Local News

Prison Guard Allegedly Accepts Bribe

(Westville, IN) - A correctional officer at the prison in Westville allegedly took money from an inmate to bring contraband into the facility.


Ashley Watson, 30, has been charged with Bribery when, according to court documents, the Merrillville woman received two mobile payments for a combined $3,000 earlier this month.  One of the payments was allegedly from the mother of an inmate.


Watson reportedly admitted to accepting money from an inmate but claimed she never brought contraband into the prison.


Authorities said she gave only a basic description of the inmate and was also advised that stealing money from inmates can be dangerous.


Her response was, allegedly, "What are they gonna do?"


She was being held in the La Porte County Jail on $15,000 bond.  Watson could face anywhere from a one to six-year sentence on the Level 5 felony count. 

Push to Restore Scenic Overlook

(La Porte, IN) - A local businessman is pushing to have a once-scenic view restored, as Dean White is now petitioning the La Porte County Commissioners to remove the trees and brush from a site located at Pine Lake Avenue and Waverly Road in La Porte.


He told the La Porte County Council last night that there used to be a stunning view of Stone Lake and its wetlands from that location, but now it’s blocked.


“Over time, this scenic vista has become obscured by overgrown trees and brush,” he said.


White said restoring the scenic view would enhance the “natural beauty of our community” and add to the local tourism economy. He also felt property values and quality of life would also be given a boost. Currently, White explained, he’s gathering signatures on a petition requesting the commissioners to restore the view after some members of the governing body seemed opposed to the strain it could mean on taxpayer resources.


He told the county council any support it could lend for having the work performed would be appreciated.

Solution to Driver Shortage Made High Priority

(La Porte, IN) - Solving problems with school bus transportation is a top priority in La Porte right now as, like many communities nationwide, the community is struggling with a bus driver shortage.


Interim Superintendent Dr. Peggy Hinckley said she wants a solution to delays and other problems created by a lack of bus drivers by the start of school in the fall. She believes part of the answer is going from two to three student pick-up and drop-off times, with schools opening and closing at different times to account for the change.


Hinckley proposed that smaller vehicles may also have to be added to run routes in rural outlining areas of the district as a time saver for the buses. She explained that action on some sort of solution is required now because the number of bus driver applicants from year to year is not going back up.


“We’re going to have to figure this out. I think it’s going to be a combination of three-tiered and some individuals' vehicles. We’ll figure it out but we have to solve this,” she said.


Hinckley said the bus driver shortage is even more challenging here because of La Porte being the second-largest school district in the state by land mass. She said solving the transportation issue will give parents peace of mind their child is not going to be late for school or even left behind at a bus stop and will help with efforts to increase enrollment.

Town Addressing Financial Records Trainwreck

(Kingsford Heights, IN) - A municipality in La Porte County is in the process of trying to clear up major confusion in its financial ledgers.


Kingsford Heights Clerk-Treasurer Jeana Blake resigned after Deputy Clerk Lynne Spevak was let go by the town council earlier this month. Rosalie Jacobs, a former longtime clerk-treasurer in the community of about 1,400 residents, came out of retirement to straighten out the bookkeeping mess as interim clerk-treasurer.


For now, town hall is closed, except on Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., to allow Jacobs to focus on getting the records back in order as quickly as possible.


“The town is sort of in a mess right now,” said Town Councilwoman Evelyn Ballinger.


Ballinger explained that the town is relying on bank statements to keep functioning, but the amount of money on hand from day to day is sort of up to guessing due to sloppy record-keeping regarding incoming and outgoing funds.


“The bank tells us one thing, but we don’t know if that’s correct because we don’t know what bills have been paid or what we actually have. So, that’s where we’re at,” she said.


The problems in the clerk-treasurer’s office have been ongoing since Jacobs's retirement about 12 years ago, per Dennis Francis, a longtime former town marshal in the community.  He also served multiple terms on the town council and was council president the previous four years. Francis said the town has encountered issues such as bills not being paid on time and payments written out to the wrong vendors because of performance issues with the clerk-treasurer’s office.


In 2016, he said, the IRS fined the town $6,000 for not submitting about $40,000 in payroll taxes from the earnings of municipal employees.


Francis explained that it also costs taxpayers much more when the state comes in every two years to audit the books if additional time is required to sort through financial records and get them back in order.


“Our last audit, they were here for about eight weeks. It cost us close to $50,000 the last audit,” he said.


Francis, who didn’t seek reelection to the town council last year, blamed the problem on a state law requiring clerk-treasurers to be elected and live in the community they serve. He said the position should be hired and filled by someone from outside the community if necessary, especially in small municipalities where someone with the necessary accounting skills can be very difficult to find. The former town marshall noted in turn that he had spoken with state lawmakers to have that law changed.


“We just blame the people that put the people put into office. It all comes down to getting somebody in the office who is qualified.  Otherwise, you destroy community. You hurt the citizens and that’s where we’re at right now,” he said.


The newly elected Blake along with Spevak, both members of the Democratic Party, had been in the office since the first of the year. Ballinger said Jacobs was hired for 30 days, which is the period of time Democratic Party precinct committee members from the town have to appoint someone to fill the remainder of Blake’s term. Right now, Francis says, there’s no guarantee whoever fills the opening will do any better than the previous clerk-treasurers.


“What happens four years from now? What happens three years from now? You put somebody who is not qualified in there, it just destroys everything,” he said.

Pedestrian Fatally Hit by Vehicle was Homeless

(La Porte County, IN) - A pedestrian killed by a hit-and-run vehicle on Monday near Westville has been identified as homeless.


Keith Eastwood, 67, was hit on U.S. 6 just west of the town limits.  His body was discovered by a motorist at about 6 a.m. between the westbound lane and a ditch, according to La Porte County Police.


“Judging by the condition and temperature of the body, he had not been dead for very long,”  said La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson.


Swanson said the investigation showed Eastwood stayed off and on with friends in Hobart.


In March, she said Eastwood went to a hospital in Elkhart to have a head injury looked at following an apparent accident of some sort.


“He kind of just traveled around wherever he could get rides,” she said.


Swanson said a sister living in Chesterton revealed he was homeless for quite some time and an alcoholic, who turned down offers of help.


“He just wanted to live his life the way he had been living it,” she said.


Swanson said a blood test was taken to determine if he had any alcohol or drugs in his system but the results won’t be known for a couple of weeks.


La Porte County Police Capt. Derek Allen said efforts were still being made to try and identify the driver.


Anyone who may have been traveling on U.S. 6 prior to 6 a.m. and has further information or residents with video surveillance systems in the area are encouraged to contact Chief of Detectives Capt. Andy Hynek at (219) 326-7700 extension 2401 or at ahynek@lcso.in.gov.

Crackdown on Teens with Guns

(Michigan City, IN) - Another juvenile allegedly caught with a gun in Michigan City has been charged as an adult.


The latest case involves a 17-year-old boy with a prior firearms-related offense in juvenile court, allegedly having a handgun converted so as to be able to fire it like a machine gun.


La Porte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan said his more aggressive stance in recent months is aimed at helping to reduce gun violence among youth in Michigan City.


“We can’t deal with everything involving youth and guns, but we can at least make a small step. This is part of that small step,” he said.


Brandon Haynes has been charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with Dangerous Possession of a Firearm and Possession of a Machine Gun, both Level 5 felonies.


According to court documents, on April 19th Haynes was a passenger in a vehicle being followed by police, due to suspicious activity in a known drug neighborhood, to a gas station at 1204 Franklin St.


Another young person in the vehicle took off running and, during a foot chase, dropped the gun he was carrying in his hand. Per authorities, the gun belonged to Haynes, who was adjudicated in juvenile court for Dangerous Possession of a Firearm in 2022.


Haynes could face anywhere from a one-year to six-year sentence on each count.     

Major Park Renovation to Begin in May

(Michigan City, IN) - Major upgrades will begin soon at a park in Michigan City as, according to park department officials, Water Tower Park will be renovated thanks to slightly more than $1 million in grants.


The project will include the installation of new inclusive play equipment, a steel slide for those with cochlear implants, a wheelchair-accessible merry-go-round, ground-level tactile play panels, a new picnic shelter, an ADA-accessible drinking fountain, a new basketball court, and an off-street parking lot with 12 parking spaces. Three of those spaces will also be ADA-accessible. 


In addition, an ADA-accessible route will be constructed connecting the parking lot to the drinking fountain, picnic shelter, and all play areas.


The project will include repairs to the fencing on the east ball diamond and removal of the fencing and backstop on the west diamond, which will serve as the new parking lot.


The Michigan City Park Department will use Community Development Block Grant funds of $775,000 and a federally funded Land and Water Conservation Fund grant of $250,000 for the improvements.


Construction will begin the first week of May and should be completed by Labor Day, officials said. For more information, contact the Parks & Recreation Department at 219-873-1506 or at www.emichigancity.com

Help from Public Sought in Fatality

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police are investigating the death of a pedestrian who was struck by a vehicle which then fled the scene.


Just after 6 a.m. earlier today, emergency responders were called to the 11000 block of West U.S. 6 near Westville by a motorist who located a man's body reportedly lying off the westbound lane near a ditch.


U.S. 6 was closed for over three hours to allow for an investigation of the scene.  The identity of the man is being withheld until family members are located and notified about the death.


Anyone who may have been traveling on U.S. 6 prior to 6 a.m. and has further information or residents with video surveillance systems in the area are encouraged to contact Chief of Detectives Capt. Andy Hynek at (219) 326-7700 extension 2401 or at ahynek@lcso.in.gov.


La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson said the victim was in his 60s.

NIPSCO Awards Environmental Grants

(Merrillville, IN) - In celebration of Earth Day, NIPSCO announced 21 nonprofit organizations that had won the 2024 Environmental Action Grant, to be used to support their environmental restoration projects and education efforts across northern Indiana.


Funding is provided by NIPSCO and the NiSource Charitable Foundation.


“We are honored to partner with these organizations and contribute to their innovative restoration and education projects across northern Indiana,” said Rick Calinski, NIPSCO Director of Public Affairs and Economic Development.

This year’s projects focus on native habitat restoration, wildlife research, youth nature programming, pollinator projects, water quality monitoring, rainscaping education, and woods worker safety training.


Many funded projects and programs include community engagement components, encouraging residents to give back and experience nature through stewardship and fellowship.

This year’s grant recipients include:
•The Nature Conservancy in Indiana, Festival de la Monarcha, East Chicago
•Saint Mary’s College, Campus Canopy Project’s Living Exhibition
•LaPorte County Park Foundation, Habitat Restoration Project
•Indiana Audubon Society, Chasing Melody, Lake and Jasper Counties
•Blue Heron Ministries, Lupine Meadow Expansion at Headacres Farm, Steuben County
•Indiana Dunes Environmental Learning Center, Nat’s Nature Club
•ACRES Land Trust, Lee Family Perfect Lake Nature Preserve Habitat Restoration, Steuben County
•The Outlet Youth Center, Youth Programming, Fulton County
•The Morning Bishop Theatre Playhouse, Summer Youth Environmental Education, Gary
•Indiana Land Protection Alliance, Safety and Woods Worker Training Course
•Sisters of the Holy Cross, Pollinator and Monarch Waystation Habitat Establishment
•Town of Chesterton, Coffee Creek Park Pond Improvements
•DeKalb County Soil and Water Conservation District, Invasive Species Education and Removal
•East Chicago Sanitary District-Stormwater Dept., Rain off McShane, Rain Barrel Project
•Monarch Joint Venture, Cedar Swamp Pollinator Project, Steuben County
•Little River Wetlands, Native Habitat Restoration, Allen County
•Noble County Public Library, Rainscaping Education
•Speaks for the Trees and More, Summer Nature Camp, Allen County
•St. Joseph River Watershed Initiative, Flow the St. Joe
•NICHES Land Trust, Sustainability Outreach
•Augsburg Lutheran Church, Pollinator Habitat, Porter.


In its ninth year, NIPSCO’s Environmental Action Grant has helped 143 environmental restoration and education projects come to fruition across northern Indiana, donating $577,700 to date. This year’s grants provide between $500 to $5,000 to each organization selected, for a total of $78,700 awarded.


In addition to its Environmental Action Grant program, NIPSCO works to establish early successional habitat on rights of way, forges partnerships with community organizations for restoration efforts, and supports the planting of thousands of trees in northern Indiana each year. As a result, NIPSCO has been recognized as a Tree Line USA utility by the Arbor Day Foundation.


To learn more about what NIPSCO is doing to support the environment, visit NIPSCO.com/Environment.

Pedestrian Killed by Apparent Hit and Run Driver

(La Porte County, IN) - A stretch of U.S. 6 is closed after a pedestrian was found deceased this morning in the Westville area.


Just after 6 a.m., emergency responders went to the 11 thousand block of W. U.S. 6.  A woman discovered a person described as a pedestrian who appeared to have been struck by a hit and run vehicle.


Soon, the male individual was reported to be deceased.


A representative from the La Porte County Coroner’s Office was called to the scene.  We’ll provide more details once they’re released by local authorities.

Death and Dignity: Featured Speaker Coming to La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - An Indianapolis woman whose personal ministry is to give proper respect to the deceased is coming to La Porte County this week.


In 2009 Linda Znachko founded He Knows Your Name, a nonprofit that provides proper burial for unclaimed remains.


Surprisingly, perhaps, it is quite a problem.


Znachko says she has buried 50 infants over the past 15 years. Most of them are miscarried or stillborn in the hospital. But in the past two years, she has buried almost 700 adults. Most of her work has been done in Marion and Hamilton Counties, but she has helped people across the country give a proper burial to a loved one.


According to Znachko, many people assume that unclaimed remains are homeless or unidentified. But in reality, she says often family members simply don’t claim them from hospitals, coroner’s offices, or funeral homes.


Znachko says cremation is up over 60% over the last five years. Often the ashen remains are neglected. “I’m not looking for someone to blame,” she explained, “but I think funeral homes need to do a better job teaching people that when they choose cremation, that is not the final and only decision. The next decision is: who’s picking up? And then the next decision is: now how are we going to lay this person to rest?”


In Znachko’s experience, the task of laying remains to rest sometimes falls through the cracks. She said, “Coroner’s offices are government-run—they don’t have budgets for this kind of thing, generally. And funeral homes are business owners. They don’t want to get sued.”


Znachko works a lot with death, but her message is pro-life. “What I’ve realized is that as we talk about being pro-life, we have to be pro-life from birth to tomb and everything in between," she says. "Whether you die young from a tragedy or old from old age, or you die alone in your apartment, or you die at a nursing home, or with your family, or whatever, there’s a beginning and there’s and end. We celebrate the one, and we celebrate the other.”


Znachko’s ministry gained momentum after an abandoned infant was found dead in an Indianapolis park in 2014. She gave the baby a name, Amelia, and a final resting place. Thanks to legislation and advocacy, Znachko said, “We have not had a deceased baby found in the state of Indiana in nine years since her finding.” Znachko works closely with Safe Haven Baby Boxes, the newest of which was just installed in La Porte. To date, 43 babies have been safely surrendered in a baby box.


Znachko will be sharing her message in La Porte County this week. She’ll be the featured speaker at the Right to Life of Northwest Indiana Spring Gala on Thursday evening at the Heston Event Center.

Three Oaks School May Become Affordable Housing

(Berrien County, MI) - A vacant elementary school in Berrien County, Michigan may be turned into affordable housing. That’s according to a report from Moody on the Market.


A bid of $385,000 has been received by the River Valley School District for Chikaming Elementary School just north of Three Oaks. The building has been empty since a consolidation last year.


The buyer is Rob Buono, Chicago bussinessman and owner of nearby Granor Farm, a certified organic farm. He says he intends to convert the property into affordable apartments.


A similar proposal to construct housing on school property is under consideration in New Buffalo.

FBI Issues "Smishing" Warning

(La Porte County, IN) - The local Sheriff’s Department is passing along a fraud warning from the FBI.


They call it “smishing” – a combination of short message service, or texting, with phishing, which usually happens over the internet.


In this particular scam, folks receive a text allegedly from a toll road collection service claiming that they owe unpaid tolls.


According to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center, over 2,000 reports of this scam have come to them since early last month. They believe the scam is moving from state to state and may be affecting Hoosiers.


If you receive one of these texts, the following is suggested:

  1. File a complaint with the IC3, www.ic3.gov, be sure to include:
    1. The phone number from where the text originated.
    2. The website listed within the text
  2. Check your account using the toll service's legitimate website.
  3. Contact the toll service's customer service phone number.
  4. Delete any smishing texts received.
  5. If you clicked any link or provided your information, take efforts to secure your personal information and financial accounts. Dispute any unfamiliar charges.

Sign-Up Open for Summer Camp

(Michigan City, IN) - Registration is now open for The Michigan City Salvation Army’s annual free summer camp opportunities.

Children, aged 6 to 17 and residing in Michigan City, are eligible to attend camp through The Salvation Army, including five different camps that will take place at the Hidden Falls Camp in Bedford, IN.


The experience will be a four- to six-day overnight visit, depending on the camp.

Teen Camp will be held June 10th-14th for campers ages 13-17; Jr. Kids Camp, for children ages 6-8, will take place June 17th-20th; Kids Camp will be held June 24th-28th for children ages 9-11; and STEAM Camp, for children ages 9-14, will take place July 8th-12th.

To register, a parent or guardian must contact The Salvation Army at (219) 874-6885 ext. 1006, available on Mondays and Wednesdays between 9 am and noon, by Monday, May 13th. Space is limited to the first 100 children to sign up.


There is no cost to attend, which includes transportation to and from camp, meals, lodging, and activities. However, a $10 deposit per child is required to hold that child’s spot, which will be refunded when the camp takes place.

Major Dale Simmons, who operates The Salvation Army of Michigan City along with his wife, Major Becky Simmons, said this camping experience is a great opportunity for all children, especially those who have not yet experienced going away to summer camp.

“Time spent at summer camp is all about having fun and meeting new people, but we also focus on leadership, teamwork, and other character-building skills so it’s a great overall experience for children, Mr. Simmons said.


The Salvation Army summer camp program in Michigan City is made possible by a grant provided by the Duneland Health Council.

More information about summer camp and other Salvation Army programs is available by calling (219) 874-6885, visiting www.SAmichigancity.org, or by following The Salvation Army of Michigan City on Facebook.

Event to Provide a Taste of La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - The Pax Center in La Porte is hosting an upcoming event dubbed "Locally Sourced: A Night of Food, Art, and Music."


The gathering aims to celebrate and support the spirit of La Porte by showcasing a combination of locally produced food, art, and music.


It is scheduled to take place on May 10th from 6-9 PM at the Civic Auditorium and will showcase local artistic and culinary talents, with some of the offerings to come from local restaurants and food vendors such as Enzo's and Mucho Mas.


Art will also be available to purchase from children and adults at Paladin, Inc., which helps people overcome physical and other challenges to live more independently. 

The upcoming event will feature live and silent auctions on a variety of products, alongside a cash bar.


Each ticket costs $40 per person and includes $20 in food purchase tickets from participating local vendors.  All proceeds from the event will go towards supporting the various initiatives of the Pax Center.

"At the Pax Center, we are dedicated to ensuring that the people of LaPorte County are well-fed and well-loved, which includes creating events for the community to know and be known by others,” explained Nate Loucks, President and CEO of The PAX Center.

Among other community resources, the Pax Center also manages weekly food pantries and community meals, in addition to overseeing the Brighton Street Green Space and Jackson Street Community Garden projects, which provide healthy and nutritious food offerings.

Humanitarian Award is Back

(Michigan City, IN) - The Michigan City Human Rights Commission is now accepting nominations for the 2024 Humanitarian of the Year.

This award was first presented by the Michigan City Human Rights Commission in 1981 to Charles Westcott. The most recent award recognized Nila Williams in 2019 and had not been presented in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this year the MCHRC has decided to reinstate it.

Nomination forms are available by visiting www.emichgiancity.com/253/Human-Rights-Commission. Paper copies of the nomination form are available at City Hall. The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, May 17th.


Nomination forms must be returned to: City Hall, Michigan City Human Rights Commission, 100 E. Michigan Blvd., Michigan City, IN 46360.

The Humanitarian of the Year Award will be presented to someone who has significantly impacted the Michigan City community through volunteerism, leadership, and philanthropy. The nominee must also be dedicated to advocating for social justice.

Firefighters Hosting Pancake Breakfast

(La Porte, IN) - A fundraising pancake breakfast has been scheduled for tomorrow in La Porte, with the fire station at 809 West 18th Street to host an all-you-can-eat breakfast featuring sausage, bacon, and eggs among other morning delicacies.


La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said there will also be drawings for various merchandise, such as a 65” TV, power washer, and a free month of NIPSCO service.


“One of the neat things about this event is it brings the community together. Just a good cause to be able to donate to on top of it,” he said.


The proceeds will go to the Arnold J. Devereaux scholarship fund, which was created shortly after its namesake, a La Porte firefighter in the early 1980s, was electrocuted while on duty and ultimately passed away.


“We’ve been able to help out a number of students looking to further their educations,” Snyder said.


The pancake breakfast on Saturday will run from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. The cost to eat is $10 a person.

Driver Headed Wrong Way Arrested for OWI

(La Porte County, IN) - Police arrested an individual suspected of drunk driving who was headed the wrong way on a four-lane state highway last night in the Rolling Prairie area.


Before 8 p.m., La Porte County Police received multiple reports of a Chevy Tahoe headed westbound in the eastbound lanes of Indiana 2, with the investigation also noting that the driver went through a yard, struck a mailbox, and fled on 350 East.


Within minutes, a sheriff’s deputy located and stopped the vehicle in the area of Scholl Road and 150 North. The driver, identified as Jose Maldonado-Collado, 50, of Rolling Prairie was often combative and quickly was handcuffed as a precaution for the safety of officers.


After being placed into the front passenger of a police vehicle, he allegedly kicked the windshield several times, banging his head against the passenger side window according to the sheriff’s office.


He refused to submit to a certified breathalyzer test, which led to his automatic arrest under state law for Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated. At the time of the incident, he allegedly had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and two unopened Fireball cinnamon whiskey bottles in his possession.

High Honors for La Porte School Board Members

(La Porte, IN) - This week, two school board members for the La Porte Community School Corporation have been recognized by the Indiana School Boards Association with the Exemplary Governance Award for calendar year 2023.


Ryan Seaburg, Board President, and Jim Arnold, Board Member, and Past President, received the distinction for demonstrating an outstanding commitment to professional learning and student success.


The Exemplary Governance Awards (EGA) are conferred annually by the Indiana School Boards Association to school boards and school board members who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to professional learning and student success.


Awards are conferred across four levels of distinction. This year’s honors include 109 Commendable Awards (Level 1), 78 Advanced Awards (Level 2), 54 Distinguished Awards (Level 3), and 29 Exemplary Awards (Level 4).


“On behalf of ISBA, I would like to commend this most exceptional group of school board members,” said ISBA Executive Director Terry Spradlin.


Honorees will formally receive their awards at ISBA’s Spring Regional Meetings during the month of April.


“These individuals are leading the way as models who strive for effective school board governance, and they should be proud of their accomplishments,” said ISBA President Rebecca Gardenour.

Commissioners Again Suing Auditor

(La Porte County, IN) - The LaPorte County Commissioners are again suing the La Porte County Auditor’s Office for ignoring their orders not to pay a legal bill.


Commissioners Connie Gramarossa and Rich Mrozinski voted on Wednesday night to file the lawsuit over a non-payment of a roughly $20,000 bill owed to Eichhorn & Eichhorn, Attorneys at Law out of Indianapolis.


Commissioner Joe Haney opposed the motion by Mrozinski to sue the Auditor’s Office.


“More money for the lawyers, less following of the rules,” Haney said.


The legal bill is for time spent on a still-undecided wrongful termination suit brought against the La Porte County government by former La Porte County Highway Department Superintendent and current La Porte County Republican Party Chairman Allen Stevens, alongside two other employees let go from their positions.


Gramarossa said the commissioners approved payment over three months ago, but La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz has not released a check to cover the bill. She said Stabosz is obligated to issue checks on any payments authorized by the commissioners and has been sued by several vendors of county government for non-payment or partial payment since becoming auditor in 2021.


“It’s very clear what you’re supposed to do. If we sign off on a bill you’re supposed to pay it,” she told him during the meeting.


Gramarossa also said the non-payment by Stabosz is just because the commissioners have not paid his legal expenses from a lawsuit filed against him in 2021 by former county attorney Shaw Friedman. The former county attorney sued him personally, claiming Stabosz withheld payments on some of the legal work he performed for the county because of his dislike for him and to score political points.


Initially, over $12,000 in legal expenses for Stabosz were paid for by taxpayers, but any future payments were stopped until that case was decided to avoid the potential of public monies going for an elected official’s personal actions.


In this matter, the LaPorte County government, along with Gramarossa and Mrozinski, are named in the wrongful termination lawsuit.


Stabosz said the two commissioners are being sued personally on some of the counts and that he’s withholding payment because it’s a conflict of interest for them to approve spending on something they are a party to. He also said he’s only following the policy established when payment of his legal expenses was suspended.  Now, he alleges, the commissioners don’t want to follow the precedent that was set.


“They approved the payment of their own bill from their own budget when they were sued personally. They should have recused themselves and sent it to the council,” he said.


Several weeks ago, Stabosz said that he offered to pay the bill if it was presented to the LaPorte County Council and approved, so as to avoid the appearance of any impropriety on behalf of the commissioners.


“I went the extra mile,” he said.


Gramarossa said only the county government is being sued in the wrongful termination case, and that the placement of her and Mrozinski’s names on the paperwork is just a formality. However, the LaPorte County government, along with Gramarossa and Mrozinski, are listed as “defendants” on the front page of the lawsuit documents filed at the U.S. District Court in South Bend.


One of the allegations in the lawsuit is that “Mrozinski and Gramarossa exceeded the scope of their authority as public officials and are, therefore, individually liable for their unlawful actions.”


A previous lawsuit by the commissioners against the auditor ended with a settlement in 2022, where Stabosz agreed to make due on about 90 percent of the close-to-$30,000 he owed Friedman.

Faster Train Travel Schedule Released

(Michigan City, IN) - Completion of the double track from Michigan City to Gary is now in full focus.


The South Shore Line has announced the implementation of a new train schedule effective Tuesday, May 14th.  Officials said the new schedule is the result of the capital improvements made to the South Shore Line infrastructure by the Double Track NWI project.


“The final completion of Double Track allows for the addition of 14 weekday trains, revised times, reduced travel times, and new, limited-stop express service,” said Michael Noland, President of South Shore Line.


“In addition to new weekday trains, portions of weekend train times have also been modified to reflect improved travel times.”


Highlights of the new service include:

• Increased origination service out of the new Miller Station and new 11th Street

(Michigan City) Station.

• Increased morning and afternoon rush hour train time options.

• New limited-stop express train service.

• High-level platform ADA access at 11th Street, Portage/Ogden Dunes, and Miller

train stations.

• Bikes on Trains has been expanded to include all trains, all year long, at existing

bike stations. With the completion of Double Track and the conclusion of long-term

busing substitution, the following stations are now also bike stations: 11th St.,

Portage/Ogden Dunes, and Miller.


The new schedule provides 53 trains to and from Chicago, with both express and local improvements. The new limited-stop express train service will offer the following travel times to Chicago:

• Michigan City – 67 min.

• Dune Park – 57 min.

• Portage/Ogden Dunes – 51 min.

• Gary (Miller) – 46 min.

 South Bend – 109 min.


“We sincerely appreciate passengers’ patience and understanding throughout the construction, temporary busing, and schedule revisions required in order to reach substantial completion of the Double Track Project,” said Nicole Barker, Director of Capital Investment and Implementation/Double Track NWI Project Manager.


To view the full schedule of train times, visit: https://mysouthshoreline.com/south-shore-line-announces-implementation-of-new-double-track-train-schedule/.


The South Shore Line is a commuter rail line operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) between Millennium Station in downtown Chicago and South Bend International Airport.

"All-Inclusive" Park at Lakefront Planned

(Michigan City, IN) - There are plans in motion for a new playground and outdoor fitness area at the lakefront in Michigan City.


$4 million in federal funds have been secured to build it at Fedder’s Alley at Washington Park, with efforts ongoing to raise another $1 million to cover the balance of the cost.


City Councilman Don Przybylinski said the facility will be for all individuals regardless of their physical abilities. “There will be playground equipment there for anyone with any abilities.  Individuals with disabilities, whether it’s visual, whether it’s hearing impaired, whether your child is restricted to a wheelchair for whatever reason,” he said.


Pyzybylinski also noted that there will also be a walking track with a soft surface constructed for people to use instead of walking in the parking lot or somewhere else on the property, along with outdoor physical fitness equipment designed to weather the elements.


The hope is to raise enough money to begin construction in the spring of next year.  Przybylinski said he believes the all-inclusive facility will have enough offerings to be a regional destination.

Teen Charged as Adult in Child Sex Case

(Michigan City, IN) - A teenager from Michigan City is being tried as an adult for sex crimes against a younger child, as 16-year-old Barry Lewis, III has been charged with Rape, Child Molestation, and two counts of Sexual Battery.


According to court documents, the alleged acts occurred against a 13-year-old girl in October, when he was home on a pass from an alternative school in Elkhart County.


La Porte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan says it’s best for an adult court to preside over the case given the allegations, because of the potential for harsher consequences compared to what a juvenile court can hand down if there’s a conviction. He also noted that the case met state requirements for him to directly file the case in adult court instead of a third party making that decision.


“In this case, the elements were there where there was an age threshold, accusations of a certain crime, and certain other things, so, in my determination, it was better that this case was appropriate for direct file in adult court than being within the juvenile system,” he said.


Lewis is being held in the La Porte County Juvenile Services Center to await the outcome of the case.

Intruder Driven Out with Gun

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte man pulled out a gun to force an intruder from his home on Monday, the alleged intruder, Francisco Camarillo, now having been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Residential Entry and Public Intoxication.


According to court documents, the victim was working on a vehicle in the driveway of his residence on Grandview Avenue when he observed the 28-year-old suspect yelling from down the street. Eventually, Camarillo approached the victim and walked inside his attached garage acting as if he was looking for something.


The victim, worried about the safety of his nearby child, drew a firearm and ordered Camarillo out of his garage. Camarillo obeyed his orders and laid down on the sidewalk as requested until police arrived, court documents showed.


Responding officers said it appeared Camarillo had taken some type of hallucinogenic, judging by his behavior at the time. 

Online School Expanding in La Porte

The La Porte Community School Corporation has expanded its online programming, with La Porte Online School being launched in collaboration with Edmentum, a leading provider of educational technology solutions,


According to school officials, La Porte Online School will offer a well-rounded and fully supported homeschooling program to students in K-12. It will also provide an online learning environment where state-certified teachers deliver personalized, curriculum-aligned education.


Key features of La Porte Online School include:

1) Personalized Learning Approaches: Utilizing Edmentum’s programming to customize educational experiences to match individual student needs and learning styles.

2) State-Certified Teachers: Educational support provided by experienced, certified teachers skilled in online instruction.

3) Regular Communication: Strong communication channels, including video conferencing, phone, and email.

4) Active Parental Involvement: The program encourages significant parental involvement in facilitating and supporting their children’s education.

5) Access to Co- and Extracurricular Activities: Most students enrolled in La Porte Online School will be eligible to participate in all co- and extracurricular activities offered by the district, ensuring they receive a holistic educational experience that extends beyond academics.


Interim Superintendent Dr. Peggy Hinckley said more online school options and a more tailor-made plan for students based on their needs will be provided for families under the expanded program. 


"This initiative is a direct response to the evolving needs of our families to have access to an educational option that combines flexibility with a comprehensive, high-quality learning experience," said Dr. Peggy Hinckley, Interim Superintendent.


"The limitations of our previous online program led to restrictions that will no longer be a barrier for families interested in pursuing an online education with the ability for continued school community engagement," she said.

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