Local News Archives for 2021-05

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.  An extra 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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