Newton County

Today: Businessman and St. Joseph's College alumni Mark Andrew Zwartzynski wants to help his alma mater and he's proposed an ambitious  plan to revive the Rensselaer campus, the city of Rennselaer and the entire area.  Mark joins us for an at-length conversation about it.  He presented a 128-page proposal to the college's board of trustees last month, but they decided not to vote upon it at this time. Noted Indiana economist-writer-speaker Morton Marcus is back with more of his "Eye On The Pie" columns to talk about.  Some deal with the township governments and the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the economy.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday he will reimpose some COVID-19 restrictions on counties failing to control spread of the virus.

Screenshot of Zoom call

A seven-county region of northwest Indiana was designated a “21st Century Talent Region” by the state. It’s the eighth region to be recognized for having local groups work together on a shared workforce development agenda. 

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."

Natural Prairie Dairy is responding to an undercover video of its Texas farm released by animal cruelty activists on Tuesday. The dairy plans to open another farm in Newton County. The dairy says one employee has been suspended pending further investigation — and there could be more. 

A witness says an undercover activist at Fair Oaks Farms told farm workers to abuse animals in order to get footage for his investigation. That’s what the Newton County prosecutor overseeing the case told multiple media outlets. 

FAIR OAKS, Ind. (AP) — A prosecutor says investigators are looking into whether an animal rights group worker coerced employees at a large northwestern Indiana dairy farm into the abuse of young calves that was captured on undercover video.

Newton County Prosecutor Jeff Drinski says a witness has corroborated allegations from an abuse suspect that the Animal Recovery Mission employee encouraged the abuse at Fair Oaks Farms. Drinski says detectives will try to interview the group's employee.

  

One person has been arrested and charged after the release of videos showing animals being abused at Fair Oaks Farm. 

The Latest: 1 arrested on abuse charges at Indiana farm

Jun 13, 2019
Newton County Sheriff's Office / Associated Press

FAIR OAKS, Ind. (AP) — Authorities have arrested one of three people charged with animal cruelty following the release of video showing workers kicking and throwing young calves at a northwestern Indiana dairy farm that is an agritourism destination.

The Newton County Sheriff's Department said Wednesday 36-year-old Edgar Gardozo-Vasquez of Brook was taken into custody and is being held at the Newton County Jail on a felony charge of torturing or mutilating a vertebrate animal and misdemeanor animal cruelty at Fair Oaks Farms.

The Newton County Sheriff’s office released the names Tuesday of three former Fair Oaks Farms employees facing criminal charges connected to animal cruelty.

Carole Carlson, Post-Tribune

Today:   Scott Pelath with the Kankakee River Basin Commission talks about the history of the Kankakee and Yellow Rivers in northwest Indiana, including the flooding issues that climaxed in a bill that is now law that will re-make the multi-county government organization tasked with overseeing the rivers.  A new commission, smaller in the number of members, will review a proposed long-range plan and will be able to assess property owners along the rivers in eight counties, to pay for studies and to obtain federal funds for flood control projects.   

State Approves Controversial Newton County CAFO

Jan 22, 2019

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management recently approved a permit for a controversial confined animal feeding operation — or CAFO — in Newton County. But the fight over the 4,000 cow organic dairy might not be over. 

Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter and Trooper Jason Pratt and K-9 “Rogue.”Credit Indiana State PoliceEdit | Remove

NORTHWEST INDIANA - There’s Two New Dogs in Town, police dogs, for the Indiana State Police.  The department recently held a graduation ceremony at the Indiana State Police (ISP) Museum in Indianapolis, for the ISP K-9 Class and K-9 officers. Nikan and Rogue are partnered with Troopers Justin Hansen and Jason Pratt respectively.

An expert is weighing in on a debate over whether property in Newton County is too wet for a confined animal feeding operation. Natural Prairie Dairy wants to build the CAFO in the now dried-up Beaver Lake  bed on the edge of the former Grand Kankakee Marsh. 

Deadly Deer Disease Nears Indiana's Borders

Nov 13, 2018

Officials with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources are trying to keep a fatal deer disease from entering the state. Deer with chronic wasting disease have been found about 25 miles from Newton County near Illinois and about 35 miles from Steuben County near Michigan.

After withdrawing its initial request in May, a Texas-based organic dairy is applying for a second permit for a farm with more than 4,000 grass-fed cows in Newton County. The dairy hopes new technology will ease concerns about contaminating nearby drinking water wells. 

Tony Martin, Times Media / Provided by Heather Ennis, President and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum

NORTHWEST INDIANA - The Northwest Indiana Forum, the seven-county economic development organization is taking part in creating a regional economic development strategic playbook.

The organization serves Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper, Newton, Pulaski and Starke Counties.  Heather Ennis, President and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum, says the development of a regional economic development plan will work to serve all the partners in a more combined fashion.

People are said to experience food insecurity when they do not have access to enough food for all family members to live a healthy, active life. An annual report measures the rate of food insecurity in Indiana slightly under the national average, almost 14 percent of the population. 

The county where the Map the Meal Gap report found the highest rate of food insecurity is Marion County, at 18.3 percent. The county with the lowest measured rate is Hamilton County, at 8.8 percent.  

INDOT

Today:  a conversation with Matt Deitchley, director of communications for the LaPorte District of the Indiana Department of Transportation, better known as INDOT.  He'll review the history of Interstate-65  -- how it got so comgested -- and the plans for improving I-65 in Lake and northern Newton Counties.  INDOT's contractors are widening the highway between U.S.

WMUK.ORG

Today:   we look at two major environemtal projects in northwest Indiana.  First, a conversation with Jim Ventura of Maya Energy LLC, a Merrillville-based company that is working on the materials recovery and recycling facility that is proposed along West 35th Avenue in Gary.  The facility will accept many types of recyclables, construction and demolition waste and mixed waste that can be converted into fuel, and prepare it for end users.   

Lakeshore Public Media

NORTHWEST INDIANA - Northwest Indiana is getting hit with more snow.  Ricky Castro, Meteorologist with the Chicago National Weather Service in Romeoville says the system is going to be a continuation of what the Region received over the weekend.  Castro says the snow on Monday was expected to arrive in Northwest Indiana at around three in the afternoon, or slightly before.

Fair Oaks Farms

Fair Oaks Farms in Newton County is building a new addition to the agritourism destination -- a $15 million Fairfield Inn & Suites on the campus along I-65.  Chief Strategy Officer Michael McCall says it is a uniquely-built addition to the current restaurant and conference center. The new hotel should be completed in early 2019.   McCall talked with us about it, for an upcoming "Regionally Speaking" episode.