Local News Archives for 2020-11

Strong Winds Magnify Lake Michigan Erosion Concerns

(New Buffalo, MI) - In addition to snow, Mother Nature today is also providing very strong northerly winds heightening concerns about further erosion along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

 

The forecast calls for waves on Lake Michigan to reach up to 20 feet later today and tonight.

 

Bob Stratton with Service 1 Marine near the Michigan line estimated the waves in New Buffalo were already at 15 feet when he was at the lakefront late this morning.  With all boats out of their slips, Stratton said the major concern right now is further beach erosion with Lake Michigan still being at or near record high levels.

 

Over the past couple of years, some homes along the southern tip of Lake Michigan have fallen over the edge of eroded dunes while many others are at risk of toppling over.  Many of the beaches have been covered by water the past couple of years leaving shorelines with no beaches to break up the waves fully exposed to the power of incoming high waves.  Many lakefront property owners have had large rocks hauled in and placed on the shoreline to provide added protection. 

 

“It’s a very unfortunate situation,” Stratton said.

SOUND OFF on Housing Issues in LaPorte

(LAPORTE, IN) - On today's SOUND OFF episode with Nate Loucks, we talk about housing issues in LaPorte County, including code enforcement and low-incoming housing availability. 

 

SOUND OFF is a community conversation show that airs on 96.7 the Eagle every Monday and Friday from 12:15-1 PM. 

 

 

Proposed Sale of Marina Sinks

(New Buffalo, MI) - The proposed acquisition of Pleasure Isle Marina by the City of New Buffalo appears dead.  The city council during its November 23 meeting voted to meet again the following night to further discuss and vote on the proposed purchase agreement.  However, the meeting was cancelled when the owners, the William J. Deputy Foundation, withdrew its offer.

 

The foundation hoping to close on a deal by December 15 set a November 23 deadline for the city council to accept the proposal.

 

Mayor John Humphrey and two other newcomers to the city council, Roger Lijewski and Brian Flanagan, wanted extra time to further study and obtain additional public input on the proposal they were just recently handed.  The three new council members were elected on November 3.  “It was just too much thrown on our lap too soon,” Flanagan said.

 

Councilman Lou O’Donnell, IV, calling the proposed acquisition a “no brainer,” along with Mark Robertson were in favor of the proposed sale of the marina behind the Harbor Grand Hotel.  O’Donnell said he was extremely confident money would be made by the city which could sell the property back to the foundation at any time if the venture ended up in red ink.  He said profits from the marina could be invested in the public beach, the public boat launch and Lions Park.  “There’s zero risk. I don’t understand why we’re picking this apart,” O’Donnell said.

 

Humphrey, not convinced a profit could be turned, said the foundation would have to agree if asked by the city to purchase back the marina.  “I like the idea.   We just have to research this for the good of the people of this town,” he said.

 

City Attorney Nick Curcio said the sale price was $500,000 for 26 boat slips and the lower level of a two unit condominium.  The purchase would be financed by the city for five-years and profits from the marina could be used to make the installments.  Curcio said the condominium has been renting for $1,000 a month while each private slip was leased this year for $4,800 during the season.  He said operating expenses provided by the foundation were listed at about $25,000 annually.

 

Flanagan, a former 21-year employee at Service 1 Marine, said the operating expenses sounded “way too low.  I know what it takes to run marinas,” he said.

 

Curcio said the foundation would pay the city 90-percent of the original purchase price if it ever agreed to buy back the marina under several deed restrictions that would be in effect for 75-years.  Other deed restrictions for 25-years would include the city maintaining a separate account for revenue and expenses at the marina and providing an annual income report.

 

Curcio also said that once the current one-year leases on the slips expire, the city could make the slips available to the public to help address concerns about a public entity operating a private marina.  “The way it’s operating in year one doesn’t necessarily have to be how it’s operated in year 75 as long as the city is complying with the deed restrictions,” he said.

 

Humphrey said he would be more willing to agree to a sale if the upper level condominium was included to provide an extra revenue source and other adjustments were made in the proposed terms.  “I just have too many questions about the specifics of this deal.  I know there’s a better deal to be had if the foundation wanted to address these concerns,” he said.

 

Forecast - Lake Effect Snow Event Underway

(La Porte, IN) - Snow has arrived in Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan.  Winter Weather Alerts have been issued through today and into early tomorrow.  You can listen to the full forecast from Hometown News Now Staff Meteorologist, Wayne Mahar here:

 

The La Porte County Weather Forecast for today, Monday, November 30th:

 

 

 

 

We have a band of Lake Effect Snow that is organizing near La Porte.  We'll experience gusty North to Northwest winds for the remainder of the day, with substantial drifting likely.  Average accumulation along the Lake Effect Snow band of two to seven inches, with some areas of higher amounts of accumulation. 

 

We'll have a high temperature near 35 degrees today, with wind chills in the teens.  Low of 25 to 30 degrees for tonight.  The Lake Effect Snow will weaken by Tuesday morning with Sun likely in the afternoon.  Brisk winds and cold on Tuesday, with a high in the mid-30's.

Police Chase from Michigan City to La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - A police chase went from Michigan City to the city of La Porte yesterday.  The pursuit ended near Stone Lake when the tires on the fleeing vehicle were flattened by police with stop sticks.

 

The chase went by the home of former La Porte mayor Leigh Morris, who lives on North Lake Shore Drive.  Morris said he his wife Marcia just returned from church when they heard the pursuit approaching then race by their residence.  "Ten police cars were right behind them,” he said.  Morris said the chase ended just a few hundred feet later when the vehicle came to a stop.

 

La Porte County Police said the pursuit happened after the theft of items from Meijer.  The vehicle was found to be stolen from St. Joseph County.

 

Police said drugs and paraphernalia were also located in the vehicle.

 

The driver and passengers, both females, were charged, police said.

 

The name of the driver and other details have not been released because of the ongoing investigation, police said. 

Winter Storm Warning

(La Porte County, IN) - A winter storm warning is in effect for La Porte and some of the surrounding counties.  As much as six to ten inches of lake effect snow could be on the ground by tomorrow.

 

The winter storm warning is also in effect for Starke and Berrien counties.  Motorists are advised to utilize those winter driving skills.

 

According to weather forecasters, La Porte and Starke counties will see the brunt of the snow

today before winds switch more out of the northwest, pushing those lake effects bands more into

St. Joseph and Berrien counties beginning this evening.

Firearms Related Arrest During Traffic Stop

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police arrested a man for a handgun violation during a traffic stop.  32 year old Jeffrey Wade is charged with possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.

 

Police said he was stopped Friday afternoon for traffic violations on U.S 20 near Rolling Prairie.  A loaded pistol was allegedly recovered from the vehicle.  The Elkhart man was being held in the La Porte County Jail on $20,000 cash only bond.  He’s currently wanted in Elkhart County for an undisclosed offense.

Huge Turn Out for Socially Distanced Santa Parade

(La Porte, IN) - Vehicles in La Porte were backed up for a half mile Saturday to drive by a half dozen parade units parked along the curb and visit with Santa Claus behind plexiglass.  The line of vehicles on State Street stretching down Jackson Street and onto Lincolnway was just as long more than one hour later.

 

People kept showing up for a taste of Christmas spirit even at a social distance.  "I knew we were going to have a lot of people but this is definitely overwhelming," said Lindsey Jongkind, Director of Marking for the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership (LEAP).

 

To provide a sense of normalcy during the pandemic, LEAP opted for a socially distanced version of the annual Santa Parade which typically has five times as many units traveling  eastbound on Lincolnway.

 

Children were greeted with smiles and handed candy through car windows by people in holiday costumes wearing masks.  Snow flakes made from soap by a machine 15 feet above the ground close to the end of the route added to the festivities. 

 

Many paradegoers like Kayte Gardner of La Porte and her five children seemed to appreciate the event and enjoy it practically just as much. "We still get to see Santa.  Otherwise, we wouldn't have gotten to see anybody," said she.   Actually, I like it.  It's nice for the kids.  It really is," said Kristen Nunez, who brought her 7-year old Karter also of La Porte.

 

People only climbed out of their vehicles after pulling up for a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus at the old train depot on Washington Street.  Santa and Mrs. Claus were inside a chalet waving to the children and posing for pictures behind a sheet of plexiglass covering the front entranceway.  The conversations were kept short because it was hard to hear from behind the see through barrier.  Wish lists were placed into the slot of Santa's mail box on the front steps of his chalet.

 

Tammy Bealor and her grandchildren of La Porte were in their vehicle for more than one hour before the line reached Santa Claus.  "I had some excited kids wanting to see Santa so it's worth it," she said. 

 

La Porte mayor Tom Dermody and his wife, Jackie, waved and shouted "Merry Christmas" to the crowd from the elevated bucket of a fire truck.  "I can't believe how many people are here.  The line goes on forever," Mrs. Dermody said.

 

Eyesore No More in New Carlisle

(New Carlisle, IN) - An eyesore on the outskirts of New Carlisle is finally being demolished.  Last winter, St. Joseph County purchased a mobile home park on US 20 to make room for a future development project.

 

Over twenty trailers have sat vacant waiting for demolition, which took place this week.  St. Joseph County Economic Development Director Bill Schalliol said the cleanup has taken longer than expected.  "We've had all sorts of weird hurdles we never anticipated," he said.  "We're excited it that it's finally starting to come down.  We're going to have some [trailers] that are going to remain for a period of time while we work through some title issues, but we're working to get those resolved."  A small home adjacent to the trailer park will also come down, and a derelict house next to that has already been demolished.

 

Several acres around the former trailer park have been earmarked for a new commuter rail station.  Schalliol says those plans are still in the hands of the rail lines.  He says a new station is still a couple of years away.  But at least the site will be ready for development soon.

New Animal Hospital Coming to Westville

(Westville, IN) - A new veterinary clinic is coming to Westville this spring.  Ground has been broken on Hero Pet, a 5,400-square-foot animal hospital.

 

Dr. Lisa Booth is thrilled to expand her practice in western La Porte County. "I've been practicing for 20 years now," she says, "I've worked at the North Central Veterinary Emergency Center in Westville, I've done some work in clinics in La Porte and in the Valpo area.  But now I'm transitioning to my own practice."  Booth is also the medical director at Lakeshore PAWS, an animal rescue in Valparaiso.

 

Booth’s husband Ryan, runs the business side of the operation.  He says the clinic is part of Westville’s Economic Revitalization Area, which is making the project possible.  "Establishing the Revitalization Area is all about growth for areas that haven't seen any new business in some time," he says.  A ten-year tax abatement was a key incentive.  "And that makes it more affordable for us to do a ground-up business of this nature.  Instead of renting a storefront and grow from there," he says, "we're starting much bigger than we would have otherwise."

 

The new clinic should open in the spring.  It’s located on 421, just north of Westville’s downtown

La Porte County Forming COVID-19 Vaccine Plan

(La Porte County, IN)  - La Porte County is preparing a plan for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine, once it becomes available.

 

This week, local health officials briefed County Commissioners on the topic.  Right now, the state is telling local health departments to expect distribution of vaccines as early as January.

 

The first round of vaccines will be stored at Franciscan Health in Michigan City and will go to area medical personnel and high risk patients.  When the health department receives a second round of vaccines, they will be made available to first responders and anyone with high social contact, such as food service workers.

 

The general public would then have access to the vaccine.  Buildings at the LaPorte County fairgrounds are planned to be used as distribution centers.  The county’s final vaccine distribution plan must be submitted to the state by December 5.

Car Theft and Accident Under Investigation

(La Porte County, IN)  -  La Porte County Sheriff’s investigators are looking for tips regarding an abandoned stolen vehicle.

 

Just after 1:30 Thursday  morning, the midnight patrol responded to a crash in the 4000 east block of CR 1000 North. The vehicle was found abandoned. It had been reported stolen out of Elkhart County.

 

Video surveillance from a nearby home shows a male subject snooping around at about that time.

Anyone with information on the vehicle or the driver is asked to email Deputy Kasz Billings (kbillings@lcso.in.gov) with the Sheriff’s Department.

Free Thanksgiving Meals Especially Popular This Year

(La Porte, IN)  - For many people this year, genuine Thanksgiving feasts were hard to come by, and they were at a premium.

 

The Sales family held their annual Thanksgiving dinner giveaway at the American Legion Post 83. Even though they couldn’t offer a sit-down meal due to COVID restrictions, they were busier than ever making deliveries.  The family and over two dozen volunteers handed out 560 meals.

 

Co-organizer Leonard Sales says they usually cook for about 200-300 people.  He thinks the increase this year had less to do with poverty, and more to do with isolation.  “With COVID this year, we’ve had a lot of calls from people who can afford to buy their own meals, but they’re under lockdown” he said. “We don’t want to turn anyone away, so we said, ‘yeah, that’s fine.’”

 

State Street Church served their annual Thanksgiving meal Wednesday night. They too saw a record number of carry-outs.  Volunteers said cars were lined up for as far as eye could see along Washington Street.  Over 500 meals flew out the door in about an hour.

Police-Involved Shooting in La Porte County

(LaPorte County, IN)  -  State authorities are investigating a police-involved shooting in LaPorte County Thursday night. 

 

At about 5:15 p.m. La Porte Sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of shots fired in the 7000-8000 N block of CR 500 West in Springfield Township.  According to a State Police report, officers were fired upon by a suspect, with a police vehicle being struck.

 

Officers returned fire and hit the suspect, who was given first aid at the scene.  The suspect was transported to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Michigan City. 

 

So far, no other details have been released, as Indiana State Police continue to investigate.  HometownNewsNow.com will provide an update as soon as more details come to light.

La Porte Family's Thanksgiving Tradition Changes With the Times

(La Porte, IN)  - For 17 years, the Sales family has made their Thanksgiving dinner a public event, hosting hundreds of people at the American Legion Post 83 in La Porte.  This year, it’s not a dine-in affair, but a take-out event. Family and volunteers are eating in shifts while preparing go-boxes for everyone else.

 

Leonard Sales is one of the family organizers.  He says COVID precautions have thrown a wrinkle into their logistics. I nstead of serving up dinner buffet-style, volunteers will be delivering meals. "Luckily we had quite a few volunteers this year," he says. "Originally I hoping to just do La Porte, but we had people calling from Michigan City, from South Bend, from Wanatah, so we've got drivers from all over the place."

 

Sales says people who have come for dinner in past years, are volunteering to deliver food this year.  "Year after year, they'd come in and donate 20-30 dollars," he says, "but this year they said, 'you know what, we'll come in and deliver for an hour, then come back and get our food and go home.' So it's been a community effort."

 

Usually, Sales says, they provide up to 400 meals. Based on the response, Sales estimates 600 meals going out by Thursday afternoon.

 

He says they have been taking orders since last week. Guests are still welcome to show up at the door of the American Legion on Lincolnway between 11-2.  Sales says no one will be turned away.  Volunteers will also be taking meals to area first responders who are on duty today.

La Porte Funeral Home Helping Military Kids for the Holidays

(LaPorte, IN) - A La Porte funeral home is continuing a tradition of helping out soldiers during the holidays.

 

In the past, Cutler Funeral Home and Cremation Center has stuffed stockings to send to American service members.  Because of COVID restrictions, though, shipments to soldiers are limited this year.  But owner Dale Knouse says they’ve found a way around that. "With the relationship we have with the USO, they've made arrangements to get stockings to the children of our active military," Knouse said.  "And so they're going to do that within northern Indiana and the Chicago area.  So we're blessed that we're able to do that."

 

Knouse says many funeral homes have chosen not to participate in Stockings for Soldiers this year.  But folks in La Porte have been as generous as ever.  Knouse expects to collect around three hundred stockings this year.  The deadline for collecting them is Tuesday, December 1. You can still stop in at Cutler’s Friday or Saturday to pick up a stocking and stuff it with gifts.

Area Lawmaker Resigns

(Elkhart County, IN) - A northern Indiana lawmaker is stepping down only three weeks after being elected.  Republican Christy Stutzman, who represents the 49th House District east of Elkhart, has resigned from the Indiana Legislature.

 

In a statement, Stutzman said she needed to focus on her family’s failing business. They took over the former Amish Acres just before the pandemic hit.  Stutzman claims recent statewide COVID-19 restrictions have made business matters worse. She was critical of how Governor Eric Holcomb has handled recent COVID-related decisions.

 

Her resignation takes effect December 14, after which a replacement will be appointed.

Date Set for Turning on Lakefront Lights

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City is gearing up for its annual massive display of Christmas lights at the lakefront.

 

According to the Mayor’s office, the lights at Washington Park will be turned on December 5th.  Santa Claus will also be there when the lights and the many displays throughout the park are illuminated. 

 

Mayor Duane Parry will first light the tree in front of the library at 4:30 p.m. before the festivities move to Washington Park.

Major Rail at Kingsbury Nears Completion

(Kingsbury, IN) - Connecting Kingsbury Industrial Park to major rail service is happening quickly.

 

La Porte County Councilman Mike Mollenhauer said only about 400 hundred feet of rail was left to be laid to make that connection during a visit he paid recently to the job site.  Mollenhauer also said the project to bring CSX into the park from the connection being made with the railroad’s main trunk line is about two weeks ahead of schedule.  “They’ll probably be completed next week,” he said.  Mollenhauer said work on the switch allowing CSX trains to travel into the park and back to the main line will happen next before the work is completed.

 

In late October, a contract with JBC Rail to install 4,500 linear feet of track to make the connection and operate the switch was approved.  Officials are hoping to connect the park to the Canadian National Railroad once money needed for that work has been obtained.

 

It’s believed two major rail providers will result in major industry and hundreds, if not, thousands of jobs coming to the park.

More Deadly Gun Violence in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Another fatal shooting has occurred in Michigan City.  Micah Garrett, 26, of Michigan City was not breathing when officers arrived at a home early Wednesday in the 200 block of Fir Street, Police said.

 

Police said no arrests have been made but a person of interest in the shooting has been identified.  Further details were not provided because of the ongoing investigation.

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police at 873-1488 or in other ways like

Facebook.

Lights Especially Spiritual Right Now

(Michigan City, IN) - The lights burning year round in downtown Michigan City are helping people get in the holiday season with the official start of the Christmas shopping season just about to begin.  The lights are in the trees on both sides of Franklin Street from 11th Street to 4th Street in front of the Michigan City Public Library.  The lights are mostly white but some are in the traditional Christmas colors.

 

Bridgette Garrison, 25, of Michigan City was enjoying the view while delivering pies Tuesday night to her real estate clients for Thanksgiving.  “In the winter, they’re ten times better,” she said.

 

Another local realtor, Amy Wagner Knopf, 52, was soaking in the radiant light while on foot in the downtown with baked goods in her hands for Thanksgiving.  “It makes me happy. It makes you think of Christmas,” she said.  She also said the lights should play an even more important role in lifting people's spirits because of the challenges posed this year by coronvirus. 

 

Mayor Duane Parry said many people just drive through the downtown to enjoy the view during the holidays and year round.

COVID-19 Viewed Miracle Drug Arrives Locally

(La Porte County, IN) - Not only is a vaccine close to being here but advanced treatment for COVID 19 is now available locally.

 

Regeneron has been delivered to medical facilities in the area, said La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora.  Kora, who has a medical practice in Michigan City, said Regeneron was given early to President Trump during his COVID-19 infection and he credited the treatment for his quick recovery from the virus.

 

Kora said Regeneron provides anti-bodies that work to keep infected people from becoming sicker and out of the hospitals.  Kora said Regeneron does not work much on patients in advanced stages of COVID-19.

 

He said hospitals, at or near capacity, should see a reduction in patients from Regeneron working before symptoms become much worse.

Old Bar Forever Dry Now

(La Porte, IN) - The Mayor of La Porte continues to show he’s sort of a one man wrecking crew.  The old Lady Rose bar at 403 E. Lincolnway, and the building next to it, are coming down.

 

They’re the latest structures being demolished since Tom Dermody set a new standard when he took over as mayor nearly a year ago.  "We made a committment early on that we want some of these buildings to be demolished and the Lady Rose is in the process of being demolished as we speak," Dermody said. 

 

Just a few weeks ago, the old Tibma Bakery on Woodward St. was torn down after sitting dilapidated and empty for many years.  Officials hope new affordable housing goes up at the old bakery site.

 

Plans for the old Lady Rose bar site are not yet known.

City Divided on Proposed Marina Purchase

(New Buffalo, MI) - The city of New Buffalo could take over a private marina.  The Pleasure Isle Marina is being offered to the city for about $500,000.

 

Some city officials believe the property, featuring boat slips and one condominium, would be a real bargain but they’re concerned if the operating costs would sink what appears to be a good investment.

 

The New Buffalo City Council was divided Monday night on the proposed acquisition, feeling the cost estimates provided for operating the marina are much lower than the actual expense.  The slips would continue to remain private at least for the first several years, officials said.   Eventually, the vision is converting those slips into public use and making the docks part of the municipal marina.

 

The council voted to further discuss the idea and vote on the proposal at a special meeting tonight.  The meeting, which was set for 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, was later cancelled.

Santa Claus Again Rings in the Holidays

(La Porte, IN) - The giant Santa Claus statue is up in downtown La Porte.  The 500 pound fiberglass man in the red suit has been a holiday fixture here since 1968.

 

Jessica Granger, owner of Thode Floral at 610 Lincolnway, remembers seeing the Santa statue as a child on trips from Fish Lake, where she grew up.  “As soon as the Santa statue goes up, it’s just a lot easier to get into the Christmas spirit,” she said.  Granger said the 18 foot tall Santa could play an even more important role in lifting spirits this year because of the challenges posed by coronavirus. 

 

The Santa Claus statue is held up by eight foot long cables fastened to stakes on the courthouse lawn.

La Porte County Meat Processor Expanding Due to Grant

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indiana State Department of Agriculture is stepping up to the financial plate to help local butcher shops keep up with skyrocketing demand brought on by COVID-19.  The ISDA, on November 23, awarded $4 million to 41 meat processors through the Indiana Meat Processing Expansion & Development Grant Program.

 

Demand at local meat processing facilities statewide has increased substantially from people stocking up after running into shortages at supermarkets particularly early in the pandemic.  The shortages have eased up but local butcher shops are still receiving more business from people avoiding grocery chains out of fear of being infected in large crowds.  Recipients of the grants are required to provide an equal amount in matching dollars toward the expansion of their operations.  

 

Sims Meat Processing in Kingsbury received a $150,000 grant.  Owner Craig Sims said he’s already broken ground on a close to 3,000 square foot addition that will increase his processing, storage and retail space.  Sims said he was already seeing a gradual increase in processing the past few years from growth in the locally produced foods movement but what’s happened since the arrival of coronavirus pales in comparison.  ’It’s just taken the business and just blown it up as far as demand,” he said.  His plant is booked until 2022 for processing freezer beef.

 

Sims has just enough capacity to process meat for his retail store which has seen a 30 to 40 percent increase in sales over the past eight months.  “It would be more than that.  We just haven’t had the facility to handle a bigger increase,” he said.

 

Sims estimated he’ll process about 1,100 pigs this year compared to 780 in 2019.  He hopes to go back to a normal schedule for processing freezer meat once construction of the addition is finished in the spring.  “It’s going to take some pressure off the main processing room so they can just focus on processing the freezer beef and freezer pigs for people,” Sims said.

 

Sims doesn’t expect the higher demand to go away once the pandemic as new customers are enjoying the quality and lower prices.  He also doesn’t expect any let up in the growing popularity of locally grown foods.  Sims pointed out all of his hamburger is from beef cattle raised near Mill Creek and his pork is entirely from pigs outside Rolling Prairie.  “It’s all local.   We can tell the people they can drive by and see where their meat came from if they want to see the farm,” Sims said.                 

 

Other grant recipients from northern Indiana include J & J Quality Meats, LLC in Bourbon, Monon Meat Packing & Catering in White County and Slabaugh Meat Processing, Inc. in Nappanee.

 

“Meat processors are essential for our state, contributing more than $3.9 billion to our economy.  It is vital we keep these businesses growing and operating safely,” said ISDA Director Bruce Kettler.

First Snow Leads to Accidents

(La Porte County, IN) - The first snowfall of the season resulted in several motor vehicle slideoffs and accidents during the morning commute today.  Among the incidents this morning, a vehicle slid into a ditch along U.S. 35 and Interstate 94 around 8:30 a.m.  Prior to that, a motor vehicle reportedly slid into a yard off Joliet Road.

 

So far, authorities have not reported any serious injury accidents from the mostly slushy road conditions that resulted from about an inch of wet snow fall.  Police are urging motorists to practice their winter driving skills, like keeping plenty of distance from other vehicles and braking sooner to avoid sliding into intersections.

Teen Loses Appeal in Fatal Shooting

(Indianapolis, IN) - A Michigan City teenager has lost his appeal in a fatal shooting.  Javan Brown is serving a more than five year prison sentence for reckless homicide.  He fatally shot 18-year old Justin Garner nearly two years ago.

 

Authorities said the gun went off while Brown was reaching for it in his car.  Garner, who was sitting in the backseat of the vehicle, was struck in the head. 

 

In his appeal, Brown said the shooting was an accident.  However, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled the shooting resulted from reckless acts, instead.  Brown obtaining the gun after his release from juvenile detention and reaching for the gun with his left hand, even though he is right handed, were among the factors cited by the court in its decision.

Arrests Following Pursuit and Crash

(Michigan City,IN) - A Michigan City Police car was struck by a fleeing vehicle but the suspects

were captured.  Taken into custody was the driver 21 year old Brian Young and 20 year old Omar Glover.  Police said both men are from Michigan City and had active warrants for their arrest.

 

Around Noon on Friday, police said an officer attemped to stop Young, who then fled.  A short time later, Young allegedly bailed out of his still moving vehicle in an alley on Grace Street.  His vehicle continued in motion and crashed into a police vehicle.

 

Police said Young was found inside a nearby residence.  According to police, Young was wanted for theft and escape.  Glover was wanted for leaving the scene of an accident and operating a vehicle without a license, police said.

Take Home Dinners for Thanksgiving

(La Porte, IN) - Up to 500 take home Thanksgiving dinners were given Monday night at the LaPorte Salvation Army forced to cancel its traditional dine-in meals for the holiday because of coronavirus.

 

About half of the 40 drivers showing up early waited on the shoulder of Indiana 4 before inching their way into the parking lot once the homemade food started being served at the front doors.  Drivers remained in their vehicles to accept their dinners in take-home containers.  The line remained just as long one hour later because of incoming vehicles keeping pace with those leaving. 

 

Robert Schumaker said he missed the family-like atmosphere of sharing a dining room with others from the community, but he was just as grateful.  He took home seven meals of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, green bean casserole along with cake for his wife, children and parents.  “The dine-in for Thanksgiving would be nice but with COVID I understand,” Schumaker said.

 

Debra Koontz pulled away with two meals she planned sharing with a homeless friend.  “We’re going to sit in the car and have Thanksgiving dinner,” she said.

 

La Porte Salvation Army Captain Chris Karlin said he and two other volunteers in the kitchen began cooking about 5 a.m.  Karlin cooked 120 turkey roasts on an outdoor smoker and cut the meat into slices.  About a dozen other helpers scooped food out of aluminum trays into take home containers and passed them out.  “Even with COVID, we’re still working together to feed the community,” Karlin said.

 

Judy Hensell helped make the chocolate, cherry and pumpkin dump cakes.  The filling poured at the bottom of each pan was covered by the batter and baked.  Bracing for greater community response this year, Hensell said twice as much food was prepared than what was served dine-in last year.  “It’s a little bit more work but it’s worth it,” she said.

 

Talon Sanford, 9, and his grandmother came First Church of God to assist with the cause.  He especially found joy helping people who otherwise might not have a Thanksgiving meal this year.  “I like helping out,” Sanford said.

Local Hoopster Heading to Big Ten

(La Porte County, IN) - Expect to see a basketball player at La Lumiere School competing in the Big Ten conference during the 2021-22 season.  Senior Treyton Thompson signed with the University of Minnesota last week.

 

It’s sort of a homecoming for Thompson who attended high school in Alexandra, about 130 miles from the campus in Minneapolis, before transferring to La Lumiere.  “We’re extremely excited for Treyton and his family,” said Patrick Holmes, the head coach at La Lumiere School in northern LaPorte County.

 

The 6’ 11” Thompson averaged over 10 points and 6 rebounds a game as a junior for La Lumiere last season.  The Lakers were once again invited to the Geico Nationals last season but the spring tournament featuring the best eight teams in the nation was cancelled due to the pandemic.

 

Holmes said Thompson should be even more competitive and receive more playing time during the upcoming season as a result of his off-season workouts that added bulk and quickness to his game.  He said Thompson does well in every aspect of the game like long range shooting, defense, setting screens and hitting the offensive boards.  “He’s just a guy who wants to win, wants to get better.  He’s extremely coachable. He has a bright future ahead of him at Minnesota,” Holmes said.

Two More COVID-19 Deaths in La Porte County

(Indianapolis, IN) - There’s been two more deaths from coronavirus in La Porte County, according to figures released today by the Indiana State Department of Health.

 

94 people have now died from the virus in La Porte County since the pandemic started.

 

ISDH officials also reported today 104 new cases in La Porte County.

 

The number of people testing positive the past seven days is 13.1 percent.

La Lumiere Now with Two NBA Players

(La Porte County, IN) - Another former basketball player at La Lumiere School has made the NBA.  Isaiah Stewart was drafted in the first round last week by the Detroit Pistons.  The 6’ 9” Stewart was the 16th overall pick after opting for the draft following one season at the University of Washington where he averaged more than 17-points and eight rounds a game.

 

Patrick Holmes, the head basketball coach at the private school in northern LaPorte County, said he saw big time potential in Stewart who played his last two seasons in high school at La Lumiere.  Stewart transferred from Rochester, New York.

 

“We knew after his senior year here that Isaiah had a chance to be one of these guys who goes to college for a year and then puts his name in the NBA draft.  We’re not surprised at all,” he said.  Holmes said Stewart used his 250 pound frame well as a center for the Lakers and power forward for the Huskies.  He said Stewart being a fierce competitor should serve him well in the professional ranks.  “He’s got a body that’s ready to compete and play in the NBA.  His biggest strength is his work ethic, wanting to be great and not backing down from competition ever,” Holmes said.

 

Stewart was on the La Lumiere squad that finished 2nd out of eight teams in the Geico Nationals in 2019.  La Lumiere won the national tournament in 2017.  That team was led by Jaren Jackson, Jr., who’s now a member of the Memphis Grizzlies in the NBA after one season at Michigan State University

Public Invited to Serve on Committee

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte is looking for people to serve on a new committee.  According to the Mayor’s office, applications are sought for the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, formerly known as the Human Rights Commission.

 

The name was changed in September when teeth was added to prohibit discrimination against people for things like sexual preference and gender identity.  Mayor Tom Dermody said La Porte is a welcoming community and people with fresh ideas are sought to serve on the committee as momentum builds toward making the city the place to live and work.

 

Applications are available on the city’s web page and must be submitted by Friday.  Appointments to the committee are scheduled to be made during the December 7th meeting of the City Council.

Fatal Crash on US 20

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - One person was killed and several others injured when multiple vehicles collided in La Porte County.  About 4:30 p.m. on Friday, emergency responders were called to US 20 and 200 East.  62 year old Brian Klingerman of Bremen died several hours later.

 

According to La Porte County Police, a vehicle stopped to turn left was hit in the rear by

61 year old Arthur McNeely of Mishawaka.  After the initial collision, McNeely veered into oncoming traffic and struck Klingerman head on.

 

McNeely and two passengers in the Klingerman vehicle were taken to a hospital.  Police said whether alcohol or drugs were involved in the crash was pending the results of a toxicology test.

Not Guilty Verdict in Murder Trial

(Michigan City, IN) -  Zachariah Vigil was found not guilty of murder by a jury Friday in La Porte Superior Court 1.  He was arrested two weeks after the death of Antonio Rivera on the Fourth of July. 

 

During an altercation in a parking lot on July 4th, Rivera ended up with the phone and keys of a female involved.  Upon meeting up with the woman and her friends nearby to return the items, Rivera allegedly brandished and fired a gun.  According to police at the time of the incident, Zachariah Vigil of Michigan City was in another car and chased Rivera, and aledgely fired a gun at Rivera’s car.  Rivera was struck, crashed into a business at U.S 12 and Liberty Trail, and passed away from his injuries.

 

The jury deliberated for over three hours on Friday before returning the not guilty verdict.

La Porte County Flirts with COVID-19 Red Status

(La Porte County, IN) - According to the numbers reported by the Indiana State Department of Health today, La Porte County continues to see a rise in the 7 day Positivity Rate, which is now at 13.4%.  It's expected that the State will maintain the current COVID score for La Porte County at Orange status (2.5 Rating) when they revise the scores on Wednesday.  A Positivity Rate of 15% or more would move La Porte County to Red status (3.0 Rating), based on the ISDH's scoring system.  Here is an analysis of the current La Porte County numbers:

 

New Positive Cases:  During the week of November 15th through November 21st, La Porte County recorded 609 new COVID-19 infections, bringing the cumulative total of recorded cases in the county to 4,367 over the course of the pandemic.  Overall, our 7-day moving average of new positive daily cases is 87 cases, down sightly from 89 average new cases daily the week prior.  

 

Positive Test Rate (Positivity Rate):  The 7 Day Positive Test rate in La Porte County rose to 13.4% with the numbers reported on Sunday, up from 9.9% at the first of November. 

 

Hospitalizations:  A new record for single day Hospital Admissions was set on November 17th, with 8 Hospitalizations in La Porte County on that day.   During the month of November, La Porte County has recorded 86 new Hospitalizations from COVID-19 through the 21st.  This compares to a total of 76 Hospitizations for the entire month of October, making November the month with the most COVID-19 Hospitalizations in La Porte County. 

 

Deaths:  November will be the deadliest month of the COVID-19 Pandemic to date.  In October, La Porte County experienced a total of 23 COVID-19 related deaths.  As of November 21st, La Porte County has already eclipsed that number with 24 reported deaths so far in November.    A total of 92 La Porte County residents are reported with COVID-19 as a cause of death.

 

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.

HTNN Top 5 News Stories - Week of 11/15

(La Porte County, IN) - When news happens in La Porte County, HometownNewsNow.com is there to bring you the story.  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 November 15th through November 21st:

 

#5:  Two Multi-Car Crashes on US 20

 

#4:  LaPorte County Imposes COVID-19 Restrictions

 

#3:  Pipe Used in Grandmother Beating

 

#2:  Driver in Crash on Tight Rope

 

#1:  Grocery Store Next for New Porte Landing

 

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.

Solar Farm Moving Forward Near Bass Lake

(Starke County, IN) - Plans for a solar farm near Bass Lake are moving forward.  This week the Starke County Planning Commission heard comments regarding the rezoning of over 600 acres to facilitate the installation of solar panels.

 

A handful of properties were up for rezoning.  Two large parcels adjacent to Bass Lake residences were not approved for rezoning.  Two other parcels totaling 173 acres on the west side of US 35 were approved.

 

The land is currently zoned residential and must be converted to agricultural for potential solar use.  Starke Solar, LLC has plans to install the solar farm.

Area Colleges Finishing Semester Remotely

(Northwest Indiana) - Students at Purdue Northwest will finish their first semester work remotely, after Thanksgiving.  Campus administrators announced this week a plan to address rising COVID-19 spread in the region.

 

After Thanksgiving break next week, most classes will go online.  A few exceptions, such as science labs, will be allowed to happen in-person.  Other social gatherings will be limited to 25 people. Student housing will remain open.  Semester graduation ceremonies will go on as planned in early December.

 

In related news, Ancilla College near Plymouth has decided to send its students home a few days early before Thanksgiving.  Residence halls are being cleared out as soon as possible. Ancilla students will finish their first semester studies remotely.

 

Valparaiso University made a similar move to remote learning last week.

LaCrosse High School Faces Final Days

(LaCrosse, IN) - LaCrosse High School took another step toward extinction Thursday night.

Tri-Township School Board members voted to pursue a bond measure that would mean shutting down LaCrosse and moving those students to Wanatah.

 

$2.6 million will be needed for the project. Five new classrooms and other additions will be constructed to facilitate consolidation.

 

Many residents are not convinced the move is necessary.  Lisa Rosencranz addressed the School Board at Thursday's meeting. "I would just like to say that to just abandon 22,000 square feet of our historic educational heritage is not only fiscally irresponsible, but completely and utterly insane," she said. "It's become painfully obvious that the board has no plan for the LaCrosse High School building."

 

Jim Sheely of LaCrosse spoke out against the plan via Zoom. "I think this ill-conceived plan based on little fact but plenty of assumptions will have a huge negative impact on the community for years to come, if passed," he said. "It will not enhance or increase programs for the high school students, but the exact opposite."

 

School leaders say the 105-year-old school building in LaCrosse is not fit for 21st century learning and will cost three times more to rehab than to close.  Opponents say other options haven’t been fully priced out and considered.

 

If current plans hold up, additions to Wanatah could be done by next fall.  What would happen to the old LaCrosse building is unknown.  A conversion to apartments is a possibility.


La Porte County Not Looking at Mask Fines

(La Porte County, IN) - A COVID crunch is closing in on La Porte County. The status of Porter and Lake Counties to the east were recently elevated to level red.

 

In the other direction, St. Joseph County and now Marshall County are issuing fines for people not wearing masks.  On Friday, Marshall County leaders adopted an ordinance allowing punitive measures up to a $100 fine for individuals or businesses that defy the mask mandate. A similar order went into effect in St. Joe County last week.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora says no such measures are in the works here. "When we passed the mask ordinance several months ago, our intention was really not to be punitive, but to use it as an educational opportunity," Kora says. "I think that is the approach all three of us felt comfortable [with], but we have not discussed about any kind of punitive measures."

 

Personally, Kora says he is not keen on the approach of issuing punishments for mask violations. Kora says he hopes LaPorte residents will continue wearing masks for their own safety and for the well-being of others.

Two Multi-Car Crashes on US 20

(LaPorte County) -  Rush hour traffic came to a stand-still Friday on US 20 near Rolling Prairie thanks to not one, but two, multi-car accidents.

 

Just before 5 pm, Kankakee Township first responders and LaPorte County Sheriff’s deputies arrived on scene.  The first accident involved a green sedan that was crossing 20 northbound on CR 200 East. It clipped a truck pulling a trailer. Bret Schascheck of Rolling Prairie witnessed the accident. "The blue car was making a left-hand turn onto 20," he said, "and I believe that they pulled out too soon, and the truck-trailer hit them and flipped over."  A third vehicle was also involved, but sustained minimal damage. According to Schascheck, all three drivers appeared to be alert and relatively unharmed. The extent of their injuries, if any, is unknown at this time.

 

The other accident took place a mile to the west at the intersection of CR 200 East and US 20. Police at the scene of that collision reported that four vehicles were involved, resulting in at least two injuries. Two ambulances left that scene rushing toward South Bend.

TransPorte Tapping Brakes from COVID-19

(La Porte, IN) - TransPorte today announced its new hours and safety guidelines resulting from a spike in local COVID-19 cases, according to Manager Beth West.

 

Beginning Monday and continuing until further notice, TransPorte will run from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., ending bus service an hour earlier than usual.  The transportation system will also temporarily stop weekend service.

 

"With the recent rise in coronavirus cases throughout the greater La Porte area, we have to take every precaution to ensure the safety of our riders and drivers," West said.  "While we hope to resume our regular schedule soon, we will continue with our new hours and safety guidelines until further notice," she said. 

 

In addition to their new operating schedule, West said TransPorte will also be enacting rider and location limits.  Beginning Monday, no more than four people will be allowed on a bus at a given time.  They will also require that riders have appointments to go into bank lobbies, will restrict grocery store stops to Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and will no longer make house-to-house trips.

 

West said all riders must have a mask and wear it for the entire duration of their ride.  Drivers can provide free face mask to those who need one.  West said residents should also plan on purchasing a punch card or paying with exact change to help limit exposure.

 

With the holidays approaching, West said riders should be aware of the service's holiday hours.  Buses will run from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Black Friday, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.  TransPorte will be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.

 

For questions or to schedule a ride, residents can contact dispatch at 362-6565.

Driver in Crash on Tight Rope

(La Porte, IN) - Two vehicles crashed into each other in La Porte this afternoon.  Nobody appeared serioiusly hurt despite one of the vehicles coming to rest with the front end practically facing the sky. 

 

The accident happened about 1:30 p.m. at State Road 39 and 18th Street.  An SUV was practically straight up against a NIPSCO pole.

 

Blake Boardman. who lives next door at Maple Tree Apartments, said he rushed to the elderly driver in the SUV resting on the guide wire of the pole after hearing the crash.  He checked her pulse and engageed in conversation with her until help arrived.  “She was doing alright and we just waited for the emergency personnel to get here,” Boardman said.

 

Boardman said the other driver involved in the crash also did not appear seriously hurt.  The crash was still under investigation.  HometownNewsNow.com will  provide further details once they become available. 

Christmas Market Scheduled for Thanksgiving Weekend in La Porte

(La Porte, IN)  - A local church is bringing a new Christmas tradition to La Porte.  Inspired by annual events that have been held in Chicago and downstate in Carmel, Bethany Church in La Porte will kick of Christkindlmarkt the weekend immediately following Thanksgiving at the new La Play Park, located at the corners of 1st and G Streets in La Porte. 

 

The German style Christmas market will be exclusively outdoors and will run from Friday, November 27th  through Sunday, November 29th.  La Porte Christkindlmarkt will feature an Ice Skating rink, Curling, Live Music, Food and Beverage, vendors selling Christmas items, and much much more. 

 

Attendance to the event is Free.  In response to the virus, along with gathering restrictions by the state and county, attendance to the event is limited.   To register for the event and receive your free ticket, follow the link to  laportechristkindlmarkt.com.

 

Pastor Dennis Meyer and Carey Garwood,, from Bethany Church, visited the Morning Mayhem on 96.7 The Eagle this morning to talk about the event.  You can learn more about the event by listening to the interview here:

 

 

Pipe Used in Grandmother Beating

(La Porte, IN) -  A Mchigan City area man allegedly used a pipe in the beating of his 93-year old grandmother.   Cylis Tursi, 21, was charged Thursday in LaPorte Circuit Court with two counts of level 5 felony domestic battery.  He was already charged with criminal recklessness and pointing a firearm, both level 6 felonies, for allegedly firing gunshots at his mother the day prior to the October 23 beating.

 

According to court documents, Turski asked his grandmother for money to purchase a vehicle to replace the one involved in a recent crash.  After his request was turned down, he began striking the woman with his hands and a pipe over various parts of her body, court records disclosed.  Police said it appears the beating lasted for hours until the woman managed to call her daughter for help.

 

LaPorte County Police responded to the home in the 8600 block of W. 200 North.  A strategy for preventing further injury was developed before officers, while approaching, spotted Tursi outside a door.  A bean bag round, fired from a gun, stunned Tursi long enough to be safely taken into custody.

 

Police said the badly bruised and bloodied woman was taken to the hospital but her injuries were not believed life threatening.

 

Chief Deputy Ron Heeg, Captain Andy Hynek along with deputies Tyler Oberholtzer, Jonathan Samuleson and Austin Wells received letters of commendation for their efforts.  “They exhibited extreme bravery under the most of duress circumstances,” said LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd.

More Cooler Space Demand for Bodies of COVID Patients

(South Bend, IN) - A health care system in the area is worried about running out of space to store bodies of people dying from coronavirus. 

 

Various media reports out of South Bend reveal Beacon Health Systems is looking for a refrigerated truck to store extra bodies.  The reports indicate at least six people in the hospital system have died from the virus in recent days.

 

The hospital in Elkhart is among the facilities in that hospital system and the reports show  27 people have died there from coronavirus this month alone.  That’s just two less from the cumulative total COVID-19 related deaths at that hospital from March through September.

City Hall Still Closed to the Public

(Michigan City, IN) – City Hall in Michigan City remains closed to the public for now due to COVID-19.  According to the Mayor Duane Parry's office, the closure is in effect until November 30.

 

From that point on, City Hall will be open to the public by appointment only, according to the Mayor's office.

 

Mayor Duane Parry said business will be conducted electronically and over the telephone from City Hall until the building on U.S 12 fully reopens when the virus poses less of a public health risk at some point.

A Lake Life Christmas in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Summer is in La Porte even during the holidays now.  The city of La Porte’s new slogan, “Livin’ the Lake Life,” is now on shirts and other clothing.

 

Jessica Bruder, the city’s communications director, said “Livin the Lake Life” apparel can be ordered now at livingthelakelife.org.  She said there are shirts, hats and hoodies containing the new slogan available in the virtual lake shop.

 

“I’m told they’re going to make really good Christmas presents,” Bruder said.

Home Engulfed by Flames

(Kingsford Heights, IN) - A mobile home was destroyed by fire in Kingsford Heights yesterday.  The afternoon blaze was on Dartmoor Road.

 

Sources say a propane tank somehow caught fire which then resulted in the mobile home going up in flames.  Fortunately, nobody was injured.

 

Emergency radio transmissions indicate a nearby woods also caught fire.

Former Irish Football Coach has COVID-19

(Columbia, South Carolina) - Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz is infected by coronavirus.  Holtz told ABC news he doesn’t have a lot of energy but is recovering.

 

The 83 year old Holtz coached Notre Dame’s last national championship team in 1988.

 

 

New Drive Thru a Hit with Users

(La Porte, IN) - The doors at La Porte City Hall have been closed since early in the pandemic but transactions are occurring face to face again thanks to a virtual drive thru.   

 

The new social distancing option is already proving to be a major time saver especially when signatures are required on documents.  Instead of waiting days for the U.S Post Office to deliver and return signed paperwork, exchanges can be completed in a vacuum during a single drive up visit.  “There’s definitely an advantage. We’re lucky to have it,” said Clerk-Treasurer Courtney Parthun.

           

Gina Allen got the water turned on at her new residence by doing things like signing papers delivered back and forth in a tube.  The container travels inside a vacuum line activated by a simple push of a button.  Allen said she liked the service but wishes life was back to normal again.  “I’d rather go inside but that’s what it’s coming to,” she said.

           

City Hall has remained fully staffed with business conducted strictly by mail, electronically, on the phone or in drop boxes until the drive-thru opened November 4.  City employees and customers in the drive thru see and talk to each other on a monitor and speaker.

 

Dave Parsell pulled up to pay a water bill.  The retiree was glad he didn’t have to get out his car to use a drop box or struggle up the many steps to the billing office inside City Hall.  "I really like it.  It’s very convenient,” Parsell said.

 

Parthun said the drive thru, costing about $70,000, was paid for entirely with federal COVID-19 relief funds.  “it’s a nice feature to have here for residents,” she said.

Hoarding Flares Up Again Due to Pandemic

(La Porte, IN) - The upsurge in COVID-19 cases has people once again rushing to grocery stores across the country and locally to stockpile.

 

I Street Meats in La Porte, for example, estimates a 50% increase in sales within just the past few days.  Owner Ryan Mrozinski said some people are stocking up especially on hamburger, chicken and other meats along with toilet paper just as they did when the pandemic first hit in the spring.

“Toilet paper is gold,” he chuckled.

 

For now, he said the hoarding of grocery products hasn't eclipsed the rate at which it was occurring more than six months ago.  Mrozinski said he’s not a major carrier of toilet paper so it’s possible he could run out of toilet paper if sales, eventually, outpace how quickly he can have more delivered.  However, he doesn’t expect any shortages of meat or poultry at least in the short term since he keeps a lot of meat and poultry in stock and there’s good supply  from processing plants right now.

Grocery Store Next for New Porte Landing

(La Porte, IN) - The next piece of ground to be developed at New Porte Landing will be from a grocery store. 

 

The final stage of environmental work to the property where the grocery store plans to go up was approved by the La Porte Board of Public Works & Safety this week.  The cost of the final clean-up is slightly under $25,000.

 

Bert Cook, executive director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, said the city and developer have worked together on the project for about the past two-years.  The name of the grocery store is not being disclosed right now.

 

Cook said construction of the store is expected to start in the spring and be completed in the fall.  He said the store will go up where Little Tavern used to be at Pine Lake Ave. and Truesdell Ave.  

Drive Up Meals for Turkey Day

(La Porte, IN) - A take home meal is not quite what the Pilgrims had in mind for Thanksgiving, but that’s the world as we know it today. 

 

The La Porte Salvation Army will not hold its traditional dine in meal for Thanksgiving this year because of COVID-19.  Instead, containers of turkey and other trimmings will be handed out to people in their vehicles on Monday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

 

Drivers can pull up to the front doors of the Salvation Army headquarters, at 3240 Monroe Street, to receive their dinners.  Captain Chris Karlin said enough food for about 500 meals will be available.

Local Roots Branching Out to NBA

(La Porte County, IN) - A former high school basketball star in La Porte County has been drafted into the NBA.

 

Isaiah Stewart was drafted by the Detroit Piston in the first round yesterday.  Stewart was the 16th overall pick.  He played at LaLumiere, which has one of the top programs in the nation with players from all over the world.

 

At the University of Washington last year, Stewart as a center averaged 17 points and eight rebounds per game.

Local Hoops Star Heading to Big 10

(La Porte County, IN) - A local high school basketball player will be playing in the Big Ten conference next season.

 

Treyton Thompson is a senior at LaLumiere School.  The 6' 11" Thompson signed with the University of Minnesota yesterday.  Thompson is ranked by ESPN as the 22nd best high school center in the nation.

 

From Minnesota, Thompson transferred to play his final two high school seasons at LaLumiere School.  LaLumiere, one of the top prep high school basketball programs in the nation, is in northern La Porte County.

Gun Crackdown Continues

(Michigan City, IN) - The crackdown on firearms continues in Michigan City. 

 

35-year old Joseph Vaughn was arrested Monday afternoon.  Police said he was the driver of a vehicle that veered over the center line on Franklin St. near Marquette Mall.  While being issued a ticket, police said he was found with a firearm.  Vaughn was arrested because it’s illegal for someone with a record for serious violent crimes to have a gun, police said. 

 

More focus on illegal gun possession is in response to an increase in shootings and other forms of gun violence in Michigan City over the past couple of years. 

Correction to Reporting Error

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody did not say indoor church services should be banned in response to rising COVID-19 cases as previously reported by 96-7 The Eagle and Rock 106.5 news.

 

Instead, he said churches should consider providing or continuing to provide virtual services and other forms of socially distanced services as an option due to the risk posed by large gatherings of any type.

 

His comments were made during a Facebook Live broadcast he hosted Tuesday to further inform viewers about the virus, the impact its having on hospitals and how to best avoid infection with help from a local physician.

 

In response to complaints he received from the reporting error, which aired on radio stations 96.7 The Eagle and the new Rock 106.5, Mayor Dermody further clarified his remarks today.

 

“Faith is an important part of many people’s lives, including my own. It’s especially critical now in the midst of the pandemic that churches, if able, provide residents with options, including virtual services, so they can worship in a way that makes them feel safe and comfortable. These are tough times, but we will get through them together.”

 

We regret the mistake caused by his statements being misinterpreted.

Salvation Army Kettles Now Ringing

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte Salvation Army has begun its annual Christmas fund raising drive.  Kettles began ringing Monday at Al’s Supermarket and the Post Office.

 

Captain Chris Karlin said kettles will be placed at Kroger and Walmart within the next few days.  He said the goal for the kettle drive this year is $70,000.

 

According to Karlin, the number of kettles placed this year is down from previous years because of a shortage of volunteers, reluctant to ring the bell due to fears about contracting coronavirus.  He hopes to make up the difference with virtual kettles made available for the first time this year.

 

Anyone can sign up for a virtual kettle which accepts donations online and automatically transmits the funds electronically to the Salvation Army.

Local Politician Feels Trump Remains a Long Shot

(La Porte, IN) - More uncounted ballots have turned up, fueling hope for supporters of  President Trump.  All of the uncounted ballots have surfaced at three counties in Georgia where the statewide recount is ongoing.  As a result, experts say the lead for Joe Biden in that state has narrowed by over 1,500 votes.

 

Republican Tim Stabosz of La Porte feels it’s still a long shot for the election to be overturned because the president has to flip three states to win in the Electoral College.  He also said he believes the number of votes he needs to surpass Joe Biden in each state is too great to be made up in a recount or legal challenge.

 

Estimates place the president over 12,000 votes behind in Georgia now with the recount not expected to be finished until next week.  Stabosz, a former city councilman in La Porte, was elected La Porte County Auditor on November 3. 

Different Indoor Dining World in Indiana and Michigan

(Lansing, MI) - In Michigan, indoor dining is now banned.  The Michigan Restaurant Association is suing to try and keep their doors open.  The lawsuit claims the ban is unconstitutional.  Restaurant owners say they could have further reduced the risk while keeping their dining rooms open.

 

The ban in Michigan went into effect early this morning. Here in Indiana, indoor dining is still allowed but with capacity limits. 

 

Dave Thornberry, owner of T-Berry’s in downtown La Porte, said his restaurant survived when indoor dining was banned earlier this year.  Thornberry said take outs and delivery kept him afloat but his overall revenue declined by about 12-percent.  He said his restaurant might not be able to survive without a similar increase in take

outs and delivery this time.

Governor Under Quarantine

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and his wife are quarantining.  This action is in response to several members of his security detail testing positive for coronavirus.

 

The first couple will be tested later this week.  Contact tracing is also being performed.

La Porte Schools Suspend In-Person Learning

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Community Schools Superintendent, Mark Francesconi, announced this evening that La Porte Schools will switch their programming to 100% remote virtual learning.

 

This change will begin on Monday, November 23rd.  Students will attend school, online, on Monday and Tuesday before being dismissed for Thanksgiving break.  All students will then return to school, virtually, on Monday, November 30th. 

 

Over the next two weeks, all Kindergarten through 8th Grade extracurricular activities will be canceled.  Meanwhile, High School activities will continue as planned.

 

School officials indicate another announcement will be made on December 2nd to communicate the attendance plan for the week of December 7th.

 

 

La Porte County Government Locking Back Down

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte County government buildings are back to being open to the public by appointment only until the COVID-19 curve flattens.  All other business is being conducted over the phone, electronically and through drop-off boxes.

 

The same restrictions in place from late March until the end of June went into effect Monday under an executive order issued by La Porte County Commission president Sheila Matias.  "We’re just trying to do what we can to reduce community spread,” she said.  Some La Porte County government employees have also gone back to working from home.

 

The Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday reported 58 new cases in La Porte County and a positivity rate here of 12.4-percent for people tested for the virus.  New daily cases here recently eclipsed 100 on several occasions after the number of positive test results within a 24 hour period was once in the single digits.  “Our numbers are really high.  Our hospitals are full and it’s not just our county,” she said.

 

All La Porte County government meetings will also be held virtually for the time being to further reduce the use of buildings and slow the spread.

New City Hall Drive-Thru a Hit with Citizens

(La Porte, IN) - Good use is being made of a new drive thru at La Porte City Hall.  City residents can drive up to the back of city hall and pay their city bills with a vacuum tube system, just like the ones at banks.  There’s also a monitor to communicate with a city employee.

 

Clerk Treasurer Courtney Parthun says word is getting out about the new service, judging by the steady stream of people utilizing the new social distancing feature since it opened two weeks ago.  Parthun said it cost about 70 thousand dollars to install the drive up window and the entire expense is being paid for with federal COVID-19 relief money.

Michigan City Helping Businesses Stay Afloat

(Michigan City, IN) - A financial life raft is being tossed to businesses in Michigan City impacted by

COVID-19.  City officials said eligible businesses will be given up to $5,000 apiece to help meet expenses like operating costs and payroll.

 

Officials said preference will be given to businesses with strong ties to the community and youth programs.  Businesses hiring people impacted by the virus and those who have not received other government assistance will also be given special consideration, officials said.

 

The deadline to apply for the relief is December 4.

Recycling Drop Off Temporarily Discarded

(La Porte, IN) - Due to the spread of Covid-19, the La Porte County Solid Waste District is also take steps to try and flatten the curve. 

 

The drop-off programs in its front lobby have been suspended.  The drop-off containers were used to dispose of items including grocery bags, batteries, plastic baggies and prescription bottles.

 

Meanwhile, the trailer for electronics drop-offs will remain open outside the SWD office near the fairgrounds.

 

Officials say the yard waste drop-off site will also remain open and its curbside recycling program will continue. 

 

Any questions can be answered by calling the Solid Waste District Office at 219-324-0014.

Meetings Returning to Virtual Format

(Michigan City, IN) - City Council and other government meetings in Michigan City will go back to being held virtually.  In-person meetings will not be held until further notice under an executive order from mayor Duane Parry. 

 

The Michigan City Senior Center is also closed for the time being.  According to the Mayor's office, the decision is in response to rising COVID-19 cases in La Porte County.

 

The order takes effect tomorrow.

 

The Water and Sanitary departments along with the Port Authority. which are separate entities of the city, are encouraged by the Mayor to also hold virtual meetings.

Hunter Impaled by Deer Antlers

(Batesville, IN) - A southern Indiana hunter was airlifted Monday from the scene of an off-road vehicle (ORV) accident after being impaled by the antlers of a deer. 

 

Reports indicate Earl Hagy, 63, of Dillsboro, Indiana, was retrieving a harvested antlered deer from the bottom of a steep incline where he had been hunting. After securing the deer to the rear of the off-road vehicle, Hagy attempted to navigate back up the steep incline, but the ORV rolled over backward, throwing him from the vehicle.  Reports indicate the man landed on the deer and was impaled in the right side of his torso by the antlers.  He was reported in stable condition with stab like wounds.

 

The mishap occurred near Batesville, between Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

Boney Adds Meat to Job Creation Efforts

(Michigan City, IN) - Jalen Boney has joined the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City team as Business Development Manager. Boney will focus on business recruitment, supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs as well as putting into place housing strategies for Michigan City.

 

Boney recently graduated with a Master’s degree in Economic Development from the University of Southern Mississippi (USM).  He is a native of Hattiesburg, Miss., where he attended Petal High School and later attended East Mississippi Community College in Scooba, Miss., on a full academic and football scholarships.

 

While attending USM, Boney was a recipient of the Ingram-Rhodes Scholarship in Economic Development. He was an active member of the Student Economic Development Association as well as a graduate of the True South Economic Development program.

 

Boney served as a Graduate Research Assistant for The Innovation & Commercialization Park & Accelerator (ICP) where he provided administrative assistance through market research, real estate data analysis and financial study for input into the park’s master plan project. With his efforts, the ICP will serve as a guide for incremental decision-making relative to future development, circulation and infrastructure projects.

 

Boney has also been active in the community, including launching a Rotary club at USM.

Boney said, “I am honored to be a part of the team here at the EDCMC, and I look forward to helping our community members navigate the vast opportunities that we offer the entrepreneurial community, Michigan City and the Northwest Indiana Region,”

 

Boney said, “In the short time that I have been here, I have already met a few key members of the community and city, and I am thankful for Clarence Hulse and Jenilee Haynes-Peterson in helping me make the smooth transition from Mississippi to Indiana.”

 

EDCMC Executive Director, Clarence L. Hulse, said, “I am very excited to have someone of Jalen’s caliber and talent join our team.  He has the professional drive and business acumen we need to advance our EDCMC 2019-23 Strategic Action Plan as well as a welcome addition to our team.  We are looking forward to a long and productive relationship with him and I am sure that our Hoosier hospitality will make him feel right at home.”

 

 

 

Deer a Factor in Rising Crash Numbers

(La Porte County, IN) - Motor vehicles colliding with deer helped drive up the number of automobile crashes handled by the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office last month.

 

Sheriff John Boyd says the risk of drivers striking deer on the roadway is traditionally elevated this time of year, in part due to mating season when the Buck chase the Doe, and sometimes that chase leads them to cross busy highways and thoroughfares.  He also indicated fall harvest cause deer to vacate their hiding places within corn fields, forcing them to roam in search of other forms of cover.

 

Boyd said there were 124 motor vehicles handled by his department in October compared to 96 the previous month.  “Some of those are due to a burgeoning number of car deer crashes.  It’s that time of year,” he said.

Winter Sports Hangs in Balance in Michigan

(New Buffalo, MI) - New Buffalo High School Athletic Director, Matt Johnson, said the three week suspension of winter sports, due to Governor Whitmer's COVID-19 response, may result in Girls and Boys High School Basketball Season being delayed.

 

The girls’ basketball season in New Buffalo is scheduled to begin the first week in December.  Basketball games for the boys are supposed to start the following week.  However, school sports teams are prohibited from practice while the Governor’s three week order is in effect.  If the Governor allows winter sports to resume on December 9, Johnson said the teams would have few, if any, practices under their belts prior to their first games.

 

The Michigan High School Athletic Association has not decided how the seasons will proceed if the Governor’s order is lifted in three weeks.  Johnson said he assumes the MHSAA would allow the period during Christmas break to be used for practices with games starting when students return in early January.

 

Johnson also said he was surprised the suspension of winter sports was statewide instead of those decisions being made regionally or locally based on COVID-19 statistics from each area.  “In our school system, we’ve had very, very minimal cases. It’s a shame what’s happening in maybe some of the other big cities is affecting what we are allowed and not allowed to do with kids in the smaller communities,” he said.

 

Whether the semi-state and state finals in football and volleyball will resume has not been decided.  Kevin Labaj, head coach of the New Buffalo High School volleyball team, said he feared not having a season prior to the start of the school year.

 

After the Governor opened the door for fall sports, the volleyball team played 20 games and went undefeated until losing in the first round of the regionals last week.  Close to 40 games are played during a typical season.  “I’m happy we got in as many games as we did,” Labaj said.

School Traffic Relief Project Underway

(La Porte, IN) - Work is occurring to improve traffic flow at two schools in La Porte.  A right turn lane is being added at 18th and A Streets, outside of the two schools at the Kesling complex. 

 

The intersection should be open to traffic within the next two weeks, with asphalt work being completed in the spring.

 

The improvements to the intersection are being done in response to traffic issues that arose from a second school being added at the Keslng site in the fall of 2019. 

 

Michigan Imposes COVID-19 Restrictions

(Lansing, MI) - The Governor of Michigan issued a new Order on Sunday, imposing new restrictions in response to rising COVID-19 numbers. 

 

The order calls for restaurants in Michigan to close their indoor dining once again.  And, in-person learning and school sports competitions will also grind to a halt.


Governor Gretchen Whitmer said experts believe weekly deaths statewide from the virus could reach 1,000 if no steps were taken to try and flatten the curve.  

 

The restrictions begin early Wednesday morning and will be in effect for at least three weeks.

Armed Robbery at Business

(Michigan City, IN) – Police are investigating a business getting robbed at gunpoint in Michigan City.  While the name of the business was not identified by Police, the hold-up occurred Thursday in the 1800 block of Franklin Street.

 

Police said there were two male suspects and one pointed a gun.  They fled with undisclosed merchandise.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police.

Schools in La Porte County Treating COVID Surge Differently

(La Porte County, IN) - The school systems across La Porte County are all handeling the county's "Orange" COVID-19 status differently. 

 

Late last week, a day after deciding to stick to its "Hybrid" plan, Michigan City Schools backtracked and announced 100% virtual learning, which went into effect today.  That will continue into January.  A shortage of available teachers has been cited as a leading factor.

 

Westville Schools went virtual last week, for similiar reasons. 

 

New Prairie made the decision to move its Middle and High School to online only, beginning today.  However, the districts elementary schools will remain at 50% attendance and will continue to monitor the situation on a weekly basis.  New Prairie will hold a public meeting tonight to get feedback from parents regarding winter extra ciricular activities.

 

La Porte Schools is sticking with their hybrid attendance plan for this week, and South Central remains at 100% in-person attendance.

LaPorte County Imposes COVID-19 Restrictions

(La Porte County, IN) - In keeping with the directive of Governor Eric Holcomb to localize COVID-19 safety precautions, the La Porte County Health Department, has updated its Rules and Regulations regarding the Pandemic. 

 

Friday afternoon, Dr. Sandra Deausy, La Porte County's Health Officer, issued a list of twelve restrictions.  Most of the restrictions were suggested by Governor Holcomb earlier this week, including mask regulations and limits on social distancing.  In addition, buffets and salad bars in restaurants are banned, group seating in restaurants is limited to six people, and bars must close at midnight. 

 

Retail establishments will be required to limit the number of customers in store, allowing 2 customers per 1,000 square feet of space, up to a maximum of 250 customers at any given time.  Retail businesses with 2,000 square feet or less may allow up to 5 customers at a time.

 

Regarding "special events", La Porte County will follow the state imposed restrictions, which varies based on score given to the county by the Indiana State Department of Health.  Currently, La Porte County is scored as "Orange", permitting social events up to 50 people.  If the county moves to a "Red" score, then events would be limited to 25 people.  Any special events expected to draw above 50 persons must seek permission of the La Porte County Health Department.

 

Gyms, fitness studios, libraries, funeral homes, restaurants, and swimming pools are all itemized in the Order and call for "strict adherence to social distancing requirements".

 

To enforce the new order, City Inspectors will be paid extra by the County to check for compliance.  The order also encourages residents to report violations by calling the La Porte County Heath Department Covid-19 Hotline at 219-362-2525.

 

This new order goes into effect, county wide, on Monday, November 16th and will be in place until further notice.   The order was released with the support of Mayor Tom Dermody of La Porte, Mayor Duane Parry of Michigan City, and La Porte County Commissioners (link to previous article).

 

 

 

Another Highway Roundabout Proposed Near La Porte County

(New Carlisle, IN) - Another roundabout overpass could be stretching over SR 2 just east of La Porte County.  St. Joseph County economic development officials are looking to facilitate increased traffic through the proposed industrial area near New Carlisle.

 

A plan released for a redevelopment meeting this week shows a dog bone roundabout connecting SR 2 to Larrison Dr.

 

Economic Development Director Bill Schalliol says it’s one of many options. "We've hired Lochmueller Group out of South Bend to help us work on some concepts with INDOT on what an improved intersection at Larrison and 2 would look like," he said. "The plan that was in the packet does reflect the dogbone interchange. If not exactly modeled after the one at 2 and 20, it's very similar in footprint. Whether or not that ends up being the final design is still up in the air."

 

Schalliol says area farmers and managers at IN/Tek-IN/Kote have already expressed concern over large vehicles navigating a roundabout. But, he says some change to the intersection is necessary. "It's a footprint model more than anything to show what kind of area might be required to that kind of interchange," he said. "But there needs to be an upgrade at that intersection; there will be an upgrade at that intersection.  We're going to start doing property acquisition to support improvements in that area."

 

Those efforts, Schalliol said, will happen through 2021. Other road improvements are also planned for that area to facilitate truck traffic between SR 2 and US 20. Larrison Road will be rerouted to connect better with Smilax Road, and east-west roads like Edison and Early will be improved.

 

A connection north of US 20 to the Indiana Tollway could also be in the future. Schalliol said that possibility depends on the extent of industrial development in the future.

La Porte County Continues to Set COVID Records

(La Porte County, IN) - While COVID-19 numbers are escalating across the state and the nation, La Porte County is proving that it's not immune from the Pandemic.  Yesterday, La Porte County set a new record for the number of Positive COVID-19 cases reported in a single day.  When the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) released their numbers today, we learned that 142 county residents received Positive results yesterday, toping the previous high of 100 cases, set earlier this month on November 3rd.

 

Cornonvirus Positive Cases has been steadily on the rise since September 23rd, when the 7-day average of new Positive Cases was 8 per day.  As of November 13th, this average has increased to 89 new Positive Cases daily.

 

Hospitizations have also been on a steady rise in La Porte County.  HTNN reported this week (link here) that the major hospitals in La Porte, Porter, and Starke County's are at or near capacity, putting a significant strain on their Health systems.  During the first 7 days of November alone, the ISDH reports 29 new COVID-19 related Hospitalizations in La Porte County. 

 

COVID Deaths are also on the rise in La Porte County.  During the 7 day period between November 4th and November 10th, families in La Porte County suffered from fourteen COVID-19 deaths.  This is the first time during the Pandemic that we've averaged more than a death a day from the virus. 

 

Stay tuned to 96.7 The Eagle and HometownNewsNow.com as we continue to report on the local impact of COVID-19 in La Porte County.

New Prairie Middle and High Schools 100% E-Learning Next Week

(New Carlise, IN) - The rise of COVID 19 cases is forcing New Prairie High School and New Prairie Middle School to take a break from in-person instruction for at least one week of instruction.  The Week of November 16th will be a 100% e-learning week for both of those schools, followed by a full week off for Thanksgiving.  Meanwhile, the New Prairie Elementary Schools will continue with their 50% Hybrid instruction model for the week leading up to Thanksgiving Break. 

 

Below is a portion of the notification, as posted on the School Corporation's Facebook page yesterday afternoon:

 

"Due to the number of positive cases/quarantines at NPHS & NPMS, continued increases in these numbers since Tuesday, and the number of secondary level students we are still awaiting COVID test results, the following Attendance Plan will be used the week of November 16th

New Prairie High School & New Prairie Middle School will be on E-Learning the Week of November 16th.

 

NPUSC Elementary Schools will continue on the 50% Attendance Hybrid the Week of November 16th.

 

Thanksgiving Week (Nov. 23-27) will be a full week break K-12, no E-Learning or Instruction will occur.  NPUSC hopes to continue with at least the 50% Attendance Hybrid the Week of November 30th.  A follow up communication will be sent on November 25th. NPUSC Elementary Schools will continue with 50% Attendance next week due to not having near as many cases/quarantines as the secondary schools and Orange status for LaPorte County."

COVID Rate Exceeds 20% in Some Areas

(Indianapolis, IN) - In some parts of Indiana, more than 20% of people have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past seven days, according to the latest figures provided Friday by the Indiana State Department of Health. 

 

LaGrange County in the northeast part of the state and Perry County along the Ohio River each have positivity rates above 20%

 

According to ISDH, seven other Indiana counties have positivity rates of at least 15%.

None of those counties are in the immediate area.

 

Here in La Porte County, ISDH reported 143 news cases today or about twice as many as yesterday. 

 

The positivity rate in La Porte County was 11.9 percent.

Police Give Thanks to Church Leaders

(La Porte, IN) - Two La Porte church leaders have been publicly recognized for all they do for police and other emergency responders.  Pastor Dennis Meyer and Carey Garwood, with Bethany Lutheran Church, have raised money for several years to do things like purchase equipment for police and other responders.

 

One of their fund raisers is Red, White and Brew.  The tasting and concert event, featuring Nashville recording artists, draws a few thousand people annually with proceeds going to help support law enforcement and others on the front lines of public safety.

 

After La Porte County Sheriff, John Boyd, presented them with a plaque today, Meyer said he wants emergency responders to know “we have their backs.”  Boyd said their support has been unwavering at a time when law enforcement in different parts of the nation has come under extreme scrutiny.

 

Meyer, ringing his church bell for First Responders every Thursday at 10 a.m. for several weeks during the Pandemic is another example of the many ways he and his congregation show their appreciation.

 

The presentation was made during today's La Porte County Sheriff Merit Commission meeting. 

Officers Commended for Capture in Grandmother Assault

(La Porte, IN) - Several La Porte County Police officers were recognized today for arresting a man accused of beating his 93-year old grandmother.  Police say Cylis Tursi also fired several rounds at his mother.

 

On October 23rd, officers responded to a home in the 8000 block of W. 200 North.  Sheriff John Boyd said officers did not initially go inside for the safety of everyone involved but later decided to enter once a strategy had been developed.

 

The suspect, known by law enforcement as having a history of violent and erratic behavior, happened to be just outside the door as officers approached the residence, he said.  Boyd said the situation ended safely after officers momentarily stunned Tursi by hitting him with a  "bean bag round."

 

He was safely grabbed by police while he was stunned.  Police said bean bag rounds are fired from guns but do not inflict serious injury.  Typically, the impact causes a suspect to become disoriented long enough to be safely taken into custody, police said.  

 

Certifications of commendation were given to Chief Deputy Ron Heeg and officers Andy Hynek, Austin Wells, Tyler Oberholtzer and Jonathon Samuelson during the La Porte County Sheriff Merit Commission meeting. 

 

The grandmother was taken to a hospital but her injuries were not considered life threatening, police said.  Tursi is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with criminal recklessness and one other count.

New Fire Chief Named in Wake of Incident

(Michigan City, IN) - A new Fire Chief has been named in Michigan City.  Captain Dennis Legault was appointed by Mayor Duane Parry yesterday.  According to the mayor’s office, Legault has been a member of the fire department for 26 years.  He replaces Craig Krivak who was abruptly demoted earlier this week.

 

According to the Mayor’s office, Krivak he was off duty when an undisclosed incident at the home of another Michigan City Firefighter occurred last week.  That incident is currently being investigated by Indiana State Police.

 

Assistant Fire Chief Kyle Kazmierczak was also removed from his position over the incident, according to the Mayor's office, and his position remains unfilled at this time. 

Three People Seriously Hurt in Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte man was the most seriously injured in a three vehicle crash outside of La Porte on U.S 35, near Schultz Road, on Tuesday (link to first article). 

 

21-year old Timothy Hulett was taken by helicopter Tuesday afternoon with head injuries, according to the La Porte County Sheriff's Office.   Police said it appears Hulett was fishtailing on U.S 35 when he veered into the opposite lane near Schultz Road at a high rate of speed.  Police said he hit the driver’s side of an oncoming SUV before striking a third vehicle.  Hulett was unconscious before transported to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, police said. 

 

One of the other drivers, 50 year old Linda Eldred, of La Porte, complained of pain.  Her two passengers, 49 year old Carl Eldred, Jr. and a juvenile female, were taken by ambulance with fractures and other possible injuries.

Michigan City Schools Going All Virtual

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Area Schools is switching to all online learning due to rising

coronavirus numbers.  The change begins on Monday.

 

School officials say the number of students quarantined for coronavirus was rising rapidly.  They recently announced they were going to continue with the hybrid in-person and online learning model, but announced the change to all online learning yesterday.

Police Officers Earn Promotions

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte Police has promoted two officers. 

 

Officer Matt Drangmeister was promoted to Corporal following the retirement of Corporal Dan Reed, according to Police Chief Paul Brettin.

 

He is assigned to the detective bureau as an evidence tech. Drangmeister has served on the department for nearly 13 years and was also formerly the handler for the late K9 Rambo.

 

 

 

 

 

Officer Chae Uhlemann was also promoted to Corporal upon the retirement of Captain Dennis Behenna. 

 

Brettin said Uhlemann is currently assigned as an investigator in the detective bureau and has been with the department for close to 13 years.  Uhlemann is also the department defensive tactic/taser instructor.

 

"Corporals Drangmeister and Uhlemann are two valuable assets to the department," Brettin said. "Their experience and leadership skills make them incredible role models on the team, and their promotions are well-deserved. I look forward to watching them both continue to grow and lead in their new roles."

 

Brettin said the department is currently accepting applications for sworn officers.  Applicants must be between the ages of 21 and 40 and must provide a copy of their birth certificate.

 

Brettin said those with questions can reach the police department at 219-362-9446.

New COVID-19 Cases Statewide Top 6,000

(Indianapolis, IN) - For the first time, the number of new COVID-19 cases in the state has topped 6,000.  According to the latest report from the Indiana State Department of Health released Thursday, there were 6,654 confirmed new cases of the virus from the previous day.  The number of Hoosiers testing positive for the virus the past seven days is now 10.5 percent.

 

In La Porte County, ISDH reported 96 new cases over the past 24 hours along with one more death.  The positivity rate in La Porte County stands at 11.4 percent.

 

Currently, the rate of infection remains low enough for schools in La Porte to be open for learning three days again next week.  La Porte Community School Corporation Superintendent Mark Francesconi said the positivity rate in La Porte County would have to reach 15 percent for school buildings to be closed for an entire week under ISDH guidelines. 

 

Francesconi said he would hate for that happen, feeling kids benefit more from being physically at school.  He said the risk for infection seems higher away from school judging from current data.

 

Francesconi said the information shows that school buildings are largely not where the virus spreads.  Most of the cases in the schools here seem to originate from the outside, he said.

Rainbow Emerging for Struggling Grain Producers

(West Lafayette, IN) - Latest projections by USDA could mean future prices for corn and soybeans approaching the historic levels from close to a decade ago.  That’s according farm economists at Purdue University, who caution the outlook for the long term is uncertain, though, because of continued volatility in the market.

 

The latest USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report for November forecasts a dramatic drop in supply of corn and soybeans and lower production of corn and soybeans than previous estimates.  The report also predicts higher demand for corn from rising exports than estimated by USDA last month.

 

According to the report, the end of the crop year price of corn is estimated at $4.00 per bushel or .40 cents higher from last month’s prediction.

 

USDA reduced its corn yield estimate by 2.6 bushels per acre because of late summer drought and wind storms largely in the Midwest while increasing its projection for exports by 325 million bushes.  Projected ending stocks for corn in November also dropped from 15-percent in October to 11-percent.

 

Jim Mintert, an agriculture economist at the West Lafayette campus, said the 1.7 billion bushel carryover in corn predicted by USDA is sharply down from the 3.3 billion bushel carryover USDA forecast in June and 500 million bushels less what was carried over in 2018.  He also pointed out the current ending stocks estimates for corn is starting to resemble carry over from 2013 and 2014 “when prices were a lot more positive than they have been recently,” he said.  Mintert said the average per bushel price of corn was $4.46 in 2013.

 

“There might be some upscale potential left in this market place as we go forward,” he said.  USDA also projected the end of the crop year price for soybeans at $10.40 per bushel.  “That gives us the highest price estimate since the 2013 marketing year,” Mintert said.

 

Estimated soybean production also dropped from last month’s projection by 1.2 bushels per acre to 50.7 bushels per acre largely because of the late summer weather extremes.  The latest projection by USDA also placed ending stocks for soybeans at 190 million bushels.  Mintert said the carry over in soybeans was just four-percent in terms of total usage.  In comparison, he said the carry over in terms of total usage for soybeans was 23-percent in 2018 because of trade disruption and 13-percent last year when a historic wet spring cut significantly into yields.  “This suggests that maybe this isn’t over with respect to the rally we’ve seen in soybean prices,” Mintert said.

 

Despite the projected drop in production, Mintert said the corn and soybean yields predicted are still close to record levels.  Nathan Thompson, who’s also an agricultural economist at Purdue University, said the best decision for corn and soybean growers might be selling much, if not, all of this year’s crop right away.  He said there doesn’t seem to be much incentive to store and wait for higher prices before selling especially for soybeans.  “There’s opportunity to sell soybeans at real profitable levels right now. That certainly needs to be the first thing we’re thinking about,” Thompson said.

 

Mintert said farmers with enough resources to take the risk of storing their grain might want to hold a little more of their corn than soybeans.  “People who can’t afford very much risk probably should take advantage of some prices that are actually pretty profitable. You don’t want to let that escape,” he said.

Undefeated Bison Fall in Regionals

(New Buffalo, MI) - The state ranked New Buffalo High School Volleyball team lost in the

first round of the regionals.  The Bison lost to Battle Creek St. Phillips in four sets Tuesday evening.

 

New Buffalo was 20-0 going into the regionals and ranked 7th in the state for Class D school Volleyball teams.  The Bison reached the regionals by winning the District 4 championship. 

 

Last year, the Bison also lost in the first round of the regionals.

COVID-19 Restrictions Tightening Statewide

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana is tightening its COVID-19 restrictions.  Governor Eric Holcomb said yesterday too many people have let their guards down the since economy here was allowed to fully reopen.

 

Starting this weekend, crowd sizes will be limited to 20 people in the highest-risk counties and 50 people in the next highest-risk counties.  Capacity limits will also go into effect at school sports and extracurricular events under the governor’s order.

 

The statewide mask mandate is also being extended for another month.

Freed Prisoners to be Given Narcan

(Indianapolis, IN) - It’s not exactly a going away present but it’s something that could help prisoners rejoin society.

 

Narcan will be given to offenders upon their release from prisons in the state.  According to the Indiana Department of Correction, the heroin antidote, Narcan, is another way to help offenders transition back into the community.

 

More than 2,200 Narcan kits have already been provided to the cause, officials said.

Baby Delivery on Phone by 911 Dispatcher

(La Porte, IN) - A baby was delivered over the phone here in La Porte County.  It was the first phone delivery for 911 dispatcher Melissa Elder.  She gave instructions on what to do with the baby on its way.

 

La Porte County E-911 director Steve Alt said the dispatcher used her training to give instructions on delivering the baby over the phone and ABC57 out of South Bend plans to do a news story about the effort.

 

Commission president Sheila Matias chuckled when talking about the rattles and gifts presented to the dispatcher.  A picture of the dispatcher holding a rattle and certificate is posted on the La Porte County 911 center’s Facebook page.

La Porte Man Killed in Motor Vehicle Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte man was killed in a single vehicle crash outside Michigan City this morning.  Matthew Moore, 32, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office.

 

Police said he was operating a 2020 Chevrolet pick-up northbound on Hitchcock Street.  For unknown reasons, police said Moore veered left off the pavement then drove parallel to the roadway before striking a NIPSCO pole.  The truck continued for several hundred feet before striking a tree.  Police said the vehicle kept going for an undisclosed distance until crashing into a fence.

 

Whether alcohol or drugs had anything to do with the collisions won’t be known until receiving the results of a toxicology test, police said.  Emergency responders were called to the scene north of Earl Road just before 3 a.m.

Serious Injury Crash on U.S. 35

(La Porte County, IN) - Four people were injured in a motor vehicle crash outside La Porte yesterday.  It happened about 3 p.m. on U.S 35 near Schultz Road.

 

La Porte County Police said three vehicles were involved in the crash.  One person was taken by helicopter.  Police said further details about the incident will be released once the investigation of the accident has been completed.

Santa Parade Still On at a Social Distance

(La Porte, IN) - The annual Santa Parade in La Porte is still a go right now ,but with major

adjustments for social distancing.  This year, the Santa Parade is scheduled for November 28th beginning at 11 a.m.

 

Instead of the units customarily parading down Lincolnway, the units will be lined up on State Street, according to the Greater La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership.  LEAP officials said parade goers can drive by the units and proceed to the old train depot where Santa Claus will be stationed.

 

Santa will be in his chalet to take COVID-19 safe pictures with children and receive letters to Santa in a mailbox outside, LEAP officials said.

Veterans Day Ceremony Goes Virtual

(La Porte, IN) - It’s Veterans Day.  The annual ceremony in LaPorte this year will be a virtual event.  It was prerecorded about two weeks ago and can be seen on the internet.

 

La Porte County Commissioner, Rich Mrozinski, said the ceremony will be available on Facebook, You Tube and on ALCO-TV beginning at 10 a.m.  ALCO-TV will air the ceremony again at 3 p.m., 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.

 

Normally, the Veterans Day ceremony is live at the Civic Auditorium but is virtual this year due to coronavirus.

Human Remains Still a Mystery

(La Porte County, IN) - Human remains discovered in northern La Porte County last month  remain under investigation.  The remains were found two weeks ago in a corn field on 800 North in Springfield Township.

 

So far, further details have not been released.  However, authorities did reveal the identity of the remains have not been 100-percent confirmed.  Authorities said they expect to be in a position to release more details in the near future.

Job Openings Outreach Tomorrow in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Looking for a job?  There’s an event tomorrow in La Porte just for you.  A job fair will be at the Civic Auditorium.

 

Officials say five local manufacturers will be there ready to hire people for job openings.  American Licorice Company, American Renolit, Corsicana Mattress Company, E-Pak Machinery, Inc., and Jaeger-Unitek Sealing Solutions will be there.

 

Tomorrow’s job fair is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.

 

People are urged to send their resumes online before coming so job seekers can match you with the best fitting positions.  Resumes can be submitted at events@gotoworkonenw.com.

Tighter COVID-19 Restrictions Looming

(La Porte, IN) - It appears La Porte County will tighten COVID-19 restrictions in response to rising cases and hospitals at, or near capacity.

           

Dr. James Leonard from Northwest Health said all of their hospitals in La Porte, Valparaiso and Knox are at capacity.  If cases keep climbing at current rates heading into winter, “we will actually be beyond our capacity to safely care for these patients and we’ll be looking downstate to get some help,” he said.

 

More than 90-percent of the beds have been occupied for much of the past six weeks at Franciscan Health outside Michigan City, said Dean Mazzoni, President and Chief Executive officer at the hospital.  Mazzoni said about 30-percent of his beds are taken by COVID-19 patients, a rate higher than even at the start of the pandemic.  “We are definitely heading down a path that’s not a good one for us,” he said.

 

The Indiana State Department of Health reported Tuesday the number of people testing positive for the virus the past seven days in La Porte County was 12.1-percent.  Leonard said the positivity rate was the highest it’s ever been in LaPorte County.  “More and more folks are contracting the virus,” he said.

 

La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody proposed tightening restrictions countywide and received support from Michigan City Mayor Duane Parry along with every member of the La Porte County Council and the La Porte County Commission.  His plan includes tougher enforcement of the existing countwide mask mandate and restricting dine-in service at restaurants and bars serving food to either 75-percent or 50-percent capacity.

 

Bars providing strictly alcohol would be at a 50-percent capacity limit.  Retail establishments would be capped at no more than two or three customers inside for every 1,000 square feet.  Gyms and fitness centers would have to provide adequate space for social distancing.  Weddings and other social gatherings would not be able to exceed 150 or 250 people.

 

“For lack of a better term, things are blowing up here in our local community,” Dermody said.  He said the idea is to keep people safe, not overrun local hospitals and keep the economy moving until there’s a vaccine, which might not be readily available until sometime next year.  “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately, that tunnel might be a little bit out there,” he said.

 

On Tuesday, the LaPorte County Commissioners voted to work with both mayors on arriving at the final restrictions.  The restrictions would go into effect if authorized by LaPorte County Health Officer Sandra Deausy.

 

Deausy expressed support for rolling back restrictions.  “It’s frightening.  The numbers are terrible.  We need to move forward with this,” she said.

More Gun Related Arrests and Seizures

(Michigan City, IN) - Police are continuing to crackdown on illegal gun possession in Michigan City.  Six people have been arrested in recent days.

 

Police indicate they confiscated five illegal weapons while those suspects were taken into custody.   In one case, 29 year old Charles Pheal of Michigan City allegedly pointed a gun at someone on Halloween.

 

Police said 36 year old Leslie Lister, also of Michigan City, was arrested last week when he was found with an illegal firearm during a traffic stop.

 

Police are hoping to reduce gun violence in the city, which seems to have spiked over the past few years.

Conviction in Wife's Fatal Shooting Overturned

(Indianapolis, IN) - A Long Beach man has had his conviction overturned.  John Larkin was accused in the fatal shooting of his wife in 2012.

 

He was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.  Larkin argued he pushed his wife but did so only to take the gun away from her.  Evidence indicates the gun went off during the struggle.

 

Larkin claimed self-defense.  The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled there was not sufficient evidence to refute his self defense claims.

Bringing Home the Bacon

(La Porte County, IN) - Talk about bringing home the bacon.  Police and Animal Control officers are being recognized for corralling a huge hog in La Porte County last week.

 

It was running loose in the area of 500 West and 150 North.  Police say everyone worked together to capture the hog.  Some of the people involved in the effort, along with the overgrown hog, are in a picture posted on the Sheriff’s department Facebook page.

Venison Sought to Help Feed the Hungry

(Garrett, IN) - Indiana deer hunters are being asked to help feed the hungry.  Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry is asking deer hunters to donate what they have left after filling up their freezers.

 

Officials with the group say donations of deer meat would help at a time when families more than ever are struggling to buy groceries and food banks are challenged to have enough food in supply.

 

Hunters can simply tell processors to donate a portion of their meat to Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry at no cost.  The group partners with 85 meat processors statewide.

Local Hemp Processor Expanding

(Michigan City, IN) - A hemp company in Michigan City is expanding.  Officials said Viobin operates a hemp production plant on U.S 12 on the city’s east side.

 

It’s investing six million dollars into the facility.  The project includes expansion for hemp drying, feed production and processing along with additional equipment, officials said.  15 new jobs are projected from the investment.

 

Viobin has been operating in Michigan City since last year.  Industrial hemp is processed by the company into CBD oil for use in lotions and other products.  The city council last week approved tax abatement on the investment.

Change in Fire Department Leadership Over Incident

(Michigan City, IN) - The Fire Chief in Michigan City, along with his second in command, have been let go from their positions.  According to officials in Mayor Duane Parry's office, it has to do with their handling of an incident at the home of a firefighter.

 

The undisclosed incident happened Thursday while a group of firefighters were off duty.  Craig Krivak was released from his position as Chief and Kyle Kazmierzak was removed from his duties

as Deputy Fire Chief.

 

According to the Mayor’s office, new leadership at the fire department will be announced in the upcoming days.  So far, further details regarding the off duty incident have not been disclosed.

Old Bakery Site Ready for New Use

(La Porte, IN) - The site of an old bakery in La Porte is ready for redevelopment.  The former Tibma Bakery on Woodward St. was torn down about two months ago.

 

The site has also been cleared of all of the debris from the tear down and filled in.  Mayor Tom Dermody said the vision is new affordable housing and the hope is to have bids from residential developers as soon as the spring.

 

Dermody said leveling the old, vacant eyesore has already made a noticeable difference in the appearance of the neighborhood, even before the site gets redeveloped.  “I’m excited to develop what was a dangerous, old building.  An eyesore in our community.  If you look at it now, there’s opportunity for new housing in the city of La Porte,” he said.

 

The demolition cost slightly more than $100,000.  The city used federal dollars to pay for the work.

Boardwalk at Lake Nearly Finished

(La Porte, IN) - People will soon be able to walk above the water in La Porte.  The boardwalk is nearly finished at Clear Lake.  In addition, construction of a kayak launch has begun at Stone Lake near Cummings Lodge.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said the boardwalk, made of wood on the south side of Clear Lake, should be finished before the end of the month.  The kayak launch will be done before next summer, he said.  Dermody said the park department is also looking at the possibility of renting kayaks to people without their own kayak to put in the water.

 

The Healthcare Foundation of La Porte was a major financial contributor to both projects, he said.  “We are just so fortunate to have that organization in our community and that’s what’s making a difference as we continue to talk about livin’ the lake life for our La Porte residents so they can take advantage of all of our amenities.”

 

“Livin’ the Lake Life”, developed with help from a marketing firm, debuted last month as the new slogan for the city.

Brush Fires Keeping Firefighters Busy

(La Porte County, IN) - Firefighters were called to more brush fires today in La Porte County.  Two of the brush fires were reported around 10 a.m. in Scipio Township at Eagle Flight Lane and Big Bear and the 500 block of Kolar Drive.  About the same time, firefighters also responded to a brush fire in the 1000 block of W 800 South. 

 

There were also several brush fires in Coolspring Township yesterday.  Coolspring Township Assistant Fire Chief Warren Smith said the worst one was on 300 North.  That fire spread into a stack of utility pole and tires the owner kept on his property.  Smith said it took about two hours to bring that fire under control.

 

Chief Smith recommended that with the dry conditions, the public should refrain from burning open fires until after a significant rainfall is received. 

Bison Returning to Regionals in Volleyball

(New Buffalo, MI) - It’s off to the regionals for the still undefeated New Buffalo High School volleyball team.  For the second year in a row, the Bison won the District 4 Tournament.  They defeated River Valley on Saturday in three straight sets for the district championship.

 

Head Coach Kevin Labaj likes his team’s chances of winning the regional title following a regular season of playing quality competition from larger schools.

 

The Bison play Battle Creek St. Phillip Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at Climax-Scotts High School near Battle Creek.  New Buffalo is 20-0 and ranked 7th statewide in Class 4 D.

Woman Dies from Burns

LaPORTE COUNTY – A 75-year old LaPorte County woman, badly burned apparently while burning leaves, has died.

 

Marsha Wolf was flown to Loyola University Medical Hospital after discovered by a neighbor before 6 p.m. Thursday in the 2100 block of S. 350 East, according to La Porte County Police.  Police said most of her body was covered with severe burns.

 

A woman stepping out of her house to go for a walk discovered Wolf laying near her driveway, police said.  It appears Wolf was burning leaves but there was no evidence of how she was burned.

 

According to her obituary,  Wolf died the same day of the incident.

COVID-19 Cases Up 95% in La Porte County this Week

(La Porte County, IN) - According to the numbers reported by the Indiana State Department of Health today, La Porte County has experienced a 95% increase in new confirmed COVID-19 cases this week, while the 7 day positivity rate climbs above 10% for the first time since the early days of the pandemic.  With the Positivity Rate crossing 10%, it's expected that the state will increase the COVID score for La Porte County from a 2.0 to a 2.5 when they revise the scores on Wednesday.  Here is an analysis of the current La Porte County numbers:

 

New Positive Cases:  The week of November 1st through November 7th by far marks the largest surge of confirmed Positive COVID-19 infections in the county of the Pandemic.  Four of the seven days set new records for Positive COVID-19 cases reported.  Overall, our 7-day moving average of New Positive Daily Cases has increased to an average of 72 new cases daily, for a total of 504 new confirmed infections over the past 7 days in La Porte County.  This is a 95% increase in weekly Positive cases over the prior week.  

 

Positive Test Rate (Positivity Rate):  The 7 Day Positive Test rate in La Porte County rose to 10.1% on November 1st from a moving average of 7.5% on October 1st.  This represents a 35% increase in the Positive Test rate over the past month.

 

Hospitalizations:  November 2nd set a new record for single day Hospital Admissions during the Pandemic, at 6 Hospitalizations on that day.   During the month of October, La Porte County reported 76 new Hospitalizations from COVID-19, the highest level of Hospitalizations in La Porte County since the beginning of the Pandemic.  Prior to October, the previous record for Hospitalizations was April with 30 Hospitalizations during that month.   October finished with 153% more Hospitalizations than the month of April. 

 

Deaths:  During October, La Porte County  set a record for COVID-19 deaths in a single month, with 23 COVID-19 related deaths.  That's nearly twice as many deaths as September, which had a COVID-19 death count of 12 in La Porte County.  The previous record month was May with 16 deaths.  

 

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.

A League of Her Own

(LaPorte, IN) - A real peach of a lady passed away last week.  If you remember the film A League of Their Own, you know about the Rockford Peaches and the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

 

One of those players, Dorothy Christ, spent much of her life in LaPorte County. She passed away on November 2 at the age of 95.

 

At the age of 19, Dottie, as she was known, signed with the South Bend Blue Sox.  She was traded a couple of times, and ended up playing briefly with the Rockford Peaches.  Her cousin, Chuck Smith of La Porte, remembers playing catch with Dottie as a kid but had no idea she played pro until years later.  He says Dottie downplayed her baseball career, since she only played one season in 1948.  But, Smith says her example was a powerful one.  "You and those other women that played in that baseball league,” he would tell her, "paved the way for all these young girls—not just softball, but every sport.”  Smith says Dottie mentored many young players back in the 90s, including his own daughters, who played softball for La Porte High School.

 

According to her family, Dottie was a woman of many talents.  After baseball, she excelled at bowling.  She was also a wonderful singer.  During her playing days, Dottie would tell family members, she did more singing in the locker room than playing on the field.  Still, Dottie shares a special place in baseball history.  Smith says she was contacted by the Baseball Hall of Fame back when the All-American Girls League was enshrined in Cooperstown.  She received a stack of baseball cards of herself from her playing days.  Smith has one of those cards, as well as her baseball mitt from 1948, in a special display. And Dottie’s memory, he says, will always have a special place in his heart.

HTNN Top 5 News Stories - Week of 11/1/20

(La Porte County, IN) - When news happens in La Porte County, HometownNewsNow.com is there to bring you the story.  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 November 1st through November 7th:

 

#5:  Conflict Results in People Shot Outside La Porte Bar

 

#4:  Firefighters Battling Corn Field Blaze

 

#3:  Election Triggers Alleged Gun Pointing

 

#2:  Mechanic Puts Screws to Incumbents

 

#1:  Man Seriously Hurt in Car Wash Crash

 

And, if you're interested in seeing the La Porte County results of the election, you can find them in the article entitled, "Unofficial Election Results for La Porte County".

 

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.

Food Bank Adds Stop in La Porte County

(LaPorte County, IN) - The Food Bank of Northern Indiana will be making two stops in La Porte County next week.  Their regular Tuesday visit will happen at a different location. 

 

Volunteers will be at the La Porte YMCA on Michigan Ave. from 10:00 a.m. until noon on Tuesday.  That food distribution is being sponsored by the United Way of LaPorte County.  In addition, frozen meat will be handed out next Friday, November 13, in Michigan City. That giveaway will take place at the old Marquette Mall from 10 a.m. until noon.

 

La Porte Company Wins Defense Grant

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte engineering and industrial manufacturing company has won a sizable grant from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.  $250,000 has been awarded to J&L Dimensional to help further projects that contribute to national defense.

 

J&L was one of three Hoosier companies to win a grant. The IEDC collaborated with the Air Force Research Laboratory to select the recipients.  Retired Major General Omer C. Tooley Jr. is the IEDC president of defense development.  He said, "These grants will allow Indiana companies to continue innovating, competing and developing new solutions that encourage long-term, sustainable growth in Indiana's defense industry."

 

J&L will work with Rolls-Royce and Purdue University to develop cloud-based supply chain improvements.

Red Wave Colors Local Elections

(La Porte County, IN) - While Republicans at the national level ring their hands over Presidential results, local GOP leaders are riding high on a wave of red.  This week, La Porte and surrounding counties saw several races tip Republican.  The GOP nearly ran the table in La Porte, Pulaski, and Starke Counties.  And for the first time ever, the Democratic stronghold of St. Joseph County will soon have an all-Republican County Commission.

 

Kyle Hupfer is the Chairman of the State Republican Party and Governor Eric Holcomb’s campaign manager.  He says Republican victories in our area were no coincidence. "I think it's a trend you've been seeing statewide for a number of years," Hupfer said. "Hoosiers have gotten to know Republican leadership and come to trust it statewide.  And, you had two really strong candidates at the top of the ticket."  Hupfer says Republicans didn’t take any races for granted, especially in areas in northern Indiana that have traditionally leaned Democrat.  

 

At the state level, Republicans not only maintained, but grew, their supermajority in the General Assembly.  A supermajority is when one party has two-thirds of the members in a chamber, which is enough to conduct business without the other party being present.  Republicans have held a supermajority in both Houses since 2012.  This election, they picked up four more seats in the House and lost only one in the Senate. 

 

Hupfer said party leaders plan to use their clout to push COVID recovery efforts, teacher pay, and workforce development.

Election Triggers Alleged Gun Pointing

(La Porte, IN) - An argument in La Porte, allegedly involving a gun, might have something to do with Tuesday’s election. 

 

Daniel Santolino is charged with level 5 felony intimidation.  About 5:30 p.m. on Election Day, police were called to the 1200 block of Jackson Street.  According to court documents, the investigation indicates Santolino was on his porch when he asked a neighbor who he voted for. 

 

Santolino allegedly then uttered racial slurs and pointed a gun at the neighbor’s head.  He denied pointing the gun at the man, police said.

 

Santolino could face anywhere from a one to six year sentence.  For whom the victim may have voted for was not revealed.

Woman Burning Leaves Severely Burned

(La Porte County, IN) - A 75-year old woman burning leaves was badly burned in La Porte County yesterday.  According to La Porte County Police, 75 year old Marsha Wolf was taken by helicopter about 2 p.m. after discovered by a neighbor with severe burns over her entire body.

 

Police said it appears she was burning leaves at her home in the 2100 block of S. 350 East.  Conditions were windy at the time.  Exactly what happened to cause the burns was not known.

 

Police said Wolf was conscious and breathing when emergency personnel arrived.  She was airlifted to Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago.

 

Her condition today is not known.

 

Title Game Tonight for Slicers in Football

(La Porte, IN) - In High School Football, the La Porte Slicers  play for the Sectional Title tonight.  The Slicers (4-6) will take on undefeated Valparaiso at Kiwanis Field.

 

Valparaiso is heavily favored but the Slicers can’t be ruled out.  The Vikings beat Michigan City last week by a touchdown in the first round of the sectionals.  Meanwhile, the Slicers defeated Michigan City during the regular a month ago by one point in overtime.

 

96.7 The Eagle will broadcast the game with the Pregame Show beginning at 6:45 p.m. with Chip Jones and Steve Manering.  You can listen on-air at 96.7 FM, online at 967TheEagle.com, or download the free 96.7 The Eagle WCOE App from your App Store.

COVID-19 Reaching New Heights

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana has again set a record for new COVID-19 cases.  According to the Indiana State Department of Health, there were 4,462 news cases reported throughout Indiana yesterday.  There were also 45 new deaths statewide.

 

In La Porte County, 99 new cases were reported by the state yesterday, which is also a record locally for new cases reported in a single day.   On November 2nd, six new Hospitalizations were reported in La Porte County, a new single day high for new Hospitalizations.

 

The number of people testing positive in La Porte County yesterday was 9.7 percent or about three times higher than several weeks ago.

Jobs Rising at Bakery

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City bakery is expanding.  Hearthside Food Solutions is investing over 13 million dollars into its facility on U.S 20 on the city’s west side.

 

Officials said the project will expand the plant’s ability to make more crackers by adding things like processing and packaging equipment.  About 50 new jobs are expected to be created from the expansion.

 

Hearthside Food Solutions makes products ranging from baked snacks, nutrition bars to

frozen foods.

Firefighters Battling Corn Field Blaze

(La Porte County, IN) - Firefighters from multiple agencies were trying to put out a fire in a corn field between Kingsford Heights and Walkerton this afternoon.

 

Kenneth Michael said he just started harvesting corn on an 80 acre parcel when he first spotted what he described as a muck fire.  According to experts, muck fires result when loose, organic material below the surface of the ground ignites.  The layer below the surface can burn for weeks and reach temperatures above 500 degrees, experts said.

Michael said he did not know what caused the fire but speculated recent dry weather might have something to do with it.  He said all he could do was shut off his harvester and watch as firefighters headed out into his field to try and extinguish the blaze in the freshly harvested area of his field.

 

Michael said the flames pushed by the breezy conditions also advanced into some of his corn still in the ground.

Conflict Results in People Shot Outside Bar

(La Porte, IN) - It appears a conflict led to two people being shot outside a bar in La Porte over the weekend.

 

According to La Porte Police, 21 year old Deja Harris and 23 year old Demetrice Logan, both of South Bend, were wounded.  The shooting happened outside Mickey’s Bar on Tipton Street early Sunday.

 

Police said the investigation shows there was an argument that may have started inside the and continued outside when several rounds were fired into a crowd outside the establishment.

 

Police said the suspected gunman was described as a light skinned black male with dreadlocks.  He may have fled toward Michigan City.

 

Police said both shooting victims were taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend.  Their conditions were not known.  One of the victims was located in the back seat of a car that was heading toward the hospital in La Porte before stopped by police, 

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact La Porte City Police.

Mechanic Puts Screws to Incumbents

(New Buffalo, MI) - Hometown candidates in New Buffalo won all three of the open seats on the City Council in a landslide.

 

Roger Lijewski received over 600 votes while John Humphey and Brian Flanigan were next in line with well over 400 votes apiece.

 

Incumbents Mark Kroll, Robert Spirito and Karen Billingsley received anywhere from 369 to 277 votes.

 

Lijewski, who has been in a legal battle with the city over his plans to expand his Roger’s Wrecker Service, led the charge to give the incumbents the hook. 

 

Humphrey and Flanigan ran with Lijewski against the current members of the City Council.

Mail-In Ballots Confirm Most Outcomes from Election Night

(La Porte County, IN) - Most of the candidates leading on Election Night in La Porte County held on to win after counting of the 7,000 mail-in ballots was completed yesterday.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora lost to Joe Haney by more than 1,200 votes.  Kora was down by over 4,000 votes prior to the mail-in Ballots being added to the count.

 

Republican Tim Stabosz defeated Lynne Spevak by just under 200 votes in the race for La Porte County Auditor, a lead that narrowed from over 3,000 votes prior to the mail-in count.  Ela Bilderback won by a similar margin over incumbent La Porte County Recorder Lois Sosinski.


LaPorte County Clerk Kathy Chroback lost to republican Heather Stevens by close to 2,000 votes.  Chroback trailed by nearly 5,000 votes prior to the mail-in count.

 

In the La Porte County Coroner race, Republican Lynn Swanson won by more than 6,000 votes over the Democratic candidate, Mark Baker.

 

You can find the complete, yet "unofficial", election results for La Porte County by following link:  Unofficial Election Results for La Porte County

All Votes Now Tallied in La Porte County

(La Porte County, IN) - All of the over 7,000 mail-in ballots in La Porte County have been counted.  The outcome from some of the races on Election Night have changed now that every vote has been tallied.

 

Joie Winski ended up winning the La Porte County Treasurer’s race.  She defeated republican John Matsyshyn by just over 1,000 votes.  When counting stopped on Election night, Winski trailed by more than 2,000 votes.

 

Democrat Mike Mollenhauer was reelected to the La Porte County Council.  Mollenhauer, along with Republicans Earl Cunningham and Connie Gramarossa won the three open seats on the County Council.  The mail in ballot count was not enough to change the outcome for incumbent La Porte County Councilman, democrat Jeff Santana,  who fell over 600 votes short.

Unofficial Election Results for La Porte County

(La Porte County, IN) - Election officials in La Porte County completed the count of ballots on Wednesday evening.  Below are the "Unofficial" Results with all 92 Precincts reporting, including nearly 7,000 Mail-In Ballots.  Please note, the results below are votes tabulated from La Porte County ONLY.  Tune into 96.7 The Eagle and HometownNewsNow.com tomorrow morning for full coverage of the results with Stan Maddux.

 

President and VP of the U.S.

45.32% (D) Biden Harris  (22,419)

52.54% (R) Trump Pence (25,991)

1.96% (L) Jorgensen Cohen  (968)

 

Governor and Lt Governor

(18,126) 37.29% (D) Myers Lawson

(26,123) 53.75% (R) Holcomb Crouch

(4,356) 8.96% (L) Rainwater II Henry

 

Attorney General

(22,155) 46.89% (D) Jonathan Weinzapfel

(25,090) 53.11% (R) Todd Rokita

 

U.S. Rep District 1

(12,633) 51.68% (D) Frank J. Mrvan

(10,680) 43.69% (R) Mark Leyva

(1,125) 4.60% (L) Michael Strauss

 

U.S. Rep District 2

(9,478) 40.00% (D) Patricia (Pat) Hackett

(14,202) 59.94% (R) Jackie Walorski

 

 

State Senator District 5

(649) 28.62% (D) Luke Bohm

(1,619) 71.38% (R) Ed Charbonneau

 

State Senator District 8

(12,602) 41.28% (D) Gary Davis

(17,924) 58.72% (R) Mike Bohacek

 

State Rep District 8

(1,325) 41.76% (D) Ryan M. Dvorak

(1,848) 58.24% (R) Timothy Jaycox

 

State Rep District 9

(12,608) 58.97% (D) Patricia A. (Pat) Boy

( 8,773) 41.03% (R) Dion Bergeron

 

State Rep District 20

(7,878) 33.38% (D) Tim Gust

(15,723) 66.62% (R) Jim Pressel

 

Superior Court No. 1

23,395 48.85% (D) Michael S. Bergerson

24,498 51.15% (R) Jaime Oss

 

Superior Court No. 2

(30,284) 100.00% (D) Richard Robert Stalbrink, Jr.

 

Judge of the Superior Court No. 3

(32,461) 100.00% (R) Jeffrey L. Thorne

 

Judge of the Superior Court No. 4

(29,517) 100.00% (D) Greta S. Friedman

 

Circuit Court Clerk

(22,966) 47.92% (D) Kathleen A. Chroback

(24,956) 52.08% (R) Heather Stevens

 

County Auditor

(23,782) 49.79% (D) Lynne F. Spevak

(23,981) 50.21% (R) Timothy J. Stabosz

 

County Recorder

(23,625) 49.73% (D) Lois Sosinski

(23,878) 50.27% (R) Elzbieta (Ela) Bilderback

 

County Treasurer

(24,278) 51.11% (D) Joie Winski

(23,222) 48.89% (R) John Matwyshyn

 

County Coroner

(20,565) 43.19% (D) Mark P. Baker

(27,053) 56.81% (R) Lynn Swanson

 

County Surveyor

(30,846) 100.00% (D) Anthony (Tony) Charles Hendricks

 

Co Commissioner District 2

(28,333) 74.31% (R) Rich Mrozinski

(9,794) 25.69% (L) Jeremy Smith

 

Co Commissioner District 3

(23,173) 48.65% (D) Vidya Kora

(24,460) 51.35% (R) Joe Haney

 

County Council At Large (Vote for 3)

(15,684) 14.36% (DEM) Matthew Bernacchi

(19,492) 17.85% (DEM) Mike Mollenhauer

(17,487) 16.01% (DEM) Jeff Santana

(20,750) 19.00% (REP) Earl (Coach) Cunningham

(18,114) 16.59% (REP) Connie Gramarossa

(17,669) 16.18% (REP) Brett H. Kessler

 

La Porte Community School Board At Large (Vote for 3)

(8,771) 22.64% (NP) James R. (Jim) Arnold

(4,263) 11.00% (NP) Brett Binversie

(4,878) 12.59% (NP) Kyleen Fuller

(4,902) 12.65% (NP) Marie E. Gilliland

(2,492) 6.43% (NP) Robert M. O'Donnell, II

(6,183) 15.96% (NP) Rhonda Spence

(3,213) 8.29% (NP) Sarah Stef

(4,035) 10.42% (NP) Karla Vincent

 

New Prairie United SB District 1

(3,378) 100.00% (NP) Dale Groves

 

New Prairie United SB District 3

(3,248) 100.00% (NP) Phillip J. King

 

New Prairie United SB At-Large

(1,429) 37.37% (NP) Marc A. Gumm

(528) 13.81% (NP) Sheldon B. Scott

(1,867) 48.82% (NP) Jill Smith

 

South Central SB Hanna Twp

(1,296) 100.00% (NP) Allen L. Stevens

 

South Central SB Noble Twp

(1,291) 100.00% (NP) Geraldine (Gerrie) Grott

 

South Central SB At-Lg

(1,348) 100.00% (NP) Jacob L. Wade

 

Clerk Treasurer Pottawattomie Park

(102) 100.00% (D) Susan Tochell

 

Town Council Pottawattomie Park

(107) 100.00% (R) Vincent Miller

 

John Glenn SB Johnson Twp

(74) 100.00% (NP) Ryan Knowlton

 

John Glenn SB Liberty Twp

(56) 100.00% (NP) Christian Lee Mattix

 

John Glenn SB Lincoln Twp

(67) 100.00% (NP) Robert A. Borlik

 

John Glenn SB Polk Twp

(70) 100.00% (NP) Jared Egger

 

MSD of New Durham Twp (Vote for 2)

(1,603) 100.00% (NP) Karen N. Jedrysek

 

Michigan City SB Civil City

(12,152) 100.00% (NP) Marty Corley

 

Michigan City SB Michigan/Springfield

(10,920) 100.00% (NP) Deborah L. Chubb

 

Tri-Township SB District 1

(721) 56.68% (NP) Chad James Howell

(551) 43.32% (NP) Amy L. Welkie

 

Tri-Township SB District 2

(550) 47.09% (NP) James L. Dehaven

(618) 52.91% (NP) Aaron E. Rust

 

IN Supreme Court-Goff

(25,611) 71.25% Yes

(10,332) 28.75% No

 

Court of Appeals Dist 5-Brown

(26,170) 73.83% Yes

(9,274) 26.17% No

 

Court of Appeals Dist 4-May

(26,604) 75.47% Yes

(8,647) 24.53% No

 

Court of Appeals Dist 5-Robb

(26,470) 74.59% Yes

(9,016) 25.41% No

 

Court of Appeals Dist 3-Tavitas

(26,409) 74.49% Yes

(9,046) 25.51% No

 

Vacant City Council Seat Filled

(La Porte, IN) - Laura Koniezny was sworn in today as the new council member for La Porte's fifth ward, according to City of La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody.

 

Koniezny, an Indiana University graduate and local real estate agent, has served on La Porte's Redevelopment Commission since 2016 and has served as its president since January of 2019.

 

She is replacing Sarah Brown, who announced her resignation from the position last month.

 

Between her experience on the commission and her knowledge of the city, Dermody said he thinks she will make a great addition to the team.

 

"Laura's unique experience and dedication to our city makes her a great fit for our city council," Dermody said. "As La Porte continues to grow and improve, we need individuals with fresh ideas to help us see out our vision for the future. I have no doubt that Laura will become an important member of our team, and we look forward to working with her."

 

Koniezny and her husband Adam reside in the fifth ward with their two children, Axl and Arya, and their dog Ace. 

Man Seriously Hurt in Car Wash Crash

(La Porte, IN) - A driver was seriously hurt after crashing into a car wash last night in La Porte.  Police said 66 year old Scott Applegate was on Pine Lake Avenue when he veered

over the center line.  He jerked the steering wheel and lost control of the vehicle which broke a utility pole and crashed into a wash bay at the Speedy Car Wash at 821 Pine Lake Avenue.

 

Police said Applegate sustained internal injuries and was given six liters of blood.  His condition was not known.  Police also revealed the La Porte man had an alleged blood alcohol level more than twice the legal limit.

Fire at Old Rodeo Bar

(Michigan City, IN) - A fire late Wednesday morning at the old Rodeo Bar in Michigan City Wednesday could be linked to homeless people staying inside the vacant building.

           

Encountering smoke and flames showing from the second floor, Firefighters entered the front and back of the vacant structure at 1103 Franklin St.  Assistant Battalion Chief, Mike Orzech, said he wasn’t sure about the extent of the damage but it could have been much worse had there not been a quick response.   He said the flames were just starting to build when reached with water from hoses firefighters carried up the stairs.  “They found it and got it out pretty quick,” he said.

           

Orzech said it was too early in the investigation to know what started the fire but there have been reports of squatters finding their way inside the building.  “We don’t know for sure if that is the cause right now,” he said.

 

Complaints about homeless people wandering that area of the city adjacent to the Uptown Arts District are being addressed.

 

“It’s not like it used to be.  It was really bad for a while,” said Jim Musial, Executive Director of the Centers of the Homeless in Michigan City.  Musial said his organization has helped over 140 people into permanent housing this year.  He said their clients go through programs designed to overcome the causes of them being homeless.

 

More overnight shelters have also been created for people who must adhere to rules like no drinking and drug use.  “For the most part, the downtown area has been much quieter,” he said.

Trump Vows Legal Fight After Declaring Victory

(Washington D.C.) - The President declared victory early this morning with several states being too close to call.  President Trump also alleged voter fraud is at work and vowed a legal challenge all the way to the U.S Suprme Court.

 

His opponent, Joe Biden, asked for patience.  Biden said voters, not the courts, should be allowed to decide the race.

 

Michigan is one of the states that could decide the election with Biden holding a narrow lead.  There are still votes to be counted in other states like Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where the race has not been called.

 

Here in La Porte County, president Trump is ahead of Biden by about 15% with about 7,000 mail in ballots still to be counted.

Election Locally Not Settled Either

(La Porte County, IN) - Election Night left a major cliff hanger in La Porte County when counting of the ballots was declared finished for the night at around 9:00pm.  Left to be counted are about 7,000 mail-in ballots in La Porte County.  Counting of those ballots began begin at 8:00 a.m. this morning.

 

With nearly 7,000 votes outstanding, several races are too close to call.  This includes the race for County Council at Large.  Republicans Earl Cunningham, Connie Gramarossa and Brett Kessler were the top vote getters on Election night for the three open seats for County Council at Large. 

 

But, with the race being tight and with Mail-In votes expected to lean Democratic, La Porte County Councilman Mike Mollenhauer, a Democrat, could make up enough votes in the mail in ballot counting to be reelected.  Incumbent La Porte County Councilman Jeff Santana, also a Democrat, could also stand a chance of coming out on top once all of the mail-in votes are tallied.  Gramarossa and Kessler received 16,454 and 16,191 votes respectively.  Mollenhauer received 15,808 votes while 14,084 people voted for Santana.

 

Also still in play is the La Porte County Treasurer race.  Democrat Joie Winski currently trails Republican John Matawyshyn in the race by just over 2,000 votes.

 

Traditionally, political experts said Democrats in Indiana use mail-in voting by a 2 to 1 margin.

 

La Porte County Clerk, Democrat Kathy Chroback, is trailing republican Heather Stevens by nearly 5,000 votes while Republican Tim Stabosz is leading Lynne Spevak by just over 3,000 votes in the LaPorte County Auditor’s race.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora is behind republican Joe Haney by more than 4,100 votes in his bid for a third term. 

 

Lynn Swanson, the Republican nominee for La Porte County Coroner, is expected to win her position, who leads Democrat Mark Baker by over 8,000 votes.  

Republicans Dominate Election Locally So Far

(La Porte, IN) - Most of the machine votes cast in La Porte County before and during Tuesday’s election were counted.

 

Mail-in ballots will not start being tallied until Wednesday morning.

 

Among the surprises is the over 4,000 lead republican Joe Haney has over two term incumbent democrat Dr. Vidya Kora in the race for La Porte County Commissioner.

 

Republican Tim Stabosz was leading democrat Lynne Spevak by over 3,000 votes in the race for LaPorte County Auditor.

 

Another republican, Ela Bilderback, also had a more than 3,000 vote advantage over incumbent La Porte County Recorder Lois Sosinski.

 

Republicans Earl Cunningham, Connie Gramarossa and Brett Kessler were also the top three vote getters, so far, for the three open seats on the La Porte County Council.

 

The closest incumbent democrat in the race was Mike Mollenhauer, who was over 300 votes behind Kessler.

 

About 7,500 mail-in ballots were left to the counted.

Boy Leads in Bid for Second Term

(La Porte, IN) - Pat Boy was ahead in LaPorte County but trailing in Porter County in her bid for a second term as State Representative from District 9.  Boy, 70, a democrat from Michigan City had a slightly more than 2,000 vote lead over Dion Bergerson in the machine vote in La Porte County.  About 7,000 mail-in ballots will start being counted Wednesday morning, LaPorte County officials said.

 

Bergeron, 46, a republican  also from Michigan City, was ahead by 373 votes in Porter County with less than half of the precincts reporting.

 

Boy did not want to speculate on the final outcome.  “I’m hoping. It’s going to be what it’s going to be and I’ll just have to wait and find out, “ she said.

 

Boy was on the city council for four-terms before elected state representative in 2018.  Bergerson is a real estate agent making his first bid for elected office.

Bohacek Hopeful of Gaining Second Term

(La Porte County, IN) - Mike Bohacek, with a good sized lead, is optimistic about gaining a second term as Indiana State Senator in the District 8 race.

           

Bohacek, 51, a republican from Michiana Shores, was leading democrat Gary Davis 16,380 to 9,957 votes in LaPorte County Tuesday night.  Only the machine votes cast before and during Election Day were counted on Election Night.

           

All reamining 7,000 mail-in ballots will be tallied beginning Wednesday morning, according to LaPorte County officials.

           

His district includes Starke and St. Joseph counties.

 

Bohacek said he had about a 2,000 vote lead in Starke County but had no information on the vote tabulation in St. Joseph County.    “It’s looking pretty good for right now but there’s a lot of votes left to be counted,” he said.

 

Among the issues for both candidates was higher pay for teachers.  Bohacek is a station owner through Global Logistics in Chicago.  Davis, 63, is an attorney from northern LaPorte County.

           

President Trump Out to Early Lead

(Dixville Notch, NH) - The first votes in the race for president have been counted, and President Trump is ahead.

 

Reports indicate the votes were cast in two tiny towns in New Hampshire where polls open after midnight.

 

President Trump received 16 votes. Vice-President Joe Biden received 10 votes. Biden is expected to win the state of New Hampshire.

COVID-19 Patients in Local Hospitals Remain Steady

(La Porte County, IN) - Northwest Health in La Porte reports currently having 23 patients with COVID-19 in their new Hospital.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora says about 20 patients are currently being cared for with COVID-19 at the Franciscan Hospital in Michigan City.

 

Last month, Kora said the rising number of hospital patients with the virus at La Porte and Michigan City caused waits as long as 12 to 15 hours in the emergency rooms for patients waiting for available bed space.  When contacted recently, Kora did not have specific wait times but said the situation appears to be improving.

 

Officials with the hospital in La Porte, now called Northwest Health, said they had not seen an increase In emergency room wait times.  Northwest Health officials said wait times vary based on a patient’s condition and level of testing required for their care.

Proposed Rate Increase Approved

(La Porte, IN) - Water and sewer rates in La Porte are officially going up.  Last night, the city council unanimously approved an increase in fees of about 30-percent for residents and a higher percentage for commercial and industrial users by 2024.  The increases are expected to begin in 2021 and will incrementally increase annually through 2024.  

 

The funds from the increased bills will be used to pay for major water and sewer work to upgrade the aging system.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said nobody wants to increase fees. Still, there is more than $100 million in needed maintenance and upgrades to the aging water and sewer system, and existing revenue streams are not adequate to pay the cost.  Dermody said upcoming projects include relief from flooding at homes in the letter and number streets by separating combined sewers, which cause back-ups during heavy rain events.

Students Learning at Home Due to Gas Leak

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - Students at Rolling Prairie Elementary School are learning from home today.

 

According to the New Prairie School Corporation, a gas leak in the school area resulted in the need for an e-learning day today.

 

A NIPSCO crew is at the scene. More details will follow when more become available.

 

Long Lines at Polls Early This Morning

(La Porte County, IN) - It’s Election Day and the polls are open.  Long lines to vote began forming early this morning at polling precincts across La Porte County.

 

Sacha Gee Burns, a poll worker at Red Mill County Park on Holmesville Road near Westville, estimated there were 50 to 60 people waiting to vote before the polls opened at 6 a.m.  She said she’s never seen this many voters showing up so early.

 

In Wills Township, Mark Pahs from the Rolling Prairie area said there were close to 100 people waiting to vote before 6 a.m.  Usually, Pahs said the number of voters waiting in line this early is less than a dozen.

 

Cody Looney of New Buffalo estimated there were 50 people waiting to vote at New Buffalo City Hall just after 7 a.m. 

 

Former La Porte Mayor Leigh Morris says whoever is elected president should do what’s best for the nation and that’s work toward the middle to get things done for the most citizens as possible.

 

The polls are open until 6 p.m. in Indiana and 8 p.m. in Michigan

Two People Shot in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Two people were hit by gunfire in separate shootings in Michigan City over the weekend.  According to Michigan City Police, officers about 11 p.m. Saturday were called to Franciscan Health where they found a 26-year old male with a non-life threatening gunshot wound.  Where the shooting occurred and the chain events leading up to it are still under investigation, police said.

 

Four hours later, officers responded to a report of gunfire at Crown Food Mart at 1302 E. Michigan Boulevard.  Police said there were about 15 people in the parking lot and several vehicles fleeing the scene.  A 24-year victim of that shooting was discovered in the backseat of a vehicle pulled over by officers for speeding, police said.  The vehicle was heading to the hospital with the victim, who wound up being taken by an ambulance requested during the traffic stop.  The injuries suffered by that victim were also described as non-life threatening.

 

Police said no arrests have been made in any of the shootings, which are not believed connected. A motive and other details about that shooting are being investigated. 

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Michigan City Police Department.

Two Cows Actually Hit by Motor Vehicle

(La Porte, IN_ - A motor vehicle actually hit two cows outside La Porte last week.  David Keeton, 60, of LaPorte was westbound on Indiana 2 about 6:30 a.m. on Friday, according to a report by La Porte County Police released on Monday.  He swerved to avoid a cow on the two lane highway at 400 West but struck the side of the animal with his 2016 Nissan Rogue, police said.  He then struck another cow more toward the center of the animal.

 

Despite heavy damage to the vehicle, police said the driver was not injured.

 

The cows were among a dozen or so head of beef cattle that escaped from a farm beside the highway.  Owner Heather Kessler said the heifers somehow escaped from their pen through a sliding door on the side of a barn. 

 

Kessler said one of the cows struck by the vehicle died quickly.  The other cow had some bruising and bleeding on its head but was “otherwise fine,” she said.

 

Kessler said about 75 head of cattle, including bulls and calves, are kept right now at the farm which used to be owned by Les Craft.  Craft sold the property in 2019 and took his cows to another farm in Montana to realize a longtime dream of being a rancher in Big Sky Country.

Two Wounded in La Porte Shooting

(La Porte, IN) - Two people were shot in La Porte over the weekend.  Authorities said officers, about 3 a.m. Sunday, were called to a disturbance in a parking lot across from Mickey’s Bar & Grill on Tipton St.  Both gunshot victims were taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend.  Police Chief, Paul Brettin, said no arrests have been made yet.

 

Then, about 1 p.m. Sunday, two houses were hit by rounds fired from a moving vehicle in the 200 block of Jefferson Ave.  Brettin said nobody was hurt in that incident which remains under investigation.  He said it is not known at this time if the gunfire related incidents were connected.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said the city will be cracking down on violence in response to the incidents.  “We are outraged by the senseless shootings that occurred this Sunday.  Violence of any kind will not be tolerated in our city and our police department will not rest until the perpetrators are caught and charged to the fullest extent of the law,” he said.

New Buffalo Takes Conference Tourney in Volleyball

(New Buffalo, MI) - The New Buffalo High School volleyball team remained undefeated by winning the Berrien Cass St. Joseph Conference tournament championship for their division over the weekend.

 

The Bison (18-0) easily defeated Countryside Academy and Michigan Lutheran Friday night.  The Bison are heavily favored to win the District 4 tournament championship, which will be held at New Buffalo beginning Thursday.

 

The Bison won the conference tournament and district tournament championships last season.

Bison Win Post Season Opener

(New Buffalo, MI) - The New Buffalo High School football team won its opening post season game over the weekend.  The 4th seeded Bison defeated Camden Frontier 54-14 at home on Saturday.  

 

Quarterback Michael Bombin and running back Brenden Tanksley were among the major keys on offense in the victory.  Bombin scored a touchdown on an over 60 yard run on the first play of scrimmage.

 

The Bison went into halftime with a 12-8 lead but their high powered offense on the sidelines for much of the first two quarters from Camden Frontier eating the game clock from moving the ball in small chunks ignited in the third quarter.

 

The 4-3 Bison will travel to #1 seed Martin High School on Friday, which has just one loss this season.

Emotional Rollercoaster Forecast for Election Night

(La Porte, IN) - Election Night in America Tuesday could be filled with anxiety, excitement and even fear over potential violence.  Many experts believe the often volatile race for president is too close to call.

 

Former La Porte mayor Leigh Morris did not want to predict the outcome but said it’s time for whoever is elected president to try and bring each greatly divided side of the political spectrum together.  Morris said the only way for things to get done for all Americans is if democrats and republicans work toward the middle.  Morris, 85, said he’s never seen the country so politically divided and it’s time for the next president to call stakeholders to the table to begin working out their differences. 

 

La Porte County Republican Party Chairman Mitch Feikes said he believes president Trump has the momentum but felt the race was still too close to make any predictions. 

 

La Porte County Democrat Party Chairwoman Carol McDaniel said she also felt the race was too close to predict the outcome but is rooting for Joe Biden to come out on top.

 

Local political insiders say if any violence breaks out over the outcome of the election it would likely be strictly in the larger cities and places where violence has broken out in previous months.  

Cougars Lose Bid for State Title

(New Carlisle, IN) - The New Prairie High School girls’ volleyball team did not make it out of the semi-state tournament.

 

The Cougars lost to Ft. Wayne Bishop Dwenger in four sets Saturday evening.  It was New Prairie’s third consecutive trip to the semi-state in girls’ volleyball.

Delays in Vote Counting Tomorrow Anticipated

(La Porte, IN) - All votes nationwide are not expected to be counted on Election Night due to

heavy mail-in balloting.  La Porte County Clerk Kathy Chroback said the vote tabulating here could also extend into the following day.

 

Chroback said each mail-in ballot has to be looked over by election inspectors from each political party by hand before counted to make sure the signature on each ballots matches the one from each voter and other requirements.

 

She said about 7,500 mail in ballots have been turned into her office.

Last Day for Early Voting at Polls

(Indianapolis, IN) - Today is the final day to vote early in Indiana.  Here in La Porte County, people can vote early at the walk-in polls at the La Porte County Complex in La Porte, the La Porte County government offices on W. 8th St. in Michigan City, the old public library building at 400 North and Johnson Road in Coolspring Township and Wanatah Town Hall until 12 p.m.

 

Mail-in ballots statewide must be received by county clerks’ offices Tuesday by 12 p.m.

 

In Michigan, mail in ballots are due before polls Tuesday close at 8 p.m.

Trump Train Rolls Through LaPorte County

(New Carlisle) - For several hundred Trump supporters, Saturday was a beautiful day for a rally and a parade through LaPorte County.  Around 10 a.m. Saturday morning, over a hundred vehicles gathered at the American Legion in New Carlisle.  Most of them were decked out in multiple flags and banners supporting President Trump.  Leading the parade was a Ford Excursion stretch limousine driven by Pat Kindig of La Porte. A life-like mannequin of President Trump was perched out of the moon roof. Kindig said he bought the Trump figure in Auburn, Indiana for $1,000. “He’s worth every dime of it,” Kindig said, “It’s just a nice day out for a Trump rally, and here we are.”

 

Police stopped traffic briefly so the caravan could hit the road. They traveled west along US 20 to SR 39, then north to New Buffalo, before heading east through Three Oaks back to their starting point.

 

Mingling with supporters afterward were St. Joseph County Commissioner candidate Derek Dieter, State Senator Mike Bohacek, and U.S. Congresswoman Jackie Walorski. “There’s nothing more American than what’s happening out here,” Walorski said, “These events are everywhere. They’re spontaneous; they’re community-based, and it’s because a lot of these people have one thing in common: they want four more years of Donald Trump.”

 

Rob Leinen of New Carlisle spearheaded the event. He said he didn’t do much except post the idea on social media. “That’s all I did,” he said, “I made an event for it, made it public, and it went from there. It had 600 likes in a couple of days.” Rob Hutchison and his wife came down from Three Oaks, Michigan after seeing the post. He said that Saturday’s rally was the third one he had been to recently; and that it was the largest.

 

The rally was also a benefit for a local charity. Participants filled a van destined for the Rolling Prairie Food Pantry. Sue Hartwick, the food pantry manager, was thrilled with the results. “We’re just super happy to get this,” she said, “And they did give us some monetary donations, which we weren’t expecting at all. So we’ve been very blessed.”

October Sets Record for COVID-19 Deaths and Hospitalizations in La Porte County

(La Porte County, IN) - October was a record setting month in La Porte County for COVID-19 Infections, Hospitalizations and Deaths, according to the numbers reported by the Indiana State Department of Heath.  Here is an analysis of the current numbers:

 

New Positive Cases:  Wednesday, October 29th, a record of 73 New Positive Cases was recorded in La Porte County.  The previous high was recorded near the beginning of the Pandemic when 69 New Cases were recorded in La Porte County on April 15th.  Overall, our 7-day moving average of New Positive Daily Cases is at 38, for a total of 266 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 9.6% on

October 25th from a moving average of 5.7% on September 25th.  This represents a 68% increase in the Positive Test rate over the past month.

 

Hospitalizations:  From October 1st through October 25th, La Porte County reported 62 new Hospitalizations from COVID-19, the highest level of Hospitalizations in La Porte County since the beginning of the Pandemic.  Prior to October, the previous record for Hospitalizations was April with 30 Hospitalizations during that month.   October will finished with more than twice as many Hospitalizations. 

 

Deaths:  During the October, La Porte County will set a record for COVID-19 deaths in a single month, currently reported at 23 COVID-19 related deaths.  That's nearly twice as many deaths as September, which had a COVID-19 death count of 12 in La Porte County.  The previous record month was May with 16 deaths.  

 

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.

HTNN Top 5 News Stories - Week of 10/25

(La Porte County, IN) - When news happens in La Porte County, HometownNewsNow.com is there to bring you the story.  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:  Old Letter in a Bottle Discovered at Courthouse

 

#4:  Man Killed in Single Vehicle Accident

 

#3:  Human Remains Turn Up in Farm Field

 

#2:  Cow Struck by Motor Vehicle on Highway

 

#1:  Son Charged with Stabbing Mother

 

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.

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