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INDOT: Good WX Helping Construction Run Smoothly

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Good weather is being named a factor in construction projects moving along smoothly in the region this summer. INDOT Spokesman Matt Deitchley says the two bridge rehabilitation projects on I-94 are on schedule to be done by the end of the year. Another major project running on schedule is the new Nine-Span Bridge project in Lake County, where Deitchley says the beams are already set and they anticipate doing some bridge deck pouring in the next week or two.
Deitchley says while it may seem like there is more construction in the Region than usual, there isn't, just more taking place in major thorough-fares, which is why INDOT continues to stress patience when traveling through a construction zone and reminds motorists to slow down.
For the latest road closures and news from INDOT, like them 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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Extreme Heat Alert for South Shore

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The operators of the South Shore commuter rail line have announced an Extreme Heat Alert in effect from 12 noon until 8:01 pm today [Tue Aug 27 2013]. Riders may experience delays of 10-20 minutes. Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District [NICTD] says it is necessary to operate their trains at reduced speeds under these conditions.
www.nictd.com
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Largest Incoming VU Class in 36 Years

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The academic year at Valparaiso University kicks off today with VU's largest incoming class in 36 years – 11-hundred new undergrads, including over nine-hundred freshmen. Anticipated total enrollment is expected to be nearly 44-hundred, the largest in 32 years. The College of Engineering anticipates 141 new freshmen, the highest number in 35 years, and the College of Nursing expects to enroll 115 new freshmen, the highest in the history of the College. An estimated 94 incoming students will enroll in Christ College — The Honors College, the second highest in the College's 46-year history.
This year's incoming class is also one of the University's most diverse, with international students from 20 different countries and domestic students from 41 states.
"We're thrilled Valpo continues its trajectory of growth and attracts students of promise who will embody the Valpo spirit of leadership and service," said Michael Joseph, Vice President of Enrollment Management at Valparaiso University. "Not only are we growing in numbers, but we continue to recruit and enroll outstanding students who excel in and out of the classroom."
The academic year begins today [Tuesday, Aug. 27], with the 85th annual Opening Convocation. During the service, all new students will be invited to come forward and sign the student-initiated Honor Code: I have neither given or received, nor have I tolerated others’ use of unauthorized aid. The pledge signifies the students' commitment to academic integrity and to holding themselves and others to the highest standard.
In 1943, Valparaiso University student body president Barbara Bernthal led an initiative to institute a code of academic honor for all students. Seventy years later, the Honor Code is in tact as an expression of the Christian character of the University. It is led by a group of students known as the Honor Council, which strives to strengthen ethical self-discipline in students and to build pride in and the expectation of academic integrity for all Valpo students and faculty.
An independent Lutheran university, Valpo's incoming class is 25 percent Lutheran and 23 percent Catholic, with many other major religions represented.
Enrollment in the Graduate School and Law School at Valpo is expected to increase from last year as well, with 650 graduate students and 524 law students projected for the fall 2013 semester.
[Photo/VU]
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Mascot Hall of Fame Looks at Whiting

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Whiting... already home to the zany and world-renowned Pierogi Fest... may one day be hosting a Mascot Parade. Today's Times reports representatives from the online National Mascot Hall of Fame will visit the north Lake County city September 9th to discuss whether or not Whiting would be a good fit as a permanent brick-and-mortar home for the likes of names that include the Phillie Phanatic and San Diego Chicken. Mayor Joe Stahura has been already been wanting to build a local museum that would serve as a destination place and, among other things, house a history of Standard Oil, whose connection to the city goes back to the late 18-hundreds.
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Next of Kin Sought

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In Lake County, authorities are trying to find family members of a man who was found deceased last week. The Lake County Coroners office says William Wilson was pronounced dead Thursday after officers were asked to do a welfare check at the man's house in the 600 block of State Street in Hammond. Anyone with information is asked to call the Lake County Coroners office at 219-755-3265.
[Photo/provided]
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Fairgrounds Park Track Repaving

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In Valparaiso, the track at Fairgrounds Park was temporarily closed a week ago for repaving.. and those familiar with it will notice some other changes, too, when it reopens, according to Valpo Parks Director of Business Operations Christy Graf.  "They'll see a wider track, the track is expanding to an eight-foot wide track, "Graf said. "Another improvement will be a white line that will go along the edge of the track."  Graf says the three-quarter mile track, which is more than twenty years old, is used by hundreds of walkers and joggers every day. The closure was expected to take a total of ten days, depending on weather, and it's expected to reopen sometime next week.
www.valpoparks.org
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Personal Income Mired in the Past

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A new study says Lake County paychecks are stuck in 1995... La Porte County, 1985.. while some Hoosier income levels go back to the mid 1970s and 60s. Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research finds while the state has enjoyed small increases in the average standard of living over the last 50 years,most counties were 20 to 30 years behind the national average where per-capita income was concerned. Starke County was among two in 1975. Only three earned at 2010 levels – and one of those was here in the Region: Porter County, the other two being Hancock and Warrick. Two counties on the north side of Indianapolis – Boone and Hamilton --earned more than the national average. Jasper County paychecks were at the 1996 level, Newton at 1984.
The study also looks at how Indiana compares to the rest of the nation, finding that it ranked 40th among the states for 2010 per capita income, with the average resident bringing in $34,042 from all income sources. This is a decline from 1980, when Indiana ranked 30th, which was itself a decline from 1950, when Indiana ranked 21st in the nation.
http://cms.bsu.edu/academics/centersandinstitutes/bbr/currentstudiesandpublications
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Water Bill Issue in Chesterton

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Water bills for some Chesterton residents will look unusual for a couple of months. Town Councilwoman Sharon Darnell says a new system was recently put into place for measuring water usage by customers of Indiana American using a digital device while driving past the residence, but some of the meters are not registering according to a report in the Times today. Darnell said at the town council meeting last night that hundreds of people not billed for water use for the affected month will pay that amount together with the amount due in the next billing cycle.
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Shooting Incident Investigated

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Police in Gary are investigating the report of a 34-year-old woman shot while she was walking in the 200 block of East 45th Avenue. The victim said she heard shots fired around 2:30 Saturday morning, police say, then felt pain. She was transported to an area hospital.
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29 Arrested in Lake Co Patrols

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Lake County Sheriff John Buncich says expanded weekend patrols in north Lake County resulted in nearly thirty arrests, with fifteen of the individuals taken into custody on outstanding warrants. The intensified patrols targeting Gary, Hammond, East Chicago and Whiting also resulted in arrests for auto theft, drunk driving, drug offenses, and possession of a handgun without a permit, and one stolen vehicle was recovered after a short pursuit, the sheriff said.
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Two Men Dead in Separate Shootings in Hammond

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Two people are dead after separate shooting incidents in Hammond this afternoon. The Times reports around noon, a 20 year old man killed himself in the parking lot of McDonald's, in the 74-hundred block of Kennedy Avenue, and the death has been ruled a suicide.
Then around 4:30pm, one man was killed and another injured in a shooting in the 79-hundred block of Indianapolis Boulevard. According to the article, an alleged drug deal was taking place, when an argument began and a man in the backseat was shot in the head, and pushed out of the vehicle into the parking lot. The vehicle fled and was stopped by police on May Street, with one man taken into custody and the other transported for a gunshot wound to the leg, which reportedly occurred during the argument. No further information is available at this time.
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Proposal to Punish Those Not Following Recycle Grant Rules

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Officials with the Lake County Solid Waste Management District report they may start cracking down on cities and towns who fail to file reports on how their recycling grants are being used. While no action was taken at their recent meeting, they report the current process needs to be changed to make sure the grant money is being used for what it was intended. The plan being purposed would have the District notify cities and towns by email that haven't filed a report ten-days before the deadline and those who miss the deadline, or request an extension, to forfeit the money it received, which would then be pooled back and redistributed to the compliant communities. Those who don't cash a disbursement check with a certain time frame would also face losing grant money.
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Gary Mayor Helps Install Siding at Habitat Home

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(Photos Courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana)
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Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson recently helped with the final installation of vinyl siding for a Habit for Humanity home being constructed in the 600 block of Tyler Street in Gary. Habit for Humanity made the announcement today and stated the Mayor expressed interest in coming out to paint at the Tyler Street home, if her schedule allows it. The home is being built for a Habitat partner, Carla Keaton, who along with her daughter and grandchild, are planning on moving in sometime in October.
If you are interested in volunteering on a build, please contact Kristin Marlow-Kellemen, Volunteer Services Coordinator, at 219-923-7265 ext. 316 for more information. You can also visit the Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Indiana website at nwihabitat.org for the complete build schedule.
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US Marshals Fugitive of the Week: Cameron Taylor

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(Photos Courtesy of US Marshals Service)
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A 26 year old man wanted by authorities in Arizona for four-counts of attempted murder, and who has close ties to the Gary area, is this week's US Marshals Service, Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force “Fugitive of the Week”. Authorities report Cameron Taylor is one of the U-S Marshals Top 15 Most Wanted fugitives, and has been a fugitive since July of 2009. Taylor is described a violent member of the “Vista Bloods” gang, who is also wanted on four-counts of aggravated assault, endangerment, assisting a criminal street gang, and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Cameron Taylor is a black male, 5'11”, weighing 150 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes.  Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Cameron Leezell Taylor 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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Man Convicted of Child Molesting Sentenced to 8 Years

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(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
A 49 year old convicted last month by a jury for felony child molesting was sentenced to eight-years today. The Times reports Jackie Robson plans to appeal and claims he is the victim of false accusations. According to the article, Robson, of Porter County's Liberty Township, was accused of molesting three juvenile girls, between January 2008 through April 2012, but the jury only could reach a verdict on the one-count.
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Child Runs to Safety After Being Approached by Man

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Police in Michigan City say a ten-year old boy ran to a safe location and made contact with an adult after being approached by a white man with a beard, driving a van that was dark purple in color, who reportedly offered the boy a ride to school. Michigan City Police report the incident occurred at approximately 8:20am, in the area of Broadbrook and Dorchester, in the Village Green neighborhood, as the child was walking to Knapp Elementary School. Authorities say they are investigating this incident and stepping up patrols as a result around area schools.
The following safety tips are being sent to the parents and students:

·              Make sure children walk or bike to school (or any other location) with a friend.
·              Walk the route to and from school with your children, pointing out safe places to go if they’re being followed or need help.
·              Teach your children to ask permission before leaving home or playing outside. Make sure they check in with you if there is a change of plans.

·              Caution children never to accept a ride from anyone unless you have told them it is okay to do so in every instance.
·              Remind children that it is okay to say “no” to anything that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused – and that they should tell you if anything or anyone makes them feel this way.
·              Tell children that if anyone tries to grab them, they should make a scene and make every effort to get away by kicking, screaming, and making as much noise as possible.
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Teens Arrested for Truancy, One for Drug Possession

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Three juveniles were arrested for truancy Friday afternoon, and one faces additional charges of possession of marijuana and resisting law enforcement. LaPorte Police report they responded to a call of possible truancy of three teens just after 12:30pm, at Clark Field. Police say a 16 year old girl, and two 14 year old boys were found and after checking with school officials it was confirmed that all three were suppose to be in school. Authorities report officers could smell the odor of burnt marijuana coming from the teens, and during a search discovered a baggie of marijuana in the pocket of one of the boys, who was taking to the LaPorte County Juvenile Services Center. The other two teens were taken back to school.

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LaPorte County Sobriety Checkpoint Results

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The LaPorte County DUI Task Force and Indiana State Police conducted a sobriety checkpoint over the weekend, stopping 192 vehicles. Authorities report the checkpoint was conducted near the intersection of Johnson Road and County Road 400 North, a location selected after a review of alcohol related crash data, which resulted in five warnings and two non-custodial arrests, one for driving with a suspended license and the other for driving with no license. During the checkpoint, Michigan City Police and State Police conducted roving saturation patrols in the vicinity, which resulted in 13 citations, 22 warnings and one non-custodial arrest, for driving with a suspended license.

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Rail Safety Awareness Week in Indiana

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Governor Mike Pence has declared this week as Rail Safety Week in Indiana.

Indiana Operation Lifesaver says last year, there were 106 railroad crossing collisions resulting in 38 injuries and 17 fatalities in the state of Indiana, and eleven deaths involving people trespassing on train tracks. The group is working with Indiana State Police, INDOT and local law enforcement agencies, to raise awareness about the dangers of disregarding railroad crossing and trespassing laws. Indiana is ranked 4th nationally for railroad crossing collisions.

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First Year IU Student Dies From Injuries Sustained in Fall

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Police say a freshman at Indiana University in Bloomington who was set to start classes today died one day after suffering injuries in a fall down a basement staircase during a party at an off-campus house early Friday. Officials say the 19-year-old student from Zionsville was taken off life support Saturday morning. A spokesman for the university says other people at the house say they didn't realize the extent of her injuries. Campus police continue to investigate.

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