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ISTEP GLITCHES

New ISTEP glitches worry some Indiana schools

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A spokesman for the ISTEP exam contractor says the company is confident it has adequate system capacity despite worries among some Indiana school officials about a rerun of last year's computer troubles.

CTB/McGraw Hill spokesman Brian Belardi attributes the slowdowns this week on practice tests to increased security measures.

Zionsville schools technology officer Patti Bostwick tells The Indianapolis Star that computers froze up Monday and Tuesday on the practice tests, but no problems were reported Wednesday.

A report found about 80,000 Indiana students had ISTEP exams interrupted last spring when CTB/McGraw Hill server glitches kicked them offline.

The Indiana Department of Education says it is working to ensure the ISTEP exams can start next week as scheduled.

NRA CONVENTION-INDIANAPOLIS VIOLENCE

Gun control supporters send message to NRA

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - About two dozen gun control supporters gathered on the eve of the annual National Rifle Association convention in downtown Indianapolis to ask the gun rights organization to help stem a rising tide of homicides in the city.

Hoosiers Concerned About Gun Violence President Stephen Dunlop says it's too easy for young people to get their hands on guns. He says kids are turning to guns to settle their disputes.

Dunlop says the only answer is to keep guns off the streets.

Speaker Regina Marsh says the easy supply of guns in Indianapolis is "obscene." Marsh heads an Indianapolis east side community center.

Democratic state Sen. Jean Breaux of Indianapolis says lawmakers have preferred expanding gun rights than limiting access to firearms.

NEWARK AIRPORT-ASSAULT WEAPON

Indiana man faces gun charge at NJ airport

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Police say an Indiana man tried to board a flight for Chicago with an assault weapon at New Jersey's Newark airport.

Port Authority police spokesman Joe Pentangelo says Southwest Airlines notified officers as 23-year-old Adam Urbano tried to go through security in Terminal A on Wednesday night. He had told the airline about the gun.

Pentangelo says the Valparaiso, Ind., resident told officers he had purchased the weapon, which was in a soft case, and 70 rounds of ammunition, for recreational purposes.

Police arrested Urbano after they said he failed to produce the required legal documents.

He's held on $50,000 bail, charged with unlawful possession of an assault firearm and large-capacity ammunition magazines.

WEST LAFAYETTE-APARTMENT FIRE

1 found dead after apartment fire near Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - One person was found dead after a fire at an apartment building where many Purdue University students live near the campus.

West Lafayette Fire Chief Tim Heath says the person who died was found in an apartment after firefighters put out the blaze that rousted residents about 5 a.m. Thursday. The victim's identity wasn't immediately released.

Police Lt. Troy Harris tells the Journal & Courier some other residents were taken to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening smoke inhalation.

Harris says eight apartments were damaged in the three-story building. The flames burned through the roof and destroyed one end of the building a few blocks from the southeastern edge of Purdue's campus.

The cause of the fire is being investigated.

TAX REFUNDS-QUIZ

Some Indiana taxpayers facing ID test for refunds

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - The Indiana Department of Revenue is asking some taxpayers due refunds to take an online quiz to verify their identities as part of an effort to stop criminals filing bogus tax returns.

Agency spokesman Bob Dittmer says the agency added the security step after discovering about 1,500 attempts to try to file fraudulent tax returns in the state last year.

The state has contracted with Lexis-Nexis to check whether basic identity information provided by taxpayers owed refunds matches information on various databases.

Dittmer says those that fall into the questionable category are asked to take the test that takes less than three minutes. Dittmer says the revenue department so far this year has stopped more than 2,000 attempts by bogus filers seeking to claim $3.7 million in refunds.

EARNS-PEABODY ENERGY

Coal miner Peabody's 1Q loss more than doubles

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Coal miner Peabody Energy Corp. says its first-quarter loss more than doubled on weak prices.

The results are worse than Wall Street expected and shares are off 3.5 percent in premarket trading.

The world's biggest private-sector coal company said Thursday that its loss for common shareholders during the January-March period was $48.5 million, or 18 cents per share. That compares with a loss of $23.4 million, or 9 cents per share, a year earlier.

Excluding special charges, the St. Louis-based company's loss was 19 cents per share.

Revenue fell about 7 percent, to $1.63 billion from $1.75 billion.

On average, analysts polled by FactSet expected a profit of a penny per share on revenue of $1.69 billion.

SOUTHERN INDIANA-CONFERENCE CENTER

Southern Indiana set to build conference center

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - The University of Southern Indiana is preparing to start construction of a new campus conference center this summer.

The project for the Evansville campus is moving ahead after the State Budget Committee gave its approval on Wednesday. The university says $5 million in private donations is covering construction costs, with $750,000 in state money going toward building a parking lot and roads.

University vice president Mark Rozewski tells the Evansville Courier & Press that the center is needed because the nearly 10,000-student campus doesn't have enough meeting and event space. The 12,000-square-foot center is expected to open in late 2015.

The State Budget Committee also approved the school's plans for $1.2 million in upgrades to its Science Center and a $750,000 project at its Technology Center.

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