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Hearing on Redistricting Postponed

The Porter County Board of Commissioners postponed a planned hearing Tuesday on a redistricting plan for four county council districts. Commission President John Evans said the proposal needed additional tweaking and rescheduled it for December 17th. In October, county officials got word of research by students at DePauw University in 2011 and 2012 claiming population between districts is not as equal as it should be as per state law. However, the accuracy of data used in the study has been called into question. Other concerns have been raised about the fairness of redistricting so late in this year, with filing opening up in January for the 2014 elections. Officials say redistricting has to take place during an odd-numbered year. The county began looking into redistricting in late 2011, but did not take action....

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Cedar Lake Trying to Help Blind Woman Keep Home

In Cedar Lake, town council members Tuesday night took action in the latest of attempts within the community to help a blind woman keep her longtime home. The council directed the town attorney to look into trying to buy the property where 67-year-old Dolores Pittman has lived for over a half-century, then allowing her to stay there through possibly a life estate agreement. Published reports say through a series of events that began years ago, the small plot of land ended up on a county tax sale list, unbeknownst to Pittman, and sold out from under her for 43-dollars. Pittman's family bought the house decades ago, and was paying rent on the land, and when a church group that used to own the land divested itself of the property, property tax bills for the parcel began mounting up. Donations have come in to help the woman move, in advance of her anticipated eviction....

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Two Region Mayors Take Stand Against Amendment

Two Region mayors are among a dozen from both sides of the aisle across the state who officially announced their opposition Tuesday to a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Indiana. Democrat Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. and Republican Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas both said they want people to be welcome in their cities.
Mayor McDermott says his city has passed a resolution stating their "inclusiveness of all people, regardless of sexual orientation." McDermott called the amendment "backwards thinking, on the wrong side of history and not part of what I know as Hoosier hospitality."
Mayor Costas says the amendment is unnecessary as Indiana law already defines a marriage as between a woman and a man. He says as a conservative, he feels government should be limited, and not unduly intrude into social issues that are best left to individuals, families, and faith communities. He also says it would hinder opportunities for economic growth.
The group of mayors have launched Mayors for Freedom - a coalition dedicated to defeating the proposal.
Here is their news release with statements from each of the mayors:
Indiana Mayors Stand with Freedom Indiana, Speak Out against HJR-6
December 3, 2013
INDIANAPOLIS – Today, Mayors from across the state of Indiana stood with Freedom Indiana and spoke out against HJR-6, the proposed amendment to the Indiana Constitution that would permanently define marriage and would remove existing protections under law for same-sex and unmarried couples and families.
The bipartisan group of Indiana mayors oppose the amendment for a variety of reasons but they all agree the language should not be added to the state’s constitution.
“We’re proud to stand with these mayors from across our state as champions of freedom for all Hoosiers,” said Freedom Indiana campaign manager Megan Robertson. “They represent cities large and small, and they understand that this amendment will make it harder for them to build their local economies, recruit new residents and maintain existing protections for same-sex and unmarried couples.”
More information: freedomindiana.org/mayors
Statements from Individual Mayors Opposing HJR-6
Mayor Greg Ballard – Indianapolis
“I understand that many people hold differing views on this subject, but Indiana law already defines marriage and I don’t see the overriding government interest in adding such an amendment to our state’s constitution. Indy is renowned for its ‘Hoosier hospitality’ and working hard to attract new jobs and people to our city. My hope is that we can continue to work together and focus on those things that make Indy a place where people want to live, work and raise a family.”
Mayor Jim Brainard – Carmel
“I am a Republican and believe in limited government. Government is not the institution that should decide who is allowed to marry. Moreover, Indiana law already covers this issue and therefore, it is not necessary to add it to the Indiana Constitution. Our government needs to be focused on attracting and retaining good jobs and improving public education for future generations.”
Mayor Tom Henry – Fort Wayne
“Each day in Fort Wayne we’re working hard to attract and retain businesses, jobs, and families. Our City is committed to being a welcoming place for families and individuals seeking great opportunities, friendly neighborhoods and a strong sense of community. We’re asking the Indiana General Assembly to focus its attention on issues that help cities across our state be more competitive in economic development and position us for future growth and success with a quality of life that is unmatched.”
Mayor Pete Buttigieg – South Bend
“Indiana’s constitution exists in order to protect rights and freedoms, not take them away. Our state must be welcoming and respectful of all individuals, or we will be left behind. Changing the constitution in order to deny certain protections to some Hoosier families would send the exact wrong message as we work to grow and develop a competitive economy in cities like South Bend.”
Mayor Jon Costas – Valparaiso
“I am opposed to amending our state constitution to prohibit gay marriage for a number of reasons.  First, Indiana law already defines a marriage as only between a woman and a man.  Thus, the amendment is unnecessary.  Second, as a conservative, I feel that government should be limited, and not unduly intrude into social issues that are best left to individuals, families, and faith communities.   And finally, as a mayor who wants to foster a welcoming, diverse and collaborative community, I believe the amendment would portray Indiana in a negative light and hinder opportunities for economic growth.”
Mayor Thomas McDermott – Hammond
“In Hammond we wanted to make sure that all people feel welcome and so we passed a resolution through the city council that I signed as mayor stating our inclusiveness of all people, regardless of sexual orientation. The path that the legislators who support this amendment are taking only makes certain groups feel unwelcome in our state. It’s backwards thinking, on the wrong side of history and not part of what I know as Hoosier hospitality. I will do anything I can to help defeat this amendment that I consider in contravention of what Indiana should be doing on this important civil rights issue.”
Mayor Mark Kruzan – Bloomington
“Bloomington benefits economically because it’s a welcoming community in which people want to live, visit, and grow a business.  HJR-6, in addition to being an unnecessary infringement of basic rights, threatens the business-friendly reputation of Indiana cities.”
Mayor Kevin Smith – Anderson
“In Anderson, our focus is to create an environment attractive to business – one where those businesses can grow. We actively work to recruit businesses to our city not just locally or nationally but globally.  HJR-6 harms those efforts. It is important that Indiana remain a welcoming community focused on those things that can grow our economy.”
Mayor John Dennis –  West Lafayette
“The City of West Lafayette prides itself on being a diverse, tolerant and welcoming community. For years we have been a state-wide leader in celebrating our diversity and ensuring that all our citizens are treated with respect. Because of this guiding philosophy, West Lafayette and the Greater Lafayette community has celebrated having over a billion dollars of new investment for 2013. HJR-6 sends the wrong message for our City, for our community and  for our state.”
Mayor Greg Goodnight – Kokomo
“HJR-6 is bad for Kokomo and for our state. This amendment sends the wrong message at a time when we are competing for new residents and businesses.   The legislature should be focusing on how we reduce the number of vacant foreclosed homes in our cities, and on how we get Hoosiers back to work instead of this unnecessary amendment.”
Mayor Richard Hickman – Angola
“Equality means equality for all. Equal rights means equal rights for all. To take these rights away from one group of people means we can take them away or deny them to anyone we don’t understand or agree with.”
Freedom Indiana is a bipartisan statewide organization that champions liberty for all Hoosiers. The organization is opposed to an amendment that would permanently alter the Indiana Constitution to define marriage and could potentially affect hundreds of rights related to marriage under current Indiana law. Freedom Indiana launched in August 2013....

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Illinois Passes Pension Reform

Illinois lawmakers have just passed sweeping pension reform to stave off a 100 billion dollar crisis. ABC News reports lawmakers narrowly passed the overhaul, which raises the retirement age, reduces cost of living increases, and creates a 401k type option. Those in favor, including House Speaker Michael Madigan, say they had no choice... (Continuing to do nothing will further erode the state's credit rating, and our ability to attract and maintain businesses and people.) The deal is designed to save the state 160 billion dollars over 30 years. But once signed into law, the unions are expected to fight it in court....

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St. John PD Investigating Report of Home Invasion

In St. John, police continue to investigate after a homeowner in the 12-thousand block of 2nd Avenue reported discovering four to five suspects in his home. Police report they received the call just after 11:30 this morning and say the homeowner confronted the suspects and a struggle ensued before the suspects fled the residence. Officers searched the area with squad cars, the Lake County Sheriff's helicopter and police dogs, but were unsuccessful in locating the suspects.  No injuries were reported and nothing was taken....

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NIRPC Transportation Policy Committee Approves Illiana

NIRPC vote 1
(Photos Courtesy of Karl Berner)
NIRPC vote 2
By an 18-to-8 vote, NIRPC's Transportation Policy Committee today approved a proposal to include the Illiana Expressway and the I-65 expansion projects in their 20-40 Comprehensive Regional Plan. A lengthy public comment period was held after a committee overview of the two proposals, with some speaking in favor the projects, saying benefits would include reduced truck traffic on local roads, construction jobs and it has statewide bipartisan support. Many of those in attendance came out against the projects citing a bigger need for local redevelopment, the creation of more permanent jobs and financial feasibility of the project overall.
NIRPC vote 3
With the passage of the proposal, a full NIRPC Board vote will now take place on Thursday, December 12th. If the full board approves the projects, INDOT can wrap up their Tier Two study, then take the project to the Federal Highway Administration who will then make their decision. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMjab7mwsT8

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City of Gary Announces Holiday Events

Group pic
(Photos Courtesy of the City of Gary)
Tom and Lori
(Gary, Ind.) – With a festive backdrop of holiday decorations and a luminous tree, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson joined representatives from the Gary Parks Department, Cause 2 Compete, Gary Housing Authority and the Broadway Area Community Development Corporation (CDC) at Marquette Park Pavilion to announce a host of activities that will be taking place in Gary during December.
“This is the season when we think of others and their needs, and we are excited to have a number of events in the City of Gary that will allow us to do just that,” said Freeman-Wilson. “The partnerships we have forged will once again help us to bring a series of entertaining events and generosity to many of Gary’s youth who are in need.”
The following is a list of upcoming holiday activities:
Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony
On Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 5:00p.m., there will be a Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony in Gateway Park located at 4th & Broadway. The public is invited to come out and see the lighting of various trees that were donated by local businesses.
“This is the perfect way to kick off the holiday season,” said Park Superintendent Lori Peterson-Latham. “The donated trees will be on display at one the city’s most visible entrances for all to enjoy.”
Businesses that are interested in donating a tree may call Sharon Ishman or Leslie Thomas at (219) 886-7099.
Holiday Bazaar and Carriage Rides
The Broadway Area (CDC) will host a Yuletide Carriage Ride and Stepper Set at Marquette Park Pavilion for adults on Friday, Dec. 20 from 5:00p.m. – 9:00p.m. The fun continues Saturday, Dec. 21 with a Family Fun Day complete with vendors, holiday music, photos with Santa, food and more carriage rides. Individuals who are interested in being a vendor should call (219) 455-9725.
Trot for Toys 5K Run/Walk
A first annual “Trot for Toys” 5K Run/Walk and Kiddie Fun Run 1K will be held Saturday, Dec. 21 at 10:00a.m. at Marquette Park Pavilion, 1 N. Grand Blvd. Registration begins at 8:30a.m., and there is no cost to enter. Participants are instead asked to donate a new toy valued at $10 or more.
To register for the 5K, visit cause2compete.com. Each participant will receive a collector’s t-shirt from one of the previous races from around the region (while supplies last). Parking will be available in the main beach parking lot for $5 until 9:45a.m. For more information about the race, call Tom Taylor at (219) 395-4503.
For those who would like to donate toys to this cause, drop-off locations are listed below:
Gary City Hall, 401 Broadway
City Hall Annex, 839 Broadway
Marquette Park Pavilion, 1 N. Grand Blvd.
Hudson & Campbell Fitness Center, 455 Massachusetts St.
Gary Housing Authority, 578 Broadway
All toys will be distributed to youth who are clients of several Gary shelters and residents in Gary Housing Authority properties....

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Valpo PD Seek Help to Identify Robbery Suspect

valpo robbery suspect
(Photo Courtesy of Valparaiso Police)
Police in Valparaiso are seeking the public's help to identify an armed robbery suspect. Police report they were called out to Valpo Quick Trip Convenience Store, in the 300 block of Lincolnway, at approximately 9:14pm on Monday night, and at this time, police believe it is likely that the same suspect also robbed the store on Friday, November 22nd. The suspect is described as a black male, 5'9” to 5'10”, wearing a black and red hooded sweatshirt, with a distinct diamond pattern on the sweatshirt. Anyone with any information regarding these robberies is asked to contact Valparaiso Police. ...

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Indiana State Prison Superintendent Gets Recertified

william wilson
(Photo Courtesy of Indiana State Prison)
The Superintendent of the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City was recently re-certified as a Certified Corrections Executive by the American Correctional Association. William Wilson's re-certification required the completion of 100 continuing education contact hours and he became certified by qualifying for and successfully passing a comprehensive examination that test his knowledge as a Corrections Executive. Indiana Department of Correction Commissioner Bruce Lemmon says Wilson's commitment to continuously up-date his skills epitomizes his professionalism in the corrections field and he continues to be an asset to the Indiana State Prison and the Indiana Department of Corrections. ...

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Merriville PD Wraps Up Safe Family Travels Campaign

merrillville pd
Police in Merrillville recently wrapped up their 25 day mobilization of the 2013 Safe Family Travels Seatbelt/Impaired Driving enforcement campaign, which featured 16 seatbelt patrols and two impaired driving patrols. Merrillville Police report a total of 232 citations were issued, including 147 seatbelt tickets, one child restraint citation, three DUI arrests and ten miscellaneous Misdemeanor arrests. Sgt. Kurt Horvath says while the enforcement campaign maybe over in Merrillville, it is no excuse to not wear a seatbelt and officers will continue to enforce seatbelt laws as well as continue to look for impaired drivers....

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