Local News Archives for 2020-04

Mayor's Executive Order Expires at Midnight

(LaPorte, IN) - Executive Order 1-2020, also known as the Retail Responsibility Act, will expire tomorrow, according to Mayor Tom Dermody.  “With changes expected to be made to the governor’s ‘stay-at-home’ order later this week, I have advised the city council against extending the Retail Responsibility Act,” Dermody said. “Though restrictions will be lifted, I urge retailers and shoppers to continue taking the necessary safety precautions as we continue to navigate this pandemic together.” 

 

The executive order, which expires at 12:01 a.m. on May 1, limited customers entering a store within the city to one person per family. It also required retailers to limit the number of customers in the store at a given time to 2 per 1,000 square feet.

 

Dermody said though these constraints will be lifted, he expects many retailers will continue to implement various safety measures on their own. “I’ve had conversations with many of our retailers and they seem to agree that things cannot just go back to normal,” Dermody said. “We are not out of the woods yet with this coronavirus situation, so shoppers will likely see some restrictions continue. I encourage residents to be patient with our retail community as they work to keep the public and their employees safe.”

Flooding at New Buffalo Shoreline Called "Historical"

(New Buffalo, MI) - Much of the shoreline in New Buffalo today was underwater. Strong winds and a lot of rain lifted the already record high water levels of Lake Michigan.

 

Bob Stratton, the owner of Service 1 Marine, said flooding was really bad last year, but this is the worst he’s seen yet. New Buffalo city manager Dave Richards called the flooding historical. At one point, Richards said the swollen lake, because of the waves rolling in, was shoved over the beach, the beach parking lot, and Whittaker St. north of the bridge.

 

He said a new seawall along the Galien River to prevent flooding did some good, but will need shoring up to hold back all of the water when the tide rises. He also said repairs are also planned to a drain to keep some of the water in the harbor from leaching onto the street but if the lake wasn't this high the flooding happening now would not be occurring. Richards says the water on the lakefront side of Whittaker St. was about 18 inches deep.

Rest Stop Masks for Truckers

(Lowell, IN) - Truck drivers can get a free mask tomorrow courtesy of Indiana State Police. The masks will be handed out at the rest area on Interstate 94 here in LaPorte County.

 

Police say the purpose is to make sure people delivering the goods and services needed are as safe as possible. Tomorrow’s giveaway begins at 9 a.m. The rest stop is at the 43-mile marker of Interstate 94.

Lighthouse Place Plans to Reopen Saturday

(Michigan City, IN) - Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets in Michigan City is among 10 shopping malls in Indiana planning to reopen Saturday. That’s according to various published reports.  Jack Arnett, executive director of the LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau says Lighthouse Place opening back up would help bring visitors back to the community and further the process of returning to normal. Reports indicate University Park Mall in Mishawaka is among the malls planning to reopen Saturday.

Coronavirus Virus Strikes Out Hall of Fame Ceremony

(Cooperstown, NY) - Not even the hallowed Baseball Hall of Fame can dodge the impact of coronavirus.  This year’s induction ceremony in Cooperstown has been canceled. 

 

An expected record crowd of more than 70,000 for the July 26 ceremony was deemed too risky for spreading the virus. Derek Jeter, Larry Walker, and Ted Simmons were among the former players scheduled to be inducted.

Indoor Service Allowed in Greenhouses

(Kingsbury, IN) - It’s pretty much business as usual at greenhouses here in the state. At Blooms Greenhouse in Kingsbury, there’s plenty of room for social distancing in addition to the usual flowers, plants, and other products. Bill Christakes, the owner,  says the take out restrictions for greenhouses statewide were lifted recently. 

 

Christakes says there’s more of an open-air environment from an extensive ventilation system in the greenhouses along with some product being outdoors which should ease any concerns. He says precautions like reconfiguring the checkout areas have also been taken to promote social distancing. Blooms Greenhouse is on Hupp Road inside Kingsbury Industrial Park.

National Guard Helping at Westville Prison

(Westville, IN) - The Indiana National Guard is now helping with the COVID-19 outbreak at Westville Prison.  Reports indicate members were brought in to restore staffing levels diminished

by the number of confirmed cases. Published reports also indicate national Guard medics are working the prison Infirmary, not inside the inmate housing units. 

 

How long they will be there was not known. Reports indicate the extra hands are not in response to this week’s protest by loved ones of inmates. As of Wednesday, officials say there were 146 inmates and 38 correctional officers testing positive. Nearly half of all the state prison inmates testing positive are at Westville. About one-fourth of all Indiana Department of Correction employees testing positive are at Westville.

Gov. Holcomb announces large-scale COVID-19 testing for Hoosiers

(Indianapolis, IN) — Governor Eric J. Holcomb today announced OptumServe Health Services, powered by Logistics Health, Inc., will open sites across Indiana in the next seven days to begin large-scale testing of Hoosiers.

 

“Launching this partnership with Optum further expands Indiana’s COVID-19 testing capacity,” said Gov. Holcomb. “These free tests will be available in locations across the state, ensuring even more Hoosiers who have symptoms or an affected family member can get tested for coronavirus.”

 

In the first 30 days, 100,000 Hoosiers are expected to be tested. Testing is for any symptomatic Hoosier, close contacts of positive cases, or residents of congregate living settings.

 

Hoosiers can get tested without visiting a healthcare provider. State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box will issue a standing order for the test for any Hoosier who meets the criteria.

 

In the next seven days, 20 testing sites will open in Indiana National Guard armories and an additional 30 testing sites will open in the next 14 days for a total of 50 testing sites. Each site will be open for at least eight hours per day, Monday – Friday. A map is attached.

 

Testing will be by appointment only. Registration will open 48 hours before testing sites open. To sign up for an appointment, Hoosiers will register through the Optum portal that will launch soon and self-report symptoms using an online screening tool. A hotline phone number will be added soon.

 

Hoosiers will receive results within 48 hours on average. Results will be provided to the patient via a phone call if the test is positive or via an email or text if the test is negative.

 

Hoosiers will not be charged for testing and insurance is not required. If you have private health insurance, please bring that information with you.

 

“We have been working diligently to increase access to testing throughout Indiana with drive-thru clinics and strike teams,” said Dr. Box. “By joining forces with Optum, we will ensure that testing for COVID-19 is available to Hoosiers who need it most.” 

 

OptumServe will collect the swabs specimens, and manage the testing and reporting of data. OptumServe is providing its own supplies, PPE, testing kits, staffing, and lab – increasing Indiana’s overall testing capacity. The Indiana State Department of Health will continue to target focused testing and high-risk populations in its testing.

 

An estimated 4,400 more Hoosiers will be tested every day in the initial phase. Once all 50 sites are open, as many as 6,600 more Hoosiers can be tested per day.

South Shore Line announces free rides for Medical personnel on the Frontlines

(Chesterton, IN)  – To show appreciation for the medical personnel who are tirelessly working on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, South Shore Line (SSL) is inviting all doctors, nurses, EMTs, paramedics, and other medical personnel to ride free throughout the months of May and June.

 

“Many healthcare workers and medical personnel have continued to ride with us to their jobs since the pandemic started. We not only want to show our appreciation for their ridership but also for the work they are doing in their critical jobs on the frontlines,” said Michael Noland, President of South Shore Line. “Their selflessness has not gone unnoticed, and we want to express our sincere appreciation.”

 

To ride free, medical personnel must only present a valid work ID to SSL train personnel that shows they are employed at a hospital, doctor’s office, medical facility, or local fire department. Additionally, any medical personnel who have purchased a paper monthly ticket for May can request a refund by contacting us at https://www.mysouthshoreline.com/contact. Those who have purchased a digital monthly ticket for May via the mobile app can request a refund by emailing App Support in the app menu and attaching a photo of their valid work ID.

 

SSL also invites frontline workers to participate in the #ssltothefrontline giveaway contest on Facebook for a chance to win tickets and a goodie bag. SSL is asking all frontline workers who are riding the train to post a picture while on the train, along with the hashtag #ssltothefrontline, and share something about themselves. All submissions will be featured on social media to allow the public to thank those who are providing critical services during this difficult time.

 

SSL continues to monitor direction provided by the CDC and Indiana and Illinois officials as it pertains to the stay-at-home order. SSL thanks passengers for their patience and cooperation during this time.

 

The South Shore Line is a commuter rail line operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (NICTD) between Millennium Station in downtown Chicago and the South Bend International Airport in South Bend, Indiana.

Transporte Extends Free Essential Rides

(LaPorte, IN) - Free bus rides in the city of LaPorte will continue for at least another few weeks.

According to the mayor’s office, riding Transporte will remain at no cost until the 15th of next month.

 

The rides are restricted to essential trips only. Beginning Monday, the buses will be running for longer hours from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to the mayor's office. 

Citizens Applauded for Tidying Up LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - LaPorte mayor Tom Dermody is applauding citizens for doing their part in shining up the apple.  There’s been a real effort the past few weeks to pick up litter after the mayor appealed for people to get involved in cleaning up the city.

 

The park department is among those involved in picking up litter at New Porte Landing and other areas of the city.  A number of residents have also reported problem areas that need correcting and picked up their properties.

 

One of the incentives is receiving a “LaPorte Proud” t-shirt by posting before and after pictures on the mayor’s Facebook page and the city website.  Dermody says the street department is also lending a hand by aggressively sweeping the curbs. The mayor says there are still plenty of t-shirts to give out for people helping with the cause.

Brewing Food Shortages Potentially Averted

(Washington D.C.) - The president has taken action to try and prevent a food shortage. Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order allowing meat processing plants to stay open. The action followed estimates up to 80 percent of meat production could be reduced nationwide due to all of the processing plants closing due to coronavirus.

 

The president said his order keeps plants from being sued for staying open. Two of the shuttered plants processing millions of pounds of pork are here in Indiana. The action is good news for farmers so their hogs and other livestock can get to market instead of backing up on their farms. 

 

Loved Ones of Inmates Protest at Westville Prison

(Westville, IN) - Loved ones of Westville prison inmates concerned about COVID-19 protested Tuesday. As many as 70 vehicles were in the drive-by protest. 

 

Protesters alleged inmates were mistreated even before the COVID-19 outbreak and feel non-violent offenders nearing the end of their sentences should be released to serve the balance of their time on home detention or probation to avoid the health risk.

 

Officials disputed claims of mistreatment saying masks are available for each inmate and restrictions were lifted on communicating with family members. More than 140 inmates have tested positive for coronavirus along with at least 15 staff members, officials said.

Food Give Away Today

(LaPorte, IN) - Food will be given out in LaPorte this morning.  It’ll be at LaPorte High School in the F Street parking lot from 10 a.m. to noon.

 

 The Food Bank of Northern Indiana will be distributing the supplies. Adults can drive up to a truck where the food will be given out.

Lifting Ban a Life Raft for Boating Industry

(New Buffalo, MI) - The state of Michigan allowing motorboats back in the water may have kept communities along Lake Michigan free of tumbleweeds and the boating industry from capsizing.

 

Bob Stratton is the owner of Service 1 Marine at the state line. He says that allowing the use of boats during the COVID-19 crisis was like throwing a life raft to his business and the city of New Buffalo threatened severely had the ban dragged on all season.

 

Stratton since the decision Friday has already started ripping shrink wrap off luxury boats in his storage yard to start getting them ready to hit the water.

Jail Remains COVID-19 Free

(LaPorte, IN) - There are still no confirmed COVID-19 cases at the La Porte County Jail.  According to the sheriff’s office, 19 inmates showing symptoms were tested yesterday and every one of the tests came back negative.

 

Three contract workers also tested negative. The sheriff’s office says the situation continues to be monitored closely and efforts like cleaning the jail remain aggressive.

 

Local Business Salutes Nursing Employees

(LaPorte, IN) - Richard & Terri Vyse of  Haverstock Funeral Home wanted to show their love for nursing professionals.  But they wanted to do something different than a pizza party.

 

So they decided to give them chocolates. Richard and Teri said, "We both felt pizza has been done a lot and this would give them a nice sweet pick-me-up and our way and saying Thank you for the job they are doing." 

 

So they ordered about 100 boxes of chocolates, and keeping local, acquired them here in La Porte. Next, they contacted the nursing homes and informed them of what we would like to do. They all responded with excitement and invited us to please stop by.

 

Then with lights a blazing, the pair delivered the sweet treats in their vintage Cadillac Ambulance.

 

It's wonderful stories like this, amid the COVID-19 Pandemic that show the strength and purpose of our community. Richard and Terri, kudos on a job well done.

Another Prison Worker Dies from Coronavirus

(Indianapolis, IN) - Another prison staff member in Indiana has died from coronavirus.

 

Officials say the latest employee to die worked at the Indiana Women’s Prison in Indianapolis.

The first was a 67-year-old correctional officer from a prison in the southwest part of the state.

 

Officials report four inmates have died including one at Westville. Westville Prison has close to 170 confirmed COVID-19 infections among inmates and staffers. There are 426 total cases in all of the state prisons.

No Harm from Small Fuel Spill

(Michigan City, IN) - A small gasoline spill in Lake Michigan had emergency responders in Michigan City on their toes recently. 

 

According to the mayor’s office, the Coast Guard on Friday discovered a sheen on the water near the lighthouse. As it turned out, officials say the sheen was from a spill of one to the gallons of gasoline probably from a small watercraft.

 

The fuel was allowed to dissipate in the choppy lake on its own. Officials say there was no harm to the shoreline or drinking water from the small spill.

United Way of LaPorte County Receives Record Donation

(LaPorte County, IN) - A major shot in the arm has been given to help people locally during these challenging times.

 

The United Way of LaPorte County has received more than $600,000. The money is from the Lilly Foundation out of Indianapolis. Dave Sisk of the United Way of LaPorte County called it the largest single donation to the group in its history but it will go fast in the coming weeks from unemployment tied to coronavirus being so high.

 

The funds are in addition to the 120 thousand United Way of LaPorte County collected separately the past several weeks for its ongoing COVID-19 relief efforts.

Possible Meat Shortage Looming

(Delphi, IN) - A second pork processing plant in northern Indiana is temporarily shutdown

due to COVID-19.  

 

The latest is Indiana Packers Corporation is in Delphi.  The shutdown comes after Tyson temporarily shuttered its plant in Logansport. Reports indicate 15 meat processing firms mostly in the Midwest have quit processing meat for now due to the virus.  Fears are growing about a major impact on the meat supply.

OWI Stay At Home Violator Alleged

( LaPorte County, IN) - Sunday a deputy pulled over a vehicle that was speeding while eastbound on US 20.  A check of the license plates revealed the registered owner’s driver’s license was

suspended.

 

Deputy Epple initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle in the 6500 east block of SR 2. The driver was identified as 61-year-old Wilbert Bureau, Jr., the registered owner of the vehicle. Soon after, Deputy Epple learned that Bureau had a warrant for his arrest. 

 

 

Bureau was taken into custody and eventually transported to the La Porte County Jail, where

he was arrested for three counts of Operating While Intoxicated, Violation of No Travel Order, and for the arrest warrant. Bureau remains housed in the LCJ and is being held without bond.

 

Indiana COVID-19 Cases Near 16,000

(Indianapolis, IN) - 31 more deaths from coronavirus virus are reported

in Indiana.

That’s according to figures released today by state health officials.

There were also 963 new confirmed cases in the state.

Total confirmed cases statewide is close to 16,000 now.

There have been 844 deaths.

Officials say the total number of cases in LaPorte County

now stands at 192 and five deaths.

A vast majority of the local cases are at Westville prison.

Officials report 15 total cases and one death in Starke County.

215 cases and five deaths in Porter County and 586 cases and 15 deaths in

St. Joseph County.

COVID-19 Claims First Indiana Correctional Officer

(Indianapolis, IN) - The first correctional officer in the state has died from

coronavirus.

Officials say the 67 year old officer worked at Wabash Valley Correctional

Facility.

Officials say he began showing symptoms about a month ago and

later tested positive for the virus.

His wife is also a correctional officer at the same facility between

Terre Haute and Evansville.

Beechwood Golf Course Opening Friday

(LaPorte, IN) - The golf course owned by the city of LaPorte will be opening soon.  Officials say Beechwood Golf Course will open on Friday.  It’s been closed since the 4th of this month.

 

Restrictions include one person per cart. Golfers should not touch flag sticks and must stay at least six feet from each other. Violators will be asked to leave. Officials say leagues are also planned at Beechwood starting next Monday.

Masks Now Required in Michigan Stores

(New Buffalo, MI) - Customers wearing masks started being required Monday at grocery stores like Barney’s in New Buffalo under the Michigan governor’s revised stay at home order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

 

         Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended the order until May 15 with revisions including customers at essential retail establishments like grocery stores and pharmacies statewide having to wear masks or some other covering over their noses and mouths.

 

         The face coverings which can make breathing more of a challenge are required as long as customers are able to medically tolerate it.

 

         Whitmer said violators will not face criminal penalties but stores will be allowed not to serve them.

 

         “Please wear a mask. It’s in everybody’s best interest,” said New Buffalo Police Chief Rich Killips.

 

         Masks were still in option in nearby Indiana under the governor’s stay at home order in that state but a growing number of customers at grocery stores like Aldi and Meijer in Michigan City have been choosing to wear them.

 

         “It’s a little bit different in Indiana compared to Michigan.  We’re doing our best to keep the loyal customers safe and also our workers,” said Brad Debald, a security officer at Barney’s Supermarket.

 

         For a few weeks now, Barney’s has been complying with the governor’s restrictions by limiting the number of customers inside the store at one time to 40.     

 

          Debald said the doors had to be temporarily closed on three separate occasions Sunday afternoon to avoid exceeding the customer limit.

 

         The customer limits based on square footage are still in effect under the governor’s extended order.

Sentencing Set for Former Mayoral Candidate

(Michigan City, IN) - Sentencing is scheduled next month for a man who ran for mayor in Michigan City.

 

Clifford Thatcher Jr. allegedly broke his girlfriend’s jaw two and a half months ago. According to court documents, she lived together at Normandy Village Apartments. They were arguing when things became physical. At one point, the evidence shows Thatcher threw an elbow striking her

in the jaw.

 

Thatcher pleaded guilty last week and is scheduled for sentencing on May 21st. Thatcher was a candidate for mayor in Michigan City last year but never made any public appearances and received just a handful of votes.

Shake-up in New Carlisle Police Department

(New Carlisle) - There’s been a major shake-up at the police department in New Carlisle.

The chief of police and his deputy chief resigned abruptly late last week.

Chief Cal Dittmar tendered his resignation last Thursday. The next day, Chief Deputy Brian Thompson retired.

New Carlisle town councilman Jordon Budreau says the announcements came suddenly. "It just kind of happened abruptly," he says. "I talked with the poilice oficers last week, and kind of put some of their worries at ease."

Although their departures were unexpected, Dittmar and Thompson had been embroiled in a legal controversy for some time. In the past year and a half, two separate lawsuits were brought against the pair, alleging they secretly recorded private conversations at police headquarters. The civil suits were filed by the former Chief of Police and a former officer, along with three others. Budreau would not comment on whether the resignations are connected to the lawsuits.

For now, Jim Niedbalski is serving as interim police chief. A search for replacements in ongoing. Budreau expects the positions to be filled in a few weeks.

LaPorte Graduation Hangs in Balance

(LaPorte, IN) - No decision has been made on where to hold the LaPorte High School graduation.

Westville officials have decided to hold their graduation ceremony at the 49’er drive-in theatre near Valparaiso.

 

Schools Superintendent Mark Francesconi says he’s not sure what will be allowed when LaPorte’s graduation ceremony in June because of expected changes in the governor’s stay at home order and social distancing guidelines.

 

He hopes to have a clearer picture in the coming weeks so a decision can be made by the middle of next month at the latest.

 

Francesconi says a lot of things are on the table and students are being surveyed to find out what they prefer.

 

He says having the ceremony at Kiwanis Field is most desired with the least desired option being a remote graduation ceremony. He hopes a decision can be made by no later than the middle of next month.

Michigan Boaters Can Now Drop Anchor

(Lansing, MI) - Boaters in New Buffalo and all of Michigan are jumping for joy. The governor is now allowing motorboats to be used.

 

Bob Stratton is the owner of Service 1 Marine at the state line. He has about 300 boats still in storage because of the ban that was in place. He’s now getting those boats ready to start hitting the water.

 

Stratton said, “This is great news. A lot of boaters are anxious to get on their boats and social distance and get out of the house.” New Buffalo City resident, Dave Richards also said, "It’s good news with boating such an essential driver of the local economy. " Under the governor’s relaxed rules, people in motorboats still must practice social distancing.

 

Traveling between residences is also now allowed, but strongly discouraged.

Gov. Holcomb Signs Executive Order To Expedite Appeals of Unemployment Insurance Claims

(Indianapolis, IN) - Thursday afternoon, Governor Eric J. Holcomb today signed an executive order to speed up the review of unemployment insurance claim appeals during the fight against COVID-19.

 

The executive order 20-23 allows the Department of Workforce Development to hire additional staff to review the appeals.   The executive order also waives paperwork requirements to help businesses apply for federal assistance under programs such as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), and temporarily waives requirements for documents connected to certain alcohol permits.

 

Additionally, the executive order extends the business personal property tax deadlines to June 15, 2020.

Quicker COVID-19 Testing at LaPorte Hospital

(LaPorte, IN) – In-house testing for coronavirus is now being done at LaPorte Hospital.

Previously, hospital officials say specimens were sent to outside laboratories and it took two to six days to receive the results.

 

The hospital has now obtained testing kids that can achieve results on-site within 24 hours in most cases, Officials say LaPorte Hospital is now doing testing for other hospitals in the area.

A doctor’s order is required for an individual to be tested.

Local Officials Could Force Prison to Open

(Westville, IN) -Local officials might force their way inside Westville prison.  LaPorte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski says, "There’s reason to wonder If prison officials are telling the whole truth about the COVID-19 situation."

 

He says, "There's been conflicting data and resistance to open up the prison to local officials.

The LaPorte County Health Department has the authority to go inside the prisons even if administrators don’t want them to." 

 

Prison officials say 130 inmates at the prison have tested positive for coronavirus and at least 15 staff members have also been diagnosed, officials.

 

One inmate and five staff members at Indiana State Prison are reported to have tested positive.

LaPorte Also Looking to Open Things Back Up

(LaPorte, IN) - The city of LaPorte is also working on reopening its economy.  Social distancing restrictions on retailers are in effect until early May. They could be extended but they might not be.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody says the entire business community is being approached about doing what’s needed to safely do business once the restrictions here are lifted. Requirements could include wearing masks and gloves. 

 

It’ll be up to the city council to decide whether to extend what’s called “The Retail Responsibility Act set to expire in less than two weeks."

Indiana Pork Plant Latest COVID-19 Victim

(Logansport, IN) - COVID-19 has temporarily shut down another meat processing plant.   This one is less than a two-hour drive from LaPorte. The Tyson plant in Logansport processes hogs.

 

It was shut down Wednesday from having more than 100 employees Infected with the virus.

About three million pounds of pork roll out the plant daily. That’s about three percent of all the pork nationwide.

 

Jim Mintert, an agriculture economist at Purdue University, said several plants are now closed in states like Iowa and South Dakota makes an impact on the nation’s food supply because those operations are huge.

 

Indiana has at least one other major pork processing plant near Lafayette which is still operating.

LaPorte County Fair Still On Despite COVID-19

(LaPorte, IN) - There will be a LaPorte County Fair this year as long as “Big Brother” doesn’t step in.

The fair board met last night.

 

The decision was to go ahead with the fair as long as President Trump or the governor doesn’t order it to be canceled.

 

Catherine Mrozinski is the surer of the La Porte County Agricultural Association, which is the governing body of the fair. She says all of the preparations are still being made to have the

fair scheduled July 12-18. Even if 4-H decides to pull out of the fair, she says the fair

will go on with Pioneerland, the usual entertainment and vendors unless government would order it shutdown.

 

She said 4-H is a separate organization whose members are guests always welcome to use the facilities at the fairgrounds. If the 4-H pulls out, she says it’s still up to the Ag Association to decide

whether to have the fair.

 

Purdue Extension is in charge of 4-H and officials with that organization Based in West Lafayette say a decision on whether 4-H will take part in fairs this year is scheduled May 15.

Door Opens Wider for Voting by Mail

(LaPorte, IN) - LaPorte County government is giving all people a chance to vote by mail because of the risk of going to the polls from coronavirus. Normally, people have to ask for an application to vote by mail then fill out the application, send it back to the county clerk’s office, and wait for a ballot. Now, mail-in applications are going to be sent to all registered voters in the county as a way of encouraging them to vote by mail.

 

County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora made the proposal approved yesterday. He says going to the polls is just too risky from COVID-19 for voters and poll workers.

 

The May primary has been pushed back to June 2 due to COVID-19 here in Indiana. Voters can still go to the polls if they wish and take part in early voting at the courthouses. LaPorte County Clerk Kathy Chroback estimated the cost of all of the extra mailings, supplies, and extra labor to county and process the ballots at well over $200,000. Kora vowed to give her office the support it needs to be successful.

Officials Insist on Correct Prison Infection Data

(LaPorte, IN) - LaPorte County officials have directly asked the Indiana Department of Correction for accurate information to help keep a mounting number of COVID-19 cases especially at Westville Correctional Center from multiplying outside prison walls.

            Conflicting numbers and unreturned data seeking telephone calls to WCC and Indiana State Prison triggered the request made to William Wilson, Northern Regional Director of Adult Facilities for the DOC, during a special meeting Wednesday of the LaPorte County Commissioners.

            Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora said timely and correct information on staff members testing positive allows the LaPorte County Health Department to investigate as quickly as possible who the prison employees have had recent contact with so those individuals can be tested and self-quarantine for 14 days, if necessary, to limit the spread out into the community. 

            Kora, a board member at Franciscan Health at Michigan City, also said an accurate count of inmates diagnosed with COVID-19 assists to prepare hospitals for a potential surge of patients and gives the public confidence in what’s transpiring inside the prisons. 

            He specifically asked Wilson to appoint someone at each prison to gather and provide daily updated COVID-19 case data to the LaPorte County Health Department.

            “There’s no system there for somebody to communicate to the outside agencies like the LaPorte County Health Department so what we are trying to do is create the system for them. It’s not that they don’t want to cooperate.  They have no system and they’re in the midst of outbreaks and they’re all kind of running ragged,” Kora said.

            Wilson said there were 129 offenders and 18 staff members as of Wednesday testing positive for COVID-19 at the Westville prison.

            He said another 26 inmates showing symptoms at Westville are in isolation.

            Confining all of the over 3,000 inmates at the prison to their housing units are among the restrictions in place at Westville. .

            “The facility is basically on lock down ,” Wilson said.

            Wilson said he didn’t have any figures from Indiana State Prison.

            According to the IDOC webpage, just one ISP inmate had tested positive.

            The website also revealed 101 staff members in all state correctional facilities were diagnosed with COVID-19.

            Where the workers testing positive are employed was not posted.

            Kora said the information he received, though, shows infections in five ISP staff members.

            “It has been kind of hit and miss so we want it consistent,” he said.             

According to Wilson, positive case figures from each prison go directly to the Indiana State Department of Health at the direction of ISDH Commissioner Kristina Box. 

            He offered no answers on why the figures the LaPorte County Health Department obtained from the ISDH and the prisons were different.  

            “I’m not sure about the disconnect,” he said.

            Wilson also said he will pursue the request for improved communication with the medical supervisors at the prisons.

            “I’ll make sure that we have an opportunity to report those numbers to you as we are with the Indiana State Department of Health,” he said.

            He said hospitals in LaPorte, Porter and St. Joseph counties have been contacted for bed space if the need arises to such a level. 

            Another example of discrepancy in data is ISDH reporting 146 positive test results Wednesday in LaPorte County.

            The total should be much higher when adding the 55 cases reported by the LaPorte County Health Department from the general public to the number of infections at the prisons. . 

            Commissioner Sheila Matias said insisting on correction information was not asking too much especially with the risks involved with prisons during a pandemic.

            “People in our community work there and they’re coming back into our community day in and day so it is our obligation for the health department to know what’s going on,” she said. 

 

New Prairie Announces Plans for End of School Year

(New Carlisle) - New Prairie School Corporation has released details regarding the culmination of this school year.

In a letter to families and staff on Monday, the school district outlined plans for topics ranging from grading procedures to graduation ceremonies.

Here is a summary:

  • Administrators hope to hold a traditional Commencement ceremony on May 31. Two alternate dates, June 21 and July 19, have been set in case of postponement. An outdoor graduation at the football field with a limited crowd is a possibility, depending on social distancing requirements.
  • Awards ceremonies, including the Top 10 Dinner for seniors, have been cancelled. Awards and honors will be sent to students.
  • Prom has been cancelled.
  • Elementary school students will continue to receive grades for their daily work. However, their semester grades will be pass/fail. Students will receive a grade of “Complete” for successfully completing at least 70% of their work. Otherwise, they will receive a grade of “Incomplete” for the semester. Second semester grades for secondary students will be based mostly on work completed before the COVID-19 break. 30% of their final grade will be based on E-Learning. There will be no semester exams.
  • Summer school, sports camps, and other activities in June have been cancelled.
  • Some programs, like Drivers’ Ed, weightlifting, and swim lessons, will take place in a modified form.
  • The food distribution program will continue as planned through the week of May 14.
  • Students will be notified about retrieving personal belongings, picking up yearbooks, and returning iPads.

Futher announcements in May will add clarity to plans, as the COVID-19 situation develops.

NW Indiana Loses Five More to COVID-19

(Indianapolis, IN) - According to the Indiana State Department of Health, there were five additional COVID-19 deaths in Northwest Indiana were among 31 reported today across the state.

 

Three more deaths in Lake County,  two in Porter County, but thankfully no more in LaPorte County

.

A total of 661 Hoosiers have died after being diagnosed with COVID-19, including 57 in Lake County, five in Porter County, five in LaPorte County, four in Newton County, and one in Jasper County.

 

The five deaths in Porter County involved two men and three women between the ages of 50 and 89. There have been two deaths in Portage Township and one death in Westchester, Liberty, and Center townships, according to the county Health Department.

 

Lake County totals included 296 positive cases and eight deaths reported Wednesday by Gary city officials. Mayor Jerome Prince said his administration was working the city Health Commissioner Roland Walker to prepare for a possible surge in positive cases later this month into mid-May.

 

NIPSCO to Hold Public Hearing on Cleaning Up Michigan City Site

(Michigan City) - The Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) has announced plans to clean out five coal ash ponds in Michigan City.

Coal ash is the leftover material from burning coal to make electricity. Some of the material is recycled for building material. The rest sits in ponds.

With the phasing out of Michigan City’s Generating Station, NIPSCO plans to clean out five ponds containing coal ash. The material will be transported to the site of another generating station in Wheatfield, where a landfill has been designated. NIPSCO plans to replace the coal ash with clean fill material.

Indiana’s Department of Environmental Management must approve the plan, pending public comment. A public meeting will take place online Wednesday afternoon. The meeting will begin at 4:00 p.m. (CST) with a presentation by NIPSCO, followed by a Q&A session.

 

The meeting can be accessed online or by phone:

 

Virtual Location Link: https://tinyurl.com/NIPSCOmeeting
Dial in Only #: 1-866-692-3580, ID 710 234 333

 

For those unable to join the meeting, comments can be submitted directly to IDEM, by May 22, 2020, to Ahopkins@idem.in.gov. –or- mail submittals can be sent to:

 

Alyssa Hopkins, Permit Manager

Indiana Department of Environmental Management

Solid Waste Permits

IGCN 1101 

100 North Senate Avenue

Indianapolis, IN 46204-2251

Steps Taken to Ease Traffic Congestion

(Michigan City, IN) -There are plans to help traffic congestion at a busy intersection near Michigan City.

 

The work will happen at Johnson Road and 400 North. Right now, there is just one traffic signal with a left-hand turn arrow.  Signals with left-hand turn arrows will go on each of the other

sides.

 

The intersection was reconstructed a few years ago, but the state highway department felt there wasn’t a need for each side to have dedicated left hand-turn signal arrows.

 

But, local officials fielding a lot of complaints about traffic back-ups says that hasn’t been the case.

 

The LaPorte County Council on Monday approved having left-hand turn signals Installed there at just over $9,000.

Sticker Shock Even More Shocking

(Lansing, MI) - Traveling, of course, is way down, but so is gas tax revenue collected by states.

 

For example, in Michigan, officials say traffic is down 60 percent.  Tax money from the sale of gas is down 22 percent from last year at this point.

 

Less travel has brought down gasoline prices as you already know. In LaPorte, the price was at a shocking $1.33 per gallon at some stations and as low as a $1.39 a gallon in Michigan City.

LP County Fair Could Be in Jeopardy

(LaPorte, IN) - The La Porte County Fair this year could be jeopardy from the COVID-19 Virus.

 

County Councilman Terry Garner says there’s talk of major changes if it is held.  He says, "The fair could go from a 4-H fair to an open class fair and not having a fair not only would be a crying shame but a costly one, because of a major country music star is under contract to perform."

 

Garner says, "Toby Keith would still have to be paid, so having him perform Is a major incentive to go ahead with the fair under, perhaps, a different format."

 

County councilman Jeff Santana said he understands contracts, but blasted Keith if he insists on being paid if the fair is not held.

 

Council President, Randy Novak says they wouldn’t have to pay Toby Keith if the governor cancels the fair.

First Inmate at Indiana State Prison with COVID-19

(Indianapolis, IN) - One inmate now has a confirmed case of COVID-19 at the state prison in Michigan City.

 

That’s according to the Indiana Department Correction (DOC) which also revealed 126 inmates at Westville Correctional Center are now diagnosed with the virus.

 

The DOC also reports 233 inmates in all of the state prisons are confirmed with COVID-19.  Officials also report 95 prison staff members statewide were diagnosed, but where they’re employed was not disclosed.

Home Burglar Encounter Arrest

(Michigan City, IN) - Police say a La Porte man was pushed out the door by a person whose home he was burglarizing.

 

Robert Wisiniewski, Jr., 30, was soon taken into custody.  According to Michigan City Police, he climbed through a kitchen window to get inside the home in the 2400 block of Oak St. about midnight Saturday. Police said the victim heard then saw the man near the kitchen and shoved him out the back door. Officers giving chase found the man on the front porch of a home in the 300 block of Beverly Court.

 

Police say he matched the description of the suspect. A laptop computer taken from the residence was quickly recovered by following footprints in the snow to a garbage can. A power cord to the laptop was dangling from the closed lid on the can, police said.

Over 400 New COVID-19 Cases in Indiana

(Indianapolis, IN) - The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indiana has exceeded 12,000.

 

 

According to state health officials, there were 431 new cases and 61 more deaths statewide.

630 Hoosiers have now died from the virus.

 

   Here in La Porte, there was no change from yesterday with confirmed cases still listed at 140 and deaths remaining at five. A majority of those cases are from Westville Correctional Center.

Man Charged with Child Sex Crimes

(LaPorte, IN) - A Rolling Prairie area man is accused of committing child sex crimes.

 

66-year old Danial Andrews is charged with attempted child exploitation, attempted possession of child pornography and voyeurism. According to county police, he was arrested at his home last week. Andrews was being held in the LaPorte County Jail on $20,000 cash-only bond.

 

According to court documents, Andrews placed an alarm clock with a hidden camera inside a 10-year girl’s bedroom and used an app on his phone to view the live images.

According to court documents, the girl suspected the alarm clock with a hidden camera

was being used for no good and would do things like unplugging it only to find it was later plugged back in .

 

She also allegedly saw Andrews using the hidden camera app he had on his phone

to peer inside her bedroom.

COVID-19 Relief Payments Coming to Farmers

(West Lafayette, IN) -$16 billion in direct federal payments might not be enough to help ranchers and farmers overcome a sudden hit on profit margins stemming from the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

            That was among the insight shared by agricultural economists at Purdue University during a Monday webinar about the impact of coronavirus on the industry.  Jim Mintert, director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture at the West Lafayette campus, said USDA has indicated $9.6 billion in direct payments will go to livestock producers; $3.9 billion to row crop producers; $2.1 million to specialty crops producers and $500 million for producers of other crops.

 

            He said the payments will cover 85-percent of the estimated loss in prices from January 1 to April 15 and 30-percent of the estimated price losses from April 15 until the end of the third quarter.

 

            Michael Langemeier, associate director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture, said more federal assistance might be needed especially for row crop producers because of corn prices dropping by as much as .55 per bushel in just the past few weeks. 

 

            The price drop is tied mostly to ethanol consumption being sharply down from people driving less because of the nationwide stay at home restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

 

            More than one-third of the corn in the U.S. is used for making ethanol blended into the gasoline used by most commercial vehicles.  "I think you’re going to need more money,” Langemeier said.

 

            Mintert said the impact of COVID-19 is being felt throughout agriculture with average U.S. farm income starting to recover from a several-year slump projected for 2020 at $20 billion lower than what was forecast a month ago. "It just shows how ugly things look right now,” he said. 

 

            He said a rush to grocery stores by consumers has not entirely absorbed the losses in meat consumption from the ban on indoor service in restaurants and schools closing to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

 

            Live animals are also starting to back up on farms from several meat processing firms temporarily closing from having infected workers in their plants in states like Iowa and South Dakota. 

            Mintert said the closures have added to the increase in supply and falling prices especially for pork since the shuttered plants mostly slaughter hogs.

 

            “A big part of our meat processing is concentrated in a handful of processing plants that have a lot of workers.  If you got one or two or three or four of these plants shutting down it can have some really big impacts,” he said.

 

            Adding to the hurt for pork producers were recent forecasts of higher prices before the outbreak from a boost in exports to China.   “This is really kind of a kick in the teeth for the pork industry,” Mintert said.  He also said he doesn’t expect much of a change in feed prices in the coming weeks.

 

            However, prices could drop long term if demand for meat remains lower from consumers having less money to spend especially for more expensive cuts if it takes a long time for the economy to recover from the lockdown related to coronavirus. 

 

            Langemeier said soybean prices have not fallen as dramatically as corn which could lead to more farmers planning to grow corn making the switch to soybeans this spring.

 

            He said there could be at least one million fewer acres of corn than last year when 97 million acres of corn were planted in the U.S.

Convenience Store Heroin Arrest

(LaPorte, IN) - A recent heroin arrest was made at a convenience store outside LaPorte.

 

19-year-old Cebastian Green was allegedly found with the drug inside his vehicle at U.S 35 and Johnson Road last week.

 

LaPorte County Police say he was slumped over with his foot on the brake pedal about 11 p.m. at Family Express. Green allegedly told the officer he obtained the heroin in South Bend. 

 

Police say he was parked outside the store for at least an hour before discovered.

COVID-19 Outbreak at Porter County Jail

(Valparaiso, IN) - There are 33 cases of COVID 19 at the Porter County Jail. Officials say the number is twice as high as last week.

 

Reports indicate the outbreak has led to lawsuits from inmates seeking release. After the first cases started turning up, officials say another 20 inmates were found positive out of the next 30 tested.

 

Officials say the inmates with the virus are quarantined and under supervision. So far, no cases have been reported from county jails in LaPorte or Lake counties.

Leadership Change at Sullair

(Michigan City, IN) - A longtime Michigan City company has undergone a change in leadership.

 

Charlie Takeuchi is the new president and chief executive officer at Sullair. Company officials say he takes over for Jack Carlson who was in that position for more than three years before retiring.

 

Takeuchi was formerly chief operating officer and executive vice president of the company acquired by Hitachi in 2017. Sullair makes air compressors for various commercial and industrial uses.

COVID-19 Update

As of April 19th Indiana Health officials have reported 505 new positive tests and 7 new deaths from the COVID-19 virus. A total of 11,686 are positive tests, 569 total deaths and 64,639 total tests have been given. 

 

La Porte County has 140 positive tests, 5 deaths and 888 total tests given. St. Joseph County has 412 positive tests, 9 deaths and 1,589 total tests given. Porter County has 180 positive tests, 3 deaths and total tests of 1,279.

 

COVID-19 positive cases in Indiana report 19.6% were between the ages of 50-59, 17.1% between the ages of 40-49 and 16.1% between the ages of 60-69. Also 54.4% were Female and 44.3% were Male.

 

The top 5 Indiana Counties with the highest number of positive cases are Marion with 4,052 cases, Lake with 1,182 cases, Hamilton with 598 cases, Hendricks with 499 cases and Johnson with 426 cases.

Chicago Now Ranks 16th Most Polluted City in the U.S.

(Chicago, IL)  The American Lung Association’s 2020 “State of the Air” report revealed that Chicago ranks the 16th most polluted city in the nation for ozone pollution, which is worse than last year’s report where the city was ranked 18th most polluted.

 

The annual “State of the Air” report tracks Americans’ exposure to unhealthful levels of ozone or particle pollution, both of which can be deadly. This year’s report covers the most recent quality-assured data available collected by states, cities, counties, tribes and federal agencies in 2016-2018.

 

Each year the “State of the Air” provides a report card on the two most widespread outdoor air pollutants, ozone pollution, also known as smog, and particle pollution also called soot. The report analyzes particle pollution in two ways: through average annual particle pollution levels and short-term spikes in particle pollution. Both ozone and particle pollution are dangerous to public health and can increase the risk of premature death and other serious health effects such as lung cancer, asthma attacks, cardiovascular damage, and developmental and reproductive harm.

 

Ozone Pollution in Chicago

  • Grade: F
  • Rank: 16th most polluted
  • 19.2 unhealthy ozone days

 

Compared to the 2019 report, Chicago experienced more unhealthy days of high ozone in this year’s report.

Church Bell Still Rings for Responders

(LaPorte, IN) - Church bells rang again Friday in LaPorte to honor medical and other first responders during these challenging times.

 

Taking the lead is Bethany Lutheran Church. Pastor Dennis Meyer said the latest ringing was also for a police officer fatally shot recently in Indianapolis.

 

Meyer has been ringing his church bell every Friday for over a month now. Several other churches have joined in.    Meyer starts ringing the bell at 10:08 a.m. because 10-08 in emergency responder radio code means in service.

Still a Clean Slate at Jail

(LaPorte, IN) - There are still no COVID-19 cases in the La Porte County Jail. Sheriff John Boyd says an inmate recently isolated as a precaution later tested negative and none of the jail staff has wound up with the virus.

 

Boyd said he was deeply concerned when news broke about the COVID-19 outbreak at Westville Correctional Center. He believes the release of some inmates as a precaution against the

outbreak and Indiana Supreme Court ruling offenders can’t be held without bond for not being able to afford bail are factors in having no cases.

 

Boyd also credited the population being monitored closely for symptoms. Boyd says a few of his patrol officers recently self-quarantined at home as a precaution and later tested negative as well.

No Slicer Baseball Still an Adjustment

(LaPorte, IN) - No Slicer baseball still takes some getting used to' since the season was cancelled a few weeks back due to COVID-19.

 

The adjustment has also been a challenge for head coach Scott Upp, who especially hated to break the news to his seniors.

 

Upp says he’s been to an empty Schreiber Field a few times reflecting just a bit on a season that should have been well underway and wondering what to do about things like new uniforms and other gear ordered for the season.

 

Upp played for the Slicers and has been their head coach since the late 1990’s.

Local Airports to Receive Stimulus Money

Federal dollars will be rolling in to prop up local airports. The Federal Aviation Administration has announced more than $96 million in grants for 65 Hoosier airports.

 

Included in the funding is LaPorte’s Municipal Airport, which will receive $30,000. Michigan City’s airport will be getting the same amount. Porter County Regional Airport in Valparaiso is getting $69,000. South Bend International will receive over $7.2 million.

 

The U.S. Department of Transportation says the funds are for anything from capital expenditures to operating expenses, such as payroll and utilities. 

 

The funding is part of the $10 billion in emergency resources authorized by the Trump Administration's CARES Act to offset losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

4-H Still in Limbo

(LaPorte) - 4-H youth activities have been limited even further into the summer due to social distancing precautions.

 

There will be no face-to-face 4-H activities now through June. Purdue Extension leaders made the announcement to 4-H members in a letter Wednesday. 

 

Many of the activities, like meetings and workshops, will be coordinated online. Other events, like camps and conferences, have been canceled.

 

The decision will greatly impact more than twenty Hoosier counties that have their local fairs scheduled in June.

 

LaPorte’s county fair in July is still a go, however.  The Fair Board confirmed on Thursday via Facebook that, despite rumors to the contrary, the 175th LaPorte County Fair will take place July 12-18.

Interstate Accident

(Portage) - An auto accident involving a Michigan City man backed up traffic for three hours on I-94 Friday afternoon.

 

It happened near Portage. State Police report an eastbound 2001 Nissan Pathfinder careened off the interstate just before 5 pm. It struck a tree head-on.

 

The vehicle's passenger was airlifted to the University of Chicago Hospital . The driver, 31-year-old Nathan Darling of Michigan City, was cited for driving with a suspended license. He was taken to Porter Hospital for treatment. Toxicology results are pending.

Westville Prison COVID-19 Cases Now at 87

(Westville, IN) - 87 inmates have now tested positive for COVID-19 at Westville prison.  LaPorte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora said there were no new confirmed cases from the prison reported today.  Kora said five of the inmates are in the hospital while two of them are in ICU.

 

Kora also says about 30 prison staff members were tested for COVID-19 in response to the outbreak.  He said the test results should come back prior to Monday.  All of the inmates testing positive were housed in the same building on the multiple facility prison campus, Kora said.  According to state health officials, more than 110 inmates in all of the prisons statewide have tested positive for the coronavirus.

COVID-19 Sends Pork Producers Spiraling

(Washington D.C) - Meat processing plants closing and other causes for spiraling prices triggered by COVID-19 has producers appealing to USDA for relief.

USDA armed with $9.5 billion from the stimulus bill is being asked by the National Pork Producers Council for direct payments to producers and massive purchasing from a huge nationwide meat stockpile.

 

“We are taking on water fast.  Immediate action is imperative,” said Howard “A.V” Roth, the NPPC president.

 

USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said direct payments to producers hurt by COVID will be part of an upcoming relief package still being ironed out.

 

Todd Hubbs, a clinical assistant professor in agricultural commodities at the University of Illinois, said direct payments likely offer producers the best relief in the short term.

 

Long term, Hubbs said the answer is getting the processing plants open again so animals backed up on farms can start reaching the consumer and keeping other plants from closing until the COVID-19 outbreak subsides.

 

“The processing plants being closed is a real problem for farmers,” he said. Smithfield Foods after temporarily closing its huge South Dakota plant from hundreds of workers being infected announced April 15 it was closing two sausage and bacon operations in Wisconsin and Missouri.

 

The company said, “a small number” of employees at each of those locations tested positive and the Missouri plant simply couldn’t operate since it receives its raw materials from the idled South Dakota facility.

 

Kenneth Sullivan, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods, said the plant closures represent a “domino effect.”

 

“It highlights the interdependence and interconnectivity of our food supply chain,” he said.

The closure of the Smithfield operations followed temporary shutdowns of a Tyson pork processing plant in Columbus Junction, Iowa and a JBS meat processing facility in Greeley, Colorado.

According to USDA, more than 660 million pounds of frozen pork, 925 million pounds of frozen chicken and 491 million pounds of frozen beef are in the U.S. stockpile.

Schools being closed and restrictions on indoor dining in restaurants to help slow the spread of the virus are major reasons for having so much in reserve.

Roth said USDA can redirect the meat it would purchase from the stockpile to food banks to help with demand caused by the surge of unemployment from the nationwide lockdown.

Hubbs said the end of May futures for pork has dropped from .63 to .38 since mid-March because of high supply on and off the farm along with a drop in demand.

 

Demand was impacted not just by school closures and restaurants limited to take out and delivery.

 

Hubbs said a lot of people are watching their pennies from being laid off and worried about losing their jobs.

 

“We’re in a tough, tough situation right now,” he said.  Even if the outbreak ended right away, Hubbs said he’s sure how long it would take for conditions to return to normal.

 

“Hopefully, by summer, we can start working through some of this stuff and find a way to get through it to the other side,” he said.

Indiana Stay at Home Order to be Extended

Although it's not official, Hoosiers can expect to be "hunkering down" through the rest of April.

Indiana's prevailing stay at home order will be extended until May 1.

 

Governor Eric Holcomb tipped his hand at this afternoon's COVID-19 press conference update. He said he intends to extend the order officially on Monday, when the previous order is set to expire.

Holcomb said he has shortened the duration of the upcoming extension and hopes to ease some restrictions next week. He is expected to elaborate on those changes at his next press conference on Monday.

Michigan City Enforcing COVID Related Curfew

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City is enforcing COVID-19 related restrictions like curfew to help slow the spread of the virus.

 

The public is prohibited from being out from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. unless there’s good reason.

 

City Councilman Don Pryzbylinski says he spoke to Assistant Police Chief Jillian Ashley recently and she reported 10 curfew arrests since the restriction was imposed about week ago.

 

The council this week unanimously extended the mayor’s 7-day order to 30 days. The order also includes 150 customer limit for the city’s largest retailers and closure of Washington Park.

Jail Population Drops

(LaPorte, IN) - The LaPorte Jail population has come down substantially early in 2020.

One reason is 20 or so low level offenders at high risk from COVID-19

were released as a precaution.

The biggest reason is a change in state law.

A few months ago, the Indiana Supreme ruled inmates cannot be held

simply because they can’t afford to post bail.

Sheriff John Boyd says the jail population has gone down from just over

400 at the end of 2019 to about 260 presently.

He says the released inmates still must answer to a probation officer

and some were placed on work release and home detention.

(LaPorte, IN) - The LaPorte Jail population has come down substantially early in 2020.

One reason is 20 or so low level offenders at high risk from COVID-19

were released as a precaution.

The biggest reason is a change in state law.

A few months ago, the Indiana Supreme ruled inmates cannot be held

simply because they can’t afford to post bail.

Sheriff John Boyd says the jail population has gone down from just over

400 at the end of 2019 to about 260 presently.

He says the released inmates still must answer to a probation officer

and some were placed on work release and home detention.

Oh No! Snow

(LaPorte, IN) - It’s the middle of April but there’s snow on the ground.

About an inch had fallen by 8 a.m. on Friday.

Another two inches could come down before it’s over.

The snow will be short lived judging by the forecast of

temperatures in the upper 30's later today and upper 50’s on Saturday.

First Responders Honor Hospital Workers

(LaPorte County, IN) - The efforts of hospital workers in LaPorte and Michigan City

were recognized in a big way last evening.

A parade of first responders showed up at each hospital.

Many of the workers were outside to see the procession and were given

cookies.

The procession supporters workers at high risk for exposure to COVID-19

went to Franciscan Health first then LaPorte Hospital.

Executive Order Extended in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - In Michigan City, a curfew and other COVID-19 restrictions

will remain in effect.

The mayor’s seven day executive order has been extended for 30 days

by the city council.

Councilman Bryant Dabney says he’s heard both sides of the issue but

feels it’s best to be safe than sorry.

He said some people have asked why they just use common sense but Dabney

said common sense at times is in short supply among some people.

Other restrictions extended include the closure of Washington Park

and no more than 150 customers inside the city’s largest retail stores.

Michigan City is enforcing restrictions like the curfew.

The public is prohibited from being out from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.

unless there’s good reason.

City Councilman Don Pryzbylinski says he recently spoke to police who reported

making 10 curfew arrests.

The council unanimously extended the mayor’s order.

COVID-19 Outbreak at Westville Prison

UPDATE (4/17/20 11:00am CDT) - On Friday, La  Porte County Commissioner, Dr. Vidya Kora, confirmed that 30 employees of the Westville Correctional Facility has been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting results.

 

(Westville, IN - 4/16/20) - Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in LaPorte County have trippled due to an outbreak at Westville Correctional Facility.  La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora says testing Wednesday turned up close to 87 cases inside the prision.  All of the confirmed positive cases at this time involve strictly inmates.

 

On Monday, a Westville inmate in his 70’s passed away from breathing issues related to the virus.  Kora states at least two inmates have been hospitalized and a team of local officials have been in close contact with the state to try and mitigate the situation.

 

Kora also states they’re now requesting testing for staff members in an attempt to keep the virus from spreading outside the prison.  County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski says workers at the prison being infected would be like opening the door to infecting the general public from employees living and doing business here outside the prison walls.  So far, Kora says no prison staff members they know of have been infected but have requested they be tested.

United Way Stepping Up to the Plate

(LaPorte, IN) - Over $100,000 thousand dollars has been raised by United Way

of La Porte County to help during this crisis.

Dave Sisk, director of community engagement for the organization, said

the money collected includes a 25 thousand dollar anonymous

donation.

Sisk says the mission is to keep people as stable as possible during all of this

uncertainty.

Donations have gone toward things like food, utility bills and rent.

Sisk says donors include companies like Meijer, American Licorice and

GAF Materials.

People can donate at the United Way of LaPorte County webpage.

Data to Drive Reopening of Hoosier Economy

(Indianapolis, IN) - The president is eager to restart the nation’s economy by May.

And now he says he won’t pressure the governors on when

to fire things back up in their states.

Indiana governor Eric Holcomb said Wednesday afternoon no date has been

chosen for reopening the economy in the state but the data will drive the decision

here.

He also said his office is doing a number of things in preparation for reopening

like partnering with businesses so workplaces will be prepared to prevent

infection once economy opens back up.

He also said reopening will happen in phases not all at once

Holcomb also said he plans to work with the governors in the bordering

states on reopening the economy.

Girl Scout Cookies for Veterans Honor

(LaPorte, IN) - A local girl is being recognized for making veterans worldwide

feel special.

Emily Graves started giving Girls Scout cookies to veterans in the area

when she was six.

Several years later, she has formed a group of more than 150 volunteers

to reach veterans with Girl Scout cookies.

To date, 40 thousand boxes have been given.

At Wednesday’s LaPorte County Commissioners meeting, state senator

Mike Bohacek presented her with the Prudential Spirit Award.

He called it one of the biggest honors for a young person….

Graves said the several thousand boxes of Girl Scout cookies for this year

will be going out soon.

She said some of the cookies are shipping to veterans in other areas of the

globe.

Gift Cards for Unsung Heroes

(LaPorte, IN) - They’re sort of unsung heroes working longer hours at a higher risk for exposure to COVID-19.

Help and a pat on the back is now headed their way.

$50 gift cards for Al’s Supermarket will start being distributed next week to a select number of employees at LaPorte Hospital.

People like receptionists, housekeepers, food servers and maybe a few lower ranking members of the medical staff will get the first ones, said Carrie Garwood of Bethany Lutheran Church.

The church putting up $2,500 of its own funds just received a $5,000 grant from the United Way of LaPorte County for the cause.

Garwood said the effort sprung from hospital employees short on time and desire to shop for groceries and further their risk for exposure to coronavirus after completing their shifts.

She said the gift cards can be used to order groceries ready for curbside pick-up within 24-hours.

“It’s kind of a way to give back to the people who may be forgotten right now in that health care line of work,” Garwood said.

Gift cards will be given weekly to a different group of hospital workers.

She said the effort could be extended to employees at the Franciscan Health campus in Michigan City if more donations come in.

The United Way of LaPorte County has raised over $100,000 in recent weeks specifically for COVID-19 relief.

The contributors include an anonymous $25,000 donation and others like GAF Materials, American Licorice Co. and Meijer.

“We’re working together to make sure that people who have boots on the ground and doing the work right now are funded,” said Dave Sisk, director of corporate engagement for the United Way of LaPorte County.

LaPorte County Cases of Coronavirus Climb to 42

(Indianapolis, IN) - The number of LaPorte County residents testing positive

for coronavirus is up to 42.

That’s six more than the previous day.

According to state health officials, deaths in LaPorte County now stand

At 4 after an inmate at Westville Correctional Facility with COVID-19

died on Monday.

There are 440 more confirmed cases statewide from the day before,

officials said.

The total number of people diagnosed with the virus is now just short

of 9,000.

In Starke County, there are 10 reported cases and one death.

Fire Possibly from Careless Smoking

(LaPorte, IN) - Careless smoking could be the cause of a recent house fire

in La Porte.

It happened Saturday evening at 407 Maple Ave.

Fire Chief Andy Snyder says one of the two apartments was occupied.

Everyone got out safely.

Snyder says it appears the fire started in the front porch area where it’s common

for people living there to smoke.

Firefighters rescued three cats and a hamster from the upstairs apartment which

was unoccupied at the time.

Structure damage was estimated at $10,000.

New Chicago Volunteer Fire Fighter's Stimulus Check Surprise

(New Chicago, IN) - The first federal stimulus payments are on the way to America and one northwest Indiana man got quite the shock when he went to the ATM this weekend.

 

Charles Calvin is a volunteer firefighter in New Chicago, Indiana. While he was out over the weekend, he decided to get some cash at an ATM.  Now unbeknownst to him, he received his stimulus payment from the federal government on Friday. However, it wasn’t what he was expecting.

 

Calvin had been expecting a stimulus check of $1,700. However, after withdrawing the $200 he looked at his balance and noticed his account still had $8.2 million in it. Perplexed, he ran the card two more times and the balance in his account was the same thing.  He told a fellow volunteer firefighter and they both checked the balance and once again $8.2 million was in Calvin's account.  

 

Since this occurred over the weekend, Calvin couldn't contact his bank until Monday.  His bank said they didn't see that $8.2 million amount in his checking account anymore. However, they did note that his $1,700 stimulus payment was deposited.

 

Calvin, a bit disappointed, took it in stride saying, “It kind of sucks, You go from being a millionaire one second then back to being broke again. But hey, once you're poor you don't have anywhere else to go but up.”

 

No word on if any other stimulus check recipients have had erroneous amounts in their accounts. 

Chest Compression Devices for Ambulances

(LaPorte County, IN) - All of the ambulances in La Porte County will be receiving

a new piece of lifesaving gear.

Automated Chest Compression Devices are being purchased.

It’s made possible by a $157,000 grant from the Healthcare Foundation of

LaPorte.

Officials say the devices allow chest compressions to be delivered

continuously without interruption.

The safety of medics is also improving from not having to deliver chest

compressions manually in a moving ambulance.

Officials say the devices should be delivered in two weeks.

They’ll be put to use once all of the medics receiving training.

South Shore Line to Salute Transportation and Other Essential Workers 

(Chesterton, IN). -  Tomorrow, Thursday, April 16, 2020, South Shore Line is joining transit agencies from across the nation in the #SoundTheHorn effort designed to salute transportation workers and well as other essential workers across the country. 


The brainchild of Amtrak, NJ TRANSIT, the Port Authority and other regional bus and ferry operators, the Sound The Horn effort -- which entails a coordinated sounding of public transportation vehicle horns at 2:00 p.m. (CST) -is a time to honor the heroic actions of those on the front lines of this pandemic as essential workers both locally and across the country. 


"We are extremely proud of our team and crews. Without hesitation, our SSL team has stepped up to the challenge to continue to provide transportation for essential employees that need to get to their jobs. In many cases, this has been healthcare workers trying to get to Chicago hospitals to help fight this COVID-19 crisis." said Michael Noland, President of South Shore Line. "The selflessness I have witnessed both in our team and with others has been humbling. We truly are all in this together, and we hope that the Sound The Horn initiative will help boost the morale of transportation workers, other essential workers, and our local citizens as well. It is nice to know that even when you are isolated, you aren't alone." 


It is anticipated that nearly 4,400 trains, buses, and ferries will participate in the coordinated sounding of horns. Anyone who sees or hears trains, buses or ferries sounding their horns at 2 p.m. CST (3 p.m. EST) on Thursday is encouraged to use the #SoundTheHorn and #SSL hashtags to post audio and video. 
 

Help to Keep Pets at Home

(LaPorte, IN) - Help is being extended so pet owners aren’t forced to give up their animals because of financial hardship brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak.

            The LaPorte County Small Animal Shelter is purchasing food and other pet necessities for owners struggling with a decision made especially tough by such unexpected and extreme circumstances.

            “Anybody who needs help with dog food, cat food, cat litter we are more than happy to help,” said Jane Bernard, director of the shelter at 2855 W. Indiana 2 next to the LaPorte County Fairgrounds.

            Bernard said the assistance given to eight pet owners since the beginning of the nationwide lockdown to try and slow the spread of coronavirus also includes money for minor medical costs.

            “We can also help with that as well,” she said. 

            The effort is being funded with a $5,000 emergency grant awarded three weeks ago by the Healthcare Foundation of LaPorte. 

            Bernard said just a couple of pets, including a Labrador puppy, have been taken to the shelter by owners no longer able to afford the animals because of COVID-19 related hardship.

            She’s not sure what to expect in the coming days but some animals were moved to other shelters to free up space in case it’s needed.

            “Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point,” she said. 

            Presently, the shelter is open to the public by appointment only because of the social distancing requirements imposed by the governor.

            Bernard said people wanting to adopt can still go to the shelter’s Facebook page to look at pictures of the animals and fill out an application.

            Applicants cleared for adoption can later schedule an appointment to meet the animal.

            The grant was part of more than $550,000 awarded recently by HFL to help the community in other areas like food assistance during the crisis.

            Pet owners can ask for help by contacting the shelter at (219) 326-1637.

Gift Cards for Groceries

(LaPorte, IN) - Free groceries are going to be given to workers

at LaPorte Hospital.

Gift cards will be handed out to help medical workers  and

all hospital employees during these challenging times, said Dennis Meyer,

pastor at Bethany Lutheran Church in LaPorte.

The church and Al’s Supermarket are teaming up on the effort.

Meyer says the gift cards will be worth up to $50

Local Prison Inmate Dies from COVID-19

(Westville, IN) - A Westville prison inmate has died from coronavirus.

According to the Indiana Department of Correction, the man was over 70

and complained of chest pains and difficulty breathing Monday.

He was taken to a hospital then after dying tested positive, officials said.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Kris Box said the state has been

focusing hard on preventing infection at prisons, nursing home and other

facilities statewide where people congregate in large numbers due to the higher

risk of the virus spreading in those locations.

Schools Saluting Seniors

There has been a national movement to recognize senior athletes throughout the country by turning on stadium lights at 8:20 pm (which is 20:20 military time) for 20 minutes.

 

LaPorte High School will be participating, by turning on the lights at Schreiber Field beginning tonight and continuing each night this week. 

New COVID-19 Cases in Indiana Dropping

(Indianapolis, IN) - The number of new COVID-19 cases in Indiana has gone down

for four consecutive days.

According to state health officials, there are 331 new cases statewide.

Three days before that, there were 559 new cases.

So far, the total statewide stands at more than 8,200.

According to state health officials, most of the cases at 20-percent

are in people ages 50 to 59.

Followed by folks 40 to 49 and 60 to 69.

The lowest number of cases are in the 0 to 19 age bracket.

Just 1.6 percent of Hoosiers testing positive are in that young age group,

state health officials said.

Help Extended to Strapped Pet Owners

(LaPorte, IN) -Taking care of pets can be difficult during trying times.

The La Porte County Small Animal Shelter is giving away

food and other pet supplies to keep dogs and cats in their homes because

of unexpected hardship during the public health emergency.  

Shelter director Jane Bernard says a $5,000 grant from the Healthcare Foundation

of LaPorte is going toward the effort.

“Anyone who needs help with dog food, cat food, cat litter we are more than

happy to help,” she said.

Bernard says help has already been extended to eight pet owners.

The shelter can be reached at 326-1637.

So far, Bernard said just a handful few pets have been turned in for adoption

because of these hard times.

Starke County Records First COVID-19 Death

(Indianapolis, IN) - The first COVID-19 death from Starke County

is now being reported.

State health officials say the man died Saturday at a hospital in Ft. Wayne.

He was over 50 with multiple preexisting conditions.

Nine Starke County residents have tested positive, according to the

Indiana State Department of Health.

Democratic Convention Moves Online

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana democrats will hold their annual state convention online.

This year, party officials say votes will be cast to nominate candidates for attorney general, lieutenant governor and delegates to the national convention.

Party officials say votes will be cast my mail.

The virtual convention is scheduled June 13.

Fatal Shooting Follows Previous Encounter

(Michigan City, IN) - We know more about the most recent shooting death in Michigan City.

Mark Wright and Christopher Deal are charged.

According to court documents, the shots were fired on April 5 from a vehicle 

occupied by both suspects. 

Sirus Scott was hit outside a home at 124 E. William St. and died a short time

later.

Police say one of the suspects fathered a child with a woman who was with 

Scott at the time of the shooting.

One of the suspects claims the victim fired first.

According to court documents, there was a face to face encounter between 

the parties involved prior to the gunfire.

Job Layoffs at Casinos

(Dowagiac, MI) - More casino workers are being laid off.

This time at Four Winds.

Officials say all non-essential workers were taken off

the payroll Monday.

This was at all Four Winds locations in Indiana and Michigan.

A date for reopening has not been chosen.   

Blue Chip Casino did the same thing on Saturday.

Officials with the Michigan City casino called the decision difficult,

Saying workers were kept on the payroll a month after casinos statewide

were ordered shutdown due to coronavirus.

Murder Suspect Grabbed After Crash

(South Bend, IN) - It took a crash during a police chase to catch a murder suspect. The man was first spotted here in LaPorte County.

 

Yesterday, authorities say 31-year old Anthony Malone was seen by U.S Marshals in a vehicle near Hudson Lake. He refused to pull over. After crossing into St. Joseph County, police say the South Bend man crashed into a utility pole.

 

He was grabbed on a warrant for murder. Malone allegedly gunned down a 24-year-old man last month at a gas station in South Bend.

Outbreak at Nursing Home

(Benton Harbor, MI) - In Berrien County, coronavirus has landed

at a nursing home.

Health Department officials say four residents and four employees

tested positive at Hallmark Living in Benton Harbor.

Officials say three of the residents have died.

They were terminally ill before testing positive.

Free Domino's Pizza Gone in Record Time

(LaPorte, IN) - The pizza giveaway in La Porte this past Saturday

set a record.

Mayor Tom Dermody says all of the 200 Domino’s pizzas were gone

in just 35 minutes.

The previous record was less than one hour, he said.

There appears to be no end in sight to the weekly pizza giveaways

with sponsors lined up to pay for the Domino’s Pizza for each of the

next several weeks.

LaPorte Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram was the sponsor for Saturday’s

giveaway at the high school.

Arnett Construction was the sponsor the previous week.

Dyngus Day Cancelled

(LaPorte, IN) - Normally, today would be Dyngus Day.

But, it’s been cancelled this year due to coronavirus.

Howie Hunsley is owner of Dick’s Bar in downtown LaPorte.

He says it’s very strange considering it’s been such a popular

tradition for 33 straight years the day after Easter…

Hunsley is still keeping alive the spirit of Dyngus Day.

He’s serving the polish holiday staples of kluski Noodles over mashed potatoes

along with kielbasa and sauerkraut to his take out customers today.

Another Pizza Giveaway Saturday

(LaPorte, IN) - More free Domino’s pizza will be handed out

in LaPorte on Saturday.

The sponsor is LaPorte Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.

The pizza giveaway is at 2 p.m. at LaPorte High School in the

I Street parking lot.

200 free Domino’s pizzas will be there for the taking.

Mayor Tom Dermody said several more sponsors have lined up to

keep the event going over at least the next few weeks.

Dial 211 for Help Paying Bills

(LaPorte, IN) - A lot of people are looking for help paying rent

and utility bills right now.

The La Porte Salvation Army is one of the places where help is sought.

But, Capt. Chris Karlin says they don’t have the funds right now.

They’re advising people to call 211.

211 is a hotline operated by the United Way of La Porte County that gives

people direction on where to go for such help.

The LaPorte Salvation Army will again be serving hot take home meals from

5:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Gov. Holcomb Waives Incomplete Education Requirements

(Indianapolis, IN) — Governor Eric J. Holcomb today in coordination with Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick signed an executive order to waive education requirements that cannot be met due to school buildings being closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

 

The executive order 20-20 waives incomplete requirements such as school bus drills and emergency preparedness drills. It also outlines options for school corporations to complete 2019-2020 annual staff performance evaluations.

568 New COVID-19 Cases Statewide

(Indianapolis, IN) - 568 more Hoosiers have been diagnosed with coronavirus.

According to state health officials, the total statewide now stands at

6,907.

So far, officials say 300 Hoosiers have died.

LaPorte County now has 31 cases, up by just one from the day before

and remains at three deaths, officials said. 

St. Joseph County has 165 positive tests while Porter County has 95.

There are eight reported cases now in Starke County.

Lake County has 576 total cases.

Churches Remain Under COVID-19 Restrictions for Easter

(Indianapolis, IN) - Easter is Sunday but most believers will have to

celebrate at home.

Churches remain under the governor’s social distancing order despite

Easter coming up.

The order prohibits more than 10 people at a single location

from congregating.

Indiana governor Eric Holcomb says believers have options like

online services and attending services in church parking lots where

available.

Pastor Dennis Meyer of Bethany Lutheran Church in LaPorte agrees with

governor not loosening restrictions on churches to keep people

safe during this crisis.

Meyer says he will give another service in his church parking lot

on Sunday.

Casino Closing Not Much Hurt for New Buffalo

(New Buffalo, MI) - The city of New Buffalo won’t be hurt much from casinos

being shut down right now.

That’s because the city receives only about 225 thousand dollars

a year from Four Winds and this year’s payment from

last year’s revenue has already come in, said City Manager David Richards.

Richards said any loss in casino money would be reflected in next year’s

Draw.

Indian casinos don’t have to give a percentage of their take to governments.

It’s more of a good faith offering nowhere near the amount casinos

in the private sector must contribute.

Officer Hurt in Crash

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City Police officer was hurt

in a motor vehicle collision yesterday.

Police say detective Scott Combs was hit by a 1999 Chevy Suburban about

2:30 p.m. in the 300 block of Tremont St.

The driver’s side of his police vehicle was struck when

by 35 year old Michael Johnson failed to stop for a stop sign.

Police say the officer was not responding to any calls at the time.

Combs was taken by ambulance with non life threatening injuries.

Police say Johnson was cited for disregarding a stop sign,

driving without a license and insurance and having expired plates.

Doctor Says Coronavirus Not like the Flu

(LaPorte County, IN) -People should not take coronavirus lightly.

That’s according to La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora, who

Issued the advisory during Wednesday’s commissioners meeting.

Kora says coronavirus is not like the flu as some people believe.

In serious cases, Kora said people on ventilators have a 50/50 chance or less

of surviving.

Kora, who has a medical practice in Michigan City, also says it seems that more

people are taking social distancing seriously but for those who are not definitely

should and wear a mask.

Demand for Hot Meals Climbing

(LaPorte, IN) - The number of people taking home a hot meal from the

Salvation Army in La Porte has increased.

Take home dinners are served from a truck to people in their vehicles

Monday through Friday.

Captain Chris Karlin says the number of meals has gone up from about

200 per night to close to 300.

However, he said demand from the food pantry has dropped recently

from about 80 households daily to 40 which was the average before the

coronavirus outbreak.

Gov. Holcomb Signs Executive Order Regarding Easter Church Services

(Indianapolis, IN) -  Gov. Holcomb’s executive order 20-18 states all public and private gatherings, including religious and spiritual, should follow CDC guidance, which restricts gatherings to ten or fewer people.

 

To continue safely serving their communities, faith institutions are directed as follows: Church buildings and other physical locations for worship should be closed.  Livestream or other virtual services are best. The minimum number of necessary personnel should be used at all times for any services. Staff and volunteers who are not speaking should wear masks. 

 

Drive-in services may be conducted only under these conditions: Attendees must be inside vehicles at all times. Attendees should not interact physically with clergy, staff or participants in other vehicles. Vehicles should contain only members of a single household. Do not bring your neighbors or others outside of your household. Cars must be spaced the equivalent of every other parking spot or approximately 9 feet apart. No one may exit a vehicle at any time.

 

Portable bathrooms are not allowed on the premises and no church facilities may be used by attendees. 

 

It is preferred that no communion be distributed. In instances when communion is distributed, only prepackaged communion may be used and must be prepared and distributed in a manner that meets food safety standards. 

 

The following individuals who are vulnerable and at higher risk for illness should not attend:

Persons who are 65 years and older, those who have severe underlying medical conditions, like heart or lung disease or diabetes or individuals who are sick.

Indiana Tops 6,000 COVID-19 Cases

(Indianapolis, IN) - Confirmed cases of coronavirus have now topped 6,000 here in Indiana.

 

According to state health officials, over 63 hundred cases is 430 more than the previous day.

Officials say 245 Hoosiers have now died. The number of coronavirus cases in La Porte County now stands at 30.

 

That’s just two more than the previous day. The amount of deaths here is still three. Starke County still has six confirmed cases and no deaths. Porter County has 93 while St. Joseph County has 150 reported cases. 525 residents in Lake County have been diagnosed. There have been 19 deaths in Lake County none in Porter and just one In St. Joseph County, officials said.

Virtual Doctors Visits

(LaPorte, IN) - Virtual doctors visits are now occurring in LaPorte.

La Porte Physician Network officials say patients can now visit 

their doctors within the network using their smartphone, tablet or

computer.

The virtual visits allow patients to talk with a provider just

as they would in the doctor’s office, but without leaving home.

Officials say some appointments require a physical examination

but many visits can be managed well through virtual interaction.

Coronavirus in Indiana Prisons

(Indianapolis, IN) -Some Indiana prison inmates now have coronavirus.

 

According to state officials, 10 offenders have tested positive. So have 20 staff members.

Officials are not revealing where the positive test results were obtained.

The state has 21 correctional facilities. 

Arrests in Latest Homicide

(Michigan City, IN) - Arrests have been made in connection with a recent shooting death in Michigan City. 20-year old Christopher Deal is charged with aiding, inducing or

causing murder. 

 

22-year old Mark Wright, Jr. was also taken into custody following a short foot pursuit. 29 year old Sirus Scott was shot Sunday night, He was found in the backyard of a home in the 100 block of E. William St. 

 

Both suspects were being held in the LaPorte County Jail without bond. They’re scheduled for an initial court hearing on Tuesday. The chain of events leading up to the shooting and other details have not been released.

Healthcare Foundation Springs into Action

(LaPorte) - Two weeks ago, the Healthcare Foundation of LaPorte voted to fast-track grant applications for local groups on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle.

Since then, they have handed out over half a million dollars to fifteen local agencies.

Over $78,000 has gone to food services such as the Salvation Army and food pantries.

Another $95,000 will help local elderly and needy residents with rent and mortgage payments.

But the largest amount, over $364,000, is for medical equipment for area first responders and medical providers.

Maria Fruth, Healthcare Foundation president and CEO, says additional grant requests are still coming in, but they have been quick to respond to immediate needs first.

"It has been extremely busy," she says. "But we did make a promise that we would react to major needs quickly." 

The Healthcare Foundation has set up a website for getting information pertaining to coronavirus relief. That online resource hub can be found on their website.

Here is a complete breakdown of coronavirus-related grants awarded so far:

 

 

Healthcare Foundation of La Porte

COVID-19 Related Emergency Grants awarded to the community

March 26, 2020 to April 6, 2020.

 

Total Grants Awarded: $574,513

 

Category:  Food needs for La Porte County residents with food insecurity = $ 78,400

  • Salvation Army of La Porte = $35,000 (La Porte)
    • Grant funds to be used to purchase food and supplies to continue and increase of meals distributed each night.
  • Salvation Army of Michigan City = $20,000 (Michigan City)
    • Grant funds to be used to purchase food items, boxes/bags for prepacking groceries, and personal care products (paper towels, soap, diapers, shampoo, tissue) to be distributed to those in need through the food pantry.
  • South Central Weekend Food Program = $3,400 (South Central School area)
    • Funds to provide healthy food including dairy, fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, meats and eggs to low -income families in the South Central School area.
  • Sacred Heart Church Food Pantry = $5,000 (La Porte)
    • Funds to assist purchase of necessary items for the food pantry.
  • Arise & Shine Food Center = $10,000 (Michigan City)
    • Funds to be used to purchase food and supplies due to the increased number of families accessing the Food Center.
  • Lamb's Chapel United Methodist-Good Shepherd Food Pantry = $5,000 (New Prairie School area)
    • Funds to be used to purchase food to feed families experiencing loss of income.

 

 

Category: The elderly and other high-risk populations = $95,000

  • Catholic Charities = $ 40,000
    • Funds to be used for rent, mortgage and gas card assistance for low-income La Porte County residents.
  • North Central Community = $40,000
    • Funds to be used for low-income residents of La Porte County for assistance with rent and mortgage payments.
  • Housing Opportunities =$15,000
    • Funds to be used to assist low-income La Porte County residents with rent, transportation costs and student education needs.

 

 

Category:  Healthcare & Emergency workers in need of protective gear & equipment = $364,443

  •  All La Porte County firefighters (applied by La Crosse Volunteer Fire Department) = $24,620      
    • Gear Decontamination kits for 16 volunteer fire departments in La Porte County, 4 fire departments in Michigan City and 3 fire departments in La Porte City.
  • La Porte Hospital = $163,700
    • Funds to be used to protect healthcare providers, staff and patients at             La Porte Hospital. Funding includes: Intubation Boxes, Lucas Equipment (provides mechanical chest compressions for patients with sudden cardiac arrest), Canvas Duck Masks (to protect hospital support staff and other healthcare providers- not intended for frontline providers), Glide Scope (video laryngoscopy for intubation) and Patient Bedside Monitors.
  • VNA (Visiting Nurses Association of NWI) = $19,123
    • Serving LP Co. hospice patients, for protective equipment and technology
  • La Porte County Emergency Medical Services= $157,000
    • Funds to be used to purchase 11 Lucas Equipment, which provides mechanical chest compressions for patients with sudden cardiac arrest, for each of the EMS rigs.

 

 

Category: Other needs (related to COVID-19 crisis) = $25,000

  •  City of La Porte = $20,000
    • Funds to assist hiring a Communication director during the COVID-19 crisis.
  •  La Porte County Small Animal Shelter = $5,000 
    • Funds to assist with food needs & vet for abandoned pets and owners without funds to attend pets' needs.

Litka to Lead Girls' Basketball at New Prairie

(New Carlisle) - New Prairie has hired a former Indiana All-Star to head up its girls’ high school basketball program.

After leaving the college coaching ranks, Aimee Litka will lead the Lady Cougars.

As a player, Litka led South Bend St. Joe’s to a state title in 2005 and was voted a state all-star. She went on to play college ball at Valparaiso University.

Litka spent last season as an assistant coach at IU South Bend. Before that, she was the head women’s basketball coach and athletic director at Holy Cross.

Litka is looking to build the New Prairie program from the ground up. The Lady Cougars haven’t had a winning season since 2004.

In addition to coaching, Litka will be teaching at New Prairie Middle School starting next fall.

Indiana Coronavirus Deaths Top 200

(Indianapolis, IN) -The death toll from coronavirus in Indiana

now stands at 203.

According to state health officials, there are 439 additional confirmed

cases now.

The total number of confirmed cases statewide is just under 6,000.

Over 30 thousand Hoosiers have been tested, officials said.

28 LaPorte County residents have now been diagnosed with the virus.

There have been three deaths from the virus in LaPorte County.

Starke County now has six residents with positive tests and no deaths.

Temporary Permit Program for Food Trucks to Operate at Highway Rest Areas

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indiana Department of Transportation announced today the launch of a temporary program to permit licensed food trucks to operate at rest area locations on Indiana interstate highways to provide food and beverage options for commercial truck drivers and motorists engaged in essential travel during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

 

The program will provide needed options for truck drivers, many of whom are reporting limited availability of food and beverages options near highways across the country due to restaurants and other businesses following public health guidelines in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, including closing dining rooms and in some cases reducing hours of service.

No Baseball a Real Downer for Upp

(LaPorte, IN) - Talk about a fish out of water.

The high school baseball season cancelled due to coronavirus

might be harder to cope with in LaPorte billed as the

“Baseball Capital of Indiana.”

Head coach Scott Upp says it’s definitely an adjustment not being

with his players at hallowed Schreiber Field, the home of the Slicers.

Upp also says he had to break the news to his players not in person due

to social distancing which hasn’t made things any easier especially for

his seniors hoping for a last hurrah in a Slicers uniform.

Upp played high school baseball in La Porte then in college and

started coaching right away so it’s his first season without baseball.

Beach a Draw for Coping with Social Distancing

(New Buffalo, MI) - A lot of rain came down Tuesday night.

There was also hail mixed in with it in some parts of the

listening area.

Before the storms, a lot of people took advantage of the

warm, sunny weather just to get out of the house in many cases during

this age of social distancing.

In New Buffalo, Jennifer Ward was at the beach with her two sons and

said it was a good time to go with her children being out of school due to

coronavirus.

Ward said the beach also offered plenty of opportunity to stay at least

six feet apart from others during this coronavirus emergency.

Also there was a crew from WSBT TV out of South Bend.

Jacob Singleton, one of the members of the TV crew, was getting ready to

send up a drone to take some footage of the lakefront for a story they

were working on about charter boats having to close due to the coronavirus.

The hail last night was said to be the size of golf balls or at least

rock salt.

Gov. Holcomb Signs Executive Order To Support EMS

(Indianapolis, IN)  — Governor Eric J. Holcomb signed an executive order to allow retired and inactive EMS professionals to join the fight against COVID-19.

 

The executive order permits retired and inactive EMS professionals to provide supplemental health care services in Indiana during this public health emergency without reinstatement or approval by the Indiana EMS Commission if they work under the supervision of a licensed EMS or health care professional.

 

Under the executive order, retired and inactive EMS professionals are also allowed to provide primary patient care for patients as part of emergency response, transports, and facilities with a temporary certification or licensure from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

 

 

Indoor Service Banned at Liquor Stores

(LaPorte, IN) - Hoosiers cannot go inside liquor stores right now.

But, they can still buy it from outside the store.

At midnight, the new coronavirus related restrictions

went into effect under enhanced stay at home orders from

the governor.

Adam Mrozinski, operator of both Bottle Shop locations in

LaPorte, said they’re going straight to the customer in the parking lot.

He said customers can show up and place an order or order

on the phone then show up to receive their carry outs.

Mrozinski says it’s too early to say if the new restrictions are impacting

business.

Before, he says sales were 50 percent due to the ban on indoor service

at restaurants and bars.

Coronavirus Busting Up Workforce at HOOTERS

(Indianapolis, IN) - Coronavirus is busting up the workforce at HOOTERS.

The restaurant chain known for curvy waitresses wearing

tank tops has notified the Indiana Department of Workforce Development t has laid off

502 workers across Indiana, including in Portage, Merrillville and Schererville.

The layoffs include 260 Hooters girls statewide.

MC Mayor Issues COVID-19 Orders

 

MAYOR DUANE PARRY IS DECLARING A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY DUE TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC & IMPLEMENTING CERTAIN PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY MEASURES

 

Today, Mayor Duane Parry issued an Executive Order declaring a “Local Disaster Emergency in the City of Michigan City” and has implemented measures attempting to reduce and eliminate the spread of COVID-19.    This Order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, and shall conclude at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, unless the Common Council extends the Mayor’s Executive Order to 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 4, 2020.  

Please refer to the attached Executive Order 04-2020 for specific details.

This order includes but is not limited to:

  • A Stay at Home or Place of Residence Order
  • Essential Businesses and Operations
  • Temporary Closure of Washington and Pullman Parks
  • A mandatory curfew of 10:00pm to 5:00am
  • Requiring out-of-state residents arriving to Michigan city to self-quarantine for 14 days
  • Temporarily prohibit the use of commercial lodging and short-term rentals for vacationing and leisure.

Closing City Parks:

  • Washington Park and Pullman Skate Park will be closed to limit exposure and contact between people. As a reminder, all playgrounds, where playground equipment is in use in Michigan City have been closed since March 23, 2020 and will remain closed. Areas for passive recreation, like Gardena, Striebel Pond and the Police Department facility for walking and jogging, will remain open.
  • The Marina will remain open with Free boat launching offered at 6th and Michigan from 5:00am to 3:30pm.
  • If needed, the Michigan City Police are empowered to disperse gatherings and they can order people to vacate closed sections of parks. 

“To the citizens of our community, over the past week the number of people living in LaPorte County that have become infected with COVID-19 virus has increased over 300%.  As your Mayor, I cannot stress enough that the actions we take now through the next several weeks will help curb the spread of this virus and save lives. There is nothing that I won’t do as Mayor to protect our residents at this very critical time.”

Virtual Town Hall Meeting About COVID-19

(LaPorte, IN) - Local residents can find out the latest on COVID-19

at the federal level through a virtual town hall meeting.

U.S Senator Mike Braun of Indiana is going to answer questions Wednesday.

He’s going to be a virtual guest of La Porte mayor Tom Dermody.

Dermody will be on his Facebook Live page interviewing Braun and

giving him questions from the public….

Braun is scheduled to be on Dermody’s Facebook Live page from

2 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.

Pink Supermoon to Occur Tonight

(LaPorte, IN) - You've been cooped up for days. Have you been wanting to do something as a family that isn't watching TV and still is safe amid the COVID-19 quarantine?  According to the Farmer's Almanac, tonight's full moon will be one for stargazers.  It's not only a supermoon, but a pink one at that.    

 

According to CNN, Supermoons occur when the moon is within 90% of perigee -- which is its closest approach to Earth in orbit. The moon will appear brighter and bigger in the night sky, and hopefully, no clouds and inclement weather will obscure the view. 

 

NW Indiana is, however, expecting thunderstorms this evening and the storm clouds could obscure our view.  The optimum viewing time will be 10:35 pm EDT to midnight this evening and even into the early morning hours of Wednesday, according to EarthSky.org.

 

 

Plenty of Beds at Local Hospitals

(LaPorte County, IN) - Local hospitals still have plenty of beds for COVID-19 patients. LaPorte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora says the situation here is nowhere close to where it is in some places like New York City.

 

Kora, who has a family medical practice in Michigan City, is also on the board of directors at Franciscan Health. Kora says Franciscan and LaPorte Hospital have added beds. One way is not doing non-emergency surgeries right now until the public health crisis is over.

 

Kora says the hospitals are taking a financial loss by not doing non-emergency surgeries right now, but hopes the federal government Will help absorb their losses.

LaLumeire was 5th Seed in Cancelled Tournament

(LaPorte County, IN) - A local high school team made the national boys' basketball tournament.

But, the tournament has been canceled.

 

La Lumiere was considered on the bubble before the eight teams were chosen recently for the Geico Nationals in New York City. Not only were the Lakers chosen but they wound up being the 5th seed.

 

Head coach Pat Holmes credited his players for overcoming a couple of mid-season losses to make the tournament….  He said not getting to play in the tourney was disappointing especially for his two seniors.

 

LaLumiere finished second in the tourney last year and won it back in 2017.

The Lakers finished the regular season at 23-3.

Coronavirus Cases Locally Now at 25

(Indianapolis, IN) - Another 568 Hoosiers have tested positive for coronavirus.

State Health officials also report another 34 deaths.

Just over 55 hundred Indiana residents have tested positive.

Officials say the death toll now stands at 173.

25 LaPorte County residents have confirmed cases.

That’s four more than the day before.

Deaths in LaPorte County remain at three.

Starke County has five cases and no deaths.

Porter County has 84 cases and no deaths.

St. Joseph County has one death out of 129 confirmed cases

2nd Coronavirus Death in Berrien County

(St. Joseph, MI) - Berrien County has recorded its second death 

from coronavirus.

Officials say the man was over 65 and had underlying 

medical conditions.

The number of cases in Michigan has now topped 17-thousand 

with over 700 deaths.

Stay At Home Order Extended

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana's stay-at-home order has been extended

to April 20.

Governor Eric Holcomb says now is the time to take

social distancing even more seriously with Indiana started

toward its peaks and try to really flatten the curve.

Under the extended order, essential businesses can stay open as long as

they do things like limit their number of customers and set aside time to

restock and clean.

LaPorte Man Loses Coronavirus Battle

(LaPorte, IN) - A man who recorded the first confirmed case of coronavirus

in LaPorte County has died.

The man was 55 and from the city of LaPorte, officials said.

His case was first reported on March 13 after he returned from

visiting family in Joliet, Illinois.

The man died at Porter Regional Hospital from complications of the

virus, officials said.

Fatal Shooting in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - A Chicago man was fatally shot in Michigan City yesterday.

About 8 p.m., police say officers responded to a complaint of shots fired

in the area of Detroit and Franklin streets.

Police say 29 year old Sirus Scott was located in the backyard of a

residence in the 100 block of E. William St.

Scott was transported to Franciscan Hospital where he later was pronounced dead.

No arrests were reported, but police the investigation is ongoing.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police at (219) 874-3221 or

or on Facebook Messenger or the crime tip hotline at (219) 873-1488.

Property owners get 60-day grace period to pay taxes penalty free

(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) - Hoosiers are being given a 60-day grace period to pay the first installment of their property tax bills without penalty in this coronavirus-plagued year.

Lake, Porter and LaPorte County will be mailing out tax bills in the next three weeks printed with a deadline of payment due May 11.

But Lake County Treasurer Peggy Katona said property owners won’t be assessed any penalties for late payments until after July 10.

LaPorte County Treasurer Lynne Spevak said Gov. Eric Holcomb is granting that two-month delay to give relief to Hoosiers affected by the state-mandated closure of restaurants, bars and other retail businesses in recent days.

The delay only affects those who pay their own taxes. Financial institutions that hold residents’ home mortgages and collect property tax through escrow accounts still will be required to pay on May 11.

And local government representatives in all three counties said they hope the majority of their taxpayers who do pay their own taxes still will honor the May 10 deadline so local government can receive the revenues needed to perform essential services as usual.

Governor Update on COVID-19 This Afternoon

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana’s governor is going to give an update on the COVID-19 virus

this afternoon.

He’s scheduled to have a virtual press briefing from Indianapolis at 1:30 p.m.

LaPorte County time.

State Health Commissioner Kristina Box is scheduled to join the governor.

We’ll carry the press briefing live on 96-7 The Eagle.

Once again, it’s scheduled to begin at 1:30 this afternoon LaPorte time.

Man Charged in Weekend Fatality

(LaPorte County, IN) - A Knox man allegedly caused a death while driving impaired in LaPorte County. 39-year-old Thomas Nelsen is charged with operating while intoxicated causing death and other counts. 

 

The LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office said Nelsen veered over the center line Saturday afternoon and hit a truck on Route 6 near Westville. Another vehicle swerved and hit a utility pole.

Police say the victim was on a motorcycle with her husband. The motorcycle slid and rolled.

Barbara McDowell of Kingsford Heights was airlifted and died early the next morning.

 

Police did not reveal if Nelsen was impaired by drugs or alcohol. He was being held in the LaPorte County Jail on $20,000 bond.  His wife, Kelly, was charged with possession of a controlled substance, police said. Police also did not reveal if anyone else was injured.

Church Ticketed for Having Service

(Hammond, IN) - A northwest Indiana church was ticketed for having indoor

services yesterday. 

Reports indicate officers went to The Church of Christ in Hammond.

The church refused to send parishoners home despite requests to do so to

try and slow the spread of coronavirus.

So, the church and elders were ticketed for not complying with the governor's

order, police said.

Reports indicate the church said its service was essential.

More people were walking into the church as the officers were leaving.

Officers Honored for Work in Solving Robberies

(Michigan City, IN) - Two Michigan City Police officers have been recognized

for obtaining the break needed to solve 11 robberies.

Police say officers Al Schutz and David Baker were on E. 7th Street

three months ago.

They spotted a man who looked similar to a suspect in a string of robberies.

After stopping the man, the officers recognized his clothing and shoes matched

what the suspect wore in a robbery the day before at Charlie's East Side Liquor store

on Michigan Boulevard.

Police say evidence was then compiled linking the man to the other robberies.

Shutz was given the exception service award while Baker received a letter of

commendation.

Alleged Mom Killer to Undergo Mental Health Screening

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man charged with fatally shooting

his mother will undergo a mental health screening.

The purpose is to see if he’s competent to stand trial.

36 year old Juan Patterson was being held on one million dollars bond.

Last month, he allegedly shot his mother, Sonja Bell, a dozen times at

Canterbury House Apartments in Michigan City off Pahs Road.

Patterson could face anywhere from 45 to 65 years in prison.

The mental evaluation was ordered last week by LaPorte Superior Court 1 Judge

Michael Bergerson.

City Council Meeting Cancelled

(LaPorte, IN) - Tonight’s LaPorte City Council meeting has been cancelled

as a precaution to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Officials say only non essential items are on the agenda so it wasn’t

necessary to take any chances.

Local Title Company Adds Curb Appeal

(LaPorte) - During the pandemic, many businesses are forced to adapt their practices.

One local title company is bringing their paperwork to the parking lot.

Social distancing can be tough while signing real estate papers around a conference table. So Meridian Title has started offering curbside service.

Closers act like carhops, minus the roller skates, bringing paperwork out to clients for them to sign in their cars.

Jeaniene Emerick is the branch manager in LaPorte. She says documents are reviewed over the phone, with signings taking place in the parking lot. The trick is to get everyone parked close to each other-- but not too close.

"We try to get them as close together as we can," Emerick says. "Sometimes we have multiple closings, so that's been a little interesting to make sure that the cars are parking next to each other. Plus if it's a purchase, we have the agents that need to get up next to the customer also."

Emerick says so far they've been fortunate that business has been strong and the weather has been favorable.

 

 

Day One of LaPorte Executive Order

(LaPorte) - Shoppers starting queuing up outside LaPorte stores Saturday following an order that limits the number of customers inside.

On Friday, LaPorte mayor Tom Dermody issued an executive order meant to curb the spread of coronavirus in the Maple City.

Starting Saturday morning, retail stores must limit the number of shoppers to two per 1,000 square feet of retail space. In addition, only one family member at a time is allowed in stores.

Walmart, for example, is now maxed out at 125 shoppers. Al’s Supermarket can let in 80 at a time. Dollar stores average around 15 or 20. Aldi is managing customer flow by putting out only 34 shopping carts, which is its limit. Most stores have an extra employee, like a bouncer, monitoring who comes in and out.

Despite a light rain, lines between two and twelve shoppers long were observed around LaPorte at midday.

The mayor’s order lasts seven days, but the LaPorte City Council may extend it through the rest of April.

Store Customers Being Restricted in LaPorte

)LaPorte, IN) - Restrictions are being placed on the number of customers inside

essential retail establishments in the city of LaPorte.

Mayor Tom Dermody Friday afternoon issued an executive order that goes into effect

at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.

Under the order, essential businesses are limited to no more than two customers for every

1,000 square feet of space and no more than one person from each household.

Walmart, for example, is capped at 125 customers at any one time.

Citing growing coronavirus numbers, Dermody said “we know this is going to continue

to grow and what we have to do is keep our community safe.”

The executive order can last for only seven days but the city council is expected to

utilize Its authority next week to extend the order until the end of April.

BMV Announces Appointment Only Hours for New CLP/CDL Credential Transactions

(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) —Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) Commissioner Peter L. Lacy announced today 6 BMV branches will be open by appointment only beginning Monday, April 6 to process new Commercial Learner’s Permits (CLP), new Commercial Driver’s Licenses (CDL), and upgrade/downgrade for the CDL to add the tank vehicle or hazardous materials endorsement credential transactions. This decision was made to support the current critical need to increase the number of new licensed commercial truck drivers on the road delivering supplies and to aid in the start of the agricultural season in our state.

 

An appointment is required to visit a branch during these special hours of operation and the available transactions are limited to new CLP, new CDL, and upgrade/downgrade for the CDL to add the tank vehicle or hazardous materials endorsement. Individuals must have a Medical Examination Report (MER) and Medical Examiner’s Certificate (MEC) on file with the BMV prior to scheduling an appointment to take knowledge exam(s). To schedule an appointment to obtain a CDL individual must hold a CLP and pass a CDL skills test in a vehicle representative of the class of CDL the driver wants to receive at a BMV-authorized CDL skills test site.

 

Appointments will be available Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. For more information on requirements and branches offering appointments, please visit our website: https://www.in.gov/bmv/4509.htm. To schedule an appointment and ask additional questions, call the BMV Contact Center. The team is available Monday through Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The phone number is 888-692-6841.

Officers on Home Quarantine

(LaPorte, IN) - LaPorte County Police are waiting for test results on two officers

on home quarantine.

Sheriff John Boyd says the officers reported symptoms then went

to their doctors and later were placed on a 14 day home quarantine.

He said the officers been tested for coronavirus but the results have not

come back.

He said the will not be allowed to return unless they test negative or the

14 day period expires with them no longer showing symptoms.

Boyd says the officers have shown recent signs of improvement.

Beechwood Closed Now for Outbreak

(LaPorte, IN) - Beechwood Golf Course will close until May 1 to help limit the spread of the coronavirus, according to City of La Porte Park Superintendent Mark Schreiber.

The closure will take effect Saturday, April 4. Schreiber said this decision comes as the weather begins to warm up and the pandemic continues to grow throughout the state.

“While we closed operations at the course last week, we now see the need to close the course to the public,” Schreiber said. “With courses closed in Michigan and Illinois, our area is seeing an influx of golfers from those states. That type of movement runs counterproductive to the Stay-At-Home Order issued by Governor Holcomb in efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.

“It is essential to ramp up our social distancing efforts and we hope the golfing community takes this opportunity to stay home and stop the spread of this virus.”

Schreiber said all other La Porte parks will remain open to provide residents a place to exercise, but all playgrounds, the skate park and fitness court are closed until further notice. Amenities such as trails, basketball courts and ball diamonds are closed to groups and limited to individuals or those from the same household. He said citizens enjoying the parks should continue following the guidelines for social distancing.

New Buffalo Advising Vacation Rentals Not to Open

(New Buffalo, MI) - In New Buffalo, the city is cracking down on

vacation rentals to help fight the spread of coronavirus.

These are homes rented out for a short period of time.

Recently, officials say police have broken up parties and large gatherings

at some of vacation rentals being used.

Vacation rentals are not considered essential under the

governor’s stay at home order.

City Manager Dave Richards says the city is sending out the advisory

now before other vacation rental owners open their doors to more

vacationers.

 So far, Richards say the vacation rentals owners approached

have cooperated.

He said those who don’t could be cited and be fined for violating the

governor’s order.

Economic Stimulus Checks Out Soon

(Washington D.C) - Economic stimulus checks should start going out within two weeks.

Officials say direct deposits will likely begin during the week 

of April 13th.

However, it’ll be longer for people without direct deposit 

information on file with the IRS

Officials say paper checks for those folks should start going

out on May 4thbut could take 20 weeks to complete.

Pizza Giveaway Now Has a Sponsor

(LaPorte, IN) - Free pizza will be given out for the third straight week

in La Porte.

Domino’s gave out 250 pizzas last time and 200 the week before.

This time, they have a sponsor.

Arnett Construction will pay the entire cost.

Owner Derrick Arnett says he was moved by the effort and

contacted the mayor’s office to see if he could help…

The pizza give away will again be at LaPorte High School

in the I street parking lot.

It begins at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Indiana K-12 Schools to Remain Closed Through End of the Year

(Indianapolis, IN) - Governor Holcomb has announced that all K-12 schools across the state will remain closed through the end of the school year.

 

In-classroom instruction had already been stopped through April 30, but the announcement means e-learning will continue through the end of the academic year.

 

The announcement comes on the same day Indiana reported 474 new cases of novel coronavirus and 13 additional deaths associated with the illness, according to the state's health department.

The new positive test results bring the state’s total number of confirmed cases to 3,039 with 78 deaths since the pandemic began.

Some Inmates Released Due to Spread

(LaPorte, IN) - The La Porte County Jail has released about 20 offenders

as a precaution against coronavirus.

Sheriff John Boyd says the inmates were all non-violent and

high risk for the virus due to age and pre-existing health concerns.

He says prosecutors and the courts were among those involved in

choosing ones to release, a decision aimed at achieving a balance

for the safety of both the offenders, current inmates and society.

He says the extra space from vacating the offenders also provides

more room for any inmates who have to be quarantined.

One offender showing symptoms is being isolated.

Boyd said he could not disclose if the inmate has been tested for

coronavirus but revealed the offender appeared to be doing well.

Kroger Workers Receive "Hazard Pay"

(Cincinnati, OH) - Some grocery store workers in LaPorte

are receiving a pay increase.

It’s for the hazards faced from coming to work.

Kroger has announced a $2 an hour increase in pay.

“Our associates across the country have shown us the true meaning

Of the word hero,” said Tim Massa, a senior vice president for the company

at the corporate level.

“You’ve been nothing short of extraordinary,” Massa told Kroger employees.

Massa says the pay increase is in effect through the 19th of this month.

Arrest For Non-Essential Driving

(LaPorte County, IN.) - LaPorte County Police have arrested a driver for violating the governor’s stay at home order.  Two days ago, police responded to the area of U.S 20 and 350 East on shots fired report. Police said the suspected vehicle was pulled over at U.S 20 and U.S 35.

 

The 22-year-old man from Elkhart was arrested in connection with the gunshots and driving for non-essential reasons, police said. Under state law, a stay at home order violation is a

Class B misdemeanor. That can bring up to six months in jail and a one thousand dollar fine.

Coronavirus Impacting Courthouse Project

(LaPorte, IN.) - Concerns about the economy will apparently bring a halt to the

Michigan City courthouse improvements.

Work on the 22 million project was expected to begin in the

coming weeks.

The LaPorte County Commissioners on Wednesday voted to push back

the start of the project.

Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora says the county might not have the

money to finance the project in the coming weeks if there’s a lot of people

under financial hardship unable to pay their property taxes.

Casinos being shutdown statewide because of the virus has already dried up
riverboat money from Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City.

Kora said the project was pushed back indefinitely but hopes it can

begin sometime late in the year.

Final action is still required by the LaPorte County Council for the courthouse

project to be temporarily stopped.

Coronavirus Hurting Corn Prices

(West Lafayette, IN.) - Coronavirus is not doing corn growers any favors.  Corn is used to make ethanol and most gasoline has 10 to 15 percent ethanol. Less driving has lowered demand for gasoline.

 

Jim Mintert, an agricultural economist with Purdue University, said corn prices are headed lower as a result. Mintert says some ethanol plants could close if the lockdown on the economy runs for an extended period.  38 percent of all corn in the U.S. is used for making ethanol.

MC Man Among the Latest Virus Casualties

(Indianapolis, IN) - The number of COVID-19 deaths in Indiana now stands at 65. A Michigan City man is among the latest casualties of the virus. La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora said the man died Tuesday night.

 

He said the man was fairly young and had some underlying health conditions. LaPorte County now has 11 residents with confirmed cases. Statewide, the total stands at just over 2500.

Dress Maker Filling Face Mask Shortage

(LaPorte, IN) - Patti Pierson started making face masks for her sister, a respiratory therapist from Hobart, to help with a shortage during the COVID-19 spread.  

         The sewing machine at her clothing store in LaPorte is working practically non-stop now filling orders at no cost from others on the front lines of the outbreak. 

         “It’s been a blur, really. I haven’t slept much,” said Pierson.

         She and a few helpers were up to 350 masks when Franciscan Health learning about the effort placed the most recent order on her Facebook page. 

         Her masks have already gone to LaPorte Hospital, the LaPorte Fire Department and other places like nursing homes.

         Even medical facilities near Detroit and Nevada have received deliveries of her finished product.

         Her first masks went to her sister, Casey Hahney , who came to her for help with the shortage about two weeks ago.

          Hahney works full-time at a doctor’s office closed because of the virus.

         She’s been filling in at places like St. Catherine Hospital in East Chicago to help with manpower during the crisis.

         Pierson, though, couldn’t stop knowing the need for masks was elsewhere. 

         “I made her about 50 then decided to make for others since not everyone is lucky enough to have a sister that sews,” Pierson said.

         She and her husband, Keith, are owners of The Pink Sheep Boutique at 501 Lincolnway.

         Patti makes about half of the children’s clothing offered in the store.

         Used for the masks is pre-washed 100-percent cotton fabric normally used by Pierson to make dresses and other garments.

         Since her clothing is for young children, the images depicted on her masks range from flowers to baseballs and cartoon characters like Spiderman.

         Each mask features a pocket for inserting a filter for added protection.

         Her husband learned how to run a sewing machine just a couple of days ago to help with the mission.

         The retired 28-year member of the U.S Army was recently laid off from his job at Ford Motor Co. in Chicago due to the virus.

          Mr. Pierson said people asking for masks report they’re waiting on deliveries from other suppliers while the ones they have now are falling apart.

         “Until then maybe we can help alleviate that,” he said.

         

Unemployment Claims Exploding

(Indianapolis, IN) - Unemployment claims in Indiana have more than skyrocketed.

According to state worforce development officials, more than 120,000 people filed for unemployment in the state last week.

That was an increase of more than six thousand percent.

Here in La Porte County, officials said there were more than

1,400 unemployment claims last week.

Officials said one out of every 20 Hoosier workers have lost

their jobs so far to coronavirus.

War Hero Dies from Coronavirus

(St. Joseph, MI.) - A man from Berrien County, Michigan who died

from coronavirus was viewed as a hero.

Walter “Bud” Baker was shot 13 times during the Vietnam War while

fighting to save the lives of his fellow soldiers during an

enemy attack, according to family members.

He received many honors and recognization for his heroics over

the past several decades, including admiration from Congressman

Fred Upton of St. Joseph.

Baker was from Coloma but had family in places like Buchanan and

Michigan City.

Officials say Baker was in his 70’s and had some underlying health

conditions when he died at Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph.

Charges in Fatal Shooting in LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - A man was charged today with a fatal shooting over the weekend in LaPorte.

22-year old Davion Jones is charged with reckless homicide.

The victim was 20-year old Tyler Terusiak.

According to courtroom testimony, Jones drove his brother, Christopher, to a house in the 1400 block of Jefferson Ave. about 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Christopher wanted to pick up his girlfriend’s daughter because she was being harassed by a group of individuals, according to courtroom testimony.

When they pulled up, the evidence shows Christopher stepped out of the car and was surrounded.

The defendant stayed in the car and said a man approached him with a gun.

He says the man, Stanley Henderson, pointed the gun at him.

Fearing for his safety, Davion Jones told police he started firing with his eyes closed at Henderson who was shot multiple times.

The 21-year old Henderson survived.

One of the rounds hit Terusiak who was off in the distance a bit, authorities said. 

Police say Terusiak died from a gunshot to the heart.

So far, Jones has not been charged with shooting with Henderson, claiming

that was self defense.

Jones of Chesterton was being held on $15,000 bond.

If convicted, he could face anywhere from a one to six year sentence on the reckless homicide charge.

Three Shot in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - In Michigan City, three people were shot this week.

The victims were shot early Monday in the 900 block of W. 9th St.

Police say two were taken to the hospital.

The other refused medical treatment.

None of the injuries were believed life threatening.

Police say the victims were discovered after a series of shots rang out.

A week before that….police say shots were fired into a home at that same

location.

Nobody was wounded in that incident.

So far, police have not revealed any arrests.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police.

Judge to Decide Evidence in Fatal Shooting

(LaPorte, IN) - The case of a fatal shooting in LaPorte over the weekend is going

before a judge this morning.

Police will present evidence to LaPorte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos.

Alevizos will decide if the evidence is sufficient enough to bring charges

against a person detained since the Saturday night shooting.

Two people were shot in the 1400 block of Jefferson Ave.

One later died.

So far, the name of the possible suspect and the names of the

shooting victims have not been released.

What led up to the shooting has also not been disclosed.

We hope to provide more details after the evidence is presented to the

judge this morning.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases Climbing

(Indianapolis, IN) - 14 more deaths from coronavirus have occurred in Indiana.   49 Hoosiers have now died. State Health officials say the total number of cases statewide is just over 2100.

Eight residents of LaPorte County are now confirmed with the virus. That’s up by two from the day before.

 

49 cases are reported from St. Joseph County.

21 in Porter County and 146 in Lake County.

Starke County still has just one confirmed case.

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