Local News Archives for 2020-09

Open Burning Leads to Barn Fire

(Union Mills, IN) - A barn in La Porte County was destroyed by fire on Sunday.  Firefighters after 3 p.m. responded to the 6100 block of S. 400 West.

 

According to La Porte County Police, a 40-year old woman was burning unwanted items in a fire pit and walked away for a couple of minutes.  When she returned, the fire somehow spread from the pit to the barn and the woman attempted to extinguish the fire with a garden hose but the flames had grown too intense, police said.

 

Police said a smaller barn nearby caught fire but firefighters managed to save that structure.  The larger barn collapsed shortly after the fire was extinguished.

 

According to police, the woman was cleaning out the home of her grandmother who passed away recently.

 

Photo Credit:  VFR Drones

SOUND OFF - Trumps Taxes

(La Porte, IN) - SOUND OFF is a community conversation forum on 96.7 The Eagle.  Every Monday on SOUND OFF, host Nate Loucks leads a debate about a topic of public interest.  Today, that topic was Trump's Taxes and if they should be a factor as a political issue.  You can stream this edition of SOUND OFF here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOUND OFF, with host Nate Loucks, airs every Monday and Friday from 12:30p to 1:00p on 96.7 The Eagle.  Hear previous episodes of SOUND OFF by following this link to our Podcast Page (link).

Bison Stampede in Football

(New Buffalo, MI)  - Something special could be in the making for the New Buffalo High School football team, which began the season with consecutive blow out victories. 

 

On Friday, September 25th, The Bison defeated Eau Claire on the road 68-0.  The score was 52-0 at the end of the first quarter.  The Bison scored five touchdowns on their first 10 plays from scrimmage.

 

“I feel like we had a really good game plan and the kids executed it very well and when that happens the results speak for themselves,” said Head Coach Matt Johnson.

 

Quarterback Michael Bombin started things on offense for the Bison with a 55 yard touchdown run.  Brenden Tanksley on the next series of downs ran the ball into the end zone from 70 yards.  Other highlights included a 50 yard touchdown run by Anthony Lijewski and two receiving touchdowns by Stephen Margaritis.  Ben Lijewski led the Bison on defense with 11 tackles and a fumble recovery.

 

New Buffalo opened the season the previous week with a 52-8 win at Bangor.  Johnson said he believed a factor in both lopsided victories was competing against programs that just converted to 8 man football this year.  New Buffalo made the transition from the 11 man game last year.  “There’s a learning curve that they’re going through and we were able to take advantage of it,” he said.

 

Johnson said the next two games against programs more established in the 8 man game will shed more light on how far the Bison have come since winning one game last season with a squad of mostly underclassmen.

 

New Buffalo hosts Wyoming Tri-Unity Christian School Friday at 7:30 p.m.  The Bison play at Bridgman on October 9 at 7 p.m.

 

“Right now, we’re a nice shiny new Corvette.  We’re fast and we look good on the outside, but these next two weeks will tell us what type of engine we actually have underneath the hood,” Johnson said.

Arrest in Fatal Shooting Six Weeks Ago

(Michigan City, IN) - An arrest has been made for a fatal shooting in Michigan City last month.  19-year old Demario Williams-Anderson was taken into custody Friday in Indianapolis, according to Michigan City Police.

 

Police said he was located by local and federal authorities once information developed that he had fled to that area.  He’s accused of fatally shooting Darius Mitchell on August 11th at the Pinetree Court apartment Complex on the city’s south side.

 

Williams-Anderson, of Michigan City, is being held in the La Porte County Jail on $1 million cash

bond, pending an initial hearing Tuesday on a charge of murder in La Porte Superior Court 1. 

Franciscan Health Building Another Hospital

(Crown Point, IN) - Another new Franciscan Health hospital is going to go up in Northwest Indiana.  Groundbreaking is scheduled Thursday on a $200 million dollar facility along Interstate 65 near Crown Point.  Construction is expected to take about two and a half years, hospital officials said.

 

Franciscan Health opened a new hospital along Interstate 94 outside Michigan City about two-years ago.  They also teamed up with Beacon Health Systems on a new miniature hospital in La Porte along State Road 2 on the city’s west side.  The La Porte facility recently opened several weeks ago.

Reward in Unsolved Hit and Run Fatality

(Michigan City, IN) - A reward is being offered by the family of a woman killed by a hit and run driver in Michigan City earlier this month.  46-year old Tara Stevens was crossing Michigan Boulevard on foot when struck by a vehicle on September 12.  Stevens was on life support until she died six days ago.

 

According to Michigan City Police, her family is offering $4,000 for information on the identity of the driver or vehicle involved in the hit and run.  Police said investigators have received numerous tips in the case but none have led to the name of the driver or vehicle.

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police.

Sound Off with Senator Mike Bohacek - September 25, 2020

(La Porte, IN) - 96.7 The Eagle and Nate Loucks hosted State Senator Mike Bohacek on SOUND OFF this past Friday (9/25).  They discussed state budget funding, the mask mandate, public school education, and more.  You can stream this edition of SOUND OFF here:

 

 

 

 

 

SOUND OFF, with host Nate Loucks, airs every Monday and Friday from 12:30p to 1:00p on 96.7 The Eagle.  Hear previous episodes of SOUND OFF by following this link to our Podcast Page (link).

 

 

Food Bank Visits La Porte County

(Michigan City & Hamlet, IN) - The Food Bank of Northern Indiana will be in La Porte County again next week.  On Tuesday, September 29 volunteers will be handing out bagged and boxed food.  Enough for 400 households, while supplies last.

 

The giveaway will be at the Marquette Mall outside of the old J.C. Penney from 10 a.m. until noon.
The Food Bank will also be setting up down in Hamlet on Thursday.  That giveaway will take place at the Davis Township Fire Department from 10-noon.

 

School COVID Numbers

(Indianapolis, IN) - Starting next week, COVID-19 numbers from Indiana schools will be made public on a regular basis.  State Health Commissioner, Dr. Kris Box, says over 70% of Hoosier schools have reported their health statistics to the State over the past week.  So far, over half of schools have reported COVID-19 cases.

 

Sometime next week, numbers will be uploaded to the State's COVID-19 tracking website.
The dashboard will show reported cases for students and staff. It will also be searchable by school.

La Porte County Week in Review - Week of 9/20/20

(La Porte, IN) - When news happens in La Porte County, HometownNewsNow.com is there to bring you the story as it happens.  And, with NO subscription required to read the article!  Here are links to the Top Local News stories of the week on HometownNewsNow.com during the period of September 20th through September 26th:

 

#5:  Demonstrations Providing Comedy Relief to Political Strife

 

#4:  La Porte Hospital Being Renamed

 

#3:  60-Years for Killing Grandmother

 

#2:  Ground Breaking for Resort Type Housing

 

#1:  Major Spending Cuts Begin in La Porte

 

Powered by the News Department at 96.7 The Eagle and Rock 106.5, HometownNewsNow.com is the new #1 Source of News and Information in La Porte County.  Please bookmark and LIKE us on Facebook and we'll keep you up to date with the latest News and Information in La Porte County.

New Prairie Weighing Attendance Options

(New Carlisle, IN)  - New Prairie school officials are weighing their next steps towards full attendance.  Currently, students are attending school in-person two days a week and doing the rest online. That plan expires in two weeks.

 

Parents were surveyed this week to get their feedback, and the school board will host a public meeting Monday night to get more comments and report on the COVID-19 status throughout the district.  Parents can still fill out the online survey through Sunday evening.

 

Monday’s meeting will start at 6 pm in the high school auditorium.  It will also be broadcast live on the district's Facebook page.  School Superintendent, Dr. Paul White, says the results of the survey and the school board's final decision will be communicated to families sometime after Monday's meeting.

Phone Scam Wipes out Woman's Bank Account

(Michigan City) - Scammers have struck again in Michigan City.  The Michigan City Police Department reports that a resident was recently conned out of $500 over the phone.  The victim received a call from a Maryland area code with a message that her SSN number had been compromised.

 

Upon calling back, the victim was told her identity was being used by someone in Texas for drug dealing.  To protect her assets, the scammers told her to empty the contents of her bank account onto a gift card and text them a photo for verification.  She complied, and the money quickly disappeared.

 

Police, as always, advise ignoring robocalls, avoiding immediate payment requests via gift cards and money orders, and reporting suspicious phone requests.

Slicers at Home in Football Tonight

(La Porte, IN) - The Slicers Football team takes on the undefeated Merrillville Pirates at home tonight.

 

La Porte looked great in getting their first win of the season last week against Lake Central.  Chip Jones, our very own voice of the Slicers, said Merrillville will be tough to beat due to their size and speed.  But, La Porte has shown noticeable improvement and made some changes that seem to be working on offense.

 

Kick off at Kiwanis Field is 7 p.m.  The game will be broadcast live on 96.7 The Eagle beginning at 6:45 p.m. with the pregame show by Chip Jones and Steve Manering.

Groundbreaking for Resort Type Rentals

(La Porte, IN) - Groundbreaking was held Friday on what many believe will bring major economic revitalization to LaPorte.  200 resort type apartments, called “The Banks”, are going up at New Porte Landing near Clear Lake.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said the former Allis Chalmers site, once the heart of industry and jobs in the city, will now become what drives the local economy once again. 

 

Flaherty and Collins Properties out of Indianapolis has developed other higher end residential properties nationwide, including some as close as Mishawaka and Elkhart.  David Flaherty, owner and CEO of the company, said the upscale housing has a track record of attracting mostly young professionals with disposable income to spend in the community and talent highly desired by local employers.  He said a lot of interest is already being expressed by local residents as potential tenants, but feels people from places like Valparaiso and Chicago will be attracted there as well since the development is unique to the area.

 

“The Banks” will feature amenities like a swimming pool and bicycle storage along with granite countertops and stainless steel kitchen appliances inside the unit.  Monthly rent for the one and two bedroom units will range from $900 to $1,500.  Construction is expected to take 18 months.

New Fire Station Dedicated in La Porte

(La Porte, IN)  - It seems like the stars lined up for construction of a sorely needed new fire station in La Porte.  Fire Chief Andy Snyder said the $1.7 million facility at 710 Daytona St. was largely made possible when the cost, thanks to creative engineering, was slashed by more than half the original estimate.

 

He said the new fire station, built mostly from steel, sits on a four acre parcel the Indiana Department of Transportation donated to the city in 2008.  INDOT abandoned the site when moving its La Porte District headquarters to the southern edge of the city at 315 E. Boyd Boulevard.

 

Also helping make this project possible was the $375,000 a developer recently paid to tear down the old fire station on the city’s east side and replace it with a Popeye’s restaurant.  “All of these things together solidified that we have a win, win situation,” Snyder said.

 

The fire station, which was recently put into service, was dedicated Thursday when Snyder along with Mayor Tom Dermody and former Mayor Mark Krentz helped unscrew two hoses stretched in front of the building.

 

Snyder said the new, twice as large fire station, has practically everything the old facility along Indiana 2 did not have like an exercise room and the department’s first ever training facility.  Other features include a gear room for firefighters returning from a call to decontaminate without tracking potential toxins into other parts of the building. 

 

Snyder said there’s also room outside and in the rafters above the four bays to accommodate his plans for adding more training equipment.  “When we talk about training so that our firefighters are prepared for anything that comes their way this is the building to do that,” said LaP orte mayor Tom Dermody.

 

Fire trucks also don’t have to pull forward into a busy intersection then back into their bays like they did at the old station on a less than half acre parcel.

 

Snyder said the move was a long time coming from a station only halfway completed due to cost when constructed in 1966.  “We’re happy to be in here and we’re looking to serve the community,” he said.

Free Pumpkins, Popcorn and Prayer

(Michigan City, IN) - The Salvation Army in Michigan City is having an event to help people during these challenging times.  Free pumpkins, popcorn and prayer will be offered next month.

 

Major Dale Simmons says the idea is to be there for people during what’s been an especially challenging year because of COVID-19.  He says the need for services has increased dramatically during the pandemic.  “Sometimes we don’t think about the folks in our community who were already suffering from poverty, homelessness and hunger before the pandemic even began. These people are the ones who were impacted the most and we want to let them know we are here for all of their needs,” he said.

 

The free pumpkins, popcorn and prayer is scheduled October 11 from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Salvation Army headquarters at 1201 S. Franklin St.  People are asked to remain in their vehicles for social distancing purposes and if they show up on foot keep six feet of distance from other individuals.

60-Years for Killing Grandmother

(La Porte, IN) - A 60-year prison sentence was given Thursday to a Michigan City man for the beating death of his grandmother in La Porte.  Anthony Carter, Jr., 28, maintained his innocence prior to being sentenced for murder, robbery, aggravated battery and theft.  He was convicted by a LaPorte Circuit Court jury on August 6.

           

“Condolences to my family. I wish them to find peace at a time of need and, in time, God will show them I did not do this,” Carter said.

 

Beulah Biege, 75, was found inside her Warren St. home two days after the assault in February of 2019.  She died of a brain injury eight days later, authorities said.

  

According to prosecutors, Carter was living with Biege until she kicked him out of her residence.  He later showed up asking for the keys to her SUV.  She refused, then while being attacked, tried defending herself and fell to the floor where she was kicked on the left side of her head, according to prosecutors.

 

Prosecutors said Carter took her vehicle and other belongings like jewelry then went to a home in Michigan City occupied by people who testified seeing him bloody with rings on his possession.

 

La Porte County Deputy Prosecutor, Atley Price, said he later told someone “I caused the injuries that caused her to die.”  Price, citing the nature of the killing along with Carter’s seven prior convictions for past crimes, asked for no less than a 65-year sentence.  “It was a prolonged, agonizing death. She never regained consciousness,” he said.

 

Cherlinda Carter described her mother as “a woman of God” who did everything for her grandson ever since he was a child.  “You took a beautiful soul. The only woman who ever cared about you. Why did you do that,” she said.

Hunter Badly Hurt in Tree Stand Fall

(Porter County, IN) - A deer hunter is recovering after falling from a tree stand in Porter County.  According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the man from Kouts suffered a

serious leg injury Tuesday evening.

 

He fell from a tree stand 10 feet off the ground near Kouts, DNR officials said.  The man was taken by off road vehicle to an ambulance.  DNR is advising people in tree stands to use a safety harness to keep from falling.

Ground Breaking for Resort Type Housing

(La Porte, IN) - A ground breaking ceremony is scheduled Friday on 200 resort type apartments in La Porte.  The development, which includes retail space, is going up at New Porte Landing near Clear Lake.  Work preparing the ground for the pouring of footings and foundations started a few weeks ago.

 

Bert Cook, executive director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, said it’s an exciting time because of the years of work involved in getting the former industrial property ready for new development and the economic infusion the higher end housing should bring to the city.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody called the project “a game changer” for the community.  The ground breaking is scheduled at 10 a.m.

 

The over $30 million dollar development is expected to take 18 months to complete.  Cook said another 50 apartments could be constructed later depending on demand.

Woman Struck by Fleeing Vehicle Dies

(Michigan City, IN) - A woman struck by a hit and run driver in Michigan City has died.  46 year old Tara Stevens was on life support until she passed away on Tuesday night.  Her brother, Joel Stevens, told WNDU TV out of South Bend her kidneys were donated to two individuals.

 

Police said the woman was crossing Michigan Boulevard when hit by a vehicle at Warnke Road just before midnight on September 12.  The investigation shows the victim was with a male companion when hit by a dark colored SUV suspected to have damage to the front passenger side.

 

No arrests have yet been reported.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police.

Repair Work Planned for U.S 20

(La Porte County, IN) - Repairs are scheduled for a stretch of major highway in La Porte County.  According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, U.S 20 will be down to one lane starting Tuesday.

 

Milling, patching and resurfacing will occur from State Road 2 to the St. Joseph County line.  INDOT officials said the work should be completed by mid-October.  Drivers are encouraged to slow down and use caution when driving through the work zone.

Indiana Economy Wide Open This Weekend

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana is moving to stage 5 of its economic reopening plan.  Governor Eric Holcomb made the decision in response to improving coronavirus numbers.

 

Holcomb said stores, malls, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and gyms will all be able to open at full capacity beginning Saturday.

 

However, the state’s mask mandate will continue for another three weeks.

 

Free COVID-19 Testing Extended

(La Porte, IN) - Free COVID-19 testing in La Porte has been extended again.  According to the mayor’s office, the testing at the Civic Auditorium will continue through October.

 

Testing has been done at the Civic since the first of July.  Mayor Tom Dermody says the state extended the testing available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

COVID-19 Places Hold on Notre Dame Football

(South Bend, IN) – The football season at the University of Notre Dame is on hold because of COVID-19.  According to university officials, seven players have tested positive for the virus.  The players were likely infected before the game against South Florida University last Saturday.

 

The upcoming game against Wake Forest has been postponed as a result of the positive test results, officials said.

Selling Marijuana Under Consideration in Three Oaks

(Three Oaks, MI) – Marijuana could be sold legally at a proposed new store across the state line.  Officials in Three Oaks are considering a proposal to allow marijuana to be sold and produced in the village.  The measure calls for just one marijuana store and cap of two growers of the plant.

 

A vote by the Village Council on the measure could happen as soon as next month.  The sale of medical marijuana in Michigan been legal for years but using marijuana for recreational purposes was approved by a majority of voters in 2018.

Local Man Received State Award Today

(La Porte County, IN) – A La Porte County man today was presented with the Golden Hoosier Award for giving back to the community.  Keith Swanson of Hanna was one of 24 senior citizens from Indiana to receive the award from the Lieutenant Governor’s Office for making a positive impact on other and their communities.

 

Swanson, 69, was in charge of many of the recent improvements at the La Porte County fairgrounds in areas like water and sewer service and building restoration.  Swanson, a nine-year member of the La Porte County Agricultural Association, said it was nice to be recognized for the volunteers who make it possible for good things anywhere to occur.

 

He’s an electrician by trade and former owner of a dairy equipment dealership who still does some farming.

Early Voting Sites Added in La Porte County

(La Porte, IN) - Early voting sites are being added in LaPorte County after the proposal was recently defeated.  The added sites are at Wanatah Town Hall, at 104 N. Main St. and the previous La Porte County Public Library building, in Coolspring Township at Johnson Road and 400 North.

 

Members of the South County Community Coalition pushed for the early voting site in Wanatah so residents south of Westville no longer have to drive 20 miles or more to current early voting sites in LaPorte and Michigan City.  The request was denied September 11, despite a 2 to 1 vote in favor of the request by the La Porte County Election Board.

 

The required unanimous vote came Tuesday when election board member Kathy Chroback, who’s also the La Porte County Clerk, reversed her decision.  She went along with the request as long as technical support is added to resolve any issues that might occur at the two new sites and the other two early voting locations already in place in Michigan City and La Porte.

 

Chroback said more help, in what’s already a monument task, is needed from adding locations so close to the November 3 election.  “Manning four early voting locations is impossible for one person to handle,” Chroback said.  Her other conditions included having keys to early voting locations for access before and after hours along with facilities equipped with computers, printers, copiers, scales and secure internet access.  She also asked the early voting sites have restrooms and a kitchen for use by poll workers.

 

“We have people that work in these facilities for four weeks and they cannot leave and they need the amenities so they can stay there throughout the day,” Chroback said.

 

Her final stipulation was for the LaPorte County Commissioners and the La Porte County Council to support establishing voting centers with electronic poll books for the next election in 2022.

 

Over 30 Indiana counties use voting centers believed to save money and reduce the workload by eliminating poll workers and voting in some precincts.  The election board voted to examine the feasibility of voting centers.

 

La Porte County Commission president Sheila Matias and La Porte County Council president Randy Novak expressed commitment to meet Chroback’s demands at the new early voting sites and support for looking at voting centers.  “We do need to get with the times.  A study won’t hurt anything,” said election board member Chuck Watterson.

Chase Ends with Arrest

(Michigan City, IN) - An arrest was made during a high speed chase by La Porte County Police.  Taken into custody was 36 year old Amber Pace of Michigan City.

 

Police said the pursuit began when an officer discovered her vehicle did not have a proper license plate.  Stop sticks were used to flatten the vehicle’s tires on U.S 20.  The pursuit ended at Michigan Boulevard and Case St. in Michigan City when the vehicle hit a concrete median wall.

 

The woman, who fled on foot, was soon captured.  At the time, Pace was wanted for escape, police said.  She’s currently being held in the La Porte County Jail without bond.

Stacks of Suspected Drug Money Recovered

(La Porte County, IN) - More than $350,000 in suspected drug money was seized during a traffic stop on the Indiana Toll Road.  According to Michigan City Police, a van was pulled over for moving violations at the 44 mile marker last week.  A K-9 dog helped locate the pile of money in the cargo area of the van.

 

The 53 year old Rhode Island resident, who was driving the van, was released since no drugs were located in the vehicle.  A few days later, police say federal investigators found evidence the money was related to the sale of drugs.  So far, no arrests have been reported.

Horseback Chase in Chicago

(Chicago, IL) - A man on horseback led police on a chase along the Dan Ryan Expressway in Chicago yesterday.  Reports indicate the man live streamed the incident on Facebook and could be heard yelling "Kids’ lives matter."

 

Reports indicate the horse galloped from 10 to 15 miles per hour in the outside lane of the expressway while surrounding by motorcycles and holding up traffic.   Eventually, police grabbed the 33 year old Adam Hollingsworth of Chicago as the horse stood in a nearby grassy area.

 

 

Protections for LGBTQ Community Approved

(La Porte, IN) - More teeth have been added to protect the LBGTQ community in La Porte against discrimination.  The City Council adopted a revised human rights ordinance on Monday night, adding language to define more clearly discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  The ordinance also requires city employees undergo diversity training every two-years and renames the city’s Human Rights Commission to the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

           

The committee will consist of three members appointed by the mayor and two members named by the City Council.  City Councilman Tim Franke said the role of the committee will be to promote “inclusiveness and diversity within the city.”

           

Complaints will have to be taken to a judge outside the jurisdiction of the city or to the Indiana Human Rights Commission to be decided as they were previously.  The measure comes after City Councilman Roger Galloway told a member of the LGBTQ community during a public meeting on July 6 “you know that’s against The Bible...anybody ever read The Bible,” he said.

           

His remarks were met with considerable backlash from Mayor Tom Dermody and other members of the city council.  Galloway later apologized publicly and in private to the LGBTQ community.  Several residents spoke for and against the proposal before it was approved unanimously.

           

Larry Pinkerton said he agreed all citizens should be given equal opportunity but felt Galloway was an example of efforts nationwide to silence people of faith in violation of their freedom of speech rights.  He also felt the ordinance could become a tool for religious suppression.

 

“This is not just about making sure people with sexual identity issues are not bullied.  It’s about bullying religious people and shutting up their values and especially parental authority,” said Candace Wright.

 

Bill Lott said he wishes the measure was in place during a period when his son struggled greatly with his sexual orientation before coming out.  “You don’t choose to be gay.  You are who you are.  I was proven that when my son petrified, terrified, crying came to us to say dad I think I’m gay and I don’t want to disappoint you,” he said.

 

“I have friends and family who are parts of the LGBTQ community and I want my sons and my daughters to grow up in a more tolerant city,” said Blake Boardman.

 

La Porte Hospital Being Renamed

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Hospital is preparing for a new name.  According to hospital officials, a new name and logo will be revealed during a September 30 ceremony at the new hospital at 1331 State St.

 

Officials said a new healthcare network will also be announced during the event, scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.  The new hospital is scheduled to open in late October.

Major Spending Cuts Begin in La Porte

(La Porte, IN)- The city of La Porte is preparing for tough financial times.  On Monday night, the City Council approved a budget cut that trims spending for the remainder of the year by

$580,000.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said the cuts were a first step to prepare for more scaling back of spending that will have to be done from next year’s budget.  He said state property tax caps will mean a 22-percent loss in city revenue in 2021.  Overall, the tax caps will mean over $3 million in lost revenue for the city.

 

Dermody said it appears another $500,000 will be lost from fewer dollars collected by the state in areas like income tax because of higher unemployment caused by COVID-19.

 

According to Dermody, the goal is not to have any job lay-offs resulting from the reductions in spending.

Park Programs Cancelled for Mosquito Spraying

(La Porte, IN) - Spraying for mosquitos is scheduled to begin today in La Porte County.  As a precaution, the La Porte Park Department has cancelled all outdoor programs for this evening as a precaution.  Parks Superintendent Mark Schreiber says the cancellations include adult softball and youth baseball games and practices.

 

The Indiana State Department of Health has contracted to spay for mosquitos in La Porte County in response to a human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in the county.  The potentially deadly virus is spread by mosquitos.  The spraying will begin this evening and continue through tomorrow night, according to the ISDH.

 

The areas being sprayed are outlined in the map below:


Area Resident Considered for Supreme Court

(South Bend, IN) - A South Bend woman is reportedly being considered for the vacancy on the U.S Supreme Court.

 

Amy Barrett is judge at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.  She’s also a faculty member at the University of Notre Dame’s school of law.

 

Various published reports indicate she’s at the top of president Trump’s list of candidates for the U.S Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Ruth Baden Ginsburg.

Ceremony Planned for New Fire Station

(La Porte, IN) – A new fire station in La Porte will be christened this week.  According to the mayor’s office, a hose uncoupling ceremony is scheduled Thursday at the new Fire Station No. 3 at 710 Daytona St. about two blocks south of Indiana 2 on the city’s east side.  The ceremony is slated to begin at 3:30 p.m.

 

The fire station, build at an expense of about $1.7 million, replaces the much smaller fire station to the east at Boyd Boulevard and Indiana 2.  A Popeyes restaurant is planned where the old fire station has stood since the 1960’s.

 

Fire Chief Andy Snyder said the new facility has twice the space and room for  future expansion, if necessary.  He indicates the old fire station lacked adequate space and due to how the parcel was configured, fire trucks had to pull into traffic at a busy intersection then back up into their bays when they completed a run.  The new fire station fixes those challenges.

Off Road Vehicle Fatality

(Starke County, IN) - A Knox woman was killed in an accident involving an off road vehicle in Starke County.  According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, 39-year old Misty Staton was pronounced dead the scene.  She was a passenger on the off road machine driven by 28-year old Dalton Minix, who was hospitalized with a head injury, DNR said. 

 

The accident occurred about 6 p.m. yesterday on State Road 10 near Bass Lake.  Authorities say the off road vehicle failed to negotiate a turn at a high rate of speed and rolled over.  According to authorities, alcohol may have been a factor in the crash, which is still under investigation.

Demonstrations Providing Comedy Relief to Political Strife

(La Porte, IN) - Light hearted demonstrators providing comedy relief from the political strife nationwide were present in downtown La Porte over the weekend.  They stood in front of the courthouse for a second time on Saturday with a large plywood sign stating “Bring Back the McRib.”  The demonstration is calling for the return of a McDonalds sandwich , which is typically only offered just during select times of the year.

 

Zach Ford of La Porte came up with the idea, not for the satisfaction of his taste buds year round, but to lighten up the mood of the political climate marked by demonstrations and rioting in different parts of the country. 

 

His friend, 18 year old Seth Cupres also of La Porte, said he’s been surprised by the number of passing motorists honking their horns and hits received on social media on pictures of the them with the sign.  Cupres said the response from the public has been so great they’re thinking about raising money to take the Bring Back the McRib demonstration to other parts of the nation.

 

He and several of his friends were outside courthouse for at least six hours on Saturday.  Their first "Bring Back the McRib" demonstration happened the previous weekend. 

Local Resident Given State Award

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte County resident is in some pretty select company.  Keith Swanson is receiving the 2020 Golden Hoosier Award. Swanson, along with 23 other Hoosiers, are receiving the award from the Indiana Lieutenant Governor’s Office.

 

The award is being granted to mature Hoosiers for their years of service to others and dedication to enhancing local communities.  The awards ceremony is scheduled at 12:00 p.m. Wednesday.

 

The LaPorte County Agricultural Association played a role in Swanson receiving the award.

Two Police Officers Earn Promotions

(La Porte, IN) - Two La Porte Police officers have been promoted.  According to police, the promotions have gone to Captain Joe Blake and Sargent Brian Favia.

 

Blake, who’s been with the department for 15 years, is now the afternoon shift supervisor.

 

Favia, a 14-year member of the force, is taking over as the afternoon shift commander.

 

Police Chief Paul Brettin commended them for their leadership and for setting a good example for the younger officers with the department. 

Farmers to be Subsidized for Pandemic Losses

(Washington, DC) -  The federal government will be stepping up to subsidize farmers' losses resulting from the worldwide pandemic.

 

President Trump mentioned the aid in a speech Thursday night in Wisconsin.  Then, on Friday, the USDA announced $14 billion in funds to compensate farm losses across the nation.


The aid is meant specifically to offset losses from increased costs of getting produce to market.

 

Suspicious Death Near Walkerton

(Walkerton, IN)  - St. Joseph County police are investigating a suspicious death near Walkerton.
Police responded Friday morning to a dead body in a home on Tamarack Road, a rural area between Walkerton and Potato Creek State Park.

 

According to the St. Joseph County coroner's office, a female body was removed from the residence and was scheduled for autopsy yesterday.   Additional information has not been released.

Local Judge Leading Judicial Reform

(La Porte, IN) -  A La Porte County judge is helping to spearhead judicial reform in Indiana.
A group called the Judicial Conference of Indiana represents some 400 judges across the state.  This week, they released a plan for legal reform in Hoosier courtrooms.

 

La Porte Superior Court Judge, Richard Stalbrink Jr., co-chairs the committee that issued the plan.  Among the suggestions are increasing courtroom safety, increased use of technology, and centralizing the means of paying for county courts.


This is the group's first strategic plan initiative since 2010.

La Porte County Week in Review - Week of 9/13/20

(La Porte, IN) - When news happens in La Porte County, HometownNewsNow.com is there to bring you the story as it happened.  And, with NO subscription required to read the article!  Here are links to the Top Local News stories of the week on HometownNewsNow.com during the period of September 13th through September 19th:

 

#5:  Guilty Plea in Child Molesting Case

 

#4:  Dueling Demonstrators Face Off in Downtown La Porte

 

#3:  Charges in Alleged Police Pension Fraud

 

#2:  Howmet Aerospace Cutting 150 More Jobs in La Porte

 

#1:  Utility Worker Impaled by Tree Limb

 

Powered by the News Department at 96.7 The Eagle and Rock 106.5, HometownNewsNow.com is the new #1 Source of News and Information in La Porte County.  Please bookmark and LIKE us on Facebook and we'll keep you up to date with the latest News and Information in La Porte County.

City Band Back in Action

(La Porte, IN) -  COVID can’t keep a good band down.  La Porte’s historic City Band will be back in action, playing a free concert Sunday at Fox Park.

 

The band’s regular Wednesday performances were preempted this year due to the pandemic. But after 141 seasons, the music must go on.  This will be the 102nd year the band has played at Fox Park.

 

Sunday's free concert begins at 4 pm. Soloist Tim King, who directs the LaPorte County Symphony, will also be singing.

Mosquito Spraying Scheduled for LaPorte County

(La Porte County, IN)  - Parts of La Porte County will be sprayed this week to kill off mosquitos that may be carrying a deadly virus.  It’s in part a response to a human case of the Eastern Equine Encephalitis Virus that infected a La Porte County resident recently.   Probable infections in some area horses are also suspected.

 

Parts of La Porte, Elkhart, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Marshall, and Noble counties will be sprayed in an attempt to stop the spread of the mosquito borne virus.  State health officials estimate about 375,000 acres could be affected.

 

A pesticide called Dibrom will be applied. The spray kills mosquitos on contact. It is not harmful to humans or animals, but pet owners and beekeepers may want to take precautions, just to be safe.

The spray will be applied the evening of Tuesday, September 22 and the following day, if necessary.

Slicers Gunning for First Win of the Season

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte High School football team is looking for its first win of the season tonight.  The Slicers hit the road against Lake Central.  Kick-off is scheduled at 7 p.m.

 

The game will be broadcast live on 96.7 The Eagle beginning at 6:45 p.m with the pregame show by Chip Jones and Steve Manering.

 

The 0-4 Slicers lost to Chesterton last Friday.

Medics Take a Liking to New Base

(La Porte, IN) – Paramedics with La Porte County Emergency Management Service are getting accustomed to the new ambulance station in La Porte. 

 

The former ambulance base was torn down to make room for the new La Porte Hospital scheduled to open at State St. and Tyler St. next month.  The new ambulance base, just a short distance from the old location, is also on State St. near the current hospital.

 

EMS Director Andrew McGuire said the new facility is similar in space but designed to provide more room than what the old EMS base contained in some areas.  There’s also room for a few extra beds for medics to sleep during their long shifts at the new facility.  “We opened up some walls and changed things around,” he said.

 

The new ambulance station is a wood frame structure as opposed to the brick exterior of the old building.  LaPorte Hospital paid for much, if not, all of the $1 million dollar cost of the move.

 

EMS has been contracted to move patients from the old hospital to the new hospital on October 24.

Man Pierced by Stick Recovering

(La Porte, IN) - A man pierced by a stick outside La Porte apparently is on the road to recovery.  James Johnson, 24, was listed in stable condition Friday in the trauma center at Memorial Hospital in South Bend.

 

According to La Porte County Police, Johnson was part of a crew clearing brush Wednesday from a utility right of way on 100 West about three miles north of the city limits.  Exactly how the stick wound up penetrating his body remained unclear.  But, according to a police report, Johnson told investigators he was operating an off road vehicle and going to pick up some co-workers when he heard a “loud popping noise.”  He then felt pain and saw a stick hanging down from his leg. 

 

Johnson said he tried pulling out the stick but could feel it under his ribs on the left side of his body, according to the police report.  He reportedly broken off the bottom portion of the stick then was assisted by his co-workers, who drove him to the road to wait for emergency responders.  He was taken by a Medic One helicopter, which landed in an open field about a quarter mile away from the accident scene.

 

Johnson is from southern Illinois working for a company hired to maintain the utility right of way.

Cancelled Sunflower Fair Lives On at Farmers Market

(La Porte, IN) - The farmers market in La Porte on Saturday will have a sunflower theme.  Normally, the Sunflower Fair drawing thousands of people annually to La Porte’s downtown area would have been tomorrow but it was cancelled because of COVID-19.

 

Angela Rose, the city’s Downtown Coordinator, said people can still get a taste of the Sunflower Fair at the farmers market at Lincolnway and Monroe St.  Rose said due to limited space, the market cannot come close to replacing the Sunflower Fair but there will be sunflower paintings and demonstrations along with other sunflower related happenings to try and fill some of the void.

 

A few of the vendors normally at the Sunflower Fair will also be on hand to serve people during the market which runs every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. through October.

Temporary Road Closure Begins Monday

(Starke County, IN) - A stretch of a state highway in Starke County will be temporarily closed beginning Monday. 

 

According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, State Road 8 will be closed between 100 West and 100 East.  During the project, crews will be installing a "pipe liner" at State Road 8 and Range Road.  Range Road intersects at State Road 8 between State Road 39 and U.S. 35 in Starke County.

 

INDOT officials say the closure will be in effect for two weeks.

Grants to Help Beautification Efforts

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte is the recent recipient of a partnership grant from Horizon Bank, according to Mayor Tom Dermody.  Horizon Bank awarded the city $20,000 to make improvements throughout the community.

 

“Horizon Bank has been an incredible community partner,” Dermody said. “We are looking to make some major improvements here in La Porte, and we can’t do it alone. It takes the support of local organizations to make changes happen, and we are so grateful to have the backing of Horizon Bank as we can continue our work to improve our city and underscore our new ‘Livin’ the Lake Life’ slogan,” he said. 

 

Dermody said the funds will be used for several projects, including updates to the city’s website, colorful pavement designs and beautification efforts on Clear Lake.  Among the specific uses of those dollars will be colorful new striping of the crosswalks in the downtown. 

Guilty Plea in Child Molesting Case

(Michigan City, IN) - A 90-year old Michigan City man has admitted to allegations of child molesting.  Russell Albano pleaded guilty Thursday in La Porte Superior Court 1.

 

According to authorities, Albano was accused of molesting more than one child over a several year period.  One alleged victim, now 25, came forward during the investigation of an eight year old girl’s claims of being molesting by Albano since she was in kindergarten

 

Albano could face anywhere from a six to 20 year sentence.  Sentencing is scheduled the 15th of next month.

COVID-19 Rate Stabilizing in La Porte County

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County continues to have one of the lowest rates in the state for COVID-19.  According to the Indiana State Department of Health, the number of people testing positive for the virus over the past seven days in La Porte County is currently at 2.9 percent.

 

As we reported three weeks ago (link here), the positive rate in La Porte County shown a decline below 4.9, percent, when at the time the rate had declined to 2.7 percent positive rate.  Other counties statewide are also seeing a decline in their positivity rates with Porter and St. Joseph counties now at rates slightly above 3.0 percent.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora says the rate here is exceptional considering there are two prisons in the county and the large groups from enclosed areas are prone for outbreaks.  He said a lot of effort has occurred here to try and keep the numbers down.  “How to protect the health and safety of the people in La Porte County.  That has been our  goal and that will continue to be our goal,” he said.

 

La Porte County Commission President, Sheila Matias, hailed the efforts of all sectors within the community for working as a team to effectively address the virus.

More Improvements to Downtown Storefronts

(La Porte, IN) - A downtown La Porte restaurant is getting a whole new look.  Work just recently began to the building that houses Louie’s Cafe.  The cost is being offset with a grant from the city’s Urban Enterprise Association.

 

Angela Rose, the city’s downtown coordinator, said the structure at Lincolnway at Madison St. is slated for more upgrades next year.  Rose indicated mprovements have been made to over 40 downtown buildings since the grant programs were started by the UEA over five years ago.

 

Grants paying 50-percent and 80-percent of the cost of façade improvements and other building upgrades are available to qualifying property owners in the downtown.  She said grants are paying for improvements to well over a half dozen structures in the downtown this year, including the building that once housed Hilbish Drug.

Volunteers Sought for Playground Maintenance

(La Porte, IN) - Volunteers are sought to maintain a popular playground in La Porte.  The help is needed at Fort La Play Porte.  The large playground at Kesling Park underwent a complete renovation and expansion last year.

 

Park Department Superintendent Mark Schreiber says a volunteer work day is scheduled for September 26 from 8 a.m. until noon.  Volunteers are needed for tasks such as spreading safety surface, cleaning playground equipment and other amenities and painting.

 

People interested in helping are asked to bring rakes, shovels and pitchforks to spread the safety surface.  Schreiber said other supplies will also be provided.

 

For more information and to volunteer contact the park department at 326 9600 or Schreiber at mschreiber@cityoflaportein.gov.

Local University Earns High Marks

(Westville & Hammond, IN) - Purdue University Northwest has received recognition by U.S News & World Report as one of the nation’s best regional campuses. 

 

Their engineering program was ranked 60th best in the nation for schools offering bachelors’ and masters’ degrees in the course of study.  Purdue University Northwest also ranked high in areas like social mobility among regional campuses and students receiving federal Pell Grants.

 

“Purdue Northwest is committed to helping our students with the greatest financial need achieve their academic goals. Many of our students are the first in their families to attend college, and they choose PNW for the range of resources and faculty support they find here,” PNW Chancellor Thomas L. Keon said.

 

Purdue University Northwest has campuses near Westville and in Hammond. 

Officials Alarmed by Condition of Highway Department Building

(La Porte, IN) - There’s talk about replacing a La Porte County Highway Department building that has seen better days.  A badly leaking roof allowing rain to pour in during a recent storm was among the issues with the building cited during last night’s La Porte County Commissioners meeting.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski, who brought up the matter, said he couldn’t believe the condition of the structure was so bad when he was called out to the building during a recent storm.  A tarp above the ceiling was doing little to keep out the water.  “There’s a river going through the middle of the building and then the bottom of the doors are rotted” he said.

 

Replacing the building with a new structure, either at the present site or a new location, is among the options being considered.  There’s also talk of relocating the office to an existing La Porte County Highway Department facility.

 

Mrozinski said having the highway department branch in Rolling Prairie is critical for quick response to heavy snow storms for plowing roads in the northeast portion of the county.

Utility Worker Impaled by Tree Limb

(La Porte, IN) - A worker clearing brush from a utility easement was impaled by a branch Wednesday outside La Porte.  The man was taken to a hospital by a Medic One helicopter about a quarter mile from a field where the late morning accident happened in the 3900 block of N. 100 West.

 

La Porte County Police Chief Deputy, Ron Heeg, said the stick about a foot long and one inch in diameter went through the man’s leg and into his mid-section.  Despite his injuries looking very serious, Heeg said the victim seemed alert and was talking.  “The gentleman at this time seems to be, I guess, doing as well as possible,” he said.

 

Heeg said the preliminary investigation shows the man was part of a crew from an independent contracting firm clearing brush from a utility easement.  The man was operating a brush cutting machine when somehow pierced by the branch.  “It’s just a very freak and unfortunate accident,” Heeg said.

 

The man was brought out of the field on an off road vehicle, also used to transport him to the helicopter, while kept stable on the machine by paramedics to prevent further injury.

 

Andrew McGuire, director of La Porte County Emergency Medical Service, said the man was too far away from the road in a somewhat wooded area to be reached by ambulance.  He said the behavior of the man could have seemed normal but internal bleeding and other complications can develop from such injuries.  “So, to err on the side of caution (we'll) get him to a trauma center and they can do their due diligence and make sure he’s stable,” McGuire said.

Trick or Treating Still On For Now

(La Porte, IN) - Trick or treating in the City of La Porte is still a "go" with Halloween just six weeks away.  Some cities across the nation like Los Angeles have already cancelled trick or treating and other Halloween related activities and events.

 

La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody said eyes are being kept on the number of COVID-19 cases presently, and in the future, but the goal remains to allow children to go out in the neighborhoods in pursuit of candy.  “Right now, I don’t plan on cancelling trick or treat.  We’ll monitor for a while. We still have some time,” he said.

 

Dermody says that due to the uncertainty created by the virus, he’s been asked several times about the status of trick or treating, a Halloween night tradition in La Porte.

Schools Superintendent Pleased by Minimal COVID-19 Cases

(La Porte, IN) - Another staff member in the La Porte Community School Corporation has tested positive for COVID-19.  La Porte Schools Superintendent Mark Francesconi said two staff members and a student have been reported as testing positive for the virus.

 

Francesconi said it appears each case was contracted away from school buildings and the people testing positive are quarantined as part of the requirements since in school learning began as an option at the beginning of the school year.  “They’re basically isolated cases here and there,” he said.

 

Francesconi said he’s encouraged the number of positive test results have been kept to a minimum  considering how the previous school year ended with strictly virtual learning and the concerns and confusion leading up to the current school year.  He said there’s been little if any problem with students and teachers not wearing masks and following all of the other safety precautions.

 

“We are pleased at this point.  We’re just hopeful these numbers and the pattern here continues,” he said.

Funding Protection for Police in Indiana Proposed

(Indianapolis, IN) - A local lawmaker is backing the blue.  Indiana State Senator, Mike Bohacek of Michiana Shores, said he plans to introduce legislation to prohibit defunding police and fire departments in the state. 

 

Bohacek, a Republican, said he drafted the legislation to make sure  efforts to defund police elsewhere don’t spread to Indiana given the important role police and fire departments play in public safety.

 

"The work of our police and fire departments is fundamental to the safety and well-being of Hoosiers. They risk their lives to ensure the safety of our communities every day," Bohacek said. "In light of the calls to defund police departments, I have heard from concerned citizens that public safety officers are vital to the security and stability of their communities. Therefore, this legislation serves as a measured approach that will ensure public safety departments continue to receive the support necessary to carry out their important mission," he said.

 

Bohacek said he plans to present the measure during the 2021 state legislative session which begins at the first of the year.

Michigan City Plans to Reopen School Buildings

(Michigan City, IN) - School buildings in Michigan City are slated to reopen next month.  Students in the district have attended school virtually since the school year began.  However, school officials say the COVID-19 numbers here are low enough to make plans for reopening school buildings October 19 under a metrics system provided by the state. 

 

Associate superintendent, Wendell McCollum, says decisions are based on the number of people testing positive in La Porte County over the past seven days.  McCollum says another factor in the decision are surveys showing the number of parents wanting the option of sending their children to school for in-person instruction has increased from 53-percent to 68-percent. 

 

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, the positivity rate in LaPorte County over the past seven days is 3.7 percent. which is below the 5.9 positivity rate desired for in-person instruction to be available five days a week.

 

 

Mosquito Transmitted Virus Advisory

(Indianapolis, IN) - State health officials are urging Indiana residents to protect themselves

from mosquito bites.  This is in response to a LaPorte County resident having a suspected case of a mosquito born virus.

 

The virus is the Eastern Equine Encephalitis which is fatal in some cases.  According to the Indiana State Department of Health, one person in the state died last year from it.  Two horses in LaGrange County were also diagnosed recently with the virus transmitted by mosquitoes.

 

Hoosiers are advised to protect themselves from mosquitoes when they are most likely to be active.

Farm Ground Rezoning Restricts Land Use

(New Carlisle, IN) - A valiant effort to save farmland ended with the ground being rezoned for expansion of an industrial park outside New Carlisle.  The St. Joseph County Council onS eptember 8 approved a request to rezone over 700 acres from agriculture to industrial use for expansion of the Indiana Enterprise Center between U.S 20 and Indiana 2.

 

The 7 to 2 vote came after several hours of debate between supporters and opponents of the rezoning.  St. Joseph County Economic Development Director, Bill Schalliol, said visits to the site by prospective developers are expected soon, indicating he wouldn’t be surprised if construction of some type begins next year given the level of interest in the property.  “We’re excited about moving to this next level,” he said.

 

The rezoning comes nearly three months after the Area Plan Commission of St. Joseph County ruled the proposed rezoning for the property was not compatible with the surrounding lane use.  Schalliol and other supporters argued the farmland is just a short distance from existing industries like the I/N Tek and I/N Kote steelmaking plants and Navistar Proving Grounds.

 

Restrictions were imposed on the rezoning to prevent uses like a landfill or scrap yard to go up on the property, leading to a middle ground solution with the opposition.  Schalliol said future land use restrictions could also be added.  The current owners of the property also have final say over future use of the land under right to purchase agreements negotiated with the county in June.  “We won’t bring prospects that we know won’t be acceptable to the property owners and the property owners have given us a pretty good understanding of what the range of uses and types of uses they would like to see on the land,” Schalliol said.  The owners of the property are Ken Sebasty along with Tim, Todd and Jill Kaminski.

 

The Indiana Enterprise Center consists of more than 7,200 acres of land.  Over 2,000 acres are developed already with businesses like I/N Tek and I/N Kote, Navistar Proving Grounds, Gavilon Grain, American Electric Power Company, Air Gas, Carris Reels, Edcoat, Five Star Sheet and Helena Chemical.  Schalliol said light industrial and some type of technology use is envisioned for the expanded area of the park.  He said warehousing and distribution are likely not options since the location isn’t close enough to the Indiana Toll Road to meet the needs of businesses relying heavily on timely deliveries and shipments.

 

The St. Joseph County Open Space and Agricultural Alliance, spearheading the opposition, expressed disappointment with the decision on Facebook.  Jen Betz, one of the members of the organization, in a Facebook post called for opponents to keep up the fight by doing things like contacting their elected officials and run for office in hopes of bringing a reversal of the rezoning.

Local Officials React to More Job Losses at Howmet

(La Porte, IN) - Another 150 jobs are being eliminated by a maker of high performance airplane engine components in La Porte, as a direct result of the COVID-19 related downturn in commercial aviation.  This announcement came yesterday following the layoff of 115 workers at Howmet Aerospace earlier this month. 

 

The additional job cuts were blamed on additional orders for parts being cancelled, which was not expected, according to company officials in a September 14 letter addressed to all employees at the plant at 1110 Lincolnway.

 

Bert Cook, executive director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, said he also was notified by the firm Monday about the lay-offs.  "It’s obviously disappointing news,” he said.  “Howmet has been a tremendous partner for many, many years and they will continue to be a big partner.  They still employ a ton of people here,” Cook said.

 

The latest workforce reduction, expected to occur over a four week period, will begin October 1st.  The previous lay-offs over five days ended September 2nd.  About 500 workers will still be employed at the facility on La Porte’s east side once this round of layoffs are complete.

 

Howmet Aerospace has 26 other locations in the U.S. and other countries like Mexico, Canada and France.  The company is also a maker of fasteners and titanium structures for aerospace application and forged aluminum wheels for heavy trucks.  Lower demand for parts because of commercial planes grounded by the virus resulted in lay-offs earlier this year at other Howmet Aerospace plants in places like Muskegon, Michigan and Wichita Falls, Texas.

 

Cook said he expects the company to rebound once air travel gets back to where it was prior to the pandemic and the city will be there to assist in any way possible.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody also said the city is willing to do whatever it can to assist the laid off workers.  “Our thoughts go out to those people.  Hopefully, it can be turned around where they can be called back sooner than later,” he said.

Charges in Alleged Police Pension Fraud

(Michigan City, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with alleged fraud involving the Michigan City Police Department pension fund.  62 year old Pamela Westphal is charged with theft.

 

According to police, pension was still being paid to a beneficiary, who died five-years ago.  Police say the payments continued because the death was not reported to the pension board.  The charges stem from a several month long investigation by Michigan City Police and the Indiana State Board of Accounts.

 

Westphal has been released from the La Porte County Jail on $15,000 bond.  So far, further details involving the case have not been disclosed.

Semi Blaze on Indiana Toll Road

(La Porte County, IN) - A semi-truck caught fire on the Indiana Toll Road in La Porte County over the weekend.  It happened early Sunday near the Johnson Road overpass.  There were a couple of explosions.  Fortunately, no injuries were reported.

 

The trailer was loaded with what appeared to be a variety of retail goods, said Jeff Hamilton, Director of La Porte County Haz-Mat.  The trailer and its contents were destroyed.  Hamilton said the non-hazardous contents included mattresses and bicycles.  The driver, after realizing the trailer was burning, pulled to the side of the highway and unhooked the trailer.  The driver then pulled forward so the cab of the truck wouldn’t catch fire.

 

Hamilton says it’s possible the fire started when the brakes on the truck somehow became hot and the explosions were a result of the tires on the tractor trailer rupturing from the heat.

Pedestrian Seriously Hurt by Fleeing Vehicle

(Michigan City, IN) - A woman on foot was seriously injured when hit by a motor vehicle in Michigan City over the weekend.  The Saturday night accident happened at E. Michigan Boulevard and Warnke Road.  Police say the still unknown driver fled the scene. 

 

Police say a 46 year old woman was walking across E. Michigan Boulevard when struck by a dark colored SUV.  The woman taken by a medical helicopter was last reported in serious condition.

 

Police say it’s believed the SUV fled with damage to the front passenger side of the vehicle.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police.

Howmet Aerospace Cutting 150 More Jobs in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Today was another rough day at Howmet Aerospace in La Porte, as management notified employees of their intentions to permanently layoff an additional 150 workers by November 9th at their La Porte facilities.  This announcement comes following a layoff between August 29th and September 2nd that permanently claimed 115 jobs locally (HTNN Article Here).  Both layoffs together will impact 265 jobs at their La Porte Operations.

 

According to the reports coming into Hometown News Now, each department was pulled into an employee meeting as they arrived or departed from their shift.  Employee were handed a "WARN Act Notification" letter dated September 14, 2020.  In the letter signed by Andy Sickinger, General Manager of Howmet Aerospace La Porte Operations, he writes, "Unfortunately, due to unexpected additional order cancellations, the Company has determined that an additional 150 employees will be permanently laid off in two phases".

 

According to the notification letter, the first phase will begin on October 1st  as they layoff 85 employees by October 5th.  Phase Two of layoffs will occur between November 4th and November 9th and is expected to impact 65 additional employees in La Porte.

 

Hometown News Now is following this story and will update as additional information becomes available. 

Strong Showing by Defending Champs

(New Buffalo, MI) - It’s early but the New Buffalo High School girls’ volleyball team is definitely on track to repeat as District 4 champions after a very impressive season opener.  The Bison won all three games during a four-team tournament at home on Saturday.

 

New Buffalo, without one of their best players, defeated Cassopolis, White Pigeon and Brandywine which are high quality teams from larger schools.  “To be able to do what we did against them, while missing one of our big hitters, says a lot for the program and for the girls, too,” said Head Coach Kevin Labaj.

 

He said sophomore, Ava Mullen, could not make the tournament because of a softball competition in Chicago.  The rest of his players, like senior Sophia DeOliveira and sophomore Kelsey Corkran, helped pick up the slack caused by the absence.  DeOliveria scored 38 digs, 6 aces and 26 kills.  Corkran notched 8 aces and 49 assists while senior Emma Lantz contributed 5 aces and 13 kills.

 

Labaj said the girls had just three days of practice on the hardwood surface to prepare for the tournament after practicing on a sand court in Grand Beach during the pre-season because of the gymnasium being closed by previous COVID-19 restrictions.  "The girls came out firing.  They looked really good,” he said.

 

The Bison defeated Michigan Lutheran for the District 4 championship last season before losing to Mendon in the opener of the regional tournament.  “I definitely feel like we’re capable of repeating this year and hopefully give Mendon a run for their money if they’re back,” Labaj said.

Bright Outlook for Corn Prices

(West Lafayette, IN) - Increasing corn prices, driven partially by higher exports particularly from China, is forecast by USDA in the coming months.  The projection was viewed as a welcome surprise to Jim Mintert and Michael Langemeier, agricultural economists at Purdue University who hosted at a webinar at the West Lafayette campus about the outlook for crop prices.

 

“This is good news compared to where we were a month ago,” Langemeier said.  Corn prices were down to $3.10 per bushel a month ago.  USDA is forecasting the per bushel price of corn to hit $3.50 based on fall yield estimates being lower than originally forecast and projected exports for the 2020 crop at 32-percent above predictions a month ago.

 

Another factor is USDA projecting the amount of U.S. corn used for ethanol production in fuel increasing to 5.1 billion bushels this year from 4.6 billion bushels last year.  Mintert, though, said there is reason to doubt if corn production for ethanol will attain USDA projections.  He said demand for corn for manufacturing ethanol dropped 50-percent after COVID-19 struck from people due to stay at home orders not driving as much.  Ethanol demand has since made a strong recovery as COVID-19 restrictions were loosened, but for the past few months has remained at 15-percent below from a year ago. 

 

Also good news for prices is projected corn production being 2-percent less than what USDA predicted earlier because of adverse weather conditions like drought late in the summer.  Lower than expected production could help make a noticeable drop in year ending stocks for corn which some experts predicted early on at 21-percent.  “Reduction in production and increased usage is a move in the right direction,” Mintert said.

 

Mintert said it’s possible for corn to reach $3.60 per bushel if exports, yields, and usage for ethanol rise above current projections.  “I don’t think that’s likely but it’s possible,” he said.

 

Soybean prices also appeared to be on an upward trend with future prices up roughly 18-percent because of similar factors like higher exports from China and yields forecast by USDA being slightly lower than originally projected.  USDA estimates show heavy losses in corn and soybean production in Iowa but only modest losses in states like Indiana and Ohio.

 

Kentucky and Minnesota are among the areas where record corn and soybean production is expected to set records.  Mintert said there are indications demand from China is driven mostly by the country attempting to rebuild its pork industry decimated by African swine fever since 2018.  He said ending stocks for soybeans could dip to 10-percent, which would be a noticeable drop from the 23-percent and 15-percent carry over the past two-years.  “That could tighten more if the yields are not as good as USDA expects,” he said.

           

Two Arrested on Gun Charges

(LaPorte County, IN) - On September 12, 2020, at approximately 8:30 PM, Deputy Wade Wallace was traveling east on US 30 approaching US 421. 

 

He observed a passenger vehicle traveling ahead of him merge from the passing lane to the driving lane. 

 

Upon completing the lane change, the vehicle committed a traffic infraction. 

 

While traveling in the 9000 west block of US 30, Deputy Wallace paced the vehicle and noted that it was exceeding the posted speed limit. 

 

A traffic stop was initiated by Deputy Wallace. 

 

The vehicle stopped on US 30 just west of CR 700 West. 

 

The driver was identified as Valentino D. SHAW (43 YOA) of Bellwood, Illinois. 

 

The passenger was identified as Delkeyia S. WILLIAMS (25 YOA) of Chicago, Illinois. 

 

As the traffic stop progressed, a .45 caliber semi-automatic handgun was found inside the vehicle. 

 

Upon further investigation, the handgun was found to have been reported stolen to the Fort Wayne Police Department in 2018. 

 

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

 

  • Serious Violent Felon in Possession of a Firearm, Level 4 Felony
  • Theft of a Firearm, Level 6 Felony

 

WILLIAMS was arrested and transported to the LCJ.  She was booked into the LCJ for the following charges:

 

  • Theft of a Firearm, Level 6 Felony
  • Carrying a handgun without a License, Class A-Misdemeanor
  • Possession of Marijuana, B-Misdemeanor

 

SHAW remains housed in the LCJ and is being held on a $20,005.00 cash-only bond through La Porte County Circuit Court. 

 

WILLIAMS was released from the LCJ on September 13th after a $755.00 cash bond was posted.    

 

Assisting:  Deputy Jon Samuelson and Westville Police Department

Restricted Pubilc Access at City Hall Extended

(Michigan City, IN) - COVID-19 restrictions at City Hall in Michigan City have been extended.  Citizens needing to do business face to face can do so my appointment only for the forseeable future.

 

Mayor Duane Parry, who extended the restrictions through an executive order Thursday, said the number of cases locally and statewide are still at a point where restricted public access to City Hall and other city owned buildings is still needed as a health precaution.

 

He says those not requiring face to face interaction can continue doing business with the city on the phone and electronically.  

Proposed Early Voting Site Struck Down

(La Porte County, IN) - A candidate for La Porte County Clerk is upset a proposed early voting site for the southern part of the county was turned down.

 

All but one member of the La Porte County Election Board voted in favor of the request on Friday.  The only dissenting vote was cast by incumbent La Porte County Clerk Kathy Chroback.  The measure died because a unanimous vote from the election board was required for it to pass.

 

Heather Stevens, of Hanna, says she’s confused why "the right thing to do" wasn’t done.   Stevens, a Republican, is running against Chroback, a Democrat, who's seeking a second term.  Stevens believes an early voting site is needed to eliminate the long drive for residents of southern La Porte County to vote early at the courthouses in La Porte and Michigan City. 

 

 

Week of September 6th in Review - La Porte County

(La Porte, IN) - It was a busy week in La Porte County and HometownNewsNow.com brought the News to you as it happened.  These were the Top Local News stories of the week on HometownNewsNow.com during the period of September 6th through September 12th:

 

#7:  Roof Sit Sets Record

 

#6:  Eddie Montgomery Rocks Pine Lake

 

#5:  Housing Boom in La Porte

 

#4:  Demonstration Supporting Law Enforcement Also Planned Saturday

 

#3:  Crackdown on Unruly Tenants Proposed

 

#2:  Need for Speed Enthusiasts Sent Home

 

#1:  Improvements Begin at Maple Lane Mall

 

Powered by the News Department at radio stations 96.7 The Eagle and Rock 106.5, HometownNewsNow.com is the new #1 Source of News and Information in La Porte County.  Please bookmark and LIKE us on Facebook and we'll keep you up to date with the latest News and Information in La Porte County.

Dueling Demonstrators Face Off in Downtown La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Dueling protests in downtown La Porte Saturday went peacefully, but not exactly as planned.  Back the Blue pro-police demonstrators gathered on multiple street corners near the courthouse Saturday morning, waving American flags and Trump banners. 

 

Organizer Spencer England said they were forced to the other side of the street by counter-protestors who showed up early. "We did have the BLM guys show up two or three hours early, coming up and jamming music in your face," England said. "It seems like they were really trying to push the issue. They have the right to be here, but it just shows disrespect.  And a lot of people don't respect their movement because they're disrespectful to other people. We scheduled our time around theirs so as not to overlap each other."

 

Taylor Patz, who led the group speaking out against racism, said they arrived earlier than planned because of the possibility of bad weather.  Their message, that racism is very real even in a small town like La Porte, he said needs to be heard loud and clear.  "A lot of people said there's no police brutality here in La Porte, there's no racism here in La Porte. As the guy was saying that to me," Patz claimed, "someone drove by with their middle finger up and called me, a Caucasian, the N-word.  So that kind of proves the point that racism is still in cities like La Porte."

 

Patz, who grew up in Michigan City, but just moved to La Porte last year, said he and his fellow protestors are just concerned citizens and not affiliated with any organization.  The anti-racism group was notably smaller, numbering about ten, but loud nonetheless.  The pro-police crowd disbanded at noon, as originally planned.

 

Roof Sit Sets Record

(La Porte, IN) - The Roof Sit that almost didn’t happen became, in a way, the most successful ever.

96.7 The Eagle’s 18th annual charity Roof Sit was almost cancelled for lack of manpower.  Due to COVID-19, the usual three-day fundraiser was pared down to just Friday. 

 

Organizer and radio host Dennis Siddall spent fourteen hours on the roof of the radio station imploring listeners to donate towards the Deserving Children's Shopping Tour. The charity ensures that La Porte County Children are provided for at Christmas.

 

Despite the limitations, community spirit persevered. "It was a successful day."  Siddall said. "Right now we sit at a little over $36,000 that we raised in one day."  In recent years, Fridays have been the biggest day of the event, averaging about $17,000 in donations.  This year, they more than doubled it.  With money still rolling in, Siddall said they may actually come close to their normal three-day total of $40,000.

 

Siddall credits a generous local La Porte community. "It's a caring community," Siddall said. "The way the world is today, with so much hatred, and so much blame this and blame that, every year this community comes together as one, because we do it for the kids, and I can't say thank you enough to them."

 
At least 500 local kids will have a Merry Christmas thanks to the community’s generosity.

Eddie Montgomery Rocks Pine Lake

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte was loving the lake life Friday night with some live country music on the shores of Pine Lake.  The free concert was sponsored by a variety of local businesses and organized by Bethany Lutheran Church.

 

Carey Garwood, of Bethany Church, said the concert was a recent development. "Literally this all came together September 1," she said. "We didn't have much time to plan and get the artists.  We're really thankful that some of these guys came up to play; a lot of artists aren't touring."

 

One of the opening acts was up-and-coming singer Dillon Carmichael, who has really taken a liking to La Porte. He even postponed another gig so he could be in La Porte for this event, honoring 9/11 and first responders. "Live music is such a therapy for people, including myself," Carmichael said. "Still, after all this, we came back, and we're still the greatest country in the world. We're just going to sing some songs and have a good time, and remember the lives of those that were lost that day."

 

Live concerts were mostly scuttled this summer due to COVID-19.  Carey Garwood said the lake setting was the only way to make this one happen.  "The lake is perfect because you can still open it up to all the people on the lake, over onto the other side of the lake," she said. "It's a different kind of concert experience, but it's been great out here.  I think people are having a good time."

 

The stage was set up on lakefront property owned by Greg Ake.  A hundred boats or more, including some jet skis and kayaks, drifted along the shore.  Matt Schutz of La Porte was one of the boaters enjoying the concert from the water.  "It's really nice; it's a perfect night," he said. "You can hear [the performers] real well, crystal clear.  It's really cool we can do this in our town."

 

Carmichael, Lucas John, and Frank Ray opened for headliner Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry fame.  Montgomery and his band rocked the stage for over an hour, singing hits "Where I Come From" and "She Couldn't Change Me."  The show was simulcast on 96.7 the Eagle.  Fireworks followed the music.

Election Initiative Voted Down

(La Porte County)  - An effort to expand early voting in South County was shot down on Friday. 

The Election Board fell short of a unanimous vote to establish an early voting site in southern La Porte County.

 

Proponents say an early voting site would reduce the number of absentee ballots and reduce lines on Election Day.  Some rural voters live as far as forty-five minutes away from La Porte or Michigan City.  In this year's primary election, zero residents from the towns of Wanatah or LaCrosse participated in early voting.

 

The South County Community Coalition promoted the idea of putting a voting site in the southern part of La Porte County, backed by 54 elected local officials.  According to a statement by the Coalition, Democrat Election Board member Nelson Pichardo and Republican Chuck Watterson voted in favor of the initiative, but County Clerk Kathy Chroback voted in opposition.

9/11 Attacks Remembered Locally

(LaPorte County, IN) - La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd said he worried about the future of his 7 month old daughter after seeing commercial airplanes strike the World Trade Center in New York City exactly 19-years ago today.

 

“I remember thinking to myself what kind of a world are we bringing our daughter into and what does the future hold for us. It was a very, very scary time,” said Boyd.  Boyd was a shift supervisor for the sheriff’s office and testifying in court about a criminal case when he first learned about the attacks on September 11, 2001.

 

La Porte County Commissioner, Rich Mrozinski, said he thought he was dreaming when contacted at work by his wife about the terrorist attacks.  The attacks included a plane striking The Pentagon at Washington D.C. and a hijacked plane crashing in a field.  “I couldn’t fathom what was going on,” he said.

 

Mrozinski also said particularly upsetting is the violence happening across the nation from extremists whose actions he believes are a slap in the face to the emergency responders answering calls for service that day.  “I cannot wrap my head around what people are thinking.  These people that do this kind of thing, they need to get their heads screwed on right.  They don’t understand the dedication that it takes for someone to be a policeman or a fireman especially when you look at those guys that ran into the buildings that were going down,” Mrozinski said.

Need Fuels La Porte Housing Boom

(La Porte, IN) -  A new housing boom is underway in La Porte as officials work aggressively toward increasing the city’s long stagnant population. 

 

The city’s Urban Enterprise Association has approved a 10-year property tax abatement for about 60 at or above market priced homes along with space for about 20 professional offices.  Over a dozen of the residential units will be in town houses to start being constructed beside Fish Trap Lake in the fall.

 

Another 50 or so housing units in duplexes along with professional office space are planned across the street at McClung Road and East Shore Parkway.  This is in addition to the 200 resort type apartments that just started getting built near Clear Lake.

 

“We’re really excited about it,” said Bert Cook, executive director of the LaPorte Economic Advancement Partnership.  He says a lack of desirable housing often causes those hired to work jobs in the area to commute from another community where they live.

 

Cook acknoledges the local market is saturated by older homes that were not designed for what many consumers entering the housing market desire today.  This has long been a major barrier to economic development.  “They’re finding better options in Chesterton, Valparaiso or Mishawaka and some of the other places so this is our reaction to that,” Cook said.  He expects to secure deals for more new housing, including some at moderate prices, in the coming months.

 

One of the goals of Mayor Tom Dermody after taking office in January was increasing the population here from 22,000 to 30,000 by 2030.  “Things are happening,” he said.

 

Another plot within the city targeted for new housing is the old Tibma Bakery site now being cleared on Woodward St.  Cook said there are about eight lots on that parcel covering about half a city block. 

 

“By the time this strategy plays itself out we’re going to have changes throughout the market,” Cook said.  Annexation is part of the game plan for population growth because there isn’t a lot of available ground within the city limits for new development.  He said the city will reach out to people about the prospects of joining the city since Indiana law no longer allows municipalities to annex without permission from property owners.

 

Cook believes a one-third increase in the population in La Porte is obtainable given the work being done now and demand.  “I think it’s absolutely a possibility. Not just a possibility but a probability,” he said.

Demonstration Supporting Law Enforcement Also Planned Saturday

(LaPorte, IN) - In addition to the "Racial Equality and Police Reform Demonstration" scheduled for Saturday, September 12th, in downtown La Porte, a second rally has now been scheduled in "Support of Police".

 

Spencer England, who organized the event, said a vast majority of police officers are good people and should be supported by the people they’re sworn to serve and protect at a time when law enforcement is being undermined by “left wing extremists.”  “A lot of them come from liberal ideologies,” said England of La Porte.

 

The "Support Law Enforcement Demonstration" rally on Saturday is scheduled to run from 8 a.m. until noon.

A 2nd rally known as the "Racial Equality and Police Reform Demonstration" is then scheduled to start at noon and last until 3 p.m. 

Police are keeping each rally separate to help make sure the protests remain peaceful.

 

La Porte Police Chief Paul Brettin said his hope is both events go as peacefully as the demonstrations from the opposing sides did in June.  Police officers from the city of La Porte and the sheriff’s office are expected to maintain a presence as a precaution.

Racial Equality Police Reform Demonstration Planned in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - A demonstration supporting racial equality and police reform is scheduled  in downtown La Porte tomorrow.  The organizer of the event, Taylor Patz, said demonstrators at some point will march across the U.S 35 overpass like Black Lives Matter supporters did three months ago.

 

A few weeks ago, Patz says he held up a Black Lives Matter sign by himself outside the La Porte courthouse and was the target of racism he wishes no longer existed.  “People were flipping me off. People were dropping the “N word” at me saying what about white people. I’m white.  I care about white people, of course, but I care about black people and I’m tired of seeing my brothers and sister mistreated,” the La Porte man said.

 

The demonstration Saturday will start outside the courthouse at noon and is scheduled to run until 3 p.m.

Serious Injury Charges in Vehicle Mishap

(Michigan City, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with a man being hurt badly from falling out of a moving vehicle at Blue Chip Casino.

 

Joshua Brazeal, 32, of Shorewood, Illinois is charged with operating while intoxicated causing serious bodily injury.  He could face anywhere from a one to six year sentence on the level 5 felony charge.

 

Michigan City Police said Brazeal was the driver of a 2004 Chevy Avalanche being driven around the parking garage Tuesday when a 28-year old passenger also from Shorewood, Illinois fell out of the vehicle.  The victim not identified by police was found unconscious and taken by helicopter to a South Bend hospital.

 

Police said Brazeal had a blood alcohol level four times the legal limit.

Suspect in Chase No Stranger to Police

(La Porte, IN) - Crime seems to be a way of life for a man captured in a police chase in La Porte this week.  Police say the investigation shows 29 year old Daniel Hostetler, Jr. allegedly committed a drug deal for $150 prior to the Wednesday afternoon chase.

 

Police said a couple of bags of methamphetamine along with smoking pipes were recovered from the vehicle that crashed into a tree on Ohio St. during the pursuit.  They say Hostetler was wanted for a probation violation on a previous drug dealing conviction.

 

Last year, authorities say a La Porte Police officer, chasing him on foot, broke his leg

while taking Hostetler to the ground.  The foot pursuit in November was triggered by police responding to an attempted shoplifting.

Traffic Stop Yields Bags of Cocaine

(Rolling Prairie, IN) – LaPorte County Police have made another major drug bust on the Indiana Toll Road.

 

According to the sheriff’s office, a vehicle was stopped Wednesday at the 52 mile marker for speeding and other traffic violations.

 

A K9 dog helped discover several packages of suspected cocaine from the vehicle, police said.

 

Police said a large amount of cash was also seized.

 

Andre McCoy, 61, of Cleveland, Ohio is charged with Dealing Cocaine and was being held in the LaPorte County Jail on $50,000 bond.

Pine Lake Boat Concert Live on 96.7 The Eagle

(La Porte, IN) - A concert by a major country music performer in La Porte on Friday will be broadcast live on 96.7 The Eagle.  The "9/11 Tribute To Heroes" Boat In concert begins at 5:00pm tomorrow evening and will be  restricted to boaters who can anchor down and watch at no cost, to those able to watch from the shores of Pine Lake, and up to 250 people who are permitted to be at the event site.  

 

Montgomery and two opening acts will perform on a stage at the water’s edge off Island Drive.  96.7 The Eagle will take a feed from the concert and brodcast the Eddie Montgomery concert beginning at 7 p.m.

 

The LaPorte Slicers high school football game which was scheduled to be on 96.7 The Eagle at that time, will instead be heard isister station, the new Rock 106.5, beginning at 6:45 p.m. with the pregame show hosted by Chip Jones and Steve Manering.  96.7 The Eagle will join the Slicers game in progress following the concert around 8:00 p.m.

 

Fireworks over Pine Lake will follow the concert.  The event, made possible by Bethany Lutheran Church and a handful of sponsors, is being put on to remember the September 11 terrorist attacks on U.S soil in 2001.

Proposal Strengthens Protections for Gender Identity

(La Porte, IN) - Protections against discrimination because of gender identity are strengthened in a revamped Human Rights ordinance proposed in La Porte.  City employees would also be required to take part in diversity training.

           

The measure comes after City Councilman Roger Galloway told a member of the LGBTQ community during a public meeting on July 6 “you know that’s against The Bible.”  “Anybody ever read The Bible,” he said.  Galloway after considerable backlash from Mayor Tom Dermody and other members of the city council later apologized for his remarks.

 

Councilman Tim Franke said the proposed changes to the ordinance were not in response to Galloway’s comments.  He said there was talk of adding teeth after meeting with the LGBTQ community to address their concerns about loopholes in the ordinance earlier this year.  “It was something that prior to that meeting was on the radar and being looked at,” Franke said.

 

The revamped ordinance first presented to the city council on Tuesday is scheduled for a vote on September 21.  Franke said gender identity is mentioned as protected against discrimination in the existing ordinance but it’s more clearly defined by new language offered for the measure.

 

Requiring city employees to undergo diversity training every two-years and once hired would be added.  Franke said a five member committee would also be created to promote "inclusiveness and diversity within the city.”  Three of the members would be appointed by the mayor.  The rest would be named by the city council.

 

As in the past, Franke said any complaint would have to be taken to a judge outside the jurisdiction of the city or the Indiana Human Rights Commission to be decided.  “The city of LaPorte just doesn’t have the resources to do that,” he said.

Improvements Begin at Maple Lane Mall

(La Porte, IN) – Work has started on the comeback of Maple Lane Mall in La Porte.  Mayor Tom Dermody said underground utilities at the mostly vacant mall are being improved right now.  He said improving the badly deteriated parking lot will happen next.

 

Rural King, which purchased the property in 2017, announced a few months ago it will open a store in the old Kmart section of the mall in the spring and renovate the building for leasing to other businesses.  The new businesses planned for the over 200,000 square foot mall are not known.

 

Rural King is a farm and home store chain with more than 100 stores east of the Mississippi River.

There was little movement on the property until local officials, eager for new life at what became an eyesore in recent years, intensified its talks with the retail giant.

 

Rural King is investing  close to $2 million on renovating the inside and outside of the structure, officials said.  About half of those dollars are going for upgrading the parking lot.

Housing Boom in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) – Another new housing development has been announced for the city of La Porte. 

 

Bert Cook, executive director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, said 60 or more housing units at or above market value are getting built at McClung Road and East Shore Parkway, close to Fishtrap Lake.  About a dozen of the units will be inside town homes while the remainder will be in duplexes.  Several professional offices are also part of the multi-million dollar development.

 

The city’s Urban Enterprise Association provided tax breaks over 10-years as an incentive for the development.  The new housing is in addition to the 200 resort type apartments being built at New Porte Landing, near Clear Lake.

 

Cook said a need for more desirable housing in La Porte is attracting housing developers to the community which has a goal of increasing the population here from 22,000 to 30,000 by 2030.

Food Pantries Added to Local Relief Efforts

(LaPorte, IN) - The Rotary Club of La Porte is adding four new food pantries to help assure that those in need have access to food supplies. 

 

Rotarian Becky Pressel, who chaired the project, indicated the new pantries would be located at the La Porte County Public Library, 904 Indiana Avenue in La Porte, at St. John’s Lutheran Church, 111 Kingsbury Avenue, La Porte; Sacred Heart Church, 130 Bach Street in La Porte and at the Kingsford Heights Library at 436 Evanston Road.   

 

Pressel expressed appreciation to Centier Bank, Von Tobel Lumber, Pressel Enterprises and MGM Class for their suppport of the project.

 

"Our club is dedicated to helping enhance the quality of life in our community and we're especially concerned that becuase of the COVID-19 pandemic that we still have individuals and families that are going hungry because they don't have access to food supplies.  We wanted to be part of the community-wide effort to help see that doesn't happen and we hope that people will help keep the pantries stocked," she said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Farm Land Rezoned for Industrial Use

(South Bend, IN) - In St. Joseph County, more than 700 acres of farmland is now reserved for industrial use.  Tuesesday night, the St. Joseph County Council voted to rezone the property east of New Carlisle.

 

The plan for the Indiana Enterprise Center proposed to expand upon existing industry in the area creating an industrial “mega-park” for the area.  The final 7 to 2 vote approving the plan came during a seven hour of fierce conversation from individuals expressing the pros and cons about the proposal. 

 

Ultimately, the rezoning was approved with the understanding that the land will not permit "heavy" industrial use, including uses like mining, a junkyard, or landfill. 

 

 

Pursuit Ends in Crash

(La Porte, IN) - There was a police chase in La Porte yesterday afternoon.  The suspect was captured after crashing into a tree. 

 

Police Chief Paul Brettin says the pursuit, lasting just a few minutes, ended on Ohio Street near Boyd Boulevard on the city’s east side.

 

The chase started when an officer recognized the driver as being wanted on felony warrants and attempted to pull him over in the downtown area. 

 

The suspect was 29 year old Timothy Hostetler.

 

Police say the LaPorte allegedly had a small amount of meth on his possession along with two smoking pipes.

 

The chase reaching up to 70 miles per hour on Monroe St. began in the area of Clay St. and Jefferson Ave.

 

Police say the investigation shows Hostetler just completed a drug dealer prior to the start of the pursuit.

Career Criminal Sentenced to Federal Prison

(South Bend, IN) - Daniel Boush, 29, of Michigan City, Indiana, was sentenced by United States District Court Judge Jon E. DeGuilio upon his plea of guilty for being a felon in possession of firearms, announced U.S. Attorney Kirsch.

 

Boush was sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by 2 years of supervised release.

 

United States Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch II said, “This fifteen year sentence sends a strong message that my Office will pursue and prosecute armed career criminals to the fullest extent of the law. My Office has no tolerance for convicted felons possessing firearms, particularly when these individuals also have a history of domestic violence.”

 

According to documents in this case, in August of 2019, Boush was arrested for the possession of two .380 caliber firearms.  This was following a domestic incident where he physically attacked a female and then chased after her in a car.  Boush qualifies as an Armed Career Criminal based on his prior convictions, including strangulation of a different female as well as dealing controlled substances.

 

“ATF, in partnership with local and state law enforcement, will continue to pursue dangerous criminals to ensure they do not illegally possess firearms,” said Special Agent in Charge Kristen de Tineo of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for the Chicago Field Division.  “Coordination of these investigations, in combination with the prosecutorial strategies at the U.S. Attorney’s office, will deter felons and make communities safer.”

 

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with the assistance of the Michigan City Police Department, the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Department, and the LaPorte County Drug Task Force.  The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Molly E. Donnelly.

 

Broadcasting Fund Raiser for Children at Christmas Fast Approaching

(La Porte, IN) - The 18th Annual 96.7 The Eagle Roof Sit, to raise money to take deserving children in the La Porte area Christmas shopping, will occur this Friday, September 11th.  Morning show personality, Dennis Siddall will be on the roof of the 96.7 The Eagle radio studios, broadcasting live from 5 a.m. to 7 p.m. to raise money for the cause.

 

Siddall will be encouraging listeners to drive by the studio and donate to the cause.  Normally, Dennis broadcasts from the roof for three days during the fund raiser, but the risk of COVID-19 made it challenging to find enough volunteers to collect money and help in other ways for this years Roof Sit.  As a result, the event has been downsized to just one day.

 

“Finding enough volunteers to cover for three days during the regular roof sit is pretty tough.  This year was tougher yet,” he said.

 

Lunch will be served during the broadcasting marathon.  Other things happening during the broadcast will include homemade pies offered by volunteers at Pioneer Land.  All proceeds from sales benefit the Deserving Childrens Roof Sit.

 

In 2019, the 96.7 The Eagle Roof Sit raised around $40,000 over the 3 day fund raising period.  This year they're hoping the public will turn out and donate like usual, but Siddall admits it may be tough to beat last years number give the reduced air time the event will receive this year.  

 

All proceeds from the Broadcast Fundraiser go to the La Porte Jaycees which has hosted the Deserving Children’s Christmas Shopping Tour for decades.  This will be the 18th year that the 96.7 The Eagle has been the fundraising partner for the event.

 

The event will happen between 5:00am and 7:00pm on Friday, September 11th.  The 96.7 The Eagle studios are located at 1700 Linconlway on the west side of La Porte.  Donations will be accepted at the back side of the building, at the corner of State and Oregon Streets.

Need for Speed Enthusiasts Sent Home

(Michigan City, IN) – It appears a Michigan City area gas station had all of the makings of a race track but police put the brakes to the drivers showing up.  According to La Porte County Police, officers Friday night were called to Gallops Marathon on U.S 20 near County Line Road.

 

Police said there were 100 street legal racing type vehicles there along with 150 to 200 people.  The investigation shows the drivers responded to a social media post about what they interpreted as an invitation to do some racing in the area.

 

Police said the owner of the gas station wanted the people to leave because they were blocking the gas pumps and causing traffic problems for customers.  Everyone left at the request of La Porte County Police, who were assisted by deputies from the Porter County Sheriff’s Office in dispersing the crowd.

 

Police said some of the people came from as far as Michigan and Illinois with racing type vehicles bought in on trailers.

Crackdown on Unruly Tenants Proposed

(La Porte, IN) - The city of La Porte is looking to crack down on rental home tenants engaged in constant criminal behavior.  An ordinance introduced at Tuesday night’s La Porte City Council meeting would condemn rental properties whose tenants draw a response from police on a regular basis.

 

La Porte Code Enforcement Director Jeff Batchelor said there’s just a low percentage of problem tenants but the amount of emergency calls generated by their behavior is placing a strain on the short staffed police department.

 

Under the proposed ordinance, police would have to respond three times in 60 days for a rental unit to become classified as a nuisance property.  Five more calls in six months after the nuisance property designation would result in the tenants being forced to leave from the property being condemned.  Mayor Tom Dermody said the condemnation would be lifted when the landford replaces them with new tenants.

 

The city council is expected to vote on the measure at its next meeting scheduled for September 21.

Federal Authorities Help with Local Cash Seizure

(La Porte County, IN) - A large amount of cash was seized during a recent arrest by La Porte County Police. 30 year old Johnnie Evans is charged with level 4 felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.

 

Police say he was in a vehicle stopped over the weekend for speeding and other traffic violations on the Indiana Toll Road at the 52 mile marker.  After spotting a gun in the vehicle, police say a large amount of cash in various denominations was seized with help from a drug sniffing dog.

The Ohio man was being held on $20,000 bond.

 

Police did not reveal if any drugs were found, but the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency was contacted and seized the cash. 

Gun Violence Crackdown Ongoing

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police have made more arrests at they attempt to curb an upsurge in gun violence.  22 year old Justin Hervey of Michigan City and a 17-year old boy were taken into custody for gun related offenses. 

 

Police say they were in a vehicle stopped Sunday night for several traffic violations including speeding, resulting in two semi-automatic handguns being seized from the vehicle along with drug related items.  The traffic stop was made at Maple Ave. and Greenwood Ave. 

 

Police say these arrests reflect a zero tolerance for illegal possession of firearms and commitment to address gun violence plaguing the city.

Fire Damaged Marina Office Partially Reopens

(New Buffalo, MI) - The transient marina office building operated by the city of New Buffalo has partially reopened following an August 28 fire.

 

City Manager Dave Richards said the office on the east side of the structure was back in service for issuing permits to rent slips to visitors in the transient marina prior to the busy Labor Day weekend.

 

Richards said that portion of the building did not sustain any fire damage but there were electrical issues repaired that allowed the lights in the office to come back on.

 

The restrooms, showers and laundry room in the structure are still out of service.

 

Portable restrooms with shower facilities were placed on the west side of the building just prior to the start of the weekend to serve boaters renting slips in the transient marina.

     

Richards said the portable facilities with running water and electricity were provided by Joy’s Johns for $2,200 a week until October 15 when the marina office building traditionally closes for the season depending on the weather.

 

The cost of the portable facilities is being paid for by the city’s insurance provider, he said.

 

“They have regular stalls and they’re modern and they’re clean and they have showers as well.  It’s a real nice facility,” Richards said.

 

No portable laundry facilities are being provided.

 

Richards said the fire damage above the ceiling in one of the restrooms was limited to the insulation and some of the joists in wooden structure along with parts of the electrical system.

 

He did not know when the entire building will reopen since the damage and how to go about the repairs were still being assessed.

 

“We’ll get some quotes and decide how to proceed with repairs,” he said.

 

The cause of the fire was blamed on an overheated fan in the ventilation system for the restrooms.

Storms Produce Minimal Power Outages

(LaPorte, IN) - A lot of rain and lightning that moved into the region early this morning produced just a limited number of power outages.  Just over sixth-tenths of an inch of rain came down from midnight to 6 a.m., according to measurements of precipitation recorded daily by the city’s water department.

 

According to NIPSCO, there were 47 customers locally without power as of 8 a.m.  More than 40 of those outages were in the 18th street area on LaPorte's south side, according to NIPSCO.

La Porte Using Lakes to Give Image a Makeover

(LaPorte, IN) - “Livin’ the Lake Life” is not just a new slogan but a completely

different attitude to help the city of LaPorte expand its tax base.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said the change in identity for the city is designed to capitalize on natural resources many other communities wish they had for attracting more visitors and new residents.

 

The slogan along with a logo and “Livin’ the Lake Life” website containing information about boating, hiking and other recreational offerings will be officially unveiled sometime in October.

 

The slogan was placed on the front of old Don George Ford building on Pine Lake Ave. before Labor Day weekend to catch the attention of travelers going to and from downtown.

 

“It was a little teaser of our branding and what we’re going to become as a community and where we’re focused,” Dermody said.

 

Dermody said the goal of his administration since taking over in January has been increasing the population here to 30,000 by 2030.

 

“We’ve been at 22,000 people for too long.  We need to encourage development and what better way than to promote our natural resources and the things that make us special,” he said.

 

The new Chessie Trail starting at Pine Lake along with a trail and scenic overlooks beside Stone Lake to be completed in October are examples of what’s been occurring here to enhance the natural resources and parks.

 

Construction just recently started on 200 resort type apartments next to Clear Lake where a trail system and boardwalk are going up.  

 

Kayak rental at an undecided location in the city are among the other things in the game plan.

 

Dermody said emphasis on lifestyle from having a half dozen lakes can influence natives once graduating from college to return and draw new residents looking to escape high taxes in Illinois.

 

He said the opportunity to move here from places like Chicago is greater since more people are working from home since the COVID-19 outbreak.

 

“With so many people being allowed to work remotely these days, you don’t want to go to Lake and Porter counties.  They’re packed.  Come to LaPorte especially with the advantages we have,” he said.

Wolves Football Grounded by COVID-19

(Michigan City, IN) - The high school football season in Michigan City is on hold after one of the coaches tested positive for COVID-19.  School officials say all coaches and players have been advised to self-quarantine for 14 days.

 

As a result, all football practices and games for the varsity, junior varsity and freshman football squads are cancelled for the next two weeks, school officials said.  Officials said the school corporation is working closely with the La Porte County Health Department on the situation.

 

The La Porte Slicers Football team are scheduled to take on Michigan City on October 9th, following the quarantine.

 

Girl Drowns in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) -  A 16-year-old girl drowned in Michigan City over the Labor Day weekend.  The Indiana Department of Natural Resources said the girl disappeared about 2 p.m. Sunday.  She was found about one hour later and taken to the hospital where she was pronounced dead, DNR said. 

 

The girl was at Washington Park Beach with family members.  A high-risk swim warning was in effect at the time of the girl's disappearance. 

 

DNR said the victim was from the Ft. Wayne area.

Pressel Credits Surplus for Keeping the State Afloat

(Indianapolis, IN) - A local state lawmaker is thanking a large budget surplus for keeping Indiana from going belly-up in these uncertain times.  State Representative Jim Pressel says saving for a rainy day, or a global pandemic, has really paid off.

 

As of March, Indiana held a nearly $2.4 billion surplus.  As of August 1, Pressel says, that was down to $1.4 billion and dropping.  But the total financial impact, he says, may still be felt more than a year from now.  "We probably won't see the full impact of it until 2022, so it's that far in the distance." Pressel says. "When we go back into session, we're probably only going to start with maybe between $500 million and $700 million in reserves."

 

Pressel says the money drain comes from both COVID-relief efforts and the shortfall from decreased tax revenues.  With many state services, ranging from health care to law enforcement and everything in between, bills still have to be paid. The cushy surplus helps pay them. But it won't be cushy for long.

Michigan City Man Chased Down after Hit and Run

(Michigan City) -  A hit and run driver caused quite a pileup in Michigan City last week.  According to police, the trouble started when a 1997 Range Rover rear-ended a car on Franklin Street near the IHOP.  The driver, 32-year-old Robert Rosenbourgh of Michigan City, sped away, but only made it a few blocks before hitting four other cars.  The Range Rover flipped on its side, and Rosenbourgh fled on foot towards Dunes Inn. 

 

Sheriff’s deputies, Michigan City officers, and Sheriff’s K9 Bosco quickly found and detained Rosenbourgh.  He was charged with "Leaving the Scene of an Accident" and a count of "Driving with a Suspended License". 

 

Three people from the other struck vehicles were taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Local Airports Get a Boost from Federal Dollars

(Indiana)  - Area airports are getting federal dollars to improve their services.  The FAA confirmed $1.2 billion in grant money benefiting 405 airports nationwide.

 

As part of the initative, La Porte Municipal Airport will receive over $316,000 for updating their master plan.

 

Michigan City’s airport gets over $736,000 to acquire land for extending runways there.

 

And, South Bend International landed over $13 million for reconstructing a taxiway.

La Porte County Week in Review

(La Porte, IN) - It was a busy week in La Porte County and HometownNewsNow.com brought the News to you as it happened.  These were the Top 5 Local News stories of the week on HometownNewsNow.com during the period of August 30th through September 4th:

 

#5:  La Porte County Among the Safest for COVID-19

 

#4:  Workforce Cut by 16-percent at Howmet Aerospace in La Porte

 

#3:  Resort Type Living Going Up in La Porte

 

#2:  La Porte Man Killed in Construction Accident

 

#1:  Major On The Water Concert at Pine Lake on 9/11

 

Powered by the News Department at radio stations 96.7 The Eagle and Rock 106.5, HometownNewsNow.com is the new #1 Source of News and Information in La Porte County.  Please bookmark and LIKE us on Facebook and we'll keep you up to date with the latest News and Information in La Porte County.

Murals Springing Up in the Maple City

(La Porte, IN) -  The Maple City may soon become Mural City.  Some creative La Porteans are teaming up to turn bare brick walls and alleyways into places of beauty.  The first in a series of urban murals was painted on the back of T-Berry’s Diner last week. It’s a collection of giant flowers and an inspirational quote painted by about six local amateur and professional artists.

 

April Kelly, owner of GoAerial Fitness, is spearheading the effort. "Our vision is that they're interactive art pieces," she says, "so that they inspire you to be in the city of La Porte and actually stop your car and get out to check out this art."  Kelly says she has already seen people stopping on Jackson Street to take pictures in front of the giant flower petals.

 

Kelly is also part of La Porte’s Main Street Association, which strives to promote the downtown. She says they considered seeking grants to fund the project, but the process was too slow.  So it’s turned into a grassroots DIY.  "We want this to be a community-based project. We don't want to say there's a charge for this artwork to go on your buildng," says Kelly. "I would rather buy the paint myself and show people we can do it.  We don't have to sit around and talk about it; we can get some friends, buy some paint, and do it."

 

And that's just what they've done.  Kelly has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for materials.  The most expensive items, she says is the protective clearcoat, which runs about $100 per gallon.  So far, they have raised several hundred dollars.

 

Kelly emphasizes that her group is getting full permission from the city and property owners, who are lining up to have their buildings decorated.  Three more murals are already in the works.  One of them, at an undisclosed location, is rumored to be quite large.

St. Joseph County Extends Mask Mandate

(South Bend) - Officials in next-door St. Joseph County aren’t playing wait-and-see with COVID-19 numbers.  Their local mask order there has been extended through December.

 

County Health Officer, Dr. Robert Einterz, made the announcement yesterday. He cited the uncertainty of a vaccine becoming available in the near future as a primary reason.  The previous order was set to expire on Tuesday.  The new order exempts children under 6 from wearing a mask in public.

 

Next week, the St. Joe County Council will consider an ordinance to enforce mask-wearing.  Businesses that do not comply could be fined $50-250 per day.

 

Interstate Drug Busts

(La Porte and Porter County, IN) - Indiana State Police reeled in two drug arrests on local interstates this week.  Both busts took place Wednesday.

 

Troopers pulled over a white Nissan near Chesterton on I94.  In the vehicle, police say they found 3.5 pounds of cocaine.  The driver, from San Antonio, Texas, was booked in Porter County Jail with two felony charges.

 

Closer to home, officers pulled over a Town and Country minivan on I94 in La Porte County. The driver, 29-year-old Kennedy Trammell of Detroit, Michigan, had an outstanding arrest warrant.  He and his passenger were also allegedly found to be in possession of illegal drugs.  They were both taken to La Porte County Jail.

Fatal Accident Investigation Continues

(Lake County, IN) -  A construction zone accident that killed a LaPorte man is still under investigation.  In a story reported last week by HometownNewsNow (link to story here), 63-year-old Martin Knip was killed when a semi-truck plowed into the tanker truck he was driving on a roadway project.   Reports indicate the semi changed lanes and failed to yield to slow-moving construction vehicles on the roadside.

 

The tragedy happened on US 41 south of Lowell in Lake County, near the state line.  The driver, who allegedly caused the deadly crash, has not been identified.  The Lake County Sheriff’s Office says formal charges have not been filed, however the investigation is still ongoing.

Naming All Bridges Here is The Goal

(La Porte, IN) - Eventually, all bridges in La Porte County will be named after someone locally deserving of such recognition.  At least, that’s goal.  Nominations are being accepted to name the over 200 bridges here after local residents making a mark here past and present.

 

The first nominations were for naming bridges on Johnson Road after former Indiana State Senator Jim Arnold and his late father, Cliff Arnold.  If approved, the bridge above the Indiana Toll Road would be named after Jim Arnold while the bridge over Interstate 94 would carry the name of his father, who passed away in 1996.

 

“I think I’m safe in speaking for my father as well that this is a great honor to even be considered,” Arnold said.  He and his father served two-terms as La Porte County Sheriff.  Cliff Arnold also served in Indianapolis as a State Representative for nine-years prior to becoming mayor in Michigan City in 1980.  Jim Arnold, a state senator from 1999 to 2006, is in the fourth year of his first term on the La Porte School Board.

 

The names will be given to a committee to decide under a process the La Porte County Commissioners approved last year for adding names to the over 200 bridges in the county.  Serving on the committee will be a commissioner, member of the county council, a county historian and two others to be appointed by the commissioners.

 

La Porte County Commission president Sheila Matias said the nominations start the process of accepting the names of other individuals deserving consideration for going above and beyond in any capacity during their lifetimes.  She wasn’t sure how many bridges will have names added to start but feels it’ll be done in phases.

 

Matias said the idea is giving identity to bridges known strictly by numbers and promote La Porte County as a home to people who’ve accomplished a great deal.  “This is way of us saying if you are a contributor in our county we want to honor your contributions,” Matias said.

La Porte County Among the Safest for COVID-19

(Indianapolis, IN) - One of the safest places in Indiana right now in terms of COVID-19 is here in La Porte County.  According to the Indiana State Department of Health, just 2.7 percent of people tested for COVID-19 in LaPorte County returned with a positive result over the past seven days.  That’s a drop from 4.9-percent just a few days ago.

 

A positivity rate of 5.0-percent or less is the goal for communities statewide to achieve the safest rating under state health guidelines.  In comparison, the positive rate the past seven days in Starke County is 7.1 percent and over six percent in St. Joseph, Porter and Lake counties, according to the ISDH.

Workforce Cut by 16-percent at Howmet Aerospace in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - The major downturn in commercial flying brought on by COVID-19 has caused a maker of airplane parts in La Porte to trim its workforce.  Howmet Aerospace has cut 115 positions through lay-offs and voluntary retirement at its plant at 926 E. Lincolnway.

 

“We always value and continue to value the contributions of our staff and we regret the need for this action,” said Paul Erwin, senior communications manager for Howmet Aerospace out of Pittsburgh.  About 660 people are still employed at the La Porte facility, he said. 

 

Erwin said fewer commercial flights since the start of the pandemic in March has reduced demand for the high performance engine components made at the plant.   Parts manfacured at the facility are used by Boeing, Air Bus and other makers of airplanes.  "Unfortunately, people are not traveling and that has a ripple through effect on the economy,” Erwin said.  The company with 26 other locations in the U.S. and other countries also makes fasteners and titanium structures for aerospace application and forged aluminum wheels for heavy trucks.

 

Erwin said the lay-offs in La Porte took effect from August 27 to September 4.  He said whether the employees will be called back or if more workforce cuts happen is not known.  “We’re closely monitoring demand from our customers and as more data becomes available we take a look at what we can do and make staffing decisions based on that,” he said.

 

The lay-offs represent another round of labor cuts triggered by the pandemic at other Howmet Aerospace locations.  About one-third of the over 2,000 employees at Howmet Aerospace near Muskegon, Michigan were let go in June and 65 out of 560 workers were laid-off from its facility in Wichita Falls, Texas in April.

           

Construction of New Trail Well Underway

(La Porte, IN) - People will soon be able to walk or ride a bicycle on a lakefront trail well under construction in La Porte.

 

A near mile long stretch of Lakeshore Drive next to Stone Lake started undergoing a complete transformation six weeks ago.

 

When completed in mid-October, one lane from Grangemouth Road to Craven Drive will be for motor vehicle travel while the other lane will be strictly for pedestrians and bicyclists, said LaPorte Parks and Recreation Department Superintendent Mark Schreiber.

 

Scenic overlooks above the water are being added to enhance the experience for users of the trail and for people to fish or dock their boats.

 

Maureen Scott and some of her friends meet on a regular basis to walk along the shoreline near Cummings Lodge at Soldiers Memorial Park.

 

Scott says motor vehicle traffic was never heavy on the former two lane street closed for construction but a trail will make her feel safer and enhance what’s already a beautiful area.

 

“I’m sure it’s going to make everything look so much nicer. Not that it was bad to begin with but improvements are improvements,” she said.

 

Schreiber said the road now that the asphalt has been removed will be repaved starting next week.

 

A divider will go up between the lanes for the safety of people on the trail.

 

Native plants will also go in to further dress up a shoreline where unsightly stone and concrete slabs were dumped years ago to help with flood control.

 

“It’s going to be great,” Schreiber said.

 

The project costing more than $800,000 is funded mostly by the Healthcare Foundation of LaPorte as part of its goal to make LaPorte one of the top 10 heathiest communities in the state by 2030.

 

Eventually, Schreiber said the trail will connect to a series of trails being developed throughout much of the city.

Tennis Court Upgrades in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) – La Porte will be even more of a place for playing tennis.  The courts at Kesling Park and Rumely Park are receiving new playing surfaces.

 

A tennis court is also being added to Allessee Park.  La Porte Park Department superintendent Mark Schreiber says it’s about promoting outdoor activity and making LaPorte a healthier community.  He says practically all of the work will be finished next month.

 

The cost of the work is about $300,000.  The Healthcare Foundation of La Porte is paying part of the expense.

Gunfire Crackdown Yields Two Arrests

(Michigan City, IN) - The Michigan City Police Department is cracking down on the upsurge in gun violence.  Two arrests this week resulted from efforts.

 

According to police, 35 year old Darwin Van, Jr. and 28 year old Dennis Birts are being held without bond.  Police say the men were in a vehicle stopped Monday night in the area of

Carroll Ave. and Springland Avenue for traffic violations.  Synthetic marijuana and a handgun were allegedly confiscated.  At least one of those suspects has a prior criminal record.

 

Police say the crackdown is tied to a federally funded program specializing in getting major offenders off the streets.

Broken Gas Main Causing Leak Being Repaired

(Trail Creek, IN) - Things are pretty much back normal following a natural gas leak Wednesday in Trail Creek.

 

NIPSCO spokesperson Megan Henning said the leak at Johnson Road and Coolspring Ave. resulted from a leak to underground gas main.

 

She said the cause of the leak was still under investigation.

 

Several buildings, including a State Farm Insurance Agency, were evacuated as a precaution.

 

Coolspring Township Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Rick Bradford said firefighters were there for about four hours making sure NIPSCO workers remained safe while digging up the line and shutting off the gas.

 

Jim Erikkson, owner of the State Farm Insurance Agency, said NIPSCO workers with meters kept track of the amount of gas in the air inside his business and the surrounding area to keep people safe.

 

He said NIPSCO workers while gas levels were below the ignition point also informed he and his staff members when to start their vehicles after asked to evacuate to avoid the potential for explosion.

 

Henning said work on still ongoing Thursday on permanently fixing the broken main.

More Federal Dollars Earmarked for Double Track

(Michigan City, IN) - Plans for a double track for the South Shore Railroad commuter line seem even more set in stone.  $50 million in federal funding was recently approved to move that project further along in the process.

 

La Porte School Board member Jim Arnold, who serves on the governing body for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, said such a large amount of federal funding wouldn’t be approved if decision makers in the nation’s capital were not committed to project.  Arnold says the funding also came with a desire to speed up the process which could mean the project being finished sometime in 2023 or a year sooner than the original target date for completion.

 

Adding a track to the existing single line from Michigan City to Gary is projected to reduce travel times to Chicago by 30 minutes.  Supporters believe reduced travel times will lead to significant economic growth in areas like new housing.

 

Federal funding was approved several months ago to pay for things like engineering.

More Gun Violence in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Two more people have been shot in Michigan City.  On Tuesday, police said two men in their early 20’s sustained non-life threatening gunshot wounds.  Police said it appears the men were shot in the 200 block of Fir Street where several vehicles were hit by suspected gunfire.

 

Officers responded to other acts of gunfire last weekend on Walker Street, Main Street and Springland Avenue.  In one of those incidents, police say an 18 year old male being shot at crashed his vehicle into a garage trying to get away from the gunmen.  Police said no injuries were reported in the gunfire over the weekend.

 

No arrests were reported in the cases which remain under investigation. 

 

 

Move to New Hospital Set for October

(La Porte, IN) – La Porte Hospital is preparing to move into its new facility.  The move date has been scheduled for October 24th.

 

During the move, assistance will be provided by La Porte County Emergency Medical Service which received approval Wednesday by the La Porte County Commissioners to help with the move.  EMS Director, Andrew McGuire, said two ambulances will be provided to help move patients to the new hospital on State Street, just a short distance from the current hospital location.

 

La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman said all of the protections are also in place to protect county government from liability in the event of any mishaps during the move.

Doctor Urges Continued COVID-19 Precautions

(La Porte, IN) - A local official is advising people who are tired of COVID-19 to not let their

guards down against the virus.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora said everyone wants their lives to return to normal but for that to happen, continuing to take precautions will keep things from becoming further restricted.

 

The situation in La Porte County is looking positive.  According to the Indiana State Department Health, the number of people testing positive in La Porte County over the past seven days is 4.9 percent.  Kora, who has a medical practice in Michigan City, said getting below five-percent has been the goal. 

 

Neighboring counties have a higher positivity rate.  According to the ISDH, St. Joseph County has a positivity rate of 9.1 percent while over six-percent of people tested are coming back positive in Porter and Lake counties.  And the positivity rate in Starke County is 5.3 percent, according to the ISDH.

Officials Look to Extend Free COVID-19 Testing

(LaPorte, IN) - Free COVID-19 testing is still being provided locally.  The state is scheduled to continue conducting the free testing at the Civic Auditorium in La Porte through the end of this month.

 

After September, the state will provide funding for local officials to take over the  testing.  La Porte County Commissioner, Dr. Vidya Kora, says where future testing will occur Is one of the things being worked on right now.  He says the goal is to offer free testing locations in La Porte and Michigan City and perhaps a mobile testing location.

 

Currently, free testing at the Civic Auditorium is happening Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Natural Gas Leak at Busy Intersection

(Trail Creek, IN) - There was a natural gas leak this afternoon in Trail Creek at Johnson Road and Coolspring Avenue.

 

NIPSCO was at the scene working to shut off the gas.  Coolspring Township Fire Capt. Rick Bradford says the gas was from an underground line.  The leak was discovered after a passerby noticed the smell of natural gas about 3:30 p.m.

 

He says the intersection is closed and likely will be for a couple of more hours until NIPSCO uncovers the broken line and fixes it.  Bradford says what caused the line to break is not yet known.  A few buildings in the area were evacuated as a precaution.

 

No injuries were reported.

Bridge Naming Nominations Wide Open

 (La Porte, IN) - A public servant for over a half century practically followed in his father’s footsteps.

 

Former Indiana State Senator Jim Arnold and his late father, Cliff, are now the first ones nominated under a program honoring La Porte County residents past and present.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski on Wednesday proposed signs reflecting the Arnold name go up on bridges on Johnson Road between La Porte and Michigan City.

 

If approved, the bridge above the Indiana Toll Road would be named after Jim Arnold while the bridge over Interstate 94 would carry the name of his father, who passed away in 1996.

 

“I think I’m safe in speaking for my father as well that this is a great honor to even be considered,” Arnold said.

 

He and his father served two-terms as LaPorte County Sheriff.

 

Cliff Arnold also served in Indianapolis as a state representative for nine-years prior to becoming mayor in Michigan City in 1980.

 

Jim Arnold, a state senator from 1999 to 2006, is in the fourth year of his first term on the La Porte School Board.

 

“I think it’s a fitting tribute to people who have contributed a lot not only to LaPorte County but the State of Indiana,” Mrozinski said.

 

The names will be given to a committee to decide under a process the commissioners approved last year for adding names to the over 200 bridges in the county.

 

Serving on the committee will be a commissioner, member of the county council, a county historian and two others to be appointed by the commissioners.

 

La Porte County Commission president Sheila Matias said the nominations start the process of accepting the names of other individuals deserving consideration for going above and beyond in any capacity during their lifetimes.

 

She wasn’t sure how many bridges will have names added to start but feels it’ll be done in phases.

 

She said the idea is to give identity to bridges known strictly by numbers and promote LaPorte County as a home to people who’ve accomplished a great deal.

 

“This is way of us saying if you are a contributor in our county we want to honor your contributions,” Matias said.

Beach Hours Extended for Sunsets

(Michigan City, IN) - Washington Park beach is open two hours longer now.  Last week, the beach in Michigan City reopened from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. after being closed for six weeks due to concerns about large crowds spreading COVID-19. 

 

The city council Tuesday night voted to close the beach at 8 p.m.  Councilman Don Pryzbylinski said the extra two hours will give people a chance to watch the sunset now happening sooner with autumn fast approaching.

 

Since reopening, the beach is restricted to people with season passes from 2019 and 2020 to provide space for social distancing.

Major On The Water Concert at Pine Lake on 9/11

(La Porte, IN) - Boaters on Pine Lake in La Porte will be able to watch one of the biggest names in country music perform on the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.  Eddie Montgomery, from Montgomery Gentry, will be performing from a stage during the "9/11 Tribute to Heroes" concert on a strip of land stretching into Pine Lake in La Porte.

 

The concert begins at 5 p.m.  on September 11th with opening acts, Frank Ray and Lucas John, and will conclude following Eddie Montgomery with a Fireworks display at around 8:00 p.m.

 

Montgomery is the lead singer of Montgomery Gentry, which stayed together after the 2017 helicopter crash death of Troy Gentry.  Gentry was the other lead performer of the group with five No. 1 singles including “Back When I Knew It All” from 2008.

 

Bethany Lutheran Church is the promoter of the concert honoring first responders and victims of the terrorist attacks that included the toppling of the World Trade Center towers in New York City.  “We want to not let it go by without thanking those people who run toward danger,” said Rev. Dennis Meyer, pastor of the church at 102 G St. in La Porte. 

 

The church was also the promoter of a July 4 over the water fireworks show attracting more than 200 boaters on Pine Lake after the traditional show at the La Porte County fairgrounds was cancelled due to COVID-19.

 

Only sponsors of the event and their guests will be allowed to watch the concert from the land adjacent to the stage, to guard against spreading the virus.  There is no limit on the number of people attending the concert by boat and the performance will be free of charge.  “Get your boats.  Find your friends with boats and come out,” Meyer said.

Fines Proposed for Rule Breakers in Parks

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City officials could hold a hammer over the heads of people breaking rules in the parks.  An ordinance calling for fines and other penalties was introduced at last night’s city council meeting.

 

Councilman Paul Pryzbylinski said there are rules governing behavior at places like Washington Park but the rules cannot be enforced since there’s nothing allowing for enforcement in the books.  Under the measure he drafted, Pryzbylinski said violators can be cited and fined and being ordered to leave the premises.  The proposed ordinance also opens the door for repeat offenders to be hit with a  a fine of up to $2,500.

 

A vote by the city council is expected at its next meeting on September 15.  Pryzbylinski said the focus is on Washington Park where the beach just reopened to people with season passes from 2019 and 2020 to provide adequate space for social distancing.

Mask Maker Approaching 10,000

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte woman has made close to 10,000 masks since the COVID-19 outbreak started in March.  Patti Pearson has received help from her husband and a handful of other individuals to serve the demand.

 

Many of the masks have been donated to medical and emergency responders.  Right now, Pierson said she’s working on masks that will be given to teachers at several schools here in La Porte.  She’s also churning out Slicers masks for kids in Pop Warner footbal.

 

Pierson, who has now made over 9,600 masks, said she’s given away about a one-third of the masks she's made, mosty from faberic and materials she stockpiled in her store.  The remaider of her masks are offered in her children’s clothing store called The Pink Sheep, which has just relocated to a much larger space in the 600 block of Lincolnway in La Porte.

Cubs All-Star Coming on Live Stream

(Westville, IN) - A Chicago Cubs superstar will be having a presence in the region.  Anthony Rizzo is a guest speaker later this month.  He will kick off the upcoming Sinai Forum series sponsored by Purdue Northwest.

 

Rizzo will conduct a live stream interview with former major league pitcher Dan Plesac of Crown Point.  The program is scheduled September 19 from noon to 1:15 p.m.  Additional details can be found at pnw.edu/Sinai-forum.

 

The long running Sinai Forum features several famous speakers a year.  Past speakers have included former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka and former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.

Proposal to Honor Father and Son

(La Porte, IN) - A proposal set forth in front of the La Porte County Commissioners aims to honor a La Porte family for their service to the community.  The career of former La Porte County Sheriff, Jim Arnold, has somewhat followed in the footsteps of his late father, Cliff Arnold.   Cliff served as a State Representative, Sheriff, as well as the Mayor of Michigan City.  Besides Jim Arnold's previous roles as Sheriff and State Senator, he currently serves as a member of the La Porte Community School Board.  Jim is 75 years young.

 

The proposal in front of the Commissioners is to honor this Father and Son for their service by naming two different bridges after them at the same time.  The bridges are located on Johnson Road above Interstate 94 and the Indiana Toll Road.

 

LaPorte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski came up with the idea and presented it as a tribute to what the Arnolds have done for the community.  The commissioners are set to vote on the proposal during their scheduled meeting, Wednesday at 10 a.m.

"The Pink Sheep" Moves to Greener Pastures

(La Porte, IN) -  A downtown La Porte business has relocated.  The Pink Sheep, a boutique offering clothing for babies and children is now in the 600 block of Lincolnway.

 

Owner Patti Pierson says the store is four times the size as her previous store just a block away.

 

Pierson says an increase in sales was a factor in the move over the weekend.  Some of the clothing in her store is hand made.  Pierson said she will be increasing her selection of clothing with the additional space provided at her new location.

Resort Type Living Going Up in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Resort type living is being erected where an empty manufacturing building, full of broken windows, once stood on the edge of downtown La Porte.

 

Ground work began last week for the footings and foundations that will support three buildings containing 200 apartments called “The Banks” near Clear Lake.  The apartments will include granite countertops, stainless steel appliances, a swimming pool, fitness center, bicycle storage and other amenities.  Those close to the deal say a fourth apartment building could go up depending on demand.

 

The development, occupying less than five-acres, is the latest project at New Porte Landing, with 17 of the 50 acres still available to build on at the former Allis Chalmers site. 

 

“We couldn’t be more excited and excited for the people who worked on this all of those years,” said Bert Cook, executive director of the LaPorte Economic Advancement Partnership.

 

Indianapolis based Flaherty & Collins Properties is investing $35 million in the project that is expected to be finished in 18 months.  The company has developed similar projects at over 100 locations nationwide. 

 

Young professionals and empty nesters are the likely residents for the one and two bedroom apartments which will be priced at $900 to $1,500 a month.  Cook said a high volume of residents with disposal incomes at one location should trigger a noticeable increase in retail growth especially at New Porte Landing and downtown.  “It’s the type of project that makes significant change to a community,” he said.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said the development helps fill a void in a city beginning to see results from years of working hard toward positive change.  “There are not a lot of options and with as much that is going on and will continue to go on in La Porte we definitely need housing of all types.  We got a lot of work to do,” he said.

 

A medical office building operated by La Porte Hospital just recently opened at New Porte Landing which is also is home to Dunes Volleyball Club, Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks.  Redeveloping the site began about 15-years after Allis Chalmers shut down the farm machinery plant in the early 1980’s.  Cook said the time involved to redevelop the property is typical for any old industrial site with contamination left behind.  “It’s taken a tremendous amount of work to remediate and get it ready for new use,” he said.

Old Tibma Bakery Coming Down

(La Porte, IN) – Generations of people used to wake up to the smell of fresh bread and other goods from a once iconic neighborhood bakery.

 

The long vacant structure with young trees growing from the roof is being taken down in LaPorte.

 

Demolition of the old Tibma Bakery on Woodward St. began on Monday.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said the abandoned building was tops on his list of what he wanted torn down as part of his commitment to clean up the city after taking office in January.

 

“It’s been standing for too long and we’re pretty excited about it,” he said.

 

Dermody said the building was not just an eyesore but a safety hazard for the trespassers occasionally venturing inside.

 

John Mills said the bakery had a store and the bread at 10 cents a loaf was still warm when he and his large family drove there on weekends to buy some while he was growing up in the 60’s and 70’s.

 

“That was about a fresh as you could get,” he said.

 

He also remembered seeing loaves of Tibma Bakery bread inside a yellow bag for sale in the supermarkets.

 

The bakery was long gone when 31-year old Arthur Wadsworth grew up just a block away.

 

He said the space was occupied by storage and other companies but remembers talk about the bakery when he was a child.

 

Wadsworth said he was surprised by the deplorable condition of the building when he moved back to the neighborhood a few years ago.

 

“Obviously, it needs to go but it’s a little piece of history in my life at least,” he said.

 

Josh Dejaegher living across from the old bakery the past 15-years has occasionally spotted people going inside and leaving with what appeared to be scrap metal and other materials.

 

Dejaegher, 36, said he could also see large holes in the flat roof from the window of his second floor apartment.

           

“It does need to come down,” he said.

 

Dermody said federal funding was used to pay for the $96,000 cost of demolition being done by Pavey Excavating.

 

He said the plan is to find a developer to build low to moderate income housing on the parcel covering about a city block.

 

“It’s definitely some space that can be used to our advantage,” Dermody.

Alleged Peeping Tom No Stranger to Such Activity

(Michigan City, IN) - A barking dog played a role in the arrest of an alleged Peeping Tom in Michigan City.  That’s according to police, who arrested Kejuan Harrison about two weeks ago.

 

Police say two people woke up to their dog growling and heard what sounded like a man outside their bedroom window fondling himself.  Too scared to look out their window, police were called who were already keeping a close eye out due to recent complaints about a Peeping Tom. 

 

According to police, two nights later is when an officer spotted Harrison on a chair next to a window on South Calumet Avenue.  Police say he took off running with his pants unbuttoned but was captured.

 

Apparently, the 21-year old Harrison has done this kind of thing before.  Two years ago, he was convicted of going inside a woman’s home and stealing things like panties and standing above her while she slept, according to court documents filed in the case.

New Fire Station in Service

(La Porte, IN) - Paving the way for a new fast food restaurant to be built, the La Porte Fire Department completed their move on Friday from their Firestation by Walmart, at the corner of State Road 2 and Boyd Boulevard, to their new facility on Daytona Street.  

 

Fire Chief Andy Snyder says they were responding to calls out of both stations on Friday until the move was finished that evening.  Snyder indicated the new fire station is about four times the size as the now empty vacated station, which was built in 1966.

 

He expects the old fire station to be torn down within a couple of weeks.  As reported by HometownNewsNow.com last week (click here), a Popeye’s restaurant will be constructed on the less than half acre parcel after demolition.

Discrimination Alleged in McDonald's Lawsuit

(Chicago, IL) -  A lawsuit has been filed in a Chicago Federal Court against McDonald's Restaurants.  The legal suite was brought forward by 52 African-Americans who were previous franchisees of McDonalds restaurants, 

 

The former store owners allege the chain placed them in "substandard" and less profitable restaurant locations in inner city neighborhoods and failed to provide the same support and opportunities given to other franchise owners.  As a result, they claim their average store sales between 2011 and 2016 were $700,000 annually below the national store average, which lead to several bankruptcies.

 

The lawsuit seeks up to $1 Billion in damages for the plaintiffs in the case.

La Porte Man Charged with Stealing Police Vehicle

(Michigan City, IN) - A La Porte man is in custody after stealing a Michigan City Police vehicle.  29 year old Jacob Defelice was being held in the La Porte County Jail without bond.

 

It all began Friday when police responded to a burglary in progress on Manhattan Street, stating that a man matching the description of the suspect fled on foot and was captured on West 9th Street.  Police say Defelice managed to work his handcuffs in front of his body then fled in a police vehicle.  A vehicle chase ensued and Defelice was ultimately again near Washington Park.

 

According to Police, Defelice was wanted at the time in the city of La Porte and in Elkhart County for drug related and other charges.

 

There was no damage to the police vehicle and it was placed back in service later that day.

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