Local News

La Porte Family's Thanksgiving Tradition Changes With the Times

(La Porte, IN)  - For 17 years, the Sales family has made their Thanksgiving dinner a public event, hosting hundreds of people at the American Legion Post 83 in La Porte.  This year, it’s not a dine-in affair, but a take-out event. Family and volunteers are eating in shifts while preparing go-boxes for everyone else.

 

Leonard Sales is one of the family organizers.  He says COVID precautions have thrown a wrinkle into their logistics. I nstead of serving up dinner buffet-style, volunteers will be delivering meals. "Luckily we had quite a few volunteers this year," he says. "Originally I hoping to just do La Porte, but we had people calling from Michigan City, from South Bend, from Wanatah, so we've got drivers from all over the place."

 

Sales says people who have come for dinner in past years, are volunteering to deliver food this year.  "Year after year, they'd come in and donate 20-30 dollars," he says, "but this year they said, 'you know what, we'll come in and deliver for an hour, then come back and get our food and go home.' So it's been a community effort."

 

Usually, Sales says, they provide up to 400 meals. Based on the response, Sales estimates 600 meals going out by Thursday afternoon.

 

He says they have been taking orders since last week. Guests are still welcome to show up at the door of the American Legion on Lincolnway between 11-2.  Sales says no one will be turned away.  Volunteers will also be taking meals to area first responders who are on duty today.

La Porte Funeral Home Helping Military Kids for the Holidays

(LaPorte, IN) - A La Porte funeral home is continuing a tradition of helping out soldiers during the holidays.

 

In the past, Cutler Funeral Home and Cremation Center has stuffed stockings to send to American service members.  Because of COVID restrictions, though, shipments to soldiers are limited this year.  But owner Dale Knouse says they’ve found a way around that. "With the relationship we have with the USO, they've made arrangements to get stockings to the children of our active military," Knouse said.  "And so they're going to do that within northern Indiana and the Chicago area.  So we're blessed that we're able to do that."

 

Knouse says many funeral homes have chosen not to participate in Stockings for Soldiers this year.  But folks in La Porte have been as generous as ever.  Knouse expects to collect around three hundred stockings this year.  The deadline for collecting them is Tuesday, December 1. You can still stop in at Cutler’s Friday or Saturday to pick up a stocking and stuff it with gifts.

Area Lawmaker Resigns

(Elkhart County, IN) - A northern Indiana lawmaker is stepping down only three weeks after being elected.  Republican Christy Stutzman, who represents the 49th House District east of Elkhart, has resigned from the Indiana Legislature.

 

In a statement, Stutzman said she needed to focus on her family’s failing business. They took over the former Amish Acres just before the pandemic hit.  Stutzman claims recent statewide COVID-19 restrictions have made business matters worse. She was critical of how Governor Eric Holcomb has handled recent COVID-related decisions.

 

Her resignation takes effect December 14, after which a replacement will be appointed.

Date Set for Turning on Lakefront Lights

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City is gearing up for its annual massive display of Christmas lights at the lakefront.

 

According to the Mayor’s office, the lights at Washington Park will be turned on December 5th.  Santa Claus will also be there when the lights and the many displays throughout the park are illuminated. 

 

Mayor Duane Parry will first light the tree in front of the library at 4:30 p.m. before the festivities move to Washington Park.

Major Rail at Kingsbury Nears Completion

(Kingsbury, IN) - Connecting Kingsbury Industrial Park to major rail service is happening quickly.

 

La Porte County Councilman Mike Mollenhauer said only about 400 hundred feet of rail was left to be laid to make that connection during a visit he paid recently to the job site.  Mollenhauer also said the project to bring CSX into the park from the connection being made with the railroad’s main trunk line is about two weeks ahead of schedule.  “They’ll probably be completed next week,” he said.  Mollenhauer said work on the switch allowing CSX trains to travel into the park and back to the main line will happen next before the work is completed.

 

In late October, a contract with JBC Rail to install 4,500 linear feet of track to make the connection and operate the switch was approved.  Officials are hoping to connect the park to the Canadian National Railroad once money needed for that work has been obtained.

 

It’s believed two major rail providers will result in major industry and hundreds, if not, thousands of jobs coming to the park.

More Deadly Gun Violence in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Another fatal shooting has occurred in Michigan City.  Micah Garrett, 26, of Michigan City was not breathing when officers arrived at a home early Wednesday in the 200 block of Fir Street, Police said.

 

Police said no arrests have been made but a person of interest in the shooting has been identified.  Further details were not provided because of the ongoing investigation.

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police at 873-1488 or in other ways like

Facebook.

Lights Especially Spiritual Right Now

(Michigan City, IN) - The lights burning year round in downtown Michigan City are helping people get in the holiday season with the official start of the Christmas shopping season just about to begin.  The lights are in the trees on both sides of Franklin Street from 11th Street to 4th Street in front of the Michigan City Public Library.  The lights are mostly white but some are in the traditional Christmas colors.

 

Bridgette Garrison, 25, of Michigan City was enjoying the view while delivering pies Tuesday night to her real estate clients for Thanksgiving.  “In the winter, they’re ten times better,” she said.

 

Another local realtor, Amy Wagner Knopf, 52, was soaking in the radiant light while on foot in the downtown with baked goods in her hands for Thanksgiving.  “It makes me happy. It makes you think of Christmas,” she said.  She also said the lights should play an even more important role in lifting people's spirits because of the challenges posed this year by coronvirus. 

 

Mayor Duane Parry said many people just drive through the downtown to enjoy the view during the holidays and year round.

COVID-19 Viewed Miracle Drug Arrives Locally

(La Porte County, IN) - Not only is a vaccine close to being here but advanced treatment for COVID 19 is now available locally.

 

Regeneron has been delivered to medical facilities in the area, said La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora.  Kora, who has a medical practice in Michigan City, said Regeneron was given early to President Trump during his COVID-19 infection and he credited the treatment for his quick recovery from the virus.

 

Kora said Regeneron provides anti-bodies that work to keep infected people from becoming sicker and out of the hospitals.  Kora said Regeneron does not work much on patients in advanced stages of COVID-19.

 

He said hospitals, at or near capacity, should see a reduction in patients from Regeneron working before symptoms become much worse.

Old Bar Forever Dry Now

(La Porte, IN) - The Mayor of La Porte continues to show he’s sort of a one man wrecking crew.  The old Lady Rose bar at 403 E. Lincolnway, and the building next to it, are coming down.

 

They’re the latest structures being demolished since Tom Dermody set a new standard when he took over as mayor nearly a year ago.  "We made a committment early on that we want some of these buildings to be demolished and the Lady Rose is in the process of being demolished as we speak," Dermody said. 

 

Just a few weeks ago, the old Tibma Bakery on Woodward St. was torn down after sitting dilapidated and empty for many years.  Officials hope new affordable housing goes up at the old bakery site.

 

Plans for the old Lady Rose bar site are not yet known.

City Divided on Proposed Marina Purchase

(New Buffalo, MI) - The city of New Buffalo could take over a private marina.  The Pleasure Isle Marina is being offered to the city for about $500,000.

 

Some city officials believe the property, featuring boat slips and one condominium, would be a real bargain but they’re concerned if the operating costs would sink what appears to be a good investment.

 

The New Buffalo City Council was divided Monday night on the proposed acquisition, feeling the cost estimates provided for operating the marina are much lower than the actual expense.  The slips would continue to remain private at least for the first several years, officials said.   Eventually, the vision is converting those slips into public use and making the docks part of the municipal marina.

 

The council voted to further discuss the idea and vote on the proposal at a special meeting tonight.  The meeting, which was set for 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, was later cancelled.

Santa Claus Again Rings in the Holidays

(La Porte, IN) - The giant Santa Claus statue is up in downtown La Porte.  The 500 pound fiberglass man in the red suit has been a holiday fixture here since 1968.

 

Jessica Granger, owner of Thode Floral at 610 Lincolnway, remembers seeing the Santa statue as a child on trips from Fish Lake, where she grew up.  “As soon as the Santa statue goes up, it’s just a lot easier to get into the Christmas spirit,” she said.  Granger said the 18 foot tall Santa could play an even more important role in lifting spirits this year because of the challenges posed by coronavirus. 

 

The Santa Claus statue is held up by eight foot long cables fastened to stakes on the courthouse lawn.

La Porte County Meat Processor Expanding Due to Grant

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indiana State Department of Agriculture is stepping up to the financial plate to help local butcher shops keep up with skyrocketing demand brought on by COVID-19.  The ISDA, on November 23, awarded $4 million to 41 meat processors through the Indiana Meat Processing Expansion & Development Grant Program.

 

Demand at local meat processing facilities statewide has increased substantially from people stocking up after running into shortages at supermarkets particularly early in the pandemic.  The shortages have eased up but local butcher shops are still receiving more business from people avoiding grocery chains out of fear of being infected in large crowds.  Recipients of the grants are required to provide an equal amount in matching dollars toward the expansion of their operations.  

 

Sims Meat Processing in Kingsbury received a $150,000 grant.  Owner Craig Sims said he’s already broken ground on a close to 3,000 square foot addition that will increase his processing, storage and retail space.  Sims said he was already seeing a gradual increase in processing the past few years from growth in the locally produced foods movement but what’s happened since the arrival of coronavirus pales in comparison.  ’It’s just taken the business and just blown it up as far as demand,” he said.  His plant is booked until 2022 for processing freezer beef.

 

Sims has just enough capacity to process meat for his retail store which has seen a 30 to 40 percent increase in sales over the past eight months.  “It would be more than that.  We just haven’t had the facility to handle a bigger increase,” he said.

 

Sims estimated he’ll process about 1,100 pigs this year compared to 780 in 2019.  He hopes to go back to a normal schedule for processing freezer meat once construction of the addition is finished in the spring.  “It’s going to take some pressure off the main processing room so they can just focus on processing the freezer beef and freezer pigs for people,” Sims said.

 

Sims doesn’t expect the higher demand to go away once the pandemic as new customers are enjoying the quality and lower prices.  He also doesn’t expect any let up in the growing popularity of locally grown foods.  Sims pointed out all of his hamburger is from beef cattle raised near Mill Creek and his pork is entirely from pigs outside Rolling Prairie.  “It’s all local.   We can tell the people they can drive by and see where their meat came from if they want to see the farm,” Sims said.                 

 

Other grant recipients from northern Indiana include J & J Quality Meats, LLC in Bourbon, Monon Meat Packing & Catering in White County and Slabaugh Meat Processing, Inc. in Nappanee.

 

“Meat processors are essential for our state, contributing more than $3.9 billion to our economy.  It is vital we keep these businesses growing and operating safely,” said ISDA Director Bruce Kettler.

First Snow Leads to Accidents

(La Porte County, IN) - The first snowfall of the season resulted in several motor vehicle slideoffs and accidents during the morning commute today.  Among the incidents this morning, a vehicle slid into a ditch along U.S. 35 and Interstate 94 around 8:30 a.m.  Prior to that, a motor vehicle reportedly slid into a yard off Joliet Road.

 

So far, authorities have not reported any serious injury accidents from the mostly slushy road conditions that resulted from about an inch of wet snow fall.  Police are urging motorists to practice their winter driving skills, like keeping plenty of distance from other vehicles and braking sooner to avoid sliding into intersections.

Teen Loses Appeal in Fatal Shooting

(Indianapolis, IN) - A Michigan City teenager has lost his appeal in a fatal shooting.  Javan Brown is serving a more than five year prison sentence for reckless homicide.  He fatally shot 18-year old Justin Garner nearly two years ago.

 

Authorities said the gun went off while Brown was reaching for it in his car.  Garner, who was sitting in the backseat of the vehicle, was struck in the head. 

 

In his appeal, Brown said the shooting was an accident.  However, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the shooting resulted from reckless acts, instead.  Brown obtaining the gun after his release from juvenile detention and reaching for the gun with his left hand, even though he is right handed, were among the factors cited by the court in its decision.

Arrests Following Pursuit and Crash

(Michigan City,IN) - A Michigan City Police car was struck by a fleeing vehicle but the suspects

were captured.  Taken into custody was the driver 21 year old Brian Young and 20 year old Omar Glover.  Police said both men are from Michigan City and had active warrants for their arrest.

 

Around Noon on Friday, police said an officer attemped to stop Young, who then fled.  A short time later, Young allegedly bailed out of his still moving vehicle in an alley on Grace Street.  His vehicle continued in motion and crashed into a police vehicle.

 

Police said Young was found inside a nearby residence.  According to police, Young was wanted for theft and escape.  Glover was wanted for leaving the scene of an accident and operating a vehicle without a license, police said.

Take Home Dinners for Thanksgiving

(La Porte, IN) - Up to 500 take home Thanksgiving dinners were given Monday night at the LaPorte Salvation Army forced to cancel its traditional dine-in meals for the holiday because of coronavirus.

 

About half of the 40 drivers showing up early waited on the shoulder of Indiana 4 before inching their way into the parking lot once the homemade food started being served at the front doors.  Drivers remained in their vehicles to accept their dinners in take-home containers.  The line remained just as long one hour later because of incoming vehicles keeping pace with those leaving. 

 

Robert Schumaker said he missed the family-like atmosphere of sharing a dining room with others from the community, but he was just as grateful.  He took home seven meals of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green bean casserole along with cake for his wife, children and parents.  “The dine-in for Thanksgiving would be nice but with COVID I understand,” Schumaker said.

 

Debra Koontz pulled away with two meals she planned sharing with a homeless friend.  “We’re going to sit in the car and have Thanksgiving dinner,” she said.

 

La Porte Salvation Army Captain Chris Karlin said he and two other volunteers in the kitchen began cooking about 5 a.m.  Karlin cooked 120 turkey roasts on an outdoor smoker and cut the meat into slices.  About a dozen other helpers scooped food out of aluminum trays into take home containers and passed them out.  “Even with COVID, we’re still working together to feed the community,” Karlin said.

 

Judy Hensell helped make the chocolate, cherry and pumpkin dump cakes.  The filling poured at the bottom of each pan was covered by the batter and baked.  Bracing for greater community response this year, Hensell said twice as much food was prepared than what was served dine-in last year.  “It’s a little bit more work but it’s worth it,” she said.

 

Talon Sanford, 9, and his grandmother came First Church of God to assist with the cause.  He especially found joy helping people who otherwise might not have a Thanksgiving meal this year.  “I like helping out,” Sanford said.

Local Hoopster Heading to Big Ten

(La Porte County, IN) - Expect to see a basketball player at La Lumiere School competing in the Big Ten conference during the 2021-22 season.  Senior Treyton Thompson signed with the University of Minnesota last week.

 

It’s sort of a homecoming for Thompson who attended high school in Alexandra, about 130 miles from the campus in Minneapolis, before transferring to La Lumiere.  “We’re extremely excited for Treyton and his family,” said Patrick Holmes, the head coach at La Lumiere School in northern LaPorte County.

 

The 6’ 11” Thompson averaged over 10 points and 6 rebounds a game as a junior for La Lumiere last season.  The Lakers were once again invited to the Geico Nationals last season but the spring tournament featuring the best eight teams in the nation was cancelled due to the pandemic.

 

Holmes said Thompson should be even more competitive and receive more playing time during the upcoming season as a result of his off-season workouts that added bulk and quickness to his game.  He said Thompson does well in every aspect of the game like long range shooting, defense, setting screens and hitting the offensive boards.  “He’s just a guy who wants to win, wants to get better.  He’s extremely coachable. He has a bright future ahead of him at Minnesota,” Holmes said.

Two More COVID-19 Deaths in La Porte County

(Indianapolis, IN) - There’s been two more deaths from coronavirus in La Porte County, according to figures released today by the Indiana State Department of Health.

 

94 people have now died from the virus in La Porte County since the pandemic started.

 

ISDH officials also reported today 104 new cases in La Porte County.

 

The number of people testing positive the past seven days is 13.1 percent.

La Lumiere Now with Two NBA Players

(La Porte County, IN) - Another former basketball player at La Lumiere School has made the NBA.  Isaiah Stewart was drafted in the first round last week by the Detroit Pistons.  The 6’ 9” Stewart was the 16th overall pick after opting for the draft following one season at the University of Washington where he averaged more than 17-points and eight rounds a game.

 

Patrick Holmes, the head basketball coach at the private school in northern LaPorte County, said he saw big time potential in Stewart who played his last two seasons in high school at La Lumiere.  Stewart transferred from Rochester, New York.

 

“We knew after his senior year here that Isaiah had a chance to be one of these guys who goes to college for a year and then puts his name in the NBA draft.  We’re not surprised at all,” he said.  Holmes said Stewart used his 250 pound frame well as a center for the Lakers and power forward for the Huskies.  He said Stewart being a fierce competitor should serve him well in the professional ranks.  “He’s got a body that’s ready to compete and play in the NBA.  His biggest strength is his work ethic, wanting to be great and not backing down from competition ever,” Holmes said.

 

Stewart was on the La Lumiere squad that finished 2nd out of eight teams in the Geico Nationals in 2019.  La Lumiere won the national tournament in 2017.  That team was led by Jaren Jackson, Jr., who’s now a member of the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA after one season at Michigan State University

Public Invited to Serve on Committee

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte is looking for people to serve on a new committee.  According to the Mayor’s office, applications are sought for the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, formerly known as the Human Rights Commission.

 

The name was changed in September when teeth was added to prohibit discrimination against people for things like sexual preference and gender identity.  Mayor Tom Dermody said La Porte is a welcoming community and people with fresh ideas are sought to serve on the committee as momentum builds toward making the city the place to live and work.

 

Applications are available on the city’s web page and must be submitted by Friday.  Appointments to the committee are scheduled to be made during the December 7th meeting of the City Council.

Fatal Crash on US 20

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - One person was killed and several others injured when multiple vehicles collided in La Porte County.  About 4:30 p.m. on Friday, emergency responders were called to US 20 and 200 East.  62 year old Brian Klingerman of Bremen died several hours later.

 

According to La Porte County Police, a vehicle stopped to turn left was hit in the rear by

61 year old Arthur McNeely of Mishawaka.  After the initial collision, McNeely veered into oncoming traffic and struck Klingerman head on.

 

McNeely and two passengers in the Klingerman vehicle were taken to a hospital.  Police said whether alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash was pending the results of a toxicology test.

Not Guilty Verdict in Murder Trial

(Michigan City, IN) -  Zachariah Vigil was found not guilty of murder by a jury Friday in La Porte Superior Court 1.  He was arrested two weeks after the death of Antonio Rivera on the Fourth of July. 

 

During an altercation in a parking lot on July 4th, Rivera ended up with the phone and keys of a female involved.  Upon meeting up with the woman and her friends nearby to return the items, Rivera allegedly brandished and fired a gun.  According to police at the time of the incident, Zachariah Vigil of Michigan City was in another car and chased Rivera, and aledgely fired a gun at Rivera’s car.  Rivera was struck, crashed into a business at U.S 12 and Liberty Trail, and passed away from his injuries.

 

The jury deliberated for over three hours on Friday before returning the not guilty verdict.

La Porte County Flirts with COVID-19 Red Status

(La Porte County, IN) - According to the numbers reported by the Indiana State Department of Health today, La Porte County continues to see a rise in the 7 day Positivity Rate, which is now at 13.4%.  It's expected that the State will maintain the current COVID score for La Porte County at Orange status (2.5 Rating) when they revise the scores on Wednesday.  A Positivity Rate of 15% or more would move La Porte County to Red status (3.0 Rating), based on the ISDH's scoring system.  Here is an analysis of the current La Porte County numbers:

 

New Positive Cases:  During the week of November 15th through November 21st, La Porte County recorded 609 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the cumulative total of recorded cases in the county to 4,367 over the course of the pandemic.  Overall, our 7-day moving average of new positive daily cases is 87 cases, down sightly from 89 average new cases daily the week prior.  

 

Positive Test Rate (Positivity Rate):  The 7 Day Positive Test rate in La Porte County rose to 13.4% with the numbers reported on Sunday, up from 9.9% at the first of November. 

 

Hospitalizations:  A new record for single day Hospital Admissions was set on November 17th, with 8 Hospitalizations in La Porte County on that day.   During the month of November, La Porte County has recorded 86 new Hospitalizations from COVID-19 through the 21st.  This compares to a total of 76 Hospitizations for the entire month of October, making November the month with the most COVID-19 Hospitalizations in La Porte County. 

 

Deaths:  November will be the deadliest month of the COVID-19 Pandemic to date.  In October, La Porte County experienced a total of 23 COVID-19 related deaths.  As of November 21st, La Porte County has already eclipsed that number with 24 reported deaths so far in November.    A total of 92 La Porte County residents are reported with COVID-19 as a cause of death.

 

HometownNewsNow.com is your #1 Source of News and Information in La Porte County.  Like us on Facebook or bookmark our website and we'll keep you up to date with the latest COVID numbers as they relate to our County.

HTNN Top 5 News Stories - Week of 11/15

(La Porte County, IN) - When news happens in La Porte County, HometownNewsNow.com is there to bring you the story.  And, with NO subscription required to read the article!  Here are links to the Top Local News stories of the week on HometownNewsNow.com during the period of November 15th through November 21st:

 

#5:  Two Multi-Car Crashes on US 20

 

#4:  LaPorte County Imposes COVID-19 Restrictions

 

#3:  Pipe Used in Grandmother Beating

 

#2:  Driver in Crash on Tight Rope

 

#1:  Grocery Store Next for New Porte Landing

 

Powered by the News Department at 96.7 The Eagle and Rock 106.5, HometownNewsNow.com is the new #1 Source of News and Information in La Porte County.  Please bookmark and LIKE us on Facebook and we'll keep you up to date with the latest News and Information in La Porte County.

Solar Farm Moving Forward Near Bass Lake

(Starke County, IN) - Plans for a solar farm near Bass Lake are moving forward.  This week the Starke County Planning Commission heard comments regarding the rezoning of over 600 acres to facilitate the installation of solar panels.

 

A handful of properties were up for rezoning.  Two large parcels adjacent to Bass Lake residences were not approved for rezoning.  Two other parcels totaling 173 acres on the west side of US 35 were approved.

 

The land is currently zoned residential and must be converted to agricultural for potential solar use.  Starke Solar, LLC has plans to install the solar farm.

Weather Center

High School Scoreboard

Sports Scores

Facebook