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Just in time for summer, our 2017 Best of the Region guide is in today’s paper.

It’s the result of your voting — an all-time record of 237,312 votes were cast, up by more than 100,000 over last year.

Congratulations to the winners in categories that include beauty and wellness, education and instruction, entertainment, food and dining, health care, living services and shopping.

As a new resident of the Region four years ago, Best of the Region guided me to some of the finest restaurants, events and facilities.

New special sections editor Mary Jane Grandinetti, who joined us just as this guide was being produced, calls it a “solid introduction to what the Region has to offer.”

“A smile crossed my face as I drove around and realized how many of the businesses I passed were familiar. Yes, Best of the Region is a valuable service to readers, but it’s also a road map for an editor embarking on a new position,” she said.

Winning is a big honor this year, given the level of voting. Of note, Strack & Van Til won the categories of best grocery store and best caterer. The voting took place before any news of a potential sale.

Keep Best of the Region around for summer activities. Visit, and share links with family and friends.

We have so much to offer in the Northwest Indiana. This #RegionProud section shows just that.

Hidden gems

Also just in time for summer, we’re collecting your best suggestions for hidden gems in the Region.

We’re all aware of Indiana Dunes State Park, the Pierogi Fest and county fairs, Washington Park in Michigan City and Marquette Park in Gary, the Star Plaza Theatre, Albanese Candy, lemon rice soup and more popular places, activities and foods.

But what else should we know? Perhaps you are aware of places, activities and food/restaurants that are off the collective radar and really should be enjoyed by many more people.

We’re calling them hidden gems of the Region, and someone’s suggestion might lead to new experiences for you and your family.

A form to submit your suggestions along with photos of your favorite hidden gems can be accessed at

They’ll be added to a growing slideshow online and a special print presentation in coming weeks.

Thanks for reading us. Please contact me with any questions about The Times or our many publications.

Bob Heisse is editor of The Times Media Co. He can be reached at (219) 933-3327 or



Bob is editor of The Times Media Co. He started in Northwest Indiana in April 2014 following stints as executive editor of The State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill., and The Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa.