Local News Archives for 2020-08

Dump Truck Crashes into Store

(Kingsford Heights, IN) - A dump truck driver escaped serious injury practically by a razor’s edge after crashing into a store Monday near Kingsford Heights.

           

The collision happened about 11 a.m. (central time) at Miller’s Flea Market in the 7000 west block of U.S 6/U.S 35.

 

LaPorte County Police deputy Scott Boswell said the northbound dump truck left the east side of the two lane highway.

 

Boswell said the driver after overcorrecting veered across both lanes and traveled across the parking lot before crashing into the building.

 

The truck destroyed a metal awning and caused some damage to the front of the structure but did not penetrate the building.

 

Boswell said pieces of metal from the awning crashed through the windshield and were just inches from the driver’s upper extremities when the truck came to a stop.

 

“He was very lucky,” he said.

 

Boswell said the driver pinned inside the cab until extricated less than a half hour later was taken to the hospital with just minor injuries to one of his hands.

 

Homer Miller, longtime owner of the store, said nobody was inside the building.

 

The store has been closed since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Miller said he was home a short distance away when notified about the crash.

 

“It was right out of the blue sky,” he said.

 

Miller said he did not immediately know the extent of the damage to his business.

 

More Calls for Expanded Mail-In Voting

(Indianapolis, IN) – Calls are getting louder for Indiana’s governor to expand mail-in voting due to the risk of coronavirus.

 

The LaPorte County Commissioners did so recent and late last week two former lieutenant governors jumped on the mail-in voting bandwagon.

 

John Mutz and Kathy Davis says expanding mail in voting is needed because fewer polling places exist because of COVID-19 and long lines at the polls that will be open judging by record turnout projections.

 

Without expanded mail in voting, Mutz and Davis believe minorities, the disabled and low income people in particular will not get to the polls because of the circumstances.

 

Polling locations were reduced in some counties due to a shortage of poll workers not wanting to risk exposure to coronavirus.

 

Typically, mail in voting is restricting to people who are going to be out of town or unable to get to the polls for some other reasons.

 

Expanded mail-in voting, which happened in many parts of the state during the May primary, allows voting my mail for any reason.

Cash Strapped Police Turn to Fund Raising Calendar

(Michigan City, IN) - The Michigan City Police Department is raising money to restore its K-9 program.

 

Police say there are 49 advertising spaces available in the K-9 program’s 2021 calendar and each space costs $200.

 

Police say one of the K-9 officers is unable to continue being a K-9 handler due to some “unfortunate circumstances.”

 

As a result, the calendar for the K-9 program was brought back into production and proceeds from the advertising sales will go toward the over $8,000 cost of training a new K-9 handler.

 

Police say donations are also being sought to help fund K-9 training, K-9 demonstrations and other aspects of the program especially since economic conditions from the impact of coronavirus are so tight.

Possible Drowning Victim Search Ongoing

(New Buffalo, MI) - Continued rough conditions on Lake Michigan were hampering the search for a man suspected to have drowned at the municipal beach in New Buffalo.

 

The 24-year old man from Villa Ridge, Missouri was last seen July 30 about 7:30 p.m., according to New Buffalo Police.

He apparently slipped below the surface as six foot waves produced by strong northerly winds easily crashed over the break wall shortened considerably by the record high lake.

 

There were also strong undercurrents, police said.

 

New Buffalo City Manager Dave Richards said red flags advising people to stay out of the water were already posted when the man disappeared.

 

Police Chief Rich Killips said the ongoing search has been limited primarily from boats and through the air because the lake for several consecutive days remained too choppy for divers with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office to safely venture into the water.

 

Sand from the bottom of the lake stirred up from the turbulence also made the water too murky to send divers in.

 

“It’s been stirred up so much it would make it really difficult to see anything,” Killips said.

 

Sonar to try and locate a body underwater along with drones scouring the surface of the lake have been used since the initial search that included a helicopter from the U.S. Coast Guard station in Michigan City.  

 

The name of the man believed to have drowned was not immediately released.

 

Killips said he was a contractor doing work in the area then after his shift wen to the beach to see Lake Michigan with two other workers.

 

Killips said the investigation showed the men were sort of wading in the water fully clothed when the apparent victim had his hat blow off in the gusty winds.

 

He went out further into the water to try and retrieve his hat when caught by an undertow, he said.

 

“As soon as the lake cooperates we’ll have some divers in and look to see if they can find anything,” Killips said.

Cows a Hit in Downtown LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - Two dairy cows called downtown LaPorte home for a couple of hours on Saturday.

 

The people stopping by to see them during the farmers’ market at Lincolnway and Monroe St. were happy they did.

 

“I’m glad we came,” said Karen Noll, who brought her four-year old granddaughter, Kinsley.

 

Amber Spurr said the cows helped fill a void from not being around farm animals at the LaPorte County Fair cancelled this year due to COVID-19.

 

She and her eight-year old son, Milo, came specifically to see the cows while others made their way over after showing up for fresh produce and other items like baked goods. 

 

"I think it’s just sweet. We love it,” Spurr said.

 

A mobile classroom inside a semi-trailer belonging to Fair Oaks Farms was occupied by “Katey”, a 1,350 lb. Jersey dairy cow along with  “Andy,” a four-week old Holstein bull calf.

 

Dairy cows consuming 100 pounds of feed and roughly 36 gallons of water for every eight to ten gallons of milk produced per day was among the knowledge shared on what it takes to fill refrigerators with the nutrient rich beverage.

 

Fair Oaks Farms about eight miles north of Rensselaer takes its mobile classroom to places like farmers’ markets and schools throughout the region every March to October.

 

Most recently, the classroom was at the YMCA day care facility in Valparaiso and the public library at Francesville before coming to LaPorte. 

 

Rich Knebel, a former dairy farmer at Winamac in charge of the mobile classroom, said the mission is shedding light on everything happening from the pasture to twisting the cap off a cold quart or one gallon milk container.

 

He said it’s important for children to know food doesn’t show up by magic and the public wants to know more about what they consume.

 

People are most surprised by the amount of work it takes and the systems in place for reaching store shelves, Knebel said.

 

“It’s very involved.  All agriculture.  It’s not easy anymore,” he said. 

 

Cows having four stomachs is one of the fun, jaw dropping for many people facts he enjoys sharing.

 

Dave Foreman said he hopes his three children after passing through the mobile classroom will think twice now about leaving some of the milk they pour in their glasses and cereal bowls.

 

“It’s a little bit more than just milking a cow,” he said.

Slicer Sports Sidelined by COVID-19

(LaPorte) - Some LaPorte High School sports have been sidelined before they even began. Monday was supposed to have been the first official day for most fall athletes, but word went out Sunday night that coronavirus had struck again.

Athletic Director Ed Gilliland sent communication to families that positive COVID-19 tests had been reported in the boys’ tennis and football programs. Those sports, along with wrestling, have been shut down until further notice.

School officials say they are working with the county health department to investigate the cases and determine when practices may resume.

It’s the second such shutdown in recent days. New Prairie’s football program was sacked by coronavirus on Friday and will not return the field until Wednesday. Michigan City High School resumed their athletic training last week after a 10-day layoff.

Illinois Students Cross the Line for a Good Time

Remember when high-schoolers would cross state borders for alcohol or other adult fun? In the age of COVID, they do it just to have a traditional social gathering.

Last week, students of Illinois’ Lincoln-Way East High School crossed into Indiana to hold the prom they couldn’t have last spring.

With no sanction from the school district, students raised money, sold tickets, and organized a private prom at an orchard in Hobart, a small town in northwest Indiana.

They crossed the line because allowances for social gatherings are much larger in Indiana than in Chicago’s southwest suburbs. At least 250 people attended the prom, but contact tracing since the event indicates the crowd was probably larger.

Now health officials in the Frankfort, Illinois area are monitoring COVID-19 numbers carefully. They have seen an uptick in cases recently, but it is not possible to tie the increase directly to the prom.

Officials in northwest Indiana have taken steps in recent weeks to close down public spaces, like beaches, that attract out-of-state visitors.

Hoosier Star Competition Goes Virtual

(La Porte, IN) - The 15th Annual Hoosier Star competition in La Porte is proceeding almost as planned this year.  Finalists for the event have been selected.  The ten finalists will take the mic at State Street Community Church on September 12, starting at 7p.  But, there won't be a live audience.

 

Tim King, Executive Director of the La Porte County Symphony Orchestera, says things will be pretty much the same except the entire show will be streamed online.  People can stream the event on multiple websites at no cost, but if they want to vote for the winners there's a $10 charge.

 

The competition has to divisions, Youth and Adult.  Below are the finalist for each division:

 

YOUTH DIVISION - AGE 17 AND UNDER

Jamileh Cornejo - La Porte

Julia Larson - Chesterton

Lily Belle Nuest - Kouts

Raul Palma - La Porte

Grace Phillips - Westville

 

ADULT DIVISION - AGE 18 AND OVER

Alyse Flores - La Porte

Alanna Mossell - Portage

Leann Stutler - Crown Point

Alora Tribole - Chesterton

Evan Wooding - La Porte

 

These individuals will compete, in their respective divisions, for the title of HOOSIER STAR.  Each finalist will sing a song of their choice with musicians from the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Alastair Willis. 1st place Adult and Youth Winners will receive a $1,000 prize. 2nd place Adult and Youth Winners will receive a $500 prize.

Westville Cops to Learn Martial Arts

(Westville, IN) - While police agencies across the country are under fire for not providing kinder, gentler law enforcement, cops in Westville will soon be required to learn martial arts.


The topic came up at a recent special town board meeting. Westville's chief of police Darin Mercer said he wants to incorporate the skill into his officers' training.


Westville officers will now be required to have at least six hours of Jui Jitsu training each month at a local martial arts studio.

County Schools Update

(La Porte County, IN) - Area county school districts continue to refine their plans for the start of school, which is only a few weeks away. 

 

Yesterday, South Central Community Schools announced they will start the year 100% virtual.  Administrators say students will be kept out of South Central classrooms until further notice.

 

Schools in LaCrosse and Wanatah are using a stoplight system similar to La Porte's to manage COVID risks.  But they have also recently added a virtual-only option for families who don't want to take any chances.

 

This week New Prairie made a similar move, announcing an online academy option.  New Prairie plans to open with 50% attendance, meaning students attend school every other day.

New Prairie Road Construction

Road construction has highway intersections both north and south of New Prairie High School all but shut down. 

 

Only one westbound lane on State Road 2 is open at this time.  Workers are installing and widening turn lanes.  INDOT spokesperson Cassandra Bajek says work should be complete by the start of school.

 

Bajek says a stoplight at Cougar Rd. and US 20 will also be installed soon, but may not be operational by the start of school.

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