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Double track earns engineering approval from Feds

CHESTERTON — The Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District can begin the final engineering phase of the Double Track Northwest Indiana Project, expected to radically improve the South Shore Line.

The federal government has given NICTD approval to enter the New Starts Engineering phase of the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant Program.

“We are thrilled to announce that the Double Track Northwest Indiana project has reached this critical milestone in the FTA’s Capital Investment Grant program,” said Michael Noland, president and CEO of NICTD.

“The continued hard work of the project team and the full support of Gov. Holcomb, the Indiana General Assembly, and our Hoosier congressional delegation is reflected in reaching this critical milestone.”

Holcomb expects big things from the project.

“The Double Track project will greatly reduce travel time between Northwest Indiana and Chicago – a great advantage to the region as we build economic competitiveness and attract talent,” the governor said.

“I’m grateful for our strong partnerships at the state, local, and federal levels that have positioned this transformative project to move forward and I couldn’t be more excited to take the next steps,” he added.

Holcomb’s Next Level Agenda includes the Double Track Project, which spans more than 26 miles from Gary to Michigan City. It includes installation of a second mainline track, improvements at five stations, expansion of parking lots for over 1,300 new spaces, and nine new platforms.

Significant safety improvements will be made in Michigan City, where the rail line will be separated from the roadway and 21 at-grade crossings will be closed.

The project is expected to more than double existing South Shore ridership and reduce travel times for all riders east of Gary.

The current state budget, which Holcomb signed into law last year, doubles the state’s investment in Northwest Indiana rail by dedicating $185 million more to projects and an additional $20 million in a contingency fund.

The Double Track Project is a partnership with the FTA, Michigan City and La Porte County, South Bend and St. Joseph County, Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and the Indiana Finance Authority, which are serving as funding partners.

“The Double Track project is critical to reducing commuting time to Chicago and activating the potential for transformational development in the region,” said Bill Hanna, president and CEO of the RDA.

“Distance is measured in time, and the faster and more convenient we make it to commute from here, the greater the return on investment for the state and the taxpayers of northwest Indiana.”

“The FTA’s approval of NICTD’s South Shore Double Track project into the Engineering stage is an exciting step forward in the Capital Investment Grant process,” Sen. Todd Young, R-Indiana, said.

“I will continue to work with all stakeholders to advance this project and achieve significant economic development in Northwest Indiana.”

“The Double Track Northwest Indiana Project is a win for Indiana and a big step forward for our public transportation system in the northwestern region,” said Sen. Mike Braun, R-Indiana.

“Thanks to bipartisan work from every level of government ... this project will bring new investment, jobs, and growth to the region.”

“I thank Gov. Holcomb, Senators Young and Braun, Rep. Walorski, our state legislators, and the public officials of La Porte County, St. Joe County and Michigan City,” Visclosky said.

“I am also grateful to Bill Hanna with the RDA and everyone at NICTD for having the vision and persistence to work hard and collaborate to help our region reach this milestone for the Double Track project,” the retiring congressman said.

“The project enhances the strength and efficiency of our entire public transportation system and further allows our regional economy to support the next generation of residents and workers.”

Walorski called this an investment in the region’s economic future.

“The South Shore Double Track project will make transportation more efficient and boost economic development in South Bend and across northern Indiana, and I’m thrilled to see it move to the next phase,” the South Bend Republican said.

“In addition to the Double Track Northwest Indiana Project, NICTD, the RDA and the IFA will continue to work with state and federal authorities on advancing towards federal funding for the second major commuter rail expansion project in the region, the West Lake Corridor Project.”

The West Lake Project involves construction of a new eight-mile line from Hammond south to Dyer, with four new stations.

Combined, the Double Track Northwest Indiana and West Lake Corridor Projects are projected to attract some $2.3 billion in private investment to Northwest Indiana, and result in over 6,000 new jobs and $3 billion in economic impact by 2048.

For additional information, visit the project website at doubletrack-nwi.com.


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McClory ordained as new Bishop of Gary

GARY — With the Apostolic Nuncio Christophe Pierre – official delegate of the Pope – in attendance, Most Reverend Robert J. McClory was ordained a bishop and installed as the fifth Bishop of Gary on Tuesday.

During a special Mass at Holy Angels Cathedral, more than 800 faithful, including family and friends, community leaders, deacons, religious, priests and bishops from across the country gathered to witness the ordination and installation.

“The people have been warm and gracious,” said Bishop McClory. “There’s a sense of excitement that I have, that has certainly been present in the people of the Diocese of Gary. I’m looking forward to greeting many people over the coming days.”

The bishop viewed the day as a celebration for all of Northwest Indiana, and said he hopes the joy of the day will send a message of encouragement to the region.

“What I know of Bishop McClory’s pastoral and administrative skills and experience, clearly he will offer wisdom, insight and vision as he leads the Diocese of Gary as its fifth bishop,” said Bishop Donald Hying, the fourth bishop of Gary and current bishop of Madison, Wisconsin.

“I’m particularly pleased that he was instrumental in leading and implementing the pastoral synod of the Archdiocese of Detroit. He is uniquely poised to continue to build on Gary’s 2017 Synod.”

“He has a great pastoral heart. He cares very much about the spiritual well-being of the people he cares for,” said the Most Rev. Allen H. Vigneron, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

“He has a missionary zeal. I think he is an outstanding pastor who brings a wide range of very significant talents to the priestly ministry.”

The last priest to be ordained a bishop in the Diocese of Gary was its founding shepherd, Bishop Andrew G. Grutka, who is entombed at the cathedral.

All bishops are appointed by the Pope, and ordained by at least three bishops who celebrate the sacrament. Although deacons and priests are also set aside in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, only bishops receive the “fullness of orders.”

The ordination of a bishop is a signature event in the life of a priest and the Catholic diocese to which he is appointed. It is considered an elevation of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The bishop is “configured” or “wedded” to Christ and receives graces needed to fulfill his vow to serve as a shepherd.

“Serving as a parish priest, in the Chancery and on many other levels in the Archdiocese of Detroit, I look forward to his many experiences and knowledge that will assist in the vibrancy of the Diocese of Gary parishes and schools,” said the Rev. Jon Plavcan, pastor of St. Patrick in Chesterton.

On Monday, prior to the Ordination Mass, more than 1,000 supporters gathered with then Bishop-elect McClory for Evening Prayer, or Vespers, at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Schererville.

Through this order of prayer, the community maintains continual praise of God with prayers of intercession for the needs of the world.

“It’s a beautiful tradition,” the Bishop-elect said. “The evening prayer service provided a wonderful opportunity for others to join in the ceremony and witness the blessing of the bishop’s insignia.”

Prior to his ordination, then-Monsignor McClory, 56, served as the pastor and rector of the National Shrine of the Little Flower Basilica in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Born in Detroit, he is the youngest of four children of James and Ann McClory (both deceased). In his previous assignments, McClory served as vicar general and moderator of the curia of the Archdiocese of Detroit. He also served as the pastor of Presentation Our Lady of Victory parish in Detroit.

Until his appointment to the Diocese of Gary, McClory served on the Archdiocese of Detroit Episcopal Council, College of Consultors, Priest Assignment Board and New Evangelization Council. He also serves as the spiritual advisor to Detroit Team Eight for Teams of Our Lady, a marriage enrichment apostolate.

As a consultant with the Catholic Leadership Institute, he offered leadership training to priests, deacons, seminarians, parish and diocesan leaders.

McClory studied philosophy at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. He was then sent to the Pontifical North American College in Rome, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in sacred theology in 1998 from the Pontifical Gregorian University. He completed his license in canon law at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas in Rome in 2000.

McClory was ordained a deacon by Cardinal Edmund Szoka in Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome, on Oct. 8, 1998. He was ordained a priest by Cardinal Maida at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit, on May 22, 1999. He was given the title of Monsignor and made a chaplain to His Holiness by Pope Benedict XVI on May 20, 2005.

Prior to entering the seminary, McClory earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and communications from Oakland University, a master’s degree in public policy and administration from Columbia University and a juris doctor degree from the University of Michigan Law School.

He is a member of the Canon Law Society of America and served as a member of the Committee on Civil and Canon Law.

“I am impressed with both Bishop McClory’s administrative experience and keen pastoral sense, which together will serve him and the diocese well,” said the Rev. Ian J. Williams, pastor of Sacred Heart, St. Joseph and St. Peter in La Porte and dean of the La Porte/Starke deanery.

The Diocese of Gary was established in 1956 by Pope Pius XII. The first bishop was Most Rev. Andrew G. Grutka (1956-1984). He was succeeded by the Most Revs. Norbert Gaughan (1984-1996), Dale Melczek (1996-2014), and Hying (2014-2019).

“I was filled with great joy when I heard the news of Bishop McClory’s appointment. He is very gifted and very close to the Lord,” Melczek said. “We are greatly blessed to have his leadership. He is exactly what the Diocese of Gary needs to lead us deeper in our relationship with the Lord.”

The diocese covers 1,807 miles, including Lake, Porter, La Porte and Starke counties, with the Catholic population estimated to be 168,500.

“Coming from Detroit, he has seen the changed economic conditions and the loss of hope that comes when industries are shuttered. Involved with those issues in Michigan, I am sure that he will be able to understand the plight of so many of the people in the Diocese of Gary,” said the Rev. Michael J. Yadron, pastor of St. Thomas More in Munster and interim diocesan administrator

“When he came to the Diocese of Gary for the press conference announcing his assignment, Bishop McClory’s first request was to visit a school before going back to Detroit. He took the time to converse with the students in such a way that they felt very important. He has a deep love for our students and a sincere commitment to Catholic education. This gives me hope.”


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Traffic stop on Indiana Toll Road leads to pot seizure

KANKAKEE TWP. — A California man is facing drug charges after a traffic stop on the Indiana Toll Road led to the discovery of a large quantity of marijuana, according to police.

On Tuesday afternoon, La Porte County Sheriff’s Deputy Wade Wallace was working the Domestic Highway Enforcement program along the Indiana Toll Road, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

At about 3:22 p.m., he was eastbound behind a passenger vehicle near the 53-mile marker, about 4 miles east of the La Porte exit in Kankakee Township.

While behind the vehicle, Wallace observed several traffic violations being committed, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

He initiated a traffic stop near the 56-mile marker, and the driver was identified as Zhaoyao Luo, 31, of Sacramento, California.

Deputy Jon Samuelson and his K-9 partner Bosco arrived to assist, and as the traffic stop progressed, a large quantity of marijuana was found in the car, police said.

Luo was arrested and later charged with dealing/delivery of marijuana, a Level 5 felony. He remains in the La Porte County Jail on a $15,005 cash-only bond through La Porte County Superior Court I.

His next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday.

The DHE is a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area program designed to disrupt the flow of drugs and weapons moving domestically. Funded by federal monies and administered by Indiana HIDTA, it allows additional deputies to work criminal interdiction enforcement.