- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 26, 2019

The Munster Times. March 20, 2019

Region cities lead the way in public safety reality

Northwest Indiana can be self-deprecating at times.

We often focus on our worst qualities, including some that are products of a bygone era and no longer come close to telling the full story.

That’s why it’s so important to celebrate a recent annual report that puts nine of our Region’s cities and towns squarely on a prestigious list of Indiana’s safest communities.



The ranking, based on low violent crime and high public safety metrics, should be the talking points we use to describe our Region to outsiders - particularly those who might choose to call Northwest Indiana home in the future.

What a showing it is this year.

St. John, with a population of about 17,000, held the No. 1 spot in the 20 Safest Cities of Indiana 2019 report by SafeWise, a company that tests, reviews and compares home safety products and ranks communities based on public safety.

Dyer was third on the list of safest Hoosier cities, followed by Crown Point at fourth, Chesterton seventh, Munster at ninth, Valparaiso at 14th, Griffith at 15th, Highland at 16th and Hobart at 20th.

Those rankings are based on 2017 FBI-culled crime statistics compared with U.S. Census data.

The sheer number of Region municipalities present in the state’s safest 20 cities speaks volumes about our quality of place.

Northwest Indiana regularly suffers an image problem associated with the incidence of violent crime in parts of the urban core.

But that image frequently lacks the context of reality.

Most residents who live in the cities and towns on the Safest Cities list already know the reality.

They’re living in safe, clean communities with high-achieving schools and an exceptional quality of life.

We should be shouting the 2019 Safest Cities rankings to all who will listen.

We all should be proud these nine communities are leading the way to a different image and reality for Northwest Indiana.

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The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. March 22, 2019

Lingering doubt

The Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission has added its voice to those who believe Attorney General Curtis Hill should be held to account for his behavior at a party last spring for legislative staffers.

The Supreme Court will eventually decide whether to act on the allegations of misconduct the commission filed against Hill. As The Journal Gazette’s Niki Kelly reported Wednesday, the decision-making process could be lengthy, and the court’s response could be anything from no action to a public or private reprimand, suspension or disbarment. The court has been reluctant to intervene in the executive and legal branches of government, but its jurisdiction over attorney conduct is clear, and taking away Hill’s license would in effect remove him from office.

The commission’s disciplinary complaint itself buttresses the demand by Gov. Eric Holcomb, legislative leaders and this newspaper that Hill should step down.

The commission recaps accusations by four women that Hill touched them inappropriately during an end-of-legislative-session celebration at an Indianapolis bar, allegations that were the subject of two investigations last year that failed to put things to rest.

In October, special prosecutor Dan Sigler said he believed the accusers but concluded he didn’t have enough evidence to criminally charge Hill.

The commission’s complaint, though not a crime-charging document, characterizes Hill’s actions as misdemeanor battery - “criminal acts, each of which reflects adversely on his honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer.” The complaint also notes the attorney general “changed his story” on whether he was drunk that night and “lacks remorse for his conduct.”

The commission, which comprises seven attorneys and two other citizens appointed by the court, emphasized that as the state’s chief legal officer, Hill “holds a position of extreme public trust and his office touches on virtually all areas of state government.”

Though Hill’s office has become a whirlwind of legal activities and announcements, it’s impossible to believe the aftereffects of that night in March of last year haven’t diminished the attorney general’s effectiveness. Also facing the threat of a lawsuit by his alleged victims, Hill will be working under a cloud for the rest of his term in office, which ends in 2021.

By acknowledging reality and resigning now, Hill would serve Indiana’s best interests as well as his own.

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South Bend Tribune. March 21, 2019

Changing lives by lending a hand

Debbie Campiti knows the heartbreak of losing a child. Now, she wants to help families so they don’t have to go through what she did.

The Nick Willard Live Again Foundation is named after Campiti’s son, who died this past Christmas of a heroin overdose.

The goal of the foundation, Campiti said, is to help people get a new start, just as Willard was trying to do for the nine months he resided in Atlanta at Stepping Stones sober living.

The foundation hopes to provide a new environment for people, to get them away from the people and things in their lives that can help fuel an addiction. Whether that’s paying for an airline ticket or the first month’s rent of a new place to live, the mission is to get someone a new start in a sober living facility away from the the triggers that can push someone back to using.

Campiti initially plans to raise money for the foundation through a 5K run and possible grants.

“I couldn’t save my son’s life,” Campiti said, “but if I could save one life it’s worth it.”

St. Joseph County and other communities across Indiana have been battling opioid addictions for years, but things are improving. Following an all-time high in drug overdose deaths in Indiana in 2017, the state saw a 26 percent decrease in total deaths in 2018.

Efforts that help reduce overdose deaths, including things like the Nick Willard Live Again Foundation, can help.

Te’von Coney is hoping to have a similar impact on youth who may be headed in the wrong direction.

Coney visited the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center this week to talk with juvenile offenders about changing their lives.

The former Notre Dame linebacker told the young men and women about his own experience when he was arrested in August 2016 in Fulton County and charged with marijuana possession.

Coney was placed on probation and disciplined by the university. But he changed his attitude, got away from the negative influences in his life and played his final season for the Irish. Now, Coney hopes to have a future in the NFL.

“At the end of the day you have to take care of yourself. You have to be focused,” Coney said. “I’m not telling you it will be easy, but it will be worth it.”

Coney’s story and the connection he made with the young men and women in the juvenile center may be just what they need to turn their lives around.

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