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Michigan regulators approve smaller utility rate increase

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Michigan regulators have approved a rate increase for Indiana Michigan Power, though one significantly smaller than initially sought by the utility. The Michigan Public Service Commission approved an agreement Thursday allowing the Fort Wayne-based company to boost its Michigan customers' rates by a total of $36.4 million annually. That's about 38 percent lower than the proposed $58.5 million increase. Regulators say a customer who uses 500 kilowatt hours of electricity a month will see an increase of $12.14, or about 15 percent. The utility agreed not to change base rates until at least 2023. Indiana Michigan Power says the increase allows it to make significant investments. The new rates take effect Feb. 1.


3 Indiana teens charged in fatal rollover accident

Three Anderson teens have been charged for their alleged roles in a crash last weekend that killed a 19-year-old Ball State University student. Anderson police say the three teens and Sophie Robbins were apparently driving around the community at a high rate of speed engaging in what witnesses called “typical horesplay” when a rock crashed into the windshield of Robbins' vehicle, causing it to leave the roadway and roll over several times. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Alex Lozano, Keandre Williams and Javion Wright were charged with felony counts of leaving the scene of an accident and other charges.


Homeless man who died was close to receiving housing help

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — An advocate for the homeless says a man who was found dead under a northern Indiana bridge was near the top of the list to receive permanent government-funded housing or a voucher to rent a private apartment or house. The South Bend Tribune reports that the St. Joseph County Coroner’s office has ruled that 57-year-old Darrell Bradberry died from dysrhythmia, or an abnormal heart rhythm, caused by hypothermia. Bradberry is the second homeless man to die of the cold in South Bend in less than a month. Forty-four-year-old Anthony Young died of hypothermia in December.


Law enforcement applauds cell phone ban for motorists

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Law enforcement agencies in Indiana are applauding a bill that would expand the ban on texting while driving to a ban on using the cell phones for any reason while behind the wheel. The bill authored by State Rep. Holli Sullivan of Evansville cleared the Roads and Transportation Committee this week and is expected to pass. If it does, it would make it easier for police to write tickets because they would no longer have to prove someone is texting. Using the phone for any reason, whether it's to play a game or search for a phone number,  would be illegal.


Indiana allowing wagers on who'll win Oscars next month

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana is giving gamblers a chance to put down wagers on who’ll be winners in next month’s Academy Awards. That option for those interested in betting on the Oscar winners for best picture and other film categories comes under the state’s sports wagering law that took effect in September. The Indiana Gaming Commission approved the Oscar bets as the law allows wagering on non-sporting events that meet integrity criteria. Those wagers can be placed at casino sportsbooks or through online sports betting apps licensed by the commission. New Jersey became the first state last year to accept wagers on the Oscars.


Indiana approves nature preserve with a `significant' cave

TASWELL, Ind. (AP) — Indiana's newest state nature preserve features dramatic limestone outcrops and a cave inhabited by rare animals adapted to life in total darkness. The Natural Resources Commission recently approved the creation of the Patoka Hills Nature Preserve, which spans nearly 27 acres in southern Indiana's Crawford County. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says the new preserve contains a small cave that's home to a springtail insect and a cave millipede. Both creatures lack eyes and pigmentation and are rare worldwide. Excavations in that cave have shed light on Indiana’s past climate, plants and animals during the latter part of the last ice age.


Indiana boy dies after being shot wrestling with dad

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — A 4-year-old Indiana boy who was mistakenly shot when his father's gun fell and discharged while the two were play-wrestling has died, authorities said. Tripp Shaw died from his wounds Thursday at an Indianapolis hospital, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office said. The boy's 36-year-old father had the gun concealed near the small of his back when it fell and fired a shot that struck him and his son in the head on Sunday. WISH-TV reported Friday that the father is being treated at an Indianapolis hospital and is expected to recover. His name hasn't been released.


Company planning new Indiana casino faces investigation

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana Gaming Commission is investigating the company that owns two casinos along Lake Michigan and is seeking to open a new Terre Haute casino after a political consultant pleaded guilty to federal charges of illegally funneling campaign contributions for an Indianapolis-based company. The commission said Friday the case involving executives of Spectacle Entertainment prompted it to cancel the Feb. 7 meeting that was set to consider granting it the Terre Haute casino license. Spectacle's general counsel, John Keeler, didn’t immediately return telephone and email messages from The Associated Press seeking comment. The federal charges involve more than $15,000 in illegal corporate contributions to an Indiana congressional candidate in 2015.