US Mail Delivery Continues; Other Shutdown Info

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What's open, what's not, who goes to work and who doesn't... during this partial federal government shutdown?  Some quick answers...
The military's active-duty military personnel stay on duty, Congress did pass, and the President signed legislation making sure military paychecks go out on time.
The federal courts are open, thanks to Congressional funding, for the next ten days... and air traffic controllers are at their positions, directing flights into and of out of the nation's airports.
The US mail will keep getting delivered.  The US Postal Service doesn't get tax dollars for day-to-day operations (but it is still controlled by Congress).
Due to the Federal Government shutdown, and most associated web sites are unavailable. However, because the information this site provides is necessary to protect life and property, meteorologists say the National Weather Service Chicago website, for instance, that shows the forecast, along with watches and warnings, will be updated and maintained during the Federal Government shutdown.   See the message here:
National parks are closed, like Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, where Public Information Officer Bruce Rowe told us campers at Dunewood Campground would be given 48-hours to vacate in the event of a shutdown.
The Indiana DNR is getting the word out today that Indiana’s 24 state parks – including Indiana Dunes State Park here in the Region – and eight reservoir properties remain open for business as usual. The Indiana DNR says there is an Indiana state park or reservoir property within a one-hour drive of every Hoosier. October is actually one of the most popular camping months of the year, with autumn- and Halloween-themed events happening at many properties. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is closed during the shutdown. ...

Read more: US Mail Delivery Continues; Other Shutdown Info


Indiana State Parks Are Open in the Shutdown

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Although national parks and national wildlife refuges are closed because of the federal government shutdown, Indiana’s 24 state parks – including Indiana Dunes State Park here in the Region – and eight reservoir properties around the state remain open for business as usual. The Indiana DNR says there is an Indiana state park or reservoir property within a one-hour drive of every Hoosier. October is actually one of the most popular camping months of the year, with Autumn- and Halloween-themed events happening at many properties.
“October has become like the busy month of July for our parks and reservoirs,” said Ginger Murphy of the DNR Division of State Parks & Reservoirs. “If weekends are full at your favorite state park or reservoir, camping on weekdays during your fall break is a great way to enjoy the outdoors.”
Information on state parks and reservoirs is at Information on programs and special events is at
Information on all DNR properties, all of which remain open during the federal government shutdown, is at . Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore is closed during the shutdown.  [Image/Indiana Dunes State Park]


Read more: Indiana State Parks Are Open in the Shutdown


Emergency Responders Honored in Annual Service

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Munster police Lt. Edward Strbjak, foreground, was among representatives of area first-responders who attended a 13th annual Mass of Thanksgiving Honoring Law Enforcement Officers, Firefighters and Emergency Medical Services at Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Dyer Sept. 27.
Emergency responders in the Region were honored during the annual Franciscan St. Margaret Health Observance. The program takes place during alternating years at Franciscan St. Margaret Health-Hammond.
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The Rev. Theodore Mens St. Mary Church pastor and Griffith Police Department chaplain, praised the officers during the Mass homily.

The Rev. Mens noted how responders tend to the problems of those they serve while sometimes dealing with personal issues, that must be put aside. “In my experiences with the police,” Mens said, “they always respect the dignity of the person; they are polite and simply point out the wrong someone has done. Emergency services providers are servants, protectors of the people – they have love for people as they try to keep them safe. We thank them and pray our society will continue to be served by our wonderful police and fire personnel.” The program is sponsored by the hospitals’ Mission and Spiritual Care Department. [Provided]...

Read more: Emergency Responders Honored in Annual Service


State's First Underwater Preserve Dedicated in NW Ind

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The state's first underwater nature preserve -- a one-hundred acre shipwreck area, six-hundred feet offshore of Indiana Dunes State Park in Lake Michigan -- was dedicated Monday morning. 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 in June 1911, killing four crew members. Seven survived.  The preserve will be marked by buoys to protect the remains of the 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/Indiana Natural Resources Commission]...

Read more: State's First Underwater Preserve Dedicated in NW Ind


Unclaimed $1 Million Lottery Prize About to Expire

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Do you remember what you were doing April 10 of this year? If you were in southern Indiana six months ago and purchased a Powerball ticket, you might want to drag out your spring jacket and check the pockets.
A one-million dollar Powerball prize won in the Hoosier state in the April 10 drawing is about to expire. The ticket was purchased at Circle K at 3830 Hamburg Pike in Jeffersonville, Indiana, just across the Ohio River from Louisville, Kentucky.
The ticket matched the first five numbers, but not the Powerball number, in the Wednesday, April 10 drawing.
Additional information from the Hoosier Lottery:
The winning numbers in the April 10 drawing were: 1-36-40-52-53 PB:20.
Hoosier Lottery officials say the ticket holder has until 5:00 p.m. Eastern on Monday, Oct. 7 to present the winning ticket to Hoosier Lottery officials at Hoosier Lottery headquarters at 1302 North Meridian Street in Indianapolis. The ticket holder is advised to sign the back immediately and contact Hoosier Lottery customer service.
Powerball prizes must be claimed in the state in which they were purchased. Powerball tickets purchased in Indiana expire 180 days from the date of the drawing. Profits from the sale of Powerball in Indiana stay in Indiana....

Read more: Unclaimed $1 Million Lottery Prize About to Expire


Gary Chief of Staff Named Interim Airport Director

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BR Lane Headshot
BR Lane
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson says her Chief of Staff BR Lane takes on a new job as interim director of the Gary/Chicago International Airport starting today, following a unanimous vote by the airport board Monday naming Lane to that position. The board deadlocked on Lane's nomination, on a tie 3-to-3 vote, a week and a half ago. City Attorney/Deputy Chief of Staff Richard Leverett will assume the role of Acting Chief of Staff for the City of Gary.
Lane submitted the following statement regarding her appointment:
"I am both humbled and honored to accept this appointment and recognize the magnitude and importance of the duties that I have inherited. I thank the Board and the Mayor for having the vision and confidence in me to lead an entity, which I know will have a tremendous impact on this region’s growth and economic development. Just as in my role as Chief of Staff, I am here to serve. I will represent the best interests of the citizens of Gary, NWI, the State of Indiana and all other stakeholders of the airport. I look forward to working with the board and staff to ensure that projects such as the P3 exploration and runway expansion move forward until a permanent director is identified."
Mayor Freeman-Wilson also issued a statement on Monday's vote:
“I commend and thank the board for selecting Ms. Lane as Interim Director. As I previously stated, I have full confidence in her ability to perform all job duties, while moving all current projects at the airport forward. She has already had a seat at the table as we work to complete the runway and forge a P3 partnership, so her transition into the role of Interim Director makes sense and should be a smooth one.”...

Read more: Gary Chief of Staff Named Interim Airport Director


New Lake County Local Income Tax Taking Effect

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It's October, and Indiana state revenue officials say Lake County residents working in Indiana should expect to see the new Lake County local income tax withheld from their paychecks starting this month, when it goes into effect. Lake was the last of Indiana's 92 counties to adopt a county tax.  "It is possible that a Lake County resident works in another Indiana county, and the employer is currently withholding county tax for that county (at the nonresident rate)," according to a fact sheet from the Indiana Department of Revenue. "The withholding agent should start withholding Lake County tax at the resident rate beginning in October of 2013. "
We have a link to a document with more information from the Indiana Department of Revenue specifically concerning the Lake County local income tax as well as a list of Frequently Asked Questions about the Lake County local option income tax here:


Read more: New Lake County Local Income Tax Taking Effect


Jury Selection Starts in Death of Former Teacher

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Jennifer Kocsis
In Lake County, jury selection has started in the trial of a Gary man charged in the death of a Griffith woman. In April 2011, authorities say 37-year-old Jennifer Kocsis, a former music and special education teacher in Hammond and Whiting, is believed to have offered the suspect, 40-year-old Robert Lewis the third, a ride from a local restaurant. Her body was found by schoolchildren the next morning behind the former Riley Elementary School building at 43rd and Ohio Street in Gary. Officials say she suffered blunt force trauma....

Read more: Jury Selection Starts in Death of Former Teacher


Human Remains Identified as Missing Teenager

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The Kosciusko County Coroner’s Office has determined that skeletal remains discovered in rural Warsaw, Indiana, Sunday evening are those of an 18-year-old girl who went missing over a year ago. Authorities say Aurora Shoemaker, who was from the nearby Suburban Acres Mobile Home Park, disappeared August 16th, 2012. Official determination on the remains was conducted by Stephen P. Nawrocki, Ph.D., DABFA, Board Certified Forensic Anthropologist with the University of Indianapolis and Dr. Craig Nelson, DDS, Forensic Dentist with the Allen County Coroner’s Office.
Kosciusko County Coroner Michael Wilson also said the investigation into the cause of the teenager's death is still on-going with autopsy results estimated to be completed on Friday. Wilson said that the scene was processed by Nawrocki along with officers from the Kosciusko County Major Crimes Task Force which consist of members from the Warsaw, Winona Lake, Syracuse Police Departments, Indiana State Police and the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department....

Read more: Human Remains Identified as Missing Teenager


Local Impact of Federal Government Shutdown

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How will the government shutdown affect you here in the Region?  It might not be obvious at first, but if you've got business with the federal government, there's a good chance you will notice. Many agency websites will go down, call centers won't open. Thousands of government workers who handle applications will be ordered to stay home. And no one who reports for work will be paid until or unless Congress appropriates money for their agencies' operations. 
National Parks are also closed, and that includes Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore here in northwest Indiana.  National Lakeshore Public Information Officer Bruce Rowe told us earlier a government shutdown would impact them in a number of ways. "All our visitor facilities, all our services, like the Dunewood Campground, our beach areas, our trails, would all close," Rowe said. "and visitors would not be allowed to use them.  Folks who are in the Dunewood Campground would be given 48 hours to vacate, so the National Park would not be available to the public."  Rowe says the length of the shutdown itself would determine how long it would take to reopen facilities and services. 
Region homebuyers are expected to face delays in the face of the government shutdown as paperwork goes on hold, with lenders being unable to verify certain information with the federal government, like Social Security numbers. Meanwhile, investors in the US have been calling their advisors about the impact of the federal government shutdown....

Read more: Local Impact of Federal Government Shutdown


DNR: Drivers be alert to seasonal increase in deer

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Indiana DNR
According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, this is the time of year deer are the most active in Northwest Indiana and the rest of the state.  Drivers need to be extra extra cautious because as the days shorten, the chances of encountering deer on region roads goes up significantly.
Chad Stewart, Deer Biologist with the DNR says, "historically about 40% percent of deer/vehicle collissions in Indiana occurr between October and December."  Stewart says the reason for the jump in instances is "strictly due because they're (deer) are a lot more active this time of year."
Indiana Crash Facts, an annual report compiled by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, Center for Criminal Justice Research and the IUPUI School of Public & Environmental Affairs, reported 15,205 deer-related collisions in 2011, the most recent year for which statistics were available.
"With the number of deer and the number of vehicles out there, deer-vehicle accidents will happen," Stewart said. "The best thing drivers can do is to take measures to keep them to a minimum.”
Knowing the following information and practicing defensive driving will help reduce your chances of becoming a deer-vehicle collision statistic:
Deer are most active between sunset and sunrise.
Deer often travel in groups, so if you see one, another is likely nearby.
Be especially careful in areas where you have seen deer before.
Use high beams when there is no opposing traffic; scan for deer’s illuminated eyes or dark silhouettes along the side of the road.
If you see a deer, slow your speed drastically, even if it is far away.
Exercise extreme caution along woodlot edges, at hills, or blind turns.
Never swerve to avoid hitting a deer; most serious crashes occur when drivers try to miss a deer but hit something else.
Drivers should pay attention to traffic signs warning of deer crossings and may want to steer clear of gimmicks sold to keep deer away.
"Deer crossing signs have proved effective, but motorists tend to get acclimated to such signs, and their efficiency can be reduced over time," Stewart said. "Fancy whistles or reflectors can be placed on your car to scare deer away, but truth be told, they are not proven to be effective."
Stewart said that even when practicing safe driving, sometimes hitting a deer is inevitable. Caution is also the best approach after the fact.
"If you hit a deer, remain calm," he said. "Do not approach the deer unless you are sure it has expired. Despite their gentle nature, their hooves are sharp and powerful, and can be extremely dangerous."
Stewart said that, like cars and people, deer can be found anywhere, so drivers should be on the lookout no matter where they are....

Read more: DNR: Drivers be alert to seasonal increase in deer


Grants allow for new officer hires in Gary and E.C.

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pete visclosky
The cities of Gary and East Chicago will soon be able to add additional officers to their police forces thanks to Grants awarded through the Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring Program--of the U.S Department of Justice.  1st District Congressman Pete Visclosky says "these awards represent an investment in Northwest Indiana's law enforcement and will allow for the hiring of at least 15 officers."  According to a press release from Congressman Visclosky's office, a grant of $1,230,383 will enable ten officers to be added to Gary's force and the other grant for $625,000 will allow for the hire of five officers for East Chicago.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson says the grant is  a "welcomed addition" to measures already implemented by the city to combat and prevent crime and that"Community policing is extremely important when it comes to buidling strong neighborhoods and healthy relationships with those who serve and protect us every day."
East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker says, "this award is verification that the City of East Chicago is making progress with our proactive and innovative concepts."  Cheif Becker also says, "We are proud of what we've been abe to achieve and look forward to leading additional community oriented programs."
According tot he U.S. Department of Justice, grantees fo the 2013 hiring program were selected based on their fiscal needs, local crime rates, and their commnity policing plans.
(provided photo: Congressman Pete Visclosky)...

Read more: Grants allow for new officer hires in Gary and E.C.


Cedar Lake FD May Soon Become a Municipal Dept

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The Cedar Lake Volunteer Fire Department could soon become an official town department. Town Council President Randy Niemeyer says it means an opportunity to sustain the fire department's growth, which has become a necessary focus due to the rise in population growth over the last 20 years.
Niemeyer says the volunteer entity of the fire department would remain and be able to continue to hold fundraisers and community activities, with the full-time EMS, paramedic and fire staff that are currently there full-time under their independent entity becoming town employees. Niemeyer says with the town's involvement, the fire professionals can focus on the public safety aspect, while they deal with the business end of things.
The process is currently underway and the fire department is anticipated to be a municipal department by January 1st.

Read more: Cedar Lake FD May Soon Become a Municipal Dept


How Shutdown Would Impact IN Dunes Nat Lakeshore

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The threat of a federal government shutdown could soon become a reality, and if so, that means the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore would have to close its doors as well. Public Information Officer Bruce Rowe says a government shutdown would mean their visitor facilities, services, beach areas, trails would all close and no longer be available to the public. Also those at Dunewood Campground would be given 48 hours notice to vacate.
Rowe says if the government shutdown occurs and then starts back up again, the length of the shutdown itself would determine how long it would take to prepare things to then reopen facilities and services. House Republicans have refused to pass a budget unless President Obama's Affordable Care Act is delayed for a year....

Read more: How Shutdown Would Impact IN Dunes Nat Lakeshore


Guiding You Through New Healthcare Marketplace

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MUNSTER – Specially-trained staff at the hospitals of Community Healthcare System are ready to help those who are uninsured obtain health insurance that meets both their needs and budget. In-person assistance is available at Community Hospital in Munster; St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago and St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart to help area residents complete the application and enrollment process beginning Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013.
With these new insurance options, the promise of healthcare for all is becoming a reality. In the Healthcare Insurance Marketplace, consumers can go to one place to find health plans that cover a comprehensive set of benefits, and they cannot be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions. All health plans offered through the marketplace cover costs associated with physician visits, hospital stays and prescriptions.
To obtain insurance coverage through these new plans, you must enroll between Oct. 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014. Coverage can begin as soon as Jan. 1, 2014. Many people, based on their income and family size, will qualify for help in paying the costs of these new insurance plans.
“We know there are a lot of questions and concerns about these new programs and we want to be a resource to people in our community,” said Karen Schneider, Regional Director of Patient Financial Services of the Community Healthcare System. “In addition to exploring options through the new Healthcare Marketplace Insurance program, we can also look at coverage that may be available through other programs such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or the state of Indiana’s HIP program.”
To help guide consumers, in-person, through the application and enrollment process, Community Healthcare System has 16 licensed, certified Indiana Health Navigators. Call 219-934-9888 or 800-210-9776 for an appointment to meet with a Navigator at Community Hospital, St. Catherine Hospital or St. Mary Medical Center. Assistance is also available in Spanish.
In addition to enrolling through navigators, consumers can complete this process online at ( or call a government representative at 1-800-318-2596 available 24 hours a day and able to assist in 150 different languages.
If your employer is not offering insurance in 2014, the Marketplace can provide you with new options. Under the Affordable Care Act, you may need to pay a penalty beginning in 2014 if you don't have health insurance.
The plan you choose will determine how much you will pay each month and what portion of the bill you will pay for, like hospital visits or prescriptions. In general, if you choose a plan with lower monthly costs, you will pay a higher share of the costs when you get care. If you need a lot of medical care, you may want to select a plan that carries a higher monthly cost so you pay a lower share of the cost of the care you receive. You will be able to see the premium, deductible and out-of-pocket costs of each plan before you enroll.
More information on the Health Insurance Marketplace is available by visiting the Community Healthcare System website:

Read more: Guiding You Through New Healthcare Marketplace


E-911 Meetings Delayed

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The signing of inter-local agreements to consolidate Lake County's E-911 service has been delayed until further notice. The Times reports meetings to reach some sort of consensus has been delayed until at least Thursday due to scheduling conflicts between state legislators, and police and fire chiefs. The law mandates consolidation by the end of 2014. ...

Read more: E-911 Meetings Delayed


Portage PD Investigating Death of Man Hit by Train

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A Portage man's death remains under investigation at last check after he was struck by a train early Saturday morning. The Portage Police Department reports C-S-X Railroad notified them of a body on the tracks, just west of the Crisman Road crossing, just after 4:30 Saturday morning. Porter County Coroner Chuck Harris says the deceased has been identified as 26 year old Troy Johnson, who according to Harris, was laying on the tracks and never moved when a train struck him.
Portage Police ask if anyone has any information on Johnson's whereabouts Friday or during the early evening hours on Saturday, to please contact Detective Nick Grynovich at (219) 762-3122....

Read more: Portage PD Investigating Death of Man Hit by Train


Garden Fresh Foods Recall for Possible Listeria

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Garden Fresh Foods of Milwaukee has recalled 19,000 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken and ham products because of possible Listeria bacteria contamination. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service says the foods were distributed to retailers and food services nationwide. They include several kinds of chicken and ham salads sold under the Market Pantry, Archer Farms, D'Amico and Sons, Finest Traditions, Garden Fresh and Weis brands. No illnesses have been reported due to consumption of these products. For a full list of affected products, visit
Consumers with questions may also contact the company from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at 1-800-645-3367....

Read more: Garden Fresh Foods Recall for Possible Listeria


Morton Grove, IL Man Injured in Roll Over Crash

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A 54 year old Morton Grove, Illinois, man is in serious condition at last check after falling asleep at the wheel Sunday afternoon while heading north on I-65, one-mile south of the Lowell exit. Indiana State Police Lowell Post reports Chester Tanaka fell asleep while in the right lane, and his vehicle drifted off the roadway, and he awoke when it was off in the gravel off the outer shoulder. State Police say he over-corrected while attempting to regain control of the vehicle, but the vehicle ultimately went off the road to the right and rolled over twice before coming to rest in a corn field fifty feet east of I-65. The Morton Grove man had to be extricated from the vehicle and he was hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries. His wife and 14 year old son were also taken to the hospital where they were treated and released. Authorities say the vehicle was a total loss and all three were wearing their seat belts. ...

Read more: Morton Grove, IL Man Injured in Roll Over Crash


East Chicago Woman Killed in Crash

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A 77 year old East Chicago woman was killed Saturday afternoon as the result of a car vs. train crash. The Lake County Coroner's Office reports Minnie Brisco died due to blunt force trauma in the crash that occurred at Chicago and Kennedy Avenue in East Chicago. The 76 year old driver of the vehicle, whose name is not yet available, was transported to the hospital, and no word at last check on his condition. The crash remains under investigation....

Read more: East Chicago Woman Killed in Crash


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Region News Team
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