Local News Archives for 2020-02

Hoosier Star Auditions Coming Up

(LaPorte, IN) - If you like to sing, you can try out for Hoosier Star in La Porte pretty soon.

Auditions are scheduled March 21st and 22nd.

They will be at the LaPorte Little Theatre from noon to 5 p.m.

Five finalists in the youth and adult categories will be chosen from those

auditions.

Finalists will take the stage and sing during the 15th annual Hoosier Star

sponsored by the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra.

Hoosier Star is scheduled September 12th at the Civic Auditorium always packed

for the event.

$1,000 in prize money is given to the winner in each category.

Low Bridge for Raised Dump Truck

(Crown Point, IN) - The top of a dump truck trailer crashed into a northwest Indiana overpass.

It happened Wednesday night on Interstate 65 near Crown Point.

Police say the driver by accident turned on the dump portion of the truck.

It raised just high enough to slam into the overpass.

Police say there were no injuries and it took about three hours to clean up the scene

and inspect the bridge.

Person Found Dead in Fire

(Michigan City, IN) - One person died in a house fire this week in Michigan City.

It happened Wednesday in the 500 block of Dewey St.

According to authorities, a male died in the fire.

So far, the identity and age of the victim have not been released.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, authorities said.

Proposal to Relocate LaCrosse High School Laid Out

(LaCrosse, IN) - About 200 people turned out Thursday night to learn more about a proposal

to relocate iconic LaCrosse High School.

Superintendent Kelly Shepherd is recommending the school relocate to a new facility that would be added to the K-8 Wanatah School.

Renovating the existing 1915 school is estimated at 6.5 million dollars, more than twice

as much as a new much smaller facility.

The 1949 gymnasium once considered for the movie "Hoosiers" will remain under the current plans. 

7th grader Kennedy Cox is among the students wanting to go to the existing high school like their  

parents and grandparents.

“They’re trying to take it away,” she said.

Jamie Campbell graduated from LaCrosse High School in 1995 and doesn’t want her children

riding a bus eight miles away.

She’s also upset no public comment was accepted last night.

Shepherd said the condition of the building and Wanatah being more of a population center to bring more people into the system are among the factors for making the recommendation.

Shepherd emphasized no decisions have been made yet by the school board.

Horizon Bank Helping Firefighters

(LaPorte County, IN) - Horizon Bank is helping a local fire department improve services.

The bank presented a four thousand dollar check to the Center Township Volunteer Fire

Department.

Officials say the funds will help in areas like communication at the new fire station,

medical training of first responders and life-saving prevention programs at

Crichfield Elementary School.

“Horizon’s generous contribution through this unique grant program enabled the fire

department to expand communication capabilities at the new fire station on Johnson Road,

integrate new medical training equipment for the first responders, and increase lifesaving fire

prevention programs for students at Crichfield Elementary school,” said Eric Haverstock, president of the Center Township Fire Corporation in a prepared statement.

Airport Shuttle Buses Returning in March

(Michigan City, IN) - Bus service will once again be provided to and from the airports

in Chicago.

Royal Excursion is taking over the service in this area.

Airport Supersaver abandoned the line a few months ago.

Royal Excursion says its stops will include Marquette Mall at Michigan City, South Bend and

Valparaiso.

Buses will begin rolling on the third of next month.

LaPorte Seeks Firefighters

(LaPorte, IN) -The LaPorte fire department is accepting applications.

People applying to become a firefighter must be 21 to 36 years of age

and a high school graduate.

Applications are available at the fire station on 18th street or on the

city’s website.

The deadline to apply is April 1.

For more information, contact the fire department at 362 3456.

Double Track Plans Laid Out

(Michigan City, IN) - An update on the double track was given last night in Michigan City.

A work shop was held between the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District

and city council.

Recently, federal funding was approved for the final engineering phase of the

project.

Officials with the South Shore commuter line says the process of property acquisition

is beginning and construction could begin as soon as May of 2021.

A double track from Michigan City to Gary is expected to reduce one way travel to

Chicago by as much as 30 minutes or more.

City Council president Sean Fitzpatrick said he called the meeting to provide the

community a better idea of what to expect in the coming months during property acquisition and

construction since it appears the project has been given the green light by the federal government.

Candle Playing Leads to Minor Fire Damage

(LaPorte, IN) - Just minor damage resulted from a house fire in La Porte on Wednesday.

Firefighters about 11 a.m. responded to the 600 block of Linwood Street.

A mother and her three children made it out safely, said LaPorte Fire Chief Andy Snyder.

Snyder says a 3-year old child playing with a burning decorative candle caught a mattress

on fire.

Snyder says damage was limited to the mattress, floor and surrounding items.

But due to water and smoke, though, the residents will have to wait for a clean-up

before moving back in, he said.

Another Huge Marijuana Bust on Toll Road

(LaPorte County, IN) - LaPorte County Police have made another major drug bust

on the Indiana Toll Road.

Police say a vehicle was stopped about 4 p.m. yesterday near Rolling Prairie.

The driver was tailgating and speeding then after a third moving violation was

stopped.

A large quantity of marijuana was allegedly recovered from the vehicle.

48 year old Hui Wei Zheng of Brooklyn, New York was arrested

for dealing marijuana.

Earlier this month, a sheriff’s deputy recovered an estimated $200,000 in marijuana during a traffic stop in about the same area.

New Downtown Events Coordinator

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City has a new downtown events coordinator.

Johnny Stimley stepped down from the city council to take over the

position.

He’s helped with activities downtown and the lakefront as a volunteer

for many years.

Jack Arnett, executive director of the La Porte County Convention

and Visitors Bureau, said it’s exciting to hear from Stimley that his efforts will be focused

on the downtown and lakefront to enhance what LCCVB does in promoting that area.

Stimley has also been president of the Michigan City Zoological Society the past 15 to 20 years.

Former Candidate for Mayor Charged

(Michigan City, IN) - A  man who ran for mayor of Michigan City last year could face time in

prison.

Clifford Thatcher, Jr. is charged in LaPorte Superior Court 1 with level 3 felony

aggravated battery.

He allegedly broke his girlfriend’s jaw and tooth where they live at

Normandy Village Apartments.

If convicted, Thatcher would face anywhere from a three to 16 year sentence.

Thatcher is not known very well in local political circles.

He ran in the democratic primary last year but hardly, if ever, made any public

appearances during the campaign.

New Homeless Shelter Going Strong

(LaPorte, IN) - The new homeless shelter in LaPorte is going strong.

It’s at Christ Church at Indiana Ave. and Jefferson Ave.

Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski says 10 people were there

Monday night.

The shelter has been averaging from three to eight people a night since opening

in early January.

Pierzakowski says they’ve also helped more than 20 people find new homes and jobs and

get placed into treatment programs.

A requirement for staying more than one night is sitting down with Pierzakowski and her staff

to discuss what caused them to be homeless and agreeing to receive help.

$500 Fine for Drivers Using Cell Phones Heads to Governor

(Indianapolis, IN) - It looks like using a cell phone by hand while driving

is going to carry a stiff fine in Indiana.

The state senate has passed a measure calling for a 500 fine for any use of a cellphone

while driving.

The house already passed the measure so all that’s needed now is a

signature from the governor for the legislation to become law.

State representative Jim Pressel of Rolling Prairie presented the legislation to

eliminate crashes resulting from distracted driving.

New Details About County Home Purchase

(LaPorte, IN) - It was once a sprawling home for the indigent earning their keep milking cows and doing other work on the farm.

The former LaPorte County home erected in 1886 was purchased for $50,000 by J & B West Properties, LLC.

Andrew Harrell, director of communications for the Michigan City based company, said future use of the site remains a work in progress but could fall along the lines of hospitality.

“We look forward to bringing a well-intended plan for the property.  Whether it’s going to be a bed & breakfast or an event venue of some type or housing, we’re not ready to put that in firm yet,” he said.

Harrell said construction will begin sometime this year.

The timeframe for completion is undecided.

“We are looking at a hefty project. This is a property special to a lot of people, including ourselves, and we just want to make sure we’re doing this the right way,” Harrell said.

The selling price was the minimum sought by county government for the two-story brick structure and five acres surrounding it at a public auction Monday.

LaPorte County Councilman Jeff Santana said he was hoping the winning bid would be twice as much but is happy to have the vacant building off the shoulders of taxpayers and positioned for reuse.

He said the $7,000 annual cost of maintenance was likely to go up.

 ''This is something we need to wash our hands of,” Santana said.

LaPorte County officials explored keeping the structure and turning it into a home for veterans or the homeless but an estimated $10 million renovation forced them to put the property up for sale.

I-94 Casino Not Viewed as Threat to Blue Chip

(Michigan City, IN) - A year from now, there will be a casino along Interstate 94 in Gary.

Some people wonder about the impact on existing casinos like Blue Chip in

Michigan City.

Jack Arnett, executive director of the LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau, says there might be a drop in business, initally, but things will recover just like they did when

casinos opened outside New Buffalo and in South Bend.

Arnett said people losing or winning money at the casino along Interstate 94 might decide to try their luck here.

New casinos also grow the size of the market by making the whole area more attractive as

a destination for gamers, he said.  

Arnett said Blue Chip by expanding its convention center also draws considerable business not related to gaming.

The Hard Rock Café casino is scheduled to open during the first quarter of

2021.

Iconic LaCrosse High School Could Move to Wanatah

(LaCrosse, IN) - There is a proposal to relocate La Crosse High School built in 1915.

Tri-Township Schools Superintendent Kelly Shepherd says he knows the emotional attachment

is very high but early estimates place the cost of saving the three story building at $6 million

or more.

The cost of a new high school facility that would be added to Wanatah School looks to be

roughly $3 million based on preliminary figures, he said.

Shepherd said the savings is  huge for one of the smallest school districts in the state

without a large tax base to offset the cost.

If a new school goes up, Shepherd says the beloved Hoosiers like gymnasium beside the

existing school would remain open for use by the school district.

The gym was built in 1949 is known for its non- regulation size basketball court and noise from fans packed Into tight quarters.

Public meetings at LaCrosse High School are scheduled Thursday and on March 4 at 6 p.m.

each evening.

When a decision will be made is not known but could happen sometime in March.

Need for Downtown Living Identified

(LaPorte, IN) - A major need for housing has been identified in downtown LaPorte.

In response, officials are looking to offer financial incentives to building owners

for renovating the upper levels of their structures.

That’s according to Bert Cook, executive director of the

La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership.

Cook said the second and third floors in many downtown buildings are vacant so the potential

is there given the desperate needed identified in a recent study.

The city’s Urban Enterprise Association is looking at financial incentives and already offers

80-percent grants to help downtown building owners with the cost of façade improvements, Cook said.

Cook said more than 20 downtown storefronts were given a new look under that program

the past several years and improvements to a half dozen more storefronts are planned this summer.

Return to Winter Leads to School Delays and Cancellations

(LaPorte County) – One to two inches of snow fell overnight.

It wasn’t as much as predicted but with some ice included the road are slick

especially in the rural areas.

Several school corporations like LaPorte also cancelled school while other districts

were operating under a two hour delay.

La Porte County Highway Department superintendent Bob Young says

plow trucks are out applying a mixture of three parts sand for every one part of salt.

Another two to three inches of snow are in the forecast.

A winter weather advisory remains in effect until 1 a.m. Thursday.

Shutting Off Headlights Fails in Chase

(Michigan City, IN) - He allegedly turned off his headlights to try and slip away from police

but it didn’t work.  25-year old Ronald Buchanan of Michigan City is now in some hot water.

According to the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office, there was a high-speed chase from U.S 421 to

Interstate 94 early Saturday.

 

The chase was initiated by Michigan City Police and at least one sheriff’s deputy responded to assist. At one point, police say Buchanan heading east turned off his headlights. The officer was able to see the car again when Buchanan approaching Exit 40 used his turn signals.

 

Undisclosed items were tossed out of the car and a stop was made, police said. Two other people were inside the vehicle.

Old LaPorte County Home Sold

(LaPorte, IN) - The historic former La Porte County home empty several years has been sold.

According to county officials, the price was 50 thousand dollars from a bid at a recent auction.

The buyer will be identified once formal payment has been made on the property, officials said.

Future use of the building is not known, but the buyer has talked about some type of hospitality use at the site, officials said.

LaPorte County Councilman Jeff Santana says he wishes the sale price would have been higher but he’s glad to have the cost of maintaining the historic property off the county’s hands and looks forward to it being put back to good use.

The home was put up for sale then after receiving no takers went to auction.

Officials said the cost to taxpayers would have been anywhere from eight to ten million dollars had the county chosen to keep and renovate the structure built in the late 1880’s.

The historic red barn and 100 acres of farm land next to the home were not offered for sale and are still owned by the county.

Elderly Man Charged with Child Molesting

(LaPorte, IN) -  - A 74-year-old LaPorte man linked to molesting children since the 1970s is locked up for the first time on his alleged predatory behavior.

Gerald Yaw is scheduled for an initial hearing Friday in LaPorte Circuit Court on two counts of child molesting.

 

According to court documents, his arrest Friday stems from a 12-year old girl reporting Yaw molested her for several years at his Farrand Ave. residence.

She also told authorities Yaw stopped his advances when she threatened to tell someone a few months prior to her 12th birthday.

During the several-month investigation, police said a woman in her 40’s reported being sexually assaulted by Yaw for several years as a child.

 

Her allegations were reflected in a police report from 1988 but the case was closed unless further evidence developed, according to court documents.

Another woman alleged her 23-year marriage to Yaw ended on claims by five children to being molested by him in the ’70s and ’80s, police said.

Yaw could face anywhere from 20 to 40-years and two to 12 years on each count.

He was being held Tuesday in the LaPorte County Jail on a $100,000 bond.

Heavy Snow in the Forecast

(LaPorte County, IN) - Heavy snow appears on the way. A Winter Storm Watch runs from 6 p.m. today to 1 a.m. on Thursday. The forecast is calling for more than eight inches of snow in spots.

 

The La Porte County Highway Department is getting prepared. Superintendent Bob Young says more drivers after their shifts will likely be taking plow trucks home so they can start clearing roads quicker as soon as the need arises. A lot of highway department trucks this morning went to a sandpit in Hanna. They brought back sand that is mixed with salt to help combat snow and ice on the roads. Young says sand is also used for other road maintenance purposes throughout the year.

Newly Designed Website for Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - A more user-friendly website is going online this afternoon

in Michigan City.

 

According to the mayor’s office, the website will be faster and easier to navigate

for information about the city, departments, and services.

Officials say a great deal of money is being saved from being able to eliminate two other

websites funded by the city.

 

Information on the outgoing websites will be provided on the newly designed web page

scheduled to start operating at 2 p.m.

You can log on to www.emichigancity.com.

Corona Virus Precautions in Michigan

(Lansing, MI) - The Corona Virus could be knocking on our doorsteps.  In Michigan, health officials say over 300 people are being monitored for symptoms of coronavirus.

 

Those people were either identified at U.S. airports during health screening checks or were passengers on cruise ships that had a confirmed coronavirus case, officials said.

 

The people are not in a quarantine facility. Instead, they are being asked to stay home for 14 days because they are considered somewhat at risk, officials said.

Money Holding Up Demolition of Old Bakery

(LaPorte, IN) -The city of La Porte is hoping to tear down an old bakery this year.

Tibma Bakery known by generations for its smell of bread baking is near the Civic Auditorium.

It’s been empty for many years.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody says the challenge is finding the money because of the extent of the work that would be involved in tearing down such a large facility. He said the estimated cost is about $100,000.

 

Dermody says one possibility is to tear down the once-beloved bakery and use the site for

construction of affordable homes.

Propane Fueled School Buses Hit the Streets

MICHIGAN CITY – Five new school buses running on cleaner burning propane began hitting the streets Monday afternoon in Michigan City.

            Three more of the propane fueled buses should be here by summer.

            The buses are replacing much older models powered by diesel fuel.

            A $206,699 grant from the Indiana Department of Environmental Management helped offset the $817,296 cost.

            Denise Willis, the driver of a diesel engine school bus for 22-years, said not only do the propane models produce less emissions but they get up to highway speed just as quickly and run much quieter.

            “I see a whole bunch of benefits.  I don’t see any real draw backs,” she said.

            A propane filling station at the school district transportation garage at 1100 S. Woodland Ave. was provided at no cost by Co-Alliance, a longtime central Indiana based provider of propane for heat and other uses on farms, homes and businesses.

            Bus drivers simply insert a nozzle and turn on the pump like they were at a gas station filling up their personal vehicles.

Sue Harrison, director of transportation for the school corporation, said the propane buses produce almost no emissions and don’t require being plugged in during the winter to keep the diesel fuel from gelling in the cold.

            She said propane is cheaper than diesel fuel and costs about the same as gasoline also used in some of their buses.

Harrison also said the propane tanks are more puncture resistant from absorbing more of the impact from a crash.

            “The way they’re slanted, if you were to have a rear-end collision it would cause the car to go under the tank and lift the bus up so you’re not going to get that straight on force of a collision,” she said.

The district has about 50 diesel powered buses remaining along with 10 gasoline driven buses.

            The plan is to phase out the remainder of diesel buses as they reach maturity.

            “In the long run, we’re going to save money all the way around,” Harrison said.

             Co-Alliance also supplies propane for school buses at Lake Central and a limited number of school districts in other parts of the state.

            Travis Nicholson, service and safety manager for Co-Alliance, said the company is relatively new at supplying propane for school buses since the technology for its use in transportation just advanced to this stage in recent years.

            He said more school districts are looking closely at going propane with their buses.

“It’s really a new age product. We’re really excited about it being in this territory,” Nicholson said.

Mild Symptoms of CoronaVirus That No One Should Ignore

A report out of the U.K.  says a loss of appetite and of your sense of smell are two of the milder symptoms of coronavirus people should look out for. 

 

It is now almost two months since the first coronavirus case was confirmed in the UK. In the weeks since, most people have become aware that a newly formed dry, persistent cough and a fever are two of the tell-tale signs of Covid-19. However, prior to the telltale fever, dry-hacking cough and difficulty breathing here are more signs that you may be infected by the CoronaVirus.  

 

  • Physical and mental fatigue
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Loss of your sense of smell and taste
  • A stomach ache
  • Sore eyes.

 

Health professionals suggest that you consult your doctor if these symptoms occur or persist.  They also recommend that you quarantine yourself in place before considering heading to your local emergency room.

 

Police to Target Drunk Driving

(LaPorte, IN) - La Porte City Police will target drunk driving next month.

Police say the reason is to discourage drinking and driving with St. Patrick’s Day

and the NCAA basketball tournament in March.

 

Police say they want people taking part in those activities to have a good time but

not get behind the wheel…if they’ve had one drink too many.

 

Officers will work overtime to beef up patrols. According to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, there were five fatal alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes statewide last March.

Settlement Footing Much of the Clean-Up Tab

(LaPorte, IN) - Millions of dollars have gone toward the ongoing environmental remediation at

NewPorte Landing.

Local taxpayers haven’t paid much, if anything.

Bert Cook is executive director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership.

He says the expense is primarily funded with proceeds from a settlement with Allis Chalmers

and others responsible for the contamination.

Cook says other monies have come from tax dollars generated by new development.

Tax dollars going toward the clean-up are captured from within a Tax Increment Financing District

NewPorte Landing was placed into years ago to help with the cost.

Tax dollars are generated when the value of the land increases from new development.

Cook said the Healthcare Foundation of LaPorte has also contributed to the effort.

Police Officers Wanted

(Michigan City, IN) - Applications are being accepted by Michigan City Police.

Police say applicants must be between 21 and 36 years of age.

Other requirements include a good driving record and no prior

felony or misdemeanor battery convictions.

Starting pay is just over 43 thousand dollars annually, police said. .

The pay goes up by close to 35 hundred dollars after one year.

Applications must be turned in by March 21.

For further information, contact Michigan City Police at 874-3221.

Students Raise Money for Cancer Research

(New Buffalo, MI) - Student athletes from New Buffalo raised money for cancer research.

Joshua Bushu, 23, of Stevensville says he’s cancer free after a more than

3-year battle.

His advice for cancer patients is to accept help from others and be ready

to help others when called upon.

The New Buffalo students held a silent auction and took part in other

fund-raising events like a half-court basketball shot during halftime of the boys’ and

girls’ basketball games Friday night.

The goal was $5,000.

Bushu spoke briefly to the audience.

Charges for Trump Related Attack

(Hobart, IN) - Two northwest Indiana teenagers showing support for president Trump

were targets of violence.

Police say the twin boys had flags supporting the president attached to their

bicycles.

They were run off the road by a motor vehicle and yelled at in Hobart.

A man and woman in their early 20’s and late teens are now charged

with felony intimidation and criminal recklessness.

23rd Annual PRCU Chili Cookoff

(La Porte, IN)   Sunday's beautiful weather brought out a packed house for the 23rd Annual Polish Roman Catholic Union (PRCU) Chili Cookoff. 

 

16 teams competed for the top prize of $100, a plaque and most importantly, "Bragging rights." After the judging (right) was completed top honors went to SAL Post 400 from Fish Lake, Indiana.  Second place went to Cowboy Chili and Team Dutch Oven took third.  Rock 106.5's Rik Anthony announced the winners and was one of the judges.  

Fight to Save Indiana Beach

 

(Monticello, IN) - There’s an effort to save Indiana beach.

More than 22,000 signatures are on a petition.

The signatures were obtained in just two days.

The hope is publicity about the petition drive will spark interest

in saving the popular beach and amusement park in White County closed

when the owner could not find a buyer.

The petition is available at change.org.

LaPorte Fights Back Harder Against Opioids

 

(LaPORTE, IN) - La Porte is flexing its muscles in the fight against opioid addiction.

Another outpatient substance abuse clinic in the city is expected to open sometime in mid-March with help from a $500,000 grant from the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte.

The Recovery Center focused on treating opioid addiction with methadone will be operated by Porter-Starke Services, a provider of mental health and substance abuse treatment in Knox, Valparaiso, Portage, Hebron and Gary.

The facility will be in the same building at 1230 W. Indiana 2 as Swanson Center, another specialist in treating mental health and substance abuse issues.

Recovery Center will be the only facility in La Porte County prescribing methadone to ease withdrawal, said Dan Peck, CEO of Swanson Center.

Peck said Porter-Starke Services will also provide counseling but patients requiring more intensive therapy can access those services at Swanson Center.

He said the partnership should help prevent relapses in patients having difficulty traveling regularly outside La Porte County for medication and counseling.

“For individuals who are trying to reintegrate into the workforce and maintain a job or if they’re attending school to have to travel a half hour or 45 minutes becomes quite a barrier,” he said.

“This is going to be very convenient for those individuals,” he said.

Porter-Starke has received $500,000 annually the past three-years from the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte to provide inpatient treatment for La Porte County residents.

Peck said about $100,000 of this year’s grant was used start the new clinic in La Porte.

“Without the generous grant, the operational start-up and necessary renovations could not have happened,” said Matthew Burden, President/CEO of Porter-Starke Services.

Frontline Foundations, a faith-based outpatient treatment provider, is approaching its fifth year in LaPorte at 714 Lincolnway.

 

Code Violations Near 700 in Crackdown

(LaPorte, IN) - The number of write-ups for code violations in La Porte keeps piling up.

Code enforcement director Jeff Batchelor says they’re at close to 700 now since

the first of the year.

 

Batchlor told the Board of Works & Safety this week he’s hearing from supporters and opponents

of the aggressive stance being taken to clean up the city.

But, he said more and more people seem to be jumping on the code enforcement.

Tougher code enforcement was promised by mayor Tom Dermody in his pledge to set a higher standard during the campaign prior to him taking office January 1st.

Treasured Woods Preserved for Eternity

(Hesston, IN) - A woods featuring a lot of hardwood trees is forever preserved.

Arthur Schuck donated over 40 acres of mostly woods at an orchard he used to

operate in Hesston.

 

The Shirley Heinze Land Trust is the recipient.

The 87-year-old Schuck says it would be a shame if the trees like cherry, oak and

beech ever came tumbling down in the event a new owner of the property would someday

want to have the woods logged for money to pay down the mortgage.

 For years, Schuck offered apples and peaches the public could either pick themselves or

buy already picked.

The not-for-profit land trust based in Valparaiso has more than 2500 acres preserved in

LaPorte, Porter, St. Joseph and Lake counties.

High Interest in Old Don George Ford Property

 (LaPorte, IN) - There’s considerable interest in redeveloping a piece of lakefront property in LaPorte.

 Mayor Tom Dermody says developers are asking about the old Don George Ford property along

Pine Lake Ave. near the U.S 35 overpass.

 

Last year, local officials expressed interest in kayaking on the waterfront property.

Dermody says things are still taking shape but a restaurant along with kayaking and other

related uses sound attractive.

When a deal with a prospective developer might be reached is not known.

Millings Could Help Major Tourist Attraction

(Hesston, IN) - A major road project could benefit a local tourist attraction.

The entire stretch of 1000 North is going to be milled up and repaved later this year.

The millings could go to Hesston Steam Museum for building a road in and out of the

facility.

 

La Porte County Highway Department superintendent Bob Young says most of the millings

are going to be stockpiled there and ready for use at the museum if approved by the LaPorte County Commissioners.

 

Ted Rita, owner of Hesston Steam Museum, says more people come there nowadays and a new access road would help get vehicles turning into the property off 1000 North quicker to eliminate back-ups and risk for accidents.

The commissioners are expected to take a vote on the request at its next meeting in early March.

Dropped Object Seriously Hurts Truck Driver

(Portage, IN) - State Police are trying to find out who dropped an object that seriously

hurt a truck driver.

 

Police say the object crashed through the windshield of a 23-year-old Illinois semi driver taken to a Chicago area hospital. This happened Wednesday about 10 a.m. on Interstate 80-94 in Portage.

Police did not disclose his injuries or identify the object.

Driving Around Crash Scene Alleged in OWI Case

(LaPorte, IN) -

Police said 28-year old Kyle Principe allegedly had a blood-alcohol level more than two times the

legal limit. He allegedly drove around the scene of a motor vehicle accident being worked

by emergency responders. Police during a traffic stop arrested the driver for being intoxicated.

That’s according to the La Porte County sheriff’s office.

 

Early Sunday, police said there was an overturned vehicle on State Road 2 near Pinola.  The highway was closed for emergency responders to work the crash. Police say the suspect while driving around the blockade nearly striking a tow truck before going into a ditch and returning to the pavement.

 

Principle could get up to a year in jail if convicted of Class A misdemeanor operating while intoxicated.

Schools Reaching Out to Students in Crisis

(LaPorte, IN) - The La Porte School system is helping students and their families going through

challenging times.

 

The Adverse Childhood Experiences program has existed for a couple of years now.

Volunteers are trained to help school children under 18 in distress.

Sources of distress range from substance abuse and violence at home

to financial troubles.

 

Sarah Pessmeg is a 5th-grade counselor at the Kesling Intermediate School.

She said the need here has gone up dramatically in recent years citing figures from the Indiana Youth

 

Institute that shows the number of students needing service has gone up from 5.2 to 13.1 for every 1,000 students.

 

Pessmeg said mental health and physical health issues can arise in children experiencing

major problems at home.

Satellites Flying High from Advancing to Semi-State Tourney

(Union Mills, IN) - Excitement is definitely in the air at South Central School.

The girl's high school basketball team is heading to the semi-state tournament on Saturday.

High School principal Ben Anderson said there’s a pep rally on Friday to help give the girls an

enthusiastic send-off.

He said the only other time the Satellites went to the semi-state tournament for girls’ high school

basketball was in 2005.

The girls play Frankton in the Logansport semi-state in Class 2 A

The Satellites are 21-7 while Frankton is 20-7.

Downtown Director Recognized for Clean Up

(LaPorte, IN) - A La Porte official has been given a pat on the back for her work in making things

look better in the downtown.

Downtown Director Angela Rose was involved in getting volunteers to do things like

pick up litter and do landscaping in the fall.

She also obtained a $5000 state grant to help fund the effort.

Other work in the downtown by volunteers included putting a fresh coat of paint

on benches and light posts.

Rose has been the downtown director for just over a year now.  

She was recognized for her efforts at the Tuesday night meeting of the LaPorte City Council.

Dogs Kill Over a Dozen Chickens

(LaPorte County, IN) – A pair of chicken killing dogs were rounded up this week by animal control.

La Porte County Police were called about 11 a.m. Monday to the 51 hundred block of W. 150 North.

Officers found two dogs inside a chicken coop surrounded by 15 dead chickens, police said.

Police said it appears the dogs chewed on the main door of the coop to get inside.

The chickens used for eggs were valued at $20 apiece.

The next day, the owner reclaimed his dogs from the La Porte County Small Animal Shelter.

Shelter Director Jane Bernard says dogs do things like that from time to time.

It’s just their instinct

Bernard says what happened is unfortunate but hopes both sides agree to compensating the owner for her chickens.

She says the animal shelter has rounded up other dogs for similar acts quite often in the past.

Police Out to Curb Rise in Gun Violence

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police are beefing up efforts to stop a rise

in recent gun violence.

Police say additional teams are being put together to target illegal gun possession.

The latest act of gunplay involved a 28-year-old man being shot Monday night

at a home on Julianna Drive in the area of 600 West and E. Michigan Boulevard.

Police say cash, drugs, and guns were recovered from the residence.

The shooting victim’s injuries were not believed life-threatening, police said.

Other recent shootings included a 19-year-old man shot Sunday on Chicago St.

near Indiana State Prison.

Police say his injuries were also not viewed as life-threatening.

Further details on both of those shootings have not been released.

Double Track Property Acquisition Happening

(Michigan City, IN - The process involved in acquiring property for the double track will begin

In Michigan City any time now.

That’s according to Mike Noland, executive director for the Northern Indiana Commuter

Transportation Distsrict.

NICTD operates the South Shore commuter line.

Noland told the city council last night a portion of the federal dollars

Recently approved for engineering of the project means Uncle Sam is going to partner in helping

to finance the entire project.

Noland said property acquisition is now starting with hopes of starting to lay the double track in

May of 2021.

City Planner Leaving for Valparaiso

(LaPorte, IN) - She’s been at the frontlines of making life better in LaPorte.

Beth Shrader is leaving her job with the city.

She’s becoming director of planning and transportation for the city of Valparaiso.

Shrader said she was both saddened and excited about her new opportunity,

saying LaPorte occupies a special place in her heart.

She made the announcement during last night’s city council meeting.

Shrader has been director of planning and community development here

since 2014.

Most recently, she was heavily involved in the strategic planning for the downtown and

New Porte Landing areas.

New Housing Sought for Land Acquired by School District

(LaPorte, IN) - Some local officials would like to see housing built on land purchased recently by the La Porte School Corporation.

The 35 acres is in the area of A and 18th streets.

School officials have not decided what to put on the property.

Some people like city councilman Roger Galloway would like to see new housing go there.

He says the school district doesn’t pay taxes and the city with a lot of government owned property not generating tax revenue already needs to grow its tax base.

Galloway proposed giving the land to a developer, if necessary, for new housing to go up on the

property.

Galloway says he will approach the school district about housing on at least a portion of that

land.

Seized Marijuana Linked to Drug Mule

(LaPorte County, IN) - A man caught recently with marijuana locally had his car practically

stuffed with it.

The value of the pot was estimated at $200,000.

Those are among the new details made available in the case.

31-year old Zhaoyao Luo was stopped earlier this month on the Indiana Toll Road near Hudson Lake for traffic violations.

According to court documents, more than 100 bags of pot were located in the trunk

and back seat of the vehicle.

The suspect allegedly told officers he was being paid to deliver the marijuana to the east coast

from California and was being paid 100 dollars per pound, according to court documents.

City Again Urged to Address Eyesores

(LaPorte, IN) - A La Porte man is furthering his crusade to clean up the city.

Brian Kajer says the old Speedway station on Lincolnway on the east side of downtown

is an example of the eyesores on a main drag casting a negative image of the city especially for

newcomers.

Kajer told the city council last night unsitely properties might cause people to go to other places like Valparaiso.

Mayor Tom Dermody says the problem is being aggressively attacked by Jeff Batchelor,

his new code enforcement director since taking office seven weeks ago.

But, he said things don’t happen at the snap of the fingers. and they will continue to tackle the problem. 

Presently, code enforcement is addressing more than 600 code violations, a number

the mayor believes is a record here for just a short period of time.

Lake Fest 2020 Planned in LaPorte

 LaPorte, IN) – Lake Fest 2020 in La Porte will be taking shape in the coming weeks and months.

 Jack Arnett, executive director of the La Porte County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said people involved in jet-ski racing from England will be coming here next month to try and strike a deal for making LaPorte part of their racing circuit.

The same people are the ones who brought jet-ski racing for the first time to the powerboat races at Michigan City’s lakefront in 2019.

Arnett said a Taste of LaPorte is among the other possible happenings in the discussion stage for Lake Fest 2020.

Currently, Arnett says a location for Lake Fest 2020 has not been decided but it will either be at Pine Lake, Stone Lake or Clear Lake.

He said the goal right now is to have Lake Fest 2020 on the first full weekend in August.

Bridge Reconstruction to Begin Soon

(Michigan City, IN) - A bridge in Michigan City is scheduled to be reconstructed this year.

The bridge is on U.S 12 next to Blue Chip Casino.

Room for pedestrians and bicyclists could be added to each side of the bridge during the

reconstruction this summer and fall, Chris Murphy with American Structurepoint told the city’s

Redevelopment Commission last week.

The RDC made no decision on the space proposed for pedestrians and bicyclists, wanting to see a cost estimate next month before acting on the plans.

The Indiana Department of Transportation is having the bridge deck reconstructed beginning in the spring.

Anything extra would be the city’s responsibility, officials said.

Adopted Hospice Dog Doing Well

(Michigan City, IN) - A dog given six months to live is doing well in his new hospice home. The 14-year-old pit bull was adopted recently from Michiana Humane Society in Michigan City.

 

Jordan and Jen Chapman were hooked by how playful the dog was and wanted to give him a loving home during his final days. Jordan says Marley, despite his cancer is, perhaps, happier ever.  The couple is well qualified to take care of the dog with Jordan running an animal shelter in Illinois and her wife a massage therapist for hospice patients.

 

The Chapman’s have already treated the dog to a Burger King hamburger and a cup of whipped cream from Starbucks. Other bucket list items include a ride on a fire truck and a trip to Wrigley Field.

MC Death Labeled "Suspicious"

(Michigan City, IN) – Michigan City Police are investigating a possible homicide. 59-year old Harvey Perry of Chicago was found dead inside a home in the 2200 block of Grackle Lane, off Pahs Road on the city’s south side.

 

Police said officers responding about 9 a.m. Sunday to a report of an unconscious person made the discovery. The death was labeled “suspicious” by police who revealed an autopsy has been performed.

 

Further details were not disclosed. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Michigan City Police.

Teen Recovering from Gunshot

(Michigan City, IN) - A teenager is recovering from being shot in Michigan City over the weekend.

According to police, officers about 4:30 p.m. Sunday responded to a report of shots fired

in the 1000 block of Chicago Street,  near Indiana State Prison.

 

Police say a 19-year old man sustained a non-life threatening gunshot wound and was taken

to the hospital. 

 

No arrests have been reported. Further details were not disclosed. Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police at (219) 874-3221 or on Facebook.

Lady Slicers Come Up Short in Tournament

(LaPorte, IN) - In high school basketball, the girls from La Porte lost in the regional championship game Saturday night.

 

The Slicers lost to Penn 49 to 34. The girls made it to the regional title game by defeating Munster by one point in the first game of the regionals held at LaPorte High School.

LaLumiere Continues Quest for Tourney Bid

(LaPorte County, IN) - LaLumiere continues its quest for another national tournament bid.

The Lakers play tonight at home.

 

Head coach Patrick Holmes feels winning the rest of the games will get his squad

an invitation to the GEICO Nationals in New York City.

 

One thing he would like to see from his team is more of a killer instinct to put teams

away instead of allowing them back in the game when leading by 10-points or more.

The Lakers play Andrews Academy.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Library About to Expand

(LaPorte, IN) - The library in La Porte is getting ready to expand.

The expansion will occur inside a historic building across the street from the library

on Indiana Ave.

 

The structure known as the “Old Telephone Building” was donated to the library

five years ago.

 

An area of the existing library now used by people of all ages for things like 3D printing

will be relocated to the new site, said Fonda Owens, director of the LaPorte County Public Library.

The new facility will also include additional meeting space.

 

Owens says surplus dollars are being used to pay for the over $2 million project without having

to raise taxes.

 

Owens is hoping a renovation of the two-story brick building will start in the spring.

Extensive Use for Old Hospital Outlined

(Michigan City, IN) - The old hospital in Michigan City is going to be put to use in a big way.

Franciscan Health officials have announced a 20 million dollar investment for the former hospital

on the city’s west side.

 

Plans call for partial demolition of the building and continued use of the site for Express Care.

A new program for providing care to senior citizens will be among the other things offered

at the facility, officials said.

 

What’s left of the structure after demolition will undergo an extensive renovation and repurposing.

 

The hospital moved to a new facility along at Interstate 94 and U.S 421 just over

a year ago.

Fatal Motor Vehicle Crash This Morning

(LaPorte County, IN) - La Porte County Police are investigating a fatal motor vehicle crash. It happened Monday before 9 a.m. in the 2100 block of N. Wozniak Road between La Porte and Michigan City.

 

A car with heavy front end damage was resting against a utility pole on the east side of the two-lane road in front of the house.

No further details were not available because the investigation is its early stages.

HIDTA Working to Bust Drug Dealers

(LaPorte, IN) - A lot of drugs and guns pass through on Interstate 94 and the Indiana Toll Road.

That’s a major reason for LaPorte County being part of what’s called

the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program.

 

La Porte County joined Lake and Porter counties in this part of the state a few years ago.

Sheriff John Boyd says federal and state resources are provided to help stem

the flow of drugs and guns to members of the law enforcement initiative.

Last week, a sheriff’s duty being paid by the HIDTA group seized more than 50 large bags

 of marijuana during a traffic stop on the Indiana Toll Road east of Rolling Prairie.

"Hit List" Investigation at New Prairie Middle School

Two students have been removed from New Prairie Middle School for creating a "hit list" of students and staff members.

 

According to a statement sent home to parents, school officials discovered the so-called hit list on Wednesday and launched an investigation.

Anyone on the list was notified by school administration, and the two students responsible for it were removed from school.

 

Captain Derek Allen of the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office says further details are not available at this time, as the investigation is still ongoing.

 

This is the second incident of threatened violence at the middle school in recent months. In November, the school was locked down after a threat was received.

Officials say the two incidents are not related.

Man Killed in Motor Vehicle Accident

(LaPorte County, IN) - A man was killed in a single vehicle crash yesterday in La Porte County.

The victim was identified as 27 year old Daniel McKeown.

Police say he was from Valparaiso.

According to the sheriff’s office, McKeown was driving a 2000 Lexus on State Road 39.

He traveled off the road for more than 150 feet then slammed into a tree.

The two lane highway was partially snow covered at the time.

Police say why he left the road, though, was not known.

Toxicology results were still pending.

Victim in Fatality Identified

(Michigan City, IN) - A man killed near Michigan City this week in a motor vehicle crash

has been identified.

Steven Kowalski was from Champaign, Illinois.

About 2 p.m. Wednesday, police say his Chevy Blazer drove into the back end of a semi-truck

on Interstate 94.

At the time, the semi was disabled on the shoulder.

So far, it’s still not known what caused the victim to leave the travel portion

of the highway, police said.

Back to Winter Driving

(LaPorte, IN) - Use caution on the roads this morning.

An extra inch or two of snow has fallen.

Plummeting temperatures in the single digits are also causing some the

moisture on the roads from yesterday to freeze.

La Porte County Highway Department superintendent Bob Young says

a lot of money has been saved on salt this year because there’s hasn’t been

a whole lot of snow this season.

Temperatures are expected to go above the freezing mark for several days again

beginning Saturday.

Orange Sludge Removal on Schedule

(LaPorte, IN) - Work is continuing on removing orange sludge from a brownfield site in La Porte.

City Engineer Nick Minich says the sludge from a by-product of paint when Allis Chalmers

made farm equipment there is one of the most contaminated areas of New Porte Landing.

But, he said a Chicago area firm doing the clean-up has a firm handle on the situation.

 

Minich says enough of the clean up will be done in time for 200 upscale condos beside Clear Lake

to start going up in the spring.

 

He says the work is being done to specifications set forth by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for housing development. He said the cost is about four million dollars paid for mostly by an insurance settlement with Allis Chalmers and other companies responsible for the contamination.

1st Graders Show Love for Valentine's Day

(LaPorte, IN) -Senior citizens are feeling loved from Valentine’s Day cards made by some

La Porte first graders. The cards were delivered to residents of Brentwood Assisted Living.

The cards were made from scratch in the classroom of Morgan Wright at Handley Elementary School.

 

Wright said it was good for the students to learn about doing for others even those

they don’t even know. It took about half an hour for the kids with things like construction paper, glue sticks and glitter to make those cards.

Docks Threatened by High Water

(Michigan City, IN) - High water is threatening docks in Michigan City. Up to 150 docks could be unusable this summer because of water that could make contact with electrical boxes.

 

Harbor-master Tim Frame says the lake already at a record high for this month Is expected to rise when spring rains hit. Other harbors along Lake Michigan are having similar difficulties. Over 100 docks were closed in New Buffalo last year because of water Inundating electrical boxes.

Police Busier Than Ever

(LaPorte, IN) - La Porte County Police officers are busier than ever before. Sheriff John Boyd says there was a ten percent increase in calls for service from December to January.

 

He says calls for service are least double the amount from when he first started with the

sheriff’s office in 1990.

 

Major reasons include cell phones making it more convenient to call for help and society quick to seek help for situations households used to handle themselves. 

 

Boyd also says the number of motor vehicle accidents handled by his office last month

was down nine percent from the previous month.

Suicide Ruled in Casino Gunshot Death

(Michigan City, IN) - A man found dead from a gunshot wound in Michigan City committed suicide, authorities said.

 

Michigan City Police said the 78-year-old Gary man was found dead in the parking garage at Blue Chip Casino on Saturday.

 

The suicide ruling was made after an autopsy on Monday revealed the man died from a single gunshot wound, police said.

Fatal Crash on I-94

(Michigan City, IN) - A fatal accident involving a semi-truck happened yesterday afternoon in

LaPorte County.

 

The crash occurred on Interstate 94 near the 37-mile marker outside Michigan City. According to state police, an SUV drove into the back end of a semi-truck disabled on the right shoulder.

 

So far, the name of the victim has not been released. Why the SUV left the travel portion of the road is still under investigation, police said. The crash happened at about 2 p.m.

Snow Causing Problems

(LaPorte, IN) - A couple of inches of snow came down overnight. So far, the roads are not in too bad of shape. Major highways are wet and slush-covered for the most part. Local roads and streets are a bit more snow-covered and with the temperature at or near freezing the snow is melting in places.

 

Some schools like La Porte, Michigan City, and New Prairie have closed. Many other school districts imposed a two-hour delay to the start of school.

State Investigating Drainage Project

(LaPorte, IN) - The state is investigating a drainage project in La Porte.

There have been allegations of wells being drilled illegally and not capped as

required along Boyd Boulevard.

 

Brad Adamsky is the attorney for the La Porte County Drainage board.

Adamsky told the board this week he’s been in contact with the Indiana Department

of Natural Resources.  He said DNR is looking into the situation. 

 

Three have also been allegations the project has aggravated flooded on the Louie Spear farm.

A drainage basin is going in there to improve drainage capacity primarily for the industry on the city’s east side.

Portage Receives New Prairie Football Coach

(New Carlisle, IN) - The football coach at New Prairie High School is moving on. 

 

Russ Radtke is now the head coach in Portage. Radtke is leaving after building a dominating program at New Prairie. Radtke has won 368 games in 43 seasons at Connersville, North Judson, Griffith, and New Prairie.

Head On Crash Linked to Drugs

 (LaPorte, IN) - Police say a man who caused a head-on crash outside La Porte was impaired.

 

24-year old Ryan Schomaker of Michigan City was over the center line on Johnson Road near

the Summit Farm on Sunday.

 

Police say one oncoming driver, Mary O'Donnell veered out of his way, but the driver behind her, James Henrich, III was hit.

 

According to police, Schomaker did not have alcohol in his system but he admitted to smoking marijuana and taking Xanax earlier in the day.

 

Police say he showed obvious signs of impairment.  Fortunately, just one minor injury resulted from the crash.  Schomaker was arrested for operating intoxicated and traveling left of center.

 

O'Donnell said she was taking her three grandchildren home when the oncoming car starting coming at her and feels lucky to have avoided the vehicle.

Huge Marijuana Bust on Toll Road

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - Dozens of bags containing marijuana were seized during a traffic stop by La Porte County Police.  The driver from California was taken into custody.

 

According to police, the vehicle was pulled over Tuesday for traffic violations on the Indiana Toll Road near the 53-mile marker outside Rolling Prairie.

 

Zhaoyao Luo, 31, of Sacramento, California was arrested for level 5 felony dealing in marijuana, police said.

 

A picture released by the LaPorte County sheriff’s office shows well over 50 large bags stacked like bricks in a foundation.

Bad Crash on I-94

(Michigan City, IN) - A serious motor vehicle collision happened this afternoon. The crash occurred on Interstate 94 outside Michigan City about three miles east of U.S 421. A passenger vehicle was underneath a semi-truck. 

 

So far, police have not released any details. We do know that a coroner was called to the scene.

We’ll have more information as it becomes available.

School Board Member Opposes Arming Teachers

(LaPorte, IN) - A La Porte school board member says the right to bear arms is something he fully supports.

 

But, he says bringing guns into schools is asking for trouble. Jim Arnold is a former La Porte County sheriff and state senator. On occasion, Arnold says active shooters are taken out by citizens carrying guns but the opposite thing can happen if teachers are allowed to arm themselves at school.

 

For example, Arnold says a teacher with a gun could be jumped by a student wanting access to a firearm to start shooting. Arnold said some districts in Indiana allow teachers to arm themselves.

LaPorte doesn’t allow it and he would vote against it if a proposal to do so ever came before the school board.

Federal Dollars Approved for Double Track

(Washington D.C) - It looks like the long-awaited double track will be laid to increase travel times to and from Chicago.

 

Federal dollars have been approved by the Federal Transit Administration. Those dollars will go toward the final phase of the engineering portion of the project. The plan calls for a second track for the South Shore commuter line will be added from Michigan City to Gary to speed up one-way travel by up to 30 minutes or more.  

 

Five train stations will also be upgraded. More than 13 hundred new parking spaces are included in the plans. State and local governments are also kicking in dollars for a project now estimated at more than 400 million dollars, about twice the original estimate.

LaLumiere Hoping for Another National Tournament Bid

(LaPorte, IN) - In high school basketball, the boys from La LuLumiere play at home tonight.

The Lakers are ranked 12th in the nation. 

 

They’ve been moving in the polls after some early losses. Head coach Patrick Holmes feels the team is starting to peak. La Lumiere is hoping to be invited back to the national tournament in New York City. Just eight teams are chosen but Holmes feels winning the rest of the games

will get them in the brackets.

 

The Lakers take on Gary Roosevelt at 7 p.m.

LaPorte Growing Community Service Volunteers

(LaPorte, IN) - There’s an effort in La Porte to get more people to give back.

The mayor’s wife, Jackie Dermody, is leading the charge.

 

She says it takes a community to produce the best results and she’s already reached out to the schools for student-athletes for help in doing things like sprucing up the city during their respective seasons.

 

Dermody says she especially wants children to know why it’s important to give back. On Friday, first-graders at Handley Elementary School made Valentine’s Day cards for some assisted living residents.

Prison Smuggling Arrest

(Michigan City, IN) - Another arrest has been made for trying to bring contraband to an offender.

25-year-old Crystal Miller is accused of attempting to smuggle meth, tobacco, and lighters

to an offender at Indiana State Prison. 

 

She was arrested Sunday. Authorities say she was caught by correctional officers and being housed in the La Porte County Jail.

 

The woman from Bristol could face as much as eight years on the most serious offense

filed in the case.

Withdrawing from Double Track Not Believed Possible

(Michigan City, IN) - Could Michigan City back away from the proposed double-track?

 

A local official doesn’t think so. New mayor Duane Parry has spoken against a double track.

 

 Jim Arnold is a board member for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which

operates the South Shore commuter line. He says Michigan City and other governments committed millions of dollars several years ago to help pay for a double track. Arnold doesn’t believe anyone can back out now because of work contracts and other legal documents

involved in the process being signed.

 

He says he and another top-ranking official from the railroad will go over the project at the next city council meeting in Michigan City on the 18th of this month.

 

Arnold said approval of federal funds key to making the project happen could come within the next two weeks.

School Traffic Congestion Solution Eyed

(LaPorte, IN.) - La Porte School officials are looking to solve some traffic congestion.

 

Traffic is an issue at the Kesling complex at 18th and A street. The back-ups are created from having two schools at one site. School board member Jim Arnold says adding turning lanes is the focus of the talks right now between the school corporation and the city.

 

Traffic has been an issue there since the new school opened in the fall to go with the existing school. The site allowing for Boston Middle School to be closed is for grades five through eight.

Off Road Vehicle Fatality

(Walkerton, IN.) –A 74-year-old man was killed on an off-road vehicle near Walkerton.

Authorities say the man left Union Road for unknown reasons and struck a tree

along Beall Ditch.

 

The body was discovered about 9 a.m. Monday but exactly when the accident occurred

was not yet known.  So far, the name of the victim has not been released.

MC Pulling Out of Federal Lead Free Program

 

 

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City is longer taking part in reducing lead exposure.

The city under the previous administratoni was in a 2.3 million dollar federal grant program to reduce

lead exposure in  its aging housing stock.

The city’s commitment was more than 400 thousand dollars.

New mayor Duane Parry has inherited a 3.6 million dollar budget shortfall.

He says the shortfall makes it too difficult to fund everything required under the federal grant.

Plus….it’ll mean paying back money into the city’s depleted riverboat fund.

Parry says the city is going ahead with lead abatement…using the city’s community block grant

program.

Stabosz Vying for County Auditor

(LaPorte, IN) - A former La Porte City Councilman is running for county auditor.

Tim Stabosz is seeking the republican nomination.

Stabosz says his extensive background in finance is a good fit for the office.

He served on the city’s finance committee during his two terms as on the city council

and makes his living as a private investor in the stock market.

He also has a degree in accounting from De Paul University in Chicago.

Stabosz was unsuccessful in his run for mayor of La Porte last year.

Current LaPorte County Auditor Joie Winski cannot seek reelection because of a two-term limit.

Winski, a democrat, is running for LaPorte County Treasurer.

Treasurer Lynne Spevak also a democrat is running for county auditor.

1st Graders Reaching Out to Seniors

(LaPorte, IN) - About 50 first graders in La Porte made Valentine’s Day cards on Friday.

The cards are going to residents at Brentwood Assisted Living.

 

Jackie Dermody came up with the idea to brighten the day of the residents and teach

youngsters about the value of giving back. The first graders at Handley Elementary School were finished making Valentine’s Day cards from scratch in less than an hour.

 

Jackie is coordinating other volunteer activities in the city for her husband mayor

Tom Dermody, who took office at the first of the year.

New Buffalo Girls Shock Arch Rivals in Blow Out

(New Buffalo, MI) – In high school basketball, the New Buffalo girls defeated a tough Michigan

Lutheran squad and made it look easy. The final score was 54 to 34.

 

 

The Lady Bison lost to Michigan Lutheran for the district title the last two seasons.  It was also the first loss of the season for the Titans.  Nadia Collins led the way with 22 points.  She said the win, in such a big fashion, means a lot. The Lady Bison are 11-4 on the season.

Driver Found Dead in Water Filled Ditch

(Starke County, IN) - A North Judson woman was killed in a single-vehicle crash over the weekend.

Police say 53-year-old Lynn Zimmerman was traveling State Road 39 in Starke County.  For unknown reasons, her car wound up in a drainage ditch. The car was upside down submerged in water when emergency responders arrived about 6:30 a.m on Saturday.

Lady Slicers Beat MC, Advance to Regionals in La Porte

(Michigan City, IN) - High School Basketball Tournament season has begun here in Indiana.  First up, the Girls Basketball State Tournament, which kicked off this week across the state.  Michigan City was one of the host sites for the IHSAA Class 4A Sectionals, featuring the Girls Varsity squads from La Porte, Michigan City, Mishawaka, Plymouth, South Bend Adams, and South Bend Riley.

 

The LaPorte Slicers Girls Varsity team entered Sectionals with a win on Tuesday over South Bend Adams (63 - 37), and advanced to defeat South Bend Riley on Friday night (67 - 47).

 

Host team, the Michigan City Wolves, defeated Michawaka on Tuesday night (54 - 44) and then advanced to the Secional Championship game after beating Plymoth on Friday night (53 - 44).

 

The two rival schools met on Saturday night to determine the ISHAA Class 4A, Michigan City Secional Champion.  The LaPorte Slicers went on to defeat the Michigan City Wolves, 51 - 38, on their home hardwood.  

 

The IHSAA Regional Tournament will take place next Saturday (2/15) at four sites across the state.  LaPorte High School will be one of the host sites and will feature Crown Point vs. Penn (2/15 @ 10a), followed by LaPorte vs. Munster (2/15 @ Noon).  The LaPorte Slicers Girls Varsity Team currently has 18 wins and 7 losses this season - on their home court, LaPorte has won 8 of their 9 games played this season.  The Class 4A La Porte Regional Championship Game will be played at February 15th at 7p. 

 

 

New Website Nearing the Finish Line

(LaPorte, IN) -  The new La Porte County government website is about to be unveiled.

Originally, the website was expected to go online a month ago.

 

Commissioner Sheila Matias says several county departments with their own webpages

came forward late in the process wanting to join the county government page.

 

She said extra tweaking is also being done to make sure things are just right when the website makes its debut.

 

Matias says when the new website will go online will be announced at the commissioners

meeting on February 19.

New Buffalo Moving to Keep People Off Break Wall

(New Buffalo, MI) - With the water levels in Lake Michigan at elevated levels, the city of New Buffalo is working to keep people off its Breakwall by building a fence to deter individuals from wondering on to the rocks adjacent to the Breakwall.

 

Parks Director, Kristen D’Amico, says permission was given by the U.S Army Corps of

Engineers to erect the fence.  D'Amico states different types of fencing are being considered for the project.  Whatever fence is chosen will feature a gate that can be opend during an emergency or for maintainence work that The U.S Army Corps of Engineers will do at the site.  

 

Water levels in Lake Michigan are predicted to rise by another foot this year.  The goal is to have the fence erected before traffic along the lake increases in this summer.

1,000 points for Slicers Hoopster

(Valparaiso, IN) - A La Porte High School Basketball player reached a major playing milestone last night.  Garrott Ott-Large topped 1,000 points for his Slicers career.  He scored 31 points during the Slicers loss at Valparaiso last night.  Garrott Ott overcame a major knee injury in his freshman season to achieve the milestone.

Prison for Trigger Happy Gunman

(Michigan City, IN) -  Being trigger happy has landed Oshei Gerrin, a Michigan City resident, time in prison.  In June 2019, Michigan City Police state Gerrin showed up at a birthday party in the 700 block of Emma Street, despite not being invited to the celebration, and proceeded to fire shots.  Some of the rounds struck a garage where party goers fled for cover, and at least one bullet penetrated a nearby home.  Lucikly, Police stated nobody was wounded during this incident.  

 

Oshei Gerrin has been sentenced to two years in prison, followed by two years of work release and probation.

Hammer Lowering on Drug and Code Violators

The heat is being turned up on code violators and drug dealers in LaPorte.  Chief Paul Brettin says officers suspecting drugs are in a vehicle, for example, are not turning the other cheek.

 

They’re getting search warrants to confirm their suspicions and if drugs are found they’re not

making it onto the streets. Brettin was among the speakers at the mayor’s business roundtable last night.

 

Police say the department will be allowing the public to once again come inside

without having to be buzzed in. The city of La Porte is targeting not just unsightly properties but places where police are constantly called because of crime and other forms of a nuisance.

Code enforcement director Jeff Batchelor also speaking at the roundtable says a code violator’s fines start at 150 dollars.

 

However, the fine goes up when police officers have to respond.  Batchelor also spoke at the mayor’s business roundtable last night.  He says 464 code violation citations were issued last month alone. Mayor Tom Dermody said business roundtables will be held quarterly to keep open a line of communication with merchants.

Public Comment Screened to Prevent False Accusations

A screening process is now in place for any complaints or allegations against employees

of La Porte County government and elected officials.

 

It was adopted a few weeks ago. But, a reminder was given yesterday by La Porte County Commissioner Sheila Matias.

 

Her reminder came after a La Porte woman at a public meeting questioned why a driver for

the highway department was still driving because of a previous driving-related legal matter.

 

Matias said such complaints will be investigated before allowed to go public to make sure they’re

accurate. 

 

County attorney Shaw Friedman said it’s only fair to avoid someone being falsely accused

In a public setting.

 

The issue was raised at Wednesday’s La Porte County Commissioners meeting.

Rail Connection Grant Called a Major Breakthrough

A lot of people were involved in what could get job creation really going at

Kingsbury Industrial Park.

 

A one million dollar state grant was recently obtained. It will pay for a rail line to bring CSX railroad into the park. During yesterday’s county commissioners meeting, commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora said numerous individuals were involved in what could open the floodgates to jobs at

KIP.

 

Commissioner Sheila Matias called the grant a real breakthrough because of the many years

invested in getting Kingsbury Industrial Park to this position.

 

The connection with CSX is expected to happen as soon as this year. Getting Canadian National Railroad into the park could also happen this year or maybe next year.

Area Fugitive Nabbed in Mexico

 

An area man on the run for five years has been arrested in Mexico.  Willam Stanson was wanted for child sex crimes since 2015. Police say the Berrien County Michigan man was recently featured on a TV show about fugitives called "In Pursuit with John Walsh on the Discovery network.  Tips from the show led to him being taken into custody in Mexico near California.

River Bath Driver Identified

We know more about the driver who took a bath when he drove into the Galien River in

New Buffalo.  30-year old Corbin Turner was the driver.  Police say he had a blood-alcohol level two and a half times the legal limit.

 

Three weeks ago, the Benton Harbor man told officers he was heading to Four Winds Casino and

got lost. He missed a curve next to the public beach and drove straight into the river.  New Buffalo Police say Turner managed to get out the sinking vehicle through a back door before the

SUV was completely submerged.  Police say he has a prior OWI conviction from 2014.

Possible Changes at Transporte

Changes are being proposed for the city of La Porte’s public transportation system.

 

Instead of a Director at Transporte, there would be a manager under an ordinance presented to the city council this week. The pay would go from just over 50 thousand dollars to slightly more than 39 thousand.  Mayor Tom Dermody says he would also like to increase ridership to reduce the city’s cost of operating Transporte.

 

He says fares generated about $111,000 while the city subsidizes the service with about $190,000

annually. The ordinance going from director to manager is expected to be voted on by the city council at its next meeting on February 18.

Dog Bite Sends Toddler to Hospital

A Michigan City area toddler wound up at the hospital after bitten by the family’s dog

this week.

 

According to LaPorte County Police, the pit bull mix was let outside Tuesday to use the bathroom.

When it was allowed back in, the dog grabbed a piece of pizza the two-year-old was eating. 

 

Police say the toddler tried to get the slice of pizza back and was bitten on the upper lip and

right eyebrow. The toddler was taken away by ambulance. No further information on the injuries was provided.

 

According to police, the family plans to get rid of the dog due to a previous act of aggression.

Day Care Center Evacuated

A day-care center in Michigan City was evacuated late this morning.  At about 11 a.m., firefighters were called to Imagination Station on Coolspring Ave. No actual fire was reported. Smoke inside the building was caused possibly a furnace overheating. Firefighters were at the scene for less than an hour.

No Charges in Beer Bottle Fight

At a local watering hole, there was no gunfight like you would see at a wild west

saloon. B, they were tossing beer bottles at each other. According to the sheriff’s office, deputies were called Saturday to the Come On Inn, in Fish Lake.

 

It was about closing time when heated words started being exchanged between some of the customers and a bartender. Then they started throwing beer bottles at each other.  Some were full. Police say the female bartender had blood on her forehead, but they were not sure if it was caused by getting hit by one of the bottles. No arrests were made because of all the parties blaming each other.

MCHS Work Program State Certified

 

Kids at Michigan City High School are learning manufacturing skills. The Compressed Air Academy has been recognized by the state as a certified program.

 

Officials say it’s the first of its kind in the nation. Students are learning how to operate machinery and other skills to work in local air compressor related businesses. Superintendent Barbara Eason Watkins said the program opens the door to the future for students in the class. The program has 47 students.

 

Eason-Watkins said they spend two hours a day in the academy. The skills learned puts them in a position to start working right after they graduate and they receive college credit if they go that route.

Strong Showing for LPHS Color Guard

The La Porte High School winter color guard finished third in a recent out of state competition.

The squad finished just 1.4 points behind the first-place finisher. The competition was Sunday in Chicago. Music Coordinator Matt Sullivan says the winter color guard performs next on Sunday in Naperville, Illinois.

Clock Ticking on Former Bar

Demolition is planned in La Porte’s downtown area. The old Lady Rose bar and a residential structure next to it will be torn. Mayor Tom Dermody says the plan is for that to happen sometime

In the next few months. Both buildings on E. Lincolnway have drawn a lot of complaints from citizens over the past few years.

"Changed" Molester's Fate Sealed

 

A 73-year old Michigan City child molester arguing he’s a changed man who shouldn’t have to die in prison has lost his appeal.

 

David Allen was given a 55-year prison sentence in April for engaging in deviate sexual conduct and fondling on two girls, including one who was 7 when first violated by him.

 

Nine other counts for molesting four girls and one boy from 2000 to 2016 were dismissed in exchange for the plea.

 

 

In his appeal, Allen said a “virtual life sentence” was excessive based on the “light nature of the offense” for a changed man extremely vulnerable in a prison setting.

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the sentence despite his “uncontrollable deviancy” was seven-years below the maximum and even a minimum 20-year sentence would likely mean Allen never getting out.

 

The judges also disputed his argument that he was not among the “worst of the worst.” “Allen does not seem to understand or appreciate the incalculable misery that he has caused his victims,” the judges stated in their ruling.

 

According to court documents, police were contacted when one of the victims following a seminar about inappropriate touching at school told her mother.

Later coming forward were other victims, including one who reported Allen made her watch as he molested a boy with autism.

 

According to court records, Allen once the allegations surfaced tried suicide by ingesting morphine and oxycodone then at the hospital repeatedly stated he wanted to die.

Charges in Crash and Chase

A La Porte area man was seriously hurt when he struck a tree allegedly while driving intoxicated.

Police say 28-year-old Timothy Zwiers had a blood alcohol level three and a half times the legal limit. He was charged today in La Porte Circuit Court.

 

According to police, Zwiers nearly hit a vehicle head-on last week in the 57 hundred block of

W. Johnson Road.

 

He then crashed through a privacy fence and struck a tree next to a home. Police say Zwiers took off running, but was found by following his footprints and blood in the snow.

 

He allegedly kicked an officer in the head several times before taken to the hospital with blood

on his face. 

 

Zwiers was later transferred to a hospital in South Bend.

LPHS Bowling Team Makes History

For the first time ever, the boys’ bowling team from La Porte High School made it to the state finals.

 

Head coach Toby Kraus says the team got better as the season went on. They were honored at last night’s city council meeting. 12 bowling teams made it to the state finals. The Slicers finished 11th.

Second Ban Imposed on Cash Jobs

Contractors paying their workers cash is now banned from major public projects in the city.

Last night, the city council adopted the measure.

 

This comes three weeks after paying cash was banned on major private construction projects.

Normally, ordinances first presented are given a two week waiting period before voted on.

 

But, this one was approved right away on a motion by councilwoman Karyl Feikes. Mayor Tom Dermody says the measures start the process of setting a higher standard in various areas.

Officials say the measures assurance taxes are withheld and workman’s compensation insurance

Is provided.

 

Officials also believe it assures only quality contractors get hired….

Public Input Sought for Stone Lake

The public is urged to have a voice in developing recreational opportunities

along Stone Lake in LaPorte.  Lakeshore Dr. was converted recently to one way, to provide room for trails and other amenities.

 

This evening, the park board is taking public comment on how to further develop that area.

Mayor Tom Dermody is asking people to be part of the process. The park board meets this evening at 6 p.m. at Cummings Lodge.

Site Work for Condos Nearing Completion

Site preparation work continues for 200 upscale condominiums planned beside Clear Lake

in La Porte.

 

Bert Cook, Executive Director of the LaPorte Economic Advancement Partnership,  says an environmental clean up is happening at the site right now.

 

That will be wrapping up in the coming weeks then Cook says construction will begin likely in May.

The project is estimated at more than 30 million dollars.

 

It’s expected to spur further development at New Porte Landing because of the people projected

to be drawn to the new residential site.

New Bakery Opens in LaPorte

 

There’s a new bakery in downtown La Porte.  New Age Baking Co. opened Saturday at 612 Lincolnway.  Pastries and other baked goods like cookies and wedding cakes are available there.

At times, so are homemade pizza, wings, and breadsticks.

 

New Age Baking Co. has another location in New Carlisle. That’s been in business for several years now.

Snakes Surviving Fire Reclaimed

 

A La Porte man has claimed his snakes. Pet Supplies Plus was taking care of three snakes that survived a house fire nearly three weeks on Woodward St. Other snakes died.

 

Sean Snyder,  who manages the store, said the man retrieved his snakes late last week. Snyder says the snakes were well taken care of prior to the fire.

 

LaPorte Fire Chief, Andy Snyder, said the man revealed he had as many as 15 snakes in the upstairs apartment.

 

Originally, six were counted, but there were others burned up the fire department didn’t know about until just recently.

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