Local News Archives for 2020-07

COVID-19 Takes the Field

New Prairie’s football team is the latest area high school team to be benched for coronavirus. Head Coach Casey McKim announced to the school community Thursday evening that someone in their program has tested positive. Practice Friday was cancelled and will not resume until Wednesday, August 5.

The school confirmed that a member of the coaching staff tested positive, but did not come into close contact with players. The practice hiatus, they say, is out of an abundance of caution, as suggested by the State and County Health Departments.

Michigan City athletes returned to play this week after a 10-day layoff due to a positive COVID test.

La Porte City Hall Remaining Closed

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte City Hall will remain closed to the public.  The building was scheduled to open by appointment only on Monday.  However, La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody indicates that with the Governors actions this week of reinforcing the the statewide "stay at home" restrictions, the decision has been made to keep La Porte City Hall closed through the end of August.

 

Mayor Dermody suggests the date for reopening City Hall could change again, depending on how the COVID-19 numbers look in the weeks ahead. 

 

City Hall has been opening its doors only for city council and other public meetings.

Suspected New Buffalo Drowning Victim Identified

(New Buffalo, MI) - The possible drowning victim at New Buffalo last evening has been identified.

Police say he was a 24-year-old man from Missouri. He was a contractor working in the area.

Police say the man whose name was not released was last seen near the break wall.  New Buffalo Police Chief Rich Killips says waves were six feet high at the time and the riptides were exceptionally strong. 

 

Two New Buffalo Police officers suffered minor injuries while trying to locate the victim. They were hurt as waves pounded their way over the break wall.

Two More Possible Drownings in Lake Michigan

(Berrien County, MI) - There was a possible drowning and one confirmed drowning on Lake Michigan in Berrien County last evening.  A 13-year-old was reported missing about 9 p.m. at Warren Dunes near Sawyer. A search called off by darkness will resume this morning, police said.

 

Four swimmers were also rescued last evening in St. Joseph. According to Berrien County Police, a 44-year old man drowned during that rescue. Police say he was trying to save his children caught in an undertow.  His children, ages 17 and 12, were among the four people rescued at that beach.

The man who drowned in that incident was from Lakeville.

Starke County Homicide Investigation

(Starke County, IN) - Authorities in Starke County are investigating a homicide.  So far, no arrests have been reported.

 

About 3:30 a.m. yesterday, police say Nicholas Rudd of North Judson

was found dead at a residence.  Police say he died from a severe wound to his neck.  How the injury was inflicted was not disclosed but police say it wasn’t from a shooting.

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Starke County Sheriff's Office.

Search for Missing Swimmer

(New Buffalo, MI.)- Authorities were searching Lake Michigan Thursday evening for a possible drowning victim at New Buffalo. Emergency responders were called to the municipal beach about 7:30 p.m.  New Buffalo Police Chief Rich Killips said there was a report of a missing swimmer.

 

No further details were released but a rescue boat on the very choppy lake was spending a great deal of time near the break wall.  A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter aiding in the search was making passes over the shoreline on both sides of the break wall.  City Manager Dave Richards said red flags advising people not to go into the lake were posted at the beach.

 

OWI Alleged in Crash

(LaPorte, IN) - A LaPorte man is charged with striking a vehicle and causing injury while driving intoxicated.

 

70-year old Larry Reaves had an alleged blood alcohol level of .35-percent or more than four-times the legal limit, LaPorte County Police said.

 

Reaves hit the back end of a vehicle Saturday on State Road 39 at Severs Road.

 

Police said Reaves drove off but soon came to a stop after striking a guard rail.

 

Reaves was treated for a broken rib and other injuries then after receiving medical clearance was transported to the county jail.

 

The other driver, 28 year old Britney Jefferies also of LaPorte sustained just minor injuries, police said.

Boardwalk Going Up at Clear Lake

(LaPorte, IN) - A 400-foot boardwalk above the water in LaPorte is going up as part of the ongoing transformation of Clear Lake as a destination.  The eight-foot-wide boardwalk at the southwest corner of the lake will have two platforms extending out for people to sit on park benches to fish or simply look out over the water.

 

It’s the latest feature added to a former industrial area with a trail system being developed and soon 200 resort-type lakefront condominiums.  “It’s just one more piece in making that area as attractive as possible for our residents and for people to come out and recreate,” said Bert Cook, executive director of the LaPorte Economic Advancement Partnership.

 

The $688,000 cost of the boardwalk is funded primarily by the Healthcare Foundation of LaPorte, said city engineer Nick Minich.  

 

Minich said construction beginning in early July is expected to finish sometime in September.

The boardwalk will have a wood surface for use by pedestrians and bicyclists.

 

There will be handrails made of wood on both sides and wire screen mesh between the railings and travel surface to guard against falling over the edge.

 

Clear Lake is beside New Porte Landing, an over 50-acre brownfield that’s had businesses like Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Dunes Volleyball Center, and a new medical office facility go up the past few years.

 

Flaherty & Collins Properties out of Indianapolis is expected to begin construction of the lakefront condominiums next month on a parcel recently cleaned-up on the east side of the former industrial site.

 

Trails are also being developed around Clear Lake and will be connected to the new Chessie Trail running from Pine Lake and, eventually, to the downtown. Cook said the connections will give trail users access to all of the amenities along the way.  The improvements are part of the “Heart of LaPorte” plan aimed at turning the city into a healthier more enjoyable place attracting more retailers and restaurants.

 

“Things are actually happening and it’s only the beginning,” said Mayor Tom Dermody.

Oregon Davis Moves Back Start of School

(Hamlet, IN) - The Oregon Davis School Corporation has pushed back the start of the school year by three days.  The fall semester will begin there on the 11th of next month.

 

School officials states the main reason for the delay is to prepare for virtual learning.  Over 20 percent of the students have chosen the virtual option which was more than school officials expected.  They indicated that extra time is also needed to prepare for the mandates from the Governor and Centers for Disease Control officials.

Proposal to Reopen Washington Park with Restrictions

(Michigan City, IN) - No decision yet on when to reopen Washington Park in Michigan City.  There is a proposal to reopen the beach, zoo and other amenities at the park for local residents only.

 

Michigan City City Councilman Paul Pryzbylinski, who presented an ordinance to reopen the park with access restrictions, believes enforcement can be done adequately to keep down attendance for proper social distancing at the lakefront.  The measure was discussed by the council Tuesday night.

 

The council is scheduled to meet again Thursday night to make a decision on the proposal.

Drive-Thru College Admissions Friday

(Westville, IN) - Drive thru admissions will be offered tomorrow at Purdue University Northwest.The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the campuses at Westville and Hammond.

 

Students will turn in applications and transcripts without getting out of their vehicles, PNW officials said.  Prospective students will know if they’ve been accepted the following day.

 

A combination of in school and online formats will be offered at PNW for the fall semester.

Statewide Eviction Ban Extended

(Indianapolis, IN) - A statewide ban on foreclosure evictions has been extended for two weeks.  The Governor says the moratorium will run now through the 14th of August.  It was previously set to expire tomorrow.

 

Governor Eric Holcomb also revealed current stay at home restrictions related to COVID-19 will remain in effect until the August 27th .

 

Indiana has seen a spike in cases but Holcomb said he believes the situation here is still manageable.

Record Number of Scholarships Awarded

(Michigan City, IN) - Unity Foundation of La Porte County is providing a record number of scholarships to more than 200 students in the fall.  Total value of the scholarships is $250,000.

 

Unity Foundation has given more than $5 million in scholarships since 1992.  Officials say this year’s LaPorte County recipients represent 45 colleges and universities across the country.

Cows "Moooving" for a Short Stay Downtown

(La Porte, IN) - Farm animals are coming to downtown LaPorte.  

 

Fair Oaks Farm will have a display at the Farmers Market on Saturday. A couple of cows and other fun farm-related things especially

for children will be there, said Angela Rose, Downtown Coordinator for the city of La Porte.

 

She says it’s about teaching kids where milk and other food comes from in a spirited manner.

 

The Farmers Market is Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Lincolnway and Monroe Street.

Free School Supply Give Away

(Michigan City, IN) - Free school supplies will be given out prior to the start of school in Michigan City.  

 

Superintendent Barbara Eason-Watkins says the materials for all students can be picked up on August 8th at Michigan City School. She says people won’t have to get out of their cars because there will be a drive-up lane to receive the supplies.

 

The school supply giveaway will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Former Governor Remembered Locally

(LaPorte, IN) - Former Indiana State Senator and current LaPorte School board member Jim Arnold said he cried when learning about the death of former governor Joe Kernan who he described as one of the finest public officials “he ever met or ever will meet.”

 

Arnold said he was the LaPorte County sheriff when their paths first crossed and over the years he remained in contact with the former three term mayor of South Bend.

 

Arnold said he once attended a minor league baseball game in South Bend with Kernan and they were the last ones to leave the stadium because of all of the vendors shaking his hand and telling him they wished he was involved in local politics again.

 

He said Kernan who treated strangers like friends seemed just as receptive in his interaction with them.

 

Arnold also said Kernan was once invited to stop by the Veterans of Foreign Wars branch in Rolling Prairie on his way back to South Bend after a speaking engagement in Michigan City.

 

He lived up to his promise and had a beer with everyone.

 

“If there was one thing that made him so well-loved he always had his feet on the ground. He would never, never ever refuse to talk to anybody about anything they wanted to talk about,” he said.

“He was just a one of a kind.  He can’t be replaced,” Arnold said.

 

LaPorte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski said he was also taken back at how the former governor was so friendly and down to earth.

 

He first met him when Kernan was the guest speaker at a ceremony for local veterans in 2004.

 

Mrozinski, who also saw combat duty in the Vietnam War, later ran into former governor at other functions including one where his nephews growing up at the time were invited by Kernan to have a seat next to him.

 

“Very nice man. He was a true American no doubt about it,” he said.

Hospital Bed Use from Coronavirus Increases

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana has seen a noticeable increase in people hospitalized by COVID-19.

 

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, just over 900 people in the state were hospitalized with the virus on Monday.  That’s about a 50 percent increase from a month ago, officials said.  And,18 more people have died statewide.

 

Total deaths statewide are just over 2900, according to the ISDH.

School Year in Michigan City to Begin Online

(Michigan City, IN) - The school year In Michigan City will start online.  Under the plan approved last night by the school board, all classes will be virtual until the 19th of October.

 

However, whether the switch happens will depend on the number of coronavirus cases at the time, school officials said.  If learning in the classroom happens, officials said parents will be given the option of staying with at home learning.

 

Some "hands on" classes in areas like career and technical education will continue to be offered in person.

Victim in Fatal Crash Identified

(Fish Lake, IN) - Authorities have identified the driver killed in a head on collision last week here in La Porte County.  According to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, the vicitm was 29-year old Taren Adair was from Grovertown. 

 

The other driver was 60-year old John Niego from Michigan City.  Niego was taken by helicopter from the crash site on Route 6 near Fish Lake.

 

Police say Adair was westbound in an SUV while Niego was eastbound in a pick-up  truck.  Police say exactly how the late Friday morning crash happened was still under investigation.

Former Mayor and Governor Passes Away

(Indianapolis, IN) - Former Indiana Governor, Joe Kernan, passed away early Wednesday morning at the age of 74 years old.

 

Kernan, a Democrat, was Mayor of South Bend before becoming Lieutenant Governor.  He became Governor when Frank O’Bannon passed away while in office.

 

Kernan had been battling Alzheimer’s disease.

Gift Cards for Blood

(La Porte County, IN) - There’s a need for blood and the American Red Cross is offering an incentive to generate more donors.

 

A $5 Amazon gift card will be given for donating.

 

People can give blood in La Porte on August 5th at Sacred Heart Church, August 6th at the Civic Auditorium and August 10th at the First Church of God.

 

In Michigan City, blood will be taken August 4th at St. John’s United Church of Christ, August 7th at First United Methodist Church and August 13th at Immanuel Lutheran Church.

 

Donors can also go to Wanatah on August 5th at Kankakee Valley REMC.

Helicopter Takes Patient from Crash Site

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - Two people were injured in a late Tuesday morning collision between a passenger vehicle and semi-truck in LaPorte County.  It happened at about 10 a.m. (Central Time) near Rolling Prairie.

 

LaPorte County Police deputy David Francis said statements from witnesses indicate the passenger vehicle pulled out from a stop sign on Oak Knoll Road into the path of a semi-truck westbound on U.S 20.

The semi and passenger vehicle came to rest in a wooded area on the north side of the highway several hundred feet from the point of impact.  One person involved in the crash was taken by a medical helicopter.

 

Another person was transported by ambulance.  LaPorte County Emergency Medical Service director Andrew McGuire said both patients were taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend.

 

Their conditions were not known.   “Anytime we bring a helicopter in usually it’s pretty serious,” McGuire said.

 

All lanes of U.S 20 in both directions were closed for more than two hours to allow for the crash site to be investigated and cleaned up.

 

Devon Wells, an employee at the nearby New Prairie Small Animal Clinic, said she and her co-workers heard the collision then after seeing the wreckage and nobody getting out of the vehicles called 911. “It was kind of scary,” she said.

 

The names of the people involved in the crash and other details have not yet been released by LaPorte County Police.

More Help for Small Businesses Sought

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte County is applying for another grant to help small businesses hurt financially by the pandemic.

 

Recently, a $250,000 grant from the state was given to 29 small businesses in the unincorporated areas of La Porte County.

 

The La Porte County Council Monday night gave its blessing to applying for another $250,000 state grant.

 

Tony Rodriquez, Executive Director of the La Porte County Office of Economic and Community Development, said 27 of the 29 businesses chosen to receive money under the first grant have received checks.

Construction Expected Soon at Courthouse

(Michigan City, IN) - Construction could start soon on the courthouse in Michigan City.

The La Porte County Council Monday night approved financing for the project.  Bids presently under review are expected to be approved next month.

 

The cost is not to exceed 23 million dollars under a cap imposed on the project.  Council Rresident Randy Novak says the financing will be for 20-years with an option to retire the entire balance after 10-years.

 

The council also approved relocating all of the employees at the courthouse during the construction.  Work is expected to begin in September.

 

The plan is to double the size of the Courthouse with this renovation, with an addition being built on the back of the century old structure.

La Porte's Return to School Plan Adopted

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Community School Corporation adopted their "Getting Back on Track" plan for reopening schools during their School Board meeting last evening.  Beginning next week, Parents are being asked to select which option of registration they choose for their children.  The options are to send their children to school for "in person instruction" or to opt for "distance learning" as the alternative.

 

The school board also pushed back the start of school to August 24 for students, allowing faculity and family ample time to prepare for the changes.

 

Superintendent Mark Francesconi says social distancing and mask wearing by students and teachers will be among the safety precautions taken inside school buildings.  On school buses, masks will also be required.  A fourth lunch period was also added at the high school to provide adequate space for social distancing.

 

Francesconi states in-person learning could be changed to distance learning, or a combination of both, during the school year depending on the number of COVID-19 cases in the area.  Any student testing positive will be home quarantined and switch to distance-learning until cleared to return to school, he said.

 

Each School has their own Covid-19 plan, which is detailed in this document presented at the School Board meeting last evening.  Follow the link and scroll down to the school of interent.

New Prairie Braces for a Return to the Classrooms

"It's going to be a roller coaster this year. We need to get ready for the ride."

That's the assessment of New Prairie school board president Phil King regarding the upcoming school year. About 75 New Prairie parents and teachers attended a public meeting Monday to hear what school will be like when it resumes in less than three weeks.

Administrators recently sent out a second round of surveys to parents. Superintendent Dr. Paul White noted that the most popular single option was returning to school 100%. However, he acknowledged that just shy of 60% of respondents preferred some other option.

Most in attendance Monday night seemed to favor students returning to classrooms in some capacity. Only one person spoke out against.

Ultimately, the board accepted White's recommendation to start the year with a 50% attendance schedule. Students will attend classes two days per week and work from home the other three. Administrators stress that the online portion will be handled better this year, with continued interaction from teachers and more accountability expected from students.

White says enough families requested an online-only option for a virtual academy to be offered, even though that wasn't part of the original plan. "It got to the point the number was large enough," White says, "that we felt like we had a responsibility." White says about 150 families wanted online-only, and with over 400 others preferring some form of e-learning, he suspects the virtual academy will grow.

As for those returning to New Prairie classrooms, they will be donning masks both in school and on busses. Other precautions may be put in place, depending on the change in public health conditions in coming weeks.

The key, leaders agree, is flexibility. "We are farther outside the box than we ever thought we'd have to be in education," says board member Al Williamson. "Let's make it fun; let's do something better."

The fun at New Prairie starts August 13.

More Residential Properties Condemned

(La Porte, IN) - The city of LaPorte has condemned two more residential properties.  

 

They’re on Division Street and Jefferson Avenue. Code Enforcement director Jeff Batchelor says there were longstanding problems at each location.  He cited problems with the foundation, plumbing, and the electrical wiring at the multi-unit apartment house on Division Street.  The roof in major need of repair along with constant calls to police for things like unruly behavior were cited at the Jefferson Avenue property.

 

Batchelor says the owners were given 10 days to come up to code or abandon the properties.

Mayor Tom Dermody has been aggressive in setting a standard for housing since taking office in January. 

Indiana COVID-19 Cases Decline Again

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) today announced that 561 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at ISDH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and private laboratories. That brings to 62,907 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s total

 

A total of 2,709 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of three over the previous day. Another 197 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by ISDH and occurred over multiple days.       

   

To date, 707,791 tests have been reported to ISDH, up from 701,311 on Sunday. 

 

ISDH is hosting drive-thru clinics from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday in Goshen, Elkhart, Boonville, Hammond, Knox, Nashville, Plymouth, Rensselear, Chrisney, Tell City, Vevay, Warsaw, Bluffton, West Lafayette and Gary.

HannaFest Cancelled by Pandemic

(Hanna, IN) - Another local festival has been cancelled due to COVID-19.  The annual HannaFest will not be held this year.

 

HannaFest chairwoman Heather Stevens says a recent increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases in the southern part of LaPorte County was the deciding factor.  On the bright side, Stevens said HannaFest saw an increase in volunteers this year and plans will begin soon for next year’s event.

Head-On Crash Proves Fatal

(Fish Lake, IN) - LaPorte County Police are investigating a fatal motor vehicle collision that happened about noon Friday on U.S 6 near Fish Lake. 

 

LaPorte County Police said a pick-up truck, after possibly sideswiping a semi, hit an oncoming passenger vehicle head-on.  The driver of the pick-up and a two-year-old child in the passenger vehicle were taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend.  The driver of the passenger vehicle passed away, police said.

 

So far, the names of the people involved in the crash have not been released.

Recent Dip in Statewide COVID-19 Cases

(Indianapolis, IN) - The number of new coronavirus cases in the state has gone down for two consecutive days.  The Indiana State Department of Health reported 860 new cases Sunday or 64 less than the day before and 151 less than Friday.  The dip comes after cases climbed every day last week.

 

Here in LaPorte County, total confirmed cases now stand at 751 and 29 deaths, according to ISDH officials.

New Principal at LaPorte Grade School

(LaPorte, IN) - A grade school in LaPorte has a new principal.  Kristen Doty is now in charge at Riley Elementary School. 

 

The former teacher at Riley replaces Chris Alber who recently became principal at LaPorte High School.  Alber took over for Ben Tonagel who’s now assistant superintendent of elementary education.  Tonagel replaced Steve Manering when he retired a few months ago.

Buyer for Vacant Hardware Store

(New Buffalo, MI) - There’s a buyer for the old True Value Hardware store in New Buffalo.  The city now owns the S. Whittaker St. property vacant for several years.  A bid for $139.000 was accepted by the city council last week.

 

City Manager Dave Richards says the buyer has a year to develop the property under terms of the sale about four months from being officially closed on.  Richards says what might go inside the old True Value building is not yet known.

New History Museum in New Carlisle

(New Carlisle) - New Carlisle’s history museum has come back to life in a different location.

For years, the historical society there occupied a historic mansion on the outskirts of town. For the last three years or so, the group has been working to bring their history back to downtown.

After selling off their old home, known as the Old Republic, the group set its sights on a vacant storefront.

 

Museum director Dana Groves says they wanted to make their collection of historic items more accessible to the public. "We were really hoping to have a downtown location and be part of the hustle and bustle," she says. "The Old Republic was a wonderful property, but I think some people weren't sure from the street if it was a private home, or if they could go up there."

The new location is part of what used to be Miller’s Home Café. Groves says mostly local volunteers were responsible for rehabbing the building. "I call them the Fab Five," Groves says of her helpers. "Five guys retired, all have different special skills. They did the bulk of the work, which of course saved us thousands of dollars. We did hire some local contractors, but mostly volunteers. It was neat to see the community come together."

 

They cut the ribbon on the new museum last weekend, and it’s now open Tuesday through Friday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Purdue Northwest announces plans for fall semester

(Hammond and Westville, IN). – Purdue University Northwest (PNW) today shared with students, faculty and staff plans for welcoming students back, in person and virtually, for the fall 2020 semester.

 

“These past few months have been very challenging and we all are excited to begin the new semester together,” said Chancellor Thomas L. Keon. “We thank you for your perseverance, dedication, and hard work during the spring semester and throughout the summer. As a campus community, it is all of our responsibility to keep ourselves and others safe.”

 

A message to the PNW community outlined new protocols and procedures focused on protecting health and safety. The guidelines are based on several months of work by PNW’s Safe Return to Campus Task Force, which assessed all aspects of the pandemic’s impact to the higher education environment and provided recommendations guided by best practices and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 

“Our goal is to ensure students continue to gain the enriching experiences they expect from a PNW education this fall,” said Kenneth C. Holford, provost and vice-chancellor of Academic Affairs. “Faculty are preparing to offer engaging learning experiences whether students take courses in face-to-face, hybrid, virtual or 100% online formats.”

 

The guidelines for the PNW campuses include: 

  • As previously announced, PNW plans to start the fall semester, as scheduled, on Aug. 24 and will have the usual breaks for Labor Day (Sept. 7), Fall Break (Oct. 12-13) and Thanksgiving Break (Nov. 25-28). Finals week is Dec. 14-19.
  • Updates to the course schedule are complete. Students who are registered for fall will receive an email directly from the Registrar’s office next week. Students who are not yet registered, or those interested in applying to PNW for fall are encouraged to check the online schedule, where they can browse courses and view the updated formats, instructors and locations.
  • Student-facing offices will resume in-person, on-campus hours beginning Aug. 10.
  • All faculty, staff and students are required to complete a short learning module that reminds participants of their collective responsibilities to help keep themselves and their community healthy and safe. The training covers proper area sanitization practices, proper hand washing and how to safely wear a face covering.
  • Face coverings are required on campus, which is a PNW protocol. Every campus member will receive two cloth, reusable face coverings from PNW.
  • Social distancing has become the regular and safest practice and PNW has adjusted public spaces to keep our community as safe as possible. We have repurposed some larger spaces on both campuses to be used as classrooms allowing for greater social distancing, including Alumni Hall in the Student Union and Library on our Hammond Campus and the Great Hall in the Dworkin Center on our Westville Campus.
  • Classrooms, dining areas, bathrooms, public spaces, and office areas will be regularly cleaned and disinfected. PNW has instituted COVID-19 cleaning and disinfecting protocols. Hand sanitizer stations have been added throughout the campuses.
  • All on-campus camps and conferences have been canceled until 2021.
  • A guest policy has been implemented.
  • As an additional measure to protect health and safety, PNW will be adding a pre-screening application to the PNW mobile application. Using the PNW Daily Self Screen function via the PNW app on a smartphone, students, faculty, staff and visitors can pre-screen themselves for symptoms of COVID-19, and are asked to not come to campus if they have any symptom, even if mild.
  • PNW Housing has an extensive plan for keeping residents safe. Students who have rooms reserved in University Village for fall are receiving information about room assignments and move-in. We have a plan for quarantine and isolation of residential students should the need arise.
  • A form on the university website offers an opportunity for any individual with questions or concerns about PNW’s COVID-19 response to provide feedback.

 

PNW will continue to monitor local, state and national conditions and follow public health guidelines as the pandemic situation evolves. Updates will be provided via the PNW Safe Return to Campus website.

Paying Online to be Made Easier

(LaPorte, IN) - The city of LaPorte is making online payments easier.  The current digital system will be upgraded soon to make paying water bills, for example, simpler online.

 

Also being added is a push-button system for paying on the phone around the clock. Clerk-Treasurer Courtney Parthun says the new digital payment system will be easy for young and old to navigate.

 

The drop boxes outside the city hall are also going to be larger due to recent heavy use from COVID-19. The drop boxes are also going to be made more secure.

Volunteers Hailed for Keeping City Clean

(Michigan City, IN) - A pat on the back is being given to volunteers picking up litter in Michigan City.

The Northwest Indiana Clean Up Corp has a dozen or more active members locally. City councilman Don Pryzbylinski says they go out every Wednesday morning picking up litter at different locations. He says some of the volunteers are teachers in the public schools.

New COVID-19 Cases Top 1,000

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana has recorded the highest number of COVID-19 cases in a single day.

The Indiana State Department of Health reported Friday 1,011 new cases along with four additional deaths. For a while, new cases daily statewide had fallen below 500.

 

Officials say LaPorte County now has a total of 736 confirmed cases and 29 deaths. There are more than 27-hundred cases in St. Joseph County, just under one-thousand in Porter County and 143 in Starke County, ISDH officials said.

Fruit Picking Bandits Strike Again

(Three Rivers, MI) - Thousands of dollars in stolen fruit picked from a Michigan farm has growers worried a rash of similar thefts last fall was just the beginning.

 

“This may be a one-time thing.  Hopefully, that will be that but it seems like there’s a pattern emerging and farmers should be aware,” said Ben Smith, executive secretary of the Michigan State Horticultural Society.

 

An estimated $6,000 in cherries, blueberries and strawberries were taken from the trees and bushes at Corey Lake Orchards near Three Rivers in the southwest part of the state.

 

Beth Hubbard, owner and operator of the 250 acre fruit and vegetable farm, told Michigan Farm Bureau the mid-July theft happened during the night.

 

An early May freeze killed much of her cherry crop this year but her heirloom yellow cherry trees were full of fruit.

 

She discovered the thefts after staff members she sent to harvest the yellow cherries returned empty handed.

 

“They came back and said well, there aren’t any.  I said, no, you’re missing the trees.  Go back and look again.  That was pretty shocking,” Hubbard said.

 

At least two other southwest Michigan farms and one in northern Indiana were hit by fresh fruit bandits in October.

 

More than three acres of apple trees at Spicer Farms in Fenton were picked clean and 350 pumpkins were taken from McCallum’s Orchard & Cider Mill in Jaddo.

 

About 20,000 pounds of apples were picked from the trees at Williams Orchard near LaPorte the previous month.

 

No suspects have been reported in any of the cases.

 

Smith and others in the fresh produce trade agree with authorities who suspect the thefts are the work of fast working professionals with quick access to buyers of the stolen fruit.

 

“This isn’t just somebody coming in to pick for their own consumption,” said Audrey Sebolt, associate horticulturalist and industry relations specialist with Michigan Farm Bureau.

 

Smith said he has no idea where the fruit is taken but feels it might be offered at farmers markets or roadside stands in more populated areas like Chicago and Detroit.

 

He doubts if any grocery store is winding up with it because of the connections between retailers and reputable suppliers.

 

“With a retailer, you kind of got to have a relationship so that makes it tough to have a relationship based on theft,” Smith said.

 

Smith said it’s tough for growers to protect themselves against such thefts given the amount of acreage eyes alone can’t watch over around the clock.

 

He said video cameras are an option but the footage isn’t always of high enough quality to identity suspects captured by the lens.

 

Smith said deer fencing around the crop might be more effective because it would impede the movement thieves rely on to quickly steal large volumes of product.

 

Deer fencing might be too costly, though, depending on the acreage and value of the crop.

Smith said another potential theft prevent tool is noise producing motion sensors to scare off intruders.

 

He said the best and more cost effective option could be hiring a security guard to patrol the grounds during harvest season.

 

Smith also works at Hinkelman Farms which has about 500 acres of grapes along with corn and soybeans near Watervliet.

 

He hopes the light shed on the cases will discourage thieves from striking again.

 

“The whole point of getting the word out is we knew they happened last fall and to have it start up again so soon in the summer was concerning that maybe this is going to become a bigger thing,” he said.

 

New Uses Explored for Old Car Lot

(LaPorte, IN) - A former car lot in LaPorte could have a totally different use in the future. 

City Planner Tom Casey says anything from retail to recreation could go where Don George Ford used to be along Pine Lake Ave. across from Dunkin Donuts.

 

Casey and Mayor Tom Dermody visited the site yesterday and mentioned facilities for kayaking as another possibility for the property. The city recently acquired the property vacant for many years now.

Columbus Statues in Chicago Come Down

(Chicago) - Statues have now come down just a short drive from here. It happened this morning in Chicago. A large crane took down a statue of Christopher Columbus at Grant Park. A second Columbus statue came down a few hours later in a neighborhood called Little Italy.

Arrest for Double Shooting

(Michigan City, IN) - An arrest has been made for double shooting in Michigan City earlier this year. 35-year old Darryl Fields, Jr. is charged with attempted murder and other counts. 

Police say he was taken into custody at his home in the 200 block of Detroit St. Police say two people were shot in January at Franklin St. and DeWolfe St. Further details about the shooting were not disclosed. Fields was being held on $100,000 cash-only bond.

New Owner for Downtown Building

(LaPorte, IN) - Downtown LaPorte is seeing more private investment.  A building in the 700 block of Lincolnway beside Plaza 618 was recently purchased by Dudley Beyler. Mayor Tom Dermody says there’s room for three commercial spaces in the property now being prepared for some type of reuse. “One of the things we want to have is development and improvement so we’re excited about this,” he said. What might be going inside that structure is not known.

House Fire Remains Under Investigation

(LaPorte, IN) - The cause of a recent house fire in LaPorte is still under investigation.  A closed front porch was heavily damaged 10 days ago on Linwood Street. Fire Chief Andy Snyder says a man and woman sleeping at the time made it out safely after noticing light from the fire shining in their bedroom window.

 

Snyder said the fire made it inside the front portion of the home but a quick knockdown kept the flames from advancing any further.

 

Snyder says the cause is not known but they’re leaning toward careless smoking because the porch is where smoking frequently occurred at the residence.

Cause of Boat Fire Undetermined

(New Buffalo, MI) - The cause of a boat fire in Lake Michigan this week may never be known.

 

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, an estimated 10 people pretty much from the same family made it off safely. The over 30-foot boat was about a half-mile off the shoreline when it caught fire Tuesday.

 

New Buffalo Fire Chief Chris Huston says the owner reported the engine wasn’t quite running right, but what started the fire couldn’t be determined.  Huston says the people on the boat were from New Buffalo.

 

Another boater seeing smoke went over and allowed the victims to board his watercraft.  There were no injuries. Huston said every person on the watercraft had a life jacket on and likely would have been fine had they been forced to jump into the water.

Lakefront to Remain Closed for Another Week

 

       
       

PRESS Release

OFFICE OF MAYOR DUANE PARRY

City of Michigan City

MAYOR EXTENDS CLOSING OF WASHINGTON PARK

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On Wednesday, Governor Holcomb issued a statewide facemask mandate, which includes outdoor public areas where a distance of six feet from others cannot be maintained. 

 

Due to his order and the recent spikes in local COVID-19 cases, deaths, and the huge influx of out of state visitors to Washington Park, Mayor Parry has issued an Executive Order continuing the closure of Washington Park for an additional seven days.

 

Effective Friday, July 24th, 2020 at 12:01 am, through midnight on Thursday, July 30th , 2020, Washington Park, Senior Center, Fedder’s Alley, the Zoo, and Sunset Grille will be closed.

 

There should be no traffic, (vehicular, pedestrian, motorcyclist, and bicyclist traffic, or otherwise) through Washington Park and the closed parking facilities. 

 

This closure will undoubtedly cause inconveniences and disruptions to those who visit, and utilize our beachfront, zoo, and park.

 

The City is committed under these trying conditions to take precautionary and necessary measures to reduce the risk of spreading the virus locally.

 

Mayor Parry has requested that the Park Board immediately meet to discuss the remainder of park operations this year along with developing new rules and guidelines for Washington Park to adapt to the fluid changes in the Pandemic.

 

This order remains subject to further extension by the City Council, after seven days, if they believe the circumstances so warrant.

 

The Mayor’s office will continue to keep the public apprised of information including any action taken on the local and state level to help guide our City through these tough times.

 

Official Calls for Lakefront Alcohol Ban

(Michigan City, IN) - A ban on alcohol is being called for to reduce violence at the lakefront in Michigan City.  Councilman Paul Pryzbylinski says a lid can be placed on drinking by the park department right away without having to seek approval from the city council.

 

The proposed ban is being called for in response to a recent spree of acts like gunfire at or near Washington Park. One of the violent outbursts at the lakefront recently ended up in a fatal shooting.

 

Officials say police have responded to about 80 calls involving gunfire throughout the city so far this year.

Restaurant with Infected Workers Temporarily Closed

(Michigan City, IN) - A popular downtown Michigan City restaurant is closed due to coronavirus.

Fiddlehead Restaurant at 422 Franklin St. shut its doors yesterday.  Officials say it’s a response to kitchen staff workers testing positive. The entire staff is being tested and the facility sanitized during the closure. So far, when the establishment will reopen has not been revealed.

Drive Up Service Coming to City Hall

(LaPorte, IN)- LaPorte residents will be able to drive up to City Hall and pay their water bills inside vacuum drawn tubes.

 

Clerk-Treasurer Courtney Parthun said the drive up service is another way of keeping people during the pandemic safe especially once City Hall at some point reopens to the public.

“It will minimize foot traffic,” she said.

 

Parthun said the $35,000 cost of the system like the ones used at banks will be covered by federal COVID-19 relief dollars.

 

A drive up lane will be created on the east side of the building.

 

People during normal business hours can place their water bill payments inside a tube and speak to a city employee whose face will appear on a monitor.

 

The worker on the inside will receive the tube delivered back and forth in a vacuum line.

Parthun said the service can also be used for things like exchanging city documents requiring a signature.

 

She hopes the system is up and running by no later than October.

 

The city is also upgrading its digital system for making utility bill payments online easier.

A push button option of paying bills on the phone around round the clock is being added.

Payment drop boxes outside City Hall will be made larger and more secure.

 

Parthun said City Hall will reopen by appointment only at first but when is not known given all of the uncertainty with the virus.

In the meantime, “we’ve had to look at different ways to conduct business,” she said.

Governor Holcomb Announces Mask Mandate for Indiana

(Indianapolis, IN)  - Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced a mask mandate for the state on Wednesday. It will start on July 27. Holcomb says they will be required for anyone over the age of eight-years-old while inside, in public spaces, and other environments when social distancing is not possible.

 

Holcomb also said masks will be required in public schools for kids in the 3rd grade and older.

Holcomb said the deciding factors include an increase in COVID-19 cases in the state, an increased hospitalization rate, and working to get kids back in school.

 

 

New Dune Walk Planned at Lakefront

(New Buffalo, MI) - Improvements at the lakefront are planned in New Buffalo. The city has obtained a $250,000 state grant, according to City Manager, David Richards. Richards said the money will help pay for a new dune walk at the beach. The existing one with stairs will be replaced with one that has all ramps, he said.

 

Richards said the grant will pay for just over half of the project estimated at $450,000.  Money from the city and the casino will be sought to cover the rest of the expenses. He expects the new dune walk to be finished by next summer. Richard said the existing dune walk is now closed because of falling into disrepair.

Diversity Training Ordered for City Employees

(La Porte, IN) - All department heads in La Porte will be ordered into diversity training after a city councilman’s disparaging remarks about the LGBTQ community.

            Mayor Tom Dermody said instruction on tolerance will also be offered to every member of the city council and other elected officials.

            “Obviously, we have some work to do and we’ll do that.  We’ll learn.  We’ll educate ourselves but we are going to continue to promote happiness and welcoming to everybody in our community,” he said.

City Councilman Roger Galloway has come under heavy criticism by the Mayor, his fellow members on the council and other LGBTQ supporters for his comments during the July 6th city council meeting.

            Resident Alex Masepohl was asking for more resources to help young people struggling with sexual orientation and gender identity when Galloway, 70, stated “you’re talking about gay people. Stuff like that, right?”

            “You know that’s against The Bible.  Anybody ever read The Bible,” he said.

Masepohl, 29, responded “I actually have, yes.”

Galloway apologized the next day in writing and during a meeting with her and other members of the Out in LaPorte organization.

He called his remarks embarrassing during another apology at the city council meeting on Monday.

“I realize now as a city councilman I should keep my beliefs and personal feelings to myself while conducting city business.  I am sorry,” Galloway said.

Resident Jason Milo, though, called his apology ‘’half-hearted.”

He also said it will take years to repair the damage Galloway’s “ignorant remarks” have done to the city’s reputation.

“This is not who we are,” Milo said.

Dermody said the diversity training will begin next month.

An ethics officer working as a volunteer was also created to handle formal complaints the city might receive about Galloway’s remarks.

City Attorney Nick Otis said whether Galloway violated the city’s ethics policy was still under review.

In general, Otis said comments by an elected official are protected under freedom of speech contained in the First Amendment of the U.S Constitution and consistently upheld by the U.S Supreme Court.

“I know there’s many people that may disagree with Mr. Galloway’s statement two weeks ago but it is protected and the remedy just as the Supreme Court said is at the ballot box,” he said.

Galloway is in the first year of his third term on the council.

Masks Now Mandated in Starke County

(Knox, IN) - Masks are now mandated in Starke County. It went into effect early this morning.

Officials say masks have to be worn inside public areas like schools, businesses, and churches.

Masks also have to be worn outside if social distancing cannot be maintained. Some people are exempt from the requirement like people who would have trouble breathing while wearing a mask.

You Can Use an Instant Pot to Clean N95 Masks

If your Instant Pot has a function that lets you set the temperature at exactly 149 degrees, you can use it to sanitize N95 masks.

 

The one catch is it has to be a model with a "sous vide" function. Or another mode that can hold the temperature at exactly 149 degrees.  So older models might not be able to do it.  But if yours can, here's what to do.

 

 

1.  Put a half-inch of water in the bottom of the pot.

 

 

2.  Grab the steaming rack that came with it, and put it in there.  If it's not tall enough to keep the mask out of the water, attach a few binder clips to the rack to act like legs.

 

 

3.  Put the mask inside a paper lunch bag.  Then fold the top of the bag a few times and staple it, or use a paper clip.  You can put up to three masks in there at once.

 

 

4.  Put the bag in your Instant Pot and close the lid.  Then select the mode that lets you choose an exact temperature . . . set it at 149 degrees for 30 minutes . . . and hit start.

 

 

That's enough time to sanitize the mask.  And when it's done, just take it out of the bag and let it dry for about an hour. 

 

Click here to see the video

Special Events Area Established

(La Porte, IN) - The city of La Porte now has a designated area for special events downtown.

It’s on Monroe Street just north of Lincolnway.

Lights were recently installed above Monroe Street next to the city owned parking lot to mark the special events area and make it more appealing not just for special events but any time.

City Planner Tom Casey says the special events featuring live music will begin August 14th and will occur every second Saturday of the month for the rest of the season from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

City Looks to Solve Police Officer Shortage

(La Porte, IN) - Police officers in La Porte often feel overwhelmed from being short staffed.

The city is trying to do something about it.

Police Chief Paul Brettin said there’s about 35 police officers compared to about 48 over a decade ago.

The city is trying to boost manpower levels and reduce some of their duties like paperwork to free up more time for them to be on the streets.

Brettin says the community would benefit from increased law enforcement presence and so would his officers from not having to keep such a hectic pace often leading to burn out.

Brettin says one reason manpower is down is losing officers faster than they can be replaced.

He says five new officers are being added but they won’t be able to hit the streets until late in the year because of the months of training required for breaking into law enforcement.

Purdue Northwest engaging with students on campus and online for fall 2020

(Hammond and Westville, IN) – While higher education institutions are adapting to the reality of the global pandemic, professors like Purdue University Northwest’s Beth Vottero are planning the most successful path forward for their students.

 

Vottero, an associate professor and Nurse Educator Program Coordinator at Purdue Northwest (PNW), will offer lectures, small group meetings, larger class discussions, and breakout rooms during class sessions this fall – all delivered via the Zoom online platform.

 

“Students need to feel connected to the professor, their classmates, and the university,” Vottero said. “By having live class sessions online, I can interact with students and respond to questions quickly and easily. This fits with the content of my courses.”

 

Vottero is among hundreds of PNW professors who have worked hard this summer to redesign courses to ensure students have the types of engaging learning experiences that are hallmarks of a Purdue Northwest education. PNW is planning proactively to keep students connected to their faculty and classmates while studying on campus, online, or in a combination of face-to-face and virtual instruction.

 

“Our faculty members have a passion for teaching and know that engagement is key to student success. They are working tirelessly this summer to design engaging learning experiences to be offered in a variety of instructional formats,” said Emily Hixon, director of PNW’s Center for Faculty Excellence and a professor of Education

Former Classmates Honored by City

(La Porte, IN) - Four high school classmates were back together again when they possibly saved the lives of a couple from a structure fire in La Porte.

            Drake Gunn believes fate must have been at work because he and his old school chums just reunited and were heading to a friend’s house when they came upon the July 12th blaze.

            “I guess it was meant to happen so I’m just glad I get to come and help people out, especially with my brothers for a very long time,” he said.

            He, along with Jerry Fulton, Wes Cabrera, and Tarick Jackson, was given a Certificate of Excellence award at Monday night’s La Porte City Council meeting.

            Fulton, who just returned from a 10-month stint in Iraq as a member of the U.S. Army, expressed deep appreciation for the recognition.

            “It’s a great achievement,” he said.

            The LaPorte High School graduates from 2019, 2018 and 2017, were driving by about 6 p.m. when they spotted flames engulfing an attached garage and rapidly spreading to the house in the 1400 block of I Street.

            La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said they pounded on the front door until a woman inside, unaware of the fire, answered. She then alerted her husband working in the backyard.

Fulton said the man started putting water on the flames with a garden hose

but with the fire still building urged him not to take any chances and wait for firefighters.

            Snyder said the men at the very least could have prevented someone from being harmed.

            “I commend them for stopping and taking action when they could have just went on by,” Snyder said.

            The garage and both vehicles inside it were destroyed.

            Snyder said the home will require extensive repair from fire, smoke, and water damage before the couple can move back in.

            The cause of the fire was still being looked into but it might be related to an electrical problem, he said.

            Three of the men are former high school basketball teammates.

Gunn is currently a member of the basketball team at Eastern Arizona College.

“With everything going on in the world it’s nice to see four individuals from our community stepping up and putting their own lives at risk,” said Mayor Tom Dermody.

           

Coronavirus Cancels Football Practice

(Walkerton, IN) - A local John Glenn High School football player has tested positive for coronavirus.  In response, school officials have cancelled football practice this week and the student has been asked to self-isolate for 14 days.  The diagnosis came Sunday, 11 days after the student was last on campus, officials said.

NIPSCO Scam Alert

(LaPorte, IN) - LaPorte County Police are giving a heads up about a NIPSCO scam.  On Friday, police say a man pretending to work for NIPSCO went to a home in the 100 block of Longwood Drive just outside LaPorte.  He told the homeowner some trees needed to be trimmed away from

power lines on the property.  When they walked to the backyard to look at the trees, police say another man went inside the residence.  Police did not disclose what was taken.

 

The suspects have yet to be identified, however one suspect is identifed as white, and the other as black.  They drove off in a black vehicle with tinted windows and chrome rims.  Police say homeowners should not cooperate unless prior arrangements were made with a company representative or contractor.

La Porte Official Criticized Again for LGBTQ Remarks

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte City Councilman, Roger Galloway, took more heat last night for comments offensive to the LGBTQ community and its supporters.  During a public meeting two weeks ago, Galloway said the the LGBTQ lifestyle goes against the teachings of The Bible.  Galloway apologized the next day and again at last night's city council meeting. 

 

La Porte resident Jason Milo says his remarks do not reflect the community and the damage to the city’s reputation will take time to repair.  Milo also called Galloway’s apology half-hearted and said he hopes voters will not forget.  Galloway was also criticized by the city council and the mayor.  Mayor Tom Dermody said diversity training will be offered to each member of the council and all city department heads.

Work from Home Order at City Hall

(Michigan City, IN) - All employees at City Hall in Michigan City will be working from home for the next few weeks.  According to the mayor’s office, an employee recently tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the closure.  Mayor Duane Parry says the work from home move is precautionary and will last until the third of next month.

 

City Hall will continue to function with basic services and contact with department heads can be done electronically or on the phone.

Mask Advisories Issued at New Buffalo Beach

(New Buffalo, MI) - There are no plans to close the beach in New Buffalo but there are efforts to limit crowd size to provide space for adequate social distancing.

Beachgoers are also encouraged by police officers, lifeguards and park department staff members to bring a mask and wear it when necessary.

City Manager Dave Richards said the parking lot at the municipal beach on Saturday was closed at 11 a.m.

He said there were still parking spots available Saturday but the size of the crowd was starting to make it challenging for people wanting to stay six feet apart from other individuals.

Richards said people turned away in their vehicles could still go to the beach as long as they found a place elsewhere to park and walked.

“We closed the parking lot because that discourages people from coming to the beach. Otherwise, we got them standing wall to wall,” he said.

Richards said there’s been no discussion of closing the beach unless ordered at some point by the Governor of Michigan.

“We’re just going to try and control the number of people at the beach,” he said.

New Buffalo Police Chief Rich Killips said people walking up to the beach or standing in groups near the concession stand and showers were informed to bring a mask and have it on when required.

Under the governor’s current executive order, people have to wear a mask outside whenever they can’t maintain at least six feet of distance from others not from their household.

Killips said there’s enough space at the beach for proper social distancing but masks should be worn in confined areas like bathrooms or where people gather like the showers and concession stand.

He said a majority of the people Saturday did not have masks on.

No tickets were issued but they could be later if more beachgoers don’t start covering their faces.

“We hope there’s never a need to,” Killips said.

Killips said police will be at the beach every weekend during the remainder of the season encouraging people to wear a mask when required.

Life Saving Actions Recognized

(LaPorte, IN) - Four men have been recognized for potentially saving the lives of a LaPorte couple unaware their attached garage was burning.  The fire, which started around 6 p.m. on July 12, completely destroyed the garage and spread into the home at 1411 I St. 

 

LaPorte Fire Chief, Andy Snyder, said the men noticing smoke from the garage stopped and pounded on the door of the residence.  Snyder said a woman inside the home came to the door and alerted her husband who was working in the backyard.  He said the men at the very least could have prevented someone from being harmed.  “I commend them for stopping and taking action when they could have just went on by,” Snyder said.

 

Jerry Fulton, Drake Gunn, Wes Cabrera and Tarick Jackson will be recognized during Monday night’s city council meeting for their actions.  “With everything going on in the world it’s nice to see four individuals from our community stepping up and putting their own lives at risk,” said Mayor Tom Dermody.

 

Snyder said both vehicles inside the garage were destroyed.  He said the home will require considerable repair before the couple is able to move back in.

Blueberry Crop Reported as Above Average

(LaPorte County, IN) - Zach Pflederer doesn’t usually spend the day picking blueberries with his family but feeling a bit cooped up he did this year.

 

He’s just one of the many people flocking to u-pick blueberry farms as a safer alternative for spending quality time away from home with COVID-19 still a public health threat.

The Champaign, Illinois man was at Stateline Blueberries outside New Buffalo last week with his wife, Elise, and their children, Ellowyn, 8, and Dominic.

 

His mother-in-law, Chris Holmes from Westchester, Illinois, also came along for the ride to fill up a bucket.

The number of ripened blueberries in the bushes was picked a little thin from a very busy weekend turnout at the 30-acre farm on 1000 North two miles west of Indiana 39.

However, there are plenty of blueberries turning ripe in the coming days and weeks of the season, which is expected to run into early August.

 

Pflederer was pleased with the quality of blueberries he encountered.

 

“They look good. There’s a lot of berries on this bush,” Pflederer said.

Dean Ott, owner of the farm for the past 22-years, said people especially from Illinois have been showing up more than ever before, perhaps, since the picking season began at the end of June.

 

“It’s been a really good year, so far, because people are just dying to get out of the house and find something to do outside,” he said.

 

Ott said customers are given freshly sanitized buckets to take out into the fields.

There are also bottles of hand sanitizer for them to use before they head out and after they return.

 

Ott said the number of blueberries produced by his bushes this year is above average.

Originally, he said the maturity of the blueberries were about two weeks behind schedule because of a cool spring,

 

They were only about a week behind schedule following a recent spurt of hot and humid weather.

 

 

Need for Mask Mandate Argued

(LaPorte County, IN) - People in LaPorte County are now mandated to wear a mask to try and lower a recent uptick in coronavirus cases locally but some residents are questioning the need and whether it’s constitutional.

 

            The LaPorte County Commissioners on July 15 approved the mandate recommended by the LaPorte County Health Department.  Under the mandate, people must wear a mask over their nose and mouth while frequenting indoor areas open to the public;  outdoor areas where a distance of six feet from people not from their household cannot be maintained; and private indoor or outdoor areas where proper social distancing at all times is not possible.  Masks do not have to worn by children under two-years old to guard against the potential of suffocating and people with medical conditions who would have trouble breathing from a face covering.  Others exempt from the mandate include people whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a mask and individuals whose health would be endangered from wearing a mask in a high-temperature manufacturing or work environment, according to the mandate.

 

            The decision was made over the objections of residents Joe Haney and Tim Stabosz who felt the mandate is unconstitutional.  Haney also said some masks like ones made of cloth are not proven to be effective in preventing infection.  “There is no way this can be enforced,” Haney said.  Stabosz said the number of recent cases and hospitalizations in northwest Indiana County have “barely budged” and the mandate simply plays into hysteria expressed by  ‘’fearmongers.”  Stabosz also said most of the new cases are in young people which is supposed to happen to build immunity naturally throughout the entire population.  “Our people are being appropriately cautious and prudent already. Don’t infringe upon personal freedoms and succumb to the hysteria,” he said.

 

            Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora, who has a medical practice in Michigan City, said there should be a national mask mandate but there isn’t because the issue, unfortunately, has become politicized.  He said masks don’t offer guaranteed protection but lower the risk of transmitting the disease to others.  “I really think wearing a mask is an act of kindness, compassion, respect, humility, and love for your fellow human beings.  It’s really as simple as that,” Kora said.

Murder Suspect Scheduled for Tuesday Arraignment

(Michigan City, IN) - A suspect in a recent Michigan City shooting death is scheduled to make his initial court appearance tomorrow.  Zachariah Vigil is being held on one million dollars bond on a

charge of murder.  The fatal shooting stemmed from an altercation near Washington Park on the 4th of July.

 

Police say Antonio Rivera was chased in a vehicle by Vigil, who shot him in the area of Washington Park Boulevard and Liberty Trail.  The fatally wounded Rivera, who then crashed into a business.  Vigil was located by Police five days ago near Angola.  He was operating a jet ski on a lake in that area when escorted to the shoreline where he was taken into custody.  Vigil is scheduled to be arraigned tomorrow before LaPorte Superior Court 1 Judge Michael Bergerson.

Herald-Argus Merges with Sister Publication on August 4th

(La Porte, IN) - For the past 96 years, The Herald-Argus has been the primary newspaper serving the community of La Porte.  On August 4th, The Herald-Agus name and heritage will become part of La Porte history as they merge with their sister newspaper in Michigan City, The News-Dispatch.  The new publication will become known as, "The La Porte County Herald-Dispatch", focusing on news from across the County.

 

In an article, published by both newsrooms on July 18th, they stated, "news organizations across the nation have been especially hard hit by the pandemic, which has cut deeply into advertising revenues and forced many media operations to go out of business or reduce the frequency of print products".  The article went on to say, "while this change may seem drastic, it is the inevitable result of the new world we find ourselves living in".   

 

The La Porte County Herald-Dispatch will be managed by Publisher Bill Hackney, along with Managing Editor Jeff Mayes.  Beginning August 4th, subscribers of The Herald-Argus and The News-Dispatch will begin recieving the "La Porte County Herald-Dispatch", by Mail from the U.S. Postal Service on a regular Tuesday through Saturday delivery schedule.  

Local Business Helps Retool Habitat for Humanity

For LaPorte’s Habitat for Humanity organization, last week had a horrible start, but a happy ending.

On Monday, workers arrived to a build site in Michigan City only to find two trailers’ worth of tools stolen.

Amanda Linnenburger coordinates volunteers for the local Habitat group. She says about 35 tools were stolen. "Basically everything was taken," she says. "The only thing they left was some boxes of nails and stuff like that. And our insurance deductible is so high... so we're just looking for donations of tools."

That’s when Village Supply stepped in. The LaPorte tool company pulled a few strings with DeWalt.

Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Sophia Coleman says they quickly turned a negative into a positive. "We put together a list, and we were contacted by Village Supply, and they have made this fantastic offer in partnership with DeWalt, the tool company, to replace our total inventory of electrical tools."

The donation will help the local Habitat group meet their goal of placing a Michigan City family in a new home by October.

While Village Supply makes final arrangements with Dewalt, Habitat for Humanity is working on tightening security to take care of their new tools.

IU Volleyball Comes to LaPorte

(LaPorte) -

Volleyball coaches from Indiana University were in LaPorte this week running a camp for aspiring volleyball stars.

The camp took place on Thursday at Dunes Events Center.

Krista Vansant is an assistant coach for the Hoosiers. She and another coach came up from Bloomington to run the camp.

"We are running camps for middle school-aged kids," Vansant says. "just to be able to come in, touch the ball, since they had no real time to play in the spring with everything going on. So we just wanted to get some kids in the gym, out of the house, get a little sweaty, play some volleyball, just work with some cool young kids."

Vansant says they had about 50 girls in two different groups spread throughout the facility learning basic skills.

She says the visit was all about education, not recruiting, since the NCAA has strict rules about that this time of year.

And Vansant knows her stuff. She was the 2013 collegiate player of the year and an alternate for the 2016 Olympic team.

One of Indiana’s current players, senior Bayli Lebo, is a LaPorte graduate.


Hot Weekend Prompts Heat Advisory

(La Porte County)  Beginning at Noon CDT, HEAT ADVISORY goes into effect until 8PM CDT. Heat index values up to 100 expected. for portions of northern Indiana, southwest Michigan. Drink plenty of fluids (especially water), stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.

Michigan City Murder Suspect Apprehended

(Michigan City) -

An arrest has been made in the July 4th murder of 22-year-old Antonio Rivera in Michigan City.

Rivera was found fatally wounded in a crashed vehicle near Liberty Trail and US 12.

Since the incident, police have pieced together the details.

During an altercation in a parking lot, Rivera ended up with the phone and keys of a female involved.

Upon meeting up with the woman and her friends nearby to return the items, Rivera allegedly brandished and fired a gun.

According to police, Zachariah Vigil of Michigan City was in another car and chased Rivera, firing a gun at Rivera’s car.

Rivera was struck and fatally wounded.

Vigil was tracked down an apprehended near Angola on Wednesday. He is being held on a $1 million cash only bond charged with murder.

Michigan City Police Chief Dion Campbell praised his officers who spent their 4th of July weekend investigating the crime. They cleverly used neighborhood surveillance camera footage to piece together the sequence of events.

LaPorte Mask Mandate to Go County-Wide

(LaPorte County) - LaPorte County Commissioners jumped on the mask mandate bandwagon Wednesday night.

 

 

In a 2-1 vote, they passed an ordinance requiring face masks in all public and private areas, both indoor and outdoor where six feet of social distancing cannot be maintained.

When the county-wide order takes effect on Friday, LaPorte will be the fifth county in Indiana to issue such a mandate.

 

The order has little to no legal force; it does not authorize police or citizens to enforce mask-wearing.

 

The order also contains many exceptions, including small children, restaurant diners, and individual health and occupational limitations.  There is even a religious exemption.

 

Voting in favor of the measure, Commissoners Dr. Vidya Kora and Sheila Matias stressed the need to take action as COVID-19 cases locally are on the rise. Commissioner Rich Mrozinski called it an overreach of government, especially regarding the order's regulation of private property.

The order will last indefinitely until local health officials feel COVID-19 spread is under control.

Habitat for Humanity Hampered by Theft

(Michigan City) - LaPorte’s Habitat for Humanity organization is trying to recover from a robbery of their tools. 

 

It happened sometime over the weekend at their job site at Tryon and Hobart Streets on Michigan City’s northeast side. One home there has just been completed, and another is now underway.

 

When volunteers arrived Monday, they found their two work trailers open and mostly empty. Amanda Linnenburger coordinates volunteers for the local Habitat group. She says about 35 tools were stolen. "Basically everything was taken," she says. "The only thing they left was some boxes of nails and stuff like that. And our insurance deductible is so high... so we're just looking for donations of tools.

 

Linnenburger says over 25,000 people saw her Facebook post about the incident shortly after posting. Hundreds of dollars and a few tools have come in, but the group is a long way from recovering their losses.

 

With their current project, organizers hoped to have a family in a new home by October; now that deadline is in jeopardy.

 

Anyone with money or tools to donate can call Habitat for Humanity at 219-290-6024.

Anyone with info on the crime should call the police department.

 

Purdue Northwest student elected to Mid-East Honors Association executive board

(Westville and Hammond, IN)  – Joshua Phillips becomes the first student in Purdue University Northwest (PNW) history to be elected to the executive board of the Mid-East Honors Association (MEHA). He is one of four scholars, recently chosen from approximately 35 educational institutions of higher learning, to serve in this position.

 

Phillips, a Gary native, is working to earn a bachelor’s degree in computer information technology with a concentration in cybersecurity from the College of Technology. He is also receiving experience at PNW, outside of the classroom, as a student desktop technician for the Information Services (IS) department.

 

“I was always fascinated by computers: learning about them, working with them…They’re the future,” Phillips stated. “All of the hands-on training I’m receiving at PNW is helping me narrow down exactly what I want to do once I graduate.”

 

As Phillips enters his junior year, this 21st Century Scholar is also a student in the Honors College. He has been an active member since enrolling at PNW in 2018. It was this college that encouraged him to apply for the student position with MEHA.

 

Dr. Jonathan Swarts, dean of the Honors College and Undergraduate Studies at PNW, said, “This is a great opportunity for Joshua. He is one of our most active and engaged student leaders, and this will be of great benefit to PNW and the Honors College.”

 

Phillips remarked, “I am excited about this new opportunity, and everything I will learn and share with the PNW community.”

 

Phillips’ student position with MEHA will be active from July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

 

For more information about the Honors College at PNW, visit: https://www.pnw.edu/honors-college/.

 

Two House Fires in LaPorte

(LaPorte) - Two house fires within hours of each other kept LaPorte firefighters busy Sunday  night.

 

The first occurred around 6:00 Sunday at 1411 I Street. With a station just three blocks away, units responded quickly. If not, things could have been much worse. "It was pretty substantial the amount of fire that was coming from the residence at that time," says Fire Chief Andy Snyder. "The garage was pretty severely damaged, there was smoke and water damage throughout the house from the fire, and two vehicles in the garage were also damaged." Snyder says a house next door was also slightly damaged from the heat of the flames.

 

The home's residents, a husband and wife, were able to escape, thanks at least in part to passersby who alerted them.

 

Another call came in just after 12:30 at night from a house at 907 Linwood. Snyder says the porch of that residence caught fire. The homeowner noticed the flames and escaped the home with his wife. Firefighters got that blaze under control quickly before it could spread to the rest of the house.

Friday Movie Night Returns

(LaPorte) -

Friday Movie Night has returned to LaPorte. On Friday families gathered on the lawn of the Civic Auditorium to take in Frozen 2.

Downtown Director Angela Rose says planning movie night this summer was last-minute due to uncertainties with the COVID-19 situation. "We started planning this before COVID hit," she says, "then we kind of put it on pause. And then about three or four weeks ago we brought it back up." Three local sponsors, Rose says, made it possible to provide the events on short notice.

Another outdoor movie will be held at the Fox Park Amphitheater next month. And a final one will take place at Kessling Park in September.

South County Crash

(LaPorte County) -

An accident early Saturday morning north of LaCrosse resulted in serious bodily injuries for the driver.

Shortly after 2:00 a.m. LaPorte County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a crash at CR 1800 South on US 421. Reports indicate a 2003 BMW travelling south at high speeds left the roadway, crashing in a ditch.

The driver and lone occupant, 36-year-old Noah Serynek of Wheatfield, was airlifted to the hospital with an upper body injury.

421 was shut down for about two hours for an investigation and cleanup.

Police say alcohol and toxicology reports are pending.

Mask Up in Michigan or Face Fines

(Lansing, MI) - In Michigan, people are being forced to wear a mask to try and keep the state’s economy from again being shut down by COVID-19.

The governor is mandating businesses not serve people or allow them inside if they refuse to wear a face covering.

People also have to wear a mask outside if they can’t stay six feet away from non-household members under the governor’s new order.

Violators could be hit with a misdemeanor fine.

Indiana Sees Rise in COVID-19

(Indianapolis, IN) - COVID-19 cases statewide are going up.

State health officials today reported 748 new cases.

And nine more deaths.

Officials say 37 percent of the beds in ICU units statewide

are presently available.

Here in LaPorte County, there are now 605 confirmed cases or about

60 more than a week ago.

Michigan City Could Tighten Use of Fireworks

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City officials could crackdown on the use of fireworks. What seemed like much heavier use in neighborhoods this year is fueling the discussion. The really big explosives appear to be the primary concern. 

 

At this week’s city council meeting, councilman Don Pryzbylinski said he’s going to examine the current city ordinance to see if any tightening is needed. Currently, the use of fireworks is allowed in the days leading up to and After the 4th of July.

 

With no municipal fireworks shows for this year, it is believed to have caused residential use to be noticeably higher this year in many communities.

Masks Required Now in LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - Masks are now being required in the city of LaPorte. The mayor today issued an executive order requiring masks in businesses and other enclosed public spaces.  Mayor Tom Dermody says violators will not be hit with any fines.

 

But, the city will be visiting businesses to remind them to do their part in keeping people safe and the economy going. Dermody says masks will not be required in places like restaurants as long

as people are six feet apart. His order also requires hand sanitizer to be at entranceways and high touch areas.

Police Station Made Safer for Public and Staff

(LaPorte, IN) - The police station in LaPorte has been made safer.  According to the mayor’s office, bulletproof services windows were installed Monday. The LaPorte Starke-Pulaski Building & Construction Trades Council installed the safety glass at no cost. Police Chief Paul Brettin says the bullet-proof service glass will Allow the police station to be more open and accessible to the public

while protecting officers and staff at the front desk.

Arrest in Michigan City Crime Spurt

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man has been arrested for an alleged two-hour crime spree.

30-year-old Demarcus Williams is charged with attempted rape, kidnapping, and other counts.

Early yesterday, police say there were three calls from separate residences. One victim said a man followed her home and tried raping her. Neighbors hearing her scream stopped the man who ran off. 

 

Other attempted sexual assaults followed from two other residences. At one location, a man came in through a window and tried raping two juveniles but was scared off when their grandparents woke up. Williams was being held on a $25,000 bond.

Countywide Waste Collection Saturday

(Michigan City, IN) - Household hazardous waste can be safely disposed of this weekend. A collection will be held tomorrow at Marquette Mall in Michigan City. It’s scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Things such as oil, anti-freeze, oil-based paint and, fertilizers will be accepted along with syringes and medications. The collection is sponsored by the LaPorte County Solid Waste District.

Senator Braun Sets Record Straight

(LaPorte, IN) - A U.S senator from Indiana says he does not support the Black Lives Matter organization. Recently, Senator Mike Braun appeared on FOX News with commentator

Tucker Carlson. Carlson portrayed Braun as a supporter of the Black Lives Matter organization.

Braun says he only supports anyone’s right to peacefully protest and have a procedure to hear complaints against police. In LaPorte yesterday, Braun like many conservatives, called the group a Marxist communist organization and once people who know him recognize he’s against. Braun from downstate Jasper was elected to Congress in 2018 after serving four years as a State Representative.

Former Governor Battling Alzheimer's Disease

(South Bend, IN) - A former Mayor of South Bend is battling Alzheimer’s disease. Joe Kernan also used to be Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Indiana. Kernan was a flight officer in the Navy and a prisoner of war. The 74-year-old Kernan was Mayor in South Bend during the ’80s and

90’s then later Lieutenant Governor. He took over as Governor when Frank O’Bannon died while in office.

LPHS Graduates Receive Diplomas at a Social Distance

(LaPorte, IN) - The LaPorte High School graduation ceremony was held last evening. Emma Henderson is an academic honors student receiving her diploma a year early. She says COVID-19 made things tougher this year in terms of more homework during e-Learning and feeling isolated from teachers and classmates.

 

Henderson plans to go on to college and study pre-med. There were more than 400 students in this year’s class. The graduation ceremony was held at Kiwanis Field under social distancing

guidelines.

Sunflower Fair Cancelled by COVID-19

(LaPorte, IN) - The 22nd annual Sunflower Fair in LaPorte has been cancelled for 2020. It was supposed to occur on the 19th of September. Organizers of the event say they weren’t confident the festival could meet all of the COVID-19 guidelines and be held safely. The event has drawn thousands of people each year. No word yet from the LaPorte Jaycees on whether the 4th of July parade rescheduled to be held during the Sunflower Fair will be canceled.

Gun Violence in Michigan City Skyrocketing

(Michigan City, IN) - Gun violence in Michigan City is, perhaps at an all-time high. That’s according to police chief Dion Campbell who reports four homicides this year and six all of last year. Already this year, he says police have taken 41 calls of shots fired and conducted 38 actual police investigations related to gunfire. Campbell says 211 guns have been confiscated, so far, this year compared to about 130 during the same period last year. Campbell pointed to a change in the make-up of the community from outsiders finding the community attractive coming here.

Local Trump Supporter Interviewed by New York Times

(LaPorte, IN) - It looks like a LaPorte man is going to make a big splash in a major newspaper.

Spencer England sat down this morning at Louie’s Restaurant and was interviewed by a reporter from the New York Times. 

 

She’s doing an article about how President Trump supporters feel about some of the decisions made by US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.  Roberts, a Republican, hasn’t always sided with the president in his rulings from the bench.

 

England says he and other Trump supporters aren’t exactly thrilled but feels those decisions illustrate how the president is reaching toward the center. Chief Justice Roberts grew up in Long Beach. England says he and the New York Times reporter also discussing things like gun control.

Galloway Meets with LGBTQ Members

(LaPorte, IN) - An elected official from LaPorte is apologizing for saying during a public meeting the lifestyle of the LGBTQ community is a sin in the eyes of God.

The remarks by city councilman Roger Galloway came during Monday night’s city council meeting.

Alex Masepohl of LaPorte during a short presentation asked for the city’s support for giving young people struggling with sexual orientation or gender identity more resources they can turn to for help.

When asked by mayor Tom Dermody if any member of the council had any questions, Galloway, 70, spoke up.

“You’re talking about gay people. Stuff like that, right? You know that’s against The Bible.  Anybody ever read The Bible,” Galloway said.

Masepohl, 29, responded “I actually have, yes.”

Galloway under fire by the mayor and his colleagues issued an apology in a statement released the next day.

“LaPorte is a welcoming community and my remarks did not reflect that.  My personal opinions and beliefs should never get in the way of my ability to represent our community as a whole,” he said.

Galloway also revealed he and LGBTQ representatives agreed to meet.

“I am grateful for their willingness to have a conversation so I can learn more and develop a better understanding,” he said.

Galloway met Tuesday night at City Hall with Masepohl, Elissa Wright and a few other members of the newly formed “Out in LaPorte” group.

Wright, 28, said Galloway apologized to them personally.

“He seemed pretty receptive about being educated,” she said.

A form to file an ethics complaint against Galloway was posted on the Out in LaPorte Facebook page.

Masepohl said she was caught off guard by Galloway’s disparaging remarks she feels illustrate a need for more education.

Masepohl also said the meeting with Galloway went very well and her group is not calling for him to resign.

“We have started the process to get all city officials trained in human rights matters as well as started taking steps to insure LGBTQ youth have more resources,” she said.

Dermody said he supports the group’s efforts and called Galloway’s remarks during a public meeting unacceptable.

“That’s not who we are as a community,” he said.            

             

Senator Talks Stimulus in LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - Indiana U.S Senator Mike Braun on Wednesday told several dozen business owners in LaPorte more COVID-19 financial relief from the federal government could be on the way.

Braun said opinions among lawmakers on what should be contained in a fourth stimulus package vary widely but his priority is need and firms overlooked by previous relief measures.

"I’m interested in those businesses that got left out,” he said.

Braun also said there is a chance for another stimulus package as long as it strictly provides help for financial struggles brought on by coronavirus, not unrelated pork democrats to a certain degree were able get included with the previous assistance.

“As long as we focus on errors and omissions and COVID related stuff we might get something done,” he said.

Braun said an example of need is Melrose Fireworks in Kingsbury, which revealed a dramatic drop in its pyrotechnic shows because of all of the events with large gatherings being cancelled to try and limit the spread of COVID-19.

The republican from downstate Jasper was invited to City Hall by Mayor Tom Dermody to hear about the struggles from local business owners and offer feedback on the additional help that might be on the way.

If there is another relief package, Braun said there’s a short window to get it done.

He said a spending package would have to be adopted between Congress reconvening later this month and when federal lawmakers adjourn for three weeks in August.

“After that there’s just not going to be much time left in the calendar to do it,” he said.

State Representative Jim Pressel of Rolling Prairie said he was encouraged by the talks Braun reported were occurring at the federal level to help businesses pinched financially by the virus.

“I’m excited to see what’s going to come out of that,” he said.

Braun also said tightening restrictions due to recent major spikes in COVID-19 cases should only happen in major population centers to avoid crippling the economy nationwide.

He said the spikes are mostly in younger people and efforts should be taken to prevent them from spreading it to the older more at risk age group.

“That might be the pattern of how we get through this until we have herd immunity and vaccinations that put this in the rear view mirror,” he said.

           

Alleged LPHS Crash Driver Named

(LaPorte, IN) - Police have identified the man who allegedly crashed into LaPorte High School.

Police say the investigation shows 20-year-old Antonio Avila was behind the wheel of a 1985 Ford F-150 that crashed through a wall of glass and brick early Monday.

 

Police say the owner of the truck is the suspect’s father, who claimed he allowed his son to take the truck to visit his girlfriend. Police say they asked the father to have his son call the police. So far, police have not revealed if the suspect made contact with law enforcement, but charges such as Institutional Criminal Mischief are being pursued.

 

Police say video surveillance shows the driver with no shirt on checking his cell phone before walking away from the scene of the crash. Damage was estimated at $50,000 to $100,000.

Proposed Tipton St. Overpass Moves Forward

(LaPorte, IN) - The city of LaPorte is moving forward with plans to build another overpass. The cost an of the overpass on Tipton St. over a busy railroad crossing is estimated at six million dollars.

The state will pay 80-percent of the cost, officials said.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody says doing nothing will mean more vehicles, including emergency responders, getting stuck behind trains based on a study of traffic in that area over the next 20-years. Dermody says the city’s cost could also go way up if an overpass is built later and the grant available now is no longer available. Dermody says construction of the Tipton St. overpass is projected to begin In 2022.

Officer Promoted to Sergeant

(LaPorte, IN) - A LaPorte County sheriff’s deputy has been promoted.  Andrew Hahn now holds the rank of sergeant. The 2001 Michigan City High School graduate began as a jail officer with the sheriff’s office in 2005. Hahn currently is a supervisor on the midnight shift and is one of the K-9 handlers. He filled the rank formerly held by Kevin Ulam who recently retired after 32 years with the sheriff’s office.

New Prairie Plans for New School Year

(LaPorte County) - New Prairie United School District now has a plan for returning to school next month.

But right now, it’s a very fluid plan.

Similar to other districts, New Prairie will be watching COVID-19 trends and deciding between different options ranging from 100% normal to 100% e-learning.

All possibilities are outlined in a flowchart under three possible scenarios. If coronavirus cases reduce or stabilize in coming weeks, classes will begin as normal, with various safety protocols in place. If coronavirus surges, students will attend classes two days per week on a rotating basis. If the virus spreads substantially, e-learning will take place until the situation improves.

Overall, the plan presents at least half a dozen possibilities, giving administrators much more flexibility to adapt to the ever-changing status of public health. New Prairie Superintendent Dr. Paul White says he will continue working closely with other school districts as the situation develops.

 

According to a survey that went out in the district, 60% of parents endorse a complete return to classes as normal, with precautions in place. 20% of responders think masks should be mandatory.

28% prefer part-time weekly attendance, and 10% want to stay with all e-learning.

11 parents who responded to the survey say they are pulling their kids out of school.

The school district will make a determination on how to proceed in late July or early August. The start of school has been pushed back one day to August 13 in order to provide extra training for teachers and staff.

Councilman Apologizes to LGBTQ Community

(LaPorte, IN) - A LaPorte city councilman is saying he’s sorry to the gay community.  During Monday’s city council meeting, a supporter of gay rights gave a presentation about helping students struggling with their sexual preference. When asked by the mayor if anyone had any questions, councilman Roger Galloway in a few brief words said being gay goes against The Bible.

Galloway later issued a statement apologizing.

 

He said LaPorte is a welcoming community and his personal opinions and beliefs should never get in the way of his ability to represent the community. He said members of the gay community have agreed to meet with him in the coming days and he’s grateful to have that conversation to develop a better understanding.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody took exception to the remarks Galloway made during the meeting.  “We are open to everybody here and those comments are not acceptable,” he said.

Caravan Helps Graduates Isolated by COVID-19

(LaPorte, IN) - The school year wasn’t quite the last hurrah many seniors had hoped for but a caravan honoring members of the LaPorte High School Class of 2020 helped ease their sense of loss.

 

Tyson Nisley said staying home to learn due to coronavirus was sort of nice, at first, but the longer it lasted the more he realized just how much he was missing. “It didn’t go down how I expected it to.  It was kind of a bummer,” he said.

 

125 vehicles occupied by graduates and their families Monday evening paraded down a one mile stretch of Lincolnway in downtown. Several police vehicles and fire trucks led the way.

Some graduates rode in convertibles waving to pockets of well-wishers along the state highway closed for the occasion.

 

Many graduates said the recognition was a morale booster for emotions still a bit scarred by the isolation from classmates, teachers as their school days wound down. Marissa Hughart said the hardest thing for her was not being able to go to prom.  “I cried quite a few times thinking I missed the last part of my senior year and sometimes it’s still hard to think about,” said Marissa Hughart.

 

Angel Russell with a disappointed look on her face said the fanfare and recognition from the caravan helped “a little but not too much.”  Olivia Zarantonello said especially difficult was losing her final season in softball with teammates she’s had since grade school. She’s chosen to remain positive by focusing on the years they were able to spend together on the playing field.

"It definitely could be worse. We’re thankful we got to play with each other for that long,” Zarantonello said.

 

Zacharey Wilhelm showing up with a cap and gown didn’t seem bothered much. Wilhelm said he was looking more toward getting his new life off the ground. “I’m an upbeat person so nothing can bring me down.  We’re good,” he said. Schools Superintendent Mark Francesconi said some members of his administration came up with the idea to give back to a graduating class impacted by the pandemic. “I don’t think anything replaces what they missed but it’s the least we can do,” he said.

 

Wood Chips Piled High at LPHS

(LaPorte, IN) - A mountain of wood chips is outside LaPorte High School. Superintendent Mark Francesconi says they’re brought in every year and taken to all of the schools to keep the landscaping looking nice.

 

He says the wood chips are dumped in the parking lot of the high school then distributed out because of the high school being centrally located. Francesconi says the landscaping work is contracted out. Truckloads from the huge wood chip pile were being taken to schools 

earlier today.

Truck Crashes Inside LaPorte High School

(LaPorte, IN) - A driver after crashing inside LaPorte High School was captured on surveillance video fleeing on foot. LaPorte Police Chief Paul Brettin would not disclose if the driver has been identified or arrested because the investigation was still ongoing.

 

“The vehicle was all the way inside,” he said. According to police, footage from a school video camera shows the collision happened at about 3 a.m. Monday.

 

Brettin said it appears the truck southbound on G St. hopped the curb along 6th street and crashed through a heavy wood fence surrounding a small playground area.

 

The vehicle next went through an outside wall of glass and brick then came to rest about 100 feet inside the structure. Police were called when school employees reporting for work discovered the damage, Brettin said.

 

“It was certainly surprising, to say the least,” said LaPorte Community School Corporation superintendent Mark Francesconi.

 

Francesconi said the crash occurred where pre-kindergarten classes used to be taught.

He said career and technical education courses and the student health clinic are being relocated to space just recently vacated by the pre-school program moving to the old Boston Middle School.

 

Francesconi said there wasn’t much furniture left in that section of the school and he won’t know the full extent of the damage until the insurance carrier looks things over.

Air Quality Advisory Today

(Indianapolis, IN) - An air quality action day is in effect for LaPorte and surrounding counties.

The advisory was issued by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. Hot and humid temperatures are expected to increase ozone levels to where some people could have more trouble breathing.

 

Officials say, children, the elderly, and people with lung or heart conditions should reduce or avoid exertion and heavy work outdoors. Officials say people should also walk, bike or work from home if possible to reduce vehicle emissions.

LaPorte Man Fatally Shot in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - A LaPorte man was shot to death in Michigan City over the weekend.

Police say 22-year-old Antonio Jesus Rivera was found dead inside a car Saturday night. The discovery was made after officers responded to a complaint of shots fired in the 200 block of Lake Hills Road near Washington Park.

 

Police say officers were en route when a car hit by gunfire crashed into a building just east of there at U.S 12 and Liberty Trail. That’s where Rivera was found unresponsive in the driver’s seat.

Police say the shooting and chain of events leading up to it remain under investigation but it appears to have been an isolated incident. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Michigan City Police.

State Parks in Michigan Open for Camping

(Lansing, MI) - Campgrounds and other sources of recreation at state parks in Michigan open since June 22 are operating under COVID-19 restrictions.

            According to MDNR, a recreational passport is now required for entry into all state parks like Warren Woods State Park near Sawyer.

The use of the passports to gain entry into the state parks when the amenities inside the parks were closed was suspended for three months to reduce face to face interactions to limit the spread of the virus.

            Many state park amenities like bathroom buildings, hand washing stations, playgrounds, fishing piers, viewing platforms, concessions along with picnic tables and shelters are also open.

            Drinking fountains at the state parks will remain closed until further notice.

            According to MDNR, visitors must wearing face coverings while inside indoor spaces like restrooms and shower buildings, contact stations and visitor centers or when outdoors whenever social distancing cannot be maintained.

            Visitors are also asked to remain at least six feet from people not from their household in all locations, including enclosed spaces, campgrounds and day-use areas.

            MDNR is also encouraging visitors to bring their own gloves and disinfectant and whatever else they deem necessary to protect themselves while in the campgrounds and parks.

Hard surfaces such as playground equipment, handrails, and tables are also being sanitized by staff members on a regular basis.

According to MDNR, state park staff members are also cleaning restrooms and shower buildings several times a day under Centers for Disease Control guidelines.

            Overnight lodging facilities, including cabins, lodges and yurts at the state parks are also being thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after each reservations holder checks out, MDNR said.

            Payment with debit and credit cards for services provided inside the state parks is also encouraged to decrease the exchange of money as another safety precaution against the virus.

Last Minute Lake Fireworks Display Stunning

(LaPorte, IN) - An estimated $20,000 in fireworks for a festival cancelled by COVID-19 found a 4th of July home above Pine Lake in LaPorte.

            The 200 or more boaters anchoring down on the water to see the show didn’t leave disappointed.

            The show in many ways was better than the annual fireworks display at the LaPorte County fairgrounds also cancelled by the virus.

            “Great show,” said Pastor Dennis Meyer of Bethany Lutheran Church in LaPorte.

Originally, the fireworks over Pine Lake were reserved for the annual Red, Wine and Brew tasting and country music concert the church hosts every year to raise money for local first responders.

            The event scheduled July 3 at Stone Lake Beach and the traditional fireworks display sponsored by the LaPorte Jaycees on July 4 at the fairgrounds were both cancelled.

            Just when it seemed there would be no fireworks this year opportunity knocked when Greg Ake offered his yard along Pine Lake near Island Drive for the church to have their fireworks taken off the shelf and professionally detonated.

            “We weren’t going to have anything then all of a sudden we were able to make it happen,” Meyer said.

            The fireworks show was not given any publicity to avoid large congregations but word of mouth spread jamming the water with patriotic boaters.

            There were also good sized crowds in spots along the shoreline.

            A full orange moon reflecting off the water along with ideal summer like temperatures and calm winds enhanced the experience.

            “It really is about perfect. Once again, some great community members came together to do something special,” said Carrie Garwood, outreach/volunteer coordinator at the church.

Country Artist Charlie Daniels Passes at Age 83

(Nashville, TN) BREAKING NEWS:  Charlie Daniels, a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame best known for "The Devil Went Down to Georgia," died Monday morning after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke. He was 83.

 

Daniels' death was confirmed by his publicist, Don Murry Grubbs. He is survived by his wife, Hazel, and son Charlie Daniels, Jr.

Free Frozen Meat Today Going Fast

(LaPorte, IN) - Free meat was going like hotcakes in LaPorte today. The giveaway began at 10 a.m. at the Salvation Army.  Capt. Chris Karlin was hoping to have enough frozen meat until 3 p.m.

But, after the first hour, Karlin said all of the meat and frozen French fries would probably be gone by noon.

 

Karlin said about 150 vehicles had passed through during the first hour of the giveaway. At 11 a.m., he said there was a line of about 50 vehicles extending all the way to Monroe St.

 

He says some of the meat from the Food Bank of Northern Indiana was given away because there wasn’t enough room in his freezer to hold all of it.

Handicapped Accessible Park Opens in LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - A new handicapped-accessible playground is open in LaPorte.  A grand opening ceremony was held yesterday at LaPark. It’s across from Bethany Lutheran Church located at 102 G Street in LaPorte. There’s a soft rubber surface, handicapped-accessible playground equipment and a splash pad featuring buckets of water dumped on users. Pastor Dennis Meyer says the park open to the entire community is much better than the one there previously. 

 

The park is open to everyone from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday thru Saturday and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. About a half-million dollars in donations was raised to build the park.

Fireworks Over Pine Lake a Crowd Pleaser

(LaPorte, IN) - Fireworks over Pine Lake drew a pretty good-sized crowd on the 4th of July.

About $20,000 in fireworks were supposed to highlight the annual Red, Wine, and Brew festival that was canceled due to COVID-19.

 

So instead they were set off over Pine Lake which was jammed with boaters waiting to see them

light up the sky, along with people lined up along the shoreline. According to Carrie Garwood, with Bethany Church, the church and various sponsors put on the show since the fireworks couldn’t be used at its annual tasting event which has drawn several thousand people the past few years.

The fireworks were set off outside the lakefront property of Greg Ake, who allowed his property on the Island to be used as the launching pad.

Food Pantry Hit with Fireworks to be Relocated

(LaPorte, IN) - A 24-hour food pantry in LaPorte is going to be relocated after fireworks were again set off inside it. The six-foot ball box made of wood has been outside the Civic Auditorium

for about the past four months.

 

People can take or put food into the box around the clock. Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski says the fireworks vandals struck again at night during the 4th of July. She said most disturbing was some of the food being taken out of the box and left on the ground.

 

Fireworks were also placed inside the food pantry last week. Pierzakowski says where it’s going to be moved has not been decided. She says pictures were taken of three suspects, two were described as females. A police report was filed in hopes of catching the suspects believed to be

teenagers.

Motorcyclist Killed Outside New Buffalo

(New Buffalo, MI) - A 23-year-old woman was killed on a motorcycle outside New Buffalo over the weekend. It happened on Red Arrow Highway on the fourth of July at about 6:45 p.m.

According to Berrien County Police, Stacy Johnson had a car turn left in front of her oncoming motorcycle. The Illinois woman was pronounced dead at the hospital outside Michigan City.

Police say the driver of the car, Stacy Collins, was turning into Timothy’s Restaurant in New Buffalo Township when she wound up in the path of the motorcycle. Police say it’s not known yet if alcohol or drugs was a factor. The crash remains under investigation.

No Fireworks at Fairground

(LaPorte) - There’s no fireworks at the LaPorte County Fairgrounds this weekend, but there are plenty of calories. Another Fair Food Drive Through is happening. Vendors of greasy goodness are lining the midway dishing out fair favorites to customers as they drive by. About ten fair food wagons are set up. Cars enter through the north entrance by the horse and pony barns. Cash is required, and patrons must stay in their cars. The event kicked off Friday night. It is also open Saturday and Sunday from noon to 7:00.

COVID Outbreak at Transit

(Michigan City) - Michigan City’s transit bus system has been crippled by an outbreak of coronavirus. According to the mayor’s office, five of the seven transit employees have tested positive for COVID-19.

 

The employees are quarantined. In the meantime, the bus system will be running on a limited schedule starting Monday. Fixed routes and paratransit services will operate Monday through Friday from 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

 

The commuter route TT-Black line will operate Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. until further notice.

 

Service will cease daily between 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to sanitize buses. In addition to extra cleaning precautions, rider fees are being waived until further notice to reduce personal contact.

New COVID-19 Testing Site in LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - Free coronavirus testing is available in LaPorte. The new site operated by the Indiana State Department Health is at the Civic Auditorium. Mayor Tom Dermody says there’s been a good turn out since the testing site opened Wednesday. Dermody says the site open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. will be at the Civic Auditorium for the entire month.  ISDH officials said a doctor’s order is not required to be tested.

Use of Fireworks Prohibited at Parks

(LaPorte County, IN) -Fireworks cannot be used in LaPorte County government parks. That’s according to LaPorte County attorney Shaw Friedman, who told the county commissioners Wednesday an ordinance in place since 1990 prohibits the use of fireworks at any county government-owned park.

 

His report was in response to a request by the LaPorte County Park Department to inform the public so fireworks are not taken into the parks and used during the 4th of July weekend.

Fireworks No Blast for Pantry

(LaPorte, IN) - Someone placed fireworks inside a 24-hour food pantry in LaPorte. The food box is outside the Civic Auditorium.

 

Some of the non-perishable food was damaged by the explosives over the weekend. The Center Township Trustee’s Office operates the pantry open for people to take and donate food at all times during the day.

 

Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski says she hopes no further acts of vandalism occur because she doesn’t want to have to remove or relocate the pantry in a high need area.

 

She said the pantry roughly six feet in height and made of wood is similar to the 24-hour pantry outside her office on Lincolnway near J St.

Doors Open at New Hospital in LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - A new miniature hospital in LaPorte began seeing patients today.

Franciscan Beacon Hospital opened its doors at 10 a.m.

The over 20 million dollar facility along State Road 2 West has

10 emergency room beds and eight inpatient beds.

Dr. Lars Kneller, a member of the hospital board of directors, said the hospital

has a full service emergency room operating 24 hours, seven days a week.

He said the hospital is for short term care and patients with more complex issues

requiring longer stays will be transferred to hospitals in Michigan City or

South Bend.

Kneller says talk of building the hospital started about three years ago

so the doors opening brings a real sense of accomplishment.

Helicopter Takes Patient from Crash Site

(LaPorte County, IN) - Two vehicles were involved in a motor vehicle collision where one person

apparently was seriously hurt close to the Michigan line yesterday.

It happened at State Road 39 and County Road 1000 North.

Police say Katelyn Winter pulled out in front of an oncoming vehicle

about 5 p.m.

Her passenger, Brock Roberts was extricated and taken by medical helicopter.

Police say the extent of his injuries were not known.

Winter and the other driver, Devin Alexander, declined medical treatment.

Traffic was stopped for a while to allow responders to work the crash scene.

Stage 5 of Reopening on Pause in Indiana

The state of Indiana has put a temporary pause in some of the plans for their economic reopening this weekend.

During this afternoon’s presser, Governor Eric Holcomb has announced that has signed an Executive Order for the Hoosier State to enter into “Stage 4.5” on “Back On Track” plan for economic reopening in Indiana.

Governor Holcomb noted that there has been a uptick in the daily positivity rate in the state.  In addition, the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized and admitted daily has increased during the past week.

Governor Holcomb announced all Indiana counties, except for Elkhart County, will enter into Stage 4.5 on July 4th and remain in this stage until July 17th.  This means that there is a temporary pause on increasing capacity in restaurant dining rooms, bars, and entertainment venues thoughtout the Hoosier State.  Originally, full capacity was expected to take place, starting this weekend.

Gov. Holcomb did say that they are opening up more outdoor activities in Stage 4.5.  Youth overnight camps may commence with social distancing restrictions.  Fairs, festivals, and parades can take place outdoors with social distancing restrictions.  Indoor activities can’t exceed 50% of occupancy.

State employees, contractors, and vendors must wear face coverings at all indoor public areas on state buildings, offices and facilities under the age of two.  Public access to all state government buildings, offices and facilities throughout the state may be restricted to appointment only.

Currently, there is no statewide mandate to wear a mask in public, but Gov. Holcomb says he supports businesses and counties who can mandate masks.

The Governor also announced that the state will begin releasing COVID-19 nursing home data soon, as pressure mounts due to the high number of incidence of COVID taking place in the facilities.

More Shootings in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) – Michigan City Police are investigating more people

getting shot.

One of the victims was severely wounded.

According to police, three of the victims were shot Monday night in the

area of 11th and Wabash streets near Lighthouse Mall.

Two of the victims were treated and released.

The other was flown to an outside hospital.

Early yesterday, another person was located with a gunshot wound

in the area of Michigan Boulevard and 11th street.

Police say that victim was also treated and released.

According to police, the shootings appear to be isolated to just the individuals

involved.

But it’s not known if they were connected.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police.

Shootings and other acts of gunfire have become a major concern in

Michigan City over the past year or two  after seeing a decline for

a long time.

Officials Respond to Local Spike in COVID-19 Cases

(LaPorte, IN) - LaPorte County has witnessed a spike in COVID-19 cases. However, there’s reason to believe it could be short-lived. The Indiana State Department of Health reported 19 more cases

in LaPorte County yesterday.  Nine of the new positive test results were from Westville prison.

Until then, the number of new cases daily here was in the low single digits.

 

LaPorte County Commissioner Sheila Matias is asking everyone to do their part so the situation here remains stable and people can go about their lives without more restrictions.

 

Matias said one area of concern is lack of social distancing by large crowds at the beach in Michigan City and in the bars. Today, the state reported just five new cases in LaPorte County.

Youth Urged to Stop Diving Off Lake Bridge

(LaPorte, IN) - A local official is urging people to use common sense

to avoid being hurt during the upcoming 4th of July weekend.

Jumping off the Waverly Road bridge into Pine Lake in LaPorte

has been a recent problem.

LaPorte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski says some jumpers try landing

as close as they can to boats passing by.

Mrozinski says doing than carries a risk of hitting a boat or winding up

tangled in a propeller.

Mrozinski said parents who learn their kids are jumping off the bridge

need to deal with them in a firm manner so they don’t continue doing it.

Signs letting people know jumping off the bridge is against the law

were recently put up.

Mrozinski says there’s also a greater risk of being caught right now

because many people are keeping an eye on that area.

Hands Free Law Now in Effect

(Indianapolis, IN) - Using a cell phone in your hand while driving

is now illegal in Indiana.

The law went effect today.

State Representative Jim Pressel of Rolling Prairie drafted the legislation.

He says other states with such laws have seen a noticeable drop in

motor vehicle fatalities.

Pressel says fines ranging anywhere from $10 to $500 will be decided

by local jurisdictions.

He says cell phones can still be held while driving on calls placed to 911 or

after drivers pull to the side of the road to use them.

Fireworks Sales Reported as Brisk

(LaPorte, IN) - People are basically bringing the cancelled 4th of July firework show in LaPorte to their homes this year.

That’s according to Danny Strieter, owner of Danny’s Fireworks in

downtown LaPorte.

He says more people are walking out with heavy artillery like the 500 gram kegs

similar to what’s used at the fireworks show at the fairgrounds…..

Strieter says he’s also selling more of the other fireworks, too, which has him

going out more to keep his store in good supply.

Danny’s Fireworks is celebrating its 22nd year on Lincolnway

next to Madison Street.

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