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House Fires in Hammond Intentionally Started

Investigators suspect two vacant house fires in Hammond, with no working utilities in either home, were started intentionally early Monday, not connected. The Times reports the first fire took place in the 57-hundred block of Erie Street, just before midnight, and a second house fire took place around 3am, in the 700 block of Sibley Street, less than a mile away.
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Region City Mayor Asks Residents to Purple Up

Michigan City mayor, Ron Meer has proclaimed April "The Month of the Military Child" in the city.  Mayor Meer says, "each day when we wake up, we should think about and give thanks to all of our military men and women who are serving to protect our lives and our freedoms" and to also, "think about the sacrifices and the lives they have to leave behind, mainly their children."

The mayor says that children of our brave men and women serving in the United States military face challenges and stress presented by frequent moves, parental deployments, and other life traditions and adds, "in a way, military children serve our country right alongside their parents."

Throughout the month of April, Mayor Meer is asking the residents of Michigan City to "purple up" and wear something purple as a small way of recognizing and supporting "our military children."
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New K-9 Apollo Donated to Michigan City Police Dept.

The Michigan City Police Department introduced new K-9 Officer Greg Radiger and the department's newest K-9, a German Shepard named Apollo, during a press conference Monday afternoon. Sergeant Chris Yagelski says Radiger has been with the force for the last five-years, in the patrol division, but says a very generous donation of almost 12-thousand dollars by Mrs. Pat Parry, in honor of her deceased husband, Dave Parry, a former NFL official, helped make today's introduction possible. For information, visit “News Audio On Demand”, at regionnewsteam-dot-com.
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Harsh Winter Impacts Region and Nation's Blood Supply

A large portion of the country's blood supply has been impacted by a harsh winter. The American Red Cross says since the beginning of February, winter weather has forced the cancellation of over 425 Red Cross blood drives, leading to a shortfall of more than 16-thousand blood donations through the Red Cross, potentially affecting nearly 50-thousand hospital patients. The Red Cross encourages eligible donors to give blood to offset the current shortage. All blood types are needed, but especially O negative, B negative and A negative.   Rh-negative blood types can be transfused to both Rh-positive and Rh-negative patients. Type O negative blood is universal and can potentially be transfused to patients with any blood type.
 
Here are just a few examples of patients who received blood products donated through the American Red Cross:
·         A new mother received 32 units of red blood cells, 15 units of cryoprecipitate, 10 units of platelets and 10 units of plasma after complications from childbirth.
·      A patient undergoing a cyst removal received 60 units of red blood cells and 9 units of platelets.
·      A kidney transplant patient received 30 units of red blood cells and 40 units of plasma.
 
It is the blood on the shelves today that are available for patients tomorrow. To schedule an appointment, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or go to redcrossblood.org to find a blood drive opportunity near you.
 
UPCOMING AMERICAN RED CROSS BLOOD DRIVES IN YOUR AREA:
  • Thursday, April 4, from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. at the American Reformed Church in the Fellowship Hall, located at 1021 S. Halleck St. in Demotte.
  • Friday, April 5, from 1:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church of Portage in the Fellowship Hall, located at 2637 McCool Road in Portage.
  • Saturday, April 6, from 9:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at the Lowell Public Library in the program room, located at 1505 East Commercial Avenue in Lowell.
 
How to Donate Blood
To schedule an appointment to donate please call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org for more information. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental permission in Indiana and Ohio), meet weight and height requirements (110 pounds or more, depending on their height) and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. Please bring your Red Cross blood donor card or other form of positive ID when you come to donate.
 
About the American Red Cross
American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.
Amer. Red Cross
 ( https://www.facebook.com/redcross )
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Gary Housing Authority Names Interim Housing Director

On March 28, the Board of the Directors for the Gary Housing Authority (GHA) Board named Mary Cossey as Interim Director. Cossey, who heads the Mayor’s Office of Constituent Services, arrives at GHA with a mission of working with the Board to identify a permanent Executive Director, address the needs of current and potential residents and assist the authority in the implementation of a plan designed to guide the GHA out of its troubled status.”
For the last ten years, the GHA has been listed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s as a troubled agency. Board Chair Michael Brown indicated that the Board has renewed its efforts to focus on the needs of residents while tightening the fiscal reins of the organization. “Mary Cossey comes to GHA at a critical time. She is a proven human resources professional, problem-solver, with experience in real estate and property preservation,” said Brown. “She also comes to GHA with the ability to meet the needs of the most vulnerable with limited resources.” Cossey joins the Authority after Interim Director Delvert Cole advised the Board of his decision to pursue other professional endeavors.
Cossey was recommended to the Board on an interim basis by Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. “We are grateful to Delvert Cole for his willingness to lead GHA during a very difficult period. With his departure, there was a void,” said Freeman-Wilson. “I knew GHA residents needed a person who would put their needs first while working to address the organizational challenges identified by HUD and a myriad of technical assistance providers. Mary does a great job coordinating the city’s response to a wide range of constituents’ needs, and she will bring the same tenacity to GHA.” In addition to holding a Master’s in Business Administration and real estate license, Cossey’s work history includes serving in a management capacity at community-based organizations and a youth residential facility, property preservation contracting, grant writing and grant management.
Mayor Freeman-Wilson also commended the Board’s development of a plan contemplated to move GHA forward and off the troubled agency list. “This Board is working diligently to provide clean, safe and secure housing for GHA residents and they have developed a plan to reduce vacancies and the wait list while improving the quality of life for citizens. They have been steadfast in their efforts, and I am very appreciative for their dedication.” Existing staff will work together to ensure that current projects and tasks move forward in the Mayor’s Office of Constituent services are done during Cossey’s absence. Cossey begins the role of Interim Director today.
(Article provided by City of Gary Department of Communications)
City of Gary
(http://www.garyhousing.org)
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Today's Settlement to Reduce Harmful Pollution in NWI

The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that Dominion Energy has agreed to pay a $3.4 million civil penalty and spend approximately $9.8 million on environmental mitigation projects to resolve Clean Air Act (CAA) violations. 
The settlement will result in reductions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter by more than 70,000 tons per year, across three of the utility’s coal-fired power plants, located in Kincaid, Ill., State Line, Ind., and Somerset, Mass.
“This settlement limits power plant emissions in northwest Indiana and central Illinois – and requires Dominion to fund environmental mitigation work, including projects that will improve air quality near Chicago rail yards and protect lands around the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore,” said Susan Hedman, EPA Region 5 Administrator.
“This settlement will improve air quality in states in the Midwest and Northeast by eliminating tens of thousands of tons of harmful air pollution each year,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.  “These reductions mark the latest step in our continuing efforts, along with EPA, to protect public health and the environment through rigorous enforcement of the Clean Air Act.”
Under the settlement, Dominion must install or upgrade pollution control technology on two plants, and permanently retire the State Line plant in Hammond, which the energy company permanently shut down one year ago.  Dominion will be required to continuously operate the new and existing pollution controls, and will be required to comply with stringent emission rates and annual tonnage limitations. The actions taken by Dominion to comply with this settlement will result in annual reductions at the Brayon Point and Kincaid plants of sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions by 52,000 tons from 2010 levels. The retirement of the State Line plant will result in an additional reduction of 18,000 tons of SO2 and NOx.
The settlement also requires Dominion to spend $9.75 million on projects that will benefit the environment and human health in communities located near the Dominion facilities.  A total of $9 million will be spent on such projects as ; 1) wood stove changeouts, including $2 million for changeouts in southeastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and eastern Connecticut;  2) switcher locomotive idle reduction for Chicago rail yards, 3) land acquisition and restoration adjacent to, or near, the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, 4) energy efficiency and geothermal/solar projects for local schools and food banks, and 5) clean diesel engine retrofits for municipalities and school districts.  Dominion must also pay a total of $750,000 to the United States Forest Service and the National Park Service, to be used on projects to address the damage done from Dominion’s alleged excess emissions.   
Reducing air pollution from the largest sources of emissions, including coal-fired power plants, is one of EPA’s National Enforcement Initiatives for 2011-2013. SO2and NOx, two key pollutants emitted from power plants, have numerous adverse effects on human health and are significant contributors to acid rain, smog, and haze. These pollutants are converted in the air to fine particles of particulate matter that can cause severe respiratory and cardiovascular impacts, and premature death. Reducing these harmful air pollutants will benefit the communities located near Dominion facilities, particularly communities disproportionately impacted by environmental risks and vulnerable populations, including children. Because air pollution from power plants can travel significant distances downwind, this settlement will also reduce air pollution outside the immediate region. The total combined sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emission reductions secured from all power plant settlements to date will exceed nearly 2 million tons each year once all the required pollution controls have been installed and implemented.
The settlement was lodged today in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois, and is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval.
EPA
(http://www.epa.gov)
More information about the settlement: www.epa.gov/enforcement/air/cases/dominionenergy.html
More information about EPA’s national enforcement initiative: www.epa.gov/compliance/data/planning/initiatives/2011airpollution.html
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Krusas Agrees to Guilty Plea for Tax Evasion

A Gary Councilwoman has reportedly plead guilty to tax evasion. The Times reports Marilyn Krusas was indicted last October for allegedly not filing tax returns since 1991, and did not pay taxes on an over 230-thousand dollar inheritance she received in 2009 and 2010. Published reports say Krusas has agreed to pay the I-R-S all remaining inheritance funds within a week of her plea hearing.
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Crash Closes East and West I-80/94 Ramps at Ripley St

Ripley St Crash
Both the east and westbound ramps of I-80/94 are closed at this time near State Road 51/Ripley Street due to a crash. Please seek an alternate route as you travel westbound I-80/94 near mile marker 15. Also the right lane of eastbound I-94 is closed near U.S. 20 due to construction work. Expect delays as you travel eastbound on I-94 near mile marker 23.2....
 

Brush Fire in Morgan Twp

Traffic-Advisory
Fire crews were called out around 10am this morning for a brush fire in Porter County's Morgan Township. Motorist are being asked to avoid the area of Division, south of Smoke Road on Hunter's Trail, so crews can get that under control. No further information available at this time.
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I-80/94 Closed Near SR 51/Ripley St Due to Crash

Traffic-Alert
The ramp of eastbound I-80/94 is closed near State Road 51 / Ripley St due to a crash. Expect long delays as you travel eastbound on I-80/94 near mile 15.
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Body Found in Hart Ditch, Identity Unknown

Authorities report the body of a dead man was found in Hart Ditch Sunday morning in Munster. The Times reports Munster Police were called out to the 85-hundred block of Hawthorne Drive, and at last check the identity of the man is unknown. Published reports say there were no signs of anything suspicious that may have resulted in the man's death, according to a preliminary investigation.
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Coroner Investigating Sunday Death of Gary Man

The Lake County Coroner's Office reports they were dispatched to five-hundred block of Taft Street in Gary on Sunday night, just at 9:40pm. The Coroner's Office reports by 10:18 that night they had pronounced the man dead. The name and manner of death of the deceased have yet to be released. The Gary Fire and Police Departments, and Indiana State Fire Marshall's Office are also involved. At last check no further information has been made available.
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Pence to Celebrate Dyngus Day in South Bend

Gov Mike Pence
Governor Mike Pence will be spending Monday in St. Joseph County, for Dyngus Day. According to his office, Governor Pence will attend a Dyngus Day lunch at the St. Joesph County GOP Headquarters in South Bend, at 12:30pm EDT. The Governor is scheduled to join South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, at M-R Falcons at 3pm EDT, and then the pair will travel to Z-B Falcons for an engagement at 3:45pm EDT.
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Illiana Corridor Public Open House in Lowell April 18th

A public open house regarding the second tier of a study for the proposed Illiana Corrridor is scheduled for next month. I-DOT and INDOT officials say the open house will focus on communities, landowners, and access need, along the preferred corridor, from I-55, near Wilmington, Illinois, to I-65 near Cedar Lake. Published reports say the proposed expressway would improve safety, reduce congestion and truck traffic on local roads, and improve accessibility to jobs while cutting commute times. The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 18th, from 5 to 8pm, at Lowell Middle School.
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National Public Health Week

National Public Health Week
INDIANAPOLIS—It may be April 1st, but don’t fool around when keeping your family safe and healthy at home. Today kicks off National Public Health Week (NPHW), an annual observance where communities across the country recognize the contributions of public health and highlight
issues which are important to improving the health of the nation.
“Public health is a term that’s not necessarily well understood in the community,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “Simply put, public health protects and improves lives. It impacts every aspect of living, including the safety of the water and food you consume, response to emergencies, tracking and responding to infectious diseases, having an immunized population, long term care, prevention and treatment of chronic diseases, and so much more. Public health works to educate and empower citizens to lead healthy lifestyles.
This year's NPHW theme is "Public Health is Return on Investment (ROI): Save Lives, Save Money" and focuses on the economic impact of health and on the role that everyone in the community has to support public health and prevention. Each day from April 1-5 will highlight a different theme focusing on a specific prevention activity. Today’s theme is ensuring a safe, healthy home for your family. Proper preparation around the home can help protect the overall health of the family, including reducing infant mortality, falls, childhood and adult obesity, and more.
Creating a safe and healthy home environment can be done in many ways, such as keeping your home smoke-free, ensuring your children are current on their immunizations, stocking your refrigerator with fruits, vegetables and practicing safe and proper food handling techniques. In 2010, cardiovascular disease contributed to the death of more than 17,000 Hoosiers. Avoiding tobacco, eating nutritious meals, and getting regular exercise can all reduce the risk of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases.
Accidents and injuries in the home pose a serious health threat. According to the latest State statistics from 2010, nearly 2,000 Hoosiers died from non-transport injuries such as falls, drowning, poisoning and exposure to smoke and fire. Taking precautions like installing and maintaining smoke detectors, putting fences around swimming pools, removing clutter, having proper lighting and creating an emergency plan can sometimes mean the difference between life and death or serious injury.
“Having an emergency plan and emergency kit are important steps to take in keeping your family safe during an emergency,” said Dr. VanNess. “Have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in your home and if you have toddlers, place safety devices on electrical outlets and child-proof latches on doors and cupboards where little ones could get into toxic chemicals or other dangerous items.”
For information on how to create an emergency kit and emergency action plan, visit www.ready.gov.
To visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s website, go to www.StateHealth.in.gov.
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Indy Woman Killed After Walking onto I-65 Sunday Night

Indiana State Police logo
A 66 year old Indianapolis woman was killed Sunday night on I-65 in Jasper County after she walked out in front of traffic for an unknown reason, causing the highway to be shut down for almost six-hours. Indiana State Police report Betty Rush was pronounced dead at the scene on I-65, near the DeMotte/Roselawn exit. A preliminary investigation revealed a vehicle driven by a 22 year old Gary man could not avoid Rush, who walked out into the right lane of traffic, and was struck by the passenger side of the vehicle, then by a semi, and along with several other vehicles. State Police report Rush's vehicle was later discovered at a local truck stop.
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Pelath: GOP Has No Plan B if HIP Plan Not Approved

House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath of Michigan City held a media availability Friday afternoon, expressing concerns about what he calls “dithering” by Republicans over implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said in a morning news conference that a blanket expansion of Medicaid is not viable, so he supports Gov. Mike Pence’s plan to use Indiana’s HIP plan instead of joining the federal program. There is a lot of uncertainty about whether the federal government would approve of the option. Leader Pelath expressed his great disappointment that the Republicans have no “Plan B” in case the federal approval doesn’t come. He is concerned that thousands of Hoosiers will lose health care coverage while Indiana waits to see what happens.
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FSA Loan Program for Disadvantaged Groups

A loan program is available for members of socially disadvantaged groups interested in becoming farmers acquire land. The Indiana Farm Service Agency reports they are prepared to sell or lease farmland held in its inventory, if any are available in their county, or provide assistance to help the borrower with a loan. If you think you might be eligible, please contact your local FSA County Office.
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Fatal Dirt Bike Crash Saturday in Lake County

Authorities continue to investigate a fatal dirt bike accident in Lake County. Indiana Conservation Officers say 16-year-old Matthew Soper from Crown Point died from severe internal injuries.  Officials say about 6:45 Saturday evening, Soper was riding a dirt bike on property in Leroy that he was unfamiliar with, when he became airborne and landed on a fence post.  He was transported to a local hospital where he was later pronounced dead. Offices say at the time of the accident Soper was riding with 3 other juveniles who were uninjured. Other agencies assisting included Lake County Sheriff Department, Crown Point Police Department, and Lake of the Four Seasons Fire & EMS.
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Two Semi Crash Shuts Down I-65 Late Saturday Night

Indiana State Police logo
Indiana State Police say seatbelts probably lessened the severity of injuries in a two semi crash that had southbound I-65 shut down in Lake County for several hours Saturday night into early Sunday morning. Troopers from the Lowell Post say about a mile south of the State Road 2/Lowell exit, one of the trucks for unknown reasons struck the back of the other, and both semis went off the road, the first one overturned. Police say both drivers were taken to a local hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
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