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(Photo Courtesy of Senator Charbonneau's Office)
STATEHOUSE (June 28, 2013) — On Thursday, State Senator Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) along with other elected officials had the privilege of presenting Indiana Beverage CEO Bruce Leetz with the Sagamore of the Wabash Award on behalf of Governor Mike Pence. The Sagamore is the highest honor that the governor can bestow and is only presented to distinguished Hoosiers who have made incredible contributions to the state. This month celebrates Leetz’s 50th year in business, creating countless jobs in Northwest Indiana.
“He is the epitome of what the award stands for,” said State Senator Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso). “In addition to his success in business, Bruce personifies the term ‘gentleman.’ His achievements and contributions are products of his character.”
Leetz began working at Valpo Beverages in 1963 and was later appointed president in 1970. As the company expanded, increasing its distribution from Porter County to seven total counties, Valpo Beverages changed its name to North Coast Distributing and appointed Leetz as CEO. Under Leetz, the company continued to expand, employing more Hoosiers, and in 2012, merged with Indiana Beer to become Indiana Beverage.
Dating back to the mid-1940s, the Sagamore Award was created by Governor Ralph Gates. The term “sagamore,” used by the Northeastern United States Native American Tribes, refers to a great man that the tribal chief would look to for wisdom and advice. The award is the highest honor that the governor can bestow and is presented to Hoosiers who have rendered distinguished service to the state, contributing greatly to Indiana’s rich heritage.
“This honor is so well deserved. We are pleased to see Bruce properly recognized for his contribution to the industry and to our community,” said Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas.
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(Photo Courtesy of the Indiana State Police Lowell Post)
A husband and wife were airlifted to Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after a crash just before 10am this morning on northbound I-65. Indiana State Police Lowell Post report a preliminary investigation revealed a pick up driven by a 66 year old DeMotte man left the roadway, about four-miles south of the DeMotte/Roselawn exit, then came back onto the roadway in the right lane, then entered the left lane and hit another pick up driven by a 53 year old Alabama woman. Authorities say that impact caused the Alabama woman's vehicle to veer off the road onto the median, where struck the concrete median barrier wall. State Police report I-65 had to be closed for a time for the landing of the helicopter that flew the Alabama woman and her 68 year old husband to Indianapolis with non-life threatening injuries. The driver of the other pickup that caused the crash suffered minor injuries.
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LAKE STATION, Ind. – Today Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s Office filed a lawsuit in Lake County to recover nearly $42,000 from a former extracurricular school treasurer who, according to an audit, misappropriated elementary school funds.
Named as defendant in the Attorney General’s lawsuit is Jane Woynaroski, who until March 2013 was extracurricular treasurer at Virgil I. Bailey Elementary School in Lake Station, Ind., where she was in charge of collecting school fees and depositing them.
According to a special investigative audit by the State Board of Accounts, Woynaroski failed to deposit $23,003.27 in elementary school funds into school accounts over a five-year period from July 2008 to March 2013. Because of the incomplete and inadequate condition of the financial records Woynaroski kept, the State Board of Accounts incurred another $18,843.83 in auditing costs reconstructing her transactions. In the lawsuit the Attorney General’s Office filed today, the State demands Woynaroski repay both amounts, a total $41,847.10.
“It is very disheartening to see the brazen violation of the public trust by this defendant in misappropriating elementary school funds and it sends a terrible signal to students and parents. My office will use all legal means at our disposal to compel this individual to repay what she owes the school system and the taxpayers,” Zoeller said.
The State Board of Accounts audit issued June 18 found that Woynaroski regularly failed to properly deposit fundraising money, textbook rental fees and other official receipts into the elementary school’s bank account. Examiners reviewing deposit slips found Woynaroski misappropriated school funds by not recording and depositing cash receipts. Additionally, Woynaroski replaced cash deposits with checks received for other purposes, which were not properly recorded.
Today in Lake County Superior Court 11 in Crown Point, Ind., the Attorney General’s Office, acting as collection agent for the State, filed a complaint to recover public funds against Woynaroski, seeking $41,847.10, plus attorneys’ fees and treble damages.
Zoeller’s office today also sought a temporary restraining order against Woynaroski to prevent her from selling, transferring or concealing financial assets such as two properties, three vehicles, bank accounts and retirement accounts. Judge Diane Kavadias Schneider granted the temporary restraining order, which is in effect until a court hearing July 10 on the Attorney General’s motion for a preliminary injunction, which would freeze Woynaroski’s assets indefinitely until the overall lawsuit is concluded. The purpose of the temporary restraining order and injunction is to preserve whatever assets are available so that the State is able to recover something later to reimburse the Lake Station Community Schools' treasury for the amount owed.
If the court eventually enters a civil judgment against Woynaroski, then the Attorney General’s Office can pursue a civil collections action against her to garnish wages, attach liens, or take other actions any creditor can take against a debtor to collect on a debt.
Also named in the Attorney General’s lawsuit are two bonding companies that provided surety bond coverage over the extracurricular treasurer position. Ohio Casualty Insurance Company provided $5,000 in bond coverage each year from July 2008 to July 2012, and Selective Insurance Company of America provided $10,000 in bond coverage for July 2012 to July 2013. By naming the bonding companies as defendants, the Attorney General’s Office hopes to recover the bond money to reimburse the school treasury. Any amount not covered by bonds, however, would be Woynaroski’s personal responsibility.
Decisions about filing criminal charges in audit cases are solely the jurisdiction of county prosecutors, not the Attorney General. Whether a public employee is civilly responsible for repaying misappropriated funds is a separate issue from whether they are criminally responsible for a loss. Through his role as collection agent for the State, the Attorney General has legal jurisdiction to file civil lawsuits to recover public funds based on State Board of Accounts certified audit reports.
Since January 2009, the Attorney General's Office has collected more than $2.4 million from former local government officials whom the State Board of Accounts found had misappropriated public money. Many of the acts of misappropriation occurred because an individual had the ability to divert or embezzle public funds with no oversight or supervision. Earlier this year, the Legislature passed a bill that Attorney General Zoeller had recommended, House Enrolled Act 1333, which authorized a legislative study of requiring internal accounting controls – such as dual signatures – on public employees who handle public money. Zoeller noted that if two or more employees were required to sign off on large transactions involving public funds, then misappropriation and embezzlement would be more difficult for one individual to commit without being detected.
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Authorities are battling a reported car fire in Valparaiso. Tipsters reported the incident just before 1pm this afternoon near the Hampton Inn on Silhavy Road. Valparaiso Police Dispatch reports fire crews are on the scene and that the car fire is located on a side road between the hotel and the Raymond James Building. No further information is available at this time.
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11:40am CDT: Indiana State Police Lowell Post report lanes open now, but traffic was stopped earlier after a crash on the northbound side of Interstate 65 just south of Roselawn. The crash reportedly occurred on or near the overpass at mile marker 225. Police report significant delays are still being seen on the interstate through that area.
Phase two of the five-points roundabout project in Valparaiso is officially underway. City officials say the eastern half of the intersection of Calumet Avenue, Roosevelt Road and Vale Park, will be under construction, with the east approach of Vale Park and the east half of Calumet closed. Traffic on Calumet will be reduced to one lane in either direction, shifted to the western half of the roadway (currently the southbound lanes).
From the city:
NOTE REGARDING TRUCK TRAFFIC: Due to the narrowed lanes on Calumet during phases 2 and 3 of construction, trucks will NOT be permitted to travel through the intersection. A truck detour route will be posted (see below for detour route). Business owners in the area are encouraged to instruct delivery drivers ahead of time of these restrictions and direct them to the detour route shown, or plan for alternate routes that will better accommodate their individual business.
[Phase 2 Image from City of Valparaiso website]
More info plus detour map here: http://www.ci.valparaiso.in.us/index.aspx?NID=1243
Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann will oversee the agency and joins several state agencies already engaged in support of small business enterprise.
“Our teams at the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA), Indiana Housing and Community Development (IHCDA), the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) and the Indiana Office of Defense Development (IODD) are already providing outreach and opportunities for Indiana small businesses,” said Ellspermann. “We believe the synergies created by our cross collaborations will foster greater capacity building for individuals and their communities as they explore new ways to create jobs and expand.”
OSBE will focus on business consulting, specialty programming, and integrating universities, private sector business and government stakeholders. A newly-created business ombudsman will help to streamline state programs, licensing and permitting processes.
The agency’s overall goal is to develop an entrepreneurial climate for new talent and business opportunities, attracting both human and financial capital to Indiana.
Ellspermann has appointed Jacob Schpok as the Executive Director of the new agency. Schpok is a graduate of Ball State’s nationally recognized entrepreneurship program and has been with ISBDC since 2005, serving as director since 2011.
After multiple rounds of strong storms causing damage and power outages this week, some traffic signals remain out in Region.
At last report, these signals were out:
In Hammond, Calumet Avenue and 171st and 165th Streets
In Hobart, State Road 130 and County Line Road
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