Born in Northwest Indiana, Laura's a graduate of River Forest High School (home of the Ingots) and got her bachelor's degree from Purdue and a master's from Indiana University [we think she roots for both even when they play each other].

Her work has won several awards from the Indiana Broadcasters Association, Society of Professional Journalists/Indiana Chapter, and Network Indiana. She has also had academic papers selected for presentation at national conferences like the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and Broadcast Education Association.

Laura watched her share of game shows growing up and one summer while in California, she's chosen to be a contestant on "Sale of the Century". Her TV favorites include The Honeymooners, Project Runway, Seinfeld, The Big Bang Theory, Doctor Who and Star Trek (TNG and the original). She also enjoys crossword puzzles and when asked what some of her favorite places to visit are she says -- office supply stores.


Paws for Homeless Animals Fun Walk Aug 23

Animal Corner

Paws for Homeless Animals Fun Walk -- Saturday August 23rd

10:30 am
Paws for Homeless Animals Walk
Aug 23, 2014 10:30 AM - 11:00 AM CDT
Paws for Homeless Animals Walk
111 E Ridge Rd. , Hobart, IN

Please join us on Saturday August 23rd at 10:30am for a fun walk to kick off our
3rd Annual Paws for Homeless Animals event
The walk will be around the park and along Lake George
then back to the park to enjoy the day filled with vendors, rescues, shelters, music and more!

T-shirts & gift bags are limited to the 1st paid 50 walkers that register!
Check in begins at 10am at the Gazebo located in the middle of park, you can pick up your t-shirt and walk bag there!
Walk will start promptly at 10:30am
Please indicate your shirt size during

$15 registration fee per adult
Children 12 and under walk for Free
[No t-shirt option for children or gift bags]


Porter Co Certifies First Master Recycler

Green Zone

Solid Waste Board

Porter County, Ind. –James Biancotti became the first certified Master Recycler in Porter County.  Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County Executive Director Therese Davis presented Biancotti with his certification at the organization’s quarterly board meeting Tuesday.

[Photo: James Biancotti receives the first Master Recycler Certification in Porter County at the Solid Waste Board Meeting last week. Pictured with board members, from left: James Murphy, Kouts Town Council; Karen Conover, County Council; Nancy Adams, County Commissioner; Sue Lynch, Portage City Council; James Biancotti, Certified Master Recycler; Therese Davis, District Executive Director; and James Snyder, Mayor of Portage./Photo provided]

The Ogden Dunes resident completed the last few volunteer hours of his required 30 Payback Hours helping out at the district’s household hazardous waste event last weekend. He fulfilled his attendance at the Master Recycler pilot classes last spring.

The Master Recycler program offered by the district provides a comprehensive overview of the organization, waste flow, recycling processes and household hazardous waste in Northwest Indiana; composting, vermicomposting, and electronics recycling.  The classes feature guest speakers and field trips so attendees can learn from industry professionals and witness first-hand what happens to their waste.

“I originally took the class to find out what could be done to increase the amount of recycled material from the town of Ogden Dunes,” Biancotti said.  “I am a member of the town environmental advisory board.  I learned a lot more about recycling than expected; the right and wrong of single stream recycling, how to handle e-waste, why everyone should utilize the household hazardous waste collection days, and the recycling of organic waste.” 

He said the field trips to the materials recovery facility and the Newton County land fill were eye openers on what is going on in the real world. 

“My work background included recycling for a major industry,” said Biancotti. The U.S. Steel retiree spent 15 years in several environmental manager positions.

“My experience has resulted in a continued interest in recycling,” he said. “I'm interested in looking into changes and hopefully improvements in recycling since I have left the environmental field and see how these can be applied to the town of Ogden Dunes.”

Some ways Biancotti spent his volunteer hours included helping his town with its collection and cleanup event and assisting with waste reduction at the town’s Memorial Day special event. He also assisted at district collection events where he helped to educate individuals; and staffed the district table during the Northwest Indiana Earth Day Celebration.

He promises that his volunteer time will not end at 30 hours.  Biancotti is currently developing an outlet for film plastic generated at the Portage Township Food Pantry. He hopes creating a program will help divert two to four 45 gallon plastic bags filled with film on a weekly basis.

“Now I cannot stand to see a large volume of a recyclable material routinely tossed in the trash,” Biancotti said. “I guess the class improved my outlook on reducing the volume of material I have put in landfills.”

“We are very proud of our first class of Master Recycler interns,” said Donna Stuckert, public education coordinator. “They took the initiative to want to learn more through the classes, and now each one is helping the environment in Porter County by identifying ways they can educate and make a difference.”

Stuckert added that education will be key in meeting the state’s new recycling goals.

The course offered in Porter County is the first Master Recycler program offered anywhere in the state of Indiana, which means Biancotti is the very first certified Master Recycler not only in the county, but anywhere in the state.

Master Recycler programs are popular in areas of the Pacific Northwest, but a few are also located in Minnesota, Virginia, Ohio, Arizona and Canada.

Biancotti was one of 17 individuals in Porter County who took the initiative to register for the course and commit to volunteering time to help educate and reduce waste in Porter County.

The next course is scheduled to begin Sept. 11 and will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Thursdays for eight weeks. Online registration is available on www.ItMeansTheWorld.org.

Master Recyclers are available to assist with education or waste reduction programs. For more information, call 219-465-3819.

2014 Illiana Garden Pond Society Garden and Pond Tour

Green Zone

Northeast Illinois/Northwest Indiana --Experience the beauty that water features add to many private landscapes throughout Northwest Indiana and Northeast Illinois on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 9 and 10, during the 2014 Illiana Garden Pond Society Garden and Pond Tour.

Spend the weekend touring yards with ponds and waterfalls and gather landscaping ideas or simply absorb the scenery that many residents enjoy every day. Nine homes, from Crete and Frankfort, to Crown Point, Hobart and Lowell are spotlighted on the tour.

The admission price of $5 per adult covers both days and all touring times: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. both days, and 8-10 p.m. Saturday to see lighted landscapes. Children under 15 years old are free.

Proceeds from the tour help the group sponsor water feature projects throughout the community and scholarships for Lake County Master Gardeners.

Advance tickets can be purchased at these locations: Alsip Nursery, 10255 Wicker (US 41), St. John, Ind.; Artful garden, 611 N. Indiana Ave., Crown Point, Ind.; Water's Edge, 18418 Wentworth Ave., Lansing, Ill.;  South County landscaping, 9919 Colorado St., Crown Point, Ind.;  and U.S. AquaVac, 16067 Colorado St., Hebron, Ind.

For more information, visit www.IllianaGardenPond.org, or send an e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Porter Co Household Hazmat Collection of 2014

Green Zone

Portage, Indiana – The Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County will help Porter County residents safely dispose of their old pesticides, gasoline, CFLs and other products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable or reactive ingredients at the last household hazardous waste collection event of the year. The collection is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 9, at Portage High School, 6450 U.S. 6.

HHW items accepted at this collection event include aerosol cans; anti-freeze; oil; batteries (household and automotive); corrosives; medications; mercury containing products (fluorescent tubes, CFLs, thermometers, thermostats, etc.); oil-based and latex paint, thinners and solvents; pesticides and other poisons; diesel fuel, kerosene, other flammable liquids; and ammunition.

Explosives, asbestos, grill propane cylinders, containers larger than 30 gallons, commercial hazardous waste, controlled substances and radioactive materials, such as smoke detectors, will not be accepted at this event.

Staff from the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission will be on hand to present a very limited supply of 2.5 gallon CARB gas cans to residents who turn in their old ones. Cans are available on a first-come, first-served basis; limit one new gas can per car/family.

Improper disposal of household hazardous wastes can include pouring them down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or in some cases putting them out with the trash, which can pollute the environment and pose a threat to human health.

For more information on household hazardous waste collection events in Porter County, call the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County, 465-3694, or visit www.ItMeansTheWorld.org.

Unused medications are also accepted any time at the following police departments: Valparaiso, 355 S. Washington St.; Chesterton, 790 Broadway; Portage, 2693 Irving St.; Hebron, 106 East Sigler St. (only available Mondays through Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) -- no liquids or metal nasal spray bottles; and Porter, 50 Francis St. -- no liquids or liquid capsules.

Household batteries can be recycled anytime at a number of places throughout Porter County. Visit the district website for a listing.

Fluorescent tube lights and CFLs can be recycled at either Porter County public compost site: Valparaiso, 2150 W. Lincolnway, Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; or Boone Grove, 546 S. 400 W., Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, noon-5 p.m.; Saturdays, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

The City of Hobart accepts latex paint donations from Porter County residents at its Department of Public Works site, 340 S. Shelby St., Mondays through Fridays, between 7 a.m. and 2:45 p.m.; and Saturdays, between 8 and 11:45 a.m.

The Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County is a government agency dedicated to improving the environment and quality of life for Porter County residents by providing convenient, voluntary waste reduction programs.

Spay the Stray 5K Run/Walk Sept 6

Animal Corner

Highland, Ind. (June 26, 2014) — Get ready to lace up your sneakers and hit the pavement as Humane Society Calumet Area (HSCA) and Lan-Oak Park District host the fourth annual Spay the Stray 5K Run/Walk on September 6 in Lansing, Ill.

The race begins at 9 a.m. at Eisenhower Center, 2550 178th St, Lansing, Ill. All ages are welcome to participate. Proceeds benefit spay and neuter surgeries performed at HSCA’s Estelle Marcus Animal Clinic.

Registration takes place from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. and an awards ceremony follows the race. Medals are awarded to the top three runners in each age group and plaques are given to the overall top male and female runners.

Before September 1, registration costs $20 with a t-shirt and $18 without a t-shirt. After September 1 and on the day of the race, registration costs $25 with a t-shirt and $23 without a t-shirt.

To register online or download a registration form, visit www.hscalumet.org/spaythestray.asp. Registration forms also are available at Humane Society Calumet Area, 421 45th St, Munster, Ind; PAWS Resale Shoppe, 8149 Kennedy Ave, Highland, Ind. and Eisenhower Center, 2550 178th St, Lansing, Ill

Volunteer, donation and sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, contact Ashley Boyer at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (219) 513-8911, ext. 103.

About Spay the Stray 5K

Spay the Stray 5K is dedicated in memory of Bill and Helen Evans. An all-around athlete at Thornton Fractional South High School and the first to qualify for the Illinois state cross country competition, Bill Evans passed away suddenly from a brain tumor shortly before entering his senior year of high school.

Bill’s mother, Helen Evans, worked for the Lan-Oak Park District for many years and asked the park district to host a race in honor of his memory. For 33 years, the park district hosted Bill and Helen Evans memorial run, named for Helen after her passing, before joining forces with HSCA for a combined race in 2010.

About Humane Society Calumet Area
Founded by concerned citizen Miss Evelyn Sweitzer in 1941, Humane Society Calumet Area aims to lead the community in the humane treatment of animals by providing vital community services. In 2013, more than 1,500 homeless animals found homes through HSCA and many lost animals were reunited with their families. Additional HSCA services include spay and neuter surgeries for families with financial hardship at the Estelle Marcus Animal Clinic, pet therapy teams who visit nursing homes and assisted living facilities and a humane education team that teaches local children about pet safety and compassion.

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