Tag Archives: northwest indiana

Merry Christmas . . .

25 Dec A Christmas Story Comes Home

The Northwest Indiana Gazette wishes each and every one of you a Merry Christmas. We pray that there is no news today that is important enough to warrant breaking this solemn occasion. We celebrate the birth of Christ in our homes and we welcome those who join us in doing so. We also welcome those who do not, and simply hope that today may be a day of peace and reflection on the message of redemption that Jesus Christ brought. So to the non-Christian we say Merry Christmas in the spirit of love, redemption and hope. Lets move on to 2014 in peace, having turned the mistakes of 2013 into lessons.

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HazMat Tanker Rolls, Closing Toll Road for 2 Hours

19 Dec haz mat tanker rolls on indiana toll road

Gazette Staff

Lake County-A semi loaded with 30,650 pounds of Sodium Hydroxide Solution rolled
over on east bound Toll Road closing all lanes for almost two hours.

Preliminary investigation by Trooper Aron Weller revealed that at approximately
10:05 a.m., this Thursday, December 19, 2013, morning a 2013 Peterbilt semi pulling
a tanker trailer, driven by Eugene W. Hejhal, 55 of Twin Lakes, Wisconsin was on the
entrance ramp from I-80/94 (Borman Expressway) when he took the ramp too fast to
negotiate the curve portion of the ramp onto east bound I-90 (Toll Road). Hejhal
lost control of his semi as it began to slide off the roadway, jack-knifed and
rolled onto its driver’s side across all lanes blocking all lanes east bound on the
Toll Road.

The semi, owned by Heniff Transportation Systems out of Alsip, Illinois was loaded
with Sodium Hydroxide Solution which is used as an additive for cleaning detergent.
No load was loss.

Hejhal was not injured and was wearing a seat belt.

One lane was reopened at approximately 11:50 a.m. and all lanes were reopened at
1:53 p.m.

Hejhal was cited for Speed Too Fast for Conditions.

The semi/tanker was totaled.
http://s3.amazonaws.com/nixle/uploads/pub_media/user29390-1387484881-media1

City of Gary Says Sheraton Project is Neighborhood Stabilization

19 Dec

by Ken Davidson

At last night’s meeting of the Gary Redevelopment Commission, the Board approved a contract for environmental monitoring of the Sheraton Hotel project. The contract was awarded to Shrewsberry and Associates, LLC of Indianapolis. Shrewsberry and Associates has strong ties to State democrats, including former Chairman of the Indiana House Ways and Means Committee William Crawford. Crawford came under fire for not disclosing his financial interests with the Firm when he was appointed to Ways and Means. Shrewsberry no longer lists its Board of Directors on its website or in public filings that are readily available.

The original Request for Proposals for the demolition called for the contractor to include asbestos remediation and monitoring within the proposal. This additional cost was calculated into the bids submitted by others who were not aware that the Board would later hire another firm and pay that firm separately.

All of this is not unusual for Gary. Although the above is questionable, at best, the Gazette receives reports of such irregularities on a semi-consistent basis. What makes this proposal astounding is how the City apparently plans to pay for the additional cost. The Gazette has learned that the City has included the Sheraton Property in the 2014 Neighborhood Stabilization Plan.

The Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) was established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the purpose of stabilizing communities that have suffered from foreclosures and abandonment. Through the purchase and redevelopment of foreclosed, abandoned and short-sale homes, the program’s goals is being realized.

The grant information provided by the City appears to reference this purpose:

[NSP] appropriates $2,717,859 for the purpose of assisting in the redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes.The grant program is commonly referred to as the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).

The Times of Northwest Indiana Legal Notice 12-19-2013

The Notice goes on, however, to list the “neighborhood surrounding the old Sheraton Hotel and its adjoining garage located at 465 Broadway” as an area of additional need. The Sheraton is not only a commercial property, it lies in the major commercial zone of the City. Sitting between City Hall and a Township owned office building, the structure is blocks from any residential structure. The neighborhoods that SHOULD receive relief under the program will not receive the funding intended for them. In fact, it seems likely that Gary will end up repaying another very large grant to the Federal Government.

With 10,000 abandoned homes, one would think that every cent of the NSP funds would go toward rehabilitation of residences.

Violation of Public Trust-Gary Deeds Beach to Redevelopment

18 Dec

by Ken Davidson

The City of Gary has put up to 90 acres of Marquette Park at risk. At a recent meeting of the Baord of Public Works, the City deeded approximately 90 acres of prime beach land to the Department of Redevelopment. The transfer went unnoticed until it was brought to the attention of the press and the Board by activist Jim Nowacki. The Board and the Department assured all involved that the transaction was a mistake and would be remedied. Today corporation counsel Niquelle Allen flatly denied that the transfer was an error. According to Nowacki, he asked Ms. Allen pointedly why the property was not transferred back to the City. “I asked three times” Nowacki said. Her response was clear and to the point, it was not a mistake. The transfer was what the City intended.

    What is at stake:

 
The property in question includes more than 2500 feet of beach frontage. It also includes a large portion of Marquette Park, which the Regional Development Authority just spent millions to renovate. Although the transfer does not include the pavillion, it does include lands adjacent to the pavilion. The property is described in the GIS system as:

5600-6400 Indian Boundary Appr. Gary: ALL N. TEN MILE LINE & w. OF RIV. S. 31 T. 37
R. 7 90.031 ACRES

The land in question begins at the old US Marine Corps reserve center and runs east to the edge of the Marquette Park parking lot. The understanding of most was that the area west of Lake Street, approximately 4 acres, was to be set aside for redevelopment. One activist stated “you don’t violate the public trust for strangers” implying that there was some plan to transfer the property to a political insider. The transfer apparently leaves the entire parcel open for development.

Calls to Mr. Van Dyk, director of the Department of Redevelopment and to Niquelle Allen, Corporation Counsel had not been returned at the time of this writing.

Reader Outlines Concerns Over Illiana

17 Dec

Letter to the Gazette:

On December 12, 2013, the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission
(NIRPC) voted to accept the Illiana Toll Road into their 2040 Comprehensive
Regional Plan. By voting the Illiana public/private partnership project into
the regional plan, the NIRPC commissioners are allowing the project to clear
one of the many hurdles in its path. Public comment was not allowed at this
final meeting until after the NIRPC commission members had already voted.
NIRPC Chairman and Crown Point Mayor David Uran stated that three meetings
had been held where public comment was allowed and commission members had
reviewed comments submitted by the public. I have my doubts about how many
of the commission members truly read through the valid arguments against
adding this toll road to the commission’s 2040 plan.
> Besides the environmental impact on the region, which has three major
environmental groups filing lawsuits to stop the Illiana Toll Road, two major
business magazines have had eye-opening columns that explain in great detail
the extreme cost to taxpayers when dealing with privately run toll roads.
Openlands, Sierra Club, and Midewin Heritage Association have taken legal
action to stop the toll road based on the inevitable consequences in areas
such as Des Plaines Conservation Area and Midewin Tallgrass Prarie in
Illinois. Bloomberg News and Crain’s Chicago Business both recently printed
columns exposing the fact that overly-optimistic projections take place in
almost all of these road projects. This has led private road companies to
seek “set” payments from the states instead of accepting any risk that tolls
may not match projections. This is a lose/lose situation for the taxpayer.
You pay the toll and pay the state taxes that also pay the difference of
these exaggerated estimates. This is corporate welfare on steroids!
> Illinois Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider let the cat out of the bag in
October of this year when interviewed by Crain’s reporter Greg Hinz. When
people throw around the 28,000 jobs between now and 2043, they are quoting
“job-years”(whatever the heck that means), not total new jobs. The actual
estimate is a possible “940 full-time jobs” created. Forty-seven miles of
road cutting through the most pristine farmland and homesteads, which rely
completely on wells for water, so two governors can create 940 jobs over the
next 30 years. It would be funny if it wasn’t so damn stupid and serious.
> Schneider also completely contradicted Indiana Rep. Ed Soliday’s claim at the
NIRPC meeting that a future Peotone Airport is playing no role in pushing
this project. According to Schneider, traffic projections for Illiana done
by IDOT assumed the Peotone Airport will eventually be built. I would have
told Ed that, but public comment was not allowed.
> At the meeting on the 12th of December, which was conveniently held on a
Thursday at 9:00AM in Portage, Indiana, INDOT Northwest Indiana Chief Bob
Alderman gave an impassioned, nearly 15-minute, speech about how the Illiana
Toll Road will make the Borman and I-65 safer for travel. Really, Mr.
Alderman? You truly believe widening I-65 between U.S. 231 and Route 30 will
make things safe when the toll road will be well south of U.S. 231? You
believe diverting traffic from U.S. 30 and the Borman between 2-percent and
8-percent over the next 30 years is going to make the Borman safe?
> I drove from Hammond to the Portage NIRPC meeting on the Borman in light
traffic and still had to drive ultra-defensively because people were driving
25-miles over the speed limit. How will building a toll road make people on
the Borman drive in a safe manner? Why not widen I-65 up to and south of the
toll road? Unlike what some are reporting in the news, the “widening” of
I-65 is NOT part of the Illiana Toll Road project. It is only being approved
at the same time.
> There is so much misinformation being thrown around in support of this toll
road that it is very hard to decipher truth from fiction at this time. But
what is for certain is that we have the governor of one of the most fiscally
sound state governments in the United States making a deal with one of the
most mismanaged states in the Union. Two major business magazines have
labeled this road a bad investment for Hoosiers. Our water will be
threatened by construction, possible hazardous waste trucking spills, and
distance from Lake Michigan and access to fresh water.
> The Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) transportation research group’s
(TRIP) most recent study says that 11% of Indiana bridges are structurally
deficient and 22.5% of our roads are in poor condition. Between Illinois and
Indiana, well more than 100-million dollars has been spent just studying the
feasibility of the Illiana Toll Road. That money could have been better
spent fixing our current roads and bridges instead of creating temporary jobs
to build a road 22-miles south of the Borman.
> If I weren’t 100-percent convinced that the Illiana Toll Road will fail to
provide the estimated tolls or meaningful, permanent jobs, I wouldn’t be so
determined to stop this project. If I were convinced that building this road
would make the Borman, Route 30, or any other road around here safer, I would
be in favor of it. I don’t believe any of that. But don’t listen to me.
Look up the information for yourself. Study the facts about our watershed,
private toll roads, look up comments from Illinois Transportation Secretary
Ann Schneider and others who are not so adamant supporters of this project.
Is the purpose of a toll road to create permanent jobs?
>
Dan Blankenship, Lowell

Submit your letter, comments or thoughts to the Gazette:

QUICK BURST OF SNOW LIKELY THIS AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING

16 Dec

Gazette Staff

The National Weather Service has issued a special advisory for areas including Lake and Porter County in Indiana.  The advisory warns that:

CONDITIONS CONTINUE TO BE VERY FAVORABLE FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF MODERATE TO BRIEFLY HEAVY SNOWFALL ALONG AND NORTH OF A LINE FROM
ROCKFORD TO AURORA TO VALPARAISO THIS AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING.

The burst is expected to hit Chicago by 3:00 pm and northwest Indiana by early evening. The evening commute may be difficult for many.  The Indiana Department of Transportation reports that all highways are clear at this point and there are no major delays.

Family Asks for Indiana Residents to Share Flyer

16 Dec Teleka Patrick has been missing since dec. 5

The family of Dr. Teleka Patrick is asking anyone along the 80/94 corridor to share the attached flyer in their neighborhoods. Dr. Patrick went missing on December 5, 2013 and her 1997 Lexus ES300 was found on that date in Portage, IN just east of the Porter/Burns Harbor exit. Anyone who saw the vehicle on that date should contact Indiana State Police immediately.  You can view our coverage of the incident here: Teleka Patrick Still Missing, Vigil Planned for Tonight

If you have a local business, please post this flyer in your window.

Teleka Missing Poster (1) (1)