A ranger-led tour at the Florida Tropical house. /Edwin Alcox
INDIANA DUNES NATIONAL LAKESHORE: Join a National Park Service ranger at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore for a tour of five historic homes from the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair on Saturday, October 19 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Each tour will last approximately two hours and includes a ranger-narrated shuttle ride from the parking area of the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center to the Century of Progress Homes Site. There is no on-site parking available at the homes. Once on site, your ranger will lead you on an inside look at the Cypress Log House, House of Tomorrow, Florida House, Armco- Ferro House, and the Rostone House. Reservations are required and there is a $20per person fee to cover the cost of the shuttle buses and other program expenses.
These tours are offered in partnership with the Dunes National Park Association (DNPA), who will take tour reservations through the DNPA website, www.dunesnationalpark.org starting at 8:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time on September 9, 2013. The DNPA is a nonprofit organization that supports the protection, preservation, and promotion of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
The original 1933 “Century of Progress” houses featured innovative building materials, modern home appliances, and new construction techniques. The houses were moved to northwest Indiana in 1935 to promote a new housing community and were included in the national lakeshore boundary in the early 1970’s. Today, the historic homes are undergoing rehabilitation with private funds through a partnership with Indiana Landmarks and private citizens.
Governor Mike Pence greets Tochigi Governor Tomikazu Fukuda and commemorates the 14-year sister-state relationship between Tochigi Prefecture and Indiana. [Photo/Governor's Office]
The Japan-America Society of Indiana will establish a Japan Center and Gardens in the state of Indiana. Governor Mike Pence made the announcement as his first trade mission to Japan got underway a couple days ago. The project is expected to serve as a cultural gateway to Japan, providing the Hoosier State with a culturally appropriate venue for events and meetings relating to Japan, gardens and nature. With an authentic Japanese architectural design, the new facility will house offices and also serve as a community center.
Governor Mike Pence began his first trade mission to Japan Saturday by traveling to Tochigi Prefecture, Indiana’s sister-state, where he met with Tochigi Governor Tomikazu Fukuda and commemorated the 14-year sister-state relationship.
“The Japan Center and Gardens will symbolize the friendship between Indiana and Japan that has been cultivated, thrived and bloomed,” said Pence. “Upon its completion, I look forward to welcoming Hoosiers and visitors alike to this beautiful venue and promoting the history, tradition and strength of Indiana’s bond with Japan.”
The center, which will be located in a natural, park-like setting, will showcase formal gardens, trails, water features and wooded areas with the goal of promoting an understanding of nature and the environment through the Japanese aesthetic. JASI is actively considering possible sites and welcomes proposals.
“While the project is still in its early stages, the center promises to showcase the substantial commitment of Hoosiers to attract, welcome and partner with Japanese visitors in Indiana, and to enhance the cultural and economic cooperation between the state and Japan,” said Theresa Kulczak, executive director of JASI. “As both a learning center and quiet retreat, this will be one more shining beacon of Indiana’s vibrant, long-standing relationship with Japan.”
Pence made the announcement during a luncheon meeting with Tochigi city officials hosted by Fukuda at the Tochigi Prefectural Hall.
LaPORTE, Ind. – Using the state’s new public accountability law, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s office today took legal action to freeze the assets of a former LaPorte County deputy auditor who is accused of embezzling approximately $150,000 in county funds.
In LaPorte County Circuit Court today, Zoeller’s office sought and obtained a temporary restraining order freezing the financial assets – including bank accounts, a home and four vehicles – of Mary C. Ray of LaPorte, Ind., until a full audit can be completed. Ray is retired from her position as deputy auditor in the LaPorte County Auditor’s Office.
The Attorney General’s motions for a temporary restraining order and prejudgment attachment were filed under a state law the Legislature passed in 2009 at Zoeller’s urging: House Enrolled Act 1514-2009, the public accountability law.
“It is always disheartening when a government employee is accused of violating the public trust by pocketing taxpayers’ money that does not belong to them. The public accountability law allows the State to identify fraud on public funds earlier in the process and freeze defendants’ assets in the event we must recover them later to reimburse the public treasury,” Zoeller said.
The investigation of missing funds began with a report to State Police that a bank deposit bag the Auditor’s Office used had been stolen. It was later recovered with checks inside but $3,200 in cash was missing. Also, within a two-day period, there was a $1,800 discrepancy between receipts and deposits. Examiners from the State Board of Accounts then launched a preliminary audit.
That audit of the auditor’s office receipts and deposits found that approximately $150,000 had been shorted through check kiting between May 2012 and December 2012, the final months before Ray’s retirement. As deputy auditor, Ray’s duties included collecting payments from other county departments, receiving various payments to the Auditor’s Office such as permit fees made to the county, in both cash and checks, and depositing them into the county’s bank accounts.
The preliminary audit found that certain checks paid to the county were not recorded or deposited but instead were held for weeks, and then substituted for unrelated cash payments to the county. Swapping the unrecorded checks for cash allowed the deposits to still balance with the amount of funds receipted. Prior to May 2012, county records show that cash and checks collected were equal to cash and checks deposited; but after May 2012, on nearly every business day there was less cash deposited than received and more checks deposited than were received, the audit found.
The current amount of restitution the SBoA seeks from Ray is $150,000, but that amount is subject to change pending the release of the final audit report.
The State Board of Accounts conducts regularly scheduled audits of government units and, when completed, routinely certifies them to the Attorney General’s Office for collection if audits discover misappropriation of public funds. The 2009 state law allows the SBoA and Attorney General to take action earlier in the process based on a preliminary audit, when public funds would be at risk if the State waited for the regularly scheduled final audit to be completed.
In the motions filed today, the Attorney General’s Office asked the LaPorte County Circuit Court to freeze Ray’s assets, including real estate, vehicles and any bank or retirement accounts. The Attorney General’s Office asked the court to order that Ray’s assets not be transferred, concealed or distributed, so that funds would be available to reimburse the county if the court were to enter a judgment later.
Based on the eventual final audit report, the Attorney General’s Office could file a complaint to recover public funds at a later date, to seek civil collection of the final amount from Ray in order to reimburse the county treasury.
LaPorte County Circuit Court Judge Thomas J. Alevisos granted the temporary restraining order today against Ray and set the hearing on the motion for prejudgment attachment and garnishment for 11 a.m. September 16.
The final audit will review whether there was any surety bond coverage on Ray that the State could obtain to reimburse the county treasury for the shortage. Any amount not covered by bonds would be Ray’s personal responsibility to repay.
The Attorney General’s jurisdiction is civil only, to collect misappropriated public funds that have been misappropriated. Criminal charges, if any, would fall under the jurisdiction of the county prosecutor or U.S. Attorney and police agencies.
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GARY, IN, September 6, 2013 – An ad hoc committee of the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority evaluating 10 public-private partnership (P3) proposals to invest in the airport and the surrounding area, today announced it will initiate negotiations with two highly-qualified proposal teams.
The committee will report details about the teams – Aviation Facilities Company LLC/AvPorts Management LLC and The GCIA Group, LLC – to the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority board at its meeting next week.
“Of the 10 proposals the committee evaluated, these two teams stand out in numerous categories,” said Carrie J. Hightman, chair of the Ad Hoc Committee and executive vice president and chief legal officer of NiSource Inc. “We are initiating negotiations with the two teams that offer the most comprehensive opportunity to unlock value for good jobs and sustainable development.”
Hightman also said the committee expects negotiations will result in a final proposal to be presented the Airport Authority board in October.
The 10 proposals evaluated by the committee include firms and organizations with a wide range of expertise in many sectors such as aviation, finance and real estate management as well as urban and environmental planning and public art.
“Each of the 10 proposals has something to offer and we’ll be taking that into our negotiations with the leading teams,” said Hightman. “Every P3 airport model in the U.S. is unique so we have a tremendous opportunity to shape a successful P3 that encompasses many facets for the long-term benefit of Gary and the region.”
The committee evaluated each proposal using criteria included in six categories: general qualifications, development of regional assets, airport management, investment of capital, business/financial strength, and creativity and innovation.
In addition to Hightman, Ad Hoc committee members include:
· Marion Johnson – Pastor Mt. Moriah Baptist Church
· Bo Kemp – Managing Director, J Gari and Associates, Advisor to Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson
· Harley Snyder – Chief Executive Officer, HSC, Inc. Board Member of the Regional Development Authority
Advising the committee in the evaluation of proposals is Michael Zonsius, Chief Financial Officer of the Chicago Department of Aviation.
Tasked by the airport authority in February to explore a P3 to accelerate job creation and long-term investment in Gary and the Northwest Indiana region, the Ad Hoc committee is pursuing a P3 model that retains public ownership of the airport and benefits from private sector innovation and access to capital. In addition to the P3 exploration, major construction at the airport of a $166 million runway extending the main 7,000-foot runway by 1,900 continues.
The deadline for submissions for proposals was 5 p.m. (CDT) Monday August 26, 2013.
The Gary/Chicago International Airport is less than 30 minutes from the heart of the tri-state region – Chicago. The airport is directly connected to Chicago's transportation network through freight, interstate and mass-transit and has close proximity to multiple Lake Michigan ports.
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(Photo Courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff's Office)
A 24 year old Chicago man was taken into custody Wednesday and charged Thursday with illegally selling four guns, at least one of which reportedly ended up in the hands of a convicted felon. The Cook County Sheriff's Office reports Jevon Standback allegedly sold four guns he originally purchased in Florida to four people in March of 2012. Authorities say an investigation began after a MAC-11 semi-automatic pistol, which later found to be registered to Standback, was recovered in Harvey from the vehicle of a convicted felon who was injured in a crash after attempting to flee a traffic stop on July 24th.
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Sean Keefer will serve as Legislative Director in the Office of the Governor. He will join the Governor’s legislative team that includes former State Representative Jeff Espich, who serves as Senior Legislative Advisor. With extensive public service experience, Keefer currently serves as Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Labor. Under the Daniels administration, he served as Deputy Commissioner of Labor, as well as Legislative Director and Public Information Officer. Previously, Keefer served as Chief of Staff in the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) and Deputy Secretary of State and Chief of Staff in the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office. Prior to joining state government, Keefer worked as the Director of Global Health & Science Policy for the American College of Sports Medicine and in the public affairs division of Bose Public Affairs. Keefer, of Fishers, earned his undergraduate degree from Hillsdale College and his graduate degree from Indiana University. He will begin his new role on September 18, 2013.
Sarah Taylor will serve as Executive Director of the Hoosier Lottery beginning October 1, 2013. Taylor is the current Director of Constituent Services for the 48th Mayor of Indianapolis, Gregory A. Ballard. Twice elected as the Marion County Clerk, where she served for eight years, she acted as the chief financial officer for court receipts including child support monies and as chief election official for Indianapolis/Marion County. An Indiana native, Taylor, of Indianapolis, earned her undergraduate degree from Indiana University.
Tristan Vance will continue to lead the state’s energy efforts as Director of the Office of Energy Development (OED). Vance was first appointed to lead OED in February of 2012. He previously worked as special assistant to Lt. Governor Skillman starting in 2005 and later joined the Government Efficiency and Financial Planning group in the Office of Management and Budget in 2007. There, he monitored efficiency at several state agencies, including OED. Vance is from Paoli and is a graduate of Hanover College.
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The Hammond Police Department recently participated in the nationwide "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" traffic safety campaign. During the course of this campaign, officers performed a sobriety checkpoint and roving DUI patrols. Officers made a total of 12 operating while intoxicated arrests and issued a total of 784 other citations for such things as speeding, driving while suspended, equipment violations, and seat belt violations. Thirteen criminal arrests were also made including arrests for possession of marijuana, and outstanding arrest warrants. Funding for this campaign was provided by NHTSA through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.
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(Photo Courtesy of the LaPorte Police Department)
A man named earlier this week as the LaPorte Police Department's Wanted Person of the Week, has reported surrendered himself to law enforcement. The LaPorte Police Department reports Edward Holman turned himself in on Thursday without incident. Holman was wanted on a warrant out of LaPorte Circuit Court for the charge of felony criminal sexual deviate conduct and was considered armed and dangerous. Police thank the public for their assistance with tips.
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The park is at US 6 and Meridian Road; the proposed site is 16-hundred feet east of Meridian. The current shelter on State Road 2 south of US 30 has been described as old, outdated and overcrowded. Porter County Sheriff David Lain,whose department is responsible for animal control, told the Region News Team earlier this week a developing situation with Hobart's Humane Society saying the Hobart shelter will have to stop taking in animals from Portage is also affecting the Porter County Animal Shelter.
You can hear our interviews with Commissioner Blaney and Sheriff Lain at News Audio on Demand here at our website.
Detours in and around Valparaiso begin early this evening for the 35th annual Popcorn Fest Saturday (Sept 7). Valparaiso Police Sgt. Michael Grennes says many road closures start around 6-o'clock tonight (Friday Sept 6). Valparaiso Police also say there's a slight route change that takes this year's Popcorn Panic run/walk a litte further north, and it'll end a little closer to Central Park in downtown Valpo. Police also remind festival goers that skateboards and bicycles are not allowed at the fest, and all dogs must be on a leash, though police strongly encourage visitors to not bring dogs to the fest. Here's more info from Valparaiso Police:
The Valparaiso Police Department is issuing a traffic alert for Saturday due to the annual Popcorn Festival downtown Valparaiso. Many roadways throughout the city will have heavier than normal traffic and many roadways especially in the morning will be closed for the Popcorn Panic Run and Popcorn Parade.
Downtown roadways will begin closing Friday evening. Starting at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, Lincolnway from downtown west to Campbell St. then north on Campbell to Glendale will be completely closed to traffic for the Popcorn Panic race/walk. Roadways will re-open shortly after the race/walk concludes and then re-close just prior to the parade starting at 10 a.m. The parade route includes Calumet from Evans south bound on Morgan Blvd. to Lincolnway then west bound to Campbell St and northbound to Park Ave.
Bicycles and skateboards are not permitted in the downtown area during the festival. Individuals with these items will be asked to leave the festival by police. All dogs must be on a leash and individuals are strongly encouraged not to bring dogs to the festival.
Residents should expect traffic delays during the morning hours and plan alternate routes of travel on Saturday.
[Photo courtesy Valpo Parks Department]
For more info about the Popcorn Fest: http://www.valparaisoevents.com/popcorn%20festival/
Plans are in the works for the state's first underwater nature preserve off the Lake Michigan shoreline in Northwest Indiana. The Natural Resource Commission is scheduled to vote on the “J.D. Marshall Preserve” September 17, and if approved, an official dedication ceremony would happen at the end of the month. The J.D. Marshall, a 154-foot wooden commercial vessel built for the lumber trade then converted to a sand barge, capsized in a storm, killing four crew members. The site of the June 1911 shipwreck is north of the Indiana Dunes State Park. The preserve would be marked by buoys to protect the remains of ship and keep boats from dropping anchor there. The Marshall's huge cast-iron propeller is at the park, and other artifacts are on display at the Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center.
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
After 35 years of service in the National Parks System, and six years as the Superintendent of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Superintendent Costa Dillon has officially retired. We recently spoke to Dillon during a recent Region News Makers interview who says the aspect of park service he anticipates missing the most is working with the visitors of the parks.
Indiana Dunes Public Information Officer Bruce Rowe says while Dillon was Superintendent he made a lot of progress on a wide variety of projects and helped to improve facilities, and pointed out specifically Portage Lakefront, which he says opened up during his time as Superintendent and is the single most popular spot in terms of attendance in the entire National Lakeshore.
Dillon has received numerous awards throughout his career, including the Stephen T. Mather Award from the National Parks Conservation Association. Now that he has retired, Dillon says, starting in January, he'll be joining the faculty of the University of New Hampshire teaching Recreation Management and Policy, and says he is still involved in the movie business, as a part owner of Killer Tomato Entertainment, the company that brought us four “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes” films. To hear more of our interview with Costa Dillon, visit http://regionnewsteam.com/.
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The Food Bank of Northwest Indiana officially kicked off Hunger Action Month at Wicker Park Pavilion in Highland this afternoon opening a Mobile Market. It was set up like a farmers market and the Food Bank gave clients 25-dollars worth of “Food Bank Bucks” they could use to shop for items. The Food Bank reports 600 families attended last years event and planned for 700 this year. Executive Director Arleen Peterson presented Strack and Van Til the organization's “Hunger Champions Award” for 2013 at the Mobile Market, which was also attended by the Mayor of Gary and Munster State Representative Mara Candelaria Reardon.
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In this meeting the 8 doctors drafted a ten-point discussion as to why Congress should support President Barack Obama in his request to have the United States military intervene in the crisis. The document includes:
1. The United States cannot avoid being pulled into the conflict; 2. Each day the United States waits to act, the number of extremists entering Syria increases; 3. Intervention in Syria is not comparable to Iraq or Afghanistan (rather it’s like Kosovo or Rwanda); 4. The conflict in Syria is not a civil war; sectarianism inside Syria has been introduced by the (Bashar al-) Assad regime and other regional forces; 5. Inaction by the United States risks breeding extremism among the more vulnerable Syrian youth; 6. What is stopping the Assad regime from repeating the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD’s) against the Syrian people and American allies in the region? 7. Rouge governments; namely Iran and North Korea, are closely watching the U. S. response to Syria’s use of chemical ways; 8. The United States has tried diplomacy over the past 30 months, and it has not worked; 9, Lack of action by the United States will embolden the Assad regime and 10, Americans cannot expect the Syrians to make progress towards their ultimate goal of political, civic and economic freedoms without additional U. S. and international support
Led by Doctors Abdul Kawamleh and Wayel Kaakaji, the physicians are concerned for the safety of their fellow Syrians. "The Syrian people cannot tolerate any more of the Assad regime, which is killing hundreds of civilians every day," says Dr. Kawamleh who goes on to explain,. “It is now confirmed that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against its own people on at least 24 occasion. For example, on August 21, 1429 people died in the regime’s latest attack using sarin chemicals, which included 426 children who died from suffocation when they sought to find shelter from the attack." The latter was the largest in scare and number of fatalities.
Secretary of State John Kerry agrees. In his September 3 testimony before the U S Senate Foreign Relations Committee Kerry said, “This attack against some 1400 Syrian people is a despot’s brutal and flagrant use of chemical weapons.”
But many more "innocent civilians" are being killed by missiles, air attacks, artillery fire, and sniper attacks, and over 2 million Syrians have become refugees as a result of the conflict..
Attending the meeting with Kawamlehand Kaakaji were Doctors H. Safadi, A. Safadi, Alnahass, Ghaith Atassi, Faleh Atassi, Bassel Shughoury, Firas Zeitoun, Yaser Alobeid and Elian Shepherd. Of those attending, a few have traveled to Syria and Jordan to see for themselves the atrocities inflicted by the Assad forces on the Syrian people. Those physicians who have traveled to the Middle East have also provided free medical care and supplies to as many as they could manage in a two to four week visit.
“The Syrian people have a long history of acceptance and tolerance among religions and sects," says Dr. Kawamleh, “The Assad regime has showed that they are willing to use WMD’s to stay in power.” He adds, “By not intervening, Syria grows more unsettled and unstabilized.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has drafted a resolution in support of given Mr.Obama the powers he is requesting, and the full Senate is expected to adopt the resolution. The same powers may face more difficulty in the U. S. House of Representatives when it takes up the resolution next week.
Kawamleh says, "Over one million Syrian are living in absolute squalor in refugee camps throughout the Middle East, including Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. If the United States does not act to stop the Assad regime, and help these children return home to their families, this society will risk lose a generation of Syrians to extremism. That then could be a social nightmare for all civilized nations of the world."
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Police in Michigan City are investigating an attempted murder that took place Tuesday morning. Authorities report at approximately 4am, 25 year old Mark Higgins was shot with a handgun numerous times in the parking lot of Canterbury Apartments, in the five-hundred block of Herring Gull Lane. Michigan City Police report at last check, they have no suspect identified or suspect description. Higgins is reportedly recovering at an area hospital and anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Michigan City Police.
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Fort Wayne, IN — The American Red Cross is urging blood donations during September to help support the initiatives of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and National Sickle Cell Disease Awareness Month.
“Our blood donors help make a difference for many types of patients, including children with cancer and those who need ongoing treatment for sickle cell disease,” said Sharyn Whitman, CEO Indiana-Ohio Blood Services Region. “Blood transfusions are crucial to both groups of individuals and play an important part in helping to extend and save their lives.”
According to the American Cancer Society’s webpage, about 11,630 children in the United States under the age of 15 will be diagnosed with cancer in 2013. Cancer patients need frequent transfusions, often involving multiple blood products, particularly during chemotherapy and radiation therapies.
Blood transfusions also help those who have sickle cell disease (SCD), an inherited blood disorder that occurs more commonly in African Americans, but can also affect other ethnic groups. The distorted red blood cells in SCD patients can cause physical pain, stroke, anemia and organ damage. Although there is no cure at this time, multiple red blood cell transfusions can help protect SCD patients from some of the complications of the disease.
“Steady and consistent blood donations are key to a strong blood supply,” said Whitman. “There is a wide variety of medical conditions requiring blood transfusion, and the only source are volunteer blood donors.”
Residents have the opportunity to donate at these local blood drives:
· Monday, Sept. 16, from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. at St. Teresa of Avila in the Catholic Student Center, located at 1604 Lincolnway in Valparaiso. Come to donate and receive a coupon for a free Varsity haircut at participating Sport Clips locations.
· Tuesday, Sept. 17, from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. at The Gathering Place in the Meeting Room, located at 131 N. Main St. in Hebron.
· Wednesday, Sept. 18, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at Heritage Lutheran Church in the Fellowship Hall, located at 308 Washington St. in Valparaiso.
· Monday, Sept. 23, from 11:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. at St. Peter Lutheran Church in the Kitchen & Social Hall, located at 6540 Central Ave. in Portage.
· Tuesday, Sept. 24, from 2:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. at Faith Memorial Lutheran Church, located at 753 N. Calumet in Valparaiso.
· Thursday, Sept. 26, from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in The Gathering Space, located at 505 Bullseye Lake Road in Valparaiso.
· Friday, Sept. 27, 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.
· Sunday, Sept. 29, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at Walmart, located at 2400 Morthland Drive in Valparaiso. Come to donate and receive a coupon for a free Varsity haircut at participating Sport Clips locations. This blood drive is sponsored by Woodforest National Bank.
How to donate blood
Simply call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or visit redcrossblood.org to make an appointment or for more information. All blood types are needed to ensure a reliable supply for patients. A blood donor card or driver’s license or two other forms of identification are required at check-in. Individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent in some states), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.
About the American Red Cross
The 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 visit us on Twitter at @RedCrossIO.
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- LaPorte PD Wanted Person of the Week: Edward Holman
- Moderate Drought in NW Indiana
- Drive-In Movie Night at Marquette Park
- IBLC Legislative Symposium at IUN Friday
- ABATE Hosts 'Scooter Summit'
- Alert Cancelled, Child Found Safe
- Gov Pence Japan Trip Begins
- Plea Deal in 'Sexting' Case
- Chicago Group Opposed to Illiana
- More Craig's List Robberies Reported in Gary
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