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Record Breaking Heat to Wane by Week's End

Valparaiso University Professor of Meteorology Dr. Bart Wolf says Monday's record high for Valparaiso was 94 degrees and according to the National Weather Service, we tied that record. Dr. Wolf says today's record high for Valparaiso is 95 degrees, and according to the National Weather Service, we have broke that record. Dr. Wolf says the heat will not last and you will notice quite a contrast by week's end, with a high in the mid-60's expected on Friday and a low down in the upper 40's.
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Pence Directing Flags Be Lowered to Half-Staff on 9-11

Indianapolis, IN - Governor Mike Pence is directing flags at state facilities statewide be flown at half-staff Wednesday, September 11 in honor of Patriot Day.  Flags should remain at half-staff until close of business Wednesday or the morning of Thursday, September 12.
Governor Pence also asks businesses and residents across the state to lower their flags to half-staff to pay tribute to the men and women who were injured or lost their lives on September 11, 2001.
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IOSHA and IATSE Settle on State Fair Safety Order

INDIANAPOLIS (September 10, 2013) – Indiana Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) has agreed with Local 30 of the International Association of Theatrical and Stage Employees (IATSE) to settle the Safety Order issued as a result of an IOSHA investigation after the Indiana State Fair accident in 2011.
As a result of the settlement, IOSHA sets aside the Safety Order, including penalties and specified abatements.
IATSE Local 30 agrees to conduct specific fall protection and hazard identification training for all existing members as well as integrating that training into their apprenticeship program. Safety training for existing members will be completed by March 15, 2014 and the training will be integrated into the training for apprentices by January 15, 2014. Indiana Department of Labor’s INsafe training and consultation division and the U.S. Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training will assist in the development of the training.
“This agreement creates a safer and more protected workplace for Indiana workers in the theater and stage business,” noted Labor Commissioner Sean Keefer. “This agreement creates a positive outcome for everyone involved.”
The agreement can be found at a rel="nofollow" href="http://links.govdelivery.com:80/track?type=click&enid=ZWFzPTEmbWFpbGluZ2lkPTIwMTMwOTEwLjIyNzgyNjQxJm1lc3NhZ2VpZD1NREItUFJELUJVTC0yMDEzMDkxMC4yMjc4MjY0MSZkYXRhYmFzZWlkPTEwMDEmc2VyaWFsPTE3NzY2NzY4JmVtYWlsaWQ9bmV3c0ByYWRpb29uZWluZGlhbmEuY29tJnVzZXJpZD1uZXdzQHJhZGlvb25laW5kaWFuYS5jb20mZmw9JmV4dHJhPU11bHRpdmFyaWF0ZUlkPSYmJg==&&&102&&&# # #...

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Region Heat Wave to End, 30-Degree Drop

What a difference a few days will make in our Region forecast... after the heat and humidity of Monday and possible record-breaking heat today, temperatures start to go down... by about thirty-degrees near week's end, says Valparaiso University Meteorology Professor Dr. Bart Wolf.  "Wednesday will be kind of the transition day," Dr. Wolf told the Region News Team, with mid to upper-80s tomorrow, and "some showers and thunderstorms, and hopefully we'll get some rain, because many parts need it."  Friday we may not guess much above 65-70 degrees for a high temperature, Dr. Wolf said.  The current outlook from the National Weather Service shows a low in the upper 40s Friday night.
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Man Killed in Lowell House Explosion

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Debris from a house explosion near Lowell Monday evening can be seen across the street from where the house once stood along State Road 2, just west of Interstate 65. [Photo/Karl Berner for the Region News Team]
One man is dead, found in the basement of a home that exploded Monday night on State Road 2 just west of I-65 near Lowell. Another home caught fire.  Lake County Sheriff John Buncich says debris was scattered over one-hundred yards in all directions, and officials this morning said they believed the situation to be consistent with a propane explosion, though the investigation continues. 
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Lake County Sheriff John Buncich addressing reporters at the scene this morning. [Photo/Karl Berner for the Region News Team]
Buncich says the ongoing investigation has revealed a next-door neighbor went to check on the home after smelling smoke and seeing flames in the back area of the home shortly after 7pm.  Upon arrival, police found the house destroyed and one engulfed in flames. Several fire agencies, including many from south Lake County, responded. Two firefighters were reportedly injured in the blaze.  Lowell Fire Chief Clint Gorball believes the explosion was not suspicious in nature and confirmed the home's heating system was run on propane gas.  According to Buncich, the Indiana State Fire Marshals Office has been on scene for several hours, and their preliminary findings are consistent with a propane tank leak, followed by an explosion.  The identity of the neighbor has not yet been released.
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Feedback Sought on Rate Increase

State officials are seeking feedback on a proposed electric rate increase for customers of Northern Indiana Public Service Company.  The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor is taking public comment through October 4, 2013.  NIPSCO is asking the state to approve a one-billion dollar electric system modernization plan that would include replacing poles, wires and transformers. The Merrillville-based company is the first to present a request under a newly-enacted state law that allows utilities to pay for certain infrastructure improvements through surcharges called "trackers" added to customer bills. Under the proposal, annual rate increases would average just under one-percent over a seven-year period, with the first taking effect in 2015.
Here is more information from the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor:
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is inviting written comments from Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) customers on the utility’s $1.07 billion plan for electric transmission, distribution and storage system improvements. This includes NIPSCO’s request for incremental electric rate recovery of the costs as the projects proceed, through a new rate adjustment mechanism.
The OUCC – the state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) – is reviewing the utility’s plan and has not yet taken a position in the pending IURC cases. The OUCC anticipates completing its review and filing testimony on October 11, 2013.
NIPSCO’s request is the first to be filed under a new Indiana law (Senate Enrolled Act 560) approved earlier this year.
    The law allows an investor-owned electric or natural gas utility to seek IURC approval of a seven-year infrastructure improvement plan.
    If the plan is approved, the utility may then adjust rates every 6 months, subject to IURC and OUCC review, to recover project costs as they are incurred.
    The rate adjustments – under a new Transmission, Distribution, and Storage System Improvement Charge (TDSIC) mechanism – may not exceed two percent of the utility’s total retail revenues each year.
    Twenty percent of the costs must be deferred until the utility’s next base rate case, which must be filed before the end of the seven-year period.
In IURC Cause No. 44370, NIPSCO is seeking approval of its proposed seven-year plan.
    According to the utility’s testimony, the proposed projects throughout its electric service territory would be built from 2014 through 2020.
    Projects would include new transmission and distribution lines, new substations, upgrades to existing lines and substations, and replacement of aging poles, transformers, line equipment and other infrastructure.
    Under the new law’s timing requirements, the IURC must issue a final order no later than February 14, 2014.
In IURC Cause No. 44371, NIPSCO is seeking establishment of the methodology for calculating rate recovery for future costs.
    The total cost for capital improvement projects in the seven-year plan is approximately $1.07 billion.
    According to NIPSCO’s testimony, annual rate increases through the TDSIC mechanism would average 0.9 percent each year over the seven-year term.
    The first increase of 0.4 percent would take effect in 2015.
    Increases would grow each year, reaching 1.7 percent in 2020.
A number of additional parties have formally intervened in these cases and are also expected to file testimony on October 11, 2013. They include the Indiana Municipal Utility Group (which includes eight cities and towns in Lake and Porter counties), the LaPorte County Board of Commissioners, the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, the Hoosier Environmental Council, and the NIPSCO Industrial Group (which includes BP Products North America, Inc., Praxair, Inc. and USG Corporation).
This proposal – referred to by NIPSCO as its Electric Infrastructure Modernization Plan – would not affect NIPSCO’s natural gas utility’s system, service or rates.
An IURC technical evidentiary hearing in these cases is scheduled to start November 12, 2013 at the PNC Center (101 W. Washington St.) in Indianapolis. While evidentiary hearings are open to the public, participation is typically limited to attorney and Commission questioning of expert witnesses who have filed technical testimony on behalf of the case’s formal parties.
For more information on these cases and the new law, please visit www.in.gov/oucc/2747.htm.
Consumers who wish to submit written comments may do so via the OUCC’s Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm, or by mail, email or fax:
    Mail: Consumer Services Staff
    Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
    115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South
    Indianapolis, IN 46204
    email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
    Fax: (317) 232-5923
Written comments the OUCC receives by October 4, 2013 will be filed with the Commission and included in the cases’ formal evidentiary records. Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address, and a reference to “IURC Cause Nos. 44370 & 44371.”
Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.
 
(IURC Cause Nos. 44370, 44371)
The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) represents Indiana consumer interests before state and federal bodies that regulate utilities. As a state agency, the OUCC’s mission is to represent all Indiana consumers to ensure quality, reliable utility services at the most reasonable prices possible through dedicated advocacy, consumer education, and creative problem solving.
Visit us at www.IN.gov/OUCC, www.twitter.com/IndianaOUCC, or www.facebook.com/IndianaOUCC.
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State Police Warn of Sweepstakes Scam

Indiana State Police logo

Indiana State Police say a scam has begun to surface in southeastern Indiana, and all Hoosiers are being warned. Police say it's not new as it's been successful for scammers in other parts of the country. A person gets a phone call advising them they've placed second or third in the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes and have won hundreds of thousands of dollars and they are asked to wire money via Western Union to cover taxes and processing fees. State Police say the most recent calls in southeastern Indiana originated from area code “876,” a Jamaican area code.
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Lake Co Judge Rules Against RTW Law

A Lake County Superior Court judge has found Indiana's right-to-work law violates the part of the state constitution that forbids services “without just compensation”. The statute was challenged by the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150. “This is a huge victory for the middle class,” said Local 150 president-business manager James M. Sweeney. A spokesman for the Indiana Attorney Generals office says the state will appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court. The office also says the law remains in effect while the case is under appeal.
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One Dead After Lowell Explosion

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One person is dead after a house explosion just west of Interstate 65 near Lowell Monday evening.  The Lake County Coroners office says an unidentified man was pronounced dead shortly before 12:30 this morning in the 100 block of East 181st Avenue, which is along State Road 2.  Fire officials received the call around 7 pm, and numerous  departments responded, including the Lowell, Crown Point and Lake Hills Fire Departments.  The fire was said to be out within about three hours. A second house that sits relatively close also caught fire.  The Lake County Sheriffs Department and Indiana State Fire Marshall are investigating. No word on possible cause at this time.  Route 2 was closed through the area, but has since reopened. [Photo/provided]
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Coats Introduces Bill to Delay Obamacare Until 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.) today introduced legislation to delay the individual and employer mandates included in Obamacare until 2015:
“Obamacare is driving up premiums, forcing businesses to cut workers’ jobs or hours and requiring some families to switch health insurance plans,” said Coats. “The best shot at repealing this devastating law is to delay it and allow the American people to decide Obamacare’s fate in the 2014 election.”
The Obama administration announced this summer that it will delay penalties for employers who do not provide health insurance coverage to workers, but penalties on individuals not purchasing insurance would still apply.
In July, the House of Representatives passed legislation offered by Rep. Todd Young (R-Ind.) that officially delays these two mandates. Coats’ legislation mirrors the House-passed bill.
“Congressman Young and I agree that rather than delay a bad policy for some, all Hoosier families should be exempted from Obamacare’s taxes and mandates,” said Coats.
“Individual Hoosiers and their families should be proud of the work of Senator Coats to introduce this legislation,” said Young. “It is clear that Obamacare is not ready for prime time, and the White House admitted as much when they delayed the new taxes and mandates on big business. The Coats bill would codify that delay, and extend the same mandate delay and tax relief to individuals and families--just as the House did when they passed my Fairness for American Families Act in July."
The Coats legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.).
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