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Columbia Avenue Closed for Over an Hour Due To Hit and Run

29 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

by Ken Davidson

The 7000 block of Columbia Avenue was closed at approximately 7:30 pm tonight due to a hit and run accident.  A red mini-van reportedly struck a passenger car and left the scene.  Officers looked for the van for approximately 30 minutes before locating it at 176th Street and Howard Avenue.  The driver of the van had fled the vehicle.  A citizen reported seeing a white male fleeing on 176th place and officers then began the search for that individual.    A suspect was ultimately located and arrested.  The driver of the vehicle that was hit was injured but refused medical treatment.  The scene was ultimately cleared at approximately 8:30 p.m.

 

 

Gazette Receives Permission To Use Fedex Crash Pictures

29 Dec Joe Wzolek receives Highlands Award

by Ken Davidson

After what turned out to be an embarrassing error in judgment, the Gazette has received permission to publish photos of the truck that crashed into a Hessville home on December 13. The homeowners report that the crash occurred after a delivery was made at a school across the street. The driver stated that the gas pedal stuck and he lost control of the vehicle. A 12 year old resident of the home was on the couch in the living room of the home which was struck by the truck. She was injured and received treatment for a concussion. The driver of the truck had to be cut from the vehicle.

There is a soccer field at the school and the family questions why the driver could not veer in that direction, avoiding risk. The home is a total loss.

federal express truck crashes into house in hammond, indiana

Female Robbed at Gunpoint Outside Village Discount in Hessville

28 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

by Ken Davidson

The Gazette has confirmed that a female was robbed at gunpoint outside the Village Discount Store in Hessville on December 26. A necklace and cash was taken in the robbery. The suspect was described as a black male wearing a hoodie. A handgun was used in the incident and the suspect fled on foot.

The Gazette received this report in conjunction with today’s very similar robbery at the same location. It was reported by Hammond Police on crimereports.com today:

Robbery 12/26/2013 07:20 PM 2700 Block 165TH ST 201300085645 Robbery

Hammond Police Department

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Victim Hit in Head with Gun, Robbed at Village Discount in Hessville

27 Dec gary indiana cell phone theft

by Ken Davidson

A loyal Gazette reader reported a robbery at Village Discount Outlet on 165th Street in Hessville about 5:30 p.m. today. The Gazette has confirmed that a man was robbed at gunpoint and struck in the head during the robbery. A woman was heard screaming for help as police and an ambulance rushed to the scene. Witnesses said the suspect was wearing a hoodie and black ski mask and fled eastbound on foot. This is the second robbery in the area in as many days. Yesterday there was a robbery at 2732 165th Street, directly across the street.

Illinois Says to Indiana: Keep Your Petcoke and Take Ours Too

22 Dec

by Ken Davidson

Hammond corporation George J. Beemsterboer, Inc. is known to many Indiana residents as the operator of the J-Pit in Gary and a contractor at local steel mills and refineries.   As operator of the J-Pit, Beemsterboer has long been known for bringing  waste into the state of Indiana.  Now Beemsterboer is under fire for allegedly moving Petcoke out of Indiana and into Illinois.

Beemsterboer recently entered into an Agreed Interim Order with the State of Illinois and the City of Chicago.  According to a release issued by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the Order was designed to thwart a serious public health issue:

“The actions we are taking today mark a critical step forward in putting a stop to the
serious public health threat facing the residents that live near these facilities, but we will
continue to push for the strongest possible protections to ensure these conditions can
never happen again here in Chicago and across the state,”

Earlier in the month, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel requested that citizens experiencing any problems with petcoke call the City’s 311 number.  Citizens reportedly complained of dust so thick they could not open their windows last summer.

The petcoke which was stored in Illinois by Beemsterboer came from a local refinery.  There are several refineries in the area which produce petcoke including BP in Whiting.  There are also refineries in Joliet and Lemont IL.  The most likely scenario now will be that petcoke from all of these refineries will be stored and shipped somewhere in Indiana or Wisconsin.

Petcoke is a byproduct of petroleum production.  The material is similar to coal in appearance.  The substance has been a byproduct of refining since the 1930’s.  It has become a national issue lately for several reasons.  The sheer quantity of petcoke has grown as local refineries have expanded.  The market for petcoke now lies outside the US, so it is primarily shipped overseas.  China is the main purchaser of petcoke products as many countries no longer allow the burning of petcoke as fuel.   Because shipping is the primary source of transporting the product, petcoke must be stored near water-in this case Lake Michigan or a local tributary.  Conveniently, Beemsterboer announced the purchase of the vacant State Line Energy plant after the Illinois Attorney General filed suit against them seeking to have the product removed from Illinois.  It has been reported that Beemsterboer will develop the State Line Energy site into condominiums.

One thing is clear, Beemsterboer is not storing petcoke in Chicago anymore.  So far officials have been mum as to future plans for storage of the material.

petcoke loaded onto barge in chicago

Petcoke is loaded onto a barge for shipment overseas

petcoke mountain in chicago

Petcoke Mountain on Chicago’s southeast side.

 

 

 

Luis Smolen, A Family Member of Victim Appear in Court

17 Dec interstate 80 94 accident

by Ken Davidson

Hessville native Luis Smolen was formally charged with the murder of his 6 week old daughter last week. Smolen made a brief appearance in Court on December 16, waiving his right to an arraignment within 14 days. Smolen will remain in custody in Wayne County Michigan at least until his next hearing date which is January 13, 2014. An unknown family member of the victim appeared in court also and acknowledged that she had been contacted by the office of the prosecuting attorney.

Gibson Woods Sees Maintenance to Eliminate Invasive Plants

17 Dec

by Ken Davidson

Few people realize the value of Gibson Woods in Hessville.  The 131 acre property which sits amid railroad and oil properties on Hessville’s northwest corner is as close as any of us will get to viewing the region as it was before development.  The area has remained largely untouched for 4,000 years and is the among the largest tracts of untouched land remaining.  Gibson Woods is perhaps best known worldwide for its diverse variety of plants including some that are endangered.  The park features 3 hiking trails which are popular with bird and plant enthusiasts.

Preservation of the diverse plant life is now cause for modern machinery to visit the premises.  Large scale equipment for the removal of trees can be seen from the park entrance.  Numerous trucks are on hand as well.  This is all due to a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to eliminate invasive species and foster the growth of natural habitat.

gibson woods trail

a trail at Gibson Woods in Hammond, IN traverses a natural swale.

gibson woods nature preserve indiana dunes

Construction crews remove invasive trees from Gibson Woods.

IMG_2967

gibson woods

gibson woods

 

The US Environment Protection Agency features a picture of a yellow moccasin plant from Hammond’s Gibson Woods on its website.