Local News

Times of Northwest Indiana

Today:  On this Reporters' Roundtable, "Times" reporter Dan Carden talks about the stories he's put out in print and online, including news from Washington on U.S. House approval of funding for northwest Indiana road projects and the new laws now in place from last General Assembly session. Celina Weatherwax with the MAAC Foundation talks about their latest acquisition: a state-of-the-art K-9 simulator. And we find out more about a July 22nd veterans' job fair to be held at Soldier Field in Chicago co-sponsored by the DAV and "RecruitMilitary."


PORTAGE - The Portage City Council is considering a ban on smoking in public places in the city.  The Tobacco Education & Prevention Coalition for Porter County has been trying to help this initiative pass and has even gotten the signatures of six CEOs of the six regional hospitals who serve the city to sign a joint letter publicly supporting the smoke-free air ordinance.  

Lakeshore Public Radio's Sharon Jackson spoke with Carrie Higgins, the Program Director of the Tobacco Education & Prevention Coalition about the effort.

Times of Northwest Indiana

Today: There is concern among state lawmakers about the non-profit hospitals in northwest Indiana and their ability to make business decisions that can have an impact on residents’ lives – especially when it comes to healthcare costs.    “Off Mic” host Michael Puente spoke with a local legislator recently about the topic for his program and we bring you that conversation. We also revisit our conversation with Lake County Elections and Voter Registration executive director Michelle Fajman about the company that is creating an electronic system, to be in place by the 2022 elections, that tracks election equipment used in the county’s precincts as well as sets up payroll and training for election workers and creates maps for poll workers.  And we have the second in Side effects Public Media reporter Carter Barrett's series on families seeking help for mental health issues.

Winning Powerball Ticket Bought In Gary Expires Thursday

Jul 6, 2021

GARY - Whoever bought a certain winning Powerball ticket in Gary, has until Thursday to claim it or the $50,000 payoff will no longer be available to the winner.

Lottery officials told the "Times" that players should check to see if they have the winning ticket, which was purchased as part of the January 9th drawing from the Speedway gas station at 3201 Grant Street.

The winning ticket must be claimed by 4:30 Eastern Standard Time Thursday at the Hoosier Lottery Prize Payment office in Indianapolis.

Portage Life website

Today:  NIRPC chief transportation planner Mitch Barloga is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about the recently-completed segments of the Marquette Greenway in Burns Harbor, and other trails in northwest Indiana (Pictured: the Marquette Greenway Trail in Portage).  The Indiana DNR worked with Burns Harbor town officials and Portage city officials on the projects.  The Next Level Trails program makes critical trail connections within and between communities.  "Mr. Pierogi" joins us from Whiting to talk about the July 23rd parade through Hammond and into Whiting, and of the big festival itself, July 23, 24 & 25.   Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors CEO Peter Novak discusses the latest seven-county home sales report and a look  at the rest of 2021.  And Side Effects Public Media's Carter Barrett begins a two-part series on families needing help in dealing with mental illness.


CROWN POINT   — A 16-year prison sentence has been handed a northwest Indiana man who pleaded guilty to two counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in serious bodily injury in the drownings of his two sons. The sentence of 37-year-old Eric Patillo was handed down Wednesday by Lake County Judge Samuel Cappas. Authorities say 4-year-old Levi Patillo and 2-year-old Evan Patillo were unresponsive when two fishermen pulled them from the Kankakee River near the Illinois-Indiana state line on Aug. 21, 2018. Patillo told a witness that he was high on heroin while at the river with his sons.


GARY - The Gary Community School Corporation is extending its school day for one hour each day over the course of the entire school year.  

A news release from the school corporation says the change will result in the equivalent of 30 days a year of additional instruction for students. Over their K-12 educational career, the longer school day will add up to nearly two more years of learning time.

The Gary Community School Corporation made the announcement

Triple A


Today:  Leslie Plesac, the director of Purdue University Northwest's Sinai Forum program, is on "Regionally Speaking" for an extended conversation about the guest speakers for the 68th season for the Sinai Forum -- beginning with medical expert Dr. Deborah Birx  (pictured)  on October 17th.  Other guests who will speak this season include Holocaust survivor Max Eisen, civil rights lawyer and social justice activist Bryan Stevenson and Silicon Valley icon Steve Wozniak.  Pediatrician Dr. Christina Johns talks about the COVID vaccines available (and soon-to-be available) for children and of the importance of deciding if they should be vaccinated.  And Gary Literacy Coalition executive director Lori Kuykendall talks about the organization and its mission in the Steel City to support, promote, enhance and coordinate programs for citizen access to literacy programs.

Porter County Recycling website

Today:  Erika Mihalek with the Porter County Recycling and Waste Reduction District is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about how last weekend's household hazardous waste collection event in Chesterton helped residents properly dispose of some items that shouldn't be kept too long in garages or basements -- and event  planners can take advantage of free recyclables containers this summer.  Erika also has an update on the county's drop off recycling sites (one of them is located at the Valparaiso compost site, as pictured last winter).  Also on the program is Brian Rock of Merrillville, a gourmet pizza-making businessman who gives back to the community in need, by making free wood-fired pizzas for people affected by disaster – in this case, people affected by the recent tornadoes.  And we have this week's conversation from the Welcome Project at Valparaiso University.


NORTHWEST INDIANA - Gas prices during this year's 4th of July holiday weekend are significantly higher than last year's, which was at a low, according to Triple A.

AAA Auto Club Group spokesperson Molly Hart says at $3.09, the national gas price average is at its highest of the year and not stopping.

That average will increase, possibly as much as another nickel, in the lead up to the Independence Day holiday weekend as AAA forecasts a record-breaking 43.6 million Americans will hit the road for a holiday getaway. This year’s Independence Day weekend is defined as Thursday, July 1 – Monday, July 5.

While it is typical to see gas prices increase ahead of a holiday, especially during the peak summer driving season, pump price increases as of late have been noticeable.

Hart says today, 89% of U.S. gas stations are selling regular unleaded for $2.75 or more. And that is a stark increase over last July 4 when only a quarter of stations were selling gas for more than $2.25.  Hart says Road trippers will pay the most to fill up for the holiday since 2014.

Crude oil, and in turn gas prices, are more expensive compared to years past mostly due to three major factors: confidence in worldwide vaccination rollout, global oil demand spikes, and the easing of travel restrictions leading to optimism for leisure travel.


Today:  Susan Thomas and Ashley Williams with "Just Transition NWI" are on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about last weekend's screening in Michigan City of the documentary "In The Water," a film that explored Indiana's utility industry and the environmental hazards of storing coal ash (as pictured, coal ash spread on a road in the Town of Pines area).  Filmmaker and environmental journalist Beth Edwards visited the Town of Pines in producing the documentary in 2018.  Indiana Public Broadcasting's Justin Hicks has a feature report on working remotely, and we have a new feature: "Womens' Worth" with Deborah Cundiff and Tamara Taylor, who focus on womens' financial health and wealth.   

Caesars Entertainment

HAMMOND -  The Indiana Gaming Commission (IGC) on Thursday amended its order requiring Caesars Entertainment, to sell a third casino asset in the state. As a result, Caesars will continue to own and operate Horseshoe Hammond, Indiana Grand, Harrah’s Hoosier Park, and its three off-track betting locations.

Tom Reeg, the CEO of Caesars Entertainment said in a news release that the company is confident that its continued operating of Horseshoe Hammond is in the best interest of their team members, guests, the Hammond community, and the State of Indiana.

Photo provided

Today:  Gary native Chris Robinson is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about his documentary about his hometown, "Looted," which will premiere Sunday afternoon at the ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen.  U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs education program director Charmain Bogue talks about the 77th Anniversary of the GI Bill -- a program which is still, for many veterans, the number-one reason they joined the military.   "Times" business reporter Joseph Pete joins us on "Reporters Roundtable Thursday" to talk about the recent stories he put out in print and online.  And reporter Michael Puente has a feature focusing on concerns in East Chicago about the future of the community hospital in that city.


Today:  Indiana Youth Institute president and CEO Tami Silverman is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about Indiana's ranking in the 2021 "Kids Count National Data Book" issued by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  While the National Data Book identifies many positive gains for Indiana, Silverman says more progress must be made to ensure that all Hoosier children thrive.  We also revisit our conversation with Lake County Surveyor Bill Emerson Jr. about the new "wetlands bill" enacted this year by the General Assembly and its impact on Lake County waterways, including the Kankakee River swamps and wetlands.  And Indiana Public Broadcasting reporter Ben Thorp looks into a Purdue University research lab that is working on ways to create cold food storage for space travelers.

WANE-TV Ft Wayne

Today:  A northwest Indiana travel specialist arranges professionally-accompanied group cruises and vacations for those with diagnoses like dementia-Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS, cancer and the like – and they include their caregivers and family members. The company's owner, Kathy Shoaf, is back on "Regionally Speaking" with a post-pandemic update.  Lake County Democratic Party chairman Jim Weiser talks about today's local visit from the "American Rescue Plan Tour," at Wicker Park in Highland.  State chairman Mike Schmuhl joins Congressman Frank Mrvan, Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott Jr. and AFT state chairperson GlenEva Dunham of Gary for the event. (Pictured: the official launch of the ARP Tour on June 3rd outside the Statehouse with former U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly.)

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (AP) — Officials say one girl died and a second was in critical condition after separate weekend incidents involving rough waters in northwest Indiana along the same Lake Michigan beach.

The girl was pronounced dead Saturday night after she and relatives were swept into deeper waters while swimming along Washington Park Beach in Michigan City. Her name, age and hometown were not immediately released.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia / Chicago Sun-Times via AP

CHICAGO (AP) — The National Weather Service says a tornado that swept through Chicago’s western suburbs, damaging more than 100 homes and injuring several people, was packing 140 mph winds when it hit the heavily populated area.

Times of Northwest Indiana

Today:  Northwest Indiana political activist Ruth Needleman is on "Regionally Speaking" with her regular conversation on the issues that, this time, include deportations from the Gary airport, the continued fight against COVID-19 and a July 4th parade coming up in Hobart.  Financial advisor Greg Hammer wonders in his conversation whether 2021 should be called the "Year of Roth IRA," since there may be changes that will have an impact on those saving for retirement. And we bring back our conversation with Megan Telligman with Indiana Humanities about the new "Unearthed" statewide educational initiative about the environment.

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.  

LaPorte County Commission President Rich Mrozinski told the "Times" that he is aware of how important the move is to organized labor.

The apprenticeship program must have at least five graduates in each of the past five years.  

Mrozinski says the requirements provide assurance of quality workmanship and that the workers are trained to do the job.

Mrozinski said the standards make it more difficult for companies to land contracts if they’re paying below scale wages in cash in order to undercut legitimate contractors during the bidding.

Panel member Joe Haney voted against the proposal because he said
the requirements will keep legitimate small businesses, potentially including those owned by minorities and women, out of the bidding process.


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.