Local News

More New Housing for La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - There appears to be no end to what could be viewed as a housing boom in La Porte.


The city council Monday night approved an agreement with the developer to extend water and sewer lines to a more than 30 acre wooded parcel where construction of over 100 homes is planned.


The site annexed into the city last year is on Park St. near the Thomas Rose Industrial Park on the city’s northeast side.


New housing was a high priority for Mayor Tom Dermody during his first term in office and that hasn’t changed for his next four years beginning January 1.


One of his strategies for growth in the city is updating a housing stock built primarily before 1940 with new homes at all price levels.  Just 20 percent of existing homes were constructed since 1980.


“We got a lot more work to do but housing, housing, housing is here,” he said.


The developer, Park Street Community, LLC, plans to build 118 town homes and 19 more traditional single family dwellings with a current estimated price range from $340,000 to $405,000 apiece.


La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership Executive Director Bert Cook said close to a dozen homes will likely go up at a time over a period of years beginning in 2024.


Construction of more homes will probably begin once the completed ones are sold, he said.


Cook said the current demand from people wanting to live in La Porte has probably existed for several decades.


However, he said lack of housing options caused by very little construction of new residences drove many of those would be residents to other communities with a greater selection of newer dwellings. Some of the people wanting to live here but went elsewhere have been with new companies that came to La Porte.


“We have to continue to find ways of bringing new product to the market.  This project does exactly that,” he said.


Since 2020, the new housing completed includes The Banks consisting of 200 resort type apartments near Clear Lake and several town homes priced at more than $700,000 apiece beside Fish Trap Lake.


Roughly 40 affordable units inside the once condemned Monroe St. Apartments building downtown have been restored and modernized.


Low to mid-priced homes are currently going up at the former Tibma Bakery site on Woodward St. and on 18th St. across from Kesling Middle School.


More new housing continues to be added to the existing Whispering Pines subdivision along Indiana 4 on the city’s southeast side.


Right now, the city is soliciting bids from developers to construct more than 100 upscale homes along the municipally owned Beechwood Golf Course starting next year.


The results of a study released nearly a year ago recommended the city add more than 900 homes for ownership and over 750 rental units over the next few years.  The study also pointed to a need to renovate some of the existing residential structures.


Cook said a lot of work remains but the newly approved development noticeably moves the needle toward achieving the new housing goal.


“This is easily one of the largest residential developments that has occurred in La Porte in probably the last 40-years, probably longer than that,” he said.


The developer is the same one whose request for a zoning change to construct homes on 166 acres near Rolling Prairie was turned down last year by the La Porte County Commissioners.


The concerns were over density and the site’s close proximity to farmland along with urban sprawl.


Cook said the city quickly approached the rejected developer about building homes in the city.


John Kavchak of Park Street Communities, LLC said he looks forward to helping the city fill the wide gap between housing supply and demand.


“La Porte continues to implement strong, pro-growth policies.  We seek to support La Porte’s growth by providing housing at the intersection of quality and price point,” he said.

Bank Robbery Killer Dies on Death Row

(Terre Haute, IN) - A Michigan City man who killed two bank tellers during a robbery over 20 years ago has died prior to his execution.


Authorities report that Odell Corley was found dead Friday at a federal prison in Terre Haute. Corley was on death row for the fatal shootings committed while robbing a bank in The Pines in 2002.  A bank security guard was also shot, paralyzed from the neck down.


All individuals involved were shot in less than 30 seconds after he entered the bank along U.S. 12.


Corley was sentenced to die, but was still appealing the sentence when he ultimately perished. He was allegedly found unresponsive and failed to respond to life-saving attempts. 

Next President at Notre Dame from Michigan City

(South Bend, IN) - The new president chosen for the University of Notre Dame will be a Michigan City native.


Robert Dowd will assume the position on July 1st, replacing Father John Jenkins, who’s been president of the university for 19 years.


Dowd graduated from Marquette High School in 1983 and from Notre Dame four years later. He has been described as an athlete, having also been involved in performing arts and student council in his days at Marquette High School.

Chart Topping Country Singer Coming to Fair

(La Porte County, IN) - A major country music hitmaker is coming to the La Porte County Fair next year, as Chris Young is now scheduled to perform on Wednesday, July 10th.


Young has several number-one hits, including “The Man I Want To Be” and “Tomorrow,” along with several top 5 hits during his over decade-long career.


Tickets go on sale beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Prices will range from $35 for grandstand seats to $60 for seats in The Pit.

Union Mills Elevator Expanding

(Union Mills, IN) - Farmers in parts of northern Indiana and southwest Michigan should be served better by a $6.6 million expansion of a Co-Alliance fertilizer hub.


Work has begun on refurbishing and expanding the fertilizer portion of the plant in Union Mills after the LaPorte County Council last week unanimously approved a five-year tax abatement on the project.


The goal is for the work to be completed in the fall of 2024, said Paul Wolfe, who’s overseeing the project as the Region 4 Agronomy Manager for Indianapolis-based Co-Alliance.


“This is a tight timeline to get this completed,” he said.


Co-Alliance is a farmer-owner cooperative with about 80 facilities serving growers in Indiana, southern Michigan, and western Ohio by providing fertilizer and grain storage along with agronomy services.


The project strictly involves the fertilizer portion of the plant at 3551 West 800 South.


Wolfe said the existing facility with a capacity to store 24,000 tons of fertilizer will be refurbished and added onto to store another 9,000 tons of fertilizer.


The fertilizer mixing equipment inside the existing tower will be replaced with state-of-the-art mixing technology capable of doing things that can’t be done by the current system, in addition to a faster pace.


For example, Wolfe said, different products will allowed to be mixed into the fertilizer ingredients for offering more nutrient varieties. He said the new system will also be able to feed each of the storage bays independently, a time saver for making available freshly mixed products.


Three storage bays will also be added to the existing six storage bays.


“We’re just going to replace that mixing system with one that will allow us to be more efficient and use products we cannot use today,” he said.


Wolfe said the new technology will also allow trucks hauling 24 tons of fertilizer to the plant to be unloaded a little quicker than the “five to six minutes” it takes presently.


The Union Mills facility is one of four fertilizer hubs Co-Alliance uses to distribute soil nutrients farmers can purchase at five of its branches in LaPorte County, Porter County, Argos, and Buchanan, Michigan.


Amy Kinsler, Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for Co-Alliance, called the investment critical for keeping up with the future by eliminating delays that can occur in farmers receiving products exactly when they need them.


She said farmers need fertilizer sooner nowadays because modern technology allows them to plant and harvest quickly.  As a result, Kinsler said, it’s gradually become more challenging to provide them with crop nutrients at the moment it’s needed, though, under the current processing system.


“This is that investment to allow us to make sure we’re not holding them up when it comes to harvest and planting,” she said.


Wolfe said the plant in Union Mills has a separate facility with a capacity to store up to about three million bushels of grain, which is about average for a Co-Alliance facility.


Currently, Co-Alliance has about 25 other ongoing projects at its facilities in all three states, said Ryan Satchell, Capital Asset Manager for the cooperative. He said all of the projects, based on the needs of farmers in each of their service areas, are different than what’s occurring at Union Mills and they vary from large to small in size.


“We’re constantly looking at really understanding from our customer base, which is our members, what their needs are and how we can continue to reinvest in our business to support that,” Satchell said.


Matt Reardon, Director for the LaPorte County Office of Economic Development, applauded the decision to grant tax abatement, saying that existing businesses might not always provide a home run in terms of job creation, but they definitely contribute to the health of local economies, particularly in rural areas.


“These are the blocking, tackling kinds of activities that help make local governments successful. $6.6 million is not insignificant,” he said.


Co-Alliance has about 20 employees in Union Mills with a handful of those working in the fertilizer division.

"Ballerina" Arrested for OWI

(La Porte County, IN) - Police say a suspected impaired fish-tailing driver began dancing like a ballerina prior to being placed in handcuffs in Westville.


Kelley Hoffman, 45, of Cedar Lake has been charged with Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated.


According to La Porte County Police, she was operating a pick-up truck before being stopped after turning from Indiana 2 onto Flynn Road at speeds fast enough to cause the back end of her vehicle to fishtail.


She was also reportedly driving without her headlights on just after 2 a.m. Thursday, the outside of the vehicle splattered with mud.


After the officer requested she walk a straight line as part of the process for determining impairment, Hoffman allegedly told the officer she was a ballerina before proceeding to act as if she were such, with both arms on top of her head while tiptoeing on her feet.


Police said Hoffman was arrested after refusing to submit to a certified blood alcohol test and for driving on a suspended license. In addition, she was given a warning ticket for unsafe starting and no headlights on display.


About an hour later, the vehicle she operated was reported stolen in Merrillville.

Slicers Pop Warner Team in National Final Four

(La Porte, IN) - A youth football team from La Porte has a chance to become national champions as the Pop Warner team, consisting of nine-year-olds, has made it to the Final Four in their age group.


Right now, the coaching staff and players are in Orlando, Florida having fun and preparing for their next game.  Last year, the undefeated Slicers lost in the state finals but this year won the state title.


Head Coach Mike Nelson said he’s only somewhat surprised at how deep his team has gone in the tournament.


“I got a real good group of kids. They work hard on the field, they listen to the coaches, their parents bring them to practices and we practice in the rain, snow, and sleet. Any field time we can get we practice. They’re just a real hungry group of nine-year-olds.   They get after it,” he said.


His son, Ben Nelson, is the quarterback.


Other key players include Colton Rogers, a big play-making running back on offense and tackle-making machine as a linebacker on defense.


Nelson said the team is well-balanced in all areas of the game.


“We’ve got some big guys up front.  We got some guys who can run fast.  I would definitely say we’re a run-first team but we can air the ball out if we need to,” he said.


The Slicers play again tomorrow morning, where a win would mean playing for the national title later in the week.

New Buffalo Schools Join Social Media Lawsuit

(New Buffalo, MI) - The school district in New Buffalo has joined a nationwide lawsuit against Facebook and other social media platforms.


The lawsuit alleges that social media companies failed to protect the mental health of students, interfering with student learning in the process. Even more specifically, the lawsuit claims teachers and counselors are increasingly having to redirect educational time and resources to manage students’ mental health emergencies.


More than 800 school districts are represented in the lawsuit, which calls for social media platforms to implement safeguards.


The U.S. Surgeon General is also involved in the matter, recommending schools incorporate digital and media literacy into education to reduce the risks of social media.

Fire Damage Heavy in La Porte Apartments

(La Porte, IN) - Fire caused significant damage to two housing units last night at the Maple Tree Apartments in La Porte.


La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder reported that the fire began after 5 p.m. in a main-level apartment, spreading to the unit directly above it at 1405 West 18th Street.


Per Snyder, residents in the home where the fire started tried putting out the flames before someone from one of the units ran and notified firefighters, who were already on the scene for a medical-related call.


He felt having a fire truck already on the scene kept from the fire from possibly spreading into the other units.


“In the case of fire, time is everything,” he said.


Snyder said damage was substantial to both units, which will be uninhabitable for quite some time until repairs can be completed. The rest of the building, containing about a dozen or so apartments, was evacuated but those residents were allowed to return to their homes after the fire was extinguished.


The fire started in a bedroom, possibly from a child playing with a cigarette lighter, but an official ruling has not yet been made.


“That is a possibility right now. It’s still an open investigation at this time,” he said.

Tour Sheds Light on House's "Lost History"

(La Porte, IN) - Every old house has a story, and a few secrets. This weekend’s Christmas Candlelight Tour in downtown La Porte featured six historic homes. They’re all dressed up for the holidays, and their owners were eager to tell the tales that otherwise vanish in the wrinkles of time.


One home, in particular, has a secret or three that had gone unnoticed until a local history buff did a little digging recently. Tim Stabosz is a member of Preserve Historic La Porte and a co-organizer of the Christmas Candlelight Tour. In preparing the event’s program, Stabosz uncovered some fascinating history behind the home of Tim and Hannah Schroll on 1502 Indiana Avenue.


For starters, the house, built in 1895, didn’t always reside at the corner of Indiana and Webber Street. It was moved there 32 years ago from 1504 Lincolnway.


On November 26, 1991, La Porteans might have rubbed their eyes and done a double-take to see a dilapidated two-story Queen-Anne-style house slowly creep east on Lincolnway Avenue like a Macy’s parade float. At that time, Tim and Kathy Neff were in the market for a historic home. “The Neffs were starting a family,” Stabosz said, “and they had originally looked at buying the house in the late 1980s, in situ.  But that Lincolnway location was not ideal for family living, then, especially with the 1506 Lincolnway house next door operating as an adult bookstore,” Stabosz ruefully observed.  "So, the Neffs decided to pass.”


When Horizon Bank bought various properties for its current location, Stabosz said, the Neffs agreed to buy the historic home on the cheap, as long as they agreed to move it. “People don’t realize what is involved in a house move,” said Stabosz.  “Stoplights have to be unbolted and pivoted out of the way, various utility lines need to be lowered temporarily, and trees need to be trimmed, on the fly, en route.” According to Stabosz, the house moving company offered to allow the Neffs to ride inside the house during its trip, but they declined.


The house crawled up Lincolnway, then made a right turn down Indiana Avenue. After about seven hours, it came to rest at the 1502 lot which the Neffs had purchased from Hallie Fox (daughter-in-law of Samuel Fox, who donated land for the park named after him). The Samuel Fox mansion had been razed in 1971, and the spot was a prime location for another chapter in La Porte residential architecture.


However, the house’s origins intrigued Stabosz, who dug deeper into its past, uncovering something that seemingly no one else had. In researching property deed history, Stabosz found that the home was originally built by the Larson brothers, co-founders of Larson-Danielson Construction. No records indicate that any Larsons lived in the house, so it may have been built as a model home to showcase their craftsmanship. Their company would go on to leave its mark in La Porte with historic structures such as the New York Central Railroad Depot (1909), YMCA (1910), Rumely Hotel (1912), First United Methodist Church (1929), and the Civic Auditorium (1930).


The discovery came as a surprise to current-day family members. “Even when I called 4th generation Larson family patriarch, Tim Larson,” said Stabosz, “he was completely unaware that the 1504 and 1506 Main Street locations represented the first record of any property ownership in La Porte County by his great grandfather (Frank) and great uncle (Charles), respectively.  In a very real sense, this is where it all started.”


But for Stabosz the history lesson wasn’t over. In the rabbit hole of local history, where way leads on to way, he researched the home’s subsequent residents. One of them stood out.


Ralph N. Smith probably won’t be featured in the next La Porte coloring book or on a La Porte-opoly game board, but in his day, Smith was a big deal. In 1907, while Smith was settling into the lovely Larson-built home, Belle Gunness, across town, was up to no good. A year later, Smith, as La Porte County’s Prosecutor, oversaw the sensational Gunness case that captured headlines nationwide. According to Smith’s 1935 obituary, he may have been the most widely known prosecutor in the country at the time.


But that was then. The present is just history in the making. Tim and Kathy Neff raised three daughters in the home on 1502 Indiana. In 2020 the Schrolls purchased it from Tim Neff’s estate and are raising their two small children there. According to Stabosz, Hannah Schroll had herself been raised in an 1890s-era Queen Anne house in Zeeland, Michigan, and finding something similar in La Porte was a dream come true.


On Saturday and Sunday, the Schrolls opened their home to visitors who stepped back in time to rediscover what Stabosz calls “lost history.” But the importance of it is not lost on Stabosz. “One of the reasons I decided to take on researching that specific house is because I knew it would be more involved,” he said.


Preserve Historic La Porte president Mark Kurth added, “The houses and structures on the tour tell a story of the people who built La Porte.   I am proud of the hard work that all of our researchers have done, to permanently document that history.  These written histories make the past relevant and more accessible, and are, in themselves, our gift to the city.”


The Christmas Candlelight Tour resumed in La Porte after a three-year-hiatus. Hopefully it will return next year with more beautiful homes and more stories to tell.

New Fire Chief Named for Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City is getting a new fire chief.


Mayor-elect Angie Nelson Deuitch will be making a change in administration when she takes office in January. Barrett Taylor will be assuming the fire department's top spot. Taylor, a 20-year veteran of the department, is currently a captain and has served as president of the firefighters’ union. He is a certified EMT and safety instructor. Prior to joining MCFD, Taylor was a firefighter in the U.S. Air Force.


Shannon Borders will be promoted to deputy chief of operations. Borders is a 21-year fire protection veteran, having served in Michigan city since 2012.


Frank Rebac will continue as deputy chief of administrative services.

Michigan City Man Wanted by Police

(La Porte County, IN) - The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office is on the lookout for a wanted felon.


61-year-old Marshall Glenn of Michigan City has amassed a collection of active warrants for felonies including Intimidation, Pointing a Firearm, Residential Entry, and Mutilating an Animal. Misdemeanors such as Criminal Mischief, Battery, Fraud, and Animal Cruelty round out the charges, which date back to 2019.


The Sheriff’s Office says it’s time for Mr. Glenn to get right with the law, so they are asking the public for information on his whereabouts. To help please contact the Fugitive Apprehension Street Team (219-608-9572) or Michiana Crimestoppers (800-342-7867).

Healthcare Foundation Grants Top the Million Mark

(La Porte, IN) - Healthcare Foundation of La Porte announces 33 grants totaling $1,416,149 have been awarded in cycle 2 of 2023. 


Each year, HFL makes grants during two grant cycles to advance the strategic priorities of Healthy Children, Healthy Living, and Healthy Minds.


Additionally, HFL makes Healthy La Porte grants to respond to community needs outside of the strategic priorities that demonstrate a connection to HFL’s mission and vision: empowering La Porte County residents to live healthy and well so that La Porte can be one of the top 10 healthiest communities in Indiana by 2030.  


The 2023 grant cycle 2 brought a diverse array of grant requests for projects and programs.


11 Healthy Children grants totaling $687,423; 7 Healthy Living grants totaling $274,680; 5 Healthy Minds grants totaling $334,300; and 10 Healthy La Porte grants totaling $119,746 were awarded in cycle 2.   


With this latest round of grants, HFL has invested more than $41 million in the community since its first grant cycle in November 2017.  


The latest grants are going to the following:





Friends of the La Porte County Public Library’s Books in the Home of Every Child – Dolly Parton Imagination Library - $45,000 over 3 years ($15,000 per year)  

The Friends of the La Porte County Public Library applied for a grant to expand their community literacy efforts through the Dolly Parton Imagination Library program. The Dolly Parton Imagination Library mails a free book each month to children enrolled in the program from birth through age five, no matter their family’s income. Each book includes parent-reading tips to increase interaction and strengthen family bonds during book time. The 3-year, $45,000 Healthy Children grant will allow The Friends of the Library to increase enrollment from 25% of eligible children to 50% of eligible children in La Porte County.  


The first five years of life are critical for healthy child development. Reading to children helps to build language skills, stimulates their imagination, expands their understanding of the world, and provides an opportunity for parents and children to connect. Through this grant, the Friends of the Library will get age-appropriate books on the nightstands of La Porte County children. 


On behalf of Friends of the Library, Dr. Krystal Simpson stated, “Without funding, this project would not be able to grow and may have been at risk of being discontinued. We are grateful to HFL for helping us with this endeavor so that more children in our area can benefit from this wonderful program.”  


To enroll a child in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, visit


Dental Equipment for HealthLinc’s new Michigan City Clinic - $75,000 

A $75,000 2023 Cycle 2 Healthy Children grant was awarded to HealthLinc to provide 12 dental chairs for a new state-of-the-art clinic in Michigan City. The new clinic, which is currently under construction, will allow HealthLinc to expand access to care in La Porte County as HealthLinc’s current clinics in La Porte and Michigan City can no longer meet patient demand. With this project, HealthLinc will further implement its services to provide vital dental care to La Porte County patients and families.   


This project aligns with HFL's strategic priority of Healthy Children and the work of Partners for Healthier Babies as research suggests that there may be a link between oral health and premature birth and low birth weight, which are associated with higher infant mortality risk and increased risk of long-term health issues for baby.  


“Many of our patients lack access to quality dental care, which is vital to preventing serious health issues,” states Beth Wrobel, CEO of HealthLinc. “We are grateful for the generous support from the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte.” 


The new HealthLinc clinic is located at 200 Alfred Avenue, Michigan City, and is scheduled to be completed in early 2024. For more information about the HealthLinc Michigan City clinic, contact Jodie Wexelberg at jwexelberg@healthlincchc.org.   





Knapp Elementary All “IN”clusive Playground - $192,794 

HFL awarded a grant to Michigan City Area Schools (MCAS) to support Knapp Elementary’s All “IN”clusive Playground. Knapp serves 383 students and is home to a developmental preschool and two Autism programs. Although many of the students at Knapp have physical, sensory, or cognitive challenges, neither of Knapp's two existing playgrounds, one for younger children and one for older children, are ADA-compliant nor inclusive.  


The HFL grant will support the revamping of both playgrounds. The project includes replacing the school’s existing playground for older students and building it closer to the school to increase safety and security. The project will also add inclusive playground pieces to the playground for younger children to increase accessibility. Finally, pour-in-place rubber surfacing will be installed for both playgrounds, making the playgrounds accessible and safe for all children. 

The goal is to break ground in the summer of 2024 with all projects completed before school resumes for the 2024-25 school year. 


“As Knapp lies within the city limits, it is enjoyed daily not only by Knapp's students but the surrounding community members as well,” said Chris Kiser, MCAS Occupational Therapist.? “Becoming an inclusive playground with updated safe, and stable equipment will benefit the physical and mental health of many residents. The staff, students, and families of Knapp Elementary are excited for this endeavor to come to fruition soon.” 





Citizens Concerned for the Homeless Sand Castle Shelter for Homeless Families Renovation Project, Phase 2 - $50,000 Challenge Grant

Citizens Concerned for the Homeless (CCH) received a Challenge Grant for phase 2 of the renovation project of the 110-year-old Sand Castle Shelter for Homeless Families building. Sand Castle Shelter is a residential facility that serves homeless families and single women in La Porte County.  


Phase 1 of the renovations focused on exterior improvements, with a new roof, complete tuckpointing, and a new concrete driveway and patio. The work of Phase 1 was completed in summer 2023. 


Phase 2, set to begin in early spring 2024, will focus on the building's interior, upgrading plumbing and electrical, remodeling four bathrooms and the kitchen, and restoring all original floors and woodwork within the building.  


This $50,000 award is a Challenge Grant, meaning Citizens Concerned for the Homeless needs to raise $50,000 from the community in support of the project to receive the grant funds from HFL. CCH plans to launch a fundraising campaign to unlock this opportunity and a dollar-for-dollar match for the project. 


CCH Executive Director Jim Musial said, “HFL has been an unbelievable partner to CCH. In addition to funding CCH with general operation support, HFL helped us launch our food rescue program, helped us purchase a refrigeration truck, funded the build-out of a teaching kitchen at CCH's Grace Learning Center, and many other projects. HFL is much more than just a funding organization. They are a proactive community partner and one we are proud to call our friend.” 

New Evidence Alleges Intent to Kill

(Michigan City, IN) - A more serious charge is now faced by a Michigan City woman who fatally struck her husband with a motor vehicle.


Miranda Eggleston Suarez, 34, was originally charged with Level 4 felony Leaving the Scene of an Accident Causing Death in connection with the October 2nd incident.


New evidence in the case, presented in La Porte Superior Court 1 on Wednesday, illustrated how her actions were allegedly intentional.  Judge Jamie Oss found the new evidence was sufficient enough for Suarez to have to answer to the more serious allegations. 


As a result, Suarez is now facing the additional Level 2 felony charge of Voluntary Manslaughter, which carries a sentencing range of 10 to 30 years.


Kyle Suarez, 24, was found unresponsive in the parking lot of the Tall Timbers apartment complex on Springland Avenue, just west of Indiana 212.


Police said he was involved in an altercation in the parking lot where his spouse, wanting to leave, drove into her husband before fleeing the scene, later returning, and being taken into custody.

Death from Drugs Appeal Unsuccessful

(Indianapolis, IN) - A LaPorte man convicted of Drug Dealing Resulting in Death has lost his appeal.


Devante King, 31, was sentenced to 30 years in prison for selling the heroin that caused the March 6th, 2020, overdose death of 26-year-old Anthony Comeno, who was found dead in the bathroom of his grandparents' home in Michigan City, according to court records.


In his appeal, King argued that prosecutors failed to present sufficient evidence to convict him of drug dealing, resulting in a death and a drug dealing charge.


However, the appeals court ruled King and Comeno exchanged text messages on their phones to arrange the heroin buy, and that other evidence showed that King and Comeno met at a gas station to complete the deal.


"A reasonable jury could have readily concluded from the state's evidence that King delivered heroin to Comeno as charged," the court said.


King still can ask the Indiana Supreme Court to consider reviewing his case. Otherwise, his earliest possible release date from prison is in October of 2042.


La Porte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan applauded the ruling of the appellate judges.


"Good, strong evidence is what convinces juries and wins trials. The Court of Appeals saw that and upheld the conviction,” he said.


Fagan also credited members of his staff for presenting a solid case. 


“I was proud of the job my team did back in March when we got the guilty verdict and this is just further proof,” he said.

Mayor Vows to Keep Pushing for Change

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody vowed to be just as aggressive during his next term in trying to get the city where it needs to be during his annual State of the City speech.


During his half-hour presentation Thursday night, Dermody largely touched upon what he cited as achievements this year, in areas like new housing construction, infrastructure upgrades, code enforcement, and quality of life.


Dermody, elected to a second term in a landslide on November 7th, also promised to not let up on the gas pedal to keep narrowing a wide gap on what needs addressing.


“We’ve accomplished a lot but we are not done.  I believe we have restored hope and confidence in what La Porte can be and if we all are relentless we will succeed. Together we are La Porte proud,” he said.


Dermody noted that the accomplishments of his administration this year included over five miles of new sidewalks, separating stormwater and sewer lines on I Street, filling 5,600 potholes compared to 3,800 in 2022, along with additional new housing construction at all price ranges to draw more residents.


Dermody referred to a study showing that just 20 percent of current homes in the city were built after 1980.


“We need a minimum of 900 for sale market-rate housing units and at least 750 rental housing units. We have work to do but we are making progress,” he said.


Among the new housing construction scheduled to begin in 2024 is a development called Beechwood Lakes, consisting of 100 or more high-quality homes surrounding the municipally owned Beechwood Golf Course.

Another 28 housing units will be constructed soon by Steiner Homes on 18th Street.


He also revealed that work to convert a former Coca-Cola bottling plant on Rumely Street into 16 housing units for people transitioning from homelessness is scheduled to begin in May.                         


The industrial and commercial successes this year cited by Dermody included another spec building under construction at the Thomas Rose Industrial Park, as well as the openings of Biggby Coffee, Pizzeria Uno, and a restaurant overlooking Pine Lake called The Drift.


Dermody brought up other highlights this year, including access throughout the city to even higher speed internet through a partnership with provider Surf Internet in addition to hiring more police officers and taking actions like cracking down on drug dealers.


“We will continue to make drug traffickers in our community uncomfortable and unwelcome,” he reassured.


Dermody said 3,500 citations were written this year for code violations, which reflects his ongoing commitment to improving the appearance of shabby-looking homes and other structures.


He also praised code enforcement and the police for working together to shut down the former La Porte Pantry convenience store at 102 Lincolnway, describing the business as a longtime “crime hot spot” before shutting its doors several months ago.


“We will not look the other way,” he said.


Dermody also gave high marks to the city’s annual dumpster program, which is free to the public for discarding unwanted items like old mattresses and furniture.


“We have dumped almost two million pounds of trash this year,” he said.


After the speech, La Porte County Councilman Randy Novak praised Dermody for the speed at which positive things are happening in the city.


He said other mayors have tried, but fallen short of the pace of change that is needed.


“When he talks La Porte proud, there’s no better champion for that. He really, really talks the talk and walks the walk. He’s got things going. He puts LaPorte first in everything,” he said.


The speech, given at the La Porte Civic Auditorium, was attended by roughly 200 people.

Not Guilty Verdict in Child Seduction Case

(La Porte, IN) - A former LaPorte High School coach has been found not guilty of inappropriately touching one of the students in the Winter Guard program.


The verdict was delivered on November 28 by a jury, following a two-day trial in LaPorte Circuit Court.


Medrano was accused of inappropriately touching a 16-year-old female student at LaPorte High School during the 2019-2020 school year, with charges being filed against Medrano the following year after the girl came forward with the allegations.


He was the Winter Guard coach and she was one of the student performers.


In a prepared statement, Medrano said “I am so grateful to the jury for seeing the truth. I feel vindicated but also saddened because I can never get back the last two years of my life.”  


Despite the verdict, he said “I will probably never coach again. It’s unfortunate because I was very proud of my work, and it had brought me so much joy and fulfillment for over 30 years.”


Medrano was employed by LaPorte High School for more than two decades, serving as a coach for the school’s Color and Winter Guard programs.


He commuted her from Chicago.


According to court documents, the girl told police his hands were placed strictly on the outside of her clothing and it happened often before and after practice when nobody was around during the 2019 season.


The investigation also found a then 61-year-old Medrano allegedly had the girl try on several low cut V neck outfits and told her things like “you’re hot."

Upcoming Food Drive for Holidays

(Michigan City, IN) - There will be a food drive in Michigan City this weekend to help families during the Christmas season.


The Salvation Army is hosting its annual Stuff-A-Sleigh food drive at both Al’s Supermarket locations in Michigan City on Saturday.


Major Dale Simmons, of the Michigan City Salvation Army, said that demand for food assistance has gone up by about 20 percent since last year.


“We’ve been serving more than 500 local families every month through our different programs.  We haven’t seen these kinds of numbers since the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.


The Stuff-A-Sleigh program is this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Customers are invited to purchase pre-packed bags of food for $7 per bag to donate to the Salvation Army food pantry.  Each bag will contain pantry staples like pasta and sauce, vegetables, canned tuna fish, beans, soup, and macaroni and cheese. Monetary donations can also be made at the register.


Anyone wanting to volunteer for this and other future events can contact the Salvation Army of Michigan City at (219) 874-6885 ext. 1003.

New Truck Stop Opening Soon

(La Porte County, IN) - A new truck stop just outside of Michigan City should be opening next month.


Love’s Travel Stop, which has more than 600 locations in over 40 states, is on U.S. 421, just south of Interstate 94.


Construction was made possible by extending water and sewer lines underneath the interstate to the site, close to the old Waste Management landfill.


Matt Reardon, who’s in charge of economic development for the La Porte County government, said construction plans were first submitted several years ago, but it took time to veer around unexpected roadblocks in the development.

“It’s a challenging site. I mean it’s hard to identify people that want to build next to a landfill, but this is right off the highway and fairly appropriate for that location,” he said.


The closest Love’s Travel Stop locations to La Porte County are in Gary, Plymouth, De Motte, and South Holland, Illinois.


Love's Travel Stop is expected to open its new location in mid-December.

Havens Vying to Replace Retiring Judge

(La Porte, IN) - After maintaining a longtime presence in courtrooms, La Porte County Deputy Prosecutor Julianne Havens is now vying for the seat La Porte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos is vacating after serving the final year of his three six-year terms on the bench in 2024.


Alevizos, a former city council member in Michigan City and former state representative, chose not to seek reelection.


Havens, citing her extensive trial experience, recently announced her candidacy for the position. The 1991 graduate of the Valparaiso University School of Law said she has prosecuted cases before at least 20 different judges in northern Indiana since becoming a deputy prosecutor in La Porte County in 1992.


She continued her prosecuting career in St. Joseph County and Starke County before returning to practice law as a public defender in La Porte County in 2011 and working with the La Porte County Prosecutor’s Office since 2015.


During her career, Havens said she has formulated unique insights into the qualities that make an effective judge and vowed to be guided by the values of honesty, fairness, and hard work that had been instilled into her by her parents.

State of City Speech Tonight

(La Porte, IN.) - La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody will give his annual State of the City speech tonight.


Several hundred people are expected to attend.


La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership Executive Director Bert Cook said the mayor will discuss the successes of his administration this year, and paint a picture of what’s planned in 2024.


“There’s quite a bit there. We got a lot of important initiatives that will continue on,” he said.


The State of the City speech is scheduled from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. this evening at the La Porte Civic Auditorium.

Gunman, 16, Charged as An Adult

(Michigan City, IN) - A teenager is being charged as an adult in connection with recent gunfire in Michigan City.


Ja’Narri Garrett-Coleman, 16, has been accused of shooting a home in the 1900 block of Tennessee Street on November 20th. There were reportedly people inside the structure, but nobody was injured.


That same day, gunshots were also fired at a home where Garrett-Coleman resides in the 600 block of Russell Street. The boy returned fire at the gunman, who was inside a motor vehicle driving by the residence, per authorities.


Police have noted that Garrett-Coleman is a gang member who has been the target of several gun-related incidents this year.


He has been charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with two counts of Criminal Recklessness and Child in Possession of a Firearm, all Level 5 felonies. 


Last year, the boy was found guilty in juvenile court of Dangerous Possession of a Gun.


La Porte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan said the decision to try the case in adult court was made over concerns about the juvenile’s criminal history. His office has, earlier this year, also taken a tougher stand on gun-related offenses to try and help reduce the number of shootings in Michigan City in recent years.


“If people are alleged to have done certain crimes then we need to step up our enforcement to stop this behavior. It’s not acceptable,” he said.

Zoo in Michigan City Open Saturday

(Michigan City, IN) - While the return to summer isn’t here just yet, you can still enjoy a day at the Washington Park Zoo this Saturday, December 2nd from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm for the first Wild Winterland event.


Visit the Zoo during the off-season to see some of your favorite animals, enjoy the fresh air, and even visit with the staff for "Keeper Chats" throughout the day to experience some of the education ambassadors up-close like the armadillo, corn snake, hedgehog, mini horse, and chinchilla.


Be sure to bring your camera and your warm holiday sweater for a photo with one of our costume mascots from 11:00 am until 2:00 pm in the classroom or swing by the Peacock Cafe for hot cocoa, and be sure to browse through the Treehouse Giftshop for some zoo-terrific gift options.


Due to the limited visibility for some of the tropical animals, admission is reduced for this very special day:


Adults: $ 5.00

Children ages 3-11 years: $4.00

Children under 2:  Free

There is no cost for members of Washington Park Zoo.


For more information on this event and zoo updates, please visit the Washington Park Zoo’s Facebook page and website.


Photo:  The Three-Banded Armadillo will be one of the featured “Keeper Chats” during the event.

Michigan Near Top for Christmas Trees

(Durand, MI.) - About two-thirds of Christmas trees in the U.S. come from just two states, but Michigan is the next largest producer.


According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Oregon harvested 4.7 million Christmas trees last year while just over four million trees finding a home during the season came from North Carolina. Michigan ranked third, producing slightly more than 1.5 million Christmas trees in 2022.


Coming in at no. 11 is Indiana, with about 150,000 Christmas trees harvested last year.


Amy Start, Executive Director of the Michigan Christmas Tree Association, said the Great Lakes state ranks high because of its climate and having a lot of ground ideal for raising Christmas trees. Christmas trees grow best in soil that drains well from being hilly and containing a higher percentage of sand. Start spoke further, saying that the roots on Christmas trees are prone to rot if exposed to a high moisture content in the dirt.


“Christmas trees don’t like to have their roots wet.  You’ll have to pick a different crop if you live in an area with good soil,” she said.


The largest Christmas tree-producing area in Michigan, and one of the leaders nationwide, is Missauke County, located in the northern Lower Peninsula of the state.


According to the USDA, more than a half million Christmas trees come out of Missauke County near Cadillac each year, while the nearby Wexford County harvests about 170,000 trees annually. Montcalm County, northeast of Grand Rapids, produces slightly more than 100,000 Christmas trees in a season while over 70,000 trees are harvested in Oceana County along the eastern shoreline of Lake Michigan near Ludington,


A decent amount of Christmas trees also come out of the southwest corner of Michigan, with the largest producer in that part of the state being Allegan County with more than 60,000 cut annually.


About 9,000 of the trees in Michigan come yearly from Berrien County.


“A lot of parts of our state have that kind of soil that just makes growing Christmas trees the perfect thing,” Start said.

Fleeing OWI Driver Charged

(La Porte County, IN) - Problems keep mounting for a driver who was allegedly impaired and fled on foot from a crash near Michigan City.


Yvonne Noe, 28, has been charged with Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated, Driving as a Habitual Offender, and other counts.


A week ago, La Porte County Police said Noe drove into a ditch in the 5300 block of North County Road 400 West. She reportedly then fled on foot, but officers soon found her hiding in the backyard of a nearby residence.


Her alleged blood alcohol level was close to three times the legal limit.


Two of her charges were upgraded to Level 6 felonies because of her being convicted of OWI just three months ago, in addition to Driving as a Habitual Offender.


Noe is still being held in the La Porte County Jail without bond.

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