Local News

Big 10 To Resume Football Season In October

Sep 16, 2020
FILE PHOTO: Casey Abbett / WBAA

Big Ten football will resume next month after the season was called off in August over concerns about COVID-19.

Chris Nolte speaks to Young Kim about disenfectants with food coloring

Chris Nolte Speaks with Robert Blaszkiewicz talks about COVID Thermal Scanners

Chris Nolte Speaks with Steve Coxhead about the Rail System in NWI

Chris Nolte talks to Hannah News about the latest updates on gaming in NWI

Chris Notle Speaks with the Good Folks On Positive Vibes

Chris Nolte Speaks with the good folks from Meals On Wheels and how their operations are running in spite of the pandemic

Regionally Speaking's Chrisnolte speaks with realto Craig Fendling

American Rails website

Today:   Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance president Steve Coxhead is back with us to answer a listener question:  why does passenger rail service work in Europe, but not here (in the U.S.)?  He has a very complete explanation behind the rail systems and the changes over the decades leading up to today.  We have another conversation from the Welcome Project at Valparaiso University, and Jill Schleuter-Kim, the executive director of "Girls on the Run Northwest Indiana," talks about the organization and how it helps 8-to-13-year old girls in become empowered and learn life skills through lessons and running.  GOTR has to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic, and Jill outlines the changes for the fall season of events, the group's 27th such season.

Lakeshore Public Radio

  

Today:   Northwest Indiana activist Ruth Needleman is with us to talk about issues involving city government in Gary, including decisions about the city's community benefits agreement ordinance and the purchase and redevelopment of the city's North Gleason Golf Course. She also asks the question: what are they hiding at the Gary-Chicago International Airport, when it comes to issues surrounding immigration flights?  Purdue University assistant professor of physics and astronomy Dan Milisavjevic talks about his groundbreaking research into supernovas and supernova remnants and what is being done in the laboratories on the West Lafayette campus.  Some of the work involves cutting-edge virtual reality technology that may someday be available to the general public.

Lauren Chapman / IPB News

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 74 additional confirmed deaths over the last week, bringing the state’s total to 3,214. The state announced more than 105,000 total confirmed cases – including three days with more than 1,000 reported cases – and more than 1.7 million Hoosiers tested.

Lakeshore Public Radio

Today:  We chat with "Times" chief political reporter Dan Carden and business reporter Joseph Pete about the stories they've written and put out in print and online.  Dan's stories focused on different aspects of the upcoming general election: about the judicial retention questions that voters will be asked on both local and state judges, as well as the recent federal court decisions concerning laws that impeded voter registration.  Joseph's stories include a comprehensive look at northwest Indiana labor unions as their members return to work in the pandemic, amid reduced union membership, and a look at the newspaper's "Enterprise of the Year," Cimcor, based in Merrillville.  We end the program with our conversation with Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction District's Ron Taylor and Valparaiso University environmental chemistry professor Julie Peller, about professor Peller's work earlier this year with her students into the extent of the problem of local plastics pollution.

Regionally Speaking's Chris Nolte Speaks With Ruth Needlemen

Former Whiting Mayor Pleads Guilty in Court Wednesday

Sep 9, 2020
whitingindiana.com

HAMMOND - Former Whiting Mayor Joseph Stahura admitted in court that he looted his campaign donations to gamble and for other personal uses over the last five years.

The "Times" reports Stahura appeared late Wednesday morning before a U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge to formally plead guilty to charges of wire fraud and filing a false tax return.

The charges, which were filed last month, could land Stahura in prison.  They also end his long political career which includes decades of public service as a Whiting city councilman and mayor.

During his time as Whiting mayor, Stahura coordinated the revitalization of the city’s downtown retail district and lakeshore recreational area.

The 64-year old Whiting native told the court Wednesday he knew it was illegal to convert re-election campaign funds to his personal use, but did it repeatedly for five years, between 2014 and 2019.

Stahura also admitted to filing a false 2018 federal income tax return that didn’t account for the diverted money from his campaign account, as well as a false 2018 campaign finance disclosure report to the county that overstated his repayment of money he took from his campaign fund.

As part of the plea deal, Stahura agreed to waive his right to a jury trial. He also resigned last week as mayor as part of his deal with U.S. Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II  in exchange for Kirsch to recommend Stahura receive leniency.  Kirsch also is opting not to charge Stahura’s wife, Diane, with any involvement in misusing campaign money.

If U.S. District Court Judge James T. Moody accepts Stahura’s guilty plea and the plea deal, he will likely sentence Stahura in the first week of December.

UPDATE:  Stahura's attorney Kerry Connor said in a statement sent to Lakeshore Public Radio on Wednesday:

"The full story is that over the years Joe routinely made payments back to his political campaign account, and he returned the vast majority of funds to the account long before he had any inkling that he was being investigated. No city money was ever touched."

Purdue University Northwest

Today:   Sheila Matias, the executive director of the Leadership Institute at Purdue University Northwest, is with us to talk about the program that has for years given members of the community a way to become  more insightful, stronger leaders.  The coronavirus pandemic offered the Institute an opportunity to expand the access to the landmark "Leadership Northwest Indiana" program through a virtual program.   Another LNI class is about to be launched.   Marie Pittman, program manager of "Lake County Eats Local" joins us to talk about this year's series of land-based and mobile food markets that battle food insecurity in communities like Gary and East Chicago.  The organization joined with Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus, ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen, Gary Housing Authority and other groups to sponsor this summer's markets.

Theatre at the Center

MUNSTER-

The only professional theatre company in Northwest Indiana, Theatre at the Center, in Munster has canceled its 2020 season due to COVID-19.

The "Times" reports the performing arts theater, which is at 1040 Ridge Road in Munster, has called-off all plans in the immediate future to create original theatrical productions.  

Theatre at the Center, is housed in the Center for the Visual and Performing Arts.  It has over 400 seats configured in a tight semi-circular space.  

CareSource Indiana

  

Today:  We speak with Steve Smitherman, the president of CareSource Indiana based in Indianapolis, which is a nonprofit that focuses mainly on healthcare -- but knows that high-poverty areas are also affected by substandard and unaffordable housing.  CareSource is allocating $5 million as a financial investment the organization is making to Indiana housing projects -- provided that it can find partners in the Hoosier State.  CareSource has for years been helping communities in affordable housing through grants from its Foundation.  We have another conversation from the Welcome Project at Valparaiso University.  We bring back our conversation with Purdue economist Larry DeBoer about a project that his research team did with the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute, on local governments' services and revenues used to pay for them.

Gary Public Transportation Corp.

Today:  David Wright with the Gary Public Transportation Corp. is with us to review the new and improved bus schedule that takes effect on Tuesday, September 8th.  It's a schedule that brings riders closer to more locations that they say they want to visit, like the Adam Benjamin VA Outpatient Clinic in Crown Point.  Find more information here.  We also bring back our conversations with a LaPorte County PFLAG board member about a new social media group called "Out in LaPorte," and with Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor, who made a major decision to switch political party affiliations.    

Brandon Smith / IPB News

Indiana is evaluating how Hoosiers will be affected by the recent eviction moratorium issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

State of Indiana Suing Crown Theatre Manager

Sep 2, 2020
Crown Theatre

CROWN POINT - The Indiana attorney general's office is suing the manager of the now defunct Crown Theatre, for violating the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, as well as the Indiana Senior Consumer Protection Act. Crown Productions, LLC, is also named in the lawsuit.

The "Times" reports Brad Strom, the manager of the theatre, failed to issue refunds to people who purchased tickets, seat sponsorships and VIP membership cards after the theater's doors remained closed due to construction delays.

UC San Francisco

Today:   Masks are everywhere these days, and we asked an expert to talk about them -- choosing the proper mask, how to wear it and how to care for it (if it's a cloth mask.)  Purdue University clinical nursing professor Joy Pieper is with us to talk about this subject.  She is teaching two courses this semester on the West Lafayette campus on healthcare history and wartime influences on healthcare, and she says the 1918 flu pandemic is worth learning about wearing masks.  We also talk with Purdue University agricultural ecnomist Russell Hillberry about a report that he will present on Thursday at a webinar that discusses the economic impact of wind energy on Hoosier communities.  Profesor Hillbery and his team did extensive research into existing wind farms in Benton and White Counties and will reveal their findings.  The webinar is sponsored by two conservative organizations -- the Indiana Conservative Alliance for Energy and Land and Liberty Coalition.

PORTER COUNTY - The official misconduct felony case against former Portage Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham got underway Tuesday, but came to an abrupt pause when the judge recused herself from the case over a past confrontation she had with Stidham.

When Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary DeBoer was serving as a court magistrate, Stidham, then an attorney, failed to show up for a family law case, which left his client without representation.

Geminus Corp.

Today:  Geminus Corp. program director Amanda Morrison joins us to talk about the $300,000 grant from SAMHSA that will be toward expanding the Lake County organization's programs to assist youth and children with effective prevention practices that reduce or delay substance abuse.   It is a major problem that young people face during the coronavirus pandemic.  We have another conversation from the Welcome Project at Valparaiso University, and Allison Vaulx with the Food Bank of Northwest Indiana and Jewel-Osco spokesperson Mary Frances Trucco explain the events and outreach programs for "Hunger Action Month."  

Sarah Neal-Estes / WFYI News

With just one month left to respond to the census, community groups are working to ensure everyone is counted. The U.S. Census Bureau will stop counting at the end of September, a month earlier than planned. That could threaten the accuracy of the census if many people go uncounted. 

Indiana State Police / Indiana State Police

HOBART - Indiana State Police are investigating a fatal crash that occurred Monday at just after 10:00 a.m.   

A preliminary investigation indicated that the crash involved a semi tanker and a Nissan passenger vehicle.  The tanker truck was loaded with 81,000 pounds of waste water.  

Police say that for unknown reasons, the driver of the Nissan swerved into the tanker's lane and made contact.  The two vehicles became entangled, and the tanker overturned, rolling on top of the passenger vehicle and entrapping the driver.

Region COVID-19 Numbers Week of August 17th

Aug 31, 2020
Indiana State Department of Health / Indiana State Department of Health

NORTHWEST INDIANA-The Indiana State Department of Health reports there are 90 new positive cases of COVID-19 in Northwest Indiana.

On the lighter side, there have been no additional COVID-19 deaths.

The Northwest Indiana death total numbers from Friday indicate there have been 296 in Lake County, 43 in Porter County, 31 in LaPorte County, 10 in Newton County and two in Jasper County.

New deaths were reported between Saturday and Sunday, according to the "Times."

Lauren Chapman / IPB News

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 69 additional confirmed deaths over the last week, bringing the state’s total to 3,072. The state announced more than 93,000 total confirmed cases – including two days with more than 1,000 reported cases – and more than 1,065,000 Hoosiers tested.

Purdue University Northwest

Today:   Leslie Plesac, the executive director of the Sinai Forum at Purdue University Northwest, is with us to introduce to you the speakers for the two "virtual" sessions coming this fall for the celebrated speaker series, as well as a look at three speakers of the five who are planned for the 2021 season.   The speakers planned for earlier this year were  all postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. The "virtual" speakers will be a delight for sports fans, as well as those concerned about the issues that we face on free speech and of cancel culture.   Gary Sanitary District executive Tammi Davis talks about the financial opportunities for minority-owned businesses in the region.  And Lake County Democratic Party chairman Jim Weiser offers his thoughts about Whiting Mayor Joe Stahura, who faces federal fraud charges, and Weiser speaks about the hazards and temptations that political campaign contributions can bring to those running for public office. 

City of Gary

GARY - A food distribution program that was launched to help Gary residents in the wake of COVID-19 is wrapping up tomorrow/Saturday.

Gary Mayor Jerome Prince announced today (Friday) that the City of Gary and Vine Line Produce Distribution will host the final produce giveaway of the summer Saturday, August 29th, beginning at  9:30 at the Genesis Convention Center.

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