Local News Archives for 2021-05

Small Town with Big Gratitude for Fallen Heroes

(New Carlisle, IN) - Memorial Day ceremonies across the area commemorated the ultimate sacrifice made by brave men and women in the defense of liberty.

 

In New Carlisle a parade through town culminated in a gathering at the cemetery. The procession included a riderless horse, bagpipes, color guard, and dozens of silent onlookers. Wreaths were placed at a Civil War monument.  Before a 21-gun salute concluded the observance, these words from the American Legion Commander rang throughout the cemetery:

 

“Comrades, this day is sacred with the almost visible presence of those who have gone before us.  We honor the memory of those who gave their lives in the service of our country, and of those others who have dropped their burdens by the wayside of life, and are gone to their eternal rest.  May the ceremonies of today deepen your reverence for our departed friends and comrades.  Let us renew our pledge of loyalty to our Country and its Flag.  Let us resolve by word and deed to emphasize the privilege and duty of patriotism.”

 

As quietly as they had gathered, the crowd dispersed, off to enjoy the freedoms won for them by the veterans they honored.

 

 

Local Football Team Honors Veterans

(New Carlisle, IN) - A local football team has found a way to connect with real-life warriors of the past.  Recently, about forty New Prairie High School football players gathered at the cemetery in New Carlisle.  They fanned out and placed flags at the graves of all the veterans.  Some of the graves date back to the Civil War.

 

Head coach Casey McKim says it’s the least his players can do for the community that supports them. "Anytime you get to help the community, serve the community," he said, "it's a great opportunity for our young men to be leaders and to really serve other people.  One of the things is that we get support every week, every game, and for them to come and support their community, I think it's a big thing, and it's really important to learn those lessons."

 

Placing the flags used to be the task of area American Legion members. A couple of years ago, New Prairie coach Bill Gumm suggested it might be a better job for his players.  That was a welcome idea to Larry Brown, Commander of American Legion Post 297 in New Carlisle. "It's great," he said, "It gives them a sense of what this is all about, honoring the veterans that served their community."

 

A Memorial Day parade Monday morning ended in the cemetery, where a ceremony was held amid the many graves decorated by the players.

County Park Scheduled for Upgrades

(Westville, IN) - Bluhm County Park in Westville will soon get a makeover, thanks to some local funding.  A $250,000 grant for the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte will pay for a new handicapped-accessible playground.

 

The parking lot there will be paved courtesy of the La Porte County Council and Commissioners, who approved $70,000 for the job.  And the La Porte County Park Foundation will chip in over $50,000 to install a new restroom with running water and septic.

 

The improvements are scheduled to be done before the end of the year.

Memorial Day Events Happening Throughout the Area

(La Porte County, IN) - There is no shortage of Memorial Day commemorations in the area today. Here is a rundown of what’s going on where:

 

La Porte’s main ceremony will begin at 10:30 this morning at the amphitheater in Fox Park. It will feature the LaPorte City Band and remarks from Mayor Tom Dermody, among others.

Later in the day, LaPorte musician Chuck Steck will play “Taps” at 3 p.m. at Soldiers Memorial Park, near the park department building.

 

Michigan City will be hosting various 21-gun salutes and other ceremonies at various locations throughout the day. Click the link here for details.

 

Four different services will take place in Westville between 9:00 and 11:00 this morning.

 

East of LaPorte, New Carlisle will hold a Memorial Day parade through the downtown followed by a cemetery ceremony starting at 9:00 Central time. Rolling Prairie will do something similar starting at 11:00.

 

Down in Knox, they’re doing something unique. There’s a 24-hour vigil in front of the VFW Post there. Volunteers are taking 30-minute shifts, to stand watch in honor of fallen heroes.

New Prairie Takes Health Safety to Heart

(New Carlisle, IN) - A La Porte County School has become the first Heart Safe certified school in Indiana.  New Prairie High School achieved the distinction this week after running a Sudden Cardiac Arrest drill.  Wisconsin-based Project ADAM issues the certification based on a fourteen-point checklist of medical emergency precautions.

 

According to New Prairie Biomedical Science Teacher Tonya Aerts, this week’s drill was the culmination of two years' worth of planning and training, particularly with her Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) group. Students and staff had been trained on what to do in the case of a sudden cardiac emergency. Paramedics were on call to make the simulation more realistic. "Our drill took, from the moment the student collapsed to the moment the EMS was inside with the gurney, four and a half minutes," she said, "and the defibrillator was on the student who collapsed within a minute."

 

Aerts was pleasantly surprised how students rose to the occasion. "I thought that staff would get there first and then take over," she said, "but it was actually two of the girls that were just walking by that jumped in and took over, and the students totally ran the show."

 

Aerts said New Prairie has nine AED emergency units— five inside the school and four outside for athletics. She’s now working on getting other school buildings in the district equipped and certified.

 

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is the leading cause of deaths among high school athletes in America.

Aerts said her school’s efforts this week were, in part, a tribute to Mark Mayfield, a New Prairie senior who died of a heart attack in a school hallway back in 2017. Mayfield's mother was on hand at this week's drill, along with Julie West and Teresa Mago, who have also lost teenage sons to sudden cardiac arrest.

 

Aerts and her HOSA group are working closely with the Play for Jake Foundation and the Zack Mago Foundation to increase awareness and provide life-saving equipment, training, and proper heart screening in the area. For more information on heart safety initiatives and opportunities, check out the links below.

 

New Prairie HOSA

Play for Jake Foundation

Zach Mago Foundation

Project ADAM

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation

La Lumiere Joins National Basketball Conference

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County’s national basketball powerhouse will be competing in a new conference.  La Lumiere has joined the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference.  Currently, the NIBC has eight teams, including some of the best basketball programs in the country.

 

The conference schedule will include ten games, some of which will take place at La Lumiere’s home gym. That means even more high-level high school basketball action will be coming to La Porte County.

 

The Lakers will continue to schedule schools closer to home as well as tournaments.

Massive Solar Farm Proposed for the Area

(St. Joseph County) - A massive solar farm is being proposed northeast of La Porte.  Plans for an array of 365,000 solar panels outside of New Carlisle are starting to come to light.

 

The solar energy complex would be situated on up to 1,900 acres north of US 20 and the growing industrial zone there.  If completed, it would be the largest solar farm in the state.  The $164 million project could produce 150 megawatts per year, or enough to power 25,000 homes.

 

The company proposing the project says it could be up and running in less than two years. St. Joseph County officials have yet to formally approve the plan.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Mayor Tom Dermody

(LAPORTE, IN) -- On the show today was the Mayor of LaPorte, Indiana, Tom Dermody. The conversation included these topics:

 

  • Housing-related issues in LaPorte

  • The North/South Corridor

  • Code enforcement

  • Sidewalks downtown

  • ...and more.

Listen to the full episode below: 

 

 

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

Proposed Fertilizer Plant Jumps Hurdle

(La Porte, IN) - Preliminary approval has been granted for Kingsbury Elevator to operate a nitrogen fertilizer plant which has drawn a great deal of public concern.

           

The LaPorte County Plan Commission on May 25 approved a request to rezone the site from business to heavy industry.

           

The LaPorte County Commissioners must uphold the decision for the zoning change to become official.

           

A special exception to the zoning change would have to be obtained from the LaPorte County Board of Zoning Appeals for the fertilizer plant to begin operating.

           

Approval by the Plan Commission was granted despite the proposed facility with two 45,000 gallon tanks already receiving and storing fertilizer in the form of anhydrous ammonia.

           

Plan Commission member Rita Beaty reported a storage tank at the proposed facility was being filled from a semi-truck on May 21 and again three days later.

           

Anthony Novak, the attorney for Kingsbury Elevator, said the anhydrous ammonia was ordered in December because final approval for the plant was expected to be received in March.

           

He said the rail shipment was heading this way, though, after snags delaying the timeline for approval developed and the fertilizer after delivery was stored in the tanks.

             

Novak said he wasn’t informed about the fertilizer until just before the plan commission meeting and informed his clients not to order any more of the chemical to avoid the risk of not receiving full approval.

 

"I can’t get around the fact that it was done.  I have told them to stop,” he said.

 

Beaty still wasn’t too happy, though, saying it wasn’t the first time for the plan commission to be leap frogged.

 

“I guess I just have an issue with going ahead and asking for forgiveness later.  As many years as I’ve been here, that’s become an issue now and then,” she said.

 

Ed Lindborg, the owner of Kingsbury Elevator, said fertilizer had to be there to ensure safety requirements in areas like handling and equipment were met effectively.

 

“Some of the activity going on over there is for training and testing. It’s kind of hard to do if there’s no product there,” he said.

 

Novak said the change in zoning conforms with the surrounding industrial use at the over 600 acre park.

 

He also said the proposal meets the distance requirements outlined for ammonia used in agriculture.

 

Novak said the tanks are more than 1,000 feet from the former Cheers banquet hall and the nearest church and over 400 feet from the closest residence.

 

Lindborg plans to receive nitrogen fertilizer on Canadian National rail cars from production facilities in Mississippi, Iowa and Canada and store it until the chemical is ready for delivery on semi-trucks to retailers in northern Indiana and southern Michigan.

 

Local farmers could also go directly to the elevator to purchase fertilizer.

 

Anydrous ammonia, a liquid when stored under pressure, reverts back to a gas and forms a vapor cloud when released into the air.

 

Bill Field, a farm safety expert at Purdue University, said the gas is not typically explosive during a leak because of how fast it quickly dissipates in the air.

 

The greatest danger from a leak is exposure to the vapors which can produce severe and deadly burns to the skin, eyes and lungs, he said.

 

Field said powerful explosions are more likely from impact by a motor vehicle or during a derailment.

 

The liquid from impact expands and if the tanks are overfilled the pressure builds inside the containers until they explode, he said.

 

Because of the risks, LaPorte County Building Commissioner Michael Polan suggested a commitment in writing from Kingsbury Elevator that local firefighters will be regularly trained in responding to any emergencies.

 

He said that would help avoid the possibility of firefighters not knowing how to respond because of turnover.

 

“This particular petition has generated a lot of interest from the public and my office has been receiving the calls and e-mails.  There appears to be no explosive risk which was a concern in some of the calls but there is an airborne danger if there were any leaks,” Polan said.

 

Novak said all of the necessary approvals from the state have been obtained and hopes to receive the permissions needed locally next month.

Robbery Report Leads to Quick Police Response

(La Porte, IN) - There was a report of a robbery in La Porte late this morning.

 

About 11:30 a.m., officers were called to Ollie’s Bargain Outlet on a report of a robbery.

 

According to police, two suspects were last seen in a yellow Ford pick-up truck northbound on

Pine Lake Ave.

 

A witness also jotted down the license plate number on the vehicle, which came back to an address in South Bend, police said.

 

Officers were scouring the area looking for the suspected vehicle when it was spotted in the area of Indiana 2 and 700 East.

 

Police said the vehicle turned on 700 East then it was stopped.

 

An officer with that vehicle was waiting for back-up before proceeding toward the vehicle which,

at one point, seemed as if it was going to try and head in the opposite direction.

 

Police said no weapon was displayed in the incident at the store.

 

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

First Ever LakeFest Announced

(La Porte, IN) - LakeFest featuring music, art, food and other family fun opportunities is scheduled

July 30 through August 1 on Stone, Pine and Clear lakes.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said the event is a perfect opportunity to showcase the city’s lakes and natural resources and illustrate to people from outside La Porte what it means to be “Livin’ the Lake Life” here.

 

Livin’ the Lake Life is new theme for the city relying more on its natural resources to generate

economic development.

 

"With our recent rebranding, the timing could not be more perfect to highlight what makes our

community special,” Dermody said.

 

AquaX Jet Ski races will also take place Saturday and Sunday.

 

Fireworks are also part of the festivities.

 

For more information, visit laportelakefest.com.

Arson Damage to Footbridge Repaired

(La Porte, IN) - A foot bridge damaged by fire in LaPorte has been repaired.

 

Officials say the La Porte High School building trades students replaced the charred planks.

 

The foot bridge is over the channel between Stone and Pine Lakes.

 

Officials say sticks were placed where people step onto the bridge and set on fire over the weekend.

 

Several of the planks were burned completely through.

 

So far, police have reported no suspects.

Highest Memorial Day Gas Prices in Years

(La Porte County, IN) - Memorial Day travelers will feel the pinch in their pocketbooks.

 

Gasoline prices are the highest for the holiday weekend since 2014.

 

Many stations in La Porte this morning are charging anywhere from $3.17 to $3.19 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.com

 

The Speedway and Marathon stations on E. Lincolnway were at $2.99 a gallon this morning, according to GasBuddy.com.

 

GasBuddy.com also revealed no stations in Michigan City were below $3.00 a gallon while the lowest gas prices in the area was at Knoll Brothers in New Buffalo at $2.89 a gallon.

 

Experts say prices are expected to range around $3 and stay elevated through the summer.

Return to Normalcy on Fast Track

(La Porte, IN) - LaPorte County officials are wasting no time getting back to normal judging by many upcoming events like jetski racing already scheduled.

           

Jetski racing is booked twice for the summer in Michigan City and once in LaPorte.

           

The jetski racing on Stone Lake in LaPorte on July 31 and August 1 is just one of the things happening over a four day period during the inaugural Lake Fest.

           

Other events like the July 4th parade in LaPorte and Great Lakes Grand Prix in Michigan City cancelled last year by COVID-19 are returning.

 

Organizers feel comfortable about safety with people being vaccinated and restrictions like mask mandates throughout the nation being lifted or loosened.

 

“Our community is ready to get back to normal as much as normal can be,” said LaPorte Mayor Tom Dermody.

 

AquaX with headquarters in London, England and Apopka, Florida is bringing its jetski racers to LaPorte and for competitions at the lakefront in Michigan City on July 10-11 and August 7-8.

 

The races in August are part of the Great Lakes Grand Prix featuring two days of powerboat racing by drivers with Super Boat International out of Key West, Florida.

 

“We’re ramping up,” said Jack Arnett, Executive Director of the LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

 

In 2019, the 11th annual Great Lakes Grand Prix and four days of related events like a block party downtown topped 200,000 in attendance.

 

Arnett said turnout for all events and outdoor activities this summer could be at levels never seen because of people cooped up for so long eager to venture back into society.

 

However, he believes vaccination rates in the coming weeks will be a factor in the actual numbers.

 

“The chips are lining up where everybody is just going to want to enjoy the summer and enjoy feeling safe again,” Arnett said.

Patrols Beefing Up for Holiday Weekend

(La Porte, IN) - On any given day, more than 90 percent of motorists can be found wearing their seat belts. 

 

Unfortunately, the small percentage of people who choose not to buckle up make up a disproportionate amount of the fatalities that occur every year on Indiana roads.

 

It is a concern that the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office is working to address this spring by participating in the national Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign. 

 

Now until June 6, deputies will be out in greater numbers seeking to educate motorists about the importance of wearing a seat belt.

 

The high-visibility patrols are paid for with funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI).

 

“Part of our job as law enforcement is to educate and that includes reminding drivers and passengers that buckling up isn’t just a suggestion, it’s the law,” said Captain Derek J. Allen.  “If these extra patrols wake people up to the dangers of not wearing a seat belt, we’ll consider our mission a success.”

 

Between 2015 and 2019, seat belts have saved more than 69,000 lives in the U.S., according to NHTSA.

 

Despite knowing the benefits, people still refuse to buckle up, a choice that too often can end in tragedy.

 

Last year, more than 800 people were killed on Indiana roads, of which, 565 occurred in passenger vehicles. 

 

Sadly, 364 of those, or 6 out of 10, were not wearing seat belts.

 

Out of any age group, male drivers, particularly those between the ages of 15 and 34, were the most likely to be found not wearing a seat belt at the time of a crash. 

 

Additionally, individuals not wearing seat belts were three times more likely to get injured in a crash when the driver was speeding and seven times more likely when the driver was impaired.

 

“If the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that life is precious,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director.  “We expect more people will be venturing out and taking road trips this spring and wearing a seat belt is still the best way to keep you and your loved ones safe on the road.”

 

Deputies will be writing citations and conducting high-visibility patrols during the day but especially at night, when unrestrained driving is at its peak (midnight to 4:00 AM).  

 

Under Indiana’s primary seat belt law, officers can stop and cite drivers and passengers just for failing to wear a seat belt.

 

Drivers can also be cited for each unbuckled passenger under the age of 16, and children under eight must be properly restrained in a federally approved child or booster seat.

 

Throughout the campaign, deputies will be taking a no-excuses approach to seat belt enforcement, which means anyone caught not wearing one will receive a citation.

 

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

Slicers Roll in Sectional Opener

)Plymouth, IN) - The Slicers have advanced to the semi-finals in the high school baseball sectionals.

 

La Porte defeated South Bend Riley last night 7 to 0.

 

That’s 12 victories in a row for the 23-6 Slicers.

 

Our very own voice of the Slicers, Chip Jones, believes the odds of a sectional title are in La Porte’s favor.

 

“Our pitching’s been good. We’ve been getting really good on defense. We had a little bit of a defensive slump the last couple of weeks but getting better and we’ve been moving the ball pretty well,” he said.

 

The Slicers play again at Plymouth on Saturday against Mishawaka, which defeated Plymouth last night.

 

A win Saturday would put them in the championship game on Monday against either South Bend Adams or Michigan City.

Inching Toward Herd Immunity

(La Porte County, IN) - There’s still a ways to go before La Porte County achieves herd immunity.

 

About 42-percent of the residents here have been fully vaccinated, said La Porte County Health Department Administrator Amanda Lahners.

 

Lahners said some people with doubts, initially, about the safety of the vaccine are now coming in for their shots.

 

There are others trickling in who just haven’t had time until now to get their vaccinations because of busy schedules. 

 

“Hopefully, we can get the ones sitting on the fence and pull them over the fence and get them vaccinated then we can get back to normal life,” she said.

 

Lahners said she’s optimistic LaPorte County will reach the 70-percent vaccination mark needed to achieve herd immunity at some point.

La Porte Now with Seat at U.S. 30 Table

(La Porte, IN) - LaPorte County is playing a more active role in shaping the possible reconstruction of U.S 30.

 

LaPorte County has joined the U.S. 30 coalition, which consists of counties along the corridor across much of northern Indiana.

 

The mission of the coalition is to have a greater say in how U.S 30 is redesigned if the Indiana

Department of Transportation decides to convert the highway into more of an interstate.

 

The idea is to minimize disruption to as many farmers and other property owners on both sides of the highway as possible.

 

LaPorte from a vote this week by the county county was the last county to join the coalition which has existed for several years.

 

“We basically don’t want to be the only county that doesn’t have a seat at the table.  We don’t want to be left out in having a voice,” said La Porte County Councilman Mike Mollenhauer.

 

The cost of being part of the coalition is $12,000 annually.

 

Converting U.S. 30 into an interstate type highway has been discussed for years to speed up travel now slowed down by traffic lights and improve safety because of collisions occurring at intersections.

 

Currently, INDOT is doing some preliminary analysis work before making a final decision on whether to go ahead with the reconstruction.

Body of Missing Woman Discovered

(Merrillville, IN) - Authorities are investigating the death of a Michigan City woman last seen during a high speed chase.

 

The body of 32 year old Steffani Sanders was found Tuesday in Merrillville.

 

According to police, she was reported missing by her family on March 15.

 

Her body was discovered after someone reported seeing an object in Deep River, police said.

 

An autopsy will determine cause of death.

 

Police said it’s believed Sanders was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a high speed pursuit two days prior to the filing of the missing person's report. 

 

The driver, Bobby Joe Holland, also of Michigan City, was arrested after jumping into the same river.

Bank Growing Beyond Horizon

(Michigan City, IN) - Horizon Bank is expanding again.

 

The financial institution has revealed it’s purchasing nearly a dozen TCF National Bank branches.

in the state of Michigan.

 

Currently, Horizon Bank operates 74 bank branches, including 14 in Michigan. 

 

Officials said the latest acquisition should go into effect before the end of September.

 

Horizon expects to add over 50,000 primarily retail and small business customer accounts and the entire workforce of the acquired branches.

 

The financial institution, which has grown considerably over the past two decades, was founded as a community bank in Michigan City.

 

 

Uncle Sam of La Porte Returns

A La Porte man seemingly with red white and blue in his veins has done it again.

 

500 flags are up in the downtown area to help with the patriotic spirit leading up to Independence Day,. 

 

Jim Roy, 61, has been doing this since 2002 at no cost to the city.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody sang his praises while looking at the flags yesterday and asked citizens to give him their thanks.

 

“It’s got to be 20-years he’s been doing this.  It makes LaPorte special,” he said.

 

Roy got involved in 2002 when the LaPorte Jaycees could no longer afford the cost of purchasing and maintaining the flags typically up by Memorial Day.

 

He was also inspired to keep the local tradition alive by the terrorist attacks occurring the previous year on U.S. soil.

 

Last year, Roy said he spent $7,500 for 700 nylon flags along with poles and other hardware like brackets needed to hang them on light posts along both sides of Indiana 2 and other streets including the U.S 35 overpass.

 

He doesn’t have to buy as many flags in some years depending on how well they held up the previous year.

 

Roy is not a veteran but his father, Michael, and one of his uncles served in World War II.

Rose Siblings Charged in Moped Fatality

(Monticello, IN) - Three La Porte County residents are charged in connection with a hit and run motor vehicle fatality that occurred more than two months ago roughly 60 miles from here.  Jay Rose is charged with Level 4 felony Leaving The Scene of a Vehicle Accident Causing Death.

His brother, Jared Rose, and their sister, Amanda Wallace, are each charged with Assisting a Criminal and Obstruction of Justice, both Level 6 felonies.  The charges were announced by the White County Sheriff’s Office in Monticello.

 

According to police, Rose was identified as the driver who struck and killed John Chomer on March 19 on Indiana 43.  Chomer was operating a moped, police said.  Police have not revealed what led investigators to the suspects or other specifics involving the case.

 

At the time of the crash, though, authorities released a photo of the suspected vehicle which was a white Chevrolet extended cab pick-up with no tailgate.

 

Jay Rose could face anywhere from a 2 to 12 year sentence.  The charges against his siblings each carry between a 6 month and 30 month sentence.

 

Their grandfather is the late Jan Rose, a former La Porte County Sheriff from 1979 to 1986.

City Hall Reopening to Public

(Michigan City, IN) - City Hall in Michigan City is opening back up to the public.

 

According to the mayor’s office, the building will be open starting on Tuesday.

 

Masks will have to be worn in common areas of City Hall and social distancing is recommended.

 

According to the mayor’s office, city council meetings will also be held in-person again in the council chambers at City Hall starting next month.

 

Masks will also be required during public meetings.

 

City Hall has been open by appointment only because of the pandemic easing up now because of people becoming vaccinated.

Slicers Take Winning Streak into Post Season

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte High School baseball team is going into the sectionals on a high note.  The Slicers won 22 and lost just 6 games.

 

Head Coach Scott Upp said he sees room for improvement in areas like consistency in all facets of the game.  Specifically, Upp said he wants to see the offense, defense and pitching all working extremely well at the same time.

 

Upp said the team hasn't really put all three facets of the game together consistently enough during the season.  “To be able to play your best defense, your best pitching, your best hitting. That’s the goal as you enter tournaments. We got a couple of practices Monday and Tuesday before the tournament starts on Wednesday so, hopefully, we’ll be able to tighten some things down,” he said.

 

The Slicers ended the regular season with a doubleheader sweep of Kankakee Valley on Saturday and take on South Bend Riley in the Class 4A sectional opener at Plymouth tonight.  Chip Jones and Steve Mannering will have play by play action of the game on 96.7 The Eagle this evening beginning at 6:15pm. 

Vaccination Clinic at Fairgrounds Relocating

(La Porte, IN) - The vaccination clinic at the LaPorte County fairgrounds is moving.  It’ll be in the main lobby of the former La Porte Hospital on Lincolnway.The new site will open on Friday.

  

Health Department officials say the clinic will continue to offer the Moderna vaccine to those 18 and over and the Pfizer vaccine to children ages 12 to 17.  The clinic is open every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m but will be closed on Monday for Memorial Day.

 

Officials say the clinic is moving to allow preparations to begin for this year’s La Porte County Fair.  The fair begins on July 10.

 

La Porte Growing Pains Complaints

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte is well on its way to having super high speed internet access in every part of the city but officials are fielding complaints along the way.  Trenches are being dug to place fiber optics into the ground, which has led to people being upset about their surroundings being disturbed and the ground not restored fast enough.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said the city has hired USI Consultants to hear and investigate complaints to best serve the citizens.  The goal is for every matter to be addressed successfully.  “We track all of the complaints and have weekly meetings with the contractor to ensure they’re all resolved,” said Margaret Dickerson, a representative of USI Consultants.  Dickerson can be reached at 219-851-8223.

 

Surf Broadband Solutions is investing $10 million on providing connectivity throughout the entire city.  According to company officials, there will be enough capacity for a single customer to stream up to 200 HD movies on Netflix at the same time without a service interruption.

 

City officials said access to such high speeds will be an advantage in efforts to attract new companies and residents.

Legal Tug of War Flares Up Again

(La Porte County, IN) - There’s more back and forth to report involving a La Porte County official being sued.  La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman.

 

The defamation suit was filed after Stabosz claimed Friedman basically ran La Porte County government and had undue influence over elected officials so he could benefit financially from being County Attorney.  County Attorney is a position appointed annually by the La Porte County Commissioners.

 

In his request for dismissal, Stabosz argued his words were protected under the U.S. Constitution which gives every citizen the right to criticize a public person.

 

William Jonas, who is representing Friedman in the case, said speech alleging professional misconduct and criminal wrongdoing are not protected, though, because the claims are false.  “Mr. Friedman has served the people of La Porte County honorably as County Attorney and we intend to vigorously pursue these claims against Mr. Stabosz".

 

Stabosz said his motion to dismiss, if granted, would prove he’s correct in his allegations without having to go to trial.  Stabosz also said the comments are not defamatory, if true, and he has the proof his description of Friedman’s activities is accurate.  “The best defense in a defamation case is the truth and I have the truth on my side.  I have no concerns whatsoever about this,” he said.

Travel Restricted by Overturned Semi

(Starke County, IN) - A semi-truck overturned on a stretch of U.S. 30 in Starke County late this morning.  According to the Starke County Sheriff’s Office, the eastbound lanes were closed as a result of the accident before 11 a.m.

 

The semi-truck wound up on its side between Indiana 39 and U.S. 35.  No other vehicles were apparently involved.

 

Before 2 p.m., police said one of the eastbound lanes were just about to reopen.  So far, no reports of any injury.

County Council Joins March for Bypass

(La Porte, IN) - Support is building for a road aimed at removing truck traffic from downtown La Porte.  Last night, the La Porte County Council came out in support of a four lane highway being constructed around the downtown.

 

Supporters believe what’s called a North-South Corridor would draw more people to the downtown by removing a high percentage of the heavy trucks forced to travel into the downtown to reach their destinations.

 

La Porte County Councilman Mike Mollenhauer said he also believes the highway would reduce heavy traffic on Pine Lake Avenue.  “From what I understand, it could really increase people visiting our community and do some shopping here and, of course, that’s what we really want,” he said.

 

Right now, a push is being made for federal funding and support from the community is viewed as an important component for securing those dollars to pay for 80-percent of the cost estimated at nearly $100 million.  The eight mile highway would run east of downtown from U.S. 35 and Boyd Boulevard to Indiana 39 and the Indiana Toll Road.

Focus Turning to Old Hospital Site

(La Porte, IN) - The future of the old La Porte Hospital is still uncertain but Mayor Tom Dermody said his office will be in touch with hospital officials soon to discuss what to do with the site.  He appeared on the “Morning Mayhem” on 96.7 The Eagle this morning with hosts Dennis Siddall and Joe Eberhart.

 

Dermody said the building needs to come down.  He said one of the possibilities he’s receptive to is clearing the site and using it for public events to draw people to the downtown.  “That’s seven or eight acres of the center point of our downtown and what a great gathering spot opportunity whether it’s a multitude of different things.   We’ve heard it all,” he said.

 

New housing is among the other possibilities being entertained for that site.  Dermody said another talking point will be who pays for the cost of demolition which could be three to four million dollars. 

 

The new hospital, located just to the west, opened last fall.

Public Invited to "Explore La Porte"

(La Porte, IN) - The public has a chance to learn about the many developments happening in La Porte.  "Explore La Porte” is scheduled early next month.

 

People can go to five sites, including Rural King and the resort type apartments being constructed near Clear Lake.  Presentations will be given on what’s happening at each location.

 

Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, said the speakers are experts closely involved with the projects.  “We’re expecting a big turnout,” he said.

 

The event is scheduled June 4 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  A spec building going up at the Thomas Rose Industrial Park is among the other sites on the tour.   Cook said people visiting all five locations will quality for a drawing for a 65 inch TV.

Sentencing in Vehicle as Weapon Case

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man allegedly struck an ex-girlfriend with his vehicle on purpose.  Miguel Contreras has been sentenced on a lesser charge.   He was given two years in the La Porte County Jail and six months on probation.  Originally, he was charged with attempted murder but was convicted of criminal recklessness.

 

According to police, Contreras became angry when he and his ex-girlfriend saw each other

last year at Dollar General on the city's west side.  He got behind the wheel of his vehicle and backed into the woman on foot on more than occasion, police said. 

 

According to police, the woman was pinned between the car and a wall.  She was also dragged by the vehicle.   The incident happened near the Family Express on J Street.  Police said the woman was in the hospital for two days with scrapes, contusions and another injuries.

 

According to authorities, it appeared from statements by witnesses that Contreras was trying to kill her but his intentions became more difficult to prove when issues developed with some of the evidence in the case.

Motorcyclist Seriously Injured

(Union Mills, IN) - A La Porte man was seriously injured on a motorcycle last week in the Union Mills areas.  James Michaels, 52, was airlifted to a South Bend hospital after the Thursday afternoon accident on Long Lane near U.S. 6.

 

According to La Porte County Police, an oncoming van turned into the path of Michaels whose Honda motorcycle slammed into the passenger side of the vehicle.  Police said the driver of the van, Ron Herrold, 67, told investigators he didn’t see the oncoming motorcycle when he tried turning into his farm field.  Herrold also told investigators some of his attention was being paid to the crops he recently planted, said police.

 

Police said Michaels, despite the seriousness of his injuries, was speaking to emergency responders about the crash.  He had a head injury and a badly broken wrist along with injuries to his shoulder and collar bone, police said.

Fire Claims Life in Michigan

(Sawyer, MI) - A fatal house fire occurred yesterday in southwest Michigan.

 

According to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, the residence in Sawyer was engulfed in flames when emergency responders arrived about 3:30 a.m.  The victim was located inside the residence on Linden Avenue.

 

So far, the name of the victim has not been released.  Police said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Mayor Vows to Catch Bridge Arsonists

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte City Police are investigating a suspected arson fire over the weekend.  Someone apparently set fire to the pedestrian bridge above the channel between Stone and Pine lakes.  Fortunately, the entire bridge did not burn.  There’s a hole where several planks burned completely through.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody vowed whoever did it will be identified and prosecuted.  “Police are on it.  These wannabes, they’ll hide in the shadows.  They won’t come out. They’re gutless.  They don’t have courage and we will get them,” he said.

 

The hole about the size of watermelon or two is on side where people first step on the bridge to cross the channel.

Whiskey Glasses Half Empty for Morgan Wallen

(Nashville, TN) - The Country Music Association is waffling on its treatment of controversial singer Morgan Wallen.  Wallen was caught in a video dropping a racial slur back in February.

 

The CMA has announced that Wallen will not be eligible for any individual awards, like entertainer or vocalist of the year.  His songs and albums, however, will be eligible. The CMA is making the distinction not to throw Wallen a bone, but rather to not shortchange any of his collaborators.

Wallen is up for six Billboard Music Awards, which will be announced Sunday night. But he was not invited to attend or perform at the Billboards.

 

The Academy of Country Music Awards and the CMT Music Awards have disqualified him entirely.

Housing Market Hotter Than Ever

(La Porte, IN) - There’s no end in sight to the real estate bull market. That’s according to La Porte City Councilwoman Laura Konieczny.

 

Konieczny, who is also a realtor, says the housing market is as hot in La Porte as everywhere else. "It's across the board," she says. "To watch these trends over the last twelve to twenty-four months, I keep saying this can't go on forever, but I've elected to stop saying that now, because there doesn't seem to be an end in sight".

 

According to Konieczny, houses in La Porte routinely sell in a matter of days, if not hours. She says when escrow agents ask her how long a property was on the market, she usually replies zero, one, or two days.  Konieczny attributes the situation to a strong economy, high consumer confidence, low interest rates, and the dynamics of supply and demand.

 

According to the National Association of Realtors, the median price of single-family homes across the country is up 20 percent from last year. Nationwide, average time on the market is a record seventeen days.

 

Konieczny advises buyers to be patient and stand their ground. She says antsy buyers sometimes want to rush important steps, like home inspections. "Folks have gone down the road of waiving inspections altogether," she says. "To me, that's a little risky."

 

Konieczny says she’s in favor of Mayor Tom Dermody’s plan to grow La Porte, not only to meet demand, but also to grow the city’s tax base.

Farmer's Market Springing Up in LaPorte

(La Porte, IN) - A welcome sign of normalcy is the return of the Farmer’s Market in downtown La Porte. The first one of the year is this Saturday in the parking lot at the corner of Lincolnway and Monroe.

 

Lindsay Jongkind manages the market. "We're really excited to bring the 2021 season to La Porte," she said on the eve of opening day. "We have a lot of returning vendors but also a few new vendors that we're really excited about." Jongkind said. The market will feature, as always, locally sourced items ranging from fresh produce to arts and crafts.

 

The market is sponsoring a new promotion this year: Red Ticket Days. "All of the vendors will have red tickets," Jongkind said, "and if you spend fifteen dollars or more at a certain booth, then you get a red ticket, and you're entered into a drawing for a hundred dollar Explore LaPorte e-card."

 

The Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. Jongkind says they have designated the first hour specially for the elderly or immunocompromised shoppers.  She says at least sixteen vendors will be set up this Saturday, and that number will only grow as the season rolls on.

No Mask Mandate in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - It’s up to businesses in La Porte County to decide whether to require patrons to wear a mask.  The La Porte County Commissioners have opted against a mask mandate in the unincorporated areas.  Officials in La Porte and Michigan City also chose not to force people to wear a mask in their corporate boundaries unless required by a commercial establishment.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski said the decision boiled down to weighing the public health risk of COVID-19 seemingly in the rear view mirror and future well-being of businesses struggling from restrictions.  “Lots of people are being vaccinated. We’re trying to get this put behind us,” he said.

 

Previously, local restrictions during public health emergencies were previously made by the health officer in each county.  In overriding the governor, a majority of the legislature felt such home rule decisions should rest with elected officials to give more of a voice to the public whose lives are impacted by restrictions.  County health officers are appointed.

 

The commissioners also lifted the mask mandate for county government buildings except inside courtrooms.  La Porte City Hall is scheduled to reopen to the public on June 1 but citizens will be required to wear a mask for at least a month.  “We are eager to take a step closer to normalcy and get to have some face time with our citizens,” said Mayor Tom Dermody.

 

Dermody said Transporte drivers and their commuters will still be required to wear a mask because of the city’s public transportation service being under federal government regulations.

 

City Hall in Michigan City is still open to the public by appointment only.  Future plans for the building are being developed and should be revealed next week, said Chris Yagelski, Administrator for the Mayor’s Office.  

Shooting Victim in Michigan City Dies

(Michigan City, IN) - One man is dead and second man was injured from a drive by shooting in Michigan City yesterday.  According to Michigan City Police, 21-year old Tyrese Morris-Cross was airlifted to a South Bend hospital where he later died.  Police said a 23-year old man suffered non-life threatening injuries.

 

According to police, the men were in the 200 block of North Ridgeland about 1:30 p.m.  That’s close to the area of Michigan Boulevard and Carroll Avenue.  Police said they were outside a residence when struck by gunfire from a passing sport utility vehicle.  So far, no arrests have been reported.

 

A week ago, there was a town hall type meeting to discuss the upsurge in gun violence.  Michigan City Police Chief Dion Campbell said it’s discouraging that something like this occurred in such a short time frame after the meeting.  He said it will take a community effort to stop the violence.

 

At least two shooting deaths have occurred in Michigan City this year while several other people have been shot.  There were well over a half dozen homicides last year in Michigan City.

Drug Cops Snare Alleged Big Fish

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police have reeled in what looks like an alleged big fish in the drug dealing world.  Corey Majied is charged with Dealing in Methamphetamine, Cocaine and Heroin.

 

According to court documents, he was caught selling 125 dollars in heroin just over two months ago at his home on Kentucky Street.  Later, police allegedly confiscated a large amount of each of the drugs from his residence on the city’s west side.

 

Court records show Majied has prior convictions for crimes like robbery, forgery and battery.

Charges in Alleged Molestings

(Michigan City, IN) - It could be pay back time for a suspected Michigan City child molester.  39-year old Edward Jimenez is charged with six Level 1 felony counts.

 

According to police, a teenage girl reported Jimenez forced her into sexual intercourse on numerous occasions last year and this year.  On at least one occasion, he allegedly took her to a hotel to have sex.  The girl was 13 at the time.  According to authorities, the girl was also threatened by Jimenez if she did not go along with his requests.

 

If convicted, Jimenez could face anywhere from 20- to 40 years on each count.

Another Shooting Reported in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Another shooting in Michigan City is being reported.  So far, police have not released any details.  Apparently, there was at least one injury.

 

During the afternoon yesterday, officers were called to Franciscan Health near Interstate 94 on a report of fighting related to a shooting in the parking lot.  Officers on their police radios indicated the situation was under control but a few minute later they were called on a report of fighting that resumed.

 

Hospital security also reported issues inside the building, according to the emergency radio traffic.

 

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

Kids Show Up to be Vaccinated

(La Porte, IN) - About a dozen people were in line when the doors in La Porte opened Thursday for children ages 12 to 17 to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.  Everyone receiving the vaccinate were instructed to return on June 10 for their second shot to be fully protected.

 

Connor Rahn, 15, said he didn’t hesitate when told about the one day clinic at the Civic Auditorium by his parents.  Rahn said he won’t have to worry any longer about hanging out with friends or going to Florida as a Pop Warner football cheerleader if the La Porte team advances to the finals this year.  “I think we’re all just ready to get back to normal,” said his mother, Shelly.

 

100 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were provided by Walgreens.  The pharmacy chain was contacted by the mayor’s office in response to parents asking where they can go to get their children vaccinated after the state recently lowered the age limit.  “They were more than willing to help,” said Mayor Tom Dermody.

 

So far, the Pfizer vaccine is the only one approved by the Federal Drug Administration for use in children as young as 12.  Vials of the vaccine stored at 70 degrees below zero were brought from the Walgreens at U.S 20 and U.S. 421 in Michigan City, said Dan Whelan, a pharmacy technician for the drug store chain.  To receive a shot, Whelan said a child had to provide written consent from a parent or guardian who also had to be present.

 

Noel Riley of La Porte jumped at the chance to bring her daughters, Liberty, 17, Ireland, 15, and Hope, 13, after learning about the four hour clinic on social media.  “I was going to get them vaccinated no matter what but I just figured this was a big group thing and I had all three right after school.  It was easy. It was convenient,” she said.  “I was nervous at first but it really didn’t hurt. I’m glad I got it,” said her daughter, Liberty.

 

Melissa Worthington showed up with her 14-year old son, Tristan.  “It’s about keeping everyone else safe,” she said.

 

Hot dogs and slices of pizza were offered to every children who received a vaccination.  Dermody said up to 100 children might not seem like a lot but gets everyone a step closer to returning to normal.  “I think people are ready for this summer after missing out a majority of last year,” he said.

Local Job Hiring Event Coming

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership (LEAP), the Center for Workforce Innovations and WorkOne will host a Ready2Work Job Hiring Event next week.  It's scheduled May 26 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the La Porte Civic Auditorium.

 

The event will feature businesses ready to hire that day, including American Renolit, Blue Chip Casino, E-Pak Machinery, Fiberbond, Indiana Department of Transportation, La Porte County Family YMCA, Northwest Health, Sodexo and WeConnect.

 

Interviews will be held on the spot, so attendees are encouraged to come ready for an appointment, officials said.   People after signing in will also have a chance at wining a $200 Visa gift card.

 

The event has been planned through LEAP’s Workforce Task Force, officials said. 

Pandemic Seems to be Further Weakening

(Indianapolis, IN) - It looks like we’re winning the battle against COVID-19.  For example, just 30 new cases were reported today in La Porte County by the Indiana State Department of Health.  In addition, there are no longer any counties in the state with a double digit positivity rate, ISDH said.  The rate in La Porte County now stands at 8.2 percent.

 

Dr. Vidya Kora, who has a medical practice in Michigan City, said it’s very rare for someone to get COVID-19 after vaccinated.  If they do contract the virus, the symptoms are not nearly as bad.

 

88 new cases of COVID-19 were reported today in St. Joseph, Starke and Porter counties combined.  Positivity rates ranged from one-percent in Blackford and Sullivan counties to 9.8-percent in Jasper County, ISDH said.

Motor Vehicle Crash Under Investigation

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police are still investigating what sounds like a bad motor vehicle crash.  The accident happened Monday afternoon on the city’s east side.

 

Monica Haynes of Michigan City said she witnessed an SUV on State Road 212 turn left into oncoming traffic next to Green Acres Trailer Park.  Haynes said she was about 50 yards behind the turning driver whose front end looked like it was taken off from the impact with an oncoming vehicle.  “The other car in the other lane next to it got hit as well,” she said.  Haynes said she pulled over and called 911.

 

She said residents at the trailer park rushed out to see if any of the people involved in the accident needed help and help direct traffic until emergency responders arrived.  Police said no further information will be available until the investigation is completed.

Reasons Cited for Drop in Burglaries

(La Porte County, IN) - Burglaries reported to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office are down considerably.  The number went from 133 in 2019 to 95 last year.

 

Since 2018, burglaries are down 50 percent, according to statistics provided by the sheriff’s office.  Sheriff John Boyd believes the number of video security systems on homes and businesses nowadays is one of the reasons. 

 

He feels burglars are also discouraged by advancements in DNA testing.  Just touching something without gloves on can leave a DNA sample from the moisture on a burglary suspect’s hands.  “Whether it be a door knob or, perhaps, a window sill if someone was coming through a window or even if it was the cable on the back of a TV when they unscrew the cable if they’re taking the TV or some type of electrical device we can touch DNA that and see if we can get a sample from that,” he said.

 

Boyd said more people staying home last year because of COVID-19 also could have been a factor in the drop in burglaries last year.

Charges in Homeless Stabbing

(Michigan City, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with a stabbing involving homeless people in Michigan City.  Daniel Barger, 69, allegedly stabbed a middle-aged woman.

 

According to police, the woman was laying on a cot in a yard when the man allegedly called her a witch and began stabbing her at three o’clock in the morning on April 5 in the 1100 block of East Michigan Boulevard.

 

Detective Marty Corley said the behavior of the suspect, also homeless, was strange in his encounters with the man.  “I kind of asked him what brought him here. He did not give me a sane answer. More of a conspiracy theory type answer.  I’m not sure how he got here but he’s from California,” he said.

 

The woman was stabbed multiple times in the leg, arm and hand with a butcher knife.  Corley said she has since recovered and is back walking around the community.

 

Barger is charged with Level 5 felony Battery and Level 6 felony Criminal Recklessness.  He was being held in the La Porte County Jail on $15,000 bond.  Corley said his previous encounters with the man involved complaints from people scared about his presence on their properties. 

Mayor Draws Color Line

(Chicago, IL) - The mayor of Chicago says she will no longer give exclusive interviews to white people.  Some people are now calling the African American mayor a racist.  Others are throwing their support behind her.

 

Mayor Lori Lightfoot said she will only do one on one interviews with people of color.  She says it’s to promote diversity in an industry dominated by white people.

Trigger Happy Suspect Awaiting Trial

(Michigan City, IN) - Attempted murder charges related to a gangland style shooting in Michigan City remain undecided.  Darryl Fields was charged in July of last year in connection with a van struck at least a dozen times by gunfire.  A passenger in the van, David Ashley, Jr., was hit by one of the rounds.

 

According to court documents, the investigation shows Fields allegedly fired the shots to get even for his parked vehicles being hit with gunfire outside his residence.  It appears the alleged target was not Ashley but another man who was riding with him in the vehicle riddled with bullets at Earl Road and Wabash Street.

 

Police said Ashley was hit on his left rib cage area and released from the hospital two days later.  Henry Miller, Jr. was shot on his left ankle, police said.    Fields is scheduled for trial on August 23.

 

Presently, Ashley has pending charges related to a gun he allegedly stole at the YMCA in La Porte and later tried selling.

 

Ashley is the son of Michigan City Police Assistant Chief Jillian Ashley. 

Bracing for COVID Weary Visitor Surge

(New Buffalo, MI) - The City of New Buffalo is getting ready for what could be an extremely busy summer because of COVID-19 restrictions loosening from people getting vaccinated.

           

The city’s Transient Marina Office, west of the Whittaker Street bridge, is being repaired after damaged by fire on August 28th.  Most of the repairs are focused on the bathrooms, showers and laundry area which suffered the heaviest damage.  City Manager Darwin Watson said the fix involves mostly hanging drywall and electrical work.

           

Watson said it’s taken this long for the repairs to start because of delays caused by COVID-19 and the untimely passing of former City Manager Dave Richards, who died from complications of the virus in December.  “We were told it will be done by Memorial Day,” he said.

 

The office portion of the building where permits for slip rental are issued suffered just  minimal damage and reopened shortly after the fire.  The cause of the fire was blamed on an overheated fan in the ventilation system for the restrooms, officials said.  The parking lot at the public boat launch was also resealed to extend the life of the asphalt.

 

Watson said other things happening to get ready for summer involved more routine things like raking of the sand at the public beach.  The proposed rebuilding of Dunewalk just east of the public beach concession stand has not started as originally anticipated.  Last year, the city was hoping the estimated $450,000 project would start before Memorial Day.  Watson said the work hinges on grant dollars and not all of the grants being sought have been decided.

 

Dunewalk, a popular long term fixture at the beach, remains closed because of hazards like broken steps too dangerous to walk on.  The new Dunewalk will be handicapped accessible with ramps made of wood, instead of stairs, for people to navigate from one end to the other.

 

Watson said it appears the loosening of COVID-19 restrictions has people flocking to the lakefront and downtown like never before, perhaps, this early in the month.  “If that’s any indication, it’s going to be a very busy summer season,” he said.

Aiming to Toss Neighborhood Floatation Device

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte officials are actively involved in trying to improve what many people consider the worst neighborhoods in the city.  The area from Rose Street to Tyler Street is being studied to determine how many of the homes are occupied by renters.  The idea is to provide incentives to have more residents owning those homes.

 

During the Board of Public Works and Safety meeting on Tuesday, Mayor Tom Dermody said strategies are being developed with help from the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte to bring about positive change.  He said the plan also includes talking to financial institutions about making home ownership easier to achieve.  “There’s a real opportunity here,” Dermody.

 

Dermody said it’s important to improve the quality of those neighborhoods because they’re close to the downtown and should reflect the upgrades happening in the downtown to make the city a more walkable community.  He pointed specfically at Jefferson Ave. and Maple Ave., areas plagued by heavy police response, as being in dire need of help. 

Downtown Hosting Antique Car Show

(La Porte, IN) - An antique car show is coming to downtown La Porte.  The Board of Public Works and Safety on Tuesday approved a request to close a portion of Monroe Street and State Street for the outdoor event scheduled June 18.

 

Jessica Bruder, Director of Communications for the city, said vehicles taking part in the 50’s cruise-in night will be parked on State Street  She said artisans will be set up on Monroe Street

 

Other things like a beer garden, vendors and live music will make that area of the downtown a gathering place that evening.  “There will be seating for eating.  Live music. All of that good stuff,” Bruder said.

 

It’s the first in a series of “Friday Night Live” events planned for that area equipped with overhead lights above Monroe Street just north of Lincolnway.

Farm Projections Not Cast in Stone

(West Lafayette, IN) - Tight corn supplies remain in the latest forecast by USDA but potential factors exist that could sway the projections in the coming weeks and months.

 

That’s according to Jim Mintert, a farm economist at Purdue University in response to USDA’s latest World Supply and Demand Estimates released on May 12.

 

Mintert said one source of uncertainty is what impact closing the Mississippi River to barge traffic might have corn prices and supply.

 

The river was closed to barge traffic at Memphis on May 11 because of a huge crack in a bridge on Interstate 40 over the channel.

 

Immediately, Mintert said markets reacted negatively to the uncertainty triggered by the closure of a major transportation hub for exports.       

 

Mintert said there were 29 million bushels of corn and four million bushels of soybeans on barges waiting to resume travel to the Gulf of Mexico.

 

“The big impact is on corn.  The reason is we still have one-third of the 2020 crop export projections remaining to be shipped and the bulk of that was to go through the Port of New Orleans.

 

Mintert said the impact will be less if hold up in barge travel is not prolonged but how long the shutdown lasts was not clear.

 

“That shutdown really brings to a halt the major export outlet for all ag commodities, truthfully, but especially for corn and soybeans,” he said.

 

According to the USDA report, predicted corn exports increased by 100 million bushels from the previous projections.

 

The forecast also reduced the amount of corn in storage from 2020 by 95 million bushels.

 

Mintert said the 8.5 percent carry over in corn from last year is similar to 2011-2013 when growers from tight supplies commanded high prices before markets plummeted until last year.

 

USDA also increased its projected average price of corn by five-cents to $4:35 per bushel.

 

Mintert said the price would have been higher but a good portion of the crop has already gone to market.

 

“Those numbers look kind of low but that’s because so much of the crop was sold early. As a result, even though prices have been much higher recently, it’s difficult to raise that market year average very much,” he said.

 

USDA is still forecasting a record yield for corn at 179.5 million bushels per acre.

 

The report also predicts a five-percent increase in ethanol use from the previous year.

 

Mintert said ethanol consumption which dropped dramatically from stay at home orders at the start of the pandemic has rebounded nicely but is still running at “seven to eight percent below where we were in 2019.”

 

He said ethanol use could rise above projections now that COVID-19 restrictions are easing and more people get back to traveling.

 

“Whether we can get those numbers back to where we were a few years ago it’s going to be kind of interesting,” he said.

 

USDA is also forecasting a 12-percent reduction in corn exports from 2020.

 

Mintert said the reduction is probably from expectations of a stronger crop this year in Brazil, which is also a major exporter.

 

USDA is also predicting ending stocks for corn this year at 11-percent.

 

Mintert said tight supplies would loosen only slightly if ending stocks finish at that level.

 

He also said early projections sometimes end way off their original mark.

 

“Last year the production forecast during the course of the year changed dramatically.  There’s still a lot of uncertainty out there with respect to the size of this crop and what that means for ending stocks,” he said.

Guilty But Not of Murder

(La Porte, IN) - On Tuesday night, a La Porte area man was found not guilty of murder but convicted of lesser charges in the 2019 beating death of his brother.

         

Gyle Delrio, 41, was found guilty of level 3 felony aggravated battery and level 5 felony involuntary manslaughter by a La Porte Circuit Court jury after more than three hours of deliberating.  He was acquitted of murder and level 2 felony voluntary manslaughter.

 

Paul Delrio, 38, died soon after emergency responders found him unconscious inside a home he and his brother lived in with their mother in theh 200 block of West Johnson Road.  Delrio’s claim of self-defense was disputed by LaPorte County Deputy Prosecutor Julianne Havens.  During closing arguments,

 

Havens said the death happened after the victim and his mother left the residence because the defendant started trashing the home.  She said the victim returned less than one hour later.  Havens said exactly what transpired between the two men was not clear but the evidence indicates the defendant struck his angry brother “over and over and over again.”  She said the defendant should have realized he was endangering his life but didn’t stop with the blows.

 

The defendant claimed he struck his brother with no more than seven punches.  Havens, though, believed the number of blows was higher and fists alone could not have caused the tremendous amount of swelling to the victim’s head, broken ribs and lacerated liver. She pointed to a bed post as a possible weapon.  “Did he use a bed post ?  It’s hard to say but there was blood on it,” she said.

 

Delrio testified he and his brother were in a truck looking for their mother who had not returned.  He said he told his brother to stop the truck because he was too drunk to drive and they switched places.  Delrio, who also had been drinking, said they were heading back when his brother fell out of the truck then after climbing back in became enraged.  He said his brother started grabbing the steering wheel.  Delrio said he slammed on the brakes at more than 30 miles per hour and his brother’s head slammed into the dash board.

 

Defense Attorney Michael Campbell said the brothers went back inside the home where the victim came at his client on multiple occasions.  “Gyle was defending himself,” he said.  Campbell said any actual crime would have been reckless homicide or involuntary manslaughter from blows to the head after a brain injury caused by the dashboard.  He said a doctor called by the prosecution testified such impact results in a fatal brain injury 34-percent of the time.

 

Delrio faces anywhere from a 4 to 22-year sentence.  Convictions on the other counts would have carried a sentencing range of 45 to 95-years.  No sentencing date was set.

Trustee's Office Could Relocate

(La Porte, IN) - The Center Township Trustee’s Office could move to a new location.  An existing building would serve as both the trustee’s office and facility for the homeless, said Lisa Pierzakowski, the Center Township Trustee.  Pierzakowski told the La Porte City Council last night she wants to purchase a building on Jefferson Avenue, just east of La Porte City Hall.  The building formerly housed "Celebrations To Go." 

 

Right now, Pierzakowski said her office is about a mile away and her proposed new location would be right where the need is greatest to better serve the homeless.  She said people can use the facility to get something to eat, wash their clothes and take a shower while receiving help in finding permanent housing and a job by her office instead of walking or driving to her current location on Lincolnway near J Street.  “It’s kind of a win, win for everybody,” she said.

 

Pierzakowski said the building is listed right now for $300,000.  She is seeking $200,000 each from the City of La Porte and La Porte County government to make the purchase.  The money would come from the over $30 million in federal COVID-19 relief dollars earmarked for both government agencies combined.

 

Originally, Pierzakowski said her office was supposed to receive $700,000 in federal relief money but the dollars wound up being included with the amounts each of those government agencies is receiving.

Vaccinations for Children in La Porte Scheduled

(La Porte, IN) - There will be an effort to vaccinate a lot of children in La Porte later this week.  The city is teaming up with Walgreens on the effort scheduled Thursday at the Civic Auditorium.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said kids ages 12 to 18 are eligible to show up for a Pfizer vaccine and pre-registering for a vaccination is preferred but walk-ins will be accepted.  “Don’t miss out.  We’re calling it Our Shot, Slicers,” he said.

 

The event will run from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

 

Dermody said the vaccines will be given inside the building and kids after vaccinated will be given a ticket for a free hot dog and pizza slice outside the Civic Auditorium.  He said Walgreens is donating over 100 vaccines for the effort.

 

Parental consent is required for children under 18.

Clamping Down on Seat Belt Violators

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte Police Department is keeping a sharper eye out for seat belt violators.  The effort began yesterday and runs through June 6.  Patrols are beefed up from officers working overtime under a federal travel safety campaign entitled "Click It or Ticket."

 

According to authorities, more than 90 percent of motorists wear seat belts, but 6 out of every 10 people killed in passenger vehicle crashes in Indiana from 2015 to 2019 were not wearing a seat belt.  “Part of our job as law enforcement is to educate and that includes reminding drivers and passengers that buckling up isn’t just a suggestion, it’s the law,” said La Porte Police Chief Paul Brettin.  Police said male drivers, ages 15 to 34, are most likely not to have a seat belt on.

 

Officers will be writing citations and conducting high visibility patrols especially at night when unrestrained driving is highest from midnight to 4 a.m., police said.

Theme Developed for July 4th Parade

(La Porte, IN) - This year’s Fourth of July parade in La Porte now has a theme.  Drummond Osborn, President of the Kiwanis Club of La Porte, said the theme is “Bold Stripes, Bright Stars and Brave Hearts.”

 

Osborn revealed the theme at last night’s La Porte City Council meeting.  He said the theme agreed upon by the public service organization’s marketing committee reflects love of America, hopefulness about the future and courage exhibited by all Americans during the pandemic.

 

Osborn also urged the public to take part in the parade and donate to help offset the cost.  “We are looking for unique entries.  We are looking for the old fashioned floats that many of us grew up watching go down Lincolnway and we’re looking for musical entries.  We would love to have as many bands as we could,” he said.

 

Osborn also said the parade this year is going to be the best one in at least a decade judging by the excitement in the community of having a parade this year after last year’s parade was cancelled due to coronavirus.

 

The Kiwanis Club took over the parade from the La Porte Jaycees which cited declining membership for passing the baton.

New Vaccination Clinic in La Crosse

(La Crosse, IN) - A new COVID-19 vaccination clinic has been set up in southern La Porte County.  The clinic is in La Crosse today and tomorrow.  According to the Indiana State Department of Heath, the Pfizer and Johnson and Johnson vaccines are available at The Center at 100 South Washington Street.  The clinic will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

 

Everyone over the age of 12 is eligible.   Children must have permission from their parents.  Officials said appointments are encouraged but walk-ins are accepted.

 

According to state health officials, over 99-percent of new infections are in people who have not been vaccinated.

Creator of Painting Still Unknown

(La Porte, IN) - An old torn and smoke stained painting is providing the public a glimpse of the history of La Porte after being fully restored.  However, the effort to identify the artist is still running into dead ends.

 

The 4 X 8 foot painting from 1949 didn’t even have a frame when found nailed to a sheet of plywood.  The plywood was bolted into the brick wall of the basement in the home of Dennis Meyer, stunned by the discovery.  “It didn’t belong there.  It belonged in a much more beautiful spacious room where the public can see it,” he said.

 

Meyer donated the painting now hanging in the conference room at the La Porte Park and Recreation Department office at 250 Pine Lake Avenue.  “The job that was done on it was just phenomenal.  I couldn’t be happier with it,” said La Porte Parks Superintendent Mark Schreiber.

 

The painting reflects an area of Stone Lake with trees peaking in fall colors.  The work of art was in a home Meyer purchased over four-years ago on Lakeshore Drive beside Stone Lake.  Meyer said he spotted the painting right away and was impressed but his focus at the time was more on updating the residence also built in 1949.  “As I got into the remodeling I realized the painting really deserves a better spot than being in my basement,” he said.

 

Eventually, Meyer began making some contacts and Schreiber expressed an interest in the painting.  Schreiber said a grant to pay for its restoration was obtained by a local branch of The Questers, a group dedicated to preservation.

 

Thaddeus Cutler, the owner of a downtown LaPorte art gallery, removed the tar from cigarette smoke clouding the original colors.  He also fixed a couple of spots where the paint was chipped along with the nail holes in the canvas.  “The way they cleaned it up, it’s absolutely beautiful,” Schreiber said.  Meyer said the tobacco stains were from smoking that occurred by the original owners of the home and during parties they hosted in the basement.

 

The painting that includes the image of a squirrel on a tree was also given a frame and hung in the conference room where the park board holds its monthly meetings.  The creator of the painting was not known but leads are being pursued in hopes of identifying the artist.  A name inscribed at the bottom of the painting could not be made out.

 

“It gives up a little glimpse into the past of La Porte.  I’d love to be able to solve it,” he said.

Identifying Fallen Soldiers Has Great Meaning

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - A local war veteran is pleased the remains of two brothers from La Porte killed during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 have been identified.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski, who saw combat duty in the Vietnam War, said anytime a missing soldier is identified means a lot to veterans fortunate to have safely returned home from battle.  "The ones that actually go into battle and suffer through all of the things that are associated with that, we need to remember that.  Every one of us owe a lot to all of our veterans," he said.

 

Harold and William Trapp were on board the USS Oklahoma which sank from the attack which triggered U.S. involvement in World War II, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency which made the May 10 announcement.  The agency is part of the U.S Department of Defense which keeps track of U.S. servicemen still classified as prisoners of war or missing in action.

 

According to the federal agency, 429 crewmen were aboard the USS Oklahoma capsized when hit multiple times by torpedos.  In 2015, the remains of the unidentified servicemen aboard the vessel were exhumed from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu.  The Trapp brothers ages 24 and 23 were identified in November from advanced dental and DNA testing.  They’re scheduled to be reburied June 15 at the National Memorial Cemetery.  A rosette will be placed next to their names to indicate they’re no longer missing, officials said.

 

Mrozinski, a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars organization in Rolling Prairie, said he expects an attempt will be made to locate any family members of the brothers still living in the area.  The purpose would be to notify them of the discovery and invite them to any ceremonies held locally.  “We can’t forget these guys that went off to serve our country and paid the ultimate price.  This is a great effort we have going on to find these people,” Mrozinski said.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: John Boyd

(LAPORTE, IN) -- In this episode of SOUND OFF, John Boyd talks about his time as LaPorte County Sheriff. Sheriff Boyd was elected for his first time in 2014 and a second term in 2018.

 

The conversation included these topics: 

  • COVID-19 in the jail
  • Endorsing a future successor
  • The difference between Amber Alerts and Silver Alerts 
  • Notifying the community about crimes in certain areas 
  • License plate reader cameras
  • The crosswalk on Pine Lake Avenue
  • ...and more.

Listen to the full episode below: 

 

 

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

Summer Concerts Back On

(La Porte, IN) - There’s another indication things are beginning to return to normal.  Summer concerts are again scheduled in La Porte.

 

The annual Arts in the Park line up has been announced.  A Billy Joel/Elton John tribute band is scheduled to kick off the season on June 3 at Fox Park.  There’s also an Eagle’s tribute band scheduled for July 29.

 

For more information, go to artsintheparklaporte.com.

Caucus Scheduled to Fill Seat of Late Trustee

(La Porte County, IN) - The process has started for filling a seat vacated by the death of a local official.  The La Porte County Democrat Party has scheduled a caucus.

 

Precinct committee members from Coolspring Township will meet for the caucus to elect a replacement for Jackie Atwater.  The 69-year old Atwater was Coolspring Township Trustee when she died last week.

 

The caucus is scheduled for May 25 at 6 p.m. at the Michigan City Police Department, said La Porte Couinty Democrat Party Chairman Dr. Vidya Kora.  Anyone interested in seeking the position of Coolspring Trustee must have their letter  and a CEB 5 form in Dr. Vidya Kora’s hands at 105 Woodside Dr.  Michigan City, IN 46360.

 

All required documents must be presented to Kora no later than May 23 at 6:00 p.m., which is 72 hours prior to the election, Kora said.

 

Vaccinations Offered at Home

(La Porte County, IN) - COVID-19 vaccines are now being offered at home. 

 

Locally, the La Porte County Emergency Management Service and the La Porte County Health Department are teaming up on the effort.  Ambulance workers will administer the vaccine to people unable to reach a vaccination site.

 

For more information, contact the Health Department at the La Porte County Complex at (219) 326-6808, ext. 2200.

Heeg to Run for Sheriff

(LaPorte County, IN) - Come next election, there will be a new sheriff in town.  Having reached his two-term limit, La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd will be stepping aside at the end of next year.  And his Chief Deputy is looking to fill the position.

 

Last week, Ron Heeg announced his candidacy for County Sheriff.  He announced his intentions of running in 2022 to the Sheriff's Office Merit Board.  Heeg said he plans to run on three strategic goals: public safety, personnel investment, and community investment.

 

Heeg has been with the Sheriff’s Department for over 20 years, and has been Chief Deputy since 2014.

Pregnant Woman Among Stranded Kayakers Rescued

(Wayne County, IN) - An afternoon paddle down the Whitewater River turned perilous for three kayakers Saturday afternoon.  

 

The group, which included an eight-month pregnant woman, started out near Richmond Saturday afternoon. After capsizing, they became stranded in a remote area.  Their family reported them missing just after midnight.

 

Indiana Conservation Officers were able to locate the trio around 4:30 a.m. Sunday morning. Officers used a drone with a thermal sensor to detect the missing people in the dark. According to the Department of Natural Resources, the kayakers had set up camp along the river bank and were able to make a fire to stay warm.

 

The DNR says river levels in that area are still high from rains earlier in the week. They remind boaters everywhere to carefully chart their route, notify friends and relatives of their itinerary, and always wear personal floatation devices. 

 

 

Road Rage on the Tollway

(Lake County, IN) - An act of road rage on the Indiana Tollway left a vehicle riddled with holes and a passenger shot.  It happened Thursday evening on I-80/94 near Gary.

 

According to reports, police found a white Jeep Cherokee on the side of the highway.  The vehicle had been shot several times.  The female passenger had been struck by one of the bullets.  She was taken to the hospital with a non-life-threatening injury.

 

The driver claimed that a black male driving a Ford passenger car opened fire after trying to pass the Jeep at a high rate of speed.  The shooter so far has not been found or identified. 

Murder Charges Against New Carlisle Youth Still Pending

(St. Joseph County, IN) - A possible murder trial for a New Carlisle teenager has been put on hold until the court can rule on his mental state.  A hearing was held Thursday morning for a 14-year-old boy who is accused of molesting and strangling to death 6-year-old Grace Ross on March 12.

 

According to documents obtained by the South Bend Tribune, the boy told police that the little girl followed him into woods behind their apartment complex. There, he claimed, a “shadowy man” made him commit the crime.

 

Prosecutors are looking to try the boy in adult court.  At Thursday’s hearing, a judge ordered further psychological evaluation.  The boy’s competency to stand trial should be determined by July, with a possible trial to follow in August.

Tollway Drug Bust

(Porter County, IN) - Police scored another illegal drug bust on the Indiana Tollway this week.

 

At about 1:00 pm Thursday, State Police pulled over a car just west of the La Porte County line.  When their K9 sniffed something suspicious, police searched the vehicle and discovered approximately 4 kilograms of suspected Fentanyl, along with a large amount of cash.

 

The car’s two occupants, a 20-year-old man and a 24-year-old woman, both from Baltimore, Maryland, were taken to Porter County Jail.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Angie Nelson Deuitch

(LAPORTE, IN) -- Today's episode featured Michigan City Councilperson Angie Nelson Deuitch.

 

The conversation included topics like: 

  • Councilperson Deuitch's background
  • The aftermath of Mayor Duane Parry's controversial comments
  • Unemployment issues in Michigan City
  • Lake passes for Washington Park Beach
  • The Airbnb Culture in Michigan City
  • Surveillance cameras in Michigan City
  • ...and more

Listen to today's episode below: 

 

 

CREDITS: Jeff Wuggazer (Producer/Editor), Nate Loucks (Host), Angie Nelson Deuitch (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.

No Stop in Gun Related Arrests

(Michigan City, IN) - Gun arrests in Michigan City continue to pile up.  The latest is a man who allegedly pointed a gun at somebody then pulled the trigger.  Jonathon Hodges allegedly did this at Green Acres Trailer Park on State Road 212.

 

According to police, the 28-year old Hodges pointed the gun at somebody then fired the handgun into the air last week.  He was arrested two days ago in the 1900 block of Tennessee Street on the city’s west side.

 

LaPorte County Prosecutor John Lake said over 120 gun related charges have been filed by his office in the past 18 months which is about twice the amount from the previous four years.

City Hall Reopening Soon

(La Porte, IN) - The doors of La Porte City Hall closed for more than a year because of coronavirus will open again to the public.  Beginning June 1, Mayor Tom Dermody said people will be allowed to enter as long as they wear a mask.  The building has been closed to the public since March of 2020 when the pandemic was in its early stages.

 

Dermody said he feels comfortable allowing the public to enter the building now that people are being vaccinated.  "Though we continued to serve the people of La Porte without interruption during the pandemic, we are eager take a step closer to normalcy and get to have some face time with our citizens," he said.

 

Dermody said there are virtual options still available for members of the public who do not feel comfortable yet doing business inside City Hall.  The options include the drive through service lane on the east side of City Hall and livestreamed meetings.

 

For questions or concerns, residents can contact the mayor's office at 219-362-0151.

Change in Culture Urged to Help Curb Gunfire

(Michigan City, IN) - Close to 100 people turned out last night to discuss the increase in gun use in Michigan City.  People felt the causes include lack of economic opportunity and behavior influenced by rap music.

 

Police Chief Dion Campbell said it’s time to force the wheels of change to start turning. “With anything, you have to be deliberate in building a culture. If you do not deliberately build the culture of Michigan City, then it will build itself, and we will have what we see now,” he said.

 

Campbell also spoke about the need for fathers to be more involved in the lives of their children to provide guidance away from negative influences leading them down paths of destruction.

 

According to Campbell, there were 10 homicides in Michigan City last year. He said the number of killings in previous years was in the single digits.

 

Pastor Jerry Passmore said it’s time for the church community to become more involved in saving lost souls. “Out of 70 churches in Michigan City, Indiana, you mean to tell me us pastors cannot get together and build unity for these young men and women in this community and work together to help.  We’re here to guide these people who are in trouble,” he said.

Citizen Ruth Pryor said some children turn to guns from being coddled too much nowadays. “Bring back the 'whoopins'. Spank them butts.  I’m old school,” she said.  

Upcoming Bridge Closure on Johnson Road

(La Porte County, IN) - An upcoming road closure could cause quite a few headaches locally.  According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, a bridge on Johnson Road is going to closed.  The bridge is the one above Interstate 94 near Michigan City.  Officials said the bridge deck is going to be sealed.

 

The bridge is going to be closed for two weeks beginning next Wednesday, according to INDOT officials. 

Education Outreach to Reduce Gun Use

(Michigan City, IN) Teaching kids how to be a man is one thing being done to reduce gun violence in Michigan City. 

 

Police Chief Dion Campbell said the recently started program about responsibility, principles, and conflict resolution is for troubled youth ages 13 to 17.  He said the effort involves law enforcement, the school system, and the religious community.  “We had three Saturdays in a row, and we made a heavy impact on some of the young men that were before us,” Campbell reported during Wednesday's meeting of the Michigan City Police Civil Service Commission. 

 

Campbell is scheduled to be one of the speakers at a town hall meeting this evening about the rise in gun violence and what’s being done about it.  That meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. at the Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church on E. 10th Street.

COVID Positivity Rate Ticks Back Up

(Indianapolis, IN) - The percentage of La Porte County residents testing positive for COVID-19 is up again.  According to the Indiana Department of Health, the seven-day positivity rate here is now 12-percent.  It was 12 percent a few weeks ago, then dipped below 10 percent recently.

 

Dr. Vidya Kora, who has a medical practice in Michigan City, said the positivity rate would be as high, perhaps, as 20-percent if people were not vaccinated.  La Porte County has the second-highest positivity rate in the state, while Starke County at 11-percent has the fourth-highest rate in the state, according to IDH.

 

Kora also encouraged people hesitant about being vaccinated to get immunized.  He said each of the 10 to 15 people hospitalized right now in Michigan City was not vaccinated.  He emphasized the vaccine, despite the myths, is safe and effective. 

 

Kora said the fears are often driven by misinformation.   “I think the people need to just refresh their basic science and biology rather than just relying on Facebook posts of people who don’t know what in the hell they are talking about,” he said.

Charges in Motor Vehicle Fatality

(La Porte County, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with a fatal motor vehicle crash in La Porte County last year.  61-year old Arthur McNeeley is expected to make his initial appearance in La Porte Circuit Court on Friday.  He’s charged with reckless homicide and two other counts.

 

According to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, the Mishawaka man hit the back end of a vehicle on U.S. 20 and 200 East. McNeeley then veered over the center line and struck an oncoming vehicle. 62-year old Brian Klingerman drove the second vehicle he hit.  Police said the man from Bremen later died from injuries sustained in the November crash.

 

McNeeley was arrested yesterday following a several-month-long investigation.

12-Year Olds Now Vaccine Eligible

(Indianapolis, IN) - Children as young as 12 years old can now receive a COVID-19 vaccine in Indiana.  According to state health officials, children ages 12 to 15 are now eligible.

 

Only the Pfizer vaccine can be given to that age group for right now because it’s the only vaccine the Federal Drug Administration has approved for use in people younger than 18.

 

State Health officials said just over two million Hoosiers are now fully vaccinated.

New Basketball Coach for Satellites

(Union Mills, IN) - A former high school basketball coach in La Porte County is returning to the sidelines.

 

Ben Anderson is the new girl's varsity basketball coach at South Central High School. Currently, Anderson is the high school principal.

 

He was an assistant coach for the boy's varsity team at La Porte High School when the Slicers won the sectional title in 2014.

 

The South Central Satellite girls nearly made the state finals two years ago.  Anderson takes over for Wes Bucher, who stepped down in February.

Son of Police Officer Charged

(Michigan City, IN) - An outside investigation has resulted in charges related to a stolen gun.  The alleged offender is the son of a high ranking officer with the Michigan City Police Department.  David Ashley, Jr. is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with theft.

 

According to court documents, he stole a handgun at the YMCA in La Porte last year and tried selling it to the gun owner's brother.  The buyer he allegedly targeted recognized the gun as the one stolen from his brother, according to Indiana State Police. 

 

Indiana State Police conducted the investigation at the request of Mayor Duane Parry because the suspect is the son of Michigan City Police Assistant Chief Jillian Ashley. 

 

According to court documents, her son wanted $250 for the stolen gun.  He’s also charged with carrying a handgun without a permit.

Local Official Dies Unexpectedly

(La Porte County, IN) - People are mourning the death of elected official locally.  Coolspring Township Trustee Jackie Atwater passed away Sunday.  She was 69.

 

Coolspring Township Assistant Fire Chief Warren Smith said her death was totally unexpected.  “I had no idea she was sick.  I got a phone call today that she had passed away,” he said.  Smith described Atwater as a good township trustee and very pleasant in her interactions with people.  “She was just a  very nice lady,” he said.,

 

A celebration of life service is scheduled from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the Coleman and Hicks

Funeral Home on Karwick Road in Michigan City.

OWI Drama Ends in Jail Time

(La Porte, IN) - A little time behind bars might be just what the doctor ordered for a drunk driver who allegedly physically assaulted a La Porte police officer.  Melissa Fiscus was given 10 days in the La Porte County Jail for Level 6 felony operating while intoxicated.  The remainder of her 18 month sentence will be served on community corrections.

 

According to police, Fiscus in November was passed out in the driver’s seat of a car in a gas station parking lot.  Police said she pulled into the gas station after witnessed driving very erratically. 

 

Police said when she was taken into custody, Fiscus repeatedly kicked a police officer in the legs and threatened to “cut” another police officer if she ever located her on the streets.  According to Police, the woman also began coughing and claimed she had COVID-19 in her failed efforts to avoid being taken to the slammer. 

 

Fiscus had a blood alcohol level of .192-percent or well above the .08-percent legal limit.  She has had at least one other prior OWI conviction. 

 

Sisters Step Up to Save Parade

(La Porte, IN) - Two sisters are viewed by some people as Santa Claus saving Christmas by making it possible for La Porte to have a July 4th parade this year.  However, Dawn and Joy Zigler don’t quite look at it that way.

 

The Ziglers were contacted by Mayor Tom Dermody when he learned the La Porte Jaycees would not host the parade this year because declining membership left the group too shorthanded to do all of the work involved in putting together and hosting the parade.  The Jaycees have hosted the parade since the late 1940’s.

 

The Kiwanis Club of La Porte is taking over as hosts of the parade for at least this year.  The Zigler’s were heavily involved in the parade when they were members of the Jaycees but they’re no longer eligible to be with the group since the Jaycees is for people 40 and under.

 

Joy Zigler said she and her sister agreed to provide the leadership necessary for putting together and hosting the parade for the Kiwanis Club.  She said there are plenty of elves involved in keeping alive the rich La Porte tradition.  “I don’t know if I would call us saviors.  It’s the support and teamwork of everyone else involved,” Zigler said.

 

Zigler said among the other people involved are current and former members of the Jaycees.  “It’s kind of an all hands on deck. It’s the community that’s going to be the saviors not necessarily Dawn and I,” she said.

 

The Jaycees are still hosting the Fourth of July fireworks at the fairgrounds.

Hotel Drug Dealing Arrest

(Michigan City, IN) - Police made two drug related arrests at a Michigan City hotel.  33-year old Robert Rosenbourgh of Michigan City is charged with dealing methamphetamine.

 

According to police, officers last week went to Ramada Inn to search a room occupied by Rosenbourgh, who was living at the hotel.  An undisclosed amount of drugs, cash and other drug related items were allegedly seized.

Police said a hotel worker alerted Rosenbourgh law enforcement was there but he was not able to get away despite her efforts. 

 

43-year old Trinity Hawkins also of Michigan City is charged with assisting a criminal.

Vaccination Clinic Still Fairly Busy

(La Porte, IN) - The number of people receiving COVID-19 vaccinations in La Porte County has diminished but still pretty steady.

 

Since January, the La Porte County Health Department has operated a vaccination clinic at the fairgrounds.  Nurse Peggy Rose said 425 people, on average, were once coming in daily for their vaccination but the number has dropped to slightly more than 200 people per day recently.

 

Rose said anyone 16 and over from any state can be vaccinated at the clinic.  All people have to do is bring some form of identification to allow accurate records to be kept on who has been vaccinated.  She said individuals are also given cards showing they’ve been vaccinated should they ever have to show proof of vaccination.

 

The clinic is open every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Walk-ins are also accepted.  Rose said the clinic will be moving to the old La Porte Hospital site on May 26 to make way for preparing for this year’s La Porte County Fair.

Suspect in Brother's Murder Claims Self Defense

(La Porte, IN) - A jury will decide whether a business executive from La Porte was murdered or if his brother acted in self-defense.  Opening arguments were given Tuesday in the trial of 38-year old Gyle Delrio.  Delrio is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with murder, aggravated battery, voluntary manslaughter and theft.

 

Paul Delrio, 41, also of La Porte died of a brain injury from being hit on the head with a bed post, authorities said.  According to authorities, a lacerated liver and loss of blood contributed to his death in October of 2019.

 

La Porte County Prosecutor Julianne Havens said both men drank alcohol before the defendant started breaking furniture inside a home they lived at with their mother in the 200 block of West Johnson Road.  She said Paul and his mother left the residence to escape the disruption.  A short time later, Havens said the defendant told his mother during a phone call “I’m going to get Paul.”

 

That same night, Havens said the victim was found unconscious on a bedroom floor of the residence by emergency responders.  She said the defendant reported two burglars had just broken into the home to explain the injuries but later police found his clothing in the blood stained water of a washer in his attempt to clean up the scene.  Havens said the defendant also removed rings and other pieces of high-end jewelry worn by his brother.

 

Defense Attorney Michael Campbell described the victim as the aggressor and a “violent alcoholic.”  Campbell said the deceased was legally intoxicated and further angered by his wife filing for divorce and losing his job.  He said his client was talking to Paul when the victim became enraged.

 

Campbell also said his client had to defend himself but did not explain how he was being threatened.  “Paul was on a very downward spiral in life for a long time,” Campbell said.

 

According to the evidence presented in the courtroom, the victim was Director of Operations for La Porte-based Bruno Enterprises, an owner of numerous chain restaurants in the area.  His wife, Jennifer Delrio, testified he resigned because he no longer had time to focus on the job and his over 30 rental properties.  “He agreed it was no longer a good fit,” she said.

 

Mrs. Delrio also testified she worked in human resources at the same company and purchased jewelry for her husband in places like Aruba, an island country in the Caribbean.  Havens said the stolen jewelry was buried in the backyard and later recovered after the defendant told his mother where to find it.

New Head Basketball Coach for Slicers

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte High School has a new varsity boys' basketball coach with a history of successfully rebuilding a program.   

 

Jordan Heckard was the head coach at Highland for the past nine seasons.  His teams lost twice as many games as they won but they won a majority of their games in three of the last four seasons.

 

Heckard is a 2004 graduate of Valparaiso High School.  He replaces Kyle Benge, who resigned in March.  Benge also had a losing record but the team seems primed for future success judging by the noticeable improvement of his young players during the previous season.

Trial in Murder of Brother Starts

(La Porte, IN) - Opening arguments are scheduled this morning in the trial of a man accused of murdering his brother outside La Porte.  38-year old Gyle Del Rio is charged in the beating death.

 

According to court records, he allegedly killed 41-year old Paul Del Rio inside their home

in the 200 block of West Johnson Road in 2019.  Authorities said a blunt object was used to strike the man on the head and other places on the body during a fight between the brothers.

 

La Porte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos is presiding over the trial scheduled to begin after the jury was chosen on Monday. 

Remains of Local War Veterans from La Porte Identified

(Washington D.C.) - The remains of two brothers from La Porte missing in combat for 80-years have been identified.

 

Harold and William Trapp were believed killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.  They on board the USS Oklahoma which sank during the attack by Japan during World War II.  Scientists used advanced dental and DNA testing to identify the brothers.

 

The Trapps, who were ages 24 and 23, are scheduled to be buried at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific during an official ceremony June 15 in Hawaii.  The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency made the announcement on Monday.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Labor Shortage

(LAPORTE, IN) -- Indiana's unemployment rate is hovering around pre-pandemic levels at 3.9 percent. Yet, like much of America, there is a labor shortage. Is it caused by expanded unemployment benefits? Is it caused by lower-than-normal immigration rates? Is it caused by other pandemic issues like childcare availability? Is it something else? That was the topic on this episode of SOUND OFF

 

Listen to the entire episode below: 

 

 

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.

Florists Meet Mother's Day and Prom Challenge

(La Porte, IN) - Buying flowers for Mother’s Day yesterday kept local retailers extremely busy.

 

For example, there were plenty of deliveries from Thode Floral in downtown La Porte and people walking into the shop at 610 Lincolnway.

 

Owner Jessica Granger said 480 floral arrangements were sold or about 50 more than the previous year for Mother’s Day.

 

“My girls were troopers. We’re all moms, and we were here spending our Mother’s Day making everyone else’s great. We love to do it,” Granger said. She said another 50 floral arrangements were sold for the LaPorte High School prom.

 

The prom held annually at the La Porte Civic Auditorium was back after canceled by coronavirus last year.

 

Civic Auditorium Director Brett Binversie said there were about 250 prom goers Saturday or about half of the people that usually attend. Masks had to be worn, and people practiced social distancing.

 

“It’s just a good thing I think that they were able to have prom this year, especially because all of the juniors last year weren’t able to have prom,” Binversie said.

 

 

Crime Fighting Cameras Pitched

(Michigan City, IN) - High-tech cameras could become a crime-fighting tool in Michigan City.

 

A presentation was given to the City Council last week by Flock Safety, which has cameras in over

1,000 communities nationwide.

 

Alex Latraverse, a Vice-President with the Atlanta, Georgia-based company, said the cameras provide not just license plate numbers but can identify the make and model or any unusual characteristics of a vehicle used in a crime.

 

He said the use of the cameras makes sense because nationwide statistics show less than 20-percent of crimes are solved while 70-percent of crime involves the use of vehicles.

 

Latravese said it costs $2,500 to subscribe to each camera annually, but maintenance and other services are provided at no cost.

 

No decision was made by the City Council, which agreed to hear his presentation at his request.

New Host for July 4th Parade in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - It’s long been billed as the best Fourth of July parades in the state of Indiana.

           

The LaPorte Jaycees, citing dwindling membership, will not be hosting the event for the first time since the 1940s.

 

The parade canceled in 2020 by COVID-19 will resume this year, with The Kiwanis Club of LaPorte hosting one of the largest Independence Day parades in the state.  

 

“We were sorry to learn that the Jaycees were unable to be involved this year. But, they’ve definitely set the bar high,” said Drummond Osborn, President of the Kiwanis Club of LaPorte.

 

This would have been the 75th annual Jaycees parade had it not been for COVID-19 last year and being short-handed this year from the continued decline in membership.

 

"While this decision was not made lightly, the Jaycees believe that it is time to hand off to keep the event sustainable for the future,” said Ross Ratliff, the LaPorte Jaycees 4th of July Chairman.

 

Ratliff said hosting such a large-scale event has been increasingly difficult since membership started dropping a decade ago.

 

He said the Jaycees would continue to host the fireworks celebration scheduled for July 3 at the LaPorte County fairgrounds and the Port-A-Pit Chicken fundraiser on June 26 outside Kablein Ace Hardware at 512 Andrew Ave.   

 

Osborn said the Kiwanis Club of La Porte is honored to take over what he called one of the city’s “longest-standing and most cherished traditions.”

 

The timing also couldn’t have worked out better, perhaps, for his organization.

 

“This opportunity couldn’t fit better with our club as we celebrate our 100th anniversary this year,” Osborn said.

 

Since World War II, the governor on Independence Day has declared LaPorte the state’s ceremonial "Capital for a Day."

Legal Challenge Threatened Over Legal Marijuana

(Three Oaks, MI) - The door has opened for the sale of marijuana in Three Oaks, Michigan, but a legal challenge could be looming.

 

The Three Oaks Planning Commission on May 4 unanimously approved an application for a special land use permit from Bloom Operations, LLC.

 

The company licensed to sell recreational and medical marijuana in Michigan would operate from an existing facility at 6761 W. U.S 12 in Three Oaks.

 

Approval of the application for a special land use permit will be given final consideration by the Three Oaks Village Council. Final approval could result in legal action by Darrin Malek, an attorney representing Exclusive Healing. Malek said Exclusive Healing occupies the property under a lease with Dennis Grosse.

 

Malek said the special land use application indicates a purchase agreement for the property has been reached between Grosse and Bloom Operations, LLC., but the lease is between Grosse and his client. Therefore, Malek said the special land use application is improper because there’s no lease agreement between his client and “the true owner of the property.”

 

Malek also alleged the minutes from a previous Planning Commission meeting were not accurate.

 

He said the minutes reflect a motion was made to clarify questions regarding ownership of the property. Still, the motion was actually to meet with the village attorney on how to proceed.

 

“I have a recording of that, and I’m glad to share that with you,” Malek said.

 

Malek also said consideration of the special land use application was tabled indefinitely, but the minutes reflect the matter was tabled specifically until May 4.

 

“It’s not accurate.  That’s not what the motion indicated,” he said.

 

Malek said other issues include, “we don’t know if Grosse sold the property based on a land contract, an installment purchase, or some other means.”

 

Planning Commission Chairman Gene Svebakken said Grosse is the current holder of the deed, and there’s a right for a legal challenge for deciding who has control of the property.

 

“My understanding from our legal counsel is it is a valid application. If the courts need to sort this out, then the courts can do that.   That’s not the role of the Planning Commission,” he said.

 

Svebakken said the Planning Commission also plans to process the application for a special land use permit expected from Exclusive Healing.

 

The Planning Commission also tabled a request from Highway Horticulture out of Portage, Michigan, to operate a marijuana dispensary at 300 E. Ash St.

 

Svebakken said the paperwork submitted by the company appeared insufficient to constitute a full site plan, and postponing the hearing another month will allow a preliminary review to be completed.

Police Trying to Identify Bank Robber

(Michigan City, IN) - Police in Michigan City are still looking for a bank robbery suspect.

 

The robbery happened Friday morning at Fifth Third Bank on Franklin Street near Ames Field.

 

According to police, a man handed a note to a teller and fled with an undisclosed amount of cash before officers arrived.

 

No weapon was displayed, and nobody was injured, police said. 

Fingers Crossed, Fair Season Just Around the Corner

(LaPorte County, IN) - Planning for the LaPorte County Fair is full speed ahead.  4-H, amusement rides, demolition derby, and concerts, including Toby Keith, are among the normal activities that fair-goers will be able to enjoy.  The 175th LaPorte County Fair will take place July 10-17. 

 

This week the Indiana State Fair announced its progress.  Fair organizers are working with the State Department of Health to plan the event with COVID-19 precautions in mind. In addition, an additional weekend has been added to help spread out attendance.  The Indiana State Fair will take place from Friday, July 30, to Sunday, August 22.

Study Reveals Dangers in Indiana Workplaces

(State of Indiana) - Indiana may be a more dangerous state to work in than you think. 

 

According to a recent report by the AFL-CIO, Indiana ranks below average in terms of workplace deaths relative to size of workforce.  Indiana is 35th in terms of worker safety, according to the report, which reviewed 2019 data. 146 Hoosiers were killed on the job in 2019.  The study also found that, overall, jobs in agriculture, forestry, and wildlife led to the most fatalities.  Also, workplace violence was the third leading cause of workplace death.

 

The study mixes fact and political opinion.  US Department of Labor statistics show a 60% reduction in workplace death rates since the 90s, with the biggest improvements in mining, construction, and government workplaces.  According to the study, safety improvements initiated by President Obama were thwarted by deregulation in the Trump administration. "Now with a democratic majority in all of Congress," the study claims, "there are more opportunities for action on long-needed worker protection legislation."

 

The complete study can be found at the AFL-CIO website or by clicking here.

Road Work in North Liberty

(North Liberty, IN) - Roadwork in North Liberty will restrict traffic starting Monday. 

 

Resurfacing and preventative maintenance will take place on State Road 4 through town.  Traffic will be reduced to one lane with flaggers directing traffic.

 

The work is expected to last through early-July.

Temporary Closures Planned at Portions of Indiana Dunes

(Porter County, IN) - Portions of the Indiana Dunes National Park will have temporary closures for a few weeks.

 

Portage Lakefront and the Riverwalk area will be closed on weekdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning Monday.  That's a section of Dunes National Park adjacent to Ogden Dunes

Trucks will be delivering and installing large boulders needed to shore up the accessible ramp there.

 

The area will be open in the evenings after 4 p.m. and throughout the weekends.  The project is expected to be completed before Memorial Day weekend.

 

Several other nearby national park beaches will still be accessible during daytime hours.

State Trooper Fends off Violent Suspect

(Porter County, IN) - An Indiana State trooper held his own but was injured while fending off a suspect Wednesday morning.

 

At about 10:30 a.m. police pulled over a 2008 Ford Explorer on I-94 a few miles west of the LaPorte County Line.  The driver, 29-year-old Kyle T. Wright of Indianapolis, had an outstanding felony warrant.  While being taken into custody, Wright resisted arrest and allegedly tried to take the trooper’s handgun from its holster. 

 

Despite rips to his uniform and damaged equipment, the trooper was able to subdue Wright. According to police, the trooper sustained injuries to both of his hands. He was treated and released from the hospital.

 

A search of Wright’s vehicle turned up a loaded 9MM handgun with an extended magazine, along with suspected marijuana. 

 

Wright was charged with four felonies and three misdemeanors.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Dr. Vidya Kora

(LAPORTE, IN) -- Today's guest is Dr. Vidya Kora, an internal medicine doctor in LaPorte County and Hall of Fame member of the Indiana State Medical Association. Dr. Kora and Nate Loucks had a conversation about the COVID-19 virus and vaccines. In addition, Dr. Kora provided information about the various vaccines and their efficacy and answered questions from our listeners. 

 

Listen to the entire episode below: 

 

 

CREDITS: Jeff Wuggazer (Producer/Editor), Nate Loucks (Host), Dr. Vidya Kora (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.

Gun Use Also a Dollars and Cents Issue

(Michigan City, IN) - It’s possible the increase in gun violence in Michigan City could cause some bleeding to the local economy.  Clarence Hulse, Executive Director of the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, said he hears the concerns whenever there’s a shooting or some other issue involving crime.

 

He said an increase in crime can make the job of bringing in more visitors and jobs more difficult but police locally are doing their part to get a handle on the current gun violence situation.  “We’ve seen an increase in shootings but also there’s been an increase in law enforcement stopping people with guns,” he said.

 

A lot of the gunfire and shootings have occurred on the north side where new upscale housing efforts are focused.  Hulse said he does not believe the problems that have been occurring will be a deal breaker for developers interested in that area of the city because of the proven efforts of the police department and uptick in gun violence being throughout the region and nationwide.

 

Police in Michigan City recently created a special task force to help try and reduce the uptick in gun violence.

Pat on the Back for Jail Officers

(La Porte, IN) - People working in prisons and jails locally and throughout the nation are being recognized for their efforts.  It’s National Correctional Officers’ week nationwide under a declaration in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan.

 

La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd said correctional officers are often forgotten but they’re a major component of law enforcement.  “The risks they face both visible and invisible are unimaginable,” he said.  Boyd said the slaying of prison guard, Lt. Gene Lasco, at Indiana State Prison in Michigan City in February is a prime example of the dangers of the job. 

 

He also said five jail officers in the La Porte County Jail were assaulted last year and three officers have been assaulted, so far, this year.  "It’s crucial during the National Correctional Officers’ Week that we remember the importance of their mission and the dangers associated with their job,” Boyd said.

 

Local members of the Girl Scouts this week presented boxes of cookies to officers in the La Porte County Jail to give thanks to them for their dedication and efforts.

Water Line Flushing Begins Soon

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte Water Department will begin its twice a year water system flushing this weekend.  It begins Sunday and will continue for the next three to four weeks, said Water Department Superintendent Tim Werner.  Crews will be out flushing fire hydrants throughout the community Sunday through Friday between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. 

 

Werner said this process is critical to maintaining the city’s water quality and infrastructure.  “Hydrant flushing is a very important process in maintaining our current water infrastructure," Werner said. "Though it can be a bit of an inconvenience to residents, it is critical to ensure things are running properly and that our water quality remains high. We would like to thank residents in advance for bearing with us as we work our way through this process."

 

Werner warned that discolored or rusty water may occur in some areas during flushing.  He said though the water is safe to drink, discolored water in washing machines may affect clothing.  "Before doing laundry, residents should check the water first in order to prevent staining their clothes. If clothes do get stained, do not dry them. Give us a call and we can provide rust removing solution to residents who need it," Werner said.

 

Residents with questions can contact the Water Department at 219-326-9540.

A Bridge to La Porte's Glorious Past

(La Porte, IN) - He died 25-years ago and it’s been close to half century since his high profile Oakland A’s teams won three consecutive World Series.  Charlie Finley is back in spirit with a bridge named after him close to where he lived outside LaPorte.

               

Finley, who grew up in Gary, is in the first class of six La Porte County residents chosen to have their names go up on bridges under a new program honoring local citizens for their accomplishments.

               

The Charles O. Finley Memorial Bridge is on Johnson Road above the Indiana Toll Road.

 

Jim Arnold, a former Indiana State Senator and La Porte County Sheriff, lived just down the road from Finley who he got to know on a first name basis.  He said the honor is much deserved for a larger than life, blue collar figure who brought recognition to the city and gave back to the community.  “He put La Porte on the map,” Arnold said.

 

Finley was also famous for the A’s trademark green, gold and white uniforms along with the white shoes he introduced after moving the team from Kansas City in 1968.  He later stepped into the spotlight again by creating an orange baseball.  Believing orange was more visible under the lights, Finley pushed Major League Baseball to use the ball during night games but was unsuccessful.

 

Finley, a former steelworker, and La Porte seemed like the perfect marriage.  The city was built on manufacturing and their beloved Slicers were a powerhouse in high school baseball under legendary Head Coach Ken Schreiber. 

 

Mark Schreiber remembered trips his late father took to visit Finley in the Oakland A’s dugout when the team was in Chicago to play the White Sox.  Schreiber said white shoes worn by his father’s players became a tradition after Finley donated white shoes to the Slicers program. 

 

Finley also donated balls and other equipment.  “He had a lot of impact on the community and the community was really proud to have him as a resident especially in the years when the Oakland A’s were winning World Series championships,” he said.

 

La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody was growing up on baseball cards and watching the Oakland A’s teams with superstars like Reggie Jackson and Jim “Catfish” Hunter on TV when his father took him to see Finley at different functions locally.  Dermody said it was also neat to drive by Finley’s home and see the A’s logo carved into his shrubbery.

 

Finley later moved to a nearby farm on U.S. 35 where he annually staged huge live nativity scenes at Christmas.  People in cars lined up for about a mile sometimes waited to turn into his property to see the exhibit.

 

Dermody said Finley’s presence here was a source of pride for the community and living here during those days was “very cool.”

 

La Porte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski said he saw Finley just one time but it couldn’t

have been more special.  Mrozinski said he and several other Vietnam War veterans stepped into a bar together near Michigan City and there was Finley having a drink.  Finley was quick to express his gratitude for their service to the country.  “He bought us all a beer.  I thought it was pretty nice that he did that,” he said.

 

The outspoken Finley later made headlines by blaming free agency for having to sell many of his superstar players and later selling the team in 1980.

 

Also well documented were his nasty legal battles with Major League Baseball Commissioner Bowie Kuhn.  In his opinion, Arnold said only George Steinbrenner, the late owner of the New York Yankees, compared to Finley in terms of stature from a professional sports team owner.  Arnold said during his visits with him, Finley never acted like a celebrity and seemed to put his pants on one leg at a time.  “He would talk to anybody but there was never any doubt where he stood on anything,” he said.

 

OWI Arrest with Kids in Car

(La Porte, IN) - She had her kids in the car while driving erratically on a local highway.  Brandi Burkhart is now facing charges of Operating While Intoxicated in La Porte Circuit Court. 

 

According to La Porte County Police, another driver on April 27 reported the woman was traveling all over the roadway in a 911 call last week.  The caller followed the driver until the officer got there and pulled her over on U.S. 6 in Westville.

 

Police said Burkhart of Portage had a blood alcohol level of .18-percent.  The charge was upgraded from a Class A misdemeanor to a Level 6 felony because children were riding with her, police said.  Police said her two sons were in car restraint seats.

OWI Charges in Tree Collisions

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte area man who knocked over two trees is facing allegations of driving impaired.  David Wszolek made his initial appearance yesterday in La Porte Circuit Court.

 

According to police, he was the driver of a car that struck and knocked over two trees and

came to rest against a third tree in the 3200 block of North Fail Road in late October.  He had an alleged blood alcohol level of just over two times the legal limit.

 

Police said the charge was upgraded to a Level 6 felony because of a prior OWI conviction within the past 7-years.  Wszolek was not seriously injured.

New Life for Old Painting

(La Porte, IN) - An old painting of Stone Lake in La Porte is on public display. 

 

Parks Superintendent Mark Schreiber says it was painted in 1949.  It was donated by Bethany Lutheran Church pastor Dennis Meyer, who found the painting in his new home across from Stone Lake.

 

The painting did require some restoration but looks stunning with the trees around the lake in fall colors.  The painting is on display in the park department office.

Partners in Run for Strikeout Record

(New Buffalo, MI) - A flame throwing girls’ softball pitcher at New Buffalo High School wants to break her older sister’s records for strikeouts at the school. 

 

Ava Mullen seems to have a real chance.  Her blazing fastball and four other pitches in her repertoire give hitters little chance of making contact and she’s only a sophomore.  Mullen said she learned how to pitch from her older sister, Maggie, who graduated in 2014.

 

Maggie Mullen holds Bison records for 750 career strikeouts, 250 strikeouts in a season and striking out 20 of 21 batters in the single game.  “I always learned from her and got my techniques from her and I think that made me a better pitcher and inspired me to be a better pitcher,” Mullen said.  It also doesn’t hurt to have a steady glove behind the plate.

 

Kaitlyn Jones, who’s also a sophomore, had no time to waste in learning how to catch Mullen.  She knelt behind the plate for the very first time after nobody else on the team wanted to give it a try.  “Terrifying,” is how she described catching Mullen.

 

Jones, who had an interest in being a catcher in previous seasons, appears to thrive on being in the thick of the action, though.  Her style is much like the lunch pail approach of a construction worker reporting for a day’s work.  “I enjoy catching for her.  It’s fun.  It’s very interesting with all of the different pitches that she’s got,” she said.

 

Jones said she quickly learned her reaction time is what she had to work on the most because of how quickly she has to slap leather on the ball.  “I think she does a really good job especially since it’s her first time catching,” Mullen said.

 

Mullen was six-years old when she began pitching.  She threw harder than all of the other girls her age and still draws looks of fear in the faces of opposing batters.  Mullen also throws a rise ball, drop curve, screwball and change up.  She sharpens her pitching skills during twice week sessions with the same professional coach used by her sister.

 

Maggie Mullen went on to pitch at Northwood University at Midland.  Head Coach Jason Haskins said missing last season cancelled by COVID-19 hurts her chances of breaking her sister’s career strikeout mark.  He’s not ruling it out, though, because of how she dominates opposing hitters.

 

Her fastball clocked as high as 65 miles per hour from 43 feet to the plate is equivalent to a 90 mile per hour fastball coming in at 60 feet, six inches from the mound in baseball.  “She’s college level talent,” Haskins said.

COVID Weary Urged to Stay on Course

(La Porte County, IN) - Officials are responding to grumblings about still having to wear a mask in La Porte County.  La Porte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski said he hears the complaints but the COVID-19 restrictions have not loosened up everywhere.

 

Mrozinski said the La Porte County Health Officer makes the decision after consulting with local officials and even the governor recently advised that mask mandates continue.  He also said people locally are still dying from the virus.  “I guess we just continue to bite the bullet and do what we can and rely on the advice of our health professionals,” Mrozinski said.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Health, the positivity rate in La Porte County today stood at 9.5- percent.  Recently, the positivity rate here was slightly above 10-percent.

 

Six people have died in La Porte County since April 23, according to the ISDH.  La Porte County Commissioner Sheila Matias urged people to keep abiding by the restrictions to avoid a sharp rise in cases again with the end of the pandemic seemingly close.

 

She also asked people who have not been vaccinated to get their shots.  “We’re sick of it.  I get it.  We’re all fed up and we want to go back to life as we once had it, but we’re at the end of the line and we need to continue to be vigilant,” Matias said.

 

The comments from Mrozinski and Matias were made during Wednesday’s La Porte County Commissioners meeting.

Double Track Project Touches Down

(Michigan City, IN) - The downtown area in Michigan City looks like a major construction zone.  Preparations are being made to lay the double track for the South Shore Commuter line and make other improvements like a new state-of-the-art train station.

 

Clarence Hulse, Executive Director of the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, said the work right now involves relocating utilities to get ready for the start of laying the track.  “You’ll see a lot of boarded up buildings, both residential and commercial.  You’ll see a lot of utility trucks from NIPSCO and other companies that are rerouting water lines, gas line, power lines, fiber lines.  This is what we’ve been waiting for, the double track to take off,” he said.  Hulse said the double track should start being laid in August and the work is expected to take about two years to complete. 

 

Steps have also been taken to keep the public better informed about street closures related to the double track project.  The mayor’s office has been included in the pipeline of information from the South Shore commuter line.  Mayor Duane Parry made the request so people know in advance which streets are closed because of the work.  “I have the horse power here in the mayor’s office to do press releases, to get it on our webpage so the people of Michigan City know where they’re going to bump into a dead end at so they can plan their travel accordingly,” he said.

 

According to the mayor’s office, expect periodic street closures in the area of Michigan Boulevard, 8th Street and Wabash Street over the next three months.  Utilities are being relocated in that area for the upcoming laying of the double track.

Warning Signs for Rough Railroad Crossings

(Michigan City, IN) - Drivers are going to be better warned about some railroad crossings that will practically jar your teeth loose if traveling over them too fast.  Warning signs in Michigan City are going to be posted at the rough crossings on Ohio St. and Tilden Ave.

 

City Councilman Don Pryzbylinski, who made the request for the signage, said he sees the damage to vehicles like fallen mufflers and catalytic converters while traveling over the Tilden Avenue crossing quite a bit.  “I stop and pick that material up so people don’t flat tires going over those crossings,” he said.  He said drivers could also lose control of their vehicles if they don’t slow before venturing over the crossings.

 

Officials said they’ve been in contact with the CSX Railroad but they’re not sure when those crossings might be repaired.

Charlie Finley to be Honored on Bridge

(La Porte, IN) - A bridge is going to be named after a famous professional baseball figure from La Porte.  The late Charlie Finley will have his name posted on the Johnson Road bridge over the Indiana Toll Road.

 

Finley used to own the Oakland A’s.  He was owner when the A’s won three consecutive World Series in the early 70’s and when the team was moved to Oakland from Kansas City in the 60's. 

 

Finley owned a home not far from the bridge that will be dedicated in his honor.  He died in 1996.

 

Finley was also famous for coming up with an orange baseball so it could be seen better during night games.  The orange baseball was never put into play.

Phone Blamed for Chief Crashing Police Vehicle

(Michigan City, IN) - Questions are being raised about a crash involving a Michigan City Police Department vehicle.  According to a police report, Chief Dion Campbell was the driver.

 

On April 10, he struck a light pole at Mariners Way and Cobblestone Boulevard on the city’s west side south of U.S. 20.  According to the police report, Campbell told officers he took his eyes off the road when distracted by a phone message.  He then struck the pole in his police department issued Ford Explorer.  Damage to the vehicle was estimated at $2500. 

 

Police said a breathalyzer test revealed Campbell did not have any alcohol in his system.  The report did not reveal if the cell phone was in his hand or hands free.

Compromise Over Pride Flags at School

(Chesterton, IN) - A middle ground is being reached over the pride flag once hanging in a Chesterton school.  Rainbow flags in three classrooms at the middle school were taken down in response to complaints from parents and students with personal and political differences with the message they felt the flags conveyed. 

 

According to school officials, the order was issued because the flags had nothing to do with the curriculum in those classrooms and were a source of disruption in the learning environment.  Flag supporters said the flags were a way of letting LGBTQ students know who they could turn to for help and provided a sense of belonging.

 

Duneland Schools Superintendent Chad Petitt said a diversity and inclusion club was created to provide an area for students to feel included, safe and make friends.  Other things are being done such as more promotion about diversity and a tip line for administrators to learn about concerns. 

 

Meaghan Bailey, an advocate for the LGBTQ community, said she feels the school district is heading in the right direction but feels the flags should be allowed to go back up.

Next Chapter in Clean Up Might Target Smoke Shops

(La Porte, IN) - There’s discussion about reducing the size of what many people view as a black eye on La Porte.

 

During Monday night’s La Porte City Council meeting, Mayor Tom Dermody got the ball rolling by asking if there are too many smoke shops and vape stores on main thoroughfares such as Lincolnway and Pine Lake Avenue.   “Is that something better served in other areas of our business community,” he asked.  Dermody also wondered if the concentration of such establishments in highly traveled areas sends the wrong message about a community promoting a healthier style.  

 

La Porte County ranks toward the bottom out of the 92 counties in the state for the health of its citizens.  Dermody said existing smoke shops and vape stores would be allowed to stay where they are currently located, but new ones through zoning could be directed to other less visible locations in the city.

 

City Councilwoman Laura Cutler said she supported discussing the matter but wondered where site location restrictions and limits on their number would stop.  “I think you face some challenges.  Do we need more dollar stores?  Do we need more bars?  People have specific opinions about those things,” she said.

 

Officials said the city’s zoning ordinance would have to be revamped to direct new smoke shops and vape stores in the future to more behind the curtain locations.  Supporters also believe a high number of smoke shops and vape stores in well-traveled areas hurts the image of the city working hard at changing its image and wanting to further the momentum of attracting more upscale housing and tourists.

Another New Business Landing Downtown

(La Porte, IN) - A new business is coming to the heart of downtown La Porte.  A winery and bistro is going inside the old La Porte Sporting Goods store at 816 Lincolnway across from the historic courthouse. 

 

According to Mayor Tom Dermody, the business is called Water’s Edge and Bistro and should open in nine months or less.  Dawn and Rudy Melchiorre are the entrepreneurs.

 

Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, said the latest announcement continues the snowball effect of new businesses for the downtown that started a few years ago.  Initially, Cook said incentive programs to acquire buildings needing work was more of a factor in attracting investors.  Now, he said Investors are being lured mostly by the potential that’s more evident by the previous investments and new uses emerging from those structures.

 

“You’ve got new businesses that are actively looking for buildings in the downtown. You got new businesses that are getting ready to open much like the new winery that’s being discussed right now,” he said.

Drive Up Vaccination Clinic Returns

(La Porte, IN) - A drive up vaccination clinic is back in La Porte.  It’s in the parking lot of Maple Lane Mall where it was originally last month.  People receiving their first dose can return for their second shot.  The clinic is also for people needing their first dose.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said the drive up clinic is open today through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency and Indiana State Department of Health are

providing the drive up clinic.

 

Currently, Dermody said about one third of La Porte County residents are immunized against

the virus.

Charges For Angry Driver Striking Pedestrian

(La Porte, IN) - A man could go to prison for striking another person with his car in La Porte.  Francisco Camarillo of La Porte is charged with Level 5 felony Battery with a Deadly Weapon.

 

On April 26, police said Camarillo asked a man where he could get a COVID-19 vaccination.  The man, Robert Sears, replied that he didn’t know.  Police said Camarillo demanded to know and became so upset that he slammed into the back end of the man’s Dodge Charger and pushed it into a tree on Colfax St.

 

Sears got out of his car, started running and was allegedly hit by the car driven by Camarillo.   His leg wound up pinned between Camarillo’s vehicle and the guide wires of a telephone pole.  The victim was treated for a badly bruised leg and released, police said. 

 

Other charges filed against Camarillo in La Porte Circuit Court include leaving the scene of an accident and possession of marijuana.  He could face anywhere from a one to six year sentence on the most serious charge.

U.S. 30 Partially Open Following Crash

(Wanatah, IN) - Travelers are moving again on U.S 30 in La Porte County following an early morning crash.

 

According to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Iffice, one lane in each direction is now open.  U.S 421 was still closed in both directions.  Police said the crash involved two commercial vehicles at the intersection and clean-up from that wreckage was still ongoing.

 

We’ll provide more details on HometownNewsNow.com once they become available.

Three Time Indy 500 Winner Passes Away

(Indianapolis, IN) - Three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Unser has died.  Unser was 87.  The cause of death at his home in New Mexico was from natural causes.

 

"Bobby was a ferocious competitor on the track, and his larger-than-life personality made him one of the most beloved and unique racers we have ever seen," Roger Penske, owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, told the Associated Press.

 

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb also responded to the passing of a racing legend.  “The Unser name is synonymous with racing, and Bobby Unser carried that legacy proudly.  Indiana loved watching him race and be a part of the largest single-day sporting event.  He gave us some special moments at the Indianapolis 500.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the Unser family today as they grieve the loss of an incredible man,” he said.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: John Lake

(LAPORTE, IN) -- Joining the show was LaPorte Prosecuting Attorney John Lake. Lake was elected in 2018. Moving into his third year as the county prosecutor, discussions included updates on what the Prosecutor's Office is working on and reforming. Conversations included: marijuana legalization, sentencing guidelines, racial justice in the criminal justice system, and more. 

 

Listen to today's episode below: 

 

 

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

Spring Clean Up in La Porte Announced

(La Porte, IN) - If residents have not begun their spring cleaning, now is the time, according to La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody.   

 

Monday, May 10 through Friday, May 14, city residents will be able to discard of their large and heavy trash through the city's Spring Clean Up.  Dermody said this service plays a significant role in improving the community.

 

"Our goal from day one has been to clean up La Porte," Dermody said. "This service gives residents a chance to get rid of heavy trash and unwanted household items and keeps them from cluttering city dumpsters and streets.  We hope many will take advantage of this program." 

 

Dermody said COVID-19 safety guidelines from last year will still apply to protect RTS sanitation workers from the spread of the virus:

 

  • All trash must be securely tied in bags;
  • All mattresses must be fully wrapped in plastic or otherwise sealed/covered;
  • All large items, such as small furniture, must be fully wrapped in plastic or otherwise sealed/covered; and
  • Waste generated from construction, renovation, repair and/or demolition of residences will not be collected as part of Spring Cleanup.

Per CDC guidelines, RTS workers will not pick up any trash that is not in compliance. Residents with questions can visit www.LaPorte.RTS.com or call 833-787-1234, officials said. 

Cicada Invasion in Short Term Forecast

(Indianapolis, IN) - Brood X cicadas will begin to emerge within the next few weeks locally and throughout the state. 

 

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is advising Hoosiers to remain calm.  The fascinating phenomenon is normal and even though cicadas look gruesome and are loud and plentiful they are essentiall harmless, DNR officials said. 

 

Currently, DNR said there are 12 different broods of 17-year periodical cicadas consisting of three different species.  Each brood is designated by a Roman numeral.  This is the year of Brood X.  Brood X covers 15 states. Indiana is also home to two annual cicada species that emerge May through August and peak in July.

Brood X nymphs will emerge when the soil temperatures about 8 inches underground reach 65 degrees.  A warm rain will often proceed large-scale emergence.  “It’s thought that by emerging in such large numbers, they overwhelm would-be predators to ensure that enough of them will live long enough to reproduce and perpetuate the brood,” said Megan Abraham, director of the DNR Division of Entomology & Plant Pathology.

Male cicadas make the noise most often associated with cicadas by using a special organ called a tymbal. The purpose of the large choruses you hear is to attract females.

While cicadas can damage smaller-diameter branches of many species of trees and shrubs, treatment is not warranted in most cases.  If you have a small number of newly planted trees, they can be protected by covering them with netting.

 

With the Brood X emergence, you will eventually see cicada killer wasps, which are 2-inch-long predators of cicadas.  Like their scary-looking and loud prey, these beastly looking winged creatures are nothing to be alarmed about, despite their horror-movie looks, DNR said.  Cicada killers attack cicadas in mid-air and use their massive, strong stingers to penetrate their shell. Once stung, their prey is paralyzed, jetted back to the nest, and eaten by the cicada killer’s offspring grub.  Sometimes called cicada hawks, cicada killers are here every year, DNR said. 

 

More information is at https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/E-47/E-47.html.  According to DNR, you can be a citizen scientist and report cicada emergence by downloading “Cicada Safari” on your mobile device.
 

Study to Eliminate Food Deserts

(Michigan City, IN) - Lack of access to healthy foods is being studied in Michigan City.  The west and east sides of the city are designated "food deserts" because of poverty and lack of transportation to reach the nearest supermarkets several miles away.   The idea for the study is making access to healthy foods easier in those parts of the city.

 

The Economic Development Corporation of Michigan City is partnering with Purdue Extension on the effort.  Officials said Purdue Extension will help put together a survey to gather input and ideas on what the public wants to see in terms of easier access to healthier foods.

 

Experts said poor people without a supermarket nearby often buy less healthy food at convenience stores because of the difficulty reaching traditional grocery outlets.

Trial of Alleged Imposter to Begin

(Michigan City, IN) - A man pretending to be with local law enforcement is scheduled to stand trial this week.  Jeremy Brenman is charged in La Porte Superior Court 2 with impersonation of a public servant.

 

According to authorities, Brenman walked into the prosecutor’s office at the Michigan City courthouse in January of 2020.  The 48-year old Valparaiso man allegedly displayed a badge and wore an official looking jacket from the State’s Attorney Office in Cook County, Illinois.

 

According to authorities, he asked to speak to a prosecutor about a federal case he was working on.  He was allowed inside but soon asked to leave when the prosecutor’s office learned he was a retired prosecutor and had invasion of privacy charges in La Porte County pending against him.

 

Authorities are not sure about motive but it might have something to do with him violating protective orders for calls he allegedly made to his 27 year old girlfriend’s workplace.  Brenman could face an up to two and a half year sentence.

DNR Free Day

(Indianapolis, IN) - Sunday, May 2 is a free day for nature lovers across Indiana.  Admission to state parks, recreation areas, forests and reservoirs is free tomorrow.

 

It will also be a Free Fishing Day/  Free Fishing Day allows all Indiana residents to fish in the state’s public waters without a fishing license. All size and bag limits remain in effect.

Real ID Deadline Pushed Back

(Washington, DC) - The deadline for getting new federally-approved IDs has been pushed back again by the Department of Homeland Security.  Eventually, a special driver’s license or ID, known as a Real-ID, will be required for air travel and access to federal buildings and military bases.

 

The proper form of the license is distinguished by a star in the upper right hand corner.  It can be obtained by providing proper legal documents at the BMV and paying a fee of $17.50.

 

The deadline has for getting a Real-ID has been pushed back to May 3, 2023.  The original deadline of Oct. 1, 2020, was postponed for one year due to the pandemic.

South Shore Station Closed for Construction

(Michigan City, IN) - One of the South Shore train stations in Michigan City is closed for an extended period.  The 11th Street Station and its adjoining parking lots are closed now for construction on the double track project.

 

The site will be used for staging construction materials and contractor mobile offices.  Eventually a multi-story, multi-use building will be constructed there. The new structure will include parking facilities, retail space and high-level platforms.

 

Officials say the station will not reopen until 2024.  The Carroll Avenue Station will continue to operate.

Suspect Loses Pants in Police Chase

Michigan City, IN) - A fleeing suspect in Michigan City lost his pants and a foot race Tuesday night.  Near the area of Pine and 11th Streets, Michigan City Police stopped a Mercedes Benz, out of which popped a passenger who made a run for it.

 

Between buildings, four officers and a K-9 chased the suspect, who was later identified as 21-year-old Omar T. Glover of Michigan City. Glover tried to escape by jumping a fence behind a house, but his pants caught on the chain link, and he tumbled pants-less to the ground.

 

During the chase, officers recovered a handgun that Glover had allegedly dropped, along with suspected marijuana.  After further investigation, police later charged Glover with four counts of dealing cocaine.

 

The arrest was a result of the new Violent Crimes Reduction Initiative launched this year by Chief Dion Campbell in response to increased shootings around Michigan City.

 

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