Short Takes: January 4, 2012

Written by Chronicle Staff. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on January 05, 2012 with No Comments


Variety of ages and times offered

Westchester Public Library will continue with several children’s programs this winter and spring. These programs are for different ages and are held at different times to meet the needs of families with young children. Programs are at Thomas Library, 200 W. Indiana Avenue, Chesterton, and Hageman Library, 100 Francis Street, Porter. Children’s programs begin the week of Jan. 9. Play Date is an unstructured playtime for babies newborn to 12 months old (siblings welcome) and their parent or caregiver. Play Date takes place at Hageman Library on Tuesday mornings at 10:30 a.m. Tickle Tales is a creative, hands-on introduction to books and the library for children 9 months old to two years of age and their parent or caregiver. Tickle Tales is held at 10 a.m. on Tuesdays at Hageman Library and 10 a.m. on Wednesdays at Thomas Library. Space is limited, so pre-registration is required. Toddler Time is a special story time for children two-three years of age and their parent or caregiver. Hageman Library will host Toddler Time on Monday mornings at 10 a.m. Toddler Time is an informal introduction to books and the library. Wiggles & Giggles is a story time for children two-three years of age and their parent or caregiver at Thomas Library on Thursday and Friday mornings at 10 a.m. At Wiggles & Giggles, interaction between caretaker and child will include book sharing and singing along with Grandma Frankie. Stepping Stone 3’s is story time for three-year-olds who are independent of their parent but not ready for a longer story time. Stepping Stone 3’s will take place at Hageman Library on Wednesday mornings at 11 a.m. Preschool Story Time is for children four to six years of age and not yet in kindergarten. Sessions will be at Thomas Library on Tuesdays at 1 p.m. Story Time at Hageman will be on Thursdays at 1 p.m. Programs last approximately 45 minutes and are available on a drop-in basis. Library story time programs are fun-filled, yet also provide important learning experiences for young children. In addition to listening to stories, sessions also include music, finger plays and stories told in a variety of formats. Programs are built around weekly themes that enlarge children’s knowledge of life and expand their vocabulary. Listening to stories and learning to follow directions help to build positive attitudes toward books. They also help children develop valuable pre-reading skills. In addition, talking with the storyteller helps children increase their creativity and their ability to comprehend languages and express ideas.Call Thomas Library at 926-7696 or Hageman Library at 926-9080 for more information.

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The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) has approved a collaborative settlement reached in July by NIPSCO, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), NIPSCO’s industrial customers and a coalition of eight northern Indiana municipalities regarding new rates for its more than 457,000 electric customers. The newly approved electric base rates – which have not been modified in 24 years – are being updated to reflect investments made to improve service reliability and environmental technology, including the $330 million purchase of the highly efficient Sugar Creek natural gas-fired power plant in West Terre Haute, as well as costs associated with customer growth, system upgrades and ongoing maintenance. A residential electric customer using 688 kilowatt hours a month on average will see a 4.5 percent base rate increase (or $3.33 per month). This effective change is half of the request NIPSCO filed in 2010 and three times less than what was approved by the IURC in the company’s 2008 case but never applied to customer bills. The newly approved electric rates are expected to take effect immediately. “This decision is a pivotal step in furthering our commitment to enhance reliability and customer service for our customers, while providing a modern energy infrastructure to support northern Indiana jobs and economic growth,” NIPSCO CEO Jimmy Staton said. “The approved settlement also helps provide families, businesses and industries with the reliable, affordable and environmentally sustainable energy they need now and in the future.” Benefits include a lower bill increase than expected and NIPSCO-funded rebates to convert electric furnaces to more efficient natural gas units, among others. “While providing a much smaller base rate increase than originally requested, this agreement ensures NIPSCO will be able to continue making the infrastructure investments that will be needed for safe, reliable service,” said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler. “I am pleased that the OUCC, NIPSCO and other settling parties were able to work together to reach a balanced resolution to this extremely complicated litigation.” “This agreement provides a reasonable solution for local communities across northern Indiana working hard to manage very tight and resource-challenged budgets,” said Michael Griffin, representing the coalition of northern Indiana municipalities. NIPSCO anticipates the decision will help the company maintain electric rates below the national average. According to the most recent Edison Electric Institute’s survey of electric rates, NIPSCO’s residential, commercial and industrial electric rates are below the average price nationally for electricity and near the Indiana average. A copy of the IURC’s decision is in the IURC’s electronic document system by visiting www.myweb.in.gov/IURC/eds/ and searching for Cause No. 43969. It will also be available on the OUCC Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2643.htm. For more information about NIPSCO’s rates and this filing, customers are encouraged to visit NIPSCO.com and the OUCC’s Website at www.IN.gov/OUCC.


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Customers and Businesses Benefit

Since its launch, Taap.it Live Local has made the growth and development of local small business a staple of its personal success. In light of the new Amazon “Price Check” app, Taap.it is launching a “Not So Amaz-ing” campaign to counter Amazon and assist small businesses. In order to drive consumer traffic to local vendors around the country, Taap.it offered consumers $10 off on selected items purchased through the app or online and picked up locally. “Local stores represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms; they keep our country running, we can’t turn our backs to them,” said Dave Balkaran, Director of Business Development at Taap.it. Based on a shopper’s location, Taap.it enables them to find items in their cities from local stores. Shoppers are able to buy these items using their mobile device or their computers and are able to pick them up either the same day or the following day. If the buyer chooses to pick it up in-store, they will receive $10 off the item they purchased. All the items tagged with the hash tag #10bucksoff are subject to the $10 off. “We are simplifying the way consumers shop. No more waiting in lines and no more waiting for weeks for an item to be delivered,” said Balkaran. “At the same time we are connecting more local businesses with more local consumers.” Allowing consumers to pick up the same day and offering them $10 off isn’t the only thing driving traffic to local businesses through Taap.it. The mobile app company has a sharing system in place which allows consumers to rate the items inside of a store and share it with friends. By rating the items and sharing it with friends consumers are earning points which they can later redeem for prizes. It’s also highly beneficial for small businesses, since the more their items are rated and shared the more visible their store will become. “Think foursquare with a more in-depth tone to it,” said Balkaran. “What is being offered inside the place matters more than the place itself? If you can walk into a restaurant and know what their best dish is, it will make your selection process that much easier.”



Entech Transitions to Elevate Ventures

Entrepreneurs will have new options for growing businesses in Valparaiso and Northwest Indiana, announced Charlie McGill, executive Director for Valparaiso’s Entech Innovation Center. The services offered by the nonprofit Entech are available instead through Elevate Ventures, a nonprofit statewide venture development organization specializing in business development, investments and investment advisory services. McGill joins Elevate Ventures as an Entrepreneur in Residence, specializing in assisting the Northwest Indiana Entrepreneurial community. “We’re very excited to have an opportunity to do even more for emerging and high-performing Indiana businesses through Elevate Ventures,” said McGill. “I’ll have the benefit of continuing to work with the exciting new companies we’ve met through Entech, yet with additional resources from Elevate Ventures we can do even more to support these and other promising regional business opportunities,” he said. Entech was a partnership centered around the Valparaiso Economic Development Corporation (VEDC). Entech was funded primarily through the VEDC, private foundation grants, a Federal Small Business Association grant and program income. Elevate Ventures Northwest Indiana office will be located in Portage, which are also home to the Northwest Indiana Forum and the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission (NIRPC). In addition to the partnership with Elevate Ventures for high-tech ventures, the VEDC remains very active in assisting companies in establishing or expanding businesses in Valparaiso. “We’ve been very successful in helping businesses such as Task Force Tips and North Coast Distributing to expand their businesses and keep their roots and headquarters here in Valparaiso,” said Rex Richards, VEDC President. This cell phone tracking software lets you study all written text messages and multimedia communications directed or received by the focus on phone end user

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