Local News Archives for 2020-05

South Shore Line Suspends Service for June 1st

On Sunday, May 31st, at 9:40 p.m., NICTD sent a bulletin stating the South Shore Line will be temporarily  suspending service for Monday, June 1st.

 

In consultation with Metra officials, who are suspending its Monday train service, the South Shore Line will not operate passenger trains in an abundance of caution for the safety of their employees and passengers.

 

The South Shore Line will continue to monitor events as Monday, June 1st progresses, and updates about the South Shore Lines  for Tuesday, June 2nd will be sent as more information becomes available.

Local Law Enforcement Leaders Speak Out Against Police Brutality

Local law enforcement leaders have not hesitated in speaking out against the ugly police incident in Minneapolis recently.

46-year-old George Floyd was pinned down by police outside a Minneapolis store last Monday. Floyd allegedly suffocated as an officer pressed a knee against his neck.

According to LaPorte Sheriff John Boyd, it’s a clear case of excessive force. "While we don't know the totality of those circumstances," he says, "There is just absolutely no excuse for that level of force; it wasn't warranted." Boyd notes that, by all appearances, Floyd was handcuffed and with his mobility limited, did not pose a threat.

According to Sheriff Boyd, his officers have been trained to avoid the head and neck areas when subduing a suspect. "If you're not justified in using lethal force," he says,"that's overboard, and we won't stand for it. Our staff previous to this had been trained and warned against that, and we certainly wouldn't tolerate it."

Boyd isn't alone in his criticism. Michigan City Police Chief Dion Campbell has also spoke out against the incident in Minneapolis. In a statement issued Thursday, Campbell said, "It’s a sobering moment for us as we reflect on this unfortunate incident and the need for on-going high level training in the use of force continuum." Campbell also called for a strong culture that values human life, while keeping all citizens safe.

Local authorities are optimistic that violent outbursts as seen recently in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis will not erupt here. "We've got an excellent relationship with the public that we serve," says Sheriff Boyd, "We recognize here in LaPorte County that policing is a cooperative effort." Both Boyd and Campbell agree that the key is transparency and accountability. "In every profession there may be one or two bad apples," Boyd says,"We recognize what happened in Minneapolis was uncalled-for. We want to make sure that doesn't happen here. And rest assured that we wouldn't tolerate anything like that here in LaPorte County."

Fair and COVID-19 Viewed as Oil and Water

(LaPorte, IN) - The LaPorte County Fair is waiting until 2021 to celebrate its 175th year due to concerns about COVID-19.

The fair scheduled July 12-18 is cancelled, officials with Indiana’s oldest county fair announced Friday afternoon.

Fair manager Don Stoner said the decision was extremely difficult but one that had to be made given the risk involved and safety precautions that would have to be imposed and followed.

“Part of the fair is you’re gathering with friends. It’s a yearly event.  A lot of people that’s when they get together.  To try and make them stand social distanced apart, it is just not possible,” he said.

“After reviewing federal, state and local guidelines and knowing how quickly and easily the COVID-19 virus spreads in large groups of people the board did not feel it would be possible nor prudent to have the fair at this time,” said Steve Mrozinski, president of the LaPorte County Agricultural Association, which operates the fair.

People who have purchased tickets for the fair or any of the grandstand events such as the Toby Keith concert will be contacted in the coming weeks on how those tickets will be handled, fair officials said.

Keith with a long string of No. 1 country hits like “How Do You Like Me Now” and “Beer For My Horses,” was scheduled to perform July 16.

Talks have been occurring with handlers for Keith since the COVID-19 outbreak in the event the fair had to be cancelled.

“There’s something being worked out right now.  We’re still working on all of those questions and scenarios,” Stoner said.

The decision comes a week after the LaPorte County branch of Purdue Extension chose not to have its 4-H members and volunteers take part in the fair with their exhibits and competitions.

“We’re fairgoers when we’re not putting one on so it’s going to be a different summer,” Stoner said.

           

La Porte County Fair Canceled for 2020

(La Porte County) After careful thought and deliberation, the La Porte County Agricultural Association (the "Board") has made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 La Porte County Fair originally scheduled for July 12th - July 18th.

 

"For the last 174 years, the La Porte County Fair has been held without hesitation and the Board is extremely proud of that," said Steve Mrozinski, Board President. "However, our priority is the safety of all of those involved in making our Fair great. After reviewing federal, state and local guidelines, and knowing how quickly and easily the COVID-19 spreads in large groups of people, the Board did not feel it would be possible  nor prudent to have the Fair at this time. This is due in large part to the uncertainty around planning for large gatherings and ensuring proper implementation of COVID-19 safety protocols."

 

"Although an extremely difficult decision, the Board decided that canceling this year's Fair was in the best interests of all those involved", said Don Stoner, Fair Manager. "However, this will allow us to focus our efforts on 2021 and what will still be the 175th year of the La Porte County Fair. The Fair Board will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the 175th Fair of 2021 will be one of the best."

 

Those that have already purchased tickets for the Fair or any musical acts, including for Toby Keith, will receive a separate communication from the Fair office in the coming weeks as to how those tickets will be handled. Any questions regarding 4-H should be directed to the Purdue Extension's La Porte Office at (219)324-9407.

Porter County 2020 Fair Latest to Cancel

(Porter County) - Porter County 2020 Fair has decided after much consideration, that the well-being of fair volunteers, vendors, and patrons and due to the recent regulations set by the Purdue Extension (the governing body of Indiana 4-H), the fair board announced today the 2020 Fair has officially been cancelled. 4-H Exhibitions will be held digitally, and Grandstand conerts are being rescheduled to next year. Ticket holders will receive an email with updates and given an opportunity to refund their tickets within the next week.

Truck Stop Deal for Michigan City Area

(LaPorte County, IN) - A much talked about the project outside Michigan City appears to be back on track. For a couple of years now, Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores has been interested in building along U.S 421 just south of Interstate 94.

 

A purchase agreement for the company to build on 10 acres has been worked out between the firm and seller, said Matt Reardon with the LaPorte County Office of Economic and Community Development.

 

Reardon said officials are still working on extending water and sewer underneath the interstate to the site which could start this summer. Reardon said it’s about an $18 million project.

Another County Fair Bites the Dust

(Elkhart County) - This morning the Elkhart County Fair board directors have decided to postpone this year's Fair. The announcement was made on their Facebook Page.

 

With this happening, that leaves only La Porte and Porter County fairs still a go at this time.

 

From the Elkhart County 4-H Fair:

It is with heavy hearts that we must announce that the Elkhart County 4-H Fair Board of Directors has voted to postpone the 2020 Fair to be held in conjunction with the 2021 Fair from July 23-31, 2021. Additionally, the board voted to allow 4-H to proceed with the 4-H programs at their discretion with the understanding that they will comply with all of Purdue's guidelines during the traditional fair week.

Time Running Out to Vote by Mail

(LaPorte County, IN) - Voters can still mail in their ballots for the June 2 primary. However, there’s a risk they might not arrive on time in the mail since the election is Tuesday. LaPorte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora says mail-in ballots can still be dropped off before noon on Tuesday at the county complex

 

in LaPorte or the county offices on W. 8th St. in Michigan City. Kora says mail-in voting is much higher this year because of COVID-19. People can still vote at the polls on Tuesday or vote at the polls early at the county complex in LaPorte or the county offices on 8th street in Michigan City.

Alcohol Suspected in Life Threatening Crash

(LaPorte County, IN) -  A suspected drunk driver caused a serious injury motor

vehicle crash in LaPorte County last evening.

41 year old James Geise of Dyer is charged.

The crash occurred on U.S 20 at 250 East about 6 p.m.

Police say a pick-up  truck driven by Geise struck an oncoming vehicle

head on.

According to police, 24-year old Rachel Mattes of South Bend was airlifted with

critical injuries.

Her passenger, 22-year old Anthony Herron of Plymouth sustained an injury

to his upper body.

Police say the crash happened when Geise veered around a vehicle stopped

in the westbound lanes to make a lefthand turn.

Geise could face anywhere from a one to six year sentence on the most

serious charge.

Time to Hit the Farmers Markets

(LaPorte County, IN) - The farmers market in Michigan City is scheduled

to open tomorrow for the season.

It’s at 8th and Washington streets.

The market will be open from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

The farmers market in LaPorte kicked off its season last week.

It will be open again tomorrow also from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at

Lincolnway and Monroe St.

No Lifeguards This Summer Could Be Permanent

(Michigan City, IN) - No lifeguards at the beach in Michigan City could

be permanent for the rest of the summer.

There were no lifeguards at Washington Park last weekend.

Mayor Duane Parry cited a need to save money during a budget crisis

but left open the possibility of lifeguards returning.

Now, the mayor’s office reports just one lifeguard from last year

applied to return.

Dozens of others did not meet the required qualifications.

In addition, the mayor’s office reports the hands-on portion

of the screening for applicants is not being allowed by the

American Red Cross due to COVID-19.

That has brought hiring lifeguards to a standstill.

As a result, a decision has been made for individuals to swim at their

own risk, according to the mayor’s office.

Heroin Arrests

(Michigan City, IN) - In Michigan City, a couple of suspected heroin dealers are now behind bars.

Police say 33-year old Eric Betton of Michigan City and 33-year-old Bryan Wells of Chicago were being held on 50 thousand dollars bond. 

 

Their arrests followed a several month-long investigations involving multiple police agencies.

Police say heroin, marijuana, and an undisclosed amount of cash were seized.

If convicted, the men could face anywhere from 10 to 30 years.

Deadline Set to Apply for Small Business Relief

(LaPorte County, IN) - Small businesses in LaPorte County hurt by COVID-19 have plenty of time to seek financial assistance locally. The deadline to apply is 4 p.m. on June 12th.

 

A $250,000 state grant is being used to offer up to $10,000 grants to small businesses in the unincorporated areas. Tony Rodriguez, director for the LaPorte County Office of Economic and

Community Development said applications must be submitted online. He expects the grants to be awarded late June or early July.

Police to Bolster Traffic Enforcement

(LaPorte, IN) - LaPorte City Police are beefing up patrols next month. Police say officers will target speeders, drunk drivers, and other dangerous moving violations. 100 hours of overtime will be invested in the four-week effort. Police say federal dollars will pay the cost.

Motorcyclist Seriously Injured at Dangerous Curve

(LaPorte County, IN) - One person was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident

this morning in LaPorte County.

It happened about 3 a.m. at State Road 2 and Wozniak Road at Pinhook.

Reports indicate a helicopter airlifted a patient identified by LaPorte County Police as 39-year old William Hoggard of Cedar Lake.

Police say alcohol was determined to be a contributing factor in the crash. 

He was eastbound on a 2002 Harley Davidson motorcycle when he failed to negotiate a curve. 

Police said Hoggard suffered an injury to his lower body. 

State Road 2 has since reopened.

Barb Elliott says the motorcycle wound up about 20 feet from her front door

at Pinhook curve.

She says many accidents have occurred at the dangerous curve over the years

even after the curve was sloped to make it safer to travel years ago.

COVID-19 Driving Up Costs for Coroner

(LaPorte, IN) -The LaPorte County Coroner is adding manpower. COVID-19 has a lot to do with it.

Coroner Bob Cutler says his office is going into the prisons now to test deceased offenders for COVID-19.

 

And more than one coroner from his office is going each time because anyone who dies no matter where it happens is being double body bagged as a precaution against exposure to the virus.

 

He said two coroners are also needed now to take away a body because other emergency responders are no longer helping to avoid risk for exposure to the virus. The county council this week approved $8,600 for his office to hire one more individual over the next three months.

LaPorte Bursting with Colors

(LaPorte, IN) - Downtown LaPorte is bursting with colors from nearly 6,000 flowers and plants being placed into the new soil. The young transplants are in the 130 or so brick planters along Lincolnway and other connecting streets.

 

The work beginning Monday was finished Wednesday by Bill Campbell and his crew from Perennials Galore which operates 12 greenhouses open to the public at 5652 E. Indiana 4 near Mill Creek.

 

Their work on Michigan Ave. outside City Hall caught the attention of mayor Tom Dermody, who greeted the over half dozen workers. “It’s worthwhile to see how it beautifies LaPorte and brings pride to the community,” said Mayor Tom Dermody.

 

Campbell said the large flower boxes received the usual petunias, begonias, and sweet potatoes brought in from his growing operation. 

 

Sunflowers were introduced to the planters for the very first time. “I think they’re going to be pretty awesome,” Campbell said.  The boxes equipped with automatic sprinklers used to be planted and maintained by volunteers.

 

Perennials Galore was hired to do the work about a decade ago by the city’s Business Improvement District for consistency. Campbell said he and his crew will return every week to pull weeds and do other maintenance, but they won’t have as much to do once the plants become large enough to choke out new weed growth.

 

Al Smith, owner of Maple City Sports at 718 Lincolnway, watched the planters in front of his store get filled on Tuesday. He saw the automatic sprinklers turn on while opening up for business the next morning. “They look very nice,” he said.

 

Dermody said the outside of the planters were also powered washed by members of the city’s water and sewer departments. “Especially during this tough time people are still willing to give for their community. It just looks fantastic,” he said.

 

 

Grants for Local Small Businesses

(LaPorte, IN) - $250,000 in grants will be going to help small businesses in LaPorte County impacted by COVID-19 stay afloat.  The money is from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs which has awarded $10.7 million in federal dollars since the relief effort at the direction of the governor was started April 1.

 

According to OCRA officials, LaPorte County on April 30 was awarded the maximum grant under the program which funds anything from increased access to testing and medical supplies to providing relief to small business owners and their workers.  The town of Hebron on April 22 was awarded $152,000 to provide short term working capital for small businesses, according to OCRA officials. 

 

The town of LaCrosse will receive $10,000 to install four Wi-Fi hotspots for residents to access the internet to complete e-Learning activities, file unemployment claims, and submit job applications, OCRA officials said. Tony Rodriguez, executive director for the LaPorte County Office of Economic and Community Development, said grants of up to $10,000 will be issued to at least 25 small businesses strictly in unincorporated areas of the county.

 

“This is about trying to save and be the lifeline to some of these small businesses that are really struggling,” he said.  According to Rodriguez businesses employing anywhere from 499 to less than five people can apply by clicking LaPorte County Action Fund Application at laportecounty.in.gov.

 

Applications must be filled out and submitted online by 4 p.m. on June 12. Rodriguez said OCRA will decide who receives the grants based on the recommendation of the LaPorte County Redevelopment Commission and checks should be received by recipients before the end of June.  

 

State Representative Jim Pressel of Rolling Prairie said the grants could especially help small businesses turned down for other government assistance programs tied to the virus. 

“With my constituents that have reached out to me this is a big deal for them because they have not qualified for some of these other things,” he said.

 

According to OCRA, more COVID-19 grants under the same program will be issued to other communities in the coming weeks

Blue Chip Casino to permanently lay off up to 60% of its workforce

(Michigan City, IN) The coronavirus pandemic has closed casinos across Northern Indiana and Michigan for months, and the latest word from Governor Holcomb us that they will not open before at least June 14.   

 

Michigan City's Blue Chip Casino Hotel Spa, has furloughed employees. However, they are now saying it will permanently lay off 25% to 60% of its workforce.   The layoffs will take effect between July 1 and July 14.  It's not yet known exactly how extensive they will be.

 

BMV Extends Hours for Primary Election Day

(Indianapolis, IN) —The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) announced today branches will extend hours of operation for the primary election. Branches will be open on Monday, June 1, from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Tuesday, June 2, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to issue ID cards and driver’s licenses to be used for identification at a polling place. Appointments are not required for these two days of operation, but service is limited.  

 

Under Indiana state law, BMV branches are open to the public for extended hours on Election Day and the day before Election Day. To meet the requirements of this law the BMV will not require appointments for Hoosiers needing an ID for voting purposes. During this extended period of operation, service offerings are limited to new, amended, renewed, or replacement ID and driver’s licenses for voting purposes. All other BMV services are not available on June 1 and June 2. Appointments will resume on June 3 and will be required for all transactions. Appointments can be scheduled here: https://www.in.gov/bmv/2405.htm.

First COVID-19 Case at LaPorte City Hall

(LaPorte, IN) - A La Porte City Hall employee recently tested positive for COVID-19, according to Mayor Tom Dermody.

 

“This news is a sobering reminder to all of us that the coronavirus situation is far from over,” Dermody said. “We are keeping this individual in our thoughts and prayers during this time, and we will continue taking every precaution to ensure the safety of our employees and residents as the pandemic maintains its hold in the United States.”

 

City Hall was closed to all employees on Tuesday to allow for deep cleaning. Though the CDC recommends that only those displaying symptoms be tested, Dermody said employees in both direct and indirect contact with this individual were sent for testing out of an abundance of caution. He said the City will continue to provide quality service as employees work from home.

“We have gone above and beyond what is recommended to help ensure the safety of our employees and believe there is no risk to the public at this time,” Dermody said. “Still, we must make safety a top priority as we continue to monitor the virus. Our team will continue to provide excellent service to residents through phone and email, and we will reopen City Hall when we feel it is safe to do so.”

 

City Hall has been open exclusively by phone and email since March. To protect both employees and residents, Dermody said City Hall will remain closed to the public until July 5.

Man with Knife Arrested at Motel

(Michigan City, IN) - A man allegedly with a knife was arrested at a Michigan City area motel.

34-year-old Javier Noyola of LaPorte is charged with intimidation. According to county police, officers about 5:30 a.m. on Monday were called to Dunes Inn in the area of U.S 421 and Interstate 94.

 

The caller reported Noyola had a knife and was trying to kick in a motel room door. Police say he was taken into custody at the scene. The knife with a 12-inch long serrated blade was confiscated.

Noyola was being held on a $15,000 bond.

 

He could face anywhere from one to six years on the level 5 felony charge.

Car a Weapon in Attempted Murder Case

(LaPorte, IN) - A man allegedly struck his ex-girlfriend with his car multiple times in LaPorte over the weekend.

 

Miguel Contreras is charged with attempted murder. According to police, Contreras Sunday evening was working the register at Dollar General on J St. His ex-girlfriend approached to pay for her items when Contreras became irate.

 

She fled the store and was on foot across the street when Contreras allegedly hit her with his car in reverse more than once. She wound up being dragged across the pavement and pinned against a concrete wall.

 

Police say Contreras then crashed his car into a tree on E St. The woman had a large amount of skin taken off her legs along with extensive bruising and swelling, police said.

 

Police say the investigation shows they have a child together but hadn’t seen each other in close to a year.

 

Contreras could face anywhere from 20 to 40 years on the charge filed in LaPorte Circuit Court before Judge Tom Alevizos.

Two People Shot at MC Lakefront

(Michigan City, IN) - On Sunday, May 24th, 2020, at approximately 10:00 P.M., officers from the Michigan City Police Department responded to the area of Washington Park Lot 1, for a report of shots fired.  Upon arrival, officers located a 17-year-old male subject that was shot during this incident.  His injuries were non-life-threatening, and he was treated and released.  A short time later, officers were dispatched to Franciscan Hospital in reference to a second gunshot victim that was brought to the emergency room. 

 

The 25-year-old female victim sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was also treated and released.   Additionally, two vehicles sustained damage as a result of this incident.  Michigan City Police Chief Dion Campbell states “What happened this weekend at Washington Park is unacceptable and threatens the feelings of safety and security that all Michigan City citizens and visitors should enjoy.

 

These actions will not be tolerated, and we will hold accountable all individuals who disrupt the peace we expect as residents.  We will be actively engaging the local leaders and canvassing the neighborhoods to solicit the help of the community to resolve these issues.” The police department would ask anyone with information related to this incident to contact the lead investigator on this case, Detective Arwen LaMotte at 219-874-3221 Ext: 1081. 

 

We would also like to remind the public that you can contact us via Facebook Messenger or through our crime tip hotline number of 219873-1488.  You can always request to remain anonymous.atening, and he was treated and released.  A short time later, officers

A Stretch of U.S 12 Being Downsized

(New Buffalo, MI) - Work has started on reducing a stretch of U.S 12 in and outside New Buffalo to one lane in each direction to make travel safer.  

 

The highway is being narrowed to two lanes with a turning lane in the middle from Mayhew St. in New Buffalo to the Indiana state line.  The lane reduction is part of a $2.3 million resurfacing of the highway to be done in 2021, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

MDOT officials said U.S 12 will remain a four-lane highway from Mayhew Street to Wilson Street before resuming to one lane in each direction to Red Arrow Highway. 

 

According to MDOT, the redesign should reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes by more than one-half by causing drivers to slow down and having a separate lane for turning.

47 of the 157 motor vehicle crashes on that stretch of U.S 12 from 2014 to 2018 were rear-end collisions, MDOT officials said. 

 

MDOT spokesman Jon Sytsma said new asphalt will be laid over the existing pavement so existing shoulders will be wider and safer for traveling on foot and bicycles.

Flowers Going Into Downtown Planters

(LaPorte, IN) - The planters in downtown LaPorte are getting ready for the season.  A local florist called Perennials Galore is paid annually by the city’s Business Improvement District to plant and maintain 130 planters.

 

Bill Campbell is the owner of the business. He was in the area of Lincolnway and Clay St. with an army of his workers.  Campbell said sunflowers are among the new species of plants going

into the soil this year. Another crew was out sandblasting the brick planters to give them a

good shine for the season.

Neighborhood Draws Huge Police Response

(LaPorte, IN) - More than a dozen of police officers responded to a neighborhood in the city of LaPorte over the weekend.  There were reports of gunfire, but the noise could have been

from the use of fireworks.

 

Darrin Charlson lives at Jefferson and Clay Streets.  He says there were two men involved in some sort of dispute Sunday night then police with guns drawn came rushing in. “There were a bunch of people here,” Charlson said.

 

At one point, he estimated as many as 50 to 60 people were outside where the incident happened.

 

He says police were there for about one hour. So far, police have not provided further details.

Charges in Schoop's Burglary

(Michigan City, IN) - A Rolling Prairie man is charged with breaking into a fast food restaurant and stealing a safe. 27-year-old Kyle Reese allegedly broke into Schoop’s Hamburgers in Michigan City last week.

 

Officers responding to an alarm located Reese on foot near U.S 20. Police say the tried fleeing but was caught. According to police, the missing safe was located in some bushes outside Starbucks.

Reese could face anywhere from one to six years if convicted of the level 5 felony charge.

Governor Orders Spending Cuts

(Indianapolis, IN) - The state is going to drastically cut spending because of revenue declines caused by COVID-19. Governor Holcomb has ordered a 15 percent cut in spending beginning July 1.

 

According to early estimates, the state could see at least a three billion dollar reduction in general fund revenues over the next 14 months.

Resuming Hospital Construction Pushed Back

(LaPorte, IN) – Resuming the construction of the new LaPorte Hospital has been pushed back. The project was suspended a week ago when several workers, at the construction site, tested positive for COVID-19.

 

Originally, the work was supposed to resume today. The start-up date has moved to June 1st.

Joe Forsthoffer is with the general contractor Robins and Morton. He says the Memorial Day holiday posed some challenges getting a professional cleaning crew in there and testing all of the workers.

 

Forsthoffer said the site will be disinfected today and tomorrow. Last week, 10 workers had tested positive. Forsthoffer says there have been some more positives but he’s not sure yet how many more workers have tested positive.

Fairgrounds Food Fest Surprises Organizers

(LaPorte) - The fair food drive-through out at the LaPorte County fairgrounds this weekend was a bigger hit than organizers expected.

 

Starting Saturday, vendors of greasy goodness lined the midway dishing out fair favorites to customers as they drove by.  Organizer Steve Mrozinski says the idea came about after talking to other county fair leaders across the state. "Everyone kind of brainstormed, and we all kind of came up with the same idea," Mrozinski says. "People are probably getting tired of different other foods, so we thought we'd give them a taste of something new." 

 

Fried deserts, elephant ears, ribeye sandwiches, burgers, turkey legs, ice cream, and Mexican food rounded out the menu. With festivals and fairs mostly canceled this spring, seven area vendors were relieved to be back in business for a solid weekend. And this weekend business was good.

 

Vendors said a steady stream of customers passed through from open to close. At one point on Saturday, a line of cars stretched out of the fairgrounds, out to State Road 2, and down to the National Guard Armory. Fair Manager Don Stoner estimates about three thousand cars pulled through on Saturday and Sunday, which far exceeded expectations. "We had no idea what it was going to be," Stoner admits. "It just proves that everybody wants to get out and do something."

EMS Awards

(LaPorte) - LaPorte County’s Emergency Management Services (EMS) have handed out their biggest award to a couple of first responders.

 

The Steven R. Hoskins Award is given every year to outstanding EMS workers in LaPorte. Steve Hoskins was a LaPorte paramedic and EMS administrator who died in a motorcycle accident while riding to work in 1988.

 

This year’s recipients are EMT Melany Erne and paramedic and field training officer Nebraska Draughter. The awards coincided with the conclusion of National EMS Week

4-H Changes Course

(LaPorte) - A summer tradition for over a thousand area 4-Hers is going to be drastically different this year.  LaPorte County Purdue Extension leaders have announced their plans for conducting a greatly modified 4-H exhibition.

 

4-H projects will be exhibited, but not at the county fair. According to a letter sent out to 4-H members late last week, projects will be shown either online or at a public viewing in the fall.

The letter stated that 60% of 4-H volunteers are considered “at-risk,” suggesting a lack of man-power may have contributed to the decision.

 

Further details will be released to 4-H members as alternate plans come together.

Memorial Day Could Be a "Dud" in New Buffalo

(New Buffalo, MI) - There might not be the same buzz in New Buffalo for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. Some boats are in the water, but many are not. A lot of flooded slips from a record high Lake Michigan and COVID-19 restrictions just recently being lifted in the state have quite a few boats still in storage.

 

There’s also no dine-in service yet in the restaurants and bars. Bob Stratton, owner of Service 1 Marine, said he doesn’t expect as many people to be out in their usual large numbers because of the perfect storm of negative factors at play. The use of vacation rentals is also still prohibited due to COVID-19 restrictions in that state.

Local COVID-19 Cases Ticking Up

(Indianapolis, IN) - According to state health officials, LaPorte County is up to 376 confirmed COVID-19 cases. 

 

 

There have been 20 deaths. According to state officials, more than 70 percent of the cases are from Westville Prison. Officials say 177 inmates and 101 staff members there have tested positive.

No Lifeguards This Weekend. Maybe Longer

(Michigan City, IN) - There will be no lifeguards at the public beach in Michigan City this Memorial Day weekend.

Lifeguards returning to the Lake Michigan shoreline at Washington Park for the rest of the summer is also not guaranteed.

The decision to pull lifeguards was made by mayor Duane Parry who’s imposed restrictions on spending to try and eliminate a $3.6 million budget deficit inherited from the previous administration.

Parry is also looking to keep the red ink from deepening given the uncertainty about the impact COVID-19 might have on existing revenue streams.

The city has already lost about $1 million a month in revenue from Blue Chip since the shutdown on casinos statewide went into effect in mid-March to help limit the spread of the virus.

Some people might not be able to pay their property taxes from job losses caused by the gradually loosening restrictions.

Parry said supplying lifeguards on the beach during the summer costs well over $100,000.

To his knowledge, Parry said no other public beach on Lake Michigan in northwest Indiana has lifeguards and believes police officers already working the shoreline can help fill the role.

He also believes having the U.S Coast Guard station and Indiana Department of Natural Resources office nearby for responding to water emergencies helps fill the protection gap.

No lifeguards have been hired but some could be as he considers what to do for the rest of the season.

“It’s not a cast in stone decision.  It’s something we’re going to take a look at,” Parry said.

Several city council members at a May 19 budget workshop told the mayor they are opposed to not having lifeguards at the beach, fearing loss of life and being sued for negligence.

Parry said swim at your own risk signs have been posted at the beach

BMV Administrative Fees to Resume July 1

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) announced today administrative penalty fees will resume July 1. All Hoosiers with expired driver’s licenses, permits, state identification cards, and vehicle registrations need to complete renewal transactions before July 1 to avoid paying an administrative penalty fee. Title transactions and new vehicle registration must also be completed before July 1.

 

Administrative fees have been waived since March 16 to assist the needs of Hoosiers who were not able to utilize in-branch services due to the public health emergency created by novel Coronavirus, COVID-19. During this time, online credit card transaction fees were also waived. Those fees will resume on July 1. Online transactions paid by electronic check, using checking account and routing numbers, do not incur a fee.       

                                             

It is critical Hoosiers whose renewal deadline has passed or is upcoming, who need to complete a title transfer or register a new vehicle, schedule an appointment with the BMV to complete their transaction prior to the June 30, 2020 deadline. Hoosiers can schedule an appointment here: https://secure.in.gov/apps/waittimes/Schedule/Welcome.aspx.

 

The Indiana BMV continues to encourage Hoosiers to complete transactions online whenever possible. Hoosiers may also visit a BMV Connect kiosk, call the contact center, or return renewal through USPS using preprinted forms. You can read a full list of modifications, closures, and available services on this page: https://www.in.gov/bmv/4363.htm

Early Poll Voting About to Begin

(LaPorte, IN) - Early voting in LaPorte County starts next week. According to the county clerk’s office, people can vote early at polls in the county complex in downtown LaPorte and the county offices in Michigan City at 302 W 8th street.

 

Early voting at those locations is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. Early voting is open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday May 30th and Monday June 1st from 8 a.m. to noon.

New Dog Park Opens

(Valparaiso, IN) - A slice of heaven judging by the reaction of dogs and their owners has opened in Valparaiso. A dog park called “ValPAWraiso” at 2902 Campbell St. began welcoming members Thursday to the lush 3.6 acre site.

 

The entrance featuring an old fashioned brick archway leads to separate fenced in areas for dogs over and under 30 pounds. Each section has a shelter containing two picnic tables and a trash can along with stations containing dog waste baggies.

 

Also featured are fire hydrants not hooked to water for effect. “It’s amazing,” said Kate Hitchcock who came with her 14-year old daughter, Haley, and  their Australian shepherd, “Poppy.” They roamed the grounds also featuring about 20 mature trees with Nathanael and Maddie Juliot and their mixed dog, “Ginny.”  All of them are from apartment complexes in Valparaiso without yards for pets to stretch their legs. “Lots of space to run,” Mr. Juliot said. 

 

The $380,000 cost of the dog park was paid for with public and private dollars, said John Seibert, director of the Valparaiso Parks and Recreation Department.

The dog park is open from 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. except on Tuesday when it’s closed for maintenance.  

 

It’s available to members only. Memberships are $20 annually for residents and $35 for non-residents. The fees are used to help pay for keeping up the grounds. Lorraine Hattabaugh brought her four children, ages 8 to 13, along with their two dogs. They have plenty of outdoor space but like giving their pets a chance to be with other dogs, not just the goats, chickens and other farm animals on their property just outside Valparaiso.

 

The Hattabaugh’s have been driving to the dog park in Portage until now. “It’s really big.  There’s lots of room to run around,” said her son, Shane. Dan McGuire, director of facilities at the park department, said a bathroom facility and paw washing station are among the new features planned for mid to late summer.

 

Also planned later are pieces of equipment like tunnels and poles for dogs to run through and jump over. McGuire said an official grand opening ceremony will also occur at some point once all of the landscaping has been finished and it’s considered safe again for large gatherings.

About 30 people used the park within five hours after the gates opened.

“It’s going smoothly,” McGuire said.

 

County Buildings to Start Reopening

(LaPorte, IN) - LaPorte County government buildings will gradually reopen to the public. For two weeks starting June 1st, the public will be allowed inside for essential business only and county employees working from home will start returning, officials said. Then, on June 15th, people can come for any reason but they’ll be screened.

 

The screening procedures will include having temperatures taken under the facility reopening plan approved Wednesday by the LaPorte County Commissioners.

LaPorte PD Shoring Up Sagging Manpower

(LaPorte, IN) - Police departments in LaPorte and across the nation continue to have problems attracting new officers. Interest in becoming a law enforcement officer could be on the rise again, though. LaPorte Police Paul Brettin says there are indications difficulty with manpower could be easing up judging by recent trends. Seven new officers undergoing training and just starting their training are on their way here in the coming weeks.

 

Authorities say police officers under more scrutiny in recent years is a factor in young people choosing other career paths. Normally, Brettin said the police department has had 44 officers but that number in recent years has dipped into the '30s.

 

Field of Dreams Like Experience for Seniors

(Union Mills, IN) - Some local high school seniors took the COVID-19 lemons and made lemonade last night.  This year’s graduating class at South Central had a parade then gathered in the high school parking lot for an extended period of time.  Family and friends of the graduates were also there.  An estimated 500 cars turned out.

 

Mike Kellems of LaPorte was there taking pictures from the top of the bleachers at the football field of the Satellites. He says it looked just like all of the cars with their headlights on heading to the baseball diamond in the middle of a cornfield in the movie “Field of Dreams.” South Central high school principal Ben Anderson came up with the idea and much of the response stemmed from an invitation he posted on social media.

COVID-19 Relief Secured for Local Small Businesses

(LaPorte, IN) - COVID-19 relief for small businesses locally is on the way.  LaPorte County government has landed a $250,000 state grant. Tony Rodriquez, executive director for the LaPorte County Office of Economic and Community Development, said various county departments worked to obtain the grant from the Indiana Office of Community & Rural Affairs.

 

Rodriguez said the money is for businesses in the unincorporated areas of LaPorte County.

LaPorte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora said the goal is to give $10,000 to as many as 25 small businesses. Officials hope to receive those dollars from downstate in the very near future

given the urgent need brought on by the virus.

Fire Drill at Fire Damaged House

(LaPorte, IN) - LaPorte firefighters were taking part in a practice drill again today. It was at a house heavily damaged by fire earlier this year. Firefighters were keeping their skills sharp on running a water hose to a house and inside it as well.

 

Assistant Chief Kelly Burke says hoses being stretched to a fire can get caught on objects so staying sharp on the running the lines can save time and seconds count in a fire. The house is on State St. near J Street. 

 

The owner is allowing it to be used for practice, Before it’s torn down. Firefighters conducted a similar practice drill there on Monday.

COVID-19 Stops LaPorte Hospital Construction

(LaPorte, IN) - Construction of the new LaPorte Hospital has been suspended due to workers contracting COVID-19.

 

Joe Forsthoffer, director of corporate communications for the general contractor Robins & Morton based in Birmingham, Alabama, said the project was shut down Tuesday night when test results came back positive on four workers exhibiting symptoms.

 

He said six more workers also showing signs of being sick were later diagnosed with the virus.

“This is an evolving thing so that number may go up a little yet,” he said.  Work is scheduled to resume on May 26 but the restart date could be pushed back depending on how the situation with the virus unfolds.

 

In the meantime, Forsthoffer said the work site will be professionally disinfected to guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and the Occupational Health & Safety Administration.                                                                                                                                 

 

Forsthoffer said the remaining 180 or so workers at the site are encouraged to be screened for COVID-19 or self-quarantine for 14 days. “We have offered to screen and test anyone who has been working on the construction project and that process is underway,” hospital officials said.

He said no worker will be allowed to return to the job unless they’re given medical clearance by a doctor. “We’ll be able to assure everybody coming back has been in one way or another screened,” Forsthoffer said.

 

Forsthoffer said extensive safety precautions were taken at the construction site prior to the workers becoming sick. The practices included enhanced disinfecting, limits on the number of workers in tight areas, and meetings held outdoors and online.

 

Work on the $125 million hospital at State and Tyler streets across from the existing hospital started in September of 2018 and is scheduled for completion sometime late this summer or fall. “The project is still on schedule.  We don’t anticipate this being a significant impact on the completion date,” Forsthoffer said. 

 

LaPorte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora, who has a medical practice in Michigan City, said the infections point to a need for the public not to let their guards down as restrictions loosen for reopening the state’s economy. Kora said wearing masks and social distancing are among the practices that should continue to be followed. “I want everybody to understand this is not behind us yet,” he said.

Alleged Killer Claims Son Lunged at Him

(LaPorte, IN) - A LaPorte County man is accused of fatally shooting his son. Jason Wetzel is charged with murder. It happened three days ago at a home in the Wanatah area. According to court documents, 33-year-old Jeremiah Wetzel was shot in the stomach and back.

 

Authorities say Wetzel claimed there was an altercation between himself and his son after they had been drinking for much of the day. Wetzel told police he had his finger on the trigger when his son lunged at him. However, according to court documents, the autopsy found no evidence of

a struggle. 

 

The autopsy also revealed the shots were fired at a distance greater than two feet. Wetzel was being held in the LaPorte County Jail on a $1,000,000 bond.

Father Charged in Son's Murder

The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office has announced the arrest of Jason I. Wetzel (58) of Wantah, for the murder of his son.  Jason is the biological father of Jeremiah J. Wetzel, the shooting victim.  On Monday night (05/18/20), a shooting occurred at the Wetzel residence located in the 8200 west block of CR 1500 South, in rural Cass Township.  Since then, detectives from the Criminal Investigations Division have tirelessly investigated the circumstances surrounding the shooting.   

 

This morning (05/20/20), an autopsy occurred at Franciscan Health, Michigan City campus.  The death of Jeremiah was ruled a homicide.   

 

Later in the day, detectives presented probable cause to La Porte County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Julianne Havens and later to La Porte County Circuit Court from the findings of their investigation.  As a result, an arrest warrant was issued for Jason Wetzel for the offense of Murder.  The warrant was served to him shortly thereafter in the La Porte County Jail (LCJ) where he was already being held. 

 

Jason Wetzel remains housed in the LCJ and is being held on a $1,000,000.00 cash-only bond through Circuit Court. 

 

Arrests and criminal charges are mere accusations.  Every person is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law

Another COVID-19 Scare at Factory

(Hammond, IN) - They were back to work for just a few days when told during their shift Wednesday morning to go home because of another COVID-19 infection at the plant in Hammond.

 

            That’s according to employees at Lear Corp., a maker of automobile seats for the Ford Motor Co. assembly plant across the state line in the Hegewisch neighborhood of Chicago.

            Lear workers called back Sunday reported safety precautions like testing and taking the temperature of employees coming into the plant was in place but felt not enough was being done to ease their concerns.

 

            “I can literally touch your shoulder by not even extending my arm and that’s how close I am to you in that place,” said an assembly line worker asking to remain anonymous.

            Another worker not wanting to be identified said remaining six feet apart from each other as instructed by the company is possible only in some areas of the 240,000 square foot plant at 2204 Michigan St.

 

            “They tell us to social distance but that’s hard to do.  We’re all on top of each other on the lines,” the worker said. Lear when reached on Wednesday did not immediately respond.

            But, according to the United Auto Workers Local 2335, the company planned to resume operations Wednesday for the night shift after the plant was disinfected by a Centers for Disease Control approved contractor. Initially, the plant employing 875 workers currently on the clock for two 12-hours shifts closed March 17 for a deep cleaning after the company reported a worker turned up positive for the virus.

 

The shutdown was extended, though, when Lear revealed a second COVID-19 infection.

According to day shift workers, they were told about 9 a.m. to go home again until further notice because of a case of COVID-19.

 

            Workers expressed concern about the new safety protocols at the 240,000 square foot plant were not as strict as they should be or enforced consistently.

            Masks, for example, were not being worn by everyone at the plant and employees, instead of cleaning professionals, we're expected to do some of the sanitizing for the next shift, the workers said.

 

            Workers said the inside of the plant was also being fogged but with many people touching even the smallest parts moving through the plant they wondered if any method is guaranteed to keep them safe.  “I’m not saying close for the rest of the time being but until they get it under control someway, somehow,” a worker said.

 

No Lifeguards in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - There will be no lifeguards at the beach in Michigan City during Memorial Day weekend. Mayor Duane Parry says he made the decision as part of the effort to eliminate a $3.6 million budget deficit he inherited from the previous administration and in response to potential revenue losses from COVID-19.

 

His decision brought considerable opposition from members of the city council like Don Pryzbylinski who feels the city could open itself up to liability in the event of a drowning.

Swim at your own risk signs are now up at the beach.

 

Parry said police officers already patrolling the beach can help fill the void and so can the nearby U.S Guard station and Indiana Department of Natural Resources office. Parry said he has not decided yet whether to return lifeguards to the beach for the remainder of the summer.

He says it costs well over $100,000 to supply lifeguards throughout the season.

Clear Lake Condos Going Up Soon

(LaPorte, IN) - Construction of 200 lakefront condominiums beside Clear Lake in LaPorte is about to start.  The resort-type living units are scheduled to begin going up in early July after the city agreed to contribute about $6 million toward the $35 million development.

 

 

           Flaherty & Collins Properties out of Indianapolis with similar developments at over 100 locations nationwide has been working on the project with the city since 2017, said Bert Cook, executive director of the LaPorte Economic Advancement Partnership.

 

            “This is continuing down the timeline and checking off the boxes that we need to see this project to fruition,” Cook said. The monetary contribution from the city will be financed with a 25-year bond issue to be retired with tax dollars generated from increases in the assessed valuation of the property caused by the development.  No money from any existing revenue stream is being used to supplement the cost, said LaPorte Mayor Tom Dermody.

 

            “The only way you’re going to generate interest is if there’s some type of incentive and it’s self-generating interest,” Dermody said.  The housing units will feature things like granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, an outdoor courtyard with a swimming pool, fitness center, bicycle storage and fire pit.

 

            Rent for the one and two-bedroom units will range from $900 to $1,500 a month.

            Completion is expected in 18 months.

            The development is part of NewPorte Landing, a 50-acre site once home to Allis Chalmers which closed its farm machinery plant there in the 1980’s.

 

            A $4 million environmental remediation of the site ongoing for several months should be finished before the scheduled groundbreaking.

            The high-end housing is viewed as a major catalyst to further development of the brownfield now featuring Dunes Volleyball Club, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, and a nearly finished medical office building.

 

            Officials also believe the units will bring noticeable growth to the nearby downtown by drawing a lot of young professionals and empty-nesters with disposal income from outside the city.

            A trail and other recreational opportunities have gone up around Clear Lake in recent years to make the area even more attractive.

“We’re excited and ready to move forward,” Dermody

Change in Leadership at LaPorte School Corporation

(LaPorte, IN) - There’s been a change in leadership in the LaPorte School Corporation. Assistant Superintendent Steve Mannering has retired after more than 40-years of service here.

Replacing him is Ben Tonagel, a LaPorte native and former Slicers basketball star.  Tonagel was principal at LaPorte High School  The decision was made last night by the school board.  

Prison Time Reduced for Former Officer

(Indianapolis, IN) - A former Michigan City Police officer has had his prison sentence reduced.

In 2018, Thomas Jackson was given a 36-year sentence for having a sexual relationship with a mentally challenged woman in the Westville area.

 

The Indiana Supreme Court yesterday took nine years off that sentence. The high court ruled the sentence was too extreme for someone without a prior criminal history who is a low risk

to re-offend. 

 

Jackson was a police officer for 27-years. According to authorities, her parents allowed their daughter to be with Jackson who told them he was taking her out for ice cream and other activities. They were alone in Jackson’s van when confronted by a Westville officer at Prairie Meadow Park.

Contested Race for LaPorte County Treasurer

(LaPorte, IN) - The democratic nomination in the June 2 primary for LaPorte County Treasurer could be decided on experience. Joie Winski and Ron Hamilton, Jr., both of Michigan City, are running for the seat Lynne Spevak is forced to vacate because of a two-term limit.

 

Joie Winski

                                      Joie Winski                                                 Ron Hamilton, Jr.

 

Spevak, a Democrat, is unopposed in the primary for LaPorte County Auditor. Winski is the current LaPorte County Auditor also limited to two-terms in office. Hamilton, self-employed in real estate, served two-terms on the Michigan City Common Council until 2019.

 

“I think the biggest issue in this election is experience. I think my record speaks for itself,” Winski said. Winski said she brought vast improvement to the once disorganized auditor’s office racked by corruption and played a role in turning deficit spending by county government into a $12.2 million general fund surplus at the end of 2019. Winski said one of her first accomplishments once becoming auditor was finding where $152,000 in funds taken by the former chief deputy auditor Mary Ray was spent and collecting a refund of those dollars from the county’s insurance policy.

 

Ray was later given a seven-year federal prison sentence for embezzling the money and over than $400,000 belonging to her father in law to gamble at casinos.

 

Winski said her leadership was also a factor in property tax bills returning to a normal schedule after years of delay brought on by a botched countywide reassessment. She also said one of her goals is keeping the auditor, treasurer, and assessor working well together to continue making decisions about spending easier for the LaPorte County Council which controls the purse strings.

 

“Our county is in great shape and I want to keep it that way,” she said. Winski also touted her experience on the Michigan City Common Council from 1996 to 2004 and other local governing bodies like the Michigan City Redevelopment Commission and the LaPorte County Property Tax Board of Appeals.

 

Hamilton said experience, though, can bring stagnation on how a modern government should be functioning. “We’re getting a lot of the same people that have been running for office for a long time and I’m hoping to bring in a fresh face with fresh ideas,” he said.

 

Hamilton said he has a good handle on government finance from his years on the city council, running a business, and earning a degree in business management from Purdue University.

 He said he also understands the duties of the county treasurer’s office which collect and invests tax dollars.

 

Hamilton said one of his goals would be finding ways to receive a greater return on the investments the Treasurer’s Office is now making. “I would want to sit down and actually go through the numbers for the different CD’s and the different banks to see what we can do,” he said.

 

Hamilton said he also wants to shorten the amount of time it takes to get information from various departments in county government to local municipalities requesting it.

Suspect Held in Fatal Shooting

(Wanatah, IN) - There was a fatal shooting in the Wanatah area last night. According to county police, a suspect is in custody. 33-year old Jeremiah Wetzel was found dead inside a home

In the 8200 block of W. 1500 South. So far, the name of the suspect and other details are not being released.

Mill Pond Festival Cancelled by COVID-19

(Union Mills, IN) - Another major event locally has been canceled due to COVID-19. The annual Mill Pond Festival will not occur this year. According to organizers, the decision to cancel the festival in Union Mills was not an easy one but they felt it would be too difficult to manage the event this year given all of the social distancing and other requirements that would need to be followed to keep everyone safe. Organizers say vendors who’ve already paid for a spot in the festival will receive a refund.

It's "Foodie Tuesday" in LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - You can enjoy the lakefront and have a bite to eat at the same time today.

It’s "Foodie Tuesday" in LaPorte. A food truck will be at Unity Park at Pine Lake from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 

 

Parks superintendent Mark Schreiber says this is the third year for the event held once a week during the warm weather months. Schreiber said the truck was brought here to introduce the public to the idea of eating and enjoying the shore at the park created in 2016.

LaPorte County Up To 360 Positive Coronavirus Cases

(Indianapolis, IN) - LaPorte County now has 360 people testing positive for coronavirus. That's according to state health officials, who report 16 deaths in LaPorte County since the beginning of the outbreak. 

 

A vast majority of the cases here are from Westville prison. Prison officials say 177 offenders and 96 staff members have tested positive. 

Online Summer School Only

(LaPorte, IN) - There will be no traditional summer school in LaPorte this year.  Summer classes will be offered online, though. LaPorte Community Schools Superintendent Mark Francesconi says the decision is from school buildings statewide under the governor’s order remaining closed for

now until June 30.

 

He says child care will also not be offered during the summer due to the school building restrictions.

Local Nurse Would Answer COVID-19 Call Again

(LaPorte County, IN) - A Michigan City area woman saw a lot more suffering and death from COVID-19 than she expected during her six weeks as a nurse at a New York City hospital she described as just like a war zone.

 

Lynn Criggley, though, said she doesn’t regret her decision and would go back if given the opportunity. “I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world,” she said.

Initially, Lynn Criggley said stress levels and other emotions were off the charts as doctors struggled to learn how to treat the new virus and patients on ventilators doubled normal room capacity.

 

She was assigned to Bellevue Hospital Center working dialysis for patients whose kidneys were shutting down from advanced stages of the virus. Criggley said she went to New York City to make a difference but often felt helpless from so many patients not responding to treatment or taking a sudden turn for the worst. “We didn’t know what we were walking into.  The beds were lined up one next to another,” she said.  Criggley, a full-time registered nurse for Dunes Hospice out of Valparaiso, answered a call for help with a manpower shortage while the virus was peaking in the city of eight million people. She worked 21 straight 12 hour shifts before receiving two days off and later worked 80 hours for two consecutive weeks before returning to her Coolspring Township home on May 9. 

 

Criggley said she appreciated the applause from firefighters and citizens outside the hospital when she and others in her group completed their shifts but it didn’t erase the discouragement especially during the first couple of weeks. “All we could do was get on the bus and cry because we knew what was going on behind those doors,” Criggley said.

 

Eventually, Criggley said morale improved as doctors got a better handle on treatment and the number of deaths and new patients began improving. “Hallelujah, the curve out there is starting to flatten.  The success stories are getting better and we’re seeing more people leave the hospital than we ever thought would be possible,” she said.

 

Criggley said she could have signed on for another three weeks of duty, but felt she had served her purpose. 

She managed to stay COVID-19 free and is self-quarantining for two weeks as a precaution. Criggley said she was also surprised very few of her patients were elderly. Most of them were males ages 35 to 60. 

 

“The stories that you hear about the refrigerated trucks and the makeshift morgues and all of that it’s all very true.  It’s all very true,” she said. Her advice to the public even in not so densely populated areas is not to take coronavirus lightly. “I understand that people need to get out and I understand they need human interaction but be smart people.  Masks and keep your social distancing.  It’s absolutely not like the flu,” Criggley said.

Food Distribution Wednesday in LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - The Food Bank of Northern Indiana is returning to LaPorte.  Food will be distributed at LaPorte High School on Wednesday. It will occur from 10 a.m. to noon in the F street parking lot. 

 

People are asked to reveal how many people are in their family so volunteers know how much food to give to each household. The same group was at the high school giving out food last week.

Mayor Supports Decision to Delay Parade

(LaPorte, IN) - LaPorte mayor Tom Dermody is standing behind the decision not to have a parade on the fourth of July.  The LaPorte Jaycees has moved the parade it hosts annually to September as part of the Sunflower Fair.   Due to COVID-19, Dermody says it was extremely hard to find people willing right now to participate in the parade and offset the cost of the parade and other July 4 events. The Jaycees said they also felt it was best to push back the parade as a precaution to avoid potentially spreading the virus from such large crowds that typically line the route.

Huge Turnout for Waste Disposal

(LaPorte, IN) - A possible record number of people disposed of their household hazardous waste, old tires, appliances, and other items at the LaPorte County fairgrounds over the weekend. The 5 in 1 collection day for the public is held annually in the spring and fall. Sacha Gee Burns of the LaPorte County Solid Waste District described the turnout Saturday as remarkable. “We’ve had our largest turnout in all of the years I’ve been here,” she said. Burns said about 1,200 vehicles had passed through by 12:30 p.m. when normally 1,000 or fewer vehicles turn out for the entire day.

Taco Giveaway a Huge Success

(LaPorte, IN) - Free tacos went faster than hotcakes in LaPorte last week. Burger Bar and Grill made the tacos given away Raymond Spence Insurance at Lincolnway and Tyler street.

Brent Raymond, co-owner of the insurance company, says well over 500 tacos were gone in less than 90 minutes.

 

People were given tacos while waiting in their vehicles. Raymond says the response from the public was so high they probably could have given out another 500 tacos had that many been available.

Former State Lawmaker Remembered

(LaPorte County, IN) - A former longtime state lawmaker from LaPorte County is being remembered.  Mary Kay Budak, who lived near Michigan City, died Wednesday. She was a state representative for 26 years. 

 

Her successor was current LaPorte mayor Tom Dermody, who described Budak as a “wonderful lady but a finer public servant.” Budak was 89. Her last year as a state representative was 2006.

Masses Open to the Masses... Gradually

(LaPorte) - Last week, Catholic churches in the diocese of Gary got their marching orders regarding the reopening of religious services, which mostly began yesterday.

In short, Sunday Masses are open to the faithful through the month of May by invitation only. The burning question is: who gets invited?

 

Fr. Ian Williams oversees three parishes in LaPorte. He says the answer is mostly strategic.

He says parishioners directly involved in liturgy, like ushers and Eucharistic ministers, were the first to participate this weekend. "The goal," he says, "is to get a core group of people in each parish that have experienced the Mass under these new guidelines, so we have folks who can help others as we open up further."

 

In the coming weeks, the next wave of invitees will be first communion children and their families, since they missed out on their special day during the shutdown. Adults who are just joining the Church will also get early admission.

 

Fr. Ian says once Stage 3 kicks in at the end of May, parishes will be better equipped to manage larger groups of worshippers on a regular basis. Each parish has been working to prepare its worship space for social distancing. Every other pew has been roped off, and X's have been marked with painter's tape six feet apart. Taking all the necessary precautions has been challenging enough, but the hardest part was finding supplies. "Let me tell you," Fr. Ian confessed, "getting my hands on the EPA-approved disinfectant was not the easiest thing in the world to do."

 

While the churches gradually expand their capacities during the coming weeks, Sunday services will still be streamed online in various formats.

Stop Signs to Stay Up for Now

(Michigan City, IN) The new stop signs in downtown Michigan City will stay at least for now.

Recently, some of the new stop signs were taken down in the area of Pine and Washington streets. Mayor Duane Parry supported the move feeling there were too many stop signs clogging traffic flow.

 

However, there have been complaints about an increase in speeding along with motor vehicle crashes and close calls. The board of public works decided to leave the rest of the stop signs up for 60 days to review the matter. The stop signs went in a few years when those streets were converted from one way to two way travel.

Bell Rings for Fallen Officers

(LaPorte, IN) - The 14 police officers killed in the line of duty in LaPorte County history went over the airwaves Friday in more ways than one.  The annual heavily attended ceremony hosted by the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office on National Peace Officers Memorial Day was canceled due to COVID-19.

 

However, the officers who paid the ultimate sacrifice were still honored by having their names announced on all major emergency radio frequencies used in the county.

Sheriff John Boyd said the reading by dispatcher Lisa Haferkamp lasting about 90 seconds began at 10:42 a.m. 10-42 in emergency radio code means “end of duty.”

“We wanted to make sure we didn’t allow the day to pass without recognizing them,” Boyd said.

In recent years, the ceremony featuring the presentation of colors, playing of taps, and a guest speaker from law enforcement has rotated between the LaPorte County Complex and the auditorium at the former Elston High School in Michigan City.

 

“Obviously, with the COVID-19 we simply could not do that,” Boyd said. Mike Kellems, a retired LaPorte County Police officer now working law enforcement for Purdue University Northwest, rang the bell at Bethany Lutheran Church to pay tribute to the fallen officers.

He pulled up and down on the rope fastened to the bell in the tower for two minutes at the church in LaPorte. “It’s an incredible honor to be able to do this,” Kellems said.

Pastor Dennis Meyer has been ringing the bell every Friday since March to honor the efforts of medical and emergency responders during the COVID-19 crisis. Meyer said adding the fallen officers to the cause was a perfect match. “Think of all of the people who’ve sacrificed their lives and families in some cases have suffered so much and we want to honor them,” he said.

Peace Officers Memorial Day was created by an act of Congress signed by President John F. Kennedy on October 1, 1962.

 

The 14 officers killed in LaPorte County  were:

Charles Silversides, Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad, July 12, 1909.

Joseph Zimmerman, Michigan City Police Department, May 3, 1921.

George Spencer, Michigan City Police Department, May 3, 1921.

William “Ray” Dixon, Indiana State Police, June 28, 1938.

Charles Glafcke, Michigan City Police Department, December 4, 1930.

Ephraim Reid, Long Beach Police Department, September 15, 1933.

Earle Platt, Long Beach Police Department, October 25, 1956.

Thomas Ciecka, LaPorte Police Department, September 5, 1962.

Lewis Phillips, Indiana State Police, April 16, 1975.

Harold Rice, Indiana Department of Corrections, December 29, 1976.

Neil Thompson, LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office, September 21, 1980.

Richard Lawrence, LaPorte Police Department, September 9, 1988.

Phillip Curry, Indiana Department of Corrections, December 13, 1994.

James Kautz, Long Beach Police Department, December 4, 1997.

Back Floater Pulled from Lake Michigan

(Long Beach, IN) - A man was safely pulled out of Lake Michigan yesterday afternoon. According to the U.S Coast Guard, the man was floating on his back about 300 yards from the shoreline at Long Beach. Despite wearing a t-shirt, pants, and shoes, petty officer Robert Besel said the man in his late 20’s or early 30’s did not appear in distress.

 

Besel says it appears the man may have been in the early stages of hypothermia with the water temperature about 56 degrees. He was turned over to paramedics. At the time, Besel said the lake was pretty calm but it was raining.  Besel says he wasn’t sure why the man was in the water or how he ended up so far from shore.

New Leadership at Rotary Club of LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - A local service club is under new leadership.  Former mayor Leigh Morris is president of the Rotary Club of LaPorte. Morris says a major focus of the group right now is

promoting leadership in local youth. Morris said one of the ways the group is doing that is the creation of a new “Emerging Leaders Scholarship Fund.”

 

The Rotary Club has been involved in many service projects locally over the years, including turning Craven Pond into a nature preserve about 20-years ago. Close to 50 people are members of the local branch of the organization.

LaPorte Nurse Home from COVID-19 Epicenter

(LaPorte, IN) - A nurse from LaPorte is back from the front lines of COVID-19 in New York City.

Lynn Criggley spent six weeks at a hospital in the Big Apple. Criggley says she felt like a medic in a war zone with the hospital she was at;  being at twice its normal capacity and many people in advanced stages of the illness of dying.

 

Criggley tended to COVID-19 patients on dialysis because of how the virus impacts the kidneys.

Eventually, she said the survival rate began increasing as hospital staff became more knowledgeable on how to treat the virus.  Criggley said she managed to stay COVID-19 free and is now at home under a 14-day quarantine as a precaution.

Birthday Party Shooting in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - You almost have to wonder now if Michigan City is becoming another Gary.

There’s been more gunfire and another person wounded. This time, it was on the city’s west side.

 

Police say a birthday party was going on Wednesday night at Pullman Field near Lighthouse Mall.

Gunfire like firecrackers on the fourth of July started going off. Police say a 35-year-old man was hit but his injuries were not life-threatening.

 

A 21-year-old man was also hurt. But, he was hit by a vehicle as people fled like it was a hornet’s nest.  So far, no arrests have been reported. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Michigan City Police.

Supermarket Targeted in Mall Comeback

(LaPorte, IN) - A supermarket is on the wish list for Maple Lane Mall in LaPorte.  Rural King plans to open a store there in March and renovate the entire mall so other stores come to the once-thriving shopping center.  Bert Cook, executive director of the LaPorte Economic Advancement

Partnership, said the city has made it known to Rural King a supermarket like a mall used to have is greatly desired to restore choice for consumers on the west side of the city.

 

Cook said he expects Rural King to start renovating the mostly empty mall in late summer or early fall. Rural King plans to open a store in the old Kmart section of the mall in March of 2021. One of the few businesses still at the mall, Dunham’s Sporting Goods, just Recently renewed its lease for five years, Cook said.

Gravity Drain a Savior from Lakes Flooding

(LaPorte, IN) - More rain today is not certainly going to help matters on the record high Lake Michigan where some homes have fallen over eroded bluffs and many more are threatened.

 

It’s a much different story in LaPorte.  The lakes here are not even close to flooding because of a gravity drain. The drain was put in over 20 years ago in response to record flooding in the ’90s especially on Pine Lake where many homes suffered damage.  Waste Water superintendent Jerry Jackson says the drain has been running almost non-stop many times the last four years because of above-average rainfall. Without the drain, Jackson said he no doubt water levels on the lakes here would be at least as high as they were a quarter-century ago. He says the gravity drain sends lake water to Travis Ditch which empties into the Kankakee River.

Arts in The Park Concerts Delayed by Virus

(LaPorte, IN) - A popular summer concert series in LaPorte has been pushed back.  Normally, Arts in the Park begins hosting musical performances in early June at Fox Park. Parks superintendent Mark Schreiber says the outdoor stage is closed until limits on crowd size open back up. He says concerts will start being held in July as long as things go according to the governor’s reopening strategy. 

 

Schreiber says it wouldn’t make sense to reopen the outdoor stage with crowd limits of 250 since the idea is for as many people as possible to come and enjoy the shows. The first Arts in the Park concert is scheduled on July 8.

Study Estimates 186,000 COVID-19 Infections Statewide

(Bloomington, IN) - A lot more Hoosiers have been infected with COVID-19 than what many people think. A recent study at Indiana University estimates 186,000 infections or just under three percent of the state’s population. According to I.U. officials, the estimates were based on random testing recently of 4,500 individuals across the state. The research also determined the actual death rate at just over one-half of one percent. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, slightly more than 25,000 people tested have turned up positive for COVID-19.

340 people have tested positive for the virus in LaPorte County with a vast majority of those from the Westville Correctional Facility.

Bracing for Possible Surge in Need

(LaPorte, IN) - Helping to pay rent and utility bills could skyrocket in the coming weeks. Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski says stimulus checks and larger Unemployment payments have helped keep requests for assistance down and so has the ban on utilities getting disconnected and eviction notices served. However, she says action on delinquent bills will resume again soon as some of the government financial aid starts running out.

 

Pierzakowski says her office is ready for a possible surge in requests for assistance.

She emphasized people expecting to need help start applying at her office for assistance now to avoid being disconnected and evicted.

Robbery Suspect Captured in Chase

(LaPorte, IN) - A robbery suspect is in custody following a high-speed chase from LaPorte County to Porter County.  The suspect is 25-year-old Jerry Valencia of Elkhart. Police say the robbery occurred Tuesday evening at Family Express at Johnson Road and U.S 35 in LaPorte. The chase went westbound on the Indiana Toll Road then southbound on U.S 421. The pursuit ended in Valparaiso. Valencia is charged with robbery and other counts and was being held In the LaPorte County Jail on $15,000 bond.

July 4th Parade in LaPorte Moved to September

(LaPorte, IN) - For the first time in 74-years, there will be no parade on the 4th  of July in LaPorte.

The LaPorte Jaycees, the longtime sponsor of Independence Day festivities in the city, revealed Wednesday the parade due to COVID-19 will be held in September.  The parade will be part of the annual Sunflower Fair as long as it’s safe than to go ahead with both major events.

The fireworks show and other related events like the Arts & Crafts Fair have been canceled this year and will not be rescheduled.

 

Ross Ratliff, chairman of the 4th of July activities for the LaPorte Jaycees, said the governor wants the state’s economy-wide open by July 4 but since over 50,000 people turn out for the parade and fireworks to show precaution was viewed as the most responsible choice.

“We just wanted to make sure we were making the right decision in terms of social distancing,” he said.

 

Ratliff said it was a tough call in a community declared by the governor as the state capital for a day on July 4 since 1942. “This decision wasn’t made lightly,” Ratliff said. The Sunflower Fair in the downtown is scheduled on September 19. Ratliff said it’s too early to say how much of the patriotic flavor of the parade will be retained or if features to reflect the beginning of autumn will be added has not been decided. The hope, though, is to still carry on with the long tradition of military jets flying over the city to start the parade.

 

He said the theme of the parade “2020. Our Vision.  Our Community.  LaPorte Proud” will be kept the same. “We definitely want to showcase that during this time,” Ratliff said.

           

COVID-19 Relief Measure Under Study

(Michigan City, IN) - The city council in Michigan City wants to study a proposal to give money to people needing help because of COVID-19 before taking action.  The city council Tuesday night scheduled a workshop for next week to further discuss the measure.  There are concerns about the city overextending itself since the impact of joblessness on property tax revenue is not known right now.

 

Nevertheless, city council president Sean Fitzpatrick says he supports the idea and commended city councilwoman Angie Nelson Deuitch for her proposals. One proposal would also make money available to small business owners from a revolving loan fund overseen by the city’s economic development corporation. The other proposal would take $750,000 from the city’s Promise Scholarship Fund to help people pay things like rent and utility bills. Officials said two thousand unemployment claims have been filed in Michigan City.

Upsurge Would Tighten Loosened Restrictions

(Michigan City, IN) - COVID-19 restrictions in Michigan City could tighten back up depending on the data. Mayor Duane Parry says the beach and all of Washington Park are open again but he’s keeping an eye on things like public response and infection rates in the coming days and weeks and will close the beach and park again if the numbers are not favorable. The city council Tuesday night voted to extend the mayor’s current loosened restrictions until the end of the month.

Food Giveaway Draws a Crowd

(LaPorte, IN) – A lot of people in need from COVID-19 showed up for a food giveaway in LaPorte today. The Food Bank of Northern Indiana brought 360 boxes of food to the parking lot of LaPorte High School.

 

More than 100 boxes were passed out in less than half an hour with more vehicles in line.

Terry Taylor, a volunteer driving the truck, said he and his U.S Army National Guard crew have been all over northern Indiana recently including the Civic Auditorium here last week. The boxes contain non-perishable foods. The truck was there from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

La Porte Jaycees Announces 4th of July Update

For 74 years, the Jaycees, an organiation comprised of all volunteers has hoted the premier family-friendly 4th of July Celebration that encompasses an arts and crafts festival, community fireworks, and the largest 4th of July parade in the state of Indiana. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jaycees regret to announce that the Arts and Crafts Fair and Fireworks Celebration will be cancelled and the iconic 4th of July Parade will be moved to a later date.

 

The decisision was not made lightly, and the 4th of July Celebration encompasses a committee of volunteers that have been working hard planning since November of last year. The Jaycees have remained in contact with government officials and have followed Governor Eric Holcomb's frequent updates very closely. The Jaycees have decided that the responsible decision would be made to cancel the Arts & Crafts Fair on June 27th, the Fireworks on July 3rd, and the 4th of july Parade will be rescheduled in conjunction with the Sunflower Fair in September. More details regarding the parade will be released within the next couple of weeks.

 

"The Jaycees consider the utmost importance of safety when planning our community events. While we regret that our events are changing due to COVID-19, we are excited to be in the works of rescheduling the parade to a later date in September. The Jaycees hope that our amazing community will come out and truly show that we are LA PORTE PROUD together," said Ross Ratliff, Jaycees 4th of July Chairperson. "A lot of planning goes into an event of this magnitude, essentially as soon as the prior year event is over. No one anticipated this, and our focus is on the community, but we want to do it responsibly. We are also excited to celebrate our 75th Annual 4th of July Celebration in 2021 with the community like we have in the past. There truly is nothing like July 4th in La Porte with the Jaycees!"

 

The fireworks and parade events bring over 50,000 people together along the parade route and within the fairgrounds respectively. In light of the uncertainty of mass gatherings due to COVIE-19, the tough decision was made to make changes to our future summer events. The 4th of July Celebration is the largest community fundraiser put on by the La Porte Jaycees. Monies raised go directly back into the community to help support the holiday shopping events for children in need, community grants to local organizations, and to support the community with events such as the Easter Egg Hunt each year. The La Porte Jaycees has been and always will be an organization dedicated to the community of La Porte, and they cannot wait to continue the tradition when it is safe to do so.

 

In addition to the Parade being rescheduled, the Jaycees Port-A-Pit Chicken sale on Saturday, June 27th is still scheduled beginning at 10:00 a.m. at the La Porte Farmer's Market. Details on all Jaycee evnt updates, along with how to purchase Port-A-Pit tickets will be posted on the Jaycees website and social media pages in the next week.

 

Please follow the Jaycees on social media or visit www.laportejaycees.org for more information. If payments or application have been submitted for any of upcoming Jaycee events, the Jaycees will be reaching out soon regarding options.

 

About the La Porte Jaycees: The La Porte Jaycees is a leadership development organization for young professionals ages 18-40. For over 70 years, this organization comprised of all volunteers, has been a staple to the La Porte Community. Iconic events such as the 4th of July Celebration, Deserving Children's Shopping Tour, and the Community Easter Egg Hunt are all put on by the La Porte Jaycees. The La Porte Jaycees is the official young professionals organization of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership (LEAP), and continues to be a premier organization in the field of leadership development and in service to the community of La Porte. To learn more about the Jaycees or to get involved, visit www.laportejaycees.org.

Local Investor Predicts Stock Market Drop

(LaPorte, IN) - A local expert on investing is expecting the stock market to go back down soon.

Tim Stabosz, a 30-year independent private investor, says the recovery in recent weeks to a certain degree has been artificial relying on things like government money pumped into the economy to keep from crashing.

He believes investors will pull back once the latest unemployment figures come out soon.

Stabosz said he does not believe the stock market will hit the lows in March when panic over COVID-19 first set in.

He also believes the stock market will fully recover long term at some point but feels it won’t happen this year.

Despite the recent Wall Street roller coaster ride, Stabosz said the stock market is still the best choice for investors seeking higher returns.

LPHS Names Valedictorian

(LaPorte, IN) - The valedictorian for the LaPorte High School class of 2020 has been named.

Officials say Kaylee Marvel plans to attend Valparaiso University and major in biochemistry.

She plans to go to medical school. Officials say the salutatorian is Tyson Nisley. He plans to science and wrestle at Wabash College.

Farmer's Market Opening on Schedule

(LaPorte, IN) - The farmer’s market in LaPorte will open for the season as scheduled. Officials say the farmer’s market opens on May 23rd.  It’ll be held every Saturday through October. Officials say social distancing will be practiced in ways like vendors lining up in a straight line on both sides of the market. Market managers will also limit the number of people to 50 at one time. Officials say all produce and goodwill be prepackaged and handed to people in a bag.

COVID-19 Relief Proposed from Scholarship Fund

(Michigan City, IN) - There’s a proposal to provide COVID-19 relief to struggling households in Michigan City. Under the measure, $750,000 would be taken from the city’s Promise Scholarship Fund used to provide qualifying families of Michigan City High School graduates $5,000 annually for college tuition.

 

The money taken from that fund would be used to help families pay things like rent and utility bills from hardship brought on by COVID-19. The proposal is from City Councilwoman Angie Nelson Deuitch who says there would still be over $3 million left for scholarships in the fund.

She said the most spent on scholarships in a single year is about $200,000 so there’s plenty in that fund for COVID-19 relief.

 

The proposal is scheduled to be presented for discussion at the city council meeting this evening.

Reopening Smacks Home Run at 3rd Base Bar & Grill

(LaPorte, IN) - The number of customers showing up for dine-in service is pretty good at one  LaPorte restaurant. At 3rd Base and Grill, owner Kent Johnson says yesterday was almost

like a regular Monday crowd. Johnson said they served just over 100 orders both dine-in and

take out yesterday.

 

Johnson said he was hesitant to offer dine-in service immediately after it was allowed by the state on Monday but he’s glad he did. He also said he was surprised at the turnout knowing a lot of people are still worried about COVID-19 but all of the necessary precautions

are being taken to keep everyone safe.

Record Barber Shop Turnout

(LaPorte, IN) - At least one barbershop in LaPorte is seeing a record turnout since haircutters in the state were allowed to reopen yesterday. Carter’s Barber’s Shop on Jefferson Ave. across from

 

City Hall served 83 people yesterday and there was a steady stream of customers today. Julie Wisser has owned her business for 18 years. She says she’s never had this many customers.

Wisser says several came Michigan because of barbershops in that state are still closed. 

 

Chris Kendall showed up for a haircut this morning and said he feels pretty safe because of the necessary precautions like masks being taken. Customers at Carter’s Barber Shop have to take a number then wait outside until there’s adequate room for them to come inside. Wilson’s Barbershop on Lincolnway is taking customers by appointment only and reports being booked through Saturday.

Maple Lane Mall Renewal Still Taking Shape

(LaPorte, IN) - It’s too early to say how many stores will be at Maple Lane Mall in LaPorte.

Rural King has announced plans to open a store there in March and renovate the entire structure and lease the unoccupied space for retail use. How many stores will depend on whether a major anchor store comes to the mall. There could be more of the smaller stores. Bert Cook, executive director of the LaPorte Economic Advancement Partnership, says a better idea of how many stores will be known in the coming months as site plans develop for the over 200,000 square foot mall. So far, Cook says Rural King has not received any commitments from retailers but is negotiating.

Father and Son Killed in Crash

(Michigan City, IN) - A father and son were killed in a motor vehicle crash in Michigan City this week. The victims were 47-year-old Douglas Sparks and 22-year-old Brandon Sparks.

Police say they were in a car that veered over the center line and collided with an oncoming pick-up truck. The driver of the truck, 27-year-old Anthony Banks, was not injured.

 

The late Sunday morning crash happened in the 58 hundred block of Franklin St. near the McDonald's. Police were still investigating why the victims’ car traveled left of center.

Mother's Day Behind Glass

(CHESTERTON, IN) – Flowers and other expressions of love were not in short supply on Mother’s Day at a senior living facility in Chesterton despite the separation of a lockdown from COVID-19.

            Despite the unusual, if not, painful circumstances the chance to visit through windows and other extreme forms of social distancing seemed appreciated at The Residences at Coffee Creek at 2300 Village Point off Indiana 49.

            “Never had a Mother’s Day that we visit through glass but it’s the way of the world right now so that’s what we’re dealing with,” said Tom Shapen of Valparaiso.

            He and his wife, Sue, and their son, Adam, visited his 91-year old mother, Juanita, and his 95-year old father, George.

            Juanita has been there for over a year while George just recently moved in to be with her while the facility is under lockdown because of the virus.

            Loved ones were kept in the vestibule and residents in the lobby behind the closed glass doors. 

            Others when the rain stopped were outside visiting through closed windows at the rooms of residents.

            Bill Dorulla of Valparaiso was there with a half dozen family members chatting with his 90-year old mother, Mary, who was given a phone to communicate because of the glass being thick.

            Mary seemed to light up when shown the dozen yellow roses they brought her and “Daisy,” the family’s two-year old Dachshund.

             Dorulla described the experience as “different” and “surreal” but necessary to keep everyone inside safe.

            “Hopefully, it’s something that’s going to pass. I don’t know how soon it’s going to happen but, hopefully, soon,” he said.

            Helen Ward of Chesterton along with her husband, J.D., and their daughter, Angela, stood outside the room of her 75-year old mother, Audrey Arnold.

            Audrey smiled a lot and returned their expressions of love that included blowing of kisses.

            “It’s heart wrenching that you can’t give her hugs.  I’m a hugger but I know she’s safe and that’s all that matters.  I can’t wait for this to be over,” Mrs. Ward said. 

            Gregg and Danielle Hertzlieb of LaPorte were on the ground communicating with his mother, Sharyn Rankin, looking down from the third-floor balcony of her room.

            They waved at each other a lot and spoke at raised volumes to be able to hear each other.

            Hertzlieb said he’d rather be giving his 75-year old mother hugs but appreciated the opportunity to connect her even at a distance.

            They’ve also been staying in regular contact through Facetime and on the phone since the facility has been under lockdown.

            “It’s hard.  It’s difficult but we’re getting through it,” he said.

            Normally, residents can invite guests to join them for a Mother’s Day brunch.

            The brunch still went on but it was for residents only due to the COVID-19 visitation restrictions.

            Family members were encouraged to send moms a special message online to be printed and given to them later.

            All the messages were shown to residents later in a video collage.

            “Even though this year it looks a little different for Mother’s Day we still want to make it special for our residents,” said Kaitlynn Redmon, executive director of The Residences at Coffee Creek.

Restaurants Now Open for Dine-In Service

(LaPorte, IN) - Restaurants in Indiana are offering dine-in service once again under the governor’s loosened COVID-19 restrictions that began Monday. Burger Bar and Grill at 821 E. Lincolnway in LaPorte is providing a full breakfast and lunch menu to indoor customers and continuing with pick up service.

 

Shelly Tanksley, one of the owners of the restaurant, said two regular dine-in customers were served this morning but she expected a slow start knowing some people are still apprehensive about the risk of catching the virus. Tanksley says she’s open for indoor service from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. but she might cut back on the hours depending on the amount of dine-in customers in the coming days.

COVID-19 Update

With most of Indiana in the Phase 2 of the Back on Track Indiana reopening the COVID-19 numbers continue to rise. Marion County continues to lead the state with 750 positive cases and 423 deaths.

 

As of May 10th the total of new, positive cases is 511 along with 32 new deaths for the entire state of Indiana.  A total of 146,688 Indiana people have been tested with 24,627 being positive and 1,411 total deaths. 

 

La Porte County currently has 329 positive cases and 12 deaths. St. Joseph County has 829 positive cases with 26 deaths, Porter County has 331 positive cases with 9 deaths and Lake County has 2493 positive tests with 125 deaths.

Firefighters Respond to Chimney Fire

(LaPorte County, IN) - A house fire occurred yesterday afternoon outside LaPorte. Firefighters responded to a chimney fire on Orr Lake Road. Reports indicate flames were coming out of the top of the chimney and smoke from the residence. Everyone inside made it out safely.

 

It took about a half-hour to put out the fire. Firefighters from Center, Springfield, Scipio and Coolspring responded.

Makeover of Maple Lane Mall to Begin Soon

(LaPorte, IN) - Rural King, America’s Farm and Home Store, has announced plans to open in La Porte, Indiana by March 2021.  The new store will open in Maple Lane Mall, 1340 West State Road 2.  Significant renovations to the 221,000 sq. ft. structure is scheduled to begin in early spring.  Although other tenants are not identified at this time, renovations to additional tenant spaces will be completed as a part of this project.  

 

La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody said the rehabilitation and renovation of this area will be a major shot in the arm for the west side of La Porte. “A promise my administration made during our campaign was to immediately focus on bringing high-quality change to our community.  Over and over again we heard that residents of the west side of La Porte needed places to shop within walking distance.  With this project we have made that a reality,” said Mayor Dermody. The Maple Lane Mall was once a hub of commerce in La Porte.  However, like many indoor malls throughout the United States, changes in consumer spending habits hit the facility hard.  In its heyday, Levine’s and Kmart anchored the mall with a variety of local retail also represented.  The last anchor store remaining in the space closed its doors in 2017 and the property has languished until today’s commitment from Rural King. According to Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, the La Porte Redevelopment Commission and the La Porte Urban Enterprise Association are partnering with Rural King to make the necessary improvements to the property for this development.   “We are very pleased Rural King has chosen to locate a store here in La Porte.  We believe the partnership between the La Porte Redevelopment Commission and La Porte Urban Enterprise Association is a unique one that allows us to make dramatic improvements in our community.

 

We are excited to see this building put back into use and appreciate Rural King’s investment in La Porte,” said Cook. In 1960, Rural King started as a small, family-owned farm store in Mattoon, IL. The passion and dedication of its associates pushed the company further than ever imagined. Now, the company is one of the fastest-growing family-owned companies in America and has added over 110 stores in a thirteen state area. All store locations have a large variety of products, such as livestock supplies, clothing, hardware, and compact RK tractors from 19-55HP at select locations. Rural King is proud to provide all customers with the lowest prices every day, free coffee and popcorn in every store, and a friendly smile. To find more information about Rural King Supply and the products they carry, visit Ruralking.com or a Rural King store near you. For more information about the Maple Lane Mall project, please call Bert Cook, La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership at (219) 324-8584 or bertc@laportepartnership.com.

Vandals Strike Theatre House

(Michigan City, IN) - Vandals struck a theatre house in Michigan City over the weekend.

Pictures of genitalia and derogatory statements about gays and lesbians were sprayed painted at the Dunes Summer Theatre building.  Bricks were also thrown through several windows, operators of the theatre house reported. 

 

Normally, the theatre would be open for performances but the season so far has been canceled by COVID-19.

 

No suspects have been reported yet. Efforts are underway to organize a volunteer clean-up of the

vandalism.

National Hospital Week

(LaPorte, IN) - It’s National Hospital Week.  LaPorte Hospital president and CEO Ashley Dickinson say this year's hospital week has a deeper meaning because of the work involved with COVID-19 and keeping everyone safe.  Dickinson says LaPorte Hospital is used to respond to the crisis but the pandemic is unlike anything experienced previously. She says the hospital has taken extraordinary steps to maintain a safe environment so no one needing medical care should hesitate to seek it.  The appreciation shown by the community for the efforts of frontline workers has been gratifying.

EMS Week Later This Month

(LaPorte, IN) - Ambulance workers will be recognized soon. The LaPorte County Commissioners have declared the week of May 17th EMS week. Andrew McGuire, director of LaPorte County Emergency Medical Service, said the week and recognition from it is appreciated even more

this year because of the challenges posed by COVID-19.

Police Looking to Add Officers

(LaPorte, IN) - LaPorte City Police are looking to expand their workforce. Applications are being accepted for police officer positions. Chief Paul Brettin says they’re looking to grow in areas like

adding a specialty street crimes unit.  People interested in the openings are urged to get their applications in soon because of agility testing starting in June. For more information, contact LaPorte City Police at 362-9446.

"Play Ball" Soon in LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - Umpires will be yelling “play ball” in LaPorte soon. The park department says boys baseball and girls slow pitch softball programs are still on for the summer. Officials say practices for the upcoming season will begin May 26.

 

Parents who signed up their children to play have until Tuesday to pull out at no cost if they’re concerned about COVID-19. Officials say the decision to go ahead with the seasons follows

a review of the governor’s strategy for a gradual reopening of the state. Parks superintendent Mark Schreiber says a host of precautions will be taken to provide for social distancing at practice and during games.

 

Players will be allowed to spread out instead of kept confined inside dugouts. Other measures include sanitizing baseballs and other shared pieces of equipment. Schreiber said concession stands will also be closed as part of the social distancing game plan.

BMV Expands Branches Open by Appointment Only

 

(Indianapolis, IN) —The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) announced today an additional 73 branches will open by appointment only on Monday, May 11. This brings the total number of branches open by appointment to 128. Customers are now able to schedule an appointment for transactions that are not available online at all of these locations. BMV Connect kiosks located at branches opening by appointment only will also be available.

 

 

As a reminder, all branches are operating from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p. m. Monday through Saturday. All customers are required to have an appointment and those appointments are limited to the following transactions:

  • Knowledge Testing

  • Commercial Driver License

  • New Driver License/Learner Permit or Identification Card*

  • Amend a Current Driver License/Learner Permit or Identification Card

  • Replacement Driver License/Learner Permit or Identification Card

  • Title Transfer

  • Update to an Existing Title

  • New Registration

  • Disability Placard

*Driving skills exams are not available from the BMV at this time.

 

Administrative Penalty Fees (late fees) are still waived as set forth in Executive Order 20-05. Effectively, this extends expiration dates of registrations, driver’s licenses, and identification cards without changing the expiration date printed on documents in an individual’s possession and temporarily waives late fees during a future renewal. This same executive order also extends the deadline required to process a title transfer.

The Indiana BMV continues to encourage Hoosiers to complete transactions online, visit a BMV Connect kiosk, by calling the contact center, or through USPS whenever possible.

 

You can read a full list of modifications, closures, and available services on this page: https://www.in.gov/bmv/4363.htm

COVID-19 Sinks Lakefest 2020

(LaPorte, IN) - Losing the annual Great Lakes Grand Prix to COVID-19 is huge, but other tourism-related events have also been cancelled due to the virus. One is Lakefest 2020 in LaPorte.

 

The first one was planned in August, but there are just too many unknowns regarding safety right now.  Jack Arnett, the Executive Director of the LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau 

said, Tthe decision to cancel the inaugural Lakefest 2020 was made after talking things over with mayor Tom Dermody, who was looking for another major event to bring people here." 

 

Arnett says the annual coho tournament on Lake Michigan was among the other events cancelled by the virus. For now, though, he says the annual Sunflower Fair in September in LaPorte is still on.

Poll Worker Challenges from COVID-19

(LaPorte, IN) - Poll workers afraid of COVID-19 could be in short supply for the June 2 primary.

So far, LaPorte County Clerk Kathy Chroback says it’s been challenging finding enough poll workers. If they are short on staff, Chroback says poll workers will take on more responsibilities to fill any manpower gaps.

 

Chroback says there will be 83 polling places or about the same as usual. Right now, it appears more people will be voting by mail to avoid the risk of COVID-19 at the polls.

Arrest in Two County Chase

The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office (LCSO) announces the arrest of Asia L. Jeter (35) of South Bend.     

 

LCSO deputies were advised that the Berrien County Michigan Sheriff’s Department had initiated a motor vehicle pursuit in their county/state.  LCSO Deputies learned that Berrien County authorities had attempted to check on the occupants of a vehicle, but the vehicle fled causing the pursuit.  

 

A short time later, Captain Andrew Hynek observed the vehicle traveling south on CR 500 East near CR 700 North.  He attempted to initiate a traffic stop on the vehicle. However, the vehicle fled again.  The vehicle pursuit traveled through Rolling Prairie and then west on US 20. 

 

Near the intersection of US 20 and Range Road, two sets of tire deflation devices were deployed by assisting deputies.  The fleeing vehicle struck the tire deflation devices.  The vehicle dramatically slowed and eventually stopped on US 20, east of Wilhelm Road. 

 

JETER, the driver, was positively identified at La Porte Hospital while she was being medically treated.  Once identified, deputies learned JETER was a wanted person by authorities in St. Joseph and Lake Counties. 

 

JETER was discharged and then transported to the La Porte County Jail (LCJ).  JETER was booked into the LCJ for the following charges:

 

  • Resisting Law Enforcement – Level 6 Felony
  • Identity Deception – Level 6 Felony
  • Driving While Suspended (Prior Conviction) - Class A Misdemeanor
  • Reckless Driving – Class C Misdemeanor
  • Wanted Person Holds – St. Joseph County and Lake County

JETER remains housed in the LCJ and is being held without bond. 

 

 

MC COVID-19 Restrictions Mirror Governor's

Michigan City Mayor Duane Parry has aligned himself with Governor Holcomb’s Executive Order and his “Back on Track Plan” for Indiana with just two exceptions. Mayor Parry has limited religious services to a maximum of 25 people, and out-of-state visitors shall self-quarantine for seven days upon arrival to the City.

 

To assist our citizen’s as a “GUIDE” the following is a summary by category of the re-opening dates contained in the “Back on Track Plan” for Indiana order issued by Governor Holcomb on

May 1, 2020:

 

 Amusement Parks (Including water parks): May open at 50% capacity on June 14th. Reservations to be required to limit the number of customers at any one time. May open at full capacity on July 4th, subject to social distancing.

 

Bars (that offer food services): Until May 11th may offer carryout, curbside, and delivery services. Beginning May 11th may open at 50% capacity, under specified conditions. Beginning July 4th may operate at full capacity.

 

Bars (that do not offer food service) and nightclubs: May open at 50% capacity on June 14th, with social distancing. Beginning on July 4th, bars and nightclubs may operate at full capacity.

 

Beaches (including shorelines and pier): Open starting May 11th subject to social gathering policy and social distancing guidelines.

 

BMV (Bureau of Motor Vehicles) branches: Approximately 50% of branches to open on May 4th, with services by appointment only; remaining branches to open by May 18th.

 

Boating: Permitted starting May 11th, subject to social distancing guidelines

 

Campgrounds (except for permanent RV and cabin residents):  May open on May 24th with social distancing and sanitary precautions.

 

Camps (overnight camps and day camps): To be determined based on CDC guidance.

 

Casinos: Closed pending further guidance.

 

Colleges and Universities: May be open for purposes of facilitating distance learning, performing critical research, or performing essential functions, subject to maintaining social distancing to the extent possible. Enhanced cleaning required upon reopening.

 

Conventions: May resume on July 4th .

 

Elderly and those with high-risk health conditions: Until May 24th, those 65 and over, and those with high-risk health conditions, should remain at home when possible. Beginning May 24, such persons should limit exposure at work and in their communities. Beginning June 14th, such persons should remain cautious at work and in their communities and adhere to social distancing.

 

Elective medical procedures: Permitted as of April 27th. Until further guidance is provided, only one person may accompany the patient.

 

Entertainment and cultural venues (including bowling alleys, museums, zoos, aquariums, and similar facilities, but NOT including sports events, fairs, festivals, and parades): May open on June 14th at 50% capacity. (Full opening is subject to further guidance.)

 

Essential businesses (including essential manufacturing, construction, infrastructure, government, healthcare, and other critical businesses and operations): May be open, as outlined in Governor’s Executive Order 20-22.

 

Face coverings for the general public: Face coverings for the public are recommended in public settings until June 14th and are optional beginning on June 14th.

 

Golf courses: Open. (Practicing Social Distancing)

 

Graduation ceremonies: Indiana Department of Education to establish guidelines in consultation with the Indiana Department of Health.

 

Gyms, fitness centers, community centers, and similar facilities: May open on May 24, with restrictions, including spacing restrictions, cleaning requirements, and the requirement that employees wear face coverings. No restrictions beginning on July 4.

 

Hygiene: Good hygiene and frequent hand washing continue to be strongly recommended.

 

Libraries: As of May 8th, based on proper social and gathering guidelines,

 

Local government operations (cities, towns, counties, etc.): As of May 8th, may make decisions for themselves based on their own policies and guidelines.

 

Malls (shopping malls): As of May 8th, may open at 50% capacity. Beginning May 24th, malls may move to 75% capacity while maintaining social distancing. Beginning June 14, malls may operate at full capacity, with social

distancing guidelines.

 

Indoor common areas of malls (such as food courts and sitting areas) may open at 25% capacity as of May 4th   until July 4th; then may move to full capacity, with social distancing guidelines.

 

Manufacturers, industrial operations, and other infrastructure that has not been in operation: May open on May 4th following OSHA and CDC guidelines.

 

Movie theatres: May open on May 24th at 50% capacity. (Full opening is subject to further guidance.)

 

Nursing homes and assisted living facilities: No visitation allowed pending further guidance.

 

 

Personal service businesses (such as hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, spas, and tattoo parlors): May open beginning May 11th by appointment only, and subject to specified conditions (including spacing of workstations and requirement that employees wear face coverings, and with customers to wear face coverings, if possible. Beginning July 4th may open at full capacity.

 

Playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts, amusement parks, tourist sites, water parks:  May open on May 24th, with social distancing required.

 

Religious services: Beginning May 8, inside services (such as weddings, funerals, and baptisms) are permitted with a 25-person maximum (with more complete details available in “Revised Guidelines for Places of Worship” and specified recommendations regarding those 65 and older and those with high-risk health conditions).

 

Restaurants: Until May 11th may offer carryout, curbside, and delivery service; then, beginning May 11th  may operate at 50% capacity until June 14, subject to specified conditions (including keeping bar seating closed, no live entertainment, and the requirement that servers and kitchen staff wear face coverings); then may operate at 75% capacity beginning  June 14. Bar seating in restaurants may open at 50% capacity on June 14, until July 4th. Beginning July 4th, restaurants may operate at full capacity.

 

School buildings, facilities, and grounds (K-12): School buildings remain closed and all activities remain canceled through June 30 (subject to certain limited Executive Order exceptions). May be allowed to open on July 1st (pending confirmation from State). May be open for purposes of facilitating distance learning, or performing essential functions, subject to social distancing requirements, with a requirement for enhanced cleaning. The timing of full operations will be determined at a later date.

 

Senior Center: May open on June 14th

 

Senior living and adult day care facilities: May open on May 31st (subject to a possible delay in starting date).

 

Social distancing continues to be strongly recommended.

 

Social gatherings (e.g., parties, receptions, weddings, Mother’s Day gatherings): Limited to 25 people, subject to social distancing, until May 24; then, beginning May 24th, limited to 100 people until June 14, subject to social distancing; then, beginning June 14, limited to 250 people until July 4, subject to social distancing. Beginning on July 4, the size will not be limited but will be subject to social distancing.

 

Sports events, fairs, festivals, and parades (i.e., large events): may resume July 4th.

 

Sports leagues (recreational sports leagues) and tournaments: May resume June 14th.

 

State government (access to state government buildings): Continued operations, but with restrictions on public access to buildings until June 14th. Unlimited access beginning on June 14th.

 

State government executive branch offices: On May 11th will begin limited public services, and employees will begin to return to work in small waves.

 

State parks: Open.

 

Stores and retail and commercial businesses (non-essential, such as clothing stores, furniture stores, jewelry stores, and liquor stores that have been operating as curbside delivery only): As of May 8th, may open at 50% capacity until May 24th. On May 24th, may open at 75% capacity until June 14th. Beginning on June 14th may open at full capacity with social distancing. Beginning on July 4th may operate at full capacity.

 

Stores (essential retail providing necessities of life, including grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, building materials stores): As of May 8th, may open at 50% capacity until May 24th, in accordance with Governor’s Executive Order 20-22. Then, on May 24th, may open at 75% capacity until June 14th. Beginning on June 14th may open at full capacity with social distancing. Beginning on July 4th may operate at full capacity.

 

Swimming pools (community pools): May open on May 24th, subject to CDC guidance

.

Travel:  As of May 8th, all local travel (including non-essential travel) permitted. Those 65 and over, and those with high-risk health conditions, are encouraged to remain at home when possible. (People are encouraged to work remotely from home where possible.) Effective May 24th, no travel restrictions will remain in effect.

 

Work (including office work): Office workers (and other workers) are encouraged to continue to work remotely, where possible, until July 4th, but, as of May 8th may return to offices in small waves, until June 14th. Beginning on June 14th, professional office building employees may resume work at full capacity.

 

Zoo: May open on June 14th.

Indoor Dining Reopening Monday

(LaPorte, IN) - Restaurants and bars serving food in Indiana can resume indoor service on Monday.  They’re limited to 50 percent capacity under the governor’s reopening strategy.

LaPorte County Health Department administrator Tony Mancuso says his office has been reaching out to those businesses so they know the guidelines. The restrictions include employees having to wear masks. Mancuso says his office will be monitoring the situation and making sure the restrictions are being followed.

 

Other safety requirements include using throw away menus or menus texted to customers.

People will also have to wait in their vehicles until their reservations open.

Barge Helps Hold Back Lake Michigan

(New Buffalo, MI) - A barge docked in New Buffalo Harbor is hauling large rocks to several homes threatened by shoreline erosion from the record high Lake Michigan.


    Ted Gryzwacz, the President of the New Buffalo Shoreline Alliance, said Donkersloot & Sons was contracted by the property owners to shore up their revetments weakened by a late November storm.


    He said the barge has been making trips out there to rebuild the protective barriers for months and expects the work to continue into the summer. “We never had enough ice on the lake to slow the process down.  He’s been working all winter,” he said.


    Gryzwacz said he and two of his neighbors at Sunset Shores hired Oselka Construction to rebuild their revetments. Trucks venturing down a road cut to the shoreline have been carrying and depositing rocks used to shore up those eroded bluffs.


    That work has also been occurring since high waves generated by the late November storm brought the water’s edge closer to those residences. Gryzwacz said he has lost 10 to 15 feet of his yard to the erosion while a neighbor had as much as 20 to 25 feet of his yard fall over the edge of the dune brought down by the pounding waves.


    He said about 80-percent of the work he and his neighbors have ordered is finished and should be done before the end of the month.


    Gryzwacz said the additional rocks worked to stop further erosion last week when strong northerly winds sent waves barreling into the shoreline. “It held up very well.  Very well.  We had no more damage,” he said.


    Gryzwacz said the restored barriers should keep the lake from advancing closer to their homes at least for now but their long term effectiveness could depend on whether the lake continues to rise.


    The New Buffalo Shoreline Alliance continues to pursue federal funding on a solution it believes will work to replenish beaches to help reduce erosion from the high water.
    More sand would diminish the size of the waves before they hit the shoreline.
    “We got to get sand and somehow we got to get the water down,” Gryzwacz said.

 

Lighthouse Mall to Reopen Friday

(Michigan City, IN) - Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets mall in Michigan City is slated to reopen Friday. That’s according to the owners, the Simon Property Group.  The mall was planning to reopen last weekend but the mayor’s COVID-19 restrictions were still in place. The mayor is not expected to extend those restrictions which expire at midnight tonight.

 

Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group has been reopening its shopping malls across the country.

Official Wants More Prison Inmates Tested

(Westville, IN) - More prison inmates at Westville should be tested for COVID-19.

 That’s what a local official said during yesterday’s county commissioners meeting. Right now, only inmates showing symptoms are tested.

 

County council President Randy Novak says the need is there because a high percentage of inmates who have been tested are coming back positive. He doesn’t see how prisons are any different than meatpacking plants, where all workers are being tested.

 

Prison officials said nearly 200 inmates at Westville have been tested, and166 came back positive.

142 of those offenders have now recovered.

 

Kristin Doss, chief medical officer for the Indiana Department of Correction, said there aren’t enough resources to test and possibly keep testing all 31 hundred inmates at Westville. Doss also said the prison is following all federal state and local guidelines in addressing the virus at the prison.

Indiana COVID-19 Cases Near 22,000

(Indianapolis, IN) - 51 more coronavirus deaths are reported in Indiana. Along with 862 new cases.

According to state health officials, 1,264 Hoosiers have now died from the coronavirus. Positive cases stand at close to 22 thousand. Here in LaPorte County, there are 284 total cases. A vast majority of those are at Westville prison. There have also been nine deaths in LaPorte County.

Starke County has 17 cases and two deaths.

Switch in Vote by Mail Strategy

(LaPorte, IN) -There’s been a change in the strategy to get more people to vote by mail here in LaPorte County due to COVID-19 concerns at the polls.  Originally, applications were going to be sent to all registered voters. Now, postcards will be sent.

 

The cards will inform people how to get a vote by mail application. Officials say it’s a way to save money and time since the primary is less than three weeks away.

 

LaPorte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora said the vote by mail applications can be accessed online or by placing a phone call to the county clerk’s office. The LaPorte County Election Board made the change on Friday and its decision was supported Wednesday by the commissioners.

Green Light for Courthouse Upgrades

(Michigan City, IN) -Improvements to the Michigan City courthouse are moving ahead again. The start of the 22 million dollar project was put on hold in March. Due to COVID-19, officials wanted to see if it was something the county could still afford.

 

After taking a look at the money coming in, officials say it’s still affordable even under the worst-case scenario. The LaPorte County Commissioners gave the green light today. Commissioner Rich Mrozinski says a lot of money had already spent getting ready for construction so there was really no turning back. The project will now go out for bids soon. 

 

Officials say the cost actually comes down from a lot of people needing work right now.

New Head Football Coach for New Prairie

(New Prairie, IN) - Last night, the New Prairie United School Board approved the hiring of a new football coach. Casey McKim, who has been with Valparaiso High School as an assistant coach for the past 8 years was brought in to take over a very successful football program.


McKim has been brought in to take over for Russ Radtke who left New Prairie for Portage
High School. During his eight seasons at New Prairie, Radtke finished with a 78-20 record.
McKim’s coaching debut begins on August 21 st at home against the LaPorte Slicers.

South Shore Now Requires Riders to Wear Masks

(Chesterton, IN) -  The South Shore Line is now requiring passengers to wear a face mask on trains and in stations. The requirement comes in light of the mandate that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued late last week that people wear face-coverings "when they must leave their home or report to work for essential operations and they either cannot or it is impractical to maintain 6 feet of physical distance between themselves and others." Illinois is including public transportation among places that distancing isn't practical.

 

In a statement from the SSL dated 5/5/20, "The SSL requests that riders abide by the face-covering guidelines as a courtesy to your fellow passengers.  By wearing a face covering or mask, you protect yourself as well as your neighboring passengers and those who are considered high-risk."

 

Visit the Illinois Department of Public Health website for further face-covering guidelines: www.dph.illinois.gov/covid19/community-guidance/mask-use.

COVID-19 Testing in La Porte

The La Porte Armory National Guard will be hosting symptomatic or close contact testing location in La Porte, IN Wed May 5 through Friday May 8, 2020. You must schedule through the testing portal with the link below. If you have any questions, please call 888-634-1123. ISDH/Optum Test Site Location: La Porte Armory National Guard 2391 W State Road 2, LaPorte, IN 46350

 

Scheduling - By appointment Schedule at https://lhi.care/covidtesting Hours Schedule this week: Wed-Fri (5/6 to 5/8): 7:00AM-7:00PM Requirements to be Tested - Symptomatic - Close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 positive patients when it is imperative that the contact continues to work and/or have close contact with at risk populations. Registration for testing must be completed at https://lhi.care/covidtesting or by phone at 888-634-1123. Payment Options Hoosiers will not be charged for testing and insurance is not required. If you have private health insurance, please bring that information with you.

 

Contact Information Phone: 888-634-1123 This information was submitted to the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) by ISDH/Optum Test Site and was last updated on 5/5/2020, 6:50 AM. The ISDH provides this information “as is” and the user accepts the information “as is”, and assumes all risks associated with its use. ISDH cannot and does not warranty the accuracy of the information.This information and more information can be found at https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/.  

Gunshots in LaPorte Strike House

(LaPorte, IN) - A house in LaPorte was shot multiple times.  Those are among the new details in what police describe as an ongoing investigation. It happened early Monday in the 600 block of Rockwood St. Police say no was injured. Neighbors reported hearing more than a half dozen shots. According to police, it’s believed the gunfire stemmed from an incident the night before at Country Acres Apartments. Police are not releasing further details.

Tractor Parade for the Birthday Boy

(New Carlisle) - A simple Facebook post turned into a tractor parade in New Carlisle over the weekend. 

Every mom wants her son to have a great birthday. Sarrah Bonner wanted to have a big party for her little boy Kingston. But she canceled the event for the sake of social distancing. Kingston loves tractors more than anything, so Bonner turned to social media for a little help.

 

"I just posted on Facebook," she says, "and I was like, 'We had to cancel his party. Could we have a couple of tractors drive by?' And the next thing I know, hundreds of people are sharing the post, and people I don't even know are like, 'I'm coming over; we're driving by!'"

 

The turnout was a little more than she expected. Ten tractors, one fire truck, one ambulance, two police cruisers, and a bright red hot rod all paraded by around noon on Saturday. The caravan cruised up U.S. 20 near Tulip Road and disappeared on the horizon.

 

As for Kingston, he climbed into the seat of his birthday present-- a green John Deere ride-on tractor-- and had his own parade in the front yard.

 

 

Great Lakes Grand Prix Sunk by COVID-19

 (MICHIGAN CITY, IN) -  The annual powerboat racing that brings more than 100,000 people to Michigan City’s lakefront has been canceled by COVID-19.

 

            Jack Arnett, executive director of the LaPorte County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said preparing for such a major event scheduled July 30 to August 2 was simply impossible given the huge amount of unknowns.  “We felt there were too many moving parts to be able to say with all of this uncertainty we could direct a safe event,” he said.

 

            A record 212,000 people last year went to the Great Lakes Grand Prix and related events like the boat parade on Franklin St. and Taste of Michigan City in the Uptown Arts District.  An estimated $13.6 million was generated for the local economy.

 

            Not having the Great Lakes Grand Prix is another blow to the tourism industry already devastated from bans and restrictions on restaurants, hotels, casinos, and traveling.  A gradual reopening of the state’s economy started Monday.  However, Arnett said a further loosening of restrictions hinges on the future number of COVID-19 cases and there are no guarantees for hotels that need to start making rooms available for the race even before the start of the pandemic. 

 

            The Great Lakes Grand Prix is part of a series of races featuring boats traveling up to 200 per hour.  The competition mostly in Florida is sanctioned by Powerboat P1 which already canceled races scheduled to be held prior to the one in Michigan City. 

 

            Arnett said the racing teams have members in five continents and restrictions on international travel to limit the global spread of the virus added further doubt to being able to pull off the race and doing so without risking anyone’s health.  “It’s just too big of an event to try and have with a big cloud hanging over us this late,” he said.

            

LaPorte Teen Recognized as One of Indiana's Top Volunteers

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana's top two youth volunteers of 2020, Emily Graves, 17, of La Porte and Margaret Dimmett, 14, of Zionsville, were recognized this weekend for their outstanding volunteer service during the 25th annual, and first-ever virtual, Prudential Spirit of Community Awards national recognition celebration.  

 

Emily, a senior at New Prairie High School, founded a nonprofit organization that has delivered more than 35,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to active and former military personnel at home and abroad over the past decade. When Emily was 6, her mother challenged her to think about how she could use the Girl Scout cookies she was selling to help others. Emily bought several boxes with her own money, solicited donations to buy 600 more, and contacted veterans' organizations to help her ship them to service members. "Active military members are separated from their homes and families," she explained. "I wanted to give them a piece of home, something comforting in the midst of uncertainty."

 

In recognition of the spirit of service that they have demonstrated in their communities, Emily and Margaret – along with 100 other top youth volunteers from across the country – were also each given $2,500 to donate toward the local COVID-19 response efforts of a nonprofit organization of their choice. These funds come in addition to the $1,000 scholarship and engraved silver medallion they earned as Indiana's top youth volunteers of 2020.

 

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), named Emily and Margaret Indiana's top high school and middle-level youth volunteers in February.

"Over the past 25 years, this program has honored students spanning three generations, and the common thread between them has been the determination of young people to respond to the challenges of the moment," said Charles Lowrey, chairman, and CEO of Prudential Financial. "Who better than this group of young leaders from all over the country to help identify and direct resources to community needs arising from COVID-19?"

 

As State Honorees, Emily and Margaret also earned an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the program's annual national recognition events; the trip, however, was canceled due to COVID-19 and changed to a three-day online celebration this past weekend. In addition to remarks and congratulations from actress Kristen Bell, honorees had opportunities to connect with each other through online project-sharing sessions, learn about service and advocacy from accomplished past Spirit of Community honorees, hear congratulatory remarks from Lowrey and NASSP Executive Director and CEO JoAnn Bartoletti, and more.

 

Beware of Online Pet Adoption Scams

Fraud.org has reported a 79% increase in general COVID-19 related fraud complaints between March-April of 2020. Of all the COVID-19 related fraud complaints, pet adoption fraud has increased as well. Fraud.org reports a 42% increase in pet adoption scams between February-April as compared to the same time last year.

 

The driving force behind the increase in adoptions is that more people are spending time at home and the idea of bringing a new pet into the home to care for is a wonderful idea! However, scammers also have been busy during this time conducting online scams, targeting good people that are trying to do good deeds and adopt animals that need a home online. How does this scam work? In a typical pet adoption scam, the scammer will create a fake website related to a particular breed of dog or cat, using words to tug on your heartstrings such as “puppy” or “kitten.” The adoption service will be advertised on classifieds websites, social media, phishing emails, or by other means to lure in more potential victims.

 

The websites tend to have photos of cute animals to entice visitors to reach out to the person who has the animals up for adoption, THE SCAMMER! Consumers who respond to the ads will be instructed to pay fees before the animal can be shipped. These fictitious costs may include shipping fees, vaccinations, quarantine fees, insurance, or even COVID-19 safe shipping crates. Regardless of the excuse given by the “seller” of the fictitious animal, the aim is always the same: get the victim to continue paying and/or providing valuable personal information until they either catch on or run out of money.

 

What can you do to prevent being the victim of a pet adoption scam?

 

• Put your search on hold. Avoid shopping for a pet until after the COVID lockdowns have been lifted. If you cannot touch an animal with your own hands, there’s a risk it could be a scam.

 

• Never pay any fee to obtain an animal that you have not seen with your own eyes (as opposed to via pictures or videos online).

 

• If anyone asks you to send money overseas, particularly to pet adoption scam hotspots such as Cameroon or India, it is a scam.

 

• Beware of “free” pet offers online. These are often simply ruses to get you to pay shipping or other fees for non-existent animals. If you are planning to buy a specific breed of animal, make sure you are working with a reputable breeder or rescue organization. The American Kennel Club and the American Humane Society are good places to start when looking for reputable, ethical breeders and rescue groups. There are plenty of pet rescue/adoption groups locally and regionally that would love to hear from you!

Complaints of Crowding Follow Lifting of Restrictions

(LaPorte, IN) - The city of LaPorte has fielded recent complaints about not enough social distancing. The grumblings were about too many customers inside Kroger and Walmart after limits on the number of customers were lifted by the city In late April.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody says there’s only been a couple of complaints but the city is keeping an eye on the situation. “We’re far from being done with this COVID situation and everybody needs

to do their part,” he said.

 

Dermody said other complaints include customers getting too close to each other and touching.

City Contributing to Upscale Condo Development

(LaPorte, IN) - The city of La Porte is helping with the cost of building resort-type living units beside Clear Lake. Approval by the city council Monday night was unanimous.  Money from tax revenue generated by the development will supplement the $35 million dollar expense. The city’s contribution will total about $6 million payable over a 25-year period, officials said. 

 

Officials emphasize the property does not produce any tax revenue now and no money will be taken from existing tax revenue streams. The developers, Flaherty and Collins out of Indianapolis, plan to begin construction in July.

 

The 200 upscale units are expected to bring a noticeable shot in the arm to the downtown and surrounding area.

Mask Enforcement Results in Fatal Shooting

(Flint, MI) – A store security guard ordering a customer to wear a mask was fatally shot in Michigan. This happened at a Family Dollar in Flint. Police say a mother and daughter left after confronted about not wearing a mask. The woman’s husband and a friend of his later showed up and during a confrontation, the security guard was shot and later died. Both men were charged but remain at large.

Unpaid Utility Bills Coming Due Next Month

(LaPorte, IN) - LaPorte residents will have to start paying what they owe on their water and sewer bills soon. The city has not been forcing people to pay or shutting off water during the pandemic.

On June 1st, those debts come due from action taken by the city council last night as the governor loosens restrictions on the state’s economy. Mayor Tom Dermody says the city will work with people. For the most part, officials say water and sewer bills have been getting paid at a percentage well above many other communities in the state.

Fugitive Captured in Chase

(LaPorte County) - Saturday evening LaPorte County Sherrif's officers Sergeant Jeff Wright and Deputies Ryan Doperalski and Tyler Oberholtzer arrived at a residence in the 3700 east block of CR 100 South, in rural Pleasant Township.  They went to the residence to attempt to locate Tyler Lukac, 26, who is a wanted person by the LCSO.  Shortly after arrival, a male subject was observed leaving the property on a motorcycle.  Deputies received information the subject was Likac and began to give chase.  Deputies pursued Lukac for a short distance before terminating the pursuit in the area of State Road 4 and Boyd Boulevard. 

 

Following the pursuit, information was learned that Lukac had checked into a motel on the south side of Michigan City.  Deputy Oberholtzer collaborated with Michigan City Police Department (MCPD) Officers to locate LUKAC.  Officers from MCPD located the motorcycle and LUKAC inside a room of the motel. 

 

Lukac was arrested and eventually transported to the La Porte County Jail (LCJ).  LUKAC was booked into the LCJ for the following charges:

 

  • Warrant, Dealing in a Controlled Substance (Revocation) – Class B Felony
  • Warrant, Failure to Return (Failure to Appear) – Level 6 Felony
  • Possession of Methamphetamine – Level 5 Felony

Lukac remains housed in the LCJ and is being held without bond.  Additional charges related to the pursuit and the stolen motorcycle are being sought through the La Porte County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.   

 

Captain Derek J. Allen stated, “This is an excellent example of personnel from two agencies collectively working together.  Thank you to the Michigan City Police Officers for their assistance in bringing a wanted fugitive to justice.”

Seek Emergency Treatment Urged

(LaPorte, IN) - La Porte Hospital is urging residents to seek emergency care when needed without delay.  Officials say stroke symptoms and chest pain that may be a heart attack require a timely response to achieve the best possible outcome.

 

Officials say fear of COVID-19 should not be a factor in choosing not to seek medical care.

Steps have been taken to assure patients do not contract the virus while at the hospital, officials said.

Fatal Motorcycle Crash

(Furnessville, IN) - A motorcycle driver was killed in a crash in Porter County over the weekend.

Police say 55-year-old Glenn Friday was passing a group of motorcyclists on U.S 12 near Furnessville.

 

The Chesterton man failed to negotiate a curve and struck a guardrail on a 2012 Harley Davidson.

The accident happened Saturday afternoon. 

Major Police Matters Overnight

(LaPorte, IN) - LaPorte City Police are investigating two major incidents during the night. A car wound up on its roof on Pine Lake Ave about 11 o’clock last night and before five a.m. sources say at least a half dozen gunshots rang out in the area of Pine Lake Ave. and Polk St.

 

Chris Popplewell says he was filling out some unemployment-related forms when he heard rapid-fire from what sounded like a 9-millimeter firearm. Popplewell says police told him nobody was hurt by the gunfire and they do have a suspect. So far, no injuries have been reported from the motor vehicle accident. 

Howmet Aerospace Reduces Workforce

(LaPorte, IN) - A local manufacturer has reduced its workforce.  Howmet Aerospace in LaPorte says a reduction in staff was needed because of reduced demand. The company makes aerospace engine components. Officials say additional action could be taken depending on future

demand. How many people were let go was not disclosed.

LaPorte-Based Film Misses Theaters, But Lands in Your Living Room

A feature film shot right here in LaPorte County is finally available to the viewing public.

The Girls of Summer is a coming-of-age story about a talented girl who leaves her family farm to pursue her country music dreams.

Shot in the LaPorte County area, it’s the work of Oscar-nominated director John Hancock.

The film was released on Amazon last week.

Hancock says plans for a larger theatrical release were foiled by the pandemic, but the streaming option seems appropriate for the times. "All the theaters are closed," he says. "We were going to open, starting with New York and L.A., and expand theatrically. But we wanted to get it out, and we saw that this was a chance to bring it to people online during a time when they need something to watch."

The film was picked up by a distribution company called Indie Rights, which worked out a deal with Amazon. Hancock says the movie may also come out on other streaming platforms, like Hulu or Netflix. He also expects a DVD version to come out sometime. But he's especially excited to release the film's soundtrack. "It's got such wonderful songs," he says. "I want to put out a vinyl and a CD on it."

Hancock says early reviews have been good. The movie currently receives 4.5 stars out of 5 on Amazon. Streaming it is free for Prime members.

Indiana's Back on Track Plan Explained

A return to normalcy begins in Indiana on Monday. But Governor Eric Holcomb has emphasized that the transition will be gradual. The governor’s office has developed a five-stage plan for getting Indiana back on track. Stage 2 begins Monday, May 4 with the final stage of complete reopening targeted for July 4. In between, various aspects of daily life will gradually open up. Here is a breakdown of the Back on Track Indiana Plan:

 

Stage 2: May 4-May 22

 

Restaurants     50% capacity

Bars/Entertainment     Closed

Retail Shopping          50% capacity

Office Work    Remote work recommended

Manufacturing/Construction   Fully open

Travel  Limited, but no essential travel ban

Religious Services       Fully open May 8 with proper social distancing

Gyms   Closed

Social Gatherings        25 people

 

Stage 3: May 23-June 12

 

Restaurants     75% capacity

Bars/Entertainment     Closed

Retail Shopping          75% capacity

Office Work    Remote work recommended

Social Gatherings        100 people

 

 

Stage 4: June 13-July 3

 

Restaurants     75% capacity

Bars/Entertainment     50% capacity

Social Gatherings        250 people

 

Stage 5: July 4

 

Everything fully open, with social distancing precautions

 

Three counties—Marian, Cass, and Lake—will begin Stage 2 a week later due to the severity of COVID-19 outbreaks there. Even when various activities open up completely, social distancing precautions should still be taken. Dates and particular guidelines are subject to change depending on the progress of slowing spread of the virus.

More information on the Back on Track Indiana Plan can be found at backontrack.in.gov.

Stay at Home Order Remains in MC For Now

MAYOR PARRY’S EXECUTIVE ORDER REMAINS IN EFFECT

 

Mayor Parry and his administration are reviewing Governor Holcomb’s new orders and his plans for reopening the State issued late this afternoon.   In the meantime, Mayor Parry’s Executive Order #04-2020, which was issued on April 7, 2020, still remains in full force and effect, which includes the following provisions: 

  • The opening of only essential retail businesses selling the necessities of life (such as grocery stores, hardware stores, pharmacies, convenience stores, and gas stations) and limiting the number of customers in said establishments
  • A City-wide curfew between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
  • Closure of Pullman Park and Washington Park 
  • Limiting occupancy for commercial lodgings and short-term rentals; and 
  • Requiring individuals who maintain second homes in Michigan City to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arriving to the City

The Michigan City Common Council approved and extended this Executive Order, which unless renewed or modified, is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. on May 7, 2020.   Thus, only essential retail businesses selling the necessities of life can remain open.  All other retail business must continue to operate online, call-in ordering, or curbside pickup.  

The Mayor’s Office has received numerous calls regarding the prospective reopening of Lighthouse Mall.   At this time, Lighthouse Mall remains closed and will not be opening as many speculated this weekend. Blue Chip Casino, salons, and barbershops also remain closed.

Mayor Parry will be providing further guidance on this matter early next week.  As the weather breaks this weekend, the Mayor urges residents to take advantage of the sunshine but continue to implement proper social distancing and safety measures.  

Governor Outlines 5 Stages to Reopening Indiana

(Indianapolis, IN) - Reopening of the state’s economy will slowly begin on Monday.  Indiana Governor, Eric Holcomb, announced during his daily coronavirus briefing on Friday afternoon.  During the Press Conference, he defined a 5 Stage Plan to get Indiana "Back on Track".

 

Stage 1 is the “Hunker Down Hoosiers” stage that has been in place since March 23rd. 

 

Stage 2 begins this Monday, May 4 for most of the state.  Essential travel restrictions will be lifted, and social gatherings of up to 25 people will be permitted following the CDC’s social distancing guidelines.

 

The remaining manufacturers, industrial and other infrastructure operations that had not been considered essential may reopen. Hoosiers who can work from home are encouraged to continue to do so.

 

Retail and commercial businesses may open at 50% capacity.  Examples include apparel, furniture, jewelry, and liquor stores that have been operating as curbside or delivery only. Shopping malls can open at 50% capacity with indoor common areas restricted to 25% capacity.

 

Starting May 8th, for all of the state’s counties, indoor worship services may be held, following specific social distancing guidelines – while those 65 and older and those at elevated risk will be asked to stay home.

 

Beginning May 11, restaurants and bars that serve food may open at 50% capacity, however bar seating will remain closed.  Also, personal services such as hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, spas, and tattoo parlors also may open by appointment only and must follow social distancing guidelines.

 

Stage 3 may begin as soon as May 24, allowing high-risk individuals to venture out cautiously.  Added freedmons include social gatherings being allowed to increase to 100 people, retail stores opening to 75% capacity, and movie theaters will open again to 50% capacity.

 

Stage 4 can start as soon as June 14, making face coverings optional.  Zoos, Museums, and other attractions can open, and social gatherings will be permitted to increase to 200 people.  At this time recreational sports can resume, office buildings can open at full capacity, and dining services can open to 75% capacity.  Bars will be allowed to open at 50% capacity at this time. 

 

Stage 5 is set for July 4. At this time fairs, festivals, and sporting events can resume, with social distancing guidelines.  Remote work will still be optional.  Retail stores, gyms, personal services, and dining can operate at full capacity.  Restrictions will be lifted at amusement parks and like facilities.  The State will also make a decision on the 2020-2021 school year at this stage.

 

The entire timeline and plan is contingent on four guiding principles:

  • The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide has decreased for 14 days
  • The state retains its surge capacity for critical care beds and ventilators
  • The state retains its ability to test all Hoosiers who are COVID-19 symptomatic as well as health care workers, first responders, and frontline employees
  • Health officials have systems in place to contact all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and expand contact tracing.

Michigan City Beach also Impacted by Recent Flooding

(Michigan City, IN) Michigan City has another major clean up on its hands at the lakefront from flooding caused this week’s storm and Lake Michigan being at record high levels.  

 

Mayor Duane Parry says part of a dune was eroded by the high water east of the senior center at Washington Park and a lot of debris from the lake was left on the beach and surrounding area.  Parry said the eroded dune will require some leveling so it’s safe for foot traffic. 

 

The entire shoreline is prone to erosion and other damage from record high water rushing in during storms packing strong northerly winds.

Food Supply Doubts Remain Despite Plant Order

(Washington DC) - Meat processing plants ordered to remain open by the president doesn’t necessarily mean an end to the growing backlog of animals and potential food shortages.

Enough workers have to feel safe enough from COVID-19 to want to return to their jobs in the plants.

 

James Roth, director of the Center for Food Security and Public Health at Iowa State University, said he believes the processing plants are doing the testing and other things needed to gain the confidence of their employees fearing infection.

 

Roth said how many of them return once the shuttered plants reopen or continue to work at facilities still operating, though, remains to be seen.  He said, “I’m sure many are willing to go back to work but it takes a lot of people to keep one of these plants going.” 

 

Some workers protested when president Trump citing a threatened food supply chain as a crisis implemented the Defense Production Act to keep the plants running. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union with more than 250,000 members were among the labor organizations calling for states to get involved in assuring safe workplaces.

 

“The best way to protect America’s food supply, to keep these plants open, is to protect America’s meatpacking workers,” said UFCW President Marc Perrone.

Michigan City Mayor Undecided on his COVID-19 Restrictions

(Michigan City, IN) The Michigan City mayor has not decided whether to lift the COVID-19 restrictions in his community. Mayor Duane Parry says he’s especially concerned about the number of cases skyrocketing In Chicago just 60 miles or so away. Illinois now has the 4th most coronavirus cases in the nation. 

 

Parry says he will make a decision after the governor this afternoon announces what he’s going to do with the statewide restrictions.  Parry, though, says he agrees with the mayor of Indianapolis who believes it’s too soon to start opening things back up.

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