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Margaret Pellegrini, 'Oz' Munchkin, Dies at 89

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One of the last few surviving actors to portray Munchkin characters in the classic 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz” has died. Margaret Pellegrini, the Flowerpot Munchkin, had been a regular at the Wizard of Oz Festival in Chesterton, and was in the Region just last year for the Oz Fest. A spokesman told media outlets that she died Wednesday after suffering a stroke at her home outside Phoenix. Pellegrini was 89.
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Woman Finds $4K in Merrillville Parking Lot

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An elderly Crown Point woman has her four-thousand dollars back... thanks to a young woman who came across the money in a parking lot off US 30 and took it to the Merrillville Police Department. The owner of the cash told police she wanted to give a reward to the person who found it. Police also tell today's Times that the woman who found the money is pregnant and indicated that she could use the money but turning it in was the “right thing to do”.
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Gaskell Named Exec VP of Valpo Chamber

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Valpo Chamber President Rex Richards announces that Julie Gaskell has been promoted to the position of Executive Vice President. Gaskell, who joined the Valpo Chamber in 1998 as a part-time employee, performs numerous administrative duties for both the Valpo Chamber and Valparaiso Economic Development Corporation.
"Gaskell has been an outstanding employee who has been involved in most all of the programing and operational matters of the Chamber," says Richards. "She plays a very pivotal role in the broad range of programs and functions of the entire organization. Gaskell previously served as Vice President of Operations.
"Julie has always placed the mission of the organization paramount in all that she does for the Chamber and has helped enormously in building a culture of excellence for the Valpo Chamber," adds Richards.  Gaskell is a graduate of Defiance High School and attended Defiance College, Defiance, Ohio. She moved to Valparaiso in 1993. She and her husband Kurt live in Valparaiso and have two sons.
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Checkpts Planned for Lake Station, Lowell

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The Lake County Traffic Safety Partnership has announced they 'll be conducting a Sobriety Check Point in the Lake Station and Lowell area sometime this weekend. Drivers will need to show their license and registration to the officers and will be delayed for about two minutes unless there are signs of impairment.
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Indiana Homeless Count Shows Drop

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Newly-released statewide findings from the 2013 Point-in-Time Homeless Count show nearly 61-hundred individuals were without a home January 30th, an overall decrease of three-percent from last year. However, the number of homeless veterans rose by 12-percent to include 743 adults. Conducted every January, the count is a snap shot of homelessness in the state on a particular night.
Held on January 30, 2013, the Point-in-Time Homeless Count is a requirement by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for every community receiving federal funds for programs to aid the homeless. The count must be conducted every two years during the last two weeks of January. In Indiana, IHCDA, the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP), and the South Bend Continuum of Care conducts counts covering all 92 counties in Indiana on a yearly basis.
"The Point-in-Time Count is essential in assessing homelessness in our state," said Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann, who chairs the IHCDA Board. "While not directly affecting the amount of federal funding allocated to the state, we can utilize the information to further develop our collective statewide efforts to end homelessness in Indiana."
Representing a three percent decrease from last year, 6,064 individuals were without a home on January 30th. The individuals made up 4,375 households which is a four percent increase from 2012, but an overall decrease of three percent from 2011.
Demonstrating the largest decrease was the total number of households with dependent children falling 23% to 739. Conversely, there was a ten percent increase in the number of households without dependents. IHCDA cites the increase may be due to more couples living together who are homeless who do not have children or their children are currently not living with them, as a contributor for the bigger number.
Despite the increased partnership with the Veterans Administration and the ability to access rental subsidy programs like the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing voucher program, the number of homeless veterans increased by 12% to include 743 adults.
However, additional assistance for Indiana’s Veterans is on the way. On Thursday, July 11th Secretary of Veterans Affairs (VA) Eric K. Shinseki announced the award of nearly $300 million in grants to 319 community agencies nationally that will help approximately 120,000 homeless and at-risk veterans and their families. The federal funds were awarded to private nonprofit organizations and consumer cooperatives that provide services to very low-income veteran families living in or transitioning to permanent housing.
In Indiana, a record five awards totaling $3,179,218 were granted to four Indiana non-profits: Volunteers of America (who received two awards), Community Action of Northeast Indiana, Lafayette Transitional Housing Center, and InteCare, Inc. The funds are projected to impact 58 unique counties and 958 households throughout the state.
Even with these improvements, IHCDA and statewide partners remain focused on working together to systematically preventing and ending homelessness for those most vulnerable in our communities. It will not be accomplished quickly, but by identifying an individual's or family's barriers to self-sufficiency and targeting the most appropriate housing solution, the hope is to minimize the number of people that enter the homelessness delivery system and the duration of time they spend in it.
The homeless population by category includes: homeless with children, homeless without children, and subpopulations including chronically homeless, unaccompanied youth, veterans, domestic violence victims, persons with severe mentally illness, chronic substance abuse, and/or persons living with AIDS.
Totals for the 2013 PIT Count include:
6,064 individuals comprising 4,375 households were homeless during the last week in January 2013.
Of the 6,064 individuals found and identified as experiencing homelessness, 688 were unsheltered and found on the street and 5,396 were staying in emergency shelters, safe havens or in temporary transitional housing programs.
3,602 households were persons without dependent children.
1,543 were under the age of 18 years old.
1,116 of the adults counted were women fleeing from domestic violence.
743 of the adults counted were veterans.
739 households were with dependent children.
503 identified themselves as being characterized as "chronically homeless."
16% of the adults counted identified themselves as suffering from a chronic addiction.
13% of the adults counted identified themselves as having a severe mental illness.
Source: Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority...

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Radio One Bunco Night Debuts at Lake Co Fair

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Brand new at the Lake County Fair-- Bunco Night -- hosted by Radio One Communications/107.1 The Z at the Radio One Communications Showcase tent last night.
It's part of a week full of happenings at the Radio One Communications Showcase tent. 
Coming up this weekend... Bags will be flying at The Radio One Communications Bags Tournament this Saturday at the Lake County Fair. Teams from across the Region will be competing in doubles action for a prize package worth one-thousand dollars and bragging rights as Lake County Fair Champions.
The 35-dollar entry fee for the 64-team, double-elimination tournament benefits the American Cancer Society. The action will start at 4pm this Saturday at the Radio One Communications Showcase Tent. Space is still available! Those interested are urged to sign up today at Indiana105.com... 1071TheZ.com... or XRock1039.com.
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Three Jackpot Tickets for Powerball

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Three jackpot winning tickets were sold for Wednesday's Powerball drawing. The amount had gone up to an estimated 448 million by the time the numbers were drawn. One was sold in Minnesota, the other two in New Jersey.
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New Plan for Brickie Bowl

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It was unanimous – the Hobart City Council voted last night in favor of the city taking possession of iconic Brickie Bowl. In exchange, the city's school district will obtain city-owned property adjacent to Joan Martin behind Fire Station One on 10th Street. The transfer has been talked about for a long time, as Hobart considers using the former high school football stadium for concerts, fundraisers and sporting events. The final home game for the Hobart High School football team at Brickie Bowl was in October of 2008.
With its concrete seats, bowl shape, and railroad tracks along the southern edge, Brickie Bowl was built as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project in the late 1930s.
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Possible Cuts Discussed at PUC

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A couple weeks ago, Purdue University Calumet reported they were offering a retirement incentive for qualified faculty through August 11, this Sunday, in response to reduced enrollment in general education and other courses, with an emphasis in targeted academic areas in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences; Department of Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics; Department of Chemistry and Physics; and Department of Construction Science and Organizational Leadership.   Published reports say the chancellor of Purdue Calumet is scheduled to address staff at the Hammond campus this morning to discuss budget issues and possible job cuts. Earlier this year the regional campus announced they were facing a four-million dollar deficit and closed their Academic Learning Center in Merrillville.
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Second Gary Bus Forum to be Held on Friday

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The Gary Community School Corporation held a bus transportation forum on Tuesday, with another planned for this Friday at 6pm, at West Side Leadership Academy, in the nine-hundred block of Gerry Street. Communication Specialist Charmella Greer says the purpose of these forums is too get out in front of any questions parents may have about student transportation. Greer says Tuesday's forum was well attended, but expects more parents to attend as the school year approaches.
Greer says more information is available at http://garycsc.k12.in.us/bus-transportation.asp regarding bus transportation, if parents cannot attend either the forums, or the meet-and-greet events to kick off the school year. To hear more of our interview with Greer on this and other topics, click News Audio On Demand at http://www.regionnewsteam.com.
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Missing LaPorte Man Died Due to Blunt Force Trauma

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Results of an autopsy on the body of a missing LaPorte man, found in a grassy ditch just south of I-94 in Porter County Tuesday afternoon, indicate blunt force trauma to the body was the cause of death. The body of 50 year old Ricky Kimble was discovered just after 2pm Tuesday, about a mile west of the Portage exit. Kimble was last seen August 3rd and had been reported missing by family members on August 5th. Kimble, a 6’ 1”, 258 pounds black male, with a shaved head, was wearing brown shorts, a white tank top, tan boots, and carrying a black backpack. Anyone who may have seen Kimble walking on I-80/94 during Saturday evening, August 3rd until Tuesday morning, August 6th, is asked to contact either Indiana State Police Detective Brian Kubiak at (219) 696-6242 or the LaPorte County Sheriff's Detective Ron Heeg at (219) 326-7700.
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Gary Youth Clean Up Graffiti in Downtown Area

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(Photos Courtesy of the Gary Youth Leadership Council)
In Gary today, grade schoolers and teens took the first step in Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's challenge to young people in Gary to remove all the city’s graffiti. Youth Services Bureau Director Ken Patrick Barry says about forty youth, ranging in age from ten to nineteen, came out today to help clean up graffiti on 8th and Broadway and 6th and Massachusetts. Young people also picked up litter beginning at the railroad tracks and ending at 5th and Broadway.  Barry says they're working on setting up another cleanup day, plus working in partnership with Progressive Unity Church and Gary Youth Leadership Council, in creating a graffiti hotline for residents.
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Manipulation Discovered in IN School Grading Formula

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Indiana Department of Education staffers have reportedly found evidence of “manipulation” in the state's school grading formula. Indiana Schools Superintendent Glenda Ritz says staffers are reviewing the grading formula after allegations by the Associated Press that former Superintendent Tony Bennent, who resigned as Florida's Schools Superintendent last week, changed the grade of a charter school run by a top Republican donor. A report of the review is anticipated to be available on September 2nd.
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Two 12 Year old Girls Caught with Stolen Property from Vehicles

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LaPorte PD
Two 12 year old girls were taken into custody today by LaPorte Police on charges of receiving stolen property and curfew violation and were transported to the juvenile services center. LaPorte Police report they received a call today, in the area of the Roselawn Apartment Complex, of two young females possibly breaking into vehicles. Police say the girls were located at West 10th and K Street, carrying large bags, with one girl having a large amount of cash hanging out of her shirt, who both later admitted to breaking into vehicles and that their bags contained over one-thousand dollars in property from the vehicles parked in the apartment complex. If you, or someone you know was a victim of a vehicle break in at the Roselawn Apartment Complex, contact the LaPorte Police Department Detective Corp. Brian Phillips at (219) 362-9446 Ext. 205. 
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2nd Crash Adds to Backup Woes on the Borman

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2nd Crash Adds to Backup Woes on the Borman
Another crash involving a semi and passenger vehicle has the right lane closed eastbound on the Borman (I-80/94) near Kennedy Avenue.  This crash had occurred within 50 minutes of an earllier semi/car accident further down the eastbound lanes. That earlier crash had closed the three right lanes just past Burr Street.  Drivers should consider taking the Indiana Toll Road or some other alternate to eastbound I-80/94.

(photo for INDOT)
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Crash Closes Three Right Lanes EB I-80/94

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Crash Closes Three Right Lanes EB I-80/94
A crash between a semi and a passenger car that occurred shortly after 4:00 p.m. Wednesday afternoon has closed the three right lanes eastbound I-80/94 (Borman) just past the Burr Street exit.  INDOT says traffic is backing up from nearly the state line.   Expect long delays eastbound on I-80/94 from near the state line to just after Burr St.

(photo from INDOT)
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Linda Wiltfong Named New S. Cent Schools Superintendent

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The South Central Community School Corporation has named 51 year old Linda Wiltfong as their new superintendent. Wiltfong was among over 20 applicants applying for the position, which opened up after Christopher Smith resigned due to charges he physically assaulted the school district's head of maintenance. Wiltfong, a former assistant superintendent of elementary education for LaPorte Community Schools, will begin duties on an interim basis and take over the position permanently on August 28th.
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Update: Employee of GHA Shot by Pellet Gun from Vehicle

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A Gary Housing Authority employee was shot in the neck by a pellet gun, just before noon today by a passing vehicle. Gary Police Lt. Delmar Stout says the man was taken to Methodist Hospital in Gary for his injuries, after the incident took place in the two-thousand block of Main Street, at a Dorie Miller Public Housing unit, about 11:45am. Lt. Stout says two males in a small compact vehicle were seen heading westbound on 21st Avenue. Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact Detective Alex Jones, at (219) 881-7477.
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Positive Result of West Nile Found in Mosquito in Griffith

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The town of Griffith reports the Lake County Health Department has notified them of a positive result of the West Nile Virus was found during routine testing. Officials report the mosquito was collected on the west side of town and that immediate steps have already taken place to eradicate the species of mosquito. No known cases of the West Nile Virus have been reported being transferred in humans or animals anywhere in the region this year. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, there have been two positive results of the virus found mosquito pools in Lake County in 2013, with one reported positive result in Starke County this year. For more information on the West Nile Virus, visit http://www.state.in.us/isdh/23592.htm.
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Employee of Gary Housing Authority Shot

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An employee of the Gary Housing Authority was shot around noon today in the 19-hundred block of East 21st Avenue. The worker was reportedly getting ready to do some work there when he was shot in the neck from a passing vehicle. No further information is available at this time.
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Read more: Employee of Gary Housing Authority Shot

   

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