Local News

Senator Braun Sets Record Straight

(LaPorte, IN) - A U.S senator from Indiana says he does not support the Black Lives Matter organization. Recently, Senator Mike Braun appeared on FOX News with commentator

Tucker Carlson. Carlson portrayed Braun as a supporter of the Black Lives Matter organization.

Braun says he only supports anyone’s right to peacefully protest and have a procedure to hear complaints against police. In LaPorte yesterday, Braun like many conservatives, called the group a Marxist communist organization and once people who know him recognize he’s against. Braun from downstate Jasper was elected to Congress in 2018 after serving four years as a State Representative.

Former Governor Battling Alzheimer's Disease

(South Bend, IN) - A former Mayor of South Bend is battling Alzheimer’s disease. Joe Kernan also used to be Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Indiana. Kernan was a flight officer in the Navy and a prisoner of war. The 74-year-old Kernan was Mayor in South Bend during the ’80s and

90’s then later Lieutenant Governor. He took over as Governor when Frank O’Bannon died while in office.

LPHS Graduates Receive Diplomas at a Social Distance

(LaPorte, IN) - The LaPorte High School graduation ceremony was held last evening. Emma Henderson is an academic honors student receiving her diploma a year early. She says COVID-19 made things tougher this year in terms of more homework during e-Learning and feeling isolated from teachers and classmates.

 

Henderson plans to go on to college and study pre-med. There were more than 400 students in this year’s class. The graduation ceremony was held at Kiwanis Field under social distancing

guidelines.

Sunflower Fair Cancelled by COVID-19

(LaPorte, IN) - The 22nd annual Sunflower Fair in LaPorte has been cancelled for 2020. It was supposed to occur on the 19th of September. Organizers of the event say they weren’t confident the festival could meet all of the COVID-19 guidelines and be held safely. The event has drawn thousands of people each year. No word yet from the LaPorte Jaycees on whether the 4th of July parade rescheduled to be held during the Sunflower Fair will be canceled.

Gun Violence in Michigan City Skyrocketing

(Michigan City, IN) - Gun violence in Michigan City is, perhaps at an all-time high. That’s according to police chief Dion Campbell who reports four homicides this year and six all of last year. Already this year, he says police have taken 41 calls of shots fired and conducted 38 actual police investigations related to gunfire. Campbell says 211 guns have been confiscated, so far, this year compared to about 130 during the same period last year. Campbell pointed to a change in the make-up of the community from outsiders finding the community attractive coming here.

Local Trump Supporter Interviewed by New York Times

(LaPorte, IN) - It looks like a LaPorte man is going to make a big splash in a major newspaper.

Spencer England sat down this morning at Louie’s Restaurant and was interviewed by a reporter from the New York Times. 

 

She’s doing an article about how President Trump supporters feel about some of the decisions made by US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.  Roberts, a Republican, hasn’t always sided with the president in his rulings from the bench.

 

England says he and other Trump supporters aren’t exactly thrilled but feels those decisions illustrate how the president is reaching toward the center. Chief Justice Roberts grew up in Long Beach. England says he and the New York Times reporter also discussing things like gun control.

Galloway Meets with LGBTQ Members

(LaPorte, IN) - An elected official from LaPorte is apologizing for saying during a public meeting the lifestyle of the LGBTQ community is a sin in the eyes of God.

The remarks by city councilman Roger Galloway came during Monday night’s city council meeting.

Alex Masepohl of LaPorte during a short presentation asked for the city’s support for giving young people struggling with sexual orientation or gender identity more resources they can turn to for help.

When asked by mayor Tom Dermody if any member of the council had any questions, Galloway, 70, spoke up.

“You’re talking about gay people. Stuff like that, right? You know that’s against The Bible.  Anybody ever read The Bible,” Galloway said.

Masepohl, 29, responded “I actually have, yes.”

Galloway under fire by the mayor and his colleagues issued an apology in a statement released the next day.

“LaPorte is a welcoming community and my remarks did not reflect that.  My personal opinions and beliefs should never get in the way of my ability to represent our community as a whole,” he said.

Galloway also revealed he and LGBTQ representatives agreed to meet.

“I am grateful for their willingness to have a conversation so I can learn more and develop a better understanding,” he said.

Galloway met Tuesday night at City Hall with Masepohl, Elissa Wright and a few other members of the newly formed “Out in LaPorte” group.

Wright, 28, said Galloway apologized to them personally.

“He seemed pretty receptive about being educated,” she said.

A form to file an ethics complaint against Galloway was posted on the Out in LaPorte Facebook page.

Masepohl said she was caught off guard by Galloway’s disparaging remarks she feels illustrate a need for more education.

Masepohl also said the meeting with Galloway went very well and her group is not calling for him to resign.

“We have started the process to get all city officials trained in human rights matters as well as started taking steps to insure LGBTQ youth have more resources,” she said.

Dermody said he supports the group’s efforts and called Galloway’s remarks during a public meeting unacceptable.

“That’s not who we are as a community,” he said.            

             

Senator Talks Stimulus in LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - Indiana U.S Senator Mike Braun on Wednesday told several dozen business owners in LaPorte more COVID-19 financial relief from the federal government could be on the way.

Braun said opinions among lawmakers on what should be contained in a fourth stimulus package vary widely but his priority is need and firms overlooked by previous relief measures.

"I’m interested in those businesses that got left out,” he said.

Braun also said there is a chance for another stimulus package as long as it strictly provides help for financial struggles brought on by coronavirus, not unrelated pork democrats to a certain degree were able get included with the previous assistance.

“As long as we focus on errors and omissions and COVID related stuff we might get something done,” he said.

Braun said an example of need is Melrose Fireworks in Kingsbury, which revealed a dramatic drop in its pyrotechnic shows because of all of the events with large gatherings being cancelled to try and limit the spread of COVID-19.

The republican from downstate Jasper was invited to City Hall by Mayor Tom Dermody to hear about the struggles from local business owners and offer feedback on the additional help that might be on the way.

If there is another relief package, Braun said there’s a short window to get it done.

He said a spending package would have to be adopted between Congress reconvening later this month and when federal lawmakers adjourn for three weeks in August.

“After that there’s just not going to be much time left in the calendar to do it,” he said.

State Representative Jim Pressel of Rolling Prairie said he was encouraged by the talks Braun reported were occurring at the federal level to help businesses pinched financially by the virus.

“I’m excited to see what’s going to come out of that,” he said.

Braun also said tightening restrictions due to recent major spikes in COVID-19 cases should only happen in major population centers to avoid crippling the economy nationwide.

He said the spikes are mostly in younger people and efforts should be taken to prevent them from spreading it to the older more at risk age group.

“That might be the pattern of how we get through this until we have herd immunity and vaccinations that put this in the rear view mirror,” he said.

           

Alleged LPHS Crash Driver Named

(LaPorte, IN) - Police have identified the man who allegedly crashed into LaPorte High School.

Police say the investigation shows 20-year-old Antonio Avila was behind the wheel of a 1985 Ford F-150 that crashed through a wall of glass and brick early Monday.

 

Police say the owner of the truck is the suspect’s father, who claimed he allowed his son to take the truck to visit his girlfriend. Police say they asked the father to have his son call the police. So far, police have not revealed if the suspect made contact with law enforcement, but charges such as Institutional Criminal Mischief are being pursued.

 

Police say video surveillance shows the driver with no shirt on checking his cell phone before walking away from the scene of the crash. Damage was estimated at $50,000 to $100,000.

Proposed Tipton St. Overpass Moves Forward

(LaPorte, IN) - The city of LaPorte is moving forward with plans to build another overpass. The cost an of the overpass on Tipton St. over a busy railroad crossing is estimated at six million dollars.

The state will pay 80-percent of the cost, officials said.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody says doing nothing will mean more vehicles, including emergency responders, getting stuck behind trains based on a study of traffic in that area over the next 20-years. Dermody says the city’s cost could also go way up if an overpass is built later and the grant available now is no longer available. Dermody says construction of the Tipton St. overpass is projected to begin In 2022.

Officer Promoted to Sergeant

(LaPorte, IN) - A LaPorte County sheriff’s deputy has been promoted.  Andrew Hahn now holds the rank of sergeant. The 2001 Michigan City High School graduate began as a jail officer with the sheriff’s office in 2005. Hahn currently is a supervisor on the midnight shift and is one of the K-9 handlers. He filled the rank formerly held by Kevin Ulam who recently retired after 32 years with the sheriff’s office.

New Prairie Plans for New School Year

(LaPorte County) - New Prairie United School District now has a plan for returning to school next month.

But right now, it’s a very fluid plan.

Similar to other districts, New Prairie will be watching COVID-19 trends and deciding between different options ranging from 100% normal to 100% e-learning.

All possibilities are outlined in a flowchart under three possible scenarios. If coronavirus cases reduce or stabilize in coming weeks, classes will begin as normal, with various safety protocols in place. If coronavirus surges, students will attend classes two days per week on a rotating basis. If the virus spreads substantially, e-learning will take place until the situation improves.

Overall, the plan presents at least half a dozen possibilities, giving administrators much more flexibility to adapt to the ever-changing status of public health. New Prairie Superintendent Dr. Paul White says he will continue working closely with other school districts as the situation develops.

 

According to a survey that went out in the district, 60% of parents endorse a complete return to classes as normal, with precautions in place. 20% of responders think masks should be mandatory.

28% prefer part-time weekly attendance, and 10% want to stay with all e-learning.

11 parents who responded to the survey say they are pulling their kids out of school.

The school district will make a determination on how to proceed in late July or early August. The start of school has been pushed back one day to August 13 in order to provide extra training for teachers and staff.

Councilman Apologizes to LGBTQ Community

(LaPorte, IN) - A LaPorte city councilman is saying he’s sorry to the gay community.  During Monday’s city council meeting, a supporter of gay rights gave a presentation about helping students struggling with their sexual preference. When asked by the mayor if anyone had any questions, councilman Roger Galloway in a few brief words said being gay goes against The Bible.

Galloway later issued a statement apologizing.

 

He said LaPorte is a welcoming community and his personal opinions and beliefs should never get in the way of his ability to represent the community. He said members of the gay community have agreed to meet with him in the coming days and he’s grateful to have that conversation to develop a better understanding.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody took exception to the remarks Galloway made during the meeting.  “We are open to everybody here and those comments are not acceptable,” he said.

Caravan Helps Graduates Isolated by COVID-19

(LaPorte, IN) - The school year wasn’t quite the last hurrah many seniors had hoped for but a caravan honoring members of the LaPorte High School Class of 2020 helped ease their sense of loss.

 

Tyson Nisley said staying home to learn due to coronavirus was sort of nice, at first, but the longer it lasted the more he realized just how much he was missing. “It didn’t go down how I expected it to.  It was kind of a bummer,” he said.

 

125 vehicles occupied by graduates and their families Monday evening paraded down a one mile stretch of Lincolnway in downtown. Several police vehicles and fire trucks led the way.

Some graduates rode in convertibles waving to pockets of well-wishers along the state highway closed for the occasion.

 

Many graduates said the recognition was a morale booster for emotions still a bit scarred by the isolation from classmates, teachers as their school days wound down. Marissa Hughart said the hardest thing for her was not being able to go to prom.  “I cried quite a few times thinking I missed the last part of my senior year and sometimes it’s still hard to think about,” said Marissa Hughart.

 

Angel Russell with a disappointed look on her face said the fanfare and recognition from the caravan helped “a little but not too much.”  Olivia Zarantonello said especially difficult was losing her final season in softball with teammates she’s had since grade school. She’s chosen to remain positive by focusing on the years they were able to spend together on the playing field.

"It definitely could be worse. We’re thankful we got to play with each other for that long,” Zarantonello said.

 

Zacharey Wilhelm showing up with a cap and gown didn’t seem bothered much. Wilhelm said he was looking more toward getting his new life off the ground. “I’m an upbeat person so nothing can bring me down.  We’re good,” he said. Schools Superintendent Mark Francesconi said some members of his administration came up with the idea to give back to a graduating class impacted by the pandemic. “I don’t think anything replaces what they missed but it’s the least we can do,” he said.

 

Wood Chips Piled High at LPHS

(LaPorte, IN) - A mountain of wood chips is outside LaPorte High School. Superintendent Mark Francesconi says they’re brought in every year and taken to all of the schools to keep the landscaping looking nice.

 

He says the wood chips are dumped in the parking lot of the high school then distributed out because of the high school being centrally located. Francesconi says the landscaping work is contracted out. Truckloads from the huge wood chip pile were being taken to schools 

earlier today.

Truck Crashes Inside LaPorte High School

(LaPorte, IN) - A driver after crashing inside LaPorte High School was captured on surveillance video fleeing on foot. LaPorte Police Chief Paul Brettin would not disclose if the driver has been identified or arrested because the investigation was still ongoing.

 

“The vehicle was all the way inside,” he said. According to police, footage from a school video camera shows the collision happened at about 3 a.m. Monday.

 

Brettin said it appears the truck southbound on G St. hopped the curb along 6th street and crashed through a heavy wood fence surrounding a small playground area.

 

The vehicle next went through an outside wall of glass and brick then came to rest about 100 feet inside the structure. Police were called when school employees reporting for work discovered the damage, Brettin said.

 

“It was certainly surprising, to say the least,” said LaPorte Community School Corporation superintendent Mark Francesconi.

 

Francesconi said the crash occurred where pre-kindergarten classes used to be taught.

He said career and technical education courses and the student health clinic are being relocated to space just recently vacated by the pre-school program moving to the old Boston Middle School.

 

Francesconi said there wasn’t much furniture left in that section of the school and he won’t know the full extent of the damage until the insurance carrier looks things over.

Air Quality Advisory Today

(Indianapolis, IN) - An air quality action day is in effect for LaPorte and surrounding counties.

The advisory was issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Hot and humid temperatures are expected to increase ozone levels to where some people could have more trouble breathing.

 

Officials say, children, the elderly, and people with lung or heart conditions should reduce or avoid exertion and heavy work outdoors. Officials say people should also walk, bike or work from home if possible to reduce vehicle emissions.

LaPorte Man Fatally Shot in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - A LaPorte man was shot to death in Michigan City over the weekend.

Police say 22-year-old Antonio Jesus Rivera was found dead inside a car Saturday night. The discovery was made after officers responded to a complaint of shots fired in the 200 block of Lake Hills Road near Washington Park.

 

Police say officers were en route when a car hit by gunfire crashed into a building just east of there at U.S 12 and Liberty Trail. That’s where Rivera was found unresponsive in the driver’s seat.

Police say the shooting and chain of events leading up to it remain under investigation but it appears to have been an isolated incident. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Michigan City Police.

State Parks in Michigan Open for Camping

(Lansing, MI) - Campgrounds and other sources of recreation at state parks in Michigan open since June 22 are operating under COVID-19 restrictions.

            According to MDNR, a recreational passport is now required for entry into all state parks like Warren Woods State Park near Sawyer.

The use of the passports to gain entry into the state parks when the amenities inside the parks were closed was suspended for three months to reduce face to face interactions to limit the spread of the virus.

            Many state park amenities like bathroom buildings, hand washing stations, playgrounds, fishing piers, viewing platforms, concessions along with picnic tables and shelters are also open.

            Drinking fountains at the state parks will remain closed until further notice.

            According to MDNR, visitors must wearing face coverings while inside indoor spaces like restrooms and shower buildings, contact stations and visitor centers or when outdoors whenever social distancing cannot be maintained.

            Visitors are also asked to remain at least six feet from people not from their household in all locations, including enclosed spaces, campgrounds and day-use areas.

            MDNR is also encouraging visitors to bring their own gloves and disinfectant and whatever else they deem necessary to protect themselves while in the campgrounds and parks.

Hard surfaces such as playground equipment, handrails, and tables are also being sanitized by staff members on a regular basis.

According to MDNR, state park staff members are also cleaning restrooms and shower buildings several times a day under Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

            Overnight lodging facilities, including cabins, lodges and yurts at the state parks are also being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after each reservations holder checks out, MDNR said.

            Payment with debit and credit cards for services provided inside the state parks is also encouraged to decrease the exchange of money as another safety precaution against the virus.

Last Minute Lake Fireworks Display Stunning

(LaPorte, IN) - An estimated $20,000 in fireworks for a festival cancelled by COVID-19 found a 4th of July home above Pine Lake in LaPorte.

            The 200 or more boaters anchoring down on the water to see the show didn’t leave disappointed.

            The show in many ways was better than the annual fireworks display at the LaPorte County fairgrounds also cancelled by the virus.

            “Great show,” said Pastor Dennis Meyer of Bethany Lutheran Church in LaPorte.

Originally, the fireworks over Pine Lake were reserved for the annual Red, Wine and Brew tasting and country music concert the church hosts every year to raise money for local first responders.

            The event scheduled July 3 at Stone Lake Beach and the traditional fireworks display sponsored by the LaPorte Jaycees on July 4 at the fairgrounds were both cancelled.

            Just when it seemed there would be no fireworks this year opportunity knocked when Greg Ake offered his yard along Pine Lake near Island Drive for the church to have their fireworks taken off the shelf and professionally detonated.

            “We weren’t going to have anything then all of a sudden we were able to make it happen,” Meyer said.

            The fireworks show was not given any publicity to avoid large congregations but word of mouth spread jamming the water with patriotic boaters.

            There were also good sized crowds in spots along the shoreline.

            A full orange moon reflecting off the water along with ideal summer like temperatures and calm winds enhanced the experience.

            “It really is about perfect. Once again, some great community members came together to do something special,” said Carrie Garwood, outreach/volunteer coordinator at the church.

Country Artist Charlie Daniels Passes at Age 83

(Nashville, TN) BREAKING NEWS:  Charlie Daniels, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame best known for "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," died Monday morning after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke. He was 83.

 

Daniels' death was confirmed by his publicist, Don Murry Grubbs. He is survived by his wife, Hazel, and son Charlie Daniels, Jr.

Free Frozen Meat Today Going Fast

(LaPorte, IN) - Free meat was going like hotcakes in LaPorte today. The giveaway began at 10 a.m. at the Salvation Army.  Capt. Chris Karlin was hoping to have enough frozen meat until 3 p.m.

But, after the first hour, Karlin said all of the meat and frozen French fries would probably be gone by noon.

 

Karlin said about 150 vehicles had passed through during the first hour of the giveaway. At 11 a.m., he said there was a line of about 50 vehicles extending all the way to Monroe St.

 

He says some of the meat from the Food Bank of Northern Indiana was given away because there wasn’t enough room in his freezer to hold all of it.

Handicapped Accessible Park Opens in LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - A new handicapped-accessible playground is open in LaPorte.  A grand opening ceremony was held yesterday at LaPark. It’s across from Bethany Lutheran Church located at 102 G Street in LaPorte. There’s a soft rubber surface, handicapped-accessible playground equipment and a splash pad featuring buckets of water dumped on users. Pastor Dennis Meyer says the park open to the entire community is much better than the one there previously. 

 

The park is open to everyone from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday thru Saturday and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. About a half-million dollars in donations was raised to build the park.

Fireworks Over Pine Lake a Crowd Pleaser

(LaPorte, IN) - Fireworks over Pine Lake drew a pretty good-sized crowd on the 4th of July.

About $20,000 in fireworks were supposed to highlight the annual Red, Wine, and Brew festival that was canceled due to COVID-19.

 

So instead they were set off over Pine Lake which was jammed with boaters waiting to see them

light up the sky, along with people lined up along the shoreline. According to Carrie Garwood, with Bethany Church, the church and various sponsors put on the show since the fireworks couldn’t be used at its annual tasting event which has drawn several thousand people the past few years.

The fireworks were set off outside the lakefront property of Greg Ake, who allowed his property on the Island to be used as the launching pad.

Food Pantry Hit with Fireworks to be Relocated

(LaPorte, IN) - A 24-hour food pantry in LaPorte is going to be relocated after fireworks were again set off inside it. The six-foot ball box made of wood has been outside the Civic Auditorium

for about the past four months.

 

People can take or put food into the box around the clock. Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski says the fireworks vandals struck again at night during the 4th of July. She said most disturbing was some of the food being taken out of the box and left on the ground.

 

Fireworks were also placed inside the food pantry last week. Pierzakowski says where it’s going to be moved has not been decided. She says pictures were taken of three suspects, two were described as females. A police report was filed in hopes of catching the suspects believed to be

teenagers.

Weather Center

Facebook