Hundreds Gather for Christmas Day Meal in Gary

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More than six-hundred people gathered for a Christmas Day meal in Gary Wednesday, and Gary State Representative Dr. Vernon Smith was among those serving. More than seventy volunteers helped put together the Annual Spirit of Christmas Dinner led by Dr. Smith in honor of his mother, the Reverend Julia Smith, who served as pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, and Patricia Tillotson, former educator in the Gary School System. Dr. Smith says the event is primarily for residents of Gary, Merrillville, Griffith, New Chicago, Lake Station, and Hobart, but anyone from Lake County or anywhere else is welcome. In particular, Dr. Smith says it's meant for those who are poor and hungry, senior citizens, and others, who will be away from family and friends, to attend. The dinner was held at the Ivy Tech Gary campus. Dr. Smith says dinner's popularity has grown dramatically since the first one was held in 1987. Representative Smith hosts the dinner with Joyce Washington-Price, Dwight Pointer, Dwight Williams, and Robin Bernal. ...

Read more: Hundreds Gather for Christmas Day Meal in Gary


Flags at Half-Staff in Illinois to Honor Slain Officer

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Flags are at half-staff in Illinois in memory of an off-duty Cook County Sheriff's officer killed last Friday. Authorities say 50-year-old investigator Cuauhtemoc Estrada was shot to death trying to stop two people from robbing his daughter and her boyfriend at gunpoint as they carried food from a car outside a family Christmas party at a VFW Hall in west suburban Bellwood. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has ordered flags be flown at half-staff from sunrise today through sunset this Saturday. Before joining the police force, Estrada was a Marine who served in Desert Storm. Two 22-year-old men face multiple charges including first-degree murder in the officer's death....

Read more: Flags at Half-Staff in Illinois to Honor Slain Officer


Highland Crews Respond to Two Fires

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Highland fire officials are trying to determine the cause of two fires. Highland Fire Chief Bill Timmer says a fire at an apartment building on Farmer Drive just off 45th Street left two families displaced during Christmas. Crews also responded to a fire at Sophia's House of Pancakes at Indianapolis Boulevard and Hart Road around 5:30 pm Christmas eve to put out a kitchen fire that reportedly caused significant damage inside. Officials say the restaurant had already closed for the holiday during the time of the fire. Several area departments assisted Highland. No reports of any injuries.  ...

Read more: Highland Crews Respond to Two Fires


Portage PD to Accept Officer Applications in January

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Applications to be a probationary patrol officer with the Portage Police Department will be available for a limited time next month starting January 6th. Chief Troy Williams says those interested can pick up an application packet at the police station beginning on that date.
Here is information recently posted by Chief Williams:
The Portage Police Department will be handing out applications for Probationary Patrol Officers beginning January 6th, 2014. I expect us to have openings to fill. The Portage Police Department is a proactive, innovative and respected Law Enforcement Agency with Divisions in Patrol, Detective, Training and Admin. We have Officers that specialize in SWAT, K9, Accident Reconstruction, Firearms Instructors, Field Training Officers, Hostage Negotiation, Emergency Vehicle Operations and we have assignments in the Porter County Drug Task Force, School Resource Officer, US Marshalls Task Force, Drug Enforcement Agency, and District 1 Task Force. If you are interested in becoming a Police Officer or know someone that is have the applicant come by the department and pick one up. The list is normally good for one year once completed. I'm hoping to hand out at least 200 applications to find the very best, dedicated, and service-oriented candidates out there. If you have any questions, just ask. Chief Troy Williams...

Read more: Portage PD to Accept Officer Applications in January


State Senator Plans to File 'Merry Christmas' Bill

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jim smith senator indiana
State Senator Jim Smith
An Indiana State Senator says he wants Hoosiers to be able to recognize Christmas in the classroom again. Charlestown Republican Jim Smith says he's filing legislation in the upcoming session of the General Assembly to protect public schools and teachers from being sued over Christmas activity. Smith says Christmas is under attack "in a way that no other cultural traditions are," and his "Merry Christmas" bill would allow Christmas traditions like putting up a Christmas tree as long as teachers recognize at least one other holiday celebration, such as Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. The Indiana legislative session reconvenes January 6th....

Read more: State Senator Plans to File 'Merry Christmas' Bill


New Lake County Surveyor to be Chosen Jan 4

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Lake County Democrats are scheduled to caucus Saturday January 4th to name a new Lake County surveyor. After more than four-decades working in politics in the Region, former surveyor George Van Til resigned from office early this month, the same day he entered a formal guilty plea in Hammond Federal Court to six counts of wire fraud after being accused of using county employees to do campaign work for him. State law prohibits public officials convicted of felonies from holding office....

Read more: New Lake County Surveyor to be Chosen Jan 4


Caucus Chooses New Clerk-Treasurer

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A caucus of Republican precinct committee members this week selected Stephanie Kuziela to replace Chesterton Clerk-Treasurer Gayle Polakowski effective the first of the year. After a quarter century of service to the town, Polakowski is resigning effective December 31st due to health reasons. Polakowski has been Clerk-Treasurer since 1988. Polakowski's term runs through the end of 2015. Kuziela is administrative assistant to the town manager, and has been helping to fill-in for Polakowski. ...

Read more: Caucus Chooses New Clerk-Treasurer


Highland Council Against Air Show Move

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Elected officials from another Lake County community have voiced displeasure over moving the South Shore Air Show out of the county, about fifty-miles south. The Highland Town Council this week voted unanimously to voice their disapproval over a plan to move the show from the shores of Lake Michigan in Gary, where the event has been held for more than a decade, to Fair Oaks Farms in Newton County this summer. Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr from Hammond has also been critical of the proposal....

Read more: Highland Council Against Air Show Move


Homicide Suspect Extradited

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Officials say a man whose parents were found dead in their Lowell-area home in October has been returned to northwest Indiana. Authorities say 34-year-old Thomas Snow has been extradited from Minnesota to Newton County on an armed robbery charge. Lake County Sheriff John Buncich says he is preparing to file charges in Lake County court against Snow in connection with the homicide deaths of 68-year-old retired Hammond schoolteacher Clifford Snow and his wife, 66-year-old Joyce Snow. ...

Read more: Homicide Suspect Extradited


Celebrate the New Year with a First Day Hike

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Indiana DNR
Family-friendly, guided hikes are scheduled to take place on January 1st at Indiana's state parks and reservoirs as part of a national program called “First Day Hikes”. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with America's State Parks, report First Day Hikes are a healthy way to start 2014 and a chance to get outside, exercise, enjoy nature and connect with friends. In northwest Indiana, an event will be held starting at 10am, at Indiana Dunes State Park at the nature center, where a moderate to rugged hike through the high dunes, including Mt. Tom, is scheduled. The event will conclude with a fire and refreshments. For more information on First Day events across Indiana, visit

Read more: Celebrate the New Year with a First Day Hike


New Scam Targeting Target Data Breach

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Target customers reeling from a data breach contend with a new scam. ABC News reports Target says scam artists are trying to take advantage of the data breach that exposed tens of millions of credit and debit card accounts. They masquerade as Target's corporate offices and send sham messages to affected customers, hoping to steal from them again. The retailer says it will post all official communications on its corporate website.
Meanwhile JP Morgan Chase is putting charge limits on cards that were used at Target stores during the massive security breach. The bank is raising those daily limits to a thousand dollars in purchases and 250 dollars from ATMs. ...

Read more: New Scam Targeting Target Data Breach


Gold Bar Discovered in a Red Kettle in Michigan City

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A one-ounce gold bar was found in a Salvation Army red kettle in Michigan City on Friday. Officials report the gold bar was discovered at the Walgreen's, at U-S 20 and U-S 421, wrapped in a one-dollar bill and has since been sold to a private buyer for 13-hundred dollars.
A one-ounce 1993 gold coin valued at approximately 13-hundred dollars was dropped into a Salvation Army red kettle on Friday at a Strack and Van Til in Cedar Lake and the Porter County Salvation Army reported receiving a gold coin in red kettle at the Strack and Van Til, on Calumet Avenue in Valparaiso, on Saturday. That coin was accompanied by a Christmas card with Santa Claus on front, signed "The Bright Metal Society", and identifying the gift as an 1883 Queen Victoria gold coin. ...

Read more: Gold Bar Discovered in a Red Kettle in Michigan City


Gary Mayor Announces Dollar Home Program Recipients

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Gary KFW with winners
(Photo Courtesy of Nick Russ. Mayor Freeman-Wilson, (left)
congratulates Dollar Home recipients Milton and Silvia Willis.)
In a press conference in Gary today six Gary residents out of 25 applicants were chosen to receive a new home for just a dollar. Silvia and Milton Willis were one of the couples chosen. Silvia Willis, a life long Gary resident, says after living in an apartment in the Miller area, this would be their first home. Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson announced the results of the Dollar Home Drawing and says the dollar home recipients must live in their homes a minimum of five years.
Gary Dollar home 2a
(Photo Courtesy of the City of Gary. The home that the Willis’ won
is located in Gary’s University Park area.)

Applicants for the lottery had to meet certain criteria such as employment and income in order to be considered for the lottery. A new lottery will be held next summer where more applicants are welcomed to apply. ...

Read more: Gary Mayor Announces Dollar Home Program Recipients


New Research About Food Allergies for Pregnant Women

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New concern about food allergies. Research out this week suggests eating peanuts or tree nuts during pregnancy cuts a child's risk of allergies, contradicting previous advice that pregnant woman should avoid nuts.  ABC News Senior Medical Contributor Doctor Jennifer Ashton says obstetricians, pediatricians are saying go ahead and in moderation eat these foods that are considered allergens. There's really no strict data at this point that says you should avoid them.
And what should do you if your child is allergic to nuts? Doctor Ashton says first of all see a pediatric allergist. Get your child tested. If they are diagnosed with a real food allergy make sure you have multiple Epipens all over various locations. Make sure people know how to use them and speak to your child's pediatrician about having other medications like steroids, Benadryl, antihistamines, on you or with that child because preparation is key. It can be very scary and to be clear, life threatening....

Read more: New Research About Food Allergies for Pregnant Women


Brrrr... A Very Frosty Christmas in the Region

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Chicagoland is bracing for its coldest Christmas in 9 years. Today's high is expected to only reach 17 degrees around the Region, but wind chills will make it feel like 12-below. Temps are expected to go up a little overnight tonight.  Here are some low temperature observations from the early morning hours courtesy of the National Weather Service Chicago:

NOUS43 KLOT 241538
940 AM CST TUE DEC 24 2013 /1040 AM EST TUE DEC 24 2013
-10     DEKALB IL
-9      PAW PAW IL
-6      ELGIN IL
-5      BATAVIA IL
-5      AURORA IL
-5      OTTAWA IL
-3      PONTIAC IL
-2      DWIGHT IL
-1      MIDWAY 3SW IL
0       WATSEKA IL
4       PAXTON IL

Read more: Brrrr... A Very Frosty Christmas in the Region


Holiday Greetings to the Region from Our Troops

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Below is a link to video holiday greetings from Hoosier members of the Armed Forces stationed all over the globe, a service provided by the Department of Defense. You can keep checking back for more videos, too.  - then click on Indiana (or any other state) for hometown holiday greetings
Check the site through this link, too, for greetings to Merrillville, Valparaiso, Gary, East Chicago and other cities and towns in Indiana:

Read more: Holiday Greetings to the Region from Our Troops


Gov Pence Urges Progress on Trade Agreements

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Indiana Governor Mike Pence has signed a bipartisan letter with the governors of 13 other states and Northern Mariana Islands urging President Obama and Congressional leaders to make progress on three trade agreements. Pence says the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the Trade in Services agreements have the potential to open up foreign markets to US exports and encourage further investment in the United States. The governor says in 2012, Indiana exports worldwide totaled 34-point-four billion dollars. That was a record high for the state, according to a report a few months ago from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.
“International trade is vital to our state’s economic growth and fiscal prosperity and leads to high-paying jobs for workers and increased opportunities for businesses and our agriculture industry,” said Governor Pence. “We benefit from increased market access, and I urge President Obama and Congress to move forward on these international trade agreements.”
The Indiana Governor's Office says the state's economic growth is closely linked to international trade, and provided the following info:
·         Approximately 95 percent of the world’s consumers reside outside of U.S. borders and so we benefit from increased market access.
·         Export-supported jobs linked to manufacturing account for an estimated 8.9 percent of Indiana’s total private-sector employment.  One-quarter (24.7 percent) of all manufacturing workers in Indiana depend on exports for their jobs.
·         In 2012, Indiana exported $34.4 billion to countries around the world....

Read more: Gov Pence Urges Progress on Trade Agreements


Whiting Elks Continue Christmas Day Tradition

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The holiday season is one of giving and that is what the Whiting Elks Lodge is doing this Christmas Day. As part of their annual tradition, they will host over 100 recruits from the Naval Station Great Lakes for Christmas dinner. Elks P.E.R. Helen Chapman says volunteers are needed and no amount of time is too small to donate. For more, listen at News Audio On Demand here on our website....

Read more: Whiting Elks Continue Christmas Day Tradition


Valparaiso City Council Says No to Gay Marriage Ban

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More and more municipalities are going on record as opposing a proposed constitutional ban on gay marriage in Indiana, and you can add Valparaiso to that list. The city council Monday night approved a resolution saying the primary purpose of Indiana's Constitution is to limit the power of government and protect citizens' rights. The vote was 5-0, with two council members, John Bowker and Jan Dick, absent. The Porter County Board of Commissioners also recently approved a similar resolution.
Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas and Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr are among a dozen mayors from around Indiana who earlier this month announced their opposition to the proposed amendment.
Mayor Costas says the amendment is unnecessary as Indiana law already defines a marriage as between a woman and a man. He also said it would hinder opportunities for economic growth....

Read more: Valparaiso City Council Says No to Gay Marriage Ban


NICTD: Power Outage Disrupts Some Service

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Officials say South Shore train service between Michigan City and South Bend was temporarily suspended this morning due to a NIPSCO power outage. Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District reports service between Michigan City and Chicago was running on schedule.  No information on what caused the outage.
For updates:


Read more: NICTD: Power Outage Disrupts Some Service


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Laura-WZVN Scott-WZVN Brent-WZVN
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team


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