On the "Come Up" with Karen               
2014 Reports on matters pertaining to Gary, Indiana and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's running of the "Steel City"

               Economics create a battle between the haves and the have-nots, and between the takers and the taken.
.                      - Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, 2013

       "Gary, a city that is designed to provide the best government that tax dollars can buy."
                  - Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, 16 Jan 2014 [On selection of Gary as a Strong Cities, Strong Communities participant]

Gary, a community that seems to know its problems but can't figure out a way to solve them.
The shabbiness of the city, and the casualness with which it residents wield guns for self-protection, is shocking.

       - Urban Decay in a City of Steel (CNN Photo Blogs) 

Gary is confident that its worst days are over and the best are yet to come.  "You have to look at Gary with the correct idea-that Gary is an easel on which is to be painted one of the great success stories of the 20th Century."
         - Don Sullivan, Gary Business Development Commission 17 Apr 1988

"Gary is in continual decline.  I've been waiting for it to hit bottom for 50 years.  I haven't heard that thud yet."
 - Greg Reising, 2014

If a building can be abandoned a school, a church, an office complex, a hotel, a grocery store, an apartment building, a gas station it has been abandoned in Gary.
 - Josh Noel, 2014 Tribune Travels

Go To:  ARCHIVES PORTAL for access to all past Gary news reports (2008 to current)
  Go To:  
JACKO JABBER (Reports on matters relating to the demise of Michael Jackson)

Well, here we go with the 2014 report on the running of the City of the Century - Gary, IN - by its elected officials.  This is the third year without Rudy at the helm, as well as the third year a female has occupied the Gary Chief Executive office.  There can be little doubt but Karen Freeeman-Wilson does indeed still have her work cut out for her!

Will the Sheraton finally come down in 2014?
Will Gary land the Boeing plant?  Sadly, we now know that the answer to this question is a resounding NO!
WIll Gary Int'l. become a viable airport?
Will Gary set another receord for murders?

Remember, you may access the earlier reports from the links appearing above, or at the bottom of, this page. 

Seven Shot in Four Separate Incidents in Gary
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[30 Jun 2014]

GARY | Seven people were wounded, one fatally, in four separate shootings in Gary last weekend, police said.

At 2:33 a.m. Saturday, police responded to the 1700 block of Grant St for a report of a man with a gun.  When officers arrived, they saw several people outside and tried to break up the crowd when shots rang out.  A 26-year-old man and a 24-year-old man were struck by gunfire and taken to a local hospital for treatment of their wounds, police said.

At 11 p.m. Saturday, an 18-year-old woman and another female were riding in a vehicle in the 400 block of Roosevelt St when they saw someone fire shots at their vehicle.  Both suffered gunshot wounds and were taken to a local emergency room in a private vehicle, police said.

On Sunday, police responded just after 8:30 a.m. to an alley in the 400 block of Fillmore St for a report of a suspicious vehicle.  When officers arrived, they approached the vehicle and found Jaque Jones, 22, unresponsive inside the vehicle, authorities said.  Jones, of the 400 block of Roosevelt St, was pronounced dead at the scene at 9:40 a.m., according to the Lake County coroner's office.  Jones' cause of death was listed as a gunshot wound to the head suffered in a homicide.

At 11:20 p.m. Sunday, officers responded to the 700 block of Ralston St for a report of shots fired.  When officers arrived, they found an 18-year-old and a 38-year-old with gunshot wounds.  The 18-year-old told police he was standing next to a vehicle with the 38-year-old man seated inside when shots rang out.  Both were taken to a local hospital by ambulance, police said.

The violent weekend followed a double homicide early Thursday in the 1600 block of West Fifth Av.  Police responding to a call of shots fired and a man down about 1:30 a.m. found two men dead.  Daven James, 17, and Derrion Estes, 23, both of Gary, died from multiple gunshot wounds, the Lake County coroner's office said.

There was a gathering at the Fifth Av location before the gunfire, but it was unclear whether the shootings may have been a domestic or gang-related, police said last week.


Gary Schools Need Millions of Dollars in Repairs
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Carmen McCollum
[30 Jun 2014]

GARY | The Gary Community School Corp. needs a minimum of $6.5 million to repair and renovate some of the school buildings that will be open this fall.

Gary schools Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said the money for repairs will come from the general fund.  School leaders hope closing five school buildings and teacher and staff retirements will free up money for capital projects and building improvements.  Repairs for Bailly are expected to come from insurance to restore the storm-ravaged building.

Gary school Facilities Director Charles Prewitt said several of the buildings need roof repairs, painting, new ceiling tile and boiler repairs.  The district has not even been able to keep up with lawn maintenance, and a crew from the Lake County work release program has helped out this summer with lawn work, he said.

Prewitt said five people cut grass, including a couple of temporary people, one plumber, three electricians, one sheet metal worker, one painter, two glazers, four carpenters and two pipefitters.  As a result of vandalism at school buildings, Prewitt said glass windows have been replaced with 40-inch plexiglass.  He said it prevents windows from being broken into but offers little in energy efficiency.

"We are behind on maintenance," Prewitt said.  "We don't have the resources to get everything done that needs to be done.  We've had problems with vandalism.  It's an urban environment with many low-income residents.  It's a difficult situation.  Crime seems to be highest in this area, which has the least amount of economic ability.  It's too late to sugarcoat it.  We can't keep patching these buildings.  It's like putting a Band-Aid on a bullet wound.  My goal is to have a three-year plan, a five-year plan and a 10-year plan for the district.

"We've had to make some hard decisions, and we have had to make them quickly.  We're asking all of our employees to put forth an extra effort to assist us with the impending reorganization.  We hope to begin moving in mid-July," he said.

Gary school leaders have said property tax caps, declining enrollment and a 42% tax collection rate in Gary have hurt the schools.  According to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance in 2014, the city of Gary lost a total of $47 million because of property tax caps.  For the school district alone, that was $9,974,115.  Those tax caps impact funds associated with the capital projects, transportation and bus replacement funds.

Hope for More Money Seen in Next Legislative Session

Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, said she has met with the superintendent and some School Board members to see how the state can be of assistance.  Rogers said she has talked to the Senate Appropriations Committee, a panel instrumental in crafting the state budget and school funding formula of which she is a member, about what might be available from the Indiana General Assembly.

"We will meet next week," she said Friday.  "We need to see exactly what they have done to improve the financial situation of the school district.  I also had a conversation with Luke Kenley (Republican senator from Noblesville), and he is ready to meet with them at any time."

Rogers said next year is a budget year and there may be an opportunity to put together a proposal that can return some dollars to the Gary Community School Corp.  "With a 42% property tax collection, I think the state has some responsibility in making sure we provide what students need to achieve in this city," Rogers said.

Prewitt has a wish list of things that need to be done at each school building.  Then he has a more practical list of things he hopes to accomplish by the time school opens for teachers Aug. 18 with all work done by the start of the second semester in January.

Prewitt said many of the school buildings need new security doors.  Superintendent Pruitt said the district hopes to obtain a federal grant allowing them to upgrade the doors, locks, wall security cameras and camera room.  "Our focus is safer, cleaner, better," Pruitt said.  "We are collectively working to resolve the issues.  We're working with the city of Gary as part of the Great Cities, Great Communities program."

The five Gary schools closed this year Brunswick, Watson, Webster, Lew Wallace and the Lincoln Achievement Center join the other Gary schools that were closed previously bringing the total of shuttered school buildings to 15.  Prewitt said the boilers will be drained in the buildings closed in June, along with draining the pipes.  Prewitt said none of the closed buildings will be heated.  He said the electricity will be on to maintain the alarm system and safety lighting around the building.

The district also voted to close the school service center and will house administrators in a school building.

Finally, Prewitt said the district knows it is responsible for boiler system repairs at Roosevelt College and Career Academy, now run by Tennessee-based EdisonLearning, which took over the failing school three years ago.  The high school had numerous problems during the winter due to lack of heat, burst pipes and flooding in the building.  The Gary Community School Corp. and EdisonLearning signed an operations, maintenance and repair agreement in January.

Last week, Roosevelt closed when Indiana American Water Co. turned off the water in the building, forcing EdisonLearning administrators to send students home.  Those students will be housed at the Gary Area Career Center beginning Monday until issues regarding the water bill have been resolved.


Gary Man Dies of Gunshot to Head
# 13 and Counting
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[29 Jun 2014]

GARY | A 22-year-old Gary man was pronounced dead Sunday morning from a gunshot wound to the head, the Lake County coroner's office said.

Jaque Jones died as a result of a homicide, according to a news release from the coroner's office.  Jones was found in an alley in the 400 block of Fillmore Street. The coroner's office was called to the scene at 8:53 a.m. and Jones was pronounced dead at 9:40 a.m., the coroner's office said.

Further information about the homicide was not available Sunday.


Fuel Plant Fuels Airport Development Controversy
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Keith Benman
[29 Jun 2014]

Some people question why Gary/Chicago International Airport's new private developer was allowed to meet its first $10 million investment benchmark with a development that has nothing to do with aviation or the airport.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson on June 9 revealed that a new alternative fuel plant being built across the street from the airport will count as the first major investment required of Aviation Facilities Co. Inc., known as AFCO, under its 40-year development deal with the airport.  The alternative fuel plant is being developed by lime supplier Carmeuse to supply fuel to its lime-processing facility at Buffington Harbor.

State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, chairman of the House transportation and roads committee, said he lauds the Carmeuse development as a jobs creator for the region, but he wonders what it has to do with the airport, and why AFCO is being given credit.  "How does the Carmeuse development fit with the development of an aviation mini-hub or regional reliever airport?" Soliday asked.  "How does it enhance air commerce?"

There still seems to be no overall vision for the airport or the land surrounding it, Soliday said.  The airport itself has only limited space that can be developed, making adjacent land even more critical to its eventual success, he said.

Bo Kemp, a senior mayoral adviser and a key player in forging the public-private partnership with AFCO, said people have to take a long-range view when it comes to developing the airport and adjacent properties.  "They have to expand their thinking a little bit about what we are trying to accomplish," Kemp said.  "It is all part of our broader drive to create job opportunities and industry here in Gary."

AFCO's potential future involvement in developing 130 acres involved in the Carmeuse deal was the key to sealing it, Kemp said.  That's because the aviation developer's involvement gave both Carmeuse and the city confidence the land can eventually be developed.

AFCO received no commission on the Carmeuse deal, Kemp said.  As for crediting AFCO with achieving its first $10 million in investment as a result of that deal, Kemp said the city believes that's a fair return for helping secure additional land so near the airport.  It could be used for aviation or nonaviation development, he said.

Everyone agrees the $10 million credited to AFCO is important.  That's because its exclusive contract with the airport requires the company to produce $10 million in development activity by mid-2015.  Crediting it with the Carmeuse deal means it has already passed that milestone less than six months after signing its deal with the airport and city in January.  Under the contract terms, AFCO now has four and a half years to raise $15 million more.

When asked about the Carmeuse deal after the June 23 airport authority meeting, Chairman James Cooper said he could not recall if anything about the Carmeuse deal came before the airport authority.

However, airport negotiators and city officials have long said the airport authority maintains control of the airport and must approve all development deals AFCO lands.

The airport's longest-serving private business also criticized the city's move to give AFCO credit for the Carmeuse deal.  "This has nothing to do with the airport," said Gary Jet Center owner Wil Davis.  "Not a thing.  They're just playing with numbers."

Davis has previously criticized the city's January agreement with AFCO as a sweeheart deal.  Last week he said it seems like more than a coincidence that the agreement's first investment benchmark of $10 million aligns perfectly with the value of the Carmeuse deal.


Under Fire:  Gary Firefighters Grapple With Equipment Shortages
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Sarah Reese and Rob Earnshaw
[27 Jun 2014]

GARY | After arriving at an inferno at an abandoned house on Delaware St earlier this month, a Gary fire official immediately called for additional resources.

Flames were licking at an apartment building to the south, which bystanders said was occupied, and two more buildings to the southeast were threatened, Battalion Chief Donnie Williamson said at the scene.  But the Fire Department didn't have enough trucks in service to man the June 16 fire alone, a policy outlined on the department's website shows.

It's just one example, the city's mayor and chief of the resource-strapped fire-fighting force said, of the challenges and public safety concerns faced by the city when emergencies strike.

Gary sent two engines and a ladder truck to the June 16 fire in the 1900 block of Delaware St, Williamson said.  "Every truck in the city was here," he said.

Two engines, a ladder truck, a rescue squad and a battalion chief should respond to an initial alarm, according to the department's website.  When a fire is upgraded to a box alarm, procedure calls for another engine, truck company and chief.

Gary was forced to call for other region departments to help.  The Lake Ridge Fire Department sent one engine.  The Merrillville Fire Department sent a ladder truck, Williamson said.  The fire displaced a mother and her two young children, but no injuries were reported.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and Fire Chief Teresa Everett said they're aware of the department's shortages.  "That was one of the priorities of our administration coming into office, because we understood how outdated and inadequate the equipment was," Freeman-Wilson said.

The mayor said after she took office, the department accepted an engine from the village of Glenwood.  The engine, which Gary received in 2012, was the oldest one the village had in surplus, Glenwood Mayor Kerry Durkin said.  That engine is currently down for repairs, Everett said.

According to the Gary fire chief, five of the city's 11 engines were in service and six were off line for repairs as of Thursday (Do the math and you get a 45% in-service rate!).  Gary also has one engine it's renting from a private company, bringing the total to six.  The Insurance Services Office recommends Gary have seven engines in service, Everett said.

The recommended standard of the National Fire Protection Association for a city with a population of Gary about 79,000 residents is six engines.  Hammond, with about 80,000 residents, is running six engines and has three spares, Hammond Deputy Fire Chief Kevin Margraf said.  Hammond also covers half the square mileage of Gary.

"Once we have everything repaired, we will be on target," Gary's Everett said.  "The ultimate goal is to get all of our apparatus repaired and not have to use a rental."  Everett said the department hopes to reach that goal in 30 to 60 days.

She said any department on any given day could have an apparatus go down for repair or be involved in an accident.  "Would I like a brand new fleet?  I can't imagine any fire chief who would not," she said.

Freeman-Wilson said she sometimes hears critics question why when the city receives money for specific purposes, such as a $6.5 million grant, that money isn't used for fire equipment instead.  "That's demolition money," she said.  "You use it because it's the only thing you can use it for.  If people would ask me, I would tell them ... .  All they think is we don't have our priorities in order or that equipment is not a priority."

Despite a lack of equipment, the department has actually been providing more mutual aid to neighboring communities than it has received, Everett said.  Since Jan. 1, Gary has requested mutual aid 26 times and provided it 34 times, she said.

East Chicago Fire Department has provided mutual aid to Gary twice so far this year, said David Diehl, director of the city's Emergency Management Agency.  Gary has sent help to East Chicago at least two times this year, he said.  Hobart has provided mutual aid to Gary twice this year, said Robert Scott, the city's EMS director and lead fire investigator.  Hobart has not requested Gary's assistance so far this year.  Griffith Fire Chief Roy Schoon said his department provided mutual aid to Gary twice since April 2013 and each time was for a brush fire.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   What this story does not touch upon is the adverse impact this fire fighting equipment shortage has upon homeowner insurance rates.


U.S.S. Booted From S&P 500
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[27 Jun 2014]

An era is over.

U.S. Steel has been booted from the S&P 500, a stock index of the largest and most influential companies in America.

The struggling Pittsburgh-based steelmaker, which has extensive operations in Northwest Indiana and built the city of Gary as a company town, was the world's first billion-dollar company and was once so huge it was known simply as "The Corporation."  It was one of the most valuable companies in the index for much of the early half of the 20th century.

U.S. Steel, whose stock trades under the symbol X, was the largest steel producer headquartered in the United States by volume last year, but only the 13th biggest in the world, according to the World Steel Association.

The integrated steelmaker has failed to make money for five years, after the economic downtown gutted demand for the high-quality, high-margin steel products it makes.  Its stock is one of the most frequently shorted, or bet against, on the S&P 500, a large and commonly followed stock index that is often considered a gauge of the entire U.S. economy.

U.S. Steel also had been a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average for most of the 20th century, but was dropped in 1991 after significant downsizing in the 1980s.  The company is shrinking again and has been laying off nonunion managers and supervisors, including in Northwest Indiana.

Analysts have been speculating that the struggling steelmaker would get dumped from the S&P 500, since it had one of the lowest market values on the list.


Gary Police Investigating Double Homicide
#'s 11 & 12 and Counting
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[26 Jun 2014]

GARY | Gary police are investigating a double homicide that claimed at least one teen, officials said Thursday.

Cpl. Gabrielle King, spokeswoman for the Gary Police Department, said officers were called at 1:30 a.m. to the 1600 block of W. 5th Av for multiple reports of shots fired and a man down.  When officers arrived, they found two young men dead.

King said there was a gathering at the location prior to the shootings, but it was unclear whether it may have been a domestic or gang-related shooting.

Lake County Coroner's office investigators confirmed two victims were in their custody.  One of the victims is a 17-year-old male who died of multiple gunshot wounds suffered in a homicide, investigators said.  The age of the other victim was not known Thursday morning but he is believed to have been a juvenile as well.  The second victim also died of multiple gunshot wounds suffered in a homicide.

Police and coroner's office investigators were working to reach next of kin to help identify the victims Thursday morning.


Great Lakes Steel Production Rebounds by 17,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[24 Jun 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region jumped up to 665,000T last week.  Local production increased by 17,000T, or 2.6%.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, rose to 657,000T, up from 638,000T a week earlier.

Overall U.S. output rose by 1.6% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.88 million tons, up from 1.85 million tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 78.2% last week, up from 76.9% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 76.1% at the same time last year.  Domestic mills have produced an estimated 45.1 million tons of steel this year, a 0.1% decrease from the 45.2 million tons produced during the same period last year.

U.S. steel exports shot up by 7.4% in May over April, while imports of finished steel products rose by 6.4%, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.


Fans Still Flock to King of Pops Home
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Christin Nance Lazerus
[25 Jun 2014]

GARY While the city of Gary has no official plans Wednesday to observe the anniversary of death of Michael Jackson, fans have traditionally paid tribute to the singer at the familys house at 2300 Jackson St.

The small white frame house at 2300 Jackson St. is a required stop for Michael Jackson fans the world over.  Its quiet location near Roosevelt High School causes many passers-by to ask "is this it?" and whether there are tours (not at this time).  They take photos of the house and granite monument identifying it as the childhood home of the King of Pop.

Wednesday marks five years since Jackson died from lethal levels of an anesthetic administered by his doctor.  Theres a noticeable uptick in the steady stream of fans.

For days after Jackson's death, the street was cut off to traffic as thousands made the pilgrimage to the house, leaving teddy bears, flowers, notes of condolence and any number of tokens.  Some fans were inconsolable that Jackson could be dead at age 50.

The house was weathered at the time, and fan visits wore down the grass to a brown mess.  The house now has a black, iron fence, a pristine lawn and attractive landscaping.  The houses siding has been replaced and security features have been added.  The reaction of many on seeing the house:  "I cant believe they raised nine kids there.  It cant be more than a couple hundred square feet."

There have been many fits and starts on plans for a possible Michael Jackson museum being built in Gary, but a small piece of his career may be on display soon.  In the past year, the house located just south of 2300 Jackson St. has been renovated in a similar style, and the Jackson family plans to turn it into a memorabilia museum and gift shop in the near future, sources close to the family said.


Leaky Roof Presents Distractions in Gary City Court
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[25 Jun 2014]

GARY Gary lawyer Kenya Jones was quietly conferring with a court clerk when she was distracted by the steady drip from a leaky ceiling.

Big drops of water landed loudly in a big plastic garbage can sitting in front of the judges podium in Gary City Court.  "Im sometimes sitting there getting sprinkles of water on my face," City Court Judge Deidre Monroe said Monday.

Since late April, the leaky roof has plagued the courtroom at the Public Safety Facility here.  First it was just the one in the center of the room, where a garbage can was placed April 25.  Two rows of seats were moved and the area remains roped off with crime scene tape.  But a few weeks ago, a new, more aggressive leak started directly in front of the bench.

"Im working on it," Cmdr. Pete Sormaz, who is in charge of supportive services, said Monday.  "Our maintenance team thought they identified the problem and resolved all issues in May when we were made aware of the issue.  Unfortunately, the heavy rain has identified other issues," LaBroi wrote in an email in response to questions about the status of repairs.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the city recently learned the problem is a structural issue.  "We must now get someone to address the structural issue prior to fixing the roof leak or it will keep recurring," the mayor stated in an email to the Post-Tribune.  "We learned about the leak in April, but we traced it to a structural issue in the last two weeks," she said.

Monroe said she contacted City Hall earlier this week and inquired about the status of repairs and was told it had been fixed.  "I said it was not," Monroe said.  "I dont know where the hold up is."  Director of Public Works Cloteal LaBroi told the Post-Tribune she has solicited quotes that she expects to present to the Board of Works for consideration on Wednesday.

The city converted the former St. Mary Mercy Hospital to its Public Safety Facility in 2003 at a cost of $15 million.  It houses police headquarters, city court, jail and clerks office, all located in the newer portions of the building.  The courtroom is part of a one-story addition that was used for surgeries until the hospital closed in the early 1990s.


Roosevelt Water Bill Unpaid; Gary Schools, EdisonLearning Clash Over Who's Responsible

Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[23 Jun 2014]

GARY Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy has no water, but who's responsible for the bill not getting paid is a source of contention between EdisonLearning and the Gary Community School Corporation.

Thirty-five students were sent home from the school Monday as a result of the shut-off, EdisonLearning Spokesperson Michael Serpe said.  Many of them were seniors preparing for their end-of-course assessment test to get their diplomas.

Gary Community Schools Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt insisted the school corporation isn't responsible for the payments, saying the Knoxville, Tennessee-based education services provider receives an allocation from the state based on number of students for Roosevelt operations just as GCSC does.

The first year of the takeover, Pruitt said Roosevelt received close to $1 million to evaluate the buildings condition and then keep up with wear-and-tear.  When asked on what they could be spending the allocation, Pruitt said, "Good question."  "If we were their landlord, would we be expected to pay all utilities without some sort of agreement?  Maybe, but they're not our tenant," Pruitt said.

Serpe disagreed sharply with that assessment, saying EdisonLearning has the state to prove it.  "We do not receive an allocation by the state, and part of the contract we entered with state says that Roosevelt belongs to (GCSC)," Serpe said.  "We were hired to provide academic services, and in any school turnaround situation, the district is well-aware of their responsibilities."

Serpe also questioned that if it really were Roosevelt's responsibility, why did GCSC never tell the school.  "We have never received a utility bill, and now, the water is shut off, but it's not turned off at any of the other schools?" he said.  "It's the first day of summer vacation, and all of a sudden the water is shut off?

"We happen to know that the majority of our bills havent been paid since before Edison came in three years ago."  And if the water remains shut off for too long, the air conditioning, which Serpe said is water-based, could be badly affected.  After the trouble Roosevelt had with its heating system during the winter, that would be too much.

"It's been an incredible challenge just to function (in Roosevelt); it's never been a clear collaboration.  And who's getting harmed?  The students," Serpe said.  "They lost nearly three weeks of instruction over the heating issues."

Pruitt said that the state had contacted her, and she will work to find "alternative accommodations" for the students while the situation is handled.  Serpe said on EdisonLearning's end, the state has extended the deadline for students to finish their tests by the end of July, although it hopes to have the students back at Roosevelt by Wednesday.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   To quote the duo of Sonny & Cher:  "And the beat goes on ... ."


IU Trustees Approve Joint IUN/Ivy Tech Building in Gary
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[21 Jun 2014]

GARY The Indiana University Board of Trustees approved the design and building plans Friday for a $45 million arts and sciences building that Indiana University Northwest will share with Ivy Tech Community College.

The three-story, 133,500-square-foot arts and sciences building will house multiple programs of both campuses, including IU Northwest fine and performing arts programs, Ivy Tech science programs, and shared classrooms and informal study spaces.  The building will be on the corner of Broadway and 35th Avenue, just east of IUN.  The Ivy Tech campus, at 1440 E. 35th Ave., is east of the site.

City officials have hailed the new building plan and call it one of the key features of the University Park economic development plan.  The building will span most of a city block, making it a significant construction project and a signature building in Gary, IU officials said.


School Board Member WIlliams to Sue Lake County
Compiled From a Gary Crusader Report
[19 Jun 2014]

Fourth District School Board member Marion Williams recently said stories regarding him owing $556,000 in delinquent property taxes stem from his opposition to the recent school closings.

Williams was one of the board members opposing the closings and has often been critical of the school systems fiscal policies and several contracts the district entered into with private companies.

The Gary School Corporation is currently facing a $29.9 million deficit and a weak 42% tax collection rate has added to the district problems.

Earlier this week Lake County Commissioners instructed county attorney John Dull to initiate legal proceedings against Williams.  If the county wins a judgment against Williams, it can garnish his school board earnings of $9,414 per year.

Williams said he plans to fight what he deemed an unscrupulous collection system by filing a class action lawsuit.  He is encouraging other property owners to join him in the suit.  Williams maintained that when a property is bought at a county tax sale the delinquent taxes are satisfied, but an unscrupulous county policy allows a private collection contractor to sue and collect back taxes from the former property owner.  The collection firm receives 15% of the back taxes collected.  The long-term school board member said many former owners are unaware they are absolved from back taxes when the property is sold by the county.

Williams purchased several properties in the Marshalltown area of the city several years ago with the intention of rehabbing them.  One of the problems he faced was being able to rent the properties once they were rehabbed.  He said the reluctance of the bank to lend money for the rehabbed properties stalled his plans.  "I have always thought that I should invest in Gary," said Williams.

Williams says the taxes on the properties have been inflated due to the overassessment by the county.  He said the houses he purchased for $4,000 and did $20,000 in improvements are being assessed at $143,000.  Records indicate that property owned by Williams have been assessed at $1.2 million.

Williams said efforts to get the Calumet Township Assessors office to address the problem have not been successful.

Williams filed an appeal in 2007 and seven years later in Mach 2014 he received a hearing.  Often taxpayers filing appeals have to wait months and sometimes years before the Property Tax Board of Appeals hears the case.  He said it is unfair to taxpayers filing appeals to have to wait long periods before they are given a hearing.  He said that while waiting for a hearing taxes are accruing on the property in question.

"There are hundreds of citizens who are facing a similar situation and havent been able to get help.  The county is not following the state law when it comes to dealing with delinquent properties," Williams concluded.


Calumet Twp. Trustee Requirng Appointments for Assistance
Compiled Froma nwiTimes Report by Bill Dolan
[19 Jun 2014]

GARY | Residents who repeatedly demand assistance from the Calumet Township Trustees' office will now need appointments to be served.

Trustee Mary Elgin announced this week her office will begin Aug. 1 requiring assistance clients to come to her office only on the days and hours scheduled by their case managers.  Typically, residents requesting township help have been served on a daily, first-come basis.

The township fielded 20,565 requests for assistance in 2013, according a state report.  Cynthia Holman-Upshaw, township assistance deputy, stated in a prepared release that appointments will be scheduled by case managers.  Clients must arrive 30 minutes before their appointed time to help the staff prepare paperwork for their cases.

She said clients who are late or miss their appointments may experience service delays.  She said the office will still service walk-in requests for new applicants and those with medical emergencies and burial assistance requests.


Ruling Cited as Gary Trash Collection Fee Rate Increases
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[18 Jun 2014]

GARY Gary Sanitary District officials say collection rates have improved with a March state ruling that upheld its trash billing process, but theyre still digging out of a $10.16 million hole.

Since the ruling, GSD Executive Director Dan Vicari said the collection rate has improved to 72%.  "For years, the rate was dismal and thats why the inter-fund loans were made," he said.  GSD finance officer Vernetta White said a series of loans have been used to pay Waste Management, the citys trash contractor.

"We have an outstanding balance and it looks like we can't pay it back," she told the Board of Sanitary District Commissioners on Monday.  "We can ask the State Board of Accounts if we can reclassify or forgive the loans."

The board approved a resolution that extended repayment of an inter-fund of $10.16 million from the GSDs general fund to its solid waste fund.  "This is a direct result of people not paying their trash bill," said GSD attorney Jewel Harris Jr.

Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson, who serves as the GSDs special administrator, said the low collection rate is a historic problem that dates back to when service was first privatized in 2009.  "It's never been at the level it should be," she said of the collection fees that are part of a residential sewage bills.  "Were going to have to be very aggressive."

The March ruling by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission affirmed the GSD's contention that residents can't opt out of the trash service.  Under GSD's billing, all payments are first applied to trash collection and then sewage.  The GSD instructs the Indiana American Water Co. to disconnect water service until the customer has satisfied the bill.


Great Lakes Iron Ore Shipments Pick Back Up
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[18 Jun 2014]

Iron ore shipments to Midwestern steel mills are down 26% so far this year, after an unforgiving winter choked the Great Lakes with the thickest and most extensive ice in decades.

Lake freighters bound for Northwest Indiana mills struggled with icy conditions well into April, but shipments finally returned to a normal level last month, according to the Lake Carriers Association.  Iron ore shipments over the Great Lakes reached 6.4 million tons in May, about the same as what it had been in May 2013.

Shipping companies are trying to replenish ore stockpiles at local mills after the worst ice in 35 years.  Coast Guard cutters, which spent nearly three times as many hours breaking ice this winter, did not even allow unescorted vessels to cross Lake Superior until May 2.  The seasonal halt to Great Lake shipping is usually 70 days, but it was more than 120 days this year.


Officials Plan to Sue Gary School Board Member for Back Taxes
Compiled From a NBC News Chicago Report
[17 Jun 2914]

Officials in Lake County said they plan to file a lawsuit to recover more than $566,000 in back taxes owed by a school board member in Gary, Indiana.

Marion Williams admitted to owing the debut but said he won't pay it because he's a victim of the city's depressed real estate market and because some of the properties he owned were divided among his ex-wife and children.

The properties are among thousands of abandoned or dilapidated properties in the city, which has a 42% collection rate contributing to the school district's $23.7 million budget deficit.

Gary schools Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt declined comment.

Lake County Treasurer John Petalas said many of Williams' delinquent properties are scheduled to go on auction at his annual tax sale later this summer.

Without the money owed by Williams and others, the school district was recently forced to close six schools.


State Police Looking into Suspected DUI Stop of Gary Official
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[17 Jun 2014]

GARY An Indiana State Police trooper stopped the citys director of communication early Saturday on suspicion of drunken driving, but she was not arrested and state police are investigating the incident, according to state police.

About 1 a.m., Trooper Gary Runde stopped a car driven by Chelsea Stalling Whittington, 42, of Gary, in the 4700 block of Broadway.  Whittington "immediately identified herself," and Runde sought counsel from his supervisor, state police spokeswoman Sgt. Ann Wojas said.

Rundes supervisor, Sgt. Dwayne Dillahunty, a Gary resident, asked for Gary patrol supervisors to respond to the scene, but Gary police did not interfere in the traffic stop, police said.

Gary officers at the scene said Runde claimed that he performed a "preliminary field sobriety test" that Whittington failed.  But Wojas said she was told no such test was given, which would not have been the usual procedure in such a stop.  Wojas said an inquiry is underway to determine exactly what happened and why certain decisions were made.

Whittington acknowledged Monday that she was stopped by police but declined further comment, citing the citys policy on personnel matters.  She did say, however, that neither she nor her husband was driven home by police.

Whittington, a lifelong Gary resident, formerly was the spokeswoman for Gary Community School Corp., and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson hired her to handle communications for the city.

In a statement Monday, Freeman-Wilson said she was aware of the traffic stop "that led to conduct by city personnel that is not consistent with the standards set by this administration.  As a result of information revealed to date, I will handle this as a personnel issue.  There will be an independent investigation and I will address this matter fully once the investigation has been completed."

Police Chief Wade Ingram, who was made aware of the traffic stop shortly after it occurred, declined to comment.


Great Lakes Steel Output Drops by 44,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[17 Jun 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region plunged to 648,000T after two Northwest Indiana blast furnaces went offline.

Overall U.S. output ticked down by 0.2% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Local production declined by 44,000T, or 6.3%.  Output fell after ArcelorMittal idled the No. 7 furnace at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor East in East Chicago for a major maintenance project.  The No. 8 blast furnace at Gary Works also went down after a disruption.  Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in Indiana and the Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, rose to 638,000T, up from 596,000T a week earlier.  Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.85 million tons, up from 1.845 million tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 76.9% last week, up from 76.7% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 76.1% at the same time last year.  Domestic mills have produced an estimated 43.2 million tons of steel this year, a 0.2% decrease from the 43.3 million tons produced during the same period last year.

U.S. steel exports rose by 3.8% to 1.08 million net tons in April, the second straight month of growth, according to the American Institute for International Steel.  Exports to Mexico grew 6.9% to 368,215 net tons, and exports to the European Union rose 16.4% to 34,942 net tons.  U.S. exports to the Dominican Republic soared to 24,199 net tons, a 13-fold increase from March to April.


Gary School Official Owes $566,000 in Property Tax
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Bill Dolan and Carmen McCollum
[15 Jul 2014]

GARY | One of the city's own school board members is one of the many derelict property owners whose tax avoidance has helped push the district into closing six of its public schools.

The Lake County Treasurer is trying to collect more than $566,000 in delinquent taxes and penalties from real estate owned under the name of Marion R. Williams, who has represented the Gary School Corp.'s 4th district since 2008.

County records indicate Williams has declined for years to pay taxes on 96 parcels, many of them in Gary's down-on-its-luck Marshalltown neighborhood, with an assessed value of more than $1.2 million.  Williams acknowledges the tax debts, noting, however, some of the properties he owned were divided among his ex-wife and children following a divorce, although county records still reflect him as the owner.

Williams said he has no intention of making good on these delinquent properties, seeing himself as a victim of the city's profoundly depressed real estate market.   "I wasn't making a profit from them.  I'm not going to be paying taxes if there is no reward or profit in what I am doing.  Part of it is about being a good businessman," he said Friday.

That outrages William Fair, a Gary resident.  "As a taxpayer myself, I find that incredibly arrogant."  Fair noted Williams voted against the school closings in spite of the district's declining enrollment and revenue.  "I realize his taxes wouldn't make a significant difference, but what kind of example its that?" Fair asked.  Williams said, "I probably pay more taxes than most folks."

Gary schools Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said she was unaware of Williams' business ventures or tax situation and would have no comment.

County Treasurer John Petalas said state law requires the Gary school district and his office to work together to garnish unpaid taxes from the salaries of its employees, but Gary has yet to do its part by sending an annual list of school employees so his office can check off those with delinquencies.

State records indicate Williams, as a school board member, received $9,414 from the school district last year and $11,534 in 2012.  Indiana law calls for school board members to get $112 for every regular school board meeting they attend and up to $62 for attendance of committee meetings.

Williams said he began acquiring many of the properties in the mid 1980s at tax sales, some vacant lots for $25 to $99 apiece.  "I thought Gary was on the rise, and I bought these properties as an investment," he said. No such revival has taken place.  "The population in Gary has been reduced by 100,000 people, and the demand for units has declined.  It became a losing proposition.  There is not a sufficient number of renters.  There are not a sufficient number of buyers, and there is a tremendous amount of vandalism."

Williams said, "Even if you put money into them and remodel the house, you can't get that money out.  The banks are not financing property in Gary.  People are not investing in Gary."  He said he put thousands of dollars of improvements into one house in Marshalltown only to have its assessed value jump to $140,000.  "When the property is over-assessed, you can't get your money out of it," Williams said.

Edward Gholson, chief deputy assessor for Calumet Township, said, "We hear that a lot."  He said his office has had many meetings with Williams over his assessments and that he is aware he can appeal to the county and the state if he remains dissatisfied.

Williams said blaming him is misguided, noting, "There are a total of 12,000 empty houses in Gary."

Lake County Treasurer John Petalas said many of Williams' delinquent properties are scheduled to go on auction at his annual tax sale later this summer in the hope of recouping taxes owed to the school district, but he said the prospects are not good.  "Often people like him buy land from tax sales on speculation that failed, and they just let them sit there," he said, adding many Gary properties like Williams' go through tax sales year after year without any buyer interest.

Williams said he wishes someone would buy the properties and take them off his hands.


Larry Webb Says Taking His Business and Leaving Gary
Compiled From a Gary Crusader Report by Louise Scott
[5 Jun 2014]

Larry Webb is fed up with trying to run his businesses in the city of Gary without any support from the administration.  Although he looked at it as a lost cause some time ago, it was his wife who was holding him back in the decision to leave the city.  She has now changed her opinion and Webb has taken on the opinion that the problem with Gary is that everybody in the city is looking for something for nothing so he is taking his businesses and moving out.

Webb has been in business in the city of Gary for more than 60 years.  He has been the owner of Eclipse Charter Bus Service since 1999, the oldest limousine company in the area, a general contractor and the owner of U-Move Company.

Webbs problems began when he purchased the closed Beckman Middle School from the Gary Community School Corporation for $100,000.  He said he invested $1 million into the rehabbing of the school before he went through the citys zoning board and approval from the city council for him to operate.

The city said the neighborhood surrounding the school was not welcoming to Webb locating his fleet of buses idling at various times emitting exhaust fumes.  Webb said, "It wasnt the neighbors that didnt want me there.  The zoning board OKd it.  It was the city council that voted me down and didnt give me a reason why.  They voted 9 to 0 as a no vote."

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said, "I was told by the council because of the outcry from the community there would not be a variance granted for the intended use of the Beckman School building.  There were people from within the community that were speaking out that did not want his business operating there and they are still raising sand about that."

Webb said to keep him from going to court, the city offered him the empty Ford dealership building in the 3000 block of Grant Street.  Webb said, "They offered me the dealership building, but once I got it they said I had to bid on it.  I was the only bidder at $1,000 per month but they said it wasnt enough.  They said $6,500 per month, but I knew we could have been going on and on with this for months.

The mayor said given Mr. Webbs history in the community and given that fact that he was trying to expand his business because he had some opportunities for federal contracts, it made sense to try and come up with a solution.  She said, "I immediately said if there was something that we could do, the Ford dealership would be that solution.  Mr. Webb did not want to pay.  He offered $1,000.  We didnt ask for $6,500 and we werent going to accept $1,000.

"We were trying to work with Mr. Webb, we did it in good faith and we werent trying to gouge him.  We were just trying to get a fair price for the building.  What we could have done was said this is an unfortunate situation, we werent involved in it and we arent going to do anything about it.  I did not think that was the way you treat someone that has been a pillar in this community," said Freeman-Wilson.


Gary Lew Wallace Marks Final Graduation
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[12 Jun 2014]

GARY The 101 new graduates of Lew Wallace STEM Academy walked into history Wednesday as the Class of 2014 became the schools final graduating class.

Last week, the school board voted to shutter the aging school in the heart of Glen Park at 415 W. 45th Ave.  Despite a $6 million infusion of federal improvement money in the past three years, Lew Wallace couldnt shake its "F" grade status with the Indiana Department of Education and faced state sanctions for six straight years of poor academic performance.

That made Lew Wallace an easy target for closure as the board grappled with shuttering schools because of a growing $27.3 million deficit fueled by a declining district enrollment and a new state funding distribution method.  Property tax caps and a low property tax collection rate compounded the financial crisis.

Lew Wallaces shabby physical shape also led to its downfall. Opened in 1926, the school is named after Civil War general Lew Wallace, also the author of "Ben Hur." Its newest feature, a gymnasium, opened in 1972.

Lew Wallaces closing leaves the Gary Community School Corp. with two high schools the West Side Leadership Academy and the specialized Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy. A third high school, Roosevelt, was taken over by the state in 2011 but could return to the districts control in 2016.

The school board may reopen Lew Wallace as a citywide middle school, but the board hasnt made a decision yet.

Meanwhile, Wednesdays commencement was a typical one with parents cheering their kids on and speeches encouraging graduates to dream big and take risks.  Salutatorian Richard Spanns words resonated with the audience as he recapped his high school years, saying: "Im happy to be alive because at any moment your life can be taken away from," he said in apparent reference to the violence students experience in the city.  (Evidently, during the course of his education Salutatorian Richard was never taught that one never ends a sentence with a preposition?)

It was a school in the community that I believe gave kids a proper foundation.  Its like a monument in the community.  Anonymous

Lew Wallace Fight Song

Hail to Lew Wallace
Hail to Lew Wallace,
Fight for her fame;
Keep her colors flying,
Glorify her name;


Were loyal Lew Wallace,
To us youll eer be dear
And to the colors of black and gold,
Cheer, Lew Wallace, Cheer!


Great Lakes Steel Production Stays Steady
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[11 Jun 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region dipped slightly to 692,000T after hitting a new high for the year a week earlier.

Overall U.S. output declined by 2.6% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Local production ticked down by 1,000T, or 0.1%.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, fell to 596,000T, down from 637,000T a week earlier.  Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.845 million tons, down from 1.895 million tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 76.7% last week, down from 78.8% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 76.1% at the same time last year.  Domestic mills have produced an estimated 41.3 million tons of steel this year, a 0.3% decrease from the 41.5 million tons produced during the same period last year.

U.S. steel exports rose by 3.8% to 1.08 million net tons in April, the second straight month of growth, according to the American Institute for International Steel.  Exports hit their highest level since October, and were 3.7% higher than in April 2013.

Year-to-date exports were down by 6.3%, largely because the harsh winter slowed trade in January and February.


Illinois Man Charged in February Shooting Death
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[11 Jun 2014]

A 19-year-old man was charged Tuesday in a February shooting death in Gary.

Cordell K. Hull, who lists an address in Calumet Park, Illinois, was charged in Lake Superior Court with murder and murder in perpetration of a robbery in the killing of Tyrece Harris, 18, who was found dead in his green SUV Feb. 10 at 8th Av and Mathews St in the Brunswick neighborhood (2014 Gary Murder #1).  Harris suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

Witnesses told police Harris sold marijuana and that someone with a 773 area code had called repeatedly the night before and the day of the homicide.  Gary police Detective Alex Jones obtained phone records that showed 14 calls from that number to Harris phone.  A search of a law enforcement database showed that phone number was associated with Hull, who had been a suspect in a battery in November involving a person who lived down the street from the homicide scene.

Three days after the homicide, police went to a home in the 5000 block of West 7th Avenue and identified three men, including Hull, who initially gave a fake name.  After getting permission to search the residence, police recovered a .45-caliber handgun that was examined and linked to a spent casing found in the SUV and the bullet recovered from Harris.

A witness told police that Hull had been calling Harris to buy marijuana.  The witness said he gave Hull $20 for marijuana, and Hull had $10 of his own.  Hull walked to meet with Harris and returned about 30 minutes later with more than $30 worth of marijuana and the handgun in his possession.  He gave the witness his $20 back.  Hull told the witness he had to "finesse him," meaning rob Harris.  Police found the marijuana in the home.


Blast Furnace Idled at Local Mill
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[10 Jun 2014]

An unplanned outage occurred at the No. 8 blast furnace Gary Works, the nation's largest steel mill.

"On Sunday (June 1), Gary Works had an incident without injury which resulted in a disruption of the operation of the #8 blast furnace."  The incident forced U.S. Steel to shut down one of the four blast furnaces at Gary Works for an undetermined period of time.  The furnace is the smallest at the mill on the southern shore of Lake Michigan and is capable of producing 3,300 tons of pig iron per day, according to the American Institute for Steel Technology.

The company said in a statement, "Repairs are progressing."  Trade publications estimate repairs could take three to six weeks.  U.S. Steel spokeswoman Sarah Cassella declined to comment.


Gary Backs Industrial Park, Plant Expansion
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[10 Jun 2014]

GARY By early next year, Gary may be home to an alternative fuel production plant on the northwest side, according to city and company officials.

But the bigger prize may be a deal the city struck with Carmeuse Lime, an industrial minerals company, to develop an industrial park in Buffington Harbor, now home to Majestic Star Casino and plenty of unused land.

Carmeuse Lime operations manager Jeff Bitner said the company sought help from the city in acquiring 200 acres after reaching an impasse with the casino owners.  The company, which paid $10 million for the land, "found the mayor and her team very helpful and innovative in finding a solution to bridge those gaps and ultimately find a win-win-win solution," Bitner said.

As part of the deal between Gary and Carmeuse Lime, 70 of the 200 acres will go to the company's expansion, with the balance conveyed to the city to attract clean technology businesses, according to a news release issued by the city.  Of the 130 acres going to Gary, the city and Carmeuse Lime will split any revenue generated from future development of 60 of those acres.

"There's a lot of interest in that area, and we haven't had a great opportunity like this to place a lot of these interested businesses," Van Dyk said, declining to name companies interested in the industrial park.  "This is just the beginning of a lot of opportunity and a lot of development in that area."

The proposed plant, 6480 Industrial Highway, would cost $8 million to $10 million to build next to the Gary/Chicago International Airport.  Besides the construction work (30% of which is earmarked for Gary companies and employees), 30 to 40 full-time jobs from materials handling to clerical and lab technicians will be created, according to city and company officials.

Bitner said no tax incentives or subsidies will be used to finance the plant.  The deal between Gary and Carmeuse includes a $250,000, 10-year investment in workforce development, part of an overall commitment to developing the area, officials said.

Along with the city's focus on "eds and meds," or attracting educational center and medical businesses to Gary, "this is something we believe is on the cutting edge," Freeman-Wilson said of the planned industrial park and plant.


Casino Revenues Improve
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Karen Caffarini
[10 Jun 2014]

Two Northwest Indiana casinos chalked up the region's first year-over-year increases in revenue for 2014 in May, while declines slowed at other casinos in the region and across the state.

Ameristar Casino's $20.2 million in revenue reflected a 3.4% increase over last May, while Blue Chip Casino's $14 million in revenue was 3% higher than a year ago.  Ameristar is in East Chicago, and Blue Chip is in Michigan City.

Horseshoe Hammond's $38.5 million in revenue reflected a 6.3% drop, Majestic Star Is $8.6 million was 2.7% less than the previous May and Majestic Star IIs $6.0 million was a 20% drop.  The Majestic Star Casinos are in Gary.

The five casinos took in a total of $87.4 million in revenue during may, 3.6% less than in May 2013.

Matt Schuffert, vice president and general manager of Ameristar Casino, said May was a "great month for us.,"  Dan Nita, senior vice president and general manager of Horseshoe Hammond, said attendance at the Hammond casino was down 6% compared to May 2013.

Northwest Indiana casinos have seen their year-over-year revenue declines improve each month since January, when there was a 17% drop from the previous January.  That was the lowest percent decline weve seen statewide this calendar year," he said.  "Every month this year we've seen the decline get smaller."

On the downside, this is the first May in a decade that Indiana's total gambling revenue has dipped below $200 million, and the state didn't have the racinos in 2003, Feigenbaum said.


Fraction of Gary Officers Passed Promotion Tests Last Month
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[6 Jun 2014]

GARY | More than 100 Gary officers took a promotion test last month, but only about a fraction passed the test, members of the Gary Police Civil Service Commission learned Thursday night at the board's monthly meeting.

Administrator Angela Brown read a list of those in each rank who passed:  four out of six (2/3) for captain, nine of 18 (1/2) for lieutenant, three of 32 (3/32) for sergeant and only one of 52 (1/52) for corporal.  17 out of 108 total passed; 15.7%

Twenty-one challenges were filed on the corporal test, 27 for sergeant, 11 for lieutenant and four for captain.  With 63 challenges to various questions, the commission decided to schedule a special daytime executive session to discuss them.  Chairman Oliver Gilliam urged the board to set the meeting on challenges as soon as possible.  "These officers deserve for us to move on that as soon as possible," he said.

Most of the agenda focused on scheduling other sessions, including several days later this month to interview 53 applicants.  Chief Wade Ingram said the Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Hobart has 10 spots for Gary recruits if the city can complete the hiring process before classes begin Aug. 4.

The department roster continues to drop as officers seek employment elsewhere.  Patrolman Nicolas Deem resigned to join the Lake Station police department.  At least two others are using vacation time while they work at other, non-law enforcement jobs.

The commission plans to meet Aug. 5 to discuss changes in rules and regulations governing reserve officers.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Who writes this stuff, and where and the heck did they learn how to write?  "[O]nly about a fraction?" Either all passed, or all did not.  Anything less than all is a fraction, is it not?  What constitutes "about a fraction?


Gary to Close Lew Wallace, Five Other Schools
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
                    and a nwiTimes Report by Carmen McCollum
[4 Jun 2014]

GARY Nearly 2,200 students could land in new schools in the fall after the Gary School Board voted Tuesday to close six of its 17 schools.

The city's school district, once one of the largest in Indiana, is facing a $27.3 million budget deficit and a very uncertain future.

Following heated arguments from the audience that packed into the boards committee room, board members voted 4-2 (Board president Rosie Washington missed Tuesdays meeting because she was hospitalized with an undisclosed illness.) to close the Lew Wallace STEM Academy, Dunbar-Pulaski Middle School, Watson Academy for Boys, Brunswick and Webster elementary schools and the Lincoln Achievement Center.  Watson will become a "school within a school" at the Bailly Preparatory Academy or Williams Elementary.

A proposal to convert Lew Wallace into a citywide middle school was scrapped.  Instead the high school was on the chopping block.  Dunbar-Pulaski also was on the list of schools to close.  "We are hoping to petition the state to use one of the buildings as a middle school," Pruitt said.  "As you know, Lew Wallace and Dunbar-Pulaski were in the sixth year of consecutive academic failure.  We have to make decisions.  So that's what we're doing.  Lew Wallace may not reopen.  We're continuing conversations with the state about whether it will be Lew Wallace or Dunbar-Pulaski that reopens."br>

The drastic changes in the final weeks of the school year drew fire from the public and from two board members.  Williams said he'd like to see a three- to five-year strategic plan.  "I have not seen the numbers presented in the way I'd like to see them.  Not enough information has been presented to me to support closing six schools," he said.  King-Smith agreed with Williams.

King-Smith leveled criticism at schools Superintendent Cheryl Pruitts administration, saying it failed to communicate with the public on the closings.  "Morale is low for good reasons.  Effective leadership is key moving forward.  The problem for me is a lack of planning," she said.  "To receive the information at the last minute is an injustice to everyone.  To put this kind of pressure on stakeholders is unfair," said member King-Smith.

After the meeting, Michael Washington, the school systems chief financial officer, said he didnt have an estimate on how much money would be saved by the closings.  He said it would depend on the staff who remain and their salaries.  Pruitt said she expects more than 200 jobs to be lost in the closings.  Washington did say the huge budget deficit the district faces required the tough action.  "We have too many staff," he said, offering comparisons with neighboring school districts.

Gary Teachers Union president Joseph Zimmerman blamed charter schools and vouchers for eroding the districts enrollment.  "We have to look at how we got to this point.  Across the city, there are 4,000 plus (students) in charter schools.  This is the Wal-Martization of our community," he said, referring to the nonunion charters and private schools.  Zimmerman said charters offer bright new buildings and a safe and orderly environment.  "Thats where weve failed," he said.

From the audience, resident Joe L. White blasted the move to close Brunswick, a neighborhood school of 600 students, telling the board that "youll lose 350 children to charter schools."  A Brunswick teacher said she polled her students and half didnt plan to return to the Gary schools in the fall.

District officials blamed property tax collection rate, reduced state revenue, declining enrollment and property tax caps for their financial problems.  Moore, voting for the closures, said the city has lost 50% of its population, 60% of the staff doesn't live in the city, and the tax collection is at 42%.  "This is a very uncomfortable decision but it is one that has to be made," she said.  The district is struggling to find money to repair aging buildings and meet its payroll and pension obligations.

The school closings will leave Gary with more high-profile shuttered buildings, just as it receives a $6.6 million grant to demolish abandoned homes.

Under Pruitt, the school district has revamped its technology program and is now offering more computer labs in its schools and will soon be host to two high-powered Internet connections.  But because of serious financial issues and poor academic scores, the Indiana Department of Education has labeled Gary as a high-risk district. The state is managing all of the districts federal funds and is leading a teacher training program aimed at improving classroom performance.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   'Tis indeed sad to witness the closure of my alma mater (Class of 1964).  It will be even more difficult to watch the complex rot away and disintegrate, just as Froebel did; where today only a plaque remains.  These buildings are architectural gems that, like many others throughout Gary, are fated to be lost to future generations.


Great Lakes Steel Output Highest in Six Months
Compiled From nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[3 Jun 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region hit a new high for the year after reaching 693,000T last week.

Local production increased by 16,000T, or 2.6%.  Steel tonnage in the Great Lakes region reached its highest point since the first week of December 2013, when local mills produced 708,000T of steel.  Overall U.S. output rose by 1% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, fell to 637,000T, down from 642,000T a week earlier.  Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.895 million tons, up from 1.875 million tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 78.8% last week, up from 78% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 76.5% at the same time last year.  Domestic mills have produced an estimated 39.5 million tons of steel this year, a 0.4% decrease from the 39.69 million tons produced during the same period last year.

Steel imports rose by 15% in March, capturing 27% of the overall U.S. market, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.


Budget Forces Gary Vote on 5 School Closings
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[3 Jun 2014]

GARY The school board is in a prickly, lose-lose situation as it prepares to determine the fate of five schools proposed for closing.  It's expected to vote on a closing recommendation at a meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the School Service Center, 620 E. 10th Place.

If the board votes to shutter a quarter of its 16 schools, it risks alienating parents who could counter by sending their children to charter schools or use vouchers to place their children into private schools.  The school district can't afford more enrollment losses.  Officials say about 5,000 students have left since 2008, leaving today's enrollment at 7,647.

The board is facing a $23.7 million budget deficit this year, and Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said the school system has lost $100 million in recent years because of declining enrollment and revenue, property tax caps and low property tax collections.  The district has struggled to pay its employee retirement benefits and nearly missed a payday recently.  Only "select" vendor service bills are paid on time, with others waiting weeks and months for payment.

It also can't afford costly repairs for its aging buildings and facilities, like the track at the West Side Leadership Academy deemed unfit by the Indiana High School Athletic Association.  It's having trouble keeping grass cut at its schools after expending most of its budget clearing snow during the winter.  Even an American flag flying over the Lincoln Achievement Center is in tatters.

Leslie Leslie, the district's insurance agent, said some schools are in such bad shape, theyre uninsurable.  She said schools that are closed will come off the district's insurance policy.

The schools being considered for closure include Brunswick Elementary, 5701 W. 7th Ave.; Webster Elementary, 3720 Pierce St.; Watson Boys Academy, 2065 Mississippi St., and Lincoln Achievement Center, 1988 Polk St.

The board is deciding whether to close Lew Wallace STEM Academy or Dunbar-Pulaski Middle School.  The repair price tag at Lew Wallace was estimated at $2.8 million, compared to $960,000 at Dunbar-Pulaski, according to board president Rosie Washington.  Earlier it appeared that Dunbar-Pulaski would close, and Lew Wallace would house a freshman academy and citywide middle school.  At a work session Saturday, the school board couldn't reach a consensus over which school to close.  Both schools face state action and June public hearings because of six straight years of poor academic performance.

The harsh winter was hard on school boilers, especially at Roosevelt College and Career Academy, a school taken over by the state for academic reasons.

One frustrated Brunswick parent criticized the board last week, asking why it took so long to announce the closings.  "It's not like you didn't know there was a financial problem," Dawn Jones said.  School officials have a short window now to notify affected teachers and staff and begin transitioning students and staff to other schools.

The decisions are tough ones, acknowledged Washington, a retired Gary teacher, who said she "had no idea of the politics involved with serving on this board."  "We know its going to cost us to keep buildings open," she said.  "We know were going to have some folks upset if we close some buildings, but we have to attack the elephant in the room.  They're not easy decisions, but decisions the board must make.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Trouble keeping the grass cut, high snow removal costs, tattered flags.  How about some parental/community involvement here?  Could/Should not interested players come together and donate there services to perfrom some of these tasks without cost to the district?  No one is willing to buy/donate a flag for Lincoln?  Everyone wants to take, no one wants to give.


Mayor Fills Vacancy on Sanitary Board
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[3 Jun 2014]

GARY The Gary Sanitary Board welcomed a new member at its meeting Monday and learned it would recoup an outstanding debt from Lake Station.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson appointed Tramel Raggs, son of City Clerk Suzette Raggs, to replace Vance Kenney, who resigned from the board..
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Once again, it appears we are looking at an appointment based on "who you know," as opposed to qualification?


Smith's Mayoral Bid a Call to Action
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Christin Nance Lazerus
[2 Jun 2014]

GARY | The trees in front of the shuttered Emerson School were decorated with posters reading "Imagine Gary if ..." and full of aspirations for the beleaguered city:  Turning abandoned buildings into community centers for youth, regaining population, and developing a Michael Jackson museum to generate tourism dollars.

It was the setting for Syron "Sy" Smith's Sunday afternoon announcement that he is running for mayor next year.  Smith, a community activist, said it was more than a political announcement, but a call to action:  "Change Gary Now."  "This town does not have to die," Smith said.  "Let's put our children on the pathway to success."

Its not Smith's first foray into politics.  He ran for the Chicago's 15th Ward Alderman post in 2010, when he was a resident of the Englewood neighborhood.  Though Smith said he resided in Gary's Glen Park neighborhood as of 2003, it is unclear if he is currently a Gary resident.

Smith and wife, Jamika, have run the National Block Club University, a 501(c)3, for almost 15 years.  It helps direct youth away from crime-ridden streets and into career clubs.  For example, students in the construction club have helped rebuild porches for the elderly in some communities, fostering new and productive relationships, Smith said.

Smith said that he plans to meet with Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson soon about implementing the block club concept as a preventative measure before police use sweeps in the streets.  "There is a good reason that police do street sweeps, but there are preventative measures and resources to reach people before that point," he said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Perhaps we could get Mary Elgin to check the license plates on the Smith family cars?  I understand she may be in the market for a part-time gig!  [QUERY:  When did "preventative" become a word?  How does its meaning differ from 'preventive?' ]


Wallace Alumni Tour High School
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[1 June 2014]

GARY Tyra Stupar was excited to come back to see her alma mater, Lew Wallace High School, right up until she walked into the room that housed the pool.

Stupar, of Miller's Gary section and who graduated from Lew Wallace in 1975, was a freshman when the pool a state-of-the-art, Olympic-size wonder was in its second year.  She timed swim meets and remembered its majesty during a reunion and walk-through of the school Saturday morning for the Classes of 1963 through 1978.

Seeing it now unfilled and unused almost broke her heart.  "It's empty and destroyed," Stupar said, taking a breath.  "It's really sad to see it in that state."

Alumni from Florida, Ohio, South Carolina, Arizona and elsewhere heeded fellow alumnus Rich Paskash's call a few weeks ago, when he said he was going to put together a reunion on the premise that Lew Wallace was facing closure in Gary Community School Corp.'s bid to consolidate and save money.  School board members have since said the school, opened in 1931, could stay as a middle school and freshman academy.

Paskash contacted School Board member Nellie Moore to get permission for the reunion.  Moore said if he could get it together before school let out for the year, she saw no problem with it.  "Dr. Moore was so helpful in getting this together.  We can't thank her enough," Paskash, of Merrillville, said.

The alumni snapped pictures and marveled at the school, which used to be three separate buildings.  As far as Paskash is concerned, there's nothing wrong with it structurally, although the air conditioning was off, which made it uncomfortable for many.  "It needs interior work, which is minor, but structurally, it's great," he said.

Alan Gregory, of Calumet Township, said he doesn't understand the logic of closing Wallace, which was known as such a good school with dedicated teachers.  "Wallace was the only high school on the south side of the city, and youre going to tell me that its cheaper to bus kids to West Side?" Gregory said.  "I can't understand that especially since its location.  At one point, it was a K-12."

Janice Lee recalled the graduating Class of 1967 had 511 students.  Now, there are around 600 students total.  "Even though we were so large, there's a special bond among all of us.  We're still the Hornets," Lee said.  "I still have dreams where I reach the top of the stairs and Im wondering where Im supposed to go."


Steel Stats
Compiled From a Daily Commerical News Report by Ian Harvey
[30 May 2014]

U.S. steel has been struggling with new technology at its facility in Gary.  The harsh winter caused ice issues on the Great Lakes slowing freighter traffic.  Steel analyst Charles Bradford said the Gary plant issues have cost the company close to half a billion dollars.


Gary Roosevelt Students Graduate
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Carmen McCollum
[30 May 2014]

GARY | It's been a rocky year for students at the Roosevelt College and Career Academy -- missing school due to snow and lack of heat, then dealing with the state finding mold and violations of air quality in the school.

But the students persevered.  Of the 112 seniors, 61 -- about 54% -- graduated Friday to the cheers of a packed auditorium at the high school.

The graduation rate at Gary Roosevelt has improved over last year, when previous school superintendent Vanessa Ronketto said of the 134 seniors, 63 graduated or 47% in 2013.  This year, Roosevelt Principal Donna Henry said she expects another 10 students or so to complete the work for their diplomas by the end of the summer.

Of the graduates, Henry said several have been accepted into colleges, universities or the military.

Roosevelt, operated by Tennessee-based EdisonLearning, has two more years on its contract with the state.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   While the 2014 graduation rate of 54% represents an improvement, it is a sad day in public education when every other student in the senior class fails to earn a diploma.


Like a Good Neighbor?
Compiled From a Reuters Report by Mary Wisniewski
[28 May 2014]

More than 3,000 guns, or 20% of all guns recovered from crime scenes in Chicago during the same time period, were sold by just four local dealers - three in the Chicago suburbs and one in Gary, Indiana; Westforth Sports, 4704 Roosevelt St.


Airport Group Hires Gary Man as First Permanent Employee
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[30 May 2014]

GARY | The first permanent employee of the public-private partnership between Gary/Chicago International Airport and private contractor AvPorts of Virginia is a Gary man, the airport authority board learned Thursday.

AvPorts President and CEO Ozzie Moore introduced Bill Outlar of Gary as the partnerships chief financial officer.  Moore said his company will seek to hire in Gary for key positions wherever possible.  "(Outlars) hiring is indicative of what we intend to do," Moore told the board.  "Whenever we can find people in Gary, we will give them preference.  And, even if theyre not fully qualified, we will do what we need to do to get them there."

Moore also reiterated AvPort's position the Gary airport likely will not be a commercial services airport, or an airport that moves more than 2,500 passengers a year, anytime soon.  Instead, the Gary airport likely will help with overflow of corporate and other flights from other airports in the area, presumably OHare International and Chicago Midway International.  "We think (the Gary airport) much more suited to corporate reliever, general aviation type activities, even though we havent written off anything," Moore said.

Also, the board heard a series of updates, including a glance at how to partly finance the runway expansion and to spend an expected $2.5 million in passenger charges from an agreement with two Chicago airports.

Board attorney Lee Lane said the authority has applied for help from the Indiana Financing Authority to raise $35 million for the runway expansion, a key project at the airport and for the city.  The 3% bond is "for airports that might be struggling to find financing on the open market" and "theres no obligation on the part of the authority to enter into this financing."

The authority also will get some help from an agreement the Gary airport entered with Chicagos airport authority.  Gary annually gets 1.5% of passenger facility charges.  This year, that came to about $2.5 million, and it is expected to reach more than $11 million over the next four to five years.  Ken Ross, Garys airport engineer, said the local facility has been using the funds for runway expansion and other work.  That list of projects has to be presented to Gary and Chicago officials for approval, he said.  Most of that money, in Gary, will be used for apron work and other pavement repairs and improvements, Ross said.  "This has been a need for the airport for some time," he said.  "We have a need for those funds."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   And just why can it/should it not be a freight forwarding port, one wonders?


Judge Reinstates Criminal Charges Against Gary Cop
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[30 May 2014]

Lake Superior Court Judge Diane Ross Boswell reinstated the criminal charges against a Gary police officer after dismissing them two weeks ago.

Boswell dismissed the case against Demonte Montrell Yanders, 30, after the alleged victim failed to show up for a deposition.  Prosecutors wanted the court to issue a writ of body attachment, which would have resulted in the victim being held until she agreed to appear for a deposition.

Instead, Boswell tore up the motion for a writ of body attachment and dissmissed the case.  The judge said Thursday she did not have the authority to dismiss the case unless there was a constitutional issue that would warrant that action.  Boswell also said she would ask the clerk to reassign the case to one of the other three criminal division judges because she was "a little angry."

Defense attorney Mark Gruenhagen said he objected to the judge recusing herself and thought she had not shown any bias.  Boswell, however, said she was upset at the victim because it was the second time she allegedly had been confined and battered by Yanders and she was upset with Yanders "because he keeps coming before the court with the same charges and victim."

Earlier this year, Yanders was placed on unpaid administrative leave by the Gary Police Department.  He is charged with two counts of criminal confinement, strangulation and misdemeanor battery in an Oct. 20 incident with the victim at their Gary apartment.

In July, charges of criminal confinement, strangulation, intimidation and battery resulting in bodily injury were dismissed after the victim told prosecutors she did not want Yanders prosecuted.


Gary Works Board OKs Consulting Contract
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[29 May 2014]

GARY The Board of Public Works and Safety has approved a $7,000-a-month contract through August for Mary Cossey to serve as a consultant to Commerce Department Director Deardra Green-Campbell and to handle other duties.

Cossey also will work in social services, such as domestic shelters, and be involve with "evaluation of grant expenditures," project management and "outreach strategies," according to her contract.  The contract did not get more specific about Cossey's responsibilities nor did Richard Leverett, chief of staff for Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, offer more details.

Cossey, whose mother, Regina Cossey, works for the Gary Indiana New Day Foundation Inc., an organization started by Freeman-Wilson, was the interim executive director for the Gary Housing Authority before landing the contract this month.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   It does seem that the longer KF-W is in office, the more she reverts to utilization of cronyism when making staff appointments?


Body of Man Shot, Burned in Midtown Identified
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[29 May 2014]

The burned body found last month at the entrance of an abandoned Midtown apartment building has been identified, Lake County deputy coroner George Deliopoulos said Wednesday.

Willie Walker, 57, of the 1700 block of Maryland St, had been shot several times, then set on fire.  His body was found April 2 just inside an empty two-story brick building at the northeast corner of 19th Av and Pennsylvania St, just blocks from Walkers home, police said.


Chicago Anti-violence Group Founder to Seek Gary Mayoral Seat
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[29 May 2014]

A Chicago native and founder of a national anti-violence organization plans to announce his run for Gary mayor Sunday.

Syron "Sy" Smith on Thursday morning announced plans to formally kick off his bid for the mayoral seat in the 2015 election.

That announcement is set to take place Sunday afternoon in Gary. His election Web site -- www.friendsofsysmith.com -- lists him as an independent candidate.

Smith is the founder of National Block Club University, a Chicago-based non-profit founded in 2003.  According to the group's Web site, the organization mirror's the for-profit Block Union Club which places resident-owned convenience stores in low-income neighborhoods with some of the profits going to fund local anti-violence programs.

"Just like President Obama went from community organizer to the White House, Sy Smith aspires to go from community organizer to City Hall," the announcement read.

The Thursday announcement said Smith has a vision of clean, safe neighborhoods and excellent schools for Gary..
[COMMENT -GDY]:   What is it with all these Chicagoans getting involved in Gary affairs?  We have former Mayor Daley helping rehab the city, and now this guy running for mayor.


Great Lakes Steel Production Rockets Up by 48,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[28 May 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region rebounded to 675,000T, and overall U.S. output rose by 2% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Great Lakes production soared by 48,000T, or 7.6%.

Steel production in the region returned to its normal range for the first time since early April, when U.S. Steel idled blast furnaces at Gary Works, the nation's largest steel mill, because of difficulty bringing raw materials across the ice-choked Great Lakes.

Last year, Great Lakes steel production typically fell between 650,000 to 700,000T a week.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, fell to 642,000T, down from 670,000T a week earlier.  Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.875 million tons, up from 1.838 million tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 78% last week, down from 76.4% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 76.5% at the same time last year.

Domestic mills have produced an estimated 37.6 million tons of steel this year, a 0.6% decrease from the 37.8 million tons produced during the same period last year.

Steel imports rose by 15% in March, capturing 27% of the overall U.S. market, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.


Gary Officials Hope Demolition in Key Blocks Will Trigger Neighborhood Rebirth
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Christin Nance Lazerus
[28 May 2014]

GARY Hundreds of abandoned houses will be torn down across the city over the next 18 months with $6.6 million in Hardest Hit Funds the city received last week from the state.

Gary officials outlined the areas and process that will guide the planned demolition of at least 379 homes in a Tuesday afternoon news conference at City Hall.  Chief of Staff Richard Leverett said those properties were earmarked on the citys application to the state, but the number could be as high as 500 depending on the cost of demolition.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the funds are a huge opportunity.  "Weve given thought to where want to use the money," Freeman Wilson said.  "We want to excite residents but also manage expectations.  This is not just a chance to eliminate blight, but to rebuild and redevelop this community."

The 5th District which encompasses Black Oak, northern Glen Park and parts of Midtown has the largest number homes on the list with 103. Freeman-Wilson has identified the area around Indiana University Northwest dubbed University Park as a prime candidate for redevelopment efforts.

Graduate students from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy are surveying 20,000 parcels in the city.  The Legacy Foundation, the Fuller Center for Housing of Gary, the Delta Institute, Indiana University Northwest and Ivy Tech Community College also supported and assisted with the application.

Redevelopment Director Joe Van Dyk said about two-thirds of the properties surveyed so far are in pretty bad shape rating a C, D or F on the surveys.  "Blight is very contagious, so if we can eliminate one or two abandoned properties on an otherwise healthy block, we can dissuade the behavior," he said.

The city also identified properties from its work with partners helping stabilize neighborhoods.  The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is working with the city on efforts in the Aetna, Miller, Glen Ryan and Emerson areas, while Habitat for Humanity and the Broadway Community Development Corp. are active in the Horace Mann neighborhood.

Leverett said a public hearing will be conducted on the Hardest Hit Fund efforts within the next 30 days, and properties that have been identified will go through an appeals process with the city.  Once the properties are demolished, the land will be available for a variety of purposes from side yards available for private purchase to green spaces for community gardens.

Garys director of green urbanism and environmental affairs, Brenda Scott-Henry, said a prime example is Sojourner Truth House, which is looking to expand its footprint in Garys Midtown area.

With an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 abandoned homes in the city, Freeman-Wilson acknowledged that the planned demolition is just a start to the process of revitalizing the city.  "Even if we get to demolish 500 houses thats not a large percentage," she said.  "What this does, it gives us a start. Were targeting neighborhoods where, if we take away one or two homes, it will stabilize property values and set the stage to go to the next level.  It allows us to set the stage for the rebirth and redevelopment of the city."


School Closings Plan Ripped
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[28 May 2014]

GARY Gary School Board member LaBrenda King-Smith said Tuesday that she wont support a plan to close five schools.

A board vote on the closings was listed on Tuesdays agenda, but members delayed the decision so they could receive community input at a 6 p.m. meeting Thursday at West Side Leadership Academy.  The board is now expected to vote on the closings next week, although no meeting date was announced.

Dozens of school staff members, parents and some students of the schools impacted by the proposed closings and reconfigurations attended Tuesday nights meeting at Banneker Achievement Center.

King-Smith criticized the closings recommendation from schools Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt, saying it lacked data and "the whole process wasnt property vetted. ...  At this point, there has been no community involvement."

In a meeting last week, the school board decided on a plan to close Brunswick, Webster and Bailly elementary schools.  Dunbar-Pulaski Middle School and Lincoln Achievement Center, a special education school, would also close under Pruitts recommendation.


Scott, Council Worsen Gary's Reputation
A nwiTimes Editorial by Doug Ross
[21 May 2014]

The Gary City Council decided last week to let Ronier Scott keep his seat on the council after being convicted of failing to pay federal income taxes.  What were they thinking?

They weren't thinking about his constituents, apparently.  For the three months Scott is to be incarcerated, his district will not have representation on the council.

And when they do get Scott back on the council, they will be represented by someone who broke his promise to them.  In his oath of office, Scott swore to uphold the law.  His conviction proves he violated that oath.  Smith is serving a three-month prison sentence on misdemeanor charges of failing to file income tax returns for five separate years.

The City Council voted unanimously last week not to pay Scott while he is in prison.  That, after all, would be illegal.  But the council didn't remove him from office for doing something illegal.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is concerned about this black eye on the city's reputation.  "Some people, right or wrong, (bash Gary)," she said.  "Our objective is to ensure that we don't give them a reason to do so."

If Scott had any shred of decency, he would have resigned on his own to avoid further embarrassment for the city he serves.  He could, and should, still do so. Immediately.  Barring that, the City Council should reconsider its decision and kick Scott off the council.  Violating the oath of office is a clear reason to do so.

Gary residents are not well served by a councilman serving time.  Nor can the rest of the region take the council seriously when it has proven unwilling to police itself, let alone govern the entire city.

Either Scott resigns immediately, or the council kicks him off, or the city's already soiled reputation worsens.


Lew Wallace Spared Closing Under New Gary School Plan
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
                    and a nwiTimes Report by Carmen McCollum
[23 May 2014]

GARY Lew Wallace could remain open under a proposal being considered by the school board that would turn it into a middle school and a freshman academy.

The board could vote on a proposal to shutter five schools at its 6 p.m. meeting Tuesday at the Banneker Achievement Center.  Being considered for closing are Brunswick, Bailly, and Webster elementaries, Dunbar-Pulaski Middle School and the Lincoln-Achievement Center, a small school that houses special needs students who would be relocated to another school.

In February, the school board began a discussion on the closings with Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt who initially recommended Lew Wallace close.  In February, Pruitt also said there would be community forums on the closings, which havent been held yet.  If the board votes Tuesday, there will barely be two months for teacher, staff, student and equipment shifts to take place.

Both Lew Wallace High School and Dunbar-Pulaski are in their fifth year of state academic probation and a sixth year of sub-par test scores could trigger a state takeover or other drastic action.  With the closings, that wont happen.  Lew Wallace would house seventh- and eighth-graders and freshman, in a separate program.

In a statement released Thursday, Pruitt said:  "I know it can be difficult and emotional talking about moving students to a new environment, but we are determined to look at all the options available to make sure we give our children an encouraging, safe environment."  Pruitt hopes these moves will eliminate a $13 million deficit for the 2014-15 school year.  The district expects a fall enrollment of about 7,400 students.

Gary teachers union President Joe Zimmerman, who has been in on the discussions since the beginning, said teachers are never happy about closing schools.  He said students will have to travel farther to attend school.  "It's the best of the worst," he said.  "We know staff will have to be furloughed and many of the retirements will help offset that so when we close buildings and surplus staff, we hope there are enough openings at the other schools so that the affected staff can move into those open

Zimmerman said nobody is happy when schools are closed, but you have to adapt.  Of the 248 teachers and staff who could lose their jobs, Zimmerman said that includes 130 to 140 teachers who are retiring.  "We hope that once these buildings close, teachers will be assigned to other buildings," he reiterated.

Pruitt said she hoped jobs wont be lost because she estimated about 200 employees plan to retire.  "We want to be able to put money in the classroom and give pay increases to teachers and other staff," she said.

Other proposed changes include the continued housing of Bailly Preparatory Academy students at the Watson Boys Academy.  The students have been at Watson since January because of burst pipes at Bailly.  The remaining elementaries Beveridge, Glen Park Academy, Jefferson, Marquette, and Williams would be for grades K-6.  Banneker would remain grades K-8 and McCullough Girls Academy, grades K-7.  Wirt-Emerson Visual and Performing Arts Academy would be for grades 5-12.  New Tech High School would be housed within West Side Leadership Academy.

School spokeswoman Charmella Greer said course offerings will be expanded at the Gary Career Center.


Gary's Economic Fortunes Profiled in Federal Reserve Report
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[22 May 2014]

Gary is among 10 Midwestern cities whose economic struggles and potential for rebound are profiled in a new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

Researchers included Gary in the report with cities that suffered significant manufacturing job loss in recent decades.  Fort Wayne is the other Indiana city, along with Gary.  Illinois cities include Aurora and Joliet.  Others are Cedar Rapids and Waterloo, Iowa; Pontiac, Michigan; and Green Bay and Racine, Wisconsin.

The report cited Gary's own reluctance to change as its main liability, along with lackluster education attainment levels.  The report said Gary has key assets vital to Northwest Indiana's prosperity including Gary/Chicago International Airport, South Shore Railroad, a proximity to major highways and the lakefront.  "The potential for change in Gary exists, if allowed to happen," the report concludes.

In 1970, half of the city's jobs were in the manufacturing sector and they didn't require post-secondary education or even a high school diploma.  Still, Gary's family incomes and unemployment rate compared favorably to the rest of Indiana.  But since 1970, Gary has lost 54% of its population, and in 2010 more than 17% of its residents were unemployed.  Poverty became pervasive, median family income dropped and almost 20% of its residents hadn't completed high school.

"By all accounts, Mayor Freeman-Wilson has the challenge of halting and beginning to reverse 40 years of decline and disappointment in the short time before the next election cycle begins.  "The report said the city has taken "concrete steps" under Freeman-Wilson to make the city viable again.  It cited the creation of a Department of Commerce that streamlined permitting into one department, as opposed to 10.

The report also cited the low graduation rate of Gary's high schools with almost 78% of students qualifying for free lunches.  Gary also struggles with a high percentage of abandoned homes and vacant land that impedes development.

See the full report:


Great Lakes Steel Production Drops by 7,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[20 May 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region dipped to 627,000T, and overall U.S. output inched down by 0.27% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Great Lakes production declined by 7,000T, or 1.1%%, and remained lower than normal.  Last year, Great Lakes steel production was typically in the range of 650,000 to 700,000T a week.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, rose to 670,000T, up from 653,000T a week earlier.  Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.838 million tons, down from 1.843 million tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 76.4% last week, down from 76.6% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 76.5% at the same time last year.  Domestic mills have produced an estimated 35.7 million tons of steel this year, a 0.7% decrease from the 36 million tons produced during the same period last year.

U.S. steel mills shipped 8.3 million net tons in March, a 9.4% increase over February and a 5.2% increase over last year.  Year-to-date shipments have reached 23.8 million net tons, a 1.2% increase over the first three months of last year.


State a Secret Bidder for Gary Int'l. Airport
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Keith Benman
[18 May 2014]

While high-profile negotiations were underway with private investors to take over operations at Gary/Chicago International Airport last year, much quieter talks between the city and state agencies were taking place behind the scenes.

State Rep. Ed Soliday said the state talked about raising $50 million or more to spur investment at the airport, before the negotiations fell through over the contentious issue of who would control the Gary airport authority.  Soliday said he was not directly involved in the negotiations, but he was kept apprised because legislative action eventually may have been needed.  "The question has to be -- is that the Gary airport or is that a regional airport?" Soliday said.  "There seems to be a thing now that it's back to being the Gary airport."

The mayor confirmed the airport discussions involved the Indiana Finance Authority and the Indiana Economic Development Corp., which is the state's commerce department.  But those talks were kept carefully under wraps throughout the much more public process that had 10 private bidders vying for a piece of the action last summer.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the discussions with the state did not get far because the idea of Gary citizens giving up control of the airport was basically a non-starter.  Under current state law, the Gary mayor appoints four of the airport authority's seven members.  "We stated publicly and repeatedly that sale (of the airport) or a loss of control was not an option," Freeman-Wilson stated in an email response to the The Times on Friday.

Before airport authority Chairman Tom Collins Sr. resigned from the airport authority in December, he confirmed he knew about the negotiations between the city and state.  But he said he did not participate and was not apprised of any details.  Collins was Gov. Mike Pence's only appointee on the authority and the only member to speak against the privatization deal that was eventually struck.  His seat has remained open since his resignation.

Freeman-Wilson and mayoral adviser Bo Kemp, a key member of the committee that negotiated the public-private partnership with AFCO, both agreed to an interview last week after The Times inquired about the previously unpublicized negotiations with the state.

Both emphasized talks with the state have not ceased, despite the inability to work out a deal last year on the airport.  Now the emphasis in talks with the state has shifted to the hundreds of acres between the airport and the lakefront, which badly needs better access for trucks before it can be developed further, Kemp said.  Those talks involve primarily the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Indiana Economic Development Corp.  "We continue to work very closely with the state, because we understand there is a mutual benefit and they understand there's a mutual benefit," the mayor said.


Northwest Indiana Unemployment Rate Plunged in April
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by John J. Watkins
[16 May 2014]

Unemployment plummeted in Northwest Indiana last month, and the state's jobless rate dipped as well.

The jobless rate in the Gary Metropolitan Statistical Area Lake, Porter, Jasper and Newton counties declined to 7.2% in April, down from 8% in March, and 8.5% in April 2013.  Unemployment in the Michigan City metro area, which encompasses all of LaPorte County, dropped to 7.3% in April, as compared to 8.6% a month earlier and 9.5% a year ago.

Unemployment fell by at least 0.4% in every major Northwest Indiana city and town except for Gary, where it remained unchanged, and East Chicago, where it rose slightly.  The steepest drop was in Valparaiso, where it plunged 1.1% points to 5.4%.

Gary, East Chicago and Michigan City remain the only three cities in Indiana that still suffer from double-digit unemployment.  Joblessness in Hobart fell to 9.2% last month, dipping below 10% for the first time since September 2012.

Statewide, the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell 0.2% to 5.7% in April, according to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.  The national rate was 6.3%.  Unemployment in Indiana has decreased by 2.1% over the last year.  The state has added more than 220,000 private sector jobs, including 75,200 manufacturing jobs, since the the depth of the downturn in July 2009.  In April, the state gained 4,400 private sector jobs, and the state's workforce increased by 11,700.

Gary:  10.5%, unchanged
East Chicago:  10.8%, up 0.3%
Michigan City:  10.9%, down 0.9%
Hobart:  9.2%, down 0.8%
Hammond:  7.8%, down 0.7%
Portage:  8.2%, down 0.4%
Merrillville:  7.1%, down 0.5%
Crown Point:  6.5%, down 0.7%
Schererville:  5.5%, down 0.7%
Valparaiso:  5.2%, down 1.1%
Note: Data were not adjusted for seasonal employment variations.
Source: Indiana Department of Workforce Development


Steel Industry Must Remain Strong
A nwiTimes Editorial by Doug Ross
[15 May 2014]

Steel is the backbone of the region's economy, and there are signs of back pain again.

The steel industry is under pressure on multiple fronts, its executives say.  We could see another wave of consolidation in the industry, predicts Mark Millett, recipient of the Association of Iron and Steel Technology's Steelmaker of the Year Award.

All it takes is a look at Northwest Indiana's Lake Michigan shoreline to see the effects of the earlier wave of consolidation.  A series of bankruptcies in the early part of this century wiped out Bethlehem Steel, Ispat Inland, National Steel Corp. and LTV.  Now only ArcelorMittlal and U.S. Steel own major steel mills here.

"It's not easy to make money in the steel industry, but it's not impossible," said Millett, president and CEO of Fort Wayne-based Steel Dynamics.  Making that profit more elusive is a glut of foreign steel, the result of excess steelmaking capacity worldwide.  The domestic steel industry needs protection from steel dumping by foreign steelmakers.  Industry leaders said at a recent Indianapolis conference that the domestic steel industry is "under assault" from subsidized imports being sold below market rates.  That's the definition of dumping a way for foreign steelmakers to knock out U.S. competitors.

Maintaining a strong domestic steel industry is a national security imperative.  The weapons of war require steel, and the prospect of a world at war requires the ability to produce sufficient steel to meet U.S. demand.

Assistance from Purdue University Calumet and others to help improve the steelmaking process is appropriate, too.  As an example, PUC's Center for Innovation through Visualization and Simulation can produce 3-D models to show the steelmaking process more easily.  The use of university resources to help industry is a time-honored tradition, but more can be done and must be done.

Steel remains the backbone of the region's economy, so assistance to level the playing field is vital.


Student Suspended for Alleged Packing Tape Incident at Wallace
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[16 May 2014]

GARY School officials apparently have suspended a Lew Wallace High School student who allegedly used packaging tape to bind two other students during class Tuesday, the grandmother of one of the victims said Thursday.

Her grandson, a special needs student, said he told her what happened after he reported the incident to the school dean Tuesday afternoon.  She said he saw a classmate encased in packaging tape, the work of a boy in their health class.  He started pulling the tape from her body, but was interrupted.  "Did I say you could help her?" the boy with the roll of tape asked her grandson.  And then he, too, found himself wrapped in clear tape from his waist to his shoulders, his arms locked to his sides.

His mother filed a police report with some details of the incident Wednesday morning, but it was unclear Thursday if that information had been forwarded to investigators.

Family members took the boy to the doctor to be examined.  He appeared to by fine physically, she said.

"I still dont know the whole story," the boys grandmother said.  The teen and his mother, also mentally challenged, live with her and her husband in Glen Park, not far from the high school.  The number of facts she knows are about equal to those she doesnt.  "I dont know if the boy who did this is also in special education.  They were in the same classroom, but maybe my grandson is mainstreamed in that class," she said.

She thinks a substitute teacher was present when the taping incident began.  After the taping, "They paraded him through the school," she said.

In the police report, the boys mother said her son was pushed into a different classroom, then looked to the teacher for help.  "Instead of helping him, (the teacher) closed the door on him, leaving him in the hallway," the report states.  The report states that teacher declined to discuss the incident with police.

Gary Community School Corp. spokeswoman Charmella Greer did not return a call to the Post-Tribune with comments about the status of the investigation.

The boy who taped the two students has been suspended, the victims grandmother said.  She praised the dean who responded quickly when he learned of the incident, but added she doesnt know what, if anything, will happen to the teachers who didnt intervene to help her grandson.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   One may rightfully ask just who is running things at my alma mater  these days?  Evidently, it is not the teachers!


Former Gary Cop Agrees to Plea Deal
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report by Ruth Ann Krause
[16 May 2014]

A former Gary police officer has pleaded guilty to attempted battery in a February 2012 dispute with a Gary firefighter over a woman in which he pulled a gun and fired shot into the air.

In a plea agreement, Laron Leslie, 29, pleaded to the lesser charge in exchange for getting one year on probation.  He had been charged with intimidation.  Leslie admitted in court that he and Gary firefighter Sheldon Skinner had an altercation and that he swung at Skinner, intending to strike him.

The dispute occurred in the 400 block of North Lake Street, outside an apartment complex where Skinner had been called to meet the woman, who had been seeing both Leslie and Skinner and accepting money from Skinner, according to court records.  Leslie told Skinner to leave and that the woman wasnt Skinners girl anymore, then threatened Skinner with a gun, firing several shots into the air, according to prosecutors.

Leslie was fired from the police force in May 2012 for testing positive for marijuana after a one-car crash in his take-home squad car in September 2011.


Imprisoned Member of Council Keeps Seat
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[14 May 2014]

GARY City Councilman Ronier Scott, whos spending the summer in federal prison in Terre Haute for income tax evasion, will remain on the council.

Council members declined Tuesday night to force Scott out but did vote 8-0 to withhold his pay while hes in prison.  Scott, 42, reported to prison May 6 and is scheduled to be released Aug. 4.

Council president Kyle Allen said last month that he wanted Scott removed from the council to maintain its sense of integrity and ethics, even though Scott wasnt convicted of a felony.

Other council members apparently couldnt stomach removing one of their own.  Roy Pratt, D-at-large, said he didnt think the council should become "judge and jury" over Scott.  Pratt said he wrestled with the decision but decided the people of the 6th District will determine Scotts future if he runs for re-election next year.  "He made a serious mistake for not paying his taxes. ...  I believe he should have a second chance," Pratt said to a small chorus of applause from the audience.

Allen said he wanted Scott to resign, but his "second position was to have the council vacate his seat per state law.  There was no support for that."  He said the only alternative left was to deny Scott compensation while in prison.

Allen said information received from the state attorney generals office suggested that the city could run afoul of ghost-payrolling laws if it continued to pay Scott his salary.  He earned $27,571 last year.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson urged the council to take action.  "Some people, right or wrong, (bash Gary).  Our objective is to ensure that we dont give them a reason (to do so)," she said.  "When a person is unable to discharge their duty to the people because of incarceration, that gives people a reason to paint us all with a broad brush and view us negatively," she said.


Great Lakes Steel Production Shoots Up by 26,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[13 May 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region rose to 634,000T, and overall U.S. output increased by 1.5% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Great Lakes production shot up by 26,000T, or 4.27%, but remained lower than normal because of April difficulty bringing raw materials across the icy Great Lakes.  Last year, Great Lakes steel production was typically in the range of 650,000T to 700,000T a week.  Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in Indiana and the Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, ticked up to 653,000T, up from 651,000T a week earlier.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.84 million tons, up from 1.82 million tons a week earlier.  U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 76.6% last week, up from 75.5% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 76.5% at the same time last year.

Domestic mills have produced an estimated 33.9 million tons of steel this year, a 0.8% decrease from the 34.1 million tons produced during the same period last year.  U.S. steel mills shipped 8.3 million net tons in March, a 9.4% increase over February and a 5.2% increase over last year.  Year-to-date shipments have reached 23.8 million net tons, a 1.2% increase over the first three months of last year.


Lake, Location and Logistics Building Blocks For a New Gary
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[12 May 2014]

GARY | The Steel City faces a long list of problems but can undergo a renaissance with a realistic vision and an agreement of what it should be, according to a former port director of Burns International Harbor.

James Hartung, who is now managing director of Port Development Solutions LLC, said "now is the time" for Gary's rebirth during the Gary Chamber of Commerce's annual membership luncheon Monday at Majestic Star Casino.  The city has many assets that could be a foundation for revitalization, including the lake, its central location, and its transportation infrastructure.

The entire region's success depends on a more vibrant Gary, Hartung said.  "The fact remains that those who believe in Northwest Indiana must embrace Gary citizenship," he said.  "The epicenter of Northwest Indiana is Gary.  As Gary goes, so goes the region.  Northwest Indiana is inexorably linked to the rebirth of Gary.  Unless Gary succeeds, Northwest Indiana will never reach its full potential."

People once called Cleveland "The Mistake on the Lake" and Indianapolis "Indiana-No-Place," Hartung said.  They wrote off Pittsburgh after its steel industry collapsed in the 1970s and 1990s.  But those cities, and others once accused of being dead, have come back, Hartung said.  Gary is ready to be reborn.

"If you ask the court of the international world, no city in America is more in need of a renaissance and a good PR man than Gary," he said.

No simple formula or quick fix will turn Gary around.  But community leaders and stakeholders need to reach an agreement on what they want the city to be, Hartung said.  A collective vision has to be realistic, intelligent, and grounded in the marketplace, existing competencies and natural market advantages, Hartung said.  Gary needs to look at the things it does well today, and build on those.

The city has a vast supply of fresh water at a time when one-third of the nations on earth are water-stressed, he said.  Lake Michigan can be tapped as a source of water for consumption, recreation, transportation and industry.  "No nation, no city, no region, no state on earth can succeed without that critical resource," he said.

Gary has the same advantages as Chicago, but without the congestion and costs, he said.  Highways, railroads, a nearby international seaport and the Gary/Chicago International Airport all make it an ideal transportation hub, Hartung said.  The city could better leverage assets, such as by chasing freight instead of passenger airlines at the airport.  About 90% of international trade happens on ships, but about 10% of goods are flown because of their high value or time sensitivity.  Gary could capture that business.  The city is one transportation day from about 35% of the U.S. population, about 35% of Canada's population, and half of America's industrial might.

"Chicago is saturated while the global marketplace continues to grow," Hartung said.  "Now is the time for Gary.  It's less congested.  It's cheaper.  Its airways and waterways are less congested.  It's all here."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   I attended college in "Indianoplace" in the mid-60's.  Back then, da Region was far more vibrant.  Today, Indy is alive and bustling.  If it could transform itself, so can Gary. 


Historic Marker Details Froebel Legacy
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[10 May 2014]

GARY Froebel High School was torn down nearly a decade ago, but its memory lives on in the hearts of its graduates, many of whom lived through a dark and fascinating period of the citys history.

On Friday, those graduates got their first glimpse at an Indiana historic marker on the spacious former grounds of the school, 15th Av and Madison St, which closed in 1977.  It took two years for supporters to secure the marker, which details Garys trials with racial integration and civil rights.  The Northern Indiana Public Service Co. kicked in seed money to buy the monument, and Powers Construction erected it.

"Closing this school was the beginning of the death of this community," said state Rep. Vernon Smith, a 1962 graduate and one of those who led the effort to gain the state marker.  In many ways, Froebel stood as Garys monument to integration, as well as a testament to social segregation.

Froebel boasted two swimming pools, a huge auditorium, a vocational center, a playground and gardening area and a three-room apartment so girls could hone their homemaking skills.  No other high school looked like Froebel, and one historian called it the finest in the nation.  Froebel quickly established itself as an academic mecca, as educators from across the country came to see its campus setting, architecture and educational amenities.

By the tumultuous 1940s, the citys Midtown section around Froebel teemed with Eastern European immigrants and Southern blacks who came to Gary for the good-paying jobs at the booming U.S. Steel mill.  Froebel was Garys lone integrated school blacks and whites sat side by side in classrooms but remained segregated socially.  Blacks couldnt join the school choir, band or drama club.  They could swim in the pool only on Fridays, the day before it was cleaned.  While the white prom was at the Hotel Garys Crystal Ballroom, the black prom was held in the girls gym.

"We got along until a handful of whites started talking about a boycott," Alma White, a 1949 graduate, said.  "We had all kinds of nationalities and we all got along."  The growing racial and cultural tension came to a head in September 1945.  Talk of a boycott, fueled by peer pressure, grew, and many white students walked out, forcing Froebel to cancel its football season.

The number of whites boycotting the school steadily grew from 400 to 1,200.  They demanded that blacks be removed from the school, saying Froebel shouldnt be a "guinea pig" in an experiment on race relations.  The students boycott gained national news coverage as other U.S. cities began wrestling with civil rights for the first time.  Frank Sinatra, a civil rights advocate, came to Gary in November 1945 to try to quiet tensions.  He performed at Memorial Auditorium and urged the white students to go back to school.  More celebrities followed, including poet Carl Sandburg, cartoonist Bill Mauldin and author Clifton Fadiman.  Finally, on Nov. 12, nearly two months after they boycotted, the white students returned to school.


NWI Casinos Start to Put Brakes on Revenue Drop
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Keith Benman
[8 May 2014]

A 6.4% drop in Northwest Indiana casino revenues in April was the smallest year-over-year drop so far this year, giving casinos some hope for a turnaround as the year goes on.

The five Northwest Indiana boats took in a total of $85.4 million in April, as compared to $91.3 million in April 2013, according to the Indiana Gaming Commission's monthly revenue report.

Nothing jumped out in the figures provided by the Indiana Gaming Commission, with revenue and attendance for casinos in line with what would be expected, said Ed Feigenbaum, editor of Indiana Gaming Insight.  The smaller declines the last two months are probably directly attributable to the big hit casinos took from the severe weather in January and February, which kept gamblers away, Feigenbaum said.  "But in terms of the long-term trend, who knows?" he added.

Ameristar Casino, in East Chicago, managed to keep revenues essentially even with last year's.  The boat raked in $19.4 million, with 201,551 gamblers passing through its turnstiles.  The casino recently added 13 new gaming tables and has introduced a new loyalty rewards program which gives patrons access to 14 Pinnacle Entertainment properties and other premiums, according to Matt Schuffert, Ameristar vice president and general manager.

April revenues at Hammond's Horseshoe Casino, a barometer for the entire Chicago market because of its size and location, dropped 6.6%.  Its revenues have been down on a par with the overall market in the first four months of this year, but April's fall was its smallest.  Horseshoe Vice President for Marketing Jennifer Galle said April's revenues were probably more indicative of what the year would have looked like so far without the serial blizzards and sub-zero temperatures of January and February.  Horseshoe is mounting aggressive promotions to dig out from winter, including the Chicago Poker Classic that is underway now and runs through May 12.

The largest drop in April revenues was at Majestic Star II, where the total take declined 17.5% in April as compared to the year-ago month.  Revenues at the two Majestic Star boats combined dropped 10.5%.

The year opened in January with a 17% year-over-year drop in overall revenues at the five Northwest Indiana boats, which operators attributed mainly to the severe weather and road closures that continued into February.  Since then, the fall in revenues has slowed, with the overall casino take down 8.9% in March.

Northwest Indiana Casino Revenues By the Numbers

Casino Apr Rev/Millions % Decline
Ameristar $19.4     .03
Blue Chip $13   9.9
Horseshoe $38.7   6.6
Majestic Star I $  8.4   5
Majestic Star II $  5.8 17.5
TOTAL $85.4   6.4






Source: Indiana Gaming Commission


Elgin Ousted as Cal Township Trustee in Dem Primary
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson and Marc Chase of the nwiTimes
[7 May 2014]

GARY Backlash over spending from Griffith officials and the shadow of a federal raid may have cost Mary Elgin a fourth term as Cal Twp trustee Tuesday.

Boosted by support from Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, Gary City Councilwoman Kimberly Robinson defeated Elgin in a hard-fought Democratic primary race.  Unofficial vote tallies showed Robinson with 55% of the vote to Elgins 45%.  Robinson will face unopposed Republican Dorita P. Lee in November.

With Freeman-Wilson at her side all night, Robinson counted vote totals on a large board with her teenage son, Christion, and other supporters.  "Im happy that its over and Im ready to get to work," said Robinson.  "I feel like we can come together now as Democrats."

A few blocks away, Elgin supporters warily watched vote totals trickle in during a long evening at her headquarters.  As victory appeared to sway toward Robinson, Elgin cleared a table, putting pizza away in boxes.  "Karen fought a good race," Elgin said referring to Freeman-Wilson.  "Its unfortunate the candidate did not have the ability to fight as hard."

The mood was merrier at Robinsons headquarters as her supporters danced and hugged each other.  "Kim slayed Goliath," said Darren Washington, the top vote-getter for the Calumet Township board race.  If Robinson wins in November, almost a certainty, shell take over as the state is reining in spending in Calumet Township.

Robinson also promised Tuesday to extend an olive branch to Griffith, which may eventually be allowed by state law to secede from Calumet Township if certain state-mandated tax rate parameters aren't met.  "We're winning Griffith at this point, and that makes me happy," Robinson said about 8 p.m. as early voting returns were coming in.

Griffith Councilman Rick Ryfa, a Republican, said he wasn't certain Robinson would be the antidote for what ails the township.  "It doesn't matter who wins," Ryfa said.  "The system is so far broken, I don't think it can be fixed."

Freeman-Wilson noted the low voter turnout.  "As we get people like Kim in office who do what they say theyre going to do, voters will be more encouraged in the process," she said.  In the Cal Twp race a total of 11,783 ballots were cast.  Of that amount, 1,408 were cast as absentee ballots.

In Lake Co. the total voter turnout was all of 12.83% of registered votersthe lowest turnout in Lake County in at least five years.  At two precincts in Griffith 17 and Cedar Lake 09 no one voted.  Where voters showed up, Griffith 02, located at the Mansards North Complex, had the lowest turnout of any precinct, with only 2.4% of voters casting a ballot.  Garys 1-22 at Marquette United Methodist Church had the highest turnout in the county with 41.5%.


Great Lakes Steel Production Falls by 13,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[6 May 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region dropped to 608,000T.  Overall U.S. output fell by 1% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Great Lakes production decreased by 13,000T, or 2%, and remained well under its normal level.  Last year, Great Lakes steel production was typically in the range of 650,000 to 700,000T a week.  Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in Indiana and the Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, fell to 651,000T, down from 665,000T a week earlier.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.81 million tons, down from 1.83 million tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 75.5% last week, down from 76.3% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 76.6% at the same time last year.

Domestic mills have produced an estimated 32 million tons of steel this year, a 0.8% decrease from the 32.3 million tons produced during the same period last year.

Steel imports declined by 1% in March, dropping to 3.2 million tons, according to the American Institute for International Steel.


Parent-organized Prom Open to All Gary High School Juniors and Seniors
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[6 May 2014]

GARY Parents who organized a separate prom at Marquette Park Pavilion for Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy said they will open the doors to the event to all Gary high school juniors and seniors.

The move received lukewarm blessings from EdisonLearning, the private company running the school.  Meanwhile, a local parenting expert said there are important lessons to learn from the dispute.

Dwayne and Jo Hunter, who led a petition drive and a parent group protesting some of Roosevelt leaders decisions, said their prom is an option for kids who want to build memories in their home town.

In February, Roosevelt administrators announced this years prom will be held at Centennial Park in Munster, upsetting students and parents who said they were left out of the planning and decision-making for the annual rite of passage.

"A lot of kids dont want to go out to Munster for their prom," said Dwayne Hunter, a local pastor.  "And, the consensus (among parents) is we dont want our kids to go to Munster."  "If we dont support what we do have here in (Gary), its not going to get any better," added Jo Hunter.

The separate prom will be held May 9, the same day as Roosevelts school-endorsed prom, only because the school already reserved the day months ago without putting any deposits down before they chose to hold the event in Munster.

Gary students can attend the Marquette Pavilion prom for $20 a person or $25 a couple, far less than most area proms.  Also, Roosevelt students who already have purchased tickets for the school event can show their tickets at the door to get into the separate prom.


Gary Councilman Ronier to Report to Prison Tuesday
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Lu Ann Franklin
[5 May 2014]

GARY | Gary Councilman Ronier Scott will report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Indiana by 2 p.m. Tuesday to serve his three-month sentence, according to his attorney and the United States Marshals Service.

Scott, 42, pleaded guilty April 1 in U.S. District Court in Hammond to two counts of failure to file federal income taxes.  Magistrate Judge John Martin sentenced Scott to three months in prison, 400 hours of community service and one year supervised release for violating federal tax laws.

Pam Mossier with the U.S. Marshals Service in South Bend confirmed Monday that Scott is slated to report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons on Tuesday.  Kerry Connor, Scotts defense attorney, said the Gary councilman will surrender to officials at the minimum-security satellite camp in Terre Haute.  The 2 p.m. deadline for Scotts surrender is to comply with the orders issued by Martin, she said.

The Gary City Council is expected to vote to strip Scott of his council seat on May 13.


3 Openings, 18 Candidates for Cal Township Board
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[5 May 2014]

GARY Griffith and Gary voters might be dazzled or dumbstruck at the array of Calumet Township board candidates on Tuesdays primary lineup.  Theyll have to do their homework.

Seventeen Democrats are vying for three spots on the township board.  Among the pack of candidates are three former Gary School Board members, a former Gary deputy mayor and a former Gary City Council member.  One candidate is running on the GOP side.

Theres only marginal interest in other townships, with North Township next in line with eight Democratic candidates for the three seats on its board.

Calumet is the most generous township in the state when it comes to board salaries.  They receive $25,000 a year for a state-mandated four meetings, said Debbie Driskell, executive director of the Indiana Townships Association and Delaware Township trustee.  The ample salaries date back several years to a time when the township enjoyed a robust tax base from industries like U.S. Steel and residential taxpayers paid their bills.  Those fortunes now are reversed.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson made a brief statement on the salaries.  "They should meet more," she said.

Attempts to rein in board salaries, so far, have been unsuccessful.  State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said he wrote a bill to cap the salaries at $7,000 annually but it failed to gain traction

Board salaries vary drastically.  Ross Township board members received $8,190 in 2013 while board members in Cedar Creek Township received just $700 last year.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Sounds like a good gig to me?  I would gladly accept $6,250 per meeting!


Out of Prison, Former Gary Lawyer Wins City Contracts
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[4 May 2014]

GARY Willie Harris, a former attorney who served more than four years in federal prison, has rebuilt his life, started a new career and may return to practicing law, he said Friday.

Harris and his firm, Dunes Construction, landed more than $89,300 in federally funded home remodeling contracts Thursday at the Board of Public Works and Safety meeting.  Dunes Construction beat out other firms in the competitive bidding process.  The contracts were awarded on recommendations from Garys Community Development department, which reports to Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson but administers federal funds.

A felony conviction does not prohibit him from pursuing federally funded contracts for his firm, said Harris, who once was well known in the citys political circles.

State records show Harris incorporated Dunes Construction in December 2008.  He was sentenced to 55 months in a federal prison camp in Wisconsin in January 2008.  Harris said he surrendered his law license in mid-2010.  "I had to do something to make a living," he said.  "And, obviously, I cant practice law right now, and I cant be involved with anything with the law right now."

Harris was one of several convictions related to the Gary Urban Enterprise Association scandal of 2005 and 2006.  His conviction was related to a fraudulent land sale that also involved former Lake County Councilman Will Smith and political operative Roosevelt Powell.  The former director of GUEA, JoJuana Meeks, also was convicted and sentenced to federal prison.

Freeman-Wilson was the attorney for the GUEA board, but she has never been implicated or charged with any wrongdoing.

Dunes Construction won the recent contracts according to federal criteria used by Community Development, said Director Arlene Colvin.  Federal contracts are awarded to contractors who have the lowest bids, are financially capable of handling the work and who have good work histories, she said.

In one case Wednesday, Dunes Construction was awarded a contract for work on a house in the 1600 block of W. 11th Ave. over a lower bidding company, Divine Dwellings.  According to a document read at the Board of Works meeting, Divine Dwellings was not the most responsive or most responsible bidder for the project.

When two contractors come in with similar bids, the department has some discretion in awarding contracts, Colvin said.  "Its not a significant amount of leeway, but were allowed to take into consideration a contractors ability to complete the work and their financial ability to complete work," Colvin said.  "You may have the low bid, but if you dont have financial ability to complete the work or do so in a timely manner, that affects our decision, as well."

Harris said he enjoys construction work, but he is planning to practice law again.  Harris is prohibited from practicing law until five years after he surrendered his law license.  That would put a possible return to legal practice in the next two years.  In the meantime, Harris said he will continue to build his construction company, which includes six full-time and part-time employees.

"My past will always be there," he said.  "It doesnt have to hinder my future. You cant correct things that happened in the past. You just move forward."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   It is nice to see that the "Steel
City" provides an environment where convicted felons may rehabilite themselves?


Gary Airport's New Private Operator Cuts Staff
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Keith Benman
[2 May 2014]

Gary/Chicago International Airport's deputy director and two other employees are being laid off just weeks after city officials promised the new public-private partnership there would create more jobs for Gary residents.

Deputy Director Bob Gyurko, a Gary resident, confirmed Friday he is one of those being let go.  He said he and two other employees were told they would not be picked up by AvPorts, which takes over all airport operations May 16.

In mid-April, new airport private operator AvPorts interviewed all airport employees.  At the time, AvPorts' newly hired interim airport manager Duncan Henderson said no decisions had been made on how many employees were needed to staff the airport, which had 18 employees.

Gary Jet Center owner Wil Davis, the airport's longest-serving tenant, reacted angrily to the terminations of the three employees on Friday.  He said the two maintenance employees let go are also Gary residents.

"It's a big loss," Davis said.  "They are people who know how to get things done.  Who's going to replace these people?  If the big issue is always about hiring Gary people, well how come they just fired three of them?"


Police Continue Investigating Brazen Fatal Shooting
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Elvia Malagon
[2 May 2014]

GARY | A day after a man was gunned down outside a McDonald's restaurant, the Gary Police Department conducted an outdoor roll call in the restaurant's parking lot to quell the community's concerns.

Ingram said during a news conference that detectives were questioning a 21-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman, though neither had been formally charged as of Friday afternoon.   It was still unclear what led to Thursday's fatal shooting. Ingram said it appears three cars were involved in a confrontation that led to the shooting.

Fillmore said he stops by the McDonald's daily and heard the gunshots Thursday afternoon. He and other customers went outside and found Moore laying on the ground.  Moore's tearful mother later arrived on scene to see her son.  "Nobody ever sees anything, I don't understand," Fillmore said.  "How?  And in broad daylight?"

"People don't have no purpose to live for out here," Fillmore said.  "There aren't no jobs out here, no fundamental activities.  They ain't got nothing to do but shoot each other."

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said Thursday's brazen fatal shooting will not be tolerated.  She said she goes to that McDonald's at least once a week to buy coffee.  "We are working in earnest to hold the individuals accountable," she said.


Shooting in Gary Leaves 1 Dead in Restaurant Lot; 2nd Killing in a Day
#10 and Counting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[2 May 2014]

GARY | Alvis Moore was shot and killed Thursday afternoon in the parking lot of the McDonald's restaurant at 5th Av and Grant St, the second homicide in the city that day, Police Chief Wade Ingram said.

Moore, 20, with home addresses in Gary and Merrillville, was shot several times in an exchange of gunfire about 3:35 p.m. outside the fast-food restaurant and was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:30 p.m., according to the Lake County coroner's office.

Moore's mother arrived at the scene and stood near an ambulance, her tears blending with the cold rainfall.  "My baby!  My baby!" she cried out.

Police roped off the entrance to McDonald's, and customers' cars remained in the lot as the investigation into the shooting proceeded.

Ingram said surveillance video from the restaurant shows that Moore stepped out of a gray car and approached a car stopped in front of him.  He started shooting into the car, and someone inside the car returned fire, hitting Moore, who collapsed on the pavement, the chief said.

A yellow car and a white vehicle, possibly a sport utility vehicle, fled the scene, according to police, who declined comment on whether they had located either car or if any suspects were in custody Thursday night.

Moore had been in the Lake County Jail since August, when he was arrested on a felony charge of carrying a handgun without a permit.  He was released March 10 after posting $25,000 bond, court records show.

About 2:30 a.m., Clifton Morrow Jr., 34, was shot and killed in his car in the 1000 block of Taney St, just blocks from his home, police said.  Morrow was found slumped behind the wheel of his car early Thursday, police spokeswoman Cpl. Gabrielle King said.

She said witnesses reported hearing gunshots, and Sgt. Gregory Wolf and Patrolman Steven Peek found Morrows car, which had crashed into bushes in the alley between Chase and Taney streets.

Morrow was charged with attempted murder in Gary in 2005 and found not guilty by a jury.  He was out on bond for a recent charge of resisting law enforcement, a Class D felony, and his next court appearance had been set for May 19.

Gary has recorded 11 killings so far this year (?), two less than at the same time in 2013.


Gary Chief Urges Police Commission to Hurry Hiring
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[2 May 2014]

GARY With just 218 active police officers on the roster, Chief Wade Ingram encouraged the Gary Police Civil Service Commission to hurry the hiring process for 53 job candidates.  The department has spots for 235 sworn officers.

Board members agreed, rescheduling a training session they need before conducting interviews with the next set of applicants.

Internal Affairs Division Lt. Derrick Cannon told commissioners he hoped to get a portion of the group ready to attend the police academys session that begins in late July.

The discussion about new recruits prompted Commissioner Ronald Jones to comment on the starting pay for Gary officers.  He noted the town of St. John pays $63,000 per year, Lowell $62,000 and Hobart $58,000, compared to Garys $39,000.  "These guys do way more than they do," Jones said. He urged the city to seek federal money to boost salaries.

Commissioner Linda Peterson said Gary officers are leaving to work for other departments that pay more.  "The low pay is having an adverse affect," she said.


Gary Commission Picks Up Airport's $817,500 Tab
Comiled From a nwiTimes Report by Keith Benman
[1 May 2014]

The city of Gary Redevelopment Commission has approved paying former Indianapolis Airport CEO John Clark's company $500,000 for its work on the Gary/Chicago International Airport privatization.

Along with Clark, the commission will pay A.C. Advisory Inc., of Chicago, $250,000 for serving as financial adviser on the deal.  And Hawthorne Strategy Group, of Chicago, will be paid $67,500 for public relations services.

The Gary airport authority on Monday voted 4-0 to ask the redevelopment commission to pay the fees for all three consultants.  That request was taken up at the commission's meeting on Tuesday and approved, according to Gary Redevelopment Director Joseph Van Dyk

The Gary Redevelopment Commission will pay the advisers' $817,500 tab with funds generated by the Lakefront tax increment financing (TIF) district it manages, Van Dyk said.  That district lies just north of the airport.  The Lakefront TIF fund has a current cash balance of $3.88 million according to Van  Dyk.


Man Found Dead in Car on Taney St in Gary
#9 and Counting
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[1 May 2014]

GARY | Police are investigating the shooting death of a 34-year-old Gary man who was found slumped over in the driver's seat of his car at about 2:30 a.m. Thursday in the 900 block of Taney Street, police said.

Clifton Morrow Jr., of the 1000 block of Chase Street, was pronounced dead at 4:06 a.m., according to the Lake County Coroner's Office.  Morrow died as the result of a gunshot wound and his death is ruled a homicide, the coroner's office said.

At 2:30 a.m., officers responded to a report of a man down inside a vehicle.  When officers arrived, they found the vehicle with fresh front end damage and Morrow in the car unresponsive.  Witnesses reported to police hearing shots fired in the 1000 block of Taney Street followed by a vehicle crashing into some bushes in the 900 block of Taney Street, police said.


Gary Woos Investment Bankers
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
                    and a nwiTimes Report by Matt Mikus
[1 May 2014]

GARY In the marbled lobby of a century-old downtown building bound for renovation, the city made a pitch Wednesday to bankers for investment in its University Park venture.

Officials from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. joined the citys Economic Development Corp. for a presentation on the merits of University Park, a 7.5-mile corridor that stretches from 33rd Av to Ridge Rd, and from Interstate 65 on the east to Grant St on the west.  After a slide show participants boarded a charter bus for a private tour of University Park, which includes Indiana University Northwest, its medical school and Ivy Tech Community College.  IUN and Ivy Tech plan to build a shared $45 million building on the east side of Broadway across from IUN.

"Today is all about relationships," said J. Forest Hayes, executive director of the EDC, who said Gary is focusing much of its economic development dollars on University Park.  While former Mayor Scott King (1996-2006) had grandiose plans for University Park that never materialized, Hayes said Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is providing resources to speed the redevelopment project.

The city commissioned a $113,000 master plan for University Park, and Hayes said it has spent about $3 million in federal funds to demolish about 70 unsafe buildings within the footprint, including former businesses along Broadway.  Harnessing a good portion of funding into one section of the city was a gamble that Freeman-Wilson decided to make early on after talking with powerful state Sen. Luke Kenley, a R-Noblesville who heads the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Kenley challenged the city to develop University Park before he would consider authorizing a trauma center and teaching hospital near Indiana University-Northwest.  Last year, the General Assembly approved a feasibility study on the trauma center and hospital.

The state has approved $45 million for a performing arts and academic building shared between IUN and Ivy Tech on the corner of 35th Av and Broadway.  The city plans to focus on improving current housing and commercial buildings around that intersection and tout its investment potential.

With the two universities and the Gary Career Center on 35th Av, the area needs student housing and retail businesses like restaurants and coffee shops along Broadway, Hayes said.  "There are are over 10,000 students throughout these institutions with no opportunity for retail to harness the enormous market energy those students have," Hayes said.  Hayes said the community needs to build up housing options with a mix of student housing and single-family homes.  "Gaps in the housing stock can weaken the community," Hayes said.  "The more density created, the more viable the community will be."

"This isnt all about planning," Hayes said. "We want results."

Hayes introduced Vance Kenney, of Gateway Partners LLC, whose company is renovating the 10-story Gary State Bank Building at 504 Broadway a project the city hopes will spur downtown redevelopment. "This was the original depository for U.S. Steel," Hayes said of the building, whose ornate lobby has many of the same fixtures from a century ago.  "It took a lot of courage for Vance and his partners to take this on.  We didnt want to see the bank building go the way of other dilapidated structures."

Gary is using a $2.87 million economic development bond issue to enable Gateway Partners to begin the project.  "Were not wasting time.  This is a viable investment.  Well do this for any other developer or bank who wants to make an effort in Gary," Hayes said.


Gary Athletics Struggling as Lew Wallace's Fate Hangs in the Balance
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Steve Hanlon
[29 Apr 2014]

GARY | A cold April wind whipped out of the north last week. Surely the waters of Lake Michigan were chopping harshly 25 blocks away.

Ron Heflin and Benny Dorsey felt the chill in their bones.  An all-consuming sadness enveloped the Hall of Fame coaches as they walked around the now-Roosevelt College & Career Academy.  "The pride is gone," said Dorsey, a 1954 Gary Roosevelt grad and longtime Panthers coach in basketball and baseball.  Dorsey coached three major leaguers in Joe Gates, Wallace Johnson and Lloyd McClendon.

"You can't give up hope," said Heflin, a '58 'Velt grad and coach of the 1991 state championship team at the school.  "But this is hard.  It's sad."

Roosevelt wasn't just the pride of Gary in a bygone era.  But also Indiana and America.  George Taliaferro, the first black man drafted in the NFL, went to Roosevelt.  Lee Calhoun, a two-time Olympic gold medalist, did, too.  As did Chuck Adkins, who won Olympic boxing gold.  Dick Barnett played 14 seasons in the NBA and won titles with the Knicks.  Glenn Robinson was Indiana's Mr. Basketball in 1991.

"Times change," Heflin said.  "This place isn't what it once was."

Troubled Schools

In 2011-12, the state handed control of Roosevelt to New York-based EdisonLearning because of poor test scores.  Initially athletics were going to be cut, but they survived, barely.

In the 2012-13 school year, Roosevelt had four athletic directors.  The girls basketball team did not enter the IHSAA state tournament.  It did not register online like the 399 other schools did.  The state association tried multiple times to contact Roosevelt, but to no avail.

Now, Lew Wallace Science Academy is facing similar doubts as the Gary Community School Corp.'s budget deficit has left the school on the chopping block.  Wallace only played six games last season.  Previously, Wallace won 21 Northwestern Conference championships and remains the only Gary football school to win a sectional championship in 1989.

With the Hornets' situation in limbo, West Side's football program picked up South Bend Washington instead of playing its city rival.

"As far as I know (Lew Wallace) is still going to have football," Gary schools spokeswoman Sarita Stevens said.  But she confirmed that a final decision on whether Wallace would be a school next school year has not yet been determined.  "I hope so," Lew Wallace football coach Al Williams said when asked if his Hornets would have a football team next school year.  "I'm the wrong person to ask.  But I'm hoping so."

If Wallace is closed, West Side would be the only high school with an athletic program still controlled by the district.  That could bring a lot of talent into one school.

Jason Johnson coached West Side to a historic season in football last fall.  The Cougars made it to the second sectional championship game in school history, falling to E.C. Central 46-44 in an instant classic.  Nine players from the program got college scholarships.

But in all this glory there was also a Gary-like flat tire.  The IHSAA took two home playoff games away from the school because the facilities were deemed unplayable.  The Gary school board spent $20,000 to purchase new goal posts, new 25-second clocks and to ensure two light banks that had faltered during the regular season were ready.  This was all done at the end of the regular season.  "You can't make up for 15 years of neglect in two weeks," IHSAA Assistant Commissioner Robert Faulkens said after inspecting the grounds.

A Sad Decline

Johnson was a standout at West Side before playing in the NFL.  What he's seen in his life has been unthinkable.  The feeder programs for Gary youth are no longer around.

Johnson would like to see club sports, in all sports, taught at the elementary schools in the city.  He believes athletics are a great way to keep young students off the streets and out of crime.  "We have to put the things in place to give our children an opportunity."  "What our kids did last year was amazing," Johnson said.  "We had our issues but we made it to a sectional championship game and it seemed like half the city was there.  That was great for our kids and great for our community.

Angela Hamblin was at the football game last fall.  She was a mega-star at Lew Wallace before becoming an All-American at Iowa and a WNBA player.  She returned to coach at her alma mater in 2005.

She couldn't believe how far it had fallen.  "I walked in the gym and there were four girls there," Hamblin said.  "To see the decline was sad.  When I played there were five high schools in Gary and they were all good.  There was a lot of talent in the city."

She built up the roster but it kept taking hits.  Girls could not come to practice because of a job or not having a ride home or a pregnancy or poor grades.

Hamblin went to Lake Central High School after leaving Glen Park in 2009.  She was part of the coaching staff that won the 2011 sectional championship.  She never had to give rides home or buy shoes for players in St. John.  "I was more of a parent at Lew Wallace," Hamblin said.  "I could just relax and coach when I was at Lake Central."

Hamblin still lives in Gary and is coaching at Frankie McCullough Girls Academy, where her two daughters are talented young players.  She wants to see athletics rebound in her hometown.

She loved watching West Side's girls basketball team get to the semistate this year with freshman Dana Evans leading the way.  She was pleased to hear that West Side will play in next season's prestigious Hall of Fame Classic in New Castle.  But twice before Rod Fisher's program was invited to play in the HOF and he never got the letter.  He said he found it after the deadline on a tall pile on the athletic director's desk.

Gary schools have never had full time ADs.  Right now, West Side's Vanessa Nichols is also the AD at Lew Wallace.  "That's impossible," Johnson said.

A Losing Situation

Hamblin spoke about many of the top athletes in the city going to the charter schools or private schools in the area.  Many families also are moving to Merrillville, Hobart and Portage, boosting other schools' athletic teams.

Bowman Academy Athletic Director and boys basketball coach Marvin Rea has been the beneficiary of Gary's failing schools.  Bowman has played in four of the last five state championship games, winning Class A and 2A state titles.  But he was a standout guard at Roosevelt and led the Panthers to the 1987 state finals, winning the Trester Award for Mental Attitude.  "It's bittersweet," Rea said.  "I work for Bowman but I'm a Gary guy.  I want the best for all the guys in the city."

Rea played for Heflin at Roosevelt.  The two are very close and contemplate what the future holds for the once-powerful schools.  "They've got to hire the right people," Heflin said.

For example, the Gary Holiday Tournament for boys and girls basketball, which started in 1950 at Memorial Gymnasium, was not held this past season.  When city Athletic Director Earl Smith retired in 2013, the man who organized and ran the event was gone.  "We hosted it but Earl Smith ran it," West Side boys basketball coach Murray Richards said.  "When Earl retired, no one picked it up.  By the time anyone thought about it everyone's schedule was filled."

Both Dorsey and Heflin know there is still great talent in Gary.  "They have to get discipline back in the schools," Heflin said.  "We had it when I went to school here.  We had it when I coached here, but now it's gone."

Dorsey concurs.  "You can't worry about athletics when the classrooms and homes are in disarray.  It's going to take money to get some good programs going, but money isn't enough.  We have to turn back the clock and make our schools like they once were."

The decision on Wallace is coming.  The boys basketball team played in the 2010 Class 3A state championship.  Last year, under two coaches, the Hornets only played 15 games.  "I've heard they're going to close it," Hamblin said.  "I hope they don't.  I have so many great memories when I went there. It was a great school."


U.S. Steel Turns $52 Million Profit Despite Weather Woes
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[29 Apr 2014]

After years of red ink, U.S. Steel Corp. earned $52 million in net income for the first quarter of 2014.

The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker reported a profit of 34 per diluted share after the stock markets closed Tuesday.  The company had lost $73 million, or 51 per diluted share in the first quarter of 2013.  Earnings increased over the fourth quarter of last year, when U.S. Steel's adjusted net income was $38 million, or 27 per share.

"We are pleased to report an improvement in our first quarter operating results despite extreme weather-related issues," said U.S. Steel President and CEO Mario Longhi.  "Higher natural gas prices and operational issues due to the weather were offset by better commercial prices and Carnegie Way benefits."

U.S. Steel's flat-rolled segment, which includes local operations at Gary Works and the Midwest Plant in Portage, turned a profit of $85 million over the first three months of the year.  A loss, however, is expected in the segment in the second quarter, because U.S. Steel has been forced to temporarily limit production at Gary Works, which means fewer shipments and higher operating costs.  The extraordinary weather conditions drove up natural gas prices and limited shipments.

The steelmaker expects to resolve the operational difficulties by the end of the second quarter, according to a news release.


Great Lakes Steel Production Soars by 32,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[29 Apr 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region rose to 621,000T, and overall U.S. output rose by 1.4% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Great Lakes production increased 32,000, or 5.4%, but remained under its normal level.  Steel production dropped by more 100,000T in early April the after U.S. Steel idled blast furnaces at Gary Works, the nation's largest steel mill, because of difficulty bringing raw materials across the icy Great Lakes.

Last year, Great Lakes steel production was typically in the range of 650,000 to 700,000T a week.  Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in Indiana and the Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, fell to 665,000T, down from 682,000T a week earlier.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.83 million tons, up from 1.8 million tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 76.3% last week, up from 75.2% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 76.7% at the same time last year.

Domestic mills have produced an estimated 30.2 million tons of steel this year, a 0.8% decrease from the 30.5 million tons produced during the same period last year.

Steel imports declined by 1% in March, dropping to 3.2 million tons, according to the American Institute for International Steel.


Gary, Heat, Light & Water Building Put On "Endangered" List
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[29 Apr 2014]

The crumbling Gary Heat, Light & Water Co. at 900 Madison St has been named one of the states 10 Most Endangered places by Indiana Landmarks, a nonprofit preservation organization.

The organization listed the building with nine others in a Saturday "Rescue Party" in Indianapolis.  Its been putting out its "endangered" list since 1991.

"Our mission is to save meaningful places, and this is a list of ten important places in the state that are in great danger of being lost," said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks, a nonprofit preservation organization.

Davis toured some of Gary's aging, but historic structures, in 2012.

U.S. Steel commissioned famed architect George W. Maher to design the warehouse building in the 1920s.  The utility company was a U.S. Steel subsidiary.  The building was made of steel-framed, precast concrete.  The exterior ornament includes pilaster capitals, cartouches, spandrel panels, dentils and massive exterior lantern light features.  The building still has its original terrazzo floors, plaster details, wood moldings and a semi-elipitcal staircase, according to a press release.  It was the last set of drawings completed by Maher before he took his life in 1926.

Gary's General Services Department occupied the building for several decades, but abandoned it in the late 1990s.  In 2012, the redevelopment department targeted it for demolition, saying the city did not have the funding to renovate it.


Seven-hour Sweep Nets Half-million in Drugs
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carrie Napoleon
[28 Apr 2014]

GARY A second saturation sweep of the year that took place Friday netted five bricks of cocaine with a street value of about a half-million dollars in the biggest bust of the night.

Police from 10 different agencies conducted more than 150 stops of motorists and pedestrians and arrested 30 people on charges ranging from warrant violations to drug possession.  Eleven of those arrests took place within the first 90-minutes of the seven-hour crack down.

The effort by the Lake County Sheriff Department, in cooperation with Gary Police, was intended to crack down on serious offenders in an effort to get as many violators off the street as quickly as possible.  Other participating agencies included police departments from East Chicago, the Indiana State Police, Indiana University Northwest, Munster, Griffith, Highland, Dyer, Whiting, Lake Station, the Porter County Sheriffs Department, and the Region STOP Team.

"We're going to be doing this on a regular basis," Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said.  A similar sweep in March netted 24 arrests.  The sheriff said the sweeps will continue in the coming weeks and months.

Indiana University Northwest served as a mobile command center for police, who were able to bring detainees to the staging area in the parking lot instead of trekking back to the Lake County Jail in Crown Point.  At IUN arrestees were booked, their personal property was bagged and tagged, and they received the required medical evaluation every prisoner entering the jail must receive.  Dr. William Forgey, the jail's medical director, and his staff were on site to expedite the process.  Officers were able to return to the street in as little as 10 minutes.

Buncich said the concentrated effort is not only good for the community, but good for the officers who participate.  It gives them a chance to work together across agencies.  "Its good for camaraderie," Buncich said.


Cal Township Trustee Race Steeped in History, Acrimony
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[25 Apr 2014]

The Calumet Township trustee Democratic race between incumbent Mary Elgin and Gary City Councilwoman Kimberly Robinson is steeped in political history and a healthy dose of acrimony.

The two candidates don't hide their disdain for each other.  Still, the eventual winner faces a bigger struggle for the townships credibility and survival.

The bitter contest unfolds against the backdrop of a federal raid last month at Elgin's Gary office and a new state law that could lead to secession by the town Griffith, whose officials blame their bloated tax bills on township spending.

That backlash from Griffith was bolstered by state Republicans who tried unsuccessfully in 2011 to dismantle township government after decrying excessive and uneven spending by trustees across the state.  Calumet Township was in the crosshairs of that focus and its not likely to escape GOP scrutiny in the future.

Meanwhile, Gary's political heavyweights have a stake in the race.  Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has tossed her support to Robinson while Elgin, who's seeking her fourth term, has close ties and support from the Hatcher family.

Robinson appears to be the frontrunner, winning endorsements handily from Gary's precinct organization (60-13) and Griffith's (23-0).  The salary for the trustees job is $88,000.

Elgin's chances may have been hindered by a March 27 raid by FBI and Internal Revenue Service officials who left with boxes of evidence and a computer.  "I know I haven't done anything wrong, stole money, or forged anything," said Elgin, a retired steel union official.  "It's unusual for them to come in right before an election and try to influence it.  I have no idea of what they were looking for.  They just show up, make a scene and leave."  In her campaign ads, Elgin blames the raid on Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who she said pushed 2013 legislation that could allow Griffith to secede from the township.

Both Robinson and Freeman-Wilson deny involvement in the raid.  "I did not call anybody, people think I called or Karen called," said Robinson.  "I was just as surprised and shocked as anyone else.  I just wanted to run a clean and fair race."

After the raid, Elgin stepped up her attack on Robinson.  "She' s not a leader.  She has all these titles, but what has she done?" asked Elgin.

A former Gary City Court probation officer, Robinson is chief of staff for Lake County Treasurer John Petalas and has been on the City Council since 2008.  "Kim has proven herself on the council," said Freeman-Wilson.  She said Robinson has asked tough questions of her administration.  "She has a track record of fiscal accountability."

Elgin said she launched her first campaign because of concerns over the way eight-term trustee Dozier Allen's office treated indigent clients.  "People were standing outside, the buildings were deplorable.  People were dissatisfied," Elgin said.

Robinson, who has a degree in social work, said people still wait in long lines for services, an issue she says she can fix.  "I started looking into the issues and workings going on there and decided I could do better."  She wants to cut costs by eliminating services, possibly job training, that are duplicated elsewhere.

Elgin takes credit for streamlining the office, although paltry tax collections and property tax caps forced her hand.  When Elgin took office, there were 230 trustee employees.  She said there are about 77 today.  She also said the township operates with just two take-home cars, one that she drives and the other driven by her chief deputy.  Both vehicles are 10-years old or older, she said.  "I brought this township out of the "Dozier" era, the corruption and the way the clients and employees were treated."

Elgin often mentions Robinson's connection to the former trustee and Robinson's term on the township board when Allen was trustee.  Robinson's mother, Wanda Joshua, served as Allen's top deputy and the pair went to prison after convictions of mail fraud in 2009 when the government proved they took federal job program money.  Joshua, who received a 15-month sentence, was defended by Freeman-Wilson.

Elgin said her tenure led to a township turnaround.  She said 12,300 people received services in 2013.

Both candidates agree on one issue the cycle of dependency on public aid must be stopped.

"I truly believe the best way to change the city is to change the lives of the people," Elgin said.  "Look at North Township, how do they get through it?" Robinson said referring to the nearby urban township that includes East Chicago, Hammond, Highland, Munster and Whiting.  "It will take a huge overhaul, while at the same time maintaining services. But there has to be a better way."
Calumet Township is unique.  The city of Gary is the dominant portion of the township and has the highest unemployment rate in the state; around 40%.  Gary has the highest per-capita stock of abandoned housing and a mere 42% property tax collection rate.


Charges Dropped Against Gary Cop
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Ruth Ann Krause
[25 Apr 2014]

Lake County prosecutors have dropped three felony charges against a Gary police officer, alleging ghost employment and theft, saying the state lacks proof to obtain a conviction.

Jennifer T. Powell, 38, who has been on unpaid leave since February, is expected to be reinstated to the police force.

The charges alleged that Powell worked two jobs simultaneously for a two- to three-hour overlap several times during 2012.  At the time she was working full-time as a Gary detective and a Lake County Jail guard.  She also worked part-time at Jack Gray Transport in Gary.

Once time records and other information were reviewed, it became apparent there was no evidence that Powell was being paid twice for the same time, according to defense attorneys Scott King and Russell Brown.  They said some of the records did not correctly show her hours worked.

The defense lawyers blasted the investigation by Gary police Detective Sgt. Derrick Cannon as being "riddled with inaccurate and incomplete facts and other information."  They said they were thankful that Deputy Prosecutor Monica Rogina took the time to review the case, including evidence the defense developed, "to prevent an injustice from occurring."

King said he is seeking to have Powell reinstated with back pay.


Woman Fatally Shot in Gary Early Thursday
#8 and Counting
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Elvia Malagon and Steven Ross Johnson
[24 Apr 2014]

GARY | A Chicago woman was shot to death early Thursday inside a home in the 300 block of Wilson Street, the Lake County coroner's office said.

The 27-year-old woman died about 4 a.m., Lake County Deputy Coroner George Deliopoulos said.  Officials had not identified the woman as of Thursday night.  The Gary Police Department did not return multiple calls seeking comment about the fatal shooting.

On Thursday evening, the only noise in the neighborhood was South Shore trains as they passed by the area.

Loretta Ford, who lives on Wilson Street, said she didn't know the woman who died because the family had lived in the neighborhood for only about a month.  She said she occasionally saw two boys playing in the front yard and saw smaller children peeking through the front door.  "Whatever was going on, it's just sad that someone would take someone else's life," Ford said.

No one answered the door where the shooting happened, though a light was turned on inside the house.  Old newspapers covered some of the windows in the single-story house.

Another neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said he heard about four gunshots early Thursday.  He looked out his front door and saw three men running toward a nearby bridge.

Before Thursday, the neighbor said he saw many adults and children coming in and out of the house.  The man said he had previously spoken to a resident of the house after hearing arguing.  "We have elderly people, people who have lived here for 30-plus years," he said. "We don't act like that around here."

Ford said it's a close-knit neighborhood, and many spent the morning calling each other to talk about the shooting.

"I'm sorry it happened," Ford said. "This is still a good neighborhood. We just don't have that kind of stuff here."


Gary Bank Project Bond Sale OK'd
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[24 Apr 2014]

GARY | Praising the project as another sign of hope for revitalizing the downtown area, the city council has unanimously approved selling $2.8 million in revenue bonds for the renovation of the former Gary State Bank building at 504 Broadway.

The council's action at a special meeting Tuesday sends the bond issue to the redevelopment commission for final action.

Several council members referred to Garys dire financial struggles in recent years, noting that others had declared the city "dead."  Councilwoman Mary Brown, D-3rd, remembered that period.  "I can say it does my heart good to see these people," referring to Gateway Partners LLC, the developer of the project.  "I believe it's an excellent start for us, and we'd be foolish to pass this opportunity up."

Gateway Partners plans to renovate the 10-story, century-old building, and Centier Bank has agreed to open a full-service bank in the lobby.  Exterior renovations call for a drive-thru window and parking for bank customers.


Residents Want Local Jobs to Take Flight at Airport
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Keith Benman
[23 Apr 2014]

GARY | A debate on who will get any new jobs generated at Gary/Chicago International Airport continued Wednesday night at a public forum on the public-private partnership agreement recently forged there.

"We as citizens of Gary should reap some benefits from that," said Charlene Mahoney, of Gary, at the forum at the Marquette Pavilion.  "I hate to see we have this thick plan going and the people of Gary will not be able to participate."  Mahoney and a number of members of the Northwest Indiana Federation of Interfaith Organizations were concerned about the partnership agreement's lack of specific goals for hiring workers from Gary and nearby distressed communities.

Bo Kemp, a member of the committee that forged the agreements, said they in fact contain robust requirements for hiring firms owned by disadvantaged groups, including minorities, women and veterans.  But he acknowledged when it comes to hiring individual disadvantaged workers, other tools will have to be used.

Ruth Needleman, a prominent critic of the deal, pointed out having 30% of subcontracts awarded to local firms as called for in the agreement does not mean those firms will in turn hire local residents.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson at the end of the forum told audience members they were right that it can't be assumed local employers will hire local people.  She said steps will be taken to ensure that there will be employment for local residents at the airport, including sanctions for employers that fail to do so.  "Our job and our challenge is to not assume and not count on the good faith of local employers," she said.

Gary Councilwoman Mildred Shannon, D-1st District, who hosted the forum, said she supports the public-private partnership, but she understands why people are wary.  "What's happened in the past here in Gary, we've been promised many things but the promises have not been kept," Shannon said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   One has to hire the skilled personnel they need from where they are able to be found.  That might present a problem when one looks at Gary as the place where the hiring is desired to take place?


Scott Could Lose Seat on Gary City Council
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[23 Apr 2014]

GARY City Councilman Ronier Scott leaves for prison May 6.  City Council will vote to strip him of his seat May 13, council president Kyle Allen said Tuesday.

Scott, 42, pleaded guilty to two counts of tax evasion in February.  He received a sentence of three months in prison and 400 hours of community service for the misdemeanor offenses.  Scott would have to forfeit his seat if he was convicted of a felony.

Some Gary officials hoped Scott would resign, but on Tuesday Scott said he would not step down.  Scott, D-6th, appeared at an informational forum on the Gary/Chicago International Airport partnership.  He said he is the sole family breadwinner for his family.  Council members earned an annual salary of $28,727 in 2013.

Allen said a two-thirds vote of eight council members is necessary to remove a member.  "Ive known him since high school," Allen said.  "Its nothing I take satisfaction in," he said of the vote.

Allen said a state law allows city councils to remove members.  "If the seat is vacant for 90 days, the interests of the people have to come first," said Allen.  "We have to maintain the integrity of the body.  We all take an oath to look after the interests of the people."

Scott is the second City Council member to go to prison this year for failing to pay taxes.  Marilyn Krusas, D-1st, resigned last year following her tax evasion guilty plea.  She received a one-year sentence for trying to hide a $232,000 inheritance from the IRS to avoid paying a debt created by going 20 years without filing a tax return.


Great Lakes Steel Production Increased by 20,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[22 Apr 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region rose to 589,000T, and overall U.S. output rose by 1.28% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Great Lakes production increased 20,000T, or 3.5%, but remained under its normal level. Steel production dropped by more 100,000T in early April the after U.S. Steel idled blast furnaces at Gary Works, the nation's largest steel mill, because of difficulty bringing raw materials across the icy Great Lakes.

Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in Indiana and the Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, rose to 682,000Tons, up from 671,000T a week earlier.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.8 million tons, up from 1.78 million tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 75.2% last week, up from 74.2% a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been 76.7% at the same time last year.

Domestic mills have produced an estimated 28.4 million tons of steel this year, a 0.9% decrease from the 26.68 million tons produced during the same period last year.

Global steel production was 141 million tons in March, a year-over-year increase of 2.7%, according to the World Steel Association.


New Gary Police Unit Keeps Close Eye on Top 200 Bad Guys
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Matt Mikus
[20 Apr 2014]

GARY | Five officers from the Gary Police Department will be charged with keeping a close eye on those who are considered some of the city's worst dudes (criminals).

"We will go out and target those individuals who are on parole or probation.  These are individuals who have been proven in a court of law to be involved in criminal activity," Police Chief Wade Ingram said.  "We're not just going out and getting anybody."  "What we're doing is compliance checks with these guys.  We know there's a certain percentage of individuals actively involved in criminal activity.  Those guys are either on parole, probation or sex offenders, so we're going to monitor and keep tabs on them."

The new effort will attempt to bridge the gap between when a criminal leaves prison and when he adjusts in civilian life.  The department formed the new unit March 3.  Ingram developed the new unit based on the Chicago Police Department's visitation program.  The five officers are not responsible for answering patrol calls.  The officers on the team are all trained in SWAT, and also will respond to tactical situations.  Since the unit started, it has made 27 arrests.

Sgt. Anthony Stanley, a member of the Top 200 team, said the primary focus of the unit is to provide accurate information to all divisions of the police department.  "When we're out on the job, we're doing one of two things," Stanley said.  "If there's a warrant, we catch them.  If not, we're updating their address or information.

"We're not bogged down with having to do traffic stops," he said.  "We try to do the legwork for detectives and other departments.  Maybe they have a lead on a suspect with only a nickname.  We'll go find them."

The Top 200 team also partner with the U.S. Marshal Service, Region STOP team and gang enforcement units.  Ingram said the team also can track down those considered a person of interest in a crime.

Deputy Police Chief Larry McKinley said the unit tries to offer a guiding hand, keeping criminals on target with education goals and employment.  Besides making sure parolees are providing the right residential address, team members will check to make sure they are attending any court-mandated classes, or have a job.  "We can't just arrest our way out of this," McKinley said.  "So when we're monitoring these individuals, if we see they're falling off the track, we get them back on track.  We'll get them to the Gary Career Center, or if they need to get to the library to take GED classes and courses."  Without offering these opportunities, Ingram said the offenders likely would fall back into criminal activities to survive.

"The recidivism is highest within the first 18 months out of prison.  And, if you're spending $35,000 a year to keep a person in jail, that's a burden on society," Ingram said.  "We have a vested interest in keeping people from criminal activity."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   I am not quite clear on the mission of this unit.  Is it career counseling for felons, a felon shuttle service, or what?  Seems to me the chances of a newly released felon finding gainful employment in Gary are slim-to-none!  Is a complement of five men sufficient to handle the task of keeping Gary's "bad guys" on the straight and narrow?


Better Options Exist than Extension of South Shore
A Post-Trib Reader Op by Thomas Markovich
[20 Apr 2014]

The South Shore proposal seems to be at odds with Rep. Pete Visclosky's focus on rebuilding and reclaiming the region's older, industrial cities.

Increasing the use of public transportation, a desired outcome of the South Shore commuter line expansion, has merit.  But U.S. Rep. Pete Viscloskys proposal overlooks less costly, existing and environmentally sound alternatives while its speculative presumptions ignore critically important residential housing trends of the "millennial generation."  Ultimately, his expansion plan will be detrimental to growth and development in Lake Countys urban core and, therefore, must be re-evaluated.

Amtrak service between Dyer and Chicagos West Loop exists now.  Adding commuter service to that line would enable service to begin without delay and not burden taxpayers with the costs of myriad studies, approvals and labor required to build a new commuter line from Hammond a plan that comes with a jaw-dropping price tag of $83,000 per estimated passenger.  Commuter service on Amtrak used to run from Valparaiso to the West Loop in the 1970s.  Stops at Hobart and Whiting made it possible to serve broad areas of Lake and Porter counties.  This existing infrastructure could lay the foundation for an environmentally sound, less costly alternative to the proposed expansion plan.  For many Chicago-bound commuters, West Loop stations are preferred over the Millennium Park stations, the only station the South Shore line can serve.

The proposed expansion plan also fails to consider a long-proposed commuter rail line just across the state line in Illinois that virtually duplicates Viscloskys plan.  The Metra Southeast Service Line would run from the West Loop to Balmoral Park racetrack in Crete.  A few of the planned stations will lie within five miles, reasonable driving distance, of Dyer.  Working in collaboration with Metra, a spur off the Southeast Service Line could even be built into Dyer, thereby eliminating altogether the rationale for a South Shore extension.

Attracting well-paid white-collar workers to live in Northwest Indiana suburban areas and commute to downtown Chicago, one goal of Viscloskys grand vision, will be difficult.  A recent Wall Street Journal article says highly educated workers are now clustering in cities and delaying moves to suburbs, sometimes indefinitely.  A recent survey by the National Association of Realtors concludes that more people want to live in walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods providing shorter work commutes.  Locations distant from Chicagos core, such as Dyer, St. John, Cedar Lake, Lowell, Crown Point and Valparaiso, are becoming increasingly less attractive to many educated professionals.

The proposed South Shore expansion, by design, will serve predominantly white communities.  The result may be accelerated white flight, urban disinvestment and socioeconomic stratification.  Even worse, the poorest and most vulnerable may actually suffer if existing stations in the countys urban core along Lake Michigan are closed or if service is scaled back due to declining ridership, which are real possibilities.

Also, all Lake County residents will be required to support the expansion while a relatively small number will benefit.

Looking forward, if Amtrak commuter service is begun and found to be profitable, and when population density and other factors support justify extending the South Shore line southward, an ideal expansion should begin near the Gary airport and proceed south along Cline Avenue to U.S. 30.  Stations at highly traveled transportation arteries such as the Borman Expressway, 45th Av and U.S. 30 would attract a larger and more diverse ridership than those now planned for Munster and Dyer and could easily serve nearby university campuses in Hammond and Gary with shuttle bus service.  A Borman Expressway station would be highly visible and apt to increase ridership.  Cline Avenue could reach its potential as a critically important multi-modal transportation corridor and an effective alternative to expressway traffic, both worthy goals.

Thomas Markovich is an information technology consultant and webmaster who lives in Whiting.  He has a bachelors degree in sociology and a masters degree in business administration from Indiana University.


USS Gary Works to Receive More Iron Ore Vessels
John Packard, Steel Market Update

Ice coverage on the Great Lakes is beginning to subside with 36.7% coverage reported by NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory as of April 19.  Ice persists, however, in Lake Superior and the northern sections of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.  Ice continues to clog the locks through Sault Ste. Marie. I t is the ice in the northern sections of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Superior as well as the ice in the locks and along the channel between Lake Superior and Lake Huron which is causing the delays in the iron ore shipments.

US Steel Gary Works will receive ore later this evening as the iron ore carrier American Spirit was only a couple of hours away from Gary, Indiana as of 6:30 PM ET.  SMU is aware of a couple of other vessels on their way to Gary, Indiana.  The Edgar B. Speer has passed Sault Ste. Marie and should reach Gary later this week.  The Edwiin H. Gott is on Lake Nicolet and has an ETA of April 22nd.  SMU does not have a complete list of vessels heading toward Gary.  We were able to track these vessels on the Marine Traffic website (www.marinetraffic.com).


Gary Fire Chief Complaint Hearing Suspended after 4 Hours
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[18 Apr 2014]

GARY--Four firefighters with four separate complaints against their chief expected to present evidence Thursday at a special meeting set by the Gary Fire Civil Service Commission to hear the first of 24 cases filed against Chief Teresa Everett.  But after more than four hours of testimony, the board was still on the first matter, a complaint by retired division chief Theodore Williams.

Williams claims he was wrongly moved to a position that constituted a demotion.  The move, his attorney MacArthur Drake argued, was retaliation for remarks made by Williams brother, Commissioner Randall Williams III, during a city council committee hearing about changes in the department proposed by Everett.

Theodore Williams testified he was a division chief from 2006 until he accepted a city buyout late in 2012, shortly after Everett removed him from his administrative spot over operations to a fire suppression job.  Although his pay remained the same, Williams said he lost opportunities for overtime, estimating the loss at about $20,000, he testified.

Everett, who was appointed by the mayor early in 2012, testified she has the authority to transfer staff members based on "their skill sets and operational needs."  Everett maintained her decisions were made as part of the departments normal routine.  "Youre used where theyre needed," she said.

But Commissioner Juana McLaurin observed the chief had transferred more than one division chief and replaced them with lower ranking battalion chiefs.  All positions within the fire department, except Everetts, are obtained through testing by the commission.  McLaurin also observed that several division chiefs were transferred to battalion chief roles and those battalion chiefs assumed duties in the higher rank.

Commission attorney Rinzer Williams called a halt to testimony before both sides could complete their presentations.  The hearing will continue as part of next month's regular meeting on May 15.  The remaining three cases will be held then, too, the board decided.


Gary High School Graduation Rates
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Christin Nance-Lazerus
[16 Apr 2014]

Gary Community School District Graduation rates:  68.9% - 2013,  60.3% - 2012

Of 155 seniors at Gary Roosevelt in 2013, only 64 graduated for a rate of 41.3%.

Lew Wallace (Sci-Tech-Eng-Math) graduated 67 out of 122 students, yielding a grad rate of 54.9%
West Side Leadership Academy figures were 209 of 303, resulting in a 69% grad rate.
Wm. A. Wirt/Emerson VPA  did the best.  60 of 63 got diplomas, making for a  95.2% graduation rate.

Charter Schools
Thea Bowman Leadership Academy 95.6%
Gary Lighthouse Charter School 87.3%
21st Century Charter Sch of Gary 100.0%

Most Northwest Indiana school districts improved their graduation rates in the 2012-2013 school year, but statewide the number declined slightly.  In Lake County, 11 districts increased their overall graduation rates from the 2011-2012 school year.

The data show black children were least likely to graduate compared to students of other races.  English learners and special education students also were less likely to pass.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   I never thought I would think/say it, but if the best that can be done is to graduate 69% of the students, then perhaps the tax dollars could be better spent?  Maybe the time has in fact come to shutter my alma mater?


Gary Works Still Running at Reduced Capacity

Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete

[16 Apr 2014]

GARY | The nation's largest steel mill is now running at reduced capacity, and iron ore sourcing problems persist because of the worst winter for Great Lakes shipping in decades.

U.S. Steel was forced to curtail production at Gary Works, a fully integrated mill that stretches for seven miles along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, because icy conditions kept it from getting enough iron ore.  The raw material gets shipped over the Great Lakes and is essential to the steelmaking process.

Two of the four blast furnaces are in use, spokeswoman Sarah Cassella said.  Iron ore shipments arrived last week after lengthy delays, which were brought on by thick shelf ice and windbreaks of up to 14-feet-tall in Lake Superior.  "Gary Works is still operating at reduced capacity because of iron ore," Cassella said.

Northwest Indiana steel mills were not able to stockpile enough iron ore, coal and limestone vital ingredients in the steelmaking process this winter because the Great Lakes started to freeze on Dec. 6, said Glen Nekvasil, vice president for Lake Carriers' Association.  That was the earliest point on record the Lakes began to freeze.

Lake freighters have struggled to make the voyage from the Iron Range in Minnesota to Northwest Indiana mills, which depend on shipments of iron ore or other raw materials.  "This is the worst winter since 1993 or 1994," Nekvasil said.  "The last time ice breakers were out this late in the season convoying vessles was 1996.  It's been a very brutal winter."

The United States and Canada operate five heavy ice breakers on the Great Lakes, and that was not enough this winter, Nekvasil said.

Many ships are not even trying to plow through shelf ice that is 40 inches thick in Lake Superior.  The number of active commercial freighters on April 1 dropped to 23 from 39 a year ago.  A few vessels forged ahead anyway since their customers desperately needed the cargo.  But a voyage that normally takes a freighter 2 1/2 days ended up lasting 13 days earlier this month.

"There are tens of thousands of jobs riding on this cargo, and we need to take a look at the adequacy of the icebreaking resources on the lakes," Nekvasil said.  "The weather has moderated but the ice is too quick to melt on sunny days.  Mother Nature is not going to get us out of this quickly."


Parents Will Pay for Prom to Stay in Gary
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[15 Apr 2014]

GARY Seniors at Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy will have a prom with a DJ, food, fancy dresses and suits, and a rental hall.

The only question the high schoolers may have to answer is which prom they will attend:  the school-sanctioned dance or a private one.

On Tuesday a group of parents said theyll pay for a prom for interested Gary students May 9, at the Marquette Park Pavilion instead of the schools planned prom at Centennial Park in Munster.

"Its a private prom, so we dont need the schools permission," said Dwayne Hunter, who, with his wife, Jo Hunter, said the school has not been dealing in good faith with students or parents.  The dispute between several dozen students, parents and the administration began in February, when school administrators announced the prom would be held in Munster, instead of Gary.  A number of students complained they were shut out of the decision-making process.  Roosevelt parents and students began complaining about the site and launched a petition drive.  Dwayne Hunter said about 60 students and 40 parents have signed the petition.

At Centennial Park, the Roosevelt prom will last four hours, and all high school groups are restricted to the building holding their proms, said Barb Holajter, Munster recreation superintendent.  "With high school students, were not going to want them running the grounds," she said.  "We are very strict when we have an event where there are not adults attending."

An official at EdisonLearning, the private corporation operating Roosevelt, said students have been involved all along.  EdisonLearning spokesman Michael Serpe said school administrators chose the Munster site as a cost consideration.  Parents complaints about the location came well after planning had begun, he said.  "Parents only went about (the complaints) well after the contract was signed in Munster," Serpe said.  "Its pretty clear the decision about the prom was discussed at school, and this group of people raised discussions after the decision was finalized."

One parent, Wanda Wyatt, said Roosevelts decision went against students wishes, especially given restrictions Munster parks officials put on high school events.  "The kids were really looking forward to moving about freely, by the beach," Wyatt said. "You know, its the prom."

None of the three Gary public high schools is having a prom in Gary; neither is Thea Bowman Leadership Academy, also based in Gary.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   I guess the facilities at both Hotel Gary and the Sheraton were booked?


Great Lakes Steel Production Up Slightly
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[15 Apr 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region inched up slightly to 569,000T, and overall U.S. output rose by 1.3% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Great Lakes production ticked up by 4,000, or 0.7%, but remained well under its normal level.  Steel production plummeted by 107,000 tons over the previous two weeks when U.S. Steel idled blast furnaces at Gary Works, the nation's largest steel mill.

Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in the Indiana/Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, surged to 671,000T, up from 657,000T a week earlier.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.78 million tons, up from 1.76 million tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 74.2% last week, up from 73.3% a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been 76.7% at the same time last year.

Domestic mills have produced an estimated 26.6 million tons of steel this year, a 0.8% increase from the 26.8 million tons produced during the same period last year.


Gary Bank Project Moves Forward
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[15 Apr 2014]

GARY Renovation plans for the former Gary State Bank at 504 Broadway moved forward Monday as the Economic Development Commission authorized the issuance of $2.8 million in revenue bonds.

With the commissions 4-1 vote, the project now moves to Tuesday's City Council meeting for consideration.  It will likely be forwarded to the council's finance committee and then brought back with a recommendation and full vote of the council, said J. Forest Hayes, director of the city's Economic Development Corp.

The Redevelopment Commission will take final action on the bonds at a future meeting, if the council approves the bonding, Hayes said.

An initial EDC 2-2 vote on April 9 stalled the project, leading to Mondays special meeting.

Commissioner Charles Prewitt said he is "against all downtown development."  He pointed to past projects like the baseball stadium saying:  "None have worked the way they promised."  Prewitt said he'd prefer to see Gateway Partners put up money, instead of the TIF financing.

Although he voted for the issuance of the bonds, Commissioner Marion Williams, a retired Gary educator and businessman, opposed the bond issuance because of a lack of investment by Gateway Partners.  "I have a business across the street and my personal investment is $1.2 million of my own money.  I've never received $1, yet this person coming here today can get almost $3 million ....  It's been a rip-off and I still think it's a rip-off.  My vote is no."


Family's Move for Safety Can't Avoid Boy's Death
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[15 Apr 2014]

GARY After her husband was killed in Chicago, Monik Herron moved her five children three months ago to Gary, away from a neighborhood where she saw dead bodies almost every day.

"It was just too much.  I needed a safe place for my children," Herron said Monday, surrounded by police chaplains who sat silently, listening as she spoke of her son, her loss and her anger at the hit-and-run driver who killed her oldest son, Malik, 13, Saturday night.

"I moved because of him," Herron said, saying she worried about the constant exposure to violence and Malik's search for a father figure.

On Saturday night, as Malik, his friends and some siblings walked back from playing in a nearby park, a speeding truck crossed the road and jumped the curb, striking Malik and a 17-year-old boy.

The older teen, his arm dangling, ran to Herron's home two blocks away, barely coherent enough to describe what had happened, Herron told the chaplains.  Malik died a short time later at the hospital.


State:  60 days Up for Roosevelt Fixes
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Carmen McCollum
[14 Apr 2014]

GARY | Today marks the deadline for Gary Community School Corp. to complete mold remediation and improve indoor air quality at Gary Roosevelt College and Career Academy.

The Indiana State Department of Health gave the school district 60 days to make the improvements after a February inspection cited six state violations regarding air quality at the school and mold.

The improvements were required in six rooms with visible mold, in the concession stand outside the gym and the athletic director's room areas flooded when a pipe burst due to a lack of heat in the building during the long winter.

Indiana State Department of Health spokesman Ken Severson said the department has not had any contact with EdisonLearning, which operates Gary Roosevelt, or the Gary Community School Corp. since the inspection.

Gary schools spokeswoman Sarita Stevens said school workers remediated the mold, cleaning it with bleach and water.  Tile still must be ripped out, and that has not been done yet, she said.

EdisonLearning spokesman Michael Serpe said there is still mold in the band room and, according to school staff, there have been no more attempts to remediate the situation.

"As you are aware, the state inspection report required the district to address all issues in the report within 60 days, and remediate the mold within 48 hours.  Per the staff at the school, they are not aware of any action taken to address these matters."

The Gary Community School Corp. retains ownership of the Roosevelt school building, though the school is operated by EdisonLearning.  The state appointed the private operator to manage Roosevelt after several consecutive years of failure under the school corporation.  Last year, the state also gave the school an F under EdisonLearning.

Complaints about mold in classrooms and leaking pipes were brought to the State Board of Education's attention earlier this year.  At the direction of the board, SBOE staff accompanied state inspectors on-site to review the conditions and to collect estimates on the potential remediation and repairs needed, spokeswoman Lou Ann Baker said.

"Besides the mold, there are leaky pipes, standing water in the boiler room and other problems," she said Monday.  "They came up with an estimate of about $300,000.  The question is where do those dollars come from?"  Some officials, including Gary attorney Tony Walker, who is a member of the Indiana State Board of Education, have sought funds from the governor's office to assist the district in making repairs at Roosevelt.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   And, the beat goes on.


Gary Airport Staff Interview for Their Jobs
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Keith Benman
[14 Apr 2014]

GARY | Gary/Chicago International Airport's new private operator AvPorts will begin interviews of all airport staff this week in preparation for decisions on hiring to be made in the coming weeks.

New airport interim manager Duncan Henderson on Monday said no decision has been made yet on how many employees AvPorts will need to operate the airport.  He also said it was to early to say how many current employees may be offered jobs.

The airport currently employs 18 people in positions such as management, clerical, maintenance and operations.

Current Airport Interim Director B.R. Lane will continue to be employed by the Airport Authority in her current position, according to airport spokesman James Ward.  Lane was hired as airport interim director in September on the recommendation of Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.  Lane was the mayor's chief of staff at City Hall.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Let me see if I have this right?  The Gary Int'l. Airport employs BOTH a "Currrent Interim Director" and a "New Interim Manager.  How does that work?


Gary Youth, 13, Dies after Being Rundown by Car
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[14 Apr 2014]

Gary police are looking for a large, dark-colored vehicle that struck two boys walking along Vermont St Saturday night, killing one of them, before fleeing the scene.

According to the Gary Police Department, the two boys were walking in the 4900 block of Vermont between 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. when the vehicle left the roadway and hit both of them.

One of the boys was able to go home and tell his parents, who alerted police to the accident.  The other boy, who the Lake County Coroners Office has identified as Malik Herron, 13, was taken to Methodist Hospitals Southlake, where he was pronounced dead at 9:56 p.m.  He died from blunt force trauma, according to the coroners office.

The other boy was treated for injuries that do not appear to be life-threatening.

Police believe the vehicle, which fled the scene, has damage to the front passenger side, including the turn signal and mirror.  Anyone with information can call Sgt. Dawn Westerfield at 881-7485.


Three Gary Schools Shine
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Carmen McCollum
[14 Apr 2014]

GARY | Although 13 of 16 Gary schools have been graded D or F by the Indiana Department of Education, three elementary schools are shining stars.

Frankie McCullough Academy for Girls, Benjamin Banneker Achievement Center received an A.  Glen Park has maintained a C grade for several years.

All three principals, McCullough's Pearl Prince, Banneker's Sarah Givens and Glen Park's Alicia Skinner-Kelley, attribute the success to their teaching staff.

Teachers say it's the principal and their respective styles of leadership that have made those schools flourish.  They consistently review student grades and achievement, and work on remediation where needed.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   My guess is that whomover wrote or proofread this story did not get an A in composition!


Woman Arrested after Argument at Awards Ceremony
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[13 Apr 2014]

GARY An argument between two mothers during an awards ceremony at McCullough Girls Academy became violent, and concluded with the arrest of April Howse.

Howse, 29, was charged with battery, disorderly conduct and intimidation, police spokeswoman Cpl. Gabrielle King said.

About 10 a.m. Thursday, police were summoned to the school because of a disturbance between Howse, whose daughter did not receive an award, and Danyelle Scott, the 32-year-old mother of a student who was honored.  Witnesses told police Howse assaulted Scott and other parents had to intervene, King said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   "Can't we all just get along?"  I guess the answer here is a resounding no!


Sheraton Hotel Demolition Advances
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Matt Mikus
[12 Apr 2014]

GARY | In about a week, city officials say residents will start to notice progress on one of Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's campaign promises:  the demolition of the Sheraton Hotel.

Working through the winter, contractors have been busy removing asbestos within the building.  Joseph Van Dyk, director of the city's redevelopment department, expects the work will be completed by the end of this week.  Contractors then will begin asbestos remediation on the outside, which could be done by June.

The building will be demolished starting from the top down, like removing blocks from a Lego tower.  "Really, floor-by-floor demolition is the only way we could do it," Van Dyk said.  "Implosion or a wrecking ball would be too dangerous."

Demolishing the former hotel, which has sat vacant for 20 years, carries a $1.8 million cost.  Funding to cover the cost comes from an Environmental Protection Agency brownfield revolving loan fund, a neighborhood stabilization grant, Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority funds, and money from the city's green urbanism program.

If the project stays on schedule, the Sheraton could be gone by October.

Brenda Scott-Henry, the director of the Department of Green Urbanism and Environmental Affairs, said the city will design multiple plans to install green infrastructure.  "Whatever goes in will be green infrastructure," Scott-Henry said. "It will be something that is natural, and it compliments our area.

Freeman-Wilson has said the sight of the tallest building downtown sitting empty sends a poor message (see NY Times aritcle, below) to people passing by on the Indiana Toll Road, especially because, on some floors, people can see through to the other side.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   One has to wonder how many times some entity shall be paid to remove asbestos from this building.  This is the third time, I believe?


Gary, IN Gateway Has Become the Eyesore
Compiled From New York Times Report By Steven Yaccino
[31 Mar 2014]

GARY, Ind. If one building could tell the story of this citys hope and heartbreak, it would be the Sheraton Hotel.

The tallest structure in this former steel town was once considered "the gateway to Garys future."  It is better known today as "the eyesore" boarded up and abandoned, an empty shell of a better era.

As if Gary needed a reminder of its failures, the Sheraton stands brooding next door to City Hall, where Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson is determined to finally tear it down, floor by floor, as if reversing time.  Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson says it is unacceptable that the building should remain "in the heart of our downtown, right next door to the seat of government."

"It means that city government can make a promise and keep it," the Harvard-educated first-term mayor said of the planned demolition, which will begin later this spring and be streamed live on the citys website.  "That we understand the significance of the Sheraton being in the heart of our downtown, right next door to the seat of government, looking like it looks.  Thats unacceptable."br>

In the past year, Gary has completed more than 200 demolitions, mostly of single-family homes.  About 30 miles south of Chicago along Lake Michigan, the city is in the middle of counting its vacant structures, but as many as 15,000 abandoned buildings could remain, said Garys redevelopment director, Joseph Van Dyk, who is overseeing the Sheraton demolition.

By 1971, when the 14-story hotel first opened as a Holiday Inn, the citys decline had already begun. The population in Gary, built on a thriving steel industry in the early 20th century, peaked around 180,000 in 1960. More manufacturing jobs disappeared with each passing decade. So did many white residents, who moved to the suburbs after the election of Richard G. Hatcher, one of the nations first black mayors of a major city. Today, there are fewer than 80,000 people living in Gary.

At the groundbreaking for the hotel, Mr. Hatcher called the project "the first in a series of moves in downtown Gary development" and "the gateway to Garys future," according to local newspaper archives.  The Holiday Inn closed four years later.

When it reopened as the Sheraton in 1979, followed by the construction of a convention center across the street, the hotels triumphant return was again heralded by Mr. Hatcher as a turning point.  There was a restaurant serving French cuisine and vintage wine.  The Impressions were the first musical group to perform at its Visions Lounge.

But when demand fell short of expectations, the Sheraton shut its doors by the mid-1980s.  It has sat unused ever since.  A skywalk intended to reach from the Sheraton to the convention center was never completed.  It now extends across Broadway and stops in midair.  Vehicles exit a toll road and drive beneath this walkway to nowhere, a gateway to Gary that has fallen short.

Over the years, investors have considered turning the hotel into apartments, office space or a retirement home.  Other attempts to attract business downtown a baseball stadium, Miss U.S.A. beauty pageants also fell short of the hype, including the grand opening of a Wendys restaurant.  Today, a small eyewear shop has replaced the fast-food franchise.

"Smoke and mirrors," said Marion Williams, owner of the local radio station WLTH 1370-AM, who considers the Sheraton demolition little more than another public relations stunt.  The station, which divides its airtime between talk radio and "a touch of blues and some sweet soul," occupies a small storefront on the same block as the hotel, across the street from the broken marquee of the convention center.

Mr. Williams rattled off a list of problems, including crumbling infrastructure and high unemployment, that he said the city should address with the estimated $1.8 million in federal grants and city funds going toward removing the Sheraton.  "Out of all the priorities, youll find no one would put it on the top of their list," he said.

Demolition, the mayor said, is just part of a plan.  "Its one symbol that we can really get things done," she said of the Sheraton.  "But if thats the only symbol, then Im in trouble.  Were all in trouble."

A version of this article appeared in print on April 1, 2014, on page A12 of the New York edition with the headline:  In Gary, Ind., a Gateway Has Become the Eyesore.


Gary Bank Project Suffers Setback
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[12 Apr 2014]

GARY A plan to renovate the historic Gary State Bank building at 504 Broadway hit a snag when the citys economic development commission failed to approve $2.5 million in bond financing this week.

With a member absent, the five-member commission deadlocked 2-2 Wednesday on the bond approval sought by Gateway Partners LLC, meaning the project couldnt move forward.

The developer and the city remain committed to the renovation of the 10-story, century-old bank building that they hope will be a downtown anchor.

The commission is holding a special meeting at 2 p.m. Monday at city hall to reconsider its vote.


Cops Say Man Misled Them About Shooting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[11 Apr 2014]

GARY A Glen Park area felon who claimed he was shot while walking near his home Tuesday night faces criminal charges after police determined that he shot himself, police spokeswoman Cpl. Gabrielle King said.

Stephan Danzy, 21, reported that he was shot in the leg near 42nd Av and Connecticut St and ran about nine blocks to a gas station at 35th Av and Broadway, where he called a friend to take him an emergency room, police reported.

Police investigated the incident, and Detective Cpl. James Nielsen found that Danzy shot himself.  King said Danzy faces charges of false reporting and being a felon in possession of a handgun.

Danzy pleaded guilty last year to felony theft, court records show.


City Council Poised for Possible Scott Resignation
Compiled From a Gary Crusader Report by Carmen M. Woodson-Wray
[9 Apr 2014]

The April 15 Gary Common Council meeting may possibly be the last for 6th District Councilman Ronier Scott.  He is scheduled to report to prison May 6.  Scott, a councilman since 2004, has been sentenced to three months in federal prison for income tax evasion.

Scott pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts for not filing income tax returns for 2008 and 2009.  He also didn't file taxes from 2000 to 2003 and underreported his income in other years during the past decade.

According to Councilman-at-Large and Council President Kyle W. Allen, Jr., Scott has yet to resign from his position on the council and has not indicated that he plans to.  Councilman Allen said, "Technically we will not know if he will resign until he leaves."  Scott could not be reached for comment.

Allen said Scott is scheduled to report to prison on May 6 and their next meeting will take place on May 7.  "Once he's gone, he is leaving a vacant seat and he cannot discharge his duties."  Because the sentence is less than a year, Scott does not automatically lose his council seat but will have to serve the full three months.

Allen said on May 7, the council will make a decision whether to remove him or allow his seat to remain vacant while he serves his 90 days.  He added, "At this point he's still here and according to law, he does not lose his seat because it's a misdemeanor.  I know the discussion will come up on May 7, I guarantee it; but everything is based on what decision he makes."

Allen said he cannot support holding his seat and that it would require six votes from the members of the council to remove him.  "I don't know if there are six votes.  No one will say anything yet until they see what he will do.  If we don't do nothing (sic) he will still get paid because he would still be on the payroll, he said."

The residents of the sixth district would not be without representation since there are three at-large council members.  Allen stated, "With the three at-larges, the district will have councilpersons."


Northwest Indiana Casinos Post Lower Revenues Again
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Karen Caffarini
[9 Apr 2014]

Northwest Indiana's five casinos saw a collective drop in revenue in March compared with the same month last year, marking their fourth month in a row with a year-over-year decline.  On the positive side, the percent of decline has gotten smaller with each month.

The five casinos took in a total of $95.3 million last month, an 8.9% drop from the $104.3 million in revenue reported in March 2013, according to the monthly report issued Tuesday by the Indiana Gaming Commission.

"On the surface, it looks like a disappointing month.  But when you look at the trend over the last four months, we're closing the gap," Dan Nita, senior vice president and general manager of Horseshoe Hammond, said.  "We're chipping away at the shortfall weve experienced."

He said December's revenue was down 18% from December 2012, January's was down 17% year-over-year and February's revenue slid 13% from a year before.  "If this trend continues, I'll feel better about the coming months," Nita said.  Comparatively, Illinois casinos in the Chicago area were down about 12% collectively, he said.

Nita continued to blame a combination of bad weather and the weak economy for the declining revenue at the Northwest Indiana casinos.

The commission report says Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City had the smallest percentage decline at 3%.  Majestic Star II in Gary had the largest at 16.4%.

Ameristar Casino in East Chicago took in $20.1 million in revenue last month compared with $22.8 million the previous March; Blue Chip $15 million compared with $15.6 million, Horseshoe Hammond $43.3 million compared with $47.4 million, Majestic Star I in Gary saw $9.8 million in revenue compared with $10.4 million and Majestic Star II took in $6.8 million compared with $8.1 million in March 2013.


Great Lakes Steel Production Falls Again after Gary Works Idling
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[9 Apr 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region plunged to 565,000T.  Overall U.S. output declined by 3.1% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Great Lakes production fell by 41,000T, or 6.7%, after falling by 9.8% the previous week.  Steel production plummeted by 107,000T in two weeks when U.S. Steel idled blast furnaces at Gary Works, the nation's largest steel mill.  Most of the raw steel production in the Great Lakes region takes place in Indiana and the Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, fell to 657,000T, down from 667,000T a week earlier.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.76 million tons, down from 1.82 million tons a week earlier.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 73.3% last week, down from 75.7% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 76.6% at the same time last year.

Domestic mills have produced an estimated 24.8 million tons of steel this year, a 0.7% decrease from the 25 million tons produced during the same period last year.

Steel permit applications in March rose to 3.48 million net tons, a 7% increase over February.  Import permit tonnage for finished steel was up 11% in March over January.

The estimated finished steel import market share was 25%, and has been 25% so far this year.


US Steel Plant Resumes Limited Operations
Indianapolis Associated Press
[7 Apr 2014]

U.S. Steel says its largest mill is on limited production, after a shortage of vital iron ore due to the ice covering Lake Superior had temporarily shut down its furnaces.

Company spokeswoman Courtney Boone said Monday that ships were able to bring ore to the sprawling Gary Works on Sunday despite lingering ice from the frigid winter.  She would not specify the level of production or estimate the cost of the shutdown.  She said U.S Steel hopes to get more ore to the mill this week.

The mill, which feeds steel to big industries, was shut down for about a week.

A spokesman for the Great Lakes shipping industry says iron ore stockpiles are running low in many places and coal shipments are down 70 percent from a year ago.


Lake County Suffers State's Largest Population Decline
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[6 Apr 2014]

In terms of demographic trends, Northwest Indiana is a tale of two counties.

Last year, Porter County ranked 10th statewide in population growth, while Lake County lost more residents than every other county in Indiana.

Lake County had the biggest population decline out of Indiana's 92 counties in 2013, losing 1,662 residents, according to U.S. Census Bureau figures analyzed by the Indiana Business Research Center at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.  Porter County gained 876 residents, growing at a rate of 0.53%.

The population changes were not as dramatic on a percentage basis.  Lake County lost four times more residents than the county with the second-biggest drop in population but ranked 25th worst statewide in percent of decrease -- shrinking by 0.34%.

Lake County remained Indiana's second most populous county with 491,456 residents.  Porter County kept its position as ninth-largest with a population of 166,557 residents.

Last year's changes reflected long-term trends.  Lake County had an estimated 513,269 residents in 1960, while Porter County's population soared by more than 170% over the last 54 years, according to U.S. Census data.

Lake County had the highest net outflow in Indiana last year with a net loss of 2,840 residents moving elsewhere, which was partly offset by 1,375 natural births.  Lake County is no longer attracting enough residents to offset natural losses of residents moving away to college, retiring to warmer climates or to taking jobs elsewhere.  Not enough people especially not enough younger families are moving in to maintain the population.  Since 2010, Lake County has lost an average of about 1,500 residents a year.


Gary Panel Approves Money for City Unsafe Building Fund
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez

GARY The Gary Redevelopment Commission approved putting an initial $123,860 in an unsafe building fund.

The seed money came from a garage demolition fund.  City crews can demolish garages and charge property owners the cost of the work.  That money then goes into the unsafe building fund that can be used for more demolitions and, over time, may be used for larger demolition projects, Van Dyk said.

The board also accepted transfers of six properties deeded to the city by former owners from around the city.  None of the properties have unpaid taxes, and they will be placed on demolition lists, Van Dyk said.  "Theyre no longer interested in the properties, and theyre just going to walk away," he said of the previous owners.

The commission also transferred 11 department-owned properties to residents and a not-for-profit in Gary.  A New Life Ministry will get seven parcels on the 400 block of Monroe St. and dedicate them to an urban garden and training programs.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   "I don't want it, you can have it, it's too costly for me" seems to be the philosophy at work here?  These former owners are to be commended in that they could very well have just abandoned the property and let it rot. 


Gary PD Adds 12 Chaplains
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[4 Apr 2014]

GARY Prayer, praise and faith buoyed a standing-room-only crowd Thursday as 12 new police chaplains were sworn in to their new duties at the Public Safety Facility.

Pastor Kevin Warren opened the hourlong program with a prayer, thanking God for providing "divine wisdom, divine patience, as we carry out our duties for the Gary Police Department."

The expanded chaplain unit now has 20 members of various faiths who are available to counsel police officers and their families as well as victims and their families.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Are these salaried positions?  If so, one has the question the wisdom of the expenditure involved.  How many crimes are 20 chaplains going to prevent/solve? 


Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson Honored as Phenomenal Woman

Story Posted by Gary Crusader
[3 Apr 2014]

At the 20th anniversary of The Black Womens Expo and the Phenomenal Woman Awards Gala the first woman mayor of Gary, Indiana, Karen Freeman-Wilson, was honored.  The gala is one of Chicagos most anticipated annual event that pays tribute to 20 outstanding Chicago area women whose excellence in a variety of fields is recognized.

Held at the Chicago Hilton Hotel and Towers on March 27 the gala also serves as the official opening event for the Expo.  The keynote remarks to honor Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and the 19 other women was delivered by The Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of the National Action Network a not-for-profit civil rights organization.

Freeman-Wilson was recognized during the event for being the immediate past CEO of The National Association of Drug Court Professionals and Executive Director of The National Drug Court Institute based in Washington, D.C.  In addition, the mayor consulted with the Office of White House Drug Control Policy, the Department of Justice and other agencies in the creation and implementation of drug policy.  As the twice-elected Gary City Judge, Freeman-Wilson helped pioneer the drug court movement in Indiana.

Freeman-Wilson has also demonstrated public service and leadership in state government as Indiana Attorney General and the Executive Director of The Indiana Civil Rights Commission.  In 2000, she was named one of the "Top 100 to Watch" by the National Democratic Convention in Los Angeles.

It was in November 2011, that Freeman-Wilson was elected the first woman to lead the steel city of Gary, Ind. and the first African-American female mayor in the United States.


Gary Not Excited About State Employment Uptick
Story Posted by Gary Crusader
[3 Apr 2014]

When the January Employment Report was recently released, Governor Mike Pence proudly proclaimed the states unemployment rate had dropped below the national average of 6.6%.  Pence declared "every Hoosier should be encouraged by todays unemployment numbers (6.4%) which shows the largest one-month drop in unemployment in 20 years."

The news was no consolation to Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, where the unemployment rate is two full%age points higher at 8.4.% according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Freeman-Wilson said, "It is always good to hear positive news about employment in other Indiana communities.  I continue to be concerned that the plight of Gary residents is not always captured in unemployment statistics."

In neighboring La Porte County, the unemployment rate topped Garys at 9.0%.


US Steel Has Two Steelmaking Plants Down:  Gary Works & Great Lakes
By John Packard Published in U.S. Steel
[3 Apr 2014 1:41 PM]

The bad news keeps building for USS and the flat rolled steel industry.  In a letter to their customers, US Steel advised that their Gary Works blast furnaces and steelmaking operations will be down temporarily due to "unforeseen and unprecedented ice conditions on the Great Lakes that is delaying the transportation of critical raw materials."  The mill went on to say that these conditions have not occurred on the Great Lakes for more than thirty (30) years.

This comes just a few days after US Steel Great Lakes steelmaking operations were taken offline due to a large pipe used to collect dust and fumes from the BOFs fell and collapsed a portion of the roof protecting the BOFs from the elements.

The Gary Works blast furnace operations have the capability to produce approximately 20,500+ tons of steel per day.


'Ghost Adventures' Host Zak Bagans Begins Filming in Gary 'Demon House'
By John Albrecht, Jr., Paranormal Examiner
[3 Apr 2014]

"Ghost Adventures" host Zak Bagans recently started production of a documentary film that will feature an alleged haunted house that he purchased earlier this year.  Hollywood distribution companies are currently in a bidding war for the rights, The Last Vegas Sun reported yesterday.

The small house on Carolina Street, in Gary, Indiana has over 800 pages of official police reports of odd occurrences that have been said to have happened there.  A police captain with the Gary Police Department says he believes that the home is haunted.  According to the police captain and various psychics, the house is infested with hundreds of ghosts and demons.


State Schools Chief in Gary:  Were Here for Action
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[3 Apr 2014]

GARY Indiana schools chief Glenda Ritz vowed Wednesday to work with the Gary Community School Corp. to create an education system that raises achievement at the states lone "high-risk" school district.

Ritz joined Gary schools Supt. Cheryl Pruitt, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and school board president Rosie Washington at a news conference at West Side Leadership Academy.  Afterward, Ritz visited a few classrooms and then went to the Frankie McCullough Girls Academy for another tour.

Ritz, a Democrat, is devoting an unprecedented level of state resources to try to turn around Gary's troubled school district.  Shes brought in outreach coordinators and a platoon of Indiana Department of Education employees to assist Gary school administrators in assessing needs and creating improvement plans at each school.  "I am unabashed to make it happen. ...  Were done with talk, were here for action," Ritz said.

She handed Gary schools the high-risk designation in February, meaning the state would take over all the district's federal funding for remediation programs, special education and other grant-based programs.  State control of that money will help free district officials from the federal bureaucracy, Ritz said.

The Gary schools have received Fs from the state for the past three years, and this year 13 of the 16 schools are designated as in either the D or F categories.  Ritz said the high-risk label is based it on Gary's financial instability and its unsatisfactory academic performance.  To escape the designation, the school district must raise its grade to C for two straight years and post two consecutive years of fiscal stability.

Turning the city's schools around will take more than just copying what works at the district's successful schools such as Banneker Achievement Academy and McCullough Girls Academy.  "Every school has a unique student body," Ritz said.  "You have to have strong leaders and a strong staff. ...  We want each school to identify what they need."

Freeman-Wilson said the city was prepared to support the school district with repairs to some school buildings.  "We are working with our partners in federal and local government to determine what avenues are available to us to put our money where our mouth is."

Ritz talked about a needs assessment that will be done to identify things needed at each of the school buildings.  She said the plan would be continually revised to meet the district's changing needs.  "We will use the federal monies in a way in which you need and the district will help to make those decisions," Ritz said.  "I've been working with the district all year.  They know their schools.  It will not just be a pilot but an infrastructure for the schools in Gary.  We'll look at those federal dollars and the best way to use that to support the schools.  We want to make sure the kids in Gary get what they need."


Gary Jet Center Wins Round in Lawsuit
Compiled froma nwiTimes Report by Keith Benman
[3 Apr 2014]

The Gary Jet Center's lawsuit against the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority took a step forward on Wednesday when a federal judge rejected all motions to dismiss the case and ordered it expedited.

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen in his order dismissed various legal arguments brought forth by the airport authority and intervenor East Lake Management and Development Corp.  Van Bokkelen also granted all sides the right to depose witnesses in the case.

That would appear to open the door to the Gary Jet Center's lawyers deposing witnesses such as former Indianapolis Airport CEO John Clark or perhaps even East Lake Management and Development CEO Elzie Higginbottom.

The Gary Jet Center's lawyer, John LaDue, said Thursday no decisions had been made on who to depose.  He said the Gary Jet Center would still prefer the new airport authority, appointed in September, would grant the relief it seeks.

The Jet Center in its original complaint alleges the airport authority and John Clark schemed to grant unusual privileges to B. Coleman Aviation during last year's negotiations over its lease.  Clark was working as consultant to the airport and led those negotiations.  Among privileges the lawsuit alleges B. Coleman Aviation enjoys are a lack of any requirement to collect landing fees, parking fees, fuel flowage fees and others that the Gary Jet Center must collect and turn over to the airport authority.  The suit claims those exemptions give East Lake a huge competitive advantage.

LaDue said the lawsuit was only brought after attempts at negotiating a settlement with the airport authority fizzled.  "The beef here is with the airport authority," LaDue said.  "East Lake is only doing what the authority permitted it to do."


Body Found at Abandoned Gary Home
#7 and Counting
Compiled from a nwiTimes Staff Report
[3 Apr 2014]

GARY | A person found dead at a vacant home at 1833 Pennsylvania St. died of multiple gunshot wounds in an apparent homicide, according to the Lake County coroner's office.

Gary police went to the house at 12:08 a.m. Wednesday.  They were met by Gary firefighters, who had responded to a fire at the vacant structure.  According to police, firefighters said they found the body in the doorway of the building as they extinguished the fire.

The body was reportedly burned beyond recognition, but the coroner's office was later able to determine the body was that of a black male.  The office reported the person had several teeth missing, had undergone gallbladder surgery, and was approximately 5 feet 7 inches' to 5 feet 10 inches tall.

The Lake County coroner's investigative team was dispatched to the home at 1 a.m. Wednesday and the man was officially declared dead at 1:45 a.m.  The Lake County Crime Scene Investigation unit is assisting in the investigation.


Gary Councilman Sentenced to Prison
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[2 Apr 2014]

Gary City Councilman Ronier Scott will serve three months in federal prison for income tax evasion after a federal judge said Tuesday that the five-month term requested by his lawyer and prosecutors was too much.

U.S. Magistrate John Martin also denied the government request that Scott serve another five months on home confinement, ordering him instead to perform 400 hours of community service.  "Just being at home, that's wasted time," Martin said, adding that he would rather the community benefit from Scott's punishment.

Scott, a councilman since 2004, pleaded guilty last year to two misdemeanor counts of not filing his 2008 and 2009 income tax returns.

He and prosecutors had agreed in his plea deal to ask for the minimum sentence under federal sentencing guidelines, which was 10 to 16 months, half of which could be served in home confinement.  But Martin said the mitigating factors in Scott's case including his service as a councilman, no prior criminal record and his being the sole provider for his wife and four children outweighed the aggravating factors of the case.  "I do find the guidelines missed the mark just a bit," he said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Gary Bell argued against the shorter prison time, saying that although Scott was charged with just two counts of not filing tax returns, he also didn't file them from 2000 to 2003 and underreported his income in other years during the past decade.  The only years where he filed a return apparently were those when he expected a refund, Bell said.  "This man, who is a public official, simply refused to comply with the law for not one but many years," he told Martin.  "... He was picking and choosing (when to file)."  Bell also noted that Scott had not apologized when he spoke to the judge.

His attorney, Kerry Connor, said that while Scott might not have apologized in court, he had apologized in a letter he sent to Martin.  Scott did tell Martin that he was working on paying back his debt to the IRS and had paid $50 a month since October for a total of $250.  The total loss is $33,240.

Martin agreed with the government that Scott should be held to a higher standard because he's a public official who broke the law.  "You've set a terrible example," he told Scott.

However, Martin said most misdemeanor cases don't include prison time, and three months was enough to send a message without being too harsh.  No restitution was ordered as the IRS can order that on its own.

Because the sentence is less than a year, Scott does not automatically lose his council seat but will not get credit for good behavior and will serve the full three months.  He's to report to prison May 6.

"Mr. Scott accepts full responsibility for what he did and is saddened to leave his family and constituents for a short period of time," Connor said after the sentencing hearing.  "However, were grateful the court evaluated the circumstances and sentenced Mr. Scott to three months in custody instead of the maximum two years he could have faced."
   At fifty bucks a month, he will have his debt paid off in a mere 55.4 years!


Body Found in Vacant Burned Gary Building
#7 and Counting?
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[2 Apr 2014]

GARY Firefighters found a body inside a Midtown house destroyed by fire early Wednesday, police said.

The building at 1833 Pennsylvania St. was vacant, but when firefighters extinguished the blaze they found a body in the doorway of the building.  The body was burned beyond recognition, said police spokeswoman Cpl. Gabrielle King.

The Lake County coroner's investigative team was dispatched to the home at 1 a.m. Wednesday.  It was determined the body was that of a male, but the manner of death and other details were still pending.

Lt. Jack Arnold, supervisor of the Violent Crimes Unit, is leading the investigation, King said.


Iconic Ambassador Apartments Facing Demo
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[2 Apr 2014]

GARY A classic but rundown apartment building could soon disappear from the citys landscape.  The redevelopment commission is holding a public hearing at 5 p.m. Wednesday on the demolition of Ambassador Apartments, a vacant, crumbling, 68-unit building at 574 Monroe St.

Commission director Joseph Van Dyk said the public hearings are among several steps required by a federal grant application through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.  He said the state Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation and Archeology has approved the demolition.  The department also must do so, and the city council will have to approve applying for the grant, Van Dyk said.  He estimated that the eight-story building could be torn down as early as the fall if Gary obtains the grant.

Designed by architect William Stern, Ambassador opened in 1927, catering to steel mill executives.  Some historical accounts say the Ambassador was one of the last apartment buildings in the city to integrate during the 1960s.  By the 1970s, with occupancy on the decline, the apartments became low-income housing.  It remained open until 1985, and after years of maintenance neglect, the building was condemned.

A community development group attempted to redevelop the building in the 1990s, but the attempt failed.  In 2012, the city closed a portion of 6th Avenue when bricks began falling off Ambassador Apartments, located across from Jefferson Elementary School.


State of Steel - Weekly Report
Compiled from a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[1 Apr 2014]

Great Lakes (Gary) Region Raw Steel Production 606,000T, nosedived by 66,000T or about 9.8%
Production in the Southern District Rose to 667,000T, up from 656,000T a week earlier

Total Domestic Raw Steel Production 1.82 million tons, down from 1.88 million tons last week
U.S. Output Fell by 3.4%
U.S. Mills Capacity Utilization Rate 75.7% last week, down from 78.4% a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate was 76.2% this time last year.
Domestic Mill Production to Date 23 million tons, a 0.4% decrease from the 23.1 million tons produced by the same time last year
Steel Imports Rose by 1.4% in February over January

"Improved pricing at the end of 2013 and improved demand compared to the weak start to 2013 have created opportunities for importers, and imports have been arriving at more healthy levels so far in 2014," said Richard Chriss, executive director of the American Institute for International Steel, an industry group that supports free trade.  "We have been predicting a better start to the year since late 2013, and the AIIS monthly importer survey supports our optimistic view."

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Created 01 Apr 2014 - 15:33:31 Hrs.

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