police Dept)

A 37 year old man wanted through LaPorte Circuit Court of felony receiving stolen property and revocation of suspended sentence for an original charge of felony theft is the LaPorte Police Department's Wanted Person of the Week. Jason Stevens is described as a white male, 5'10”, weighing 160 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.  Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Jason Stevens is asked to contact the LaPorte Police Department at (219) 362-9446 or LaPorte County Metro Operations at (219) 325-9022 and you can remain anonymous.
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US Marshals Fugitive of the Week: Artez Brewer

artez brewer
(Photo Courtesy of the US Marshals Service)

A 26 year old man wanted in Porter County Court for felony burglary is this week's U-S Marshals Service, Great Lakes Task Force Fugitive of the Week.  Artez Brewer is described as a black male, 5'11”, weighing 184 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes and was last known to reside in the 44-hundred block of Ash Avenue in Hammond.  Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Artez Richard Brewer may contact task force investigators by calling toll-free (888) 805-6119 or by texting “capture” to Tip411 (847411). All tipsters will remain anonymous.
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Pregnant Woman Rescued in Lake Michigan Sunday

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A pregnant woman was rescued Sunday afternoon after she fell off her personal watercraft and was unable to climb back on board near Washington Park in Michigan City. Coast Guard officials report they received the call after 12:30pm, and launched a rescue boat which found the woman and transported her to the station, where once on shore, Michigan City Fire emergency medical services determined that the woman did not require any medical assistance.  The Coast Guard says incidents like these illustrate the importance of having effective emergency communication devices aboard vessels.

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Report Shows Impact of Borman Expressway Upgrades

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LAKE COUNTY, Ind. – A joint report published by Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) traffic engineers and Purdue University researchers shows improvements in I-80/I-94 travel speeds upon completion of Borman Expressway widening and reconstruction in September 2011. The 2012 Indiana Mobility Report also ranks congestion on Indiana’s interstates, including increases or reductions in travel time.
The report indicates that Indiana’s transportation infrastructure continues to improve, with most occurrences of significant congestion attributable to construction, severe weather and nonrecurring incidents. Since 2011, congestion on Indiana’s interstate system was reduced by 6 to 18 percent.
Making year-over-year comparisons and studying heavily traveled commuter corridors, such as U.S. 30 in Northwest Indiana, improves upon the 2011 Indiana Interstate Mobility Report, which was recognized last week at the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) Annual Meeting in Boston. ITE’s Management & Operations/Intelligent Transportation Systems Council presented INDOT with its 2013 Project Achievement Award. The award recognizes the development or implementation of notable projects that demonstrate the use of Intelligent Transportation Systems technologies to benefit society by improving mobility. 
Third-party data providers such as INRIX collect anonymous speed records from navigation systems, mobile phones and other electronics, and then disseminate this information as traffic alerts on GPS devices or red-yellow-green overlays for online and local media traffic reports. INDOT and Purdue partnered under their Joint Transportation Research Program to analyze billions of anonymous speed records compiled from road segments statewide.
The innovative mobility performance measures are intended as a planning tool to help INDOT and policymakers shape future infrastructure investment priorities, and the measures were presented last week to a joint study committee of the Indiana General Assembly.
In 1937, the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation that led to the formation of what is now known as the Joint Transportation Research Program (JTRP) to facilitate collaboration between INDOT and Purdue University. JTRP research projects help INDOT identify and implement innovation opportunities that solve Indiana’s transportation challenges, and the program has been recognized nationally as a model for interaction between government, academia and industry. More than 1,500 technical reports are available for free through a unique collaboration between JTRP and Purdue Libraries.
The 2012 Indiana Mobility Report and the inaugural 2011 report are available at http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/imr.

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Cook Co Jail Officer Charged in Hammond Homicide

A Cook County Correctional Officer is in the Lake County Jail after an alleged road rage incident left one man dead in Hammond Thursday night.  A 23-year-old East Chicago man was killed.  Hammond Police say the fatal shooting occurred on Indianapolis Boulevard in far north Hammond, and 23-year-old Montrell Moss was pronounced dead at an area hospital less than an hour later. On Saturday, authorities say 61-year-old Edgar Singleton was charged with one count of murder.  The Sheriffs Office in Cook County says the suspect has been de-deputized and the sheriffs office is in the process of terminating his employment.
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Idlebox Available to Region Fleets

South Shore Clean Cities has launched a toolkit called “Idlebox” meant to help companies learn how to reduce the amount of time idling for many vehicles and cut the amount of pollution sent into the air. Executive Director Carl Lisek says IdleBox is a resource that provides information and solutions for light- and medium-duty vehicles typically used in urban-based fleets.  To hear our interview with Lisek visit News Audio on Demand here at our website.
"Idlebox includes a variety of tools from the U.S. Department of Energy, such as fact sheets, signs, posters and idling calculators, to help fleets implement idling reduction," said Lisek, who also is an executive at Purdue Research Park-based Legacy Environmental Services.  "Reducing unnecessary idling can be easy to put into practice and often requires no, or little, financial investment."
Idlebox resources are available as ready-to-use print products or customizable templates at the Clean Cities' website, or by contacting South Shore Clean Cities at 219-644-3690. South Shore Clean Cities is an initiative of the Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
The Department of Energy's Alternative Fuels Data Center reports that more than 685 million gallons of diesel fuel are wasted annually as heavy-duty trucks idle. With the price of diesel around $4 per gallon, idling costs more than $2 billion each year.
Additionally, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that burning a gallon of diesel fuel produces more than 22 pounds of carbon dioxide, although that total is reduced to about 20 pounds for biodiesel.

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Silver Alert Canceled

Authorities say Indiana Silver Alert #010-2013 issued on August 11, 2013 for Willard F. Farmer has been cancelled as of 7:45 am today EST. This cancellation was requested by the White County Sheriff. Police say Farmer has been located. No other information was released.
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Man's Death Investigated

Hammond, Lake County, Indiana DNR and U.S. Coast Guard officials are investigating the death of an East Chicago man.  The Lake County Coroners office reports 30-year-old Bobby Wilson was pronounced dead just after 5:30 Sunday evening and cause of death was pending.  He reportedly had fallen off a jet ski about an hour earlier.
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