Governor Pence Names New State Auditor

State Rep. Suzanne Crouch
Indiana Governor Mike Pence today announced Republican State Representative Suzanne Crouch of Evansville as Auditor of State for Indiana.  She will complete the term held by Dwayne Sawyer which runs through 2014.  “Suzanne Crouch has a lifetime of experience and a heart for public service,” said Governor Pence.  “Suzanne’s fiscal leadership in the Indiana General Assembly, her distinguished public career in local government, and financial background will be valuable assets to our state.” 
Crouch served two terms as the Auditor of Vanderburgh County, and was president of the Vanderburgh County Board of Commissioners. She was elected to the Indiana General Assembly in 2005 and serves as Vice Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.   The Auditor of the State has four primary duties: accounting for all of the state’s funds; overseeing and disbursing county, city, town and school tax distributions; paying the state’s bills; and paying the state’s employees.
Crouch received her degree from Purdue University.  She is married to Larry Downs, and they have one daughter.
Erin Sheridan, the Chief of Staff for the Office of the Auditor, is serving as Auditor on an interim basis until  January 2, 2014....

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Two Taken into Custody After Alarms at Portillo's

In Merrillville, two male suspects were taken into custody after police responded to panic alarms at Portillo's Restaurant off US 30 late Sunday night. At about 11 pm, officers confronted the individuals as they were trying to flee, police say, it was later discovered that three employees had been handcuffed and duct-taped, and that the suspects allegedly forced the manager to open a safe and stole cash inside. The men were pursued on foot, and one was caught behind a nearby Shell station, and the other on a snowy hill behind the Staples store. Police say the second individual's head struck the pavement as he fought with the arresting officer. He was immediately transported to an area hospital, then released to Merrillville Police. Authorities say the suspect vehicle was located in the parking lot of Deluxe Inn, which is directly east of Staples. Charges are pending and police are asking anyone with information to contact Merrillville Chief of Detectives Robert Wiley at 219-769-3722 ext. 360....

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Merrillville Police Investigate Death of Lake Village Man

In Merrillville, police are asking for the public's help as they investigate the death of a Lake Village man. Merrillville police say during the course of the Lake County Coroner's office investigation, it was learned that 28-year-old Jacob Oxley was involved in an altercation this past Thursday night, December 12, at the Operating Engineers Hall Local 150 in Merrillville at approximately 10:30 pm. Authorities say Oxley passed away the next day, December 13. Video footage was recovered by Merrillville detectives, and a male suspect was subsequently held at Lake County Jail pending charges. Anyone with information is asked to contact Chief of Detectives Robert Wiley at the Merrillville Police Department at 219-769-3722 ext. 360.  ...

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'Quick Burst' of Snow Likely in the Region

The National Weather Service in Chicago says conditions are very favorable for a short period of moderate to briefly heavy snowfall along and north of a line from Rockford to Aurora to Valparaiso this afternoon and early evening (Mon Dec 16).  Meteorologists say a fast moving disturbance will move southeast bringing snow to the Chicago metro area by around 3 pm and to Northwest Indiana by early evening.  The most intense snow may last only two or three hours, forecasters say, but up to two inches are possible. A major concern with this snow event will be its impact on the afternoon rush hour around Chicago and the Region today....

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Elderly Gary Man Victim of Homicide

Officials say a 75-year-old Gary man was pronounced dead at his apartment Saturday night after an apparent homicide. The Lake County Coroners office was dispatched to the 100 block of East 53rd Avenue just before 5:30 pm. Authorities say the victim, identified as Zan Davenport, Jr., suffered blunt force trauma. Gary Police and Lake County C-S-I are also investigating. Gary has recorded more than fifty homicides this year. There were 43 in the city in 2012....

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Two Killed, Groom Aiding Stranded Motorist

Nikki and Riley Knight; Linda Darlington
Lake County Sheriffs Police say a Crown Point man who had gotten married hours earlier and a motorist from Crown Point he stopped to assist were both killed when they were struck by three different vehicles Saturday night shortly before midnight. Officers say 49-year-old William Riley Knight, a US Army veteran and actor in local theater, was returning from his wedding reception going home with his wife when they came across a vehicle that had gone into a ditch on the shoulder in the area of West 109th Avenue and Lane Street in Crown Point. Police say as 42-year-old Linda Darlington, a first-grade teacher at Joan Martin Elementary School in Hobart, was exiting her vehicle and making her way up the embankment, Knight stopped his vehicle to offer her assistance, and the two were standing by the side of the roadway when they were struck by a passenger vehicle traveling eastbound on 109th Avenue, then hit again by two other vehicles, police say. All drivers remained on scene. Police say Knight's wife, who was in the car her husband had parked in a nearby driveway, was not injured. Sheriffs spokesperson Patti Van Til says all drivers at the scene were issued field sobriety tests with no indications of alcohol. No citations were issued and no arrests were made, and police continue to investigate. [Photos/Facebook]...

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INDOT: NB I-65 Reopens at the Borman

In Lake County, the Indiana Department of Transportation reports northbound Interstate 65 at the I-80/94 interchange has reopened.  I-65 northbound was closed at the Borman Expressway for several hours today after a semi-tanker hauling what officials described as hazardous materials overturned.  No word at this time what those hazardous materials were.  The lengthy closure was due to the fact that special crews had to be called in to move the semi.  The Indiana Department of Transportation says a special crew had to offload the potentially dangerous material. ...

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South Shore Train Update

Due to the NIPSCO utility problem, the eastbound extra scheduled to depart Millennium at 4:25pm has been cancelled.  All other scheduled eastbound trains will operate.  South Shore train service has resumed between South Bend and Michigan City.  Here's a link to NICTD (Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District):

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Mega Millions Jackpot Soars to $550 Million

There will be another drawing for one of the largest jackpots in US history. The Mega Millions lottery drawing was held Friday night, and officials say no one won the big prize.  Tuesday's drawing will be for 550-million dollars. Organizers say they sold 40 percent more tickets than they thought they would.   Friday night's drawing, for 425-million dollars, was the second-largest in the game's history. Mega Millions changed the odds in October, upping the number of the first five balls drawn, and Illinois State Lottery Director Mike Jones says that may be why there hasn't been a winner in a while. ...

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Hazardous Winter Weather Outlook Update

All winter weather advisories and warnings for the Region have been cancelled.  The National Weather Service Chicago received a report of nearly 6 inches of snow in Beverly Shores as of early this afternoon, about 5-and-a-half inches in Kentland, and about five in DeMotte.
The latest forecast for Northwest Indiana shows scattered snow showers continuing into the evening hours, possibly some lake effect snow tonight, and turning colder tonight with a low of about 14. Additional flurries and/or scattered snow showers are in the outlook for the rest of the weekend.
National Weather Service Chicago website:

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