Farmers Surge Ahead

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This chart, based on data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Agricultural Statistics Service, shows the progress of corn planting in Indiana, highlighting key years since 1993. (Purdue Department of Agronomy graphic/Bob Nielsen)
A month ago, Hoosier farmers were wondering how wet would it get... and when could they get into the fields? They got a break from rain, and by late May were able to surge ahead of the five-year average pace in planting corn and soybeans. Despite cool temperatures and intermittent rain last week, farmers had planted 86 percent of the intended corn acreage as of the week ending May 26, following weeks of planting delays from frequent and heavy rains in April, especially in southern Indiana.
Larger equipment also helped farmers make fast progress. Bob Nielsen, Purdue Extension corn specialist, says a combination of favorable soil conditions and today's high-capacity field equipment allowed Indiana corn growers to plant 78 percent of the state's corn crop in three weeks.
The National Agricultural Statistics Service said most of the fruit and berry crops will make it through the bloom stage this year with little damage from frost.
More info at this Purdue link:

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Triathlete Collapses; 900 Compete on Sunday

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No word on the condition of an athlete who collapsed and reportedly stopped breathing soon after finishing Leon's Triathlon in Hammond Sunday. The Times today reports he was taken by ambulance to a hospital.
This year’s event at Wolf Lake Park brought over 900 triathletes from around the nation to the region to compete.  Leon’s Triathlon is an Olympic distance race beginning and ending at Wolf Lake, including a swim, a biking portion and a run, this year marked the 30th anniversary of the nationally broadcasted event. Leon’s Triathlon is an Olympic distance race beginning and ending at Wolf Lake, including a .9 mile swim, 24.6 mile biking portion and a 6.2 mile running portion.  The Amateur Female winners of the race were: Jennifer Garrison of Naperville, IL; Kristine June of Highwoood, IL; and Megan James of Portage MI. The top placing Amateur Males were Jason West of Breiningsville, PA; Mark Harms from Madison, WI; and Adam Zucco from Elburn, IL.
For the full list of winners and times of Leon’s Triathlon of participants visit

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Hammond Caucus Scheduled

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A caucus is set for today [June 3] to choose a new city councilman for Hammond to replace 52-year-old Al Salinas. Authorities say he resigned his second district seat after admitting to a felony bribery charge and misdemeanor tax charge in Hammond Federal Court last month. Indiana law prohibits a convicted felon from holding public office. Democratic precinct committee members will meet to choose the person who'll fill the remaining two years left on his term. State law requires a caucus be held no later than 30 days after the vacancy occurs.

Read more: Hammond Caucus Scheduled


Iron Ore Plant to Indiana

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A 350-million dollar iron ore plant is coming to northern Indiana. Magnetation LLC of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, will build its plant at the site of an abandoned VeraSun Energy ethanol plant in the White County community of Reynolds. The company says the new facility will produce high quality iron ore pellets, raw material in the steelmaking process and anticipates the plant to become operational late this year or early next year and employ about 100 to 120 people. Reynolds is about eighty miles south of Gary.

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Separation Comes Up at Great Lakes Summit

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Indiana's Governor and First Lady spent the weekend in northern Michigan, to attend a leadership summit. Governor Mike Pence and his wife Karen were at Mackinac Island for the 2013 Council of Great Lakes Governors, where Governor Pence spoke on strengthening the Great Lakes region in the global economy.
Word from that summit that there could be a shift in a long-standing dispute over invasive species in the Great Lakes region. Addressing a gathering of Great Lakes governors, Illinois' Pat Quinn said he's willing to consider placing barriers in Chicago-area waterways to keep Asian carp from reaching the Great Lakes.   Quinn said separating the lakes from the Mississippi River watershed is the "ultimate solution".   Michigan and four other states sued - Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Pennsyvania -- unsuccessfully, trying to force permanent barriers to keep the carp away from the lakes' multi-billion dollar fishing industries. Indiana has contended that such a re-engineering of Chicago rivers and canals would disrupt commerce and cause flooding, and Indiana Governor Mike Pence says his position, opposition to separation, has not changed.

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House Fire in Sauk Village

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Fire crews from northwest Indiana, including Schererville and Dyer, assisted departments from across the south suburbs in putting out a house fire in Sauk Village Sunday night. Firefighters were on scene in the 16-hundred block of 216th Place shortly before 8:30 pm. There were no reports of injuries. No word at this hour on the cause

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East Chicago Death Investigated

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East Chicago Police continue to investigate the death of an East Chicago man pronounced dead at 11:30 Saturday night at 140th and Deal Street in the city. The Lake County Coroners office says 47-year-old Brigido Lopez sustained blunt force trauma and the manner of death was pending investigation.

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Body Found in EC Canal

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Authorities say a man was found dead in a canal in East Chicago Sunday evening.  East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker says police were called shortly before 6 pm about a body in the canal near 155th and Indianapolis Boulevard. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is also investigating. The Lake County Coroners office says cause and manner of death are pending.

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Indiana Senator Dan Coats Comments on Report

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Senator Dan Coats
Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.), senior Senate Republican on the Joint Economic Committee, today issued the following statement regarding the latest Social Security and Medicare Trustees report:
“Today’s report is no reason for Washington to pat itself on the back and avoid real action on reforming Medicare and Social Security. The fact remains that mandatory spending is unsustainable. Until Congress and the White House summon the political will to make structural changes to Medicare and Social Security, these programs may not be available for future generations. We shouldn’t wait for the crisis to hit; we should plan to address it now so we are not forced to make drastic and painful changes later.
“I will continue to urge the president to work with Congress on restructuring the health and retirement security programs to ensure these benefits are available for our children and grandchildren. These reforms cannot be accomplished without the president’s engagement and support.”
The Trustees estimated that the Social Security Disability Insurance trust fund will exhaust its reserves in 2016 and the Social Security trust fund that pays benefits to retirees would be exhausted by 2035.
(photo courtesy of


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US Marshals Fugitive of the Week: Sheena Denice Webb

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Sheena Denice Webb

A 25 year old woman is wanted for multiple felony charges including Robbery with a Gun, Aggravated Battery, Battery and Criminal Confinement by the Lake County Indiana Sheriff's Department and is this week's "Fugitive of the Week" by the U-S Marshals Service, Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force.  Sheena Denice Webb was last known to reside in the 4800 block of Northcote Avenue in East Chicago.  Webb is described as a black female, 5'1", weighing 139 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.  Anyone with information on Sheena Denice Webb's whereabouts may contact task force investigators by calling toll-free (888) 805-6119 or by texting “capture” to Tip411 (847411).  All tipsters will remain anonymous.
(photo courtesy of the US Marshals Service)

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Hoosiers should Hang Up on Utility Bill Scams

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Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller urges consumers to hang up on a new scam where callers impersonate utility company employees and ask for payment on delinquent bills

The Attorney General’s office and utility companies have received reports about calls notifying homeowners of past due utility bills, but traditional forms of payment such as checks and credit cards are not accepted. Zoeller said the scammers ask for the customer to purchase a prepaid debit card, often found at Walmart or gas stations, and call them back with the PIN number.

“Criminals are using easily accessible prepaid debit cards to take victims’ money and avoid being traced,” Zoeller said. “This form of payment is just like giving cash – once you hand it over it’s gone. As the weather begins to heat up consumers should be on alert as scammers will try to use threats – like utility disconnection – in order to con you out of your money.”

Zoeller said if Indiana consumers receive a call asking for a prepaid card or personal information just hang-up and contact the utility provider directly. Utility customers with delinquent accounts often receive multiple notifications, including written notice, from their utility over the span of several weeks before services are disconnected.

In order to appear legitimate, scammers use caller ID spoofing technology which allows them to disguise their phone number. For example, your caller ID screen may have the name of a local utility company, but the call could actually be coming from another state or country.

Individuals who believe they may be a victim can file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s office by visiting or by calling 1-800-380-5516.
Indiana OAG Official Seal

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CP Business Owner Pleads Guilty to False Statements

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A 41 year old Crown Point man pled guilty this week in Hammond federal Court before Chief Judge Philp Simon to the felony offenses of making false statements on a tax return and making false statements in a bankruptcy proceeding. Charges were filed against Roman Perez as a result of an investigation by the IRS and the FBI, and he faces up to eight years in prison. Sentencing has been scheduled for November 14th.
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Cook Co Sheriff's Office to Serve as Inspector Gen of Dolton

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The financial woes in the Village of Dolton, Illinois, have led to the Cook County Sheriff's Public Corruption Unit to act as their independent inspector general, effective immediately. Sheriff Tom Dart says they are doing this at the request of Mayor Riley Rogers, who will formally introduce an ordinance establishing the Sheriff's Office to the position on Monday.
Mayor Rogers, who assumed office earlier this month, found the village on the brink of potential financial collapse, and on Thursday, announced the village had just 125-thousand dollars on hand, and needs to obtain a loan just to meet payroll. Sheriff Dart says his team will play a critical role in fulfilling the Mayor's vision of a clean and transparent Dolton, and invites other struggling suburban communities to use this approach as a model to get their towns back on track.

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Gary Man Wins One Million Dollars Playing Lottery

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terry jackson
(Photo Courtesy of the Hoosier Lottery)
A Gary man recently became the second Hoosier in the last year to claim a one-million dollar prize from the Hoosier Lottery. Lottery officials report Terry Jackson claimed his winnings on Tuesday, and says the money will help to pad his nest egg. Jackson won the one-million dollar prize by playing the scratch-off game, Hoosier Lottery Black, and purchased the winning ticket at Citgo, in the 61-hundred block of West Ridge Road in Gary.
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Yellowstone Rd in Valpo Closed Next Week for Restoration

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Starting Monday morning, Yellowstone Road in Valparaiso will be closed for a road restoration project. Officials report Yellowstone Road will be closed for approximately 700 feet, from the north George Street entrance to Avondale Avenue. Work is scheduled to begin at 7am Monday and continue through Friday afternoon.
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54th Avenue Storm Sewer Project in Merrillville Update

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The Merrillville Stormwater Utility Project continues with the sawing of curb and pavement cuts scheduled for today. Officials say trees affecting the project have been removed, and utilities have been relocated along 54th Avenue. Starting on Monday, the storm sewer construction is scheduled to begin, and although there maybe some brief delays, the contractor plans to do the work “under traffic”, so no lanes are anticipated to be closed. The 54th Avenue Storm Sewer Project is expected to be completed by the end of August or early September.
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Read more: 54th Avenue Storm Sewer Project in Merrillville Update


IDHS Warns of Possible Severe WX Conditions this Weekend

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INDIANAPOLIS -- With predictions of possible severe weather this weekend, Hoosiers need to be aware of and watch for developing storm systems over the next few days. 
Keep apprised of local weather reports and set up weather alerts to cell and smart phones.
A NOAA all hazards (weather) alert radio is a tool that can provide urgent updates for weather and other situations. This type of radio are optimal because it provides an audible alert that provides notice even at night, and gives more specific instruction about the type of hazard.
An all hazards radio can be programmed to a specific county and is available for purchase at most electronic and department stores. Program the radio by using the specific “SAME” code found on
Thunderstorms producing large hail, flash floods, heavy rains, lightning, strong winds and tornados are prevalent in Indiana. Know the difference between a WATCH and a WARNING:
  • A severe thunderstorm WATCH means a severe thunderstorm is likely to develop.
  • A severe thunderstorm WARNING means that a severe thunderstorm has been sighted or indicated by weather radar
For more information on getting prepared for severe weather, visit the IDHS website:
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Governor Pence Designates June 1st Trails Day

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Indiana DNR
June 1 is Trails Day in Indiana, as designated by Gov. Mike Pence, so it's time to hit the trail on Saturday.
Each year Indiana joins states across the country in marking National Trails Day as a time to recognize the United States’ trails system and its countless supporters and volunteers. Saturday marks the 21st anniversary of National Trails Day.
Hoosiers can experience the great outdoors on a trail, not just this Saturday, but any other day of the year.
"Indiana's trails are natural treasures," said Dale Brier of the DNR Division of Outdoor Recreation. "They provide numerous recreational opportunities, bringing together family and friends, enhancing quality of life, and boosting tourism."
To celebrate Trails Day, O’Bannon Woods and Turkey Run state parks, and Brookville Lake and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are hosting trail cleanup and maintenance activities. 
Several other local trail organizations will host events in communities throughout the state.
For more information about trails and Trails Day opportunities, go to the DNR Division of Outdoor Recreation website at
"Every year more trails and opportunities are available to outdoor enthusiasts," Brier said. "With the Hoosiers on the Move program, Indiana State Trails and Greenways & Bikeways ambitious plan, every Hoosier will be within 5 miles of a trail by 2016."
The DNR Division of State Parks & Reservoirs offers 700 miles of hiking, biking and horse trails. For a list of favorite hikes at state parks and reservoirs by DNR staff, see For information about guided walks with interpretive naturalists on trails throughout the year, visit
The DNR Division of Forestry offers 425 miles of trails in Indiana’s state forests. See
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Nature Trust Announces Completion of LaPorte Co Project

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The LaPorte County Parks Foundation has completed the purchase of a 15-acre addition to Luhr County Park with funding assistance from the Bicentennial Nature Trust (BNT). The Unity Foundation of LaPorte County contributed additional funding to help make the purchase. 
The new property features oak- and hickory-forested wetlands and an area targeted for prairie restoration. The LaPorte County Parks Department will own and manage the property, while the DNR holds a conservation easement ensuring public access and permanent protection.
“The Bicentennial Nature Trust helped us leverage private dollars to make this addition become a reality,” said Timothy Morgan, superintendent of LaPorte County Parks. “Without the BNT, this acquisition would not have been possible.”
The BNT is a project of the Bicentennial Commission, co-chaired by former Lt. Gov. Becky Skillman and former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton. The statewide program is aimed at expanding trails, conservation areas and recreation sites to help celebrate Indiana’s 200 years of statehood in 2016. The state park system was created during Indiana’s centennial celebration in 1916, and BNT projects will provide a similar legacy for generations of Hoosiers.
An initial $20 million in state funding was identified for BNT projects, and the Lilly Endowment donated another $10 million to the effort. Money from the fund is matched no less than $1:1 with the local community or group sponsor. To date, the Bicentennial Commission has approved 35 projects, including three in LaPorte County.
“We applaud the LaPorte County Parks Foundation for its effort to further the 2016 Bicentennial Commission’s commitment to nature conservation in Indiana,” said Skillman and Hamilton. “We look forward to hearing and celebrating many more success stories for the Bicentennial Nature Trust in the months and years to come.”
LaPorte County Parks preserve and manage natural, cultural, and recreational resources within a seven-park system totaling more than 600 acres. Located on 89 acres just south of LaPorte, Luhr Park features upland forest, wetland, prairie, paved trails and a stocked pond. For more information, visit

The BNT is seeking additional private donations of land and money as well as input from communities on viable projects. Applications for the Nature Trust can be found at
For more information on the Bicentennial Commission, visit

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Uncle Len Ellis Alumnus of the Year

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Uncle Len Ellis Alumnus of the Year
Len Ellis speaking to new graduates and families among 2500 students receiving degrees on May 18-19 at Columbia College Chicago. Photo/Robert Kusel.
The founder of Radio One Communications was the recipient of a very distinguished honor from his alma mater. Country Music DJ Hall-of-Famer, charter member of the Country Music Association, and radio and country music industry entrepreneur Leonard “Uncle Len” Ellis was named an Alumnus of the Year for 2013 by Columbia College Chicago.
Uncle Len Ellis Alumnus of the Year
Len Ellis accepting his award from Columbia College Chicago national alumni president Joan Hammel. Photo/Robert Kusel.
On May 18 and 19, Columbia College Chicago  honored Leonard Ellis (BA ’52) among its alumni of the year during the college’s commencement ceremonies. The university says 'Uncle Len' was among "three outstanding alumni, whose work and dedication to their craft is a tribute to the Columbia College spirit and ideal, were lauded during the graduation ceremonies as part of its annual tradition."
Uncle Len Ellis Alumnus of the Year
Columbia College Chicago President Warrick L. Carter, Len Ellis and Joan Hammel. Photo/Robert Kusel.
“Uncle Len” Ellis is the founder of Radio One Communications, which holds four stations in Northwest Indiana, playing oldies (1500 WAKE-AM, classic rock (103.9 WXRD-FM),  modern adult contemporary (107.1 WZVNFM) and country (105.5 WLJE-FM ). Ellis is the longest-running country broadcaster in the Chicago media market and WLJE-FM is the longest-running country station in the Chicago area. The university also noted the other three stations also boast a string of awards from the Indiana Broadcasters Association.  November 2012 marked Ellis’s 48th year on-air with WAKE-AM, and he has spent more than 65 years in the radio industry overall.
Ellis was one of the 15 people in 1957 that co-founded the Country Music Association (CMA) to promote the genre’s growth and served on its first board of directors. Ellis also holds card number one as a charter member of the CMA. He was named “Mr. Dee Jay USA” in 1963 by the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Association’s Small Market Disc Jockey of the Year in 1978, and he was elected to the Country Broadcasters Association DJ Hall of Fame in 1983.
Uncle Len Ellis Alumnus of the Year
Columbia College Chicago Alumnus of the Year Len Ellis and VP of Institutional Advancement Eric Winston. Photo/Robert Kusel.
Columbia College Chicago is an urban institution that offers innovative degree programs in the visual, performing, media and communication arts to nearly 11,000 students in 120 undergraduate and graduate programs. An arts and media college committed to a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, Columbia is dedicated to opportunity and excellence in higher education. For further information, visit .

Dr. Eric Winston, Vice President for Institutional Advancement, delivered news of the award to Uncle Len in person a few months ago. You can hear our conversation with Dr. Winston online at News Audio on Demand here at our website. 

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