Public Input Sessions on SR 49 Study

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A couple of public input sessions are coming up in a couple days at the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce office to get feedback for the State Road 49 corridor study. Residents can come out Monday and/or Tuesday afternoon to view possible development ideas for the corridor, from State Road 2 , or LaPorte Avenue, north to US 6.  Monday's (June 24) ession is 2-5:30pm; Tuesday (June 25) is 1-4:30pm.

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Investigation into Death of Lake Station Man in Hobart

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A 72 year old Lake Station man is dead due to head trauma after an incident that occurred this afternoon in the five-thousand block of East 70th Avenue in Hobart. The Lake County Coroner's Office reports Anthony Wirtz was pronounced dead at 3:09 this afternoon, and that the manner of death is being withheld pending an investigation. No further information is available at this time.
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Attorney for Van Til Requests Government's Evidence

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The attorney for Lake County Surveyor George Van Til on Friday filed a motion in US District Court requesting the feds turn over their evidence against his client so he can eventually consider whether accepting a plea deal would be in his best interest. Van Til pled not guilty last month to six-counts of wire fraud and two-counts of obstruction of justice, and is alleged to have devised a scheme to defraud Lake County of money and property by utilizing county employees to perform personal and political services so he would be reelected surveyor.
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Elementary School in Crown Point Struck by Lightning

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cp school hit by lightning
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
An elementary school in Crown Point was struck by lightning this afternoon. The Times reports the incident was reported around 2:45pm, as thunderstorms moved through the area. Firefighters reportedly found some smoke in Timothy Ball Elementary School, in the 700 block of West Summit Street, and that the lightning hit the highest point of the school, which was not in session.
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Read more: Elementary School in Crown Point Struck by Lightning


US Marshals Fugitive of the Week: Federico Ortiz II

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(Photo Courtesy of the US Marshals, Great Lakes Task Force)
A 22 year old wanted in Porter County Court for probation violations, and underlying felony charges of dealing controlled substances has been named this week's “Fugitive of the Week”, by the U-S Marshals Service, Great Lakes Task Force. Federico Ortiz II is described as a white male, 5'09”, weighing 210 pounds, with brown hair and green eyes. Authorities report Ortiz was last known to reside in the 37-hundred block of 34th Lane in Hobart and the 900 block of Camelot Manor in Portage. Ortiz is also known to frequent the areas of Portage, Lake Station, and Hobart. 
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Federico Ortiz II may contact task force investigators by calling toll-free (888) 805-6119 or by texting “capture” to Tip411 (847411). All tipsters will remain anonymous.
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Participants Sought for Waste/Recycling Focus Groups

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Porter County, Indiana – The Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County invites Porter County residents to take part in focus groups that will be held around the county to help the agency collect information to create a strategic plan.
The District is working with consultants from Organizational Development Solutions, Inc. who will conduct the sessions. Questions will focus on county and individual needs, whether or not participants use any of the District services.
All participants will be entered into a drawing for a Kindle Reader. Sessions are limited. Volunteers are asked to choose the session they are interested in attending and confirm attendance by calling 219-926-3665 or sending an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .
The following sessions have been scheduled: Monday, June 24, 8:30 to 10 a.m., Porter County United Way, 951 Eastporte Center Dr., Valparaiso; or 1 to 2:30 p.m., Hebron Library (upstairs room), 201 W. Sigler.
Tuesday, July 9, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Kouts Library Indiana Room, 101 E. Daumer Rd.; or 2 to 3:30 p.m., Portage Library, 2665 Irving St.
Wednesday, July 10, 9 to 10:30 a.m., Duneland Chamber of Commerce, 220 Broadway, Chesterton; Tuesday, July 16, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Hageman Library, 100 Francis St., Porter; Wednesday, July 17, 8 to 9:30 a.m., Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce, 162 W. Lincolnway; Monday, July 22, 8 to 9:30 a.m., Construction Advancement Foundation, 6050 Southport Rd., Portage; and Thursday, July 25, 1 to 2:30 p.m., Burns Harbor Town Hall, 1240 W. North Boo Rd.
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Coats to Reid: Don't Block Open Debate on Immigration Reform

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Senator Dan Coats
WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.), ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Homeland Security Committee, issued the following statement regarding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s action to begin the process of shutting down debate on the Senate immigration reform bill:
“Time and time again, the Majority Leader has shut down debate without allowing full consideration of amendments, and it appears he is heading down that path again. I am concerned that the Majority Leader is taking a page out of the Obamacare playbook and preparing to jam through another 1,000-page bill without full examination by Congress and the input of the American people. Refusing to allow an open and fair amendment process only jeopardizes the chances for a credible and effective immigration reform bill.
“Those of us who are pushing for realistic and needed reforms to our broken system deserve the ability to work toward that goal and represent the people of our state.
Repairing our immigration system is far too important of an issue to be dealt with behind closed doors and without the opportunity for all senators to seek improvements.”
Click here to learn more about the amendments Coats offered to improve border security measures in the Senate immigration bill.
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Read more: Coats to Reid: Don't Block Open Debate on Immigration Reform


Tips to Save You Money on Your Summer Electric Bill

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Now that summer’s here, electric bills will be going up. However, consumers can take a number of no-cost and low-cost steps that will help keep energy costs in check.
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) offers a number of consumer tips for reducing summer electric bills.
Among the tips:
· Unplug chargers for cell phones and other devices when you’re not using them. Power strips can help.
· Set the thermostat at the highest comfortable temperature and raise it a few degrees if you’ll be leaving the house for more than 5 hours.
· Move lamps, TVs and appliances away from the thermostat. 
· Turn off all lights, TVs, computers and other appliances you’re not using. Use timers when you go on vacation.
· If you use exhaust fans, only use them for very short periods of time.
· Use ceiling fans only when you are in the room, and make sure they are set to turn counter-clockwise.
· Close blinds, shades and draperies, as well as storm doors and windows.
· Have your HVAC system serviced by a professional, for both efficiency and safety purposes. Be sure the filter is clean, and make sure the vents are not blocked by furniture or rugs.
· If you haven’t checked your attic’s insulation in a few years, it’s time to give it a look.
· Wait until evening to use the oven or dishwasher, to do laundry, or to use other large appliances. Use a microwave or toaster for cooking during the day.
· Clean the coils on your refrigerator. Also, close your refrigerator and freezer doors on a dollar bill. If you can easily pull the bill out, the gaskets are too loose and are letting cold air escape.
· If you have a second refrigerator in your garage or basement, consider getting rid of it. If it is in working condition, some utilities will haul it away at no charge and will even pay you for the old appliance.
· Make sure your clothes dryer vent isn’t clogged.
· Make sure your water heater isn’t set too high. 115 or 120 degrees is hot enough for most households.
· Compact fluorescent (CFL) and light emitting diode (LED) bulbs use much less energy and emit much less heat than traditional incandescent bulbs.
· Enroll in your utility’s air conditioning load management program if available.
For a copy of the OUCC’s “Reduce Your Summer Electric Bill” fact sheet, visit or call the agency toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.
For more specific recommendations for saving energy, many residential electric customers can receive home energy assessments from Energizing Indiana at no extra charge. To learn more and sign up if you qualify, visit or call 1-888-446-7750 toll-free. A number of utilities also offer online energy audits on their websites.
"A home energy assessment can play a major role in helping consumers find ways to save energy that they otherwise might not have known about,” said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler. “The beginning of summer is an annual reminder for all of us to use electricity more wisely and to take advantage of the many ways to save.”
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Read more: Tips to Save You Money on Your Summer Electric Bill


ISTEP + Vendors Will Have to Pay for Test Interruptions

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Department of Education announced preliminary damages that it will seek from CTB McGraw-Hill related to ISTEP+ interruptions experienced by schools throughout the state this spring. These amounts are not final, and may well grow as results are reviewed by a third party and additional information is gained. The preliminary damages amount sought will not be less than $613,600 and could reasonably go into the millions. That amount includes $400,000 in liquidated damages provided for in the contract between the Department of Education and CTB. It also includes $53,600 that the Department will spend to have a third party conduct an analysis of the scores of students that had their testing sessions interrupted and at least $160,00 for other related costs associated with enhanced reporting data.
In addition to the preliminary damages, additional damages may be sought after further investigation. Those potential damages include, but are not limited to:
-Reimbursement to Indiana schools for additional costs incurred to administer ISTEP+ during the extended testing window.
-Reimbursement to the Indiana Department of Education for additional costs incurred because of ISTEP+ testing interruptions.
“I have worked closely with CTB throughout the entire ISTEP+ testing process,” said Superintendent Ritz. “The consequences of CTB’s server failures were real and significant for Indiana schools. As Superintendent, I will work to ensure that schools are made whole while continuing to negotiate with CTB in good faith.”
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Read more: ISTEP + Vendors Will Have to Pay for Test Interruptions


Gas Prices Down 34 Cents Since Last Week

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Prices at the pump have fallen quite a bit in the latest week according to Triple-A's fuel price finder. The company reports in the Gary Metropolitan Area prices at last check are averaging three-dollars-71-cents for a gallon of regular unleaded, down 34-cents from just last week. The Indiana average is also three-dollars-71-cents, and falling, while the national average is three-dollars-59 cents, that according to
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Read more: Gas Prices Down 34 Cents Since Last Week


Heavy Rain Moving through Region Causing Traffic Delays

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Traffic is reportedly running under posted speeds due to heavy precipitation moving through the Region.  Traffic tipster reported water on the roadway of Interstate 65 from the Borman (I-80/94) to US-231 the Crown point exit.   In addition both directions of 80/94 from the state line to the Lake Station corridor are averaging 30 miles an hour.  As a result, traffic northbound on I-65 is backing up onto the westbound entrance ramp of I-80/94, from just before 45th Avenue.  Drivers should allow extra time, increase the distance between them and other drivers and be sure to have their headlights on.
rain moving through causing backup 06-22-13
(photo from INDOT )

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Pence to Talk Transportation in NW IN with IL Gov Monday

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Gov Mike Pence
Indiana Governor Mike Pence will be discussing transportation in Northwest Indiana with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn on Monday. Both governors will be attending the Illiana Corridor Industry Forum that takes place at noon, in Rosemont, Illinois. INDOT and IDOT are hosting the two-day international industry forum for potential contractors, construction managers, partners and investors. Later that same afternoon, Governor Pence is scheduled to tour the homeless charity, “A Safe Haven Foundation” in Chicago.
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Read more: Pence to Talk Transportation in NW IN with IL Gov Monday


IN Seasonally Adjusted Unemloyment Rate Stays at 8.3%

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The US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that compared to the same time a year ago, unemployment in the region went up in every county but Starke County, whose May 2013 rates remained the same as in May of 2012 at 10-point-one percent, and who along with LaPorte County in May also registered the highest county unemployment in the region. Porter County registered the region's lowest unemployment rate in May, at seven-point-nine percent, up two-tenths from the previous month, and up four-tenths from a year ago. Unemployment in Lake County in May remained the same as last month, at nine-point-seven percent, but up seven-tenths from a year ago. The Gary and Michigan City metropolitan areas respectively registered nine-point-two and ten-point-one percent unemployment in May. Gary had the highest city unemployment rate in May at 14-point-two percent, same as last month, and up one-point-one percent from a year ago, while Schererville had the lowest unemployment in May with a population over 25-thousand, at six-point-eight percent, down two-tenths from April, but up two-tenths from a year ago. Indiana's May seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was eight-point-three percent, same as a year ago, and down two-tenths from last month.  For more unemployment rate information visit
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Read more: IN Seasonally Adjusted Unemloyment Rate Stays at 8.3%


West Nile Detected in Indiana

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State health officials have confirmed the first signs of West Nile virus activity in Indiana – and it's earlier than usual. Mosquitoes in Adams County in northeast Indiana tested positive for West Nile virus last week. The virus typically isn't detected in Indiana until mid-summer, but they say it's impossible to say what that means as far as the rest of the season and how severe it will be, as future temperatures and rainfall go toward determining that. Last year, West Nile virus was found in mosquitoes in every county except Crawford.

"With this earlier than usual discovery of West Nile virus activity, Hoosiers are now at a greater risk of West Nile virus,” said Jennifer House, Director of Zoonotic and Environmental Epidemiology at the Indiana State Department of Health. “But there are many ways people can help protect themselves and their families. By following several simple, effective and important steps, they can help reduce not only mosquitoes, but mosquito bites.”
More info from the Indiana Dept of Health:
Dr. House recommends people take the following protective steps:
If possible, avoid being outdoors during prime mosquito biting times from dusk to dawn;
Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin or oil of lemon eucalyptus to clothes and exposed skin;
Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of the home; and
When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants while outside.
West Nile virus usually causes a mild form of the illness, which can include fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands or a rash. However, a small number of individuals can develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis. Some individuals may die from the infection. Health officials say that although individuals over age 50 are at greatest risk for serious illness and even death from West Nile virus, people of all ages have been infected with the virus and have had severe disease. More than 30 Hoosiers have died from the illness, including eight in 2012, since Indiana had its first human case of West Nile virus in 2002.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have first bitten an infected bird. A person bitten by an infected mosquito may show symptoms three to 15 days after the bite.
“Mosquitoes begin activity around the spring,” said Dr. House. “Besides West Nile virus, mosquitoes can spread several different diseases including St. Louis Encephalitis and La Crosse Encephalitis. Usually, mosquito transmitted diseases occur during the summer months and don’t show signs of waning until the first hard frost of the season.”
State health officials also recommend Hoosiers take the following steps to rid their properties of potential mosquito breeding grounds:
Discard old tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other containers that can hold water;
Repair failed septic systems;
Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors;
Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed;
Clean clogged roof gutters, particularly if leaves tend to plug up the drains;
Frequently replace the water in pet bowls;
Flush ornamental fountains and birdbaths periodically; and
Aerate ornamental pools, or stock them with predatory fish.
For more information, visit or follow the Indiana State Department of Health on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at .


Read more: West Nile Detected in Indiana


Burns Harbor Wants Input on Westport

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The Burns Harbor Town Council held a public workshop Wednesday night to hear ideas in regards to possible uses for the former Westport Community Club property. Members of the Town Council and Burns Harbor Parks Department were on hand to discuss the future of the recently donated community center and four and a half acres of land located on the northeast corner of Indiana 149 and Haglund Road.   One of the more prominent options being considered is a joint venture between the Parks Department and Chesterton's Pop Warner football league. Pop Warner itself is looking to store equipment, conduct board meetings and registrations in the building.  Councilman Gene Weibl says that Pop Warner isn't looking to acquire the property for use until after this year, so members of the Burns Harbor Town Council are encouraging anyone with an opinion on the matter to come out and share their thoughts. The next Town Council meeting is scheduled for the night of July 10th at 7:00 with another workshop to follow around 8:00 at the Burns Harbor Town Hall.

Read more: Burns Harbor Wants Input on Westport


Indiana Adds 9000 Jobs in May

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MAY2013charts small
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development says the state's private sector added nine-thousand jobs in May, the largest monthly increase since February of 2012. Growth occurred at twice the national average for the month (0.4 percent vs. 0.2 percent). Private sector employment in the Hoosier State is now at pre-recession levels not seen since July of 2008. Indiana’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell for the second month in a row by point-two percent to 8-point-3 percent.
More info regarding today's report:
April and May rate decreases signify the largest two month drop since early last year. Indiana was one of only two Midwestern states to experience a decrease in rate for the month. So far in 2013, initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits are at their lowest levels since 2000. “May was quite a positive month for job growth in the Hoosier State,” said Scott B. Sanders, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. “Most tangible employment measures seem to be trending in the right direction for the moment, which is cause for cautious optimism.” 
Sanders also noted Indiana has added 45,300 private sector jobs over the past year, more than one-third of which have occurred since January. Thirteen percent of private sector growth over the past year has come from manufacturing as Indiana continues to have more manufacturing jobs as a percentage of the private sector than any other state.
Employment by Sector Sectors showing gains in May include: Trade, Transportation & Utilities (4,100), Leisure and Hospitality (3,300), Professional & Business Services (2,500) Financial Activities (1,400), and Construction (400). The Private Educational & Health Services (-1,600), and Manufacturing (-800) sectors showed declines. Total non-farm employment increased in May (7,500).

Read more: Indiana Adds 9000 Jobs in May


Beware the Giant Hogweed

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hogweed WinCE
Officials say small colonies of Giant Hogweed have recently been spotted in Indiana, and Hoosiers are warned to stay far away from it. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says the plant has been found in St. Joseph and Kosciusko Counties and can cause severe skin irritation and temporary or permanent blindness from contact with it.
Beware the Giant Hogweed
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says Giant Hogweed is a public health hazard listed as a federal noxious weed, and ranks higher than poison ivy, with regards to its potential to harm you. Biologists say it's a tall plant, capable of reaching heights of six feet or more, with very large leaves, up to five feet across, and large clusters of white flowers.
[Photos/Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development]


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Answers on ISTEP Issues Expected

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Indiana lawmakers will be seeking answers about ISTEP today... as officials with CTB/McGraw Hill, Indiana's online ISTEP vendor...testify this afternoon before a state committee reviewing the testing problems experienced in the Region and elsewhere in the state this Spring. Testing was interrupted by computer issues. To view the hearing, which will be in the Senate chamber of the Indiana Statehouse, beginning at noon Region time, click here:


Read more: Answers on ISTEP Issues Expected


Grain Bin Safety Urged After Indiana Death

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As many Hoosier grain handling facility workers prepare for this year’s harvest, employers and employees are being reminded of how to stay safe. A 59-year-old Veedersburg man in west central Indiana died after being pulled into a grain bin Wednesday. The Indiana Department of Labor says people working in or near grain handling facilities should never work alone because they are exposed to significant hazards that include falls, electrocution, engulfment, auger entanglement and dust explosions.
“The safety of our farm workers should always be of paramount importance to our Indiana farm businesses,” noted Commissioner Sean Keefer. “It is especially important to recognize the dangers of working in and around grain bins and take all necessary precautions.”
Information provided by the Indiana Department of Labor:
Prevent falls: Provide all employees with a body harness and lifeline, or a boatswains chair, and ensure it is properly secured before entering a grain bin.
Prevent electrocution/auger entanglement: Before grain bin or silo entry, shut down and lock out all equipment power sources. Station an observer outside the bin or silo to continuously monitor and track the employee inside the bin.
Prevent engulfment: Prohibit employees from walking-down the grain or using similar practices to make the grain flow. Prohibit entry into bins or silos underneath a bridging condition or where there is a build-up of grain products on side walls that could shift and bury a worker.
Prevent dust explosions: Prior to any entry, test the air within a bin or silo for the presence of combustible and toxic gases and make sure there is sufficient oxygen for safe entry.
Employers and employees are strongly encouraged to learn about safe grain handling procedures and take necessary precautions for the prevention of work-related injuries and fatalities.
Upon entry into the top of a silo or bin:
  1. Never work alone during any entry of a silo or bin.
  2. Turn off the auger and lock out the shut-off switch.
  3. Turn on the aerator.
  4. Conduct a pre-use inspection on all rescue equipment. Have all rescue equipment readily available for immediate use.
  5. Ensure the silo or grain bin entrant is wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment—dust mask, safety glasses, rescue harness, etc.
  6. Ensure all workers are familiar with the communication procedures and within communication distance. 
  7. Ensure tie off at an adequate anchor point. Make sure there is enough rope to travel up the ladder and into the silo to attach to the harness and employee.
  8. Place an employee attendee at the top of the silo or bin and another at the base of the ladder at the anchor point.
  9. Never allow slack on the lifeline.
  10. In the event of entrapment at or above waist level: 
    1. Train the entrant to cover his or her face with his or her shirt or dust mask.
    2. Never attempt to rescue the entrapped employee from the top of the bin or silo.  Implement Emergency Action Plan procedures.
Entrapment or engulfment procedures:
  1. Turn off the auger and lock out the shut-off switch.
  2. Turn on the aerator.
  3. Call 911.
  4. If the victim is within reach, without entering the bin, place a rescue sleeve around the victim. If a rescue sleeve is not available, place any flat, hard surface material (i.e. plywood, sheet metal, etc.) at the face of the victim.
For questions about worker safety and health, please contact the Indiana onsite OSHA consultation program, INSafe, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (317) 232-2688.

Read more: Grain Bin Safety Urged After Indiana Death


Milestone for IU School of Medicine - Northwest

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3rd-year-med-students - IUSM-NW WinCE
Friday [June 14] was Orientation Day for the third-year medical students attending IU School of Medicine – Northwest at IUN in Gary... and with twelve third-year medical students, this is the largest third-year class to date, since the recent expansion from a two-year to four-year institution for the IU School of Medicine - Northwest. Ten of the students are from Northwest Indiana – Hobart, Portage, Merrillville, Highland, Burns Harbor, Gary, Hebron, Crown Point and Munster-- and two are from Indianapolis... and starting this week students were being sent around the region and into hospitals to begin their rotations in their subspecialties.
Visit News Audio on Demand here at our website to hear our interview with one of the students, Cicely Moreno of Gary.
Photo/courtesy IUN:
·         Top Row – (left to right): Galen Hartman of Indianapolis; Wayne Larson of Hobart; Jeremiah (JJ) Cox of Portage; Kenneth Polezoes of Merrillville; Daniel Pop of Highland; Daniel Berg of Indianapolis.
·         Middle Row – (left to right): Dr. Patrick Bankston (Associate Dean and Director of IU School of Medicine-Northwest); Kyle Gospodarek of Hobart; Alissa Bishel of Burns Harbor; Cicely Moreno of Gary; Margie Rivera-Tomasi (Coordinator of Clinical Education)
·         Bottom Row – (left to right): Courtney Myers of Hebron; Christine Stephens of Crown Point; Rohini Chatterjee of Munster

Read more: Milestone for IU School of Medicine - Northwest


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Region News Team
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Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team


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