Post-Tribune Latest news from Post-Tribune Online en-us (Editor) Post-Tribune 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: No more excuses to avoid region’s trails ]]> Lead story image

Unlike me, Mitch Barloga knew exactly where to go once he started riding his bicycle along Wolf Lake Trail. Last weekend, he guided a small group of adventurous bicyclists from the intriguing new trail in Hammond westward into Illinois. It was a first for me. I’ve rode most trails across Northwest Indiana on my beat-up older-model mountain bike, but the 11-mile route we took offered the perfect fusion of urban grit, natural beauty and lingering charm. “I think it’s money well-invested,” said Barloga, active transportation planner for the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission. Or, as I call Barloga, this region’s … ]]> Fri, 18 Apr 2014 02:06:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Frontline hits front lines to combat drug addiction ]]> Lead story image

After being tucked away in a hard-to-find location for five years, Frontline Foundations Inc. is now front and center on the main drag in Chesterton. It’s a timely transformation because Frontline’s services are needed more than ever in the small, sleepy Duneland town. Frontline is a faith-based, nonprofit substance abuse recovery program designed for struggling addicts from age 18 to 28, the highest-risk group for addiction and peer pressure. That impressionable age group holds the dubious distinction for the highest usage of cocaine and marijuana as well as the highest rates of binge drinking and prescription drug abuse. “We don’t … ]]> Wed, 16 Apr 2014 02:04:06 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Think it’s easy being a female cop? Think again ]]> Lead story image

Chesterton Police Cpl. Jamie Nale-Copollo knew it wouldn’t be easy working in a field dominated by men and shielded by machismo. Her rookie year was hell, with some of the older cops taking old-school hazing to new lows. She would return from work some days seriously considering quitting the force. “I couldn’t take it anymore with the guys bashing me every day,” she told me. The hardscrabble hazing lingered for a few years, especially with a couple of the older officers who wouldn’t let up on her. She could’ve cried to the chief. She didn’t. “I figured if I did … ]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 02:03:31 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Blackboard connects residents to city, events and alerts ]]> Lead story image

It’s called Blackboard Connect. No, it’s not a school kid’s latest video game. It’s a high-tech mass-notification system used by several municipalities across Northwest Indiana, most lately Portage. “I researched several (systems) and I like the features of Blackboard the best,” said Joseph Calhoun, the city’s director of administration and emergency management. “We can send out a message citywide, draw an area on a map on the computer and call everyone located inside that area, or draw a line down a street and call only those on that street.” Designed for government use, school campuses and businesses, Blackboard Connect gives … ]]> Sun, 13 Apr 2014 02:03:11 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Protesting the effectiveness of union pickets ]]> Lead story image

Dario “Chief” Llano shook his head in disgust when I asked how things were going. He didn’t have to say a word. In mid-March, Llano stood outside Neo Industries in Portage alongside his union brothers, Mike Briggs, Shawn Himo, Robert Schnick and Duane “Bubba” Jones. They clustered around burn barrels to stay warm, hoisted protest signs for visitors and even erected a makeshift tent to demonstrate around the clock. For weeks, these United Steelworkers Union Local 2003 workers had been protesting outside Neo, amid bitter wintry conditions, with no end in sight and no contract in hand. “We have been … ]]> Fri, 11 Apr 2014 02:02:55 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Day in the life of a 911 police dispatcher ]]> Lead story image

Amanda Gulley has heard it all over the past several years. As a 911 police dispatcher, the 30-year-old mother of two from Lake Station has received too many calls that still rattle in her head like broken pieces of glass. “Some forever echo in my heart, others deep into my soul,” she told me. Last week, I wrote about the ongoing 911 center consolidation plan in Lake County, noting that 911 dispatchers are part emergency responder, part therapist, part mother, part pastor. I heard from several dispatchers, including Gulley, who works for the Griffith Police Department. “For me, dispatching is … ]]> Mon, 14 Apr 2014 19:19:18 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Soldier’s death 10 years later: ‘We will never forget’ ]]> Lead story image

Rebecca Amos Andree couldn’t suppress her emotions any longer while standing atop her kid brother’s grave site. “It’s been a very rough road these past 10 years without J.D.,” she said through a fierce wind at Graceland Cemetery in Valparaiso. “I’ve come to realize just how close we really were. I miss him so much.” On April 4, 2004, Army Spc. John Douglas “J.D.” Amos II was killed when an improvised explosive device hit his military vehicle in Iraq. He died after going into cardiac arrest on an evacuation airplane. He was 20 years old. On Friday, precisely 10 years … ]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 02:02:57 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Pastor passionate against same-sex marriage ]]> Lead story image

Pastor Ron Johnson took the stage to confess he was more nervous than on election night. “Five minutes until D-Day,” joked Johnson, a conservative Republican who ran and lost twice for state representative, in 2000 and 2012. On this Saturday evening, more than 100 parishioners flocked to Living Stones Church in Crown Point to watch ABC-TV’s “Nightline Primetime” on a big-screen TV. The show profiled Johnson and his wife, Marion, and their eight children, focusing on a “Purity Ball” they attended last fall in Colorado. The event allows fathers to vow their love and affection for their daughter before signing … ]]> Mon, 07 Apr 2014 17:42:12 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: 911 dispatchers want to be heard too ]]> Lead story image

The woman frantically called 911 during breakfast. Her husband went face-first into his bowl of oatmeal. He was dead. She begged the 911 police dispatcher for an ambulance while coming to grips that her husband of several decades was gone. She even gathered his medications while waiting for paramedics to arrive at their rural home. The female dispatcher knew the likely outcome of the sad situation but respectfully listened to the woman as she rambled through tears. For more than 10 minutes, the dispatcher listened with empathy and patience. “Who wants to be alone when the unthinkable happens?” the dispatcher … ]]> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 02:03:07 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Yes, it matters where you choose to live ]]> Lead story image

Where you choose to live matters more than you may think. We are reminded of this by the fifth annual County Health Rankings, which lists Lake County at No. 77 (out of 92) in terms of healthiest counties to live in Indiana. A total of 29 “vital health factors” are used to comprise the rankings report, including high school graduation rates, violent crime rates, obesity figures, smoking, unemployment, access to healthy foods, the quality of air and water, income, and teen births. It’s designed to provide a revealing snapshot of how our overall health is influenced by where we live, … ]]> Wed, 02 Apr 2014 02:02:05 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Urban exploration: ‘It frees my soul’ ]]> Lead story image

It’s called “urban exploration,” and it’s rising in popularity in this region. Also known as urban spelunking, or “urb-ex,” it’s the adventurous exploration, inspection and photo documentation of abandoned ruins and buildings, especially in Gary, considered ground zero in Northwest Indiana. It can be dangerous, even illegal, but it’s thrilling and addictive nonetheless. “For many, it’s a certain type of art. For me, it’s all about a certain beauty,” explained Cindy “Cupcake” Bean, a talented amateur photographer from Lake of the Four Seasons. Curious photographers, history lovers and adventure-seekers are flocking to mine these forgotten urban sites. Some to put … ]]> Mon, 31 Mar 2014 02:02:11 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Indiana slam dunks Hoosier Hysteria ]]> Lead story image

The teenage boys appeared oblivious to the biting wind that slapped down their basketball before it hit the bent hoop. They also ignored the remaining snow near the makeshift three-point line on the cracked driveway. They didn’t let the missing net, an apparent casualty of our combative winter, slow them down. It didn’t matter how cold it was outdoors. It didn’t matter it was almost dark outside. It didn’t matter it was only a two-on-two pickup game between young punks shooting for bragging rights. The four teens went at it like Game 7 of the NBA playoffs, or a March … ]]> Sun, 30 Mar 2014 02:01:00 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Successful Vietnamese refugee samples the American dream ]]> Lead story image

Sanh Tran barely broke stride from behind his Maki of Japan counter while answering my questions in between customers. “Nood-os or rice? Nood-os or rice?” he politely asked patrons while handing out countless samples of bourbon chicken on toothpicks. Tran has been doing this for 14 years inside the food court at Southlake Mall in Hobart. Each time I visit that mall I stop at Tran’s place. And each time I order the same thing — fried rice with bourbon and tangerine chicken, no egg roll, and always in a carryout container (I’m convinced you get more food). Then I … ]]> Fri, 28 Mar 2014 02:01:58 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Parents, don’t consent to concussions ]]> Lead story image

The consent form looked like any other perfunctory paperwork for a parent to sign, allowing their high school student to play team sports. And, I’m guessing, most parents casually glanced it over, signed it and handed back to school officials without a second thought. This particular consent form, however, struck me. It warned of the risks and dangers of head concussions, which these days should catch the attention of any parent of student athletes, especially teenage football players. This issue has been in the news lately because of former NFL players who have come forward with sad tales of severe … ]]> Wed, 26 Mar 2014 02:01:44 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Unheralded service groups deserve publicity, too ]]> Lead story image

Luis Molina unloaded several boxes of household items and basic toiletries, not having a clue who will receive them. “It doesn’t matter to us,” Molina said with a shrug. “We just want to help.” Molina is vice president of the Asociacion Benefica Hijos de Borinquen (Sons of Borinquen Benefit Association), a Puerto Rican organization known by its members as the Hijos de Borinquen. Last Monday, when much of Northwest Indiana was preparing for St. Patrick’s Day festivities, Molina and other Hijos members visited the Carmelite Home in East Chicago. Under the radar of any public recognition, they quietly made yet … ]]> Mon, 24 Mar 2014 02:01:55 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: St. Mary Parish struggles not to perish ]]> Lead story image

Tina Evans prays for the future of her church. After returning to St. Mary of the Lake Catholic Church in the Miller section of Gary, she couldn’t help but notice that its membership is nothing like it used to be. As a kid, Evans attended the historic church on Miller Avenue when its congregation was brimming. Today, not so much. The Diocese of Gary website says St. Mary has 345 families, but it’s more like 124 families who attend regularly, said the Rev. Selvaraj Selladurai. And that number is not getting any bigger. “We are not a parish that is … ]]> Sun, 23 Mar 2014 02:01:56 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: How should we feel about Fred Phelps’ death? ]]> Lead story image

The Rev. Fred Phelps didn’t hide his hatred when I first talked with him in 1997. “I hate gays and so should you,” said Phelps, who has preached against homosexuality since he was ordained at age 17. “It’s a disgrace that in the heart of America, the gay element is trying to take hold of the political power points.” The infamous “God Hates Fags” reverend from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., was preparing for his church’s first protest in Northwest Indiana, to demonstrate against a gay-themed poster in Chesterton High School. I met his group of “street preachers” when … ]]> Fri, 21 Mar 2014 02:04:16 -0500 <![CDATA[ Davich: Funeral Honor Guard: ‘It’s all about the honor’ ]]> Lead story image

The stone-faced Funeral Honor Guard members stood like statues while watching the flag-draped casket slowly pass. On this chilly Monday morning, the military veterans waited more than an hour to honor the life, death and military service of World War II and Korean War veteran Austin Spain. The U.S. Army soldier from Hobart died March 13 at age 85. “Honor Guard, atten-HUT!” one member yelled, snapping the other members to formal attention under the bright sun. “Pre-sent ARMS!” Honor Guard bugler Richard Coy played “Amazing Grace” as dozens of mourners shuffled into the mausoleum at Calumet Park Cemetery in Merrillville. … ]]> Wed, 19 Mar 2014 02:03:41 -0500