Porter Co Assessor Takes Porter Regional Hospital to Court

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Legal action is being taken by Porter County Assessor Jon Snyder against Porter Regional Hospital for lack of cooperation. Snyder on Tuesday filed a Petition for a Writ of Production of Books and Records, in what he called a last ditch effort to obtain the necessary and relevant information to accurately assess the hospital campus, which is located on Route 6, in Liberty Township. Snyder says he asked for additional information in 2012, but only received a small amount of what was asked for.
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Read more: Porter Co Assessor Takes Porter Regional Hospital to Court


Vermont Man Confesses to Homicide in Jasper County

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Jasper Co Sheriff Dept
A 49 year old Vermont man is being held in custody after confessing to killing the owner of the vehicle he was driving. The Jasper County Sheriff's office reports a deputy observed Peter Lavalette in a parked vehicle in the parking lot of Family Express Monday night, at State Road 10 and U-S 231, after they had closed, and the subject told the deputy he was lost. After giving the man directions, the subject's vehicle left and the deputy then received a return on the license plate and learned it did not match the driver's name. The deputy then pulled over the vehicle, which was reportedly driving erratically on U-S 231, and while conducting a field sobriety test, the man allegedly told the deputy the car's owner was dead and that he had killed him. The Sheriff's Office reports Vermont State Police on Tuesday confirmed the location of the dead body, with initial evidence indicating a homicide scene. Lavalette is charged with felony operating while intoxicated charges and is awaiting further charges from Vermont authorities.
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Porter-Starke Services Awarded Grant to Fund Program

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Congressman Pete Visclosky announced on Tuesday that the Center for Mental Health Services has awarded $399,918 to Porter-Starke Services to fund the collaborative Strong Mind, Strong Body Wellness Program.

The program will be based on a framework devised by Porter-Starke Services and HealthLinc, whereby patients with serious mental illnesses have access to medical care at their community mental health center (CMHC).  Through this program, HealthLinc will offer on-site medical services for patients at Porter-Starke Services, the Swanson Center, and Oaklawn Psychiatric Center, giving patients with serious mental illness the attention and added care they need.

Aileen Wehren, Vice President of Systems Administration at Porter-Starke Services, said of the grant, “For the past three years we have operated a clinic out of our facility in conjunction with HealthLinc.  We have had tremendous success improving overall health by providing on-site medical services and focusing on wellness, not illness.  In joining with our partner CMHCs we expand our knowledge base to other organizations that can improve patient wellness throughout the region.  The purpose of this program is to help the people that we serve feel better and live longer, and this grant will allow us to do just that.”

Congressman Visclosky said, “Each of the organizations involved in this program has a proven track-record of improving the quality of life for their patients, and is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of those they serve.  I thank them for working together to secure this vital funding, and for their good work on behalf of their clients.”

The award, a Mental Health & Substance Abuse Service grant, is distributed by the Center for Mental Health Services.  The Center for Mental Health Services leads federal efforts to treat mental illnesses by promoting mental health and by preventing the development or worsening of mental illness when possible.
(article provided)


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I-DNR: Fireworks at Dunes Postponed to Friday Night

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Due to large swells on Lake Michigan, the fireworks show scheduled for 9 p.m. (CDT) today at Indiana Dunes State Park has been postponed and rescheduled for 9 p.m. (CDT) Friday. Contact the park office for more informationat (219) 926-1952....

Read more: I-DNR: Fireworks at Dunes Postponed to Friday Night


Gary/Chicago Int'l Airport Runway Expansion Stalls

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Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson today joined officials from the Gary/Chicago International Airport and the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) to announce that final-phase construction of the airport’s large-scale runway expansion program will be postponed this year in order to clean up higher than expected quantities of ground contamination.     

The new expanded runway is now expected to be done in September 2014.

The mayor also called on railroads whose tracks operate near the airport to quickly settle legal negotiations of utility easements under railroad rights-of-way so that trains can be relocated to new tracks to make way for final-phase runway construction. Two railroads must also resolve separate agreements between themselves. The Airport Authority is not a legal party to the railroad negotiations. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) are working closely with the City of Gary, the Airport Authority and the RDA on environmental remediation strategies.

“The City of Gary and Northwest Indiana have heavy industrial legacies which bring a lot of sensitive and unexpected environmental issues to resolve,” said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, City of Gary. “We are all working together to tackle the problems quickly and effectively so that final-phase construction can swiftly move forward.”

The RDA and the FAA are the primary funders of the $166 million runway expansion project to extend the main 7,000-foot runway by 1,900 feet.

"Delays are unfortunate but common on construction projects of this scope and complexity," said Bill Hanna, President and CEO of the RDA. "We remain confident that the expansion will be completed and will fuel economic growth in Gary and across the region."

Clean up of environmental issues is essential as the FAA and the Airport Authority work to decommission navigational equipment and relocate aircraft navigational aids for the expanded runway.

In addition to the runway expansion, an Ad Hoc committee established by the Airport Authority recently received a number of responses from private sector interests to the airport’s Request for Expressions of Interest and Qualifications (REIQ) to gather a broad array of approaches and ideas to invest in the airport and the surrounding area through a potential public-private partnership (P3). The committee anticipates following up the REIQ with a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) later this summer.

The airport’s active exploration of a potential P3 to invest in the airport and the surrounding area began in March.  A team of a highly qualified financial experts, project managers and legal advisers were engaged by the Airport Authority in April to assist in the P3 exploration.  The team includes A.C. Advisory Inc., JClark Consulting Group, LLC and Faegre Baker Daniels LLP.

The third airport of the Chicago Aviation System, the Gary/Chicago International Airport is less than 30 minutes from the heart of the tri-state region – the city of Chicago. The airport is directly connected to Chicago’s transportation network through rail and maritime freight, interstate and mass transit integration.

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Read more: Gary/Chicago Int'l Airport Runway Expansion Stalls


Clock is ticking on Hoosier Lottery's Independence Day Millionaire Raffle

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hoosier lottery INDIANAPOLIS (July 2, 2013) -  There is still time would-be millionaires can take advantage of the Hoosier Lottery Independence Day Millionaire Raffle's amazing odds and purchase their shot at the $1 million grand prize.  Only 300,000 tickets were made available - and now time is running out!  Tickets are only available until 11:59 p.m. July 4. 

"These aren't just good odds.  They aren't just great odds. They are the very best odds of winning a million dollars from the Hoosier Lottery," said Connie Laverty O'Conner, Hoosier Lottery CEO of Business Operations.
Independence Day Raffle tickets cost just $10, are terminal-generated like Powerball and Hoosier Lotto tickets, and can be purchased at any of the approximately 4,100 Hoosier Lottery retailers statewide simply by asking the sales associate for a raffle ticket.  
Hoosiers may also want to be on the look-out for Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty as they are out-and-about the next few days.  Uncle Sam and Lady Liberty will be making appearances and selling raffle tickets at random Lottery retailers and other high traffic locations around the state.
One retailer that has seen a lot of raffle sales is Silver Express on the west side of Indianapolis, a store which is consistently a top Hoosier Lottery retailer.

"I've been telling my customers it's the best odds.  It's really good odds," said Noshey Mourkos, owner of Silver Express.  "The great odds are what has been motivating players to buy."

In total, more than 2,400 players will turn red, white and blue into a stack of green this holiday weekend in the Hoosier Lottery's Independence Day Millionaire Raffle.  The game also offers ten $10,000 prizes and 2,000 $100 prizes.  Winning numbers will be available at on July 5 around 12:00 noon.

The Hoosier Lottery reminds all players to play responsibly. Must be 18 or older to play.  Gambling Addiction Referral Line: 800-994-8448.

ABOUT THE HOOSIER LOTTERY: Hoosier Lottery distributions benefit every county throughout Indiana. Each fiscal year, the Hoosier Lottery contributes $30 million to Police and Firefighters Pensions, and $30 million to the Teacher's Retirement Fund. The remainder of Lottery earnings are applied to reduce  excise taxes by 50 percent for every Hoosier vehicle owner.
(article provided)


Read more: Clock is ticking on Hoosier Lottery's Independence Day Millionaire Raffle


Police Investigate 3 Vehicle Crash in St. John

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The Crash Reconstruction Units of the Lake County Sheriffs Police are investigating a Tuesday morning crash that occurred at Wicker Avenue and 97th Lane in St. John. The crash reported at 10:57 a..m. Involved a city truck, a semi hauling dirt and a passenger car. While no serious injuries were reported, police say the semi driver and driver of the city truck were transported to an area hospitals while the driver of the car was treated and release on the scene. The names of the drivers involved were not available at this time. The crash is still under investigation.

Read more: Police Investigate 3 Vehicle Crash in St. John


Hospital in Munster Changes Its Name

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As of July 1st, Franciscan Physicians Hospital, 701 Superior Ave., changed its name to Franciscan Healthcare-Munster “to better reflect the hospital as an evolving, full-service, health care center,” according to Barb Greene, hospital president.
“The new name is more reflective of the high-quality, broader-scope, medical center it represents today and will into the future, while serving Munster and the surrounding communities,” she said.  The change also was made in light of the hospital’s changeover from a previously, for-profit partnership between Franciscan Alliance and a number of physician shareholders, to a nonprofit. 
“Over time, an agreement was made with the physician partners to sell their shares of the hospital to Franciscan Alliance,” Greene said.  As a result of that process, the hospital is now fully owned by Franciscan Alliance and its status has changed to a nonprofit.”
“The new name fully supports our unique system brand, Franciscan, as our anchor and foundation. The term, Healthcare, represents the comprehensive array of medical services we offer and plan for the future,” Greene said. “Adding the town to the name identifies our geographical location to the patients and communities we are privileged to serve.” 
The growth will continue, according to Greene.      “A major master facility plan to enlarge the Franciscan Healthcare-Munster campus also is on the horizon. It includes the addition of an emergency department, bed tower, chapel and other expanded services,” Greene said.
(article provided)

Read more: Hospital in Munster Changes Its Name


IN Dunes Tourism Announces Photo Video Contest

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Indiana Dunes Tourism is seeking photos and videos that capture the beauty and adventures that can be found in the Indiana Dunes and the many great sites beyond the beach.
The “Share Your Beyond the Beach Adventure and Win” contest runs from now to Aug. 30.
People are encouraged to share their outdoor adventures along the Beyond the Beach Discovery Trail. The trail, which can be found at, features 60 sites in the Dunes Region, Moraine Region and Kankakee Region of Northwest Indiana.
Photos and video can be taken on land, in the water or even from the air. People can visit to learn more about the contest or to upload a photo or video.
“We’re sponsoring this contest to encourage people to explore the sites along the Beyond the Beach Discovery Trail and to share photos and videos that will highlight the wide array of adventures that can be experienced,” said Christine Livingston, Indiana Dunes Tourism assistant director.
The contest prizes include an overnight stay and Memorial Opera House tickets, as well as an Indiana Dunes State Park season pass and a $50 dinner gift certificate. The Beyond the Beach Discovery Trail is a collection of natural, historical and cultural sites throughout Northwest Indiana.
(article provided/photo from )

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Traffic Hazard Southbound I-65 at US-30

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SB I-65  at US-30  07-02-13
Looking toward southbound traffic on I-65 just past US-30, spilled contents can be seen in the left lane.
Traffic southbound I-65 is slowing down approaching US-30 in Merrillville because an dump truck reportedly lost it's load just past the US-30 overpass.  Drivers should merge into the left lane.  Traffic tipsters are reporting that the dump truck is off to the right hand shoulder.  Drivers should expect delays southbound on I-65 near mile 253.2.
(photo from INDOT)

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Operation C.A.R.E Campaign Over 4th of July Holiday

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Indiana State Police logo
To help ensure the safety of all motorists during this heavily traveled holiday, Indiana State Police will be participating in Operation C.A.R.E. (Combined Accident Reduction Effort) from July 3rd through
July 7th. Operation C.A.R.E. is a federally funded program and will allow more than 100 additional troopers to patrol area roadways in an attempt to reduce the number of crashes, fatalities and injuries over the holiday weekend. Troopers will be targeting impaired drivers, motorists who speed, follow too closely, make unsafe lane changes, drive aggressively and fail to buckle up or properly restrain their children. Troopers also encourage motorists to stay off their cell phones while driving.
The Indiana State Police encourage all motorists to observe the following safety tips:
• If you’re planning to travel a long distance, make sure you are well rested. A fatigued driver is a dangerous driver.
• Avoid tailgating. Remember the two-second rule.
• Obey all speed limits and always use your turn signals when turning and changing lanes.
• Avoid using cell phones while driving. Distracted driving is dangerous driving.
• Never drink and drive.
• Make sure everyone is buckled up.
The Indiana State Police would like everyone to remember that driving comes with important responsibilities to yourself, your passengers and other motorists.
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Read more: Operation C.A.R.E Campaign Over 4th of July Holiday


Traffic and Street Restrictions in LaPorte July 4th for Parade

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LaPorte PD
LaPorte Police have announced traffic and street restrictions for the LaPorte Jaycees Fourth of July Parade next Thursday. The parade begins at 10 a.m. and starts at Tipton St., running east to west on State Road 2, (Lincolnway & J St.), to Andrew Av.
Beginning at 8:30 AM on July 4th, traffic will be diverted off of State Road 2. No traffic other than the parade units will be allowed on State Road 2, (Lincolnway & J St.), between Philadelphia Street and Andrew Avenue on the day of the parade between 8:30 AM and the end of the parade.
Regarding the parade route; there will be no parking allowed on the street or in the tree lawns along State Road 2. No citizens will be allowed to sit in the street along the parade route, and no pedestrians, bicyclists or skaters will be allowed in the street along the parade route while the parade taking place. No vehicles will be allowed to be illegally parked in the middle of the cross streets along the parade route during the parade.
Emergency routes for LaPorte County Emergency Medical Services and the LaPorte Fire Department will be Michigan Avenue and US 35, so any citizens wishing to stand in those streets must be prepared to move quickly. People who illegally park along the parade route will receive citations and have their vehicles impounded.
Access to the staging area for the parade will be restricted well in advance of the parade by barricades, as will access to the parade route when it is closed. All motorists should remember that driving around barricades is against the law and they will be cited if an officer observes them doing it.
For events like the Fourth of July Parade pedestrian safety is the number one priority of the La Porte Police Department and any dangerous or illegal driving behavior will not be tolerated.
Parade spectators are reminded to adhere to the city ordinance which prohibits the placement of blankets, chairs and other items along the parade route more than 24 hours before the official start of the parade. No blankets, chairs or other items may be placed along the route before 10:00 AM on July 3, 2013.
Spectators attending the parade are asked to be considerate of everyone around them during the event. Since the parade is first and foremost a family event, officers have been given orders to arrest any intoxicated, unruly or belligerent persons. Fireworks violations that occur along the parade route will also be aggressively addressed due to the public safety issues involved.
Citizens are reminded that due to the crowds, noise and confusion, the parade is definitely not a good place to bring pets. Parents are also strongly encouraged to closely supervise their children and perhaps attach a note to the clothing of younger children indicating where the parents are along the parade route, in case a child wanders off.
The detour route around the city for SR 2 will be Boyd Boulevard to US 35 to Crescent Drive to 18th Street. All east-west streets north and south of the parade route will be open.
The main detour route for east-west traffic through the downtown area will be along Factory Street, Brighton Street, Washington Street, State Street, L Street, Second Street and Colfax Avenue to and from State Road 2.
The detour for US 35 from the north will be to exit the US overpass and then travel either east or west from there.
The detour for US 35 from the south will be either Boyd Boulevard or Crescent Drive as previously mentioned.
We are reminding motorists that the traffic on the Fourth of July is always very slow and congested. If you have a low tolerance for these types of traffic conditions, you may want to avoid the downtown area.
The La Porte Police Department wishes everyone a fun and safe July 4th Celebration!
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IN Ranks 22nd in Overall Hwy Performance and Efficiency

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The Reason Foundation has released their latest annual highway report and Indiana ranked 22nd in the nation in overall highway performance and efficiency, up from 23rd in their previous report. According to the report, Indiana ranks first in rural instate pavement condition, 10th in fatality rate, 10th in urban interstate congestion, 21st in deficient bridges, and 28th in urban interstate pavement condition.
Indiana has the 23rd largest highway system in the nation, with 11-thousand-175 miles under state highway control, and the state's administrative costs are three-times the national average, ranking 43rd, bu the report says that is possible due to accounting decisions associated with the Indiana Toll Road Concession.. For more information on the annual highway report, visit
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Read more: IN Ranks 22nd in Overall Hwy Performance and Efficiency


Communities Pull Together During Last Week's Storms

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tree down
(Photo Courtesy of Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller)
Last week's storms hit the region hard, knocking out power to over 100-thousand energy customers and causing numerous trees to be uprooted, as well as other damage, but it also showed how communities and law enforcement agencies can come together for the greater good. Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller says he was very impressed by the way neighbors in Hammond helped each other out moving trees and branches. Chief Miller says after Tuesday's storm, the City of Gary lost their ability to field 9-1-1 calls, so Hammond covered for them, and returned the favor after Hammond lost their 9-1-1 call ability during Friday's storms....

Read more: Communities Pull Together During Last Week's Storms


Three Vehicle Crash Near Lowell on SB I-65

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Traffic tipster are reporting a three-vehicle crash on southbound I-65 near the Lowell exit. Traffic is reportedly getting by on the right shoulder. No further information is available at this time.
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Arnold Appointed to 10 Interim Study Committees, Commissions

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Jim Arnold
INDIANAPOLIS-- State Senator Jim Arnold (D-LaPorte) has been appointed to serve on the new School Safety Interim Study Committee, which was established by the 2013 legislative session. The committee stems from Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 1 and will look to improve safety among the state’s schools and develop best practices for school resource officers hired under the provisions of SEA 1. The act provided schools with grant funding to hire officers to assist with school safety and security.
Another interim committee to which Sen. Arnold will serve is the Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee. The committee is charged with studying a variety of issues surrounding the investigation, prosecution and sentencing of crimes in Indiana, including the criminal code affected by House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1006 that was approved in April. The committee will study and make recommendations to the General Assembly concerning statutes overhauled by HEA 1006 before the law takes effect next year, including sentencing laws, local corrections programs and the suspensions of certain sentences. 
Sen. Arnold has also been appointed to the Special Group Recognition License Plate Committee, Census Data Advisory Committee, Code Revision Commission, Interim Study Committee on Driver Education, Interim Study Committee on Economic Development, Indiana Homeland Security Foundation, Joint Study Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Assessment and Solutions and the Water Resources Study Committee.
These appointments were made by the Senate President Pro Tempore David Long (R-Fort Wayne) upon recommendation of Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson).
The Indiana General Assembly annually convenes interim study committees and permanent commissions to conduct in-depth research and analysis of issues affecting the state. Recommendations from these committees are often the basis for future legislation. More information about committee topics, schedules and agendas is available online at
Sen. Arnold represents District 8 in the Indiana State Senate which encompasses most of LaPorte County including the City of LaPorte and the eastern part of Michigan City. It also includes western St. Joseph County and Davis, Oregon, Washington, Center and Jackson townships in Starke County.
For more information about Sen. Arnold, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit
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Read more: Arnold Appointed to 10 Interim Study Committees, Commissions


Coats: Congress Should Work Together on Student Loan Rates

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Senator Dan Coats
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) on Monday made the following statement regarding the doubling of interest rates on student loans that took effect Monday:
“A long-term fix to prevent an increase in student loan interest rates is vitally important for America’s young people,” Coats said. “I have supported a market-based proposal, similar to what President Obama has suggested, that would allow students to take advantage of low interest rates and provide long-term financial stability to the loan program. The Senate Majority Leader rejected this common-sense proposal in order to push for tax increases. This misguided plan would cost taxpayers more than $8 billion, yet would save students only $6 per month. Given the economic challenges already facing young Americans, I am hopeful that Senator Reid will work with the president and Republicans on a permanent solution that puts students ahead of politics.”
Beginning Monday, the interest rate on new subsidized Stafford student loans increased from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. Approximately seven million college students will be affected by the rate hike.
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Children Twice as Likely to be Injured by Fireworks

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IDHS logo
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office is reminding Hoosiers that children ages 10-14 are twice as likely to be injured by fireworks.Two out of every five fireworks injuries are individuals under the age of 15.
“Fireworks are a part of many Independence Day celebrations, and we want Hoosiers to have a safe and happy holiday,” said Indiana State Fire Marshal, Jim Greeson. “However, caution should be used to prevent injuries, especially for children.”
The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office is a division of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.
Even seemingly harmless fireworks can cause injuries. Sparklers, hand-held and ground fireworks (those that stay on the ground) alone accounted for 38 percent of the 8,600 emergency room fireworks injuries in 2010. Sparklers burn at about 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 300 degrees hotter than the temperature at which glass melts. Glow sticks make an excellent alternative to sparklers, especially for young children, and can be purchased at most retail stores.

General fireworks safety
·         Only purchase and light 1.4G consumer fireworks. Examples include bottle rockets, roman candles and firecrackers.
·         Store fireworks in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
·         Do not alter any fireworks device or attempt to make your own fireworks.
·         Use a clear, open area and keep your audience a safe distance from the ignition site.
·         Light one firework item at a time and never attempt to re-light or fix a “dud” firework.
·         Never let children handle, play with, or light any fireworks.
·         Have a fire extinguisher, hose, bucket of water or other water source nearby.
·         Be cautious when lighting fireworks when it is windy.
·         Never smoke or drink alcoholic beverages while handling fireworks.
·         Never aim, point, or throw fireworks at another person.
·         Use fireworks outdoors, never indoors.

Fireworks can be fun, as long as safety rules are followed. For more information about fireworks safety, visit
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Read more: Children Twice as Likely to be Injured by Fireworks


Indiana DNR Investigates Fish Kill on Little Calumet River

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INDIANA DNR Conservation Officer
Indiana Conservation Officers are investigating a fish kill that occurred 6/30/13 on the Little Calumet River in Lake County, near Munster. Indiana Conservation Officers, along with the Lake County Haz-Mat team responded to a ¼ mile long area near Calumet Ave to find over 200 dead fish of varying size and species along the banks of the river. Water samples were collected for testing by IDEM to determine if pollutants were present in the river. Samples of the dead fish were also collected for analysis by DNR fisheries biologists. The multi-agency investigation is on-going at this time. Anyone with possible information about the fish kill is encouraged to contact Indiana Conservation Officer Central Dispatch at 812-837-9536.
(article provided)

Read more: Indiana DNR Investigates Fish Kill on Little Calumet River


Michigan City Police Seek Public's Help

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Gerron Oshei 5-28-12
Oshei Gerron
On Saturday 6/29/13 at 1:45AM Officers from the Michigan City Police Dept patrol division heard gunshots in the area of Franklin St/ 11th St. Upon further investigation Officer Michael King found 22 year old Marques Cooper lying in 1000 block of Franklin St lying in the roadway. King approached Cooper and discovered he was suffering from a gunshot wound. Emergency Medical personnel were called and Cooper was transported to St Anthony’s Memorial Hospital. He was later flown to South Bend Memorial Hospital.
Detective Jillian Ashley was called and an investigation was immediately started. Detective Ashley worked through the weekend piecing the case together, gathering evidence, and executing search warrants. Search warrants were issued for a residence and two vehicles by the Honorable Richard Stalbrink, Judge LaPorte Superior Court #2. LaPorte County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Robert Neary presented evidence to the Court with Detective Ashley testifying.
On 6/30/13 the Honorable Kathleen Lang, Judge LaPorte Superior Court #1 was presented with the facts and evidence collected through the weekend. Judge Lang issued an arrest warrant for Oshei Gerron charging him with Aggravated Battery as a Class B Felony and Battery as a Class C Felony.
Anyone with information as to the whereabouts of Gerron is encouraged to call the police. Oshei Gerron should be considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information about this case or any crime is asked to call the crime tip hotline at (219) 873-1488.
(photo provided by Michigan City Police Dept.)


Read more: Michigan City Police Seek Public's Help


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Region News Team
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