Local News

Cross Burning Skeleton Raised at Hiring

(La Porte County, IN) - The La Porte County Highway Department has a new superintendent.


Allen Stevens is a former longtime employee of the Indiana Department of Transportation.  He’s also the La Porte County Republican Party Chairman and member of the South Central School Board.


Stevens, 49, was named to the position Wednesday by the La Porte County Commissioners during a standard first of the year reorganization.


He replaces Duane Werner, who had been the superintendent for about two-years.


During the commissioners meeting, La Porte resident Rick Kentaft expressed outrage, citing Stevens’ history of burning a cross.


The cross was burned outside the home of a multi-racial family at Union Mills in 1993.  Kentaft said other people have paid a price for racist or shameful actions discovered from their past.


“That’s acceptable in this county?,” he said.


About two months ago, Stevens in response to a story about the skeleton in his closet described his actions as stupid and claimed that he has since changed.


Commissioner Connie Gramarossa said Werner was not reappointed for disciplinary reasons.  She would not reveal what Werner might have done to get himself in trouble since the decision was a personnel matter.


Gramarossa said the decision to hire Stevens was based strictly him being viewed as the most qualified given his experience at INDOT with roads and management.


“When we are filling these positions, what is important is that we are filling them with individuals that are capable of doing these jobs,” she said.


Commissioner Joe Haney said Stevens shouldn’t be “cancelled” for actions that occurred 30-years ago.  He believes Stevens deserves a second chance and has changed based on the way he’s conducted himself over the years.


“The individual I know is not like that and hasn’t been.  It was a horrible incident that occurred but we have to believe that people can change,” he said.


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