Local News Archives for 2021-06

Mobile Vaccination Clinic Open in Michigan City

(Indianapolis, IN) - A COVID-19 vaccination clinic is open in Michigan City this week.

 

It’s scheduled to be open through Saturday, July 3rd, at the Pentecostal Temple Church of God and Christ at 2722 Wabash Street.  The clinic provided by the Indiana Department of Health will be open each day from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

 

“This mobile vaccination site is one more way we are working to give all Hoosiers convenient access to COVID-19 vaccine in their communities,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box.

 

People 18 and over will have their choice of the Pfizer or Johnson & Johnson vaccines.  Children ages 12 to 17 will receive the Pfizer vaccine.

 

No appointment is necessary, IDH officials said.

Michigan City Police Officer Moving Up Elsewhere

(Chesterton, IN) - A long-time Michigan City police officer has earned a promotion in a nearby town.

 

Lieutenant Tim Richardson has been named the next chief of police in Chesterton.  He was unanimously chosen at a Chesterton town meeting Monday night.

 

The 50-year-old Richardson is a 26-year veteran of the Michigan City police force.  He will take over in Chesterton on August 16.

Graduation Rates Rise Despite Pandemic

(Indianapolis, IN) - Despite an unprecedented disruption to school schedules last year, college graduation rates actually improved.  That’s according to a survey just put out by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

 

According to the report, over 44% of all Hoosier college students graduated on time last year, which is up 2% since 2019.  Graduation also increased for students who take a bit longer to do it. 64% of college students needing more than four years eventually graduated, also up 2% from 2019.  A previous study from earlier this year, however, shows that college enrollment in Indiana continues to decline.

 

The goal of state education officials is for 60% of all Hoosiers to have a college degree or certification in the next four years.

La Porte Parade Lineup Set

(La Porte, IN) - The Kiwanis Club of La Porte, which is organizing this year’s 4th of July parade, has released the lineup for Sunday’s event. The entries and their order in the parade are listed below.

 

Parade participants will line up on East Lincolnway between Linwood and Boston. It will proceed west on Lincolnway starting at 1:00 p.m.

 

1 American Flag - Scouting B.S.A Sponsored by LaSalle Councel Scouting

2 Vietnam Veterans Inc., La Porte, IN

3 La Porte Co. 4048 La Societe' Veterans Honor Group

4 TBD

5 VFW Post 1130

6 American Legion Post 83

7 The Guardian Riders

8 The Great Lakes Museum of Military History

9 La Porte High School Marching Band

10 Mayor of La Porte of Tom Dermody

11 Kiwanis Club President and Parade Co-Chair Drummond Osborn

12 Kiwanis Club of La Porte - Celebrating 100th Anniversary

13 Indiana State Police

14 Indiana Conservation Officers

15 La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd

16 La Porte County Sheriff's Posse

17 La Porte County Emergency Medical Service

18 City of La Porte Police Department Chief Paul Brettin

19 La Porte Fire Department Chief Andy Snyder

20 Kankakee Twp Fire Department

21 Springfield Twp Fire Department

22 Kingsbury Volunteer Fire Department

23 Center Township Fire Department

24 Kingsford Union Volunteer Fire Department

25 Scipio Township Volunteer Fire Department

26 Hanna Township Volunteer Fire Department

27 Pleasant Township Fire Department

28 Noble Township Fire Department

29 Haverstock Funeral Home

30 State Senator Mike Bohacek District 8

31 La Porte Community Federal Credit Union

32 Pioneer Land

33 Rumely-Allis Chalmers La Porte Heritage Center

34 FND Pulling League

35 Sunday Farmers

36 La Porte High School Cheerleaders and Liftmen Sponsored by Suds for a Cause

37 Grand Parade Marshal Ashton Jackson, La Porte High School State Wrestling Champ

38 State Representative Jim Pressel

39 La Porte County Republican Party & Friends

40 Michiana Clowns

41 TBD

42 Grand Parade Marshal Jane Bernard, Retired Executive Director of LP Small Animal Shelter

43 La Porte County Happy Hounds 4-H Dog Club

44 Hoosier Star Sponsored by La Porte County Symphony Orchestra

45 La Porte High School Dance Team

46 Mrs. Crawford's Cruising Kitchen

47 Go Aerial Fitness

48 La Porte City Councilman Paul Vincent

49 Excelsior Lodge 41

50 TBD

51 Orak Shrine Oriental Band

52 96.7 The Eagle/Rock 106.5/HometownNewsNow.com - Sponsored by Spoon River Media

53 La Porte County Agricultural Assoc

54 La Porte County Fair Queen & Contestants

55 Miss Northwest Indiana USA 2021 Mikayla Eaton

56 Domino's Pizza

57 La Porte Lions Club

58 New Prairie High School Marching Cougars

59 New Prairie High School Cheer Sponsored by Suds for a Cause

60 Harvest Time Church

61 Carpenters Union Local 1485

62 The Pink Sheep Bahhhtique

63 Budweiser Clydesdales Sponsored by United Beverage and Bethany Church

64 Grand Celebration Marshal Frank Ray & Pine Lake Fireworks Sponsored by Bethany Church

65 TBD

66 Servpro of La Porte County

67 Boyer's Small Engine's

68 Arts in the Park

69 City of La Porte Park and Recreation Department

70 La Porte City Band

71 La Porte County Meals on Wheels

72 American Made Appliances Sponsored by Robert Tylisz Appliance

73 La Porte Municipal Airport

74 South Central Rockettes

75 Niles Scream Park

76 La Porte County Democratic Party

77 La Porte County Family YMCA

78 Bloom Greenhouse Grower Outlet

79 La Porte County Right to Life

80 Surf Broadband Solutions

81 Center Township Trustee/Resource Center

82 Garwood Orchards

83 Helena Agri-Enterprises; Northwest Indiana Group

84 Go Metz Farm

85 La Porte Pop Warner

86 Mangled Axles Jeep Krew

87 Lakeshore Recycling

Inmate Death at La Porte County Jail

(La Porte, IN) - Police are investigating the death of an inmate in the La Porte County Jail. The only information available at this time is contained in a news release issued Tuesday evening by the La Porte County Sheriff's Department.

 

According to the report, 45-year-old Joel Ohms was found unresponsive in his cell Tuesday morning.  After being transported to nearby Northwest Health, Ohms was pronounced dead just before 7:30 a.m.

 

Ohms had reported to jail Monday night to begin serving a series of three one-day sentences related to a drunk driving incident last year. He was scheduled to be released Tuesday night and return the following two Mondays.

 

No further information has been revealed about the incident, as an investigation into Ohms’ death continues. The Indiana State Police and the the La Porte County Coroner's Office are assisting.

Leaking Museum Roof Targeted or Replacement

(La Porte, IN) - The leaking roof on the La Porte County Historical Society Museum is slated for replacement.

 

Larry Levandowski, Director of Facilities for La Porte County government, said the roof on the museum is failing.  He asked the La Porte County Council Monday night for approval to move forward on the project.  “I don’t want to let this go much longer than what it has,” he said.  Levandowski said the cost would not exceed $150,000.

 

The council granted his request to begin doing all of the preparations necessary for placing a new roof on the museum which is home to a wealth of historic artifacts and other things like a collection of more than 20 antique vehicles.  The vehicles are owned by retired dentist Peter Kesling, who allowed his collection to be displayed at the museum.

 

Levandowski will go before the county commissioners to seek their approval for a new roof once he has all of the details on the project worked out.  He will then return to the county council at some point to seek final approval of the funds to pay the cost of roof replacement.

 

The majestic looking museum is on U.S. 35 at the southern edge of the La Porte city limits. 

Change in Leading Cause of Drug Deaths

(La Porte County, IN) - So far this year, a vast majority of the drug related deaths in La Porte County is not from heroin.

 

La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson says fentanyl is now the drug used by a vast majority of the people who died the first five months of 2021.  She said fentanyl is easier to get now than in years past and the price of the sometimes lethal drug has also come down.  “Fentanyl across the state has been more accessible. So, I think people are trying it and they’re finding out it just really isn’t worth it,” Swanson said.

 

Swanson said methamphetamine is the second leading cause of death in drug overdose cases, so far, this year in La Porte County.

 

20 people have died from drug overdoses in La Porte County this year through the end of May compared to 11 last year at the same point, she said.

Big Increase in Drug Related Deaths

(La Porte County, IN) - The number of people dying from drug overdoses in La Porte County is way up this year.  By the end of May, there were 20 overdose deaths with a majority of those happening in Michigan City.  There were 11 overdose deaths at the same point last year.

 

The information is from La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson, who believes the sharp rise might from job loss and feelings isolation brought on by restrictions during the pandemic.  She’s hoping for better days ahead with COVID-19 now easing up.  “I just hope things can start straightening out a little bit and we can all get back to what we knew as normal and maybe our numbers will start going back down again,” Swanson said.

 

Swanson said there were 15 suicides in La Porte County in the first five months of the year compared to eight at the same time last year.

Eviction Bail Out Program Approved

(La Porte, IN) - Paying back rent to keep tenants hurt financially by COVID-19 from being evicted in La Porte County has been approved on a trial basis.  Initially, $750,000 of the $21 million La Porte County government is receiving in American Rescue Funds was earmarked for eviction relief.

               

The final decision rested with the La Porte County Council which approved $100,000 to get the program rolling.  If things are running smoothly, more of the federal dollars will go to the effort.

               

The council did not want to commit the larger sum of money into a never tried before initiative with a system for verifying eligibility and making payouts still being worked out.  “I’m not comfortable until I know the procedures are in place,” said Councilman Mike Rosenbaum.  “This is what this is about. Weeding out people trying to milk the system and helping those with true needs,” said Council President Randy Novak.

 

The federal ban on evictions imposed from the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 is scheduled to be lifted at the end of July after several extensions.  Many landlords unable to collect their rent are ready to file eviction notices with the courts, officials said.  The intent is to keep people unable to pay rent because of COVID-19 inside their homes and to give landlords what they’re owed.  The state will pay up to 12 months of back rent.

 

However, the fear is eligible recipients could still be waiting for their state money when evicted.  Officials believe the local program can get money into hands before people are kicked out of their homes.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Sheila Matias said she was pleased despite the decision to start with a lesser amount of cash.  “We don’t have every single detail worked out.  We’ve had a lot of good thought about process and how to manage the funds.  We want to make sure they’re equitably distributed,” she said.

 

Right now, it appears landlords will have to file eviction notices with the courts which will appoint mediators working with both sides in each case to reach a settlement.  Trustees from Center and Coolspring Townships will apparently screen applicants from the entire county for eligibility and disperse the funds to parties in settlements approved by the courts.

 

Without the funds, another concern is putting a strain on local homeless shelters until evicted tenants find new homes.  Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski urged people at risk for eviction not to wait until the last minute to seek relief to avoid losing their homes from their own delay.  “It’s very hard once you are evicted to get into another apartment,” she said.

Fatal Crash in Parking Lot

(La Porte, IN) - Authorities are investigating a fatal motor vehicle collision in a La Porte parking lot.  49-year old Robert Womack was killed in the crash which occurred just before 6 a.m. on Sunday on Fail Road just north of East Lincolnway, according to La Porte Police.

 

Police said the investigation indicates Womack was driving at high speeds based on the statements of a man who claims to have seen the SUV driving past his residence at, perhaps, 100 mph. just prior to the crash.  The victim's SUV went off the road to the right and struck the back of two semi-trailers parked outside Harper Collins Return Center.

 

Womack, who lived about three miles north of the crash scene, was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.  Extensive damage to the SUV along with damage to the back ends of both semi-trailers was reported by Police.

 

The results of a blood alcohol test were still pending and might not be known for two to three weeks, said La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson.

 

Starbucks Opens in Downtown New Buffalo

(New Buffalo, MI) - Starbucks has opened in downtown New Buffalo and already seems to be a major driver of traffic on Whittaker Street.

 

The owner of the local coffee shop in the Starbuck chain is Marc Danesi.  Danesi is the longtime proprietor of another major downtown New Buffalo attraction, the Stray Dog Bar & Grill.  He described the flow of customers since opening Wednesday, June 23, as “unbelievable.  Overwhelming.”

 

Starbucks is inside the former home of The Clipper Ship Gallery.  Danesi said he had been negotiating with Starbucks about opening a location in New Buffalo for eight years.  “We just thought coffee was a good fit for here. So far, we’re on the right path,” he said.

 

He purchased and repurposed the two-story building that is now home to Starbucks.  The rest of the structure will contain two other soon-to-be-announced retailers along with apartments on the second floor once the ongoing renovation is completed. 

 

A lot of people coming to New Buffalo on a regular basis from out of town were shocked and excited to discover a Starbucks downtown, which is made up primarily of independently owned retailers.  “I was so surprised.  New Buffalo is like such a small town and Starbucks is a big corporation,” said Claire Bettag,18.

 

Bettag, who was visiting with her family from St. Charles, Illinois, ordered a strawberry flavored, non-coffee beverage then had a seat at one of the indoor tables.  “I think this is one of the nicest Starbucks I’ve been to,” she said.

 

Some downtown business owners are upset about Starbucks judging by social media posts.  They fear established businesses offering coffee will suffer from losing customers to Starbucks and it opens the door to more chain establishments coming and competing with other existing businesses. 

 

Danesi believes Starbucks will become an anchor store bringing more people into downtown for all business owners to share.  He also pointed out he and his 30 employees reside locally and a few chains like Subway and Coldwell Banker already exist downtown.

 

Starbucks is open year-round from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. seven days a week.  Danesi said business hours could expand at some point in the future and the Starbucks is in a strategic area in the center of downtown with heavy foot traffic to bring more activity to the central business district.

 

Starbucks also has an app informing travelers of the nearest location.   “If they come to New Buffalo for the first time then maybe they come back again.  Maybe they stay for dinner. Maybe they go to a local shop and by some clothing or grab a souvenir. All of that. Just trying to grow and create a buzz for the downtown,” he said

The SOUND OFF Podcast: A Conversation with Suzy Carpenter and Randy Novak

(LAPORTE, IN) -- On SOUND OFF today was the Business & Events Director of the LaPorte County Fairgrounds Suzi Carpenter and the LaPorte County Council President Randy Novak. The discussion included information about the fairgrounds, the difference between the operating entities at the fairgrounds, ideas for future expansion and growth, and much more.

 

Listen to the full episode below: 

 

 

CREDITS: Rik Anthony (Producer/Editor), Nate Loucks (Host), Suzi Carpenter (Guest), Randy Novak (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.

Storms Bring Fallen Trees and Limbs

(La Porte, IN) - Quite a few trees and limbs fell during  weekend storms that brought several inches of rain along with high winds.   

 

La Porte County Highway Department Superintendent Duane Werner says his crews responded to about 40 calls down trees and limbs which took down power lines in some cases.  Werner said most of the down trees and limbs were on Saturday.  “They were kind of spread out throughout the whole county again.  With these pop up storms, they come up anywhere and usually they’re pretty volatile at the beginning,” he said.

 

Werner says his crews were still cleaning up some the fallen trees and limbs that came down in storms the previous weekend.  He expects the clean-up to last for another two weeks or so because of the additional trees and limbs that came down this past weekend.

 

La Porte Street Department Superintendent Mike Frase said his workers responded to clean up just two fallen trees on Ohio Street and Michael Court.

 

About 2.5 inches of rain came down in the City of La Porte from Thursday through Sunday, according to official measurements by the water department. 

Fireworks Above Pine Lake on July 4

(La Porte, IN) - A July 4 fireworks show is planned once again over Pine Lake in La Porte.   The show is scheduled after a performance by musician Frank Ray.

 

The concert and lighting of fiireworks will occur on the Island of Pine Lake.  Lawn seating is reserved but the public is welcome to watch the fireworks show from their boats  The show is separate from the one planned by the La Porte Jaycees on July 3rd at the LaPorte County Fairgrounds.

 

The fireworks above Pine Lake was organized by Bethany Lutheran Church which felt the inaugural fireworks show above the water last year was successful enough to bring it back this July 4.  “People on boats. People all around the shoreline are going to enjoy a pretty spectacular show,” said Carrie Garwood, one of the organizers of the show from the church.

Just a Few Remaining Power Outages

(La Porte, IN) - There were just a limited amount of power outages this morning after a weekend of heavy rain throughout the area.

 

According to NIPSCO, just two customers were still without power this morning in La Porte.

In Knox, though, there slightly more than 200 customers without power at 6 a.m.  There were over 700 customers still without service throughout its entire service area this morning.

 

There were less than ten Indiana Michigan Power Company customers without power this morning in the Springville and Rolling Prairie areas.

 

About two and a half inches of rain came down in La Porte from Thursday to Sunday, according to the city’s Water Department, which keeps track and record daily precipitation amounts.

Cemetery of Innocents

(South Bend, IN) - It’s been two years since an abortion clinic returned to this area.  To bring attention to what they say is a community tragedy, Right to Life Michiana staged a silent protest in front of the facility in South Bend Friday.   Creating a "cemetery of innocents," volunteers placed hundreds of pink crosses along the roadside, representing the little lives lost in the abortion clinic over the past two years. 

 

Jackie Appleman, executive director of Right to Life Michiana, says they don’t want what goes on in the clinic to go unnoticed.  "In the two years of them being open, there have been more than 600 lives lost," she said. "So we put out a cross in memory of each life that has been lost at that particular Whole Women's Health.  And to put that in perspective, that's about 25 classrooms' worth of children that are no longer with us in this community."

 

Whole Women’s Health continues to operate without an official state health license, pending ongoing litigation.  Appleman says the St. Joseph County Health Department is currently investigating whether unauthorized medical procedures are going on there.

DNR Recommends Removing Bird Feeders

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indiana Department of Resources is monitoring a spate of songbird deaths across the state. 

 

Fifteen counties, including nearby Lake and St. Joseph Counties, have been pinpointed for reports of sick and dying songbirds.  In response, the DNR is temporarily removing all bird feeders at state park nature centers, inns and park offices. They are recommending all Hoosiers do the same until the situation is fully understood.

 

The cause of the deaths is currently unknown.  According to the DNR, the affected birds showed neurological signs of illness as well as eye swelling and crusty discharge. Samples submitted to the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory tested negative for avian influenza and West Nile virus.

 

The DNR recommends the following steps statewide:

• Use the DNR sick/dead wildlife reporting tool at on.IN.gov/sickwildlife to alert DNR staff.

• Stop feeding birds until the mortality event has concluded.

• Clean feeders and baths with a 10% bleach solution.

• Avoid handling birds. If you need to handle birds, wear disposable gloves.

• When removing dead birds, wear disposable gloves and place birds and gloves in a sealable plastic bag to dispose with household trash.

• Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a precaution.

 

Additional information will be shared when final diagnostic results are received. Report sick birds and learn more at on.IN.gov/songbirddeaths.

Local Unemployment Numbers Show Turnaround

(La Porte County, IN) - Local unemployment numbers are improved drastically from last year, but are still a little worse than surrounding areas.

 

According to the most recent figures from Indiana’s Department of Workforce Development, unemployment in La Porte County in May stood at 6.2%, up just a tick from April, but less than half of what it was (15.2%) last May.

 

La Porte’s labor force is back to levels from a year ago, and over 4,000 more people are working now than this time last year.  La Porte lags behind neighboring counties Porter and St. Joseph, which have unemployment rates of about 5%. 

 

One reason for the lag is Michigan City’s job market, which seems to be slower to recover. Michigan City’s unemployment rate stands at 8.4%.

 

Read the full report at http://www.hoosierdata.in.gov/docs/state/lfe/2021/lfemth05.pdf.

Judge Puts Unemployment Benefits Back in Play

(Indianapolis, IN) - Federal unemployment benefits that expired in Indiana in June are now back on the table. 

 

On Friday a Marion County judge found in favor of two groups representing unemployed Hoosiers who filed suit against the state.  The ruling suggests that the state’s rejection of federal unemployment benefits violates state law.

 

The governor’s office issued a statement Friday night:  "The state of Indiana took the appropriate steps to terminate its participation in [the] federal pandemic unemployment program.  The agreement ended on June 19.  The Governor and Department of Workforce Development will discuss an immediate appeal of the judge’s order with the Attorney General.”

 

At stake are benefits like the extra $300 weekly add-on and support for workers not usually covered by unemployment, such as the self-employed.  When and how those CARES Act benefits will kick back in for Hoosiers may depend on how quickly the state's appeals process goes.

 

COVID Relief Spending Help Hired

(La Porte County, IN) - A financial expert will guide La Porte County government in its spending of federal COVID-19 relief funds.  Cender & Company out of Merrillville has been hired.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski said an expert is needed to explain exactly how the funds can and cannot be spent because of the rules being complicated.  “There’s a lot of stipulations that come with this money.  They don’t just say, here.  Go ahead and have a good time,” he said.

 

Mrozinski says about half of the $21 million will go to replenish county funds depleted by spending caused by the pandemic.  Decisions on the remainder of the cash will come later.

 

“We want to make sure we’re doing this right.  You don’t want to get in trouble spending federal money the way it’s supposed to be,” he said.

Fireworks Show in Michigan City Announced

(Michigan City, IN) - The July 4 fireworks show in Michigan City is back after cancelled last year by COVID-19.

 

According to the mayor’s office, parking is available at Washington Park on a first come first served basis.  People can also park along the streets in the downtown area.

 

Mayor Duane Parry said the fireworks show presents another opportunity for the public to gather following the Summer Parade last week.  “Now we can come together again and celebrate Independence Day with our spectacular fireworks show at your beautiful lakefront,” he said.

 

Parking at Washington Park is free with a park sticker.

Delinquent Tenants Urged to Seek Relief

(La Porte, IN) - People behind in their rent because of COVID-19 are urged to seek assistance.  The federal eviction ban, which was due to expire on June 20, has been extended through July.

 

Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski says there is funding available but many

renters have not applied and hopes they use the extra month to get the process of relief started.  Pierzakowski said one COVID-19 relief program offered by the state pays up to 12 months of back rent.  “Get in and we’ll help you get started on that Indianahousingnow.org.

 

Pierzakowski says many landlords have not been paid by tenants impacted financially by the pandemic for six months or more and they’re ready to serve eviction notices once the eviction ban is lifted.

 

She said pandemic related qualifications include being hurt financially by job loss, sickness and not returning to work to take care of children at home.

Solutions Proposed to Reduce Drownings

(Michigan City, IN) - A meeting was held in Michigan City to discuss potential solutions to make being in the water safer.  There have been two recent drownings and a 14-year old pulled from the water over a week ago was last reported on life support.

 

There are no life guards at Washington Park this year due to lack of qualified applicants.  Parks Superintendent Ed Shinn said lifeguard shortages are a problem in other Lake Michigan communities and nationwide.

 

Shinn felt the number one solution is making sure everyone coming to the beach knows about the dangers of Lake Michigan.  He said most drowning victims are from outside the community and don’t know the risks involved with entering the water.  “They don’t understand the deadly rip current,” Shinn.

 

Other potential solutions discussed included providing lifeguards and jet ski patrols on the water.  City Councilman Don Pryzbylinski proposed the placement of life rings along the beach for anyone to grab to try and help someone struggling in the water.  He said life rings already existing along the lighthouse pier.

Picture During Search Leads to Arrest

(La Porte County, IN) - A suspected thief was arrested Thursday near Michigan City during a foot pursuit.

 

According to La Porte County Police, the apprehension was made after a photo of the suspect was released to the public.  Police said the man being photographed in the area of U.S. 20 and 400 West in Springfield Township. 

 

Further details were not provided.  However, police radio communication during the time of the search revealed a child’s back pack was stolen.  There was also mention of a burglary and school in that area.

 

La Porte County Police remind people to lock the doors on their homes and vehicles to deter thieves.

Normalcy Announced in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - It’s back to normal for the most part in Michigan City beginning Monday.  According to the mayor’s office, mask, social distancing and capacity restrictions will loosen further in places like City Hall.

 

Here’s a list of guidelines provided by the mayor’s office that soon go into effect.

 

Masks

  • Fully vaccinated individuals can resume activities without wearing a mask except in places where the federal government requires it — like nursing homes, public and health care facilities — or where a business or workplace requires it.
  • People who are not fully vaccinated should continue to wear a mask in crowded settings. It is also recommended that unvaccinated individuals wear masks when around youth, who are not yet eligible for the vaccines.
  • People who are immunocompromised should consider wearing masks when in settings where other people might not be fully vaccinated.
  • Businesses and workplaces can still require masks on their premises if they choose. Businesses should support customers and employees who choose to keep wearing a mask.

What’s Open

  • All businesses and restaurants can reopen with no restrictions.
  • Large events, like festivals and conventions, can return without capacity restrictions.
  • Large gatherings can resume, including weddings, church services and parties with large crowds.
  • Our Lakefront and zoo are fully open
  • Businesses can continue to implement their own mitigation strategies — including requiring social distancing and masks — if they choose.

Eviction Ban Extended

(Washington D.C.) - Renters who have fallen behind in their payments during the pandemici received some good news today. 

 

The nationwide ban on evictions has been extended.  It was supposed to expire June 30.  However, the Centers for Disease Control extended the eviction ban until the end of July.

 

Officials say more than 10 million Americans are still behind in their rent despite the pandemic fizzling out.

More Focus on Minority Hiring

(La Porte County, IN) - More minorities could be hired by La Porte County government in the future.  There’s a proposal to hire a full time staff member to make sure minorities are equally represented in the workforce and any job related complaints based on race are thoroughly investigated.

 

The hiring of an Equal Employment Opportunity Officer has already been approved by the La Porte County Commissioners.  La Porte County Commission president Rich Mrozinski said the new position would be part of the Human Resources Department which is too short staffed to give EEO related tasks adequate enough attention.  “They’re overworked.  They need help,” he said.

 

Mrozinski said the effort to hire more minorities is already there but job openings when posted don’t receive much response from a diversity standpoint.  He said a full time EEO person might be able to reach out in other ways so minorities know about job openings and encourage them to apply.

 

The La Porte County Council is expected to take a final vote on the proposed hiring at its next meeting on Monday.  

Public Invited to Contribute to Parade

(La Porte, IN) - There’s still an opportunity for the public to help offset the costs of the Fourth of July parade in La Porte.

 

In previous years, advertising in flyers about the parade were sold to help pay the expenses.  Advertising in the brochures is still being offered but companies and individuals are asked to dig a little deeper because there just hasn’t been the time necessary this year to sell as many ads, said Drummond Osborn, Chairman of the Kiwanis Club of La Porte.

 

The Kiwanis Club of La Porte stepped in to organize and run the parade after the La Porte Jaycees recently decided not to host the parade as it has for decades because of being shorthanded from declining membership.

 

Osborn said the ads are more expensive but they are larger and come with exposure on the Kiwanis Club of La Porte website and other information sources.  “We’ll also do a number of banners throughout the parade thanking those sponsors,” he said.

 

Osborn said the advertising packages run from $1,000 to $2,500.

Gate Opens for New Westville Prison

(Indianapolis, IN) - A Westville prison appears to be on the way.  A state budget committee has approved the spending of $400 million to rebuild the prison.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Correction, the 76 year old prison will be demolished and rebuilt at the same site.  The prison holds about 3,700 offenders.  It was originally constructed as a mental health facility.

 

Funding was included in the 2022-23 budget approved by the state legislature and signed by the governor.

Flat Tire OWI Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - A woman allegedly drove 20 miles on a flat tire at a high rate of speed before crashing near Westville.

 

31-year old Sara Coetzee is charged with operating while intoxicated.  According to police, another driver saw her traveling on a flat tire on the Indiana Toll Road in Portage about 6:30 a.m. on Sunday.   It was very foggy when she crashed through a toll plaza gate at the Westville exit.  Police say she was traveling U.S 421 still at high speeds when her Jeep overturned near Indiana 2. 

 

The Valparaiso woman was not injured.  Her alleged blood alcohol level was just under two times the legal limit.

Hand Grenade Safely Disposed Of

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte County man found what turned out to be an old hand grenade in his house.

 

Officers were called Friday afternoon to Bootjack Road near Rolling Prairie.  According to police, the man had no idea he was living with a hand grenade until finding it in his mother in-law’s bedroom.  She said the hand grenade was a keepsake from World War II and it belonged to her brother, according to police. 

 

The hand grenade, in the house for several years, was taken to the La Porte County Fairgrounds

and safety detonated.

Another Alleged Unlucky Drug Mule

(La Porte County, IN) - Another major marijuana bust has occurred on the Indiana Toll Road near Rolling Prairie.  This time, about 60 pounds was seized from a car.

 

21-year old Lucky Curry is charged with level 5 felony dealing in marijuana.According to police, the marijuana was found after he was stopped for erratic driving.  Curry told officers he was transporting the pot from California to Washington DC and was doing it for the money because he’s in college and needs the cash.  Police say the vacuum sealed packages of marijuana were inside two duffel bags and a suitcase.

 

Five days before that, police say nearly 200 pounds of marijuana was recovered from a

car in about the same location.  Police say there was an excessive amount of air fresheners inside the car but they failed to  plug the keen sense of smell from a drug sniffing dog.

Charges in Fatal Weekend Crash

(Starke County, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with a fatal motor vehicle collision

in Starke County over the weekend.

 

46-year old Paul Howard of Rochester is charged with three counts.  They include causing catastrophic injury while driving with a controlled substance in his blood and operating while intoxicated.

 

50-year old Ginger Kring of Knox died in the crash Saturday night at State Road 23 and Toto Road.  According to police, she was in a vehicle driven by a man who claimed he looked both ways then pulled out into the intersection but didn’t see the oncoming vehicle until it was too late to stop. 

 

The man charged in the crash gave what appears to be a similar account of the crash.  Howard was being held on $25,000 bond.

Vehicle Sought in Home Robbery

(Michigan City, IN) - Police continue to investigate the robbery of an 85-year old woman at her Michigan City area home.  Investigators are looking for a suspected getaway vehicle in hopes of solving the case.

 

Officers on Thursday were called to the 9000 block of West Pahs Road.  Authorities said the woman was forced to the ground while her residence was ransacked and robbed.  Police dispatch information also indicates the woman was hit on the head with a gun when she answered her doorbell.  Apparently, she was on the floor for a couple of hours before police were contacted.

 

La Porte County Police have released the photo of a pick-up truck that might have been involved.  According to police, the truck was seen being operated recklessly on Pahs Road shortly after the incident.  Anyone with information is asked to contact La Porte County Police.

 

Officer Recognized for Disarming Gunman

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte City Police officer has been recognized for bringing a very dangerous situation involving a loaded gun to a safe end.  Patrolman Brandon Wilkerson has been given a Medal of Distinguished Service. 

 

In April, police were responded to domestic disturbance at a home.  At some point, a man walked out of the front door pointing a loaded rifle at officers, said La Porte City Councilman Tim Franke.

 

Franke commended Officer Wilkerson for his actions during last night’s La Porte City Council meeting.  “He was able to disarm him peacefully. A job well done,” he said.

 

The La Porte Police Merit Commission presented Wilkerson with the award earlier this month.  Franke is a city council liaison to the commission.

Food Collection Goes On Despite Thief

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte City Police are looking for a thief who seems to have a cold heart.  The La Porte Salvation Army was the victim. 

 

A van the charitable organization uses to collect food from local supermarkets and restaurants for the needy had its catalytic converter taken sometime over the weekend.  A volunteer, about to make a food run, made the discovery Monday after starting the engine of the van outside the Salvation Army on Monroe Steet and hearing the exhaust system blaring.

 

Salvation Army Chris Karlin says it’s troubling to be among the victims in a rash of catalytic converter thefts because the van is heavily relied on to serve the less fortunate.  The van is used to collect about 10,000 pounds of food every week.  “It’s definitely disheartening that somebody would do this,” he said.

 

Catalytic converter thieves often use cutting tools to remove the air pollution reduction devices from the metal exhaust systems of vehicles and sell them for their high scrap value.

 

Fortunately, Karlin said the runs continued because of volunteers offering their pick-up trucks to use to gather the food.  Karlin said a local mechanic is putting on a new catalytic converter and he expects to have the van back today to resume the food runs.

Air Fresheners Fail to Plug Nose of Drug Sniffing Dog

(La Porte County, IN) - A large amount of air fresheners didn’t stop a police dog in LaPorte County from sniffing out a shipment of nearly 200 pounds of marijuana.  Jonathan Chamnichanh, 30, is charged in LaPorte Superior Court 1 with Level 5 felony Dealing in Marijuana.

 

The man from Buffalo, New York was released from the La Porte County Jail on June 18 after posting $15,000 cash bond.  The huge bust on June 13 was made on the Indiana Toll Road near Rolling Prairie.

 

According to La Porte County Police, the suspect was driving a car was stopped for speeding and erratic driving.  Police said a K-9 was brought out to conduct a free air search due to suspicions and alerted to the potential presence of drugs.

 

Large cardboard boxes and duffel bags containing vacuum sealed packages of marijuana were allegedly recovered from the vehicle.  All of the marijuana weighed 195 pounds, police said.

 

Police said the investigation shows the man traveled from New York to the West coast to retrieve the marijuana judging by the over 4,000 miles racked up on his odometer over a several day period.  He allegedly was heading back to New York to deliver the pot.

 

According to police, the man did not admit to being a drug mule but said he was under financial hardship when given “an opportunity.”  Police said the vehicle also contained an excessive amount of air fresheners which did little, if anything, to mask the dog’s keen sense of smell.

State Capital for a Day Tradition Continues

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte is once again the state capital on the Fourth of July.  It’s been declared by Governor Eric Holcomb.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody read the proclamation from the governor during Monday night’s La Porte City Council meeting.  The announcement was met with applause from the audience.

 

In his proclamation, the governor also recognized the La Porte Kiwanis Club for taking over the parade after the La Porte Jaycees recently decided not to host it after more than 70-years of putting on the parade.  The parade is often recognized as the largest in the state. 

 

La Porte has been the state capital on July 4 for decades.  

Fatal Head On Crash with Semi

(South Bend, IN) - A Chesterton man was killed in three vehicle crash on the Indiana Toll Road.  According to Indiana State Police, 75-year old Terry Hiestand was pronounced dead at the scene.

 

Police said his car and another vehicle heading in the same direction collided.  Both vehicles then veered into the opposite lanes where Hiestand collided with an oncoming semi-truck and his car burst into flames, police said.  Police said he was ejected from the vehicle.

 

The accident happened about 10 a.m. Saturday at South Bend.  Police said alcohol and drugs were not factors in the collision and there were no other injuries.

Crows Fleeing Linked to Noise Maker

(La Porte, IN) - It looks like crows and the mess they leave behind at the courthouse in La Porte might be a thing of the past.

 

Crows used to gather seemingly by the thousands every night before flying back out during the day.  However, the crows have not congregated at the courthouse since April when a device producing sound waves was installed in the bell tower of the courthouse.

               

Larry Levandowski, Director of Facilities for La Porte County government, said humans cannot hear the sound waves but crows do and they flee because of the disruption.  "Once they hear it a few times they stop coming back to those areas. We’ve been able to keep the crows from cohabitating in the trees and stuff in that area,” he said.

 

Levandowski said the device has not been taken down.  It’s going to stay up to prevent chances of the crows coming back, he said.  “if they decide to come back we want to make sure we’re all set up for hit and we don’t have this problem again in the future,” he said.

 

The action was taken in response to complaints about the courthouse and sidewalks being coated with crow waste.

Cruise In Attendance Roughly 2,000

(La Porte, IN) - An outdoor event drawing an estimated two thousand people to downtown La Porte wasn’t just about the automobiles and live music from days gone by. 

 

The 50’s Cruise In was a time to celebrate being physically together again without masks.  “It’s just nice seeing people walking around with a smile on their face.  It seems like it’s been forever,” said State Representative Jim Pressel of Rolling Prairie. 

 

Sarah Zaiko made the drive from Portage with her teenage children, Brianne and Alex, and their friends, Veronica and Michael Malloy.  They were dressed in 1950’s style clothing and moved to the beat of 50’s and 60’s rock & roll performed by Spike and The Spitwads.  The band stage along with the dancefloor was in the intersection of State and Monroe streets closed for the Friday night gathering.  “The live music is awesome.  Wonderful.  It’s so much fun out here,” said Zaiko, a special education teacher at Westville Elementary School.

 

The owners of more than 50 antique vehicles parked their automobiles beside each other for the stream of people strolling in on foot to see.  There was also craft beer from Burn ‘Em Brewing along with wine and food from other vendors to purchase.

 

Richard Parrette of La Porte pulled in behind the wheel of his shiny, baby blue 1956 Lincoln Premiere 2 door hard top.  Parrette said the vehicle was in great shape when he bought it seven-years ago from a retired physician but he gave the paint job a slight touch up.  He also had a new engine, transmission and other parts like shocks put on it along with a set of new tires.  “She’ll cruise the highway at 65 miles per hour with no problem. No problem,” he said.

 

No longer restricted by mask mandates and social distancing, people seemed to relish greeting others with a handshake and engaging in some extended chit chatting or dancing.  “We spent a whole year inside due to COVID so it just feels really good to be outside and getting back to normal,” said Katie Dermody, Community Relations Manager for the La Porte County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

 

The first ever 50’s Friday Night Cruise In was put on by the city to welcome life getting back to normal.  It also served as a kick-off to other upcoming summer activities such as the inaugural Lakefest in La Porte on July 30 to August 1 and the annual Great Lakes Grand Prix in Michigan City scheduled August 4-8.  The Great Lakes Grand Prix featuring powerboats racing at well over 100 miles per hour and other summer events were cancelled last year because of coronavirus.

 

La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody was thrilled so many people came out for what he described as the first “post pandemic” gathering of the season.  “What a turn out.  It’s just amazing.  People in La Porte love this,” said La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody.

Another Michigan City Drowning

(Michigan City, IN) - A girl drowned in Michigan City over the weekend.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, an 11 year old girl and two other individuals on Saturday were in the water at Washington Park.  They began struggling about 8 p.m.

 

Police said two "Good Samaritans" assisted two of them to the shore then discovered the 11-year old child child was still missing.

 

Her body was recovered less than an hour later. 

 

A 14-year old girl pulled from the water in Michigan City the next day was fighting for her life. 

 

DNR officials said that girl along with familiy members were struggling in the water Saturday afternoon.  The teenager was found by a jetskier about ten minutes later and transferred to a South Bend hospital where she was last reported in critical condition and on life support. 

 

A 28-year old Portage man drowned a week ago at Washington Park which is not lifeguarded this year with lack of qualified applicants cited for the decision.

Limited Storm Damage in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - There are no street closures in La Porte this morning following strong overnight storms.

 

La Porte Street Department Superintendent Mike Frase said there were seven medium sized

tree limbs down on 5th Street and parts of the east side and north side during the night.  He said crews removed the limbs and reopened the streets before sunrise.  “We got them pushed off during the night and I got my crew out cleaning them up," he said.

 

Frase said the fallen limbs landed in the street and was not aware of any fallen trees or limbs

on vehicles or homes.

I & M Customers Without Power from Storms

(La Porte County, IN) - Some customers of Indiana Michigan Power Company were also without power this morning because of strong overnight storms.

 

According to the utility company, there were about 200 customers without power this morning in the Springville area and over 400 customers without service in the New Carlisle area.

 

There were also more than 400 customers without power this morning in the New Buffalo area and close to 900 customers without power in the Lakeside area.

La Porte Girl Among Tubing Accident Victims

(Eden, NC) -  A 14-year old La Porte girl was among the people killed in a tubing accident.  This happened on a river in North Carolina.

 

According to authorities, Sophie Wilson and eight other family members were on inflatable tubes that went over a dam on Wednesday.  This happened on the Dan River in the northern part of the state. 

 

Authorities say the bodies of Wilson and two other individuals in their late 20’s and early 30’s from North Carolina were soon recovered.  A seven-year old boy and 35-year old woman also from North Carolina were still missing but the body of one of those people was recovered on Sunday.

 

Two of the survivors, 35-year old Reuben Villano and Karlos Villano were also from La Porte.

 

According to authorities, the victims on tubes got caught in fast moving water and went over the dam.

Strong Storms Produce Power Outages

(La Porte County, IN) - NIPSCO is reporting more than 40,000 power outages in its northern Indiana service area this morning.  The outages are from strong storms overnight.

 

According to NIPSCO, there were over 1,600 outages in the La Porte area at 6 a.m. this morning

and 370 in the Michigan City area.  NIPSCO says there are more than 600 power outages in Westville, over 400 outages in the Union Mills area and more than 1,400 outages in the Walkerton area.  There were also more than 80 outages at 6 a.m. in the Rolling Prairie area.

 

La Porte County Highway Department Superintendent Duane Werner said crews have been out

since midnight reopening roads blocked by fallen trees, limbs and power lines.  Werner said just a handful of roads such as Small Road were still closed this morning.  “It’s bad enough as it is but we have seen worse,” he said.

La Porte Cruises In to Summer

(La Porte, IN) - Last night, downtown La Porte took a time machine back to the fabulous 50s.

La Porte hadn’t seen so many poodle skirts since Eisenhower was in office.  A 50s-style cruise-in brought the downtown to life.  The sights and sounds of a bygone era brought smiles to everyone’s faces.

 

At the corner of State and Monroe, Spike and the Spitwads played all the best oldies.  State Street became Memory Lane for La Porte's Ron and Teresa McQuillin, who danced cheek to cheek in the middle of the street.  "We like this kind of music," admitted Ron. "And we actually have a thirty-year-old convertible that we like to cruise around in too."

 

"And it's a beautiful night," his wife added. The couple, who is going on 35 years of marriage, said the atmosphere took them back to the days of school dances and the many weddings they've had fun at over the years.

 

Over a dozen contestants competed in the 50s costume contest. La Porte's Jordan Hoops and her nineteen-month-old niece Heaven took the top prize.  Hoops says she came for the cars, but stayed for the costumes. "We've never dressed up like this before; this is a first," she chuckled. "I'm a big car fanatic; I'm a motorhead. My niece likes cars just as much as I do." As for her get-up, Hoops credited Amazon and an elderly friend who gave her some advice.

 

Music and dancing continued well into the night with La Porte's downtown providing the perfect backdrop to a trip back in time.

La Porte Brothers Get Proper Burial

(Honolulu, Hawaii) - The mortal remains of two La Porte brothers who were lost at Pearl Harbor have finally been properly laid to rest.

 

Harold and William Trapp grew up in La Porte, joined the Navy together, and went down with the same battleship.  For nearly 80 years, their bones were mingled with others, until DNA testing identified them recently.

 

On Tuesday, caskets with their remains were buried together and marked with headstones at Punchbowl Cemetery in Hawaii.  According to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 12 family members were present at the ceremony, along with 75 uniformed service members.

Help for Rural Restaurants

(St. Joseph County, IN) - Restaurants in some unincorporated local areas can get a shot in the arm financially.

 

The South Bend Chamber of Commerce and St. Joseph County government are offering grants up to $2000 for qualifying rural eateries.  The goal is to support restaurants in outlying areas that might not have received as much support during the pandemic.  Such areas include New Carlisle, North Liberty, and Walkerton, among others.

 

To qualify, restaurants or bars in those areas must have been open through most of 2020 and have a valid county food permit.  The application can be found online at http://sjcindiana.com/igr

Teacher Unions Suing Indiana

(Indianapolis, IN) - Three teachers unions in Indiana are challenging a new state law that they say curtails the collection of union dues.

 

The law, which goes into effect July 1, creates a new system for renewing union dues payments. Teachers will have to fill out state-provided forms and submit them to school administrators, rather than deal directly with their union.  The teachers unions contend that such a process is not required for other unionized workers in Indiana.

 

Three unions, in Anderson, Avon, and Martinsville, filed a federal lawsuit against the state this week.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Retirement in America

(LAPORTE, IN) -  According to the 2019 Planning & Progress Study from Northwestern Mutual, almost one in five Baby Boomers have less than $5,000 set aside for retirement. Some in Washington suggest that reforms need to be made to the two primary governmental benefits: social security and Medicare. Today on SOUND OFF, we talked about YOUR ideas for reform in America's retirement system. 

 

Listen to the entire episode below: 

 

 

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

 

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

PNW Recognizes Top Students

(Hammond, IN) - Purdue University Northwest’s 2021 spring semester Dean’s List recognizes 1,792 undergraduate students for their academic achievement. 

 

Students who have completed 12 credit hours, including at least six during the spring, qualified for Dean’s List recognition by sustaining an overall grade point average of at least 3.5 and a semester grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

 

The spring semester Dean’s List consists of 1,221 Indiana residents from 87 communities; 450 Illinois residents from 173 communities; 33 residents from Wisconsin; 14 residents from Michigan; six each from California and Ohio; four each from Florida and Iowa; three from Minnesota; two each from Arizona and Washington; and one each from South Carolina and Texas.

 

PNW’s international students were strongly represented on the Dean’s List as well. They are as follows: nine students from China; five students from Spain; four from India; three each from Canada, Germany, Mexico and Saudi Arabia; two each from Brazil and South Korea; and one each from Australia, Lebanon, Mongolia, Nigeria, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad-Tobago, Turkey, Vietnam and Yemen. 

 

Alleged Child Neglect Couple Face Judge

(La Porte, IN) - Police say a man and woman from La Porte placed some kids in danger from traveling recklessly while intoxicated.  Michael Moore and Melissa Ruiz are both charged in La Porte Circuit Court with child neglect.

 

About 5 a.m. Thursday, police said they were southbound on Pine Lake Avenue in a car generating sparks from some type of metal to metal contact.  Police said the car also veered into the opposite lane more than once and after making a right hand turn onto Weller Avenue was stopped.

 

According to police, the approaching officer spotted a baby in a car seat that was not properly installed.  Another child had a seat belt on but should have been in a car seat due to the young age and size of the child, police said. 

 

Police said Moore, who was the driver, was also charged with operating while intoxicated.  The woman was a front seat passenger and kept asking officers to let her just drive and take the kids home.

 

According to police, her grandmother was called to pick up the kids because Ruiz was also highly impaired.  Ruiz was charged with child neglect because she should not have allowed Moore to drive because of his level of impairment.

 

Charges in Head Butting Police

(La Porte, IN) - A man who allegedly head butted a police officer made his initial appearance today

in La Porte Circuit Court.

 

Mark Keen was on home detention in La Porte when police were informed he removed his ankle bracelet and went to his mother’s house.  Police say it appears he traveled from Brighton Street to McClung Road on a moped despite being intoxicated.

 

He was soon located and chased on foot until taken into custody.  During a struggle, police say he head butted an officer  Keen is charged with escape, resisting law enforcement and battery.

Local Businesses Receive High Recognition

(Indianapolis, IN) - Two La Porte County businesses have been recognized by the governor of Indiana.

 

Hatfield Pest Control in La Porte and MCInteriors in Michigan City were among the recipients of this year’s "Half Century Business Awards".  Both companies have been operating for more than 70-years.

 

Governor Eric Holcomb said long established businesses like those recognized locally help set the tone for an economy dedicated to hard work, constant improvement and strong community roots.

Earthquake Felt Locally

(La Porte County, IN) - The earth shook in La Porte County yesterday, but it wasn’t from all of the construction happening.

 

It was from an earthquake.

 

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake just after 2 p.m. (CDT) was centered in the

western part of the state between Lafayette and Terre Haute.

 

The earthquake measured 3.8 on the Richter scale, officials said.

 

Residents in parts of southern Michigan and Illinois also reported feeling the earth tremble.

 

So far, no damage has been reported.

Woman Greeted at Door Robbed

(Michigan City, IN) - Police are investigating a report of a robbery at a home on the Michigan City's 

south side.

 

Officers were called to a home on Pahs Road early yesterday afternoon.

 

Information received by responding officers indicated a female victim of the robbery was not able to call police right away after pistol whipped.

 

The woman was on a floor inside her home for several hours before police were contacted. 

 

The investigation also indicates the robbery happened after two men rang the doorbell.

 

Both suspects were described as black.

 

We’ll provide more details once they’re made available from Michigan City Police.

Earthquake in Indiana

BLOOMINGDALE, Ind. (WISH) — A minor earthquake centered in a small town in west central Indiana shook the Midwest on Thursday afternoon.

 

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 3.8 magnitude quake at 3:18 p.m. Thursday was centered about 2 miles west of Bloomingdale, a town of 300 in Parke County. The temblor was about 2 miles beneath the Earth’s surface. 

 

The Geological Survey had initially said the quake was centered about 2 miles northeast of Montezuma, a town of 980 in Parke County. Tasha Griffin, a clerk with the town’s utility office, said no earthquake damage has been reported in the town, but, “It scared everybody.”

 

Quakes with a magnitude from 3-3.8 are often felt, but only cause minor damage. 

Life Line Before Eviction Ban Lifted

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte County tenants behind in their rent due to COVID-19 could start receiving bailout money before the nationwide freeze on evictions is lifted on July 1.

           

The La Porte County Commissioners have earmarked $750,000 in federal American Rescue Plan money to keep people hurt financially by the pandemic inside their homes.

           

“You’ve got a landlord who’s got bills to pay and you’ve got people with a family. We don’t want to see them put out on the street.  This is kind of like a little emergency thing to try and help out,” said Commission President Rich Mrozinski.  Final approval will be considered by the La Porte County Council which meets on June 28.

 

Commissioner Sheila Matias said the money will go to past due rent of people unable to pay because of financial hardship brought on by the pandemic.  She said the COVID-19 related struggles could range from job loss and illness to staying home to care for children physically unable to attend school.

Matias said the mechanics of reaching people eligible for the dollars and how to distribute the funds will be determined in the coming days.  Township trustees and social workers, though, will be among the players since they specialize in helping people with financial challenges, she said. 

 

Requests for eviction in the courts would be disposed of once the funds are applied to settlement agreements between landlords and tenants.  Mrozinski said the money will keep people from being evicted while they’re waiting to receive state COVID-19 relief dollars to settle up with their landlords.  He said it can take three months or longer to collect state money while local dollars can reach their destinations much faster.  “We’re trying to provide some kind of rapid relief,” Matias said.

 

If any money will have to be paid back once recipients collect both sources of revenue was not known.  Matias said provisions are being worked on, though, to prevent “double dipping” while being fair on a case by case basis, Matias said.  “We want to make sure this is a good faith effort,” she said.

 

La Porte County government has received about half of the $21 million in ARP funding it has coming, officials said.  The commissioners also decided to use some of the ARP dollars to replenish department budgets strained from costs related to the pandemic.  A financial expert was hired to help decide how to spend the rest of the ARP money.

Prison Move Sought in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City official would like to see Indiana State Prison relocated out of the community.  City Councilwoman Angie Nelson Deuitch said there’s funding available for projects that would transform communities.

 

At this week’s Michigan City Common Council meeting, Nelson Deuitch revealed she would like to seek some of those dollars to have the feasibility of relocating the prison examined.  “That’s 100 acres of land that could change the face of the west side,” she said.  In response, City Councilman Paul Pryzbylinski twice said moving the prison “would be awesome.”

 

Indiana State Prison, housing more than 2,000 offenders, has been there since 1860. 

 

Nelson Deuitch said the funding for transformational projects in communities is available through the Northwest Indiana Forum.  She said the deadline to apply for those dollars is fast approaching and she encouraged her colleagues to come up with projects they would like to seek money for so the list can be submitted before the deadline for consideration.

Excitement Builds Over Return of Parade

(La Porte, IN) - Whether the traditional military flyover for the Fourth of July parade in La Porte will occur this year is not known but there are some encouraging signs.

 

Dawn Zigler, who is helping the Kiwanis Club put together on the parade, said preliminary approval for a flyover has been granted by the U.S. Air Force.  The flyover has also been listed an approved event by the Federal Aviation Administration, she said.

 

However, Zigler said final approval still have to be made and that decision is usually not known until the days leading up to the parade.  “At this point, it’s kind of like a lotto. We haven’t been notified yet if we’ve been selected,” she said.  Another positive sign was a flyover of military planes Wednesday to, perhaps, get familiar with the route.

 

The Fourth of July parade is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

LGBTQ Seeds Here Taking Further Root

(La Porte, IN) - The LGBTQ community in La Porte seems to be having more success in its bid for acceptance here. 

 

Recently, the city put a Pride flag inside a display case inside City Hall after presented the flag to recognize June as Pride month.  Now, an educational question and answer posting about the LGBTQ community is on the city’s Facebook page.

 

City Councilman Tim Franke says there are still naysayers out there but the LGBTQ community is pressing on.  “It’s not all been positive but the vast majority of people are positive and are accepting.  I think you’re never going to have total acceptance and that’s okay.  If we can help increase people’s acceptance and views of accepting other people that may not look like them but still contribute to society and are valuable members of the community then it’s a win,” he said. 

 

The LGBTQ community recently had a presence at the farmers market and plans to be at other events like the Sunflower Fair in the fall.  Last year, the city also created the Inclusion and Diversity Committee which meets monthly at city hall.

Former Animal Shelter Director Being Honored

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte County Small Animal Shelter is going to be renamed after the former longtime face of the shelter.   It will be called the Jane Bernard Animal Adoption Center.

 

In February, Bernard retired after 30 years or so as executive director of the shelter next to the fairgrounds.  The new name was approved last night by the La Porte County Commissioners at the request of Commission President Rich Mrozinski.  Bernard is credited with turning the shelter into an adoption center.  Before she took over, euthanizing animals was more of a standard practice.  

 

Mike Kellems applauded the decision, saying Bernard and her staff were always there when needed by the police during his more than 30-years with the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office.  “That shelter has set the standard for what community animal shelters should be like and that comes because of Jane’s leadership and the staff she surrounded herself with,” he said.  Kellems is now a police officer at the Purdue University campus near Westville.

Crackdown on Bridge Jumpers

(La Porte, IN) - Bridge jumpers in La Porte run a greater risk of being caught this summer.  Police have announced a crackdown on jumping from the Waverly Road Bridge.

 

It’s in response to numerous complaints about teenagers and young adults jumping from the bridge into the water at the channel connecting Stone and Pine lakes.  Police Chief Paul Brettin says jumping from the bridge is not safe and violates city ordinance.  Fines start at $50.

 

“Knock it off if you’re jumping. You will be hit by the City of La Porte Police Department with an automatic $50 fine if you’re caught jumping.  We will be monitoring this,” said Mayor Tom Dermody.  The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will also be keeping an eye on violators.

 

La Porte Parks Superintendent Mark Schreiber is urging parents to have a serious talk with their children about not jumping off the bridge due to the serious injuries that could occur from landing on a boat coming in and out of the channel or hitting bottom.

Push for Complete NIPSCO Clean Up

(Michigan City, IN) - The Michigan City Common Council is being asked to get involved in the future clean-up planned at the NIPSCO generating station.

 

A clean up of the site is planned by NIPSCO when the utility begins the process of closing the facility on U.S. 12 a few years from now.  Susan Thomas of the group, Just Transition for Northwest Indiana, told the city council not all of the toxic coal ash is going to be removed from the site under NIPSCO’s current environmental remediation plans.

 

Thomas said coal ash disposed of decades ago that’s already finding its way into Lake Michigan would remain.  She said the coal ash produced from burning coal to produce electricity is right along the shoreline held back from the water by a close to century old corroded steel wall fast reaching its age limit. 

 

“It is leaking.  It is cracked.  This is a problem,” she said.  Thomas said some of the toxins are already finding their way into Lake Michigan used for drinking water by four states.

 

She asked the city council to ask NIPSCO in writing to remove all of the coal ash from the site.

NIPSCO plans to close the generator and one near Wheatfield to move away from coal for producing electricity.  The utility plans to replace the electricity from other producers and rely more on solar and wind for meeting the needs of its customers.

Double Track Despite Delay Not Derailed

(Michigan City, IN) - There appears to be a delay in the much anticipated construction of double track for the South Shore Railroad commuter line from Michigan City to Gary. 

 

According to the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates the commuter line, the project is out for bids a second time to try and reduce the cost.

 

Mike Noland, Executive Director of NICTD, reaffirmed his commitment to the project at last night’s Michigan City Common Council meeting.  “We are, right now, in the process of rebidding the contract.  We hope to start construction early this fall.  The obligations that are in this agreement that NICTD has committed to the city we stand by them. Every single one of them,” he said.  The start of construction was supposed to begin this summer.

 

Noland also said $500 million has been secured to pay for the project designed to reduce travel times to and from Chicago by train.  A one way trip to Chicago from Michigan City is expected to be reduced by about 30 minutes.

 

Supporters claim the project will result in considerable economic growth from greater ability to live here and work in Chicago.

Traffic Moving After Scary Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - Traffic is moving again on U.S. 20 near Michigan City.  Emergency responders were called to a motor vehicle accident just after 11 a.m. near Eastside Produce.

 

The police radio traffic indicated the westbound lanes were closed and there was a pick-up truck underneath a semi-trailer.  Sources close to the scene reported the driver of the pick-up got out on his own power and walked to an ambulance.

 

Traffic was moving again about 15 minutes later.

Requirements Tightened for Bidders

(La Porte, IN) - Safeguards are now in place to make sure construction paid for by La Porte County government is top quality.  The measure also provides more of a level playing field for union companies vying for the jobs.  “I know how important this is to organized labor,” said La Porte County Commission president Rich Mrozinski. 

 

Contractors must have an established apprenticeship program to bid on county government jobs costing $150,000 or more under the recently adopted measure.  The apprenticeship program must also have at least five graduates in each of the past five-years.  “That way you know you’re getting somebody who’s been trained to do the job,” he said.

 

Mrozinski said the requirements provide assurance of quality workmanship and taxes being taken out of wages paid in the form of a check.  He said the standards also make it more difficult for companies to land contracts if they’re paying below scale wages in cash to undercut legitimate contractors during the bidding.  “That’s what we’re trying to fight,” he said.

 

Mrozinski said reputable firms are also more likely to come back and fix any flaws uncovered after the job is completed.

 

The only vote on the three member panel against the proposal was cast by Joe Haney.  Haney said requiring an apprenticeship program will keep legitimate small businesses like those owned by minorities and women out of the bidding process.  "It’s yet another impediment from them getting contracts,” he said.  Haney also said he’s not aware of any county government projects where earnings paid in cash and workmanship were issues.

Police Mourning Loss of Four Legged Partner

(La Porte County, IN) - A former law enforcement officer on four legs has passed away.  Hokie was with the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office for more than ten years.

 

The German shepherd was retired about two years ago.  He was 15.

 

His handler, Sgt. Andrew Hahn says Hokie took part in things like drug seizures and arrests along with public demonstrations.  Among the dog's achievements was tracking and apprehending two armed robbery suspects and an alleged bank robber. 

 

Hokie lived with Hahn during his retirement.

Guilty Plea by X-rated Children's Book Author

(Hammond, IN) - A La Porte man could be off to a federal prison soon.  He allegedly wrote children’s books but they were far from being innocent.

 

51-year old Michael Christianson pleaded guilty at U.S. District Court in Hammond yesterday.  According to authorities, the books he wrote contained dozens of pictures of naked children.  In addition, he promoted a group supporting adults interesting in having sex with kids.

 

He was convicted of child molesting about 20 years ago.

 

Christianson will receive a 15 year federal prison sentence if the plea agreement is accepted by the court.  He would also be under lifetime supervision by federal probation officers. 

Farmers Keeping Close Eye on Inflation

(West Lafayette, IN) - The recovery in grain prices should extend into next year but inflation could eat more into the higher profits belt tightening farmers have started to enjoy.  That was among the messages conveyed during the monthly Purdue University Corn and Soybean Outlook webinar on Monday.

           

Michael Langemeier, Associate Director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture at the West Lafayette campus, said higher prices collected by food producers, traditionally, leads to greater demand for farm machinery and buildings.  However, Langemeier said major purchases during the current rebound in prices might not happen to the same degree if inflation burns a larger hole in the deeper pockets of farmers.

           

He said the recent increase in fuel prices and land values are early indications that inflation could become a major issue but what impact that might have in areas like cost of fertilizer and renting land to farm are still not known.  "That’s a wild card right now,” Langemeier said.  He said the current upward pressure in the price of land on the market is caused by farmers with more money to spend wanting to expand their operations.

           

According to the latest USDA forecast, the harvest price for this year’s corn is expected to average $5.60 per bushel.  USDA predicts the harvest price for soybeans to average $13.55.  Langemeier said corn and soybean prices have dipped slightly recently but should be relatively strong at least through much of 2022.

Church Steps In to Preserve Fair Tradition

(La Porte, IN) - Another change is coming to this year’s La Porte County Fair. 

 

or many years, Rolling Prairie United Methodist Church, Salem United Methodist Church and Door Village United Methodist Church served home cooked meals from three buildings along the midway.  The churches this year backed away when asked by fair officials to upgrade the buildings.

 

Bethany Lutheran Church will now occupy two of the structures along the midway.  Church member Carrie Garwood said the church can fix up the structures and continue with the long tradition.

 

“I think we got the team of people who can get the repairs made over a multiple year period to the buildings and at least get them opened up for fair week with a church presence,” she said.  Garwood said Bethany Lutheran Church will offer meals and provide other things in the two buildings which will be available to other non-profit groups to offer things like food. 

 

“We look at this as an opportunity to share the outreach potential with other non-profits and churches in our community.  Garwood said the three churches no longer occupying those facilities are also invited to offer meals or get reconnect in other ways during the fair.  She said the other building will apparently be used by the fair for office space.

Arrest in New Buffalo Yacht Theft

(New Buffalo, MI) - The search for a Chicago family’s yacht stolen from New Buffalo Harbor ended after a few days with the boat recovered and suspect in custody.  The alleged thief could qualify as a stupid criminal because he had no money to feed the gas guzzling machine.

 

According to New Buffalo Police, the 37-year old man was being held in the Berrien County Jail on a preliminary charge of possession of stolen property.  Police did not reveal the name of the suspect, who is from Syracuse, Indiana.

 

The 60 foot boat named “Land Shark II” was taken from New Buffalo Marina on June 10.  Police said the suspect stepped on the vessel while it was being cleaned by a maintenance worker for the owners.  The suspect told the employee he was the nephew of the owner and was there to take the boat for a ride.  The employee stepped aside and the suspect powered off in the vessel.  Police were contacted the next day by the owners after they showed up in New Buffalo and the boat was gone.

 

According to police, the U.S. Coast Guard and authorities at other marinas in the Great Lakes were notified to be on the lookout for the boat.  Two days later, authorities were notified the stolen vessel was seen adrift and possibly grounded in shallow water near the Bridgman and Lake Township border.

 

The suspect was taken into custody after wading from the boat to the shore, police said.

Police said the boat was towed to a marina in St. Joseph to be inspected for any damage and processed as evidence in the criminal case.

 

According to police, the alleged thief is also a suspect in other thefts in the area that occurred the same day the boat was taken.  Police said he left his wallet at one of the alleged crime scenes.  “This also made it difficult for him to buy food or fuel for the boat that he was on for the better part of three days,” said New Buffalo Police Chief Rich Killips.

 

Bob Stratton, owner of Service 1 Marine, said there have been much smaller boats and personal watercraft taken at the lakefront during his more than 30-years in the business primarily in the New Buffalo and Michigan City areas.  However, Stratton said he’s never heard of such a large boat ever being stolen from slips in the area.  Stratton said a yacht that size typically has an 800 gallon fuel tank capable of traveling 200 to 300 miles before needing a fill up.

 

Even if the suspect had plenty of money at his disposal, Stratton said the stolen boat more than likely would have been recognized after pulling into a harbor just about anywhere to get fuel.  "There’s nowhere to hide.  It was just a matter of time before the suspect got caught,” he said.

Alleged Drug Dealer Busted

(Michigan City, IN) - A suspected Michigan City drug dealer has been arrested.  Justin Henry is charged with four counts including dealing methamphetamine.

 

According to police, an investigation was started in response to numerous complaints about possible drug activity at 314 South Street.  Police say methamphetamine and other drugs were recovered from the home.

 

Daniel Will was also taken into custody.  He was at the home when police discovered he had an outstanding warrant for his arrest.

Caucus Called to Elect Replacement

(La Porte, IN) - An elected official locally has passed away.  Susan Cable was the Pleasant Township Trustee for the past 26 years.  La Porte County Republican Party Chairman Allen Stevens called her a true public servant.

 

A caucus of republican precinct committeepersons from Pleasant Township has been called to elect her replacement.  The caucus is scheduled June 30 at 6 p.m. at the Pleasant Township Volunteer Fire Department.

 

Cable was 79. 

Michigan City Drowning Victim Identified

(Michigan City, IN) - A weekend drowning victim in Michigan City has been identified. 

 

28-year old Donald Turner was from Portage.  Authorities say he was at Washington Park beach Sunday afternoon.  Turner was swimming with his girlfriend when she began struggling in the water.

 

Authorities say Turner was able to get her back to safety before going under the water.  A nearby swimmer located his body a short distance away.

Search On for Stolen Yacht

(New Buffalo, MI) - The search was on for a Chicago family’s yacht stolen from New Buffalo Harbor.

 

According to ABC7 News out of Chicago, the 60 foot boat named “Land Shark” went missing on June 10 from the city’s transient marina.  A worker for a company hired to clean the boat was approached by a man claiming to be the nephew of the owner of the yacht.  The man, described as about 30-years old, stepped onto the boat and told the worker he was going to be taking the boat out for a spin.  The man then drove off in the boat after the worker apparently didn’t question his story, according to the ABC7 report.

 

The victims arrived in New Buffalo the next day to find the boat missing and filed a police report.  “This isn’t a cheap boat.  This is a very expensive boat,” said the family’s attorney John W. Chwarzynski said during his interview with ABC7 News.

 

According to police, the suspect was described as white with a dark tan and wearing his hair in a “man bun.”  His hair was also shaved on both sides and he was wearing a white shirt and orange shorts, police said.

 

Police said the U.S. Coast Guard was notified to help in the search for the boat.  “Our investigation has led us to believe that they have taken the boat and potentially took it out of the country,” Chwarzynski said in his ABC7 News interview.

Motor Vehicle Collision Proves Fatal

(Michigan City, IN) - A crash involving multiple vehicles on U.S. 20 near Michigan City proved fatal to a teenager.  Malachi Young, 19, of Michigan City was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office.

               

Just before 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, police said 22-year old Michael Murphy of Hobart veered into the oncoming lanes of U.S. 20 near Roeske Avenue.  He collided with an oncoming passenger vehicle driven by Young who had to be extricated from the wreckage.

               

Several other eastbound vehicles became involved in the collision, police said.  Police said three other people were injured.  Their conditions were not disclosed.

               

Police said toxicology tests are still pending in the crash which is still under investigation.

Charges in Water Park Disturbance

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte woman allegedly made quite a scene with her mouth and choice of words at a church water park.  Jessica Foster is charged in LaPorte Circuit Court with Disorderly Conduct, Battery and Resisting Law Enforcement.

 

According to court documents, Foster on June 9 walked into Bethany Lutheran Church demanding a drink of water.  She walked out, vomited on the sidewalk and went to the water park across the street from the church where she began playing in the water next to a large group of children, the documents revealed.

 

She was asked to leave the park but refused then hopped a fence when police officers showed up.  Police said she also began yelling profanities at officers as they drew closer.  Then after a struggle to place her inside a squad car, Foster spit in the face of one of the officers.

 

Eventually, police said she was placed in leg restraints to keep her from continuing to resist arrest.  She was taken to the hospital where her use of a foul mouth at high volume continued and she tried biting hospital security officers, court documents revealed.

 

Foster is also charged in La Porte Superior Court #3 with public intoxication and public nudity for alleged behavior a short distance away from the church the previous week.  

Charges in Sports Car Thefts from Dealership

(La Porte, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with vehicles stolen from a La Porte dealership several weeks ago.

 

Deon Evans made his initial appearance Friday in La Porte Circuit Court.  He was allegedly one of four people involved in stealing three Dodge Challengers and one Dodge Charger.  The thefts occurred in mid-April at La Porte Chrysler on Pine Lake Avenue.  The suspects got away despite being chased down U.S 35 and westbound on Interstate 94 by Police.

 

According to court documents, Evans was caught about three weeks later in Lake County

during a chase of a stolen Dodge pick-up truck.  Police say he had several guns on his possession at the time of his arrest.  The records stated the Indianapolis man also confessed to thefts at several other dealerships.

 

Here in La Porte, police say the vehicles were stolen from inside a service garage.  The garage was broken into by busting a window.

 

Evans could face anywhere from one to six years on the level 5 felony charge before La Porte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos.

Bad Crash Involving Several Vehicles

(Michigan City, IN) - At least one person was seriously injured in a Michigan City area traffic accident last evening.

 

Several vehicles and a motorcycle were involved on U.S 20 near Roeske Avenue.  One person was critically injured and several people were extricated from an overturned SUV.

 

The accident occurred about 6:30 p.m.  We’ll provide more details once they’re made available.

One Lane in Each Direction

(La Porte County, IN) - A stretch of highway in La Porte County will be down to one lane In each direction starting today.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, the inside lanes of U.S. 35 will be closed between CR-300S and Range Road.  The reason is to repair an oil pipeline.

 

Officials say the lane restriction will last for about one week.

End to Coaching Shuffle at South Central

(Union Mills, IN) - At South Central High School, the shuffling of the coaching deck seems to have played out. 

 

Eric Speer was approved this week by the South Central school board to take over as head boys’ basketball coach.  The 32-year-old journeyman coach previously coached in Hammond before schools there were consolidated recently.

 

Speer takes over a young Satellites team from Joe Wagner, who stepped into the girls’ basketball assistant role. South Central principal Ben Anderson assumed the girls’ head coaching position last month.

MCPD Swears in New Officers

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City’s police department is adding new officers to its ranks.

 

Four new officers were sworn in earlier this week. They are Douglas Abraham of Valparaiso, Kane Fletcher of La Porte, Maximiliano Hernandez, a New Prairie graduate, and Brock Moore, who is originally from Michigan City but is moving back to the area from Winfield.

 

The new officers were chosen from 30 candidates. They will train in-house for six weeks before beginning field training and the 15-week Indiana Police Academy.

 

This brings Michigan City’s police force up to 76 officers, eight short of a full department.

Local Business Owner Arrested in Connection with Stolen Parts

(Westville, IN) - A La Porte County business owner has been arrested for running an auto parts fencing operation.

 

The mystery of missing catalytic convertors began to break wide open about a month ago.  On May 5, Sheriff’s deputies halted a burglary in rural Clinton Township, south of Westville.  Information from that bust led detectives to the storefront of nearby Catalytic Exchange, LLC.

 

According to a statement by police, hundreds of auto parts alleged to be stolen were recovered from the business.  The owner, 52-year-old William T. Scott of Kouts, was taken into custody Thursday and charged with the offense of Corrupt Business Influence, a Level 5 Felony.

 

He was released after posting a $15,000 cash bond.

Utility Scammers Strike Again

(La Porte County, IN) - Scammers have once again struck an elderly La Porte County resident.  On Tuesday a County Sheriff’s deputy took a report of money missing from a home in Johnson Township.  That’s an area bisected by US 6 just west of Walkerton.

 

According to police, a woman was outside working when a man approached her dressed as a utility worker.  The man engaged her in a lengthy conversation before walking away.  Later, she discovered a large amount of money missing from inside her home.  Utility companies verified that they were not doing work in that area then.

 

The suspect was described as being Caucasian, 5’8” tall, medium build with gray hair and in his 40’s.

 

Anyone with helpful information is asked to contact Detective Aaron Banic with the Sheriff’s Department by calling (219) 326-7700, ext. 2407 or by email at abanic@lcso.in.gov.

Economic Development Group Earns Top Billing

(La Porte, IN) - The United States Chamber of Commerce at its board meeting this week awarded the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership with 5-Star Accreditation for its sound policies, effective organizational procedures, and positive impact on the community.

 

“Accredited chambers are organizations that hold themselves to the highest industry standards. They are recognized for their work to create and expand business opportunities in their communities” said Raymond P. Towle, IOM, CAE, U.S. Chamber vice president of Federation Relations and Institute for Organization Management.

 

“Throughout the pandemic, these chambers continue to lead while maintaining transparent governance practices, sound financial controls, safe work environments, value in programming and effective communications. They are commended for this great accomplishment.”

 

Accreditation is the only national program that recognizes chambers for their effective organizational procedures and community involvement.  In order to receive Accreditation, a chamber must meet minimum standards in their operations and programs, including areas of governance, government affairs, and technology.  This extensive self-review can take 6-9 months to complete.

 

“The great work completed by the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership staff, board of directors and business partners has led to this distinction. To be one of only 2 chambers of commerce earning this honor in the State of Indiana speaks to LEAP’s position in this industry.  "The La Porte Community is a leader in the State, and we are proud to highlight that fact,” said LEAP Executive Director Bert Cook.

 

Local chambers are rated Accredited, 3-Stars, 4-Stars, or 5-Stars.  State chambers are recognized as either Accredited State Chamber or Accredited State Chamber with Distinction.  The final determination is made by the Accrediting Board, a committee of U.S. Chamber board members.

 

Steve Kring, La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership Chairman said, “The LEAP Board of Directors is very proud to be recognized as a leader in the State of Indiana and across the nation. Our work in recent years to align like-minded organizations has built a strong, viable entity that will represent our members, the City of La Porte and residents long into the future.”

 

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.

 

 

Man Charged in Crash Fatality Arraigned

(La Porte, IN) - A Michigan City man appeared before a judge today on charges related to a fatal motor vehicle crash.  24-year old Eric Adair is charged with three counts.  He could face anywhere from two to 12 years on the most serious offense.

 

In March, police say Adair had a blood alcohol level about two times the legal limit when he veered over the center line and struck an oncoming vehicle.  The other driver, Nathan Blount of Michigan City died the next day.

 

Police say an examination of his cell phone revealed Adair was texting prior to the collision.  The crash occurred on U.S. 35 just south of U.S. 20.

 

After his initial court appearance, Adair was returned to the La Porte County Jail where he was

being held on $20,000 bond.

Traffic Stop Drug and Gun Arrests

(La Porte County, IN) - Guns and drugs were part of a traffic stop by La Porte County Police.  Three people were also arrested.

 

35-year old Ernest Glasper of Michigan City is charged with Possession of Cocaine, Possession of a Firearm by a Serious Violent Felon and Felon in Possession of a Firearm.

 

Patrice Peate, 39, of Mishawaka is charged with Carrying a Handgun without a License and Possession of a Synthetic Drug.

 

Michael Anderson, 33, also of Mishawaka is charged with Possession of a Firearm by a Serious Violent Felon, Possession of Cocaine, Carrying a Handgun without a License with a Prior Conviction and Possession of a Controlled Substance.

 

According to police, Deputy Austin Howell clocked a vehicle traveling 65 in a 45 mile per zone on U.S 20 near Fail Road early Wednesday.  The eastbound vehicle then crossed over the white fog line three times and once nearly ran completely off the highway, police said.

 

During a traffic stop, police said a loaded 9 millimeter Smith and Wesson handgun and a loaded 9 millimeter Taurus handgun along with drugs were located inside the vehicle.

Complete Schedule Announced for Lakefest

(La Porte, IN) - We know more about the happenings at the city of La Porte’s first ever Lakefest. 

 

Parks Superintendent Mark Schreiber says the festival will feature jet-ski racing, music, art and food.  Schreiber says there will also be activities for kids.

 

Lakefest is scheduled July 30 to August 1.  There will be events each day at Stone, Pine and Clear lakes.  Specific events on July 30 include a Sand Volleyball Tournament at Dunes Event Center, Teen Beach Night at Stone Lake and Downtown Street Dance on State Street.

 

For a list of the full schedule and other information, browse to the Lakefest website by clicking HERE.

30-Years for Drug Related Deaths

(Michigan City, IN) - A 30-year prison sentence has been given to a man for causing the deaths of two people from drug overdoses in Michigan City.


Jesse Brockman was arrested at the ABC Motel where the victims were found dead in September of 2019.  The victims were 29-year old Zachary Granzo and 26-year old Christina Rossetti.  Police say heroin, methamphetamine and syringes were among the items found in the motel room.

 

Brockman in Michigan City was the first person convicted in La Porte County under a state law holding drug dealers responsible for overdose deaths.

Fugitive Turns Up in Traffic Stop

(La Porte County, IN) A traffic stop by La Porte County Police early today yielded a man wanted in another county. 

 

Deputy Alex Clemons was westbound on US 20 near CR 200 East when he began traveling behind a passenger vehicle that did not have a license plate affixed to the rear, police said.   A traffic stop was initiated at the intersection of US 20 and Fail Road.    The driver could not produce a form of identification but provided a name and date of birth, police said.  Deputy Clemons attempted to confirm the driver’s identity through a computer check but he was unable to do so. 

 

Deputies continued to investigate and positively identified the driver as Christian I. ROBINSON-TYLER, 33, of East Chicago.  ROBINSON-TYLER’S drivers license was suspended and learned that he had a warrant out for his arrest by the Lake County Sheriff’s Department in Crown Point.   

 

ROBINSON-TYLER was being held in the La Porte County Jail on charges of Identity Deception, Driving While Suspended with a Prior Conviction and being a fugitive.  Eventually, he will be extradited to Lake County to face charges filed in that jurisdiction, police said. 

Fleeing Driver in Serious Crash Sought

(Michigan City, IN) - On June 6th at about 1 a.m., officers were dispatched to the 3900 Block of Franklin Street in reference to a pedestrian being struck by a vehicle.  According to police, Officer Ortega arrived on scene and observed a subject lying in the roadway and appeared to be suffering from head trauma.  The subject was immediately transported to Franciscan Health by La Porte County EMS for medical attention.

 

Police said witnesses indicated that the pedestrian was crossing Franklin Street near Kintzele Road when a silver SUV struck the pedestrian and fled the scene.  Additional information pertaining to this incident will not be released at this time in order to protect the integrity of this ongoing investigation, police said. 

 

The Michigan City Police Department is asking anyone who may have witnessed this incident, has additional information or video surveillance of the incident to contact Captain Jeff Loniewski (jloniewski@emichigancity.com) or Corporal Brian Wright (bwright@emichigancity.com) at (219) 874-3221; Extension 1008.

 

Police also remind citizens they can contact them on Facebook Messenger, through the Crime Tip Hotline number of 219-873-1488 or the WeTip Hotline for General Crime (800) 78-CRIME.

 

A reward is possible for information leading to an arrest and conviction.  Police said people can remain anonymous.

 

La Porte a Homecoming for Driver of Famous Horses

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte Fourth of July parade will be a homecoming for a driver of the famous Budweiser Clydesdales.

 

Alec Smith, 23, said destiny must have been at work because the brewing industry giant, long billed as the “King of Beers”, chose him out of 400 applicants when a job opening developed.  He’s eager not only to drive the team of horses pulling a 1903 beer wagon in the downtown parade he used to attend as a child.

           

Smith said he can’t wait for people back home to see what he does for a living.  "I am beyond ecstatic, honestly,” he said.

           

Smith will spend quality time in La Porte on this trip because the Clydesdales, skyrocketing to fame in TV commercials during the 70’s, will also be at the annual Red, Wine and Brew on July 2 and the La Porte County Fair on July 10.

           

He played a critical role in getting the Clydesdales here because of his ties at Bethany Lutheran Church and Garwood Orchards where he attended and worked as a youth.

 

Pastor Dennis Meyer and church member Carrie Garwood are lead organizers of the popular Red, Wine and Brew.  They were looking to spice up the annual beer and wine tasting event featuring a concert this year by country music superstars Montgomery Gentry and John Michael Montgomery.  After they reached out to him, Smith began the process of having the Clydesdales dispatched to La Porte.  “They really are the superstars of horses,” Garwood said.

 

Ironically, perhaps, Smith has never owned a horse.  In third grade, he signed up for a program in 4-H that gives youth a chance to ride and take care of horses belonging to other people and show the horses at the fair.  A few years later, Smith was doing the same thing with another owner’s Clydesdales.  “I took care of them like they were my own,” he said.

 

He was in college majoring in nursing and still working with horses when the earth began shaking on what appears to be his true calling in life.  Smith said he started taking care of the horses of a neighbor, Shelby Zarobinski, when she was hired as a Budweiser Clydesdale driver in Colorado.  She helped him make some connections at Budweiser that might have helped when he applied for an opening in New Hampshire.  “That’s how I got the job,” he said.

 

Smith said he’s practically been to every state east of the Mississippi River and into Canada in his travels with the Budweiser crew to show the horses the past three-years.  His other duties include driving one of three semi-trucks used to transport the horses and other supplies to each location.  “We travel rain, shine, snow, hot.  It doesn’t matter. Wherever you want us, we’ll be there,” he said.  Smith said he can’t imagine doing anything else right now.

 

He enjoys seeing the country and the different people he gets to meet including some wanting his autograph.  The joy he sees when the horses come for visit is what he likes most about the job.  “A lot of smiles we get to put on people’s faces is priceless.  We have 40-year old men who are jumping up and down and clapping their hands.   They’re so excited to see us,” he said.

Batmobile Among 100 Parade Units

(Michigan City, IN) - The upcoming Summer Parade in Michigan City should be a major hit with the original Batmobile leading the way.  About 100 units are expected to be in the parade cancelled last year by COVID-19.

 

The Batmobile from the 1960’s TV Series Batman will be the first unit behind the police cars and firefighters that lead the way, said Terry Greetham, Events Director for the city.  He said the theme of the parade is dedicated to emergency responders and first responders for their efforts during the pandemic.

 

Greetham said the Batmobile, as a symbol of a superhero, is a natural fit to help honor the efforts of doctors, nurses, paramedics, police, firefighters and others who put themselves at risk for others during the pandemic.

 

He said the Batmobile should be well received as it proceeds along the parade route.  “I think it’ll be more exciting for the parents than the kids. I think the kids think of the Batmobile in the more recent Batman movies. People my age and older remember the TV show with Adam West and Bert Ward and they think of that Batmobile and how cool it was,” Greetham said.

 

The Batmobile is owned by Mark Racop from Logansport, Indiana.  He will be the driver of the Batmobile during the parade scheduled June 19 on Franklin Street from 10th St. to Ames Field.

 

 

Lakefront Concerts Begin Tonight

(Michigan City, IN) - Abraham Lincoln was assassinated just three years before the Michigan City Municipal Band started playing.  The group begins another season at the lakefront this evening.

 

According to the mayor’s office, ten free concerts every Thursday are on tap for the summer.  The concerts are at the Guy Foreman Bicentennial Amphitheatre at Washington Park and begin at 7:30 p.m.

Semi Rollover Closes U.S. 12

(Michigan City, IN) - A major highway In Michigan City is closed due to an accident.  Police say a semi-truck rolled over on U.S. 12 this morning near the La Porte Porter County line.

 

According to police, U.S. 12 will be closed for an extended period of time and travelers are advised to use U.S. 20 as a detour around the closure.  Motorists are also advised to avoid the area. 

Pride Flag in La Porte on Public Display

(La Porte, IN) - A pride flag will not be flying outside La Porte City Hall but it’s not being kept in the closet either.  City Councilman Tim Franke says the pride flag will be in a display case at City Hall.

 

The display case is in the lobby outside the city council chambers.  Franke says included with the pride flag will be some LGBTQ related literature. 

 

The flag was presented this week to the city by Elissa Affeld, a member of the LGBTQ community and member of the city’s Diversity and Inclusion committee.  During her presentation, Affeld said she hoped the city would fly what’s often referred to as the

rainbow flag.

 

Franke said the decision to place the flag in the display case was reached during talks by members of the La Porte City Council and Mayor Tom Dermody.  He said the flag will not be flown because the American flag and state flag have traditionally been the only flags flown outside City Hall.  Franke said officials also wanted to avoid opening the door to requests to fly other flags.  He said the pride flag will be in the display case for the remainder of the month. 

 

June is Pride month.  He said the city is open to featuring other flags in the display case on a monthly basis as long as the message conveyed is a positive one.

Report of a Funnel Cloud

(La Porte County, IN) - Tornado warning sirens were blaring Wednesday afternoon on a report of a funnel cloud in La Porte County.

 

A 911 dispatch about a report of a funnel cloud went out about 2:36 p.m.  Within minutes, a police officer reported what was described as “rotation” in the clouds in the Hudson Lake area.

 

Just some light drizzle in La Porte fell from the sky Wednesday afternoon and no watches or warnings about severe weather were posted at the time of the reported funnel cloud siting.

 

Manpower Back at Full Strength

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte Fire Department is back to full strength.  The department now has 45 firefighters after four new firefighters began active duty, said La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder. 

 

The new firefighters are Sam Doig, Jacob Kazmierczak, Jacob Cooney and Maxwell Fisher.  They recently graduated from a firefighters’ academy which included 22 weeks of training.

Leadership Cards Shuffled at Police Department

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte Police Department will have a new second in command.  Assistant Police Chief Nate Thode will no longer be in that position beginning on Monday.

 

Thode is becoming a supervisor during one of the patrol shifts while Captain Bill Degnegaard is moving up to Assistant Police Chief.  Police Chief Paul Brettin said the move was made because of enhancements in law enforcement services provided to the community.

 

Brettin said additional drug enforcement and community policing are among the efforts ramping up and Degnegaard has first-hand expertise in some of those areas.  “With his knowledge and experience I felt that was the way to go,” he said. 

 

Brettin also felt a need for a fresh perspective on matters.  “It’s a different set of eyes to look at things,” he said.  He said Degnegaard, who has been with the department for 21 years, is also a better fit for the Reserve Officer and Citizens Police Academy programs starting up again.  “Capt. Degnegaard has done all of that in the past. It’s going to be second nature for him,” Brettin said.

 

Thode, a 16-year member of the force, was named Assistant Police Chief when Brettin took over as chief about 18 months ago.

Farmland Added to City for Growth

(La Porte, IN) - New businesses could grow from what’s currently farmland.  Over 200 acres of land used for row crops has been annexed into the City of La Porte.

 

The annexation was done at the request of the property owners wanting to sell the ground for future development  The property on Boyd Boulevard near U.S. 35 is now eligible to be served by municipal water and sewer because of it now being in the city.  An ordinance adopted several years ago prohibited water and sewer from being extended to areas outside the city limits.

 

Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, said the land is targeted for industrial use but could see commercial development.  “We’re excited to get this out and about for new companies to locate here,” he said.

 

Cook said expanding the city boundaries is vital for the city to grow because there’s not much space within the existing boundaries for new development.

Budweiser Clydesdales to Stop in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - They’re, perhaps, the most famous horses ever and they’re coming to La Porte.  The Budweiser Clydesdales will call La Porte home for about a week.  They will first appear at the Red, Wine and Brew tasting event and concert on July 2 along Johnson Road near 500 West.

 

Carrie Garwood is with Bethany Lutheran Church, which was able to make the necessary contacts for the Red, Wine and Brew also sponsored by the house of worship.  “They really are the superstars of horses,” she said.

 

Garwood said the Budweiser Clydesdales will also be in the July 4 parade in La Porte and appear during the first day of the La Porte County Fair.  Arrangements to bring the Clydesdales here went through Alec Smith, a La Porte native who attended Bethany Lutheran Church.  He went from raising horses as a child to being one of the drivers of the wagon pulled by the Clydesdales.

 

Montgomery Gentry and John Michael Montgomery are the headline acts for the event to be held in an open field near the Summit Farm. 

Fire Destroys Hay Barn at Dairy Farm

(La Porte County, IN) - Fire destroyed a barn full of hay at a dairy farm outside La Porte Wednesday morning.

 

Volunteer firefighters from Scipio Township and other agencies responded to the blaze about 8 a.m. (CST) at 4282 S. 425 West.  The roughly four thousand square foot metal sided hay barn at Minich Dairy Farm was engulfed in flames when firefighters began arriving, said Scipio Township firefighter Andrew McGuire.

 

He said the primary focus was keeping the flames from spreading to two nearby outbuildings which they were able to do.  “The whole roof had collapsed already by the time we got here,” McGuire said.

 

McGuire said the owners and their workers removed an unknown amount of animals away from the barn and two nearby outbuildings to safety.  He did not know if any animals perished.  “We don’t have any animal fatalities as of right now,” McGuire said.

 

Valerie Minich is one of the owners of the farm.  She helped move a couple of horses out of a pasture a few hundred feet from the burning structure to the backyard of the nearby farmhouse.  Minich broke down when she started to discuss the fire then declined further comment.

 

McGuire said it was too early to know the cause of the fire with the investigation in the very early stages.  “There’s no telling at this point,” he said.

Arrest for Highway Convoy Party

(La Porte County, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with a convoy of drivers having sort of a highway party in La Porte County.

 

According to La Porte County Police, several vehicles traveling in a group were doing things

like drag racing, weaving in and out of traffic and slamming on their brakes.  This happened on about a ten mile stretch of U.S. 20 during the Memorial Day weekend.

 

One of the vehicles was a motorcycle driven by 19 year old Andrew Daigneau.The Granger man was stopped outside the old Junction City Stop but then took off.  The officer remained with the other drivers and gave them a stern warning.  Police were given the motorcycle driver’s phone number and he was later taken into custody.  Daigneau is charged with resisting law enforcement and aggressive driving.

Hot Air Balloon Rides at Major Tasting Concert

(La Porte, IN) - Hot air balloon rides will be part of a major upcoming event outside La Porte.  The famous Remax balloon is coming to Red, Wine and Brew.

 

The annual tasting event featuring country music acts Eddie Montgomery from Montgomery Gentry, his brother John Michael Montgomery, nephew Dillion Carmichael, and Walker Montgomery is scheduled July 2 in an open field along Johnson Road near 500 West.

 

Carrie Garwood, one of the organizers of the event that raises money for local first responders, said tethered rides will be offered on the Remax balloon.  “They’ll be doing I believe like sunset trips.  That should be an awesome view and we’re really thankful for that partnership with that local Remax office,” she said.

 

The Remax balloon is seven stories high.  It started showing up in commercials nationwide about the real estate agency in 1978.

 

This years Red, Wine and Brew will be the first time these four members of this  legendary country music family have played together at the same event.  For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Red, Wine, and Brew website (click here) or call 219-362-3312.

Galloway Explains Softer LGBTQ Mindset

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte official heavily criticized last year for publicly denouncing the LGBTQ lifestyle joined in the celebration of a pride flag presented to the city. 

 

City Councilman Roger Galloway said his personal views have not changed but he stands by the effort of the LGBTQ community to be accepted.  “I believe my opinion, my religious beliefs are the same but we’re all in this together,” he said.

 

The pride flag was presented Monday during the La Porte City Council meeting by Elissa Affeld, a member of the local LGBTQ community and the city’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.  She spoke about acceptance as part of June being Pride month dedicated to celebrating LGBTQ communities worldwide.

 

Affeld blamed lack of acceptance for LGBTQ members having much higher rates of homelessness, mental health and substance abuse issues.  She also expressed a desire for the city to fly the flag during the remainder of Pride month “as a symbol to those in the community that the city of La Porte is not only diverse but accepting and inclusive.”

 

Whether the flag will be flown by the city was not mentioned.  Galloway said he has no problem with the flag being flown for the rest of the month but is concerned more flags would have to go up, if requested, to avoid other segments of the population feeling discriminated against.  “If you fly one then you have to fly everybody’s,” he said.

 

Galloway, a veteran of the Vietnam War, said he can relate to the effort by the LGBTQ community for acceptance because he and other soldiers came home from the losing battle feeling shunned by society.  “We’re still fighting for recognition.  I’ll stand with them.  Things are changing,” he said.

 

In July, Galloway during a city council meeting told several LGBTQ members asking for community support “you know that’s against The Bible.”  “Anybody ever read The Bible,” he said.  He later apologized after his comments were met by considerable backlash from Mayor Tom Dermody and other members of the city council.

 

The Diversity and Inclusion Committee, already under consideration, was later formed to promote La Porte as a welcoming community. 

 

Galloway said everyone is entitled to their opinions but he has since learned the beliefs of an elected official can’t get in the way of the job.  “They all don’t believe the same or live the same.  You got to represent everyone. That’s the way it is,” he said.

Charges in Motor Vehicle Fatality

(La Porte County, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with a fatal motor vehicle crash near Michigan City.  24-year old Eric Adair is charged with Operating While Intoxicated Causing Death along with Reckless Homicide.  The Michigan City man is also charged with Never Receiving a Valid Driver’s License.

 

32-year old Nathan Blount also of Michigan City was killed in the accident which occurred in March.  Police said Adair veered over the center line into the victim’s oncoming vehicle on U.S. 35 just south of U.S. 20.  Both drivers were taken by medical helicopter and Blount died the next day, police said. 

 

Adair was being held on $20,000 bond.

Batmobile to Lead Summer Parade

(Michigan City, IN) - More details have been released about this year’s Summer Parade in Michigan City.  The parade is scheduled June 19th.  The theme is Hometown Heroes to honor people who’ve worked hard during the pandemic.

 

Officials say the parade is being held two weeks before the Fourth of July because of the annual Drum and Bugle Corp competition being held that weekend.  That will allow the drum and bugle corp. groups to be in the parade prior to the competition.

 

In addition, the Batmobile from the famous 1960's TV series Batman will lead the parade, officials said.   The parade will begin at 10th and Franklin streets and proceed to Ames Field.

Vintage Car Party Coming to La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Vintage cars will be driving into downtown La Porte later this month.  There will also be live music and other happenings like food and a beer garden.  It’s part of the first Friday Night Live Cruise-In at LaStitch.

 

LaStitch is the area under the lights on Monroe Street just north of Lincolnway.  Officials say the vintage vehicles will be displayed on State Street between Monroe and Clay streets.  The live music will be provided by Spike and the Spitwads and admission to the event is free.

Pride Flag Presented to City

(La Porte, IN) - A pride flag was given to the city of La Porte last night.  The flag was presented by Elissa Affeld of La Porte.

 

June is Pride Month.  “What does pride mean?  To me, pride is a time where I can promote and reflect on self-affirmation, equality and visibility as a member of the LGBTQ-Plus community,” she said.

 

Affeld went on to say LGBTQ members suffer from much higher rates of homelessness, mental health and substance abuse issues because of lack of acceptance by society and Pride Month is a time to reflect on those struggles.  “We hope to see this flag fly during Pride Month as a symbol to those in our community that the City of LaPorte is not only diverse but accepting and inclusive,” she said.

 

Affeld is a member of the city’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee.  “Thank you for your efforts and commitment in making La Porte a better place,” said Mayor Tom Dermody.

 

Last year, City Councilman Roger Galloway came under fire for stating during a public meeting the lifestyle of the LGBTQ community goes against The Bible.  Galloway joined several members of the city in helping to hold up the flag during a picture taking session last night.

Departure from Mayor's Administration

(La Porte, IN) - Director of Community Development and Planning Tom Casey announced his resignation Monday, according to La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody. 

 

Casey, who was hired at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, will end his time with the city on June 17.  "I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the city, and I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked with Mayor Dermody and the rest of the leadership team," Casey said. "It was extremely rewarding to have a role in implementing the city's rebranding program and get to work with partners like the Healthcare Foundation to bring change to the City of La Porte. Though I must move on for personal reasons, I am excited to see the city continue its momentum and reach its potential."

 

Dermody said Casey has impacted big change during his time at City Hall and will be missed.  "Tom's innovative thinking and big-picture ideas have helped us move forward on numerous projects for our city," Dermody said. "While we are sad to see him go, we are grateful for his hard work to improve the City of La Porte and the lives of residents."

 

Dermody Assistant City Planner David Heinold will be filling in until a new city planner is hired. He said more information will be released soon.

Bug Safari Coming Up at Garden Spot

(Michigan City, IN) - Friendship Botanic Gardens will host a FREE afternoon of invertebrate adventures in the diverse natural habitats found throughout its 105 acre garden park with the annual Bug Safari event for children and families.  It’s scheduled June 13 from 2-4 p.m., 

 

Families can discover a hidden world of marvelous mini-beasts living all around us while viewing live creepy crawlies.  Visitors are encouraged to bring nets and magnifying glasses to learn about the crucial roles insects play in our lives through hands-on citizen science, free children’s craft activities and treats from Kona Ice. 

 

Friendship Botanic Gardens is located at 2055 East US Highway 12 in Michigan City, Indiana.   For more information, contact Friendship Botanic Gardens at (219)-878-9885 or events@friendshipbotanicgardens.org.  The group can also be reached at facebook.com/friendshipgardensindiana on Twitter @FBGIndiana or on Instagram @Friendship_Botanic Gardens.

New Vaccination Clinic for Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - A new COVID-19 vaccination clinic is opening in Michigan City.  The clinic will be at the Pentecostal Temple Church of God and Christ at 2722 Wabash Street on June 9-12.  The clinic will operate from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Joe Haney said the idea is to boost the vaccination rate in

Michigan City which has a slightly lower rate than the countywide average of about 45-percent.  People will be able to choose between the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which requires just one shot to be fully vaccinated, or the Pfizer vaccine.

 

Haney said the clinic will reopen to give people receiving the Pfizer vaccine their second dose needed to be fully vaccinated.  The Pfizer vaccine is also available to children ages 12 to 17.

Closer Tabs Kept on Short Term Rentals

(Michigan City, IN) - Short term rentals in Michigan City will have to be registered under an ordinance adopted by the city council on June 1.  The 5 to 4 vote was in response to complaints about loud noise from parties at homes converted into places of lodging during the summer.

 

Under the measure, short term rental owners have to register their properties at the police

department.  There is no cost to register and no fines.  Originally, the proposed cost to register was $150 and fines could be levied for violations such as loud noise and litter.  The penalties were removed after the measure first presented April 20 was further discussed by members of the city council. 

 

City Councilman Don Pryzbylinski said the ordinance was not needed right now because the police responded to just three loud noise complaints last year near the lakefront where short term rentals are heaviest.  He suggested taking action next year if loud noise complaints in the coming months skyrocket.  Pryzbylinski said law enforcement has more pressing issues than investigating a loud noise complaint.  “Last year, we had eight murders in Michigan City.  This year, we’ve had I believe two. Shooting are on the way up.  I think the police department has better things to deal with than to worry about if an Airbnb is registered,” he said.

 

Councilman Bryant Dabney said not all of the complaints are documented because some people are afraid of calling the police about loud noise out of fear of retaliation.  He also said short term rentals should be regulated because they’re operated as commercial establishments.  “These are businesses.  They’re turning homes into hotels,” Dabney said.

 

Dabney also said the city council was not doing anything that hasn’t already been at the state level of government which has requirements in the books for short term rentals.  “Sometimes it takes a legislative body to do some things just to have peace in the neighborhood.  That is what this is all about,” he said.

Trump Supporter Running for Congress

(New Buffalo, MI) - A New Buffalo man wants to help keep alive the Make America Great Again movement started by former President Donald Trump. 

 

Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott told supporters defeating longtime incumbent Congressman Fred Upton in the 2022 republican primary won’t be easy.  He said Upton is part of a machine with deep pockets of campaign money from lobbyists but hopes his grass roots message of government for the people will resonate with enough voters to put him over the top.  “If I’m elected, the first lobbyist that walks into my office with money I’m just throwing their ass out of the office.  I can’t be bought,” he said. 

 

More than a dozen supporters turned out for his June 5 presentation outside New Buffalo Township Hall.  Scott said he’s pro-life, keeping God at the forefront in the nation, preserving the U.S. Constitution and supports border security.

 

He said democrats are allowing illegal aliens into the country from Mexico for votes instead of following the long established process for achieving citizenship.  “Let them come in like our forefathers, the correct way,” Scott said.

           

Scott also said Social Security is in trouble because it keeps getting dipped into by uncaring politicians but would fixed if lucrative benefits from serving in Congress were replaced strictly with pay outs from Social Security.

 

He also sounded alarm bells on what he believes are steps presently being followed toward communism.  Scott said the symptoms include making people more dependent on government to meet their needs in areas like health care, food and housing.  Other warning signs include the push for gun control and removing belief in God from government.  "People don’t take your eye off the ball.  This is what’s happening,” he said.

 

Scott said he agrees with the policies of Trump but wishes he would have taken a different approach to get his points across.  He said Trump from being a man of the people in The White House ”had it right” but is paying for it by an establishment doing all it can to make sure he doesn’t run again.  Scott said targeting Trump is also a way for the ruling class from both parties out for themselves to tell the public “how dare you people elect someone that’s not one of us.”

 

He also said there are too many politicians who are not public servants and one way to tell is the salary for a member of Congress pales in comparison to the millions of dollars spent on their campaigns.  “It’s a swamp of people who are there for the money,” Scott said.

 

His other upcoming campaign stops include Lehman’s Orchard Brewery and Farmhouse at 204 N. Red Bud Trail in Buchanan.  Scott will be there as one of the speakers at a June 27 program called “The 2020 Election: A Loss of Public Trust & What To Do About It.”  The program hosted by the Republican Women’s Federation of Michigan is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m.

Free Summer Meals for School Kids

(La Porte, IN) - Free meals will be served again to school kids in La Porte during the summer.

 

Food will be available from June 14 to July 15 from 12:15 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. at Riley, Kingsbury, Hailmann and Kingsford Heights elementaries as well as La Porte High School, Kesling Middle School and the former Boston Middle School.

 

Meals will also be provided July 19-29 from 11 a.m. to noon at Hailmann Elementary and the old Boston Middle School.

 

Kids can also take home a breakfast bag to go during their meal visits. 

Fourth of July Parade Entries Still Accepted

(La Porte, IN) - Entries are still being accepted for the Fourth of July parade in La Porte.

 

According to parade officials, applications to be in the parade have been coming in

nicely.  The deadline to apply for entries is June 15th.

 

The Kiwanis Club of La Porte is sponsoring the parade this year because of the La Porte Jaycees citing declining membership withdrawing.  Kiwanis Club President Drummond Osborn said this year’s parade will be a mix of old and new.  For example, the annual 5K run is still scheduled while new features include free fun things to do for kids at Plaza 618.

 

For more information, go to kiwanisclublaporte.org.

The Life of John Johnston: A Story Worth Sticking To

(La Porte County, IN) - There was a memorial service this weekend for a little-known La Porte County inventor with a remarkable claim to fame. 

 

Michigan City’s John Johnston, co-inventor of duct tape, has passed away.  “He was probably the smartest guy I ever knew,” said his son Dr. Ian Johnston, who recounted his father’s incredible life.

 

Born in England, John Johnston worked with radar for the Royal Air Force during WWII.  According to son Ian, at that time, radar was a new technology and very top-secret.  In fact, after his training, Johnston was required to burn his notes.  After the war, Johnston began his career in adhesives with a company in Hull, England.

 

His prowess caught the attention of none other than Dr. William Scholl, who recruited Johnston to his new company, Arno Tapes in Michigan City.  According to Johnston’s son, they came to America with Scholl’s help.  “In 1959 to come to this country,” he said, “you had to have a sponsor, and so our sponsor was Dr. Scholl.”

 

Johnston spent the better part of seventy years researching and developing adhesive tapes, finally retiring only a year ago due to failing eyesight. A prolific researcher, Johnston at one point developed eighteen new tape products in eighteen months.

 

His crowning achievement, of course, was that silvery miracle that keeps everything together. Even though previous versions of the sticky-strong tape already existed, the one that stuck came from La Porte County.  “The duct tape we know today,” said Johnston’s son Ian, “was developed at Arno Tapes in Michigan City.  It was a small team, and they have the patent. I’ve seen the patent; he has it in his files.”

 

During his career, Johnston literally wrote the textbook on adhesive tapes; he toured the world teaching and consulting; he helped the National Archives with documents damaged by tape residue; he even lectured at the FBI Academy and helped them solve cases with his expertise.

Ian recalled a time his father was contacted by the FBI about a crime involving a piece of tape. With only some basic specifications, Johnston was able to identify the brand off the top of his head. He also caught a measurement error without even seeing the evidence. “That’s an example,” Ian said, “of what kind of mind he had.”

 

According to Ian, his dad recited large chunks of poetry that he had learned as a boy. He was also quite an artist, decorating his kids’ bedrooms with pictures of Disney characters that he drew himself.

 

Johnston spent nearly twenty years in Michigan City before moving to North Carolina, where he passed away last week.  Cutler Funeral Home hosted a memorial service for John Johnston on Saturday. Fortunately, his great invention lives on.

 

Special thanks to Dr. Ian Johnston for a gracious interview and credit to him for details from his father's obituary.

Record Number of Job Openings Reported

(Washington, DC) - The number of unfilled jobs across America has hit a record high. 

 

According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, 48% of small businesses had open job positions last month.  That percentage has gone up steadily over the last four months. 

 

And it’s not just low-wage jobs that are going unfilled.  According to the survey, 51% of open positions in the construction industry are for skilled workers.

 

56% of small businesses have either raised their wages already or plan to do so in the next few months. To view the full report, visit the NFIB website.

 

Many business owners blame the boost in unemployment benefits over the past year. Federal unemployment benefits end here in Indiana on June 19th.

Michigan City Man Arrested After Motorcycle Chase

(St. Joseph County, IN) - A Michigan City man was arrested after allegedly leading police on a motorcycle chase.  It happened Thursday evening east of La Porte on State Road 2.

 

According to reports, a State Police Trooper spotted a 2013 Kawasaki Ninja speeding near Quince Road heading toward LaPorte County.  Once pulled over, the biker, 28-year-old Timothy Hefner of Michigan City, reportedly took off in the opposite direction of traffic. After changing direction twice more along State Road 2, Hefner led police onto the US 20 bypass, where an officer was able to cut him off near the Mayflower Road exit.

 

Hefner was in possession of alleged controlled substances. He was also charged with resisting law enforcement and reckless driving and was taken to the St. Joseph County Jail.

Vaccinated Kroger Shoppers Can Hit the Jackpot

(Cincinnati, OH) - If you’ve gotten, or will get, a COVID vaccine at Kroger, you could win the lottery.  Kroger will be handing out over $5 million through July 10 to lucky vaccinated shoppers.

 

Each week, Kroger will award someone with a check for $1 million.  50 other winners will receive free groceries for a year.

 

To enter online, you must receive or have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at a Kroger store or Kroger-sponsored event.  For details and official rules and to enter the drawing, visit krogergivaway.com.

Virtual Private Schools Get Approval in Indiana

(Indianapolis, IN) - Virtual private schools are now a thing in Indiana.  This week the State Board of Education approved two online private schools.  FaithPrep is a religious school, and GEO Focus Academy is focused on college prep.  Both schools are K-12.  FaithPrep is an online branch of Columbus Christian School.  GEO has physical campuses in Indianapolis and Gary.

 

It’s the first time private online schools have been accredited in Indiana.  The two virtual academies will participate in the state voucher program, allowing eligible families to receive publicly-funded scholarships to cover the cost of tuition.  The voucher program was recently expanded by the state legislature.

La Porte County Adopts Quality Work Measure

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte County government has taken action designed to assure quality construction work and other fair practices.  The La Porte County Commissioners have adopted requirements for county government construction projects.

 

Under the measure, companies bidding for county government construction jobs must have an established apprenticeship program and at least five people who have gone through the apprenticeship program within the past five-years.

 

La Porte County Commission president Rich Mrozinski said the requirements assure quality work and discourage so-called fly by night contractors from bidding on jobs.  Mrozinski said some companies undercut reputable firms using union labor by paying cash to their workers and that means no tax money collected on wages.  He said companies underbidding because of cheaper labor costs perform work that sometimes looks high quality then later requires fixing at an additional cost.

 

The City of La Porte adopted a similar measure last year to assure quality construction and taxes taken out on wages. 

Police Officer is Donut Eating Champ

(Michigan City, IN) - A La Porte County Police officer came out the winner in a donut eating contest today.  Sgt. Andrew Hahn ate nine donuts in 10 minutes then was congratulated by his aunt, who squeezed his cheeks after the contest. 

 

He defeated Michigan City firefighter Randall Hallett by one donut.  Hallett tried shoving three stacked up donuts into his mouth toward the end of the contest but he couldn't take another bite. 

 

There were eight other contestants at Blue Chip Casino.  The fund raising event was for the Michigan City Salvation Army which has hosted five previous donut eating competitions on National Donut Day.  About $1,000 was raised by the contestants today while Blue Chip Casino kicked in another $50,000.

 

He said mind over matter, a technique he was advised to use prior to the contest, allowed him to keep eating when he felt like stopping.  “I didn’t know if I was going to make it or not.  It was getting hard to put some more donuts in,” he said.  Eventually, Hahn couldn’t keep ignoring what his stomach was telling his brain and gave up with 30 seconds left on the clock.

 

National Donut Day was started by The Salvation Army during the Great Depression to raise funds and bring awareness to the evangelical organization’s social service programs.  The name stems from the efforts of women in the Salvation Army going to France starting in 1917 to help comfort and encourage soldiers during World War 1.

 

Michigan City firefighter Scott Kaletha holds the record in the competition by eating 15 donuts in 2018 with help from a half gallon of milk.

Milo Leaving Governor's Office for Private Sector

(Indianapolis, IN) - A former mayor of La Porte is stepping down from her position with the

governor’s office. 

 

Blair Milo has been Indiana Secretary of Career Connections and Talent since 2017.  The position was created by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb to fill projected job openings in the state over the next 10-years and link people to those job opportunities. 

 

“Communities across the state have been able to strategically focus on how to collaborate regionally to harness the talent of Hoosiers and make strides in connecting education institutions with employers working to grow so that the entire state flourishes, thanks to the commitment of Secretary Milo,” Gov. Holcomb said. “I had a vision for connecting communities, growing regionalism, and sharing best practices, and she brought it to life.

 

Milo is entering the private sector.  She is launching the Center for Talent and Opportunity, a partnership with the Sagamore Institute and two other organizations.  Her focus will be getting more women and minorities to become business owners.

 

"It has been my honor to join Governor Holcomb’s team and work alongside a host of public servants to connect Hoosiers to a sense of earned success and employers to the talent needed to grow,” Secretary Milo said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to witness first-hand the opportunities for entrepreneurs in Indiana, and I’m excited to continue that work moving forward.” 

 

Milo was in her second term as Mayor of La Porte when she left to become a member of the governor’s cabinet.

Bilingual Banking in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte now has a full service banking center for people speaking Spanish.  It’s at the Horizon Bank branch at 301 Boyd Boulevard.  According to Horizon officials, the center provides Spanish speaking customers with services related to things like mortgages and maintaining credit.

 

Two years ago, Horizon opened its first bilingual branch in Whiting.  Horizon officials say the effort is to ensure the public the bank is dedicated to supporting diversity, inclusion and giving back to local communities.

Art in the Form of Trash Cans

(La Porte, IN) - More art work is on display in La Porte thanks to art students from La Porte High School.  The park department provided 55 gallon size garbage cans to the students who painted

different designs on the metal cans.

 

Park Department Superintendent Mark Schreiber said the first cans painted by the art students were first placed at Unity Park at Pine Lake several years ago.  “It’s just great first of all to have any type of art in the parks.  I think it just really brightens things up and draws people in,” he said.

 

Schreiber said the work also gives the students a sense of community.  The new painted cans are going in at Soldiers Memorial Park.

Final Zoning Approval for Proposed Fertilizer Plant

(La Porte, IN) - A fertilizer plant is another step closer to being approved in Kingsbury.  The La Porte County Commissioners gave final approval yesterday to a zoning change.   The proposed fertilizer processing facility at Kingsbury Elevator was rezoned from business to heavy industry.

 

Recently, the company received and stored nitrogen fertilizer despite not having all of the approvals.  Company officials explained the order was placed in December because the project was expected to be approved in March.  The anhydrous ammonia fertilizer was already being shipped when snags developed in the approvals process.

 

La Porte County Commission president Rich Mrozinski said final approval was needed now so the fertilizer can get to farmers before expiring.  “After 14 days the chemicals become junk.   That would place Kingsbury Elevator out of about a half million bucks.  We can’t let that happen,” he said.

 

A special exception to the new zoning is still required because of the chemical involved in the proposed facility.  The special exception is expected to be sought from the La Porte County Board of Zoning Appeals in the very near future.

Explore La Porte on Friday

(La Porte, IN) - The public is invited to see first hand several developments in La Porte.  Presentations will be given at places like the resort type apartments going up at New Porte Landing.  Other stops include the new Rural King store at Maple Lane Mall being revitalized and a spec building going up at the Thomas Rose Industrial Park.

 

The tour Friday will run from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and it’s free.  Participants will be given a map to all five locations.  People who go to each location will have a chance a winning a 65 inch TV.  Appetizers will also be served.

 

For more information, contact the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership or go to their website at laportepartnership.com.

Area Dairy Farmer Part of History

(Plymouth, IN) - A Plymouth dairy farmer was like a center in football snapping the ball to the quarterback not knowing history was in the making.  Helio Castroneves was the first winner of the Indianapolis 500 to add strawberry flavoring to his milk at Victory Circle.  He was handed the traditional bottle of cold milk by Jill Houin of Homestead Dairy.

               

Houin was just a short distance away when Castroneves drank about half of the milk before adding strawberry flavored powder to the bottle and gulping down the rest.  She said she thought it was cool that Castroneves put his own signature on the grand moment without breaking from the chain of winners drinking milk without artificial flavorings since the 1930’s.  “He celebrated traditionally and then he got to celebrate the way he wanted to and I’m humbled to be a part of that whole day,” she said.

 

Castroneves said he wanted the milk in a glass bottle to reflect the pink color of his car and team uniform.  Houin is calf manager, tour guide and social media publicity manager at the dairy owned by her husband, Brian, a fifth generation owner of the farm at 11505 13th Rd.  Close to 5,000 head of dairy cattle are at the farm whose milks goes to the Walmart processing plant in Ft. Wayne for sale by the store chain.

 

The dairy industry is hoping for a boost in demand from Castroneves giving more exposure to how milk tastes great in various ways.  Stagnant milk sales are blamed on additional beverage choices hitting the market in recent years.  “There are so many options in the dairy aisle at the store and he got to make it a little more personal for him so I think that was just a great opportunity to share in the choices of dairy,” Houin said.

Former Teacher/Elected Official Remembered

(La Porte, IN) - A former longtime school teacher from La Porte has passed away.  Ron Clindaniel was also a former member of the La Porte County Council.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski says it was Clindaniel who encouraged him to get involved in public service close to 15 years ago when there was an open seat on the La Porte County Council.  Mrozinski ran for the seat and was elected then leaned on Clindaniel for help along the way.

 

“He always had very good advice. He was also very neutral as far as politics go. He was concerned about what was best for the county.  I really appreciated having him as a mentor.  He was one of the nicest men I ever met in my life,” he said.

 

Mrozinski said Clindaniel was also one of his high school teachers and later his daughter had him as a teacher.  Clindaniel, who also was a driver’s education instructor for decades, was 85.

First Summer Concert Tonight

(La Porte, IN) - There’s going to be a lot rockin’ and rollin’ in La Porte this evening.  The first in a series of concerts this summer will feature a Billy Joel and Elton John tribute band.  The band will be on the stage at Fox Park.  Also playing is Dr. Groovy and the Soul Surgeons.

 

The music will begin playing at 7 p.m.  As always, admission is free but donations are accepted to help pay for the performers during the season. 

 

The concert series is known as Arts in the Park which started 20-years.  Concerts are held every Wednesday and Thursday at Fox Park during the summer.

Satellites Orbiting for Landing at Regionals

(Union Mills, IN) - A local high school baseball team is gearing up for the regionals in the Indiana State High School Athletic Association tournament. 

 

The South Central Satellites defeated Oregon Davis for the sectional title on Monday.  The Satellites take on another area team in the first game of the regionals at South Bend Clay.

 

South Central plays Washington Township, which is between Westville and Valparaiso, on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Open Window Short for Using Fireworks

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police are reminding the public the use of fireworks is restricted to certain days and times.

 

Police say fireworks can be used in Michigan City only from June 29 to July 3rd from 5 p.m. until two hours after sunset.  July 4th from 10 a.m. until midnight and July 5th through July 9th from 5 p.m. until two hours after sunset.

 

Police say the use of fireworks outside those parameters will be met with a $50 fine.  The fine is $100 for a second offense and $150 for a third offense.

 

Police say use of fireworks is only allowed by people 18 and over.

Short Term Rental Crackdown Adopted

(Michigan City, IN) - Short term rentals in Michigan City will have to be registered.  The city council passed an ordinance requiring vacation home rentals register with the city by a 5 to 4 vote last night.  The action is in response to complaints such as loud noise coming from short term rental homes.

 

Councilman Don Pryzbylinski questioned the need and said the police department Is already busy enough handling more serious matters.  “Last year, we had eight murders in Michigan City. This year, we’ve had I believe two.  Shootings are on the way up.  I think the police department has better things to deal with than to worry about making sure an Airbnb is registered,” he said.

 

Supporters of the ordinance say short term rentals having to register will allow laws governing things like noise to be better enforced because the names of the property owners are on record and they can be contacted easier to make the corrections.

 

Councilman Sean Fitzpatrick alleged the ordinance is a form of discrimination by singling out certain homeowners using their properties to subsidize their incomes.

Vaccination Rate Keeps Rising

(La Porte, IN) - The COVID-19 vaccination rate in La Porte County continues to inch upward.  La Porte County Health Department Administrator Amanda Lahners during this morning’s La Porte County Commissioners meeting reported the vaccination rate in the county is 44.5-percent.  That’s about four percent higher than it was about two weeks ago.  “We still have a long way to go,” she said.  Lahners said a 70-percent vaccination rate is needed to achieve herd immunity.

 

During the meeting, Dr. Vidya Kora said the rate would be higher if fewer people were hesitant about taking the vaccine.  Kora, who has a medical practice in Michigan City, said he hasn’t seen one COVID-19 patient in the past two months that has been vaccinated.  He indicated that what they're seeing now is thatnNon-vaccinated individuals are winding up in the hospitals and sometimes battling the long term effects of the virus.

 

Kora also advised people not to believe the myths about the vaccine which he believes has contributed to the hesitancy about receiving it.

Restaurant Planned for Downtown Landmark

(New Buffalo, MI) - It appears a former retail store in downtown New Buffalo is going to be turned into a restaurant.  The city’s Planning Commission last night approved outdoor dining at the old New Buffalo Pharmacy at U.S 12 and Whittaker St.

 

There’s been considerable interest in converting the building into a restaurant by a man in the fine dining industry in Chicago.  Planning Commission member Bill McCollum said the front of the building would be made shorter by 15 feet to create the outdoor dining space facing Whittaker St.  Final approval of the fine dining area now goes before the city council for final approval. 

 

McCollum said the restaurant would have enough space inside to accommodate more than

100 customers at a time.  He said the exterior of the building would also be given a new look with many outside windows to be added. 

 

Hometown Pharmacy located at the rear of the building will remain along with its drive up window, he said.  New Buffalo Pharmacy was a fixture in the community for decades but has sat empty for a couple of years. 

Traffic Light Help Sought from Public

(La Porte, IN) - A system of traffic lights held up by cables is not the vision for a pedestrian friendly downtown officials are working hard to create in LaPorte.

           

Mayor Tom Dermody unable to stop what could be viewed as an eyesore has chosen to turn lemons into lemonade.  He’s seeking ideas from the public on how the new traffic lights being installed by the Indiana Department of Transportation can be more aesthetically pleasing.  “This was an agreement made before I was in office.  We understand it and we’re going to make the best of it,” Dermody said.

 

INDOT spokesman Adam Parkhouse said new traffic signals are part of the upcoming resurfacing of Indiana 2 in the downtown.  New traffic signal poles, taller and larger in diameter than the existing ones, are being installed.  Eventually, new signal lights will hang from cables stretched from new poles at every downtown intersection.  Traffic signals downtown are presently attached to mast arms extending out from the poles.

 

Parkhouse said he understands why the mayor’s office prefers a design similar to what’s in place now but a last minute change in the project would be too costly and time consuming.  He said not only have materials been delivered but foundations for the new poles are already being poured.  “At this point, it’s kind of late in the ball game to make a change like that,” he said.

 

Parkhouse said the traffic light system going up is standard to what INDOT installs on state highways.  He said communities well in advance, though, are given the option of choosing a traffic light system without cables but they have to pay the difference for the upgrade. 

 

Parkhouse said LaPorte was approached with the project about two-years ago and declined the upgrade which would have come to about $250,000.  Dermody said the previous administration must have felt the money for such an improvement just wasn’t there.

 

Among the ideas already received by the mayor’s office include painting the poles orange and black to reflect the school colors.  “We have a creative community.  We’ll figure out a way,” Dermody said.

 

More special events and ongoing building façade improvements are just a sampling of what’s been happening to improve the downtown experience.  The biggest impact, perhaps, would come from construction of a four lane bypass to reduce heavy truck traffic.  Federal funding to build the estimated $100 million highway is currently being sought.

 

Dermody said no decisions on how to beautify the traffic lights will be made until after the project is completed.  In the meantime, Dermody said ideas can be shared on the city’s Facebook page or his personal Facebook page or by contacting his cell phone at (219) 363-7293.  “Over time, we’ll take a look and see what we can do,” he said.

Beggar Could Face Prison Time

(La Porte, IN) - A local panhandler could be begging authorities for leniency.  Ricky Sansom is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with intimidation.

 

According to La Porte City Police, officers about a month ago were called to Family Express on Indiana Avenue.  Police said a store clerk told him to stop asking people for money.  Sansom left but returned an hour later and was told he was now banned from the store.  In response, he allegedly told the store clerk he was going to get a gun and blow up everyone

and the store.

 

Sansom is charged with a level 6 felony which carries between a six month and two and a half year sentence.

Ollie's Air Conditioner Bandits on Ice

(La Porte, IN) - Two men were quickly wrapped up after stealing from Ollie’s Bargain Outlet in La Porte on Friday.  Orlando Douglas, 56, of South Bend and Kiran McAllister, 39, of Chicago are charged with Class A misdemeanor theft.

 

Late Friday morning, officers responded to a report of a robbery at the store at the Pine Lake Shopping Center.  Officers scoured the area looking for a pick-up truck with a specific license plate number provided by a witness.

 

The suspected getaway vehicle with two men matching the description of the thieves was soon located at Indiana 2 and 700 East.

 

La Porte Police Detective Victor Aguilar said the investigation revealed a theft, not an actual robbery, occurred.  He said the two men walked past the registers and out of the store with two portable air conditioners inside a shopping cart.  They left behind one of the air conditioners when confronted by a store employee instructing them to go back inside and pay for the items, he said.

 

Aguilar said everyone from the responding officers to the witnesses did a great job in providing and gathering a lot of detailed information that helped make the apprehensions.  “The county assisted us in locating the suspects out in the county,” Aguilar said.

Slicers Not in La Porte Regionals for Baseball

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte is hosting the regionals in the Indiana High School Athletic Association baseball tournament.  However, the Slicers will not be on the field.  La Porte lost to Mishawaka 7-3 in the sectional semi-finals on Saturday.  The 23-7 Slicers were fully expected to win against a team with a lot more losses than wins.

 

Chip Jones, play by play announcer for Slicers games on 96.7 The Eagle, says the Slicers beat themselves while Mishawaka played above their heads.  “The Slicers strengths all year were our pitchers didn’t walk anybody and we caught the ball.  We didn’t give people extra outs.  We walked seven or eight guys in that game, made three or four errors.  Really all uncharacteristic.  Mishawaka, who was prone to make some mistakes, and walk some people and make some errors, played errorless baseball. Not only that they made some really unbelievably great plays,” Jones said.

 

The sectional champion was South Bend Adams who defeated Michigan City in the semi-finals then hung on to win 2-0 against Mishawaka in Monday’s title game.  Valparaiso and Munster are among the four teams in the regionals which will be played Saturday at Schreiber Field.  La Porte is also hosting the semi-state portion of the IHSAA baseball tournament.

Arrest in String of Thefts

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man accused of taking things from inside vehicles is also accused of

stealing a vehicle.  Alexander Lopez is charged in La Porte Circuit Court.

 

According to police, Lopez is suspected of rummaging through vehicles about 10 days ago.  At some point, police said Lopez during the theft spree was outside a home in the 200 block of East Street and found the keys of a pick-up truck underneath the driver’s seat.  He allegedly took off in the vehicle.  Police said Lopez hit a street sign along with two small trees then pulled up to Family Express on Indiana Avenue in the stolen truck with a flat 35 inch tire and front end damage.

 

Police said they also seized numerous items that appeared stolen from the vehicles he allegedly had gone through. 

 

Lopez has since posted bond.

City Halls Reopening

(La Porte County, IN) - City Hall buildings in La Porte and Michigan City are open again to the public, as of today.  Access had been restricted since March of 2020 due to COVID-19.

 

According to the Mayor’s Office in La Porte, residents entering the building will have to wear masks, and those attending city government meetings in person will also have their temperature taken. The city will continue offering drive-through service and live streamed meetings.

 

Michigan City will also require masks in all public areas of City Hall.

 

Some Michigan City government meetings will also return to in-person, starting with tonight’s Common Council meeting.  Masks will be required.  Online Zoom access to meetings will continue.

 

COVID-19 precautions at the city buildings will be reevaluated on a monthly basis.

Fatal Fire near Lakefront

(Beverly Shores, IN) - An elderly man died in a house fire close to the Lake Michigan shoreline in Porter County last week.

 

According to authorities, 88 year old Stephen Pavloff was found dead

in a bedroom area of the residence in Beverly Shores.

 

The house sitting high on a sand dune was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.

 

Officials said the cause of the fire was undetermined and will be difficult to prove because of the extent of the damage.

 

 

 

WWII Veteran Greets Memorial Day Crowd

(Portage, IN) - Well over 100 people at the Portage Memorial Day ceremony applauded when a veteran of World War II was introduced on the Founders Square stage.  Robert O. Johnson, 98, stood up from his chair and waved to the crowd.

 

After the ceremony, Johnson said he was part of the Battle of the Bulge, the largest and bloodiest attack fought by the United States during World War II.  The battle marked the beginning of the end of the war because of the heavy losses also sustained by Germany which never recovered.

 

Johnson said he was not on the front lines but was in the thick of battle doing things like working the telephones and cooking at headquarters set up at different locations like France during the war.  He also recalled his ship pulling up anchor from one battle to the other and each time after docking wading with the soldiers to the shoreline. 

 

Momentarily, Johnson broke down while recalling the casualties then spoke about returning home after the war and leaving what little he had on the ship in New Jersey.   "I bid everything good bye right there,” he said.  The brass cross he received on a card after stepping off the boat is now in the hands of his great grandson , Sgt. Andrew Jones, who just retired from the Army.  Johnson resided in Lake Station for more than 60-years before relocating to Portage about seven-years ago.

 

The keynote speaker was U.S. Congressman Frank Mrvan of Hammond.  His congressional district includes Michigan City.   Mrvan said Memorial Day is a time when residents despite their differences unite as Americans to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy.  He said it’s also a time to remember the efforts of all veterans, including those instilling things like patriotism and service to the country in youth.

 

“Our nation has faced challenging times. A pandemic. Economic uncertainty. Social unrest. But, what unites us every single day is that we’re Americans and I hope today that we continue to decide that what unites us in the diversification of our nation makes us stronger as a democracy,” he said.  Mrvan also said the nation can use these tumultuous times to continue being viewed by other nations as “the beacon of freedom.”

 

State Representative Chuck Moseley of Portage said people should always remember everything from the food on their tables to the roofs over their head resulted from the sacrifices of veterans since the beginning of the nation.  He also delivered a famous quote from a long unknown source.  “Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it.  It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it,” Moseley said.

Police Seek Help in Solving Latest Gunfire

(Michigan City, IN) - More gunfire in Michigan City is under investigation.

 

According to police, officers Saturday night were called to the 200 block of Columbia Street

on the city’s west side on a report of shots fired.  A moving vehicle and house were hit with gunshots.  Police said numerous spent cartridges were lying on the pavement.

 

Fortunately, there were no reported injuries.  Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police.

Firefighter Graduates Told Never Lose Heart

(Valparaiso, IN) - 12 firefighters from seven departments in the region have graduated from the District 1 Fire Academy in Valparaiso.

         

Serving people even if they need a shoulder to cry on was the main message they took home from the Friday ceremony at the Multi Agency Academic Cooperative (MAAC) training facility in Valparaiso.  “Don’t forget the compassion,” said La Porte Fire Chief Andy Synder during his address to the graduates and their many family members in attendance.  Snyder also spoke of courage, professionalism and dedication as traits firefighters held to a higher standard by society should practice.  He said compassion, though, is most important even though it can be misinterpreted as weakness.

 

Snyder said the endings are not always happy and firefighters are the ones when there’s nobody else to turn to when people are frantic and needing help.  He told the graduates never forget that a display of care or sympathy for the sufferings and misfortunates of others “is at the core of what we do.”  “Our every day is the people who we serve’s worst day.  You can use that as an opportunity for being a big impact on their life,” Snyder said.

 

The graduates were James and Matthew Augustyn and Nicholas Cercone both from the Whiting Fire Department; Clara Ditchcreek of the Hobart Fire Department; Grant Hunsley and Patrick Nickos both of the Portage Fire Department; Lecil Martin of the New Chicago Fire Department; Zachary Kaminski of the Crown Point Fire Department; Christopher Gaines of the Michigan City Fire Department and Sam Doig, Maxwell Fisher and Jacob Kazmierczak all from the La Porte Fire Department.

 

They completed an 11-week course based on an Indiana State Fire Marshal Office curriculum on the grounds containing six training facilities and an administrative building that also has classrooms. 

 

Not everyone was brand new to the emergency services profession.  Hunsley, for example, received his certification to become a firefighter in Portage after 12-years with the La Porte County Emergency Service.  “For him to start over is nothing short of special,” said Christopher Crail, a firefighter/paramedic with the Portage Fire Department.

 

He’s also a lead instructor at the facility established in 2016 by Stewart McMillan as a legacy to his late father, Clyde, a former firefighter in Gary.  McMillan, whose history includes stints with the Union Township and Washington Township fire departments in Porter County, is chief of the MAAC facility.

 

Previously, Crail said the academy was held at various fire departments in the region and training sites, depending on availability, sometimes changed daily.  Having one location for training simplifies things in areas like scheduling and commuting for participants.  “Wherever the facilities were available we would go there to train.  It’s a lot easier just being able to come here at one facility,” Crail said.

 

The facility, open year-round, is also used for emergency medical and police officer training, said Celina Weatherwax, president of the McMillan Family Foundation.  “We’ve trained hundreds of first responders from northwest Indiana and beyond,” she said.   The close to 20-acre campus featuring things like areas to work simulated fires and a K9 dog park is operated strictly on funds from the foundation and other donations.  “Everything is here. The training, the tools, the props. The different consumables they require as part of their training are provided here,” Weatherwax said.

 

Departments are also welcome to bring in their own trucks and other equipment for training.  Weatherwax said the facility does not have a shooting range but one could be provided, at some point, if sufficient funding becomes available.  Training is provided at no cost to the departments.  “People in the community donate to us.  We also have support from various private sector partners.  Lots of folks are very generous,” she said.

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