Short Takes

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Published on August 18, 2010 with No Comments

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As One of the Best

Taltree Arboretum & Gardens, located south of U.S. 30 between Merrillville and Valparaiso, is among 24 public spaces nominated as “the best” throughout Chicagoland by Placemaking Chicago, a multi-faceted approach to planning, design and management of public spaces. But going beyond the physical aspect, placemaking is a process that fosters creation of destinations where people feel a strong stake in their communities and commitment to making things better. It capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration and potential. With financial support from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation and Boeing, the Guide to Neighborhood Placemaking in Chicago, in partnership with Project for Public Spaces and Metropolitan Planning Council, puts the vote to the public on polldaddy.com. Success in becoming known as the best undiscovered public space in Chicagoland depends in part on having a variety of things to do in one spot. Placemaking Chicago says that when the space becomes more than the sum of its parts, it becomes a place. Adjectives used by Taltree fans on the poll site include “…a place of peace and tranquility,” “…beautiful, much-loved and cared for oasis of calm,” and as having “Wonderful entertainment in a beautiful setting.” While the majority of entries consist of photos, Jane Marx, Taltree’s Community Outreach Coordinator, devised a collection of stills to music that capture the activities, opportunity for discovery and beauty of Taltree. To learn more and place your vote, go to placemakingchicago.com. Online votes may be cast from Aug. 9 through Sept. 10 and will determine the fan favorite. Three other winners will be selected by a panel of Metropolitan Planning Council judges. All four winners will be announced on Sept. 17 and will be featured in an exclusive Chicago Architecture Foundation tour this fall. Only one vote per person is allowed for the duration of the contest. Taltree Arboretum & Gardens is located at 450 W. 100 N. in Valparaiso. For more information, call 462-0025, or visit www.taltree.org.


Save Money and Energy

NIPSCO is expanding its lineup of energy savings programs with the addition of an appliance recycling home pickup program for residential electric customers. Beginning Aug. 10, customers who own older, inefficient refrigerators and freezers can schedule a free pickup and receive a $35 incentive reward through NIPSCO’s Appliance Recycling Program. Each old refrigerator or freezer requires an average of 700 to 1,600 kilowatt-hours (kWh) to operate annually. If a spare refrigerator used in a basement or garage is removed and not replaced, energy savings can amount to 1,200 kWh per year, with an average reduction of $100 or more in annual electricity charges. “Many customers are astounded when they learn how much more energy it requires to keep food and beverages cold in those secondary refrigerators and freezers normally stored in the garage or basement,” Guy Ausmus, senior vice president of customer engagement for NIPSCO, said. “Besides helping save energy and money, this program ensures that all units are safely dismantled and recycled in an environmentally responsible way.” NIPSCO’s program partner, American Recycling Centers of America, Inc. (ARCA), will perform the in-home collection of qualifying refrigerators and freezers and properly recycle the units, which will prevent more than 95 percent of the recyclable materials in the old units from entering the waste stream. Program funding is limited, and participation will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Additional program details are that individuals must be a NIPSCO residential electric customer, must own the refrigerator or freezer and it must be 10-30 cubic feet. Appliances must be in working order and must be plugged in prior to pickup. Appliances will be picked up, at no charge, from the address listed on the billing account. A $35 reward will be mailed within four weeks after pickup. There is a limit of two appliances per household, per year. NIPSCO customers can schedule a free pickup on-line at www.NIPSCO.com/SaveEnergy, or by calling toll-free 877- 341-2190.


Preschool and Gymnastics and Sports

The Hobart Family YMCA, 601 West 40th Place in Hobart, is taking registrations for their fall 2010-2011 Developmental Preschool program. A $50 non-refundable registration fee, along with birth certificate and immunization records are requested at the time of registration. A new class for children ages 3-4 and Pre-K class have been added, with limited openings. Classes begin Sept. 7. The program includes many components in the child’s learning experiences that stimulate a young mind and influences a lifetime of learning ability. Children learn through a variety of fun academics, social and developmental activities such as learning centers, music, arts and crafts, computers, a creative movement program, character development, swim-time, gym-time, field trips and parties. For more information or to register your child, call 942-2183. The Portage Township YMCA, 3100 Willowcreek Rd., is calling all gymnasts, ages 2-15, to register now for their fall gymnastics programs. These classes, with levels from beginner to team, run monthly and no experience is necessary. The Portage Y’s gymnastics program has been one of the longest-running programs in the area. With the recently expanded facility, all of the classes except for the team level are located in the YMCA building. Middle school team call-outs are Aug. 26 from 5:30-7 p.m., with a parents’ meeting from 5:45-6 p.m. Registration is also open for flag football and outdoor soccer held from Aug. 30-Oct. 16 at the Portage Y. Practices are one night a week at Real Life Community Church and games are on Saturday mornings. Soccer is for children age 3-8 and football if for ages 5-7. For more information, or to register for one of the programs, call 762-9622.


Gets Once-in-a-Century Honor

William Eckert, a Scout Leader from Valparaiso, was among a select group of Scouts and Scout leaders nationwide named July 25 to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) 100th Anniversary National Hall of Leadership. Eckert was personally presented his award in South Bend on Aug. 11 during the Scout Centennial Celebration Breakfast featuring Sen. Richard Lugar, Indiana’s favorite Distinguished Eagle Scout, as keynote speaker. Eckert represents the LaSalle Council, located in South Bend. Fondly considered “Mr. Scouter,” Eckert was chosen as one of less than 300 inductees out of 7,000 nominees nationwide. Over his 43 years of leadership and service, Eckert has personally taken Scouts to long-term summer camp every year. Over 70 Scouts under Eckert’s outstanding leadership have become Eagle Scouts, BSA’s highest youth achievement. Many of these Eagle Scouts are leaders in Scouting today. Having been a leader at 16 Jamborees — four World, two Australian and 10 National — Eckert is a tireless worker and leader for the BSA on all levels. Eckert holds the highest Scouting awards from his church, district, council, region, and now, nationally, as well. “It is not the number of years Bill has been Scoutmaster or the number of Eagle Scouts his troop has produced in that time that impresses me the most. It’s how much he cares, and how many hundreds of lives he’s touched and made a positive difference in,” Assistant Scout Executive at the LaSalle Council, Dave Sykes, said. “The number of successful adult men who will attribute a large part of their success to what they learned from Bill as a mentor is absolutely amazing.” During a ceremony at the close of the BSA’s Centennial Parade in Washington, D.C. on July 25, Eckert was named to the National Hall of Leadership for making a significant difference in the life of another by the extraordinary service he has given, and the Scouting virtues he has modeled. In addition to the July 25 ceremonies in the nation’s capital, each inductee will have his or her name recorded as part of the BSA’s 100th Anniversary archives at the National Scouting Museum in Irving, TX. “This is a once-in-a-century honor,” Sykes said. “We’re honoring, recognizing, and thanking our Scouts, leaders, and volunteers for the extraordinary differences they have made in the lives of others through their leadership.”

“What better way to help celebrate 100 years of Scouting in America than by giving the citizens of the communities we serve the opportunity to remember and honor these individuals who have made such a significant contribution to the lives of others and who have improved the quality of life for all,” Chief Scout Executive, Robert J. Mazzuca, said. For more information about the LaSalle Council of Boy Scouts of America, call 800-822-3867 ext. 306, or visit www.lasallecoucilbsa.org.


Gets Federal Grant

U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky today announced that the United States Department of Education has awarded a grant totaling $220,000 to Ivy Tech Community College Northwest. “The services enabled by this award will help ensure that more students are able to take advantage of the excellent higher education opportunities we have right here in Indiana’s First District,” Visclosky said. The grant was awarded under the Department of Education’s Student Support Services Program, and will enable the provision of academic and other services to students at Ivy Tech Community Colleges Northwest Campus in Gary. The Student Support Services Program targets low-income, first-generation, or disabled college students. It aims to provide academic and other support services in order to increase student retention and graduation rates, foster students’ transitions from two-year to four-year colleges, and facilitate a climate that encourages their success. The program’s services may include study skill instruction, tutoring services, counseling, application and financial aid assistance, and career guidance. Ivy Tech Community College Northwest is the second largest college/university in Northwest Indiana. Enrollment for the Northwest Region averages over 8,000 students on its four campuses: Gary, East Chicago De La Garza, Valparaiso and Michigan City. Each campus provides programs that address the needs of its unique community. For more information about Ivy Tech Community College Northwest, call 981-1111, or visit www.ivytech.edu/northwest.

Pet Supplies Plus

Donates Funds to K-9 Program
Pet Supplies Plus in Valparaiso has always been a great supporter of the Valparaiso Police Department’s K-9 Program. Throughout the month of June they had been conducting a fundraiser through daily sales. They also offered customers the opportunity to purchase “paper paws” for one dollar. The proceeds from the “paper paws” would be donated to the police department’s K-9 program. On the morning of Aug. 12, the results of the fundraiser were announced by Pet Supplies Plus General Manager Brett Abatie. Over 4,000 “paper paws” were purchased by customers throughout June. As a result of this, Pet Supplies Plus presented a check totaling $6,151 to Police Chief Michael Brickner for the K-9 program. Sgt. Michael Grennes said that the Valparaiso Police Department would like to thank everybody that purchased a “paper paw” and thank Pet Supplies Plus for their continuous support. For more information about the Valparaiso Police Department’s K-9 Program, call 462-2134, or visit www.valparaisopolice.org. For more information about Pet Supplies Plus in Valparaiso, call 531-0622, or visit www.petsuppliespplus.com.


Entertainment Association
Now is the time to join the Portage Township Live Entertainment Association as the season begins in September, and tickets will be mailed by Labor Day. This season, Portage will have four concerts, one of which will be held at Valparaiso High School, with the other three being held at Portage High School. The total cost of the Portage ticket is $45, but what makes this membership such an excellent value is that one may attend the concerts in Valparaiso, LaPorte, and Munster using the Portage ticket. This means one may see as many as 16 concerts for only $45. The entertainment for the Portage series will be “Rhythm & Passion,” “Kennedy’s Kitchen,” Ilya Yakushev and “River City 6.” For more information or to get a ticket application, call Terry Hardin at 762-5025.


Rail Association tours Europe

For the purpose of achieving a better understanding of the functions and economic benefits of the trains of Europe, the Vice President of Business Development of the Indiana High Speed Rail Association, W. Dennis Hodges of Merrillville, will tour three European companies that manufacturer these trains. He will also discuss the train’s impact on various communities with select business groups. His findings will be reported in the winter edition of the national trade publication “RAIL Magazine.” On Aug. 23-24, Hodges will visit Alstom Transport in France, makers of the famed TGV high-speed trains in that country, and will ride with the engineer in the cab of a newer generation of TGV trains on Aug. 25. He will also see models proposed by this company for the Midwest Regional Rail System, a high-speed rail system proposed for Indiana and the Midwest. Talgo in Spain, makers of high speed trains for that country, will host Hodges on a tour that also includes a ride on the rail equipment proposed for Midwest Regional Rail System. Siemens Transportation, manufacturers of the ICE (Intercity Express) and Railjet, will host this Hoosier rail advocate from Sept. 6-10 on a tour of its facilities in Germany and Austria. He will also ride with the engineer in the cab of a train proposed by Siemens for Midwest Regional Rail System. Hodges will also visit the Command Center, a counterpart of an air traffic control tower, of SNCF – The French Railway System, which operates 700 trains crisscrossing Europe every day. All three companies plan on bidding for rail sets proposed for Indiana and the Midwest, and Hodges will be given a first-hand view of the equipment these companies plan on providing for the Midwest Regional Rail System. During his stay in Europe, Hodges will meet with a representative of the French Prime Minister and a consortium of European chambers of commerce, to which he will give a PowerPoint presentation on transportation in Indiana and the Midwest. The Indiana High Speed Rail Association is a membership-based organization advocating for the funding and implementation of the Midwest Regional Rail System in Indiana and the Midwest. For more information, call 887-1351, or visit www.indianahighspeedrail.org.

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