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Learn to reclaim your time and reconnect at Morning Business Hour

Join First Financial Bank, 11890 Broadway, Crown Point, from 8 to 9 a.m. April 25 and learn how to “Reclaim Your Time and Reconnect with Yourself,” presented by Dana Samardzich, owner of Optimal Balance Coaching.

Through this presentation, Samardzich will explore the importance of a person's well-being and how it directly affects their ability to live and work at an optimum level. She will share insights on organizing yourself and energy recovery in order to make more sales and close more deals.

The morning business hour is a great opportunity to network with peers and learn about tools and resources that help business owners and managers build and grow their business. Refreshments will be served. For more information, call (219) 226-2062.

Cruise for Charity

The fourth annual Cruise for Charity to benefit Campagna Academy in Schererville takes place from 1 to 3:30 p.m. May 17, leaving from Navy Pier in Chicago on the Odyssey Yacht.

Guests on this nautical fundraiser will enjoy a gourmet menu, premium open bar and silent auction.

Campagna is also offering optional round-trip luxury coach transportation leaving from its campus.

Cruise tickets are $125 per person and coach seats are $10 per person. Proceeds will directly benefit the youth of Campagna Academy. To order tickets, call (219) 322-8614, ext. 453 or visit Tickets are limited.

Chair’ish the Children

Visitors to the Indiana Welcome Center, 7770 Corinne Drive, Hammond,  can view 70 artistically decorated chairs as part of Chair’ish the Children, a chair decorating contest presented by Prevent Child Abuse Lake County.

Participants submitted decorated chairs representing what it means to cherish our community’s children. The child-sized chairs will be on display through April 30, when a special reception will be hosted from 5 to 7 p.m. During the reception, the will be auctioned, with proceeds used for child abuse prevention programming.

Light refreshments will be served and a suggested donation of $5 will be accepted at the door.

This year’s exhibit includes categories for middle school students, high school students and adult organizations that work with children. During the reception, a panel of local artists and teachers will judge the chairs and award the top three schools in both the middle and high school categories with a cash prize.

Visitors can vote for their favorite three chairs through April 27. The chair in both the student and the adult categories with the most votes will be receive a People’s Choice Award during the reception.  

PCALC is a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to prevent child abuse and neglect through education, increased awareness, and advocacy. Affiliated with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana, education is provided to schools and organizations on Shaken Infant Syndrome, with hospital packets going to new mothers in local hospitals. Visit or email

13 hours ago

Spring, time for baseball and recycling

Well, it’s spring ... I think, hope, pray.

I looked over some of my old columns and I have seen where I’ve said how spring is my least favorite season because it points to warmer, more pleasant weather, but so often reverts to colder and less pleasant weather. This year any day without snow and ice is a blessing.

And without snow and ice there can be spring and … baseball.

Personally, I’ve decided to stay retired from “old man” (65 years old and over) softball, though I may not be done umping in the Calumet Memorial Park District 16-inch softball league, where real men don’t wear gloves.

I’ve also taken in a couple of baseball games. I’m part owner of the T.F. North Meteors. And if you don’t understand that, I have the tax receipts to show that I have a stake.

Not too much of an exciting game. There were 12 runs but only two hits. Lots of walks, errors, and batters hit by pitches. But the home town team won. Plus I got the opportunity to talk with renowned Times correspondent and former kid ( i.e. student of mine) Jason Vignone. We were able to solve sundry issues regarding high school sports.

The T.F. North Meteors have some potential though they suffered some bad luck as two of their top pitchers are injured. Hopefully, they can come back and coach Mike Kosiara and the Meteors can have a successful season.

I’ve taught several thousand kids and many of them played sports. But it’s T.F. North’s baseball program that produced my, I’m speaking vicariously here, only major league victories in the person of Steve Wojciechowski. Steve won seven games with the Oakland A’s in the mid '90s. He became a victim of his craft as he blew out an elbow which ended his career.

I have also had a chance, thanks to the graciousness of Nancy Schneider — ultimate Cubs fan — to see my Pittsburgh Pirates at the beautiful confines of Wrigley Field. Out of respect to my benefactor, I will not mention the outcome of the game. Wrigley Field is a pretty cool place to watch a baseball game.

Also synonymous with spring, is cleaning as in spring cleaning. Pretty astute observation, no? Anyway largely through the efforts of Alderman Leni Wosczynski, Cal Citians and others can responsibly dispose of items that are problematic when put in the regular trash and are no longer being accepted in landfills.

All types of electronic devices and smaller appliances as well as paint and oil can be dropped off at the Calumet City Public Works Facility at 1701 Dolton Road between 9 a.m. and l p.m. on April 26. Also on site will be a paper shredder for documents with sensitive information. For further information, you can contact Alderwoman Leni at (708) 891-8192 or .

This past winter should be another reminder that human activity has had a negative impact on our happy human home. Our conspicuous consumption has caused numerous complications for the health of the only home we have. It’s important that we realize this and act in our own and in our posterity’s best interests.

To help impress the ideas of being ecologically intelligent on our youngsters, there are Earth Day activities for children through the Calumet City Public Library. Prime among these will be the flower planting at the library at 12:30 p.m. on April 26. You can call the Youth Services Department for details at (708) 862-6220.

Happy Easter everyone. And happy birthday Marie.

Thanks for reading

13 hours ago

Cleanup event set in Portage Twp.

When our family first moved to Portage some 24 years ago, I was a stay-at-home mom. Randy Jr. and Chris were toddlers and when they were a tad over-zealous in their playtime we would go out to our local video store and rent some free kid’s movies. They loved Dr. Seuss’ books and they loved the short videos that we rented of their favorite author. They were extremely fond of “The Lorax” and would watch it over and over. I thought they would wear it out.

“I speak for the trees”, was a familiar quote used around our house when I was showing them how and why we recycle here in Portage. When the full length movie came out, we had to see it. Now, it especially warms my heart, with the new recycle containers, that more people in Portage are recycling more than ever.

As we head into this weekend, let us remember it is important to take care our community, state, country and world by taking care of our Earth. Next Tuesday is Earth Day and I hope people will be out in droves to help us clean up our Portage Township.

Hundreds of coloring contest papers have been given to all Portage Township School’s elementary and middle school age children, by Portage Township Trustee’s office, to give their artistic impressions for Earth Day and how we should recycle at home and all over. Every year’s entries are so beautiful and informative, I know the judges have a difficult time picking the winners.

At 9 a.m. Saturday, Portage Township Park’s Department invites everyone out for their 4th annual Team Up 2 Clean Up. This event is in celebration of Earth Day and volunteers will come together to beautify Haven Hollow Park, Field of Dreams and South Haven Little League fields in South Haven.

Volunteers can help pick up trash, sort recyclables, rake leaves and debris, prune and plant flowers. Everyone will meet at Haven Hollow, 330 W. County Road 700 North, for job assignments and disperse from there. All supplies will be on hand for the clean up. After the clean up at noon, volunteers will be welcomed back for a free refreshments.

For more information or to participate, please email at or visit them on Facebook at Portage Township Trustee ~ Brendan Clancy or call (219) 762-1623 ext. 31.

Please remember to reuse, recycle and remember it all starts with you and yours. I’m really dating myself by using this Romper Room motto but here we go! “Be a do-bee; don’t be a don’t-bee” Portage Township.

My faith in God cannot let me forgo speaking of the greatness of this weekend. We are in the midst of the most important week in history for Christians which culminates in the most triumphant 72 hours, as Jesus Christ dies on the cross for all our sins and is resurrected from the dead to sit at the right hand of God. Hallelujah, Christ has arisen indeed! Happy Easter everyone!

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Email robin at

April 16, 2014 12:00 am

Hobart churches open their doors for Holy Week and Easter services

Happy Easter this Sunday to you and your family and friends. Perhaps a visit to the church of your choice will be just what your soul needs to be refreshed after this long winter.

Trinity Lutheran Church, 900 Luther Drive, Hobart, will hold an Easter Vigil service at 6 p.m. Saturday, with both the Jubilate Bells and Jr. Ringers performing. Easter services led by Pastor Gary Nagy will take place at 7 and 9 a.m. Sunday. The vocal choir will be singing during the service. An Easter breakfast will be served from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m., with a freewill donation welcome.

First United Methodist Church, 654 E. Fourth St., Hobart, invites everyone to attend its Easter Worship Services at 8 or 11 a.m. Easter Sunday morning. Also Pastor Rebecca Smith thanks everyone who attended its “Twenty Minutes for God” services during Lent and especially those who provided the great soups and helped serve lunch. Thanks to the generosity of attendees, $1,725 will be contributed to the Hobart Food Pantry.

St. Bridget Roman Catholic Church invites parishioners to attend Easter Sunday Mass at 8, 9:30 or 11 a.m. at 107 Main St., Hobart.

Trinity United Methodist Church, 3561 Randolph St., Hobart, will host the Good Friday Service of the Calumet East Cluster Methodist Churches at noon Friday. All are welcome.

Lions anniversary looms

Hobart Lions Club, chartered in 1929, is one of the oldest service clubs in Hobart and is preparing to celebrate its 85th anniversary May 10. If you or a family member was ever a Lions club member, you are invited to attend.

If you have historic memorabilia, they would like to borrow it for a display. Contact Lion Clarence Davis at (219) 942-4433 or Lion Chuck Sapper at (219) 942-6987 for more information. Also, the Lions would like to thank all of those who attended its recent pork chop dinner. Proceeds enabled the Lions to make donations of $700 to both the Hobart Food Pantry and Kids Against Hunger.

Veterans serving veterans

Both American Legion Post 54 and the Marine Corps League Howlin' Mad Detachment in Hobart have trained Honor Guards Units which provide military funeral honors upon the request of the family. New members are always welcome and the need for this service is great.

If you are a veteran with time to be involved, monthly training sessions are held. Upon 40 hours of training and participation in a minimum of two funerals, volunteers will be eligible to receive official Department of Defense certification. If interested, leave a message for Martin King with your name and contact information at Post 54 or call (219) 947-2054.

Sinus pain addressed

If you suffer with sinus problems, don’t forget the informative class being offered at 6 p.m. Tuesday at St. Mary Medical Center, 1500 S. Lake Park Ave., Hobart. It is free to the public, but registration is requested by calling (219) 836-3477 or (866) 836-3477.

April 16, 2014 12:00 am

Summer camps offer enrichment for kids

Pretty soon the kids will be out of school and their parents will be looking for activities to keep them busy.

The Chicago Park District has planned some exciting summer programs for Mann Park in Chicago’s Hegewisch neighborhood.

Day Camp at Mann will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, June 23 to Aug. 1 at Mann Fieldhouse. It costs $235 for residents and $470 for nonresidents and is for ages 6 to 13.

During this summer day camp children spend the day with kids their age in a fun and supervised environment. Children participate in recreational activities, arts and crafts, sports, and swimming in a park pool or in Lake Michigan, along with regular field trips.

A similar camp will be held the same times and dates for individuals with a primary intellectual or developmental disability. A wide range of activities are taught by specially trained instructors, and include arts and crafts, field trips, sports, games and more.

This is for ages 8 and older and costs $125 for residents, $250 nonresidents.

In-person registration began April 12 and online registration is also available.

Visit for more information.

Adler Planetarium in Chicago offers a variety of summer day camp experiences for ages 5 to 14. Space and technology enthusiasts can spend part of their summer designing a spacesuit, building rockets, programming robots and more.

Camps run daily from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Registration for the 2014 summer session is now open. Visit or call (312) 322-0329.

Chicago’s Field Museum offers multi-arts camps for ages 4 to 10 with one- and two-week sessions, June 9 to Aug. 15.

Kids learn to discover, explore and imagine while experimenting with a variety of art materials and methods that encourage the development of creative thinking and problem solving skills.

Camps are grouped by ages. Projects include painting, drawing, mixed-media, sculpture, printmaking, performance, digital art and more.

Visit or call (312) 629-6170 for more information.

Navy Pier celebrates the season with a special week of events called Swing into Spring, taking place now through April 20.

Visitors can pose for pictures with the Easter Bunny, meet and greet live animals from Brookfield Zoo, PAWS and the Anti-Cruelty Society and take a $1 ride on the wave singer in Pier Park.

Photos with the bunny are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily in the family pavilion.

For more information, visit

April 16, 2014 12:00 am

The Importance of Grit

Today, more than ever, it is important that we teach our kids about the importance of resiliency, which relates to effort and the ability to persevere despite challenges or obstacles.

That’s true in school, but even more so in the real world where problems can be very complex. Unlike television, problems aren’t neatly solved in a 30 or 60 minute time frame. In real life, closure doesn’t necessarily come at the end of the show, end of a class period or end of a semester. Therefore, it’s critical that resiliency be developed, fostered and encouraged throughout the school years so that our kids have the skills in their lives once they complete school.

Carol Dweck has done considerable research on mind sets and the beliefs that children, as well as adults, hold about intelligence. She found that some people believe that intelligence is fixed, meaning that it is static and will remain the same throughout life. Conversely, others believe that with effort, intelligence can grow. In short, those with a fixed belief are concerned with ‘looking smart’ while those with a growth belief believe that the goal is to get smarter.

Those with a fixed belief think that no matter what they do, it won’t help them to get any better, so why bother trying. Ultimately, that affects their thinking and what they do. They tend to give up at the first sign of a challenge, in hopes that someone will come to the rescue and provide what’s needed. This is known as learned helplessness. Whereas, those with a growth belief know that if they persevere, despite temporary setbacks or momentary failures, they will succeed. Students need to have a growth belief, as there will, invariably, come a time when they will fail at something. That requires grit and resiliency.

There are several factors that foster resiliency. Some of these factors include, but are not limited to: Using good decision making, having caring relationships, high expectations, opportunities to participate and contribute, being assertive, having self-control, perceptiveness, independence, flexibility, a love for learning, self-motivation, competence, perseverance, creativity, and having a positive view of their personal future.

Most certainly, these factors are all important, but can they be taught? Yes. Resilience begins with beliefs. Our actions, words and behaviors project that message and can foster resiliency. It is the understanding that this is a process. As we successfully work through challenges, stress and adversity, we become increasingly resilient. It’s having the belief of a survivor, not a victim. A high percentage of people who come from high-risk environments achieve good outcomes.

Our responsibility as educators and adults is to teach our children that failure, albeit painful, is not necessarily a bad thing. The experiences from which we learn are often shaped from adversity. It is a reality of life, and as much as we would like to buffer our kids from painful experiences, we have a responsibility to prepare them for adulthood, not always attempting to remove all obstacles. Building resiliency is a critical life skill, and it requires OUR resiliency to develop that skill in our youth.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

April 13, 2014 12:00 am

Take opportunities to hear history firsthand

I love history. I love to read about history, I love to write about history and, most of all, I love to hear about history. And for a history buff, there’s nothing better than hearing about historic events from those who lived through them.

In recent years, I’ve really dove into World War II history. I’ve met many veterans of the war and helped to share their stories as told to me. I’ve seen these mature men break down while talking about how they feared for their lives or how they missed their families or how they lost friends in combat.

I’ve heard horrifying descriptions and looked at graphic black and white snapshots and held medals earned through injury. I’ve been able to witness something so many people don’t get to. I’ve learned about this era of history not just through picking up a book, but through hearing their experiences. I’ve heard pain and pride, regret and remorse, elation and relief through their cracked voices. To say I have felt privileged to have been the recipient of these intimate recollections is an enormous understatement.

This past week, I had the opportunity to hear two extraordinary men share their stories in a group setting regarding their experiences during World War II. There were so many facets of the war and so many stories coming from so many different angles. Each speaker had such a different story to tell.

The first was O. Lawton Wilkerson or “Wilk” as he likes to be called. Wilk was born in Chicago Heights and attended Bloom High School. Upon graduation, he went into the Army Air Force, training first at Chanute Air Field in Central Illinois and then at the Tuskegee Institute. Wilk was one of the first African-American pilots in the U.S. Army. He was part of an elite group known as the Tuskegee Airmen.

Wilk, now 88, was part of the first class to fly the B25 at the age of just 19. He finished his training just after the war ended and didn’t have the opportunity to serve in combat. He modestly emphasized repeatedly that he’s “riding the coat tails of those who came before me.” Yet he was part of an extraordinary group that changed the way things were done in the military and years before the Civil Rights movement was helping to pave the way for future generations. Although the role of the Tuskegee Airmen brought forth changes in the military, it was many more years before racial changes would be seen in the country. The Tuskegee Airmen who served in the war, proving their skills as pilots, returned home to be rejected for jobs as commercial pilots due to their race. There were still restaurants they couldn’t eat in and other places they couldn’t go.

Wilk showed the documentary “Who Says Black Men Can’t Fly?” which can easily be found and viewed on YouTube, by the way. As I watched it, I recognized two other men I’d met and saw the museum at the former Chanute Air Museum that I’d visited.

The second speaker was Dr. Alexander White, who visited South Suburban College for a lecture that was open to the community. White, 91, was born in Poland and was 16 when his hometown was invaded by Nazis in 1939. He was the only one of his family of six to survive the war. Of his extended family in that area of Poland, he was one of only three of 34 family members to survive.

White talked about several times he escaped death, the first being when the German Army first arrived demanding that all males from age 16 to 60 come forward. His mother said that he was only 14 and he was spared the firing squad death of many others.

“It was my first experience of the mass killing of perfectly normal, healthy people,” he said.

He described many other scenarios of horrific situations he faced and of how he lost members of his family.

After he made it through the war, White went to medical school and then came to the U.S. where he practiced medicine in Olympia Fields and Park Forest for about four decades before retiring. He now still works near his Arizona home and does speaking engagements to high school and college audiences.

Sometimes I am able to talk to these people because I’m interviewing them as part of my job as a writer or my role as vice president of the Lansing Historical Society, but there are many other opportunities to hear such interesting and significant stories. When you have the chance to hear them, don’t pass them up. Not too far into the future, those who lived through that era will no longer be here to tell these stories. Listen while you can.

April 13, 2014 12:00 am

Holy Week offers Christians a chance to celebrate their faith

Today, Palm Sunday, begins the most holy week for Christians all over the world. With the late arrival of Spring, it is hard to believe we will celebrate Easter next weekend.

Holy Week services

The First Presbyterian Church of Crown Point, 218 S. Court St., invites the public to its celebration of Easter. A candlelight service is at 7 p.m. Maundy Thursday in the social hall, while the youth group will present its annual Good Friday Service at 7 p.m. Easter Sunday services include a Sunrise service at 6:30 a.m., a traditional service at 9 and a Contemporary Service at 10:30.

Test grants awarded

The Crown Point Community Foundation has once again awarded a grant to fund the Advance Placement end-of-the-course tests for Crown Point High School students with a financial need. This year, 45 students received grant money.

To qualify, students had to write an essay. more than 100 students applied and recipients were chosen were based on financial need, number of AP tests the student planned on taking and the quality of their essay.

Give locally May 6

In celebration of 100 years of the community foundation concept, “Give Local America” will host the first national day of giving May 6. To make a  difference, visit The Crown Point Community Foundation will host the local portion of this event. This website includes the countdown to the date, event information and a link to the foundation's Facebook page.

Therapy dog evaluations

Speaking of making a difference, do you have a dog that is people friendly? Are you looking for a way to get involved in the community?

Paw Power Blues Dog Club will conduct a Therapy Dog  Inc. Evaluation at 1:30 p.m. May 4 at 18026 S. U.S. 41, Lowell. Dogs are not required to be perfectly obedient, just need to respond to basic commands and have good manners.

Cost is $10 prior to May 1 and $15 after May 1 through the day of the test.

Therapy Dog Inc. is a national organization, and membership provides insurance coverage and the opportunity to become active in therapy dog visitations. For information, visit

For an application or more information on therapy dog work and the evaluation, contact Joni Monnich at or call (219) 661-0552.

Competitor D.C. bound

Congratulations to Trinity Lutheran School’s Sean Ives, who will be traveling to Washington D.C. to represent the Indiana in this year’s National Geographic Bee. He will also be competing in the Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.

This is the second year in a row that Sean will be competing in both of these national competitions.

School open house

Trinity Lutheran School, 250 S. Indiana Ave., Crown Point, will host an open house from 1:30 to 3 p.m. today. Staff and teachers will be on hand to meet and answer questions.

April 13, 2014 12:00 am

A day in the life of a South Shore Line commuter

I still remember the first time that I rode to Chicago on the South Shore Railroad by myself. It was 1982, my senior year in high school, and I was going downtown to be inducted into the military at the old MEP Center on Michigan Avenue.

It was also the first time that I had been away from home without a family member or a relative close by. The experience was bittersweet. I made it there in one piece and met a lot of nice people, but the military didn’t like the sound of my heart rhythm and there I was the next afternoon, riding the train back, still a civilian.

Fifteen years later, I was back on that same train without the military connection, just me and a bunch of early morning commuters.

With all the buzz about the proposed spur line from Hammond to Dyer, it would do some of us well to remember that there are an awful lot of riders who commute in and out of Chicago every day to bring income and purchasing power back into our corner of the state. That argument has been made, but few have talked about what the commute is like for those regulars.

Bear in mind that my work schedule runs from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the place that you park has a bearing on at least part of your commute.

Since I take the 5:52 a.m. train out of East Chicago, and want to be at least one of the first out of the parking lot on the way home, I set my alarm for 4:30. This allows me to get ready and avoid any issues with the freight trains coming through Hammond on a regular basis.

Finding the proper escape route and parking space, I make my way into the station and find my usual group of friends. We talk about the weather, of course, because for many of us who stand on that platform, the weather is not just casual conversation.

The train is pretty dependable in spite of our complaints, but it is not a good place for those who want to get a sound sleep. You can usually get a bit of reading in or some work on your computer if you have good concentration skills, or better still, good headphones.

I believe there are four basic types of riders - readers, sleepers, observers and talkers. I think that I fit into all four categories at various stages of the commute.

In my 17 years of riding, I have met all kinds of people, and we have helped each other out when the weather knocked out the train line or, heaven forbid, you missed your stop. We often see each other off the train and, in most cases, we don’t even know each other's name, since our exchanges are usually just a smile as we go about our business.

Others I have been riding with for almost 20 years, and we talk about books we are reading, what the garden looks like this year, or how the kids are doing. It is because of Todd, Dave, Phil, Dan, Kathy, Jan and a number of others that I don’t feel too bad about rising at 4:30 and getting home 13 hours later to start it all over again.

South Shore commuters are a hearty group, thousands and thousands of them every day. They are the real story behind the push for a new spur to Dyer.

April 13, 2014 12:00 am

Ivy Tech promotes baby boomers with "Plus 50" initiative

Ivy Tech Community College knows the value of matching local job market needs with a trained workforce, and now they are working to prepare adults 50 and older for careers that give back to the community.

Appropriately named Plus 50, this program is designed to assist older adults in earning degrees or certificates in the high-demand fields of health care, education, and social services.

The Ivy Tech campuses in East Chicago, Gary, and Valparaiso are ideally located to capture this wonderful baby boomer market, and Ivy Tech already has a great reputation for catering to the needs of non-traditional students. The Northwest Indiana campuses offer flexible scheduling, including evening and weekend courses, to meet the needs of all students.

Let’s face it – the U.S. workforce is aging and nearly 80 million baby boomers will soon be entering their retirement years.

This generation is not one that desires to slow down, however. They want to contribute to their communities, and what better way to remain competitive in the workplace than by expanding their knowledge at a local community college and launching new careers.

As we emerge from the worst recession in decades, we find that jobs are still scarce in many areas, and the competition for jobs is fierce. Many 50+ adults worked for decades for a particular company, only to lose their jobs in the recession and then discover that their skills were no longer current in the marketplace.

It is a well-known fact that Ivy Tech Community College has a solid reputation for offering open access and opportunity for students of all ages and backgrounds. With their flexible schedules, affordable tuition, and an emphasis on practical job training, Ivy Tech is perfectly positioned to prepare the Baby Boomer Brigade with its exciting “Plus 50” initiative.

LaShung Willis, director of the Ivy Tech Institute for Education and Training, is ready to recruit candidates from the eager Plus 50 group, and she can be reached at (219) 981-4402 or

So what are you baby boomers waiting for? Give Ivy Tech a call today, and get back into the workforce.

April 11, 2014 12:00 am

Crossroads chamber to host Best of the Northwest Expo

Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce will host the Best of the Northwest Business and Consumer Expo on Wednesday, May 28 at the Radisson Hotel at Star Plaza, Merrillville.

The expo will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. and is free to the public. View demos, receive samples, and win prizes from more than 60 vendors.

Vendor booths are still available. Interested parties should contact Membership Director Tristen Comegys at or (219) 769-8180.

Easter Open House

Opportunity Enterprises’ Simply Amazing Market will host an Easter Open House from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at 2801 Evans Ave., Valparaiso. 

Visitors will receive free photos with the Easter Bunny and a variety of product samples. Pre-made Easter gift baskets, chocolate bunnies and other Easter treats will be available for purchase.

Regular store hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.Monday through Friday. To find out more about the market, visit or call (219) 464-9621, ext. 289.

Family Science Night

The Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana will host its Second Saturday Family Science Program on Saturday at 2300 173rd St., Hammond, on the campus of Purdue University Calumet.

Beginning at 2 p.m., guests can participate in a mini mission and watch a planetarium and laser light show for $15.  During the Mars mini mission, participants will help restore communication to the Mars Curiosity Rover while partnering and working together to man the stations in the Center’s spacecraft simulator.  

The planetarium show, “Saturn: Jewel of the Heavens,” will unravel the mysteries of Saturn, from its bizarre moons to the millions of icy particles that compose its rings. Attendees will also learn easy-to-use stargazing tips to find points of interest in the skies over southern Lake Michigan during “South Shore Skies.”  

The laser light show, “LaserMagic,” will offer music by  Joan Jett, The B-52’s, Will Smith, The Blackhearts and more.

Attendees may purchase tickets to just the laser light show or planetarium show for $5 for adults or $3 for children. A special package including both shows is $8 for adults and $5 for children.

Individual planetarium shows begin at 3 and 4:45 p.m. Individual laser light shows begin at 4 and 5:45 p.m.  To make a reservation, call (219) 989-3250 or visit

Spaghetti dinner

The St. Helen Philoptochos Ladies Society of SS. Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Cathedral, 8000 Madison St., Merrillville, will host its seventh annual Benefit Spaghetti Dinner for the Ross Township Food Pantry from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday, May 15, at he church hall.

Trip to Chicago Field Museum

The Friends of the Crown Point Library have a bus trip planned to the Chicago Field Museum for Monday, June 2. The cost is $40 and includes the transportation and an All-Access Pass to the museum. Tickets will go on sale May 1 at the Crown Point Community Library's circulation desk, 122 N. Main St.

Call (219) 663-0270.

April 10, 2014 12:00 am

Kiwanis Easter Bunny Breakfast and 2 Egg-citing Hunts

The Portage Kiwanis Club is just full of people that you see at so many other events in our city. This club is committed to helping children; children in families that would otherwise would normally have to just get by or do without. “We’re all about the kids.”

The Kiwanis Club of Portage was formed in 1997 and meets every Tuesday at 7:30 a.m. at the Porter Hospital, Portage Campus Cafe. They always welcome new members over the age of 18. Many great events have grown from the Kiwanis Club, including the Relay for Life and Portage Rebuilding Together. They help sponsor the Annual Portage Safety Day and Bike Rodeo which teaches kids and parents all kinds of safety procedures and provides bike helmets and smoke detectors. Their Third Grade Dictionary Project puts a free personalized dictionary into every Portage Township Schools third grader’s hands at an integral time in their reading lives. What a joy to see them get so excited over a simple Webster’s dictionary; it’s like you given most of them a small fortune.

This Saturday is the 9th year the Kiwanis Club is holding an all-you-can-eat Breakfast with the Easter Bunny in conjunction with the Portage Park Department and Real Life Church’s Annual Easter Egg Hunt. The breakfast features AYCE pancakes, sausage, sponsored by Schoop’s of Portage, and beverages will be from 8 to 11 a.m. in the Oakwood Hall of Woodland Park. Tickets are available at the door for $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Pictures with the Easter Bunny will also be available for free courtesy of Walgreen’s. All proceeds will be used to give out four scholarships in Myron Fessler’s name to graduating Portage Township seniors. Fessler was a beloved Willowcreek Middle School teacher and coach that succumbed to cancer some years ago.

At 10 a.m., kids can look forward to the rousing, old-fashioned Easter Egg Hunt put on by the Real Life Community Church. I miss the boys being small and searching all over for those brightly colored eggs filled with surprises. Now I’m waiting for grandchildren.

What a morning it will be for everyone. Come on out and help the Kiwanians help our kids, get some pancakes, have a great morning with the bunny and hunt down those eggs.

But if 10 a.m. is too early for your busy schedule, grab your basket and come on out to the Portage First United Methodist Church’s Crossroads property (2736 McCool) just south of the church at 4:30 p.m. this Saturday for another great egg-citing hunt for kids 3 to 12 years of age.

After the hunt, everyone is invited back to the church for a free light supper at 5. Following dinner there will be games, family activities and a reading of the Easter story.

Where ever your day takes you, have a great time in Portage!

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

April 09, 2014 12:00 am

Give Local Crown Point on May 6 and make a difference

Give Local Crown Point on May 6 and make a difference

“Being the richest man the in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me. . . Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful. . . that’s what matters to me.”

- Steve Jobs

On May 6, the Crown Point Community Foundation is participating in Give Local America, a national day of local giving.

This 24-hour online giving event will support important causes and meet needs right here in Crown Point and south Lake County. The Crown Point Community Foundation is partnering with 23 local nonprofits, and all gifts made online May 6 will directly benefit these organizations.

The nonprofits that are participating in the Give Local event are: American Cancer Society, Campagna Academy, Fair Haven Center for Women, Forest Ridge Academy, Franciscan Communities, Franciscan Community Services, Friends of Crown Point Adult Learning Center, Gary Life Education Initiative Incorporated, Habitat for Humanity of NWI, Independent Cat Society, Lake County Historical Society Museum, Lake Region Christian Assembly, MAAP Services, Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana, Northwest Indiana Cancer Kids Foundation, Opportunity Enterprises, Planting Possibilities, Power Paws for Kids Inc. AAT, Sojourner Truth House, South Lake County Community Services, Special Olympics Lake County, St. Clare Health Clinic and St. Jude House.

Because this event is held in partnership with community foundations across the country, Give Local America is likely to be the largest online fundraising event in history.

The Crown Point Community Foundation will join the Porter County Community Foundation, the Legacy Foundation and the Unity Foundation in the give day event. Give to the nonprofits that mean the most to you. Remember, on May 6 your gift will stay local to affect the charities you care about the most.

The Crown Point Community Foundation is encouraging everyone in the community to be a philanthropist. Many people think you have to be rich to give back. I want to remind you that every gift counts - no matter the size. Every gift can make a big difference. When we “pool” our resources, the impact can be outstanding.

Give Local America marks the centennial anniversary of community foundations in America. In 1914, the first community foundation was founded in Cleveland; now, 100 years later, there are more than 700 community foundations across the U.S.A. and more than 1,400 in the world.

The Crown Point Community Foundation has played an active role in Crown Point and south Lake County, since 1990 and has grown to administer more than $22 million in assets.

We are most proud of the foundation’s grant work. Since 1990, the CPCF has distributed more than $7 million in grants for community needs, projects and programs. The CPCF is making a difference in the community by helping to enhance our quality of life.

Please join me in making an online gift May 6 by visiting

April 09, 2014 12:00 am

Local events keep Easter Bunny hopping

Local events keep Easter Bunny hopping

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny was hopping this Sunday in Hegewisch. The General Pulaski Knights of Columbus 3223 served up its annual tradition with plenty of eggs, French toast and pancakes to satisfy hungry attendees.

The Easter Bunny stood near the front of the room, greeting young visitors and mingling with older ones. The breakfast seemed extra busy as we even had trouble finding seats this year.

Catholic men 18 or older who attend St. Columba, St. Florian or Mother of God Church and are interested in joining the General Pulaski Council can email Knights@Hegewisch.Net.

St. Florian will have a spring brunch from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 27 in the school gymnasium, 131st and Houston Avenue. They will serve all-you-can-eat breakfast and lunch items for $12 for adults and $5 for kids ages 4 to 10. Prices increase to $15 and $6 if purchased at the door. There will be raffles and bake sales.

To buy tickets, call (773) 646-4877 or (773) 646-2868.

Calumet Memorial Park District will be hosting egg hunts at four locations this weekend.

Come out at noon April 12 to Memorial Park, Wentworth Avenue and Memorial Drive; Veterans Parks, Burnham Avenue and 165th Street; Sandridge Center, Oglesby Avenue and Memorial Drive; or Burnham Park, Greenbay Avenue and 138th Place, and let the kids search for eggs.

Don’t forget to bring bags for their candy. Call (708) 862-6443 for more information.

April 09, 2014 12:00 am

Hobart Garden Club and Friends of Robinson Lake host seedling giveaway

The Hobart Garden Club is thinking Spring with a giveaway of pecan, swamp white oak, and redbud tree seedlings, along with ninebark shrubs, from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Robinson Lake Park, 5250 Liverpool Road, Hobart. 

Partnering with the HGC, the Friends of Robinson Lake will offer, also free of charge, flowering dogwood tree seedlings. All trees will be provided to the public on a first come, first serve basis.

Members of both organizations plan to have several hundred trees prepared and wrapped in newspaper. Planting instructions will also be available. An Arbor Day display will showcase the importance of tree planting to the environment and displays from both organizations will highlight their efforts and accomplishments.

Concert band heralds Spring

The annual Spring Concert of the Hobart Area Concert Band will be held at 3 p.m. April 27 at the Hobart Middle School Auditorium, 36 E. Eighth St.

Tickets are $5 (school age children and nursing home residents attend free) at the door. Despite the hard harsh winter, members have been faithfully rehearsing and plan an inspired family concert filled with some interesting surprises involving dancing, directing and musical instruments.

“Members and directors have come and gone, but the band will continue as long as there are people who love to still love to play and perform their instrument in a band,” Band Director Sue Williams said.

If you’re a fan of concert band music, the band (formerly The Rusty Pipes) is announcing its 2014 Summer Season schedule. Now in its 32nd year,  performances are scheduled for June 13 or 14 - Flag Day, at Hobart Elks Lodge 1152; July 2 - Hobart Festival Park Concert and Cake Walk; July 4 - Hobart Fourth of July Parade; July 15 - Portage Woodland Park, Oakwood Grand Hall; July 19 - Chesterton Coffee Creek Amphitheater, which includes a performance by Hobart High School's Wolffgang; and July 31 - LaPorte-Fox Park, Dennis Smith Amphitheatre. All summer concerts have free admission.

For more information, visit To join the band, contact Williams at

Learn about sinus options

Innovative Treatment Options for Sinus Sufferers will be the subject of a class at 6 p.m. April 22 at St. Mary Medical Center, 1500 S. Lake Park Ave., Hobart.

Dennis Han, M.D., Ear, Nose and Throat specialist, will discuss the latest technologies in sinus surgery that provide patients with less invasive options and minimal discomfort. Learn how minimally invasive Balloon Sinuplasty may offer relief.

This class is free and open to the public, but registration is requested. Call (219) 836-3477 or (866) 836-3477.

Church services

If your church would like a mention of its special Easter services, email me and I will include as many as possible in my column next week. Thank you.

April 09, 2014 12:00 am

PSC Foundation has supported students 40 years

The Prairie State College Foundation is celebrating 40 years of offering opportunities for students through tuition assistance. The Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in 1973 and dedicated to helping Prairie State College students pursue their education.

For many PSC students, even those receiving financial aid, there are still gaps between the education costs and what they can pay. The PSC Foundation works to bridge the gap between what students have and what they need. A variety of options are offered, including assistance with tuition, fees, and textbooks.

Deborah Smith Havighorst, executive director of the PSC Foundation, is passionate about meeting the needs of students. “We have opportunities every day to assist students and it is an honor and a privilege to be in a position to help them realize their dreams of earning a college degree.”

The PSC Foundation board members, a dedicated group of unpaid volunteers, bring leadership, insight, and new contacts for the Foundation, as well as represent the diverse PSC district. Their three main annual fundraising events include a Special Event Dinner sponsored by Absolute Best Cleaning Services, Planera Architects, the Prairie State College board of trustees, and UPS, held in November; an Economic Forecast Breakfast sponsored by MB Financial Bank and held in March; and a Scholarship Classic held in June. This year’s Scholarship Classic is a golf and tennis outing sponsored by UPS and Barnes & Noble on June 2, at Idlewild Country Club in Flossmoor (golf) and Olympia Fields Country Club (tennis). The proceeds from these events fund student scholarships.

The PSC Foundation also provides funding for special college projects that fall outside of the realm of the college budget and that help further student-focused initiatives. Examples of some special funding requests include the Knits for Vets Project — students and employees creating handmade items for residents at the Manteno Veterans Home while promoting student engagement and retention, the Chicago Shakespeare Theater at PSC — bringing talented actors and legendary theater to the PSC stage, student planners, study guides, and much more.

This year the Foundation made a significant donation to the college’s Writing Center. The Writing Center has been a major resource for students trying to improve their writing skills with one-on-one tutoring for writing assistance and its existence was threatened due to a budget crunch. The Foundation’s financial assistance was timely and crucial for the center and will allow it to stay open for the remainder of this fiscal year.

The PSC Foundation helps students realize their dream of a college education. The college tag line, Start Near, Go Far, truly represents the path of many community college students. The financial assistance the Foundation provides students helps them achieve this goal.  For more information on the PSC Foundation, contact Havighorst at (708) 709- 7918,, or visit

April 07, 2014 12:00 am

Keeping schools safe

The Portage Township School system employs approximately 600 non-certified staff across the district.

These employees perform a myriad of behind-the-scene duties that make our schools a safe, secure and healthy learning environment for staff and students. As the Director of Support Personnel & Auxiliary Services, I feel privileged to lead a team of individuals so dedicated to the success of Portage Township students.

Two employee groups who work hand-in-hand to maintain our facilities and grounds are our maintenance and custodial services employees. This group ensures that 17 buildings, with more than 2 million square feet of interior space and approximately 275 acres of land, are cleaned, maintained and ready to service the needs of students and staff.

The maintenance department consists of a director, clerical support, skilled and semi-skilled workers, totaling 16 employees. This department handles the majority of major repair and maintenance to our buildings and grounds. The department keeps the plumbing, carpentry, electrical and HVAC systems functioning properly, as well as meeting the needs of the staff and students. They are also responsible for large area mowing and snow removal from all parking lots in the district. This department works with building and district level administrators in the development of our capital projects plan to ensure budgeting for the continuous updating of buildings and grounds.

The custodial services department consists of a director, clerical support, warehouse manager, building supervisors and three shifts of custodians totaling more than 100 employees. Their job is to clean classrooms, labs, offices, hallways, gyms, building exteriors, etc., as well as performing light maintenance duties. The custodial staff is also responsible for mowing around buildings and snow removal from sidewalks and walkways.

Building design, materials, maintenance and cleaning contribute greatly to our focus on student achievement. There have been several studies connecting the design, materials, lighting and cleanliness to the attitude and perception that students develop toward their schooling.

Furthermore, studies show that the development of strong, caring and supportive adult mentor relationships is a strong contributor to student achievement. It is clear that there is great value in having a strong, competent non-certified staff. Remember, that when a child leaves home in the morning to head to school they typically see a smile from their bus driver, a good morning at breakfast from a food service employee, clean and shiny hallways and bathrooms from the custodial staff, lighting and plumbing that is safe and sanitary from our maintenance staff and help and assistance from our clerical and support staffs.

These departments are staffed by outstanding people who contribute greatly to the academic achievement of students at Portage Township Schools.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

April 06, 2014 12:00 am

Science fair winners earn trophies at Col. Wheeler Middle School

Congratulations to Col. John Wheeler Middle School Science Fair overall winners Matt Sulka and Hugo Rodriguez.

The school recently held its second science fair. Eighth-graders were able to choose their topic of study, then show off their skills using the scientific method to solve problems. Students chose a variety of topics including investigations into music and thinking, a sense of snakes and where does grass grow the best.

The winners of each group received a ribbon. Overall winners received a trophy and recognition. The fair was judged by members of the community, including Mayor David Uran.

Breakfast and more

For those of you looking for some company and fellowship, enjoy St. John United Church of Christ's Breakfast and Blessing on Saturdays, April 12 and 26. Breakfast is served from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. and is free, but good will donations are gratefully accepted.

Jump, hop or skip

Trinity Lutheran School in Crown Point will host a fundraiser from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Midwest Training Center, 10600 White Oak Ave, Dyer. Children in kindergarten through grade 8 will enjoy a Jump, Hop, Skip, Run or Flip program. The cost is $10, with 50 percent of the proceeds going to Trinity’s PTL.

Nurses host benefit run

It is always hard on a family when someone is stricken with cancer. IUN Nurses on the Run will help the family of Lidia Sibakoska, a widowed mother of four battling cancer for the third time, medically unable to work and is being denied Medicaid.

A race will be held at 9:30 a.m. April 27 at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 889 S. Court St., Crown Point. The cost to enter is $35.

To register, visit Call Nicky at (219) 713-3702 with any questions.

Flip a coin

Goodfellow Coin Club will host its annual spring Tri-Cities Coin Show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 3 at St. Matthias Church Hall, 101 W. Burrell Drive, Crown Point. 

The show will include a multitude of dealers selling, buying and trading collectable coins, currency, gold, silver and coin collecting supplies. Club members will be on hand to provide information on club membership and answer questions on collecting. The club is a member of the Indiana State Numismatic Association and Central States Numismatic Association.

Back from break

Hopefully, the Crown Point High School students who traveled to Germany for Spring break this past week enjoyed some Spring-like weather.

Students left March 30 to fly to Frankfurt, and from there students they visited Rothenburg, Heidelburtg, Dachau, Munich, Innsbruck, Venice, Verona, Luzern, the Alps and the Black Forest.

Heidi Polizotto, German teacher, and Lisa Landgrebe, senior English teacher, chaperoned this wonderful trip,  hoping to give students a travel experience they will remember for the rest of their lives.

April 06, 2014 12:00 am

Tuesday is Lansing Fallen Heroes Memorial Day

At last week’s Village Board meeting, Village President Norm Abbott presented a proclamation declaring April 8 as Lansing Fallen Heroes Memorial Day. By designating that day, it helps bring awareness to the sacrifices made by our public servants and specifically to Officer Kenneth Novak Jr. and Lance Cpl. Phil Martini, who each died on April 8 in separate years in serving honorably in their chosen professions.

Officer Novak died on April 8, 1992, in the line of duty. He is the only Lansing police officer to lose his life while performing his duties with the Lansing Police Department. Martini died while serving with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq on April 8, 2006. He is the only person from Lansing who has lost his life while performing his duties in the current war.

As time passes, it is up to those in the community to make sure they are not forgotten. By designating April 8 as a day of remembrance, it helps newer residents become aware of the men and reminds longtime residents they paid the ultimate sacrifice by protecting us.

I’ve gotten to know members of the Novak and Martini families a bit over the years and both of them appeared on the cover of my most recent book. Both were appreciative of the recognition given to their loved one. Novak’s parents, sister and a niece who was born after his death were in attendance at the board meeting.

“I just wanted to say that I'm touched that Lansing has remembered, and will continue to remember Ken. Between the sign at the exit/entrance to the police parking with his badge number on it, the plaque in the Police Department lobby, and now the memorial day, it's nice to know at the very least, the Lansing Police Department will remember, even though there are very few left on the force that actually knew Ken,” said Novak’s sister, Kathy Faucault. “I do have a friend from another state whose son was killed in the line of duty in a big city, and he has all but been forgotten. It's nice to know that the town of Lansing and it's residents care.”

“On behalf of my family, friends of Phil, and the Marines that served with Phil we are humbled and honored,” said Phil’s brother, James Martini. “The town of Lansing and it's surrounding communities have shown tremendous support to keeping Phil and Officer Novak's memory alive.”

I’m pleased this day has been named Lansing Fallen Heroes Memorial Day and I hope throughout the village, residents will find a way to honor these brave men. Fly a flag in front of your home to remember. Light a candle. Say a prayer with your family at the dinner table. Visit the Lansing Veterans Memorial. Visit the Lansing police station. Stop by the Martini tree planted at Winterhoff Park. Go to the Lansing Police Officer Kenneth Novak Jr. Memorial Page Facebook page or the Lance Cpl. Philip J. Martini Memorial Foundation Facebook page and learn a little more about them. Seek out a current Lansing police officer or someone in the military and express your gratitude for their service.

This past week our family took a trip to Indianapolis to enjoy the attractions there while the kids were on spring break. We had a fun time visiting museums and the zoo and eating at some great restaurants, but my favorite stop of our visit was one we originally didn’t even have on our itinerary. It was the Indiana War Memorial and I recommend a stop there for anyone visiting Indy. As we were driving by to get to another destination, I knew we’d have to include a stop. It’s a very beautiful and solemn place to reflect on why we have the freedom we do and to remember those like Martini who have provided it for us. The structure itself is one of the most beautiful and breathtaking places I’ve ever seen.

Still time to RSVP for Veteran Appreciation Dinner

The Lansing Junior Woman’s Club will be hosting the fifth annual Veteran Appreciation Dinner at 5 p.m. April 17 at the Knights of Columbus, 17800 Lorenz Ave. in Lansing. The evening includes dinner, dessert, raffles and entertainment and is free to all veterans and current military and a guest. RSVP deadline is April 8. To RSVP call (708) 895-8982 or email

I also want to thank the Lansing Veterans Memorial Ceremonial Honor Guard for inviting me to their appreciation dinner last weekend. They’re such a special group of people and I feel honored to be welcomed to their functions. Also in attendance was Bob Zajac and his wife, owners of Pudgy’s Pizza in Hegewisch. Zajac is a Vietnam veteran and has supported the Honor Guard throughout the years. His first contact was when he heard they were doing an overnight POW vigil at the airport and he sent pizzas out to those participating. He’s also been a big supporter of St. Florian School and has donated to the school, which was slated to close at the end of the school year and will now remain open thanks to donations. Kudos to Zajac for his support of the Hegewich and Lansing communities.

April 06, 2014 12:00 am

Record Store Day takes music lovers back to the days of LPs and 45s

I don’t watch a lot of television. My family can attest that to me at least, most of what passes for entertainment is pretty low brow.

I do, however, watch The Voice on NBC, or at least segments of it as often as I can. It is a show that covers one of my favorite subjects, music.

From the time that I was probably 10 up to this day, music has always been the way that I mark certain times in my life. You can harken back to when you were in high school and the hit song playing on the radio may have been sung by Peter Frampton or, for those of you a little older, The Beatles or Elvis Presley.

My father had all the original Elvis Presley LPs and 45s. For younger readers, an "LP" was a long-play record, with up to a dozen songs on two sides. The music was often scratchy, but it had its own feel to it. My father’s records were all in the cardboard album covers with plastic sleeves protecting them from oily fingerprints.

Album covers were often quite elaborate. There were  Frank Frazetta paintings on the covers of the Molly Hatchet albums back in the late 1970s. Frazetta was a science fiction artist and his paintings were quite detailed in a way that could never be accommodated on a small CD cover.

Then there were the liner notes. You almost looked forward to the double albums so that there would be a poster or a set of liner notes that could easily pass for a small magazine. The notes would cover the all  song lyrics as well as stories about the songs themselves complete with pictures of the band members.

All of this great material was available to the music aficionado by simply going to the local record store, finding your favorite artist and thumbing through the stacks. Albums even had their own high-fidelity smell and feel to them.

So it is kind of funny watching The Voice while the artists make their way through songs that many in the audience assume are new tracks.

A couple of years ago, Adam Levine managed almost single-handedly to resurrect Doby Gray and his wonderful song "Drift Away," which hit the charts in 1973, long before many of the singers on the show were even born. I sit there and hope that the judges dig a little deeper and pull out a Harry Nilsson or Marvin Gaye song.

In the meantime, some of our local radio stations are promoting something much more useful than my reminiscences. Coming up Saturday, April 19, music fans nationwide will be celebrating Record Store Day, when fans are encouraged to shop at a local record store that still sells LPs and 45s.

Thumb through the stacks again and find yourself, if you are old enough, thinking about what it was like to do that same thing in college or high school.

Among the stores participating in this year’s Record Store Day is Highland’s own S&J Stereo, 8620 Kennedy Ave. S&J sells albums, as well as CDs, so stop by April 19 for a trip back to when music was appreciated for its sound, before video killed the radio song.

April 06, 2014 12:00 am

Faunal archaeology

Faunal archaeology

As the last Ice Age receded about 14,000 years ago, people began moving into the Kankakee Marsh. These early people were drawn to this "Everglades of the North" because of its abundance of wildlife and other natural resources.

Mark Schurr wrote that the Collier Lodge site "was clearly a popular place to camp throughout most of the last 10,000 years. The site was also in use throughout the historic period, which begins in A.D. 1680 with LaSalle’s journey down the Kankakee during his exploration of the St. Joseph-Kankakee portage."

In William Mangold's dissertation he wrote that this spot was popular because: "An easy and safe crossing of the marsh could occur at only one location. The crossing was essentially a sand ridge with the northern terminus at a location now called Baum’s Bridge, although its earlier names included the Potawatomi Trail Crossing and Eaton’s Ferry. This use of this crossing continued into modern times."

An important aspect of archaeology is the examination of the animal remains. Terrance (Terry) Martin worked the Collier Lodge dig as an advisor of faunal material. Martin is curator and chair of anthropology at the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, where he is responsible for the management of the Anthropology Section’s collections and the Museum’s zooarchaeology laboratory. His 2013 Collier Lodge dig program video can be found at our KVHS YouTube site. Look for KVHS1 for his and other KVHS videos.

Martin's 2013 program was about the fragments of bones, teeth and shells from animals discovered in the Upper Mississippian features at the Collier Lodge site. His examination found white-tailed deer, muskrat, wild turkey, otter, elk, ducks, goose, beaver, raccoon, turtles, fish and black bear remains. His data shows that the sample consists of at least 130 individual animals. He estimates that venison represents about 60 percent of the consumable meat from mammals, and that all mammals contributed just under 70 percent of the total biomass.

Nearly 36 percent of the identified animal remains from Collier Lodge are from fish (mostly bowfin) and 43 percent are from a diverse array of turtles. Less than 3 percent of the identified animal remains are from birds, of which wild turkey bones are most numerous. The lesser numbers of bones from ducks and Canada geese may indicate a summer occupation when large flocks were not migrating through the area. One interesting point Martin found was there was no dog or canid remains, unlike the situation found at most late prehistoric sites in the Midwest.

Martin is also working on the Fort St. Joseph project near Niles, Mich. The article "Story of Fort St. Joseph" can be found at the KVHS website. Martin will present "Use of Animals at French Heritage Archaeological Sites in the Midwest.” This program is open to the public and will be held at 7 p.m. April 15 at the Valparaiso University Kallay-Christopher Hall, Room 112.

Collier Lodge archaeological project documents and reports can found at the KVHS website (

John P. Hodson is founder, president of Kankakee Valley Historical Society Inc. This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

April 04, 2014 12:00 am

Saturday's Slugfest is a boxing event for Make A Wish Foundation

Spring is here and the City of Hammond's calendar of events is starting to fill up. It’s that time of year where everyone comes out of hibernation and gets involved. So get busy!

Slugfest 911

Come out to the Hammond Civic Center, 5825 Sohl Ave., on Saturday to support a great cause. Slugfest is a Police Officer vs. Firefighter Charity Boxing event with funds going to the Make a Wish Foundation. Doors open at 6 p.m. with fights starting at 7.

General admission tickets are available at the Hammond Civic Center Box Office. Adults tickets are $10, while children pay $5.

Indoor Garage Sale

Jean Shepherd Community Center, 3031 Mahoney Drive, will host an Indoor Garage Sale from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Turn an unwanted treasure into a prized possession. Admission is free and concessions will be available. For more information, call (219) 554-0155.

Innovation Expo

A Day of Adventure in Northwest Indiana, Innovation Expo 2014 will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 12 at Jean Shepherd Community Center.

Admission is free, while food and beverages will be available for purchase. Exhibits include Fair Oaks Farms, Hospice Artisans, Ozinga Energy, Fitness Pointe and many more.

For more information and details, call John Davies at (219) 981-1111, ext. 2292.

Easter Egg Hunt

Hammond's annual Easter Egg Hunts will take place April 12, 10 a.m. at Dowling Park, 175th and Parrish Avenue, and noon at Pulaski Park, 139th Street and Sheffield Avenue.

This event is free to Hammond residents. Please bring your own Easter basket. Age groups for this event are 2-4 years, 5-7 years, 8-10 years, and 11-12 years. Contact Gabby at (219) 853-6378 for more information.

Vince Neil and Warrant concert

Vince Neil, the legendary voice of Motley Crue, is coming to the Hammond Civic Center on April 12. Michael Golden & Friends, along with Warrant, have been slated to open for Neil.

The doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7. All tickets are general admission and cost $25; they are available at the Hammond Civic Center Box Office or online at For more information, call (219) 853-6378.

Job Fair

The City of Hammond’s 11th annual Job Fair sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 17 at Jean Shepherd Community Center.

Connect with local businesses in the areas of government, finance, health care, sales and manufacturing. Call Anne Anderson at (219) 853-6508, ext. 312 for more details.

April 04, 2014 12:00 am

T.F. North juniors seek help to explore Mexico, Spain this summer

Congratulations to Tayah Brent and Melissa Garcia, two high-performing, high-achieving T.F. North juniors who were selected to participate in the Indiana University Honors Program in Foreign Language. They have less than 60 days to raise almost $4,500 each to pay for their airfare and fees to participate in the program. Both girls said they will conduct fundraisers and ask relatives, friends, classmates, and teachers for donations.

Tayah’s guidance counselor, Allison Braasch, said the program is “a tremendous cultural, leadership, and growth opportunity for Tayah and Melissa. I hope that our community will rally around these two gifted young women by offering their financial support to help them take advantage of this opportunity.”

Tayah, a dancer and avid musician who plays percussion instruments including the drums, guitar, and piano, is excited to learn more about another culture and enhance her foreign language skills. An honors student with a 3.5 grade point average, she will be placed with a host family in Mexico. Melissa will stay with a host family in Spain for the duration of the seven-week program. A student-athlete, Melissa plays soccer, volleyball, and bowling and has been consistently in the top of her class since her freshman year. She currently is ranked second in her class.

Individuals interested in donating may contact the students’ guidance counselors, Allison Braasch and Juanita Medina at (708) 585-1018 and (708) 585-1032 and via email at and

Any public or private school student who is 15 years and three months old by June 1 and resides in the District 215 boundaries may register at the T.F. North, T.F. South, or T.F. Center for Academics and Technology bookstores for driver education courses from 8 a.m. to noon and 2:30 to 3 p.m. daily from April 7 through May 10. The total cost is $260, which includes the cost of the course and the learner’s permit.

State law requires that any student who registers for driver training has received a passing grade in at least eight courses during the previous two semesters. Students are required to attend all classes during the summer school driver education program.

Driver education participants will be accommodated by age. Information regarding the steps required to obtain the learner’s permit will be provided during registration. Contact Principal Kent Farlow at (708) 585-2353 to register and for additional information regarding the District 215 driver education program.

April 04, 2014 12:00 am

Consequences of Government-Controlled Education?

I admit that the argument of this piece has been all but settled by the actions of state and federal politicians, and by a lack of awareness by the public of the results that follow, but if others are inspired to think about the topic, then writing this serves its purpose. Regardless, is it not the purpose of a teacher to inspire others to think critically?

Milton Friedman argued that choices can be lumped into one of four decision-making classes based on two factors—whose money is being spent and on whom it is spent. To be brief, I will write of only two classes. In one case, humans are free to spend their money on themselves. As it applies to education, people would seek the greatest educational benefits at the lowest cost.

Parents would be free to choose what their children learn based on choosing where to live. If this were so, parents within Duneland and elsewhere would influence what their student learned by the threat of moving, and the tax dollars the school would lose as a result. This was closest to existence when schools were mostly funded by local property taxes. As politicians continue to take control over education, decisions about student learning become entirely in the hands of faceless officials who make decisions within Freidman’s fourth category—spending other people’s money on other people. In this case, elected officials—who have not met your child—cannot possibly decide what benefits your child best, nor will they wisely consider the final bill for it is not theirs to pay.

The tax collectors take your money without your consent and without limit, and spend it on educational goals and services without knowing your child’s needs. As a result, several Indiana communities were forced to raise their local property taxes to fund money shortages created from such hopeless seize and divert programs. Meanwhile, schools that received funds taken from successful schools have been taken over by the State due to their dreadful student performance.

The lawmakers’ actions are likely well-meaning; however, before government-controlled education existed we were taught that a certain path exists that is paved with good intentions. Still, I advise the reader to think about the possible unplanned consequences the continual shift in education may have on their most prized possession—their children. I regularly challenged students to think about an observation humans have made from many countries and for a very long time; “when the central planners’ plans fail, the central planners plan more.” A recent article that argued learning begins at the dinner table was half correct; it is best served there.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

April 03, 2014 12:00 am

My father keeps them laughing

Well, Dad’s in the hospital.

Not unusual I suppose. After 93 turns around the sun ... well, stuff happens. This episode was gall stones.

One endoscopy using “twilight” anesthesia failed, but the second time around was a charm though Dad had to be put under a general anesthetic which makes the procedure easier, but is riskier. It seems the docs would rather not put older folks into too deep a sleep.

Many stones were removed, some duct work was widened, and Dad woke up just fine. Now some days of therapy to regain some strength and balance and it’s back home.

Pretty amazing for a guy who almost didn’t make it home as a 3-year-old because of a kidney stone, and is now going home as a 93-year-old stone free ... we hope.

What’s probably more amazing is the manner in which he dealt with his adversity which was at times, pretty adverse. The three days without solid food and the up to 18 hours without any water, even ice chips, by mouth would be enough for anyone to endure.

If you know my dad at all, then you know that he is a character. You can ask just about everyone on the third and fifth floors of St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago.

There have been innumerable marriage proposals to nurses, techs, transporters, etc. of all ages, races, ethnic backgrounds, and occasionally of a similar gender. The proposals have often been accompanied by some sweet songs ... sweet, if you’re fond of music of the ‘40s.

And then there are the cars. You see, most anyone who has contact with my father in connection with his or her hospital responsibility is promised a car. This includes the various people he has proposed marriage to.

Plus there are the barrage of off handed comments. Sometimes they are not politically correct remarks, sometimes they are done in feigned accents. Some refer to medical impossibilities. He has been fond of saying how his hysterectomy hasn’t turned out too well. All of his wry comments and observations are intended to elicit lightheartedness among his various caregivers and/or his many visitors.

The point is that my father wants to entertain people and make them happy, feel comfortable, and make them laugh even though he himself is in a time of distress.

Maybe this is because his early life involved a lot of distress. My grandmother, his mother, died when he was 6 and his father was killed in an auto accident when he was in his early 50s and my father was just 16. And a brother was lost in childhood. My father has noted to me often that he has lived longer than both of his parents combined.

Well I give my father a lot of credit. He is as he always has, making a big effort at making folks around him laugh. And he is doing as good a job at it, maybe better, even as he is approaching his 94th year.

And here’s a shout out to the good folks at St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago. All levels of the staff have shown care and concern for my father. It surely seems they have come to appreciate this man who tries to make them feel comfortable with humor. You have the appreciation of me and my family.


Thanks for reading.

April 03, 2014 12:00 am

Nominations being accepted for Hub City 's new Spike Award

Mayor Dave Uran presented Crown Point's Michael “Spike” Albrecht with a Community Inspiration Award last year for being a positive role model for youth as a member of the 2013 NCAA runner-up University of Michigan men's basketball team.

Continuing this new tradition, the mayor is inviting residents of Crown Point to nominate any Crown Point resident who is an outstanding member of the community and who inspires others to greatness in any field for the first Spike Award, which will be presented at 7 p.m. May 5 at the Crown Point City Council meeting.

Submissions of 500 words or less detailing the specific reasons the individual qualifies for the award should be emailed to by April 25. Submissions can also be mailed to Diana Bosse, Special Events Administrator, at 101 N. East St., Crown Point, IN 46307.

Networking Night

Barbara Jean’s Gifts and Gourmet, 160 S. West St., Crown Point, invites the public to a ribbon cutting ceremony from 5 to 7 p.m. today at its new location, with the actual ribbon cutting at 5:30.

Food and beverages will be provided. Call (219) 769-8180 for more information.

Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support Group

Bickford of Crown Point, 140 E. 107th Ave., Crown Point, will host its first Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support Group meeting at 10 a.m. April 11. Presented by Sunrise Home Health, call (219) 663-0972 to make a reservation.

Corporate Bowling Challenge

The Challenger Learning Center of Northwest Indiana will host a Corporate Bowling Charity Challenge on May 7 at Olympia Lanes in Hammond.

Participating organizations will create a team of four bowlers to compete in Stars and Strikes for the Challenger Cup, with proceeds benefiting The Challenger Learning Center.

Choose from three different levels of sponsorship: Shooting Star for $500; Mission to Mars for $1,000; and To Infinity and Beyond for $2,000. Each sponsorship allows for four individuals to compete, the opportunity to win awards and prizes and enjoy food and beverages.

The Mission to Mars sponsorship includes a banner with the team name and company logo as well as the company logo featured on Challenger Learning Center e-blasts promoting the event. The To Infinity and Beyond sponsorship adds the sponsoring company’s logo to all event advertising, both print and web, and corporate recognition on a plaque at the learning center.   

The Challenger Learning Center uses science, technology, engineering and math education to engage visitors of all ages in space simulation programs, planetarium experiences, laser shows, hands-on space science and technology skill-building programs. Activities encourage teamwork while honing problem solving, communication and critical thinking skills.

The Stars and Strikes event will help fund missions available to schools throughout Northwest Indiana.  For more information, contact Executive Director Becca Manis at (219) 989-2007, or visit

April 03, 2014 12:00 am

Spring has sprung in Portage

Can it actually be spring? The calendar says yes but I’m still concerned that March did not go out a lamb and we still have some lion days ahead.

I don’t know what all of you do out there but when spring actually hits, I get the urge to throw open the windows and clean and de-clutter my house from stem to stern. Now the last couple years I have not been that critical of the interior of my home since I was concentrating on a college graduation and the marriage of both of our sons to wonderful young women. But now that the little birds have flown the coop and Randy and me are empty nesters, it’s time to start thinking of some serious polishing and pitching.

But some people are not as fortunate in these economic times as we are; they struggle for every dime. I am so glad that we have a place right here in our city that can help those in need for little to no money.

Several years ago, the Portage Resale Shop started in the east side of the Portage Mall but there came a time when the city had to demolish that set of buildings for further expansion in the downtown. The PRS moved out to U.S. 6 and they had been there for 6 years. Then God smiled down on this amazing ministry that has given thousands of dollars back to our community, thousands of coats to those in need and much more. They moved to the former Portage Christian Fellowship Church at 6450 Evergreen, right back in the middle of Portage again. They are just north of the intersection of Airport and Central. The church gave the building to them so no more rent payments and therefore more to give back to the community. What a blessing this wonderful place has been to Portage Township and their residents. They take donations all the hours they are open and have a small shed attached to the west side of the building for after hours drop-offs.

The Portage Resale Shop is open noon to 5 p.m. Mondays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturdays. What a blessing this wonderful place has been to Portage Township and their residents.

The Resale Shop is run by as many as 30 volunteers and its director, Brandon Miller. They take in, sort, clean and price the donations for sale. The money they take in goes to pay the overhead of the shop. But they don’t just sell donations, they give quite a bit away. Yes, clothing, household items furniture, educational needs are given away with referrals from agencies such as the Portage Township Trustee. They also help those that are transitioning from homelessness to new living arrangements.

Their mission is to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and take in the stranger. They turn donations into hope for those who have relatively nothing in this broken world of ours. They hear the command of our Lord Jesus Christ to love one another as He loved us. They are truly fulfilling their role as a ministry of compassion for our great community.

Bravo to all that make this ministry happen in Portage!

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

April 02, 2014 11:00 am

Spring offers plenty of activities for Hobart residents and guests

Happy April Fool’s Day! Oh, that was yesterday? Got cha, didn’t I?

Hopefully, as the second quarter of 2014 begins, we might begin to see the trees bud and daffodils and other spring flowers poke their heads out of the ground. I know we are all more than ready for some nice weather.

Citizens to meet

Residents concerned about the proposed for-profit immigrant detention center in Hobart are invited to a Concerned Citizens meeting at 3 p.m., April 6 at First Unitarian Church, 497 Main St. For more information, call (219) 743-0679 or visit

Lenten service and lunch

Chaplain Jim Stoel from St. Mary Medical Center is the speaker for the final “20 Minutes for God” Community Lenten Worship Service from 12:05 to 12:25 p.m. Monday at First United Methodist Church, 654 E. Fourth St., Hobart. A soup lunch follows at 12:30 p.m. The free will offering for lunch will be donated to the Hobart Food Pantry.

Fundraiser for animals

A Bark & Meow Vendor and Craft Show will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 13 at St. Bridget Church Gymnasium, 568 E. Second St., Hobart.

All humane societies are independent, nonprofit organizations and must raise their own support funds. All proceeds from this event will benefit the Humane Society of Hobart.

More than 30 vendors and crafters will display wares. Concessions will be available for purchase and raffles will be held. Pets are welcome. The K-Hits 104.3 booth will be rockin’ from 2 to 4 p.m. and visitors can spin the prize wheel. Bring your pet and children to have a picture taken with the Easter Bunny.

Admission is a monetary donation or bring something from the “Needed Items List” such as cat, kitten, dog, or puppy chow, laundry soap, Pine Sol, SOS pads, garbage bags, paper towels, cat or dog toys, or Tidy Cat non-clumping litter. Even non-pet owners will enjoy this event.

Fish fry and dancing

Hobart Elks Lodge 1152 hosts a weekly Fish Fry on from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Fridays at 3580 W. 61st Ave., Hobart.

Cost is $10 for choice of white fish or jumbo shrimp, and includes soup, salad bar, potato and dessert. A full menu of other entrees is also available. Follow your meal with dancing to DJ music on the first and third Fridays and live music on the second and fourth Fridays. Call the office at (219) 942-1152.

Golf classic planned

Calling all golfers! Hobart Chamber of Commerce has scheduled its annual Golf Classic for Friday, June 13, at Innsbrook Country Club in Merrillville. Event begins at 8 a.m. with a shotgun start, followed by a lunch buffet at noon. Early risers may register and use the driving range at 6 a.m.

For more information or to help the Golf Committee, contact the new Executive Director Dawn Duty at (219) 942-5774 or

Supporting the arts

Hobart Arts League held a successful fundraiser last Saturday. They had a lot of fun and raised much needed funds to support the building and pay the NIPSCO bill. For information on classes or other activities, visit

April 02, 2014 12:00 am

Rounding up future kindergarten students in Portage

Beginning kindergarten marks an important milestone in a child’s education. At Portage Township Schools, we want to help get your child off to a great start.

Kindergarten Round Up will be held Wednesday at local elementary schools. This will provide both parents and future students a chance to visit the school, and meet some of the staff that will be working with them in the upcoming year.

Information about the kindergarten program will be shared. Many of our schools will also be distributing a Bright Beginnings Backpack, which contains activities to help prepare your child for their upcoming school career.

While at the school, you will also be able to sign up for the Kindergarten Assessment on Aug. 12 and 13. During this assessment time, teachers will lead students in game-like activities that will give them an idea of what skills the child already has obtained in areas such as literacy and math. Having this valuable information prior to the start of the school year is helpful in several ways, providing teachers the opportunity to more accurately direct their instruction beginning on day one.

Plan to visit the school that day during the following times: 9:30-11 a.m., 1-2:30 p.m. and 6-7 p.m. Children who are eligible for kindergarten are those who will be 5 years of age on or before Aug. 1.

Feel free to start the registration process online by going to and clicking on the START button. This process will require about 30 minutes, collecting the necessary information on your child. If you do not have a computer, you may complete the online process at the school in which your child will be attending, as there will be computer terminals set up and staff to assist you.

When you visit your local elementary school on April 2, bring the following information with you: The child’s board of health birth certificate, The child’s proof of immunization (board of health or physician verified), The child’s Social Security number (if available), custody/guardianship documentation (if applicable),

Two pieces of documentation from the following list: lease agreement, mortgage papers, driver's license or valid ID, NIPSCO bill, water or sewer bill, bill with home mailing address, home or cellphone bill, guardianship papers, affidavit of residency, Indiana Department of Education form I, II or III.

No fees will be collected until July.

If you are a parent of a child who will turn 5 years of age on Aug. 2 and before Sept.1, you may request a waiver of the state adopted kindergarten school entrance date. Requests for waivers will be accepted at each school until Monday, Aug. 4. Details for submitting waiver requests, or any other information regarding kindergarten enrollment, can be obtained from each elementary school office.

We look forward to meeting you and your child Wednesday as we begin this educational journey.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

March 30, 2014 12:00 am

Seniors head to the Crown Point Civic Center for fun and fellowship

Senior citizens tired of being cooped up all winter can enjoy activities close to home by joining others at the Crown Point Civic Center, 101 S. East St.

A variety of programs, including low-impact exercise, bingo, pinochle, line dancing, Scrabble, AARP chapter meetings, free blood pressure screening and afternoon movies, are available.

For a list of activities, days and times, check out the Hub City Monthly, The Times, or visit, click on "Flyers/Brochures" and select Hub City Monthly and scroll down yo "Senior Corner."

School open house

Trinity Lutheran School, 250 S. IndianaAve., Crown Point, will host an open house from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on April 13. Families can tour the school and meet the teachers and staff. Open enrollment is available for the 2014-15 school year.

Enjoy the Northwest Indiana Symphony Chorus, the Southlake Children’s Chorus and the premier bluegrass ensemble Monroe Crossing in concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Auditorium at Bethel Church, 10202 Broadway, Crown Point.

They will perform “The World Beloved, A Bluegrass Mass and More.” Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for students.

Foundation offers tips

If you haven’t checked out the Crown Point Community Foundation’s website lately, visit to  find applications for the latest grant cycle that ends June 1.

The website also provides a history of the foundation as well as different ways to make a donation. It is an informative and interesting website.

Check out the library

While you are on the computer, also visit the Crown Point Community Library’s website,

On the library’s webpage you will find out all the activities that are happening at the Crown Point library and its Winfield branch for adults and children. You can connect to the library’s catalog, research information, find books, music and movies, download audiobooks for adults or tumble books for kids, and a whole lot more.

You do need to have a current Crown Point Community Library card and pin number for downloads, to reserve books or to renew items, so stop in at 122 N. Main Street and get your card today.

Estate planning

We always believe that we will see our children grow into adults, but it's good to be prepared just in case that doesn't happen.

Thrivent Financial will provide parents with information they need for estate planning at 6 p.m. April 29 at Trinity Lutheran Church and School, 250 S. Indiana Ave., Crown Point. Child care will be provided to parents who RSVP by April 21 to Susan at or (219) 663-1578.

Looking for Spring

This week Crown Point Community School Corp. students will enjoy a Spring break. Let’s hope for some Spring-like weather.

March 30, 2014 12:00 am

“Saving Lincoln” is a well-told story worth venturing out to see

When I was a history teacher, many years ago, I used to ask my students trick questions. Really, they were thought provokers.

One example was; why did the armies of the Civil War (and the American Revolution, for that matter) take the winter off?

The answer was pretty simple; nobody wanted to fight a battle in the snow.

As it turns out, this applies to modern times as well.

We go into deep hibernation every winter and, by April, it is time to shed the lethargy and get out more. I got a little ahead of myself last week and went to see the Civil War exhibit at the South Shore Visitors and Convention Authority's Indiana Welcome Center.

There is an awful lot there to see, from exhibits on Abraham Lincoln to local points of interest. Northwest Indiana contributed in many ways through those who volunteered and those who served in the Civil War and came back to contribute to their communities.

I found the display on the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) the most interesting. This organization of Union veterans had a very powerful influence in the decades after the war. It was said many times that nobody could get elected to an office of any substance, particularly on the national level, unless they had the blessing of the GAR. It should be no surprise that from the end of the Civil War until the 1920s, the GAR and the legend of Abraham Lincoln ruled over the land.

Today, you will find Grand Army of the Republic highways and lesser roads along with statues in honor of those who served during the Civil War, mostly commissioned by the GAR. Having said that, I really came to the Welcome Center to see a movie.

Another trick question, who writes history? You give up? It’s simple, the winners. In this case, the movie that was shown last week at the Welcome Center fits nicely into that category.

“Saving Lincoln” is a well-told story of Lincoln’s ascension to the presidency, the incredible strain of the war and the very short-lived elation of ultimate victory. It is a story told through the eyes of Lincoln’s trusted friend and bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon. The movie traces the beginnings of their relationship and the way in which Lamon came to see Lincoln’s safety as his main duty.

We would do well to remember that among the thousands of books published on Lincoln and the Civil War, Lamon wrote one of the first major works on Lincoln’s life.

Being a big fan of this subject, I was glad the movie did not dwell on Lincoln's assassination, but treated his demise in an interesting way that allows the viewer to see the impact on those Lincoln left behind. This is a little unusual, because that is an often overlooked part of the aftermath of the Civil War.

Visitors to the Indiana Welcome Center, 7770 Corinne Drive, Hammond, can view the film “Saving Lincoln” in the In-Vision Theater at 1 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday throughout the “Region United, Nation Divided: Following Lincoln” exhibit, which runs through April 30. It's worth the trip.

March 30, 2014 12:00 am

Thanks to those who attended fest kickoff

The Lansing Association for Community Events recently held a kickoff meeting for Lansing Autumn Fest 2014. I’m a member of the board of directors of LACE, the nonprofit that organizes the festival. Our board was happy to get a great response from the community.

The public was invited to come out and learn more about the festival and volunteer to help in a variety of different ways. Thank you to those who came out and have already committed to volunteer. Visible Music College graciously allowed LACE to use the new college’s lounge area for their meeting.

If you weren’t there, but would like to help, call (708) 646-5606 or send an email to There are many volunteer opportunities in advance of the fest and during the weekend of the festival that will take place Oct. 10-12 in downtown Lansing. If you have a skill that you’d like to share or just want to be part of making this festival a successful event, we would love your help. Follow Lansing Autumn Fest on Facebook for festival updates.

Lansing Old Timers offers scholarship

The Lansing Old Timers organization will be awarding six one-time grants of $1,000 or $500 to three male and three female high school seniors who have participated in a Lansing Old Timers-sponsored program.

Applicants must be graduating high school seniors enrolled in or accepted by a two- or four-year college or university with at least a “B” average on their latest transcript and they must have participated in a school athletic program. Grants will be awarded by lottery to all eligible applicants.

Visit for an application, which must be completed and returned by May 1 to: Lansing Old Timers, c/o Frank Kiefor, P.O. Box 133, Lansing, IL 60438

Childrens’ production next weekend at TATC

As part of the Education Through Theatre program at the Theatre at the Center and the Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster, a student production of William Shakespeare’s "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" will take place next weekend. The kids will perform four shows: 7 p.m. April 4; 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. April 5 and 1:30 p.m. April 6.

The play is a result of months of preparation by the students who learn about all aspects of play production under the direction of Patty Bird. I will be in the audience as one of my sons took part in this wonderful program. Tickets are $9.50 for adults and $7.50 for students and are available at the box office by calling (219) 836-3255.

March 30, 2014 12:00 am

East Chicago aims to connect city contractors with resident workers

East Chicago aims to connect city contractors with resident workers

The City of East Chicago held an informational meeting Wednesday for contractors on the $17 million RDA-funded Phase One Waterfront Revitalization Project.

Mayor Anthony Copeland is breaking new ground by connecting contractors, subcontractors, qualified workers and unskilled laborers to work on East Chicago projects with a new and innovative website. Visit and click on the link "Workforce Employment Connection."

Any contractor awarded a construction project from the City of East Chicago will be required to register at this site. The contractor can then seek out any East Chicago resident workforce applicant who may possess the necessary skills to help fill positions on the project. There is no fee for this service.

The site also provides residents of East Chicago an opportunity to share their resumes directly with any contractor that is awarded a construction project in the city. This contractor is encouraged to seek out hiring opportunities for workforce personnel who reside in the city.

Residents applying must have work experience. Unskilled workers are encouraged to sign up through the Indiana Plan link conveniently located on the home page at

On June 13, 2005, while Mayor Copeland was serving as a city councilman, he introduced an ordinance requiring contractors to comply with a 50 percent local hiring requirement on contracts as designated by the city. Since the inception of this ordinance, contractors have found it difficult to meet that goal, prompting Mayor Copeland to form a group to work on this task.

“Our highest priority is to make a direct connection between the contractors and our residents," Mayor  Copeland said. "By posting to the website, it gives each party access to each other with confirmation. The goal is to connect the trained available workforce in East Chicago with employment opportunity on East Chicago projects.”

The website debuted at the contractors meeting Wednesday. Local contractors attended along with a panel of city department heads and leaders working on upcoming phase one projects which include: Lakefront Development, Demolitions, New Construction and Road Construction.

For more information, contact Consuelo Magaña at Human Rights, (219) 391-8477.

In other news, Mayor Copeland will host his annual State of the City address at 3 p.m. Thursday, April 3, at the Field Educational Center, 3551 Block Ave. Mayor Copeland will speak on the city budget, and past and current plans for the city, followed by a special video presentation.

Our city is a sleeping giant, made up of many cultures and beliefs, held together by one common goal, to bring East Chicago out of the ashes and back to its glory. The time of awakening has arrived with Mayor Copeland sounding the alarm.

Exciting times are headed our way, Northwest Indiana.

March 28, 2014 12:00 am

Illiana Christain cares for the mind and soul

Some years ago, Illiana Christian was my arch rival, first when I was an opposing athlete and then as a coach. Anyone who knew me in those days could attest to how much I disliked Illiana — and the color green. Fast forward several years and I still don’t care for the school color, but it is safe to say that I have grown to love Illiana. It’s a challenge to find just the right words to describe all the amazing things that go on here at Illiana, but I’ll give it my best shot.

I will start with the life-giving faculty. These teachers are absolutely tremendous, so I wish you could see them interact with students like I do. Far above and beyond the academic excellence in the classroom, Illiana’s teachers give life to many students. They pray with and for their students, write them encouraging notes, and tell them in person how much they are loved by God. They enthusiastically encourage students to get involved in clubs or extra-curricular activities by expressing what they see as special gifts or talents that students themselves don’t always recognize. They walk alongside students who struggle to fit in, helping them to find a place to belong. The teachers here take the initiative and reach beyond the classroom to touch hundreds of lives every school year. What a blessing.

Next, I would like to highlight the many Illiana traditions that never change and continue to make an impact in students’ lives. What do we have that so many schools like ours have done away with? It takes time, energy, and dedication to keep these traditions alive, but we have done this at Illiana. We still send students out on career opportunity appointments to investigate possible future jobs or college majors. This happens because of committed parent volunteers. We still take a senior class trip every October to Washington, D.C., even though many other schools have done away with this kind of trip.

And why do we do this? It is an incredible bonding experience for the senior class, an unforgettable highlight of their high school career. We have maintained the strong tradition of our chapel committee, eight seniors and two faculty sponsors who organize three chapels a week for the entire school year. For many students, this is the most meaningful part of their week. Chapel themes are tied in with our daily devotions in homeroom, another fantastic tradition. Students remain in the same homeroom for all four years, allowing the homeroom to become a school “family” to most students. Homerooms undertake a service project together once a year, and, once again, have an unforgettable experience together. And the traditions go on and on and on.

Finally, I would like to comment on the musical production “Annie” performed here earlier this month. Hands down, this was the best high school musical I have seen in my 31-year career. It exemplified the body of Christ with many parts working together in unity as over 120 students were involved either on stage or behind the scenes. One of the quirky hallmarks of Illiana is how the sets crew and our own amazing Jim Kamphuis, Illiana’s art teacher, transform the very limited facility of our old gym into a phenomenal setting for a perennial powerhouse production. You have to see it to believe it. Many audience members enjoy the scene changes as much as they enjoy the actual performance.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so if you would like to see our school for yourself, please feel free to contact me. Come, experience Illiana Christian High School. See what I get the privilege of seeing every day minus the color green.

March 28, 2014 12:00 am

Don’t miss the boat as Campagna Academy hosts annual Cruise for Charity

Campagna Academy is offering a change of season for the right reason.

Friends, supporters and you, my readers, can all help benefit at-risk youth and families in our region by attending our fourth annual Cruise for Charity. This exciting nautical fundraiser is slated for Saturday, May 17 and will feature dining choices from a sophisticated menu, a premium open bar, music, and a silent auction.

Tickets are $125 per person. A bonus for those not wishing to drive to Navy Pier in Chicago is optional round-trip luxury coach transportation for just $10 per person, leaving and returning to Campagna's Schererville campus.

Please join us for an elegant and fun escape on the waters of Lake Michigan and leave this winter weather behind us. You’ll be able to dine, dance to the music, sit back and relax, or mix and mingle to create new friendships and renew old ones.

Check-in and boarding on the Odyssey yacht at Navy Pier start at noon and the cruise is from 1 to 3 p.m., with an extended half-hour on deck until 3:30.

Sponsorship opportunities range from $500 to $10,000. Sponsorship benefits include boarding passes (for contributions of $1,000 and up), recognition in printed materials, signage at the event, and listing on our website and social media. Many thanks to our growing list of generous sponsors who are on board for this year’s event!

Help us restore hope and build dreams for the community’s vulnerable youth and families by purchasing tickets, donating an auction item or becoming a sponsor. For more information, please call (219) 322-8614 or visit

March 28, 2014 12:00 am

Marriage Mill couple found for June wedding at Old Lake Courthouse

The Crossroads Regional Chamber of Commerce has found a couple to get married at the annual Marriage Mill celebration during the Food & Arts Festival on June 20 in downtown Crown Point.

Congratulations to Karla N. Ortegon and Craig D. Hoskins, the lucky couple who will be getting hitched.

One million thanks

Through the Thank A Million Teachers initiative, Farmers Insurance is committing $1 million to support classroom teachers and education programs nationwide. Farmers Insurance will award grants up to $2,500 to teachers to buy school supplies through or apply it toward professional certification programs through the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

You can post a thank you note to a teacher that made a difference in your community, your life or the lives of your family members at Any teacher that has been thanked can submit a proposal for one of several grants awarded throughout the year. During March, May, July, September and November, give more thanks by voting on your favorite proposals.

For more information, call Connie at (219) 213-2060.

Future of health care

The University of St. Francis Crown Point will continue its free “Future of” lecture series with a presentation on the Affordable Care Act. “The Future of Healthcare: ACA Provisions and Terminology,” will be presented  from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. April 14 at Crown Point High School, 1500 S. Main St.  

Attorney and Indiana State Nursing Association Director of Policy and Advocacy Blayne Miley will lead professionals and practitioners to a deeper understanding of the act and its impact on services and client care. His presentation will focus on Indiana’s approach to Medicaid expansion, insurance marketplaces and the unique terminology as a result of the act. A question-and-answer session will follow.

Register at by April 13. Franciscan Alliance, Community Healthcare System, Methodist Hospitals and University of St. Francis Crown Point are sponsors.

Living history

The South Shore Civil War Memorial Trail exhibit, “Region United, Nation Divided: Following Lincoln,” will feature living history demonstrations from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 12-13 and April 26-27 at the Indiana Welcome Center, 7770 Corinne Drive, Hammond.

Re-enactors from the 20th Indiana Infantry Company B will discuss a soldier’s life during the Civil War and life at an encampment, share knowledge of the loading and firing of Civil War-era weapons and answer questions.

Visitors may view the film “Saving Lincoln” in the In-Vision Theater at 1 p.m. each day. It is based on the true story of Abraham Lincoln and his close friend, Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln’s self-appointed body guard following the first assassination attempt on Lincoln’s life.

The film runs 101 minutes and is free to watch. Call (219) 989-7770.

March 27, 2014 12:00 am

Angels among us right here in Portage

I’ve always believed we have angels here on earth, watching over us to help us through not only the really bad stuff but some of the little things we don’t even give a second thought.

I believe angels come to us as in the old holiday classic, "The Bishop’s Wife." You know they’re here but you don’t remember them once their work is finished. The angel, Dudley, is played by Cary Grant and comes to a Bishop played by David Niven to answer his prayer. Times were hard in this movie. Turns out the thing the Bishop needed to do was to help the less fortunate and not build a big cathedral as he had planned. The Bishop thought he had prayed for a cathedral but as Dudley reminded him, “he had prayed for guidance” and that is what God had given him through this angel.

Twenty two years ago several people got together to help the people in need in Porter County and they called themselves First Contact. It is a not-for-profit referral ministry that was developed to work directly with the township trustees to keep people in their homes with their utilities on. The ministry relies totally on donations from Porter County churches, organizations, grants, businesses and other individuals.

A volunteer pool of 18 “angels” from area churches work in the offices in Valparaiso and in our very own Portage Township Trustee, Brendan Clancy’s office. The volunteers assess and verify the need their need, provide assistance for utilities, housing and emergency medication. They also keep accurate records and try to detect and help with the root of their problems. Coupled with the desire to be good stewards of the funds they receive is a desire to reach beyond the financial needs and get to the heart of the matter. They want to help them to become self sufficient through setting goals for their clients and looking into why they became financially challenged in the first place. To give them hope for a better future.

Their endeavors are in the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit. While they do not force God on any of their clients, in conjunction with the financial assistance, they offer a listening ear, encouragement, emotional and spiritual guidance, support and prayer. Many of our under or unemployed people need a caring ear.

Joanne Maynard, one of the founders of First Contact, has recently turned over the reigns of director to Barbara Kemler who has decided to engage and focus on more churches, businesses and caring individuals in Portage Township this year. It is no secret that our township has the most need in all of Porter County.

It is Barb’s hope that more members of our Portage Township community will become involved as financial supporters of First Contact. For more information on donating to or volunteering for First Contact, call (219) 764-7322 or (219) 462-8332.

Remember, “To spend ourselves on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,” Isaiah 58:10.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

March 26, 2014 12:00 am

LARC hosting fundraiser on Aug. 8

LARC hosting fundraiser on Aug. 8

LARC is selling tickets to a rocking fundraiser.

If you have ever read this column before, you probably know that my husband and I saw an Elvis tribute artist on our first date so the King has a special place in our hearts. This event takes place at the same venue where we saw our Elvis show and should be a great night out.

The Parents and Friends of LARC are presenting the third annual Essence of Elvis Benefit featuring Joe Tirrito as Elvis on Aug. 8 at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 178th and Lorenz Avenue in Lansing. Tickets can be purchased for $20 through July 25 and include buffet style dinner prior to show. There will be reserved seating and space is limited. Tickets will not be sold at the door.

This event supports the efforts of Parents and Friends of LARC, which provides holiday luncheons to the clients and sponsors LARC in several fundraisers held year round.

For more information, call Kathy Brown at (708) 539-6995 or at (219) 374-5277 email

In other Lansing news, Lansing couple Carol and Paul Schultz were guests at the Westminster Presbyterian Church Winter Fest dinner. The theme for the Munster church’s annual event was "Forefather's Feast."

There were 130 people who attended this great event, said Ray Scahill, of Lansing.

"The waitresses dressed in long black dresses with pretty white aprons with white caps. The waiters had white shirts, black jackets and pants. It was a memory of colonial times," he said.

The Wolffgang Choir from Hobart High School sang classic songs from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.

“These eight young ladies were excellent. After the entertainment, all of us were served a delicious pot roast supper. All of us enjoyed the delicious food, fun and fellowship," Scahill said.

If you’re looking for a way to get out and moving while helping kids at the same time, check out the Move for the Kids 5K Walk/Run taking place May 18 at Soldier Field in Chicago.

This fundraiser benefits the patients and families at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Participants will start and finish at Soldier Field and travel through Chicago's beautiful Grant Park.

There will be complimentary food and drinks for participants as well as children’s activities available.

Organizers are currently looking for walkers, runners, sponsors and volunteers.

For more information, visit or call the race director at (312) 227-7296.

March 26, 2014 12:00 am

Venture out for fish, auction, softball and more in Schererville

Between the cold, the snow and the general ickyness (is that a word?) we have lived through since Christmas, many of us. . .okay me. . .have been in total hibernation mode. Now that we’ve seen a little sun, felt a little warmth, maybe we can put away our warm winter throws and get ready for spring and summer. After all, the White Sox opener is Monday.

Fish are frying

If you are thinking about venturing out during Lent, why not hit a fish fry or two. St. Michael Church's Knights of Columbus is hosting a fish fry from 4 to 7 p.m. April 4 at the church hall, I Wilhelm St., Schererville, and St. Thomas More School’s eighth grade class is hosting two dinners, April 4 and 11, both from 4:30 to 8 p.m., at the Munster church's hall, 8501 Calumet Ave.

Auction and raffle set

The Lake Central Athletic Booster Club is holding its annual Support the Tribe Silent Auction and Raffle on April 4 at The Patrician Banquet Hall, 410 E. U.S. 30, Schererville. Tickets are $25 and profits support all Lake Central High School athletes.

For more information, visit

Parks host softball, market and more

The Schererville Parks and Recreation Department is still taking registrations for its Spring-Summer Adult Softball Leagues. Register at the Schererville Town Hall, 109 E. Joliet St., or online at

The park department's  Breakfast with the Bunny is set for April 12, and the Flashlight Egg Hunt will take place April 17. The office is also taking vendor applications for the Redar Park Market to be held from 3 to 8 p.m.Thursdays, May 15th through Sept. 25. 

If you have any questions about the market, call the parks department at (219) 865-5530, ext. 6102.

St. Baldrick's Event

The NICK Foundation is hosting its third annual St. Baldrick’s Event from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. April 13 at the Northwest Indiana Church of Christ, 3803 W. U.S. 30, Merrillville, to help fund pediatric cancer research. .

To participate, visit or email

Donate prom dresses

Schererville Chamber of Commerce board member Diana Bravo (First Financial Bank) is working with friends to help local teens find that perfect prom dress. If you have a dress you would like to donate, please drop it off at the chamber office, 149 E. Joliet St.

Sponsor Lions breakfast

It's got to be warmer in time for the Schererville Lions Club’s annual AYCE Pancake Breakfast, set for April 27 at Immanuel Presbyterian Church, 140 W. U.S. 30. This year, proceeds from the event will go to the Schererville Civic Fund. If you are interested in being a sponsor, call Lion Ken at (219) 322-2551.

Happy Easter to you and yours.

March 26, 2014 12:00 am

Fallen soldiers honored Friday at Doughboy Monument service

The last Friday every month, including this Friday, a ceremony is held at 5 p.m. at the Doughboy Monument, Seventh and Lincoln streets, Hobart, to honor U.S. service members recently fallen in either the Afghanistan or Iraq wars.

Howlin Mad Detachment 93 of the Marine Corps League conducts the ceremony, where the rank, name and home state of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice are read aloud and a bell sounded.

The ceremony concludes with a volley of three rounds fired by the honor guard and the playing of taps. Veterans and all other interested residents are invited to take a few moments of time to attend this remembrance.

Beef and art

Dine on Italian beef from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Hobart Arts League, 3850 Howard St., Hobart.

The menu includes beef (and toppings), chips, a drink and dessert for a donation of $7 for adults and $4 for children 9 and younger. Extra desserts are available to feed your sweet tooth for a donation. Dine in or carry out.

Before or after your meal, take time to view the artwork covering the walls, greeting cards and prints from some of the northwest Indiana’s finest artists. For more information, call (219) 942-3834 or email Handicapped accessible, and free parking is available.

Bring quarters to auction

Hobart Little League is hosting a Quarter Auction at at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in the Main Gym, 705 E. Fourth St., Hobart. Profits will help fund the 2014 baseball season.

Doors open at noon, admission is $5 . Bring a roll or two of quarters to bid on items you might like to purchase.

God and soup

"20 Minutes for God" Lenten services continue Monday as the Rev. Charles Strietelmeier, of Augustana Lutheran Church, is guest speaker. Service is from 12:05 to 12:25 p.m., followed by a soup lunch at 12:30 p.m., at First United Methodist Church, 654 E. Fourth St., Hobart. Donations given for lunch will benefit the Hobart Food Pantry.

Register to vote

The last day to register to vote in the May 6 primary election is April 7. In order to exercise this important civic duty, you must be registered and if you have a new residence or a new name, you need to update that registration.

Unsure whether your registration is up-to-date? Visit Select "Lake County" and after inputting your name and date of birth, the website will tell you where you vote and who is on the ballot in your precinct.

No computer access? Call the Lake County Board of Elections at (219) 755-3795 or visit their office from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the Lake County Government Center, 2293 N. Main St., Crown Point. Early voting opens April 8.

Coming up in April

April events to mark on your calendar include the April 13 “Bark & Meow” Vendor & Craft Show on behalf of the Humane Society of Hobart and the Spring Concert of the Hobart Area Concert Band on April 27.

March 26, 2014 12:00 am

Youth to volunteer in South Holland on April 12

Spring is in the air in South Holland with something extra special planned for the community this season.

Have you ever heard of The Big Day of Serving? The first I heard of this was a few weeks back when South Holland was selected to take part in this program. The Big Day of Serving, “youth transforming America’s neighborhoods,” is a series of one-day events across the United States in which Christian youth groups perform volunteer service in neighborhoods.

This year, South Holland is one of the areas that will be touched by the hands of young mission workers. On April 12, they will clean neighborhood parks, weed the youth commission community garden, help with landscaping projects, touch-up park equipment with a fresh coat of paint, engage in improvement projects at the South Holland Community Center, and much, much more.

The Big Day of Serving is a national movement that promotes the value of a servant’s heart. Their goal is to achieve 1 million kids across the country working together for the same cause. Big Day is an initiative of Group Mission Trip (formerly Group Workcamps Foundation). It was developed out of the challenge of helping teens experience a genuine life-changing connection to Christian faith.

The organization has provided more than 6 million volunteer hours performed by nearly a quarter of a million participants, and has served hundreds of thousands of people. Hundreds of short-term mission trips are organized across the nation and abroad, providing not only community service, but also home repair for families in need of help.

The village of South Holland is excited to welcome The Big Day of Serving youth groups, with an expectation of nearly 250 volunteers working hard on this special day. When the day is done on April 12, the community would have been touch by the servant’s heart of incredible, selfless teenagers motivated to make this world a better place.

To learn more about The Big Day of Serving, visit Group Mission Trip's website —

March 24, 2014 12:00 am

Paul Saylor goes to the M.A.T.H. Bowl

Paul Saylor fifth- and fourth-graders competed last month in the Purdue University Indiana Academic M.A.T.H. Bowl at Portage High School. We competed with several surrounding schools including Kyle Elementary, Myers Elementary, Kouts, Morgan Township, Washington Township and the eight Valparaiso elementary schools, who have been participating in the M.A.T.H. Bowl for decades.

We are proud to have been the first Portage Elementary School to start competing in the M.A.T.H. Bowl, and we are happy that more Portage schools are getting involved. This was Paul Saylor’s sixth year competing.

We had a group of 16 fifth- and fourth-graders representing our school. These students were selected by their achievements on the ISTEP, high academic ability in the classroom and great behavior throughout the year. They worked very hard prior to the competition by attending after-school practices twice a week. During these practices, we taught and reviewed math skills ranging from fifth-grade standards to high school standards.

Preparation made the students think and use prior knowledge to help solve challenging questions. During some of the practices, we even simulated a competition environment by splitting the kids into teams and timing the questions. Preparing for the M.A.T.H. Bowl was a great enrichment opportunity for our high-achieving kids.

The M.A.T.H. Bowl competition consists of four rounds with eight questions in each round. During each round, three of our students go up to our team table to compete. Halfway through each round, there is an opportunity to bring in a substitute for one or more of the students. Each question is timed and the students work together to solve the problem. Every student has a calculator, paper and pencil.

The captain of the group turns in the answer once it is decided upon. After every question, the correct answer is given and the teams that answered correctly will raise their hands to signal to their other teammates that they earned a point. The points are added up at the end to determine the winner.

The eighth question in each round is used as a tie-breaker on the local and state levels. After all host sites around the state have held their local competitions, the scores are sent to the state and schools are ranked statewide. During the local competition you could hear a pin drop in a gym full of students, coaches, and parents. If you look around, you will see parents using their phones as calculators to see if even they can answer these challenging questions. Parents find out the answer to the age old question, “Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?”

The students made us proud with their maturity, both academically and behaviorally. Each year we continue to improve and we strive to keep improving in the future.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

March 23, 2014 12:00 am

Garden club members ready to welcome Spring and birds

According to the calendar, Spring has arrived, and the Crown Point Garden Club will host its April 4 meeting at 1 p.m. at the Crown Point Civic Center, 101 S. East St. The guest speaker will be Master Gardener Donnee Smith, who will discuss humming birds and other birds that are attracted by gardens.

All are welcome, you do not need to be a club member or live in Crown Point to attend. For more information call Shirley at (219) 226-0382.

Free business webinar

Small business owners, professional services, direct sales people, providers and entrepreneurs, may be interested in a free webinar March 26 offered by Saqui Research of Crown Point. The webinar will help improve their referral process. To register for this program, go to

Golf at the library

Save the date for the Crown Point Community Library’s “A Hole Lot of Fun” miniature golf fundraiser. The library, both the first and second floors, will become a miniature golf course from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 12. 

A Family Fun Zone in the meeting rooms includes free refreshments, games and more. The cost is $5 per person or $20 for a group of five. This includes clubs, one round of golf and admittance to the Family Fun Zone.

While parking is at a premium downtown, don’t worry, just park at Col. John Wheeler Middle School and enjoy a trip around the square on Molley the Trolley, who will shuttle golfers right to the library door, and back to the parking lot when they depart.

Dancers repeat as champs

Congratulations to Crown Point High School Dance Team that recently placed first in both Division One Team Pom and Kick at the Indiana High School Dance Team Association State Championships, its second straight year as a double winner in the elite category.

Coming close at state

Col. John Wheeler Middle School's Dance Team received first place in Advanced Pom at the IHSDTA North Regional competition in February and recently missed winning the state title by two points at state competition in New Castle, persevering through injuries, weather cancellations and changes in team members.

Student journalists honored

Two editors of the Inklings newspaper staff Crown Point High School were honored at the Indiana State House during the Indiana High School Press Association’s First Amendment Symposium.

Senior Co-editor-in-chief Maggie Gelon was one of six finalists for Indiana Student Journalist of the Year, and Alaa Abdeldaiem, sports editor, received a first-place in sports writing competition.

Latin teams score

Crown Point High School’s Latin Club Certamen Teams recently competed in the Hoosier Certamen Invitational in Noblesville with five teams in three categories.

They received a first place in Novice, a first and second in Intermediate and a first and third in Advanced.

March 23, 2014 12:00 am

Steel yourself for the return of the Road Warrior

When I was a young, idealistic writer for the Purdue University Calumet Chronicle, I wrote a great deal about two subjects - the U.S. Steel strike of 1986 and the sad condition of the Borman Expressway.

The first subject got me invited to be a panelist on a local public radio show. If you can find this little gem in the vaults, you will hear me being introduced and not much more. I was more a spectator than a participant.

The second topic that I was known for some 28 years ago earned me the nickname Road Warrior from my fellow staff writers, and not in a kind way. I wrote my columns anyway and in due time they began to read them, maybe as part of a protracted reconstruction project.

Since that time I have shied away from such ramblings. I lost a few hubcaps, blew out a number of tires and even had some near collisions due to the checkerboard nature of some of area roads, but Road Warrior remained incognito, kind of like J.D. Salinger, hiding in plain sight.

The condition of another major expressway in Northwest Indiana has left many of us shaking our heads. True, Cline Avenue is not an expressway in the technical sense, but for many of us it is a lifeline to and from north Lake County. Through all the work on Indianapolis Boulevard and other area roads, Cline has been there as a main north-south route.

Today, there are ramps north of 169th/15th Avenue that look as if they had been strafed by enemy aircraft. Once you get on the road itself you are not much safer.

The good news is that this column was so intimisating that the state made an announcement before it even published that they will be resurfacing Cline Avenue in April.

This winter has been particularly hard on area roadways, but Cline Avenue really takes on much more stress because of the commuter traffic coupled with the freight traffic that runs up and down the corridor pretty much all hours. With an extension in the works sometime in the future, the most heavily traveled section between U.S. 12/20 and Ridge Road will need to be monitored more closely.

Either way, now that a few of us have new tires and a few less hubcaps, we can look forward to smoother passage. Road Warrior can go back to complaining about the condition of my alley, and advocating for additional South Shore trains with an eye to running more schedules. At the pace I am going, we should have these issues taken care of shortly.

I am sure there are a few former Chronicle colleagues that will be searching for those old archived PUC columns. Don’t bother, I snatched up all the copies long ago.

That was my way of getting some restitution for not getting a word in during that radio show. I tried, the combatants just shouted over my feeble attempts. Afterwards, like anyone who just got yelled at for 30 minutes, I had a handful of comebacks.

I walked out of the studio and mumbled a bunch of really clever one-liners, then went back to my cluttered desk at the Chronicle and started beating on that darn Borman Expressway.

March 23, 2014 12:00 am

Santa headed to a new home

An era will be coming to an end this year as the beloved Santa House in downtown Lansing will be coming down to make way for additional parking. The house is operated by the Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce, but sits on village property.

Chamber Director Dr. Renee Hale said that it is her understanding the house was built about 40 years ago and the board of directors of the Lansing Area Chamber of Commerce intends to continue the program. However, what is not known is where Santa will reside come November when he and Mrs. Claus arrive in town for the annual tree lighting that occurs the day after Thanksgiving.

“The board will not let the program skip a beat,” she said. “The board, which is comprised of 14 people, will vote on what the plan will be. We’ll start having meetings soon to look at the options that are available. It will be a board vote. It won’t be a decision made by one person.”

Hale assures residents the Santa visits will continue, just not at the present location. She noted that with several months before the Christmas season, there will be enough time to relocate Santa to a new home.

“It was built on village property and chamber members and organizations partnered together to build it,” she said. “There were a lot of personal investments and a lot of chamber involvement put into it.” Building the original house was a community effort and I’m sure whatever is decided about the future of Santa’s home, there won’t be a shortage of community support.

The demolition is drawing a lot of attention from residents who aren’t happy about displacing the jolly couple. I’ve visited the house every year for the past 20 years and I can see how my kids have grown when I pull out pictures of the many times they’ve sat on Santa’s lap and recited their gift list. Lots of memories have been made inside those four small walls.

In saying goodbye to the familiar structure, a little part of us goes away, too. I’ve been in Lansing long enough to have seen a lot of traditions end — the Lan-Oak Pool, the K of C Family Fest, the Lions Steak Fry, Luther East High School, the Ridge Road Sidewalk Sale Days, the removal of the original Christmas tree. I’ve also seen new things happen and be added, like the Eisenhower Fitness Center, the Summer Cruise Nights on Ridge Road, the Lansing Youth Center, the opening of Beggar’s Pizza and return of the big pipe organ, the Taste of Lansing during the tree lighting and the Lansing Autumn Fest. Many of the other traditions that I’ve loved about Lansing since I moved here, like the Good Neighbor Day parade, the Lansing Old Timers Little League program, the Christmas tree lighting, the Halloween parade and the Park District’s Easter egg hunts remain. Nothing lasts forever and change is inevitable, but it just strikes a bigger nerve when it comes to Santa. He is the coolest guy in town for his month or so visit from the North Pole.

It’s always sad to see a much-loved tradition end, but I’m eager to see what lies ahead for the Clauses. Maybe the big guy in red is making a wish list of his own, with access to a digital wish list from his visitors, a parking spot for Rudolph and a cappuccino machine. In time we’ll learn what new traditions we’ll have to look forward to, but it’s comforting to know the Clauses will be welcomed back with open arms as they have been for decades.

March 23, 2014 12:00 am

McFadin meets Killbuck and LaBonta

McFadin meets Killbuck and LaBonta

In previous columns I have told of Major S. L. McFadin's accounts of Kankakee River legends Killbuck, LaBonta and Mingo. In this column I will tell of how McFadin met them.

It was about 1841 when one of the McFadin family cows went missing. He described her as a "cross-eyed ugly animal," but she gave plenty of milk — "sometimes our only salvation in time of need when many a meal did we make off of mush, or corn bread and milk and we were happy."

He feared "wolves had got her." McFadin wrote that he took his "gun, tomahawk and dog and started on her track." McFadin was not going to give up his hunt for the cow even "if it took all winter."

The first night was cold and he needed to "prepare to camp or freeze to death. I found a standing hollow tree big enough to stand up or lay down in; while fixing it with sticks to keep the cold out and getting wood, I heard a noise and looking round saw a deer coming straight for me with tongue out and nearly give out, and two big gray wolves close after it; as I was very hungry and out of meat I grabbed my gun and shot the deer, that fell dead close by me; but the wolves were ravenous with hunger and disputed the possession of the deer with me, considering it their lawful prize."

The fight was on! With a empty gun he used it to "mash in the skull of one and killed him dead on the spot, but broke the breech of my gun off in doing so."

The other wolf let go of the deer and went after McFadin. The wolf had him by the leg, but fortunately he had his tomahawk in his belt and sunk it in the skull of the wolf. McFadin later said it was the "tightest place I was ever in, in my life."

McFadin got a fire started and roasted some venison. He kept the fire up to ward off any other wolves. He then attached the rest of the venison to the top of a sapling and tied a small piece to his wounded leg. McFadin later wrote "As big wolf hides were worth something those days, I skinned them, and hung the hides up in a safe place and felt as though I was worth a million." He left the broken gun in the hollow tree and continued to track down the lost cow.

Later McFadin came upon an Indian camp. The Indians were out of ammunition and were starving. He gave them the balance of his food. Also in the camp was Mingo, whom he had previously met and befrended. Mingo joined him in his search for the lost cow.

The cow was heading for the Kankakee. They approached the river near where Baum's Bridge is now located. They decided to camp out the winter at this spot. Their first night on the Kankakee was a cold one. The two had trapped a raccoon the previous day and were roasting it when they heard a nearby shot. They packed up and started out to find who fired the shot. It was but a short distance when they came upon the camp of Killbuck and LaBonta. So began a long and close friendship between the four of them.

LaBonta and McFadin later tracked down the lost cow to a salt lick 75 miles from the McFadin home. The cow did not survive the excursion.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

March 21, 2014 12:00 am

T.F. South to host Zumbathon fundraiser in April

March is National Nutrition Month, a campaign focused on encouraging Americans to eat healthier and get more physically active. T.F. South recognized this health observance by offering free breakfast smoothies to students before school last week and providing Zumba instruction to students during physical education classes this week. The smoothie giveaway and Zumba classes were part of the school’s efforts for the Fuel Up to Play 60, a national initiative to get students to live healthier lifestyles.

T.F. South will also host a Zumbathon fundraising event sometime in April to raise awareness about the importance of staying physically active. Proceeds from the fundraiser will help finance a healthy after-school snack program for athletes and other students that stay late for extracurricular activities. We would like to send a special thanks to the staff that made the school’s National Nutrition Month activities successful including Bob Padjen, Tim Cocco, Sandy Shaughnessy, Chef Robert Davis and Peggy Banks.

Congratulations to Tayah Brent and Melissa Garcia, two honor roll students from T.F. North who were selected to participate in the Indiana University Honors Program in Foreign Language. Tayah, a musician and dancer with a 3.5 grade point average, will go to Mexico. Melissa, a three-sport athlete ranked second in her class, will stay with a host family in Spain for the duration of the seven-week program. These students have less than 60 days to raise $4,500 a piece to pay for their airfare and program fees. The girls will conduct fundraisers and ask family, friends, and teachers for donations. Individuals interested in donating to help these deserving, high-achieving students spend their summer abroad for this excellent cultural and leadership development opportunity may contact Allison Braasch at (708) 585-1018 or Juanita Medina at (708) 585-1032.

Principal Dwayne Evans is inviting business professionals to participate in T.F. North’s seventh annual Career Day, which will take place from 8 to 10 a.m.  March 26 to help students learn more about various career opportunities. Those interested in participating should contact Tameka Fowler at

Parents of prospective students that were not able to attend one of our school open houses this year may view our virtual tours to explore our campuses and view the amenities that our schools have to offer. Visit the district website to take our interactive campus virtual tours.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. Iyana Mason is the grant writing and communications specialist for Thornton Fractional Township High School District 215. She can be reached at

March 21, 2014 12:00 am

Let’s catch a TIGER by the tail in Munster

TIGER is an acronym for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, a federally funded initiative for major transportation and infrastructure projects.

The Munster Town Council has authorized town staff to proceed with an application for this sixth round of TIGER funds to finance Phase I of the 45th and Calumet Grade Separation.

These grants are highly competitive; in the last five rounds less than 5 percent of urban applications are approved. The attractiveness of this program is that the minimum request for an urban project must be $10 million. This program is for major projects.

Each phase of Munster's project is $25 million-plus. The $10 million minimum is more than the Northwest Indiana Regional Plan Commission has available annually for all of Northwest Indiana road projects.

This project impacts two states, all of west Lake County, four hospitals, dozens of manufacturing and logistical companies. More than 30,000 vehicles per day use Calumet Avenue and 45th Street.

Anyone who has driven in this area knows of the issues that occur with just regular train traffic. When there are slow trains or blockages, the traffic backups and delays are very disruptive.

We have approached the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority for a contribution for each phase of the project. We are also working with the Indiana Department of Transportation for a significant state contribution. The project is in NIRPC's Transportation Improvement Plan as is necessary for federal funding.

The proposed funding for this project will come from multiple sources. The town has already invested $8.15 million in redevelopment bonds for property acquisition, as well as local funds for design. The Town Council is focusing on set-aside funds from Tax Increment Financing for our local match.

We are working with Centennial Village Partners, LLC to relocate Munster Steel to Hammond and to redevelop the acreage to a mixed-use development. Munster Steel’s new Hammond facility will be completed this summer. Demolition will begin after the company moves and is in operation.

We are planning to have the bid for Phase I, the east-west link of the underpass on 45th Street, ready in mid-2015.

Upon completion of this phase, the town will be ready to move to the north-south phase on Calumet Avenue. We must do the east-west phase first to provide a detour route. Our next challenge will be to secure funding for that $25 million dollar phase.

Don Powers told me years ago that “good projects will always find the money necessary to build them. . .” 

I hope he is right again.

A TIGER grant award will make this project a certain reality. Let’s hope we catch a TIGER by the tail.

March 21, 2014 12:00 am

School Lunches are better than ever

School lunches are healthier and better than ever. With the implementation of new regulations set by the United States Department of Agriculture and strict specifications for food supplied by our government commodity program, American students are eating highly qualified products that are made and grown in the United States. The beef products are 100 percent beef.

Many of you may remember the “pink slime” accusation made by one of America’s favorite chefs. The beef that is supplied by the USDA for the lunch and breakfast programs has absolutely none of that added.

By the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, all breads and grains that are served in school lunches must be at least 51 percent whole grain. Duneland Schools are already compliant with that regulation. The process of lowering sodium in foods that are served has already begun, although the new regulations are not in effect until next school year. More fresh fruits and vegetables are being served. Lower fat dairy products have taken the place of whole or 2 percent milk.

It has been difficult at times convincing students that their lunches and breakfasts are better for them because they are used to white bread, pizza crusts and more than likely are still eating those items at home. It’s been an education process in healthy eating that must be followed through even outside of school.

Currently under discussion at the USDA is COMPETITIVE FOODS. These are commonly called “ala-carte” items. The proposed nutrition standards for these items are: Any food sold in schools must –

• Be a “whole grain-rich” grain product; or

• Have as the first ingredient a fruit, a vegetable, a dairy product, or a protein food; or

• Be a combination food that contains at least ¼ cup of fruit and/or vegetable; or

• Contain 10 percent of the Daily Value of one of the nutrients of public health concern in the Dietary Guidelines for the Americans (calcium, potassium, vitamin D, or dietary fiber).

Foods must also meet several nutrient requirements:

• Snack Items: Less than/equal to 200 calories

• Entrée Items: Less than/equal to 350 calories

Sodium Limits:

• Snack Items: Less than/equal to 230 mg

• Entrée Items: Less than/equal to 480 mg

Fat Limits:

• Total fat: Less than/equal to 35 percent of calories

• Saturated fat: Less than 10 percent of calories and No Trans fat

Sugar Limit:

• Less/equal to 35 percent of weight from total sugars in foods

School lunches truly are healthier and better than ever!!

This column solely represents the writer's opinion.

March 20, 2014 12:00 am
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