Post-Tribune Latest news from Post-Tribune Online en-us (Editor) Post-Tribune 84 34 30 Copyright 2014 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Remembering the sweet young souls this Halloween ]]> Lead story image

Tony Rhein bent over his daughter’s gravesite to adjust a small pumpkin next to her headstone. It covered her nickname, “Peanut.” “That’s what I always called her,” he told me at Calvary Cemetery in Portage. Rhein and his wife, Valerie, visit here often, but especially to decorate their daughter’s grave for each season or holiday. Autumn and Halloween are no different, with bright fall colors, a toy Frankenstein and a fresh pumpkin. “We think she would like these decorations,” Rhein said, recalling the last time he saw his daughter, Tori, his little Peanut. It came almost 11 years ago to … ]]> Sat, 25 Oct 2014 22:06:01 -0500 <![CDATA[ Davich: Hobart teen pays it forward for West Side football team ]]> Lead story image

Joey Sparks didn’t expect the weak-side blitz that hit him near the 40-yard line. Everyone else saw it coming, including his parents, head coach and teammates. Heck, even casual onlookers who know nothing about football understood this audible. Still, this wasn’t part of the game plan for the 16-year-old Hobart High School junior as he stood on the field behind West Side Leadership Academy in Gary. On Thursday evening, more than two dozen West Side players penetrated society’s line of scrimmage to get to Joey. One after another, they were relentless. It didn’t matter he was probably the smallest player … ]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 03:27:24 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Serial killer is surely not what Gary needed ]]>

Just what Hammond and Gary needed was a deranged serial killer linked to both cities, at least seven dead bodies, and the national spotlight shining again in the mayors’ faces. “This news has been devastating to our city,” Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said. “But we got this animal off the streets,” Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. told me Tuesday. Darren D. Vann, 43, of Gary, is charged with first-degree murder and robbery in the death of 19-year-old Afrika Hardy. She was strangled at a Motel 6 in Hammond, and her murder investigation led police to Vann, who confessed to killing … ]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 11:35:05 -0500 <![CDATA[ Davich: 20-year crash anniversary stirs mixed emotions ]]> Lead story image

Do you recall the tragic fate of American Eagle Flight 4184? On the cold, rainy afternoon of Oct. 31, 1994, the doomed flight encountered severe icing conditions while traveling from Indianapolis to Chicago. The ATR-72 turboprop airplane crashed into a field near Roselawn, a small dot on a map mostly in Newton County. The crash not only killed all 64 passengers and its four-member crew, it also dramatically changed the lives of the victims’ families, loved ones and the Roselawn area community. Soon after the crash, local families assisted family members to establish a roadside memorial while serving as liaisons … ]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 02:02:06 -0500 <![CDATA[ Davich: Honored innovators define the word with awards, successes ]]> Lead story image

What does the word “innovation” mean to you? Creating new ways to do something better for society? Using high-tech experimentation to push open outdated envelopes in the business world? Thinking not only outside the box but outside the concept of a box? Regardless, the word has been used to describe so many things that its definition has been diluted, if not convoluted, true innovators say. “Innovation is an overused word,” said Scott Albanese, founder and CEO of Albanese Confectionery Group Inc. in Merrillville. “And it’s mainly taken to mean innovation of products.” “To me, innovation means creativity in everything you … ]]> Sun, 19 Oct 2014 02:02:04 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Billiards lover keeps competition in his pocket ]]> Lead story image

Cecil Messer ran his hands across the familiar green felt, something he’s probably done on thousands of pool tables. This time, though, wasn’t to set up a shot. He wanted to make a point about the sport of pocket billiards, which goes back centuries in one form or another, played by kings and drunkards, presidents and plumbers, little kids and feeble seniors. “This game offers a level playing field to everyone who plays it,” said Messer, who looks like a pool player straight from Hollywood central casting. “The pool table doesn’t care what gender you are, or your age or … ]]> Fri, 17 Oct 2014 02:01:46 -0500 <![CDATA[ Davich: Region woman champions new state law for unborn babies ]]> Lead story image

In 2006, Jill McNamara first became aware of Indiana’s law stating that fetal remains of babies miscarried at 20 weeks gestation or less were discarded as “surgical waste.” It has bothered her ever since, so much so that she made a personal commitment to change the law. She raised awareness, talked with lawmakers and conducted her own painstaking research as a bereavement specialist. “Prior to 2006, I had never heard of a common burial,” she told me. “It was explained to me that this was routine practice between a local Catholic hospital and a cemetery where miscarried fetal remains were … ]]> Mon, 20 Oct 2014 20:11:32 -0500 <![CDATA[ Davich: Offbeat questions for candidates reveal insights ]]> Lead story image

With Election Day now on our radar, I have endless questions for candidates running for public offices across the region. Most of my questions, though, have nothing to do with their policies, promises and campaigning, and everything to do with their flaws, values and personal lives. For instance, what is their deepest regret? Favorite movie? Most memorable mistake? Proudest achievement? Guiltiest pleasure? Why? Because when it comes down to casting my vote, I’m looking for any edge to tip the scale between comparable candidates. This edge often comes down to personal attributes such as trust, honesty, humor, modesty and open-mindedness. … ]]> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 02:06:33 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Blaming war for actions at home elicits different kind of anger ]]> Lead story image

There’s a telling line that jumps off the page in the probable cause affidavit against Felix Duron, regarding how he allegedly shook to death 2-year-old Bentley Mihal. “Duron admitted he was in a state of extreme anger and resentment and shook B.M. (Bentley Mihal) like he would ‘shake a man,’ ” the Sept. 25 affidavit states. “Even while demonstrating for us, Duron had a look of anger on his face,” wrote Chesterton police Detective Charles Rinker, who signed the affidavit. Such violent anger couldn’t be seen in Duron in 2011, when the then 24-year-old U.S. Army Reserve soldier returned home … ]]> Sun, 12 Oct 2014 10:33:40 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Questions remain about explosive Hammond traffic stop ]]> Lead story image

Did Hammond police officers use excessive force against Jamal Jones during a seemingly routine traffic stop last month? Or did Jones provoke the officers’ aggressive actions by not following their repeated orders to simply get out of his vehicle? Were the police realistically threatened by Jones’ actions, such as reaching behind the vehicle’s center console? Or did they jump the gun by profiling Jones and the potential threat he posed? And was Jones understandably exercising his rights, and protecting himself from police brutality, by remaining in the car? These are just some of the endless questions revolving around the Sept. … ]]> Fri, 10 Oct 2014 02:05:31 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Dying husband’s last words not intended for first responders ]]> Lead story image

Stephen Levenson was known as “Big Steve,” a 65-year-old mountain of a man who suffered from several health issues – diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems. So when his blood-sugar level dropped dangerously in the early morning hours of Sept. 9, his wife of 37 years felt compelled to call 911. “I knew he was in imminent danger,” recalled Linda Levenson, who lives in the Miller section of Gary. “His sugar dropped to 27 and I knew from experience he was going to crash into a coma or possibly die.” While Linda tended to her dying husband, he managed … ]]> Wed, 08 Oct 2014 02:05:06 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Centenarians implore citizens to register to vote today ]]> Lead story image

When Betty Lockett turned 105 last month, she had an idea born from youthful idealism and ageless patriotism. “I don’t want any birthday gifts or nothin’ like that,” the Valparaiso woman told me. Instead, she’s been on a mission to recruit 105 region residents to register to vote. “Not just register to vote, but they have to vote, too,” Lockett insisted. Monday is the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 general election, and Lockett is upset that too many Americans are so apathetic about the voting process. “They’re lazy, simple as that,” she snapped. “People need to … ]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 02:04:47 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: ‘Pulpit Freedom Sunday’ polarizes preachers, public ]]> Lead story image

Should a church pastor preach about politics and policy from the pulpit, especially with Election Day around the corner? If so, should that church lose its nonprofit status and related tax exemptions? This is the polarizing issue being reexamined today on “Pulpit Freedom Sunday,” an event associated with the Pulpit Initiative, a legal effort designed to secure the free speech rights of pastors in the pulpit. “This initiative encourages us to preach as we normally do, not what the Internal Revenue Service determines what is political speech or what is not,” said Ron Johnson, pastor of Living Stones Church in … ]]> Sun, 05 Oct 2014 02:04:13 -0500 <![CDATA[ Davich: ‘Toxic Tour’ unearths eye-opening glimpse of region ]]> Lead story image

Toxic Tour. It’s an apt name for an eye-opening presentation created by Thomas Frank, whose startling figures, graphic images and keen insights confirmed my beliefs about Northwest Indiana and its industrial legacy. For more than a century, we’ve worn that legacy as a badge of honor while conveniently ignoring its contaminated underbelly. We’ve willingly exchanged our collective health for comfortable homes, tons of pollution for steady paychecks. Along the way, big industry reaps obscene profits, dangling a meager carrot in our faces to keep our noses at the grindstone and our eyes off the big picture. “There is a reason … ]]> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 22:20:10 -0500 <![CDATA[ Davich: Annual Halloween event haunts neighbors in Portage ]]> Lead story image

How much is too much when it comes to Halloween decorations and revelry in a residential neighborhood? For a few neighbors near the “Haunted Hills Hospital” attraction in Portage, it depends on how close you live to it. The popular attraction at a house on Old Porter Road boasts “8,000 square feet of insanity.” A few neighbors, however, insist that it’s insane to place such an attraction at a house, even for a short period of time. The Halloween event reopens Friday and runs each weekend evening through October. Similar to most other haunted houses and Halloween attractions, it started … ]]> Wed, 01 Oct 2014 02:03:42 -0500 <![CDATA[ Davich: Digitally preserving images, movies and memories of NWI ]]> Lead story image

Remember Kiddieland? Me, too. But this column isn’t specifically about that wonderful amusement park on U.S. 41 in Schererville. It’s about the warm memories of it from our youth, as well as from countless other sites, destinations and happenings across Northwest Indiana. From the Blizzard of ’67, the Amaizo company picnics and Gary’s Golden Jubilee of 1956 to the early years of Cedar Lake, Whiting and Highland. Anthony Diaz, of Hammond, is on a quest to digitally preserve such memories via images, photos and home movies. And he needs your help. Diaz is director of the Mid-American Heritage Preservation Foundation, … ]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 02:02:25 -0500 <![CDATA[ Davich: Kids always lose in custody cases ]]> Lead story image

Child custody issues. Over the past nearly 20 years, no other topic has been brought to my attention for potential columns as repeatedly as this one. And no other topic has been repeatedly avoided by me, mostly because I am never privy to both sides of each custody battle. Fathers claim mothers are neglectful, delusional or manipulative. Mothers claim fathers are abusive, oppressive or deadbeats. I’ve heard it all from both sides. As well as from the courts, cops and social workers who get sucked into these family dramas while attorneys make a killing for every hearing, deposition and continuance. … ]]> Sun, 28 Sep 2014 02:01:52 -0500 <![CDATA[ Jerry Davich: Prescription meds - the easiest drug to score for teens ]]> Lead story image

Think quickly: What’s the fastest, easiest and most alarming way for teenagers to get high these days? Look no further than your bathroom medicine cabinet, kitchen countertop or the bottom of your purse. Prescription medications are everywhere, and these little bottles of nirvana can be gradually heisted, swallowed or resold a few pills at a time. Parents don’t typically miss them, especially if they’re old prescription meds for previous ailments or maladies. And if they run low, adults know how easy it is to get a refill -– often unknowingly -- for their clever teenage kids. Health care providers wrote … ]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 02:02:07 -0500