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Heavy Rain Moving through Region Causing Traffic Delays

Traffic is reportedly running under posted speeds due to heavy precipitation moving through the Region.  Traffic tipster reported water on the roadway of Interstate 65 from the Borman (I-80/94) to US-231 the Crown point exit.   In addition both directions of 80/94 from the state line to the Lake Station corridor are averaging 30 miles an hour.  As a result, traffic northbound on I-65 is backing up onto the westbound entrance ramp of I-80/94, from just before 45th Avenue.  Drivers should allow extra time, increase the distance between them and other drivers and be sure to have their headlights on.
rain moving through causing backup 06-22-13
(photo from INDOT )

Pence to Talk Transportation in NW IN with IL Gov Monday

Gov Mike Pence
Indiana Governor Mike Pence will be discussing transportation in Northwest Indiana with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on Monday. Both governors will be attending the Illiana Corridor Industry Forum that takes place at noon, in Rosemont, Illinois. INDOT and IDOT are hosting the two-day international industry forum for potential contractors, construction managers, partners and investors. Later that same afternoon, Governor Pence is scheduled to tour the homeless charity, “A Safe Haven Foundation” in Chicago.
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IN Seasonally Adjusted Unemloyment Rate Stays at 8.3%

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that compared to the same time a year ago, unemployment in the region went up in every county but Starke County, whose May 2013 rates remained the same as in May of 2012 at 10-point-one percent, and who along with LaPorte County in May also registered the highest county unemployment in the region. Porter County registered the region's lowest unemployment rate in May, at seven-point-nine percent, up two-tenths from the previous month, and up four-tenths from a year ago. Unemployment in Lake County in May remained the same as last month, at nine-point-seven percent, but up seven-tenths from a year ago. The Gary and Michigan City metropolitan areas respectively registered nine-point-two and ten-point-one percent unemployment in May. Gary had the highest city unemployment rate in May at 14-point-two percent, same as last month, and up one-point-one percent from a year ago, while Schererville had the lowest unemployment in May with a population over 25-thousand, at six-point-eight percent, down two-tenths from April, but up two-tenths from a year ago. Indiana's May seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was eight-point-three percent, same as a year ago, and down two-tenths from last month.  For more unemployment rate information visit
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West Nile Detected in Indiana

State health officials have confirmed the first signs of West Nile virus activity in Indiana – and it's earlier than usual. Mosquitoes in Adams County in northeast Indiana tested positive for West Nile virus last week. The virus typically isn't detected in Indiana until mid-summer, but they say it's impossible to say what that means as far as the rest of the season and how severe it will be, as future temperatures and rainfall go toward determining that. Last year, West Nile virus was found in mosquitoes in every county except Crawford.

"With this earlier than usual discovery of West Nile virus activity, Hoosiers are now at a greater risk of West Nile virus,” said Jennifer House, Director of Zoonotic and Environmental Epidemiology at the Indiana State Department of Health. “But there are many ways people can help protect themselves and their families. By following several simple, effective and important steps, they can help reduce not only mosquitoes, but mosquito bites.”
More info from the Indiana Dept of Health:
Dr. House recommends people take the following protective steps:
If possible, avoid being outdoors during prime mosquito biting times from dusk to dawn;
Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin;
Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home; and
When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants while outside.
West Nile virus usually causes a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. However, a small number of individuals can develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis. Some individuals may die from the infection. Health officials say that although individuals over age 50 are at greatest risk for serious illness and even death from West Nile virus, people of all ages have been infected with the virus and have had severe disease. More than 30 Hoosiers have died from the illness, including eight in 2012, since Indiana had its first human case of West Nile virus in 2002.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have first bitten an infected bird. A person bitten by an infected mosquito may show symptoms three to 15 days after the bite.
“Mosquitoes begin activity around the spring,” said Dr. House. “Besides West Nile virus, mosquitoes can spread several different diseases including St. Louis Encephalitis and La Crosse Encephalitis. Usually, mosquito transmitted diseases occur during the summer months and don’t show signs of waning until the first hard frost of the season.”
State health officials also recommend Hoosiers take the following steps to rid their properties of potential mosquito breeding grounds:
Discard old tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water;
Repair failed septic systems;
Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors;
Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed;
Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains;
Frequently replace the water in pet bowls;
Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically; and
Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.
For more information, visit or follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at .


Burns Harbor Wants Input on Westport

The Burns Harbor Town Council held a public workshop Wednesday night to hear ideas in regards to possible uses for the former Westport Community Club property. Members of the Town Council and Burns Harbor Parks Department were on hand to discuss the future of the recently donated community center and four and a half acres of land located on the northeast corner of Indiana 149 and Haglund Road.   One of the more prominent options being considered is a joint venture between the Parks Department and Chesterton's Pop Warner football league. Pop Warner itself is looking to store equipment, conduct board meetings and registrations in the building.  Councilman Gene Weibl says that Pop Warner isn't looking to acquire the property for use until after this year, so members of the Burns Harbor Town Council are encouraging anyone with an opinion on the matter to come out and share their thoughts. The next Town Council meeting is scheduled for the night of July 10th at 7:00 with another workshop to follow around 8:00 at the Burns Harbor Town Hall.

Indiana Adds 9000 Jobs in May

MAY2013charts small
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development says the state's private sector added nine-thousand jobs in May, the largest monthly increase since February of 2012. Growth occurred at twice the national average for the month (0.4 percent vs. 0.2 percent). Private sector employment in the Hoosier State is now at pre-recession levels not seen since July of 2008. Indiana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell for the second month in a row by point-two percent to 8-point-3 percent.
More info regarding today's report:
April and May rate decreases signify the largest two month drop since early last year. Indiana was one of only two Midwestern states to experience a decrease in rate for the month. So far in 2013, initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits are at their lowest levels since 2000. “May was quite a positive month for job growth in the Hoosier State,” said Scott B. Sanders, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. “Most tangible employment measures seem to be trending in the right direction for the moment, which is cause for cautious optimism.” 
Sanders also noted Indiana has added 45,300 private sector jobs over the past year, more than one-third of which have occurred since January. Thirteen percent of private sector growth over the past year has come from manufacturing as Indiana continues to have more manufacturing jobs as a percentage of the private sector than any other state.
Employment by Sector Sectors showing gains in May include: Trade, Transportation & Utilities (4,100), Leisure and Hospitality (3,300), Professional & Business Services (2,500) Financial Activities (1,400), and Construction (400). The Private Educational & Health Services (-1,600), and Manufacturing (-800) sectors showed declines. Total non-farm employment increased in May (7,500).

Beware the Giant Hogweed

hogweed WinCE
Officials say small colonies of Giant Hogweed have recently been spotted in Indiana, and Hoosiers are warned to stay far away from it. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says the plant has been found in St. Joseph and Kosciusko Counties and can cause severe skin irritation and temporary or permanent blindness from contact with it.
Beware the Giant Hogweed
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says Giant Hogweed is a public health hazard listed as a federal noxious weed, and ranks higher than poison ivy, with regards to its potential to harm you. Biologists say it's a tall plant, capable of reaching heights of six feet or more, with very large leaves, up to five feet across, and large clusters of white flowers.
[Photos/Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development]


Answers on ISTEP Issues Expected

Indiana lawmakers will be seeking answers about ISTEP today... as officials with CTB/McGraw Hill, Indiana's online ISTEP vendor...testify this afternoon before a state committee reviewing the testing problems experienced in the Region and elsewhere in the state this Spring. Testing was interrupted by computer issues. To view the hearing, which will be in the Senate chamber of the Indiana Statehouse, beginning at noon Region time, click here:


Grain Bin Safety Urged After Indiana Death

As many Hoosier grain handling facility workers prepare for this year’s harvest, employers and employees are being reminded of how to stay safe. A 59-year-old Veedersburg man in west central Indiana died after being pulled into a grain bin Wednesday. The Indiana Department of Labor says people working in or near grain handling facilities should never work alone because they are exposed to significant hazards that include falls, electrocution, engulfment, auger entanglement and dust explosions.
“The safety of our farm workers should always be of paramount importance to our Indiana farm businesses,” noted Commissioner Sean Keefer. “It is especially important to recognize the dangers of working in and around grain bins and take all necessary precautions.”
Information provided by the Indiana Department of Labor:
Prevent falls: Provide all employees with a body harness and lifeline, or a boatswains chair, and ensure it is properly secured before entering a grain bin.
Prevent electrocution/auger entanglement: Before grain bin or silo entry, shut down and lock out all equipment power sources. Station an observer outside the bin or silo to continuously monitor and track the employee inside the bin.
Prevent engulfment: Prohibit employees from walking-down the grain or using similar practices to make the grain flow. Prohibit entry into bins or silos underneath a bridging condition or where there is a build-up of grain products on side walls that could shift and bury a worker.
Prevent dust explosions: Prior to any entry, test the air within a bin or silo for the presence of combustible and toxic gases and make sure there is sufficient oxygen for safe entry.
Employers and employees are strongly encouraged to learn about safe grain handling procedures and take necessary precautions for the prevention of work-related injuries and fatalities.
Upon entry into the top of a silo or bin:
  1. Never work alone during any entry of a silo or bin.
  2. Turn off the auger and lock out the shut-off switch.
  3. Turn on the aerator.
  4. Conduct a pre-use inspection on all rescue equipment. Have all rescue equipment readily available for immediate use.
  5. Ensure the silo or grain bin entrant is wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment—dust mask, safety glasses, rescue harness, etc.
  6. Ensure all workers are familiar with the communication procedures and within communication distance. 
  7. Ensure tie off at an adequate anchor point. Make sure there is enough rope to travel up the ladder and into the silo to attach to the harness and employee.
  8. Place an employee attendee at the top of the silo or bin and another at the base of the ladder at the anchor point.
  9. Never allow slack on the lifeline.
  10. In the event of entrapment at or above waist level: 
    1. Train the entrant to cover his or her face with his or her shirt or dust mask.
    2. Never attempt to rescue the entrapped employee from the top of the bin or silo.  Implement Emergency Action Plan procedures.
Entrapment or engulfment procedures:
  1. Turn off the auger and lock out the shut-off switch.
  2. Turn on the aerator.
  3. Call 911.
  4. If the victim is within reach, without entering the bin, place a rescue sleeve around the victim. If a rescue sleeve is not available, place any flat, hard surface material (i.e. plywood, sheet metal, etc.) at the face of the victim.
For questions about worker safety and health, please contact the Indiana onsite OSHA consultation program, INSafe, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (317) 232-2688.

Milestone for IU School of Medicine - Northwest

3rd-year-med-students - IUSM-NW WinCE
Friday [June 14] was Orientation Day for the third-year medical students attending IU School of Medicine – Northwest at IUN in Gary... and with twelve third-year medical students, this is the largest third-year class to date, since the recent expansion from a two-year to four-year institution for the IU School of Medicine - Northwest. Ten of the students are from Northwest Indiana – Hobart, Portage, Merrillville, Highland, Burns Harbor, Gary, Hebron, Crown Point and Munster-- and two are from Indianapolis... and starting this week students were being sent around the region and into hospitals to begin their rotations in their subspecialties.
Visit News Audio on Demand here at our website to hear our interview with one of the students, Cicely Moreno of Gary.
Photo/courtesy IUN:
·         Top Row – (left to right): Galen Hartman of Indianapolis; Wayne Larson of Hobart; Jeremiah (JJ) Cox of Portage; Kenneth Polezoes of Merrillville; Daniel Pop of Highland; Daniel Berg of Indianapolis.
·         Middle Row – (left to right): Dr. Patrick Bankston (Associate Dean and Director of IU School of Medicine-Northwest); Kyle Gospodarek of Hobart; Alissa Bishel of Burns Harbor; Cicely Moreno of Gary; Margie Rivera-Tomasi (Coordinator of Clinical Education)
·         Bottom Row – (left to right): Courtney Myers of Hebron; Christine Stephens of Crown Point; Rohini Chatterjee of Munster

Service from MC to SB Remains Suspended

South Shore train service remains suspended until further notice between South Bend and Michigan City, also affecting service to Hudson Lake, and Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District [NICTD]  is providing busing until further notice between South Bend and Michigan City, after a garbage truck struck a rural rail overpass in Hudson Lake in La Porte County Thursday morning. La Porte County Sheriffs Police say the truck became wedged under the rural underpass at Point Road and Lake Park Avenue, and the railroad sent heavy equipment to the scene to lift the bridge off of the garbage truck and realign the tracks. Police say the truck driver sustained minor injuries to his face that were not life-threatening.
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District website:

Sen Charbonneau to Chair Water Study Committee

charbonneau WinCE
Valparaiso State Senator Ed Charbonneau will chair three legislative study panels this summer: the Environmental Quality Service Council, Water Resources Study Committee and the Compliance Advisory Panel.  Each summer and fall — when Indiana’s part-time legislature is not in session — lawmakers are assigned to interim study committees that meet to review the state’s top issues, as identified by the General Assembly during the prior legislative session.
During a Region Newsmakers interview after the end of the most recent legislative session, Senator Charbonneau talked to us about the environmental council, stressing that water is going to need to be a big issue in the Hoosier state, even though it's kind of been on the back-burner. Last year, Indiana found itself in the midst of a serious drought, and "when you have a year like we did last year," Charbonneau said,  " and find that Lake Michigan was at its lowest level in history, where we had something like 17 wells run dry in a little community called Parr, which is in my district, and various other issues down south, we need to put together a plan".
Charbonneau was also appointed to serve on the following committees:  Health Finance Commission, Commission on State Tax and Financing Policy, Distressed Unit Appeal Board, Environmental Adjudication Director Selection Panel, Lake Michigan Marina & Shoreline Development Commission.  Study committee topics are assigned by the Legislative Council, comprised of 16 voting members — eight from the House of Representatives and eight from the Senate.
You can hear our Region Newsmakers conversation with Indiana State Senator Charbonneau here at our website.

Region School Audit Says Money Owed

A person who served as extracurricular account treasurer for Bailey Elementary School in Lake Station is being asked to pay a total of nearly 42-thousand dollars to the school and the state after an audit released by the Indiana State Board of Accounts covering a period from July 2008 to January 22, 2013. Findings listed in the report included fundraising and textbook rental receipts not deposited and deficiencies in deposit documentation. In a written response from Superintendent Dan DeHaven included in the audit document released this week, he said he did not challenge the report's findings, and that the audit for Bailey School "is very thorough and shows a pattern of poor accounting practices."

4th Recall of Natura Pet Products for Salmonella

CHICAGO – Doctors from BluePearl Veterinary Partners are urging people to stop using and return or discard certain Natura Pet Products food and treats after the company issued another recall due to potential Salmonella contamination Tuesday.
On March 18, the company issued a voluntary recall due to the presence of salmonella being found during routine testing performed by the Michigan Department of Agriculture.
On March 29, the company issued an expansion of their original recall citing the same reason as before and adding that the Georgia Department of Agriculture had also confirmed the presence of Salmonella.
On April 19, the company issued a further expansion of the original recall stating the same reasons as before and adding that this was being done out of an abundance of caution.
Most recently, on Tuesday, Natura Pet Products issued a press release recalling specific lots of dry pet food citing the potential for the food to be contaminated with Salmonella, after routine testing performed by the Food and Drug Administration tested positive for Salmonella.
The most current release states, “Natura is voluntarily recalling all products with expiration dates prior to June 10, 2014.”
According to the release, the affected products are sold in bags through veterinary clinics, select pet specialty retailers, and online in the United States and Canada. No canned wet food is affected by this announcement.
People who have the potentially contaminated product should discard it immediately and stop handling it as it poses a risk to humans as well.
Salmonella can affect animals eating the products and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or any surfaces exposed to these products.
Common symptoms of salmonella in pets include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, lethargy, fever and abdominal discomfort.
“Any time you notice your pet is not acting right, you should take him or her to your family veterinarian as soon as possible,” said Dr. Neil Shaw, chief medical officer of BluePearl. “If it is an after-hours emergency, we would be glad to help at any one of our locations.”
The affected products are:
Innova Dry dog and cat food and biscuits/bars/treats All Lot Codes, All UPC's, All package sizes All expiration dates prior to 6-10-2014
EVO dry dog, cat and ferret food and biscuits/bars/treats All Lot Codes, All UPC's, All package sizes All expiration dates prior to 6-10-2014
California Natural dry dog and cat foods and biscuits/bars/treats All Lot Codes, All UPC's, All package sizes All expiration dates prior to 6-10-2014
Healthwise dry dog and cat foods All Lot Codes, All UPC's, All package sizes All expiration dates prior to 6-10-2014
Karma dry dog foods All Lot Codes, All UPC's, All package sizes All expiration dates prior to 6-10-2014
Mother Nature biscuits/bars/treats All Lot Codes, All UPC's, All package sizes All expiration dates prior to 6-10-2014
Natura Pet Products also said in their release that consumers looking for additional information, product replacement or a refund should call Natura toll-free at 800-224-6123. (Monday – Friday, 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM CST).
BluePearl Veterinary Partners does not carry any of the recalled products.
About BluePearl Veterinary Partners
Formed in 2008, BluePearl Veterinary Partners is headquartered in Tampa, Fla., and employs more than 1,200 people including approximately 250 veterinarians. BluePearl hospitals are referral-only and don’t provide primary care. Most BluePearl hospitals offer 24-hour emergency care services. BluePearl is one of the world’s principal providers of approved veterinary residency and internship educational programs. BluePearl also participates in and conducts clinical trials to study the effectiveness of new drugs and treatments, which give clients access to cutting-edge medicine not yet commercially available and improves the quality of care delivered to our patients.
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Coats Introduces Amendments to Immigration Reform Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.), ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, today introduced an amendment to the Senate Immigration Reform Bill requiring that real progress be made on strengthening the border before granting provisional immigrant status to illegal aliens and that effective control has been maintained over the entire southern border before granting permanent legal status.
“Our broken and uncontrolled immigration system must be repaired, but the current legislation fails to address many of our border security problems,” said Coats. “Hoosiers have heard promises before from Washington that our borders will be secured, but unfortunately these promises have not been upheld. This amendment would ensure that high-risk sectors of the border are actually secured and maintained before undocumented immigrants are legalized.”
“I am confident that this amendment is a good compromise for those who want to move forward with immigration reform, but also want to ensure we actually secure the border this time,” added Coats.
The current bill only requires that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) submit a strategy on border security to Congress before undocumented individuals can begin receiving provisional status.
The Coats provision (Amendment 1442) requires that measurable improvements in border security in the highest risk sectors of the Southern border are achieved before any individual can receive Registered Provisional Immigrant (RPI) status. The amendment would require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to certify that it has maintained effective control of high-risk border sectors along the Southern border for at least six months before the department can begin processing applications for RPI status. The amendment defines high-risk border sectors as a sector in which more than 30,000 individuals were apprehended during the most recent fiscal year. Further, the amendment requires that the secretary of Homeland Security certify that effective control has been maintained for six months along the entire Southern border before any individual with provisional status can apply for permanent status.
In addition, Coats offered several other amendments to address border security and improve operations at DHS. These measures include:

·         Allowing infrastructure improvements to our land ports of entry (Amendment 1407);
·         Incentivizing state and local governments to work with ICE in ensuring that criminal aliens are removed from the country (Amendment 1375); and
·         Improving the department’s financial management of bonds (Amendment 1441).
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Pursuit Ends in Crash in Crown Point: Update

06-20-13 crash
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A pursuit that began in Munster this morning, and involved a Lake County Sheriff's Department helicopter, ended in a crash in Crown Point. Indiana State Police Lowell Post report the pursuit began at approximately 11:42am, and that the driver of the vehicle Munster Police were pursuing, 35 year old Jennifer Clark, of Tennessee, was wanted for alleged check fraud. State Police say the pursuit continued in to Crown Point until Clark's SUV struck a stationary Honda at a stop light in the left-turn lane at the intersection of 93rd Avenue and Main Street. That collision caused the Honda to strike and stationary Toyota in the left lane which leads south on Main Street, with the SUV coming to rest in the middle of the intersection. Authorities say Clark was immediately apprehended, and a total of three people from the two vehicle struck were taken to Saint Anthony's Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.
Indiana State Police logo
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Schererville Woman Gets 3 1/2 Yrs for Carjacking

A Schererville woman who participated in a carjacking incident in May of 2012 received a three-and-a-half year jail sentence. Aminah Verse was charged with felony car jacking and felony criminal confinement, and convicted in March, after she and two other people jumped into a woman's car in Gary. The Lake County Prosecutor's Office reports the victim was able to escape when the car stopped at a gas station on the way to an A-T-M to have the woman get them money.
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East Chicago Man gets 70 Yrs for Child Molesting

A 41 year old East Chicago man charged with child molesting will most likely be spending the rest of his life behind bars after being sentenced to 70 years in prison. Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter announced today that Derrick Hicks, who pled guilty to child molesting, incest, and sexual misconduct with a minor, was also convicted of being a habitual offender. Hicks admitted in court back in January before his jury trial was to begin that he had molested a 12 year old girl who gave birth to his child.
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Gary Man gets 10 yrs for Armed Robbery of Lake St Market

A Gary man was sentenced to ten years in prison today for armed robbery. The Lake County Prosecutor's Office reports Joshua Painter was charged with armed robbery and robbery, for holding up a Lake Station market with a B-B gun back in January.
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US House Fails to Pass Their Version of 5 yr Farm Bill

The US House of Representatives failed today to pass their version of a five-year farm bill. Indiana US Senator Joe Donnelly says he is disappointed the House couldn't get it passed so they could go to a conference committee and work through the differences to get the bill signed into law. The Senate passed their version of the bill last week, which Donnelly says will reduce the deficit, and give Hoosier farmers and rural communities the certainty they deserve. It has been five years since Congress last passed a farm bill.
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Laura-WAKE Scott-WAKE Brent-WAKE
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team


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