GRIFFITH — Police are investigating an incident that left a 37-year-old Merrillville man with a bloody face and a possible bone protruding from his head.
An officer noticed the man while on patrol about 12:40 a.m. Sunday near the rear entrance of Griffith Billiards in the 100 block of South Broad Street. His bright, green shirt was bloody.
As the officer attempted to stop the man from entering the bar, a second man approached and said "he witnessed everything and mentioned a hammer," according to the police report.
He said the injured man tried to sell "Molly" to him and two other men who were playing pool, but they asked him to leave them alone. The 37-year-old came back with a hammer and exchanged words with the three.
They then went outside the bar, where a fight broke out, the report stated. At some point, the hammer was taken away from the Merrillville man, but it is unknown if he was struck with it.
After the fight ended, the hammer was thrown underneath a trailer at Griffith Rentals and later collected by police.
A bartender told the officer the Merrillville man was kicked out of Griffith Billiards earlier that evening for trying to sell drugs. The bartender didn't know what happened to him after.
The officer said he tried to speak with the 37-year-old, who smelled of alcohol, but he wouldn't provide any information about what caused his injuries. The right side of his head appeared to be deformed.
Due to the severity of his condition, an ambulance unit was called to the scene. The man refused medical attention and said he just wanted to go home. However, an emergency room doctor, who spoke with the onsite medics, ordered the man to be taken "against his will" to Methodist Hospitals Northlake Campus in Gary.
Griffith police Cmdr. Keith Martin said the 37-year-old later left the hospital that Sunday and has not contacted the department since. A detective has been assigned to the case and is looking into the matter further.
PORTAGE — Mayor John Cannon said when he was at the Lakefront Park and Riverwalk earlier this year to discuss the devastating erosion, he was concerned that the rising lake waters would eventually break through the dunes and potentially jeopardize the pavilion.
His fears have come true, and the city police and fire departments are now calling for closing the $17 million city-managed lakefront pavilion that's the gateway for many of the 3.6 million annual visitors to the Indiana Dunes National Park, he said.
High waves on Lake Michigan breached the dune just west of the pavilion for the first time last week, and waves were seen rushing into the area again Monday, according to Indiana Dunes National Park Superintendent Paul Labovitz.
The lake waters gained access to the pannes area, which he described as a smaller body of water directly south of the dunes that is connected to the lake levels.
While a dramatic video of the breach shows the 3,500-square-foot lakefront pavilion surrounded on three sides by water, Labovitz said the pavilion is not yet in danger.
"There is no immediate threat to that building," he said.
But Cannon does not agree.
"I still don't believe that," he said.
Cannon said he feared earlier this year that the building's foundation was a risk and is even more concerned now that the nearby dune has been breached.
City police and fire officials are calling for the site to be closed to the public because they do not have the equipment needed to reach anyone caught in the breached area, he said.
Cannon said officials with the city and Indiana Dunes National Park will be meeting Friday to discuss the next move.
In the meantime, Cannon is calling on state lawmakers, who studied the erosion problem this summer, to free up the $1 million needed to start a dredging and sand replenishment program as a short-term response to the beach erosion problem.
The effort is needed to buy time while efforts continue to secure funding for the local share of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study of long-term solutions for eroded Lake Michigan beaches, he said.
Both of these approaches are needed to save the lakefront site, which is the most popular in the newly christened national park, said Lorelei Weimer, executive director of Indiana Dunes Tourism.
"It's just shocking," Weimer said while at the site Tuesday afternoon. "Literally, the dune is gone."
The park area is particularly significant because of its history of being a reclaimed industrial site, she said.
"There's a lot involved in this site," Weimer said.
Labovitz said last week's breaching of the dunes wound up helping the beach in a natural replenishing of sand. But the big question is whether shelf ice will arrive in time this winter to protect the shoreline against further battering until more help arrives.
"How are we going to make it through the winter and what will it look like in the spring?" he asked. "The shelf ice really does protect things."
PORTAGE — Gary resident Centrell Ivey collided into another vehicle Monday afternoon, threatened the other driver and stole $160 after saying, "You better give me something," according to police.
Ivey, who claimed his vehicle was hit, told police he was given the money by the other driver. He now faces charges of leaving the scene of an accident and theft, according to the incident report.
A Portage police officer said he was driving west on Lute Road at 3:41 p.m. Monday when he saw Ivey's vehicle driving into oncoming traffic. Ivey, 27, told the officer his vehicle had been struck by another vehicle that fled the scene.
The 31-year-old Portage resident driving the other vehicle told police he was struck by Ivey, who then approached his vehicle yelling with his fists up, police said. The man said after he pulled out his wallet to retrieve his driver's license, Ivey grabbed it, took $160 in cash and threw the wallet back at him.
Ivey then fled the scene, the other driver told police.
A witness with a surveillance video recording of the incident supported the version of events described by the other driver, police said.
U.S. Steel has laid off an undisclosed number of non-union workers nationwide, including at Gary Works and the Midwest Plant in Portage.
The latest round of layoffs is on top of the 150 workers the Pittsburgh-based steelmaker plans to let go when it idles East Chicago Tin later this year.
U.S. Steel has been looking to slash annual costs by $200 million a year after poor financial performance amid deteriorating market conditions, including weak steel prices, soft demand, declining automotive sales and a record $31 billion in household and kitchen appliance imports last year.
"Following the announcement of our new operating structure on Oct. 8, leaders examined organizational structures, work performed, and spending to find opportunities to more efficiently execute our strategy," U.S. Steel Communications Analyst Amanda Malkowski said. "At the same time, we’ve been battling challenging market conditions, which means we need to truly become a leaner, more efficient organization faster. As part of this process, we are taking the difficult step to eliminate a number of non-represented positions in the United States."
The company won't say how many workers it has let go, but said they are not union-represented hourly workers, meaning those affected all worked in managerial or professional positions.
"Unfortunately, this was a necessary step in the execution of our strategy which will deliver cost and capability differentiation to create a world competitive 'best of both' footprint," Malkowski said, referring to the company's acquisition of a large stake in the Big River Steel mini mill in Arkansas. "It’s always difficult when we have to say goodbye to valued colleagues, but these moves will allow us to better manage our resources amid challenging market conditions."
U.S. Steel lost $84 million in the third quarter, or 49 cents per share, down from $291 million in profit during the third quarter of last year. The company has idled Blast Furnace No. 8 at Gary Works and soon will idle East Chicago Tin, consolidating its tin-making operations at Gary Works and the Midwest Plant.
The company made $957 million in profit last year after Section 232 tariffs of 25% were imposed on most foreign steel, up from $387 million in annual profit the previous year, but steel prices in the United States peaked last summer and largely have been declining ever since. However, steel executives recently told investors they thought the market was finally starting to stabilize.
U.S. Steel laid off managerial staff at Gary Works in 2016 when it cut 750 non-union workers nationwide, roughly a fourth of its salaried workforce at the time.