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IN Toll Road WB Calumet Exit Closed Tomorrow

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Starting tomorrow morning at 7am Central Time, contractors will begin painting the bridge over the westbound Calumet City exit on the Indiana Toll Road, causing the westbound exit ramp to be closed. Indiana Toll Road officials report traffic from the westbound exit ramp will be detoured through the make-up/break-up lot, which in-turn will restrict parking to tractor-trailers in that lot. The closure is scheduled to be lifted this Friday afternoon, but will begin again Monday, March 25th, through Thursday, March 28th.
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IUPUI Campus Remains on Full Alert

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Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis's twitter reports the campus remains on full-alert, as police reportedly continue to search for a suspicious individual. IUPUI send out a text message just before one this afternoon, stating a man with what maybe a gun, was seen near Barnhill and Vermont. All buildings remain on lockdown at last check, and ask people to avoid campus until further notice.
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Send-off for Crusaders; Milestone for Coaches Drew

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There's a send off 11:45 this morning at the ARC for the Valparaiso University Mens basketball team as they set off to participate in this year's NC-double-A tournament. The Crusaders take on Michigan State in the second round, with tip off this Thursday morning, 11:15 am Region time, at Auburn Hills, Michigan. When the team takes the court, it'll mark a first for a family to have a father and two sons coach teams that have made to the Big Dance. Former VU Head Coach Homer Drew took his Crusader teams into March Madness seven times... he's now followed by his son and current VU Head Coach Bryce Drew making his first tournament appearnce. Drew's son Scott has taken Baylor to the tourney three times in the past five years.
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Road Closure to Remove MRI

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City officials in Valparaiso have announced LaPorte Avenue will be closed for several hours Wednesday (March 20, 2013) to remove an MRI machine from the former Porter Hospital building.  Work is scheduled to begin at 7am and continue until 5 pm, though actual removal may take less time. The length of road affected is from Healthy Access to the parking lot east of the old hospital building.
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Merit Raises Cut for Top Purdue Staff

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Purdue President Mitch Daniels has announced the university is eliminating merit pay raises for all senior administrators, deans, and administrative and professional staff with salaries above $50,000 for the next two years – in a letter posted online he says that's expected to save five-million dollars, and part of the need to offset forty-million dollars in foregone revenue from a two-year tuition freeze, the first break in a 37-year string of increases.
Daniels says it's been too easy in higher education for institutions to decide first what they would like to spend, and then raise student bills to produce the funds. He says Purdue shouldn't forget the dollars they spend come for the most part from either a student’s family or a taxpayer.
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Veteran Times Correspondent Passes Away

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Longtime correspondent for the Times of Northwest Indiana, Steve Zabroski [zuh-BRAH-skee] of Hammond, has passed away after battling cancer. Zabroski's byline was seen in the newspaper for many years, covering Hammond, Whiting and East Chicago and the Region's business community, on and off, for 25 years. Zabroski was also the former sports editor of the Sun Journal in Lansing, and editor-in-chief of the Calumet Day in Whiting before coming to the Times. Zabroski was 55.
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GEICO Bringing 1,200 Jobs to Indiana

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Governor Mike Pence joined GEICO Chairman Tony Nicely Monday to announce the company's plans to locate a customer service center in Indianapolis, creating up to 1,200 new jobs by 2016. The Washington, D.C.-based auto insurer will invest millions of dollars to lease, renovate and equip 109,000 square feet of space at 101 W. 103rd St. in the Indianapolis metropolitan area. The new office, which is expected to be operational by late April, will house professional insurance agents, their training and supervisory teams and additional management and support staff.
Founded in 1936 as an automobile insurance company, GEICO (Government Employees Insurance Company) is the third largest private passenger auto insurer in the country, serving more than 11 million auto policies and covering more than 18 million vehicles (auto and motorcycle).
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O'Hare Named Most Stressful Airport

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A 2012 survey of business travelers has revealed the 16 most stressful airports in America, and Chicago's O'Hare -- the third busiest airport in the world -- topped the list.  Rounding out the top ten were Los Angeles International Airport, JFK International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, New York's LaGuardia, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, George Bush Houston Intercontinental Airport, San Francisco International Airport, and Miami International Airport. Fifty-six percent of those surveyed found the distance between gates and terminals to be one of O'Hare's biggest challenges. Factors determining an airport's stress level included confusing airport signage, poor service, and bathrooms that were either overcrowded or too small in number. Other problems included poor Wi-Fi coverage and too few electrical outlets. Dallas-Fort Worth was named the most hassle-free airport because of its clear signs, good Wi-Fi, and food options.  ...

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Griffith Facebook Suit Settled

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Documents in Hammond Federal Court show Griffith Public Schools have reached a settlement with regard to a lawsuit filed over Facebook comments. The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana sued the district contending the free speech rights of three eighth graders were violated when they were expelled over what they posted in February of 2012. The word "kill" was reportedly used in online conversation that the ACLU has said was meant in jest, and included smiley-face emoticons. The suit says school officials told the girls they had violated school policy against bullying, harassment and intimidation.
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Valpo Chamber is Chamber of the Year

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Top honors for the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce. The Valpo Chamber has won the 2013 Chamber of Commerce of the Year award from the Indiana Chamber Executives Association. The chamber, which has more than seven-hundred members, also won in 2005.   The award is based on the U.S. Chamber’s accreditation process for local chambers and highlights accomplishments in the areas of leadership/governance, finance, advocacy and membership development.
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DeMotte Man Killed in Lowell Crash

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A crash in Lowell claimed the life of a DeMotte man Monday afternoon. The Lake County Coroners office says 41-year-old Todd Middleton suffered blunt force trauma in a motor vehicle accident at 181st and Grand Boulevard and was pronounced dead shortly before 5 pm. Lake County Police and the Lowell Fire Department responded .
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Second Man Dies in Gary Shooting

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A second man has died in a Gary shooting Sunday afternoon. The Lake County Coroners office says 18-year-old Charles Wood of Gary died at a local hospital Monday afternoon after suffering a gunshot wound in the 25-hundred block of 13th Avenue in Gary. Coroners officials on Monday also released the identity of the first victim, 19-year-old Shaqwone Ham of Gary, whose body was reportedly found in shrubs nearby. Gary Police tell the Region News Team that minutes earlier they got a report of a 15-year-old boy being approached by four people and robbed in the street within about a half-mile of the shooting took place, but that it's too soon to say whether the incidents are related.
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Region Catholics Celebrate Papal Inauguration

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About 190-thousand Catholics in the region are celebrating the inauguration of Pope Francis the First this morning. Bishop Dale Melczek, of the Gary Diocese, says Pope Francis's style reflects that he is a “Pope of the People” and what type of impact that could have on Papal traditions.  Hundreds of thousands are expected for the unique international gathering. The faithful began arriving early around 6:30 this morning when the gates opened.
To hear our interview with Bishop Melczek visit Region Newsmakers On Demand here at our website.
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Porter Regional Hospital Now Affiliated with Loyola

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At an afternoon press conference Porter Regional Hospital made a partnership official. Porter Health Care System CEO Jonathon Nalli announced that the hospital has entered into a clinical affiliation agreement with Loyola University Health System. This affiliation will complement the quality care patients receive at Porter Regional Hospital by expanding access to academic research and clinical care in Northwest Indiana, according to the hospital.
Porter Health Care System CEO, Jonathon Nalli said, “We are increasing the depth of our clinical services through this affiliation. Both Porter Regional Hospital and Loyola University Health System are committed to furthering access to medical resources and patient-centered care.”
Loyola President and CEO Larry M. Goldberg said the affiliation will further Loyola's mission of broadening access to its medical services. “Now, patients from Northwest Indiana can retain the comforts and convenience of their home hospital, while benefiting from Loyola specialists and gaining access to our clinical trials.”
Loyola University Medical Center is a Chicago-based academic center. It has been named to a list of “100 Greta Hospitals” by Becker's Hospital Review and its cancer program has received an Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons. The American Stroke Association has awarded Loyola its Gold Performance Achievement Award for implementing a higher standard of stroke care.
Porter health Care System has two hospital campuses and seven outpatient facilities serving Porter, Lake, LaPorte, Starke, Newton and Jasper counties. With more than 350 physicians representing 50 medical specialties on the medical staff, Porter Health Care System is a leader in technology and overall patient care.
(provided by porterhealth.com)
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IN Senate Approves Tax Relief to LaPorte Homeowners

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Jim Arnold
INDIANAPOLIS—The Indiana Senate unanimously approved a measure on Monday sponsored by State Senator Jim Arnold (D-LaPorte) to provide LaPorte residents with a process for minimizing property tax debt.
“LaPorte has faced extremely adverse circumstances with property tax collection for many years,” Sen. Arnold said. “This bill will protect our Hoosier taxpayers and offer them an opportunity to decrease their financial burdens.”
House Bill (HB) 1261 would allow eligible LaPorte County homeowners to receive deductions in delayed property taxes for all assessment dates rather than a current assessment date. Current homeowners would qualify for the tax deductions if they lived on the property during the year of the delayed assessment date or did not qualify for a similar property deduction in another county for the same date.
The measure would authorize the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance to delay payments for the March 1, 2011 or January 15, 2013 assessment dates. In addition, payments could either be made in equal installments for at least six months or in one payment at the end of six months. Certain policies would apply to delayed property taxes, such as allowing payments through credit or debit card, exemptions from sales tax for one year, and two percent discounts for payments made within 30 days.
HB 1261 also provides that these claims be specified in a tax statement.
After unanimously passing out of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the full Senate by a vote of 47-0, HB 1261 will now return to the House of Representatives where the author of the bill will have the opportunity to consider changes made in the Senate.
Sen. Arnold represents District 8 in the Indiana State Senate which encompasses the majority of LaPorte County including the City of LaPorte and the eastern part of Michigan City. It also includes western St. Joseph County and Davis, Oregon, Washington, Center and Jackson townships in Starke County.
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Storm Sewer Work to Close Avondale in Valpo Tomorrow

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Storm sewer installation work in Valparaiso begins tomorrow morning which will require Avondale Avenue to be closed to through traffic, between Yellowstone Road and Kenwood Avenue, west of Forest Park. City officials say work is scheduled to begin at 7am, running until 5pm, this Tuesday through Friday, but that the roadway will be open to one-lane traffic outside those restriction hours. Motorists are asked to use Avondale Avenue to Kenwood Avenue to Harrison Blvd to Yellowstone Road as a detour.
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Repts: FB Legend One of Two Killed in SB Crash

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Various reports this afternoon say Oklahoma University football legend  Steve Davis was one of two people killed when a small jet crashed into a South Bend neighborhood Sunday. The other victim was identified as 58-year-old Wesley Brian Caves, the owner of a company that makes window film and paint overlay for cars in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Their names were released by the St. Joseph County Coroner today. The National Transportation Safety Board is holding a news conference this afternoon. The private jet hit some homes - causing a gas leak which led to evacuations.  The small fixed wing multi-engine plane crashed right into homes after the pilot of the plane reported loss of power and hydraulics. The crash happened near the South Bend regional airport. Two other people on the plane and one person on the ground were at last word still hospitalized.
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Hammond Teen Killed in Calumet City

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Officials say a 15-year-old Lake County girl was fatally shot in Calumet City. The teenager, reports say, identified as Ashaya Miller of Hammond, died Sunday night. No information was available from Calumet City Police at this hour.
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House GOP Texting Bill Updates

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Indiana House Republicans have announced they'll be sending out text message updates on certain hot topic bills as they make their way through the legislature – like the budget, online sales tax collection, drug testing, and various education matters. You can sign up at the Indiana House GOP website.
The caucus says it's an extension of transparency initiatives launched by Speaker Brian Bosma the past few years... which have included live streaming of House floor proceedings... making every house committee meeting available via the internet... and this past January, hosting the first ever “tweet seats” , believed to be a first for states, where seats were reserved for certain members of the public to tweet during the Governor's State of the State speech.
Here's the link : http://inhousegop.us
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Fatal Shooting, Robbery Investigated in Gary

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Police in Gary are investigating a fatal shooting and a robbery minutes apart, and within about a half-mile from each other Sunday afternoon. Authorities say it's too soon to say whether the incidents are related. Public Information Officer Corporal Gabrielle King says at about 10-minutes to 4, a 15-year-old boy reports he was walking along 15th Avenue by  Ellswoth Place when he was approached by four subjects, three male and one female, and robbed of his cellphone, and the suspects fled. Corporal King says about five minutes later officers responded to shots fired in the 13-hundred block of Ellswoth Place, where they found one person in the street wounded, and another person was found dead, reportedly in shrubs near a home. Anyone with information is asked to contact Gary Police Detective Lorenzo Davis.
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