Donnelly Urges Senate to Close Skills Gap

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Indiana US Senator Joe Donnelly this morning spoke on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to focus their attention on growing and creating jobs in the manufacturing industry.  Donnelly is a part of a group of senators behind the Manufacturing Jobs for America effort aimed at passing bipartisan legislation to help businesses create jobs and help communities pursue economic development in manufacturing. 
Donnelly said, “Good jobs allow us to provide for our loved ones, educate our children, and ultimately retire with dignity.  Good jobs are also critical for strong communities and a vibrant economy. That’s why I’m proud to be a part of the group of senators working on ‘Manufacturing Jobs for America,’ an effort to refocus the Senate on helping businesses create jobs and helping communities pursue economic development in the area of manufacturing.”
Many jobs are being left unfilled because employers say they struggle to find workers with the skills needed. It is estimated that up to 600,000 manufacturing jobs are left unfilled due to an undertrained workforce.
Two of Donnelly’s bills address closing this ‘skills gap’ and are included in the Manufacturing Jobs for America effort, the Skills Gap Strategy Act and the AMERICA Works Act.  The Skills Gap Strategy Act would direct the Department of Labor to develop a goal-oriented strategy using existing resources to better address the skills gap.  The AMERICA Works Act would modify existing federal training programs so that they place a priority on programs and certifications that are recognized and demanded by industry.
To view a video of Donnelly's remarks, visit &">&

Read more: Donnelly Urges Senate to Close Skills Gap


Senator Landske Diagnosed with Lung Cancer

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(Photo Courtesy of Senator Landske's Office)
Indiana State Senator Sue Landske, of Cedar Lake, announced today that she has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Landske says she has worked hard throughout her tenure in the Senate to be upfront with her constituents, which is why is informing the public of this very personal issue. Landske says she has no plans to step away from her official duties in the Senate, where she also currently serves as the Assistant President Pro-Tem and is chair of the Senate Elections Committee, and will begin treatment immediately in Chicago. She says her doctors are confident she will make a full recovery.  Landske was elected to the state Senate in 1984....

Read more: Senator Landske Diagnosed with Lung Cancer


Death of Contractor at ArcelorMittal Ruled Accidental

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A 39 year old contractor from Valparaiso was pronounced dead at 7:16 this morning at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor West in East Chicago. The Lake County Coroner's Office reports Michael Samuelson, of Valparaiso, suffered blunt force trauma to his body and his death has been ruled accidental. Officials report two other contractors were also injured in the incident which was caused by falling debris....

Read more: Death of Contractor at ArcelorMittal Ruled Accidental


Fatal Accident at ArcelorMittal in East Chicago

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Officials say a contractor died in an accident at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor West in East Chicago early this morning, and two others were hurt. The Lake County Coroners was dispatched this morning, but had not released any information at this time. Injuries to the other two contractors were reportedly thought to be non-life-threatening. No other details have been released at this hour.


Read more: Fatal Accident at ArcelorMittal in East Chicago


CTA Releases Images in Alligator Case

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Woman with Alligator CTABlueLine
The Chicago Transit Authority has released images of a woman with an alligator on one of their trains during the early morning hours of November first. That same day, someone spotted a two-foot alligator under an escalator at O'Hare International Airport. Transit officials are seeking help from the public in identifying the person in the photos.
Woman with Alligator CTABlueLine 2
Officials say it's illegal to own an alligator in Illinois.  The alligator, believed to have been lacking a proper diet and in need of medical treatment, was transferred into the care of the Chicago Herpetological Society.  [Images courtesy Chicago Transit Authority]
News Release: CTA Security personnel have secured images of the person last seen with the abandoned alligator found and recovered at O’Hare International Airport earlier this month. 
Working with information from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and an image posted to a social media website that showed the reptile on a CTA Blue Line train, CTA Security personnel began their investigation and determined how the alligator got to the airport.
Using the agency’s extensive rail system camera network, which consists of more than 3,600 cameras, CTA Security personnel captured images of a woman who boarded a northbound Blue Line train at the Pulaski station at approximately 1:17AM on Friday, November 1 with an alligator in hand. Interior rail car cameras showed the woman holding the alligator in her hands and showing it to other passengers during her trip.
At approximately 2:17AM, the same woman is seen exiting the train with the alligator at the O’Hare Blue Line terminal. By 2:44AM, she is seen once again near the turnstiles of the O’Hare rail station, this time without the reptile in view.
Anyone with information to help identify the woman should contact CTA’s Customer Service 1-888-YOUR-CTA (1-888-968-7282) or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
Those responsible for this act can face a misdemeanor charge of cruel treatment of an animal or face a fine $300 to $1,000 for cruelty to animals for abandoning the animal in a public place.
CTA’s surveillance camera network not only assists police in the investigation of crimes committed on CTA properties, but also crimes committed near CTA properties against other people, properties and even animals.
In 2012, CTA cameras assisted police in the arrest of at least 154 individuals for crimes committed either on or off CTA property; so far in 2013, cameras have aided in the arrest of at least 140 individuals....

Read more: CTA Releases Images in Alligator Case


One Injured in Accident Near Dyer

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One person was taken to the hospital after an accident near Dyer just after 6:30 Tuesday evening. Lake County Sheriffs Police say 20-year-old Taylor Wiggins of Valparaiso woman was traveling southbound on Patterson Street at West 83rd Avenue when she became distracted and crossed the center line into the northbound lane, sideswiping an SUV driven by a Cedar Lake man. Patterson was transported by EMS to Franciscan St. Margaret Health - Dyer hospital campus. The other driver, Glenn Miller of Cedar Lake, was not injured. Police say there were no citations issued at the scene....

Read more: One Injured in Accident Near Dyer


3 Region Communities 'Best Towns for Young Families'

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A consumer-resource website called NerdWallet-dot-com has listed three Region communities in a list of ten best towns for young families in Indiana – Crown Point, Schererville and Valparaiso. Criteria included public school ratings from GreatSchools-dot-com, median home values and ongoing monthly costs of having a home, average household income, and income growth over the past decade. Only places with a population over 25-thousand were considered.

Read more: 3 Region Communities 'Best Towns for Young Families'


Longtime Former Indiana Beach Owner Passes Away

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The former longtime owner of Indiana Beach has died. Thomas Spackman passed away on Monday at the age of 100. Spackman's father founded a resort called Ideal Beach along Lake Shafer in Monticello in the 1920s, and that was changed to Indiana Beach “Riviera of the Midwest” in 1952 after Spackman took over as CEO in 1945. In 1985, the park adopted the well-known slogan, “There's More Than Corn in Indiana!”. Indiana Beach was sold to Morgan RV Resorts in 2008. [Photo/Springer-Voorhis-Draper Funeral Home, Monticello, IN]...

Read more: Longtime Former Indiana Beach Owner Passes Away


Emergency Sirens Being Tested in Porter County

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All of Porter County's outdoor emergency sirens are being tested throughout the day today. Assistant Communications Director of Porter County's Emergency Management Agency Joseph Oparka told the Region News Team they want to make sure everyone is covered by their current network of about fifty sirens. "We're making sure with all the new population, populated areas, that they are covered and everyone is safe," Oparka said. The siren testing started at about 9:30 this morning is expected to continue through the afternoon....

Read more: Emergency Sirens Being Tested in Porter County


Indiana Seeks Illiana Investors

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The state of Indiana has issued an official call for investors for the Hoosier stretch of the proposed Illiana Expressway. The tollway would connect I-65 from south Lake County to I-55 in Illinois. Meanwhile, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission is continuing to gather public input on the project with two more open houses – one of them today (Nov 13)  at the NIRPC office in Portage (4-6pm), and another next Tuesday the 19th at Michigan City City Hall (2-4pm). Next month, NIRPC is scheduled to vote on whether to include Illiana in their 2040 Comprehensive plan, a necessary step to move the project forward for federal funding.
News Release:
INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Finance Authority (IFA) and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) have issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the Illiana Corridor project.
The state is seeking submission of qualifications by private industry partners to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Indiana portion of the Illiana Corridor utilizing an Availability Payment structure. Interested firms or project teams will be asked to submit a Statement of Qualifications that will be used to determine their eligibility in the upcoming Public Private Partnership (P3) process.
To ensure coordination of the bi-state Illiana Corridor Project, IFA/INDOT and the Illinois Department of Transportation are working together to coordinate technical requirements, tolling policy, the federal environmental approval process, and construction schedules.
"We had tremendous response from the private sector during an Illiana Industry Forum earlier this year and we look forward to hearing from those groups as we move forward in the procurement process," said Indiana Public Finance Director Kendra York.
The Indiana portion of the Illiana Corridor runs from the Indiana/Illinois state line east to Interstate 65. Private sector participation is being sought to spur innovation that will lead to delivery of the Illiana Corridor more quickly, efficiently and at a lower cost. The Indiana procurement will also involve the construction of added capacity lanes on I-65 between U.S. 30 and State Road 2.
"We have had great success in Indiana with the innovation and cost savings that the private sector has brought to other P3 projects," said INDOT Deputy Commissioner of Innovative Project Delivery Jim Stark. "We're anticipating similar successes with the Illiana Corridor."
The RFQ document can be viewed at the IFA website: .
Statements of Qualifications are due by Friday, January 10, 2014....

Read more: Indiana Seeks Illiana Investors


Ribbon Cutting in Gary for New Fueling Station

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Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and First District Congressman Pete Visclosky were among those at the ribbon-cutting Tuesday for a new compressed natural gas (CNG) public fueling station at Ozinga Ready Mix Concrete in the 400 block of Blaine Street in Gary, just northeast of US 12/20 and Cline Avenue. South Shore Clean Cities says many CNG stations already exist along the western shore of Lake Michigan, forming a north-south corridor, and said the new station in Gary is well-positioned as natural gas fueling infrastructure expands east and west along Interstate 80. South Shore Clean Cities’ Executive Director Carl Lisek said earlier, “We are excited to be helping companies like Ozinga make the important transition to alternative fuels, fulfilling our mission to reduce the nation’s dependence on imported oil.”  [Photo/South Shore Clean Cities]...

Read more: Ribbon Cutting in Gary for New Fueling Station


La Porte County Gets the Local Lake Effect

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Parts of northwest Indiana are digging out from several inches of lake effect snow.   Winter preparedness week in Indiana is next week, but for many Region residents, winter got here Tuesday in a big way, in the first major snow event of the season. The lake effect snow machine spent a good deal of time over the easterm side of northwest Indiana, specifically La Porte County.  Meanwhile, Porter, Starke, and Jasper Counties, which all had lake effect snow advisories, got some snow, and there was sunshine in north Lake County.
Some totals through 5 pm EST Tuesday evening from the National Weather Service Northern Indiana office, showed nine inches in Kingsbury in La Porte County, and about eight inches in La Porte and Rolling Prairie... just north of there, north of the Indiana/Michigan state line, parts of Berrien County got 14-to-17 inches of snow.
For additional snow totals, click here for the National Weather Service Northern Indiana:

Read more: La Porte County Gets the Local Lake Effect


Hammond PD Look to Prevent Pedestrian/Bike Crashes

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Hammond PD
Police in Hammond today announced they were recently awarded a 75-hundred dollar grant through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to reduce the number of pedestrian and bicycle crashes in the city through increased enforcement. Lt. Patrick Vicari says they have had a number of pedestrian/bicycle crashes with motor vehicles, most notably, the recent crash that occurred on Calumet Avenue that resulted in the death of a 13 year old Hammond boy.
Lt. Vicari says they will primarily look at school zones to start, but will expand to parks, neighborhood areas and anywhere else they identify as a problem area with this issue. Police are encouraging pedestrians to use sidewalks, crosswalks and obey traffic control signals and also encourage motorists to be mindful of school zones and to watch for pedestrians and school crossing guards. ...

Read more: Hammond PD Look to Prevent Pedestrian/Bike Crashes


Weight Loss TV Pitchman Found Guilty in Chicago

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A federal jury in Chicago claims TV pitchman Kevin Trudeau violated an order barring him from making false claims about his best-selling weight loss book. ABC News reports jurors needed just 45 minutes to decide that Trudeau had made false claims about his diet books. In the infomercials for "The Weight-Loss Cure 'They' Don't Want you to Know About", Trudeau claims that his cure wasn't a diet, and required no exercise or supplements. However, the book requires intake of just 500 calories a day, long daily walks, and daily injections of prescription hormones. He could spend the rest of his life behind bars when he's sentenced. No sentencing date has been set.


Read more: Weight Loss TV Pitchman Found Guilty in Chicago


Even for Healthy Kids, Flu can be Fatal

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Even for Healthy Kids, Flu can be Fatal
As Flu season sets in, health officials have a warning for parents--even the Region's healthiest kids are at risk of dying from influenza.  According to new research from the American Academy of Pediatrics,   of the 830 children in the U.S. who died from the flu between 2004 and 2012, more than 40-percent did not have any underlying medical condition that would have put them at risk for complications, like asthma or heart disease. 

Pediatrician Dr. Lia Gaggino says the flu can make health spiral downward very quickly,even for the healthiest kids.  "Ear infections and pneumonias, and sinus infections as secondary complications, and a lot of times that's what the kids may die from, are pneumonias."
While Dr. Gaggino admits it is difficult for researchers who make the flu vaccine to predict which strains will dominate in any given year, she says this year there are two different vaccines--and both offer wide protection from several viruses.  "It covers the HINI, it covers the H3N2, and then there's a third; and then the quadrivalent, or the newer one, includes an additional virus."
Dr. Gaggino says during the last flu season, 158 children died from influenza-related causes in the U.S. including four in Indiana.
The CDC recommends anyone older than six months of age be vaccinated against the flu, if there are no health reasons preventing the immunizations--such as allergies. Frequent hand-washing and sanitizing surfaces can also minimize virus exposure.  Dr. Gaggino stresses that while the vaccine can trigger a short-lived immune response causing some fatigue or soreness, there is no way to contract the virus from a flu shot or nasal spray.

(photo/Microsoft images)...

Read more: Even for Healthy Kids, Flu can be Fatal


AG's Urging Anti-Theft Software for Smartphones

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Indiana OAG Official Seal
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller today joined 30 other attorney generals to urge leading smartphone manufactures to step up security features. Zoeller says smartphones are not only stolen for their resell value, but they also contain consumers' personal and financial information. Zoeller says one method discussed to dry up aftermarket phone sales includes installing a smartphone “kill switch” which could render a phone permanently useless if stolen.
To avoid having your personal information stolen along with your phone, the attorney general's office recommends having password protection, backing up your phone regularly, signing up for a tracking service and seeking out security software....

Read more: AG's Urging Anti-Theft Software for Smartphones


UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Network Changing

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Indiana's Insurance Commission today advised seniors who have Medicare Advantage plans with UnitedHealthcare, including ones sold through AARP, to confirm that their preferred providers will be part of the network throughout 2014, because of reductions the company recently made to its provider network.
Medicare Advantage plans are different than traditional Medicare plans, because members are restricted to the doctors who participate in their network, so it is critical seniors understand their options during the Medicare open enrollment period, which ends December 7th. For more information, visit

Read more: UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Network Changing


Gas Prices May Not Bottom Out Until Mid-December

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The U-S Energy Department reports gas prices fell another seven cents over the past week. The national average is now three dollars and 19 cents a gallon. ABC News reports Patrick DeHaan, Senior Petroleum Analyst at says prices may not bottom out until mid December and it's entirely realistic the national average could hit as little as $3.15, perhaps even $3.10 a gallon by Thanksgiving and it could march within a nickel of three dollars a gallon here by Christmas.
In the Gary metropolitan area, reports the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $3.02. ...

Read more: Gas Prices May Not Bottom Out Until Mid-December


IFA and INDOT Issue RFQ for Illiana Corridor Project

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The Indian Finance Authority and INDOT today issued a Request for Qualifications for the Illiana Corridor project. Indiana is seeking submission of qualifications by private partners to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Indiana portion of the Illiana Expressway using an Availability Payment Structure.
NIRPC will continue to receive public input throughout the course of the remaining two open houses on the proposed project, one tomorrow at the NIRPC office in Portage, from 4pm to 6pm and the other scheduled next week, Tuesday November 19th, at Michigan City City Hall, from 2pm to 4pm. The commission is scheduled to vote on whether or not to include the project in their 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan on December 12th.
The RFQ document can be viewed at the IFA website: Statements of Qualifications are due by Friday, January 10, 2014....

Read more: IFA and INDOT Issue RFQ for Illiana Corridor Project


Gary Double Homicide Suspects Charged with Murder

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Gary PD
Both suspects in a November 1st double-homicide of a husband and wife in Gary are now in custody. The Porter County Sheriff's Office reports, on Friday, one of the suspects was found walking along northbound State Road 149, near County Road 875 North, and was taken into custody without incident. The man had reportedly been with the Good Samaritan Church Group when he fled after he overheard an arrangement being made for police to stop the church van. Gary Police Corp. Gabrielle King says 44 year old Mark Anthony Williams and 46 year old Anthony Wilson have been charged with two-counts of murder, two-counts of robbery resulting in serious bodily injury and auto theft.
The bodies of 62 year old Leviticus Dupree and 54 year old Toshiba Moore-Dupree, were found unresponsive and covered in blood, after being found stabbed in their home in the 25-hundred block of Delaware Street....

Read more: Gary Double Homicide Suspects Charged with Murder


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