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Pet Photos With Santa at South Shore CVA 12/11 and 12/18

3 Dec A Christmas Story Comes Home

Gazette Staff

The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority will once again be holding Wag Your Tail Wednesdays in conjunction with the “A Christmas Story” Comes Home exhibit. On Wednesday Nov. 27, Dec. 11, and Dec. 18 from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., well-behaved cats and dogs will be able to have their picture taken with Santa.
This unique opportunity is offered for $5 per photo and will directly benefit a local animal rescue. Participants are encouraged to bring in donations for the organizations. Additionally, $1 from each pet photo will be donated to the rescue.

In addition to Wag Your Tail Wednesdays, Santa will begin visiting the Indiana Welcome Center on Friday, Nov. 29 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Visitors will be able to get their photo taken atop Santa’s Mountain from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays leading up to Christmas. Before his yearly flight around the world, Santa will be at the Indiana Welcome Center on Dec. 23 from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and on Dec. 24 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. for photos. Each 4×6 photo costs $5.

The “A Christmas Story” Comes Home exhibit, which is presented in agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, will run through Sunday, Jan. 5. The Indiana Welcome Center is open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is located at the intersection of I-80/94 and Kennedy Avenue South in Hammond.

For more information on Wag Your Tail Wednesdays, photos with Santa, the exhibit, weekend and holiday hours or special events, contact Bethany Randolph, special events and services manager for the South Shore CVA, at 219-554-2229 or visit http://www.achristmasstorycomeshome.com.

Highland Police Issue Burglary Alert

3 Dec

Gazette Staff

The Highland Police Department issued an alert advising residents to keep doors locked and report suspicious activity in the wake of recent daytime burglaries. The alert stated:

Several Daytime burglaries have occurred recently. Residents are reminded to secure your homes and to report any suspicious activity.

Griffith, Schererville, and Lowell police have issued similar releases in recent weeks.

Surprise, Van Til Now Admits Guilt

2 Dec George Van Til statement proclaiming his innocence.

by Ken Davidson

“The truth is irrelevant to him.”  That is a quote which the Times of Northwest Indiana attributed to George Van Til while he was lying to all of us about stealing from us.    Of course, Van Til was referring to his challenger and not to himself.  Today he finally admitted that he is a thief and a liar.  The only surprise was the timing of the announcement.  The only question that remains to me is whether or not he will part with some of his purported information in order to save his own skin.  No matter what happens, Van Til is not likely to spend significant time in prison.  Although his conviction carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, it appears that he may do as little as ten months behind bars.

Van Til will officially enter a plea to Six Counts of Wire Fraud.  That is six counts of stealing from the people of Lake County, Indiana.  In short, Van Til will admit that he used employees who were being paid by the taxpayers for his personal campaign.  The Plea Agreement, signed by Van Til states:

I did knowingly and intentionally request and direct some employees of the Lake
County Surveyor’s Office to engage in political campaign work while they were
being paid with Lake County governmental funds. Furthermore, I knew that while
doing this campaign work at the Lake County Surveyor’s Office, these employees
were using Lake County property and equipment to engage in political activity.

The maximum penalty that can be imposed is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.  Van Til is not expected to receive anywhere near that amount of time.  The agreement  calls for the Assistant United States Attorney involved to argue for the minimum sentence under federal guidelines.  The Sentencing guidelines call for a sentence of 10-24 months*.   Thus, Van Til is likely to receive a ten month sentence pursuant to the plea agreement.   The agreement specifically allows for Van Til to ask for home detention or some other means.  The Agreement makes clear the Government will oppose any such request:

Although the defendant is free to argue that the sentence imposed (guideline or non-guideline) be satisfied by any means available under the sentencing guidelines, or 18 USC 3553, under no circumstances will the government make any recommendation for a term of probation, home detention, or community confinement and will oppose any request for a non-guideline and non-incarceration sentence.

The major difference in the 24 month sentence and the ten months he is likely to receive, involves the reduction in sentence for “acceptance of responsibility.”  The difference between a plea and a trial in this matter is about 41 months because the Obstruction of Justice charge is a level 14 base offense under Guidelines.  As stated below, the wire fraud charge is a level 7 base offense.

Van Til becomes the 84th Lake County democrat to plead guilty to federal charges.  None has ever been charged or convicted by Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter.

*Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Wire Fraud:

Base Offense Level:   7 (0-6 mo sentence)

Enhancements in this case:  8 points

Credits in this case: 2 points

Total Points for sentencing:   13, guideline sentence:  12-18 months

The Plea Agreement calls for an additional one point reduction in sentencing provided Van Til cooperates with Government officials.  That would reduce the sentence from 12 months to 10 months.

 

 

 

Van Til Rants About Air Show, No Word on Corruption

26 Nov

by Ken Davidson

Fair Oaks to host South Shore Air Show

South Shore Air Show moved from Gary, IN to Fair Oaks Farms.

Only in Lake County, Indiana does an airshow warrant a comment from a politician facing numerous felony counts for abusing his position. In a facebook post, indicted yet still working county surveyor George Van Til criticizes the South Shore Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for moving the Air Show from Gary to Fair Oaks Farms for 2014:

The Air Show is not about whats good for Lake County, its citizens and taxpayers. Its about the massive ego t of Spiros (sic) B. that constantly needs to be ministered to , his continuous financial advancement into the upper reaches, and his lust for power. He is so very insecure so he has picked fights with so many Public Servants through the years, to try to massage himself, along with his relentless self promotion in the media, NOT the promotion of Lake County! Last I looked his contract , with unreal perks was at 168,000 yearly, plus a car, plus all the fuel, plus unlimited food reimbursement here and in Indianapolis for his girlfriend there, unlimited dining with legislators , night after night, year after year and anything else he feels like to advance HIMSELF ,The mohey is probably much, much more by now .Now the pig has come out of the poke. ! He has snaked our elected Mayors, and slapped them and every citizen of our county , we pay him, what a quarter million dollars a year, to spend huge amounts of our money to promote himself, big bussiness, and couhties south of here, Using our money to hurt our county and cost us losses. Mayor McDermott you are so rightvon (sic) this one, All other Mayors join hands , asPublic Servants against this self serving self promoter who desperately wants to become th Tourism Czar of all of Northwest Indiana or more. ? Combining area efforts might even be a good idea, done right, but it will NEVER work or nefer hapoen until Spiros (sic) is GONE. Too many people know him too well, and now with his newest Flyin Pig Circus his crass opportunism is open for all to see. ? And theres so much more, personal , political, financial thats coming out now if he pushes. Talk about time for a change! Its today.

Logic tells us that, if the Chair of the Democratic Party wanted the Air Show in his city, it would be there. Apparently, logic has no place in the thinking of George Van Til as his rant appears to indicate that Mayor McDermott was somehow left out of the loop in this decision. If George Van Til has anything worthwhile to say, maybe he should save it for his change of plea hearing. He may get a month or two off his sentence.

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Krieg Calls for Feds to Investigate McDermott Campaign Finance Issues

26 Nov

by Ken Davidson

In the wake of recent FBI activity in Lake Station, political activist and former county surveyor candidate Eric Krieg planned to call on the Lake County Board of Elections to refer Mayor Thomas McDermott’s campaign finance reports to the office of United States Attorney David Capp. Krieg will have to wait until the Board meets in December to present his allegations as this month’s meeting was cancelled.  In a statement provided to the press prior to the planned meeting, Krieg compared McDermott’s payments to his wife with the recent conviction of Former Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. He outlines several allegations of impropriety in the reports including:

-Payments to Kelly Consulting, Inc. of over $300,000.  The payments ranging from $3,000-$4,000 per month span a period of over ten years. Krieg alleges that Kelly Consulting, Inc. is owned by Marissa McDermott and that Indiana law requires a written contract on file with the election board in order to pay family members for campaign services;

-a one time consulting fee paid to David Woerpel. This payment is alleged to have been in the amount of $6,000 and paid around the time that Woerpel was charged with a crime in Lake Superior Court;

-A single payment of rent for McDermott for Mayor Headquarters in the amount of $1,000. Krieg alleges that free rent should be reported as an in-kind donation on the finance report.

Krieg explained that the contributions to Kelly Consulting, Inc continue in non-election years. The address for Kelly Consulting is listed as 7134 Knickerbocker, Hammond, IN 46323. Documentation was provided from the office of the Indiana Secretary of State showing that Marissa McDermott is listed as President of Kelly Consulting, Inc. Total payments to Kelly Consulting from the McDermott campaign for the years 2005 to present totalled just over $330,000.

The lack of payment to Kaplan controlled Pyramid Development may be the most damaging allegation. As reported previously, Pyramid Development is owned by McDermott friend and contributor Greg “Krazy” Kaplan. Kaplan later sold the building to the Purdue University Foundation for a reported $1M. Politically connected WJOB radio has announced that they will move into the building sometime next year. So far, they are the only announced tenant.  While not illegal on its face, the entire transaction certainly seems to require some explanation. To date, we have heard none.

You can see Mayor McDermott’s 2011 campaign report here:  http://lwvcalumet.org/files/cfb.mcdermott_jr_thomas_m_2011_annual_rpt.pdf

South Shore Air Show Moves to Fair Oaks

21 Nov

Gazette Staff

 

Hammond, IN (November 21, 2013) – The South Shore Air Show will return in 2014 at a new location. Speros A. Batistatos, president and CEO of the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority, and Gary Corbett, CEO of Fair Oaks Farms, announced that Fair Oaks Farms will play backdrop to the event at a press conference on Thursday, Nov. 21.

“When making the decision to bring the air show back, the South Shore CVA staff wanted to bring it back bigger and better than ever,” Batistatos stated. With the recent cancellation of the Indy Air Show, the move will draw even more visitors, Batistatos explained. Fair Oaks Farms is situated between Chicago and Indianapolis, opening the event up to potential attendees who may not have attended the event in Miller Beach.

Fair Oaks Farms is a 33,000 acre attraction, allowing the two organizations ample room to make additions to the family-fun event.

“Hosting an air show at a tourism destination, like Fair Oaks Farms, has yet to be done in the United States,” said Batistatos. “We have a real opportunity to bring in new facets to an event that is already a ‘must-attend’ for residents and visitors.”

Additionally, Batistatos believes hosting the air show at Fair Oaks Farms will challenge conventional thinking on space used for events along the South Shore.

“Northwest Indiana is such a unique area. There are many different features that can be highlighted and tailored to make an event truly special and successful,” said Batistatos.

According to Batistatos, Fair Oaks Farms enthusiastically agreed to partner for the 2014 air show.

“Fair Oaks Farms is transitioning and growing at an exponential rate,” said Batistatos. “With breaking ground for a restaurant and discussion for the additions of a hotel and indoor water park, Fair Oaks Farms has positioned themselves to being leaders in the hospitality and tourism industry.”

South Shore Air Show attendees will be able to enjoy the traditional, exciting aerial acrobatics in addition to exploring all Fair Oaks Farms has to offer. With the recent addition of The Pig Adventure, Fair Oaks Farms has numerous educational and entertaining activities for all ages. Proposed additions to the air show include a car show and live music entertainment.

Previously, the South Shore Air Show has been held on the beaches of Marquette Park in the Miller Beach section of Gary. In 2012, the air show saw an estimated 570,000 attendees over the three-day event which included numerous aerial acts, a twilight night show with fireworks, kids’ zone, beer garden, food vendors, charity event and VIP receptions. The 14th annual South Shore Air Show was canceled due to the impacts of sequestration.

“The South Shore CVA Board of Directors and staff, as well as Fair Oaks Farms, are very excited for the opportunity of presenting a reconfigured, unique visitor experience,” stated Batistatos.

Dates for the 2014 South Shore Air Show will be announced in the coming months. For additional information on the air show, contact Nicki Mackowski-Gladstone, vice president and chief communications officer for the South Shore CVA, at 219-554-2720 or nicki@southshorecva.com

Fair Oaks to host South Shore Air Show

South Shore Air Show moved from Gary, IN to Fair Oaks Farms.

Two Sentenced, One Pleads Guilty in Unrelated Firearms Cases

21 Nov

Gazette Staff

The office of United States Attorney David Capp has announced that two individuals have been sentenced in unrelated firearms charges this week.

George Black, 53, of Gary, Indiana, was sentenced by Senior District Judge Rudy Lozano to 120 months imprisonment and 3 years of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of possession of a stolen firearm. According to documents filed in this case, Black has 3 prior felony convictions for burglaries in Wisconsin and was on probation for the most recent conviction at the time of his arrest. This case was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives HIDTA Task Force and the Indiana State Police. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Padilla.

Brittini Anderson, 27, of Gary, Indiana, was sentenced by Chief Judge Philip Simon to 24 months of supervised release after pleading guilty to the felony offense of making false statements in the acquisition of a firearm. According to documents filed in this case, Anderson straw purchased a firearm that has not been recovered by law enforcement. Based on her interview with ATF agents, Anderson admitted that she purchased a 9mm pistol for a person she knew could not buy a gun. This case was the result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. This case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Nicholas Padilla.

Additionally, Shamekka Thomas, 29, of Gary, Indiana, pled guilty before Senior District Judge Rudy Lozano to the felony offense of making false statements in the acquisition of a firearm. Sentencing has been set for 1/30/14. This charge was filed as a result of an investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.