Local News

Ceremony Planned at Fallen Soldier's Grave

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man who paid the ultimate sacrifice while fighting for his country more than a century ago will be honored next week.

 

Twenty-two-year-old Hamon Gray was killed in 1918 during World War 1 when hit with shrapnel in France. The American Legion Post #83 in La Porte bears his name in his honor.

 

A ceremony is planned at Gray's gravesite at Pine Lake Cemetery. There will be a reading of the poem "In Flanders Field," made famous because of World War I and other ceremonial activities. 

 

"There will be a laying of flowers. There will be Memorial information given about him and what he sacrificed for his country," said Susan Levenhagen, a member of the American Legion at 228 E. Lincolnway.

 

The public is invited to the ceremony scheduled for Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

 

Levenhagen believes this will be the first ceremony at his grave by the American Legion Hamon Gray Post, something she believes is long overdue. 

 

Levenhagen said Gray is buried next to his brother.

City Dweller a Champ at Farm Life

(La Porte, IN) - His parents have never farmed, and he lives in the city, but the 4-H youth from La Porte is a county fair champion at showing animals and making homemade desserts.

 

Nathan Baima, 18, hopes to add a few more top prizes to his resume in his last year of competing at the LaPorte County Fair. The 10-year 4-H member is in his final year of eligibility in the program.

 

He gets a little emotional just thinking about the fair being his last one in 4-H.

 

"It's going to be tough. Not having to do it for next year is going to be weird," Baima said.

 

Baima has dived headfirst into 4-H, showing dairy cows and pigs from the beginning and sheep last year. He owns four pigs kept at the farm of family friends ten miles away in Mill Creek. His dairy cows and sheep belong to other farmers in Mill Creek and are 15 miles from his home near Michigan City.

 

Practically every day after school, Baima drives to each farm to feed and train the animals for show. He also does chores like cleaning out barns, building new pens, and milking, occasionally, to have access to the dairy cows and sheep.

 

In what little of his spare time is left, Baima still manages to keep up on his school work and relax at home with his dog, a beagle and basset hound mix.

 

"I somehow manage to squeeze it in between school and other activities," Baima said.

 

Baima said his love for farm animals and watching them grow help keep him going. He also enjoys the lifestyle and the company of his cousins, who allowed him to use four of their sheep for show.

 

"It adds a little variety to my life," Baima said, "it gets me out to a different farm and gets me closer to my family."

 

Last year, his Jersey cow was awarded "Best of Show" at the fair, and his display of family pictures taken at home during Christmas was Grand Champion in scrapbooking. His Dutch Apple pie and cinnamon bread have also been declared Grand Champions at recent fairs.

 

Baima said his older sisters, Brooke and Taylor, were also in 4-H, got him interested in showing farm animals, and taught him to bake and cook well enough to prepare meals, occasionally, for his family.

 

Joining 4-H wasn't a hard sell for Baima, who liked agriculture early in his childhood from visits with family friends at their farms.

 

"I've just been around farm animals like my whole entire life," Baima said.

 

He said one of the most significant benefits of his experience in 4-H is the leadership skills he had developed from doing things like helping younger members in the program with their projects, just like older 4-H members did for him when he was starting.

 

After graduating from LaPorte High School, he plans to attend a 44-week course in welding at Lincoln Tech College in Indianapolis and possibly become a union welder. Baima was first exposed to welding during a Future Farmers of America-sponsored agriculture class in high school. He's been a member of FFA during his four years in high school.

 

Baima hasn't earned any top prizes yet for showing pigs and sheep but is working the animals harder this year to try and end his time in 4-H on a high note. He has no complaints about his time in 4-H, though, regardless of the outcome.

 

"I'm aiming for it, but if I don't get it, it doesn't bother me," he said.

Friedman Publicly Challenges Accusers

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman is inviting anyone who has evidence of wrongdoing by him or any other county government official to go to the proper authorities.

 

His fiery challenge came after a realtor listing the former La Porte County Home for sale refuted claims that corruption was involved when the county sold the historic building across from the fairgrounds in 2020.

 

Realtor Larry Nickell explained how the county sold the home and what the current owner has done to prepare the structure for redevelopment by whoever buys it in a letter read during last night's La Porte County Commissioners meeting.

 

Nickell, co-owner of a real estate agency in Walkerton, said everything had been done above board, and anyone who thinks otherwise is clearly wrong.

 

Friedman has said from the beginning the sale of the home was done according to the letter of the law. However, his detractors speculate that Friedman and other officials rigged the deal and took part in other shady dealings for their own personal gain, especially in posts on social media.

 

Friedman practically begged his accusers to go to the proper authorities if they had any evidence of any wrongdoing during last night's commissioner's meeting.

 

"This is an open challenge to all big tough keyboard warriors like Jody Slabaugh. I say to them there's a grand jury meeting right now downstairs in the old Superior Court 3. You take any evidence you think you have to the grand jury where you're going to have to testify under oath under pain and penalty for perjury about what you've got," Friedman said. "Come on, Mr. Slabaugh. Talk is cheap, but when you're dealing with reputations and questioning integrity, you better have something to back it up." 

 

Friedman said Slabaugh is in the same political camp as La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz, who's being sued by Friedman for defamation of character and withholding payment on some of his work claims.

 

Friedman also gave out the phone number of Anthony McLintock, an investigator with the LaPorte County Prosecutor's Office, for people feeling they have evidence of corruption to call and arrange to testify before the grand jury. The prosecutor's office has assembled a grand jury to look into what, so far, have been unproven claims of wrongdoing from detractors of Friedman and supporters of the county attorney.

 

"Mr. Slabaugh not only accused me of defrauding taxpayers by billing for political work such as writing for Howey Politics, absolutely untrue. He accused me without a shred of proof for trying to defraud taxpayers with his buddy's run-down warehouse. Again, completely false and outrageous," Friedman said.

 

Friedman said Slabaugh also accused him of "selling out taxpayers" on the county home sale "when we followed the statute by the letter."

 

"How dare he say that taxpayers are being charged when I'm suing the auditor on my time and my own dime to collect fees that he's unlawfully withheld to my firm," Friedman said.

 

The commissioners last night ordered Stabosz to pay over $37,000 in claims he's withholding from Friedman over the past several months. Stabosz has no plans to pay the claims he believes are for political work and work similarly to the duties of a  county administrator, not a county attorney.

 

Commissioner Joe Haney, who's made similar allegations, voted against the order.

 

Friedman vehemently denied ever billing for "partisan political work" and appealed for Haney to look at the contract for services he entered into with the commissioners before further disputing his work claims.

               

According to the contract agreed by the commissioners, Friedman's duties include not just legal work, but advice to county elected officials and department heads, risk prevention and litigation avoidance, and work on economic development and health and public safety matters. His contractual duties also include crafting resolutions, ordinances, contracts, government relations, and policy work.

 

When requested or required, the contract also directs Friedman to conduct his duties "in various forums which include administrative, regulatory and legislative settings."

 

Friedman told Haney, "I got to tell you, sir. We've been county attorneys for 26 of the last 37 years, and I have never had a county commissioner or an auditor ever take exception to our billing."

 

Friedman also said Stabosz refusing to pay his claims is in "explicit violation" of the recently written opinion by the Indiana State Board of Accounts.

 

"That's your opinion of what that letter says. I don't think any of those letters ever told him not to do his due diligence as an auditor," Haney said.

 

"Look at the contract. Look at the contract that has been approved by this board. It authorizes to engage in a variety of policy work on behalf of this body. It's advocacy on behalf of the county. I can't believe that you would attempt to usurp that," Friedman said.

 

Friedman has alleged that Stabosz uses his public office to wage a vendetta against his political opponents and for political gain. Stabosz denies his decisions are driven by politics.

County Home on Track for Future Use

(La Porte County, IN) - The former La Porte County Home could become a destination pumping money into the local economy.

 

In a letter to the La Porte County Commissioners, a real estate agent listing the 1800s building for sale revealed the inside of the 22,000 square foot structure has been gutted and is ready for redevelopment by whoever buys it.

 

Larry Nickell wrote and signed the letter, co-owner of Woodlands and Waters Real Estate, Inc. out of Walkerton. Nickell said the current owner has also developed a concept of the structure across from the fairgrounds as the "La Porte County Ag and Events Center."

 

Nickell said the current owner's vision is the structure would host weddings, seminars, and other events with 22 hotel rooms along with a bridal suite and restaurant/bar.

 

"This is a very unique and ambitious concept," Nickell said.

The current owner also had blueprints drafted by an architectural/engineering firm for such use, which will sell with the building. 

 

"The plans are ready for any potential buyer to send to Indiana state authorities for commercial approval," Nickell said.

Nickell also emphasized the process the La Porte County government followed in selling the building in 2020 was totally above board. He said the current owner was the only one who attended a public auction for the structure and placed an opening bid of $50,000 since no other bidders were in attendance.

 

Nickell said he'd been contacted by several residents who alleged something underhanded was at play for the county to sell a building well under the current asking price of $895,000. He said the auction was publicly advertised, and he set the listed price because of the amount of money the current owner invested in getting the structure prepared for redevelopment.

 

"The current owner has invested a great amount of money over and above the initial auction price of the property and has certainly gone above and beyond to provide the greatest opportunity for success for the next owner," Nickell said. "LaPorte County citizens should be thrilled about the prospect that exists considering the projected demolition estimates could have exceeded one million dollars."

Nickell went on to say he hopes people who've been grumbling and making false accusations are now satisfied.

 

"I hope this explanation offers insight to those who feel there has been somehow underhanded deeds at play here, but the reality is quite the contrary," Nickell said.

La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman has been among the people accused of benefitting from what skeptics have described as a rigged sale.

 

Friedman thanked Commission President Sheila Matias for reading the letter during last night's Commissioner's meeting and voiced disgust at people posting their accusations of dirty dealings over the home's sale on social media.

 

"I think it's important for the public to understand we followed the law to the letter in the sale of the county home. The new owners have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in that place two years since buying it to justify a higher asking price," Friedman said. "Like you and other elected officials who work hard at following the law and providing good, honest county government, I have frankly had it up to here with keyword warriors."

The listing for the County Home has been active since January 2022. 

La Porte Man Killed in Michigan Crash

(Cass County, MI) - A LaPorte man was killed on Wednesday afternoon in a motor vehicle crash in Cass County in southwest Michigan. 

 

The victim was identified as 67-year-old Robert Sass. The other driver was a 28-year-old man from Warsaw.

 

According to police, both drivers were hit head-on and had to be extricated from their vehicles by firefighters. Both drivers were taken to the hospital, and Sass later died from his injuries.

 

The condition of the other driver was not known. Right now, it’s not known if alcohol or drugs were factors in the collision, which remains under investigation.

Special Patrols Uncovering Guns

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police are reporting positive results in combating an uptick in gun violence.

 

Officers conducting special patrols confiscated two handguns and drugs while making two arrests during traffic stops.

 

According to police reports, Sgt. Mike Oberle stopped a vehicle for a moving violation Sunday night in the Oak Street and Belden Avenue area. After a K9 detected the presence of drugs, five people stepped out of the vehicle. A 9 mm handgun, an extended 9 mm magazine, and a small amount of marijuana were located inside the vehicle during a search.

 

The owner of the gun was not known. No arrests were reported.

 

Early Tuesday, police said Officer Matthew Babcock observed a moving violation in the area of Wabash Street and 8th Street and conducted a traffic stop. A search of the vehicle uncovered a firearm, marijuana, and other drug paraphernalia.

 

The driver, 20-year-old Ian Williams, of Michigan City, was taken into custody and charged with Possession of a Narcotic Drug, a Level 6 Felony, in addition to Carrying a Handgun without a License and Dealing Marijuana, Class-A misdemeanors.

Repairs Promised in Mailbox Destruction

(La Porte County, IN) - An 18-year-old driver has promised to fix the mailboxes he struck with his father’s vehicle near Michigan City.

 

Dylan Mays could be charged if he doesn’t live up to his promise, according to La Porte County Police, who were called Friday evening to the 6800 block of West 450 North.

 

Police say Mays ran over four mailboxes driving a large Dodge Ram truck wheel. One of the mailboxes belonged to Robert Andersen, who jumped into his vehicle and went after the truck. Eventually, Mays stopped and apologized to Andersen.

 

Mays, who resides in the Michigan City area, explained the sun was in his eyes and, while reaching for his sunglasses, took his eyes off the road and hit the mailboxes. Police said Mays agreed to buy the supplies to fix the mailboxes ripped out of the ground.

 

The front passenger side of the truck was heavily damaged from the impact. The vehicle was also missing the front and back bumpers.

 

An officer advised Mayes that potential charges against him would be pursued if he did not honor his promise.

Another 20 Win Season for Slicers

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte High School baseball team won its 20th game of the season last evening by defeating Merrillville on the road 19-2.

 

Head Coach Scott Upp said a deep pitching staff and players who can perform in multiple positions are reasons for the team’s success.

 

Upp also credited his players for being dedicated to getting the most out of their ability by taking part in offseason workouts and going along with the advice of coaches to “play the game the right way.”

 

“It’s just good for them to know not just baseball-wise, but they need to understand if you work hard, good things eventually happen,” he said.

Upp said his players are also performing at a high level on defense by making the routine plays without the errors that can open the door to big run-scoring innings by the opposition.

 

“The day that we beat Lake Central. We beat them 3-0, which sounds like we really shut them down on the mound. But, what happened was they were smoking the baseball. They were rocking the baseball. It was just right for us, and we made the plays,” he said.

The 20-3 Slicers have a few more regular-season games to play before sectionals start next week at Plymouth.

Friedman Suing Stabosz for Non-Payment

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte County Auditor has been sued again.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Attorney Shaw Friedman is seeking over $120,000 from Tim Stabosz. The lawsuit claims Friedman is owed slightly more than $40,000 for work on claims that Stabosz is not paying.

 

According to the lawsuit filed by attorney David Ambers, Friedman, under state law, is entitled to three times the amount owed to him as compensation for legal expenses and other things such as lost time.

 

The lawsuit is filed against Stabosz personally, not LaPorte County. 

 

According to the lawsuit, Stabosz's withholding payment results from his personal feelings outside the scope of his duties as auditor against Friedman. The suit also contains a copy of the contract between Friedman and the La Porte County Commissioners for his service.

 

The contract stipulates that Friedman is to be paid $150.00 per hour not just for legal work but also for advice to elected officials and department heads, health and public safety matters, and crafting resolutions.

 

Other work allowed under the contract includes governmental relations and policy work as requested or required in various forums, including administrative and regulatory settings.

 

Last year, Friedman filed a defamation of character lawsuit against Stabosz for alleging Friedman runs county government by controlling elected officials. That lawsuit remains undecided.

 

In response to the latest lawsuit, Stabosz said he's not paying claims for things like political work and the duties of a county administrator.

 

He also said his actions have nothing to do with his personal feelings toward Friedman. Instead, Stabosz said he's reviewing the claims strictly as an auditor and withholding payment until Friedman provides more information to verify the work in question.

 

Stabosz also alleged he's being sued personally because Friedman might have to step down as county attorney until the lawsuit is decided if he sued him as an auditor. 

 

“You can’t have a lawsuit against the county with which you work for because that’s a conflict of interest.  He’d have to step down. So, he gets clever and sues me personally. We’re going to get it thrown out of court,” Stabosz said.

The lawsuit was filed in La Porte Superior Court 3.

Woman Holding Baby When Garbage Truck Demolished Home

(La Porte County, IN) - One of the people inside a garbage truck that demolished the side of a house Tuesday is from La Porte. Two other members of the crew are from southwest Michigan.

 

La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd said it appears the driver’s side front tire blew on the southbound garbage truck about noon on U.S. 35 near 400 South at Kingsbury. The truck belonged to Lakeshore Recycling and Disposal out of New Buffalo, Michigan.

 

According to police, after blowing the tire, the truck veered across the grassy median and both northbound lanes before demolishing the south side of the single-story residence.

 

Dylan Seely, 23, lived in the house with his 22-year-old wife, Simone, and their 11-month-old daughter. Seely said he was at his job in Westville when he received a phone call about the crash from his wife.

 

“She said a truck went through the house, and I got here as fast as I could,” Seely said.

Mrs. Seely told investigators she had her baby in her arms when she looked out the front window and saw the truck crash through her residence directly in front of her.

 

According to police, the driver, Jeron Higgins, 41, of Stevensville, was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle. He was transported to the hospital complaining of pain over the entire left side of his body.

 

Two other crew members, Clyde Fuller, 26, of Galien, and Chris Haverstock, 22, of La Porte, were also taken to the hospital.

 

Fuller’s face was covered in blood. He also complained of pain in his face and shoulder. Haverstock complained of pain in his left leg. One of the men was transported by helicopter to a trauma center at an outside hospital, police said.

 

Seely said his wife also wound up at the hospital, where she received stitches to one of her knees after being struck by some debris. The baby was not hurt.

 

Boyd said a dog inside the home was injured and taken to the clinic of a nearby veterinarian for treatment.

 

Seely said the damage to the house his family rented for about a year didn’t seem real. “It’s crazy,” Seely said.

 

The northbound and southbound lanes of U.S. 35 were entirely blocked to traffic for a while to allow emergency responders to go about their work safely.

 

La Porte County Hazardous Materials Coordinator Jeff Hamilton said there were no fuel or hydraulic leaks on the truck after the collision. Hamilton said he’s never worked a scene where a vehicle went entirely through a house in his 36-year career. He said it’s a wonder nobody was killed or more seriously hurt. 

 

“A lot of lucky people here today. A lot of lucky people here today,” Hamilton said.

Garbage Truck Destroys House

(Kingsbury, IN) - A garbage truck crashed completely through the side of a house in La Porte County this afternoon.  Miraculously, perhaps, a woman and her baby inside the home were not seriously injured.  The crash happened about noon on U.S. 35 near 400 South at Kingsbury.

 

La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd said it appears one of the front tires blew on the southbound garbage truck which veered across the grassy median and the northbound lanes before demolishing the south side of the single story residence.  

 

Dylan Seely, 23, lived in the house with his 22-year old wife, Simone, and their 11 month old daughter.  Seely said he was at his job in Westville when he received a phone call from his wife.  “She said a truck went through the house and I got here as fast as I could,” he said.

 

Seely said his wife and daughter were on the other side of the house from where the truck collided into the structure.  “They were far away from the truck,” he said.

 

Boyd said the driver jumped out of the garbage truck just prior to the collision.  One member of the two man waste disposal crew was taken by a medical helicopter to an outside hospital.  The other person on the truck was transported to a hospital by ambulance, he said.   Boyd said he did not know their conditions.

 

Seely said his wife was driven by ambulance to a hospital where she received stitches to one of her knees after struck by some sort of debris.  The baby was not hurt, he said.

 

Seely said the amount of damage to the house his family rented for about a year didn’t seem real.  “It’s crazy,” he said.

 

The garbage truck belonged to Lakeshore Recycling and Disposal out of New Buffalo.  The northbound and southbound lanes were blocked to traffic for a while but one of the southbound lanes later reopened.

Crash Closes U.S. 35 Outside La Porte

(La Porte County, IN) - A stretch of U.S. 35 outside La Porte is completely closed because of a traffic accident.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, all highway lanes are closed from Boyd Boulevard to U.S. 6. The INDOT social media post at 1 p.m. described the crash as “serious.”  Motorists were also advised to avoid the area.

 

We’ll provide more details about the accident once more information becomes available.

Late Start to Slicers Baseball Game Today

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte High School baseball game today will not start on time.

 

Initially, the game at Merrillville was supposed to begin at 4:30 p.m. However, the team won’t be able to leave La Porte until 4 p.m. because that’s when the next school bus is available after taking children home from school.  

 

La Porte High School Athletic Director Steve Santana said shortages of buses and drivers are a problem sometimes here and in other school districts.

 

“It’s pretty common actually over the past several years with schools having transportation issues,” Santana said.

Santana says the game against the Pirates should start sometime after 5 p.m. The Slicers are 19 and 3 on the season.

New Manufacturer Coming to La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Another manufacturer has plans to open a facility in La Porte. The city council last night approved a tax abatement for Tubekraft USA.

 

“In the City of La Porte, we have made it our priority to attract high-wage, quality job opportunities that bring value to our community. With an average wage of $25 an hour, the positions that Tubekraft is creating in our city will undoubtedly have an impact. We are grateful to them for seeing our vision here in the city and are thrilled to welcome them to La Porte,” said La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody.

Tubekraft USA will invest $2.2 million to build a new 19,500-square-foot manufacturing facility in the East Gate Industrial Park. J. Shoffner General Contractors will construct the building.

 

Officials said the company would spend an additional $1,000,000 to equip this facility. Upon completion of the building and installation of equipment, the company will hire 15 new employees making an average wage of $25.00 per hour plus benefits.

 

Tubekraft USA creates steel tubes for the automotive, engineering, ag machinery, food processing industry, and energy sectors. Their core business is to manufacture DOM tubes (Drawn Over Mandrel), hydraulic tubes, and tubular components for the automotive and aerospace industries.

 

“I am grateful to the City of La Porte for welcoming us and to become a part of the community. Also, I am really thankful to all the associations and organizations who have extended help and incentives to get this project going right from the get-go,” said Anurag Sharma, President of Tubekraft USA.

The La Porte City Council approved a real property tax abatement to assist the company's expansion into the Midwest.

 

Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, added, “The City of La Porte has continued to invest in our industrial sector. New infrastructure provides new locations for businesses to join our community. We are excited that Tubekraft has chosen to become part of the city and look forward to their continued success."

Seat Belt Crackdown Begins

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police are among the law enforcement agencies cracking down on seat belt violators.

 

According to the sheriff’s office, extra patrol officers will be ensuring drivers and passengers are buckled and children are properly secure. The seatbelt effort occurs three weeks before, during, and after the Memorial Day weekend.

 

Captain Derek Allen says the focus is not on writing tickets but on encouraging people to buckle up to save lives during expected heavy travel.

 

“Seat belts are your best form of protection in a crash and against dangerous drivers.  At the end of the day, we want everyone to reach their destination safely,” Allen said.

Experts say seat belt use has gone up to 93-percent in Indiana since the nationwide campaign started more than 20 years ago. However, authorities say 226 people who were not buckled up lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes statewide in 2020.

Rescued Drowning Victims were Brothers

(Berrien County, Michigan) - Two of the four juveniles pulled from Lake Michigan at Warren Dunes in Berrien County, Michigan, have died.

 

Police said the victims were swimming in the lake when emergency crews were called to the shoreline near Sawyer around 6 p.m. on Sunday. Bystanders helped bring two of the juveniles to shore.

 

The U.S. Coast Guard helped local first responders get the others out of the water. All four were taken to the hospital, authorities said.

 

The two juveniles who died were brothers and attended St. Joseph High School in South Bend. It's believed they were cousins of the juveniles whose conditions were not revealed. 

 

According to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and Saint Joseph High School in South Bend, High School Principal John Kennedy ensured that support and counseling were available to students and staff today. That support will continue to be available in the future. In addition, an all-school Mass was held on Monday morning, and a Divine Mercy Chaplet was held in the afternoon.

 

“We will walk through this grief together and call upon our faith to guide and strengthen us at this time. We ask for your prayers for the family, our students, faculty, and staff,” Kennedy said.

Missing Girl Who Drowned Identified

(Michigan City, IN) - A three-year-old girl pronounced dead after being pulled from a body of water in Michigan City last week has been identified.

 

Ivy Allen was found along the shoreline of Clare Lake in the area of U.S 12 and Karwick Road near Long Beach during a search for a child reported missing on May 12. Attempts were made for several hours to revive the girl by paramedics rushing the girl to the hospital and doctors at the medical facility, police said. The young girl was last seen at her home in the 400 block of Long Beach Lane, not far from the lake.

 

LaPorte County Coroner Lynn Swanson said the cause of death revealed during an autopsy was drowning. She said there were no signs of trauma on the girl’s body.

 

Michigan City Police have not shed light on the findings of the investigation. However, Swanson revealed the girl’s mother explained the last time she saw her daughter was when she was watching television after breakfast.

 

The mother said she left the room to begin cleaning up, and at some point, her daughter apparently went out the back door, according to Swanson. However, the mother explained she didn’t know her daughter had left the residence because the alarm on the door wasn’t working correctly.

 

The search began after police were called about the missing girl at about 11:30 a.m.

Gas Reaches $4.99 a Gallon

(La Porte County, IN) - Gas is nearly $5 a gallon now at many stations in LaPorte County. 

 

Bob Rudd of Michigan City had this reaction when he drove past the Family Express at Johnson Road and U.S 20 and saw the gas price at $4.99 late this morning.

 

“I just couldn’t believe it. I cannot believe it’s that much money here in Michigan City. I know it’s other places, but it’s hit us now. It’s just absolutely crazy. It’s just too much," Rudd said. 

The semi-retired Rudd is a delivery man for an auto parts store. Rudd said being on a fixed income means limiting his driving even further since gas prices started going up rapidly several months ago. 

 

According to GasBuddy.com, gas is also $4.99 at some stations in Valparaiso. Gas was still anywhere from $4.35 to $4.99 a gallon in New Buffalo and below $4.50 in South Bend.

Narcotics Found in Cancer Center Bathroom.

(Michigan City, IN) - A good-sized amount of street drugs were located in the bathroom of a La Porte County medical facility.

 

According to La Porte County Police, officers responded to the Woodland Cancer Center outside Michigan City last week. A security officer spotted a package wrapped in plastic next to a toilet, and there was an overpowering smell of marijuana in the bathroom. The package contained close to two ounces of marijuana and over eight ounces of methamphetamine.

 

According to police, more than a dozen cancer patients were in and out of the facility that day, so it was hard to determine who the drugs belonged. The drugs have since been destroyed.

People Rescued from Lake Michigan

(Berrien County, IN) - Four people were pulled from the water of Lake Michigan last evening while swimming at Warren Dunes State Park in Berrien County, Michigan.

 

According to local police, the call came in just after 6 p.m., eight minutes later. Two people were pulled from the water during a search. 

 

The conditions of the individuals all taken to the hospital are not known publicly at this time. We'll provide more information once it becomes available.

Sneaky Gambler's Luck Runs Out

(Michigan City, IN) - A delinquent dad was picked up in a La Porte County casino and charged with trying to cash in on his winnings illegally.

 

According to court documents, Billy J. Butler of Mishawaka was at Blue Chip Casino on April 20. He won at a table game, but his winnings were intercepted because he allegedly owes $48,000 in child support.

 

When he later won over $1,000 at a slot machine, casino police say he tried paying a woman to collect it for him. The unsuspecting woman was let go, but Butler was later charged with a Level 6 Felony in La Porte Superior Court 4.

 

Things only got worse for Butler. On Tuesday he was arrested at his home in Mishawaka for unlawfully having a firearm and possession of cocaine.

Road Workers Unearth Piece of History

(Lakeville, IN) - An area road construction crew went back in time recently while doing repairs to an old highway.  Some excavation work to replace pipes under old U.S. 31 north of Lakeville recently turned up pieces of the original highway dating back about two hundred years.

 

Cassandra Bajek is this area’s public relations director for the Indiana Department of Transportation. She said remnants of an old plank road were found earlier this week well beneath the modern roadway. “We’re doing a few pipe replacements, so for that they have to dig pretty deep into the ground,” she said. “About four or five feet in, they found an old wooden road, also called a corduroy road, so it’s probably the original roadway placed there.”

 

Corduroy roads were timber trackways made of logs, often from trees cut down to clear the roadway’s path. They were frequently used in low swampy areas.

 

According to Bajek, a good number of the old log planks were carefully extracted. “We were able to pull up probably a couple dozen planks that were in pretty decent condition,” she said. “They’re not particularly wide or long but basically enough for a horse-drawn carriage to go over them.”

 

Bajek said other similar artifacts have been found in the area, but these were better preserved than most. Some of the pieces are being offered to the library and the elementary school in Lakeville for display.

 

The pipe replacement project near Lakeville will be going on all summer. Who knows? Perhaps more interesting discoveries await.

Memorial for Fallen Officers

(Michigan City, IN) - Local law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty were remembered Friday in a special ceremony in Michigan City.

 

The La Porte County Peace Officer’s Memorial Service took place at the Holdcraft Performing Arts Center in the old Elston High School.

 

U.S District Attorney Clifford Johnson was the keynote speaker. This event commemorated the 15 Line of Duty Deaths in LaPorte County over the years.

 

It kicked off Police Week 2022, in which communities across the country honor those officers who made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as the family members, friends and fellow officers they left behind.

 

A similar ceremony was held in St. Joseph County Friday afternoon. A candlelight vigil was held at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Friday night.

 

Escapee Shot in Standoff With Police

(Kentland, IN) - Indiana State Police are investigating a police-involved shooting that happened in northwest Indiana on Wednesday.

 

According to a press release, officers were delivering an inmate from Illinois to Newton County, when the prisoner escaped from the transport vehicle in Kentland. Less than two hours later, officers located the fugitive, who had obtained a firearm, in an apartment building.

 

After opening fire on officers, the inmate was shot by a Jasper County Sheriff’s deputy. The escapee, 36-year-old Jayme Lopez of Gary, was flown by helicopter to a South Bend hospital for treatment.

Nursing Home Chain Downsizing

(Warsaw, IN) - A nursing home operator familiar to area families is downsizing.

 

Miller’s Merry Manor will be transferring ownership of eight of its facilities statewide. This will not affect the facilities in La Porte, New Carlisle, or Walkerton.

 

Miller’s Health Systems, Inc. says the change has to do with changes in the operating leases at those eight locations.

 

Miller’s runs about 30 senior care facilities throughout Indiana. Nearly 700 workers stand to be affected by the downsizing. However, most, if not all of them, are expected to keep their jobs under new management.

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