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Hospital, Assessor Reach Agreement

Officials say Porter Regional Hospital has agreed to turn over documents said to be necessary to complete the property tax assessment of the hospital campus at US 6 and State Road 49 in Liberty Township. The issue wound up in court. County Assessor Jon Snyder issued a statement today saying the hospital and his office have come to an equitable agreement, and that thanks to  "this agreement and its timing, assessments will be completed on time and accurately.”
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Public Comment Sought on Upgrade Plan

Indiana's utility consumer representative is taking public comment on a one-billion dollar proposal by NIPSCO to upgrade its electric system. The plan that would include replacing poles and transformers could mean yearly one-percent electric bill increases in the coming years. The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor says the Merrillville-based utiity giant's request is the first to be filed under a new law, Senate Enrolled Act 560, passed by the legislature this year. The measure allows utilities to pay for certain infrastructure improvements through surcharges called "trackers" added to customer bills.
For more info on the proposal or submitting a comment, visit http://www.in.gov/oucc/2747.htm
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Van Til Trial Won't Start Monday

Reports say the public corruption trial scheduled to begin this Monday for Lake County Surveyor George Van Til has been postponed until December 9th. Van Til's attorney had filed a motion in federal court asking for more time. Van Til pleaded not guilty in Hammond Federal Court after being accused of using county employees to do campaign work. He's been Lake County's Surveyor for more than twenty years.
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Powerball Jackpot Up to $196 Million

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Some facts and figures about a couple of big jackpots this weekend, courtesy of the Hoosier Lottery:
INDIANAPOLIS (July 26, 2013) - At $196 million, Saturday's Powerball jackpot is the stuff dreams are made of.  At $13 million, and thirteen weeks without a winner, Saturday's Hoosier Lotto jackpot is the stuff dreams - and superstitions - are made of.
Superstitious or not, at the Hoosier Lottery, the number "13" is a historicaly significant number. The Hoosier Lottery opened it's doors and sold its first ticket on Friday, October 13, 1989.  If a player is lucky enough to win Saturday's Hoosier Lotto jackpot they will need to claim their $13 million prize at Hoosier Lottery Headquarters, which is located at the intersection of Meridian and 13th Street in Indianapolis (1302 N. Meridian Street to be exact).
When it comes to Powerball jackpot wins, Hoosiers have historically been pretty lucky.  The Hoosier Lottery leads the pack nationwide.  Hoosier Lottery retailers have sold a record 38 Powerball jackpot winning tickets over the years.  That's more than any other state.  With the recent addition of California to the game, Powerball is now played in 43 states, Washington D.C. and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Not only does Indiana hold the record for most jackpot wins, but 25 Powerball players in Indiana have also won $1 million prizes playing Powerball or Powerball with Power Play. 
Thirteen lucky Indiana players have won $1 million Powerball prizes since January 2012, including four already in 2013.
The most recent Powerball jackpot prize in Indiana was a $74 million jackpot win in Merrillville in April 2011. The largest Powerball prize ever won in Indiana was a $314.3 million jackpot won in Richmond in August 2007.
Players in Indiana have until 9:58 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday night to purchase their shot at the $196 million Powerball jackpot.   If they want to try their luck at Hoosier Lotto's lucky $13 million, they have until 10:39 p.m. (Eastern) Saturday to get their $1 tickets.
Players don't have to wait until Saturday to try their luck.  Friday night's Mega Millions drawing offers a $19 million jackpot.
The Hoosier Lottery reminds all players to play responsibly. Must be 18 or older to play.  Gambling Addiction Referral Line: 800-994-8448.  
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Three Gas Utilities Fined

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission has announced they are seeking a total of 180-thousand dollars in proposed penalties from Merrillville-based Northern Indiana Public Service Company and two other major gas utilities in the state, Citizens Gas and Vectren, for pipeline safety violations. The I-U-R-C says the companies failed to follow procedures and keep accurate maps and records of underground facilities, resulting in mislocating or not locating pipelines in accordance with the state's “Call Before You Dig” laws. IURC Chairman Jim Atterholt says a deadly gas pipeline explosion three years ago in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno, California, was a “tragic wake up call”.

NIPSCO issued a statement saying, "Public safety and the safety of our employees is a top priority, and we take that responsibility seriously.

"NIPSCO, along with every utility in the country, has an obligation to its customers to continually operate and maintain a safe energy infrastructure.

"NIPSCO has upgraded its systems and internal procedures to improve performance in responding to locate requests received throughout the year, and will continue to investigate and implement further measures to reduce pipeline damages.

"The additional action required by the Commission recognized the corrective steps already identified by NIPSCO," the company said.
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Fire Training Provided to Inmates

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Eleven inmates at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City are being certified as firefighters. The Indiana Department of Homeland Security collaborated with the Indiana Department of Correction to provide the training this week, which included classroom and hands-on lessons in topics like fire behavior and ventilation. The Indiana State Prison had earlier established an offender fire department, but this is the first time certified fire training was conducted inside the facility. Upon graduating, the inmates will be certified to fight interior fires.    William K. Wilson, Superintendent of the Indiana State Prison stated, “This certification will benefit them when they return to their communities and will allow them to give back to the community”.
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[Photos/Indiana Department of Correction]
About the Indiana State Prison:
This Indiana State Prison (ISP) was built in 1860, and is the oldest correctional facility in operation for the Department. ISP is located on 102 acres of land on Michigan City’s west side. The physical plant consists of 51 buildings, which include 13 offender-housing units, steam plant, garage, warehouse, industries buildings, and five staff housing units. The main walled compound surrounds 24 acres of land. Located on the same grounds, outside the wall is the unit dedicated to house the medium-minimum security offenders....

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Multiple Sobriety Checkpoints Planned

Multiple sobriety checkpoints will occur in the Region this weekend. The Lowell District of the Indiana State Police will conduct a sobriety checkpoint during the late evening hours in Porter County tonight [July 26, 2013]. Troopers say motorists who encounter a checkpoint will be required to produce a valid license and registration and can expect delays of two-to-three minutes if they're not impaired and there's no other reason to be detained. The Hammond Police Department says they will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint this weekend as part of the Lake County Drunk Driving Task Force with funding provided by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. And, the Lake County Traffic Safety Partnership has announced they're conducting a sobriety checkpoint in Hobart sometime this weekend.
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NWI RDA Considers EC Request

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The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority Board of Directors is considering a 39-million dollar funding application from the City of East Chicago. It would go toward a project to create a public-private partnership for spur economic development in the North Harbor area.
The board this week also approved a request for Deal Closing Funds from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, currently in negotiations with a company considering Northwest Indiana. Due to the sensitive nature of the talks, no further details were made available. The board says no RDA funds will be used unless a deal is finalized.
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Services for Former State Sen William Costas

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Visitation is scheduled today (Fri Jul 26 2013) and funeral services tomorrow (Saturday) for former northwest Indiana state lawmaker and Region grocery store owner William Costas of Valparaiso. William Costas passed away at his home Tuesday at the age of 84. Costas, who was born in Detroit, founded Wilco Foods in Miller in 1962, then owned and operated Costas Foods from 1972 to 1998. Costas served two terms in the Indiana State Senate from 1980 to 1988. Costas is the father of Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas.
Visitation is Friday, July 26, 2013 from 2:00-8:00 p.m. at Liberty Bible Church, 824 N. Calumet Avenue in Chesterton.   The funeral service will begin Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. at the church with Rev. Robert Nienhuis officiating. Burial will be at Angelcrest Cemetery in Valparaiso.
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Gary Youth to Clean Up Graffiti

In less than a month, Gary's Youth Services Bureau hopes to mobilize one-hundred youth to take the first step in Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's challenge to young people in Gary to remove all the city’s graffiti. The bureau's director Patrick Barry is recruiting participants now, to remove and paint over graffiti in the first targeted area: along Broadway, from 6th to 21st Avenues. For info on the August 7th event, contact the Gary Youth Services Bureau.
City officials say this service learning activity will be the official kick-off of the Gary Youth Services Bureau’s “TEAM S.T.E.E.L.” (Service, Training, Engagement and Experiential Learning). This group is open to young people middle school to college age and will meet monthly to participate in training and experience based service learning activities. Youth who participate on this team will learn about relevant issues in the city, have a direct impact on addressing those issues, develop a sense of community pride and feel more equipped, empowered and engaged in helping to build a better Gary for themselves, their families and the future.
To register youth to participate visit the Gary Youth Services Bureau located at 839 Broadway, Suite S202 between the hours of 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. For more information contact the Youth Service Bureau at (219) 881-5270.
Additionally, city officials announced a Youth for Change Rally this Saturday, July 27:
In March of 2013, recent high school graduate David King launched a Youth Movement for Change which included a city-wide Youth March for Change. This marked the beginning of a youth-led movement to actualize young people’s vision to see a stronger, safer, more united Gary. King has since teamed up with the City of Gary’s Youth Services Bureau to expand the movement to include a citywide Youth Rally for Change, which will be held Saturday July 27, 2013, from 11a to 1p at Indiana University Northwest, Savannah Center, 3400 Broadway Gary, Indiana.
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