Local News

The work to clean up the homes around the West Calumet Housing Complex continues in East Chicago. The EPA says there are things you can do protect your families from the high lead  levels. Steven Lattimore has the story 

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Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Indiana Department of Transportation officials say an unreasonable request led to Iowa Pacific Holdings removing itself from a deal to run the Hoosier State passenger train.

But Iowa Pacific’s CEO says a quirk in the contracts between his company, INDOT and Amtrak doomed the partnership.

Ed Ellis says his firm’s compensation from the deal decreased each time on-time performance improved.

“The way the contracts worked, we ended up getting less money as the train ran more on time,” Ellis says.

A Senate lawmaker wants the Hoosier Lottery to create a new scratch-off game to benefit homeless veterans.

Sen. Ron Alting’s (R-Lafayette) bill would allow the Hoosier Lottery to create a new scratch-off game. Money from the game would go into a Veterans Homelessness Assistance Fund, created by the bill.

Alting says those dollars would flow, via grants, to organizations that help homeless veterans.

“It goes for temporary housing and yes it goes for clothing and yes it can go for hygiene and yes it can go for medical expense and so forth,” Alting says.

Million’s of refugees are hoping that they can find saftey from the bombings at home in places like the United States. But President Trump wants to stop all Muslim immigration amid fears of bringing terrorists in to the country. Steven Latimore talked  to a local group that is trying to help.

 

Lawmakers Confident In Hoosier State Rail Line Funding

Jan 27, 2017

 

As lawmakers grapple with funding the state’s roads and bridges, many communities don’t want them to forget another mode of transportation: rail. And Republican leaders say the Hoosier State Rail Line’s future in the next two-year state budget should be secure.

Lawmakers provided $6 million in the last two-year budget for the Hoosier State Line from Indianapolis to Chicago. The money came from a one-time source, the state’s tax amnesty program.

Indiana Black Caucus Lays Out 2017 Agenda

Jan 26, 2017

 

The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus’ agenda for the 2017 session is nearly as much about bills they want to halt as measures they hope to pass.

The caucus’ agenda includes bias crimes legislation, a measure to ban private prisons, a healthy food initiative and a bill to improve student discipline and behavior.

And while Rep. Greg Porter (D-Indianapolis) acknowledges the difficulty in getting many of those bills passed, he says the caucus constantly seeks common ground.

Joe Flintham
https://www.flickr.com/photos/joeflintham/

A governor-approved bill that would give Indiana counties and municipalities the ability to set up their own syringe exchanges passed its first hurtle, clearing the House Committee on Public Health Wednesday afternoon.

Senator Backs Off Proposal To Raise Officeholder Pay

Jan 25, 2017

 

A Republican state senator is backing off a proposed bill to significantly increase pay for statewide elected officials.

Sen. Randy Head’s (R-Logansport) legislation – heard in committee this week – would raise the governor’s salary up to $141,000 a year, a 16 percent increase. Other statewide officials, including attorney general and auditor, would make about $120,000, increases of anywhere between 26 to 52 percent.

Donnelly Will Oppose DeVos for Education Secretary

Jan 25, 2017

Indiana U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly said he will oppose Betsy DeVos President Trump’s pick for education secretary.

In a video posted Wednesday, Donnelly described DeVos as having a lack of commitment to public education.

"I am concerned she will not prioritize efforts that are important to Hoosier families such as: expanding access to early childhood education, improving our public schools, and empowering student borrowers and reducing federal student loan debt," he said.

 

This session’s major road funding bill cleared its first legislative hurdle as the House Roads Committee approved the measure, largely along party lines.

Around four dozen people – most of whom represented various stakeholder organizations – testified for more than four hours on the road funding bill.

Indiana Unemployment Rate Lowest In 15 Years

Jan 24, 2017

 

Indiana’s unemployment rate is at its lowest in more than 15 years.

The Indiana unemployment rate declined two-tenths of a percent in December, falling to 4 percent. That’s the third consecutive month the rate went down. It’s the largest three-month decline in nearly two years. And 4 percent is Indiana’s lowest rate since May 2001.

Yet the state’s private sector lost 6,000 jobs last month. Almost all of that – 5,900 jobs – came from the private education services sector. Only the manufacturing and construction industries added jobs in December.

Hundreds of anti-Trump protestors flooded the streets around the Porter Country court house in Valparaiso this weekend to make their feelings known. They say the liberal agenda has more support than the people in Washington realize and the over 500 protestors that  showed up is proof. Steven Lattimore was there and has the story.

The mood at the watch party on the Ivy Tech Community College Gary Campus for the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States is quieter than past inauguration parties, so says Campus President Marlon Mitchell.

Some students like Laiaja Donson  "looked like" they were attending the watch party but they were just lounging in the students' common area. Donson was waiting for her Psychology class to start.  

GOP Leaders Split On Tolling Existing Roads

Jan 20, 2017

 

A split is forming among Indiana Republican leaders over the use of tolling existing roadways as a solution for the state’s road funding needs.

After Gov. Eric Holcomb’s State of the State address, Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) expressed enthusiasm that Holcomb indicated that every road funding solution proposed by House Republicans was on the table, with one, in Bosma’s words, “minor exception.” That exception is tolling existing roadways.

Before leaving office, former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence denied an emergency declaration request from the city of East Chicago, Indiana. But East Chicago State Rep. Earl Harris, Jr. is hopeful new Gov. Eric Holcomb will still consider one.

The Calumet neighborhood of East Chicago has lead and arsenic contamination in its soil at 200 times the legal limit.

Harris says the request isn’t something the city asked for lightly.

“I didn’t know if there was a lack of understanding or what the situation was but really we need, needed, and still need more help,” Harris says.

At the Veterans Cafe and Grill in Merrilville, they measure success by not only the food served but the help that the owners offer to veterans -- in some cases, saving lives.  Lakeshore Public Radio's Steven Lattimore visited the eatery on Taft Street.

The United Fresh Start Foundation will be donating the equipment to provide salad bar to the East Chicago School system. Experts say fruits and vegetables can help with the absorption of lead into the body. Steven Lattimore has the story

  

The five priorities the ISDH focuses on include addressing the opioid epidemic, reducing infant mortality rates, reducing adult obesity rates, reducing adult smoking rates, ensuring preparedness for infectious disease and getting people enrolled in the Healthy Indiana Plan.

East Chicago Lawsuit

Jan 12, 2017

Seven residents of the lead and arsenic–polluted East Chicago, Indiana neighborhood want to join the Environmental Protection Agency’s lawsuit against the companies paying for the cleanup. The residents argue neither party represents their interests, and they want more say. David Chizewer is one of their attorneys—he says its an uncommon tactic, but an important step.

“So that they can have a voice in any changes that need to be made to the clean up process, because, as it’s gone forward so far, it’s been inadequate.”

The state board of education released district A-F grades Wednesday for the 2015-2016 school year. More than 150 schools saw their rating dip, with 90 percent of Indiana schools receiving a B or C rating.

Only 23 school corporations received an A rating. Gary Community Schools in northwest Indiana received the state’s single F rating.

President Obama's Farewell Speech

Jan 11, 2017
Sharon Jackson / Lakeshore Public Media

The Hammond mayor is installing 33 license plate reader camera's to track cars coming into the city from Chicago.The plans was prompted by the alarming rise in murders in Chicago to 762.

City officials say the  data collected could be used to catch criminals.

Visclosky Town Hall

Jan 9, 2017

Indiana Public Media

Today:   Tom Pappas from the city of Portage's veterans committee will offer the latest news of interest to Region veterans and talk about the latest activities of the group.

We'll hear from Lakeshore Public Radio's Sharon Jackson with her conversation with Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr.  about getting ride of an eyesore in his city's Hessville neighborhood.

An old car wash at 169th and Kennedy in Hammond, that Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. referred to as an eyesore, is now leveled.

The structure was demolished sometime during the last two weeks of December. McDermott says it's not yet known what is going to go on the property.

McDermott says the demolition is great news for Hammond's Hessville section, as well as the businesses up and down Kennedy Ave. He says eliminating that eye sore was a long time coming and now finding a new use for the property will come with a small challenge.

luerstreefarm.com / Luers Tree Farm

Region residents who want a real Christmas Tree have an entire tree farm they can go to which is local and family-owned! Luers Tree Farm, at 6303 West 91st Avenue in Crown Point started in 1976 and is still in business.

Doug Luers is a second generation owner who took over the business from his father, Bud, who started the operation while Doug was still in High School.

A Minnesota steel company is spending almost $9 million dollars to grow its operations at the Port of Indiana in Burns Harbor, as state officials say they’ll prioritize Indiana ports and infrastructure investment in 2017.

Ratner Steel Supply plans to double the size of its four-year-old operations in Portage, just east of Gary.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation says Ratner will add a few dozen jobs and expand its ability to ship steel across the Region.

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