Local News Archives for 2022-05

Garbage Truck Destroys House

(Kingsbury, IN) - A garbage truck crashed completely through the side of a house in La Porte County this afternoon.  Miraculously, perhaps, a woman and her baby inside the home were not seriously injured.  The crash happened about noon on U.S. 35 near 400 South at Kingsbury.

 

La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd said it appears one of the front tires blew on the southbound garbage truck which veered across the grassy median and the northbound lanes before demolishing the south side of the single story residence.  

 

Dylan Seely, 23, lived in the house with his 22-year old wife, Simone, and their 11 month old daughter.  Seely said he was at his job in Westville when he received a phone call from his wife.  “She said a truck went through the house and I got here as fast as I could,” he said.

 

Seely said his wife and daughter were on the other side of the house from where the truck collided into the structure.  “They were far away from the truck,” he said.

 

Boyd said the driver jumped out of the garbage truck just prior to the collision.  One member of the two man waste disposal crew was taken by a medical helicopter to an outside hospital.  The other person on the truck was transported to a hospital by ambulance, he said.   Boyd said he did not know their conditions.

 

Seely said his wife was driven by ambulance to a hospital where she received stitches to one of her knees after struck by some sort of debris.  The baby was not hurt, he said.

 

Seely said the amount of damage to the house his family rented for about a year didn’t seem real.  “It’s crazy,” he said.

 

The garbage truck belonged to Lakeshore Recycling and Disposal out of New Buffalo.  The northbound and southbound lanes were blocked to traffic for a while but one of the southbound lanes later reopened.

Crash Closes U.S. 35 Outside La Porte

(La Porte County, IN) - A stretch of U.S. 35 outside La Porte is completely closed because of a traffic accident.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, all highway lanes are closed from Boyd Boulevard to U.S. 6. The INDOT social media post at 1 p.m. described the crash as “serious.”  Motorists were also advised to avoid the area.

 

We’ll provide more details about the accident once more information becomes available.

Late Start to Slicers Baseball Game Today

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte High School baseball game today will not start on time.

 

Initially, the game at Merrillville was supposed to begin at 4:30 p.m. However, the team won’t be able to leave La Porte until 4 p.m. because that’s when the next school bus is available after taking children home from school.  

 

La Porte High School Athletic Director Steve Santana said shortages of buses and drivers are a problem sometimes here and in other school districts.

 

“It’s pretty common actually over the past several years with schools having transportation issues,” Santana said.

Santana says the game against the Pirates should start sometime after 5 p.m. The Slicers are 19 and 3 on the season.

New Manufacturer Coming to La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Another manufacturer has plans to open a facility in La Porte. The city council last night approved a tax abatement for Tubekraft USA.

 

“In the City of La Porte, we have made it our priority to attract high-wage, quality job opportunities that bring value to our community. With an average wage of $25 an hour, the positions that Tubekraft is creating in our city will undoubtedly have an impact. We are grateful to them for seeing our vision here in the city and are thrilled to welcome them to La Porte,” said La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody.

Tubekraft USA will invest $2.2 million to build a new 19,500-square-foot manufacturing facility in the East Gate Industrial Park. J. Shoffner General Contractors will construct the building.

 

Officials said the company would spend an additional $1,000,000 to equip this facility. Upon completion of the building and installation of equipment, the company will hire 15 new employees making an average wage of $25.00 per hour plus benefits.

 

Tubekraft USA creates steel tubes for the automotive, engineering, ag machinery, food processing industry, and energy sectors. Their core business is to manufacture DOM tubes (Drawn Over Mandrel), hydraulic tubes, and tubular components for the automotive and aerospace industries.

 

“I am grateful to the City of La Porte for welcoming us and to become a part of the community. Also, I am really thankful to all the associations and organizations who have extended help and incentives to get this project going right from the get-go,” said Anurag Sharma, President of Tubekraft USA.

The La Porte City Council approved a real property tax abatement to assist the company's expansion into the Midwest.

 

Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, added, “The City of La Porte has continued to invest in our industrial sector. New infrastructure provides new locations for businesses to join our community. We are excited that Tubekraft has chosen to become part of the city and look forward to their continued success."

Seat Belt Crackdown Begins

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police are among the law enforcement agencies cracking down on seat belt violators.

 

According to the sheriff’s office, extra patrol officers will be ensuring drivers and passengers are buckled and children are properly secure. The seatbelt effort occurs three weeks before, during, and after the Memorial Day weekend.

 

Captain Derek Allen says the focus is not on writing tickets but on encouraging people to buckle up to save lives during expected heavy travel.

 

“Seat belts are your best form of protection in a crash and against dangerous drivers.  At the end of the day, we want everyone to reach their destination safely,” Allen said.

Experts say seat belt use has gone up to 93-percent in Indiana since the nationwide campaign started more than 20 years ago. However, authorities say 226 people who were not buckled up lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes statewide in 2020.

Rescued Drowning Victims were Brothers

(Berrien County, Michigan) - Two of the four juveniles pulled from Lake Michigan at Warren Dunes in Berrien County, Michigan, have died.

 

Police said the victims were swimming in the lake when emergency crews were called to the shoreline near Sawyer around 6 p.m. on Sunday. Bystanders helped bring two of the juveniles to shore.

 

The U.S. Coast Guard helped local first responders get the others out of the water. All four were taken to the hospital, authorities said.

 

The two juveniles who died were brothers and attended St. Joseph High School in South Bend. It's believed they were cousins of the juveniles whose conditions were not revealed. 

 

According to the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend and Saint Joseph High School in South Bend, High School Principal John Kennedy ensured that support and counseling were available to students and staff today. That support will continue to be available in the future. In addition, an all-school Mass was held on Monday morning, and a Divine Mercy Chaplet was held in the afternoon.

 

“We will walk through this grief together and call upon our faith to guide and strengthen us at this time. We ask for your prayers for the family, our students, faculty, and staff,” Kennedy said.

Missing Girl Who Drowned Identified

(Michigan City, IN) - A three-year-old girl pronounced dead after being pulled from a body of water in Michigan City last week has been identified.

 

Ivy Allen was found along the shoreline of Clare Lake in the area of U.S 12 and Karwick Road near Long Beach during a search for a child reported missing on May 12. Attempts were made for several hours to revive the girl by paramedics rushing the girl to the hospital and doctors at the medical facility, police said. The young girl was last seen at her home in the 400 block of Long Beach Lane, not far from the lake.

 

LaPorte County Coroner Lynn Swanson said the cause of death revealed during an autopsy was drowning. She said there were no signs of trauma on the girl’s body.

 

Michigan City Police have not shed light on the findings of the investigation. However, Swanson revealed the girl’s mother explained the last time she saw her daughter was when she was watching television after breakfast.

 

The mother said she left the room to begin cleaning up, and at some point, her daughter apparently went out the back door, according to Swanson. However, the mother explained she didn’t know her daughter had left the residence because the alarm on the door wasn’t working correctly.

 

The search began after police were called about the missing girl at about 11:30 a.m.

Gas Reaches $4.99 a Gallon

(La Porte County, IN) - Gas is nearly $5 a gallon now at many stations in LaPorte County. 

 

Bob Rudd of Michigan City had this reaction when he drove past the Family Express at Johnson Road and U.S 20 and saw the gas price at $4.99 late this morning.

 

“I just couldn’t believe it. I cannot believe it’s that much money here in Michigan City. I know it’s other places, but it’s hit us now. It’s just absolutely crazy. It’s just too much," Rudd said. 

The semi-retired Rudd is a delivery man for an auto parts store. Rudd said being on a fixed income means limiting his driving even further since gas prices started going up rapidly several months ago. 

 

According to GasBuddy.com, gas is also $4.99 at some stations in Valparaiso. Gas was still anywhere from $4.35 to $4.99 a gallon in New Buffalo and below $4.50 in South Bend.

Narcotics Found in Cancer Center Bathroom.

(Michigan City, IN) - A good-sized amount of street drugs were located in the bathroom of a La Porte County medical facility.

 

According to La Porte County Police, officers responded to the Woodland Cancer Center outside Michigan City last week. A security officer spotted a package wrapped in plastic next to a toilet, and there was an overpowering smell of marijuana in the bathroom. The package contained close to two ounces of marijuana and over eight ounces of methamphetamine.

 

According to police, more than a dozen cancer patients were in and out of the facility that day, so it was hard to determine who the drugs belonged. The drugs have since been destroyed.

People Rescued from Lake Michigan

(Berrien County, IN) - Four people were pulled from the water of Lake Michigan last evening while swimming at Warren Dunes State Park in Berrien County, Michigan.

 

According to local police, the call came in just after 6 p.m., eight minutes later. Two people were pulled from the water during a search. 

 

The conditions of the individuals all taken to the hospital are not known publicly at this time. We'll provide more information once it becomes available.

Sneaky Gambler's Luck Runs Out

(Michigan City, IN) - A delinquent dad was picked up in a La Porte County casino and charged with trying to cash in on his winnings illegally.

 

According to court documents, Billy J. Butler of Mishawaka was at Blue Chip Casino on April 20. He won at a table game, but his winnings were intercepted because he allegedly owes $48,000 in child support.

 

When he later won over $1,000 at a slot machine, casino police say he tried paying a woman to collect it for him. The unsuspecting woman was let go, but Butler was later charged with a Level 6 Felony in La Porte Superior Court 4.

 

Things only got worse for Butler. On Tuesday he was arrested at his home in Mishawaka for unlawfully having a firearm and possession of cocaine.

Road Workers Unearth Piece of History

(Lakeville, IN) - An area road construction crew went back in time recently while doing repairs to an old highway.  Some excavation work to replace pipes under old U.S. 31 north of Lakeville recently turned up pieces of the original highway dating back about two hundred years.

 

Cassandra Bajek is this area’s public relations director for the Indiana Department of Transportation. She said remnants of an old plank road were found earlier this week well beneath the modern roadway. “We’re doing a few pipe replacements, so for that they have to dig pretty deep into the ground,” she said. “About four or five feet in, they found an old wooden road, also called a corduroy road, so it’s probably the original roadway placed there.”

 

Corduroy roads were timber trackways made of logs, often from trees cut down to clear the roadway’s path. They were frequently used in low swampy areas.

 

According to Bajek, a good number of the old log planks were carefully extracted. “We were able to pull up probably a couple dozen planks that were in pretty decent condition,” she said. “They’re not particularly wide or long but basically enough for a horse-drawn carriage to go over them.”

 

Bajek said other similar artifacts have been found in the area, but these were better preserved than most. Some of the pieces are being offered to the library and the elementary school in Lakeville for display.

 

The pipe replacement project near Lakeville will be going on all summer. Who knows? Perhaps more interesting discoveries await.

Memorial for Fallen Officers

(Michigan City, IN) - Local law enforcement officers who have been killed in the line of duty were remembered Friday in a special ceremony in Michigan City.

 

The La Porte County Peace Officer’s Memorial Service took place at the Holdcraft Performing Arts Center in the old Elston High School.

 

U.S District Attorney Clifford Johnson was the keynote speaker. This event commemorated the 15 Line of Duty Deaths in LaPorte County over the years.

 

It kicked off Police Week 2022, in which communities across the country honor those officers who made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as the family members, friends and fellow officers they left behind.

 

A similar ceremony was held in St. Joseph County Friday afternoon. A candlelight vigil was held at the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Friday night.

 

Escapee Shot in Standoff With Police

(Kentland, IN) - Indiana State Police are investigating a police-involved shooting that happened in northwest Indiana on Wednesday.

 

According to a press release, officers were delivering an inmate from Illinois to Newton County, when the prisoner escaped from the transport vehicle in Kentland. Less than two hours later, officers located the fugitive, who had obtained a firearm, in an apartment building.

 

After opening fire on officers, the inmate was shot by a Jasper County Sheriff’s deputy. The escapee, 36-year-old Jayme Lopez of Gary, was flown by helicopter to a South Bend hospital for treatment.

Nursing Home Chain Downsizing

(Warsaw, IN) - A nursing home operator familiar to area families is downsizing.

 

Miller’s Merry Manor will be transferring ownership of eight of its facilities statewide. This will not affect the facilities in La Porte, New Carlisle, or Walkerton.

 

Miller’s Health Systems, Inc. says the change has to do with changes in the operating leases at those eight locations.

 

Miller’s runs about 30 senior care facilities throughout Indiana. Nearly 700 workers stand to be affected by the downsizing. However, most, if not all of them, are expected to keep their jobs under new management.

Flags Lowered for COVID Deaths

(Indianapolis, IN) - Flags are flying at half-staff this weekend. Not for one person in particular, but for a million.

 

Governor Eric Holcomb has ordered the observance in memory of the one million American lives that have been lost to COVID-19.

 

The order coincides with a similar federal directive to fly flags at half-mast until sunset Monday.

Charges in Bank Account Fraud Attempt

(La Porte, IN) - Charges have been filed against a woman suspected of identity theft related to her activities at banks in the area.  Danielle Schoonmaker, 39, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Fraud and Identity Deception.

 

According to court documents, she stole the identities of other people to try and withdraw money from their bank accounts.

 

On May 4, she was caught attempting to withdraw $4,000 from an account belonging to someone else at a Horizon Bank branch in Michigan City, police said.  Police said a suspicious clerk notified authorities who greeted Schoonmaker while she was walking out of the branch empty handed.

 

According to court documents, she was being transported to the La Porte County Jail when she began slurring her words and told the officer she had taken a large amount of heroin earlier in the day.  She was taken to a hospital.  Then after given medical clearance several hours later, she was locked up at the jail.  Her booking information does not contain a listed address but she told the officer she was from New York City.

 

Evidence in the case indicates she was suspected of similar activity at Horizon Bank branches in Lake County and southwest Michigan.

PNW Winners of Competition Announced

(Hammond, IN) - Purdue University Northwest’s College of Business and College of Technology hosted 12 finalists on April 30 during the 11th annual PNW Big Sell pitch competition.  The top three winners in the competition  were announced.

 

Richard Christakes was awarded first place and $10,000 for his business, Ship My Plants, which matches plant enthusiasts with the closest possible sellers based on geolocation. The business model is intended to minimize stress on plants, save shipping time and costs and reduce carbon emissions.

 

Pair Drew Jarvis and Cindy Belardo took home second place and $3,000 for their product, Sunny Cup, a reusable feminine hygiene product that is lower in cost, better for the environment and free from harmful chemicals and dyes, when compared to similar feminine hygiene products on the market.

 

Dan Durochik received third place and $1,000 for Alert Lift, an automatic garage door opener with an integrated carbon monoxide detector. The device would detect high levels of carbon monoxide and trigger a garage to open and ventilate. Durochik is a 1986 PNW alumnus who earned a bachelor’s degree in Managerial Studies.

 

“Year after year the PNW Big Sell showcases the innovation and entrepreneurship in Northwest Indiana,” said Kristin Burton, assistant professor of Entrepreneurship.

 

“Each year I am excited to see what business ideas and concepts will be presented.  We are so grateful to NIPSCO for sponsoring this event and their commitment to helping small businesses.  I encourage all aspiring entrepreneurs to consider presenting their business ideas at the PNW Big Sell next year,” she said. 

 

Burton and Mont Handley, Entrepreneur in Residence and associate director of the Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center (CMEC), jointly directed the event.

 

The 12 finalists delivered six-minute pitches to a three-member panel of judges. The PNW Big Sell final pitch competition can be viewed on-demand at jedtv.com.

 

PNW has campuses in Hammond and near Westville. 

Alleged Crossbow Shoplifter Charged

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man is looking at potential time in prison for going big in his alleged shoplifting.  27 year old Sky Fall is charged in La Porte Circuit Court.

 

According to court documents, he was inside Rural King in La Porte last month and walked out without paying for three crossbows.  Police say he was captured by store surveillance cameras and recognized from previous encounters with law enforcement.  The crossbows were valued at more than $2,000.

 

He could face an up to 30 month sentence on a Level 6 Felony charge of Theft.

Search Still On for Convicted Molester

(La Porte, IN) - Authorities are still looking for a man convicted by a jury of child molesting in La Porte Circuit Court this week.  50 year old David Powers, II, did not show up for his trial but the trial was held anyway.  He was convicted on four courts of child molesting.

 

Authorities say Powers did show up for a court hearing a week before the trial but has not been seen or heard from since.  According to courtroom officials, he was living in the Lake Station/Portage area just prior to the start of his trial.

 

Police, armed with an arrest warrant issued by Judge Tom Alevizos, are actively looking for leads on his whereabouts.

 

According to the evidence, Powers is a body builder who met a woman on an internet dating site.  While living her at a home outside La Porte, authorities said he molested her 12 year old daughter on more than one occasion.  He’s facing an up to 40 year sentence on each of the two most serious counts.

Death of Child Under Investigation

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police are investigating the death of a three year old girl.  Police say the child was found along the shoreline of Clare Lake just off Fairway Drive.

 

The child was found during a search after officers were called to the 400 block of Long Beach Lane close to noon.  She was pulled from the water and transported to the hospital.  Medical personnel tried for hours but were not able to revive the girl.

 

Police are not releasing additional information at this time but they are looking for anyone who might have surveillance video to try and further the investigation.

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police. 

Hotel Guest Arrested at Pool

(La Porte County, IN) - A man was barely awake and fully clothed but managed to survive his rocky dip in a motel swimming pool in La Porte County this morning.  He can thank police officers for pulling him out of the water before something tragic, perhaps, could have happened.

 

Rodrigo Coxcahua, 23, is charged with Public Intoxication and Disorderly Conduct.

 

According to La Porte County Police, officers about 2:30 a.m. were called to Quality Inn near Interstate 94 outside the corporate boundaries of Michigan City.  A call from the hotel indicated Coxcahua was a guest at the hotel who refused to get out of the swimming pool, which was closed.  He was also reported as belligerent and threw a chair into the water.

 

Police said officers found him holding onto the steps of the pool for support and wearing jeans, a shirt and boots.  Officers also described him as “barely conscious.”  The officers lifted him out of the pool.

 

He was being held in the La Porte County Jail on $255 bond. A record at the jail for Coxcahua contained no listed address.

Home Surveillance Camera Leads to Arrest

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man is in jail after allegedly caught stealing by a home surveillance camera.  Jason Hurt, 43, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Level 6 Felony Theft and Class A Misdemeanor Criminal Trespass.

 

According to court documents, Hurt pulled into the driveway of a home Monday afternoon in La Porte near Kesling Park.  The garage door was open.  Police said he walked into the garage and walked out a minute later holding a bag containing drills and various hand tools.

 

According to police, the victim after being told a suspicious vehicle in his driveway reviewed the video on his home surveillance system.  There was an image of a man and the vehicle he was driving.  A few hours later, police spotted the vehicle on E. Lincolnway.

 

Police said Hurt, who looked like the suspect captured in the video, was taken into custody.

 

According to court records, Hurt has at least one prior theft related conviction.

CPR Classes Offered to Public

(La Porte, IN) - People seeking CPR certification can take advantage of free classes offered by City of La Porte firefighters, according to Fire Chief Andy Snyder.

 

From now until the end of the year,  the City of La Porte Fire Department is offering free monthly CPR classes to La Porte County residents.  Fire Chief Andy Snyder said CPR can often be the difference between life and death in emergency situations.  "Not only do participants walk away from these classes with their certification, but also the confidence they need to potentially save a life," Snyder said.

 

The instructors are firefighters at the department and each course is about four hours long.  "Though we hope no one ever needs to use CPR, we know that the more people we can teach, the safer our community becomes. Our team is proud to offer this service to county residents and hope many will take advantage of this free program," he said.

 

The courses at Fire Station #1 at 809 W. 18th St. are offered on the following days:

  • May 20 @ 8 a.m.
  • June 23 @ 4 p.m.
  • July 18 @ 4 p.m.
  • August 23 @ noon and 4 p.m.
  • September 12 @ noon and 4 p.m.
  • October 2 @ 8:00 AM
  • November 14 @ 4 p.m.
  • December 4 @ 4 p.m.

 Snyder said this program is made possible in part by the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte.  Those interested can learn more and sign up by contacting Firefighter Michael Mulcrone at mike.mulcrone@laportefire.com or 219-362-3456.

Steakhouse Reopens After Fire

(Michigan City, IN) - A popular chain restaurant in Michigan City has reopened after a fire this week.  The Sunday night fire was at Texas Corral on U.S. 421 near Interstate 94. 

 

According to investigators, the exterior of the building caught fire and, fortunately, the flames did not spread to the inside of the structure for the most part.

 

Michigan City Fire Department Public information officer Nicholas Pabon said an employee outside saw smoke.   Had the fire not been noticed quickly, he said it’s very possible the entire building could have been lost.

 

"With fires, minutes matter. In about 3 to 4 minutes from the time of dispatch, crews arrived on scene and 16 minutes later we had the fire knocked down.  The quick and aggressive actions from the crews saved this business," Pabon said. 

 

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Pabon said. 

Absent Man Convicted of Molesting

(La Porte, IN) - Authorities are looking for a man who was found guilty of child molesting yesterday in La Porte Circuit Court.  David Powers, II, 50, was convicted by a jury of two Level 1 Felony counts and two Level 4 Felony counts.

 

According to court documents, he molested the 12 year old daughter of his girlfriend.  The man and woman met on an internet dating site.

 

Powers was in court last week for a hearing but never showed up for trial.  The trial was held anyway and a bench warrant is out for his arrest..

 

Powers lives in the Lake Station area.

Stabosz Brushes Off State Party Scolding

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz seems to be rolling his eyes over what appears to be a scolding by the Indiana Democratic Party, which alleges he’s using public office for political gain.

 

Stabosz claims La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman wrote the words in the written tongue lashing contained in a press release. He also claimed Friedman, using his influence within the party, arm twisted top Democrats in the state to release the document to media members.

 

“This press release was written by Shaw Friedman.  It’s got all of his lingo, all of his style, and all of his language.  This is basically a political hit piece,” Stabosz said.

Stabosz also questioned why quotes in the press release are not attributed to specific individuals.  Instead, the quotes are attributed to the “Indiana Democratic Party.”

 

“This press release is an embarrassment and joke to the Democratic Party of the State of Indiana, frankly,” Stabosz said.

Stabosz said he’s also not alarmed or intimidated by a press release from such a high-ranking political organization. He felt it was typical for one party to criticize a member from another party.

 

“I’m amused and modestly irritated,” Stabosz said.

Stabosz also strongly denied allegations that he’s simply settling personal and political vendettas.

 

“I stand for integrity. I will not have my integrity attacked. That’s not what goes on here,” Stabosz said.

Stabosz and Commissioner Joe Haney have been alleging wrongdoing and corruption within county government and linking it to Friedman since they took office in January 2021. Haney had a similar view of the press release.

 

“I think it’s another political game.  It sounds eerily similar to what I’ve seen Shaw Friedman write in the past. The verbiage here is very similar,” Haney said. “It’s just another political stunt to dissuade from Tim’s desire to protect the taxpayers here of La Porte County." 

 

Friedman said he did not write the press release, but the information was provided to the state party on what’s transpired since Stabosz took office. He also denied using any influence whatsoever in the creation or release of the statement.

 

“No arm twisting necessary. They have called out a local official who has done nothing but insult, name call, and drop the ball on his obligations to the taxpayers. That’s newsworthy,” Friedman said.

Stabosz Scolded by State Party Leaders

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indiana Democratic Party, in a tongue lashing, is telling the La Porte County Auditor to stop using public office to score personal and political vendettas at the expense of taxpayers.

 

In a prepared statement, the party said Tim Stabosz, a Republican, is attacking a variety of public officials while making costly mistakes himself.

 

The party cited his late bond payment last year, costing the county government $200,000 in a refinancing opportunity lost because of the oversight and the recent mistake on property tax bills estimated to cost $100,000 or more to correct.

 

“Stabosz is proving that just like the far right-wing of the party he identifies with, he has no plans for his county or the state’s future – just more raw partisanship, conflict, and turmoil,” the press release stated.

 

The party also recommended that Stabosz “focus on his full-time job rather than leading the charge as a partisan hack for the local GOP.”

 

“He has claimed for over a year his partisan crusade was against corruption and fraud in county government without bringing forward any evidence to government agencies like Indiana State Police, State Board of Accounts, and even the FBI,” the party said.

 

Stabosz, along with Commissioner Joe Haney, has been targeting County Attorney Shaw Friedman and Commissioners Rich Mrozinski and Sheila Matias.

 

Last year, Stabosz was sued by Friedman for defamation of character in a still-undecided lawsuit for alleging Friedman runs county government by controlling elected officials.

 

The auditor has also been withholding payment to Friedman & Associates on some of their claims.  Stabosz alleges Friedman is billing on those claims for work performed outside the scope of the duties of a county attorney.

 

A majority of the commissioners recently entertained a measure to start the process of having Stabosz removed as the county auditor. However, the proposal was put on the shelf until the property tax error is resolved.

 

"Most county officials around the state take off their party jerseys once the election is over and get to work rolling up their sleeves to work for taxpayers - not Timothy Stabosz," the party said. 

Support for Success Grows for Students

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte High School students are receiving extra help with their academics.

 

The Virtual Learning Academy provides La Porte High School students experiencing significant academic and personal challenges the opportunity to reset their life trajectory toward achieving success.

 

Most recently, the Youth Assistance Program (YAP) has been added to work in conjunction with the VLA to support each student and provide the resources and sounding board to monitor goal attainment, make necessary adjustments, and encourage students as they work toward their goals, officials said.

 

Additionally, the Youth Assistance Program provides workshops on topics like drug prevention, finance, employment skill-building, and life skills pertinent to successfully transitioning into young adulthood.

 

In terms of success, in the first semester of the 2021-2022 school year, the VLA/YAP served 64 students, including those working toward their diplomas, after failing to graduate during their senior year.

 

In the first semester of this school year, 17 of 19 students who failed to graduate on time completed all required classwork to obtain their diplomas. Another student in the same category graduated before the start of the school year.

 

Officials said the program’s success is made possible by staff, students, parents, and the community as all parties form a network of support that fill the gaps where roadblocks once stood.

 

The Virtual Learning Academy is funded through the Indiana Department of Education under the umbrella of Alternative Education. The Youth Assistance Program is funded by the Indiana Department of Health and the Indiana Youth Service Association.

School Bus Filters for Better Air Quality

(La Porte, IN) - Buses in the La Porte Community School Corporation will have better air quality.

 

The school district has partnered with Lumin-Air to install MERV-13 equivalent filters and UV-C in the buses. The system will clean recirculated air, remove airborne contaminants, and maintain the safety of students and bus drivers.

 

“Cleaning and filtering the air on our school buses is another layer of protection in helping to mitigate the spread of illness while better protecting our students and drivers,” said Cary Brinkman, Transportation Director for the school corporation.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urges limiting diesel exhaust inhalation, especially for children who still have developing pulmonary systems.

 

School officials said the Lumin-Air solution includes MERV-13 equivalent filtration and UV-C lights in an enclosure, which cleans and filters recirculated air throughout an occupied bus. Officials said it does not put ions, hydroxyl radicals, gases, or harmful chemicals that claim to kill virus or bacteria cells into the air.

 

The UV-C is entirely contained in an enclosure and safe for occupied spaces.

 

“We are excited to make a positive impact on the air quality of our buses. Thanks to Lumin-Air for all of their work and services, which brought this project to fruition,” said La Porte Schools Superintendent Mark Francesconi.

Wish to be Arrested Granted

(La Porte, IN) - A man who insisted on being arrested last night had his wish granted after struggling with officers.

 

According to La Porte County Police, 33-year-old Glynn Anderson drove a battery-powered four-wheeler to the La Porte County Jail.

 

Anderson, who was not wearing a shirt in the warm temperatures, began pounding on the doors at the Jail, demanding to be arrested on an active warrant.  However, police said he had no warrants out for his arrest.

 

Anderson allegedly became aggressive with a police officer and two jail officers and was arrested for Class A Misdemeanor Resisting Law Enforcement.

 

Police said Anderson is being held without bond because he was out on bond for a previous alleged criminal violation.  According to court records, the La Porte man has a history of arrests for battery, false informing, and public nudity.

Naked Jail Escapee Located Downtown

(La Porte, IN) - A naked man escaped from the La Porte County Jail last night and wandered around the downtown. Fortunately, he was quickly captured.

 

At about 11:30 p.m., police say it appears the man escaped from a top floor of the jail on a homemade rope.

 

Several pieces of bedding material were tied together and hanging from an upper floor window. Police say the discovery was made after a citizen reported suspicious activity on the east side of the jail.

 

Soon, La Porte City Police were called about a naked man in the 600 block of Lincolnway.  He had apparent injuries from falling while making his way down the jail on the homemade rope. The escapee was located behind some buildings in that area.

 

43-year-old Desmond Robinson was taken to the hospital for treatment of his injuries. Eventually, Robinson was locked up on a burglary charge and violating probation.

 

The Hammond man allegedly broke into the Smoke and Vape shop on Franklin Street a month ago. An investigation is being conducted into the escape.

Ribbon Cutting for La Porte Manufacturer

(La Porte, IN) - A manufacturer providing the finished wood grain look on cabinets and wall panels has opened in La Porte.

 

On Tuesday, a ribbon-cutting was held at Gravure Ink, occupying 60,000 square feet inside a privately constructed spec building at the Thomas Rose Industrial Park.

        

The company is owned by Patrick Industries, a maker and distributor of components and building products for the recreational vehicle, marine, and manufactured housing industries. Patrick Industries employs about 12,000 people at more than 170 sites in the United States, Canada, and China.

 

Gravure Ink has 31 employees working the day shift. Operations Manager Hugo Gonzalez said the hope is to run two or three shifts at some point if demand for their products keeps rising.

 

“We’re excited about continuing to grow the business here,” Gonzalez said.

Gravure Ink produces a laminate on thin paper containing various designs, including the grain on trees such as maple, hickory, cherry, and oak.

 

Gonzalez said the printed designs on the paper are then shipped to plants operated by Patrick Industries to be glued on plywood and particleboard panels used in products like cabinetry.

 

He said the finished product is used in making RVs, manufactured homes, and boats, while the rest is delivered to stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s for people to purchase for things like home remodeling projects.

 

“The laminate is the coating that goes into the panel.  We give it color. Usually, it’s going to be wood grain. We’ll make those designs,” Gonzalez said.

 

Gonzalez said laminates on vinyl are made at the Patrick Industries facility in Bensenville, Illinois.

 

The other half of the spec building constructed by the Qualls family is being used for storage by American Renolit Corporation, a production facility in La Porte.

Top LPHS Graduates Announced

(La Porte, IN) - The valedictorian and salutatorian have been announced for the La Porte High School Class of 2022.

 

School officials said that Valedictorian Nick Shuble plans to attend either Iowa University or Notre Dame and major in engineering. Salutatorian Alondra Pedraza Negrete plans to attend Arizona State University and major in forensic science. Each student maintained a 4.0-grade point average, officials said.

 

Nick was awarded the Indiana Association of School Principal’s Indiana All-Star Award and the Jeremy Hoehne Award for work ethic and outstanding character in basketball. He also received local scholarships from the Kingsford Heights PTO, Slicer Football Association, and LaPorte Pop Warner.

 

Nick is a member of the LPHS National Honor Society and Unified Track and Field. He lettered in both football and basketball while achieving Academic All-State. He enjoys playing football and basketball, completing community volunteer service for the Salvation Army, spending time with family, and being with friends, officials said.

 

Alondra is a member of the LPHS National Honor Society, Art Club, Spanish Club, Indiana Academic Superbowl, and head coach of the Under 8 soccer team for La Porte FC. Alondra is also a captain of the La Porte High School soccer team.

 

She earned Academic All-State for soccer. Alondra enjoys listening to music while driving and hanging out with friends. She worked at Jimmy Johns for two years and now is at Starbucks in La Porte.

Construction Begins on Ambulance Base

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - Groundbreaking has occurred for the first ambulance base at Rolling Prairie.

 

Officials say the project has been years in the making to provide better response times to an area now served by ambulances coming from the City of La Porte.

 

“Saving lives and getting help to our citizens more quickly when minutes make a difference makes this EMS base project very important,” said Sheila Matias, President of the La Porte County Board of Commissioners.

Commissioner Rich Mrozinski said shovels hitting the ground last week represented the outcome of longstanding efforts to make the ambulance base reality.

 

“This is a great day for the citizens of Rolling Prairie and eastern La Porte County, and I couldn’t be prouder of what our team has done to get this project ready to execute. We have truly moved the needle today by making this project happen,” Mrozinski said.

A new La Porte County Highway garage serving that area is also going up at the same site in the area of U.S. 20 and Indiana 2. The land once serving as a rest stop was donated by the Indiana Department of Transportation.

 

Total construction costs came in at about $2.3 million.

Price of Gas Inches Closer to $5

(La Porte County, IN) - Record-high gasoline prices locally have gone even higher.

 

This morning, several stations in La Porte were charging as much as $4.69 a gallon, and the same was true in Michigan City, Westville, and Rolling Prairie.

 

In New Buffalo, gasoline this morning was still no higher than $4.39 a gallon.

 

According to GasBuddy.com, the most expensive gas in the area was in Valparaiso and Wanatah, with some stations charging $4.79 a gallon.

More Light Shed on Demolition of Old Hospital

(La Porte, IN) - We’ve learned more about the upcoming demolition of the former La Porte Hospital.

 

Right now, hospital officials said equipment and other furnishings on the inside are being removed from the structure. Once completed, the building will start being demolished in pieces with an excavator, and the site should be cleared by this time next year, hospital officials said.

 

Hospital officials also revealed the site would be converted into a grassy park-like space for the community to enjoy where the hospital retains ownership of the property. Officials said that they would explore any other type of use in the future with the city before a final decision.

 

Completed in 1972, the old hospital building is coming down after a new hospital called Northwest Health opened a short distance away on State Street in 2020.

 

Leigh Morris, chief executive officer and president of La Porte Hospital for more than 20-years beginning in the 1970s, said it’s difficult for him to see the chain link fencing up around the site.

 

The purpose of the fencing is to keep the public safe from the upcoming teardown.

 

Morris said La Porte Hospital replaced two aging hospitals that once served La Porte and was a symbol of modern medicine when it first opened.

 

“Even though I got some sad feelings about seeing that hospital torn down, I understand, and we will move ahead and have a wonderful health service in this community going forward,” Morris said.

Garage Damaged by Driverless Amazon Van

(La Porte County, IN) - A driver for Amazon delivered more than just packages.

 

According to La Porte County Police, the 26-year-old driver parked outside a home Friday in the area of 400 South and 300 East. He climbed into the back of the van to locate some packages to leave at the residence when the van started moving forward. The van drove 20 feet into the garage door. 

 

The impact left a massive dent in the door, but there was no structural damage. The driver, who explained he placed the delivery van in park, reached the homeowner at his workplace to notify him about the damage, police said. 

Reward Offered for Park Vandals

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte is offering a cash reward in hopes of solving an act of vandalism.

 

A soft grassy area next to a parking lot at Kesling Park was left with ruts from tires sometime Friday or early Saturday morning. Mayor Tom Dermody blamed the damage on a driver doing "burnouts" at one of the many parks that are a real asset to the city.

 

“Unacceptable. I apologize to the community that we got people here that don’t want to enjoy or respect what makes us special,” Dermody said.

The cash reward is $250 for an arrest and conviction is the case. Dermody suggested that any sentencing should include repairing the damage and working in the parks for free during the summer. The police department can be reached at 219-362-9446.

 

Crash Involved Speed and Bald Tires

(La Porte County, IN) - A woman was seriously hurt when a car overturned in La Porte County. The accident occurred on U.S. 35 at 1100 South at about 5:30 a.m. on Friday.

 

La Porte County Police said the driver, Matthew Eggert, 28, of Plymouth, was northbound on U.S 35 when he went straight where the road curves at 1100 South.  The car flipped on its roof and slid until coming to rest about 200 feet from a tree.

 

Police said a medical helicopter was called for his passenger, Courtney Hay, 38, of La Porte. She was in a lot of pain and may have aggravated a previous medical condition in her back.

 

Police said the helicopter could not take flight, though, because of rainy weather. Instead, Hay was taken by ambulance to Memorial Hospital in South Bend.

 

The car appeared to be traveling at a high rate of speed on bald tires when the accident happened. However, according to investigators, Eggert and Hay stated they had no idea how the collision occurred. 

 

Eggert was cited for driving without a valid license. 

Fire at Texas Corral

(Michigan City, IN) - A chain restaurant caught fire last night in Michigan City.

 

According to the fire department, the fire was at Texas Corral on Franklin Street near Interstate 94. So far, officials have not revealed the extent of the damage. However, pictures show heavy smoke from the north side of the structure.

 

Officials say the cause of the fire is under investigation. More information regarding the fire will be reported when available from officials. 

 

Region Man Arrested for Harassing the Court

(Morocco, IN) - A northwest Indiana man has been arrested for threatening the Indiana Supreme Court.

 

On Wednesday 26-year-old David Wayne Goetz of Morocco was arrested by the Indiana State Police. Morocco is in Newton County just south of Lake County.

 

Detectives have been investigating Goetz since February, prompted by complaints to Indiana State Capitol Police. He was allegedly sending Supreme Court Justices threatening emails. He was also placing phone calls to court officials and leaving threatening voicemail messages.

 

He was charged with two counts of Level 5 felony Intimidation.

Alleged Murderer Wins Primary

(Boone County, IN) - One primary election in central Indiana this week saw an alleged murderer win his race for local office.

 

40-year-old Andrew Wilhoite of Lebanon received enough Republican votes for a Township Board position. According to results posted by the Boone County Clerk's Office, Wilhoite was one of three candidates for a three-person board. He received just under 22 percent of the votes.

 

Unfortunately, the candidate is also currently an inmate. Wilhoite is being held in the Boone County Jail without bond. He’s accused of killing his wife back in March and faces one Level 1 felony murder charge.

 

A jury trial is scheduled for the end of August. If convicted before November 8, Wilhoite will be automatically removed from the ballot.

Police Warn of Gas Station Scammers

(La Porte County, IN) - The Sheriff’s Office is reporting an ongoing scam in the La Porte area.

 

Two groups of alleged grifters have been frequenting gas stations in northern La Porte County. One operates out of a white Ford Explorer and the other out of a gray Dodge Avenger.

 

According to police, "The shysters approach hardworking citizens with various sob stories and gas money requests. In exchange for money, the fraudsters begin attempting to trade jewelry, all of which is fake!"

St. Joseph County Settles Lawsuit for Alleged Negligence

(South Bend, IN) - Officials in St. Joseph County have settled a lawsuit alleging negligence against two county police officers.

 

Last February, a driver alleged to be under the influence of alcohol, Stephen Stopczynski, left the scene of an accident only to cause another crash hours later on Crumstown Highway.

 

A woman and her four children were injured in the second crash, in which Stopczynski died. The family alleged that if officers had taken the drunk driver into custody, their accident wouldn’t have happened.

 

The county has agreed to pay the family $10,000 and did not admit liability.

Turbo Tax Settlement

(New York) - If you have used a certain online tax preparation service in recent years, you may be getting a refund from them.

 

The parent company of TurboTax—Intuit, Inc.—has agreed to a lawsuit settlement based on alleged false advertising of free tax services. The suit claimed that nearly 4.4 million taxpayers nationwide qualified for the company’s free filing service, but were charged a fee.

 

In the settlement, TurboTax denied any wrongdoing but agreed to refund a total of $141 million.

 

Customers who used the TurboTax Free Edition between 2016 and 2018 may qualify. A direct payment of about $30 via check will be automatically be sent out.

Alleged Molester Linked to Kids' Undergarments

(La Porte County, IN) - More details are known about the child molesting allegations leveled against a man brought back from Mexico to face charges. Alexander Perez could face 20 to 40 years on the Level 1 Felony count.

 

30-year-old Perez lived in an RV on the property of longtime friends on 650 North in Springfield Township when the alleged sex crime occurred in September of 2021. Court documents revealed the 13-year-old son of the property owner woke up inside his residence during the early morning hours to Perez performing a sex act on him.  The boy kicked Perez in the face or chest and soon told his father, who booted Perez off the property.

 

Court documents also revealed evidence suggesting that Perez sneaked into the bedrooms of the boy and his sister periodically and returned to his RV with their undergarments. After charges were filed, Perez fled south of the border.

 

Local investigators, along with detectives from the U.S. Marshal’s Office, with permission to enter the country located Perez in Mexico City after an intense search, police said. Perez was housed in the San Diego County Jail until recently returned to face charges. He’s being held in the La Porte County Jail on a $100,000 cash-only bond.

Spotlight on Building Trades

(La Porte County, IN) - At the LaPorte County Commissioners’ meeting held on Wednesday, Commissioner Sheila Matias continued the LaPorte County WORKS! business report by highlighting the many building trades across northwest Indiana.

 

"Northwest Indiana was built by the skilled hands of countless hard-working men and women in the building trades who worked together to build the vast industrial complexes, commercial districts, residential neighborhoods, interstates, highways, and railways across the Region," Matias said.

We Build Northwest Indiana is a resource for people interested in construction and maintenance-related careers. 

 

While some opportunities require a college degree, most require a comprehensive training and education program known as an apprenticeship. Trade Careers include Glaziers, HVAC techs, and Boilermakers, she said.

 

“Apprenticeship programs can be challenging, but they are the pathway to a full and rewarding career pathway. Matias said that individuals who demonstrate the special blend of academic, mechanical aptitude, and physical requirements will qualify,” Matias said.

Qualities of successful applicants include a strong work ethic, positive attitude, and dependability. General, minimum qualifications include being at least 18 years old, in good physical shape, drug-free, having a valid driver's license, reliable transportation, and a high school diploma or something equivalent to a GED.

 

To find out more and apply for positions within the building trades, please go to the following websites for apprenticeship applications at https://webuildnwi.com/index.html. The link to the Indiana Plan for the pre-apprenticeship program can be found here: Application Form | Indiana Plan for Equal Employment.

Health Officials Issue Tick Advisory

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana health officials are urging Hoosiers to protect themselves from tick bites during and after spending time outdoors as warmer weather increases tick activity.

 

“We are all ready to enjoy the outdoors again after being inside over much of the winter,” said State Public Health Veterinarian Jennifer Brown, D.V.M., M.P.H. “We ask Hoosiers to take precautions, so we don’t see a bump in tick-borne illnesses, which are preventable.”

While Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease in Indiana, Hoosiers are also at risk for other tick-borne diseases, including ehrlichiosis and spotted fever group rickettsiosis (a group of diseases) including Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever), officials said.

 

While the risk for ehrlichiosis is highest in southern Indiana, tick-borne diseases are present in all parts of the state, so all Hoosiers should take steps to prevent tick bites from early spring through late fall. 

 

Those precautions include:

  • Knowing where ticks are likely to be present (close to the ground in grassy, brushy, or wooded areas)
  • Treating boots, clothing, and outdoor gear with 0.5% permethrin (NOTE: permethrin should NOT be used on bare skin)
  • Using EPA-registered insect repellents with active ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-diol (PMD) or 2-undecanoate
  • Treating pets for ticks in consultation with a veterinarian

Once indoors, officials said people should thoroughly check for ticks on clothing, gear, pets, and skin. Tumbling clothes in the dryer on high heat for 30 minutes will kill ticks, and showering can help remove any unattached ticks.

 

“Tick checks are an essential part of preventing tick-borne illnesses. Quickly finding and removing a tick can help prevent you from becoming sick,” Brown said.

Ticks can be safely removed using tweezers to grasp the tick close to the skin and then pull outward with steady and even pressure. After the tick is removed, the area should be washed thoroughly. Ticks should never be crushed with fingernails.

 

If desired, an attached tick that has been removed may be saved in a sealed bag or container of alcohol for later inspection in case the person or pet becomes ill. Alternatively, ticks may be flushed down the toilet or wrapped tightly in tape and thrown in the trash. Testing ticks to see if they are carrying diseases is not generally recommended, as the information cannot reliably be used to predict whether disease transmission occurred.

 

After finding an attached tick, anyone who becomes ill should see a medical provider immediately and alert the provider to the exposure. Most tick-borne diseases can be treated with antibiotics, and prompt diagnosis can help prevent complications.

 

For more information about ticks and how to prevent the diseases they carry, visit http://www.in.gov/isdh/20491.htm.

 

You also can visit the Indiana Department of Health at www.Statehealth.in.gov for important health and safety information or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and Facebook at www.facebook.com/StateHealthIN.

Pursuit Ends on Threat to Release Dog

(La Porte, IN) - A 58-year-old La Porte man should know by now that he can’t outrun the police.

 

William Miller, Jr. has a lifetime ban on his driver’s license, but he was allegedly behind the wheel of a van Tuesday night when an officer tried pulling him over on Clay Street. He reportedly hit the gas but soon slammed on his brakes on Jefferson Ave. and fled from the vehicle. 

 

Miller was running down Adams Street with an officer chasing him but stopped and lay on the ground when a threat was made to release a police dog. The pursuing officer held him at gunpoint until other police officers arrived and took him away in handcuffs.

 

At the time, Miller had a warrant out for his arrest on allegations he violated probation. He’s charged with Level 5 felony Habitual Traffic Offender and two counts of Resisting Law Enforcement.

Charges in Ramming of Expectant Mother

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte County man allegedly injured a pregnant woman by intentionally ramming into her vehicle. 

 

45-year-old Scott Dobrodt is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Level 5 felony battery. According to court documents, he was upset with his stepdaughter and boyfriend for tearing up his yard with their vehicle. They were pulling into his driveway Tuesday when Dobrodt, already behind the wheel of his pick-up truck, allegedly hit the gas and struck their car head-on.

 

Police said his stepdaughter is six months pregnant and had trouble breathing after the collision. She also complained of pain in her chest and had a cut on her hand, and was taken by ambulance to a hospital. No serious injuries were detected to her unborn child.

 

Dobrodt admitted to striking the vehicle because of them doing burnouts in his yard in the 6600 block of West 300 North, police said.  The charges carry anywhere from a 2 to 12-year sentence.

Wrong Way Overpass Collision

(La Porte, IN) - Nobody was injured in a wrong-way collision on the U.S 35 overpass in downtown La Porte.

 

According to police, 86-year-old Owen Stacy was southbound on Pine Lake Avenue Wednesday afternoon in his 2001 Lincoln Town Car. The North Judson man told police he failed to notice the lanes approaching the overpass separate. 

 

Stacy wound up in the northbound lanes of the overpass and struck an oncoming car driven by Samantha Holland, 26, of La Porte. Holland said it was too late for her to react when she noticed the oncoming vehicle in her travel lane.

 

Damage from the crash on the north side of the overpass was estimated at $5,000 to $10,000. In addition, Stacy was cited for driving left of center.

La Porte County Adopts Illegal Hiring Ordinance

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County has joined the fight against illegal workers.

 

On Wednesday, the La Porte County Commissioners adopted an ordinance prohibiting illegal workers from being hired at significant construction in the county. Supporters say undocumented workers paid cash, and not having taxes withheld is a considerable problem statewide and across the nation.

 

The problems range from skilled tradespeople losing job opportunities to money not finding its way back into local economies and billions in tax dollars lost.  

 

Commission President Sheila Matias drew applause from more than a dozen union workers when she praised them for being a significant part of the fabric of the country's success and the families living here since the start of organized labor.

 

“We cannot turn a blind eye to crooked corporate greed and unscrupulous companies who refuse to follow the law while the rest of us law-abiding workers, including union tradesmen and women, play by the rules. The United States of America rules,” Matias said.

Commissioner Joe Haney voted against the measure calling it a “feel-good ordinance” without the teeth to stop illegal workers from being hired. Haney said the best approach to stop unlawful hiring is for the state to get involved.

 

John Carr, a business representative from the Indiana Kentucky Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters, said Haney doesn’t understand the issue enough. Carr pointed to a similar ordinance in the City of La Porte that was used to expose dozens of illegal workers at The Banks, a resort-type apartment complex going up beside Clear Lake.

 

The subcontractors have been charged with criminal offenses, including tax fraud. The city has also suspended their license to work here for two years. A lifetime ban on their license could follow if they’re convicted.

 

“The city was able to use the evidence and suspend the license of that contractor which I don’t know if they would have been able to do that without the ordinance they have,” Carr said.

Carr said other municipalities in Lake and Porter counties wholeheartedly had adopted such measures, and Haney is the only official in the region to vote against it. He said the idea is to have enforcement locally until there’s enough support in the state legislature for such a law that can be enforced statewide.

People Upset Over Election Results Wait

(La Porte County, IN) - The decision not to release vote totals until all of the votes were counted Tuesday night is taking a public beating. Complaints were voiced during Wednesday’s La Porte County Commissioners meeting.

 

La Porte County Clerk Heather Stevens said candidates and their campaign workers deserve to know how the vote-counting is going early after working hard for months on the campaign trail. Stevens, a Republican, said it’s unfair to add stress to their lives by being kept in suspense about how they’re doing until all of the ballots have been counted.

 

Former La Porte County Democratic Party Chairman Jim Kimmel said releasing early results is a long tradition. People enjoy and build their election night gatherings around the excitement of following the count. He said early results also help local media members provide good election night coverage.

 

“It’s a good night for them to get the information out to the public,” Kimmel said.

Kimmel also thought it was very upsetting that nobody was told in advance about the decision, which left people waiting for the first results frustrated and speculating over what they suspected was a delay in the counting.

 

“Why wasn’t the media told about this in advance. They were sitting around with befuddled looks on their faces. They had no answers on what was going on,” Kimmel said.

Eventually, reporters went looking for the answers.

 

Election Board members explained they were not releasing the results until all of the voters were counted to avoid the chance of making the same mistakes that occurred in 2020.

 

Election Board Vice-President Nelson Pichardo said some of the votes were not counted accurately, but the mistakes weren’t discovered until the early results were made public. Pichardo said the corrections did not change the outcome of any race, but many people were still upset.

 

La Porte County government attorney Shaw Friedman said there was good reason for the decision by the election board. However, Friedman said he hopes a “middle ground” to the liking of the election board and people who enjoy knowing the early results are reached before November.

 

“I understand everyone’s frustration but I think they made the decision in good faith,” Friedman said.

Friedman was also critical of the election board for not giving advance notice.

 

“If there was a mistake made it was, perhaps, not alerting folks well in advance of election night that was the plan,” Freidman said.

Friedman said he also suggested to the election board members to give plenty of advance notice on how the counting in the November general election will be conducted.

 

The LaPorte County Election Board comprises President Chuck Watterson, Vice-President Nelson Pichardo, and County Clerk Heather Stevens.

Charges in Assault of Police Officer

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man is accused of kicking a police officer when he put up a struggle during his arrest. Xaun Logan, 26, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Level 6 Felony Battery Against a Public Safety Official.

 

According to police, Logan was spotted by officers not using a crosswalk Sunday while walking across Lincolnway near Detroit Street with two children. Knowing he had an active warrant out for his arrest, officers approached Logan, who showed symptoms of drug use.

 

While resisting officers, Logan was taken to other ground and kicked one of the officers in the face while trying to get away. One of the officers struck Logan in the face three times with a fist to try and gain control of him. Officers eventually placed Logan in handcuffs after threatening to use a taser gun on him.

 

Police said Logan was yelling and screaming during a profanity-laced tantrum and kicking the inside of the police vehicle while being transported to the La Porte County Jail, where he was placed into a restraint chair because of his continued violent demeanor.

 

According to court records, Logan has previously been charged with battery to a public safety official and other crimes such as intimidation, violating a protective order, and drug possession.

Early Morning Shooting

(Michigan City, IN) - A man was shot this morning in Michigan City.

 

According to police, officers were called just before 1 a.m. to the 200 block of Thurman Avenue on a report of shots fired and one person shot. That area is just east of Franklin Street, near the former Elston High School.

 

The man was taken by ambulance to the hospital with a gunshot wound to the arm. So far, no arrests have been made. However, witnesses are being interviewed, and other evidence is gathered to identify the shooter. 

 

Investigators are also looking for anyone who might have surveillance video of the suspect. Anyone with information is asked to contact Michigan City Police.

Repeat Home Invader Strikes Again

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte couple was shaken up when a man with a history of breaking into homes and hurting people allegedly tried forcing his way into their home, looking like a character in a Halloween movie.

 

Michael Bullington, 40, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court.

 

According to court documents, a man and his wife woke up to a banging noise at three o’clock in the morning last week. They saw a man with a face and neck covered in tattoos trying to force open the back doors of their home in the 1200 block of I st.

 

Police said the man and woman pushed against the inside of the doors to keep the man pressing against the doors from the outside from possibly busting his way through. They also yelled at the man to stop and then called the police. Soon, officers located Bullington hiding in some bushes near the residence.

 

Police said he never got inside the home, but he’s still charged with residential entry and public intoxication.

 

In 2013, Bullington was inside a home on Kingsporte Lane in La Porte when spotted leaving by the owner. He was on the ground wrestling with Bullington when the intruder slashed him in the face and neck with a box cutter. Police said the homeowner was treated and released.

 

According to court records, Bullington received a 12-year prison sentence for Aggravated Battery and over three years credit for time served to wait for the case to be resolved. In addition, Bullington has a record of breaking into other homes and hurting people.

Thursday Sign Ups for Summer Camp

(Michigan City, IN) - The Salvation Army of Michigan City offers free summer camp to Michigan City youth. Registration takes place at The Salvation Army 1201 Franklin Street on Thursday from 4-6 pm.

 

Youth summer camp has been a service provided by The Salvation Army for many years, said Major Dale Simmons.

 

Last year, Simmons said we could only send one group, and the year before, it was canceled, both due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the goal is to send as many children to camp this year for the multiple camps offered this year as in previous years.

 

Camp-goers will visit Little Pine Island near Grand Rapids, Michigan, and experience the same activities camp generally offers. In addition, Simmons said the camp would include adventure, crafts, singing, campfires, swimming, cabins, character-building activities, and other fun.

 

This camp experience is offered free of charge for local families thanks to a grant from Duneland Health Council and donations from the community.  All costs are covered, including transportation, meals, housing, and activities.

 

Simmons said the camp is open to students in Michigan City who are in first grade through 17 years of age. 

 

To register, parents must call (219) 874-6885 before May 31.  Immunization records, insurance information, and proof of residency will be required at the registration appointment.

 

Camps offered:

  • Jr. Adventure Camp June 14-17 (Completed grades 1-5)
  • Music Camp June 18-25 (Ages 9-17)
  • Sports Camp June 28-July 1 (Completed grades 6-12)
  • Mini-Mites July 5-7 (Completed grades K-3)
  • High Adventure July 5-7 (Completed grades 6-12)
  • Jr. Sports July 11-14 (Completed grades 1-5)
  • Adventure July 18-22 (Completed grades 6-12)

 

More information regarding summer camp, or other Salvation Army programs, is available by contacting The Salvation Army at (219) 874-6885 or visiting www.samichigancity.org.

Taco Fest Pushed Back by Dreary Forecast

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte's Taco Fest has been postponed due to Friday's grim forecast.

 

"With chilly temperatures and a 100 percent chance of rain in the forecast, we feel it is best to reschedule Friday night's festivities," said Events & Civic Auditorium Director for the city Brett Binversie. "We want Taco Fest to be a fun, positive experience for visitors and vendors alike, and it just doesn't seem that the weather would permit that." 

 

The event on Monroe Street just north of Lincolnway is rescheduled for Friday, July 8.

 

The festival, made possible by Arnett Construction & Roofing, 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 information on this event can be found at livinthelakelife.org/events/tacofest.

 

The inaugural Taco Fest in October was threatened by cool temperatures and rain but the rain stopped just prior to the start of the event, which drew a huge crowd.

Meer Fails in Political Comeback Attempt

(Michigan City, IN) - The former mayor of Michigan City failed in his bid for a political comeback last night. Ron Meer finished last in the Democratic Party primary for State Senate from District 4.

 

Incumbent Rodney Pol, Jr. of Chesterton won the party’s nomination with 44-percent of the vote. Deb Chubb and Todd Connor, both from Michigan City, received over 20-percent of the vote. Meer had seven percent of the vote. District 4 includes Michigan City and much of northern Porter County.

 

Though Meer had seven percent of the total vote, he received over 16-percent of the La Porte County vote.

 

In his bid for a third term as Michigan City's mayor, Meer was defeated by Republican Duane Parry by less than 100 votes in 2019. 

People Angered at Late Vote Tally Release

(La Porte County, IN) - More than four hours passed before any vote totals in La Porte County were released last night.

 

Typically, vote totals start being released by precinct early in the counting, giving the public a running total to gauge how the candidates are doing in their races throughout the night. However, last night, no totals were released until all of the votes countywide were tallied, which upset candidates and their supporters wanting to know how the races were shaping up.

 

La Porte County Election Board Chairman Nelson Pichardo said errors in the vote-counting two years ago were later corrected. However, a majority of election board members did not want to take a chance of making the same mistake. The Election Board comprises Republican Chuck Watterson, Democrat Nelson Pichardo, and LaPorte County Clerk Heather Stevens. 

 

“We believe that folks deserve accurate information in a reasonable amount of time instead of wrong numbers rushed, so that’s the decision that we made,” Pichardo said.

Pichardo said the counting errors in 2020, despite being corrected, angered many people, and rightly so. However, he largely blamed bugs in the system for the fixed inaccuracies once caught.

 

This year, the LaPorte County Clerk, Heather Stevens, added electronic poll books. Since they were utilized for the first time last night, the Election Board decided to be extra careful, so the counting was accurate before all votes were released.

 

The vote totals from all precincts in the county were released at about 10 p.m. 

Heeg and Hynek for Sheriff in November

(La Porte County, IN) - The race for La Porte County Sheriff in November was decided in last night’s primary election. Current Chief Deputy Sheriff Ron Heeg defeated patrol officer Andrew Morse by 18-percent points.

 

If Heeg wins in November, one of his top priorities is connecting more people with treatment for substance abuse and mental health issues. Heeg believes that extending help to more people with those difficulties would put a major dent in crime.

 

“I’m going to say probably about 30 to 50 percent of all crimes in La Porte County are because of substance abuse,” Heeg explained. 

Heeg said the crimes committed by substance abusers are often burglary and theft to obtain things of value to buy drugs. Other crimes resulting from substance abuse include operating while intoxicated, he said. 

 

In the November general election, Heeg will face Capt. Andy Hynek won the Democrat party nomination. Hynek defeated current jail commander Al Ott by five percentage points. Deputy James D. Arnold received 20-percent of the vote.

 

Hynek's plan includes reducing recidivism in the jail, increasing focus on mental health within the jail and among the staff, and using a first-hand educational approach to battling the heroin epidemic.

Milo Falls Short in Bid for Congress

(La Porte, IN) - A former La Porte mayor lost her bid for a seat in Congress in last night’s primary election.

 

Blair Milo lost to Jennifer-Ruth Green in the Republican race for the 1st District Congressional seat. Milo received 23 percent of the vote in a district mainly consisting of voters from Lake and Porter counties. Green had 47 percent of the vote.

 

Milo was disappointed at the outcome but proud of the campaign she ran.

 

“We ran a strong race.  We carried forward a mission that I’m extremely proud of and championed opportunities for the region and ideas that we need to fight against and things we need to fight for, so I’m extremely proud of the work we led and brought forward,” Milo said.

In La Porte County, Milo received 50 percent of the vote to 33 percent for Green.

 

Green, from Crown Point, will face incumbent Democrat Frank Mrvan of Hammond in November. Mrvan is favored to win the race, though it is expected to be competitive. 

 

Milo was elected to two terms as mayor before leaving for Indianapolis to work as a member of the governor’s cabinet.

2022 LaPorte County Primary Election Results

Follow this page for updated election results. Listen to live coverage of 96.7 the Eagle here

 

 

 

 

LAPORTE COUNTY NOTABLE RACES

 

(R) U.S. Rep District 1

  • Jennifer-Ruth Green: 1327 (33.43%)
  • Mark Leyva: 140 (3.53%)
  • Martin Lucas: 109 (2.75%)
  • Blair E. Milo: 1993 (50.21%)
  • Nicholas Pappas: 153 (3.85%)
  • Ben Ruiz: 151 (3.80%)
  • Aaron Storer: 96 (2.42%)

 

(D) State Sen District 4

  • Deb Chubb: 882 (32.04%)
  • Todd Connor: 652 (23.68%)
  • Ron Meer: 465 (16.89%)
  • Rodney Pol Jr.: 754 (27.39%)

 

(R) State Sen District 4

  • Jeff Larson: 1056 (74.52%)
  • Johannes Poulard: 361 (25.48%)

 

(D) County Sheriff

  • James D. Arnold: 1109 (19.62%)
  • Andrew S. Hynek: 2423 (42.87%)
  • Al Ott: 2120 (37.51%)

 

(R) County Sheriff

  • Ron Heeg: 3790 (58.85%)
  • Andrew J. Morse: 2650 (41.15%)

 

(R) Co Commissioner Dist 1

  • Elizabeth (Liz) Bergeron: 1598 (25.28%)
  • Connie Gramarossa: 3092 (48.92%)
  • Nathan C. Patrick: 1630 (25.79%)

 

(R) Co Council District 1

  • Justin Kiel: 1238 (58.98%)
  • Adam Koronka: 861 (41.02%)

 

(R) Co Council District 4

  • Mike Rosenbaum: 1046 (51.78%)
  • Ron Schafer: 974 (48.22%)

 

(R) Center Township Board

  • Amy Burris: 948 (23.16%)
  • Dakota H. Euler: 470 (11.48%)
  • Kyleen R. Fuller: 703 (17.18%)
  • Duane Miller: 727 (17.76%)
  • Bob Wellinski: 1245 (30.42%)

 

The rest of the results: 

 

Recall Effort Clears Hurdle

(St. Joseph, MI) - An effort to remove two New Buffalo City Council members before their terms expire has crossed the first hurdle.

 

The language in petitions to recall John Humphrey and Brian Flanagan was unanimously approved on May 3 by the Berrien County Election Commission during a clarity hearing at the Berrien County Administrative Building in St. Joseph.

 

Reasons cited in the petitions for recalling Humphrey and Flanagan are their November 23 votes to adopt an ordinance prohibiting new short-term rentals in the city's R1, R2, and R3 zoning districts.

 

The unanimous decision by the city council in favor of the ordinance went against the recommendation of the New Buffalo Planning Commission, which felt more information was needed before deciding whether to impose the cap.

 

Berrien County Chief Deputy Clerk Sheila Reitz said the recall petitions would require 219 valid signatures for a recall election in November. If enough signatures are obtained, she said Humphrey and Flanagan would face opposition on the ballot.

Street Repair List in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - The list of streets to be repaired this year in La Porte has been unveiled.

 

Washington Street from Michigan Avenue to Madison Street and Chicago Street by the Post Office are among the streets to be resurfaced. Other streets on the repair list include Darlington Street and Andrew Avenue near 18 Street.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said Michigan Avenue and Chicago Street are a top priority for the city this summer and were mentioned the most by citizens in their questions about upcoming street work.

 

La Porte County Councilman Mike Rosenbaum specifically asked for Chicago Street to be repaved to protect ambulances at the nearby EMS base from the wear and tear caused by the highly patched, bumpy surface.

 

Dermody said he wishes more could be done, but there’s only enough funding to repair about five percent of the streets each year. Over $1.8 million will be spent on fixing roads this year, and roughly half of those monies are coming from the state.

 

Dermody praised City Engineer Nick Minich, and the city’s still relatively new street maintenance plan designed to extend pavement lifespan to save money and gradually reduce the number of streets that need resurfacing.

Classic Cars Destroyed in Barn Fire

(LaCrosse, IN) - A La Porte County farmer lost machinery and tools and three classic cars to a fire that destroyed his barn and ran the municipal water tank dry. His grandfather initially owned one of the cars, a 1975 Oldsmobile Delta 88 convertible.

 

“That’s the one that hurts the most,” said Bobby Younggreen, who’s lived on the farm in his family for about a century since 1980.

 

Younggreen, 60, said he was notified about the early Monday fire while on delivery, and his drive back home from southern Indiana seemed like the longest in his 40-year career as a full-time truck driver.

 

“I was kind of in shock,” Younggreen said.

 

The cars and farm equipment, including a combine and two tractors, were inside his 22,000 square foot pole barn, which collapsed during the fire at his farm in LaCrosse. The fire was intense enough to engulf a pick-up truck parked outside the barn in flames.

 

Younggreen said he has insurance to cover the total loss estimated at a “couple hundred thousand dollars” in equipment. However, he wasn’t sure about the cost of building another pole structure or the value of the cars.  

 

The other destroyed vehicles were a 1992 maroon Chevy Corvette convertible and a 1983 Cadillac.

 

Younggreen said the Oldsmobile was passed down to his father, who left him the car when he died more than 10-years ago.  He purchased the other two classic vehicles several years ago and took all of them on rides during the summer. The cars had only about 30,000 miles on their odometers and were still in their natural state.

 

“They were pretty nice. They were all stock,” Younggreen said.

 

LaCrosse Fire Chief Aaron Rust said the cause of the fire remains under investigation, but one of the possibilities involves a battery charger overheating. A half dozen battery chargers were plugged into a power strip to keep his batteries fully charged for drills and other power tools he uses on the farm.

 

Younggreen's wife discovered the fire after hearing what sounded like shotgun blasts from the tops of torches blowing off, perhaps from the heat pressure created inside the devices.

 

Younggreen raises corn and soybeans on 325 acres and rents another 80 acres to grow hay. He was delivering steel coils from Valparaiso to Rockport close to the Ohio River between Evansville and Louisville when notified about the fire.

 

Town Councilman Justin Kiel said a temporary boil order was issued for the town of more than 500 residents because of a drop in water pressure in the lines caused by the municipal tank on a tower running dry.

 

The tank was emptied from the amount of water pulled to fight the fire being faster than the volume entering the tank from the water treatment plant. As a result, residents had no water until the tank started filling up after the fire.

 

“We were able to get it back online fairly quickly. It was a relatively short disruption,” Kiel said.

 

Boil orders are required by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management whenever there’s a drop in water pressure that could allow contaminants into the system. Kiel said the order would be lifted once test results show the water is free of impurities.

 

Upon arrival, Rust said the barn was already engulfed in flames, and tanker trucks were bringing water from other sources before the tank ran dry. He said the focus was on keeping the fire from spreading to the nearby house, which was not damaged.

 

“We had constant water supplies,” Rust said.

Jail Promotions Announced

(La Porte County, IN) - Three officers in the La Porte County Jail have been promoted.

 

Sergeant Jeff Holt was hired on December 1, 2014. ?Holt moved up from Shift Sergeant on the Afternoon Shift to Assistant Jail Commander of Operations, police said. Holt is a 2012 graduate of Michigan City High School.

 

Sergeant Jamie Eguia was hired on December 17, 2018. Eguia was promoted from Shift Corporal on the Afternoon Shift to Afternoon Shift Sergeant.  She is a 2000 graduate of Michigan City High School and a US Army Veteran.

 

Corporal Carlos Espinoza was hired on July 2, 2018. Espinoza previously served as a deputy on the Day Shift. He moves to the Afternoon Shift to assist with day-to-day operations and supervision. He is a 2008 graduate of Thomas A. Edison High School in Lake Station and still lives in that community.

HTNN Primary Coverage Show

Join Dennis Siddall, Nate Loucks, Stan Maddux, and Liam Hobbs on 96.7 the Eagle and HometownNewsNow.com as they report on election results and stories from around LaPorte County. 

 

Get up-to-date LaPorte County election results here

 

 

 

 

 

Man Sentenced for Child Pornography

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man has been sentenced for downloading hundreds of naked images of children. Jimmie Jackson, 74, was convicted in La Porte Circuit Court of Level 6 Felony Possession of Child Pornography.

 

Under a guilty plea sentence handed down by Judge Tom Alevizos, Jackson received six months of home detention followed by one year on probation. GPS will monitor his activities. He could have received up to three years in prison.

 

According to court documents, Jackson, over two years ago, took his laptop in for repair, and a technician discovered numerous explicit images of children on the hard drive. In addition, the hard drive was locked up by a virus.

 

Under the sentencing order, Jackson must register as a sex offender and is prohibited from having a laptop or other electronic device unless it’s equipped with software to allow probation officers to monitor his activity.

Fugitive Hiding in Barn Captured

(La Porte County, IN) - Police reeled in a suspected drug-using fugitive found hiding in a Michigan City area barn. Timothy Witten, 29, of Kingsford Heights, is charged with Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of a Hypodermic Needle.

 

According to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, deputies went to the 6900 block of West Red Apple Drive in Coolspring Township to arrest Witten on a warrant for violating probation. Officers had reason to believe Witten had just fled inside the barn.

 

Officials gave Whitten loud verbal commands to come out with his hands up and threatened him with possible use of a taser gun if he didn’t reveal himself. Instead, Witten appeared from the corner of the barn where he had been hiding underneath items.

 

Whitten was found with .06 grams of methamphetamine, two hypodermic needles, and $620 in cash. According to court records, Witten has a criminal record for theft and battery. 

Arrest in Scary Slow Speed Pursuit

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police arrested a driver who nearly struck oncoming vehicles during a pursuit that must have seemed as slow, perhaps, as a line of turtles.

 

Vincent Reeves, 48, of Knox, Indiana, is charged with Operating While Intoxicated, Resisting Law Enforcement with a Motor Vehicle, and Possession of a Legend Drug.

 

According to police, officers responding to a reckless driver report located Reeves before 8 p.m., veering back and forth across the center line on Johnson Road in the Waterford area. Close to a dozen vehicles were behind his Nissan Altima because he traveled at prolonged speeds.

 

Police said an officer attempted to make a traffic stop, but Reeves wouldn’t pull over and, sometimes, accelerated. He traveled anywhere from 6 miles per hour to nearly 30 mph. during the pursuit as oncoming drivers swerved out of his way, police said.

 

Reeves was eventually caught when the front tires on his vehicles were flattened by stop sticks placed by Deputy Tyler Olberholtzer on Johnson Road near the new Center Township Fire Station. Reeves appeared to be under the influence of the painkiller, Oxycodone found in his vehicle. However, officials later discovered that Reeves did not have a prescription for the pills.

 

Officers described him as confused, speaking with slurred speech, and looking like he wanted to fall asleep, judging by his droopy eyelids. 

 

When asked where he was coming from, Reeves said, "city," and thought it was Saturday.

Haney Endorses Green in Race for Congress

(La Porte County, IN) - A local official is endorsing one of the republican candidates running for Congress. Commissioner Joe Haney is supporting Jennifer Ruth Green.

 

Many political experts believe the republican nomination for the 1st District Congressional seat will come to Green from Crown Point and former La Porte Mayor Blair Milo in a seven-candidate race in Tuesday’s primary election.

 

Haney said Green seems to have an unwavering attitude similar to what he had when he ran for county commissioner two years ago, judging from his talks with her on several occasions.

 

“The passion and determination that I’ve heard from her, I’ve seen it in her eyes, and that fire she has reminds you of when I first ran for office two years, and that’s the same conviction I have today, and that’s to stand for what’s right and to not back down no matter what,” Haney said.

Haney said he also likes her positions on issues like a secure southern border, defending the U.S. Constitution, and strong national defense.

 

Haney said he never had a chance to get to know Milo, who had already left as mayor to work for the governor before he became a commissioner.

 

 

Early Voting Deadline Passes

(La Porte County, IN) - The deadline has passed to vote early for Tuesday’s primary elections in Indiana. The deadline was noon.

 

La Porte County Clerk Heather Stevens said voters cast more than 1,800 early votes countywide. There are more than 70,000 registered voters in La Porte County. In addition, 86 percent of the already cast votes were from people who physically went to an early voting polling site.

 

Stevens said early voting this year was considerably lower than the primary in 2020, when many people voted early to avoid the risk of contracting COVID-19 at the polls. 2020 was also a presidential election year when voter turnout, historically, is much greater.

Alleged Child Molester Returned from Mexico

(La Porte County, IN) - A suspected child molester who fled to Mexico returned to La Porte County to face charges. Alexander Perez, 30, is held in the La Porte County Jail on a $100,000 bond.

 

According to La Porte County Police, the investigation began in September when officers were called to a home on a report of a sex offense involving a juvenile in rural Springfield Township.

 

Police said enough evidence was collected against Perez for an arrest warrant against him a month later. However, it was determined Perez had fled to Mexico.

 

In December, local authorities working with federal agents exercised their privilege to work south of the border and, following an intense search, located Perez in Mexico City, police said. He was held in the San Diego County Jail until he returned here ten days ago to face charges.

 

The former Valparaiso man is charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 in Michigan City with Level 1 Felony Child Molesting. If convicted, Perez would face anywhere from a 20-year to 40-year sentence.

New Voting Equipment to Be Used in La Porte County

(La Porte, IN) - Primary elections are just days away. At the polls on Tuesday, voters will see some new advanced technology.

 

During a recent visit to La Porte, Secretary of State Holli Sullivan told HTNN about the election tech upgrades. “Your county here is getting new voting equipment and verified paper trails, as well as new voting booths,” she said. “Your clerk is extremely excited to get those implemented and let everybody be able to use them here.”

 

La Porte County Clerk Heather Stevens said she has spent most of the last week training poll workers on the new equipment. One of the gadgets is an electronic device which will replace the clunky stack of papers that voters currently sign in with. “It’s very simple; instead of that big piece of paper, it’s an iPad,” she said. “It’s going to scan your driver’s license for you. It really is a big help to the poll workers. So far, they seem to love it.”

 

Stevens said another new device will be used that verifies an electronic vote with a secured paper printout. That way, votes can be double-checked later, if necessary. Stevens said the paper trail helps guarantee that votes aren’t somehow changed within the workings of an electronic voting device.  Only one of those machines will be at every polling station this election so poll workers can get used to them. They’ll be required on every voting device in the 2024 general election.

 

Secretary of State Sullivan is expecting a brisk turnout at polling stations this year. 2020 saw an unprecedented number of absentee and early paper ballots due to the pandemic. Primary elections are not usually as busy; however, Sullivan said some highly-contested races such as County Sheriff and the 1st Congressional District could drive more La Porte County voters to the polls.

A Tough Choice for Local Republicans in Important Congressional Race

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte’s Blair Milo isn’t the only Republican vying for an upset in Indiana’s 1st Congressional District.

 

The other front-runner in Tuesday’s primary race is Jennifer-Ruth Green of Crown Point. Green is a new face to La Porte Republicans and to Region voters in general. While visiting La Porte recently, she told HTNN a little about her political priorities. “The focus for me is definitely the home. Strong American families are important,” she emphasized. “And then a strong American economy. We see how important it is to have a lively economy that’s ready for workers and ready for jobs.” Green also stressed the need for bolstering national defense and border security.

 

Green acknowledged the hometown advantage of Blair Milo in this part of the district but said she has found plenty of support in La Porte County. “People here have been willing to hear who I am and learn more about me,” she said. “So I’m appreciative of that. I appreciate the open-mindedness of people in La Porte and just their willingness to see and evaluate the choices.”

 

Out of seven Republican candidates running in Tuesday’s primary, Milo and Green have emerged as the favorites. Hailing from opposite sides of the Congressional district, the two women share similarities and differences that will pose a difficult choice for primary voters.

 

Both women are successful military veterans. Milo served in the U.S. Navy for thirteen years, achieving the rank of Lieutenant Commander. Green is an Air Force Academy graduate and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. She is currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air National Guard and runs a non-profit educational program that guides at-risk youth toward STEM careers.

 

Milo has been ensconced in state politics since becoming La Porte’s mayor in 2011. Following a stint as the state’s first Secretary for Career Connections and Talent, she currently works for Sagamore Institute promoting female and minority entrepreneurship. Milo has been endorsed by a group of over a dozen Indiana mayors.

 

Green is a newcomer to politics. However, she seems to have more GOP backing party-wide. Her endorsements include Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, Former U.S. Secretary of State and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Indiana Right to Life, and many sitting Republican members of Congress and the Indiana General Assembly.

 

If Green can ride a red wave to victory in the general election, she will become only the second African American Republican woman elected to Congress.

 

The other candidates in the 1st District primary race are Mark Leyva, who lost to Frank Mrvan in 2020, Martin Lucas, Nicholas Pappas, David Ruiz, and Aaron Storer. However, smart money has the ladies, Milo and Green, taking the race down to the wire. The question for Tuesday: which one?

 

Ultimately Republican voters in the Region may be faced with a choice between which candidate is more familiar to them and which one they think is more likely to win the general election in a liberal-leaning 1st District.

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