Local News Archives for 2020-10

Old Letter in a Bottle Discovered at Courthouse

(Michigan City, IN) - A piece of history has been recovered from the courthouse in Michigan City.

 

A letter in a bottle from 1968 was discovered last week during the ongoing renovation of the 1909 courthouse.

 

The letter reveals the courthouse was being remodeled then and how the employees having to work during the construction couldn’t wait for it to be over.

 

The letter along with two other pages are signed by the various county employees and city employee since Michigan City Hall was in the courthouse at the time.

 

La Porte County Councilman Mark Yagelski said the bottle was behind one of the walls being torn down in the courtroom of Superior Court 1 Judge Michael Bergerson.

 

He said the bottle was broken from the work occurring prior to its discovery and the letter was given to La Porte County Auditor Joie Winski for safe keeping until it’s accepted by the La Porte County Historical Society Museum.

 

Yagelski said the letter is in perfect shape from being sealed in the bottle for all of these years.

Gun Fired at Paintball Pranksters

(Michigan City, IN) - The use of paint ball guns has gone way too far.

 

Michigan City Police said officers have responded to several calls about vehicles and people

hit with paintball guns.

 

In one case, police said a man believing he was being shot at returned fire with a real gun.

 

The 40 year old man was at a gas station in the 1200 block of Franklin St. on Friday.

 

Police said he heard a popping sound, pulled out a gun and fired several rounds at the passing vehicle.

 

Police said people using paint ball guns in such a manner might think it’s funny but someone could get seriously injured or killed.

 

Anyone with information about these pranksters are asked to contact Michigan City Police.

Mayor Tells Mr. Cigarette to Butt Out

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte students are being taught to stay away from drugs, alcohol and tobacco this week.  It’s Red Ribbon Week in the schools, an annual event nationwide teaching children about the dangers of substance abuse and violence.

 

A couple of staff members and someone dressed in a cigarette costume were outside the Kesling School complex last night.  They were joined by mayor Tom Dermody, who urged children to follow this year’s Red Ribbon Week theme of “Be Happy, Be Brave and Be Drug Free.”

 

“Pound out the cigarette. Right, Mr. Cigarette. Put it out before it puts you out,” Dermody said.

 

Red Ribbon Week was started in 1985.

Mask Reminder from TransPorte

(La Porte, IN) - TransPorte Manager, Beth West, is reminding La Porte residents that they must wear masks while receiving a ride on one of the city owned buses. 

 

“We at TransPorte are proud to be able to continue providing quality service to the residents of our city despite the ongoing pandemic,” West said.  “However, with the rise in positive coronavirus cases throughout the county, we have to continue to do what we can to protect our riders and drivers. Until further notice, masks will be required by all riders on our buses,” she said.

 

West said all riders must have a mask and wear it for the entire duration of their ride.  Drivers can provide a free face mask to those who need one.

 

Buses run Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

TransPorte will also provide rides from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Election Day to help individuals get to the polls.   To schedule a ride, residents can contact TransPorte at 362-6565.

Applicants Welcome at Upcoming Job Fair

(La Porte, IN) - A job fair is scheduled next month in La Porte.  Five local manufacturers looking to hire will be there, according to the Greater La Porte Economic Advancement Partership. 

 

LEAP officials said American Licorice Company, American Renolit, Corsicana Mattress Company,

E-Pak Machinery, Inc., and Jaeger-Unitek Sealing Solutions will be there with job openings to fill.

 

The job fair is scheduled November 12 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Civic Auditorium.  People wanting a job are urged to send their resumes before the event so they can be matched with the best fitting positions. 

 

Resumes should be sent to events@gotoworkonenw.com, LEAP officials said.

Body Cameras for Officers Sought

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte County Police officers could be wearing body cameras soon.  The La Porte County Council Monday night approved a request from the Sheriff to apply for federal dollars that would pay 70-percent of the over $650,000 expense.

 

Sheriff John Boyd said more than 70 body cameras would be purchased and worn by all of his deputies and courthouse security officers.  According to Boyd, the first payment on the local match of the grant would not be due until the third year of the five year grant.

 

Boyd said his officers have gone without body cameras since cameras purchased several years ago were returned because of issues like poor quality and slow downloading speed.  He said body cameras offer protection in areas like safety of officers and members of the public.  Cameras also protect against liability by offering proof on unwarranted claims.

 

Boyd hopes to know if the grant application is approved or denyed by next spring.

Two Million COVID Rapid Tests Coming to Indiana

(Indianapolis, IN) – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is sending 2,020,000 state-of-the-art Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 point of care antigen tests to the State of Indiana. The rapid point of care tests, which can diagnose coronavirus infection in as little as fifteen minutes, will be distributed at the discretion of Governor Eric Holcomb to support testing K-12 students, teachers, nursing home patients and staff, higher education, critical infrastructure, first responders, and other priorities as he deems fit.

 

Approximately 358,000 COVID-19 rapid tests have been sent directly to congregate care settings, such as Indiana nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state.   As of October 26 over 926,000 BinaxNOW tests have been shipped to Indiana.

 

“To facilitate the continued re-opening of Indiana schools, businesses and economy, the Trump Administration has prioritized scaling up the state’s point of care testing capacity by making this $760 million national investment in BinaxNOW tests,” said Assistant Secretary for Health Admiral Brett Giroir, MD.

 

In preliminary feedback, the State of Indiana shared they have already sent 243,000 of the BinaxNOW tests directly to long term care facilities.  Governor Holcomb is planning to deploy BinaxNOW tests to K-12 schools to tests students along with strike teams to support school events.  The state will also prioritize the Department of Corrections and Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendment-waived sites in orange and red counties.

 

Giroir pointed out that testing does not substitute for avoiding crowded indoor spaces, washing one’s hands, or wearing a mask when not able to physically distance. “Combining personal responsibility with smart testing is a foundational pillar of the Administration’s national testing strategy.”

The New SOUND OFF with Nate Loucks // Heather Stevens

(LAPORTE, IN) - Heather Stevens, the Republican candidate for LaPorte County Clerk, was in the studio for this episode of the new SOUND OFF with Nate Loucks. The topics discussed were: 

 

  • The Stevens candidacy and her goals for the LaPorte County Clerk's office
  • Updated early voting statistics for LaPorte County
  • Precinct-based voting locations vs. voting centers
  • Opinion on a mobile voting center
  • ...and more.

 

The new SOUND OFF with Nate Loucks is a biweekly community conversation show on 96.7 the Eagle. To listen to previous episodes, visit the SOUND OFF podcast page.

 

 

Bison Hoping for Post Season Turn Around

(New Buffalo, MI) - The New Buffalo High School football team, struggling after starting the season with three straight victories, opens the post season at home on Saturday.

           

The Bison (3-3) lost for the third straight time Friday night at Lawrence 54-6.  New Buffalo played without three key starters on offense and defense.

 

“The kids played hard.  You take three of your top players off any team it’s going to noticeably effect the game,” said Bison Head Coach Matt Johnson.

 

Anthony Lijewski is out for the season with a broken collarbone suffered October 16 against Vandercook Lake High School.  Michael Bombin, because of a misconduct foul during the second half against Vandercook Lake, was tossed out of the game and ruled ineligible to play against Lawrence under Michigan High School Athletic Association rules.  Bombin, an elusive starting quarterback with breakaway speed, will return for the post season.  Brenden Tanksley also did not play because of health related issues.  His status for the regional opener was still in doubt.  Tanksley and Lijewski are quality starters in the backfield and solid players along with Bombin on defense.

 

The Bison, ranked 4th out of eight teams in the regional 8 man football tournament, plays Camden Frontier High School in the first round at 5 p.m.  Camden Frontier (2-4), east of Sturgis, is the 5th seed.

 

Johnson said the loss against Bridgman came after several players missed practice due to sickness leading up to the game.  The loss to Vandercook Lake came after Lijewski got hurt in the first half and Bombin was ordered to sit out the remainder of the game early in the second half.

 

Johnson said he likes his team’s chances of winning Saturday especially if two of his starters missing from the previous game suit up.  He said playing at home should also help.

 

One of the Bison victories this year was against a high powered Wyoming Tri-Unity High School team which lost to Bridgman 54-53 in overtime on Friday.

 

“If we play our game and we play the way we know we can play I feel we can compete with anybody,” Johnson said.

Seat Belt Crackdown Ongoing

(La Porte, IN) - Wearing a seat belt could mean the difference between life or death.   That’s the important safety message coming from the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, whose deputies will be on the lookout for unrestrained motorists over the next couple weeks.

 

Operation Belt Up is ongoing and runs through Thursday, Nov. 5.  The overtime patrols, which will be taking place in the top 30 Indiana counties for unrestrained crashes, are paid for with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds, administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute, police said. 

 

“We see the results of not wearing a seat belt all the time, and it’s heartbreaking,” said Captain Derek J. Allen.  “Motorists are 12 times more likely to be killed if they are unrestrained.  Buckling up is not just an important, life-saving strategy — it’s the law.”

 

Last year, out of the total number of motorists involved in passenger vehicle crashes, 90 percent were wearing a seat belt.  Despite this, unrestrained motorists accounted for over half of all vehicle fatalities in 2019 (308 out of 565), according to statistics from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

 

Police said drivers under the age 34 and young male drivers, in particular, were more likely to be found not wearing a seat belt.    Additionally, police said individuals not buckled up in crashes were three times more likely to get injured when the driver was speeding and seven times more likely when the driver was impaired.

 

“Wearing a seat belt is the easiest and single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself on the road,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director.  “Make it the first thing you do every time you get into a vehicle.  It could just save your life.”

 

Indiana law requires everyone in the vehicle, drivers and passengers, to wear a seat belt. Children under eight (8) must be properly restrained in in a federally approved child or booster seat.

 

To make sure everyone is buckled up properly, the Sheriff’s Office recommends making sure the lap belt is properly secured across the hip and pelvis, below the stomach.  The shoulder belt should be positioned across the middle of the chest and away from the neck – never behind the back or under an arm.  If the seat belt doesn’t fit, or the car is older and only has lap belts, ask the car dealer or vehicle manufacturer about seat belt adjusters, extenders or retrofits.

 

Parents and caregivers can choose the safest car seat for their child by visiting TheRightSeat.com, or to find a certified Child Passenger Safety Technician, who can inspect and assist with the installation of a car seat, visit www.childseat.in.gov.

Man Killed in Single Vehicle Accident

(La Porte County, IN) - A Michigan City man was killed in a single vehicle accident over the weekend.  It happened on 675 North west of State Road 39 in Springfield Township.

 

The victim was identified as 33 year old Robert Comer.  According to La Porte County Police, a 2004 Volkswagen veered over the center line and traveled partially off the roadway for about 75 feet before striking a concrete culvert.  The vehicle rolled over into a water filled drainage ditch and came to rest on its roof.

 

Police said the partially submerged Comer was trapped inside the vehicle.  The results of a toxicology test are still pending,. said police. 

 

Authorities were called to the scene just before 8 a.m. on Saturday.

Trump Fans Turn Out for Parade Across County

(UNION MILLS, IN) - There was a large turn-out for a parade of president Trump supporters in La Porte County over the weekend.  The parade went from Mill Pond Park in Union Mills through Hanna, then Wanatah and back.

 

Craig Welsh, a resident of Union Mills who organized the parade, estimated over 100 vehicles in the procession, most draped in Trump banners.  Welsh said most of the supporters stayed for a short rally at the park following the late Saturday afternoon parade.

 

Welsh said he believes Trump will win a second term despite polls showing him behind Democrat Joe Biden because of what he called the “silent majority” who make their support for Trump known only at the polls.

Rebirth of Maple Lane Mall in High Gear

(La Porte, IN) - Improvements at Maple Lane Mall in La Porte are in high gear.  The work is occurring outside right now in areas like the parking lot, which was badly in need of repair.

 

Bert Cook, Executive Director of the Greater La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, said people taking notice are expressing a lot of positive feedback.

 

Rural King, a nationally known farm and variety store, is the owner of the mall and plans to open a store there in March.  The inside of the mall will also see improvements to offer space for other retailers.

 

Cook said other retailers who is consideration Maple Lane Mall is not known at this time, but Rural King is attempting to recruit other businesses to occupy the rest of the mostly vacant mall.

 

Cook expects the work to move indoors once the weather becomes too wintry to continue the work outside. 

Vote Scheduled on Proposed Rate Increase

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte City Council is expected to vote on proposed rate increases for water and sewer a week from today.  The proposal would hike rates for residents about 30-percent over the next four years, while there would be a higher percentage increase for industrial and retail users.

 

Initially, the increase would provide revenue to finance 25 million dollars in upgrades to one of the oldest systems in the state.  A 20-year bond issue would be floated to pay for the first round of improvements that could be finished in 2024.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody says more improvements would likely follow since the needs for the water and sewer departments total over $100 million.  Dermody said nobody wants to increase fees but the needs being so great can no longer keep being delayed.

 

A vote is expected at the next city council meeting on November 2nd.

La Porte County News Review - Week of 10/18/20

(La Porte County, 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 October 18th through October 25th:

 

#5:  Vandalism Arrests in La Porte

 

#4:  Rate Hikes Proposed for Water and Sewer Service

 

#3:  Damage in Vehicle Chase at Cemetery

 

#2:  Virtual Learning Back Due to Virus Spike

 

#1:  COVID-19 Patients Filling Local Hospitals

 

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.

Patients Moved to New Hospital

(La Porte, IN) - All 71 patients at La Porte Hospital were moved Saturday a short distance to the new $125 million Northwest Health.

 

Simultaneously at 6:00a.m. on Saturday morning, the new hospital at 1331 State Street opened, while the old hospital at 1007 Lincolnway closed.  Fourteen ambulances from La Porte County Emergency Medical Service and surrounding agencies began pulling into the new hospital at 1331 State Street, with patients, about 30 minutes later.

 

It took about six hours to complete the move using entrances on each side of the four level hospital to bring in and take patients to their new rooms.  Intensive Care and COVID-19 patients, for example, went inside through the back entranceway along Washington St. while the main entrance in front of the hospital was used for Intermediate Care patients.   Most of the ambulances carried one patient at a time but mothers and their babies rode together.  The most ill patients were moved first, according to hospital officials. 

 

Northwest Health spokeswoman, Karen Keltner, said multiple entranceways were used “to get patients as quickly and safely to their new assigned room.”   

 

One of the westbound lanes of Lincolnway was closed to help clear the way for ambulances leaving the old hospital for the new one with patients.  Several connecting streets leading to the new hospital were also blocked to regular traffic for exclusive use by ambulances during the move. 

 

Eight officers from the La Porte Police Department along with several members of the Indiana Department Transportation helped keep the routes clear.  “We’re basically providing traffic control trying to keep cars away from here so the ambulances came make a seamless delivery to the new hospital,” said La Porte Police Chief Paul Brettin.

 

A flag raising ceremony and short prayer service led by Justin Chadwick, Chaplain Coordinator for Northwest Health, was held outside the new hospital about 30 minutes prior to the doors opening.

 

“More than 12 months of meticulous planning and training have gone into making this move safe for our patients,” said Ashley Dickinson, Chief Executive Officer of the hospital.  Keltner said four departments, including wound care, will remain at the old hospital until September when construction of a medical plaza for those services next to the new hospital should be completed.

 

No formal announcements have been made on what will happen to the old hospital.  La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody said the over half century old structure needs to come down.  His vision is for the site to become a gathering place for large public events downtown at some point.   “Not sure what that is right now.  We’ll look forward to working with the hospital team,” Dermody said. 

 

The New SOUND OFF with Nate Loucks and Tom Dermody

(LAPORTE, IN) - The City of LaPorte, Indiana Mayor Tom Dermody, is in the studio for this episode of the new SOUND OFF with Nate Loucks. The topics discussed were: 

 

  • The proposed increase in sewer and water rates in LaPorte.
  • The countywide business mask enforcement letter. 
  • The state of COVID-19 in LaPorte, IN. 
  • Recent police officer hires and happenings. 
  • Fall cleanup. 
  • ...and more.

 

The new SOUND OFF with Nate Loucks is a biweekly community conversation show on 96.7 the Eagle. To listen to previous episodes, visit the SOUND OFF podcast page.

 

 

Indiana National Guard May Be Deployed to LaPorte County Nursing Homes

(INDIANAPOLIS, IN) - State health officials are taking the fight to COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes by deploying the National Guard.

 

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver announced this week that National Guard personnel would be used in long-term care facilities throughout the state to help staff cope with COVID prevention and treatment. "While we saw cases decline for a while, we are now experiencing a surge in COVID in our long term care facilities, which is why we are taking the additional steps to protect our most vulnerable Hoosiers," Weaver said Wednesday in a press conference. "Therefore, the state will be sending the Indiana National Guard to all long term care facilities to assist with testing and reporting to allow existing facility staff to focus on patient care."

 

Weaver reported that 58% of COVID deaths in Indiana had been residents of long term care facilities. She also said recent outbreaks have caused some long-term healthcare workers to isolate or quarantine, resulting in a staff shortage.

 

A survey of centers around the state has just been conducted to determine where military help will be deployed first, starting in November.

 

All 535 long term care centers should receive back up eventually.

Tri-Township School Leaders Push for LaCrosse Closing

(WANATAH, IN) - The Tri-Township Consolidated School Corporation School Board voted Thursday night unanimously to hold a public hearing at its next meeting on November 19 regarding the future of its historic 105-year-old LaCrosse High School building.

 

Officials say using the old school is no longer financially feasible. They have recommended moving students out of the facility and moving them up the road to Wanatah. Expanding the Wanatah campus, they say, will cost a fraction of renovating the LaCrosse building.

 

A public hearing is required by state law for any school building project exceeding one million dollars.

La Lumiere Students Still Braving the Weather

(LAPORTE COUNTY, IN) -  La Lumiere School is still taking the natural approach to education. The boarding school in northern LaPorte has been conducting classes in outdoor spaces around the campus. Over the summer, temporary tents and two new pavilions were erected to accommodate learning.

 

Head of School Adam Kronk says good weather has made things easier, but they have a plan as cold weather sets in. "If the average temperature is below 42, then we will do a remote instruction day, and we haven't had to do that yet," Kronk says.

 

La Lumiere has already adjusted their calendar accordingly. Once students go home for Thanksgiving, they will finish their studies and semester exams online. "We basically need to get another month under our belt," Kronk says, "The weather has cooperated so far pretty well, and I'm sure we'll have some days over the course of the next month where we'll have to be remote."

 

In the meantime, administrators are crossing their fingers for mild November weather. And they’ll wait and see how to handle the second semester.

La Porte County Trick or Treat Times

The current La Porte County Trick-or-Treat hours for the following municipalities on Saturday, October 31st are as follows:

 

LaPorte – 5-7 PT CT

Michigan City – 4-6 PM CT

Westville – 5-7 PM CT

New Carlisle – 5-7 PM ET

Wanatah - 5-7 PM CT

Trail Creek – No official town-sponsored hours

Long Beach – To be determined

LaCrosse – To be determined

 

More to be announced.

 

 

La Porte County Trying to Flatten The Curve

(La Porte County, IN) - All businesses in La Porte County are being warned to comply with established guidelines for slowing the spread of COVID-19 or face possible consequences.  The La Porte County Health Department has approved sending a letter to all businesses in response to complaints from the public.

 

The complaints involved some establishments not following local or state mask mandates, said Dr. Sandra Deausy, Health Officer for La Porte County.  “Unfortunately, people are suffering from COVID fatigue and it’s not happening in the way that it should,” she said.

 

The letter refers to complaints the health department has received about certain businesses not adhering to mask mandates and research showing face coverings significantly reduce transmission of the virus.  While no fines can be issued to violators, the letter points out the health department has authority to revoke permits to sell food of businesses not following the Centers for Disease Control recommendations for slowing the spread of the virus.

 

“The administrator and the health officer have both talked about that being potentially the lever that is used to assure compliance,” said La Porte County attorney Shaw Friedman.  Friedman said he worked with the health department in drafting the letter also outlining the risk of workman’s compensation liability or being sued if an employee or customer becomes sick due to “relaxed mask wearing.” 

 

La Porte, like many other counties statewide, are seeing a dramatic uptick in the number of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.  The Indiana State Department of Health on Friday reported 39 new cases and a seven day positivity rate of 8.6-percent for people tested in LaPorte County.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora said about 20 coronavirus patients were admitted at each of the hospitals in LaPorte and Michigan City earlier in the week.  He also said one of his patients waited in the emergency room at one of the hospitals for close to 16 hours until a bed was available.  “The hospitals are overwhelmed,” said Kora, who has a medical practice in Michigan City.

 

Kora appealed for everyone not let their guards down against the virus.  “If you take personal responsibility and do the things that we need to do to keep the numbers down it’ll help all of us,” he said.

 

Slicers in Regional Clash of Titans

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte High School volleyball team opens regional play tomorrow in what could be described as a "clash of the titans".  The Slicers, champions of the Michigan City sectionals, take on Munster.  The game is at Slicer Gym at 9 a.m.

 

La Porte (29-2) is ranked 5th in the state and 36th nationally while Munster (30-2) is ranked 4th in the state and 34th nationally.  The winner advances to the regional championship Saturday night against either Penn or Crown Point.

 

Penn and Crown Point are scheduled to play at 12 p.m.

Bison Still Perfect Heading into Post Season

(New Buffalo, MI) - The New Buffalo High School volleyball team is taking a 16-0 record into the post season.

 

The Bison on October 22 ended the regular season with a three set victory at home against Colon High School.     

                                                           

Colon trailing by seven points early came from behind to take a 24-22 lead before the Bison scored the last four points to win the first set.                          

            

Ashley Hauseman and Kelsey Corkran defended a spike at the net to give the Bison a 25 to 24 lead before Colon on the next series hit the ball out of bounds to give New Buffalo the first set victory.                         

 

The Bison led 9 to 6 in the second set thanks to four consecutive points off serves by Amanda Jones.

           

Colon kept narrowing the lead but their momentum each time was broken by points from spikes at mid-court and behind the net by Ava Mullen and Sophia DeOliveira.

           

The Bison won the second set 25 to 18 with the winning point coming from a difficult to reach serve by Corkran.

 

Spikes from Mullen, DeOliveira and Hauseman also stopped comeback attempts by the opposition in the 25 to 18 third set victory.

           

Four consecutive points off serves by Jones late in the final set provided some cushion for the Bison who locked up the victory with a soft put back out of reach from the opposition by DeOliveira.

 

Head coach Kevin Labaj said the team did not play as many games this season because some teams chose not to play because of COVID-19 but a perfect regular season was still just as special.

 

Many of the wins were against high quality teams from larger schools.

 

“We still played really good competition and the girls showed up for all of those games. 16-0 speaks for itself,” he said.

 

Labaj said he also likes the team’s chances of repeating as champions of their division in the upcoming Berrien Cass St. Joseph Conference tournament and the District 4 tournament.

 

The Bison begin conference tournament play against Countryside Academy on October 30 at Countryside Academy.

 

A victory would mean New Buffalo playing for the conference championship of their division October 31 against the winner of Michigan Lutheran and River Valley.

 

New Buffalo hosts the District 4 tournament which begins November 5.

HTTN School Board Questionnaire // Karla Vincent

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities for many candidates to get their messages out are limited. HTNN asked questions of the candidates in LaPorte Community School Corporation's school board race to better understand where they stand on education and community issues.


CANDIDATE: Karla Vincent 
 

What motivates you to want to become a school board member?
I have 3 kids in La Porte schools and want to be more involved in their education as well as the betterment of the Corporation as a whole. 

 

Describe your view of the roles of the school board and the superintendent. What is the ideal relationship between these two offices?
The superintendent and school board should work together and communicate effectively for the overall good of the district. Both offices should have the best interests of the schools, teachers, staff, and community in mind with all decisions. I'd like there to be more communication between the two offices as well as more transparency in decisions being made. 

 

What is your vision for education in this community?
Choices. Everyone should have options for their education based on what is best for the individual student.  Whether the best path is a technical apprenticeship or a Ph.D. or anywhere in between, every student should have options and know what their options are. In my professional life as an engineer, having a plan is of utmost importance.  The same goes for education in our community. We need a plan for all students.

 

What are the current challenges facing the LaPorte Community School Corporation?
The biggest issue at this moment is COVID-19. Giving all students equal opportunities and ensuring technology is available to navigate distance learning. Teacher and student retention is an ongoing challenge; in the midst of the pandemic, parents are choosing alternatives to their child's education. 

 

In your view, what has the district done well over the last five years? What has the district done poorly that you would change?
Rebuilding and updating schools have been a great asset. Adjusting to the advanced needs regarding technology for remote/distance/e-learning, but we need to continue making improvements.  There are always student and teacher/staff improvements as well as infrastructure problems that need to be addressed. 

 

What are the outputs that matter most to you? How will you be accountable for them as a school board member?
Graduation rates, enrollment, student, and teacher retention.  Communication between the school board, the stakeholders (taxpayers), administration,  and teachers is of utmost importance. 

 

Finally, why should people in the LPCSC vote for you?
I want what is best for the La Porte Community, the school corporation, and our youth. Serving the La Porte community as a school board member would be an honor. I would appreciate your vote on or before November 3rd. 

Vandalism Arrests in La Porte

(La Porte, IN)  - Two juveniles have been arrested in connection with vandalism in La Porte, reported earlier this week on HometownNewsNow.com (click here).  La Porte Police Chief, Paul Brettin, said the arrests were made yesterday and confessions were obtained from both suspects.

 

He said the juveniles are connected to the scratching of a motor vehicle in the area of Scott and Rumley Streets.  There’s been many reports of vandalism in that area for months with an uptick in recent weeks.  Brettin says he’s not sure yet how much of the vandalism the two suspects were responsible for but credited images from video cameras at homes for the arrests.

 

Brettin said the vandalism included damage to street signs and other things like vehicles hit with eggs.  He indicates more arrests are a possibility.

Move to New Hospital Tomorrow

(La Porte, IN) - The new hospital in La Porte, being branded as Northwest Health, opens to patients on Saturday morning.  Patients at the current hospital will also be moved beginning at 6 a.m. 

 

According to hospital officials, more than a dozen ambulances will be involved in moving patients which should take three to five hours.  All of the ambulances taking part in the patient transfer are equipped with advanced life-saving equipment, official said.

 

La Porte Police Chief Paul Brettin said the westbound lanes of Lincolnway around the hospital will be down to one lane to accommodate the ambulances using Lincolnway for moving patients.  He said nine officers from his department and employees from other agencies like the street department will work all three routes to make sure things go smoothly.

 

Officials say three flags will be raised in front of the new hospital about 5:30 a.m.  The American Flag, the flag for the state of Indiana and a flag with the organization's name on it will go up.

Businesses Warned to Follow COVID-19 Safeguards

(La Porte, IN) - Local business owners are being advised to guard against COVID-19 or possibly face legal consequences.

 

The La Porte County Health Department is sending letters to business owners throughout the county.  There have been complaints about some businesses not following the recommended safety guidelines, said Dr. Sandry Deucy, the La Porte County Health Officer.  She told the La Porte County Commissioners this week letters are being sent to business owners to remind them of their responsibility and to help flatten the curve during a surge in COVID-19 cases.

 

La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman says businesses could be held liable if someone contracts COVID-19 because of them not following the recommended safety guidelines.  He also said restaurants could have their food licenses pulled by the health department for non-compliance.

Local Man Catches World Series Home Run Ball

(Lakeville, IN) - A local man is now famous for catching a home run in Wednesday night’s World Series game.  Kevin Sauer of Lakeville caught the ball.

 

But, instead of following the tradition of tossing the ball back on the field, Sauer, a huge baseball fan who’s been to other World Series games, kept the ball.

 

However, he threw his mitt on the field.

 

His celebration was played several times on FOX Network, which televised the game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Tampa Bay Rays.   As it turned out, the mitt he’s had for 33 years was thrown back to him by one of the players and he still has the ball.

 

Game 3 of the World Series will be played tonight.  The Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angelos Dodgers are tied in the Series at one game each. 

Free COVID-19 Testing Added in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Another free COVID-19 testing site is being added in La Porte County.  It will be at the Michigan Township Trustee’s Office on Michigan Boulevard in Michigan City.  La Porte County Health Department administrator, Tony Mancuso, said the new site will open November 2.

 

The other free testing site is at the Civic Auditorium in La Porte.  The Indiana State Department of Health is providing testing at both sites at no cost to the public.

Trump Parade and Rally Planned Saturday

(Union Mills, IN) - Supporters of the President are expected to turn out for an event in La Porte County this weekend.  Supporters will gather at Mill Pond Park in Union Mills on Saturday.  There will be a parade to Wanatah and back, followed by a rally at the park.

 

Craig Welsh, of Union Mills, is putting the together event, which is also about showing support for emergency responders, he said.  The parade will start about 4 p.m. Saturday and a couple of speakers are lined up for the rally at the park following the parade.

 

Welsh said the parade route has not been decided but it could include U.S 30 through Hanna; U.S 421 at Wanatah and 800 South back to Union Mills.

Broadband Tops Farm Bureau Priority List

(Indianapolis, IN) - Extending broadband to rural areas is off to a good start in Indiana, but the need further enhanced by COVID-19 remains extremely high, according to Indiana Farm Bureau, which has made filling coverage gaps its top priority for the 2021 state legislative session.

 

“There are some opportunities out there, but we got to figure out how to maximize them and make it all come together,” said Randy Kron, president of Indiana Farm Bureau.

 

Indiana is spending $100 million to help service providers offset the cost of extending high-speed internet to lightly populated areas without the customer base needed to see a return on the investment. Kron said the state funding is strictly for unserved areas, but there are many pockets without sufficient broadband levels to meet the higher demand brought on by COVID-19. He said Zoom meetings, virtual learning at home, and the use of drones and other technology in agriculture requires higher amounts of broadband many areas don’t have access to.

 

At his farm near Evansville, Kron said he has just enough broadband to participate in the video portion of virtual meetings. The audio portion of virtual meetings is brought in through his phone. “COVID has highlighted how many underserved areas there are across the state,” Kron said.

 

Andy Tauer, Director of Public Policy for Indiana Farm Bureau, said talks are occurring with Purdue University to identify better which areas of the state remain unserved and underserved, which will provide a map to follow for future broadband extensions.

 

“We got members trying to run home businesses, run their farming enterprise, kids trying to do education from home, and they can’t do it all at the same time. That seems to be something we’ve heard multiple times north and south, east and west as a real challenge,” Tauer said.

 

Kron said the governor and leaders at the statehouse have already been made aware of the issue.

 

“There is no easy answer to it, but we’re going to be working on it,” he said.

 

Another legislative priority for INF related to COVID-19 is helping small meat processing plants expand.

 

Many small butcher shops have realized dramatic increases in demand from shortages in the supermarkets caused by consumers stockpiling and large meat processors shutting down temporarily because of outbreaks of the virus. INF will push for state funding to help small processors expand and provide additional inspectors to handle increased capacity. Some of the smaller meat processors were already seeing a need for expansion from the growing popularity of the locally grown foods movement before the pandemic.

 

“That goes hand in hand, really,” Kron said. INF also plans to push the legislature to provide increased flexibility for home-based vendors and marketing of value-added products.

 

Another priority is to improve transparency between the Indiana Grain Buyers and Warehouse Licensing Agency and the Indiana Grain Indemnity Fund and how both organizations work together.

 

Tauer said that’s in response to a couple of elevators going under financially in March and some farmers losing part of the grain stored at those facilities. He said IGBWLA is supposed to discover any financial problems an elevator might be having and come up with solutions before they fail, so the fund doesn’t have to be tapped to help cover losses.

 

INF also wants the legislature to make property tax assessments more uniform statewide because of how they greatly vary by county, especially livestock and dairy farms.

 

“We’re not sure why that is happening because the manual is pretty clear on how they should be done,” Kron said.

Another Major Job Catch Forecast

(WESTVILLE, IN) - Many more new jobs are just a signature away from coming to La Porte County.  An undisclosed company plans to locate inside the food warehouse at Westville after Dollar General occupied the once-abandoned facility about a year ago.

 

Tony Rodriguez, executive director of the La Porte County Office of Economic and Community Development, told the La Porte County Commissioners last night a deal with the new company

hinges on just a few legal issues that need to be ironed out.  “They have an agreement in spirit.  Both parties have said they will get this done,” he said.

 

Rodriguez said more than 200 jobs would be created once the anticipated deal is made official.  He said the company's name and other details would be disclosed once the deal is made official.

 

Dollar General has hired close to 200 people at the warehouse.  Corsicana Mattress recently announced plans to operate an assembly plant at Pinola and create as many as 250 jobs in the next three to four years.

Governor Urging COVID-19 Safety

(Indianapolis, IN) - Governor Eric Holcomb is appealing to Hoosiers to take coronavirus seriously.  During a news conference Wednesday, Holcomb said the numbers statewide are getting worse, and nursing homes are starting to experience new outbreaks.

 

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) will reportedly be delivering two million N-95 masks to facilities across the state, the most ever.  ISDH also said reserve health care workers would be tapped into for the first time in two months because of staff members getting sick and having to quarantine.

 

ISDH reported Wednesday 1,766 new COVID-19 cases and 15 additional deaths.  The seven-day positive rate of people tested statewide was 6.9%. Indiana remains in Stage 5 of its economic reopening plan.

COVID-19 Patients Filling Local Hospitals

(La Porte County, IN) - Local hospitals have seen an increase in admissions of COVID-19 patients, with the virus surging across the state and nationwide.  According to the Indiana State Department of Health online dashboard, La Porte County experienced 55 new hospitalizations from September 19th through October 18th.  This compares to 13 new hospitalizations during the prior 31 day period of August 19th through September 18th.

 

La Porte County Commissioner, Dr. Vidya Kora, said La Porte Hospital and Franciscan Health in Michigan City each have close to two dozen patients with the virus admitted at this time. 

 

COVID-19 Deaths in La Porte County are also on the rise.  From September 19th through October 18th, La Porte County suffered 21 deaths from Coronavirus, versus 7 deaths in the previous 31 day period, from August 19th through September 18th.

 

During last night’s La Porte County Commissioners meeting, Kora said he admitted a patient Tuesday night who waited nearly 16 hours in the emergency room until a bed became available.  Kora, who has a medical practice in Michigan City, appealed for people to wear masks, practice social distancing and take other safety precautions to try and flatten the curve once again.

Virtual Learning Back Due to Virus Spike

(La Porte, IN) - School buildings in La Porte will not be open as often next week because of rising COVID-19 cases.

 

The Indiana State Department of Health on Wednesday moved La Porte County into the orange under a color coded system used to decide the number of days school buildings statewide are open from week to week.

 

The downgrade from yellow to orange means school buildings will be open Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Students will learn from home on Tuesday and Thursday. 

 

La Porte Schools Superintendent Mark Francesconi said there is no impact on high school sporting events like the upcoming regionals for girls volleyball scheduled Saturday at Slicer Gym.  He said the number of spectators will continue to be limited to provide for adequate social distancing.

 

According to the ISDH, there were 58 new cases in La Porte County reported today and the number of people testing positive here the past seven days topped eight-percent.  A number of other counties across northern Indiana were also moved into the orange due to rising coronavirus cases. 

Downtown Director Seeking New Opportunity

(La Porte, IN) - Angela Rose, Director of Downtown La Porte, Indiana, has announced her resignation and acceptance of a position with the City of South Bend.  Rose announced the Executive Director of LEAP, Bert Cook, on Thursday, October 8th.

 

“Angela Rose did a tremendous job representing the interests of Downtown La Porte during her time here. She was an integral part of the LEAP Team and will be sorely missed.  We wish her the best of luck in her new position and have no doubt she will do great things for the City of South Bend,” said Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership.

 

Rose joined the LEAP team in 2019 in her current position.  She grew up in La Porte and attended La Porte High School.  After graduating in 2009, she attended Ball State University where she graduated with a Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development in 2013.  Furthering her education, she obtained a Master’s of Science in Historic Preservation from Ball State in 2014.

 

Rose’s leadership aided in the revitalization of the La Porte Main Street Association, the attraction of new businesses to the downtown area, and in August 2019, she applied and won the INspire Idea Competition for her “Paint the Town” initiative, winning a $5,000 grant to help implement a downtown cleanup in partnership with the La Porte County Family YMCA, officials said 

 

When asked about her time at LEAP, Rose said, “I was excited to bring back Friday Movie Night these past two years and manage the facade grant programs through the Urban Enterprise Association that improved multiple key downtown buildings including the Angie’s Building, Mr. Mattress Building, and La Porte Sporting Goods to name a few.  I am thankful for the friendships I have made and the people who have inspired me.”

 

Rose will continue in her role until her last day on October 23rd.  LEAP is currently evaluating the position and community's needs to make the best decision in the future, officials said. 

City Council Seat Being Vacated

(La Porte, IN) - Councilwoman for the 5th Ward Sarah Brown will be stepping down from her position in the coming weeks, according to City of La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody.

 

Brown, who was elected in 2019 and has served in the seat since January of this year, will resign effective November 5.

 

“Due to unforeseen circumstances I am announcing my resignation from the La Porte City Council," Brown said. "My family and I are moving within La Porte; however, we will reside outside the 5th Ward so I will no longer meet the requirements of the position. I want to thank everyone for their support. I look forward to continuing to serve La Porte in other ways."

 

Dermody said Brown's thoughtful leadership will be missed on the council.  "Sarah has been a standup member of our team," Dermody said. "While we are sad to see her go, we've always emphasized that family comes first. We fully support her decision and wish the absolute best for her and her family."

 

Dermody said Brown's replacement will be announced after November 2.

Leaf Pick-Up in La Porte to Begin Soon

(La Porte, IN) - Get ready for leaf pick-up in La Porte.  It begins November 2.

 

La Porte Street Department superintendent Mike Frase said the pick-up will start on Rose Street and move clockwise around the city.  He indicated the first pass around the city should take three to four weeks.

 

A second pass to collect late falling leaves will also occur.  If winter sets in early, Frase said the pick-up will stop but resume on days when conditions improve.

 

He said people should place their leaves beside the street.  Any sticks should be out of the leaves in separate piles.

Litter Bug Watch Intensifying

(La Porte, IN) - Litter bugs in La Porte now run a greater risk of getting caught.  Extra dumpsters have been set out the past several weeks to help clean up the city.  Some people, though, are not placing their trash inside the dumpsters.  Instead, some of the discarded materials are being left next to the dumpsters whether they are full or empty.

 

One of the dumpsters has been moved and placed under surveillance.  Code Enforcement Director Jeff Batchelor told the Board of Public Works and Safety on Tuesday one of the dumpsters along Pine Lake Avenue was relocated in front of the water department on Lake Street.

 

Batchelor said there is a video camera at that location that can keep an eye on the dumpster for violators and capture the license plate numbers on their vehicles so they can be reached.  Littering can result in a fine.

 

Batchelor said the dumpster program, recently extended because of popular demand, will last for another two weeks or so.

LPPD Restoring Depleted Officer Count

(La Porte, IN) - Four new police officers in La Porte were sworn-in yesterday.  Police Chief Paul Brettin said the new ones will patrol with veteran officers soon then go to the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy to undergo certified training and schooling before hitting the streets on their own.

 

Brettin said it’ll take about 14 weeks to graduate from the academy so the new officers, after further training, probably won’t be ready to work shifts on their own until summer.  He said three other new officers were recently hired and are scheduled to graduate from the academy and return to La Porte for active duty in January.

 

Brettin said the new additions will definitely help bring the department back to full strength.  The recent hirings increase the number of officers at the department to 42, or about two short of the amount called for in the current budget.  Brettin indicated they are working on hiring the additional two officers that they're approved to hire.

Deputy Clerk Staying On to Train Replacement

(La Porte, IN) - A top financial officer with the city of La Porte is retiring.  Joanne Layman is the deputy clerk treasurer.

 

The city council Monday night voted to hire another deputy clerk treasurer to be trained with help from Layman before she retires at the end of next year.  Clerk Treasurer Courtney Parthun said the additional funding for the position is already budgeted.

 

Layman has been deputy clerk treasurer in La Porte for close to 20 years or more.

Early Polling Sites Remain Steady

(La Porte County, IN) - The pace of early voting in La Porte County has slowed down slightly but remains steady.  That’s according to La Porte County Clerk Kathy Chroback, who reported 7,876 people had voted early at the polls in Michigan City, La Porte, Coolspring Township and Wanatah as of this morning.

 

Chroback said the lines are not quite as long but the average wait time is still about 30 minutes during peak times of the day.  She said the wait outside the early voting polls are shorter from about 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and after 3:30 p.m.  The early voting polls are open Monday through Friday this week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the early voting polls will be open until noon the day before the November 3 election.

 

Chroback said about 5,000 of the 7,570 mail in ballots requested have been returned to her office for counting starting on Election Day.

 

The early voting polls are located at the La Porte County Complex in La Porte; the La Porte County government office complex on W. 8th St. in Michigan City; the old library building at 400 North and Johnson Road in Coolspring Township and Wanatah Town Hall.

Rate Hikes Proposed for Water and Sewer Service

(La Porte, IN) - A near 30-percent increase in water and sewer rates is proposed in La Porte to upgrade the city’s aging utility system.

           

Mayor Tom Dermody said the water and sewer needs of one of the oldest systems in the state total more than $100 million.  Initially, he said $25 million of the work is planned beginning next year if the city council presented with proposed rate increase and financing Monday night gives it approval on November 2.  "I don’t believe we can kick the can down the road any longer.  We must take action now,” Dermody said.

           

The average residential customer would see their monthly water and sewer bills increase from $48.94 to $62.78 by 2024.  The rate increase by percentage would be higher for larger consumers.  Under the proposal, a commercial user now paying $107.56 would have a monthly bill of $151.41.  The monthly bill for an Industrial customer paying $1,931.51 would climb to $3,329.13.

 

Bert Cook, executive director of the LaPorte Economic Advancement Partnership, said reliable utility service ranks high with companies in deciding where to locate.  “It’s one of those criteria that you need to have. If you do not, there’s no way you can grow especially on the commercial and industrial side of things,” he said.

 

Flooding and basement back-ups caused by single lines carrying waste water and storm water is among the problems officials want to solve by separating those lines beginning next year at Monroe Manor and the letter and number streets.  Flood control projects are also on the drawing board next year on B Street and Southmoor Road.  Other needs outlined by the city include replacing water lines narrowed from rust build-up and updating the water filtration plant on Lake Street.  Dermody said parts of the existing infrastructure, including a brick sewer on Plain Street, were laid in ground before 1901. 

 

Dermody said rates here are currently among the lowest in the area.  Even with an increase, he said the rates would still be competitive with what’s charged in surrounding communities and likely below the state average.

 

The initial work, scheduled for completion prior to 2025, would be paid for with a 20-year bond issue.

Bison Still Without a Loss in Volleyball

(New Buffalo, MI) - The New Buffalo High School volleyball team remains undefeated.

 

The 14-0 Bison beat Buchanan last night in all three sets.

 

Head Coach Kevin Labaj says a winning attitude is why his team came from behind to win two of the sets.

 

He said the team citing strong execution and working together as a unit also turned in its best performance of the season against a very good Bucks squad.

 

The Bison with mostly underclassmen are hoping to repeat as conference tournament and district champs.

Leaf Pick-Up Beginning

(Michigan City, IN) - Leaf pick up will start in Michigan City soon.  According to the Mayor’s office, leaf pick up will begin Monday on the south and west sides of the city.  The pick-up working clockwise around the city will occur every Monday through Friday until all of the leaves are picked up.

 

According to the mayor’s office, residents are encouraged to place their leaves along the curb in front of their properties and to keep branches separate from the leaf piles.

HTTN School Board Questionnaire // Brett Binversie

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities for many candidates to get their messages out are limited. HTNN asked questions of the candidates in LaPorte Community School Corporation's school board race to better understand where they stand on education and community issues.

 

Previous candidates:


CANDIDATE: Brett Binversie

WEBSITE: Facebook

 

What motivates you to want to become a school board member?
La Porte is the only community I have lived in.  I love this town.  Over the past 30 years, I have been active in many organizations and volunteered throughout the community.  JFK once stated, "Children are the world's most valuable resource and its best hope for the future".  I cannot think of a better way to continue to serve my community than being a school board member.  After years of activity with the Play for Jake Foundation, the Clarke Park Renovation Project, and serving consecutive terms as Rotary Club President here in La Porte I feel strongly that fostering the education and growth of our youth in our community is our most important task.

 

Describe your view of the roles of the school board and the superintendent. What is the ideal relationship between these two offices?
As a member of the school board much our task will be setting policy and priorities for our schools as well as making sure our finances are spent wisely and the budget is sound for both the present and future.  The Superintendent should have the pulse of the community and the education system and help identify potential areas of improvement as well as continuing our strengths.  It is important to have clear lines of communication to work together to achieve these goals.

 

What is your vision for education in this community?
We are strong in many areas currently.  I would like to advance our vocational programs for those not attending college through collaboration with local and state government officials, funding, and local manufacturers and businesses.  Apprentice programs are also very important.  I have served recently on the Workforce Taskforce Committee through our former Chamber of Commerce(now LEAP) to help identify areas of need to help educate our students in the needs of future employers.

 

What are the current challenges facing the LaPorte Community School Corporation?Brett Binversie
Our current time is as unpredictable as we have seen in our lifetime.  The information concerning COVID and how to safely educate our students is changing daily.  Our community is becoming more diverse and we must recognize that our schools exist in neighborhoods of varying composure and needs and we must adapt to each while maintaining certain standards.  It is imperative that we have a board and administration that can view this constantly changing environment with open minds and work together toward established goals for the sake of our students.  

 

In your view, what has the district done well over the last five years? What has the district done poorly that you would change?
Finances and building infrastructure have been strengths.  Our facilities in general are in great shape.  We have attracted some great additions to the administration as well as principals to the schools.  We have opportunities to improve our technology available to students and teachers, improve the relationship with our educators within the system by creating the most conducive environment for learning within our schools, improve our communication to parents and the community as well as creating opportunities for all students, college-bound or not.  

 

I find it of the utmost importance that we establish more vocational training and apprentice programs for our non-college-bound students.  I would also like to see more importance on educating our students on educational programs available prior to the 9th grade.

 

What are the outputs that matter most to you? How will you be accountable for them as a school board member?
Providing a safe environment for our students, establishing the best educational opportunities available for students, creating opportunities for our educators to be successful, teacher retention, and preparing our students for life after school....college-bound or not.  

 

I will be available to everyone.  I will visit our schools and take steps to improve as a board member.  The Indiana State School Board Association hosts many learning opportunities for Board Members and I will gladly share my participation in these with the community.  

 

Finally, why should people in the LPCSC vote for you?
My top priorities are Students, Safety, Education, and Community.  I will work tirelessly to make sure we are successful and that La Porte Community Schools will be the envy of the Hoosier State.  I will be well informed and prepared for each School Board meeting.  It is our duty to make sure all students are safe, educated, and prepared for life after school.  I will vote on each and every item on our agenda with this in mind.  I would appreciate your vote for the La Porte Community School Board this year.

The New SOUND OFF with Nate Loucks: Endorsement Monday

(LAPORTE, IN) - With 15 days left until Election Day, it’s time to SOUND OFF with your local and statewide endorsements. In this episode of the New SOUND OFF with Nate Loucks, listeners gave their opinions on who to support in local and statewide races.

 

The New SOUND OFF with Nate Loucks airs every Monday and Friday from 12:15-1 PM on 96.7 the Eagle. Subscribe to the SOUND OFF podcast on the episode page

 

 

Damage in Vehicle Chase at Cemetery

(La Porte, IN) - Teenagers fleeing from police caused damage at a La Porte graveyard last night. 

 

According to La Porte Police, an officer at about 10 p.m. spotted a vehicle with its headlights on in a secluded part of Patton Cemetery.  The headlights on the vehicle were then shut off, which raised the officer’s suspicions. 

 

Police said the officer approached when the vehicle fled at a high rate of speed through the cemetery running over flat tombstones along the way.  A number of flower pots above tombstones and other decorative items were also destroyed.

 

The vehicle, covered in dirt and flowers, was eventually stopped and four juveniles were taken into custody, police said.  Police said they recovered marijuana, smoking pipes, and other forms of drug paraphernalia from the vehicle.  The vehicle also had the odor of marijuana present when they were stopped by Police. 

 

La Porte Police Chief Paul Brettin said a caretaker of the cemetery will be called to determine the full extent of the damage.  Some of the damage was likely overlooked since it was dark when the vehicle fled.

Mayor Issues Warning to Vandals

(La Porte, IN) - Police are investigating an ongoing spree of vandalism in La Porte.  The damage includes scratching motor vehicles.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody, at Rumely and Scott Streets on Sunday, when he vowed the suspects would be caught while standing in front of a scratch mark in the paint of a keyed Chevy Silverado.  He said the amount of vandalism has been excessive and committed by people he described as younger and older adults.

 

“This is unacceptable in the city of La Porte,  We will catch you,” he said.  Dermody says police are beefing up patrols to try and catch the suspects in the act and discourage future damage.  He said images of the possible suspects captured by surveillance cameras nearby have also been turned into police.

 

People seeing anything that might be usual or with information is asked to contact Police at 219-362-6205.

Weapons on Offense Costly to Bison

(New Buffalo, MI) - The New Buffalo High School football team again showed they’re tough as nails in their second consecutive loss to an opponent with a little more fire power on offense and size on defense.

           

The Bison (3-2) were defeated 54-30 at home Friday by Vandercook Lake High School from Jackson during a sometimes rainy night.  New Buffalo scored first on a short touchdown pass from Michael Bombin to Anthony Lijewski, who gained 16 yards on a rush prior to finding the end zone.  The Jayhawks on the first play of the next series tied the game on a 74 yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter.  The Bison midway through the 2nd quarter took the lead on a 60 yard touchdown run by Bombin on a quarterback keeper.  The Jayhawks followed with a 95 yard kickoff return for a touchdown and converted the two-point conversion to take the lead.

           

New Buffalo went up 18-14 on a 53 yard touchdown run by Ben Coffeen with less than four minutes left in the second quarter.  The Jayhawks, though, returned the kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown then after receiving a punt from the Bison scored again on a 50 yard run by the quarterback with .35 seconds before halftime.

           

Vandercook Lake opened the third quarter with an interception and 30 yard touchdown pass then after recovering a Bison fumble rushed the ball 49 yards down the sidelines into the end zone.  Despite the heartbreaking change in momentum, the Bison not giving up managed two more touchdowns but the Jayhawks also found the end zone on two more occasions.

           

The loss was similar to the one the previous week at Bridgman when the Bees on their first two offensive plays of the game scored touchdowns and held off the Bison for a 34-20 victory.

Local Business Wins State Recognition

(Indianapolis, IN) - The owners of a small business in La Porte are being recognized by the state.

 

Damon and Dina Gasaway own Winn Machine.  They’ve been named Small Business Persons of the Year by the Indiana Small Business Development Center.  Winn Machine is located on Boyd Boulevard in La Porte. 

 

The Gasaways will be recognized during a luncheon Thursday in Merrillville.

Apply Now for COVID-19 Rental Assistance

(Indianapolis, IN) - La Porte County residents can apply for help paying their rent.  IndianaHousingNow.org has already begun taking applications.

 

The payments from the state are made with federal COVID-19 relief money.  Officials said a single person can make no more than $23,000 a year and $32,500 for a family of four.

 

Assistance is provided on a first-come, first-served basis, officials said. 

LPHS Volleyball Team - Sectional Champs

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte High School Volleyball team won the sectional title over the weekend.  Despite missing several players, the Slicers defeated Plymouth for the championship Saturday night at Michigan City High School.

 

La Porte needed just three matches in the best three out of five series.  Paige Conklin led the Slicers in scoring with 21 kills.

 

The Slicers ranked 6th in the state and 37th nationally.  Open regional play begins Saturday at 9 a.m. at Slicer gym.  La Porte takes on Munster ranked 5th in the state and 33rd nationally.  The winner plays for the championship Saturday at 6:30 p.m. against either Penn or Crown Point.

HTTN School Board Questionnaire // Kyleen Fuller

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities for many candidates to get their messages out are limited. HTNN asked questions of the candidates in LaPorte Community School Corporation's school board race to better understand where they stand on education and community issues.


CANDIDATE: Kyleen Fuller 

WEBSITE: Facebook

 

What motivates you to want to become a school board member?

I am running for the LPCSC school board because I know what it feels like to be a struggling student in our system and a struggling parent trying to navigate through this corporation. I feel that I can bring a unique voice to this board.

 

Describe your view of the roles of the school board and the superintendent. What is the ideal relationship between these two offices?

As a school board member, our number one role is to be an advocate for the entire student. We need to strive to improve the overall educational experience through fiscal responsibility, accountability of our community resources, and recognizing our responsibility as school board members to seek improvement of education throughout the state. The superintendent is in charge of articulating the vision for our student's education and organizing support to keep the vision moving. Ideally, the superintendent would enthusiastically work with the board, employees at all levels and community partners to achieve benchmark goals that keep the corporation moving toward that vision.

 

What is your vision for education in this community?

With the creation of the Governor's Workforce Cabinet, Next Level Jobs, and Indiana Pathways diplomas we are in the position to lead the way with innovative curriculum and educating the entire child. We have the infrastructure, community partners, and creativity to retain the students we have, get back the students we have lost, and fill the future needs as our city grows in population. I want to strengthen and expand Social Emotional Learning (SEL), evaluate our current pathways programs to see where we can expand and strengthen the experience and end the atmosphere of toxic positivity that does not allow for important community conversations to happen.

 

What are the current challenges facing the LaPorte Community School Corporation?
In 2018 31% of the children aged 6-11 living within the city of LaPorte lived BELOW the poverty line. Our students face food insecurity, housing insecurity and are often asked to balance school with adult responsibilities like taking care of younger siblings. When you add these numbers to the number of students facing mental health issues, family issues, educational hardship issues you begin to understand why uncomfortable conversations are needed. These children have zero power over their lives and it is the community and school corporation's job to, at the very least, acknowledge the problems we face and allow for real conversations to be had.

 

In your view, what has the district done well over the last five years? What has the district done poorly that you would change?
The addition of Project Lead the Way, Slicer Support Services, the new Slicer Health Clinic, and the Family and Community Engagement Services (FACES) have gone a long way in expanding our entire child approach by offering community support and innovation in our schools. As an ISTA/I-PACE endorsed school board candidate I have spent years cultivating a relationship as a parent and business owner with many of our bus drivers, food services employees, aids, and teachers and they all have so many great suggestions to offer on employee retention and it is time we listen!

 

What are the outputs that matter most to you? How will you be accountable for them as a school board member?
Our true graduation rates, our exit codes, overall enrollment numbers, and the results from frequent Climate Audits will help keep us on a path forward and will provide meaningful output.

 

Finally, why should people in the LPCSC vote for you?
As an advocate for children of all ages I feel I can bring a unique perspective to the board. I have a track record of community service and getting things done and I would be honored to serve on the LPCSC school board.

COVID-19 Remains on Incline in La Porte County

(La Porte County, IN) - COVID-19 statistics in La Porte County continue on a steep incline, according to the numbers reported by the Indiana State Department of Heath.  Here is an analysis of the current numbers:

 

New Positive Cases:  on Saturday, October 17th, 62 New Positive Cases were reported in La Porte County.  This marks the 2nd highest day of "New Positive Cases" since the Pandemic began.  Overall, our 7-day moving average has increased to an all time high of 39 New Positive Daily Cases, for a total of 273 new confirmed infections over the past 7 days in La Porte County. 

 

Positive Test Rate (Positivity Rate):  The Positive Test rate in La Porte County rose to 7.2% on

October 10th from a moving average of 4.3% on September 10th.  This represents a 67% increase in the Positive Test rate over the past month.

 

Hospitalizations:  During the first half of October (between October 1st and October 15th), La Porte County has reported 26 new Hospitalizations from COVID-19.  This equals the total number of Hospitalizations during the entire month of September, suggesting that October is on track to have nearly twice as many Hospitaliztions as the prior month. 

 

Deaths:  During the first half of October (October 1st through October 15), La Porte County has experienced 9 COVID-19 related deaths.  For the entire month of September, the total COVID-19 death count was 10 in La Porte County.  Like the Hospitalization numbers, the death rate seems to be on a rate of nearly double from the prior month.  

 

HometownNewsNow.com is your #1 Source of News and Information in La Porte County.  Like us on Facebook or bookmark our website and we'll keep you up to date with the latest COVID numbers as they relate to our County.

Law Enforcement Checking on Child Predators Prior to Halloween

(La Porte County, IN) - With Halloween coming up and lots of kiddos being out and about, area police agencies are making a sweep of local sex offenders.

 

Dubbed Operation Scare and Beware, officers from seven different agencies hit the streets Thursday to check up on Sexual Violent Predators and Offenders Against Children.  According to La Porte County’s Sheriff’s Office, there are 104 of them registered in the area. 

 

The sweep on Thursday found two of them to be non-compliant with their registration requirements.  Investigations into their whereabouts have been launched, and arrest warrants are being sought.

 

Police conduct this operation every year before Halloween.  According to La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd, "it is crucial that our citizens visit our website to learn who the registered sex offenders are in our community and where they live.”  At the website, Boyd says, "information about specific offenders can be obtained by entering the offender’s name or searching for potential offenders within a specified radius of any address of interest.  Address radiuses of  1/4 , 1/2 , 1, 2 or 5 miles can be checked for potential offenders."

 

The Sheriff's Office says the online registry has been used over 200,000 times over the past six years.

Indianapolis Colts Feature Local Football Standout

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indianapolis Colts have featured a local high school athlete on their website.  New Prairie offensive lineman Hunter Whitenack was the topic of an article that posted on the Colts’ website Thursday.

 

The 6-8, 315 pound lineman has been a real road grader for the Cougar offense, but much of the article focused on his prowess in another sport—wrestling. Whitenack was a Semistate qualifier last year and set a school record for pins.  As a junior, Whitenack has already garnered attention from various big-time football programs, and he has already received an official offer from the University of Cincinnati. 

 

Click here for a link to the article.

Michigan City School Closed Due to Coronavirus

(Michigan City) - A Michigan City private school shut down this week due to coronavirus.  St. Stanislaus Kostka School closed their facilities after a student there tested positive for COVID-19.  Students have gone to E-learning while the facilities are deep-cleaned and contact tracing is conducted.

 

In-person classes are scheduled to resume October 26, following a brief fall break next week.

SOUND OFF with Gary Davis

(La Porte, IN) - In this episode of SOUND OFF, Nate Loucks welcomes Gary Davis, Democratic Nominee for Indiana State Senate in the 8th district. The conversation includes discussions about education priorities, criminal justice reform, minimum wage increases, and more.

 
Listen to SOUND OFF every Monday and Friday from 12:15-1 PM on 96.7 the Eagle, hometownnewsnow.com, or the new 96.7 the Eagle mobile app. 

 

 

New Retail Store Opens Downtown

(La Porte, IN) - A new retail business has opened in downtown La Porte.  It’s called “A Whole World of Good” and it occupies the space formerly occupied by Blondies Antiques.  A variety of clothing and apparel is offered along with a coffee bar.  The faith based People and Songs is the owner of the store which helps support their missionaries.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody praised the owners, Darrin and Jennie Riddle, for the work they do in the community and worldwide at the ribbon cutting on Thursday at 711 Lincolnway.  “They see service at target prices and we’re proud to have you here in La Porte,” he said.

 

People and Songs is Christian music organization that’s produced a number of top hits at their facility inside the former Ruth Sabin Home.  The group is also involved in outreach programs locally.

Slicers at Portage Tonight in High School Football

(La Porte, IN) - In High School Football tonight, La Porte takes on Portage.  The Slicers (3-5) have won three out of their last four games, including a 14-13 thriller last week in overtime at Michigan City.

 

Portage is also 3-5 on the season.  The Slicers are 3-3 in Duneland Conference play while Portage is 1-5 in the Duneland Conference.

 

Tonight’s game, on the road, will be broadcast live on 96-7 The Eagle starting with the pregame show at 6:45 p.m.  Kick off is scheduled for 7 p.m.  The game can also be heard online at 967TheEagle.com or on the new 96.7 The Eagle WCOE Mobile App.

Free COVID-19 Testing Extended Again

(La Porte, IN) - Free COVID-19 testing in La Porte has been extended again for another month.  Mayor Tom Dermody said he was pleased and hopes the testing, at no cost, will be offered at least until the end of the year.

 

The free testing provided by the state is at the Civic Auditorium from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.  People can register to be tested online at https://LHI.Care/CovidTesting or by phone at 888-634-1118.

 

As many as 300 people are being tested daily, officials said. 

La Porte Man Charged with Rape

(Hobart, IN) - A La Porte man is accused of raping a 13-year-old girl he alleged met on social media.  Tyler Curtis is charged in Lake County with rape, child molesting, and child solicitation.

 

The girl alleges she snuck out of her home to meet Curtis in Hobart.  She said he then raped her in his truck.  According to police, they had been talking on Snapchat and a nude photo of the girl was found on the suspect’s phone.

Governor Tests Negative for Coronavirus

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana governor Eric Holcomb has tested negative for coronavirus.  Some of his staff members also tested negative.  This comes after the state health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box, announced she was infected.

 

Box says she, her daughter and grandson all have the virus.  She believes the infections stemmed from her grandson's daycare.

Early Voting Heavy in La Porte County

(La Porte County, IN) - More than 13,000 people have already voted in La Porte County. 

 

La Porte County Clerk, Kathy Chroback, said 5,952 votes as of Thursday were cast by people voting early at the polls in La Porte, Michigan City, Coolspring Township and Wanatah.  She indicated 7,227 mail in ballots as of Thursday were received by her office.  The total number of votes cast, so far, represents close of 20 percent of the registered voters in La Porte County.

 

Chroback said early voting at the polls has been steady with the early voting sites at the La Porte County Complex in La Porte and the county government complex on W. 8th Steet in Michigan City averaging about 250 voters daily.  On Thursday, 63 voters cast ballots at the early voting site at Wanatah Town Hall and 240 people cast ballots at the early voting site at the old library in Coolspring Township.

SOUND OFF with Nelson Pichardo

(La Porte, IN) - In this episode of SOUND OFF, Nate Loucks welcomes Chairman of the LaPorte County Election Board, Nelson Pichardo. The conversation includes discussions about voting locally, increases in voting locations, and more.

 

Listen to SOUND OFF every Monday and Friday from 12:15-1 PM on 96.7 the Eagle, hometownnewsnow.com, or the new 96.7 the Eagle mobile app. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

60-Years in Shaken Baby Death Case

(Michigan City, IN) - A 40-year prison sentence was given today to a Michigan City man for the shaking death of his infant son.  Brandon Bottom, 25, was sentenced on level 1 felony aggravated battery, causing death, by La Porte Superior Court 1 Judge Michael Bergerson.

 

According to prosecutors, evidence from the autopsy and witness statements show the baby died of brain trauma from being shaken at the family’s home at Woodland Crossing Apartments.  The baby was also found with rib fractures in various stages of healing, prosecutors said.

 

According to authorities, the baby’s 10-year old brother left for school but soon returned to retrieve some homework he forgot to take with him.  That’s when he saw Bottom shaking the infant.  Bottom, alarmed by the baby’s condition, tried contacting his girlfriend at work but left her a voice message.  After she later heard the message, returned home, and, in a state of panic, the woman took her son to the hospital.

 

Bottom also received a 20-year sentence for trying to arrange to have his girlfriend and her 10-year old son killed.  That sentence was ordered served consecutively, which means a prison sentence totaling 60-years. 

Deadline Extenion Denied for Mail-In Ballots

(Chicago, IL) - Mail-in ballots in Indiana must be received by Election Day to be counted.  That was the ruling by a federal court on Tuesday.

 

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago heard a request to count mail-in ballots received ten days after Election Day on November 3 due to COVID 19.  However, the court ruled Coronavirus Pandemic was not a good enough reason to extend the deadline.

COVID-19 Returns to the Prisons

(La Porte County, IN) - More than 50 new cases of coronavirus in La Porte County were reported today.  For the first time in quite a while, new cases have been reported at both of the prisons in La Porte County.

 

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, seven offenders at Westville Correctional Facility turned up positive Wednesday.  Four offenders at Indiana State Prison on Wednesday also tested positive for the virus.

 

According to the state, the number of people testing positive in La Porte County in the last seven days was seven percent.  La Porte County Commission President Sheila Matias said people should not be letting their guards down.

 

“I’m not saying we should panic.  We need to live.  We need to continue to be active, but there are precautions you can take to keep yourself, your family, your children safe,” she said. 

 

Matias expressed concern about Governor Eric Holcomb keeping the state in Stage 5 of his economic reopening plan.  However, Matias said she also understands his decision not to scale back the reopening to keep as many people as possible away from economic hardship.

Jail Keeps Posting Coronavirus Goose Eggs

(La Porte, IN) - A perfect game against COVID-19 is still being pitched at the La Porte County Jail.  There hasn’t been one case of COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, said La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd.

 

Boyd told the La Porte County Sheriff Merit Commission on Wednesday there have been challenges, like an uptick in the number of offenders at the jail recently and space running low for quarantining offenders as a precaution.  However, Boyd said staff members at the jail continue to pitch their way of the jams to keep the number of COVID-19 cases at zero.

 

Boyd said there were as many as 310 offenders in the jail recently.

Nationally Ranked Slicers Open Sectional Play

(La Porte, IN) - The nationally ranked La Porte High School girls’ volleyball team opens sectional play this weekend.

 

The Slicers ranked 6th in the state and 42nd in the nation play at 10 a.m. Saturday at Michigan City High School.

 

According to the LPHS Athletic Department, the 27-2 Slicers play the winner of Mishawaka and

South Bend Riley.

 

If the Slicers win, they would play for the Michigan City sectional championship at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Mayor Parry Wears Slicer Orange After Losing Wager

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City mayor Duane Parry was wearing Slicer orange yesterday.  That’s because La Porte defeated Michigan City in high school football Friday night.

 

La Porte mayor Tom Dermody, after winning a wager with Mayor Parry, drove to Michigan City to give Mayor Parry an orange and black "LaPorte Proud" t-shirt to put on at City Hall.

 

“La Porte came up with what I would consider an upset over the Wolves and mayor Parry is definitely a man of his word,” Dermody said. 

 

La Porte defeated the Wolves last Friday night, 14-13 in overtime at Ames Field.

Curtain Opens for Spicy Donut

(Canton, MA) - You no longer have to reach for a bottle of Tabasco sauce or salsa for that spicy flavor.  You can get it on a donut.

 

Dunkin Donuts has rolled out its first ever spicy donut.  The Spicy Ghost Pepper donut is being offered through December at most locations.  The strawberry icing is mixed with cayenne and ghost peppers which are some of the hottest peppers in the world.

New Buffalo Addressing Party Houses

(New Buffalo, MI) - New Buffalo is a popular destination to rent single family homes for vacations or simply getaway for the weekend.  However, the large parties thrown at some of the properties have angered neighbors also upset by how many residences have turned into short term rentals.

           

The process of trying to more effectively address the situation began during an October 12 meeting of the New Buffalo City Council and New Buffalo Planning Commission.  “This has got to stop.  It’s getting out of hand.  We have strangers coming every weekend to stay near us not knowing them,” said resident Gabby Sexton.

           

Resident Louise Valentin said she didn’t realize the problems she would encounter after her neighbor put in a swimming pool and opened his house to guests during the summer.  “What it ended up turning into is essentially a party house and I’m not exaggerating.  This is every weekend,” she said.

 

By the end of the year, the hope is to add teeth to the city’s existing vacation rental ordinance and increase enforcement, said Mayor Lou O’Donnell, IV.  “This is a work in progress,” he said.

 

The task seems challenging because the local economy along the shores of Lake Michigan is built on tourism.  Vacation rental owner Heather Grabowski of New Buffalo said she respects and agrees with many of the concerns but too many restrictions could bring financial pain to the community.  She said the problems rest more with vacation rental owners from elsewhere not working closely enough with tenants before things get out of hand.  “I don’t think you can legislate your way out of a seasonal economy,” she said.

 

One of the options under consideration is hiring Granicus, a private firm specializing in the enforcement of vacation rental codes for 350 municipalities nationwide, including 12 in Michigan.  Kyle Salonga, a sales representative with the company, said Granicus relies on digital  technology to more effectively reach property owners or their representatives to immediately address complaints.  He said a dedicated hotline working around the clock is also provided to help take complaints and receive pictures along with other evidence of potential violations.

 

Citizens, after registering complaints, are contacted in less than an hour to find out if an issue has been corrected.  “While we’re tracking this information your police department or whoever is enforcing this will be able to see if there was a violation,” Salonga said.  The city would pay just under $11,000 a year for the service.

 

City Manager Dave Richards said there are about 250 short term rental homes in the community of about 2,000 full-time residents.  He said the increase has been noticeable and the ordinance adopted just last year proved ineffective in addressing the problems.  “We want to get it under control.  We want to balance the needs of the full-time residents while understanding that the state allows short term rentals in residential neighborhoods,” Richards said.

 

Richards said an increase in the current fee paid to the city for registering and inspection of a short term rental is being examined to pay for stricter enforcement.  He said establishing a head tax to pay for enforcement is not an option unless there’s a change in state law.  Richards said a head tax for short term rentals in Michigan is allowed only in communities with a population of at least 40,000 and counties with more than 600,000 residents.

Horn Sounded on Sirens Near Zoo

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man is concerned blaring severe weather sirens during testing are harming the animals at Washington Park Zoo.  The sirens are tested the first Saturday of every month.

 

Kent Lange, during a meeting of the Michigan City Common Council, said some of the sirens are very close to the zoo and he was there recently during a siren test.  “Those poor animals go crazy.  Not for a minute or two minutes. However long they test those sirens,” he said.

 

He said sirens during the testing quit momentarily then fire back up for another several minutes before turned on again for testing the following month.  If the sirens can’t be moved, Lange suggested the testing last for a shorter period of time so the zoo animals don’t have to endure such high decibel levels for so long.

 

Lange is a member of the Michigan City Park Board and liaison between the park board and city council.

Chicago Imposes Travel Restrictions for Indiana

(Chicago, IL) - The city of Chicago is restricting travel by Indiana residents.  The decision is in response to surging COVID-19 numbers in the Hoosier state.

 

Starting Friday, many Indiana residents are required to quarantine in Chicago for at least 14 days once they arrive.  The same applies to Chicago residents setting foot in Indiana, officials said.  Violators face an up to $500 daily fine.

 

Hoosiers traveling to Chicago for work, to catch a flight and gambling or just driving through are exempt from the order, officials said.

"LaStitch" Unraveled by COVID-19

(La Porte, IN) - An event scheduled in downtown La Porte has been cancelled due to COVID-19.  The first ever Friday Night Live at La Stitch was called off.  According to the mayor’s office, the rising number of COVID-19 cases was the reason.

 

La Stitch, on Monroe Street just north Lincolnway, was recently equipped with overhead lights for major events.  This and other events there are still planned for 2021, according to the mayor’s office.

 

La Stitch is the name given to the entertainment area because it represents street connections planned in the future with New Porte Landing.

Domestic Dispute Cited in Fatal Shooting

(Michigan City, IN) - Police have released more information about a fatal shooting In Michigan City.  34 year old James Grott was found dead early Monday inside a home.

 

According to police, a 911 call indicated shots were fired in the area of the 3300 block of Franklin Street.  Police said a domestic dispute led to the fatal shooting.

 

No arrests have been made.  Police said the findings of the investigation will be presented to prosecutors to decide whether to file charges in the case.

Walkers Help in Alzheimer's Disease Fight

(Michigan City, IN) - More than $33,000 was raised locally to try and find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease.  Over 160 area residents took part in a walk on Saturday, according to the Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter.

 

Due to COVID-19, participants walked as individuals and in small groups on sidewalks, tracks and trails across the Michigan City area. 

 

In addition to finding a cure, AAGIC officials say the money goes toward things like education programs and a 24 hour helpline for people needing assistance.

Injuries When Motor Vehicles Tangle

(La Porte County, IN) - There was a motor vehicle crash outside La Porte this morning.  The accident happened about 5:30 a.m. in the area of U.S 35 and 400 West which is just a few miles north of the city limits.

 

According to La Porte County Police, three vehicles were involved and a least one person was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

 

We’ll provide more details as they’re made available.

Plans for Truck Stop Unfolding

(Michigan City, IN) - The checkered flag is now waving for the long awaited construction of a truck stop outside Michigan City.  The final hurdle was jumped when the La Porte County Commissioners last week granted final approved to the site plan for Love’s Travel Stops.

 

Matt Reardon, with the La Porte County Office of Economic and Community Development, said the facility on a 10 acre parcel along U.S 421 just south of Interstate 94 could start going up in the spring. 

 

Municipal water and sewer lines will be run underneath Interstate 94 to the site before construction begins.  Reardon said proposals for extending the utilities, estimated at $4.5 million, are presently being sought.  "It should produce some very viable bids for the project for us to review,” he said.  Reardon said a federal economic development grant is being sought to pay for 80-percent of the water and sewer line extensions up front.  The balance would be covered by tax dollars generated by an increase in property value from the truck stop.  If the grant application is turned down, Reardon said the additional tax revenue would be enough to finance the project through a bond issue.  Businesses committed to tying into the utilities have contributed money toward the cost, he said. 

 

About 50 people will be employed full time at the truck stop, said Frank Ille, manager of development at Love’s Travel Stops.  Ille said the truck stop will fill a gap between truck stops owned by the company in Gary and about 150 miles to the east in Marshall, Michigan.  “We are extremely excited about this location,” he said.

 

Officials believe access to municipal water and sewer will attract other commercial development like brand name hotels and restaurants south of the interchange.  The new Franciscan Health hospital and hotels already exist on the north side of the interchange.

TransPorte Returns to Full Strength

(La Porte, IN) - Bus service in La Porte was back to full strength Tuesday after rides were suspended when a worker tested positive for COVID-19.  TransPorte came to a temporary halt October 5 when an employee of the city operated transportation service revealed testing positive for the virus.  Service was partially restored the following day with one bus then later two buses as the remainder of the staff began testing negative. 

 

Beth West, manager of Transporte, said the final worker awaiting test results came back negative on Friday.  The service operated under a shorter holiday schedule Monday with just two or three buses due to Columbus Day.  All five buses were rolling again Tuesday under the normal 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. schedule.  “We had a few customers who didn’t realize we were running short last week but the community was great.  Everybody was very understanding,” West said.

 

West said the driver testing positive remained under a 14 day quarantine but could face disciplinary action once reporting back for work.  According to city officials, the employee after tested September 30 worked the next two days.  City employees are required to disclose being tested immediately so they can be quarantined until the results come back negative, officials said.

 

Users are picked up after calling for rides and pay $3.25 for a one way trip anywhere within the city limits.  The cost is $2.50 for senior citizens.  The fee is the same for return trips.  “We’re an on demand response.  It’s like an Uber but cheaper,” she said.

 

West said about 200 rides were given daily until the pandemic reduced the number of trips by about 50-percent.

Winery Plans Major Expansion

(Michigan City, IN) - A winery in Michigan City is expanding.  Shady Creek Winery will increase production from 2,000 to 15,000 gallons under the $2.5 million dollar expansion.

 

Officials say their barrel room capable, currently capable of aging 420 gallons annually,  will be able to age more than 8,000 gallons after the expansion.  Adding new business lines, expanding its retail footprint and much more seating for the food and beverage portion of the business on Tryon Road are also in the plans.

 

The investment is being made by the new owners of the winery which already ships product to 37 states.

Michigan City Death Probe

(Michigan City, IN) -  Police in Michigan City are investigating a death.  According to police, it occurred early yesterday in the 3300 block of Franklin St.

 

So far, police have not released any details on how the death may have occurred but they did reveal the detective bureau was called and is investigating.

 

Police said the death was an isolated incident and there was no threat to the community.  Further details will be released at a later time, police said.

 

State of City Address Going Virtual

(La Porte, IN) - The mayor of La Porte still plans to give the annual state of the city address.  The state of the city address was scheduled for Friday at La Porte Municipal Airport.  However, it was cancelled due to the rise in COVID-19 cases.

 

But, Mayor Tom Dermody said he will give a video presentation of his state of the city address.  The date for that to occur has not been set.

 

“Our team is thinking outside the box to find ways to share information with residents in a safe and creative way. The City of La Porte has some incredible things happening and we won’t let COVID-19 stop our momentum,” he said.

The New SOUND OFF with Governor Candidate Dr. Woody Myers

(La Porte, IN) - The New SOUND OFF with Nate Laoucks is a community conversation forum on 96.7 The Eagle.  Every Friday on The New SOUND OFF, Nate Loucks invites a guest of public interest onto the program.  This week, Democratic Candidate for Indiana Governor, Dr. Woody Myers joined Sound Off for your questions.  You can stream this edition of SOUND OFF here:

 

 

 

 

 

 

The New SOUND OFF with Nate Loucks airs every Monday and Friday from 12:15p to 1:00p on 96.7 The Eagle.  Hear previous episodes of SOUND OFF by following this link to our Podcast Page (link).

Slumping Grain Prices Going Up

(West Lafayette, IN) - Higher demand and lower supplies forecast by USDA are driving a long awaited increase in the price of grain.  The returns on soybeans have especially been helped with the average price of soybeans for 2020 predicted to be the highest since 2014.

           

According to the latest USDA crop outlook report on October 9, the average price of soybeans for this year should be $9.80 per bushel compared to $8.57 last year and $8.48 in 2018.  Jim Mintert, an agricultural economist at Purdue University, said during a Friday webinar in reaction to the USDA report that soybeans have gone up well over a $1 per bushel in the last two months.  “It’s a huge change in prices,” he said.

           

According to USDA’s latest crop outlook on Friday, the amount of planted soybeans this year was estimated at 700,000 thousand less than originally estimated for a total of 83.1 million.  There was no change in USDA’s soybean yield estimates with states like Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin projected to have record harvests and other areas impacted more by weather to see lower yields than originally forecast.

 

USDA also forecast an additional 75 million bushels in soybeans exports and ending stocks for U.S soybeans at six-percent.  Ending stocks for U.S soybeans in 2019 stood at 13-percent and 23-percent in 2018.  “This is a dramatic turnaround that explains the strength in soybean prices we’ve seen recently,” Mintert said.

 

“We got supply going down and demand going up,” said Michael Langemeier, another Purdue University agricultural economist at the West Lafayette campus.  USDA reduced its estimate for planted corn this year by one million acres to 91 million acres.  USDA also predicted 14.9 billion bushels of harvested corn or about one billion bushel fewer than previously forecast.

 

While the use of corn for ethanol production was forecast to be 50 million bushels less than 2019, USDA predicted corn exports would be 31-percent above 2019.  The latest forecast by USDA also placed ending stocks for corn at 15-percent when 17-percent was predicted last month and 20-percent was anticipated in July.  “This is a big change in a short span of time.  It’s a big shift,” Mintert said.  As a result, USDA has revised its average price estimate for corn this year from $3.50 per bushel last month to $3.60 presently.  This year’s average price for corn was estimated by USDA at $3.10 per bushel two months ago.

 

Mintert said soybean producers might be tempted to wait to see if prices go up further in the coming months before selling what they have in storage.  He said current prices are pretty attractive, though and a lot of uncertainty  that remains in the market could have negative impact on prices in the future.  “There’s a lot of downside risk to holding on to soybeans,” Langemeier said.

Felon with Handgun Charges Filed

(Michigan City, IN) - Another man was arrested for a handgun violation during a Michigan City traffic stop.  Christopher Crockett, 34, is charged with serious violent felon in possession of a firearm and theft.

 

Police said he was in a vehicle pulled over for traffic violations a week ago at Franklin Street and Barker Road.   They said an officer spotted a handgun inside the glovebox after a passenger opened the glovebox to retrieve the vehicle registration. 

 

The gun was reported stolen out of Elkhart, police said.   Crockett, who’s from Elkhart, was being held on $20,000 bond.

Arrests Tied to Guns and Ammo Seizure

(Michigan City, IN) - Four people were arrested in Michigan City during a traffic stop where firearms and ammunition were allegedly found.  Police said the individuals were in a vehicle stopped early Sunday on W. 8th Street. for having an expired license plate.  A nine millimeter handgun and .22 caliber rifle were also allegedly seized from the vehicle.  Loose ammunition and a high capacity handgun magazine were also confiscated from the vehicle.

 

Arrested were Tyallah Kimble, 24, Nikko James, 30, Omisemon Coleman. 31, and Dexter Lee, 28, all of Michigan City.  Two of the individuals were charged with gun related violations, police said.  The others were taken into custody for false informing and outstanding warrants.

Fund Raiser to Provide Free Horse Lessons

(Three Oaks, MI) - Money is being raised to give people, especially those with disabilities, a high quality, personal experience with horses at no cost.

           

Spring Creek Equestrian Center at 16771 Pardee Road outside Three Oaks held a fund raiser Sunday at Williams Orchard near Heston.  People were offered a chance to have their pictures taken with S’more, an 18-year old horse at the 20 acre farm, for $5 apiece.  Merchandise was also sold to help provide scholarships for the lessons.

           

The scholarships are provided by the Spring Creek Horses Help Foundation to adults and children unable to afford the cost of the four week program.  The foundation strives to teach team building skills and provide other positive life lessons through time spent at the barn and with the animals.

           

The primary focus is helping people who may suffer from physical or emotional disabilities such as ADHD, autism, anxiety, depression, difficulties in school, social issues or family struggles.

 

Vonnie Hein, who works at the horse farm, said being around the horses has made a world of difference in her autistic grandson since he began coming out for about the past year.  “He’s more responsible, outgoing.  He just loves the horses and they’re good for him,” she said.

 

Alison Grosse, the long-time owner of the farm containing 33 horses, began offering four 90 minute courses in February.  There hasn’t been another course because of COVID-19 but applications are being accepted for the second round of classes at a still undetermined time in the coming weeks.

 

Michelle Reynolds, another worker at the farm, said participants are given lessons on everything from riding, feeding and grooming horses.  The first class began with four children but up to eight people per session is the goal.  “We’re really excited.  Hopefully, we can keep going. The kids really enjoy it,” she said.

 

For more information, contact the foundation at (269) 756-3894 or log in at springcreekhorseshelp.org or e-mail at info@springcreekhorseshelp.org.

Bison Suffer First Loss of Season

(Bridgman, MI) - The New Buffalo High School football team suffered its first loss of the season Friday night against Bridgman.  Two quick touchdowns by the Bees (3-1) were the decisive points in the 34-20 loss at Bridgman.

 

The Bison (3-1) fought back when quarterback Michael Bombin scored on a 75 yard touchdown run to make the score 14-6 with just over seven minutes to play in the first quarter.  Bridgman, though, came right back with a 78 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Reid Haskins, whose arm and elusive running caused problems for the Bison defense throughout the game.

 

New Buffalo scored again with five minutes left in the second quarter when running back Ben Coffeen after a 17 yard gain scored on a 7 yard touchdown run.

 

Haskins struck again for Bridgman with a 4 yard touchdown run before halftime after a 24 yard pass completion.

 

The Bees put the game out of reach with just over two minutes left in the third quarter on a 75 yard touchdown pass from Haskins to a wide open receiver.

 

The final score from the Bison came mid-way through the 4th quarter when Anthony Lijewski ran the ball 11 yards into the end zone following a 15 yard pass completion to Stephen Margaritis.

 

Head Coach Matt Johnson said the outcome of the game could have been different with better execution by his players on offense and defense.  “I felt our game plan going in was pretty solid. We just didn’t execute it.  I’d like to think if we had another crack at these guys and we would execute a little better then the game might have a different outcome,” he said.

 

The Bison play again Friday at home at 6 p.m. against Vandercook Lake High School from Jackson, Michigan.

 

Firefighters Stop Advancing Brush Fire

(La Porte County, IN) - Open burning posed a challenge to firefighters outside La Porte yesterday.

 

Firefighters from Center, Coolspring, Springfield and Scipio townships were called to a corn field fire west of Sara Lane near Beacon Hills.  The dry, windy conditions pushed the flames toward a woods but firefighters stopped the fire from reaching the woods.

 

Residents are advised not to do any opening burning when it’s windy especially since recent conditions have been so dry.

Alert for Missing LaPorte Teenager

(La Porte, IN) - A Statewide Silver Alert has been declared for a missing LaPorte teenager.

Here is the alert via the Indiana State Police:

The La Porte Police Department is investigating the disappearance of Emmaleigh Atwater, a 15 year old white female, 5 feet 5 inches tall, 153 pounds, brown hair with blue eyes, last seen wearing a black hoodie, black fuzzy coat and black jeans.

Emmaleigh is missing from La Porte, Indiana which is 151 miles north of Indianapolis and was last seen on Tuesday, October 6, 2020 at 1:30 pm.  She is believed to be in extreme danger and may require medical assistance. 

If you have any information on Emmaleigh Atwater, contact the La Porte Police Department at 219-362-6206 or 911.

Local Sectional Pairings for Football and Volleyball Announced

(La Porte County, IN) - Sectional pairings for high school football and volleyball have been announced.  La Porte will travel to South Bend Riley for their opener.  New Prairie will play at Plymouth.  Michigan City get a tough first-round matchup with a trip to Valparaiso.  And, South Central plays at home for their opening game as they will host Winamac.

 

The State High School Football tournament kicks off two weeks from now.
 
A couple of area volleyball teams also have high hopes for their tournament, which begins this week.  7th-ranked LaPorte Slicers are the favorite in the Michigan City 4A sectional.  The Lady Slicers are 26-2.  They lost to Penn in the regional semifinal last year.


New Prairie, also ranked 7th in Class 3A, is looking to improve upon their semistate showings in the last two years.   They will be hosting a six-game sectional.  The first round is Thursday.

 

Slicers defeat the Wolves on their Turf

(Michigan City, IN) - La Porte and Michigan City faced off last night on the gridiron.  It was a low-scoring, overtime nail-biter.  Once the dust settled on a final goal-line play, the Slicers reigned victorious with a 14 to 13 win over the Wolves.  The Slicers will look for their third win in row next week in Portage.

 

New Prairie travelled to Penn last night, hoping to repeat last year's upset.  But, the Cougars fell hard to the Kingsmen, losing 42-3.  New Prairie's only score was a school-record 56-yard field goal by kicker Ben Fronk.

 

South Central trounced Bishop Noll 56-7.

Oregon-Davis Falls Back to E-Learning

(Hamlet, IN) - A county school district south of La Porte is falling back to E-learning, while dealing with a rash of COVID-related quarantines.


School officials at Oregon-Davis School Corporation went to E-learning on Wednesday.  After two students tested positive for COVID-19, several other students and staff were also forced to quarantine, based on contact tracing.


In-person learning is expected to resume on October 19.  In the meantime, the district will be offering supervision and E-learning help for students who are dropped off at the elementary school.


Volleyball and cross country events will also continue, as long as coaching staff is available.

 

Death Certificate Listing COVID-19 as Cause Questioned

(DeKalb County IN) -  When Tony Williams' father passed away in August, the La Porte man says he was prepared for the death, but not the diagnosis. Williams says his father’s death was falsely attributed to COVID-19 and now he’s speaking out about it.

 

Williams says his elderly father suffered many long-term health problems before passing away in a nursing home in DeKalb County.  But when Williams looked at the death certificate, he was shocked to see COVID-19 as the cause.  "[His death] was an expected thing," Williams says, "He lived much longer than what I ever dreamed he would.  He did have a lot of health issues, but COVID-19 wasn't one of them."

 

Williams says his father was never even tested.  After several interventions by the nursing home and a funeral home, Williams says the certificate was corrected.  But now he wonders how many other recorded COVID deaths are legitimate.  He says the funeral home that cared for his father told him they had seen several other questionable diagnoses.

 

According to multiple area funeral home directors, this has also allegedly happened in La Porte County.  The problem, they say, is that funeral homes, as well as health department officials, rely only on the numbers they’re given by the doctors who certify the deaths.

 

La Porte County Commissioner and physician, Dr. Vidya Kora, says he is not aware of any erroneous COVID death reports. "The person who is certifying, whether it's the attending physician or the coroner, it is frankly their responsibility to make it clear whether it is a confirmed case of COVID or a probable case," Kora says, "And it's not that difficult... we've been doing this for several months."

 

Kora says all the COVID deaths he has certified have been lab-confirmed,  but he will look into the possibility of errors in other reports.  He encourages any families who doubt a COVID death certificate to take it up with the attending physician.

 

Williams is glad he took action and hopes others will do the same. "Most people just don't want to make waves. Even if they notice it, they just don't want to take the time to correct it," he says, "I hope that more people are willing to step forward, because unless somebody does say something, nothing is going to change."

Drugs and Loaded Gun Found in Traffic Stop

(La Porte, IN) - Drugs and a loaded gun were seized in a traffic stop on US 20 Wednesday night.

The arrest happened near Fail Road.  Sheriff’s deputies pulled over a vehicle with a non-matching license plate.

 

The driver, 43-year-old Africa Gunn of South Bend, was found to have an outstanding warrant.

A passenger, 36-year-old Fred Jenkins III, also of South Bend, was also arrested.  Both men are previous violent felons and allegedly were in possession of a loaded 9mm pistol.  Cocaine and marijuana were also allegedly found in their vehicle.

 

Gunn and Jenkins are being held in the LaPorte County jail without bond.

 

 

 

 

Police Seize Illegal Candy

(La Porte, IN) -  A carload of controlled substance was confiscated in La Porte County.  On Monday, a Sheriff’s deputy working a special highway patrol pulled over a vehicle on the Indiana Tollway near the US 35 overpass.  With the help of K9 Bosco, something illegal was sniffed out.

 

Officers uncovered over 300 pounds of THC-infused candy. THC is the main active ingredient in marijuana and is illegal in Indiana. 

 

The driver, 35-year-old Angelo Padilla of New Jersey, was charged with a Level 2 Felony of Dealing in a Controlled Substance.  Padilla was being held on a $15,000 cash bond and had his initial hearing yesterday.

USDA Targets Organic Produce Fraud

(Washington D.C) - USDA wants to close the window of opportunity for fraud in the sale of produce not organic as advertised.

 

According to USDA, the potential for fraud in the organic produce market has grown since demand for fruits and vegetables sold at higher "organic" prices has exploded.  In the U.S. alone, total sales of organic agricultural products grew from $3.4 billion in 1997 to $55.1 billion in 2019, USDA said.  As a result, the supply chain now includes handlers not covered by existing labeling restrictions, according to USDA.

 

“The absence of direct enforcement authority over some entities in the organic supply chain, in combination with price premiums for organic products, presents the opportunity and incentive for organic fraud,” USDA said.

 

According to USDA, fraud has been discovered by the National Organic Program and other stakeholders in the industry.  Under the USDA proposal, amendments to the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 include more oversight and enforcement over the production, handling and sale of organic agricultural products.

 

Specific proposals include reducing the amount of importers, brokers, traders and other uncertified entities in the supply chain operating without USDA oversight and requiring more NOP Import Certificates or equivalent data for all organic products entering the U.S.

 

Among the other proposed measures are closing loopholes on labeling requirements for nonretail containers used in shipping and storage to reduce mishandling and improve traceability.

 

There would also be a minimum number of unannounced inspections of certified operations and supply chain audits completed during on-site inspections.

 

Other proposed steps include establishing specific qualification and training requirements for certified personnel and easier to understand regulations on imports and tightened rules governing enforcement for violators from other countries.

 

The National Farmers Union, which has expressed concern about the authenticity of organic food labeling, is among the stronger supporters of the proposed action.

 

NFU president Rob Larew said many family farmers turning to organic produce to bolster profits because of low commodity prices are being undercut by lower priced fruits and vegetables falsely advertised as organic.

 

“Inaccurate organic labeling misleads and cheats consumers, harms the reputation of the label and cuts into the profits of farmers who play by the rules.  We owe it to both food producers and purchasers to enforce organic standards without exception,” Larew said.

 

According to USDA, the skyrocketing growth in sales has made it easier for fraudulent handlers of organic produce to enter the supply chain.

 

Organic products once marketed locally and regionally for the most part tended to be short and transparent.

 

The supply chain is more complex and difficult to trace now since higher demand has brought more producers, handlers, suppliers, importers, brokers, distributors and others into the industry, USDA said.

 

According to the Agricultural Marketing Service, which oversees the NOP under USDA, an update of the regulations to fill in gaps caused by sharp growth in the industry is long overdue.

 

“A lack of clear and specific standards in portions of the regulations has sometimes led to different interpretations of the regulations, inconsistent practices and unequal enforcement across the industry.  This can lead to mishandling of organic product, loss of organic integrity and fraud.  The provisions of this proposed rule are designed to address these risks,” AMS said.

 

If approved, the changes would be the first significant revisions to the regulations governing the certification of organic produce since they were originally adopted in 2000, USDA said.

Green Technology Company Bringing Jobs

(Michigan City, IN) - About 100 new jobs are coming to Michigan City.  Aquagenics Technologies is moving its headquarters and manufacturing facility from the Chicago area to the former Joy Manufacturing site on South Woodland Ave.  The bioscience company makes environmentally safe products like filters and household cleaning solutions. 

 

Mayor Duane Parry said it’s significant that some of the vacant space at the partially empty industrial complex is going to be occupied.  Officials said tax abatement was recently granted by the city on the company’s projected $10 million investment.  The wages will be very competitive and much of the move is expected to be completed before the end of the year, officials said.

 

Aquagenics Technologies develops anti-microbial technologies used in water treatment, filtration and sanitation.  Its customers are in the retail, industrial, medical and government sectors, officials said.

Arrests in Plot to Kidnap Governor

(Washington D.C.) - More than a dozen people have been charged in connection with a plot to kidnap the governor of Michigan.  According to federal authorities, many of the suspects are part of a domestic terror group who devised the plot.

 

The use of explosives and a taser were included in plans to storm the capitol building and the governor’s residence, authorities said.

 

Authorities said the goal was to kidnap the governor prior to the November 3 election.

Federal Prison for Child Pornography

(South Bend, IN) - A North Judson man is off to a federal prison.  41 year old Henry Wood was convicted in U.S District Court at South Bend of downloading child pornography.

 

Federal prosecutors said he had more than 2,000 images including videos of children engaged in sex acts.  Wood received a 14 year prison sentence.  Authorities said he’s a gang member with an extensive criminal history.

Football Rivalry Game Tonight

(La Porte, IN) - In high school football, La Porte takes on Michigan City tonight.  The game is at Ames Field in Michigan City.

 

The much improved 2-5 Slicers could have a chance against the speedy 4 and 1 Wolves.  The Slicers defeated Crown Point last week.

 

The game will be broadcast live on 96.7 The Eagle beginning with the pregame show at 6:45 p.m.

School Lockdown and Arrest

(Kingsbury, IN) - A La Porte County man gave himself up to police yesterday, after a nearby school was placed on lockdown. 

 

Cameron Woodham, 21, was being held in the La Porte County Jail without bond.  According to police, sheriff’s deputies were called to Spring Creek Trail in Kingsbury on a report of a domestic dispute.  He left the residence before officers arrived, police said.

 

About two hours later, police said officers were called back to the home after Woodham

returned.  He allegedly fled again before the arrival of officers who began searching for him near

Kingsbury Elementary School.  The school was placed on lockdown as a precaution.

 

Police said Woodham, several minutes later, surrendered to officers.  Woodham was wanted at the time for failure to return to unlawful detention, Police said.

No Guilty Plea in Child Pornography Case

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man did not plead guilty today, as expected, for having naked images of children on his computer.  74 year old Jimmie Jackson allegedly had close to a thousand images on his laptop.

 

According to court documents, Jackson took his laptop in to have it fixed about two years ago.   Police say a technician discovered numerous explicit images of children on the hard drive that was locked up from a virus.

 

Jackson is charged with six felony counts.   During a hearing in La Porte Circuit Court this morning, in which Jackson was offered the chance to plead guilty, he chose to stand trial on the allegations.

 

He was given a July 12 trial date. 

 

 

Green Light Flashes for Truck Stop

(Michigan City, IN) - The road have been paved for a truck stop to go up outside Michigan City.  A zoning change for Love’s Travel Center was given final approval Wednesday by the La Porte County Commissioners.

 

The truck stop is planned for U.S 421 just south of Interstate 94.  Water and sewer lines will start being run underneath Interstate 94 to the site in the coming weeks, said Matt Reardon with the La Porte County Office and Community Development.

 

Reardon said a number of companies have submitted bids already for the water and sewer line extensions.  He said as many as 50 people are projected to work at the truck stop which is expected to start being constructed in the spring.

No Change with In-School Instruction in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - School buildings in La Porte, in response to current COVID-19 figures, will be open five days again next week.  La Porte County remains in the yellow under a color coded system developed by the state to decide how often school buildings are open weekly during the pandemic.

 

La Porte County was code blue until downgraded to yellow last week when diminishing COVID-19 figures began rising.  Under the yellow code, school buildings can remain open five weeks during the week as long as more stringent steps are taken to make sure all safety precautions, like wearing masks, are being adhered to, said La Porte Community School Corporation Superintendent Mark Francesconi.

 

“What comes along with that is an increased vigilance on our behalf,” he said.  On Thursday, the Indiana State Department of Health reported 47 new cases of coronavirus in La Porte County.  The seven day positivity rate in La Porte County stood Thursday at 7.7%.

 

There’s been change in the positivity rate here for about the past seven days.  According to school officials, 6 students and 7 staff members in La Porte tested positive for the virus last week.  In comparison, just 6 positive cases turned up during the first 5 weeks of the school year.

Priorities Differ in State Representative Race

(Michigan City, IN) - The focus seems different among the candidates running for Indiana State Representative out of District 9.  

 

Pat Boy, a Democrat, is challenged by Republican Dion Bergeron in her bid for a second four-year term.  Boy, 70, was in the final year of her fourth term on the Michigan City Common Council when she decided to run for the seat once held by Scott Pelath who did not seek an 11th two-year term.

           

She said one of her priorities is making sure politics has nothing to do with the upcoming redrawing of the district boundaries in response to the 2020 census.  Currently, Boy said many of the unusually shaped districts for state office holders contain a disproportionate share of republican voters which might have something to do with the GOP having a supermajority in the house and senate.  “I’m not saying somebody is doing something wrong.  I’m just saying it should be more non-partisan,” she said.

 

Also high on her campaign platform is safer disposal of coal ash from electric generating stations across the state.  Leaching from coal ash disposed by NIPSCO is blamed for ground water contamination in The Pines, now served by municipal water from Michigan City to alleviate the public health threat.  She also wants to require companies give public notice of any hazardous waste spills and impose fines for failure to do so.

 

Boy said she also plans to push for an increase in the state’s minimum wage, which remains at $7.25 per hour.  “We have so many people who are living right at the edge of poverty or below the poverty level.  Some of them work two minimum wages jobs and if you have kids it’s that much worse,” she said.

 

Dion Bergeron, 46, of Trail Creek is a former over the road truck driver and worked at Indiana State Prison prior to becoming a real estate agent.

 

His top priorities include affordable health care.  Bergeron said one way of attacking the problem is the state helping more elderly residents pay their monthly premiums for Medicare.

 

“Medicare premiums are often the difference between a person being able to afford groceries and having to live at the food bank,” he said.

 

Bergeron said he also wants to make sure everything is being done to help existing businesses grow and bring in new companies.  “We see all of these jobs going all over the state. Nothing comes here,” he said.  Maintaining an equal presence throughout the district is also high on his to do list.

 

Bergeron said people from places like Chesterton, Westville and Wanatah feel like their voices are not being heard since the focus of the current office holder seems to be more on Michigan City.  “They just don’t feel represented,” he said.

Even More Jobs Created at Warehouse

(Westville, IN) - The reopening of a food warehouse in Westville is producing more jobs than originally predicted.  More than 20 million dollars was invested in the once vacant facility on U.S 421.

 

Dollar General using it to store and move product is the main tenant of the spacious structure formerly occupied by major food handlers like Spartan Nash and Eagle.  La Porte County Commission president Sheila Matias said 80 jobs were originally projected but more than 190 people are employed there right now.

 

Dollar General first occupied the structure over a year ago.

At Last - Major Rail Service Coming to Kingsbury

(La Porte, IN) - Kingsbury Industrial Park will finally be served by a major rail line.

 

The over decade long effort paid off when the La Porte County Commissioners on Wednesday approved a contract for connecting the park to the CSX Railroad.

 

Eventually, the plan is to connect the park to another major trunk line owned by Canadian National Railroad.

The hope is two Class 1 railroads serving both ends of the park will attract major industries.

 

“It’s been a long, long haul. We’re glad to see it at this stage,” said La Porte County Commission president Sheila Matias.

 

JBC Rail will install 4,500 linear feet of track to connect existing rail inside the park to the CSX trunk line, said Matt Reardon with the LaPorte County Office of Economic and Community Development.

 

“We’re going to connect the dots,” he said.

 

JBC Rail will also operate the rail spur installed in 2013 for diverting CSX trains to and from the main trunk line once the connection was made.

 

Reardon said all of the new rail tying into the trunk line could be laid before the end of the year.

 

“We’re ready to go,” he said.

 

The work is being funded with a $1 million grant from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

 

Reardon said the connection with Canadian National will happen once financing for that project has been secured.

 

The industrial park contains 8,000 acres.

 

Much of the land consists of the Kingsbury Fish and Wildlife area.

 

Some of the remaining ground is used for things such as light industrial, warehousing and farming.

 

Reardon said about 2,000 acres zoned for heavy manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and trans-loading is available for development.

 

Originally, fresh produce from Florida unloaded from trains and placed on trucks for local delivery was the vision for the park when the push began for making the trunk line connections.

 

A deal with the interested company never materialized, though.

 

Legal problems between developers and property owners along with matters related to acquiring easements for laying the new track were also factors in holding up the trunk line connection.

 

Reardon said the park is on the radar screens of developers hesitant to invest until the site is served by a major rail carrier.

 

“It’s exciting to be at this point,” said LaPorte County attorney Shaw Friedman, a key figure in further developing the park from the beginning.

 

La Porte County spent $6 million toward the cost of developing the rail spur.

 

Those funds will be returned from property taxes generated when new development increases the current assessed value of the land, officials said.

Early Voters Encounter Long Lines

(La Porte County, IN) - The lines have been long for early voting at the polls in La Porte and Michigan City.  There was an up to 90 minute wait Tuesday at the La Porte County Complex when the early voting polls there first opened.  The wait there was about 20 minutes at 10 a.m. today but, one hour later, the line had nearly doubled in size.

 

Several early voters we spoke to said they voted early not so much out of fear of contracting COVID-19 at the polls during Election Day on November 3.  It was to avoid lines they expect to be longer on Election Day and they were going to be out of town on Election Day.

 

Similar lines were reported in Michigan City where early voting at the polls is available at the County Government complex on West 8th Street.

 

Poll worker Debra Birkholz advised people wanting to avoid long lines to wait to vote early since early voting at both locations is open until 12 p.m. the day before the election.

Davis Hopes to Unseat Bohacek in Senate Race

(Michigan City, IN) - A longtime local attorney is hoping to unseat incumbent Mike Bohacek in the Indiana State Senate District 8 race.  Gary Davis, 63, a Democrat, is running against Bohacek, a Republican, nearing the end of his first four-year term.

           

Davis grew up in Michigan City and lives on a small northern La Porte County farm.  Once a La Porte County deputy prosecutor, Davis represents mostly clients seeking workman’s compensation benefits in Indiana and Social Security disability payments.

           

Davis said his top priority is more money for under-funded schools.  He said Indiana teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation and the amount of money per student in the state is close to the bottom.  "It’s just gotten worse.  We have to change it,” Davis said.

           

Davis said he would also push to increase pay for workers in the state where the minimum wage remains at $7.25 per hour.  He also wants to boost workman’s compensation benefits and give protections to workers let go from their jobs.  "Unless you’re in a union or have a contract, you can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all.  I’ve seen it happen so many times to people who have given their heart and soul to their company,” Davis said.

 

Bohacek, 51, of Michiana Shores, is a former two term La Porte County Commissioner.  He’s also a station owner through Echo Global Logistics in Chicago.  Bohacek said his top priorities are reducing prescription drug costs, more funding for education and no defunding of the police.  He’s currently working on legislation to discourage huge price mark-ups by requiring full disclosure of drug costs upon receipt starting at the wholesale level until the products reach the consumer.

 

In some cases, he said drug costs end up being three times greater than the original price.

“I think once we start peeling back this onion and showing these unnaturally high profits it’ll start lowering some costs,” Bohacek said.

 

Bohacek said he wants more funding for education but wants those dollars used strictly for teacher pay hikes and other expenses directly tied to classrooms.  He doesn’t want extra money to go for things like hiring more administrators when need isn’t supported by student head counts and other data.

 

Bohacek said he’s also crafting a measure to limit the amount police and fire department funding can be cut.  Under his proposal, police and fire department budgets could be scaled back only by the percentage of tax revenue local governments lost in collections from the previous year.

 

Bohacek said he supports law enforcement being assisted by mental health professionals and social workers but not defunding the police movement spreading across the nation.  “I cannot support using it as a political bargaining chip,” he said.

Slightly Higher Heating Bills in the Winter Forecast

(Merrillville, IN) - NIPSCO is predicting a slight increase in heating bills this winter.  According to NIPSCO, a six-percent increase in the forecast would mean the average customer paying about $5 more a month than last year to heat their homes.

 

NIPSCO said the price of natural gas is near historic lows but a slight rate increase is needed to cover the overall cost of natural gas being higher.  Projections take into account market forecasts, supply trends and storage levels and are based on normal weather projections. If temperatures are colder or warmer than normal, usage amounts and bills could differ, NIPSCO said.

 

According to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, NIPSCO is the lowest-cost natural gas provider in the state for the last 10-years.

Police Bonding with Citizens During Night Out

(Portage, IN) – 8-year old Sam Stone of Portage gave a thumbs-up after sitting in a police car for the very first time.

            

His mother, Jenni Shelton, also brought her three teenage daughters who seemed to especially their visit with a full-blooded lab police dog.

            

The family was among a few hundred people who showed up Tuesday for the annual National Night Out event hosted by the Portage Police Department at Founders Square Park from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

            

Shelton said her goal was teaching her children not to fear the police and show them “they’re good guys. They’re on our side.”

            

8-year old Dylan Trudeau also of Portage looked thrilled to be inside an armored police rescue vehicle.

            

He described the experience as like being in one of his favorite superhero cartoons.

            

“I haven’t seen too many things that are actually bulletproof,” he said.

            

Also popular was the department’s mobile SWAT Command Center with a machine gun, remote control robot, infrared cameras and other specialized equipment used in hostage and other major situations.

           

A mobile crime scene unit, all-terrain police vehicles and a fire department ladder truck were featured, too. 

 

Officers casually mingled with the crowd and answered their questions as they stopped by each of the displays. 

 

Free hot dogs fresh off the grill were also served along with cold pop and bottled water.

 

Cindi Leeper of Hobart took pictures of her two-year old son, Noah, smiling after hugging and petting Odin, a K9 with the department.

 

The dog's handler, officer Roger Peele, also welcomed the interaction especially with the children.

 

It’s not what he usually experiences working midnights on the streets.

 

“I don’t get to be around a whole lot of kids in good situations so this is great,” he said.      

 

National Night Out typically held the first Tuesday in August was delayed nationwide this year because of COVID-19. 

            

Social distancing and masks were part of the experience. 

 

Sgt. Rob Maynard said the purpose of the event is more than just taking a stand against crime.

 

It’s about enhancing or developing bonds between police and the citizens they serve by showing officers are no different from anyone else.

 

“We’re all part of this community.  I grew up in Portage.  My kids are going to school here. We’re not a separate force that just roams the city. We’re all in this together,” he said.

Local Man Convicted of Federal Gun Charges

(South Bend, IN) - A Michigan City man is facing federal prison time.  30 year old Rapheal Seay was found guilty of being a felon in possession of a firearm.  A federal court jury reached the conviction after a two day trial.

 

According to prosecutors, during a traffic stop in Michigan City last year Seay was found with a loaded 9 millimeter firearm with an extended magazine.  At the time, authorities said he was on federal supervised release on a previous firearms related conviction.

Fatal Motor Vehicle Crash into Pole

(New Carlisle, IN) - A New Carlisle woman was killed when her car struck a utility pole yesterday.

 

Police said it appears 26-year old Brooke Colglazier may have fallen asleep at the wheel.  She was on Timothy Road when she hit the pole near Chicago Trail, just inside the St. Joseph County line about 9 a.m., police said.

 

Police said Colglazier was pronounced dead at the scene.

SOUND OFF with Guest Donald Rainwater

(La Porte, IN) - SOUND OFF is a community conversation forum on 96.7 The Eagle.  On Monday, Nate Loucks had Libertarian Governor Candidate, Donald Rainwater on Sound Off for your questions.  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).

COVID-19 La Porte County Update

(Indianapolis, IN) -  A lower level of COVID-19 cases were reported in La Porte County when the numbers were updated on the State's Coronavirus website today.  According to the Indiana State Department of Health, the number of new cases reported Tuesday in La Porte County was 13, following 34 new cases in La Porte County reported Monday.

 

The drop in numbers come following a shutdown of the testing site at the Civic Center for 48 hours over the weekend  The shutdown was promted due to a depleated supply of test kits, sources indicate.  The impact this has on the numbers reported today is unclear at this time.

 

Statistics released Tuesday also show the percentage of people testing positive the last seven days in La Porte County was 7.8%.  That’s unchanged from yesterday.

 

The positivity rate reported Tuesday in St. Joseph County is 4.2%; 5.0% in Porter County and 6.0% i

in Starke County.

 

The positivity rate in La Porte County was 2.7% on September 21.

GOP Chairman Agrees with the President

(La Porte, IN) - A local supporter of president Trump agrees with him that we shouldn’t be afraid of the coronavirus.  La Porte County Republican Party Chairman Mitch Feikes said there should be a balanced approach between people living their lives and taking the necessary precautions.

 

He said medicines have been developed in recent months to better treat the virus and reduce mortality rates.  “It’s still something that’s difficult to deal with, but we want to live our lives.  We can’t be locked down all of the time. People want the economy moving.  People want their life back,” Feikes said.

 

Feikes also said the president should do even better in his recovery from coronavirus now that he’s back at the White House after his release from the hospital Monday.   “You don’t get well at the hospital.  I know from experience.  Being home really makes a difference,” Feikes said.

TransPorte Resumes Partial Service

(La Porte, IN) - The city of La Porte’s bus service is rolling again.  According to the mayor’s office, partial service resumed at 9:30 this morning with one bus.

 

The service was suspended yesterday because a TransPorte worker tested positive for coronavirus.  In response, city employees are being tested and, so far, nobody else has turned up positive, according to the mayor's office.   Mayor Tom Dermody said more buses will be placed back into service as more negative test results come in. 

 

Dermody said the employee testing positive could face disciplinary action.  The individual did not inform the city of being tested until receiving the positive results several days later,  he said.  Dermody said employees are required to inform the city as soon as they're tested so they can be quarantined until the test results are known. 

 

The individual worked two more days after being tested, he said. 

State Responds to Dead Bee Allegations

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indiana Department of Health is defending itself against claims by a honey maker blaming the spraying of mosquitos for the death of half of his bees in La Porte County.

 

According to ISDH, the September 22 spraying was in response to a human case of Eastern Equine Encephalitis in LaPorte County and suspected cases of EEE in horses in LaPorte, LaGrange and Kosciusko counties, according to DNR.  The aerial spraying conducted by the ISDH took place over some 375,000 acres in parts of LaPorte, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Elkhart and Noble counties.

 

The ISDH said EEE is fatal in more than 30-percent of human cases and the pesticide used in the spraying, Dibrom, has been registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 1959 for use in the country.

 

ISDH officials also said the timing of the spraying was also conveyed to communities in advance of the application.  “Evening applications of Dibrom were not expected to be harmful to bees since bees are usually in their hives at that time, but beekeepers were advised that they might want to cover their hives and prevent bees from exiting during the application as a precaution,” ISDH officials said.

 

Phil Janik, Jr., also known as “The Hoosier Bee Man,” has 75 hives at his home near Michigan City.  He said the spraying began about 5 p.m. when half of his bees were still foraging away from their hives.  The bees after spraying started never returned to their hives as they always do prior to nightfall, he said.

 

Janik also said he didn’t close his hives until several hours after the spraying began fearing they would die from lack of ventilation if covered sooner as recommended.  Nevertheless, he said half of his other dead bees succumbed to heat exhaustion despite keeping his hives closed from a shorter duration.

 

Janik said he was given advance notice but wished it would have come sooner to make sure the recommended safeguards for protecting his bees were accurate.  “It’s like the old saying. A day late and a dollar short. I’m a dollar short right now,” he said.

 

Information about the spraying was also shared statewide and with local health departments in the affected counties four days prior to the aerial application of the pesticide, according to ISDH.

 

According to the U.S. EPA, Dibrom is used primarily to control adult mosquitos.  It’s also registered to control black flies and leaf eating insects on a variety of fruits, vegetables and nuts.  About 70-percent of the pesticide is used in mosquito control and rest for use in agriculture, EPA said.

 

According to U.S. EPA, the chemical can also kill bees outside of their hives at the time of spraying which is why applications typically occur between dusk and dawn when mosquitos are most active.  U.S EPA also recommends beekeepers cover their colonies during spraying or move their colonies to another site that will not be sprayed.

 

Janik said losing so many bees will put a dent in what promised to be a strong fall honey crop.  “I had them geared up and ready for the winter.  I had honey supers on everything trying to capture that last blast of goldenrod and aster honey coming in for the winter,” Janik said.  Janik said he’s now trying hard to get his surviving bees to repopulate fast enough for him to have a decent spring harvest of honey.  “Trying to get it built back up is my mission right now,” Janik said.

 

Janik, 57, grew up in nearby Valparaiso but after retiring in Florida moved back to Northwest Indiana about five-years ago to help take care of his parents.  He then started making honey because of his interest in bees dating back to when he was a child.

 

Janik said he and his brother as a game used to catch and place bees in glass jars and whoever got stung was punched in the arm.  His bees usually produce about 6,000 pounds of honey annually but without much of a fall crop the volume this year could be reduced by as much as 50-percent.

 

Most of his sales are from people showing up at his doorstep while the rest is done online at hoosierbeeman.com.  “It’s not a good situation but I’ll get through it,” he said.

Dumpster Program Extended

(La Porte, IN) - A dumpster program in the city of LaPorte has been extended because of high demand.  Code Enforcement Director Jeff Batchelor said dumpsters have been emptied 70 times since they were set out for the public to use earlier this year.

 

Batchelor said one dumpster, during the extended clean up period, was placed beside Pine Lake Avenue at Waverly Road.  He said where the second dumpster will be placed, during the extended period for the clean-up program, will be decided in the near future.

 

Batchelor said the city’s urban enterprise association funded the cost initially and is paying for the dumpsters to be out for the extended period as well.

COVID-19 Surge Continues

(Indianapolis, IN) - The surge in COVID-19 locally and different areas of the state is continuing.  The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) on Monday reported 34 new cases in La Porte County, which brings the total during the Pandemic at 1,687 cases .

 

According to ISDH officials, the percentage of people testing positive In La Porte County the past seven days has increased to 7.8%.  That's an increase from a seven day positivity rate on Friday of 6.2% and 5.6% positivity rate on Thursday.  Recently, the seven day positivity rate had dipped below 3.0% and was at 2.7% on September 21st. 

 

In surrounding counties, both Porter and St. Joseph reported near a 5.0% seven day positivity rate on Monday.

 

COVID-19 hospitalization are also up in La Porte County.  There was a 26% increase in hospitalizations from August (19 total) to September (24 total through 9/29).  In September, 20 of the 24 hospitalizations occurred in the last half of the month (9/15 - 9/29).

 

COVID-19 deaths are also on the rise.  The coronavirus claimed four La Porte County lives in August.  That has increased to nine La Porte County deaths in September.  There has been one death so far in October.

 

Bison Prove They're For Real

(New Buffalo, MI) - The young New Buffalo High School football team showed they’re for real with a comeback victory at home against a high powered senior laden squad.

 

The Bison after a pair of blowout victories to start the season defeated Wyoming Tri-Unity Christian School 28 to 26.

 

Head Coach Matt Johnson said his players showed just how far they’ve come from last year when they lost to the same team 60-0 and finished the season with just one victory.

 

“They passed the test,” he said.

 

The Bison down 12-0 in the first quarter went into halftime with a 14-12 lead.

 

A 35 yard run by quarterback Michael Bombin who three plays later completed a 1-yard pass to Stephen Margaritis in the end zone started the scoring for New Buffalo.

 

The Bison struck again when Brenden Tanksley following a 30 yard run by Ben Coffeen scored off a short pass from the 12 yard line.

 

Wyoming Tri-Unity Christian School on their next series of downs completed a 67 yard pass to the three yard line of the Bison.

 

Anthony Lijewski intercepted the next pass in the end zone to keep the opposition from scoring again before halftime.

 

After both teams exchanged leads in the third quarter, the Bison found themselves behind again on a kickoff returned for a touchdown.

 

The Bison still trailing mid-way through the 4th quarter lined up to punt on fourth down with 18 yards to go for a first down.

 

The snap went to Bombin instead of the punter.

 

Bombin ran for a 30 yard gain then a few plays later the Bison went ahead to stay on a  short touchdown run by Coffeen with three minutes left on the game clock.

 

Tri-Unity Christian was threatening to score again when stopped by Tanksley sacking the quarterback and Bombin intercepting a pass.

 

The Bison then ran out the clock.

 

Johnson said it would have been easy to give up after falling behind such a talented squad but his players showed what they’re made of by coming back.

 

“There’s a certain level of tenacity that this team has that makes them a special group of kids,” he said.

T

he Bison play again Friday at 7 p.m. at Bridgman.

Transporte Suspended Because of COVID-19

(La Porte, IN) - The city of La Porte has suspended its bus service after an employee with the public transportation system, known as Transporte, tested positive for COVID-19.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said Transporte buses are being deep cleaned and Transporte employees are being tested.  He said other city employees who may have had direct contact with the infected person will also be tested.

 

Dermody said the worker was tested Wednesday and revealed the positive results this morning.  He said when Transporte will resume service depends on when the test results of other city employees come back, which could be as early as Wednesday.

 

Dermody said the worker was tested September 30th, but did not inform anyone of being tested.  City employees are required to notify the city of being tested so they can be quarantined until the results come back.  He said the employee, in this case, worked for two consecutive days after being tested and policy is being followed to decide if the employee possible disciplinary action.

Lakefront Flooding Solution in Place

(New Buffalo, MI) - Almost constant flooding on Whittaker St. near the beach in New Buffalo should be a thing of the past following a recent construction project.  A 40 foot stretch of the road north of the bridge on Whittaker Steet was reconstructed last week for about $44,000.

           

City Manager Dave Richards said a low spot where flood water collected is now level.  The road was also slightly tilted to send water during storms toward the lake and into a 30 foot long swale constructed between the sidewalk and Galien River.  Richards said the two to three feet deep swale was also equipped with a pump to discharge water from the man made cavity into the river.  "So far, it’s working well,” he said.

           

Prior to the reconstruction, that section of Whittaker Street developed numerous pot holes from high water gathering not just during storms.  Water was backing up from the river being swollen and deposited on the street through a storm drain along the curb across from Harbor Pointe condominiums.  Eventually, Richards said the badly deteriorated stretch of Whittaker Street was turned into a gravel surface which was easier to maintain until a solution to the flooding was in place.

           

The storm drain was filled with concrete during the summer to stop the discharges from the river which has risen from the record high water levels on Lake Michigan.  “I think it was a good deal for a temporary fix that should last several years,” Richards said.

Car and Train Collide in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - A car and train collided in Michigan City over the weekend.  There are reports of injury.  The crash happened Saturday at the CSX tracks at Ohio St. on the city’s west side.  A number of streets were temporarily closed because of the crash.

 

We’ll provide more details on hometownnewsnow.com as they’re made available.

Former Mayor Questions President's Leadership on Coronavirus

(La Porte, IN) - Former La Porte mayor Leigh Morris says he wishes the president and first lady well in their recoveries from COVID-19.  Morris, though, is critical of the president for not setting a good example by seemingly taking the virus too lightly.

 

It’s believed President Trump and other political figures contracted the virus recently at a gathering for U.S Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.  Trump and many others in attendance were not wearing masks or practicing social distancing in a video of the event.  “I’m really concerned about the example that he sets,” said Morris, a former chairman of the La Porte County Republican Party. 

 

Morris was also critical of Trump for leaving the hospital momentarily yesterday to greet his supporters across the street.  “You have to yield sometimes to people who know more than you do about what’s good for you and physicians in this case are the ones who need to be in control of helping him come back to good health again,” said Morris.

 

Morris is also a former president and chief executive officer at La Porte Hospital.

La Porte County Week in Review - Week of 9/27/20

(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 27th through October 3rd:

 

#5:  Watchful Officer Makes Drug Bust

 

#4:  New Logo Unveiled for La Porte

 

#3:  Good Samaritan Thwarts Grocery Store Thief

 

#2:  Woman and Children Hurt in House Fire

 

#1:  Open Burning Leads to Barn Fire

 

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.

Christmas Train a No-Go this Season

(La Porte, IN)  - Another annual tradition has been sidelined by COVID-19.  The brightly lit "Holiday Train" that often passes through La Porte before Christmas will not make a run this year.


Canadian Pacific has decided to cancel the Midwest train run due to concerns related to the coronavirus outbreak.


The illuminated freight train is known for traveling through La Porte's downtown late at night on its early December commute from Windsor, Ontario. 

 

Lake Michigan Drownings Up in 2020

(Lake Michigan, USA) - Drownings in Lake Michigan are at a 10-year high.  That's according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, an advocacy group that monitors lake safety.


So far in 2020, 53 people have drowned in Lake Michigan, as compared to 48 and 42 drownings the past two years, respectively.  The most recent water death locally happened September 7 when a Fort-Wayne area teenage girl drowned near Michigan City's lighthouse pier.

Area Steel Company Sold

(Cleveland, OH) - A large steel company with local ties has been sold.  ArcelorMittal has been sold to Cleveland-based steelmaker Cleveland-Cliff Inc.  ArcelorMittal has several facilities in northwest Indiana and has a partial interest in I/N Tek-I/N Kote in the New Carlisle area. 

 

The acquisition was valued at $1.4 billion.  According to a press release, the deal will make Cleveland-Cliffs the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America.

High School Football Officials Adapt to COVID Uncertainties

(Crown Point, IN) - One way or another, Indiana high schools have found a way to play football.  Coaches and players aren’t the only ones adapting.  So are the referees.

 

Andy Simpson of Crown Point is a 29-year veteran of officiating.  He represents the north region for the state’s football officials association, and he refs football games all over this area.  He says staying healthy enough to play has become a team effort in itself.  All the players he has encountered express joy in being able to play.  And they tell him they're all taking proper precautions in and out of school to stay COVID-free.

 

Calling the games, however, has become a lot less hands-on.  "It's been different," he says, "I can't reach down and pick the kids up anymore; I can't tap them on the shoulder and say, 'Great play.'  It's just totally different now.  The personal communication effect is kind of gone away, so now we do it from a distance.  But it is what it is.  We need to do the things that will allow us to play football."

 

A far bigger issue, Simpson says, is finding enough officials to cover the games.  Unfortunately, a perennial shortage of referees has been made worse by fears of COVID-19.  "Some crews, with COVID, decide that they don't want to officiate," Simpson says.  Early in the season, the ref shortage was offset by cancelled games due to coronavirus concerns.  As more teams head back to the gridiron, athletic directors are scrambling to find available officiating crews.  Simpson says school administrators have worked hard to adjust their game schedules around the availability of quality officials.

 

Right now, football playoff plans have not changed.  Teams and officials are still anticipating a championship march to Lucas Oil Field.  Sectionals begin in just a few weeks.

Slicers Deliver Homecoming Victory

(La Porte, IN) - It was Homecoming at La Porte High School last night and the Slicers delivered a Homecoming Victory with a 24 to 14 win over Crown Point.

 

Honored as the Homecoming King was Mark Franklin, representing Business Professionals.  And, from the National Honor Society, Sophie Sorg won Homecoming Queen.

 

At other area schools, 8th-ranked Michigan City rolled over Portage 28-7.  The Wolves host La Porte next week.  New Prairie travelled to South Bend Riley last night and the Cougars shredded the Wildcats 38-0.

Voter Registration Ending Monday

(Anywhere, IN) - Voter registration for the upcoming elections closes on Monday.


To register, visit IndianaVoters.in.gov and follow the "Apply Now" link under "Register to Vote"


Early voting will begin on Tuesday. Four locations around LaPorte County will be open for early voting: The County Complex offices in LaPorte and Michigan City as well as the former Coolspring Library branch, and the Wanatah Town Hall.

 

SOUND OFF with guest Tim Gust

(La Porte, IN) - SOUND OFF is a community conversation forum on 96.7 The Eagle.  Every Friday on SOUND OFF, Nate Loucks invites a guest of public interest onto the program.  This week, Indiana State Representative Candidate, Tim Gust joined Sound Off for your questions.  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).

Coliseum Proposed for Fairgrounds

(La Porte, IN) - There’s serious talk about constructing a coliseum at the La Porte County Fairgrounds.  The proposed facility, with seating for roughly 2,000 people, would allow for major indoor events like horse shows and automobile shows, said Keith Swanson, a member of the La Porte County Agricultural Association.  The LCAA operates the fair.

 

Swanson, who’s also with the Fair Management and Events Corporation, said he would like for the coliseum to go up in the next two to three years.  The FMEC runs the fairgrounds and was formed recently to book events at the fairgrounds on a more year round basis.  Swanson said preliminary plans call for the coliseum to be open air on the sides with curtains that can be pulled down on the sides to allow the facility to be heated on cold days. 

 

It's estimated the cost to build facility will be about $1 million dollars.  Financing could be paid with fees charged for hosting events.

 

Swanson said the plan is to further discuss the proposed facility  with La Porte County government, which owns the fairgrounds.

Woman and Children in Fire Doing OK

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte woman and her two young children are apparently doing well after a close call with a fire inside their home Thursday. 

 

According to La Porte Police, 23 year old Holly Hulett was in bed with her children, ages 2 and 4, in their lower level apartment at 215 Rockwood St.  She woke up about 8:30 a.m. to her children crying and immediately saw smoke.  Hulett said the smoke was so heavy she couldn’t see but she managed to get down the hallway and out the door with her children and dog, according to police.

 

Police said the hair on Hulett and her children was singed and they had smoke and ash residue on their bodies.  According to police, they appeared in good condition but were taken to the hospital to be looked over.

 

The tenant of the second floor apartment was not home at the time. 

 

The cause of the fire was not known but the investigation is continuing, said La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder.  Damage was estimated at $80,000, police said.

Virus Surge Not High Enough to Close Schools

(La Porte, IN) - School buildings in the La Porte Community School Corporation will continue being open five days next week despite the number of COVID-19 cases rising locally. 

 

Schools Superintendent Mark Francesconi said the Indiana State Department of Health has moved La Porte County from blue to yellow under a color coded system governing the amount of days school buildings can be open.  The change was in response to an increase in the number of people countywide testing positive for the virus.

 

Francesconi said a yellow code means schools can be open the following week for five days under stricter guideless like greater social distancing in buildings.  “Increased vigilance on our behalf is what this calls for,” he said.  

 

According to the ISDH, the previous seven day positivity rate in La Porte County increased from 5.6 percent Wednesday to 6.2 percent on Thursday based on figures released on Friday.  The positivity rate in La Porte County had recently dipped below three-percent before surging to current levels.

 

Francesconi said about a dozen students and staff members tested positive for the virus this week.  The highest number of students and staff members testing positive in any previous week was three, he said.  He indicated a factor in the number of cases rising is an increase in the amount of people being tested.  “Our numbers are reflected in that as well,” he said.

Adopted Dog with Cancer Dies

(St. Anne, IL) - An Illinois couple plans to give another stray dog whose days are numbered the time of their life but not until they’re done grieving the loss of their beloved “Marley”

           

The 14-year old pit bull with skin cancer when adopted by Jordan and Jen Chapman from a shelter in Michigan City went to Wrigley Field and did almost everything else on a bucket list for the dog before he was put down.

 

“Marley probably had the best seven months of his life,” Jordan Chapman said.  

 

The dog treated to an occasional hamburger, ice cream cone and other junk food in his new home at St. Anne was euthanized September 1.

 

Jordan said the dog was just as happy go lucky even after the start of what seemed like a rapid decline.

 

The cancerous sores on his skin treated with antibiotic cream to prevent infection were becoming larger.

 

He still moved well on level surfaces but stairs became impossible for him to climb from his already bad arthritis getting worse.

 

Jordan said Marley seemed to be holding his own until about the final month.

 

“One week he looked really, really good and the next week we’re like, oh man, we should really have a conversation here,” she said.

 

In January, the Chapman’s came across a social media post containing a picture of the dog up for adoption at Michiana Humane Society.

 

The post also revealed the dog had six months to live but he looked so lovable they paid him a visit.

 

Marley acted so much like a puppy they decided his life should end feeling extra special.

 

The Chapman’s seemed up to the task since Jordan is director of an animal shelter while Jen is a massage therapist for hospice patients.

 

Donations from people hearing about their mission and following his remaining days on social media paid for nearly all of his medical related costs.

 

Their journey included placing Marley into a fire truck and taking him for a walk on the beach.

 

The couple’s three-year old son, Alex, also gave the dog the first bite of every snack he opened.

 

Marley ended up weighing a normal 90 pounds or about twice what he weighed after picked up as a stray.

 

The only item on the bucket list not achieved was taking Marley for a boat ride because of COVID-19 keeping watercraft docked for much of the season.

 

Jordan said they plan on being end of life caregivers for a second dog but will let fate decide the animal they choose and when it will happen.

 

“The satisfaction of knowing you basically gave a dog a life they never would have gotten is so much better than dealing with it after they’re gone,” she said.

COVID-19 Cases Rising Locally

UPDATE:  10/2/20 @ 11:30am - the Indiana State Department of Health updatded their online numbers to include test results for October 1st.  Daily Positive tests for yesterday reached 38 postive results in La Porte County.  That's the highest number of single day positive cases since April 15th.

 

ORIGINAL STORY:

 

(Indianapolis, IN) - COVID-19 appears to be on the rise in La Porte County.  According to the Indiana State Department of Health, the percentage of people testing positive for the virus in La Porte County over the past seven days has risen to 5.6 percent.  Recently, the positivity rate in La Porte County had fallen to below three percent.

 

According the the state Coronavirus website, the number of Daily Positive Cases in La Porte County have been on the rise since September 23rd,  The current 7 day moving average is now at 22 new Daily Positive Cases.  According the data on the site, this marks the highest level of average Daily Positive Cases in the county since the Pandemic began.  The previous high mark came on August 24th when the daily average topped 15 cases. 

 

On Wednesday, the state reported 26 new cases in La Porte County.   The percentage of people testing positive has also gone up by similar amounts in Porter and St. Joseph counties.

President Trump, first lady test positive for COVID-19

(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a tweet from the president.

"Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19," Trump tweeted. "We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!"

Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 2, 2020

White House Dr. Sean Conley confirmed the news in a memorandum early Friday.

"This evening I received confirmation that both President Trump and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The President and First Lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain home at the White House during their convalescence," Conley wrote.

The first lady also tweeted early Friday morning, confirming the news.

"As too many Americans have done this year, @potus & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19. We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together," Melania Trump tweeted.

As too many Americans have done this year, @potus & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19. We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together.

— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) October 2, 2020

 

The news comes just four hours after it was revealed that one of the president's closest advisers, Hope Hicks, had tested positive.

Hicks had traveled with him to Ohio for the debate on Tuesday and to Minnesota for a rally on Wednesday.

Hicks was also on Marine One, the president's helicopter, when it left the White House to fly to Joint Base Andrews on Wednesday. She was seen walking to the helicopter with fellow top presidential advisers, such as Stephen Miller, Dan Scavino and Jared Kushner. None of them were wearing masks.

ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl reports that Hicks is experiencing symptoms.

"Not only did she test positive but we've also been told that she is symptomatic," Karl said Friday. "She is sick."

Trump was on the debate stage Tuesday night in Cleveland with Democratic presidential nominee former Vice President Joe Biden.

It was at the first presidential debate where Trump mocked Biden for wearing masks.

"I don't wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he's got a mask," he said Tuesday. "He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen."

Pres. Trump mocks Joe Biden on the issue of masks: "I don't wear masks like him. Every time you see him, he's got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away and he shows up with the biggest mask I've ever seen." https://t.co/5Bl4Ob3O2t #Debates2020 pic.twitter.com/OA3ffVcrkg

— ABC News (@ABC) September 30, 2020

 

The Biden campaign has yet to put out a public statement about the president's positive test result and it's unknown how Trump's diagnosis will impact the second debate and next week's vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris.

Pence sent his thoughts to the Trump family Friday, saying he's praying for their recovery.

"Karen and I send our love and prayers to our dear friends President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS Melania Trump. We join millions across America praying for their full and swift recovery. God bless you President Trump & our wonderful First Lady Melania," Pence tweeted.

Karen and I send our love and prayers to our dear friends President @realDonaldTrump and @FLOTUS Melania Trump. We join millions across America praying for their full and swift recovery. God bless you President Trump & our wonderful First Lady Melania.

— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) October 2, 2020

 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who landed Friday in Dubrovnik, Croatia, said he and his wife tested negative Friday morning for COVID-19. He said he hasn't seen the president since Sept. 15.

“We are praying for the President and First Lady that they’ll have a speedy recovery," Pompeo said Friday, according to the press pool. “I spoke with the vice president’s office this morning as well. We’re taking this obviously very seriously. And we’ll do everything we can to keep everyone safe including you all.”

In light of Trump's positive coronavirus test, the president has canceled Friday's rally. His only scheduled event is a closed press call on COVID-19 support to “vulnerable seniors.”

After holding an indoor rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in June that was lightly attended, the Trump campaign paused official rallies until mid-August. Since then, however, Trump has held 20 rallies since restarting them on Aug. 17. He held 15 rallies in September alone.

Stock futures immediately sold off on the news that Trump has tested positive for COVID-19.

At this time, the S&P 500 is pointing to a 1.5% lower open.

More than 7.27 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and at least 207,789 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Breakthrough in Hit and Run Fatality

(Michigan City, IN) - It appears a major lead has developed in a fatal hit and run accident in Michigan City last month.  Police have identified the make and model of the fleeing vehicle.

 

According to police, the dark colored vehicle is a GMC Terrain.  Model year could be anywhere from 2010 to 2017.  Police say the vehicle should have damage to the right front headlight assembly.  There could also be damage on the hood and right front fender.

 

Police say 46 year old Tara Stevens was crossing Michigan Boulevard when hit September 12th

in front of Creekside Bar and Grilll.

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police.

New Logo Unveiled for La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - The city of La Porte has designed and unveiled a new logo for marketing the community.  The new design features three pine trees with water in front of them, as a reflection of the lakes in the city.  Surrounding the image of the trees and water is an orange circle, reflecting upon our colors and pride in La Porte High School Slicers.  The logo also includes the new slogan “Livin’ the Lake Life". 

 

The new branding was unveiled today.  Mayor Tom Dermody said the new image represents what the city has to offer and promoting that image will give the city an edge in recruiting new companies and residents.

 

“We want to capitalize on what makes us unique.  Our city is blessed with lakes and natural resources that other cities only wish they had,” he said.

 

The city worked with a marketing firm out of Illinois on developing the new logo and slogan. 

Man Applauded for Confronting Store Thief

(La Porte, IN) - A man who confronted a thief in La Porte is being applauded for his actions.  According to police, things got physical between the unidentified man and thief fleeing Al’s

Supermarket with a woman’s wallet Tuesday afternoon.  The man dropped the wallet before getting into a vehicle that pulled up during the altercation and fleeing.

 

“It’s definitely commendable but it’s not something I would really recommend,” said La Porte Police Chief Paul Brettin.  Brettin said bystanders trying to stop suspects in a crime run the risk of the offenders having a weapon and possibly using it.

 

Police said the thief, described as a man about 40-years old, took the wallet from a woman’s shopping cart when she was not looking in one of the store aisles.  The victim called for help upon discovering the wallet missing from her purse. 

 

Brettin said police are hoping to identify the thief from surveillance video.

Woman and Children Hurt in House Fire

(La Porte, IN) - A woman and her two children were taken to a hospital after escaping from their burning home in La Porte this morning.  Firefighters responded to 215 Rockwood Street at about 8:30 a.m.  The two story structure contains two apartments on the lower and upper levels of the structure.

 

La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said responding firefighters encountered flames coming from the windows and front door on the lower level of the building.  Snyder said a woman and her young children, about two and four years of age, were already out of the house before firefighters arrived.  He said they were treated by paramedics for burns and smoke inhalation before taken to the hospital.  Snyder said their conditions were not known but called their injuries non-life threatening.

 

Damage to the lower apartment appeared extensive while damage to the second floor apartment was still being assessed, he said.  “It looks like there may have been some fire extension upstairs but we were able to get it under control pretty quickly,” Snyder said.

 

An investigation will begin soon on what caused the fire.

Watchful Officer Makes Drug Bust

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte City Police made a sizable drug bust this week.  Arrested were 22-year old Stanley Henderson of La Porte and 21-year old Dylan Coldiron of Knox.

 

According to Police, the suspects were occupants of a vehicle involved in a suspected drug deal Tuesday night in the 1400 block of Jefferson Avenue.  An officer followed the vehicle to the BP Station at the corner of Tyler Street and Lincolnway while observing their activities.  Another passenger entered the vehicle before leaving the BP Station.

 

The officer then pulled the vehicle over at Weller Avenue and Porter Street.  During the stop, Police say a plastic grocery store bag containing several ounces of synthetic marijuana was recovered.  More than $1,300 in cash and several smoking pipes were also seized.

 

Weather Center

High School Scoreboard

Sports Scores

Facebook