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Police Say Merrillville Shooting Was a Gang Initiation

At a press conference this afternoon, Joseph Petruch, Merrillville Police Chief says the motive is still unclear in the shooting death that took that life of 14 year-old Depree Mims last Wednesday night in his Merrillville home located in the 7500 block of Marshall Street.   According to Chief Petruch, Mrs. Mims says she and her children were gathered in their living room watching a movie when she asked Depree to get one of the children a blanket.  When the the boy stood up several gunshots were fired from outside at the house.  One of those bullets entered the home through the front bay window and struck the boy in the head, according to Petruch.  
The chief did say they do have information that the shooting was a gang initiation and that a member of the gang had been previously robbed and believed this individual lived at the Marshall Street address, where the shooting occurred.  However, police say everyone they've spoken to about Depree, says he was a well mannered and respectful young boy who stayed away from trouble.
It was last Friday that police received information on a possible suspect involved in the shooting.  Published reports say this information led to the apprehension of 18 year-old Kevin brown of Merrillville, 21 year-old Joshua Addison and 22 year-old Anthony Addison, both of Gary and a 16 year-old Merrillville boy.  Chief Petruch says all four suspects were charged through the Lake County Prosecutor's Office with murder and Criminal Gang Activity and are currently being housed at the Lake County Jail.
The investigation continues and anyone with any further information is urged to contact the Merrillville Police Dept at 219-769-3531....

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National Public Health Week: A Safe, Healthy Workplace

indiana state department of health
INDIANAPOLIS—Good health and a safe work environment are essential components of productivity, job satisfaction and overall quality of life for employees. In recent years, workplaces have recognized this and have taken steps to improve workplace settings. As National Public Health Week continues, employers are encouraged to institute workplace wellness programs, as well as ensure adequate safety gear and training are provided to staff.
Research from the American Public Health Association shows that investing in workplace wellness programs made positive impacts on workers' health and pocketbooks. Such wellness efforts also help employers contain health care costs. The cost of obesity among full-time employees tops $73 billion, which includes the total value of lost productivity and medical costs.
“I’ve seen firsthand the dramatic impact effective workplace wellness programs can have on employee morale and job satisfaction, as well as on healthcare expenses,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “Employers don’t need to spend a ton of money on activities, every bit of encouragement helps. There are lots of ways to incentivize employees toward good health in the workplace that are little to no cost. The results are well worth the time and effort.”
Employers can request a free copy of the Indiana Healthy Worksites Toolkit for Small Businesses from the Indiana Healthy Weight Initiative website or download it directly at http://inhealthyweight.org/273.htm. The toolkit provides several suggestions for increasing the number of opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity in the workplace.
“Employers who invest in occupational safety and health benefit from increased employee morale, worker productivity and reduced workplace injuries and illnesses, as well as lower insurance premiums,” said Indiana Department of Labor Commissioner Sean Keefer.
According to the National Safety County, deaths from unintentional work injuries dropped 90 percent from 1933 to 1997. However, workers still get injured on the job. According to the Indiana Department of Labor, Indiana reported 122 fatal occupational injuries in 2011. Nationally, nearly 5,000 workers died in the United States due to an injury on the job in 2011. That same year, fatal work injuries also rose among workers ages 20-24 by 18 percent.
“Proactively addressing workplace safety and health is not only the right thing to do, but it makes good business sense,” said Keefer.
Employers can do many things to improve safety. One is to understand and follow all workplace safety regulations and best practices. Employers can educate employees about workplace safety regulations and train employees to recognize unsafe or unhealthy settings and if applicable, have safety training available in multiple languages. Employers should strive to create a work environment in which employees feel comfortable reporting unsafe working conditions or workplace abuse.
 
Additional suggestions for creating a safe and healthy workplace include:
·        Provide the required equipment to keep workers safe, such as respiratory gear and hard hats.
·        Hold subcontractors accountable for implementing safety standards and trainings.
·        Have mechanisms in place for recognizing and addressing the potential for workplace violence.
·        Practice fire safety drills and prepare your workplace for an unexpected emergency or disaster.
·        Post hand-washing reminders, provide healthy foods at meetings and celebrations, and organizing workplace walking groups. If you provide employer-based health insurance, consider certain financial incentives that can improve health, such as incentivizing employees to quit using tobacco.
Importantly, make your support for investments in workplace health and safety known. Talk to leadership about inviting local policymakers and others to a community roundtable to discuss injury prevention and wellness in the workplace and follow up with specific actions. 
To learn more about National Public Health Week, visit www.nphw.org.
For more information about the Indiana State Department of Health, visit www.StateHealth.in.gov.
For more information about learning how to ensure workplace health and safety, visit the Indiana Department of Labor’s website at www.in.gov/dol/insafe.htm.
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Marijuana and Over $56,000 Found During Traffic Stop

Valpo PD
A traffic stop by Valparaiso Police, working High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Patrols, along I-94 near Chesterton on Tuesday netted drugs and over 56-thousand dollars in U-S currency. Valparaiso Police report a vehicle was stopped for speeding on I-94, near State Road 49, and after some inconsistencies in regards their travels, a Chesterton K-9 unit was called in, and alerted officers of drugs in vehicle. Marijuana, along with the large sum of cash were discovered hidden inside a pillow, and the occupants, two Michigan men, were arrested, charged , and taken to the Porter County Jail.
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Valpo PD Investigating Infant Death

Valpo PD
In Valparaiso, police are investigating the death of an infant. Valparaiso Police report they, along with the Valparaiso Fire Department, were dispatched just before 11:30 in the morning Tuesday to the 29-hundred block of Winchester Drive for a seven-week old infant not breathing. Upon arrival, authorities say the infant was immediately transported to Porter Regional Hospital, and shortly after arriving, the infant was pronounced dead. Police report at the time of death, the infant displayed no obvious signs of death.
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Fugitive Charged with Rape/Child Molesting Apprehended

A man named “fugitive of the week” by the U.S. Marshals Service Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force has been apprehended. Deputy U-S Marshal Timothy Craigin says Edgar Rodriguez, who was charged last week in Lake Superior Court with rape, child molesting, and criminal confinement, has been apprehended in Plainfield, Illinois, and will be held at the DuPage County Jail, until he can extradited back to Indiana.
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Senate Approves Bill to Let 1st Responders Help Crisis Victims

Senator Vaneta Becker
On Tuesday,  the full Senate unanimously approved a bill sponsored by State Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville) to enhance the authority and ability of medical personnel to treat patients in crisis situations, such as a major disaster. House Bill 1111 cleared the Senate by a 49-0 vote.
The bill outlines qualifications for medical personnel practicing tactical emergency medicine, which means care provided in the field instead of a hospital – usually in a crisis environment. Becker said she believes this will help first responders save more lives.
“Learning from last year’s violence in Newtown as well as recent natural disasters across the country, we’ve discovered medical emergency personnel are sometimes prohibited from dealing with victims due to unstable or violent situations,” Becker said. “This bill will provide them the training and authority needed to begin treating victims right away, which can often mean the difference between life and death.”
HB 1111 now goes to the governor for final consideration.
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Helping Veterans Serve as EMS Providers Signed into Law

A bill that allows veterans who received emergency medical service training, instruction or experience while serving in the military, to obtain a license and perform in a similar role as an emergency service provider has been signed into law. Governor Mike Pence says, “Senate Bill 290 is good Hoosier common sense that honors the brave men and women who served our nation and sacrificed to protect freedom.” The law becomes effective on July 1st.
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Retirement Plan Flexibility Law for Teachers Sign by Pence

A new law begins on July 1st that gives teachers more flexibility with their retirement plans. House Bill 15-60, coauthored by Portage State Representative Chuck Moseley, says if a school corporation makes changes to a retirement account for employees, than those affected can look for other plans. The bill was signed into law by Governor Mike Pence on Monday.
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Tuesday Brush Fire in Griffith

The Griffith Volunteer Fire Department reportedly worked into the nighttime hours to snuff out a brush fire in the 900 block of Avenue H. Fire crews were called out after 6pm Tuesday, for the fire, which according to tipsters could be seen from a few miles away. No further information is available at this time.
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Latest on Griffith-Calumet Township Seperation Issue

Legislation could be approved by the Senate this week that would give Calumet Township a year to reduce its township assistance tax rate for poor relief spending. Published reports say if the township fails to do that, Griffith could then hold a referendum on whether or not to leave. It would also allow the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board to consider placing an emergency manager in power to make the necessary spending reductions. State Senator Earline Roger, of Gary, says letting Griffith leave sets a dangerous precedent. Griffith residents pay more in property taxes to support the township's poor but reportedly get little in return.
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