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Region economy has added jobs for 10 of last 12 months
Region economy has added jobs for 10 of last 12 months

Northwest Indiana added jobs this summer as its economy kept down the path of growth.

The Northwest Indiana Index rose 0.4 points to 138.8 in June from 138.4 in May, continuing a trend of expansion. The growth mirrors the broader recovery that's taking place in the national economy, said Micah Pollak, an assistant professor of economics at Indiana University Northwest.

Northwest Indiana's economy grew 0.29 percent in June, roughly the same as the nation as a whole.

"This May was really strong, and June was strong," he said. "There's been a big jump after the slowdown during the first few months of the year. It's encouraging the economy is moving a little faster."

Pollak and IUN Professor of Finance Bala Arshanapalli compile the coincident index, which is modeled after the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia's state and coincident indexes. The goal is to keep a finger on the pulse of the local economy. Pollak also serves on The Times Board of Economists, a group of local business leaders that meets quarterly to gauge the state of the region's economy.

Statewide, the Indiana Business Research Center's Leading Index for Indiana rose from 101.2 in July to 101.6, making up all the ground it lost during the winter weather-plagued first quarter. The state's economy grew by 0.5 percent in June.

Northwest Indiana is on track to grow moderately, by about 1 percent to 2 percent, over the next six months after every major component of the index gained ground or remained stable in June.

Steel production increased by 0.4 percent, and average manufacturing hours worked remained a record level of 42.1 hours per week. U.S. retail sales grew by 0.25 percent.

The Dow-Jones Transportation Index rose by 3.4 percent, which was beneficial since Northwest Indiana is major transportation hub for the Midwest with its highways, railroad tracks and international port.

The region added 800 more jobs in June, a 0.29 percent increase. Northwest Indiana has gained jobs in 10 out of the last 12 months, but the 8,500 new jobs over the past year still has not brought it back to pre-recession levels.

3 hours ago
Former Rumely House open for tour
Former Rumely House open for tour

LAPORTE | A mansion with roots to LaPorte's beginnings will be open for the public to view and, if they wish, offer to buy it.

It's easy to imagine visitors walking away impressed with just how well the 4,900 square foot house has held up over time, all with an asking price of less than $200,000.

The Scott-Rumely House at 211 Rose St. was recently purchased by Indiana Landmarks dedicated to saving and restoring historic homes.

The group is hosting an open house from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday.

Paul Hayden, community preservation specialist with the Indiana Landmarks South Bend office, said the still mostly original Scott-Rumely House surprisingly was in such good shape very little restoration has been required.

The non-profit organization is replacing the roof and doing some remodeling in areas like the kitchen and one of the bathrooms.

All of the other rooms, for the most part, look freshly painted with very little, if any, wear on the wood floors.

"It's in move-in condition," he said.

Typically, most homes acquired by Indiana Landmarks "are often in very substandard condition" with work needed to correct things like a roof leak, broken water pipes, mold and plaster falling from ceilings.

"We didn't have any of that here," said Hayden.

The three story brick Classic Revival house was built in 1901 by Emmet Scott, a former LaPorte mayor.

The house wound up in the hands of his daughter, Fanny and her husband, Edward A. Rumely, whose early industrialist family was famous for manufacturing the Rumely Oil Pull Tractor and other machinery used in agriculture.

Edward Rumely was also a physician and owner of the New York Evening Mail and he and his wife entertained national business and cultural leaders in the home just a few blocks from downtown, according to history.

Rumely was also close to former president Theodore Roosevelt.

Hayden said one factor in the well preserved condition of the home was the property remaining with the same family until 1972 and sitting vacant for less than three years.

The house features the original heavy wood doors and trim, mostly oak floors along with two fireplaces and a two story carriage house.

The carriage house made of brick in back of the residence was used for storing horses and the buggies they pulled for transportation before the automobile.

The four horse stalls inside are in near mint condition.

Given the history and condition of the house, the mansion received a rating of outstanding, the highest that can be achieved in a registry of historic structures throughout the county.

Hayden said the house would likely list on the market at upwards of $300,000 but Indiana Landmarks offers homes at a price equal to the amount spent to acquire and fix up the properties.

The idea behind the open house is to attract a buyer with plans to live there full time or convert it into a bed and breakfast.

Hayden said the property is not available to anyone who might want to convert the building into an apartment house in order to preserve the historical character and use of the house well into the future.

LaPorte Mayor Blair Milo said the group's efforts are welcome particularly because the city was not in a position financially to acquire and restore a house with such historic significance.

"I think it's going to be a great asset for the community," said Milo.

The Rumely Co. made its first thresher in 1854 and in later years captured a large share of the thresher market worldwide.

By the late 1800s, the company expanded with more production facilities including one in LaPorte to keep up with rising sales.

The Rumely Corp. was later acquired by Allis Chalmers, which made farm implements in LaPorte until the early 1980s.

There is no charge, but reservations for the open house are required and can be made at lookrumely.eventbrite.com or by calling (317) 822-7923.

7 hours ago Photos

Photos

Parks programs promote running for youth

Porter County Parks & Recreation officials are introducing local youths to the joy of running through their Youth Cross Country and Girls on the Run programs.

Both allow participants to enjoy the outdoors and natural environment of the parks, while building lifetime fitness skills and habits.

The Youth Cross Country program for children ages 4 to 12 is new to Porter County Parks this year. It will introduce youths of all skill levels to distance running. Practices will be held from 5-6 p.m. Thursdays through Oct. 16 at Sunset Hill Farm County Park.

The team will compete with the Valpo YMCA and Valpo Parks team in meets held at Rogers Lake Wood Park and Sunset Hill on Saturday mornings, Sept. 27, Oct. 4, 11 and 18. The cost for the program is $45.

Parks officials will continue their partnership with the Girls on the Run Program for girls in third through fifth grades by hosting teams at both Sunset Hill Farm and Woodland Park. The program helps girls build fitness skills while teaching them about self-esteem in a safe environment.

There are still spots available for the Woodland Park team which will begin Tuesday and run through Nov. 11. The group meets from 4:15-5:45 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays at Woodland Park in Portage. The registration fee for Girls on the Run is on a sliding scale.

To learn more about these programs as well as other programs offered through Porter County Parks, contact Becky Kreiger, recreation director, at (219) 734-0203 or bkreiger@porterco.org.

15 hours ago
Cash for Class raffle to help Valparaiso schools
Cash for Class raffle to help Valparaiso schools

How would you like to win $100,000 and help Valparaiso Community Schools students and teachers? The Valpo Schools Foundation is hosting a Cash for Class 50/50 Raffle to raise funds for scholarships and classroom grants.

The foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing excellence in education within the Valparaiso community. It is funded by community donors and fundraising events.

The foundation awarded scholarships in May to 31 graduating seniors to help them defray the cost of their college education. One recipient, Courtney Schuiteman, will be attending Valparaiso University this fall.

“This scholarship has made my dream of going to medical school a little bit easier," Schuiteman said. "It’s amazing to witness the willingness of our community to give back to students.”

The Valpo Schools Foundation also gave nearly $30,000 last school year in classroom grants to teachers for academic projects. Jane Jones, a second-grade teacher at Parkview Elementary, said a grant provided her with additional resources with which to teach her class.

“The materials that I am able to purchase with the VSF grant allow me to provide differentiated instruction for all the students in my class,” she said.

Purchase a Cash for Class raffle ticket from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the Valparaiso Schools administration building at 3801 Calumet Ave.

The winners will be drawn on Sept. 19 at halftime of the Valparaiso/Chesterton football game. A $100 ticket offers an opportunity to win one of 55 cash prizes. All proceeds will be used for scholarships and classroom grants for Valparaiso Community Schools students and teachers. (Half of ticket sale proceeds go to prizes).

For more information on the foundation and its fundraising events, call me at (219) 531-3000, ext. 1112.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

15 hours ago
FDA should listen to Zoeller, experts on e-cigs

Technology, it seems, finds solutions for just about everything. So it should surprise no one that the tobacco industry, under siege for years for marketing and selling unhealthy products, found a way around the anti-smoking fervor through a smokeless nicotine delivery system.

They're called electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. And while they may not be as dangerous as cigarettes (studies are still exploring that issue), most early research indicates they are still harmful and highly addictive.

Adults will be left to make their own decisions about the product when credible information is compiled. But it is the potential impact on youths that alarms us. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working on that and has proposed rules to regulate the product.

But there are public officials across America, including Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, who believe the FDA's approach is not aggressive enough when it comes to young people and e-cigarettes. We think those officials are right and support their drive to convince the agency to step up its efforts to regulate marketing of the products to protect minors.

Zoeller has a unique position in this debate. He is Indiana's top consumer protection official and, according to his department's website, serves as the National Association of Attorneys General Tobacco Committee co-chair. In June of this year, Zoeller was appointed to the board of directors of the American Legacy Foundation, a national public health organization dedicated to ending tobacco use in the United States.

In conjunction with attorneys general from 28 other states, including Illinois, Zoeller is urging the FDA to step up the fight.

"Sadly there is a long history of companies manufacturing and selling tobacco using shrewd marketing techniques designed to push their disease-causing products onto children by getting kids hooked on addictive nicotine. Now technology has devised a new nicotine-delivery device creating health risks not fully researched. State attorneys general were at the forefront of pushing back at the deceptive marketing of harmful tobacco products, and we now ask the FDA to step up and restrict these new devices as it does other tobacco products," Zoeller said.

Among the group's proposals are to prohibit "flavors" in new tobacco products and to restrict marketing of e-cigarettes in the same manner as for cigarettes. It also advocates strong health warnings.

We applaud Zoeller and his colleagues across the country for providing leadership on this public health issue. We hope the FDA is listening.

-- Tribune-Star, Terre Haute, Aug. 20

15 hours ago
Jeffrey, Peterson avenue repairs in Sauk Village to be done by mid-September

SAUK VILLAGE | Village officials said Tuesday they are hopeful construction work being done on Jeffrey and Peterson avenues will be complete by mid-September.

Village Engineer Jim Czarnik told the Village Board when they met this week that work on rebuilding the two streets began Aug. 11 and is proceeding on schedule.

The village previously had said they hoped work would be completed by Sept. 19, and Czarnik said officials may complete the project a few days earlier than that.

Work on Jeffrey Avenue is taking place from Sauk Trail north to 215th Place, while Peterson Avenue is being worked on from 215th Place north to the park. Work on both streets consists of roadway repaving, patching and assorted curb, sidewalk and driveway replacements.

Parking is prohibited on those streets during the construction, and motorists passing through the area are advised to find alternate routes, Czarnik said.

15 hours ago
Calumet City may erect signs restricting loud music

CALUMET CITY | The City Council is considering installing new street signs advising motorists to avoid playing music loudly while passing through a particular part of town.

Fourth Ward Alderman Ramonde Williams said Thursday he wants "No Loud Music" signs erected along Greenwood Avenue near River Oaks Drive near the city's far southwest corner.

That location is near the River Oaks Towne Homes complex at 1 Chestnut Court, and the Toyota of River Oaks auto dealership at 1970 River Oaks Drive.

Williams said he has heard complaints from the townhouse complex residents about noise from passing motorists.

"There are people living in that complex who go to work very early," Williams said. "They don't need to hear noise at all hours when they're trying to sleep."

City Council officials expressed no opposition to the idea, although Williams was unsure how soon the signs could be erected, or how the restriction would be enforced by police.

He said the signs should not be too costly because city officials are capable of making them in-house, and he only sees a need for two signs.

Also under consideration by the council was a resolution calling for a creation of a college internship work program in City Clerk Nyota Figgs' office.

The ordinance was on the City Council agenda for Thursday for final approval, but 3rd Ward Alderman Thaddeus Jones objected to granting such approval.

He asked that the matter be deferred to the council's Ordinance & Resolutions committee for further study.

That idea was approved by a 6-0 council vote, with 7th Ward Alderman Antoine Collins, who chairs the committee, absent for the vote.

15 hours ago
Commission seeking bids on Robbins Road project

PORTAGE | More than two years after it was proposed, the city's Redevelopment Commission will seek bids on a project aimed to improve traffic flow at Willowcreek and Robbins roads.

Robbins Road ends at Willowcreek Road at present. The project would extend Robbins Road to the west to the Portage Township YMCA. It would also provide an alternative exit for the YMCA and would likely include a traffic signal at the intersection.

The area has had significant traffic issues in the past because of vehicles backed up to turn onto Willowcreek from Robbins and from vehicles stacking in the turn lane from northbound Willowcreek to enter the YMCA.

The commission initiated a study of the area more than two years ago and hired a consultant in 2012 to design the new intersection.

It is likely bids for construction of the project will be received at the commission's regular September meeting and a contract awarded in October. Construction could begin later this year or early next year.

15 hours ago
Rauner may be feeling good about his electoral chances

With Gov. Pat Quinn reeling from the double whammy of two separate probes of his administration, Republican Bruce Rauner headed into the Labor Day weekend feeling better about his chances of ending a decade's worth of Democratic power in the capital city.

But, before the wealthy businessman from Winnetka begins measuring the curtains in the governor's office, it is well to remember a few key things heading toward the November showdown:

- Two months is a long time in a political system where voters often wait until they walk into the voting booth to choose their candidate. Quinn, after all, is known as a closer.

- Illinois is a blue state where politics has been dominated by labor unions in recent history.

- And, it's not clear how Rauner will fare when it comes to two important blocs of voters, women and African-Americans.

But, the man definitely has the money to burn in an attempt to convince voters to dump Quinn.

Since the beginning of 2012, Quinn and other committees pushing for his re-election have spent $3.7 million, according to state Board of Elections figures.

During the same time period, Rauner has spent $21.1 million.

The wide disparity in spending, of course, is because Rauner not only had to survive a four-way primary, but, as a newcomer to the rough and tumble world of Illinois politics, he had to build an organization and generate name recognition.

Quinn's problems are an added bonus.

The feds are looking at Quinn's botched anti-violence program, which Republicans claim was little more than a political slush fund designed to help him get elected in 2010 against state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington.

Investigators also are looking at illegal hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation. Like Rauner when confronted about problems with some of the businesses his company owned, Quinn keeps saying he knew nothing about it and tried to fix it once he learned there were glitches.

But Quinn's claims have been ringing hollow for weeks given that a main criticism of Quinn from his fellow Democrats is that he's too involved in the day-to-day operations of government and needs to delegate more.

What's more, all of the key figures involved in the Neighborhood Recovery Act and the IDOT hiring scandal have left state government. That's some serious housecleaning.

Rauner's spokesman didn't let the imagery go unnoticed last week.

"This scandal goes straight to the top; there's no one left to fire except Quinn himself," Mike Schrimpf said.

-- BILL COUNT

While the two men spar for the right to be governor, Quinn found time last week to do perhaps his most important duty as Illinois' chief executive.

He finished signing all the bills that were sent to his desk by the General Assembly.

In the first half of the year, Quinn signed a total of 509 pieces of legislation into law.

-- THE AIRPLANES

Despite the animosity, mud-slinging and big dollar spending, Quinn and Rauner actually agree on some issues.

Take the idea of selling off the state's air fleet. Both have latched on to this idea made popular by state Rep. Bill Mitchell, a Republican from Forsyth.

Even though the savings are marginal in the scope of the state's overall budget — think of a few nickels under the couch cushions — Quinn announced recently he was selling half of the state's airplanes.

He said it would save about $7 million. Rauner also called for the sale of the planes, but wasn't specific about the savings amount.

But how much will the state get for the planes?

According to some rough calculations based on a review of online airplane dealer prices, the state could be poised to see about $3 million from the fire sale.

A full appraisal of each of the planes is underway. A spokeswoman for the agency overseeing the sale said the numbers weren't quite ready.

Seven of the planes are Cessna prop planes that can seat four to eight passengers. Two of them are used by the Illinois State Police, presumably for investigations and to catch speeders if need be.

One of the planes is a Beechcraft King Air 350, which has been used as a shuttle for getting state officials from Chicago to Springfield and back.

The final aircraft is a Sikorsky helicopter under the control of the Illinois Department of Transportation. It sometimes shuttles prison officials to visit the various prisons sprinkled across downstate Illinois.

15 hours ago
Today in History: Sept. 1, 1914

County Fair Now On At Crown Point: Running Horses Galore. Horses from all over the country have been entered and are even now at the fairgrounds.

15 hours ago
THE SOUTH SHORE IN 100 OBJECTS, DAY 58: WW II-era tank in Griffith
THE SOUTH SHORE IN 100 OBJECTS, DAY 58: WW II-era tank in Griffith

Technically, the WW II-era tank sitting in Griffith's Central Park near the town's war memorial is the M4A1E8 Sherman Medium Tank, but it could just as easily be called the Christenson family tank.

Milford Christenson, founder of Christenson Chevrolet in Highland, spotted an advertisement in the Indianapolis Star in 1958 that the Indiana National Guard was selling 12 surplus tanks for $200.

A Bronze Star recipient as a radio operator in the Battle of the Bulge, Christenson bought a money order in that amount, designating it as from VFW Post 9982 in Griffith, where he was a charter member.

Unfortunately, only government agencies could buy the tanks, not fraternal clubs. Christenson then made out another money order in the town's name. He told Leo Welch, then Griffith's clerk-treasurer, he was buying the war relic and Central Park would be an ideal spot for it.

The tank, manufactured bythe Pacific Car and Foundry Co. near Seattle in the latter stages of World War II, was renovated and repainted in 2009 with new plaques later recounting its history.

Christenson and his wife, Margaret, presented the Town Council with a photo of the refurbished gift early in 2012.

"I had tears in my eyes," Christenson said at the time. "The board went way above the call of duty."

15 hours ago Photos

Photos

East Side Scouts present colors at Annunciata Fest
East Side Scouts present colors at Annunciata Fest

CHICAGO | For the fourth time this summer the Cub Scouts of Pack 773 donned their uniforms and performed the opening ceremonies for another community event.

This time the Scouts were at their home base of Annunicata where the Scouts hold their weekly meetings. The Cub Scouts joined by several Girl Scouts presented the colors at the opening ceremony of Annunciata Fest 2014. Performing the ceremony also afforded the Scouts the opportunity to learn how to "Call the Colors."

Wolf Scout Noah Munoz served as Denner while Webelos I Scout Adrian Rocha led the Scouts in the Pledge of Allegiance. Third-grader Abeey Rose Bermejo sang the national anthem. The Scouts then ran the kids games for the day with all proceeds being donated back to Annunciata as a token of appreciation for allowing them use of the hall for their meetings. The Scouts will receive patches for their hard work.

15 hours ago Photos

Photos

Sportfishing program teaches 4-H youth about natural resources
Sportfishing program teaches 4-H youth about natural resources

Lake County youth went fishing this summer thanks to the Lake County 4-H Sportfishing program. Forty-seven young people enrolled in this annual program which teaches youth about fish, fishing, aquatic habitats, and the conservation of Indiana’s natural resources.

The program was expanded this year with funding from the Cabela’s Outdoor Fund. For the first time, older members had the opportunity to build their own fishing poles with guidance from adult volunteers and instructors. Other workshops focused on making fishing lures. These projects, along with educational posters created by 4-H members create, were exhibited at the Lake County Fair last month.

Youth also were invited to compete in three 4-H Sportfishing Tournaments held in May and June at the Lake County Fish and Game Protective Association, Griffith; the LaSalle Fish and Wildlife Area, Lake Village; and the Izaak Walton League, Hobart.

Some members were experienced at fishing, but others were beginners, and 4-H adult volunteers were on hand to assist. Winners in each age group received awards provided by Mitsch Water and Salt Service, Ronson Equipment Co., Magiera Diesel Injection Service, and Cabela’s. Parents and family members were invited to fish as well.

Tournament organizers select different locations each year to increase awareness of the abundant fishing opportunities in northwest Indiana. At the final tournament, the Izaak Walton League of Hobart provided hot dogs and soft drinks for the families.

The Lake County 4-H Sportfishing program was created in 2009 in response to a concern in local communities that young people needed more opportunities for outdoor experiences. Volunteer Terry Miller serves as project superintendent, organizing the activities and serving as a mentor. Sportfishing and other Lake County 4-H youth development programs are open to all young people in grades 3-12. Contact the Purdue Extension Service office at (219) 755-3240 or extension.purdue.edu/lake for more information.

15 hours ago Photos

Photos

Don't be shocked by Buffett's duplicity

During the 2012 campaign, President Obama hammered Mitt Romney and the Republicans on tax policy, citing Warren Buffett’s claim that he paid less income taxes than his secretary.

Now Buffett is helping to finance Burger King’s purchase of Canadian donut chain Tim Hortons Inc. The purchase will allow Burger King to move its headquarters to Canada and reduce its corporate income taxes.

No one should be surprised at Buffett’s duplicity. He built his Berkshire-Hathaway empire by exploiting the inheritance tax -- buying small companies when the heirs had to sell to pay the tax.

Obama and the Democrats have been very critical of corporate inversions. Will they now criticize a billionaire who helped reelect the president?

- Roland Camp, Munster

15 hours ago
Why is the media silent on adult illegal immigrants?

The "coyotes" in Mexico and the terrorists are laughing their butts off knowing that America can't close its borders and protect American citizens. It has been reported from time to time that 290,000 illegals have recently crossed the border into our country and were pretty much set free with a note to appear in court. What a joke.

But my concern is that the news media is only talking about the 50,000-plus children. So what happened to the adults? Why is the news media silent about all the adult illegals, and where are they?

- Tammy Grdinich, Crown Point

15 hours ago
Governor should rethink shuttering Camp Summit

The state employees have already become victim to no pay increases for the last several years. They are mandated to work 86 hours every two weeks before they get overtime.

Now the governor has decided to shut down a state job, Camp Summit. These men are there because they know they make a difference. I know several who -- outside of work -- check on our local boys once they are released. These men are above and beyond the call of duty. So please find the answers to why there is no money to remain open if you have already cut these benefits statewide. Is it because your own pocket is thin?

- Becky Yon, LaPorte

15 hours ago
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge invigorates cause

By now you have seen the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge videos.

As the executive director of the Les Turner ALS Foundation, I am invigorated by this campaign. These videos provide hope to the ALS community -- hope that the dialogue will continue and funding will increase long after the Challenge has ended.

We have raised more than $550,000, a 600 percent increase over fundraising last year in the same time period. When people donate to the Les Turner ALS Foundation, their contribution stays local. They are supporting three laboratories at Northwestern’s medical school, a patient center at Northwestern and patient services such as home visits and support groups.

We are grateful for every donor and dollar.

However, it is important Chicagoland residents understand the millions of dollars referenced in the media will not benefit the Les Turner ALS Foundation. Only funds donated directly to us will be allocated toward our local efforts.

- Wendy Abrams, Skokie, Ill.

15 hours ago
Major Portage roadway needs maintenance

Lenburg Road was paved two years ago -- sections of it anyway, from Salt Creek bridge to 149.

The last winter was pretty brutal on the road. I have noticed that other roads in the area are getting the cracks filled with asphalt, preventing water from getting in and cracking the road. Lenburg Road is a main road connecting Portage and Chesterton, with lots of traffic daily.

Now I would think that the city would want to seal the cracks in the road to keep it from buckling and preventing road repair next summer. A little preventive maintenance is a good idea, not only to save the road but to save money fixing pot holes and/or repaving sections that are going to be really messed up come next summer. But please don't let whomever supposedly fixed the railroad tracks on McCool road try their hand at filling cracks. Thanks.

- Bradley York, Portage

15 hours ago
The Daily Fix
The Daily Fix

Offering perspective on today's issues

15 hours ago
Valpo Car Show and Swap Meet set
Valpo Car Show and Swap Meet set
15 hours ago