'A Christmas Story' Window Travels to Riley Hospital

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A window scene from the annual "A Christmas Story" Comes Home exhibit at the Indiana Welcome Center in Hammond will be spending this holiday season in a special place downstate.   According to Speros A. Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, the organization wanted to share Northwest Indiana’s holiday cheer with Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis
“Watching the holiday classic ‘A Christmas Story’ has become tradition for many families. We wanted to provide Riley Hospital for Children’s patients and families the chance to experience the annual exhibit during their time at Riley,” said Batistatos. In addition to providing one of the window scenes for display, the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority will be coordinating several special events. The special events will offer patients and families the opportunity to experience Christmas traditions while at Riley Hospital for Children.
The “A Christmas Story” Comes Home exhibit, which is presented in agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, will open at the Indiana Welcome Center on Saturday, Nov. 9 and run through Sunday, Jan. 5. The Indiana Welcome Center is open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is located at 7770 Corinne Drive, Hammond, Indiana 46323.
For more information on the exhibit, weekend and holiday hours, special events, or the partnership with Riley Hospital for Children, contact Bethany Randolph, special events and services manager for the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, at 219-554-2229 or visit

Read more: 'A Christmas Story' Window Travels to Riley Hospital


Merrillville Town Council Vote Favors Illiana

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The town of Merrillville has officially thrown its support behind the proposed Illiana Expressway. At this week's town council meeting, the vote was five-to-one, with one councilman absent, in favor of regional planners including the project in the 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan, an important step to get federal dollars. Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission's board is scheduled to take that vote December 12th. The 47-mile highway would link Interstate 65 in south Lake County near Lowell to I-55 in Illinois.   Published reports say Councilman Richard Hardaway, who cast the vote against, said his objection comes not against the project itself, but in light of the opposition from residents of south Lake County who would be affected by the highway, noting that Lowell State Representative Rick Niemeyer and Lake County Councilman Eldon Strong of Crown Point are against it. Niemeyer and Strong made a joint announcement earlier this month urging NIRPC to vote it down saying money would be better spent on existing projects in the Region....

Read more: Merrillville Town Council Vote Favors Illiana


Survey Says Cost of Thanksgiving Meal Drops

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The cost for a traditional Thanksgiving meal in Indiana dropped sharply from 2012 to 2013, according to an informal survey of grocery costs from Indiana Farm Bureau.  The annual survey indicates that the average cost for this year’s Thanksgiving meal for 10 is $48.12, down nearly $3 from last year’s average of $51.05.
“The cost of this year’s meal, at less than $5 per serving, remains an excellent value for consumers,” said Isabella Chism, Indiana Farm Bureau second vice president. “Indiana’s farm families are honored to produce the food for family Thanksgiving celebrations.”
Done as part of a national survey coordinated by the American Farm Bureau, the Indiana shopping list includes turkey, bread stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and both coffee and milk, all in quantities sufficient to serve a family of 10 with leftovers.
A 16-pound turkey was $23.04 or $1.44 per pound, a decrease of 17 cents per pound and $2.72 overall.
“Slightly higher turkey production for much of the year coupled with an increase in birds in cold storage may be responsible for the moderate price decrease our shoppers reported,” said John Anderson, deputy chief economist at the American Farm Bureau Federation.
AFBF’s 167 volunteer shoppers checked prices at grocery stores in 34 states. Among those were the 18 shoppers who participated in IFB’s survey.
The national survey compiled by AFBF also showed a decrease on both the overall cost of the dinner and the turkey. The cost of the meal averaged $49.04, a 44-cent price decrease from last year’s average of $49.48, while the turkey cost $21.76, or about $1.36 per pound, a decrease of about 3 cents per pound compared to 2012.
In addition to the turkey, other prices that decreased on the Indiana survey were whole milk, which dropped by 26 cents a gallon to $2.76; whipping cream, down 22 cents to $1.62 for a half pint; a dozen rolls, down 16 cents to $1.83; frozen pie shells, which dropped 4 cents to $2.34 for two; and a 1-pound relish tray of carrots and celery, down 3 cents to 83 cents.
Items that showed a moderate price increase from last year included stuffing, up 21 cents to $2.62; 3 pounds of sweet potatoes, up 15 cents to $2.97; 12 ounces fresh cranberries, up 8 cents to $2.44; and pumpkin pie filling mix, up 4 cents to $3.07. In addition, a combined group of miscellaneous items including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter) increased 2 cents to $3.20.
Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals. The Indiana Farm Bureau says another option for busy families without a lot of time to cook is ready-to-eat Thanksgiving meals for up to 10 people, with all the trimmings, which are available at many supermarkets and take-out restaurants for around $50 to $75.
The AFBF survey was first conducted in 1986. While Farm Bureau does not make any scientific claims about the data, it is an informal gauge of price trends around the nation. Farm Bureau’s survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons....

Read more: Survey Says Cost of Thanksgiving Meal Drops


Road Closures for Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5K, 10K

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Porter Starke's 2013 Valparaiso Turkey Trot Thanksgiving Day 5K and 10K are today, and look for parts of some major roads to be closed for the event, including Campbell Street, Vale Park Road, Cumberland Drive, and Valparaiso Street. It's estimated more than 35-hundred walkers, runners and volunteers will be on the streets of Valpo. The races both begin right around 8 am and roads aren't expected to reopen until about 10 am. In particular Campbell Street is closed from Park up to the high school.
Here's a link to the routes: ...

Read more: Road Closures for Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 5K, 10K


Porter Co Salvation Army Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

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The Salvation Army of Porter County will host its annual free Community Thanksgiving Dinner today (Thursday, November 28th) from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at The Salvation Army Corps Community Center, 799 Capitol Road, South Haven, Indiana on Highway 6 (one block west of Highway 149).
The Salvation Army of Porter County says the event has become an annual tradition for those in the county to enjoy a meal and share a time of fellowship. The dinner is free of charge. Everyone is invited and this allows those without the means or a family to enjoy a “family style” Thanksgiving Dinner with neighbors and friends. Delivery for shut-ins is also available.
To support this dinner or volunteer for other holiday events, contact The Salvation Army at 219-762-9191 or visit this website -- . Other volunteer opportunities include ringing the bells, playing or singing at a Red Kettle site, helping with Angel Tree and Adoption toys, clothing, food drives and coat drives. ...

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Judge Announces Candidacy for Re-Election

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Judge Bradford
Republican Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford has announced he is running for re-election next year.  The 68-year-old Bradford, who's been on the bench since 1981, is the longest-seated judge in Porter County.  Bradford has presided over thousands of cases, including death penalty murder cases and multimillion dollar civil cases....

Read more: Judge Announces Candidacy for Re-Election


NIPSCO Marks Environmental Milestone

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Northern Indiana Public Service Company says they've reached an environmental milestone. The Merrillville-based utility giant says the first phase of an emissions-control system recently began operating at the Schahfer Generating Station in Wheatfield. The technology, known as a “scrubber” , is one of three going in at NIPSCO's coal-fired generating stations over the next couple years, an investment totaling $739 million, the company says. A second one at Schahfer is scheduled for completion next Fall and a third in 2016 at the Michigan City generating station.
Similar environmental upgrades have previously been completed on NIPSCO’s other generating units. After these latest investments, NIPSCO says they will have among the cleanest coal fleets in the state. The project, which began in 2011, required more than 1.7 million hours of work and employed more than 800 local craft laborers.
“Improving air quality is important, and we have made substantial progress in recent years by diversifying our supply mix and investing in other environmental improvements,” said Mike Finissi, chief operating officer for NIPSCO. “We worked diligently to ensure that we completed the project safely, on time and in the most cost-effective way for our customers.”
The project follows approval by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and a 2011 settlement with  the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Indiana under the Clean Air Act....

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Arrest Made in Death of Former Lake Co Woman

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Dawna Natzke
The boyfriend of a police dispatcher in Arkansas who grew up in Lake County, Indiana, was taken into custody in Colorado this week after an arrest warrant for first-degree murder was issued in connection with the death of 46-year-old Dawna Natzke. Police in Hot Springs Village say Natzke, a 1984 graduate of Lake Central High School, was reported missing two days before Christmas in 2011. Her body was found New Year's Eve that December in a national forest a few miles from where her burned-out car was located about a week earlier. Officials say Kevin Duck was the last person to see Natzke alive. Authorities say Duck was arrested without incident....

Read more: Arrest Made in Death of Former Lake Co Woman


New Text Service Preps Hoosier Students for College

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Bill Stanczykiecz r
If you are the parent of a college-bound kid, a new texting service will help you by helping your kid by receive timely texts to your high school age son or daughter. 
Bill Stancykiewicz president and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute (pictured above) says that an idea originally developed by a Lake County School counselor has been taken to the next level. 
Stancykiewicz  says the service, available from the site Trip To designed for students 13 years of age and older, their parents and their school counselors, sends out, "alerts...timely text messages related to the child's age and the child's grade of what they need to be doing that school year to be prepared to succeed in school and get the education they need after high school."
For example Stancykiewicz says, "if you are a sophomore you are receiving texts about the PSAT exam, if you are a junior you're being told about the deadlines to sign up for and you're reminded to start doing your college visits, if you're a senior you are reminded about the financial aid deadlines."
He adds, "it is very practical information into the hands of kids, their parents or counselors, on their smart phones and their cell phones."
Stancykiewicz says students can sign up directly from the phone by typing the number 69979, typing in the word "grad" (sans the quotation marks) and the high school graduation year of the student. 

Trip To Colleg website
Upon doing that he says the recipient will receive two to four timely text messages per month pertaining to their schooling situation.
For more information about Trip To College text alerts or, to sign up visit:

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Sexting Case Plea Agreement Rejected

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A proposed plea agreement for a former Portage Middle School teacher, who pleaded guilty on two-counts of felony child solicitation, was rejected today by a Porter County Circuit Judge. The plea deal called for 45 year old Bryan Tyman to spend six years on probation, the first of which on home detention and to register as a sex offender for ten-years. He would have also lost his Indiana teaching license. Tyman admitted in September to sending sexually-themed text messages to three female students from December 2011 to December 2012 and was originally scheduled to be sentenced earlier this month, but the judge postponed whether or not to accept the plea deal until today.
A trial for 45 year old Bryan Tyman has been scheduled for February 24th. ...

Read more: Sexting Case Plea Agreement Rejected


Santa to Arrive in LaPorte on Saturday

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santa in laporte
(Photo Courtesy of the LaPorte Police Department)
Children young and old will be welcoming Santa Claus' arrival to LaPorte on Saturday afternoon. The event, which features Christmas characters, horses and a parade with Santa arriving on a LaPorte fire engine. After the parade, children can visit with Santa at the chalet, peruse gift items at Santa's Village and enjoy train rides and a tree lighting, all at the depot location. LaPorte Police are encouraging motorists to drive with caution in the downtown area and to be alert for increased pedestrian traffic.
The parade will begin on Lincolnway at Teegarden Street, travel east on Lincolnway to Detroit Street, head north on Detroit Street to State Street, head west on State Street to Michigan Avenue, then head north on Michigan one block to end at Santa’s Chalet outside the historic La Porte train depot. For the duration of the parade, these streets will be temporarily closed to through traffic....

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Pence Wishes Hoosiers a Happy Thanksgiving, Hanukkah

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Gov Mike Pence
A Thanksgiving and Hanukkah message from Governor Mike Pence:
Thanksgiving is a time for us to come together with family and friends to remember the blessings of God.  Let us give thanks for the grace in our lives—our families, our friends and the brave men and women fighting for our freedoms. Let us give thanks that because of those men and women in uniform we still live in a land of freedom.
Hoosiers celebrate Thanksgiving in many different ways, but for most of us it culminates around a dinner table featuring turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. Some of my best memories growing up come from the clamor and commotion of a Thanksgiving kitchen at my house filled with laughter, the sound of the Macy's Parade on TV, and we kids trying our best to snatch all the olives and sweet pickles off the relish tray before the meal even started. 

This year is also special because Thanksgiving Day marks the once-in-a-lifetime moment when the holidays of Thanksgiving and the first day of Hanukkah merge.
It is more than fitting that they do. These two sacred dates are linked by more than the season; they share the obligation of gratitude, memory and faith. The word Hanukkah means “dedication.” 
On this Thanksgiving Day, with the lighting of the Hanukkah candles by many Hoosiers, let us not only express our gratitude for the blessings in our lives, but let us dedicate ourselves to helping others. There are still many Hoosiers who will be going without this Thanksgiving. 
It is said, “To whom much is given, much will be required.” 
This year, our family will start Thanksgiving Day by renewing a tradition we started last year of helping serve dinner to some of our neediest neighbors at the Mozel Sanders Annual Thanksgiving Dinner. The Mozel Sanders Foundation was founded in 1988 by Rev. Roosevelt Sanders and serves over 40,000 hot meals to Hoosiers across central Indiana on Thanksgiving Day.
This Thanksgiving, let us indeed, “give thanks to the Lord for He is good,” and, as Hoosiers always do, let us also reach out in a spirit of gratitude for our blessings to our neighbors in need during these still challenging times.
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah, Indiana.
Governor Mike Pence...

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Federal Disaster Relief Granted to 15 Illinois Counties

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Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced that federal disaster relief has been granted to 15 counties in his state hard hit by last weekend's deadly storm. At a gathering of residents, volunteers and first responders, the mayor of Washington, Illinois, Gary Manier says they are going to start rebuilding process this weekend.

The Chicago Blackhawks President and CEO John McDonough told a gathering of residents, first responders and volunteers in Washington "We're all in this together" and presented the mayor a check for 200-thousand dollars, for the Washington Tornado Relief Fund. ...

Read more: Federal Disaster Relief Granted to 15 Illinois Counties


Porter County Compost Sites Season Ends 12/7

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Next week is the final week of the season for Porter County's Boone Grove and Valparaiso compost sites. Donna Stuckert, with the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County, says the Valparaiso site will re-open with winter hours the first Saturday in January and will continue Saturday hours, from 9am to 2pm, through April, with the Boone Grove site remaining closed through April.
Stuckert reminds Porter County residents to bring in your old electronics, basically anything will an electric cord or that runs on batteries, to the Valparaiso site when it reopens in 2014.
Both the Valparaiso and Boone Grove sites are closed for the Thanksgiving holiday until Monday, December 2nd. For more information visit or click News Audio On Demand at ...

Read more: Porter County Compost Sites Season Ends 12/7


Authorities Collect Samples from Wheeler Area Fire

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An ongoing investigation continues into a structure fire in the Wheeler area Tuesday night that required fire crews from three counties to help fight the blaze. Union Volunteer Fire Department Chief Tim Beach tells the Region News Team a Portage Fire Department K-9 hit on three different spots at the log cabin style home on County Road 625 West that was being rebuilt after a fire there in 2011.  Beach says the ATF and State Fire Marshal gathered samples at the three spots for further testing. No injuries were reported and Beach says the house is a total loss. Crews arrived at the scene shortly after 10pm and left the scene just before 3am....

Read more: Authorities Collect Samples from Wheeler Area Fire


Salvation Army Celebrates Thanksgiving in East Chicago

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SA thanksgiving 1
(Photos Courtesy of the Salvation Army Lake County)
SA Thanksgiving 2
The Salvation Army of Lake County held their Thanksgiving dinner on Tuesday in East Chicago and served about 500 meals. The Salvation Army event was made possible with the help of Ameristar Casino, who provided all the food and Ameristar employees were on hand to serve the meals. East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland made a special appearance as a serving guest and students from Ivy Tech assisted with serving food, drinks and cleaning up to make room for more guests.
SA Thanksgiving 3

Meanwhile donations to their annual Angel Tree Program are being accepted now until December 13th. Individuals wishing to assist can find angel tree tags at their local Salvation Army or Wal-mart.  If a tag cannot be located, an item costing about $30 which is appropriate for a child ages 0-12 can be purchase.  All items can be dropped off at a local Salvation Army location or you may call to make other arrangements.
·        East Chicago, 513 W. Chicago Ave., East Chicago, IN 46312, 219-398-2939
·        Gary-Merrillville, 4800 Harrison, Gary, IN 46408, 219-887-6588
·        Hammond-Munster, 8225 Columbia Ave, Munster, IN 46321...

Read more: Salvation Army Celebrates Thanksgiving in East Chicago


NASBE to Facilitate Conversation with SBOE Members

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Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz on Tuesday agreed to have the National Association of State Boards of Education, or NASBE, facilitate a conversation among members of the Indiana State Board of Education, or SBOE, regarding roles, responsibilities and the operations of the Board. Earlier this month, Ritz adjourned a State Board of Education meeting after a resolution written by Governor's Center for Education and Career Innovation, which operates separately from the Department of Education, was proposed. Ritz claims the resolution would improperly inserted State Board of Education staff to take over the academic standards review process, which she called a violation of the law. ...

Read more: NASBE to Facilitate Conversation with SBOE Members


Local Pharmacy Tech Arrested for Stealing Pills

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portage pd
In Portage, police say a local pharmacy technician was arrested Tuesday after allegedly admitting to stealing about four-thousand hydrocodone and xanax pills, for her own use, since June. Portage Police say the 27-year-old woman said she would conceal about twenty-to-forty pills of varying strengths each shift she worked at the Walgreens store in the 59-hundred block of Highway 6. A manager told police the store up a surveillance camera after being alerted to shortages of the two medications. The woman told police she had multiple medical issues. The suspect was taken into custody on a D-Felony charge of Theft. ...

Read more: Local Pharmacy Tech Arrested for Stealing Pills


Chicago Looks to Ban Use of E-Cigarettes in Public

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Chicago could be the first city to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in public. ABC News reports the Chicago Health Commissioner says the battery operated smoking devices, containing nicotine and other chemicals are geared towards children, with flavors like gummy bear and cotton candy. He and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are calling for electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes to be banned in any place public where smoking is already banned. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the number of young people trying electronic cigarettes doubled between 2011 and 2012. A vote by the Chicago city council could come before the end of the year.
Members of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District Executive Board have voted to ban e-cigarettes on all trains. Smoking is already prohibited on all trains along the South Shore line. ...

Read more: Chicago Looks to Ban Use of E-Cigarettes in Public


Federal Judge Blocks New Indiana Abortion Law

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A federal judge in Indianapolis Tuesday temporarily blocked Indiana's new chemical abortion law. Legislation passed earlier this year mandated clinics that perform such abortions, like the Planned Parenthood in Lafayette, meet the same standards as those that perform surgical abortions.   U.S. District Court Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson granted a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of Senate Enrolled Act 371, which was scheduled to take effect the first of January.
As the lawyer for State government, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s Office defended SEA 371, which the Legislature passed in April, and Zoeller issued this statement:
 “This new law reflects the policy judgment of Indiana legislators elected by our citizens. The Court’s decision faulting the law for treating nonsurgical abortion clinics different from physicians’ offices must be thoroughly reviewed. Because of the narrow ruling, we will consult with our clients and decide how next to proceed in the case,” Zoeller said.

Read more: Federal Judge Blocks New Indiana Abortion Law


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Region News Team
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