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Weekend Sobriety Checkpoints in Lake and LaPorte Co's

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A couple of sobriety checkpoints will be taking place in the Region this weekend. Authorities in LaPorte County report that during the evening hours tonight, officers will be conducting a checkpoint somewhere in the county and that Indiana State Police will also conduct saturation patrols near the general area of the sobriety checkpoint. Meanwhile authorities in Lake County report a sobriety checkpoint will be conducted in the Hobart area sometime this week. Drivers will need to provide a valid driver's license and registration, and could be delayed around two-minutes unless there are signs of impairment.
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Illegal Immigrants to be Admitted at Notre Dame

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The Fighting Irish will begin allowing students without legal permission to be in the US, but who are living here anyway, the opportunity to attend the Roman Catholic University. Notre Dame made the announcement on Thursday, stating the policy change will strengthen the incoming class and give illegal immigrants a chance for a higher education, as well as provide them with financial aid.
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Man Struck While Holding His Child in LaPorte

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LaPorte PD
A review of charges for battery and felony battery have been forwarded to the LaPorte County Prosecutor for review after man told police he was struck in the head by two individuals while holding his one-year old child. LaPorte Police report they were called to the one-hundred block of Grove Street , just after 5pm Wednesday, were the victim informed officers he was confronted by a man he knew over money the victim allegedly owned. While arguing, the victim stated the man told him to put the child down, and when he refused, the man reportedly struck the victim in the head, causing the victim's head to strike his son's head. Then police report the suspect’s wife reportedly threw a child safety seat at the victim, which also struck him in the head.
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Planned Parenthood Files Lawsuit Against New IN Law

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Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky has filed a lawsuit against a new Indiana law that requires clinics to meet the same standards as surgical abortion clinics. According to the lawsuit, the new law wrongly singles-out the Planned Parenthood clinic in Lafayette, the only place in Indiana where abortion pills are provided, but not surgical abortions. Under the new law, that begins on January the first, that clinic would have to meet the same surgical standards as a surgical abortion clinic, thus violating constitutional rights of equal protection, according to the lawsuit.
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Youth Volunteer Day in Gary Saturday

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As part of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Revitalization Project Gary is holding a Youth Volunteer Day tomorrow. To entice young people to participate, free food, prizes and giveaways will be offered. Also, a 50-dollar Visa gift card will be awarded to the youth who brings the most volunteers. The Youth Volunteer Day will take place from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. with participants meeting at the Roosevelt Pavilion on Harrison Street. Adult volunteers welcome. All volunteers are being asked to dress comfortably.
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Chalk-A-LOT Festival in Whiting Saturday

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A sweet event is scheduled tomorrow in Whiting. Whiting/Robertsdale Chamber Executive Director Karen Gajewski told us during a recent Region News Makers interview it is a chalk art festival called “Chalk-a-Lot” that allows you to draw your own art and sample chocolate from area businesses along 119th Strret in the downtown business district. The event runs from 10am to 2pm, and to hear more of our Region News Makers interview with Karen Gajewski, visit http://regionnewsteam.com/.
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Kia Recalling Over 9,700 2014 Sorento SUV's

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Kia is recalling over 97-hundred 2014 Sorento S-U-V's, built from January 7th through March 12th of this year because the right front axle drive shaft can crack and fail, causing the vehicle to lose power or roll away when parked. The company reports owners of the recalled S-U-V's, with two-point-four liter four-cylinder engines and front-wheel-drive, will be notified by a letter and that dealers will replace the axle shaft free of charge.
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The Time to File A Claim for Bad BP Gas is Now

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If your vehicle has not been running right since that fill-up of bad gas from the BP Whiting Refinery last year, you can now file a claim. The Times is reporting that BP recently settled a class action suite for 7-million dollars. So, anyone who had engine trouble or had to make repairs after getting recalled gas last year could qualify for a cash payment--including those who previously submitted claims to BP. While you can't get paid twice for the same repairs you can cover additional expenses like mileage to and from the repair shop. According to the article, the clock is running, because once the settlement agreement date is reached, claimants will have just 30-days to turn in all claim forms.   For more information call (800) 769-5703 or visit www.pricefuelsettlement.com.
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Meals On Wheels Rolling Into Cedar Lake on 9/19

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Meals on Wheels will now be rolling into Cedar Lake. The Cedar Lake Town Hall staff has signed on with the program to deliver hot meals to Cedar Lake residents beginning September 19th. Clerk-Treasurer Amy Gross says a total of eight employees on the roster will make sure Thursday meals are delivered to the elderly and homebound. According to a press release, paticipating in the program is an effort by the town to build awareness and engage the community in the needs of others. To volunteer or know of someone who could benefit from the program, visit
http://mealsonwheels.org/mow/default.aspx
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Gary Police Gun Buy Back Saturday

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Gary PD
The Gary Police Department will host another Gun Buyback this Saturday, from 8:00am– 4:00 pm, at area churches. According to a press release from the City, those who turn in weapons will receive Wal-Mart gift cards, 50-dollar gift cards for handguns, shotguns and rifles, with assault weapons fetching 100-dollar gift cards. Police urge participants to transport firearms unloaded and in the truck of their vehicle.
Gun Buy Back locations are:
New Beginnings Baptist Church 45  Harrison Street
Trinity M.B. Church 1831 Virginia Street
Grace Unity C.O.G.I.C 3435 West 21st Avenue
Pilgrim M.B. Church 1301 West 21st Avenue
St. Andrew AME Zion Church 749 Chase Street
Beyond Four Walls Christian Center 875 South Lake Street
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Lake Area United Way Kicks Off Annual Day of Caring

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United Way’s Day of Caring is an annual event that celebrates volunteerism throughout the communities it serves.  This year, it will be held on Friday, August 23rd.  Lake Area United Way will be hosting a special volunteer activity during the Day of Caring.  This event, known as “Pack-a-Palooza”, will focus on providing food for residents who are experiencing hunger locally.  “Thanks to the generous support and partnership with Strack & Van Til, BP and Kids Against Hunger, we will be able to bring over 180 volunteers together to pack 50,000 meals in 3 hours to give to the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana for distribution, ” said Lou Martinez, President/CPO of Lake Area United Way.  “It’s a rewarding and effective way for the community to join the fight against hunger.” 
Pack-a-Palooza will begin at 9:30 at the Radisson Ballroom in Merrillville, and will anchor the kick off of the 2013-2014 Community Campaign.   “The Campaign allows for so much to be accomplished, right here in our communities.  Last year alone, over 170,000 lives were positively and directly affected as a result of the generosity of region residents and the success of workplace campaigns,” said John Kennedy, Chairman of the 2013-2014 LAUW Community Campaign and Director of Business Development for American Structurepoint Inc.  “Our goal for the Campaign this year is to engage 1,000 new donors and volunteers to join United Way’s efforts to advance the common good in our communities,” said Kennedy.  “Kicking-off the Campaign at Pack-a-Palooza highlights our emphasis on increased volunteerism.  It’s a reminder that everyone can play a part, and be part of the change.”   For more information on United Way’s Day of Caring and to find information on many other volunteer opportunities throughout Northwest Indiana, please visit: www.nwivolunteer.org.
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Hoosier Fatalities in the Workplace at Historic Low

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In Dept. of Labor
On Thursday,  the Indiana Department of Labor (IDOL) released its annual preliminary Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) report for 2012. The IDOL reported 113 worker deaths in 2012, the lowest experienced since the CFOI report was introduced in 1992.
The most significant improvement was in manufacturing, which saw a 28 percent decrease in fatalities in 2012. Decreases in fatalities were seen in eight of ten major Hoosier industries.
“While we celebrate this achievement, we are reminded that Hoosier workers deserve a safe and healthy workplace, and the Indiana Department of Labor continues to push to achieve that goal.” said Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Sean M. Keefer. “The record low number of workplace deaths means everyone, employers and employees alike, are doing a better job of protecting the Hoosier workforce. But we still have work to do to achieve a fully safe workplace environment statewide.
Some findings of the 2012 CFOI report include:
  • Indiana experienced 113 worker deaths in 2012, the lowest reported fatalities since the CFOI report was introduced in 1992.
  • Approximately half (56) of the occupational fatalities reported in 2012 were a result of a transportation-related incident. More than half (53 percent) of the workplace transportation-related deaths reported in 2012 were attributed to a roadway incident involving motorized land vehicles.
  • Nearly all major Hoosier industry categories experienced a reduction in workplace fatalities in 2012.
  • The Hoosier manufacturing industry experienced a major decrease (28 percent) in workplace deaths in 2012. Hoosier manufacturing experienced the highest one-year decline of any other major Indiana industry.
This review of workplace deaths demonstrates the number one cause of worker fatality in Indiana in 2012 was vehicle crashes. Early in 2013, the IDOL began executing strategies to help companies reduce transportation-related worker deaths.
For the 2012 preliminary CFOI report, visit a rel="nofollow" href="http://links.govdelivery.com:80/track?type=click&enid=ZWFzPTEmbWFpbGluZ2lkPTIwMTMwODIyLjIyMTk4NTMxJm1lc3NhZ2VpZD1NREItUFJELUJVTC0yMDEzMDgyMi4yMjE5ODUzMSZkYXRhYmFzZWlkPTEwMDEmc2VyaWFsPTE3NzQxNjcwJmVtYWlsaWQ9bmV3c0ByYWRpb29uZWluZGlhbmEuY29tJnVzZXJpZD1uZXdzQHJhZGlvb25laW5kaWFuYS5jb20mZmw9JmV4dHJhPU11bHRpdmFyaWF0ZUlkPSYmJg==&&&102&&& alt
The final BLS Survey of Occupational Injuries and Illnesses data for 2012 is scheduled for release in October 2013.

About the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI) Data:
The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data for Indiana include
work-related fatalities resulting from unintentional and intentional injuries. CFOI uses multiple data sources to identify, document, and verify work-related injury deaths. On an annual basis, thousands of documents including death certificates are reviewed by the Indiana Department of Labor’s QMS Division staff to provide this data. CFOI began tracking the data in 1991.
About the Indiana Department of Labor:
The mission of the Indiana Department of Labor is to advance the safety, health and prosperity of Hoosiers in the workplace. In order to make significant strides, we emphasize both enforcement and compliance assistance by employers. a rel="nofollow" href="http://links.govdelivery.com:80/track?type=click&enid=ZWFzPTEmbWFpbGluZ2lkPTIwMTMwODIyLjIyMTk4NTMxJm1lc3NhZ2VpZD1NREItUFJELUJVTC0yMDEzMDgyMi4yMjE5ODUzMSZkYXRhYmFzZWlkPTEwMDEmc2VyaWFsPTE3NzQxNjcwJmVtYWlsaWQ9bmV3c0ByYWRpb29uZWluZGlhbmEuY29tJnVzZXJpZD1uZXdzQHJhZGlvb25laW5kaWFuYS5jb20mZmw9JmV4dHJhPU11bHRpdmFyaWF0ZUlkPSYmJg==&&&103&&&
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Gary, Launches Small Business Initiative

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On Thursday, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson joined two business partners and the Gary Chamber of Commerce in launching the Urban Entrepreneur Initiative (UEI). Thanks to this partnership, a total of 1,000 Gary small business owners will receive free training and accounting assistance. The program includes donations of resources to local entrepreneurs worth up to $250,000, including Five Plus Trax, a cloud computing dashboard application designed to help small business owners better understand and manage their companies’ finances, specially-designed start-up training using the “Business Basics” curriculum, and space in a City-owned facility that will serve as the UEI office and entrepreneurs’ resource center.
 
“The launching of the Urban Entrepreneur Initiative in our city means a win for those who aspire to maintain and open businesses in Gary,” said Freeman-Wilson. “This partnership also means more opportunities for economic development and building a more stable business community.”
 
The Urban Entrepreneur Initiative was conceived by Pete Justen, CEO of Washington, DC-based Five Plus, and Deardra Campbell, Managing Principal of The Green-Campbell Group in Atlanta, GA. Their shared philosophy of “Rebuilding America, One Small Business At A Time” culminated in their quest to make a meaningful donation of much needed resources to inner-city entrepreneurs, particularly those in manufacturing-reliant cities like Gary that were heavily affected decades ago by production declines in the manufacturing sector.
 
Justen’s Five Plus is donating to Gary entrepreneurs 1,000 licenses of Five Plus Trax, the company's cloud computing dashboard application that gives small business owners easy-to-understand, real-time access to key data that can help them make better, faster decisions concerning their company’s finances. Campbell is donating small business start-up training for up to 1,000 of the City's entrepreneurs using “Business Basics”, a curriculum she developed and has used to successfully train more than 17,000 entrepreneurs across the country. The City of Gary is donating space at the City Hall Annex building at 839 Broadway to house the initiative. The Gary Economic Development Corporation, Gary Chamber of Commerce, ACCION, and the Northwest Indiana Small Business Development Center are also participating in the initiative.
 
“Entrepreneurs and small businesses have consistently proven to be the drivers of jobs and innovation, as well as the backbone of America,” said J. Forest Hayes, Director of the Commerce Department, City of Gary. “The primary goal of the city’s Economic Development Corporation is to create jobs by providing support to businesses--a key element of economic development--including technical assistance and small business loans, as well as by actively pursuing public-private partnerships to continuously encourage the establishment of small businesses. The City of Gary is also positioned to provide municipal incentives to encourage small business attraction, growth and retention.”
 
The first in a series of Urban Entrepreneur Initiative donations, Gary was chosen as the inaugural location because of a personal connection. Campbell is a native of Gary and has been working with Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and her team on ways to use small business development and growth – and the jobs they can create – to augment the City’s economic development and community revitalization efforts.
 
“As a proud product of Gary, not to mention my admiration for the mayor and her vision for the city, it is only fitting that my hometown be the first in the nation to implement UEI”, said Campbell.
 
Justen hails from a similar environment and knows all too well the challenges now facing many industry-dependent cities.
 
“I grew up in a town in Ohio much like Gary, and I believe that giving entrepreneurs the tools to succeed can help them build better lives for their families,” said Justen. “I hope launching this initiative in Gary today sparks a national movement to revitalize America through small business ownership and I pledge to make similar donations to any town in the U.S. willing to also bet on entrepreneurship.”
 
The launch of  the entrepreneur training is set to begin Oct. 12. For more information on the training, visit http://www.gary.in.us/eventPrint.aspx?EventID=1617.
 
 
City of Gary’s Mission
To serve the current and future citizens of Gary by providing a safe, clean and working city that continuously improves the quality of life of its residents and establishes Gary as a national model for urban revitalization.
 
City of Gary’s Vision
The City of Gary will be safe, smart, accessible, prosperous and green. City Hall will provide the citizens of Gary with effective and responsive service while maintaining high ethical standards and fiscal discipline.
 
About Five Plus
Washington, DC-based Five Plus creates an easy-to-use cloud computing application that helps small businesses better understand and manage their finances, with simple-to-understand dashboards offering an overview of key financial business metrics. For more information, see: www.fiveplustrax.com.   
 
About The Green-Campbell Group
The Green-Campbell Group is an Atlanta, GA-based social enterprise that uses small business development and personal financial literacy as tools to promote the economic uplift of low- and moderate-income individuals, as well as to catalyze large-scale community revitalization efforts. For more information, see: www.thegreencampbellgroup.com.
 
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Funding Random Drug Testing in the Schools

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Porter County Substance Abuse Council
The Porter County Substance Abuse Council announced today that they are providing matching grant dollars, up to $15,000 total, for all Porter County school corporations.  These dollars are available for schools with random drug testing policies in place. 
Council Chair Paula Dranger noted the need for efforts within the community to work together to fight substance abuse.  Superintendent Gardin, East Porter Schools, said that their schools randomly test grades 7-12 and that the additional dollars will help his funding.  
Superintendent Schmidt, Porter Township Schools, stated that the program will help in her schools as well.  Random drug testing in the schools is one method of fighting the temptation students have to experiment with drugs. 
Superintendent Frataccia noted that randomly testing students gives the students a legitimate excuse to not do drugs rather than just saying no.
Council members from the Health Department, Valparaiso Police Department and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Porter County were in attendance at the conference. 
Dedicated to working for a drug-free Porter County, the Substance Abuse Council is the county’s founding coalition working together to battle substance abuse.  Dedicated to working for a drug-free Porter County, the Substance Abuse Council is a coalition of treatment facilities, education providers, members of the
justice community and concerned citizens. A member of the Governor’s Commission for a Drug Free Indiana,
the Council has been providing funding to community resources for over twenty years.
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(L-R) Superintendents Rod Gardin, Stacey Schmidt, E. Ric Frataccia
(photo and article provided)
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New Inn Opens in Schererville

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Hampton Inn & Suites has opened doors to a new location in Schererville. Located at 1904 US Highway 41, Hampton Inns & Suites Schererville is close to Route 30 and offers numerous modern amenities.
The new hotel is only a short distance from popular attractions such as The Shrine of Christ’s Passion, Deep River Waterpark and JAK’s Warehouse. Fine dining and casual dining restaurants as well as theaters are also close to the new location, making Hampton Inn & Suites Schererville a perfect hotel to plan weekend getaways for families and couples.
The hotel features a 48-person meeting space, 24-hour business center, indoor pool, fitness center and an outdoor patio with a fire pit. Guests of the hotel are treated to complimentary hot breakfasts every morning, free WiFi, flat-screen televisions and plush beds.
 For more information on Hampton Inn & Suites Schererville, or to book a reservation, visit http://hamptoninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/indiana/hampton-inn-and-suites-schererville-GYYSVHX/index.html.
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Cline Aveune Ramp to Close for Repaving Work

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The westbound I-80/I-94 ramp to northbound Cline Avenue will be closed beginning Monday, August 26th through Friday, August 30th.  The Indiana Department of Transportation reports that the week long closure is necessary for crews to pave the Cline Avnue exit ramp.
Crews will be repaving sections of the ramp as part of a larger project involving I-80/I-94 between Cline Avenue and the Illinois state line. Additional I-80/I-94 lane restrictions will continue in the coming months.
Drivers wishing to travel northbound on Cline Avenue from I-80/94 westbound will be detoured west on I-80/94, north on U.S. 41 (Calumet Avenue), east on SR 312, and back to Cline Avenue.
INDOT reminds drivers to use caution and consider worker safety when driving through a construction zone. For the latest road closures and news from INDOT, like us at www.Facebook.com/INDOTNorthwest and follow us at www.Twitter.com/INDOTNorthwest.
You can find traffic restriction information at http://www.trafficwise.IN.gov.  Contact the LaPorte District toll free at 1-855-GO-INDOT.
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Beware: Phone Scam Targets Utility Customers

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Con asks customers to purchase prepaid debit cards as bill payment

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. – Spurred by customer reports, NIPSCO is warning customers about a bill payment scam in which victims are asked to purchase a prepaid debit card to settle an overdue balance.
Customers have reported receiving unsolicited phone calls from individuals falsely claiming to be NIPSCO representatives. The scammers threaten disconnection of the customer’s electric service if an immediate payment is not made. They direct the customer to purchase a prepaid debit card – many reports specifically reference a “Green Dot Debit Card” – and call back with a receipt and PIN, giving the scammers access to the card’s funds.

Both residential and business customers have been targeted by the scammers. A number of reports have come from Spanish-speaking customers.

Helpful Reminders to Keep Customers Safe from Utility Scams
In an effort to keep customers safe from scams, NIPSCO reminds customers:
  • NIPSCO never asks for customers who are behind on payments to purchase a prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection. Customers have the following payment options: online, by phone, by mail or in person at one of NIPSCO’s authorized payment locations.
  • Never give personal information, including Social Security numbers and banking information, to unconfirmed sources. NIPSCO only asks for a Social Security number when a customer is applying for new service.
  • If you are unsure about the legitimacy of any programs or offers claiming to be affiliated with NIPSCO, please call our 24-Hour Customer Service Center at 1-800-4NIPSCO (1-800-464-7726).
  • Legitimate bill assistance programs are available to qualifying customers. For more information on these offerings, visit NIPSCO.com/PaymentAssistance.

NIPSCO, with headquarters in Merrillville, Ind., is one of the seven energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI). With more than 786,000 natural gas customers and 457,000 electric customers across the northern third of Indiana, NIPSCO is the largest natural gas distribution company, and the second largest electric distribution company, in the state. NiSource distribution companies serve 3.8 million natural gas and electric customers primarily in seven states. More information about NIPSCO is available at www.nipsco.com.
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About 300 Attend Amtrak Summit in Lafayette

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A meeting was held Wednesday in Lafayette to discuss the possibility that Indianapolis to Chicago Amtrak route, or the Hoosier State line, could end after September 30th. Last year it was decided by the federal government that they would no longer put forth funds to operate lines under 750 miles starting in October, thus requiring state assistance. Almost 300 people attended the meeting where experts went over the benefits to the state in keeping the route open and from legislators and transportation officials who stated the cost is too high. Ultimately, INDOT will make the final call on what becomes of this issue, and will release a study looking at the cost benefits of expanding or ending the service next month.
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Two Teens Charged with Taking Items from Vehicles

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Two male teenagers were taken into custody and charged Wednesday for receiving stolen property and for violating curfew. LaPorte Police report they received some calls, around 3am Wednesday, of items being taken from vehicles. Police first located a 16 year old, in the area West 16th and K Street, carrying a soft-sided case that matched the description of one stolen in the one-hundred block of I Street. Police then observed a second teen while placing the first teen in custody, who fled but was later apprehended and found with various items also reported stolen from vehicles.
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Mother and Son Bitten by Family Dog in Cedar Lake

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Cedar lake Metro PD
A Cedar Lake mother and her nine-year old son were both treated for their injuries after being bitten by the family dog Wednesday afternoon. Cedar Lake Police report the 27 year old mother informed officers at the scene that for unknown reasons the dog bite her son, and then bit her while she attempted to separate the boy from the dog, which is believed to be a pit bull type breed. Police say the incident occurred within the family's home.
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