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  • Eighth Annual ’12 Days of Christmas Food Drive’ Launched

    December 22, 2015 No comments

    Food-DriveSPEEDWAY, Ind. (Dec. 21, 2015) – Sarah Fisher and Andy O’Gara continue to show their support for the community with their eighth annual “12 Days of Christmas Food Drive” to race against hunger this holiday season.


    The Officer David S. Moore Foundation Food Pantry in Indianapolis will serve as the beneficiary of the drive this year.


    The foundation celebrates the life of Officer David S. Moore, who was killed in the line of duty in 2012. Moore spent his life in service to his community beyond his role as an Indianapolis police officer.


    Following his death, the incredible stories of his kindness and generous spirit began to circulate in the news and throughout the community. The foundation was created to honor the graciousness of Officer Moore’s life and bring the spirit of giving to Indianapolis in his name.


    The O’Gara family and Speedway Indoor Karting (SIK) are asking for community support through donations for the food pantry. Donations of non-perishable canned and boxed food can be dropped at O’Gara’s Irish Pub in Beech Grove and any Lamping Cleaners locations until Jan. 1.


    This is another example of the community outreach the O’Gara family and Speedway Indoor Karting will continue to provide.


    “Our family and our team at Speedway Indoor Karting are truly blessed, and we’re dedicated to our mission to give back through charitable events like this,” Fisher said. “The 12 Days of Christmas Food Drive is always one of our favorite events of the year, and we’re excited to partner this year with the Officer David S. Moore Foundation. Officer Moore’s stories are an inspiration to us all, and we wish to continue to show the generosity that he exemplified.”


    Officer Moore had served with the Indianapolis Police Department for 6 ½ years and was assigned to the North District. He was posthumously awarded the department’s Medal of Honor and Purple Heart.


    The Officer David S. Moore Food Pantry is a vital part of the foundation’s role in the community. The foundation’s goal is to provide support to individuals and groups with projects that focus on improvement of the quality of life in their community. It supports individuals from faith-based organizations, civic groups, educational institutitions and government entities.


    The pantry recently relocated to a larger space in St. Patrick’s Church in Fountain Square to make it easier to serve those in need. Continued donations are the key to success for the pantry. Canned food, clothing items, blankets and coats can be dropped off at the pantry on days it is open.


    Upcoming days of operation can be found on the pantry’s Facebook page.


    Individuals wishing to make a monetary donation can send a check payable to the Officer David S. Moore Food Pantry to 5028 N. Park Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46205.

    Posted by in Local Events


    December 21, 2015 No comments

    1234Washington, D.C. – United States Representative, Todd Rokita (IN-04), issued the following statement after Plainfield and Danville school districts closed due to numerous online threats of violence:


    Now that every student has a Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, monitoring online threats and knowing which are credible requires innovative technology and collaboration between law enforcement and citizens.  Communication, like Danville and Plainfield demonstrated yesterday, was key in ensuring these online threats never materialized,” said Rep. Rokita.


    Recently, Rep. Rokita hosted a School Safety Summit.  Nearly 100 law enforcement and security industry professionals came together in Plainfield at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy to discuss ways communities can work together to facilitate a safe learning environment for students.


    One of the things we learned was that the security industry, law enforcement, and school officials need to communicate with each other to understand the most effective technology available and best practices to utilize,”  added Rokita.


    On Thursday, Plainfield schools closed due to online threats made against other students that posted Wednesday night.  As law enforcement officials investigated the Plainfield threats, the threats expanded to Danville schools, prompting a school shut-down.


    Currently, the FBI is working with local law enforcement in the investigation.


    This follows a slew of online threats sweeping the country this week from Washington, D.C. to California.

  • National Gas Prices Below $2 Per Gallon for First Time Since 2009

    December 21, 2015 No comments

    untitledIndianapolis, IN – Dec. 21, 2015 – U.S. average gas prices dropped below $2 per gallon this morning for the first time since March 25, 2009, according to AAA. Today’s national average price of gas is $1.998 per gallon. AAA estimates that cheaper gas prices have saved Americans more than $115 billion on gasoline so far this year, which works out to more than $550 per licensed driver. More than 91 million Americans plan to take advantage of cheaper gas prices to drive 50 miles or more during the upcoming holiday period.


    More than two-thirds of U.S. stations already are selling gas under $2 per gallon, and drivers can find at least one station selling gas for less than that price in 47 states. The most common price nationwide is $1.899 per gallon. The national average price of gas is about 41 cents less than it was one year ago today.


    Industry experts say gas prices have dropped because worldwide oil and gasoline supplies are currently more than adequate to meet global needs. In addition, gas prices typically fall at this time of the year in response to a reduction in overall demand.


    Gas prices already are much cheaper than $2 per gallon in most parts of the country. The lowest one percent of U.S. stations are selling gas for an average of $1.59 per gallon, and more than 13,000 stations are selling gas for less than $1.75 per gallon. The states with the cheapest averages include: Missouri ($1.77), Oklahoma ($1.78), South Carolina ($1.78), Tennessee ($1.79) and Kansas ($1.79). Kansas City, Missouri has the cheapest metro average in the country at $1.68 per gallon. Average state and metro prices can be found on AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report website.


    Indiana’s current statewide average is $1.826.


    The Last Time Below $2 Average gas prices last fell below $2 per gallon for a brief span between November 2008 and March 2009 during the height of the Great Recession, as weak global demand and a significant decline in driving helped push prices downwards. Prior to that four-month period, average gas prices were last below $2 per gallon in early March 2005, meaning it has been more than a decade since gas prices were below $2 per gallon when the economy was not in recession.


    The national average price of gas has remained more expensive than $2 per gallon for 2,462 consecutive days. During this 81-month span, gas prices averaged $3.11 per gallon and reached as high as $3.98 on May 5, 2011. The highest national average ever was $4.11 per gallon on July 17, 2008.


    Looking Ahead to 2016 Based on normal seasonal trends, gas prices likely will remain low through January, and could drop even further if the cost of crude oil remains weak. By late winter, gas prices may begin to rise as refineries conduct maintenance in advance of the busy summer driving season. The maintenance reduces fuel production and typically leads to higher gas prices. Despite the expected seasonal increase, the national average price of gas may not rise above $3 per gallon in 2016 because oil should remain abundant and relatively inexpensive.


    The Crude Oil Factor Domestic supplies of commercial crude oil are about 29 percent higher than a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration, while oil prices are about $70 per barrel cheaper than in the summer of 2014. Oil is the primary cost associated with making gasoline, and every $10 decline in the cost of oil can reduce gas prices by nearly 25 cents per gallon.


    Americans Driving More Americans are on track this year to drive a record number of miles, largely due to lower gas prices and a stronger economy, based on early estimates by the Federal Highway Administration. Through October, which is the most recent data available, Americans have driven more than 2.63 trillion miles for the year, which is a 3.4 percent increase over the same period in 2014.


    Before buying gas, download the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Travelers can use the app to find lowest gas prices, map a route, access exclusive member discounts, make travel arrangements, request AAA roadside assistance and more. AAA also has unveiled its Apple Watch functionality, which allows users to quickly find cheap gas stations. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

    Posted by in Statewide News

  • DNR awards $135,000 for community tree programs

    December 21, 2015 No comments

    translogDNR’s Division of Forestry has awarded $135,000 in federal funds to 12 cities, towns and non-profits in Indiana for urban forestry projects.

    The projects include tree inventory and analysis for management planning, new tree plantings and education and awareness campaigns. Urban forests enhance air and water quality, making communities healthier, safer and more beautiful.

    Funds for tree inventory and analysis were awarded to: the cities of Elkhart, $20,000; Kendallville, $17,425; and West Lafayette, $18,562; and the town of Pendleton, $11,575.

    Funds for tree-planting projects that target environmental issues such as water quality, flooding, air quality and pollutants were awarded to: the cities of Bloomington, $10,000; and Fort Wayne, $10,000; the towns of Churubusco, $4,000; Dyer $9,000; Mount Ayr, $2,000; and Valparaiso, $7,688; and the Rensselaer Urban Forest Council, $5,250.

    Funds for urban forestry awareness, education, and outreach projects were awarded to the Indiana Urban Forest Council, $17,500, and the City of Bloomington $2,000.

    Funding came through the DNR Community and Urban Forestry (CUF) program from the U.S. Forest Service.

    To learn more about the projects listed above or about community and urban forestry in Indiana, or to request an urban forestry visit to your community, contact Carrie Tauscher, acting community and urban forestry coordinator, at (317) 234-4386 or ctauscher@dnr.IN.gov.

    To view all DNR news releases, please see


    Posted by in Statewide News

  • Indiana Bicentennial Birding Big Year starts Jan. 1

    December 21, 2015 No comments

    bicenntennial%20logo%20birdingaBird enthusiasts can celebrate the state’s bicentennial by trying to find and log 200 bird species in 2016 as part of the Indiana Bicentennial Birding Big Year (IBBBY). IBBBY starts Jan. 1 and continues through mid-December. Birders who find at least 100 species will received a commemorative IBBY sticker or decal provided by the Indiana Audubon Society. Birders who find at least 200 species will also be entered in a drawing for Indiana DNR Annual Entrance Permits, DNR Inns Gift Cards, complimentary Indiana Audubon memberships, Eagle Optic binoculars, tickets to the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival and more.  Because 2016 is also the 100th anniversary of Indiana State Parks and the National Park Service, 100 of the 200 species must have been found on an Indiana State Park (or reservoir) or National Park site in Indiana. State Fish & Wildlife Areas, State Forests and State Nature Preserves (not located inside a state park) do not count toward these criteria.  Participants must log their checklists and download their year list into ebird.com by Dec. 16. IBBBY is an official Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Project. Additional sponsorship comes from the Robert Cooper Audubon Society.  For more information, call the Indiana Dunes State Park Nature Center at (219) 926-1390 or visit indianaaudubon.org.

    Posted by in Statewide News

  • The New U.S. 31 Hamilton County Freeway Opens for Business

    December 21, 2015 No comments

    4540405_origIndianapolis – Governor Mike Pence today celebrated the opening of the new U.S. 31 Hamilton County freeway with Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard, Westfield Mayor Andy Cook, Congresswoman Susan Brooks and Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Brandye Hendrickson, as they joined project personnel, designers and contractors to commend five years of ambitious construction resulting in free-flowing traffic on U.S. 31 in Hamilton County.


    “Hamilton County has seen significant growth in recent years and ensuring our infrastructure keeps pace with this part of the state is essential,” said Governor Pence. “The unprecedented progress on the new U.S. 31 in Hamilton County and points north is a tribute to the vision of leaders across Indiana. Hoosiers can be confident that my administration will continue to build on these significant investments and ensure that Indiana remains the Crossroads of America.”


    Last week, northbound and southbound U.S. 31 traffic was shifted onto new bridges over 106th and 116th streets, opening the freeway to three lanes in each direction and effectively removing the final two traffic signals from U.S. 31 through Carmel.  All ramps at the I-465 and U.S. 31 interchange, including the new free-flowing ramps from I-465 to northbound U.S. 31, are anticipated to be open to traffic and in their final configurations next week.


    “The opening of the new U.S. 31 in Hamilton County is the culmination of a decades-long effort to build a safer, more efficient connection between Indianapolis and South Bend that would be a catalyst for economic development along the entire corridor,” Congresswoman Susan Brooks said. “This highway now moves at the speed of commerce. By completing U.S. 31 earlier than originally planned, Governor Pence and the leadership in Hamilton County are sending a strong message that this corridor, and all of Central Indiana is truly – open for business.”


    “U.S. 31 has always been a vital corridor for Carmel and we were happy to support the upgrade to this highway, not just for our benefit but for the benefit of the State of Indiana,” said Mayor Brainard. “We applaud INDOT for working with local communities throughout the process of improving traffic flow through Carmel and all of Hamilton County. It’s good to see the substantial completion of the highway project and we look forward to next spring when the remaining related projects will be completed.”


    About the New U.S. 31

    INDOT broke ground on the new U.S. 31 Hamilton County freeway in 2011 near the north end of the project at State Road 38.  Approximately $350 million has been invested to upgrade 13 miles of highway, build 49 new bridges and 12 new interchanges through Carmel and Westfield.


    “Upgrading U.S. 31 to freeway standards has helped open the door for Westfield to compete for national economic development projects,” Mayor Cook said. “The US 31 freeway has brought Westfield about 15 minutes closer to Indianapolis and the Indianapolis International Airport.  Combine that with development projects like Grand Park, and now our family-focused community is being recognized as one of the best places to raise a family.”


    Combined with the previously completed U.S. 31 Major Moves projects near Kokomo and South Bend, more than 32 traffic signals have been removed from U.S. 31 north of Indianapolis – saving drivers 30 minutes of travel time. This eases congestion, increases safety, and provides continuity of commerce and regional travel for a U.S. highway that stretches from Michigan to Alabama.


    Final work continues in 2016

    Construction along the corridor is expected to continue in 2016 as crews complete the U.S. 31/Meridian Street transition underneath I-465 and the roundabouts on 106th and 116th streets under U.S. 31.  The speed limit between I-465 and Old Meridian Street will remain 45 mph through the work zone.  The speed limit north of Old Meridian Street will be raised to 55 mph.

    Posted by in Statewide News

  • The Branches Church to Host Two Christmas Eve Services

    December 21, 2015 No comments

    xmas branches logoPlainfield, IN, December 24 — On Thursday, December 24th, The Branches will host two family-friendly Christmas Eve services at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. You can eat Christmas cookies, drink hot chocolate, and participate in a candle-light Christmas Eve Service with Christmas carols. All kids will be invited to participate in a children’s live nativity during the service.


    The Branches Church meets at the Plainfield Rec & Aquatic Center every Sunday from 10 – 11 a.m. You can expect free coffee, donuts, friendly smiles, a modern worship service, and a message you can relate to. Twigs (infants-5th grade) meets in the Rec Center’s Play World and gym during the service. Bring your friends and make some new ones!


    The Branches Community Church – P.O. Box 875 – Plainfield, IN 46168

    Worship Services at The Plainfield Rec & Aquatic Center – 651 Vestal Rd.

    – Plainfield, IN 46168 www.IAmTheBranches.com – Facebook.com/branchescc – Twitter: @branchescc

    Posted by in Local Events


    December 18, 2015 No comments

    BHS_Amanda_DotlichBrownsburg senior Amanda Dotlich has signed a letter of intent to continue her education and play soccer at Olivet Nazarene University.  Amanda served as team captain this season, led the Bulldogs in scoring, and was also a member of the Academic All-State and HCC All-Conference team.  BHS head girls soccer coach Hayley Moore says, “Amanda Dotlich is an exceptional student, athlete, and leader.  I have watched her develop in to an outstanding player; scoring game-changing goals, having the confidence to make the important passes, and inspiring underclassmen.  I know Amanda will do great things at Olivet Nazarene University.”
    Sitting L to R: Michael Dotlich (dad), Amanda Dotlich, Robin Dotlich (mom)


    Standing L to R: Rachel Fulkerson (BHS Assistant Coach), Bill Bahr (ONU, Head Coach), Hayley Moore (BHS Head Coach), Nicole Duncan (BHS Assistant Coach), Ava Dotlich (sister)

  • Heartland Foods Increasing Production, Adding 150+ Jobs in Central Indiana

    December 18, 2015 No comments

    CL32201LOGOINDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 18, 2015) – Heartland Food Products Group, a producer and marketer of low calorie sweeteners, drink mixes, coffee and nutritional beverages, announced plans today to expand its operations here, creating up to 187 new jobs by 2020.  “Indiana is home to the highest concentration of manufacturing jobs in the country,” said Governor Mike Pence. “Every day, Hoosiers are making products – from cars and trucks to sweeteners and coffees – that are used around the world. Thanks to our state’s pro-growth economic climate and skilled workforce, companies like Heartland continue to choose Indiana for job creation because we are a state that works for business.” Heartland will invest approximately $26 million to increase production capacity at its Indianapolis facility. In August, the Carmel-headquartered company announced plans to acquire the Splenda® low calorie sweetener brand from McNeil Nutritionals LLC, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. Significant work on the expansion is expected to commence during the first quarter of 2016. The company, which also has production and distribution operations in the Netherlands, currently employs 450 associates in Indiana. Last year, Heartland announced plans to create up to 160 new jobs by the end of 2017, and is exceeding its goals as the company anticipates meeting the prior job commitment next year. This expansion, in addition to the company’s originally-planned 160 new jobs, will create jobs across Heartland’s Indianapolis manufacturing plant, distribution center and Carmel corporate office. Interested applicants can learn more at http://www.heartlandsweeteners.com/careers.html. “Acquiring the Splenda® brand business not only fits well within our strategy to offer the very best tasting products to sweeten foods and beverages without adding calories, but the acquisition also creates new jobs and career opportunities supporting  economic growth within our community,” said Ted Gelov, chairman and chief executive officer at Heartland.   Founded in 2004, Heartland produces drink mixes and low calorie sweeteners, supplying the majority of U.S. retailers with their store brand sucralose, stevia, saccharin, aspartame and monk fruit-based sweeteners. The company was one of the first liquid enhancing product producers to introduce electrolyte enhanced sport formulas and also offers consumer-preferred flavors for leading retailers.  The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered TC Heartland (dba Heartland Food Products Group) up to $1,750,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $150,000 in training grants based on the company’s job creation plans. These incentives are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. The city of Carmel supports the project and the city of Indianapolis will consider additional incentives at the request of Develop Indy, a business unit of the Indy Chamber.  “Indianapolis has earned the reputation of being an ideal place to start and grow a business,” said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.  “I am pleased to welcome Heartland Food Products Group to the extensive list of companies that are choosing to invest and expand here, and I am delighted that this investment will create 187 new jobs for our region’s talented workforce.” At 4.4 percent, Indiana’s unemployment rate has dropped to a 14-year low while the Hoosier State has added more than 54,100 private sector jobs in the past year, including 12,000 manufacturing jobs. Indiana continues to have the highest concentration of private sector manufacturing jobs in the country.  “Today’s news is certainly sweet for one of the world’s top producers of sweeteners, but it’s also good for Carmel, where Heartland Food Products Group is headquartered and has become one of our rising stars in our growing list of corporate headquarters,” said Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard. “We congratulate Heartland and look forward to watching them continue to grow in the future.” About Heartland Food Products Group Based outside of Indianapolis, Heartland Food Products Group is a global leader in the production of low calorie sweetener products, creamers, beverage concentrates, coffee and nutritional drinks. Visit Heartland at www.heartlandfpg.com About IEDC The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) leads the state of Indiana’s economic development efforts, focusing on helping companies grow in and locate to the state. Governed by a 12-member board chaired by Governor Mike Pence, the IEDC manages many initiatives, including performance-based tax credits, workforce training grants, public infrastructure assistance, and talent attraction and retention efforts. For more information about the IEDC, visit www.iedc.in.gov

    Posted by in Statewide News


    December 18, 2015 No comments

    1234Also Provides for the Common Defense and gives the U.S. More Control over World Oil Market


    Washington, D.C. – United States Representative Todd Rokita (IN-04) issued the following statement after he voted for a package of two bills that likely will end up on the President’s desk.  The bills lock in major conservative policy victories for Hoosiers.


    Permanent Tax Relief that Provides Certainty


    The package provides permanent tax relief to Indiana families and businesses.  It also freezes Obamacare’s 2.3% medical device tax for the next two years, protecting the over 20,000 Hoosiers who rely on the medical device industry for a job.  Indiana is second in the country in life sciences exports, totaling nearly $10 billion.


    It also permanently enhances and extends Section 179 deductions that will give certainty to Hoosier farmers and manufacturers to make investments in equipment and plan long-term.


    Many provisions in this bill will help Hoosiers keep more of their hard-earned dollars and grow their businesses.  This package is a huge win for the Indiana medical device and life science industries.  Taxing the industry more only yields less innovation.  When it comes to life-saving medical technology that can lower total health care costs, I want more of it,” said Rep. Rokita.


    Rep Tape Reform and Pro-Life Initiatives


    The legislation also accomplishes a number of conservative victories that will block the burdensome policies from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS):


    • Supports Hoosier farmers by prohibiting the application of the Clean Water Act in certain agricultural areas, including farm ponds and irrigation ditches, effectively blocking the harmful Waters of the U.S. regulation.
    • Repeals harmful labeling requirements on American meat, the country-of-origin labeling (COOL) requirements, ensuring our agriculture industry will not suffer more than $1 billion in trade penalties.
    • Rejects funding for new or expanded EPA programs that let top-down bureaucrats pick winners and losers, holding the agency to its lowest spending level since 2008.
    • The package severely restricts IRS’s income stream by funding the IRS at $1.7 billion lower than President Obama’s budget request.
    • Prohibits the IRS from suppressing free speech by interfering with the civic participation of 501 (c) (4) organizations.
    • The package builds on pro-life family values, by renewing the Hyde Amendment and adding new provisions that protect the unborn by prohibiting taxpayer funding for abortion.


    “Traveling through Indiana and speaking with Hoosiers, I continue to hear about the need to rein in the federal government in all industries from farming to manufacturing.  In addition to growing our economy by permanent and consistent tax policies, the legislation significantly rolls back government red tape. Hoosiers around Indiana consistently tell me about the need to block corrupt government agencies that are hurting businesses,” added Rokita.


    National Defense and Oil Market


    Finally, it strengthens national security by adequately funding our defense and tightening the requirements under our Visa Waiver Program due to the imminent threats to our homeland from radical Islamic terrorism.  It also lifts the government’s 40-year-old ban on crude oil exports which will encourage investment, spur innovation, and create jobs here at home instead of depending on countries like Russia and Iran.


    • Denies visa waiver status to any individual who has traveled to certain terrorism hotspots, including Syria and Iraq, in the last five years.
    • Upholds our Constitutional duty to protect our country by dedicating 62% of spending toward national defense.
    • Gives the United States more control of the market and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
    • Lifting the 1975 American oil ban will also reduce the trade deficit.


    “The legislation strengthens our military and repeals the outdated ban on oil exports.  It ensures we have a funded defense department at a time when there is a lot of uneasiness in the world and shifts energy dependence away from bad actors like Russia and Iran,” said Rokita.


    The entire package contains the Fiscal Year 2016 omnibus spending bill as well as the Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes (PATH) Act.


    The bill passed 316 to 113.

    Posted by in Statewide News

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