Local News Archives for 2020-06

Hundreds Wait as Free Milk Giveaway Cancelled

(LaPorte, IN) - The mood of hundreds of people showing up for free milk Tuesday in Michigan City and LaPorte soured just a bit when the giveaway was canceled. An extended delay with a truck hauling the milk from Chicago was blamed for having to reschedule the event.

 

Jim Musial, executive director at Citizens Concerned for the Homeless in Michigan City, said a new date for the milk distribution arranged by his organization has not been decided. “Our sincerest apologies to the community,” he said.

 

More than 100 vehicles were in line for the milk outside Marquette Mall in Michigan City where the two-hour distribution was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. There were 70 vehicles outside the PAX Center in LaPorte where the giveaway was supposed to start at 10:30 a.m.

 

Musial said the event was canceled after 11 a.m. when the trucking firm couldn’t guarantee when the milk would arrive. He said 4,000 gallons of milk at both locations combined were supposed to be handed out.

 

The remaining 1,400 gallons were committed to local food pantries. Doug Burrows of LaPorte waited more than 90 minutes before leaving disappointed. He’s been laid off from his maintenance job at the Indiana Toll Road plaza near Rolling Prairie since March 13 because of COVID-19.

 

Burrows said he just recently began receiving unemployment checks and is due to report back to work next week. “It was rough on me for a long time,” he said. The milk was part of the $3 billion in dairy, fresh produce and meat products the United States Department of Agriculture purchased in April to help all parts of the country with hunger brought on by the pandemic.

Musial said his group has distributed 50,000 pounds of USDA food to local pantries over the past four weeks.

 

He said another six weeks of USDA deliveries of food here will begin in early July. “It’s helped a lot of people and it continues to,” Musial said.

New Coronavirus Testing Site Opening in LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - Free COVID-19 testing will be offered in LaPorte at a new site beginning tomorrow.

The testing will be at the Civic Auditorium at 1001 Ridge St. Officials say the site will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The Indiana State Department of Health is behind the new testing location available to anyone living or working in the state. For more information, call 1-888-634-1116.

Mayor Exploring Best Use Options for Police

(LaPorte, IN) - LaPorte Mayor, Tom Dermody, is looking for new ways to keep more police officers on the streets. Dermody says the department is 10 officers short of where it needs to be.

One thing being examined is having others take and file reports on less serious offenses and complaints so officers now bogged down by paperwork can spend more time on the streets.

 

Dermody says he’s also looking to possibly stop officers from doing things firefighters, paramedics, and mental health experts can do better like administering Narcan to overdose patients. Dermody, a former State Representative, will be entering his sixth month in office tomorrow.

Prisoner Firefighters Giving Back to Society

(Michigan City, IN) - Some prisoners who are also firefighters have given back to the community.

According to officials at Indiana State Prison, the offender firefighters donated over $2,100 to the Michigan City Fire Department. 

 

The money was raised by selling wristbands to the offender population and staff at the prison.

Officials say there are 17 offenders who’ve earned firefighter certification with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.

Transporte Returning to Full Service

(LaPorte, IN) - After a long break, TransPorte will again provide rides for trips considered nonessential.  LaPorte City Officials say the service will be fully restored starting on Sunday.

Riders are strongly encouraged to wear a mask. Masks will be kept by drivers for those needing one. Riders are also asked to pay with exact change to limit contact with drivers.

 

Officials say the buses will run from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. No buses will be running from July 3rd to the 5th because of Independence Day.

Police Radio Signals to Remain Scrambled

(LaPorte, IN) - If you have a police scanner, don’t expect the radio signals in the city of LaPorte to be unscrambled. The police signals were scrambled a couple of years ago when Adam Klimczak was chief under the former mayor.

 

Paul Brettin, the current police chief, feels keeping the signals scrambled gives law enforcement an advantage in catching criminals and keeping officers safe. Mayor Tom Dermody agrees with the decision by Brettin who he named as chief prior to becoming mayor on January 1.

 

Police say one advantage to scrambling the signals is increasing the chances of catching drug dealers who would hide or leave when they heard calls about drug activity on the scanners.

Grand Opening for New Playground

(LaPorte, IN) - A new handicapped-accessible playground is about to open in LaPorte. The existing park across from Bethany Lutheran Church at 102 G St. has undergone a complete transformation. The park now has a soft surface with handicapped-accessible playground

equipment.

 

Carrie Garwood with the church said the idea for the improvements stems from a child in a wheelchair having difficulty navigating the grounds and using the equipment. A grand opening ceremony is scheduled for Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. The cost of the improvements exceeded $500,000.

Driver in Crash Taken by Helicopter

(LaPorte, IN) - A LaPorte man was apparently seriously injured in a single-vehicle crash early today.

 

It happened before 1 a.m. on McClung Road near East Shore Parkway. According to LaPorte County Police, 22-year old Benito Pucheta went off a curve and struck a parked car in the driveway of a residence.

 

Pucheta went down an embankment and struck a group of trees. He was taken by helicopter, police said. LaPorte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said Pucheta was unconscious upon arrival but

later opened his eyes and was talking before flown to a hospital. Snyder said the man was extricated from the wreckage. Police said a blood sample was taken from the driver to determine if he had consumed alcohol but the results were still pending.

Boat Sales Propped Up by COVID-19

(New Buffalo, MI) - Some people choosing not to travel because of the health risk posed by COVID-19 are purchasing boats this year as a safer getaway alternative. That’s according to Bob Stratton, owner of Service 1 Marine on Indiana 39 near the Michigan line.

 

Stratton said his boat sales are “probably double what they were last year at this time.” He said life on the water despite the economic crisis triggered by the virus is more possible in some cases this year from lower boat prices and people with disposable income having extra money they would normally spend on vacation.

 

“People want to social distance on a boat.  They’re not really wanting to fly right now,” said Stratton, who started the business outside New Buffalo about 30-years ago. On the flip side, though, some of his winter storage customers still had boats in his yard from deciding not to hit the water this year due to financial strain caused by the virus and the season getting off to a late start.

 

Motorboats in Michigan were not allowed to hit the water until April 24 when Governor Gretchen Whitmer lifted her COVID-19 ban on using the gasoline-powered vessels.

Stratton said the ban kept some boats from getting docked before Memorial Day because of the amount of time storage yards need to reach all customers wanting on the water.

He said some of his customers just recently ordered their boats out of storage when the harbors in Chicago closed at the start of the pandemic reopened in the middle of June.

Those customers like to dock in Chicago for a while before returning to Michigan City and New Buffalo. “For the most part, everybody is going in,” he said.

           

Caravan to Honor Class of 2020

(LaPorte, IN) - A stretch of Lincolnway in downtown LaPorte is going to be closed to honor this year’s Class of 2020. According to state highway officials, Lincolnway will be closed next Monday from Monroe St. to Teegarden St.

 

The purpose is clear the way for a LaPorte High School Class of 2020 caravan. The road closure will last from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Local Restaurants Bouncing Back from Lock Down

(LaPorte, IN) - Local restaurants are buzzing with activity since dine-in service reopened statewide.

Right now, Indiana restaurants are limited to 75 percent Seating capacity. At Burger Bar and Grill on E. Lincolnway, owner Shelly Tanksley says despite the limits business seems to be about as much as before the pandemic.

 

Third Base Bar and Grill reports similar good numbers with owner Kent Johnston saying some of his days seem busier than prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Dine-in service in Indiana is expected to go to full capacity by July 4 under the governor’s reopening strategy if COVID-19 numbers statewide continue to look favorable.

No End in Sight for Providing Flags

(LaPorte, IN) - Things are looking very patriotic in LaPorte’s downtown area. Jim Roy, owner of The Floor Store has once again purchased about 400 flags and all of the equipment needed for their installation. Roy said he started buying the flags in 2001 when the LaPorte Jaycees no longer could afford to buy them. He also was inspired by the terrorist attack in New York City and other parts of the nation in September of 2001.

 

Roy said he has no plans to stop providing the city with flags usually put up by the street department in early June and taken down in the middle of July.

Redamak's Back Open

(New Buffalo, MI) - A well-known restaurant in New Buffalo is back in business. Redamak’s reopened yesterday. The restaurant famous for its hamburgers since 1975 actually opened

on the first of March as they always do for the season, but had to close two weeks later due to the nationwide lockdown brought on by COVID-19. 

 

Right now, dine-in service at restaurants in Michigan is limited to 50-percent capacity. Owner Chuck Maroney said the focus is offering the best possible experience under the social distancing guidelines and curbside delivery.

Veteran Police Officer Retires

(LaPorte, IN) - A long-serving officer with the City of La Porte Police Department retired this week, according to Chief Paul Brettin. After nearly 23 years with the department, Specialist William Bunton completed his service Friday, June 26. Bunton was a patrolman for most of his career and also spent some time working as an evidence technician in the detective bureau. Brettin said Bunton’s experience and leadership will be missed.

 

“Bill has been an incredible asset on our team,” Brettin said. “His many years of experience have made him a true leader and mentor to the rest of the department, and he leaves behind big shoes to fill. Though we’ll miss him, we wish him the best in his retirement. Thank you, Bill, for 22 years of service.” Brettin said the department will hire new officers to fill this position and others. Applicants must be between the ages of 21 and 40. Call the police department at 219-362-9446 for more information.

Two More Housing Properties Condemned

(LaPorte, IN) - The City of La Porte condemned two unsafe properties this week, according to Mayor Tom Dermody and Director of Code Enforcement Jeff Batchelor.

Batchelor and Code Enforcement Officer Dan Drake inspected the rental properties at 207 Grove Street and 701 Maple Avenue and identified various safety and sanitation issues at each location, including construction and electrical problems, water damage and vermin infestation. Batchelor said he and Dermody are working hard to rid the city of dangerous living conditions like the ones found at these locations.

“The mayor has made it clear that this administration will not tolerate unsafe living conditions in La Porte’s rental properties,” Batchelor said. “Our fight is not with local landlords – it is with the dangerous conditions in their rental units. Our residents deserve a safe place to call home, and we will continue our efforts to ensure this is the case.”

Dermody said the city is working with Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski to find temporary housing for tenants.

“Our hope is that the landlords will correct these issues and the tenants can return once units are fixed and cleaned,” Dermody said. “We need affordable housing in our city, but these conditions are unacceptable. We are creating a new standard for living in La Porte, and we expect all rental properties to meet that standard.”

The Grove Street property must be vacated within 60 days, and the Maple Avenue property must be vacated within 180 days. If all defects are remedied and the buildings passes City inspection, the units can be rented again. 

BMV Fees to Resume July 1

(Indianapolis, IN) —The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) reminds Hoosiers administrative penalty fees (late 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 registrations must also be completed before July 1.

 

Administrative penalty fees were waived early in the COVID-19 public health emergency to aid Hoosiers and support the state’s efforts to limit the spread of the virus.

 

 

Using Fireworks Legally Fast Approaching

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City officials are reminding people the use of fireworks is against the law right now. It doesn’t become legal in the city until Monday. Officials say fireworks can be used from June 29 to July 3 from 5 p.m. until two hours prior to sunset.

 

On the fourth of July, using fireworks can occur from 10 a.m. until midnight. Fireworks can also be used from July 5th to the 9th from 5 p.m. until two hours prior to sunset. Officials said fines start at $50 and go to $250 for a third offense. Here in LaPorte, the use of fireworks is allowed starting Sunday. 

Local Middle School Awarded $25,000 in Pepsi Recycling Challenge

(Michigan City, IN) - Congratulations go to Krueger Middle School students, who learned an important lesson this school year: Helping the Earth can be VERY rewarding.

 

Krueger Middle School was notified by PepsiCo that their school finished among the top schools in the nation in the 2020 PepsiCo Recycle Rally Challenge. Throughout the school year, the school collected 194 tons of recycled goods,

 

Krueger Middle School Environmental Science teacher Daisy Lee coordinated the effort. Students and families brought in items to be recycled and weighed for the challenge, which also expanded to the community as several businesses began recycling and hosting collection bins. Participating businesses included LaPorte Insurance Agency, the Elston YMCA, and Anytime Fitness.

With the help of the students, parents, teachers, and the community, Krueger finished 6th in the challenge and received a prize of $25,000. 

 

Body Scanner for Work Release Center

(LaPorte, IN) - A body scanner is being purchased to try and keep drugs out of the work release center in LaPorte.

 

Officials say offenders and staff will go through the scanner daily to make sure nobody is bringing in contraband like drugs tucked into body cavities or swallowed. The cost of the machine is over $100,000.

 

LaPorte County Community Corrections officials said offenders suspected to being in possession of drugs have been scanned at the sheriff’s office but the process since the facilities are a few miles apart was not efficient. The scanner is in response to a couple of work release inmates overdosing, officials said.

Younger Folks Not Bulletproof to Coronavirus

(Indianapolis, IN) - Younger people are contracting coronavirus in higher numbers not just elsewhere but also here in Indiana. According to state health officials, people under 30 now make up over 30 percent of the cases in the state. Officials are appealing for people to exercise caution when going out. Other states are also reporting more cases in people in their 20’s and 30’s.

Future Farmers of America in Cyberspace

(Indianapolis, IN) - The sky is now the limit for current and past members of the National Future Farmers of America to connect and help each other.   

 

A new online “Forever Blue Network” is in service to create opportunities for FFA members exploring career paths and former members looking for qualified individuals to fill job openings in areas like agriculture. The network also gives alumni a chance to mentor current members and users a forum to simply engage in casual conservation or develop friendships with others sharing common interests.

 

“It’s kind of a combination of Facebook and LinkedIn merged together to form this unique community that’s specific to just FFA,” said Joshua Rusk, executive director of National FFA Alumni and Supporters.

 

Rusk said the online network is also open to supporters of FFA headquartered at Indianapolis.

More than 1,600 people have created profiles since the network went online in the spring.

A lot more users are expected to join once word about the network spreads considering FFA has about 700,000 members and over eight million past members.   

 

There are more than 8,600 local FFA chapters throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

 

Rusk said the idea for the network surfaced more than a year ago from FFA students in a production agriculture committee looking for more convenient and effective ways to explore career paths.

 

Previously, Rusk said networking was pretty much restricted to physically

being at FFA conventions and other events or companies involved in their potential career choice.

 

“So, we started to look into how do we take this mentoring opportunity and make it an online experience versus someone doing it from their desk at the office,” he said. The network also provides categories for clicking open to find mentors, mentoring opportunities, job postings, internships, and other things like upcoming events. Rusk said the network can also come in handy to find schools offering FFA programs and like any social media site to learn other things like popular attractions and post pictures. “It creates a space to develop those personal communications and get ideas,” said National FFA spokesperson Kristi Meyer.

 

Rusk said the network will also be used to try and reach out to the over seven million past members without contact information on file with the organization to bring them up to date on FFA happenings.

 

He also said the network is a way to further the FFA mission of developing youth for success now and in the future.

 

“That was kind of the goal for what the network was for to grow the FFA community,” Rusk said.

Meyer said only present and past FFA members along with FFA supporters can join and they must apply at FFA.org.

 

FFA was founded in 1925 at Virginia Polytechnic Institute by agriculture teachers Henry C. Groseclose, Walter Newman, Edmund Magill and Harry Sanders.

 

It was originally known as Future Farmers of Virginia but in 1928 became a nationwide organization called Future Farmers of America.

 

FFA is presently the largest of the career and technical student organizations in schools in the U.S.

Kingsbury Development Plans Ongoing

(Kingsbury, IN) - Longstanding efforts to further develop Kingsbury Industrial Park are ongoing.

Officials report progress in getting two major rail lines connected to serve the park.  Matt Reardon with the LaPorte County Office of Economic and Community Development said there’s renewed interest from a couple of landowners to finish some of the improvements on the existing rail inside the park and make the connections to the major rail lines nearby. Officials also report legal proceedings have started to obtain easements needed to make those rail connections. It’s believed two major rail lines serving the park would bring more new companies and create hundreds, if not, more new jobs.

Teenage Drowning Victim Identified

(Porter, IN) - A drowning victim here in northwest Indiana has been identified.  18-year-old Dominic Snovicky was from Plainfield, Illinois. Authorities say he was at Indiana Dunes State Park when he went under the water late Tuesday morning. He was recovered from the lake about 90 minutes later. Authorities say it appears the teenager was hit by a wave while beach hazard warnings were up because of dangerous swimming conditions created by high waves.

Ship 'N Shore Festival Cancelled by Coronavirus

(New Buffalo, MI) - Another major local event has been canceled due to coronavirus. The Ship N Shore Festival in New Buffalo will not happen this year. It was supposed to occur the first week in August. Organizers of the event say COVID-19 is surging in certain areas of the country and they want to make sure cases here remain low. So businesses and tourism can continue to function here since the state has reopened its economy. Other local events already canceled include the LaPorte County Fair.

Prison for INDOT Worker Collision

(LaPorte, IN) - A LaPorte man has been sentenced for seriously injuring a state highway worker while driving drunk. Dustin Landry received two years in prison and six months probation Tuesday in LaPorte Circuit Court.

 

In September, police say he drove into the back end of a state highway truck at E. Lincolnway and Boston St. in LaPorte. The crew was restriping the highway at night with paint inside a tank on the

truck. 

 

Police say the paint heated to 500 degrees splashed from the tank and landed on one of the state highway workers. Jerald Bailey wound up with severe burns to his arms and hands. Police say Landry was not injured. His blood-alcohol level was about four times the legal limit.

No Jumping into Lake Signs Now Up

(LaPorte, IN) - No jumping into the lake signs are now up in LaPorte. The signs are up at the Waverly Road bridge above Pine Lake. Mayor Tom Dermody says it’s against the law to jump into

the water from the bridge. Dermody said he wants everyone to enjoy the summer safely and jumping off the bridge into shallow water is not something that should be practiced.

Officials say there hasn’t been a lot of jumping off that bridge for some reason

until this year.

Larger Wall Sought to Hold Back Lake

(New Buffalo, MI) - The city of New Buffalo is preparing for the record high Lake Michigan to go even higher. The city is applying for a grant to help pay for a $2 million wall. A few months ago, a short temporary block wall was put up along the Galien River from the Whittaker St. bridge to the municipal beach parking lot to hold back the river when it rises during storms packing strong northerly winds.

 

City Manager Dave Richards said this wall would be a permanent fixture about a foot higher than what’s already there. If the grant application is approved, Richards said the city would pay about half the cost and construction likely would not start until 2022. 

 

The U.S. Army Corps. Of Engineers is forecasting the Great Lakes could rise another foot above current levels in the coming months.

Businesses Expanding on Sidewalks Considered

(New Buffalo, MI) - Measures could be taken help businesses in New Buffalo struggling from COV-19. The city council is considering allowing restaurants and bars to extend service to public areas like sidewalks.

 

The same thing is proposed for retail stores. City Manager Dave Richards says some people are afraid to go inside due to coronavirus and capacity is restricted by the state to 50 percent. If approved, Richards says businesses should be able to expand outdoors by the fourth of July weekend.

Using Fireworks Locally Not Legal Until Sunday

(LaPorte, IN) - LaPorte residents are being reminded of using fireworks right now is prohibited.

Mayor Tom Dermody says the use of fireworks isn’t allowed until June 28 under city ordinance.

It’s ok to use fireworks until the 9th of next month. Dermody is asking people to be respectful to others in response to numerous complaints about the use of fireworks. He says the fine for violating the ordinance is $300.

Dairy Farmer Relives Indy 500 Dream

KINGSBURY - Memories of handing the customary bottle of cold milk to the winning driver of the Indianapolis 500 are being stirred in a select number of dairy farmers statewide, including one from LaPorte County.

 

Kim Minich, who said her Victory Circle experience is not just fresh in her mind but many others wanting to know what it was like. “It was amazing.  I still get a lot of people that ask about it,” said Minich.

 

          Minich and the select number of Hoosier dairy farmers given the honor since 2006 are being presented with roadside signs this week by the American Dairy Association Indiana.

The signs list the name and when the farmer took part in the tradition dating back to when Louis Meyer asked for buttermilk after winning the 1936 race.    

The signs are limited to dairy farmers in recent history because 2006 is when the ADAI took charge of handing milk to the winning driver.

 

“Whoever drives down the road knows this is a very special dairy farm,” said Allie Rieth, a spokesperson for the ADAI out of Indianapolis.

 

          Reith said the sign presentations during National Dairy Month also help promote the hard work in getting milk to store coolers and this year’s race being pushed back from late May to August 23 due to coronavirus.

          Minich was given her sign Tuesday at the family’s dairy farm between Kingsbury and Union Mills. She said the sign will go up at the family’s largest dairy operation in Stillwell about five miles east of LaPorte. She and her husband, Luke, have about 1,200 cows producing some three million gallons of milk a year at three locations.

 

Minich, 39, never milked a cow until 2009 when she and Luke moved from Indianapolis to get involved in the farm his family has owned since 1909. She later became a member of the ADAI board of directors, who asked her to present the milk at Victory Circle. She presented a cold bottle of milk to Will Power, the winning driver from 2018.

 

Minich said her Indianapolis Motor Speedway experience brought back memories of her father taking her to the time trials while growing up in Anderson about 40 miles northeast of Indianapolis. She made sure her father and entire family were there for the festivities that included some drivers milking a cow during a luncheon prior to the race. “We kind of made it a family affair so it was a really nice memory to have,” said Minich.

 

A picture of her in Victory Circle is what she uses in her profile on Facebook. She also brought home the empty bottle she presented to the driver. She balances her mostly bookkeeping work on the farm with her duties as a nurse practitioner for Indiana Health Centers and a teacher of nursing at St. Mary’s College.

Health Food Store Opens Downtown

(LaPorte, IN) - A new business has opened in downtown LaPorte. Apple Valley Natural Foods is at 613 Michigan Ave. across from the courthouse. Mayor Tom Dermody, who was at the ribbon-cutting Monday, said the business fits the healthier lifestyles being promoted in the city. A wide selection of natural vegetarian foods are offered.  Apple Valley Natural Foods has five other locations in Michigan and one in Illinois.

Traffic Stop Results in OWI Arrest

(LaPorte County, IN) - LaPorte County Police say a man traveling way too fast was arrested for drunk driving. 31-year old Marvyn Mejia was allegedly clocked at 89 miles per hour on State Road 2 near Hudson Lake over the weekend. Police say the driver explained he spent the day in Chicago and was in a hurry to get back home to South Bend because he was hungry. Police say he refused a breathalyzer test after the officer discovered several open beer cans in the back seat.

State Investing More on Remote Learning

(Indianapolis, IN) - The state is investing millions into e-learning. Governor Eric Holcomb has announced over $60 million for remote learning in response to higher demand created by the Coronavirus. The money will be dispersed in grants to local schools, according to the

governor. Making more devices available and connectivity are among the things to be funded.

Mixed Bag for Local Farmers

(LaCrosse, IN) - It’s a mixed bag for local farmers right now. Some have received too much rain.

Others could use some more. Matt Shafer grows corn and soybeans in the LaCrosse area.

For him, Shafer says things were a bit wet early on but lately, things became dry enough for him to turn on his irrigation system so the rain yesterday was welcomed.

 

Shafer says other local farms, though, have received a lot more rain than he has recently with some areas receiving two inches or more yesterday and similar amounts in previous days.

Shafer says he was able to finish his planting 50 days before last year when the spring was historically wet.

Local Investor Sounds Alarm on Shady Stocks

(LaPorte, IN) - A local investor is warning the public about what he considers red flags in the stock market. Tim Stabosz says there are some low priced stocks skyrocketing in value, but not

for legitimate reasons.He says some people are promoting certain stocks to lure investors then once driving the price way up they sell. Stabosz says buyers of those stocks jumping in while the prices are rising are left with hefty losses. Stabosz says such rigging of stock prices is illegal and he wouldn’t be surprised to see investigation and possible charges at some point in the future.

Golf Outing Fund Raiser Friday

(LaPorte, IN) - A local civic organization has a fundraising event coming up. The Kiwanis Club of La Porte is hosting its 17th annual golf outing on Friday. It’s going to be at Beechwood Golf Course.

Officials say the fund-raiser allows Kiwanis Club to support various organizations and causes such as Riley's Children's Hospital, Play For Jake Foundation, 4-H, Meals on Wheels and youth baseball

and softball.

 

The golf outing begins with registration and lunch at 10:30 a.m. followed by a shot-gun start at 11:30. The cost is $360 for a foursome and hole sponsors are available for $90.

Survey Finds Surge in Sad Faces

(Chicago, IL) - More Americans are unhappy than at any point in the past half-century. COVID-19 has a lot to do with it. That’s according to a new University of Chicago survey showing just 14 percent of Americans say they’re very happy.

 

  • 62 percent said they are pretty happy.
  • 23 percent said they are not too happy.

The study shows half of Americans often or sometimes feel isolated up from 23-percent two years ago.

Fast Food Restaurant Eyes Fire Station

(LaPorte, IN) - A fast-food restaurant is planned where a fire station now stands in LaPorte. A $375,000 offer has been made for the fire station on the city’s east side. Bert Cook is the executive director of the LaPorte Economic Advancement partnership. 

 

He says the one-acre parcel is suitable for just a limited number of uses like a fast-food restaurant or gas station. He could not say what type of fast food restaurant would be going up because of the offer still pending final approval by the city council.  The fire station will be torn down once construction of the new one on Daytona St. off E. Lincolnway is finished later this year.

Kids Rescued from Lake Michigan

(Union Pier, MI) - Seven children found out Lake Michigan is no ordinary body of water after rescued a good distance from the shoreline at Union Pier. The children ages 7 to 13 were a bit shaken up but did not require medical attention.

 

“They were just a little scared and learned a big life lesson,” said Mary Jaconetti, the mother of one of the children. The Chicago woman said the lake was like glass on June 9 when the children ventured out on two paddleboards and a floating dock at Berrien Beach at Lakeshore Drive and Goodwin St.

 

At some point, she said the children wanting to go further out into the water, so they removed the weight anchoring the floating dock to the bottom of the lake.  After drifting a bit too far out, Jaconetti said the children tried paddling back only to have more distance added between them and the shoreline despite the lake being calm. 

 

“There must have been a strong current underneath that was kind of pulling them out slowly,” she said. Eventually, Jaconetti said a call was placed to 911 after realizing the children now a few hundred yards away were not gaining any ground with their paddles.  She and the other panic-stricken parents all visiting each other for the weekend also flagged down a man passing by on a jetski.

 

Jaconetti said the watercraft operator brought back two of the children while the rest were grabbed by firefighters approaching on a rescue boat. All of the children had on lifejackets, she said. Jaconetti said all of the parents agreed there will be stricter standards for the children if they ever want to return to the water on the floatation devices. 

 

One of them will be not to detach the weight from the floating dock. “It was a very nerve-racking period of time and I hope others will learn from the experience,” she said.

Officer "Resting Comfortably" Following Semi Crash

(LaPorte, IN) - A LaPorte County Police officer is recovering from a collision with a semi-truck over the weekend. Andy Hynek was taken by helicopter to a South Bend hospital and released a few hours later. 

 

Police say he was still very stiff and sore yesterday but resting comfortably at home. The collision happened Friday night at U.S 20 and 450 East. Police say the westbound Hynek was hit by a southbound semi-truck that failed to yield at the intersection. 

 

Hynek, a 20-year member of the sheriff’s office, was extricated from his police vehicle. The 50-year-old truck driver from Texas was not injured. Police say the use of alcohol is not suspected. U.S 20 was closed for several hours while investigators worked the scene of the crash.

Officer Injured in Crash

Rolling Prairie - A LaPorte County Sheriff’s officer was injured in a car crash late Friday night.

The accident happened just after 10:00 p.m. at the intersection of US 20 and CR 450 East in Rolling Prairie.

 

According to a statement issued by the Sheriff’s department Saturday morning, Captain Andy Hynek was westbound on 20 when a semi-truck pulled into his path. Hynek, who complained of pain to the right side of his body, was extricated from his mangled patrol car and airlifted to Memorial Hospital in South Bend. He was released from the hospital a few hours later. Authorities did not elaborate on the extent or severity of his injuries. 

 

The truck driver, 50-year-old James Futch of Dallas, Texas was uninjured. He was cited for failure to yield. A toxicology report is pending, but alcohol does not appear to be a factor in the crash.

US 20 was closed for several hours overnight during the investigation.

Open Voting by Mail Sought for November

(LaPorte County, IN) - LaPorte County officials want more people to vote by mail again in November. The county commissioners are asking the secretary of state to allow mail-in voting for any reason. The secretary of state did so in the primary because of COVID-19 but the decision came weeks before the primary. Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora says doing so now will allow a lot more time for getting prepared. 

 

Normally, people have to have a valid reason like being out of town to vote by mail.

Rate Study Occurring for Water and Sewer

(LaPorte, IN) - There could be an increase in water and sewer fees in LaPorte in the future. A rate study is going to be conducted. The purpose is to see what should be charged to maintain and

improve the systems. Mayor Tom Dermody says he believes the rates are too low compared

to what’s charged in surrounding areas. Dermody said nobody wants to raise anyone’s rates but consumers want reliable water and sewer service and enough money needs to be there to keep up on maintenance and improvements to the systems. The city has been separating sewer and stormwater lines over the years to alleviate flooding in areas with standing water problems.

But, officials say it would cost 80 million dollars to separate the rest of the separated lines.

New Principal at LPHS

(LaPorte IN) - LaPorte High School has a new principal. Chris Alber was named principal of the high school by the school board this week. Alber has been principal at Riley Elementary for the past six years. He replaces Ben Tonagel recently named to one of the assistant superintendent positions replacing Steve Manering who retired after a more than 40-year career in education.

MCPD Complaint Review Process Shuffled

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police have changed how complaints about officers are looked into. According to police, an Internal Affairs Investigation Committee has been formed.

The committee is made up of three active members of the department appointed by chief Dion Campbell. Police say they will investigate internal complaints unless the chief believes an

outside agency like State Police should do so. Previously, police say complaints about officers were looked into by one of the assistant chiefs and/or a supervisor. Campbell says the new approach will assure all complaints of misconduct are thoroughly investigated and reviewed at different levels in the department.

Black Leader Serves Mixed Feelings on "Aunt Jemima"

(Michigan City, IN) - A leader of the black community doesn’t mind if the picture of “Aunt Jemima” on the iconic brand of syrup and pancake mix stays feeling her image today is more favorable to the race.

            Wes Scully, president of the LaPorte County chapter for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, does support the decision to give the product a different name.

            Scully said the name “Aunt Jemima” and her previous look as a servant reflects the days of slavery and later the time period where the unkind portrayal of blacks in film and advertising was rooted in racism.

            Scully to satisfy people upset by her days being numbered suggested keeping the more contemporary image of Aunt Jemima while renaming the brand “Madea.”

Madea defined in black culture as “Mother Dear” is a name African-Americans often give to a strong, loving matriarch of the family.

“That’s the figure they may have transitioned into with the different

changes on Aunt Jemima to make it fit more with the Madea of today,” Scully said.

He believes such a name change to go with the current image would be a

more accurate and uplifting reflection of a race that can use more positive examples and hope.

Pepsi owned Quaker Oats has decided to remove Aunt Jemima from the logo of the iconic breakfast food products and rename the brand in the coming months.

Scully said the birth of the Aunt Jemima character was a product of

systemic racism designed to keep African-Americans down by hurting their self-esteem.

            “It’s like anything else. If you tell somebody you’re ugly long enough, guess what?   You’re going to believe it.  If you tell somebody you’re a fat black maid with a rag on your head, the next thing you know you got people walking around dressed like that,” he said.

He said changes now considered for Uncle Ben’s Rice, Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup and other products also viewed as a racial stereotype by some people are other steps needed to further weaken the connection of blacks to a way of life now ancient history.  

            “We got to move forward.  We got to leave the old South dead,” Scully said.

            Overall, Scully said changing the image of products like Aunt Jemima doesn’t scratch the surface of what needs to be overcome to bring a measureable positive impact to the lives of African-Americans.

“If they change it, so be it.  If they don’t change it, so be it.  We got a lot more troubles than that like economics.  Empowerment is our biggest problem,” he said.

           

 

Supreme Court Decision Hailed Locally

(LaPorte County, IN) - A recent US Supreme Court decision is being hailed by the LaPorte County Commissioners. The high court ruled discrimination at the workplace cannot occur based on sexual orientation.  

 

Last night, the commissioners adopted a resolution supporting the decision. Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora says gays and lesbians working for county government were already protected under a local ordinance adopted five years ago. Legal experts say the decision casts doubt on the ability to discriminate based on religious freedom.

New Hospital Doors Opening Soon

(LaPorte, IN) - A new miniature hospital in LaPorte will begin seeing patients soon.  The $21 million Franciscan Beacon hospital along State Road 2 on the city’s west side had a ribbon-cutting last week. Dr. Lars Kneller says the doors will open for patients likely before the end of the month.

He says only local physicians will see patients in a more hometown setting. Patients with more serious or complex issues will be transferred to Franciscan and Memorial hospitals at Michigan City and South Bend. There are eight in-patient beds and 10 beds in the full-service 24-hour emergency room. Kneller, one of the board members at the new hospital, said they’re

waiting for final approvals downstate before opening the doors.

City Hall Reopening Soon to the Public

(Michigan City, IN) - City Hall in Michigan City is reopening to the public next month on a limited basis. According to the mayor’s office, people can visit city hall beginning July 6 by appointment only. The city council and other boards will start meeting in person again starting July 6th.

 

However, those meetings will occur at Krueger Memorial Park for the rest of the year.

According to the mayor’s office, the off-site meetings will allow city hall to be thoroughly cleaned before the doors open again the following day.

Courthouse Construction Cleared to Start

(LaPorte County, IN) - Construction at the courthouse in Michigan City has been given permission to start. The LaPorte County Commissioners last night also set a cost ceiling for the project.

The work cannot exceed 22.4 million dollars. County attorney Doug Biege says the ceiling is based on a vast majority of the bids accepted for the project. He says some of the work has to be rebid but the cost is coming in under budget. The century-old courthouse on U.S 12 will also be remodeled with an addition doubling the size of the courthouse.

 

Victims of Triple Fatality Identified

(St. Joseph County, IN) - Three people killed in a motor vehicle crash outside New Carlisle have been identified. Police say the victims were 24-year-old Sean Homer of New Carlisle, 39-year-old Joshua Kati and 39-year-old Krystal Alwine both of South Bend. 

 

Police say Kati and Alwine were in a car traveling the wrong way on State Road 2. They hit an SUV driven by Homer. The car burst into flames after the Sunday night collision. Police say toxicology tests were still pending.

Repaving Wrapping up on 1000 North

(LaPorte County, IN) - A major road in LaPorte County has been resurfaced.  The work has been occurring on the entire stretch of County Road 1000 North. LaPorte County Engineer Jay Sullivan says the new surface has been laid. Just a few punch list items have been done before the project is totally complete, he said. The project was funded with help from a state road money grant.

2020 Outlook Not Good for Farmers

(West Lafayette, IN) - Government COVID-19 relief and crop insurance payments are expected to play a larger role in keeping farms in the U.S above water for 2020.

 

That was among the projections during a June 12 webinar by Purdue University agricultural economists Jim Mintert and Michael Langemeier.

 

Langemeier said net farm profits have not been above the long term average since 2013 but the outlook calls for 2020 to be the second-worst in terms of revenue left after operating expenses since 2007.

 

The worst year for net profits during the time period was 2015.

The red ink forecast for 2020 is not expected to approach those dismal levels but could be similar.

 

Mintert said more COVID-19 relief payments along with crop insurance claims and an unexpected increase in low prices would help but not enough to put farmers close to the much higher earnings from 2007 to 2013. 

 

“Even with the fairly big government payments we’re still looking at a net farm income that’s substantially lower than what we recorded in 2018 and 2019,” Langemeier said. Mintert said some farmers may have taken advantage of unexpected financial opportunities in mid-March when the profit ratio for soybeans jumped way ahead of corn.

 

The price of corn noticeably dropped because of a 45 to a 50-percent reduction in demand for ethanol from less gasoline consumed because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. Mintert estimated one million or more acres farmers originally intended to use for corn may have gone toward soybeans to achieve higher crop returns. 

 

He said the sharp price ratio disparity might have come too late for some farmers with supplies already in hand for planting but others could have had time to make the switch.

The actual planted acres report from USDA is expected to be released at the end of June or early July. “We think some people responded to that. We don’t have a grip on how many.  That’s what the acreage report is going to tell us in a couple of weeks,” Mintert said.

 

Mintert said the good news for corn growers is the demand for ethanol last week stood at 24-percent of what it was in January since the loosening of stay at home restrictions and should go higher during the upcoming summer travel season. “That’s a positive for corn prices throughout the corn belt,” he said. About 40-percent of U.S. corn is used annually for ethanol production.

 

Langemeier said profitability for soybeans could be similar to 2017 and 2018. “Those were some very positive years for soybeans, he said. Mintert said USDA projections of more exports from China are another factor working in favor of soybeans but given tensions between the countries whether that happens remains to be seen.

 

Also not helping corn prices are projections of year-ending stocks increasing from 15-percent to 22-percent this year. Several months ago, Mintert said USDA projected record yields for corn at nearly 16 billion bushels or about 2.4 billion acres more than 2019. He said the sudden price ratio change favoring soybeans before seeds went into the soil could affect the outcome of the early projections.   “A one to two million acre shift from corn to soybeans could easily happen,” he said.

           

LaPorte Sends Notice to Landlords

(LaPorte, IN) - An apartment house in LaPorte being condemned might be the first of other rental units ordered shut down by the city under an aggressive stance by the mayor against deplorable living conditions.  “Enough is enough,” said mayor Tom Dermody on what he feels is a problem ignored for too long.  A five-unit apartment house at 705 Maple Ave was condemned by the city Tuesday.

 

Jeff Batchelor, the city’s code enforcement director, said a recent inspection uncovered numerous electrical and plumbing violations including a sewer pipe in the basement held together by duct tape. He said other violations included severe cockroach infestation. 

 

“Anything that you moved there was roaches behind everything,” he said.  He said the structure of the building is in good shape “but there’s work to do.” Batchelor said the owner has 30 days to bring the property into compliance or the city could start the process of having it torn down.

 

Among the other properties not condemned but put on notice is Monroe Street Apartments containing 46 living units.  “I’m still working with the owner to make the repairs.  That’s a lot of people to disperse if it would come to that.  Hopefully, it doesn’t,” Batchelor said.

 

He said those properties along with a privately owned house on Clear Lake Boulevard are also coming under more intense scrutiny for a history of behavior leading to numerous responses by police and other emergency personnel.

 

People living at chronic nuisance properties under city ordinance are subject to a minimum of $150 fine on each response. The city is working with the Center Township Trustee’s office to find housing for displaced residents. 

 

Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski said her concern is adding to homelessness locally until she can find housing for people forced out especially if there’s a large wave.

 

Dermody said people in neglected housing deserve better and landlords must be held accountable before something tragic like a fire could happen.  “People should not have to live in sub-human conditions.  Some of these properties have been like this for many years. I hope the public understands,” Dermody said.

 

Charges in Suspected Stabbing of Cousin

(Michigan City, IN) - Charges have been filed for a woman being seriously wounded with a knife in Michigan City. 45-year old Esther Stone was being held on a $25,000 bond. According to police, Stone and the victim are cousins. The victim was airlifted to another hospital due to the severity of her injuries. It happened Monday at about 5 p.m. in the 100 Block of Maple St. Police say the 32-year-old victim had a suspected knife wound to her neck.

 

Police say the victim was hurt after accusing Stone of stealing from their grandmother.

According to police, Stone was taken into custody without incident, and the suspected weapon was recovered.

LaPorte Man Captured in Pursuit

(LaPorte County, IN) - A LaPorte man was captured following a high-speed chase from the Michigan City area this morning. The pursuit ended in the city of LaPorte. LaPorte County Police say a call about a man trying to run a woman off Interstate 94 triggered the chase about 1:30 a.m.

Police say stop sticks flattened the suspect’s tires near State Road 2 and 150 East.

 

The vehicle stopped on E. Lincolnway near Whitehead Road. Police say the driver refused to get out until chemicals were placed in the vehicle. He was then taken into custody. 40-year-old Paco Libra was being held on multiple counts including resisting law enforcement.

More Gunfire in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - In Michigan City, more gunfire is under investigation. Police say 20 to 30 shots were fired over the weekend in the area of W. 9th and Wabash streets. A 17-year-old female with a suspected gunshot wound along with a 21-year old man wound up at the hospital. Police say their injuries were not life-threatening. At least two vehicles suffered suspected gunfire related damage. No arrests have been reported. Anyone with information is asked to contact the police.

Police say what led up to the incident was unclear.

Apartment House Condemned

(LaPorte, IN) - Landlords in LaPorte are again being put on notice. According to the Mayor’s office, steps were taken today to condemn an apartment house at 705 Maple Ave. At this morning’s board of public works meeting, Mayor Tom Dermody said it’s time troubled housing units shape up or ship out. 

 

Mayor Dermody also said his office is working with the Center Township Trustee, Lisa Pierzakowski, to find new homes for displaced residents. At least two other properties have been singled out by the Mayor’s office for possible condemnation including Monroe Street Apartments housing more than 40 people across from the YMCA.

Contract Awarded for Trail

(LaPorte, IN) - The effort to reap full potential from its lakes continues in LaPorte.

The city’s Board of Public Works and Safety on Tuesday approved a $740,751 contract for a trail and other amenities to go in along Lakeshore Drive beside Stone Lake.

 

Park Department Superintendent Mark Schreiber said the project awarded to Gariup Construction out of Gary will start in July and be finished by late August or early September.

The first step was taken last year when motor vehicle travel on Lakeshore Drive was reduced to one way from Craven Drive to Grangemouth Road.

 

The existing surface will be taken out and replaced with new asphalt. Schreiber said one side will be strictly for vehicles. A 10-foot wide trail will be on the other side with a median separating both lanes, he said. Other amenities include scenic overlooks with some extending out into the lake for tying off a boat or kayak. Native plants will also go in to further dress up a shoreline where unsightly stone and concrete slabs were dumped years ago to help with flood control.

 

 “It’s just not very attractive for what is really one of the most beautiful, pristine inner-city lakes in the state,” Schreiber said. Leigh Morris of 424 Lakeshore Drive said he welcomes the changes to what’s been sort of a neglected shoreline. “I think people see it’s going to make it an even nicer area,” he said. 

 

Similar work has already occurred along Clear Lake featuring a trail created by closing Hoelocker Drive to vehicular traffic and designated parking for fishing. 200 resort-type condominiums along Clear Lake are scheduled to start going up next month. 

 

Schreiber said the work beside Stone Lake is part of the strategy for making LaPorte healthier physically and economically. “We’re going to really have a great diamond there, something we can really polish and open up to those neighborhoods and well as the entire community,” he said. A grant from the Healthcare Foundation of LaPorte is paying the brunt of the cost, he said.

Transporte Going Cashless

(LaPorte, IN) - Riders of Transporte will be able to pay without cash in the future.  The city of LaPorte is moving toward a cashless system for its public transportation buses.  Debit and credit cards will be one option. Another is downloading a pass on your cell phone.

 

Beth West, Director of Transporte, said the cell phone pass can be shown to the driver to board a bus and the system being looked at is already being used in Valparaiso and Gary. West says a cash box is also being looked into for people to still pay with cash and receive correct change without engaging in exchanges with drivers.

Offer to Buy Outgoing Fire Station

(LaPorte, IN) - There’s an offer to purchase the fire station on LaPorte’s east side.  

 

The Board of Works today received an offer for $375,000. The fire station will be torn down and some type of restaurant will go up on the one-acre parcel.  

 

Bert Cook, executive director of the LaPorte Economic Advancement Partnership, said some type of restaurant will go up on the one-acre parcel under purchase requirements established by the city. The offer will go before the city council for final approval next month. A new much larger fire station off E. Lincolnway is going up in its place.

COVID-19 Testing Open for Anyone

(Indianapolis, IN) - Anyone can now be tested for COVID-19 here in Indiana. Previously, testing had to be ordered by a doctor.  In LaPorte, testing is available to anyone by appointment only at HealthLinc at 400 Teegarden St., Beacon Medical Group at 900 I St. and LaPorte Hospital Urgent Care at 508 Legacy Plaza West.  In Michigan City, people can go to HealthLinc at 710 Franklin St. and the state department of health branch on W. Pahs Road.

Gun Related Arrest on U.S 30

(LaPorte County, IN) - LaPorte County Police arrested an out of state man clocked at nearly 100 miles per hour over the weekend. Police say 44-year-old Jerrell Coleman had a loaded gun.

 

It was illegal for him to carry the weapon due to a history of being a serious violent felon. The Georgia man was pulled over on U.S 30 on Sunday. Police say sheriff’s deputies have removed five handguns from local roadways since the end of May.

Outlook Not Good for Farmers

(West Lafayette, IN) - Government COVID-19 relief and crop insurance payments are expected to play a larger role in keeping farms in the U.S above water for 2020.

 

That was among the projections during a June 12 webinar by Purdue University agricultural economists Jim Mintert and Michael Langemeier.

 

 Langemeier said net farm profits have not been above the long term average since 2013 but the outlook calls for 2020 to be the second-worst in terms of revenue left after operating expenses since 2007.

 

The worst year for net profits during the time period was 2015. The red ink forecast for 2020 is not expected to approach those dismal levels but could be similar. Mintert said more COVID-19 relief payments along with crop insurance claims and an unexpected increase in low prices would help but not enough to put farmers close to the much higher earnings from 2007 to 2013.  

 

“Even with the fairly big government payments we’re still looking at a net farm income that’s substantially lower than what we recorded in 2018 and 2019,” Langemeier said. Mintert said some farmers may have taken advantage of unexpected financial opportunities in mid-March when the profit ratio for soybeans jumped way ahead of corn. The price of corn noticeably dropped because of a 45 to a 50-percent reduction in demand for ethanol from less gasoline consumed because of COVID-19 travel restrictions. Mintert estimated one million or more acres farmers originally intended to use for corn may have gone toward soybeans to achieve higher crop returns.

 

He said the sharp price ratio disparity might have come too late for some farmers with supplies already in hand for planting but others could have had time to make the switch. The actual planted acres report from USDA is expected to be released at the end of June or early July.

 

“We think some people responded to that. We don’t have a grip on how many.  That’s what the acreage report is going to tell us in a couple of weeks,” Mintert said.

 

Mintert said the good news for corn growers is the demand for ethanol last week stood at 24-percent of what it was in January since the loosening of stay at home restrictions and should go higher during the upcoming summer travel season.

 

“That’s a positive for corn prices throughout the corn belt,” he said. About 40-percent of U.S. corn is used annually for ethanol production.

 

Langemeier said profitability for soybeans could be similar to 2017 and 2018. “Those were some very positive years for soybeans, he said. Mintert said USDA projections of more exports from China is another factor working in favor of soybeans but given tensions between the countries whether that happens remains to be seen.

 

Also working against corn prices is the year ending stocks forecast to climb from 15-percent to 22-percent this year.

 

Several months ago, Mintert said USDA projected record yields for corn at nearly 16 billion bushels or about 2.4 billion acres more than 2019. He said the sudden price ratio change favoring soybeans before seeds went into the ground could affect the outcome of the early projections.  “A one to two million acre shift from corn to soybeans could easily happen,” he said.

           

             

Vacation Rentals Open Again

(New Buffalo, MI) - Vacation rentals in Michigan are open again and seeing good response from people eager to bust loose after cooped up from COVID-19 restrictions in the state.

            John Nastis with the Harbor Country Vacation Rental Association said the focus under the loosened restrictions is on both a pleasurable and safe experience for their guests.

            “We’re ready to do it in a very safe way.  We have a lot of protocols and a lot of good guidelines for a safe reopening,” he said.

            Nastis said it’s been an extremely tough couple of months financially for vacation rental owners.

He’s been fortunate to have some limited income from his two rental properties in Union Pier from guests booking month long stays not under the short term rental ban lifted by the governor recently as Michigan moves toward reopening its economy.

            He’s already had a decent number of short term rental bookings starting June 19 but he’s not sure what the rest of the season will hold because of cancellations during the COVID-19 lockdown and some people choosing to wait until next year from lingering fears about exposure to the virus.

            Nastis said he’s hoping the season typically at its strongest from mid-June through August will extend into late summer and early fall to help make up for the revenue losses.

            “This season will be totally different.  We don’t know that it’s going to bring,” he said.

            Vacation rentals are a major driver for the local economy with businesses relying heavily on customers from outside the area coming here and venturing out into the community.

            A lot of jobs are also created by vacation rentals forced to noticeably scale back their hiring for building and grounds maintenance and housekeepers.

            Nastis said safety precautions following CDC and industry recommendations include earlier check outs to provide additional time to clean the homes for incoming guests.

            Among the other measures are washing sheets and other bed linens at local laundromats equipped with washers and dryers operating at higher temperatures than machines on site.

            “Our main industry is tourism and we’re the mechanism that brings them here.  For travel, I think it’s one of the safer options of being at a house with your family,” Nastis said.

            New Buffalo City Manager Dave Richards said he’s pleased another piece of the puzzle for local economy back in business.

He’s also especially happy vacation rental owners will have money coming in once again to help meet the monthly mortgages on their properties.

            “I expect things will return to normal,” Richards said.

           

Man, 90, Charged with Child Molesting

(Michigan City, IN) - A 90-year-old Michigan City man is charged with child molesting. Russell Albano is accused of kissing and fondling an eight-year-old for the past three years.

 

According to court documents, the victim said it happened most recently around Christmas time.

During the investigation, police say a 25-year-old woman alleged she also was molested by Albano several times as a child.

 

A few others also claimed Albano put on pornography for them to watch. Albano was being held in the LaPorte County Jail on a $100,000 bond.

Traffic Stop Arrests

(LaPorte County, IN) TRAFFIC STOP PRODUCES TWO ARRESTS AND THE CONFISCATION OF A FIREARM

 

Last night at approximately 9:51 PM, Sergeant Jeff Wright was traveling eastbound on US 20 approaching CR 450 East.  He observed a vehicle in excess of the posted speed limit traveling westbound on US 20 approaching him.  Sergeant Wright activated his dash-mounted radar unit.  The speed of the vehicle was measured at 100 miles per hour.  Sergeant Wright initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle near the intersection of US 20 and 350 East.

 

The driver was identified as Ankoma H. KIRK (20 YOA) of South Bend.  A female passenger was identified as Ladericka R. BANKS (20 YOA) of Elkhart.  As the traffic stop progressed, a loaded firearm was located within the passenger compartment of the vehicle.  KIRK and BANKS were taken into custody.

 

KIRK was arrested and transported to the La Porte County Jail (LCJ).  He was arrested for the following offenses:

  • Felon in Possession of a Firearm (Level 5 Felony)
  • Obliterating Identifying Marks on a Firearm (Level 5 Felony)
  • Reckless Driving (C-Misdemeanor)
  • Operating While Never Licensed (C-Misdemeanor)

KIRK remains housed in the LCJ and is being held on a $15,005.00 cash-only bond through Superior Court I.

 

BANKS was arrested and transported to the LCJ.  She was arrested for following the offense:

  • ABC Violation (Minor Consumption of Alcohol), C-Misdemeanor

This afternoon, BANKS was released from the LCJ on her own recognizance.

 

Assisting: Captain Brian Piergalski, Deputy Jet Balenia and Deputy David Grimberg

 

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

Satisfied Election Board Certifies Primary Results

(LaPorte, IN) - The LaPorte County Election Board convinced there were no improprieties and the final tabulations were accurate certified the results of the June 2 primary on Friday.

           The unanimous decision followed assurances mistakes during the delayed vote tallying were strictly from human error and the corrected figures did not change the outcome of any of the races.

            Board president Nelson Pichardo said mistakes happen and with mail-in voting close to 10 times higher than the 2016 primary the errors were understandable.

            He also said the mistakes were made by Microvote Corporation, a reputable Indianapolis based vendor the county and many others in the state use for counting ballots.

“We had some issues with Microvote.  They were explained.  No one is here trying to sabotage an election,” Pichardo said.

Pichardo, one of two democrats on the board, is now president after former president, republican Andrew Voeltz, resigned Sunday.

His seat was filled by republican Chuck Waterson, who was appointed vice-president.

The errors involved running vote tabulations doubling before the count was finished and 111 ballots from Coolspring Township seemingly coming up missing.

Steve Shamo, general manager of Microvote Corporation, said data from one of the voting machines was transferred to a fourth machine brought in to help count the influx of absentee ballots.

However, the totals were not cleared prior to the transfer causing both machines to contain the same ballot count, he said.

Shamo said the correction was quickly made after being made aware of the situation.

He said the so-called missing ballots discovered a week later were actually counted but later deleted by accident while scanning ballots from another precinct into the same counting machine.

Shamo said he also discovered and corrected that mistake quickly once alerted to the issue.

The explanation pleased many of the 50 people in attendance but others remained suspicious and pointed out what they alleged were other flaws in the process.

Allen Stevens of Hanna said republicans were not asked to appoint members from the party to help oversee some of the vote counting as required by state law.

LaPorte County Clerk Kathy Chroback said there were two members of each party already present.

Stevens, though, said one of the republicans is an employee of her office.

His wife, Heather Stevens, is running against Chroback, a democrat, in November.

“I’m not going to argue with you.  I notify your party and they don’t send anyone anyway,” she said.

There were also grumblings about lack of transparency.

Waterson, though, said the process was open enough to allow the mistakes to be discovered and quickly corrected.

            He also vowed to get to the bottom of things to avoid problems from happening in November.

            “I was just appointed this week.  I don’t know what the system was.  I will find out what the system was but there does need to be a better system,” he said.

Public Access to Buildings Pushed Back

(LaPorte County, IN) - LaPorte County government buildings were supposed to reopen to the public on Monday. But, things have been pushed back by three weeks. County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora says the change is in response to a surge in COVID-19 cases in other areas, especially out west. He says things are still encouraging here and they want to keep it that way.

 

County facilities will open back up to the public now on July 6. On Monday, all staff members are expected to return to their usual work stations unless they’ve been cleared to continue working remotely.

Anniversary for ROCK 106.5

(LaPorte, IN) - Exactly a year ago today, ROCK 106.5 hit the airwaves. WLOI at 1540 on the AM band was moved to 106.5 on the FM dial while still maintaining its presence on the AM frequency.

Matt Moore, the owner of Spoon River Media, said the change from Easy Listening to Classic Rock with some rock from the ’90s and 2000s reflected what the community wanted in a study of LaPorte area listeners. “We’re delivering,” he said. 96-7 The Eagle continues with its long-established country music format.

Near 100-percent COVID-19 Recoveries in Prisons

(Indianapolis, IN) - The outbreak of COVID-19 at Westville Prison could be under control.

According to the Indiana Department of Correction, 179 offenders have tested positive since the beginning of the pandemic. Officials say all but one has recovered. Prison officials say 108 staff members have tested positive. All but 15 have recovered. At Indiana State Prison, DOC reports seven offenders and 17 staff members have tested positive. All but two of those individuals have recovered, officials said.

Freeze on Short Term Rental Homes

(New Buffalo, MI) - The city of New Buffalo is not allowing any more short term rental homes to be created for now. Some neighborhoods are overrun by single-family homes rented especially during the summer.

 

City Manager Dave Richards says there were a growing number of complaints by full-time residents about changes occurring in their neighborhoods and the city council recognizing it as an issue put a freeze on registering additional short term rental homes. 

 

One of the issues is the partying that goes on at some of the homes rented to vacationers and weekend warriors. The cap was placed for eight months to allow the city to further study the

situation. Currently, there are 1500 or more vacation homes in the city.

Election Board Meeting Friday Could Get Heated

(LaPorte, IN) - The president of the LaPorte County Election Board has resigned in the wake of delays in vote tallying and what some people view as numerous other red flags in the June 2 primary.

           The LaPorte County Election Board is scheduled to meet Friday at 2 p.m. to certify the vote totals before sending them downstate as required.

Local democrats and republicans upset over how the process unfolded plan to be there seeking answers to questions they say have been ignored.

            “They have to be accountable and answer these questions. They don’t want to be accountable.  They don’t want to answer questions,” said LaPorte County Republican Party Chairman Mitch Feikes.

            Andrew Voeltz, the LaPorte County Republican Party’s representative on the three member democrat controlled election board, stepped down Sunday.

Feikes said he offered no explanation in his letter of resignation.

            “I’m sure there’s some things that went on that he wasn’t happy with,” Feikes said.

The vacancy was filled Wednesday by Chuck Waterson of LaPorte.

            Waterson is an associate with the Michigan City law firm Braje, Nelson and Janes.

Voeltz and Waterson could not be reached for comment.

Much of the controversy stems from a 48 hour delay in counting all of the votes election officials blame on mail-in voting being nearly ten times higher than the 2016 primary due to COVID-19.

Other concerns expressed include conflicting vote totals and lack of transparency before and after the election.

Feikes also said he was not given the opportunity to appoint members from his party to help oversee the ballot counting as required by state law.

He said there were republicans present but they were chosen primarily by democrats running the election.

 “They chose them on their own,” Feikes said.

A week after the election, Heather Stevens, co-director of the LaPorte County Voters Registration Office, called attention to what she alleged were at least 89 missing absentee ballots from Coolspring Township.

Stevens, the republican nominee for LaPorte County Clerk, faces incumbent democrat Kathy Chroback in November.

Attempts to reach Chroback, also a member of the election board, were not successful.

Chroback on Tuesday did shed light on the issue by releasing a letter from Microvote Corporation, the Indianapolis based vendor used for counting the ballots.

In the letter, Mike Miller, president of the company, said the absentee ballots at question totaled 111 and they were not counted due to human error with a counting machine.

He said the ballots after the mistake was discovered were counted on Tuesday.

There were no changes in the outcomes of any of the major races.

Tim Gust, the democratic nominee for State Representative from District 20, has asked the LaPorte County Prosecutor’s Office to investigate if any criminal violations were committed.

            Gust said he has no evidence of any crimes but wants to make sure there were no improprieties and preserve the integrity of future elections.

            If anything, he said the mistakes likely point to what he called “incompetence.”

            “It shows laziness and people who are not double checking their work and I think that’s what we’re looking at across the board here,” Gust said.           

Gust said he also tried to get an explanation from election officials but none of his messages have been returned.

He said answered were also not provided during a visit he paid to the county clerk’s office Tuesday in LaPorte.

            “It’s kind of a head scratcher to me and I think the community deserves these answers. I don’t think they’re unreasonable questions,” Gust said.

Hands Free Law on the Horizon

(Indianapolis, IN) - Better get used to driving without using a cell phone in your hand. A hands-free law goes into effect July 1st in Indiana. State Representative Jim Pressel of Rolling Prairie wrote the

legislation signed by the governor to try and reduce motor vehicle crashes, especially those caused by distracted driving. Violators can be fined anywhere from $25 to $500.

Vacation Rentals Back in Business

(New Buffalo, MI) - Vacation rentals are open again in Michigan.  Homes used for short term stays are big business in New Buffalo, especially during the summer. City Manager Dave Richards says owners of those properties are relieved to have income coming in once again from those

homes. He said some of those owners were dipping into their life savings to help meet their mortgages. Vacation rentals were allowed to reopen under the Michigan governor’s latest loosening of the COVID-19 restrictions.

Indiana playgrounds, movie theaters, bars allowed to reopen Friday, Jun 12

(Indianapolis, IN) Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday a new state order will allow social gatherings of up to 250 people and retail stores and malls to operate at full capacity.

 

Movie theaters, bars, museums and amusement parks will be allowed to open Friday across Indiana as the governor announced he is moving up by two days the next stage of easing the state’s coronavirus restrictions.

 

Restaurants will be allowed 75% capacity, while bars, movie theaters and bowling alleys can open at half capacity.

 

Public playgrounds are being permitted to reopen as of Friday, but festivals and parades are still prohibited.

 

 

GUIDELINES FOR ALL HOOSIERS (From backontrack.in.gov:)

 

• Hoosiers 65 and older and those with known high-risk medical conditions should adhere to social distancing guidelines and remain cautious at work and in their communities

• Continue remote work as needed

• Face coverings are recommended

• Social gatherings of up to 250 people may take place following the CDC social distancing guidelines. The coronavirus is often spread among groups of people who are in close contact in a confined space for an extended period of time. This limit applies to wedding receptions, parties, and other events where people are in close physical contact for extended periods of time

• Assisted living facilities and nursing homes remain closed to visitors; guidelines will be reviewed and updated

 

WHAT OPENS

• State government building access restrictions will be lifted

• Professional office building employees may resume work at full capacity

• Retail stores and malls open at full capacity with social distancing guidelines in place

• Dining room service may open at 75% capacity

• Bar seating in restaurants may open at 50% capacity

• Bars and nightclubs may open at 50% capacity adhering to social distancing guidelines

• Cultural, entertainment, and tourism sites may open at a capacity to be determined. This includes museums, zoos, aquariums, and like facilities

• Movie theaters, bowling alleys, and similar facilities may open at 50% capacity, adhering to social distancing guidelines

• Community youth and adult recreational games and leagues may resume; adhere to social distancing and gathering restrictions

• Raceways may open with limited spectators

• Pari-mutuel horse racing anticipated to begin with no spectators at Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand facilities

• Charity gaming and casinos may open with the approval of the Indiana Gaming Commission

• Large venues may open at a capacity to be determined

• Amusement parks, water parks, and like facilities may open at 50% capacity; reservations will be required to limit the number of customers at any one time.

 

WHAT REMAINS CLOSED

• Large events, such as conventions, sports events, fairs, festivals, and parades

• Recreational youth contact sports activities to be determined

 

City of LaPorte Backs Away from Transit Triangle

(LaPorte, IN)  – The City of La Porte will not be extending its contract with the Transit Triangle commuter service, according to Mayor Tom Dermody.

 

“Despite its affordability, ridership has remained fairly stagnant over the last several years,” Dermody said. “Our residents expect us to be responsible with their tax dollars and unfortunately, numbers that low simply do not justify the cost. For this reason, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue our partnership with the Transit Triangle.”

 

Dermody said the City will shift its attention to its own TransPorte bus system. He said the savings from Transit Triangle could potentially lead to opportunities for TransPorte’s expansion down the road.

 

“We want to maximize opportunities within our own system so we can provide the best possible service to our residents while maintaining fiscal responsibility,” Dermody said. “As we continue looking at ways to improve, I strongly encourage TransPorte riders to share their feedback and suggestions.”

 

Dermody said TransPorte is currently running a survey of riders. Those interested can get a survey from any TransPorte bus or can find it online on the City of La Porte’s Facebook page. All responses must be submitted by Saturday, June 20. For more information, contact TransPorte Manager Beth West at 219-326-8274 or BWest@CityofLaPorteIN.gov.

COVID-19 Restrictions Statewide Loosen Further on Friday

(Indianapolis, IN) - COVID-19 restrictions in Indiana will loosen even further on Friday, June 12th.

Under Phase 4 of the Governor’s five phases economic reopening plan, social gatherings of up to 250 people will be allowed under social distancing guidelines. Retail stores and malls can open at full capacity and dining room service capacity increases to 75 percent.

 

Other loosened restrictions include bars opening at 50 percent capacity and businesses like zoos, bowling alleys, and movie theatres opening at 50 percent capacity. Casinos reopen on Monday, June 15th operating under CDC guidelines.

 

Indiana State Health Commissioner Kristina Box said people should continue to practice safety precautions like social distancing and using hand sanitizer despite the restrictions being further loosened because of the continued threat of the virus.

 

Five Area Students Awarded Purdue Scholarships

(Hammond and Westville, IN)  — Purdue University Northwest’s (PNW) Office of Concurrent Enrollment awarded scholarships to area high school students who participated in the concurrent enrollment program. 

 

The scholarship recognizes five highly motivated and engaged students wishing to attend Purdue Northwest. Among the recipients are Samantha Frederick, Lake Central High School; Romulo Gutierrez, Hammond Academy of Science and Technology; Benjamin Hand, Munster High School; Conner Olah, Highland High School; and Audry Wright, Kankakee Valley High School.

 

To qualify for the scholarship, students had to complete a minimum of three dual credit courses in high school and enroll as full-time PNW students starting in the fall 2020 semester. They also needed to have a minimum high school GPA of 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale).

 

Awards were based on a 500-word essay the students wrote explaining the impact that taking university coursework, while in high school, had on their decision to attend college.

 

Concurrent enrollment, also known as dual credit, allows students at participating high schools to take courses that count toward both high school and college credit. Data on concurrent enrollment programs statewide indicates an academic and economic benefit to high school students, as well as a pathway to higher education. PNW partnered with 27 Indiana high schools across Lake, La Porte, and Porter counties during the 2019-20 academic year.

 

“We’re so proud to welcome these five new students to Purdue Northwest. Their coursework in concurrent enrollment programs has prepared them to meet the challenges of college life,” said Anne Gregory, director of PNW’s School of Education and Counseling and director of PNW’s Concurrent Enrollment Program.

 

The winners were personally presented a PNW congratulatory sign posted in the front yard of their homes, along with a parade of cars decorated with gold and black streamers.  

 

Hunt for Double Track Dollars Urged

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City official is urging the city to start planning now for the costs involved with a double track.

 

The city is already committed to several millions of dollars to help fund the project.

However, Councilman Don Pryzbylinski says a parking garage and other extras the city wants to go with it to enhance the economic gains of a double-track will cost additional money.

 

He says the city is now under a budget crisis, though, and where to get those dollars should begin right away since the construction of the double-track is only about two years away.

 

The double-track projected to significantly reduce travel time to and from Chicago is expected to bring significant economic gains in areas like new housing from people wanting to live here and work in Chicago.

Moonlight Bicycling Returns Friday

(LaPorte, IN) - Friday night bicycle rides are back in LaPorte.

The first in a series of 13 mile rides begins this coming Friday, June 12th.

The ride starts and ends at Kiwanis Teledyne Park.

Officials say registration opens at 8 p.m. and the casual ride begins

one hour later.

Other Friday night bicycle rides are scheduled July 10 and August 14.

Officials say the cost for each ride is $20 per person in advance or

$25 on the night of the ride.

For more information, contact the park department at 326-9600.

More COVID-19 Loosening in Local Government

(Michigan City, IN) - Preparations are being made to have city council meetings in Michigan City at City Hall again.

Virtual city council meetings have been held since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Mayor Duane Parry says seating inside the council chambers for close to 100 will be reduced by roughly one-third to provide for social distancing when meetings at city hall resume possibly later this month.

Dine-In Service Allowed in New Buffalo Again

(New Buffalo, MI) - The economic recovery from COVID-19 in New Buffalo is picking up.

Restaurants and bars in Michigan are allowed to offer indoor service again under a further loosening of the statewide restrictions.

Redamak’s, Stray Dog and Beer Church are among the establishments enticing people to New Buffalo.

City Manager Dave Richards says it’s good news not just for the city but owners of businesses trying to hang on financially during the restrictions.

The beach in New Buffalo has been open and very busy during the pandemic.

Activity was noticeably lower in the downtown from the bars and restaurants not being allowed to fully operate until Monday.

Cougars in Health Competition Finals

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - More than 20 New Prairie students are in some pretty select company.

They’ve qualified for the International Leadership Competition sponsored

by a health care professionals group.

The top performers at the state level qualified for a spot in the

finals to be held later this month.

School officials say the students will compete against other students in

various health related events.

Vacated Election Board Seat Filled

(LaPorte, IN) - The president of the LaPorte County Election Board has resigned in the wake of the controversy over the handling of the June 2 primary.

Republican Andrew Voeltz stepped down Sunday.

There have been allegations of possible impropriety, negligence and incompetence for the delay in counting all of the mail in ballots and other matters like inaccurate vote totals until the count was finalized.

LaPorte County republican party chairman Mitch Feikes says Voeltz did not give a reason for resigning.

Feikes says he plans to go before the election board Friday to

voice his concerns.

According to the LaPorte County Clerk’s office, human error was to

blame for ballots republicans alleged were missing.

The clerk’s office says the ballots from Coolspring Township were there but not counted right away due to a mishap in tallying on a counting machine.

The mistake has been corrected and all of the ballots have been tallied, according to the clerk’s office.
The vacated election board seat was filled this morning by Chuck Watterson.

Watterson is an attorney from LaPorte with a practice

in Michigan City.

Tree Falls on House During Storm

(LaPorte, IN) - A house in LaPorte damaged by a fallen tree during one of the storms yesterday.

The large tree fell on the roof of the two-story home 1005 First Street. Stephanie Brown says she was home with her husband and four children when the tree came down about 2 p.m. as the winds picked up just prior to the rain.

 

“We just got done swimming in the backyard.  I was sitting on the couch in the living room when it all happened,” she said. First Street was closed from Lincolnway to State Street to allow crews with

help from a crane to remove the tree. 

 

La Porte Street Department Superintendent Mike Frase said he expected the work that began at 7:30 this morning to be finished before 12 p.m.

Horses Not Shot But Foul Play Still Possible

(La Porte, IN) - Two horses with a history in 4-H were not shot as originally suspected but La Porte County Police are still looking at foul play as a potential source of their major injuries.

            “An act of violence may have occurred,” said La Porte County Police Captain Derek Allen.

            Dawn Forney said a reward of at least $1,000 is being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever was responsible.

            “Tanner,” a 14-year old buckskin quarter horse, was put down while “Vinnie,” a 13-year old tan quarter horse is recovering.

            Forney said her 15-year old son, Brandon, and 10-year old daughter, Audrey, on May 31 went out into their 10 acre pasture near Kingsford Heights to bring the family’s six horses in for the night.

            Tanner was laying on the ground while Vinnie was on all four legs but not moving.

            Initially, Forney said a veterinarian who came out right away in the darkness believed the horses had been shot.

            She said two other veterinarians looking at the horses in the daylight ruled blunt force trauma caused what looked like bullet holes at first.

            Forney said an x-ray machine also revealed Tanner sustained a skull fracture from “eye to eye.”

            She said Vinnie had a hole in his lip along with a seriously bruised shoulder leaving him barely able to walk for a while.

            Vinnie is still on pain medication and antibiotics but making significant progress in his recovery, she said.  

“He still hobbles around a little bit but he’s moving much better.  He’s able to put his head down to the ground to eat grass.  He couldn’t do that for several days,” she said.

Forney said she was even more disturbed at learning the horses were physically struck.

            “That means whoever did this had to be close and that makes it even more worse to me,” she said.

Allen would not shed light or speculate on exactly how the injuries were

Inflicted since the case remained under investigation. 

Anyone with information is asked to contact LaPorte County Police at (219) 326-7700.

            “We have not ruled out this was not a felonious act,” Allen said.

            Tanner was being prepared by Brandon to compete in the 4-H portion of this year’s La Porte County Fair prior to the fair recently being cancelled because of COVID-19.

            Brandon, a member of the LaPorte High School Equestrian Team, has shown Tanner at various other competitions the past several years.

            Tanner was reserve champion for his age bracket in the gelding class during the fair last year and earned first place during a Great Lakes Buckskin Association show two years ago.

            Forney said her 20-year old son Jordan entered Vinnie in 4-H competitions as a teenager and helped train Tanner.

            Jordan came up with the idea to offer a $200 reward.

Notice of the reward posted on his Facebook page generated donations which has raised the reward to more than $1,000.

            Forney said anyone wanting to add to the reward can donate to the fund at La Porte Community Federal Credit Union.

            If the case is not solved, Forney said she plans to donate the money to an organization involved with horses.

                       

                       

Four Winds to Reopen Next Week

(Dowagiac, MI) - All four Four Winds Casinos are set to reopen next week. Company officials say there will be no smoking indoors, no valet services in the parking lot, and no more than four people at a time in the elevators when the casinos reopen on Monday. 

 

Officials say all guests and employees will be required to wear masks. Thermal imaging cameras will be used to take the body temperatures of guests. Plexiglass dividers will be used to separate players on some of the more popular slots, And slot machines will be spaced for social distancing, casino officials said. Four Winds have casinos in New Buffalo, South Bend in Indiana, and also Hartford and Dowagiac in Michigan.

Trustee Preparing For Possible Rise in Homelessness

(LaPorte, IN) - A local official is preparing for an apartment building in LaPorte possibly getting condemned. More than 40 people live at Maple Tree Apartments across from the YMCA.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody has vowed to condemn the property. Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski says that would mean over 40 residents would be displaced. Pierzakowski says she’s getting ready to assist those folks just in case the city shuts it down. Dermody says the apartment building is deplorable and the owner, so far, has not been willing to work with the city on improving the facility.

 

The mayor is also targeting a multi-unit residential property known as “The Compound” along McClung Road near Clear Lake.

Fund Raising for Jobs

(LaPorte County, IN) - There’s another fundraising campaign to continue promoting job creation in LaPorte and Michigan City. The goal is to raise $600,000 over the next three years. Officials say the funds will be used to help retain and attract new jobs.

 

The LaPorte Economic Advancement Partnership and the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City are behind the effort. This is the sixth three-year fundraising effort to help economic

Development efforts in both communities. The Unity Foundation of La Porte County is also involved by establishing an investment fund housing donations for the cause.

Mayor Responds to Police Lawsuit Against Former Mayor

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Mayor Duane Parry is responding to a lawsuit filed against former Mayor Ron Meer.

 

Four Michigan City Police officers alleging defamation of character and emotional distress are seeking over $500,000 in damages. They claim former Mayor Ron Meer targeted them because they were involved in his stepson’s drug-related arrest before the November election.

 

Meer claims his son was targeted to try and cost him reelection. He narrowly lost his bid for a third term. Mayor Duane Parry says he supports the police officers and he’s not happy his administration will have to spend time and effort on the matter in the courts because of what happened prior to his administration taking over.

Police Changes Proposed in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Change with police is being discussed now in Michigan City.  City Councilman Bryant Dabney says a citizens review board should be established locally at some point. Instead of police watching the police, he feels an independent board of citizens would provide assurance if the actions of police here are called into question.

 

City Councilman Paul Pryzbylinski is proposing adding two citizens to the existing three-member police civil service commission, saying that would add transparency to the review process. The proposed changes are in response to the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. About one-third of the population in Michigan City is African American.

BMV Expands Operations beginning June 15

(Indianapolis, IN)—The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) announced today it will resume walk-in service and will continue to accept a limited number of appointments beginning June 15, 2020. Hoosiers will be able to complete all transactions needed in a branch with the exception of driving skills exams. The BMV is finalizing its timeline to resume driving skills exams and will share details in the coming weeks.

 

The majority of branches will return to a five day per week schedule serving Hoosiers Tuesday through Saturday. Branch hours, and branches with different schedules, are noted on the branch map page of the BMV website, found here: https://www.in.gov/bmv/2415.htm

"Missing Ballots" Alleged in Call for Primary Probe

(LaPorte County, IN) - The Republican candidate for LaPorte County Clerk is also calling for an investigation of 89 or more possibly missing absentee ballots. Heather Stevens says the ballots from Coolspring Township did not appear to have been counted.

 

She says 68 of those ballots are from democrats while 21 are from republican voters. Stevens says she plans to file a complaint with the LaPorte County Election Board and the Indiana Election Division to address the missing ballots and investigate what went wrong. Stevens is also co-director of the LaPorte County Voters Registration Office. She’s running against current LaPorte County Clerk, democrat Kathy Chroback, in November.

Calls for Investigation into LaPorte County Election

(LaPorte County, IN) - There are calls for an investigation into Tuesday’s primary election.

Republican candidate for LaPorte County Commissioner Joe Haney says there have been inconsistent vote tallies along with lack of preparation resulting in a two-day delay in counting all of the ballots. Haney says the LaPorte County Commissioners also failed to finalize polling

locations by the May 22 deadline as required by state law and many people did not receive notice about the option of mail-in voting until just days before the deadline to cast mail-in ballots. 

Haney says there should be an investigation to determine if wrongdoing also played a role in how the election unfolded.

Boy Credited with Saving Lives in Fire

(Kingsford Heights, IN) - A five-year old boy is credited with saving the lives of his siblings and other family members in a Monday morning house fire in LaPorte County.

Firefighters before 9 a.m. responded to 417 Dartmoor Road in Kingsford Heights.

Joyce Wilson says she and her husband, Bob, were sleeping when her great grandson, Braxton Hill, woke them up before the smoke detector inside their home started going off.

“He saved everybody.  He saved the day,” Mrs. Wilson said.

After opening her eyes, Mrs. Wilson said she made her way through smoke from the main level of the home to the basement where Braxton’s bed was totally ablaze.

“I’m glad he came up and got me,” she said.

Mrs. Wilson said her grandson and his six children also live at the residence.

Denny Masek, assistant chief of the Kingsford-Union Volunteer Fire Department, said everyone inside made it outside on their own without injury.

“He pretty much saved everybody in the house.  It could have been much worse,” Masek said.

Masek said the flames spread to another bedroom on the main floor of the ranch style home.   

He said the cause was under investigation.

Firefighters from Kingsbury, Scipio Township, Noble Township, Pleasant Township and Hanna assisted in putting out the fire.

Police Lawsuit Filed Against Former Mayor

(Michigan City, IN) - A lawsuit has been filed against the former Mayor of Michigan City, Ron Meer.

Four police officers are suing Meer alleging defamation of character and emotional distress. The officers, Tim Richardson, Francisco Rodriguez, Kyle Shiparski, and Willie Henderson were involved in the arrest of Meer’s stepson on drug-related charges before the election in November.

 

The officers claim they were targeted by the mayor who asked they be removed from the LaPorte County Drug Task Force. Meer was charged with six felony counts including intimidation and

official misconduct. He narrowly lost his reelection bid. The lawsuit is seeking more than $500,000 in damages.

K-9 Dog Helps Capture Fleeing Suspect

(Michigan City, IN) - A police dog helped capture a man during a pursuit in the Michigan City area over the weekend. 38-year-old Donald Helms of Michigan City is charged with resisting law enforcement, possession of methamphetamine, and other counts.

 

According to police, Sheriff’s Deputy Andy Hynek saw a vehicle veer over the center line early Sunday, June 14th on U.S 12 near the Michigan/Indiana state line. At one point during the 17-minute vehicle pursuit, the fleeing vehicle tires were flattened by stop sticks at Royal Road and Warnke Road in Michigan City on the city’s far east side. Police say the driver fled on foot and was chased by Sheriff's Deputy Andrew Hahn and his K-9 dog.

 

Police say the suspect hit the dog several times then was bitten by the K-9 dog several times.

Police say Helms was wanted by the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office prior to the chase.

Hundreds Turn Out for LaPorte Protest

(LaPorte, IN) - Except for a short verbal exchange with supporters of President Trump, a Black Lives Matter demonstration Friday in LaPorte went peacefully.

 

Upwards of 500 people gathered outside the courthouse then marched up and down on the sidewalk of the U.S 35 overpass with about 70 police officers in the area keeping the peace. “I can’t breathe,” the words uttered by George Floyd with the knee of a Minneapolis Police officer on his neck before he died May 25, were among the phrases chanted to the honking of horns on vehicles passing by.

 

 “All lives matter. That’s a given but really it’s the black lives right now that are really being effected and they’re the ones that need our help,” said Nate Styles of LaPorte.

“It’s time to stop the hatred,” said Cassi Kring of Knox.

 

Several men in camouflage holding what appeared to be assault rifles quietly made their way through the crowd on several occasions without incident.

 

More than a dozen people carrying Trump flags and banners showed up first about 11 a.m.

The BLM demonstration across the street began at 4 p.m. but a dozen of them showed up before noon.

 

About an hour later, some of the BLM protesters walked across Lincolnway to were supporters of the president gathered.

 

There was taunting along with accusations of racism, but things calmed down not long after police made their presence known.

 

Jordan Olsen of LaPorte stayed on the Trump side for a while flashing signs reading “All Lives Don’t Matter Until Black and Brown Lives Do Too” and “Justice for George. Justice for Blacks and Justice for Refugees.”

 

Trump supporters like Spencer England of LaPorte denounced what happened to Floyd.

He also expressed support for peaceful protests along with the efforts of law enforcement and the president to get a handle on the rioting.

 

Pam Struebing, a Trump supporter and owner of Valley Hills Golf Course in Rolling Prairie, held a sign stating “Now Is The Time to Return to Jesus.”

 

“I believe we’re having all of this trouble in our land because people have left God. Everything is about money.  It’s not about loving your neighbor and helping other people.  It’s a disgrace that has to be stopped,” she said.

 

Commissioners Support Right to Protest

(LaPorte, IN) - The La Porte County Commissioners support the right of all Americans to exercise their right to freedom of speech and the right to peaceful protest.  We are supportive of those who wish to exercise these rights in La Porte today and strongly encourage those participating to continue to emphasize in word and in action that the protests are peaceful demonstrations.  Please practice tolerance and respect to others and to property. 
 
This is a time in our country’s history when much can be learned by listening to one another.  It is only by listening and learning to all voices and to all people that we can work together to build stronger, healthier and more resilient communities for ALL Americans.     
 
 
Sheila Matias, President La Porte County Commission   

Trump Haters Also Demonstrating

(LaPorte, IN) - Supporters of George Floyd and opponents of President Trump began demonstrating early in LaPorte today.

 

They were the other side of the intersection where supporters of the President gathered. Kayla Brown from LaPorte County held a “No Justice, No Peace” sign. Brown called supporters of the president racist and said she was “disgusted” by their presence. She also called President Trump a rapist and “not a good man” no matter what his supporters claim. 

 

People who side with Brown are not supposed to start a Black Lives Matter demonstration until 4 p.m. in downtown.  Brown said she and several people with her decision to come out early.

said she and several people with her decision to come out early.

Supporters of Law Enforcement Begin Demonstrating

(LaPorte, IN) - Demonstrations are occurring in downtown LaPorte.  About a dozen supporters of President Trump and law enforcement were at Lincolnway and Indiana Ave. One was waving a Trump flag while two others were holding a President Trump banner.

 

Spencer England of LaPorte is the leader of the group who says protesting is fine but rioting is not and feels stiffer measures should be taken to stop the rioters. 50 or more people protesting the death of George Floyd are expected to start demonstrating at 4 p.m.

Former Council Members Seek Return

(LaPorte, IN) - Two former members of the LaPorte County Council are seeking a return to their old seats. Earl Cunningham is one of the Republican nominees for three at large seats. 

 

Cunningham says he decided to run when only one republican filed then later three others from the party joined the race.  The other former member is Matt Bernacchi. He is one of three Democratic nominees for at large positions on the county council.

Man on Foot Killed by Train

(St. Joseph County, IN) - A man on foot was struck and killed by a train outside New Carlisle yesterday. It happened on the Norfolk Southern tracks off Walnut Rd. south of US 20. Reports indicate the man may have accidentally stepped in front of the train while using a phone or doing some paperwork. The victim in his 30’s was a contractor. Police have not released the victim's name or other details. 

All Votes in Tuesday's Primary Counted

(LaPorte, IN) - All of the votes from Tuesday’s primary have now been counted. Joie Winski soundly defeated Ron Hamilton Jr in the democratic race for LaPorte County Treasurer.

 

For county council at-large, democrats Jeff Santana, Mike Mollenhauer and

Matt Bernacchi were the winners. They will face republicans Earl Cunningham, Brett Kessler, and Connie Grammarosa in November.

 

For county recorder, Ela Bilderback defeated Tim Jaycox for the republican nomination.

South Shore Line outlines health and safety protocol for return to normal service

(Chesterton, IN) – Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, South Shore Line (SSL) has invested a tremendous amount of time and resources into taking enhanced precautions and implementing new procedures for the health and safety of passengers, as well as train personnel. As Chicago begins to open and more commuters and leisure riders return to the train, the SSL intends to further the safety measures being taken through its Sanitized for Rider Safety program, a comprehensive cleaning and health and safety program.

 

In addition, the SSL continues to require its riders to wear masks at stations and on cars, practice social distancing when possible, and take advantage of sanitization stations in each car. For those riders who choose not to wear a mask, we are offering a “mask-optional” car.

 

Sanitized for Rider Safety and Recommended Passenger Health and Safety Guidelines

Sanitized for Rider Safety is SSL’s new comprehensive cleaning program, and SSL invites riders to look for the Sanitized for Rider Safety seal in the stations and train cars within the next several weeks. SSL sanitization procedures include disinfecting seats, windows, crash pads, handrails, door handles, headrests, and grab handles. Each train car is mopped with a stringent disinfectant and fogged with disinfectant using state-of-the-art equipment.

SSL recommends the following guidelines for passengers:

  • Utilize hand sanitization stations available in each train car
  • Refrain from congregating in train vestibules
  • Avoid touching your mouth, nose, or eyes while on train
  • Wash hands frequently, and follow CDC recommendations for handwashing
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when you cough or sneeze
  • Respect the personal space of all passengers to the best of your ability
  • Wear a mask or face covering while in stations and while on the train (mask-optional train car available for those who are unable to or choose not to wear a mask. Crew will direct passengers to a designated train car.)

 

Return to Regular Service Schedule and Service Alerts

SSL will resume regular service on Monday, June 8, 2020. Updated schedules can be found on SSL’s website at mysouthshoreline.com or on the South Shore mobile app. In returning to regular service, SSL is committed to providing riders with clear, timely, and accurate information on the status of train service, including delays or service disruptions. To more efficiently deliver these updates to passengers, SSL has begun offering service alerts in the form of SMS/wireless text messages. Riders wishing to receive service alerts via SMS/Wireless can sign up at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/INTRANNICTD/subscriber/new. For further instructions on how to signup, visit: https://www.mysouthshoreline.com/news/item/290-ssl-to-begin-offering service-alerts-in-the-form-of-sms-wireless-text-messages-effective-immediately .

 

In addition to SMS/Wireless text messages, SSL will continue to provide important service updates via email notifications, SSL website homepage ticker, mobile app, station announcements, and social media.

LaPorte Demonstrators Vow Peaceful Protest

(LaPorte, IN) - A demonstration over the death of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis is scheduled Friday in downtown LaPorte.

 

Protesters at 4 p.m. will march up and down the U.S 35 overpass on the sidewalk of the four-lane bridge then head east along Lincolnway, said Austen Wood, 20, of LaPorte.

 

Wood, the organizer of the event, said walkers after reaching LaPorte Hospital will head back toward the courthouse to complete the demonstration at 6 p.m.

 

He met Thursday with mayor Tom Dermody who said he supports protesting but won’t tolerate behavior spiraling out of control.

 

“We want to work with them and make sure whatever happens is going to be peaceful,” Dermody said.  Wood said police will be contacted to escort anyone going to extremes away from the demonstration. Estimated anywhere from 50 to more than 200 people could turn out. “There might be some people that we know personally who come from a few other towns but for the most part it’s going to be people directly from LaPorte,” Wood said.

Michigan City Cancels July 4th Parade and Fireworks

 

 With the cancellation of the Grand Prix Boat Race, the Taste of Michigan City, and our Michigan City Youth Baseball, we are saddened to announce the cancellation of the Michigan City Parade and Fireworks.

 

The City of Michigan City has decided to cancel the annual Summer Parade and our 4th of July Fireworks. This was a very difficult decision to make, as Mayor Parry wanted to continue these traditions for our Michigan City residents. Unfortunately, these events take months of planning to make them successful. With the COVID-19 crisis and required social distancing, we have joined many other communities in canceling their summer events.

 

Possible Drowning in Starke County

(Starke County, IN) - Police are investigating a possible drowning in Starke County. 37-year-old Anthony Cohn was boating in Bass Lake on Tuesday. Authorities say he was out of the boat and standing on a sand bar when the boat began drifting away.

 

He was swimming after the boat when he went under the water. So far, crews have come up empty in their search.

Alcohol Cited as Factor in Wrong Way Crash

(LaPorte County, IN) - Police say he was driving the wrong way on Interstate 94 when he struck an oncoming semi-truck in LaPorte County. 

 

39-year old Karl Cooks is charged with operating while intoxicated. According to state police, the suspect from Harvey, Illinois was taken to a hospital with injuries. No information was released on his condition. The truck driver from Canada was not hurt, police said. Police say Cooks was westbound in the eastbound lanes when his mini-van struck an oncoming semi at the 42-mile marker outside Michigan City.

 

The passenger side of Cook’s vehicle was severely damaged. Cook exhibited signs of being severely intoxicated, police said.

Demonstration Planned Friday in LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) – A demonstration for Black Lives Matter is planned in the City of LaPorte on Friday, June 5th. 

 

Mayor Tom Dermody says he’s scheduled to meet this morning with some of the individuals organizing the demonstration.

 

Dermody says he wants to let them know he supports protesting but won’t stand for things getting out of hand. Dermody says what happened to George Floyd shouldn’t happen to anyone and the City of LaPorte is a community where people of all races are welcome.  Friday’s demonstration is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. at the U.S 35 overpass and outside the courthouse.

EMS Relocates to New Base

(LaPorte, IN) - The new LaPorte ambulance base is now in use. Andrew McGuire, director of LaPorte County Emergency Medical Service, told the county commissioners today the move took about three days was finished on Friday.

 

McGuire said there’s still some work to do yet before everything is completed. He was hoping to have a traditional open house of the new facility but a video showing off the new station will likely happen now at some point due to COVID-19.

 

The new facility is just a few hundred feet from old ambulance base at State and Tyler St. The former EMS station was abandoned to make way for construction of the new LaPorte Hospital.

Car and Semi Collide in Wanatah

(Wanatah, IN) - A collision between a car and semi-truck happened late this morning in Wanatah.

LaPorte County Police say it happened on U.S 30 just west of U.S 421 and a patient was taken by ambulance.  We’ll provide more details once they become available.

Truck Stop Back on Track

(Michigan City, IN) - The much-anticipated construction of a truck stop and other commercial businesses along Interstate 94 outside Michigan City appears back on track. 

 

Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores has signed an agreement to purchase a 10-acre parcel near the old Waste Management Landfill.  Matt Reardon with the LaPorte County Office of Economic and Community Development said the years in the making project was held up because of a conflict over a fuel pipeline discovered on the property. He said the pipeline issue getting resolved opened the door for the purchase agreement between the truck stop chain and landowners, US 421 Partners, LLC.

 

Reardon said the key now is getting water and sewer lines extended underneath Interstate 94 to serve the truck stop and other potential developments. Extending utilities and construction of the truck stop could start before the end of the year since all of the design work was finished before the delay.   “These are all positive steps that have already been taken so we’re not at a cold start here,” Reardon said.

 

Commitments to tie into the utilities have been received from existing businesses like the Harley Davidson store. Brand name hotels, restaurants, and a few retailers have also signed letters of intent to build near the truck stop as long as there’s access to water and sewer.

“This is an important project,” he said.

 

Reardon said the estimated $4.5 million utility extension will be paid with tax dollars generated by an increase in property values from the truck stop, a federal economic development grant now being sought, or both.   Hotels and the new Franciscan hospital are on the north side of the Interstate 94 and U.S 421 interchange. This would be the first major growth on the south side of the interchange.

Incumbents Doing Well So Far in Vote Counting

(LaPorte County, IN) - So far, vote totals from about half the precincts in LaPorte County have been reported.

 

In the County Treasurer’s race, Joie Winski had 54 percent of the vote against her Democratic opponent, Ron Hamilton Jr.

 

For LaPorte County Council At-Large, Jeff Santana, Mike Mollenhauer and former Councilman Matt Bernacchi were the top three vote-getters…so far…for the three open seats in the Democratic race for those positions.

 

Earl Cunningham, Connie Grammarosa and Brett Kessler were leading in the Republican race for three County Council At-Large seats out of five candidates.

Michigan Opens for Dine-In Service

(Lansing, MI) - In Michigan, restaurants will be able to offer dine-in service again next week.

 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has lifted her Stay at Home Order.  Some businesses like gyms, hair salons, indoor theatres, and casinos will remain closed.

 

As many as 100 people can gather outside as long as they practice social distancing. Four Winds Casino is hoping to open back up in less than two weeks.

 

Pokagon Tribal officials have set June 15 as their target date for reopening their casinos in Indiana and Michigan. The tribe doesn’t have to follow the Governor’s Order because they’re a Sovereign nation. However, the tribe has chosen to respect state and federal orders related to COVID-19.

Winski Leading in Race for County Treasurer

(LaPorte County, IN) - The LaPorte County Auditor was ahead of her opponent for the Democratic nomination in the County Treasurer’s race in Tuesday’s primary with votes from nearly one-half of the precincts counted.

 

Joie Winski and all candidates in LaPorte County won’t know the final outcome until Friday, though, because of delays in counting an avalanche of mail-in ballots.

“It’s not over until it’s over. It’ll be hard to wait,” she said.

 

Winski with 45 of the 92 precincts in the county reporting was leading by 508 votes against Ron Hamilton, Jr., a former member of the Michigan City Common Council.

She had received about 54-percent of the vote. During the campaign, Winski touted her experience in local government and skills that vastly improved a disorganized office racked by corruption when she took over as auditor nearly eight-years ago.

 

Hamilton emphasized a need for fresh ideas in a government with many officeholders previously serving other elected positions.

 

The winner in November faces Republican John Matwyshyn who ran unopposed.

 

According to the LaPorte County Election Board, there were 4,717 mail-in ballots compared to 585 in the 2016 primary election.

 

“In order to have accurate results, the tabulation process is going to take more time than in years past,” Election Board officials said.       

72 Hour Delay in Tabulating All Votes

(LaPorte, IN) - We won’t know the final results of the Tuesday primary election in LaPorte County for 72 hours. According to LaPorte County Election Board officials, it’s going to take extra time to process all of the mail-in ballots cast because of COVID-19.

 

Election officials say more than 47 hundred ballots came in the mail or about eight times as many as four years ago. Apparently, some other counties in the state are experiencing similar challenges from the sharp rise in voting by mail.

Food Giveaway in LaPorte Wednesday

(LaPorte, IN) - Another food giveaway will be happening in LaPorte.  The Food Bank of Northern Indiana is returning Wednesday. Food will be passed out from 10 a.m. until noon outside LaPorte High School. This will happen in the F Street parking lot.

Three Teenagers Shot This Time in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Three more people have been shot in Michigan City.  This time, they were teenagers. Police say the shootings happened Saturday afternoon possibly in the Elston Grove neighborhood at 9th and Lafayette streets. 

 

Police say the victims were ages 15 and 14 and their injuries were not life-threatening. Police say another teenager was driving them to the hospital, but stopped before getting there and called 911.

 

Police say a 15-year old male has developed as a suspect and is presently being sought by the Fugitive Apprehension Street Team. Police say all of the people involved knew each other and believe the gun violence stems from feuding among local teenagers.

 

Police Chief Dion Campbell said he recently met with leaders of the black community concerned about this and other shootings and further meetings are planned to try and get a handle on the situation.

Rioting Stops Commuter Trains Again

(Chesterton, In) - South Shore commuter trains are not running again today. The decision is a precaution because of continued rioting in Chicago. South Shore officials say they’re not sure yet when service will be restored.

Youth Baseball League Cancelled in MC

(Michigan City, IN) - The youth baseball league in Michigan City has been canceled. 

 

Officials say not enough people registered to play. Summer clinics and a fall youth baseball league are being considered.

Crackdown Brewing on Shabby Rental Properties

(LaPorte, IN) - The mayor of LaPorte is vowing to crack down on slum landlords and irresponsible tenants. At Monday night’s city council meeting. Mayor Tom Dermody said it’s time to set a standard on a problem ignored for too long.

 

He said two apartment complexes in recent days generated 16 calls to the police, including an overdose. Dermody says he expects new ordinances addressing the problems to come before the city council for consideration in the future. Officials say there are some existing ordinances that can be used in a crackdown.

 

Those laws govern things like acts of nuisance and fire safety. City attorney Nick Otis says a recent inspection of one housing complex turned up a number of serious red flags like electrical problems that can already be addressed under current codes. Dermody says it’s time to correct living conditions, especially in areas before something tragic happens.

440 Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in LaPorte County

(Indianapolis, IN) - The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in La Porte County is well over 400 now.  According to state health officials, 440 positive test results have come from LaPorte County.

There are now two dozen deaths here.

 

A majority of the local cases are from the Westville Correctional Facility. According to the Indiana Department of Corrections, 178 offenders have tested positive. Six offenders have died.

106 staff members have tested positive. No deaths have occurred among prison staff.

Indiana Primary is Today

(LaPorte County, IN) - The polls are open. Today is the primary. Among the local races is for county treasurer. LaPorte County auditor Joie Winski is seeking the Democratic nomination against former Michigan City councilman Ron Hamilton, Jr.

 

Current LaPorte County treasurer Lynn Spevak is running for LaPorte County auditor. There are also three open seats for the county council at-large. Seeking reelection are democrats Mike Mollenhauer, Jeff Santana, and Sean Quinn.

 

They’re running against former councilman Matt Bernacchi and James Lane for the democratic nomination.

Grants for Basement Back Ups

(LaPorte, IN) - La Porte homes struggling with basement backups could receive money to help prevent further issues, according to Wastewater Department Director Jerry Jackson.

The City of La Porte has an extensive system of combined sewers, which carry both sanitary wastewater and stormwater. Jackson said intense rains like the one La Porte experienced over Memorial Day weekend can overload the combined sewers and cause backups in basements. He said the Basement Protection Grant Program was created to help residents alleviate the problem.

“We’ve made significant progress over the last several years to build separate storm sewers and reduce the volume of water in these combined systems, but the process is a long and expensive one,” Jackson said. “In the meantime, the grants can help fix the plumbing in homes requiring more immediate assistance.”

 

In order the receive a $1,500 grant, the applicant’s property must be attached to the combined sewer within the city limits. The property must also be a single-family residential dwelling and cannot be a rental unit.

 

Applications can be found online at CityOfLaPorte.com. For more information, contact the Wastewater Department at 219-362-2354.

Horses in Pasture Shot

(LaPorte County, IN) - Two horses were shot last evening in LaPorte County. The victim says one of the horses had to be put down. Dawn Forney says her family has six horses off Route 6 south of Kingsford Heights.

 

When only four came back for the night, she says her 15-year-old son Brandon went looking for the other two and found one shot between the eyes. Forney says the other horse was shot in the mouth.

 

Due to a leg injury that somehow occurred, she says they’re not sure if that horse will survive.

Forney says shooting for target practice often occurs in that area but she does not believe her horses were shot by accident.

Hospital Construction Resumes after COVID-19 Scare

(LaPorte, IN) - Construction of the new LaPorte Hospital resumed Monday after the job site was shutdown May 19 due to COVID-19.

Joe Forsthoffer, a spokesman for the general contractor Robins & Morton out of Birmingham, Alabama, said about 60 of the over 200 workers tested positive for the virus.

Forsthoffer said returning workers under the Centers for Disease Control guidelines had to produce certification they tested negative or spent 14 days in self-isolation without symptoms during the last 72 hours.

He said workers testing positive must show they no longer had symptoms in the last 72 hours 10 days after first diagnosed.

Forsthoffer said all returning workers daily are now required to have their temperatures checked and fill out a health screening questionnaire to make sure they haven’t developed symptoms or had recent contact with someone exhibiting symptoms.

He also said workers must wear face coverings.

“We’ve implemented additional health and safety measures to provide an added level of assurance for everyone working on the project. Those steps are in addition to the extensive protocols all following CDC guidance that was already in place,” Forsthoffer said.

Work on the $125 million hospital at State and Tyler streets were suspended when four workers exhibiting symptoms tested positive for the virus.

Six more workers exhibiting signs of being infected soon came back with positive test results.

SERVPRO of LaPorte County spent 48 hours last week cleaning and disinfecting the site.

The hospital is still on target for completion in late summer or early fall.

Fire Damaged House Torn Down

(LaPorte, IN) - A LaPorte house heavily damaged by fire earlier this year has been torn down.

The two-story house on State St. near Oregon St. had been used recently by firefighters for practice drills at the permission of the owner since he planned to have it torn down.  There were no injuries in the fire. A passerby woke up Cliff Snyder and his daughter who were sleeping

at the time of the fire several weeks ago.

No Demonstrations in LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - There were no demonstrations in LaPorte last evening. All main entranceways into the city were blocked during the night. Mayor Tom Dermody says he took action after information

developed that indicated demonstrators were on their way here. Dermody says the death of George Floyd was tragic and protesting

 

is one thing but he didn’t want the violence and destruction from demonstrators elsewhere happening here. As it turned out, Dermody says no demonstrators had to be turned away from the barricades on U.S 35, Indiana 39 and Indiana 2.

George Floyd Death Protest in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City is where one of the many nationwide protests occurred last night over the police officer killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

 

In Michigan City, protesters gathered behind the police station and later walked down Michigan Boulevard then over to the area of Lighthouse Premium Outlets Mall.  They chanted “I can’t breathe,” the words Floyd uttered on a video recording as he begged the officer to remove his knee from his neck.

 

There are reports of damaged windows at the mall and bottles tossed at police. There were also reports of police using tear gas in Merrillville where a stretch of U.S 30 was closed because of the demonstrators.

Washington Park Closing Early for Now

(Michigan City, IN) - Washington Park in Michigan City is now closing early. Lack of social distancing and a shooting the previous weekend were among the factors cited by the mayor’s office for closing the park at 9 p.m.

 

Mayor Duane Parry says turn out was greater than expected during the Memorial Day weekend.

Many people at the beach and in the main parking lot did not practice social distancing.

He says there were also several disturbances, fights and a shooting that weekend.

 

Police and fire provide security at the park but without cooperation from the public, it’s a difficult task. Parry says hours at the park will be extended once responsible, safe behavior resumes.

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