Local News

Sneezing Blamed for Deadly Crash

(Porter County, IN) - According to a report taken by Porter County Police, a fatal motor vehicle crash in the area has been blamed on a sneeze by the surviving driver.

 

The crash happened Friday evening on U.S. 6 between Valparaiso and Portage. The deceased was identified as David Klemp, 61, a resident of the area where the collision occurred. The unidentified driver who caused the crash told police he was repeatedly sneezing when he rear-ended the other vehicle.

 

Klemp was discovered trapped in a small pickup truck and had to be extricated from the vehicle, authorities stated, ultimately succumbing to his injuries despite life-saving attempts.

 

Police said the driver at fault did not have any alcohol in his bloodstream.

Foreign Currency in Kettles

(La Porte, IN) - No gold has been dropped into Salvation Army kettles in La Porte, but there’s been some foreign currency

 

Two $5 polymer notes from Canada came out of a kettle last week.

La Porte Salvation Armt Capt. Charles Pinkston said the bills since they can’t be used here could go elsewhere.

 

“We might just put it in an envelope and ship it to one of our Salvation Armies like up in Sault Ste. Marie or somewhere close to the Canadian border where they can exchange it,” he said.

 

A $5 note from Canada is worth about $3.75 in U.S. dollars.

 

Pinkston has worked at Salvation Army branches elsewhere in the Midwest where foreign currency from places like Mexico and The Middle East have been dropped into kettles in the past. As of Friday, close to $18,000 has come out of kettles in La Porte, with the overall kettle goal this season being $85,000.

Pinkston said the rate of giving in the kettles is going at about the same pace as last year, though not without noting the need for volunteers to ring bells at the kettles in La Porte.

 

There are plenty of openings and people can sign up to volunteer by calling the La Porte Salvation Army at 326-5342 or go online at registertoring.com.

 

“They can sign up as an individual, as a group and then they see what locations and times and days are available and they can sign up for as few or as many as they like,” he said.

Drug Bust on Toll Road

(La Porte County, IN) - An apparent cocaine user has been charged after being stopped for traffic violations by La Porte County Police.

 

33-year-old James Eden was pulled over on the Indiana Toll Road a week ago outside La Porte. Police noted that he appeared nervous and his voice trembled as he spoke, which led an officer at the scene to ask if he had anything illegal in his Honda Civic.

 

Initially, he denied having anything illegal in his possession but revealed he had a small amount of cocaine when told a K-9 dog would conduct a search. Authorities stated that one gram of cocaine inside a bag was seized in addition to a number of used hypodermic needles, a spoon containing a brown residue, and a piece of cotton. A spoon is commonly used to liquefy drugs prior to injection.

 

Police said the traffic stop was made because Eden repeatedly changed lanes without using his turn signal a total of four times.

 

The Colorado man told investigators he was returning home after visiting his mother in New Jersey after she had hip surgery, police said further.

Catalytic Converter Theft at Hospital

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police are investigating a catalytic converter taken in a hospital parking lot.

 

Occurring outside Franciscan Health outside of Michigan City, police stated that the catalytic converter was cut from the exhaustion system of a 2010 Honda Element on November 28.

 

The theft happened sometime between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. while the car was in the hospital's parking lot on the northeast side. A Hobart man called the police when he returned to his car and discovered a loud noise from his exhaust system after starting the engine, per local authorities. 

 

The catalytic converter was valued at $300.

 

Police also noted that attempts to obtain video evidence of the crime were not successful because the security camera for that area was not working at the time of the theft.

Santa Ditches Fire Truck for Sleigh in Parade

(Michigan City, IN) - Santa Claus broke with tradition and rode into Michigan City in the annual Snowflake parade on a sleigh.

        

There seemed to be no change in the large crowd along the route and beside the community tree basking in the spirit of the season. “We bared the cold. I’m so glad we did,” said lifelong Michigan City resident Nicole Leary, who came out with her husband, Nick, and their children Emerson, 3, and Aria, 5.

        

Taylor Purcell of Rolling Prairie said the atmosphere capped off by the tree lighting ceremony was like being in a storybook Hollywood film about the season.

        

The former Michigan City woman was with her husband, Michael, and their children ages 5, 8, and 13. Purcell has attended the parade ever since she was a child.

 

“I think it’s special, like when you’re watching your Christmas movies. It’s a little bit of happiness,” she said.

There were 29 units, including cartoon characters and horses, in the parade on Franklin St. from 9th St. to 4th St.

 

The parade ended in front of the Michigan City Public Library where hundreds of people, if not more, gathered for the tree lighting ceremony. Pleasure echoing from the crowd was evident when Mayor Duane Parry turned on the lights.

 

Seemingly forever, Santa Claus has been escorted into the city on top of a fire truck in the parade. The sleigh came about when Santa expressed a desire for change before Thanksgiving spoke to a friend, Amy Frederickson.  Frederickson said she came up with the idea for the sleigh and found one for sale on Facebook marketplace.

 

She and her husband, Cory, brought it home after making an over two-hour drive to Woodstock, Illinois. The century-old sleigh needed some fixing up but Cory, working quickly, used his handyman skills to get it to Santa’s liking prior to the parade.

“We made this all happen in a week,” she said.

Santa on a sleigh seemed to be a hit judging from the reaction of the crowd.  One man shouted several times in glee “you’re the best Santa!”

        

Katie Volkman made the trip from Chesterton with her son, Liam, 4, and her daughter, Leah, 12. The former Chicago resident attended the parade for the first time last year, only to come again because of how much they all enjoyed the festivities.

 

“The kids got a lot of candy. They liked seeing all the characters.  It was just a good time,” she said.

 

They also went to Washington Park after the parade to see the Festival of Lights like how they had gone last year. There, a large section of the lakefront park is heavily decorated annually with lighted figures and twinkling bulbs strung in the trees.  It was also the second time at the parade for Ryan and Emilia Siffermann and their five-year-old Michael, all lifelong residents of southern California until moving to Michigan City early in 2021.

 

Mrs. Siffermann said the parade, combined with the below 30-degree temperatures, had more of a traditional Christmas feeling to it than anything she experienced before during holidays in a much warmer climate.

 

“I like the change in seasons,” she said.

 

The parade was a first for Marissa Snyder and her children, Alex, 5, and Sophia, 3.  Her family moved to Michigan City from Ohio last year.

 

“Enjoyable  Very enjoyable. The kids are having a good time,” she said.

Slicers Defeat New Prairie in the Cougar Den

(New Carlisle, IN) - The Slicers defeated the New Prairie Cougars 66 - 37 on Saturday night.  La Porte used an aggressive 1-3-1 trapping zone and great shooting to speed the Cougars up, sprinting to a 21 - 8 first quarter lead and never looked back. 

 

Slicer Scoring

Ja’Meriyon Cross 16 points, Malik Corley 11 points, Rylan Kieszkowski 10 points, Nic Spence 9 points, Kyle Kirkham 8 points, Tommy Samuelson 8 points, and Brennen Balka 4 points.  Dylan Salisbury, Brogan Riley, and Dominic Thomson all played but did not score.

 

New Prairie Scoring

Kole Staley 11 points, Reece Lapcznski 6 points, Devan Kalicki 6 points, Colton Griffiths 4 points, Trent Platz 4 points, Gavin Gonzalez 3 points, Joe Kinney 3 points.  Trenton Klute, Lucas Pavlick, Bryce McCorkel, Corbin Jonas, and Reece Eggert all played but did not score.

 

The Slicers improved their record to 3 - 1.  The Cougar record fell to 0 - 2.

 

New Prairie was victorious in the JV game, 45 - 37.

 

The Slicers next game will be Saturday, December 10th against undefeated South Bend Washington in the home opener.  The varsity tip is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.  The JV tip will be at 2:00 p.m.

 

New Prairie will travel to face state rated Penn at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 6th.

Food Bank Returning to La Porte County

(La Porte County, IN) - The Food Bank of Northern Indiana will be giving away food in La Porte County two more times before Christmas.

 

On Wednesday, December 7, they will be giving away pre-boxed and pre-bagged items at the Marquette Mall in Michigan City. That giveaway, for up to 300 households, will run from 10:00 a.m. until noon and is sponsored by Kroger.

 

The Food Bank will also visit Kingsford Heights the following week for a turkey giveaway. That event will take place Wednesday, December 14 at the Kingsford Heights Community Center from noon until 2:00 p.m. 263 Christmas turkeys will be available, curtesy of Beacon Health System.

Public Hearing Upcoming Related to Dangerous SR 2 Intersection

(St. Joseph County, IN) - The St. Joseph County Council is set for a public hearing involving a dangerous intersection on State Road 2 east of La Porte County.

 

The Phillips 66 gas station at the corner of SR 2 and Quince Road has seen a number of serious accidents at that intersection in recent months, including a fatal crash involving a Rolling Prairie woman in late June.

 

Now owners of that gas station are seeking to expand operations for trucks. They propose to rezone two residential parcels adjacent to the existing gas station and add parking and diesel fuel pumps for semi traffic.

 

The St. Joseph County Council will hear from the public on the matter at their upcoming meeting on Tuesday, December 6.

Death Investigation at Westville Prison

(Westville, IN) - Indiana State Police detectives are investigating a recent death at the Westville Correctional Facility.

 

Not much information has been released at this time. The investigation began Thursday, following the death of 53-year-old Matthew Chester.

 

The La Porte County Coroner's Office is assiting.  An autopsy has been conducted, and those results, as well as toxicology reports, are pending.

Slicers Defeat the Pilgrims in Plymouth

(Plymouth, IN) - Slicer coach Jordan Heckard felt that tempo was key in Friday night’s game at Plymouth.  The Pilgrims came into Friday’s game with a 2-0 record winning by scores of 46 - 37 and 47 - 29. They play a very deliberate offense and suffocating defense.

 

La Porte used an aggressive 1-3-1 trapping zone and great shooting to speed the Pilgrims up, sprinting to a 22 - 11 first quarter lead.  All five starters scored in the quarter Led by Rylin Kieszkowski and Malik Corley with 6 points each.  The long and quick Kieszkowski played the point of the 1-3-1 and made it difficult for the Pilgrims to get into their offensive. The aggressive defense forced Plymouth to rush several shots.

 

Plymouth found their rhythm in the second quarter outscoring La Porte 12 - 11. The Slicers got a huge boost from Dominic Thomson.  Thomson, who is 6’6, is came out for basketball for the first time this year.  The senior hit two three pointers in the quarter, accounting for over half of the Slicer output.  La Porte led 33 - 23 at halftime.

 

The Slicers stretched their lead to 48-32 after three quarters. Tommy Samuelson blocked 3 shots, with a steal and an assist in the first two minutes of the half.  Kieszkowski scored 8 points in the quarter and Kyle Kirkham added 5.

 

Plymouth’s Davis Wray made Slicer fans a bit nervous by scoring the first 6 points of the fourth quarter.  This cut the lead to 10.  La Porte regained control and outscored the Pilgrims 15 - 2 to make the final 63 - 40.

 

Eight different Slicers scored in the game.  Kieszkowski had 19, Kirkham 17, and Corley 8.  Je’Meryion Cross and Thomson had 6, Samuelson 3, along with Dylan Salisbury and Brennan Balka who had 2 each.  Nic Spence didn’t score but played a huge roll in a Slicer defense that allowed Plymouth only 17 second half points. La Porte was 6 - 7 from the foul line and improved to 2 - 1 on the season.

 

Plymouth was led in scoring by Wray and Easton Strain who each had 15 points.

 

SLICER JV’S LOSE DOUBLE OVERTIME HEARTBREAKER

 

(Plymouth, IN) - The varsity game got a late start as Matt Miller’s JV team lost a double overtime thriller 45 - 44. Plymouth led La Porte 28 - 22 at the half.  The Slicers outscored the Pilgrims 13 - 0 in the 3rd quarter to lead 28 -2 2 going into the 4th.  La Porte couldn’t hold the lead and the game was tied 33 - 33 after regulation, then 36 - 36 after the first overtime.

 

Plymouth led by four points heading into the final minute of overtime number two. La Porte stormed back and took a 44 - 43 lead with 9 seconds left on a Vann Warner 3 pointer.  Coming out of a time out, Plymouth got the ball inside and scored what turned out to be the winning basket with .8 left on the clock.  La Porte’s desperation pass was deflected and the Slicers fell to 1 - 2 on the young season.

 

Javelle Broome, Sawyer Tonagel, Gage Raymond and Warner all had 9 points for La Porte. Eli Taylor added 8.

 

The Slicers travel to New Prairie Saturday night.  Varsity tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 pm with the JV starting at 5:30.  You can listen to all of the action 96.7 The Eagle with pregame at 6:45 pm.

Homicide Investigation Underway in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police are investigating a homicide that took place during the early morning hours today.

 

At around 12:55am, police were dispatched to the 700 Block of East 10th Street in response to shots being fired.  Upon arrival, they discovered a male lying on the ground with apparent life-threatening injuries along with a female victim who had also been shot.  Both subjects were transported to Franciscan Health, where the male subject was later pronounced deceased.

 

No additional information is being released at this time due the ongoing nature of the investigation.  At the time this article was written, no arrest have been reported in this case.

  

The Michigan City Police Department would ask anyone who may have witnessed this incident, has any additional information, or has video surveillance / cell phone video of this incident, to contact Detective Corporal Melissa Sopher at (219) 874-3221 (Extension 1049), or email at msopher@emichigancity.com.

 

Hometown News Now will provide additional information on this case when it becomes available.

Downtown Ice Rink Going Up

(La Porte, IN) - Ice skating in downtown La Porte will soon be available to the public.  A refrigerated ice rink is in the process of being constructed at Monroe and State streets.

 

Park Department Superintendent Mark Schreiber said the rink opens December 9th.  Initially, the rink will be open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

 

Schreiber said the ice rink could be open on additional days during Christmas break for children home from school.

 

Rental skates will be available by registering in advance and credit or debit cards will be accepted at the rink. Cash payments can be made in advance at the Park Office.

 

For more information, the contact the park department office at 219-326-9600. 

Mayor Gives State of the City Speech

(La Porte, IN) - Much has been accomplished but there’s more work to do for making La Porte the place to be.  That’s was the main theme of Mayor Tom Dermody during his State of the City speech Thursday night at the Civic Auditorium.

 

“We’re going to continue to move this community forward.  Develop. Shake things up.  I’m just excited to be partners with all of you to make sure it happens,” he said.

 

Construction and plans to develop more new housing for all income levels along with creating jobs since taking over as mayor in 2020 was part of the information he cited as the path for La Porte to become a destination.

 

Dermody’s goal is raising the city’s stagnant population of about 22,000 to 30,000 by 2030.  The new housing includes The Banks, featuring close to 200 recently completed resort type apartments, and Whispering Meadows, a subdivision with dozens of more homes being built.

 

There’s also Maple Commons at 701 Maple Avenue.  The former crime plagued 50 unit downtown apartment building underwent an extensive remodeling and reopened under new ownership early this year.

 

“There been not one police or fire call at that building,” he said.

 

Dermody said construction could happen next year at Beechwood Lakes, a development on paper where condos, townhomes and single family residences are planned on 55 acres next to Beechwood Golf Course.

 

He reported progress in the effort to have affordable homes built on the site of the former Tibma Bakery cleared in 2020 on Woodward Street and an undeveloped parcel on 18th Street near Kesling Middle School.

 

Dermody also said efforts are ongoing in their attempt to annex the 39 North Conservancy District, which is also part of his growth strategy.  The district, near the Indiana Toll, has witnessed considerable industrial and residential growth since forming two decades ago, but now has a problem with maintaining consistent water pressure.  Dermody said the city is offering to pay for the expensive repairs in exchange for permission to annex.

 

Among the other gains this year toward population growth are access to high speed internet everywhere in the city.  That was made possible from the laying of additional fiber through a public-private partnership and $15 million investment by provider Surf Internet, he said.

 

His administration has also worked to improve quality of life to help draw more businesses and residents.  Dermody said he expects the city to receive “Quiet Zone” designation from the federal government next year to keep freight trains from blowing their whistles as they approach crossings.

 

He also noted close to 4,000 pot holes were fixed and over 3,000 code violations were issued this year.  In addition, Dermody said more than 60-percent of the streets have received new pavement since 2016.

 

Other achievements he cited were in areas like job creation and upgrading the local workforce.

 

Toward the end of his 45 minute presentation, Dermody emphasized a need to construct a truck route around the downtown.  He believes more people will come downtown with less heavy trucks rumbling through.  There’s been considerable resistance to the idea from residents close to the proposed thoroughfare and the La Porte County Commissioners.

 

“These aren’t easy decisions but they are the decisions that have to be made for the future of our community,” he said.

Abused by Husband Caretaker Alleged

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man is accused of physically striking and not taking proper care of his wheelchair-bound wife.  Jeffrey Hetzel, 50, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with two counts of domestic battery and neglect of a dependent.

 

Authorities say Hetzel is accused of punching his wheelchair-bound wife across her face and body on November 14th at their home on Fox Street.  Hetzel, who was employed and paid as her caretaker, reportedly refused to help the woman replace her full colostomy bag that same day.  The woman rolled off her bed and remained on the floor for two days until discovered by a friend.

 

According to court documents, the woman was covered in feces and had injuries like swelling and possible broken ribs.  The police went on to state that his wife was taken to a hospital after being discovered and later discharged to a nursing home due to personal safety concerns.

 

Hetzel was being held in the La Porte County Jail without bond, having been previously placed on one-year probation several months ago for a conviction related to striking the woman, court records disclosed.

 

The suspect could face anywhere from a 2 to 12-year sentence on each of the three counts.

Strikers Move to Corporate Headquarters

(La Porte, IN) - A worker strike at a manufacturing company in La Porte is taking a different approach today.

 

While nearly 200 employees at Monosol were on the picket line Thursday outside the plant at the Thomas Rose Industrial Park on the city’s east side, a vast majority of the picketers instead went to Monosol’s corporate headquarters in Merrillville to demonstrate earlier this morning.

 

Dustin Roach, the president-elect of Teamsters Local 135, said there’s practically nobody from the company now at the facility in La Porte because of the strike.

 

“We’re going to go there and try to send a message,” he said.

 

Contract talks have broken down and no date has been set to resume negotiations.

 

Per Roach, the biggest obstacle in coming to terms on a new contract for workers is years of forced overtime.  He said 60 hours or more a week regularly is taking a toll on the workers physically and emotionally from lack of quality time at home.

 

Roach went on to state that the company is offering to freeze forced overtime for a year along with a 17-percent increase in pay over a four-year period, while noting that employees want a pay increase equal to the rate of inflation.

 

The president-elect also assured that the workers are receiving strike benefits to help make ends meet.  The benefits are not as much as their pay, but other unions are beginning to contribute money to increase the amount of said benefits during the strike, he said.

Truth Hurts Like a Ton of Bricks

(La Porte, IN) - Police say a man received more than a turkey on Thanksgiving after crashing into a brick planter in the downtown La Porte area.

 

Chauncey Crayton was given a trip to the La Porte County Jail for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Charges were later filed in La Porte Circuit Court.

 

According to court documents, the 43-year-old La Porte man struck the planter box at State and Clay streets just after 7:30 p.m. Officers arrived to find his heavily damaged 2017 Nissan sport utility vehicle in the middle of the road.    

 

The police stated that Crayton claimed he was heading to La Porte Liquor before being struck by another vehicle, which had fled the scene.

 

His story began to unravel, though, when officers noticed a large chunk of red brick fall from inside his front bumper after it was picked up from the pavement. Investigators then followed a trail of brick pieces for about 30 feet leading to a planter that had sustained significant damage and black paint transfer matching the color of the suspect’s vehicle, per the authorities. 

 

Crayton allegedly had a blood alcohol level of .161-percent, slightly above the legal limit.

Fresh Eyes on U.S. 30 Reconstruction Proposal

(Hamlet, IN) - The conversion of U.S. 30 into more of an Interstate highway from Valparaiso to the Ohio state line is being closely re-examined by the Indiana Department of Transportation.

 

INDOT hosted the first in a series of public meetings Wednesday night at Oregon Davis High School near Hamlet wherein an overview of what’s currently happening with the proposal was explained. This is in addition to starting the process of seeking input from citizens on how the four-lane highway should be upgraded. Other public meetings to discuss U.S. 30 are scheduled to occur on December 5 in Fort Wayne and Warsaw on December 6.

 

Reconstructing U.S. 30 east from Indiana 49 to reduce travel times and improve safety has been studied before over the years. The current effort, while not totally starting from scratch, is applying “a fresh set of eyes,” per Will Wingfield, a member of the INDOT study team.

 

Wingfield stated that a new innovative transportation planning process is now being followed to find out how the reconstruction should be tailored to best fit the needs of their respective communities, from said communities. Some of the suggestions from residents will be incorporated into the design, according to the INDOT member.

 

“We’re not coming to the public with a specific recommendation. We’re listening,” he said.

 

Continued easy access to communities and farmland along U.S. 30 are among the primary concerns of stakeholders (as well as first responders) wanting to reach their destinations without adding time.

 

U.S. 30 becoming more of an Interstate is going to require changes like closing intersections to reduce the number of traffic lights and motorists crossing the highway after pulling away from stop signs. Many people living near U.S. 30 said they understand quicker transportation's importance to the economy. However, they don’t want their local economies to suffer if reaching their communities from the highway becomes inconvenient and causes motorists to pass them by.

 

Jim Jessup of Hanna said there’s a real need to improve safety and that public input on the design is most critical, but feels there’s going to be pain regardless of how the reconstruction would take shape.

 

“You’re going to have winners and losers. There’s no doubt about that,” he said.

 

State Senator Mike Bohacek of Michiana Shores said he’s excited about the prospects but also concerned, insisting on not taking a position until the process has run its course.

 

“To be closed-minded and not even know what the plan is would be irresponsible. I want to wait and see, see what the plan is going to be and see what it turns into,” he said.

 

Other stakeholders include farmers with fields on both sides of the highway. They want to avoid the additional time and expense of driving heavy machinery to the closest intersection to cross the highway and then double back.

 

“With big equipment, it’s going to be a pain if you have to travel a long ways,” said Larry Jernas of Knox. Jernas raises corn, soybeans, and cattle on about 1,500 acres north and south of U.S. 30 near the Starke-LaPorte county line. He’s also worried about traffic congestion and the safety of farmers having to use the few roads still available to cross the highway.

 

According to INDOT, a rough draft of the design will be presented for the public to review and offer alternatives in late 2023 and early 2024. The goal is to submit the final plans for approval in the fall of 2024. Wingfield said no timetable has been established yet for possible construction due to the project being very early in its planning stages. He also said doing nothing is on the table as a viable option.

 

Public input is being accepted by INDOT throughout the process at ProPelus30.com, Facebook, and other web-based platforms.  INDOT representatives will also be maintaining office hours at various locations along U.S. 30 to receive input and respond to questions. The office locations, dates, and times are still being developed but will be announced once established, according to INDOT.

La Porte Manufacturing Workers on Strike

(La Porte, IN) - Nearly 200 employees at Monosol are walking the picket line outside the plant at the Thomas Rose Industrial Park.

 

Teamsters Local 135 President-Elect Dustin Roach said the striking workers were locked out of the facility at noon yesterday and went on strike when their four-year contract expired last night at midnight.

 

Per Roach, the biggest issue for workers in reaching an agreement on a new contract is forced overtime. He said the employees are made to work 60 hours or more per week and that it’s been that way since the plant opened more than a decade ago. Roach went on to state that they’re paid overtime, but the heavy work schedule combined with the physical demands of their jobs have taken a toll.

 

“They deserve to have a family life.  After so long, your family needs more than overtime,” he said.

The president-elect said that the company has offered the workers a 17-percent pay hike over a four-year period and no forced overtime for one year. However, he insists the proposed wage increase does not keep up with inflation and that the freeze offered on forced overtime is not adequate enough. Roach said workers want a first year pay hike equal to the rate of inflation and to negotiate later how much they’ll be paid in each of the next three years.

 

Roach goes on to say that striking workers receive financial compensation from the union during a strike but it's not as much as what they earn. Other unions are being asked to contribute money to raise their strike compensation amounts. 

 

“If they really had their employees at heart, they would do the right thing for their employees but it’s profits over people,” Roach said.

Charges in Cigarette Burglary

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte woman is accused of breaking into a gas station and fleeing with a trash bag of cigarettes.  Piper Hanna, 58, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with level 5 felony burglary.

 

According to court documents, she entered Amoco at 1033 East Lincolnway during the early morning hours of November 4th and took more than $2,000 worth of cigarettes.  Police said the intruder was captured by surveillance video and identified by investigators because of their previous encounters with law enforcement. Regarding her entry, authorities report it potentially resulted from doors left accidentally unlocked to the building.

 

Two weeks following the incident, police located Hanna at 410 Maple Avenue. During questioning, the suspect stated she had ridden a bicycle hauling a trailer to the gas station, and placed the cigarettes into a plastic trash bag prior to leaving the premises.

 

She was being held in the La Porte County Jail on a $15,000 bond.

7-Eleven Opening in Sight

(La Porte, IN) - It took several months longer than expected to complete the construction of the new 7-Eleven on Pine Lake Avenue in La Porte with supply chain issues cited as a major factor in the delay.  However, products are now filling store shelves in preparation for the convenience store to open their doors to customers next week.

 

Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, said the opening could be as popular as when Aldi began seeing customers recently across the street.

 

“At Aldi, they had 300 plus people lined up around the building.  We were happy to be able to share that experience with them.  I know 7-Eleven will be popular as well so we’re looking forward to that,” he said.

 

7-Eleven will open for the first time next Tuesday.  An official grand opening ceremony is planned two days later. 

Santa Set to Arrive in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City is gearing up to welcome Santa Claus into the community.  The annual Festival of Lights Parade on Saturday is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

 

Nearly 30 units in the parade will proceed down Franklin Street beginning at 9th Street.  The parade ends at 4th Street. in front of the Michigan City Public Library where a tree lighting ceremony will follow.

 

Parade attendees can also venture over to Washington Park to see the annual Festival of Lights or visit Santa Claus at his workshop at 710 Franklin Street.

 

According to the mayor’s office, there will be activities for kids inside the workshop where Christmas lists for Santa Claus can be dropped off from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Hot chocolate and holiday treats will also be available at the workshop. 

 

Chili sampling will take place during the Chili Challenge at the workship and voting will take place for the best chili.  A $5 charge will be required to sample chili with the proceeds going to Meals on Wheels, officials said.

 

 

Zoo Open for Holiday Event

(Michigan City, IN) - The zoo in Michigan City will be open this Saturday for the first “Wild Winterland” event.  Visitors can see animals like an armadillo, corn snake, hedgehog, mini horse, and chinchilla from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 

People can also take photos with the Grinch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the classroom at Washington Park Zoo or have a cup of hot cocoa in the Peacock Café on the grounds of the lakefront zoo.  The Treehouse Gift Shop will also be open for the occasion.

 

According to zoo officials, the African Lions and Bengal Tigers will not be out for viewing because of the ongoing reconstruction of their expanded habitats.

 

As a result, the price of admission has been reduced to $5 for adults and $4 for children ages 3-11.  Admission is free for children under 2 and zoo members.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upgrading U.S. 30 a Focus Tonight

(Hamlet, IN) - A public meeting is scheduled tonight in connection with possible upgrades to U.S. 30 across much of the northern part of the state.  The meeting will be at Oregon Davis School near Hamlet.

 

For many years, there’s been talk of upgrading U.S. 30 into an interstate type highway to reduce travel times and improve safety.  The environmental impact of upgrading the four lane highway along with the feasibility of the idea is currently being studied.

 

Tony Rodriguez, Director of the La Porte County Office of Economic and Community Development, represents La Porte County on the U.S. 30 coalition, which consists of representatives from each county where the highway could be improved.  He said the ongoing study process leading up to possible reconstruction of the highway is lengthy but one worth following especially for immediate stakeholders.

 

“This is the first of several public meetings and we wanted to make sure the public is well informed,” he said.

 

Many farmers along the highway are concerned because the thoroughfare cuts through their land, making easy access to both sides of the roadway important.  Interstate type upgrades would mean fewer interchanges and result in miles of extra travel each time they need to get to their fields on the other side of the highway.

 

The five other meetings will be held at more distant locations so tonight is the best opportunity for local residents to become fully educated on the project.

 

Tonight’s meeting, hosted by the Indiana Department of Transportation, is scheduled to run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

2022 Could Be Less Deadly

(La Porte County, IN) - Deaths from drug overdose and suicide, so far, are down this year in La Porte County.

 

La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson said 53 people died in 2021 from drug overdoses compared to 45 who experienced a similiar fate so far this year.   She said there were 31 suicides last year countywide.  Currently, 21 people have taken their lives this year. 

 

Swanson hopes the numbers don’t spike before the end of the year.

 

“We’re crossing our fingers hoping the numbers are going to stay low during the holidays which is normally when we see them going up.  We’ll see what happens,” she said.

 

Swanson also reported 17 motor vehicle fatalities in La Porte County to date this year.  That's compared to 15 fatalities in 2021.  There were nine homicides throughout the county last year, which is four more than what’s presently transpired in 2022, she said.

Speeding Driver Caught with Meth

(Michigan City, IN) - A man pulled over after leaving a Michigan City convenience store was allegedly found with narcotics.  Kevin Thomas, 43, of Gary, is charged with possession of methamphetamine and driving on a suspended license.

 

According to court documents, an Indiana State Police Trooper began following Thomas early Monday  after he left the parking lot of Family Express at 5822 Franklin Street at a high rate of speed.  After merging into the eastbound lanes of Interstate 94, Thomas was soon traveling at more than 100 miles per hour with the officer maintaining a safe distance behind him, police said.  It wasn’t long before Thomas reduced his speed and pulled over.

 

Police said four plastic baggies containing tablets along with an orange rock-like substance was discovered under the center console of his 2017 Chevy Silverado.  A test revealed all of the baggies together contained just over 12 grams of methamphetamine.

 

The possession of methamphetamine charge is a level 6 felony punishable by anywhere from a six month to 30 month sentence.  

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