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Ford Heights, IL Fire Dispatcher Charged with Felony Theft

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Varndell Hurrings
(Photo Courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff's Office)
A 52 year old Ford Heights, Illinois, dispatcher faces a felony theft charge for buying stolen fire department equipment and then pawning it. The Cook County Sheriff's Office reports Varndell Hurrings, of Sauk Village, was arrest Thursday at the Ford Heights Fire Department. The Sheriff's Office says an investigation began in late January after the fire department notified police of the theft of a hydraulic unit used to power the "Jaws of Life", valued at 41-hundred dollars. Authorities say last month they learned the unit had been sold to a Chicago Heights pawn shop for 80 dollars the same day it was reported stolen. An investigation determined Hurrings bought the unit from another person who has since died, knowing the item had been stolen, and then sold it to the pawn shop.
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Reports of Man Exposing Himself on Bike Path Near Highland HS

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Highland Police
Police in Highland say they have taken two separate reports in the last week of a man allegedly exposing himself to girls on the bike path near the high school. Police say the subject is described as a while male in his late twenties to early thirties, 5' 10'' to six-feet tall, approximately 150 pounds, with very short blonde hair (nearly bald), brown eyes, with no glasses or facial hair. Highland Police say in one reported incident, the subject was seen wearing red sweatpants and a white t-shirt, and in another, wearing black sweat pants with white stripes and a white t-shirt. Anyone with information is asked to contact Highland Police.
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Alcohol a Factor in Pursuit That Led to Crash

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Shawn Flowers
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A 30 year old man was arrested early Friday morning after causing an accident while fleeing police. Shawn Flowers is charged with resisting law enforcement, leaving the scene of an injury accident, operating while intoxicated, disorderly conduct, and reckless driving. Authorities report just after midnight, Flowers was clocked at driving over 80 miles per hours in a 35 mile per hour zone, near Indiana 130 and 149. Police say Flowers had a blood-alcohol level nearly one-and-a-half times the legal limit, and struck a Jeep while trying to elude officers. The Times reports the driver of the jeep was not injured in the crash, but a passenger in Flower's vehicle reportedly suffered a broken ankle.
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Attempted Purse Snatcher Arrested Friday

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Valpo PD
A 19 year old Valparaiso woman is charged with felony attempted robbery for an attempted purse snatching. Valparaiso Police report the incident took place on April 15th, in the parking lot of K-Mart, in the 28-hundred block of Calumet Avenue. Authorities say through security camera footage, they were able to identify the subject who tried to grab a woman's purse.
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McCowan Appeal Denied

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Dustin McCowan
A recorded phone call between Dustin McCowan and an unknown person, that included threatening remarks about prosecutors, was not enough to get the 20 year old's sentence overturned Friday. McCowan had his first appeal denied by Porter County Superior Court Judge Bill Alexa after determining there was no threat. McCowan, who maintains his innocence, was sentenced to 60 years in prison for the death of his former girlfriend, 19 year old Amanda Bach.
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Groundbreaking for Phase ll of Black Oak Sewer Project

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Officials mark construction start for Gary Black Oak phase II sewer improvement project  This afternoon, Rep. Peter Visclosky (IN-1), officials from Gary, Ind., and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a groundbreaking ceremony in Gary, Ind., to mark the construction start for the Gary Black Oak phase II sewer improvement project.
"For so many years, the Black Oak area has not received the attention it deserves as a part of Gary," said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. "This sewer project is another example of how this administration is letting residents know that we have not forgotten about you, and expect to make improvements in Black Oak and all over the city."
"As one of the council persons who represents a portion of the Black Oak area, I am elated to see this project move forward," said Councilwoman Mary Brown. "I am sure that our residents will be very pleased to see that these enhancements are being made."
“On behalf of the Sanitary District, the City of Gary, and the Black Oak Community, and as the president of the Gary Sanitary Board of Commissioners, I would like to express our appreciation to Congressman Peter Visclosky for having made this project possible,” Commissioner Richard Comer, Gary Sanitary District Board of Commissioners, said. “This is the culmination of a two-phase project in the Black Oak Community that will have great impact on relieving much of the flooding conditions in this community. This could not have materialized without Congressman Visclosky's intervention.”
U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS, CHICAGO DISTRICT
111 N. Canal (Suite #600), Chicago, IL 60606
www.lrc.usace.army.mil
This project is authorized under the Water Resource Development Act’s Section 219 project authority, which allows the Corps to assist local governments in planning, designing, and constructing water- related projects. Projects under this authority are cost shared at 75 percent federal and 25 percent nonfederal. The local sponsor is Gary Sanitary District’s Storm Water Management District.
“The Corps is proud to be a partner in this project that will help reduce the risk of roadway and basement flooding in this highly-traveled and busy business section of Gary," Col. Frederic Drummond Jr. said.  Construction will include installing approximately 1,500 linear feet of 30-inch storm sewer, and storm inlets and catch basins on the southwest side of Gary. It also includes full reconstruction of 25th Avenue between Calhoun and Burr streets. The flow from this area will be drained into an existing manhole on Burr Street which will direct the flow south.
“The 25th Avenue stormwater interceptor project continues the vital work to improve the quality of life for residents of the Black Oak area,” Rep. Peter Visclosky said. “It is a project that creates new jobs and enhances our ability to manage heavy rains in Northwest Indiana. I thank the Gary Sanitary District; the City of Gary; the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District; Industrial Environmental Services, and the concerned community who have strongly advocated for the Black Oak-area stormwater infrastructure improvements over the years.”
Field construction work is projected to begin in May 2013 and completed in November 2013. The contract was awarded to Industrial & Environmental Services of Gary, Ind., on Dec. 28, 2012, for $1,145,970.
groundbreaking 1
(l to r) Col. Frederic Drummond Jr. Commander U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District, Richard Comer, Gary Sanitary District Board of Commissioners, gary Mayor, Karen Freeman-Wilson, Mary brown, 3rd District Councilwoman, Rep. Pete Visclosky at today's groundbreaking of the Gary Black Oak Phase ll Sewer Imrpovement Project.
Mayor welcomes -
Gary Mayor, Karen Freeman-Wilson welcomes guests to groundbreaking
Congressman Visclosky
Indiana 1st District Congressman, Pete Visclosky at groundbreaking ceremony
Commissioner Comer
Richard Comer, Gary Sanitary Board of Commissioners addresses Mayor Freeman-Wilson, Mary brown 3rd District Councilwoman, Rep. Pete Visclosky and Col. Frederic Drummond Jr., Commander, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Chicago District.
rain at dedication
Raining at the site of the Groundbreaking Ceremony of the Gary Black Oak Phase ll Sewer Improvement Project located just west of the TA Truck Stop at Burr St. and 25th Avenue, Gary.
(photos courtesy Jay Stevens)
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Cook Co Sheriff's Dept Saturation Patrols this Weekend

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Cook County, IL – Extra patrols by Cook County Sheriff’s police will be taking place this weekend as part of an ongoing effort to keep streets safe and help prevent crime, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said today.  The saturation patrols will be county wide and run from 9 p.m. Saturday, May 4 through Sunday, May 5 and 9 p.m. Sunday, May 5 to 3 a.m. Monday, May 6.  The extra patrols are funded through a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation.
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Backup on Eastbound 80/94 Toward Indianapolis Blvd.

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Fire crews were still on the scene of a vehilce fire that stopped all traffic going eastbound on the Borman (I-80/94) near Indianapolice Blvd.  Traffic tipsters were reporting a passenger car was fully involved shortly after 5pm this afternoon.  The right lane has just been reopened but eastbound I-80/94 remains backed up to nearly the Bishop Ford.  Drivers should expect delays until past Indianapolis Blvd.
Vehicle fire EB Borman
The smoldering vehicle can be seen on the right hand shoulder that caused police to close the right lane eastbound I-80/94
(photo courtesy of INDOT)
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Lt Gov Ellspermann Listens and Learns in Lake County

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Sue-LG
Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann was in Lake County today meeting with elected officials and business leaders as part of her statewide “Listen and Learn Tour”. After a meeting with area elected officials and a diner stop--during which the Lieutenant Governor spoke with Lake County constituents--she attended a round-table meeting with county business leaders and business owners at Merrillville's Albanese Confectionery, in an attempt to understand the needs and concerns of local economic development. Elspermann says the tour, with stops in all 92 counties, is an opportunity for the Governor's Office and local government and economic-development teams to get on the same page.
Elspermann says local business leaders and Lake County economic development officials stressed the need for more skilled workers. After a tour of the Albanese candy factory, the Lieutenant Governer praised the company as a model for Indiana business and manufacturing.
As a native of southwest Indiana, Elspermann plans to spend the bulk of the next three weeks in northern Indiana to better understand differences in economic concerns in each area of the state.
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Merrillville Law Firm Awarded Attorney General's Cup

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MERRILLVILLE, Ind. – Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller recognized Burke Castanza & Carberry today for their outstanding contributions to the fifth annual March Against Hunger food drive.
The firm accepted a trophy, known as the “Attorney General’s Cup,” for winning the large firm division by donating $7,153 and 1,675 pounds of food to the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana. The trophy was presented and participants were recognized during a formal award ceremony today in Merrillville.
"All food drive participants deserve recognition for their efforts to serve their local communities by selflessly giving their time and money to a worthy cause," Zoeller said. "Too many Hoosiers, including children, face hunger on daily basis and it’s heart-warming to see the members of my profession step up in such a big way.”
The fifth annual food drive competition was between 44 participating law groups from Indiana and Kentucky. To help coordinate the donations, Zoeller teamed up with the Indiana State Bar Association (ISBA) and the nonprofit group, Feeding Indiana's Hungry (FIsH), which is the umbrella organization for 11 regional food banks.
"As a fellow lawyer, I am particularly proud of the fact that lawyers from all corners of the state rose to the occasion to serve Hoosiers in need," said ISBA President Daniel B. Vinovich. “It’s opportunities like this annual food drive that allow us to serve beyond our clients."
In total, the March Against Hunger food drive generated $55,455 and 10,065 pounds of food for food banks statewide. Zoeller said this year’s monetary and food donations combined is the equivalent to 143 tons of food.
“We are grateful for the participation and generosity of so many Hoosier lawyers, as well as for the leadership of our state's attorney general to raise awareness of hunger,” said Emily Weikert Bryant, FIsH Executive Director.  “One in six Hoosiers is at risk of hunger, and for Hoosier children just one in four. The pounds contributed through the food drive this year will provide the equivalent of nearly 240,000 meals to Hoosiers in need, with nearly 1 million pounds donated since the program was created in 2009.
This year’s “Attorney General’s Cup” will be presented to the firm in each of the six categories that collected the most donations:

  • Sole proprietor
  • Small firm (2-11 persons)
  • Medium firm (12-21 persons)
  • Large firm (22-49 persons)
  • X-large firm (50+ persons)
  • Public/non-profit firm

The 11 regional food banks that serve Indiana and are members of FIsH include: Food Bank of Northwest Indiana, Community Harvest Food Bank of Northeast Indiana Inc., Food Finders Food Banks, Gleaners Food Bank, Hoosier Hills Food Bank, Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana, Food Bank of Northern Indiana, Terre Haute Catholic Charities Food Bank and Tri-State Food Bank Inc. Also, Freestore Foodbank of Cincinnati and Dare to Care Food Bank of Louisville also participated and serve some Indiana counties.

outside photo

Winning Lawfirm, Burke Costanza & Carebrry, LLP.  Attorney, Paul Leonard Jr. next to Attorney, Ann Marie Woolwine (L of Cup) Meagan Sikes, of the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana (r of Cup) and next to Indiana Attorney General, Greg Zoeller.

 

accepting cup

Paul A. Leonard, Jr., Attorney at Law at Burke Constanza & Carberry LLP accepts "Attorney General's Cup" from Indiana Attorney General, Greg Zoeller.


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May Trout Releases Canceled Due to 2012 Drought

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Indiana DNR
A shortfall of trout has caused the Indiana Department of Natural Resources to cancel additional trout stockings into five northern Indiana streams in May. 
Since 1990, the Pigeon River in Steuben and LaGrange counties, Turkey Creek in LaGrange County, the Little Elkhart River in Elkhart County and the Little Kankakee River in LaPorte County have received May trout releases to extend trout fishing opportunities. In 2012, Potato Creek in St. Joseph County was added to the list. 
Trout for May releases are not extra trout but part of the annual allotment which are held back from the initial release of trout for opening day of stream trout season in late April. 
The trout shortfall resulted from the 2012 drought. High water temperatures and low water flow diminished production at the DNR trout production facility. 
The DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife plans to continue the May releases in 2014.     
In the meantime, trout from the initial releases in late April are still available in most of northern Indiana’s trout streams. Anglers fishing the more remote areas continue to report good catches.     
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Crash Cleared on Route 6 by Mallards Landing in Valpo

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Tipsters were reporting an accident on Route 6 by Mallards Landing subdivision in Valparaiso. The Porter County Sheriff's Office dispatch says the incident occurred just after 12:30 this afternoon, and after blocking traffic the clear the scene, motorists were able proceed through just after 1:30pm. No further information is available at this time.
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Flood Damages Park Bridge

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Flood damage has closed a nearly century-old suspension bridge at a popular Indiana State Park. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources say an April flood resulted in significant structural damage to the suspension bridge at Turkey Run State Park. The bridge was built in 1918, two years after Turkey Run became a state park. The Indiana DNR says the bridge crosses Sugar Creek and connects the developed area of the park with the park's northern section and its popular hiking trails, through the sandstone canyons and forested area of Rocky Hollow Falls Canyon Nature Preserve. DNR staff are reviewing options on what to do. The 202-foot-long bridge is 4 feet wide and supported by steel cables nearly 2 inches in diameter. A 50-ton concrete tower on the south side of the bridge supports the cables.
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Middle-Age Suicide Rate Spike in Ind

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The suicide rate for middle-aged Hoosiers has spiked, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control. The study from the CDC finds death by suicide is on the rise among middle-aged Americans in general... researchers from the CDC's Injury prevention center looked at the years 1999 - through - 2010 and found an overall 28-percent increase among people aged 35-to-64 years, while the increase in Indiana over that time period was almost 54-percent " We need to think carefully about the risk factors that are likely to be most relevant to middle aged adults like financial challenges, job loss, intimate partner problems or intimate partner violence the stress of caregiving responsibilities substance abuse chronic health issues, said Dr. Thomas Simon with the CDC.  Dr. Simon says traditional research has focused on suicide rates among adolescents and young adults and suicide rates among older adults, while this report highlights the need to better understand and address the risk for suicide among middle aged adults
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La Porte PD Planning May Blitz

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During the month of April 2013, officers from the La Porte Police Department say they investigated 43 property damage and 9 personal injury crashes with two of the crashes being alcohol related. Officers also participated in nearly thirty hours of Operation Pull Over patrols during the month of April, writing 55 citations and 45 warnings including 48 seat belt citations. The La Porte Police Department will be participating in another Operation Pull Over Blitz May 17 through June 2, covering Memorial Day, which police say is traditionally a dangerous holiday weekend.
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Police: Growing Operation Uncovered

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marijuana 1 WinCE
[Photo provided/Portage PD]
Police in Portage say a "substantial" alleged marijuana growing operation was uncovered this week. The Portage Police SWAT Team with the assistance of the Porter County Drug Task Force had a search warrant for an apartment in the 55-hundred block of Tulip, where they say about forty alleged marijuana plants, about one-thousand dollars in cash, and equipment and paraphernalia were seized Wednesday afternoon. Police say the resident was not home at the time, but charges of Felony-Cultivating Marijuana, Felony-Maintaining a Common Nuisance and Misdemeanor Possession of Paraphernalia are being sought through the Prosecutor's Office.
marijuana 3 WinCE
[Photo provided/Portage PD]
Chief of Police Troy William states “The Portage Police Department will continue to direct the focus of our efforts and resources on combating illegal drugs and on anyone who chooses to introduce them into our great community”.
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ISTEP Plus Testing Update

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Based on assurances made by testing company CTB McGraw-Hill, the Indiana Department of Education says ISTEP-Plus testing for Hoosier schools is continuing today [ Friday, May 3 ]. The Department has again asked schools to reduce their daily testing load by approximately 50%. State education officials have also extended the testing window by two days to May 17. Over one million testing sessions have been completed this week, roughly 41-percent of the total expected sessions for ISTEP-Plus. System errors interrupted ISTEP-Plus testing in the region and across the state in the early part of the week.
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Times Publisher Leaving for New Job

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times WinCE

Times Media Company has announced publisher 52-year-old Bill Masterson Jr. is leaving to become vice president at Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway's B-H Media Group. Masterton's been publisher of The Times since 2006.  Times advertising director and general manager of the company's Crown Point office Lisa Daugherty has been named interim publisher. Berkshire Hathaway is an investor in Lee Enterprises, parent company of The Times.
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Grant Money to Improve Lake Co Air

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cleancities
South Shore Clean Cities has announced a competitive grant award program aimed at improving air quality in Lake County through Diesel Emissions Reduction projects. A total of 450-thousand dollars will be available to support qualified projects submitted by Lake County municipalities, schools and not-for-profit hospitals. The program is the result of a cooperative agreement between the BP Whiting Refinery, the Sierra Club, Save the Dunes, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Hoosier Environmental Council, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, the Environmental Integrity Project and two private citizens. An informational meeting is scheduled later this month in Hammond.   Phase I will begin at 9 a.m., Thursday, May 23 with an informational pre-proposal meeting at the Indiana Welcome Center, 7770 Corinne Drive in Hammond.
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Tax Info Meeting Saturday

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Lake County Councilwoman Christine Cid is holding an information meeting Saturday morning at 11 at the Lincoln Center in Highland to answer questions about the proposed one-and-a-half percent local income tax. The tax has won preliminary approval from the county council, who are expected to consider it again this Monday afternoon. If approved, it next goes before the Lake County Commissioners, who have scheduled a special meeting a week from today, May 10th, at 8:30am. If commissioners veto it, the county council could override that, with a super-majority. Lake County is the only county in the state without a local income tax.

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