Local News Archives for 2022-11

7-Eleven Opening in Sight

(La Porte, IN) - It took several months longer than expected to complete the construction of the new 7-Eleven on Pine Lake Avenue in La Porte with supply chain issues cited as a major factor in the delay.  However, products are now filling store shelves in preparation for the convenience store to open their doors to customers next week.

 

Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, said the opening could be as popular as when Aldi began seeing customers recently across the street.

 

“At Aldi, they had 300 plus people lined up around the building.  We were happy to be able to share that experience with them.  I know 7-Eleven will be popular as well so we’re looking forward to that,” he said.

 

7-Eleven will open for the first time next Tuesday.  An official grand opening ceremony is planned two days later. 

Santa Set to Arrive in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City is gearing up to welcome Santa Claus into the community.  The annual Festival of Lights Parade on Saturday is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

 

Nearly 30 units in the parade will proceed down Franklin Street beginning at 9th Street.  The parade ends at 4th Street. in front of the Michigan City Public Library where a tree lighting ceremony will follow.

 

Parade attendees can also venture over to Washington Park to see the annual Festival of Lights or visit Santa Claus at his workshop at 710 Franklin Street.

 

According to the mayor’s office, there will be activities for kids inside the workshop where Christmas lists for Santa Claus can be dropped off from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.  Hot chocolate and holiday treats will also be available at the workshop. 

 

Chili sampling will take place during the Chili Challenge at the workship and voting will take place for the best chili.  A $5 charge will be required to sample chili with the proceeds going to Meals on Wheels, officials said.

 

 

Zoo Open for Holiday Event

(Michigan City, IN) - The zoo in Michigan City will be open this Saturday for the first “Wild Winterland” event.  Visitors can see animals like an armadillo, corn snake, hedgehog, mini horse, and chinchilla from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 

People can also take photos with the Grinch from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the classroom at Washington Park Zoo or have a cup of hot cocoa in the Peacock Café on the grounds of the lakefront zoo.  The Treehouse Gift Shop will also be open for the occasion.

 

According to zoo officials, the African Lions and Bengal Tigers will not be out for viewing because of the ongoing reconstruction of their expanded habitats.

 

As a result, the price of admission has been reduced to $5 for adults and $4 for children ages 3-11.  Admission is free for children under 2 and zoo members.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upgrading U.S. 30 a Focus Tonight

(Hamlet, IN) - A public meeting is scheduled tonight in connection with possible upgrades to U.S. 30 across much of the northern part of the state.  The meeting will be at Oregon Davis School near Hamlet.

 

For many years, there’s been talk of upgrading U.S. 30 into an interstate type highway to reduce travel times and improve safety.  The environmental impact of upgrading the four lane highway along with the feasibility of the idea is currently being studied.

 

Tony Rodriguez, Director of the La Porte County Office of Economic and Community Development, represents La Porte County on the U.S. 30 coalition, which consists of representatives from each county where the highway could be improved.  He said the ongoing study process leading up to possible reconstruction of the highway is lengthy but one worth following especially for immediate stakeholders.

 

“This is the first of several public meetings and we wanted to make sure the public is well informed,” he said.

 

Many farmers along the highway are concerned because the thoroughfare cuts through their land, making easy access to both sides of the roadway important.  Interstate type upgrades would mean fewer interchanges and result in miles of extra travel each time they need to get to their fields on the other side of the highway.

 

The five other meetings will be held at more distant locations so tonight is the best opportunity for local residents to become fully educated on the project.

 

Tonight’s meeting, hosted by the Indiana Department of Transportation, is scheduled to run from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

2022 Could Be Less Deadly

(La Porte County, IN) - Deaths from drug overdose and suicide, so far, are down this year in La Porte County.

 

La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson said 53 people died in 2021 from drug overdoses compared to 45 who experienced a similiar fate so far this year.   She said there were 31 suicides last year countywide.  Currently, 21 people have taken their lives this year. 

 

Swanson hopes the numbers don’t spike before the end of the year.

 

“We’re crossing our fingers hoping the numbers are going to stay low during the holidays which is normally when we see them going up.  We’ll see what happens,” she said.

 

Swanson also reported 17 motor vehicle fatalities in La Porte County to date this year.  That's compared to 15 fatalities in 2021.  There were nine homicides throughout the county last year, which is four more than what’s presently transpired in 2022, she said.

Speeding Driver Caught with Meth

(Michigan City, IN) - A man pulled over after leaving a Michigan City convenience store was allegedly found with narcotics.  Kevin Thomas, 43, of Gary, is charged with possession of methamphetamine and driving on a suspended license.

 

According to court documents, an Indiana State Police Trooper began following Thomas early Monday  after he left the parking lot of Family Express at 5822 Franklin Street at a high rate of speed.  After merging into the eastbound lanes of Interstate 94, Thomas was soon traveling at more than 100 miles per hour with the officer maintaining a safe distance behind him, police said.  It wasn’t long before Thomas reduced his speed and pulled over.

 

Police said four plastic baggies containing tablets along with an orange rock-like substance was discovered under the center console of his 2017 Chevy Silverado.  A test revealed all of the baggies together contained just over 12 grams of methamphetamine.

 

The possession of methamphetamine charge is a level 6 felony punishable by anywhere from a six month to 30 month sentence.  

Hospital Demolition Draws Closer

(La Porte, IN) - The old La Porte Hospital building could begin demolition soon.  Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, said much of the work preparing for the demolition has been focused inside the six story structure for the past several months.

 

Cook said the interior work is wrapping up and beginning to turn toward the exterior.

 

“Any day now we should see actual brick by brick demolition start to begin,” he said.

 

Cook said he’s not sure how long it’ll take to tear down the structure but expects work at the site to be ongoing well into the New Year.

 

The hospital, constructed about a half century ago, was replaced in October of 2020 with a new one called Northwest Health, which is just a short distance away on State Street.

 

What will become of the old hospital site is not known.  Cook said officials from the hospital and city are still in discussions about what to do with the property once cleared.  One of the ideas shared previously is using the grounds as some sort of a public gathering space for special events and other activities to further momentum downtown.

 

“It’s going to provide a new parcel that will be primed for some type of redevelopment.  The city is going to work hand in hand with the hospital to determine what that is and how we can create a space that best benefits the city of La Porte,” Cook said.

Rebuilding Bison Hopeful in Basketball

(New Buffalo, MI) - It’s almost a total rebuilding year for the New Buffalo High School boys’ varsity basketball team but head coach Nate Tripp has his sights set on another district title. 

 

With no returning starters from last year’s highly successful team, Tripp said he expects the road to be bumpy at least early on.   His focus, though, is more on the team improving enough to compete in the post season.  Already, he’s encouraged by wins in all three recent scrimmage games against Gobles, Delton and Bloomingdale.

 

“It’s just going to be a matter of maturity and going through those growing pains,” he said.

 

In a near story book season, last year’s squad made it to the regional championship game and entered the post season ranked No. 1 in Class D.

 

The 2021-22 team averaged more than 80 points a game during the regular season with a fast paced offense and solid three point shooting to go with a pressing defense forcing a lot of turnovers.

 

Tripp said the current squad will likely play a patient half court style offense and move quickly with the ball when opportunity arises.  He feels the success of this year’s team will depend largely on how quickly his young players grasp what needs to be done on the court and the performance of junior Cameron Forker.  Forker is expected to be a scoring and rebounding threat underneath the rim and a presence setting screens with his solid 6’3”, 280 pound frame.  Tripp said he wants to keep Forker in games for as many minutes as possible.

 

“We got to keep him out of foul trouble,” Tripp said.

 

Tripp said another key player will be Andres Beccera, a slender 5’10” junior expected to begin playing after Christmas break.

 

“He’s a phenomenal talent,” he said.

 

The program has won three district titles in the last four seasons.  Tripp said whatever his players might be lacking in talent and experience to repeat as district champions will be made up by effort no matter what the score.

 

“You can expect to see a scrappy team that’s extremely hard working. Very, very young but also very hungry,” he said.

HealthLinc Expansion Underway

(Michigan City, IN) - A ground breaking was held Monday in Michigan City on a new HealthLinc medical clinic that will be more than three times larger than the current facility serving the community.

           

Construction of the 39,000 square foot outpatient clinic is in response to growing demand for affordable medical care from uninsured and underinsured people, said Beth Wrobel, Chief Executive Officer of HealthLinc.  HealthLinc has other clinics for low to moderate income people in Lake, Porter, Starke and St. Joseph counties.

 

Wrobel said the Michigan City clinic serves uninsured and underinsured residents from the New Buffalo area.  Wrobel said the plan is to move the existing 12,000 square foot clinic at 7th and Franklin streets to the new facility behind Ivy Tech Community College during the first quarter of 2024.

 

“We’ve outgrown it,” she said.

 

Wrobel said the new $15 million facility at 200 Alfred Avenue, just north of U.S. 20, will have space to treat more individuals and provide new services in optometry, expanded prenatal care services and an in-house pharmacy for convenience.

 

Services at current facility already include medical, dental, podiatry, chiropractic and addiction services.  Patients at the current HealthLinc location, established in 2008, used to have nearby Fagan Pharmacy available to fill prescriptions at a much lower cost.  Fagan Pharmacy closed over a year ago, though.  Patients now go to CVS and Walgreens to have their prescriptions filled at a significant discount.

 

Ivy Tech medical students will also be given access to the facility to gain experience in health care treatment as part of their studies.

 

The new building will contain three floors with services, initially, provided on the first two levels.  The third level will be used if there’s a need for expansion in the future.

 

Wrobel said there were about 9,000 patients resulting in roughly 35,000 visits at HealthLinc in Michigan City last year.  In comparison, there were about 500 patients during the first six months after the clinic opened its doors.  “We’ve really grown,” she said.

 

Wrobel said HealthLinc is funded primarily with various grants and fees from patients whose cost is based on income.  Federal dollars make up about 10-percent of the operating budget, she said.

 

First District Congressman, Frank Mrvan of Hammond, said facilities such as HealthLinc make the communities they serve stronger by giving people access to medical care they might not be able to afford otherwise.  Mrvan said affordable healthcare also plays a role in economic development.

 

“To say, hey, we have a quality health care provider that’s looking out for the most vulnerable, that’s something that helps brings in businesses.  That’s something that brings in new residents,” he said.

Father Sentenced for Child Abuse Death

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte County man who beat and tortured his four-year old son to death could spend the rest of his life behind bars.  Alan Morgan was given 70-years in prison Tuesday for murder, battery, and resisting law enforcement.

 

The defense sought no more than 55-years because Morgan had no prior criminal record and pleaded guilty to the death.  Feelings of remorse were also cited by the defense.   However, La Porte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos said the 29-year old defendant blamed others for his actions.  He later admitted to the killing after learning the brutality was captured on a video surveillance system inside the family’s residence.

 

“He has not shown one shred of remorse.  I hope someday he is remorseful and carries that remorse to his grave,” he said.

 

Alevizos also noted the pathologist who conducted the autopsy described the injuries from the abuse as the worst he had ever seen on a child in his 28-year career.  The cause of death was hemorrhaging in the brain and vital organs around the stomach.

 

Morgan's son, Judah, was found dead in his bedroom in October of 2021.  His death came after four consecutive days of being pummelled inside the family’s home in the 3100 block of East 875 South.  According to authorities, the abuse stemmed from Morgan being angry at the boy for having problems wetting his bed.

 

La Porte County Police Detective Jacob Koch testified the video showed presented plent of evidence including Morgan punching the boy more than 15 times in a single day.  Koch said there were also multiple images of Morgan picking the boy up off the floor by the neck and throwing him against a wall.  The video revealed the boy was limping or stumbling at times when viciously attacked by his father, he said.

 

According to authorities, the boy was also forced to lay on the basement floor while bound in duct tape without enough to eat for hours or days at a time.

 

Judah was an infant when taken away from his parents because of possible drug use and other problems at the home.  He lived with his cousin, Jenna Hullett, for three years until child welfare authorities returned him to his parents months prior to his death.  Hullett said she wanted to maintain custody of the boy whose life and tragic death are always in the thoughts of her and her family.

 

“He was a beautiful, bright, happy and very loving boy,” she said.

 

Morgan pleaded guilty in exchange for prosecutors not seeking a life sentence without parole.

 

The boy’s mother, Mary Yoder, is charged with neglect of a dependent resulting in death for allegedly not going to the authorities despite knowing about the abuse.

 

Yoder could face anywhere from a 20 to 40 year sentence.

 

 

 

 

Safe Ending to Vehicular Russian Roulette

(La Porte County, IN) - A suspected impaired driver, posing a real danger to herself and other motorists, was arrested in La Porte County.  Mary Nelson, 58, was arrested Saturday after police were informed her BMW in the area of Johnson Road and 400 West was “all over the road" and speeding. 

 

A responding officer soon observed Nelson driving very erratically at 25 miles per hour and pulled her over.  Her car was going back and forth over the center line and fog line, police said. 

 

She was taken into custody with an alleged blood alcohol level of .377-percent, well above the legal limit of .08-percent.

More Gun Related Arrests

(Michigan City, IN) - More gun violators have been taken off the streets in Michigan City.  Julius Bowen, 19, and Rashaan Jeanes, 23, were both arrested on the night of November 24th outside Virk’s Discount Liquors at 1912 East Michigan Boulevard.  Both men are from Michigan City.

 

Police said the men were approached when an officer recognized Bowen as having a warrant out for his arrest on an arson charge.

 

Bowen was allegedly found in possession of a loaded handgun containing a switch, which allows a semi-automatic weapon to fire automatically.  Police also indicated Bowen has a pending felony charge which prohibits him from having a firearm.

 

Jeanes was allegedly found in possession of a loaded gun and marijuana.  He also has a pending felony charge that makes it illegal for him to have a firearm for six months, police said.

 

Bowen was being held on $20,000 bond on the arson charge and a separate $15,000 bond on the latest charge of possession of a machine gun.

High Marks for Santa Parade

(La Porte, IN) - The Santa Parade took place in La Porte late Saturday afternoon and it was possibly the best Santa Parade in recent memory.  The parade featured a new route this year and turnout was heavy along State Street, Michigan Avenue, a short stretch of Lincolnway, and through the end of the parade route concluding at Plaza 618 at Lincolnway and Monroe Street.

 

Also new was a choir, “The La Porte Singing Company,” singing Christmas carols before the inaugural tree lighting ceremony.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody and Santa Claus led the large crowd in a countdown to the lights on the tree being lit while a long line of people waited for their children to visit with Santa Claus inside his chalet.

 

The weather was also ideal with temperatures in the 40’s along with sunny skies.

 

Brett Binversie, the city’s Events and Civic Coordinator, said the turnout in response to the changes this year exceeded his expectations.

 

“Look at this crowd.  I could not be happier with what we have going on,” he said.

 

Also new this year were nearby food and beverage vendors under the lights on Monroe Street north of Lincolnway.  Binversie said the vendors will likely be moved to or beside Plaza 618 next year.

 

Dermody was also thrilled at he called a “fantastic turnout." 

 

"I’m just excited to be a part of it.  I think it’s the largest crowd that I’ve ever seen,” he said.

 

Among the people in the parade were Mike Sommers operating a 1940’s International tractor.  Sommers, who lives near Westville, was behind the wheel of a 1940’s International Harvester Farmall model tractor and State Senator Mike Bohacek drove an old fire truck he purchased from the Michiana Shores Volunteer Fire Department a couple of years ago.

“You always wanted to have a fire truck when you were a kid, right?  Now, I have one,” he said.

 

The parade has traditionally ventured mostly down Lincolnway, but safety concerns from rolling stops at traffic lights on the four lane highway was cited for moving the route to a much less congested two lane thoroughfare.

 

 

 

 

Slicers Fall 70-55 to #3 Ranked Fishers

(Fishers, IN) - Slicer coach Jordan Heckard wanted his players to see how they matched up with one of the top teams in Indiana when he scheduled Friday’s game at Fishers.  The answer turned out to be very well.   The Slicers hung with the uber talented Fishers team and actually led by three points late in the 3rd quarter.  La Porte ran out of gas in the final period falling 70-55.

 

Fisher’s starting lineup went 6’10, 6’7, 6’6, 6’5 and 6’2. They are led by 6’7 sophomore point guard Jalen Harrelson who is ranked in the top ten nationally in his class.  All of the top college programs in the country are recruiting him.  IU coach Mike Woodson was in attendance.

 

The tone was set for La Porte’s gutsy performance just seconds in the game.  Fishers controlled the opening tip.  Harrelson brought the ball across the time line, Kyle Kirkham poked it away from him, chased it into the back court, dove on the ball, somehow got it to Rylin Kieszkowski who made the layup and was fouled.  The first quarter was a back and forth affair and ended in an 18-18 tie. Kieszkowski scored 9 and Kirkham 7 in the opening stanza. 

 

Nic Spence came off the bench to hit a pair of three pointers in the 2nd quarter.  La Porte outscored the Tigers 14-13 in the 2nd to lead 33-32 at the half.

 

In the 3rd the Slicers led by as many 6 points. La Porte led 46-43 in the final minute of the quarter when Fishers came to life.  Fishers scored the final 4 points of the quarter, including a corner 3 by Marion transfer Tanden Metzger at the buzzer, putting the Tigers ahead 47-46 after the 3rd quarter.   

 

Fishers then scored the first 9 points of the 4th quarter to take a ten point lead. The Tigers hit 9-10 free throws in the 4th and Harrelson scored 14 of his game high 31 points to ice the game.

 

La Porte was led in scoring by Kirkham with 16, Kieszkowski with 14, and point guard Malik Corley with 9. The Slicers handled Fishers pressure throughout the game committing only 10 turnovers after having 20 in their opening game win over South Bend Riley.  Ja’Meryion Cross, along with Corley and Kirkham, were the primary ball handers. Tommy Samuelson score 5 points and was great on the boards the entire game.  Brennan Balka had a basket and 6’6’ senior Dominic Thomson had 3 points in the game.

 

In the Junior Varsity game, Sawyer Tonagel hit a 3 pointer to open the game. Fishers then scored the next 16 points and never looked back. The final was Fishers 51 and LaPorte 25.  Eli Taylor had 10 points for the Slicers. Tonagel, Javelle Broome and Jose Duarte had 5 each.

 

La Porte will stay on the road, travelling to Plymouth on Friday and New Prairie on Saturday.  Both games will be broadcast on the radio home for the La Porte Slicers, 96.7 The Eagle.

 

Photos provided by Susan Anglin

Christkindlmarkt Open at Fairgrounds

(La Porte County, IN) - An event at the La Porte County Fairgrounds and Event Center, which opened today, should help put attendees in the Christmas spirit.

 

Christkindlmarkt, featuring German style Christmas markets decorated in lights along with other attractions like horse drawn wagon rides, is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 12 p.m to 5 p.m. on Sunday.  The market returns the following Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the same times.

 

Other features of the event include German bands, food and a biergarten.  There’s also an ice skating rink and a designated area to roast S’mores, which are marshmallows between graham crackers.

 

Santa Claus along with his elves and reindeer will also make an appearance.  And, Christmas trees are also available to purchase.

 

The Christkindlmarkt is put on by Bethany Lutheran Church.  Pastor Dennis Meyer said the event is a great way for people to get away and enjoy fellowship and continue giving thanks for life's blessings big or small.

 

“We’re inviting people out to share community with each other and to enjoy each other’s company,” he said.

Super Bowl of Indiana Cattle Shows

(Indianapolis, IN) - The first pitch is about to be thrown in what could be viewed as the World Series for showing beef cattle in Indiana.  The 36th annual Hoosier Beef Congress is scheduled December 2-4 at the Indiana State fairgrounds in Indianapolis.

 

More than 860 people have registered to show a wide variety of male and female breeds in the contest restricted to participants ages 8 to 21, said Joe Moore, Executive Vice-President of the Indiana Beef Cattle Association.  The IBCA is hosting what’s billed as the largest, single state junior cattle show in the U.S.

 

“It’s an action packed weekend,” said Moore.

 

Moore said the show inside the Expo Center at the fairgrounds is limited to IBCA members and their calves mostly born in the spring.  About 1,200 head of young cattle ranging from Red Angus, Shorthorn to Miniature Herford and crossbreeds are kept in stalls inside the saddle horse barn and west pavilion reserved for the contest.

 

There will also be a heifer and market animal sale for those physically present and or online bidders at the contest along with a trade show featuring about 50 vendors offering things like feed and equipment.  Western-type clothing and hats will be among the other items available to purchase.

 

“A lot of it is handmade. People do a lot of early Christmas shopping through our trade show at the Hoosier Beef Congress,” he said.

 

Moore said bidders at the show are typically breeders looking to enhance their herds through genetics.  Other bidders are looking for a calf to show during the contest before taking them home for training to compete again in other events.

 

Moore said the show has been popular from the very beginning in a state where a majority of cattle is raised for breeding purposes or sent to Texas and other major beef producing states like Nebraska for finishing.  Indiana ranks 36th in the nation for cattle production, according to USDA.

 

Moore said cash and other prizes are given to the winners, who often start appearing on the radar screens of breeders from showing an award winning calf.

 

“People pay big money for eggs out of these heifers that do well,” he said.

 

He said the event is also a chance for juniors in the show to further their skills, build reputation and gain notoriety.  Some of the winners are later featured in national magazines.

 

“There’s a lot of publicity that goes along with it,” he said.

 

There is no admission fee for the 4,000 or more people expected to attend the three day event.  Participants are charged a $125 entry fee per animal or $200 for each late entry.  Moore said the event generates a profit but is not really a fund raiser for the IBCA considering the relatively low profit margin once expenses are paid.

 

“It’s an expensive event for us to put on.  We just try to defray the cost for us and offer this to the kids,” he said.

 

The Indiana Beef Cattle Association provides a voice for the concerns of Hoosier beef producers at the state and federal levels of government.  IBCA is also active in promoting the beef industry in other ways like serving 30,000 ribeye steaks from a tent at the Indiana State Fair with help from volunteer producers.

 

The Indianapolis based group also hosts various field days throughout the year to help educate beef producers about the latest developers in areas like technology and an annual convention for members.

 

“IBCA can do things that a single individual cannot. Whether it be promoting beef or representing producers on legislative issues, IBCA works to offer a voice for individual consumers while safeguarding the beef supply,” said Bruce Lamb, a beef producer from Milford and past president of the organization.

Tickets Going Fast for Holiday Concert

(La Porte, IN) - A Christmas music concert extravaganza in La Porte is scheduled next month.  The La Porte County Symphony Orchestra's 28th Annual Holiday at the Pops will take place on December 10 at 7:00 p.m. at La Porte’s Civic Auditorium. 

 

The concert will feature the La Porte High School Mixed Chorale, under the direction of Tom Coe, singing “The Musicological Journey Through the Twelve Days of Christmas” as well as Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas.”

 

Also featured will be the choral group, Illumination, under the direction of Becky Osborn, singing several carols in addition to “Spirit of Christmas.” 

 

Leading the LCSO will be Music Director, Dr. Carolyn Watson, and Associate Conductor, Chuck Steck, as they trade conducting duties throughout the evening.  The evening will conclude with a rousing Tran-Siberian Orchestra arrangement of “Carol of the Bells” followed by the traditional moving closing selection of “Silent Night” performed by the Orchestra and the LCSO audience.

 

The tables on the floor of the Civic Auditorium are sold out.   A number of balcony tickets are available. Tickets can be purchased by visiting “HOLIDAY AT THE POPS” at www.lcso.net.  Tickets can also be purchased at the Civic Auditorium in La Porte.  Tickets are $15.00 for adults and $5.00 for ages 12 and under.  

Grocery Store Food Drive Nears

(Michigan City, IN) - The Salvation Army of Michigan City is hoping to collect food donations from grocery shoppers.  The annual Stuff-A-Sleigh Food Drive is scheduled next week.

 

People are invited to stop in at Al’s Supermarkets on Franklin Street and Karwick Road to purchase and donate food beginning Wednesday.  The main event will be Saturday, December 3, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

 

“The Stuff-A-Sleigh event is a great way to restock our pantry at a time year we could really use the help,” said Major Becky Simmons, who oversees the local Salvation Army with her husband, Major Dale Simmons.

 

Customers can also purchase $7 grocery and meat vouchers to help support the Salvation Army food pantry.

 

The Salvation Army of Michigan City serves an average of 350 families per month or more than 12,000 individuals last year.  The organization also offers a diaper bank, utility assistance and more to those in need in Michigan City.

 

“Every year, we help about 500 families with food and toys for Christmas, and our regular food pantry always seems to be a little busier this time of year,” she said. 

 

For more information, contact the Salvation Army at (219) 874-6885.

Charges Against Ex-Wolves Football Star

(Michigan City, IN) - A former Michigan City High School football star is trouble again with the law.  Kameron Muhammad is charged with level 5 felony Unlawful Carrying of a Handgun.

 

According to court documents, he allegedly had a 9 millimeter handgun without a permit and possessed the firearm within 500 feet of a school.

 

In March of 2021, Muhammad was placed on one-year probation for carrying a firearm without a license.  Mostly recently, a possession of marijuana charged filed against him was dismissed, court records disclosed.

 

Muhammad was a star running back, wide receiver and also returned punts and kick offs for the Wolves.  He graduated in 2019.   Bond for Muhammad was set at $3,500.  He could face anywhere from a one to six year sentence.

Downtown Creation to be Place for Old Memories and New Ones

(La Porte, IN) - Most people don’t know it yet, but a kid-sized version of downtown La Porte is under construction inside a building in downtown La Porte.  It’s the inspiration of Patti Pierson, who is creating a true-to-life children’s playscape in the building adjacent to her current business, the Pink Sheep Boutique.

 

The mini-Maple City is filling up 4,500 square feet that used to be Hilbish Drug Store.

 

“It’s a mini town, a mini version of La Porte for kids to come and play and interact, like a normal city, but little,” Pierson said. “We’re going to eventually have two party rooms; right now we just have the one.”

 

So far, there’s an Al’s supermarket, Archie’s Diner, Downtown Dapper barber shop, and a drive-in movie. A post office, city hall, police and fire stations, Kingsbury Elementary School, and other local attractions are under construction. Kids can cruise around the town in Little Tikes cars and make believe inside the stores.

 

Pierson said the inspiration started when her husband built a dollhouse façade as the checkout area for the Pink Sheep, which is now located in the old Toy Parade section of Hilbish. Now the idea has spilled over to the empty drugstore space next door. Pierson’s husband has done the framing and electrical work, and Patti is doing the rest. They plan to call the whimsical hangout Lil Porte: The Pink Sheep Playtique.

 

Pierson is busy as a Christmas elf detailing the replica storefront play areas. Pending finishing touches and building inspections, she is hoping to open in early December.

Worthy Women Thankful for Second Chances

(La Porte, IN) - At the Worthy Women Recovery Home in La Porte, Thanksgiving happens every day.  Founded by Sonshine Troche, Worthy Women is a faith-based residential facility for women overcoming pasts of criminal activity or drug abuse.

 

Troche says that combating addiction and bad habits has never been harder, but her organization keeps fighting the good fight. “It’s amazing we’re still in existence here after six-and-a-half years of being privately funded,” she said. “It seems like whenever something gets good, then something gets hard again. We just stand strong through it all and keep trusting God.”

 

One of their recent success stories is Michelle Postawa, who graduated from the program herself and is now the administrative assistant. She says, thanks to Worthy Women, she now has a new relationship with her own mother and with God. “It’s been great! It’s really the first time I’ve ever had a job I could move up in and learn so much from,” she said. “I love spending time with the residents and being able to teach them the stuff that I’ve learned— like cleaning, cooking, and Jesus, most of all.”

 

Recently the home has parted ways with a few residents who just wouldn’t toe the line. “They come here, and they say that they want to know God; they say they want to change,” Troche said. “but they don’t really want to change. They do with their mouth, but not with their heart.”

 

According to Troche, old habits are indeed hard to break. “It’s the criminal mindset. They’ve been in jail, in prison, doing drugs for the last twenty years. And trying break that in six months is difficult. We get some of the tougher cases, that’s for sure. But we’re not going to quit.”

 

Presently the home has one young woman from Jasper County in the program.

 

The annual Worthy Women banquet is next Saturday, December 3rd at the Silver Palace in La Porte. Troche says it will involve both fundraising and education. Following a documentary presentation detailing what goes on at Worthy Women, attendees will be invited to ask questions about the recovery process to a panel of experts. “I think it will really open up people’s minds to the reality of recovery,” Troche said.

 

For more information about the Worthy Women program or their upcoming banquet, visit worthyrecovery.net.

New Prairie Preps for Big Game Indoors

(New Carlisle, IN) - One secret to New Prairie’s recent success on the gridiron has been making the most of practice time.  Last week, in preparation for semi-state, the Cougars worked out at La Porte’s Kiwanis Field, which has field turf similar to Kokomo’s.

 

This week, the team practiced indoors at the Dunes Event Center in La Porte. Head Coach Casey McKim said matching practice to game conditions is key to peak performance. “Playing indoors obviously is just a much different type of environment,” he told HTNN. “You got some drier air, and it’s a warmer temperature. So it really makes you sweat a little bit more when you’re playing fast and going hard. It gives you more realistic a look of what it’s going to feel like when we’re in Lucas Oil on Friday.”

 

On Wednesday night the Cougars even got the chance to play at Notre Dame’s indoor football facility in South Bend. McKim said the practice on indoor field turf benefited his team, which is built for speed. “Really this Notre Dame practice was massive,” he said “because playing on turf allows you to really make good, hard cuts, more powerful cuts, and it’s going to be a lot more similar to what we’re going to see in the game.”

 

Assistant coach Bill Gumm leaned on connections at Notre Dame to arrange the indoor field time. Former New Prairie quarterback Chase Ketterer, who currently suits up for the Irish, was on hand at practice Wednesday night.

 

New Prairie (13-1) faces East Central (12-2) for the Class 4A Championship Friday afternoon at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis.

Sheriff's Detectives Fix a Flat

(La Porte, IN) - Here's a feel-good story from your local Sheriff’s Department.  One local woman is thankful today for a couple of La Porte County deputies.

 

On Tuesday a woman on her way to work suffered a flat tire near the La Porte County Government Building. Unbeknownst to her, she pulled into Sheriff John Boyd’s parking spot while she sought help.

 

According to a Sheriff’s Department post, the hard-working mother of several children, including twin five-year-olds, did not have to wait long before officers got their Boy Scout on and jumped to her aid.

 

Detective Austin Howell, who was walking by, quickly recognized the situation and drove the woman to her place of work.

 

Returning in no time flat, Detective Howell and his supervisor Detective Sergeant Scott Boswell changed the tire. Howell returned the woman to her car during her lunch break, but not before filling the car with bags of goodies for her kids.

 

According to sources, Sheriff Boyd did not mind giving up his parking spot for the morning.

Slicers 3rd Quarter Run Overcomes South Bend Riley

(South Bend, IN) - The La Porte Slicer boys basketball team overcame a slow start to defeat South Bend Riley 60-51 in the season opener for both teams Tuesday night in South Bend.

 

Riley jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead in the opening quarter and didn’t trail until the 3rd.   Six different Riley players scored in the opening quarter as the Wildcats led 15-10 after the 1st quarter.

 

La Porte came alive offensively in the 2nd period, led by 10 points from Rylan Kieszkowski. They tied the game at 27 before Riley hit the final 2nd quarter basket to lead 29-27 at halftime.

 

The Wildcats scored the first basket of the 3rd quarter to take a 31-27 lead before La Porte ran off 12 straight points taking their first lead.  This was the only lead change in the game.  Solid Slicer defense held Riley to just three 3rd quarter points. La Porte held a 41-32 advantage heading into the 4th.

 

In the final stanza, the Slicers led by as many as 15 points before Riley rallied behind a turnover forcing press and two long 3 pointers by Manny Hill. The lead was cut to 5 before La Porte iced it with 14-22 free throw shooting in the quarter. La Porte scored only two baskets in the 4th, a 3 pointer by Kieszkowski and a layup from Kyle Kirkham.

 

The steady Kirkham had 19 points to top La Porte. He scored four in the 1st quarter and five in each of the final three periods.  He hit two 3 pointers, four 2 point shots and was 3-4 from the foul line.  Kieszkowski finished with 18 points including four 3’s. Point guard Malik Corley had 10, Tommy Samuelson 7, and Ja’Meriyon Cross 6. Sophomore Nic Spence did not score coming off the bench but was solid defensively and came up with several loose balls.

 

Point guard Marvin Shindler led Riley with 12 points with Hill adding 10. 6’5’ Payton Baird had 8 and was a major force rebounding.

 

La Porte did turn the ball over 20 times against Riley’s aggressive, pressing man to man defense. The Slicers hit six 3 pointers and finished 18-27 from the foul line.

 

The Slicers were without RJ Anglin, who is recovering from a football injury and is due back in December.  Dylan Salisbury was unavailable due to family commitments.

 

The La Porte JV team led wire to wire in an impressive 43-27 win.  Jose Duarte and Freshman Sawyer Tonagel each scored 10 for La Porte. Gage Raymond had 9 and Javelle Broome scored 7.

 

La Porte will travel to Fishers for a 12:30 game Saturday.  The JV game will tipoff at 11:00.

Grants for Good Countywide

(La Porte County, IN)

Unity Foundation of La Porte County is supporting area nonprofit and community  service agencies with its most recent round of ‘Power for Good’ Community Grants.

 

The grants total over $265,000 for 91 local projects throughout La Porte County. 

 

This surpasses past grant amounts made by Unity Foundation.   UF officials said the grants will help local organizations provide vital access to education, literacy, prevention and support services for local residents.  

 

“Community organizations are doing incredible work throughout La Porte County, and Unity is proud to support their efforts.” said Shannon Walker, Unity Foundation Vice President. 

 

This year, Unity Foundation increased the amount of funding available for projects from $3,000 to  $5,000 grants. 

 

The applications were evaluated by a committee of dedicated members from throughout La Porte County. The grants are made possible due to the generosity of visionary donors who left unrestricted funds to Unity Foundation. 

 

2022 Grant Recipients include Advancing Christ's Kingdom Ministries in Michigan City, American Red Cross, Arts in the Park in La Porte, Boys & Girls Club of La Porte County and Citizens Concerned for the Homeless, Inc. in Michigan City along with Girl Scouts of Northern Indiana in Michiana and Goodwill Industries of Michiana, Inc.

Appeals Court Rules Against Stabosz

(Indianapolis, IN) - The attorney for La Porte County government has won his latest legal battle with the La Porte County Auditor.  The Indiana Court of Appeals has unanimously ruled against Tim Stabosz on his challenge of a lower court’s decision not to dismiss a defamation of character lawsuit filed against him by attorney Shaw Friedman.

 

In their written ruling, the appellate judges ruled Stabosz and Friedman appear to be political adversaries and Stabosz left the door open to the possibility that he acted with malice when he accused Friedman of being corrupt without evidence backing up his claims.

 

The appeals court explained Stabosz has not presented evidence of wrongdoing.  In addition, when asked by Friedman to go to the proper authorities with his concerns, Stabosz failed to do so.  By not going to law enforcement, the judges ruled Stabosz gave some indication that he possibly made his claims against Friedman with some degree of doubt that his allegations were true.  

 

The appellate judges also ruled Friedman at this point was not required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stabosz acted in bad faith with his allegations, but has to before a jury to be awarded damages in the case.

 

“While it is undisputed that Friedman would have to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Stabosz acted with actual malice in order to be successful at trial, at this stage in the proceedings, Friedman was not required to prove actual malice by clear and convincing evidence,” the ruling stated.

 

In response, Stabosz said he will discuss with his legal counsel the possibility of taking his request for dismissal of the case to the Indiana Supreme Court.  He stated that he went to certain authorities like the La Porte County Commissioners and the Indiana State Board of Accounts with his concerns.  Stabosz said he didn’t go to law enforcement locally, alleging individuals like the prosecutor and Friedman are in the same political camp.

 

“I didn’t have any faith they would do anything,” he said.

 

Stabosz said there’s no obligation to report wrongdoing to the proper authorities to have a defamation case dismissed.

 

“The notion that your rights to have a defamation lawsuit against you dismissed because you didn’t go to authorities are absurd. That’s a misapplication of the law,” he said.

 

Stabosz also disagreed with the ruling that Friedman does not have to prove at a much higher level that he acted maliciously or with reckless disregard for the truth for the case to be dismissed.

 

In addition, Stabosz said much of his evidence rests with individuals who have pledged to testify against Friedman at trial.  He said the Indiana Court of Appeals seemed to want the case decided at trial rather than grant dismissal.

 

“They basically punted,” he said.

 

Bill Jonas, an attorney from South Bend representing Friedman in the defamation case, offered this reaction to the appellate court ruling.

 

“The opinion speaks for itself,” he said.

 

Jonas said the court failed to dismiss the case because Stabosz has not shown that his statements about Friedman were made with a reasonable basis in fact and in good faith.  Jonas said the defamation case will now move forward again toward trial.

 

He would not estimate when the case could be settled or go to a jury since there’s still a lot of work to be done before it can be decided.

Evicted Tenant Resists Police

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man is accused of striking a police officer who went to his home with a court ordered eviction notice.  Caleb Brown, 29, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with battery and intimidation, both level 5 felonies.

 

According to court documents, a La Porte County Police officer went to a two story dwelling containing six apartments in the 400 block of Lincolnway on November 15th.  Attempts to reach Brown were unsuccessful until he walked outside with two large containers of an unknown liquid and dumped the contents in the grass.

 

Police said the officer told Brown he was evicted and there was a need to discuss him moving out.  The court documents revealed Brown violently attempted to shut and lock the front door several times but the officer kept him from closing the door.  Brown allegedly shoved the officer then grabbed a tire iron and held it in a threatening manner, police said.

 

The officer drew his gun and commanded him several times to drop the tire iron and Brown eventually complied.


Police said the eviction notice was issued by the court on October 26th.  Brown could face anywhere from one to six years on each count.

New Time and Route for Santa Parade

(La Porte, IN) - The annual Santa Parade in La Porte will happen this Saturday but at a different time and on a new route.   This year, the parade will start at State and Tipton Streets on Saturday at 3:00 p.m.

 

Close to 30 units will head westbound on State Street to Michigan Avenue before veering southbound on Michigan Avenue.  The parade will then proceed eastbound on Lincolnway to Plaza 618.

 

After the parade, there will be event at Plaza 618 including the singing of Christmas carols, tree lighting and visits with Santa Claus in his chalet.

 

Charity Hlavsa, owner of Hotspot Café and president of the La Porte Small Business Coalition, said the start of the parade was changed from 11 a.m. to allow parade units to have lights visible in the dark and for the lights on the tree to be better seen when illuminated.

 

“They just thought it would be a different feel.  It’s very cool,” she said.

 

Hlavsa said downtown businesses will offer discounts and specials during the festivities as part of Small Business Saturday held annually two days after Thanksgiving.  She said there will also be vendors under the lights on Monroe Street just north of Lincolnway.

 

"The Santa Parade is a time-honored tradition in our community, and we would love to see it grow and flourish.  We hope these additions will draw an even bigger crowd to celebrate the start of the Christmas season," said Brett Binversie, the city’s Events and Civic Coordinator.

Traffic Stop Becomes Major Drug Bust

(Michigan City, IN) - A traffic stop in Michigan City uncovered a suspected dealer of methamphetamine.  Thomas McGowan, 62, is charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with dealing in methamphetamine.

 

According to court documents, police stopped his vehicle last week at U.S. 421 and Kieffer Road for a not having a working license plate light.  After a small amount of marijuana was found in the vehicle, police said 28 grams of methamphetamine was located in the pocket of a coat laying in the back seat.  Another substance, suspected to be cocaine, was also recovered from the pocket of his cargo pants.

 

McGowan revealed he’s a recovering addict who uses only a small amount of narcotics at a time, police said. He also disclosed to police that he was going to sell the methamphetamine on behalf of someone else because it’s easier to sell the drug in Michigan City than bubble gum or cigarettes. 

 

McGowan could face anywhere from a 10 to 30 year sentence.  McGowan has a prior conviction for dealing methamphetamine from 2014 in downstate Cass County.

INDOT Seeks Public Input for U.S. 30

(Indianapolis, IN) - A series of public meetings are scheduled to discuss potential upgrades to stretches of highways such as U.S. 30 in La Porte County.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Transportation,  study teams looking at the future vision and scope of the potential changes on U.S. 30 and U.S. 31 are seeking input from the public.

 

Public information meetings will be held in each of the four study areas:

 

US 30 West 

Wednesday, November 30, 2022 

  • 5-7 p.m., presentation at 6 p.m.
  • Oregon Davis School (5990 N. 750 E., Hamlet, IN 46532) 

US 30 East 

Monday, December 5, 2022

  • 5-7 p.m., presentation at 6 p.m.
  • Sweetwater Sound (5501 US Hwy 30 W., Fort Wayne, IN 46818) 

Tuesday, December 6, 2022 

  • 5-7 p.m., presentation at 6 p.m.
  • Lincoln Elementary School (203 N. Lincoln St., Warsaw, IN 46580)

US 31 North 

Thursday, December 1, 2022 

  • 5-7 p.m., presentation at 6 p.m.
  • Rochester Community High School (1645 S. Park Rd., Rochester, IN 46975)

US 31 South 

Wednesday, December 7, 2022 

  • 5-7 p.m., presentation at 6 p.m.
  • Tipton County Fairgrounds (1200 S. Main St., Tipton, IN 46072)

Thursday, December 8, 2022 

  • 5-7 p.m., presentation at 6 p.m.
  • Peru Jr. High School (30 Daniel St., Peru, IN 46970)

To accommodate those unable to attend the in-person public meetings, recorded presentations and opportunities to comment will be available after each meeting at ProPELUS30.com and ProPELUS31.com.

 

In addition to public information meetings, ProPEL US 30 and US 31 study team members are visiting communities on a regular basis to hold office hours.  Office hours are informal, in-person conversations where residents, businesses and others interested in the studies can ask questions, provide input, and receive regular updates.

 

ProPEL US 30 and US 31 is an INDOT initiative to streamline transportation planning using collaborative PEL studies to consider environmental, community, and economic goals early in the planning process.  Once the studies are completed in 2024, INDOT will evaluate results to identify and develop projects along these corridors.

 

There has been talk for years of converting much of U.S. 30 into more of an interstate by reducing the amount of intersections and other changes to allow for faster travel across the state.

Salvation Army Dinner Plans Revealed

(Michigan City, IN) - The Salvation Army of Michigan City is hosting its annual Thanksgiving Community Meal on Thursday from 11:30am to 1:00pm.  Majors Dale and Becky Simmons remind the public the meal is free and open to anyone in the community.

 

“To us, Thanksgiving is about people being together. We don’t want anyone to spend this holiday alone, so if you are looking for someone to celebrate with come have lunch with us,” Mrs. Simmons said.

 

The meal will include turkey, ham, side dishes and desserts.  Turkeys and hams for the meal were donated by the Rotary Club of Michigan City and cooked by Blue Chip Casino.  Local physicians contribute financially to the meal every year.

 

“We just love how giving this community is, and how generously people give of their time, treasure and talent to help the less fortunate in their community. To us, that is what Thanksgiving is all about, being thankful for what you have, and making sure others don’t go without,” Mrs. Simmons said.

 

More information on Salvation Army programs and services, including ways to volunteer, call 219-874-6885 or visit www.samichigancity.org

Holiday Tradition Featured at Museum

(La Porte County, IN) - A miniature church, made from scratch with moving parts, will be featured during a special event outside La Porte next month.  The annual Night at the Giese Church is scheduled December 17 at the La Porte County Historical Society Museum on U.S. 35 just outside the southern edge of the city limits.  The two hour program begins at 6 p.m.

 

“Come on down to see this amazing church that has been a holiday tradition in La Porte for decades and learn the history behind it!,” said Savannah Jackson, Assistant Director of the La Porte County Historical Society Museum.  Admission is by donation.  Hot cocoa and cookies will be provided.

 

Otto Giese made a pact with God to do something special if he made it back home from World War II, according to local historians.  He worked with craftsmen and corporate heads locally to design and build the life-like church with mechanical parishioners, including mothers and their babies, in every pew.

 

The sound of church bells typical for that time period ring out at the push of a button followed by recordings of Christmas songs performed in churches like ‘’Heaven and Nature Sing’’ and ‘’Joy to the World.”  28 wooden choir members powered by a conveyor and holding lighted candles make their way down the aisle.

 

Next, a minister made of wood comes out from behind the altar with a recorded message about the true meaning of the season before kneeling in front of an image of the last supper.

 

After retiring in 1978, Giese donated the church to the museum where it’s been out for the public to see ever since.  Giese was 90 when he died in 2002.

 

Since a 1994 restoration, much of the church is powered by computer so there’s fewer parts and less maintenance.

 

 

 

Manure Pit Death Questions Remain

(Jasper County, IN) - Questions still remain on how a 30-year old man working on a Northwest Indiana dairy farm wound up in a manure pit and died.  The body of Gordon Van Baren was recovered from the 14 foot deep lagoon about four hours after he disappeared in the muck at Windy Ridge Dairy in Fair Oaks on November 11th.  Van Baren was from Wheatfield, Indiana.

 

Jasper County Coroner Andrew Boersma said the victim bled to death when one of his legs was shattered and severed below the knee cap.  His body was recovered from the bottom of the pit about 25 feet from the edge of the lagoon where he was last seen.

 

Boersma said a machine on four wheels equipped with a boom was being used to lower an agitator into the pit.  Agitators stir up the water to keep solids in the liquid from settling to the bottom.  They also keep the mixture of cow feces and urine, along with the water, mixed well enough to be pumped into tanks and applied as fertilizer in the fields.  

 

According to authorities, Van Baren was doing the job with a co-worker.  For some reason, Boersma said the machine rolled toward the pit at some point after the co-worker left to retrieve something.  The machine was reportedly resting on a slope on a frosty morning.

 

Boersma said Van Baren was last seen at the edge of the pit but his location at the time of his leg being severed and exactly how it happened were not known since there were no witnesses.  He said Van Baren more than likely bled to death in less than 60 seconds.  There was no fluid discovered in his lungs during an autopsy.

 

“He didn’t drown,” Boersma said.

 

Boersma would not speculate if the amputation resulted from him being pinned between the machine and agitator.  Jasper County Sheriff Patrick Williamson said the police side of the investigation also provided no further answers.

 

“Nobody actually saw him go under but they just knew he wasn’t there anymore,” he said.

 

Authorities said a boat and treble hook were used to try and recover the body when it was found at the bottom of the pit about four hours later, roughly 25 feet away from the edge of the approximately one million gallon lagoon.  The farm has a few thousand or more head of dairy cattle.

 

According to authorities, the pit was in the process of being pumped out when the body was located.  Williamson said the rubber lined pit is roughly 100 to 200 feet long and 50 to 100 feet wide.

 

Bill Field, a farm safety expert at Purdue University, said manure pit deaths are not uncommon and happen more often on dairy farms than hog operations, judging from data gathered nationwide since 1980.  He said a lot of fatalities result from heavy machinery scraping manure from the ground operating too close to the edge and falling into the pits.

 

Field said the walls of manure pits often run straight to the bottom and submerged heavy equipment operators often don’t have enough time to free themselves from the safety devices on the machines to keep from drowning.  He said some of the other manure pit deaths happen when people jump in to try and rescue a victim.

 

Field said swimming is possible in the mixture, which is thicker than water, but the problem is exhaustion from the walls of pits being steep and are typically too high above the surface to scale.

 

“There’s just no way you’re going to climb up out of it,” he said.

 

Field said robots are used in some parts of Europe to scrape manure into pits.

 

“If something goes in there, it’s going to be the robot but the robots are trained.  It’s programmed not to go to a certain point,” he said.

Leaf Pick-Up Resuming

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte residents should not worry about getting rid of leaves that are covered by snow right now.  A major warm up is on the way and the city is continuing with leaf pick up which has been delayed due to the early taste of winter.

 

During last night’s city council meeting, Mayor Tom Dermody said leaf pick up is resuming.

 

“We had a late drop of leaves.  An early snow caused an issue but they’re continuing to get them.  Continuing to pick-up,” he said.

 

The forecast is calling for temperatures in the 40’s and 50’s for at least the next seven days.

 

Street department crews are working clockwise making multiple passes through neighborhoods to collect and dispose of leaf piles that have been left at the curb.

Federal Prison for Firearms Violator

(Michigan City, IN) - Another firearms violator in Michigan City is off to a federal prison.  Santana Miller, 37, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in South Bend after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.  He received an 87 month prison sentence followed by three years of supervised release.

 

According to authorities, Miller was in possession a handgun and a rifle in April but it was illegal for him to have firearms due to his criminal past.  At the time, he was on federal supervised release for a controlled substance related conviction and haa four prior felony convictions, authorities said.

 

The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with the assistance of the Michigan City Police Department. 

 

The conviction stems from Project Safe Neighborhoods, a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence.

 

Earlier this month, Sergio Adams, 33, also of Michigan City was given a 52 month federal prison sentence for illegal possession of a firearm.  He was prohibited from having the handgun he was found with, also due to his criminal history.

 

Quick Work on Chimney Related House Fire

(La Porte, IN) - A house in La Porte suffered just minimal damage this morning thanks to the quick work of firefighters. 

 

Just after midnight, there was a call from 2104 Michigan Avenue.  Upon arrival, Fire Chief Andy Snyder said the siding on the house adjacent to a brick chimney was on fire.  He said the fireplace was being used and the chimney had some maintenance issues that led to parts of the structure catching fire.

 

“It appears that some mortar joints had deteriorated away and allowed the heat and flames to leave the fire box and ignite some surrounding material to the exterior of the house,” he said.

 

Firefighters managed to douse the flames quickly enough to limit the estimated structure damage to $5,000.  Snyder said the residents were able to continue living in the home.

Response High for Turkey Giveaway

(La Porte, IN) - One thousand free turkeys were given away Monday in Michigan City and La Porte.  The frozen turkeys from the Food Bank of Northern Indiana were passed out by Citizens Concerned for the Homeless with help from members of the Michigan City based organization and volunteers.

 

People inside 50 or more vehicles were waiting at each site when the drive-thru event began at 9 a.m. at Marquette Mall and 12:30 p.m. at the LaPorte County Fairgrounds.  All of the turkeys had been given out when the two hour giveaway was over at both locations.

 

Dyana Karaff of La Porte said she was not able to afford a turkey for Thanksgiving this year.  Karaff said she was already struggling to meet her monthly expenses on a fixed income before inflation skyrocketed.  “It’s killing us,” she said.

 

Penny Peterson, also of La Porte, said her monthly budget is strained from her husband being unable to work since recently having surgery.  Peterson wasn’t sure if her family’s Thanksgiving would have included a turkey on the dinner table if not for the free bird.

 

“This helps out a lot,” she said.

 

Tammy Rosebaum, Operations Director at CCH, said about 300 turkeys were handed out in the first hour at La Porte where people began showing up at 11 a.m.  The vehicles were allowed through the gates early to keep them from backing up onto the shoulder of Indiana 2.

 

“We had them wrapped all the way around the fairgrounds,” she said.

 

Rosebaum said the waiting vehicles in Michigan City stretched for about as long as a football field or more across the mall parking lot to St. John Road.

 

“The traffic was a big thing this morning because people got here so early,” said Bruce Stransky, a volunteer who helped direct traffic and unload turkeys from the back of a truck.

 

Sandra Mitchell of Michigan City passed out turkeys after responding to an advertisement seeking volunteers for the event.

 

“It’s always nice making other people smile,” she said.

 

Jim Musial, Executive Director of CCH, said the response was a reflection of the financial hardship caused by inflation in a county where the percentage of people living at or close to the poverty line is high.  He said lingering struggles from loss of employment during the pandemic was another reason for the demand.

 

“You know what the prices are at the grocery store.  People are struggling,” he said.

 

CCH, which has run other community food giveaways, focuses mostly on serving the needs of the homeless.  The group provides a facility for homeless people to store their belongings, take a shower and get something to eat while on the streets.

 

Other help is offered by the group in areas like upgrading job skills, finding employment and permanent housing.

Rare Loss at Home for La Lumiere

(La Porte County, IN) - La Lumiere lost its first game of the young high school basketball season in a November 18 game featuring two teams ranked in the top 20 nationwide.  The Lakers (4-1) were defeated at home 75 to 71 by The Skill Factory, a college prep school from Atlanta, Georgia.

 

With the game tied in the second quarter, La Lumiere reclaimed the lead on back to back three point shots from Trenton Walters and Gus Yaldron.  A two handed slam dunk by Kaleb Glenn made the score 30-23 with 50 seconds left in the second quarter.  La Lumiere took a five point lead into halftime.

 

TSF (7-0) opened the third quarter with a three point shot and dunk to quickly even the score.  It wasn’t long before the Lakers took a nine point lead with help from a driving lay-up by Walters, a three point shot from Zaiden Lowery and dunk from Yaldron.

 

The lead soon evaporated, though, from the three point shooting of TSF and their ability to score close to the rim.  Another three point shot from the baseline gave TSF its first lead with just over six minutes left in the final period.  Both teams exchanged leads until TSF went ahead for good with about two minutes to play in the game.

 

TSF extended their to five points with less than 30 seconds on the game clock, forcing the Lakers on defense to foul.  However, TSF locked up the victory by sinking all but one of their free throws.

 

Walters hit a desperation three point shot from near half court to cut the lead to two points with just two seconds left in the game.

 

Yaldron, a 6’9” center from Appleton, Wisconsin led the Lakers on offense with 20 points.

 

Lowery, a 6’4” guard from Springfield, Missouri, scored 18 points while Kalen Glenn, a 6’7” forward out of Louisville, Kentucky added 12 points.

 

Head Coach Pat Holmes said he was disappointed but not surprised at the outcome considering TSF has eight players already committed to Division 1 college basketball programs.  Holmes also said seven players were lost from last year’s squad due to graduation but still likes the chances of this year’s squad returning to the Geico National Finals given the quality of the replacements.

 

La Lumiere has received a bid to the national finals almost every year for the past decade and won the championship in 2017.  The current Lakers team has several players already signed to play at big time college programs like Louisville, Wisconsin and Marquette.

 

“We have a bunch of new faces, but we got a really good group that’s coming to together, learning to play together and playing the right way,” Holmes said.

Weather Linked to Fatal Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - One person was killed in a multi-vehicle crash outside La Porte over the weekend.  It happened Saturday about 4 p.m. on Johnson Road at County Road 500 West.

 

According to La Porte County Police, Dwayne Nash, 65, of Michigan City ran a stop sign and collided with another vehicle that was eastbound on Johnson Road.  Joseph Childers, 45, also of Michigan City was a passenger in the Nash vehicle.

 

Childers reportedly suffered an upper body injury and was taken to a hospital but later died. 

 

Nash told investigators his visibility was reduced from snow and windy conditions.  The other driver, Dennis Pulver, 69, of La Porte complained of upper body pain but refused further medical treatment.

 

Nash was not injured, police said.  According to police, alcohol was not a factor in the collision. 

Defense, Special Teams Propel New Prairie to State

(Kokomo, IN) - Coming into Friday night’s Class 4A semistate matchup between #7 New Prairie (12-1) and #6 Kokomo (12-1), the storylines seemed clear enough. It was all about dominant offensive lines, dynamic quarterbacks, and lots of points. By the end of the game, however, that storyline had switched to stubborn defenses and the goofy bounce of an oblong football.

 

The Cougars travelled to Kokomo Friday night, where the only thing colder than the offenses was the weather.

 

The Wild Kats scored on the opening drive. New Prairie failed to answer with their first opportunity. A touchdown run by junior quarterback Marshall Kmiecik was erased by a penalty.

 

The teams traded possessions for rest of the first half. New Prairie seemed fortunate to head into the locker room down only six.

 

The defensive battle continued in the second half. Kokomo stopped New Prairie on a fourth-and- short. New Prairie returned the favor on the next drive. And so it went, back and forth, until Kokomo hit a 35-yard field goal at end of the third quarter, following a Kmiecik interception.

 

New Prairie’s defense kept them in the game.  Then special teams kicked in. The Cougars got on the board with a 28-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter.

 

Assuming that Kokomo would try to run out the clock, New Prairie head coach Casey McKim made a gutsy call to onside kick. Senior Brice VanBruaene recovered the ball, and a subsequent pass play from Kmiecik to senior Dallas Ryans set up the game-tying touchdown.

 

The extra point attempt was blocked, but a Kokomo penalty gave the Cougars one more try. Junior kicker Owen Chalik made good, giving New Prairie their only lead of the game with 2:45 left to play.

 

McKim said he felt the onside kick, which Chalik executed perfectly, was the only way to seize control of the game. “You want to create as many opportunities as you can to get the ball back,” he said. “Our special teams coordinator did a great job of letting us know, ‘hey, we’re down two scores, we gotta kick this field goal, and let’s go for onside right away.’ So it worked out well.”

 

The nail biting continued as Kokomo mounted one last drive. The Wild Kats converted on a fourth-and-long, but New Prairie’s defense turned them away four plays later to secure the Semistate Championship.

 

Police escorts led the team busses home. Before returning to school with their semistate trophy, the caravan drove though New Carlisle and Rolling Prairie, where fans lined the streets honking horns and cheering. McKim reflected on the success the Cougars have enjoyed so far. “It is absolutely unbelievable,” he said during the victorious bus ride. “Just the people and the passion. Our young men’s effort and the work they put in, the coaches and the amount of time they put in. It just takes so many things to reach this level… It’s just unbelievable when it all comes together to be able to do something special.”

 

For the second time in school history, New Prairie’s football team will be playing for a state championship. New Prairie will face East Central for the 4A State Championship next Friday afternoon at Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis.

Walmart Settling Opioid Lawsuit

(Indianapolis, IN) - Walmart has tentatively agreed to a $3.1 billion settlement to resolve allegations that it may have contributed to the opioid addiction crisis by not properly overseeing its drug prescriptions.

 

16 attorneys general across the country sued Walmart, including Indiana’s Todd Rokita. Rokita’s office reported this week that Hoosiers affected by the case will share about $53 million.

   

The megastore has not admitted to any wrongdoing, but has tentatively agreed to terms.  In addition to the damages, the proposed agreement requires Walmart to improve its oversight of opioids.

 

This settlement follows similar announcements by CVS and Walgreens, each of which stand to pay about $5 billion each in proposed settlements.

Winter Will Test Limited E-Learning in Indiana

(Indianapolis, IN) - Inclement weather this week had local school officials carefully considering their options, given a new state law regarding e-learning.

 

House Bill 1093, which took effect this school year, now limits the number of e-learning days to only three per year. And on those days, teachers must be online with the students at least half of the time.

 

Administrators who had come to rely on e-learning to cover snow days are now limited in how often they can do it. Snow days that can’t be covered by e-learning may be tacked on to the end of the year.

 

Some schools have built extra snow days into their calendars. New Prairie, for example, cancelled school Friday and will make up the day on Feb. 20.

 

Legislators enacted the law to encourage and maximize in-person instruction.

 

Police Snatch Fleeing Drug User

(Michigan City, IN) - Things have become worse for a suspected Michigan City drug user now charged with leading police on a vehicle pursuit.  Keith Patz, 37, was arrested early Tuesday.

 

According to court documents, Patz had just purchased some drugs before an officer witnessed him run a stop sign in the area of 10th and Spring Streets on the north side of Michigan City.

 

During the short pursuit which led Police down several side streets, the back doors on his yellow 2005 Chevy pick-up truck partially opened, allowing various items from the vehicle to fall into the roadway, police said.  One of the items was a metal bracket that punctured a tire on the officer’s vehicle.

 

Patz turned down an alley then fled from the vehicle on foot and entered his the home of his mother.   Officers soon went to the residence escorted Patz outside in handcuffs according to the court records.

 

Police were reviewing the items that fell out of the truck when they came across a plastic bag containing 28 grams of methamphetamine.  A passenger in the vehicle told investigators he tossed the bag out of the truck at the request of Patz, who indicated he also uses heroin and fentanyl, court documents revealed.

 

Patz was being held without bond on charges of possession of methamphetamine, two counts of resisting law enforcement and driving on a suspended license.

Bond Set for Accused Child Molester

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man could face a potential lengthy prison sentence on allegations he sexually violated an elementary school girl.  Mark Handtke, 36, is charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with three counts of child molesting.

 

According to court documents, authorities were contacted in late September after the seven-year old girl told her mother about the alleged encounters.  Handtke is accused of touching the girl in a sexual manner more than once over a several month period and making her pleasure him on at least one occasion.

 

The documents also revealed that the girl’s mother told investigators she became suspicious after seeing Handtke earlier this year playing with her daughter’s hair and telling her she was “beautiful.”  The mother also told police her daughter always denied there was anything sexual happening until just recently.

 

Handtke and the woman lived together while the girl often stayed at their residence, authorities said.  Handtke told investigators he was often responsible for watching the girl while her mother was working.   He has denied molesting the girl, police said.

 

Each of the two level 1 felony counts against Handtke carry sentencing range of 20 to 40 years while the remaining level 4 felony count mandates anywhere from 2 to 12 years.  He was being held in the La Porte County Jail on $100,000 bond. 

Charges in Box Truck Heist

(La Porte County, IN) - Two La Porte residents have been arrested in connection with a stolen box truck, which was later found to contain items like guns and drugs.  Matthew Murphy, 34, and Christen Bridegroom, 26, are charged in La Porte Circuit Court.

 

According to court records, the moving truck was stolen in La Porte and located the next day in the driveway of a residence on 400 South, about two miles east of Kingsbury.  During a search of the home, officers were initally unable to locate Murphy, who was soon found trying to slip away on foot.  Police said Bridegroom was one of three women standing around the box truck when officers showed up.

 

Police said the investigation shows the Budget Rent a Car box truck was reported stolen in La Porte.  Court documents revealed the contents of the truck to include a shotgun with serial numbers removed, two other firearms, ammunition and marijuana.  Also reported to be found in the stolen truck by Police were prescription drugs and other medication for erectile dysfunction.

 

Murphy and Bridegroom are both charged in connection with the theft, removing of the serial numbers from the gun, and illegal possession of marijuana and prescription drugs. 

Jail for Rap Music Fan

(La Porte County, IN) - Charges have been filed against a man who rapped his way to the La Porte County Jail.  Darvell Cheers, 22, of Chicago was pulled over November 10 on the Indiana Toll Road outside La Porte for speeding in a road construction zone.

 

Court documents revealed that an Indiana State Police officer recovered a plastic bag of marijuana from the vehicle along with other items such as a glass bong.

 

Police said Cheers was also found with an expired vehicle registration and driver’s license.  While being transported to the La Porte County Jail, they said Cheers started rapping.  After denied permission to use his cell phone, Cheers attempted to make a call anyway using the voiced activated SIRI program in the device.

 

According to the the court documents, Cheers was taken to the ground when he began resisting the officer while at the jail.  He was held on the ground until jail officers arrived to bring him under control.  The arresting officer suffered a broken finger nail which was bleeding along with pain to both of his hands as a result of the encounter.

Narrow Band of Heavy Lake Snow

(La Porte County, IN) - A heavy lake effect snow band locked in just north of La Porte by the Toll Road and north of U.S 20 in the Springville and New Carlisle areas this morning.  Motor vehicle accidents occurred in that zone, including one that shut down Indiana 39 near U.S. 20 this morning.

 

In other nearby areas, like Eastwood Road on the east side of Michigan City and on Wozniak Road between Indiana 2 and Johnson Road, exprienced only snow flurries.

 

Kankakee Township Fire Chief Chip Winters, who lives in Rolling Prairie on 400 East between U.S. 20 and Indiana 2, said there was heavy snow early this morning where he resides, however it tapered off to light snow fall after sunrise.

 

“Travel on U.S. 20, when I was out earlier was slick.  My older daughter went to work in South Bend.  She said it was not too bad.  She made it there with no problems,” he said.

 

Winters said there’s about four to five inches of fresh snow fell overnight at his residence.

Thanksgiving Eve Meal Plans Unveiled

(La Porte, IN) - State Street Community Church and the Pax Center are hosting their 11th annual Thanksgiving Eve meal on November 23rd from 5-7 PM.  The dinner happens at the church, located at 209 State Street in downtown LaPorte. 

 

Since 2011, hundreds of residents have visited the community-inclusive meal, allowing people to share a free Thanksgiving meal with neighbors and community members. The meal includes a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, ham, and all the trimmings. 

 

Pastor Nate Loucks, CEO and President of the Pax Center and Lead Pastor of State Street Community Church, said the meal's importance is more than just food.

 

"We believe that, though hunger is an incredibly serious issue that needs to be addressed at every level in a community, the holidays are also some of the loneliness times for people in our community. So we want to help provide a place for people to gather around the holidays, so we all know we're not alone during this time," Loucks said. 

 

To house the meal, the church's sanctuary is converted into a large cafeteria with space for over 100 people at a time. In addition, the church coffee house area will be set up with tables and chairs. Live music or A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special will also play during the meal. 

 

"Our Thanksgiving Eve meal is one of our favorite events of the year. As a church community, we have the honor of opening our home to the community at large and making sure people know that there's a place at the table for you, too. It's a joy to offer a warm, delicious meal and a place to find belonging," said Pastor Becky Crain.

 

For more information about the Thanksgiving Eve meal, email Becky Crain at bcrain@statestreet.church, call (219) 690-8057, or visit statestreet.church.

Hog Farmer Hams for Hungry

(Indianapolis, IN) - The task seems much greater for hog farmers nationwide to donate enough hams and other pork products to feed the hungry this time of year because of inflation.   The annual “Give-a-Ham” challenge by the National Pork Producers Council is kicking off in states like Indiana.                                        

 

Indiana Pork donated nearly 400 large hams to Gleaners Food Bank in Indianapolis on November 16th, where requests for assistance have gone up significantly at the pantries they serve in 21 counties throughout central and southern areas of the state.

 

Indiana Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch and Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler were among the dignitaries on hand when the donation was made at the food bank at 3737 Waldemere Avenue.                                    

 

Jeanette Merritt, a spokesperson for Indiana Pork, said the donated hams were given away at the food bank’s drive-thru window to people waiting an hour or longer in a line vehicles streching more than a half mile long.

 

“It was very eye opening to see how great the need still is.  It doesn’t look like it’s going away,” she said. 

 

Pig farmers and others involved in the pork industry across the country are encouraged through social media to donate to organizations serving people with food insecurities.  From there, the challenge works its way down to members of the general public, who are asked to give to inform neighbors and others in need on where they can go for their next meal. 

 

Governor Eric Holcomb, for example, answered the challenge from Crouch to donate a ham.  Fred Glass, CEO and President of Gleaners Food Bank, accepted the ham from the governor and challenged Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett to donate a ham to someone in need.  Participants can share their donation stories on social media using the #GiveAHam and #Poundsofham.                                                  

 

National Pork Board President Heather Hill, an Indiana hog farmer near Greenfield, called food insecurity a big issue even among children in households struggling to put enough food on tables. 

 

“Many of those are people that we know,” she said.                                                                                                                   
Development Director Katie DeForest of Hoosiers Feeding the Hungry Fund said her organization near Ft. Wayne has received 30% more requests for meat from food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the state.  So far, DeForest said all of the needs have been met but she wonders how long depleting supplies will last without meat donations coming in at a quicker pace.

 

“I don’t know if we’ll be able to keep it up" ,she said.

 

The La Porte Salvation Army reported a 60% increase in requests for food boxes at Christmas in the communities it serves about 20 miles south of Lake Michigan.  The increase is about 30% with requests for children toys. 

 

"Times are getting more difficult and those needing assistance are increasing,” said Major Charles Pinkston.                                               

 

Pinkston, who previously worked at Salvation Army branches in the other states, said any increase in need for food and toys from year to year, typically, is in the single digits.                                                                                                                                             

“We usually see slight increases from year to year but nothing like the increase here this year,” he said.

Back to Jail for Selling Cocaine

(Michigan City, IN) - A convicted cocaine dealer from Michigan City could return to prison.  Anttwon Merriweather, 44, is charged with two counts of level 2 felony dealing in cocaine or narcotic drug.

 

According to court documents, he was caught twice selling a large amount of cocaine in February and March of this year.  Police said the first transaction involved 14.1 grams of crack cocaine for $280 outside Walgreens in the 1800 block of Franklin Street.  He next received $560 in exchange for 14 grams of crack cocaine in the area of Barker Avenue and Maple Street.

 

Merriweather is being held in the La Porte County Jail on $20,000 bond. 

 

In 2005, Merriweather was given a 10-year sentence for dealing cocaine.  According to court records, six years of the sentence was spent on work release while the balance was served on probation.

County Attorney Seems to Bid Farewell

(La Porte County, IN) - The Attorney for La Porte County gave what sounded like a farewell speech during the La Porte County Commissioners meeting last night.

 

It’s believed Friedman will be replaced as County Attorney at the first of the year due to an apparent change in the balance of power on the Commission following the defeat of incumbent Shelia Matia in the mid-term election.

 

Friedman, whose appointment as County Attorney was the source of nearly two-years of bitter political fighting, urged the Commissioners to get back to reaching across parties and vowed to be there whenever needed if he’s not reappointed County Attorney.

 

“Be willing to work across the aisle to get things done and let’s try to get back to the bipartisan cooperation that has existed here for decades. Whether I’m County Attorney or not, I will never stop advocating for our county and I will be available as needed to county officials after January 1st for anyone who needs or desires assistance on any issue facing our county,” he said.


Friedman also advised the Commissioners to look outside county government, if necessary, for guidance.

 

“You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  There are 91 other counties and someone else is dealing with the same issues or same problems as you are.  Learn best practices from other counties, the Indiana Association of Counties, Indiana Municipal Lawyers Association and incorporate them here."  

 

"Every new practice we’ve instituted is because elected officials or department heads came to us requesting assistance and we provided it and that often means being willing to adopt best practices used elsewhere and also to advocate and lobby for this county’s interests in any way possible,” Friedman said.

 

Friedman highlighted some of his most recent accomplishments as County Attorney including the assitance he provided for the nearly completed construction of an EMS base, a new county highway garage near Rolling Prairie, and financing his firm helped secure for rail connectivity at Kingsbury Industrial Park to further develop the grounds.

 

He also cited his assistance with forming the Fairgrounds Management and Events Corporation that paved the way for desperately needed improvements to the fairgrounds allowing the fairgrounds to host more events on a more year round basis.  Friedman said the County Fair is no longer saddled with red ink as a result of his help related to the Fairgrounds improvements, which came at the request five-years ago by La Porte County Councilman Terry Garner. 

 

“I so appreciate Councilman Garner’s generous comments publicly at a council meeting July 25th where he said he couldn’t have started FMEC without my help and I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished together, an accomplishment he cited as the major accomplishment of his twenty years in county office,” Friedman said.

 

He also vowed to work toward a smooth transition with his successor if he’s not reappointed as County Attorney.

 

Friedman has been County Attorney for a vast majority of the time since the 1980’s.

Snow Brings Nightmare Traveling

(La Porte County, IN) - Traveling in La Porte County was described as a nightmare last night during the first heavy snow event of the season.

 

One roadway experiencing issues was Johnson Road.  After the snow began falling heavily, just before 4 p.m., several vehicles slid off Johnson Road.  Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski says traffic on Johnson Road west of U.S. 35 was bumper to bumper.  She indicated of vehicles were having difficulty making it up the hill near Holton Road because of the heavy moisture in the snow.

 

“It was so icy and slushy nobody was getting traction. It was a nightmare,” Pierzakowski said.

 

Pierzakowski estimated five to six inches of snow fell during a less than three hour period until slowing down after 7 p.m.  She said it took her about 20 minutes to get home in what’s normally a 10 minute trip.

 

Road conditions this morning are reported to be covered with snow in spots on  county roads and primarily wet on the state highways.  La Porte County Sheriff John Boyd reported no major problems driving into work from the northern part of the county.

 

“For the most part, they’re good.  I would suggest driving below the posted speed limit on those county roads,” Boyd said.

Outages from Heavy Lake Snow

(Berrien Springs, MI) - Not much lake effect snow has fallen here but enough has come down in parts of southwest Michigan to cause a good number of power outages.

 

Indiana Michigan Power Company reported about 90-percent of their customers have had their service restored.  The utility company revealed more than 800 customers from roughly Sawyer to Berrien Springs were still without power as of 2:00 p.m.  Service is expected to be restored by 10 p.m. for a vast majority of the customers, according to I & M officials.

 

The outages are blamed on the snow being heavy in accumulation and wet, which put a strain on trees along with power lines.  I & M officials advised that additional outages could be caused by the more heavy wet snow falling.

Alleged Predator of Sisters Arrested

(La Porte, IN) - A 37 year old La Porte County man is accused of sexually forcing himself on a girl along with her mentally challenged sister.  William Lamb is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with level 1 felony child molesting and two counts of level 3 felony rape.

 

According to court documents, Lamb was living with a family when the alleged acts occurred at a home near Stillwell in 2018.  The victims were 12 and 19 at the time.

 

Police said the investigation shows Lamb slept on a couch but would get up during the middle of the night and go into the bedroom of the sisters.  The older sister reported waking to Lamb performing a sex act on her, court records disclosed.  The family soon relocated to Texas where the allegations were reported to authorities.

 

Initially, La Porte County Police had difficulty investigating the claims because Lamb and some other witnesses had left the area.  Police caught up to Lamb in November of 2020 and during an interview he denied the allegations, according to court documents.  He denied the claims again when questioned by police several months later.

 

Court documents also reveal that one male resident of the home told police he witnessed Lamb “making out” with the girl in her bedroom and heard him say he was waiting for the girl to turn 18 so they could be together.

 

Lamb could face up to a 40 year sentence on the child molesting charge and anywhere from 3 to 16 years on each of the two rape counts.

Downtown Holiday Tradition Fast Approaching

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte residents can start getting ready soon for the 10th annual Downtown Cookie Walk.  Tins to place cookies in can be purchased beginning November 21st, said City Events and Civic Director Brett Binversie.

 

People taking part in the popular Christmas season event receive cookies from downtown businesses and place them into the tins.  The cost of each collectible tin is $15.  Binversie said the tins will be larger this year because of the increase expected in participation.

 

"The Cookie Walk has become an important holiday tradition in La Porte, and we are excited to work with our local businesses to put on another successful event this year," he said.

 

Binversie said the Cookie Walk is a great way not only to get into the Christmas season but to check out the downtown shops and get some shopping done.

 

“Cookie tins can go pretty fast, so we encourage those interested to purchase theirs as soon as possible."

 

Tins will be available for purchase at the following locations:

  • The La Porte Civic Auditorium;
  • Pink Sheep Boutique;
  • HotSpot Café;
  • Freckle Farm Primitives and Antiques;
  • A Whole World of Good; and
  • Downtown Delights.

The Downtown Cookie Walk will take place from 10 a.m. to Noon on Saturday, December 10th.

 

Businesses interested in participating should contact Binversie at 219-362-2325 or bbinversie@cityoflaportein.gov.

Thank You Card Overwhelms War Veteran

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - A La Porte County man is beaming with pride over a homemade thank you card from his six year old granddaughter for his military service.  John Benson, 75, said the only nicer gift for him would be living long enough to watch his granddaughter, Emma, grow up.

 

Benson said he cried tears of joy after Emma gave him a hug while handing him the card for Veterans Day during her birthday party.

 

His six years in the U.S. Army included one-year of combat duty in the Vietnam War.

 

“I was proud.  I was happy and I was very honored that little girl gave that to me,” he said.

 

The front of the card is titled “Veterans are the heart of America.”

 

Emma, a kindergarten student at Westville Elementary School, drew the outline of a heart and filled the inside with pieces of green and brown paper resembling camouflage that she glued to the surface.  The inside of the card features a smaller camouflage colored heart and Emma saying in writing “I’m thankful for veterans who protect us.”

 

Benson said he was taken back enough by his granddaughter’s unexpected expression of gratitude that he had to step away.

 

“I didn’t want everybody who was there to see tears coming down my cheeks,” he said.

 

Benson has lived in Rolling Prairie for about the past 30-years.  He was drafted into the military after graduating from high school and escaped injury during his active duty in the war.  He later moved to New Buffalo and resided in other communities like Three Oaks before settling down in Rolling Prairie.

 

Benson said he’s glad to have served time in battle and wouldn’t think twice about returning to active duty, even now, if called upon.

 

“I’d go tomorrow.  I feel that strong about our country,” he said.

 

Adding to his emotions from receiving the card was the feeling of gratitude he felt considering the reaction to soldiers returning home from the war the nation lost was often the exact opposite.

 

“That’s more respect than I got when I came home,” he said.

 

Benson said he plans to place the card into a frame and hang it on his living room wall.  He said the only better gift he can imagine is being here to see his granddaughter grow up in a country that’s still free.

 

“You can’t put a price on that,” Benson said.

Marijuana Sales Kinks Ironing Out

(New Buffalo, MI) - New Buffalo officials are attempting to work out the final kinks of an ordinance that would pave the way for the retail sale of marijuana in the city.  The New Buffalo Planning Commission on Tuesday voted to allow John Weiss, an attorney from Chicago, to amend the language in the proposal.

 

The planning commission previously gave a favorable recommendation to the proposal, which was later rejected by the city council and sent back to the planning commission for revision.

 

Mayor John Humphrey said he felt the wording in the document was “very good” but not tight enough to guarantee the measure would hold up in court should it be adopted by the city council and legally challenged.

 

“It’s not comprehensive enough for what we need for something of this magnitude,” he said.

The heart of the issue seems to involve a proposed requirement that marijuana shop would not be allowed to be closer than 1,000 feet from a school, church or the city’s commercial district.  The planning commission voted unanimously to have the distance measured from property lines instead of the front doors of buildings.  That procedure will be among the changes reflected in the revised ordinance expected to be presented at the next planning commission meeting, perhaps, in January.

 

Eligible parcels outside the required boundaries will also be identified in writing at the recommendation of New Buffalo City Manager Darwin Watson.  

 

“Then it’ll be one package to give to you,” he said.

 

There seems to some dispute on whether the 1,000 foot restriction should remain or be reduced.  Planning Commission member Debbie Schmidt said she was concerned about investors who purchased property for opening a marijuana shop and how those parcels do not meet the proposed distance requirement.  However, Planning Commissioner member Paul Billingsley said those people should have waited until after restrictions governing such operations were finalized.

 

“Buying property when nothing has been approved is a dice roll,” he said.

 

Billingsley also pointed out support of the measure by the planning commission hinged on the 1,000 foot restriction to keep it away from the immediate presence of children and other people who might be offended by such an establishment.  He also noted the proposed radius is common statewide for establishments selling other things such as liquor.

 

Humphrey estimated there are just a handful of parcels that would be eligible to house a marijuana retail operation under the current proposal.

 

“With this language in here, I would be surprised if there’s more than three or four that meet the criteria,” he said.

 

When final consideration will be taken by the city council is not clear.  Billingsley advised all of the time necessary be taken to make sure the proposal is to everybody’s satisfaction since there are no deadlines to meet for taking action.

Inflation Hits Thanksgiving Dinner

(Indianapolis, IN) - People will be shelling out more money to pay for a Thanksgiving dinner this year.  According to Indiana Farm Bureau (INFB), the average price of a meal will be 14% higher than last year.

 

According to INFB, a 16 pound turkey is projected to cost just over $28 compared to $25.22 last year.  And, a meal for 10 people is expected to ring up to be $61 at the grocery store, which is $7 higher than the estimate from last year.

 

A 30 ounce can of pumpkin pie filling has increased from $3.61 to $4.35 but the cost of two nine ounce pie shells have decreased from $3.47 last year to $3.06 this Thanksgiving season.

 

The prices were compiled from volunteer shoppers across the state collecting prices on specific foot items, INFB said.  

 

Noguchi Art Award Winners Honored

(La Porte, IN) - A high school art contest was held recently to honor a famous artist who got his start right here in La Porte County.

 

Isamu Noguchi graduated from La Porte High School in 1922 and went on to become one of the most influential artists of the 20th Century. A group of La Porteans, in cooperation with the La Porte County Public Library, have dubbed this month “Noguchi November” to commemorate the artist’s achievements. Winners of the second annual Isamu Noguchi Art Contest were honored at a ceremony last week at the library’s main branch.

 

Eleventh grader Michaela Miller won the top prize out of approximately 100 entries from four La Porte County schools. Michaela explained her Noguchi-inspired sculpture. “It’s a face made out of sticks, and the inside is hollow,” she said, “and there’s a candle in the middle to signify how Noguchi sparked a relationship between nature and modern things in his artwork.”

 

The final project, Miller said, was a bit of an improvisation. Her initial attempt, a paper mache sculpture, fell apart. Taking inspiration from a tree outside her kitchen window, Miller collected the sticks and pulled an all-nighter to get the winning project completed.

 

A panel of judges selected three finalists who won cash prizes, as well as ten honorable mention awards, all of whom are listed below:

 

1st Place - Michaela Miller, La Porte High School

2nd Place - Abigail Smolnicky, Westville High School

3rd Place - Nicola Xidias, New Prairie High School

 

The following student artists received an "Honorable Mention" for their work:

 

Nathanial Bosse , Westville High School

Pooja Verma, La Porte High School

Alden E. Pinkton, La Porte High School

Mara Dhoore, La Porte High School

Regen Lenson, Westville High School

Shy Stout, Westville High School

Katelyn Shelton, New Prairie High School

Kaylynn Baumann, Westville High School

Maddie Cole, Westville High School

Megan A. Carmickle, Westville High School

Lady Slicers Basketball Time Correction

It was brought to our attention that the score feed is displaying an incorrect time for the Saturday Girl's Basketball Team game against New Prairie.  The correct time is 12:30 pm CT at home.  Sorry for any inconveniences.

Cougars Fever in Football at New Prairie

(La Porte County, IN) - The excitement level is high for fans of the New Prairie High School football team.  A win Friday night means a trip to the state finals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.  The 12-1 Cougars will play at Kokomo for the semi state Class 4A title.   

 

Andrew Morse, a La Porte County Police Resource Officer at the high school, said it’s a great time to be a Cougars fan.  His son, Blake, is a senior and starter on offense while his other son, Alex, is a sophomore on the junior varsity squad.

 

“It’s exciting.  Super exciting for the New Prairie fans and the New Prairie kids.  We’re looking for a huge win Friday night,” he said.

 

Morse said his oldest son is nervous yet determined to extend his high school playing career to the state championship.

 

“He gets out there and gets after it.  He just loves the game of football,” he said.

 

The only loss by the Cougars this season was to Class 6A Penn.  The rest of their games were decided handily including the 55-7 win last week against Northridge for the regional championship.  Kokomo is also 12-1 with blow out victories in each win.

 

The weather forecast in Kokomo is calling for temperatures below 20 degrees along with 15 to 20 mile per hour winds during the game.  Head Coach Casey McKim said the conditions in the forecast should not have much of an impact on his team because they're an offense that mostly runs the ball.  He also cited a "tough as nails" attitude to keep their minds off such extremes.

 

“I’ve told our kids multiple times, I don’t care where we play.  We could play in a parking lot.  We’re going to be there.  We’re going to compete.  It’s as simple as that,” he said.

Stocking to Escalate in Lake Michigan

(Indianapolis, IN) - Fisherman who enjoy wetting a line along the southern tip of Lake Michigan could see their results improve.  Indiana DNR will increase Chinook salmon stocked in Lake Michigan by 50,000 starting in spring 2023, per Lake Michigan Committee agreement.  The change will increase the annual production target for Chinook from 225,000 to 275,000, DNR said.

 

According to DNR, baitfish populations have rebounded from an all-time low in the mid-2010s after lake-wide stocking reductions made by all state agencies during the past decade.

 

Ben Dickinson, Indiana DNR’s Lake Michigan biologist, says the improved predator-prey balance in the lake allows for the increase, which should benefit anglers, but biologists will be monitoring for the need for future adjustments.

 

Dickinson said, “Anglers should realize increasing stocking does increase predation pressure and may increase future risk to baitfish populations.  We will continue to closely watch the predator-prey balance to help ensure the long-term health of the fishery.” 

 

Staff from Mixsawbah State Fish Hatchery recently traveled to Michigan to obtain Chinook salmon eggs to meet the new production target.

 

“Indiana doesn’t have the infrastructure to take salmon eggs, so partnerships are crucial for our Lake Michigan program.  We’re grateful to our Michigan DNR partners for providing us with the opportunity to obtain eggs,” said Rob Ackerson, Mixsawbah Hatchery manager.

 

Fish from the eggs will be raised at Mixsawbah to be stocked in April 2023.  They will spend one to three years feeding in Lake Michigan before returning to their stocking sites as mature spawning adults in the fall, officials said. 

 

 

Seven People Injured in Weekend Crash

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - Seven people were injured in a three vehicle collision on a stretch of U.S. 20 in La Porte County.  There were no early indications that alcohol might have been involved but the Saturday night crash was still being investigated.

 

Aaron Casko, 29, of Michigan City was stopped while waiting to turn left on 400 East when his SUV was struck in the rear by a car driven by Ivory Woods, 23, of South Bend, according to La Porte County Police.

 

After the collision, Woods’ car veered across the center line and was hit by oncoming SUV driven by Brandon Lucas, 30, of Elkhart, police said.  Police said the head-on collision packed enough force to knock the engine out of the engine compartment of the car driven by Woods. 

 

Woods seemed to be the most seriously injured.  She managed to speak briefly to investigators prior to being taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, police said.

 

Lucas, along with his girlfriend and three children (ages 10, 9 and 2), were transported to Northwest Health in La Porte.  Some of them complained of pain while others suffered abrasions, police said.

 

Police said Casko complained of minor neck pain and refused medical attention.

 

According to police, there was no odor of alcohol detected on the breath of Woods while she was questioned about the crash.  They also indicated sleet was falling and the road was wet at the time of the crash.  While speaking briefly with investigators, Woods did not shed any light on the accident, claiming only that she has insurance.

 

Police said it appears Casko avoided potential serious injury by accelerating when he saw Woods approaching from behind in his rear view mirror prior to impact.

Plow Drivers Preparing for Snow

(La Porte County, IN) - Snow plow drivers in La Porte County and the surrounding areas are preparing for what could be significant snow fall tonight and tomorrow.  

 

Light snow is expected today from a storm system moving through the area.  Heavier lake effect snow is in the forecast beginning tonight or tomorrow.

 

La Porte County Highway Department Superintendent, Duane Werner, said he’s sending plow drivers out to their designated areas this morning to prepare for clearning snow and get familiar with their routes.

 

“So we’re out there ready for it when it gets here,” Werner said.

 

Forecasters are predicting anywhere from two to six inches across the area, with potentially heavier amounts is some spots by the time the snow quits falling Wednesday or Thursday.

More Charges in Child Abuse Death

(La Porte, IN) - Additional charges have been filed against a La Porte County woman in connection with the child abuse death of her son.  Two more counts of child neglect and a new charge of domestic battery have been leveled against Mary Yoder.

 

Yoder was charged in October 2021 for failing to report the abuse that led to her four year old son dying.  Yoder claims she was afraid of being harmed if she went to the police.  Authorities say the additional charges resulted from newly discovered evidence in the case.

 

The boy’s father, Alan Morgan, pleaded guilty to murder in September in exchange for an agreement that prosecutors would not seek a life sentence.  He allegedly sent his son to the basement as punishment for not being potty trained several times a week.

 

Authorities said the boy endured countless forms of abuse before allowed to come back up with the rest of his family at a home in the 3100 block of East 875 South.

 

Morgan is scheduled for sentencing in La Porte Circuit Court on the 29th of this month.  He faces an up to 65 year sentence.

Inflation Bites into Projected Farm Profits

(West Lafayette, IN) - Farmers, if possible, should think twice about making any major equipment purchases to prepare for a projected major drop in net income in 2023.  That was one of the main messages from agriculture economists at Purdue University during their monthly corn and soybean outlook webinar on November 11.

 

“Think long and hard about whether you do need to buy machinery,” said Michael Langemeier, Associate Director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture at the West Lafayette campus.  The reason is inflation along higher interest rates at a time when corn and soybean prices are expected to drop but remain fairly strong next year.

 

Farmers were advised to hang on as much as possible to the money they saved from the previous two years when net income was high to make sure they have enough money to cover their bills in 2023.  Right now, net farm income in 2023 is projected at $50 per acre compared to $120 per acre this year and $350 per acre in 2021.

 

USDA is expected to come out with a revised net farm income forecast for 2023 in February.  Langemeier said net farm income in 2023 and maybe 2024 could be the worst since 2019.  Slumping prices from 2014 to 2019 left farmers across the country struggling to stay above their input costs. 

 

“Just be really cautious,” he said.

Lifetime Ban for Turkey Poacher

(Williamsport, IN) - An Indiana man has set a record for being the first to receive a lifetime ban on hunting in the state.  Hanson Pusey, a 25 year old from West Lafayette, seemingly had an uncontrollable passion for hunting turkeys based on his long string of violations in multiple states.  He was placed on home detention, probation and ordered to pay for replacing the turkeys he illegally harvested at his sentencing in Warren County. 

 

According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, he continued to hunt and take turkeys illegally in Indiana and other states despite a license suspension from 2019.  The investigation revealed his poaching extended into North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

 

During a search of his residence, officers found 83 spent casings used in his turkey poaching in a collection dating back to 2012.  Each casing identifies the states and dates he took the turkeys, authorities said.

 

According to DNR, his convictions in the other states have amounted to more than $8,000 in fines and fees along with hunting license suspensions.

Moving Road Hazard Arrested for OWI

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police arrested a suspected drunk driver posing a major risk to himself and other motorists.  Police said Williams Pelico Calel was arrested Saturday night for having a .18-percent blood alcohol level.

 

A Sheriff deputy responded to a report of a reckless driver repeatedly veering over the center line and running at least one driver off the pavement on Johnson Road near 500 West.  The deputy pulled into a parking lot and after the suspect drove past, he began following the driver of a 2012 Suzuki Kizashi.

 

After witnessing the suspect veer over the center line, the officer pulled him over.  When the plates were run on the vehicle, the registration came back for BMW model and it had expired in 2020.

 

As it was explained to police, Calel said he was heading home after completing his shift at a Mexican restaurant in Michigan City.  He claimed that he didn't have anything to drink since leaving his job.  However, police said he nearly fell over after getting out of the vehicle and had an odor of alcohol on his breath.

 

Calel also revealed he never obtained a driver’s license, which was confirmed when the officer conducted a records check.

Incoming Prosecutor Names Chief Deputy

(La Porte County, IN) - The incoming La Porte County Prosecutor has named his second in command.  Attorney Chuck Watterson will become Chief Deputy Prosecutor.

 

Prosecutor Elect Sean Fagan said he felt Watterson's experience at prosecuting and defending suspected criminals along with his longstanding ties to the community would be perfect fit for the position. 

 

“That’s why I picked him,” Fagen said.

Watterson, a practicing attorney in Michigan City, is also President of the La Porte County Election Board.

 

Fagan takes over January 1st after defeating current Prosecutor John Lake in the November 8th election by close to 1,000 votes.  Fagan said he expects most, if not all, of the remaining Deputy Prosecutors in the office to stay on after he takes office.  He hopes to maintain much the team because of how familiar they are with current cases, including five murder cases expected to go to trial over the next several months.

 

“I’ve already spoken with many of them so they know where they stand.  Most seem delighted to be a part of that,” he said.

Teen Killed in Area Highway Crash

(Marshall County, IN) - A teenager was killed in a motor vehicle crash in northern Indiana early Sunday.  The crash was on US 6 in Marshall County.

 

According to police, a driver lost control resulting in a pick-up truck and SUV colliding about 3 a.m.  A 16 year old was ejected from the pick-up and landed in a ditch.  Police said another driver trying to avoid the collision wound up striking the victim.

 

So far, authorities have not released further details about the crash or released the name of the victim.

Kora Resigns as Democrat Party Chairman

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Democrats will have a new leader after a majority of party candidates locally suffered resounding Election night defeats.  Dr. Vidya Kora has announced he’s stepping down as party chairman.

 

Kora cited frustration over what he described as a growing number of local residents voting Republican without considering the talents Democrat candidates bring to the table.

 

“Unfortunately, over the last few election cycles, the local issues, their accomplishments and the qualifications of the candidates have taken a backseat to national false narratives by media and social media in a highly polarized environment,” he said.

 

Kora said the party has attempted to overcome “Trumpism” in La Porte County, however their local efforts have not proved to be as successful as other areas in the nation who appear to be moving away from the influence of Donald Trump, the nation’s 45th President.

 

“We are behind the curve in our county,” Kora said.

 

Kora also placed some of the blame for the struggles of Democrats locally on the lack of moderates in the party at the national level.

 

“I am hopeful that some of the national Democrats will move left of center from their far-left positions which will appeal to more independents and rural voters,” he said.

 

Among the losses by Democrats in the mid-term election were the races for Sheriff, Prosecutor and County Commissioner.  Prosecutor John Lake lost by nearly 1,000 votes in his bid for a second term.  Commissioner Sheila Matias was defeated by close to 4,000 votes.  And, Andy Hynek came in beind Republican Ron Heeg for Sheriff by over 2,500 votes.

 

According to the election results, Republicans had close to 2,700 more straight ticket votes than Democrats.

 

“I believe it is time for younger leaders within the Democratic Party with fresh ideas to step up and take over the mantle of leadership. It will be in the best interest of the party as well as the community in the long run,” Kora said.

New Prairie Gets Payback in Regional Victory

(New Carlisle, IN) - New Prairie avenged last year’s season-ending loss to Northridge by destroying the Raiders Friday night. New Prairie won the Regional Championship 55-7.

 

In the words of anchorman Ron Burgundy, “Boy, that escalated quickly.”

 

Northridge came into Amzie Miller Field hoping to end New Prairie’s season for the second year in a row. Instead, they found themselves down 28-0 after barely five minutes of play.

 

On the first play of the game, junior quarterback Marshall Kmiecik scored on a 60-yard option run. On the Cougars’ next possession, Kmiecik showed his growth as a passer by tossing a perfect 41-yard touchdown to junior Reece Lapczynski while under pressure. Moments later, senior Dallas Ryans extended the lead to 21 with a 45-yard interception return. But the Cougars’ early onslaught wasn’t over. Senior lineman and sometimes fullback Jacob Mrozinski rumbled in for a touchdown to make it 28-0 only halfway through the first quarter.

 

An interception by sophomore Hayden Scott thwarted a subsequent Northridge drive. Senior Noah Mungia followed with a 65-yard run, then a four-yard score. In perhaps the defining sequence of the game, the New Prairie defense turned away Northridge on fourth-and-goal in the second quarter. The Cougars then executed a 98-yard drive capped off by a short Mungia touchdown run. Junior two-way player Brock Sinka intercepted a pass, then turned around and scored on an 81-yard catch from Kmiecik. New Prairie took a 48-0 lead into half.

 

In scoring a season-high 55 points, New Prairie needed only 34 plays. Northridge managed seven points in 61 plays. Kmiecik was 4-4 in passing, with 160 yards and two touchdowns. He also led the Cougars in rushing with 154 yards on the ground. Seven New Prairie players combined for 339 yards rushing.

 

Seniors Kole Staley and Tayvion Ortman led the defense with nine tackles apiece. The Cougars also tallied three interceptions and three sacks.

 

New Prairie (12-1) will head to Kokomo (12-1) next Friday for the semistate.

Boyd Expecting Smooth Transition in Sheriff's Office

(La Porte County, IN) - Soon there will be a new sheriff in town. Ron Heeg won the recent election over Andy Hynek, which the current sheriff says will ensure a smooth transition.

 

Sheriff John Boyd will be stepping aside after completing his second term. Boyd says he picked Heeg to be his chief deputy eight years ago with the aim of long-term stability within the department. “He was selected as chief deputy for a reason, because I saw his leadership potential; I saw that he had potential to someday take over the reins of the department,” Boyd said.

 

Following Wednesday’s election, Boyd looked ahead with confidence to his final months in office. He is confident that the transition to Heeg’s command will be seamless. “Really there won’t be a transition. He’s going to continue to do his job, which is running the day-to-day operations of the department,” Boyd said. “There’s no learning curve for him. He’s been preparing for the last eight years, and he’s in a position now that he is ready to take over. I have no reservations.”

 

Boyd emphasized his confidence in Heeg: “I could leave tomorrow, and there would be no drop-off; in fact, there would just be improvements, so I’m really excited about what the future holds for the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, for the people of La Porte County, and for Ron Heeg.”

 

Heeg has been with the La Porte County Sheriff’s Department for about 25 years.

Deputies Doing Good Deeds

(La Porte County, IN) - Two La Porte County Sheriff’s deputies have been recognized for their generosity while on duty. Recently, according to a Sheriff’s Department facebook post, Deputy Josh Smith and Deputy Jon Samuelson went above and beyond the call of duty to assist people in need.

 

Smith pulled over to help what he thought was a stranded motorist. In fact, the woman claimed that she was looking for a hundred-dollar bill that had flown out her window. They were unable to locate the money, which the woman said she needed for rent. After his shift, Deputy Smith went to the bank, withdrew $100 and delivered it to her place of work.

 

Deputy Jon Samuelson also did a good deed. Investigating a stolen vehicle, he learned that two child car seats had been removed from the car. The car’s owner didn’t have money to replace them. So Samuelson arranged for one to be donated, and he paid for another one out of his own pocket.

 

For the record, the deputies did not boast about their deeds. Fellow officers reported their generosity.

Snow Expected In Today's Forecast

(La Porte County, IN) - We have SNOW returning to our forecast starting today.  Here's a look at your La Porte County forecast for Saturday, November 12th from Hometown News Now Staff Meteorologist, Phil Spevak.

 

Today:  Mixed precipitation likely, otherwise cloudy skies expected. High of 38. Winds out of the northwest 10 to 15 mph. About an inch of snow possible, creating slushy roads. Chance of precipitation is 75%.

 

Tonight:  Snow showers likely at times late, otherwise cloudy skies. Low of 28. Northwest winds 8 to 15 mph. Snowfall of about an inch. Chance of precipitation is 80%.

 

Tomorrow:  Cloudy skies expected with daytime highs approaching 37. Low of 24.  Winds out of the northwest 8 to 15 mph.

 

Monday:  Highs level off around 41 under mainly cloudy skies. Cloudy skies with a slight chance for snow showers late Monday night.  Overnight lows approaching 27.

 

Tuesday:  More snow showers likely at times late in the date.  Highs approaching 36 under overcast skies.  Chance of precipitation is 60%.

 

Keep up to date with your forecast, along with a look at the current radar conditions at the Hometown News Now Weather Center (Click Here).

Foundation Invests Again in Teachers

(La Porte County, IN) - Unity Foundation of La Porte County has awarded $15,000 in grants to educators in Michigan City this year.  The grant programs were established by donors who believed in teachers as the critical factor for learning, UFLC officials said.

 

“Our local schools are full of exceptional teachers who go above and beyond for their students,” said Shannon Walker, Unity Foundation Vice President. 

 

According to Unity Foundation, teachers may use their grants for hands on or virtual activities in any academic area or life skills. The next round of grants  for Michigan City teachers will open in summer 2023. 

 

All La Porte County teachers are eligible to apply for Unity Foundation’s separate Community “Power for Good” Grants. That application period will open in late spring 2023. 

 

For more information on UnityFoundation grant programs or to donate visit uflc.net. 

Blue Turns Red in Michigan City

(La Porte County, IN) - In some ways, a Red Wave has hit a deep blue Michigan City.  Of the final 20 precincts counted in La Porte County on Election night, 13 of them came from Michigan City and surrounding Coolspring Township.  When the count was complete, the result in those historically blue areas was a widening of the lead of Republicans by a significant margin.

 

Republican La Porte County Commissioner Joe Haney said the drastic change shows many Democrats have had enough with what he described as bad policies and other failures.

 

“They’re hard working, dedicated individuals who want what’s best for them and their families.  They woke up and they voted accordingly,” he said.

 

With 20 precints remaining, Democrats were optimistic about some of their candidates coming from behind to win in what they felt would be the traditional bump from Michigan City and the surrounding area in the final vote count.  However, it was the Republican candidates that received about a 1,000 vote bump in their totals once the final precincts were counted.  Immediately, many Democrats on election night expressed shock or stood speechless.

 

Haney indicated the Republican Party in La Porte County has been reaching out more into Michigan City and other areas of the county over the past couple of years.

 

“We’ve been working on building a big tent here,” Haney said.

 

Haney also said the people switching parties will not be forgotten.

 

“They supported us so we need to support them back.  It’s extremely crucial.  We want to do what’s right for everyone in La Porte County,” he said.

 

 

Save America Urged at Veterans Day Ceremony

(La Porte, IN) - Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita was the keynote speaker during the annual Veterans Day ceremony at the Civic Auditorium in La Porte.

 

Before the usual large crowd, Rokita quoted the late president Ronald Reagan in describing the nation’s veterans and how their efforts should always be remembered.

 

“Champions of a noble cause. That’s a very apt description of our American veterans, our Indiana Veterans. Champions of a noble cause,” he said.

 

Rokita also talked about socialism.  He said it’s a growing threat to the nation today despite producing hunger and other human suffering each time in every country where it’s been tried.

 

Rokita said the best way to thank a veteran is to get actively involved in places like city councils and school boards to defeat the push for socialism and preserve the freedoms veterans fought and died for since the founding of the nation.

 

“Save this country. Make their sacrifice worthwhile,” he said.

 

Other speakers included Mayor Tom Dermody and La Porte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski, a veteran of the Vietnam War.

 

“I’m proud to call Todd Rokita my friend,” Mrozinski said.

 

 

 

Successful Goal Line Stand by Firefighters

(La Porte County, IN) - It was like a goal line stand but the defensive line consisted of firefighters successful in keeping the football out of the end zone.  That’s how police officer Mike Kellems described the work of firefighters in saving homes from the advancing flames of a major brush fire Thursday.

 

Kellems estimated the brush fire, which burned from late morning until well into the night, was about a half mile wide and close to a mile long.  He said the flames, aided by steady southerly winds, were advancing toward Indiana Highway 4 about five miles east of La Porte.

 

Kellems said firefighters formed a line, consisting of fire trucks and hoses, along the two lane state highway to protect homes on the other side of the road from flames moving in that direction.  He said the flames did not cross the highway and the stand is what led to the brush fire getting brought under control and eventually extinguished.

 

“They literally made a stand.  They said it was not going to get past us. They put all of their forces on that highway and stopped it,” Kellems said.

 

Kellems served as a volunteer firefighter for a while during his long career with the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office.  He retired from the Sheriff's office and is now a Police officer for Purdue University Northwest and does security duties for the U.S. Marshal’s Office.

 

“It was without a doubt one of the largest field, woodland fires I think I’ve ever seen in my three and a half decades in emergency services,” he said.

 

Photos by Mike Kellems

Large Brush Fire from Leaf Burning

(La Porte County, IN) - Burning leaves resulted in a large brush yesterday in La Porte County.  The fire started in the morning near Fish Lake and was still burning several hours later, despite the efforts of firefighters from about a dozen departments.

 

So far, no buildings have been reported as damaged.  However, Indiana Highway 4 was closed to allow the blaze to be fought without restrictions or distractions.  A helicopter, called in from Lake County, was also used to take water from Fish Lake in an attempt to control the flames.

 

Accoriding to Police, there were other field fires in the county yesterday that spread out of control while people burned their leaf piles.  Coolspring Township Assistant Fire Chief, Warren Smith, said the conditions are too dry to burn leaves despite rainfall in recent days.  He said high winds dried out the moisture in the ground enough to make burning leaves a hazard, especially with winds traveling through at 20 mile per hour yesterday.

 

Smith said people should never burn leaves on windy days because of the risk of flames spreading and flying embers starting other fires by landing on dry terrain elsewhere.

 

“It’s just using common sense and burning when it’s the right conditions. Wind is everybody’s enemy when it comes to burning leaves,” he said.

 

Photos by Patrick Thompson

Meer Crosses Over in Party Visit

(La Porte, IN) - A well-known Michigan City Democrat was hanging out with Republicans on election night.  Former Mayor Ron Meer was at the Civic Auditorium in La Porte where Republicans from across the county gathered to keep track of the vote tallying.

 

Some might think mingling with opposing party members is unusal, especially on election night.  However, Meer said his approach to politics has always been about reaching across party lines.

 

“It’s important to establish good relationships and work with people that don’t always agree with all of your ideas and concepts,” he said.

 

Meer also served on the city council prior to becoming mayor in 2012. 

 

Meer said he wanted to congratulate Republican Sean Fagan, the newly elected La Porte County Prosecutor. 

 

Meer feels scorned by Democrats, like current prosecutor John Lake, due to the the legal action taken against Meer and his family before and after he lost his bid for a third term as mayor of Michigan City.

 

From the beginning, Meer has maintained the action was strictly political to try and derail his attempt for a third consecutive term.  He lost to current mayor Duane Parry by less than 100 votes in 2019.

 

Meer also pointed out what he described as politically motivated charges filed against him were later dismissed. 

 

Meer said he’s strongly considering a run for mayor of Michigan City again next year.  He left open the possibility of running as an Independent or a Republican.

 

Parry switched from being a Democrat to a Republican prior to running for mayor of Michigan City.

Doors Open at New Aldi

(La Porte, IN) - A ribbon cutting was held this morning at a new grocery store in La Porte.  Aldi is now operating from its new location at the corner of Pine Lake and Truesdell Avenue on redeveloped former industrial property.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody, who was among the dignitaries taking part in the festivities, said the difference between the new and old locations is tremendous.

 

“It looks amazing and that’s the expectation we have in the City of La Porte.  That’s what we want our residents to expect from all retailers, all businesses in La Porte.  We’re excited to have them,” he said.

 

There was a line of people around the building waiting to get inside prior to the doors opening this morning.

 

The future of the building formerly housing Aldi on the La Porte's west side is not known at this time.  That area of the city has been home to several grocery stores, including Al’s Supermarket.  With the new Aldi location opening, the west side of La Porte is now absent of a grocer.  Dermody said efforts to lure a new grocery store to the west side are ongoing.

 

“We’re still excited to, hopefully, find a west side grocer of some sort. But, I think once people see Aldi, they’re going to want to keep going back there,” he said.

Cause of Collapse Identified

(La Porte, IN) - Experts have identified what they believe caused a vacant three story building in downtown La Porte to partially collapse.  Structural changes that were made sometime in the early 1900’s are being blamed for the front one-third of the building collapsing on the night of October 26.    

 

La Porte City Engineer Nick Minich said the roughly 150 year old structure, located in the 700 block of Lincolnway, was originally three separate buildings.  He said the first floor of each building was later joined together by tearing down weight bearing brick walls.  These support walls were replaced with steel columns and beams.  The end result was more floor space for Lows, a popular clothing store in La Porte prior to closing roughly 40-years ago.

 

Minich said the work on the first floor was solid, but the modification changed how the weight of the building was distributed from the original design.  The weight load shifted a bit more toward the front of the building.  

Minich said, "That caused the structural deficiency that eventually became a failure".

 

What exactly broke or shifted to cause the collapse is not known, but age likely added to the weight related stress on that portion the building.

 

“It’s almost impossible to determine what the failure was but we do know it’s related to the renovations that happened many years ago,” he said.

 

The roughly 150 year old structure was being remodeled to offer retail on the first floor and apartments on the upper levels, officials said.  Minich said the current work was strictly cosmetic and not a factor.

 

Fortunately, nobody was inside or passing by the structure during the collapse, which sent a good number of bricks into the eastbound and westbound lanes of Lincolnway.

 

In response, city officials are in the process of developing a program aimed at preventing another collapse.  Mayor Tom Dermody said it’s too early to know the mechanics but grants and other sources of revenue could be involved.  He said the money would help property owners pay to have their buildings inspected and fix any major problems.  Downtown La Porte consists primarily of structures erected well over a century ago. 

 

Minich said he’s not aware of any other building joined together like the one that partially collapsed.

 

“We’re looking at trying to create something, kind of a voluntary program to help people have peace of mind,” Minich said.

 

 

Mayors Past and Present Help Salvation Army

(La Porte, IN) - The current and past mayors were together in La Porte today, helping the Salvation Army kick off its annual Christmas fundraising drive.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody and previous mayors Mark Krentz, Blair Milo, Kathy Chroback, and Leigh Morris filled and gave out free cups of coffee to those who stopped by City Hall.

 

La Porte Salvation Army Major Charles Pinkston hopes the first-time event raises awareness about the growing need while getting more people in the mood for giving.

 

“Times are getting more difficult, and those needing assistance are increasing.  We’re hoping to make this a successful Christmas season,” he said.

 

Mark Krentz, mayor of La Porte for over two years beginning in 2017, seemed more than delighted to help.

 

“I’m a lifelong La Portean and I’ve always had a lot of pride in the community, and I’ve always been an ambassador for good. To be asked to be part of this today, I was excited, and it’s great to see all of the former mayors here, too,” Krentz said.

Former Mayor Blair Milo also commented on the experience of being with the other mayors. 

 

"It's just another reminder of how grateful I am to be part of this community.  Generations of people who are so dedicated to living in the true sense of community with one another and to serve one another and the Salvation Army is a true example of that," said Blair Milo.

Milo was mayor for more than five years, starting in 2012. 


Salvation Army kettles will be placed at seven mostly retail locations in La Porte beginning Saturday.

 

Pinkston said the goal this season is to raise $150,000 in the kettles and from other sources like donations online and by mail. He said there’d been an increase in requests for toys by 30 percent and a 60 percent increase in help with food boxes during the Christmas season.


Pinkston cited skyrocketing inflation for more people struggling to make ends meet.

 

 

 

Woman Dies Following Collision at Polls

(Michigan City, IN) - An elderly woman has died after hit by a motor vehicle outside a Michigan City polling place on Election Day.  The victim was 92 year old Virginia Bobillo.

 

Police said the Michigan City woman was struck by the vehicle in the parking lot of the Michigan City Fire Department Administrative Building at 2510 East Michigan Boulevard.  Emergency responders found her unconscious with a severe head injury.  Police said Bobillo was taken to Franciscan Health and later transferred to a hospital in Chicago where she passed away.

 

The accident occurred just after 9:30 Tuesday morning.  The building was open to voters at the time.  Police did not reveal if Bobillo was going there to vote or had just finished voting.

 

The name of the driver also was not revealed.  Police said the driver was given a standard blood alcohol test and they’re still waiting for the results of the testing as part of the ongoing investigation.

 

More information will be released if charges are filed in the case. 

Boost for Symphony Fund Raising Goal

(La Porte, IN) - A generous anonymous donor has come forward to offer a 3 to 1 match to enable the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra to reach its $1.5 million fund raising goal.

 

It’s the first ever fund raising campaign for the LCSO, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  “MUSIC FOREVER” is the name of the campaign designed to ensure the financial future of the LCSO.

 

“Nearly two years ago, the LCSO Board determined that our 50th anniversary was the perfect time to roll out our first-ever fundraising campaign.  After consultants helped us determine that we could raise $1.5 million, we developed the MUSIC FOREVER Campaign and went to work. We are well on our way to making that campaign goal and hope to exceed it,” said long-time supporters, Leigh and Marcia Morris.  The Morris’ are past LCSO Board members and Honorary Co-Chairs of the MUSIC FOREVER Campaign.

 

“The first 50 years of the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra have been remarkable. From its inception as a gathering of local musicians who loved music to the great orchestra it is today, it’s clearly a remarkable achievement,” Mr. Morris said.

 

“But, it’s the next 50 years of the orchestra that Marcia and I are most excited about, and we hope you are, too,” he said.
 

The LCSO Board has set forth a vision for long-term sustainability focused on music innovation, new generations education initiatives and endowment building.  The fund raising drive will end July 31, which marks the end of the LCSO’s 50th Anniversary.

 

People interested in supporting the Orchestra through a gift or desiring more information are asked to contact the LCSO at (219) 362-9020 or email Tim King, LCSO Executive Director, at executive@lcso.net.

Survivors of Red Wave

(La Porte County, IN) - Three local Democrats survived what many people refer to as the "Red Wave" that most major political races experienced Tuesday night in La Porte County.  The only Democrats winning their contests were incumbents Mark Yagelski, Randy Novak and Mike Schultz.

 

Yagelski gained a sixth term on the LaPorte County Council from District 3 by defeating Republican Deb Vance by just over 800 votes.

 

Novak won a third term on the LaPorte County Council from District 2 by defeating Republican Aaron Kirk by well over 900 votes.

 

Schultz gained a fourth term as La Porte County Assessor.  He beat republican John Matwyshyn by more than 1,600 votes.  Schultz said he felt his office avoiding the conflict that often dominated the local political landscape the past two years and strong job performance explained his victory.

 

“It’s more of an administrative office. I don’t set policy and I do have a lot of Republican friends and Republican support that I think is helping me this evening,” he said.

Republicans won the races for Sheriff, Prosecutor, County Commissioner and two other seats on the County Council.

 

Justin Kiel, 26, of LaCrosse won the District 1 seat on the La Porte County Council with 57-percent of the vote against democrat Mike Kellems.  Kiel has served on the LaCrosse Town Council since he was 18 and has been town council president for the past six-years.

 

Republican Mike Rosenbaum gained a second term on the LaPorte County Council from District 4.  Rosenbaum beat democrat Lynne Spevak, a former La Porte County Clerk and La Porte County Treasurer, by nearly 2,000 votes.

 

La Porte County Democrat Party Chairman Dr. Vidya Kora told disappointed members of the party last night he felt the national political climate was a factor in the outcome of the elections locally.  He said some voters make choices based on their emotions about what’s happening politically across the country without checking the qualifications of local candidates.

 

“We have some head winds because of inflation and everything else,” he said.

 

Kora also blamed falsehoods posted on social media the past several years for the disappointing results.  “We’ll come back.  We’ll regroup and continue to advance our agenda,” he said.

Chief Deputy to be Next Sheriff

(La Porte County, IN) - Republican Ron Heeg will become the next sheriff in La Porte County after beating Democrat Andy Hynek last night by nearly 2,500 votes.

 

For nearly eight-years, Heeg has been second in command as chief deputy under current sheriff John Boyd.  Boyd was not eligible to run again under a state law restricting a sheriff to two terms.

 

Currently, Hynek is a supervisor in the patrol division.

 

Heeg said his victory left him speechless and commended Hynek for running what he called a “professional campaign.”  He said they’ve known each other since before they joined the sheriff’s office more than 20-years ago and they agree before the campaign to keep things clean.

 

Heeg also said he expects both of them to get along as they always have once he takes over as sheriff in January.

 

“Andy and I work together and we’re going to continue to work together with one goal in mind, to protect the citizens of La Porte County and to keep them safe.  I think that’s why we kept our race so clean, just because of that,” he said.

 

Hynek briefly touched upon their relationship while responding in defeat to his supporters last night.  “I just spoke to Ron Heeg and told him I’m excited to work with him and for him.  He’ll always be a brother to me,” he said.

Prosecutor Loses Reelection Bid

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Prosecutor John Lake lost his bid for a second term during the 2022 Mid-Term Elections  Lake , a Democrat, was defeated by republican Sean Fagan by close to 1,000 votes.

 

After leading by a wide margin for much of the night, Lake fell behind by 26 votes.  The outcome was later sealed when the final 20 precincts elevated Republican Sean Fegan to a solid victory.  Those final precinct were mostly from Michigan City and Coolspring Township, which have historically favored Democrat candidates.

 

Lake seemed to take his loss in stride, saying he ran for reelection mostly for his employees.  “It is what it is. That’s what politics is all about,” he said.  Lake also said he felt the national political climate was a factor in his defeat, citing republicans having over 2,700 more straight ticket party votes than democrats in La Porte County.

 

Lake plans to run a private legal practice with his wife, Mary, who was a deputy prosecutor during her husband’s four year term.  “I’m happy no matter what,” he said.

 

When asked how he felt about his victory, Fagan loudly stated "Yeah!  That’s how I feel.”  He credited an increase in crime and some other “last minute things that came up in this race” for his victory.

Gramarossa Wins Rematch with Matias

(La Porte County, IN) - The balance of power appears to have changed on the politically embattled La Porte County Commission.  Republican Connie Gramarossa defeated incumbent democrat Sheila Matias, who was mayor in Michigan City in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s.

 

Gramarossa, 58, who currently serves on the La Porte County Council, won the only seat on the three member governing body up for grabs this year.  Gramarossa, who lives in Michigan City, lost to Matias in 2018 by close to 800 votes, but received 57% of the vote on election night. 

        

Gramarossa states that her campaign promise to be more "hands on" as a commissioner than her opponent has been really resonated with voters.  Gramarossa was a county commissioner in 2018 when appointed to fill a vacancy created by the departure of Mike Gonder.

 

“I think people out in the county saw what a part-time commissioner does and I think knowing what I had done the first time around in 2018 that I was there, I was receptive, people could see me. I think that’s what folks want,” she said.

 

Matias, 67, led by nearly 1,000 votes after all of the early voting ballots were counted, but then trailed Gramarossa by about 2,400 votes once a majority of the votes that were cast on Election Day were tallied.

 

Surprisingly, she and other Democrats fell even further behind when the final 15 or so precincts were tallied, including about ten precincts from areas in Michigan City that have historically favored Democrat candidates.

 

"Obviously, I’m disappointed but the people have spoken and I respect the people of La Porte County.  They’ve made a choice. I served the best I can.  I’ve given it 100% effort and I wish Connie the very, very best in her service,” she said.

 

It’s widely believed that once Gramarossa takes her seat on January 1st, she will join Commissioner Joe Haney in replacing La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman, who was supported by Matias and Commissioner Rich Mrozinski.

 

The selection of Friedman as county attorney was a major source of nearly two years of constant political clashing on the county commission and, in general, county government.

96.7 the Eagle & HTNN Election Coverage Show

(LAPORTE, IN) - Listen in tonight as we give listeners up-to-date local election news and results for LaPorte County. We'll also have national updates from ABC News. 

 

Listen in below:

 

Federal Prison for Gun Violation

(South Bend, IN) - Illegal gun possession has landed a Michigan City man time in federal prison.

 

Sergio Adams, 33, was sentenced in United States District Court in South Bend after pleading guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

 

According to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office, he was sentenced to 52 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. 

 

Authorities said police responding to an alert in November of 2021 found Adams possessing a handgun.

 

Adams was on supervised release at the time for a previous conviction. His criminal history also included three prior felony convictions, which prohibited him from possessing a firearm or ammunition.

 

According to court records, his prior arrests were for crimes such as criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon, intimidation, and battery. 

 

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigated the case with the assistance of the Michigan City Police Department. 

 

According to authorities, the case was part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, which brings together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence.

Back to the Political Middle Outreach

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man is actively trying to bring politics back toward the center.

 

Leigh Morris is a member of the advisory board for a new organization called “ReCenter Indiana.”

 

Morris said the extremism in both parties had given birth to the group, whose mission is finding and supporting qualified moderate candidates willing to enter the volatile political environment and work across party lines. 

 

He believes many Democrats and Republicans had swung too far to the left and right, but the middle is best for everyone.

 

“These people need to focus on good government. That’s what the political process is supposed to produce for us,” Morris said.

Some voters more toward the middle could find it challenging to choose a candidate from either party in races strictly with extremist candidates.

 

Morris, a longtime Republican, suggested that anyone in such a dilemma not vote in contests featuring extreme candidates from either party.

 

“One thing you can do is just not vote for that particular office, and I have done exactly that. When I am faced between an extremist in my party and a far-left person in the Democrat Party, I can’t vote for either one,” Morris said.

Morris was mayor of La Porte from 2004 through 2007. He was also President and Chief Executive Officer at La Porte Hospital for about 20 years, beginning in the 1970s.

 

Morris is also a former La Porte County Republican Party Chairman.

Turnout Strong But Not Record Breaking

(La Porte County, IN) - Voter turnout in La Porte County appears strong but nowhere near what it was during the presidential election in 2020.

 

Poll worker Miles Fettinger at Agape Christian Church at 1601 I Street in La Porte said voters were coming in at a steady pace this morning. But, unlike the election in 2020, he said nobody to this point had to wait for a voting machine to become available.

 

“It’s more of a normal year. We’ll have an average turnout. Nothing spectacular,” Fettinger said.

 

Sacha Gee Burns, a poll worker at Crossroads Baptist Church in Wanatah, said several people were waiting to vote before the doors opened at 6 a.m. She also described the number of voters coming in ever since as steady.

 

“It’s been going well,” Burns said.

 

In Long Beach, poll worker Martha Maust said about 50 people cast their votes by 7:30 a.m.

 

“It’s been very steady,” Maust said.

 

According to La Porte County Clerk Heather Stevens, around 10,000 people in La Porte County voted early this year.

 

Close to 80 percent of those early votes were made on machines set up in La Porte, Michigan City, Coolspring Township, and Wanatah. In 2020, more than 20,000 people in La Porte County voted early.

 

Stevens said turnout is always higher when elections include candidates running for president.

Lid Lifted on Vote Tallying Tonight

(La Porte County, IN) - The public will be provided glimpses of how the candidates are doing while the votes are tabulated in La Porte County tonight. 

 

Traditionally, vote totals were released in La Porte County as the count was being carried out.

 

Members of both parties would gather in large numbers to keep track of the totals during what was usually a festive occasion.

 

However, the release of running vote totals stopped in the May primary due to a mistake in counting during the previous election.

 

La Porte County Election Board members decided not to release any numbers until all of the countings were finished to avoid the potential for a repeat of incorrect figures being announced.

 

The change upset many people who planned their evenings around the excitement and drama of following the running vote totals.

 

In a compromise, perhaps, the election board decided to release the totals from the early voting once those numbers are tallied.

 

Election Board President Chuck Watterson said updates from the votes cast today would also be released at least once or twice before the tallying is finished.

 

Once all the numbers are counted, the final results will then be given out.

Man Sentenced for Trick or Treat Slaying

(Crown Point, IN) - A Northwest Indiana man has received a 55-year prison sentence for the shooting death of a 13-year-old boy while he was trick or treating.

 

Desmond Crews, Jr., 24, of Gary, was sentenced Friday after pleading guilty to murder.

 

According to authorities, the gunfire stemmed from an argument with a 15-year-old boy wearing a clown mask during trick-or-treating last year in Hammond.

 

Police believe Crews, and at least three other men fired gunshots toward the boy wearing the clown mask and other kids in his group.

 

At least one of the shots killed the 13-year-old victim and wounded one other teenage boy, police said.

 

Reports indicate two other gunmen have chosen to go to trial while a third suspect awaits sentencing after pleading guilty.

Election Day Voting Location Changed

(La Porte County, IN) - Where some La Porte County voters will cast ballots Tuesday has changed.

 

According to La Porte County Clerk Heather Stevens, Center Township residents in Precinct 3 and Precinct 4 will vote at the Center Township Volunteer Fire Department at 4504 W. Johnson Road.

 

Initially, residents in those precincts were scheduled to vote at Our Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church at 3628 W. Johnson Road. However, Stevens said the church was recently sold, and the property's new owner is doing some construction work on the inside as part of a remodeling.

 

"It's just not safe for the voters at this time," Stevens said.

 

The future use of the church was not immediately known.

Early Voting Totals Less Than 2020

(La Porte County, IN) - Early voting in La Porte County is now over.

 

It ended at noon today at all four locations in La Porte, Michigan City, Coolspring Township, and Wanatah, where people were voting early by machine.

 

Through Saturday, La Porte County Clerk Heather Stevens said 7,850 people voted early by machine.

 

Stevens said another 1,600 people voted by absentee ballot while nearly 350 people cast ballots in the mobile voting unit.

 

Another 180 people voted after given ballots by members of a local traveling board.

 

In 2020, just over 19,000 people in La Porte County voted early by machine, or more than twice as many as this year, according to the vote tabulation record at the county clerk’s office.  

 

Interest is high among voters this year because of local races combined with the fight over which party will control the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C. But, Stevens said 2020 was a presidential year. Voter turnout is always higher when the race for the White House is on the ballot.

 

In 2018, the last midterm election, LaPorte County had 37,792 voters, representing 49.01% of registered voters in the county. 

 

Tomorrow is officially Election Day nationwide. The polls in Indiana are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

OWI Arrest in Mailbox Collisions

(La Porte County, IN) - An arrest for impaired driving was made after three mailboxes were struck outside La Porte over the weekend. According to La Porte County Police, the mailboxes were in the 1000 block of W. Severs Road.

 

After the collisions, the vehicle entered a ditch, but the driver managed to get out and fled the scene. Police said a vehicle matching the description with mud on the tires was quickly spotted and pulled over.

 

The driver, Jose Sanchez, 25, of Michigan City, admitted drinking two beers while at work in New Buffalo two hours before the mailbox collisions, police said.

 

However, a test allegedly showed his blood alcohol level was .088-percent or just above the .08-percent legal limit. A small amount of marijuana and various smoking devices were also recovered from the vehicle.

Fall Clean Up Begins

(La Porte, IN) - The fall clean-up begins today in La Porte. According to the mayor’s office, all trash must be securely tied in bags.

 

Mattresses and other large items must be fully wrapped in plastic.

 

Waste generated by construction or demolition will not be collected.

 

According to the mayor’s office, items should be left at the curb and will be collected during your regular trash pick-up day.

Possible Connection with B-Dubs Burglary

(La Porte, IN) - A burglary last month at Buffalo Wild Wings in La Porte could be linked to similar break-ins in the area.

 

Police said two suspects in dark clothing were involved in a burglary at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Hammond on October 17.

 

According to Hammond Police, the suspects crawled on their stomachs to keep the motion sensors from going off. They made it to a manager’s office, where a hole was cut into a safe with a saw they brought.

 

A hole was also cut into a safe at Buffalo Wild Wings in La Porte, where at least $1,500 in cash was taken. During the La Porte burglary, a hole was also cut into a wall to get inside the office where the safe was kept.

 

Police said a recent burglary at Taco Bell in Michigan City was carried out similarly.

Library's "Stonehenge" Had Local Inspiration

(La Porte, IN) - As the new library reading garden neared completion in downtown La Porte, a Neolithic-looking feature popped up on the corner of Indiana Avenue and Harrison Street. Some have called it La Porte’s Stonehenge. Actually it’s artwork inspired by a world-renowned modern artist who got his start in La Porte County.

 

Isamu Noguchi graduated from La Porte High School in 1922. From here, he went on to become one of the leading American artists of the 20th Century. Noguchi, who now has a museum dedicated to his work in New York City, was known for his use of natural materials like wood and stone.

 

Recently, when the library replaced its front steps, it found itself with a pile of granite. Library director Fonda Owens says the slabs, turned on their sides, made for a perfect art installation, the likes of which Noguchi might have made. “We just thought, how can we reuse a part of the material to create something nice for the garden?” said Owens. “I really like that connection. It is important to retain that history when you can.”

 

According to Owens, history has been preserved in other library branches as they’ve been remodeled or rebuilt in recent years. For example, pieces of the church that the Rolling Prairie branch used to call home are displayed in the new facility.

 

The library is sponsoring its second annual high school art contest in honor of Isamu Noguchi. On Wednesday evening at main branch, winners will be announced. The art projects are currently on display inside. And you can see the new granite artwork outside in the reading garden.

Cougars Pounce on Brickies for Sectional Title

(Hobart, IN) - New Prairie brought home a sectional football title for the second straight year Friday night.

 

On the road at Hobart, the Cougars’ offense struck early and often, scoring all their points before halftime. A fast start has become the Cougars’ calling card. They’ve outscored opponents 91-20 in the first half of their first two playoff games.

 

Junior Brock Sinka’s interception on the opening drive led to a rushing touchdown by senior Noah Mungia. On the Cougars’ next possession, junior quarterback Marshall Kmiecik faked a handoff to Mungia and broke free for a 70-yard touchdown, making the score 14-0 after only three plays.

 

The Brickies broke off a long touchdown run early in 2nd quarter to get on the board. But every time Hobart scored, New Prairie answered. The Brickies were gaining momentum until a turnover gave New Prairie the ball back with over six minutes left in the half. Two plays later, Noah Mungia scampered 53 yards for a touchdown, making it 28-7. Hobart mounted another scoring drive before halftime, but New Prairie scored three more times to take a 49-14 lead into the locker room.

 

New Prairie’s reserves played much of the second half. Mungia finished with 227 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Kmiecik ran for 125 yards, scoring two touchdowns on the ground and throwing for two more. The Cougar defense turned in three pass interceptions.

 

New Prairie came away with a 49-28 victory. They’ll host Northridge next Friday for the regional championship.

Morales Living the Dream

(La Porte, IN) - According to Diego Morales, becoming the next Indiana Secretary of State would be the next step in his living of the American Dream.

 

Morales came to America in 1999 with no money and no knowledge of English. But he wasted no time becoming an American. “I am a legal immigrant who came to America legally, respecting the rule of law,” Morales said, “but I came to America to give and contribute. Morales said, after graduating from high school, he joined the army before even becoming a naturalized citizen. “In fact, when I volunteered in the U.S. Army,” he said, “I had a green card in my wallet. Now running for Secretary of State, it’s the same—simply to give back, so I can continue to strengthen and protect voter ID laws. My motto has always been ‘easy to vote, harder to cheat.’”

 

Morales earned a college degree, two master’s degrees, and started his own business. He has also worked in various offices of state government, including the Secretary of State’s Office, which he says gives him diverse experience for holding the position. “I did not wake up earlier this year scratching my head saying, ‘you know what, I’m going to run for Secretary of State, what the heck.’ No, I’ve been preparing myself for years. And I believe humbly I’m ready for the job,” Morales said, “and I ask my fellow Hoosiers here in La Porte County to humbly vote for me, for an Army veteran. I just want to give back, to continue to repay my debt of gratitude to Indiana and America.”

 

Morales says he’s visited all 92 counties in Indiana and has taken a liking to La Porte. He visited the county the past two weekends and was in town last Saturday as part of a campaign tour with candidate for State Treasurer Daniel Elliot, State Auditor Tera Klutz, and U.S. Senator Mike Braun.

 

Morales is running against Libertarian candidate Jeff Mauer and Democrat Destiny Wells, who were both guests recently on 96.7 the Eagle's "Sound Off." Their interviews can be heard HERE.

 

Remember to tune in to 96.7 the Eagle on Tuesday night for your live, local election coverage.

Alleged Speed Demon Charged Again

(La Porte County, IN) - A man arrested recently after allegedly fleeing police in La Porte is accused of running from the law several months ago on a dirt bike.

 

Brian Moreau, 35, is charged with running from the police on a stolen dirt bike in the Kingsford Heights area in late June.

 

Authorities said the dirt bike was traveling at a high rate of speed when first spotted by the officer, who went after the driver with his flashing lights and siren activated.

 

Police said the dirt bike continued at a high rate of speed and even accelerated when Moreau tried to beat an oncoming train across the tracks in the area of 850 South and Chatfield Road. Moreau slammed on his brakes when the crossing arms began coming down.

 

Police said the dirt bike flipped and slid across the road for nearly 100 feet before resting. After being ejected from the dirt bike, Moreau rolled on the ground and flipped several times before stopping.

 

Court documents revealed that one of his arms appeared to be broken, and a helicopter was called to transport him to a hospital trauma unit.

 

The investigation revealed Moreau had track marks on his arms. He also told paramedics he injected himself with a “speedball,” court records disclosed. 

 

According to authorities, a speedball is typically a mixture of cocaine and heroin.

 

La Porte Police said an officer Saturday night tried stopping a vehicle for having a license plate light not working, but the driver, identified as Moreau, accelerated in the area of Washington and Tyler streets.

 

He soon stopped and fled on foot but was captured by a canine dog, police said.

Leaf Pick-Up Cancelled by Forecast

(Michigan City, IN) - There will be no leaf pick up in Michigan City on Saturday.

 

According to the mayor’s office, high winds in the forecast through the day is the reason for the cancellation.

 

In other news, there will be no change in garbage pick-up in Michigan City on Tuesday, which is Election Day. All trash and compost/yard waste pick up will be picked up as previously scheduled, according to the mayor’s office.

Incumbent Seeking Third Term

(La Porte County, IN) - A retired firefighter is looking to retain his La Porte County Council seat.

 

Randy Novak, 63, is vying for a third term in the District 2 county council race against Aaron Kirk. Novak, a Democrat, has been council president for five of the last eight years.

 

Novak is also a former 33-year member of the Michigan City Fire Department and was fire chief for five years before his retirement at the end of 2019. In addition, he has remained active as a practicing licensed realtor since 1998.

 

Novak said he’s running again because he enjoys helping in areas like quality of life and community involvement.

 

“I love LaPorte County, and I want to see it the best it can be,” Novak said.

Novak said economic growth would continue to be high on his priority and other issues, such as mental health.

 

For several months, Novak has been working with officials from LaPorte, Michigan City, and the Healthcare Foundation of LaPorte on ways to help people overcome their addictions to drugs and alcohol.

 

Novak plans to continue helping with those efforts, including establishing the first respite house in the county.

 

People who just completed treatment would live in the facility together for an extended period to help their chances of long-term success in staying sober.

 

“We’re trying to make that a reality,” Novak said.

Currently, Novak said people completing treatment have to go elsewhere for such care but often have to wait for space to become available. He said returning to the same environment to await a vacancy increases the odds of relapse.

 

Aaron Kirk, 44, is a field service engineer and project manager for Siemens Energy.   His work is performed in nuclear power plants, mainly in Braidwood, Illinois. He’s also a former officer with the U.S. Merchant Marines working on cargo ships bringing in goods from overseas.

 

Kirk, a Republican, said his first run at public office was in response to a dislike for what’s happening in politics, mainly at the national level.

 

“We can sit around and complain about things, or we can try and get involved and be agents for change,” Kirk said.

Kirk said his top priority is supporting things aimed at reducing crime, like further increases in the wages of police officers to keep them from going elsewhere for higher pay.

 

“They got a little something, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Kirk said.

Kirk said he also believes providing more job opportunities can help combat crime.

 

“I don’t think it’s a new concept. I just think people have to stand firm and have the courage to do what’s right and fund the things that are going to affect positive change,” Kirk said.

Vance Seeks to Unseat Incumbent

(La Porte County, IN) - A veteran LaPorte County Councilman is seeking another term in the November 8 election.

 

Mark Yagelski, 63, of Michigan City, is a supervisor at Cleveland-Cliffs steel mill at Burns Harbor. At that time, it was Bethlehem Steel when he was hired there after graduating from high school.

 

Yagelski is seeking his sixth term as District 3 councilman. But, he still enjoys the responsibility of helping to manage county government finances.

 

“It’s a challenge. I still like it. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t be doing it,” Yagelski said.

Yagelski said his top priorities include retaining emergency responders lured elsewhere by higher pay.

 

Pay raises were given several months ago, but more are expected once the money starts coming in from an increase in the local income tax for public safety adopted earlier this year.  

 

Yagelski said he also wants to expand a tax base that hasn’t grown much because of the stagnant population to alleviate having to raise taxes again in the future. In addition, he believes more residents will start moving here next year once the South Shore Railroad commuter line has a second set of tracks to reduce travel times to and from Chicago.

 

High-rise hotel and living facilities on the north end of Michigan City are expected to increase soon because of the migration from Chicago anticipated by the rail improvements.

 

Yagelski said offering more things for people to do here will also help attract new residents and visitors.

 

“You see how New Buffalo changed overnight. I believe in the possibility of Michigan City changing overnight,” Yagelski said.

Deb Vance, 60, is a real estate agent at Weichert Realtors Merrion Group in Michigan City and used to be a secretary for Ivy Tech Community College. She ran previously for Michigan Township Trustee and LaPorte County Clerk.

 

Vance said she entered the campaign believing her years of experience in budgeting while employed at Ivy Tech could be helpful to the council.

 

Her top priorities include having a more set-in-stone budget to reduce uncertainty.   

 

Vance believes the council leaves the budget too open for department heads to request additional funds when their pool of dollars starts running out before the end of the fiscal year.

 

Vance says that unexpected expenses are going to happen regardless. However, she believes spending can be held closer to the vest if a better job is done of anticipating future costs during budget planning.

 

“We need to kind of set a base, so we know what we’re working with first, then we have a better idea,” Vance said.

Vance said she also wants to bring to the council more transparency and a kinder attitude toward the public. Vance says the council should explain more before making spending decisions to give the public a better idea of how their tax dollars are being handled.

 

Vance believes council members could also be friendlier toward citizens with questions.

 

“These are people we’re responsible to be accountable to. I think they should also treat people with respect and professionalism,” Vance said.

Plastic Recycling Stations Coming

(La Porte County, IN) - Plastic bags can be exchanged for reusable bags at no cost throughout La Porte County later this month.

 

The annual event is hosted by the Solid Waste District of La Porte County at the following locations this year.

               

11/14 - La Porte Solid Waste District Office

11/15 - Al’s Supermarket in La Porte from 10 am-2 pm

11/16 - La Crosse Public Library from 10 am-2 pm

11/17 - Al’s Supermarket in Michigan City on Franklin St. from 10 am-4 pm

11/18 - Al’s Supermarket in Michigan City on Karwick Rd. from 10 am-4 pm

11/19 - Wanatah Town Hall 10am-2pm

 

According to SWD officials, people can bring items like plastic bags, shrink wrap, newspaper bags, and case wrapping from water bottles to exchange for a reusable bag.

 

Such plastics can also be turned in year-round at the SWD office at 2857 W. Indiana 2.

 

Sponsors like NIPSCO help with the cost of supplying reusable bags during the exchange, SWD officials said.

Free Train Rides for Service to Country

(Chesterton, IN) - The South Shore Railroad commuter line is offering free rides to active duty and former military personnel in recognition of Veteran’s Day.

 

“We hope they feel our gratitude for their service,” said Nicole Barker, Director of Capital Investment and Implementation for the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, which operates the railroad.

 

The free rides will be offered for four days beginning November 11, which is Veteran’s Day.

 

“As our train personnel walk through the train, please let them know that you are active military personnel or a veteran, and we will provide you a ride at no charge,” she said.

 

No identification will be required.

 

Officials said up to three children ages 13 and under may ride free with each military personnel/veteran on an off-peak weekday and all-weekend trains.

 

For more information on train schedules, discounts, and planning a trip, please visit mysouthshoreline.com or download the SSL app (available for iPhone and Android).

Fire Heavily Damages Manufacturer

(La Porte County, IN) - A manufacturing company in La Porte County was heavily damaged by fire overnight.

 

The Springfield Township Volunteer Fire Department was dispatched before 1:30 a.m. to GTW Enterprises at 183 W. 800 North.

 

Springfield Township Fire Chief Steve Marvel said fire departments from throughout La Porte County and New Buffalo were called to assist with the blaze about three miles east of Indiana 39.

 

Marvel said the burning metal-sided facility measured close to 300,000 square feet, and numerous tanker trucks were needed to keep shuttling water. The nearest hydrants were at Linde Welding Gas and Equipment Center and near Springfield Elementary School, several miles away.

 

Marvel said the sometimes curvy route to those hydrants also required venturing up and down other roads. In addition, not having a straight path to the hydrants added to the difficulty. 

 

Marvel said the size of the fire also required two aerial trucks, which apply water from above in greater volumes than hoses on the ground.

 

Upon arrival, firefighters encountered intense fire at the back of the structure, with some flames crawling across the ceiling into a longer building section.

 

Marvel also said several powerful explosions from tanks containing propane and other gas led to a large fireball going into the air. 

 

Firefighters were there for about seven hours. No injuries were reported.

 

Marvel said roughly half of the building was destroyed. He estimated the loss, including contents like machinery, at “probably in the millions.”

 

Marvel said the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office is helping to investigate the cause of the blaze, which is standard procedure for industrial fires.

 

According to the company’s website, GTW Enterprises, founded in 1992, is family owned and operated. The facility makes paper honeycomb products out of recycled paper for the packaging and shipping industries.

 

 

 

 

 

Road Closed for Repaving

(La Porte, IN) - A stretch of a busy road in La Porte is closed for the time being. Boyd Boulevard is being resurfaced from Jefferson Avenue to Ohio Street.

 

The existing asphalt started to be removed this morning, said La Porte Code Enforcement Director Jeff Batchelor.

 

The stretch of Boyd Boulevard near Walmart is closed until probably sometime during the afternoon Friday when a new asphalt surface is supposed to be down.

 

The Indiana Department of Transportation is the lead agency in the street repaving project.

Sign Leads to Racist Claim

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte County official was called a racist today over a sign referring to the father of another local politician as "Mexican".

 

La Porte County Councilwoman Connie Gramarossa brought up the signs at Wednesday’s La Porte County Commissioners meeting. She accused Commissioner Rich Mrozinski of being responsible for the signs.

 

Gramarossa said the signs call her “a con and a fraud” but also refer to her father as Mexican, a term she viewed negatively because of how it was used in the context.

 

“It’s very clear that Rich Mrozinski has an agenda here. It’s very clear that he’s a racist,” Gramarossa said.

She also pointed out her father served in the Vietnam War.

 

Gramarossa, a Republican, is running against Democrat Commissioner Sheila Matias in a rematch from four years ago. Matias narrowly came out on top by less than 800 votes. 

 

Mrozinski is also a Republican but was recently reprimanded and outcast from the local Republican Party for attacking other Republicans. 

 

Recently, Mrozinski was captured on video posting a sign on a bulletin board inside the La Porte County Complex. He said he had nothing to do with the Gramarossa sign.

 

Mrozinski said the only signs he posted were about the recent trick-or-treat event at the La Porte County Historical Society Museum and the upcoming Veterans Day program at the La Porte Civic Auditorium.

 

In December, Mrozinski was caught on video at night entering the La Porte County Government Annex Building on Michigan Avenue across from the courthouse. He left a rubber snake outside the office door of La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz after months of political controversy.

 

At the time, Stabosz took it as a threat since they were political enemies and confronted Mrozinski, who denied placing the snake. However, he later admitted to the allegations once learning he was caught on video.

Charges in Drug Related Chase

(La Porte, IN) - Charges are filed against a man who failed in his bid to outrun the police in La Porte.

 

Brian Moreau, 35, of La Porte is charged with resisting law enforcement.

 

According to police, an officer Saturday night attempted to stop a Chevy Avalanche for not having a functioning license plate light. The vehicle at Tyler and Washington streets accelerated quickly and headed westbound on Lincolnway and southbound on Teegarden Street. The vehicle was in the 300 block of G Street when it came to a stop.

 

Moreau, identified as the driver, along with a passenger fled on foot in opposite directions. Moreau was warned several times to stop before a K-9 was released and grabbed him by the arm.

 

According to court documents, it’s believed the passenger doubled back and climbed into the vehicle then soon crashed into a tree at 5th and Eggebrecht streets. Police said the individual behind the wheel at that moment took off running and got away because the dog was not able to pick up a scent.

 

Nearly two grams of methamphetamine in two separate plastic bags along with three syringes and six cell phones were recovered from the vehicle. Police said it appears the drugs might have belonged to the individual who slipped away.

Apology Sought for Unfounded Allegations

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte man is demanding an apology from two county officials whose corruption allegations made regularly for close to two years were dismissed this week by a Grand Jury.

 

At Wednesday's La Porte County Commissioners meeting, Rick Kentaft said Commissioner Joe Haney and La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz need to say they're sorry.  Kentaft said there was no evidence from the start, but they still kept up with their claims which the Grand Jury investigation produced no charges.

 

"How much money was wasted on this Grand Jury? Both of these men owe not only the taxpayers in this county a formal apology. They owe this board an apology and the county attorney an apology," Kentaft said.  Kentaft is a former La Porte County Sheriff's Office employee and once ran for sheriff.

 

Several counts, such as fraud, bribery, and intimidation, were looked at by a Grand Jury, which ruled there was nothing to warrant the filing of charges.

 

La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman, a central target of the allegations, said the ongoing "falsehoods" and "conspiracy theories" damaged citizens' faith and trust in government.

 

Friedman said the unsubstantiated claims also hurt the previously solid reputation of the county. He called for the allegations to stop now that the six-member Grand Jury has made its ruling.

 

"The time has come to end the baseless insistence that certain appointed or elected public officials have impure or corrupt motives," Friedman said.

Stabosz laughed at the thought of apologizing, then called the investigation "a sham." He said that La Porte County Prosecutor John Lake, being politically connected to Friedman, should have appointed an outside prosecutor to oversee the Grand Jury proceedings.  As a result, Stabosz said the ability to achieve an unbiased outcome was negatively impacted.

 

"John Lake should know better. It puts a stain on him and puts a stain on the county," Stabosz said.

Charges for Extreme Road Rage

(La Porte County, IN) - Road rage led to punches and a driver striking a man with his vehicle near Michigan City.

 

Ryan Perrin, 36, of Trail Creek, is charged with criminal recklessness with a deadly weapon, a level 6 felony, and Class B misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

 

According to court documents, on October 16, Perrin was speeding through a residential area on N. Clover Lane when two men on foot hollered for him to slow down because of kids in the area.

 

Police said Perren turned around and headed back. He stepped out of his car and allegedly punched one of the men in the face.

 

Perren and the man he allegedly struck went to the ground, where they engaged in a physical altercation until separated by the other man.

 

According to court documents, Perrin returned to his vehicle and, while moving forward, swerved and struck one of the men who rolled onto the hood of his vehicle, court documents revealed. He fell off while the car was still moving and refused medical attention, police said.

 

Perrin was soon located in the driveway of his home in the 100 block of Plum Street. According to police, he explained, “I lost my head.”

Charges in Prison Library Sex Scandal

(Westville, IN) - A librarian at Westville Correctional Facility is accused of having sex with an inmate.

 

Janna Knocke is charged in La Porte Superior Court 2 with sexual and official misconduct. Authorities said she was a supervisor at the law library at the prison. The offender was a clerk.

 

According to court documents, the 38-year-old woman was approached last week after information developed she had been sexually active with the inmate.

 

At first, she denied the allegations. Then, police said Knocke confessed when shown a picture of a woman in black lingerie and messages containing sexual images and provocative photos sent to the offender.

 

Authorities said the offender also told her how much he enjoyed their sexual encounters. The Gary woman said she had two meetings at night last month.

Kellems/Kiel Vie for Seat

(La Porte County, IN) - The race for the District 1 seat on the LaPorte County Council pits a longtime police officer against a member of the LaCrosse Town Council since he was 18.

 

Democrat Mike Kellems and Republican Justin Kiel are vying for the seat now held by Terry Garner, who’s not seeking a sixth consecutive term.

 

Kellems is a former 32-year member of the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office and is currently a police officer at Purdue University Northwest outside Westville. 

 

Kellems, 57, of LaPorte, is also a security officer transporting offenders for the U.S. Marshal’s Office in South Bend and Hammond. He previously served four years on the LaPorte School Board.

 

Kellems said he entered the campaign after the party asked him about his interest in running for the seat.

 

“I enjoy public service, and I decided to give it a shot,” Kellems said.

 

If elected, Kellems said his priorities include putting money aside for potential major projects like a new La Porte County Jail and replacing the Franklin Street draw bridge in Michigan City.

 

Kellems said he also wants to begin identifying other sources of revenue that might be available to help pay for what will likely be tens of millions of dollars in costs.

 

“We need to make sure we’re budgeting for those so that we don’t get hit with a massive bill and have no way to fund it and avoid at all cost raising taxes,” Kellems said.

 

Kellems said he’s also in favor of raising the salaries of emergency responders until they reach a level that stops them from leaving for higher pay elsewhere at what’s been an alarming rate.

 

The dollars would come from revenue generated from a hike several months ago in the local income tax rate from .0095-percent to .0145-percent.

 

“That employee drain is hurting us. We got to catch that up,” Kellems said.

 

Kiel was 18 when appointed to fill an opening on the town council. He’s been council president since 2016.

 

Kiel is also the owner and publisher of the Westville Indicator and The Regional News, weekly newspapers covering primarily the southern part of the county.

 

Kiel said he’s running to provide a strong voice for the entire district and ensure areas like Wanatah, Westville, and LaCrosse receive fair representation.

 

“Sometimes, I think our rural communities get forgotten or left behind a little bit,” Kiel said.

 

Kiel said his other priorities include competitive pay for all county government employees and the council using its fiscal authority to play more of an active role in setting policy and reducing wasteful spending.

 

He also sees a need for a better long-term plan for major capital purchases.

 

Kiel said a good strategic plan allows enough dollars to be set aside for buying new trucks and other costly equipment when the time comes for replacement.

 

“Right now, there isn’t a written solid plan in place, and I’d like to see that created,” Kiel said.

 

Kiel said he also wants the government to be better than just average at being an open book, so the public is better informed on where the county stands financially and what was involved in decisions on spending.

 

“I think transparency is something that you can always do more to improve,” Kiel said.

 

Kiel, who lost four years ago in the primary to Garner by less than 100 votes, already owned the newspapers when he took his first step into the public service arena.

 

“I’m always filled with ideas, and I’ve always had a passion for government. It just seemed like a natural fit,” Kiel said.

Grand Jury Rules No Corruption

(La Porte County, IN) - A Grand Jury has found no reason to file charges after completing a seven-month investigation into claims of public corruption, official misconduct, and similar allegations within the La Porte County government.

 

La Porte County Prosecutor John Lake said the Grand Jury ruled no criminal charges were warranted on any of the allegations reviewed.

 

“While I cannot get into the specific details of the investigation due to the confidentiality of the Grand Jury process, I am able to relate that the Grand Jury returned zero true bills,” Lake said.

Lake assembled the Grand Jury in response to more than a year of almost constant allegations often voiced publicly by La Porte County Commissioner Joe Haney and La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz.

 

Haney said he was surprised no charges resulted from the Grand Jury proceedings. However, he said it's interesting that the decision was released one week before the November 8 election.

 

Haney also said the investigation might have been hampered by employees not coming forward out of fear of retaliation if their Grand Jury testimony was leaked.

 

La Porte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski was not surprised by the Grand Jury's decision.  On the contrary, Mrozinski said that he expected that no wrongdoing happened.

 

Mrozinski also called the allegations primarily from Haney and Stabosz "a bunch of hot air."

 

“There’s no truth to any of their claims. None of the things they’re saying are happening in La Porte County. Everything is all on the up and up,” Mrozinski said.

Mrozinski said the only wrongdoing is from Haney, Stabosz, and a select number of other Republican officials doing things like spreading false information.

 

Allegations of corruption from Stabosz early in 2021 resulted in him being sued by La Porte County Attorney Shaw Friedman for defamation of character. The legal action is still being litigated in the courts. 

 

Mrozinski said the allegations were from people out to settle political or personal vendettas.

 

“They really have no business being in county government,” Mrozinski said.

Mrozinski said everyone else is trying to do a good job but has to endure a steady diet of allegations, name-calling, and fighting.

 

“I’m so tired of it. I’m over it. I just hope people will see what’s going on here,” Mrozinski said.

In writing, La Porte County Commission President Sheila Matias informed county employees about the grand jury's decision.

 

"You, over the last months, have seen and heard some individuals try mightily to undermine faith and trust in county government.

 

Thank you, county employees, for your diligent work through these difficult times. It is good to see that after months of meeting and listening to testimony from a multitude of people, the Grand Jury has zero findings to report in its public corruption investigation.

 

You are a  dedicated team of public servants giving your effort and care in service to this community, and we thank you for your work," Matias said. 

Openings at La Porte County Sheriff's Office

(La Porte County, IN) - The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office is now accepting applications for the position of Patrol Deputy. 

 

Applicants who successfully complete and pass the various stages of the process will immediately fill vacancies within the Patrol Division. 

 

The hiring process will include the following stages:  application phase, physical agility testing, written examination, computerized voice stress analysis examination, background investigation, Merit Division interview panel, Merit Commission interview, and psychological assessment. Applicants who successfully pass a certified law enforcement academy will be “fast-tracked” through an abbreviated hiring process.     

 

Applications can be found online by accessing www.laportecountysheriff.com or by picking them up at the front desk of the Sheriff’s Office.  

 

The application deadline is Monday, November 21, at 6:00 AM (CST). 

 

Individuals who apply and meet the required standards will be notified by letter with further instructions. 

 

Beginning January 1, the starting salary for a Patrol Deputy will be $56,000. Following one year of service, the salary increases to $65,000. 

 

People with current or prior law enforcement experience are strongly encouraged to apply as the LCSO offers a variety of specialty divisions, incentives and benefits packages, and a financially sound pension.     

 

Completed applications can be dropped off at the front desk of the Sheriff’s Office, sent via standard mail, or as a scanned attachment and sent via email. Completed applications may be mailed to the following:

 

La Porte County Sheriff’s Office

Attn: Captain Derek J. Allen

809 State Street

La Porte, Indiana 46350

 

All completed applications sent via email shall be sent to the following:  dallen@lcso.in.gov. Any questions should be directed to Captain Allen at 219-326-7700, ext. 2283, or the previously listed email address.    

Felon with Gun Reeled In

(Michigan City, IN) - A convicted felon with a gun has been taken off the streets in Michigan City. It’s the latest arrest in Michigan City, where police have been targeting gun violators.

 

Police said 31-year-old Devon Todd was stopped near the lakefront early Sunday after committing several traffic violations in a sports car.

 

According to police, a loaded handgun was found during a search of the Dodge Challenger. As a result, Todd could face up to a 12-year sentence on the level 4 felony charge of serious violent felon in possession of a handgun.

 

According to court records, Todd was convicted of robbery in 2017 in Terre Haute.

 

The police crackdown is in response to increased gun violence in the community.

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