Local News Archives for 2022-06

New Carlisle Fire Department Settling in to New Digs

(New Carlisle, IN) - Firefighters in New Carlisle are settling into a new home in a familiar location.

 

After decades of being a volunteer department, New Carlisle went to a full-time staff two years ago. Over the winter they converted extra space in their existing fire house into living quarters. A dine-in kitchen, locker room, bunkroom, meeting space, and mini-theater now make the station a home away from home for about half a dozen first responders.

 

According to Fire Chief Josh Schweizer, the renovation was a complete tear-out. "They basically gutted the whole thing, except for the block walls," he said. "We did add some block walls in spots and basically built it for a staff of theoretically seven 24-hour personnel at a time."

 

The improvements started last October. Supply chain issues slowed construction a bit. But they were able to fully move in by April. Currently the department has five first responders, but are in the process of hiring a sixth. "We made it a little bit scalable, so as we grow and call volume goes up and the need goes up, we can add on as needed," Schweizer said.

 

Now they have a small town fire house to be proud of. Recently, the department hosted an open house for former volunteer members. "For most [New Carlisle] firefighters, this is the only fire station they've ever known," Schweizer said. "And so we wanted to open it to them to say, 'This is where you guys got us, and now this is where we're going with it.'"

 

Earlier this week, the MOPS group from the New Carlisle Wesleyan Church stopped by for a visit. Firefighters gave about two dozen local kids and their parents a guided tour of the newly improved facilities.

Parts of Brockman Conviction Overturned

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indiana Court of Appeals has overturned parts of the conviction of a La Porte County man accused of reckless homicide.

 

Last year Jesse Brockman was found guilty of multiple drug-related offenses related to the 2019 overdose deaths of 26-year-old Christina Rossetti and 29-year-old Zachary Granzo. The trio were sharing a Michigan City motel room, where the methamphetamine overdose took place. While conducting a wellness check, police found Brockman slumped in a chair with the two dead bodies nearby. He told authorities they had overdosed about ten hours earlier.

 

Even though Brockman allegedly admitted to police that the meth was his, the appeals court determined that he was not solely to blame. The court overturned six felony counts related to methamphetamine dealing and causing death.

 

But Brockman did not wiggle off the hook completely. He was still found guilty of failure to report human remains, as well as two counts of dealing another drug that also contributed to the deaths.

Upcoming Special Session Pushed Back

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indiana General Assembly had planned to gather next week to consider the abortion topic, among other issues.

 

Now that special session has been pushed back.

 

Lawmakers decided yesterday to begin deliberations on July 25.

 

Technically, the special session called recently by Governor Eric Holcomb will begin next Wednesday. But since statute allows 40 days for legislators to conclude their work, they decided to shorten the meeting window.

 

They will also discuss the state’s budget surplus and possible financial relief for Hoosiers.

Rokita Trying to Kickstart Stalled Abortion Legislation

(Indianapolis, IN) - While Indiana lawmakers are gearing up to debate the future of abortion in the state, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is wasting no time seeking legal action to curb the practice.

 

Rokita’s office is appealing several court orders standing in the way of previously passed legislation limiting abortion.

 

One of the laws prohibits abortions based on gender, race, or disability. Also, Rokita is petitioning against a ban on dismemberment abortions, as well as a parental notification requirement for minors that obtain court approval for abortion.

 

Rokita’s reasoning is that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision has shifted abortion laws to the states. And Indiana has already passed these laws, which should now be freed from court injunctions.

 

Rokita has also filed for a halt to expansion plans by abortion providers in South Bend and Evansville.

Library Children's Activity Disrupted by Protesters

(South Bend, IN) - The St. Joseph County Public Library has confirmed a disturbance at one of their branches during a reading activity for children.

 

According to the library, a group of protestors interrupted a presentation called Rainbow Storytime at a South Bend library branch on Ewing Avenue Monday evening. The activity was sponsored by The Tree House Gender Resource Center, a South Bend organization that promotes transgender and LGBT education.

 

The demonstrators were allegedly members of the Michiana Proud Boys.

 

Library security and South Bend police diffused the situation, according to a library statement.

 

Wolves And Cougars Face Off in Summer Scrimmage

(New Carlisle, IN) - Even though it’s only June, high school football season is underway. The La Porte Slicers hosted a three-way scrimmage last week with Hobart and Mishawaka Marian.

 

On Tuesday night New Prairie hosted Michigan City for their first scrimmage.

 

Michigan City head coach Phil Mason says early scrimmages are a great way to assess young talent. "We're going to be young in a lot of spots, but really talented," he said following the scrimmage. "Summer's important to us. These [practices] are awesome; we love getting out here and getting a lot of kids in, getting a lot of work and evaluating and coaching our guys. We're excited about where we're at for this year."

 

New Prairie head coach Casy McKim says his team has already had a number of practices this summer, including a football camp last week in Illinois. But this was their first opportunity to get some hitting in. The good news from last night, he said, was that nobody got hurt, and everybody had something to learn. "Very glad no major injuries," he said. "A couple of guys got bumps and bruises. But the biggest thing is to evaluate guys, see what we have to fix and get better."

 

Both teams are coming off outstanding seasons, advancing to semi-state. Both teams lost many key players to graduation: Michigan City had 23 graduate, New Prairie had 17. But both coaches agreed after Tuesday night’s scrimmage that every year is a rebuilding year in high school football.

 

Florida Man Drowns Saving Teen From Lake Michigan

(Porter, IN) - A Florida man visiting the area sacrificed his own life on Monday to rescue someone from Porter Beach on Lake Michigan.

 

According to DNR reports, 38-year-old Thomas Kenning of St. Petersburg, Florida saw a teenager struggling in the water and rushed in to save her. After helping the girl to safety, Kenning disappeared in the water.

 

His body was soon recovered by lifeguards who responded to the scene, but Kenning was pronounced dead at a local hospital.

 

Porter Beach is an unguarded beach and is considered “swim at your own risk.”

 

Kenning, a middle-school social studies teacher, was in the area visiting his parents. The 17-year-old girl he saved is from Illinois.

Pulaski County Councilman to Resign Following Plea Deal

(La Porte, IN) - A Pulaski County Councilman has accepted a plea deal after being caught breaking several laws.

 

In April, Brian Young was charged with two counts of voting outside of his precinct, theft, perjury, and official misconduct.

 

After two local judges recused themselves, Young’s case was moved to La Porte County.

 

On Tuesday, Young pled guilty to the two voting transgressions, both Level 6 felonies. In return, the other charges were dropped, and the Councilman will resign from his position.

 

Young was up for reelection in November.

Police Reel in Naked Fugitive in Lake County

(Lake County, IN) - The Indiana Toll Road in Lake County was the scene of a harrowing police chase on Monday afternoon.

 

Shortly before 3:30 p.m., an Indiana State trooper slowed down to check on a 1993 Ford Escort on the side of the interstate. The driver quickly sped off, evading police. After making a U-turn, reports indicate the driver fired shots at police.

 

After leaving the tollway, the suspect ditched his car and his clothing and tried to hide in the Little Calumet River. But K9 officers and a police helicopter kept tabs on the naked fugitive until he surrendered.

 

He was identified as 38-year-old Carlos Santiago of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Police say Santiago’s wrong-way driving caused an interstate crash injuring multiple people.

 

Santiago is being held in the Lake County Jail. He is also wanted for questioning by police in Wisconsin.

Supreme Court Supports Prayer

(Washington, D.C.) - The U.S. Supreme Court posted another victory for conservatives this week.

 

On Monday the high court ruled in favor of a high school football coach who led his team in prayer during games. The coach was put on leave by his Washington state school district when he refused to stop.

 

On Monday, the court ruled 6-3 in favor of his First Amendment rights.

 

In the majority opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote that the Constitution stands for mutual respect and tolerance, not censorship and suppression of personal views.

 

Dissenting judges Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Elena Kagan argued that allowing prayer in school activities entangles church and state.

 

Interestingly, three of the Supreme Court justices attended public high schools, while the rest attended Catholic schools.

Lives Well Lived with Blueberries

(North Judson, IN) - An Indiana woman grew up working at her cousin’s blueberry farm and now watches her children and grandchildren follow in her footsteps at her farm.

 

Pat Goin and her husband, Kevin, have owned and operated Goin’s Blueberry Lane outside North Judson since 1980.

 

Fate was at work, perhaps, when Goin, more than a dozen years after graduating from high school, was offered a chance to purchase another relative’s blueberry farm about 25 miles east of the farm she worked at near DeMotte as a child. Goin said she and her husband, a retired bricklayer, didn’t hesitate to accept the offer and continue to reap the benefits.

 

The Goins have doubled their acreage and took particular delight whenever their two daughters and grandchildren come over to help.  

 

“It’s a rewarding job. It’s a rewarding life. We work hard, and when we’re done, we enjoy our life,” Goin said.

Goin’s Blueberry Lane is among 18 farms featured during the Indiana State Fair scheduled from July 29 to August 21. She plans to let fairgoers know the work is hard and the days can be long, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

“You have to have a passion for what you do. If you love what you do, it’s not a job,” Goin said.

She also wants to inform people that working at a blueberry farm is not just during the picking season from late June to mid-August. The blueberry bushes must be pruned during the winter to help keep a healthy crop. Other chores range from cleaning up and maintaining the grounds to fertilizing and watering the bushes to keeping an eye on any crop-damaging late spring frost in the forecast.

 

Nearly half of the 80-acre farm in the northwest part of the state is used for raising blueberries, while the rest of the ground is wooded. Visitors in good numbers come from as far as Indianapolis and Chicago during the U-pick season.

 

“Many of our customers are generational customers. We’ve known them for 35-plus years, and now their grandchildren are customers,” she said.

A percentage of the berries are commercially packed for wholesale distribution.

 

After the picking season, Goin said berries left in the shrubs are harvested and sold to a large coop for use in making various products. Jams, jellies, baking mixes, and even blueberry barbecue sauce and blueberry salsa are among the goods offered at their farm market.

 

There’s also honey from 70 to 80 hives kept at the farm for bees to help pollinate the blueberry blossoms.

 

“Without the bees, we would not have good large berries,” Goin said.

Ten varieties of blueberries are grown at the farm, offering product tastings during an annual holiday open house. In 2000, the operation became the first blueberry farm in Indiana to volunteer to participate in food safety audits.

 

Goin said she did everything from picking, packing, and checking out customers during her summers working at her cousin’s farm. She later received a degree in merchandising and worked at a Marshall Field store in Chicago before quitting to start raising a family.

 

Her daughters, Crissy, an elementary school principal in Highland, and Nichole, a scientist for Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis, and their children help at the farm.

 

Goin’s childhood work experience helped her hit the ground running when she and her husband purchased their farm.

 

One of her favorite stories is about a record number of customers at the farm last year on July 4. Goin said there were 96 vehicles in their parking lot at one time.

 

“If you can imagine all of those people out in that one field picking. It was quite the sight,” Goin said.

The Goins will be featured on August 3. Corteva Agriscience is once again the sponsor of the Featured Farmer program giving fairgoers a chance for the past seven years to meet people helping to feed the world.

Police Dog Takes Bite Out of Crime

(La Porte County, IN) - There’s no hiding from a police dog. Just ask a man who allegedly failed in his effort to hide a good-sized bag of marijuana.

 

According to La Porte County Police, a vehicle was clocked speeding on U.S. 20 early Monday near 400 West outside Michigan City.

 

Police said the driver quickly turned into a parking lot and pulled behind a building in a game of hide-and-seek from the officer lasting just long enough for the marijuana to be placed out of sight. After the officer pulled up, a K-9 dog alerted to the scent of possible drugs.

 

Police said the officer popped the hood on the suspect’s vehicle and located a one-gallon-sized zip lock bag filled with marijuana.

 

19-year-old DMonte Tyler of Michigan City is charged with Class B misdemeanor possession of marijuana. He could face up to six months in jail. 

Game of Chance with Liquor Arrest

(La Porte County, IN) - It was like Russian roulette but not with a gun. Fortunately, nobody was hurt.

 

According to police, 47-year-old William Augle was weaving on U.S. 30 Sunday afternoon and nearly struck another vehicle heading in the same direction.

 

Augle continued to weave, then pulled into the driveway of his home in Hanna not long after an officer activated his flashing lights and siren. Augle claimed to have had "two beers, four hours ago." However, a test revealed an alleged blood alcohol level close to five times the legal limit.

 

Augle is charged with Operating While Intoxicated, a felony, because of a past conviction for driving impaired. 

Cash Harvest from Stolen Purse

(La Porte County, IN) - A fistful of cash was taken from a purse left inside a motor vehicle in the Michigan City area.

 

According to La Porte County Police, a 21-year-old woman placed her purse on the floorboard of her car and covered it with a sweatshirt. She then left the vehicle to visit a friend.

 

Two days later, a man living nearby on Lincoln Road discovered the purse on his property underneath a bush scattered on the ground. The thief made off with the $200 that was inside the bag.

 

Police said a driver’s license led to the identity of the victim, who had already canceled her credit cards when officers informed her the purse had been found. 

Use of Fireworks Legal Starting Today

(La Porte, IN) - Fireworks can be used legally today in the City of La Porte.

 

According to the mayor's office, fireworks can be used from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. until July 3rd. In addition, fireworks can be set off on the Fourth of July from 10 a.m. until midnight.

 

Officials say the use of fireworks is also legal from July 5-9, from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

 

Fire Chief Andy Snyder asks citizens to obey the law out of respect for their neighbors. Violators could be fined up to $300.

 

"The Fourth of July is a big deal in our community, and everyone is eager to celebrate. The fire department will be working closely with the police department as well as code enforcement to ensure the rules are being followed," Snyder said.

COVID-19 Cases Remain Low

(La Porte County, IN) - COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, but it’s not nearly as big of a problem as it was several months ago.

 

Dr. Vidya Kora, a medical practitioner in Michigan City, said the number of hospitalizations remains very low. He said the vaccines and medications treating the virus are doing an excellent job in keeping a vast majority of people from becoming very sick.

 

“Considering where we were a couple of years ago with the pandemic, I think we have come a long way with COVID,” Kora said.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, the seven-day average number of confirmed cases in La Porte County is 21.

Back to Prison for Meth Dealer

(La Porte, IN) - A man is heading back to prison for dealing drugs after being caught with a large amount of methamphetamine.

 

Torriano Anderson, 44, of South Bend, was given a six-year prison sentence Friday in La Porte Circuit Court.

 

According to court documents, Anderson was driving a vehicle occupied by a woman wanted on similar allegations. After parking outside a grocery store in the 700 block of East Lincolnway, the vehicle was surrounded by officers looking to take the woman into custody. Close to 30 grams of methamphetamine and a handgun were in the vehicle.

 

It was illegal for Anderson to have a firearm because of a past conviction for dealing cocaine out of St. Joseph County.

 

His passenger, Denise Lumpp, still has her charges of dealing in methamphetamine undecided in La Porte Circuit Court.

Abortion Rights Demonstration in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - More than 100 people in downtown La Porte turned out for a demonstration against the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the constitutional right to an abortion.

 

The high court, on June 24, voted 6 to 3 to uphold Mississippi's Gestational Age Act and 5–4 to overrule Roe and Casey, the landmark case declaring abortion a right under the U.S. Constitution in 1973.

 

Two days later, the protest outside the courthouse was organized by Brianna Holzer, a 21-year-old LaPorte woman clinging to hope a majority of the justices would not follow through on their written judgment leaked to media members several weeks ago.

 

"I am quite emotional. I have cried quite a few times today because there was a little bit of hope in my mind that maybe, just maybe the U.S. would realize that people who have uteruses are actually human beings. We deserve rights. It's a little disheartening and quite angering," Holzer said.

The high court decision allows states to decide whether to ban or restrict abortion in their own jurisdictions. Holzer said her fear is abortion will be prohibited in Indiana, forcing women to travel across state lines to terminate their pregnancies.

 

The Indiana State Legislature is scheduled to meet in a special session on July 6 to begin crafting the state's abortion law.

 

Governor Eric Holcomb didn't specify what should be contained in the state's abortion law but said he is pro-life. He said the right to an abortion nationwide being overturned presents an opportunity to protect the sanctity of life further and "that's what we're going to do."

 

State Representative Jim Pressel (R) Rolling Prairie did not offer an opinion on any ban or restrictions the state should impose on abortion.

 

"It's too early to speculate on what form any legislation may take, butI'mm ready to go to work and look forward to having discussions with constituents and my fellow legislators about what this Supreme Court decision means for Indiana," Pressel said.

Holzer said she fears Indiana, being a primarily conservative state, will ban the practice, forcing women to travel across state lines to have the procedure. However, she disagrees with people who call abortion murder.

 

Holzer said late-term abortion rarely occurs, and she doesn't consider a fetus a human being in the very early stages of pregnancy.

 

"It's just a few cells clumped together in a woman's uterus and I just don't see how that can be murder," Holzer said.

Flyover for July 4 Parade

(La Porte, IN) - Military planes and a medical helicopter will fly over the parade route on the 4th of July in La Porte.

 

Dawn Zigler, one of the organizers of the parade drawing tens of thousands of people annually, said two A-10 Thunderbolt Warthogs from an Indiana National Guard base in Ft. Wayne were cleared last week to fly over the parade route.

 

A medical helicopter belonging to Lutheran Air out of South Bend will also take to the skies, something Zigler says the committee is excited to have. The flyover by the medical helicopter will kick off the parade scheduled to begin Monday at 10 a.m. 

 

Two A-10 Thunderbolt Warthogs will not be able to be here for the start of the parade because of flyovers booked in several other communities. The military planes are expected to fly over at 10:23 a.m.

 

Her sister, Joy Zigler, said the parade heading westbound on Lincolnway and J Street would feature more than 80 units. However, there's still time for an individual or organization to enter a unit in the parade assembled by the Kiwanis Club of La Porte.

 

Past parades have contained over 100 units, but the number this year is about the same as last year.

 

“It just makes for a very time-wise a nice parade, so it’s not going on too long, especially if it’s hot. We try to keep it interesting so you will want to stay for the whole thing,” Zigler said.

La Porte has also been declared the State Capital for the Day, an annual proclamation from the governor dating back several decades in LaPorte.

 

La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody said the long-running proclamation is well deserved given the community's support for veterans. The parade is also billed as the longest one in the state.  

 

"There's no better place in the State of Indiana to be on the 4th of July than the city of LaPorte," Dermody said.

Dermody said the fireworks show that night will be held at Clear Lake following a free patriotic concert by the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra at the nearby band shell of Fox Park.

 

"It's going to be a full day of events to remember our freedom and to thank those who fought for it," Dermody said.

Prison Sentence in Jail Attack

(La Porte, IN) - A Michigan City man has been sentenced for his role in a beating at the La Porte County Jail. The victim was a fellow inmate who suffered a collapsed lung and other injuries like a broken rib.

 

Kevin Crabb was given a six-year prison sentence Friday in La Porte Circuit Court and three years on probation after his release. 

 

Authorities said the 35-year-old Crabb allegedly started the beating by landing several blows to the head inside the victim’s jail cell in 2019.

 

The investigation shows another offender stomped on the victim’s rib cage. Two other inmates are believed to have played roles in the attack, leaving the victim unconscious.

 

According to court documents, the motive for the attack could have had something to do with the victim obtaining the cell phone number of the girlfriend of one of the inmates.

 

Court records show Crabb has a prior criminal history for crimes like robbery and drug dealing.

Vintage Racers Rattle Through La Porte County

(South Bend, IN) - About 150 vintage cars chugged through La Porte County this week as part of a unique long-distance road race.

 

The Hemmings Motor News Great Race covers ten states in nine days. Given the age of the cars, the race is not a matter of speed, but of mechanical endurance.

 

Teams from all over the U.S. and six foreign countries are participating. Over 160 cars started the race in Rhode Island, but at least ten had broken down by the time they pulled into South Bend for lunch Wednesday.

 

One of the near casualties was a 1918 American LeFrance driven by Jay Reinan of Ottertail County, Minnesota and his cousin Chris Brungardt of Fargo, North Dakota. Repairs are a constant on an old jalopy like theirs, and a second flat tire a few blocks away from the Studebaker Museum in South Bend nearly knocked them out of the race. “We had two flats and only one spare,” Reinan said as the pair frantically made repairs. “They used to say ‘race, repair, repeat;' and that’s what we’re doing. Yesterday we were having bearing problems, so we repacked all the bearings last night and tuned it up. Now we got tire problems.”

 

Reinan quickly admitted that they might not have made it out of the tire jam without local help. A fellow auto enthusiast happened to have an extra inner tube for his 1912 Rolls-Royce roadster. A representative of the Studebaker Museum paid for the repair work to be done at a local tire store. “We’ve been doing this nine years,” Reinan said as he torqued down the fixed wheel. “The Studebaker Museum is the top of our list as far as the amount of help we’ve gotten from anybody ever on the race. And just, the people here, everyone was just so helpful.”

 

Reinan said his car is loud and stinky, but not very fast by today’s standards. “We’ve had it up to about 70… before we chickened out,” Reinan said, as he and Brungardt shared a knowing laugh. According to Reinan, their bright yellow car, which resembles something from the opening scenes of Chitty Chity Bang Bang, started its automotive life as a fire truck. Somewhere along the way, a backyard gearhead turned it into a race car. “Whoever did it used hot rivets, “Reinan noted. “which means whoever it was had some blacksmithing skills.”

 

The cousins took off in a cloud of exhaust heading west through La Porte County. They hope to be crossing the finish line in Fargo, North Dakota sometime Sunday.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Paladin, Inc.

(LAPORTE, INDIANA) - In this month's SOUND OFF nonprofit spotlight, Nate Loucks discussed services for persons with disabilities, seniors, and their families with Paladin CEO Steve Hobby and Development and Marketing Officer Melissa Bohacek.

 

In addition, they talked about Disability Pride Month, sexual and emotional abuse against people with disabilities, and the struggle with housing for those living with disabilities. Listen to the full episode below:

 

Michigan City Beaches Staffed for Safety

(Michigan City, IN) - First responders have an increased presence at beaches in Michigan City this year in the hopes of ensuring a safer summer for lake swimmers. The Michigan City Fire Department has taken the responsibility of overseeing the training of lifeguards at Washington Park Beach.

 

This summer, the beach is fully staffed after the city raised wages and offered paid training for lifeguards. And Indiana DNR officers are also now working with lifeguards on jet-ski rescues.

 

According to recent statistics put out by the Great Lakes Surg Rescue Project, 19 people have drowned in Lake Michigan so far this year. None of the drownings haven taken place in northern Indiana.

 

On Tuesday, rescuers responded to a possible drowning. Just after 6:00, Michigan City firefighters responded to a call about a possible victim described as a “drunk swimmer past the bouys.” On arrival it was found that the victim was out of the water and okay. Lifeguards were off duty at the time.

Grants Available for Michigan City Teachers

(Michigan City, IN) - The Unity Foundation of La Porte is inviting Michigan City area teachers to apply for grants to make learning and teaching more fun and rewarding.

 

There are three grant programs that benefit Michigan City public and private educators. They range from $400-500 apiece.

 

More than 1,000 Michigan City teachers have benefitted from the Unity Foundation grants since the mid-90s.

 

The application deadline is September. All La Porte teachers can also apply for a “Power for Good” grant. Those grant applications are due July 22.

 

For more information, contact Lauren Varga with the Unity Foundation.

Child Porn Traced to Michigan City Man

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man was taken into custody by Indiana State Police for possession of child pornography.

 

On Wednesday, police served a search warrant at the home of 50-year-old Scott A. Dailey in the 2700 block of Wozniak Road.

 

The investigation began with a tip received from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children regarding activities on Dailey’s social media account.

 

Dailey was taken to La Porte County Jail and, according to court records, posted bond Friday following an initial hearing.

Indiana to Craft Abortion Law Soon

(Indianapolis, IN) - People are now wondering what Indiana's abortion law will look like in response to the U.S. Supreme Court allowing states to decide.

 

Hoosiers should find out soon.

 

Governor Eric Holcomb said the state legislature would take up the matter during a special session beginning July 6.

 

Holcomb didn't specify what he felt the state's abortion law should be crafted but said he is pro-life, and there's an opportunity now to protect the sanctity of life further, and "that's what we're going to do."

 

State Representative Jim Pressel of Rolling Prairie did not offer an opinion on what he wanted the law to contain.

 

"It's too early to speculate on what form any legislation may take, but I'm ready to go to work and look forward to having discussions with constituents and my fellow legislators about what this Supreme Court decision means for Indiana," Pressel said.

Top Democrat Feels Abortion Should Remain a Right

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Democratic Party Chairman Dr. Vidya Kora says he's not in favor of abortion personally but feels it should remain a choice.

 

The U.S. Supreme Court decided today to overturn Roe vs. Wade, a law enacted in 1973 that gave women the Constitutional right to an abortion.

 

Kora, who has a medical practice in Michigan City, said as a medical doctor, he feels abortion should be kept to a minimum. However, he feels women should have the choice given the various factors that go into such a decision, like one's faith and the health of the mother and unborn child.

 

"It's a decision that should be left to the individual, their families in consultation with their physicians and their faith. It's very private, and it's a very difficult decision some families have to make," Kora said.

Kora also said the decision is a case of government overreach.

 

"For the government to intrude into this when there was an established law that was there for 50 years, I don't think it was a good thing for the country. It is very divisive, and I'm frankly disappointed," he said.

Reports indicate that half of the American states could impose severe restrictions on abortion, limiting a woman's right to choose. Kora is concerned Indiana's abortion law will similarly be too restrictive because Republicans largely control the state. 

Pastor Agrees with Supreme Court Ruling

(La Porte, IN) - A local pastor agrees with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the 50-year-old ruling that gave women the Constitutional right to an abortion.

 

Dennis Meyer of Bethany Lutheran Church said it's up to the states under the governing rules of the country to decide certain matters like abortion.

 

"We live in a Federalist system, and that means the national government decides some things and states decide other things," Meyer said.

Meyer also said the ruling does not outlaw abortion. People will still have a right to exercise their choice in states that allow the procedure. Meyer also said he believes in the sanctity of life and that there are better options than abortion, such as adoption.

 

"I know there are a lot of families that I have worked with over the years that have had infertility issues that would love to be able to adopt a child," Meyer said.

Roe vs Wade Overturned

(WASHINGTON D.C.) - The U.S. Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling establishing the constitutional right to abortion. The decision this morning was 6 to 3.

 

It’s up to the states now to decide their own abortion laws. Reports indicate nearly half the states are expected to outlaw or severely restrict abortion. However, other states plan to maintain more liberal rules governing the termination of pregnancies. 

 

The conservative justices representing a majority on the bench ruled the U.S. Constitution does not refer to abortion. Therefore, no such right is constitutionally protected.

 

The three liberal justices blasted the ruling. They wrote in the dissent: “the majority would allow States to ban abortion from conception onward because it does not think forced childbirth at all implicates a woman’s rights to equality and freedom.”

Minors with THC Vaping Ingredients Probe

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte officials have been in touch with high-ranking authorities downstate about vape stores possibly selling to minors.

 

An Indiana Attorney General's Office representative was at this week's city council meeting.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody reported there had been complaints of vaping ingredients containing THC being sold to minors without asking for ID, and police recently went to at least one of the Vape stores to look into the complaints. 

 

"The state police are overwhelmed right now. They don't have time to look at it," Dermody said.

Dermody also asked if the Indiana Attorney General's Office could get involved to investigate. IAG spokesman John Cannon said his office could work with the Indiana Secretary of State's Office to verify if there's any truth to the claims. He explained that the ISSO has the authority to revoke a business's license in violation of the law.

 

Cannon said another benefit is the knowledge Indiana Attorney Todd Rokita would bring since he was once the Indiana Secretary of State.

 

"I'm sure we have someone of our 400 attorneys that can tell us which avenue to go through," Cannon said.

Dermody said a police officer's marijuana sensing device once went off numerous times in a school bathroom. THC is the active ingredient in marijuana.

Flag Man Recognized Again by City

(La Porte, IN) - Jim Roy has provided the flags In La Porte's downtown area this time of year for more than two decades.

 

Roy was thanked and then called up to say a few words by Mayor Tom Dermody during this week's La Porte City Council meeting. He then had his picture taken with Dermody, members of the city council, and other city officials.

 

"I do this to make everybody feel good. When you drive down the road, and if you don't feel good, then that's your problem. That's why I do it," Roy said.

Roy buys all the flags and hardware to hang them on light poles. The city installs the flags before the Fourth of July. He started doing it in response to the terrorist attacks on the nation in 2001.

 

One year, Roy spent $7,500 for 700 nylon flags along with poles and other hardware like brackets needed to hang them on light posts on both sides of the streets. But, he said he's willing to pay the price to show support for the nation and the freedoms veterans like his father helped achieve and defend.

 

Roy is the owner of The Floor Store on Boyd Boulevard. He once was given the keys to the city for his patriotic efforts. 

Absent Molester Grabbed in Tennessee

(La Porte, IN) - David Powers, II, didn’t show up for his child molesting trial in La Porte Circuit Court, but the trial was held anyway, and a jury of his peers found him guilty.

 

A few weeks later, the suspect was taken into custody in eastern Tennessee. Powers, 50, will be returned to La Porte County at some point soon to be sentenced. He’s currently being held in the Rhea County Jail between Chattanooga and Knoxville.

 

The guilty verdict was rendered in May, and a bench warrant for his arrest by Judge Tom Alevizos was issued.

 

La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd said Powers contacted the sheriff’s office on June 4 and, during a more-than-one-hour conversation with a jail officer, was arrested by authorities in Tennessee.

 

Boyd wasn’t sure why Powers contacted local authorities, but some fugitives turn themselves in to relieve the stress and paranoia caused by not knowing if police were about to grab them.

 

“Perhaps he was tired from looking over his shoulder,” Boyd said.

According to court documents, Powers molested the 12-year-old daughter of a woman he was living with outside La Porte.

 

Powers, who was most recently living near Portage, was last seen in the courtroom for a hearing about a week before the trial but never showed up to face the jury.

Sleeping But Still Charged with OWI

(La Porte County, IN) - He allegedly drank potentially lethal amounts of alcohol and fell asleep in a gas station parking lot behind the wheel.

 

57-year-old Ronald Lamparski is charged with operating while intoxicated. According to La Porte County Police, Lamparski was parked Sunday afternoon with his engine running at the Speedway station at U.S. 35 and U.S. 20. His Cadillac SUV was facing the wrong way at an exit.

 

Police said the officer kept knocking on the driver's side window until he woke up. Two coolers containing cans of Miller Lite and possibly other alcoholic beverages were found in the vehicle. 

 

The Florida man had a blood alcohol level close to five times the legal .08-percent limit. "Probable cause" based on Lamparski's driving was established when he revealed having two beers in Crown Point.

 

There were no other passengers in the vehicle, police said.   

Pioneer Land Ready for First Fair without Founder

(La Porte, IN) - The over 100 volunteers at Pioneer Land seem up to the task of making the popular 1800's style village come to life again without their leader during the upcoming La Porte County Fair.

 

Dick Reel, the driving force behind creating Pioneer Land and becoming a major attraction, passed away in February. He was 74.   

Dana Conboy, the new person in charge of what many people consider a magical place, said the challenge is daunting. The Wanatah woman is not backing away, though, because she promised Reel that she would be his successor.

 

Conboy, a volunteer at Pioneer Land for about the past ten years, said she accepted Reel's offer to carry on with his dream, thinking she'd have a couple of years to learn from him. But instead, she had to dive in when his passing came much sooner than expected.

 

“It was something I owed him because I gave him my word that I would be there for him. So, now, we’ll just get through it. It’ll be learning, but it’ll be fun,” Conboy said.

Conboy said all the volunteers committed to Pioneer Land succeeding for years had assisted her during a sometimes heavy-hearted transition.

 

She said the help has come from people involved in constructing the buildings down to volunteer workers in areas like the blacksmith shop, general store, one-room schoolhouse, and log cabin.

 

Long-time volunteers like Carl Schultz, Merle Miller, and Ron Schafer have also taken leadership roles.

 

Conboy said Reel's wife, Mary, also gave her the master plan for the village and all of the notes detailing the history of Pioneer Land taken by her late husband over the years.

 

“Everybody misses Dick, and that makes it kind of difficult, but it also makes it good for all of us to kind of go forward together,” Conboy said.

Reel realized his vision for Pioneer Land as a place where people and families come together in a more laid-back setting and have fun or talk. Toys and games made of wood and other old-fashioned materials are especially popular.  

 

So far, Miller said things have been more hectic than usual, from volunteers not realizing until recently everything that needs completing to keeping the village strong.

 

“Dick, of course, did an awful lot of stuff out at Pioneer Land. Stuff that people didn’t know he did. We really counted on him for a lot of things,” Miller said.

Pioneer Land was open as usual during the spring for annual tours by local school children. The village is now being prepared to operate as always during the fair.

 

Miller said the work is getting accomplished, though, because of the love and determination in their hearts for Pioneer Land. He said not one volunteer has ever been paid since Pioneer Land was established in 1995 with the log cabin.

 

The log cabin and 13 other buildings that came later were paid for entirely with donations of money and labor, along with dollars from fundraisers. Charitable contributions and fundraisers also pay for ongoing maintenance. No admission has ever been charged.

 

“That’s the coolest thing about Pioneer Land. We’ve done it all with volunteers and these hands,” Miller said.

After the fair, the focus will be on school tours during the fall and preparing Pioneer Land for the annual Christmas open house. Several thousand people usually come during the first weekend of December.

 

Many first-time visitors have made going there a tradition, including a woman taken to the hospital to deliver her baby after she began having labor pains during a holiday visit to the grounds.

 

“Now, she brings that baby back every year at Christmas,” Conboy said.

Dick Reel was also a retired Purdue Extension educator who spent many years working with youth in the 4-H program.

 

Conboy became a volunteer at Pioneer Land after Reel and another volunteer, Pete Jensen, began teaching her son about woodworking when he was still in grade school. Their connection to Reel and his wife blossomed into a friendship.

 

“Since we’ve lost him, a lot of people have come out and said he did this for me. He made this difference in my life. It’s a legacy that he left behind that I’m just going to do my best to honor,” Conboy said.

The LaPorte County Fair runs from July 9-16. The annual Ham and Bean dinner run by volunteers serving hundreds of meals on the grounds to raise money for Pioneer Land is scheduled for July 10. Volunteers will also have their annual fundraising auction on the fair's last day.

 

"In my mind, it's just a matter of carrying on who he was and what he wanted Pioneer Land to be," Conboy said.

Victim in Fatal Dump Truck Crash Identified

(La Porte County, IN) - A Michigan City woman was killed yesterday in a head-on collision with a dump truck. The victim is identified as 32-year-old Ricquelle Wren.

 

La Porte County Police said Wren veered over the center line in her car on State Road 39 near County Road 400 South and struck the oncoming dump truck head-on.

 

The driver of the dump truck, 68-year-old Mark Chizum of Mishawaka, was taken to a hospital with an upper-body injury.

 

Both lanes of State Road 39 were closed for about four hours after the crash, just before 10 a.m.

 

Whether alcohol or drugs had anything to do with the crash is pending the results of a toxicology test.

Michigan City Gearing Up for Independence Day

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City is getting ready to host three Independence Day celebrations.  

 

The Kiddie Parade will return to the Uptown Arts District on Saturday from 11 AM to 1 PM. According to the mayor’s office, this year’s Kiddie Parade theme is “Red, White, Blue & You” and will feature youth in the community showing their civic pride.

 

The annual Patriotic Parade scheduled for July 2nd at 11 AM will be on Franklin Street from 10th Street to Ames Field. The parade will feature floats, bands, and a wide variety of local organizations showing pride and patriotism. “United We Stand!” is the theme of this year’s city parade.

 

The festivities will end on July 4th with fireworks at Washington Park.

Plea for Drivers to Pay Attention

(La Porte, IN) - Drivers are urged to pay attention after a few close calls with La Porte street maintenance crews.

 

Code Enforcement Director Jeff Batchelor said the crews were out early Monday morning striping streets in the downtown area. The work occurred well before sunrise when drivers were not out in large numbers.   

 

However, Batchelor said three vehicles that morning nearly hit a blinking arrow sign marking the work zone and crew members.

 

“That’s totally unacceptable. It’s just people not paying attention to what’s going around on them. Please take your time,” Batchelor said.

Batchelor also revealed water department workers in a trench below the ground surface have also had vehicles coming within too close of a distance to them.

 

“There’s reasons why there’s signs up. Please follow them because it’s for everybody’s safety,” Batchelor said.

Mayor Tom Dermody asked drivers to stay off their cell phones while operating their vehicles. “We got kids out. It’s summertime,” he said.

Highway Closed by Fatal Dump Truck Collision

(La Porte County, IN) - A stretch of state highway is closed following a fatal collision between a dump truck and passenger vehicle late this morning outside La Porte. 

 

The crash occurred on Indiana 39 near 400 South. Both lanes of the two-lane highway are closed from Joliet Road to 400 South.

 

La Porte County Police Captain Derek Allen said the highway would be closed for an extended period to allow officers to safely investigate the crash and the accident scene to be cleaned up.

 

"We're asking travelers to take an alternate route," Allen said. 

 

The dump truck was off the road in a wooded area while investigators combed the accident scene. La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson said the victim's name would be released once they determined the identity and notified next of kin about the death. 

 

La Porte County Police are releasing no further specifics about the collision because of the ongoing investigation. However, HTNN will provide more details as they're made available.

Evading Police Attempt Fails

(La Porte, IN) - A 20-year-old man caught speeding stepped on the gas pedal even further to try and evade a La Porte County Police officer. Instead of outrunning the police, he wound up in jail.

 

Police said the suspect was clocked at 75 miles per hour on U.S. 35 in the Kingsford Heights area and then tried losing the officer. The officer was up to 118 miles per hour but still gaining no ground on the southbound Indy 500-like driver. After a few miles, the officer finally pulled the car over.

 

Maung Aye told officers he was trying to get back home in Ft. Wayne and acted like he didn’t do anything wrong. Aye was arrested for resisting law enforcement and reckless driving.

Alcohol Cited as Factor in Train Collision

(La Porte, IN) - A woman drove into a train between Westville and Wanatah after consuming a lot of alcohol. She is now charged with operating while intoxicated by the LaPorte County Police. 

 

31-year-old Mallory Yzaguirre apparently drove around a car waiting for the train to pass, then crashed into the train at the Canadian National Railroad crossing on U.S. 421 at 860 South.

 

Yzaguirre explained to the police that she was traveling from her home in Bloomington to visit her parents in Chesterton. Yzaguirre claimed to have had one beer, but her alleged blood alcohol level was over three times the .08-percent legal limit.

 

Fortunately, the woman was not injured.

New Leadership for Boat Race Events Downtown

(Michigan City, IN) - Officials involved with the 2022 Great Lakes Grand Prix are announcing what they described as some exciting changes in this year's schedule.

 

The LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau is taking over the downtown Michigan City schedule and ensuring that the events associated with the Boat Parade and Block Party go on as scheduled. 

 

"We are sorry to lose the Michigan City Mainstreet Association as a partner. They did a fantastic job running the Taste, tying it in with our Boat Parade and Block Party," said LPCCVB Chief Executive Officer Jack Arnett.

 

The new schedule will include a Friday night "Shop Sip Support" event to support local merchants.

 

"This event will allow us to showcase our downtown in a new and exciting way," Arnett said.

 

In addition, Arnett said, "We will also be hosting a Race Team Welcome Party in Washington Park. The event will include live entertainment, food, and beverages. This will be open to the public and give everyone a great opportunity to get up close and mingle with the race teams."

 

"Our Saturday Boat Parade and Block Party will still include food provided by our local food vendors and live entertainment and alcohol vendors."

 

Arnett said adding the two Friday night events and keeping tradition with the Parade and Block Party will continue to make Michigan City the number one destination for Offshore Racing in North America.

 

"We are planning for a huge turnout, and as always, we will be offering Michigan City's finest food and drink options available," he said.

 

Michigan City Mayor Duane Parry seemed very pleased with the changes resulting from the new leadership of the downtown events.

 

"We are so excited to see what the Great Lakes Grand Prix does with the Boat Parade and Block Party," Parry said. "Jack Arnett and his team have done an amazing job bringing the boat race to the level it is, and we are confident that they will do the same with the Block Party. We are excited to work with the team to make this event bigger and better than ever!" 

 

For a full schedule of events, go to www.greatlakesgrandprix.com.

La Porte a Destination for Kayaking

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte has become a full-service destination for kayakers.

           

A self-serve kayak rental station that opens daily from sunrise to sunset was recently installed near the new kayak launch at Stone Lake. La Porte Park Department Superintendent Mark Schreiber said the station should be operating by tomorrow.

 

Kayak owners also have the option now of keeping their watercraft during the season inside new kayak storage lockers close to the water's edge. The latest offerings are part of the ongoing strategy to draw more residents and visitors to the city's lakes and parks.

 

"We're excited to be able to get more people out there," Schreiber said.

The self-serve rental facility contains eight kayaks available for 20 dollars per hour.

 

Schreiber said people must go to rent.fun or download the mobile app from the website to rent a kayak.

 

Credit card information must also be provided, and the code assigned to them entered to unlock the storage unit containing the kayak. The credit card will be automatically charged based on the time the kayak was out until placed back into its storage locker.

 

The unit also keeps track of the time automatically. A kayak owner using a storage locker is charged $500 for the season.

 

Schreiber said the four storage lockers close to the kayak launch are already reserved for the year. However, reservations are being accepted for the 12 additional storage lockers to be installed within the next few weeks.

           

"It makes it easier for them to be able to get their kayak out, get their kayak into the accessible launch and be able to enjoy the lake," Schreiber said.

Schreiber said the new amenities should be well received since kayaking on Stone Lake has increased substantially in recent years.

 

Stone Lake, also a popular fishing spot, is governed by an idling speed limit, so kayakers don't have to worry about water churned up by speed boats' wakes.

 

Kayakers can also venture into the calm waters of a several hundred-foot-long natural channel leading from Stone Lake to the much larger Pine Lake, used heavily by fast-moving pleasure boats.

 

Eventually, the city wants to connect the two major lakes to other nearby smaller bodies of water for kayakers wishing to be even more adventurous.

 

For more information, contact the LaPorte Park and Recreation Office at (219) 326-9600.

Traffic Moving Again Following Mower Crash on I-94

(Porter County, IN) - Traffic is moving again on all lanes of Interstate 94 between Michigan City and Chesterton. The three westbound lanes were closed at about 7 a.m. due to an accident east of State Road 49.

 

Indiana Department of Transportation spokesperson Cassy Bajek said it took about two hours to get the westbound lanes partially reopened. Bajek said westbound traffic was backed up to U.S. 421, where drivers were diverted to use alternate travel routes around the crash site.

 

“It was a pretty significant backup. There were a lot of vehicles, obviously, that were stuck in the traffic and had to wait until we were able to get some lanes open,” Bajek said.

Bajek said all westbound were reopened just before 11 a.m.

 

According to police, a lawnmower cutting grass along the edge of the interstate did a U-turn on the highway and was struck by a van. The operator of the tractor pulling the mower was airlifted to a hospital. The driver of the van was not seriously hurt.

Ongoing Search for Man in Chase

(La Porte County, IN) - Police are still looking for a driver who got away near Michigan City after a more than 20-mile high-speed chase.

 

According to Indiana State Police, the Friday afternoon chase on the Indiana Toll Road began in St. Joseph County after the driver was clocked at 90 miles per hour.

 

Trooper Paul Arnold said he made the traffic stop, but after pulling onto the shoulder, the driver soon fled at speeds topping 110 miles per hour. The pursuit ended near the Johnson Road overpass after a tire on the fleeing vehicle was flattened with stop sticks by a La Porte County Sheriff’s Deputy.

 

After getting out of the vehicle, Arnold said the driver jumped over a barbed-wire fence and managed to get away. Several officers formed a perimeter around the area where the suspect was last seen to try and find him. A K-9 dog was also used to try and track the suspect, who was not seen again.

 

A female passenger in the vehicle, Jasmine Powell, also ran toward the fence but decided not to try and jump over it. She was arrested for possession of marijuana and held on several outstanding warrants out of Illinois for identity theft.

 

Arnold said the driver, whose name was not released, also had outstanding warrants out of Illinois for similar crimes.

Holiday Push for Juneteenth Locally

(La Porte County, IN) - There’s a push to have Juneteenth recognized as a federal holiday in La Porte County.

 

Currently, La Porte County government employees do not get a day off recognizing the official end of slavery in the U.S.

 

La Porte County Republican Party Chairman Allen Stevens said Juneteenth should be recognized locally like other federal holidays. He said it’s essential to do so not just for African Americans but all county residents.

 

Stevens said Juneteenth falling on June 19 was a declaration of independence for African Americans, much like July 4 marks the country’s independence from England following the Revolutionary War.

 

“It’s a very important day not just for the 11-percent of La Porte County that’s African American but really all 110,000 of us as residents of La Porte County to recognize the importance of African American independence on Juneteenth,” Stevens said.

La Porte County Commissioner Joe Haney says he will propose that Juneteenth be recognized as a holiday by the county government at the beginning of next year.

 

Several African American residents from Michigan City asked the county commissioners last week for Juneteenth to be recognized as a holiday by the county government. They were told their request came too late, though, because of June 19 being just a few days away and were advised to make their request much sooner next year.

Jimmy Buffett Tribute Coming to La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Another summer event in downtown La Porte should have a tropical feel and attract many Parrotheads.

 

A Jimmy Buffett tribute band called South of Disorder is on the calendar. The night's theme will be "Cheeseburger in Paradise," the name of one of the biggest hit songs from Buffett during his long career.

 

Brett Binversie, the Special Events Coordinator for the city, said the plan is to have food vendors compete for the best cheeseburger at the event.

 

"We're going to have a burger cook-off," Binversie said.

 

The band, expected to play other Buffett favorites like Margaritaville, will play on an outdoor stage at State and Monroe streets. The concert scheduled for August 19 is part of the Friday Night Live series featuring a special event on the third Friday of each summer month.

 

Parrotheads is the name for Buffett fans, whose songs often have a tropical theme and sound to the music.

Home after Special Time with Star Pitcher

(Wanatah, IN) - A LaPorte County family returned with special memories after convoying to Wrigley Field in Chicago to watch a close relative pitch and visit him after last week's game.

 

Sean Manaea, who grew up in Wanatah, pitches for the San Diego Padres after several seasons with the Oakland A's

 

The Padres beat Cubs 12-5. Manaea allowing five runs in four innings, was not credited with the win.

 

Manaea's cousin, Marcus Walker, didn't seem to mind the subpar performance of a man he knew was destined for something special after watching him throw for the first time while growing up. He lived within a short walk of the house Manaea was raised.

 

"When I watched my cousin throw a baseball, it was like, Dude. You have a gift," Walker said.

 

Walker said he and 20 other family members and friends watched the June 14 game from the first row behind home plate and visited with Manaea outside the clubhouse after the game. The entire group and Manaea then walked across the street from the ballpark and had dinner together.

 

"It was pretty exciting to see Sean. After the game, he goes holy, moly, there's a lot of you guys here," Walker said.

Manaea's mother, Opal, went to the game, but Walker said his father, Faaloloi, feeling under the weather, stayed home.

 

Mr. Manaea relocated from American Samoa to Hawaii, served in the Vietnam War then landed in Wanatah after being stationed in Indiana. He became a steel worker along Lake Michigan's shores after completing his military service. Mrs. Manaea was a factory worker.

 

Manaea was a South Central High School star baseball player before transferring his senior year to Andrean High School in Merrillville to pitch against stronger competition.

 

Walker said Sean was always much better than everyone else in baseball as a youth. His uncanny ability to throw hard with accuracy was not overlooked by anyone who watched him play. Manaea went on to pitch at Indiana State University, where he was inducted into that school's sports Hall of Fame last year.

 

Walker, a Noble Township Volunteer Fire Department member, said Manaea was back home at Christmas and remains down to earth. He's also paid several visits to his former high school about 10 miles south of LaPorte since making it to the major leagues seven seasons ago.

 

Manaea has a career 53-44 record and ERA of 3.83.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Jim Peters

(LAPORTE, IN) - Jim Peters of JimPetersPreps.com joined SOUND OFF today to talk about local sports. In addition to covering local sports in Northwest Indiana for three decades, Jim is a winner of the 2016 Griddy's Media Award, the 2017 Corky Lamm Indiana Sports Writer of the Year Award, and the 2019 Indiana Basketball Coaches Association Virgil Sweet Award. 

 

The conversation included LaPorte, Westville, New Prairie, Michigan City, and South Central sports.

 

Listen to the full episode here:

 

Governor Here for Double Track Ceremony

(Michigan City, IN) - Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb helped drive spikes into rail lines expected to bring significant economic growth to Michigan City by noticeably reducing commute times by train to and from Chicago.

 

Holcomb, along with other elected officials and dignitaries, hit the spikes with sledgehammers during a ceremony at the former South Shore Railroad commuter line train station on 11th Street just east of Franklin Street.

 

“It’s a reality now. It’s just not a blueprint or a lofty goal,” Governor Holcomb said.

The current single line put in the ground over a century ago is being replaced with two rail lines from Michigan City to Gary.

 

What’s now a 90-minute or longer trip to Chicago from Michigan City will take about one hour once construction is completed next year. Nearly 45 minutes will be taken off a one-way trip to Chicago from South Bend.

 

Several intersections from Michigan Boulevard to Sheridan Avenue near Indiana State Prison are closed for laying new rail lines that started being put in the ground several weeks ago.

 

“We are now in full construction mode,” said Jim Arnold, a former Indiana State Senator from LaPorte and member of the board governing the commuter service.

 

Quicker travel is projected to generate enough economic growth from new visitors and residents from Chicago to make the project worth the over $600 million price tag funded primarily by federal money. The state and local municipalities along the line are also contributing dollars.

 

“This is a game-changer,” said LaPorte County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Jack Arnett.

 

The long sought-after project is already credited with attracting three high-rise residential developments scheduled to begin going up on the city’s north side later this year.

 

Former Michigan City Mayor and current LaPorte County Commissioner Sheila Matias said the second set of tracks had been discussed and pursued since the 1980s.

 

She said previous attempts to secure dollars from the nation’s capital to pay for the work failed but local, state, and federal officials came together more aggressively, perhaps, this time to make it happen.

 

Matias said the additional money projected to be generated from tourism would help a local economy with a good-sized manufacturing base. She said the upgrades would also send a positive message about LaPorte County, which is ripe for catching up with Porter and St. Joseph counties regarding average household income and development.

 

“I want to be clear that we’re not just saying the double track is all about tourism. It’s about making sure our community is contemporary. That’s it progressive and developing in a smart and sustainable fashion,” Matias said.

Airport Shuttle Buses Return to Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - There is a round-trip, seven-day-a-week shuttle bus service again in Michigan City to and from O’Hare Airport in Chicago.  

 

Nearly a month ago, Express Air Coach took over the route abandoned by Coach USA at the end of 2019.

 

Buses pick up riders at Marquette Mall in front of the La Porte County Convention and Visitors Bureau three times a day. Return trips are also offered three times a day at the same location.

 

Express Air Coach Owner Paul Davis said the number of passengers is gradually increasing as more people become aware that the airport shuttle bus service has been reestablished.

 

A round trip to O’Hare Airport from Michigan City is about $90. The company is also offering pick-up and return services in Portage and Hammond.

 

“We’re really excited to be in those markets,” Davis said.

Davis said more pick-up and return times for Michigan City are planned if demand reaches a certain level. Establishing service to and from Midway Airport in Chicago is also being explored.

 

“We know people are interested in that,” Davis said.

 

Express Air Coach has provided round-trip service to O’Hare Airport from Purdue University at West Lafayette for nearly 18 years. Davis said demand from the campus is driven primarily by international students, faculty, and other staff members traveling to and from other countries.

 

“We have a lot of experience in the airport business, so we felt it was time to expand in the Northwest Indiana area,” Davis said.

Express Air Coach also provides round-trip service for basketball and other sports teams at Purdue to Big Ten conference games at Northwestern University in Chicago and other schools as far west as Nebraska and the east coach.

 

The company also offers charter services for private groups.

 

“We get involved in a lot of different aspects of ground travel,” Davis said.

Death in Jail Under Investigation

(La Porte, IN) - A death in the La Porte County Jail is under investigation.

 

According to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, 65-year-old Curtis Heaphy was found unresponsive in his cell yesterday during a routine check. Efforts to resuscitate the man began immediately, and Heaphy was taken to Northwest Health, where he was pronounced dead.

 

Heaphy was arrested Thursday afternoon in rural Springfield Township for intimidation and invasion of privacy.

 

“The investigation is ongoing, and no further information is being released at this time,” police said.

A Bike Ride For Judah's Birthday

(La Porte, IN) - Over the weekend there was a birthday bike ride, of sorts, in memory of Judah Morgan.

 

Friday would have been little Judah’s fifth birthday. Sadly, he didn’t live to celebrate it. Last October Judah’s battered body was found in the Union Township home of his biological parents. Mary Yoder and Alan Morgan now stand accused of torturing and beating him to death following his return to their custody from foster care.

 

Jenna Hullett and her husband, who raised Judah since he was four months old, are left to wonder what might have been and advocate for change.

 

On Saturday family and friends celebrated Judah’s birthday with a motorcycle ride and a party at the La Porte County Fairgrounds. Over twenty bikers came out, displaying “Judah’s Army” flags on the backs of their motorcycles. Many of the riders were from the Templar Order Motorcycle Club, as well as Sanctified Souls and Devoted Sons.

 

Hullett appreciated the support. “I’m happy that people did show up and show support,” she said following the event. “It means a lot to us and, in light of Judah’s murder, it does give us hope in humanity that people are still caring enough to support us in our cause.”

 

State Representative Jim Pressel was also at the party. He and State Senator Mike Bohacek have been helping the Hulletts press for legislative change. In March, Judah’s Law was passed downstate and goes into effect July 1.  The law gives unlicensed caregivers, often family members in foster situations like Judah’s, more input regarding a child’s best interests.

 

“My husband always called Judah a superhero,” Hullett said, “and now in death he is a hero for other children like him, and that’s our main goal, and hopefully prevent it from happening again.”

 

Proceeds from the motorcycle ride go to the Justice for Judah Foundation to help fund further efforts to reform the legal system for foster kids like Judah.

 

On Saturday the family made sure to include all the birthday party activities that Judah would have wanted. Children who attended got to enjoy a bounce house, face painting, games, and birthday cake. “I think he would have loved it, Hullett said. “I think we covered everything that Judah would have wanted—except candy. We forgot candy."

 

But the cool motorcycles more than made up for that.

New Prairie Principal Now a Candidate for La Porte School Board

(La Porte, IN) - A current New Prairie school principal is running for a spot on La Porte’s school board.

 

Justin Holmquest announced his candidacy last week. Holmquest has been the middle school principal at New Prairie for four years, however, his roots are in the La Porte district.

 

Holmquest says he has lived in La Porte most of his life. He attended Handley Elementary, Kesling Middle School, and graduated from LPHS in 2003. His three kids attend La Porte schools, and his wife teaches at one. After 14 years in public education, including one year teaching at Kesling Middle School, Holmquest says he wants to give back to his hometown community through school board leadership.

 

In a statement, Holmquest said he hopes to apply data and research-based decision making as a member of the school board.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Tim Werner

(LAPORTE, INDIANA) - On this episode of the SOUND OFF Radio Show, LaPorte Water Superintendent Tim Werner discusses the state of water infrastructure in the city and what is happening with the 39 North Conservancy district agreement. 

 

Listen to the full episode here: 

 

Public Meeting for Conservancy District

(La Porte, IN) - A public meeting is scheduled regarding the water situation in the 39 North Conservancy District.

 

Residents and businesses within the district can get information and have their questions answered. At issue is the delivery of water to properties along a corridor of State Road 39 between Severs Road and U.S. 20. The previous contract with the City of La Porte has expired, and negotiations are underway to work out a new arrangement.

 

The meeting will take place Tuesday, June 21at the IBEW 531 Union Hall on N. State Road 39 in La Porte.

 

The hall only seats 60 people, so the meeting will also be streamed via Zoom. It beings at 6:00 p.m.

 

You can connect to the Zoom meeting at

 https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81631060475?pwd=cUNoWmRDellBNS82QVdTM1ZHQjN5UT09 

The Meeting ID is 816 3106 0475. The Passcode is 700826.

 

If there are technical difficulties with the internet hook-up, please call 219-362-3390.

Drones to be Part of Fireworks Show

(La Porte, IN) - An upcoming La Porte area fireworks and drone show will be like something from outer space.

 

The fireworks will be part of the annual Red Wine and Brew festivities along Johnson Road near 500 West.

 

The tasting event and concert by country music legends Aaron Tippin, Sammy Kershaw, and Collin Raye is scheduled for Friday. More live music, a cash bar, and a fireworks/drone show will be part of the festivities on July 2.

 

“There will be 100 drones that go up into the sky and make lighted images. Flags, eagles, and all of the patriotic stuff that you can imagine,” said Carrie Garwood of Bethany Lutheran Church, hosting the two-day event.

 

To her knowledge, Garwood said it would be the first-ever drone show in La Porte County. For pricing and other information, go to redwineandbrewlaporte.com.

Kayak Owners Have Lake Storage Now

(La Porte, IN) - People are storing kayaks now at Stone Lake in La Porte. Four rental lockers were installed Wednesday, a short distance from Cummings Lodge.


Park Department Superintendent Mark Schreiber said 12 more kayak storage lockers will be set out within the next “three to four weeks, I assume.”

 

“We were hopeful of having the lockers in last year but with some of the labor and materials shortages were only able to get them starting this year,” Schreiber said.

Schreiber said each of the four lockers up now are reserved already for the season. In addition, the lockers are close to the new kayak launch.

 

“It makes it easy for them to be able to get their kayak out and to enjoy the lake,” Schreiber said.

Schreiber said renting a kayak storage locker costs $500 a year. Arrangements for renting a kayak storage locker can be made by calling the La Porte Park Department Office at (219) 326-9600.

Kayak Rental Soon in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Thanks to a partnership between the LaPorte Park Foundation and the Parks Department, people should be able to rent a kayak at Stone Lake in La Porte next week.

 

Park Department Superintendent Mark Schreiber said eight kayaks would be available to rent at 20 dollars per hour.

 

“We’re excited to get more people out on the lake,” Schreiber said.

People at the self-serve rental facility must go to rent.fun or download the mobile app to rent a kayak and make payment with a credit card. The webpage will track the time the kayak is out and calculate the bill on when the kayak was taken out and returned.

 

Schreiber said storage lockers for the kayak rentals should be installed this weekend.

 

People must also go to the website to receive a code and use the code to open the locker to receive their kayak rental. They can also go to the website to download the app.

 

“Our ultimate goal is to get more people living an active lifestyle. We’re excited to be able to get more people out there,” Schreiber said.

Kayak rental will be open from sunrise to sundown. 

Sheriff Hires New Deputies

(La Porte, IN) - Three La Porte County Sheriff’s deputies have been hired.

 

Deputy Justin D. Gorny, 32, graduated from New Prairie High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana State University in Criminal Justice and Criminology. 

 

Deputy Julian A. Sanchez, 28, is a native of Chicago. He attended SUM Bible College and Theological Seminary in El Dorado Hills, California, where he studied Pastoral Ministry. 

 

Deputy Matthew M. Disbrow, 27, is a New Prairie High School graduate. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard until his honorable discharge in 2020.

 

Deputy Gorny will begin the agency’s Field Training Program in the coming days. Additionally, Deputies Sanchez and Disbrow will be attending a Basic Recruit School at the Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy that is scheduled to begin in August. 

 

“Congratulations to Deputies Gorny, Sanchez, and Disbrow. We are excited about their additions and look forward to them making a positive impact across La Porte County for many years to come,” said La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd.    

More New Life for Senior Center

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte Park and Recreation Department recently received a grant from the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte to fund operations at the Activity Center for Older Adults.

 

The facility in downtown La Porte provides services and programs for our City’s senior population.

 

“La Porte Activity Center is much more than a social space or a place to play cards,” said Maria Fruth, President and CEO of the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte. “It connects older adults to vital community services that can help them stay healthy and independent. The Center offers activities to keep seniors active, provide volunteer opportunities and health education. HFL is proud to support the operations of the Senior Center and hopes the Center continues to grow in numbers of members and programming to offer to our senior population.” 

The ACOA was opened nearly 30 years ago by Swanson Center. In 2021, the City and Swanson Center agreed to end the lease on the building, the former fire station at 910 State Street. With that transition, the Park Department became involved in finding short- and long-term solutions to senior programming, including a plan to keep the ACOA viable.

 

Full operations of the ACOA were turned over to the Park Department in April, and the process of forming a strategic planning committee is underway. The Park Department has established the immediate goal of creating a short-term solution to providing quality programming and a vibrant activity center for the senior population of the LaPorte community.

 

The grants allow the senior center to remain in the facility for at least 18 months. By extending the ACOA in its current location, those currently using the center can be served while beginning the planning for a successful future.

 

“As a community and society, we have an obligation to care for and create the best possible quality of life for our senior population,” Park Superintendent Mark Schreiber said. “Over a third of our population is over the age of 55. Ultimately, we would like to see a new senior center opened to best service those residents.”

Senior centers around the country offer various programs and services, including meal and nutrition programs, information and assistance, health, fitness, and wellness programs; transportation services; public benefits counseling; employment assistance, and volunteer and civic engagement opportunities.

 

“Our department has provided quality programming for decades, with a mission to dedicate ourselves to preserve and manage our natural, cultural and recreational resources and to provide positive opportunities which meet the needs of our residents,” Schreiber said. “Our offerings and amenities must adapt to the changing demands of our community and society. We are committed to either bridging or taking the long-term ownership of the important task of providing better quality of life for our seniors.”

This grant is to extend the ACOA through December 31, 2023.

 

Any businesses, non-profit organizations, or individuals wanting to assist with programming for seniors can contact Recreation Director Pam Carroll at 219-326-9600 or pcarroll@cityoflaportein.gov.

Farms to be Featured at Fair

(Indianapolis, IN) - Two area farms will be featured during this year's Indiana State Fair.

 

Dutch Valley Growers in La Crosse and Goin's Blueberry Lane in Starke County are among 18 farm operations selected for the honor. Sixteen other farms were also chosen for this year's Featured Farmers program in its 7th year.

 

The program is designed to put a face on Hoosier agriculture by connecting consumers with fellow Hoosiers growing the food they eat. Featured farmers interact with fairgoers about things like how they grow their crops. 

 

"Our Featured Farmers program connects fairgoers to Hoosier farmers daily during the State Fair with opportunities to learn more about where their food comes from," said Cindy Hoye, executive director, Indiana State Fair Commission. "These farmers have incredible stories to tell, and we are proud to honor and celebrate them."

 

Dutch Valley Growers raises tomatoes for Red Gold along with onion sets, shallots, and garlic for sale to customers at farm stores and garden centers at major retailers nationwide. The farm also raises seed corn and feed corn, along with soybeans. Most of their acreage is in the LaCrosse area, while the rest is in Porter County. 

Hope for Blocked Crossings Solution

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte city officials met with members of the railroad and federal authorities this week on blocked crossings.

 

Officials from Elkhart and Goshen were also there because their crossings are being blocked by train cars too often for long periods.

 

La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody said indications were given that brings the hope of solving that problem at some point. One reason for his optimism is the Norfolk Southern Railroad asked for a list of priority crossings to keep open.

 

“We will be putting together a letter to send to them on what we believe are priority crossings, and that will be the next step. We will keep the dialogue going,” Dermody said.

Dermody said La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder and Police Chief Paul Brettin were among the other officials there, illustrating why crossings blocked for several hours and even days at a time can endanger residents from the time it takes to reach a fire or hospital.

 

Dermody said the railroad explained the trains have to stop whenever crew members reach their daily limit on hours operating a train. He said crews should stop the trains before reaching the crossings when they know they’re approaching their work limit.

Boat Parade a Possible Victim of Inflation

(Michigan City, IN) - The high fuel cost could be a factor in an upcoming boat parade in Michigan City being canceled.

 

The Venetian Night Boat Parade scheduled for June 25 was canceled because there weren’t enough boat owners willing to participate, said Michigan City Special Events Director Terry Greetham.

 

“I believe that the current cost of fuel and the unknowns of a first-time event caused the lack of participation,” Greetham said.

 

The Venetian Night Boat Parade was part of the city’s Fourth of July festivities spread over two weeks.

 

Greetham said the other events, such as the Patriotic Parade scheduled for July 2 and the Fireworks Spectacular at the lakefront on July 4, are still scheduled. He expressed a commitment to have Venetian Night at some point in the future.

 

“We will have Venetian Night down the road, and I truly believe it will become an annual event that displays Michigan City as a vibrant lakefront community,” Greetham said.

Traffic Moving Following Semi Fire

(La Porte County, IN) - Travel is back to normal on the Indiana Toll Road after a semi-truck caught fire at about 4:30 this morning just west of Michigan City.

 

Upon arrival, Coolspring Township Fire Chief Mick Pawlik said the truck was on the shoulder of the westbound lanes and engulfed in flames. Two people in the cab got out before fire consumed the tractor and trailer, which was empty.

 

Pawlik said the diesel fuel tanks were full and allowed to burn so none of the fuel would leak onto the ground.

 

“We kept them under control and let it burn off so we didn’t have a Haz-Mat situation out there,” Pawlik said.

Pawlik said the fire would have been much more challenging had cargo been in the trailer.

 

Westbound traffic started moving again before six o’clock this morning. The cause is unknown, but semi-fires are often caused by brakes locking up and becoming hot enough from the friction to start a fire.

Farmers Outlook Sours from Inflation

(West Lafayette, IN) -  The Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer dropped to its lowest level since April 2020, down 22 points in May to a reading of 99.

 

Agricultural producers' perceptions regarding current conditions on their farms, as well as their future expectations, both weakened this month. The Index of Current Conditions dipped 26 points to a reading of 94, and the Index of Future Expectations fell 21 points to 101. The Ag Economy Barometer is calculated monthly from 400 U.S. agricultural producers' responses to a telephone survey. This month's survey was conducted between May 16-20.

 

Despite solid commodity prices, this month's weakness in producers' sentiment appears to be driven by the rapid rise in production costs and uncertainty about where input prices are headed. That combination is leaving producers very concerned about their farms' financial performance.


The Farm Financial Performance Index declined 14 points to 81 in May. The percentage of producers who expect their farm's financial performance to worsen in 2022 compared to last year rose from 29% in April to 38% in May. Over the previous 13 months, the Farm Financial Performance Index has fallen 41% below its life of survey high of 138 set in April 2021.


The Farm Capital Investment Index drifted to an all-time low in May and is down 30 points from this same time last year. In the May survey, only 13% of respondents said this is a good time to make large investments in their operation, while 78% said they viewed it as a bad time to invest in things like machinery and buildings.

 

Half of the producers in this month's survey said their machinery purchase plans were impacted by low farm machinery inventory levels, up from 41% in the April survey, suggesting that supply chain issues are at least partly responsible for the ongoing weakness in the capital investment index.


Higher input costs remain a top concern for producers, with 44% surveyed choosing it as the most significant concern facing their farming operation in the coming year. Additionally, 57% of producers said they expect a 30% or more rise in prices paid for farm inputs in 2022 compared to prices paid last year.

 

The May survey also asked producers about their expectations for input costs in 2023 compared to 2022, with nearly 39% of producers indicating they expect an additional cost increase of 10% or more in the coming year.

Alcohol Related Arrest in Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - A motor vehicle collision outside La Porte resulted in one of the drivers being arrested for being impaired.

 

Rolando Rosales, 38, veered the center line and sideswiped an oncoming vehicle on Johnson Road near 500 West, according to La Porte County Police. The other driver, Jeremy Smith, 30, of La Porte, was tended to by paramedics and taken to the hospital by his wife after complaining of pain in his arm and back.

 

Rosales of Michigan City was not injured in the crash, which occurred at about 9:30 p.m. on Sunday. Police said Rosales admitted to drinking ten beers before the collision. His alleged blood alcohol level was .207-percent.

Vest Donated for Police K-9 Dog

(La Porte, IN) - A local church has given a police K-9 dog a bulletproof vest. The Presbyterian Church of La Porte donated to the La Porte County Sheriff's Office. The vest is bullet and knife proof.

 

K-9 Coordinator Dallas Smythe said vests are put on K-9 dogs only in more dangerous situations.

 

"If we're going to a high-risk call, a shooting call or possible disturbance with somebody possibly with a weapon or something of that nature, the officer would probably from his that vest on his K-9 as arriving or prior to arriving," Smythe said.

 

Smythe said the K-9 dog receiving the vest joined the department recently and had gone without one since placed into service. Now, all four K-9s at the sheriff's office have a vest.

Charges in Illegal Shopping Spree

(La Porte, IN) - She allegedly went on a huge shopping spree and walked out without paying. The Westville area woman is paying now with time behind bars.

 

Jessica Hall, 33, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Level 6 felony theft and Class A misdemeanor criminal trespass.

 

According to court documents, on June 9, Hall had a shopping cart full of merchandise at Walmart in La Porte. She worked with an unidentified woman scanning the items at a self-checkout, bagging the inventory, then placing the items back in the shopping buggy.

 

Police said Hall used a debit card, but the transaction did not go through. Instead, she and the woman allegedly walked out of the store with more than 800 dollars in groceries and clothing. The items included ribs, barbecue sauce, tank tops, DVD movies, ice cream, Pepsi, and a couple of wall chargers.

 

Police stated that she was warned just over a month ago not to come back to the Walmart. She was being held in the La Porte County Jail without bond for allegedly violating the terms of her probation. 

Cooling Centers to Escape the Heat

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte residents have a place to go if they need a break from the extreme heat. 

 

According to the mayor’s office, people can go to:

  • LaPorte City Hall
  • Fire station No. 3
  • The Civic Auditorium
  • The park and recreation office
  • The public library.

The Civic Auditorium and park department office are available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. City Hall is a cooling center from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. While fire station No. 3 is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The library is available to cool off from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

 

Anyone needing help after hours may contact the City of La Porte Police Department non-emergency line at 219-362-6205.

Mayor Weighs Options for Nuclear Image

(New Buffalo, MI) - People behind the effort to recall New Buffalo Mayor John Humphrey paint him as a nuclear bomb leaving the local economy in ruins by detonating over Chicago.  The portrayal was contained in a picture of Humphrey smiling under a mushroom cloud from the make believe nuclear blast.

 

The image was printed on documents that Humphrey alleged contain false information in order to build support for recalling him and City Councilman Brian Flanagan.

 

Humphrey said the picture was created and sent to him as a joke by a friend after he moved from Chicago to New Buffalo in 2014.  He said the picture was meant to show him at peace and glad to be here away from the turmoil in Chicago.However, a caption under the picture distributed by his opponents describe his policies as the “nuclear option” for the city.  His opponents blame him for the recent ban on additional short term rentals which they claim will significantly hurt the local economy by discouraging tourists from the Chicago area.

 

Humphrey said the idea behind the ban is to help increase the number of full-time residents and build more of a year round economy.  He said he’s exploring his legal options because the picture was taken from his personal Facebook page without his authorization and used to depict him in a false manner.

 

“We’re looking at this overall for various legal things.  We don’t know exactly where we’re going yet,” he said.

New Grade School Principal at Rolling Prairie

(La Porte County, IN) - A new principal has been hired at Rolling Prairie Elementary School.  Dr. Pamela Moore is a graduate of Chesterton High School where she was an elementary school teacher for nine years prior to beginning her administrative career.

 

Moore was previously the principal at Discovery Charter School in Porter since 2017, officials said.  That school was recognized by the state with the distinction as a "Family Friendly School" due to its efforts to include families in the school and learning process, officials said.

 

The U.S. Department of Education also awarded that school as a "Green Ribbon School" for incorporating healthy living, sustainability, and outdoor classroom approaches utilizing the Indiana Dunes National Park. 

 

School officials described Moore as an “enthusiastic, empathetic, and motivational leader that works to improve all facets of the schools she is involved in.”  Her hiring is under a two year contract approved Monday night by the school board.

 

"We have really enjoyed getting to know Dr. Moore in the interview process and we are confident she is the perfect leader to move Rolling Prairie Elementary forward.  She leads through relationships, compassion, but also with great drive to be the best,” said New Prairie School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Paul White.

Two Weeks of Red, White and Blue Events

(Michigan City, IN) - Independence Day is just around the corner, and the City of Michigan City is celebrating in grand style.  Four events over two weekends will bring the community together to show its patriotism and pride.

 

“We are going to turn the city red, white and blue,” said Mayor Duane Parry. “Michigan City has a great history of celebrating the 4th of July and we want everyone to come out and enjoy these great events.”

 

On Saturday June 25th the Kiddie Parade will make its return to the Uptown Arts District. The theme of this year’s parade is Red, White, Blue & You, and will feature the community’s youth showing their civic pride.  Kids will dress in costume and decorate their favorite bike, wagon, or even their pet and stroll up Franklin Street while parents, grandparents and neighbors cheer them on.

 

The parade will start at 11:00 am at the corner of 7th Street and Franklin Street, and travel north to the Public Library. Parents can still register their kids by visiting www.emichigancity.com/1247/Kiddie-Parade.  Participation in the parade is free.

 

Also on June 25th, the city will host Venetian Night, Michigan City’s Boat Parade celebrating the boats that call Michigan City home.  The theme, Red, White & Blue Cruise, will allow boaters to decorate their boat with lights, streamers, and anything else they can think of to celebrate our independence.

 

The boats will stage in the harbor and proceed along the pier towards the Coast Guard Station, Fish Camp and make the turn back toward the Harbor at the Department of Natural Resources station.  Spectators can watch from the pier, or along Trail Creek from the Coast Guard Station to Millennium Plaza.

 

The boat parade will begin at dusk, and participation and viewing the parade is free. Boaters can register at www.emichigancity.com/1248/Venetian-Night.

 

On July 2nd Michigan City will hold its annual Patriotic Parade, which will travel Franklin Street south from 10th Street to Ames Field.  Last year’s parade was held in June, but the decision was made to move it closer to the July 4th holiday.

 

“For many years the parade was held on the Saturday before the 4th of July, and we wanted to go back to that traditional date,” said Terry Greetham, Director of Special Events for Michigan City.  “We are excited for the return of local high school bands, which haven’t been able to perform over the last few years due to the pandemic,” he said.

 

The parade will start at 11:00 am and feature floats, bands and a wide variety of local organizations showing pride and patriotism. Those wanting to sign up to participate can do so at www.emichigancity.com/1249/Patriotic-Parade. Participation in the parade is free.

 

The Independence Day celebration will come to a grand conclusion on Monday, July 4th with the Michigan City Fireworks Spectacular at Washington Park.   The community will line the beach and boats will fill the water to watch the traditional Independence Day celebration.

 

Mayor Duane Parry believes Michigan City has one of the best fireworks displays around.  “Watching our fireworks launch from the pier over our beautiful lakefront…it doesn’t get any better than that,” he said.

New Principal at New Prairie H.S.

(La Porte County, IN) - There’s a new principal at New Prairie High School. 

 

J.R. Shelt was formerly assistant principal and director of enrollment at Park Tudor High School in Indianapolis.  Officials said he also has administrative experience at Lawrence Central High School in Indianapolis.

 

Shelt grew up in Elkhart and formerly was an English teacher prior to becoming an administrator.  Officials said his experience includes coaching boys and girls basketball.

 

Shelt was described by the school corporation as a distinguished educational leader and motivator known for having significant influence in the lives of many students that stay in touch with him after graduating.

 

“We are very excited to bring Mr. Shelt to New Prairie and we are confident he is the perfect leader to move New Prairie High School forward.  He leads through relationships and positive motivation with great drive to be the best,” said New Prairie School Corporation Superintendent Dr. Paul White.

 

Shelt said he looks forward to furthering the reputation of the high school as providing an excellent educational experience for all students.  “I will work diligently to continue the development of staff, build relationships with students, and meet the expectations of the community.  I am truly honored by this selection,” he said.

James Hired as Slicers Football Coach

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte High School has a new head varsity football coach.  Last night, the school board voted 6 to 1 in favor of Bob James.  James is a longtime assistant varsity football coach recommended for the job by the administration.

 

The school board last month, though, voted 4 to 3 against hiring James.

 

Board member Jim Arnold, who supported James from the beginning, said some board members changed their minds after having answers to their remaining questions about James answered during an executive session of the board last week.

 

“There was just questions about his past experience with coaching, his ideas and vision for the team and so forth. His coaching ability and things of that nature,” he said.

 

Supporters of James touted his longtime service and dedication to the program and being a hometown coach who can relate better to players in the program which has had several head coaches in recent years.

 

 

Changes Upcoming on COVID Sites

(La Porte County, IN) - The COVID-19 Testing Clinic operated by the La Porte County Health Department at 302 W 8th Street in Michigan City will permanently close at the end of June.  Its final day of operation will be June 30th, according to health department officiais.

 

The COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic in La Porte will permanently close on June 29th at its current location at 901 Lincolnway, officials said. 

 

Beginning July 6, COVID vaccinations will be available at the main Health Department office in the La Porte County Complex at 809 State Street in La Porte.  The vaccine clinic will then be an appointment-based program.  Appointments can be secured at www.ourshot.in.gov.  If you require assistance with scheduling an appointment please contact the Health Department at 219-325-5563.

 

To locate a COVID-19 Testing facility, contact your family doctor or visit www.coronavirus.in.gov to find and schedule a test, officials said.  Rapid test kits are currently available for free at both of the health department locations in Michigan City and La Porte.

 

 

 

Local Family of Star Pitcher to See Him at Wrigley

(Wanatah, IN) - About two dozen La Porte County residents are going to Wrigley Field Tuesday to watch a member of their family take the mound.  Sean Manea is a star pitcher with the San Diego Padres after spending several years with the Oakland A’s.

 

Manea grew up in Wanatah and played baseball at South Central High School until spending his senior year at Andrean.

 

Marcus Walker, 26, said he and his two older brothers grew up a short walk from the house their cousin, Sean, lived in as a child.  Walker said they often played baseball and did other things together.  Sean's mother and father along with other close relatives still live in Wanatah.

 

Walker said Sean was always much better than everyone else in youth baseball and his uncanny ability to throw fast and accurately was not overlooked.  He said Manea was back home at Christmas and is still down to earth despite his stardom.  “He cares a lot about his family. Sean is a big family man.  He will talk to anybody,” he said.

Manea has also paid a few visits to South Central High School during his major league career.

 

Walker, a member of the Noble Township Fire Department, said more than 20 members of his family will travel together in passenger vehicles to Wrigley Field on Tuesday.  They plan on spending time with Manea before and after the game.  “Sean never forgets where he come from. Sean is a hometown guy. He cares about his community," he said.

 

Manea, now in his 7th year in the major league,s is 53-44 with a career ERA of 3.83.

Defeat Snatched from the Hands of Victory

(La Porte, IN) - The boys baseball team from South Central High School came as close as it gets to advancing to the state finals over the weekend.

 

The semi-final championship game at Schreiber Field in La Porte was tied 4-4 in the bottom of the 7 inning when the Satellites led off with a triple.  The next two batters were intentionally walked by Lafayette Central Catholic to set up a force play at each of the bags.  The Satellites were unable to score, though, from two strikeouts and a routine fly ball by the next three hitters.

 

Lafayette Central Catholic then scored five runs in the top of the extra inning.  The Satellites did not score in the bottom half of the inning.

 

Principal Ben Anderson said it was great season but the dramatic ending was difficult especially for the seniors.  “Obviously, any time you play your last game it’s a tough one but when you’re in a nail biter like that in a game that you’re so close to winning I think it makes it just that much more difficult,” he said.

 

The girls’ softball team played for the state championship Friday but lost 11-5.

More Drivers Stranded from Dry Fuel Tanks

(Chicago, IL) - Skyrocketing fuel prices are leading to more travelers running out of gas.  AAA reports an increase in roadside assistance calls from motorists stranded with empty fuel tanks.

 

According to AAA, the group has responded to 60 percent more calls for empty tanks since last year.  The surge is blamed on drivers short on cash to fill up with gasoline now at more than $5 per gallon.

 

AAA has offices nationwide including Chicago and Indianapolis. 

Another Man Threating Suicide Safely Grabbed

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Police safely captured a man threatening to shoot himself in separate incidents within a 48 hour period.

 

Officers about 5 p.m. yesterday responded to a report of shots fired in the 300 block of Park Street.  Upon arrival, polices said a suicidal male exited a house holding a gun to his head and was threatening to harm himself. 

 

After some time, police were able to get the individual to lower his weapon.  When he lowered his weapon, police said officers used non-lethal bean bag rounds to subdue him and prevent him from causing harm to himself.  The individual was taken to Northwest Health La Porte for treatment.

 

Police said the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office and the Michigan City Police Department assisted with the call.

 

Officers Friday afternoon responded to a similar situation in the parking lot of Round The Clock restaurant on Pine Lake Avenue.  The man threatening to shoot himself was also hit with bean bags fired from shotguns and stunned long enough for officers to safely take him into custody and get him to the hospital for treatment.  For more information on the Friday incident, click here.  

 

Further information was not released by the police department. 

Railroad to Block Multiple Crossings for Construction

(La Porte County, IN) - Norfolk Southern is causing more traffic headaches, first for construction east of La Porte near New Carlisle.

 

The railroad has announced repairs at crossings at Emery Road, County Line, as well as Walnut and Smilax Roads in St. Joseph County. Work at those intersections will begin on Monday, June 13.

 

Intersection closures will also be happening in the city of La Porte next week. Railroad tracks will be impassable at Boston, Pulaski, Tipton, and Detroit Streets. That work will take place Wednesday through Friday. The City of La Porte suggests finding alternate routes for those roads.

Food Bank Planning Two Stops in La Porte County

(La Porte County, IN) - The Food Bank of Northern Indiana will be giving out free boxes of food in La Porte County twice this week.

 

A distribution for up to 300 households will take place in Kingsford Heights on Wednesday. That’s scheduled for 10:00 a.m. until noon at the Community Center, and it’s sponsored by the United Way of La Porte County.

 

Another giveaway for up to 200 families will be held at the La Porte County Fairgrounds on Friday, also from 10 a.m.-noon. HealthLinc sponsors that event.

 

These are drive-through distributions of pre-boxed and pre-bagged items.

Tragedy Avoided in La Porte Restaurant Parking Lot

(La Porte, IN) - Friday evening local police diffused a potentially lethal situation in a restaurant parking lot.

 

At about 5 p.m. La Porte City Police arrived to Round the Clock Restaurant on Pine Lake Avenue.  A man living in the county was reportedly suicidal and led County Sheriff’s deputies to the restaurant’s parking lot.

 

According to a police statement, the man was holding a gun to his head and threatening to harm himself.  When he briefly lowered the weapon, police fired non-lethal beanbag rounds to take him down without further incident.

 

No other details have been released about the situation, except that the man was taken to Northwest Health for treatment.

Local Student Awarded Statewide Sheriff's Scholarship

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte County student has won a statewide scholarship from the Indiana Sheriff’s Association.

 

Recent La Porte High School graduate Makenna Micallef is one of 40 recipients in Indiana to receive the scholarship. Micallef will be attending Indiana University in the fall to major in Criminal Justice and Criminology and minor in Psychology. She lives in La Porte and is the daughter of Cheryl Braun.

 

Micallef was recognized recently at this month's Merit Board meeting.  Said Sheriff John Boyd, “ It is always a pleasure to recognize and reward young people for their hard work and academic achievements. Makenna is a wonderful young ambassador for La Porte County and the ISA. The men and women of the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office are very proud of her.”

 

Two current La Porte County Sheriff’s patrol officers, David Grimberg and Jacob Payne, are both prior recipients of the same ISA scholarship.

La Porte County Fugitive Found

(La Porte, IN) - A felon who took flight in February has been found.

 

25-year-old Justin Jones was wanted for two felonies, including domestic battery, before fleeing the area. He was featured back in February in a Friday Felon Facebook post by the La Porte County Sheriff’s office.

 

The department now reports that Jones was located near Laredo, Texas right along the Mexican border.

 

He is now back in La Porte County Jail where he is being held without bond.

College Bound Declines in Indiana

(Indianapolis, IN) - The number of high school graduates going to college in Indiana has declined.  According to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, over 53 percent of Indiana high school graduates from 2020 went on to college or continued their education in some other manner.  That was a six-percent decline from the previous year,

 

The ICHE also revealed the number of students with high school diplomas pursuing a less than one year certification or four year degrees has diminished by 12-percent over the five previous years.

 

“Indiana’s sharp one-year college-going decline is alarming, and we have to treat it as such. We know individual lives and the state’s economy depend on and thrive with an educated society,” said Indiana Commissioner for Higher Education Chris Lowery.

 

Lowery is calling for robust and thoughtful action to stem the decline.  “We must look beyond the traditional approaches to education for both youth and adult learners. This demands more intentional partnerships with our higher education institutions and employers, as well as strengthened policies and programming aligned to student success,” he said.

 

COVID-19 was cited as a likely factor in the sharp decline in 2020.  No reasons were given for the drop in the years prior to the start of the pandemic. 

People Flock to Outdoor Concert

(La Porte, IN) - There was a large turnout for an outdoor concert in La Porte last night.  Arts In The Park has begun another summer concert season at Fox Park.

 

A country music band called “The Rest” drew what seemed like close to 1,000 people to the outdoor amphitheatre.  Julia Kanestrom, Executive Director of Arts In The Park, said the crowds seem to be gradually increasing from year to year.  “They’re increasing. The diversity has changed a little bit. I think we’re getting youth which is really one of our top goals,” she said.

 

There were people dancing in front of the stage and numerous children played together in the playground near the band shell during the concert which lasted for about two hours.  The concerts are provided at no cost.

 

Spectators have to pay only for the food and beverages made available during the performances or they can donate to help offset the cost of the bands. 

 

Concerts will be held every Wednesday and Thursday at Fox Park through August 25.  The Arts In The Park series began in 2000. 

Journeyman Distillery Adding Second Location

(Three Oaks, MI) - The popular Journeyman Distillery will have two locations inside old factory buildings in Three Oaks and Northwest Indiana next year if recently started construction goes smoothly.

               

The business started in 2010 inside the historic Featherbone Factory hopes to equal or surpass its success at Valparaiso inside a much larger manufacturing structure abandoned for close to 40-years.

 

Owner Bill Welter said the plan is to finish construction in August of 2023 and open to customers two months later.  “There’s something special about coming into a building that’s been around 100 or more years and has its own history and story to tell,” he said.

 

Welter said the facility will allow his business to start offering craft beer for the first time at both locations.  The beer will be made at a brewery at the Valparaiso site and offered to customers at both locations.

 

Welter makes the spirits.  He learned how to make whiskey at a friend’s distillery in Australia before opening the Three Oaks distillery featuring a restaurant and bar seating up to 160 people with event space as many as 800 people.

 

Welter said he will hire a brewer at his second location.  He said he’s just too busy running his growing company to learn how to make and brew it to the high standard he expects from his products.  “We want to start with great beer on day one,” he said.

 

The new location is going inside what’s known as the old Anco windshield wiper factory in the 300 block of South Campbell Street.  A woolen mill was originally at the site in 1860.  The mill was later torn down and replaced by a 140,000 square foot building once home to more than a dozen manufacturers.

 

Wanting to redevelop the site several years ago, the city initiated an environmental clean-up of the grounds and contacted Welter because of the success of his establishment in Three Oaks and its contribution to drawing tourists.

 

Welter, who’s originally from Valparaiso, was already looking to grow his company. He said expansion wasn’t possible in Three Oaks, though, and the opportunity near downtown Valparaiso was too good to pass up.

 

Welter said about 70-percent of the original building still exists after an extensive demolition of badly decaying portions of the structure inside and out.  He said the building is now just a shell but will have a distillery, brewery along with a restaurant and bar serving up 400 customers.  There will also be event space for as many as 1,500 people and courtyard to eat, drink and listen to live music.

 

“There’s a lot of great history there and I think people are very excited to see it come back alive,” he said.

 

At first, Welter said the plan is to occupy about one-third of the structure and later expand into other areas of the building to keep up with future demand.

 

Despite the challenges, Welter said he saw enough potential in the site to make a considerable investment that included paying for some of environmental remediation on the property.  “It just kind of came together.  We like the story of bringing factory buildings back to life.  It’s really kind of one of the core principals of the brand and what we want to do,” Welter said.

 

Originally, Welter started working in his family’s small bank in Valparaiso then moved to Chicago to make a living in the restaurant and hospitality industries.  Welter said he later became interested in making whiskey and went to a friend’s distillery in Australia to learn the craft.

 

After returning home several months later, he started looking for a location to operate a distillery and found it in Three Oaks.  Welter said Journeyman Distillery was more of a cocktail lounge back then before adding food and space for private events like weddings.  “We were definitely in on the ground floor of the craft distillery movement and certainly it’s something we’re proud of,” he said.

Revolving Door at Jail for Drug User

(Michigan City, IN) - The stealing of merchandise might be linked to the suspect’s need to feed a drug addiction.  31-year old Timothy Borman of Michigan City is charged with possession of methamphetamine and theft.

 

According to court documents, Borman took various power tool accessories and a knife from RP Home and Harvest in Michigan City last week.  Police say he was also found with more than four grams of methamphetamine.

 

According to court records, Borman has several previously filed charges of theft still undecided in the courts.   He also has prior convictions for crimes related to drugs, breaking and entering and public nudity.

 

Borman is being held on $755 bond.

Charges in Home Damaged by Gunfire

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man is accused of shooting up a home.  45 year old Alex Boughton, Jr. is charged with firing multiple gunshots into a dwelling in the 200 block of Merrihill Drive late last month.

 

According to police, Boughton was identified in a photo line-up as the shooter.  Apparently, police said the gunfire was over a dispute with a woman living in the apartment.  Boughton is also a suspect in the firing of nine rounds the day before at Lakeland Estates.

 

Fortunately, nobody was injured in either incident.

 

Boughton is charged with criminal recklessness.  He’s also charged with serious violent felon in possession of a handgun because of prior convictions for dealing in cocaine and marijuana.

 

Boughton is currently being held on $20,000 bond.

Home Away from Home in Jail

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte area man, who has been in and out of jail for years, is again behind bars and accused of stealing.  Jason Bailey, 35, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Level 6 felony theft and Class B misdemeanor unauthorized entry of a motor vehicle.

 

According to La Porte Police, Bailey and a 22-year old woman stayed the night at a home on Andrew Avenue on May 8th.  They were told to get out of the apartment the next morning, though, when the woman living there suspected they had stolen her money.

 

Police said Bailey somehow obtained the victim’s car keys and started up the engine then fled in the 1998 Chrysler with his female friend.  The owner of the car later contacted them in an attempt to get her car back but was threatened and told they would not be returning the vehicle, according to court documents.

 

According to court records, Bailey has a long history of committing crimes and other offenses such as dealing heroin, burglary, conversion, battery and passing a stopped school bus.

 

Bailey could face an up to 30 month sentence if convicted of theft.

New Rescue Boat Impressive

(La Porte, IN) - A new fire department lake rescue boat with ability to fight house fires near the shoreline is already reaping dividends in LaPorte.  The over 22 foot boat, docked in Pine Lake during the summer, is also used to reach people seriously injured from mishaps in the water.

 

After it first arrived in August, firefighters used the fast moving watercraft to reach an individual partially paralyzed from a water skiing accident on Pine Lake and a person floating on her life jacket with a broken leg after falling in between a dock and boat.  “It’s been paying off,” said LaPorte Fire Chief Andy Snyder.

 

Equipped with flashing lights and a siren, the boad has not responded to any major rescue calls since put back in the water in May.  However it was used recently to put out a fire in a wooded area beside Stone Lake.  Snyder said it appears a trash can was intentionally set ablaze.  After catching some debris on the ground on fire, the flames spread a short distance into the woods.

 

The boat raced across Pine Lake and through a channel to Stone Lake to put out the fire from the shoreline with two water guns on the deck, emitting up to 750 gallons of water a minute.  Snyder said the fire, about 75 feet from the boat, was well within reach of the guns, which can send water at distances of about 150 feet.

 

He said a truck would not have been able to get close enough for hoses to reach the fire deep in a wooded area near Cummings Lodge.  “Luckily, the deck guns were able to reach it from the lake and they extinguished the fire,” he said.  

 

The tips of the water guns can be removed and equipped with hoses if water has to be carried on foot to fires at greater distances away.  A pump on the boat draws water from the lake.

 

He said the boat could also be called to assist with house fires if narrow roads make it too difficult for trucks to quickly reach some of the lakefront dwellings or extra time is needed to tap into fire hydrants, which are not always conveniently located around the lakes.  “This just supplements what we would be able to do from the road,” he said.

 

Snyder said the boat cost $104,000 and has a 200 horse power engine and doors that open close to the surface of the water to slide patients inside. 

 

The boat replaces an older and much smaller watercraft that is still in service for any rescues on smaller bodies of water in the city, like Clear Lake and Fish Trap Lake.  That boat has just a 15 horse power engine and no doors, which forces patients to be lifted over the edge and pulled in.  The old boat also doesn’t have a built in water suppression system.

 

He said the old boat, which is kept at the fire station, also has to be transported to the lakes while the new boat is able to remain docked.  This increases response times further on the heaviest used bodies of water.

 

Capt. Scott Wilson said the new boat is also equipped with sonar to locate bodies or even air bubbles from someone beneath the water before they drown.  “Hopefully, we never have a body recovery.  We have had them in the past.  This will make it a lot quicker and easier for us to find them and if we can get to somebody in the right amount of time hopefully be able to rescue them,” he said.

 

Snyder said the Healthcare Foundation of LaPorte paid half the cost of the boat.  “Hopefully, we will not have a lot of use for it this year but it’s there is we need it,” Snyder said.

Son Charged with Bilking Mother

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man is looking at potential prison time.  He allegedly stole thousands of dollars from his 77 year old mother.  Steven Biller is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with theft.

 

According to authorities, the woman sold her mobile home on McClung Road for $9,000 after served with an eviction notice from the trailer park because of her grandson living there without being on the lease.  When payment was made, Biller allegedly grabbed all of the money out of her hands.

 

Court documents revealed detectives are also looking into several thousands of other dollars stolen from the woman possibly by her son and other people whose names turned up in the investigation.  One reported theft involved another woman allegedly putting her name on the title of the victim’s car then selling it and keeping the money, police said.

 

According to authorities, after the woman sold her trailer she stayed at a hotel then later moved to a residential facility in Portage.

 

Biller could face anywhere from a six month to 30 month sentence on the existing charge. 

Cause of Power Outage at Walmart Unknown

(La Porte, IN) - What caused a lengthy power outage at Walmart in La Porte is not known.  Customers were asked to leave the building Wednesday about 9 a.m.  The store at E. Lincolnway and Boyd Boulevard reopened just before 11 a.m.

 

NIPSCO spokesperson Katie Dorsey said two other nearby businesses also lost power during that time period. 

 

Dorsey said crews looked for the source of the outage but were not able to come up with the cause.  “They weren’t able to identify anything in particular that was wrong with the system,” she said.

U.S 20 Blocked by Overturned Semi

(Michigan City, IN) - All four lanes on a stretch of U.S. 20 in Michigan City were closed Thursday morning because of an overturned semi-truck.  The accident occurred just before 6:30 a.m. near State Road 212 on the city’s east side. 

 

Police said a semi-truck hauling scrap metal wound up on its side and was blocking all four lanes of travel near the municipal airport.

 

According to police, scrap metal was laying on U.S. 20 and fuel was leaking from the semi.  The driver was said to be up and walking around.

 

Gayle Parrett was making the drive to her job from her home near Hesston when she had to turn around before reaching the accident scene.  She works at Fiberbond near the crash scene and had to figure out another way to her workplace.

 

"Just all kinds of backed up traffic and everybody turning around," said Parrett when asked to describe what she saw while approaching the accident scene. 

 

Police said that stretch of U.S 20 would be closed for some time.

Physics Center Coming to PNW

(Hammond/Westville, IN) - Purdue University Northwest has designated a new Center for High Energy Physics that will include the university’s particle and high energy physics research and community outreach programs.

 

High energy physics is a subfield of physics that seeks better to understand the fundamental particles and forces of nature. The center will leverage its existing programs and promote PNW’s unique status as a member in several circles of world-class physics research.

 

The center will operate under the leadership of Dr. Neeti Parashar, Professor of Physics and the center’s founder and director. Joining her will be Dr. James Dolen, associate professor of Physics, and PNW students to observe and participate in research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois, and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland.

 

High school students participating with PNW’s QuarkNet Center can also analyze research from these laboratories using external sources.

 

“Research conducted under the auspices of the center is at the forefront of the high energy physics community worldwide,” says Parashar. “It places PNW on a global map of fundamental discoveries. We are also in a very unique situation since PNW is the only high-energy physics institution in Northwest Indiana. The creation of the center will provide more leverage for funding opportunities, inviting researchers of recognition and relevance, and aggressively recruiting Physics students into our program.”

 

Parashar was a part of the research team, comprised of several thousand scientists, who in 2012 discovered the Higgs boson particle at CERN. The Higgs boson responsible for the origin of mass is dubbed as “the God particle” by the non-scientific audience in an attempt to explain the genesis of our existence.

 

The scientists’ discovery helped Peter Higgs and Francois Englert earn the 2013 Nobel prize for their predictions of the existence of the Higgs boson particle.

 

“Research opportunities for undergraduate students at PNW and master class sessions for local high school students will foster exposure to cutting-edge scientific discovery typically only available to post-graduate and doctoral students and other well-established researchers and scientists,” says Parashar.

 

“High energy physics helps us better understand the very nature of life by focusing on the smallest fundamental building blocks,” says Kenneth C. Holford, provost and vice chancellor for Academic Affairs. “Purdue Northwest is home to two nationally recognized scientists that work in this area.

 

In addition to identifying this as a priority research area, the Center for High Energy Physics launch will make these topics accessible and relevant to our community. As a premier metropolitan institution, our goal is to provide cutting-edge educational outreach and training for high school students and instructors in the region.”  

 

“The Center for High Energy Physics at PNW will allow us to highlight the world-class research our faculty are doing in this field and provide a framework to reach out and train students and teachers at the leading edge of science,” says Dietmar Rempfer, interim dean of the College of Engineering and Sciences. “By offering opportunities for students and teachers in Northwest Indiana to study at international laboratory facilities such as Fermilab and CERN, CHEP will expose our students and communities to modern science and facilitate knowledge transfer via several impactful modes of experiential learning.”

 

For more information, visit pnw.edu/chep.

Rescue Boat Keeping Busy

(La Porte, IN) - A new fire department rescue boat in La Porte has already been put to good use on several occasions.

 

The over 20-foot-long boat obtained last year was placed along the shoreline of Pine Lake for the first time late in the season last year.

 

La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said one of the first rescue calls made with the boat involved a water skiing accident causing a man to experience partial paralysis.

 

Another early rescue call included an individual suffering a broken leg after falling off a dock beside a boat. Snyder said both victims were still in the water when reached by firefighters. 

 

Just recently, the boat capable of traveling up to 40 miles per hour sped across the water to Stone Lake to put out a trash can fire moving toward a wooded area.

 

Fire Chief Andy Snyder said a fire truck would not have been able to get close enough for hoses to reach the flames with water. Instead, water was discharged from the boat, about 75 feet away from the fire, to douse what was becoming an increasing threat.

 

“It looks like a trash can back in that area had been set on fire and that it extended to the ground cover of the woods around it. It was well beyond what our hoses would reach from a truck to get back to it,” Snyder said.

He said the boat also has hoses for firefighters, if necessary, to deliver water to a burning structure along the shoreline.

 

The cost of the boat was just over $100,000. Snyder said the previous boat was smaller, much slower, kept at one of the fire stations, and then taken to the water. The new vessel remains docked at Unity Park to increase response times during the summer.

Jaycees Disbanding but Fireworks Still On

(La Porte, IN) - The fireworks show on the Fourth of July will be held this year in the City of La Porte.

 

The decision stems from the La Porte Jaycees choosing not to sponsor the fireworks as they have in the past at the La Porte County fairgrounds.

 

The La Porte Jaycees is in the process of disbanding and will not host the fireworks show or any other Independence Day-related event, said Ross Ratliff, an officer with the public service organization.

 

The spokesperson gave no official reason for the group heading toward extinction. Still, declining membership was cited when the group chose to sponsor the Fourth of July parade no longer last year.

 

The La Porte Kiwanis Club now puts on the parade.

 

La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody said the fireworks at no charge would be at Clear Lake following a free concert by the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra at Fox Park beside the lake.

 

Pastor Dennis Meyer of Bethany Lutheran Church worked closely with the Jaycees for several years on some of the Fourth of July-related events. Meyer said the Jaycees disbanding is sad, but it presents an opportunity for another organization to step up, perhaps, and fill the void.

 

“Sometimes things run a cycle, and another group will start up with similar goals,” Meyer said. 

 

The Jaycees put on the parade for more than 70 years before handing the baton to the Kiwanis Club.

Police Targeting Speed Demons

(La Porte, IN) - The hammer is dropping on speeding drivers in the City of La Porte.

 

La Porte Police Chief Paul Brettin said more officers are monitoring traffic in response to a lot more complaints recently from citizens about speeding vehicles. The effort also stems from increased motor vehicle collisions in the city.

 

“We want to get the word out that we’re not going to tolerate this speed,” Brettin said.

For now, Brettin said extra officers would be working patrols one or two days a week throughout the summer and probably into the fall to try and slow down motorists.

 

More officers will be in heavy traffic areas, such as Lincolnway, Indiana Avenue, and Pine Lake Avenue, along with other locations where the most complaints from residents are being made.

 

“It’s summer. There’s kids out. The parks are busy. We got to keep people safe,” Brettin said.

Robbery Suspects Nabbed in Traffic Stop

(Michigan City, IN) - Special patrols aimed at cracking down on gun violence in Michigan City are paying off in a big way now.

 

Three suspects in a recent armed robbery were detained during a traffic stop.

 

Police said a vehicle was pulled over Friday for a traffic violation on Barker Avenue near Cloud Street. There were six people inside the vehicle. Three of those individuals committed an armed robbery earlier that day, stealing cash and a firearm.

 

Charged with the robbery are 19-year-old Marquaivion Holmes and 20-year-old Corey Gray, both of Michigan City, and 20-year-old Ramanze Robinson of Chicago.

 

19-year-old Rodney Rolland, also of Chicago, was arrested for possession of marijuana. Police said four handguns were also seized from that vehicle.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Randy Novak

(LAPORTE, IN) - LaPorte County Council President Randy Novak was the guest on the SOUND OFF Radio Show. Randy gave an update on the work of the LaPorte County Council, including conversations regarding: 

 

  • Corsicana Mattress 
  • Property tax bill update 
  • Election Results County fair bleachers and grandstand 
  • 39N Conservancy District 
  • Respite House and Mental Health Services 
  • County government’s financial situation 
  • Local Income Tax

Listen to the full episode here: 

 

Cause of Weekend Fire Under Investigation

(La Porte, IN) - A residential fire on the 1300 block of Federal Avenue in La Porte over the weekend remains under investigation.

 

Fire Chief Andy Snyder said the fire was in the attic on one side of the duplex. Structure damage was minimal, thanks mainly to the watchful eyes of the neighbor across the street. Nobody was home where the fire occurred.

 

Part of the ceiling had to be torn down to get water on the flames in the attic's insulation. The home would need repairing before the resident could move back in.

 

Snyder said the cause is unknown but hopes clues turn up during the ongoing investigation. 

Farm in Family for 150 Years

(Medaryville, IN) - A northern Indiana man has plenty of good memories from raising a family on the same farm his great-great-grandfather started 150-years ago.

 

A not-so-positive memory standing out above the rest is a tornado leaving his old wood barn in shambles after he and his family, under blackening skies, took cover in the basement of their home just a stone’s throw away.

 

“It’s not something everybody goes through,” said Bruce Selmer, who grew up on the farm in Pulaski County near Medaryville.

 

Also high in his memory bank is being recognized on April 1 at the Indiana Statehouse for owning a still productive farm in the same family since 1872.

 

Selmer was one of 34 farm owners presented with the Sesquicentennial Award under the Hoosier Homestead program honoring families for their long-running commitment to Indiana agriculture, which makes Selmer proud. 

 

Another 35 families across the state were recognized for family farms dating back 100 years and 200 years. Nearly 6,000 families have received the Hoosier Homestead Award since the Indiana State Department of Agriculture program was started in 1976.

 

Selmer, 65, received a plaque that many past award winners now display in front of their family farms.

 

William Selmer started a much smaller operation raising hogs, cattle, chickens, wheat, oats, corn, and soybeans.

 

Land ownership at the farm has grown to 265 acres, with another 60 acres Selmer leases to grow crops. The original farmhouse is no longer there. It was replaced a half-century or so later by a modest 1,500-square-foot house that Selmer grew up in, while his father, Arthur, carried on the family tradition by raising cattle and growing crops. He died in 1987.

 

Selmer said his mother, Marcella, was still living in his childhood home when she passed away recently at the age of 101.

 

He’s presently cleaning out the still sturdy house. He might wind up renting out at some point, though no immediate plans have been decided. 

 

Selmer also lives on the farm in a 4,000-square-foot house he built to provide more room for his growing young family in 1990.

 

He remembers helping his father as a child with many things on the farm, like raising hogs along with oats and wheat used chiefly for feed. The cash crops at the farm in his youth were corn and soybeans.

 

Selmer said he was working full-time as a mechanic at an auto dealership when he quit to take over the farm before his father retired in 1979. He later returned to being a mechanic and still works on farm machinery, automobiles, and practically everything else with an engine for customers when he’s not in his fields.

 

Selmer said he raises strictly corn and soybeans now and is helped on the farm, occasionally, by his sons employed outside of agriculture.

 

He said there’s a sense of pride from being a fourth-generation farmer on the same property worked by his descendants and keeping the family farm afloat, especially when the typical economic challenges in agriculture are more extreme.

 

“We’re still managing. We’ve made a good life out of it,” Selmer said.

 

Selmer said he’s not sure if his sons will carry on the family’s farming legacy but feels they will keep the property and, perhaps, lease the ground to other farmers. He has no plans to quit working the soil anytime soon, though.

 

“I just enjoy it. I like being outside on my own. It’s nice when you’re outside and stuff to see things grow,” Selmer said.

Rookie Medalist in State Finals

(New Buffalo, MI) - He never tried high jumping until the start of the track and field season this year, but a recent New Buffalo High School graduate placed third in the Class D state finals.

 

Jeremiah Mitchell cleared the pole at 6’2” above the ground during the finals on June 4 at Hudsonville. Mitchell was thrilled at such a high finish but wished he would have topped his best ever jump when he cleared the pole at 6’6” to earn first place at a recent competition in St. Joseph.

 

“I feel good about it. It’s my first year in the high jump. I know I can get better at it,” Mitchell said.

 

The first-place finisher was Braden Prielipp, a sophomore from Marion who cleared the pole at 6’9.”

 

The 6’1” Mitchell was one of the star players on the New Buffalo High School basketball team, making it to the Class D regional finals this year. The speedy Mitchell said his jumping ability on the court had a lot to do with him wanting to compete in the sport for the very first time.

 

Mitchell said he gave high jumping a try a few times after practice during the basketball season and felt it was something he could be very good at before graduating.

 

“Driving on one foot in the high jump is kind of like doing lay ups. My legs were already used to doing that motion,” Mitchell said.

 

Mitchell said the most challenging aspect of high jumping was the several weeks it took him to learn and sharpen the technique needed for clearing the pole.

 

“I was jumping, but I didn’t have like the form. You have to have a good form, and I didn’t have that down yet,” Mitchell said.

 

Mitchell recently signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Southwest Michigan College in Dowagiac.

Milo Running for Fallen Soldier

(La Porte, IN) - A former La Porte mayor is keeping alive the memory of a military serviceman who died while fighting for his country.

 

Blair Milo, a Navy veteran, will be running Saturday in a competition sponsored by the Ironman Foundation. She’s running on behalf of a man from New York who paid the ultimate sacrifice during the Vietnam War.

 

Anthony Shine was declared missing in action. Then about 24 years later, his remains were found in Vietnam and returned for a proper burial.

 

“He was a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force who was missing in action in 1972,” Milo explained.

 

Milo was the youngest mayor in La Porte’s history when elected in 2011 at the age of 28. She’s an avid runner and promoted exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle during her tenure as mayor. One of the ways she encouraged physical fitness was every Friday when dozens of citizens at her invitation joined her in runs from City Hall to Beechwood Golf Course.

 

The Ironman Foundation, based in Florida, is involved in various humanitarian efforts across the globe

Local Actor in Commercial Nominated for Emmy

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man was in a funny TV commercial nominated for an Emmy.

 

Leonard Sales was the lead actor in a commercial that aired primarily in the Indianapolis area last year. Sales played “Chad,” an office worker making fun of a co-worker dressed as a dinosaur for not being with the times. The dinosaur later switched from a vehicle burning gasoline to an electric vehicle.

 

At the end of the commercial, Sales is standing next to a gas pump as the dinosaur driving past the filling station says, “who’s the dinosaur now, Chad.”

 

Sales said he wasn’t nominated for an Emmy, but the producers were and hope the recognition opens more doors to his acting career.

 

“Just to be part of a project that gets this kind of notoriety is special. The more opportunities you get to work with talented people, it really does help your career in more ways than one,” Sales said.

 

Sales said the Emmy nomination was for the Midwest region.

 

Sales runs a business repairing golf clubs and works as a caddy at a private golf course in New Buffalo.

Satellites Bring Home Baseball Regional Title

(Union Mills, IN) - The boys’ baseball team at South Central High School has advanced to the semi-state. The Satellites won the regional championship in Class 1A Saturday by defeating Caston and Fremont.

 

South Central (21-9) will play Lafayette Central Catholic (25-6) for rights to advance to the state finals. The semi-state match up will be played at Schreiber Field in La Porte at 11 a.m. (CST)

 

South Central High School Principal Ben Anderson said the Satellites could benefit from playing close to home. Anderson said he also expects a big turnout from South Central fans and, perhaps, some baseball fans from La Porte and other nearby schools.

 

“It’s obviously not a home-field advantage, but nearly from being as close as we are to La Porte, I think people will come out in droves,” Anderson said.

Free COVID-19 at Home Test Kits

(La Porte County, IN) - Starting on Tuesday, COVID-19 At-Home test kits will be available in La Porte County at no cost.

 

According to the La Porte County Health Department, the free test kits can be received at their La Porte and Michigan City offices during regular office hours.

 

The health department office in La Porte is on the 4th floor of the County Complex building at 809 State Street in Suite 104 A. The Michigan City location is on the courthouse's first floor in Michigan City at 300 Washington Street in Suite 106.

 

Office hours are from 8 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday. Test kits will be available while supplies last, officials said.

 

For more information, contact the health department in La Porte at (219) 325 5563 or the Michigan City location at (219) 809-0515.

Satellites in State Finals for Softball

(Union Mills, IN) - After an exciting semi-state performance that included a win in extra innings, South Central High School's girls' softball team has made it to the state finals.

 

High School Principal Ben Anderson said it's the first time any team from South Central has made it to the state finals.

 

"We're very excited for them. We're very proud," Anderson said.

 

South Central will play for the Class A state title Friday against Tecumseh at Purdue University at West Lafayette at 4:30 p.m.  Tecumseh holds the No. 1 ranking in the state for Class A, while South Central is ranked in the top 10.


Anderson said reaching the state finals isn't that surprising for the team considering the program has eight straight sectional titles and reached the semi-state several times.

 

"The softball team has been very successful over the years. They have not quite been able to get over that hump. They finally did this year," Anderson said.

 

Anderson said individuals in track and cross country had made it to the state finals, but no team from South Central has ever made it to the state finals. 

Drug Use Suspected by Driver Endangering Motorists

(La Porte County, IN) - A Michigan City area woman is charged with driving impaired after posing a significant threat to other motorists and coming to rest on top of a guard rail.

 

Shelby Sue Pippin, 26, was reported to be "swerving all over the roadway" on Johnson Road near 500 West at about 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, according to La Porte County Police.

 

Police say Pippin briefly turned into the Windsor Hill Subdivision, where she took out two mailboxes and their posts before returning to Johnson Road. However, it wasn't long before her 2006 Mazda came to rest on top of a guard rail on Johnson Road in the area of Interstate 94. Pippin was crying when asked by an officer to step out of the vehicle.

 

No alcohol was detected in her bloodstream, but another test indicated possible consumption of prescription drugs, police said. Pippin revealed she had taken some of her prescribed Xanax pills a few hours before the crash. She also mentioned the life-threatening drug Fentanyl and claimed to have a "former addiction." 

 

Pippin was charged with operating a vehicle while intoxicated and other counts like leaving the scene of an accident.

Underage Drinking Cited in NIPSCO Pole Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - Police say a teenage drunk driver knocked down a NIPSCO pole between La Porte and Westville.

 

Just after 1 a.m. on Saturday, officers responded to the 0100 block of S. 500 West in Scipio Township to find a NIPSCO pole knocked over.

 

Rece Goetz, 19, of Valparaiso, told investigators he was traveling 70 miles per hour when he lost control of his Chevy Silverado while attempting to negotiate two “S curves.” He then sheered the base of the NIPSCO pole.

 

Goetz said he was coming from the nearby house of a friend who he was helping remodel the residence. He was not injured.

 

Goetz was charged with operating while intoxicated and minor consumption of alcohol for allegedly having a .13-percent blood alcohol level. Officers placed his fully loaded handgun into safe keeping until he was released from jail after posting bond.

Graduates Speak of Hard Work and Change

(La Porte, IN) - Graduation ceremonies are being held throughout the listening area.

 

South Central High School had its ceremony on Sunday night, while New Buffalo High School had its commencement Saturday night.

 

La Porte High School graduates received their diplomas Thursday night at Kiwanis Field.

 

The LPHS salutatorian was Alondra Pedraza Negrete, a first-generation Hispanic resident of the country who thanked her parents in Spanish for their sacrifices to give her opportunities they never had. Negrete said her family is an example of the success people can achieve through hard work.

 

"I not only represent my family and the Hispanic community but also the people who have come from poverty to prove that we are able to achieve high standing no matter where we came from or who we are. There are no limits on how far you can go in life. The only limit is yourself and how much work you are willing to put forth in what you want to achieve," Negrete said.

 

Negrete plans to study nursing and play soccer at Ancilla University.

 

The Class of 2022 valedictorian was Nicholas Shuble. He said the changes in life each graduate faces would be significant, but change is something that has to be accepted to attain success.

 

"While it is scary, it is something worth getting used to. As Benjamin Franklin once said, 'change is the only constant in life,'" Shuble said.

 

More than 400 students received their diplomas.

Spray Pad Coming to New Carlisle

(New Carlisle, IN) - Kids in New Carlisle will soon be splashing around in a new town park water feature.

 

Construction of a new spray pad at Memorial Park in New Carlisle will begin soon. The spray pad will replace the skate park, which will be torn out to make room for construction. Designed by DLZ of South Bend, the spray pad will fit seamlessly into the existing park.

 

Town officials will host a ground-breaking ceremony soon. Larson-Danielson is handling construction, which is set to begin sometime this month.

 

According to New Carlisle Town Council President Samantha Rush, the cost of the spray pad is just over half a million dollars. She said the funds are the result of frugal saving by the council and the town’s clerk-treasurer. “We actually gave a riverboat tax that we collect every year from the casino, and there’s a cigarette tax that we collect from,” Rush said. “And the Park Board has their own budget, so we’re using that as well. So it’s just coming from year-to-year different funds that have been saved.”

 

About twenty years’ worth of savings, actually. The spray pad has been a dream of many residents for decades. She’s excited that it’s finally happening. “I am most looking forward to having something new for all the kids to enjoy,” she said. “There are so many other communities that have these already. So I’m glad that we’ll be caught up with the times, at least for a few years.”

 

Rush said the project could be done by August, if everything goes according to plan.

Indiana Supreme Court Upholds Governor's Authority

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana legislators fought the law, and the law won.

 

Last year, the Indiana General Assembly passed a law, over the Governor’s veto, authorizing it to call a special session whenever there is a statewide emergency.

 

The law was a response to Governor Eric Holcomb's efforts in dealing with the COVD-19 pandemic, during which he issued nearly 70 executive orders. Lawmakers wanted more power to intervene during public health emergencies in particular.

 

On Friday, the Indiana Supreme Court unanimously ruled the law to be in violation of the state Constitution.

Near Miss for Indiana State Trooper

(Lake County, IN) - An Indiana State Trooper experienced a near miss while in the line of duty Wednesday afternoon.

 

Just before 3:00 p.m., Sgt. Glen Fifield was conducting a routine traffic stop on I-80 in Lake County. A Chrysler minivan driven by a Lake County man veered off the highway for unknown reasons and bounced off the barrier wall. Sgt. Fifield was able to notice the vehicle coming towards him and jumped over the concrete barrier to safety, just as the minivan struck his squad car.

 

Four vehicles were involved in the crash. The minivan also took out a Nissan Altima driven by an elderly man form Oregon before being struck by another passing vehicle.

 

Amazingly, no one was seriously injured in the incident. Sgt. Fifield was transported to the hospital with minor injuries.


Field is a 24-year State Police veteran. When he’s not patrolling area interstates and dodging traffic, Sgt. Fifield often mans one of the police booths at the La Porte County Fair.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Mark Schreiber

(LAPORTE, IN) - Mark Schreiber, Superintendent of LaPorte Parks and Recreation, visited the WCOE studios. Listen to SOUND OFF live every Monday and Friday on 96.7 the Eagle from 12:15-1 PM. The conversation included: 

 

  • Improvements to Stone Lake Beach 
  • PCBs in Clear Lake
  • Park naming suggestion 
  • Trees at Kesling Park 
  • Trails in the city of LaPorte 
  • Fox Memorial Park 
  • Skatepark improvements
  • ...and more. 

Listen to the full episode here: 

 

 

Upcoming Lakefest Events Announced

(La Porte, IN) - The full schedule of events for the 2nd annual LakeFest in LaPorte has been released. Lakefest is scheduled for July 29-31 at Stone, Pine, and Clear lakes.

 

The three-day event will feature watersports, music, art, and food while showcasing the city's abundant natural resources.

 

Much like last year's inaugural event, La Porte Park Department Superintendent Mark Schreiber said there would be multiple family-friendly events at various locations around town throughout that weekend.

 

Other things have been added to Lakefest this year.  

 

"With last year's success, our team knew that we had to take it up a notch. We have added several new events to the lineup, from cornhole tournaments to a kids Nerf gun battle. Between these activities and our class-act headliners, we are confident that this will be the best weekend of summer for families in and around La Porte," Schreiber said.

 

Schreiber said other highlights of this year's festival include Aqua X Jet Ski races, live music and comedy shows, activities for kids, an artisan market by The Collective, outdoor recreational activities, and more.

 

For the full schedule and to learn more about individual events, visit laportelakefest.com.

Charges Filed in Overdose Case

(La Porte, IN) - A drug user whose life was saved by emergency responders in La Porte faces potential time in prison.

 

Scott Galligan, 37, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with several counts related to possession of heroin, cocaine, marijuana, and syringes.

 

According to court documents, Galligan, on May 24, had a weak pulse and was not breathing when located in the back room of a home in the 600 block of Tipton St.

 

He became responsive when given two doses of the heroin antidote Narcan, police said. Galligan told police he overdosed after taking heroin, according to court documents.

 

Police said the drugs and drug paraphernalia, and some clothes were found in his backpack lying in the corner of a room.  

 

According to police, several people inside the home at the time claimed they had just met the man and didn’t know his name. One of the people was attempting CPR on Galligan before the arrival of emergency responders.

Trouble Finder Back in Jail

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte area man with a history of finding trouble is in trouble once again. Jared Marshall, 42, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with burglary, domestic battery, and theft.

 

Marshall, on May 27, somehow entered a home on Judson Road in Center Township and began placing items in a backpack. He has relatives living there but was not supposed to be at the house under a trespass warning.

 

According to court documents, he encountered his nephew in the home and asked the boy to hug him. However, the boy suspecting his uncle was acting strangely and was on drugs didn’t want to hug him. Marshall allegedly grabbed the boy by the shoulders and began shaking him hard enough to cause the child to feel some discomfort.

 

A short time later, a man fitting the description of Marshall walked a Family Express and began throwing food and behaving like he was drugs, according to court documents. He was later arrested when police were called after he allegedly showed up again at the same home.

 

Marshall already has pending charges for allegedly sexually touching a woman outside a home during a neighborhood dispute in the 500 block of Maple Ave. in La Porte’s downtown area. According to court records, Marshall has been convicted or arrested on numerous occasions for at least the past 15 years.

 

The offenses range from Battery, Criminal Trespassing, Resisting Law Enforcement, Obstruction of Justice, and Operating While Intoxicated to Failure to Possess a Fishing License When Required, an infraction that resulted in him paying a fine, according to court records.

Charges in Prison Guard Stabbings

(Michigan City, IN) - Life in prison is being sought for an inmate accused of killing and seriously injuring two correctional officers in stabbings at Indiana State Prison last year.

 

Ty’metri Campbell is charged with murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery, and prisoner possessing dangerous devices or materials.

 

The La Porte County Prosecutor’s Office also filed notice that life in prison without parole will be sought if Campbell is convicted of murder. A hearing is scheduled for June 10 to set a trial date in the case filed in LaPorte Superior Court 2.  

 

Lt. Gene Lasco, 57, of LaPorte, died from multiple stab wounds, while Sgt. Padrick Schmitt, 22, of Lake Station, was critically wounded in the knife attack in February of 2021.

 

According to court documents, the 39-year-old Campbell somehow freed a hand out of one of the handcuffs he was wearing after taking a shower. Campbell pushed past a female correctional officer escorting him back to his cell. She used her radio to alert other correctional officers that Campbell was on the loose.

 

When confronted by Schmitt, who the inmate repeatedly stabbed, Campbell was running down a stairwell. After reaching the main level, Campbell was encountered by Lasco, who stabbed him multiple times.

 

Court documents also revealed the female correctional officer pushed by Campbell stopped to try and slow the bleeding from a neck wound sustained by Lasco. Campbell reemerged and, holding more than one knife, chased her.

 

The correctional officer ran inside a security cage and tried to shut the door, but Campbell shoved his way in through the door. She escaped by going inside an employee bathroom, where other correctional officers hid with the door locked.

 

According to court documents, Campbell was moving toward two other correctional officers with a knife in his hand when hit with pepper spray. He dropped the knife and was tackled to the ground.

 

According to court documents, the two prison guards then regained control over Campbell, who stated, “I’m sorry,” according to court documents.

 

Campbell told investigators he freed one of his hands using a homemade handcuff key, according to court documents. In explaining the motive, investigators said Campbell claimed he “felt possessed by a different entity” and believed people were out to harm or kill him, according to court documents.

 

La Porte County Prosecutor John Lake said the charges weren’t filed until now because Campbell is already serving a 130-year prison sentence for a triple murder. He said that allowed plenty of time for the investigation and other evidence-gathering procedures to be conducted as thoroughly as possible before prosecuting the case.

 

“Because he’s already incarcerated, he’s not going anywhere,” Lake explained.

 

Lake said seeking the death penalty is still under consideration. Campbell pleaded guilty to the fatal shootings of three men that occurred in 2002 in Indianapolis.

Farmers Advised to Appeal Tax Assessments

(Indianapolis, IN) - Farmers in Indiana have just a few days left to appeal their new property tax assessments if they feel the numbers-driven up by inflation are too high.

 

Indiana Farm Bureau encourages farmers who haven't looked at their property tax assessment notices to glance at the figures and file an appeal with their county assessor if there is a dramatic rise in their assessed property value.

 

The deadline to appeal is June 15.

 

Katrina Hall, INFB Senior Director of Policy, Strategy, and Advocacy, said many farmers often ignore their property tax assessment notices because there's usually no significant disparity from the previous year's numbers.

 

However, she said cost tables used by county assessors statewide to calculate property values have gone up 16-percent from the last time they were updated four years ago.

 

Hall said the numbers in the formula were increased to reflect skyrocketing prices in the housing market, higher land values, and rising costs for the labor and materials needed to build or replace a house, barn, grain bin, or some other structure.

 

"The main message is open your notice. Don't ignore it," Hall said.

 

Farmers should appeal their assessed property values if their figures are more than 16-percent higher than last year. This is because assessments are not always consistent, and differences under the revised formula emerge in some counties, Hall explained.

 

Some property owners have reported increases of 30-percent or more. Therefore, all farmers are advised to investigate their current assessments even if they believe the change in figures was reasonable.

 

Hall said farmers could go directly to their county assessor's office for the information used to calculate their new assessments. She said most counties also make online the data used for determining assessments in property record cards containing information like structure measurements, acreage, and lot size.

 

"They may be able to come to some sort of an informal agreement on corrections that could be made," Hall said.

 

Hall said higher assessed property values don't necessarily mean an increase in property taxes because local government units in the state are capped on how much additional money can be brought in from year to year. 

 

Property tax rates often go down when assessments go up to keep municipalities' revenue within the boundaries. Hall said an assessment notice strictly informs a property owner about the numbers used to calculate their property tax bills for 2023.

 

She said future assessments on farmland would eventually go up again to reflect the recent jump in commodity prices. The land is considered more valuable when the amount of money brought in from it goes up, even if the cost of production rises like it is now.

 

"It's just a matter of time before that feeds into our farmland tax formula," she said.

 

In contrast, Hall said assessed values on farmland went down when the price of corn, soybeans, and other commodities noticeably dropped several years ago.

 

The prices remained low until they began a rapid recovery in 2020. Hall said she couldn't remember a time when the updated formula for figuring property values went up so dramatically.

 

"This is different from other years because we're catching up for the housing market's inflationary aspects and the cost of building materials and construction labor," Hall said. "Will prices come back down? I don't have a crystal ball."

Arrest in Near Fatal Beach Shooting

(Michigan City, IN) - An arrest has been made for the shooting at a crowded Michigan City beach over the weekend.

 

20-year-old DeMarco Nichols made his initial appearance Thursday in LaPorte Superior Court 1 on a charge of Level 3 Felony Aggravated Battery. He allegedly shot Rashaan Jeanes in the chest and arm Sunday afternoon.

 

According to court documents, Jeanes was conscious but had difficulty breathing when taken from the beach at Washington Park to the hospital in critical condition.

 

The suspect and victim are both from Michigan City.

 

According to court documents, two groups of people who don’t like each other began exchanging heated words resulting in physical contact at the Stop 2 beach.

 

Court documents also revealed a video of the incident showing Nichols during the altercation raising his right arm and pointing it at a male subject just before the first of five shots were fired. The beach was crowded, and people began running in all directions in response to the gunshots. 

 

There was no mention of Nichols actually holding a gun in a police report about the chain of events captured in the video. Police said Nichols showed up at the police station several hours later and admitted to being the shooter.

 

According to court documents, Nichols told investigators Jeanes began cursing at him and making threatening remarks. Nichols allegedly shoved Jeanes away, then Jeanes punched him, and that’s when he grabbed a gun from the pocket of his shorts and shot him.

 

Nichols could face anywhere from a three to 16-year sentence. He was held in the LaPorte County Jail on a $25,000 bond.

TransPorte Offering Free Rides

(La Porte, IN) - Residents looking to enjoy recreational activities in the City of La Porte can get a free ride later this month.

 

Transporte will be offering free rides on Saturday, June 11, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Residents can call to schedule a free ride to certain events and attractions within the city.

 

TransPorte Manager Beth West said the goal is to help promote activities and amenities around the city and remind residents of what TransPorte has to offer.

 

"Between a packed summer calendar and a wide array of outdoor recreation options, there is no shortage of fun things to do in the City of La Porte this summer," West said.

 

Beth said new riders should notice the convenience of using the city's public transit buses.

 

"With TransPorte's curb-to-curb service, we can get residents where they want to go without the hassle of driving or parking,"

 

Residents can receive free rides to The Market at La Stitch, the La Porte Small Business Coalition's "Second Saturday" event, city parks, Pine Lake, Stone Lake, and Clear Lake.

 

Rides can be scheduled by calling TransPorte at 219-362-6565.

Two People Killed in Toll Road Crashes

(St. Joseph County, IN) - Two people were killed in a crash that closed the Indiana Toll Road for a while yesterday.

 

According to police, a semi-truck drove into cars slowing down for traffic at about 3 p.m. near South Bend.

 

The two people who died were in separate vehicles, and five other people were taken to hospitals, police said. Four of the injured people were reported to be in serious condition.

 

No further details have been released.

Chase Leads to Smash-and-Grab Arrests

(New Buffalo, MI) - A police chase toward New Buffalo resulted in the arrests of alleged members of a sizeable smash-and-grab burglary ring.

 

On Wednesday, Berrien County Police said the suspects committed four smash-and-grab burglaries at stores in Galien, Buchanan, and Niles. An officer responding to an alarm at a store in Galien spotted the suspected vehicle pursued on U.S. 12 toward New Buffalo.

 

Police said stop sticks were used 15 minutes later to deflate both driver’s side tires on the fleeing car.

 

The arrests were made during a foot pursuit.

 

Police said the suspects, Lashan Wyatt, 24, of Hammond, and Maleik Johnson, 26, of Chicago, are part of a ring committing smash and grab burglaries at stores in Indiana, Illinois, and southern Wisconsin.

 

Cigarettes, liquor, and money are among the items targeted in the over 150 thefts linked to the ring, police said.

Arrests in B.B. Gun Shootings

(Michigan City, IN) - Two juveniles have been arrested for injuries inflicted with a B.B. gun during an argument over a basketball in Michigan City.

 

The alleged shooter is charged with Battery with a Deadly Weapon, a Level 5 Felony, Criminal Recklessness, a Level 6 Felony, and Battery and Theft, both Class A Misdemeanors. The second juvenile is charged with Class A Misdemeanor Theft.

 

According to police, the juveniles on April 15 reported they had just been shot with a B.B. gun at a park behind the police station beside Michigan Boulevard. The B.B. gun resembling a pistol was used after a basketball was taken, and the young people playing with it on the court asked for it back.

 

Paramedics treated the injuries suffered by the two juveniles, and their parents were notified about the incident.

 

Police credited the arrests to persistent and good police work that included interviewing witnesses and searching for video surveillance.

 

“Through the assistance of the community and those involved, detectives were able to identify the juvenile suspects in this case,” said Sgt. Steve Forker.

Investigation into Stack of Counterfeit Bills

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police are trying to identify a woman caught with a roll of counterfeit money.

 

The woman was able to make a purchase with a phony $20 bill last week at the Speedway station at U.S. 35 and U.S. 20. She eventually returned and tried to put money on a gift card with seven more worthless $20 bills. However, this time, the clerk tested the bills and found them counterfeit. The clerk would not hand the counterfeited bills back over to the suspect when she requested them, causing her to leave. 

 

Later, the woman called the gas station and apologized, saying they were given to her by someone else. Police said all of the bills had the same serial numbers and were printed on regular paper.

 

The suspect is white in her 30s or 40s and short with a thin build. She also had brown hair.

 

Investigators hope video footage of the transaction will provide clues about her identity. 

Bumpy Wrong Way Ride in OWI Case

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police say a driver traveling the wrong way on a four-lane highway has a history of impaired driving.

 

On Friday night, an officer responded to a 911 dispatch about a driver traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of U.S. 35. The suspect was heading toward La Porte from Kingsbury.

 

According to police, the vehicle had returned to the proper lanes when the officer spotted his pick-up truck near 300 South. The officer had to travel over 100 miles per hour to catch the driver, weaving badly at 75 miles per hour.

 

29-year-old Clay Kendera of Merrillville was arrested when he refused to take a breathalyzer test, police said. The front end of his pick-up truck was damaged heavily, and there was grass embedded in the grill, apparently from crossing the grassy median of the highway.  

 

The charge was upgraded from a Class A Misdemeanor to a Level 6 Felony because the driver had a prior OWI conviction.

High Dollar Marijuana Bust on Toll Road

(La Porte County, IN) - Police seized 112 pounds of marijuana from a passenger vehicle during a recent traffic stop in La Porte County.

 

Weicheng He, 45, and Yumei Qiu, 33, both of Chicago, were arrested on May 27 for Level 5 Felony Dealing in Marijuana.

 

According to La Porte County Police, they were in an eastbound SUV pulled over by Deputy Jon Samuelson on the Indiana Toll Road for tailgating a semi-truck and failing to use turn signals while changing lanes.

 

Police said the officer detected an odor of marijuana while approaching the vehicle and spotted a suitcase covered by a blanket in the back seat. The officer also noticed the driver was breathing rapidly and had a “death grip” on the steering wheel.

 

Police said a vacuum-sealed package of marijuana was found in two suitcases and four large plastic garbage bags removed from the 2015 Honda Pilot at the 58-mile marker near Rolling Prairie.

 

According to police, receipts from businesses like gas stations and a fast food restaurant shows they traveled from southern California.

 

The investigation, which included a translator to speak to the suspects, also revealed they might have been heading to New York City with the marijuana worth several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

 

He was also cited for the alleged traffic violations.

Gallon of Gas Tops $5

(La Porte, IN) - The price of gas has now risen above $5 a gallon in some parts of the listening area.

 

According to gasbuddy.com., it was $5.39 a gallon at Kroger in La Porte this morning, along with some of the Family Express and Speedway stations in La Porte and surrounding areas.

 

Gas was still slightly below $5 a gallon at the BP station in La Porte and other places like Phillips 66 and Marathon.

 

In Michigan City, gas was also $5.39 a gallon at the BP station on 400 North and the GoLo station on Greenwood Avenue. 

 

According to gasbuddy.com, gas remained at just under $5 a gallon at Casey’s in Westville, but it was $5.39 at some stations in Wanatah and Valparaiso.

 

Gas was anywhere from $4.79 to $4.89 this morning in New Buffalo, according to gasbuddy.com. Around the rest of Indiana, gas seems to be cheaper. This morning, Gasbuddy.com registered prices at $4.44 in Kokomo, $4.54 in Plymouth, and $4.59 in South Bend.

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