Local News

Creator of Painting Still Unknown

(La Porte, IN) - An old torn and smoke stained painting after fully restored is providing the public a glimpse of the history of La Porte after being fully restored.

 

The effort to identify the artist is still running into dead ends.

 

The 4 X 8 foot painting from 1949 didn’t even have a frame when found nailed to a sheet of plywood.

 

The plywood was bolted into the brick wall of the basement in the home of Dennis Meyer stunned by the discovery.

 

“It didn’t belong there.  It belonged in a much more beautiful spacious room where the public can see it,” he said.

 

Meyer donated the painting now hanging in the conference room at the La Porte Park and Recreation Department office at 250 Pine Lake Ave.

 

“The job that was done on it was just phenomenal.  I couldn’t be happier with it,” said LaPorte Parks Superintendent Mark Schreiber.

 

The painting reflects an area of Stone Lake with trees peaking in fall colors.

 

The work of art was in a home Meyer purchased over four-years ago on Lakeshore Drive beside Stone Lake.

 

Meyer said he spotted the painting right away and was impressed but his focus at the time was more on updating the residence also built in 1949.

 

“As I got into the remodeling I realized the painting really deserves a better spot than being in my basement,” he said.

 

Eventually, Meyer began making some contacts and Schreiber expressed an interest in the painting.

 

Schreiber said a grant to pay for its restoration was obtained by a local branch of The Questers, a group dedicated to preservation.

 

Thaddeus Cutler, the owner of a downtown LaPorte art gallery, removed the tar from cigarette smoke clouding the original colors.

 

He also fixed a couple of spots where the paint was chipped along with the nail holes in the canvas.           

 

“The way they cleaned it up, it’s absolutely beautiful,” Schreiber said.

 

The painting that includes the image of a squirrel on a tree was also given a frame and hung in the conference room where the park board holds its monthly meetings.

 

Meyer said the tobacco stains were from smoking that occurred by the original owners of the home and during parties they hosted in the basement.

 

The creator of the painting was not known but leads are being pursued in hopes of identifying the artist.

 

A name inscribed at the bottom of the painting could not be made out.

 

“It gives up a little glimpse into the past of LaPorte.  I’d love to be able to solve it,” he said.

Identifying Fallen Soldiers Has Great Meaning

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - A local war veteran is pleased the remains of two brothers from LaPorte killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 have been identified.

 

LaPorte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski, who saw combat duty in the Vietnam War, said anytime a missing soldier is identified means a lot to veterans fortunate to have safely returned home from battle.

 

"The ones that actually go into battle and suffer through all of the things that are associated with that, we need to remember that.  Every one of us owe a lot to all of our veterans," he said.

 

Harold and William Trapp were on board the USS Oklahoma which sank from the attack which triggered U.S. involvement in World War II, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency which made the May 10 announcement.

 

The agency is part of the U.S Department of Defense which keeps track of U.S. servicemen still classified as prisoners of war or missing in action.

 

According to the federal agency, 429 crewmen were aboard the USS Oklahoma capsized when hit multiple times by torpedos.

 

In 2015, the remains of the unidentified servicemen aboard the vessel were exhumed from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.

 

The Trapp brothers ages 24 and 23 were identified in November from advanced dental and DNA testing.

 

They’re scheduled to be reburied June 15 at the National Memorial Cemetery.

 

A rosette will be placed next to their names to indicate they’re no longer missing, officials said.

 

Mrozinski, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization in Rolling Prairie, said he expects an attempt will be made to locate any family members of the brothers still living in the area.

 

The purpose would be to notify them of the discovery and invite them to any ceremonies held locally.

 

“We can’t forget these guys that went off to serve our country and paid the ultimate price.  This is a great effort we have going on to find these people,” Mrozinski said.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: John Boyd

(LAPORTE, IN) -- In this episode of SOUND OFF, John Boyd talks about his time as LaPorte County Sheriff. Sheriff Boyd was elected for his first time in 2014 and a second term in 2018.

 

The conversation included these topics: 

  • COVID-19 in the jail
  • Endorsing a future successor
  • The difference between Amber Alerts and Silver Alerts 
  • Notifying the community about crimes in certain areas 
  • License plate reader cameras
  • The crosswalk on Pine Lake Avenue
  • ...and more.

Listen to the full episode below: 

 

 

CREDITS: Dennis Siddall (Producer), Jeff Wuggazer (Editor), Nate Loucks (Host), John Boyd (Guest)

 

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. 

Summer Concerts Back On

(La Porte, IN) - There’s another indication things are beginning to return to normal.

 

Summer concerts are again scheduled in La Porte.

 

The annual Arts in the Park line up has been announced.

 

A Billy Joel/Elton John tribute band is scheduled to kick off the season on June 3 at Fox Park.

 

There’s also an Eagle’s tribute band scheduled for July 29.

 

For more information, go to artsintheparklaporte.com.

Caucus Scheduled to Fill Seat of Late Trustee

(La Porte County, IN) - The process has started for filling a seat vacated by the death of a local official.

 

The La Porte County Democrat Party has scheduled a caucus.

 

Precinct committee members from Coolspring Township will meet for the caucus to elect a replacement for Jackie Atwater.

 

The 69-year old Atwater was Coolspring Township Trustee when she died last week.

 

The caucus is scheduled for May 25 at 6 p.m. at the Michigan City Police Department, said La Porte Couinty Democrat Party Chairman Dr. Vidya Kora.

 

Anyone interested in seeking the position of Coolspring Trustee must have their letter

and a CEB 5 form in Dr. Vidya Kora’s hands at 105 Woodside Dr.  Michigan City, IN 46360.

 

All required documents must be presented to Kora no later than May 23 at 6:00 p.m., which is 72 hours prior to the election, Kora said.

 

Vaccinations Offered at Home

(La Porte County, IN) - COVID-19 vaccines are now offered at home.

 

Locally, the La Porte County Emergency Management Service and the

La Porte County Health Department are teaming up on the effort.

 

Ambulance workers will administer the vaccine to people unable to reach a vaccination site.

 

For more information, contact the health department at the La Porte County Complex at (219) 326-6808, ext. 2200.

Heeg to Run for Sheriff

(LaPorte County, IN) - Come next election, there will be a new sheriff in town.

Having reached his two-term limit, LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd will be stepping aside at the end of next year.

And his Chief Deputy is looking to fill the position.

Last week, Ron Heeg announced his candidacy for County Sheriff. He announced his intentions of running in 2022 to the Sheriff's Office Merit Board.

Heeg said he plans to run on three strategic goals: public safety, personal investment, and community investment.

Heeg has been with the Sheriff’s Department for over 20 years, and has been Chief Deputy since 2014.

Pregnant Woman Among Stranded Kayakers Rescued

(Wayne County, IN) - An afternoon paddle down the Whitewater River turned perilous for three kayakers yesterday.

The group, which included an eight-month pregnant woman, started out near Richmond Saturday afternoon. After capsizing, they became stranded in a remote area. Their family reported them missing just after midnight.

Indiana Conservation Officers were able to locate the trio around 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Officers used a drone with a thermal sensor to detect the missing people in the dark. According to the Department of Natural Resources, the kayakers had set up camp along the river bank and were able to make a fire to stay warm.

The DNR says river levels in that area are still high from rains earlier in the week. They remind boaters everywhere to carefully chart their route, notify friends and relatives of their itinerary, and always wear personal floatation devices. 

 

 

Road Rage on the Tollway

(Lake County, IN) - An act of road rage on the Indiana Tollway left a vehicle riddled with holes and a passenger shot.  It happened Thursday evening on I-80/94 near Gary.

 

According to reports, police found a white Jeep Cherokee on the side of the highway.  The vehicle had been shot several times.  The female passenger had been struck by one of the bullets.  She was taken to the hospital with a non-life-threatening injury.

 

The driver claimed that a black male driving a Ford passenger car opened fire after trying to pass the Jeep at a high rate of speed.  The shooter so far has not been found or identified. 

Murder Charges Against New Carlisle Youth Still Pending

(St. Joseph County, IN) - A possible murder trial for a New Carlisle teenager has been put on hold until the court can rule on his mental state.  A hearing was held Thursday morning for a 14-year-old boy who is accused of molesting and strangling to death 6-year-old Grace Ross on March 12.

 

According to documents obtained by the South Bend Tribune, the boy told police that the little girl followed him into woods behind their apartment complex. There, he claimed, a “shadowy man” made him commit the crime.

 

Prosecutors are looking to try the boy in adult court.  At Thursday’s hearing, a judge ordered further psychological evaluation.  The boy’s competency to stand trial should be determined by July, with a possible trial to follow in August.

Tollway Drug Bust

(Porter County, IN) - Police scored another illegal drug bust on the Indiana Tollway this week.

 

At about 1:00 pm Thursday, State Police pulled over a car just west of the La Porte County line.  When their K9 sniffed something suspicious, police searched the vehicle and discovered approximately 4 kilograms of suspected Fentanyl, along with a large amount of cash.

 

The car’s two occupants, a 20-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman, both from Baltimore, Maryland, were taken to Porter County Jail.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Angie Nelson Deuitch

(LAPORTE, IN) -- Today's episode featured Michigan City Councilperson Angie Nelson Deuitch.

 

The conversation included topics like: 

  • Councilperson Deuitch's background
  • The aftermath of Mayor Duane Parry's controversial comments
  • Unemployment issues in Michigan City
  • Lake passes for Washington Park Beach
  • The Airbnb Culture in Michigan City
  • Surveillance cameras in Michigan City
  • ...and more

Listen to today's episode below: 

 

 

CREDITS: Jeff Wuggazer (Producer/Editor), Nate Loucks (Host), Angie Nelson Deuitch (Guest)

 

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.

No Stop in Gun Related Arrests

(Michigan City, IN) - Gun arrests in Michigan City continue to pile up.  The latest is a man who allegedly pointed a gun at somebody then pulled the trigger.  Jonathon Hodges allegedly did this at Green Acres Trailer Park on State Road 212.

 

According to police, the 28-year old Hodges pointed the gun at somebody then fired the handgun into the air last week.  He was arrested two days ago in the 1900 block of Tennessee Street on the city’s west side.

 

LaPorte County Prosecutor John Lake said over 120 gun related charges have been filed by his office in the past 18 months which is about twice the amount from the previous four years.

City Hall Reopening Soon

(La Porte, IN) - The doors of La Porte City Hall closed for more than a year because of coronavirus will open again to the public.  Beginning June 1, Mayor Tom Dermody said people will be allowed to enter as long as they wear a mask.  The building has been closed to the public since March of 2020 when the pandemic was in its early stages.

 

Dermody said he feels comfortable allowing the public to enter the building now that people are being vaccinated.  "Though we continued to serve the people of La Porte without interruption during the pandemic, we are eager take a step closer to normalcy and get to have some face time with our citizens," he said.

 

Dermody said there are virtual options still available for members of the public who do not feel comfortable yet doing business inside City Hall.  The options include the drive through service lane on the east side of City Hall and livestreamed meetings.

 

For questions or concerns, residents can contact the mayor's office at 219-362-0151.

Change in Culture Urged to Help Curb Gunfire

(Michigan City, IN) - Close to 100 people turned out last night to discuss the increase in gun use in Michigan City.  People felt the causes include lack of economic opportunity and behavior influenced by rap music.

 

Police Chief Dion Campbell said it’s time to force the wheels of change to start turning. “With anything, you have to be deliberate in building a culture. If you do not deliberately build the culture of Michigan City, then it will build itself, and we will have what we see now,” he said.

 

Campbell also spoke about the need for fathers to be more involved in the lives of their children to provide guidance away from negative influences leading them down paths of destruction.

 

According to Campbell, there were 10 homicides in Michigan City last year. He said the number of killings in previous years was in the single digits.

 

Pastor Jerry Passmore said it’s time for the church community to become more involved in saving lost souls. “Out of 70 churches in Michigan City, Indiana, you mean to tell me us pastors cannot get together and build unity for these young men and women in this community and work together to help.  We’re here to guide these people who are in trouble,” he said.

Citizen Ruth Pryor said some children turn to guns from being coddled too much nowadays. “Bring back the 'whoopins'. Spank them butts.  I’m old school,” she said.  

Upcoming Bridge Closure on Johnson Road

(La Porte County, IN) - An upcoming road closure could cause quite a few headaches locally.  According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, a bridge on Johnson Road is going to closed.  The bridge is the one above Interstate 94 near Michigan City.  Officials said the bridge deck is going to be sealed.

 

The bridge is going to be closed for two weeks beginning next Wednesday, according to INDOT officials. 

Education Outreach to Reduce Gun Use

(Michigan City, IN) Teaching kids how to be a man is one thing being done to reduce gun violence in Michigan City. 

 

Police Chief Dion Campbell said the recently started program about responsibility, principles, and conflict resolution is for troubled youth ages 13 to 17.  He said the effort involves law enforcement, the school system, and the religious community.  “We had three Saturdays in a row, and we made a heavy impact on some of the young men that were before us,” Campbell reported during Wednesday's meeting of the Michigan City Police Civil Service Commission. 

 

Campbell is scheduled to be one of the speakers at a town hall meeting this evening about the rise in gun violence and what’s being done about it.  That meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. at the Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church on E. 10th Street.

COVID Positivity Rate Ticks Back Up

(Indianapolis, IN) - The percentage of La Porte County residents testing positive for COVID-19 is up again.  According to the Indiana Department of Health, the seven-day positivity rate here is now 12-percent.  It was 12 percent a few weeks ago, then dipped below 10 percent recently.

 

Dr. Vidya Kora, who has a medical practice in Michigan City, said the positivity rate would be as high, perhaps, as 20-percent if people were not vaccinated.  La Porte County has the second-highest positivity rate in the state, while Starke County at 11-percent has the fourth-highest rate in the state, according to IDH.

 

Kora also encouraged people hesitant about being vaccinated to get immunized.  He said each of the 10 to 15 people hospitalized right now in Michigan City was not vaccinated.  He emphasized the vaccine, despite the myths, is safe and effective. 

 

Kora said the fears are often driven by misinformation.   “I think the people need to just refresh their basic science and biology rather than just relying on Facebook posts of people who don’t know what in the hell they are talking about,” he said.

Charges in Motor Vehicle Fatality

(La Porte County, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with a fatal motor vehicle crash in La Porte County last year.  61-year old Arthur McNeeley is expected to make his initial appearance in La Porte Circuit Court on Friday.  He’s charged with reckless homicide and two other counts.

 

According to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, the Mishawaka man hit the back end of a vehicle on U.S. 20 and 200 East. McNeeley then veered over the center line and struck an oncoming vehicle. 62-year old Brian Klingerman drove the second vehicle he hit.  Police said the man from Bremen later died from injuries sustained in the November crash.

 

McNeeley was arrested yesterday following a several-month-long investigation.

12-Year Olds Now Vaccine Eligible

(Indianapolis, IN) - Children as young as 12 years old can now receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Indiana.  According to state health officials, children ages 12 to 15 are now eligible.

 

Only the Pfizer vaccine can be given to that age group for right now because it’s the only vaccine the Federal Drug Administration has approved for use in people younger than 18.

 

State Health officials said just over two million Hoosiers are now fully vaccinated.

New Basketball Coach for Satellites

(Union Mills, IN) - A former high school basketball coach in La Porte County is returning to the sidelines.

 

Ben Anderson is the new girl's varsity basketball coach at South Central High School. Currently, Anderson is the high school principal.

 

He was an assistant coach for the boy's varsity team at La Porte High School when the Slicers won the sectional title in 2014.

 

The South Central Satellite girls nearly made the state finals two years ago.  Anderson takes over for Wes Bucher, who stepped down in February.

Son of Police Officer Charged

(Michigan City, IN) - An outside investigation has resulted in charges related to a stolen gun.  The alleged offender is the son of a high ranking officer with the Michigan City Police Department.  David Ashley, Jr. is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with theft.

 

According to court documents, he stole a handgun at the YMCA in La Porte last year and tried selling it to the gun owner's brother.  The buyer he allegedly targeted recognized the gun as the one stolen from his brother, according to Indiana State Police. 

 

Indiana State Police conducted the investigation at the request of Mayor Duane Parry because the suspect is the son of Michigan City Police Assistant Chief Jillian Ashley. 

 

According to court documents, her son wanted $250 for the stolen gun.  He’s also charged with carrying a handgun without a permit.

Local Official Dies Unexpectedly

(La Porte County, IN) - People are mourning the death of elected official locally.  Coolspring Township Trustee Jackie Atwater passed away Sunday.  She was 69.

 

Coolspring Township Assistant Fire Chief Warren Smith said her death was totally unexpected.  “I had no idea she was sick.  I got a phone call today that she had passed away,” he said.  Smith described Atwater as a good township trustee and very pleasant in her interactions with people.  “She was just a  very nice lady,” he said.,

 

A celebration of life service is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Coleman and Hicks

Funeral Home on Karwick Road in Michigan City.

OWI Drama Ends in Jail Time

(La Porte, IN) - A little time behind bars might be just what the doctor ordered for a drunk driver who allegedly physically assaulted a La Porte police officer.  Melissa Fiscus was given 10 days in the La Porte County Jail for Level 6 felony operating while intoxicated.  The remainder of her 18 month sentence will be served on community corrections.

 

According to police, Fiscus in November was passed out in the driver’s seat of a car in a gas station parking lot.  Police said she pulled into the gas station after witnessed driving very erratically. 

 

Police said when she was taken into custody, Fiscus repeatedly kicked a police officer in the legs and threatened to “cut” another police officer if she ever located her on the streets.  According to Police, the woman also began coughing and claimed she had COVID-19 in her failed efforts to avoid being taken to the slammer. 

 

Fiscus had a blood alcohol level of .192-percent or well above the .08-percent legal limit.  She has had at least one other prior OWI conviction. 

 

Sisters Step Up to Save Parade

(La Porte, IN) - Two sisters are viewed by some people as Santa Claus saving Christmas by making it possible for La Porte to have a July 4th parade this year.  However, Dawn and Joy Zigler don’t quite look at it that way.

 

The Ziglers were contacted by Mayor Tom Dermody when he learned the La Porte Jaycees would not host the parade this year because declining membership left the group too shorthanded to do all of the work involved in putting together and hosting the parade.  The Jaycees have hosted the parade since the late 1940’s.

 

The Kiwanis Club of La Porte is taking over as hosts of the parade for at least this year.  The Zigler’s were heavily involved in the parade when they were members of the Jaycees but they’re no longer eligible to be with the group since the Jaycees is for people 40 and under.

 

Joy Zigler said she and her sister agreed to provide the leadership necessary for putting together and hosting the parade for the Kiwanis Club.  She said there are plenty of elves involved in keeping alive the rich La Porte tradition.  “I don’t know if I would call us saviors.  It’s the support and teamwork of everyone else involved,” Zigler said.

 

Zigler said among the other people involved are current and former members of the Jaycees.  “It’s kind of an all hands on deck. It’s the community that’s going to be the saviors not necessarily Dawn and I,” she said.

 

The Jaycees are still hosting the Fourth of July fireworks at the fairgrounds.

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