Local News Archives for 2021-03

New City Manager Chosen

(New Buffalo, MI) - A new City Manager has been chosen in New Buffalo.

 

Darwin Watson was the City Manager in Benton Harbor from 2014 to 2019.

 

He’s been involved in real estate and other things like consulting ever since.

 

Watson said the potential of the lakefront community is one of the things that really peaked his interest in the job.

 

One of his goals is to create a more year round economy in the city driven primarily by summer tourism.

 

Watson said one of the keys is finding ways to draw more people here during the winter.

 

“I want to be able to be part of that and make it the gem that I know it can be,” he said.

 

The final terms of his contract are in the process of being finalized.

 

Former City Manager Dave Richards passed away in December from complications of COVID-19.

La Porte Becoming a "Gig City"

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte is well on its way to becoming an internet service provider’s first “Gig City.”  When the work is finished, slow internet speed will be a thing of the past at any home or business in La Porte connecting to what’s basically unlimited capacity fiber.  “I think this is massive,” said Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership. 

 

A ground breaking for the Surf Broadband Solutions project was held Wednesday but the internet service provider has been running the fiber underground for several weeks.  The La Porte-based company is investing $5 million on building a fiber network for anyone in the city to access, said Patrick Wheeland, Chief Technical Officer for the firm.

 

Right now, the fiber is going in south of Lincolnway but will start heading north in the coming weeks.  Wheeland said about 3,700 homes and businesses throughout the entire city will be able to tap into the network within the next couple of months.  The company will later spend another $5 million on extending the fiber to another 1,300 potential customers north and west of the city limits, he said.

 

Wheeland said there will be enough capacity for a single customer, for example, to streamline up to 200 HD movies on Netflix at the same time without a service interruption.  “It’s going to do everything you need with the speed it can provide,” Wheeland said.

 

The city is providing only right of way access to run the fiber and help in avoiding buried water and sewer lines.  Cook said access to such high volumes of bandwidth should be a difference maker in attracting new businesses and residents in an increasingly digital world.  “There’s so much that we do online having access to that connectivity becomes crucial,” he said.

 

Surf Broadband Solutions also provides access to fiber and wireless service in Lake and Porter counties and other parts of northern Indiana.  The company also has customers in the Chicago area and up into central Michigan. 

 

Wheeland said La Porte will be the first city it covers entirely with access to such high performance fiber but more are expected.  “We are working to spread fiber across all of our entire foot print,” he said.

Toy Faces Judge on Shooting Allegations

(La Porte, IN) - A South Bend man made his initial appearance today before a judge on allegations he committed a near fatal shooting in LaPorte.

           

Kenwood Toy, 29, was arraigned Wednesday in LaPorte Circuit Court on Level 1 felony Attempted Murder, Level 3 felony Aggravated Battery, Level 5 felony Criminal Recklessness and Class A misdemeanor Carrying a Handgun without a Permit.

 

He’s accused of shooting Jason Dickson in the back of the head on March 19 at an apartment complex at 1700 Andrew Ave. on the city’s west side.

 

According to court documents, Dickson was living at the apartment complex with the ex-girlfriend of Toy.

 

Dickson was outside one of the apartment buildings when Toy pulled up and fired a semi-automatic handgun soon after stepping out of a car, police said.

 

Police said eight spent bullet casings were recovered from the scene.

 

Dickson while being treated by paramedics managed to identify the gunman who was also picked out in a photo line-up by a witness to the shooting, according to court documents.

 

According to court documents, Toy and the woman once lived together at her apartment and have several children together.

 

Dickson took the children to South Bend for weekly visits with their father.

 

Police said Dickson was still waiting to have surgery to remove a bullet fragment from his brain early in the investigation.

 

Toy was given a March 7 trial date.

 

He was ordered by Judge Tom Alevizos to remain in the LaPorte County Jail on $100,000 bond.                

Police said officers on several occasions in the past responded to the home to handle domestic violence related calls when Toy was living there with the woman.

 

Toy, who also used to live in Michigan City, has prior convictions in LaPorte County for crimes like Battery, Invasion of Privacy and Resisting Law Enforcement, according to court records.

 

16 and Over Now Vaccine Eligible

(Indianapolis, IN) - Hoosiers 16 and over are now eligible to sign up for a free COVID-19 vaccination.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Health, more than 1.3 million additional

individuals in the state are now eligible for the vaccine.

 

IDH officials said vaccinations are offered at more than 500 clinics around the state.

 

The clinics include those at Meijer and Kroger.

 

Appointments can be made at https://ourshot.in.gov and by calling 211.

Brush Fire Consumes Old Camper

(La Porte County, IN) - An old camper went up in flames yesterday during a brush fire near Michigan City.

 

This happened on County Road 725 West near 275 North about noon.

 

Coolspring Township Assistant Fire Chief Warren Smith says the homeowner was burning leaves and brush on a windy day.

 

He said the near 20 foot long camper was not occupied because it was used for storage.

 

“It was a complete loss,” Smith said.

 

Fortunately, Smith said the house was never threatened.

 

The gusty winds blew the flames in the opposite direction of the residence.

 

Smith said about a half-acre of land in a wooded area also burned.

 

No live trees caught fire.  Just some dead trees already laying on the ground.

Arrest in Near Fatal Shooting

(La Porte, IN) - An arrest has been made in connection with a recent near fatal shooting in La Porte.

 

Kenwood Toy, Jr. is charged with attempted murder.

 

According to authorities, the victim was shot in the head March 19 at a home on Andrew Ave.

on La Porte’s west side.

 

The 29-year old Toy from South Bend was being held on $100,000 bond.

 

According to authorities, the shooting was over the victim seeing the suspect’s ex-girlfriend.

 

The arrest was made after La Porte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos following a review of the evidence ruled probable cause existed for Toy to stand trial on the allegations.

 

The victim was Jason Dickson.

 

According to court documents, he was shot in the back of the head.

 

Dickson and the woman lived together at the apartment complex at 1700 Andrew Ave.

 

Police said Dickson was outside one of the apartment buildings when the suspect pulled up.

 

It appears the gunman got out of a car and almost immediately fired eight rounds, police said.

 

According to court documents, the victim after the shooting had a bullet fragment lodged in his brain.

 

However, he still able to identify the gunman and describe the shooting as an “ambush” during a brief conversation with the police.

Unemployment Locally Near the Top

(Indianapolis, IN) - La Porte County has one of the highest jobless rates in the state.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the unemployment rate here is 6.9-percent.

 

That’s up from 4.8-percent from a year ago.

 

La Porte County has the third highest unemployment rate in the state.

 

Lake County has the second highest rate at 7.4-percent. 

 

The unemployment rate in Porter County was 17th highest at 5.3-percent.

U.S 30 Lane Restriction Announced

(Indianapolis, IN) - Travel will be restricted on a slight stretch of U.S. 30 in La Porte County soon.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, the four lane highway will be down to one lane in each direction near Wanatah.  The purpose is for a bridge overlay project over Slocum Ditch.

 

INDOT officials said the lane restrictions will begin on Monday and last through the end of the June.

Slicers Baseball Season Opener

(La Porte, IN) - The high school baseball season in La Porte gets underway this afternoon at home.  The Slicers play Hebron in a game broadcast live on 96-7 The Eagle beginning with the

pre-game show with Chip Jones at 5:15 p.m.

 

Head Coach Scott Upp said he has only two players with varsity experience because of the season last year being cancelled by COVID-19.  He said other teams are also dealing with lack of varsity experience from not playing high school baseball for more than 600 days.  “This year is like square one.   It’s just a different ball game,” Upp said.

 

Upp said he expects his players to go through some early growing pains but also compete.  The Slicers also play at home Thursday against Hobart.

Cooperation Sought for Dumpster Program

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte residents are being asked to cooperate with the city’s dumpster program.

 

Two dumpsters were set out late week for people to dispose of unwanted items such as

old furniture as part of the ongoing effort to clean up the city.  Once the dumpsters were full, though, people created a mess by placing their junk outside the dumpsters.

 

La Porte Code Enforcement Director Jeff Batchelor is asking people to come back with their

unwanted items once the dumpsters have been emptied so there’s room in the dumpsters to dispose of their trash.  Batchelor said materials placed outside the dumpsters create an eyesore and force city employees to spend a few hours cleaning up after people.  He said there’s also a cost because the city pays a disposal charge for each load.

 

Batchelor said the program is funded with a $50,000 grant for the city’s Urban Enterprise Association and he doesn’t want the funds to run out before the end of summer.  “The last thing I want to do is start fining people. Show a little respect and everybody wins,” he said.

 

The dumpsters are across the street from the Water Department and at the Street Department.  Batchelor said one of the dumpsters has a video camera nearby to catch violators.

Captured Following Two County Pursuit

(La Porte County, IN) - A man is accused of leading police on a high speed chase across La Porte County.

 

According to La Porte County Police, 36 year old Michael Flagg was westbound in the eastbound lanes of Indiana 2 when being chased near Hudson Lake about 2 a.m. yesterday.  The pursuit veered onto U.S. 20 and then Interstate 94.

 

Police said the chase was still on Interstate 94 when it ended in Porter County after stop sticks flattened one of the suspect’s tires.  The vehicle struck the driver’s side of a police vehicle before coming to rest.

 

Flagg, of Chicago, was being held Tuesday in the La Porte County Jail on Resisting Law Enforcement and other counts.

 

There were no injuries.

Reaction to Vaccine Forces Remote Learning

(New Carlisle, IN) - It’s e-learning today for all students in the New Prairie School Corporation.  Superintendent Paul White says it’s in response to employees reporting adverse reactions to the COVID-19 vaccines yesterday.

 

White says a decision on the rest of the week will be announced this evening.

Asking Girl for Sex Arrest

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man is accused of trying to get a girl to engage in sex acts on the internet.

 

42-year old Jonathon Schuette is charged with Level 5 felony Child Solicitation.  He was being held in the La Porte County Jail on $15,000 bond.

 

According to authorities, the Indiana State Police acted on a tip and made the arrest on Friday.  Schuette allegedly asked the girl on social media to engage in sexual activity and had communicated with her since 2018, police said. 

 

If convicted, he would face anywhere from a one to six year sentence.  

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Local Infrastructure Projects

(LAPORTE, IN) -  The Indiana Department of Transportation reportedly plans to spend $128M on La Porte County projects from 2022-25. On today's SOUND OFF episode, we discussed local infrastructure ideas that have either been proposed by our elected officials or INDOT. We also talked about proposals that our listeners would like to see considered. Conversations included the North/South Corridor going around LaPorte, the US 30 interstate proposal, and the roundabout going in at SR 2 and U.S. 6 in Westville, among other ideas. 

 

Listen to the full episode below. 

 

 

CREDITS: Dennis Siddall (Producer), Jeff Wuggazer (Editor), Nate Loucks (Host)

 

SOUND OFF is a community conversation show that airs every Monday and Friday on 96.7 the Eagle in LaPorte County, Indiana. SOUND OFF is a Spoon River Media production.

Weekend Shooting in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - A man was wounded in a drive by shooting last night in Michigan City. 

 

According to police, officers about 11 p.m. were called to the 400 block of Thurman Avenue.  A 41-year old Michigan City resident was sitting inside his vehicle in a driveway when multiple gunshots struck him and the vehicle, police said.  Police said it appears the shots were fired from a passing dark colored vehicle that sped away.  The victim was taken to the hospital with injuries considered non-life threatening.

 

No arrests were reported.  Anyone with information about the shooting is urged to contact Michigan City Police to help develop leads in the ongoing investigation.

Prison for Child Sex Offender

(La Porte, IN) - A 16-year prison sentence has been given to a man for having sex with a teenage girl in Kingsford Heights.  Michael Murphy, 30, of Plymouth was also placed on eight-years of probation on multiple counts of sexual misconduct with a minor.

 

According to the charging information in La Porte Circuit Court, authorities began investigating after the girl’s mother learned her 14-year old daughter and Murphy engaged in sexual activity last year.  Authorities said Murphy performed sexual intercourse with the girl on multiple occasions and also gave her alcoholic beverages and cocaine.  Court documents also revealed Murphy and the girl chatted with each other on social media.

 

As part of his probation, Murphy must take part in a sex offender program designed to correct

his behavior.

Suspected Drug Dealer Arraigned

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man made his initial appearance Friday in La Porte Circuit Court on multiple drug related counts.   

 

Police said Kenneth Myers was found with a small amount of methamphetamine and marijuana during a traffic stop on Grove St. nearly two weeks ago.  He’s also charged with selling prescription pills several months ago from his home on Federal Avenue last year. 

 

Myers, 52, has a prior drug dealing conviction.  According to authorities, he was pulled over for traveling well below the posted 35 mile per hour speed limit on E. Lincolnway.  He’s also charged with driving as a habitual traffic violator.

 

Myers was still being held Monday in the La Porte County Jail awaiting trial on the multiple counts.

Street Closed by Sinkhole

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte street is closed because of a sink hole that developed over the weekend.  A leak in an underground sewer is blamed for washing away the ground beneath

the pavement and causing the asphalt to fall in on a stretch of Brighton Street.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said Brighton Street at Rush Street will be closed indefinitely until the repairs are made to the sewer and street.  Dermody said the sinkhole illustrates the need for the recent water and sewer rate hike so money can be raised to upgrade the aging system.  “This is a perfect example.  This sewer line was probably built in 1910,” he said.

 

Casino Fined for Underage Gambling

(Hammond, IN) - A Northwest Indiana casino has been hit with a hefty fine for allowing underage gambling.  Individuals must be at least 21 years of age to legally gamble in both states.

 

Reports indicate an 18 year old man with a fake ID was repeatedly allowed to play black jack

and place bets on sporting events.  The Indiana Gaming Commission issued a $100,000 fine against Horseshoe Casino in Hammond.

 

Officials said the fake ID was scanned on more than a dozen occasions over a week and a half period, but each time the electronic system failed to confirm the ID was fraudulent.  Eventually, reports indicate the teenager was caught at a casino in Illinois.

 

In response, reports indicate Horseshoe Casino officials crediting the ID with being good enough to fool the system have decided not to admit anyone under 30 if similar problems with scanning to verify age of customers arise in the future.

New Buffalo Boys Win Post Season Title

(Three Oaks, IN) - In high school basketball, the boys from New Buffalo won the District 4 tournament championship over the weekend.  The Bison defeated Countrywide Academy 83 to 55 on Saturday at River Valley High School.

 

The game was close in the first half but the Bison ran away with it in the third quarter, outscoring the talented Cougars by 20-points.  Center Ryan Vinson came up big for the Bison with 19 points.  “We knew we had to come out strong and play hard to the finish and that’s what we did,” said Vinson, one of five juniors on the starting team.

 

Head coach Nate Tripp says the goal from the very beginning was winning the district title.  “We weren’t overlooking anyone but this was an expectation.  How far we can go, I don’t know.  When these guys are playing like that, we might have a little run in us.  We shall see,” he said.

 

New Buffalo advances to the regionals which begin Tuesday at Niles.  The Bison play Howardsville Christian at 5:15 p.m.

New Prairie High School Adjusts Attendance Plan Again

(New Carlisle, IN) - New Prairie High School is still battling COVID-19 infections and quarantines.

After sending high-schoolers to hybrid learning this week, school officials have waved the white flag, declaring 100% online learning next week. Spring Break starts Friday.

 

In the high school, eighteen students have tested positive, and 128 are under quarantine.  According to a statement issued by school superintendent Dr. Paul White, "[T]he school board approved a second semester attendance plan that included the contingency plan of moving to e-learning anytime approximately 1.5% of the student body at a secondary school is COVID positive.  At this time NPHS positive cases are exceeding that number." Other schools in the district, however, maintain relatively low COVID results.

 

Following Spring Break, high-schoolers will return to hybrid learning on April 12 until the numbers get back under control.

 

Health officials hope the numbers stay under control county-wide. After reporting new daily cases in the single digits a week ago, La Porte County registered 40 new cases on Thursday.

New Prairie Staff Scheduled for Vaccination

(New Carlisle, IN) - Faculty and staff at New Prairie are getting vaccinated, and none too soon.

 

On Monday, March 29, 150 school employees will receive the vaccine. Some will receive their first dose, others their second.  100 of them will travel to Penn High School for appointments.  Schools in the New Prairie district will release students early on Monday, so teachers can make their appointments.

 

The school district has made contingency plans for possible e-Learning later in the week, in case too many teachers become sick from vaccine side-effects.  New Prairie High School has already gone to 100% e-Learning next week because nearly 150 students are either sick or quarantined.

Public Meeting Announced for La Porte Bypass

(La Porte, IN) - A public meeting has been announced for consideration of a plan to construct a bypass around La Porte’s east side.

 

Proposed routes for a bypass surfaced several years ago at a public meeting.  Updated plans will be presented to the public again on Tuesday, April 13.  The goal of the project is to divert heavy traffic from Boyd Blvd. around the east side of La Porte and connecting to US 39 north of the downtown.

 

Under consideration are three routes north of SR2 and five routes south of 2 to US35. The website www.laportecorridor.com contains full details.

 

A presentation will be made on April 13 at the Civic Auditorium. The public meeting will run from 6:00 to 7:30 pm.

Local Democrat Now Leader of the State Party

Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana’s Democratic Party has a new leader who hails from this area.  Mike Schmuhl of South Bend has been elected as chairman of the party.

 

Democrats are hoping to tap into the popularity of favorite son Pete Buttigieg.  Schmuhl is a lifelong friend of Buttigieg and his former chief of staff and campaign manager.  Prior to that, he managed Joe Donnelly's successful Senate campaign in 2010.

 

The 38-year-old Schmuhl is a graduate of St. Joseph High School and the University of Notre Dame.  He leads a South Bend venture capital firm called Heartland Ventures.

 

Schmuhl will be leading an underdog cause. Democrats have not won a statewide race since 2012.

Traffic Cameras Popping up on Area Highways

(Porter County, IN) - The Indiana Department of Transportation is cautioning people not to overreact to a new surveillance system being installed on area highways.

 

New roadway monitors have been installed that check for overweight trucks.  According to a statement, the cameras being used "are part of a new Weigh-in-motion (WIM) system that INDOT is piloting for research purposes. This system identifies and weighs trucks as they pass by, eliminating the need for trucks to slow down to go through a weigh station." The project is an attempt to crack down on overweight trucks that damage roadways. According to the department, one 80,000 rig can do as much damage to pavement as 9,600 cars.

 

INDOT says the system does include cameras that read license plates.  However, the cameras cannot be used to issue citations without approval to do so from the state legislature.

 

Locally, such a checkpoint has been set up on U.S. 30 in Porter County, about 2.5 miles east of State Road 49. Another is being installed on I-94 near Chesterton.

Stimulus Money Fair Game for Creditors

(Indianapolis, IN) - According to the Indiana Supreme Court, creditors can come after your stimmies.  Early this week, the state’s high court ruled that stimulus money can be garnished by people or businesses you owe money to.

 

The American Rescue Plan Act, which authorized the stimulus payments, does prohibit the IRS from garnishing for back taxes. However, it does not protect the money from private sector debt collectors like hospitals, landlords, and credit card companies.

 

The court did not offer an explanation for its ruling. Previous rounds of stimulus money had been protected from creditors, but not anymore.

 

Hoosiers started receiving the new $1400 payments over a week ago.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Jeff Batchelor

(LAPORTE, IN) -- On the show today is Jeff Batchelor, head of the city of LaPorte Code Enforcement department. Batchelor started as the code enforcer in January of 2020 and has had an eventful year, to say the least. Our discussion included the condemnation process, low-income housing, holding the city to the same standards as the citizens, and more. Listen to the entire episode below.

 

 

CREDITS: Dennis Siddall (Producer), Jeff Wuggazer (Editor), Nate Loucks (Host), Mark Secor (Guest), Craig Dwight (Guest)

 

SOUND OFF is a community conversation show that airs every Monday and Friday on 96.7 the Eagle in LaPorte County, Indiana. SOUND OFF is a Spoon River Media production.

Investigation Continues into Head On Crash with Semi

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police are still investigating a serious injury head on crash with a semi-truck.

 

Police said it appears a passenger vehicle was being driven erratically and at a high rate of speed before veering over the center line into the path of the oncoming semi.  The driver of the passenger vehicle was taken by helicopter to a hospital in South Bend.  Police described the injuries as life threatening.  The driver of the semi was also hurt with injuries that were not life threatening, police said. 

 

The crash happened Wednesday about 6:30 p.m. on U.S. 12 on the city’s west side.  Police said whether alcohol or drugs were involved is not known but they have not been ruled out as possible factors in the crash.

 

The names of the drivers have not been released. 

Dumpsters for Public Use Rolled Out Again

(La Porte, IN) - Dumpsters for the public to use for cleaning up their properties are out again this year in the City of La Porte.  The dumpsters are across the street from the Water Department on Lake Street and outside the TransPorte office at 1st and L streets.

 

Jeff Batchelor, the city’s Director of Code Enforcement, said the dumpsters are for use by city residents only.  “Please take advantage of it,” he said.

 

No paints or liquids of any kinds are allowed to be placed in the dumpsters, which were heavily used during the first year of the program designed to clean up the city.    Batchelor said a $50,000 grant from the city’s Urban Enterprise Association is paying the cost of the program.

Help Wanted at Local Manufacturing Company

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - A local manufacturing company hiring.  OTECH Corporation in Rolling Prairie designs and makes thermo plastic compounds for use in footwear, medical and other industries.

 

Jack O’Donnell, president and CEO of the growing company, “We’re still in need of probably 15 to 20 people to fill a variety of job openings.  Business is strong and continues to get stronger,” he said.

 

O’Donnell said the company has undergone two expansions the past two-years and a third one is in the planning stages for later in 2021.  OTECH Corporation also manufacturers items including wiring, cable, and moldings.

Bison Advance to Championship Game

(Three Oaks, MI.) - In high school basketball, the boys from New Buffalo will play for the District 4 tournament championship. 

 

The Bison (12-3) defeated Lake Michigan Catholic 66-36  in the semi-finals yesterday at River Valley High School.  Ball movement by New Buffalo was the best it’s been, perhaps, all season during the first quarter when the Bison outscored the opposition by more than 20-ponits.

 

Head Coach Nate Tripp said his players have really grasped the concept of team basketball now.  “They know what’s at stake and they know what has to be done now. Hopefully, they keep that going now,” he said.

 

New Buffalo plays Countryside Academy Saturday at 1 p.m. for the District 4 Tournament title.

Rural King Ribbon Cutting Tomorrow

(La Porte, IN) - A ribbon cutting is scheduled tomorrow for a new retain chain store in La Porte.  It’s for the grand opening of Rural King at the Maple Lane Mall.  Rural King has been open for about two weeks but the official grand opening celebration is tomorrow.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody and Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, will be among the speakers.  The ribbon cutting is scheduled for 7 a.m.

New Work Place for Coroner

(La Porte County, IN) - The La Porte County Coroner is going to have an office for the first time.  That will give the coroner things like space for storage.

 

No longer will the coroner have to store things at home.  La Porte County Council president Randy Novak definitely sees the need for the office.  “If you’re out in the middle of the night and you take a body sample or something you might have to come home and put it in your refrigerator until the next morning and you’re wife is like, hey, what’s in the bag in the frig.  You got body bags stacked in a room in your house and  you got other stuff.  That’s absolutely wrong that’s been done like that,” he said.

 

La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson said she plans to be at the office five days a week and

have her secretary switch from working at home to the office.

TransPorte to Offer Saturday Rides Again

(La Porte, IN) - TransPorte has announced it will once again provide weekend rides to residents.

 

Beginning on April 3, the transportation system will resume its Saturday service from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., said Transporte Manager Beth West.

 

West said operating hours were scaled back in November to help slow the spread of the virus.

 

"As COVID-19 numbers continue to drop throughout the greater La Porte community, we feel it is appropriate to resume our normal operating schedule. As always, we appreciate everyone's patience and understanding as we've worked to protect both our drivers and riders," she said.

 

 

West said many health and safety restrictions are still in place like limits on the number of passengers to ensure social distancing.

 

Riders must still have a mask and wear it for the entire duration of their ride.

 

Drivers are allowed to provide a free face mask to anyone who needs one, she said. 

 

West also noted buses will be running on Good Friday, which is April 2, from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.

 

For a ride or more information contact Transporte at 362-6565.

Still Hope for Victims of Con Man

(La Porte County, IN) - The victims of a million dollar con man from Michigan City have a chance of getting back at least some of their stolen money.

 

After released from prison, Tim Bailey under a judge’s order, has to make $1,000 a month payments during the five years he’s on probation.  The victims can also go after Bailey for the rest of the funds because a civil judgment leveled against the defendant by the court.

 

Slightly over $1 million was swindled by Bailey from three victims in a housing investment scam.  At least $200,000 of the stolen loot appears to have been spent at casinos based on withdrawals from casinos and ATM's near casinos, authorities said.

 

La Porte County Prosecutor John Lake said what happened to the rest of the money is not known.  He said the victims might have to hire a private investigator in a civil case to find out if Bailey is stashing the rest of their cash or bought things with it. 

 

Lake said the victims would be entitled to any of the stolen cash or assets he might have purchased with the money.  “If they have hard assets like cars and stocks and bonds and that type of thing then you can track those down,” he said.

 

Bailey has numerous prior convictions for fraud and theft related crimes.  He has to serve five years in prison before placed on probation.

 

Bailey, after being sentenced earlier this month, failed to show up at the La Porte County Jail the next day to begin serving his sentence.  He was arrested about two weeks ago in Arkansas and will be returned to La Porte County at some point to begin paying his debt to society.

Slicers Gearing Up for Spring Sports

(La Porte, IN) - Passes for spring sports in La Porte are now available online and at the La Porte High School athletic office.  Slicer fans are encouraged to purchase a Slicer pass to save on the $6 cost of a ticket for each contest.

 

According to school officials, tickets will not be available at the gate to avoid hand to hand exchanges as a precaution against COVID-19.  However, tickets can be purchased online at goslicers.com.

Lady Bison Win District Tournament Thriller

(New Buffalo, MI) - The girls from New Buffalo High School won their first game in the District tournament.

 

The Bison defeated River Valley at home last night by eight-points.

 

New Buffalo jumped out to a more than 10-point lead in the first half but the Mustangs

battled back, cutting the lead to one-point in the fourth quarter.

 

The leading scorer for New Buffalo was Sophia DeOliveira, a senior who made several key baskets

for the Bison to hold on.

 

She’s become the best player on offense for the Bison during the last half of the season.

 

“I’ve been working on my shot a lot.  We’ve been doing a lot of shooting drills at practice.  I’ve progressed for sure,”

 

DeOliveria had 19 points.

 

The Bison play for the District championship at home Friday night against Michigan Lutheran.  

U.S. 35 Overpass to be Closed

(La Porte, IN) - The U.S 35 overpass in La Porte is going to be temporarily closed.  According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, the bridge will be closed on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

 

The purpose is to upgrade the wires above the highway.  INDOT officials said the right northbound lane on the four lane overpass is expected to be  closed Monday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. as well.

U.S. 30 Reconstruction on Burner Again

(La Porte County, IN) - A proposal to convert U.S 30 into more of an interstate is moving forward.  In response, La Porte County officials are considering the possibility of joining the U.S. 30 coalition.

 

Every county along U.S. 30, except La Porte, is a member of the coalition which would have a voice in how the highway is reconstructed if the project happens.  The idea is making sure the upgrades are designed a manner that limits the impact on residents and property owners such as farmers.

 

Al Stevens, president of the South County Coalition, said the annual membership fee for each county is $15,000.  “The last thing we want is a farmer to have to drive a 10 mile circle to get to a field across the street from his house,” he said.

 

Tony Rodriguez, Executive Director of the La Porte County Office of Economic and Community Development, said more stars seem to be lining up for the project many years in the talking stage to happen.  An environmental impact study has been ordered by the state, which is standard procedure before a final decision is made on whether to go ahead with any major project. 

 

If the projects materializes, U.S. 30 would be reconstructed to reduce traffic lights and intersections for quicker and safer travel.

Residents Urged to Fill Out Broadband Survey

(La Porte County, IN) - Officials are in the process of updating where the biggest need for adequate broadband coverage exists in La Porte County.  A connectivity survey has been developed and residents are asked to fill out the surveys available at https://laporteco.in.gov/residents/broadband-task-force/.  Hard copies are available at the Wanatah Public Library.

 

The purpose of the survey is to update the findings of a 2019 survey that identified where service gaps exist throughout the county.  Tony Rodriguez, Executive Director of the La Porte County Office of Economic and Community Development, said it’s important to know where coverage is lacking when approaching service providers about the prospects of providing coverage to unserved areas. 

 

“Data continues to be our greatest asset in our continued efforts to improve connectivity in La Porte County,” said La Porte County Commissioner Sheila Matias.  Matias said the importance of having adequate high speed internet service was clearly demonstrated from the reliance on e-Learning in the schools and people working remotely during the pandemic.  She said the task of everyone having access to adequate broadband is a “big lift” but cannot be ignored.  “We must remain laser focused on this problem,” she said.

 

Rodriguez said there have been successes in providing adequate high speed service to new customers since the formation of the La Porte County Broadband Task Force in 2019.  He said the need is still there but more successes are on the way. 

Million Dollar Con Artist Behind Bars Again

(Michigan City, IN) - Luck appears to be running out for a long time con artist who apparently went gambling with piles of money swindled from his victims.  Timothy J. Bailey, 53, of Michigan City is being held without bond in the Yell County Jail in Arkansas.

 

On March 11, he was given a five-year prison sentence for level 4 felony Securities Fraud and other theft related counts in La Porte Superior Court 1.  He was ordered to report to the La Porte County Jail the next day to begin serving his sentence but failed to show up.

 

According to La Porte County Police, members of the Fugitive Apprehension Street Team on Sunday gave authorities in Arkansas his possible whereabouts, obtained from an anonymous source.  Bailey was taken into custody the next day, police said.  He will be transported to the La Porte County Jail at a later date to begin serving his prison sentence, police said.

 

According to court documents, a vast majority of the money Bailey stole was slightly over $1 million from a Trail Creek couple.

 

In 2018, Bailey posing as a legitimate businessman at a real estate seminar in Chicago talked the couple into giving him money to purchase and renovate houses in the Michigan City area.  He later persuaded the couple to give him additional funds to construct new homes on empty lots in Florida, according to court documents.  In exchange, he gave them promissory notes pledging to pay back the money with interest and give them a percentage of the profits.  The couple began receiving what appeared to be dividends but the checks bounced, court records disclosed.  They also paid a visit to the listed development site in Florida to find no evidence of any construction.

 

According to court documents, a track of Bailey’s financial accounts revealed more than $200,000 of the stolen money was withdrawn at casinos and ATM’s near casinos.

 

Bailey has a level 6 felony charge of Check Fraud still undecided in La Porte Superior Court 4.  He also has a long history of prior convictions for crimes like Theft, Counterfeiting, Check Deception and Home Improvement Fraud, according to court records.

Street Closure Planned to Unplug Lake Drain

(La Porte, IN) - A street in La Porte will be closed next week to open a plugged drain keeping lake levels high.  Weller Avenue will be closed from Pine Lake Ave to Willow Street on Monday.

 

Waste Water Department Superintendent Jerry Jackson said the reason is to reopen a plugged drain keeping water levels high on Pine and Stone lakes.

 

Right now, Jackson said Pine and Stone lakes are more than a foot higher than the rest of the lakes in the city because of the plugged drain not allowing the two lakes to drain when the city’s gravity drain is activated to control water levels in all of the lakes.

 

Officials believe the plug is from either a log jam or sediment build up under the Weller Avenue bridge.  Jackson said a backhoe will be among the devices used to unclog the drain in a job that should take just one day to complete.  “Hopefully all of that work will get done in one day and we’ll be back to having lake level control,” he said.

Benje Steps Down as Slicers Basketball Coach

(La Porte, IN) - A new head coach will be roaming the sidelines at Slicer Gym next season.  Kyle Benje has resigned as head coach of the La Porte High School boys’ basketball team.  Benje was 32 and 59 during his time with the team.

 

96.7 The Eagle Play by Play announcer for the Slicers, Chip Jones, feels Benje positioned the program for successby playing a lot of young players who seem ready now to win more  games.  Jones said a lot of talent also seems to be coming up from the junior varsity ranks. 

 

Jones expressed surprise at Benje leaving the program.  “He struggled through the hard times.  We had a really young team that improved during the year and I really think we’re going to be an awful lot better.  He developed some young guys.  I will be sorry to see him go,” he said.

 

In a statement, Benje said it was a decision he and his wife together made over a period of time.  No light was shed on any future plans.

Flooding Solution Being Examined Again

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County officials could try again to provide relief to flooded homeowners at Meadowview Subdivision outside La Porte.

 

During a Monday night workshop between the La Porte County Council and La Porte County

Commissioners, La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman said it appears the county has an

obligation to at least play a role in correcting the situation there.

 

Building permits were awarded despite the high water table.  “It does seem to fall on the county to have some responsibility for dealing with what’s been a really bad flooding situation out there,” he said.  Friedman said previous attempts have been made by the county to rectify the situation.  He said he’s not sure if any grants are available to help the county offset the cost of whatever is done to try and solve the flooding problem.

 

Friedman said one possibility is dipping into the $21 million in federal stimulus money coming to La Porte County government.   The estimated cost of a previous solution proposed several years ago was $1.2 million.

Human Rights Event Reaching for Stars

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City is hosting a major human rights event this year and organizers are hoping to land a prominent figure in politics from the area.

 

An invitation to be one of the keynote speakers has been sent to U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.  Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, is the first openly gay member of the U.S. Cabinet.

 

The Michigan City Human Rights Commission is hosting the annual event which draws people active in human rights from across the state.  MCHRC Executive Director Ta-Tanesha Clark George is keeping her fingers crossed that Buttigieg will accept the invitation.  “We’re hoping that because we’re his home state he might grace us with his presence,” she said.

 

The three day event, cancelled last year because of COVID-19, is scheduled for June at Blue Chip Casino.  The last time Michigan City hosted the event held in different parts of the state annually was in 2005.

City Reaching Out to Housing Developers

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte is seeking affordable housing developers.  The La Porte  office of Community Development is asking for proposals.

 

According to city officials, proposals must improve the quality of life for low and moderate income citizens.  Proposals must also further the goals of self-sufficiency and self-reliance for residents and prevent or eliminate slums or blight, officials said.

 

Developers must submit proposals to the city by May 14.  More information can be obtained by contacting program manager Mary Ann Richards at City Hall.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody has made more affordable housing one of his top priorities and wants areas like the recently cleared Tibma Bakery site on Woodward St. used for constructing affordable housing. 

Firearms Arrests on Toll Road

(La Porte County, IN) - Two suspected firearms violators were arrested over the weekend  by La Porte County Police.

 

Police said the vehicle, speeding and driving erratically, was pulled over Saturday morning on the Indiana Toll Road near Hudson Lake.  Two loaded handguns were located underneath the hood of the vehicle.

 

40-year old Leroy Raynor was arrested for serious violent felon in possession of a firearm, police said.  His passenger, 30-year old Desmine Williams was arrested for not having a license to carry a firearm.

 

Both men are from the state of New York.

Murdered Girl was Sexually Assaulted

(South Bend, IN) - Authorities say a six year old New Carlisle girl found dead earlier this month was sexually assaulted. 

 

A 14-year-old boy suspected in the strangling death is charged as a juvenile with murder and child molesting.  He made his initial appearance in court yesterday where the charges against him were verbally announced.  Sources say members of the victim’s family were also in the courtroom.

 

The defense is asking the court keep further proceedings closed to the public until a psychological evaluation of the suspect is conducted.  The name of the suspect is being withheld unless the case is moved into adult court.

Highway Patrol Hooks Another Drug Dealing Suspect

(La Porte County, IN) - Another drug related arrest of a driver has been made by La Porte County Police.  26-year old Nikia Wright is charged with level 2 felony dealing cocaine.

 

Police said an officer first spotted him tailgating Friday on the Indiana Toll Road near Rolling Prairie.  Wright then slowed down enough in the passing lane to cause a long line of vehicles to form behind him.   During a traffic stop, police said a significant amount of cocaine was recovered.

 

The man from Buffalo, New York was being held on $50,000 bond.

 

Numerous drug related arrests have been made by La Porte County Police on the Toll Road over the past couple of years.  The suspects are typically from out of state transporting large amounts of drugs.

Plane Conducts Emergency Landing

(La Porte, IN) - An airplane conducted an emergency landing in La Porte County yesterday afternoon.  According to La Porte County Police, the pilot reported one of his engines failed.

 

The small aircraft landed in a field at U.S. 421 and County Road 1100 South.  Police say the pilot and his passenger were not injured.  The plane was a 1965 Piper Twin Comanche.

 

Police say the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Bison Favored to Win District Title

(New Buffalo, MI) - The New Buffalo High School boys’ basketball team is the #1 seed in the District 4 tournament which begins on Thursday.  The Bison (11-3) open the tourney at River Valley High School against Lake Michigan Catholic at 5:30 p.m.

 

New Buffalo defeated the Lakers by 24 points and later 9 points during the regular season.  Head Coach Nate Tripp said he likes his team’s chances of winning the District 4 championship, which New Buffalo won in 2019.  However, Tripp said he’s keeping his players focused strictly on the next game feeling all teams in the tournament are competitive enough this year to win the title.

 

River Valley opens the district tournament against #2 seed Countryside Academy.  The winner of each game will play for the District 4 title on Saturday at 1 p.m.  “Any of those three teams on any given night are an absolute handful,” Tripp said.

 

The Bison on March 19 won their last regular season game at Countryside Academy 74-50 after defeating the Cougars by just six points at home last month.  New Buffalo lost their previous game 60-50 on March 16 at home against Berrien Springs.  The Bison stayed within striking distance for much of the game against the bigger and more athletic Shamrocks.

 

Tripp felt his players could have at least made the game closer with fewer mistakes but really likes the progress his team has made in areas like working the ball and shot selection since the start of the season.  “I think we’re starting to play team basketball and it’s a group of kids who truly like each other,” he said.

Huston Returning to Her Roots

(La Porte, IN) - A former La Porte County official is leaving palm trees and beaches to play a key role again in local government.  Barb Huston is the new Director of the La Porte County E-911 Communications Center.

 

Ironically, Huston came out of retirement in Florida to replace Steve Alt, who retired and went to Florida.  Huston and her husband, Tom, moved to St. Petersburg in 2013 following her second term as La Porte County Commissioner.  Huston was Director of the La Porte County Emergency Medical Service from 1999 to 2005 after serving two terms as La Porte County Coroner. 

 

The 73-year old Huston said her decision had a lot to do with missing her three children and seven grandchildren in La Porte.  She was also ready for a new challenge.  Huston said cold weather is the only thing she doesn’t like about coming back.  Her husband is also especially dreading the winters here but went along with her wishes.  “He loves me and he’s always put me first and I love him.  We’re a pair.  That’s the way it is,” she said.

 

Huston, while County Commissioner, took over E-911 for a few months to address problems she responded to by replacing top level administrators.

 

La Porte County Commission president Rich Mrozinski believes facing her now has more to do with helping radio dispatchers better handle the stress from dealing with emergencies and making sure they’re properly trained.

 

Huston was recommended for the job over several applicants by the La Porte County E-911 Advisory Board.  “She’s a very smoother operator.  She’s cut out perfect for the job,” he said.

 

Huston said she expects to be back and started in her new position by early April.  “I’d like to think if there is a problem that I will be up to the challenge to change it or make it better or respond to it in some way.  I’m always up for a challenge,” she said. 

Maple Syrup Season Winding Down

(Galien, MI) - The maple syrup making season is just about over.  18-year old Tyler Klopfenstein said he collected as much as 1,600 gallons a sap in one day during the peak of the season.

 

Now, Klopfenstein said he’s not getting nearly that much in a week.  He said sap flow begins slowing down when the temperatures start rising and over the past one to two weeks he’s collected only about 800 to 1,000 gallons of sap.  “It’s definitely slowed down from where it was the first two weeks,” he said.

 

He has about 700 taps in maple trees in two separate woods on his family farm between Three Oaks and Galien.  It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of maple syrup.  Klopfenstein said he’s made over 190 gallons of syrup, so far, this season compared to about 170 gallons of maple syrup last season.

 

His sap is boiled down into syrup with an evaporator.  He uses a reverse osmosis machine to remove some of the water from the sap which greatly reduces boiling time. 

Record Water Levels Receding

(Washington D.C.) - There’s good news for Lake Michigan property owners.  Water levels on Lake Michigan are two inches below last month and ten inches lower than a year ago, according to the U.S. Army Corps. Of Engineers.

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also predicts water levels in July will be about a foot below levels from the previous July.  Experts say lower than average precipitation is the primary reason.

 

Record high water is to blame for lakefront property owners on Lake Michigan having their homes at risk of falling over the edge of badly eroded shorelines the past several years.  Some homes have toppled over the edge. 

Weekend Shooting in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - A weekend shooting is under investigation by police in the City of La Porte.  Saturday night, officers responded to the 1700 block of Andrew Avenue.

 

Police said the victim was hospitalized in South Bend.  The condition and name of the victim along further details were not provided because of the investigation still being ongoing, police said.

 

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

Bus Safety Patrols Starting

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte Police Department is ramping up enforcement this spring to protect students going to and from school.  Over the next couple of months, officers will be positioned along bus stops and routes watching for stop-arm violations and unsafe driving behavior.

 

The overtime patrols are funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration through the state’s Stop Arm Violation Enforcement (SAVE) program, which was developed by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute in 2019.

 

“Disregarding a school bus stop arm is a very dangerous and serious offense,” said Chief Paul Brettin. “We want students to arrive to school and return home safely, which is why we’re asking all motorists to drive cautiously around buses or face the consequences.”

 

The department joins more than 200 around the state for the spring enforcement campaign, designed to encourage motorists to stop for school buses.  High-visibility patrols will be conducted in the morning and afternoon along routes identified by local bus drivers and school transportation officials.  While officers will be focusing on stop-arm violations, they will also be on the lookout for any unsafe driving behavior such as speeding and distracted driving.  “We still have far too many people speeding and not paying attention to the road,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “One glance at your phone is all it takes to cause a tragedy. Children are unpredictable, so it’s important to stay alert and be prepared to stop at all times.”

 

In Indiana, it’s against the law for motorists to pass a bus that’s stopped and has its red lights flashing and stop-arm extended.  This applies to all roads, with one exception.  Motorists who are on a highway that is divided by a barrier, such as a cable barrier, concrete wall or grassy median, are required to stop only if they are traveling in the same direction as the school bus.

 

“Buses in some school districts are returning to the roadway for the first time in nearly a year after spring break concludes, so it’s especially important to stay alert in those areas,” said Robert Duckworth, ICJI Traffic Safety Director.  “We all have a role to play when it comes to school bus safety.”

 

To learn more about the La Porte Police Department please visit, or click here for a list of school bus safety tips.

Remembering Gracie

(New Carlisle, IN) - Respects were paid to a little girl from New Carlisle this weekend. 

 

6-year-old Gracie Ross was found dead in woods behind her apartment complex on Friday, March 12.  A preliminary autopsy report indicated she was strangled to death. A 14-year-old is still in police custody in connection with the incident. No other details have been revealed, as the investigation continues.

 

A funeral service was held for Gracie Saturday morning in South Bend. A line in Gracie’s obituary from Palmer Funeral Homes summed up her short life: “She was the light in the room.  The brightest flower in the vase.  She could change your mood from bad to good and from good to great. She was friendly, outgoing, kind, cheerful and one of a kind. In short, amazing.  She was loved by all and will be missed by many.”

 

On Friday the Olive Elementary school community paid tribute to Gracie, who was a kindergartner there.  Teachers and students wore purple, Gracie’s favorite color.

 

Olive Principal Tara Bush remembered Gracie at a memorial service earlier last week.  “Her smile even shone under the mask,”  Bush said.  “You could tell she was smiling all the time. Olive is a better place because she was there, and she will be greatly missed.”

 

Teachers and students at other New Prairie schools, as well as at Oregon Davis schools and elsewhere also wore purple Friday in solidarity with Olive School.

HTNN Top 5 News Stories - Week of 3/14/21

(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.  Here are links to the Top Local News stories of the week on HometownNewsNow.com during the period of March 14th through March 20th:

 

#5:  Body of Missing Child Discovered in New Carlisle

 

#4:  Con Artist Cons His Way Out of Jail

 

#3:  Bridge Fall Death near Casino

 

#2:  New Carlisle Residents Come Together After Child's Death

 

#1:  Victims in Fishing Accident Identified

 

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.

Police Investigating La Porte Shooting

(La Porte, IN) - Police in La Porte are investigating a Friday night shooting that put one person in the hospital.

 

Reports indicate that police responded to the 1700 block of Andrew Avenue around 9:30 Friday night.  That's an area of apartment complexes near the intersection of Andrew and 18th Street.  According to police, one victim was taken to a South Bend hospital.  As a search for the shooter continues, authorities believe there is no present danger to the public at this time.

 

The investigation is ongoing.  Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the City of La Porte Police Department at 219-362-9446.

Hoosiers 40+ Become Eligible for Vaccine on Monday

(Indianapolis, IN) - On Saturday morning, the Indiana State Department of Health announced Hoosiers between the ages of 40 and 44 will become eligible for the COVID 19 vaccine beginning on Monday, March 22nd.

 

Appointments to be vaccinated can be made at places like Meijer and Kroger.  Additional groups will be added to the eligibility list as more vaccine becomes available, ISDH officials said.

 

To schedule a vaccine, visit https://ourshot.in.gov and select a location from one of more than 450 clinics around the state, according to the ISDH.  Hoosiers who do not have a computer and need assistance scheduling an appointment can call 211 or contact one of Indiana’s Area Agencies on Aging or AARP.

 

Since vaccinations began in Indiana in mid-December, more than 1.3 million Hoosiers have received at least the first shot, while 915,719 had been fully vaccinated.  This includes 36,730 Indiana residents who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Michigan City Spring Clean-Up

(Michigan City, IN) - Spring cleaning will go city-wide in Michigan City starting Monday.

The city’s Refuse Department will be picking up just about anything on designated days through April.

 

They request that residents pile debris by category:

  • Piles of brush, limbs, shrubs, yard waste, and unpainted concrete.
  • Piles for rugs, lumber, furniture, mattresses, and box springs.
  • Piles for appliances, air conditions, water tanks, and tires.

Pickup will happen in three zones of Michigan City on alternating weeks, as shown on the map below:

May be an image of text

 

 

Another Nail in the Coffin for LaCrosse School Building

(Wanatah, IN) - The Tri-Township School Board is moving ahead with plans to abandon the old LaCrosse school building. The board voted this week to hire a firm to renovate the existing Wanatah School.  The addition of five new classrooms at Wanatah will render the historic LaCrosse location obsolete.

 

Performance Services, the only company to submit a proposal, was awarded oversight of the project, not to exceed $2.5 million.  As of now, school leaders have no plans for the LaCrosse building after next year.

NIPSCO Fined for Safety Violations

(Merrillville, IN) - NIPSCO has been dinged with over $1 million in fines for safety violations. 

 

The utility must pay $1.13 million dollars for violations that occurred in 2019.  According to the Indiana State Regulatory Commission, NIPSCO failed to mark pipelines in a timely fashion.

 

This settlement is the third in a line of penalties dating back to 2015 totaling over $3 million.

This fine is reportedly the largest in state history. All the money collected goes into the state’s General Fund. NISPCO is not allowed to pass along the cost to consumers.

New Prairie Falling Back to Elearning

(New Carlisle, IN) - A spike in COVID-19 cases at New Prairie High School is sending students and teachers back to hybrid learning next week.  Friday afternoon parents in New Prairie School District were notified that all high-schoolers will fall back to part-time attendance.

 

In a statement, New Prairie High School Principal Jennifer Sass said twelve students were confirmed positive for coronavirus, while over 100 were being asked to quarantine.  As a result, high-schoolers will alternate days Monday through Thursday, like earlier this year, to minimize social contact. Next Friday will be an eLearning day for the entire high school.  Right now, sports and extracurriculars are not affected.

 

Every week, district officials send out an email announcing numbers of COVID cases and quarantines, which in recent months have been consistently low. Officials hope the development at New Prairie is not indicative of a virus surge.

 

La Porte County remains in the blue status according to the state's COVID map, with a weekly positivity rate of just over 4%.  According to county health numbers, La Porte County has been averaging under twelve new COVID-19 cases per day.

Con Man has Apparent Gambling Problem

(Michigan City, IN) - It appears a good percentage of the $1.1 million stolen from innocent victims by a lifelong Michigan City con-artist went to feed a gambling addiction.  Adding insult to injury is Timothy Bailey, 53, is still a free man after failing to report to jail.

 

Bailey on March 11 was given a five-year prison sentence and five-years of probation for Level 4 felony Securities Fraud and two other theft related counts in La Porte Superior Court 1.  He was ordered to report to the La Porte County Jail the next day to begin serving his sentence but never showed up.  A warrant was still out for his arrest more than a week later.

 

According to court documents, the slick-talking Bailey met his primary victims at a real estate seminar in Chicago where they began discussing investment opportunities.  The man and woman from Trail Creek, expecting a return on her investment, gave him money to purchase, renovate and sell homes at a profit mostly in the Michigan City area and Union Pier, Michigan. 

 

They later gave Bailey money to build houses on empty lots in Florida for him to sell and give them a percentage of the profits along with interest.  Police said the couple later began receiving dividends from Bailey in the form of checks that bounced, police said.  On a trip to Florida, the victims also drove by the new housing site they invested in only to find empty lots with no sign of any construction.

 

Another victim, expecting a return, lost the $12,500 she gave to Bailey for him purchase a large quantity of plywood.

 

A retired electrician and Vietnam Veteran lost most of his life savings in the amount of $90,000 he gave to Bailey to invest in housing, court documents revealed.

 

Bailey has an extensive prior history of theft related crimes in Porter and Lake counties along with other locations, authorities said.  Court documents also revealed a track of Bailey’s activity on his accounts revealed over $200,000 in withdrawals at casinos or ATM’s near casinos.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Horizon Bank's Craig Dwight and Mark Secor

(LAPORTE, IN) --  On today's SOUND OFF Podcast episode, we talk about the banking industry, the economy, and even a little bit of GameStop with Horizon Bank's Craig Dwight and Mark Secor.

 

With 72 locations in Indiana and Michigan, Horizon Bank is one of Indiana's largest public companies. Craig Dwight is the chairman and CEO of Horizon Bank. Mark Secor is the Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer. Questions included the following topics:

 

  • Horizon Bank's recent bankdirector.com ranking of Horizon Bank third nationally in their Performance Powerhouses of 2021.

  • Is the day of the small-town bank over?

  • Thoughts on the last two economic stimulus packages.

  • How would you rate the general health of the American economy?

  • Cryptocurrency

  • Gamestop

  • Cybersecurity

  • ...and more.

 

CREDITS: Dennis Siddall (Producer), Jeff Wuggazer (Editor), Nate Loucks (Host), Mark Secor (Guest), Craig Dwight (Guest)

 

SOUND OFF is a community conversation show that airs every Monday and Friday on 96.7 the Eagle in LaPorte County, Indiana. SOUND OFF is a Spoon River Media production.

Teenager Arrested on Gun Charge

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City teen was arrested during a traffic stop last night for having a gun. 

 

Police said 18-year old Bryon Mitchell was stopped in the 1300 block of East Michigan Boulevard just before midnight.  The high beam headlights on his vehicle were allegedly on despite the presence of oncoming traffic.  Police said a handgun and drug paraphernalia were located inside the vehicle.

               

According to police, it was illegal for Mitchell to have a gun because of a prior felony conviction.

Man Shot in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - A man was shot last night in Michigan City.  Police said a 33 year old man was found about 11 p.m. with a gunshot wound inside his home in the 200 block of Thurman Avenue.  He was shot in the rib cage area.

 

Police said life saving measures were provided to the victim who was taken to the hospital.  His condition was not revealed.

 

According to police, a person of interest quickly developed in the case.  No arrests have been reported.

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police.  Police said further details are not being released at this time because the investigation is still ongoing.

Farmers in Good but Difficult Spot

(West Lafayette, IN) - Sell last year’s grain now at a very good price or wait to see if rising prices go higher.  That’s the dilemna corn and soybean growers with grain from 2020 still in storage could be struggling over.

 

“There could be a good pay off to hanging on until the end.  If you choose to do that recognize you’ve chosen a strategy that’s pretty risky,” said Jim Mintert, Director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture at Purdue University.  His advice was in response to USDA releasing its latest monthly corn and soybean outlook report, which contained little or no changes from previous month projections.  End of the marketing year average price forecast by USDA remained at $4.30 per bushel for corn and $11.15 per bushel for soybeans.

 

Nathan Thompson, Assistant Professor with the Department of Agricultural Economics at the West Lafayette campus, said farmers should factor the increased cost for storage when deciding whether to keep their grain from last year a bit longer.  As an example, he said the cash price for corn right now is about $5.37 per bushel.  Thompson said the same corn kept on site until July would have to sell for $5.48 per bushel to cover the increased storage costs.  The same corn kept in commercial storage until then would have to fetch $5.57 per bushel.

 

Farmers also face similar dilemmas for this year’s corn and soybean crop.  Thompson said the expected harvest price for corn in December is expected to be $4.62, an amount he called very favorable with potential to go higher.  He said corn producers might want to consider locking in a portion of their upcoming crop at that price just in case there’s a downturn in the market.  “I certainly think it’s something you should be thinking about,” he said.

Former Mayor Keeping Options Open

(Michigan City, IN) - The former mayor of Michigan City could run for mayor again but hasn’t decided if politics is in his future.

 

Ron Meer lost his bid for a third consecutive term by less than 100 votes in 2019.  Ever since, Meer said he’s been doiing consulting work and keeping a return to politics in the back of his mind.  “I’m keeping my political options open.  I may run for something.  It’s a long ways off yet,” he said.

 

Meer worked for the Michigan City Sanitary District for over 20-years prior to becoming mayor.  If he does run for office again, Meer would likely face some political backlash for being charged several months ago with leaving the scene of a motor vehicle crash.  That case remains undecided in the courts.

 

“The key word should be allegedly.  It’s ongoing litigation and it’s going in the right direction,” he said.

Slow Driver Now Feeling Heat

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man could face time in prison after allegedly found with drugs.

52 year old Kenneth Myers is charged in La Porte Circuit Court.

 

On Tuesday, police stopped Myers for traveling well below the 35 mile per hour speed limit on East Lincolnway.  A small amount of methamphetamine and marijuana were alleged found on his possession.

 

Police say Myers has a prior drug dealing conviction.  He could face anywhere from a one to six year sentence on the most seriouis of the four counts filed in the case. 

Con Artist Cons His Way Out of Jail

(Michigan City, IN) - A professional con-artist sentenced to prison for soaking a Trail Creek couple out of slightly more than $1 million has slipped away.  A warrant is out for the arrest of Timothy Bailey, 53, of Michigan City.

 

Bailey was given a five-year prison sentence last week for Level 5 felony Securities Fraud in La Porte Superior Court 1 in Michigan City.  He was ordered to report to the La Porte County Jail the next day to begin serving his sentence.  However, Bailey never showed up as ordered by the judge.  A warrant was still out for his arrest a week later.

 

According to court documents, the slick-talking Bailey, posing as an investor, persuaded the couple to give him money for him to purchase and renovate homes.  In exchange, the couple expected a return on their investment.  The couple also gave Bailey funds to build new housing on empty lots in Florida.

 

According to court documents, Bailey remained in contact with the couple giving them updates on how the projects were progressing.  Eventually, the couple began receiving checks but they bounced.

 

The victims, on a trip to Florida, also went to check on the housing development to find the lots still empty and no construction happening.

 

Bailey has an extensive prior history of theft related crimes in other locations.  

 

For additional details, read the HTNN follow up story, "Con Man has Apparent Gambling Problem".

Aim Taken at Vacation Rental Homes

(New Buffalo, MI) - A cap on short term vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods in New Buffalo could become permanent before summer along with tougher enforcement to protect neighbors from disruption.

               

Members of the New Buffalo City Council and New Buffalo Planning Commission held a joint session on March 17 to discuss a proposed change in strategy designed to alleviate a growing concern.  A cap of 65 vacation rentals in residential areas is among the proposals expected to be presented for a vote by the city council sometime in April.

 

The cap is designed to slow down or reduce the sharp growth of single family residences converted into rentals for occupancy of less than a month particularly during the summer.  The other proposal is aimed at stronger enforcement to put a tighter lid on noise and other disruption from parties hosted by guests at some of the rental homes.

 

Violations of code governing use of the rentals would be handled internally rather than in the courts to reduce the amount of time and expense involved with enforcement.  "This is intended to make the process more feasible and cost efficient,” said Acting City Manager Rich Killips.

 

Another problem the city is looking to help solve is a reduction in the amount of housing available to prospective full-time residents.  Mayor John Humphrey said adding permanent residents would help provide a more year round economy in a community where second homes outnumber primary residences by a four to one margin.

 

“We need to create a basis not only for a vibrant economy for three months but for the full year.  To do that, we need to build our residency back.  One way to get back to that is to protect our residential neighborhoods and start building a culture of residency again,” he said.  “We got the schools to do it,” Humphrey said.

 

Process of Spending Cash Windfall Beginning

(La Porte County, IN) - LaPorte County officials are beginning the process of deciding the best ways of using tens of millions in federal economic stimulus funds.

           

LaPorte County government is receiving a $21 million cut of the $1.9 trillion contained in the American Rescue Plan recently approved by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden.  $11.6 million of the federal funds is earmarked for the City of LaPorte.

           

Officials are waiting to be informed exactly how local municipalities can spend those dollars before moving forward too quickly.  La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody said he will put together a committee to develop a priority list once they know the eligible uses of the funds.

 

One critical need he would like to further address with the stimulus money, if possible, is more new housing.  Dermody said another potential use is leveraging matching grants with the money for projects and other purposes to accomplish more with the dollars.  “My main goal is to make the biggest impact we can for the community,” he said.

 

La Porte City Councilman Roger Galloway said paving more streets, major equipment purchases and retiring outstanding bond issues come to mind off the top his head.  “I really haven’t thought about it much. I believe you get it before you decide what to do with it,” he said.

 

More trails along with road and sidewalk upgrades to improve walkability and traffic patterns in the downtown area were mentioned by LaPorte City Councilman Paul Vincent.  “I got my own personal wish list. I’m sure we all do,” he said.

 

LaPorte County Commissioner Sheila Matias is calling for all financial leaders in county government to get involved in helping to decide where the money should go.  She also welcomed input from the public.  Matias is asking LaPorte County Treasurer Joie Winski and LaPorte County Auditor Tim Stabosz to present a current financial report to see if any line item in the budget could use a shot in the arm from the stimulus funds.

 

Major projects like the historic Franklin Street draw bridge in Michigan City and building a community center for hosting family oriented activities at the fairgrounds were among her ideas for use of the money.  “I think it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.  We want to make sure we use it well,” Matias said.

 

Meer Agrees with Asking Mayor to Resign

(Michigan City, IN) - Former Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer said current Mayor Duane Parry should “absolutely” resign. 

 

Meer, who lost his bid for a third term to Parry in 2019 by less than 100 votes, said a mayor in a diverse community like Michigan City has to represent and embrace all of its citizens.  He said Parry, though, has divided the community by his remarks and doesn’t believe he can repair the damage.  “He’s really offended people deeply and I just don’t see how he can lead effectively here on out,” Meer said. 

 

On a voice mail belonging to an African-American pastor, Parry thought he hung up the phone but the mic was still hot when he stated “these black guys.  They all want a f…ing audience.”

 

Meer also said he was “disgusted” by the words Parry used but not surprised.  The two men worked together when Parry was on the city council during much of Meer’s tenure as mayor.  Meer said he was taken back sometimes by Parry’s behavior in meetings and during conversations.  “There were some subtle things and some things that weren’t so subtle that in my opinion were pretty derogatory and, in some situations, not racially sensitive at all,” he said.

 

If Parry were to resign, Republican leaders from each precinct in the city would choose a replacement.  Meer, a Democrat, would not be eligible.  However, Meer did not rule out a run for mayor in the 2023 campaign.   “I’m keeping my political options open,” he said.

 

Parry said he is not resigning because he has “never been a quitter” and will keep taking counseling sessions to correct his behavior.

No Problem for Return of Huston

(La Porte, IN) - A former longtime La Porte County official is back with an active role in government.  Barb Huston is the new Director of the La Porte County E-911 Communications Center.  Her hiring was approved last night by the La Porte County Commissioners.  She replaces Steve Alt, who retired earlier this year.

 

Huston is a former La Porte County Commissioner and also used to be Director of the La Porte County Emergency Medical Service.  Huston was also once the La Porte County Coroner.

 

She offered these thoughts after her hiring was approved.  “I’m looking forward to working with you guys again.  I appreciate this very much and I will do my best for the county,” Huston said. 

 

The E-911 center handles emergency radio dispatches on calls for service from the public throughout La Porte County.

Man Charged Again with Shoplifting

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man is in legal trouble again for allegedly shoplifting.  36-year old Ryan Dunfee is charged with theft in La Porte Circuit Court.

 

According to police, he was arrested last week at Family Express on J Street.  Police said recovered from the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt was a bag of M&M’s, ice cream, yogurt, a muffin and a pack of Bugles. 

 

The charge was upgraded to a level 6 felony because of prior convictions for theft.  His last conviction a few months ago was for shoplifting at the Speedway station on La Porte’s west side.  In that incident, he allegedly took six cans of alcohol, a bag of donuts and several sandwiches, police said. 

 

Dunfee is currently being held in the La Porte County Jail without bond.

Stimulus Money Raining on La Porte County

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County is receiving about $21 million in stimulus funds under the recently approved American Rescue Plan approved by Congress and signed by the president.  La Porte County Treasurer Joie Winski said the estimated amount was provided by the Association of Indiana Counties.

 

La Porte County Councilman Michael Rosenbaum didn’t offer any spending ideas because it remains unclear exactly how local governments can spend the money.  Rosenbaum said he wants the La Porte County Council and La Porte County Commissioners to schedule a joint workshop to begin the processing of deciding where the funds should be applied.

 

The City of La Porte is receiving $11.6 million, said Mayor Tom Dermody.  City Councilman Roger Galloway said streets and major equipment purchases were just some of his ideas for use of at least some of the money.  City Councilman Paul Vincent suggested money for trails and other upgrades contained in the recently adopted Heart of La Porte plan.  The plan is aimed at raising quality of life in the New Porte Landing and downtown area.

 

Michigan City Mayor Duane Parry said his community was informed it  will receive stimulus money.  He chose not to elaborate until more information was known.  “We have not received any confirmation,” he said.

Try Outs This Weekend for Hoosier Star

(La Porte, IN) - Auditions for the annual Hoosier Star singing competition in La Porte are this weekend.  Tim King, Executive Director of the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra, said people wanting to tryout should take the leap because anything can happen.

 

The LCSO is in the 16th year of hosting the heavily attended event featuring five finalists apiece from the youth division and adult division.  “If you’ve auditioned once or if you’ve auditioned twice and you didn't make the finals and you're discouraged, please don't be.  Our most recent winner, Alyse Flores, who’s our adult winner.  She auditioned for 15-years and never made the finals.  This past year she made the finals and won the whole thing.  So, don't give up,” he said.

 

Auditions are Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Bethany Lutheran Church.  People are advised to reserve a time slot at lcso.net.  King said the last hour on each audition day will be reserved for walk-ins.

 

The Hoosier Star competition is scheduled September 11 at the Civic Auditorium.  Contestants are mostly from the Northwest Indiana but some participants in the past have come from as far away as downstate and Michigan. 

 

King said a live audience is planned this year.  Last year’s Hoosier Star was held virtually without an audience because of coronavirus.

Spring Clean Up Soon in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - The Michigan City Refuse Department will conduct its Annual Spring Clean-Up beginning on March 22.

 

Refuse Department requests that all residents separate the debris that is to be discarded into the following three (3) categories:

  1. Brush, limbs, shrubs, yard waste, and unpainted concrete (no black-top rubble);
  2. Rugs, lumber, furniture, mattress, and box-springs; and
  3. Appliances and tires.  Tires can be rimmed or un-rimmed, and appliances include items such as stoves, refrigerators, air conditions, water tanks, etc.

 

Please keep the above items separated as described above.  Residents may place items on curbside or in the alleys, whichever is most convenient.  Please note that the Refuse and Street Departments will not be taking calls for spring cleanup items. Residents should simply place their items out for pick-up at their allotted time.

 

The City will be divided into three (3) Zones, with each zone having two (2) separate weeks when items can be placed out for the special Spring Clean-Up.  Residents should place items out for pick-up on the same day as your normal refuse pick-up day, but only during the corresponding week for the Zone in which they reside.  The pick-up weeks, by zone are as follows:

ZONE 1 - March 22 - 26 and April 12 - 16:

Zone #1 is bounded by Lake Michigan on the north, Kieffer Road/400 N on the south, Franklin Street on the east, and County Line Road on the west.

 

ZONE 2 - March 29 - April 2 and April 19 - 23:

Zone #2 is bounded by Michigan Boulevard on the north, Kieffer Road/400 N on the south, Roeske Avenue on the east, and Franklin Street on the west.?

 

ZONE 3 - April 5 - 9 and April 26 – April 30:

Zone #3 is bounded by Lake Michigan and Shoreland Drive on the north, Michigan Boulevard on the south and west, and Meer Road on the east.

 

Additionally, the Refuse Department wants to make you aware that Yard Waste/Compost pick-up will begin on May 3, 2021 and May 3, 2021 and continue through November 19, 2021.

Northwest Health CEO Promoted

(La Porte, IN) - The woman in charge of the hospitals in La Porte and Starke County has been promoted.  Ashley Dickinson is chief executive officer at Northwest Health.  She’s now the CEO of the entire Northwest Health system.

 

“We have many opportunities, as a regional healthcare system, to work together to expand services throughout Northwest Indiana” Dickinson said.  “At the foundation of everything we do is a deep dedication to serve our patients.  I am proud of our caregivers’ commitment, at all of the Northwest Health organizations, to providing compassionate, quality care and I look forward to supporting their efforts.”

 

The system include Northwest Health facilities in La Porte, Starke and Porter counties.  Corporate officials said the move will provide consistency in the leadership at all of the Northwest Health hospitals and clinics.

 

Dickinson has been with Northwest Health since 2017.

City Council Asking Mayor Parry to Resign

(Michigan City, IN) - The city council in Michigan City is asking the mayor to resign.  The vote last night was unanimous.  The decision was in response to Mayor Duane Parry using language viewed by many as racist.  The words were left on the voice mail of a black minister after Parry thought he had hung up the phone.

 

Councilwoman Angie Nelson Deutch said she would feel the same way had the words been

directed at any individual.  “It could have been not only black people.  I would have felt the same way had it been against someone of another race, if it had been someone with a gender identity, LGBTQ, if it was somebody who was less able.  Any of those things would still bring us to this position,” she said.

 

Parry said he has already begun cultural and diversity counseling and again apologized, vowing “nothing like this will ever happen again.”  “I’m going to fix what is unacceptable about my behavior,” he said. 

 

Parry also said he will not step down.  “I respect the action of the council.  I will say definitively that I am not going to resign the position of mayor of Michigan City.  Why?   Because I can’t.  I am not a quitter.  I have never quit on anything in my life.  I am going to overcome that and I am not going to start by being a quitter tonight,” he said.

 

Parry, a republican, is in the second year of a four-year term.

More Highway Patrol Drug Arrests

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police have swept into their dust pan more drug related suspects from major highways.  Jermaine Young, 37, of Harvey, Illinois along with Chelsey Smith, 26, of Anderson, Indiana were taken to the La Porte County Jail.

According to police, they were in a passenger vehicle stopped about 9 a.m. on Monday for tailgating and unsafe lane movement on Indiana 2 east of Rolling Prairie.  An undisclosed amount of illegal drugs and drug paraphernalia were found in the vehicle with help from “Bosco,” a K-9 dog from the sheriff’s office.

 

Young was arrested for level 2 felony Dealing in Methamphetamine.  Smith was arrested for Unlawful Possession of a Syringe, a level 6 felony.

More Requests for Mayor Parry to Step Aside

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City official is indicating Mayor Parry should step down for his recorded remarks many believe were racist.

 

Drew White, President of the city’s Board of Public Works and Safety, said the words from the mayor created a lot of pain in the community and should not be made by anyone especially the leader of a community.

 

At the end of Monday’s meeting, White read from a prepared statement.

 

“The criticism aimed at Mayor Parry is deserved and it is my sincere hope that he takes some time to consider the criticism he is receiving. He has no one to blame for this situation but himself.  My utmost hope is that he is sincere in his promise to be better going forward than he has demonstrated. In my heart of hearts, I believe the community's best interests are likely better served by Mayor Parry’s resignation,” White said.

 

White was appointed by Parry a few months ago to replace the late Keith Harris.

 

Tonight, the Michigan City Common Council is expected to vote on a resolution asking Parry to resign.

 

“The council is very upset and I can speak for all of us,” said Councilman Bryant Dabney.

 

Dabney said the council has no authority to impeach the mayor and Parry would have to resign for him to be replaced.

 

He said the resolution is one of the many tools being put to work right now to put pressure on the mayor.

 

Parry is early in the second year of a four-year term.

La Porte Hits Economic Stimulus Jackpot

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte is receiving a lot of economic stimulus money.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody announced at last night’s city council meeting $11.6 million is coming from the recently approved federal COVID-19 relief package.  Dermody said how the funds can be legally spent is not known yet but the dollars should be used to make the greatest impact on La Porte for many years to come.  He said more new housing is one of the ideas that come to mind for using the money considering the shortage of housing options in the city and housing mentioned by many citizens as a major need in the community.

 

“This is one time money. You don’t want to put it toward raises or other things but to focus on impacting the City of La Porte.  We have to be cautious, careful and we make sure we all agree on a plan,” he said.  

 

Dermody said a team will be put together to recommend how those dollars should be spent.  What is eligible for those dollars should be known sometime in the near future.

Thousands of Viewers for Chase Crash Video

(La Porte County, IN) - A video of a crash during a high speed chase in La Porte County over the weekend is a major hit on social media.

 

18-year old Jagger Eapmon of La Porte took the video Sunday afternoon and posted it on Facebook.  Eapmon said the posting had over 13,000 hits on Monday.  The number of shares went from over 600 yesterday to more than 700 today.

 

Eapmon said he was trying to repair a car at his grandmother’s house on Johnson Road near 300 North when he heard sirens and saw an officer set out stop sticks to try and flatten the oncoming suspect’s tires.  He grabbed his cell phone and started recording before the vehicle flipped after veering around the sharp objects.  “I’ve seen a couple of accidents but nothing like that,” he said.

 

Eapmon said he was running toward the crash site when he saw numerous officers tackle the driver.  Police said the chase started in Michigan City when the 17-year old driver struck a police vehicle and fled to the City of LaPorte.  He was heading back toward Michigan City when he crashed.

 

Police said the juvenile, after a medical examination, was transported to the La Porte County Juvenile Services Center.

45 and Over Now Vaccine Eligible

(Indianapolis, IN) - Hoosiers 45 and over are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  According to the Indiana Department of Health , this adds more than 400,000 Hoosiers to those presently eligible to be vaccinated.

 

Appointments to be vaccinated can be made at places like Meijer and Kroger.  Additional groups will be added to the eligibility list as more vaccine becomes available, ISDH officials said.

 

To schedule a vaccine, visit https://ourshot.in.gov and select a location from one of more than 400 clinics around the state. according to the ISDH.  Hoosiers who do not have a computer or cell phone or those who need assistance scheduling an appointment can call 211 or contact one of Indiana’s Area Agenies on Agining or AARP.

 

To date, 1,276,777 first doses of vaccine have been administered and 837,233 individuals are fully vaccinated in the state, ISDH officals said.

 

Victims in Fishing Accident Identified

(La Porte County, IN) - Two men who died in a fishing accident over the weekend near Michigan City have been identified.

 

According to La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson, the victims were 58-year old Robert Spikes

and 46-year old Alanso Portwood.  She said both men are believed to be from Michigan City.  Swanson said Portwood had an address from South Carolina on his legal ID but his body was claimed by an aunt living in Michigan City.

 

Authorities said the men on Sunday somehow fell in the water of a private lake in the area of

U.S. 421 and Interstate 94.  The case is being investigated by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and the La Porte County Sheriff's Office. 

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Minimum Wage Increase

(LAPORTE, IN) -- Did you know that America's minimum wage was first made law with the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established a federal minimum wage at $0.25 an hour? However, it didn’t cover executives, seasonal employees, and some other groups. Former President Roosevelt said, "It seems to me to be equally plain that no business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country."

 

The Indiana minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, the same as the federal minimum wage. The Indiana minimum wage was last increased in 2008 when it was raised by $0.60.

 

State Representative Pat Boy put forward House Bill 1345 to slowly increase the minimum wage to $11 an hour by December 31, 2022. But it didn’t make it past an Employment, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing. In today's SOUND OFF episode, we talk about the minimum wage and whether our listeners think it should be increased. 

 

 

CREDITS: Dennis Siddall (Producer), Jeff Wuggazer (Editor), Nate Loucks (Host), Bryant Dabney (Guest)

 

SOUND OFF is a community conversation show that airs every Monday and Friday on 96.7 the Eagle in LaPorte County, Indiana. SOUND OFF is a Spoon River Media production.

Driver in Chase Crash is a Teenager

(La Porte County, IN) - The driver who allegedly flipped a van while being chased by police was teenager.

 

Michigan City Police identified the suspect as a 17 year old from Michigan City.

 

According to police, the Sunday afternoon chase began when the driver struck a police vehicle in Michigan City on Broadway St.

 

Instead of pulling over, police said the driver accelerated and the officer whose vehicle he struck went after him.

 

The high speed chase went from the east side of Michigan City to the City of La Porte and was heading back toward Michigan City when the van crashed.

 

The vehicle flipped on Johnson Road near 300 North after the driver veered around a pair of stop sticks at high speed, police said.

 

Police said parts of a firearm along with ammunition were found and so was evidence of drug

use.

 

The name of the driver was not released because of the suspect being a juvenile.

 

Bison Defeat Arch Rival in Hoops

(New Buffalo, MI) - The New Buffalo High School boys’ basketball team could be peaking at just the right time during what’s been a solid regular season.

 

The Bison (9-2) defeated Bridgman on the road Saturday 55 to 47 after losing to the Bees by 12-points at home in late February.

 

Junior guard Kayden Parmley said it was the first victory against Bridgman for all of the Bison players dating back to when they were in middle school.

 

“It definitely feels good,” he said.

 

Head Coach Nate Tripp said the performance against a solid opponent from a larger school is a good measuring stick for what the team is capable of doing in the upcoming District 4 tournament.

 

The tournament to be held at River Valley High School begins on March 23. 

 

“Eye on the prize but we got a lot of work to do between now and the end of the season,” he said.

Bridge Fall Death near Casino

(Michigan City, IN) - Authorities are investigating the weekend death of a man during a fall into Trail Creek.  The victim is identified as 32 year old August Breitbarth of La Porte.

 

According to Michigan City Police, he fell into Trail Creek from the U.S. 12 bridge near Blue Chip Casino about 5:30 p.m. on Saturday.  Police said a witness observed the man walk up the bridge by himself and lean over the pedestrian railing by  himself just prior to the fall.

 

The man was recovered from the water and taken to the hospital where he later died.  Whether the fall was an accident or suicide was not disclosed, but police are investigating the death.

 

Former La Porte County Historian Passes Away

(La Porte County, IN) - She knew the history of La Porte County practically like the back of her hand.  Fern Eddy Schultz has passed away.  She was 92.  The lifelong resident of the area died Thursday at her home on Johnson Road. 

 

Schultz was past president and charter member of the La Porte County Genealogical Society

and past president of the La Porte County Historical Society.

 

“Fern Eddy Schultz was the prototype of what a county historian should be.  She was interested in every aspect of La Porte County history.  She did her homework meticulously and was a strong advocate for people knowing and understanding the importance of the history of this area,” said former La Porte Mayor Leigh Morris.

 

Arrangement for Schultz was being handled by Haverstock Funeral Home and Cremation Services.

Video of Chase Ending in Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - A high-speed chase ended with a crash between La Porte and Michigan City yesterday.  Part of the chase went down a stretch of State Road 39.  The pursuit ended on Johnson Road near 300 North when the full-size van rolled over after running over stop sticks deployed by Police.

 

18-year old Jagger Eapmon was at his grandmother’s house working on a car when

he saw police place stop sticks on the road and heard the oncoming police vehicles' sirens.  Eapman grabbed his cell phone and recorded the pursuit and the van after running over the

stop sticks overturning.

 

“I was excited. There were at least 10 officers hopped out of their vehicle and tackled the guy,” he said. Eapman said the suspect, who appeared to be in his early 20’s, was placed into an ambulance.  He also said the roof on the top of the van was torn off, which also struck a passenger vehicle as the chase was ending.

 

So far, police have not released further details. Eapman said his video had received over 13,000 hits on Facebook.

Chase Ends When Suspect Trips

(Michigan City, IN) - There was another police chase over the weekend.  This one was in Michigan City.

 

According to Michigan City Police, an officer was a traffic stop early yesterday when he heard squealing tires on a speeding vehicle at 11th and Pine streets.  The officer quickly finished the traffic stop and soon located the vehicle which refused to stop.

 

Police said there was a pursuit throughout the northwest side of Michigan City.  Eventually, the driver stopped but fled on foot.

 

Police said the suspect was captured during a foot pursuit after tripping over a fence.  30 year old Joshua Murray of La Porte is charged with resisting law enforcement and other counts like possession of a syringe.

New Carlisle Residents Come Together After Child's Death

(New Carlisle, IN) - Shocked. Saddened. Confused.  Residents of New Carlisle gathered Sunday evening in their downtown park to express their emotions over a recent tragedy.

 

The body of 6-year-old Gracie Ross was found Friday night in the woods behind her apartment complex.  She had been reported missing two hours earlier.  Police say a fourteen-year-old boy is in custody, but no further details have been released.

 

Town resident Brad Ellett helped organize the Sunday evening vigil.  He put out a call on Facebook to gather at the park, and over 200 people answered.  “I didn’t know Gracie personally,” he told the crowd, “but I have children of my own, and I just can’t imagine what her family and friends are feeling right now.  I wanted to organize this today so as a community we can show Grace’s family that we love them and we care.”

 

After leading a prayer, Ellett invited others to speak.

 

Olive Elementary Principal Tara Bush choked back tears as she spoke about Grace’s impact on her school.  “Gracie made our school a better place,” Bush said.  “There’s not very many times that on the first day of school I already know a student in kindergarten, but Grace was one that I knew from day one.  Her smile even shone under the mask.  You could tell she was smiling all the time.”  Bush said Grace was proud of her pony tail and always wore a pencil in it so she was always ready for work.  “Olive is a better place because she was there,” Bush concluded, “and she will be greatly missed.”

 

Gracie’s mother, Michelle Ross, thanked the community for their support. “I’m overwhelmed with the amount of love that you’ve shown our family,” she told the crowd.  “And just keep us in your prayers because we can’t wrap our brains around this right now.”  She added, “Grace just lit up the room.  Everyone loved Grace.  Gracie was friends with everybody.  She just made so many friends wherever she went.  I just can’t wrap my head around it.”

 

Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday morning, with a visitation on Friday afternoon at Palmer Funeral Home in South Bend.

HTNN Top 5 News Stories - Week of 3/7/21

(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 our News stories.  Here are links to the Top Local News stories of the week on HometownNewsNow.com during the period of March 7th through March 13th:

 

#5:  Career Criminal Guilty of Child Molesting

 

#4:  Birthday Spoiled for Alleged Drug Dealer

 

#3:  Man Killed in Motorcycle Accident

 

#2:  Another Trendy Restaurant for La Porte

 

#1:  Michigan City Mayor Asked to Resign Over Alleged Racial Comments

 

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.

Body of Missing Child Discovered in New Carlisle

(New Carlisle, IN) - A little girl in New Carlisle was found dead after being reported missing Friday night.

 

At around 5:30 pm Friday, six-year-old Grace Ross was reported missing in the area of Chapman Street.  A multi-unit apartment complex is located there.  The girl’s body was discovered two hours later in a wooded area behind the apartments.

 

The St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit has been investigating the death. Police report that a 14-year-old suspect has been arrested.  No further details have been released, and the investigation is ongoing. 

 

An autopsy is scheduled for Sunday. Authorities are asking the public for further help. If you have information, call police at 574-235-5009 or Crime Stoppers at 574-288-STOP.

Nursing Homes Easing Restrictions

(Indianapolis, IN) - Nursing homes should become more visitor friendly.  This week, state officials announced a rollback of the lockdown protocols that have been in place in long-term care facilities.

 

On Wednesday, State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said nursing homes will now be required to offer indoor visitation, as long as they haven’t had a positive COVID case in the past 14 days.  They are also increasing the amount of time allowed for visits. 

 

And Dr. Box announced that long-term care residents can leave their facilities for up to 24 hours without having to quarantine upon returning.

Springing Forward

(United States) - Before you roll into church late tomorrow, remember to change your clocks.  Daylight Saving Time begins overnight tonight.

 

When you go to bed, be sure to move your clocks ahead one hour.  Digital devices like phones and computers usually adjust themselves.  Daylight Savings kicks in at 2:00 in the morning.

 

It’s also a good time to check the batteries on your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.   Fire experts say nearly two-thirds of all home fire deaths occur in homes with no working smoke alarm.

La Porte County to Get Another Infusion of Stimulus Money

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County’s cut of the recent federal COVID relief package looks to top $20 million.  Preliminary numbers show roughly $5.8 billion will come to the state, with about $2.6 billion of that being divided up among the counties.

 

La Porte County will rake in over $21,312,000.  The money is be used until the end of 2024.  Counties expect to receive half the money within the next two months. The rest will come next year.

 

Theoretically, the money should offset COVID costs.  But it can also be used for expenses ranging from hazard pay for essential workers to infrastructure projects.

St. Patrick's Day Parade with a Twist

(Michigan City, IN) - A St. Patrick’s Day parade in Michigan City will happen, after all.  Earlier this month, the city's Mainstreet Association canceled the traditional parade due to concerns about COVID-19.  But a pandemic-friendly alternative has been planned for Saturday afternoon.

 

A drive-thru parade is taking place today at Washington Park.  Cars will be directed from Fedder’s Alley through the park to Clover Leaf Lane.  Spectators will pass by festive attractions.  There will be plenty to enjoy along the route… such as free candy, bagpipe players, and zoo animals.

 

The event is free. Originally, tickets were required, but organizers say that is no longer the case.  The reverse parade starts at 1:00 this afternoon and goes until 2:15.

New Prairie Basketball Heads to Regionals

(New Carlisle, IN) - One area basketball team is still alive in the state tournament.  New Prairie is vying for a regional title for the first time in 18 years.  Their path couldn’t get any harder, though, with both the number one and number two ranked teams standing in their way. 

 

The Cougars face top-ranked Hammond in the South Bend Washington regional Saturday afternoon.  New Prairie coach Mike Bauer thinks his veteran team is ready for the challenge. “We’ve played some really good teams throughout this year and had some success with them,” he says. “I’ll go into a game with the group I have against anybody.”

 

If successful in their first game Saturday, New Prairie may face second-ranked South Bend St. Joseph.  Bauer doesn’t shy away from that matchup either.  “We played St. Joe once already, and we were able to beat them earlier, a one-point game at our place.”

 

The Cougars (19-7) play Hammond (17-1) at noon Saturday in South Bend.

The SOUND OFF Podcast - Bryant Dabney

(LAPORTE, IN) -- Today on SOUND OFF, the guest was Michigan City Councilperson Bryant Dabney, who is in his second term as the First Ward Councilperson. His district includes areas like the Eastport neighborhood, Elston Grove, and Sheridan Beach. The conversation included discussions about Michigan City Police Chief Dion Campbell, Michigan City Mayor Duane Parry, the recent Council Resolution expressing a lack of confidence in the mayor, and more. 

 

 

CREDITS: Dennis Siddall (Producer), Jeff Wuggazer (Editor), Nate Loucks (Host), Bryant Dabney (Guest)

 

SOUND OFF is a community conversation show that airs every Monday and Friday on 96.7 the Eagle in LaPorte County, Indiana. SOUND OFF is a Spoon River Media production.

Police Dog Ends Chase Across State Lines

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte man, engaged in a in Police car chase that crossed into Michigan, was fleeing on foot when tackled by a police dog outside Galien.  Travis Hatchel, 35, was taken to the Berrien County Jail after his apprehension on March 11.  Eventually, he will be returned to Indiana to face charges in La Porte County, authorities said.

 

According to La Porte County Police, Hatchel was in a vehicle pulled over for a traffic violation in the area of U.S. 20 and U.S. 35 outside Michigan City.  After contact was made with the driver, though, the vehicle took off, police said.

 

Police said the chase was traveling along 525 West when undisclosed items were thrown out of the vehicle, which later headed eastbound on 1000 North close to the state line.  The pursuit crossed into Michigan on 650 East and ventured down several roads near Three Oaks before winding up in a field north of U.S.. 12 and west of Hampton Road.

 

Police said officers continued the pursuit across and around the field until the vehicle began slowing down in the soft dirt.  The driver placed the vehicle in reverse and backed into an unmarked police vehicle then fled on foot.

 

According to police, Hatchel was chased through a water filled ditch until confronted and taken to the ground by the dog named “Bosco.”  Hatchel was fighting with the dog until grabbed by the officers, who took him away in handcuffs, police said.

 

According to court documents, Hatchel was wanted on several outstanding warrants in La Porte County for allegedly leading officers on a chase in December and fleeing a motor vehicle crash in 2017.  He also has prior convictions for crimes like possession of methamphetamine, burglary and resisting law enforcement.

Dyngus Day is On Without Buses

(La Porte, IN) - There’s going to be a Dyngus Day in La Porte this year, but with one major change. 

 

No buses will be running to take people from bar to bar as they have done in the over 30-years tavern owners in LaPorte have taken part in the festivities held annually the day after Easter.

Howie Hunsley, owner Dick’s Bar and member of the Dyngus Day Committee, said fear of spreading COVID-19 is behind the decision by participating tavern owners not to provide buses.

 

“It would be hard to control the buses on how many people get on and stuff. We can control each of our own taverns along the route but trying to control how many people get on the bus at this spot and how may get on at the next spot, that's where we kind of got into do we really want to possibly cause a problem,” he said.  Hunsley emphasized Dyngus Day participants should bring a designated driver since no buses will be taking them bar hopping this year.

 

Dyngus Day is scheduled April 5.  Eight bars are participating in the festivities.  Dyngus Day was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Help Offered for Utility Bill Payments

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana's winter disconnection moratorium, which temporarily prohibits electric and natural gas utilities from disconnecting low-income customers, ends March 15. 

State Representative Jim Pressel of Rolling Prairie said Hoosiers who face disconnection should contact their utility company as early as possible to negotiate a payment agreement. Many utilities also offer budget billing to assist with consistent monthly payments.

Pressel said Indiana's Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program helps pay electric and heat bills for eligible individuals. Hoosiers should contact their local Community Action Agency to see if they qualify.

 

Applications for the LIHEAP are available through May 14, he said.

Bright Side to Farm Income Projections

(West Lafayette, IN) - A projected long term decline in farm income following a banner year is viewed as “good news” by an agriculture economist at Purdue University.

 

Dr. Michael Langemeier said the USDA forecast still places farm income over the next 10-years at levels much higher than where they stood prior to the 2020 recovery.  “I actually look at it as good news because we’re not dropping down to the prices we had in 2014 to 2019,” he said.

 

USDA is predicting it might be a decade or more before farm profits rise above the numbers from 2020.  The $120 billion in U.S. farm income last year was the highest since 2013, according to USDA.

 

USDA predicts farm profits nationwide this year will decline by 8.1-percent and fluctuate annually between $99.3 billion to $109 billion through 2030.  If the forecast proves accurate, Langemeier said most farmers will be able to keep their heads above water by not having to take out as many loans or dip into equity as much to fund operating costs.  “If you start going to $60 billion to $70 billion in net farm income that really makes the working capital situation very, very tight,” he said.

 

The income declines were forecast despite USDA projecting an increase in annual sales through 2030.  Langemeier said farm income last year was artificially high by the amount of federal dollars awarded to help farmers weather the financial storm brought on by COVID-19 and the trade war with China.  He also said the projected income decline made sense because the amount of government aid reached historic levels just as long struggling grain prices took off from a big jump in demand for exports primarily by China.

 

Langemeier said government dollars represented a good portion of the farm income and assistance is not expected to be anywhere close to the 2020 amount in the coming years.  He said prices will return to being the major driver of farm income in the future.  He doesn’t expect current prices to remain as high but he also doesn’t envision a major drop in prices any time soon.

 

Langemeier said prices started plummeting after 2013 because of a large surplus built from several years of producing more corn and soybeans to take advantage of high returns.  Supplies are tight right now but the amount of time it took to eat into the surplus will be needed to rebuild the amount in storage, he said.

 

Langemeier said what actually happens to future prices also hinges largely on whether China continues to aggressively purchase corn and soybeans from the U.S. and economic conditions across the globe.  People from other countries with higher incomes purchase more protein.  If greater need for meat in foreign countries isn’t served by U.S. livestock producers, there will be more orders for U.S. corn and soybeans from other countries feeding additional animals to meet consumer demand, he said.  

 

Exports remaining high means price stability for an extended period from continued strained supplies.  “I don’t think the prices are going to remain as strong as they are in 2021 but I don’t think we’re going to drop down to $3.50 corn either. So, you have a positive situation no matter how you look at it,” he said.

 

According to USDA, the income projections are based on no change in current government policy in areas like trade and COVID-19 relief measures.

Career Criminal Guilty of Child Molesting

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man has been convicted of child molesting.  38-year old Gavilan Love was found guilty by a La Porte Circuit Court jury this week.

 

According to authorities, Love molested a grade school age girl in 2018 at a residence in

La Porte.  The girl went to authorities after a good touch, bad touch program at her elementary school.

 

Love could receive anywhere from 20 to 40 years.  He also faces additional time as habitual offender.  Love has an extensive criminal history for crimes like dealing drugs and battery.

 

No sentencing date has been set yet.

Major Country Artists Coming to La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Two big names in country music are coming to La Porte.  Eddie Montgomery of Montgomery Gentry is coming for an encore performance.  He performed here last year on Pine Lake during the July 4th celebration.

 

He will be joined by his brother, John Michael Montgomery, who was a huge country music performer during the peak of his career over 20-years ago.  Also sharing the stage will be their nephew Dillon Carmichael.  They will perform during Red Wine and Brew during a concert they're calling the "Montgomery Family Reunion".

 

Bethany Lutheran Church is  the promoter of the concert and tasting event, which raises money for local first responders.  “This is going to be I think an incredible event maybe even a historic event.  It certainly will be for their family.  This is the first time they've all been together.  It all really got started with our friendship with Dillon Carmichael whose mother is a sister to the Montgomery brothers who made it big in Nashville,” said Pastor Dennis Meyer.

 

There will be a fireworks show at the end of the event.

 

Red, Wine and Brew will have a different location this year.  It will be in at a scenic open field across from the Summit Farm on Johnson Road at 500 West.

 

The event is scheduled July 2.  Tickets will go on sale March 17th and will be available at RedWineandBrewLaPorte.com (click here).

Controlled Burn Planned in Nature Area

(Michigan City, IN) - As many residents are aware, Striebel Pond was conceived as a dual-path project to control flooding along the Striebel Arm Ditch and provide a very popular 40-acre recreational park.

 

The pond was completed in 2006 with native wetland plants.  Since that time, the native plantings have been almost completely overtaken by non-native invasive species dominated by Phragmites australis.  This invasive vegetation is not only unsightly but impairs the biodiversity of the habitat and view of the pond and the many beautiful birds it attracts.

 

To restore the native vegetation and biodiversity of the wildlife habitat, the Michigan City Sanitary District  entered into a professional services agreement with Applied Ecological Services, Inc. in the summer of 2020 to begin a 4-year project valued at over $52,000.

 

The first phase of the project, which was application of herbicide to the invasive plants, was completed in fall 2020.  The next phase of the project during 2021 is completion of a prescribed burn led by a Certified Burn Boss and crew of Firefighter Type 2 Certified technicians.

 

Weather conditions, including windspeed and direction, relative humidity, and moisture content of the vegetation all need to be just right before the prescribed burn can begin.  As such, the prescribed burn cannot be scheduled far in advance.

 

The District and Applied Ecological Services are currently poised to undertake the prescribe burn at the next available opportunity and want the residents of Michigan City well informed and unsurprised when this important phase of the project begins.  In fact, the prescribed burn could begin as early as Friday or Saturday.

 

The Park will be closed on the day of the prescribed burn.  Questions regarding this project can be directed to Michael Kuss, General Manager of the Michigan City Sanitary District at (219) 229-1298 or mkuss@mcsan.org.

More Calls for Mayor Parry to Resign

(Michigan City, IN) -  The Michigan City Common Council could be asking the Mayor to resign over his recorded statements labeled as racist.  A resolution calling for him to resign has been drafted and is expected to be voted on at the next council meeting.

 

In addition to his statement, the resolution calls the Mayor Duane Parry’s recent criticism of the Police Chief for asking citizens in writing for donations unprofessional.  The resolution also alleges the Mayor demeans and chastises department heads.

 

Councilman Paul Pryzbylinski says he supports asking the Mayor to step down.  “It’s a sad situation in Michigan City in the way we look as elected officials in representing everyone.  It really set me back and even hearing that statement that was made.  I think the Mayor has shown he doesn’t take input from people,” he said.

 

The resolution also specifies that 30 percent of the residents in Michigan City are African American and they along with community  leaders deserve respect and fair treatment.

 

The city council meets on Tuesday.

Changes in Most Dangerous Intersection List

(La Porte County, IN) - The 12 most dangerous intersections in La Porte County have been identified.

 

No. 1 on the list is U.S 20 and Indiana 39 in Springville closely followed by U.S 421 and 300 North outside Michigan City.  Next in line are 400 North and Wozniak Road, Indiana 2 and U.S 421 and Johnson Road and U.S 20.  La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd said the numbers were compiled from all crash reports from the entire county last year. 

 

Interestly, perhaps, some intersections always on the most dangerous list in the past are no longer in the rankings.  Those include intersections on U.S 20 at 300 West, 400 West, Byron Road and Indiana 2.  Boyd said he believes those intersections are safer now because of increased enforcement of traffic laws and upgrades like improved site lines and rumble strips placed in recent years on the center line and edge of the shoulder.  He said the improvements were performed by the Indiana Department of Transportation.

 

Boyd said the new roundabouts at U.S 20 and State Road 2 have also greatly diminished crashes in that area.

Republicans Forge Ahead with Recruiting Minorities

(Michigan City, IN) - Statements many people label as racist from Michigan City Mayor Duane Parry are not discouraging local Republicans from extending the olive branch to African-Americans.

 

La Porte County Republican Party Chairman Allen Stevens made recruiting more African-Americans a priority when elected the GOP leader here over the weekend.  He expressed disgust at the Republican Parry referring to blacks as attention seekers and expressed confidence of his strategy succeeding.  “I ran on a platform of diversity, inclusion and broadening the tent.  This was set in motion way before me the unfortunate events of mayor Perry's comments,” he said.

 

Stevens also said the party will not be sidetracked.  “We keep marching forward.  We keep moving ahead with outreach in Michigan City.  I've got a small list already of African American Republicans that have requested to be added to our  precinct list. As chairman, that's my pleasure to make those appointments and I'm continuing to reach out to the community,” he said.

 

Stevens, a supporter of former President Trump, said Republicans and African Americans have a lot more in common nowadays.  “I think, by and large, a lot of our Republican values align with the same values of the African American community.  We're welcoming. We’re ready. The welcome mat’s out.  Come on,” he said.

Mayor Under Fire Orders Himself into Diversity Training

(Michigan City, IN) - The mayor of Michigan City has apologized for remarks viewed by many as racist.  During a news conference outside City Hall yesterday in response to calls for him

to resign, Parry said he’s ordered himself and staff into diversity and cultural training.

 

Parry also said he will be the first one to undergo the training.  “I cannot say the words to fully express my regret for saying what I said during the past week. My words now cannot change what I’ve said. However my future actions can and will.  I'm sorry.  I realize, saying I'm sorry is not enough,” he said.

 

Parry said diversity training is also be mandatory for all board and commission members and a new position will be created to represent the city out in the community.  The black community will have input on who is chosen for that position.

 

Parry recently left a voice mail for a black minister wanting to discuss the way he handled an issue involving the African-American police chief and thought he hung up the phone.  The phone was still hot, though, when he stated “They want a f____ing audience. You know, these black guys.  They all want a f___ing audience."  He left the message on the voice mail of Pastor James Lane.

 

After the news conference, Lane was not swayed by the mayor’s apology and continues to call for his resignation.  “Resign. Resign. Resign.  At this point, your apology is a moot point.  The way you treat your leaders of this community.  The way you treat your staff of this community.  The way you treat City Council members of this community, it is evident that you have the behavior of a bigot and there's no place for bigotry in this leadership of Michigan City.  He needs to resign,” he said.

 

Parry has been mayor for just over a year.

La Porte Wrestling Champ Honored

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte High School wrestling champion has been recognized for his achievement.   Ashton Jackson is the first state wrestling champ from La Porte High School in about 30 years.

 

La Porte Community School Corporation Superintendent Mark Francesconi credited Jackson

for his hard work to reach the top and presented him with a certificate during this week’s school board meeting.  “It’s not something that happens easily or by accident. I can’t imagine the work and toughness, mentally and physically, that you’ve gone through and that’s a true model for all of our students,” he said.

 

Jackson won the state title in the 106 pound weight class last month.

Commissioner Out to Protect Whistleblowers

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte County official wants people to be able to blow the whistle without fear of retaliation.  LaPorte County Commissioner Joe Haney says he is working on developing a policy to protect whistleblowers.

 

Haney, a Republican, was elected to his first term on the three-member governing body in November.  Recently, Haney appealed to the La Porte County government's current and former employees to come forward with any negative experiences they might have encountered from dirty politics.

 

Haney, along with newly elected Republican LaPorte County Auditor Tim Stabosz, has alleged County Attorney Shaw Friedman has influence over decisions by elected officials.  Friedman, claiming defamation of character, has filed a civil lawsuit seeking unspecified damages against Stabosz for some of his remarks.

 

Haney said he would present a proposed policy protecting whistleblowers possibly as soon as the next La Porte County Commissioners meeting on March 17.  “I am going to make this a top priority in the next week and a half here to get this done,” he said.

Civic Auditorium on the Hoosier Hysteria Ballot

(La Porte, IN) - Three local high school gymnasiums are in the running for the best place to watch a basketball game in Indiana.  One is the Civic Auditorium in La Porte.

 

The Slicers play their home games at La Porte High School, but Slicers home games several decades ago were at the Civic Auditorium.  In recent years, a few Slicers home games have been played at the near century old building.

 

The rankings will be decided by people voting online.  Mayor Tom Dermody posted the gymnasiums in the running on his Facebook page to get people involved. 

 

Dermody, who played for the Slicers in the 1980’s, plays in the adult leagues now at the Civic Auditorium.  He wishes he would have had that chance during his high school days, saying the Civic Auditorium is what “Hoosier Hysteria is all about.”

 

People can vote daily until April 1 at visitindiana.com (click here to vote).  There are 68 high school gymnasiums on the voting list.  The two other local ones are the Wolves Den in Michigan City and the Tiger Den in LaCrosse.

Man Killed in Motorcycle Accident

(Michigan City, IN) - A 20-year old man was killed in a motorcycle accident in Michigan City  yesterday afternoon.

 

Myles Edson of Michigan City died from his injuries despite life-saving efforts by paramedics, according to Michigan City Police,  A female passenger was also hurt.  Her injuries were not life threatening, police said.

 

Police said the investigation indicates the motorcycle was traveling Michigan Boulevard when encountering a car attempting to cross the four lane highway from an alley near Dewey Street.  Police said Edson veered around the car that wound up in his path but lost control of the motorcycle.  He and his passenger wound up on the pavement.

 

Police said the red colored vehicle, described by a witness as similar to a Chevy Impala, fled the scene.  Help from the public is being sought in identifying the car and its driver.

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police.

Rally Calling for Michigan City Mayor to Resign

(Michigan City, IN) - Over 100 people gathered yesterday to call for the mayor of Michigan City to resign.

 

Mayor Duane Parry described ministers as black guys wanting an audience after thinking he hung up the phone on a call he placed to African American Pastor James Lane. However, the phone was still on, and Parry's comment was recorded on Lane’s voice mail. 

 

Parry was heard on the recording saying, “They want a f____ing audience. You know, these black guys. They all want a f___ing audience,” Parry said on the recording.  

The two men were trying to reach each other over an issue involving African-American Police Chief Dion Campbell ministers from the black community felt was handled unfairly. 

 

Lane, one of the speakers at the rally, said Parry remains stuck during segregation and needs to resign. “Mayor Parry still hasn’t let go of the past.  The time is always right to do what is right,” he said.

 

25-year-old Cassie Dragos of Michigan City held a sign that stated: "RESIGN."  “We should not have political leaders that perpetuate such harmful dialogue. What he said was racist," Dragos said.

 

So far, Parry has declined comment.

 

Originally, the rally was planned outside City Hall but was held across the street. City Hall was vacated before the rally, and the parking lot blocked to keep vehicles from pulling into the lot.

Rent Assistance Open to Public

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana residents in need of rental assistance should apply now to a new, federally-funded, state program offering assistance on a first-come, first-served basis.  

 

People can apply online at IndianaHousingNow.org to the new Indiana Emergency Rental Assistance (IERA) program.  The IERA program is designed to decrease evictions, increase housing stability and prevent homelessness by helping renters whose income has been negatively impacted by COVID-19 with rent and utility assistance.

 

IERA can provide eligible renter households with up to 12 months of rental assistance.  Qualifying applicants may also receive utility assistance for past due utilities (electric, gas, water, sewer, and trash), home energy (fuel oil, wood, coal, pellets, and propane) expenses, and assistance with past due expenses for internet/broadband.

 

Qualifications for this rental assistance program are broader than past rental assistance offerings and landlords are able to apply on behalf of tenants.  Past recipients of rental assistance from either RAF or ESG may be eligible to receive IERA assistance.

 

The assistance provided by IERA cannot duplicate the months of assistance provided by the prior program. If a household received rental assistance in November, December, January, and February they may receive IERA assistance beginning in March.

Sidewalk Repair Grant Applications Sought

(La Porte, IN) - Property owners in La Porte can ask the city to help pay for sidewalk repairs.  The application process is now open.

 

Officials said the city will pay half the cost for select applicants or up to $2,000 per residence.  City Engineer Nick Minich said the program helps make affordable sidewalk repairs which can be costly.  "This program gives residents a chance to move their sidewalks to the top of the list at half the cost they would pay on their own, while also allowing them to play a role in the process,” he said. 

 

Applications are available online at cityoflaporte.com.  Applications along with a $100 deposit are due by Friday, officials said.

 

 

Michigan City Mayor Asked to Resign Over Alleged Racial Comments

(Michigan City, IN) - The Mayor of Michigan City will be asked to resign during a protest this afternoon over a statement that many in the African American ministerial community find offensive. The protest, largely organized by members of the ministerial community, is scheduled to begin at 3 P.M. outside the Michigan City City Hall.

 

Pastor James Lane said the Mayor called him back over a matter of concern recently and left him a voicemail.  Lane said the “hot mic” statement was made after the Mayor thought he had hung up the phone, and the comments were recorded on the voicemail.

 

“They want a f____ing audience. You know, these black guys.  They all want a f___ing audience,” Mayor Duane Parry said on the recording.  

 

“The Mayor made a statement that is so disturbing; I don’t want to repeat it. It’s not something that should be coming from the Chief Executive of our city.”

 

Both sides tried to reach each other over the mayor's criticism made of the Police Chief Dion Campbell asking citizens in a letter for donations for causes like the Police Department Easter Egg Hunt. Parry claimed that Campbell was begging for money in a press release and later stated there were funds already in the Chief’s budget for community-type projects.

 

Pastor Dwayne Hurt said the Mayor should have approached Chief Campbell in private about his concerns. Critics of the Mayor‘s handling of the situation say the Police Department has sought donations for years for community service work-related projects.

 

The Mayor felt Campbell should have sought permission first before seeking donations, saying it’s the job of elected officials to provide for the community's needs with existing tax dollars without soliciting the public for more funds. 

 

When contacted today, Parry declined to respond to the recording. Parry, a Republican, is in his first term as Mayor of Michigan City, having been elected in 2019. 

Traffic Stop Leads to Drug Arrest

(Michigan City, IN) - A traffic stop in Michigan City resulted in drug dealing charges against the driver.  26-year old Jaleel Perry is charged with dealing cocaine and marijuana.

 

Police said the Michigan City man was pulled over for speeding on E. 11th Street two days ago.  According to police, evidence of drugs resulted in a search of the vehicle and Perry’s arrest.

 

The traffic stop was made by an officer work special patrols in an area known for drug activity and gun violence.

Middle Sought by New Leader of Democrats

(La Porte, IN) - The new leader of Democrats in La Porte County wants to strengthen the party by focusing more on core values like job creation and affordable health care.

           

Dr. Vidya Kora of Michigan City is La Porte County Democrat Party Chairman for the next four-years.  He ran unopposed.  Kora believes working on solutions to common values can bring together progressive and moderate members of the party.

 

He also welcomed moderate Republicans upset at the direction of their party to cross over if they’re interested in what he’s trying to accomplish from the middle with “truth, facts, science and civility.”

 

Kora said it’s time for the political divide to end for the well-being of the country.  “We need the middle to assert itself and restore balance,” he said.  Kora is also hoping the strategy positions the party better for future success after a vast majority of Democrats lost in the local races in November.  He believes the defeats had more to do with local Republicans riding the coat tails of the support former President Donald Trump enjoyed in La Porte County.

 

Trump received 53-percent or about 3,500 more voters in La Porte County than current President Democrat Joe Biden.  Kora lost his bid for a third consecutive term on the La Porte County Commission by close to 1,300 votes to Republican Joe Haney.

 

He was the La Porte County Democrat Party Chairman from 2000 to 2008.  Kora is also a former member of the Michigan City School Board and once served two terms as La Porte County Coroner.

 

La Porte City Councilwoman Laura Cutler is the new Vice-Chairman of the party.  Linda Simmons, Marketing Director for the La Porte County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, is Treasurer while former La Porte County Councilman Sean Quinn is Secretary.

 

Carol McDaniel retired after being Chairman for the past two and a half years and Vice-Chairman prior to that for close to 20-years.

Trump Supporters Now Control Local GOP

(La Porte, IN) - Supporters of former President Donald Trump are now in charge of the La Porte County Republican Party.  Allen Stevens of Hanna after elected party chairman said one of the things he wants to accomplish is make Trump supporters feel welcome to get involved with the party.

 

Stevens won by a close to three to one margin over Dan Granquist.  Mitch Feikes, the LaPorte County Republican Party Chairman for the past three-years, did not run.

 

Trump supporters Lisa Pierzakowski, Mike Rosenbaum and Adam Koronka were elected Vice-Chair, Treasurer and Secretary over each of the incumbents also by wide margins.  Pierzakowski is the Center Township Trustee while Rosenbaum is on the La Porte County Council.  Koronka is a member of the La Porte County Plan Commission and the La Porte County Board of Zoning Appeals.  

 

Stevens said one of his goals is extending an olive branch to Trump supporters who might have felt unwelcome by previous establishment members of the party.  Stevens is also looking to retain traditional members of the party who might feel disenfranchised now.  “There’s room for everybody here,” he said.

 

Another top priority for Stevens is recruiting African-Americans and Hispanics more aggressively than in the past.  “Their morals, their values and their viewpoints align with the Republican Party.  We just haven’t reached out to them,” he said.

 

Stevens was a precinct committeeperson for eight-years prior to being elected Chairman.  He’s also president of the South County Community Coalition and Hanna Lions Club.

 

Stevens said majority support for Trump by voters here was probably a factor in the landslide by local Republican candidates in November but felt the message from the party also made a difference.

 

 

Another Trendy Restaurant for La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte is going to have another trendy restaurant. 

 

Doc’s Smokehouse is already operating in places like Chicago, Indianapolis and Crown Point.  The restaurant will be inside a strip mall to be constructed along Pine Lake Avenue across from Culver’s, said Bert Cook, Executive Director of the Greater LaPorte Economic Advancement Partnership.  Several houses once stood on the property and they were cleared last year for redevelopment.  “Doc’s will be one of the main tenants within that center,” he said.

 

Cook said Doc’s Smokehouse, known for its barbecue and bourbon based beverages, will build upon La Porte becoming more of a destination for people wanting to eat out.  “They’re an extremely popular restaurant and they’re growing quickly.  We are very pleased they chose to open here,” Cook said.

 

Cook said construction of the strip center will begin sometime in the coming weeks and could be finished before the end of the year.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Mask Mandate in Indiana

(LAPORTE, IN) -- The topic on this episode of SOUND OFF is Indiana's mask mandate. Last week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state would lift its mask mandate and open businesses to 100% capacity. When asked whether Indiana will follow suit, Holcomb said at his weekly COVID-19 update that he's more “Indiana-centric” and happy with the direction the state is going. When asked about those other states, Holcomb said, "Good on them, they have great leaders, but I'm very Indiana-centric to get to the light at the end of the tunnel. It will be over when it's over."

 

 

Texas, Mississippi, Iowa, Montana, and North Dakota have already lifted their mask mandate, while Alabama and Utah have announced that they plan to remove the mandate in mid-April. 

 

CREDITS: Jeff Wuggazer (Producer/Editor), Nate Loucks (Host)

 

SOUND OFF is a community conversation show that airs every Monday and Friday on 96.7 the Eagle in LaPorte County, Indiana. SOUND OFF is a Spoon River Media production.

Birthday Spoiled for Alleged Drug Dealer

(La Porte, IN) - A suspected cocaine dealer made his initial appearance Friday in La Porte Circuit Court.  30-year old Jacob Gross of Wanatah was pulled over in January in the area of State Road 2 and Fail Road on La Porte's far east side. 

 

Police said he had a loud muffler and an expired license plate.  During a search, a large amount of cocaine weighing 8 grams was allegedly found in the vehicle.

 

Gross is also charged with carrying a handgun without a license.  Police said the gun recovered from the vehicle was fully loaded.

 

According to court documents, Gross told police he doesn't sell cocaine all of the time but was

going to do so this time to get money for his daughter’s birthday.

Charges in Shotgun Firings

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man is accused of hitting a moving vehicle with a shotgun.  34-year old Lamar Wilson made his appearance on the charges Friday at La Porte Circuit Court.

 

In June, police said a man and woman were arguing at 505 Maple Avenue in La Porte.  Police said Wilson told the man to leave and fired a gunshot in the air.  According to police, the man was in his truck leaving when Wilson struck the vehicle with another shotgun blast.

 

Police said it was against the law for Wilson to have a firearm because of prior convictions.  His criminal record includes a manslaughter conviction in the state of Michigan.

 

Wilson is charged with level 5 felony criminal recklessness and level 4 felony possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.

New Party Chairman for Local Democrats

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte County Democrats have a new leader.  Dr. Vidya Kora was elected Saturday by precinct committeepersons with the party from throughout the county.  He ran unopposed.

 

Kora is a former La Porte County Commissioners and former party chairman from 2000 to 2008.  “I am happy and excited about working with this new team at the La Porte County Democratic Central Committee,” he said.

 

Kora also has a family medical practice in Michigan City.

 

La Porte City Councilman Laura Cutler was elected vice-chair of the party.

Suspect in 15 Mile Chase Identified

(La Porte, IN) - A man allegedly chased by police for 15 miles before caught in La Porte has been identified.

 

37-year old Martin DeValois is accused of fleeing during a traffic stop Friday on Range Road near 800 North.  Police say he was pulled over for tailgating a semi-truck on U.S 20.  The suspect veered into fields and back onto the pavement at several different locations during the pursuit.

 

Eventually, he was caught in the City of La Porte.  Police say he crashed into a snow bank at a dead end on Pennsylvania Ave. near Craven Pond.

 

DeLavois is charged with resisting law enforcement and serious violent felon in possession of a firearm.  Police say he is from Braidwood, Illinois.

New Local GOP Chairman Elected

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Republicans have a new leader.  Allen Stevens was elected chairman of the La Porte County Republican Party.  The vote was Saturday by precinct committeepersons from throughout the county.

 

Allen, a supporter of Donald Trump, defeated Dan Granquist.  The Hanna man said he looks forward to reinvigorating the party and its base.  “We need to widen the tent and find ways to make our party more inclusive," he said. 

 

Stevens was a precinct committeeman for eight years and is president of the South County Community Coaltion.

 

Elected vice-chair of the party was Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski.  The President and other officers of the party are elected every four-years. 

Copy of Religious Relic Visits Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - The replica of a holy relic is visiting Michigan City starting this weekend. 

 

A life-size image of the Shroud of Turin is on display at the Queen of All Saints Legacy Center.  The Shroud, believed to be the burial cloth of Jesus, is one of the most studied relics in Christendom.

 

The traveling exhibit opened Saturday and runs just through mid-March. It’s free of charge and features over 60 panels related to the Shroud’s history.  It can be seen every day from 6 a.m to 8 p.m. at the Legacy Center at 1719 E. Barker Ave.

Rolling Prairie Residents Leery about Sewer Expansion

(Rolling Prairie, IN) -  Residents in Rolling Prairie are uneasy about their town’s pending sewer expansion.

 

About twenty residents gathered at the Rolling Prairie Library earlier this week to compare notes on the second phase of a public sewer line that is set to begin construction.  Most in attendance were either unaware of the development or opposed to it.

 

The first phase was completed in 2013.  Now the Regional Sewer and Water District intends to hook up the rest of the town.  They’ve received a $2 million grant to install the infrastructure.  But the operating costs will be passed along to residents, who are now being forced to hook up.

 

Residents like Kathleen Miller don’t like the prospects or the price tag of the new service.  “I’m a widow on a very, very tight budget.  I do not have the money, and I don’t know where it’s going to come from,” she said after Monday’s meeting.  “And apparently, from what I understand, the lift station is going to be right in my back yard, and that’s the first I heard of that.”

 

Some residents say notification from the county dated in January didn’t reach them until last month.  And others didn’t know about the next phase until construction equipment showed up in front of their houses last week.  According to County Planning Director Mitch Bishop, three certified letters were sent out to all effected residents at various points in the process.

 

Miller said her daughter’s previous experience with the phase I hookup has her concerned now.  “My daughter was in on phase I.  She ended up paying over $4,000 and still has to pay the $78 a month and is told if she misses a month, they’ll put a lien on her house.”

 

A few residents at the meeting acknowledged the need for the upgrade.  Robert Chance said his septic system is in good shape, and he has the room to update it when necessary, but not many of his neighbors are as lucky.  “I know there are people who absolutely need it,” he said. “Septic systems were not really made for cities as a permanent thing.  We need something better than that.” 

 

Steve Everingham agreed. He has been living in Rolling Prairie for 30 years, and his septic system also works fine. “I’m not totally against putting in a new sewer system,” he said.  “But I think the expense is too high for most people…and if they could get some kind of assistance and also reduce the cost of the sewage system to something similar to what La Porte residents pay, it would be more fair.”

 

County leaders say the expansion is a done deal.  In fact, work started on it this week.  Now residents are trying to figure out how they can follow the law without breaking the bank.  Planning Director Mitch Bishop said a few options may be available to residents for financial relief.

 

Some residents feel like they’re just getting the run-around as work progresses.  Rolling Prairie’s Mike Strieter, who helped organize this week’s meeting, said he was advised to take up the matter with the La Porte County Commissioners.  When several residents spoke at this week’s Commissioners’ meeting, they were told to contact the La Porte County Regional Sewer and Water District.

 

Strieter said at this point residents are just looking for guidance. “I don’t want anyone on the other side of the fence to feel bullied,” he said, “but we feel like we’re being bullied.”

HTNN Top 5 News Stories - Week of 3/1/21

(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 our News stories.  Here are links to the Top Local News stories of the week on HometownNewsNow.com during the period of February 28th through March 6th:

 

#5:  Lid Placed on Alleged X-rated Showman

 

#4:  Local Farmer is Tomato Grower of Year

 

#3:  U.S. 30 to be Closed by Crash for Extended Period

 

#2:  15 Mile Chase Ends in La Porte

 

#1:  Movie about La Porte's Infamous Serial Killer

 

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.

COVID-19 Vaccines Back on Track in La Porte County

(La Porte County, IN) - After a brief supply chain interruption, the COVID-19 vaccine train is back on track in La Porte County. 

 

Hoosiers as young as 50 can now sign up for vaccination. The state has also opened appointments to people with certain medical conditions.  Those include people with Down syndrome or sickle cell disease, cancer or dialysis patients, and recent organ transplant recipients.

 

According to the county health department, over 500 people were vaccinated at a traveling mobile center last weekend.  And over 7,000 people have received at least one dose of vaccine so far.  Officials say hundreds of new appointment slots opened up Friday for Tuesday and Thursday of next week.

 

County Health Administrator Amanda Lahners says La Porte County will soon be receiving a shipment of the new Johnson and Johnson vaccine.  At least 200 doses are expected in the coming days.  Lahners says those may go to home-bound patients, since it is a single-shot vaccine.  The J&J vaccine also has a long shelf life, so it can be doled out in a more strategic fashion.

Area Teachers Now Have Access to Vaccinations

(La Porte County, IN) - School teachers in La Porte County finally have an option for COVID-19 vaccination.

 

Local educators can now schedule vaccine appointments at select area pharmacies.  Extra doses have been shipped to retailers not from the state, but through the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

 

A spokesperson from La Porte’s Health Department says local Meijer and Kroger stores are accommodating teachers.  Walmart will also soon be doing so, as well.

 

Appointments must be made through the retailers.  You can schedule an appointment at your nearby Meijer store by texting "COVID" to 75049 or by visiting clinic.meijer.com.

Schellinger Resigns State Post

(Indianapolis, IN) - The state’s Secretary of Commerce, Jim Schellinger, stepped down from his position earlier this week.

 

In a memo, Schellinger resigned effective immediately, but did not give a reason or any indication of his future plans.  He said he is proud of contributing to the addition of 3,900 new Hoosier jobs in the past year, as well as $450 million in capital investment across the state.

 

Schellinger, who has family ties to the La Porte area, was appointed as Indiana’s top economic development official in 2017.

 

Governor Eric Holcomb said he intends to fill the position as soon as possible.

Local Dealerships Settle State Lawsuit

(Indianapolis, IN) - Two area motorcycle dealerships involved in a state-wide lawsuit have reached an agreement with the Attorney General’s office.

 

Six Indiana motorcycle dealers were accused of overcharging customers for documentation fees on purchases between 2017 and 2019. They allegedly charged $299 doc fees, even when state law limited such fees to $199. They now owe customers $100 each.

 

Among the dealerships are Harley-Davidson of Valparaiso and Honda of Michigan City.  According to the AG’s office, $174,000 in restitution needs to be paid back to 1,700 customers across the state.

State Police Pull Over Little Car with Lots of Marijuana

(South Bend, IN) - Indiana State Police hauled in a large amount of marijuana in South Bend this week.

 

30 pounds of marijuana was allegedly found during a traffic stop on Logan Street Thursday evening.  After pulling over a 2018 Kia for several traffic violations, a trooper and his K-9 partner conducted a search.  About 30 vacuum sealed packages containing suspected marijuana were recovered.

 

27-year-old Anthony Garcia of South Bend was taken into custody.

New Prairie and Marquette Still Alive in Tournament

(La Porte Area, IN) - Two area boys' basketball teams are still alive in the state tournament and playing for sectional titles this weekend. 

 

On Friday night, New Prairie beat River Forest 89-35.  In the game, Senior Braydon Flagg passed the 1,000 career point mark.  The Cougars face Hanover Central Saturday night for the championship.

 

Marquette Catholic also advanced Friday night, beating Whiting 85-50. The Blazers were led by Brit Harris, who scored 34 points. They face Bowman Academy Saturday night. It's Marquette's ninth sectional title appearance in the last ten years.

 

Two other area teams bowed out of the tournament Friday night. South Bend Riley defeated Michigan City 91-75. Boone Grove edged South Central 47-42.

Gun and Alcohol Arrest

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man is in double trouble for allegedly having a firearm illegally while driving impaired.  Branden Hewlett, 37, is charged with Carrying a Handgun without a License and Operating While Intoxicated.  La Porte County Police said it was also against the law for him to have a gun because of a prior conviction. 

 

Police said Hewlett disregarded a stop sign early Tuesday on Springland Avenue near Roeske Avenue.  A handgun and partially consumed alcoholic beverage were found during a search of the vehicle, police said.

 

Hewlett was being held on $15,000 bond.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Tim Franke

(LAPORTE, IN) -- On this episode of SOUND OFF, LaPorte City Council President Pro Team Tim Franke gives an update about his roles in the city of LaPorte. Topics included LaPorte's new Inclusion and Diversity Committee, economic development, criticisms on trying to appease "Chicago" residents, and more.

 

 

CREDITS: Dennis Siddall (Producer), Jeff Wuggazer (Editor), Nate Loucks (Host), Tim Franke (Guest)

 

SOUND OFF is a community conversation show that airs every Monday and Friday on 96.7 the Eagle in LaPorte County, Indiana. SOUND OFF is a Spoon River Media production.

15 Mile Chase Ends in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - There was a wild 15 mile police chase that ended in the City of La Porte late this morning.  Police said the suspect fled during a traffic stop.

 

According to the police radio traffic, the chase began on Range Road near 800 North and back and forth through various fields on several occasions.  At one point, the chase after crossing Indiana 39 veered back to the two lane state highway andheaded south, crossing U.S 20 in Springville then eastbound on Severs Road just outside La Porte.  Eventually, the pursuit stopped at a dead end on Pennsylvania St. near Craven Pond. 

 

We spoke to Kathy Spiegel, who was out for a walk on Craven Drive as the chase was reaching a conclusion.  “We were out walking down Craven and we saw all the cars coming with the lights and as soon as we got to the tree line on Craven we saw about 5 cops with their guns drawn,” she said.  Spiegel said she also saw what looked like a man in handcuffs being placed into a police car.

 

La Porte County Police Capt. Derek Allen said further details will be released once the matter advances further into the investigation.  According to the police radio traffic, the suspect was driving a car with Illinois plates and apparently was tossing undisclosed items out of the vehicle during the pursuit.

Senator Appealing for Fallen Officer Donations

(La Porte County, IN) - A GoFundMe page has been established for the family of a fallen correctional officer from La Porte.  57 year old Lt. Gene Lasco was fatally stabbed by an inmate.  He was laid to rest this week.

 

State Senator Mike Bohacek of Michiana Shores created the GoFundMe page.  He said the money raised will help the family cover funeral and other related costs.

Close to $4,000 in donations were pledged on the page this morning.  The goal is $10,000.  "I encourage those who are able to consider donating to the GoFundMe,” Bohacek said.

 

Prison officials said Lasco ran over to help another correctional officer being attacked by an inmate when the same inmate stabbed him multiple times at Indiana State Prison.  The other stabbed officer, Padrick Schmitt, 22, of Lake Station was admitted to the hospital in serious condition.

 

There are calls for the death penalty for Tymetri Campbell, a convicted triple murder from the Indianapolis area. 

Local Farmer is Tomato Grower of Year

(Elwood, IN) - His love for raising hogs while growing up has blossomed into raising blue ribbon tomatoes in La Porte County for a major commercial brand.  Galen Birky is this year’s winner of the E.A. Reichart Quality Achievement Award, the highest honor presented by Red Gold, Inc. based in Elwood, Indiana.

 

The award recognizes Birky as Red Gold’s Tomato Grower of the Year based, in part, on the volume and quality of his 2020 crop.  He was also deemed one of six master growers by Red Gold, the largest privately owned tomato processor in the nation from 42 contracted growers in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio.

 

Birky said he knew his 40 ton per acre crop was excellent but his selection came as a total surprise.  “I was extremely happy.  Extremely happy and very honored,” he said.

 

Red Gold brand products like ketchup and varieties of canned tomatoes are offered in all 50 states and over 55 other countries.

 

Birky Farms raises about 200 acres of tomatoes in the northwest part of the state near Wanatah, LaCrosse and Kouts.  Last year, production at Birky Farms equaled close to 13 million cans of whole, diced, stewed and other specialty tomato products, Red Gold officials said.  The other 1,800 acres at Birky Farms are used for producing commercial corn, soybeans and seed corn.

 

Birky, 49, said there’s nothing in his bag of tricks for raising high quality tomatoes aside from the usual hard work, paying attention to detail and staying on top of the crop until harvest.  He also crosses his fingers for cooperation from Mother Nature, the most important factor in all of farming.  “There are no secrets.  It’s a lot of luck,” Birky said.

 

Birky said he started growing tomatoes in 2001 to expand the farm and diversify the operation after given the opportunity to become a contract supplier for Red Gold.

Lid Placed on Alleged X-rated Showman

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man was arrested for allegedly putting on a Peep show.  40-year old Robert Pratt, Jr. is charged with indecent exposure following his arrest Wednesday evening at 905 Linwood Avenue.

 

According to police, a 65-year old woman across the street saw the man inside the home

Tuesday evening.  He was allegedly standing naked at an uncovered window fondling himself.  Police said the same woman the next evening saw the man at the uncovered window engaged in the same type of lewd conduct.

 

Police said officers went inside the home and found Pratt laying underneath a bathtub.  According to police, despite wearing handcuffs, Pratt was not discouraged from watching pornography on his phone from the back seat of a squad car while being transported to the La Porte County Jail.

 

Pratt is also being held on outstanding warrants for indecent exposure and dealing drugs, police said.

Rural King Nears Grand Opening

(La Porte, IN) - The countdown is on for what’s expected to trigger a rebirth on the west side

of La Porte.  The grand opening for Rural King is scheduled March 27.  The retail giant with more than 100 stores, primarily in the midwest and southeast, is going into the old Kmart section of the Maple Lane Mall. 

 

Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, said the improvements Rural King has already made to the site have made a huge difference.  "They've done great work on the shopping center, on the parking lot and just really making significant improvements to the Maple Lane Mall.  I think it's going to be a great day.  We're excited about it and I talked to a lot of people who are excited about it. It'll be great to get to that grand opening and to see them serving our community long into the future," he said.

 

Cook also said La Porte being both a city and surrounded by a lot of farmland is situated perfectly for Rural King to succeed.  "You've got the urban and the rural kind of mixed together and I think that makes for a very attractive market for Rural King," he said.

 

Cook said the location is also like a Gateway for places like Union Mills, Wanatah and LaCrosse south of La Porte where farms dominate the landscape.  The market should also extended out to the west, an area also heavy into farming without a Rural King nearby, he said.  Cook also said that working to La Porte's advantage is the closest Rural King is currently in Niles, Michigan.

 

The traffic Rural King is expected to bring should help lure stores to occupy the remaining space at the once thriving mall but now mostly dormant mall. 

Police Bagging More Criminals

(La Porte, IN) - A new line of attack by police is producing some early noticeable results in La Porte.  The LaPorte Police Department Street Crimes Unit, formed a month ago, consists of two Police Officers.

 

Chief Paul Brettin said the primary focus of SCU officers includes arresting major offenders like drug dealers.  Brettin said during its first month, the team put up impressive numbers despite the period of heavy snow and bitter cold.  “They've made 11 felony arrests. One misdemeanor.  Recovered a stolen vehicle.  Requested three warrants and assisted other agencies 18 times.   They've taken a multitude of methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine off the streets and prescription pills," he said.

 

Brettin said SCU has also been assigned the task of solving the recent slashings of 40 tires on vehicles in the area of the Civic Auditorium.  Mayor Tom Dermody again warned whoever was responsible they will be caught.  "We are going to catch you.  We're coming," he said.

Even More of a Hog Heaven for La Porte Native

(Indianapolis, IN) - Her life on a hog farm became even more heavenly from being recognized for her dedicated efforts to the industry.  Heather Hill, who grew up in La Porte County, is this year’s recipient of the Producer Meritorious Service Award from Indiana Pork.  “It’s very humbling to be recognized by my fellow producers for such a prestigious honor,” she said.

 

Hill, 43, didn’t grew up on a farm but her childhood home on two acres was used to raise a handful of pigs, sheep and rabbits.  Her mother, Anna, grew up on hog farm.  She encouraged her children to enroll in 4-H and care for the animals they showed during the LaPorte County Fair.  “My parents made sure that agriculture was important to my siblings and I and it really became a passion of mine,” Hill said.

 

The former Heather Eskridge, after graduating from La Porte High School, was pursuing her animal sciences degree at Purdue University when she met her future husband, Marc, a fourth generation hog farmer.  The couple along with his parents, Steve and Debbie, operate a 600 head farrow to finish hog farm near Greenfield east of Indianapolis.

 

Hill, actively involved with Indiana Pork since 2009, was president of the organization for two-years.  For the past four-years, she’s been a member of the National Pork Board and continues to serve the Board of Directors for Indiana Pork in an advisory role.  Hill is also a leader with the Hancock County branch of 4-H and serves on the National Future Farmers of America Career Development Sales Committee.

 

A vast majority of the pigs on her farm are sold to Tyson for processing at its plant in Logansport.  The rest are used for meat she and her mother in-law offer under their private label “The Pork Shop” at farmers markets and a local orchard.

 

Hill said her motivation to get involved is from a desire to make sure the livestock industry continues to be healthy for current and future producers.  One way of doing that is educating people the livestock industry is a responsible care taker of its animals and the environment.

 

The Hill’s have three children ages 11 to 18.  “We don’t know if they want to be involved in the industry or not but my husband and I feel very strongly that we need to be involved today to be their voice so they have the opportunity to be involved in the future if they so choose,” she said.

Sparks Over Scolding of Police Chief

(Michigan City, IN) - Some Michigan City officials are upset about what they described as a public scolding of the Police Chief.

 

Recently, a written request for donations was mailed to residents in their water bills by

Police Chief Dion Campbell.  In response, Mayor Duane Parry put out a press release.

 

He took strong exception to the letter feeling the chief was begging for money when it’s the job of elected officials to provide for the needs of the community with tax dollars.

 

At this week’s City Council meeting, Councilman Bryant Dabney said the police department soliciting for funds happens every year and the dollars are used for good causes like “Shop With a Cop” and the annual Easter Egg Hunt.  “Why are we jumping Chief Campbell over this,” he said.

 

Parry said there’s money already in the police department budget to pay for the causes.  “They have more than sufficient money in those funds for all of these expenses,” he said.

 

Parry said the chief also sent out the fund solicitation letter without seeking his approval and he has nothing against Campbell, giving his job performance  high marks.

Better Access to WiFi for La Porte Students

(La Porte, IN) - All La Porte Community School Corporation students without good internet service at home now have better access to Wi-Fi.

 

WiFi is available outside all schools in the La Porte School Corporation.  For example, the student parking lot at La Porte High School was recently connected and passed the test for reception.  Students can go to these hotspot sites to complete homework if they lack adequate service at home.

 

Superintendent Mark Francesconi said students have been informed exactly where to go outside the school buildings to access the WiFi signal.  The signal on the inside is now able to penetrate outside the buildings.    "There is a specific transmitter that is installed close to the locations where this is getting projected out and it connects into our current system on the inside and then basically increases the intensity of the signal so they can reach through the walls and outside," he said.

 

The WiFi was made possible by a grant to the school corporation from the city using a percentage of federal dollars received for needs in the community, officials said.   Francesconi said only students with school issued laptops with passwords can tap into the expanded WiFi coverage areas.  

 

50 and Over Now Eligible for Vaccine

(La Porte County, IN) - COVID-19 vaccinations in Indiana seem to be moving at lightning speed now.  Hoosiers 50 and over can now make appointments to be vaccinated.  Just last week, the 55 and over age group was added in Indiana.

 

According to the La Porte County Health Department, people along with medical personnel and first responders can go to Healthlinc at 400 Teegarden St. in La Porte to receive the vaccine.

 

Other vaccination locations include Kroger and area Meijer stores, where you can sign up by texting "COVID" to 75049 or by visiting clinic.meijer.com.

Friedman Answers to Puppeteer Claims

(La Porte, IN) - The attorney for La Porte County government has responded to what he denounces are false allegations that he’s running the show or has influence on decisions made by public officials.

 

At today’s La Porte County Commissioners meeting, Attorney Shaw Friedman was asked by the commissioners to give a report on the work of his firm on behalf of county government.  Friedman started out by saying he operates strictly at the direction of the commissioners and it’s the commissioners who are the head coach of the team.  “Everything we do is at the direction and request of the elected officials.  You all are the quarterbacks of the team.  I’m one of the wide receivers on the team.  Our success is your success,” he said.

 

Friedman went on to say there are other wide receivers along with running backs on the team trying to score for the county and the team is owned by the taxpayers.  Friedman said his many successes on behalf of county government last year included opening legal doors for expansion of rail service at Kingsbury Industrial Park and working closely with higher levels of government to obtain $3.6 million in COVID-19 relief dollars.

 

His report was given nearly a month after Friedman filed a lawsuit against newly elected La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz.  Friedman is seeking unspecified damages alleging defamation of character against Stabosz.

 

Stabosz, among other things, has alleged Friedman for a long time has had control or influence on the happenings of county government.   One reason Stabosz alleged is Friedman benefits financially from the work his law firm does for county  government.  Similar questions have also been raised by newly elected La Porte County Commissioner Joe Haney.

 

In his report, Friedman noted the cost to taxpayers for the legal work of his firm in 2020 was just over $290,000 or more than $80,000 less than what was charged in 2018 by the previous county attorney.

 

Friedman also said the county realized even more savings from the $220,000 charged in 2019 for the legal work of his firm compared to the previous year’s bill by his predecessor.

Police Arrest High Octane Driver

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police arrested a driver for allegedly traveling at close to 100 miles per hour while impaired.  Brett Bucher, 31, of Kouts was clocked Tuesday evening at 96 mph on U.S 421 near 1800 South, police said.

 

During a traffic stop, Deputy Slawek Czupryna observed a partially consumed bottle of alcohol and open case of beer inside the vehicle.  The arrest was made during an investigation triggered by suspicions that Bucher was impaired by alcohol, police said.  He was charged with operating while intoxicated.

 

Four hours earlier, another alleged fast moving driver was pulled over by La Porte County Police Officer Derek Deck.  Tama Riley, 62, of New Carlisle was clocked at 102 mph on Indiana 2 near Rolling Prairie.  She was ticketed for speeding and given a summons to appear in court on a charge of reckless driving, police said.

 

La Porte County Police and other law enforcement agencies in the state have extra patrols on the roads presently to discourage intoxicated and aggressive driving.  Anyone driving at least 20 mph over the posted speed limit may be charged with reckless driving and traveling above 90 mph in any location can result in an arrest, police said.

Retirements at Sheriff's Office

(La Porte, IN) - Two longtime members of the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office have retired.

 

According to the sheriff's office, Mark Lachmund worked in the jail before promoted to patrol officer and later detective.  Lachmund later returned to the jail then worked in the civil division until Monday after a nearly 40 year career.

 

Clayton Jordan started as a patrol deputy in 1973 and later was commander of the jail, according to the sheriff's office.  Jordan also worked in the civil division until his last day on Monday.

Movie about La Porte's Infamous Serial Killer

(La Porte, IN) - A movie is going to be filmed in the City of La Porte.  The film is about serial killer Belle Gunness, who murdered a number of men in La Porte over a century ago.

 

Michael Bernacchi, a representative from the production company, said part of the filming will be done on Crescent Drive near the Kesling School campus.  He asked that stretch of road be closed to limit noise during yesterday’s Board of Public Works and Safety meeting.  His request to close the street for two or three days beginning April 27 was approved.

 

His grandfather was Angelo Bernacchi, the founder of Angelo Bernacchi Greenhouses in La Porte.  Bernacchi said his grandfather used to sell produce to Belle Gunness in the early 1900’s.

 

He said the movie is part fiction about his grandfather and Belle Gunness falling in love with

each other.  “So what I did is I fabricated a love story between Belle Gunness,  Belle Gunness’ foster daughter who happens to have the name Jenny Olson, and my grandfather.  So, there's a romantic subplot that kind of drives the whole storyline forward.  It's a whole different approach to the subject matter of Belle Gunness.  It’s been tried so many times before but it's the romantic subplot that really, really drives this story ahead,” he said.

 

Playing Belle Gunness in the movie is Tracy Lords.  She shot to fame as an actress in adult movies and later starred in mainstream films.

Michigan City Woman Arrested in Traffic Stop

(Hammond, IN) - A Michigan City woman was clocked at nearly twice the speed limit.  But, she could go to prison for allegedly doing things like driving drunk and kicking the arresting officers.

 

According to state police, 35 year old Jasmine Gorman was clocked at 101 miles per hour on Interstate 94 in Lake County early yesterday.  Police say it took about two miles for her to pull over despite the lights and siren on the police vehicle being activated.  After failing a sobriety test, police say she kicked the officer and a squad car then struck a second trooper who showed up to assist. 

 

Eventually, she was handcuffed and hauled to the Lake County Jail where she's facing charges like two felony counts of battery to a police officer.

Woman Charged in Stabbing

(La Porte County, IN) - A woman is charged with stabbing a man multiple times outside Michigan City.  29-year old McKenzie Logan was being held on $25,000 bond.

 

According to La Porte County Police, officers early Sunday were called to a home in the 6800 block of Bleck Road.  Randall Ungerank, 27, was outside the Coolspring Township residence covered in blood from multiple stab wounds to his upper body, police said.  He was taken to a hospital.  His condition was not revealed.

 

Logan is charged with level 3 felony aggravated battery along with two counts of level 5 felony battery. 

 

According to court documents, the man and woman lived together and apparently engaged in an argument prior to things becoming physical.

 

Police say Logan allegedly grabbed a knife from the bedroom and slashed her boyfriend

on the ear.

 

According to police, she then stabbed him in the stomach and other areas like the collar bone

and head.

 

Ungerank’s injuries also included a collapsed lung

 

The victim told police he consumed a fifth of vodka over 24 hours or so before the stabbing.

 

Police say Logan appeared to be under the influence of an unknown substance, possibly drugs.

Another Condemned Structure Comes Down

(La Porte, IN) - More demolition has occurred in the City of La Porte.  A dilapidated house at 603 Tipton Street is the most recent structure to come down in what’s been an aggressive stance taken by Mayor Tom Dermody against such properties since elected more than a year ago.

 

Code Enforcement Director Jeff Batchelor said the foundation there was caving in and other problems included electrical issues and the roof.  He said people were also breaking into the house to do things like get out of the cold, vandalize and party.

 

Officials said the city has spent a great deal of the $300,000 in federal dollars set aside for the effort but another $150,000 from Uncle Sam is expected to continue demolition in the coming months.

 

At today’s Board of Public Works meeting, Dermody said full efforts are made to find new homes for people before demolition occurs at properties still being lived in and gave credit to Batchelor for making sure people aren’t thrown on the streets.  “I just think that’s important to know.  The first thing you’re doing in going above and beyond is to find alternative housing and many times you’re working harder than the individual", Dermody stated.

 

In most cases, Dermody said the homes are vacant.  In other cases, a favor is being done by getting people out of inhumane conditions.  Batchelor also reported about 700 code enforcement violations have been given out, so far, this year.

Vaccine Available for Hoosiers 55 and Over

(Indianapolis, IN) - Hoosiers 55 and over can now be vaccinated against COVID-19.

 

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, appointments by people 55 to 59 can be made at the 400 or so vaccination clinics across the state online at ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211.

 

Vaccines became available to Indiana residents 60 to 64 last week.  ISDH officials said vaccinations could open even sooner to people younger than 55 now that Johnson & Johnson recently approved a vaccine that requires just one dose and no refrigeration.

U.S. 30 Reopens After Fuel Leak Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - Motorists are traveling U.S. 30 again here in La Porte County.  According to La Porte County Police, one lane in each direction reopened several hours after a collision between two semi- trucks.

 

About 7,000 gallons of the 9,100 gallons of fuel inside a ruptured tanker leaked out when the

tanker was rear ended by a tractor trailer at a railroad crossing near Thompson St., authorities said.  La Porte County Haz-Mat Director Jeff Hamilton said wells in the areas will be tested over

the next several days to determine if any of the fuel leached into the groundwater.

 

Police reported two minor injuries from the crash which occurred about 7:30 a.m.

St. Patrick's Day Parade Cancelled by Coronavirus

(Michigan City, IN) - The luck of the Irish has apparently run out in Michigan City.  Officials have announced no St. Patrick’s Day parade will be held this year.  COVID-19 was cited as the reason.

 

Despite declining cases, officials said current state and local regulations would make

it impossible to host an event that has the same high standards people have come to expect

from the always heavily attended St. Patrick’s Day parade.  There's also no reason to risk the health and safety of the community, officials said.

 

The St. Patrick’s Day parade on Franklin Street was slated for March 13.

The SOUND OFF Podcast - American Rescue Plan Act

(LAPORTE, IN) -- In this SOUND OFF episode, Nate Loucks explains the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and gets the listener's opinions about the recently approved US House bill. Also, an update of the LEGISLATORS WEEK IN REVIEW!

 

 

SHOW NOTES:

  • Read the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 here.

  • New York Business Leaders Join National Support for Biden Stimulus Package - link.

  • Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in the relief package - link.

  • 60% of Republicans Support Biden's $1.9 Trillion Stimulus: Poll - link.

  • Introduction to Budget “Reconciliation” - link.

CREDITS: Dennis Siddall (Producer), Jeff Wuggazer (Editor), Nate Loucks (Host)

 

SOUND OFF is a community conversation show that airs every Monday and Friday on 96.7 the Eagle in LaPorte County, Indiana. SOUND OFF is a Spoon River Media production.

 

 

Murdered Correctional Officer Laid to Rest

(Michigan City, IN) - A correctional officer fatally stabbed by an inmate at Indiana State Prison was laid to rest Monday.  Lt. Gene Lasco, 57, of LaPorte was hailed for running over to help another prison guard who was being stabbed by the same offender on February 21.

 

Retired LaPorte County Police Sgt. Mike Kellems said he’s certain Lasco is being rewarded for paying the ultimate sacrifice.  “The Bible actually says greater love have no man than one who would give his life for a friend.  That’s exactly what Lt. Lasco did,” Kellems said.

 

Services for Lasco were Saturday and Sunday at the Orak Shrine in Michigan City.  His body was taken in a procession Monday from Root Funeral Home in Michigan City for burial in Decatur, Illinois.

 

Tymetri Campbell, serving a 130-year sentence for a triple murder in Indianapolis, is expected to face murder and other charges.  Lasco was stabbed multiple times while assisting Sgt. Patrick Schmidt who being attacked by Campbell, prison officials said.  Schmitt, 22, of Lake Station was last reported still hospitalized in serious condition.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Correction, Lasco began his career as a correctional officer in 2009 at the prison on Michigan City’s west side.  Kellems said Lasco was nothing short of a hero for his actions in a line of work that unfortunately doesn’t receive the same level of recognition as a police officer despite the extreme danger.  “They’re among the lowest paid in the law enforcement circle and they have a very, very difficult job,” he said.

 

Kellems, as a member of “Cops Cycling for Survivors”, greeted Lasco’s wife during Saturday’s heavily attended visitation.  He informed her the group’s annual fund raiser by officers and supporters of law enforcement, which involves riding bicycles throughout Indiana, will be dedicated to her late husband in 2022.  Kellems also gave her a donation from the organization, which provides financial assistance to families of fallen police officers.  “He will be honored during our ride next year.  His photograph will be on the side of our support truck. He’ll be the main focal point of our ride in 2022,” he said.

 

State Senator Mike Bohacek of Michiana Shores has also created a GoFundMe Page to help support the Lasco family.

 

First Loss of Season for Bison

(New Buffalo, MI) - The New Buffalo High School boys’ basketball team suffered their first loss of the season at home against Bridgman.  The Bison (6-1) remained within striking distance for much of the game Saturday before losing 64 to 52 in the Berrien Cass St. Joseph Conference match.

 

Head Coach Nate Tripp said he believes his players didn’t quite have the energy level needed against a solid Bees squad because of a hard fought 84 to 71 win the previous night at Eau Claire.  “We didn’t have that effort. I don’t think it’s because our players didn’t want to give the effort.  I just don’t think they had it left in their tank,” he said.

 

Ten of the buckets from Bridgman were from beyond the three point line.  The Bison scoring heavily from beyond the three point arc in their previous games made just three of their three point shot attempts.

 

A turning point in the game came with about four minutes left in the second quarter.  A one-point lead for the Bees quickly turned into a seven deficit for the Bison after a bucket off a steal followed by a three point shot and free-throw resulting from a technical foul called against New Buffalo.

 

New Buffalo trailing by five points at halftime and 11 points after the third quarter never pulled to within single digits in the final period.

U.S. 30 to be Closed by Crash for Extended Period

(La Porte County, IN) - A stretch of U.S 30 in LaPorte County was closed in both directions after a tanker truck hauling gasoline was rear ended by a tractor trailer this morning.  The accident happened about 7:30 a.m. CST near Hanna.

 

LaPorte County Haz-Mat Director Jeff Hamilton said the tanker, after stopping for a railroad crossing, was struck in the rear by the semi pulling a box trailer.  Hamilton estimated 7,000 gallons of the 9,100 gallons of gasoline leaked on the ground from the ruptured tanker.

 

He said the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the United States Environmental Protection Agency was responding to the scene because of the size of the leak.  “We’re just trying to get it cleaned up right now,” he said.

 

La Porte County Police Capt. Derek Allen said two people suffered what he described as minor injuries. 

 

Hamilton said the gasoline containing no additives is commonly used in chain saws and other equipment running on four cycle engines.

U.S. 30 was closed from U.S 421 to Indiana 39.

 

Hamilton said IDEM will test wells in the area over the next several days “to make sure there’s no impact into the drinking water out here.”

 

At the time of the incident, no train was present  at the crossing.  Hamilton said semis carrying hazardous materials must stop at crossings whether there’s a train or not.  “He was doing what he was supposed to be do and was getting ready to take off when the other semi hit him.  Rear ended him really,” he said.   

 

Hamilton said the highway will be closed for least the remainder of the day because of the work involved in cleaning up the site. 

Tanker Leaking After U.S 30 Crash This Morning

(La Porte County, IN) - Emergency responders were called Monday morning to a crash involving two semi-trucks in La Porte County.  The accident occurred about 7:30 a.m. on U.S 30 near Hanna.

 

Police said a tanker truck involved in the crash was leaking fuel.  Firefighters from Hanna Township and other agencies like the La Porte County Hazardous Materials Unit were called to the scene.

 

Police said two people sustained minor injuries.   La Porte County Police Capt. Derek Allen said the eastbound lanes of U.S 30 are closed at U.S 421 and the westbound lanes are closed at Indiana 39. 

 

We’ll provide more details once they become available.

Rash of Tire Slashings Under Investigation

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Police are investigating a number of tires on vehicles being slashed over the weekend.  The tires were cut in areas like John and Ohio streets and near the Civic Auditorium.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody is asking the public, especially residents with any video from home surveillance systems, to help police develop leads in the case.

 

“This is unacceptable in the City of La Porte and we will catch them.  We've got some ideas already.  We've got a few videos and we will get this taken care of because, again, this is unacceptable and we'll catch them,” he said.

 

Apparently, the tires were slashed Saturday night and/or early Sunday.

Help Sought from Public in Shooting

(Michigan City, IN) - The shooting of a teenager in Michigan City is still under investigation.  Police say a 19 year old Michigan City resident was shot in a vehicle hit by a half dozen bullets Tuesday night in the area of 10th and Elston streets.  According to police, the gunshot wound was non-life threatening.

 

Police say another 19 year old was treated for non-life threatening injuries related to the shooting.  So far, no arrests have been reported, but the case remains under investigation, police said.

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police.

 

 

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