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Senate Passes Bill to Reform Indiana's Criminal Code

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State lawmakers are attempting to reform Indiana's criminal code for the first time since the 1970's. House Bill 10-06 passed the Senate Wednesday, and would change the four classes of felonies into six and change the credit timed-served system, requiring offenders to serve at least 75-percent of their sentence instead of the current 50-percent, with serious offenders required to serve at least 85-percent of their sentence. Those convicted of non-violent property crimes would serve less time under the proposed legislation, and face lower levels of felony or misdemeanor charges. The bill now heads back to the House for final legislative action, and if enacted would begin July 1st, 2014. For a link to view the bill's sentencing reform proportionality chart, visit http://www.in.gov/legislative/senate_republicans/images/photogallery/Steele/Different%20format%20HB%201006%20Proportionality%20Chart.pdf
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House Approves Higher Education Transparency Bill

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A Senate bill to increase transparency in higher education passed the Indiana House on Wednesday. Senate Bill 180 would require each state education institution to prepare and publish a report on its grading and employment practices, including employee salaries, faculty responsibilities, and student grade point averages, as well as an analysis of each campus's administrative expenditures. State Senator Jim Banks says not enough is being done to hold these institutions accountable, which is why we see student tuition skyrocketing, excessive red tape, and questionable administrative practices. The bill now returns to the Senate for a final review.
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Japanese Auto Parts Maker Expands Again in N. Indiana

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A Japanese auto parts manufacturer announced today its third expansion in Indiana in less than year, which is expected to create up to 34 new jobs in Bremen by 2015. NISCO will invest 12.7 million dollars to equip its 150-thousand square-feet facility, and will install new equipment to accommodate the company's door hole sealing finishing capabilities. The company has already begun hiring additional finishing associates, operators and engineers for the expansion, which is scheduled to be completed in July.
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Breakfast with the Mayor Program Launches Tomorrow

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A program where the Mayor of Gary has breakfast with students and answers questions they may have regarding government and the city's future officially kicks tomorrow morning at the Thea Bowman Leadership Academy. Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson says, “Since we already have the ‘15 minutes with the Mayor’ program for the adults, I thought we should have a platform for students who also have questions about their city and want to get involved.” The program begins at 7am, Friday, and the Mayor will be visiting another Gary school in May, and will resume the breakfast program again in August when students return to school in August.
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Firearms Safety to be Addressed Tonight in Schererville

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The subject of firearms and firearms safety will be addressed this evening at Schererville Town Hall. Schererville Police invite the public to attend their first quarter “Crime Watch Meeting” of 2013, at 7pm.
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Power Outage in Hobart

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A number of people are without power in the city of Hobart this evening.  The Northern Indiana Public Service Company online outage map shows nearly 1,700 customers without electricity. No word at this time on the cause.
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Authorities Investigate Fatal EC Crash

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A 32 year old Gary man died this morning after a car accident in East Chicago. The Lake County Coroner's Office reports Robert Patterson suffered blunt force trauma, after a crash early today at Chicago Avenue and Grasselli Street, where officials say his vehicle struck railroad tracks, went airborne, and hit several trees. The Lake County Coroners office says Patterson was pronounced dead shortly before 4 am at a local hospital.
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Photo Studios Suddenly Closed

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The company that ran PictureMe photo studios at Wal-Mart and Sears Portrait Studios, and Kiddie Kandids portrait studios in stores around the country has gone out of business, and Region customers may be wondering what has become of their pictures. A statement at the website for photography vendor CPI Corporation directs people to the customer service department of their local store. The company reportedly shut down their U-S photo studios a week ago.
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Illiana Mtg in Lowell Next Week

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illiana pm1 T2 header
A couple of forums are coming up on the proposed Illiana Expressway. The meetings, hosted by the Indiana and Illinois Departments of Transportation, are meant to explain the Tier Two process, where INDOT and IDOT say the focus will shift from the original broad 952 square-mile study area to the communities, landowners and access needs along the preferred corridor. The open houses will look at refining the preferred corridor, looking at interchange locations and layout, determining overpass and underpass opportunities, environmental analysis and continued outreach.
The meetings will be an open house format, and interested persons may attend anytime between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. There will be a continuous PowerPoint presentation, and attendees will have the opportunity to view study exhibits and speak with IDOT, INDOT and study team representatives on a one-on-one basis. A question and answer forum will be held at 6:00 p.m. each day.
TIER TWO Public Meetings:
IINDIANA
Thursday, April 18, 2013
5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Lowell Middle School
19250 Cline Avenue
Lowell, IN 46356
ILLINOIS
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Peotone High School
605 West North Street
Peotone, IL 60468
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Saturday Mail Delivery Staying

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Region residents -- Saturday mail delivery isn't ending just yet. The U-S Postal Service Board of Governors said today (Wednesday) it is delaying its plans to stop Saturday service - because Congress won't allow the change. Postal Service Spokesperson Dave Partenheimer says employees are disappointed. "The board believes that Congress has left us with no choice but to delay the implementation at this time, but the board wants to ensure that our customers of the Postal Service are not unduly burdened by ongoing uncertainties as to whether we'll be able to move forward with the new delivery schedule or not," Partenheimer said. The Postal Service had recommended cutting Saturday delivery starting this August to save two billion dollars a year.
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Voucher Expansion Okayed

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The Indiana Senate today approved an expansion of the state's school voucher program, but differences between what the House and Senate are seeking still need to be ironed out before the measure heads to the governor's desk. House Bill 1003 includes a number of changes, including lifting the cap of 15-thousand vouchers statewide and allowing siblings of children already receiving Choice scholarships to be eligible.
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Some HS Challenge Games Postponed

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Officials with the Gary South Shore RailCats today announced two scheduled High School Challenge contests—West Side vs. Gavit and Hales Franciscan vs. St. Patrick—have been postponed due to inclement weather. Makeup dates have not yet been announced.
Additionally, the postponed Calumet vs. Hebron game has been cancelled and will not be made up due to scheduling conflicts.
The High School Challenge will continue on Friday, as TF North faces TF South at 4:30 followed by Westville against Hammond Academy at 7:30.
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Man Fixing Flat Injured on Interstate

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A man fixing a flat tire this morning ended up suffering a broken arm. Indiana State Police report the incident occurred just before 9am, on eastbound I-94, near the Portage exit. The man was injured when the jack slipped and the vehicle fell on his arm. Authorities report the man ended up taking himself to the emergency room for his injury. No further information is available.
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Donnelly: I'm Here to Help Off-Ramped Guard Members

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Washington, D.C.— Today, Senator Joe Donnelly announced that due to the Army’s decision to off-ramp four Indiana National Guard Units, he is here to help. In late March, the Army reversed its decision to immediately off-ramp four Indiana National Guard units, instead delaying this action, which would have significantly impacted more than 1,000 Guard members and their families, cutting off healthcare and employment. 
After hearing the Army’s plans to address sequestration cuts by replacing four Indiana National Guard units with active duty units for their deployments to the Horn of Africa and Sinai peninsula, Senator Donnelly sent a letterto the Secretary and the Chief of Staff of the Army asking him to reconsider his decision.  In late March, it was announced that the Army will be delaying the off-ramps, giving Guard members and their families additional time on payroll and with health benefits, allowing them the transition time they have earned.
“Indiana National Guard members and their families take many steps and make many sacrifices in order to prepare for their deployment,” Donnelly said.  “These men and women have delayed their educations, asked their employers to find replacement workers, and canceled or changed their leases on cars and homes.   The Army must make tough decisions when it comes to cutting spending under sequestration, but spending cuts should be done in common sense ways that do not abruptly disrupt the lives of Hoosier warfighters and their families.  I’m pleased that the Army has taken this first step and reconsidered the timing of its off-ramping orders after I asked that they reverse this short-fuse decision.  My office is here to help all of these families with any assistance they may need.”
In Senator Donnelly’s letter to Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Chief of Staff of the Army Raymond Odierno, he wrote that by choosing to send Active Component units instead of Indiana Guard units, it appeared to undermine the commitment the Army made to Indiana soldiers and their families with its October 2012 mobilization order.  Further, Senator Donnelly noted that his office had received three different cost-saving estimates from the Army, pointing to the possibility that the Army had not fully considered the impact of this decision.
Senator Donnelly will continue working to address specific concerns of families, such as healthcare, education, and housing.  His Indianapolis office can be reached at 317-226-5555 or any of the affected Guard members or their family members can learn about how Senator Donnelly’s office can help with casework here.   Read Senator Donnelly’s full letter to Secretary McHugh and Chief of Staff Odierno here
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Gary Man Killled in East Chicago Crash this Morning

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A 32 year old Gary man died this morning at an East Chicago hospital as the result of car accident. The Lake County Coroner's Office reports Robert Patterson died due to blunt force trauma, after a crash at occurred at 3am, at the intersection of Chicago Avenue and Grasselli Street, where his vehicle struck the railroad tracks, went airborne, and hit several trees.
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Public Meeting 4/16 for Valpo PD CALEA Accreditation

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Valpo PD
The Valparaiso Police Department is scheduled for an on-site assessment to achieve accreditation on next week and members of the community are invited to offer their comments at a public information session. The assessment will be administered by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., which requires agencies to comply with state-of-the-art standards in four basic areas: policy and procedures, administration, operation, and support services, and while this will take place between April 14th through the 17th, the public is invited out at 6pm, on April 16th, at the Valparaiso Police Department, or by calling (219) 476-7955, between the hours of 1pm-3pm.  Telephone comments will be limited to 10 minutes and must address the agency's ability to comply with CALEA's standards. A copy of the standards is available at the Valparaiso
Police Department by contacting Sergeant Michael McLinn.
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April is National STD Awareness Month

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April is National STD Awareness Month
INDIANAPOLIS—Nearly 20 million new sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) occur in the United States each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), costing Americans $16 billion. April is National STD Awareness Month and the Indiana State Department of Health encourages Hoosiers to discuss prevention and know the risks.
STD Awareness Month provides an opportunity for individuals, doctors, and community-based organizations to discuss prevention and testing for STDs, especially when it comes to Indiana’s youth. Half of all new sexually transmitted infections that occur each year are among youths.
“Education and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases is a high priority for Indiana,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “STDs are responsible for several health problems like infertility and low birth weight. Testing and treatment are key, but prevention is best. I encourage parents and health care providers to have the conversation about prevalence and prevention now.”
Sexually transmitted diseases can be spread through vaginal, anal and oral sex. Having an STD can make you more likely to get HIV. Sexually-transmitted diseases can be passed to the baby before, during or after birth. An STD like syphilis can cross the placenta and infect the baby. Pregnant women with an STD could experience:
·         premature labor or rupture of the membranes
·         Stillbirth
·         Low birth weight
·         Preterm birth
 
Consistent and correct use of male latex condoms can reduce the risk of STD transmission.
In Indiana, Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are of particular concern. Chlamydia is the most frequently reported bacterial STD in Indiana and the United States. It is most often found in the 15-24 year old population, with 1-in-50 Indiana residents ages 15-19 infected. Most people affected with Chlamydia do not have symptoms. In 2011, there were 27,801 cases of Chlamydia reported in Indiana.
Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported bacterial STD in Indiana and the United States, and is most often found in 15-24 year old population. In 2011, there were 6,569 cases of gonorrhea reported in Indiana and 1-in-250 Indiana residents ages 15-19 were infected. The complications of untreated Chlamydia and gonorrhea include pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and ectopic pregnancy.
Syphilis can cause long term complications if not adequately treated and often symptoms may not been seen in the primary stage. Syphilis must be diagnosed through a blood test. In 2011, there were 173 cases of primary and secondary syphilis reported in Indiana, and 9-in-100,000 Indiana residents ages 20-24 have syphilis.
Most STDs can be treated however there are a variety of methods to prevent STDs. Effective ways to protect yourself and your partner from STD risk include abstinence, mutual monogamy with an uninfected partner, using latex condoms and vaccination, especially against hepatitis B and Human Papillomavirus (HPV).
Knowing your STD status is a critical step to stopping STD transmission. If you know you are infected you can take steps to protect yourself and your partners.
To learn more about STD Awareness Month, visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.StateHealth.in.gov or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at http://www.cdc.gov/std/sam/default.htm.
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New Budget May Cost Region More for Road Improvements

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Region residents may have to start shelling out more money if they want northwest Indiana road conditions to improve. The measure is part of the 2014-2015 budget, and according to published reports Jasper, Lake, LaPorte, Newton, and Porter Counties do not assess either the vehicle excise or wheel tax, which would be required as part of House Bill 1001. Proponents of the bill say it is only fair that local governments get as much revenue as possible from local sources before asking for additional funding. The Times reports State Representative Chuck Moseley, of Portage, says it seems the state is holding tax payers money hostage until they agree to pay even more. The legislation now heads to a House-Senate conference committee.
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First Reading of Lake County Income Tax Passes 4-3

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The Lake County Council on Tuesday voted four to three to approve a one-point-five percent assessment on the personal income of all county residents. Published reports say the more than 90-million dollars expected to be raised would be shared around the county to primarily benefit suburban property owners, and build local government budgets. A public forum is expected to be held before a second vote on the matter, which could happen at Council's next scheduled meeting on May 14th.
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Bosma Scheduled to Return to State House Today

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Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma is scheduled to return to the State House today after contracting an infection in his knee that he had replaced last summer. According to the House Communication Director, the Speaker will preside over the session, in part, and rest his knee in his office as need be. The infection required him to have surgery last week on Tuesday.
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