Pence: Avoid Unnecessary Travel During Winter Storm

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Gov Mike Pence
Indiana Governor Mike Pence issued a statement today urging motorists to avoid unnecessary travel as winter storms continue throughout much of the state. Governor Pence says, “Hoosier motorists may be assured that the State of Indiana will continue to monitor the road conditions and weather and will respond with all available resources.” Since the storms hit the Hoosier state late Wednesday into Thursday morning, INDOT has deployed more than 740 trucks and crews and will continue to work to clear roadways as the snow continues to fall.
Road conditions are accessible at For up-to-date county travel statuses, Hoosiers are encouraged to visit

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Keeping Safe Driving Resolutions

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AARP logo
While geared toward those 50 years and older, the A-A-R-P Smart Driver Course can help any driver learn the skills to stay safe behind the wheel.   
According to Indiana state coordinator Lesley Pence, trained instructors cover the ever-changing challenges on the roads, including construction, cul-de-sacs, roundabouts and dangerous weather conditions.
 "There are so many new things that are happening that it is a learning process, and even though we might be a little older, we have to continue to learn to deal with changing road conditions."
 Pence said 97 percent of those who take the course change at least one driving behavior, and that another important aspect of what they teach people in class is when to look for those signs that it is time to consider giving up driving.
 "Unfortunately we all have to cross that bridge someday, and we think that we can help with that so people realize that maybe it is time to turn in the keys."
 Pence said the course is helping to both to build confidence in older drivers, and to keep them and others safe on the roads.
 "A number of older people have come back to me and said, 'You know, what we actually learned in class did save our lives.' That's why it's so important to give these people something that can help them and keep them driving longer on the road."
 The AARP Smart Driver course is offered in both classroom and online settings, and you do not need to be an AARP member to take it. Additionally, some insurance companies offer discounts upon completion of the course. For more information about courses in Indiana, you can go to



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News Videos Surface of Missing Michigan Doctor

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Teleka Patrick
New videos have surfaced of a missing Michigan doctor from Kalamazoo - showing her with an unknown man in a hotel room. Is this the clue investigators have been searching for?  ABC news reports the bizarre videos show 30-year-old Teleka Patrick talking to, singing, buying flowers and cooking for a mysterious possible love interest. "I am dressed up for you." Teleka's family says they say they thought she was single. And now because of this new discovery, police are scouring her computers.
Patrick's car was later found with a flat tire the night of December 5th in a ditch on the side of westbound I-94, just east of the Porter/Burns Harbor exit....

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Attempted Purse Theft at Portage Wal-Mart

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portage pd
Two men were arrested Tuesday afternoon after a physical altercation erupted, stemming from the attempted theft of a purse, at the Portage Wal-Mart. Portage Police report a witness reported hearing a woman screaming for help, and located her in the laundry detergent aisle, where a black male in a red coat was reportedly attempting to flee with her purse. The suspect, later identified as 19 year old Charles Reed III, was grabbed by the witness and an altercation ensued until other patrons came to hold down Reed until Loss Prevention and police arrived. Reed is charged with felony theft and misdemeanor battery, for allegedly striking a patron. A 20 year old Lake Station man, who witnesses say was in the mix of the altercation, was arrested on a warrant in Lake Station for failure to appear for never obtaining a license and conversion....

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Two Day Snowfall Totals, More Snow Coming

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national weather service
Hoosiers northwest Indiana are bracing for several more inches of snow today as folks try to clear the streets of flakes that have already fallen. In the last two-days, the National Weather Service in Chicago reports the heaviest snowfall in parts of Valparaiso, with seven-point-seven inches of snow, six-point-four inches has fallen in Porter. A Lake Effect Snow Warning remains in effect for portions of northwest Indiana until midnight, with a Lake Effect Snow Advisory continuing for the rest of northwest Indiana until 6am Friday. For more snowfall totals, visit

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Snow Route Restrictions in Effect in Highland

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Highland PD
In Highland, police are reminding residents that snow route parking restrictions are in effect. Highland Police report if you are on a snow route, please remove your vehicle from the street, so plows can clear them. Vehicles in designated snow routes that are not moved face ticketing and towing....

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Stabbing in LaPorte Remains Under Investigation

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LaPorte PD
A stabbing in LaPorte last week remains under investigation. LaPorte Police announced today they were called out to the 500 block of Philadelphia Street at approximately 12:40am on Friday and during their investigation a woman informed officers she and her boyfriend had been drinking and while sitting down to eat, she alleged her boyfriend starting calling her obscene names and began slapping her. Police report the woman said she took a steak knife from a kitchen drawer and swung it towards him, stabbing him in the side. The man was later transported to South Bend Memorial for his injuries. ...

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Valpo Chamber to Honor Carberry, Rodenbarger

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George Carberry, Dr. Jerry Rodenbarger
On Saturday, January 18, 2014, the Valpo Chamber will honor George Carberry, managing partner at Burke Costanza & Carberry LLP, with the 2013 Distinguished Community Leader Award and Dr. Jerry Rodenbarger, primary surgeon and founding partner at Vale Park Animal Hospital, with the 2013 Legacy of Service Award at its annual “Salute to Leadership" dinner, at Stongbow Inn, 2405 US 30 E.   The black-tie optional evening will begin with cocktails at 6:00 p.m., dinner at 7:00 p.m., with the awards ceremony to follow. [Photos provided]
"The Distinguished Community Leader Award is given to an individual who demonstrates a leadership role, is successful in promoting and developing business and industry, is involved and contributes to the community, has a general reputation among the community business leaders and enhances the quality of life in our community on a sustained basis," states Rex Richards, Chamber president." George embodies what this award represents."
The Legacy of Service Award gives special recognition to individuals in the community who have, over the course of time or in an extraordinary circumstance, given service to the community beyond what is expected in their profession.
"Jerry is a terrific example to which others might aspire and learn the value of community service," added Richards.
Both Carberry and Rodenbarger were nominated for the awards by their chamber peers.
Outgoing 2013 Board members, including Board Chair Jonathan Nalli, Porter Health Care System, and incoming 2014 Board Chair, Tina Bengs, Olgetree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, will also be recognized for their service.
Six Valpo Chamber businesses will also be recognized with Business Longevity Awards. Companies celebrating milestones are: 1st Source Bank, 150 years; March of Dimes, 75 years; Boy-Conn Print & Copy, Comcast Business, Ivy Tech Community College, and Raymond James & Associates each with 50 years.
Presenting sponsor for the event is Porter Health Care System. For reservations, call the Valpo Chamber at (219) 462-1105 or register online at ....

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Policy Change Means No More 1st Baby Announcement

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With the new year comes another reminder that times are changing. A long-standing tradition of announcing first baby born in Porter County has come to an end at Porter Regional Hospital, where officials cite new policies regarding safety and risk management.
In Lake County, first baby of the year was born at 12:37 am Wednesday. Anthony Michael Valsi entered the word at Franciscan St. Anthony Health in Crown Point, the first child for parents Melissa and Eric Valsi of Crown Point.   ...

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Plow Drivers Battle Heavy Snow, Winds

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The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) says heavy snowfall during the past 24 hours has made for difficult driving conditions on most interstates, U.S. highways, and state routes across the area, despite a full callout of plow trucks on the roads.  More than 170 INDOT plow drivers have been on the roads across INDOT's Northwest Indiana District since the snow began to fall. Route cycles result in plow trucks treating lanes every 2 to 3 hours, but ongoing continuous snowfall and strong winds, especially in the rural open areas, make clearing pavement especially challenging.  INDOT says alternating 12-hour shifts of plow drivers will continue as long as necessary and resources will be adjusted as needed to keep highways open and as safe as possible.
More info from INDOT:
Motorists should expect difficult driving conditions, and should avoid unnecessary travel. Always give snow plows room to safely do their work, adjust speed according to weather and road conditions, don’t follow too closely, and brake early and slowly.
Drivers in Northwest Indiana can monitor road conditions and traffic alerts at any time via the District’s social media channels: or Twitter @INDOTNorthwest. Or visit for INDOT’s TrafficWise Traveler Information Service....

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South Shore Passengers Advised of Email, Text Svc

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The operators of the South Shore line today are advising passengers of ways to keep in contact with the commuter line in light of today's snow. The South Shore's 800 number remains out of service pending reprogramming to the RTA's new travel center vendor, and the RTA is experiencing higher call volumes due to the snow storm, so callers may encounter a busy signal. Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) says a free text and email alert service are available at their website, . ...

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Indiana Search Enters Day Five for Illinois Woman

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Today marks day five in the search for a missing Des Plaines Illinois woman officials say disappeared in flood waters in southwestern Indiana.  Officials say 31-year-old Cathryn McGill was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by her husband 35-year-old Adam when their pickup truck was swept off the roadway in flood waters on Highway 257 Sunday morning. Adam McGill was rescued but his wife couldn't be found. Indiana Conservation Officers say they were hopeful Wednesday after flood waters drastically receded and partially exposed the Chevy Colorado driven by the McGill’s, but new obstacles also came into view, including large debris piles mostly made up of corn stalks and trees.  Officers and members of area fire eepartments spent the day completing shore and boat-based searches along with deploying divers to search the debris piles. Officers also deployed a remote operated vehicle with sonar capabilities.  Search operations were set to resume shortly after daylight today.  [Photo/courtesy Indiana Conservation Officers]...

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Lake Effect Now, 'Polar Plunge' for Region Temps Coming

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Portions of Northwest Indiana are bracing for lake effect snowfall today and Friday.  We have a Lake Effect Snow Warning through late tonight for Lake County here in the Region, and a newly-issued Lake Effect Snow Advisory for Porter County this afternoon through early Friday.  Meteorologists say the potential exists for "intense snow squalls" to develop which could result in greatly reduced visibility and very hazardous travel conditions.  North to northeast winds of 15 to 25 mph with gusts up to 30 mph will also create the hazard of blowing and drifting snow.  Additional snowfall is possible over the weekend, then dangerously cold temperatures are expected Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday, with readings of 12 below zero, before the wind chill, possible Monday night.
Chicago National Weather Service website:
Northern Indiana Weather Service website:

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NIRPC Offers Clean Air Tips for Winter

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Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC) is encouraging northwest Indiana residents to take simple steps to improve air quality during the winter months. Kathy Luther, Director of Environmental Programs for NIRPC, says a lot of times we think more about air quality in the summer, “because that's ozone season, but we also have air quality issues with fine particulates,” tiny bits of soot and particles in the air and something Luther says we need to be thinking about year round.   Particulate matter, a mixture of microscopic solids and liquid drops of pollution suspended in the air, can come from burning in fireplaces, wood stoves and idling cars. “Taking small, simple actions this winter can help to improve the air quality of our region.”  
Tips for improving winter air quality include:
    Replace manual thermostats with a programmable thermostats
    Inspect heating ducts and change air filters in your heating system
    Reducing vehicle idling
    Use alternative transportation whenever possible
    Properly maintain your vehicle through regular oil changes and maintenance services
    Switch to electric snow removal products instead of gas-powered products
    Replace disposable batteries with rechargeable ones to prepare for winter storm outages
Hear our interview with Kathy Luther at News Audio on Demand here at our website.
Additional info from NIRPC:
Partners for Clean Air is a coalition of Northwest Indiana businesses, industries, local governments, and community groups committed to raising awareness. To learn how your organization can be a part of Partners for Clean Air, please visit
Northwest Indiana CleanAir is a partnership between the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission and the people and business of Northwest Indiana to help all residents Think Green & Breathe Easy — understanding and inspiring action to continue improving the air quality of our unique region. To learn more, visit
Also for more info:

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Franciscan Applauds Ruling on Health Care Provision

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A federal judge in northern Indiana has ordered a halt on a new federal health care provision that Franciscan Alliance says infringes on religious rights. US District Judge Jon DeGuilio granted a preliminary injunction blocking a federal mandate that would have required the northwest Indiana hospitals and health care facilities to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs free-of-charge to their employees in the new year.
"We simply asked that the government not impose its values and policies on plaintiffs, in direct violation of our religious beliefs," said Kevin Leahy, president/CEO of Franciscan Alliance.
“Franciscan Alliance is proud of its heritage as a Not-For-Profit Catholic Health Care Corporation dedicated to is Mission of Continuing Christ’s Ministry in Our Franciscan Tradition,” said Sister Jane Marie Klein, chairperson of Franciscan Alliance’s Board of Trustees “We have adhered to the tenets of the Catholic faith and continue to look to our sponsor, the Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration, for guidance in continuing its 138-year history of providing health care to those we are privileged to serve in the United States.”
DeGuilio in his ruling noted exempting churches from the mandate but not their affiliated nonprofits would require them to, quote, "facilitate and serve as the conduit through which objectionable contraceptive products and services are ultimately provided to their employees, in violation of their unquestionably sincerely held religious beliefs," end quote. Franciscan joined with six other religion-based nonprofits in Indiana and Illinois in filing suit, citing constitutional protection under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act....

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Lake County Man Killed in Crash

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Officials say a Griffith man was killed and fifteen other people were hurt in a collision involving a bus and a pickup truck on US 20 near County Road 450 East in far northeast LaPorte County in the Rolling Prairie area Wednesday afternoon. LaPorte County Coroner John Sullivan says the driver of the truck, 36-year-old John Kallok, was pronounced dead at the scene from blunt force trauma. LaPorte County Sheriffs Police say at about 3:15 pm  Kallok was westbound when he lost control of his vehicle and struck an eastbound bus carrying about seventy patrons from a casino in New Buffalo, Michigan, to Mishawaka. Police say injuries to those on the bus were not considered life-threatening. The crash remains under investigation, but police believe slick road conditions were a factor....

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Search to Continue Wednesday for Missing Illinois Woman

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missing des plaines woman
(Photo Courtesy of the Indiana Conservation Police)
Indiana Conservation Officers concluded their search efforts at dark this evening for a missing 31 year old Des Plaines, Illinois, woman, but say search operation will resume shortly after daylight tomorrow morning. Cathryn McGill was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by her husband 35-year-old Adam McGill when their pickup truck was swept off the roadway in flood waters on Highway 257 Sunday morning. Adam McGill was rescued but his wife couldn't be found. Conservation Officers have located what they believe to be the McGill's Chevrolet Colorado submerged in water, about 75 yards from the roadway. Adam McGill was released from the hospital Monday after being treated for hypothermia....

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Pope Francis Asks Faithful for Self Reflection in New Year

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Pope Francis
The leader of the Roman Catholic Church asks for some self reflection this New Year. ABC News reports in his first year end prayer service at St. Peter's in Rome, Pope Francis urged people to ask themselves if they furthered their own interests, or helped others, in the past year. In his homily, the Pope asked people to reflect on whether or not they made the place they lived more liveable and welcoming. He cited Rome as a city bustling with tourists, but also one with many refugees, unemployed and underemployed people, who have the right to fair treatment, he said and to be helped by others more fortunate....

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Gary Man Leads Police on High-Speed Chase

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A 30 year old Gary man was arrested Monday and charged with burglary, auto theft, resisting law enforcement and reckless driving. The Times reports a relative went to tend to the homeowner's cat just before 2:30pm, in the 600 West block of County Road 650 South, when she reported seeing the door open and a man inside. The woman then went to a neighbor's and contacted police, who were given a description of the vehicle the suspect fled in. Officers later located the suspect vehicle and a pursuit reaching speeds of 90 miles per hour ensued until a rolling road block ended the pursuit and the suspect was taken into custody at gunpoint. ...

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IU Health to Treat UnitedHealthcare Patients as In-Network

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IU Health
IU Health and UnitedHealthcare have been in negotiations to settle on a new agreement for 2014 before the contract expiration date on December 31, 2013. A new agreement has not yet been finalized and discussions will continue in January.  Therefore, on January 1, 2014, IU Health and IU Health Physician doctors and facilities will become out of network for most patients covered under UnitedHealthcare health insurance.
IU Health has made the decision to treat UnitedHealthcare patients and their portion of the bill as ‘in-network’ as of January 1, 2014, to help avoid disruption of care and help reduce the patient’s overall costs. 
“This decision is consistent with our commitment to ensuring patients have access to nationally recognized care,” said Dr. John C. Kohne, chief medical officer, Indiana University Health.  “We know patients value the relationship with their physician and health care team, and we want to help them maintain those relationships without unnecessary disruption.”
This special ‘in-network’ status means that UnitedHealthcare patients may continue to receive care from IU Health doctors and IU Health facilities, but are responsible for any in-network deductible and co-pay fees. This special in-network status will apply to the portion of a patient’s bill that is based on the 2014 benefit levels.           
No immediate steps are required to receive this in-network status.  Patients are encouraged to schedule appointments and visit care providers as they normally would.  If a patient sees their IU Health provider and receives a statement that includes fees higher than anticipated (out of network fees, for example), they should call the number listed on the statement and the fees will be adjusted to in-network costs. 

In the meantime, IU Health continues to be committed to working toward an agreement with UnitedHealthCare. ...

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Region News Team
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