Local News

LaPorte County Imposes New Law on Contractors

Jun 18, 2021
LaPorte County logo

LaPORTE COUNTY - LaPorte County is imposing a new law that requires contractors to have an established apprenticeship program in order to bid on county jobs costing at least $150,000.

The "Times" reports it's a safeguard being put in place by a new law aimed at making sure the construction LaPorte County is paying for is top quality.

The new law also reportedly evens the job competition between union and non-union companies vying for the work.  


Today:  Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. is on "Regionally Speaking" with the latest on this year's "Festival of the Lakes," to be held July 13th through the 18th at Wolf Lake.  It is considered the first big public event in Lake County after the statewide public health emergency is lifted.   Elisabeth Menning with NWI Pride is with us to talk about this weekend's "Love Runs the Region 5K" walk, beginning from the Lake County Fairgrounds, and other events during this Pride Month. Employment law attorney Elizabeth Owens Bille talks about the concerns that employees may have about returning to the workplace after the COVID-19  pandemic, and how employers can change their minds if workers decide to quit -- rather than come back.   

Getty Images-Medical News Today website

Today:  Kristin Marlow, the executive director of the American Red Cross northwest Indiana chapter, is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about the severe blood shortage the nation is facing because of the number of trauma cases, organ transplants and elective surgeries as the pandemic subsides.  We also hear from a pediatrician about the need for young people to get wellness checks and shots (including COVID vaccines)  before schools reopen this fall.  Indiana University Northwest professors Linda Galocy and Dorinda Sattler answer questions about privacy laws and COVID-19: what can businesses ask of their customers -- or of their employees?  And we hear from Northwest Indiana Symphony Orchestra conductor Kirk Muspratt about his return to the concert stage on Friday.

Lakeshore Public Radio

Today:  Indiana economist-speaker-writer Morton Marcus is on "Regionally Speaking" to discuss the topics behind his "Eye On The Pie" columns dealing with issues about the Hoosier economy.  This time, his recent columns include one related to Father's Day.  We have another conversation from the Welcome Project at Valparaiso University.  And we bring back our conversation with Urban Land Institute member Christopher Kunz and ULI staff member Tom Eitler about the recent ULI report to Hammond city officials of its upgrade of the city's master plan. The plan's been under discussion since 2019. 

Steve Jurkovic / South Shore Roller Derby

NORTHWEST INDIANA - The South Shore Roller Girls is now the South Shore Roller Derby.  The team changed its name to be more inclusive to the community and to promote inclusiveness of skaters and volunteer members, while eliminating gendered or sexualized language associated with team names. The name change also intends to shift the focus towards the athleticism of the participants.

Photo provided

Today:  "Indiana Gaming Insight" and "Indiana Legislative Insight" newsletter editor Ed Feigenbaum is on "Regionally Speaking" to discuss the latest gaming industry news from northwest Indiana and the rest of Indiana, along with other news topics of interest.  "Times" journalist and author Joseph Pete joins us to talk about some of the things that one can do in northwest Indiana during Father's Day weekend.  He outlines some of them which are in his latest book, published by Reedy Press.   And a central Indiana journalism professor emeritus and author talks about the increasing problem of hazing on college campuses.


Today:   On "Reporters' Roundtable Thursday,"  we talk with former "Post-Tribune" reporter Amy Lavalley (who covers Porter County events in places like the County Courthouse (pictured above) and "Post-Tribune reporter Carrie Napoleon about the stories they wrote and put out in print and online.  Amy also talks about her next career move.  We also have an "Inside Indiana Business" report on the future of northwest Indiana's business climate.  Gerry Dick talks to Northwest Indiana Forum CEO Heather Ennis.  


PORTER COUNTY - Porter County will spend $15.5 million in grant funding to improve or reconstruct 17 bridges through 2025.

Officials told the "Post Tribune" on Tuesday that of the bridges being repaired, 11 are a part of the top 15 bridges in Porter County that need replacement.

Commissioner Jeff Good said securing the $15.5 million in grant funding to improve Porter County's bridges is historic.

The county is responsible for maintaining 132 bridges, and many of them are along major thoroughfares in Porter County's cities and towns. 

Food Bank NWI / Linked-In

Today:  Allyson Vaulx with the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana is on "Regionally Speaking" with an update on the food bank's operations and summer programs, and with the news of financial assistance from a major healthcare provider based in Indianapolis.  Also on the subject of food insecurity, we bring back our conversation with Michigan City EDC executive director Clarence Hulse on the study that his organizatuon and Purdue Extensive Service in LaPorte County is conducting, to find solutions to the city's two "food deserts."  Two Michigan City neighborhoods currently have no markets that sell fresh, wholesome food.  And "Post-Tribune" columnist Phil Potempa unpacks his telegraph key to put on a "one-man show" this week about famed newspaper gossip columnist and broadcaster Walter Winchell.  

Hoosier State Press Assn


Today:  The new owner and publisher of the "Chesterton Tribune," Don Hurd, is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about his multi-member "hyper-local" community newspaper group and what prompted him to acquire the Chesterton publication and revive it in the interest of serving smaller towns and cities.  We have another conversation from the Welcome Project at Valparaiso University. And we revisit our conversation with Diocese of Gary Bishop Robert McClory about the return to in-person Masses at northwest Indiana Catholic churches effective on Friday.  Bishop McClory, along with the other bishops of Indiana, agreed that churches can safely accommodate more parishioners for Masses and lifted the dispensation which has been in effect for more than a year.


VALPARAISO - Valparaiso University has received $277,000 to help decrease youth tobacco use rates, the adult smoking rate and to help reduce the number of people exposed to secondhand smoke.

The money, which is for 2021 to 2023, came from a community-based partnership grant from the Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission at the Indiana Department of Health.

This funding allows Valpo’s College of Nursing and Health Professions to continue implementing initiatives to meet the overall priorities of the Tobacco Education and Prevention Coalition for Porter County (TEPCPC).

Dr. Karen Allen, the dean of the College of Nursing and Health Professions, says as the program moves forward she and her team believe young people and adults will be beneficiaries.

Valpo’s collaboration with the Tobacco Education and Prevention Coalition for Porter County (TEPCPC) extends throughout Porter County through community education programs, access to free educational resources and support for smoke-free ordinances and policies.

Everyone is welcome to join the Tobacco Education and Prevention Coalition for Porter County. More information on joining is available at the valpo.edu website.

Times of Northwest Indiana

Today:   South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority president Speros Batistatos is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about the Region's tourism and hospitality sectors, as the COVID-19 pandemic loosens its grip on local events and festivals and of the hotels and other businesses that depend on them.  We also bring back our conversations with Patrick Maloney and Cal Bellamy about Franciscan Health's plans to "downsize" the Hammond hospital and with Valparaiso Mayor Matt Murphy.  And Megan Telligman with Indiana Humanities talks about the new multiyear "Unearthed" initiative to help Hoosiers to explore how we shape the environment and how the environment shapes us.


HAMMOND & WESTVILLE - Purdue University Northwest has updated its COVID-19 guidance for its campuses in Hammond and Westville and now vaccinated individuals no longer need to wear face coverings indoors when on campus.

All unvaccinated individuals are still required to wear face coverings while indoors and maintain social distancing, as well as monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, according to a university news release.

Gary/Chicago International Airport

GARY - The Gary/Chicago International Airport is getting a $3.5 million dollar grant  from the U.S. Department of Transportation, that will be used to rehabilitate a taxiway that is an approach to the main runway.

The "Times" reports the announcement on Tuesday fueled great optimism among federal, state and local officials that the move means a step closer to propelling Northwest Indiana's economy to great heights.

The money will complete ongoing improvements to Taxiway Alpha by adding a 14-inch concrete overlay 75 feet wide and 350 feet long.

Rail-Volution website

Today:   NIRPC executive director Ty Warner is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk at-length about transit oriented development (TOD for short) and the concept's potential impact on northwest Indiana.  TODs (like the one pictured) are included within transit development districts (TDDs) -- like ones that are being proposed within the West Lake Corridor expansion of the South Shore Line.  Ty says the one of the concept's goals is to make neighborhoods more livable.  A public engagement hearing is coming up June 9th about the Hammond Gateway TDD project, which is part of the West Lake Corridor.  And Erin Stojic, financial wellness coalition coordinator with the Lake Area United Way, joins us to talk about the non-profit's first Community Savings Challenge.  It's a program bringing community banks together with LAUW to encourage northwest Indiana citizens to save at least $250 in six months... to bolster the habit of "saving for a rainy day."

Photo provided

Today:   Kathy Sipple, the northwest Indiana senior coordinator for the Resilience Cohort, is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about this summer's greenhouse gas emissions inventory project with 14 participating municipalities. It's part of a statewide effort to better understand such emissions and how communities can reduce them.  We bring back our conversation with Indiana Dunes Tourism's Lorelei Weimer, as we get ready for a conversation with South Shore CVA executive director Speros Batistatos for a complete look at area tourism efforts.  And we have another conversation from the Welcome Project at Valparaiso University. 

Brandon Smith, IPB News

Today:  On this Reporters' Roundtable Thursday, veteran Statehouse radio reporter Eric Berman is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about the work that the General Assembly must do this summer in drawing legislative and congressional district maps -- and the impact the new maps will have on Indiana politics.  Lawmakers took a break right now, but will be back to work on the maps, amid calls for public input on what they will look like.   "Post-Tribune" freelance reporter Carole Carlson and "Times" business reporter Joseph Pete will talk about the stories they recently put out in print and online.

Town of Winfield May Get a New Development

May 26, 2021

WINFIELD - The town of Winfield could experience a big growth spurt, if the plan commission approves a proposed new residential development.  A public hearing that will address the matter is set to take place in June.

The "Times" reports the new development, Aylesworth Farms would include single-family and cottage homes.  The single-family homes will range from 1,800 to 2,800 square feet and the cottage homes will be between 1,500 to 2,500 square feet.

The project would be a 515-unit Lennar Homes of Indiana development.  Nearly a third of the site will be preserved as open space.

Aylesworth Farms also will feature a community pool and pool house, park land dedicated to the town, a silo and 2 miles of trails.

The project also will dedicate more than $3 million in off-site contributions to the town, including more than $1 million toward 109th Avenue improvements and a $1.7 million regional lift station on 117th Avenue.

Diocese of Gary Indiana website

Today:  A conversation mid-way in the program with Diocese of Gary Bishop Robert McClory, on the impending return to in-person Masses at northwest Indiana Catholic churches.  This takes place beginning June 11th.  But first, we revisit our conversation with Lake County Elections and Voter Registration director Michelle Fajman on the new election equipment and personnel management project that will be in effect as early as 2022, and the impact the change may have on future elections.  And later, we find out more about two young Black entrepreneurs that found a way to combat food insecurity in an eastside Indianapolis neighborhood, with the help of an  Indiana medical equipment company.

Portage Lakefront Park Open Again

May 25, 2021
Doug Ross, The Times / The Times

PORTAGE - The Portage Lakefront Park is once again open, just in time for Memorial Day weekend.

Indiana Dunes National Park administration told the "Times" the area had been closed for the installation of more than 1,000 tons of boulders to protect the area from erosion and provide safer access to the shoreline.

The effort was a collaboration between the Indiana Dunes National Park and the city of Portage.

Park Superintendent Paul Labovitz says the project will protect the important public resource as the lake levels rise and fall.


Today:  North Lake Environmental Partnership is providing free water sampling early next month in Gary and Hammond, so residents can determine if their tap water is contaminated with lead.  It is one of the lasting legacies of pollution in the Region. We’ll speak to one of the research team members working on the project -- Hope College (Michigan) chemistry professor Kenneth Brown.  We have another conversation from the Welcome Project at Valparaiso University.  U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs acting administrator Tom Murphy talks about some major changes the VA is making that can positively affect veterans' lives. And a Gary native and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology graduate is joining with his wife to provide a scholarship program that will assist young people attend the private engineering school in Terre Haute -- youngsters who might not otherwise be able to afford college. We bring back our conversation with Mike Mussellem.

Valparaiso Community Schools

VALPARAISO - Valparaiso Community Schools board meeting Thursday was postponed after 25 people showed up without masks and refused to put them on even when they were asked to.

The "Times" reports the school board moved the meeting to Wednesday and set it up as a virtual event.

The district sent out an agenda Monday morning that said the meeting would be held virtually in accordance with the state's public health emergency in place until May 31.

The agenda for Wednesday's meeting is largely the same as last week's with the addition of a school nutrition update.

The districts Return to Learn plan, which currently outlines in-person school five days a week with the option for students who wish to remain virtual to enroll in EdOptions Academy through Edmentum, is on the agenda for board consideration.

Public comments can be made by filling out an online form and submissions will be accepted until 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Anyone who wishes to watch the meeting can do so through livestream or can watch after on the VCS YouTube channel.

Gary Chamber of Commerce website


Today:  Chuck Hughes, executive director of the Gary Chamber of Commerce, is on "Regionally Speaking" with his thoughts on the new Hard Rock Casino in his city and on what role the Jackson family has had in supporting their youngsters' hometown.  We talked with him after the grand opening. Northwest Indiana financial advisor Greg Hammer has some tips for new graduates -- high school and college -- to better prepare themselves, financially, for young adulthood.  And Indiana Youth Institute president and CEO Tami Silverman talks about mental health care for youth and teachers in recovery efforts during the pandemic.  Her complete column on the subject is on the IYI website.

City of Crown Point Addresses Parking Issue Downtown

May 20, 2021

CROWN POINT - After many years of dealing with congestion and parking limitations downtown, the city of Crown Point is looking at ways to solve the problem.

The city is investing just under $60-thousand dollars into a parking study that is to result in a final design of new parking solutions, according to the "Times."

The Crown Point Board of Works on Wednesday unanimously approved an agreement with American Structurepoint, an engineering consulting firm, that will conduct the parking study.

Times of Northwest Indiana

Today:   Valparaiso Mayor Matt Murphy is on "Regionally Speaking" with an update on what's going on in the city.  Northwest Indiana resident and author Brian Vukadinovich is also on the program to talk about policing and police reform from his own personal perspective, and we find out the latest on efforts to get more Gary residents innoculated against COVID-19. And Indiana Public Broadcasting reporter Jill Sheridan has a feature report on an Indianapolis woman who filed a housing discrimination complaint over a discrepancy in her mortgage refinancing application because she is Black.  


MERRILLVILLE - Merrillville High School has a new girls varsity head basketball coach.

The Merrillville Community School Corporation Board of School Trustees approved the appointment of Kelly Kratz to the position at its meeting Tuesday night.
Kratz has served as girls’ varsity assistant coach under head coach Amy Govert since 2014. During her years as the assistant, the girls’ team won four sectionals and one regional, and they were regional runner-up twice.

Photo provided

Today:  The Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission-- made up of Republicans, Democrats and independents -- submitted a report based on a series of statewide public meetings to the General Assembly, which will return to Indianapolis later this year to draw new political district maps.  Julia Vaughn, policy director for Common Cause Indiana and representative for the Citizens Redistricting Commission, is on "Regionally Speaking" for an in-depth conversation on the report and what recommendations the commission is making to the map makers.  We revisit our conversation with Valparaiso city parks and recreation director John Seibert on what residents and visitors to the city can expect from their parks this year.  And educator and language pathologist Holly DeLeon talks about some "red flags" in learning loss that parents can spot in preschoolers because of the pandemic. 


INDIANA - The Indiana Department of Transportation is hosting hiring fairs at ten locations across the state and one of the locations is in Gary.  The events are being held on Thursday, May 20 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Starting pay is $19 dollars per hour.

INDOT has more than 100 open positions in a variety of careers, but the greatest need is for skilled trade positions. INDOT recently increased starting pay for highway technicians and several other positions to $19 per hour, with opportunities to move up to $20 per hour with a valid commercial driver's license (CDL).

PNC Financial Services Group

Today:   PNC Financial Services economist Abbey Omodunbi is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about the latest concerns caused by the federal stimulus package, supply dislocations and other economic issues in the northwest Indiana, Midwest and U.S. economies.  We have another conversation from the Welcome Project at Valparaiso University, a visit from "Women4Change" executive director Rima Shahid about the May 22nd virtual training session for women interested in seeking public office, and a look at how returning to a pre-pandemic life can cause anxieties for some Hoosiers.

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