Local News

Lawmakers will consider legislation this session, that would create a type of early warning system to to help identify schools facing significant financial problems.

The state took over Gary and Muncie Community Schools last year after their finances reached crisis levels. Now, Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) has filed legislation to prevent more major state takeovers by catching financial problems early. He says it’s a way the state could step in to help before it’s too late.

NORTHWEST INDIANA -  Average retail gasoline prices in Northwest Indiana have risen just under 7 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.55/g Sunday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 314 gas outlets in the Region. This compares with the national average that has increased almost half a cent per gallon in the last week to $2.48/g, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy says the extreme cold weather, that exposed refineries to the elements, is to blame for the price hike.  

All Hoosier voters could cast absentee ballots by mail without any excuse under legislation advanced Monday by a Senate panel.

Under current law, a voter must provide a reason they’re voting absentee by mail – for instance, they’ll be out of town on Election Day. The bill from Sen. Frank Mrvan (D-Hammond) would eliminate that requirement – anyone could vote absentee by mail.

Bills Would Allow In-State Tuition For Undocumented Students

Jan 5, 2018

Two bills filed in the Indiana General Assembly would give different ways for immigrants who graduate from an Indiana high school to be eligible for in-state tuition.

Since 2011 Indiana makes immigrant students who cannot prove state residency pay the more expensive out-of-state tuition rate. It is one of three states with this requirement.

Sen. Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) says Senate Bill 319 would help with a priority of the Republican supermajority: to better prepare students for jobs.

While Indiana’s health ranking ticked up on a recent annual report, health leaders say there’s more work to be done. A new data tool that highlights specific issues may provide some insight into focus areas. The tool from the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana breaks down top health priorities by county.

Transportation committee leaders in the Indiana General Assembly say their work isn’t done after last session’s landmark road funding bill.

Today:  On this Reporters Roundtable edition, we check with three northwest Indiana newspaper reporters to give us stories as featured in print and online.  This week, we have "Times of Northwest Indiana" Statehouse reporter Dan Carden and business reporter Joseph Pete, and -- from the "Post-Tribune" -- Carole Carlson joins us to talk about some of her stories.

GNIAR / Realtors website

Today:  We talk with Crown Point Realtor Clarence Webb for his view on how northwest Indiana home sales went in 2017 and a look at 2018.  We also talk with Denise Rodriguez with NIPSCO about the utility's payment programs -- including the Low Income Heating Assistance Program -- and how they can help customers pay their winter heating bills and "keep the heat on" on the colest days.

Plunkett Raysich Architects

Today:  The city of Portage's veterans committee holds its first 2018 meeting on Wednesday and, to go along with that, we bring back our conversation with Marc Magill, of the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago.  He is also responsible for the operations at the VA outpatient clinics in Crown Point and other regional communities.  Marc is conducting regularly quarterly "town halls" to learn from veterans their concerns about healthcare.

Indiana State Police / Indiana State Police

NORTHWEST INDIANA - Indiana State Police were kept extremely busy responding to incidents during this past weekend's Christmas Eve winter storm.  Public Information Officer and Master Trooper Glen Fifield says the storm resulted in numerous crashes and calls for service the entire Christmas weekend for troopers working at the Lowell Post which covers Northwest Indiana.  Fifield says from the morning of December 24th until the late evening December 25th, the calls for service along I-80/94 and I-65 were numerous.

Bob Liptack, Lakeshore Public Media

Today: on this "Regionally Speaking," we revisit our conversation with Marcy Twete, head of corporate responsibility for ArcelorMittal Americas, one of the supporters of the Chi-Cal Rivers Fund.  The Fund made a total of $960,000 available  in 2017 to improve and enhance waterways and improve habitat, stormwater management and greenspace in Chicago-Calumet Region.  One of the grant recipients was "Save The Dunes."

Save The Dunes Website

"Save The Dunes" along with the Shirley Heinze Land Trust and the Dunes Learning Center will be using a Chi-Cal Rivers Fund grant for $275,000 to continue restoration work on a major branch of the Little Calumet River that flows from Porter into Lake County.  "Save The Dunes" chief executive Natalie Johnson came on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about the grant and the project.

Indiana Democratic Party Caucus

Today: we revisit our conversation with State Rep. Charlie Brown (D-Gary), who is about to begin his final session in Indianapolis next week.  He joined us live on the air back in November, the day he announced that he was not running for re-election and was interested in local public office.

We also bring back our conversation with Michael Martinez, who along with his wife Mary created "Hannah's Hope," a non-profit that honors his late daughter Hannah by helping other young people through playgrounds.

Celebs website

Local filmmaker Nick Mantis was in the studio on Tuesday to talk about the final stages of work on his documentary "Shep" -- about Hammond's "master story teller" Jean Shepherd, as told by the people who knew him, were influenced by him and help keep his memory alive -- and narrated by "Shep" himself.  Nick plans for a pilot of the documentary to come out this coming spring.

Celebs website

Today:  Local filmmaker  Nick Mantis in in the studio to talk about the final stages of work on his  documentary "Shep" -- about Hammond's "master story teller" Jean Shepherd, as told by the people who knew him, were influenced by him and help keep his memory alive -- and narrated by "Shep" himself.  Nick plans for a pilot of the documentary to come out this coming spring.

John J. Watkins / Indiana Economic Digest

EAST CHICAGO - An ArcelorMittal spokeperson says innovation is underway at the Northwest Indiana steel company.  It's for that reason David White, ArcelorMittal Director of Process Research in Global Research and Development, says he believes the future of steel is very bright.

White, who is based at ArcelorMittal's East Chicago location, says the company is currently  making products for the automotive industry, that he says will make automobiles more efficient and safer.  The company is making new products for other industries, outside of automotive.

Around Indy website

Today:  On this Reporters Roundtable we feature "Times of Northwest Indiana" investigative reporter Marc Chase (who is also a columnist) and his colleague, Statehouse reporter Dan Carden, and Jon Gard of the  LaPorte "Herald Argus" and Michigan City "News Dispatch" about their stories posted online and in print.  "Chicago Reporter" education reporter Kalyn Belsha also joins us to talk about her online story this week of a Chicago family who moved from a crime-ridden neighborhood to northwest Indiana, and how they are coping with issues of being in the Gary Community School Corp.

TheStatehouseFile.com

Today:  a pre-General Assembly conversation with State Rep. Hal Slager (R-Schererville) about the issues that could be discussed at the upcoming 30-day session that begins January 3rd.  They could range from the opioid crisis to hate crimes to Sunday liquor and beer sales to political redistricting and educational issues.

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Charlotte Tuggle / WBAA

“In some of our areas, they sleep – not exactly on the floor – but they sleep on what we call ‘canoes,’” Leazenby says. “They’re preformed, plastic-type mattresses and they’re on the floor, because there’s no bunk available.”

Republicans in Congress approved a sweeping and controversial $1.5 trillion tax overhaul this week. As NPR reports, the Senate voted early Wednesday along straight party lines to move the measure forward, with the House voting a second time Wednesday afternoon:

attorney.mtmedia.us

Today:  A conversation with former Gary Mayor Scott King, now an attorney in northwest Indiana and a consultant.  He talks about his years in office as well as the changes in economic development that he's seen take place since being at Gary City Hall.

We bring you another conversation from the Welcome Project at Valparaiso University.  The project collets first-person stories and pairs these with intentional conversation to help forge stronger ties within and across our communities.

Last updated at 6:45 p.m.

Democrats say three provisions in the Republican $1.5 trillion tax bill violate Senate rules and will likely be removed before that chamber votes on the measure.

GasBuddy / GasBuddy.com

NORTHWEST INDIANA - Gas Prices are going in the right direction from one week to the next for consumers as we approach Christmas.  That's according to Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.  He says regardless, prices may fluctuate.

DCS Chief, Holcomb Disagree On Agency Funding Levels

Dec 18, 2017

 

Indiana Department of Child Services Director Mary Beth Bonaventura says the well-being of Hoosier children has been put at risk because of steps taken by Governor Eric Holcomb’s administration.

Bonaventura’s sharp criticisms came in her resignation letter, delivered to Holcomb last week.

A revenue forecast released Monday predicts Indiana will collect hundreds of millions of dollars less in taxes than previously expected over the next year and a half. But legislative fiscal leaders say it’s not time to panic.

Free workshops will once again be offered beginning January 5th on the Indiana University Northwest campus in Gary to seniors across northwest Indiana.  It's the annual program called "Senior University"  and Ellen Szarletta was on "Regionally Speaking" on Monday to talk about it.

IGA.gov.IN

Today:   We revisit our conversation with Andy Downs of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics in Fort Wayne about the major issues that could come up during the next General Assembly session that is  scheduled to begin January 3rd.

Ellen Szarletta with the Center for Urban and Regional Excellence at Indiana University Northwest joins us to talk about the topics for next month's "Senior University" courses offered on the Gary campus.

DCS Director Bonaventura To Depart Agency

Dec 17, 2017

 

Department of Child Services Director Mary Beth Bonaventura will resign her position before the end of the month.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Bonaventura’s pending departure as he praised the outgoing agency head. In a statement, Holcomb hailed what he calls her “unwavering commitment” to Hoosier children’s safety.

The announcement did not include a reason for her decision.

The cleanup for part of an East Chicago, Indiana toxic waste site will cost nearly four times more than originally expected. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the site’s cleanup, will open an opportunity for public comments Monday, Dec. 18.

The EPA initially estimated cleanup for the residential area of the USS Lead Superfund site would cost $23 million. But, a new agency report says the estimate should be closer to $85 million.

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FILE

Allen County will be joining two Indiana counties and one city in a lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies and distributors.

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