Local News Archives for 2022-10

Dryer Malfunction Burns Corn

(La Porte County, IN) - Corn was damaged in what appeared to be a grain dryer-related fire at a La Porte County farm.

 

According to La Porte County Police, emergency responders were called early Friday to the 800 South and 1150 West areas. Upon arrival, officers spotted three large grain bins on the east side of the roadway and a grain dryer with smoke and flames showing.

 

Owner Paul Herrold told investigators he believed a timer on the dryer failed to shut off after loading the dryer with a bunch of corn at about 7 p.m. The corn became dry enough to remove, but heat continued to be applied to it until after Herrold was called by a neighbor smelling smoke.

 

Police said Herrold checked on the batch of corn, and it was on fire.

 

The value of a load of corn was estimated at about $9,600.

 

Dryers take some of the moisture out of corn after it's brought in from the fields for proper storage.

 

When stored, corn containing too much moisture is at higher risk of rotting and clumping inside grain bins. Clumping can plug up the flow of corn while it's being removed from grain bins after several weeks or months of storage. 

Firefighter Saves Garage with Garden Hose

(La Porte County, IN) - An off-duty firefighter made the most out of a garden hose to keep a neighbor’s garage from totally going up in flames.

 

The fire is blamed on still-hot embers from a pile of leaves burned the previous day finding their way into a large fresh pile of leaves next to the garage, according to La Porte County Police.

 

Firefighters from Westville and Scipio Township were dispatched to 7722 W. 125 South on Saturday afternoon. At about the same time, a neighbor called Coolspring Township Assistant Fire Chief Warren Smith at home about the fire.

 

Smith made the half-mile drive in his personal vehicle and directed a nearby resident to bring him his garden hose. He attached the hose to the victim’s garden hose to reach the flames climbing two of the outside walls. But, the amount of water coming out was nowhere near the volume from a fire hose.

 

However, Smith said he made the most out of his limited supply by spraying water in all the right places to achieve a good knockdown of the flames before responding firefighters arrived roughly five minutes later.

 

“You would be amazed at what you can do with a little bit of water if you know what you’re doing,” Smith said.

Smith said the flames probably would have engulfed the garage and spread to the house just a few feet away had he not been home. However, the fire damage was limited to the melted siding on two outside walls of the garage and some interior damage.

 

Not damaged were three vehicles inside the garage, including a near-mint condition 1980s Honda Civic the owner has had since he was a teenager.

 

"It’s got the original paint on it. It’s really clean. Rust-free,” Smith said.  

Smith said embers from burned leaves can still be hot the next day in piles large enough to allow the fire to smolder for an extended period.

 

According to police, the leaves were burned about 20 feet from the garage, and more leaves would set fire in the same spot.

 

Smith warned that no leaf burning should happen closer than 50 or 100 feet from any structure or freshly raked pile. He also advises no burning of leaves when conditions are windy and dry.

 

“Embers, they just float up in the air. If they blow 15 to 20 feet away, you start having spot fires everywhere. That’s when you get into a real problem,” he said.

Nobody Seriously Harmed in Afternoon Fire

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte woman smelling smoke looked down and saw fire in her living room early this afternoon.

 

Fire Chief Andy Snyder said it appears the flames were contained to the first floor of a two-story house at 1211 Pennsylvania Avenue near Stone Lake.

 

“They got the fire knocked down. It looks like it’s limited to a couple of rooms,” he said.

 

Snyder said a woman living there made it out safely but required treatment at the scene for smoke inhalation. She was later reunited with her dog and cat after they were removed by firefighters from a first-floor room further away from the flames.

 

Snyder said the pets appeared to be in “pretty good condition.”

 

Upon arrival, firefighters noticed heavy smoke coming from the first floor. The woman in the home reported that she smelled smoke while sleeping upstairs and then saw the living room and a couch on fire. She immediately left the house.

 

“The entire room was on fire in the living room area, and she could see fire on the couch when she exited the building,” Snyder said.

 

Snyder said the flames had spread to an adjacent downstairs room when firefighters arrived a short time later. He said it was too early to know what started the fire, but an investigation will soon begin into the cause.

 

 

Driver Found Stewed After Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - Police say alcohol was involved in a driver crashing into a fence Sunday afternoon near Michigan City.

 

Marc Cizewski, 56, of La Porte, is charged with Class A misdemeanor operating while intoxicated.

 

According to La Porte County Police, his 2021 Honda Civic about 2:30 p.m. crashed completely through a fence at Waterford Storage at 6752 Johnson Road.

 

Upon arrival, police said the driver was swaying as he stood while holding onto the open door and top of his car. One of the first things he told the officer was, “I’ve been drinking.”

 

A short time later, Cizewski, while staggering as he walked, stated, “I’m over the limit,” police said. Cizewski revealed he consumed four mixed drinks at a bar in Michigan City during a one-hour period. Fortunately, he was not injured.

 

Cizewski was arrested with a blood alcohol level about two times the legal limit.

Rematch in Race for Commissioner

(La Porte County, IN) - The race for one open seat on the board of the La Porte County Commissioners is a rematch from a close election four years ago.

 

Sheila Matias, a Democrat, is seeking a second term as District 1 Commissioner against Republican Connie Gramarossa, a La Porte County Council member.

 

In 2018, Gramarossa was serving the remaining eight months of the four-year term of Mike Gonder when she lost to Matias by close to 800 votes or two-percentage points.

 

Matias, 67, of Michigan City, is President of the three-member commission.

 

The former public school English teacher served two terms on the city council in Michigan City before serving as mayor in that community from 1996 to 2003. Currently, Matias is also Executive Director of the Leadership Institute and the Society of Innovators at Purdue University Northwest.

 

Matias said her primary reason for running again is to complete projects she began, primarily extending broadband access. She said over $11 million in state and private dollars had been secured locally for providing greater access to high-speed internet since she formed the La Porte County Broadband Task Force soon after taking office.

 

What Matias described as a "heavy lift" is now up off the floor with efforts continuing to secure the other $70 million or more needed to fill all remaining broadband service gaps in the county.

 

“I am determined that we are going to make lots of headway in that regard. It’s just too important for children, for families, for small businesses, and for being the place where remote workers can come and have a great quality of life and have a business out of their home,” Matias said.

Matias said she's also running because she enjoys using her problem-solving abilities to serve the public.

 

“It’s something I get great pleasure out of. I think it’s a skill set that I’m blessed with,” Matias said.

Matias' other long-term goals include job growth and creating more new housing for all income levels.

 

A recent study by Vibrant Communities showed La Porte County has a glut of older housing, which many believe works against efforts to attract and retain more young professionals.

 

"We've had a couple of housing developers we've been working with that are coming to La Porte County and beginning to look at places that are appropriate for them to build neighborhoods. That's a really good sign, but we need to keep pressing forward on that," Matias said.

Gramarossa, 58, and her husband, Rich, recently purchased a Bruno's Pizzeria franchise opening soon in Michigan City. The Michigan City couple has also previously run other construction and real estate businesses.

 

Gramarossa said she's running to provide a different style of leadership aimed at getting more things accomplished in areas like maintenance from the executive branch of county government. She vowed to dedicate more time to what the position receives now from Matias and the other two commissioners; Rich Mrozinski and Joe Haney.

 

As a result, Gramarossa said the declining condition of the courthouse in La Porte is among things getting overlooked or put off.

 

“You have trees growing out of the gutters. This is all lack of maintenance, I believe, from a commission that doesn’t work on day-to-day activities,” Gramarossa said.

Gramarossa said her other goals include making sure the La Porte County Sheriff's Office has enough "seasoned officers" well into the future to combat a rise in crime.

 

Gramarossa said the council raising the local income tax earlier this year to boost the salaries of all emergency responders was a step toward eliminating major problems with turnover. She said the next step is making sure salaries, once they're competitive enough, remain that way to avoid employees leaving again for higher pay.

 

Gramarossa also wants the La Porte County Office of Economic and Community Development to provide more assistance to small communities by creating jobs and improving their quality of life.

 

“You see small towns struggling to try to bring economic development in for themselves. We need to restructure it and really work with the towns that we have in the county,” Gramarossa said.

Gramarossa is in her second year on the county council.

Wheels of Democracy Turning in La Porte County

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County’s “ballot bus” has been making the rounds all over the county. Since mid-October, the Mobile Voting Unit has already been to over twenty locations.

 

Election officials have been parking the bus at nursing homes, apartment complexes, shopping centers, parks, and churches.

 

La Porte County Clerk Heather Stevens says each party appoints a person to help run the travelling polling station. “We have a Democrat appointee and a Republican appointee together at all times, so everything remains bipartisan,” she said.

 

Last month, alleging that the Mobile Voting Unit was being underutilized, two La Porte County Commissioners voted to take control of it. Although they reversed their decision, there were fears that mobile voting would become a pawn in the game of local politics. Stevens says ballot security is a top priority. “We want fair, safe elections. When those machines come in, they’re locked up at the end of every day,” Stevens emphasized. “It is perfectly safe. Every day those machines come back into the courthouse; they’re locked back in the election room, and it is perfectly secure.”

 

The cost of the vehicle was covered by a grant. Stevens admits that running it requires an investment of time and money. “We’re paying two people 40 hours a week, so I want to see people using it a bit more,” she said. “We’ve got to do a better job of getting word out and getting people used to it. So that’s something we’re working on.” The mobile voting schedule is posted on the county website, and Stevens has been posting regular updates on Facebook.

 

So far, according to Stevens, about 200 people have voted using the Mobile Voting Unit. Some days only a few voters show up; a busy day may see over thirty come through.

 

The Mobile Voting Unit is open for democracy six days a week at different locations around La Porte County. Next week it’s scheduled to visit Rolling Prairie, Hudson Lake, LaPorte, Fish Lake, and Michigan City.

Cougar Air Raid Too Much for Red Devils

(Lowell, IN) - New Prairie punched their ticket to the sectional finals Friday night with a 42-6 victory on the road at Lowell. As if the Cougars were in a hurry to get home, it was a game decided early; all the points were scored before halftime.

 

After turning away Lowell in four plays on the opening drive, New Prairie went to work. On their first play from scrimmage, junior quarterback Marshall Kmiecik connected with junior Reece Lapczynski on a 57-yard pass for a touchdown.

 

New Prairie’s jets cooled in the second quarter following a rash of penalties. But on a second-and-36, Kmiecik revved the engines with a 62-yard bomb to senior Dallas Ryans.

 

Kmiecik threw five touchdown passes to four different receivers. Senior Noah Mungia responded to Lowell’s only score by returning the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for the other Cougar touchdown. The Cougars’ game plan was spot-on against a Lowell defense that was only giving up 18 points per game coming into the contest.

 

New Prairie’s defense feasted on ball carriers all night. Sophomore safety Hayden Scott led the team with ten tackles. In all, seventeen different Cougars made the stat sheet with at least one takedown. Senior Tayvion Ortman added a block of Lowell’s only extra point attempt, in addition to eight tackles of his own.

 

The Cougars will face Hobart next week for the sectional championship.

Valpo Eliminates Slicers in Sectional

(LAPORTE, IN) - Sectional favorite Valparaiso traveled to Kiwanis Field Friday night and eliminated the La Porte Slicers 42-3 in 5A sectional play.


The Slicers received the opening kickoff. On 3rd down, the Slicers fumbled, and Valpo recovered at the La Porte 18-yard line. Two plays later, the Vikings scored on a 13-yard run by Thomas Burda. Drayden Wilcox kicked the extra point, and Valpo led 7-0 at the 9:52 mark of the 1S quarter.


La Porte got on the board at the 1:59 mark of the 1S quarter on a 32-yard field goal by Jack Doty. Doty's kick capped a 55-yard drive and scored. The big play was a 58-yard completion from Dylan Salisbury to Ollie Kring to the Valparaiso 19.


Valpo scored early in the 2nd quarter on a 5-yard run by quarterback Justin Clark. This capped a 1-play 80-yard drive. Wilcox's extra point made it 14-3. There was no more scoring in the first half.


The Vikings broke the game open in the 3rd quarter with two long scoring drives and a 75-yard end-around.


The initial Valpo drive of the 2nd half was all on the ground, capped off by a Burda 2-yard run at the 6:54 mark. Burda had another 2-yard touchdown run at the 3:08 mark. The final 3rd quarter touchdown came on a 75-yard end-around run by Julian Stokes with 28.6 seconds left in the quarter. Wilcox kicked all three extra points, and Valpo led 35-3 after 3.


The Vikings got their final score when backup tailback Jacob Clardy capped a 13-play 70-yard drive with a 7-yard run at the 5:12 mark of the 4th quarter. Wilcox's kick made the final 42-3.


La Porte had trouble establishing any running game. Nathan Donah finished the game as LP's only healthy running back with 29 yards on 14 carries. Kai Jones ran five times for two yards before leaving with an injury in the 1st half. Dylan Salisbury was 11-24 passing for 180 yards with two interceptions. Ollie Kring had a big night catching six balls for 131 yards.


The Slicers finish the season at 2-8. Valpo will travel to Chesterton next Friday for the sectional championship. The Trojans beat Michigan City 28-20

Parry Charged for August Auto Mishap

(Michigan City, IN) - The mayor of Michigan City has been formally charged with leaving the scene of an accident.

 

On August 5, Michigan City Police investigated an incident in which Mayor Duane Parry allegedly drove through a grassy area at Washington Park, damaging park property and his city-owned SUV. According to an accident report, Parry drove over a water pipe with an attached hose, causing the exhaust of his vehicle to be ripped off. Parry did not report the accident and is alleged by investigators to have been drinking.

 

Following an investigation by State Police, charges were filed Thursday in La Porte Superior Court 4. On Friday attorney Scot Pejic appeared on Parry’s behalf. Parry is charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident, a criminal misdemeanor. An initial hearing is scheduled for November 15.

Identity of Shot and Killed Home Intruder Released

(La Porte, IN) - We now know the identity of an alleged home intruder who was shot and killed in the early hours of Thursday morning.

 

Officers responded to a call of a burglary in progress at a home on East SR 4 just outside the La Porte City limits. When they arrived, a gunshot was heard from within the residence. Inside, officers found a deceased male, now identified as 42-year-old Jacob Borders of La Porte.

 

Police are still investigating details, such as who fired the gun and the circumstances that led up to the shooting. Authorities say Borders and the occupants of the home did not know each other prior to the home invasion.

 

According to court documents, Borders had a criminal history for crimes like burglary and robbery. In July of 2021, Borders allegedly escaped from the custody of two correctional officers and illegally entered a home in making his getaway.

Guilty Verdict for La Porte Child Abuser

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte County Prosecutor’s Office is celebrating the conviction of another pedophile.

 

Michael Dumdey of La Porte was arrested last year on multiple counts of sexual abuse against a minor. This week, after hearing evidence, La Porte County Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos found Dumdey guilty on six counts of child molesting and exploitation, as well as eight counts of possessing child pornography.

 

Prosecutors say they’re confident that Dumdey will be locked up for the rest of his life after he is sentenced in December.

 

Deputy Prosecutor Julianne Havens tried the case. LaPorte Police Detective Victor Aguilar and victim advocate Gail Bos were credited with helping secure a guilty verdict.

 

Police Chase Ends in Drug Arrest

(Michigan City, IN) - A motorcycle chase in Michigan City led to the capture of an alleged drug dealer.

 

The incident happened early Tuesday morning on the city’s near north side. At around 3:35 a.m. officers observed a motorcycle without a license plate in the 400 block of East 10th Street. When the biker refused to stop, a chase ensued westbound. According to police, the motorcyclist fell off the bike near Grant Avenue and fled on foot. Officer found him not far away hiding behind a garage.

 

The rider was identified as 48-year-old John Lowry of Michigan City. Police allegedly found drugs and paraphernalia in his possession. He was charged with dealing methamphetamine, unlawful possession of a syringe and marijuana, as well as resisting law enforcement.

 

Lowery was issued a $50,005 bond. He is scheduled to appear before a judge on November 1.

Drug Conviction for La Porte Man in Federal Court

(South Bend, IN) - A La Porte man has been convicted in federal court for dealing drugs.

 

38-year-old Donta Bridges of La Porte was charged with multiple counts related to dealing heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine, as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm.

 

The charges stemmed from activity in the fall of 2019. La Porte County’s Drug Task Force was credited with helping federal agents bring Bridges in.

 

Following a three-day trial in South Bend’s U.S. District Court, Bridges was found guilty. He will be sentenced in early January.

Pedestrian Killed in Westville

(Westville, IN) - A pedestrian from downstate was killed when struck by a vehicle last night in Westville.

 

Roger Davenport-Logging, 39, of Greenfield, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to La Porte County Police.

 

Police said the investigation shows Richard Arciniega, 57, of Westville, was northbound on U.S. 421 before 7 p.m. in a 2002 Chevy Silverado. Arciniega said he was in the driving lane when he suddenly observed the victim standing in the same lane in front of his vehicle.

 

Police said a toxicology test was taken, which is standard in all fatal motor vehicle collisions. However, investigators were still waiting for the test results.

 

Additional information was not being released at this time because the investigation still being ongoing.

Light Shed on Cross Burning Skeleton

(Union Mills, IN) - A La Porte County woman has moved on but will never forget the sight of a burning cross outside the home of her biracial family nearly 30 years ago.

 

A then 19-year-old Hanna man, who admitted to making the cross out of scrap lumber at his home and setting it ablaze at the residence, said his actions were not racially motivated.

 

Allen Stevens, now a local political figure, said he soon turned himself into the police and has led his life in a much more positive fashion.

 

Debra Dudley, 43, said her family moved to Union Mills to escape deteriorating inner city conditions in East Orange, New Jersey. Dudley said her father unexpectedly died from an aneurysm a few months later. Dudley said her mother was now alone raising her and her two teenage brothers and trying to figure out how to make ends meet.

 

Several weeks later, in March of 1993, Dudley said she wished her father was there even more, to protect her while watching the six-foot gasoline-soaked cross burning at night in their driveway.

 

“I was scared. I was terrified. I distinctly remember just missing my father and wishing my father was there,” Dudley said.

According to a police report about the complaint, Stevens told investigators his actions were not motivated by racial hatred.

 

Instead, there were claims a teenage family member was sexually abusing a girl in the neighborhood, and he wanted to send a message that would cause him to stop, according to the police report. According to the police report, Stevens said he also wanted the boy to quit doing other bad things in the close-knit community.

 

The now 48-year-old Stevens said he made a mistake in taking the law into his own hands in a "horribly short-sided, ill-conceived way." He also said the remorse and embarrassment  he felt from his actions caused him to step forward and turn himself into the police a few days later.

 

According to court records, Stevens was given 180 days on probation and 20 hours of community service for Class A misdemeanor trespassing. He was also required to write a letter of apology to the family.

 

According to police, a 17-year-old boy, who Stevens described as a friend, was also involved. His friend, along with Dudley and her two brothers, were students at South Central School at the time. Stevens was already a South Central graduate. 

 

Stevens said the change he felt from his guilty conscience was immediate, and he continued leading a life opposite from his previous actions while married and raising three children.

 

“I’m far from a racist. I got a track record that proves otherwise,” Stevens said.

Stevens is chairman of the La Porte County Republican Party and a South Central School Board member.

 

Since becoming party chairman in March of 2021, Stevens has reached out to African-Americans and Latino residents, feeling their values are no longer represented by Democrats. Stevens said he's also attempted to increase the number of local political candidates and precinct committeepersons who are minorities.

 

Recently, the La Porte County Commissioners voted to give county employees the day off with pay for Juneteenth, a federal holiday marking the end of slavery. Stevens was among the people pushing for the action. He also favored the commissioners adopting a hiring ordinance to increase the number of county employees who are minorities to reflect the percentage of their population in the county.          

 

After keeping quiet about the incident, Dudley said the upcoming November 8 election had no bearing on her speaking publicly. Instead, Dudley said she wants people to know what he did so they can judge Stevens based on all the information. She also said she hopes Stevens has changed like he claims but isn't convinced.

 

“I don’t have any political agenda. I just want people, in general, to just be aware the incident did occur. Just be aware,” Dudley said.

Dudley works in the Adult Protective Services Division of the La Porte County Prosecutor's Office. Prosecutor John Lake, a Democrat, is running for a second term against republican Sean Fagan.

 

Stevens alleged light being shed on his past is politically motivated.  

 

“I have a record to prove I’m far from some racist or some kind of animal or something I’m sure the Democrats are going to try and portray me as,” Stevens said.

Read Allen Stevens' press release about the cross-burning in Union Mills and his involvement here

Woman Bites Her Way to Jail

(Michigan City, IN) - A woman biting a police officer helped take a bite out of crime.

 

Myrtle Thompson, 31, of Michigan City, is charged with battery against a public safety official, a level 5 felony, and other counts.

 

According to court documents, officers early on October 19 were called to a disturbance where people could be heard yelling in the area of Green and Donnelly streets. Police found a vehicle halfway in the road and halfway in a yard.

 

After the vehicle was found to have expired plates, handcuffs were put on the driver for not cooperating in the investigation, and a female backseat passenger with an outstanding warrant for her arrest, court documents revealed.

 

The front seat passenger was Thompson, who gave a false name and kept hiding her face because she also had an outstanding warrant for her arrest. An officer struggling to place her in his vehicle started being hit and kicked repeatedly by Thompson.

 

She stopped when the officer punched her in the face, police said. However, while attempting to strap a seat belt on her, the officer was bitten on the arm by Thompson. A transport van was then called to take her to the La Porte County Jail because of her continued combative behavior.

 

According to court documents, the officers felt a stinging sensation from the bite and were left with bite marks on his skin.

Traffic Stop Turns into Drug Bust

(Michigan City, IN) - Traveling with an expired license plate in Michigan City resulted in the arrest of a suspected user of hard drugs.

 

Justin Main, 32, is charged with Possession of Methamphetamine, Cocaine, and Marijuana.

 

According to court documents, Main was one of four occupants of a vehicle stopped on October 19 on E. Michigan Boulevard for an expired license plate.  A K-9, during a free-air sniff, detected the presence of drugs in the vehicle, which led to the seizure of a small amount of cocaine and marijuana.

 

Nobody wanted to reveal who the drugs belonged to until they were informed everyone would go to jail since they were not cooperating with the investigation.

 

Police said all fingers then pointed to Main.

 

While searching his groin area, Main was later found with more cocaine and methamphetamine in plastic baggies.

 

The Eau Claire, Michigan man was still held in the La Porte County Jail on a $15,000 bond.

Collapse Stirs Memories of Thriving Store

(La Porte, IN) - The partial collapse of a building once home to a popular store in downtown LaPorte was emotional for family members connected to the former retailer.

 

The three-story structure in the 700 block of Lincolnway, a block east of the courthouse, was once Low's, a clothing store for men and women.

 

Marty Ringla of LaPorte and his niece, Teresa Mijares of Valparaiso, cried, laughed, and hugged each other while sharing their fond memories of the former store looking more like a demolition site.

 

His father and her grandfather, Sam Ringla, worked at the store for about 20 years before purchasing it in the 1960s.

 

"My whole life was spent in that building pretty much with my dad," Ringla said.

 

The once bustling department store used to have a tailor working on beautiful tables to make clothing better fit their customers.

 

Mijares recalled how she and her brothers, growing up in LaPorte, were afraid of the mannequins during their early childhood visits to the store. However, Mijares loved looking at the glass display cases containing new merchandise and Christmas shopping at the store.

 

"It's sad. It was a really neat place to be in," Mijares said.

 

Ringla's now late father ran the business until selling it to a buyer who turned it into an antique store roughly 30 years ago.

 

"It was his whole life right there. It's just the finish to it," Ringla said.

 

Ringla remembers downtown being crowded with shoppers during those years, even at night, because of all the retailers.

 

"It was a happening spot back in the day," Ringla remembered.

 

Mijares especially enjoyed when stores offered sales and patronizing the restaurants. Going out for an ice cream downtown was particularly fun for the former resident.

 

"We all shopped down here. All of the time," Mijares said.

 

Ringla had good things to say about the positive gains in recent years to bring more life back to downtown.

 

"It's been real encouraging," Ringla said.

Cause of Building Collapse Under Investigation

(La Porte, IN) - Part of a three-story, more than century-old building in downtown La Porte collapsed Wednesday night.

 

Fortunately, authorities said nobody was inside when about one-third of the front of the structure came down at about 9 p.m. in the 700 block of Lincolnway, a block east of the historic courthouse.

 

No injuries were reported to anyone who might have been passing by when the structure came down, said La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder.

 

After the collapse, Snyder said there were bricks from the exterior of the building laying across the eastbound lanes and partially into the westbound lanes of the four-lane highway, also known as Indiana 2.

 

Engineers and other construction experts combed through the rubble and what was left of the building to determine the cause.

 

"There's definitely some different possibilities, but right now, we don't have anything conclusive," Snyder said.

 

La Porte City Engineer Nick Minich said efforts were also being made to shore up the remaining portion of the structure to prevent further collapse. 

 

"We're making sure everything is safe," Minich said.

 

Minich said the owner was remodeling the structure to offer retail space on the main level and apartments on the upper floors. He said the work before the collapse was strictly "cosmetic non-structural repairs."   

 

Specifically, Minich said windows were being taken out to be replaced, and some façade work was also planned.

 

Initially, Minich said the 1800s structure was one of three separate buildings later combined into one space years ago.  

 

The front portion of two of the original structures is what collapsed.

 

Minich said no support beams or other weight-bearing parts of the structure had been removed during the remodeling, but "something shifted that wasn't anticipated" likely led to the collapse. He also said enough of the building is probably left for it to be rebuilt.

 

The building used to be home to Lowe's, a once popular clothing store during what was then a bustling downtown.

 

Angie Baugher of La Porte said she was a regular customer purchasing clothing for her late husband, Don, and herself 40 years or more ago.

 

She said the sight of the once landmark building was now hard to believe.

 

"There go the memories," Baugher said.

Fatal Shooting During Possible Burglary

(La Porte County, IN) - A fatal shooting during a possible burglary happened during the night outside La Porte.

 

According to La Porte County Police, deputies about 3:30 a.m. were called to a home in the 2000 block of E. Indiana 4 on a report of a burglary in progress.

 

Soon after deputies arrived, police said a gunshot was heard and a male subject was located deceased inside the residence.

 

Police said detectives took control of the scene and are still investigating.

 

No further information, for now, has been released by authorities.

Building Collapses in Downtown La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - A three-story building in downtown La Porte has collapsed.

 

The structure came down last night in the 700 block of Lincolnway on the south side of the four-lane highway just east of the courthouse.

 

It appears nobody was inside when the building collapsed between two other structures.

 

So far, the cause of the collapse is not known. However, the property owner was renovating the structure at the time.  

 

Gina Phelan of La Porte said she learned about the collapse last night and was stunned this morning when she came downtown and saw the rubble. At about 5:30 a.m., Phelan had just finished working out with her daughter across the street at Urban Fitness.

 

“Wow. It’s kind of crazy,” Phelan said. 

 

Lincolnway heading eastbound is down to one lane around the immediate area of the collapse.

 

We’ll provide more details as they become available.

 

 

B-Dubs Burglary Still Under Investigation

(La Porte, IN) - A burglar at Buffalo Wild Wings in LaPorte cut a hole in a safe to steal money without tripping the alarm system. A week later, LaPorte Police were still busy coming up with a suspect in the early morning October 18 break-in.

 

According to police, a glass door on the patio was shattered to gain entry. The burglar ventured past the kitchen area and then cut a hole in a wall to get inside an office where the safe was kept. A hole was then cut in the safe to remove at least $1,500 from inside of it.

 

According to police, the security system at the chain restaurant failed to activate because no outside or inside doors were opened to trip the alarms.

 

La Porte Police Chief Paul Brettin said investigators were contacting other law enforcement agencies to see if they had any similar cases to try and develop a suspect.

 

Brettin said some degree of planning was apparently involved in the crime.

 

“Desperate people do desperate things. Anything is possible if they put their mind to it,” Brettin said.

Back to Prison Possibly After Moped Crash

(Michigan City, IN) - A crash on a moped has a Michigan City man facing potential time in prison.

 

Authorities say 38-year-old Michael Johnson struck a vehicle on a moped in August at Lafayette St. and Barker Ave. in Michigan City.

 

According to police, Johnson was lying on the ground with his face covered in blood when an officer stopped to assist. A handgun was allegedly recovered from his pocket before he was taken by ambulance to the hospital.

 

Police said it was illegal for him to have a firearm due to a prior conviction in 2004 for burglary.

 

According to court records, Johnson served a six-year prison sentence and another four years on probation for the crime. He could face anywhere from a 2 to 12-year sentence on a Level 4 felony charge of Possession of a Firearm by a Serious Violent Felon.

Chased from Home Burglar Nabbed

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte City Police arrested a suspected burglar allegedly caught with a can of Dr. Pepper and other stolen items from the home. Phillip Jozwiak, 29, of La Porte, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with level 4 felony burglary.

 

According to court documents, Jozwiak was inside the home four days ago in the 1000 block of E. Jefferson Avenue when a woman climbing out of bed to let her dog outside spotted the intruder inside her residence.

 

In response, her husband grabbed the burglar, who managed to wrestle out of his grip and flee in his bare feet.

 

Court documents revealed a man matching the burglar's description was soon located a relatively close distance away. On his possession were tools belonging to the victims and a can of Dr. Pepper he grabbed before leaving the residence.

 

According to police, Jozwiak said he was called a thief by the homeowner during his encounter with the man, but he had trouble recollecting other details. Jozwiak claimed his memory was clouded by the methamphetamine he was on, police said.

La Lumiere at Civic Game Cancelled

(La Porte, IN) - For a while, it looked like La Lumiere School and the City of La Porte would come together to host a home game for the school's high-flying basketball team.

 

The Lakers, annually ranked among the country's best College Prep School teams, were scheduled to play on November 11 at the Civic Auditorium. However, the school has withdrawn from the game against Donda Academy.

 

No reason was given for the cancellation.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said individuals who purchased advanced tickets for the game would receive a refund.

 

"While we are disappointed that the game won't be taking place, we respect La Lumiere's decision to cancel. We look forward to supporting the Lakers at the NIBC La Porte Invitational in January," Dermody said.

 

La Lumiere is again scheduled to compete in the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference invitational in early January at the Civic Auditorium. All of the teams in the invitational are among the best in the nation.

 

ESPN will again cover the tourney as they did last year.

Driver on Meth in Crash

(Michigan City, IN) - Charges are filed in connection with a vehicle crashing into a fence in Michigan City.

 

Police said 44-year-old Reynaldo Sanchez was under the influence of methamphetamine on the night of October 15 when he crashed outside a home at 2010 Elston Street.

 

Upon arrival, officers found the still-running vehicle in the yard and Sanchez inside the vehicle unconscious. The SUV was in reverse, and the only thing that kept it from moving was the fence the vehicle was stuck on.

 

According to police, Sanchez exhibited significant impairment and had not been drinking, but he tested positive for methamphetamine. He also allegedly had some fentanyl in his possession.

 

The Michigan City man is charged with possession of a narcotic drug and operating while intoxicated.

Ice Rink Purchase Being Explored

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte is exploring the possibility of purchasing a refrigerated ice skating rink.

 

A portable rink was put up last winter for the first time at State and Monroe streets to help generate more interest in the downtown.

 

At last week’s Board of Public Works and Safety meeting, Mayor Tom Dermody said he expected the portable rink to be more of a revenue generator than it was.

 

However, Dermody felt turnout was strong enough for a rink to become self-sufficient and a difference maker in the community to support examining the possibility of the city buying a rink.

 

“When you look at Valparaiso and some of the other communities on how they started with a portable rink and where they are today, and we talk about a healthier community, I think this could be something very special,” Dermody said.

 

Dermody said sponsorships would be sought to help offset the cost of a rink.

 

City Engineer Nick Minich was permitted to explore the cost of buying a rink and the cost of renting a rink. Minich said it’s possible purchasing one might not cost any more than renting.

 

Last year, the city, with help from sponsors, rented a 40x60 rink for $60,000 from Wayne Seybold, a former U.S. Olympic ice skater. The rink was up from January 21 to February 21.

New Prairie Parents Air Concerns About Transgender Bathroom Policy

(New Carlisle, IN) - Over 125 people packed the Olive Elementary school gym Monday night. Following their regular board meeting, New Prairie School Board members held what they call a “Let’s Talk” session regarding the school district’s bathroom policy for transgender students.

 

In August, district leadership went public with an updated policy that allows students in grades K-12 who identify as transgender or nonbinary to use the bathroom and locker room of their choice.

 

Prior to public comments Monday night, New Prairie Superintendent Dr. Paul White reminded the crowd that the school board’s decisions are largely bound by federal regulation and legal precedent. “We are a public school,” he said. “We are not a private school; we are not a religious school. We cannot just pick and choose what we do.”

 

Many parents questioned whether the transgender policies are legally necessary, as the school board has been advised by their legal counsel. Others worried that the policies would spill over to athletics, as has happened in other school districts.

 

The concern voiced most by parents centered around parental rights. The district’s current Gender Support Plan gives students the option of not telling their parents about any special gender accommodations made for them. “Please tell me how having someone lie to their parents about a huge life decision is good for their mental state,” said Erica Clark, mother of four boys in the school district. “Because of this and the sneakiness behind it,” she told board members, “I have lost trust in you.”

 

Parents also voiced concerns about the effects of the policy on the over 99 percent of students who do not identify as transgender or nonbinary. One father of a high school girl reported that last year a transgender male was using the girls’ bathroom. When his daughter immediately left the bathroom, she was later allegedly harassed by the transgender student via school emails. Other parents noted teachers who ask for students’ preferred pronouns in class and enforce their use among other students. Board President Phillip King told the crowd that such incidents should not be taking place and will be investigated.

 

About twenty people spoke during the public session, which lasted nearly an hour. Critical comments outnumbered support for the policies about seven to one.

 

Kathy VanLue of New Carlisle was one of the few who spoke in favor. A longtime pediatric nurse, VanLue applauded the administration’s policies.  “They [transgender kids] need our schools and our community to support them,” she said. Turning to the crowd, VanLue admonished those who are not more open-minded, saying, “Every single person here either has a relative, friend, coworker, et cetera that leads an alternative lifestyle, whether you know it or not. And you need to ask yourselves, why are they afraid of you if they have not come out to you?”

 

Many parents admitted they have not paid much attention to school district matters in the past but will be more attentive in the future.

OWI Arrest Once Speed Reaches 122 MPH

(La Porte County, IN) - A man is accused of driving impaired while traveling more than twice the speed limit on a state highway outside La Porte.

 

John Gallagher, 56, of Rolling Prairie, was booked into the La Porte County Jail on charges of operating while intoxicated and reckless driving.

 

According to La Porte County Police, a deputy began following Gallagher eastbound on Indiana 2 after clocking him at 72 miles per hour in a 50 mph zone while traveling out of the La Porte city limits. His speed increased to 122 mph, and Gallagher veered over the eastbound center lane while being followed.

 

Gallagher, after turning on 500 East, pulled over. Gallagher said he was heading home after drinking at a bar in La Porte. His alleged blood alcohol level was .186-percent or more than twice the .08-percent legal limit.

 

Gallagher could face up to one year in jail on the Class A misdemeanor OWI charge. He was also cited for speeding and driving left of center, police said.

Raiders End Season on a Roll

(New Buffalo, MI) - The Red Arrow Raiders ended the regular high school football season by winning six of their last seven games.

 

The Raiders (6-3) defeated Bangor 60-6 at New Buffalo on Friday, October 21.

 

Head Coach Matt Johnson said the defense was the most significant factor in the outcome by keeping Bangor from moving the ball much on offense and forcing turnovers resulting in touchdowns.

 

“Between special teams and defense, they were probably responsible for half of our scores,” he said.

 

The first touchdown for the Raiders was set up by a fumble recovery from junior Ryder Wolnik, who gained about 30 yards on the return.

 

Senior Eli Thomas, on a quarterback keeper, quickly took the ball 28 yards into the end zone.

 

The Raiders, who started their next series of downs in excellent field position, needed just a few plays before a 10-yard touchdown run by Wolnik.

 

Later, Bangor was backed up close to their end zone when their punter appeared to kick the ball off the side of his foot.

 

Junior Payton Lijewski caught the 10-yard punt and ran 12 yards for a touchdown.

 

The final score of the first half was from a 50-yard touchdown pass to Wolnik, who caught the ball in mid-stride and took it the rest of the way into the end zone.

 

The Raiders, consisting of players from New Buffalo and River Valley high schools, improved noticeably after blowout losses to Fennville and Bridgman in their first two games.  

 

Much of the improvement was from several athletic players, who hadn’t taken part in much-organized football in the past, learning how to play the game and young returning players like Payton Lijewski on defense and quarterback Ethan Lijewski coming into their own.

 

The Raiders even performed well after losing key starters Jaquan Pierce and David Fairchild to late-season injuries.

 

Fairchild and other major impact players such as Thomas, Josh Seifert, and Cadden Krieger are being lost to graduation.

 

However, the team has a solid core of returning starters like Wolnik, Pierce, the Lijewskis, and Cameron Forker, a solid 6’3,” 300-pound lineman on offense and defense.

 

“The cupboard is not going to be bare at all. We’re excited for what we have coming back,” Johnson said.

Two OWI Suspects Nabbed at Once

(La Porte County, IN) - Two drivers were arrested for being impaired during the same traffic stop.

 

La Porte County Police said two eastbound drivers were exceeding the speed limit on Indiana 2 near the fairgrounds Saturday night.

 

Deputy William Masterson turned around and was catching up to the vehicles when both drivers abruptly turned on Zigler Road toward the entrance to the fairgrounds, police said. 

 

After stopping, Joshua Ivey squealed the tires on his Chevy Impala but was quickly stopped by the officer with his overhead lights flashing.

 

Police said another driver, Matthew Neubert, slowly pulled up to the officer in his 2001 Ford Ranger pick-up truck.

 

Ivey, 23, of La Porte, and Neubert, 32, of Portage, were charged with operating while intoxicated. They had similar blood alcohol levels below two times the .08-percent legal limit.

 

According to police, both drivers were clocked at about 66 miles per hour in a 55-mile-per-hour zone before being chased down by the officer.

Highway Collision with Airborne Sheet of Drywall

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte County woman was shaken up from a scary collision with an oncoming, airborne sheet of drywall.

 

57-year-old Lisa Ludlow was westbound on Route 6 near Union Mills at about 8 a.m. on Friday, according to La Porte County Police. Suddenly, a sheet of drywall flew out of a utility trailer pulled by an eastbound SUV.

 

Police said a tow truck was called for Ludlow’s Chevy Silverado due to the damage.

 

Fortunately, the Union Mills woman was not injured, but she was rattled by the collision, which happened in the blink of an eye.

 

“It was a split second, and it was so fast that you see the road, and then the next thing you don’t see the road, and this white piece of something is coming at you. It shook me up pretty good,” Ludlow said.

Ludlow sheds light on the damage to her vehicle.

 

“I knocked part of my bumper off. It dented my hood, my front fender. Caved my driver’s side windshield in. There was glass all inside the vehicle,” Ludlow said.

Ludlow said winds were gusty at the time, but the sheet of drywall was not secured to the trailer.

 

According to police, the other driver, John Rosenbaum of Union Mills, stopped and waited for police. He was not ticketed.

 

The drywall flew out despite each side of the trailer having high guard rails.

No Arrests in Weekend Shooting

(Michigan City, IN) - Police in Michigan City are turning to the public to help solve a weekend shooting at the lakefront.

 

At about 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, police said numerous gunshots were fired during a gathering at Washington Park. A 19-year-old Michigan City resident was wounded. Two vehicles were also shot multiple times.

 

Police said one of those vehicles was used to take the shooting victim to the hospital with what were described as non-life-threatening injuries.

 

So far, no arrests have been reported. Anyone with information is asked to contact the police.

Republicans Host Red Wave Rally at Fairgrounds

(La Porte, IN) - Republicans nationwide are optimistic about their chances in upcoming elections. Here locally the party of Lincoln seems, to some, to be a house divided. Yet on Sunday Republicans were waxing their political surfboards for what they’re predicting will be a “red wave.” Party leaders invited the public to a meet-and-greet of candidates on Sunday afternoon at the La Porte County Fairgrounds.

 

Local party chair Allen Stevens said the turnout was strong, especially among non-rank-and-file members who just wanted to find out more about the candidates. “It wasn’t typical party membership,” Stevens said. “It was your everyday Republican voters that don’t necessarily participate in party functions. But the base is energized this year, and we can tell by the number of non-traditional ‘party’ members that showed up. It was a lot of the general public, just fired-up conservative base.”

 

Stevens introduced the candidates and encouraged those in attendance to ask tough questions.

 

Ryan Richards of La Porte was one of those inquiring minds who came to the fairgrounds with a list of concerns. “I just want to be informed, instead of just guessing.” he said. “I wanted to make sure I had the correct information.” Richards said he has been listening to podcasts of “Sound Off” from 96.7 the Eagle but wanted to ask the candidates about certain things in person.

 

For Richards, the issue of a bypass to alleviate traffic through La Porte is a big concern. “Connie Gramarossa has the most say, I suppose, so I asked her about that,” he said. “We talked probably for at least ten or fifteen minutes, and I got all her views. I felt what I heard was more than adequate, and she had an interesting perspective on it.”

 

Richards says he is a registered Republican, but doesn’t vote strictly along party lines.

 

Mostly local Republican candidates were in attendance, but Indiana Secretary of State candidate Diego Morales also made the trip up to La Porte for Sunday’s event. Morales said he will be touring La Porte County again next weekend.

New Prairie to Hold Special Meeting on Transgender Issues

(New Carlisle, IN) - School leaders at New Prairie United School Corporation will hold a public discussion regarding their transgender bathroom policy and other related topics.

 

On Monday, October 24, the school board will hold what they call a “Let’s Talk” session to get public input on the controversial issue.

 

Public concern regarding transgenderism began following an August school board meeting in which the district’s updated bathroom policy was revealed. By federal law and legal precedent, students are allowed to use the bathroom of whatever gender they identify as.

 

Last month a teaching aid called the “Genderbread Man” sparked some controversy. The visual aid, which helps teachers deal with transgender students, depicts a fluid definition of gender.

 

And administrators are currently reviewing an element of the high school health curriculum which depicts a man transitioning to a female as part of a lesson on estrogen.

 

Monday’s meeting, scheduled to start at 6 pm, will take place at the Olive Elementary School gym in New Carlisle.

New Prairie Sends Strong Message in Sectional Opener

(New Carlisle, IN) - It was not an auspicious start to sectional football action for New Prairie Friday night. The heavily-favored Cougars gave up a touchdown on a 91-yard opening kickoff return to visiting Kankakee Valley.

 

Having left the door wide open for an upset, New Prairie wasted no time slamming it shut, answering with a methodical touchdown drive of their own, followed by 41 more unanswered points.

 

A dominant ground game sustained the Cougars. Three different players recorded runs of 40 yards or more. Junior quarterback Marshall Kmiecik and senior Noah Mungia each rushed for two touchdowns. The pair also connected for a score on a short pass play. Kmiecik finished with 113 rushing yards and 96 through the air. Mungia registered 188 all-purpose yards. Senior lineman Jacob Mrozinski also rumbled in for a six-yard score.

 

Head coach Kasey McKim credited a determined offensive line. “Offensively, it’s about the big hogmollies up front,” he said, “just being more physical at the point of attack—and Noah just running physical all night. We got Marshall involved in the second half on some keepers. That really busted some things wide open.”

 

The defense was led by senior Tayvion Ortman, who tallied ten tackles, two sacks, and a blocked kick. Fellow senior Kole Staley intercepted a pass and returned it 59 yards.

 

New Prairie’s reserves put the final nail in KV’s coffin. With under five minutes left in the game, freshman quarterback Reed Robinson, flanked mostly by junior varsity teammates, scored on a 60-yard run.

 

New Prairie sent Kankakee Valley home with a 47-6 thumping. The Cougars, now with a record of 9-1, will next travel to Lowell (7-3) for a rematch of an early-season game, which New Prairie won 24-7.

Rokita Investigating "Woke" Banks

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita is going after banks that may be bending the law to push a far-left, woke agenda.

 

Indiana has joined 19 other states in serving investigative paperwork to six major U.S. banks. Rokita says the banks, in conjunction with the United Nations’ Net-Zero Banking Alliance, are colluding to put the squeeze on companies that specialize in or rely on fossil fuels.

 

Rokita and others allege that the banks, which include Bank of America; Citigroup; Goldman Sachs; JP Morgan Chase; Morgan Stanley; and Wells Fargo, are using financial leverage to punish energy sectors on which most consumers greatly rely, while pushing an environmentalist agenda.

 

“This new woke-ism in the financial sector poses a real threat to everyday Hoosiers,” Attorney General Rokita said. “Indiana’s farmers, truck drivers, and fuel-industry workers are hurt when the radical Left attacks whole segments of our economy. And it’s troubling that these banks in the Net-Zero Banking Alliance are taking marching orders from UN globalists all-too-eager to undermine America’s best interests.”

 

Rokita's office says they will release more information as the investigation continues.

Governor Staying Strong on Drug Convictions

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana’s Governor will not be as lenient with minor drug convictions as the President.

 

Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced pardons for thousands of Americans convicted of "simple possession" of marijuana under federal law.

 

This week, Governor Eric Holcomb announced that he will not follow suit.

 

Holcomb said, "The President should work with Congress, not around them, to discuss changes to the law federally." He says he plans to continue the state’s policy of working with minor drug offenders to clear their criminal records after they have served their punishments.

State Police Dog Dies During Second Tour of Duty

(Lowell, IN) - The Indiana State Police are mourning the loss of one of their loyal K9 companions.

 

Zeus, an 8-year-old German Shephard/Belgium Malinois mix, had patrolled the Indiana Toll Road for the past year. Originally from Hungary, Zeus was stationed for five years in Ft. Wayne before retiring when his handler was promoted. He recently came out of retirement to help Trooper Logan Hensley handle the Toll Road.

 

Among Zeus’ accomplishments over his career, the K9 helped recover over $540,000 in fake credit cards, 56 illegal firearms, over 370 pounds of drugs, and 12 criminal suspects.

 

Unfortunately, Zeus contracted a sudden illness and had to be euthanized late last week.

Public Invited to GOP Gathering

(La Porte County, IN) - The public will have a chance to meet local Republican Party candidates this weekend.

 

A Red Wave Rally is scheduled at the La Porte County Fairgrounds. Candidates will be in the midway and available to the public to discuss where they stand on the issues.

 

The event will run from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Chili, toppings, desserts, and soft drinks will be provided.

Haney Bends on Bridge Repair Contract

(La Porte County, IN) - More repairs are slated for the Franklin Street drawbridge in Michigan City.

 

This time, unanimous support was given by the La Porte County Commissioners to enter into a no-bid contract with the longtime caretakers of the bridge to do the work as quickly as possible.

 

According to county officials, new parts will again have to be made to replace old ones worn out since already-made parts do not exist for the bridge since it's nearly a century old. The work has to be done during the winter for the drawbridge to function during the spring and summer.

 

The bridge working properly is critical during the warm weather to allow sailboats returning from Lake Michigan to pass underneath and for motorists to reach the lakefront.

 

Commissioner Joe Haney, who steadfastly questioned the legality and integrity of the no-bid contract awarded to the longtime caretakers of the bridge for similar work last year, had a change of opinion this year.

 

Haney said he was influenced by further research of the law and the short window to award a contract for the work to have the bridge repaired before spring. He said it would take two years to repair the bridge if competitive bids were sought.   

 

"We are up against the wall," Haney said.

 

La Porte County Commission President Sheila Matias said having the bridge working properly is a public safety issue. She said the drawbridge is the primary access to the beach, and if it's stuck open, paramedics could be delayed in responding to a medical emergency at the lakefront.

 

La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman had a mixed reaction to Haney's change of position, considering how they previously clashed over the interpretation of the law.

 

"While I'm heartened that Mr. Haney has all of a sudden done a 180 and now thinks the special purchase right is the way to go if he had listened to us a year ago rather than lodging claims that it was wrong and unethical for my office to propose that and even going around me to the State Board of Accounts and then calling county government a vat of filth and wanting me fired over this I might be sympathetic to his change of heart," Friedman said.

 

There was no change in opinion from La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz, who believes the project cost is above what's allowed for a no-bid contract under state law.  Stabosz vowed not to pay the bill unless he was given legal protection should the state find him in violation for making the payment.

 

The commissioners unanimously approved his request not to be held legally responsible should the no-bid contract be ruled a violation.

Democrats Issue Alert to Voters

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County is at risk of having a right-wing extremist form of government if a Republican running for county commissioner is elected, according to the La Porte County Democratic Party in a written statement released publicly on Friday.

 

The party said a vote for Connie Gramarossa is a vote to give more power to "extreme fringe" La Porte County Commissioner Joe Haney.

 

Gramarossa, currently a La Porte County Council member, is challenging Democratic Party incumbent Commissioner Sheila Matias.

 

If Gramarossa is elected, Democratic Party spokesman Corey Campbell said Haney would likely become Commission President since they would have majority decision-making authority on the three-member governing body over their political opponent Commissioner Republican Rich Mrozinski.

 

The Democratic Party also accused Haney of being a "wild" conspiracy theorist whose allegations of things like corruption and intimidation in county government since becoming a commissioner in January of 2020 are made up "out of thin air" without a "credible investigation" or "shred of proof."

 

The party also criticized Haney for not publicly condemning the Oath Keepers, saying he supports the right-wing militia group. Oath Keepers are an American far-right extremist group present at the January 6th insurrection event. 

 

Campbell said the stakes couldn't be higher for people caring about "good county government and integrity" who don't want to see more of the "dangerous doses of behavior" already exhibited by Haney. 

 

"Is it any wonder why Joe Haney refuses to publicly condemn the Oathkeepers? It's clear that Haney buys into the same wild conspiracy theories that are completely untethered from facts, just like in the Oathkeepers playbook," Campbell said.

 

In response, Haney called the claims "ridiculous" and an act of "desperation" from the Democratic party.

 

"I think there are those on the other side that are scared to death of openness and transparency and returning county government back to what it should be. Decency, civility, and respect. This idea that that is fringe is absolutely non-sense," Haney said.

 

Haney also said local Democrats care only about "keeping themselves in power and serving the special interests."

 

The names of Haney and five other elected officials from Indiana were recently on a leaked list of Oathkeepers members. Haney has insisted that he's never been a member of the organization tied to the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building. He speculated his name being on the list was likely a mix-up connected to his contacts with the group as a freelance reporter doing articles related to gun rights in the past.

 

Haney said the Democratic Party is playing election-year politics by continuing to keep the spotlight on this "non-story."

LPHS Students Paint Kettles

(La Porte, IN) - Some of the Salvation Army kettles will look different this Christmas season. The La Porte High School art students in Mary Beth Lebo's class painted Salvation Army kettles and presented their masterpieces recently.

 

La Porte School Corporation Community Engagement Coordinator Mario Rosa partnered with the Salvation Army in the effort.

 

Rosa also presented the project to Lebo, a longtime teacher in the school corporation.

 

Rash of Collisions with Deer

(La Porte County, IN) - Several collisions between motor vehicles and deer have occurred recently including one where a driver rolled several times.

 

La Porte County Police said Mauricio Loza, 20, of Westville was traveling on Indiana 2 near 600 West before 1 a.m. Sunday.

 

Loza said he swerved to avoid a deer and lost control of his 2005 Chevy Tahoe, which left the road and flipped several times before coming to rest on its side in a cornfield.

 

Loza complained of pain but refused medical attention.

 

His vehicle was a total loss in the crash.

 

This is the time of year when collisions with deer happen more frequently because they’re on the run more often from mating season.

 

Deer are also trying to find new places for cover from corn in the fields being harvested.

Charges in Crash Hinge on Test Results

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police are investigating a possible alcohol-related motor vehicle crash with injuries at U.S 6 and County Line Road near Westville at about 1 a.m. on Saturday.

 

Police said 45-year-old Larry Daugherty of Westville struck a ditch bank head-on.

 

Daugherty said he left the road after swerving to avoid an oncoming vehicle in his lane. He and his passenger, 56-year-old John Adams, also of Westville, were taken by ambulance to a hospital, complaining of pain over their entire bodies.

 

Police said the driver had an odor of alcohol on his breath, and a bottle of beer was recovered from the crash site. Whether charges are filed hinges on the results of a blood alcohol test.

Affordable Housing Plan Gaining Support

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County government could be sinking funds into combating the lack of affordable housing.

 

On Wednesday night, the La Porte County Commissioners recommended approving spending $345,000 to subsidize a proposed development of twelve homes in Michigan City.

 

Homeward Bound, a local organization, focused on providing homes with affordable rent in La Porte County, wants to build 12 homes inside four buildings on Karwick Road across from the Pottawattamie Park golf course.

 

Rent is kept affordable because there is no financing to pay for the work to save on interest rate costs, said Sandra Keller, who's with the organization. 

 

"We fund 100 percent of the development," she said.

 

Keller said rent for each one and the two-bedroom unit would range from about $400 to $600 a month for low to moderate-income individuals, who will be expected to have some income from sources like a job or pension.  

 

She described the over $2 million development as a "coop-based rental housing village" featuring many open spaces and other things like gardens, trails, and bicycle storage.

 

There would also be a community building for occupants, who would be key to the daily operations of the village to gather.

 

Keller hopes the site's development will happen sometime during the first half of next year and construct similar other housing locally.

 

"We envision doing this and different projects like this throughout the county," Keller said.

 

The recommendation from the commissioners will go before the La Porte County Council for final action.

Pumpkin Yields Statewide Mixed

(La Porte County, IN) - Local pumpkin growers are reporting a good crop this year despite a dip in production statewide from a dry start to the season.

 

Pumpkin seeds planted in late spring and early summer have trouble germinating in dry soil, said Stephen Meyers, an assistant professor of weed science in the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture at Purdue University’s College of Agriculture.

 

Not only was there limited rainfall during June and July, but it was one of the hottest Junes on record in the state, he said.

 

Meyers said his family’s one-quarter-of-an-acre pumpkin patch, which doesn’t have an irrigation system, had to be replanted in spots where seeds failed to germinate.

 

“We planted and didn’t receive much if any, rainfall for June, which doesn’t encourage much growth for the pumpkins starting out,” he said.

 

Last year, according to USDA, Indiana was the second leading producer of pumpkins in the U.S., with about 25,000 pounds per acre harvested on 7,500 planted acres.

 

Illinois led the nation, with about 40,000 pounds of pumpkins per acre harvested on about 15,000 planted acres.

 

Tuttle Orchards near Greenfield in the central part of the state have about 20 acres of pumpkins that are mostly not irrigated. James Kriner, a manager of the farm store on the property, said yields were slightly down, primarily with specialty and decorative pumpkins. He said all the pumpkins look nice but seem more diminutive in size.

 

“It was a pretty dry summer overall,” Kriner said.

 

Kriner said it’s also been more challenging to find enough pumpkins to buy from wholesalers to supplement their supplies for customers.

 

“We’re having more trouble doing that this year,” Kriner said.

 

Pumpkin yields from the irrigated fields of John and Jean Coulter from Westville were not impacted by the dry start to the growing season.

 

“I think ours is at least average or above,” said Jean Coulter.

 

Coulter also spoke highly about their quality.

 

“Great. Wonderful,” she said.

 

The Coulters started raising pumpkins nearly 40 years ago and grow them on about 20 acres. Jean Coulter said conditions at her farm in June and July were also dry, but none of her seeds had trouble germinating because every acre of her pumpkins has an irrigation system. She also noted pumpkins, once established, don’t require as much water as other crops.

 

The Coulter pumpkins are available at the store on their farm along U.S. 421 and out in the fields where customers on hay rides are taken to pick on weekends.

 

The Coulters also grow sweet corn on 20 acres and vegetables such as tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, eggplant, okra, and beets on another 1.5 acres. The Coulters, their son, and their grandson also raised seed corn and soybeans on 4,000 acres.

 

Nearby Garwood Orchards, which irrigates all their pumpkins on up to 10 acres, reported a good-sized crop.

 

“We’re fortunate. Our pumpkins have done well,” said Carey Garwood.

 

There’s also a store offering pumpkins along with u-pick at the orchard known primarily for its close to 300 acres of apples.

 

Garwood said her farm is also being contacted more this year about filling larger pumpkins orders. She said some requests are for 100 to 200 or more pumpkins by people from throughout the region whose regular suppliers cannot meet their needs at places like nursing homes and special events.

 

“I think that tells me some other farmers with pumpkins didn’t fare as well,” Garwood said.

 

Michigan, California, Texas, and Virginia are the other leading producers of pumpkins in the nation, according to USDA.

Facebook Messenger Money Scam

(La Porte County, IN) - Money was used as the bait to scam an 81-year-old La Porte County woman on Facebook Messenger.

 

According to La Porte County Police, the Stillwell area woman was contacted by a man claiming to be an agent with the Social Security Administration. The victim reported that the man offered her $50,000 if she would send him $100 on a prepaid card, and the money would be delivered to her in cash.

 

According to police, the woman said she was hesitant until the man provided the names of two people she knew and claimed they also received the money the same way.

 

The woman purchased a prepaid card and gave the numbers on the card to the man for him to access the money. He then asked for another $200.

 

The woman gave him the numbers off another prepaid containing the funds to meet his latest request. He then requested $1,000 but the woman now fully realizing it was scam refused any further payment.

 

Police said an officer helped the woman block the subject from contacting her again.

End of Slavery Day a Paid Holiday Now

(La Porte County, IN) - The day marking the end of slavery will now be recognized as a federal holiday by the La Porte County government.

 

The La Porte County Commissioners Wednesday night unanimously voted to give county employees the day off for Juneteenth.

 

Last June, several members of the African American community in Michigan City requested the paid vacation day for county employees, but the commissioners said it was too late to act just days before June 19.

 

Some people were left with the impression that the commissioners would revisit the consideration of Juneteenth as a paid holiday after January 1, 2023.

 

Commission President Sheila Matias said bringing the proposal back for consideration was a matter of respect and courtesy for county employees so they can plan their vacation schedules next year in advance.

 

“In fact, I work at Purdue Northwest, and we already have gotten the approved holiday schedule from the Board of Trustees of Purdue,” Matias said.

 

Michigan City resident Rodney McCormick said he was insulted by what he described as an effort merely to draw votes from the African American community for the November 8 election.

 

McCormick, a high-ranking board member of the Michigan City Housing Authority, said it seems like politicians only pursue support from the black community when it’s good for them and give back little if anything.

 

“You’re pandering for our votes. It’s not fair. It’s not right,” McCormick stated.

 

La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman said holiday schedules had been approved this time of year for the upcoming year for at least the past six years.

Fire Damages Church

(Kingsford Heights, IN) - A church was heavily damaged by fire this morning in Kingsford Heights.

 

At about 7:30 a.m., firefighters were called to the New Jerusalem Church of God In Christ at Meadowbrook Boulevard and Drummond Road. Smoke was spotted coming from the roof.

 

Kingsford Heights Fire Chief Justin Francis said the fire seemed confined to the attic where it apparently started. Francis said what caused the fire was unknown, but some electrical issue was a strong possibility.

 

“It went through the attic and pretty much followed the wiring all of the way through,” Francis said.

 

Firefighters were still there two hours later, punching holes in the ceiling to ensure the flames were fully extinguished and cleaning up debris such as burned insulation and ceiling pieces. 

 

Church member Frank Evans, 81, of Kingsford Heights, said he helped build the church more than 30 years ago with volunteer labor.

 

Evans said an electrical issue was suspected after the lights in the hallway recently went out and never came back on. However, he said the problem was not located after examining the electrical system in the basement.

 

Evans said nobody had been in the attic yet to try and identify what caused the lights to go out.

 

“We knew we had a problem. We were working on it,” Evans said.

 

Evans said a funeral at the church for his sister was scheduled for Friday, but the service might have to be postponed until another location for the ceremony is found due to the damage.

 

Pastor Michael Bush, who has been the church pastor for 13 years, made the drive from his home in South Bend when notified about the fire.

 

“I’m just at a loss for words,” he said.

 

Bush is also the pastor at Impact Ministries in South Bend. His displaced congregation will likely attend services there until the damage is repaired.

 

“We’ll gather together. Rally together. We’ll just make it happen,” he said.

 

 

I-94 Lane Restrictions for Patching

(La Porte County, IN) - Upcoming roadwork locally could present a challenge. According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, contractor Rieth-Riley Construction will begin a pavement patching project on I-94.

 

The work will begin on or after Thursday, INDOT officials said.

 

Eastbound and westbound I-94 will be reduced to two lanes east and west of U.S. 421. Approximately four miles of roadway will be impacted, and the work will be ongoing until the end of November.

 

According to INDOT, traffic will be shifted to the left inside lanes during phase one and to the right outside lanes during phase two.

 

INDOT encourages drivers to allow extra time when driving through this area and follow traffic directions carefully.

 

Motorists are also urged to slow down, exercise caution, and drive distraction-free through all work zones.

Safe Burglar Strikes B-Dubs

(La Porte, IN) - Money was taken from a safe during a burglary at a popular La Porte restaurant and bar.

 

According to police, officers were called at about 7:30 a.m. yesterday to Buffalo Wild Wings after an employee reporting for work noticed broken glass outside the building. Sometime during the night, the investigation shows a glass door on the patio was shattered to gain entry.

 

The burglar ventured past the kitchen area and cut a hole in a wall to get inside an office where a safe was kept. Then, another hole was cut in the safe to gain access to the money inside of it, police said.

 

According to police, at least $1,500 was taken, but the owner was still tallying the final amount.

 

So far, an arrest has not been made, but the case remains under investigation.

Charges in Drunken Pursuit

(La Porte, IN) - A suspected drunk driver allegedly kept fleeing police until his flat tires forced him to stop in downtown La Porte.

 

Corey Storball, 41, of Michigan City, is charged with operating while intoxicated, resisting law enforcement, and other counts.

 

According to court documents, an officer on October 14 tried pulling over Storball for failing to use a turn signal and the license plate light on the back of his van being out on E. Michigan Boulevard in Michigan City.

 

Storball pulled to the side of the road but kept traveling at under 10 miles per hour, police said.

 

Police said he returned to the road and traveled over 30 miles per hour when he ran a red light before heading southbound on U.S. 35.

 

Court documents revealed the chase never exceeded 56 miles per hour.

 

Once entering La Porte, the back tires on the van were flattened by stop sticks placed on the road by officers with La Porte Police.

 

The van pulled into the Phillips 66 station on Pine Lake Ave. and backed into a police vehicle involved in the pursuit.

 

According to police, the pursuit continued downtown, where the van was traveling on rims after the flattened tires came off. 

 

Eventually, police said the vehicle stopped at Lincolnway and Monroe Street because of the deflated tires and running of gas.

 

No blood alcohol level was revealed, but police noted multiple symptoms of impairment along with numerous empty containers of alcohol in the vehicle.

Ex-Wife Suspected in Vehicle Arson

(Michigan City, IN) - A woman is accused of setting fire to a vehicle belonging to her ex-husband in Michigan City. 25-year-old Anisa Higginbotham is charged with arson and mischief.

 

In May, police say a man woke up to his vehicle burning outside a home in the 400 block of Lincoln Avenue on the city’s west side. The fire also spread to his father’s vehicle. According to court documents, the victim suspected his ex-wife.

 

A few months later, police said they could place Higginbotham in the immediate area where the fire occurred when it was set by tracing the activity on her cell phone.

 

Higginbotham of Trail Creek could face anywhere from a 2 to 12-year sentence.

Council Reacts to Replacement of Police Chief

(Michigan City, IN) - There’s a new police chief today in Michigan City. Steve Forker, a 17-year member of the department, has officially taken over, replacing outgoing chief Dion Campbell. 

 

Mayor Duane Parry on Friday announced he was replacing Dion Campbell. Parry cited continued high gun violence as the reason for replacing the chief.

 

At last night’s Michigan City Common Council meeting, Councilman Bryant Dabney said Campbell did many good things to address crime that the mayor did not mention in his announcement. However, Dabney also felt Campbell took much of the blame.

 

“Hopefully, with the things that we have in place that are coming, we do start to curb some of the gun violence. Just like I worked with Chief Campbell before, I will continue to work with our new leadership as well,” Dabney said.

 

Councilman Don Przybylinski also defended Campbell. Przybylinski said the strategies he believes were put into place by the former chief to try and reduce crime should have been given more time to determine if they were successful before deciding to replace him.  

 

Przybylinski also wished Forker and the new members of his leadership team well in their new duties.

 

“Hopefully, you gentlemen will be able to turn things around,” Przybylinski said.

 

Parry was also criticized for failing to notify members of the city council right away of his decision.

 

“I was also embarrassed in regards to how we heard of it. I heard of it from a friend out in the county. It wasn’t professionally done,” said Councilman Gene Simmons.

 

Simmons was the Michigan City Police Chief from 1996 to 2004.

 

Forker is a 1999 graduate of New Buffalo High School. 

Fall Clean Up Dates Announced

(La Porte, IN) - Dates for the annual fall clean-up in La Porte have been announced.

 

According to the mayor's office, the clean-up is scheduled for November 7-11 for city residents to discard large and heavy trash.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said the clean-up is a bit later this year due to scheduling conflicts with RTS, the City's third-party trash vendor.

 

"We normally provide Fall Clean Up during the month of October, but we are hopeful that these extra two weeks will give residents the time they need to get rid of unwanted items before we head into winter," Dermody said.

 

  • All trash must be securely tied in bags;
  • All mattresses must be fully wrapped in plastic or otherwise sealed/covered;
  • All large items, such as small furniture, must be fully wrapped in plastic or otherwise sealed/covered; and
  • Waste generated from the construction, renovation, repair, and demolition of residences will not be collected as part of Fall Cleanup.

"Keeping our community clean has been a top priority for this administration, and the bi-annual clean-ups have been an incredible tool. I hope to see homes throughout our community taking advantage." 

 

RTS workers will not pick up any trash that is not in compliance.

 

Residents with questions can visit www.LaPorte.RTS.com or call 833-787-1234.

Half Century Season for Symphony Orchestra

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte County Symphony Orchestra will soon open its 50th Anniversary Season next month. 

 

"AMERICANA," a salute to American Composers, is scheduled for Saturday, November 5th, at 7:00 p.m., at La Porte's Civic Auditorium.

 

The concert will open with Aaron Copland's iconic Fanfare for the Common Man, followed by Joan Tower's Fanfare for the Uncommon Woman. The concert's first half will round out with selections from Copland's Rodeo.
 

For the concert's second half, Music Director Dr. Carolyn Watson and the LCSO will be joined by three incredibly professional and talented vocalists who will delight the audience with their renditions from Gershwin's Porgy & Bess and Bernstein's West Side Story

 

The soloists are Amanda Sheriff, Soprano; Alexander Scheuermann, Tenor; and Nicholas Davis, Bass-Baritone. 

 

More information about the concert can be found at: https://lcso.net/event/opening-subscription-americana/

 

An Instrument Petting Zoo will also be conducted from 6:00 p.m. - 6:45 p.m. on the main floor of the Civic Auditorium, with LCSO musicians demonstrating the various instruments for potential young musicians. 

 

Single balcony tickets are $22.00 for Adults and $20.00 for Seniors (60 and older). Students are admitted for free.

 

Tickets can be purchased at: https://lcso.net/event/opening-subscription-americana/ or Roxy Music in La Porte. 

 

Tickets will also be available at the door on the evening of the concert. 

 

Doors to the Civic Auditorium will open at 6:00 p.m., with the concert beginning at 7:00 p.m. (CDT).

Firefighters Applauded for Dousing Major Blaze

(La Porte, IN) - Everyone involved in putting out what could have been the largest fire in the history of La Porte was recognized last night.

 

La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder presented the October 5 blaze at the old American Rubber plant during last night's city council meeting. He also named each of the firefighters present during the meeting.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody, who described the fire as "one of the worst in the history of our community," paused the meeting so the firefighters could be greeted by city council members and pose for pictures.

 

"This is an opportunity tonight to say thank you," Dermody said.

 

La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said it took close to six million gallons of water and more than 60 hours of collective work to extinguish the blaze. He also credited Kankakee Township Volunteer Fire Department members for saving the nearby water tower along Brighton Street.

 

Snyder said the tower adjacent to the property was at risk from the extreme heat of the fire softening the steel, but the water was kept on the metal to keep it cool.

 

Water was also kept on the flames closest to the tower.

 

The fire's cause is still unknown but remains under investigation. No human remains in the rubble or gasoline were detected, but arson has not been ruled out.

 

Snyder said the focus now is finding people who might have been inside the structure before the fire due to reports from nearby residents of the structure getting broken in recent years.

 

Firefighters from Coolspring Township and Center Township also assisted with putting out the fire, which destroyed the building.

 

Snyder said about one-third of the structure contained expired containers of hand sanitizer being stored there until it could be transported to an incinerator near Plymouth for disposal.

 

Storm Brings Early Winter to Area

(North Webster, IN) - Anywhere from one to four inches of snow has fallen in some parts of Northern Indiana and Southwest Michigan.

 

The National Weather Service reports the heavy, wet lake effect snow brought down trees and limbs in that area. The storm also caused power outages.

 

According to the National Weather Service, some roads were snow-covered and slick.

 

There were wind gusts of 40-50 mph near the Lake Michigan shoreline and 30 to 40 mph winds inland through the afternoon and evening on Monday.

 

There was a mixture of snow and freezing rain with no accumulation closer to Lake Michigan.

Disabled Boat Claimed by Storm

(Michigan City, IN) - A pleasure boat in Michigan City was heavily damaged from being repeatedly slammed against a concrete wall by high waves during the storm.

 

Service 1 Marine owner Bob Stratton said the 36 foot boat was heading here from Chicago when it ran out of gas on Saturday.

 

The U.S Coast Guard towed it into the harbor and left the boat tied against the concrete wall along Trail Creek.  

 

Stratton said the storm producing at least 10 to 12 foot waves on the lake blew in 24 hours later.

 

He said even the waves in the harbor were large enough to send the boat crashing over and over again into the wall.

 

Stratton and his crew were called out yesterday by the owner of the boat to try and limit the damage.

 

"The damage had already been done.  The boat is absolutely totaled," he said. 

 

There was an attempt to place bumpers between the boat and wall but it was just too dangerous with the boat bobbing up and down in the water by as much as five to six feet.

 

“It literally bent the steel in the wall from so much force from the boat hitting it.  Nobody can do anything until this storm passes,” Stratton said.

 

Stratton said the pounding separated the deck from the hull and holes were also poked into the vessel.

 

He said the boat should have been taken deeper into harbor and left at a dock where conditions were not quite as rough.

 

Stratton said the owner was driving the boat here for him to store in his yard near the Michigan line during the winter.

 

 

Storm Produces Power Outages

(La Porte County, IN) - The gusty winds from yesterday and this morning have produced power outages throughout the area.

 

According to NIPSCO, there were 464 customers without power in the Michigan City area before 6 a.m.  There were also 257 NIPSCO customers without service in the La Porte area.

 

According to Indiana Michigan Power Company, there were just a half dozen customers before 6 a.m. without power in the New Carlisle area and 69 customers with no service in the Union Pier area in southwest Michigan.

 

In addition to strong winds, there has been heavy rain at times mixed with freezing precipitation.

Meer Points Blame at Mayor

(Michigan City, IN) - The former mayor of Michigan City says the change in leadership at the police department has more to do with the current administration's failure.

 

Mayor Duane Parry announced on Friday that continued high crime and turnover at the department were the primary factors in replacing police chief Dion Campbell.

 

Campbell was appointed to the job by former Mayor Ron Meer before Meer left office in 2019.

 

Meer believes that a police chief alone could not reduce crime. He also thinks that the problem with continued high crime and turnover stems from a recent increase in pay for officers not being large enough and a lack of other resources at the department, like new technology. 

 

Meer said officers keep leaving, and the tight-fisted spending decisions were an example of the chief being restricted in his efforts to run the department.

 

He said the money was for more significant raises from sources like the federal COVID-19 relief dollars awarded to local municipalities nationwide.

 

"We could be putting a police department in place that other officers from other cities are wanting to come to, but they're not utilizing the money. There's no leadership out of the mayor's office and the prosecutor's office, in my opinion supporting local law enforcement," Meer said.

 

Meer also praised Campbell for being well-liked in the community and a very good communicator.

 

Officer Steve Forker will become police chief beginning on Wednesday.

 

Campbell's replacement comes several weeks after the mayor allegedly wrecked his city-owned vehicle at the lakefront and fled. Campbell brought in state police to investigate the alleged hit-and-run to avoid any conflict of interest.

 

According to a police report, the exhaust system was ripped off the vehicle by an above-ground pipe the mayor allegedly drove over at Washington Park. So far, no charges have been filed in the case.

 

Meer, who lost his bid for a third consecutive term to Parry by less than 100 votes, said he's still considering a run for mayor next year.

Leaf Pick Up Scheduled

(Michigan City, IN) - The Michigan City Street Department will begin fall leaf pickup on Monday, October 31.

 

Residents who want weekly pickups of their leaves may use compost/yard waste bags available from area merchants, according to the mayor's office. 

 

Officials said that leaves in paper yard bags or 32-gallon trash cans should be placed in the front of the property and picked up by the Refuse Department with regular compost day until the week ending November 18.

 

The Street Department request that residents cooperate by following these simple rules:
 

  1. No plastic bags are to be used; however, you may use compost yard waste bags or 32-gallon containers
  2. Branches, rocks, and other debris must be kept out of the leaf piles
  3. Leaf piles should be loose in large piles in front of the property as close to the curb as possible but away from the sewer drains, utility equipment, and fire hydrants.
  4. Please keep animal waste out of piles. 
  5. NO GARBAGE TOTERS, PLEASE!
  6. Leaves will not be picked up in alleys.
  7. The Street Department will work on Saturdays in all areas as needed, taking off for Thanksgiving and working the following Friday, November 25.

Deer for Hungry Goal Climbs

(Ft. Wayne, IN) - About a quarter of a million meals of venison will help feed the hungry throughout Indiana if the number of deer donated to the cause by hunters meets this year’s goal.

 

In 2011, Hoosiers Feeding Hungry near Ft. Wayne started a program where hunters statewide can take a deer to a local meat processor involved in the effort. The one and two-pound packages of venison from the butcher shop are given to local food pantries and soup kitchens.

 

“All of the meat stays in the community in which it’s donated,” said Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry Executive Director Deb Treesh.

 

Last year, her organization paid the meat processing costs totaling more than $64,000.

 

Treesh said the effort has a measurable impact because just one deer, on average, provides up to 200 meals. In addition, the drive has grown from just five donated deer initially to over 770 last year from more hunters and butchers learning about the program.

 

Treesh said this year’s goal is 1,200 deer, yielding about 60,000 pounds of meat. She said the goal was set high to meet a growing need for food assistance primarily from higher meat prices caused by inflation and the federal government recently scaling back on the number of commodities it gives to food pantries.

 

In Indiana, about 800,000 residents struggle to have enough to eat, and 47 percent of those individuals, based on their income, do not qualify for food stamps, said Katie DeForest, Fund Development Director at the organization.

 

“People are having a harder time stretching their budgets to make ends meet,” DeForest said.

 

Treesh said about a third of the revenue for the organization comes from an annual fundraiser in September. Other sources of dollars for the group include grants.

 

“The more meat we need, the more finances we need,” Treesh said.

 

The donated meat comes mostly from deer harvested in reduction zones or areas where populations need thinning and during traditional hunting seasons.

 

Deer started to be taken from reduction zones like the Indiana Dunes in mid-September.

 

Archery season in Indiana runs from October 1 to January 1, while the firearms and muzzleloader seasons each last for about two weeks in November and December.

 

Treesh said she doesn’t know how many deer have been donated this year, but the Indiana Department of Natural Resources is helping with a more aggressive spread-the-word campaign to drive up giving further.

 

Hunters could even donate just a few pounds of venison from a deer or whatever might be left in their freezers to contribute to the cause. Hunters can also give money.

 

“If they don’t want to give up their deer, I get it. I respect that. They can even donate financially. Every dollar makes a difference,” Treesh said.

 

Another 100 or so deer were donated to the cause last year through the DuBois County Sportsman’s Club, which partners with Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry in the effort.

 

Conservation Officer Tyler Brock said the DNR, mainly through e-mails and social media, encourages hunters to donate and puts them in touch with participating meat processors in their area. Hunters could take as many as ten deer in state-designated reduction zones during the season.

 

“If a hunter has a surplus of deer on their property that they’re trying to manage and they need to take more deer than what their family is going to eat, this gives them an opportunity to donate that deer and put it to good use,” Brock said.

 

Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry also accepts livestock donations in a program that began in 2012.

 

Last year, Treesh said Indiana farmers and 4-H youth contributed well over 200,000 pounds of meat from animals like beef cows, hogs, lambs, and goats.

Two Houses Burn Again on Same Morning

(Michigan City, IN) - There were two house fires in Michigan City this morning. Officials said the structures in the 1600 block of Tennessee Street and Coolspring Avenue were heavily damaged.

 

According to the fire department, a smoke detector in one of the residences woke up a sleeping couple, whose lives were likely saved as a result. None of the occupants in the burning homes were injured, but a firefighter did suffer minor injuries in a fall off a porch.

 

The causes of both fires are under investigation.

 

It’s the second time in eight days that two houses in Michigan City were burning on the same morning. The previous fires during the early morning hours on October 9 occurred on Ohio Street and E. Homer Street.

 

No injuries were reported in either of those blazes, which also caused extreme damage to both residences. Those fires also remain under investigation.

 

First Taste of Winter

(La Porte County, IN) - There’s been some freezing precipitation this morning in La Porte County and southwest Michigan.

 

Before sunrise, there was sleet in New Buffalo and a mixture of rain and snow in the Rolling Prairie area. 

 

There was enough freezing precipitation early this morning for there to be light slush covering the pavement on Indiana 2 in the Rolling Prairie area. Later in the morning, tiny flakes of snow or ice appeared to be falling in La Porte.

 

Duane Werner, Superintendent of the La Porte County Highway Department, said it’s a little early to get trucks ready for plowing. However, he said a few trucks were made winter-ready because of the weather forecast calling for freezing precipitation.

 

“We got a handle of trucks equipped with our salt spreaders just in case,” Werner said.

House Fire in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - A house caught fire in Michigan City this morning.

 

At about 5:40 a.m., firefighters were called to the 1600 block of Tennessee Street to report heavy smoke and flames coming from the home.

 

Further details, so far, have not been released by the fire department. However, emergency radio traffic indicated the fire was mostly extinguished in less than one hour.

 

Damage also seemed heavy, judging by firefighters on their radios indicating the flames spread into the attic.

 

We’ll provide more specifics once they’re made available.

Cougars Upset Elkhart on Senior Night

(New Carlisle, IN) - After a rough loss last week to Class 6A juggernaut Penn for their first loss of the season, New Prairie would have hoped for an easier bounce-back opponent than tenth-ranked Elkhart. But the Cougars bounced back in a big way, dominating the Lions 35-7 Friday night at Amzie Miller Field.

 

 “It’s really hard when you’re playing schools that are that large back to back weeks. All you can do is play the team that’s in front of you,” said New Prairie coach Casey McKim. “I felt like we brought a lot of focus and intensity to our practices, and it showed up this week with much better results.”

 

Junior quarterback Marshall Kmiecik lit the team’s offensive fuse with a 30-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. By the time Jacob Mrozinski rumbled over the goal line for a one-yard score 25 seconds into the second quarter, the fat lady wasn’t singing, but New Prairie fans could hear her warming up. Mrozinski, a 250-pound offensive lineman and sometimes short-yardage specialist, repeated the effort from six yards out just before halftime, extending New Prairie’s lead to 21-7.

 

The Cougar defense held Elkhart’s potent offense at bay for most of the night. Hayden Scott intercepted a pass on a promising Elkhart drive in the 3rd quarter. The sophomore safety also contributed nine tackles on the night. “The biggest thing was really being physical at the point of attack, making them earn everything,” said McKim. “Our kids didn’t give up any loose yardage.”

 

Kmiecik punctuated the effort with a five-yard touchdown run in the 4th quarter. He finished the game with 161 rushing yards on 19 carries.

 

Running back Noah Mungia celebrated Senior Night with a touchdown and 279 rushing yards on 23 carries.

 

New Prairie opens sectional play at home next Friday against Kankakee Valley.

Michigan City Mayor Replacing Chief of Police

(Michigan City, IN) -  On Friday evening Michigan City Mayor Duane Parry made a major announcement via a press release.

 

Dion Campbell is being relieved of his duties as Chief of Police. He has served in that role since October 2019.

 

Parry cited increasing gun violence coupled with too many officers leaving the department as the primary reasons for making the move.

 

Effective Wednesday October 19, Officer Steve Forker will become Michigan City’s new Chief. Parry also announced that Marty Corley will serve as the department’s Chief of Operations. Dave Cooney will become MCPD Chief of Services.

Slicer Football Falls to Portage

(PORTAGE, INDIANA) - The La Porte football team traveled to Portage Friday, hoping to build on the momentum gained in last week’s 21-12 win over Michigan City. Instead, the Slicers struggled in all phases of the game, falling to Portage 28-6 in the wind and rain.

 

There was no scoring in the first quarter, but plenty of turnovers. Portage lost two fumbles in the La Porte red zone. The Slicers re-gifted the Indians after the 2nd Portage fumble by losing a fumble at their own 15.

 

Portage took advantage of the Slicer miscue and scored the game’s first points at the 11:20 mark of the 2nd quarter on a 4th and goal 2-yard run by Terrell Craft. Adam Melton kicked the extra point, and Portage led 7-0. This 15-yard drive took seven plays.

 

A sensational punt by Jack Doty pinned Portage inside their 1-yard line. From there, the Indians used 12 plays to cover 99 yards. Portage converted on several key 3rd down plays. The drive was capped off at the 3:06 mark when freshman quarterback Kodie Young hit JoJo Mabon for a 35-yard touchdown pass. Melton’s kick made it 14-0.

 

La Porte couldn’t move the ball on their ensuing possession. After a Doty punt and a Portage penalty, the Indians were on their own 43 with under 40 seconds left in the half. Young found Craft wide open in the middle of the field on their first play. He ran it in untouched for a 57-yard touchdown. Melton’s kick made it 21-0 at the half.

 

The rain picked up in the 2nd half, and Portage continued to move the ball while the Slicers struggled offensively. Craft scored his 3rd touchdown at the 3:16 mark of the 3rd on an 8-yard run capping an 11-play 54-yard drive. Melton’s kick made it 28-0 at the end of 3.

 

The Slicers did get on the board with 4:19 left in the game when Dylan Salisbury hit Tommy Samuelson on a 6-yard pass, capping a 10-play, 48-yard scoring drive. However, Doty’s kick was blocked, and the game ended 28-6 Portage.

 

Salisbury, who was pressured constantly by the Portage rush, was 8-22 for 63 yards passing. Nathan Donah rushed 13 times for 45 yards. Ollie Kring caught three passes for 24 yards and ran for 21 yards on three carries. Drew Flores and Tommy Samuelson each caught two balls for 18 yards. Samuelson scored La Porte’s only touchdown.

 

The Slicers and Portage both finished their regular seasons at 2-7. La Porte was 2-5 in DAC play, and the Indians finished 1-6.

 

Class 5A and 6A teams are all off next Friday. La Porte will host Valpo at Kiwanis Field on the 28th in the sectional opener.

Missing Westville Inmate Located

(Westville, IN) - Officials at the correctional facility in Westville spent Friday playing hide and seek with a missing inmate.

 

During the morning census count, 31-year-old Dustin Lappin was unaccounted for. Officials said there was no indication that Lappin had left the facility, so the manhunt took place within the prison confines. As a precaution, nearby Westville High School spent most of the day under Secure status, in which everyone remained in the building and only visitors with administrative clearance were alllowed in.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Corrections, Lappin was eventually located inside the jail at about 7:41 Friday night.

 

Lappin has been serving an eight-year sentence for Robbery in Marion County.

First Indiana Flu Death of Season

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana health officials are encouraging Hoosiers to get vaccinated against influenza after confirming the first flu-related death in the state for the 2022-23 flu season.

 

No additional information about the patient was released due to privacy laws.

 

Last year, 82 Hoosiers died after contracting influenza, according to state health officials.

 

“Every flu season is different, but we expect to see a return of respiratory illnesses such as flu as more individuals relax the mitigation measures they took during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG.

 

“Getting an annual flu shot now, before activity picks up, is the best protection against what can be a serious illness for many Hoosiers,” Box said.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months and older get a flu vaccine yearly. Because infants younger than six months can’t be vaccinated, it’s important that anyone in a household where a young baby lives or visits get a flu shot to protect the child.

 

Box said the flu vaccine could be administered simultaneously as the new COVID-19 booster, which protects against two strains of COVID-19.

Shopping Spree with ATM Loot

(Michigan City, IN) - Charges are filed against a man accused of breaking into an ATM and taking over $55,000 in cash at Michigan City.

 

Malik Bunch, 25, is charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with Level 5 felony theft and Class A misdemeanor criminal mischief.

 

According to court documents, Bunch used a long crowbar to open the machine early on October 9 at First Trust Credit Union at 950 E. U.S. 20. Surveillance footage revealed he inserted a card and used the buttons on the keypad on the right side of the screen each time before prying on the ATM.

 

Eventually, he managed to open the top portion of the machine and fled in a car with the money, court documents revealed. As a result, the ATM suffered extensive damage and was beyond repair.

 

According to court documents, the video images helped identify the suspect, who resided at Canterbury Apartments at 2510 Chickadee Dr., just outside the city limits.

 

After obtaining a search warrant for the residence, officers went there and located Bunch along with $24,880 in a shoe box in the home, police said. Another $1,524 was found inside a Louis Vuitton purse in the bedroom.

 

The rest of the money, or at least a portion of it, appears to have been spent on new furnishings like televisions, kitchen appliances, a sofa, a high-top table and chairs, Playstation, a dresser, nightstands, and headboard for a king size bed, court documents revealed.

 

The former Hammond man was booked into the La Porte County jail on October 12 and was still held on a $30,000 bond. He could face an up to seven-year sentence if convicted on both charges.

Trick or Treating at History Museum

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte County Historical Society Museum will have trick-or-treating.

 

Admission into the museum is free for the Halloween candy giveaway.

 

The trick-or-treating is scheduled for October 29 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

 

Candy will be handed out inside the period rooms by a pioneer, Victorian, midcentury Madame, and other spooky characters from back in the day.

 

The museum is at 2405 Indiana Avenue on the southern edge of the La Porte city limits.

 

Arrest in Cash Heist from ATM

(Michigan City, IN) - Charges are filed against a man accused of breaking into an ATM and taking an undisclosed amount of cash in Michigan City.

 

Malik Bunch, 25, of Hammond, is charged with Level 5 felony theft and Class A misdemeanor criminal mischief.

 

According to police, Bunch broke into an ATM on October 9 at First Trust Credit Union on U.S. 20. Police did not reveal how the ATM was broken into. However, the ATM was considered a total loss because of the extensive damage.

 

Video surveillance helped identify the suspect. The vehicle used in the crime was located the next day on the city's southeast side.

 

During the execution of a search warrant, police said Bunch was located in the 2500 block of Chickadee Drive in Coolspring Township, not far from Michigan City High School.

 

How much money was taken was not revealed, but according to police, a large quantity of evidence was recovered from where Bunch was taken into custody.

 

Bunch was held in the La Porte County Jail on a $30,000 bond. Both counts, combined, could bring him an up to seven-year sentence.

Football Season Finale Tonight for Slicers

(La Porte, IN) - The regular season ends tonight in high school football for the Slicers as they take on the Portage Indians. 

 

The radio voice of the Slicers, Chip Jones, said both teams seem pretty evenly matched, but he gives the Slicers a slight edge.

 

Portage has just one win and no conference victories, while La Porte has two wins, and both were conference games. La Porte defeated Chesterton and Michigan City.

 

"I think they're like us. I think they've had some people hurt or getting some new people in there, and they're starting to click a little bit. I would think La Porte would be the slight favorite in that one," Jones said.

 

The game will be broadcast on 96.7 The Eagle at 6:45 p.m. with Jones and Steve Mannering's pregame show.

 

La Porte opens sectional play on October 28 at home against Valparaiso.

Complaints of Mice at Prison

(Westville, IN) - Complaints about mice at the prison in Westville are under investigation, according to Annie Goeller, spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Correction.

 

The investigation is in response to complaints from people like Tonya King, who said her loved one had told her some hair-raising stories about mice in his cell and elsewhere in prison since arriving there over a month ago.

 

King, who resides in South Bend, saw a few mice during a recent visit with her loved one at the prison.

 

Unfortunately, this is the time of year when mice begin moving indoors to get out of the colder weather, according to Goeller. But, if there is an issue, it will be remediated.

 

According to IDOC, Westville Correctional Facility has an average daily prison population of more than 3,000.

Temporary Ban on New Kittens at Shelter

(La Porte County, IN) - There’s a temporary ban on accepting kittens at the Jane Bernard Animal Adoption Center near the La Porte County Fairgrounds.

 

For three weeks, kittens beginning today are not being accepted because of problems with a potentially deadly virus.

 

Dr. Patrick Dorroh, one of the veterinarians working at the shelter, said the Feline Panleukopenia Virus is similar to the Parvo virus in dogs, but it affects mainly kittens and unvaccinated adult cats.

 

He said symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and even death.

 

“In kittens, it can be highly fatal,” he said.

 

FPV turned up sporadically in some of the kittens at the shelter over the past couple of months, and enough cases have surfaced recently to impose a temporary ban on accepting new kittens.

 

Dorroh said free adoptions for adult cats are also being offered to reduce the number of felines at the shelter as much as possible while undergoing an extensive cleaning.

 

The virus has not turned up in adult cats whose immunizations at the shelter are for medical-related things like FPV.

 

Dorroh says that adult cats at the shelter are safe to adopt. Unlike adult cats, FPV shots are not as effective in kittens because it can take up to 16 weeks for them to develop complete immunity after being given the vaccine.  

Stabosz Defends Candidates Forum Protest

(La Porte County, IN) - The La Porte County Democrat Party is attempting to tar and feather Republican La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz over his recent protest at a candidates’ forum. However, Stabosz claims the facts are being twisted by Democrats hoping to gain at the ballot box.  

 

Stabosz carried a sign at the forum hosted this week by the La Porte County League of Women Voters.  The sign read, “shame on the LaPorte LWV for trashing its nonpartisan heritage.”

 

Democtratic Party spokesman Corey Campbell said Stabosz allegedly told League of Women Voters co-chair Regina Ruddell that his one-person protest had to do with the LWV supporting reproductive freedom.

 

“Now, this single man in his 50s thinks he knows best for the women of this county, what choices they should have with their bodies in consultation with their doctor. Outrageous!” he said.

 

However, Stabosz said his one-person protest was not about abortion, and his sign proves it.

 

He said the purpose was about the LWV coming out in support of abortion after taking positions publicly on other political issues in recent years when the organization used to be more neutral on issues.

 

Stabosz said the once nonpartisan league used to educate the public about the candidates and voter participation.

 

However, he said the league has increasingly been taking sides on issues, and their positions lean more toward what’s favored by the Democratic Party. As a result, Stabosz said it’s becoming difficult for some Republican candidates to want to attend LWV forums out of fear questioning will be geared toward making them look bad.

 

However, calling the LWV nonpartisan, Campbell had a different view of Stabosz’s intentions.

 

“Make no mistake. Choice is on the ballot locally. Democrats are fighting to protect a woman’s right to choose. Republicans like Tim Stabosz are working to strip away those rights,” Campbell said.

 

Campbell said Stabosz is also in a position to help do it, calling him “the largest donor to the local Republican Party.” He also pointed out that Stabosz is the local Republican 463GOP club president.

 

Stabosz said what he told Ruddell had nothing to do with personal feelings about a woman’s right to choose. Instead, Stabosz said his message to her was taking a stance on another issue was “one more nail in the coffin for the league’s impartiality.”

 

Stabosz also noted his position on abortion is moderate.

 

“They’re trying to make it about abortion because they’re trying to paint me as radical on abortion. Well, I’m not radical on abortion,” Stabosz said.

Friedman: Signs Help Defamation Suit

(La Porte County, IN) - The attorney for La Porte County government is thanking a political opponent, saying both versions of his "Dump Sheila, Fire Friedman" campaign signs are helping the defamation of character lawsuit he filed against him.

 

Shaw Friedman said the signs help him prove that La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz acted with malice in spreading false information about him.

Stabosz has admitted to paying for both versions of the signs, something that Friedman claims prove guilt on the part of Stabosz. 

 

The original version of the sign shows a picture of Friedman with a bag of money beside his head, while the latest edition shows Friedman wearing a pair of sunglasses with dollar signs on the lenses.

 

Stabosz said the signs communicate that Friedman profits from his control of decisions made by elected officials such as La Porte County Commissioner Sheila Matias.

 

Stabosz has often referred to Friedman as a puppeteer and Matias as one of his puppets.

 

"I want to thank Mr. Stabosz for publicly acknowledging what we already knew, which is he created, produced, paid for, and placed those signs. He's clearly done this without the benefit or advice from counsel because all he's done, paying out of his own pocket, is help us prove malice in my defamation case," Friedman said.

 

Friedman said the standard for proving defamation of character is a defendant knowing their actions against someone were false or in reckless disregard of the truth.

 

He said Stabosz is fully aware a judge ruled after a court hearing a few months ago that he failed to show just cause for having the defamation case against him dismissed.

 

"He knows for a fact that Elkhart County Judge Stephen Bowers has stated Mr. Stabosz has provided no evidence to back up claims of billing fraud, conflict of interest, or any wrongdoing," he said.,

 

"He's got nothing but a blinding personal hatred, and all he's done is helping us prove our case of defamation," Friedman said.

 

In response, a chuckling Stabosz said the judge's ruling came at a point in the case where he didn't have to offer proof but could, had the legal proceedings reached that point.

 

He also called the signs a form of comedy, similar to harmless skits about public officials on programs like Saturday Night Live or cartoons of political figures in the newspapers.

 

"There's nothing in that sign. It's satire. There's nothing defamatory about showing the picture of someone with the money bag next to them or putting sunglasses on them with dollar signs up," he said.

 

Stabosz also said even though he intended for the signs to communicate "what's really going on" in county government, he maintained he was speaking the truth about Friedman, and it's up to Friedman to prove at a high level that his claims against him are false for the case not to be thrown out.

 

The Indiana Court of Appeals has agreed to hear Stabosz's appeal of the lower court judge's ruling not to dismiss the case.

 

Stabosz said he's very optimistic about gaining a favorable appellate court decision.

 

"I would love to go to trial if we have to, but it's not going to go to trial because this lawsuit is frivolous. I'm confident with 100-percent certainty that the things that I have said are all defensible," Stabosz said.

 

The Associated Press and several other media organizations have intervened in the case out of concern for public comment, and the work of journalists could be restricted depending on the outcome of the appeal.

 

They want the appellate court to base its ruling on a standard that doesn't infringe upon freedom of speech in areas like public comment and the ability of journalists to get to the facts.

 

In a letter dated August 2 to Friedman's attorneys, Steve Key, legal counsel for the Hoosier State Press Association, said he felt their case against Stabosz was strong on the point of malice.

 

Key also said the media organizations would not have become involved in Stabosz's appeal had the lower court judge, in making his ruling, used the standard they preferred to avoid infringing on First Amendment rights.

 

"Our position is strictly focused on the legal standard required for a motion to dismiss to be defeated," Key said.

Alleged Drug Mule Nabbed Locally

(La Porte County, IN) - Enough marijuana to keep a village of users stoned for a while was snared by La Porte County Police.

 

The alleged drug mule, Colton Kise, 24, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with dealing in marijuana as a level 5 felony.

 

According to court documents, the man was pulled over for failing to use his turn signals while changing lanes to pass vehicles on October 8 on the Indiana Toll Road near Rolling Prairie.

 

During a traffic stop, Deputy Wade Wallace observed numerous brand new-looking duffel bags in the back seat, along with a duffel bag on the floor and a backpack on the passenger seat, according to court documents.

 

Kise explained he was returning from a three-day trip to Illinois. The officer felt it was odd to have so many duffel bags for such a short trip and became even more suspicious at the driver's right hand shaking badly. The officer became even more suspicious when the driver revealed he was unemployed, and a receipt disclosed the cost of renting the vehicle was $1,700.

 

According to court documents, the investigation revealed Kise caught a flight to Oregon to transport the marijuana in the vehicle to his home state of Pennsylvania in return for a cash payment. Kise explained it was his first attempt at being a drug mule.

 

Court documents revealed all of the marijuana in the duffel bags and more found in the car's trunk weighed 245 pounds.

 

Kiser could face anywhere from a one to six-year sentence.

Indiana Supreme Court to Decide Abortion Law

(Indianapolis, IN) - It looks like the state's new abortion law will be decided by the Indiana Supreme Court.

 

The high court has stopped the state from enforcing the law until it decides whether the ban on a vast majority of abortions violates the state constitution.

 

Abortions until 22 weeks of pregnancy are still allowed in the state until at least mid-January when the high court could make a ruling.

 

There was already a temporary hold on enforcing the new law because of a ruling by a judge in downstate Owen County.

 

Experts say the Indiana Supreme Court getting involved will likely mean a quicker final decision since the matter can skip going before the Indiana Court of Appeals before advancing to the high court.

 

Indiana Right to Life stated it's disappointed with the freeze on the new law until the matter is settled.

 

"We are deeply disappointed the Indiana Supreme Court will allow the injunction against Indiana's new abortion law to remain in effect pending appeal," IRL said.

NIPSCO Projects Home Heating Cost Hike

(Merrillville, IN) - The cost of heating a home for a typical NIPSCO customer this winter is projected to increase by nearly 20 percent.

 

According to NIPSCO, the reason is an increase in natural gas prices nationwide.

 

From November 1 to March 1, the average natural gas residential customer using 615 therms can expect to pay about $661 for the season, according to NIPSCO. In comparison, NIPSCO said the average cost last year based on equal usage during the same period was $559.

 

“This is in line with trends across much of the country,” NIPSCO said.

 

The price estimates consider market forecasts, supply trends, and storage levels, and they’re based on normal weather projections.

 

According to NIPSCO, customers experiencing financial difficulties are encouraged to visit nipsco.com/assistance or call NIPSCO’s Customer Care Center as soon as possible to determine what options might help.

 

Some of those solutions include flexible payment plans, including a three-month or six-month option for all customers and a 12-month option for eligible LIHEAP customers.

Arcade Opening in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - A new business opening in La Porte should be a major attraction for kids, young and old.

 

Full Tilt Arcade and Pinball at 701 North Fail Road will have its grand opening on Thursday at 3 p.m.

 

Ben Konowitz and Ryan Hart, both of La Porte, are the owners of the first arcade the city has seen for many years. There are 20 pinball machines, roughly 40 arcade games, and Skee-Ball and other fun things to do.

 

"We're constantly heading out of town to go find something to do, so we're hoping to be able to bring people to La Porte and keep people local," Hart said.

 

Konowitz said the facility would operate on a card reader system allowing money to be put on a card at the customer service station. The card can then be used to activate the games.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody played Skee-Ball during a Tuesday visit to promote the business's opening and gave credit to the owners for responding to popular demand.

 

"Everyone has said we need something more for kids to do in the city of La Porte," Dermody said.

Fentanyl Sales Now During Football Practice

(La Porte, IN) - The selling of fentanyl in La Porte has allegedly happened not just from a barber shop but now during a youth football practice.

 

Michael Ortiz, Jr., 32, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with dealing in a narcotic drug and was being held on a $100,000 bond.

 

According to court documents, Ortiz, on August 8, was watching his son at football practice on the grounds of the former Boston Middle School at 1000 Harrison Street. The La Porte man and alleged buyer agreed to a $200 purchase while communicating on Facebook Messenger.

 

Police said Ortiz agreed to conduct the transaction during football practice since he was watching his son. Ortiz allegedly walked over to a vehicle that had just pulled into the former school's parking lot and gave the buyer ten blue-colored fentanyl pills for $200 through the passenger side window.

 

Angel Duarte, 32, is facing similar charges in La Porte Circuit Court for allegedly selling fentanyl pills on two separate occasions from his barber shop, "Angel Cutz," on Ohio St. on the city's east side.

 

Police said the transactions, each for $240, occurred in late July.

 

According to investigators, the fentanyl was from Mexico.

Farm Animals Die in Barn Fire

(La Porte County, IN) - Several horses belonging to children in 4-H were among the farm animals perishing in a LaPorte County pole barn fire this morning.

 

Kankakee Township volunteer firefighters responded just after 6 AM to 2828 N. 500 East in Rolling Prairie. 

 

At least four of the five horses inside the building were killed, according to property owner Mike Eckovich. He said the other horse was unseen since the fire may have escaped the burning 40 x 40 metal-sided structure.

 

Eckovich said all half dozen or so goats and each one of the roughly two dozen baby chickens inside also died in the blaze.

 

Eckovich was inside his home about 200 feet away from the pole barn when he heard noise from what he thought was a thunderstorm moving in. He then ran outside after seeing an “orange glow” through a window.

 

“Within ten minutes, it went from a little flame inside to the whole thing being completely engulfed,” Ekovich said.

 

The fire also destroyed a horse trailer next to the pole barn.

 

Four goats inside a pen beside the burning structure were saved by his 19-year son tearing into the metal cage.

 

“My son just ripped the fence apart on the outside and got them out of there,” Ekovich said.

 

Eckovich said there was enough time to move another horse trailer away from the flames safely, but the rest was a complete loss. 

 

Eckovich, the owner of a nearby dairy farm on 350 East, said horses and goats were raised on the property for his 4-H daughters, ages 9 and 12, to show during the LaPorte County Fair.

 

Kankakee Township Fire Chief Chip Winters said damage to the structure was too extreme to identify what started the fire quickly.

 

“It was pretty much on the ground when we got there,” Winters said.

 

However, Winters said an extension cord plugged into a heat lamp inside the building to keep the baby chickens warm might have been the cause.

 

Firefighters from Springfield Township assisted in extinguishing the blaze.

 

Pole Barn Fire This Morning

(La Porte County, IN) - Firefighters were called to a structure fire in the Rolling Prairie area this morning.

 

Just after 6 a.m., there was a report of a pole barn fully engulfed in flames in the area of 200 North and 500 East.

 

Horses were reported to still be inside the structure.

 

The Kankakee Township Fire Department responded and later asked for assistance from Springfield Township firefighters.

 

We’ll provide more details once they become available.

Motorcycle Driver Impaired in Double Fatality

(Michigan City, IN) - Alcohol was involved in two people killed in a motorcycle crash in Michigan City over the summer.

 

The victims were 41-year-old Kevin McCullough and 43-year-old Jennifer Houser, both from Illinois.

 

Police said they were on a motorcycle eastbound on Homer Street when the driver ran a stop sign and left the road at Cleveland Avenue.

 

La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson recently received the blood alcohol test results on the driver. The amount of alcohol in his system was more than two times the .08-percent legal limit.

Record Fundraiser for Unity Foundation

(Michigan City, IN) - Unity Foundation of La Porte County raised a record-breaking total of over $700,000 to benefit 56 charitable causes with endowed funds at the foundation as part of its 30th Anniversary and La Porte County Gives event on October 1, 2022.

 

The 56 participating funds raised more than $370,000 during La Porte County Gives. An additional $310,000 match pool will be split among the causes in proportion to the amount they raised, and special prizes totaling $31,000 will be awarded.

 

"La Porte County Gives made history with record-breaking fundraising in a 30-hour period thanks to 640 generous donors," said Maggi Spartz, Unity Foundation President. "Each donation helps strengthen La Porte County now and forever and will further the work of many worthwhile efforts."

 

Leading the pack was the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra raising more than $90,000 - a record for any organization during a La Porte County Gives event. Family Advocates and Interfaith Community PADS rounded out the top three fundraisers.

 

The 30-hour online fundraising event culminated in a sold-out anniversary gala at Blue Chip.

 

Past and present Unity Foundation Board Members, donors, nonprofit leaders, young professionals, elected officials, and community members came together to celebrate the special anniversary and be part of the record-breaking fundraising campaign.

 

Since 1992, the Unity Foundation of La Porte County has served donors, nonprofits, and local communities.

 

As La Porte County's community foundation, it manages over $40 million in assets, administers more than 325 charitable funds, and has distributed more than $22 million through direct grants and scholarships.

Gunfire During Fight Charges

(Michigan City, IN) - An arrest has been made in connection with gunfire during a fight in Michigan City. Raymone Spires, 35, of Michigan City, is charged with level 6 felony Criminal Recklessness.

 

On August 30, Spires and several other individuals went to a home in the 400 block of York Street. During a large fight, Spires was seen removing a gun from his pocket and firing a shot from the front yard.

 

A woman told police she had to duck behind a trash receptacle to avoid being struck by the gunfire. Spires and the other people he showed up with fled in two separate vehicles.

 

Less than a week later, police said Spires was pulled over in Michigan City for not wearing a seat belt and questioned about the incident. Spires explained he fired a round from a pellet gun to stop the fighting. However, police said the spent shell casing recovered at the scene was from a .22 caliber gun.

 

According to police, Spires has prior convictions for crimes such as robbery, burglary, and battery.

 

The investigation shows tempers flared over a man following a break-up at the residence with a new girlfriend, court records disclosed.

Alleged Arsonist Caught on Camera

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man denied setting fire to two vehicles, but a surveillance camera captured his alleged actions.

 

James Bowlby, 70, is charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with two counts of arson.

 

According to court documents, emergency responders after 1 a.m. on October 1 found two vehicles fully engulfed in flames at a housing complex on Pine Tree Court on the city’s south side.

 

One of the victims advised she had a security camera facing the vehicles parked directly in front of her apartment.

 

The footage reviewed by police showed a man holding what looked like a white grocery bag with an unknown object or substance inside. The man walked between the vehicles, bent down and a flicker of flame began emerging from under one of the vehicles.

 

Police said the man was still bending down when the flame began intensifying. The man was identified as Bowlby, who lives in one of the nearby apartments at the complex.

 

When approached by investigators, police said Bowlby explained the last time he left his apartment was several hours ago for dialysis treatment. He was then informed about the man looking similar to him captured on the video.

 

According to court documents, a jacket and black shoes identified as worn by the man in the footage were also located in his apartment.

 

No light was shed on the motive.

 

Bowlby could face anywhere from a 2 to 12-year sentence on each level 4 felony count.

Kite Surfer Death Drowning Related

(Michigan City, IN) - Authorities are investigating the death of a man while he was taking kite surfing lessons on Lake Michigan in Michigan City.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the victim was 56-year-old Douglas Tolle of Bremen, Ind.

 

After 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 8, emergency responders were called about a man who nearly drowned near Washington Park Beach.

 

Tolle was reportedly taking part in a kite surfing lesson when, for unknown reasons, he began struggling in the water. Tolle was unconscious when reached by other kite surfers and taken to shore, where CPR was started.

 

The victim, admitted to Franciscan Health in critical condition, passed away Monday afternoon. The preliminary cause of death was listed as cardiac arrest from drowning.

 

Indiana Conservation Officers were assisted at the scene by Michigan City Police, the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office, and the Michigan City Fire Department.

Man Shot by One of Numerous Rounds

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

 

According to police, the gunman entered a residence Sunday evening in the 1000 block of West 7th Street and began firing. One of the rounds struck the male victim in the leg.

 

Officers applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding, and the victim was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

 

Numerous spent shell casings were recovered from inside the residence.

 

So far, no arrests have been reported, but detectives continue to interview witnesses, search for video surveillance in the area and uncover other evidence in hopes of identifying the suspect, police said.

 

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Michigan City Police.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: Indiana State Representative D-09 Candidates

(LAPORTE, IN) - We continue our 2022 Election Coverage shows. In the studio are (D) Pat Boy and (R) Dion Bergeron, candidates for Indiana State Representative D-09. The candidates discussed their campaigns, abortion in Indiana, education issues, marijuana legalization, and more. 

 

Listen to the full episode below: 

 

Officer Rescues Man from Fire

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City Police officer kicked in a door to rescue a man from his burning house.

 

Officer Angelo Davenport pulling up to a fire at Homer and Pine streets early Sunday, forced his way inside the two-story home a short distance from the A.K. Smith Career Center.

 

Billy Greene, who reported the fire, said he witnessed the officer race upstairs and come back down with a man he described as being in his 60s. The homeowner was walking with the assistance of the officer.

 

Firefighters soon arrived and began putting water on the blaze, which engulfed the residence.

 

Greene was getting ready for bed when he saw an “orange glow” out of his window. The fire seemed to Greene to have started in the attached garage and spread a short distance to the residence.

 

Greene woke up his mother and went outside wearing only his boxer briefs to report the fire and soon witnessed the officer’s heroic actions. After realizing someone lived at the residence, the officer busted open the door and soon came out with the homeowner.

 

At the same time, firefighters were battling a house fire on Ohio Street. They were called to that fire about 15 minutes before the blaze on Homer Street. So far, the Michigan City Fire Department has not shed light on the investigations into the fires or any other details.

 

Angelo Davenport was sworn into his position as a patrol officer in 2017.

La Porte Agriculture Students Make History

(La Porte, IN) - Two students in agriculture classes sponsored by Future Farmers of America are the first from La Porte High School to serve as FFA District 1 officers.

 

Jackson Wainscott and Zoey Parrett Hoch said they've learned better communication and leadership skills from the experience.

 

Wainscott, a senior, is the FFA president at the high school and FFA District 1 Vice-President.

 

Parrett Hoch, a junior, is the high school FFA and District 1 Sentinel secretary. District 1 encompasses La Porte, Porter, Starke, Lake, Pulaski, Jasper, Newton, and White counties.

 

Jesi Davenport, an FFA instructor at the school for five years, encouraged both to run for District 1 officers. So Davenport was excited when learning both of them were chosen to serve as district officers during FFA's state convention over the summer.

 

"That's a pretty big deal because each school is allowed to have only two as a maximum," Davenport said.

 

As district officers, their responsibilities include planning, running, and welcoming guests to FFA-sponsored contests and events at schools throughout the district.

 

Wainscott said his involvement in FFA on a larger scale is more challenging. However, he has taken his development in communication and teamwork acquired in the FFA-sponsored classes locally to another level.

 

"It's a bit of a different learning curve, but it's definitely been fun so far," Wainscott said.

 

This year's kick-off to the FFA season was held for the first time at LaPorte High School.

 

Wainscott and Parrett Hoch were given more responsibilities than other district officers since it was their home school hosting the event. They'll also have significant roles in upcoming FFA events at the school, like a welding contest in December and a petting zoo in the spring.

 

Parrett Hoch, 16, said there's a lot more to do as a district officer than just being active locally, but, in return, she feels more like an FFA member.

 

"It's a lot different than just your chapter. You're involved. Involved. Involved," Hoch said.

 

Parrett Hoch said things she's learned most from her rise in FFA include becoming a better public speaker and being able to take charge of a situation. Initially, she was a bit reluctant to seek a district position, but now, she's glad she did.

 

The 17-year-old Wainscott has been showing pigs in 4-H since the third grade and taking agriculture classes since he was a freshman. He's never lived on a farm but wanted to join 4-H after watching the children of his parents' friends show livestock during the LaPorte County Fair.

 

"I thought it was really cool, so they let me use some of their pigs, and then I just kept going from there. I just fell in love with it," he said.

 

Wainscott used to show one or two pigs yearly at the fair but now trains and shows three pigs he keeps at a farm in the Stillwell area southeast of La Porte. Right now, he plans to study agriculture education at Purdue University in hopes of possibly becoming an agriculture teacher.

 

Parrett Hoch, 16, has been showing horses in 4-H since the third grade. She enrolled in the agriculture class as a sophomore. Hoch, who lives on a hobby farm with chickens, said she was five years old when introduced to horses by her mother, who had a desire to try riding a horse. They went to a stable and have made riding horses a hobby ever since.

 

The family later purchased a few horses and kept them at the stable where Parrett Hoch had gone to train and show them during the fair.

 

"I fell in love with riding horses, and I've been doing it ever since. I enjoy it," Hoch said.

 

Parrett Hoch is not sure about her plans yet after high school but envisions doing something related to what she's already experienced in 4-H and FFA.

 

"It's going to be something probably involved with animals most likely. I'm still working on it, but I like agriculture a lot," Hock said.

Arson Not Ruled Out in Old Factory Blaze

(La Porte, IN) - Police are helping to investigate a fire that destroyed a huge old factory building in LaPorte.

 

LaPorte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said the cause of the October 5 blaze was still not known but reasons not to rule out arson as a possibility still exist. While there was no gas or electric service to the old American Rubber Products plant at 315 Brighton Street, there were reports of people breaking in and possibly living in the structure over the years.

 

The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office planned to bring dogs to comb through the remains. The dogs are trained to detect the presence of any gasoline or some other fuel that would indicate arson.

 

Snyder said the dogs would also be used to uncover any bodies of people who may have been inside at the time of the fire and didn’t make it out.

 

Police are also involved just in case signs of foul play are later confirmed.

 

“If there’s a criminal act that has taken place, we definitely want them to be involved from the start,” Snyder said.

 

The flames spread rapidly because the building was used to store alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Snyder estimated one-third of the structure contained the highly flammable product, which would be taken to an incinerator near Plymouth for disposal.

 

Deanna Reese was not surprised to hear that arson was still a possibility. She grew up across the street from the plant until moving to Niles last year. Reese said it was not unusual to see people going inside the building and making noise after dark, sounds of people moving around at night, and glass breaking. 

 

Snyder said it took about six million gallons of water to completely extinguish the fire, which burned for more than 60 hours. A major fire in 2003 at the former Dye Plumbing and Heating building at Lincolnway and Madison Street required about 1.3 million gallons of water.

Homes Destroyed in Minutes Apart Fires

(Michigan City, IN) - Fires destroying two houses in Michigan City over the weekend are under investigation.

 

Officials say firefighters were called early Sunday to Ohio Street and then about 15 minutes later to East Homer Street. So far, the fire department has not released any further details.

 

Reports indicate a Michigan City Police officer rescued an individual from the burning structure on Homer Street.

 

We’ll provide more details as they become available.

 

Massive Drug Haul Intended for this Area, Smuggler Still at Large

(Denver, CO) - A drug bust that made national headlines over the summer has a closer tie to this area than originally reported.

 

On June 18, Colorado State Police discovered 114 pounds of fentanyl during a traffic stop west of Denver. Authorities said it was the largest amount of fentanyl seized on a U.S. highway, and recently they revealed that the massive shipment was destined for the South Bend area.

 

Details were withheld at the time because the driver, 27-year-old David Maldonado, had agreed to help federal agents arrest the local drug dealers. However, as first reported in the Denver Gazette, Maldonado gave DEA agents the slip. He apparently removed the tracker placed on his car and is now a fugitive.

 

Maldonado told authorities he had made at least one other sizable delivery of fentanyl from California to South Bend. Local police are now assisting federal agents in the case.

 

According to the DEA, the amount of fentanyl seized was enough to kill more than 25 million people. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is about 50 times more potent than heroin. Coroners in St. Joseph and La Porte Counties say that deaths from synthetic opioid overdose continue to rise.

 

Just this week, charges were filed against two La Porte men for dealing fentanyl. Read more about those arrests HERE and HERE.

 

Investigation of St. Joseph County Clerk Heats Up

(St. Joseph County, IN) - An investigation into possible election tampering in St. Joseph County now involves multiple levels of authority.

 

In July, the Indiana State Police confirmed that they were investigating St. Joseph County Clerk Rita Glenn for not properly securing a ballot storage room. Republican Party leaders allege that Glenn, a Democrat, had distributed multiple keys to a ballot storage area without their knowledge. State law calls for a two-lock system overseen by one representative of each political party.

 

Recently scrutiny of Glenn's activities has increased. Surveillance footage has come to light showing Glenn entering a locked ballot room with a bag, then soon after leaving the room and emptying the contents of the bag into a trash can. The video was time stamped the day before the May Primary.

 

The Indiana Secretary of State’s Office confirmed to HTNN that they are aware of the situation and are awaiting findings from the police investigation.

 

In the meantime, St. Joseph County Commissioners this week passed a resolution to conduct their own investigation. In a press release (excerpted below) they outlined multiple alleged irregularities in the Clerk’s handling of ballots that may have violated several state laws.

 

1. Violations of Indiana Code § 3-11-10-10 which delineates the process for storing absentee ballots.

2. Violations of Indiana Code § 3-11.5-4-(1-28) which specifically state the duties of the Clerk’s office, Election Board, the absentee voter board, and absentee workers in relation to the processing of absentee ballots.

3. Beverly Shelton, who pled guilty to Forgery and Falsely Making a Petition in 2012 in relation to St. Joseph County elections, was hired as an absentee ballot worker.

4. Video evidence of Rita Glenn, the elected St. Joseph County Clerk, disposing of materials after leaving the ballot storage room without a Republican present.

5. The St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners has received information that absentee ballots were removed from the secure ballot storage room the night before the May 2022 primary election by the Clerk’s office for “processing” after the appointed republican and appointed democrat Election Board members had left.

The Board is aware that the Indiana State Police are investigating unidentified criminal issues with the Clerk’s office and the handling of the ballots. The Board’s independent review is not intended to address possible criminal actions (although if criminal activity is uncovered, it would be reported immediately to the ISP). The intent is to ensure that the ballot processing procedures are in compliance with the letter of Indiana law.

 

Glenn’s lawyer, who is being paid to defend her by St. Joseph County, says there were no ballots in the storage room at the time she is seen removing contents.

Bomb Prank at MCHS No Laughing Matter

(Michigan City, IN) - Authorities at Michigan City High School were not amused by a social media prank between students earlier this week.

 

According to the Michigan City Police Department, two high school students, ages 14 and 15, allegedly made threatening comments about a bomb on social media.

 

School resource officer Sgt. Steve Forker worked with school officials to identify the students quickly and place them under arrest on charges of intimidation.

 

Gutsy Slicers Knock Off Michigan City

(MICHIGAN CITY, IN) - The La Porte Slicers, playing their most complete game of the year, spoiled Michigan City's Homecoming with a hard-fought 21-12 win.

 

La Porte received the opening kickoff. After picking up one first down, the Slicers faced a 3rd down and 19 from their own 28. Michigan City dialed up a blitz, but the Slicer coaching staff called a middle screen pass to Kai Jones that worked perfectly. Jones caught the Dylan Salisbury pass around the line of scrimmage and sprinted 72 yards for the game's first score. Jack Doty kicked the extra point, but the play was whistled dead as Michigan City jumped offside. After the ball was moved to the 1 ½ yard line, La Porte elected to go for 2. The attempt failed, and the Slicers led 6-0 with 9:21 left in the first quarter after the five-play 72-yard drive.

 

With 9 minutes remaining in the 2nd quarter, Jones struck again. Michigan City had all 11 defenders within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage. After taking a handoff, Jones popped through the right side of the line, blew past the first line of Wolves defenders, and sprinted 67 yards for his 2nd touchdown. The Slicers converted the 2-point conversion when Salisbury found Tommy Samuelson, who had fallen,  sitting in the end zone for the 2-point conversion. La Porte led 14-0.

 

Michigan City returned with two scores in the second quarter's final four minutes of the 2nd quarter. Using the size advantage of their offensive line, the Wolves ground out two rushing touchdowns. The first was a 7-yard run by their all-everything back Jaden Hart, then 3 minutes later, a 4-yard run by Derrick Coleman. The Wolves failed on both extra points, which played a huge part in this game. A high snap caused kicker Andrew Oleksiuk to miss his first kick of the season after the first touchdown. The Wolves failed on a 2-point attempt after the 2nd touchdown when the Slicer defense stuffed Hart for a loss.

 

La Porte led 14-12 at the half, but it felt like momentum had turned in the Wolves' favor.

 

The 3rd quarter was scoreless, with the Slicer defense bending but not breaking.

 

The Slicers scored a huge touchdown at the 7:00-minute mark of the 4th quarter. Freshman Lucas Del Rio, usually a defensive end, scored on a 1-yard run. This came from the Truck Power set La Porte uses in short-yardage situations. Quarterback Salisbury goes under center. Del Rio, fellow defensive end Sam Pressler, and linebacker Brennan Balka line up in a t-formation. Jack Doty kicked the all-important extra point to give LP a 9-point two-score lead of 21-12.

 

A significant part of the drive came when a Michigan City defender was called for a late hit out of bounds after Gavin Garrett had picked up a huge first down. The MC player was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for arguing and was ejected. This all turned into a 30-yard penalty setting up the final Slicer score.

 

Michigan City drove the ball to the Slicer 7. The Wolves' drive ended on a frightening play. On 3rd and goal from the 4, Wolves quarterback Tyler Bush went back to pass, couldn't find an open receiver, and decided to try and run it in. Diving for the end zone, he was hit hard just shy of the goal line fumbling into the end zone, and the Slicers recovered. Bush, who had gone headfirst toward the goal line, was down for several minutes. He eventually walked off the field with help.

 

La Porte was able to pick up two first downs and then run the clock out for their 2nd win.

 

There were plenty of standouts for the Slicers, Offensively quarterback Dylan Salisbury 8-15 for 176 and a touchdown pass. Kai Jones ran eight times for 68 yards with a rushing and receiving touchdown. Nathan Donah ran for 49 hard yards on 14 carries. Lucas Del Rio ran three times for 12 yards and a touchdown. Ollie Kring caught five passes for 71 yards. Tommy Samuelson caught 2 for 20 yards, including a 2-point conversion.

 

La Porte's defense was outstanding. Three times in the 2nd half, they stopped Michigan City on 4th and short deep in Slicer territory. Brennan Balka and Javelle Broome were great at the linebacker position. The defensive backfield of Drew Flores, Evan Back, Keegan Anderson, and Robbie Rompa shut down the Michigan City passing game. The defensive line, outweighed by 40lbs a man, kept Jaden Hart from breaking a big play.

 

La Porte is now 2-6 and will finish the regular season at Portage next Friday. Michigan City, also 2-6, will host undefeated Crown Point next week.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: LaPorte County Prosecuting Attorney Candidates

(LAPORTE, IN) - We continue our 2022 Election Coverage shows. In the studio were (R) Sean Fagan and incumbent (D) John Lake, candidates for LaPorte County Prosecuting Attorney. The candidates discussed their campaigns and their experience and answered questions from listeners. 

 

Listen to the full episode below: 

 

Old Factory a Possible Magnet for Vagrants

(La Porte, IN) - The former American Rubber plant in La Porte was possibly used for shelter by the homeless.

 

After the huge building on Brighton Street was destroyed by fire this week, several residents in the neighborhood reported people often broke into the structure.

 

Deanna Reese lived right across the street from the vacant facility for 40 years until moving to Niles, Michigan, in 2021. Reese continued seeing people enter the structure while visiting her mother, who still lives in her childhood home. She said people would go inside through the front entranceway in what used to be the office.

 

Reese also heard the sounds of people inside the building.

 

La Porte Code Enforcement Director Jeff Batchelor said blankets and other evidence of people having been inside the structure were discovered when they were called to investigate complaints.

 

La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.

 

The building was being used to store a significant amount of expired plastic bottles of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, which was blamed for how quickly the fire spread.

 

The property is expected to be cleared soon because of the destruction from the fire.   

Alleged Fentanyl Dealer Charged

(La Porte, IN) - A 21-year-old La Porte man is accused of dealing the deadly and highly addictive drug fentanyl.

 

Cannon Breneman is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with two counts of dealing in a narcotic drug. According to court documents, Breneman was caught selling fentanyl from a residence in the 800 block of Harrison Street. The alleged transactions occurred about a week apart in early August.

 

Breneman allegedly sold nearly two grams of fentanyl in those exchanges for a combined $360.

 

Breneman could face anywhere from a 2 to 12-year sentence on the most serious count. He was being held in the La Porte County Jail on a $50,000 bond after being picked up on an arrest warrant on October 5.

 

Police believe the fentanyl pills came from Mexico. 

Barber Charged with Selling Fentanyl

(La Porte, IN) - A local barber is accused of doing more than just cutting hair for a living. Angel Duarte is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with dealing in fentanyl.

 

The 32-year-old La Porte man was arrested Wednesday.

 

According to court documents, he was caught selling $240 in fentanyl pills on two separate occasions. The exchanges occurred in late July at his barber shop, "Angel Cutz," at 2104 Ohio Street on La Porte's east side.

 

Authorities said the deadly, highly addictive pills came from Mexico.

 

Duarte could face anywhere from 3 to 16 years on the most serious of the two counts. Duarte was held in the La Porte County Jail on a $25,000 bond.

Republicans to Cross Over at Ballot Box

(La Porte County, IN) - It appears some Republicans are rallying behind Democrat La Porte County Prosecutor John Lake in his bid for reelection.

 

“Republicans for Lake” is a political action committee formed by La Porte resident Rick Kentaft. Kentaft said Lake is most qualified for the job and his opponent, Republican Sean Fagan, lacks experience handling criminal cases. He also disagreed with Fagan’s belief that a prosecutor needs to be out fighting crime.

 

“A prosecutor’s job is to prosecute crimes. It’s not the prosecutor’s job to be out on the street as a law enforcement officer,” Kentaft said.

Fagan graduated from law school at Valparaiso University in 2015 and has been a Child Protective Services attorney since 2019.

 

Kentaft said his decision has nothing to do with any break occurring within the Republican Party, and he hasn’t formed a PAC in support of other Democratic Party candidates.

 

“This is strictly standing behind John Lake, who’s the best man for the job,” Kentaft said.

La Porte County Republican Party Chairman Allen Stevens accused Lake of being involved in forming the PAC out of concern that he might be trailing in the polls.

 

Stevens also said most of the “Republicans for Lake” signs are posted in the yards and properties of Democrats. He believes enthusiasm within the party is high for all of the candidates. 

 

“Don’t read too much into it. This is just a sideshow being put on by the prosecutor,” Stevens said.  

Stevens recently filed a complaint that Lake’s wife, Mary, violated election law by participating in the PAC and her husband’s campaign. The violation was later corrected by Mrs. Lake being removed from the PAC, but the La Porte County Election Board could still level a fine.

 

Some Republicans have criticized Kentaft for voting in the past as a Democrat. However, Kentaft said switching parties is not unusual, and he became a Republican about eight years ago. Kentaft said switching parties had been done by many people locally over the years and at the state and national levels.

 

“I think one of the ones who switched parties back in the day was Ronald Reagan. At one time, he was a Democrat and became elected as a Republican,” Kentaft said.

Reagan was a Democrat until becoming a Republican in 1962.

Mayor Frowns on Weight Limit Idea

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody doesn’t believe truck traffic downtown can be reduced by imposing and enforcing weight limits.

 

Recently, La Porte County Commissioner Sheila Matias suggested weight limits on Lincolnway and enforcement to discourage truck drivers worried about fines from venturing into the downtown.

 

Matias proposed doing it for a year to see if it works as an alternative to constructing a truck route around the downtown.

 

Dermody said he doesn’t believe that would be a realistic solution, especially long term.

 

“I know the sheriff’s department has the portable scales, but I‘m not sure how that solves this problem 10 and 20 years in the future for what the projections are and allows us to get a walkable downtown,” Dermody said.

 

Initially, a four-lane highway around downtown was proposed to reduce heavy truck traffic.

 

Now, construction of a two-lane truck route is being offered by the city to reduce disruption rural landowners along the route fear would reduce their quality of life.

 

The commissioners recently voted against constructing a truck route, which would require federal dollars to build due to the projected high cost.

Republican Heavyweight Punches Back at Fighting

(Merrillville, IN) - A high-ranking Republican in the state is critical of the attacks on a local elected official from fellow party members.

 

"The recent attacks against Rich Mrozinski are totally inappropriate and serve as nothing more than a distraction when our attention should be focused on policies that improve the economy for working men and women across Indiana," said Dave Fagan, Chairman of the Indiana Lunch Pail Republicans.

 

Fagan is also secretary of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 out of Merrillville.

 

"Elections should be won and lost based on merits, not on cheap attempts at character assassination," Fagan said.

 

Lunchpail Republicans is a group pushing to restore the Republican Party to where it was before the rise of what's been labeled as extremism.

 

Recently, La Porte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski was removed as an official member of the La Porte County Republican Party. The unanimous decision by over 60 voting precinct committeepersons was believed to be driven by Mrozinski's ongoing support of Shaw Friedman as the attorney for LaPorte County government.

 

Mrozinski and some of his Republican opponents wanting Friedman replaced have clashed often for nearly two years during public meetings filled with tension and even hatred.

 

Fagan, currently appointed by Governor Eric Holcomb to the Indiana Ports Commission, said publicly attacking an individual's morals and work ethic to score political points is not in the best interests of taxpayers.

 

"When appointed or elected as an official, we have an obligation to work with all officials for the betterment of our town, county, and state. Personal attacks for political gain do not serve the public interest. Pointing out policy differences can be fair and appropriate. However, personal attacks only serve a political agenda and do not further the needs or interests of the residents we are sworn to represent," Fagan said.

 

Fagan is a former member of the Portage City Council whose resume also includes two decades on the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board. Mitch Daniels and other former Indiana governors appointed him to the board.

 

Mrozinski, a veteran and retired union worker for NIPSCO, said he was pleasantly surprised. Mrozinski said local party members don't like him because he reaches across party lines. The former La Porte County Councilman has been elected as both a Republican and a Democrat.

 

"When I get elected, I hang my "R" and my "D" on the door and go to work for the people," Mrozinski said.       

Fire Department Open House Saturday

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte Fire Department will kick off Fire Prevention Week with its annual open house this Saturday.

 

According to Assistant Fire Chief Kelly Burke, the open house is an opportunity for the public to meet their local firefighters and learn about fire prevention and safety. He believes this is especially important as Fire Prevention Week begins on Sunday.

 

"Our department open house is a great way for our residents to get to know us a little bit better and understand more about what we do," Burke said.

 

Burke said the fire this week at the old American Rubber factory building is an example of why the public should be better educated in knowing how to respond to a fire.

 

"The topic of fire prevention and safety is especially timely this week after the fire on Brighton Street, and we want to make sure the members of our community know what they should and shouldn't do in the event of a fire in their own homes or neighborhoods," Burke said. 

 

The open house is scheduled for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the 809 West 18th Street Fire Station. Free lunch and tours of the station and the EDITH House will be offered.

 

The Lindsey O'Brien Kesling Wishing Tree Foundation will also give away free carbon monoxide detectors.

 

Residents with questions may contact Burke at (219) 362-3456.

 

FOP Endorses Hynek for Sheriff

(La Porte, IN) - The Democrat Party candidate for La Porte County Sheriff has picked up an endorsement. The Indiana Fraternal Order of Police endorsed Andy Hynek.

 

Hynek said he felt the endorsement was significant, given the FOP is the largest organization representing sworn law enforcement officers nationwide.

 

“I am extremely humbled and honored to have the endorsement of my peers. It’s just a really good feeling,” Hynek said.

 

Hynek said his values also reflect the values of the Fraternal Order of Police, ensuring the development, training, safety, and compensation of police officers.

 

“These are the same core values I plan to run the sheriff’s office on once elected,” Hynek said.

 

Republican Ron Heeg is the opposing candidate in the November 8 election.

 

Heeg Endorsed by Sheriff

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd is endorsing one of the candidates in the race for sheriff.

 

Boyd endorsed fellow Republican Ron Heeg. Heeg has been Chief Deputy Sheriff since Boyd was elected nearly eight years ago.

 

“It’s very exciting, and I’m very honored. Sheriff Boyd has been a mentor to me over my career but more specifically over the last eight years as being able to serve as his chief deputy. I’m excited that he’s continued to trust me and to support me as the next sheriff of La Porte County,” Heeg said.

Boyd said Heeg has a “wealth of well-rounded experience” in areas like the jail, patrol division, and detective bureau, along with the temperament needed to be sheriff. Other factors city by Boyd for his endorsement included Heeg’s leadership qualities and strong involvement in the community.

 

Heeg is running against Democrat Andy Hynek. Both men have been with the sheriff’s office for at least 20 years.    

 

Boyd cannot seek reelection because of a two-term limit.

 

“While serving as Chief Deputy, he has helped to run the day-to-day operations of the Sheriff’s Office and assisted in administering a department with a nearly $12 million budget and approximately 170 employees,” Boyd said.

Old Factory Fire Still Smoldering

(La Porte, IN) - A fire destroying an old factory building in La Porte yesterday continues to smolder today.

 

La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said there are hot spots beneath the rubble of the heavily collapsed structure still requiring water. However, Snyder said the fire is well under control and should be completely extinguished before the evening.

 

“As things flare up, they are setting up, spraying it, and trying to extinguish it. We’re in the home stretch right now,” Snyder said.

Firefighters responded to the vast brick structure on Brighton Street at about 12:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

 

The flames spread rapidly and lit up the sky.

 

Snyder said numerous pallets of hand sanitizer were being stored in the building by the current owner. He said the alcohol-based product fueled the flames.

 

Since the fire began, most of the structure has collapsed, but some of the walls still stand. People going by to see the damage are advised to stay at least 30 feet away from the property due to the risk of further collapse.

 

Snyder said the investigation into the cause of the fire will begin today. The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office will assist in determining what started the fire.

 

Snyder also said the city would be attempting to gain rights to demolish the remainder of the structure and clear the property as soon as possible because of the risk it poses to public safety.

Man Denies Vote Fraud Allegations

(La Porte, IN) - A complaint about election fraud in La Porte County is now in the hands of Indiana State Police to investigate.

 

The complaint alleges local businessman Jody Slabaugh is registered to vote at an address on State Road 39 north of Severs Road, but he votes while living elsewhere.

 

The issue was brought up at the La Porte County Election Board meeting yesterday afternoon, where Slabaugh denied the allegations he described as not from a credible source.

 

For years, Slabaugh said he’d rented the property, which has a studio apartment. He also operates his repair business at that location.

 

“Everything that I own is in that building. You guys want to turn around and take the word of some guy who’s got an ax to grind with me on Facebook,” Slabaugh said.

Slabaugh also alleged the complaint from resident Rick Kentaft is retaliation for him being outspoken against some local political figures.

 

“People want to try and shut me up because I don’t agree with some of the politics in this county. You ruin my reputation. You run me through the mud, and you want to have a criminal investigation. I don’t care. The cops can come visit me. I can show them my little studio apartment. Whatever you want to do. I don’t care,” Slabaugh said.

Supporters of Slabaugh said the complaint should have been investigated by the election board and then turned over to the police if the allegations had merit. However, election board members explained their job is to run elections, and the complaint was given to the police because they are the experts at investigating.

 

During the meeting, La Porte County Republican Party Chairman Allen Stevens accused election board member Nelson Pichardo of going to the police at the direction of La Porte County government attorney Shaw Friedman.

 

Pichardo is an attorney at the law firm Friedman & Associates.

 

Stevens said it’s not the first time political enemies of Friedman have been targeted.

 

“He’s done it time and time again with Dennis Metheny. He’s tried doing it with Tim Stabosz, and now he’s coming after Jody Slabaugh. It’s a sad state of affairs in La Porte County politics,” Stevens said.

Slabaugh is a supporter of Stabosz, the La Porte County Auditor, and La Porte County Commissioner Joe Haney. Haney and Stabosz have been at the forefront of an ongoing bitter political feud with Friedman and County Commissioners Rich Mrozinski and Sheila Matias.

 

Pichardo said he would go to the police with any election fraud complaint, no matter who was accused.

 

La Porte County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Ron Heeg said the complaint was turned over to Indiana State Police to avoid the appearance of any conflict of interest.

Shot Himself While Picture Taking Charges

(La Porte, IN) - Charges have been filed against a man who accidentally shot himself while apparently trying to take a picture of himself with a gun in La Porte.

 

Majestic Porter, 20, 1202 Clay Street, is charged with Level 6 felony criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon and Class B misdemeanor false informing.

 

According to court documents, responding officers on August 22 found Porter outside his residence with a gunshot wound to his left hand.

 

Initially, Porter told investigators he was purchasing marijuana when the armed drug dealer tried robbing him and then shot him, according to court documents.  

 

During the investigation, police suspected his story did not add up and learned Porter actually shot himself in the house.

 

When confronted at the hospital by detectives, police said Porter explained he was taking pictures while holding the gun in the bathroom. He said he was pulling the gun from his waistband and believed he had ahold of the barrel when the firearm went off.

 

According to court records, Porter was given a one-year, mostly suspended jail sentence last year on a battery charge related to an encounter with police.

 

According to court records, he was also given a similar sentence last year for fraud.

OWI Charge in Vehicle Rollover

(La Porte County, IN) - He escaped injury despite his vehicle flipping several times, but Scott Glick now faces potential time in jail.

 

Glick, 45, of Michigan City, was eastbound on 200 North at about 9 a.m. on Saturday, according to La Porte County Police. Glick told investigators he was running late for work and traveling about 60 miles per hour when he noticed a bend in the roadway.

 

Glick said he took the curve too fast and lost control of his Chevy Silverado, which rolled several times and came to rest on its passenger side in a grassy area just west of Fail Road. However, he managed to climb out of the vehicle before the officers' arrival, who noticed signs of potential impairment.

 

Police said his blood alcohol level was .155-percent or nearly double the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle.

 

He's charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum one-year jail sentence.

Trucker Steals Fuel from Another Trucker

(LAPORTE COUNTY, INDIANA) - Truck drivers are apparently resorting to siphoning diesel fuel from other semis to save on the high cost of filling up.

 

According to La Porte County Police, a truck driver was parked with other semis on September 29  in the truck stop area of Gallops Marathon at U.S. 20 and Indiana 39.

 

The driver said he was getting some rest and woke up during the early morning hours to the sound of another semi-truck pulling a flatbed trailer parking beside him, according to police. He looked out a window, and the driver who had just pulled up waved at him.

 

According to police, the driver who had just arrived left about one hour later.

 

The driver trying to go back to sleep, later noticed his diesel fuel gauge had gone from a quarter tank to near empty after starting his engine. He estimated that 15 gallons of diesel fuel had been stolen from his tank.

Old Factory Blaze Fueled by Hand Sanitizer

(La Porte, IN) - A fire destroyed the old American Rubber plant in La Porte and spread rapidly because it was used to store hand sanitizer pallets.

 

La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said there were numerous pallets of alcohol-based hand sanitizer in plastic bottles inside different areas of the structure.

           

"There were skids of it. They were skid stacked on each other, and they were for the length of the building in a couple of different bays," Snyder said. 

            

People going by to see the fire and extensive damage were advised to stay at least 30 feet away from the structure to avoid possible injury if other parts of the building collapsed. Several walls and much of the roof had already fallen in before sunrise.

           

Firefighters responded just before 12:30 a.m. and were still putting out lingering flames and hot spots well into the morning.    

          

People living nearby claimed seeing individuals frequently breaking into the vacant structure in recent years. 

 

Snyder said whether any homeless people were living there had not been confirmed.

 

"That's something the investigation will have to look into as they move forward," Snyder said.

 

There were no indications yet on what caused the fire, but the Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office was contacted to assist in the investigation.

 

 

Fire Destroys Old Factory Building

(La Porte, IN) - Firefighters from multiple agencies worked through the night to gain control of a blaze that destroyed a several hundred-foot-long vacant factory building in La Porte’s downtown area.

 

Flames once lighting up the sky from the former American Rubber plant at 315 Brighton Street were still visible after sunrise.

 

Kellyanne Harwood of 414 Brighton Street said she was getting ready for bed when she heard the approaching sirens of numerous emergency responders after midnight.

 

Harwood said she looked out her window and saw heavy smoke coming from the building and then flames once she walked to the scene.

 

“I never seen anything like that in my life. They were just blasting the flames with water, and the flames just kept getting higher and coming out of the building,” Harwood said.

 

Harwood said she also heard what sounded like mild explosions.

 

Firefighters were also focused on ensuring the flames didn’t spread to a water tower in the middle of the horseshoe-shaped complex in the residential neighborhood along the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks.

 

Josh Montemayor owns nearby Mickey’s Bar on Tipton Street. He witnessed parts of the fire-ravaged building cave after learning about the blaze from customers walking into his establishment and going to the scene.

 

“The building started collapsing on the front end. Just now, on the back end, it started collapsing,” Montemayor said.

 

Montemayor also complimented firefighters for keeping the fire contained to the property.

 

Ricky Probst of 507 Brighton Street said the size of the fire caught him by surprise after being notified about the blaze on social media.

 

“There were flames coming out the windows and everything else in there,” Probst said.

 

Firefighters from La Porte and other surrounding agencies like Center Township, Coolspring Township, and Kankakee Township responded to the fire.

 

So far, no indications have been given on the cause of the blaze.

 

 

Sand Festival Coming Back to Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - The Singing Sands Sand Sculpting Festival, a three-day art festival celebrating Michigan City's beautiful lakefront, will return to Washington Park for its second year.

 

The festival in 2023 is scheduled for June 9-11.

 

"Everyone who attended this great event last year saw the most incredible works of art created from the sand on our beautiful beach. This event will become one of the premiere events on the shores of Lake Michigan," said Mayor Duane Parry.

 

The event's centerpiece is a professional sand sculpting exhibition and competition, drawing some of the world's most talented and well-known sand sculptors.

 

Michigan City Special Events will again partner with The Sand Lovers, LLC, a professional sand sculpting and event management company specializing in major sand sculpting events.

 

Bill and Marianne Knight, both professional sand sculptors, brought this unique art form to Michigan City for the first time and believe the event will continue to grow.

 

"We are so excited to come back to Michigan City. What an incredible setting for the event, and the people welcomed us and made us feel like part of the community," said Bill Knight.

 

Michigan City Special Events Director Terry Greetham said the goal is to keep improving the festival.

 

"We learned a lot in year one and have a lot of great ideas for year two. We want to see this festival grow in size and popularity and make it one of the biggest events on Lake Michigan," he said.

Press Rallying Behind Local Legal Case

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Associated Press and other media organizations are behind a local legal case they believe could restrict the work of journalists if the judges don't rule correctly

 

The action taken by more than a dozen media groups stems from the defamation of character lawsuit Shaw Friedman, the attorney for the La Porte County government, filed against La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz.

 

Friedman contends that derogatory and false statements from Stabosz have hurt his reputation and downtown La Porte legal firm.

 

Stabosz failed in his first attempt to have the lawsuit dismissed by a lower court, which cited a lack of sufficient evidence from Stabosz about his claims against Friedman. He's now challenging the decision before the Indiana Court of Appeals.

 

Stabosz maintains that as a public official, Friedman is subject to criticism and must prove the allegations against him were made with malice or total disregard for the truth to keep his defamation suit alive.

 

Stabosz claims he was not acting in malice and wholeheartedly believes his claims to be true.

 

"Friedman's defamation suit against me is a calculated effort to silence legitimate criticism of the unscrupulous way Friedman does business in La Porte County," said Stabosz.

 

Stabosz's claims are based on allegations that Friedman runs the county government by controlling the decisions of elected officials. Friedman has consistently and emphatically denied the claims.

 

Stabosz said the appellate court failing to dismiss the lawsuit would undermine a state law designed to protect free speech and public participation.

 

"I have every right to make these claims about him, as these statements reflect my well-considered judgment, and Friedman is a public figure, who is subject to not just my judgments but those of media editorial boards, or any other member of the public, for that matter," Stabosz said.

Other media organizations behind the arguments presented by Stabosz include Gannett, the publisher of USA Today and the Indianapolis Star, the Hoosier State Press Association, and the Indiana Broadcasters Association.

 

In their legal arguments, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said courts nationwide require defamation plaintiffs to show malice to keep their lawsuits from being dismissed.

 

"The significance of this case extends well beyond the individual actors involved," RCFP said. 

 

"Similarly, my attorneys assert exactly that same point. We ask the appeals court to right this error by reversing the lower court's ruling, not just for my sake, but for the sake of anyone who wants to rightly and legitimately comment on the motivations and actions of any public figure," Stabosz said.

Student and Mother Perish in Freak Accident

(La Porte County, IN) - A 14-year-old boy killed this morning in a freak traffic accident on U.S. 30 was a South Central School Corporation student.

 

Joseph Oehmen and his mother, Angela Oehman, were both pronounced dead at the scene, according to La Porte County Police. A third passenger in their vehicle was transported to an area hospital with an upper-body injury.

 

According to police, a tractor-trailer had just exited the Plaza 30 Truck Stop and began to travel eastbound on U.S. 30 when the trailer separated from the semi. The trailer was in the eastbound driving lane when struck by the 2022 Kia driven by Oehman, who also was traveling eastbound, police said. Her vehicle hit the rear of the trailer.

 

The truck driver, David Sutton, 47, of Fulton, Indiana, was not injured.

 

The investigation of the crash is ongoing.

 

South Central School Corporation Superintendent Ben Anderson is asking for privacy as members of the school community mourn and grieve the loss.

 

La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson said her office was called to the scene at about 8 a.m.

Crash Claims Lives of Mother and Son

(La Porte County, IN) - A woman and her son were killed in a motor vehicle collision in the Wanatah area this morning.

 

La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson said the crash on U.S. 30 involved a passenger vehicle and semi-truck. Swanson's office was called to the scene at about 8 a.m.

 

Three hours later, the passenger vehicle had still not been removed from underneath the semi-truck. The names of the victims were not released yet.

 

We'll provide more details once local authorities release additional information.

Sentencing in Alcohol Related Crash

(La Porte, IN) - An impaired driver who caused a motor vehicle crash with injuries in downtown La Porte has been sentenced.

 

Jenette Meece of Hobart was given three years on probation for causing serious bodily injury while operating under the influence of alcohol. She’ll have to wear an ankle bracelet for authorities to monitor her whereabouts during the first six months of the sentence.

 

According to court documents, Meece had a blood alcohol level of three times the legal limit when she ran a red light at Lincolnway and Indiana Ave. As a result, her westbound vehicle broadsided a northbound vehicle operated by a 17-year-old boy.

 

Police said the boy underwent surgery for a knee injury sustained in the crash, and staples were used to close a laceration on his head.

 

At least one alcoholic beverage container was on the floorboard of the vehicle driven by Meece, 39, who had a suspended license.

 

Sentencing under terms of a plea agreement was held Friday in La Porte Circuit Court.

The SOUND OFF Podcast: LaPorte County Commissioner Candidates

(LAPORTE, IN) - We continued our 2022 Election Coverage shows with the executive branch of the county government. In the studio were (R) Connie Gramarossa and (D) Sheila Matias, candidates for LaPorte County Commissioner D-1. The candidates discussed their campaign pledges, the proposed economic corridor around the city of LaPorte, the 39 North Water Conservancy, nepotism in county government, and more. 

 

Listen to the full episode here: 

 

Body Recovered from Lake Identified

(Berrien County, MI) - A body recovered from Lake Michigan a few miles outside New Buffalo has been identified.

 

Jason Ryno, 48, of Joliet, Illinois, was identified from a fingerprint, according to the Grand Beach/Michiana Police Department.

 

Police Chief Ryan Layman said how and where the man entered the lake, and the circumstances leading up to his death were unknown, but the case remained under investigation.

 

No light was shed on the cause of death, but foul play is not suspected.

 

Layman was still waiting for the results of an autopsy before commenting on how long the man had been in the water. However, he also revealed the man had not been previously reported missing.

 

According to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, emergency responders at about noon on September 27 were called to the 4000 block of Lakeshore Drive on a report of a body floating in the water. The body was described as a white or light skin black male with a medium build and about six feet in height.

 

The body was recovered with help from the New Buffalo Township Fire Department and Michiana Shores Fire Department.

 

Layman said the South Bend Police Department Crime Lab was able to use a fingerprint to make the identification.

Cause of House Fire Ruled Electrical

(La Porte County, IN) - The cause of a fire that destroyed a house outside La Porte remains under investigation.

 

Scipio Township Fire Chief Eric Fenstermaker said the fire started in the attached garage and was electrical in nature.

 

However, investigators have not yet determined exactly where the fire started or how because of the extensive damage.

 

“Due to the total destruction of the garage, I cannot pinpoint it to a single source,” Fenstermaker said.

 

The residence was also considered a total loss.

 

Homeowners Barry and Shirley Pontius were unaware of the late Friday morning fire until a man began pounding on their door at 302 W. 250 South. They safely escaped but were fortunate because of how fast the fire spread.

 

Fenstermaker said the fire spread rapidly because of combustibles like gasoline inside the garage and strong northerly winds. The flames also caught a pick-up truck parked outside the attached garage on fire.

 

Pontius said she was doing paperwork for her husband’s business, “Barry’s Carts,” when they were alerted to the fire. Her husband customizes and restores golf carts.

 

Fenstermaker said there were two golf carts, one running on gasoline and the other powered by electricity, inside the garage. However, he said whether the electric golf cart was plugged into a battery charger could not be verified.

Sheriff Asked to Probe Election Fraud Claims

(La Porte County, IN) - Law enforcement is being asked to investigate possible election fraud in La Porte County.

 

La Porte County Election Board member Nelson Pichardo made a written request to Sheriff John Boyd on Friday in response to evidence presented by resident Rick Kentaft.

 

The evidence alleges local businessman Jody Slabaugh is registered to vote at the address of his repair shop, Discount Computer Warehouse, but doesn’t live there. It asserts that Slabaugh has voted in numerous elections while living at another address.

 

Pichardo said the evidence appears credible and supported the two other election board members, Heather Stevens and Charles Watterson, requesting the sheriff’s office investigate the claims.

 

The sheriff is asked to determine Slabaugh’s legal residency and if any criminal violations were committed.

 

In Indiana, voter fraud is a Level 6 felony punishable by an up to two and a half year sentence.

 

Slabaugh is one of the more outspoken Republicans in the ongoing nasty political dispute that stems from hiring Shaw Friedman as the attorney for the La Porte County government by the La Porte County Commissioners nearly two years ago. Friedman is a member of the Democratic Party. 

 

La Porte County Republican Party Chairman Allen Stevens said the election board has not met to hear the matter.

 

“State code is very clear that this has to go before the election board to decide if there’s enough merit for it to be referred to the sheriff’s department for prosecution. This has not happened. Any assumption by Mr. Pichardo that it has happened is a complete total fabrication,” Stevens said.

Pichardo said he shared the complaint from Kentaft with the election board members.

 

“We decided to forward it to the sheriff’s office,” Pichardo said.

So far, attempts to reach Slabaugh for a response to the claims have been unsuccessful.

Highway Restricted by Resurfacing

(La Porte County, IN) - A stretch of state highway in La Porte County is under a lane restriction beginning today.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, a three-mile section of Indiana 2 is being resurfaced this week from 400 West to 700 West.

 

INDOT officials said the two-lane highway would be down to one lane, and flaggers would be out directing traffic in each direction.

 

Motorists are advised to slow down, use extra caution and drive distraction-free in and around the work zone.

New Library Reading Garden Ready for the Public

(La Porte, IN) - A touch of natural beauty has been added to La Porte’s downtown in the form of a reading garden at the county library’s main branch. The newly landscaped addition faces Indiana Avenue on the library’s south side.

 

It’s a beautiful outdoor space— ideal, as Shakespeare would say, for the public to walk abroad and recreate themselves.

 

It’s also functional, complete with free WiFi. According to library Director Fonda Owens, “it’s very much like a park, but it is fully equipped with WiFi and charging stations for electronic devices.”

 

Owens said the library plans to host outdoor activities such as movie nights and children’s story time. The center of the garden features a large grassy area for holding group events. Not far from the garden, on the other corner of Harrison Street, a new storage garage has also been recently completed. The garage features a large porch and grassy front lawn. Owens said that area can also be enjoyed by the public.

 

The corner of the reading garden facing Indiana Avenue features a sculptural arrangement inspired by Isamu Noguchi, the internationally acclaimed modern artist who got his start in La Porte. The sculpture was made from the library’s original granite steps which are currently being replaced.

 

All of the recent improvements to the area around the main branch have been paid for using existing tax revenue.

Boy Rescued from Grain Wagon

(Pulaski County, IN) – First responders in Pulaski County rescued a boy from a grain-filled farm wagon.

 

On Tuesday two Pulaski County Sheriff’s deputies were first on the scene following a call for a nine-year-old boy trapped in a grain wagon on a farm west of Winamac.

 

Fortunately, one of the officers, Alec Berger, had previous training in grain bin rescue. He and his partner, Aaron Zimmerman, leapt into action. According to the Sheriff’s Department facebook page, Berger used metal sheets wedged into the grain to stabilize the boy.

 

Madaryville firefighters soon arrived and used a grain cage called the Great Wall of Rescue to remove the settled corn from around the boy and extricate him.

 

According to the Medaryville/White Post Volunteer Fire Department, “We purchased the Great Wall of Rescue a few years back, hoping we would never have to use it,” the post said. “Which now, we are extremely glad we did. This tool helped us to rescue the young boy safely. Everyone at the scene worked so well together.”

 

Pulaski County EMS checked the boy on-scene. No injuries were reported.

 

"Where's Jackie?" President Can't Locate Deceased Congresswoman

(Washington, D.C.) - This week, the President of the United States seemed to forget about the recent untimely death of this area’s Congressional representative.

 

President Biden addressed a crowd on Wednesday as part of a White House conference on hunger, nutrition, and health. While listing elected officials involved in the matter, such as U.S. Senator from Indiana Mike Braun, Biden named Jackie and looked for her in the crowd saying, "Jackie, you here? Where's Jackie? I didn't think she was going to be here."

 

Of course, Walorski died along with three others in a rural Elkhart County car crash on August 3. Biden was at one point well aware of Walorski’s passing. He and his wife issued a statement the same day extending their sympathies to the Walorski family.

 

On Thursday Jackie’s brother Keith Walorski tried to be as gracious as possible, saying the President’s mind probably isn’t as sharp as it used to be and he just feels sorry for him.

 

On Friday Biden signed a bill renaming the VA clinic in Mishawaka in honor of the deceased 2nd District congresswoman.

Layoffs Beginning in Walkerton

(Walkerton, IN) - An area door manufacturer has announced a major layoff of its work staff.

 

Walkerton’s Masonite facility has started laying off between 74 and 84 workers, which is at least a third of its work force.

 

A spokesperson for Masonite Corporation said the layoffs may be permanent due to changing business needs.

 

The company will continue to pay all affected workers through at least Thanksgiving.

Slicer Homecoming Spoiled by Crown Point 51-10

(LAPORTE, IN) - The Crown Point Bulldogs traveled to Kiwanis Field Friday and showed a large homecoming crowd why they are undefeated, leading the DAC and rated in the top ten in Class 6A.


La Porte won the coin toss and elected to receive. Cody Fishel's kick went into the end zone, and the Slicers started at their own 20. Crown Point jumped offside before the first snap and gave LP a 1-and-5. On the first play from scrimmage, the Slicers tried to run wide. Nathan Donah couldn't handle Dylan Salisbury's pitch, and Crown Point recovered at the 25. Four plays later, at the 10:26 mark of the 13 quarter, Crown Point's talented quarterback J.J. Johnson ran it in from two yards out. Fishel's kick made it 7-0.

 

On the next possession, the Slicers moved the ball to their own 40. Opting to go for a 4-and-1, the Slicers could not convert and turned the ball over on downs. Three plays later, Johnson ran 22 yards for his 2'd touchdown of the night. Fishel's kick made it 14-0 with 6:32 left in the 1st.

 

Crown Point took advantage of a second Slicer lost fumble. However, the Slicer defense held, and the Bulldogs settled for a 29-yard field goal by Fishel with 17.3 seconds left in the opening quarter. The Bulldogs led 17-0 after 1.


Crown Point scored on their first two second-quarter possessions. Johnson scored his third rushing TD at the 9:29 mark. Fishel's kick made it 24-0. Johnson then hit Trevor Gibbs with a 37-yard touchdown pass. However, a bad snap cost Crown Point the extra point, and they led 30-0.


La Porte put together an 8-play 55-yard drive. Jack Doty hit a 39-yard field goal making the score 30-3. Ray Santiago ran the ensuing kickoff back 98 yards for a quick Crown Point score. Johnson ran in the 2-point conversion to make it 38-3 Crown Point.

 

Josh Eberly finished the Bulldog's first half by scoring with a 3-yard run. Fishel's kick made the halftime score 45-3.


The entire second half was played with a running clock. Backup Crown Point quarterback Logan Hat hit Logan Rodriguez on a 10-yard pass at the 1:39 mark of the third. However, the Bulldogs took a knee on the 2-point conversion, and the score stood 51-3 at the end of 3 quarters.


The Slicers put together a 73-yard 11-play scoring toward the end of the fourth. Lucas Del Rio scored from 3 yards out. Doty kicked the extra point, and the final score was 51-10.


It was not all bad news for the Slicers. Dylan Salisbury showed flashes in this first start at quarterback. He was 13-29 passing for 134 yards. He ran three times for 23 yards and avoided being sacked despite constant pressure from the Crown Point blitzing defense. Ollie Kring caught five passes for 35 yards. Drew Flores caught two for 24 yards. Kai Jones caught two passes for 24 yards. Keli Hay, replacing Salisbury at wide receiver, had a nice 25-yard sideline catch.


Slicer Center Lucas Pacheco was crowned Homecoming King at halftime. Fellow seniors Nathan Donah and Al Mrozinske were in the court.

 

La Porte travels to Michigan City next Friday night before finishing their regular season at Portage.

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