Indiana Leaders Call for Bipartisan Immigration Solutions

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INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier faith, law enforcement and business leaders came together Wednesday to speak about the importance of immigrants to the state’s economy and the urgency of immigration reform for Indiana’s diverse communities — days after a federal court blocked key provisions of Indiana’s tough immigration law.
With members of Congress home for the Easter recess — and with the introduction of immigration reform legislation possible later this month — Indiana faith, law enforcement and business leaders highlighted the need for immigration solutions nationally and called on their representatives in Congress to pass commonsense immigration reform. They also spoke with attendees about the importance of mobilizing to push for a just and responsible immigration solution as the debate moves forward in Congress.
This event was one of many recess events nationwide organized by Bibles, Badges, and Business for Immigration Reform, a network that is bringing together faith, law enforcement and business leaders to advocate for broad, bipartisan reform in 2013.
The following quotes can be attributed to Wednesday’s event participants:
David Drury, Chief of Staff, The Wesleyan Church:
“In 2008, The Wesleyan Church voted to approve an extensive Immigration Position Statement, saying, ‘We oppose and condemn all unjust and harsh laws, policies and measures directed against immigrants among us ... We will act as advocates for just and humane policies for all people.’ This event was a practical part of that loving, biblical value of justice for the foreigner.”
Mike Murphy, Senior Vice President, Hirons and Company:
“The recent Federal Court decision striking down Indiana’s immigration law as unconstitutional reinforces that fact that we must Convince Congress to act swiftly to update and reform our country’s outdated immigration laws. Immigrants must once again be considered our nation’s strength, not a liability.”
Megan Ritter, Director of Public Policy, Indiana Farm Bureau:
“Immigration reform is critical for Hoosier farmers who rely on a non-domestic workforce to ensure our crops and livestock continue to be a pillar of Indiana’s economy.”
The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ):
“Disciples, leaders and governing bodies have for years called upon our political leaders to move beyond an immigration system that demonizes our neighbors, divides us against one another, and devastates children by tearing apart their families. As Christians committed to the scriptural call to welcome the stranger and to promote the wholeness and well-being of families and communities, we welcome an opportunity to achieve immigration reform that is both just and compassionate.”
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Victim Found in Munster Ditch has Been Identified

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Lake County Coroner Merrilee D. Frey states that in less than twenty-four hours, the unidentified white male, with the varying tattoos has been successfully identified.  The family had been searching for their loved one, Fabian Castaneda, for an extended period of time.  Coroner Frey states, “It is our mission to always serve families with compassion.  Our Lake County Coroner’s office works diligently to bring closure to family members. We are extremely grateful to our local media for their assistance in this very sad situation.”  
The Coroner’s office responded to a call at the location of Hawthorn and Ridge Road in Munster, at the river bank where the victim was discovered, Sunday, March 31st.
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Griffith and Gary Police seek Person of Interest

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Police have released photos of a man who is wanted in connection with the abduction and murder of an elderly Griffith businesswoman, who was found shot to death inside her vehicle in a Gary casino parking lot early Friday morning.  Published reports say, 76 year-old Mary Austgen of St. John, was abducted from a business her family owns in the 800 block of East Main Street, around 5:40 pm last Thursday and was later discover dead, shortly after 2:00 am Friday in the passenger seat of her SUV, with a shotgun wound in her abdomen.
Police are hoping that someone will come forward and identify the male suspect shown in security photos walking into the business.  According to an article in the Times, the man is seen holding a black backpack, wearing a black Harley-Davidson hat with an orange flame and black sunglasses.  Griffith police detectives stress the man is not being called the killer, but only a person of interest, who was seen leaving the business with the victim.
Anyone with information about the suspect is asked to call Griffith Police Department's anonymous tip line at (219) 922-3085. People also can call Gary police Detective Lorenzo Davis at (219) 881-4738 or the department's anonymous tip line at (866) 274-6347.
Read more about this story at:
Griffith Abdusction suspect  2
Police are asking the public to help identify this person of interest
Griffith Abdusction suspect  1
(photos courtesy of the Times of Northwest Indiana )
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Six Foot Fence Ends Early Morning Police Chase

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A South Haven man remains in custody at Porter County Jail following a police chase that started with a car chase and ended on foot early Wednesday morning in Portage. Police reports say the motorized part of the chase reached a high rate of speed along Central Avenue and Airport Road before stopped sticks were used on Lute Road, slowing the chase which eventually ended when the suspect repotedly drove into the backyard of a home in the 3200 block of Roswell Drive, where he bailed from his vehicle and ran into a six foot chain link fence.  
According to published reports, the chase began around 1 am Wednesday when an officer saw the suspect allegedly run a red light on Central Avenue. Police say Kleckner was transported to the Porter County Jail where is is being held with no bond due to being out on bond.
Accoding to the Times, the suspect, identified as 27 year-old Daniel Kleckner of the 700 block of Heritage Road, faces two counts of resisting law enforcement, driving while suspended, reckless driving and leaving the scene of a crash. According to published reports, the chase began around 1 am Wednesday when an officer saw the suspect allegedly run a red light on Central Avenue. Police say Kleckner is being held in jail with no bond due to being out on bond.
Read the complete story at:
Daniel K. Kleckner
(photo provided by Portage Police Department)
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Police Say Merrillville Shooting Was a Gang Initiation

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At a press conference this afternoon, Joseph Petruch, Merrillville Police Chief says the motive is still unclear in the shooting death that took that life of 14 year-old Depree Mims last Wednesday night in his Merrillville home located in the 7500 block of Marshall Street.   According to Chief Petruch, Mrs. Mims says she and her children were gathered in their living room watching a movie when she asked Depree to get one of the children a blanket.  When the the boy stood up several gunshots were fired from outside at the house.  One of those bullets entered the home through the front bay window and struck the boy in the head, according to Petruch.  
The chief did say they do have information that the shooting was a gang initiation and that a member of the gang had been previously robbed and believed this individual lived at the Marshall Street address, where the shooting occurred.  However, police say everyone they've spoken to about Depree, says he was a well mannered and respectful young boy who stayed away from trouble.
It was last Friday that police received information on a possible suspect involved in the shooting.  Published reports say this information led to the apprehension of 18 year-old Kevin brown of Merrillville, 21 year-old Joshua Addison and 22 year-old Anthony Addison, both of Gary and a 16 year-old Merrillville boy.  Chief Petruch says all four suspects were charged through the Lake County Prosecutor's Office with murder and Criminal Gang Activity and are currently being housed at the Lake County Jail.
The investigation continues and anyone with any further information is urged to contact the Merrillville Police Dept at 219-769-3531....

Read more: Police Say Merrillville Shooting Was a Gang Initiation


National Public Health Week: A Safe, Healthy Workplace

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indiana state department of health
INDIANAPOLIS—Good health and a safe work environment are essential components of productivity, job satisfaction and overall quality of life for employees. In recent years, workplaces have recognized this and have taken steps to improve workplace settings. As National Public Health Week continues, employers are encouraged to institute workplace wellness programs, as well as ensure adequate safety gear and training are provided to staff.
Research from the American Public Health Association shows that investing in workplace wellness programs made positive impacts on workers' health and pocketbooks. Such wellness efforts also help employers contain health care costs. The cost of obesity among full-time employees tops $73 billion, which includes the total value of lost productivity and medical costs.
“I’ve seen firsthand the dramatic impact effective workplace wellness programs can have on employee morale and job satisfaction, as well as on healthcare expenses,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “Employers don’t need to spend a ton of money on activities, every bit of encouragement helps. There are lots of ways to incentivize employees toward good health in the workplace that are little to no cost. The results are well worth the time and effort.”
Employers can request a free copy of the Indiana Healthy Worksites Toolkit for Small Businesses from the Indiana Healthy Weight Initiative website or download it directly at The toolkit provides several suggestions for increasing the number of opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity in the workplace.
“Employers who invest in occupational safety and health benefit from increased employee morale, worker productivity and reduced workplace injuries and illnesses, as well as lower insurance premiums,” said Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Sean Keefer.
According to the National Safety County, deaths from unintentional work injuries dropped 90 percent from 1933 to 1997. However, workers still get injured on the job. According to the Indiana Department of Labor, Indiana reported 122 fatal occupational injuries in 2011. Nationally, nearly 5,000 workers died in the United States due to an injury on the job in 2011. That same year, fatal work injuries also rose among workers ages 20-24 by 18 percent.
“Proactively addressing workplace safety and health is not only the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense,” said Keefer.
Employers can do many things to improve safety. One is to understand and follow all workplace safety regulations and best practices. Employers can educate employees about workplace safety regulations and train employees to recognize unsafe or unhealthy settings and if applicable, have safety training available in multiple languages. Employers should strive to create a work environment in which employees feel comfortable reporting unsafe working conditions or workplace abuse.
Additional suggestions for creating a safe and healthy workplace include:
·        Provide the required equipment to keep workers safe, such as respiratory gear and hard hats.
·        Hold subcontractors accountable for implementing safety standards and trainings.
·        Have mechanisms in place for recognizing and addressing the potential for workplace violence.
·        Practice fire safety drills and prepare your workplace for an unexpected emergency or disaster.
·        Post hand-washing reminders, provide healthy foods at meetings and celebrations, and organizing workplace walking groups. If you provide employer-based health insurance, consider certain financial incentives that can improve health, such as incentivizing employees to quit using tobacco.
Importantly, make your support for investments in workplace health and safety known. Talk to leadership about inviting local policymakers and others to a community roundtable to discuss injury prevention and wellness in the workplace and follow up with specific actions. 
To learn more about National Public Health Week, visit
For more information about the Indiana State Department of Health, visit
For more information about learning how to ensure workplace health and safety, visit the Indiana Department of Labor’s website at
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Marijuana and Over $56,000 Found During Traffic Stop

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Valpo PD
A traffic stop by Valparaiso Police, working High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Patrols, along I-94 near Chesterton on Tuesday netted drugs and over 56-thousand dollars in U-S currency. Valparaiso Police report a vehicle was stopped for speeding on I-94, near State Road 49, and after some inconsistencies in regards their travels, a Chesterton K-9 unit was called in, and alerted officers of drugs in vehicle. Marijuana, along with the large sum of cash were discovered hidden inside a pillow, and the occupants, two Michigan men, were arrested, charged , and taken to the Porter County Jail.
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Valpo PD Investigating Infant Death

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Valpo PD
In Valparaiso, police are investigating the death of an infant. Valparaiso Police report they, along with the Valparaiso Fire Department, were dispatched just before 11:30 in the morning Tuesday to the 29-hundred block of Winchester Drive for a seven-week old infant not breathing. Upon arrival, authorities say the infant was immediately transported to Porter Regional Hospital, and shortly after arriving, the infant was pronounced dead. Police report at the time of death, the infant displayed no obvious signs of death.
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Fugitive Charged with Rape/Child Molesting Apprehended

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A man named “fugitive of the week” by the U.S. Marshals Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force has been apprehended. Deputy U-S Marshal Timothy Craigin says Edgar Rodriguez, who was charged last week in Lake Superior Court with rape, child molesting, and criminal confinement, has been apprehended in Plainfield, Illinois, and will be held at the DuPage County Jail, until he can extradited back to Indiana.
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Senate Approves Bill to Let 1st Responders Help Crisis Victims

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Senator Vaneta Becker
On Tuesday,  the full Senate unanimously approved a bill sponsored by State Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville) to enhance the authority and ability of medical personnel to treat patients in crisis situations, such as a major disaster. House Bill 1111 cleared the Senate by a 49-0 vote.
The bill outlines qualifications for medical personnel practicing tactical emergency medicine, which means care provided in the field instead of a hospital – usually in a crisis environment. Becker said she believes this will help first responders save more lives.
“Learning from last year’s violence in Newtown as well as recent natural disasters across the country, we’ve discovered medical emergency personnel are sometimes prohibited from dealing with victims due to unstable or violent situations,” Becker said. “This bill will provide them the training and authority needed to begin treating victims right away, which can often mean the difference between life and death.”
HB 1111 now goes to the governor for final consideration.
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Helping Veterans Serve as EMS Providers Signed into Law

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A bill that allows veterans who received emergency medical service training, instruction or experience while serving in the military, to obtain a license and perform in a similar role as an emergency service provider has been signed into law. Governor Mike Pence says, “Senate Bill 290 is good Hoosier common sense that honors the brave men and women who served our nation and sacrificed to protect freedom.” The law becomes effective on July 1st.
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Retirement Plan Flexibility Law for Teachers Sign by Pence

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A new law begins on July 1st that gives teachers more flexibility with their retirement plans. House Bill 15-60, coauthored by Portage State Representative Chuck Moseley, says if a school corporation makes changes to a retirement account for employees, than those affected can look for other plans. The bill was signed into law by Governor Mike Pence on Monday.
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Tuesday Brush Fire in Griffith

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The Griffith Volunteer Fire Department reportedly worked into the nighttime hours to snuff out a brush fire in the 900 block of Avenue H. Fire crews were called out after 6pm Tuesday, for the fire, which according to tipsters could be seen from a few miles away. No further information is available at this time.
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Latest on Griffith-Calumet Township Seperation Issue

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Legislation could be approved by the Senate this week that would give Calumet Township a year to reduce its township assistance tax rate for poor relief spending. Published reports say if the township fails to do that, Griffith could then hold a referendum on whether or not to leave. It would also allow the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board to consider placing an emergency manager in power to make the necessary spending reductions. State Senator Earline Roger, of Gary, says letting Griffith leave sets a dangerous precedent. Griffith residents pay more in property taxes to support the township's poor but reportedly get little in return.
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MC PD Released Operation Pull-Over Blitz Results

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The Michigan City Police Department on Tuesday announced officers stopped 169 vehicles during their participation in the “Operation Pull-Over Traffic Enforcement Blitz” that took place between March 17th through the 24th. Officials say officers wrote 97 citations, had 98 seat belt violations, 39 speeding citations, caught six drivers suspended drivers, made five criminal arrests on warrants for felonies and misdemeanors, and wrote 108 warning tickets.
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Highland Over Hobart, Calumet/Hebron Postponed Again

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Just like Monday, cold weather postponed the Calumet/ Hebron game at the 11th Annual High School Challenge at the U-S Steelyard in Gary. However, the first game of Tuesday's double header did get played as Hobart lost to Highland, 6 to 2. Matt Friedman, of the Railcats, says there is a make-up date but it has not yet been announced.
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Arcelormittal Supports National Walking Day, April 3rd

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ArcelorMittal, the world’s leading steel company, is encouraging local residents and across the country to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle by supporting National Walking Day on Wednesday, April 3, 2013. In Burns Harbor, East Chicago and New Carlisle where ArcelorMittal has local facilities, employees will participate in walking events this week.
National Walking Day is the American Heart Association’s nationwide call to action for Americans to get more physically active. ArcelorMittal is supporting National Walking Day in Indianaby hosting walking events near local plant sites for their employees, providing healthy living resources and encouraging other local companies to let their employees wear sneakers to work on April 3 in order to take a walk during the day.
“According to the American Heart Association, walking is the single most effective form of exercise with one of the lowest dropout rates. National Walking Day is the perfect time to start incorporating a brisk walk into your daily routine to achieve better heart health,” said Steve Thompson, Manager - Health and Safety Compliance, ArcelorMittal USA. “ArcelorMittal is proud to walk side-by-side with the American Heart Association to support National Walking Day and encourage more Americans to improve their cardiovascular health.”
Heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States. On National Walking Day, a day where hundreds of thousands across the nation take steps to improve their health, Americans are encouraged to spend at least 30 minutes of their day briskly walking.
While physical activity is critical to being healthy, less than 50 percent of adults get enough daily exercise. Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to see the health benefits of physical activity such as lower blood pressure, improved bone health, weight maintenance after weight loss, better sleep, and more energy.
The workplace can play a key role in health and wellness. Americans work 164 more hours a year than two decades ago, and sedentary jobs have increased 83 percent since 1950. Health problems cost corporate America nearly $226 billion annually in productivity losses. On National Walking Day, companies across the country are asked to allow employees to wear sneakers to work on April 3 to go for a walk. Americans are also encouraged to take a walk with family members, friends, and neighbors after work hours.
For more information on National Walking Day and a free downloadable tool kit with health tips and resources to host a National Walking Day event at your workplace or in your community, go to
About ArcelorMittal
ArcelorMittal is the world's leading integrated steel and mining company, with presence in more than 60 countries.
ArcelorMittal is the leader in all major global steel markets, including automotive, construction, household appliances and packaging, with leading R&D and technology, as well as sizeable captive supplies of raw materials and outstanding distribution networks. With an industrial presence in over 20 countries spanning four continents, the Company covers all of the key steel markets, from emerging to mature.
Through its core values of sustainability, quality and leadership, ArcelorMittal commits to operating in a responsible way with respect to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, contractors and the communities in which it operates. It is also committed to the sustainable management of the environment. It takes a leading role in the industry's efforts to develop breakthrough steelmaking technologies and is actively researching and developing steel-based technologies and solutions that contribute to combat climate change.
For more about National Walking Day and it's many benefits listen to our interview with Ryan Johnson, Communication Director, American Heart Association at the following link:
For more information about ArcelorMittal, visit
About the American Heart Association  
The American Heart Association is devoted to saving people from heart disease and stroke – America’s No. 1 and No. 4 killers. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat these diseases. The Dallas-based association is the nation’s oldest and largest voluntary organization dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke. To learn more or to get involved, call 219.996.4958, visit   or call any of our offices around the country.
National Walking Day

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RDA Approves Transit Plan Partnership with NICTD

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The future of the South Shore Line may have just gotten brighter.  The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) have chosen URS Corporation to develop a strategic business plan for commuter transit in northern Indiana.
The two organizations will split the estimated $550,000 cost of the plan, which is expected to be complete in early 2014. The RDA Board of Directors approved funding for its half of the study during its quarterly board meeting today. This follows NICTD, whose Board signed off on the project in late March
“Connectivity to Chicago is key to the economic health of the region,” said RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna. “This plan will help us to maximize the job creation and economic development potential of the South Shore line.”
Mark Yagelski, NICTD Board Chairman and LaPorte County Council President, said that NICTD is looking forward to having the RDA/URS team help chart a course for future strategic investment that will enhance Northwest Indiana’s access to Chicago.
Items and issues that URS will address as part of the strategic plan include, but are not limited to:
  • Strategies for increased ridership
  • Transit-Oriented Development
  • Access to airports and recreational destinations
  • Public/private partnerships
  • Expansion of service

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Read more: RDA Approves Transit Plan Partnership with NICTD


Coroner Seeks Help to Identify Victim

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Lake County Coroner Merrilee D. Frey is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying and locating the family of an unidentified white male, weighing approximately 220 pounds, six feet one inch tall, with long salt and pepper hair. On Sunday, March 31, the Coroner’s office responded to a call at the location of Hawthorn and Ridge Road in Munster, at the river bank where the victim was discovered.
Frey states, “He was wearing a brown T shirt with “Dickies Brand Work Wear” on the front, and underneath was a long sleeved white T shirt. He was wearing tan cargo pants with a black belt and on his feet were black and yellow Air Jordan tennis shoes”. Frey continues, “The victim has several tattoos located on his upper left chest, just above his left knee, on his right forearm, on his upper right arm, on his right ankle and across his back. “The public can help us tremendously in assisting us with any additional information to help us identify him”.

Coroner Frey states, “Anyone with information is urged to contact Investigator Brandon Artim at our office at 219-755-3265.”
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First Ships of the 2013 Season Arrive at the Ports of Indiana

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The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor is celebrating the opening of the 2013 international shipping season this week with the arrival of two vessels. The first vessel arrived Monday carrying liquid fertilizer from the Baltic Sea region for local farmers while the second will deliver a shipment of steel from the Netherlands later in the week. 
On March 22, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened its locks for ocean vessels from around the world to enter the Great Lakes and deliver cargo to U.S. and Canadian ports for the 55th annual international shipping season. The 2,340-mile deep draft waterway is open to ocean vessels from mid-March through December, connecting the Atlantic Ocean to the heart of North America. More than 180 million tons of cargo are shipped through the Great Lakes each year, generating 227,000 jobs and $35 billion in business revenue.
"Some people would consider it a challenge to operate a port 700 miles from an ocean," said Rick Heimann, port director at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor. "But the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway provide Indiana companies with a tremendous advantage by bringing ocean ships right to their doorstep at the crossroads of America. The economic and environmental benefits are tremendous when you consider one ship can haul more than 900 truckloads of cargo."
The "Sloman Herakles" arrived in Indiana yesterday on its maiden voyage to North America carrying 12,860 tons of liquid fertilizer for Frick Services. The German tanker ship was built in 2012 and is one of many new ships built specifically for Great Lakes shipments. Four shipping lines recently announced plans to launch 31 new Great Lakes vessels by 2016.
Later this week, the Federal Welland will bring 5,100 tons of steel coils from the Netherlands. The ship is owned by the Canadian-based Fednav Group, the largest ship operator on the Great Lakes and parent company to Port of Indiana terminal operator, Federal Marine Terminals. The Fednav group is adding 22 new ice-class bulk carriers worldwide, nine specifically designed for the Great Lakes and many which are designed to consume 20 percent less fuel and produce 20 percent fewer emissions than their predecessors. 
"The massive investment our shipping partners are making into Great Lakes vessels demonstrates their confidence in the future growth of this market," Heimann said. "We share their perspective that the Seaway will play an important role in the continued recovery of our nation's manufacturing and agricultural sectors."
While the Seaway closes for maintenance in the winter, the Port of Indiana is open year-round handling cargoes by river barge, lake vessel, train and truck. In 2012, the port had a 16 percent increase in ocean vessel calls and nine percent increase in multimodal shipments. Maritime tonnage was down slightly from 2011's near record total but was 9 percent above the previous five-year average. Business activities at the port generate $4.3 billion for the state economy each year and support more than 32,000 jobs.
The Ports of Indiana is a statewide port authority that operates a system of three ports on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan in Mount Vernon, Burns Harbor and Jeffersonville. For more information, please visit
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Region News Team
Region News Team
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Region News Team
Region News Team
Region News Team


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