Local News

More Payments to Attorney Frozen by Auditor

(La Porte County, IN) - Things are becoming even more heated in the already hot legal war between prominent La Porte County political figures. Higher authorities locally and downstate have been communicated with regarding the ongoing and latest developments.

 

LaPorte County Auditor Tim Stabosz is now withholding payment for the entire September billing cycle on work performed by Friedman & Associates for the La Porte County Commissioners. The total amount withheld is $10,000.

 

The commissioners have already sued Stabosz for not paying some of Friedman's claims totaling $1,100 on his August billing after the commissioners voted to approve the payment. Stabosz also withheld $165 from Friedman on Friedman & Associates' July billing statement.
 

In an October 12th letter to Commission President Rich Mrozinski, Stabosz warned he would freeze all future monthly payments to Friedman's firm for his work should the commissioners sue him and not grant legal counsel to defend him in the case. However, he said he would lift the freeze once the case was decided in the courts.

 

In response, Friedman said he contacted La Porte County Prosecutor John Lake and the Indiana State Board of Accounts to review the auditor's latest actions.

 

"There's no basis in law or regulation to do what he's doing. We'll let them sort it out at this point," said Friedman.

Stabosz explained he also questions several claims in September and Friedman remains "out of compliance" with the procedures Stabosz has established for verifying claims. Though he has not asked Friedman yet for additional information to rule on those claims, Stabosz plans to do so eventually. 

 

Stabosz said the claim he did not pay Friedman for in July was to share an article about the Delta variant of COVID-19 with the commissioners and send the information to the LaPorte County Health Department. Stabosz said he understands the county attorney's scope of duties as a vendor that is not working under a contract is broad, but sharing news information seems to be out of the realm of legal work.

 

"I'm doing what I believe is right for La Porte County and to protect the taxpayers and to hold him accountable for his billing practices," he said.

Stabosz said he contacted the Indiana Attorney General's Office and engaged in a brief conversation about the situation. 

 

Friedman said the latest action by Stabosz follows a pattern of him using his taxpayer-funded position to settle personal and political vendettas. He also said the commissioners approved the September claim, just like the claims Stabosz withheld payment on from August. 

 

Friedman chose not to shed more light publicly on the disputed claims but said he would argue the merits of those claims in court.

 

"We've been county attorneys for 25 or 26 of the last 37-years. We've never had our bills questioned by anyone in authority. I've worked with auditors from both parties. County Commissioners from both parties. Never had the State Board of Accounts question anything we've done," Friedman said. "It's only since January 1st that we've faced this. I'll stand on the quality of the work and the work we do for the citizens of this county and let it speak for itself." 

Elected in November of 2022, Stabosz began serving his first term as the County Auditor on January 1st. He was previously elected as a LaPorte City Councilperson twice. He ran an unsuccessful bid against Tom Dermody for the Republican candidate for mayor of LaPorte before running for the auditor position. 

 

After accusing Friedman of running the county government, Stabosz was sued for defamation of character in February. The case is currently in the evidence-gathering stage in preparation for a possible trial.
 

Friedman also denied claims by Stabosz that he is a puppeteer with elected officials locally on his strings.

 

"That is not the case. We work at the direction of the commissioners. It's interesting. There's been one allegation after another that cannot be supported by facts. It is exactly that reason why he is a defendant in a defamation case," he said.

After initially resisting, the La Porte County Council authorized Stabosz on Monday night to hire an attorney whose expenses will be paid entirely by the county government. Councilman Mark Yagelski said the La Porte County government is obligated under state law to pay all of his legal expenses in the case filed against him by the commissioners because his actions were related to his work.

MC Pay Hikes Hanging in Balance

(Michigan City, IN) - Pay increases for city employees in Michigan City are still awaiting final approval.

 

Approval was granted on October 19 by the Michigan City Common Council with a 6-3 vote. However, Mayor Duane Parry has until Friday to accept or deny the pay hikes under local measures giving him ten days to act following the council’s decision. If Parry rejects the pay hikes, they could still be adopted if the city council vetoes the mayor.

 

City employees would collect roughly $3,000 to $4,000 more in pay. The city council cut what the mayor proposed for himself and his department heads under a wage study. As a result, the mayor’s salary would increase by about $600 annually to $80,000.

 

He proposed a $118,000 annual salary but later told the council not to give him a raise and use those dollars on raises for other individuals. The mayor also proposed doubling the wages of each city council person to $25,000. Again, however, the city council decided not to give itself a raise.

 

Councilman Paul Pryzbylinski said the higher wages proposed by the mayor were based on the earnings of municipal employees in surrounding communities that have more property tax dollars to spend.

 

“This isn’t Merrillville. This is not Crown Point. A lot of people want to compare us to South Bend or they want to compare us to Elkhart. It’s hard to do that because you don’t have the money because you’re assessed value is lower,” Pryzbylinski said.

The police chief was also given a higher raise than the fire chief, which upset firefighters and other fire department supporters.

 

So far, no light has been shed on what the mayor’s decision is going to be.

Lack of Leaves Delays Pick-Up

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Street Department Superintendent Shong Smith is announcing a delay in starting leaf pickup due to leaves still on the trees in most areas.

 

When leaf pickup begins will be announced at a later date, officials.

 

All residents are encouraged to rake, blow, or place their leaves near the street curb along the front of their property. If residents have branches, they will be picked up with your leaf piles. People are also asked to keep branches separated from leaves.

 

"Leaves will not be picked up in alleyways," officials said. 

Once leaf pickup begins, officials said the pickup would be extended, if necessary, if the weather in the coming weeks doesn't cooperate. 

2021 Regional Trick-or-Treat Times

Trick-or-Treat is Sunday, October 31st. The following are trick-or-treat times in area towns and cities based on the HTNN readership. All times are Central Time. If you have an event that you'd like to publish, please visit the HTNN Local Events page to submit it. 

 

 

 

 

New Buffalo, MI: 3-5 PM (CT)
North Liberty: 3-5 PM (CT)
Three Oaks, MI: 3-5 PM (CT)

 

Michigan City: 4-6 PM
New Carlisle: 4-6 PM (CT)
Rolling Prairie: 4-6 PM
Trail Creek: 4-6 PM
Walkerton: 4-6 PM (CT)

 

Hamlet: 5-6:30 PM
Kingsford Heights: 5-7 PM
Wanatah: 5-7 PM
Westville: 5-7 PM

 

Knox: 5:30-7 PM

 

LaPorte: 6-8 PM

Rollover Accident Stops Morning Traffic on 20

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - An accident near the Family Express in Rolling Prairie brought Wednesday morning traffic to a standstill.

 

Around 6:45 a.m., a semi-truck collided with a silver SUV at US 20 and CR 400 East. The westbound semi veered into the opposite lane following the collision while the SUV rolled onto its top. Vehicle debris littered a nearby yard. A witness said she heard the loud crash and saw smoke billowing from one of the vehicles.

 

At least one victim was transported by ambulance to a South Bend hospital. According to Sheriff's deputies on the scene, the accident is still being investigated, so no further details were released.

 

Traffic on 20 was backed up in both directions for at least an hour.

Short Supply Inflation in Store for Trick or Treat

(La Porte, IN) - It’s going to cost more to pass out candy to children on Halloween.

 

Prices are increasing because candy makers are having difficulty getting supplies due to major back-up in the nationwide supply chain on various products. For that reason, the cost of everything from ingredients to packaging has increased.

 

Kristi Shafer, Vice-President of Marketing for American Licorice Company in La Porte, told “Inside Indiana Business” that the candy maker is doing everything possible to avoid raising the price for its candy again. However, Schafer said all candy makers are having trouble getting supplies quickly so they don’t run out of candy, especially during Halloween.

 

“You go into any store you can see the candy aisle has such gaping holes because we’re all in the same boat vying for the same materials whether it’s the sugar or the flavoring or the colorants or the big boxes it all goes into to ship,” she said.

Experts believe the national supply chain issues might not ease up for another six months to a year.

Harvesting Farmers Waterlogged

(La Crosse, IN) - Harvesting was at a possible record clip for many Indiana and Michigan farmers, but now they’re crossing their fingers to be done before Thanksgiving.

 

Farmers were back in their fields after drying out from the heavy mid-October rains. But, they were looking at standing water again following another wet period over the weekend and into Monday.

 

“I thought this would be an early harvest. This is turning into the latest early harvest I’ve ever been part of,” said Matt Schafer, a corn and soybean producer in LaCrosse.

Kassi Rowland of Leesburg was hoping for an easier harvesting season.

 

“We were kind of on track to have one of our fastest harvests ever. However, that’s obviously not going to happen now,” said Rowland, a partner at Tom Farms.

Rowland said more than three inches of rain came down most recently on the 57-percent of the corn and 43-percent of the soybeans remaining in her fields.

 

Tom Farms has about 18,000 acres in Kosciusko, Marshall, Huntington, Whitley, Elkhart, and Noble counties. Schafer reported a similar amount of precipitation in his fields located from LaCrosse to Kouts.

New Owner for Parcel Port

(La Porte, IN) - Parcel Port in downtown La Porte will be holding a grand re-opening to celebrate new ownership.

 

To celebrate, the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership will conduct a ribbon-cutting ceremony that includes speeches from Bert Cook, Executive Director of LEAP, Mayor Tom Dermody, and Jami Arnold, the new Owner and Operator of Parcel Port at 717 Michigan Avenue. 

 

The event will occur on November 4th from 4:30-6:30 PM CST, with the ribbon-cutting officially taking place at 4:45 PM. Patrick's Grille will be catering, and attendees will receive a goodie bag.

 

The community is invited to RSVP through the link on the LEAP website, www.laportepartnership.com.

 

Parcel Port began operating in La Porte in 1989 and has had four owners; Dave Sherrick (1989-1990), Jude Hermsen (1990-2000), Jerry Wallace (2000-2021), and now Arnold. She purchased the business on September 1st.

 

Services include shipping through USPS, UPS, and FedEx and notary services, shredding, curbside pickup, and business pickup. Shipping supplies and greeting cards are sold as well. 

 

Parcel Post is open from 9 AM to 5:30 PM Monday through Friday and 9 AM to 1 PM on Saturday.

 

"I am excited about the opportunity to own and operate Parcel Port. Parcel Port has provided an essential service (shipping parcels) to our community for over 30 years. While I never would have predicted I would own my own business, I am excited and committed to providing great service with a smile. I love meeting and getting to know our customers," Arnold said. "I have added a few new services such as Notarizing documents and shredding."

Lady Bison Preparing for Post Season

(New Buffalo, MI) - The New Buffalo High School volleyball team cruised to a three-set victory at home Monday.

           

The Lady Bison seemed to overwhelm Countryside Academy at times, especially from the many power shots not returned successfully.

           

Especially potent were spikes and hard-line drive serves for points by senior Ashley Hauseman. Junior Shannon Dewit also racked up many scores from punishing serves that made her opponents, at times, look helpless. Sophomore Ava Johnson also struck the ball with authority leading all servers with seven aces. Johnson also had 15 assists.

 

Amanda Jones led all defenders with 12 digs in a game where both teams wore pink uniforms to recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

 

The score was 25-16, 25-10, and 25-11.

 

Head Coach Bruce Molineaux said he was pleased with how the team played, especially in the final two matches, because of not having practice since Wednesday.

 

“We improved as the night went on,” he said.

Striking the ball at higher speeds had been a significant focus in recent practices to get the team ready for a possible run in the upcoming conference and district tournaments.

 

The Lady Bison improved to 6-1 in their Berrien Cass St. Joseph Conference division with an overall record of 11-12-2. Just a handful of players from last year’s district championship team still undefeated until a first-round loss in the regionals are on this year’s squad.

 

Molineaux believes this year’s team has a chance at success in the postseason if his players can strike the ball harder for more points and limit mistakes.

 

Michigan Lutheran and River Valley are expected to be the other top contenders for postseason honors. The conference tournament at Eau Claire begins on Saturday.

Slicer Runners Prepare for State Finals

(La Porte, IN) - The boys and girls cross country teams from La Porte High School will compete in the state finals meet. 

 

The state finals are Saturday in Terre Haute. The boys will compete at 11 AM (Central Time). The girl will race at 2 PM (CST).

 

School officials say ticket sales will be digital-only and can be obtained at GoFan ticketing. The cost is $10 per ticket.

Power Outages Still Remaining from Storm

(La Porte County, IN) - Some power outages remain from overnight storms.

 

According to NIPSCO, about 250 of their customers were without service this morning in Michigan City. On Monday afternoon, linemen reduced that outage to just over 70 interruptions. Nearly half of the over 40 customers of NIPSCO without service this morning had power back on this afternoon.

 

Indiana Michigan Power Company reported about 140 customers still without service this afternoon in the New Buffalo area.

 

La Porte County Highway Department Superintendent Duane Werner said more than two inches of rain and closer to three inches in spots came down along with high winds. He said about a dozen trees fell during the night, most of those in northern parts of La Porte County.

 

Crews responded to where fallen trees and limbs existed to start cleaning up the storm debris.

 

“We’ve been chasing trees pretty much during most of the night and today also,” Werner said.

Police also responded to a handful of motor vehicle accidents from hydroplaning caused by the heavy rain.

Gutsy Raiders Limp to Season Finish

(New Buffalo, MI) - The Red Arrow Raiders ended the football season on the wrong side of a shellacking by one of the best small-school teams in the state. Martin High School defeated the Raiders 55-0 Friday night at New Buffalo.

 

The first play on offense by the Monarchs was a 74 touchdown run on a keeper by speedy quarterback JR Hildebrand. However, the Raiders came back on offense to notch four consecutive first downs on passes from quarterback Eli Thomas to wide receiver Michael Flick and a rush up the middle by running back Ben Coffeen. However, the drive stalled at the 35-yard line of the Monarchs, who were then stopped on their next series of downs.

 

The Raiders started their next drive close to the 50-yard line but fumbled, and Martin scored a 51-yard touchdown on another quarterback keeper after recovering the ball. 

 

The offense for Martin immediately retook the field after recovering the ball from an onside kick. Two touchdown runs followed, but each play was called back from penalties. Martin then marched into the end zone without a penalty on a 28-yard screen pass.

 

The Monarchs scored two more touchdowns in the second quarter, including a 90 yard run into the end zone by Hildebrand.

 

Head Coach Matt Johnson said his team could have been more competitive had it not been for season-ending injuries to key players like starting quarterback Michael Bombin several weeks ago. The injuries forced him to use several players, including freshmen, called up from the junior varsity program.

 

“I thought the kids did really, really well considering their experience level in a game like that,” he said.

Johnson also pointed out Martin never scored from driving the ball down the field. Instead, he said their touchdowns were from big plays resulting from mistakes in execution by defenders lacking varsity experience.

 

Despite their injuries and demanding schedule, the Raiders wound up with a 4-5 record. One of the wins was from a forfeit by Bangor, but Johnson said he was confident his team would have won had that game been played. He also felt losses to solid Tri-Unity Christian, Lawrence, and Maple Valley teams could have been victories had it not been for injuries and mistakes by players still learning the game.

 

The Raiders are losing Bombin, Coffeen, Flick, and Chris Israelite to graduation but return key players like Thomas and promising strong-armed freshman Ethan Lijewski. Lijewski, suffering from a concussion, was among the players who missed the last few games of the season.

 

Johnson said he’s also not losing any members from his offensive and defensive lines.

 

“We got some guys that will be able to fill those skill positions fairly well,” he said.

New Chapter for Once Dilapidated Housing

(La Porte, IN) - More run-down housing in La Porte has been eliminated.

 

An apartment house in the 700 block of Maple Street has been torn down to make room for parking. In addition, the old Monroe Street Apartments are being remodeled into better quality, affordable housing.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody was there when the apartment house was getting torn down last week. He said that property and the old Monroe Street Apartments were sources of many calls to the police.

 

“We talked about we weren’t going to tolerate any longer all of the police calls. 26-years of issues no more,” Dermody said.

Both housing units were plagued by drug dealing, fighting, and other forms of misbehavior.  

 

Dermody said the old Monroe Street Apartments, now called Maple Commons, should be ready for occupancy sometime early next year. 

 

Several other run-down homes and unsafe structures sitting empty for years have been demolished since Dermody took over as mayor nearly 22 months ago. 

Sheriff's Department Launches New Water Patrol Equipment

(LaPorte County, IN) - The LaPorte Sheriff's Department has upgraded its marine capabilities.

 

The LaPorte County Sheriff's Office added to its fleet recently, replacing an aging Boston Whaler watercraft. The 21-foot rigid-hulled inflatable took its maiden voyage on Pine Lake last week. The new Marine Patrol Unit can be deployed on any LaPorte County body of water, including Lake Michigan. It can also serve as a platform for divers in underwater rescues and recoveries.

 

The boat's purchase was supported in part by a grant from the Healthcare Foundation of LaPorte.

Feather in Cap for Northwest Health

(La Porte, IN) - Northwest Health has been recognized for its commitment to infant and maternal health.

 

The hospital in La Porte earned what’s called the Inspire Hospital of Distinction Award. It’s for excellence in addressing critical issues related to the health of moms and babies.

 

Those issues include breastfeeding, tobacco prevention, and hypertension during pregnancy. The Indiana Hospital Association gave the award.

 

Northwest Health opened its new 84-bed hospital in LaPorte in October 2020. 

Major Drug Bust in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Two La Porte men could face time in prison for the alleged sale of fentanyl.

 

Jaime Torres and Pedro Burgos are each charged in La Porte Circuit Court with four counts of Dealing with a Schedule II substance. 

 

According to police, a large amount of suspected hand-pressed fentanyl pills were recovered. In addition, police also recovered other suspected illegal drugs, illegal firearms, and an undisclosed amount of cash. The seizure followed searches of homes at 814 Kingsport Avenue and 107 Glover Street. 

 

Torres and Burgos, both 20 years old, were being held on $50,000 cash bonds. La Porte Police Chief Paul Brettin said the men were part of a drug organization. He also credited the La Porte County Drug Task Force and the La Porte Street Crimes Unit for infiltrating the organization.

Case Closed on Coolspring Death

(Coolspring Township, IN) - The case is now closed on a death investigation from earlier this week in Coolspring Township.

 

On Tuesday, just after noon, police were called to the Weatherstone Village mobile home park, southwest of Michigan City. A person inside a mobile home in the 3000 block of Edgebrook Drive exited without incident; a dead body was found inside.

 

On Friday afternoon, the LaPorte County Sheriff's Department reported that the person died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The name of the 33-year-old male was not released, as authorities consider it a private family matter.

 

The County Coroner's Office verified the death as a suicide.

New Telephone Procedure Takes Effect

A new phone dialing protocol takes effect this weekend.

 

As of Sunday, 10-digit dialing will be required in the 219 and 574 area codes.

 

That means the area code will be needed for all calls, even local ones. Long-distance calls still require a one before the phone number (ex, 1-xxx-xxx-xxxx.) 

 

Rates and coverage areas are not affected. Also, three-digit numbers like 911 and 211 do not change. Be sure to check your programmed phone settings to make certain area codes are included.

Gun a Surprise Menu Item

(Wanatah, IN) - A Whopper of discovery was made at a local Burger King.

 

According to La Porte County Police, a 31-year-old man went inside the restroom at the Burger King in Wanatah last weekend. Resting on the toilet paper dispenser in his stall was a loaded handgun.

 

La Porte County Police say the man took the bullets out of the Smith and Wesson semi-automatic, placed the gun back on the toilet paper dispenser, and told the fast-food restaurant manager about the gun.

 

Police then showed up and took possession of the firearm for safekeeping. 

 

Detectives might have to play a little “ketchup” if they want to find out who left the gun in the bathroom stall. There were few, if any, immediate clues on who came into the Burger King with the weapon and went without it.

 

In September, a loaded gun was found in the bathroom of the Wanatah Burger King by a 10-year old. Police traced that gun to a 60-year-old man from Jackson City, IL. 

Legal Action Taken Against Stabosz as Promised

(La Porte, IN) - The LaPorte County Commissioners are taking the LaPorte County Auditor to court for refusing to pay an entire legal bill submitted by the county attorney.

 

The petition, seeking slightly more than $1,100 unpaid to the county attorney, was filed Thursday in LaPorte Superior Court 3 against Auditor Tim Stabosz.

 

The court filing alleges Stabosz violated state law by withholding payment on claims submitted by attorney Shaw Friedman after the commissioners approved them during a public meeting on August 18. 

           

According to the petition, the unpaid amount is 10-percent of the total claim for services rendered from July 15 to August 15.

           

The petition was filed after the commissioners ordered Stabosz to pay the balance or face legal action on October 6. Insisting the law was on his side, Stabosz ignored the commissioner's order to pay their bill. 

 

Now, Stabosz is vowing to defend in court what he feels is his legal and constitutional right as the auditor to solely verify claims since his office cuts the checks.

 

“My statutory authority is separate from the commissioners. They don’t get to order me to do anything,” Stabosz claims.

Stabosz said he has concerns about the unpaid claims from Friedman and wants to confirm the work was legitimate before releasing payment. He's' asked Friedman for more specifics on the billing statements, but Friedman has not provided him with information to his satisfaction. 

 

The auditor has no legal authority to withhold payment, though, once the commissioners have approved claims, said Alan Sirinek, the attorney representing the commissioners in the legal dispute. Sirinek claims that Stabosz should have approached the commissioners to try and resolve his questions before the vote approving payment. Instead, the commissioners passed the vote to pay the county attorney fees unanimously without objection from the auditor. 

 

“The statute is very clear.  He shall release it once it’s been approved by the commission,” Sirinek said.

However, Stabosz said his ability to audit and decide payment is under no such boundary. After the commissioners approve a payment, he claims that the auditor may pay a claim under state law but is under no compulsion to pay it. 

 

“It does not say 'must' [pay]. Otherwise, the auditor would be little more than a functional rubber stamp for the commissioners with regard to bill-paying,” Stabosz said.

Sirinek also said Stabosz should have gone to the commissioners to answer his questions about the billing statements. Sirinek claims that Friedman is under no obligation to provide Stabosz with additional information under attorney/client privilege since he works for the commissioners. Sirinek said the commissioners could have approached Friedman about the invoices and verified the claims for Stabosz since their powers include auditing invoices from service providers.

 

Jennifer Gouger, Chief of Staff for the Indiana State Board of Accounts, said county auditors have authority to review and pay or not pay claims based on the findings of their investigation. She said the commissioners also have the power to order payment of claims and pursue a court order, if necessary, to ensure payment. When there's a discrepancy, the courts can decide. Gouger said a judge would have to determine the matter because state law is unclear on who has ultimate authority.

 

Typically, she said commissioners and auditors work the system well together and, rarely, do things to reach this point. 

               

“There’s a nice little system of checks and balances, but what happens when that gets out of alignment?  That’s what’s unfolding in LaPorte,” she said.

Typically, Gouger said auditors with legal questions concerning payments needing paid seek advice from their county attorney. But, here, the county auditor does not want to pay the county attorney bill, leaving them on opposing sides. In addition, in February, Friedman filed a lawsuit in St. Joseph County alleging defamation of character against Stabosz.

 

Stabosz accused Friedman of running county government by having control over some of the elected officials. Friedman is seeking unspecified damages in the lawsuit, which remains undecided.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: An October Conversation with John Lake

(LAPORTE, IN) - Today's guest on SOUND OFF was LaPorte County Prosecuting Attorney John Lake. Prosecutor Lake talked about county politics, the Judah Morgan case, and what can be done to help child abuse cases and deaths go down in the state.

 

Listen to the full episode below: 

 

 

CREDITS: Nate Loucks (Host), John Lake (Guest), Jeff Wuggazer (Producer/Editor)

 

SOUND OFF is a community conversation show that airs every Monday and Friday on 96.7 the Eagle in LaPorte County, Indiana. SOUND OFF is a Spoon River Media production.

Stabbing Victim Had Checkered Past

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man fatally stabbed in Ohio has had previous encounters with law enforcement.

 

David Diederich was arrested in 2013 after gunshots were fired where he was living at the time in the 9500 block of West 125 South near Westville. According to La Porte County Police, one of the rounds struck a 17-year old juvenile riding in the back seat of a vehicle. The injuries were not life-threatening. Police said it appears a disagreement over a narcotics transaction led to the gunfire.

 

According to court records, a then 58-year old Diederich was arrested for Unlawful Possession of a Firearm by a Serious Violent Felon, Dangerous Control of a Child, and Dealing in Marijuana. The charges were dismissed several months later, court records disclosed.

 

His son, Jeremy Diederich, was also arrested for the incident and charged with attempted murder and other counts. That case also was later dismissed, according to court records. 

 

David Diederich was also arrested in December of last year for Domestic Battery. Under a pre-trial diversion agreement, the La Porte County Prosecutor's Office agreed to seek dismissal of that case as long as Diederich lived up to the terms of the deal. The terms included not being arrested again over 12 months.

La Porte Man Fatally Stabbed in Ohio

(Sandusky County, OH) - A La Porte man has been identified as the person killed during a knife attack in another state.

 

Police said 66-year old David Diederich died at the scene. A 51-year old Wisconsin man is charged with murder.

 

Diederich and another man were stabbed in a random attack Tuesday at a travel plaza along the Ohio Turnpike. The suspect was still there when police showed up, and he was coming at an officer when shot multiple times.

 

The suspect today was reportedly still in the hospital. According to authorities, it appears the suspect and victims did not know each other. The motive was unknown, but the suspect has been to prison for crimes like armed robbery.

 

The other stabbing victim has since been released from the hospital.

Deer Collision Season in Full Swing

(La Porte County, IN) - A rash of motor vehicle crashes with deer have occurred this week in La Porte County.

 

The most serious one appears to have taken place Wednesday morning on U.S 35 in Kingsbury. According to La Porte County Police, Kevin Masterson, 51, and Christina Masterson, 44, both La Porte, complained of pain in various parts of their bodies.

 

Police said they were southbound when a deer ran out in front of their 2017 Chevy Cruze at 400 South. The vehicle leaking what was described as transmission fluid had to be towed.


Wendell Pugh struck a deer with his pick-up truck on U.S. 6 in Kingsford Heights nearly seven hours later. Police said that Pugh, 71, of North Judson, did not complain of injury and could drive home in his moderately damaged vehicle.

 

Jeremy Goodwin, 31, Wanatah, struck a deer with his car early Wednesday on Range Road in Union Township. He also was not injured. Damage to his 2018 Ford Escort was estimated at $2,500 to $5,000.

 

According to authorities, this is the time of year when most deer collisions occur on the roads because it’s mating season, and corn that the animals use for cover is being harvested.

Hurricane Sheila Lands on Haney/Stabosz

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Commissioner Sheila Matias, a former school teacher, practically dusted off her paddle and used it on Commissioner Joe Haney last night. She also swatted La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz.

 

After another meeting dominated by hostile verbal sparring sessions, Matias said she was not going to stand back while Haney and Stabosz "try to bully people who have served this county long before you slipped in the back door."

 

She especially pointed her finger at Haney and demanded a public apology from him "shamefully" insulting Commission President Rich Mrozinski at a commissioner meeting two weeks ago.

 

Haney has frequently characterized Mrozinski and Matias as rubber stamps for La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman and has repeatedly alleged Friedman runs county government. Haney at the meeting also referred to Mrozinski as "a joke" and said Mrozinski doesn't know what he's doing.

 

Friedman is suing Stabosz for alleging Friedman runs county government. 

 

Matias said Mrozinski deserves respect not just for his service in the Vietnam War but for advocating for veterans in the nation's capital. She also spoke highly of his years in public service following a long career at NIPSCO. Matias said the picture Haney painted of Mrozinski was far from the truth.

 

“I’m sorry to tell you, Joe, you are totally misguided or worse,” Matias said. "You and your buddy, [Tim] Stabosz, are hell-bent on shaming, attacking, deriding and disrupting. Disruptor in Chief is a role you have created for yourself. Is that all you’ve got to do with the honor the voters have given you?”

Matias, a former two-term mayor in Michigan City, concluded her remarks by further painting a sour picture of Haney and Stabosz, accusing them of governing by gaslighting. 

 

“Gaslighting describes the practice used by bullies, narcissists, and generally mean-spirited people who think that if they speak a lie often enough, people will eventually grow to think it’s true. But, let me tell you, just because you continue to call me names like an accomplice, a henchman, a puppet and whatever other disrespectful things keep coming out of your mouths does not make it true,” she said. "The citizens of La Porte County know better and deserve better. Look at our records and see the truth,”

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