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Meijer Opens Portage Store

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The ribbon was cut Thursday for a brand-new Meijer at US highway 6 and Willowcreek Road in Portage. The former “Super K” along US 6 has been transformed into a new 190-thousand square-foot supercenter now open for Region shoppers. The Grand Opening Celebration is this Sunday. 
Meijer also presented donations as part of the store's opening: five-thousand dollars for the Portage Police Department's K9 unit, two-thousand dollars to the Portage Township Food Pantry, and five-hundred dollars went to Hannah's Hope, a non-profit organization that tries to help children with special needs obtain various therapies and expensive medical equipment.
The Grand-Rapids based retailer, which opened its first store in 1934, opened two stores in northern Indiana Thursday – the other in Warsaw. Combined the company says the stores will create more than five-hundred new jobs. Meijer officials also say the new locations are built to “LEED”, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.
(https://www.meijer.com)
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License Branches Closed Today for Maintenance Work

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This reminder... All Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicle license branches are closed today while the Indiana Office of Technology staff completes a major maintenance project on the State's computer system. The myBMV.com website will also not be available to until the repairs are completed.  License branches will resume normal hours of operation the week of June 17th.

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Historic Lake Co. Courthouse Sustains Storm Damage

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The storm that battered Crown Point on Wednesday took a direct hit at the historic Lake Court House.
The force of the 100-mile-per-hour winds blew out windows in the Bell Tower, damaged sections of the clay tile roof, uprooted signs and downed tree limbs. Costs to repair the damage is estimated in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Marty Wheeler, president of the Lake Court House Foundation, is appealing to the community for help.

“The storm caused significant damage to the Court House and the surrounding grounds,” Wheeler said. “This is a historic building that receives no support except what we are able to get through donations from individuals and businesses throughout Lake County. We are asking anyone who has a few dollars they can spare to donate what they can to the Grand Old Lady. She has stood through many storms during her 135 years here but this one has certainly taken its toll.”

The Lake Court House Foundation Board has been hard at work drumming up support and donations for necessary repairs for the Court House and to create an endowment that would help when unexpected crises – such as storms – cause damage.

If you would like to help, please send donations to:Lake Court House Foundation, P.O. Box 556, Crown Point, IN 46308.

You may also donate online at https://www.lakecourthousefoundation.org.  For more information, please contact Wheeler at (219) 663-0660.
CP CH
(crownpoint.net)
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Afternoon Garage Fire in Gary

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Gary Garage fire
(Photo Courtesy of the Times)
Firefighters in Gary were called out to a garage fire this afternoon. Gary Police Public Information Officer Corp. Gabrielle King says the fire occurred near the corner of East 14th Avenue and Aetna Street in Gary. King says the homeowner was working in the garage prior to the fire. No further information is available at this time.
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Donnelly Supported Bill Passes Senate Armed Services Committee

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Washington, D.C. – Senator Joe Donnelly released the following statement after the Senate Armed Services Committee passed the Fiscal Year 2014 National Defense Authorization Act with bipartisan support, 23-3, last night.  Donnelly sponsored seven amendments that were included in the final bill and highlighted several additional aspects of the legislation of interest to Indiana. 
“With this bill, we make significant strides toward passing the Jacob Sexton Act, designed to better identify servicemembers struggling with mental health issues before it is too late, into law,” said Donnelly.  “I am pleased the Committee unanimously passed my amendment that would require a report from the Department of Defense on the feasibility of integrating more robust mental health screenings in servicemembers’ Periodic Health Assessments and soliciting a first-line supervisor’s input while protecting privacy.   We must get those who are struggling with mental health issues the help they need before they resort to taking their own life.
“The Committee also unanimously adopted my amendment detailing the Indiana National Guard experience in the cancellation of reserve component deployments.  The decision to off-ramp four National Guard units had wide-ranging impacts on over 1,000 Hoosier families, and it is not the way the Army should treat its soldiers.  My amendment added context to the requirement in the bill that the Secretary of Defense personally approve any decision to cancel the deployment of a reserve component unit within 180 days of its scheduled deployment date and to notify Congress of the decision.
“The Committee also considered amendments to better prevent military sexual assault, as the current system is clearly broken.  In speaking with survivors and learning more about the scope of this problem,  I concluded that only a significant, serious change to the status quo will lead to a truly ‘zero tolerance’ policy.  While I supported Senator Gillibrand’s proposal, which was replaced, I am pleased that the Committee passed a number of additional measures, including Chairman Levin’s proposal to better hold commanders accountable.  This is a start as we seek to enforce a zero tolerance policy for sexual assault in the Armed Forces.”

List of Donnelly Amendments Approved by the Committee:
1.       Suicide prevention program report language: The bipartisan amendment, co-sponsored by Senators Wicker (R-MS) and Blumenthal (D-CT) requires a DOD assessment of new tools that could be implemented to better screen servicemembers for mental health needs and suicidal risk factors.  Senator Donnelly has introduced legislation, S. 810, the Jacob Sexton Military Suicide Prevention Act of 2013,  that would implement a pilot program to integrate annual mental health assessments into a servicemember’s health assessment and to solicit the input of a first-line supervisor while protecting servicemembers’ privacy.  The design of this pilot program would benefit from further evaluation from military health care professionals, and the report required by Senator Donnelly’s amendment directs that evaluation to be completed no later than February 14, 2014, in time for consideration of the FY 2015 NDAA. 

2.       Off-ramp report language: Donnelly’s amendment details the experience of more than one thousand Indiana families affected by the off-ramping, or cancelled deployment, of four Indiana National Guard units, two of which were just six weeks away from deploying.  The Army replaced these units with active duty units and the decision had wide-ranging impacts on over 1,000 families’ health care, financial decision, educational plans, and housing. This is an addition to the underlying language that would require the Secretary of Defense to personally approve any decision to cancel the deployment of a reserve component unit within 180 days of its scheduled deployment date and to notify Congress of the decision.

3.       Coal-to-liquid technologies: Donnelly’s amendment, passed with bipartisan support during the full committee debate, requires a detailed spending plan on funding in the FY13 DOD Appropriations Act for research to reduce or capture coal-to-liquid carbon emissions. It also encourages DOD to work with the Department of Energy on the feasibility of potential technologies that could enable coal-to-liquid fuels to meet the emissions requirements for bulk purchases and requires DOD to provide a proposal to the Senate Armed Services Committee for joint research.

4.       C-130H engine upgrades: This Donnelly-supported amendment would encourage the Air Force to consider upgrades to the C-130H aircraft to meet fuel economy goals in a manner reflective of the location of these aircraft among active, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve units.  Fuel economy upgrades, including the replacement of engines for the C-130 legacy aircraft, will reduce long-term costs and improve aircraft reliability.  The C-130 legacy aircraft are primarily a National Guard asset, so improving the reliability of this aircraft can enhance Guard missions around the country.

5.       Meals, Ready-to-Eat (MRE) War Reserve report language: Donnelly’s amendment directs the Defense Logistics Agency to develop a comprehensive strategic plan that ensures an adequate MRE inventory, maintains the appropriate levels of MRE war reserves, and provides for a surge capability to support unforeseen contingencies. 

6.       Counter IED training: Donnelly’s amendment ensures that, despite the planned transition of the Joint Improvised Explosive Defeat Organization after 2014, counter-IED training would remain synchronized across the military departments and defense agencies.  This would ensure that the lessons we have learned in Afghanistan and Iraq are not lost.

7.       Incinerator technologies for burn pits: Donnelly’s amendment requires that the report requested by the Committee on the potential health effects on personnel in the vicinity of burn pits in Afghanistan also includes an assessment of incinerator technologies that are available to the DOD for use in Afghanistan, including any such incinerator technologies that could also contribute to energy production, and any other waste-to-energy strategies.  Several companies are working to develop waste disposal technology that could both dispose of trash in forward operating bases in a safe manner while also supplying energy to the base. 

Additional Provisions of Interest to Indiana

1.       BRAC: The bill would not authorize a new round of defense base closures and realignments in 2015.  It would require a report on the costs and savings associated with the 2005 round joint basing decisions.  The bill supports closing overseas bases before any bases in the Unites States would be closed.

2.       Biofuels: The bill supports continued DOD investment in biofuels to diversify energy and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

3.       East Coast Ballistic Missile Defense: The bill would authorize deployment of a radar to defend the East Coast from missile threats from the Middle East, enhancing the capability of the current system to defend the entire United States.

4.       MILCON: The bill would fund an Air National Guard MILCON project at $7.3 million at Hulman Regional Airport.
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Read more: Donnelly Supported Bill Passes Senate Armed Services Committee

 

US Marshals Fugitive of the Week: Warren Hunter

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Warren Hunter
(Photo Courtesy of the US Marshals, Great Lakes Task Force)
A 31 year old man charged in U-S District Court last month with violations of supervision, stemming from a weapons offense, has been declared the “fugitive of the week” by the U-S Marshals Service, Great Lakes Task Force. Warren Hunter, aka “Lil Perp” is a black male, 5' 4”, weighing 125 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes, and was last known to reside in the 68-hundred block of Magoun Street, in Hammond. Authorities say Hunter was also charged last month by the Orland Park, Illinois, Police Department with burglary. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Warren Hunter is asked to contact investigators, by calling toll-free (888) 805-6119 or by texting “capture” to Tip411 (847411). All tipsters will remain anonymous.
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Convicted Felon Charged with Possession of Illegal Weapon

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khristopher buchanan
(Photos Courtesy of the Cook Co Sheriff's Office)
harveygun
A 30 year old Harvey man was arrested Thursday after the Cook County Sheriff's Police Gun Suppression Team found a sawed-off shotgun in his home while executing a search warrant. The Sheriff's Office reports they had received reports that Kristopher Buchanan maybe illegally in possession of firearms, which he is prohibited from possessing due to his multiple felony convictions for possession of a controlled substance.
The Sheriff's Gun Suppression Team formed in February, and has since recovered 156 guns and 137 revoked Firearm Owner's Identification cards, as well as resolving 90 Firearm Owner's Identification card cases.
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Manfield Arrested in South Bend

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Chris Mansfield
(Photo Courtesy of MC PD)
 Authorities say a 19 year old man wanted in connection with the death of a retired Michigan City school teacher last week has been arrested. Michigan City Police report Chris Mansfield was apprehended Thursday at a home in South Bend. The body of Henry Whitten was discovered by officers on the morning of June 6th during a welfare check at his home in the 500 block of East 8th Street.
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Region Soldier Prepares for Redeployment

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http://www.dvidshub.net/video/293461/staff-sgt-rachel-copeland#.Ubsr4Ni1-8A
Staff Sgt. Rachel Copeland from Hammond, Indiana is gearing up for her third deployment but she is still as motivated as she was for her first deployment. Let's take a look at a prep day leading up to her departure.  Courtesy of DVIDS – Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System
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Flag Day Ceremony in Munster

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Flag Day activities Friday, June 14 begin at about 4 p.m. when Munster Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2697 and Munster American Legion Post 16 will retire used American flags. The flag retirement will be conducted on the south side of the Veterans Memorial grounds, near the Viet Nam venue.
Cannoneers of VFW Post 2697 will fire a “Salute to the Union” at 6 p.m. Fifty rounds will be fired along the north shore of the lake, near the World War I venue.
At 7 p.m., the Hammond Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Lodge 485 will conduct a special Flag Day ceremony in the north circle, near the flags. Scout Troop #206 will assist the Lodge with the commemoration.
The 6.5 acre Memorial has become a major tourist attraction, and commemorates the sacrifices and achievements of veterans of major military conflicts that shaped the 20th Century. The idea for the memorial was developed in the late 1990s when a group of local veterans came together to talk about creating a place that honors the nation’s war heroes. The final design encompasses three main goals: to remember, to educate and to challenge.
The park is located at 9710 Calumet Avenue in Munster (just 2.5 miles south of I80/94) on the west side of Calumet Avenue, just north of Sheffield Ave. It is open dawn to dusk and the Memorial Day activities will be held rain or shine. Admission is free. To learn more, visit www.CommunityVeteransMemorial.org.
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Power Restored to Most After Storms

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winfield storm

Storm cleanup continues in the Region.  Northern Indiana Public Service Company says by Thursday evening, NIPSCO field personnel had restored more than 95 percent of the more than 45,000 total electric customers system-wide who experienced power outages as a result of Wednesday evening’s severe weather. As of this morning that number was down to 500, with about half of those in Crown Point, one of the harder hit areas.   NIPSCO and contracted crews will continue working around the clock to restore as many customers as possible today.   NIPSCO says restoration for most of the remaining customers is expected by late Friday evening, but a few individual customer outages may extend into early Saturday due to the extensive system repairs needed
Photo: Winfield just east of Lakes of the Four Seasons [Sent in by Aaron Coates]
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License Branches Closed Sat Jun 15

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This reminder... All Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicle license branches will be closed on Saturday, June 15 while the Indiana Office of Technology staff completes a major maintenance project on the State's computer system. The myBMV.com website will also not be available to customers from 6:00 a.m. Eastern Time Saturday June 15 until the repairs are completed. License branches will resume normal hours of operation the week of June 17.
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Services for Region Soldier

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spc roach
Funeral services are in Crown Point this morning for a 20 year old US Army Specialist and Region native who was killed last Friday in a motorcycle crash while stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Alan Jon “A.J” Roach, Jr., was from Crown Point. Family members say July 4th would have been his second anniversary serving in the military. His body was returned to northwest Indiana on Thursday escorted by Crown Point Police and the Indiana Patriot Guard.  Geisen Funeral Home says the funeral service is scheduled for 10am Friday June 14, at the funeral home in Crown Point, with Pastor Mark Wilkins officiating.  Interment will be at St. Mary's Cemetery in Crown Point.
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Meijer Opens Portage Store

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The ribbon was cut Thursday for a brand-new Meijer at 6 and Willowcreek in Portage. The former “Super K” along US 6 has been transformed into a new 190-thousand square-foot supercenter now open for Region shoppers. The Grand Opening Celebration is this Sunday.  Meijer also presented donations as part of the store's opening: five-thousand dollars for the Portage Police Department's K9 unit, two-thousand dollars to the Portage Township Food Pantry, and five-hundred dollars went to Hannah's Hope, a non-profit organization that tries to help children with special needs obtain various therapies and expensive medical equipment.
The Grand-Rapids based retailer, which opened its first store in 1934, opened two stores in northern Indiana Thursday – the other in Warsaw. Combined the company says the stores will create more than five-hundred new jobs. Meijer officials also say the new locations are built to “LEED”, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.
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State Road 2 Reopens

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Traffic-Advisory
State Road 2 between Lowell and Hebron has reopened...  it was thought the highway might have to closed into the weekend after power line damage during Wednesday night's storms.  It was just a couple years ago, almost to the day, that Route 2 was shut down between Hebron and Lowell after powerful storms came through and toppled huge transformer towers just east of I-65.
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Summer Safety Fest 2013 Tomorrow at Hawthorne Park

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Summer Safety Fest is this Friday, June 14 from 5:30-8:30 pm.  This free family-focused event is designed for children of all ages, and features interactive activities and demonstrations led by Porter Police and Porter Fire Search & Rescue.
A Positive Approach to Teen Health will be presenting their 'Be the Exception' interactive sessions. These sessions are designed to be age appropriate and parents are strongly encouraged to attend.  The first session is designed for children 5-8 years of age and will run from 6:00-6:30 pm.  The second session is for children 9-12 years of age and will run from 6:45-7:15 pm. The last session is for t'weens 13-15 years of age and will run from 7:30-8:00 pm.  'Be the Exception' sessions will be held in the community building. 
Back by popular demand are Harley the Porter Fire, Search & Rescue dog and Kilo the Porter Police dog both will provide demonstrations throughout the event.
Other interactive activities include a smoke house, a search and rescue diver in a dive tank, 'Ready, Aim, Put Out the Fire' or enjoy free face painting.  The police will be providing Children's Finger Printing & ID Cards and an exhibit of illicit drug samples to help kids 'D.A.R.E. to say NO!'   Or you can try to dunk a police officer in the dunk tank! 
New partners and activities include 'Stranger Danger' presented by James O'Connor Martial Arts, tours of ambulances and tactical emergency response vehicles provided by Superior Ambulance and Prompt Ambulance.
The always popular 'Jaws of Life' car extrication will be our evening finale.
Dinner or snacks can be purchased on-site from Dori's Food Stuff featuring sandwiches, fries and Elephant Ears.  
Summer Safety Fest is co-chaired by Sophia Keating, age 11 and Eric Ailes, age 11 and is generously sponsored by TSLRefrigeration and the Town of Porter. 
For additional information please contact Brian Bugajski, Director of Parks at 921-1687 or  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Like us on Facebook for future invitations (www.facebook.com/porterparks).
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Hammond, S Shore CVA Partner to Collect Data at FOTL

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FOTL Press Conference 6 13
(Photo Courtesy of the South Shore CVA)
A new partnership was announced Thursday morning between the City of Hammond and the South Shore CVA. The two organizations will work together to collect demographic data from attendees during the 10th annual, five day, Festival of the Lakes, July 17th through the 21st,‎ at Wolf Lake Memorial Park in Hammond. South Shore CVA President and CEO Speros Batistatos says the information will be gathered each night of the festival, and the goal is to allow the city to make better decisions regarding allocation of sponsorships, advertisement, and how funds are spent on musical entertainment.
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Donnelly Supports Designating June as PTSD Awareness Month

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Washington, D.C. -- Senator Joe Donnelly co-sponsored a resolution designating June 2013 as National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month.  This designation would help increase awareness of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its associated health risks.  The resolution, S. Res. 169, passed the Senate yesterday.
“The first step in addressing the mental health needs of our servicemembers and veterans is to talk about the challenges they face,” said Donnelly. “This resolution will bring greater attention to post-traumatic stress disorder and to the resources available to respond to their mental health needs.  Our troops have served with honor and distinction, and it is both our challenge and our priority to effectively respond to problems resulting from their military service.”
Senator Donnelly joined Sen. Heitkamp and Sen. Boozman to help introduce the bipartisan resolution.  It is the first time the Senate has designated a full month for national PTSD awareness.  In 2011 and 2012, the Senate passed S. Res. 202 and S. Res. 455, designating one day in June as PTSD Awareness Day.
One of Senator Donnelly’s priorities is to improve the mental health resources available to members of the military and veterans in order to better prevent suicide.  Donnelly is working to expand and improve upon existing military suicide prevention efforts, as we lost more servicemembers to suicide (349) than in combat in Afghanistan (295) last year.   Donnelly is dedicated to working with his colleagues to ensure the psychological needs of servicemembers and veterans are adequately addressed, that they are screened for risk of suicide, and that they have access to resources such as counseling and suicide prevention without fear of negative effects on their career.
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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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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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