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Prescribed Fire Near Gary

Fire crews from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will be burning approximately 10 acres of land near the Paul H. Douglas Center, near Gary, Indiana this afternoon. As long as weather conditions remain good, crews will be burning the small parcel of land on the west side of North Lake Street, north of 3rd Ave. and south of Birch Ave. Fire officials say tThe burn is part of long term plan to improve animal and plant habitats in the habitats found in Miller Woods.   The prescribed fire program at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is conducted by trained and experienced National Park Service fire personnel. Smoke dispersal is a primary concern and park staff say they will try to limit smoke in the area by monitoring wind and atmospheric conditions prior to ignitions, but smoke drifting in and around park lands and roadways is possible.
 More info can be found at www.nps.gov/fire  and www.nps.gov/indu  .
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School Districts to Hold Referendums

2013 is a 'non-election' year for Indiana as far as public offices are concerned... but that doesn't mean Hoosiers won't be going to the ballot, here in the Region and elsewhere in the state. Tomorrow (Tue May 7 ) a handful of Indiana school districts will hold referendums, and locally they include Munster, Metropolitan School District of Boone Township in Hebron, the Wheeler/Union Township Schools, and Knox Community Schools in Starke County. In each case, voters are being asked to say yes or no to a property tax increase that would help fund the schools
To hear interviews about the referendum with Union Township Superintendent John Hunter, MSD Boone Township Superintendent George Letz, and Munster School Superintendent Richard Sopko visit News Audio on Demand here at our website.
May 7, 2013 Special Elections
- Barr-Reeve Community Schools (Daviess County)
- Hamilton Southeastern Schools (Hamilton County)
- Noblesville Schools (Hamilton County)
- City of Vincennes Parks & Recreation Department (Knox County)
- Munster School Referendum (Lake County)
- Metropolitan School District of Boone Township (Porter County)
- Union Township School Corporation (Porter County)
- Knox Community School (Starke County)

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Lake Tax Vote Expected

The Lake County Council is expected to consider the proposed one-and-a-half percent local income tax again this afternoon. The tax has won preliminary approval from the county council, and if approved, it next goes before the Lake County Commissioners, who have scheduled a special meeting Friday May 10th, at 8:30am. If commissioners veto it, the county council could override that, with a super-majority. Lake County is the only county in the state without a local income tax.
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Two Fatal Crashes on I-65

Indiana State Police at the Lowell Post say they responded to two fatal accidents on northbound I-65 in Jasper County involving college students going home.
Troopers say the first crash happened around 2 pm Saturday just north of the Remington exit (mile marker 205), when apparently the right tire of a Ford Explorer blew out and the driver lost control, rolling over three times, and ejecting two backseat passengers not wearing seat belts;one, a 20-year-old River Forest, Illinois, man identified as John Malone, Jr., was pronounced dead at the scene, the other was airlifted with life-threatening injuries.
The second crash happened about an hour later also near Remington (mile marker 201). Troopers say a 21-year-old Valparaiso woman was slowing for the earlier crash when a 20-year-old Wheatfield woman realizing traffic was stopping, swerved, and struck the Ford Explorer the Valparaiso woman was driving, causing it to roll. Police say 51-year-old Melissa Gelinas of Valparaiso who was in the front seat of the Explorer was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene of massive blunt force trauma. Police say her daughter who was driving was hospitalized for abrasions.
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Man Dies in Crash

Lake County Sheriffs Police say an 18-year-old Hobart man died in a single-vehicle crash in Hobart early Sunday. The Lake County Coroners office says 18-year-old Christopher Velasquez was pronounced dead at the scene from blunt force trauma. A spokesperson for the Sheriffs Department says Hobart Police tried to make a traffic stop near Cleveland and Wisconsin Street at about 3:30 am, when the driver allegedly kept going before striking a tree just over a mile away at 3rd Street and Crestwood Drive in Hobart.
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Former Governor Bowen Passes Away

Indiana Governor Mike Pence is directing flags at state facilities statewide be flown at half-staff to honor former Governor Otis "Doc" Bowen, who passed away Saturday [ May 4] at the Catherine Kasper Life Center in Donaldson, Indiana, at the age of 95. The Governor's Office say flags should be flown at half-staff for seven days from his passing, through Saturday, May 11. Governor Pence also asks businesses and residents to lower their flags to half-staff to honor Governor Bowen for his service to Indiana and the nation.
Upon his return from military service in World War Two, Governor Bowen started a private medical practice in Bremen, and was first elected to public office in 1952 as Marshall County Coroner. A Republican, he served as Indiana's 44th Governor from 1973 to 1981, and was the state's first Governor since 1851 to serve two consecutive terms in office. Governor Pence says Governor Bowen advanced historic improvements to Indiana's state park and recreation system, helping to create five new state parks.
President Ronald Reagan nominated him to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services and Secretary Bowen would lead that government agency until January 20, 1989, when President Reagan left office. Bowen eventually returned to Bremen.
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Man Dies After House Fire

Authorities say an 85-year-old man died after a house fire in the 4300 block of Torrence Avenue in Hammond Saturday. Officials say the man suffered carbon monoxide and smoke inhalation and died at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Hammond fire officials say two others, a 55-year-old woman and eleven-year-old boy, were also at University of Chicago Medical Center.
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Police Activity Near Borman

Police activity in the vicinity of Broadway and 80-94 in Gary this morning, reportedly including Gary Police, Lake County Sheriffs Police, and Indiana State Police. A vehicle rollover occurred on the ramp from westbound 80-94 to northbound Broadway, police are stationed there and the surrounding area of Gary. Also reports of a helicopter in the vicinity.
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Dyer PD Chief New Commander of Major Crimes Task Force

On Friday, police chiefs representing member departments of the Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force selected St. John John Police Chief Fred Fargo as President of the Executive Board. Also selected was NICTD Transit Police Chief Robert Byrd as Vice President and Spokesperson, Griffith Police Chief Greg Mance was selected as Treasurer, with Highland Police Chief Pete Hojnicki selected to be Secretary, and Dyer Police Chief Donald Foley to serve as the new Task Force Commander. The task force, which was created in 2006, investigates homicides, serial rapes, arsons, and non-parental child abductions when called upon by a member agency. To date, the task force has been involved in 25 death investigations, a home invasion, an attack on an elderly woman, and a serial robbery investigation of Advance American check cashing stores.
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US Marshals Fugitive of the Week: Devonte Hodge

The U.S. Marshals Service, Great Lakes Task Force in Hammond, has named 18 year old Devonte Hodge as their "Fugitive of the Week", for the week of May 5th. Authorities say Hodge, who is wanted by the Lake County Sheriff's Department for one-count of murder, was last known to reside in the 17-hundred block of Hendricks Street, in Gary. Devonte Hodge is described as a black male, 5' 8'', weighing 150 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact task force investigators, at (888) 805-6119 or by texting “capture” to Tip411 (847411). All tipsters will remain anonymous.
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Martinez Granted Temporary Public Defender

Ralph Perez Martinez
A 57 year old Alsip, Illinois, man facing charges, including murder in the death of Mary Austgen had his formal appearance in court pushed back to May 31st, after he told the court the jail's phone system prevented him from obtaining legal council. The Times reports Ralph Martinez, who was granted a temporary public defender during his court appearance Friday, is ineligible to receive a public defender since his assets exceed the 50-thousand dollar threshold.
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Ford Heights, IL Fire Dispatcher Charged with Felony Theft

Varndell Hurrings
(Photo Courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff's Office)
A 52 year old Ford Heights, Illinois, dispatcher faces a felony theft charge for buying stolen fire department equipment and then pawning it. The Cook County Sheriff's Office reports Varndell Hurrings, of Sauk Village, was arrest Thursday at the Ford Heights Fire Department. The Sheriff's Office says an investigation began in late January after the fire department notified police of the theft of a hydraulic unit used to power the "Jaws of Life", valued at 41-hundred dollars. Authorities say last month they learned the unit had been sold to a Chicago Heights pawn shop for 80 dollars the same day it was reported stolen. An investigation determined Hurrings bought the unit from another person who has since died, knowing the item had been stolen, and then sold it to the pawn shop.
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Reports of Man Exposing Himself on Bike Path Near Highland HS

Highland Police
Police in Highland say they have taken two separate reports in the last week of a man allegedly exposing himself to girls on the bike path near the high school. Police say the subject is described as a while male in his late twenties to early thirties, 5' 10'' to six-feet tall, approximately 150 pounds, with very short blonde hair (nearly bald), brown eyes, with no glasses or facial hair. Highland Police say in one reported incident, the subject was seen wearing red sweatpants and a white t-shirt, and in another, wearing black sweat pants with white stripes and a white t-shirt. Anyone with information is asked to contact Highland Police.
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Alcohol a Factor in Pursuit That Led to Crash

Shawn Flowers
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A 30 year old man was arrested early Friday morning after causing an accident while fleeing police. Shawn Flowers is charged with resisting law enforcement, leaving the scene of an injury accident, operating while intoxicated, disorderly conduct, and reckless driving. Authorities report just after midnight, Flowers was clocked at driving over 80 miles per hours in a 35 mile per hour zone, near Indiana 130 and 149. Police say Flowers had a blood-alcohol level nearly one-and-a-half times the legal limit, and struck a Jeep while trying to elude officers. The Times reports the driver of the jeep was not injured in the crash, but a passenger in Flower's vehicle reportedly suffered a broken ankle.
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Attempted Purse Snatcher Arrested Friday

Valpo PD
A 19 year old Valparaiso woman is charged with felony attempted robbery for an attempted purse snatching. Valparaiso Police report the incident took place on April 15th, in the parking lot of K-Mart, in the 28-hundred block of Calumet Avenue. Authorities say through security camera footage, they were able to identify the subject who tried to grab a woman's purse.
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McCowan Appeal Denied

Dustin McCowan
A recorded phone call between Dustin McCowan and an unknown person, that included threatening remarks about prosecutors, was not enough to get the 20 year old's sentence overturned Friday. McCowan had his first appeal denied by Porter County Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa after determining there was no threat. McCowan, who maintains his innocence, was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the death of his former girlfriend, 19 year old Amanda Bach.
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Groundbreaking for Phase ll of Black Oak Sewer Project

Officials mark construction start for Gary Black Oak phase II sewer improvement project  This afternoon, Rep. Peter Visclosky (IN-1), officials from Gary, Ind., and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a groundbreaking ceremony in Gary, Ind., to mark the construction start for the Gary Black Oak phase II sewer improvement project.
"For so many years, the Black Oak area has not received the attention it deserves as a part of Gary," said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. "This sewer project is another example of how this administration is letting residents know that we have not forgotten about you, and expect to make improvements in Black Oak and all over the city."
"As one of the council persons who represents a portion of the Black Oak area, I am elated to see this project move forward," said Councilwoman Mary Brown. "I am sure that our residents will be very pleased to see that these enhancements are being made."
“On behalf of the Sanitary District, the City of Gary, and the Black Oak Community, and as the president of the Gary Sanitary Board of Commissioners, I would like to express our appreciation to Congressman Peter Visclosky for having made this project possible,” Commissioner Richard Comer, Gary Sanitary District Board of Commissioners, said. “This is the culmination of a two-phase project in the Black Oak Community that will have great impact on relieving much of the flooding conditions in this community. This could not have materialized without Congressman Visclosky's intervention.”
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, CHICAGO DISTRICT
111 N. Canal (Suite #600), Chicago, IL 60606
www.lrc.usace.army.mil
This project is authorized under the Water Resource Development Act’s Section 219 project authority, which allows the Corps to assist local governments in planning, designing, and constructing water- related projects. Projects under this authority are cost shared at 75 percent federal and 25 percent nonfederal. The local sponsor is Gary Sanitary District’s Storm Water Management District.
“The Corps is proud to be a partner in this project that will help reduce the risk of roadway and basement flooding in this highly-traveled and busy business section of Gary," Col. Frederic Drummond Jr. said.  Construction will include installing approximately 1,500 linear feet of 30-inch storm sewer, and storm inlets and catch basins on the southwest side of Gary. It also includes full reconstruction of 25th Avenue between Calhoun and Burr streets. The flow from this area will be drained into an existing manhole on Burr Street which will direct the flow south.
“The 25th Avenue stormwater interceptor project continues the vital work to improve the quality of life for residents of the Black Oak area,” Rep. Peter Visclosky said. “It is a project that creates new jobs and enhances our ability to manage heavy rains in Northwest Indiana. I thank the Gary Sanitary District; the City of Gary; the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District; Industrial Environmental Services, and the concerned community who have strongly advocated for the Black Oak-area stormwater infrastructure improvements over the years.”
Field construction work is projected to begin in May 2013 and completed in November 2013. The contract was awarded to Industrial & Environmental Services of Gary, Ind., on Dec. 28, 2012, for $1,145,970.
groundbreaking 1
(l to r) Col. Frederic Drummond Jr. Commander U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District, Richard Comer, Gary Sanitary District Board of Commissioners, gary Mayor, Karen Freeman-Wilson, Mary brown, 3rd District Councilwoman, Rep. Pete Visclosky at today's groundbreaking of the Gary Black Oak Phase ll Sewer Imrpovement Project.
Mayor welcomes -
Gary Mayor, Karen Freeman-Wilson welcomes guests to groundbreaking
Congressman Visclosky
Indiana 1st District Congressman, Pete Visclosky at groundbreaking ceremony
Commissioner Comer
Richard Comer, Gary Sanitary Board of Commissioners addresses Mayor Freeman-Wilson, Mary brown 3rd District Councilwoman, Rep. Pete Visclosky and Col. Frederic Drummond Jr., Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District.
rain at dedication
Raining at the site of the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the Gary Black Oak Phase ll Sewer Improvement Project located just west of the TA Truck Stop at Burr St. and 25th Avenue, Gary.
(photos courtesy Jay Stevens)
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Cook Co Sheriff's Dept Saturation Patrols this Weekend

Cook County, IL – Extra patrols by Cook County Sheriff’s police will be taking place this weekend as part of an ongoing effort to keep streets safe and help prevent crime, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said today.  The saturation patrols will be county wide and run from 9 p.m. Saturday, May 4 through Sunday, May 5 and 9 p.m. Sunday, May 5 to 3 a.m. Monday, May 6.  The extra patrols are funded through a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation.
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Backup on Eastbound 80/94 Toward Indianapolis Blvd.

Fire crews were still on the scene of a vehilce fire that stopped all traffic going eastbound on the Borman (I-80/94) near Indianapolice Blvd.  Traffic tipsters were reporting a passenger car was fully involved shortly after 5pm this afternoon.  The right lane has just been reopened but eastbound I-80/94 remains backed up to nearly the Bishop Ford.  Drivers should expect delays until past Indianapolis Blvd.
Vehicle fire EB Borman
The smoldering vehicle can be seen on the right hand shoulder that caused police to close the right lane eastbound I-80/94
(photo courtesy of INDOT)
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Lt Gov Ellspermann Listens and Learns in Lake County

Sue-LG
Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann was in Lake County today meeting with elected officials and business leaders as part of her statewide “Listen and Learn Tour”. After a meeting with area elected officials and a diner stop--during which the Lieutenant Governor spoke with Lake County constituents--she attended a round-table meeting with county business leaders and business owners at Merrillville's Albanese Confectionery, in an attempt to understand the needs and concerns of local economic development. Elspermann says the tour, with stops in all 92 counties, is an opportunity for the Governor's Office and local government and economic-development teams to get on the same page.
Elspermann says local business leaders and Lake County economic development officials stressed the need for more skilled workers. After a tour of the Albanese candy factory, the Lieutenant Governer praised the company as a model for Indiana business and manufacturing.
As a native of southwest Indiana, Elspermann plans to spend the bulk of the next three weeks in northern Indiana to better understand differences in economic concerns in each area of the state.
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