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. 

Man Found Slain in Car
#33 and Counting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[30 Sep 2014]

GARY An anonymous caller alerted police to the citys latest homicide victim Monday afternoon, a 40-year-old Gary man found dead in a car.  According to police an anonymous caller reported about 3:45 p.m. that someone had told him his friend was dead in a car in the 600 block of 39th Av.

They said Patrolman George Dickerson, who was off duty, volunteered to check out the report of a possible victim in a car near 39th Av and Harrison St at 3:45 p.m., and found a Chevrolet Impala parked on the south side of the street west of Jackson St.  The victim, Jeffrey Martinez, of the 4000 block of Polk St, was dead in the back seat of a relatives car.  A quick canvass of the neighborhood produced no solid leads.

Martinez apparently was shot to death.  He is the 32nd (?) homicide victim in Gary this year.


Gary School Corp. Asks Creditor Not to Send Mailings to Community
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[29 Sep 2014]

The Gary Community School Corp. on Sunday canceled a press conference set to address a $2.6 million debt to its busing contractor, instead asking the company to not send out more mailings to the community.

The school district originally was going to hold the press conference Monday to address its debt to Illinois Central Bus Co., which recently sent letters to not only the school district but also Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and local businesses saying the debt must be paid by Nov. 10 in order to not risk stopping bus service to students.

"... I would implore the bus company as a multimillion-dollar corporation to refrain from unduly alarming parents and children and to continue to work with us toward a resolution to this problem," Supt. Cheryl Pruitt said in a press release Sunday.  "We believe that business disputes are resolved in meeting rooms and not the court of public opinion."

The press release reiterated that the district has paid $57.3 million to Illinois Central during the past five years, including $20.1 million in the past three years, and has paid $316,182 in the past 30 days.

Bus company spokesman Jamal Washington said the amount in arrears is accruing at the rate of $150,000 per week and $600,000 per month, and will be nearly $4 million by Nov. 10.  "At this point, a solution is less about a single payment and more about an ongoing payment plan for our services.  We will do everything we can to continue bus service for Gary schools," he said.

Pruitt said in the release that the mayor has offered to help the school district, although it did not specify how.


Man Shot to Death in Gary
#32 and Counting
Compiled From a Sun-Times Media Report
[28 Sep 2014]

GARY A 20-year-old man died Saturday night after he was shot multiple times at his home.

DeShelon Hicks suffered multiple gunshot wounds at his home in the 2200 block of East 19th Pl in Gary, according to the Lake County coroners office.

He was pronounced dead in the emergency room of Methodist Hospital Northlake in Gary at 11:28 p.m., according to the coroners office. Hicks death has been ruled a homicide.

Gary police could not immediately be reached for comment.


Northwest Indiana Population Shifting South, East
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[27 Sep 2014]

Most Northwest Indiana cities and towns lost residents last year as the region's population continued to migrate south and east.

Twenty-one of the 40 incorporated municipalities in Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties shrunk last year, according to recent U. S. Census estimates.

The region's large cities Hammond, Gary, East Chicago and Portage all hemorrhaged population again.  But the population of Northwest Indiana's three largest counties remained relatively stable, ticking down by less than 1/10th of 1% to 769,294.

Older industrial cities have been contracting for years, but smaller suburban towns continue to attract new residents.  Northwest Indiana is in fact home to two of the fastest-growing communities in the state, according to the Indiana Business Research Center's Stats Indiana.  Burns Harbor grew at the third-fastest pace in Indiana over the last three years, while Winfield ranked fourth statewide.

Fifteen Northwest Indiana cities and towns grew last year, mostly in south Lake County and Porter County, according to the U.S. Census figures.  Every community in Porter County grew or stayed stable, except for Portage, which shrunk slightly.  Every city and town in LaPorte County lost residents or remained flat except for Michigan City, which grew by an estimated 0.2%.

Southern towns, including Cedar Lake, Crown Point, Merrillville and St. John, added residents last year.  But populations losses weren't confined to Lake County's northern cities, where old factories sit idle and steel mills employ a fraction of the residents they used to.  Some of the more surprising population losses were in Munster, Dyer, and Schererville.

"Lake County has suffered the steepest population decline in the state in the last few years," Kinghorn said.  "It's the lingering effects that downturn has had on migration in every metropolitan area in the country.  Central cities have grown in this case Chicago or Cook County have grown faster than outlying areas because the movement out of the central cities to the outlying areas has really slowed down."

The population in Lake County's northern third is continuing a gradual decline that has been ongoing for decades and that mirrors what had happened in the rest of the Rust Belt, Kinghorn said.  "You see the same effects in industrial Detroit and Cleveland," he said.  "They were once industrial powerhouses, but people are leaving those areas and looking for employment."


City Dumps Waste Management Service
Compiled From a Gary Crusader Report
[27 Sep 2014]

The Gary Sanitary District Board of Commissioners voted unanimously this week to terminate the contract with Waste Management.  The service was terminated according to Crusader sources because of poor services being provided to the city.  The termination was the result of numerous resident complaints.

Waste Management was unaware of the districts Board of Commissioners plans to terminate their five-year contract that was signed in 2012.  According to the Districts attorney the contract the city has with the company allows the city to terminate it with a minimum of a seven day notice and a maximum of 30 days.  The decision was done under the "convenience" clause written into the contract.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who is also the Special Administrator for the Sanitary District, released the following statement:

"Yesterday, during a special board meeting convened by the Gary Sanitary District, the Board of Commissioners voted to terminate the contract of Waste Management.  The separation of this relationship was made after a string of events including diminished services by Waste Management during winter months, lack of responsiveness to residents complaints and overall poor service."

She added, "It is my duty to represent and quite frankly, fight for the best interests of Gary residents.  For months, we have called on Waste Management to address the mounting concerns of inconsistent garbage pickup and in some areas, absence of pickup.  Their failure to act led to the decision of this board to exercise an option contained in the Districts contract with Waste Management to terminate the contract for convenience and seek services from a new provider."

Recently the mayor and City Councilwoman Carolyn Rogers, D-4th, responded to complaints of residents themselves regarding missed services they were not receiving in their alleys.  Mayor Freeman-Wilson said, "We were in the alley ourselves moving the carts to the front of the streets.  Waste Management should have been able to navigate their trucks down our alleys.  The complaints from residents were endless."

The mayor said plans are underway for bids to go out to secure a waste collection provider that can meet the needs of the city.  She said, "In the interim, we have taken steps to ensure that there will be no interruption in service; however, there may be instances where the trash pickup day may change.  In the event of any changes, notices will be sent to all impacted residents."

Reports have been made that Waste Management is attempting to reach out to the mayor in hopes of resolving the situation.


Gary Schools Owe $2.6 Million for Busing
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[26 Sep 2014]

GARY Busing woes continue to plague Gary Community School Corp.

GCSC is $2.6 million in arrears to Illinois Central Bus Co., according to Jamal Washington, senior contract manager for the company, which has been providing bus service for GCSC for the past two years.  The school corporation in May signed a three-year, $14.7 million contract with the company.

Illinois Central earlier this week sent copies of a letter it sent to GCSC to Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and other business leaders in the community telling Pruitt that GCSC must make payments by Nov. 10 or risk having service suspended, Washington said.

Kevin Mest of Illinois Central said the school district wrote the contract and it does include a cancellation clause.  Washington declined Friday to say whether the $2.6 million bill would necessitate canceling the contract but did say Illinois Central was "optimistic the school would resolve the situation."

Pruitt said the Indiana Department of Educations Office of Transportation is working with Gary to help provide efficient and cost effective routing.  "We have been transparent and forthright about our fiscal challenges," Pruitt said.  "The budget continues to take a hit due to low tax collection and compounding deficits."

Pruitt and members of the school board will address transportation debt during a news conference at 11 a.m. Monday at the Administrative Building, 620 E. 10th Pl.


Gary Mail Center Closing Come Summer
Compiled From a nwiTimes AP Report
[25 Sep 2014]

GARY | Postal Service officials are expecting to shut down the mail processing center in Gary by the end of next summer.

Postal Service spokeswoman Mary Dando says some of the mail processing for Gary is already being done at a center in the Chicago suburb of Bedford Park.  Dando tells Lakeshore Public Radio that all of the Gary center's work is scheduled to be moved to the Illinois site by late July 2015.

About 150 people work at the Gary processing center.


Gary Police and Firefighters Picket, Press for More Pay
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[24 Sep 2014]

GARY Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson promised police and firefighters that she will hold weekly meetings to address their not receiving pay raises in years, but they remain unconvinced that anything substantial will come out of the sessions.

The mayor addressed the city council finance committee on Tuesday night.  The committee meeting had to be held in the council chambers to accommodate the number of police and firefighters who attended.  Police and firefighters from other communities joined Gary officers and firefighters outside city hall earlier in the evening during an informational picket.

Freeman-Wilson told the crowd that public safety accounts for 65% of city spending each year, and Gary didnt get any revenue relief until the county passed its county option income tax last year.  That tax money was not dispersed unitl this year.  After the $4.2 million from the new tax  $167,000 less than the city was expecting is used to cover items such as payroll and pension costs, little will be left over, city controller Celita Green said.  Gary has received $3.2 million from the county income tax so far this year.  Adding to the citys financial woes is that property tax collection has fallen to about 43%, less than it was two years ago.

"If Garys not safe, business arent going to come in or theyre not going to stay, and thats the same for residents," the mayor said.  "And if our infrastructure isnt there, our residents are displeased.  How do we provide an adequate solution?"

Freeman-Wilson said she would be sitting down with council members and representatives of the fire and police unions every week over 90 days, starting Oct. 6, to try to achieve a solution to the pay situation as well as a plan for future years.  "There is not a level of parity that anyone would like to see," she said, referring to the low salaries of Garys police and fire personnel compared with other such departments in Lake County.

Council President Kyle Allen said he understands the officers and firefighters frustrations.  He also bristles at the state not making residency requirements more stringent for police and firefighters.  "You cant have city employees demanding us for a raise because youre going to take the money and pay taxes somewhere else," he said.  "No city can function on 40% (property tax ) collection."

Firefighter Henry Hegwood, a 12-year employee, objected to that sentiment.  "I want a raise," he said.  "You talk about future firefighters, well, Im 41 years old now.  I was your future.  You move money here and you move it there, but you never find money to compensate us.  My kids like steak, too."

Gary police officers have not had a raise since 2007 and were denied negotiated raises through 2009 by former Mayor Rudy Clay when he refused to put the raises in the budget, Sam Abegg, president of the Gary Police Fraternal Order of Police, said.  The issue was settled in arbitration, and the pay is now being issued to officers.

Abegg said outside of small changes that could be made, such as a one-time bonus, he doesnt think police will get any sort of real money out of the talks with the mayor.  "They see that public safety consumes 65% of the budget, so that deters them from adding to it, and instead they manipulate the other parts of the budget and dont touch ours," he said.


Great Lakes Steel Production Dips by 2,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[23 Sep 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region ticked down to 687,000T, while the overall domestic industry rose slightly last week.

Overall U.S. output rose by 0.47% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Local production inched down by 2,000T, or 0.2%.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.891 million tons, down from 1.882 million tons a week earlier.  Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 78.6% last week, up from 78.2% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 78.3% a year earlier.

U.S. mills have produced 69.7 million tons of steel so far this year, or about 0.7% more than at the same point in 2013.  They made around 69.2 million tons of metal over the same period last year.

Domestic steel exports dipped by 3.3% to a little over 1 million net tons in July, according to the American Institute for International Steel.  U.S. mills are sending 6.6% less steel overseas so far this year, and shipments to most of America's minor trading partners have fallen off.  Exports to Canada were flat in July, while exports to Mexico increased 7.4%.


Ex-convict, 46, ID'd as Gary Homicide Victim
#31 and Counting
Compiled from a Post-Trib Staff Report
[23 Sep 2014]

GARY--The man found shot to death Monday in a Brunswick alley has been identified.

Lafayette Caldwell, 46, of 6100 W. 5th Av., was released from prison last year on two counts of attempted murder for a robbery-shooting in September 1992.

His father, also Lafayette Caldwell, owns Caldwell Towing, which is also the familys home address.

Residents in the 300 block of Calhoun St, just a short distance from the tow yard, reported seeing a large red tow truck in the area about 3 p.m. when they also heard gunfire, police said.

Moments later, Caldwells body was seen in the alley south of 3rd Av east of Calhoun St.  He was pronounced dead from multiple gunshot wounds at 3:49 p.m., a news release from the Lake County coroner states.

Investigators worked late into the night questioning potential witnesses.  The truck they believe was seen in the area before the shooting was located and towed to the Lake County crime laboratory for processing, police said.

Caldwell was sentenced to 45 years in prison after he, James Lofton and Jermaine Byers were convicted in Lake Superior Court.  They were accused of shooting two men after meeting to collect more than $1,000 in gambling debts.  Both victims, Nathan Riley and Jimmy Lane, were shot multiple times.  Lane fled out a window after he was wounded and Riley managed to call police, court records state.  The victims identified the three suspects as the men who took money from Rileys pocket and shot them several times.

Caldwell filed a post-conviction relief appeal in 2010 that was denied, court records show.

Anyone with information about Caldwells final hours or the shooting can call Sgt. Dan Callahan or Detective Alexander Jones at (219) 881-1210 or by sending an e-mail to Jones at ajones@ci.gary.us


Poverty Picture Grim in Gary
Compiled from a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[23 Sep 2014]

Poverty in Gary continues to get worse.

The rate of people who live in poverty increased from 38.8% in 2012 to 41% last year, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureaus American Community Survey series for cities with more than 65,000 people.  Most of the increase was among residents ages 18 to 64, who saw the poverty rate increase from 34.5% to 38.7%.  The number of children younger than 18 living in poverty dropped one%age point, but a large majority 61.7% remain stuck in poverty, according to the data.

Poverty also continues to afflict women more than men in Gary, no matter their employment status.  Of working people, 20.7% of women lived in poverty last year, compared with just 14.9% of men.  For those who were unemployed, 58.6 of women lived in poverty, while 47.8% of men did.

The high number of women and children living in poverty, Bloom said, is likely partly attributable to Garys high rate of single mothers.  According to the census data, more than half of the families in Gary 9,854 out of 19,190 last year were headed by a single mother with no male present.  Of those families, 50.6% lived in poverty, compared with just 13.6% of families headed by a married couple.

Leticia Turner is one of those single mothers.  Unemployed and supporting a son with mental health issues, Turner was at Trinity United Church of Christs clothes giveaway program Friday morning to find needed items.  "We lack resources here," she said.  She struggles to find help to get to a point where she can support herself, Turner said.

Shes working to get her drivers license back after legal problems, but until then, she cant work any job that requires Sundays, as the Gary Public Transportation Corp. doesnt operate on that day.  Then there are the closing schools and lack of jobs in the city that make it even harder, she said.  "Everything is degrading," she said.  "Im tired to where I just want to give up."

Turner did praise the church for its programs, which also include a soup kitchen on Saturdays, a community garden, substance abuse help, guidance in understanding the new health care law and more.  "I love the people in the city but not how its governed," she said.


Man Accused of Threatening Ex's New Boyfriend
Compiled from a Post-Trib "Law & Order" Staff Report
[22 Sep 2014]

GARY Police arrested a Glen Park man who allegedly fired shots outside his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend's house, then sent a text saying, "I have 13 more hollows for your ass," the arrest report states.

Zachary Hatton, 21, of 3837 Roosevelt St., was arrested shortly after the 12:20 a.m. incident.  He pleaded not guilty to intimidation and invasion of privacy Monday in Gary City Court.  He is being held on $750 bail.


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

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region rebounded to 689,000T, while the overall domestic industry dripped slightly last week.

Local production rose by 24,000T, or 3.6%.  Local output had plunged by 29,000T the previous week.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, fell to 654,000T, down from 664,000T a week earlier.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.882 million tons, down a smidgen from 1.885 million tons a week earlier.  Overall U.S. output fell by 0.1% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 78.2% last week, down from 78.4% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 78.3% a year earlier.

U.S. mills have produced 67.8 million tons of steel so far this year, or about 0.7% more than at the same point in 2013.  They made around 67.4 million tons of metal over the same period last year.

Domestic steel mills shipped 8.4 million net tons in July, a 2.4% increase over the previous month and a 2.6% increase over the previous year. Year-to-date shipments total 57.2 million net tons, a 2.9% increase over the same period in 2013.


Death Penalty Sought for Gary Cop Killing
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Ruth Ann Krause
[17 Sep 2014]

Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter is seeking the death penalty for a Gary man charged with murder in the July 6 shooting of Gary police Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield.

An entry in the online docket shows Carter filed an amended information Tuesday for a death sentence request "for the murder of Jeffrey Westerfield."

The alleged shooter, Carl Blount, 26, will be told of the death sentence filing at an omnibus hearing set for Wednesday morning.  Lake Superior Court Judge Samuel Cappas will preside at the hearing, during which it is anticipated that extra police and courthouse security officers will be present.

Blount has pleaded not guilty.


Gary Police, Firefighters Rally for Higher Wages
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Rob Earnshaw
[16 Sep 2017}

GARY | More than 60 city police officers and firefighters picketed Tuesday outside Gary City Hall to seek pay raises and better equipment.

Many stood in plain clothes holding signs saying "lowest paid in the county" and "where's the county tax money?" before Tuesday night's City Council meeting.

Gary police officers are among the lowest-paid in the region, officials have said.  Police haven't received a raise since 2007, said Sam Abegg, president of Gary Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 61.  The department's starting salary is $35,646, he said.  For a patrolman, annual salary increases to $39,304 after two years on the job, he said.  Gary officers would need a 25% raise just to get close to what other local police make, he said.

Abegg referred to Tuesday night's rally as an "informational meeting."  "This is in response to the notion that they're going to pass the budget without any raises to police or fire," he said.  "It's an opportunity to step in and voice our concerns."  Abegg said there's no way the city will sustain economic development without public safety.

Gary police Cpl. Doug Drummond has been with the department for nine years and has a family of six.  "We're basically living in poverty level," he said.  "I choose to work here.  I don't want to leave.  It would be good faith to show public safety is a main concern.  We need better."

Gary firefighter and vice president of Gary Firefighters Association Local 359 Michael Collins said they haven't had a contract in seven years and a raise in nine years.  "Station conditions are deplorable," he said.  "Every day we're operating with less and less equipment.  We're really at the point where we're being asked to do more with less.  And we're almost at the point where we're going to be asked to do something with nothing."

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson released a statement prior to the council meeting saying she understands police and fire personnel are frustrated about the disparity between their pay and counterparts throughout Northwest Indiana.  Freeman-Wilson said contributing factors have been the impact of property tax caps and the reduced collection rate over the past seven years.  She said she's working with leadership in the police and fire departments and members of the council to come up with both short-term and long-term solutions.

One is a change in the clothing allowance for police and fire personnel for 2014 and 2015 by adding an additional $1,500 per year.  Additionally, a group would be immediately convened consisting of individuals from the Fraternal Order of Police, the Gary Firefighter's Union, the City Council and the mayor's office to identify changes to the salary structure that can be made within the confines of the existing budget as well as future changes to the compensation of police and fire personnel.  The work of this group would be complete by the end of 2014 and would lead to changes effective in 2015 and beyond.


U.S. Steel Scraps Coke Alternative at Gary Works
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[16 Sep 2017}

GARY | The largest steel mill in Northwest Indiana has abandoned a longtime plan to make a cheaper, more-reliably priced alternative to a raw material needed for steelmaking.

U.S. Steel won't pursue any further development of carbon alloy facilities at Gary Works, where it had invested an estimated $210 million over the last three years hoping to produce an alternative to traditional coke used in blast furnaces.  The newly constructed C Module, which would have made a carbon alloy material to be used in place of coke, will be permanently idled.  Plans to build a second module at the steel mill have been scrapped altogether.  U.S. Steel would have needed to invest more than $800 million in Gary and Minnesota to complete the projects, the company estimated.

After a change in leadership last year, the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker has pursued a number of strategies including laying off non-union managers and supervisors in Northwest Indiana to improve its financial performance after failing to turn a profit for five years.

U.S. Steel also announced Tuesday its Canadian subsidiary, U.S. Steel Canada, would file for bankruptcy to restructure after losing $2.4 billion over the last half decade.  It's also dropping plans to expand an iron ore pellet mining operations in Keewatin, Minn.

Since 2011, the steelmaker has been trying to use propriety technology from Texas-based Carbonyx Inc. at Gary Works to produce up to 500,000 tons of a coal-based coke substitute per year, which would have fulfilled about 20% of mill's coke needs.  Delays and operating malfunctions beleaguered the project.  A U.S. Steel executive said this spring the company was still tinkering with Module C before attempting to get it online, because it was satisfied with what it was paying for traditional coke, which the steelmaker originally wanted to reduce its reliance on because it's subject to the ups and downs of the market.  The company also has been trying to burn more natural gas, which is abundant and cheap.

"The decisions to stop further efforts relative to these investments represent another step in our transformation to earn the right to grow," said U.S. Steel president and chief executive officer Mario Longhi.  U.S. Steel is forsaking a plan to increase production at Keewatin from 3.6 million tons of iron ore a year, to 9.6 million tons.  The company plans to write down between $550 and $600 million in its third quarter earnings, including for $210 million in investment in Gary Works.

"In making these decisions, U.S. Steel considered its future raw materials needs for iron ore and coke, and found its current production capability sufficient," the company said in a statement.  "The previously announced examination of alternative iron and steelmaking technologies such as gas-based, direct-reduced iron and electric arc furnace steelmaking are not affected by these decisions.  The company is seeking permits for the possible construction of an EAF at our Fairfield Works in Alabama."

The steelmaker has a cash balance of $1.4 billion, and expects its third quarter results to be much higher than analysts' earnings per share forecasts.


Victims ID'd in Double Homicide in Gary Alley
#30 and Counting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[15 Sep 2014]

GARY | A 38-year-old Gary man and a 32-year-old Gary woman were found shot to death in a vehicle in an alley early Sunday morning, according to the Lake County Coroner's office and Gary police.

Alex McKenney, of the 500 block of Ralston St, and Tanika Ewing, of the 1300 block of Burr St, died of gunshot wounds and their deaths were ruled homicides, the coroners office said.

Police responded at 3:24 a.m. to a call of a suspicious vehicle in an alley in the 700 block between Jefferson and Madison Sts, police said. They found a vehicle with Ewing in the driver's seat and McKenney in the passenger seat.  Both were unresponsive with no signs of life, police said.  Ewing was pronounced dead at 4:40 a.m.; McKenney at 4:41 a.m., the coroners office said.

Gary police and the Lake County CSI team were investigating.  Anyone with information is asked to call Sgt. Dan Callahan, the lead investigator on the case, at (219) 881-7545.

The homicides were the third and fourth in the past week and the 28th and 29th  (?) of the year in the city.


Gary Woman Shot to Death
#29 and Counting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[14 Sep 2014]

GARY A 32-year-old Gary woman was found shot to death in a vehicle early Sunday morning, according to a release from the Lake County Coroner's office.

Tanika Ewing, of the 1300 block of Burr Street, died of gunshot wounds and her death was ruled a homicide, the release said.

The coroner's office was called at 4 a.m. to the 700 block of Jefferson Street in Gary, where Ewing has been shot to death in a vehicle, the release said.  She was pronounced dead at 4:40 a.m.

Gary police and the Lake County CSI team were investigating, the release said.


Drop in Casino Revenue Leaves Lake County Commissioners Short
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carrie Napoleon
[14 Sep 2014]

CROWN POINT An unexpected (?) casino revenue shortfall of about $1.1 million this year has Lake County commissioners again pushing some needed facility maintenance work further down the road.

Dante Rondelli, county financial consultant, said the county learned Sep 5 that the casino revenue disbursement for 2014 would be about $1.1 million less than anticipated.  The commissioners capital improvement fund ended up taking the full hit.  The fund had about $1.5 million.

Larry Blanchard, consultant to the commissioners, said officials had planned to perform a variety of needed maintenance projects with that money in an effort to chip away at a long list of overdue work but were waiting until the casino revenues came in to begin.

"You never know," Blanchard said of the disbursement.  Until this year it had been fairly consistent.  The lower amount was a surprise.  Each year officials generally wait for the casino tax reconciliation check to come in before tapping capital improvement funds.  Since officials do not get the disbursement amount until September it is difficult to spend the money before it is received.

Overall, the casino disbursement in Lake County is roughly $17.5 million this year.  Twenty-five percent of that is distributed to cities and towns without casinos.  Another $600K to $700K goes to roads and $1 million goes to supplement insurances.

The Regional Development Authority low-income property tax credit was about $5.5 million, $1 million more than in previous years.  Some of the distribution is also dedicated to bond issues.  After commitments on the money are filled, the council gets about $4 million that is distributed in various qualifying departments including the commissioners budget.  That is about $1 million less than last year.

About $400K is left in the fund that can be used for some of the work.  "Things are just waiting in line according to priority.  Were hoping to get them done," Blanchard said.  Commissioners are in the process of obtaining pricing for some of the work.  If the funds had already been spent, officials would have had to look to other departments to find the $1.1 million to bring this years budget back into balance. 

Projects on the list for this year ranged from roof repair and replacement at the Lake County Juvenile Center and parking lot resealing and striping.  Some funds were also earmarked for one of the new E-911 communications towers needed for the consolidated dispatch.  Officials now will have to look elsewhere for the funds.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Gee, perhaps if the powers that be were reading the "On the Come Up" report they would have seen this coming? 


Gary Man Found Shot to Death
#28 and Counting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[13 Sep 2014]

GARY A man was found shot to death Friday morning at the end of a sparsely populated dead end street on the city's west side, police said.

A resident who lives in the 200 block of Waite St called police about 9 a.m. after seeing the man's body near the side of the road, police said.

Orlando Charleston, 37, of the 700 block of Clinton St in Gary, was dead[ from gunshot wounds, the Lake County Coroners Office said.  His death was ruled a homicide.

Detective Cpl. Michael Barnes is investigating the homicide, the 27th (?) violent death this year.  Anyone with information can call him at (219) 881-7434.


Teen Shot and Killed at His Gary Home
#27 and Counting
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[11 Sep 2014]

GARY | A 19-year-old Gary man was shot and killed at his home Wednesday night.

Craig Anderson of the 2400 block of Prospect Street was pronounced dead at 10 p.m. at that address, a Lake County Coroner's office report said.  The cause of death was listed as multiple gunshot wounds suffered in a homicide.

Cpl. Gabrielle King, spokeswoman for the Gary Police Department, said officers were called at 8:40 a.m. to a report of shots fired.  When officers arrived, they were met by a man who said one of his relatives was inside and had been shot.  Officers entered the home and found Anderson inside.  Police said he died at the scene.

No additional information was released.  Police asked anyone with information about the crime to contact Detective Lorenzo Davis at (219) 881-4738.


Casino Revenues Take Smaller Tumble
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Karen Caffarini
[10 Sep 2014]

Year-over-year revenues at Indianas five casinos fell at a lower rate than in previous months this year, giving casino operators some encouragement as they head into the final stretch of 2014.

"Im more encouraged than I was 30 days ago," Dan Nita, senior vice president and general manager of Horseshoe Hammond, said Tuesday.

According to monthly revenue numbers released Tuesday by the Indiana Gaming Commission, the five casinos took in a total of $85.6 million in August, compared to $90 million in August 2013, which Nita said was about a 4.5% drop.

Year-over-year revenues dropped 10% in July and are down 8.8% so far this year compared to this time last year.

Horseshoe Hammond took in $38.5 million in August compared to $41.5 million last August.  Ameristar in East Chicago showed the only gain, raking in $19.1 million compared to $18.3 million last August.  Blue Chip Casino in Michigan held even at about $14.2 million.  Majestic Star I took in $7.9 million, compared to $8.7 million, while Majestic Star II raked in $5.9 million compared to $7.2 million.


Great Lakes Steel Production Plummets by 29,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[9 Sep 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region plunged to 665,000T, though the overall domestic industry slumped slightly last week.

While local production plummeted by 29,000T, or 4.2%, production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, rose to 664,000T, up from 659,000T a week earlier.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.88 million tons, down from 1.91 million tons a week earlier.  Overall U.S. output fell by 1.5% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 78.4% last week, down from 79.5% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 78.3% a year earlier.  U.S. mills have produced 65.9 million tons of steel so far this year, or about 0.7% more than at the same point in 2013.

Domestic steel mills shipped 8.4 million net tons in July, a 2.4% increase over the previous month and a 2.6% increase over the previous year.  Year-to-date shipments total 57.2 million net tons, a 2.9% increase over the same period in 2013.


Gary Airport Explores Creation of Customs Clearance Area
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Christin Nance Lazerus
[9 Sep 2014]

GARY Gary/Chicago International Airport officials and airport tenants are exploring the possibility of establishing a customs clearance area to increase the chances of international flights.

Interim airport director B.R. Lane said there will be a cost to either renovating an existing building or constructing a new one, but it would an integral move to ensure the airports future success.  "Without it, there can be no international travel at this airport," he said.  "It has to be done and as quickly as possible."

Lane said the airport and its tenants are working to identify a partner for the project.  Lane said there arent any cost estimates for the project at this point.

Airport stakeholders, including the city of Gary, will submit recommendations to be prepared as a part of an application to Gov. Mike Pence.  If he gives the plan his recommendation, it will then head to the federal Customs and Border Commissioner for approval.


Gary School Budget at $79 Million
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[9 Sep 2014]

GARY Preliminary enrollment numbers reflect a loss of 400 to 500 students over last year, Gary Community School Corp. Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said Monday during a board workshop on the 2015 budget.

The official state enrollment count day is Friday.  The state bases its tuition support on enrollment that day.

The district plans to advertise a $79M budget, expected to be published in local newspapers on Saturday.  The general fund, which covers payroll and most of the districts costs will be advertised at $60M, officials said.

The school district is battling a $7M transportation account deficit, which began in 2008 and has grown each year since.  Pruitt blamed the 42% property tax collection rate for the shortfall.

Meanwhile, the districts enrollment as of Sept. 5, was 7,259 students, Pruitt said.  On Monday, Pruitt said enrollment numbers were up at many schools, following the closing of four schools in June.

Beveridge Elementary enrollment more than doubled, going from 322 to 727.  Many students from the closed Brunswick Elementary transferred to Beveridge.  The West Side Leadership Academy increased from 729 to 1,037 students, following the closing of the Lew Wallace STEM Academy.  The Dunbar-Pulaski Academic and Career Academy showed a gain from 378 to 668 students, Pruitt said.  The Glen Park Academy enrollment increased from 479 to 723.


Stewart Tops Freeman-Wilson for Gary Dem Chairman
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carrie Napoleon
                    and a nwiTimes Report by Bill Dolan
[7 Sep 2014]

Willie Stewart Jr. was named Democratic Party chairman in Gary after a run-off election Saturday that ended in defeat for Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and two others competing for the leadership post.

None of the four candidates walked away with a winning majority after a first round of voting among a caucus of Democratic precinct committeemen.

The first round of voting came after Freeman-Wilsons supporters successfully moved to open the floor for nominations to place her on the ballot.  The mayor had missed a filing deadline earlier in the week.  Freeman-Wilson missed the filing deadline by one hour Wednesday morning.  She said she thought the deadline was noon, as it is for political office filings. The deadline was 10 a.m.  Two-thirds of the 109 delegates who attended had to vote in favor of opening nominations.

After the first round of voting, Willie Moore III and David Fossett were removed from the ballot after receiving less than 10 votes each.

In the run-off vote, Stewart beat Freeman-Wilson 47-44 to fill the position being vacated by Lake County Councilwoman Elsie Franklin.  A little more than half of Garys approximately 200 precinct committeemen and vice committeemen attended the caucus.

Stewart said he is looking forward to working with precinct committeemen and vice committeemen to move the city organization forward.  "I want to make the Gary Precinct Organization strong again, as it was before," he said.

County Clerk Mike A. Brown, himself a veteran of Gary politics, said afterward he doesn't think the vote will cast a shadow over Freeman-Wilson's  chances for re-election next spring.   "I think she has done a good job as mayor and the voters will re-elect her," Brown said.

John Buncich, Lake County Democratic Central Committee chairman, called on the committeemen to remain united despite the clear divide among the citys party members as to who would lead the committee for the next four years.  "When we walk out of this room today we need to make sure we walk out of here united," Buncich said.


Three in Race to Head Gary Dems; Mayor Missed Deadline
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[5 Sep 2014]

GARY One of three long-time city Democratic precinct officials is expected to be elected Saturday to lead the organization for the next four years.

The candidates are Willie Stewart, a former Lake County deputy police chief, Willie Moore, a former president of United Steelworkers of America Local 1014, and David Fossett, a member of the citys Economic Development Commission.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson planned to run, but missed the 10 a.m. Wednesday filing deadline.  Freeman-Wilson said Thursday she thought the deadline was noon as it is for elected office filings.

"I was very disappointed. Its just one of those things," she said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   What does missing this deadline say about the Mayor having the ability to get her act together?


Tonnage up 25% at Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[5 Sep 2014]

PORTAGE | Shipments are up 25% at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor through the end of August.

Major surges in steel and grain account for the increase. The port has handled more than twice as much of both those commodities so far this year.

Overall iron and steel shipments were up 77%, while steel slabs were up 317% over 2013.

"We've seen significant increases in steel shipments from Europe for the automotive and appliance industries," Port Director Rick Heimann said.  "This has included coils, rods, plate, slabs and other semi-finished products for steel processors and distributors in the Midwest from ports throughout the world, including Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, and Brazil."

Grain exports also are up as local farmers prepare for a large harvest, Heimann said..
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Sadly, these increased steel shipments are of foreign steel being imported, not domestic steel being exported.  That equates to Region jobs lost.


Great Lakes Steel Production Rises by 3,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[3 Sep 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region rose to 694,000T, though the overall domestic industry slumped slightly last week.

Local production rose by 3,000T, or 0.4%.  Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, fell to 659,000T, down from 676, 000T a week earlier.

Overall U.S. output dropped by 0.9% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.91 million tons, down from 1.93 million tons a week earlier.  Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 79.5% last week, down from 80.3% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 77.6% a year earlier.

U.S. mills have produced 64.1 million tons of steel so far this year, or about 0.7% more than at the same point in 2013.

Steel imports rose 6% in July, capturing 29% of the market share, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.  The United States imported 3.8 million net tons in July, a 6.1% increase over June.  Finished steel imports captured 26% of the market share in August, and have cornered 27% of the market share so far this year.  Imports of reinforcing bars rose 240% in August, while wire rod imports shot up 36%.


City Requires Gary Businesses to Have Outdoor Surveillance Cameras
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Rob Earnshaw
[2 Sep 2014]

GARY | Businesses in the city operating between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. will be required to have three high-resolution surveillance cameras recording public access areas following passage Tuesday of an ordinance by the City Council.

All businesses will be required to comply with the ordinance, including daycare facilities if they operate between the designated hours.  Businesses have a three-month grace period until the ordinance is enforced.  Failure to comply after that could result in fines up to $2,500 and revocation of its business license.

Gary Police Cmdr. Kerry Rice said Police Department reports show that in 2013 more than 60% of reported crimes and 80% of shootings at gas stations and convenience stores in Gary occurred between the late evening to early morning hours.  Rice recalled a period last year when three shootings happened in one week at gas stations along 15th Av.  "None of those businesses had any security cameras outside of the business," Rice said.  Rice said there was a fatal shooting in the Miller neighborhood at a gas station that did have outdoor security cameras that recorded the crime resulting in an arrest.

According to the ordinance the cameras must produce reproducible digital color images from a digital video recorder that is approved by the Police Department.  Businesses must also post a conspicuous sign stating that the property is under camera surveillance.  Each camera must display a date and time stamp on each image and produce retrievable images suitable for permanent police records.  The camera system must also be able to store and retrieve 30 days of recorded material.


In Gary, IN., Fall of Eyesore May Be Rise of New Era
Compiled Fom a USA Today Report by Aamer Madhani
[29 Aug 2014]

GARY, Ind. It might be telling of the complexity of this city's problems that the recent start of the demolition of Gary's tallest and arguably most decrepit building is being heralded by local leaders as one of the most significant signs of progress this community has seen in years.

But in this tough-luck city, tearing down the old Sheraton Hotel, an eyesore that had become a powerful symbol of this once great steel town's fall, is nothing short of a monumental achievement.

"It really symbolizes the best of times and worst of times for this city," says Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who made demolishing the 14-floor structure a central part of her 2011 campaign to head this city.  "When Gary was doing well, this was a central point.  It was also a place that struggled as the city struggled."

Gary has been down so long the bottom might look like up.  It wasn't always that way.  This is a city that grew up around U.S. Steel and gave the world Michael Jackson.  It's a place that proudly touted itself as the "City of the Century."  And it was the first big U.S. city to elect a black mayor, Richard Hatcher, in the late 1960s.

Since then, there have been a lot of dark days in Gary, and recent weeks have been among the hardest.


Freeman-Wilson last month named a new police chief, days after the old chief stepped down as the city reckoned with what the mayor called "some of the most heinous murders seen in decades," a striking assessment for a city pinned with the ugly moniker of Murder Capital of the U.S. in the 1990s.

Her heightened concern about the city's violence was punctuated by last month's killing of veteran Gary police officer Jeffrey Westerfield an incident that was followed by the gruesome stabbing murder of an 80-year-old woman and her 88-year-old husband and the slaying of a 41-year-old mechanic found dead in an auto repair shop.

Violent crime, while still a major irritant for this city, is actually down.  Gary has recorded 26 homicides thus far this year, putting it on pace for fewer murders than last year's 54.

"The city of Gary isn't bad, and things can be different," says Crystal Fields, 43, a city resident who has spent most of her life here.  "This used to be a place when I was growing up that if you were doing something wrong and your neighbor saw it they'd whup your (butt) and then call your mom and dad who would whup you again once you got home.  That's what we got to get back to."


The city's malaise parallels what other one-time industrial powerhouses such as Cleveland, Detroit and Newark have faced in recent decades as residents flee the cities and job opportunities dry up.

Gary has seen U.S. Steel the city's biggest employer shrink from a 25,000-person workforce in the 1960s to fewer than 5,000 workers today.  The city's population stood at about 79,000 in 2012, down from 178,000 in 1960.

The dwindling population is starkly reflected in the 10,000 vacant homes spread over this sprawling city that's geographically the size of San Francisco but has less than 10% of the population.  Earlier this summer, the city's school board voted to close six of the city's 17 schools, an unavoidable byproduct of the migration.

Despite the long list of issues facing Gary, Freeman-Wilson and others in her cabinet insist the city's fortunes can and will change.  "We are the majority," Freeman-Wilson told residents at a recent community gathering in the city.  "There are more good people in the city of Garythan not.  We're going to take back our city."

The push by Freeman-Wilson to revitalize this city has been fitful.  But she and her staff point to some successes.

One of her primary goals has been to improve this city's appearance and image.  Soon after coming to office, she forged a relationship with the University of Chicago, with some help from former Chicago mayor and current Uof C distinguished fellow Richard Daley.  As a result of that friendship with Daley, University of Chicago students are cataloguing Gary's blight no small task in a city of thousands of vacant homes and empty lots overrun with shoulder-high weeds and trash.

Freeman-Wilson also has won over residents by making a weekly ritual of cleaning up trash and mowing lawns at abandoned lots around town.

A Harvard-educated attorney, Freeman-Wilson made two unsuccessful runs for the city's highest office before finally winning in 2011.  She has served as a municipal judge and as the Hoosier state's attorney general.  But she insists she doesn't have any greater political ambition than leading her hometown.  "This is the job I plan to retire from," she says.

She met recently with residents to discuss initial plans for redevelopment and demolition of abandoned properties in several neighborhoods that will, in part, be funded through a White House program to assist distressed cities.

Her most notable accomplishment to date may be following through on her campaign promise on demolishing the old Sheraton an issue that had become a focal point of every mayoral campaign in this city over the last four decades.

It opened as a Holiday Inn in 1968, early in Hatcher's term and as white flight from the city began.  The hotel, which neighbors City Hall, struggled financially from the outset and closed in 1972.  It reopened in 1978 as a Sheraton franchise but didn't have better luck turning a profit.  Operations were scaled back over the years.  Despite subsidies from the city to help keep the doors open, the hotel closed for good in 1984.  The restaurant and lounge in the hotel complex closed the following year.


Freeman-Wilson and her aides acknowledge that Gary can't return to the glory days as an industrial giant.  But they are convinced the city can rebound by leveraging some of its existing assets, including the Gary/Chicago International Airport and the city's location on Lake Michigan.

"The first 100 years of this city was about the rise and fall of the steel mill," says Richard Leverett, the mayor's chief of staff.  "We're pulling people in and saying let's re-imagine these neighborhoods.  Let's look at our park assets, let's look at our lakefront assets.  This city was built for 200,000 and now has far less.  What does that mean for how our city should look in the future?"

Freeman-Wilson and her aides also have tried to sell the city as a place where entrepreneurs can get a start at rock-bottom prices.

One business owner drawn by the affordability of Gary is Drew Fox, a craft beer maker who opened 18th Street Brewery here late last year.  Fox, who has 14 employees, now is installing a canning operation, and his tap room's chef soon will open a bakery that will operate out of the brewery's space.

Fox, 42, says Gary has a long way to go in shedding its stigma.  But he's convinced the city can be a great incubator for young entrepreneurs who have good ideas but not necessarily a lot of cash.  At the same time, the city badly needs more people to take the plunge if it's going to rebound.

"This city will survive even if it's on one knee right now," Fox says.  "But it's going to take people like myself and others to help this city rise.  You're going to take your licks, but you have to be able to sustain and look forward to those better days.  It's going to take some strong will and strong-minded people to forge ahead."


Gary Renovates Street of Dreams Houses
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Christin Nance Lazerus
[28 Aug 2014]

GARY The Michael Jackson Tribute Festival of the Arts will put the focus on his hometown starting Thursday, but the street he grew up on is a hive of activity as it gets a facelift.

Gov. Mike Pence visited the 2300 and 2400 blocks of Jackson Street on Wednesday afternoon to highlight the "Jackson Street of Dreams" project, and he met with Jackson matriarch Katherine Jackson during his visit.

Volunteers from the Fuller Center for Housing, NIPSCO, Centier Bank, the city of Gary, the Indiana Department of Correction and elsewhere rebuilt one house and rehabbed two others.  "This is a great project to restore what is in my mind one of the most famous streets in America," Pence said.  "We talked about (Katherine Jacksons) memories of living here for about 20 years, and she said it was a nice neighborhood."

More than $100,000 in private funding and material donations has helped make the project possible, including about $53,000 from the state correction department.  Several inmates from Westville Correctional Facility worked on the houses, and many donated the stipends they received.  Pence and Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson were struck by their generosity.  On Wednesday, the mayor was mowing grass and pulling weeds to help with the project.

The Fuller Center will present keys to the first new homeowner on Thursday afternoon.  Two other homeowners also have been chosen.  Each has been putting in work on their new houses.  "Its not a giveaway," Fuller Center president David Snell said.  "The families help rehab the properties, and they receive long-term, low-interest loans, which in a lot of cases is less than renting.  Its an enlightened way to give."

He said the three houses are just the start of a larger project envisioned for the area and Gary at large.  "The goal is to get these two blocks shaped up, and they will become a beacon of hope to similar efforts in other parts of the city," Snell said.


Gary School Food Service Workers Spared Layoffs ... For Now
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[28 Aug 2014]

GARY A divided school board rejected an administrative recommendation to lay off 15 food service workers, who apparently will remain on the districts cash-strapped payroll without job assignments.

Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt recommended laying off the workers Tuesday in the wake of the closing of four schools in June.  Classes began in the district Aug. 20.  Dissenting board members argued the layoffs came too late and its still unclear whether the workers are needed in the cafeterias of the remaining schools.

Human Resources Director Willie Cook said the layoffs would save the district about $175,000.  He said the layoffs were necessary because of declining enrollment, school closings and a budget deficit.  If the layoffs were approved, the district would have 55 remaining food service workers in 12 schools, he said.

Board member LaBrenda King-Smith called the layoff notices a sign of "blatant disrespect."  She said they should have voted on the layoffs months ago.  "Theres no guarantee these individuals will be able to receive unemployment compensation that they paid into," King-Smith said.  "My heart goes out to these workers."

Shea Marshall, who represents Service Employees International Union Local 73, said there may not be a need for the layoffs.  "I understand there are other jobs to be filled in the district ...  I ask you please not to pass this RIF (reduction in force) until we are able to assess more."

Dissenting board members Marion Williams and Nellie Moore said every student in the district is eligible for a free lunch.  "There are potentially more students participating in the program, so you need more people to service them," Williams said.

School officials and other board members worried about paying idle workers.  Board member Doretha Rouse said the workers on layoff could be recalled, if needed.  "We eliminated teachers and paraprofessionals.  We cant get caught in our biases, our preferences.  Were trying to keep this school system going, keep it afloat.  Nobody wants to eliminate anyone," she said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Now, there is a creative solution to the deficit problem.  Pay employees you do not need to do nothing!  Evidently economics is not a course of study in the Gary schools?


Gary Crime Briefs
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[26 Aug 2014]
  • A 25-year-old man was shot in the hip Monday after two people approached him and a friend and asked for change, Gary police said.  The shooting occurred about 1:40 p.m. while the 25-year-old and his friend were at a gas station in the 2700 block of W Fifth Av, police said.
  •  A 49-year-old man told Gary police about 3 a.m. that he stopped at a gas station at 2500 Broadway because an unknown man was following him.  The men exchanged words and got into a fight, police said.  The 49-year-old got back in his car and realized he'd been cut.
  •  Two men struck a 38-year-old in the face with a gun and robbed cash from him Friday in the 1800 block of Connecticut St, police said.
  •  A security guard at a bar in Gary's Miller area fired shots at a patron who had been asked to leave Monday after the two got into a scuffle over the guard's firearm, police said.
  •  A man slammed a 24-year-old woman to the ground Saturday and robbed her cellphone and purse, police said.  She was walking down an alley in the 300 block of McKinley St about 3 p.m. when the robbery occurred, police said.
  • Three people with guns approached a 17-year-old as he walked in the 2400 block of Pennsylvania St and told him to empty his pockets, Gary police said.

Great Lakes Steel Production Rises by 12,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[26 Aug 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region rose to 691,000T as the domestic industry saw a boost in production last week.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, rose to 676,000 tons, up from 675,000T a week earlier.  Overall U.S. output rose by 0.6% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Local production rose by 12,000 tons, or nearly 1.8%.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.93 million tons, up from 1.92 million tons a week earlier.  Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 80.3% last week, up from 79.8% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 77.6% a year earlier.  U.S. mills have produced 62.2 million tons of steel so far this year, or about 0.6% more than at the same point in 2013.

Globally, world steel production was 137 million tons in July, an increase of 1.7% over last year, according to the World Steel Association.  Overall, global capacity utilization stood at 75.4% last month, a 2.9% decrease from June and a 1.2 drop from July 2013.


Railroad Ready to Reroute Around Runway Extension
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Christin Nance Lazerus
                    and a nwiTimes Report by Keith Benman
[26 Aug 2014]

GARY Relocating railroad tracks around the Gary/Chicago International Airports proposed runway extension footprint could start as early as late October, officials said Monday.

Gary airport officials appear confident they may finally be close to solving the railroad riddle that has bedeviled their $174.1 million runway expansion project for years.  Although previous airport boards claimed to have arrived at the same junction, the airport authority Monday presented evidence Canadian National Railway's tracks could be out of the way as early as November and the runway expansion allowed to proceed.

"Obviously this is great news to hear," said airport authority member Denise Dillard.  "When we came on this board we were like deer in the headlights on all these railroad issues."

Canadian National trains run on an embankment that is just 130 feet from the end of the airport's main runway, which is being expanded to 8,900 feet.  In June 2013, a new track route was completed for the railroad that loops around the end of the 8,900-foot runway's footprint.  But those new tracks, paid for with $28.7 million in airport money, have sat unused ever since.  Canadian National would not move its trains until federal approvals and other agreements could be struck to permanently remove an unused crossing with the Fort Wayne rail line.  Lawyer Allison Bergman told the airport authority Monday that the federal Surface Transportation Board has now approved two key railroad requests which will ultimately result in the abandonment of a portion of the Fort Wayne line.

Attorney Allison Bergman told the Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority board that as long as things are resolved to Canadian Nationals satisfaction at an Oct. 17 meeting, CN is prepared to start work on a connector segment to the CSX Gary branch line within days.  "We have a lot of work still to do, but the matters we have to resolve are few," said Bergman, a transportation attorney with Hardwick Law Firm.

CSX is abandoning its Fort Wayne branch line and and relocating to the Gary branch line to avoid crossing Canadian National tracks.  The railroad track relocation is necessary to proceed with the extension of the airports runway extension, which is expected to cost more than $166 million.  Its currently blocked by CSX tracks which sit atop a berm.

Bergman said the federal Surface Transportation Board approved a regulatory document Aug. 15, which resolves common carrier rights issues on the Fort Wayne branch line.  The board agreed to place previously approved funds to construct the connector to the Gary branch line in escrow to resolve title issues on the land.  "Your obligation is complete when the funds are put in there," Bergman said.  "Any cost overruns will come back to [the board] for approval, or if the project is under budget, you get a refund."

Interim airport director B.R. Lane called the prospect of starting the project soon "significant."  Board attorney Lee Lane said both the airport and the railroads are motivated to resolve the issues.  "They want this done as much as we do," Lane said.


Great Lakes Plant Services Invests $450,000 in New Location
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[25 Aug 2014]

GARY | Planned redevelopment around the Gary/Chicago International Airport sparked a lot of interested in the 8,000-square-foot building industrial cleaning company Great Lakes Plant Services had been leasing on Airport Road.

The landlord offered to sell the property to the 10-year-old company but wanted $1.7 million, so Great Lakes Plant Services started shopping around.

The company, which sends big single-axle vacuum trucks with 40,000-psi water blasters to clean up hazardous materials and wash out oil tanks, is taking over the former Columbia Pipe building at 1030 E 10th Pl in Gary.  Great Lakes Plant Services now has 32,800 square feet of space in a building that was constructed in 1957 but has sat empty since Columbia moved to Hammond in 2009.

"The owners were from Chicago and Las Vegas, and they never looked at it," said Great Lakes President Jim McGlothen.  "It has overgrown weeds outside that become trees. We started with weedwackers and ended up using chainsaws."

Great Lakes Plant Services has invested $450,000 in extensive renovations, including replacing copper wiring that metal scrappers stole.  The business is now paying less per month on a mortgage than it had on rent after financing the relocation with the U.S. Small Business Administration 504 loan program through 1st Source Bank and the Indiana Statewide Certified Development Corp.  The government-backed loans allow small business owners to get long-term fixed-rate financing similar to what big companies can get from commercial lenders.

"The project met a need for Great Lakes to expand and own its own space," Erik Back of 1st Source Bank said.  "The Indiana Statewide CDC is great to work with, and the loan helps solidify highly skilled jobs in the region."

The company employs about __ workers to keep industrial buildings clean and compliant with environmental regulations.  They clean up both hazardous and non-hazardous waste, such as potassium cyanide or the gasoline stored in Northwest Indiana tank farms.  Business has been steady, and improving of late as more people return to work and factories pick up production, McGlothen said. But the plan is to eventually grow into all the new space.

"We used the finds from the SBA 504 loan to purchase our new facility and to upgrade it for our use," he said. "We have always leased before, but an opportunity arose that allowed us to purchase the facility at a very low price and it is quite large."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Silly me!  Here I thought the idea was to bet business/industry to move into the airport development area, not out of it? 


Gary Methodist Tapped to Take On Most Critical Patients
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Vanessa Renderman
[22 Aug 2014]

GARY | The sickest, most injured patients in Northwest Indiana no longer will be transported out of state or the area for immediate care.

Officials said Indiana's EMS Commission this week approved a recommendation by State Health Commissioner Dr. William VanNess to grant an "in process" designation allowing Methodist Hospital Northlake campus in Gary to serve as a Level III trauma center.  The designation means the hospital can offer heightened care while it completes the process for full Level III designation.  No other Northwest Indiana hospital holds a trauma designation.

A Level III designation is the lowest tier of care for trauma centers.  "Generally, they have greater staffing requirements and greater equipment requirements than a typical hospital ED (emergency department)," said Art Logsdon, assistant commissioner for the state health and human services commission.  The Level III designation, for example, requires a surgeon to be available bedside within 30 minutes of a patient's arrival, he said.

"It really is very big news for the region," Logsdon said.  "The fact that Northlake is now a Level III trauma center means that, under Indiana law, they are now fully capable of accepting trauma patients."  The Gary hospital has long received the most seriously injured patients in the area, he said.

Ten Indiana hospitals are in the process of becoming trauma centers.  They have two years after being labeled "in process" to become fully fledged and verified by the American Council of Surgeons, the organization authorized to make that determination, Logsdon said.


Roosevelt Alums Celebrate Landmark Status
Compiled From a Gary Crusader Report by Louise Scott
[18 Aug 2014]

Annie May, director of the National Roosevelt Alumni Association (NRAA), Inc. and its members put in a lot of work to see their alma mater become recognized as a national landmark.

It has paid off.  The celebration to recognize Theodore Roosevelt High School as a national landmark is set for Sunday, August 17 between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Genesis Convention Center.

May, a graduate of Roosevelts class of 1964, along with other alumni of other classes wanted to do something for the school.  They initially submitted the criteria and other paperwork for the school to be designated by the Indiana Landmark Association.  While they did not have the funding needed to hire a consultant, they were able to find a donor willing to pay for an architect to see if the school was viable to become a landmark.

In October of 2012 they were notified by the state that Roosevelt had attained that status.  Their next stop was Washington, D.C. to have their school become a national landmark.  May said on December 19, 2012 the Gary School Board received a letter from the federal government declaring Roosevelt a national landmark.

The alumni association wants the current students to know they are holding this celebration to encourage them to have pride in Roosevelt.  May said the federal government will be donating a bronze plaque in honor of the designation.  About 150 alumni members will be purchasing a plaque to be placed on the property as well honoring its landmark honor.

Dr. Bernard C. Watson, a Roosevelt class of 1946 member and member of the alumni association, said he thinks it is terrific that Roosevelt is being honored considering the number of influential alumni.  He said, "It should be a historical institution considering the contribution its graduates have made to the city and this country."

Among the many number of graduates that came from Roosevelt, Dr. Watson recognized that two presidents of the National Medical Association are Roosevelt graduates, three Tuskegee Airmen graduated from Roosevelt, the regional head of the Peace Corps is a graduate and legendary trumpeter Arthur Hoyle, who played with greats such as Lena Horne, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra, just to name a few.  He said, "And dont forget that the Mayor of Gary is a graduate also."

Dr. Watson said, "I love that school.  I couldnt wait to go there.  It prepared me for everything I did."

Among the speakers at the celebration will be Tiffany Tolbert, director of the Northwest Indiana Preservation, Pauline Tatum, and a representative of the Indiana Landmark Association.  Tickets to the event are $25. For more information call (219) 938-6611.


Former Gary Cop Claims He Was Entrapped
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz
[21 Aug 2014]

A former Gary police officer who admitted he illegally sold pot and a gun now claims he is innocent and a victim of entrapment.

David Finley Jr., serving a 30-month prison sentence, says in a motion filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond that he now realizes that "He has been entrapped by men, who like him, are sworn officers of the law."  The motion does not provide any details of how he was entrapped, but does add that Finley no longer thinks he committed a crime.

The filing is one of several motions that Finley filed.  Another motion asks to have his sentenced reduced because he is his familys main provider.  He says that his wife and their children have had lost their house and now live with another family where the children witness domestic violence.

Police began investigating Finley, who had worked for the Gary Police Department since 2009, two years ago when an informant told them Finley had sold cocaine.  He was later arrested and charged with buying a gun for a felon and selling marijuana and cocaine.  He resigned from the department soon after.  The cocaine charges were eventually dropped after law enforcement discovered it was fake cocaine, and he later pleaded guilty to lying when buying a gun and selling marijuana.

Finley received a longer sentence than he could have for pleading guilty after federal attorneys discovered that he had faked at least two letters of support sent to U.S. District Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen. The judge took away his credit for cooperating and increased his sentence for obstructing justice, leading to the 30-month sentence.

Finley, who is being held at the Federal Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, is scheduled to be released in November 2015.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   And pray tell, just what has brought about this sudden realization?


Detroit Firm Buys Former Gary Dealership
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[21 Aug 2014]

GARY A Detroit company that sells tarps for flatbed trucks is buying the former Tyson Ford dealership on Grant S, south of I80-94.

The Redevelopment Commission approved the sale to Verduyn Tarps on Wednesday for $113,000.

Verduyn was the highest of two bidders for the 7.5-acre property at 3333 Grant St., acquired by the commission last year from Ford for $10.  The commission initially attempted to lease the property, but decided to sell it because of little interest from potential renters, said Joseph Van Dyk, director of the Redevelopment Department.

Van Dyk said Verduyn liked the location thats near truck stops and the interstate.  He said the company had been scouting for a site across the Chicagoland area.

Lloyd Verduyn, who owns the company, said besides tarps, it also sells tarping systems and related equipment needed for flatbed trucking.  "Gary has the steel mills up along the lake so that attracts a lot of flatbeds," Verduyn said.

Verduyn said he hopes to close soon on the property because it needs extensive renovations.  He plans to hire about five to six local workers initially, but could hire about 15 within a year.

Van Dyk said the money from the sale would go into the citys general fund.  No date has been set yet for the closing.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   What this sale does accomplish is to get the premises occupied and the property back on to the tax rolls.  That is a good thing.


Brazen Dump Led to Discovery of Decomposed Body
#26 and Counting
Northwest Indiana Gazette
Posted by Ken Davidson
[21 Aug 2014]

The Gazette has received information that the body found at 6700 W 15th Av was dumped there - literally.  According to sources, a dump truck drove along W 15th Av between midnight and 3 a.m. on August 21, 2014.  The road is the usual trek for dump trucks travelling to the J-Pit landfill.

The truck is believed to have travelled eastbound on 15th until it passed all of the businesses in the area.  The truck came to a stop in an area that was wooded on both sides of the road.  Just to the south is the J-Pit landfill.  At that time and place, the dump truck simply emptied its payload in the middle of W. 15th Av.  Among the contents of the truck, a body that was so badly decomposed that Coroner Investigators could not immediately determine the race or age of the victim.

Investigators were called to the scene at 4:55 a.m. on August 21, 2014.  Upon arrival, the body of a male wearing size 30 x 30 Levi jeans, a silver colored "Live to Ride" belt buckle and tan colored Dexter brand work boots was discovered.  The cause of death was not discernable and the manner of death is pending investigation.

Subsequently it has been determined by the coroner that the cause of death is blunt force trauma.


Officials Investigating Death in Gary
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[21 Aug 2014]

GARY | Officials are investigating the death of man who died this morning in the 6700 block of West 15th Av.

The unidentified man was pronounced dead at 6:04 a.m., according to a news release from the Lake County coroner's office.  Officials have not determined a cause or manner of death.

The Gary Police Department said they weren't releasing information about the death because the cause of death is pending.

The man was wearing Levi jeans, tan work boots and a silver belt buckle with the words, "Live to Ride," according to the release.

The Lake County Sheriff's Department Crime Scene Investigations unit was also investigating the death.


Other News
[21 Aug 2014]

  • Man fled with purse after dragging woman on ground
  • 19-year-old had no permit for gun wrapped in sweatshirt
  • Woman threw knife at man during argument in Gary

Gary Int'l. Gets New Manager
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Keith Benman
[20 Aug 2014]

Former Detroit City Airport director Delbert Brown has been selected as airport manager for Gary/Chicago International Airport pending approval by the airport authority next week.

Brown was hired by AvPorts Aug. 11 and is already at work at the Gary airport on an interim basis, according to Emily Tapia-Lopez, a spokeswoman for the airport.

"Delbert has extensive experience in the aviation industry and has a proven track record in urban planning, business administration and marketing, grant funding, and airport management," Tapia-Lopez wrote in an e-mail response to an inquiry by The Times.

Brown replaces Duncan Henderson, who was hired by AvPorts as interim Gary airport manager in March.  Brown did not respond to a request for an interview on Wednesday.

Brown was director of Detroit City Airport from 2002 to 2010.  That airport is now known as Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport.  Previous to that, he also worked in management roles at Detroit Metro Airport and as airport administrator for the City of Detroit.

Near the end of Brown's service at Detroit City Airport he was involved in Mayor Dave Bing's effort to privatize the facility.  The Gary airport in January inked a 40-year public-private partnership deal with AvPorts and parent company Aviation Facilities Company Inc.

Brown resigned from his job at Detroit City Airport in September 2010, after an audit showed financial discrepancies and questionable contracts at the airport, according to a report from CBS 62 WWJ-TV in Detroit.  Mayor Bing appointed Terrence King, a group executive at the Bing Group, to run the airport, according to Crain's Detroit Business.

At Gary/Chicago International Airport, Brown will be responsible for the management of staff and daily operations, according to Tapia-Lopez.

Former mayoral assistant B.R. Lane remains the interim director of the Gary airport at a salary of $120,000.  When hired as interim director in September 2013, she was responsible for airport operations.  In January, that job became AvPorts responsibility and Lane now serves as go-between for the company and the airport authority.  She also oversees the airport expansion project.

The airport authority recently approved the hiring of an administrative assistant for Lane at a salary of $52,500.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   With all due repect, what the H is this?  The new guy comes from notoriously corrupt Dee Troit City where he resigned under a cloud of suspicion!  Meanwhile the mayor's hack stays on the job collecting her 6-figure salary as a second airport manager and the negotiations with the rr linger on.


Man, 22, Killed in Gary Shooting
#25 and Counting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
                     and a nwiTimes Report by Sarah Reese
[20 Aug 2014]

GARY--A Gary man was shot and killed Tuesday night in his car, becoming the second homicide victim in two days.

Antonio Jackson, 22, of the 400 block of Lincoln St, was shot about 7:45 p.m. while stopped at the intersection of 49th Av and Georgia St.  Jackson suffered multiple gunshot wounds.  His car rolled about a block north and crashed into a tree on the east side of Georgia just north of East 48th Pl.

Police found the man after responding about 7:30 p.m. to a call of shots fired, Gary police Detective Daryl Gordon said.  Police cordoned off an entire block as they gathered evidence from the scene.  Jackson was alone in the car.  He was pronounced dead at 7:45 p.m., a news release from the Lake County coroner states.

Police did not have any suspects late Tuesday.  Jackson was killed about 1 1/2 miles from the scene where Gerald Mathews, 37, was shot dead late Monday night.


Great Lakes Steel Production Ticks Up by 4,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[19 Aug 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region inched up by 4,000T as the industry saw a spike in production last week, or nearly 0.6%.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, rose to 675,000T, up from 660,000T a week earlier.  Overall U.S. output rose by 1.2% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.92 million tons, up from 1.89 million tons a week earlier.  Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 79.8% last week, up from 78.8% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 77.6% a year earlier.  U.S. mills have produced 60.2 million tons of steel so far this year, or about 0.5% more than at the same point in 2013.

Steel shipments fell 1.3% in June as compared to May but up 6.2% as compared to June 2013.  Mills shipped 8.2 million tons in June.  Hot-dipped galvanized sheets and strip were up 0.1% in June over May.  Hot-rolled sheet was down 2% and cold-rolled sheet was down 4%.


Man Recently Released From Community Corrections Shot and Killed in Gary
#24 and Counting
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report

GARY | A 37-year-old man released from Lake County Community Corrections last month after serving time for dealing cocaine was shot and killed in Gary late Monday night.

Gerald Mathews -- who listed his address as Lake County Community Corrections in the 2900 block of W. 93rd Av in Crown Point -- was pronounced dead at The Methodist Hospitals' Northlake campus in Gary at 11:42 p.m., Lake County Coroner's office representatives said.  The cause of death was listed as a gunshot wound suffered in a homicide in the 1400 block of E. 36th Av in Gary.

Kellie Bittorf, executive director of Lake County Community Corrections, said Mathews was released from the custody of the work-release program there on July 9.  Bittorf said Mathews apparently did not change his address after he left the program's custody.

Gary Police Cpl. Gabrielle King said officers responded at 10:52 p.m. to a report of a man down in the 1400 block of W. 36th Av.  When officers arrived, they found Mathews lying in a yard there with a gunshot wound.  Mathews was transported to the emergency room at The Methodist Hospitals' Northlake campus, where he was later pronounced dead.

Mathews, also known as Christopher Stokes, entered a guilty plea in May 2009 in a Lake County court after being stopped by Lake County Drug Task Force officers leaving the scene of a drug raid.  Officers found him to be in possession of 20 small bags of cocaine.  Mathews listed a Gary address at the time of his arrest.


Other News
[19 Aug 2014]

  • 3 arrested after burglary at abandoned school, Gary police say
  • Man shot in leg while riding motorcycle, Gary police say
  • Two stabbed after argument in Gary, police say


Partners in Gary Airport Plan Remain Optimistic
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Christin Nance Lazerus
[18 Aug 2014]

Six months into the Gary/Chicago International Airports public-private partnership both government interests and operator AvPORTS remain positive about the arrangement and the airports future prospects.  However, one roadblock stubbornly remains railroad tracks atop a berm that need to be relocated before resuming the runway expansion project that is expected to cost in excess of $166 million.

Last week, airport representatives told the Regional Development Authority that negotiations with CSX and Canadian National railroads are ongoing, but the runway work wont be complete until 2015.  If the project is to be completed by the August 2015 deadline required by the Federal Aviation Administration, CSX trains would have to be relocated to the Gary branch line by this fall, so the old tracks and berm can be removed.

Officials from the Gary Airport Authority, AvPORTS and other regional partners are confident that the project will be completed soon, so they can focus on planning Garys future as a possible reliever airport for corporate aviation and other opportunities.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Is it me or is confindence and optimisim the only thing the airport authority can offer with regard to the CSX/Canadian Nat negotiations?  How long have they been ongoing?  How much longer shall they continue?  In the words of NASCAR, "get er done!"  Delay = mucho dollars in increased costs and ultimately loss of funding.


Mayor Discusses Police, Fire Equipment Needs
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Rob Earnshaw
[15 Aug 2014]

GARY | After announcing a new police chief and new approach to crime last month, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson on Friday addressed police and fire department equipment needs.

The announcement came on the eve of a public safety march in Gary sponsored in part by WJOB AM 1230's "Afternoon Fix" radio show.  The march steps off at 10 a.m. Saturday from the old police station lot at 13th Av and Broadway and leads to City Hall.  The march intends to bring awareness to the "outdated, broken down and even lack of fire and police equipment" in Gary.  The march follows a Times article in June addressing Fire Department equipment shortages.

The mayor did not want to comment on the march, but said one of the things the city is trying to do better and more of is keeping the public informed when announcements and policy decisions are made.

A news release issued by the mayor Friday said the Police Department has ordered four Dodge Chargers to be delivered within the next few weeks.  The city also will enter into a buy-lease program this fall that will allow the department to receive at least 25 more patrol vehicles.  Fourteen additional police officers will join the force later this after going through final screening, according to the release.

The mayor also said the Fire Department is working on a request to submit to the City Council that will include remounting two ambulances this year and purchasing three new fire engines next year.  Freeman-Wilson said currently there are six fire engines in service and five out for repairs.  Two firetrucks are in service and three are being repaired.

The mayor said since 2012 the city has invested nearly $2.8 million in public safety equipment "even in the face of pressing needs for snow plows and other general services equipment and the challenges of addressing outstanding debts to outside entities."  Fire Department purchases from 2012 to present include $2.3 million in fire apparatus including fire engines and vehicles (leased/purchased), $8,341 for radios, $8,114 for a jet ski and $8,800 for two watercraft.  Police Department purchases since 2012 include thermal cameras ($11,304), in-car video system ($76,512), camera equipment ($10,996), bulletproof vests ($33,264) and four new police cars ($130,000).
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Does the Fire Department really need a jet ski and 2 watercraft?


Gary Schools High Risk Status Brings Full-time State Monitor
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[14 Aug 2014]

GARY An Indiana Department of Instruction staffer is now embedded full-time in the Gary Community School Corp. as a result of the districts "high risk" designation.

Daniel Bundridge, a former regional outreach coordinator for the IDOEs Outreach Division of School Improvement, introduced himself to the school board Tuesday.  Bundridge said hes now state director of school improvement for the state.  He said hes been assigned to Gary as the DOEs chief liaison to oversee federally funded programs and increase accountability.

Earlier this year, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz designated Gary as a "high risk" district because of nagging financial issues and poor academic scores.  As a result, the state is now managing all of the districts federal funding and is leading a teacher training program aimed at improving classroom performance.

Pruitt and Ritz held a press conference in March and Pruitt insisted the designation did not amount to a state takeover.  Ritz said shes focused on helping the district to turn itself around.

Of Gary's 16 public schools, 13 were graded D or F by the state.  The district posted the lowest ISTEP Plus scores in the state in results released last week.  It just closed five schools in an effort to escape a $27.3 budget deficit.  Some vendors and utility bills have gone unpaid, but school officials said Tuesday the closings and job cuts will keep the district afloat.

A release Wednesday from Ritzs office said Bundridges full-time status "will improve collaboration between the Department and Gary, while also focusing on the turnaround principles of effective leadership, school climate and culture, and effective instruction."

Two years ago, the state placed another full-time staff member in the district to assist it in reaching federal compliance levels in special education.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   And, how did the first state employee work out?  How many state public instruction personnel does it take to run the Gary schools?


Gary to Double Number of Razed Houses
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[14 Aug 2014]

GARY Using $6.6 million in federal grant money, the city may be able to demolish twice the number of abandoned houses than an earlier estimate, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said Wednesday at a Strong Cities, Strong Communities open house at the Genesis Center.

In May, city officials figured they could knock down 379 houses with the Hardest Hit Fund grant from the U.S. Treasury Department.  After the Redevelopment Commission received the first round of bids for 76 city-owned homes last week, Freeman-Wilson said the bids were low enough to stretch the grant money.  Now, nearly 800 houses could be demolished over the next 18 months, city officials said.  Gary has an estimated 10,000 vacant houses suitable for demolition.

The city is focusing its North Side Redevelopment project in the Aetna, Miller, Glen Ryan, Emerson and Horace Mann neighborhoods.  Once the homes are torn down, Gary could make the land available for private purchase or to provide green space for community gardens.

Like struggling Detroit, Freeman-Wilson said shes considering downsizing the size of Gary, now about 52 square miles, so city services can be better managed.  "There are some areas with no homes so the sewers and lights are not being used," she said.  "It would be easy to close those areas off.  We have 80,000 to 90,000 citizens and dont need 50 square miles."


Gary Schools Painfully Dig Out of Budget Hole
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[13 Aug 2014]

GARY The school districts financial challenges dominated Tuesdays school board meeting as Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt detailed the sobering revenue decline to the board.

Since 2009, the district has lost roughly $100 million a drop that Pruitt attributed to a new state funding formula, property tax caps that limit how much can be raised and a low property tax collection rate, now at just 42%.  The result is a $27.3 million budget deficit.

The decreased revenue has forced the school district to trim staff.  In 2011-12, Pruitt said there were some 1,800 employees and more than 9,000 students in 17 schools.  Today, there are about 1,000 employees in 12 schools and an enrollment of about 8,000.

Pruitt said the reductions put Gary in line with other school districts similar in size.  The districts payroll has dropped from $3.9 million per pay period in 2009 to $1.9 million now.

In June, the school board voted to close five schools.  Last month, it laid off 39 teachers and 55 paraprofessionals who assist teachers in the classroom.

"I think the board should be commended for those hard decisions," Pruitt said, adding that the district also has taken steps to lower its health insurance costs, restricted out-of-state travel and adopted a balanced-budget resolution.

"We are now at a level in which we can stay afloat and we can pay the bills," said Joseph Zimmerman, president of the Gary Teachers Union.  "We still have to work down the deficit.  We took some painful cuts watching our paraprofessionals not go back to school is not good."


Pratt to Open Gary Warehouse
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[13 Aug 2014]

GARY | Pratt Industries may hire up to 30 workers by 2016 to man a new warehouse in Gary.

The Australia-based international recycled packaging company is investing $2 million to $2.5 million in a new Gary distribution center to support the new $260 million paper mill it's building in Valparaiso.  Construction is underway on a 250,000-square-foot Valpo plant billed as the world's most technologically advanced and environmentally-friendly recycled paper facility next to Pratt's existing cardboard box factory on Ind. 49.  Pratt, U.S. headquarters is in Georgia.

It is looking to lease space in an existing building on Bridge St in Gary for a warehouse operation, city spokeswoman Chelsea Whittington said.  The company wants to lease space in a 384,000-square-foot building just off of the Indiana Tollroad on the west side of downtown.  The location is right of the EJ&E Railroad tracks, three miles from I-65 and about six miles from I-80/94.

Various paper products will be stored at the Gary distribution hub before being shipped to the recycling plant south of U.S. 30, where Pratt plans to hire 137 workers over the next few years.  Pratt plans to create eight to 10 full-time jobs at first and hire as many as 25 or 30 employees in Gary within 18 months, said Deardra Campbell, director of the Gary Department of Commerce.

"Gary welcomes Pratt as the latest example of a company choosing to establish a presence here, where our proximity to resources like multiple modes of transportation make us ideal for industry," Campbell said.

Pratt is currently going through the site plan process and still requires city approval, Whittington said.


Coroner IDs Woman Found Dead in Gary
Compiled From a nwiTimes Times Staff Report
[12 Aug 2014]

GARY | The Lake County coroner's office on Tuesday identified a woman found dead Saturday in Gary.

Piera M. Griffith, 34, of Gary, was identified through fingerprints, according to a coroner's news release.

Investigators initially thought Griffith had died from a gunshot wound to the head.  The autopsy showed she died from blunt force trauma to the head, authorities said.

Griffith, who was mixed race and not black as originally reported by the coroner's office.  She was found dead in an alley behind the 3800 block of Massachusetts St in Gary's Glen Park neighborhood, authorities said.  She was pronounced dead at the scene at 8:25 a.m.


Great Lakes Steel Production Falls by 18,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[13 Aug 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region dropped back to 675,000T, exactly what it was two weeks earlier.  Local production fell by 18,000T or 2.5%.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, rose to 660,000T, up from 640,000T a week earlier.  Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.86 million tons, down from 1.9 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 78.8% last week, down from 79% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 77.6% a year earlier.  U.S. mills have produced 58.3 million tons of steel so far this year, or about 0.4% more than at the same point in 2013.

Overall U.S. output slipped by 0.2% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Steel shipments fell 1.3% in June as compared to May but up 6.2% as compared to June 2013.  Mills shipped 8.2 million tons in June.  Hot-dipped galvanized sheets and strip were up 0.1% in June over May.  Hot-rolled sheet was down 2% and cold-rolled sheet was down 4%.


Gary Wants Time to Boost Middle School Scores
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[11 Aug 2014]

In ISTEP Plus scores released last week, just 15.6% of Dunbar-Pulaski students passed both the math and English sections. Since the school year ended in June, the principal and 50% of the teaching staff have been relocated.

Because the school has been on academic probation for five straight years, the state was required by law to hold Mondays public hearing.

33 speakers including parents, residents, school district employees and a couple of students urged state officials to let the school district revise the plan for the school.  Jacqueline Lee said Supdt. Pruitt and the school board can improve Dunbar-Pulaski, and "we dont need anyone to come in and take over our community. We can fix what we broke."

A decision on the schools future isnt expected until after statewide school grades are released in October, said Glenda Ritz, Indianas superintendent of public instruction.


Need for Changing the Way Business Conducted in Gary
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Lu Ann Franklin
[11 Aug 2014]

GARY | Bringing companies with high-paying jobs to Gary will take the restoration of the citys image as a good place to do business where the payment of fees or favors to officials isnt necessary.

With his well-known brand of satire and cutting wit, economist and Times columnist Morton J. Marcus brought that message to the Gary Chamber of Commerce during Mondays membership luncheon at Majestic Star Casino.  A retired professor from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business and director of the Indiana Business Research Center, Marcus writes Eye on the Pie, a weekly column in more than 30 Midwest newspapers, including The Times.

"Crime is not the No. 1 issue (in Gary)" he told the guests, some of whom reacted with some discomfort to his pointed jabs.  Drive-by shootings also happen with frequency in Indianapolis, Marcus said.  However, businesses continue to flock to that metropolitan area.

"The Gary area is perceived as a place where it is expensive to do business.  There is a tax for going into business and staying in business," he said.  "You could call it corruption.  In economics, its called price discrimination," Marcus said.  He gave the example of his father who was a salesman in New York City, where giving gifts and discounts to customers was "a necessary custom."  The price discrimination still practiced in Gary has nothing to do with discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, ethnicity or other factors, Marcus said, adding that it is a long-established custom.

"Gary has a strong reputation (for what) we in America call corruption.  You can go to jail for giving gifts to foreign companies," he said.  Public officials have been taking money to help friends in these endeavors for many years, Marcus said.  "You cant continue to do business this way in order to attract business," he said.

Business owners ask themselves "what does it cost me to do business in Gary?'" Marcus said.  "If it costs you less to do business in Crown Point, if it costs you less to do business in Griffith (thats where companies will go)."

The Gary Chamber of Commerce can be a driving force in this effort, Marcus said.  "One of the things the Chamber of Commerce can do is to ask members not to engage in these practices and let people know that," he said.  Chambers of commerce tend to be one of the organizations that can make a difference in economics and business attraction, he added.

Marcus also provided his insights into the economic picture in the U.S., Indiana and Northwest Indiana.

The national economy "is moving along slowly, more slowly than any of us would want," he said.  "Each of the last six months have seen an increase of 200,000 jobs."  Indiana "is not doing as well as the national economy," Marcus noted.  One reason is "jobs that pay well refuse to come to Indiana" and those Hoosiers who are highly paid tend to leave the state, he said.  In addition, workers who are coming to Indiana tend to have less education, he said.

"Northwest Indiana grows slowly, slower than the state," Marcus said, adding that the only place that is keeping the state numbers up is the Indianapolis metropolitan area.  "And thats because they have superior transportation resources" including highways and an airport, he said.

Northwest Indianas proximity to Chicago does create opportunities for young workers, Marcus said.  "There are tremendous housing opportunities (here) and good education systems.  What we have is an image problem."


Woman Found Dead in Gary, Shot in Head
#23 and Counting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[10 Aug 2014]

GARY A woman was found dead Saturday morning just east of Broadway in Glen Park, apparently the victim of violence.

The woman has not been identified, a news release from the Lake County coroner states.  She died from a gunshot wound to the head, the release also states.

Lt. Thomas Pawlak was the first to arrive at 3889 Massachusetts St. about 7:45 a.m., in response to a call of a woman down.  He found the woman lying in a pool of blood.  Investigators also noticed a trail of blood from a nearby wooded area.

The woman is the 23rd homicide of the year and the second in the two weeks since Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson announced a comprehensive program to combat crime in the city.


Stakes High for Gary's Dunbar-Pulaski School
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[10 Aug 2014]

GARY When they removed the failing Dunbar-Pulaski Middle School from a school closing list in June, Gary Community School Corp. officials hoped they could repackage it and turn the school around.

They couldn't afford to lose any more students and funding to charter schools.

The district has renamed Dunbar-Pulaski the Gary Middle School and its touting an outside "meet and greet" picnic from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Some of the schools new-found enthusiasm might be tempered by Monday's state hearing, led by state school chief Glenda Ritz.  It's expected to culminate with some type of state intervention at the struggling school where 84% of the students failed last springs ISTEP Plus exam.  If the state decides to take over the school, all state funding would go to the private takeover operator.  One Gary school Roosevelt already has been taken over by the state for poor academic progress.

Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt said earlier that the school might escape state sanctions if it shows that its enrollment base has changed.  Pruitt will offer a solution to the school's academic woes at Monday's 6:30 p.m. hearing at the school, 920 E. 19th Ave.

Dunbar-Pulaski's recently released ISTEP results underscore a pattern of decline that dates back to 2007.  In that year, 75% of the students didnt pass ISTEP.  The district, under a former superintendent, closed the school in 2009 as ISTEP scores plummeted again, when 82% failed.  Fending off competition from charters, the district reopened the school in 2012, this time christening it the Dunbar-Pulaski Academic and Career Academy.  The name change didn't translate to academics.  In 2013, 86% failed the ISTEP exam.

Pruitt initially wanted to close Dunbar-Pulaski, but changed her mind at a May 31 school board meeting.  The school board, instead, opted to close the Lew Wallace STEM Academy, the lone high school in Glen Park.

The federal government had poured about $6 million in school improvement grant money in Lew Wallace over the past three years.  Its test scores were on an upward trajectory, but not enough to escape state intervention as it was in the final year of academic probation, along with Dunbar-Pulaski.  The last-minute change meant there was no public input taken on the Lew Wallace closing.

Mired in a $27.3 budget hole and looking at half-empty schools, the school board opted to close five schools in June, an unpopular move among parents who criticized the lack of notice they received.  About 2,000 students were displaced by the closings and routed to new district schools, mostly away from their neighborhoods.  The state has asked for minutes from school board meetings in which school closings were discussed.

The closings also left the district more vulnerable to losing students to charters and private schools, like the Ambassador Christian Academy in Gary, which leads the state in voucher students.

Pruitt has set a strategic plan effort in motion, asking Indiana University Northwest professor Rochelle Brock to lead it.  The group is supposed to offer up a five-year plan at a board meeting this month.  "What we have now are broad goals," said Brock who heads IUNs Urban Teacher Education Program.

Others say they feel out of the loop on the district's problems at Dunbar-Pulaski and the states possible intervention.  "I think I speak for all the legislators in Gary, that the state hasn't included us in the process, nor has the school superintendent," said state Rep. Vernon Smith, a Gary Democrat and educator.  "There was word that some parents wanted Lew Wallace to stay open.  The bottom line is we're ill-informed," said Smith, a member of the House Education Committee.  "I think they have good intentions, but some decisions have had repercussions.  If they don't do a better job of planning, we'll find ourselves in this situation over and over again."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   It is the proverberial shell game at play here.  Give the school a new name and hopefully folks won't notice it is the same staff failing to educate the same students.


Sewer Users May Face Heavy Burden Under Consent Decree
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Ed Bierschenk
[9 Aug 2014]

GARY | As regulators seek an agreement to impose new controls on water pouring out of Gary's combined sewer system, a lingering concern is:  who will pay for what could be hundreds of millions of dollars on the system over the next 20 years?

Under a South Bend consent decree two years ago, that city agreed to make an estimated $509.5 million in improvements over 20 years to reduce sewage overflows into the St. Joseph River.  While it's not known if the Gary Sanitary District will face that high of a cost, Kim Ferraro, with the Hoosier Environmental Council, believes the cost will be "really expensive."

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said a new consent decree leading to a long-term control plan should be in place within about six months.  She was recently reappointed special administrator for the city's sanitary district for a six month period at a salary of $27,000 -- in addition to her $81,175 salary as mayor.  Gary's mayors started being appointed as special administrators for the sanitary district -- and taking a second salary for the job -- about 20 years ago under an earlier consent decree.

"We understand the costs inherent in a long-term control plan, and while we do not have final numbers from our consultants, we are looking for solutions that have the least financial impact on ratepayers, like the installation of green infrastructure," Freeman-Wilson said.

Both Freeman-Wilson and Ferraro said grants for large sewer projects are not as readily available as they once were.  Gary already has had to use some of its scarce financial resources to chip away at a $16 million debt Freeman-Wilson said was incurred by borrowing done under the administrations of former mayors Rudy Clay and Scott King.  She said the city has reduced that debt to about $7 million and noted the city is no longer allowed to borrow money from its sanitary district.

Gary, Hammond and South Bend are among about 108 communities in Indiana that have the combined systems in which both sewer and stormwater are collected in a combined system.  The problems with the combined systems are that they can lead to overflows of raw sewage into the waterways.  Gary and Hammond are the only two that do not have long-term control plans in place, yet.  The Gary's sewer system also serves Hobart, Lake Station and a part of Merrillville.

Ferraro suggested some of the industries that send large amounts of discharge to the Gary system should step forward with some funding to help reduce the impact on residential rate payers.  Ferraro said Gary's ability to pay for needed improvements may be one of the reasons it is taking some time to write up an agreement.


NWI Casino Revenue Down from Last Year
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Karen Caffarini
[8 Aug 2014]

July offered little relief for Northwest Indiana's five casinos, most of which saw year-over-year declines in revenues and admissions.

Horseshoe Hammond, the top revenue-generator in the region and the state, had the most drastic drop, from $42.3 million in revenues in June 2013 to $34.6 million last month.

Horseshoes general manager and senior vice president, Dan Nita, Friday called the July revenues report "pretty disappointing," but on the bright side, added that last July was one of the casinos best months in recent years.  "We had the highest coin-in in three years then," Nita said.  He said he was pretty optimistic in the beginning of the month, having had a successful Fourth of July weekend.  "Unfortunately, the last two weeks in July were very challenged.  It was pretty disappointing.  We didnt get the turnout we expected," Nita said.

Ed Feigenbaum, editor of Indiana Gaming Insight, said Horseshoe had a pretty hefty decline in admissions last month as well.  "Horseshoes admission were down about 20% over last year in July and were down about 15% the previous month, too."  Feigenbaum, also noted that July 2013 was a particularly good month for the Hammond casino.

Meanwhile, Ameristar in East Chicago continued to gain market share in the region compared to last year, including a $400,000 hike in table games.  Matt Schuffert, vice president and general manager, said the casino continues to focus on providing an outstanding table game product, having recently added 13 tables to the casino floor along with a new 12-table poker room.

The five casinos took in a total of $80.7 million in revenues last month, compared to $89.6 million in revenues the previous June, according to the monthly revenues report released Friday by the Indiana Gaming Commission.

Ameristar showed a slight gain, with $17.9 million in revenues last month compared to $17.8 million the previous July.  Blue Chip raked in $14.2 million compared to last Julys $13.6 million.  Majestic Star Casinos dropped from $15.8 million to $14 million.  The revenues reflect free play promotion money taken by some casinos during those months.

Feigenbaum said, statewide, the casino revenues last month were the lowest amount for a July since 2002.


Indiana Inmates Do Rehabbing in Gary
Compiled From a Michigan City News-Dispatch Staff Report
[8 Aug 2014]

MICHIGAN CITY Offenders from both the Indiana State Prison Medium/Minimum Security Unit and the Westville Correctional Facility have been working together to renovate abandoned homes in Gary, Indiana.

The project is sponsored by the Fuller Center for Housing of Gary, Indiana, Inc.  The program achieves several objectives. I t provides affordable housing to the citizens of Gary, helps raise values within the neighborhood, provides work opportunities for offenders and avoids the costs of demolition.  This level of cooperation between the city and the state has raised the interest of the Cook County (IL) Sheriff to do the same in Chicago.

The offender work crews completely gutted the inside of the two homes, removing window frames, plumbing, wiring, support walls and cleaned out the crawl spaces.

Pastor Chet Johnson, the project organizer, sent a letter to Indiana Department of Correction Commissioner Bruce Lemmon expressing his sincere appreciation for the work performed by these two crews.  Pastor Johnson stated, "The effort the offenders are putting into their work is something to appreciate, they are working hard, they understand what we are trying to accomplish, and they have shown the utmost respect".

Commissioner Lemmon stated, "I am very proud of the outstanding efforts everyone has put into making the Gary project a success.  It is community service like this that makes Indiana DOC the best in the business".
[COMMENT -GDY]:   There is more than a bit of irony in the fact that those partly responsible for Gary "going to hell in a handbasket" are being praised for now taking on the role saviours of the "Steel City."


Gary Airport Settles in Prime Tenant's Lawsuit
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Keith Benman
[7 Aug 2014]

The Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority settled a lawsuit accusing previous members of favoring a real estate baron's new business over a longtime airport tenant.

Under the settlement, the Airport Authority is paying $90,000 to the Gary Jet Center and providing promises it will level the playing field with regulations for all aircraft-servicing companies at the airport.  "It's important that we put this behind ourselves and now can move forward with all the new things happening at the airport," authority Chairman James Cooper said.

Gary Jet Center owner Wil Davis expressed the same sentiments about the future, but reviewed what he thought was the root of the problem during the meeting's public comment period.  "I hope this never happens again," Davis said.  "I firmly believe the previous board showed a lack of leadership.  And the former airport director showed a lack of leadership.  And I believe the consultants involved displayed a high degree of arrogance and stupidity."

The settlement comes one week before a federal court hearing on the Gary Jet Center's motion for a preliminary injunction.  The previous airport board was turned out under state mandate in September 2013.

The lawsuit contended B. Coleman Aviation was not held to the same strict airport standards as the Gary Jet Center.  Among unusual privileges granted to the newcomer was a waiver of certain fees including fuel flowage fees, according to the lawsuit.  It also alleged the truck-to-truck refueling used by B. Coleman Aviation violated regulations and was unsafe.

Under the settlement approved Thursday, the airport and B. Coleman have to develop aviation fuel tanks for B. Coleman's use within 15 months.

On Thursday, B. Coleman General Manager Benjamin Toles said his company had only intervened in the lawsuit to protect its name.  B. Coleman continues to offer a full range of aircraft services at the airport. Its 25,000-square-foot hangar remains under construction.


Gary Gets $250,000 from EPA to Improve Lake Michigan Water
Compiled From a Columbus Republic AP Report
[6 Aug 2014]

GARY, Indiana The federal government has awarded Gary, Indiana $250,000 for projects to improve Lake Michigan's water quality by filtering the runoff from city life.

Gary officials will use its $250,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to install systems such as water-filtering bioswales to reduce the amount of sediments and pollutants that flow into the lake.  That effort will also be funded by more than $83,000 in city money and $168,000 from the Cleveland Botanical Garden.


Great Lakes Steel Production Rises by 18,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[5 Aug 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region shot up to 693,000T last week.  Local production surged by 18,000 tons, or about 2.7%.

ArcelorMittal projects local production should increase by 1,000T a day once the No. 7 blast furnace at its Indiana Harbor steel mill is ramped back up after a $70 million reline project.  The furnace, the nation's largest, had been offline for about two months.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, free-falled to 640,000T, down from 681,000T a week earlier.

Overall U.S. output slipped by 0.9% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.9 million tons, down from 1.92 million tons a week earlier.  Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 79% last week, down from 79.8% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 77.4% a year earlier.  U.S. mills have produced 56.4 million tons of steel so far this year, or about 0.4% more than at the same point in 2013.

Steel imports fell by 11.1% in June, dropping to 3.6 million tons in a possible reflection of economic uncertainty after the U.S. Gross Domestic Product fell by 3% in the first quarter.  Most of the imports came from the European Union, which shipped 639,000 net tons to the United States.  Imports from South Korea, which faces potential duties as part of pending trade case over oil country tubular goods, dropped by about 22% to 534,000 net tons.

Despite the overall month-to-month decline, imports from most trading partners were much higher than in June 2013, according to the American Institute of International Steel.  Year-to-date imports are up 34% over last year.  Semi-finished product imports have skyrocketed by 64.4% during the first six months of the year.


Scott Expected to Rejoin Gary City Council
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[1 Aug 2014]

GARY City Councilman Ronier Scott, who is expected to be released Monday from a federal prison in Terre Haute, could be back on the city payroll by Tuesday.

Scott, D-6th, went to prison May 6 following his guilty plea in February to two counts of income tax evasion.  He received a sentence of three months in prison and 400 hours of community service.  Scott, 42, admitted that he did not file tax returns on income earned through his council position and a family business for each year between 2000 and 2003 and in 2008 and 2009.

On May 12, his fellow Democratic council members voted to withhold his pay while Scott was in prison.  A check of city payroll records confirmed that Scott has not been paid since he reported to the medium-security prison.

Scott could be released in time to attend the 6 p.m. council meeting Tuesday.

Council president Kyle Allen wanted to boot Scott off the council, but there was no support for doing so other council members.  Scott refused to resign from the council seat that paid him $27,571 last year, saying he was the sole breadwinner for his family.


The Mayor on Murders
Compiled From a Gary Crusader Report
[31 Jul 2014]

"Over the past 60 days, the city of Gary has been forced to reckon with some of the most heinous murders seen in decades.  An officer gunned down in cold blooda mother stabbed to death by her own sona mother who was brutalized in Crown Point by her daughters boyfriend and then dumped in Garya woman who died in her sleep after being beaten by an unknown individual and young fathers and sons who were killed in alleys and a local McDonalds parking lot.

"With the exception of Officer Jeffrey Westerfield and the Haywoods, the news of most of these deaths was hidden in local newspapers.  While there was a Sunday evening show on a local radio station, there was no public outcry or reactionjust a seeming resignation that these occurrences were simply business as usual.

"I often wonder why the public seems so tolerant of such despicable acts.  I dont think that people are uncaring.  I actually think people care a lot.  But I believe that there is a certain level of protection that accompanies our ability to ignore the murder of someone we do not know or would likely never meet.  It makes us feel safe that murder only occurs if you are in a dangerous profession or if you live in a dangerous part of town.  Besides if we acknowledged our sense of outrage and loss, then we would have to do something about it and the problem seems so intractable that most of us do not know what to do.

"This irrational thinking is a myth.  The reality is that every act of murderevery act of violenceevery criminal act threatens every individual whether you accept it or not.  It threatens our sense of safety, community and our belief that we can rebuild this city from the economic devastation that we have suffered.  And whether you knew Officer Westerfield, Mr. and Mrs. Haywood, DeCarol Deloney-Cain, Jamir Wiley, Monshanay Townsend or any other victim of violence, their murders have a direct impact on our image of our community, the ability to attract business and investment, and our sense of hope and promise for our children.


EDITORIAL:  Declining Steel Numbers a Stark Reminder of Need for New Economic Path
The Times Editorial Board
[29 Jul 2014]

The numbers show a staggering decline, especially for longtime region residents who remember when steel was king in Northwest Indiana.

The steel business always will be an important part of our region's historical fabric -- and remains a major source of employment for our workers.  The luster of this past industrial monarch has faded significantly, though, in the past 14 years.  It's a reminder of the importance of seizing on other economic opportunities to lead our region forward.

Times business reporter Joseph Pete's Sunday article laid out the cold-steel truth, as illustrated in an annual report by ArcelorMittal.  Northwest Indiana's primary metals manufacturing -- chiefly the local steel industry -- has hemorrhaged 8,700 jobs since 2000.  That represents a 33% plunge in the jobs that once defined our region.  That's the bad news.

The good news is Northwest Indiana clawed itself out of the Great Recession that defined the earlier part of the decade, and we have an opportunity to chart a new economic course for the future.  Seizing on growth opportunities in the healthcare industry remains important.

We have been waiting for years to see a teaching hospital and much needed region trauma center come to fruition, potentially partnering with Indiana University Northwest in Gary.  In many ways, our needs cry out for state government to see Northwest Indiana as more than just a hotbed of government waste requiring reform.  State economic leaders also need to see our region for its great untapped economic potential.

Northwest Indiana's economic future hinges on growing industry and job opportunities inside our own borders.


Merrillville Sues Gary Sanitary District to Fix Problem
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Karen Caffarini
[31 Jul 2014]

MERRILLVILLE--The town is taking Gary Sanitary District to court over a reported sewer overflow onto a street in the 5600 block of Grant St.

Joe Fish, compliance officer for Merrillville Stormwater Utility, said he wrote an illicit discharge citation to the GSD and fined the utility $2,500 on May 12, after obvserving a sewer overflow onto the street following a heavy rain.

He said this is the first time hes fined the GSD, which provides sewer service in the Meadowdale and Meadowland Estates subdivisions on the north side of the city.  "The fine was not necessarily set to get money, but to get the GSD to take action and correct the problem," Fish said.  He said it appears GSDs sanitary lines arent being properly maintained, allowing storm water to get into the sanitary sewers, causing an overflow during heavy rains.

Fish said Merrillville Conservancy District and Independence Hill Conservancy District, which also serve the town, have continuing maintenance programs in which their pipes are sealed, preventing any overflows.  "GSD says they do, too, but they need to prove it," Fish said.

A representative for GSD did not return phone calls requesting comment.

Fish said the town has already met with the GSD, which is in the process of proving it made some repairs and done necessary tests on their lines.  He said the Gary utility company also will provide Merrillville with a timeline of what it will do to correct the problem and when.

Because the utility needs more time to accomplish these actions, the original Aug. 11 court date in Merrillville Town Court will be moved back.  Fish said no new date has been set as yet.

Fish said when the GSD appears in court, it will show the judge the timeline and its actions taken.  "The judge (Judge Gina Jones) will decide if theyll be fined or not," Fish said.  If fined, the $2,500 would go to the Stormwater Utility, Fish said.


Blount Enters Not Guilty Plea in Murder of Gary Cop
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Ruth Ann Krause
[31 Jul 2014]

CROWN POINT A Gary man charged with murder in the shooting of Gary police Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield had a brief appearance in court Wednesday to formally enter a not guilty plea.

Carl LeEllis Blount, who turned 26 on Tuesday, waived the reading of the charge through his attorney, Robert Varga, as he stood shackled before Lake Superior Court Judge Samuel Cappas with extra security officers present.  Blounts omnibus hearing is Sept. 17.

Deputy prosecutors David Urbanski and Monica Rogina are prosecuting the case.


Daughter Charged in Crown Point Mom's Death
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
                             and a nwiTimes Report by Bill Dolan
[31 Jul 2014]

GARY A "fragile" relationship between Decarol DeLoney-Cain and her 17-year-old daughter Alyssa Barrett deteriorated even more when the teen became pregnant earlier this summer, police learned after finding the womans decomposed body in the trunk of her car July 7.

Barrett, who has been arrested and charged with murder and robbery resulting in bodily injury in her mother's death, had "frequently talked of robbing and/or killing her mother," and spoke about stabbing her mother and hiding her body while she was in foster care, court records filed Wednesday state.

Barrett's boyfriend, Demarius McGriggs, 18, of Merrillville, was charged earlier this month.  McGriggs admitted to Gary police that he killed DeLoney-Cain after an argument because she wanted her daughter to abort his baby, the probable cause affidavit states.  DeLoney-Cain suffered multiple stab wounds and a head injury and was found wrapped in plastic garbage bags with a pillow case over her head in the trunk of her car.  McGriggs told investigators he put the pillow case over her head so he wouldnt have to look at her, court records state.

Clerks at a Merrillville pawn shop and a jewelry store at Southlake Mall told detectives Barrett and McGriggs were customers in their stores during the time DeLoney-Cain, 54, of Crown Point, was missing.  The clerks described the pair as "normal customers" who "appeared happy and were smiling at each other," the affidavit states.

Barrett claimed she withdraw $500 from her mother's bank accounts under duress and, after disposing of her mother's body in Gary, went to the Southlake Mall where she and Wren bought an engagement ring at Kay Jeweler's, ate and went to a movie.  Barrett said she went along out of fear.

Police said they spoke with Kay Jewelers employees who knew Barrett and Wren and they said the couple didn't act nervous or distressed.  The affidavit states they appeared to be acting "like their normal 'lovey-dovey' selves," hugging and kissing each other.

In a series of separate interviews, both Barrett and McGriggs provided conflicting details about their roles in the slaying until detectives presented them with facts gleaned from others interviewed and evidence.  Two other friends of the couple have been implicated in the robbing DeLoney-Cain and disposing of her body, the affidavit states.

On Wednesday, Barrett arrived at the Public Safety Facility to speak to detectives about a laptop computer she and McGriggs had pawned.  During the interview, McClelland arrested Barrett.  Both Barrett and McGriggs are being held without bail.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   The daughter deserves to be hung!


Gary Int'l. Seeks Customs Office
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[29 Jul 2014]

GARY Two ways to land more business at the Gary/Chicago International Airport could be to get more private charter business and bring in the federal government, airport officials said Monday.

Getting Homeland Security to approve a Customs and Immigration office at the airport, said airport director B.R. Lane and Ozzie Moore, president and CEO of AvPorts, the private company managing the airport, could be a boon for the facility.  Business people who fly internationally now have to go to OHare International Airport or Midway Airport to clear customs, or have federal agents check and approve their belongings.  Being able to go through customs in Gary would make the Gary airport more attractive to them.

CEOs and corporate types going to Chicago "would love to be able to come (to Gary)," Moore said.  Getting the federal office in Gary could help make that happen, Lane said.  "In order for this to truly be an international airport, you have to be able to clear customs here," Lane said.

The process of getting a customs and immigration office in Gary will take time, Moore said.  The Gary airport will need about a year "to be able to get our arms around" having a customs office here, followed by another six months of making it happen in "a very phased in approach," Moore said.

He also said drawing more of the charter customers would send a strong signal to the aviation community.  "Its an important signal were not just about corporate aviation," Moore said.  "Were about passenger carriers, as well.  It sends the signal were open for business with charters."  That would draw some of the overflow traffic to Chicago, officials have said, a potentially sizable revenue source for the airport.

The Gary site is a great landing site for corporate jets because of its proximity to Chicago without pilots having to juggle for room at Midway and OHare airports, officials have said.


Airport  Board OKs Up to $35M in Bonds for Longer Runway
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[29 Jul 2014]

GARY The Gary/Chicago International Airports leadership Monday approved a bond issue of up to $35 million to complete financing for the airports planned runway extension.

With most other funding in place, the bond sale will help the airport authority cover the roughly $174 million cost for the project.  Melanie Shaker, senior vice-president of Sycamore Advisory, the airports Chicago-based financial consultant, said the city plans to only use $25.6 million from the bond sale.  Together with $24 million the airport has in cash available and $15.2 million in grants from the Regional Development Authority and the Federal Highway Administration, the bond money will cover whats needed for the project, Shaker said.

The original bill for the runway extension was to be about $166 million, but a range of setbacks and developments have added to the price tag to lengthen the runway from 7,000 feet to 8,900 feet to accommodate larger airplanes.  Chief among those setbacks have been extra expenses linked to environmental issues "which could not be accounted for until work was underway on-site," according to a statement from airport spokeswoman Emily Tapia-Lopez.

Trying to work with three railroads Canadian National, CSX and Norfolk Southern to relocate their tracks bordering the airport has added cost and challenges to the project.  "This is a very complex project," airport director B.R. Lane said.  She described it as "more than a runway expansion," and used RDA director Bill Hannas words to call it a "major transportation realignment."  Lane and other airport leaders have had weekly meetings with railroad representatives to iron out differences over the track relocations, but she said she hopes to have a "substantial progress" about that relationship to report at the next authority board meeting.


Man Found Shot to Death at Gary Auto Repair Shop
#21 and Counting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[29 Jul 2014]

GARY The news conference announcing leadership changes and a "comprehensive" plan to reduce crime in the city ended late Monday morning just as a Gary man was shot to death in his auto repair garage three miles from City Hall.

Antonio Tolbert, 41, of the 3600 block of W. 15th Avenue, was apparently shot to death while working in the garage at 1124 Chase St. some time after 10:30 a.m., police said.

A customer who had called to inquire about getting his cars air conditioning charged arrived after 11 a.m. and found the employee on the floor near the front entrance of the business.  The customer told police he drove to the garage door entrance at the back of the one-story brick building and honked his horn for the proprieter.  When he received no response, he walked around to the front entrance and found the man lying on the floor.

Detective Willie Ervin, who was working as a patrol officer Monday, was the first to arrive on the scene.  He summoned homicide detectives, supervisors and medics.  A Prompt ambulance medic called the Lake County coroner.

Newly appointed Chief Larry McKinley stopped briefly, having just left City Hall where Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said Chief Wade Ingram had resigned and the city was taking a new direction in combatting crime.

Detectives Cpl. Michael Barnes and Richard McClelland are investigating the homicide, the 22nd* violent death in the city this year (*if one includes the Crown Point homicide of airline stewardess Decarol Deloney-Cain).  Anyone with information can call Barnes at 881-7434


Gary Mayor Outlines Anti-crime Program
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
                    and a nwiTimes Report by Rob Earnshaw
[29 Jul 2014]

GARY Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who campaigned for office with the vow to "eradicate crime" in the city, now calls it a "seemingly intractable issue."

But she has a plan, a team and a new police chief to combat the crime problem.  In a standing-room-only news conference Monday at city hall, the mayor introduced Police Chief Larry McKinley, who replaces Wade Ingram, and announced some new initiatives designed to improve the police departments morale and make the city safer.

Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram turned in his resignation Wednesday.  Freeman-Wilson appointed Deputy Chief Larry McKinley as his replacement.  "Chief McKinley is a 15-year veteran of the police department who has the temperament, vision, intellect and integrity to lead," she said.  McKinley chose retired Gary police Capt. Tom Papadakis as new deputy chief.  "Together they will lead the Gary Police Department during what we understand to be a difficult time," Freeman-Wilson said.

McKinley said one of the issues he will address is department morale.  "Coming from the rank-and-file, I understand the frustrations these officers go through on a daily basis," he said.  "Gary police officers are among the lowest paid in the region and face the biggest challenge of any community in fighting crimes."  McKinley announced officers will be rewarded with a salary bonus and the support of 14 new officers, who are in the final stages of hiring.  He said the department is also in the process of buying new vehicles with upgraded technology.

The mayor said the nature of some crimes in the past two months are "some of the most heinous murders seen in decades" and wondered why the public isnt outraged.  "If we acknowledged our sense of outrage and loss, then we would do something about it," she said.

While homicides are down more than 30% from the same time last year (22 compared with 32), Freeman-Wilson named several recent victims killed in the city and said, "their murders have a direct impact on our image of our community, the ability to attract business and investment and our sense of hope and promise."  Most of those she named were an atypical murder victim:  including 19-year-veteran Patrolman Jeff Westerfield gunned down in his squad car, a United Airlines flight attendant allegedly killed by her daughters boyfriend and a Brunswick area father stabbed to death at his home, allegedly by his son, whos also charged with killing his mother in Merrillville.

Most of those she didnt mention are young black men involved in criminal activity that led directly or indirectly to their demise.  As a way to humanize the impact of these deaths, the mayor plans to launch a website that will focus on each homicide victim and tell the story of their life.

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 61 president Sam Abegg was in the audience during the hour-plus news conference.  Afterward, he said boosting morale will take more than the salary bonus that McKinley mentioned during his brief speech.  "Compensation is the No. 1 reason morale is low," Abegg said.  As for the proposed community outreach plans announced by the mayor, Abegg said the rank-and-file were not consulted.  "We have direct knowledge as it relates to the deficiencies within the department and sustainable objectives as it relates to crime reduction," he said.

Parts of the new program are modeled after New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieus "NOLA for Life" campaign and will be tagged "Gary for Life," Freeman-Wilson said.  Landrieu offered advice to Gary leaders during conference calls in recent weeks.  His plan joins churches and non-profit agencies in reaching out to the community and providing alternative activities and intervention.

Mary Cossey, the citys constituent services director, said she will coordinate on the four points of the initiative enforcement, rehabilitation, intervention and prevention.

Freeman-Wilson said the city will install a "community prevention line" for residents to report issues that may not be immediate criminal matters but are problems that need attention.  "The most important aspect of this initiative is what occurs outside of city hall," she said.  The mayor said reporting crime, watching out for neighbors and volunteering with some of the "many groups that are working to motivate the next generation" are things residents need to do to improve living conditions in Gary.

Freeman-Wilson said the public should know her administration "doesn't have a magic wand or quick fix," and some of the changes and continued coordination will only be seen over the long term.


Prosecutor to Weigh Death Penalty in Police Murder
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Bill Dolan
[28 Jul 2014]

CROWN POINT | The Lake County prosecutor's office will spend the coming weeks determining whether a Gary man should face the death penalty over allegations he ambushed Gary patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield earlier this month.

The process will be shrouded in official secrecy.  Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan granted a request Friday by Public Defender Robert Varga to impose what is commonly known as a gag order.  The order, formally known as a protective order, forbids the prosecutor, police, coroner and other law enforcement officials in the case as well as the public defender's office from publicly discussing the case's evidence and thereby avoid pretrial publicity that could prejudice a future jury.

Sheriff John Buncich announced Thursday, before the order's imposition, Prosecutor Bernard Carter will review the case to determine if it qualifies for a capital murder charge.  Murdering an on-duty law enforcement officer is one of more than 20 aggravating factors in the capital murder law.

Carter has said in the past he routinely submits all potential death penalty cases to a group of his veteran deputies and then to the eight-member Capital Litigation Committee of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney's Council.  While the final decision rests with Carter, he said he needs the others' help to balance the interests of justice and cost to taxpayers.

Court documents indicate the strength of the state's case against Blount rests on circumstantial evidence and the testimony of the defendant's half brother, Dontae Blount, and other witnesses who spoke with the defendant before and after the crime.  However, the sheriff said Thursday Blount hasn't confessed, and police still haven't found the .40-caliber Walther handgun.

The Indiana Department of Correction said there are currently 13 men and one woman under Indiana death sentences.  [Ed:  Unfortunately, one of those persons is NOT Rufus Averhart, who murdered Gary Police Lt. George Yaros on 11 Aug 1981, and is soon due to be realeased from the state penitentiary.]

Lake County's last death penalty murder case resulted in Kevin Isom, 48, receiving three death sentences in March 2013 for killing his wife and two stepchildren in their home in Gary's Miller area six years earlier.  That case was marked by years of delays, took months to assemble a jury and five weeks for lawyers to present evidence and arguments.  It cost three quarters of a million dollars, according to county officials.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Is it a question of the evidence or the cost?  If cost, shame on Lake County!


Training of New Gary Officers Delayed
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[27 Jul 2014]

GARY A year ago, the city was processing new police officers, and Police Chief Wade Ingram was urging officials to hire more.

With 10 approved for the police academy, Ingram told the Police Civil Service Commission then that he was still short 12 officers.

Fourteen candidates are on a new certified hiring list but they will not be attending the Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy when classes begin Aug. 4.  The local hiring process is not complete and the city will not allow a waiver procedure.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said putting more officers on the street is a priority.  The rank-and-file dont believe the mayor.  And the on-duty shooting death July 6 of veteran Patrolman Jeffery Westerfield, killed while alone on a dark stretch of road before dawn, only heightens officers concerns.  "When it comes to public safety, the mayor talks about priorities, but actions speak louder than words," Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 61 president Sam Abegg said.

The board of works has accepted three resignations this month, more officers are preparing to leave and even more are job-hunting.  Low pay, low morale, lack of equipment and manpower shortages make the Gary Police Department a difficult place to work, Abegg said.  "90% of our problems are the citys failure to allocate funds to public safety," he said.

And now, the city has failed again, Abegg said, by not allowing training of new recruits while waiting for the state to finalize their pension status.  The 14 new hires have not been sworn in, and wont be in time to get them to the academy, because they have not been approved by the Indiana Public Retirement System.

After a discussion with Ingram, Abegg said the recruits could sign a waiver, agreeing to begin training without the retirement and disability benefits in effect.  Its a practice used previously in Gary.  Other police departments plan to send recruits to the academy next month without the final state approval.

Candidates who complete the civil service commissions hiring process including physical and written tests, a background check and voice stress analysis must then undergo medical and psychological examinations locally.  Those results must then be approved in Indianapolis.  Local examinations are beginning and could take weeks, and the retirement examiners typically need about 30 days, Dunlap said.

City officials hope to have the process done for the 18-week academy class that begins in November.  But it will up to a year after their graduation before the recruits are prepared for the job.  "Even if they did hire them today, it wouldnt be until next summer when they were ready for the street," Abegg said.

Those 10 new officers Ingram spoke about a year ago graduated in April and are in the field-training stage, not able to work without direct supervision.

The police department is down more than the 12 officers Ingram said he needed a year ago.  The roster lists 219 names, but more than 20 are on leave either military, injured on duty, extended sick or unpaid administrative.  A full complement of the force is 235.

"When I hired on (more than 10 years ago), there were about 290 officers, and that was where it needed to be.  The population has decreased, but the reality is the people who are leaving are not the criminal element, they are the good people," Abegg said.  "In my opinion, we need to have 60 people on the road and ready to ride tomorrow," Abegg said.


Judge Approves Gag Order in Fatal Cop Shooting Case
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[26 Jul 2014]

CROWN POINT Lake Superior Court Judge Samuel Cappas on Friday imposed a gag order in the case of accused cop killer Carl Blount, preventing lawyers in the case, law enforcement officials, court personnel and the coroner from releasing any information to the public, aside from what is discussed in open court.

Its common for a judge to impose a gag order in a high-profile murder case.  Public Defender Robert Varga requested the order on behalf of Blount, 25, whos charged in the July 6 shooting death of Gary officer Jeffrey Westerfield.

At his arraignment Friday, a not guilty plea was entered for Blount.  None of Blounts family members nor his girlfriend attended the arraignment before Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan.

Blount had one question for Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan can the charges against him be enhanced?  "A count may be added that could lead to the death penalty or life without parole, but it hasnt been yet," Sullivan told him.  "I will tell you that it is a possibility because you are charged with killing a police officer."

Looking tired, Blount, who is being held without bail, answered Sullivans questions clearly until she asked him if he understood that he is charged with murder.  His face fell, and he said almost inaudibly, "Yes, maam."

Blount also told Sullivan that he lives in Portage, although charging documents filed Thursday indicated hes living in Gary.

If convicted, Blount faces from 45 to 65 years in prison.  New rules enacted July 1 mean that Blount will get one day credit for every three days served but must serve 75% of his sentence if convicted, Sullivan said.

Blounts next court hearing was set for July 30.


Steel Jobs Plummeted by a Third Since 2000
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[26 Jul 2014]

Northwest Indiana's steel industry, which once drew immigrants from the world over and put bread on many tables for generations, has lost a third of its jobs since 2000.

Employment in primary metals manufacturing in Northwest Indiana, steel and, to a lesser extent, aluminum has declined by 8,700 jobs since 2000.  The 33% plunge is the result of the domestic industry's struggles and an increasing amount of automation at the mills that ring Lake Michigan's southern shore.

"While this sounds terrible, nationally over the same time period, the United States lost 36% of its jobs in primary metal manufacturing.  So, here in Northwest Indiana the decline is slightly less worse than nationally," said Micah Pollak, assistant professor of economics at Indiana University Northwest.

Local employment in the sector has actually rebounded over the the last few years.  The number of metal manufacturing jobs in the Gary metropolitan area has risen by 3.5% to 17,900 last year from 17,300 in 2010.  But that's a far cry from the 26,700 Northwest Indiana residents who earned their living as steelworkers back in 2000.

Nationally, employment at U.S. steel mills stood at about 135,000 in 2000.  After LTV Corp. and a dozen other integrated flat-rolled producers filed bankruptcy and went under within the next few years, the number of workers who forged steel fell to about 91,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The bloodletting is even worse in the primary metals manufacturing sector as a whole.  As many as 625,000 workers across the county made, smelted or refined metals such as iron and copper 14 years ago.  That workforce has been gutted to about 400,000 today.

The steel industry consolidated, but also became more efficient as the result of automation and improved operated practices.  A single steelworker accounted for 831 tons of raw steel production a year in 2000, according to ArcelorMittal USA's recently published 2013 Fact Book.  Today, each worker is responsible for 1,054 tons of raw steel production, or about 27% more than at the turn of the 21st century.

Steelmakers have been doing more with only about two-thirds of the workers they had a decade and a half ago.  U.S. mills produced 95 million tons of steel last year, or about 10% less due to weakened demand and increased imports than they made between 2000 and 2007.

Employees are expensive.  ArcelorMittal USA estimates its average worker earned $72.53 per hour, from wages, benefits and social insurance programs.  That's more than twice as much as the $34.18 per hour the average manufacturing worker made last year.  The steelmaker spent $162,134 on each worker's salary, benefits and pension last year, a 12% increase over the cost in 2008.  Labor is far and away the biggest cost ArcelorMittal USA has, followed by power, gas and utilities.

"The biggest areas for improvement remain labor costs and retiree obligations," the company noted in the annual report.  "ArcelorMittal USA's labor costs account for 39% of the total conversion cost of steel, or the cost to transform raw materials into finished steel products, minus the cost of raw materials."

The company, which made 16.2 million tons of steel last year, employs around 18,000 workers nationally, including around 12,000 in Northwest Indiana.  Its overall employee costs added up to $1.98 billion in 2013.


Man Charged with Murder of Gary Officer Westerfield
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz, Ruth Ann Krause and P-T Staff
                    and a nwiTimes Report by Bill Dolan
[25 Jul 2014]

Lake County Sheriff John Buncich and Prosecutor Bernard Carter on Thursday announced that Carl LeEllis Blount Jr. had been charged with murder in the Fourth of July weekend shooting death of the 19-year Gary police officer.  Blount, 26, of Gary, faces one charge of murder, although police are still looking for the gun.

Gary Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfields fiancee minced no words when it came to the fate of his alleged killer:  She wants him to get the death penalty.  "Jeff is no longer here.  We cant see him or talk to him or touch him," Denise Sheaks-Cather told the Post-Tribune.  "Why should his (Blounts) family be able to visit him and talk to him?  Why are they any different?"

Westerfield was found dead in his squad car early on the morning of July 6, his 47th birthday.  According to a probable cause affidavit and the sheriff, Blount waited until Westerfield's attention was "diverted" before he shot the officer at "very close range" with a Walther .40-caliber handgun, stolen almost a year ago from a truck in Indianapolis.  "(Its) just senseless, senseless murder of a police officer," Buncich said during a news conference Thursday afternoon to announce the charge.

Blount was taken into custody the day Westerfield was killed but not charged until Thursday.  Police were able to hold him on warrants out of Porter County, Buncich said.  In the Portage warrants he listed a Portage address.  In charging documents in Lake County, he lists 2659 Jackson St., Gary, as his address.

Blount and his girlfriend, Jennifer Guzman, had been at Voodoo Club in Gary the night of Saturday, July 5.  On their way home, a friend of Guzmans began accusing Blount of having an affair with another woman, court records say.  While in the car, Blount lifted his shirt and showed them he had a gun.  The couple began arguing and when they got out of the car, they started struggling over the gun, according to the probable cause affidavit.  At some point, Guzman told police, she got control of the gun and "it just went off."  Blount picked up the gun and fled on foot, the affidavit says.

Westerfield was one of the officers who arrived to the shooting, and he subsequently went looking for Blount.  At 4:26 a.m., Westerfield made his last communication with dispatch and asked for a description of Blount.

According to the narrative laid out in Wednesday's court filing, police were able to use a cellphone picture from Blounts phone to identify the gun and its serial number.  They traced the gun back to Indianapolis and found that an Indianapolis man bought it in January 2013 and reported it stolen on Sept. 25.

Blount's brother, Dontae Blount, told authorities during an interview Tuesday that he was on the phone with Carl Blount just before the shooting, according to the affidavit.  He told police that Carl Blount told him he was ending the call because there was a Gary police officer with a spotlight on and that he would be home soon.

Moments later, Dontae Blount told police, he heard a rapid succession of gunshots.  He grabbed his own gun, went outside and saw Carl Blount running at full speed toward the house.  Dontae told authorities that Carl had "an emotional outburst" and told him he had shot a police officer when his attention was diverted.

Buncich said Dontaes statements proved crucial to the case.  "His half-brother was the one to give us enough to charge," he said.

Dontae is also being held on other warrants.  He is not charged in connection to Westerfields homicide, although Buncich said police are still investigating the case.

Amid tight security, Blount, 25, appeared in court Thursday morning before Lake Superior Court Magistrate Kathleen Sullivan on a petition to revoke probation for criminal recklessness.  He was sentenced May 13, 2013, to 24 months half of the sentence was suspended and ordered served on probation.  He is represented by Robert Varga of the Lake County public defenders office.

Blount is set to appear Friday morning before Lake Superior Court Judge Samuel Cappas for an initial appearance.  He also has a hearing before Cappas on Sept. 24 on the probation revocation case, which stems from him being charged in Porter County while on probation in Lake County.

Porter County issued a warrant for three domestic violence-related felony charges:  felony strangulation, felony criminal confinement and domestic battery committed in the presence of a child all Class D felonies.  He is also being charged with a Class A misdemeanor interference with the reporting of a crime in an April 12 incident.  The Class D felonies each carry sentences of six months to three years, and the misdemeanor sentence can be up to a year.  Bond was set at $5,000, but Porter County did not retrieve Blount from Lake County.

The Porter County Prosecutors office filed additional charges against Blount on July 17.  He faces three counts of Class C felony forgery for allegedly cashing five faked checks from companies in December, getting about a third of the money from them or $2,200 to $2,400.

Sheaks-Cather, Westerfield's fiancee, vowed to follow Blount's case. "I will be at every court hearing," she said.  Sheaks-Cather, who is close friends with other police wives, said she worries about Gary officers because their work conditions have not changed since Westerfield was killed.  "I dont want to see another family go through this.  The city says things are better, but theyre not," she said.

Allie Westerfield, the slain officers 20-year-old daughter, said Thursday that knowing her dad died trying to protect the residents of Gary made her "extremely proud to be his daughter."  She thanked all the local law enforcement for working to find her fathers killer.  "We are standing as strong as we can," she said of her family in the wake of his death.  "We miss our dad."  Allie Westerfield said the family plans on attending Garys Night Against Violence in early August, which will be held in Westerfields memory this year.  Allie Westerfield said she didnt have an opinion on what sentence Blount should serve if convicted.

Blount, who has not confessed to the crime, faces 45 to 65 years in prison on the charge.  Buncich said Thursday that the Lake County Prosecutors Office is still determining whether to seek the death penalty.

Blount has a 2013 conviction for criminal recklessness, a Class D felony.  He was sentenced May 13, 2013, to 24 months 12 months in Lake County Jail and 12 months suspended and served on probation.  He had 334 days in custody at his sentencing hearing.  He was held on a Porter County warrant from a domestic incident in April where he was accused of criminal confinement, strangulation and other charges in Chesterton.  Earlier this month, he was charged with forgery, also in Porter County.

Carl Blount has previous convictions for assaulting other Northwest Indiana law enforcement officers; kicking a Hobart police officer during a traffic stop Dec. 29, 2011, near 37th and Louisiana.  He was wanted two years ago for assaulting a Chesterton woman as well as a Portage police officer and threatening other officers with physical violence during a domestic disturbance in Porter County.

The Lake County Sheriffs Department is still offering a reward of $10,000 for anyone who can provide more information to help bring a conviction.  The ATF has thrown in another $10,000, Buncich said.  People with information can call (800) 750-2746.

The Major Crimes Task Force and Indiana State Police also assisted.  Agents from several federal departments, including the ATF, FBI, DEA and U.S. Marshals Service also offered their help.  Buncich praised the work of all the departments, saying almost every law enforcement agency in Lake County helped out in some way "The work that went into this was unbelievable," he said.

Gary Mayor Statement "I am pleased that the suspect has been charged, and I hope this brings a certain amount of relief to the family and the men and women of the Gary Police Department," said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson in a press release.  "However, we are still mourning the loss of one of our own and expect that Blount and anyone else involved be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Someone knows full well where the murder weapon is hidden and needs to step up.


Gary Police Acquiring New Crime Fighting Tool
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Mike Gonzalez
[25 Jul 2014]

GARY Police will have a new crimefighting tool that has raised controversy elsewhere.

The Board of Public Works and Safety on Wednesday awarded a $23,490 contract to Vigilant Solutions for an automatic license plate reader system.  The cameras, mounted in police cars or on traffic signs, can read thousands of license plates and send the data to computers.

Police use the information to alert officers to vehicles possibly involved in criminal activity.  But some groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, claim the systems can be used to create large databases of information on innocent drivers.


Gary, EdisonLearning Tout New Shared Vision at Roosevelt
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
                    and a nwiTimes Report by Carmen McCollum
[25 Jul 2014]

GARY Water finally is flowing again at Roosevelt College and Career Academy, and officials attributed the breakthrough to a new "shared vision" between the school district and EdisonLearning Inc.

EdisonLearning spokesman Michael Serpe said water was turned back on at Roosevelt on Wednesday after a month of arguing over whose responsibility it was to pay the bill.  The thaw happened when Gary Community School Corp. Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt and new EdisonLearning owner Thom Jackson started having one-on-one conversations.

Indiana American Water Co. turned off the water June 23.  At that time, Gary attorney Tracy Coleman, who represents the Gary Community School Corp., said the water bill totaled $141,000.  Coleman also had said the utility bills for Roosevelt had not been paid since July 1, 2012, when private management company EdisonLearning began operating the high school.

Coleman said Thursday the water is on, and the water bills are now being sent to EdisonLearning.  Coleman would not say what amount, if any, had been paid toward the bill.

A NIPSCO gas and electric bill remains to be paid.  Earlier this month, Coleman estimated the NIPSCO bill at $860,000.

"There are still issues that have to be resolved regarding back payments," she said.  "Right now, everything is in EdisonLearning's name.  To my knowledge, the state did not pay anything toward the bill.  There are still some outstanding issues to resolve."

EdisonLearing spokesman Michael Serpe also would not say what amount of money, if any, was paid on the water bill.  He said Jackson was in Gary two days last week meeting with Gary schools Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt and will return to the city this weekend.  The two previously bickered in court and in the media over the operation of Roosevelt College and Career Academy, taken over by the state in 2011.

On Thursday, both sides issued a joint press release announcing the new partnership.  "Over the past two weeks, we have talked by phone and met in person, representing our respective organizations and agree that we are not just concerned about the nearly 8,000 students we are charged with educating, we want all students to achieve," the statement said.  It added the two entities now have a "shared vision of academic excellence, compassion, focus and commitment."

Serpe said Jackson, a native of Hamilton, Ohio, is president and CEO of EdisonLearning, the for-profit education management company he purchased in January. Previously, he served as general counsel and chief operating officer.  "As a result of Thoms ownership, we believe were the only minority-owned education service company," Serpe said.  [Ed. - And just what does this statement/fact have to do with the "price of beans in China," one wonders?]

EdisonLearning has battled the school district over routine maintenance issues ever since it began running the school in 2012.  Pipes burst last year closing school.  Similar problems again arose this past winter, bringing a visit from State Superintendent of Instruction Glenda Ritz.

EdisonLearning was named by the State Board of Education to run Roosevelt after the state removed it from district control after years of poor academic performance.  EdisonLearning receives state tuition support and other grant monies that typically would have gone to the school district.

Serpe said enrollment is picking up for the new school year that begins next month.  "The reality is the majority of people in the community would like their children to go to the neighborhood school.  That was another motivating factor between Thom Jackson and Dr. Pruitt to get together." said Serpe.

ISSUED BY Dr. Cheryl Pruitt Pruitt superintendent, Gary Community School Corp. and THOM JACKSON, president & CEO, EdisonLearning
[24 Jul 2014]

Over the past two weeks, we have talked by phone and met in person, representing our respective organizations and agree that we are not just concerned about the nearly 8,000 students we are charged with educating, we want all students to achieve.  Thats why we are excited about our new partnership and the shared vision of academic excellence, compassion, focus and commitment that has brought the Gary Community School Corporation and EdisonLearning to the table.

By changing the conversation, we have helped minimize our differing viewpoints, and have provided greater clarity to the respective roles and responsibilities each of our organizations need to carry out specifically for Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy, and for the entire Gary school district.

EdisonLearning is in Gary to improve the academic outcomes of the students at Theodore Roosevelt.  The Gary Community School Corporation provides the facility that allows this effort to successfully operate.  However, we stress that these roles are not separate they are very much linked together.

Therefore, we have together resolved the issue relating to the water at Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy, and the water service to the school has been restored.  We will continue to work collaboratively to address other issues.

A partnership is seen as the way to become truly outstanding.  We believe that the solution to the challenges facing education in Gary today will be found in honest collaboration that can unlock the capacity, innovation and wisdom required to drive schools and students to achieve their utmost potential.

Regardless of the various news reports and apart from the debates around the school turnaround efforts taken by the State of Indiana this is first and foremost about the young people of the Gary community, and their educational journey.  We therefore encourage the news media, and the community as a whole, to focus more on the positive academic outcomes of the students in the Gary schools and those at Theodore Roosevelt.

For us, its about coming together and working together to offer the best educational opportunities available to our children.  As such, the conversation changes because were in this together.  We believe that if one school fails, weve all failed our children.  [Ed. - Is it unfair in inquire what Gary public school has not failed the children?]
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Kumbaya!  There must be something in the water that is now flowing again at Roosevelt?  We'll see how long these "good vibrations" last?


Calls of Tiger On the loose in Gary
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Lauri Harvey Keagle
[25 Jul 2014]

GARY | Gary police searched the city's Glen Park neighborhood late Thursday night and early Friday after receiving vague reports of a tiger on the loose there.

Cpl. Gabrielle King said police received a call sometime before midnight reporting a tiger on the loose near W. 38th Avenue and Broadway.  All Glen Park patrol units were told to be on the lookout for a tiger. More calls started coming in reporting sightings, King said, all with vague locations.

"I'm pretty sure it was bogus," King said. "Everyone has a scanner, so once that first call came over, the 'I saw it here' and 'I saw it there' stuff started coming in."  Officers did not locate a tiger anywhere in the city, she said.


Gary to Pave 55 Streets in Wake of 'Rough' Winter
A nwiTimes Staff Report
[24 Jul 2014]

[Ed:  The headline says it all.]


94 Teaching Cuts Blamed on Enrollment Drop
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[24 Jul 2014]

GARY Struggling with a budget deficit and declining enrollment, the school district has laid off 39 teachers and 55 paraprofessionals, who assist teachers in the classroom.

The school board approved the reduction in force recommendation Tuesday.

"It's not a good day," said Joseph Zimmerman, president of the Gary Teachers Union who sat in the audience during the meeting. "I'm hopeful it's the right thing to do."  Zimmerman said the majority of the paraprofessionals assisted special education teachers in the classroom.  If enrollment rebounds, some of the teachers could be called back.

Before closing five schools in June, district officials said they were facing a $27.3 million budget deficit, largely due to an enrollment decline and new state funding formula.

"It's never an easy decision to cut jobs.  Unfortunately, it's necessary," said board member LaBrenda King-Smith.  "If there's anything this community needs, it's jobs."  The closings left the 5th District King-Smith represents without a school.

Board member Marion R. Williams blamed the influx of charter schools and the states voucher system for decimating the districts enrollment base.  In 2005, Gary had 30 schools and 16,800 students.  The advent of charter schools has siphoned off students from the school district.  Today, there are nearly 4,000 students enrolled in six charters in the city, while the districts enrollment dropped to 7,647 students during the last school year.  "There's a tremendous amount of competition," said Williams, a retired educator.  "We've lost about $32 to $40 million to charters and vouchers, so were laying off teachers.  Theres a direct correlation causing a drain on our side."

With the school closings, the district risks losing more students whose parents may not want to send them to schools farther from home.  The school closings also left several principals in limbo.  The school board approved new jobs for several of them Tuesday.


Steel Shipments Feed Shipping Boom in NW Indiana
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report
[23 Jul 2014]

BURNS HARBOR, Ind. (AP) Steel shipments are feeding a 40% increase in shipping at Indiana's main port on Lake Michigan so far this year.

Steel cargoes passing through the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor have more than doubled (up 130% through June) this shipping season to feed the automotive industry.  General cargo shipments on the Great Lakes, including steel slabs, coils and aluminum, rose 44% through the end of June to 872,000 metric tons, largely because an improving American economy has buoyed demand in the automotive industry.

The Times of Munster reports iron ore and coal are usually two of the largest commodities shipped, but they've been down this year while steel shipments have soared 111% higher than during the first half of 2013.

Much of the steel goes to auto assembly plants or is processed at service centers so suppliers can use it to make fenders or other auto parts.


Gary School to Be Renamed for Michael Jackson
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[22 Jul 2014]

GARY A city school will soon be renamed in honor of Michael Jackson, Garys most famous native son.

It hasn't been determined which school will bear the Jackson name, said Gary Community School Corp. Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt.  The school board set the plan in motion Tuesday when it approved a memorandum of understanding with Michael Jackson's mother, Katherine Jackson.  The front-runner to be named after Jackson is Roosevelt, the aging high school that looms behind the humble, white ranch Jackson family home at 2300 Jackson St.

Pruitt said the district is working with the Jackson family to select the school building.  "A close relationship with the Jackson family to improve the quality of programs for the Gary Community School Corp. can mean tremendous gains for the school district and the city as a whole," Pruitt said.

Michael Jackson, the eighth child of Katherine and Joe Jackson, moved away from Gary as a youngster as the Jackson 5 gained fame in the 1960s.  While he never attended Roosevelt, he performed on its auditorium stage in a local talent show with his older Jackson 5 brothers.

Jackson received a warm welcome upon his 2003 return to Gary and he received an honorary diploma from Roosevelt, one of the stops during his visit.  Jackson also received a hat and leather letterman's jacket with the inscription "To the King of Pop, a true Panther."  He encouraged students to stay in school and study hard during his visit.

Pruitt said the renaming came about in a conversation with Katherine Jackson, whos been a supporter of the school district.  She donated $10,000 during the Gary Promise scholarship event, hosted by Magic Johnson, earlier this year, Pruitt said.  "She's always wanted something left here.  She's really dedicated to the Gary Community Schools," Pruitt said of Katherine Jackson.

The memorandum of understanding was signed by Katherine Jackson on June 6.  It states it does not establish any contractual relationship between the parties.  It also says "the Gary Community School Corporation seeks to honor Michael Jackson and to inspire children to excel in the arts and education."  Theres no mention of financial assistance specifically in the memorandum.

While Roosevelt might seem a likely candidate to be renamed for Michael Jackson, it isn't operated by the school district.  In 2011, the state took the school over because of poor test scores.  It could return to the district by 2016.


Survey Ranks Gary Among Unhappiest Cities in US
Compiled From a WishTV8 Report by Kate Taylor
[22 Jul 2014]

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) A new study from professors at Harvard and the Vancouver School says Gary, Indiana ranks among the unhappiest cities in the country.

The study used data from a CDC survey called the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, among other sources, and adjusted for age, sex, race, income and other factors.

New York City, Scranton, Pennsylvania, Erie, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Gary, Indiana are among the unhappiest cities in the country.  The report concludes that many of the unhappy cities have always been so according to limited data.

Gary, IN is the 9th most unhappy city in the U.S.  South Bend, IN is the 3rd.  According to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), only 35.9% of Gary metro area residents report themselves as being very satisfied with their lives.  NYC ranks #1 in terms of being the most unhappy locale in the country.

The happiest cities in the United States all come from Louisiana.  The five happiest cities, based off demographics and income, are Lafayette, Houma, Shreveport-Bossier City, Baton Rouge and Alexandria.


Gary Man Shot to Death
#20 and Counting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson and Staff
[22 Jul 2014] 2:02AM

GARY Darryle Joshua had been visiting friends at Delaney Community Housing Development on Saturday night when he was shot and killed, police said.

Joshua, 26, who lived in the Glen Park area, was near 21st Av and Pierce St when he was shot multiple times, according to police.  Joshua was pronounced dead at the scene at 1 a.m. Sunday, according to the Lake County coroners office.

Witnesses in the area told police they heard gunfire, but they were unable to provide more information.  No one heard arguing or any other signs that violence was about to break out, police said.

Grieving friends and onlookers gathered at the scene between two boarded up buildings Sunday morning.  Yellow crime tape laid on the ground outside a wrought iron fence.  Delaney resident Angel Jones said she grew up with Joshua in Delaney.  "He was a real good friend...  I actually saw his body on the ground."

Other friends arrived and looked stunned at the sidewalk.  "This is BS," said one unidentified man.  "We need to run and never come back."

The homicide is either No. 20 or No. 21 in Gary this year, depending on a ruling on where DeCarol Deloney-Cain, 54, was killed.  Her body was found in Gary July 7.  The Crown Point woman was a flight attendant for United Airlines.  Police have arrested her daughters boyfriend, a Merrillville teen, and charged him in her death.


Great Lakes Steel Production Rises by 6,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[22 Jul 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region rose to 683,000T last week, and continued to exceed last year's pace.  Local production grew by 6,000T, or about 0.8%.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, fell to 649,000T, down from 660,000T a week earlier. Overall U.S. output dipped by 0.5% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.893 million tons, down from 1.901 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 78.7% last week, down from 79.1% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 77.3% a year earlier. U.S. mills have produced 52.6 million tons of steel so far this year, or about 0.2% more than at the same point in 2013.

Shipments rose 2% in May over April, and are up 4.4% over 2013.  U.S. steel mills shipped a total of 8.3 million net tons in May, as compared to 8.2 million net tons the previous month, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Steel exports however fell to 1.04 million net tons in May, a 10.9% year-over-year decrease, largely because demand weakened in the Dominican Republic and the European Union, according to the American Institute for International Steel.

Exports had increased by 3.8% in April and 15% in March. But for the year, exports are down 7.3% to about 5 million net tons. Canada, historically the largest importer of steel made in the United States, has posted the biggest year-to-date drop in U.S. imports.


Federal Reserve Paints Hopeful Picture of Gary Under New Leadership, Significant Assets
Compiled From a Greenfield Daily Reporter AP Report
[20 Jul 2014]

GARY, Indiana New leadership, a growing attitude of regionalism and significant assets including major transportation infrastructure offer hope for economic growth in Gary, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago concluded in a recent study.

The bank profiled Gary and nine other Midwestern cities that also suffered major manufacturing job losses in recent decades as part of its Industrial Cities Initiative.  It wanted to learn why some cities outperform others and whether their successful strategies can work in underperforming communities, The Munster Times reported Sunday.

Conditions have grown so bad in Gary that leaders have come to define success as halting decline, the study's authors said.  But the city has crucial assets, including commuter rail to downtown Chicago, its location on Lake Michigan and an international airport that could handle more commercial freight.

Assets also include Indiana University Northwest and a nearby Ivy Tech Community College campus that are at the core of Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's plan to develop a University Park neighborhood.

Freeman-Wilson herself represents hope for a turnaround, the study said.

"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 study said.  "Some resources have the potential to help:  strong regional partners ready with investment, a new spirit of accountability at city hall with a team ready to execute, resources and programs ready to train a young workforce, and a large industrial presence that continues to make significant investments in the area."

The city that has lost more than 54% of its population since 1970 also may have bottomed out.  The study's authors say "there is almost no way not to make it better."


Demo of Gary Sheraton Slated to Begin on Eve of Economic Development Symposium
Compiled From a Columbus Republic AP Report
[18 Jul 2014]

GARY, Indiana | City officials Thursday announced demolition is scheduled to begin July 26, on the eve of a discussion on development of a 12-story Gary hotel that has become an eyesore.

The demolition is part of the "Strong Cities, Strong Communities" initiative.  As part of project, officials from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency and other groups will lead a two-day symposium on economic development and related issues July 22-23 at the Genesis Convention Center.

The former Sheraton Hotel has sat vacant for nearly 30 years.  The building opened as a Holiday Inn in 1971 and closed after four years.  It reopened in 1979 as the Sheraton Hotel and closed again in 1985.

The first visible step will be the July 26 removal of the land bridge over Massachusetts St connecting the Sheraton to the Hudson Campbell Building east of City Hall.  The parking garage will be demolished shortly thereafter, followed by the land bridge over Broadway in August.

The demolition is expected to cost $1.8 million.  That sum is to be paid by the Redevelopment Commission to Homrich Inc.  Freeman-Wilson blasted Homrich at her State of the City address in January, but she said problems have been ironed out.  She said a Homrich subcontractor, charged with removing asbestos, failed to hire local residents.  "We told them that was unacceptable," she said.

Brenda Scott-Henry, Gary's director of green urbanism and environmental affairs, said after the demolition the space be turned into a green infrastructure that will manage stormwater and have added social benefits.


Gary Airport Expansion Delayed Again
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Keith Benman
[17 Jul 2014]

Gary/Chicago International Airport's expansion project will again miss a deadline for completion, with construction of the runway extension now projected to stretch into next year.

Airport consultant Dan Vicari told the Northwest Indiana RDA on Thursday if railroad agreements are finalized as expected, Canadian National Railway could begin constructing links to its new tracks near Cline Avenue by October.  That would mean its trains could stop using their current route into Kirk Yard within months.  Those tracks sit on an embankment at the end of the airport's main runway and have been the main obstacle blocking its expansion. Once Canadian National starts using its new tracks the embankment can be taken down and construction of the extension's final piece can begin.

"This is what we have absolutely been working toward for years," Airport Director B.R. Lane told the RDA board. "...  We see this as monumental progress."

In July 2013, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson announced the airport project would not be completed by the city's deadline of December of that year.  She said pollution on the site was worse than expected and it would take some time to determine the best means of cleaning it up.  She said the project would be completed by September 2014.


Sheriff:  Very,Vvery, Very, Very Close to Charges in Gary Cop Murder
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[16 Jul 2014]

GARY The investigation into last weeks shooting death of Gary Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield continues as Lake County detectives amass evidence against the suspect who is in custody on unrelated felony charges.

Police arrested three people hours after Westerfield's body was discovered, and one is still being held in Lake County Jail pending charges.

"We are very, very, very, very close," Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said Tuesday.  He said police have received "some information coming through" as a result of the reward he offered last week.  "We just want to present the most solid case," Buncich said.

Westerfield, 47, was found shot to death about 5:50 a.m. July 6 as he sat behind the wheel of his squad car at 26th Av and Van Buren Pl.  His emergency lights were activated and he was holding his microphone when the assailant shot him from outside the car.

A reward offered by Buncich would give $10,000 to anyone who provides information that leads to the conviction of Westerfield's killer.


Mayor Tries to Address Violence in Gary
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Rob Earnshaw
[16 Jul 2014]

GARY | Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said the city of Gary has faced a lot of challenges in the last 10 days in terms of violent deaths, and her office is working on a solution to the problem.

During the Tuesday night's City Council meeting, Freeman-Wilson again expressed her condolences to the family of Gary Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield, who was shot and killed while on duty July 6.  Her condolences went to the entire Gary police force as well.

She said her office is being thoughtful about the process in terms of a multifaceted solution.  "We are working and, in short order, we are going to reveal some solutions to what we believe is the underlying problem," she said.  "And I will tell you that I don't think it's simply a law enforcement solution.  I think it's an all-hands-on-deck solution."

Freeman-Wilson said part of that solution will require them to come before the City Council and said council members are sensitive to some of the challenges being faced.  "I just want to assure the public that we are paying very close attention and we are as concerned as you are, and we will make that concern evident through our policy decisions."

Councilman Ronald Brewer, D-at large, said the council appreciates the job Gary police officers do for the city and announced in honor of Westerfield, he will do a ride-along with a Gary police officer during the midnight shift next week "to see what they encounter."  "I think it would give me a different outlook on different things they need out there," he said.

Councilwoman Mary Brown, D-3rd, said she was at the funeral service and that it was amazing to see the show of support the city of Gary gave for Westerfield.  "The city of Gary should be proud to have shown that kind of support for one of their own," she said.


Police Turn Out in Force for Slain Gary Officer
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[15 Jul 2014]

GARY Marked and unmarked squad cars jammed Broadway and 4th and 5th Aves Monday morning as police officers arrived to pay their respects at the 11 a.m. funeral of fallen Gary Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield.

For Indianapolis Metropolitan police Patrolman David Bryant and Lt. Patrick White, it marked their third funeral in a week.  They lost one of their own, Patrolman Perry Renn, who was gunned down July 5 as he responded to a call.  "Its been pretty rough, Ive been doing this for 20 years and I dont remember anything as bad as this," said Bryant.

Police from across Northwest Indiana and neighboring states came to honor Westerfield, who was shot to death in his squad car July 6 when he responded to a call at 26th Av and Van Buren Pl.  Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and members of her staff arrived about 10 a.m.  Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann filled in for Gov. Mike Pence and arrived at the Genesis Center with a motorcycle escort.

A motorcade carrying Westerfield's family passed by the former police station at 1301 Broadway about 10:40 a.m. en route to the Genesis Center.

Gary Cpl. Stephen Otten said its been a tough week for the department.  "We lost a brother... another one," he said.

Police dogs and their handlers from Northwest Indiana waited quietly under a tree on Broadway.  Valparaiso Ptlmn. E.J. Hall stood with his partner of four years, Femmy.  "There are about nine dogs here," he said.  "Well take them in when it starts," he said as Femmy stood obediently at his side.


Gary Police Still Building Case in Westerfield Murder
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[15 Jul 2014]

GARY | While hundreds of police officers from across the Midwest attended the funeral of slain Gary Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield, a few stayed behind to continue work on the criminal case against his killer.

Investigators hope to present evidence to Lake County prosecutors later this week, sources said.  A "person of interest" was arrested hours after Westerfield's body was discovered and is being held on an unrelated criminal matter, police said.

Westerfield, a 19-year veteran of the Gary Police Department who routinely worked the midnight shift, had been assigned the "Metro" beat the night he died.  On that nights schedule, behind Westerfields name, was the notation, "no calls."

One officer per shift provides security at the city-owned Adam Benjamin Metro Center at 4th Av and Adams St, but when the train/bus station activity is slow, that officer often assists on calls in the downtown and Midtown districts.

On July 6, eight patrol officers worked the entire city while Westerfield stood guard at the Metro station.  Two traffic officers assisted, but weekend nights, especially during summer months, can be busy.  So at 3:57 a.m., Westerfield and Patrolman Steven Peek were dispatched to a disturbance at a home in the 2300 block of McKinley St.  They were told a gunshot victim might be in a car parked on the street, a police report states.

Westerfield was searching for the shooting victim and others with him when he activated his lights on 26th Av at Van Buren Pl.  He had the driver side window of his marked squad rolled down and his microphone in his hand when the assailant walked up and shot him in the head at close range.

Patrolman Daniel Perryman responded to reports of a gunshot victim about 5:50 a.m.  When he and Sgt. William Wood arrived, they found Westerfield.

Lake County detectives are leading the investigation into Westerfields death, with help from Gary police.

While police remain certain the man in custody is the suspect, they want to present as much evidence as possible to prosecutors.  Investigators hope the reward will help develop a strong case, police said.


Great Lakes Steel Production Leaps Up by 23,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[15 Jul 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region surged to 677,000T last week, and exceeded last year's pace for the first time in 2014.

Overall U.S. output grew by nearly 2.7% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Local production jumped by 23,000T, or about 3.5%.  Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, shot up to 660,000T, as compared to 640,000T a week earlier.  Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.853 million tons, down from 1.863 million tons a week earlier.

Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 79.1% last week, up from 77% a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate was unchanged from a year ago.

U.S. mills have produced 50.7 million tons of steel so far this year, or about 0.1% more than at the same point in 2013.

Shipments rose 2% in May over April, and are up 4.4% over 2013.  U.S. steel mills shipped a total of 8.3 million net tons in May, as compared to 8.2 million net tons the previous month, according to the American Iron and Steel Institute.

Steel exports however fell to 1.04 million net tons in May, a 10.9% year-over-year decrease, largely because demand weakened in the Dominican Republic and the European Union, according to the American Institute for International Steel.  For the year, exports are down 7.3% to about 5 million net tons.  Canada, historically the largest importer of steel made in the United States, has posted the biggest year-to-date drop in U.S. imports.


Son of 80-year-old Stabbing Victim Charged with Murder
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Ruth Ann Krause
[14 Jul 2014]

The son of an 80-year-old woman who was stabbed to death at a Merrillville hospital on Friday has been charged in Lake Superior Court with murder.

Rodney Louis Dickinson, 60, of Glen Park, was arrested shortly after 5 a.m. Friday, about three hours after his mother, Margrine Haywood, was stabbed to death in her third-floor hospital room at Methodist Hospitals Southlake Campus.

Gary police went to check on the welfare of Margrine's husband, James Haywood, at the family home in the 1500 block of Hovey St in Gary and saw his feet through a large living room window.  Officers forced their way inside and found Haywood on his back near a bedroom doorway, covered in blood on his torso and arms from what appeared to be numerous stab and slash wounds, according to court records.

Gary police SWAT members responded to Dickinson's last known address, 3881 Maryland St., and saw Dickinson leave the house and get into a white 2004 Dodge, records said.  His car was immediately stopped by police and he was taken to the police station for questioning.

After waiving his rights and agreeing to give a statement, Dickinson teared up and said, "James never loved his mother," according to court records.  Dickinson said he was the caretaker for both his mother and stepfather, had a key to their residence and had been there on Thursday.

James Haywood and Dickinson had planned to go to the hospital to visit Margrine Haywood, but only Dickinson went.  When detectives pressed him on the death of James Haywood, Dickinson became angry and said, "James loved my mom.  We went to dinner together all the time."  The contradictory statements were not explained in court records.

Dickinson has not yet been charged in the death of James Haywood.

Police removed Dickinson's clothing and shoes as evidence in the case.  Officers noticed a large red mark on his lower arm and a dried reddish substance on the outside of his left shoe.  Police also found a kitchen knife with a red substance in the kitchen sink, which was similar to the kitchen knife found at the hospital.

Before Margrine Haywood died, a nursing assistant saw a man in the hospital room who was acting "weird," court records state.  Margrine Haywood told police the man was her son.  A few minutes later, the CNA heard screams from the woman's room and saw Dickinson run from the woman's room.  Before she died, she told a nurse that her son "Rodney" had stabbed her, court records.


Northwest Indiana Economy Outpaces State, Nation
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[14 Jul 2014]

Northwest Indiana's economy continued to roll, outpacing both the state and nation in May.

The Northwest Indiana Index, a finger on the pulse of the local economy, rose to 138.2 in May from 137.6. The 0.6 point bump was the biggest single-month increase since February 2012.

Job gains and a boost in steel production accounted for much of the increase.  Northwest Indiana added 2,100 additional jobs, principally in the leisure and food service industries.  After suffering from stalled growth during the harsh winter, the region has added 9,400 jobs over the last three months.

Statewide, the Indiana Business Research Center's Leading Index for Indiana rose 0.2% to 101.1 after the home building, automotive, transportation and broad-based manufacturing sectors all reported gains.

Northwest Indiana's economy grew by 0.44% in May, compared to 0.32% growth statewide and 0.25% growth nationally.

"This strong growth continues the trend of expansion following the significant weather-related decline in the early months of 2014," wrote Indiana University Northwest assistant professor of economics Micah Pollak, who compiled the index with finance professor Bala Arshanapalli.  The IUN professors are forecasting moderate growth of 1% to 2% over the next six months, which is unchanged from what they predicted at the beginning of the year.

Every component of the index improved in May, but the most dramatic was that local steel production rose by 3.5%, the largest monthly jump since May 2013.  Steel output surged in anticipation of recent U.S. International Trade Commission ruling against steel dumping, and a European Union investigation into dumping.

Nationally, manufacturing workers clocked an average of 42.1 hours a week, the most since the data was first tracked in 1950.  The ISM Manufacturing Index also rose 0.5 points, a 0.9% increase over April.

The picture is not entirely rosy though. The majority of new jobs added in May were in lower wage industries.  Northwest Indiana still needs to add 11,000 jobs to return to the pre-recession level of 287,700.  The Housing Market Index dropped 1 point in May, reflecting a continuation of the softening in that sector.


U.S. 20 Renamed for Gary's Rudy Clay
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[11 Jul 2014]

GARY While tragedy dominated the week in this violence-weary city, state and local officials came together in joy on the steps of City Hall on Friday to remember Gary's biggest booster, former mayor Rudy Clay.

Officials unveiled a large sign designating a portion of U.S. 20 (5th Av) from I-65 West to Cline Av, as the Mayor Rudolph "Rudy" Clay Memorial Highway.

The gathering took on a somber tone as Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson called for a moment of silence to honor slain Gary police officer Jeffrey Westerfield, Crown Point resident Decarol Deloney-Cain and unnamed victims of violence this week, including the shocking deaths of an elderly Gary couple stabbed to death earlier Friday.  Westerfield was shot in his squad car Sunday.

"The General Assembly paused in their bickering to come together for this renaming, not because Rudy Clay died, but because he lived and touched so many lives," said Freeman-Wilson.

Clay, who served as mayor from 2006 to 2011, died last year from cancer at age 77.

State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, read the state resolution that praised Clay for more than 40 years of public service as an Army veteran, state senator, county elected official and Clays favorite job mayor of Gary.

City Council President Kyle Allen said Clay took over the city at the lowest point in its history during a dire financial crisis stemming from a $36 million budget deficit Clay inherited.  "He kept the faith.  ...  He persevered and we continued to move forward.  He stayed the course."

Former NFL football player and actor Fred "The Hammer" Williamson recalled attending kindergarten with Clay and their childhood days in the 2600 block of Polk St.  Williamson drew laughter as he offered his own version of the phone call he would make to Clay, telling him about the renaming of the state highway.

Lake County Clerk Mike Brown said President Barack Obama wouldn't have seen Indiana turn blue in 2008 if it werent for Clays tireless support.  "He was a political father who loved everyone.  ...  And a maximum promoter.  Whatever you needed.  ...  A comb, a brush, he had it with his name on it," Brown said.

Clay's son, Rudy Clay Jr., thanked the crowd saying, "I really wish he was here to see this."


Daughter's Boyfriend Charged in Crown Point Woman's Killing
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[11 Jul 2014]

A Merrillville teenager has been charged with killing a Crown Point woman, the mother of his girlfriend, whose body was found Monday in the trunk of her car in Gary.

Damarius R. Wren, 18, of the 3300 block of West 80th Av, was charged Friday in the death of Decarol Deloney-Cain, 54, a flight attendant whose family had last heard from her on July 3.

Police said Deloney-Cain's teen daughter originally denied knowledge of what happened to her mother but later admitted that Wren attacked her July 3, beating and stabbing her to death.  The girl told police that when her mother came home the morning of July 3, Wren was hiding in the basement, attacked her, put a pillowcase over her head and began slamming her head on the basement stairs.  He then got a knife from the kitchen and started stabbing Deloney-Cain with it, police reported.

Gary police discovered her body in her Toyota near 21st Av and Mississippi St.  Luggage was piled atop Deloney-Cain's body, which was wrapped in black plastic and her hands and feet were bound with red duct tape, police reported.

They said Deloney-Cain had been dead at least a couple days before her body was found and was identified though her breast implants.

Deloney-Cain's daughter initially told police that she had helped her mother pack July 3 for a United Airlines flight, but co-workers later said Delaney-Cain wasn't scheduled to work until July 6 on a flight to China.  Officers didn't notice any signs of a struggle in the home when they spoke with the girl.  She told police she expected her mother to be gone a few days on an international flight.

On July 8, a friend of the victim called police after seeing a wrench-type object in the girl's basement bedroom and noticing a suspicious carpet stain in the basement.  Police said they obtained a search warrant the next day and found a shop-vac containing a watery substance with a foul odor that tested positive for the presence of blood.  Detectives also saw a bloodstain near a light switch by the basement stairs, male clothing on the basement bedroom floor, a GPS device and red duct tape in a garbage can in the garage and in a pantry in the basement, according to police.  They said the GPS device identified the location where Deloney-Cain's body was found.

Police said Wren, who also uses the name Demarius McGriggs, gave different accounts of what happened, including that he had found Deloney-Cain's body wrapped in plastic garbage bags in the trunk of her car in the garage.  He later said he had found the woman's body on the basement floor and kept her daughter from going to the basement while a friend of his helped him tie her arms and legs and wrap her body in the bags.

Under questioning by police, Deloney-Cain's daughter admitted that Wren killed her mother and that he and two friends had planned to rob Deloney-Cain a few days before her death, according to police.

They said the girl told detectives that she ran to her bedroom after her mother was attacked, and Wren called two friends who arrived a short time later.  She told police she saw Wren and another man carry her mothers body up the stairs in the plastic bags.

She got into one of the men's cars while Wren drove her mother's car from the home and later saw Wren drive her mother's car onto a dirt road, police reported.

The teen drew cash from her mother's account using her ATM card because she feared what Wren and his two friends would do to her, police said.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   One must ask, and wonder, why the daughter has not been charged; at the very least as a complicitor?  Her conduct before, during and after has been anything but innocent.  Additionally, her credibility is far less than zero. 


New Leads Offered in Westerfield Slaying
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[11 Jul 2014]

An offer of a $10,000 reward for information leading to a conviction in the shooting death of Gary Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield last weekend has turned up several leads, Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said Friday.

Police are investigating the leads, he said, although they still have a person of interest in custody.

The reward was offered Wednesday afternoon.

Westerfield, who was sitting in his squad car in the area of 26h Av and Van Buren Pl, was found shot in the head Sunday just before 6 a.m. by a passer-by who noticed he was not responsive.

His death sparked a manhunt as law enforcement from across the region descended on the area Sunday.  Police eventually took into custody three men, including the person of interest, from a house in the 2600 block of Jackson St later that afternoon.

The person of interest had been shot in the leg at some point, Buncich said at the time, and was taken to Methodist Hospitals Southlake.  No charges have been filed as of Friday afternoon, though.  Buncich said the case is still under investigation.


Woman Stabbed to Death at Methodist Hospital, Husband Found Dead at Her Home
#18 and Counting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carrie Napoleon
                    and a nwiTimes Report by Lauri Harvey Keagle and Vanessa Renderman
[11 Jul 2014]

Neighbors of an elderly couple who were found stabbed to death in Gary and Merrillville early Friday remembered James and Marjorie Haywood as "like family."

"All of us are in a state of shock," said Harold West, one of the victims neighbors in the 1500 block of Hovey Street who was watching the scene unfold.

Police responded about 12:25 a.m. at Methodist Hospital Southlake Campus, at 8701 Broadway in Merrillville, authorities said.  Margrine Haywood, 80, who was a patient at the hospital, was stabbed to death, Merrillville Police Department Chief of Detectives Robert Wiley told reporters.  The hospital was locked down for nearly six hours while police investigated.

During the investigation, police responded to the woman' s home in the 1500 block of Hovey St in Gary and found James Haywood, 88, dead, said Gary Chief of Police Wade Ingram.  Ingram described the man's death as homicide.

The Lake County Coroner's office said both died of multiple stab wounds.  Margrine Haywood was pronounced dead at 1:50 a.m.; James Haywood was pronounced dead at 4:40 a.m.

News crews lined the quiet, well-kept dead-end street off of 15th Av.  Neighbors gathered on the steps of West' s home directly across the street from the Haywood's, fielding questions from reporters and phone calls from family and friends concerned for their safety.

West said his daughter called him at 3 a.m. to see if he was OK.  The group began to gather and watched when the Lake County Coroner removed James Haywood from the home in a body bag on a stretcher.  "It's a great neighborhood.  We're like family here," West said.  "We're all in awe, just shocked and in awe.  You have got to be kidding me.

West said the Haywoods had two sons, Walter and Rodney, that would come by the home.  He did not know if there were other children.  One of the sons would often look after the elderly couple, who lived alone.

Margrine Haywood, who they say has been in poor health for a while, was taken to the hospital July 4.  James Griffin, another neighbor, said he had known James Haywood for years.  He said Haywood was a long-time employee of the Gary Housing Authority before retiring.

Neighbor Clifford Avery said the news of James Haywood's death was shocking.  The group said they had heard early on there were two victims and knew Haywood was home alone, so they were initially unsure who else was killed.  When they learned Margrine Haywood was stabbed to death in the hospital they were devastated.  "It just breaks my heart to know somebody would kill the momma like that.  They should rot in hell," Clifford said.

The group said the neighborhood of mostly retirees has been crime-free until now.  They say they do not fear for their safety at home, because the act was not random.

They said they are concerned about safety at the hospital and are shocked something like this could happen.  "Maybe they need to look at their procedures," West said

A suspect who police say was "familiar" with the victims was arrested in the 3800 block of Carolina St in Gary.  The relationship between the suspect and the victims is unknown at this time.  Charges were pending Friday morning.  Merrillville Police Chief Joseph Petruch said the incident was domestic in nature.  It is being investigated as a homicide, he said.  "There was no threat to the public," Petruch said.

Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram said during a news conference at the hospital Friday morning, broadcast live on NBC 5, that the person of interest is believed to be responsible for both deaths.  Investigators said the person of interest is a relative.


Looking for Work, Thousands Attend Gary Job Fair
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
                    and a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[11 Jul 2014]

GARY Sheila Stuckey and Maigeane Tucker counted themselves lucky to have waited in line for only an hour and a half.

While the mother-daughter duo from Gary spoke with recruiters from different companies upstairs, thousands of job seekers crowded the front door of the Genesis Convention Center and wrapped around the building nearly to the Adam Benjamin Metro Center parking lot across 4th Avenue.  "I didn't think the line would be around the block," said Tucker, adding she was looking for a full-time job with the city's building department.  "Everybody needs a job."  "I'm glad I got in myself," Stuckey said.  "I just think there are no jobs in the area."

"I did expect the line would be this long," Portage resident Bill Lake said.  "It's proof that people are looking for work, not handouts.  You just keep trying, keep going. You never give up."

Fed by advertising and social media, the 2014 Northwest Indiana Diversity Fair, sponsored by Choice DNA Testing of Merrillville and LocalCareerFairs.com, drew thousands of people, some in suits, others in work clothes, and nearly all of them with resumes and hopes for a new opportunity.

Unemployed and underemployed residents milled in line for hours in the sweltering heat.  One man collapsed on the sidewalk and gashed the back of his head open.  The turnout surprised organizers, but it also shows the diversity of the workforce, said Lawrence Reese, a manager with the website.  Organizers even threw bottles of water to thirsty job seekers waiting outside.

Gary resident Cory Roy was frustrated after waiting in line for three hours to get into the fair, only to be told to apply online.  At least a thousand people were lined up ahead of him when he arrived an hour early at noon.

If they got through the front door, tightly guarded by local police, job seekers could speak to recruiters from U.S. Steel, the U.S. Postal Service and banks, or they could talk to employees of local colleges and universities.

Some hopefuls, including Chris Coleman of Merrillville and Chris Askew of Portage, deterred by the waiting line, opted to go online to apply for jobs.  Both men have full-time jobs but wanted more.  "I figured at least if I can talk face-to-face with them, instead of going online, which I've been doing, I could get better results," Coleman said.


Hundreds to Attend Slain Patrolman's Funeral
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Christin Nance Lazerus
[11 Jul 2014]

GARY Several hundred law enforcement officers from across the U.S. are expected to honor slain Gary Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield at his Monday funeral by laying white carnations with a red dot on his casket a gesture that signifies a good life and career but one cut short by bloodshed.  Joe Hamer, chairman of the critical incident/memorial committee, said the presentation of the carnations is an Indiana tradition at funerals of law enforcement officers.

Members of the critical incident/memorial team from the Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police on Thursday laid out the schedule and logistics for Westerfields wake and funeral.  Both events will take place at the Genesis Center in Gary, followed by a burial at Chapel Lawn Cemetery in Schererville.

The visitation/wake will take place from 2 to 8 p.m. Sunday, while the funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. Monday.  An officer will guard Westerfield's casket during the visitation and service.  Since he was removed from the crime scene Sunday, an officer has stood vigil over him.  The officers standing vigil and serving in the honor guard come from all over the state, Hamer said, and many have served in the same roles at prior funerals of law enforcement officers.

Organizers are expecting between 600 and 1,000 law enforcement personnel and hundreds of others at the Monday funeral service, so heavy traffic is likely in the vicinity of 4th Av and Broadway.  As a result, several traffic restrictions will be in effect before, during and after Monday's funeral service.  Organizers advised drivers to avoid the area unless they will be attending the funeral.  Broadway between 4th and 5th Avenues will be closed for a stretch, as will 5th Av between Broadway and Madison St.  The Broadway exit on the Indiana Toll Road will be closed between 12:30 and 2 p.m. as the large funeral procession is expected to wind its way through Gary, Merrillville and Schererville during that time.

Westerfield's funeral procession route will head west on 4th Av, then south on Buchanan St, before heading east on 5th Av, and then south on Broadway for a long stretch.  Eventually, it will head west on U.S. 30 and south on Cline Av before it arrives at Chapel Lawn.

The procession will make two significant stops along Broadway in Gary.  At 1301 Broadway, the procession will pause before a shrouded police cruiser and an honor guard.  The old police station was where Westerfield was sworn in as a police officer 19 years ago.  Gary Police will issue a 1042 officially calling Westerfield out of service over the scanner.  At 44th Av, two fire truck ladders will have a Garrison flag unfurled for Westerfields funeral coach to go underneath.

During the procession, Broadway will be closed to all southbound traffic.  Northbound traffic will be limited to the right-hand lane with no left turns allowed.

Westerfield, an Army veteran, will be buried with several military touches, including a 21-gun salute, a bugle playing taps, a flag-folding ceremony and presentation of the flag to his family.


Residents Where Officer Slain Report Crime On the Rise
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[11 Jul 2014]

GARY Despite a heavy police and press presence this week, the West Side neighborhood where a veteran Gary police officer was shot to death Sunday morning always has been a quiet one, longtime residents said Thursday.

But some said forces beyond their control appear to be at work new residents who are changing the area and not for the better.

Officer Jeffrey Westerfield, 47, was found dead about 6 a.m. Sunday in his squad car in the 2600 block of Van Buren Pl.  It's a street that resembles much of Gary occupied single-family homes mingled with a few abandoned ones, with many of the residents having deep roots in the neighborhood.

Their descriptions of the neighborhood varied, but some residents interviewed Thursday agreed theyre working through some challenges.

"We get gunfire here all the time," said Willie Harris, whos lived in his home since 1944.  "If youre not doing anything with the young people, what would you expect from young people?  They're going to get in trouble."  Harris said he's frustrated with public officials, from the mayor to precinct committeemen to county prosecutors and judges in not doing more to provide jobs and deter crime.  "I got to run to the car, and I run back," Harris said as he sat on his front steps.  "Nobody's standing for Gary.  They need to put the city to work."  He attributed rising danger in the area to new residents, some of whom have moved from Chicago after the massive public housing complexes there were torn down.

As an unmarked police car rolled down a nearby alley, Brenda Perry, a resident of the neighborhood for 15 years, said she feels safe and even walks to her job at a nearby store.  "It's basically a quiet neighborhood," she said as she visited neighbors.  There was a house nearby where young people caused problems, but a police raid this week cleared it out, Perry said.

Having lived for 70 years on the block, Irma Davis said she has seen it go through major change, pointing to an influx of former Chicago residents, but it is still a quiet place.  "It's a lot of new neighbors here, and a lot of people come from Chicago, when they tore down those (public housing) buildings," Davis said, holding her screen door open slightly.  "I used to know everybody on the block.  No.  I don't feel safe.  I used to not lock my door, but now you have to."


Man Shot to Death in Gary
#19 and Counting
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[11 Jul 2014]

GARY | A 22-year-old man was shot and killed in Gary early Friday.

J'Amir Wiley of the 2200 block of Pennsylvania St in Gary was pronounced dead at 12:10 a.m. in the 2100 block of Carolina St, a Lake County Coroner's office report said.  The cause of death was listed as multiple gunshot wounds suffered in a homicide.

Gary police were not available for comment early Friday.

The shooting death is bot one in a string of homicides in the city this week.


Breast Implant Serial Numbers Led to ID of Slain C.P. Flight Attendant
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Lauri Harvey Keagle
[10 Jul 2014]

CROWN POINT | A serial number on the breast implants of a United Airlines flight attendant from Crown Point found murdered in the trunk of her car in Gary led to her positive identification by officials.  Photo and dental records also were used to help obtain an identification, Frey said.

Pathologist Dr. Young Kim conducted the autopsy Tuesday on DeCarol Deloney-Cain, 54.  Deliopoulos said he knew breast implants have serial numbers in part because of his wife Karla's own experience with breast cancer.

"I did some research and found the manufacturer in the Netherlands," Deliopoulos said.  Representatives there told him the implants were sold through a distributor in California.  The California company traced the implants and said they were sold to a Munster physician.  Deliopoulos contacted the physician who confirmed the implants were used in surgery on Deloney-Cain.

Implants of any kind can be helpful in the identification process, he said.  "It's all part of the identification process," Deliopoulos said.  "If someone has had a hip replacement or has a rod in their back, they have an identification number and we can try to work the case through that."

Deliopoulos said he has been in constant communication with Gary detectives and Lake County crime scene investigators working the case, who executed a search warrant and retrieved evidence at the victim's home on Wednesday.  The deputy coroner said he is driven to provide closure for families in John and Jane Doe cases.  "The feeling when I got word and got the paperwork that linked it back to her was incredible," Deliopoulos said.  "I'd been talking to the brother of the deceased, and he said, 'Thank God for all you did.'"


Person of Interest in Officer's Murder Remains in Custody
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Elvia Malagon
[10 Jul 2014]

CROWN POINT | The person of interest in the fatal shooting of Gary police Officer Jeffrey Westerfield remains in the Lake County Jail, officials said.

Patti Van Til, spokeswoman for the Lake County Sheriff's Department, said the person of interest remains in the Lake County Jail pending a warrant from Porter County.  The man, who has not been identified by officials, has not been charged in Westerfield's homicide.

Van Til said said it would be up to Porter County officials as to when the man would be transferred to the Porter County Jail.

Porter County Sheriff David Lain said the department has 10 business days to pick up suspects being held in other jurisdictions.  He could not say when the man would be transferred to the Porter County Jail because of security concerns.


Memorial Ride Honors Slain Gary Officer
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
[10 Jul 2014]

GARY | The processions roar could be felt for blocks as the motorcycles filed in, one after another, to the Gary Police Department parking lot.

More than 300 motorcycles and at least 50 cars, including many from law enforcement agencies, took part Wednesday in the Indiana Patriot Guards procession to honor Gary Officer Jeff Westerfield, who was found Sunday morning shot to death in his police car on 26th Av near Van Buren Pl in Gary.

Wednesday's ride started in Portage and wound its way around the Gary police station, where hundreds of Gary officers and mourners had waited for the procession to arrive.

Many different groups from Northwest Indiana took part in the ride, which was no doubt something Westerfield would've wanted.  He served in the Patriot Guard, said its organizer, Dale "Doc" Ready, of Lowell.

Ready was thrilled to see so many other law enforcement agencies involved in the event.  But mostly, he was touched by the love shared among the Gary officers themselves.  "Despite all the tragedy this city has seen, so many of them are out here," Ready said.  "And we know that there's really not much we can do for the family right now, but we hope this is a good start for them to see how much everyone loved him."

Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram Sr. said he was amazed by the strong show of support for the Westerfield family and the police community.  "I have never seen anything like it," he said.  "It's a great tribute, really great.  It shows unity and solidarity among law enforcement.  Very, very impressive."

Ready said the Indiana Patriot Guard will be on hand for Westerfield's wake Sunday and will take part in the drive to the cemetery Monday.


Gary's People Are City's Greatest Asset
Compiled From a Post-Trib Op-Ed by Rebecca L. Wyatt
[10 Jul 2014]

The city of Gary's most outstanding asset is its people, but it has other important attributes.

Gary has the best beaches, sitting on the south shore of Lake Michigan with Chicagos magnificent skyline as a background.  The city has the Gary-Chicago Airport and proximity to Chicago.  Major highways and rail lines make Gary a transportation and freight hub, and U.S. Steel continues to produce a significant portion of the worlds steel.

Gary has been called the City of the Century.  Unfortunately, that refers to much of the 20th century.

After decades of decline, Gary today has roughly 20,000 abandoned buildings, crumbling infrastructure, a shrinking population, troubled schools, high unemployment and a persistent crime problem.  Consequently, attracting business and industry and regaining the well-paying jobs that were lost many years ago is an arduous and challenging task.

All of this means that living in Gary is not easy.  However, despite these impediments, people are living in Gary, working and raising families in Gary.  Perseverance, tenacity and courage describe the residents of Gary, as they meet and overcome obstacles on a daily basis.

For example, a Memorial Day parade marched on rutted streets, passing Gary's abandoned and boarded buildings on Broadway with a marching band, a drum corps and families with children lining the streets to watch.  We see the students at West Side High School win the state championship in track when they did not even have a track on which they could practice.

The Wirt-Emerson VPA Academy dance majors performed their final recital in the spring on the gymnasium floor because the stage lighting was falling down in the school auditorium.  The dance troupe mesmerized an audience seated on folding chairs and bleachers for more than two hours demonstrating every form of dance, smoothly transitioning from ballet to modern dance to tap.  And several of the numbers were the students own choreography.

The following week, the Wirt-Emerson jazz band performed its spring concert in a sweltering, second-floor choir room because the auditorium could not be used.  Yet, some very talented, passionate teachers encouraged the band members, who overcame the heat and cramped quarters to perform magnificently playing old favorites, new compositions and improvised solos.

These are just a few examples of how Gary's dedicated teachers and students are succeeding against the odds.

Our students are our future, and they meet their daily challenge of inadequate resources with the help of loving and committed families, teachers and community leaders who are meeting and overcoming similar obstacles in their lives as well.

Despite Gary's myriad problems and steady decline, its people remain strong, resilient and determined to persevere and thrive.  They are Gary's most enduring and outstanding asset in the city's continuing effort to overcome its hardships and improve its residents quality of life.

Rebecca L. Wyatt is a resident of the Miller section of Gary and has a law practice based in the city.


Sheriff Puts up $10K Reward
Compiled From a Post-Trib Staff Report
[10 Jul 2014]

GARY Sheriff John Buncich, whose office is running the investigation into the shooting death Sunday of a Gary police officer, on Wednesday offered a $10,000 reward in the case.

A news release from Buncich offered the reward for "any information leading to the conviction of suspect(s)" in the shooting death of Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield.

During an appearance Tuesday with Gov. Mike Pence in Gary, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said she was "fairly confident" that a man being held since Sunday night in the Lake County Jail was the person responsible for Westerfields death.

Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram Sr. said he wasnt made aware of the reward until Buncich made the announcement Wednesday afternoon.  "County has been handling the case, so other than bullet points, we arent being made aware of how theyre handling it.  And I dont want to speculate," Ingram said.


Body Found in Gary ID'd as Crown Point Woman
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carole Carlson
[10 Jul 2014]

GARY The dead woman found in the trunk of an abandoned car on Monday has been identified as Decarol Deloney-Cain, 54, a flight attendant and mother of three children from Crown Point.

The Lake County Coroners Office released her name Wednesday, saying she had been stabbed multiple times and suffered blunt force trauma to the head.

On Monday, police received a call about a car on a gravel road in the 2000 block of East 22nd Avenue.  They found the decomposed body of a woman, wrapped in some type of material, when they opened the trunk.

Todd Deloney said no one had heard from his sister since July 3, but family members werent immediately concerned because she flew international flights for United Airlines in Chicago, where she's been a flight attendant for 27 years.  He said Deloney-Cain, a 1978 East Chicago Roosevelt graduate, lived in Crown Point since 2005.  He said she's the mother of two adult sons and a teenage daughter.

"She was a very vivacious woman," Deloney said.  "She had a quest for traveling.  She was very devoted to her children and her immediate family.  When you met the girl you were never a stranger."

According to public documents, Deloney-Cain was in the midst of a divorce set to be finalized Aug. 14.


Roosevelt Utility Bills Estimated at $1 Million
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Carmen McCollum
[9 Jul 2014]

GARY | The utility bills at Gary Roosevelt, where school has not been in session since late June, amount to about $1 million.

The water was turned off at the Roosevelt College and Career Academy June 23 for nonpayment of the water bill, and students were sent home.  The water remains off and the bill has not been paid.

Gary Attorney Tracy Coleman, who represents the Gary Community School Corp., said Wednesday the Indiana American Water bill is about $141,000. The Northern Indiana Public Service Co. bill is estimated at $860,000.  Coleman said NIPSCO, which covers the gas and electricity in the building, remains on.

Coleman said the utility bills for Roosevelt have not been paid since July 1, 2012, when private management company EdisonLearning began operating the high school.  EdisonLearning was hired by the Indiana Department of Education to provide academic services at Gary Roosevelt after several years of academic failure under the Gary Community School Corp.

The acrimonious relationship between EdisonLearning and the Gary Community School Corp. continues.  The two have bickered over boiler problems, student records and other issues.  The school was closed several days during the winter due to a lack of heat.

EdisonLearning filed suit in Marion County Court over the issues and an agreement was set up between the two.  Gary district officials have acknowledged they are responsible for boiler repairs, but said EdisonLearning maintenance people should be responsible for correctly operating the equipment on a day-to-day basis.  However, the utility bills remain in dispute.

Cheryl Pruitt, superintendent of Gary Community School Corp., said she has reached out to Thom Jackson, the new chief executive officer of EdisonLearning.  She will meet with him next week.  "We are looking at having a partnership, a collaborative relationship to take care of the issues so that we can all be successful," she said.  "Our goal is to work together.  We are both committed to making certain that these children get what they need.  All children.  We have some things that are outstanding, situations that have been long-standing.  We're going to spend some time next week working together to come to some kind of agreement on how we can solve these issues."

Jackson and Pruitt have "scheduled a meeting next Thursday to discuss how to reset the relationship between the two entities and design a partnership that is in the best interests of the students and the community," said Michael Serpe, EdisonLearning spokesman.  "In that vein, they have been in daily and direct discussions for the last two days, trying to get the water turned on and to address other issues.  Both are very hopeful."

35 students were sent home June 23 when the water supply to the school was cut.  They resumed classes a week later at the Gary Area Career Center.


Police, Vols Search for Evidence in Gary Officers Killing
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Ruth Ann Krause
[9 Jul 2014]

GARY -- Clutching chainsaws, weed eaters, machetes and rakes, 130 law enforcement officers and volunteers turned out Wednesday to search for evidence in the shooting death of a Gary police officer found in his squad car Sunday morning.

Local, state and federal officers cleared brush, felled trees and used metal detectors in their search for evidence in the death of Gary police Patrolman Jeffrey Westerfield, who was found by a passerby mortally wounded before 6 a.m. on 26th Av near Van Buren Pl.

Westerfield, a 19-year veteran and father of four daughters, died on his 47th birthday.  Lake County police have a person of interest in custody on an unrelated case for a probation revocation.

Crime scene investigators were called to a home in the 2600 block of Van Buren Pl and removed potential evidence, police said.  "We are leaving no stone unturned, literally," Lake County police Cmdr. Guy Mikulich told the group, which assembled at about 10 a.m. in the parking lot at nearby Roosevelt High School before traveling about one block to begin cutting through weed-choked yards in the neighborhood.  Front loaders, dump trucks and other heavy equipment were pressed into service as officers from agencies throughout Lake and Porter counties cleared the area so a more thorough search could be conducted.  About 20 officers from various departments searched the same area on Monday.

On Tuesday, police helicopters checked rooftops and officers searched storm drains for possible evidence.  Officers also demolished a rickety, abandoned garage in the 2600 block of Van Buren St.

James Joyner, a resident of the block since 1945, watched the progress from his well-tended yard.  Officers carefully moved branches of Joyners hibiscus bushes and tiger lilies as part of the methodical search.  The officers cut branches and tall weeds and piled rubbish in the alley behind his home.  "Im glad to see what theyre doing, but I wish it was for a different reason," said Joyner, 79.

Members of the Illiana Search and Rescue sent out teams of volunteers to aid the officers.  Director Mark R. Price, a former bailiff in Lake County criminal court, said his teams are rarely involved in law enforcement searches but are willing to help in any way possible.  Many of the volunteers took a day off of work to assist.


Mayor Fairly Confident Man in Custody is Cop Killer
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
                    and a nwiTimes Report by Sarah Reese
[9 Jul 2014]

GARY Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said police are "fairly confident" the man they have in custody is the one who shot and killed officer Jeffrey Westerfield early Sunday morning.

With Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and first lady Karen Pence by her side, Freeman-Wilson said during a Tuesday afternoon news conference that the man, who would have been released today from a 48-hour hold, is continuing to be held on a previous warrant for failure to appear on a probation violation.  He was taken into custody several hours after the shooting.  He has not been charged.  "What we really want is to have everything buttoned down before" charges are filed, she said.

Two other men taken into custody Sunday, meanwhile, were released Monday, Freeman-Wilson said.  However, officials arent ruling out the possibility that others were involved in the shooting of the 19-year veteran police officer.

Gary officials said at Tuesday's news conference that Westerfield, who turned 47 on Sunday, was following up an earlier Sunday morning domestic call that resulted in gunshots being fired.  A shot was fired by the person of interest during that earlier domestic disturbance call, she said.  Freeman-Wilson declined to say who, if anyone, was the target of that gunshot.  The man in custody, she said, was involved in that incident but no one was hurt.

Ingram said after the news conference that several officers responded at 4:03 a.m. Sunday to the domestic disturbance call.  Ingram said investigators are operating on a theory that Westerfield returned to the area alone to search for a suspect.  He said he couldn't confirm details about Westerfield's communication with dispatchers in the time between calls.

Chief Wade Ingram Sr. said his officers are "grief-stricken" and concerned about their safety going forward.  The department will be swearing in 15 new officers next month, and Ingram is looking into pairing the officers together on night and overnight shifts.  The department has also taken several officers off special detail and increased street patrols for the foreseeable future.  "With the new officers, we will have hired 25 officers since November to keep up with the rate of attrition," Ingram said.

Freeman-Wilson added that Pence authorized the Indiana State Police to offer technical assistance to the Gary Police Department and they were involved in the investigation Sunday.  The U.S. Department of Justice also will deliver its recommendations for stabilizing the city to the department later this month.


Authorities Expect to ID Body Soon
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michael Gonzalez
[9 Jul 2014]

CROWN POINT Authorities on Tuesday said they hope to soon identify the body of a woman that was discovered Monday by Gary police in the trunk of a car in a swampy area off the 2000 block of East 22nd Avenue.

Lake County Chief Deputy Coroner George Deliopoulos said his office should have an identification of the woman by Wednesday.  He said the office has determined the cause of death to be from blunt force trauma to the head.

"We're going through photos on possible workplace identifications that were in the car," Deliopoulos said.  "We're also processing to get her fingerprinted, and we're trying to get dental records."  A family with a loved one missing from Crown Point has come forward to talk to authorities, he said.

The decomposed body was found in a red, two-door 2008 Toyota Solara that had a key still in the ignition, said Gary Detective Richard McClelland, the lead investigator on the case.  Her body was wrapped in some type of material.

"I'm very interested in anyone who may know ... the last whereabouts of the vehicle before it got found in that swamp," he said.

Anyone with information on the case or the recovered car should call McClelland at (219) 881-1214.


Casino Revenues Show June Doldrums
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Karen Caffarini
[9 Jul 2014]

This year's trend of monthly year-over-year improvements in casino revenues hit a snag in June, with the entire Chicago market showing a 9.5% decline over June 2013.

"The market in general looked more like what we were seeing in March and April," Chris Albrecht, assistant general manager of Horseshoe Hammond, said Tuesday. "The softness continues, not just on our side of the border, but in the region in general," Albrecht said.

Albrecht said revenues from Northwest Indianas five casinos dropped a little more than 8% in June, going from about $83.7 million to $79.1 million.  The Horseshoes decline was about 10%.

Albrecht said the recent good weather could have played a role, as more people might have decided to do outdoor activities after being cooperd up inside for months during the winter.

Ameristar Casino in East Chicago saw the only year-over-year increase in revenues in June, going from $16.2 million to $17.6 million.  Revenues at Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City dipped from $13.5 million to $13.2 million, Horseshoe Hammonds revenues dropped from $38.4 million to $35.1 million and Majestic Stars two casinos dropped from $15.6 million to $13.2 million.

Before June, Northwest Indianas five casinos were showing softer total declines each month since January, when a combination of a soft economy and cold, snowy winter resulted in a 17% drop in revenues over the previous January.  In May, combined revenues from the five casinos declined 3.6%.  The overall revenues were boosted by Ameristar and Blue Chip, both of which showed modest increases over the previous May.

Albrecht said a busy three-day Fourth of July weekend should help boost Julys numbers for the Northwest Indiana market.


More Than 700 Jobs Need to Be Filled
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[9 Jul 2014]

GARY | More than 700 jobs are available, and many need to be filled now.

Job seekers will get their chance to land those positions Thursday at the 2014 NW Indiana City Wide Diversity Hiring and Luncheon.  The job fair will take place between 1 and 4 p.m. in the Lakeside Room on the second floor of the Genesis Convention Center, 1 Genesis Center Plaza.

Sponsors include U.S. Steel, NiSource, United States Postal Service, Horseshoe Casino, Luke Oil, and Ivy Tech Community College.  Businesses that are hiring and will be in attendance include Standard Bank and Trust Co., Peoples Bank, Speedway, Sears, Staff Source, and the Albanese candy factory.

The job fair is free, as is parking on the street or in the garage just west of the convention center.  Attendees are encouraged to dress professionally and bring resumes. To register or upload a resume in advance, visit www.localcareerfairs.com/indiana.html.


Rudy Clay Road Naming Ceremony Set for Friday
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Dan Carden
[8 Jul 2014]

Gary officials will unveil a street sign honoring the late Mayor Rudy Clay at 10 a.m. Friday on the front steps of City Hall, 401 Broadway.

The Indiana General Assembly designated Gary's Fifth Avenue, also known as U.S. Highway 20, as the Mayor Rudolph "Rudy" Clay Memorial Highway following the 77-year-old's death from cancer on June 4, 2013.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, will lead Friday's naming ceremony featuring reminiscences of the mutton-chopped former mayor, state senator, county commissioner and Lake County Democratic chairman.

"His perseverance and dedication to the people of Gary and his love for the state of Indiana are iconic and deserve recognition," said state Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   As has been commented on previously, Gary now has two streets bearing the moniker of Clay!


Steelworkers Union Fighting Against Imports
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[8 Jul 2014]

Steel imports are up 33% so far this year, while even more than 20% of U.S. steelmaking capacity has been sitting idle.

The United Steelworkers union says enough is enough.  Union president Leo Gerard, along with U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi, recently testified before Congress that trade enforcement was needed to save as many as 500,000 U.S. jobs nationwide, either in the steel industry or supported by it.

The United Steelworkers filed a trade case asking for tariffs against unfairly traded Chinese passenger and light truck tires.  Union members from across the country, including in Northwest Indiana, have been emailing members of Congress to demand an end to dumping and currency manipulation that allows China to export goods at artificially low prices.  The United Steelworkers union filed the most recent trade case after imported tires from China doubled to 50.8 million last year, after duties expired.  The imports rose by another 24.6% this year.

A key ruling is expected this week on a flood of cheap imports of steel pipe that's used by the oil and natural gas industries.

"Our fight for jobs in the sector is far from over," said USW International Vice President Tom Conway.  "China is expanding its industry and has targeted the U.S. market as the place to dump product and subsidize sales.  As China expands production and increases employment in this sector, it is our workers who pay the price with job losses."

Gerard recently lobbied Congress to enforce trade rules and stop foreign competitors from dumping illegally subsidized products in the United States, with the aim of undermining domestic mills.  He told the Senate Finance Committee that union members are the most productive steelworkers in the world, making steel at less than one man-hour per ton.

U.S. Steel mills release one third less carbon per ton of output than their Chinese counterparts.  Billions of dollars in investment have resulted in cleaner factories and increased productivity.  Mills have become so efficient and technologically advanced that steelworkers are more likely to be monitoring computer control panels than working on the shop floor.   But manufacturing, including steel, has been downsized and outsourced as the result of predatory trade practices, Gerard said. About 60,000 factories have been shuttered, and 5 million workers have been laid off since 2000.

"The USW has been as successful as it can be in its efforts to counter unfair trade, but it's a losing game," he said.  "Indeed, the only way we win is by losing.  Lost profits, lost jobs, closed factories, hollowed out communities that is the price the trade laws demand to show sufficient injury to provide relief.  In the year or more it takes to bring a trade case and obtain relief, foreign companies can continue to flood the market.  By the time that relief may be provided, the industry is often a shadow of its former self.  Too many workers have lost their jobs and their families and the communities in which they live have paid a heavy, and often irrevocable, price."

The U.S. government must take more initiative to enforce trade agreements, he said.  Manufacturing is crucially important to the economy because factory jobs pay on average 22% more than service sector jobs, and the sector accounts for 70% of research and development.  Every dollar of U.S. manufacturing output generates an additional $1.37 of economic activity, more than any other sector, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

Better trade trade agreements would allow U.S. manufacturers to export to more overseas markets and not flood the domestic market with imports, Gerard said.  Unfortunately, the results of todays trade policies are measured by unacceptably high trade deficits, shuttered factories and shattered dreams," he said.  "Some may point out that exports are rising, and thats a good thing.  But, they fail to mention that imports are rising as well and the difference means lost jobs, lost production, lower growth and rising income inequality."


Great Lakes Steel Production Up by 2,000T
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Joseph S. Pete
[8 Jul 2014]

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region inched up to 654,000T last week.  Local production rose by 2,000Tons, or about 0.3%.

At the same time, overall U.S. steel production dipped slightly.  U.S. output fell by 0.5% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.

Production in the Southern District, the country's second biggest steel-producing region, dropped to 640,000T, down from 651,000T a week earlier.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.853 million tons, down from 1.863 million tons a week earlier.  Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 77% last week, down from 77.5% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate was unchanged from a year ago.  U.S. mills have produced 48.8 million tons of steel so far this year, which is exactly what they had made at the same point in 2013.

U.S. steel imports decreased by 16% in May, according to a preliminary estimate from the American Iron and Steel Institute.  Total steel imports are however up 33% so far this year, and finished imports are up 26%.  Imports have captured 27% of the finished market share and 28% of the overall market share through the end of June.


State Pledging $425,000 in Tax Incentive to IL Company Moving to Gary
Compiled From a nwiTimes Staff Report
[8 Jul 2014]

GARY | The Indiana Economic Development Corporation is pledging $425,000 in conditional tax credits to an Illinois company moving to Gary.

The IEDC on Tuesday announced the conditional tax credits for Superior Truss and Panel Inc. of Markham, Ill.  The performance-based tax credits are conditional on the company hiring Indiana workers.

The company, which manufactures and installs commercial building roof trusses and wall panels, plans to invest $2.6 million to construct, equip and relocate operations to two, 24,000-square-foot buildings at 7592 E. Melton Road in Gary.  The move is expected to create up to 52 new jobs by 2016.

In early June, The Gary City Council approved a tax abatement for the company to move to the Miller area.  Superior Truss and Panel will receive a 100% personal property tax abatement for 10 years and 70% real estate tax abatement for 10 years, which equates to a savings for 10 years of $133,000.  The abatement will help the company defray the cost of moving from Markham to Gary, which Superior estimates at about $200,000.
[COMMENT -GDY]:   This appears to be a good deal for Gary and a great deal for Superior Truss.


Gary Police Chief Reviewing Patrol Policy After Officer's Fatal Shooting
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Sarah Reese
[7 Jul 2014]

GARY | A policy requiring Gary police to ride alone while patrolling the city's streets is under review following the slaying Sunday of a city officer, Police Chief Wade Ingram said Monday.

The review comes after Officer Jeffrey Westerfield, 47, of Gary, was gunned down in his squad car early Sunday in the 2600 block of Van Buren Street.

Ingram said Gary officers ride alone primarily because the department has more than 50 square miles to patrol.  He could not immediately provide information about how many patrol cars were on the city's streets the night Westerfield was killed.

Ingram said he would like to implement a policy that would allow officers to ride in pairs.  "We did it in Chicago, we rode in pairs," said Ingram, who served on the Chicago department from 1985 to 2009.  "It's an officer safety factor when you have two officers present instead of one.  It would have made a difference with Jeff, if he had a partner."  Chicago police generally ride in pairs on evening and overnight shifts, a department spokeswoman said.

East Chicago officers ride alone, but the area they cover is a small fraction of what Gary police patrol, East Chicago Police Chief Mark Becker said.  It's difficult to compare the two departments because of differences in demographics and land mass, he said.


Coroner Confirms "Jane Doe" Found in Gary
# 17 and Counting
Compiled From a NorthWest Indiana Gazette Report by Ken Davidson
[7 Jul 2014]

The office of Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey has confirmed that a body was found in Gary, Indiana today.  The manner of death is listed as unknown for the female body.  There is no identification and the victim is described as a black female.  If you or someone you know is missing a family member, you should contact the office of the Coroner.

While the case is not currently being ruled a homicide, the fact that the body was found a) in the trunk of an abandoned car, b) on a gravel road behind New Nazareth Baptist Church, 1626 E. 21st Av (in an area where homicide victims have been dumped in the past), would lead to the conclusion that this is a homicide.


They Got Him!  Police Make Arrest in Officer Slaying
Compiled From a NorthWest Indiana Gazette Report by Ken Davidson
[7 Jul 2014]

Sources close to the investigation have informed the Gazette that police have made an arrest in conjunction with the early morning slaying of Gary Police Officer Jeff Westerfield.  Few details have been released but police were searching for Carl Blount of Gary.  Blount was reportedly shot in the altercation which brought police to the scene at approximately 5:50 am today.

UPDATE:   Sources are now confirming that the man arrested is Carl Blount and that he is in the custody of the Indiana State Police.  He was taken to a local hospital where he is under guard.

Blount had threatened officers in the past.  In 2012, Portage Police arrested Carl Blount for battery on his then girlfriend.  While being transported to the police station, Portage Police reported that Blount kicked an officer and threatened them with physical harm.  Blount was also charged with strangulation on April 24, 2014 in Porter County Superior Court.  Details on that case were not readily available at this time.

All suspects are presumed innocent unless convicted in a court of law.  An arrest is not an indication of guilt.

The Gazette will continue to follow this story.


3 in Custody in Fatal Shooting of Gary Police Officer Westerfield
Compiled From a Chicago Tribune Report by Stephanie Baer and Rosemary Regina Sobol
[7 Jul 2014]

Authorities say they didn't have to go far to make three arrests in the fatal shooting of a Gary police officer:  Police found them all in a home less than a block away.

Sheriff John Buncich described one of the men as a "person of interest" in the slaying of Officer Jeffrey Westerfield, who was killed as he sat in his patrol car Sunday morning.  Buncich said the other two were arrested along with the suspect about 3 p.m. at a home in the 2600 block of Jackson St, around the corner from where Westerfield was killed.  "All three are being questioned," Buncich said Sunday evening.  No charges have been announced.

He said the department, which led the investigation, received a "series of tips" that led them to the residence.  "It was some good police work.  Very intense police work that paid off," he said.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ - At about 9 a.m., tactical teams as wells as state, local and federal law enforcement officials surrounded a house just a block-and-a-half from the intersection where Westerfield's body was found.  The entire area was shut down for nearly six hours.  According to ABC 7. At 3 p.m., the tactical teams moved on the house alongside an armored vehicle.  Some neighbors on the block say the house where the standoff occurred has visitors at all hours.

When authorities emerged from the house, they had taken three of its occupants into custody.  One of those arrested may have had a gunshot wound, but authorities say they were met with no resistance when they took the three men into custody.  'They're being taken into custody for interrogation,' said Lake County Sheriff John Buncich


Gary Officer Murdered; Person of Interest, Two Others in Custody
# 16 and Counting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Teresa Auch Schultz and Michelle L. Quinn
           and a nwiTimes Staff Report
[7 Jul 2014]

GARY The shooting death of a veteran Gary police officer and "happy family man" early Sunday morning shocked the city, and set off a manhunt that resulted in "a person of interest" and two others being taken into custody by late afternoon, officials said.

Police had not identified the person as of late Sunday night because he had not yet been charged, but they expected to release more details at a press conference Monday, police said.

Patrolman Westerfield was found unresponsive in his patrol car at 26th Av and Van Buren Pl after a citizen called police at 5:45 a.m., police Chief Wade Ingram Jr. said.  He had been with the department since Aug. 29, 1995.

Jeffrey Brady Westerfield, a Gary resident and father of four who was engaged to be married next month.  Sunday was Westerfield's 47th birthday.

In a news release issued Sunday night, Ingram said the "person of interest" in custody of the Lake County Sheriffs Department had been brought to police attention "as a result of a domestic call."  He did not elaborate, saying police expected to release more details Monday.

Police took the three people into custody after raiding a house in the 2600 block of Jackson Street about 3 p.m.  One was taken to Methodist Hospitals Southlake with a gunshot wound to the leg, Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said Sunday afternoon.  It wasn't clear who shot the person or whether it was the "person of interest."

Police were unsure whether Westerfield was specifically targeted and about how many times he was shot, but bullet shells were recovered, Ingram said.  Ingram said Westerfield had responded to a call in that area about a couple of hours before he was killed.  He said he believes the call was for shots fired.  He did not know the last time Westerfield made contact with anyone else.

A local resident who noticed the car shortly before 6 a.m. and that Westerfield was not responsive called police, Ingram said.  Patrolman Daniel Perryman discovered the scene about 5:50 a.m.

Westerfield was pronounced dead at 6:36 a.m. of a gunshot wound, and his death was ruled a homicide, according to the Lake County Coroners office.

Jeffrey Brady Westerfield, a Gary resident and father of four who was engaged to be married next month.  Sunday was Westerfield's 47th birthday.  Ingram said Westerfield had "four lovely daughters."  His fiance, Denise Sheaks-Cather, said he also was like a father to her five children, who were to become his stepchildren when they got married next month.

Ingram said the Major Crimes Task Force and Indiana State Police also assisted.  Agents from several federal departments, including the ATF, FBI, DEA and U.S. Marshals also offered their help.  Off-duty Gary police and even some on vacation rushed to the area to help in the investigation.

Ingram said his department is in "deep mourning."  "They are taking it extremely hard," the chief said.

The last Gary police officer killed in the line of duty was Patrolman Benjamin Wilcher Jr., who died in August 2007 when his car crashed during a pursuit, police said.  The last Gary officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty was Dorian Rorex, who was killed in 1998 while pursuing a drug suspect.  That killing occurred near the 2500 block of Polk, which is just about four blocks from where Westerfield was killed.  Lt. George Yaros was murdered in August of 1981 when responding to a burglary alarm at the Glen Park Branch of the Gary National Bank.

Councilwoman Kim Robinson, D-5th, who lives within walking distance of the scene, said the shooting was senseless.  "I know Jeff ... anybody out here putting their lives on the line, and to have it taken so senselessly is a huge concern," Robinson said.  "It could be some young kid on a dare, so then you throw one life away and another becomes worth not much anymore.  And for what?"

Robinson worked with Westerfield when she was a probation officer. She said he was a happy family man.  "He loved his job," she said.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said he was also personable with his fellow officers.  "I know he loved his job but he also loved his other officers," she said.

Ingram said that as of 10 days ago, homicides in the city were down 54% compared with last year.  But Westerfield's death was the second homicide in Gary this weekend.

"It's discouraging," Freeman-Wilson said, noting that an officers killing can be especially concerning to citizens.  She also called it a "blow" to recent efforts the city has taken to fight crime.  However, she said the fact that Gary has had long periods of time between homicides shows the city can fight the violence.  "We know that we can push back on this because we have," she said.

Sam Abegg, president of the Gary Fraternal Order of Police, said he was shocked by the news. "It's surreal," he said.  Abegg worked with Westerfield for five years when he was in patrol and said everyone loved working with him.  "He was someone you wanted to have there with you," Abegg said.

Officers are sad but also angry, he said.  Although officers face risk no matter what, he said, the city's low staffing of officers doesnt help.  Ingram said the city is authorized to have 246 officers but currently employs somewhere in the low 230s.  "It shouldn't have come to this," Abegg said of getting the city to hire more officers.  He hopes the city administration will now push for more officers, he said.  "If its not a wake-up call, then the problems with the city are more serious than I had thought," Abegg said.

Stunned neighbors who live in the block where the slain officer was found in his car spent much of their Sunday standing near the closed street intersection, observing as investigators gathered evidence.

"Even when you think your house is in a safer neighborhood of Gary, it doesn't mean anything if you don't really know your neighbors," said Walker Davis, 42, who lives just a few houses away from the crime scene.  "I was born and raised in this neighborhood.  And now, as the older generations are no longer in these homes where these same people lived for years and years, people just come and go and you never really know who is living next door to you or what they are up to."

Felix Ross, 33, who also lives on the same block where Sunday's shooting occurred, said neighbors often have been suspicious of new residents.

"This shooting of the police officer happened just down the street from a church and on a Sunday morning," Ross said.  "If the police aren't safe in these neighborhoods of Gary, then none of us are safe."

Funeral services for Westerfield are still pending.


Gary Woman Found Dead at Home
# 15 and Counting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Carrie Napoleon
[6 Jul 2014]

GARY A 22-year-old Gary woman was found slain in her home in the 500 block of Buchanan St on Saturday morning.

Monsharay L. Townsend of 505 Buchanan St., Apartment 101, died of blunt force trauma, according to a news release from the Lake County Coroners Office.  She was pronounced dead at the scene at 10 a.m.

According to the coroner's office, Townsend was last seen alive about 5:30 a.m.  The cause of death was listed as homicide.


Mayor Sets Example by Cutting Grass
Compiled From a Gary Crusader Report by Carmen M. Woodson-Wray
[3 Jul 2014]

With the city of Gary in a deep financial dilemma, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson has taken it upon herself to see to it that the citys environmental needs are being met; even to the point of having to do it herself.

Part of the 5x5x5 in Black Oak, Mayor Freeman-Wilson was out at 6:30 a.m. early Saturday emphasizing the Good Neighbor Program that she sees paying off already.

The mayor's Good Neighbor Program is an idea she created to go throughout each neighborhood in the city to clean its vacant lots, cut high standing grass and see that some of the abandoned homes are torn down.  The hope is that residents in those communities will join in on her campaign and see that the neighborhoods remain cleaned and take over after she starts the effort.

The mayor, along with a team of six Summer Youth Program workers, began in the 6600 block of West 25th Av and worked their way down to the 6700 block of West 25th Av cleaning debris from area lots, cutting waist-high grass in and around abandoned homes and making sure the neighborhoods were unpolluted.  Her goal is to hopefully encourage the neighbors in the area to take on the task of maintaining the areas they clean.

A neighbor adjacent to one of the sites came over to show his appreciation to the mayor.  Ed Deavin, the neighbor said, "it will help the neighborhood to look much better."

The mayor said, "Mr. Deavin said he used to cut the grass next to his home but it got out of hand.  What we are going to do is cut it and tear the house down thats half way burned.  He promised that he would maintain it.  Thats what we are really trying to demonstrate."

The mayor said there are a lot of people in the community who cut grass and cut lots next to them, but then there are too many people who think its the city's responsibility.  She said, "What I try to explain to people is that it is the responsibility of people who have either died or their heirs, but we can't hold dead people responsible.  We've got to come up with a way that people in the city pitch in so the city can deal with the parks and the common areas that we are supposed to cut."

Deavin said he thought it was awesome to see the mayor out cleaning up in front of an abandon house and cutting its grass.  He said, "She has done better than any mayor we have had.  I told her if they cut the two lots next to mine I will keep them clean like I do my yard."  Deavin said he used to maintain those lots but the trees got too large for him to deal with that he couldn't get to them with his lawnmower.  He said, "If they knock the house down, I'll keep it spotless."

Summer worker Terrance Jennings said he was out on a Saturday morning cleaning the neighborhoods because he wanted to help the mayor.  Jennings said, "I want to see the city look clean and better. It is a blessing and privilege to work with the mayor."


Gary Working on Plans to Stem Violence, Mayor Says
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Sarah Reese
[3 Jul 2014]

GARY | A spike in gun violence in the past week has left Gary residents unsettled and city officials concerned.

Shootings in the Horace Mann neighborhood since June 26 have left three young men dead and two females wounded.  A fourth young man from Horace Mann was found shot to death Sunday in the 400 block of Fillmore St, about 11 blocks away from his home in the 400 block of Roosevelt St.

Across Gary, a total of four people have been killed and seven have been wounded by gunfire in the past week.

Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said late Wednesday that the city has been working for about a year with the business community, educators and law enforcement to address gun violence in the city.  Until two young men were shot to death June 26, the city had gone nearly two months without a homicide, she said.  "That led me to believe that we were in fact getting ahead of the curve," she said.

Before June 26, Gary had not had a homicide since Alvis Moore, 21, of the 1200 block of West 52nd Pl, was gunned down the afternoon of May 2 in a parking lot at the McDonald's at Fifth Av and Grant St.  The June 26 shooting deaths of Daven James, 17, and Derrion Estes, 23, are believed to be linked Moore's slaying, Freeman-Wilson said.

Gary police will continue to work closely with Indiana State Police, Lake County sheriff's police and several other departments involved with the Region STOP Team.  "It's not something that is going unnoticed," Freeman-Wilson said of the rise in shootings.  "We're going to do something about it."  A new partnership with the U.S. Marshals Service will be announced at a later date, she said.  Freeman-Wilson declined to release any details about the partnership.

Maurice Lewis, of the 400 block of Roosevelt St, said the violence in his neighborhood is "messed up."  The community needs more youth centers and jobs, he said.  Many young people in the community are misguided because they don't have a mother or father in their lives, he said.  "These kids are supposed to be our future," Lewis said.  "So where is our future headed?"

Lewis said increased police patrols can only do so much.  Law-abiding residents sometimes feel harassed when they're stopped during police sweeps and that leads to distrust between the community and its police, he said.  "Just because I live in a bad area don't make me a bad person," he said.

Kisha Jones, who said she was visiting relatives on the block, said she can't make sense of the violence and she doesn't think the youths who are perpetuating it can either.  In many cases, parents need to take more responsibility for providing guidance to their children, she said.

The mayor said gun violence among young black males has been on the rise across the country.  "We have been addressing this issue probably for the last year, looking at systematic issues relative to what are the underlying causes, what motivates largely young African-American males to take each others' lives," Freeman-Wilson said.


Man Found Shot to Death
# 14 and Counting
Compiled From a Post-Trib Report by Michelle L. Quinn
           and a nwiTimes Staff Report
[3 Jul 2014]

GARY | A Gary man has been identified as the victim in a Wednesday morning homicide.

Jaquan Strong, 19, of the 400 block Johnson St, was found in the 400 block of Roosevelt St, the Lake County Coroners Office confirmed Wednesday.  Earlier, Chief Deputy Coroner George Deliopoulos said the man was found at the residence at 9:44 a.m. with multiple gunshot wounds.

The victim was wearing a black T-shirt, khaki pants, black ankle socks and white with red trim Nike Michael Jordan gym shoes.

Strong's death marks the second shooting in the 400 block of Roosevelt Rd since Saturday.  A 22-year-old man from that same block was killed Sunday in a separate shooting 11 blocks away in the 400 block of Fillmore St, authorities said.


Councilman Would Curb 'Hoodlum' Motorcyclists at Park
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Rob Earnshaw
[2 Jul 2014]

GARY | Councilman Roy Pratt, D-at large, wants to put an end to what he calls "hoodlum" motorcyclists riding around Marquette Park like it's a "wild, woolly place."

Pratt expressed his concerns during Tuesday's City Council meeting.  He said he has heard reports from a local resident and has seen it for himself.  Pratt said the motorcycles have Illinois plates.

"We cannot have some people who are riding over from Chicago like they are riding into a local yokel town," he said.  "We cannot allow a group to take over that park."

Pratt said he is going to encourage the Gary police chief to be on guard for the motorcyclists, who he says are riding around the park at 80 mph and doing wheelies.

"It's frightening many people away from the park when it is a place for recreation," he said.  "I think we should send a message to those who want to come into our park do whatever you want to do and we'll do what we have to do."

Pratt planned to talk to Gary Police Chief Wade Ingram on Wednesday.  Gary police Cmdr. Michael Jackson said Wednesday he had not yet heard of any problems with motorcycles at the park.

Also addressing issues of noise and unruliness at the park was Councilwoman Mildred Shannon, D-1st, who said it was most likely being caused by outsiders.  She said those people "can come to Marquette Park on vacation and leave on probation."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   Those damn "FIBs!" 


Calumet Township Drops Lawsuit Blocking Griffith's Departure
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Bill Dolan
[1 Jul 2014]

GARY | The Calumet Township trustee has dropped a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a 2013 state law that could cut millions in assistance to Gary's neediest residents and let the town of Griffith leave the township.

Lawyers for Trustee Mary Elgin and Dwight Gardner, a Gary resident, filed a notice in U.S. District Court in Hammond Tuesday they want to dismiss litigation against state officials.  The state, which had been seeking the dismissal anyway, doesn't object to the township bowing out.  The federal judge over the matter typically would grant the dismissal in such a case.

Gary attorney Robert Lewis, who represented the trustee in court, said Tuesday he received instructions from her to end the litigation.  He declined further comment.  Elgin didn't respond to calls for comment.

Elgin filed the suit in January claiming the law, known as House Bill 1585, was improper special legislation to provide tax relief to the predominantly white town of Griffith at the expense of black Gary residents.  However, Elgin will be leaving office following her loss in the May Democratic primary to Kimberly "Kim" Robinson.

Robinson will face off Nov. 4 against Republican candidate Dorita P. Lee in the general election.  Robinson said Tuesday, if elected, she couldn't support continuing a lawsuit against the state that is unlikely to succeed.

Clorius Lay, a member of the Calumet Township board, said Tuesday he had wanted the lawsuit to continue to keep Griffith from leaving the township.  Griffith's taxes supply a significant portion of the township's operating fees.  Griffith officials say their taxpayers pay more than $1.7 million annually to support Elgin's poor relief operation, although the town's residents get back less than $11,000 of that for their own needs.

The disputed legislation culminated in years of lobbying by Griffith town officials to divorce themselves from a township trustee who they complained leans too heavily on their community to fund overgenerous social services in Gary, where more than 1 in 3 residents live below the poverty line.

It only goes into effect if the township cannot reduce the property tax rate funding Calumet's township assistance to less than 12 times the average of the state's 1,008 townships.  Calumet has been at more than double that threshold in past years.  Failure to meet the standard would trigger state oversight of the trustee's checkbook and, eventually, Griffith's departure from Calumet Township as early as 2016 if two-thirds of Griffith's residents ratify the move through a referendum.


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

Raw steel production in the country's Great Lakes region slumped to 652,000T last week, but overall U.S. steel production caught up to where it was at this point into 2013.

U.S. output fell by 0.9% in the week that ended Saturday, according to an American Iron and Steel Institute estimate.  Domestic mills have however now produced an estimated 46.9 million tons of steel this year, roughly what they made during the same time frame last year.

Production lagged behind 2013 for much of the year after the polar vortex slowed down output during the winter, and Gary Works and ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor East took blast furnaces offline for outages both planned and unplanned.

Last week, local production decreased by 13,000T, or 1.9%.

Production in the Southern District, typically the country's second biggest steel-producing region, dropped to 651,000T, down from 657,000T a week earlier.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.86 million tons, down from 1.88 million tons a week earlier.  Nationally, domestic steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 77.5% last week, down from 78.2% a week earlier.  The capacity utilization rate had been 76.1% at the same time last year.

U.S. steel imports 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.

Imports reached 4 million net tons in May, 41.5% more than in May 2013, according to the American Institute for International Steel.  Year-to-day imports rose to 17.5 million net tons, a 31.7% increase over the same period last year.


Closing of Lew Wallace Saddens Many Former Hornet Athletes
Compiled From a nwiTimes Report by Steve Hanlon
[1 Jul 2014]

Dave Templin grew up on the east side of Gary, near the steel mills. Before graduating from Emerson in 1966, a blue-collar lunch-pail district, he would drive south with his pals.

They looked with awe at the southernmost public school in Gary, Lew Wallace.  It was almost like driving from Detroit to Harvard back in those days.  The tall brick walls were beautiful, with life-giving green ivy climbing toward heaven.  The homes around the school were big, brick and symbols of affluence, something rare in the Steel City today.  "When we would drive to Glen Park it was an upscale area, they had more than what we had," Templin said.  "It was considered more classy.  They had better sports than what (Emerson) had.

"Horace Mann and Lew Wallace was great in football in the 1950s and '60s.  We viewed it (as) the cool school."

Templin later worked at Wallace.  Templin coached the Hornets for 25 years, 17 as a head football coach.  From 1978 through 1994, his record was 101-63. His 1989 team went undefeated in the regular season, beat two eventual state champions and won Gary's only sectional championship of the IHSAA's modern tournament era.

Lew Wallace opened in 1926.  It was closed last month.  Gary has lost 50% of its population and 60% of the staff doesn't live in the city, according to school board member Nellie Moore.  Plus, the tax collection is at 42%.  An added deficit of $23.7 million took all options other than closure off the table.  Nor did it help that Lew Wallace also failed the state's testing bottom line for six consecutive years.

"To close it is so sad," Templin said.  "There is such a great heritage there of great teams and great athletes.  I cannot believe that there will no longer be a Lew Wallace High School and that feeling touches a lot of people."

Hank Stram won three American Football League championships, leading the Kansas City Chiefs to the Super Bowl IV title.  Stram was a Hornet, a 1941 grad.

Tellis Frank played five seasons in the NBA at Wallace.  Teammate Jerome Harmon was an All-American at Louisville and played in the NBA.  Milo Komenich, another Hornet, also played a year in the NBA.

Julius A. Rykovich played five seasons in the NFL in the 1940s and 1950s.

Jerry Shay played six seasons in the NFL from 1966 through 1971.  "It's a sad state of affairs when they start closing schools," said Shay, a 1963 grad.

"I had a lot of fond memories in that place."  Shay said he was part of a Glen Park when there were fathers in every home on the block, taking care of the kids' safety and disciplining when needed.  The streets and homes were safe back then.  But the youngsters, who became athletes, were tough.  In the first day for coach Joe Black's football team, he was told to run 64 times around the goal posts with all the other Hornets players.

"We didn't like anyone from downtown coming to our neck of the woods," Shay said.  "Glen Park was a hell of a place to live.  Hardly any crime.  No gangs.  We were tough individuals.  We didn't take crap from anybody.  Coach Black told us to hit the guy in front of you so hard on the first play he'd know who was boss the whole game."

After a standout career at Purdue, Shay was drafted by the Vikings and spent two years there and two more in Atlanta.  A three-year stint with the New York Giants was followed by a 40-year run as a scout for the Giants.

Lew Wallace set a great foundation for the San Diego area resident.  "Football was great to me; I had 26 surgeries," said Shay, who said there were eight Gary high schools when he was a student.  "I have more steel in me than U.S. Steel in Gary."

In 1941, Wallace won a mythical state football championship.  From 1960 through 1971, Eddie Herbert was Lew Wallace's football coach.  In the 1960s, the Hornets played in front of 12,000 at Gilroy Stadium for another mythical crown with Herbert as coach.

Merrillville's Tommy Herbert played for his father, now deceased, before graduating in 1965.  Tommy went on to become a Big Ten football official for 30 years and was the replay official in last winter's National Championship game, another Wallace grad who made an impact in the world.

"We had a lot of discipline back then," Tommy Herbert said.  "I got kicked out of Spanish and I got three of the hardest swats I ever got.  From my dad."

Wallace also had a great baseball program in the 1960s, with Glen Park's Little League team winning state championships.  That was something.

Wallace girls track coach Rhonda Brady-Anderson helped the Hornets win IHSAA state titles in 1992, 1993, 1994 plus place second in '95 and '97.  It was the "cool school's" most dominant run in team sports.

"That school is so close to my heart," Brady-Anderson said.  "I understand the situation the school district is in, but we still have wonderful memories.  I challenged the girls.  I told them every other school in the city had success except us and the girls really started working hard.  We had tremendous support from the administration there."

There were other great stories and memories.  Frank's 1983 boys' basketball team made it to the 1993 semistate championship game against Anderson, filling Purdue's Mackey Arena.  Frank and teammate Harmon were standouts, both making it to the NBA, with Frank being the No. 14 pick in the NBA's first round.

"Wallace was a great place with great times," Frank said.  "I'm heartbroken I can't go back to my high school and see pictures on the wall.  I guess Father Time catches up with everybody."

In 2010, the Hornets made it to their first Indiana state championship game, led by Michigan State standout Branden Dawson.  That's how quickly greatness can evaporate.

In 1997, a young lady was shot and killed at a Wallace football game.  Two years ago, gun shots were heard outside Wallace's gym when the Hornets were playing Andrean's boys basketball team.  The golden road has fallen into disrepair, as gangs, violence and drugs have choked the life out of the school in recent years.

That, too, breaks the heart of Mose Carter Jr., a 1985 graduate who starred at Ball State before returning to the area.  He is the pastor at True Worship Christian Center in Merrillville and also a personal trainer.

A leader of a team known as "The Killer Bees," Carter was selected as an Indiana All-Star and helped the North win a big game in Indianapolis.

"When I went there everyone in that school was family," Carter said.  "There was so much tradition.  The teachers, even the custodians, believed in you and they told you.  When I left that school I did not have low self-esteem.  I don't remember one person saying a negative thing to me.

"I look at all the people who came through there and made great contributions to the city of Gary, the country and even the world.  It is sad that it is no more."
[COMMENT -GDY]:   With all due respect the statement, "Tommy Herbert ... graduating in 1965 ... went on to become a Big Ten football official for 30 years and was the replay official is last winter's National Championship game, another Wallace grad who made an impact in the world." is more than a bit of hyperbole.

There are many other notable Lew Wallace grads who did not make a name/living in sports.  They, as well as those of us who went on to live their lives outside the glare of the spotlight, shall miss their alma mater.

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Created 01 Jul 2014 - 09:58:11 Hrs.

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