Local News Archives for 2022-03

Auditor Not Swayed in Non-Payment Battle

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz says he's prepared for a judge to decide, if necessary, whether he's acting within his authority by withholding payment to the county attorney until he verifies the work submitted on his invoices is valid.


Stabosz's response was fueled by a March 15 written opinion from State Examiner Paul Joyce that a county auditor under state law is not assigned to review every claim with a fine-tooth comb.


Joyce is with the Indiana State Board of Accounts, which oversees local government financing and provides local governments with advise on matters related to local government spending practices.


"The auditor is not statutorily charged with the duty to scrutinize each individual element of the claim or inquire into the specifics of work product," Joyce said.

Joyce also said the public officer or person receiving the goods and services must review and approve the claim. In this case, the La Porte County Commissioners are the recipient of the services provided by La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman.


The commissioners, who annually appoint the La Porte County Attorney, sued Stabosz last year for ignoring their orders to pay Friedman the total amount reflected in his invoices.


In December, both sides reached an out-of-court settlement where Stabosz paid most of what was owed to Friedman but not the $2,500 for work on invoices he questioned.


Stabosz strongly disagreed with Joyce, saying the auditor's job is to make sure all tax dollars are appropriately spent.


Stabosz also said Joyce had not asked him for the invoices and other specifics he's obtained that lead him to believe that Friedman is billing for thing like political work and developing policy.


"Look, Paul Joyce is out to lunch, OK. Paul Joyce is out to lunch. He's looking at it from a very rigid perspective. Don't tell me what to do when I'm the one who's responsible for protecting the financial integrity of La Porte County," Stabosz said.

Stabosz said some of the billings from Friedman are also for work that mirrors the duties of a county administrator. Currently, the county administrator position does not exist in La Porte County government. Stabosz also maintains that Friedman has no authority under his contract with the commissioners to act in such a capacity.


"The contract they have now with Friedman & Associates does not authorize him to act as county administrator, and he's billing the county for things that clearly involve acting as county administrator or county manager," Stabosz said. "You can tell just by reading the line item in the bill that what does this have to do with being an attorney or even being a policy advisor."

Friedman has accused Stabosz of using public office to settle personal and political scores in the past. He also denounced a majority of the La Porte County Council for voting to support Stabosz in his practices despite Stabosz continuing with what Friedman described as a pattern of making "outrageous and unsupported claims against those he disagrees with."


Friedman is suing Stabosz for defamation of character for alleging he runs county government in a lawsuit he filed in February that remains undecided. Friedman also recently announced he would file another lawsuit against the auditor in Stabosz's capacity as a private citizen for non-payment. He says that the non-payment results from actions beyond his responsibilities as an auditor.


Stabosz said he's holding firm in his beliefs and won't pay Friedman on claims he cannot verify as legitimate despite the opinion from the state.


Currently, Stabosz said there is no case law in the state to decide if a County Auditor has ultimate authority over an executuve branch of government like a County Commission in reviewing and deciding whether to pay claims and welcomes defending his position in court, if necessary.


Stabosz said another elected official or members of an elected body having final authority to order payment would be a loophole around the responsibilities of a County Auditor who he considers the ultimate guardian of taxpayer dollars.






Stabosz said Friedman could help solve this problem by providing him with additional information he's seeking to substantiate his claims. In support of Stabosz, the council asked Stabosz to pay Friedman on claims he knows are valid while trying to determine the validity of the other claims.


Stabosz is withholding close to $20,000 in claims from Friedman over the past two months. Stabosz said he hasn't paid any of those claims yet because it's too time-consuming to review each one while investigating the other claims he questions.

Traffic Stop Uncovers Alleged Drug Dealer

(La Porte County, IN) - A sizable cocaine bust has been made during a traffic stop by La Porte County Police. Quentin Cooper, 46, of Chicago, was arrested Tuesday on the Indiana Toll Road.


According to police, Cooper was pulled over for speeding near Rolling Prairie, and during the stop, probable cause emerged to search the vehicle. A large quantity of cocaine was recovered. How much cocaine and further specifics about the case were not released.


The amount of cocaine was significant enough for him to be charged with Dealing in Cocaine as a Level 2 felony. 


Cooper was being held in the La Porte County Jail on a $50,000 bond. He could face anywhere from a 10 to 30-year sentence.

Attempted Murder Charges in La Porte Shooting

(La Porte, IN) - A shooting in La Porte involved two men who were once homeless together. Those are among the new details outlined in the charging information against the suspected gunman, Clifford Wesley.


Wesley, 61, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Attempted Murder and Aggravated Battery. Charles Mischloney was shot Sunday night in the chest and stomach at a residence he was living in with Wesley at 1006 Clay Street.


Court documents indicate the men met each other more than a year ago at a homeless shelter in Michigan City. Both men got jobs at a manufacturing company in La Porte, and Wesley found an apartment to rent.


About three months ago, Wesley allowed Mischloney to move in with him. On the night of the shooting, Wesley told police there was a physical altercation after his roommate complained about what he was watching on TV.


Wesley claims self-defense. Police, though, were not able to substantiate his claims. Wesley also gave various accounts of how the shooting unfolded, and each one conflicted with the evidence gathered at the scene.


Mischloney was gasping for air while Wesley reported the shooting to a 911 dispatcher. Initially, he was reported in critical condition. No updates have been released regarding his presentation condition.

Citizens Organize to Combat Crime

(Michigan City, IN) - A grassroots organization was recently formed to get more citizens actively involved in reducing crime in Michigan City. The Michigan City Crime Prevention and Safety Organization invites the public to its first organizational meeting on April 4.


Second Ward Councilman Paul Przybylinski was involved in forming the group out of concern and frustration that more was is not being done about crime in Michigan City.


“We want to help the community do something instead of just sitting and not doing anything and assist where we can assist,” Przybylinski said.

Ed Bohle, Jr., a former police officer and retired construction worker, said the organization would serve as an umbrella over Neighborhood Watch groups they hope to reestablish throughout the city. The idea is to have more citizens keep an eye out for crime and other suspicious activity and report their concerns and possible evidence to the police.


“A lot of crimes are solved on tips of that nature,” Bohle said.

The group will also educate citizens on how to prevent becoming a victim of crime. Bohle was a police officer in Michigan City when residents were organized to provide law enforcement with extra sets of eyes and ears during the ’70s and ’80s.


“It was a very good solution, and it did work. We’re just trying to reinvent, I guess, the Neighborhood Watch programs," Bohle explained. 

The continued rash of shootings and other crimes like robberies, auto theft, burglaries, and vandalism drives the effort.


Bohle now works private security for the owner of a warehouse near Chicago Street that recently was getting broken into and vandalized, on average, once a week.


Przybylinski hopes input from more citizens will better determine the causes of the uptick in crime and how to address it more effectively.


“It’s about organizing and finding out what’s happening and coming up with solutions,” Przybylinski said.

According to Michigan City Police, there were six homicides last year compared to eight in 2020. In addition, non-fatal shootings dropped from 24 to 19 last year. There were also 399 complaints of shots fired in 2021, which slightly increased from the previous year.


Bohle said gun violence wasn’t as much of a problem when he was on the police force.


“If we had two shootings a year, that was it. It’s kind of out of hand,” Bohle said.

The meeting at 6 p.m. will be inside the Mikropor training center at 4921 Ohio Street.

Amazon Cited as Cause of Delay

(New Buffalo, MI) - Supply chain issues are apparently to blame for the lengthy delay in completing the across street expansion of New Buffalo Middle School-High School. The metal beam structure is up for the 10,000 square foot building to house the high school robotics class and storage for the Performing Arts Center.


New Buffalo Area Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Leslie said the facility that started to be constructed last summer likely would have been finished by now had there not been supply chain issues. Initially, he said the exterior panels covering the metal structure were supposed to be delivered in November.


Delivery was later pushed back to January, and now the outside panels are expected to arrive in mid-April, which is currently the biggest holdup for the job. 


Dr. Leslie said the same metal wall panels ordered for the school building are the same kind being used in the new Amazon warehouses going up nationwide, and there isn’t enough readily available for everyone waiting for their orders to arrive.


“We kind of got slid down the priority list,” Leslie said.

Leslie said he’s hoping construction of the building will be completed by early August.


Other features of the building will include wood and metal workshops for robotics students to build their computerized devices and props to be constructed for upcoming plays and musicals at the Performing Arts Center. All of that work is occurring right now but in a space too cramped and without adequate room for storage.


The project also involves building six pickleball courts next to the school bus transportation garage and constructing a nearly finished pavilion containing bathrooms and a drinking fountain. As a result, the size of the skate park will become about 50-percent larger than it is presently.


Leslie said the space vacated from relocating the current pickleball courts would be used for turning the half-court basketball court into a full-sized court with a sports court playing surface.


All of the work costs about $5 million. Leslie said the construction delay is not causing any significant issues, but some people eager to use the facilities are becoming restless.


“I think once those wall panels get here, it’ll really get moving along pretty quickly,” he said.

Friedman Shames Council for Support of Auditor

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman feels a majority of the county council has joined the circus of a ringleader auditor proven wrong by the state for not paying some of his claims.


A majority of the La Porte County Council voted Monday night to support Stabosz in his auditing of claims submitted by Friedman. The action was in response to a lawsuit Friedman is about to file against Stabosz as an individual.


Friedman claims Stabosz is acting outside his duties by withholding payments on some of his claims after the county commissioners approved them. In writing, Friedman told councilpersons Earl Cunningham, Mike Rosenbaum, Connie Gramarossa, and Terry Garner he was surprised and disappointed they went along with the auditor's nudging for support.  Also disappointing to Friedman was their endorsement of Stabosz following his latest insulting response to the Indiana State Board of Accounts, the financial accountability wing for the State of Indiana. 


In a letter dated March 15, State Examiner Paul Joyce told Stabosz the auditor under the state law is not assigned the duty of scrutinizing each element of a claim or inquiring into the specifics of a work product. Instead, Joyce explained that the public officer or person receiving the goods and services must review and approve the claim.


In this and a similar case from 2021, the county commissioners argue they are the recipients of the services provided by Friedman since they appoint the county attorney and serve as the executive branch of government. 


“If an auditor fails to timely pay claims or unreasonably prevents the payment of claims, and the county incurs interest or penalties as a result, such interest and penalties may become the personal obligation of the auditor,” Joyce said.

Friedman said Stabosz again exhibited arrogance in thinking he knows better than the state-appointed experts in a letter he wrote to the Indiana State Board of Accounts last week. Stabosz accused the state agency of acting like a "nervous-nellie" in stepping away from its responsibility to protect taxpayers. He also held firm on not paying claims he questions from the county attorney even if it takes going to court.


“As you well know, there is no case law on any of these matters. Perhaps it is time to go to court and have it resolved whether or not a County Auditor, in the good faith execution of his duties to root out fraud, has the right to seek documentation from vendors,” Stabosz said.

Friedman also pointed to Stabosz alleging in the letter that he and his attorney, Alan Sirinek, are "notorious for lying about the facts, creating false impressions and playing games of flim-flam." Friedman told the council members it's another example of the "outrageous, unsupported claims against those he disagrees with" from Stabosz since he took office 15 months ago.


“And the four of you endorse this conduct and even vow to use taxpayer dollars to defend him when he is sued personally for conduct that is outside the scope of his official duties and in explicit violation of the directives of the SBOA’s Chief Examiner? Please say it ain’t so,” Friedman claims.

Friedman also said the lawsuit is against Stabosz personally because his actions are outside the scope of his official duties. Friedman claims that the taxpayers shouldn't be punished for the errant actions of the county auditor. 


"Our position is the taxpayers shouldn't have to pay to defend him for actions the SBOA says are wrong," Friedman said. 

Local Manufacturer Expanding

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte County company is planning to expand. Alexander Chemical at the Kingsbury Industrial Park was granted a tax abatement on an over $6 million investment.


The 10-year tax abatement was unanimously approved Monday night by the La Porte County Council.


Plant Manager Rob Davidson said about 70-percent of what the company makes is for water purification and sanitization for hospitals, schools, and residences. Davidson said the company, founded in 1950, will expand its headquarters and maintenance department.


“We want to build a new headquarters and maintenance facility to improve the site, attract talent and facilitate growth within our facility,” according to Davidson.

More than 40 people currently work at Alexander Chemical, and six new jobs are projected to be added from the expansion.

Another Lawsuit Knocking on Door of Auditor

(La Porte County, IN) - The La Porte County Auditor will be sued again for withholding payments from the county attorney's law firm. Attorney Shaw Friedman plans on suing Tim Stabosz for non-payment.


He said Stabosz will be sued as an individual for acting outside the scope of his duties as auditor to protect taxpayers from incurring any legal expenses or costs. 


For several weeks, Stabosz has withheld payment to Friedman & Associates on work this year he questions as valid. A 4-3 majority of the La Porte County Council this week voted to support Stabosz in his responsibilities to audit claims. Councilwoman Connie Gramarossa, who voted in support of the resolution, said it's the council's responsibility to support Stabosz. 


Stabosz alleges Friedman bills the county not just for legal work but what Stabosz believes is political work and other things more in line with the duties of a county manager. Councilman Earl Cunningham agreed with Stabosz and believed that elected officials could perform some of Friedman's responsibilities at no additional expense. Cunningham, however, did support Friedman & Associates getting paid for any claims not under review. 


One area of contention is that Stabosz is withholding more than just the claims he wants verified, which the council voted not to support. Council President Randy Novak said he should withhold payment on claims he feels are questionable until they're confirmed as legitimate or not legitimate.


Stabosz also withheld payment to Friedman last year for work he questioned as valid and other claims submitted by the county attorney. The La Porte County Commissioners sued Stabosz for ignoring their orders to pay Friedman.  Both sides reached an out-of-court settlement where Stabosz paid Friedman much of what he was owed but not the amount Stabosz questioned as valid. 


Under that settlement, Stabosz released payments of $26,169 to Friedman & Associates but was not required to release the remaining $2,500 payments withheld from Friedman's September, October, and November invoices. 


Attorney Dave Ambers representing Friedman, said he would file the lawsuit late this week or next week. Ambers declined further comment to avoid trying the soon-to-be-filed case in public.


Friedman is presently suing Stabosz on allegations of defamation of character on claims the auditor made against the county attorney over a year ago. That case has not been decided.

Mayors Compete to Help Future Musicians

(La Porte County, IN) - The annual “Magic Baton” competition is returning to the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra for the first time since 2019.  


La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody, and Michigan City Mayor, Duane Parry, will square off in vying to conduct the LCSO at their final concert of the season on Saturday, April 23, 7:00 p.m. at the Civic Auditorium in La Porte. 


This concert is entitled “FILM FEST!” and will feature many movie themes with a tribute to America’s premier composer, John Williams. 


The mayors will be asking for your support and votes ($1.00 per vote). Votes can be purchased at www.lcso.net or by sending a check to the LCSO office at POB 563, La Porte, IN 46352, or by voting on the evening of the concert. Voting will cease after intermission, with the winner determined shortly after that. 


Proceeds from the compiled votes will benefit the LCSO’s “New Generations” initiative, including education concerts, in-school visits, instrument donations, and their Student Apprentice program. 


“The LCSO thanks both Mayor Dermody and Mayor Parry for their willingness to raise funds for the LCSO as well as their good-natured competitive spirit!” said the LCSO’s Executive Director, Tim King.

Amtrak Station Closing in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - The Amtrak station in Michigan City is on borrowed time. According to Amtrak, the station will no longer be served by the railroad beginning April 4.


Riders can use the Amtrak station on Whittaker Street in downtown New Buffalo on the Wolverine and Blue Water routes. In addition, alternate rail service to places like Chicago is still available by using the South Shore Railroad commuter line from the Carroll stop in Michigan City and the stop at Beverly Shores.


No reason was given by Amtrak for closing its Michigan City station. However, there is speculation construction of the double-track on the South Shore commuter line to speed up travel to and from Chicago was a factor.


“We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your patronage,” Amtrak officials said.

Driver Bowls Over Parked Car

(La Porte, IN) - On Monday, one car wound up on top of another car outside a downtown La Porte restaurant. Indications are an elderly driver was attempting to parallel park outside Mama T's in the 600 block of Lincolnway.


The driver's foot became stuck on the gas pedal, sending the car into a light pole and a parking lot beside the restaurant. The speeding car was going fast enough to knock over the pole and upend a parked car onto its side.


The driver's car wound up in the air, with the back end resting on the side of the overturned vehicle. According to witnesses, the driver was not injured.


We'll provide further details once they're available from the police.

Farmers Opposed to Flood Relief Project

(La Porte County, IN) - A group of farmers worried about more standing water in their fields has come out against a plan to alleviate major flooding problems at a LaPorte County subdivision.


Several property owners along Kingsbury Creek alleging their land will be flooded by stormwater discharges from the subdivision voiced their concerns during Monday night's LaPorte County Council meeting.


A contract for over $1 million to carry stormwater from Meadowview subdivision to Kingsbury Creek was approved in early February by the La Porte County Commissioners. The La Porte County Council later approved the funding.


Dairy farmer Andy Minich said their water quality from the spring-fed creek about three miles south of LaPorte would also be negatively impacted by stormwater discharges from the subdivision into the stream. Minich feels for the residents of Meadowview Estates subdivision and the significant flooding problems they've experienced over the years. Still, he believes there has to be another solution suitable for both sides.


"Decisions like this can vastly alter our water quality in our agricultural community. Until now, the county council has only really heard one side of the story. Tonight, several people are here to share the other side of the story on the other end of the drainage pipe," Minich said.

Harold Barr, whose farmland borders the creek, said he would have spoken up sooner but wasn't notified that the project was under consideration to lower the water table in the subdivision.  


The plan requires installing a 1,000 foot long and 36-inch wide drainage pipe to carry excess stormwater from the subdivision to the creek. However, adjacent landowners claim the stream is in a designated wetland that can't handle the discharges without spilling over further onto their property.  


"I'll lose tillable acres over that," Barr said.

Dennis Lantz said the creek running through the middle of his property is already susceptible to flooding during heavy rains. Lantz said the creek had overrun its banks by 300 feet on his land without accepting stormwater discharges.


"1.3 million gallons a day is going to be the minimum that's going to come down there and go through that ditch bank," Lantz said.

Sherry Banic said the creek floods about once per year into her yard on the north side. She also alleged that the application for a permit from the state to construct the drainage pipe has "numerous errors," such as describing the creek and its surrounding area as not wetlands.


"I think it really needs to be really looked at again," Banic said.

The project has been years in the making at Meadowview Estates, where basement flooding happened when sump pumps used continuously stopped running during power outages and when they needed replacing. Several residents in tears from their constant battle with flood-related damage and mopping up floors recently thanked elected officials for their support of the project.


LaPorte County Council President Randy Novak suggested property owners near the creek take their concerns to the April 6 commissioner's meeting. He said the commissioners have the authority to either continue with the project as planned or stop it and find another solution.


"There needs to be more questions answered," Novak said.

Arrest for Weekend Shooting in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - An arrest has been made for a weekend shooting in La Porte that Sunday night in the 1000 block of Clay Street.


Before 10 p.m., police said officers were called to a home where they located a man inside with two gunshot wounds. A firearm was recovered at the scene. The suspect, Clifford Wesley, was taken in for questioning and later charged with Level 1 felony Attempted Murder.


The victim's name and other details involved in the case have not been released because of the ongoing investigation. The victim was airlifted to a hospital in critical condition.

Date Set to Decide Proposed Tax Hike

(La Porte County, IN) - A vote on the proposed increase in the local income tax for public safety was scheduled on Monday night by the La Porte County Council. A meeting is scheduled for April 11 to decide the matter.


During the public comment portion of last night’s meeting, Michigan City Common Councilman Paul Przybylinski said competitive wages for police and firefighters are not a problem in his community after recent contract negotiations. Przybylinski believes that a half percent increase in the local income tax, especially with inflation right now being so high, would create a hardship for too many Michigan City residents.


“The income level and the poverty level in Michigan City, people trying to make it, I believe it’s really objectionable,” Przybylinski said.

LaPorte Mayor Tom Dermody said the working people from Michigan City he’s talked to favor a higher income tax because of how vital it is to maintain quality public safety.


“One thing I’ve heard consistently is when I have an issue, I expect our police, our fires, our EMS to be there when we call,” Dermody said.

Dermody also called the proposal an investment in keeping communities safe. The special meeting for a vote is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. If approved, the income tax now at .095-percent would increase to 1.45-percent.

Maple Syrup Season Not the Greatest

(LAPORTE, INDIANA) - Producers described the maple syrup season this year as anywhere from decent in northern Indiana to very disappointing in southwest Michigan.


The season is over for syrup makers who pulled their taps when sap flows stopped during a week-long streak of mild weather toward the middle of March. Some producers, though, kept their taps in the trees hoping for a return of the daily temperatures below and above freezing needed for one last sap run.


One of them is Don Dodd, who's made only half of the roughly 300 gallons of syrup he averages during a season from his sugar bush outside Niles.


"We had one good run. Everything else was just dribbles," Dodd said.

Dodd first started getting sap at the end of February and, usually, has enough output from his trees to collect until the end of March or early April. However, he hasn't seen a drop from his taps in more than ten days.


Temperatures recently became favorable again for sap to resume flowing, but it might take one or two days for Dodd to know if there's another run left in his maple trees.


"I'll be surprised if it amounts to much," Dodd said.

However, producers in northern Indiana seemed reasonably pleased with their production levels. John Loucks said he expected to have his usual 700 gallons of syrup after boiling the rest of his sap at his sugar house outside New Paris. Loucks reported good sap flows after tapping his trees in late February and pulled the taps about three weeks later.


"We had a pretty good season. I'm happy," Loucks said.

Lamoine Beachler said he had no complaints about the season at his northern Indiana sugar bush. In the middle of March, Beachler pulled the 3,000 taps from his maple trees in Claypool and quit boiling for people who bring him sap from their 5,000 taps.


The quality of the sap Beachler collected toward the end of his season diminished noticeably because of an extended lack of freezing temperatures.


"We were just making pretty strong tasting syrup," Beachler said.

Beachler's syrup is sold out of his sugar house and other retail outlets, farmer's markets, and other producers. He finished the season with about 2,800 gallons of syrup, at the lower end of his average production. Nevertheless, Beachler said he's just happy to be making syrup regardless of the amount.


"I'm reluctant to give a grade on the season. If you start grading a season, you start to grade the creator who gave it to us, and we don't do that. Whatever he gives, we're glad for it," Beachler said.

Lower Bond Sought in Gas Station Shooting

(La Porte, IN) - A suspect in the shooting of a man with a shotgun at a La Porte gas station is requesting a bond reduction. Charles Turner, 35, asked for a lower bond during his initial hearing Friday in La Porte Circuit Court.


Judge Tom Alevizos ordered an investigation into his background to help decide whether to grant or deny the request during a hearing on April 8.


Turner, of 504 Maple Ave. in La Porte, is charged with Level 3 felony Aggravated Battery; Possession of a Firearm by a Serious Violent Felon, and other counts like Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Cocaine.


According to court documents, Turner saw the victim during the afternoon on March 21 inside a vehicle and followed the car to the Conoco station at 104 East Lincolnway.


Turner told police he believed the man stole $600 from inside his home and approached the vehicle with a shotgun. After busting out a window on the vehicle with the butt of the gun, police said Turner, during the confrontation, shot the man in the foot.


Police said the heavily limping victim, identified as Melvin Dowdell, followed Turner across the street to the parking lot of The Pantry and, during a scuffle, tried stabbing Turner with a knife.


According to court documents, Turner was given a knife by bystanders, and all of them chased the shooting victim on foot down Tipton Street. Turner was captured on surveillance video tossing something later identified as methamphetamine and cocaine into a trash can. Turner was also eating marijuana to try and conceal the evidence.


Other charges filed against Turner include intimidation for allegedly threatening harm to a police officer. A standard preliminary plea of not guilty was entered for Turner by the court.


A jury trial in the case was scheduled for early March of 2023.

Arrest in Fatal Hit and Run

(Knox, IN) - An arrest has been made in connection with a fatal hit-and-run accident in Starke County. Travis Lynch, 38, of LaCrosse, is being held in the Starke County Jail on a Level 4 felony charge of Leaving the Scene of a Fatality Accident.


According to authorities, Lynch was traveling U.S 421 in San Pierre on the night of March 14 when he came upon 35-year old Sherman Berry, who was allegedly in the roadway. It appears Lynch did not have enough time to avoid the collision, perhaps, and struck the man with the front end of his truck.


Lynch is accused of fleeing the scene in his vehicle, later recovered from Paul’s Auto Yard in Westville.

Citizens Group Formed to Address Crime

(Michigan City, IN) - Increases in crime will be the focus of an upcoming meeting of citizens in Michigan City. The Michigan City Crime Prevention and Safety Organization was recently formed in response to what the group believes is an alarming increase in crime.


The group's purpose is to reactivate Neighborhood Watch type programs in the community and educate citizens on how to prevent crime.


Anyone wanting to take part is in the effort to bring down crime is invited to the group's first organizational meeting on April 4th at the Mikropor Training Center at 4921 Ohio Street.


Second Ward Councilman Paul Pryzbylinski and former law enforcement officer Ed Bohle were involved in forming the citizens' watchdog group to assist the police. The organization's concerns include not just the increase in gun violence but also burglary and other crimes like vandalism.


The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.


No Vote Tonight on Proposed Higher Tax

(La Porte County, IN) - There will not be a vote tonight on the proposed increase in the local income tax to better fund public safety.


La Porte County Councilman Mike Rosenbaum said the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance, under state law, has to review the proposal first before there can be a vote.


“Because it’s a resolution and has to do with taxes, our attorney sent it down to DLGF, which is the legal department for the state, and they’re reviewing it to make sure everything is in order,” Rosenbaum said.

All 11 municipalities in La Porte County have voted to support the proposed half-percent increase in the local income tax to make wages for emergency responders more competitive with surrounding communities.


The final decision is up to the La Porte County Council, which meets tonight at 6 p.m. Rosenbaum said a public hearing on the proposal would occur at a special county council meeting tentatively scheduled for April 11. A final vote by the council will occur during its meeting on April 25.


Emergency responders have left for jobs in surrounding counties that pay thousands of dollars more annually. Without a tax increase to fund higher wages, officials are concerned about longer response times and lower quality of care from workforce shortages, and a lack of experienced individuals taking their skills elsewhere.

Civic Doubles As a Field of Dreams

(LaPorte, IN) - Some LaPorte little league baseball players got an early start on the season this winter by turning the LaPorte Civic Auditorium into a Field of Dreams.


LaPorte’s youth program allows select players to play in travel tournaments in addition to their regular league schedule. To prep them for higher-level competition, three LaPorte travel teams have been using the Civic for winter practices.


Park Superintendent Mark Schreiber says scheduling the practices has been tight. “We’re thrilled to get the players inside at least once a week,” he said. “With the Civic’s schedule on the weekends and other activities they’ve got there, it’s a little tight.” Noting recent cold, wet afternoons and this weekend’s snowfall, Schreiber says opportunities to practice outside have been few and far between.


Schreiber has it from a good source—his father, long-time Slicer baseball coach Ken Schreiber— that starting the season indoors can really pay off. “When you go indoors, you have to break the game down small,” he said. “My dad always felt that the work they did in January and February in the gym was extremely beneficial, because, again, they had to break the game down small and work on all the finer points. And when you get out on the diamond, you put it all together. Hopefully the kids are getting that same benefit; they put in the hard work in March, and they’ll be ready to hit their expectations come June and July.”


Schreiber says current high school coach Scott Upp has been helpful in developing the travel program, which they see as a win-win for local kids and the high school program. The Parks Department aims to keep the program affordable and convenient for families, while cultivating talent for future Slicer baseball teams.

Bond Lowered for Elderly Mother Charged in Son's Death

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City woman accused of causing the death of her handicapped adult son has been shown some leniency.


71-year-old Mary Wilke had been incarcerated in LaPorte County Jail since the first of March. She is accused of neglecting a dependent resulting in death.


In January her bed-ridden adult son was brought to Franciscan Hospital covered in bed sores and feces. Reports indicate he lingered in the hospital for weeks before succumbing to his ailments.


On Thursday Superior Court I Judge Jaime Oss agreed to allow Wilke’s release from jail for 10% of her $100,000 bond. Wilke’s June jury trial was also cancelled in lieu of an omnibus hearing in May.


Wilke faces 20-40 years in prison for the Level I charge of neglect.

Candidate Forum Coming Up in LaPorte

(LaPorte, IN) - A chance for LaPorte County voters to get to know some local candidates will take place next week.


On Tuesday night, the LaPorte County League of Women Voters will host a candidate forum.


Some of the featured races will be county sheriff, state representatives, and county council, among other trustee and board posts. Candidates will be speaking and taking questions from the public.


The candidate forum will take place on Tuesday in the Commissioners Meeting Room at the LaPorte County Complex at 6 p.m.

Two People Shot in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Two people were shot Friday night on Michigan City’s southwest side.


Police were dispatched to an area just north of US 20 on Hitchcock St. at approximately 7:45 p.m. Two gun-shot victims were transported to Franciscan Health Michigan City with non-life-threatening injuries.


Officers canvassed the area for evidence, and detectives began interviewing witnesses. No details have been released, as the investigation is ongoing.


The Michigan City Police Department would ask anyone that may have witnessed this incident, has any additional information, or has video surveillance / cell phone video of this incident, to contact Detective Mark Galetti at (219) 874-3221; Extension 1088, or email at mgaletti@emichigancity.com.

Rally Day for LaPorte Little League

(LaPorte , IN) - Saturday is Rally Day for LaPorte little leaguers.


The LaPorte Parks Department is hosting a call-out for baseball and softball players ages 9-17, who have signed up for little league. Parents and players can find out their team assignments and other important information about the upcoming season.


Parks Superintendent Mark Schreiber says his staff have been meeting with coaches all week, and the rosters are all set. “We hope to have a great turnout,” he said. “Communication is a big key. If we’re able to lay out the program with the parents to start the season, it will alleviate some of the confusion or issues that might come up later.”


“Weather permitting,” Schreiber said, “we’ll get the kids out practicing in the next week or so.”


According to Schreiber, signups for little league this summer have been as strong as ever. “We’ve been fortunate to keep strong numbers here,” he said. “I know a lot of communities have seen their rec leagues kind of diminish, with travel ball and pay-to-play, but we’ve held really strong.” Schreiber said their rookie division (ages 7-8) grew this year. And LaPorte is one of the few area little leagues to offer both slow and fast pitch girls’ softball.


Saturday’s information rally starts at 9 a.m. in the lower level of the Civic Auditorium, with the various divisions scheduled throughout the day, as listed below:


- Boys Baseball Major (ages 11-12) at 9 a.m.

- Boys Baseball Minor (ages 9-10) at 10 a.m.

- Girls Slowpitch Softball Senior/Junior (ages 10-17) at 11 a.m.

- Boys Baseball Junior (ages 13-15) at noon

- Girls Fastpitch Softball (all divisions) at 1 p.m.

Law Enforcement Youth Camp Sign Ups

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police are extending an olive branch to children interested in law enforcement as a career at the Indiana Sheriffs’ Association 43rd annual ISA Youth Leadership Camps.


The first camp session for residents in the northern part of the state will be  June 13 - 16, at Pine Creek Camp in Pine Village. The second session will be June 28 - 30 for southern residents of the state at Waycross Episcopal Camp in Morgantown. 


The ISA Youth Leadership Camp is a program for boys and girls currently in the 7th or 8th grade interested in learning more about a possible career in law enforcement. 


The camp provides a meaningful experience with relationships established with other campers from throughout the state and sheriff’s deputies who serve as counselors and instructors, police said. 


Anyone interested in attending the camp should contact the LCSO or your school counselor for an application. For more information, visit indianasheriffs.org.

Taxpayer Refunds from State Announced

(Indianapolis, IN) - An estimated 4.3 million Hoosiers can expect a $125 automatic taxpayer refund this spring after the state's revenue collections outpaced expectations last year, according to Indiana State Representative Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie).


“A new law I supported expanded the list of who qualifies for this refund to include those who did not earn enough money to file a state return,” Pressel said.

Pressel said these additional 900,000 Hoosiers should receive a refund because they still pay state sales taxes, which are deposited into the state's general fund, and, in the case of retirees, may have paid income taxes throughout their working years.


In total, he said $545 million would be returned to Hoosier taxpayers, and another $545 million will go toward teacher pension obligations. The Indiana Department of Revenue expects to have refunds processed by May 1 for Hoosiers who complete their taxes by the April 18 deadline.


“Hoosiers work hard and it's important to return money back to taxpayers, where it belongs,” Pressel said.

Local Ukrainian Relief Fundraiser Exceeds Goal

(La Porte, IN) - A church fundraising drive in La Porte to help fleeing residents of Ukraine has already blown past its goal.


Initially, the goal was $5,000 when the drive-by Bethany Lutheran Church fundraiser started last week. However, Pastor Dennis Meyer said the total is over $10,000, and money is still coming in. Meyer said donations have come from around the region.


"We've heard from people from Dyer, from St. John, from Merrillville, from Valparaiso, and, of course, La Porte as well. We're very excited about this," Pastor Meyer said.

Initially, the church offered to match every dollar contributed to the cause up to $2,500. However, Meyer said the match from the church was raised to $5,000 because of the response from donors.


He said the fundraising drive would continue indefinitely. No decision has been made yet on whether the church will increase the match for the third time, but it's entirely possible.


The money will help a Ukrainian refugee facility being created in Poland. 


An abandoned elementary school that Agnieszka Czupryna of Kingsbury attended while growing up in the small village of Podlipie is being converted into a refugee camp. Podlipie is about a three-hour drive from the Ukrainian border. Her husband, Slawek, grew up about 10 minutes away in another town and went to the school for special events. Slawek is a 19 year veteran of the La Porte County Sheriff's Office.


Agnieszka is making the connections in her homeland to ensure the money winds up in the right hands.


Meyer said the idea stemmed from talks he and Slawek were having about the Russian invasion and the suffering it's causing the people of Ukraine fleeing mainly to Poland. 


Bethany Lutheran Church is now flying a Ukrainian flag with flags from the United States and Indiana on poles on the west side of the church. In addition, people can receive Ukrainian flags to pin on clothing like sports coats and other items when they donate to the cause at the church. People can also donate on the church website.


Job Openings for Conservation Officer

(Indianapolis, IN) - People wanting to become conservation officers in Indiana can now apply. According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, they’re looking for highly motivated and outdoor-centered individuals.


Requirements include passing a pre-screening exam and an Indiana Law Enforcement Academy physical fitness test listed at IN.gov/ilea/physical-fitness-standards. Applicants must also be U.S. citizens and turn 21 by October 28. 


Responsibilities of the job include enforcing hunting and fishing regulations and patrolling state waterways, according to DNR officials. Conservation officers also engage in specialty areas like scuba, K-9, search and rescue, and swift water rescue.

Woman Shoots Man in Rolling Prairie

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - La Porte County Police say a woman shot a man during a domestic dispute yesterday.


According to police, emergency responders after 3 p.m. were called about a shooting at a residence in the 4700 block of East Michigan Street where officers learned a 36-year-old woman shot a 37-year-old man during a domestic dispute. The man was transported to a hospital with an upper-body injury, police said.


Police said detectives took control of the scene and are still investigating. No arrests were reported. The shooting victim's condition was not disclosed. They were transported to Memorial Hospital in South Bend. 


Police said no further information about the case is being released.


Also responding were the La Porte County Emergency Medical Service and Kankakee Township Volunteer Fire Department members.

Broadband Connectivity Growing for Students

(Michigan City, IN) - In partnership with Neo Network Development, Michigan City Area Schools has entered Phase 2 of a comprehensive project providing free wireless broadband internet access to a growing number of its students.


Funding for the wireless broadband project has been made possible by a $600,000 grant from the Indiana Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER).


Recently, a 60-foot pole and wireless equipment were installed at Knapp Elementary School, providing free wireless internet service to all MCAS-owned devices at approximately 300 homes within a one-mile radius of the school.


School officials said families in the area would be issued a free, pre-configured router that plugs into a standard home electrical outlet to access the service.


The router will enable school Chromebooks and tablets to access the internet and can be kept in the home until all students residing at that address have left the MCAS district. 


This week, MCAS contacted 65 households in grades PreK-12 living within the immediate coverage area, offering them the router. Once the functionality and service quality is verified, additional families will be contacted at these homes. 


“We are encouraging all 65 of these households to take advantage of this free access, even if they currently have other broadband services,” said Kevin McGuire, MCAS Director of Technology. “This will increase the internet bandwidth in these homes, enhancing their existing service for other family members."

McGuire also said the wireless equipment at Knapp is the latest to be installed on an MCAS building, providing “a swath of connectivity” through Michigan City.


Wireless Hubs now exist at Knapp, the Elston Building, and the Administration Building, providing free broadband to school-issued devices. The service limits access to streaming and video game outlets to ensure that students use the network to complete school-related tasks.


Knapp said work continues to improve performance and optimize the network, which will serve nearly 1,500 households when completed.


Neo Networks CEO Vince Aragona describes the MCAS project as a hybrid LTE/fiber network that utilizes existing MCAS-owned fiber, internet, and MCAS facilities.


“The MCAS project is a case-study example of how innovative K-12 school districts and their IT teams can leverage their assets and infrastructure to deliver fast, reliable, in-home connectivity for students and staff,” Aragona explained.

Beefed Up School Bus Enforcement Planned

(La Porte County, IN) - The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office will be increasing the number of deputies this spring on roadways to ensure that students remain safe when traveling to and from school. 


Over the next couple of weeks, police said deputies would be positioned along bus routes and in school zones where they will be on high alert for stop-arm violations, speeding, and other forms of reckless driving.


The overtime patrols are part of the state’s Stop Arm Violation Enforcement (SAVE) program. They are funded with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) grants administered by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI).


“Every time you see a bus, slow down, be ready to stop and watch for children,” said La Porte County Police Captain Derek J. Allen. 

Allen also said that drivers should speed up to beat a bus under no circumstances.


“If the overhead lights flash red and the stop-arm extends, you are required by law to stop,” Allen said.

Disregarding a school bus stop-arm is a Class A Infraction punishable by a driver’s license being suspended for up to 90 days for the first offense and up to a year for a second offense. Violators can also be slapped with as much as a $10,000 fine.

Michigan City Hits New Development Jackpot

(Michigan City, IN) - Major springboards to a brighter future are unfolding practically all at once in Michigan City. 


Work is beginning on the double track and a new train station with 12 stories of upscale apartments on 11th street. A developer will also build a seven-story housing development at 8th Street and Michigan Boulevard. 


Mayor Duane Parry said 125 housing units for low and middle-income working people and retail space are planned.


“Workforce housing is defined as quality living for those having essential and professional jobs with incomes ranging to 50-percent to 120-percent of the area median income,” Parry said.  

That development will occur at a former Chrysler dealership site. Parry said the construction would be done in phases by one of the nation's largest private apartment building owners.


He expects a groundbreaking on the $35 million projects to occur sometime within the next couple of months.


Parry said a Memorandum of Understanding with a nationally renowned developer was recently signed to construct a $150 million high rise structure on U.S. 12, where the police station and News Dispatch were formerly located.


The nine-story building will contain a 180 unit boutique hotel, 150 luxury condominiums, enclosed parking, rooftop terrace, and retail space. Construction is expected to begin late this year.


A Fortune 500 company also has plans to go up on U.S. 20 across from Evergreen Plaza on land the city is moving toward annexing. So far, the company's name and other specifics have not been disclosed.

Charges in Michigan City Shooting

(Michigan City, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with a shooting last month in Michigan City. 43-year-old Samuel Gross allegedly shot a man on February 4 in the 400 block of West William Street on the city’s north side.


According to court documents, he called the victim outside and shot him in the upper leg, then fled in a vehicle. Gross and the victim know each other well enough to call each other cousins, police said.


The investigation indicates Gross may have been jealous of his girlfriend possibly being inside the same home as the victim.


Gross is charged with Battery with a Deadly Weapon and Criminal Recklessness. According to court documents, the bullet went completely through the thigh of the man who was taken to Franciscan Health.

Man Charged with Child Sex Crimes

(La Porte County, IN) - A man is accused of child sex crimes when he lived in Westville. 29-year-old Thomas Back was arrested Monday by Indiana State Police.


Back is charged with three counts of child exploitation and two counts of possession of child pornography. While the incidents occurred in Westville, Back now lives in the Walkerton area.


So far, specifics involving the allegations have not been released. But, police say authorities became involved after a tip was received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. An online account had been used to exploit children.


Back was being held in LaPorte County Jail on a $20,000 bond.

Taco Fest on Events Calendar Again

(La Porte, IN) - Back by popular demand, Taco Fest is returning and starting the Friday Night Live event series returning for a second season in La Porte.


Taco Fest is scheduled for May 6 from 6-10 p.m. at La Stitch, the newly created event space at the corner of Lincolnway and Monroe.


Taco Night was previously held in October, but the event was moved up to align with Cinco de Mayo and help set the tone for the rest of the season, said Events Director Brent Binversie.


"We've got an exciting summer of events planned for our residents, and we want to kick it off with a bang," Binversie said.

The festival will feature local food and beer vendors, a pop-up artisan market, and live music. Food vendors will also compete for the title of "Best Taco." More details will be announced soon on the city's event calendar.


Artisan and food vendors interested in participating can learn more and apply at livinthelakelife.org. Applications are due by April 22.

Shotgun Used in Gas Station Shooting

(La Porte, IN) - A shotgun has been identified as the weapon in a shooting outside a La Porte gas station.


Charles Turner, 35, was formally charged today with Level 3 felony Aggravated Battery; Possession of a Firearm by a Serious Violent Felon, and other counts like Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Cocaine.


The charges resulted from La Porte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos's ruling the evidence presented by police was sufficient for Turner to answer the allegations.


According to court documents, Turner saw the victim Monday afternoon inside a vehicle and followed the vehicle to the Conoco station at 104 East Lincolnway. According to court documents, believing the man stole $600 from inside his home, Turner told police he approached the vehicle with a shotgun and busted out a window on the vehicle with the butt of the gun.


Turner, somehow, allegedly shot the victim in the foot during the confrontation.


Police said the heavily limping victim identified as Melvin Dowdell, followed Turner across the street to the parking lot of The Pantry and during a scuffle tried stabbing Turner with a knife.


According to court documents, Turner was given a knife by bystanders and all of them chased the shooting victim on foot down Tipton Street. Turner was quickly detained by responding officers.


Police said Turner was captured on surveillance video tossing something later identified as methamphetamine and cocaine into a trash can. Turner was also eating marijuana to try and conceal the evidence.


Other charges filed against him include intimidation for allegedly threatening serious harm to a police officer.

Milo Campaign for Congress Returns Home

(La Porte, IN) - Supporters of a La Porte woman’s bid for a seat in Congress gathered for a fundraiser last night.


The youngest mayor ever elected in La Porte at 28 in 2011, Blair Milo, is running for the 1st District Congressional seat. Milo, a Republican, left in 2017 to become a member of the governor’s cabinet at the Indiana Statehouse.


Milo talked to supporters at a dinner in the 700 block of Lincolnway in downtown La Porte about her platform, which includes stopping the spending of Democrats in the nation’s capital and their other “really harmful” policies.


Milo said the policies have created a border crisis, lack of support for law enforcement, inability to have energy independence, and “the national insecurity that is being advanced by the Democratic leadership.” High inflation is among the other things she blamed on Democrats for their overspending.


The congressional district includes Lake and Porter counties, with a good portion of La Porte County. Milo said it was good to be home campaigning and sharing the successes of her administration when she was mayor and what she would like to do in Washington D.C. 


She also said it’s been great to meet new people in other parts of Northwest Indiana and tell about the successes she and her team can bring to the entire region.


“It’s just a tremendous opportunity and really a blessing, too, to be able to connect up with so many new individuals that are sharing the vision for the mission for what we can do,” Milo said.

La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody said tops on his priority list for Milo would be to bring home as many federal dollars as possible for things like building a highway around the city to reduce heavy truck traffic from downtown.


Milo is running against six other candidates in the Republican May primary.

Transgender Veto Could Be Overturned

(La Porte County, IN) - State lawmakers could override the veto from the governor on a controversial piece of legislation.


The legislature last month voted in favor of a measure to ban transgender athletes from competing against girls in school sports. Governor Eric Holcomb, a Republican, went against his party and vetoed that legislation this week.


State Representative Jim Pressel of Rolling Prairie said he and many other Republicans support the ban. Pressel said there’s no way a girl can compete with a transgender female with a biologically male body. Pressel said an override is likely if the vetoed legislation is presented to lawmakers in the House and Senate during a late May session of the legislature.


“I would think the General Assembly will override that veto if it gets brought back up on correctional day,” Pressel stated.

It takes a simple majority of lawmakers in both the house and senate to override the governor. Republicans, who overwhelmingly supported the ban, have a roughly 2 to 1 supermajority advantage over Democrats who oppose the ban. Democrats, like Governor Holcomb, believe this issue is better solved through the IHSAA instead of the legislator. 

Chase Ends in Crash on U.S. 20

(La Porte County, IN) - A high-speed chase happened late Wednesday morning in La Porte County on U.S 20. Unfortunately, it ended with a crash east of Indiana 39 near Fail Road and Wilhelm Road.


Indiana 39 east of the intersection was at least partially shut down to allow medics and other emergency responders to reach crash victims and clean up the scene.


So far, there are no reports of any significant injuries. At least one person climbed out of a vehicle involved in the crash. We’ll provide more details once they’re made available.

Man on Foot Killed by Train

(La Porte, IN) - A man on foot was killed by a train this morning outside La Porte. Contact between the man and train happened at around 6 AM off Zigler Road, not far from the La Porte County fairgrounds.


La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson said the victim was walking to work from the nearby La Porte County Community Corrections facility. She identified the victim as 36-year old David Bayard.


Swanson said he may have been beside the rails when clipped by the train, but everything is still under investigation.


Right now, Swanson said there is no reason to believe the case was a suicide. However, officials took a blood sample for testing to determine if alcohol or drugs were in his system.

Woman Charged with Stealing from Mom

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte woman is accused of stealing from her mother’s bank account. 38-year-old Amy Shaffer is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with fraud.


According to court documents, on January 6, her mother contacted police alleging her daughter was using her debit card without her permission.


A police investigation shows the daughter made withdrawals for several weeks until her mother had the bank freeze her account. Just over $2,200 in cash was taken with the debit card from ATMs.


Court documents also revealed surveillance images of a woman using the card at ATMs bared a strong resemblance to Shaffer.


Shaffer, who has a history of similar crimes, could receive a 30-month sentence on the Level 6 felony offense.

More School Sports Merging Talks

(New Buffalo, MI) - Whether to combine more sports programs in the New Buffalo and River Valley school districts will be discussed at community meetings next week.


New Buffalo Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Leslie said the focus of the discussions would be, "Is that something we want to pursue? There's pros and cons to both."


Leslie said combining more or all of the sports could make sense given the success of the high school football programs in both school districts merging last season. The current enrollment of 185 students at New Buffalo High School has held steady over the past couple of years following a decline, and it's challenging for some teams to have enough student participation given the number of sports offered for a small school. 


Leslie said the middle school eight-man football team in New Buffalo, for example, finished the season with just nine players due to injuries. However, the 7th-grade boy's basketball team with 17 players had more than enough.


"From a basketball standpoint, I think our numbers are really good. It's just with some of these other sports," Leslie said.

The meetings at New Buffalo and River Valley High Schools are scheduled for March 29 at 7 p.m.


"I think the next week to ten days are going to be kind of telling in terms of what direction all of that is going to go," Leslie said.

Suspect Named in La Porte Shooting

(La Porte, IN) - A suspect is being held for a shooting outside a downtown La Porte gas station.


Charles Turner, 35, was held in the La Porte County Jail on preliminary charges such as Level 3 felony Aggravated Battery and Intimidation and Possession of Cocaine, both Level 6 felonies.


The shooting occurred Monday afternoon outside the Conoco station at 104 E. Lincolnway. Police said a man was found in the roadway with a gunshot wound to his foot and transported to Northwest Health.


Turner, who’s from La Porte, was quickly placed into handcuffs at the scene, police said. Police said a gun was also recovered during a search of the area.


The charges will be made formal if a judge finds sufficient evidence in the case against Turner. So far, what led up to the crime and other specifics has not been released.


The other preliminary charges against Turner are Battery, Obstruction of Justice, Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Marijuana, and Resisting Law Enforcement.

Feeling Crowded Farmers Oppose Subdivision Plans

(La Porte County, IN) - Farmers already feeling squeezed by residential development are voicing opposition to a proposed subdivision in LaPorte County.


The LaPorte County Commissioners on March 16 gave preliminary approval to rezoning about half of a 166-acre parcel from agriculture to residential. The remainder of the farmland is already zoned for residential use.


Sloan Avenue Land Opportunities is making the rezoning request on a primarily wooded undeveloped parcel on Indiana 2 between 350 East and 450 East near Rolling Prairie.


The LaPorte County Plan Commission on February 22 gave a favorable recommendation to the rezoning.


Farmer Jim Paarlberg of 4701 E. 300 North said he’d lost count of the middle fingers aimed in his direction by drivers passing him from behind on his slow-moving tractor going in and out of his fields.


“Sometimes we get saluted, and it’s usually not a friendly salute,” Paarlberg said.

Paarlberg, who raises crops like tomatoes, onion sets, garlic, and seed corn, expressed concern about the risk to residents from his sprayers applying crop protectants at least a dozen times a year beside the southern edge of the proposed subdivision. He and other farmers are also worried about receiving more complaints about the smell of manure applied in their fields.


“People that sometimes move out to the country sometimes don’t understand all of the things we do, and then we have to deal with the consequences of that,” Paarlberg said.

Farmer Joe Baltes questioned the need for more housing in that area, saying there are 30 still undeveloped parcels in a nearby subdivision.


“Why are we proposing to build another housing development before that one is filled up,” Baltes said.

Baltes operates a hog farm about a mile southeast of the proposed subdivision and raises crops on land northwest of the proposed development.


“We get a lot of complaints about the odor from houses along the fields,” Baltes said.

Dairy farmer Mike Eckovich said he’s also concerned about storm run-off making its way from the subdivision to adjacent farmland and taking some of the manure and chemicals applied in the fields into ditches and retention ponds.


He also proposed requiring green space between the farms and subdivision to reduce odor from manure to residents if the plans are approved.


“I’m here to protect my children who are already taking part in the dairy farm and adjacent farmers as well,” Eckovich said.

La Porte County Commission President Sheila Matias said she’s primarily concerned about the possibility of chemicals being sprayed and drifting onto nearby residents and their pets.


Her other worries include what impact stormwater from the subdivision would have on nearby fields.


“I know the plan commission has struggled with this, and that’s why their vote was not unanimous,” Matias said.

La Porte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski said the development plans include methods for controlling drainage and vegetation buffers. In addition, Mrozinski said prospective buyers don’t have to purchase the homes if they’re offended by things like smell. According to the LaPorte County Commissioner, La Porte County needs more new housing and the property tax revenue that the subdivision would generate. 


“At least move it forward so we can get some answers to these questions to make sure that if they’re going to do it, they do it right,” Mrozinski said.

The commissioners decided to meet with the developers and other stakeholders to try and have their concerns addressed before taking a final vote, possibly at their next meeting on April 6.

Transgender Sports Ban Vetoed

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has vetoed a bill banning transgender females from participating in girls' school sports.


Political experts were surprised because the governor is a Republican, and Republican lawmakers in the statehouse heavily supported the measure.


Holcomb said the bill would likely have been challenged in court. Holcomb questioned whether it was solving any pressing issue. He also believes that this is not an issue the legislator should solve and instead be something that the Indiana High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) should control and manage. 


Supporters say transgender females who are biologically male have an unfair advantage over traditional female athletes. Many point to the case of collegiate swimmer Lia Thomas. Last week, Thomas became the first openly transgender woman to win an NCAA swimming title.

Governor Signs No Gun Permit Law

(Indianapolis, IN) - People 18 and over will be able to carry a gun without a permit in Indiana. Governor Eric Holcomb signed the bill yesterday approved by most Republican lawmakers in the statehouse, including local State Representative Jim Pressel and State Senator Mike Bohacek. 


Holcomb signed the bill despite heavy opposition from law enforcement which believes it will lead to more gun violence and increase the safety risk to police officers. Supporters say requiring a permit infringed on an individual's second amendment right to carry a firearm.


The law, taking effect on July 1, prohibits convicted felons and people with dangerous mental illnesses from having a gun.


La Porte County Prosecutor John Lake said the measure would lead to more shootings and encourage criminals to have guns. LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd also didn't believe the bill would lead to safer communities or law enforcement engagements. Boyd said on an episode of 96.7 the Eagle's SOUND OFF that there are people who file for permits each year that do not know they are unable to carry a firearm legally. 

Plans for Solar Farm in New Carlisle

(New Carlisle, IN) - Solar panels could be placed on 1,000 acres of farmland just north of U.S. 20 in New Carlisle, Indiana. 


Supporters said about 200 construction jobs would be created and about 27 million in taxes. Opponents said just three full-time employees would be needed to operate the solar farm and point to the loss of farmland.


The proposal still requires approval from local authorities.

Afternoon Shooting in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - A shooting early this afternoon outside a gas station in downtown LaPorte drew more than a dozen emergency response vehicles.


La Porte Assistant Police Chief Bill Degnegaard said a man was taken by ambulance to Northwest Health with a gunshot wound to the foot after police and other emergency responders arrived at the scene around 1 PM. The man was shot outside the Conoco station at Lincolnway and Tipton Street.


No arrests had been made, but at least one person was in handcuffs at the scene being questioned. Further details were not released because of the ongoing investigation.


26-year old Alexis Liverman of La Porte was visibly upset while sitting across the street outside The Pantry convenience store. Liverman was driving to take her child to a fast food restaurant when suddenly she was surrounded by responding police vehicles.


"They're saying something about a gun, but I didn't see anybody with a  gun. I didn't hear anybody shooting anybody, so I don't know," Liverman said.

McDonald's All-American Touted for Scoring Ability

(La Porte County, IN) - A boys’ basketball player from La Lumiere High School was presented with his ceremonial jersey as one of the members of the 2022 McDonald’s All-American teams.


Two 12-member teams of McDonald’s All-Americans will play each other on March 29 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.


J.J. Starling was presented the jersey during a Friday, March 18 ceremony at the school in northern LaPorte County.


“It’s a blessing. This was a dream of mine since I was a little kid, and just to be named with some of the great players in the country is just a blessing,” Starling told WNDU-TV out of South Bend after the presentation.

Starling, a transfer from Baldwinsville, New York, is committed to playing at the University of Notre Dame next season. The 6’4” guard was chosen from more than 760 nominees from across the country.


For 45 years, the McDonald’s All American Games have given some of the nation’s best high school basketball players a chance to show off their skills on a national stage.


“It’s an awesome honor. All of his hard work has paid off to where he was able to make the team, which is great,” said La Lumiere Head Coach Patrick Holmes.

Many former McDonald’s All-Americans have gone on to play in the NBA, including La Lumiere graduates Jared Jackson, Jr., Isaiah Stewart, and Brian Bowen. Jackson plays for the Memphis Grizzlies while Stewart is a member of the Detroit Pistons. Bowen, Jr. plays for the Iowa Wolves in the NBA G League.


Holmes said Starling’s ability to score from all over the court is his best strength. He also finishes strong at the rim. Starling led the Lakers in scoring at more than 16 points a game.

Lakers Invited to National Hoops Tournament

(La Porte County, IN) - The boys' high school basketball team from La Lumiere will be vying for the national title for the seventh consecutive year after receiving an invitation last week to compete in the Geico Nationals in Ft. Myers, Florida.


La Lumiere (21-4) is the No. 7 seed and opens the tournament on March 31 against No. 2 seed IMG Academy. The Lakers previously defeated the team from Bradenton, Florida, in double overtime in the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference invitational also televised by ESPN at the La Porte Civic Auditorium.


Head Coach Pat Holmes called the eight teams "the strongest field we've ever had in the national tournament."


"Everyone has a chance to win it. It's just which team is playing the best at the right time of year," Holmes said.

Holmes said he was confident of being invited again because of the strength of their schedule.


"We have some really good wins, and the teams that we lost to are all really good teams that also have been invited to the Geico tournament," Holmes said.

La Lumiere has also been invited to the national tournament in 10 of the last 11 seasons. The Lakers won the tournament in 2017 and were runner-up in 2019.


Execution, limiting turnovers, and rebounding will be among the keys to success by Holmes' team. But, Holmes does not doubt that his squad can win the event. 


ESPNU will televise the game at 3 p.m. CST.

Applicants Sought for Vacancy on Local Board

(La Porte County, IN) - The Solid Waste District of La Porte County has a vacant seat on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee. The term of this position is two years.


Sacha Gee-Burns, the Public Outreach Coordinator for the SWD, said advisory committee meetings are held every three months. The purpose and duties of the Advisory Committee are to investigate, debate, and make recommendations to the Solid Waste District Board on any solid waste issue it’s assigned by the board to study.


The CAC can also determine the issues it wants to explore to develop methods for accomplishing the goals outlined by the current Strategic Plan of the SWD.


Anyone interested in filling the vacancy can send a letter of intent to the Solid Waste District of La Porte County at 2857 W. Indiana 2  La Porte, IN 46350 or email their letter of intent to sgeeburns@solidwastedistrict.com.

New Veterans Clinic Proposed for LaPorte County

(Washington, DC) - A new report put out by the Department of Veterans Affairs may pave the way for a new veterans medical clinic locally.


Last week the VA released its Asset and Infrastructure Review, which assess veterans’ services and facilities around the country.


Among the recommendations for the Chicago area and northwest Indiana is a community-based outpatient clinic in the LaPorte area to “improve access to primary care and outpatient mental health.”


The report suggests that LaPorte County is in an area of growing need. According the VA, La Porte County is projected to have over 2,700 veteran enrollees by 2029.


The Asset and Infrastructure Review will go before Congress for further consideration.


To read the full contents of the report as it relates to this area, click here:


 VISN12-Market-Recommendation.pdf (va.gov)

Prosecutor Looking into Possible Corruption

(LaPorte, IN) - The LaPorte County Prosecutor’s Office is looking into possible government corruption.


A grand jury has been selected that will investigate various allegations of wrongdoing in local government, among other legal matters.


As a guest on 96.7 the Eagle’s Sound Off on Friday, County Prosecutor John Lake said one reason for the investigation is to address allegations that have yet to be substantiated. “For the first time in twenty-five years, we impaneled a grand jury,” he said. “We’re going to be addressing some of these issues and claims of corruption in government. You know, I’m disturbed that people keep claiming this stuff, and they say they have evidence, but they don’t want to bring it to me. So we’re going to move forward on that and take a look, a deep dive, to see if there’s anything there. And we’ll proceed with proper charges if the jury decides that.”


As the investigation is now underway, Lake could not comment on specifics.  Lake said his office intended to impanel a grand jury two years ago to investigate some cold cases and other matters that do not involve government corruption. The pandemic, however, thwarted those plans. In the meantime, political accusations have reached a boiling point. According to Lake, the finger-pointing by various government officials has become a hot-button issue which can no longer be overlooked.


The grand jury is a panel of citizens selected at random by a judge to meet periodically to hear testimony and review evidence. The current grand jury has been impaneled for a three-month period.


Lake is encouraging anyone with evidence of government wrongdoing to come forward. “If anyone has evidence of corruption and would like to testify before the grand jury, then they should contact Investigator Tony McClintock at the Prosecutor’s Office,” Lake said in statement. “All testimony before a grand jury is confidential and will not be disclosed, so that should hopefully reduce any fear of reprisal for testifying. Witnesses’ identities will be protected during this process.”

Mayor Claims Michigan City is Bouncing Back

(Michigan City, IN) - “Michigan City is bouncing back.”


That was the assessment of Mayor Duane Parry at his State of the City Address Friday afternoon.


Parry began by saying his city is ready for a return to normal following the pandemic. “Facing adversity makes a people stronger,” he said, “We faced COVID and persevered, showing we are truly Michigan City strong. We are bouncing back.”


Parry went on to tout Michigan City’s strong fiscal standing. “Economically Michigan City is doing well— no red ink in any of our books,” the mayor claimed. “What a change, from $3.4 million of red ink facing us when I took office. We continue to shore up our Riverboat Fund reserves, currently having a balance of $5.6 million.”


Parry also highlighted reduced unemployment numbers. Last year, he said, unemployment in Michigan City dropped from 5.4% to 2.9%. However, he acknowledged the city’s relatively low standard of living. Citing IRS statistics, he noted that 70% of families are low-income, and one in four live in poverty.


Parry praised local law enforcement and restated his support for a higher local income tax to raise wages for first responders.


He also listed several large-scale building projects to improve quality of life in Michigan City.


The complete State of the City Address can be heard here:


La Lumiere Player Named All American

(LaPorte County, IN) - A high school basketball player who has brought his talents to LaPorte County has earned a national honor. On Friday a special ceremony took place at La Lumiere, where senior guard J.J. Starling was named a McDonald’s All American.


Starling, who hails from Baldwinsville, New York, is considered a top-20 player in the country. He has committed to play at Notre Dame next year.


McDonald’s All American Team is one of the highest honors in high school hoops. Over 700 players were nominated this year. Starling will showcase his skills at the McDonald’s All Star Game in Chicago. The March 29 game will air on ESPN at 8 p.m. Central.

La Porte Event to Focus on "Active Living"

(La Porte, IN) - An active living workshop has been scheduled in La Porte.


According to city officials, the purpose is to educate and motivate community leaders on developing a path toward improving local livability, movability, and providing active travel opportunities for residents.


During the workshop, officials will help participants recognize how community and design influence the ability to live active lifestyles.


Other objectives are to: provide practical tools and ideas for building healthier neighborhoods; demonstrate how transportation and land use patterns can work together to form a safer, healthier, and more accessible community and introduce complete streets principles and illustrate how they can be applied locally in a  variety of contexts, officials said.


The active living workshop is scheduled for May 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Civic Auditorium. There will be a morning and afternoon session and speakers from the community to explain why the workshop is essential.

La Porte Company Strikes Deal with Cubs

(South Bend, IN) - A high-speed internet provider from La Porte is teaming up with the South Bend Cubs. The team has announced a naming rights deal with Surf Broadband Solutions, which will sponsor the lawn seating area in the right field at Four Winds Field.


"We're really excited to kick off a new partnership by bringing on Surf Broadband Solutions and have them sponsor an area of the ballpark that families absolutely love," said South Bend Cubs President Joe Hart. "We're looking forward to a long-term relationship."

The lawn seating in the right field provides an area for families and people of all ages to relax, bring out a blanket and lawn chair and enjoy the game comfortably with a terrific view of Four Winds Field. The right field seating is also close to the splash pad, playground, and Ben's Pretzels inside the stadium.


"This partnership reaffirms Surf's emergence in the Great Lakes Region as the top choice for Fiber Optic Internet while strengthening our commitment to the communities we serve," said Surf Broadband Solutions Chief Marketing Officer Lana Frank.

Franks said the company, through its sponsorship, will be able to participate in Cubs programs that support education and armed forces initiatives.


According to team officials, opening night features many promotions, including an ax-throwing station, live band, and magnet schedule giveaway to the first 2,000 fans through the gates and fireworks.


Surf Broadband Solutions is nearly finished with turning La Porte into a "Gig City" by providing access to the internet at much higher speeds from anywhere in the community.


The South Bend Cubs open the season at home on April 8 at 7:05 p.m

Local Natives of Poland Helping Ukrainians

(La Porte, IN) - A LaPorte County Police officer and his wife are involved in a church fundraising effort to help Ukrainian refugees where they grew up in Poland. Bethany Lutheran Church in LaPorte is raising the money and matching every dollar contributed to the cause.


Slawek Czupryna, a 19-year veteran of the sheriff's office, said his wife, Agnieszka, is making the connections in their homeland for getting the money into the right hands.


The funds will go to a refugee shelter being created in a vacant building that used to be the elementary school Mrs. Czupryna attended in Podlipie. Podlipie, which has about 1,100 residents, is about three hours from the border with Ukraine.


"They want to open up the school so those kids can attend school, and some of those families can live nearby or even live in the school for the time being," he said.

Growing up in a village about a 10-minute drive away, Mr. Czupryna didn't attend the school but went there for activities like sporting events.


Pastor Dennis Meyer said the goal is to raise $5,000 from donations and church matching funds. The idea sprung from discussions about Russia's military invasion of Ukraine between Meyer and Mr. Czupryna, who know each other well from their work in the community.


"Not only are we praying, but we're acting," Meyer said.

Poland has taken in more than an estimated two million fleeing Ukrainian residents. And the number is expected to increase as the humanitarian crisis continues. 


Czupryna, 39, said he and his wife knew each other while growing up from attending the same church but later went separate ways. He and his siblings came to America with their mother in 1996.


Czupryna's father came looking for more opportunities in America and worked at the Kingsbury Industrial Park. Agnieszka came with her family to attend college and settled in Chicago. They had a friend who invited them to a family-related gathering in Chicago as fate would have it.


Czupryna said he didn't know Agnieszka would be there, but she knew he was coming.


"One thing led to another, and here we are," he said.

Czupryna said his wife is staying on top of the situation during regular phone conversations with her sister, who's planning to help at the refugee center. He also has family members still living in Poland.


"I feel for these people. I wish I could help more, but, unfortunately, I'm here, and they're over there," he said.  

Meyer said donations are being accepted at the church at 102 G Street and on the church website.

COVID Rate Now at Near Zero

(La Porte County, IN) - It’s been a while since the COVID-19 case numbers here and throughout the state have been this low. According to state health officials, the seven-day positivity rate in La Porte County now stands at 1.9 percent.


“This is something we have not seen for a very, very long time,” said La Porte County Health Department Administrator Amanda Lahners.


Two months ago, close to 30 percent or more of people tested in Indiana were positive. Lahners also said the health department’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic has moved from the old La Porte Hospital to across the street at the old Heritage Place at 901 Lincolnway.


Seventy-eight counties in Indiana have a positivity rate of less than five percent. According to state health officials, the remaining 14 counties have a positivity rate below 10-percent.

Bids Approved for EMS Base/Highway Garage

(La Porte County, IN) - Bids have been approved to construct an ambulance base in Rolling Prairie and a new La Porte County Highway Department garage.


The La Porte County Commissioners awarded the jobs to three local contractors whose bids totaled just over $2.3 million.


La Porte County Highway Department Superintendent Larry Levendowski said some cost savings happened by selecting more than just one contractor for the project. The chosen contractors were Pavey Excavating, New Tech Builders, and Larson-Danielson Construction, all from La Porte County.


The La Porte County Emergency Ambulance Service base and county highway garage will go up on the same area of U.S. 20 and Indiana 2 if the La Porte County Council grants final approval to allocate the funds.


It would be the first ambulance base in the Rolling Prairie area, which has long been served by ambulances responding from La Porte. The highway garage will replace the existing dilapidated facility at Rolling Prairie.  

All In Now for Local Income Tax Hike

(Michigan City, IN) - All local governments in La Porte County are now on board for raising the local income tax for public safety. The last governing body to join in was the Michigan City Common Council which voted Tuesday night unanimously to support the proposed .05-percent tax hike.


Being the financial arm of the county government, the LaPorte County Council will ultimately decide at some point whether to adopt the rate hike.


Several weeks ago, the council wanting to gauge public sentiment, asked La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody to find out how many local municipalities in the county favor the proposal.


Dermody, who supports raising the tax to meet the needs of public safety, said he was excited all of the communities have bought into the idea by overwhelmingly adopting resolutions outlining their support for a higher tax.


Money from a higher income tax would make the wages of police officers and other emergency responders more competitive to stop in some departments' high turnover caused by higher pay in other communities.


Dermody said public safety is a cornerstone for any community, and to not act with this tax hike risks losing more officers. 


The LaPorte County Commissioners released another plan that they believed would allow more money to go into public safety but would not have to raise taxes on LaPorte County citizens. The plan would include using some of the American Rescue Plan funds until a better option is found that doesn't raise taxes on residents. 


Commission President Sheila Matias has questioned if this is the right time to raise taxes on residents with inflation and gas prices being so high. Dermody has largely dismissed the Commissioner's plan as something that would only solve the issue in the short term. 

Man Dies After Motorcycle Collision

(La Porte County, IN) - A weekend collision between a motorcycle and a car near Kingsbury has proven fatal. Robert Gifford, 60, of La Porte County, Indiana, died Tuesday.


According to La Porte County Police, Gifford turned into the path of an oncoming vehicle on U.S 35 at 400 South on Sunday afternoon. 


The La Porte area man was ejected from the motorcycle and landed about 35 feet away in a ditch. He suffered broken bones and other internal injuries, police said. 


The other driver, 41-year-old Ryan Panos of La Porte, told police the motorcycle turned in front of him without warning. Police said witnesses gave a similar account of how the collision unfolded.


Police have not shed light on whether alcohol was involved in the accident. 

Ribbon-Cutting at Mattress Plant

(La Porte County, IN) - A ribbon-cutting was held Wednesday for a leading maker of mattresses churning out product in LaPorte County.


Corsicana Mattress Company opened its ninth location in the U.S. about three months ago inside a once-vacant 165,000 square foot manufacturing structure at Indiana 2 and 500 West.


James Booth, Chief Operating Officer for the Dallas, Texas-based firm, said the assembly plant with close to 40 employees operates at about 10-percent capacity. The plan is to be at full capacity once another roughly 300 workers have been hired and trained over the next 18 months.


"You can only bring so many people in at a time and train them. There's a tremendous amount of training," Booth said.

Booth expects about 15-percent of the beds in a box produced by the company will come out of the new plant once full capacity is reached.


Customers seem drawn by the price and convenience of the combination innerspring and memory foam mattress, which folds out when taken out of the box. The bed in a box is available at brick-and-mortar stores online.


The company founded in 1971 also makes its own traditional mattresses and mattresses under a contract to the specifics of other brands. Listed by Furniture Today as among the top ten largest makers of mattresses in the nation, the company employs about 950 people at eight different locations in Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Arizona, Washington, Connecticut, and Illinois.


Booth said the company was looking to open another Midwest location to reduce shipping costs for customers when he discovered the structure empty for about 20-years between LaPorte and Westville. He was immediately sold on the height, column spacing, and layout of the building.


More than $3 million was spent restoring the once dilapidated but structurally sound facility. In addition, over $4 million was invested in things like equipment and inventory.


Booth also believes the location is ideal for reaching more customers between Chicago and Detroit because shipping costs are lower from having a plant closer to those markets.


Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, there's been a higher demand in online sales, which necessitated the company's expansion.


Incentives came in a 10-year tax abatement by the La Porte County Council and $2.3 million tax credits based on job creation from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.


LaPorte County Commission President Sheila Matias said new jobs are most rewarding about the effort involved in bringing the property back to life. Matias also believes it's remarkable that a once crumbling structure with trees growing on the inside is now put back to good use.


“It was a long journey. I can’t be happier. I can’t be prouder,” Matias said.

Last Dance for Bison in Cinderella Season

(New Buffalo, MI) - It was the last dance in a Cinderella season for the high school boys' basketball team from New Buffalo as the No. 1 ranked Bison lost in last night's Class D regional championship game 57-40.


The size, athletic ability, and shooting of Tri-Unity Christian School proved too much for the Bison on their home court.


Tri-Unity Christian, playing tight man-to-man defense and closely guarding the three-point shooters of the Bison, led 28-11 at halftime, shocking a New Buffalo team that averaged more than 80 points a game during the regular season.


Senior Aaron James, among the people in the packed student cheering section, said she was proud of the players for their 22-2 season. "I love those boys," she said.


After trailing by 20 points in the second half, the Bison pulled to within 12 points in the final period after turning up the pressure on the defense, scoring on turnovers, and open three-point shots. Senior Kaden Parmley led the Bison in scoring 23 points, but Parmley's valiant effort was not enough. 


New Buffalo High School Principal Wayne Butler said the season brought the school community and the general public closer by generating more interest and turnout for games.


"It's just been really nice to come into the gym and have this atmosphere. Awesome opportunity for our kids," Butler said.

Charges in Alcohol Fueled Police Officer Assault

(La Porte, IN) - After allegedly striking a law enforcement officer during a drunken tirade, a La Porte man got his foot in the door to a jail cell. 38-year-old Floyd Keehn is charged with Battery to a Police Officer and Public Intoxication.


According to court documents, police were called three days ago when he was seen stumbling around downtown La Porte. Responding officers found him sitting on a decorative bench along Lincolnway east of the courthouse. Beside him was a nearly empty bottle of vodka. When asked to take a breathalyzer test, Keehn tried taking another swig from his close to an empty bottle.


After being placed in the squad car, the handcuffed man allegedly kicked a La Porte City Police officer in the face. The officer had some redness but declined medical treatment.


Keehn could receive 30 months of incarceration on the Level 6 felony battery charge and another six months behind bars on the other Class B misdemeanor count.

Bison Ready for Movie-Like Title Game

(New Buffalo, MI) - The high school gym in New Buffalo tonight could be something out of a Hollywood movie. The New Buffalo Bison boys’ basketball team ranked No. 1 in Class D is playing for the regional championship.


It’s been a long time since the school has had a basketball team make it this far, and they’re facing a team with a coach with five previous state titles. New Buffalo Head Coach Nate Tripp says the game before a packed house and hungry for a win Bison fans has all of the makings of a major box office hit film.


“It’s the biggest game I have ever coached in my life at any sports, any level, and any school. It’s the same for our players,” Tripp said.

Tripp said tonight’s game is also one he and his players imagined for themselves several years ago, and hard work has brought them to his moment.


“This will be a game that I will never forget,” Tripp said.

The Bison are 22-1 and ranked 7th in the nation in scoring. Tri-Unity Christian from Wyoming is 17-6 and ranked No. 30 in Class D. 


Tonight’s regional championship game is 7 p.m. (EST)

Charges Filed in Ski Mask Bandit Case

(Michigan City, IN) - A man is accused of stealing from a Michigan City shopping mall. 25-year-old Austin Kist-Oman was allegedly wearing a ski mask when six pairs of shoes were stolen in what initially appeared to be a robbery.


The shoes were from the Adidas store at Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets on the west side. Initially, it was said that a knife was displayed, but later it was determined no weapon was involved.


The suspect was inside the getaway vehicle, quickly stopped by officers swarming the area, according to court documents.  


The Michigan City man is also being held on drug-related charges. Another suspect in the theft case has not been located.

Arrest in High Speed Chase

(La Porte County, IN) - An arrest was made during a high-speed chase that grabbed the attention of some La Porte County residents yesterday afternoon.


So far, police have not released details, but it appears the chase ended when the suspect crashed into a pole in the New Carlisle area. Indications are the chase started in the La Porte area then went several miles to the north and east.


Kelsey Miles operates a daycare center where she lives on 1000 North near 750 East. Miles and the children were outside when the chase went by her residence at an alarming speed. 


Miles' barking dogs acted like they wanted to chase after the vehicles, and her pet peacocks began squealing and flew into the trees. Miles said her half-dozen daycare kids ages six and under liked seeing the police pursuit.


"They were all really excited. They thought it was cool. They were kind of like, hey, what's going on, jumping and hey look at the cars," Miles said.

Richard Percifield of Rolling Prairie was heading home from work when he encountered the chase on 300 East near 1000 North. He nearly collided with the oncoming suspect, who was hogging the road, and veered right to avoid what he described as a "junky looking truck."


"I straddled the edge of the road with my car, and he misses me going past me at a high rate of speed at about two or three feet away from me," Percifield said.

He said what looked like a parade of police vehicles then soared past him.


We'll provide more details about the chase once they're released by law enforcement. 

Michigan City Shooting Probe

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police are investigating a shooting.


According to police, officers on Sunday night responded to a report of shots fired and someone possibly shot in the area of Knuckleheads, a bar at 204 Barker Avenue.


At first, officers found no evidence of anyone being hit by gunfire. But, later, investigators learned an individual was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries from a gunshot. 


Further details are not being released to protect the integrity of the investigation. However, anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police.

Fugitive Handgun Violators Jailed

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police arrested two alleged handgun violators, including a fugitive.


Kameron Martin, 29, of South Bend, was pulled over Monday after passing a police vehicle above the speed limit on U.S. 20 near 250 East. Martin was wanted by authorities in Elkhart County.


Upon searching his vehicle, a 9-millimeter pistol was also recovered. Because of a prior felony conviction, it is illegal for him to have possession of a firearm.


Early Tuesday, Chad Barron, 33, of Kingsbury, was wanted in Marshall County during a traffic stop on U.S. 421 in the Westville area. Barron did not have a permit to carry the 9-millimeter pistol recovered from his vehicle. Both suspects were being held in the La Porte County Jail without bond.

Arrest in School Bus Hit and Run

(La Porte County, IN) - A driver allegedly fled after striking a school bus outside Michigan City, but police quickly reeled him in. Michael Adams, 50, is charged with Leaving the Scene of a Property Damage Crash, a Class B misdemeanor.


According to La Porte County Police, Adams was driving an SUV that struck the back end of a Michigan City school bus Monday afternoon at Orchard Drive and Wozniak Road.


Adams briefly contacted the school bus driver then allegedly left after learning police were called. Deputy Tyler Oberholtzer responded to the crash scene when he located the fleeing driver eastbound on 400 North. After posting bond, Adams was released from the La Porte County Jail last night.


Police said there were no injuries on the bus, which contained about 30 passengers being taken home from school.

Bison Cruise to Win in Regional Opener

(New Buffalo, MI) - The high school boys’ basketball team from New Buffalo opened the regional tournament Monday night with an easy victory.


The Bison (22-1) defeated Gobles 85-46 before a good-sized crowd at New Buffalo High School, hosting this year’s regional tournament.


The game was pretty much over from the very beginning after Anthony Lijewski nailed two shots from beyond the three-point line and buckets followed from Kaden Parmley and Zack Forker. The Bison took a 29 to 12 lead into the second quarter, then scored the following five points.


Gobles cut into the lead slightly but went into halftime, trailing by 23 points after Lijewski nailed two more three-point shots in the final seconds of the period. In the third quarter, there was no let-up from the Bison when the lead grew to 68 to 30 on a three-point bucket from Anthony Anderson.


Parmley led all scorers with 25 points. Lijewski finished with 21 points. Forker and Mark Shaw added 14 and 13 points, respectively. Shaw also dished out ten assists.


“I’m really excited,” said Head Coach Nate Tripp.

The Bison lost in the first round of the regionals last season but have all five returning starters whose mission is winning the Class D state title this year. New Buffalo is ranked No. 1 in the Michigan High School Athletic Association power rankings.


The Bison face No. 30 ranked Tri-Unity Christian from Wyoming for the regional title Wednesday night. Tri-Unity Christian (17-6) defeated Muskegon Heights Monday night 53 to 44.


Tripp said both teams could move the ball fast up and down the court, but the game could come down to execution in a ball-control half-court style offense and whoever plays the best defensively.


“I have no interest in pressing them and I can guarantee they have no interest in pressing us so it’s going to be just a matter of who’s smart and who’s strong in the half-court,” Tripp said.

Expectant Mother Averts OWI Tragedy

(Westville, IN) - A pregnant woman had a very close call with a suspected teenage drunk driver in Westville.


According to La Porte County Police, the 29-year-old woman traveled U.S. 421 early Friday. She swerved to avoid an oncoming vehicle traveling in the wrong lane of the two-lane highway. The vehicles eventually sideswiped each other.


The Michigan City woman was not injured but told investigators she would drive to the hospital to ensure her unborn child was not harmed.


The other driver, 19-year-old Joshua Lemmon, also was not injured. The Westville man told investigators he had a couple of shots of vodka about two hours before the accident. However, his alleged blood alcohol level was over three times the legal limit. 


Lemmon was also arrested for underage drinking.

Marijuana Odor at Traffic Light Arrest

(La Porte County, IN) - A Michigan City man was the subject of a major drug bust after a police officer smelled marijuana from his vehicle at a traffic light.


Julian Mojica, 31, is charged with Level 5 felony Dealing in Marijuana.


According to La Porte County Police, an officer with his passenger side window cracked on March 11 was at U.S 20 and U.S 35 near Michigan City. He smelled what he recognized to be marijuana from a Chevy Camaro stopped behind him at a red light.


Police said the officer became even more suspicious of the vehicle once the odor became more potent when the 2014 Camaro passed him with the driver's side window cracked.


A traffic stop was made when the driver switched lanes without properly using his turn signal on multiple occasions.


Police said two bags of marijuana weighing nearly a pound apiece were recovered from the vehicle's center console and inside a cooler in the trunk. Sandwich baggies typically used in selling marijuana and more than $2,400 in cash were also seized.


According to court records, Mojica has a prior criminal history related to cocaine, marijuana, and firearms.

More Details in Carbon Monoxide Deaths

(La Porte County, IN) - More details are coming out on the suspected deaths by carbon monoxide poisoning outside La Porte last month.


Sheriff John Boyd says there were calls about a husband and wife and their 25-year-old son not being seen or showing up for work for a couple of days.


Officers went inside their home on 350 North in Center Township, but they couldn’t stay in for very long because of the effects on their breathing from carbon monoxide levels 500 times above normal. After getting some fresh air, the officers went back in and brought out the young man who was barely breathing with paramedics on their way.


“The man seemingly started breathing a little more normal but not much. He couldn’t speak, only mumble,” Boyd said.

60-year-old Harrison Russell and his 56-year-old wife, Barbara, were deceased in their upstairs bedroom. Their son was later released from the hospital.


The poisonous gas leaked from a cracked heat exchanger in the furnace. As a result, the old furnace has been replaced with a new one donated by a heating and cooling business.


Sgt. Nathan Battleday and Deputies Justin Phillips and Josh Smith, along with Sgt. James Arnold are nominated for lifesaver awards.


“This just shows how quickly it can go from dull and mundane in law enforcement to rapidly being placed in a situation where people’s lives are on the line,” Boyd said.

Opportunity Widens for Home Based Food Vendors

(Indianapolis, IN) - The door to opportunity has opened wider for many home-based makers of maple syrup, cookies, and other shelf-stable food products throughout Indiana.


On March 8, Governor Eric Holcomb signed legislation allowing such producers to sell their products to customers physically from their homes or anywhere else face to face.


Online sales of home-based food products were also made legal as long as delivery occurs within state boundaries. Previously, it was only permitted for home-based vendors to offer their food products at farmers' markets and roadside stands.


Home-based vendors are still prohibited from selling retail because the law's intent is more about helping people like single mothers supplement their incomes and providing a new income stream for struggling rural economies, said IFB Associate Director of Policy Engagement Jeff Cummins.


Producers selling food products like chicken, rabbit, and eggs raised on their property must still operate under another existing law.


Cummins said the previous restrictions became outdated when many home-based vendors knowingly or unknowingly broke the law by turning to online sales to make up for losses when farmer's markets in 2020 shut down early in the pandemic.


"We saw an avenue there that could bring these folks into the modern economy," Cummins said.

Doug Mark, who produces about 150 gallons of maple syrup from his 25 acres of woods near Lebanon, said the potential to make more money wouldn't be much for him and other vendors already selling online or meeting customers in places like homes, workplaces, and churches.


Mark said the monetary gains should be more noticeable for home-based vendors who never strayed outside the boundaries of the previous restrictions.


"They're going to be able to have a whole lot of avenues for sale they didn't have before," Mark said.

The real benefit for Mark and other former law-breaking producers is more psychological. The fear of likely slim odds for enforcement and a somewhat guilty conscience has been removed. According to Mark, it's one less thing for the small business owner to worry about in the future. 

La Porte Racing to the Future

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte is working hard on many fronts to catch up and stay ahead of the times to realize a vision of being more of a destination.


Updating an old housing stock and trying to transform downtown into a pedestrian-friendly gathering place are just some of the examples of what's happening to make sure LaPorte is in the minds of visitors, job creators, and prospective new residents.


The latest step into the future is the recent completion of 70 resort-type apartments featuring amenities like a swimming pool across Clear Lake.


Two other structures containing another 130 resort-type apartments at the site are expected to be available for rent in the fall, said Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership. The development is in response to greater demand regionally and nationwide for a more upscale and maintenance-free lifestyle.


"The single-family home maybe in the '70s and '80s was almost everybody's desire. Times have changed. People really like that style of living," Cook said.

Upscale apartments are also going up beside Fish Trap Lake, and similar housing is on the drawing board next to Beechwood Golf Course.


In addition, affordable new housing recently opened in the former poorly maintained, cockroach-infested Monroe Street Apartments condemned in 2020. The 39 unit downtown building under new ownership underwent a complete remodeling.  


The city demolished some residential structures in poor condition using Community Block Grant Funds. One such property is the former Tibma Bakery site. Recently, Habitat for Humanity announced a partnership with the city to build new housing on that lot. 


In recent years, trendy apartments have also been created on the upper levels of several downtown buildings acquired by private investors contributing to Mayor Tom Dermody's broader strategy for growing the city's population by one-third to 30,000 by 2030 by becoming "the place to be."


Dermody is also pushing heavily for the construction of a four-lane highway around the city to reduce heavy truck traffic from downtown. In November 2021, President Joe Biden signed a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that the city hopes will help fund some estimated $100 million corridor costs. 


Officials believe more people will be attracted to downtown to visit shops, restaurants, and special events if there isn't a high volume of heavy trucks, making them feel unsafe.


Using a similar playbook used in communities like Valparaiso, whose downtowns were revitalized once alternate routes were provided for heavy trucks and things like an ice skating rink and band shelter created for people to do, the city hopes to reshape how citizens engage local businesses. 


LaPorte is also seeing recent success in growing what's already a good-sized industrial base for a community its size. Two manufacturers are operating from a 150,000 square foot building constructed last year by a private developer leasing the structures at Thomas Rose Industrial Park.


Other private investors will soon begin constructing two 100,000 square foot buildings for companies to rent along Boyd Boulevard just south of Indiana 2. More job opportunities are viewed as another way to attract new residents.


The city has done other placemaking projects like providing trails and a kayak launch on and around its lakes with the partnership of the Healthcare Foundation of LaPorte. The next phase of the Chessie Trail is expected to begin in 2022. 


Access to high-speed internet from anywhere in the city is also being made possible from a joint venture between the city and Surf Broadband Solutions. The laying of fiber optics throughout the city is nearly complete. Cook says that the bulk of the expansion is already completed. 


According to Mayor Dermody, the city is trying to capture some companies and residents leaving Illinois to escape high property taxes. Another goal is keeping more high school graduates and enticing former residents back to the city. Indiana has long had a "brain drain" problem with college graduates choosing to live in more urban parts of the state or other states altogether. 


Officials are also hoping to tap into the growing number of visitors and new residents anticipated on the southern tip of Lake Michigan once the construction of a second rail line for South Shore commuter trains is completed. The double-track line about to begin being laid from Michigan City to Gary is expected to reduce travel times by rail to and from Chicago significantly.


Cook believes the rail project is an example of good things happening in the region producing benefits locally and making Northwest Indiana stronger.         


"In order to have a robust regional economy, we all have to do our part. We all have to grow our communities. We all have to increase opportunities and succeed in order for our region to be the type of area that people want to visit, people want to live in, people want to work in, and companies want to operate in," Cook said.

Job Fair Reveals Opportunity in Manufacturing

(Westville, IN) - There was no shortage of opportunity where close to 30 manufacturers from Northwest Indiana gathered to try and fill job openings at the job fair by the Center of Workforce Innovations in Valparaiso. 


Co-workers Alaiyah Langston, 22, and Tammy White, 51, both of Michigan City, said they were encouraged to discover the companies they approached pay more than what the women are currently earning for similar assembly line work they’re doing now for another manufacturing firm.


“The cost of living is going up, and our pay where we are now is not,” Langston said.

White said a $4 an hour or more wage increase would be worth taking a job at another company with two mouths to feed and a mortgage to pay on a home she recently purchased.


Barb Grimsgard, Director of Communications for CWI, said manufacturers are primarily looking to fill entry-level positions, but some companies have more openings for mid-level jobs.


In many cases, she said the need for qualified and reliable workers remains high, but finding them has become more challenging.


Grimsgard said some people who didn’t work during the pandemic are interested in earning a paycheck again but not with their former employer or occupation. She noted that priorities have changed for some workers, and the current job market provides them with more choices.


“They had time to assess what they really want to do. They assessed what’s important to them. They realized I haven’t been working, but we managed. It really is a job-seekers market right now,” Grimsgard said.

Grimsgard said more people in the workforce are also looking at higher pay and a sense of being valued in choosing where they want to work.


Mariano Oliveri of Michigan City said a stable, fun, and enjoyable workplace ranks first on his job-hunting list. Oliveri, experienced in the hospitality industry and marketing, said he’s using his time between jobs to find a career more suitable to his bachelor’s degree in business and skills at dealing with people.


Right now, Oliveri said getting his foot in the door is more important than money.


“The only thing I want from my next employer is to recognize my efforts and, if I do a good job, reward my effort,” Oliveri said.

Another challenge for manufacturers needing labor is overcoming the negative image of a dirty, heavy industrial-type workplace. Grimsgard said the opposite is true nowadays from advancements in technology.


“It’s not your dad or grandfather’s plant like it used to be,” Grimsgard said.

Among the employers at the job fair was MSI Express, with plants in Hammond and Portage. With about 1,500 employees at more than a dozen locations nationwide, the firm packages and ships mainly food products like cereal, oatmeal, pancake mix, and baked goods for name-brand companies.


Human Resources Manager Ricardo Senteno said his company has a lot of openings anywhere from the production floor to office management. Senteno noted the commitment and desire to move up the ladder with the company are among the things sought in job applicants.


“Someone looking to grow, work as a team, and dedicated. That’s probably one of the most things we’re looking for. Dedication,” Senteno said.

No.1 Ranked Bison Open Regionals Tonight

(Eau Claire, MI) - It’s on to the regionals for the New Buffalo High School boys’ basketball team.


The 21-1 Bison won the District 4 championship Friday night in a nail-biter. The game went down to the wire against 11th ranked Eau Claire, who trailed by 13 points at halftime.


Mark Shaw put the Bison on his back with 25 points, mostly from driving the paint for spectacular lay-ups.


“We’ve been working for this. I don’t know how to explain it. I’m just so happy we won this,” Shaw said.

Head Coach Nate Tripp said Eau Claire played a man-to-man defense to guard his three-point shooters closely, which opened lanes down low for buckets close to the rim.


Eau Claire took the lead midway through the fourth quarter, and the game with less than a minute to play was decided at the free-throw line. Kaden Parmley hit all of his free throw attempts except for the last one with three seconds to play.


A shot from more than half-court by Eau Claire was well off the mark, giving the No. 1 ranked Bison in Class D the district championship. The final score was 66 to 63. 


The Bison begin regional play tonight at 7 p.m. at home against Gobles.


NIPSCO To Pay For Cleaning up Pines

(Pines, IN) - NIPSCO has reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice to resolve alleged soil contamination just outside LaPorte County.


According to the DOJ, NISPCO distributed coal ash as landscaping fill to homes in the town of Pines, which is a few miles west of Michigan City. The ash contained hazardous substances including arsenic, thallium and lead.


Last week, the Merrillville-based power company agreed to spend $11.8 million to pay for clean-up. They will also pay for monitoring residential drinking water wells in the area.


A federal court will approve the agreement after a 30-day public comment period.

Pet Dies in Second-Story Apartment Fire

(New Carlisle, IN) - A fire broke out in a second-story apartment in New Carlisle Thursday afternoon.


Emergency crews responded to the 500 block of West Michigan St. just before 2:00 p.m. A rear apartment above Expo Discount Liquor was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived.


"We were able to get a good knock-down on it; we were able to contain the fire to the rear of the structure, second-story," said New Carlisle Fire Chief Josh Schweizer. "The apartment occupant was there at the time of the fire," he said, "but she was able to get out safely."


Unfortunately, the woman’s dog died in the blaze. According to Schweizer, the first police officer to the scene reported flames from the apartment which prevented him from searching for the pet. Residents of four other units were not home at the time. Schweizer says the liquor store below the apartments sustained significant water damage.


The fire appears to have started in a bedroom, but the cause is unknown at this time. The Indiana State Fire Marshal is investigating.

New Carlisle Boy To Be Tried as Adult for Heinous Crimes

(South Bend, IN) - A boy accused of unspeakable crimes in New Carlisle will now stand trial as a man.


Last March, 6-year-old Grace Ross was found molested and strangled to death behind her apartment building.


After multiple preliminary hearings, the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office has announced that 15-year-old Anthony Hutchens will be charged as an adult in the crimes.


Court documents released Friday afternoon shed light on the proceedings that have unfolded over the past month to determine the boy's path along the criminal justice system.


Hutchens faces two counts of murder—that is, for killing the same person in two different ways— in addition to a charge of child molesting.


Hutchens’ mother and defense attorneys had asked for leniency, citing his Autism Spectrum Disorder and lack of criminal history as mitigating factors. They sought to keep him in the juvenile system for proper rehabilitation.


Neither their pleas nor the testimony of two psychologists could persuade St. Joseph County Probate Court Magistrate Graham Polando, who placed responsibility squarely on the 15-year-old’s shoulders.


The Court found that Hutchens, despite the lack of a father-figure and financial hardships, “squandered the opportunities presented by his home life.” The boy’s mother, court documents went on to say, “was appropriately attentive to his medical needs. And since the beginning of this case, she has attended nearly every proceeding in person, has participated by phone in a few others, and has effectively and earnestly advocated for him. And the Respondent similarly appears to have had appropriate support from his siblings.” One of Hutchens’ teachers also reported that the boy was uncooperative in school.


Ultimately, it was the severity of the crimes that warranted a trial for Hutchens in adult court. Polando labeled them “the most heinous acts one human being can do to another.”


Hutchens has been moved from the Juvenile Justice Center to the St. Joseph County Jail. Charges against him will be filed in Superior Court. If convicted on all counts, Hutchens could be sentenced to up to 81 years in prison.


Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of Grace’s murder.

Strong Attendance at Job Fair

(Westville, IN) - There was no shortage of opportunity where close to 30 manufacturers from Northwest Indiana gathered to try and fill job openings.


Co-workers Alaiyah Langston, 22, and Tammy White, 51, both of Michigan City, were encouraged to discover the companies they approached pay more than what they’re currently earning for similar assembly line work they’re doing for another manufacturing firm.


“The cost of living is going up, and our pay where we are now is not,” Langston said.

White said a $4 an hour or more wage increase would be worth taking a job at another company with two mouths to feed and a mortgage to pay on a home she recently purchased.


The job fair by the Center of Workforce Innovations in Valparaiso was held Thursday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Purdue Northwest Campus near Westville.


Barb Grimsgard, Director of Communications for CWI, said manufacturers are primarily looking to fill entry-level positions, but some companies have more openings for mid-level jobs.


In many cases, Grimsgard said the need for qualified and reliable workers remains high, but finding them has become more challenging. Grimsgard believes some people who didn’t work during the pandemic are interested in earning a paycheck again but not with their former employer or occupation. She said that priorities have changed for some workers, and the current job market provides them with more choices.


“They had time to assess what they really want to do. They assessed what’s important to them. They realized I haven’t been working but we managed. It really is a job-seekers market right now,” Grimsgard said.

Grimsgard said more people in the workforce are also looking at higher pay and a sense of being valued in choosing where they want to work.


Mariano Oliveri of Michigan City said a stable, fun, and enjoyable workplace ranks first on his job-hunting list. Oliveri, experienced in the hospitality industry and marketing, said he’s using his time between jobs to find a career more suitable to his bachelor’s degree in business and skills at dealing with people. But, right now, Oliveri said getting his foot in the door is more important than money.


“The only thing I want from my next employer is to recognize my efforts and, if I do a good job, reward my effort,” Oliveri said.

Prison for Major Local Felon

(La Porte, IN) - An armed robber and drug dealer in La Porte is off to prison. Kyree Moss received a six-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in La Porte Circuit Court. Moss had a gun when he robbed I Street Meats in 2015.


According to authorities, he bought a pack of cookies then told the cashier to give him all of the money from the register. He fled on foot wearing a sweatshirt with a hood pulled tightly over his head.


Moss was 19 years old at the time. Five years later, police said Moss was caught selling meth at 909 Linwood St., 107 J Street, and 701 Maple Avenue. 

Threat Cited for Moving District Finals Match

(New Buffalo, MI) - New Buffalo fans will have to travel a greater distance to watch tonight’s District 4 boys’ high school basketball championship game.


The game originally scheduled at River Valley High School has been moved to Eau Claire. However, because of a threat at River Valley High School, the Michigan High School Athletic Association approved the move.


“I believe that threat has been investigated, but they are still not comfortable hosting the game,” said New Buffalo High School Athletic Director Matt Johnson.


Johnson said the MHSAA explained that Eau Claire was chosen to host the District 4 championship since the regionals are held at New Buffalo.


The Bison ranked No. 1 in Class D plays Eau Claire ranked No. 11 in Class D. New Buffalo defeated River Valley in a hard-fought contest Wednesday night to advance to the district finals.


The (20-1) Bison are looking to repeat as District 4 champs.  

Pastor Wishes Hell on Putin

(La Porte, IN) - Many Ukrainians are hoping for the death of the Russian dictator, but a local clergyman says there’s an even more deserving price Vladimir Putin should pay.


Bethany Lutheran Church Pastor Dennis Meyer said people should pray for things to get better for the people in Ukraine and new leadership in Russia. But, he also said it might be best to let God work out the specifics.


“When it comes to praying, I’m not sure if it’s right to pray for a bullet through his head, but I certainly think it’s appropriate to pray for the overthrown of that regime,” Meyer said.

When asked if God would look favorably at Putin being assassinated, Meyer said, “I think when it comes to praying for the death of your enemies, maybe what we should pray for is the Lord to take him to where he belongs by whatever means necessary.”


When asked where Putin belongs, Meyer said, “he belongs in hell.”


Meyer also felt the U.S. should take more of a leadership role in negotiating a settlement that leads to peace between the two countries.


“It seems a lot like we’re following,” Meyer said.

Arrest in Michigan City Robbery

(Michigan City, IN) - Avery Smith was accused of holding up a store in Michigan City last week. Smith was charged in La Porte Superior Court 1, where he is scheduled for an initial hearing in the case on March 15.


According to police, the 32-year-old Michigan City man robbed the Smoke and Vape Shop at 3309 Franklin Street on March 3.


An employee was injured when struck in the head during the hold-up, and an undisclosed amount of money was taken. Evidence gathered from the investigation led to Smith being identified as the robbery suspect.


Smith is charged with Level 3 Robbery Resulting in Bodily Injury and Level 6 Felony Robbery Resulting in Moderate Injury. He could face anywhere from three to 16 years on the most serious count.


According to court records, Smith has a long history of crimes like battery, theft, and criminal recklessness.

More Deaths Predicted if Gun Law Signed

(La Porte County, IN) - If signed by the governor, legislation not requiring a gun permit will increase violent crime in the state predicts La Porte County Prosecutor John Lake predicts.


The proposed legislation, Indiana House Bill 1296, will allow most anyone 18 and over to carry a firearm without a permit. The bill is currently on the desk of Governor Eric Holcomb, awaiting his signature of approval or veto. Unfortunately, the governor has not indicated whether he will sign that bill.


Lake said he's all in favor of gun rights but not requiring a permit will allow more guns to stay in the hands of people who shouldn't have a firearm. For example, an officer who sees a gun during a traffic stop will no longer be able to check to see if the gun is registered. Currently, a gun without a permit is confiscated, and the violator is charged, providing a helpful tool for local law enforcement to keep guns out of the hands of the wrong people. 


If the governor signs the measure, Lake said people will die from a gun in the hands of someone whose permit status could not be checked.


"It's going to come up. A police officer pulls somebody over. They're speeding. He sees they have a gun. That person goes along their way and goes and kills somebody with a gun. Those are things I think about," Lake said.

Convicted felons and people with a dangerous mental illness would still be prohibited from carrying handguns. Approval by the legislature came despite law enforcement being strongly against the measure, including LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd. Boyd has mentioned that some people unallowed to have guns aren't aware until they apply for the permit. 


During the testimony of the bill, Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter blamed outside anti-law enforcement political groups for influencing legislator decisions. Carter testified:


“I never remember a time when outside influence of national associations or political posturing became the driving force behind any legislation in our great state until now. I sure hope you choose to show deference to law enforcement professionals that understand the magnitude and the frontline effects of this legislation, rather than the possibility of getting reelected or elected the next primary.”

Locally, State Representative Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) voted for the bill, while Representatives Pat Boy (D-Michigan City) and Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend) voted against it. Senators Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) and Rodney Pol, Jr. (D-Chesterton) voted against it, while Senator Mike Bohacek (R-Michiana Shores) voted for it. 

Rescue Practice on Thinning Ice

(La Porte, IN) - On Thursday, La Porte firefighters kept sharp on their ice rescue skills if someone ventures out on a lake and falls through the dangerously thin ice.


Capt. A.C. Pressler said nobody should be on the ice, which has melted significantly due to recent mild weather. However, trained firefighters in wet suits broke a thin layer of ice over a previously open patch of water on Pine Lake and slipped into the frigid water.


They rehearsed the steps taken to perform a rescue had someone broke through the ice. The training is held annually as the ice forms and melts when the risk of an individual falling through is greatest.


“[The training is] vital. It’s like anything. If you don’t do it for a while, you kind of get rusty,” Pressler said.

The firefighters were tied to ropes held by colleagues about 200 feet away on the shoreline at Unity Park.


Training Chief Erik Jedrysek said the ice at about three to four inches was cracking but thick enough for the firefighters to reach the hole on foot. Jedrysek says that very thin ice requires venturing out on sleds which disperses the weight of firefighters to minimize their chance of falling through. Firefighters don’t move across the ice as fast on sleds, though, and time is not a luxury because of how quickly hypothermia sets in from exposure to the cold water.


“It’s probably five times faster for a guy walking out there on his own,” Jedrysek said.

National Recognition for Local Crime Fighter

(La Porte, IN) - She’s not on the streets, but a critical member of the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office is helping reduce crime in a very different way.


Lisa Harlow is the manager of the department’s Sex and Violent Offender Registry. She’s been recognized statewide and across the nation for her idea of keeping offenders on the registry compliant by using a kiosk in the lobby of the sheriff’s office.


The kiosk is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for offenders to remain current on the registry. Often, offenders wound up violating the rules because they could not renew their information on the registry on time. They were either unable to get to the sheriff’s office before staff members left for the day or didn’t report for duty because of a holiday.


Harlow said people on the registry have 72 hours to update their address and other changed information, like a place of employment and vehicle they drive. The department lobby is always open, and with a kiosk there, people on the registry can come in and update their information any time before the 72 hour period expires.


Sheriff John Boyd said offenders who violate the registry sometimes commit crimes or pose another threat to public safety, so it’s imperative to keep them in compliance.


Boyd said her idea from about two years ago is now used by law enforcement agencies statewide and nationwide.


Harlow received a certificate of excellence from Offender Watch, a computer software company partnering with law enforcement agencies nationwide on their registries.


“I am truly honored to have my work recognized and to receive this prestigious award,” Harlow said.

Harlow received the honor during a news conference yesterday at the La Porte County Complex in downtown La Porte. 

No. 1 Ranked Bison Avoid Upset in Tourney

(Three Oaks, MI) - The Class D #1 New Buffalo Bison seemed primed for an upset in their District 4 high school boy's basketball tournament opener with arch-rival the River Valley Mustangs on Wednesday night.


However, New Buffalo pulled ahead to stay in the third quarter to win 74-54 before a packed and boisterous crowd at River Valley High School.


The No. 20 ranked Mustangs in Class D jumped out to a 10-4 lead and were up 20-13 at the end of the first quarter. Using a trapping zone and their size advantage, the Mustangs kept smothering a frustrated high-powered Bison offense also hampered by turnovers. The Bison were also getting badly outrebounded. 


Several buckets from Anthony Lijewski kept the Bison from potentially getting blown out early until the rest of his teammates started scoring. The Bison went into halftime, trailing 32-31.


In the third quarter, Kaden Parmley and Mark Shaw put the team on their shoulders to quickly give the Bison a five-point lead. The lead grew to nine points, but after River Valley pulled to within four points, New Buffalo took over.


Head Coach Nate Tripp said he was never worried once his players in the second half began moving the ball like they’ve done all season to find open shooters. The inside then opened for New Buffalo to score close to the rim after Mustang defenders moved out to guard the outside shooters for the Bison.


“Those are all things that we celebrated with success all year. In the first half, we had none of that,” Tripp said.

New Buffalo plays for the district championship Friday night against No. 11 ranked Eau Claire.


Police Looking into Car Lot Complaints

(La Porte, IN) - Complaints about a car lot in La Porte are under investigation by police. RCH Autoplex at 1301 Pine Lake Avenue filed for bankruptcy several weeks ago.


According to La Porte Police, numerous complaints about titles not being delivered along with loans, trade-ins, and warranties not being paid.


Amanda Boyer of LaPorte, Indiana, is one of their customers. Boyer said the warranties on her car and husband's truck were never paid, and her bank was not paid on her trade-in. As a result, she and her husband now have three car payments on two vehicles, and both vehicles from the car lot are not running all that great.


"I've been contacted by at least 40 other people that are having the same issue. They are ruining so many people's credit and their lives right now. I don't know how people can treat people like that," Boyer said.


Boyer also spoke to a police investigator on Thursday morning. 


Police advise people who bought a car there and feel taken to call the detective bureau at (219) 362-9446.


According to company officials, the bankruptcy was filed due to mismanagement and restructuring the debt to make good with creditors and stay in business.

Tribute Band Concert in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Another rock and roll tribute band will perform in La Porte this weekend.


Marrakesh Express, a Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young tribute band, performs on Saturday night at the Civic Auditorium. A 20-percent discount on tickets for seating on the floor and balcony was offered today. The concert is Saturday at 8 p.m.


Several tribute bands have played at the Civic Auditorium in recent months. More are scheduled later in the year in response to a desire by city officials to provide more things to do locally and get more use out of the historic Civic Auditorium.


Tickets to the Marrakesh Express band can be found here. Other upcoming events: 


March 19: shamROCK Shindig
April 1: Midnight Rider: The Allman Brothers Tribute Band
April 16: Visions of Santana and Head Honchos
May 27: Dave Mathews Tribute Trippin Billies

Governor to Decide No Gun Permit Legislation

(Indianapolis, IN) - Carrying a handgun legally without a permit is close to becoming a reality in Indiana. Indiana House Bill 1296 is heading to the governor after passing out the republican controlled House and Senate.


Law enforcement, including LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd, is strongly opposed, claiming the requirement for a permit is what helps get criminals and others prone to violence with an illegal gun off the streets. According to law enforcement officials, removing the need will further increase the safety risk for officers.  


Under the measure, people 18 and older can carry a gun in public without a permit. However, people with a felony conviction, restraining order, and dangerous mental illness would still be prohibited from having a gun.


So far, Governor Eric Holcomb has not indicated whether he’ll sign or veto the legislation.


Locally, State Representative Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) voted for the bill, while Pat Boy (D-Michigan City) and Ryan Dvorak (D-South Bend) voted against it. Senators Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso) and Rodney Pol, Jr. (D-Chesterton) voted against it, while Senator Mike Bohacek (R-Michiana Shores) voted for it. 

Gas Under $4 Now Extinct

(La Porte County, IN) - No longer is gas under $4 a gallon in the LaPorte County area.


According to GasBuddy.com, the cheapest gas this morning was at Knoll Brothers on U.S 30 in Hamlet at $4.09 a gallon. The next cheapest gas was in New Buffalo at $4.19 a gallon at Knoll Brothers and Go Lo on U.S 12. 


In La Porte and Michigan City, most stations were charging anywhere from $4.25 to $4.39 a gallon. Experts predict the sharply rising gas prices could reach $5 a gallon well before Memorial Day.

Firefighters Sentenced for Violence at Party

(Michigan City, IN) - Two Michigan City firefighters have been sentenced in connection with violence at a drinking party. Darren Kaletha and Brad Kreighbaum were given probation on misdemeanor counts of battery last week. 


Another firefighter, Austin Swistek, has filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him. A hearing on his motion is scheduled in May.


According to court records, an off-duty firefighter was knocked unconscious when he fell out of a chair and struck his head on the floor during the party about a year and a half ago. In addition, there were allegations of physical contact occurring later.


After having too much to drink, one of the firefighters went to bed. Swistek allegedly removed his clothes and pretended he was having sex with the firefighter while sleeping. Authorities say a video of the activity was later shown to the wife of the sleeping firefighter.

Two County Pursuit Ends with Arrest

(La Porte County, IN) - A man wanted in three states was captured in a motor vehicle pursuit started by La Porte County Police.


According to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, 30-year old Andrew Waltz was at the Speedway station at U.S 35 and U.S 20 early Tuesday. After discovering the car was reported stolen, Deputy William Masterson tried stopping the vehicle in the gas station parking lot, but the driver fled eastbound on U.S. 20.


Police said the pursuit entered St. Joseph County and into South Bend, where stop sticks set out by South Bend Police flattened at least one of his tires at Western Avenue and Mayflower Road.


Police said Waltz, from Osceola, Indiana, climbed out of the vehicle and fled on foot but was quickly taken into custody. 


Waltz is wanted for undisclosed crimes in Elkhart County, Michigan, and Tennessee. He is now facing additional charges of Resisting Law Enforcement, Possession of Stolen Property, Reckless Driving, and Driving on a Suspended License.


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

Mom Charged in Death of Bedridden Son

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City woman is facing possible prison time in connection with the death of her bedridden son. Mary Wilke, 71, is charged with Level 1 felony Neglect of a Dependent Causing Death.


Her grown son, Jason Wilke, died just over a month ago.


Authorities said his mother at her home was not taking proper care of the man who became septic from bedsores and other wounds like a lost toenail. As a result, Jason Wilke had multiple pressure wounds that went to the bone. He also arrived at the hospital covered in feces.


Court records indicate the man became bedridden several years ago from an accident on an all-terrain vehicle.


Mary Wilke was being held on a $100,000 bond. She could face anywhere from a 20 to 40-year sentence.

New Furnace for Carbon Monoxide Survivors

(La Porte County, IN) - A new furnace is being installed at a La Porte area home where a man and his wife died from suspected carbon monoxide poisoning. Michiana Heating and Air Conditioning is donating the furnace and cost of labor.


Company spokeswoman Janet Lassen said the new furnace resulted from a firefighter involved in the case approaching the owner of the HVAC business to help surviving members of the family at the residence.


“He said absolutely. It just broke his heart,” Lassen said.

Lassen says a service technician found a cracked heat exchanger in the old furnace on 350 North in Center Township. Such a crack can release deadly amounts of carbon monoxide.


Harrison Russell, 60, and his wife Barbara, 56, were found dead inside their home nearly two weeks ago. Officials said their son, Aric, was hospitalized but has since been released.


La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson said carbon monoxide poisoning is suspected, but an official ruling awaits the results of a toxicology test. The test results might not be known for another 30 days or so.

Ban on Russian Oil Applauded Locally

(La Porte, IN) - A local clergyman applauded President Biden’s decision to stop importing oil from Russia.


Pastor Dennis Meyer of Bethany Lutheran Church in La Porte says a line to be drawn given the human suffering and devastation Vladimir Putin is inflicting in Ukraine. Meyers said continuing to purchase oil from Russia and helping fund the military onslaught on Ukraine goes beyond unspeakable.


“It’s a matter of ethics, and I would say the same is true with trying to get oil from Iran or Venezuela. We have to urge our government to be responsive to ethical issues and do the right thing,” Meyer said.

Meyer said the right thing has to be done even if there’s a price to pay here at home.


“It might cost us, but there are things we can do to mitigate those problems,” he said.

President Biden warned the rising cost of gas would go higher from banning oil imports from Russia. Still, things are being worked on to combat the price at the pumps, including importing more gas from other nations and increasing drilling in America. Less than 10-percent of the oil consumed by the U.S. is from Russia.

Ban Imposed on U.S. Importing Oil from Russia

(Washington D.C.) - President Joe Biden announced this morning a ban on importing oil and gas from Russia.


Biden said the action targets the “main artery of Russia’s economy.” 


“That means Russian oil will no longer be acceptable at U.S. ports, and the American people will deal another powerful blow to Putin’s war machine,” Biden said. 

Biden also said the ban would cause gas prices to increase and warned fuel companies against price gouging.


“To the oil and gas companies and to the finance firms that back them, we understand Putin’s war against the people of Ukraine is causing prices to rise. But it’s no excuse to exercise excessive price increases or padding profits or any kind of effort to exploit this situation or American consumers,” Biden said.

Bison Ranked No. 1 Going into Post Season

(New Buffalo, MI) - The New Buffalo High School boys’ basketball team is beginning the postseason ranked No. 1 in Class D.


The Bison (19-1) fell from the No. 1 ranking after suffering their only season loss to Brandywine in early February. Since then, New Buffalo has remained in the top 5 in the Michigan High School Athletic Association power rankings.


A 26 point victory over Bridgman at home on March 3 put New Buffalo back at the top of the rankings based mainly on the strength of schedule. Bridgman finished the regular season ranked No. 24 in Class C.  Brandywine goes into the postseason ranked No. 11 in Class C.


Head Coach Nate Tripp said he’s “super excited” for his team to be top-ranked to start the District 4 tournament at River Valley High School this year. Tripp said his players invested a lot of time and effort during the off-season to make a state title run after a disappointing loss in the regional opener last season to Howardsville Christian.


The off-season for the Bison included time in the weight room and six games against larger schools in June at Cadillac.


“It’s a huge honor. We’re really proud because we worked really hard for it,” Tripp said.

The Bison play River Valley in the district tournament Wednesday at River Valley. The Mustangs are No. 20 in the Class D power rankings. 



Mask Mandate Lifted in Schools

(La Porte, IN) - Masks are now optional in the La Porte School Corporation.


Superintendent Mark Francesconi said the mandate imposed in the fall was lifted when COVID-19 requirements were loosened recently by the state and federal governments. Students also no longer have to wear masks in schools or on school buses.


“We see some masks still being worn by students and staff. That’s great. That’s their option, of course,” Francesconi said.


Francesconi said the school corporation is still keeping an eye on case numbers in the schools and throughout the county. According to state health officials, the seven-day positivity rate in La Porte County is just over five percent.


Several weeks ago, the positivity rate in La Porte County and throughout the state approached or exceeded 30-percent.

Dumpster Program Coming Back

(La Porte, IN) - The dumpster program in La Porte is coming back. This will be the third consecutive year dumpsters are provided for citizens to dispose of unwanted items at no cost.


Code Enforcement Director Jeff Batchelor said two dumpsters would be set out at the exact locations as last year. One site is behind the fence at the street department at 1206 2nd Street, and another is by the water department at 1119 Lake Street.


The dumpsters are expected to be set out around the first of April but possibly sooner, depending on the weather. Batchelor says much of the materials disposed of in the dumpsters are old household items like couches and mattresses.  


Batchelor said the program is funded by a $50,000 donation from the city's Urban Enterprise Association and $10,000 from the code enforcement budget.


More than 200 dumpster loads were disposed of last year. The program extends the mayor's commitment to clean up the city and keep it clean.

COVID Weakening Further

(Indianapolis, IN) - COVID-19 is further loosening its grip statewide. More than 20 Indiana counties are now in the blue for COVID-19, which is the safest level under the state’s color-coded system for risk of infection.


La Porte County is currently in the yellow or the next safest level for risk of infection. According to state health officials, the seven-day positivity rate in La Porte County is just over five percent.


In addition, Starke and St. Joseph Counties are in the blue, while Porter County is in the yellow for risk of infection.

Gas Locally Easily Topping $4 Now

(La Porte County, IN) - Gas is now over $4 a gallon at many filling stations throughout the area.


Some places like the BP station at Lincolnway and Tyler Street in La Porte were still charging $3.99 early this afternoon. However, several other gasoline suppliers like Family Express were already at $4.39 a gallon this morning.


Lisa Dorbeck, manager of the BP station, said she expects the price of gas at her station to hit $4.39 a gallon later today, as BP's competitors are already running those prices. Many of Dorbeck's customers are talking about the rising costs. Especially worried are people on fixed incomes.


Bob Rudd of Michigan City said some of the stations were also charging $4.39 a gallon. Rudd said avoiding long trips and not eating out are among the ways he will have to tighten his belt to make up for the extra money he spends on gasoline.


Experts say there's a chance of paying $5 or more for gasoline at some point.

OWI for Napping Driver at Intersection

(La Porte County, IN) - More than just a cat nap was being taken by a driver at a La Porte County intersection.


According to La Porte County Police, officers were called early Friday to Range Road and 650 North on a report that a vehicle had been sitting at the stop sign there for about one hour. Upon arrival, 39-year-old Brady Squires was sleeping behind the wheel. He woke up when an officer started tapping on the window.


According to authorities, Squires' breath smelled like alcohol, and there was an open Smirnoff can on the dashboard.


The man from northern Michigan was arrested for OWI because he refused to take a certified blood-alcohol test.

Close But No Cigar in OWI Case

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte County man nearly made it home when he crashed while allegedly driving impaired. 26-year-old Harland Derengowski is charged with Class C misdemeanor OWI.


According to county police, officers found his pick-up truck Saturday night with front-end damage and a flat tire in the area of State Road 39 and U.S 20. In addition, Derengowski claimed that his steering went out, which caused him to strike several landscaping rocks. 


Derengowski's alleged blood alcohol level was nearly two times the legal limit. He was also cited for Driving with a Suspended License and Driving Without Insurance.

Alcohol Related Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - Police say a man who overturned his vehicle between La Porte and Westville is facing charges. 31-year-old John Porras was arrested for OWI.


According to La Porte County Police, the accident occurred early Friday at State Road 2 and 100 South. A passerby stopped to check on the driver, who gathered some belongings and left the scene. Officers later found the suspected driver, who was bleeding from his hands and complaining of pain in his neck, back, and shoulder.


The Hamlet area man had an alleged blood alcohol level close to two times the legal limit.

Wolves Blow Huge Lead to Lose Sectional Title

(Plymouth, IN) - Michigan City blew a 19 point lead to lose the sectional title game in boys' high school basketball over the weekend.


The Wolves led 47 to 28 mid-way through the third quarter, but South Bend Adams turned on the jets and tied the game with just over three minutes to play.


The Wolves lost the Plymouth sectional 78 to 71 after defeating the La Porte Slicers 61-45. Michigan City finished the year at 16-9.

Local Officer Receives Medal of Valor

(Las Vegas, NV) - An Indiana State Prison correctional officer has received national recognition for his heroism.


Lt. Dennis Koen was presented with the Medal of Valor Award by Corrections U.S.A.


On February 21 of last year, Lt. Koen tackled and subdued an inmate who was attacking two correctional officers with an edged weapon. Lt. Eugene Lasco of LaPorte County lost his life in the incident. Koen was commended for responding to the scene quickly and preventing further bloodshed.


Corrections U.S.A. is a group representing correctional officers nationwide. The Medal of Valor is their highest award. 21 other officers received recognition at their national conference in Las Vegas.


Lt. Lasco was honored across the state last week on the anniversary of his murder.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: March 2022 SOUND OFF Summit

(LAPORTE, INDIANA) - It's the first show of the month, which means it's time for another SOUND OFF Summit! Again, the listeners control the topic, as long as it's civil and within a two-minute limit. In addition, calling in was Senator Mike Bohacek giving up an update on what has passed in the Senate and what to expect in the final few days. 


Listen here: 


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


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.

Kiel, Rosenbaum, and Pol Jr. Win HTNN Daily Polls

(LAPORTE, INDIANA) - Each day, HTNN publishes an opinion poll for our online readership. The following are the results of the daily polls. Find new polls published each day on the HTNN Election HQ page


The HTNN Daily Polls are meant for entertainment. 


FEBRUARY 28: At this time, which candidate do you favor for LaPorte County Council District 1 of the Republican Party ticket?

- Justin Kiel  74.75%

- Adam Koronka  25.25%


MARCH 1: Are you in favor of the proposed public safety Local Income Tax (LIT) increase for LaPorte County?

- No, I'm not in favor  43.9% 

- Yes, I'm in favor  39.02% 

- I don't know enough about it  17.07% 

MARCH 2: At this time, which candidate do you favor for LaPorte County Council District 4 of the Republican Party ticket?

- Michael Rosenbaum  60%

- Ronald Schafer  40%


MARCH 3: At this time, which candidate do you favor for Indiana Senate District 4 on the Democratic ticket?

- Rodney Pol Jr.  47.62%

- Deb Chubb  23.81%

- Ron Meer  19.05%

- Todd Connor  9.52%

Semis Collide on 65

(Lake County, IN) - A two-semi accident resulted in injuries and a major mess on I-65 Friday morning.


The collision happened before 6 a.m. in the southbound lanes of 65 just west of Hebron. According to INDOT, one fully-loaded semi clipped another one, causing a rollover crash. One driver was trapped in his rig. State Police say he was rescued by a Good Samaritan. A trooper helped control serious bleeding from the driver’s leg, and he was transported in serious but stable condition to the hospital. The other driver sustained minor injuries.


Contents of the trucks were scattered all over the highway. Cleanup of debris and wreckage took several hours.

COVID-19 State of Emergency Lifted

(Indianapolis, IN) - Two years ago this Sunday, a public health emergency was officially declared in Indiana for a coronavirus known as COVID-19 that was sweeping the country.


On Thursday evening, that state of emergency came to an end, with Governor Eric Holcomb signing an executive order rescinding the status.


Among the reasons for the decision, Holcomb listed the steep decline in COVID cases, along with the fact that 56% of eligible Hoosiers--3.5 million people-- have been vaccinated.


The order coincided with a bill, which Holcomb also signed, that limits vaccine mandates by private employers. It also ensures that the state may continue receiving $40 million per month in enhanced Medicaid funding and $95 monthly payments in federal food assistance for 200,000 Hoosiers. Temporary licensing of healthcare workers was also extended to the end of March.

Kiel Officially Enters County Council Race

(La Porte County, IN) - LaCrosse Town Council President Justin Kiel has announced his candidacy for LaPorte County Council District 1 as a Republican in the May primary.


"I'm running to provide a strong voice for South County residents, strengthen our rural communities, and ensure we make smart investments that improve the quality of life throughout our county," Kiel said.

Kiel also expressed a commitment to be fiscally responsible while supporting efforts to pay county employees a competitive wage.


Kiel has served on the LaCrosse Town Council for over seven years and has been Council President since 2016. Under his administration, the town has accomplished things like securing over $3 million in grants, major road and sidewalk projects, and establishing a new park. The town's most significant water infrastructure improvement project in decades is also nearing completion.


In January, Kiel was elected Chairman of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, a regional council of governments responsible for representing over 784,000 people and overseeing a $1.6 billion quadrennial transportation improvement program.


He also serves as a board member of the National Association of Regional Councils, where he advocates for regional governments and better transportation policy nationwide. Kiel believes that the connections and knowledge he's achieved from his involvement in government and other ventures can be put to good use for taxpayers.


"I believe it takes experience and collaborative effort to make a difference in government, and I intend to leverage this understanding to benefit the residents of LaPorte County," he said.

Candidate Announces Run for County Council

(La Porte County, IN) - Retired businessman and longtime community volunteer, Ron Schafer, has announced his candidacy for a seat on the La Porte County Council.


"I feel it's time to create a culture of unity on the County Council, as well as in the entire County Governmental structure. I want to be a guiding force of this new unity," he said.

Schafer, who will appear on the Republican ballot in the May primary, said he would work to reverse a trend where people are opposed merely because of who they are and not for the quality of their ideas. 


"No one is always right or always wrong. If we all stop and listen to the details of a proposal and apply some good common sense, much better decisions will be made," Schafer said.  

Schafer also cited real-world experience, conservative values, and "level-headedness" as his guides for deciding areas like spending, if elected.


"My experience as a business owner will shape the decisions I make. It is worth noting that most of the Council members have spent their entire working careers as employees. They were told what to do and when to do it. If they could follow instructions, they were considered successful," Schafer said.


Schafer has been heavily involved in the community for years in areas like Pioneer Land at the La Porte County Fairgrounds, Kiwanis Club of La Porte, and the La Porte County Convention & Visitors Bureau.   

United Way Offers Free Tax Preparation

(La Porte County, IN) - People can have their income taxes prepared at no cost, thanks to the United Way of La Porte County. Households with an adjusted gross income of $66,000 or less qualify for the service provided annually by the charitable organization.


According to United Way officials, IRS-certified tax preparers under the program are made available to complete and e-mail tax returns. Officials said that gross taxable income does not include rent, farming adoption credits, or income from other states.


Free tax sites are by appointment only. The locations include the La Porte Salvation Army at (219) 326-5342 and the Michigan City Public Library at (219) 873-3049.

Bicyclist Hurt in Collision with Car

(La Porte, IN) - A man on a bicycle was hit by a car in La Porte yesterday on Pine Lake Avenue and Truesdell Avenue around 3:30 p.m.


Police said 57-year-old Pedro Garduno was in a crosswalk on his bicycle when hit by a Cadillac Escalade, making a right-hand turn.


The driver of the car, Mari Antony, 42, told police she was watching oncoming traffic and didn't see the bicyclist when she pulled out into the intersection.


Police said Garduno was taken to the hospital complaining of pain in his lower left leg.


The car suffered just minor damage. However, according to witnesses, the bicycle had a bent front rim.

Highly Ranked Bison Repeat as Champs

(New Buffalo, MI) - Add a conference title to the milestones reached this year by the New Buffalo High School boys' basketball team.


The Bison, ranked No. 2 in Class D, soundly defeated Bridgman at home last night 70-44.  A New Buffalo defeat would have meant both teams sharing the conference title.


In front of a packed house, the Bees jumped out to a 6-0 lead. But the Bison scored 20 of the following 22 points. Bridgman worked the ball to slow New Buffalo's fast-paced offense and stayed within striking distance until the fourth quarter when the Bison outscored the Bees by 14 points.


Senior Anthony Lijewski carried the Bison with 33 points on 70-percent shooting from the floor. Lijewski nailed seven three-point shots.


"I guess I was just hitting. I kind of felt weightless. It was fun. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the moment," Lijewski said.

The Bison (19-1) are ranked No. 6 in the nation for scoring averaging 84 points a game.


Officials believe no basketball team at New Buffalo High School has ever been this high in the rankings.


New Buffalo begins their quest to repeat as District 4 champions on Wednesday at River Valley High School. The Bison, who also have their sites on a state title, will play the winner between River Valley and Michigan Lutheran.



Shooting Victim Fighting for Life

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police are investigating a Thursday afternoon shooting a few blocks north of East Michigan Boulevard on the city’s north end.


At about 5:15 p.m., officers responded to the 500 block of Holliday Street on a report of shots fired, and one person shot. The badly wounded victim was transported by ambulance to Franciscan Health. The injuries were described as life-threatening.


Officers scoured the area looking for a suspect and began looking for evidence and witnesses, police said. No arrests were reported.


Police said further details were not being released because of the ongoing investigation. However, anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police.

Salvation Army Tops $210,000 Goal

(Michigan City, IN) - The Salvation Army of Michigan City announced that it exceeded the $210,000 campaign goal for the 2021 holiday season.


“We set the bar high this year for our Christmas Campaign, knowing that it would be crucial to meet that goal if we were to continue providing the level of service needed in our community, given the challenges and fluctuations from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Major Becky Simmons said. 

A similar goal for the 2020 Christmas campaign was also exceeded.


Simmons said the funds help serve local families during the holidays and help The Salvation Army operate throughout the year. This year, 561 families received holiday assistance with food and toys, including more than 1,200 children.  In addition, approximately 400 meals were distributed on Thanksgiving Day. 


The donations also support the year-round food pantry, diaper bank, utility assistance, weekend backpack feeding program, and other things like the youth summer camp.


“All of the money raised through our Christmas Campaign stays right here in Michigan City to meet the needs of people who are struggling with basic needs,” Simmons said. 

The Salvation Army gave special recognition to Police Chief Dion Campbell and his wife, LaRonda, who served as the honorary campaign chairs.

Thieves Still Eyeballing Catalytic Converters

(La Porte County, IN) - There appears to be no end to the long-running string of catalytic converter thefts.


According to La Porte County Police, a man on Tuesday parked his 1995 Ford Ranger in the area of State Road 4 and 500 East. He returned about 30 minutes later to a loud exhaust system, then looked underneath the truck and discovered the catalytic converter had been cut off.


The previous day, an attempt was made to remove a catalytic converter from a delivery van outside a flower shop on Johnson Road near Michigan City.


It is believed the suspect in that case somehow got spooked and fled before he could remove the catalytic converter. Police said there was still damage to the exhaust system from work started before the suspect fled.

Catalytic converters are a hot commodity for thieves because of their scrap value from the precious metals inside the exhaust cleaning devices.

Resort Type Living Nears Completion

(La Porte, IN) - Resort-type apartments in La Porte will start being occupied soon.


Just under 200 upscale apartments featuring things like a swimming pool and bicycle storage are going up across from Clear Lake. About 70 of the apartments in one nearly completed building are expected to have tenants beginning in about two weeks.


Two other structures containing another 130 units at the site are expected to be available for rent in the fall, said Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership.


Cook said the development is in response to greater demand locally, regionally, and nationwide for a more upscale and maintenance-free lifestyle.


“The single-family home, maybe in the ’70s and ’80s, was almost everybody’s desire. Times have changed. People really like that style of living,” Cook said.

The $30 million project is expected to generate a noticeable increase in economic activity for the downtown and surrounding area.


The developer, Flaherty & Collins Properties, out of Indianapolis, is considering adding three more resort-type apartment buildings on an adjacent property based on demand. Cook says the number of applicants for the apartments has exceeded the number of available apartments.

Bison Climb in Nationwide Scoring Rankings

(New Buffalo, MI) - The boys’ basketball team in New Buffalo has moved closer to the top in scoring nationwide.


According to MaxPreps, the Bison are No. 6 in scoring for all schools in the country, averaging 84 points a game.



The Bison (18-1) are also ranked No. 2 in Class D.


Head Coach Nate Tripp said the rankings are fun to talk about, but their eyes remain on the real prize, and that’s winning a state title.


“It’s definitely not a focus for us, but it’s really cool. When you say you’re sixth in the entire nation, obviously, you got to take notice of that, and you go to feel proud. But, it’s certainly not going to put any banners up for us,” Tripp said.

Tripp said being ranked among much larger schools in scoring makes it even more special.


The Bison play their last regular game of the season tonight at home against Bridgman  A victory would give New Buffalo the conference title. At the same time, a loss would mean New Buffalo and Bridgman sharing the conference championship.


The Bison defeated Bridgman by 10 points in the regular season.

Slicers Wolves in Sectional Match

(La Porte, IN) - The LaPorte Slicers are preparing for Michigan City Wolves in the high school boys’ basketball sectionals. Michigan City beat La Porte last month in a very close game.


Chip Jones, the radio announcer for the Slicers, feels the Slicers (11-11) have a chance against the Wolves (15-8) despite some recent struggles.


Jones believes La Porte needs to limit turnovers and handle the pressure defense from the speedy Wolves. The Slicers also need to keep the Wolves from having too many open shots and take advantage of their size.


“Michigan City is not real big, so the game sets up pretty well for Grant Ott-Large and some of our big guys,” Jones said.

Another key is not letting Michigan City score too many points in transition.


“It should be interesting. It’s sort of a clash of styles. La Porte likes to run a little bit, but they like to play a little slower. Michigan City likes to up the tempo and force the action,” Jones said.

Chip said La Porte should be helped by some players nursing injuries getting back to full strength.


The sectional match-up is at Plymouth on Friday at 5 p.m.

Man killed in Motor Vehicle Crash

(Berrien County, MI) - A fatal motor vehicle collision happened in southwest Michigan last evening.


According to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, the victim, 68-year-old Gregory Toney, was unresponsive at the crash site about eight miles north of Three Oaks. The Berrien Springs man was later pronounced dead at the hospital.


Police said the other driver was a 34-year-old woman from Galien riding with her 12-year-old son. They complained of pain to various areas of the body, police said. Their names were not released.


No light was shed on how the crash at Cleveland Avenue and Browntown Road occurred because it’s still under investigation. Police said it is not known yet if alcohol was involved.

Bids Opened for New Ambulance Base/Garage

(La Porte, IN) - Bids were opened today for building an ambulance station and a new county highway garage in Rolling Prairie. There were five bids submitted.


Retired La Porte County Emergency Medical Service paramedic Rip Ludlow said having an ambulance station at Rolling Prairie has been discussed for about 40-years.


Rolling Prairie and the entire northeast part of the county are served by ambulances dispatched from La Porte. Ludlow gave a verbal pat on the back to the La Porte County Commissioners this morning for making the new station happen.


“It’s just not Rolling Prairie. It’s the school system. It’s Hudson Township. It’s quick access to Lincoln Township. It’s highway 2 and highway 20 and a toll road that’s carrying just massive amounts of vehicles. I want to congratulate you,” Ludlow said.

The EMS base and highway garage will go up the former rest stop site near Indiana 2 and U.S 20. The new garage will replace the existing one in Rolling Prairie that is dilapidated. 


One of the bids was about $1.9 million. All of the bids were taken under advisement for action later by the commissioners.

Sleeping Driver in Accident Charged with OWI

(La Porte County, IN) - According to authorities, after drinking too much, a driver fell asleep behind the wheel on a major local highway and crashed. 25-year-old Luis Landeros is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Operating While Intoxicated. 


According to court documents, the Chicago area man was driving erratically on the Indiana Toll Road after sunrise on Saturday. Another driver pulled beside him and honked her horn to get his attention. However, Landeros was sleeping, judging from his head slumped over the steering wheel.


It wasn’t long before he crashed into a ditch east of La Porte. Landeros tried to drive out of the ditch when troopers arrived, but his vehicle was stuck in the snow.


Police said he only gave a partial sample when blowing into a breathalyzer but still registered a blood-alcohol level nearly twice the legal limit. As a result, he was charged with a felony from having a previous OWI conviction. 

Littering Could Land Man in Prison

(La Porte, IN) - Some people don't think twice about tossing a fast food bag or other trash out of a car window. A La Porte man is in big trouble, though, after allegedly doing it.


According to court documents, an Indiana Department of Natural Resources conservation officer was behind the Bernabe Chavez, 40, on Monday afternoon in Kingsbury. 


An empty case of Bud Light came flying out the car window along with an empty beer can, police said. After smelling alcohol when pulled over, the officer asked how much he had to drink. Chavez apologized for throwing the empty case out of the window. 


Though he said he'd only consumed one or two beers, Chavez was reportedly drunk when pulled over by the law enforcement officer. However, Chavez allegedly had a blood-alcohol level of .11-percent.


Chavez, 40, made his initial appearance in La Porte Circuit Court on Operating While Intoxicated and other counts.


Chavez could face an up to 30-month prison sentence because the charge was upgraded to a felony from having a previous OWI conviction. In addition, more time could be added for other charges like Driving with a Suspended Operator's License.

Youth Sports Sign-up Deadline Nears

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte Park and Recreation Department remind the public about youth baseball, softball, and tennis sign-ups. The deadline to register is Friday, March 4th. The seasons run from early spring through mid-July.


People can register their children for the upcoming season online at laporteparkandrec.com or by phone with a credit card at 219-326-9600. Signs up can also occur at the Park Department Office at 250 Pine Lake Avenue from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.


There are grants available to help parents offset the cost of participating in each sport. Contact the City of LaPorte Park Department for further information.



GOP Leader Reacts to Call for Secure Border

(La Porte County, IN) - The President's call for a secure border with Mexico was eye-opening for many residents locally and throughout the nation.


In his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden said, "And if we are to advance liberty and justice, we need to secure the border and fix the immigration system. We can do both." Biden then addressed new technologies on the border like cutting-edge scanners to detect drug smuggling better.  


La Porte County Republican Party Chairman Allen Stevens said the mention of a secure border is one of the things that struck him most about the President's State of the Union speech last night.


Stevens believes that President Biden is just trying to stem what's expected right now to be a Republican landslide in the November general election.


"The American people overwhelmingly want a secure southern border, and I think with the president's tanking approval numbers, I think it's a good P.R. move on his part," Stevens said.

Stevens also questioned whether Biden is sincere in calling for a secure border.


"It just seemed a little dubious that he was coming out with it now after being against it for so long," Stevens said.

While Biden mentioned using technology to secure the border and increasing immigration judges, Stevens said building and extending the wall put up by former President Trump is the best solution.


The latest polls show Biden's approval rating by percentage is in the upper 30s to low 40s.

Flood Relief Project Given Final Approval

(La Porte County, IN) - Residents tired of longstanding basement flooding gave thanks to the La Porte County Council last night for paying for a solution. The council approved over $1 million to alleviate high water problems at Meadowview Estates subdivision about three miles south of LaPorte’s city limits.


During the meeting, resident Rose Haite said flooding has happened at times despite sump pumps running all of the time.


“The costs have been heavy, but it also takes a toll emotionally. Many of us have shed tears coming home to a basement with water,” Haite said.

The money will come from the county’s share of the COVID-19 relief monies from the federal government.


A month ago, the La Porte County Commissioners recommended approval of the money for the project sought by the residents for several years. The plan is to run a drainage pipe about 1,000 feet to carry excess stormwater from the subdivision three miles south of La Porte to Kingsbury Ditch.


Commissioner Joe Haney said the project would also alleviate flooding from other developments, farmland, and roads in the surrounding area.


Several years ago, flooding became an issue when the subdivision expanded, and other developments emerged around it. The result was a high water table holding more water than it could drain.


“It’s just kind of a culmination of a series of unfortunate events that led to the position they’re in today,” Haney said.

The hope is the contractor, Woodruff & Sons Construction, will begin the project as soon as possible, according to Haney. 

Old Street Sign Photo Contest Begins

(La Porte County, IN) - Today marks the first day for submissions for the La Porte County Historical Society Museum's 2022 Photo Contest. The theme this year is "La Porte County Streets and Signs."


"We're hoping to see some great photos of everyone's favorite roads, signs, and avenues in La Porte County," said La Porte County Historical Society Museum Assistant Director Danielle Adams.

Entries could include photos of the advertisements painted on the sides of our brick buildings, the street where you live, the sign for your favorite intersection or business, a bustling road covered in fall leaves, and so much more.


"The options are nearly endless in our large county," Adams said.

The deadline for submissions is 4:30 p.m., Saturday, April 22. The results of the judging will be announced on April 29. The contest is open to all ages. However, photos must be taken in 2021 or 2022 in La Porte County.

All entries will be displayed in the Museum during May, and select photos will be used in their 2023 calendar.

The complete list of rules will be available on the museum website, or people can stop by the Museum to pick up the rules and submission form.

Local Manufacturer Expanding Again

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte County manufacturing company is expanding for the second time in four years.


O'Tech Corporation was awarded a 10-year tax abatement Monday night by the LaPorte County Council on $2.9 million in new equipment.


Owner Jack O'Donnell said the investment is in response to continued rising demand for the products made at the Rolling Prairie plant just off Indiana 2 near 450 East.


The company, a leader in thermoplastic compounding and one of the largest vinyl compounders in the Midwest, develops, designs, and makes plastic beads used in the cable and wiring industries along with soles for footwear.


O'Donnell says that business is booming, and the new equipment will nearly double the current production levels. Twenty additional jobs over the next 12 months are projected but possibly more judging by higher than anticipated growth in the company's workforce after the last expansion in 2018.


The forecast was ten additional jobs from an over $2 million investment in new equipment, but another 40 positions were created. O'Donnell, who founded the company 24 years ago, hopes similar things to happen again. 


The company has 87 employees, said La Porte County Office of Economic and Community Development Executive Director Tony Rodriguez.


"This particular company has performed well in La Porte County," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said the over 200,000 square foot plant would be at total capacity once the new equipment is installed in the only space available to grow within the facility.


"I believe they will be using 100-percent of their facilities, and they'll be doing it very efficiently as well," Rodriguez said.

O'Donnell suggests that turnover problems have eased up since he recently increased wages for production-related positions to between $19 and $20 an hour. Those jobs previously paid $15 to $16 an hour.

Family Express Robbed at Gunpoint

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police are investigating a hold-up at a Family Express late Saturday night by two men with guns.


A worker at the store at U.S. 20 and Johnson Road was ordered to the floor at gunpoint then was escorted to the register. The suspects left with an undisclosed amount of cash in a newer model red Chevy Sedan southbound on Johnson Road.


Both suspects were described as black males. One stood about 6'0" tall. The other suspect was about 5'0." Police said one of the suspects had on a pair of purple Air Jordan sneakers. The other suspect wore a pair of white Air Force One sneakers.


A picture released by the sheriff's department features one of the suspects and the back end of the getaway car. 


Anyone with information to asked to contact the sheriff's office.



Firefighter Applicants Sought

(La Porte, IN) - The fire department in the City of La Porte is now accepting applications.


Chief Andy Snyder said applicants must have a high school diploma and pass a preliminary physical fitness examination. Applicants are also required to take a mental aptitude test for placement on the list of eligible candidates.


Applications are accepted every two years to build a pool of eligible candidates. They are available on the city’s website and must be turned in by no later than April 8.


Contact the fire department for more information or answers to any questions.

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