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Judge Approves Taking Down Memorial for Fallen Officer before Trial

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Published reports say a memorial for a 25 year old corrections officer killed while jogging after being struck by a vehicle in March of 2012 will have to be taken down before the accused has his trial later this month. A Lake County judge approved the request and Jason Cozmanoff, who is charged with reckless homicide, failure stop after an accident resulting in death, four-counts of criminal recklessness, and three-counts of failure to stop for an accident resulting in serious bodily injury, in the death of Brittney Meux, who was running along West 93rd Avenue in Crown Point at the time of the incident. Three other corrections officers were also injured, and a jury trial is scheduled for June 24th.
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Read more: Judge Approves Taking Down Memorial for Fallen Officer before Trial

 

Afternoon House Fire in Highland

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highland house fire
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
In Highland, firefighters were called out to battle a blaze in the 31-hundred block of Highway Avenue. According to the Times, witnesses at the scene reported the homeowners were taken to the hospital, and a dog and cat were able to be saved. No further information is available at this time.
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Storm Blows Trampoline Through Crown Point Home

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The National Weather Service is inspecting the damage in Northwest Indiana after severe storms brought heavy rains and 70 mile an hour wind gusts. ABC's Ryan Burrow reports
for Marie Bates of Crown Point,  the storm cost her a living room window, among other things... "The neighbor's trampoline flew across their yard, and basically just ran right into our window." The window shattered... "We couldn't keep the water out. It drenched our couch, our coffee table, our carpet. There was glass everywhere. It soaked our TV." But nobody was hurt. She says her neighborhood also had downed trees and some damaged roofs.
To view the many pictures region residents have submitted to us, visit http://www.regionnewsteam.com/.
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Read more: Storm Blows Trampoline Through Crown Point Home

 

Warrant Sweep in Michigan City Nets 27 Individuals

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A warrant sweep in Michigan City Wednesday morning netted 27 individuals. Michigan City Police report a majority of charges were drug related, with a few for theft, and failing to appear in court. Also participating in the sweep were the Street Crimes Unit, Department Administration, Detective Bureau, Traffic Division, Patrol Division, United States Marshal’s Service, Indiana State Police, LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department, Trail Creek Police Department and the LaPorte County Prosecutor’s Office.
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Read more: Warrant Sweep in Michigan City Nets 27 Individuals

 

NIPSCO Cleaning Up On SR 2 in Lowell

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SR2 Lowell barricades 2 061313
(Barricaded area just east of the I-65 interchange on SR 2; photos Courtesy of Karl Berner)
NIPSCO Cleaning Up On SR 2 in Lowell
(Downed building in Crown Point, just south of 93rd St, right off SB I-65)
NIPSCO crews are busy cleaning up after Wednesday night's storms that blew through the region, which downed power lines and toppled huge transformer towers just east of I-65. Our own Karl Berner spoke to a contracted worker through NIPSCO this morning in Lowell about the State Road 2 roadblock that goes down to Clay Street, and who stated that once the wires have been picked up off the roadway it will be reopened, which said could happen sometime this afternoon. The straight-line winds took down four electrical towers which destroyed high-voltage 345-thousand K-V lines.
It was just two years ago, almost to the day, that Route 2 was shut down between Lowell and Hebron after powerful storms came through and toppled huge transformer towers just east of I-65. To view the many pictures submitted to us from Region residents of the storm, visit anyone of our websites at http://www.regionnewsteam.com.
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Read more: NIPSCO Cleaning Up On SR 2 in Lowell

 

SR 2 Work in LaPorte and St. Joseph Co Extends into Friday

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ST. JOSEPH/LAPORTE COUNTY, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announces lane restrictions in both directions on State Road 2, between Quince Road near South Bend and U.S. 20 near Rolling Prairie, will continue throughout the day, Friday, June 14th. Crews performing a chip seal and fog seal operation were delayed by weather this week, forcing the extension of the restrictions. One lane in each direction will be open tomorrow and a reduced speed limit of 45 mph will be in effect. Work is expected to be complete tomorrow evening..
The chip-seal process consists of distributing a liquid asphalt emulsion on the roadway and covering the liquid asphalt with crushed stone to provide a new wearing surface. Chip-sealing extends the life of a roadway by protecting it from moisture, ultra-violet degradation, and any other damaging exposures.
Drivers should exercise caution during these projects. Loose stone will be present on the roadway during the initial cure of the asphalt and can damage windshields and paint on vehicles that may be following each other too closely. It is recommended when travelling on a recently chip-sealed road to slow down and allow additional space between vehicles.
The fog seal is being applied on top of the chip-seal work. The fog seal is a light application of asphalt material that can lock in loose stone and help with dust problems. It also makes the road black, which makes pavement markings more visible.
INDOT reminds drivers to use caution and consider worker safety when driving through a construction zone. For the latest road closures and news from INDOT, like us at www.Facebook.com/INDOTNorthwest and follow us at www.Twitter.com/INDOTNorthwest.
You can find traffic restriction information at www.trafficwise.IN.gov.  Contact the LaPorte District toll free at 1-855-GO-INDOT.
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Read more: SR 2 Work in LaPorte and St. Joseph Co Extends into Friday

 

26 Firefighters Sworn In Wednesday in Gary

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Firefighter Swearing In 1
(Photo Courtesy of the City of Gary)
On Wednesday, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson swore in 26 firefighters in the Gary Council Chambers amongst a crowd of friends and family. Gary Fire Chief Teresa Everett, who was also in attendance, along with her senior staff, says over the next few weeks of training, the recruits will become full-fledged firefighters.
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Read more: 26 Firefighters Sworn In Wednesday in Gary

 

New State Poll Shows Hoosiers Support Immigration Reform

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.— As the Senate takes up debate this week on the bipartisan immigration reform bill, Harper Polling released the results of a new state poll showing overwhelming voter support for the legislation. During a press call today, state leaders and supporters of immigration reform discussed how the new poll indicates voters in Indiana are ready for a commonsense solution to the country’s broken immigration system that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.
The poll was sponsored by the Alliance for Citizenship, Partnership for a New American Economy and Republicans for Immigration Reform, three organizations who represent the broad support for immigration reform from across the political spectrum.
“The results of this statewide poll should be yet another indication to our elected officials in Washington that their constituents want, and are ready for, a real and lasting solution to mend our broken immigration system,” said Mayor Tom Henry of Fort Wayne. “Comprehensive immigration reform is one of the rare issues that is both good politics and good policy. There is bipartisan support for the Senate bill that includes a path to citizenship.”
According to the poll, voters in Indiana support the Gang of Eight bill by large margins. Moreover, the results show that there is a genuine imperative for Senators Dan Coats and Joe Donnelly to support the bill as constituents said they are more likely to vote for an elected official who votes for reform.
“The immigration reform bill currently in the U.S. Senate is a much needed common sense approach toward strengthening and reforming federal laws in a way that benefits our businesses,” said John Livengood, president the of Indiana Restaurant Association. “Indiana is best served by an economy that maximizes individual freedom and opportunity. Immigrants play an important economic role as workers and taxpayers.”
Highlights of the findings include:
·         69% of those polled said they strongly or somewhat support bipartisan immigration reform legislation being debated in Washington;

·         62% of those polled said they strongly or somewhat support a bill that includes a tough but fair path to citizenship;
·         47% of those polled are more likely to vote for an elected official who supports comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship. 

·         92% of those polled said it was very or somewhat important that the U.S. fix its immigration system this year.

·         Of those polled, 44% identified as Republicans, 33% as Democrats, and 23% as Independents.

Full results of the poll can be found here  https://www.dropbox.com/s/c5fma4mb1of7zfs/Indiana%20Immigration%20Poll%20Toplines.pdf.
The Interactive Voice Response (IVR) telephone surveys of likely voters were conducted between June 2-10, 2013.  The poll has a minimum sample size of 500 respondents and a margin of error of less than 5%.
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Read more: New State Poll Shows Hoosiers Support Immigration Reform

 

Storm Cleanup Continues

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WP 001294 WinCE
[Photo/Roxanne Collins]
Cleanup continues today around the Region after severe storms hit the area Wednesday night.
It was just two years ago, almost to the day, that Route 2 was shut down between Lowell and Hebron after powerful storms came through and toppled huge transformer towers just east of I-65.   Today, the Indiana Department of Transportation says State Road 2 between Hebron and Lowell could be closed up to three days because of downed power lines east of the interstate after last night's severe weather.   There is also a lot of debris in the Crown Point/Lakes of Four Seasons area. INDOT crews are patrolling state roads around the northwest Indiana district looking for high water and debris. Officials say it takes just inches to float a car and the results could be deadly – they're urging Region motorists to stay away from high water.
Today the National Weather Service was considering whether or not to visit the Lakes of the Four Seasons/Winfield area, to survey damage from last night's storm. A roof blew off a home in the 11-hundred block of Sunnyslope Drive. No injuries reported. A number of trees were down along 109th Street not far from the entrance to Lakes of the Four Seasons.
The National Weather Service in Northern Indiana is gathering reports on wind damage, in particular from an area from Medaryville in Pulaski County here in northwest Indiana all the way east to Ohio. Golf ball size hail was reported near Winamac around 7:30 Eastern Time last night, lasting for a couple minutes, with minor damage to vehicles, according to a spotter report.
NIPSCO crews have been working around the clock to restore electricity. Northern Indiana Public Service Company says as many as 44-thousand customers lost power system-wide. That number was down to about 98-hundred early today this morning, with one of the hardest hit areas being Lake County with outages due to broken poles, downed wire and other storm-related damage from strong winds, lightning, and some isolated hail. Hardest hit communities include Crown Point, Lowell, Gary and Merrillville, and the tri-town area of St. John/Schererville/dyer, also Hebron and Valparaiso in Porter County.
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Read more: Storm Cleanup Continues

 

Route 51 Blocked by Train

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Traffic-Advisory
In the Hobart/Merrillville area, Route 51 north of 73rd Avenue near Ainsworth was blocked by a train. Listeners have been using County Line and Randolph as alternates.  We got word the road may be blocked until about noon.
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Route 2 Could Be Closed for 3 Days

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The Indiana Department of Transportation says a section of State Road 2 could be closed for three days.  Lanes are blocked in both directions between I-65 in Lowell and US 231in Hebron with downed power lines after last night's storms. Tipsters have reported to us large towers being down along Route 2 just east of the I-65 interchange. 
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Read more: Route 2 Could Be Closed for 3 Days

   

44,000 Lose Power in Storms

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NIPSCO crews have been working around the clock to restore electricity to Region residents who lost power in last night's strong storms. Northern Indiana Public Service Company says as many as 44-thousand customers lost power system-wide. One of the hardest hit areas was Lake County, including areas of Crown Point, Lowell, Gary, and Merrillville with outages due to broken poles, downed wire and other storm-related damage from strong winds, lightning, and some isolated hail.  There are also outages in Hebron in Porter County; tipsters have reported to us that large towers were down on State Road 2 just east of the Interstate 65 interchange.
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Read more: 44,000 Lose Power in Storms

   

Severe Thunderstorms and High Winds Move Through Region

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Severe thunderstorms moved through the Region earlier this evening with high winds toppling several large trees and power lines throughout the Region. According to the National Weather Service , a trained spotter clocked 80 mph winds in Griffith around 6:45 p.m. Social media sites were reporting several large tree branches down in Crown point due to thunderstorm wind damage.

The Times is reporting heavy winds also reportedly blew the roof off of a home in the 1100 block of Sunnyslope Drive in Lakes of the Four Seasons in Crown Point. There were no reports of injuries. Additionally, Fire Chief Graham Federico of the Lakes of the Four Seasons Volunteer Fire Department told the Times that about a quarter mile of 109th Avenue west of the subdivision's entrance was blocked off due to trees that were blown down. That stretch of 109th Avenue will reportedly remain closed until Thursday morning according to the article.

Emergency Management officials also report heavy tree damage near 108th and 109th Avenues near Cline Avenue in Crown Point. In addition, high tension power lines closed State Road 2 east of I-65 as several high tension towers blew down in the storm.

NIPSCO reported several power outages affecting over 34,000 customers mainly in Crown Point, Schererville, Merrillville and Lowell areas with a little over 14,000 customers without power in Crown Point.

The severe storms are also blamed for a semi trailer that jackknifed while traveling westbound on the Borman (I-80/90) just east of Kennedy Avenue around 6:50 p.m. INDOT reported that the accident block three lanes between Cline Avenue and Kennedy Avenue.

The National Weather Service reports that 2 to 3 inches of rain has fallen in the Region already with more heavy rainfall expected in some areas. As a result a Flash Flood Warning remains in affect for persons in southern Lake, Newton and Jasper counties are under a flash flood warning until 2:30 a.m.
Time line and storm damage reported to the National Weather Service office:
0645 PM 1" HAIL GRIFFITH 41.52N 87.42W
REPORTED BY TRAINED SPOTTER
0645 PM HAIL 3 SSW MUNSTER 41.51N 87.52W

0653 PM TSTM WND DMG CROWN POINT 41.42N 87.36W
LARGE TREE BRANCHES DOWN. RELAYED VIA SOCIAL MEDIA
0655 PM TSTM WND DMG 6 SE MERRILLVILLE 41.42N 87.24W
SEVERAL TREES UPROOTED AND LARGE BRANCHES DOWN. RELAYED VIA SOCIAL MEDIA.
0720 PM TSTM WND GST 60mph VALPARAISO 41.48N 87.05W
LASTED ABOUT 5 MINUTES REPORTED BY STORM SPOTTER
0732 PM TSTM WND DMG CROWN POINT 41.42N 87.36W
HOUSE ROOF BLOWN OFF REPORTED BY AMATEUR RADIO OPERATOR
0805 PM HEAVY RAIN .94 inch CROWN POINT 41.44N 87.35W
0.34 inches in past 30 minutes
0822 PM TSTM WND GST 63 mph 2 SSW LOWELL 41.27N 87.43W
REPORTED BY THE NATONAL WEATHER SERVICE
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Read more: Severe Thunderstorms and High Winds Move Through Region

   

Highland PD: Residents Clear Grates From Storm Sewer

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Highland Police
The Highland Police Department says due to the heavy rains, high winds and lightning that are expected in the area soon, that if you have a grate over a storm sewer in front of your house, please make sure it is open and free of debris or leaves in order to prevent flooding. Your help is appreciated.
Meantime, keep apprised of weather updates, and be prepared to seek shelter if conditions worsen. Winds of up to 60 mph are possible, so make sure items in your yard are secured and pets are sheltered.
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Read more: Highland PD: Residents Clear Grates From Storm Sewer

   

IDOT Offers Severe WX Driving Tips

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SPRINGFIELD – The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) would like to warn of a potentially dangerous line of storms moving through the Midwest that could impact much of the state Wednesday evening and especially Northern Illinois counties.
The storms are expected to bring heavy rains, large hail and strong winds until midnight.  Flash flood watches are in place throughout portions of the state, with flooding possible in low-lying areas, river streams and viaducts.
IDOT is receiving regular updates from the National Weather Service (NWS) and is preparing all districts throughout the state for the possibility of severe weather.  IDOT will continue to coordinate with the NWS and other entities to provide information on pre-storm information as well as post storm response. 
Motorists are urged to take precautions on the roads, as storms could potentially impact driving conditions. 
Severe Weather Driving Tips:
·         Do not drive through flooded areas
  • Be aware of vehicles around you
  • High winds are most problematic for drivers of trucks, buses, recreational vehicles, campers, and drivers who are towing trailers
  • Turn on your headlights (low beams) and slow down
  • Allow extra distance for braking
·         If your car stalls in high water, do not attempt to push it out; seek higher ground

For a list of road closures, please visit http://www.dot.il.gov/road/roadClosures.htm. For real-time updates on today's storms, please visithttp://Ready.Illinois.gov /.
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Read more: IDOT Offers Severe WX Driving Tips

   

DOJ Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Settled Against Griffith

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The Justice Department issued a press release on Tuesday saying it has entered into a consent decree with Griffith that, if approved, will resolve allegations that the Griffith Police Department discriminated against Marlene Starcevich based on her sex, a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to the complaint, the department failed to assign Starcevich, a 22 year veteran, and the only female officer in the history of the Griffith Police Department, to a shift commander position because of her sex when a shift commander position became available in July of 2010. Starcevich has since been assigned to shift commander duties, and under the terms of the consent decree, the police department must also pay her five-thousand dollars in monetary relief, and the town must revise its equal employment opportunity polices to protect its employees from discrimination and conduct training of its personnel regarding these policies.
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Read more: DOJ Sex Discrimination Lawsuit Settled Against Griffith

   

Donnelly Votes Against Levin Amendment Which Passes 17-9

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Washington, D.C. –Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement after voting in the full Senate Armed Services Committee National Defense Authorization Act mark-up on the issue of sexual assault prevention in the military.  Senator Donnelly voted against Chairman Levin’s amendment that removed and replaced existing language sponsored by Senator Gillibrand regarding the chain of command.  Chairman Levin’s amendment passed the Committee, 17 to 9.
“Two weeks ago, I attended a Clothesline Project event at the AmVets in Indianapolis, where dozens of Hoosier survivors of military sexual assault ‘aired’ their stories on t-shirts strung around the room.  Hearing and reading their stories of violent assault, of a lack of justice served, or the retaliation they faced from fellow soldiers was heartbreaking.
“I have concluded that only a significant, serious change to the status quo will lead to a truly ‘zero tolerance’ policy.  Survivors of sexual assault need to regain trust in the United States Armed Forces.
“I am thankful for Chairman Levin’s work on this issue, and I think his proposal is strong and moves us significantly in the right direction.  It goes a long way toward dramatically improving the current system.  Our military and its leaders are working hard to end this scourge against our servicemembers.  However, in light of the seriousness and size of this problem, I supported Senator Gillibrand’s proposal in the mark.  I think this is the right way to go as we seek to enact a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault in the Armed Forces.”
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Read more: Donnelly Votes Against Levin Amendment Which Passes 17-9

   

Highland Woman Gets 2 Years in Prison for Assisting Killer

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A Highland woman today was sentenced to two years in prison for her role in the death of man her boyfriend killed in 2009. The Lake County Prosecutor's Office reports Andrea Michelle Elliott was charged with felony assisting a criminal, for helping Calvin Peacock bury the body of Kevin Sperry, and also harboring and concealing Peacock. Peacock was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Novermber 2012, after pleading guilty to killing Sperry with a pickaxe during an argument at Peacock's home in October of 2009.
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Read more: Highland Woman Gets 2 Years in Prison for Assisting Killer

   

IN General Assembly Overrides Veto of HEA 1546

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Members of the Indiana House of Representatives voted 68 to 23 today to override Governor Mike Pence's veto of House Enrolled Act 1546, a measure that retroactively legalizes a tax increase and the revenues collected in Pulaski and Jackson Counties. The Governor's Communications Director says Governor Pence regrets the veto was not upheld and stands by his decision, adding he believes that when Hoosiers pay taxes that are not owed, they should be offered relief. House Speaker Brian Bosma says while they appreciate the concerns expressed by the Governor, the issue demanded an immediate solution. According to the press release, the veto would have required over one-thousand employers in the two counties to make mid-year adjustments to their payrolls. In addition, since the two counties need to pay for the ongoing costs of operating the jail, losing funding could put jail operations in jeopardy.
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Read more: IN General Assembly Overrides Veto of HEA 1546

   

Body of Army Spc. AJ Roach Jr. to Return to NW IN Tomorrow

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AJ Roach Jr
(Photo Courtesy of obitsforlife.com)
The body of a 20 year old Army Specialist who was killed Friday in a crash while serving at Fort Campbell in Kentucky will be returned to Northwest Indiana tomorrow. Alan Jon (AJ) Roach Jr. of Nashville, Tennessee, formerly of Crown Point, is scheduled to arrive at Chicago's O'Hare Aiport around 8:30am. The Indiana Patriot Guard will then pick up the escort with Geisen's  Funeral Home at 61st Avenue and Broadway, scheduled around 10am, but the actual time of arrival could vary due to traffic. Geisen's Funeral Home says visitation for Roach will take place Thursday, from 2pm-8pm, with the funeral service scheduled for 10am Friday, at the funeral home in Crown Point.  Interment will be at St. Mary's Cemetery in Crown Point.
In memory of A.J., memorial donations may be given to: Wounded Warrior Project, P.O. Box 758517, Topeka, Kansas 66675.
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Read more: Body of Army Spc. AJ Roach Jr. to Return to NW IN Tomorrow

   

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