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Whiting Takes Possession of Former Illiana Hotel

The City of Whiting recently announced it has officially taken possession of the former Illiana Hotel at 119th Street and Atchison Avenue through the county property tax sale process. City officials say the action was necessary to facilitate redevelopment. The city says it plans to assess the building's overall condition and seek a partnership with a private developer for a full renovation. ...

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Horizon to Acquire Summit Community Bank

Michigan City-based Horizon Bancorp has announced plans to expand their current market presence in southwestern Michigan by acquiring Summit Community Bank through a stock and cash merger.  Summit Community Bank is headquartered in East Lansing and serves the greater Lansing area through two full-service banking locations. Horizon Bancorp’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Horizon Bank, operates under its original charter, dating back to 1873, with a footprint of twenty-nine offices extending throughout northern and central Indiana as well as southwestern Michigan.
“We are enthusiastic about this merger which is consistent with Horizon’s philosophy of partnering with banks that hold core values similar to ours and a commitment to serving their local communities,” said Horizon’s Chief Executive Officer, Craig M. Dwight.  “Summit Community Bank was founded with the goal of contributing to the success of their customers by offering creative financial solutions based upon sound financial advice, being ever mindful of the communities they serve. This stems from their most basic goal to preserve the values of community banking.”
 
Dwight explained that the Summit merger provides an excellent opportunity to expand Horizon’s current market presence in southwestern Michigan into the state’s vibrant capital region. This expansion will also complement Horizon’s entry into Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Horizon recently announced the hiring of a senior lender in charge of building a loan production team. Grand Rapids and Lansing represent Michigan’s second and third largest metropolitan areas, respectively. “We believe establishing a significant presence in these larger markets will provide Horizon with substantial growth opportunities, a key component to our future success,” Dwight commented.
“The team of experienced bankers at Summit Community Bank will continue to be led by John W. Abbott, Summit’s President and Chief Executive Officer, to solidify our shared philosophies of exceptional customer service and commitment to community banking,” continued Dwight.  Horizon has a track record of establishing local advisory boards to maintain the pulse of the local community.  Dwight indicated that such an advisory board will be established and appointed by Mr. Abbott for the greater Lansing area.

Mr. Abbott stated, “We are excited to become part of the Horizon Bank family and the increased opportunities this provides our customers and community.  Horizon’s demonstrated commitment to preserve true community banking, which means local decision-making, community involvement, and personal one-on-one service, will be keys to our joint success.”
 
The transaction is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2014, subject to approval by federal and state regulatory authorities and SCB shareholders as well as the satisfaction of other closing conditions provided in the merger agreement.  The merger agreement also provides that Summit Community Bank will be merged into Horizon Bank, the wholly-owned subsidiary of Horizon Bancorp.
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Valpo Redev Commission Executive Dir Leaving

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The Executive Director of the Valparaiso Redevelopment Commission has announced he will leave the position effective the end of this year. Stuart Summers has served with the Redevelopment Commission since 1995 and was appointed executive director in 2002.
“I have been involved in numerous projects during my time with the Commission,” Summers said, “and I have thoroughly enjoyed serving Valparaiso.  Summers commented that he believes that with the recent signing of the Pratt expansion project it would be a good time to move on. “I will still be around, and I will assist in helping the transition (to a new Executive Director) go smoothly."
Summers, 58, said he will focus on his other business interests and personal objectives. Summers owns Excel Driving Instruction in Valparaiso, does governmental consulting and is a resolution arbitrator for FINRA (Financial Industry Regulatory Authority)....

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Discussion on Whiting's Stadium District Plan

Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura presented an overview of the city's Stadium District plan Wednesday, noting there's no guarantee that properties on the acquisition list will ever be acquired. The proposed development area includes land north of 121st Street and east of Schrage Avenue. The plan says properties in the area include some of the oldest in the community, but that many are in disrepair and several high-volume police call properties exist within the district's boundaries.  The mayor spoke at Wednesday's Redevelopment Commission meeting.  To view the plan, visit http://www.whitingindiana.com/intranet/Plans_and_Reports/2013_WRC_Plan_Information.pdf

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Sentencing in Sexting Case Delayed for Former Teacher

Sentencing for a former Portage Middle School teacher who pleaded guilty on two-counts of felony child solicitation, originally scheduled for today will now take place on November 27th after the judge stated she was not prepared to accept his plea agreement. The plea deal calls for 45 year old Bryan Tyman to spend six years on probation, the first of which on home detention and to register as a sex offender for ten-years. He would also lose his Indiana teaching license. Tyman admitted in September to sending sexually-themed text messages to three female students from December 2011 to December 2012....

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Porter County Recorder Offers eRecording Service

Porter County Recorder Jon Miller announced today the implementation of electronic recording as a new service their office provides to the public. The Recorder's Office will be able to electronically record deeds, mortgages and other documents in cooperation with the Porter County Assessor and County Auditor. Miller says the more efficient process will reduce the turnaround time on processing documents, which in turn expedites the return of important personal documents back to the public.
Miller says other benefits of electronic recording include:
• The manual process associated with paper processing is reduced from days to just minutes.
• eRecording wins “The Race to the Courthouse” - eDocuments beat ones submitted via the mail or a courier
• Direct cost savings in postage, overnight shipping and delayed processing
• Fewer rejections and faster corrections: eRecording eliminates rejections for incorrect fees. Rejected documents can be resubmitted in hours vs. days.
If you are interested in eRecording, please visit http://www.porterco.org/index.aspx?nid=202...

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Wreath Silent Auction to Benefit Needy Families

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(Photos Courtesy of Franciscan Alliance)
An event to benefit underprivileged families kicked off on Monday. Michelle Payne, Director of Customer Relations and Satisfaction Department for Franciscan St. Anthony Health in Crown Point, says the public is invited to participate in their 7th Annual Christmas Wreath Silent Auction, just stop by the hospital's main lobby, view the 28 wreaths on display, place your bid on the bid sheet and the highest bid wins.
Payne says the goal of the auction is to provide at least 20 needy families one-hundred dollar gift cards from the sale of the wreaths. The Christmas Wreath Silent Auction continues through 9am Monday, November 18th.
wreath auction2 ...

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Ritz and CECI Dispute Halts Education Board Meeting

The Indiana State Board of Education today took the first step in overhauling the A-through-F grading system. The Board voted 9-to-1 to replace the 1st through 4th grade point average scale with a 100-point measure, but that is where the progress ended as the meeting was brought to a halt after State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz adjourned the meeting. Ritz says a resolution written by Governor Mike Pence's Center for Education and Career Innovation, which operates separately from the Department of Education, brought the meeting to a halt because it improperly inserted State Board of Education staff to take over the academic standards review process, which she called a violation of the law. Ritz says she has requested an advisory opinion from the Attorney General on the improper motion. A Board member withdrew the motion after Ritz left the meeting, but it is unclear whether the meeting had actually ended or was still in progress. ...

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Donnelly Urges Senate to Close Skills Gap

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Indiana US Senator Joe Donnelly this morning spoke on the Senate floor to urge his colleagues to focus their attention on growing and creating jobs in the manufacturing industry.  Donnelly is a part of a group of senators behind the Manufacturing Jobs for America effort aimed at passing bipartisan legislation to help businesses create jobs and help communities pursue economic development in manufacturing. 
Donnelly said, “Good jobs allow us to provide for our loved ones, educate our children, and ultimately retire with dignity.  Good jobs are also critical for strong communities and a vibrant economy. That’s why I’m proud to be a part of the group of senators working on ‘Manufacturing Jobs for America,’ an effort to refocus the Senate on helping businesses create jobs and helping communities pursue economic development in the area of manufacturing.”
Many jobs are being left unfilled because employers say they struggle to find workers with the skills needed. It is estimated that up to 600,000 manufacturing jobs are left unfilled due to an undertrained workforce.
Two of Donnelly’s bills address closing this ‘skills gap’ and are included in the Manufacturing Jobs for America effort, the Skills Gap Strategy Act and the AMERICA Works Act.  The Skills Gap Strategy Act would direct the Department of Labor to develop a goal-oriented strategy using existing resources to better address the skills gap.  The AMERICA Works Act would modify existing federal training programs so that they place a priority on programs and certifications that are recognized and demanded by industry.
To view a video of Donnelly's remarks, visit &feature=youtu.be">&feature=youtu.be
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Senator Landske Diagnosed with Lung Cancer

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(Photo Courtesy of Senator Landske's Office)
Indiana State Senator Sue Landske, of Cedar Lake, announced today that she has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Landske says she has worked hard throughout her tenure in the Senate to be upfront with her constituents, which is why is informing the public of this very personal issue. Landske says she has no plans to step away from her official duties in the Senate, where she also currently serves as the Assistant President Pro-Tem and is chair of the Senate Elections Committee, and will begin treatment immediately in Chicago. She says her doctors are confident she will make a full recovery.  Landske was elected to the state Senate in 1984....

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