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FBI and IRS at Lake Station City Hall

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(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
Federal agents from the FBI and IRS executed a warrant this morning at Lake Station City Hall. The Times reports the agents would not discuss the nature of their visit, why or even how long they'd be in the city. According to the article, Lake Station's Clerk-Treasure says the FBI and IRS launched a federal investigation in late June and she believes it is in regards to city bond collections that went missing, but was later found in the car of Mayor Keith Soderquist's step-daughter, a former city employee. The Times reports she found almost 16-thousand dollars in a bag, which she turned in to city officials. The state office supervisor reports the missing money, in addition to financial errors were found during a routine annual audit of the city....

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Possible Armed Assailant Reported at Ball State

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Police are currently conducting a second sweep of Ball State University's Student Recreation and Wellness Center after a possible armed gunman was reported near campus. An alert was issued by the university late this afternoon and urged staff and students to secure themselves in a safe area until the “all-clear” is given. Several roads around the campus have also been shutdown as a precaution. No further information is available at this time. ...

Read more: Possible Armed Assailant Reported at Ball State

 

Merrillville Man Found Guilty of Murdering Store Clerk

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A 22 year old Merrillville man was found guilty today by a jury for murdering a store clerk in March of 2012. Jeremy Blue will be sentenced on January 16th and faces 85 years in prison for the death of 48 year old Judi-Simpson-Beaver that took place during an armed robbery at Lucky Mart Foods in Merrillville. ...

Read more: Merrillville Man Found Guilty of Murdering Store Clerk

 

Portage Man Sentenced to 84 Years

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A 54 year old Portage man was sentenced to 84 years in prison today. Scott Nicol was found guilty in September on four-counts of molesting two young girls in Portage, from January 2010 to August 2011. ...

Read more: Portage Man Sentenced to 84 Years

 

Five Points Roundabout in Valpo Now Partially Open

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The new roundabout at the five-points intersection of Calumet Avenue, Vale Park and Roosevelt Roads in Valparaiso is now partially open. Mayor Jon Costas says, “We can all be more confident in this efficient new traffic circle as it promises to move traffic more quickly and more safely than the 5-way intersection it replaces.”

The city's Redevelopment Commission Executive Director, Stu Summers, says a special dedication and tree-lighting ceremony is planned this weekend, at 4:30 pm Sunday, November 24th, at the Kmart parking lot at the northwest corner of the roundabout. The tree was transplanted from the city park and now sits in the middle of the roundabout. The event is free and open to the public. The entire roundabout should be open sometime Sunday, November 24th.

 

Read more: Five Points Roundabout in Valpo Now Partially Open

 

Threat of Severe Weather Possible on Sunday

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Mild temperatures on Sunday may be bringing with it the threat of severe weather to northwest Indiana. Dr. Bart Wolf, Associate Professor of Meteorology at Valparaiso University, says he suspects shower and thunderstorm activity in most of northwest Indiana with high winds and no meaningful hail.   As for the possibility of tornadoes associated with this storm, Dr. Wolf says he is not really worried about any tornado activity in our area, as the main threat from those are to the south and east of northwest Indiana.
According to the National Weather Service in Chicago, Sunday's forecast calls for temperatures in upper 60's with a 70-percent chance of rain and thunderstorms, and wind gusts as high as 30 miles per hour at times. ...

Read more: Threat of Severe Weather Possible on Sunday

 

US Postal Service Reports $5 Billion Loss

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The US Postal Service is reporting another big loss. ABC News reports the postal service says it lost five billion dollars in the last 12 months - making this the seventh straight losing year in a row. This comes after the agency defaulted last month on a five-point-six billion dollar payment for retiree health benefits. The postmaster general has been begging Congress to pass emergency legislation, restructuring those benefit payments, ending Saturday delivery and finding other ways to offset big drops in revenue from first class mail. ...

Read more: US Postal Service Reports $5 Billion Loss

 

Structure Fire in LaPorte Remains Under Investigation

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LaPorte PD
In LaPorte, police are seeking information from the public regarding a Tuesday night structure fire. Police say fire crews were called out to the scene, in the two-hundred block of Washington Street, just before 10pm and no injuries were reported as the structure was deemed vacant at the time of the fire. The cause remains under investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact LaPorte Police, at 362-9446, and you can remain anonymous....

Read more: Structure Fire in LaPorte Remains Under Investigation

 

Blue Murder Trial Goes to Jurors

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Jurors at last check were deliberating the fate of a 22 year old Merrillville man accused of killing a store clerk in March of 2012. Both the defense and prosecution presented their closing arguments in the trial of Jeremy Blue. Blue allegedly killed 48 year old Judi-Simpson-Beaver at Lucky Mart Foods in Merrillville during an armed robbery....

Read more: Blue Murder Trial Goes to Jurors

 

Wanted Sex Offender in Custody

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Stephen Rootes
(Photo Courtesy of the LaPorte County Sheriff's Office)
A wanted sex offender sought by the LaPorte County Sheriff's Office for felony failure to register is now in custody. The Sheriff's Office reports 31 year old Stephen Rootes surrendered himself at the Jail on Thursday afternoon. Authorities say Rootes moved from a home in the 11-hundred block of Farrand Avenue in late October and did not notify authorities. Rootes was convicted of felony sexual misconduct with a minor in 2007 and again in 2011, in a separate incident. The Sheriff's Office says the media coverage played an instrumental role in Rootes surrendering himself....

Read more: Wanted Sex Offender in Custody

 

Blue Top Drive In Gets Second Life

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The legendary Blue Top Drive In is getting a second life in the region thanks to new owners, Dennis Miniuk and John Golfis. We spoke with John on their plans for the future, including opening the restaurant by January. The pair say they enjoyed the Blue Top in its glory days and cannot wait to make it a desination for future generations. For more on the renovation of this iconic Region spot, listen to our full interview with John at Region News On Demand here on our website....

Read more: Blue Top Drive In Gets Second Life

   

Prescribed Fire Planned near Ogden Dunes

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From Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore: Fire crews from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore will be burning approximately 125 acres, in the Tolleston unit in the West Beach area of the park, near Ogden Dunes, Indiana on Friday November 15, 2013.
As long as weather conditions remain good, crews will be burning the parcel of land on the north side of U.S. Highway 12, west of Hillcrest Road, to reduce potential wild fire fuel, and improve animal and plant habitats.
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 will do everything possible to limit smoke in the area by monitoring wind and atmospheric conditions prior to ignitions. However, smoke drifting in and around park lands and roadways is possible.
Clear management goals and objectives have been established for each burn unit. Before burning, a designated set of conditions must exist including ideal air temperature, wind speed and direction, and relative humidity. Weather conditions will be monitored throughout the duration of the burn to ensure the fire is completed safely....

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Part of Austin Ave in Schererville to Close 3 Days

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Traffic-Advisory
The town of Schererville says part of Austin Avenue will be closed part of next week for utility work. Austin will be closed from US 30 to North Road next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, November 19th through the 21st. Officials say the closure is critical to the safety of work crews responsible for finishing that part of the Austin Avenue Reconstruction Project on the south side of US 30. The detour is Cline Avenue to the east....

Read more: Part of Austin Ave in Schererville to Close 3 Days

   

Hammond Crews Respond to Kitchen Fire

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No injuries were reported in an early morning kitchen fire in Hammond today. Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Margraf says Hammond crews responded to the 64-hundred block of Euclid at 3:30 am and were able to leave about a half-hour later. Officials say the stove had apparently been in use, gas burners and oven, to heat the home, and combustible materials, possibly clothing, may have been nearby. Margraf says crews were able to extinguish the fire relatively quickly. He says family members were already outside the home when crews arrived, and the family may be displaced due to overall conditions at the home. The American Red Cross was contacted to assist in finding a place for the family to stay....

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No Injuries Reported in Gary Fire

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In Gary, no injuries are being reported after the roof fell in during an early-morning fire at an abandoned apartment building. Fire crews responded shortly before 6-o'clock this morning to West 25th Avenue and Washington Street just a block west of Broadway. Firefighters reportedly found people on the roof and got them down safely. Crews were on scene for about a half-hour. ...

Read more: No Injuries Reported in Gary Fire

   

Donnelly Supports 'Keep Affordable Care Act Promise Act'

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Indiana Democrat US Senator Joe Donnelly Thursday afternoon announced his support for the Keep the Affordable Care Act Promise Act (S. 1642), legislation he says would allow Americans who like their current health care plans to keep them.

“I have said from the beginning that this healthcare law is not perfect, which is why I’ve repeatedly worked to improve it,” said Donnelly. “The problems with the website and canceled plans are unacceptable.  That is why I am sponsoring legislation that would allow individuals to keep their current health plans.
“There are too many on the left who say that we shouldn’t change anything and too many on the right who say we should just repeal the entire bill.  I’d rather work in a bipartisan way to improve the law so it works better for Hoosier families.”
Senator Donnelly says the Keep the Affordable Care Act Promise Act would do three things:
•  Require health insurance companies to clearly notify all current individual market policyholders as to why their plan is subject to being cancelled.  Specifically, insurance companies would have to reference which parts of the policy do not meet the essential health benefit package and other requirements under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
•  Prohibit health insurance companies from cancelling grandfathered plans in the individual market unless an individual cancels the policy, changes the policy, or defaults on payments.
•  Reaffirm that grandfathered plans would qualify as minimum essential coverage...

Read more: Donnelly Supports 'Keep Affordable Care Act Promise Act'

   

Coats: Fix Health Care by Starting Over

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Senator Dan Coats

President Obama Thursday announced that any health care plans that were going to be canceled can now remain in effect for one year.  Indiana Republican US Senator Dan Coats says a real fix would be to start over on bi-partisan health care reforms. "This announcement is yet another indication that the administration is beginning to see the reality of their disastrous, one-size-fits-all government-run health care system," Senator Coats said. "Already, more than a dozen times the President has changed, delayed or withdrawn parts of his own health care law."   Senator Coats says as long as Obamacare remains in place, Hoosiers will face the threat of losing their current health coverage, losing access to their doctors, and paying higher premiums and tax penalties.
Here is the Senator's full statement: November 14, 2013 WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) issued the following statement today regarding the announcement by President Obama that the administration will allow insurance companies to extend existing health plans in 2014 only for individuals already enrolled, delaying some insurance expiration notices for up to one year:
“The voices of Hoosiers and Americans across the country frustrated with Obamacare are beginning to resonate at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” said Coats. “Already, more than a dozen times, the president has changed, delayed or withdrawn parts of his own health care law. President Obama’s announcement today is yet another indication that the administration is beginning to see the reality of their disastrous, one-size-fits-all, government-run health care system. 
“Obamacare is fundamentally flawed and it’s time the president put Americans above politics. As long as Obamacare remains in place, Hoosiers will face the threat of losing their current health coverage, losing access to their doctors and paying higher premiums and tax penalties. A real ‘fix’ for Hoosiers and Americans would be to start over on real, bipartisan reforms that deliver affordable, quality health care.”
According to the Congressional Research Service, President Obama already has signed 14 laws and has taken five independent steps to change or repeal parts of his own health care law.
More than 4.2 million Americans have had their health care insurance plans cancelled because of Obamacare, including approximately 108,000 Hoosiers.
Earlier today, Coats spoke on the Senate floor and shared stories from Hoosiers about the impact of Obamacare. Click here&feature=c4-overview&list=UUipTNiqJBYHutxpMxo0UOYw"> to watch: &feature=c4-overview&list=UUipTNiqJBYHutxpMxo0UOYw">&feature=c4-overview&list=UUipTNiqJBYHutxpMxo0UOYw

 
...

Read more: Coats: Fix Health Care by Starting Over

   

Video of Vehicle Analyzed in Merrillville Homicide

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In Merrillville, police reportedly have video surveillance of a vehicle as they continue to investigate a shooting death discovered at Piatak Meats near 61st and Broadway earlier this month. Those images have not been released. The Northwest Indiana Major Crimes Task Force says 27-year-old Andrew Fugate of Hobart was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say Fugate had shown up to work at 4 am the morning of Monday November 4th to do prep work before opening the store. Authorities have said nothing was taken from the business, but physical evidence indicated an attempted burglary had taken place.

Read more: Video of Vehicle Analyzed in Merrillville Homicide

   

Memorial Service for Woman Who Disappeared in 1999

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A funeral service is planned in Hammond Saturday for a woman who disappeared more than a decade ago. Police reports say Francine Carlson was 38 years old and living in Whiting/Robertsdale when she was reported missing in June of 1999. In October 2011, her remains were discovered in Hammond after a bone was found by a dog at the site of a former bait and tackle shop that was being torn down in the 17-hundred block of Indianapolis Boulevard. Her death was ruled a homicide in March of this year.  Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller has said they spoke to more than 30 people regarding the case, and identified a then 50 year old man as a suspect, who passed away a few years ago. Chief Miller says he believes the suspect was a friend of the victim, and was probably the last person seen with her.  The memorial service will be held 4 to 6 p.m. at Burns Kish Funeral Home in Hammond, Saturday, November 16....

Read more: Memorial Service for Woman Who Disappeared in 1999

   

LaPorte County Jail Implements Video Visitation

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The LaPorte County Sheriff's Office announced today that they recently implemented a new video visitation system. Captain Michael Kellems says the video visitations, which were initiated on November 6th, no longer restricts those visiting loved ones because now all you need is a home computer with an internet connection and a web cam.
Captain Kellems says the public can schedule visits on line and visit remotely when it is convenient for them. Meanwhile he says this system frees up the jail resources and virtually eliminates the risk of contraband entering the jail. It also means the traditional visitation is now a thing of the past, so if you do not have the ability to do a video visit from home you can come to the jail where they have eight booths available, but you must schedule an appointment prior to visiting. ...

Read more: LaPorte County Jail Implements Video Visitation

   

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