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Obama Meeting with Officials to Fix IRS Issue

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ABC News reports that one day after the official report criticizing IRS operations, President Obama is considering ways to fix what he considers bad behavior. One question to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney really cut to the heart of the issue - President Obama has argued for years in favor of bigger government. Carney answered that improper behavior has to be held accountable. The President is meeting this afternoon with officials from the Dept of the Treasury on how to fix the IRS.
The Times reports Governor Mike Pence, while still serving in the US House of Representatives, sponsored shield legislation, the Free Flow of Information Act, which would have prohibited government agencies from obtaining the telephone records of reporters from communication companies without a federal judge's approval. That legislation though was derailed after a 2009 proposal demanding an exception for leaks that could harm nation security.
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Power Restored to Most Customers After Valpo Pole Fire

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Valparaiso Police were still advising motorists, at last check, to avoid Calumet Avenue, north of Glendale, between Albert and Wall Streets, as NIPSCO crews were replacing utility poles and wires affected by a pole fire that occurred around noon today. Traffic lights were out at the busy five-points intersection, which is under construction, but tipsters reported just before 3pm that the lights were back on. NIPSCO reports 15-hundred customers were initially without power, but at last check, all but 100 have had their power restored, although no restoration time has been made available.
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Inaugural Cook County Vs Russia Inmate Chess Tourney

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(Photos Courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff's Office)
Chess1
Ten Cook County Jail detainees squared off against ten Russian inmates in a chess tournament today through a secure internet line. Sheriff Tom Dart says there were two rounds played by each player on each team, and when it was over the final score was 14 and a half to five and a half in favor of Russia. Sheriff Dart launched the jail's chess program in April of 2012, which was expanded in December to permit detainees to participate in online chess tournaments. The Sheriff says today's successful competition is a tribute to Dr. Korenman, who along with the Sheriff, and Anatoly Karpov, a legendary Russian chess grandmaster and former world champion, came up with the idea for today's international tournament. To date, approximately 600 Cook County Jail detainees have participated in the jail's chess program, of which the goal is to instill the importance of patience, diligence, and critical thought in detainees....

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Valparaiso Police Remember Fallen Officers

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(Photos Courtesy of the Valparaiso Police Department)
Valparaiso Police today remembered fallen officers during a ceremony at the police department. Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas thanked the officers for their service and Chief Michael Brickner spoke of National Peace Officers Memorial Day today and the seven days including today that make up National Police Week. Officers placed a carnation at the base of a memorial wreath in remembrance of the 120 federal, state and local law enforcement officers who lost their lives in 2012 serving in their communities across America.
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Two Day Closure of SR 16 Near Brook Starts Tomorrow

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A sealing operation will have a portion of State Road 16 closed to motorists for two days starting tomorrow in Jasper and Newton Counties. The Indiana Department of Transportation reports State Road 16, between U-S 231 and Hess Street, in Brook, will be closed Thursday and Friday, weather permitting, so crews can fog-seal the roadway. 
A detour will take westbound SR 16 traffic south on U.S. 231, west on U.S. 24, north on U.S. 41, and back to SR 16. Eastbound SR 16 traffic will travel south on U.S. 41, east on U.S. 24, north on U.S. 231, and back to SR 16.
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.
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Read more: Two Day Closure of SR 16 Near Brook Starts Tomorrow

 

Valpo Police: Avoid Calumet Ave Today

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Valparaiso Police say NIPSCO crews advise Calumet Avenue north of Glendale, between Albert and Wall Streets, will be shut down for the rest of the afternoon (at least four hours) as crews replace utility poles and wires affected by a pole fire around noon today. Also, the traffic lights are out at the very busy five-points intersection, which is currently under construction for the new roundabout, with part of Roosevelt Road closed for that project. Officials also report sporadic, scattered power outages in the immediate area. Valparaiso Police urge motorists to avoid Calumet Avenue this afternoon.
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WB Borman I-80/94 Backing Up Due to Crash

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Traffic tipsters are reporting a three car wreck that is backing up traffic westbound on the Borman at this time, with two of the vehicles involved reportedly spun around in the opposite direction.  At one time two left lanes were reportedly closed.  INDOT is reporting all westbound lanes I-80/94 near I-65 are moving slowly due to the crash that has been moved to the inside median.
crash WB Borman 80-94  05-15-13
All lanes westbound Borman I-80/94 from I-65 to Broadway is backed up due to reported three car crash near mile 10.9
(photo from INDOT)
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Calumet Ave Closed by Pole Fire

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Traffic-Alert
Valparaiso Police say Calumet Avenue is shut down in both directions from Albert to Wall Street, due to utility pole issues... we're told the top of one pole is on fire, and live wires are down.... NIPSCO crews are on scene, it's unknown how long it will take to reopen the road. Scattered power outages are affecting the area as well... some buildings reportedly have partial power at this time.
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Home Burglary in Portage

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Police in Portage say they are investigating a home burglary early this morning in the 66-hundred block of Fairview. Officials say around 2:30 am a resident heard a noise, went outside and discovered a basement window had been broken out, then went back inside and heard a man inside a bedroom. The man is believed to have gone out through a basement window, and was reportedly seen jumping a fence and running east. A K-9 was brought in to search the area, but a suspect wasn't found.
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Environmental Summit in the Region

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A two-day summit on the environment continues today at Marquette Park in Gary. The Calumet Summit is coordinated by the Calumet Stewardship Initiative, a coalition of more than forty member groups, including local, state and federal agencies, faith-based and volunteer groups, and large conservation organizations. Organizers say the summit is for those working to “advance environmental quality in the bi-state Calumet region”. For more info on the Calumet Stewardship Initiative, visit http://www.calumetstewardship.org/
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Moment of Silence at National Lakeshore

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NPS Rangers at Indiana Dunes1 WinCE
National Park Service rangers at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore observe Peace Officers' Memorial Day a moment of silence for the thirty-nine National Park Service law enforcement personnel who have died in the line of duty. A formal Department of the Interior Law Enforcement Officer Memorial Ceremony was held earlier this week in Washington, D.C. National Park Service law enforcement rangers attend the same Federal Law Enforcement academy in Georgia as most federal agents. Rangers are responsible for protecting the 15,000 acres and 2 million visitors of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
[Photo provided/National Park Service]
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Flags at Half-Staff

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Governor Mike Pence is directing flags at state facilities statewide be flown at half-staff today (Wednesday May 15) in honor of Peace Officers Memorial Day, which honors federal, state and local officers killed or disabled in the line of duty. President Obama signed a proclamation ordering flags nationwide to be flown at half-staff on Wednesday, May 15. Flags should remain at half-staff until sunrise on Thursday, May 16.  Governor Pence also asks businesses and residents to lower their flags to half-staff to pay tribute to the brave men and women in law enforcement across Indiana and our nation.
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Man Dies After Fire

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Authorities say an 86-year-old Lowell man died after accidentally setting himself on fire while smoking a pipe. Officials say James Johnson died at the University of Chicago Medical Center late Monday night. Cause of death was pending an autopsy. Family members say the man had gone into the garage to smoke because of the strong winds Monday afternoon.
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No Bull Shark in Wabash

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The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says the report of a bull shark in the Wabash River is... not true. A photo that got posted on WTHI-TV's Facebook page claimed the picture was taken at a Terre Haute park... but one of the commenters wrote it was prank on someone that went too far. Scientists note that the bull shark can swim quite a distance into fresh water.
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Hobart Hopes for Historic Designation

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One of the oldest downtowns in the Region is hoping to land a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. Last night, city redevelopment officials in Hobart held an informational meeting for residents and those who own property in downtown Hobart to talk about getting the nomination process started. Making the list would make certain grants available for restoration. More than fifty commercial buildings on Main, Third, and Center streets would make up the designated district if approved.
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NTSB Wants Legal Limit Lowered

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Local officials around the country are sounding their support a National Transportation Safety Board recommendation to lower the legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers. The NTSB wants it changed to point-0-5 claiming the move could save hundreds of lives every year. But Sarah Longwell, Managing Director of the American Beverage Institute, says most DUII accidents not caused by "moderate" drinkers:  The NTSB is calling on the federal government to give states incentives for lowering the legal blood alcohol content. In most of Europe the limit is currently at point-oh-five, in some countries as low as point-oh-two. Indiana lowered its legal limit from point-one-oh to point-oh-eight twelve years ago, after more than a decade's worth of legislative attempts to do so and also as the federal government was threatening to withhold millions in highway funds if it didn't happen. The NTSB also wants stiffer penalties for first time and repeat offenders.
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Donnelly Amendments Pass Senate Ag's 5 Year Farm Bill

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Washington, D.C.—Today, Senator Joe Donnelly, a member of the Senate Ag Committee, applauded the committee passage of a five-year farm bill with bipartisan support.  The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 passed 15 to 5 and would reduce the deficit by $23 billion while protecting the estimated 16 million ag-related jobs across the country. 
“I am pleased that we have approved a common sense, five-year farm bill to give the Hoosier ag and rural communities the certainty they deserve,” said Donnelly.  “This bipartisan bill would not only protect the millions of ag jobs around the country; it makes the tough decisions necessary to cut spending, increase accountability, and eliminate duplicative or unnecessary programs to continue our efforts to get our fiscal house in order.
“While no bill is perfect, there are a few areas of this bill I worked to improve based on feedback from Hoosiers.  First, I worked to maintain full planting flexibility for Hoosier farmers wanting to grow fruits and vegetables on their farms.
“Second, as many of Indiana’s farmers continue to contribute to our domestic energy security, I introduced an amendment to give the next generation of bioenergy crops access to base levels of risk management so that a logical safety net will be in place for producers.  
“Further, I supported an amendment to give USDA more authority in determining conservation program technical assistance funding levels with input from the field and the stakeholder community.  We need robust technical assistance to give producers the assurances they need to know they are implementing practices correctly, and these decisions should be more reflective of needs on the ground.
“Now, I urge prompt passage of this bill by the full Senate and for our colleagues in the House to follow suit.  Indiana farmers deserve more than the partisan gridlock that prevented a five-year farm bill from passing last year.”
Donnelly introduced an amendment with Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) to address the increasing use of crops for biofuels.  This bipartisan amendment would amend the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program to offer coverage for crops producing feedstock for energy purposes.  Further, the amendment would direct USDA to research and develop risk management tools promising new sorghum crops.  Read his full amendment here.
Senator Donnelly’s amendment is supported by the Advanced Biofuels Association, Agriculture Energy Coalition, Advanced Ethanol Council, BIO, Growth Energy, National Sorghum Producers, and the Renewable Fuels Association.  Read their letter of support here.
Donnelly cosponsored an amendment introduced by Senator Heidi Heitkamp that would put the USDA in charge of conservation program technical assistance funding levels, taking the Office of Management and Budget out of the process.  This gives USDA the authority to make sure the technical assistance reflects the needs of producers in the field and the stakeholder community while allowing conservation practices to be adopted on a broader scale.
Gene Schmidt, in leadership for the National Association of Conservation Districts and producer from northern Indiana said of the conservation amendment, “We need accountability and efficiency for the dollars that are available, and we need enough technical assistance dollars to make that happen.  We’ve been so challenged in the past to have enough technical assistance dollars to properly assist implementation of programs in the field.  So many times producers want to do the right thing, but often they want assurance that they are implementing the practice properly.  I thank Senator Donnelly for being willing to sponsor this amendment because a locally led process is the way to do it.  Those on the local level know how to do it properly and least expensively.”
The Agriculture Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 now goes to the full Senate for its consideration.
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Wednesday's Powerball Jackpot Now 360 Million Dollars

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Two nights of back-to-back jackpot drawings that feature combined more than half-a-billion dollars in jackpot money. Hoosier Lottery officials say tonight's Mega Millions drawing offers an estimated jackpot of $170 million while tomorrow's night's Powerball jackpot has now jumped to an estimated $360 million. This marks the first time Mega Millions and Powerball have cracked the $150 million and $300 million marks, respectively, at the same time since Indiana began offering Mega Millions more than three years ago.
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Lansing PD Issues Lottery Scam Alert

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Lansing IL PD
Police in Lansing, Illinois, report a lottery scam is seeing a resurgence in the area. Lansing Police say in the scam, a person is informed by letter saying they have won a lottery, oftentimes an international lottery, and that the company has been trying to contact the “winner”. Authorities say a check is usually included for a lesser amount, which according to the letter, can be used to cover the expenses incurred while obtaining the winnings. Once you call the contact person, they instruct you to cash the check and send a certain amount to them via Western Union, or another wire service, to cover their processing fees. Police say once the money is wired, it is nearly impossible to retrieve, if not impossible to determine who actually retrieved the wired funds, and no winnings are sent back and the check you cashed will come back as fraudulent.
Here are some tips to avoid becoming a victim to this or a similar scam:
  • You cannot win a lottery you have not entered
  • There is no such things as an "international lottery"
  • There is no such things as an "email lottery"
  • Legitimate lotteries do not make the winners cover any types of fees or expenses
  • Lotteries do not contact the winners; the winner has to contact the lottery
  • Never provide any personal or financial information to a company soliciting you, which you did not initially contact yourself.
  • When in doubt, contact your local police before taking any action

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Code Enforcement Sweep In Michigan City Thur and Fri

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Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer says an enforcement sweep is happening this week. Inspectors from the city will be issuing warnings and citations for code violations. The two-day sweep this Thursday and Friday (May 16 and May 17) will cover an area within Springland Avenue on the north, Vail Street on the west, Michigan Boulevard on the south, and Carroll Avenue on the east. Michigan City Fire officials will also be available citywide to help the elderly or disabled with the installation or checking of their smoke detectors, and those who'd like assistance are asked to call the Michigan City Fire Department.
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