Local News

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.

PURDUE UNIVERSITY NORTHWEST

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
Provided

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.

CNN.COM

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
appadvice

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 COMMUNITY SCHOOL CORPORATION

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. 

WIKIDEDIA / INDIANA DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

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.

Wanna catch up on the latest in video games, movies, anime, streaming shows, and internet trends? Look no further, Region Nerd Alert has your back. We have all the updates on big conventions as well as interviews from people in the industry. Get the latest news about your favorite interest without scrounging about the internet. Catch Region Nerd Alert Every Saturday at 7pm ON lakeshore public radio as well as online wherever you listen to your podcast.

 

Methodist Hospitals

NORTHWEST INDIANA - Methodist Hospital has a new person on staff that will serve to help guide women and children entering the health care system.  Marla Hoyer-Lareau, Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer told Lakeshore Public Radio the hospital has named Tracie Shelton to the position.  Shelton is the new Service Line Director of Women and Children's Services at Methodist Hospitals.  We spoke to Shelton and Hoyer-Lareau about how and why the Service Line Director role is important to the Region and how Methodist Hospital campuses are taking part in the continued fight against C

We have an in-depth conversation with state Senator Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) on the 2021 General Assembly session just ended.  She offers her thoughts about, among other topics the new two-year state budget, her bills that passed and signed into law and those that did not. 

A conversation with Lake County Elections and Voter Registration executive director Michelle Fajman, about a company working with county officials that by the 2022 elections could have an electronic system in place that tracks election equipment, sets up payroll and training for poll workers, and creates maps of polling locations. 

Dean and Barbara White Foundation

Today:   We revisit our conversation with Bill Hanna, the new executive director of the Dean and Barbara White Foundation.  Reporter Michael Puente has a report on the new Gary casino that opened for business on Friday and the impact that a new Chicago casino, if it opens, could have on the city of Gary's fortunes.  We talk to Michael Jackson's second-grade music teacher who recognized the innate talent that he had, even at that early age.  And Lorelei Weimer with Indiana Dunes Tourism and Indiana Landmarks regional field office director Brad Miller talk about some upcoming events. Brad talks about the May 22nd "Logs to Lustrons" 2021 virtual talk. Two couples share their experiences revitalizing two homes in Indiana Dunes National Park: one of them, a 19th Century log home and the other, a post-World War II steel Lustron home. 

Patrick Maloney, the president-CEO of Franciscan Health Dyer-Munster-Hammond and Cal Bellamy, the chair of the northwest regional Franciscan Health board of trustees, are on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about the plans to downsize the hospital on Hohman Avenue in Hammond into a more compact healthcare facility.

Lake County Surveyor Bill Emerson Jr. is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about the impact that the new statewide wetlands law

Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about law enforcement-related measures that made it through the 2021 General Assembly session to become law that affect criminal justice reform.

Gary Community School Corporation

GARY - The Gary Community School Corporation (GCSC) revealed on Thursday how it plans to spend $71 million of federal funding at the Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB) meeting.

The plan is academics-centered and focuses on instruction, technology, facilities, equipment, and personnel. The school corporation kept certain goals in mind in developing its strategy for using the federal funds.  The goals are to continue improving academics and continue building a sustainable district.  

Porter County Sheriff's Department/Facebook

Today:  Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about law enforcement-related measures that made it through the 2021 General Assembly session to become law that affect criminal justice reform.  They include changes involving juveniles. We talk with Tom Murphy, the new acting under-secretary for benefits with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs about some new initiatives that can transform veterans' lives.  Region native and documentary producer Dan Zancam created a series called "History Alive" and his latest episode examines some little-known facts about the Old Lake County Jail.  We talks with him about that and what he has planned for the future.  And "Post-Tribune" reporter Hannah Reed talks about her recent stories in print and online, two of them some post-pandemic "good news" stories.

Jared Pike / Purdue University

WEST LAFAYETTE - Purdue University engineers have developed a variant of the process for making fresh water out of seawater, a move that could make a big difference in water security world-wide.

A news release from the Purdue University News Service says making fresh water out of seawater usually requires huge amounts of energy. The most widespread process for desalination is called reverse osmosis, which works by flowing seawater over a membrane at high pressure to remove the minerals.  

WFYI Public Media

Today:  Lake County Surveyor Bill Emerson Jr. is on "Regionally Speaking" to talk about the impact that the new statewide wetlands law -- passed by the Legislature this session -- will have on Lake County property owners.  (The wetland shown above is in Marshall County.)  Michael Santos with Northwest Indiana Mutual Aid Initiative, composed of three grassroots, volunteer-based organizations, will talk about last weekend’s “Mutual Aid Pop-up” event in East Chicago and any others planned for the months ahead.  And Rima Shahid, executive director of "Women4Change" talks about the May 22nd virtual training session for women who are interested in seeking public office.

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