Local News Archives for 2023-01

Lakers Send Message in Rout

(La Porte County, IN) - The boys’ basketball team at La Lumiere School with five slam dunks cruised to victory at home on Saturday, January 28th.

 

The Lakers defeated Saint Francis, a college preparatory school from Wheaton, Illinois 80-36.

 

Kaleb Glenn, a 6' 7" forwarsd committed to the University of Louisville, put the Lakers ahead 14-5 with a slam dunk midway through the first quarter.

 

La Lumiere began putting the game out of reach in the second quarter when sophomore Danny Murray sank a three point shot from the baseline followed by three point buckets from beyond the top of the key by junior Isaiah Henderson and senior Trenton Walters.

 

The Lakers led 46-24 when 6’4” senior guard Zaide Lowery sank a 40 foot shot at the halftime buzzer.

 

Glenn after grabbing a pass started the third quarter with his second slam dunk of the game then later dished the ball to 6’9” center Gus Yalden, who went up for a slam dunk.

 

A short time later, Glenn raced down the court for another slam dunk to increase the lead to 30 points.

 

In the fourth quarter, there was no let up from the Lakers in their offensive fireworks capped by Lowery when he dribbled in for thunderous slam dunk to make the score 72-33 with just three minutes left on the game clock.

 

Head Coach Pat Holmes said he was pleased with his team’s performance against a squad featuring a number of solid players.

 

“I thought our guys did a pretty good job playing selfless and trying to make a play for their teammates, which has been the point of emphasis all year,” he said.

 

The defense held the Spartans to just 12 second half-points.

Man Booked in Child Molesting Case

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man wanted on allegations of child molesting for nearly a year is now in custody. Jose Leon-Diaz, 33, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court.

 

In March, police said officers were called to a home in the 200 block of Scott Street on a report of a domestic dispute.  Upon arrival, Leon-Diaz fled on foot and was unable to be located by authorities at the scene.

 

Investigators responding to the complaint were told he molested a 10-year-old girl inside the residence. The girl later alleged she was sexually violated by Leon-Diaz once before about a week prior to the most recent encounter.

 

A warrant charging him with three counts of Child Molestation and one count of Child Seduction was issued for his arrest on April 4th.

 

Leon Diaz was booked into the La Porte County Jail five days ago.  No light was shed on his discovery. He could face up to 40 years on each of the two most serious counts, which are Level 1 Felonies.

Alcohol Related Arrest in Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - Police say alcohol was involved in a collision between two oncoming vehicles outside La Porte.

 

Ramon Toledo, 46, of Rolling Prairie is charged with Class A Misdemeanor Operating while Intoxicated.

 

According to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, the crash occurred before 4 a.m. Saturday on Johnson Road at County Road 525 West.

 

The investigation shows Toledo veered over the center on a curve at a high rate of speed and struck the driver’s side of an oncoming vehicle.  Toledo and his female passenger were not injured in the collision, which left both vehicles with heavy front end damage.

 

Police said the other driver, Amanda Erickson, complained of pain to her left side but declined medical treatment.

 

Court documents revealed an empty bottle of beer along with two water bottles containing an undisclosed orange liquid along with several wedges of lime were found in Toledo’s vehicle.

 

He was arrested with an alleged blood alcohol level of .14-percent.

Lakers Need Wins for Tourney Bid

(La Porte County, IN) - The boys’ basketball team from La Lumiere School appears to have an uphill battle this season for another chance at a national title.

 

Head Coach Pat Holmes said his team (12-6) is on the “outside looking in” right now for the Geico Nationals, which features just eight teams in the three day tournament beginning March 30.

 

The Lakers had four losses last season before being knocked out in the first round of the tournament in Fort Meyers, Florida.

 

Despite six losses, Holmes said most of the defeats were decided by five points or less against teams in what could be viewed as the toughest conference in the nation.  The National Interscholastic Basketball Conference now in its second season has teams from states like Florida, New York and Arizona.

 

Several of the teams in the NIBC are considered a lock for invitations to the tourney.  Currently, the Lakers are ranked No. 9 in the nation.

 

Holmes said his team cannot lose two of the dozen or so games left in the regular season and expect to receive an invitation.

 

“We got to continue to win,” he said.

 

Holmes said the team, which lost eight core players from last season, is beginning to show signs of peaking, though.  He said this year’s brand new starting line-up and key players off the bench following a learning curve are playing better as a unit now.

 

“We got to be playing good team basketball to give ourselves the best chance to win,” he said.

 

Holmes said the team has also been hurt at times from sickness or injury.

 

“We’re close.  We can compete with anybody, but we got to bring it every single day.  Every possession matters,” he said.

 

The Lakers’ roster includes players such as Kaleb Glenn, a 6’7” forward heading to the University of Louisville next year and 6’9” center, Gus Yalden, who’s going on to play at the University of Wisconsin.

Drug Use Alleged in Hit and Run

(La Porte County, IN) - A suspected hit and run driver in La Porte County was allegedly impaired by drugs.

 

Jacks Kramer, 26, of Michigan City allegedly backed into a vehicle Friday afternoon in the area of Johnson Road and 400 North.

 

Authorities stated that Kramer fled eastbound but was pulled over on Pine Lake Ave. near Weller Ave.  The vehicle he struck driven by a 45-year-old woman called police, who made the stop based on her description of the vehicle.

 

Nothing illegal was found but Kramer allegedly showing symptoms of drug impairment was found with two syringe caps in his pocket.

 

He did not have any alcohol in his system.

 

Police said a blood sample was taken but they’re still waiting for the results.  Kramer was charged with operating while intoxicated, fleeing the scene of an accident and cited for driving on a suspended license.

 

There were no injuries reported in the crash, which caused just minor damage.

Highway Reopens Following Blaze near Knox

(Starke County, IN) - A stretch of state highway is now open following a house fire in Starke County Monday afternoon.

 

The fire just east of Knox was reported just after 4 p.m.

 

Indiana State 23 was closed to provide space for firefighters from multiple agencies

to battle the flames.

 

Reports indicate nobody was hurt in the fire.  Right now, it’s not known if anyone was home at the time.

 

We’ll provide more details as they become available.

 

Lakers Toy with Upset in Defeat

(La Porte, IN) - The La Lumiere School girls’ basketball team leading late in the second quarter lost to No. 1 ranked South Bend Washington over the weekend.

 

McDonald’s All American, Ashlynn Shade, had 16 of the Lakers first 21 points in the first half.

However, the Panthers trailing by two points scored the last nine points during the final 90 seconds of the second quarter to go into halftime leading 28-21.

 

South Bend Washington continued to pour it on in the third quarter for a 21 point advantage going into the final period.  The momentum changed drastically after the undefeated Panthers began double teaming Shade, who was held to just nine second half points.

 

The Panthers also forced a lot of turnovers leading to points in the second half by putting more pressure on the ball when it was in the hands of other Lakers players.

 

La Lumiere outscored the Panthers by five points in the fourth quarter in the 60-44 loss.

 

Head Coach Matt Marvin said he wasn’t surprised about the run from the Panthers, who seemed to surge in the second quarter and early in the third quarter in all of their previous games this season.

 

“We blinked and the next thing I knew it was 40-23,” he said.

 

Marvin said his players also put up and missed too many three point shots instead of trying to work the ball for a better shot against the defensive pressure.

 

“Washington is really, really good,” he said.

 

The Panthers are also ranked No. 7 in the nation.

 

Marvin said he congratulated his players for giving 100-percent against one of the best teams in the nation before a packed home crowd.

 

“I don’t believe in moral victories, but I’m really, really proud of how they conducted themselves and left it all out there until the end,” he said.

Talk of Schreiber Field Tear Down

(La Porte, IN) - For the first time ever, perhaps, talk about eliminating hallowed Schreiber Field in La Porte has entered the public arena.

 

School Board president Jim Arnold said there’s been talk about the need for a field house for student athletes at the high school.

Arnold said Kiwanis Field, another high school sports landmark, needs considerable work and might not be worth the cost of a renovation.  If Kiwanis Field remains, Arnold said the only room near the high school to construct a field house is on Schreiber Field.

 

The baseball diamond is named after the late Ken Schreiber, who coached seven state championship teams in the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

 

On Sound-Off Friday on 96.7 The Eagle, Arnold said it’s just an idea he wanted to throw out for discussion to begin the process of arriving at the best solution.

 

Arnold said he knows what Schreiber Field and Kiwanis Field where the high school football team plays mean to the community.  However, he said decisions sometimes have to be made for what’s best financially for the school corporation and future of the high school sports programs.

 

“Unfortunately, a lot of people sometimes are in the past, but it’s progress,” he said.

 

If there was ever a decision to remove Schreiber Field, Arnold said the new baseball diamond could still carry the legendary coach’s name.

 

Schreiber was 83 when he passed away in 2017.  He had over 1,000 victories in his long career as head coach of the Slicers and just over 200 losses. 

Heroin Dealer Dealt Loss on Appeal

(Indianapolis, IN) - A Michigan City heroin dealer wanting his prison sentence reduced has lost his appeal. Devante King was given a 10-year prison sentence in November of 2020 for selling 2.7 grams of heroin.

 

The Level 4 Felony Offense has a sentencing range of 2-to-12 years.

 

King argued the sentence was extreme because the crime involved no brutality and the sentencing Judge Michael Bergerson in La Porte Superior Court 1 gave too much weight to his past convictions in determining punishment.

 

However, the Indiana Court of Appeals today upheld the sentence.

 

The appellate judges pointed out his prior convictions were for Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon in 2011; Robbery in 2013 and Unlawful Transport of a Firearm in 2017. The judges also cited King being on supervised release from federal custody at the time he was caught selling heroin.

 

King was found guilty by a jury, which was not able to reach a verdict on a similar drug dealing charge and allegations the drugs he sold caused the death of Anthony Comeno.

 

Currently, King is serving his prison sentence while awaiting a retrial on the allegations that resulted in a hung jury.

Shade Has It Made on Hardwood

(La Porte County, IN) - She makes everything on a basketball court from shooting to running a fast break almost look easy.

           

Ashlynn Shade, a 5’ 11” senior at La Lumiere School, has been named a McDonald’s All American.

           

Shade said she was in class using an iPad when notified in a text message on January 24 of her selection from more than 700 girls nominated from across the country.

 

She clicked the link and up on the screen came a video about her being chosen to participate in the most celebrated post season high school All American girls’ basketball game.

 

Shade said it was surreal to think she was viewed in the same light as some of the best girls’ basketball players who ever played.

 

“It’s such an honor to be part of that list because it’s so, like, historically amazing,” she said.

Shade, who has committed to the University of Connecticut, will play for the 12 member East squad on March 28 at the Toyota Center in Houston.  Joining her on the Huskies next season is KK Arnold of Germantown, Wisconsin chosen to play on the West team.

 

Shade said she knew the players were going to be announced that day but went to school trying not to think about it or get her hopes up too high.

 

“I’m just glad to be part of it.  It was just like totally unexpected,” she said.

 

Shade led Noblesville to the Indiana High School girls’ basketball state championship last year and was considered the overwhelming favorite to be named Indiana Miss Basketball for 2023.

 

Since La Lumiere outside La Porte is a college prep school, the Lakers are not eligible to compete in the state tournament.   Shade is also not eligible for Indiana Miss Basketball.

 

Nevertheless, Shade said she made the right choice to attend La Lumiere and live in a dorm on campus away from her family about 30 miles north of Indianapolis.

 

She said the decision was tough but one she felt was best for her growth academically and on the basketball court.  Shade said she also believes the move has helped her to become more independent to further help in her transition to college.

 

“I had a lot of great friends on that team.   We built a lot of great memories, but I’m super happy about the decision I made and I don’t have any regrets about it,” she said.

 

The Lakers (8-9) are in their fourth season of upgrading the program to compete against top competition mostly from Indiana and Illinois.

 

Shade scored 25 points Saturday in a loss against undefeated South Bend Washington, which is No. 1 ranked in the state and No. 7 ranked in the nation. Earlier in the season, she poured in 44 points against No. 13 ranked in the nation, The Webb School outside Nashville, Tennessee.

 

“We’ve played the hardest schedule in the country and feel confident in saying that,” said Lakers Head Coach Matt Marvin.

 

Shade is averaging 24 points, 9 rebounds and five assists a game.  She’s shooting 55-percent from two point range and 40-percent from beyond the three point line.  

 

“She doesn’t miss open shots.  It’s pretty incredible to watch,” Marvin said.

 

He also cited her physical strength, instinct and unselfish play as among her other strong points on the court.

 

In second grade, Shade said she actually hated basketball when she first competed on a boys’ team coached by her father, a physical fitness instructor.  She tried other sports before returning when her elementary school later started a girls’ basketball program.

           

Shade said it’s been a labor of love ever since with a hard work ethic passed down from her parents.  She also credited her success to coaches, teammates and friends over the years.

 

“Obviously, I put in the work and put all of the time and effort into it, but it’s not an individual thing for me. It’s a family thing.  It’s a circle thing,” she said.

Prison Outcome of Sexual Relationship with Teen

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte area man has received prison time stemming from a sexual relationship with a teenage girl. Justin Bryan, 23, was sentenced in La Porte Circuit Court Friday to 13 years and four months in prison and one-year on probation for Child Molestation and Possession of Child Pornography.

 

He pleaded guilty to the allegations.

 

Police became involved in January of 2022 when a La Porte woman discovered sexually explicit images of her then-13-year old daughter on the girl’s cell phone. The girl and Bryan told investigators separately they were in a sexual relationship since July of 2021, court documents revealed.

 

Bryan said there were numerous sexual encounters and he requested several of the explicit images from the girl sent to him electronically. Bryan also said other girls that he knew sent him sexually explicit photos of themselves electronically.

 

He was ordered to spent his time on probation in a sex offender rehabilitation program.

Slicers Bounce Back with 58-34 Win Over Concord

Friday night the La Porte boys' basketball team fell behind Crown Point 15-0 in the first quarter leading to a disappointing 68-51 defeat. Saturday night the Slicers flipped the script on Concord, scoring the game’s first 10 points on their way to a 20-8 first-quarter lead and a 58-34 win.

 

Kyle Kirkham scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in the opening period to lead the Slicers. He had a three-point basket and three old-fashioned three-point plays in the quarter. La Porte’s 1-3-1 three-quarter court trap led to several Concord turnovers and easy scores. 

 

The Minutemen, who had won seven of their last eight games, began the second quarter with an 8 to 2 run cutting LP’s lead to 22-16. That is as close as Concord would get. La Porte led 30-20 at the half then extended their lead to 46-29 after three.

 

Nine different Slicers scored in the game. In addition to Kirkham’s 22 points, Rylan Kieszkowski scored 11 and Ja’Meriyon Cross 8. Malik Corley and Nic Spence each had 4 points, RJ Anglin had 3.  Tommy Samuelson, Dylan Salisbury, and Brennan Balka all had 2 points.

 

Corley was 2 for 2 from three lines starting a new steak. The Slicer point guard missed two free throws in the season opener against South Bend Riley then hit 39 in a row until missing his final charity toss at Crown Point Friday.

 

Kieszkowski had impressive dunks in each of the first two quarters. The Slicers played aggressive trapping defense throughout the game. Cross was in the middle of all of it forcing several turnovers and deflections.

 

Kirkham was named the Salisbury and Stence, Edward Jones Player of the Game.

 

The Slicers improved their record to 11-6 on the year. Concord fell to 9-7.

 

La Porte will host Valparaiso Thursday night at Slicer gym, Varsity tipoff is 7:00, and JV at 5:30. Saturday afternoon Kankakee Valley will visit the Slicers. JV will start at noon and varsity at 1:30.

 

SLICER JV TEAM DROPS 52-50 HEARTBREAKER

 

Matt Miller’s Slicer JV team led 11-10, 26-22 and 42-36 at the quarter stops before live ball turnovers and poor free throw shooting caught up with them in a 52-50 loss to Concord. 

 

The game was tied at 50 when Javelle Broome missed the front end of a 1 and 1 with 13 seconds left. Concord took advantage,  Char’rese Breveard hit a shot with 4.1 seconds remaining. The Slicer could not complete a full-court pass and the Minutemen escaped with the two-point win.

 

Sawyer Tonagel led the Slicers with 16 points, Van Warner had 13, Eli Taylor chipped on 7. 

Ice Sculptors Add Crown Jewels to Winter Fest

(La Porte, IN) - A fresh blanket of snow added just the right touch to La Porte’s annual Winter Fest, and beautiful ice sculptures now adorn Plaza 618 like crystal jewels.

 

On Friday afternoon ice sculptors unveiled their creations at the corner of Lincolnway and Monroe.

 

Howard Busfield of South Bend was one of the carvers. He created a pinball machine and a ticket booth. “We had somewhat of a circus theme today,” he said. Other sculptures include a lion, circus wagon, and a juggler. “It’s actually a little warm for carving,” Busfield said, as temperatures hovered around freezing. “But everything should hold up for people to see it.”

 

Busfield has been carving ice for about 18 years. But Matt Patton is new to the craft. “This is my second weekend,” said Patton as he was packing up his tools. “I carved one last weekend, and this is my second one. I’m a lot happier with this one than the first one. So far everyone has been able to tell what it is, so that’s a good thing.”

 

Patton carved an elephant on a ball. He works for City’s Pure Ice, which provides the raw material for the sculptures. NIPSCO and Full Tilt Arcade also sponsored the ice carving.

 

City’s Pure Ice owner Bud Lies, a longtime ice carver himself, sat this year out nursing an arm injury. But he found a protégé in Patton. “Last week he was guiding me and coaching me," said Paton of his mentor. "He lets me know when the carvings are coming up and where to be, and I’m looking forward to getting better each time.”

 

The carved ice is on display at Plaza 618 in downtown La Porte.

Bulldogs Bite Slicers 68-51

Coach Jordan Heckard stressed the importance of a good start before Friday’s game at Crown Point. He got the opposite. La Porte was held scoreless until the 3:13 mark of the first quarter while the Bulldogs were scoring the game’s first 15 points. La Porte ran off the next 5, cutting the lead to 10 but that was as close as the Slicers would get all evening falling 68-51. 

 

Crown Point sharpshooter AJ Lux scored 14 of his game-high 26 points in that first period, hitting 4 of his 6 three-pointers in the opening quarter. La Porte trailed 24-9 after one.

 

The game evened out in the second and third quarters with CP leading 35-18 at the half and 50-31 after three quarters. Both coaches substituted liberally in the fourth period.

The Slicers were led in scoring by Ja’ Meriyon Cross’ with 10 points. Kyle Kirkham, saddled with foul trouble before fouling out halfway thru the fourth, had 9 points. Malik Corley and Dylan Salisbury each finished with 8, RJ Anglin chipped in 5 while Tommy Samuelson had 4 points. Brennan Balka, hit a three-pointer and Dominic Thomson hit both of his free throws.

This was Crown Point’s ninth straight win over La Porte. The Slicers last defeated the Bulldogs 58-53 in 2014. LP’s last win at Crown Point was in 2010.

 

The Bulldog’s Conner Cotton had 9 points. He is the son of Slicer baseball Hall of Famer and basketball standout Jason Cotton.

Crown Point honored their 1998 regional championship team, the first year of class basketball. They are the only Bulldog team to win a regional. La Porte was in that semi-state, falling to Elkhart Central in the morning game. Crown Point lost to Marion in their semi-state opener.

 

Dylan Salisbury was named the Salisbury and Spence Edward Jones Player of the Game. 

The Slicers, who are 10-6 and 1-3 in the DAC, get right back into it tonight at Slicer gym. The Concord Minutemen come to town JV tipoff is 5:15.  The Varsity game follows with a scheduled 6:45 start.

JV TEAM FALLS 66-40

 

The Junior Varsity game was a preview of the Varsity game. La Pore fell behind 21-4 after one quarter and never challenged before falling 66-40. Kevin Konieczny led LP with 10 points, Sawyer Tonagel had 9, and Eli Taylor finished with 8.

 

Photos courtesy of Susan Anglin.

Internet and Tech Discounts Available

(Washington, D.C.) - You may qualify for reduced internet service and/or a computer discount and not even know it.

 

The Federal Communications Commission offers the discounts through the Affordable Connectivity Program. The benefit provides up to $30 off internet service and a one-time discount of up to $100 for a computer or tablet purchased through a participating provider.

 

A household can qualify for the program in one of the following ways:

 

  • if your household income is 200% or less than the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
  • if someone in your household participates in a federal assistance program, such as SNAP (Food Stamps), Medicaid, WIC, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), federal housing assistance, free or reduced school lunch.
  • if someone in your household receives a veteran's pension or survivor benefits.
  • if you qualify for tribal benefits.

 

Go to AffordableConnectivity.gov to submit an application.

Cubs Go to Bat for More State Funding

(South Bend, IN) - The South Bend Cubs are pitching a proposal to state lawmakers to further fund improvements to Four Winds Field.

 

Senate Bill 326 would earmark up to $100 million over 20 years for arts and recreation development. $50 million would go to Four Winds Field improvements. The other half would benefit facilities like the Morris Theater and the Century Center.

 

The Cubs already benefit from local tax revenues. Senate Bill 326 would more than double that.

 

Possible stadium improvements include an upper deck, small convention space, and a new scoreboard.

Hutchens Found Guilty in New Carlisle Murder

(South Bend, IN) - Guilty was the verdict handed down to 16-year-old Anthony Hutchens of New Carlisle on Thursday afternoon.

 

After many legal road bumps over the past two years, Hutchens was tried and convicted this week in the molestation and death of 6-year-old Grace Ross behind their New Carlisle apartment complex in March of 2021.

 

Hutchens could receive anywhere from 48-to-81 years in prison for the crimes. But as a juvenile, he could also be released in 2-to-6 years.

 

Sentencing is scheduled for March 31st. Hutchens’ defense lawyers have said they plan to appeal the verdict and push for the case to go back to juvenile court.

Pancake Breakfast for 4-H

(La Porte, IN) - The Kiwanis Club of La Porte will fire up the griddles this weekend for the return of their popular All-You-Can-Eat Pancake Breakfast to raise money for La Porte County 4-H youth programs.

 

In its 102nd year, the Kiwanis Club of La Porte will offer pancakes, eggs, sausage, coffee and juice for an optional donation at the La Porte Armory from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.

 

The armory at 2391 Indiana 2 is on the west side of La Porte.

 

“This is a great opportunity to serve the community and give to an organization that lives up to our mission of improving the world, one child and one community at a time while also enjoying a great breakfast provided by dedicated volunteers,” said Mark Manering, chairman of the event.

 

The fundraiser will provide support for the Purdue Extension GEM (Get Experience in Mindfulness) curriculum run by La Porte County 4-H, officials said. 

 

The Kiwanis Club of La Porte welcomes new members wanting to serve their community. Information about becoming a member is available on our website at www.kiwaniscluboflaporte.org, through messaging the group’s Facebook page or by attending their bi-monthly meetings.

Inspection to Reveal Condition of Courthouse

(La Porte, IN) - The county courthouse in downtown La Porte will be given a professional examination in response to concerns about the condition of the 1890’s structure.

 

La Porte County Commission President Joe Haney said problems with water in the basement have been allowed to linger under previous administrations.  An inspection has been ordered to find out if the water has caused any structural issues.


Haney went further, stating there are no obvious signs of major deterioration but that he feels it’s important to find out for certain for the short term and long term.

 

“We have to know for sure. We have to do our due diligence,” he said.

 

Haney asserts that properly maintaining the courthouse must be given high priority.

 

“That is such an historical building. It’s the seat of county government.  It’s what people see when they come here and it’s one of the most building courthouses in the state,” he said.

 

Courthouse renovation is planned once the financing of the recent expansion and renovation of the Michigan City courthouse is retired.  That could be 10-years or more from now or sooner depending on how fast purse string holders want to pay down the debt.

 

Haney said another reason for the inspection is to determine how long the La Porte courthouse renovation can wait before the work has to be done. 

 

Local Hoopster a McDonald's All American

(La Porte County, IN) - A girls’ basketball player attending school in La Porte County has been chosen to play in the 2023 McDonald’s All-American Games.

 

Ashlynn Shade is from La Lumiere School, a college prep school with a regional schedule and talent from outside the area.

Shade transferred from Noblesville, IN. to play her senior year in high school at La Lumiere on Wilhelm Road north of U.S. 20.

 

She is committed to playing next year at the University of Connecticut.

 

Shade, a 5’ 11” guard, was selected to play in the girls’ game from more than 700 players nominated by some of the nation’s top analysts, prep scouts, media, and coaches.

 

This year’s McDonald’s All-American games are scheduled for March 28 in Houston. The girls’ game is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. (ET) and will be televised on ESPN2.

Weather Possible Factor in Fatality

(Berrien County, MI) - Road conditions could have been a factor in a fatal head-on crash Thursday with a semi-truck in Berrien County, Michigan. The late morning accident happened on U.S. 12 between Galien and Buchanan.

 

According to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, an eastbound sport utility vehicle was attempting to a pass yhrsemi-truck from behind on the wet and slushy surface. Police said the driver of the SUV lost control and ran off the roadway to the left.  The driver after regaining control of the vehicle was hit head-on by an oncoming semi. The semi came to rest on its side in a ditch on top of the SUV.

 

So far, the name of the deceased operating the passenger vehicle has not been released.

 

The accident remains under investigation.

New Pilot in Economic Development Cockpit

(La Porte County, IN) - All new faces and a different approach have been placed behind the wheel to steer LaPorte County quicker into a more prosperous future.

           

AME Consulting out of LaPorte is in charge of what’s now called The Center for Economic Development, Planning and Government Affairs.

Members from the company have moved into what used to be the La Porte County Office of Economic and Community Development.  Paul Vincent, principal owner and director of engineering for the firm, is in charge of the office at the La Porte County Annex building at 555 Michigan Ave.   

 

The La Porte County Commissioners under new leadership parted ways with the firm once responsible for creating new jobs and former executive director of the office, Tony Rodriguez.

 

County Commission President Joe Haney said AME Consulting has the resources to perform the multiple tasks involved in attracting new companies and helping existing firms succeed and grow.  AME Consulting will also operate under a new structure bringing county departments with various roles to play in economic development seamlessly into the process.

 

For example, Haney said everyone previously involved in areas like recruitment, infrastructure development and planning worked separately, which caused delays in getting projects started and completed.  The hope now is to save a considerable amount of time by having all key players together under one umbrella.

 

“LaPorte County has languished for too long.  Now, for the first time in a long time, we’re finally opening the county up and making a much more conducive environment for business, growth and expansion,” he said.

 

One of the directives given to the new economic development team is to pursue more grants to help offset the cost to taxpayers and the private sector on new investment and maintaining roads.

 

Haney said he also wants to increase the amount of grants secured for providing more access to high speed internet.

 

He feels LaPorte County can do better than it did last year in placing 62nd out of 92 counties in state funds secured for broadband extension.  Haney said another hope is to work on economic development more with all of the municipalities.

 

The contract with AME Consulting is for six months, which can be renewed based on performance.

 

In comparison, Rodriguez and his personnel worked under a one-year deal in each of the four years they were in the office.

 

Haney also noted AME Consulting will be paid about $50,000 less than the previous firm if their contract is extended for the rest of the year.

 

“It’s time for LaPorte County government to start thinking more like a private company where we need to see results. We need to see things more focused and not tolerate some of the stagnation and just poor performance,” he said.

$100,000 Gift for New Youth Center

(Michigan City, IN) - A $100,000 donation has been made to help construct a new facility for the Boys and Girls Clubs of La Porte County.

 

The funds given by the 1St Source Foundation will go toward the purchase of real estate to construct a 35,000 square foot building in Michigan City.

 

The Boys and Girls Clubs branch in Michigan City will relocate there from the old Elston High School building where it currently operates from a section of the former school.

 

“We are extremely grateful to 1st Source Foundation for their early support of our capital campaign and expansion efforts,” said Michelle Shirk, Executive Director of the BGCLPC.

 

The new facility will include a full court gymnasium, cafeteria and spacious program areas for several different age groups.  A dedicated Teen Center will also be provided.

 

Shirk said the new facility will house up to 350 children. In comparison, the existing space can accommodate no more than 200 children and doesn’t provide a gymnasium.

 

The foundation is an entity created by 1st Source Bank to enhance and strengthen the social, economic and cultural fabric of communities served by the financial institution.

 

The BGCLPC has expanded in recent years into La Porte, Westville and Kingsford Heights in response to a growing need for such facilities for children after school and during the summer. 

Watch Collection Thief Could Face Time

(La Porte County, IN) - A woman could do some time for allegedly taking a collection of watches and other items. Ashley Sheets, 28, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Level 5 Felony Burglary.

 

According to court documents, she and Matthew Rancatore, 34, were hired to complete drywall and painting work on a newly remodeled home in the 5700 block of West 300 North.  They were fired on December 16th for not completing the work on schedule.

 

The next day, police were called to the property because of items stolen from a barn and garage during break-ins. Among the missing items were two cases containing more than 70 watches.

 

Police were later informed Sheets of Chesterton sold one of the stolen watches to a pawn shop and tried selling other watches to the store, all matching the description of the ones taken in the burglary.

 

According to court documents, police are still investigating to determine if Rancatore was involved in the burglary and whether he maintained a storage unit possibly containing stolen items.

 

Rancatore of La Porte was recently arrested in Kingsford Heights after allegedly found with fentanyl inside a syringe along with methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana.

Meth Bust from Reckless Driver Complaint

(Michigan City, IN) - A driver traveling on the wrong side of the roadway in Michigan City was stopped and allegedly found with a large amount of methamphetamine. Craig Hahn, 45, was pulled over Monday night in the area of 6th and Pine streets.

 

According to police, an officer responding to a complaint of a reckless driver with no headlights on noticed Hahn exhibiting symptoms of possible impairment during the traffic stop. Hahn, though, denied using any foreign substances.

 

With help from a K-9 dog, two plastic bags containing just over 5 grams of methamphetamine were recovered from the vehicle.  Also found was a plastic tube Hahn admitted to using for ingesting methamphetamine through his nostrils. The officer also observed a case of beer in the vehicle.

 

The Minnesota man was charged with Level 5 Felony Possession of Methamphetamine and Class C Misdemeanor Possession of Paraphernalia.

All New Faces in Party Ranks

(La Porte County, IN) - The Democrat Party in La Porte County is now under totally new leadership. For about two months now, the party has had a new Chairman, Angie Henzman of Michigan City. 

 

Wednesday night, the party, during a caucus of precinct committeepersons countywide, elected the rest of its officers.

 

Bryant Dabney, a City Councilman in Michigan City, was elected Party Vice Chairman.   Corey Campbell was elected Treasurer and Izabelle Galvin was chosen as Secretary.

 

Doctor Vidya Kora, the former Democrat Party chairman and all other party officers, resigned following a near-Republican sweep in La Porte County in the November election.

 

Some Republicans have described the party as in disarray.

 

Henzman, though, said the resignations were voluntary and views the changes within the party as a “new day.”   

 

“So people feel like it’s a very dark time and I feel like it’s a time that we have great opportunity to create and to building something. I’m excited about it,” she said. 

 

More Thefts from Vehicles Reported

(La Porte County, IN) - Police are hoping to solve a recent string of thefts from motor vehicles outside La Porte.

 

According to La Porte County Police, deputies since January 1st have investigated 12 thefts of miscellaneous items from motor vehicles parked in subdivisions and neighborhoods near Crichfield Elementary School and in rural Center Township.

 

The doors were not locked on some of the vehicles, but windows were shattered to get inside vehicles that were locked, police stated further.

 

It appears all of the thefts and acts of vandalism have occurred during the overnight hours. 

 

In one of the cases, an estimated $1,650 in power tools and other belongings were removed from a take home work vehicle of a NIPSCO employee on County Road 350 North, according to a police report.

 

A wallet containing $100 in cash and three credit cards were removed from a vehicle parked close to a residence after both side windows were shattered in the 600 block of Holton Road. According to police, two other reports filed the same day on January 21 involved thefts of items such as $45 in cash, a portable Blue Tooth speaker and Playstation also on Holton Road and the 100 block of Williams Avenue.

 

Authorities are encouraging area residents, along with any visiting family members and friends, to remove all valuable property from inside their motor vehicles and lock the doors.  People should also call 911 immediately if they observe any suspicious individuals and vehicles or hear any unusual noises.

Once Dangerous Intersection Now Safe

(La Porte County, IN) - It used to be one of the most dangerous intersections in La Porte County, but that’s no longer the case. La Porte County Sheriff Ron Heeg said U.S. 20 and Indiana 2 has even dropped the top ten most dangerous list.

 

A few years ago, the traditional state highway intersection once guarded by traffic lights was converted into something similar to a roundabout to eliminate the risk of vehicles crossing into the path of oncoming traffic.

 

Originally, Heeg said experts closely involved with the reconstruction believed the number of accidents at that location near Rolling Prairie would not be reduced but there would be a reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes.

 

Heeg said he’s surprised that hardly any accidents have occurred there since the change.

 

“It’s a great thing,” he said.

 

Heeg said U.S. 20 and Indiana 39; Lincolnway and Indiana Avenue in downtown La Porte and U.S 20 and U.S. 35 are still among the most dangerous intersections in La Porte County.

 

He also said rumble strips put in by the Indiana Department of Transportation on center lines and fog lines has reduced the number of accidents on highways where they have been in installed in recent years.

Man Rolls Snake Eyes at 7-Eleven

(La Porte, IN) - The numbers were not lucky for a suspected narcotics user during a drama-filled bust at the 7-Eleven store in La Porte. Michael Schackart, 55, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Possession of Methamphetamine and Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated.

 

The La Porte man was stopped late in the night on January 9 for having a false license plate and driving left of center.  After he pulled into the gas station convenience store, the officer noticed signs of drug impairment like slurred speech, stuttering at times and dilated eyes, police said. 

 

Schackart kept asking if he could go inside to use the bathroom and cash what he described as winning lottery tickets.  However, the officer told him to remain and he complied with his orders.

 

Police said the officer also spotted inside his vehicle about a dozen or more social security and debit cards belonging to other people.  According to court documents, he began stuttering even worse when asked about the cards and claimed he was having an anxiety attack.

 

Suspecting he had drugs, the officer shook his pants only for bag of methamphetamine to fall from his pantleg. 

 

The officer was trying to place Schackart into his police vehicle when he began shaking seemingly uncontrollably and claimed to be having a stroke.  He was taken to the hospital then to the La Porte County Jail after receiving medical clearance several hours later.

Jailed Again for Marijuana

(Michigan City, IN) - A suspected drug dealer was arrested and a wad of cash seized during a traffic stop in Michigan City. Ian Williams, 20, of Michigan City is now charged.

 

According to police, Williams on January 19 was stopped for failing to use a turn signal in the area of Pine and Franklin streets, where the approaching officer was met by an overwhelming smell of marijuana despite a can of air freshener in the vehicle.

 

A plastic bag stuffed with one ounce of marijuana along with several cartridges containing THC oil were allegedly seized during a search of the vehicle.  Police said two bundles of cash and money from his wallet totaling more than $1,300 were also confiscated. A scale and a large amount of clear plastic bags were among the other items turning up in the search.

 

According to court records, Williams already has two marijuana related convictions within the past six months.

Federal Lawsuit Against New Prosecutor

(Hammond, IN) - A federal lawsuit alleging wrongful termination has been filed against the new La Porte County Prosecutor. The legal action was taken at U.S. District Court in Hammond by two employees of the former prosecutor, John Lake.

 

Nancy Hawkins and Anthony McClintock allege they were let go by current prosecutor, Sean Fagan, because they were supporters of the former prosecutor in last year’s campaign.

 

Fagan, a Republican, defeated Lake, a Democrat, by nearly 1,000 votes in the November election and officially took office on January 1st.

 

According to the lawsuit, Fagan violated the former employees’ freedom of speech rights under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by retaliating against them for supporting the candidate of their choice during the campaign. Fagan, during the campaign, filed a police report alleging intimidation against a Michigan City man for his words on Facebook. McClintock, a retired Michigan City Police officer, was an investigator for the prosecutor’s office at the time. McClintock looked into the allegations and ruled there was no intimidation.  The lawsuit alleges that was another reason for McClintock being terminated.

 

The Plaintiffs are seeking no less than $500,000 in damages apiece and a return to their former positions. When contacted, Fagan said he could not respond to the lawsuit since the case is still pending before the court.

Stolen Safe Found in Fleeing Vehicle

(Michigan City, IN) - Charges are filed in connection with a high speed chase and manhunt throughout much of Michigan City. Justin McColly, 39, is charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with resisting law enforcement and other counts.

 

According to court documents, officers at about 4 a.m. on January 18th were assisting a disabled vehicle on Twin Road near U.S. 12 when a vehicle with a very loud exhaust system drastically reduced its speed while traveling past their location. One of the officers began following the vehicle and, eventually, tried to make a traffic stop, but the driver accelerated. Speeds reached up to 120 miles per hour as the pursuit ventured down U.S. 12, Karwick Road, U.S. 20 and other roads like 400 West.

 

Police said McColly blew through a number of traffic lights and stop signs and drove between trees in a yard in his effort to elude law enforcement.  At one point, the vehicle driven by McColly traveled sideways in the curves of a curvy road with the tires smoking from the high speeds.

 

Eventually, stop sticks placed by an officer flattened at least one of the suspect’s tires on East Michigan Boulevard near the police station.   The pursuit continued down numerous streets in the downtown area despite the flattened tire falling off the rim.

 

McColly with sparks flying up from the rim stopped and allegedly fled on foot in the area of U.S. 12 and 8th Street  He was later captured inside a residence. Police said a safe apparently forced open after stolen and three other people in their upper 20's to early 30's were located inside the vehicle.

 

One of them, Brandon Hicks, was taken into custody on a felony warrant out of Saint Joseph County, Michigan, police said.

 

State Preparing for Winter Storm

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indiana Department of Transportation is preparing for a major winter storm expected to blanket the state.

 

Just one or two inches of snow is expected in La Porte and surrounding counties but heavier amounts are predicted to the south.  The precipitation could start overnight Tuesday and early Wednesday.

 

The National Weather Service has issued winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories for all of Indiana.

 

According to INDOT, crews will be out in full strength in most areas with nearly 1,000 trucks treating and plowing highways.

 

INDOT urges motorists to closely monitor forecasts and avoid unnecessary travel during the peak of the storm, which is predicted to produce as much as one inch of snow per hour in some parts downstate.

 

Drivers should remember to slow down, increase following distance, give plow trucks room to work and allow plenty of extra time to reach their destinations, INDOT officials said.

Russian Roulette Driver Back in Jail

(La Porte County, IN) - Police believe a driver was impaired on drugs to the extent of posing a major threat to the traveling public.

 

Roger Davidson, 69, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Operating while Intoxicated along with Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Marijuana and other counts.

 

On January 19, a Kingsford Heights Police officer about 9:30 p.m. responded to a complaint of a vehicle all over the roadway in the area of U.S. 6 and Range Road. A short time later, the officer stopped the vehicle after witnessing the driver veer over the center line and fog line multiple times.

 

Police said the officer while approaching on foot noticed what seemed like an odor of marijuana coming from his vehicle.  Davidson said he just left his job at an auto parts store in La Porte and had not been drinking. However, authorities noted his speech was slurred and he nearly fell while staggering after stepping out of the vehicle.

 

Marijuana along with smoking pipe were recovered from his vehicle.

 

After transported to the La Porte County Jail, Davidson was found with more marijuana along with two grams of methamphetamine on his possession. Davidson of Knox is being held without bond.  He was out on bond on previous charges of unlawful possession of a syringe and possession of marijuana filed in November, according to court records.

 

A test confirmed there was no alcohol in his bloodstream, police said. 

Arrest in Drug Store Fentanyl Sale

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte City Police have taken an alleged fentanyl dealer off the streets. Elias Gonzalez, 22, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Level 5 Felony Dealing a Narcotic Drug.

 

According to court documents, Gonzalez on December 7th made arrangements to sell 15 pressed fentanyl pills.  Police said he met the buyer inside CVS Pharmacy at 1407 Lincolnway and carried out the exchange. The buyer then left the cash on a shelf in the detergent aisle of the store for Gonzalez to pick-up before he left a package containing the pills.

 

Charges were filed on January 19th after the results from an Indiana State Police laboratory confirmed the pills contained fentanyl.

 

Gonzalez, whose address is listed on Stone Lake Drive, was taken into custody on January 23rd.  He was being held in the La Porte County Jail on $20,000 bond. Prior records reveal Gonzalez has an intimidation charge filed in 2021 still undecided in the courts.

Charges in Railroad Metal Theft

(Michigan City, IN) - A South Shore commuter line worker is accused of stealing copper from the railroad. Kevin Woods of Michigan City is charged with theft.

 

Authorities said he took a spool of wire from a railroad storage area then placed it in the bed of a truck.   The truck owned by his employer was equipped with a GPS device and allegedly stopped at the home of the suspect.

 

The investigation by Indiana State Police alleges Woods sold the copper wire in Westville as scrap for over $500 in three separate transactions at an auto salvage yard. 

 

Woods could face an up to 30 month sentence on the Level 6 Felony Charge.

City Council Races Taking Shape

(La Porte, IN) - Two people, so far, are running for two at-large seats on the La Porte City Council.

 

One of the at-large incumbents, Republican Tim Franke, is seeking a second term. Dakota Euler filed his candidacy for city council at-large but later withdrew from the race. Lauren Huffman is also in the race for the Republican nomination in the May primary for city council at-large. 

 

So far, no Democrats have filed to run for any of the at-large seats on the seven member city council.

 

In announcing his candidacy today, Franke said “we have accomplished many great things in the past 3.5 years from attracting high paying businesses, removing drugs from our streets and increasing the quality of affordable homes through code enforcement.  Our community is on the move.  However, there’s more work to be done.”

 

Franke, a local business owner, also serves on the board of directors for the La Porte County Family YMCA.  He’s also a member of the La Porte Rotary Club and active with other boards within city government and outside organizations.

 

Incumbent Republicans Karyl Machek-Feikes, Laura Konieczny, Roger Galloway and Julie West are also running for reelection in their respective city council wards.

 

So far, they face no challengers.   The filing deadline for candidates to run for municipal positions in the May primary is February 3.

House Passes Sex Trafficking Bill

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indiana House of Representatives today approved a bill calling on truck drivers to help reduce human trafficking in the state. The measure, co-authored by State Rep. Jim Pressel of Rolling Prairie, moves to the Indiana Senate for further consideration.

 

"Our state is continuing its fight against this heinous crime.  This is an opportunity for professional drivers of all types to also help our efforts and take a stand against human trafficking," he said.

 

According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, sex trafficking often happens at truck stops and is commonly advertised online or through citizens band radio.

 

Pressel, chairman of the House Roads and Transportation Committee, said the bill would ensure new truck drivers are trained on how to recognize, report and prevent human trafficking. Drivers can encounter the criminal activity at rest areas and truck stops due to their remote locations beside major roads.

 

According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, there are 17 rest area locations and 28 separate rest area facilities on Indiana's interstate highways, including one in Michigan City and two in Rolling Prairie. If enacted, Indiana would join 12 other states with similar laws, including Ohio, Wisconsin and Illinois.

Inching Closer to Marijuana Decision

(New Buffalo, MI) - A public hearing is the next step before a decision is made on whether to allow marijuana dispensaries in New Buffalo. The New Buffalo Planning Commission on January 18 was presented with a proposed zoning map showing where such establishments can operate if the city decides to allow for the sale of marijuana.

 

City Manager Darwin Watson was asked to schedule a public hearing for the plan commission and city council to receive feedback together on the proposed zoning map before the commission makes a recommendation to the city council.

 

On Monday, Watson said no date has been chosen yet but the goal is to have the public hearing sometime before the end of February.

 

The proposed zoning map restricts the sale of marijuana to just a handful of areas in the city. Marijuana dispensaries would not be allowed within 1,000 feet of a school or church and could not be adjacent to residentially zoned areas. The sale of marijuana would also be prohibited within the city’s central business district.

 

City Attorney John Weiss suggested removing churches from the distance requirement to avoid opening the door to a potential legal fight. Weiss said religious establishments are not included under state law on what can be protected with a 1,000 foot requirement.

 

The distance requirement was allowed to remain.  Planning Commission Chairman Paul Billingslea, who supports the restriction, said changes could be made later to comply with any legal challenge.

 

"We can always dial it back,” he said.

 

Commission member Debbie Schmidt said she also feels strongly in favor of the requirement.

 

“I don’t have a problem with marijuana being in town.  I just want it to be somewhere where it’s not going to be such an issue for some community members,” she said.

 

“I think the people of New Buffalo have been clear.  They do not want marijuana dispensaries next to their churches and I think that’s something the city will make an effort to support,” said Mayor John Humphrey.

 

Overall, Schmidt said she was satisfied with the proposed regulations.

 

“The zoning we put together I think is a good balance for the whole community,” she said.

 

Humphrey said he believes the proposed zoning reflects the wishes of most citizens, who support the sale of marijuana but only in a select number of locations.

 

“I don’t think there’s an appetite for 15 marijuana dispensaries.  I think there’s an appetite for a few,” he said.

 

One of the locations eligible for a marijuana dispensary under the proposed zoning is the former Pizza Hut site.  Humphrey said the property is not within the central business district and is separated from a nearby residential area to the south by U.S 12.

 

The city council will decide whether to allow for the sale of marijuana once the zoning requirements are in place.  Humphrey said a vote on allowing marijuana dispensaries could come, perhaps, in April.  

Arrest Follows Lengthy Pursuit

(La Porte County, IN) - An arrest was made following a high speed chase in La Porte County over the weekend. Police said Brett Steel, 23, of Valparaiso was traveling at a high rate of speed n the area of U.S. 35 and Boyd Boulevard just outside La Porte when he passed a sheriff's deputy.

 

Deputy Jonathon Sikorski paced the speed of the vehicle at 75 to 80 miles per hour.

 

An attempt was made to make a traffic stop, but the southbound driver kept going and, eventually, turned westbound on U.S. 6.  The pursuit continued on 900 West and Indiana 2 then northbound on U.S 421. The vehicle finally stopped in the area of 200 North and Shebel Road.

 

Police said Steel is charged with Level 6 Felony Resisting Law Enforcement and Class B Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana.

 

 

Majority of School Board are First Timers

(La Porte, IN) - New faces make up a majority of the La Porte School Board. Beginning their first terms are Jennifer Farlie, Justin Holmquist, Amy Jackson and Ryan Seaburg.

 

During a recent reorganization meeting, Jim Arnold was named board president. Seaburg was appointed board vice-president and Marie Gilliland was voted in as secretary of the board.

 

According to school officials, the new board members have been taking part in professional development activities, which is standard procedure for newly elected school board members statewide.

 

They also attended the Indiana School Board Association New Board Member Academy hosted recently by the La Porte Community School Corporation at the Kesling campus.

Local Army Widow Takes Fight to the VA

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte County woman is fighting the Veterans Administration to ensure that the tragic death of her husband was not in vain.

 

On the night of October 15th, 2020, Chief Warrant Officer Jason Moon took his own life in his bedroom closet following years of mental anguish related to his military service.

 

The 33-year-old combat veteran left behind five children and his wife of 14 years, LaShanda.

 

Jason Moon served two tours as a medevac crew member during Operation Iraqi Freedom. One of the missions was particularly brutal. LaShanda says her husband would never speak about his deployment, and details about it are sealed to this day.

 

After returning to civilian life, Moon continued service in the Army National Guard, eventually achieving his dream of becoming a Blackhawk helicopter pilot. But an emotional war, held over from his time in Iraq, continued inside Moon. Nightmares and anxiety led to drinking, then to unpredictable and sometimes violent behavior. Friends and family were all too aware of Jason’s struggles. Local law enforcement intervened. But according to LaShanda, the VA was not interested.

 

“Veterans usually don’t have enough energy to fight the VA system,” she said. “They settle for waiting months for appointments or being treated as less-than. Many veterans just don’t follow through with care once they see how big of a hassle it is. This includes those still serving. Spouses are told we can’t open our mouths because it’ll affect the soldier’s career.”

 

According to Moon, her husband was never properly diagnosed with PTSD and ran into nothing but roadblocks trying to find psychiatric care during the pandemic. His suicide was a shock, but more than enough warning signs were there.

 

In October La Shanda Moon filed a claim for wrongful death against the Veterans Administration. She says the South Bend Vet Center failed to diagnose or treat her husband’s serious PTSD.

 

Moon said a federal investigation was prompted by her complaints and the cooperation of five whistleblowers. When local authorities were unable to take action, U.S. Senator Mike Braun and Representative Jackie Walorski launched an inquiry. Two other families were also named in the investigation, but Moon says they didn’t want to endure the heartache of litigation, leaving her to carry the banner on her own. According to Moon, “They were like- if you want to drop out, you can, but we cannot move forward without one of you still in this. And so I was like, nope, we’re going to take it as far as we can.”

 

Despite numerous warning signs, Moon’s husband was put in the counseling care of an unlicensed intern in May 2020. Subsequent meetings, all during the pandemic, were conducted only over the phone.

 

Moon’s complaint alleges that the VA ignored the problems of her husband and other veterans. VA staffers have come forward to testify that dysfunction in the office contributed to Jason’s downward spiral.

 

LaShanda is hoping to cut through layers of red tape to make mental health services better for future veterans and their families. “Family members don’t know they have rights after the veteran is gone,” Moon said. “Nothing I do or say going forward can affect Jason’s career but it can bring light to the issues. I can be the voice for those who are too tired to fight for the healthcare they deserve.”

 

As it is, Moon is still struggling to get proper assistance. “My children were promised bereavement therapy by the Vet Center, and they didn’t follow through,” Moon said. “so I now pay out of pocket for my kids’ mental health care regarding their dad’s death. They won’t even give me my own personal medical records, so I can take them elsewhere. I mean, policies need to change.”

 

Moon is seeking restitution for her husband’s funeral, as well as other compensatory damages. The VA has until April 14th to answer the claim. Otherwise, Moon’s case will go to a federal district court.

 

Statistics suggest that an average of 22 American veterans commit suicide every day.

Furious 2nd Half Rally Propels Slicer Boys to Win over Michigan City

The La Porte Slicer boys' basketball team trailed by 14 points at halftime Friday night before storming back for a breathtaking 76-73 win over Michigan City. This was the second game of a boys/girls doubleheader played in front of a huge, enthusiastic crowd at the Wolves Den.

 

La Porte led briefly early in the opening quarter before Michigan City took the lead. Dylan Salisbury hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 13 with 20 seconds left in the quarter. Michigan City’s all-everything guard Jamie Hodges countered with a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Wolves a 16-13 lead after one period.

 

Michigan City started the 2nd quarter on a 10-2 run to up their lead to 26-15. The Wolves stayed red-hot throughout the 2nd period leading by as many as 18 points. They scored 27 points in the quarter, hitting five three-pointers, three by Anthony Murphy. Hodges put the finishing touches on the quarter hitting another three at the buzzer. The Wolves led 43-29 at half.

 

La Porte came out firing in the 3rd quarter, scoring 27 points of their own to cut the Michigan City lead to 63-56 heading into the final period. Ja’Meryion Cross hit a pair of threes scoring 9 points in the 3rd. Kyle Kirkham also hit a pair of threes for 6 points with Rylan Kieszkowski scoring 5. The Slicers got as close as 3 points on a couple of occasions in the period but could get no closer.

 

The 4th quarter was one for the ages. The scrappy Slicers cut the Michigan City lead to 2 points twice before tying the game at 69. Michigan City had pulled back ahead 73-71 when Cross drilled a three-pointer at the minute-and-a-half mark putting La Porte ahead 74-73. The Wolves Murphy missed a long three-point attempt with the Slicers getting the rebound. After a timeout, the LP broke the Michigan City press but Malik Corley was trapped by three Wolves forcing the Slicers to call another time-out with 13 seconds remaining.

 

Slicer coach Jordan Heckard drew up the perfect inbounds play. With RJ Anglin inbounding the ball in front of the Slicer bench, he put Corley, a 93% free throw shooter, underneath the LP basket. Corley sprinted off a pick into the backcourt unguarded as his defender slipped trying to get through the pick.

 

Michigan City had no choice but to foul Corley who was a perfect 8 for 8 from the line up to that point.

He calmly sank both free throws giving the Slicers a 76-73 lead with 9.9 seconds left.
Michigan City still had time. They hurried the ball up the court. Hodges missed a contested three from the deep right wing. The battle for the rebound ended with the ball going out of bounds off of the Slicers underneath the Wolves' basket with 1.1 seconds left. After using their final timeout City got the ball to Murphy in the corner. His hurried three-pointer was long and the Slicers had their biggest win in recent memory.

 

Cross and Corley shared the Salisbury and Spence Edward Jones Player of the Game award. Cross finished with 19 points including 4 three-pointers. Corley scored 18 points including a perfect 10-10 from the foul line, he hit 2 threes and was the primary ball handler against the physical Michigan City defense.

 

Cross and Corley were not alone, there were heroes galore for the Slicers. The steady Kirkham scored 13 points, Tommy Samuelson had 10, Kieszkowski finished with 8, Anglin 5, and Salisbury 3.

Hodges finished with 23 points for the Wolves who fell to 10-4 and 1-2 in the DAC. Murphy had 18 and Allen Briggs finished with 16 including a couple of dunks.

 

La Porte, now 10-5 on season 1-2 in the DAC, hit 17-22 free throws. Michigan City was 7-15 from the line including 2-7 in the fourth quarter.

 

The Boys JV team fell to Michigan City Thursday night 54-44. Gage Raymond led the way with 15 points and Javelle Broome had 10.

 

The Slicers will be back in action next Friday at Crown Point JV game at 5:30, Varsity at 7:00. On Saturday, Concord will come to Slicer gym. 5:00 JV tip 6:30 Varsity.

 

SLICER GIRLS FALL TO MICHIGAN CITY

 

The La Porte girls' basketball team fell to Michigan City 52-20 in the opener of the boys/girls doubleheader on Friday night. Michigan City led 15-5 after one period and steadily increased their lead.

Sophomore Elizabeth Wallace scored 6 points for the Slicers, Abbey Schreeg had 5, Abby Allen and Taylor Revis pitched in with 3 each. Michigan City’s Paulecia Isom led all scorers with 14. Ramirra Anderson had 10 and Divine Woods finished with 9 points. Michigan City improved their record to 6-12 as the Slicers fall to 0-20.

 

Michigan City won the Thursday Girls JV game 39-32.

 

Photos courtesy of Susan Anglin.

DNR Tackling Gypsy Moth Problem

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is trying to get to the bottom of the gypsy moth problem.

 

The DNR is hosting a series of virtual meetings via Zoom to address the gypsy moth infestation that is affecting La Porte County and several others. DNR personnel will discuss problems associated with infestations of the insect, available management methods, and proposed treatment options. The representatives will also welcome questions and take comments.

 

The meetings will take place on the following dates:

Tuesday, January 24

Thursday, January 26

Monday, January 30.

There will be two meeting times each day at 11 a.m. and again at 6:00 p.m. Central.

 

All meetings will cover the same information. There is no need to attend more than one. Maps of proposed treatment areas can be viewed at on.IN.gov/spongymoth by clicking on the link “2023 Indiana Spongy Moth Treatment Program” at the top of the page.

 

To participate in a meeting, go to ZOOM.us. Click “JOIN A MEETING.” The meeting code is 886 8673 1356. You can also dial in by phone 312-626-9799.

 

The DNR will be accepting info from the public on this topic until March 3. Email comments to DEPP@dnr.IN.gov. When commenting, officials ask for specific information related to your spongy moth situation, in addition to the best way to contact you.

Report: Plans for Battery Plant Stalled

(New Carlisle, IN) - Plans for a massive car battery plant near New Carlisle appear to have stalled.

 

On Friday afternoon the Wall Street Journal reported that the partnership between General Motors and LG Energy will be put on pause before a fourth U.S. battery plant, called Ultium Cells, can be built.

 

The Industrial area east of New Carlisle was believed to be the landing spot for a $2.4 billion facility, which could employ as many as 1,600 people.

 

According to reports, LG got cold feet based on various economic factors. GM is reportedly looking for another energy partner to get plans for the battery plant back on line.

Child Death Under Investigation in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Police in Michigan City are investigating a child’s death.

 

According to a press release, at about 2:40 p.m. Friday afternoon, La Porte County 911 dispatch received a call regarding an unresponsive child at 824 W. 6th St. in Michigan City. That’s across the street from Pullman Park, west of the Lighthouse Mall.

 

First responders started life-saving measures while the child was transported to Franciscan Hospital by ambulance. However, efforts to resuscitate the child were unsuccessful.

 

Police are now investigating the death. No further information has been released.

 

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact Lead Detective Cpl. Mark Galetti at 219-874-3221 Ext. 1088 or via email at mgaletti@emichigancity.com. Anonymous tips can also be submitted to Michigan City Police through their crime tip hotline number of 219-873-1488 or the WeTip Hotline for General Crime at 800-78-CRIME. All WeTip information is sent directly to the La Porte County Prosecutor’s Office.

Musicians Partnering for Concert

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte County Symphony Orchestra along with performers from La Porte High School are teaming up to put on a concert next month.

 

The concert is scheduled Saturday February 11th at 7:00 p.m. at the La Porte High School Performing Arts Center.  

 

LCSO Music Director, Dr. Carolyn Watson has invited the La Porte High School Orchestra, under the direction of Elizabeth Cravens, and the LPHS Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Joseph Clark, to join the Orchestra for the second half of the performance. 

 

In addition, the LCSO’s Concertmaster, Tamara Stojanovic, will serve as soloist for the evening.

 

There will also be what’s called an “Instrument Petting Zoo” from 6:00 - 6:45 p.m. in the performance lobby.

 

The concert will be the second one of the season for the LCSO celebrating its 50th season.  Tickets are $22.00 for adults and $20.00 for seniors (60 and over). Students with a valid ID are admitted for free. 

 

Tickets are available at www.lcso.net or Roxy Music in La Porte.

Honor for Helping Sex Crime Victims

(Indianapolis, IN) - A local lawmaker has been recognized for his work in helping victims of sexual assault.

 

State Senator Mike Bohacek of Michiana Shores was recently awarded one of four 2022 Legislative Excellence Awards from the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney's Council.

 

Each year, IPAC presents the awards  to acknowledge work done in the name of expanding public safety. The latest recipients were selected for their work on legislation during the 2022 session that helped survivors of rape, human trafficking and child sexual abuse.

 

"I am honored to have been selected to receive an award for my work on legislation helping clarify the definition of rape. It's important to me to create and pass bills that will genuinely make changes in the lives of Hoosiers, and it is great to see people like those at IPAC that appreciate the work my colleagues and I do," Bohacek said.

 

With help from Bohacek, House Enrolled Act 1079 changed the definition of rape to include situations where someone's physical or verbal attempts to refuse the sexual actions of another are ignored.

 

Previously, Indiana law only charged someone with rape if the victim was threatened, forced or if the victim was mentally incapacitated or unaware that the intercourse is occurring.

 

IPAC testified in favor of HEA 1079 and supported it throughout the legislative process.

 

"No one deserves to go through anything this traumatizing, and I hope this law helps Hoosiers who have been sexually assaulted to get the legal justice they deserve," Bohacek said.

 

Details Unveiled in Chase/Manhunt

(La Porte County, IN) - Evidence shows a chase and manhunt in La Porte County on January 13 involved a possible drug dealer in a vehicle reported stolen from Chicago.

 

Michael Munson, 30, of Grand Rapids, Michigan fled police from Portage on Interstate 94 and during the eastbound pursuit sometimes traveled on the shoulder at high speeds, according to authorities.

 

Officers from outside jurisdictions discontinued the pursuit as it approached Michigan City.

 

However, Michigan City Police officer Michael Oberle with help from Trail Creek Town Marshal Steve Dick resumed the chase, which veered onto U.S. 20 and then County Road 525 West.

 

After the vehicle crashed in the area with hills and curvy roads, police said Munson and one other individual fled on foot.  Officers formed a perimeter to close in on the suspects and also used a drone and K-9 dog in the search.

 

Officer Oberle ran across 525 West in his foot chase and encountered Munson near a residence on 500 North.  Munson seemed tempted to start running again but complied with orders and was handcuffed without incident, police said.

 

The second person, Samuel Lopez also of Grand Rapids, was taken into custody as well.

 

According to court documents, evidence of possible dealing drugs along with $855 in cash was allegedly recovered from Munson, who was on parole from Kent County, Michigan.

Charges in Officer Head Butting

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man could face prison time in connection with a police struggle loud enough for people to step away from their dinner tables to catch a glimpse.

 

Bryan Parish, 25, is charged in La Porte Superior Court 4 with Level 6 Felony Battery Against a Public Safety Official and other counts.

 

According to court documents, Parish was pulled over by Michigan City Police for traveling without headlights on January 5th.  Initially, Parish refused to step out of his vehicle then attempted to walk away while refusing orders to stop. He was taken to the ground by one of the officers, who was then head butted allegedly by Parish.

 

Police said he was placed in handcuffs but continued to struggle and during a pat down search a smoking pipe apparently used for drugs was found in one of his coat pockets.

 

Court documents also revealed that Parish kept yelling and kicking his feet even after customers at Holly’s Restaurant and Pub came outside to witness the commotion.  The amount of resistance was extensive enough to use a paddy wagon to transport him to the La Porte County Jail, police said.

 

Parish has a history of resisting law enforcement, police said.

Big Crowd for Mayor's Campaign Announcement

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody made it official last night, announcing he’s running for reelection before a packed house at the Silver Palace.  He said what he promised during the campaign four years ago is being done in areas like code enforcement, quality of life and new housing.

 

Dermody also mentioned the drastic change at the former Monroe Street Apartments, which was once a haven for drugs, fighting and other problem behavior along with deplorable living conditions. A developer came in and renovated the 40 unit building into affordable, quality housing last year. 

 

“On day one, we sent a strong message.  People are going to live in respectful, clean housing and what’s happened for many years in the city of La Porte before us is no longer going to stand,” he said.

 

Dermody also vowed to keep pushing hard until the city becomes more of a destination for employers, visitors and new residents.

 

“Whether it’s housing.  Whether it’s water, sewer, road infrastructure.  Having the best quality of life around with our park department and all of our trails, La Porte is going to be the place to be,” he said.

 

A lot of democrats were at the event showing support for the Republican mayor.

 

La Porte County Councilman Randy Novak, a Democrat, said one of the things he likes most about Dermody is he works for what’s best for all people and reaches across party lines.

 

“Tom is here because he wants to make it a better place.  Bottom line and I support that and that’s why I’m here to support Tom,” he said.

 

Leigh Morris, who was mayor from 2004 through 2007, called Dermody “the best mayor we’ve had ever.”

 

“I’m pleased he’s going to seek another term.  We need it.  He needs it and it’ll pay off for our community big time,” he said.

 

Prior to becoming mayor, Dermody was a state representative for 10 years and member of the La Porte School Board for multiple terms. Dermody grew up in La Porte and was a pitcher for the Slicers under then head coach Ken Schreiber, who many people believe was an influence on Dermody and his winning attitude.

 

So far, no other candidates have entered the mayor’s race in La Porte with about a month to go before the deadline for people to enter the campaign.

La Porte Turns to License Plate Readers

(La Porte, IN) - The city of La Porte is going to have license plate readers installed to help crack down on crime.

 

The city’s Board of Public Works & Safety on Wednesday unanimously approved a two year contract with the provider.  Under the contract, the provider will install and maintain about a dozen cameras reading the license plate numbers on vehicles.

 

Police Chief Paul Brettin said the devices are going to be placed at entranceways to the city.

 

He said information about suspected offenders and vehicles associated with them will be entered into a system for the license plate readers to scan on passing vehicles and alert police of any matches.

 

“Whether it be stolen, known for drug use. Any crimes.  Anything like that it’s going to alert,” Brettin said.

 

Brettin said La Porte and other law enforcement agencies will be tied into the same system to provide a wider coverage area.

 

He said it appears La Porte is one of the last communities in Northwest Indiana to turn to license plate readers, which are now in the process of being installed in

Michigan City.

The enpense will be higher the first year because of the start-up costs, but then the annual payment to the provider is about $27,000, he said.

 

Board member Mark Kosior said a lot of people are concerned about invasion of privacy but there are no violations since the license plates being detected are on vehicles using  public roads.

Local Chase Ends in Gary

(La Porte County, IN) - A motor vehicle chase starting in La Porte County ended with a crash and the arrests of two individuals in Gary. Late Wednesday morning, a La Porte County Police officer attempted to stop a vehicle for moving violations on the Indiana Toll Road at the 48-mile marker.

 

The driver failed to stop and tried eluding officers from multiple agencies by existing and later reentering the Toll Road, police said. In Gary, the driver again veered off the Toll Road and collided with a utility pole in that city’s downtown.

 

The driver, Lontre Smith, 27, of Lauderhill, Florida fled on foot but was captured a short distance away, per the authorities. His passenger, Sian Gledhill, 30, of Phoenixville, Pennsylvania remained inside the vehicle.

 

They were later transported to the La Porte County Jail.

 

Smith was arrested for Resisting Law Enforcement, Operating while Intoxicated and Reckless Driving.

 

Police said Gledhill was being held for authorities in Pennsylvania on outstanding warrants related to fraud.

No Contact Order Imposed on Sullivan

(La Porte, IN) - A former longtime public servant made his initial appearance in La Porte Circuit Court yesterday.

           

John Sullivan, 62, of Wanatah is accused of going inside the home of a woman without her permission in Noble Township.  He allegedly fondled himself in her bedroom and had contact with some of her undergarments.

           

Wearing a suit and tie, the retired firefighter and former two term La Porte County Coroner appeared in the courtroom with his attorney.    Sullivan was released from jail the day after his arrest last week on $750 bond.

 

Judge Tom Alevizos ordered him not to have any contact with the 38-year-old victim while out on bond.   He could wind up back in jail to await the outcome of the case if he violates the no contact order.

           

Sullivan is charged with Residential Entry and Malicious Mischief.

 

He was allegedly caught engaging in lewd activity inside her bedroom by a security camera the woman recently had installed.  She told police Sullivan used to be friends with her late father and performed some handyman-type work at the residence she purchased several months ago.

 

The woman told investigators she bought the security system after suspecting things inside her home at times were out of place and having a feeling she was being watched.

 

In 2018, Sullivan was sentenced to one-year of having his whereabouts monitored by GPS after going inside the home of a 40 year old woman without her permission.  His conviction resulted in him stepping down from the La Porte County Council.

 

Sullivan is also former school bus driver for the South Central School Corporation.

 

After his arrest in 2017, Sullivan told police he went inside two other homes when nobody was there without permission over the past 20 years.

 

Sullivan was a full-time firefighter for over 30 years in the City of La Porte and a volunteer firefighter for the Cass-Clinton Township Fire Department.  

Charges in House Hit with Gunfire

(Michigan City, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with bullets fired recently into a residence in Michigan City.

 

Trenten Strawmier, 25, is charged with Criminal Recklessness and Possession of Methamphetamine, both Level 5 Felonies and Level 4 Felony Possession of a Firearm by a Serious Violent Felon.

 

According to court documents, a gun was fired multiple times into a home on January 10 at 220 North Ridgeland Avenue.  At least two people were inside the residence but nobody was wounded.

 

After the gunfire, a dark colored SUV was spotted by police turning onto Michigan Boulevard.  During a traffic stop, Strawmier was in the front passenger seat.  

 

According to authorities, a handgun was found underneath a seat in the vehicle and the only bullet still inside the firearm matched the over half dozen bronze shell casings recovered at the scene of the gunfire.

 

Strawmier of Michigan City could also be linked to a report of shots fired in the area of U.S. 20 and Franklin Street that same night judging from bullets located on and underneath a seat in the vehicle.

 

Prior records also revealed Strawmier bares a strong resemblance to a man spotted walking outside the home on Ridgeland Avenue before the shots rang out. A small amount of methamphetamine inside a plastic bag also was recovered from the vehicle during the traffic stop.

 

Police said Strawmier has a prior conviction for dealing cocaine from 2017.

Crash Involving School Bus Alcohol Related

(Michigan City, IN) - Police say alcohol was involved in a motor vehicle crash involving a school bus in Michigan City.

 

Daniel Ward, 43, is charged with Level 4 Felony Operating While Intoxicated Causing Serious Bodily Injury.

 

According to authorities, Ward on January 12 was traveling at a high rate of speed when he struck the back end of an SUV on South Woodland Avenue. The SUV was pushed into the back end of the school bus. The woman driving the SUV, Tyrhesheii Singh, suffered a broken wrist while also fracturing the heel on one of her feet.  Nobody on the school bus was injured.

 

Ward claimed he had three shots of Fireball whiskey and thought he was in good enough shape to drive, claiming he’s been drinking and driving since the age of 13. Police said his blood alcohol level was about two times the legal limit based on a portable breathalyzer test and symptoms like slurred speech and poor balance. 

 

A blood sample taken from Ward as part of the certified testing was sent to a laboratory for analysis. Allegedly, nvestigators are still waiting for the results. Otherwise, it appears Ward suffered only a minor cut to his forehead.

 

Ward has also been charged with Operating While Intoxicated as a Level 6 Felony because of a prior conviction for Impaired Driving.

New CEO at Horizon Bank

(Michigan City, IN) - Horizon Bank has named a new chief executive officer to replace its retiring CEO. Thomas Prame, currently president of the Michigan City based bank, will take over the job on June 1st. He replaces longtime CEO Craig Dwight, who is retiring.  Dwight has been CEO of Horizon Bank since 2001.

 

According to Horizon officials, the bank grew from $400 million in assets to $7.7 billion during his tenure.  Additional branches were also opened throughout northern Indiana, southwest Michigan and other parts of the Midwest.

 

“The Board is extremely grateful for the dedication and leadership Craig has provided Horizon over the last several decades,” said Michele M. Magnuson, Horizon’s Lead Director.

 

Prame joined Horizon in August of 2022 after years of working at larger metropolitan bans.

 

“I am extremely grateful and humbled to be selected to lead this amazing organization, to advance and enhance the company’s strategies and to continue the significant growth trajectory while providing banking solutions for the people and businesses in the communities we serve,” he said.

 

Bait Shop Hit Hard by No Ice

(La Porte, IN) - No ice on the lakes is putting a freeze on sales at a La Porte bait shop.

 

Eddie Hueston at Pine Lake Bait and Taxidermy said his only customers right now are buying crickets and other forms of live bait to feed their lizards and other reptiles they keep as pets at home.

 

He estimated sales are down 90-percent at the shop he operates at 1714 A Street.

 

“The impact here as far as our business here is down big time.  Real big,” he said.

 

Hueston said ice fishermen coming in to visit are frustrated by the open water on the lakes which were frozen when winter came in like a lion around Christmas time.

 

He said the ice then was thick enough to walk on and fish.

 

“After it started getting warmer around here, it just took a dive,” Hueston said.

 

There is hope for the bait shop and the ice fishermen it serves. Right now, the long range forecast is calling for temperatures to be just slightly above and below freezing during the day and into the teens at night until at least the end of the month starting on Friday.

Ice Fishing Cancelled for Winterfest

(La Porte, IN) - There will be no ice fishing during this year’s Winterfest in La Porte.

 

The popular Ice Fishing Derby was set for January 28, but cancelled due to no ice on the lakes from the unseasonable weather the past several weeks.

 

Winterfest begins January 27.

 

The events over three days include a coed softball tourney at Lions Field, a professional ice sculpting demonstration at Plaza 618 and a bicycle ride that begins at Cummings Lodge.

 

The final Winterfest events on January 29 include ice skating at the downtown refrigerated rink on Monroe St. just north of Lincolnway and horse drawn wagon rides through Soldiers Memorial Park.  

 

Call the park department at 326-9600 for a list of all the events or go to www.laporteparkandrec.com

Loud Exhaust Results in Drug Bust

(Kingsford Heights, IN) - A loud muffler caught the attention of police, who arrested the driver for allegedly having a variety of drugs in Kingsford Heights. Matthew Rancatore, 34, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court.

 

Nearly two weeks ago, an officer hearing the loud exhaust began following him and discovered the license plate was registered to another vehicle.

 

Police kept following the car, which stopped for a short time at four homes on Exeter Road before pulling up to the nearby residence of a suspected drug user on Fairmount Road.

 

A syringe containing liquid fentanyl along with bags containing a small amount of methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana were allegedly located in the vehicle.

 

According to court documents, the La Porte man claimed he just purchased the vehicle, which also had no insurance.

Prison Fire Death Under Investigation

(Michigan City, IN) - Authorities are investigating an inmate at Indiana State Prison being found dead in a weekend fire.

 

Reports indicate 48-year-old Michael Smith died in a fire in his cell on Saturday. Two other individuals were treated at nearby hospitals and released. Whether the survivors were inmates or workers at the prison was not disclosed.

 

So far, no light has been shed on what caused the prison cell fire.

 

Smith was serving time for a voluntary manslaughter conviction out

of Newton County in 2013.

Johnson Road Reopens After Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - A stretch of Johnson Road near Michigan City has reopened after a car broke a NIPSCO pole yesterday afternoon.

 

A high voltage power line wound up on the car, which came to rest upside down.

 

Johnson Road was closed from Pahs Road to U.S. 20 to allow for the repairs. According to NIPSCO, power was knocked out to about 20 customers in that area.

 

Power has since been restored.

 

So far, no word yet on any injuries in the crash.

Thief Strikes La Porte Area Neighborhood

(La Porte County, IN) - Various items were reported stolen from two vehicles outside homes in the same neighborhood outside La Porte. La Porte County Police were called Saturday morning to Sunrise Boulevard and Bordeaux Drive near Crichfield Elementary School.

 

A purse along with a Bluetooth and other electronic equipment and $5 were taken from a sport utility vehicle. More than $1,000 in power tools like a circular saw, nailing gun and leaf blower along with batteries were taken from a pick-up truck outside the other residence.

 

So far, no suspects have been reported in the thefts which likely occurred during the night.

Crowded Field in Race for Mayor

(Michigan City, IN) - There’s no shortage of Democrats seeking the party’s nomination for mayor in Michigan City.

 

Angie Nelson Deuitch and Michael Mack, who are both members of the city council, have entered the race along with La Porte County County Mark Yagelski and former city councilman Johnny Stimley.

 

Former two-term mayor Ron Meer announced Monday he’s seeking reelection.

 

So far, incumbent Duane Parry is the only Republican candidate for mayor. 

 

Candidate filings opened on January 4 and close at 12 p.m. on February 3.  The winner from each party in the May primary will face each other in the November general election.

Johnson Road Closed by Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - A stretch of Johnson Road near Michigan City is completely closed because of a car striking a utility pole this afternoon. 

 

La Porte County Highway Department Superintendent Al Stevens said no traffic is being allowed on Johnson Road from Pahs Road to U.S. 20.

 

Coolspring Township and other emergency responders were called about 2:30 p.m. on a report of a high voltage power line possibly on the car, which landed upside down beside the pavement after striking the NIPSCO pole.

 

The pole was broken from the impact of the vehicle.

 

NIPSCO was also called to the scene to address any safety issues posed by the fallen power line and start the process for making the repairs. So far, no word has been provided on any injuries in the crash, which remains under investigation.

 

Stevens said it appears Johnson Road might be closed until late tonight or early in the morning judging from what reported by NIPSCO on the upcoming repairs. The broken pole is within a few feet of the pavement.

 

NIPSCO reports nearly 20 customers were without power as a result of the accident.

Gun Fired During Act of Road Rage

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police are investigating an act of rage involving the firing of a gun Friday night in Johnson Township in the southeast portion of the county.

 

Police said a truck driver slowed down to allow a vehicle with blinding lights behind him to pass. Initially, the suspect stayed behind the truck but passed and while doing so gave the semi driver the finger after the rig slowed down further. The suspect with both vehicles again at normal highway speeds then started hitting his brakes repeatedly with the semi still behind him.

 

At one point, both drivers stepped out of their vehicles and while confronting each other, the driver of the passenger vehicle pulled out a gun and fired it. Fortunately, the gun was not aimed at the truck driver.

 

The suspect fled in what was described as a red Dodge pick-up truck.  Authorities noted the incident happened in the area of Indiana 104 and 700 South.

Dermody to Announce Reelection Bid

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody is going to seek a second term. He’s scheduled to make his announcement during a pre-election rally planned later this week.  There will be food and beverages during the event.  The public is invited.

 

Dermody said he wants to further the progress his administration has brought to the city in partnership with the citizens. 

 

“Four years ago, we started this journey stating we believe in the best La Porte possible.  We’ve made strides but we want to continue what we’ve begun,” he said.

 

Dermody, a Republican, was a state representative for 10 years before elected mayor.  There’s been a lot of speculation the past few years that he might seek a higher office.

 

However, Dermody said he’s where he wants to be.

 

“This is my hometown and I want to bloom where I was planted.  I owe La Porte to continue to work extremely hard and, again, make the best La Porte possible,” he said.

 

Dermody also served multiple terms on the La Porte School Board prior to becoming a state representative and later mayor.

 

The rally free to attend is scheduled Thursday at the Silver Palace at 1719 State Street from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  Anyone wanting to attend is asked to RSVP DERMODYFORLAPORTE@GMAIL.COM.

Meer Announces Bid for Mayor

(Michigan City, IN) - Former Michigan City Mayor Ron Meer is running for his old seat.

 

Meer announced Monday he’s running as a Democrat for the party’s nomination in the May primary.

 

The lifelong Michigan City resident said he’s concerned about the “dangerous direction” in which the city is trending in areas like crime and economic development.

 

Meer said crime went down every year in his second and final term.  He also cited over $1 billion in public and private investment in the city while he was in office.

 

“It’s time for improvement and get back to the progress we had,” he said.

 

Meer described the state of the city under the current administration as “pretty stagnant.” He also said high rise hotel rooms and apartments expected to start going up soon on the north end actually sprung from the work of his administration.

 

“I have a legacy of getting things accomplished when no one else could because I believe in collaborating with others to get the job done. If the residents want someone who is on their side then I am that person,” he said.

 

Meer also said a lot of dilapidated sites were demolished when he was Mayor.

 

"There's not been any demolition in Michigan City for the last three years," he said. 

 

Meer was Mayor from 2012 through 2019 and lost to current Mayor Duane Parry in the November general election by less than 100 votes.  Parry, the city’s first Republican Mayor in roughly half a century, recently announced his bid for a second term.

Bill Would Raise Age of Consent to 18

(Indianapolis, IN) - A local lawmaker wants to raise the age of consent to 18.

 

Currently, the legal age in Indiana for a child to consent to sex is 16.

 

State Senator Mike Bohacek of Michiana Shores has presented a bill that raises the age of consent to 18 and make it a crime for anyone 22 and over to have sex, fondle or intimately touch with an individual under 18.

 

Bohacek said one of the purposes of the proposal is to provide consistency in the law books.

 

Right now, he said the age of consent in the state is 16 but it’s also against law the Indiana to take intimate photographs and video images of children who are 16, “meaning it is ok to be in a relationship with this.   That’s a contradiction,” he said.

 

The bill must be approved by the Senate and House before it can be considered by the Governor.  Bohacek said he expects little push back on the measure from the legislature, which is now in session until the end of April.

New Year to Bring More Sewer Separation

(La Porte, IN) - Another major project aimed at improving drainage in La Porte should get underway in the spring. Combined sewers will be separated on I Street from 10th to 18th Streets.  New pavement will also be laid once the work beneath the ground is finished.

 

Mayor Tom Dermody said it’s the latest in a long list of projects that need to be done in the coming years to upgrade the city’s aging infrastructure.

 

“Monroe Manor was done just like we stated and now we’re headed to the letter and number streets,” he said.

 

Dermody said bids for the project still have to go out but a contract for doing the work should be awarded by the end of April.

 

A study found updating all of the infrastructure in the city would cost $100 million if done all at once.  An increase in sewer rates is generating the money being used to pay the cost of the work being done in stages long term.

Police Capture in Manhunt

(La Porte County, IN) - It took a while, but La Porte County Police captured a man during a Friday afternoon chase turned manhunt.

 

According to police, the vehicle, after a crash about 3 p.m. in rural Springfield Township, was pursued at high speeds. The vehicle chase ended when the driver stopped in the area of 525 West and 500 North near the South Shore Railroad freight line tracks.

 

One person was taken into custody but the other individual fled on foot. The person being sought was described as possibly a white male, wearing blue jeans and a black “puffy” coat.

 

Police formed a perimeter in the area close in on the suspect and called for a drone to try and spot the individual from the air.  A K-9 dog was also brought out to assist in the search.

 

About 30 minutes later, officers were following possible foot prints toward a wooded area then about a half hour after that made the apprehension at 4:10 p.m.

 

So far, authorities have not released the name of the suspect and other details.

Impaired at Twice the Speed Limit

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police say a man traveling well over 100 miles per hour over the weekend was impaired.

 

Initially, police said the "incredibly high rate of speed" by westbound driver caught the attention of Deputy Austin Wells on the Indiana Toll Road near Rolling Prairie early Sunday.

 

Wells, who was positioned in the median, went after the driver and, eventually, calculated his speed at 125 miles per hour.

 

During a traffic stop outside La Porte, police said an odor of alcohol from the suspect was detected.

 

Johnathan Lesure, 25, of Chicago was taken into custody for Class A Misdemeanor Operating while Intoxicated, Class C Misdemeanor Felony Reckless Driving and Class B Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana.

 

Lesure was being held in the La Porte County Jail on $1,500 bond.

Slow Start Sinks Slicers

The La Porte Slicer boys' basketball team dug themselves a 15-3 first-quarter hole and fought hard to get back in the game, but could not get over the hump in Friday night’s 51-41 loss to Chesterton.

 

Chesterton, last year’s 4A state runner-up whose only loss came in the state championship game, entered Friday’s game with a 7-4 record this season. Their 4 losses this year have come at the hands of Brownsburg, Fort Wayne Blackhawk, Lawrence Central, and Norwell who have a combined 49-9 record this season. The Trojans return several players from last year’s team.

 

After the rough start, the Slicers went toe to toe with the talented Trojans. RJ Anglin, who was named the Salisbury and Spence player of the game, came off the bench and scored 8 of La Porte’s 12 second-quarter points. The halftime score was Chesterton 28 LP 15.

 

Chesterton outscored the Slicers 10-9 in the third quarter to lead 38-24 heading into the fourth period.

The Slicers came out pressing in the fourth quarter. Malik Corley scored all 8 of his points in the final period helping the Slicers cut the Trojan lead to 6 with 3:30 left in the game. Chesterton broke the Slicer pressure with great passing for two Justin Sims layups to move the lead back to 10. With 1:50 remaining and La Porte trailing by 8 Tyler Parrish hit a tough corner three-pointer giving the Trojans an insurmountable 11-point lead.

 

Anglin and Corley led the Slicers with 8 points each. Ja’Meriyon Cross chipped in 7, Tommy Samuelson and Rylan Kieszkowski 6 each. Dylan Salisbury and Kyle Kirkham both hit three-pointers. Chesterton’s Parrish led all scorers with 18 points with Sims adding 13.

LP falls to 9-5 on the year and they are 0-2 in the Duneland Conference.

 

Slicer gym was alive with an estimated 3000 people in attendance. The Purdue University pep band joined the LPHS pep band. Purdue’s Golden Girl and Girl in Black baton twirlers plus the Slicer Dance Team performed at half-time. The LPHS mixed choir sang the national anthem.

SLICER JV TEAM PULLS AWAY IN THE 4 TH QUARTER FOR A 44-34 WIN

Matt Miller’s junior varsity team played their best game of the year outscoring Chesterton 19-9 in the final quarter on their way to an impressive 44-34 win.

Eli Taylor scored 18 points to lead the way, while Javelle Broome and Vann Warner both had 10. The JV team record improved to 7-6 on the year, they are 1-1 in the DAC.

The varsity travels to Michigan City next Friday night to play a boys/girls doubleheader. The girls' game will start at 5:30 with the boys' game scheduled at 7:00. WCOE 96.7 will broadcast the boys' game.

 

Photos courtesy of Susan Anglin.

 

Mason Leaving Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City's football program is looking for a new head coach. Phil Mason is leaving after six seasons.

 

Mason turned the Wolves’ football program around, claiming three 5A Regional Championships. His 45 wins is the most for any Wolves coach since consolidation and 4th among all City football coaches.

 

On Thursday he was approved as the next head football coach at Griffith High School.

Griffith, a 3A school, is a little smaller, but closer to Mason’s family.

Kora Running for Michigan City Council

(Michigan City, IN) - Recent County Commissioner and local Democratic Party Chair Dr. Vidya Kora is running for Michigan City Council. Kora announced his intentions on Wednesday.

 

In a statement, Kora indicated that he hopes to translate success as a County Commissioner into progress for Michigan City. Kora pointed to economic developments such as the Kingsbury Industrial Park and the areas along US 39 North and I-94/US 421. He also noted his leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Kora's public service spans two decades. He has served on the Michigan City School Board and the Unity Foundation Board of Directors. He is also a former president of the Indiana State Medical Association and two-term La Porte County Cororner. Kora, who is a physician with Franciscan Alliance, lives with his wife Sudha in Michigan City.

Bomb Threat at Valparaiso HS Defused Without Incident

(Valparaiso, IN) - A bomb threat at Valparaiso High School this week sent students home early, but was found to be a hoax.

 

On Monday Valparaiso Police say they received a threat specifying a location where an explosive device had been placed in the school. Following a lockdown, students were sent home at around 10:45 a.m.

 

However, after a search by police and firefighters, no danger was found. Police continue to investigate the threat. If you have information regarding this incident or the subjects involved, please contact Detective Sgt. Mark LaMotte at 219-462-2135. Information can also be texted to TIP411 (847-411) and enter “Valpo” in the message field prior to sending the message. Please use the word “VHS” in the first line of your tip to identify which case you are providing information on.

Chase Leads to Manhunt

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police were actively involved in a chase from motor vehicle to foot this afternoon.

 

Apparently, a vehicle was pursued at high speeds before it stopped in the area of 525 West and 500 North near the South Shore Railroad freight line tracks.

 

Police said one person was taken into custody but the other individual fled on foot. The person being sought was described as possibly a white male wearing a black “puffy” coat, police said.

 

About 3 p.m., police were preparing to form a perimeter to try and close in on the suspect and called for a drone to try and spot the suspect from the air. A K-9 dog was also requested.

 

About 30 minutes later, police were following possible foot prints toward a wooded area. 

 

So far, we do not know what triggered the pursuit.

Trojans a Test Tonight for Slicers

(La Porte, IN) - A high school basketball game in La Porte tonight could be a good one. The Slicers take on Chesterton.

 

La Porte, with a program many people believe is on the rise, sits at 9-4 on the season.

 

Chesterton, which defeated Merrillville by 20 polnts last week, is 7-4 but their losses were against tough teams from downstate.  The Trojans were also the runner-up in last year’s Class 4A state championship game and have several returning players.

 

Tonight’s game scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. will be broadcast live on 96.7 The Eagle.

 

Chip Jones, our very own “Voice of the “Slicers,” said La Porte has a chance but needs to shoot well and do things such as limit turnovers to defeat the Trojans. He also said it doesn’t hurt for the game to be at home.  

 

“It’s going to be a tall challenge but it should be interesting,” he said.

Salvation Army Close to Holiday Goal

(Michigan City, IN) - The Salvation Army of Michigan City has nearly reached its 2022 holiday fund raising goal.

 

90-percent of the $220,000 goal has been raised through the red kettles placed out in the community until Christmas along with online and mail-in donations and sponsorship revenue. Major Rebecca Simmons said the funds raised during the holidays help serve local families during the season and throughout the year.

 

According to the Salvation Army, over 650 families this year received holiday assistance with food and toys. About 450 meals were distributed on Thanksgiving Day. 

 

The giving during the season also helps after the holidays with things like the food pantry, diaper bank, utility assistance and youth summer camp, officials said.

 

“All of the money raised through our Christmas Campaign stays here in Michigan City to meet the needs of people who are struggling with basic needs,” Simmons said. 

 

Simmons also gave thanks to bell ringers beside the kettles and other individuals who helped with the holiday fund raising.

 

“With the support of our community, we are able to help Michigan City families in their darkest hours, and help to restore hope that God, and their community loves them,” she said.

Meth Seized After Bicycle Chase

(La Porte, IN) - A man who fled from police on a bicycle was allegedly found with a large amount of methamphetamine. Larry Phillips, Jr., 51, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court.

 

According to court documents, a police officer on January 5 saw Phillips riding a bicycle on Ridge Street in La Porte near the Civic Auditorium.  Police said the officer knew Phillips had warrants out for his arrest and ordered him to stop.

 

Phillips, though, began peddling faster, making it home before running inside and shutting the door. The officer kicked open the dooir and went inside, where Phillips, who has Cerebral Palsy, was taken to the floor as he began having a seizure, per the authorities.

 

He was found with methamphetamine in one of his pockets before taken out on a stretcher, before more methamphetamine was found in a second pocket at the hospital. The drugs seized from both locations together weighed 5.4 grams.

 

Per testimony, Phillips revealed he was going to have a party that night at his house in the 300 block of Jefferson Avenue and hand out the drugs to his friends.

 

The arrest warrants and current charges are related to his alleged sale and possession of methamphetamine, per the police.  He is being held in the La Porte County Jail on separate bonds of $50,000 and $25,000.

Police Reaching Out to Drivers

(Lowell, IN) - Drivers are being reminded to give police officers pulled to the side of the road plenty of space.

 

The reminder is from Indiana State Police at the Lowell Post, which revealed 12 troopers were struck by vehicles last year.   The troopers were either inside or standing outside their vehicles when hit.

 

Police said eight of the passing motorists were impaired by alcohol or drugs.

 

According to state police, troopers arrested just over 500 drivers last year for being impaired or 18 less than the previous year.

 

"In 2023, you will see a renewed focus by the Indiana State Police Lowell Post in combatting impaired Driving. ISP will also be including local police and sheriff departments in our organized blitzes for OWI enforcement," ISP said.

Mayor Seeking Reelection

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City mayor Duane Parry is running for a second term.

 

In his announcement, Parry said he tightened the purse strings when he first took office and a $3 million dollar deficit from the previous administration is now gone.

 

Parry also vowed to keep focus on mainly quality of life along with areas such as public safety, neighborhoods, jobs, housing and economic development.

 

He said the job is not done.

 

As a project manager in the private sector for much of his career, he said
project managers see jobs from start through completion.

 

Parry, a former member of the Michigan City Common Council, is running for the Republican nomination for mayor in the May primary.

More Details in Latest Intruder Allegations

(La Porte County, IN) - A former longtime public official and firefighter from LaPorte County is charged again with going inside the home of a woman and rummaging through her belongings without permission.  John Sullivan, 62, of Wanatah was arrested Wednesday.

 

He was charged Thursday in LaPorte Circuit Court with Level 6 Felony Residential Entry and Class B Misdemeanor Malicious Mischief once Judge Tom Alevizos ruled the evidence was sufficient enough for Sullivan to answer to the allegations.

 

Sullivan was later released from the La Porte County Jail after posting $755 bond.


According to court documents, officers at about 11:30 a.m. responded to a home in Noble Township after a 38-year-woman reported Sullivan was actively engaged in lewd conduct inside her bedroom. She spotted Sullivan on her cell phone screen after receiving an alert from her home security system.  One of her security cameras was in her bedroom, police said.

           

Upon arrival, police said responding officers spotted a gray Honda Civic operated by Sullivan backing out of the driveway of the residence.  He was stopped and taken into custody.

 

The woman knew Sullivan because he used to be friends with her late father, noting that Sullivan had been coming over to her house recently to check her furnace and do other handyman tasks, but she had not given him permission to go freely inside. She also told investigators the security system was just recently installed because of finding things inside her home out of place and having a feeling she was being watched, court records disclosed.

 

The video recorded of Sullivan includes the images of underwear and various other garments belonging to the victim.

 

Sullivan was a former two-term La Porte County Coroner before elected to the La Porte County Council.   He resigned from the council during his first term after charged with Level 6 Felony Residential Entry. In that case, police said he went inside the home of a 40-year old woman in May of 2017 and rummaged through some of her belongings. That home was across from the Cass-Clinton Township Fire Department where Sullivan at the time was a volunteer firefighter.   At the time, he was also employed full time as a firefighter in LaPorte and drove a school bus for the South Central School Corporation.

 

In 2018, Sullivan under a guilty plea was sentenced to one-year in the La Porte County Community Corrections GPS monitoring program. He was also ordered to undergo a mental evaluation and pay for any recommended treatment.

 

The residential entry conviction was later reduced to a misdemeanor after Sullivan completed serving his sentence without violations, court records disclosed.

 

After his first arrest, Sullivan told police he went inside two other homes when nobody was there without permission over the past 20 years.

K-9 Captures Man in Chase from 7 Eleven

(La Porte, IN) - A man could not outrun a police dog in a chase that began early Thursday morning outside the new 7 Eleven in La Porte.

 

Just before 3 a.m., a La Porte County Police officer walked into the store and recognized Jesse Maupin because of his previous encounters with law enforcement.

 

During a computer search, the officer learned the man at the register had a felony warrant out for his arrest on a charge of failure to return to lawful detention.

 

The officer approached Maupin outside the building to take him into custody on the warrant but the man following a short confrontation began running down Rockwood St.  The foot chase ended when the officer pushed a button on his vest to release a K-9 dog from his police vehicle still parked outside the store. 

Maupin, 30, kept running despite warned about the dog, "Simba" who caught up to the suspect and bit him twice.

 

The dog held Maupin until the officer caught up to them on foot.

 

Police said a plastic bag of suspected methamphetamine was found beside Maupin while he was on the ground.

 

Maupin of Michigan City was taken to Northwest Health for treatment of a dog bite.

Bill Aimed at Protecting Children from Abuse

(Indianapolis, IN) - The death of a four-year old La Porte County boy from child abuse is the incentive for legislation filed downstate.

 

State Senator Mike Bohacek (R-Michiana Shores) has filed the bill.

Senate Bill 26 would allow caregivers of children in need of services the right to free legal counsel in court cases.

 

The attorney would be paid out of the Public Defense Fund.

 

Bohacek said this would allow the caretaker to be heard and represented in court even if they cannot afford their own legal representation.

 

This bill is in response to a law passed last year.

 

The new law gives a caretaker authority to intervene as a concerned party in a court proceeding over a child-parent relationship.

 

"SB 26 is the continuation of my work to prevent tragedies like that of Judah Morgan. That never should have happened, and I am doing what I can to help protect children like Judah who need help," Bohacek said.

 

Morgan, was found dead after suffering severe injuries from blunt force trauma in the home of his birth parents in October of 2021.

 

He was previously in the care of his foster mother and second cousin, Jenna Hullett, before custody was ordered returned to his biological natural parents.

 

Hullett concerned about the boy’s well-being tried speaking against the placement of Judah back with them.

 

She felt her warnings were being ignored.

 

Bohacek said he crafted the legislation after learning about the difficulties of Hullett in trying to maintain custody of the boy.

 

“I hope to be able to help some of these family caregivers provide for the children they love.  These caregivers genuinely want what's best for the children and deserve to have a right to representation in court, even if they can't afford their own representation," he said.

 

Alan Morgan, 29, was given a 70-year prison sentence in November for the death of his son.

 

His mother, Mary Yoder, is charged for knowing about the abuse but failing to report it to the proper authorities.

 

The case against her remains undecided.

 

 

 

 

More Details on Civic Renovations Planned

(La Porte, IN) - About a $6 million renovation is planned at the Civic Auditorium in La Porte to make things more comfortable for people attending the growing number of events at the historic venue.

The upgrades include replacing the original wooden seats in the structure built in 1929.

 

Aisles between the seating areas will be widened and hand rails added to improve safety while climbing up and down the stairs to and from the seats.

 

Air conditioning will also be installed to allow for more events during the summer when the temperature inside the gymnasium and formal stage on the main level can become rather sweltering.  A new heating system will also be installed to replace one of the boilers from the 1960’s.

 

Civic Auditorium Brett Binversie said the work is scheduled to begin on June 11 and finish August 25.

“We’re trying to make the experience a little better for everyone,” he said.

 

There are more than 1,000 seats above the gymnasium floor and formal stage.

 

Over the years, the facility has been used for a wide variety of events ranging from musical concerts and shows by major, regional and local performers to circuses, basketball games and the annual Veterans’ Day ceremony.

 

After taking office in 2020, Mayor Tom Dermody feeling the facility was used too sparingly sought to bring in more events drawing good sized paying crowds.  He wanted to make the city-owned facility more self-sustaining and provide additional entertainment options.

 

The outcome has included several concerts by classic rock tribute bands last year and twice hosting nationally televised basketball tournaments featuring some of the most talented players in the country. More classic rock tribute band concerts are scheduled to perform in the coming weeks and months.

 

Dermody believes the original seats being narrow and without cushioning along with lack of air conditioning hurt the facility’s ability to reach its full potential.  The already chosen new seats are wider, cushioned and have cup holders to place drinks ordered from the concession stand

 

“It’s called progress and now it’s time,” he said.

 

Handicapped seating will also be created.

 

”It’s a win, win for everybody and we can’t wait for this to occur,” Binversie said.

 

The building already with air conditioned space in the basement for banquets, meetings and other functions was donated to the city in 1930 by Maurice Fox.

 

He was the son of Samuel Fox, owner of Fox Woolen Mills and major employer for decades beginning in the late 1800’s, according to history.  As a tribute to his parents, the younger Fox had the building constructed to reflect his vision of a facility for use by the general public.

 

He donated the structure to the city in 1930.  

 

To preserve some of the history, Binversie said an attempt will be made to repurpose some of the original seats and use the same color schemes currently inside the gymnasium during the renovation.

 

Funding for the work will come primarily out of the $11 million in COVID-19 relief money the city received from the federal government.

 

“We’ve invested so now let’s see the return and bring even bigger names people can expect to see right here in LaPorte,” Dermody said.

Gamble Backfires at Casino

(Michigan City, IN) - An alleged roll of the dice by a La Porte man for free money turned up snake eyes. He was allegedly found with drugs after trying to pull a fast one at Blue Chip Casino recently.

 

According to police, Brett Pumroy on January 3 tried exchanging a counterfeit $100 bill for a real $100 bill at the casino.  Pumroy said one of the games was not accepting his bill and he wanted one the game would accept. However, a casino cashier was not fooled by the bill described as poor quality and called police.

 

When approached, police said the 36-year old Pumroy explained he received the bill as change for a couch he purchased.  Suspecting he was not telling the truth, police said Pumroy was escorted into an interview room to further the investigation. During a pat down search, a small bag containing a crystal like substance weighing six grams was recovered from one of his pockets.

 

Pumroy is charged with Level 6 Felony Possession of Methamphetamine and Class A Misdemeanor Fraud.

Former Coroner Back in Jail

(La Porte County, IN) - A former public official and firefighter from La Porte County is back in jail. 62-year-old John Sullivan allegedly entered a home without permission and in the bedroom performed a sex act.

 

La Porte County Police said the activity was captured by a home surveillance system at the residence in Noble Township.

 

Sullivan is a former two-term La Porte County Coroner, having been on the La Porte County Council a few years ago when charged with entering a residence without permission. The investigation in that case indicated he went through some belongings left in the home of a woman in the process of relocating. Sullivan was later convicted after pleading guilty and spent some time on probation.

 

Currently, the Wanatah man is charged with residential entry and malicious mischief. He was arrested yesterday morning while backing out of the driveway of the home he entered, police said. 

 

Sullivan is also a former firefighter in La Porte and former Cass-Clinton Township volunteer firefighter.

Surprise Catch for Police

(Michigan City, IN) - A Kingsford Heights woman familiar enough to law enforcement to be recognized is back in jail on heroin related and other counts. Natalie Stowe, 27, was spotted by officers on routine patrol in Michigan City on January 4 in the area of Barker Avenue and Elm Street.

 

According to court documents, they happened to recognized her from their patrol vehicle because of her previous encounters with police. A computer check by the officers quickly revealed Stowe was wanted in Porter County on a charge of Intimidation. When approached, Stowe lied about her identity then gave her real name while being taken into custody on the outstanding warrant, police said.

 

A small amount of heroin was retrieved a short time later following the encounter from one of the pockets in her jacket, which resulted in a Possession of a Controlled Substance charge being leveled against her.

 

Stowe is also facing several undecided drug related charges filed against her last year in Starke County.

Hoosier Great Spotted at La Porte Tourney

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte was the place to be recently for major college basketball coaches including one with deep Hoosier roots.

 

Mike Woodson, the head coach of the men’s basketball team at Indiana University, was here for the recent ESPN televised basketball invitational at the Civic Auditorium.

He was spotted in the stands here on Friday, which was the second day of the event featuring 30 of the top 100 college basketball recruits.

 

The players are with college prep school teams such as La Lumiere outside La Porte and other programs in states like Arizona, Utah and Florida.   

 

Brett Binversie, Director of the Civic Auditorium, said basketball coaches from other colleges also came here on recruiting trips when La Porte hosted the event for the first time last year.

He said Woodson, a former star player for the Hoosiers, tried keeping a low profile but wound up signing autographs for people who recognized him.

 

“It’s kind of hard to hide when you’re in the state of Indiana and you’re the head coach of Indiana, Purdue or Notre Dame.  If you go somewhere, they’re going to know you,” Binversie said.

 

Woodson played at Indiana University from 1977 to 1980 and went on to successful career as a player and coach in the NBA.

Slicers Improve to 9-4 with 66-36 Win over Lowell

The La Porte High School boys basketball team shook off back to back losses to Lake Central with a convincing 30 point win at Lowell on Tuesday night.

 

Coach Jordan Heckard’s game plan was to speed the methodical Red Devils up. The Slicers did just that with a swarming, trapping, full court defense. La Porte scored the game’s first 12 points and held Lowell scoreless until the 3:15 mark of the first quarter. The downside of this hyper aggressive defense was foul trouble for starting guards Ja’Meriyon Cross and Malik Corley who were both whistled for two first quarter fouls and exited the game.

 

Lowell outscored the Slicers 5-2 for the remainder of the quarter and the Slicer lead was cut to 14-5 after one period. The Red Devils drew to within five points of La Porte at 21-16 in the second quarter when Coach Heckard reinserted Cross and Corley. The Slicers immediately went on a second 12-0 run and finished the first half up 36-18. Corley had 10 points at the half, followed by Cross and Kyle Kirkham with 8 each.

 

La Porte outscored the Red Devils 15-11 in the third to lead 51-29 at the break, then doubled Lowell 14-7 in the fourth quarter to make the final 66-36.

Corley finished the game with 17 points and was named the Salisbury and Spence Edward Jones player of the game. Kirkham finished with 12 and Cross 11. Cross’ free throw early in the fourth quarter was the only point scored by the double digit trio after the third quarter. RJ Anglin had 7 points, Rylan Kieszkowski 6, Brennan Balka had 5 with Nic Spence and Dylan Salisbury at 4 each.

Defense was the name of the game as the Slicer forced Lowell into over 20 turnovers with just as many deflections.

 

Lowell was led by Zachary Wunsch with 11 points. The Red Devil fall to 2-10 on the season, the Slicers improved to 9-4. La Porte will host conference foe and 2022 4A state runnerup Chesterton on Friday night at Slicer gym. JV tipoff is 5:30, Varsity at 7:00. The Varsity game, as always, will be broadcast on WCOE 96.7 pre-game at approximately 6:45

 

JV TEAM EVENS RECORD AT 6-6 WITH 46-36 WIN

 

Javelle Broome led Matt Miller’s JV team to a 46-36 win at Lowell with 13 points. La Porte led at each quarter stop. Freshman Sawyer Tonagel had 8 points, Kevin Konieczny and Gage Raymond had 7 each.

 

Vann Warner chipped in 6 while Eli Taylor and Mike Montoya had 2 points each. Jayden Ruiz hit a free throw.

 

Photos courtesy of Susan Anglin

Twice a Fish Record Setter

(Indianapolis, IN) - A Northwest Indiana fisherman twice shattered a state record in the same day. Scott Skafar of Valparaiso caught a 10.2-pound burbot on Lake Michigan in Porter County on December 30th, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

 

His catch beat the previous record set in 1990 by 2.5 pounds. Later in the day, Skafar caught a second burbot weighing nearly two pounds more than the record he just broke.

 

Burbot native to Lake Michigan are unique because they are the only freshwater fish in the cod family. According to the DNR, adult burbot primarily feed on other fish species such as round goby, sculpin, and yellow perch.  Burbot are also referred to as the poor man’s lobster and feature a whisker similar to the whiskers on catfish. all the while typically found on the lake bottom in deep water.

 

The DNR recommends that anglers wishing to target burbot should focus their efforts between November and April when water temperatures are cold enough for them to move close to shore to feed.  Burbot are good to eat, with firm, white flesh and a large liver, similar to cod.

Charges in Police Drug Confrontation

(La Porte, IN) - Charges are filed in connection with a drug related encounter by police in a La Porte neighborhood. Aaron Harrington, 23, was allegedly found with a small amount of methamphetamine and two syringes.

 

Officers late in the afternoon on January 3 were called to the area of A and 11th streets on a report of a man behind a house shouting and hitting himself. According to authorities involved, Harrington, appearing nervous and sweating profusely, kept placing his hands into a bag and the pockets of his coat.  After putting a hand back into his coat pocket, officers unaware as to whether or not he had a weapon commanded him to keep both hands displayed.

 

He allegedly refused. 

 

In response, one of the officers grabbed him by the arm but Harrington pulled away. During a struggle, two other officers joined in and Harrington after taken to the ground was placed in handcuffs. Police said one of the syringes he had appeared to have been freshly used.

 

Harrington is charged with Possession of <ethamphetamine and Possession of a Hypodermic Syringe, both Level 6 Felonies, and Class A Misdemeanor Resisting Law Enforcement.

Pole Struck by Impaired Driver

(Union Mills, IN) - La Porte County Police say a man who crashed into a utility pole Tuesday was impaired. Officers before 1 a.m. were called to County Road 900 South in Union Mills.

 

Police said a utility pole was broken and the driver climbed out of his badly damaged vehicle, before stumbling his way to the nearest residence.

 

William Urban, 65, of Wanatah was wearing slippers, but his choice of footwear apparently had nothing to do with the major problems he had walking. Urban told investigators he struck the utility pole after swerving to avoid a deer in the road.

 

He was arrested for Operating while Intoxicated with an alleged blood alcohol level of .189 percent or more than twice the legal limit.

 

Police said the front end of his Dodge Ram pick-up truck was embedded into the pole.

Jail the Toll from Toll Road Stop

(La Porte County, IN) - Another highway drug bust has been made in La Porte County. A woman from California was found with methamphetamine.

 

According to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, 53 year old Machelle Woodall was stopped Monday on the Indiana Toll Road near Rolling Prairie because her tinted front windows were too dark, before she then improperly switched lanes.  The drugs were allegedly found during a traffic stop with help from a K-9 dog.

 

So far, police have not disclosed how much methamphetamine was located in the vehicle.

 

Over the past couple of years, though, a number of drivers carrying large amounts of marijuana and narcotics from the west coast have been arrested on that same stretch of the Toll Road during special patrols aimed at the war on drugs.  

 

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

Nobody Hurt in Weekend Fire

(Kingsbury, IN) - More details have been released on a house fire Sunday in the Kingsbury area.

 

Kingsbury Fire Chief Mark Ritter said there were no injuries in the blaze and damage seemed confined to the upper level of the multi-story dwelling.

 

He said the cause of the fire was still under investigation.

 

Firefighters responded just before sunrise and continued putting water on the flames until it was extinguished a few hours later.

 

Several fire departments assisted with the blaze.

Driver Lives Up to Racing Stripes

(Westville, IN) - A Westville area man will have to appear before a judge for traveling more than twice the speed limit in a 45 mile per hour zone.

 

Joseph Smolen, II, 24, is charged with reckless driving.

 

According to La Porte County Police, he was clocked at 110 miles per hour Saturday afternoon on U.S. 6 near the Porter County line, which led an officer to conduct a U-turn to try and catch the driver of the 2011 blue Ford Mustang featuring white racing stripes.

 

The eastbound driver stopped for a traffic light at U.S. 421 and traveled northbound until pulling into Prairie Meadow Park in Westville. Smolen admitted later to driving at excessive speeds on the two lane stretch of highway but no explanation was given in the officer’s report of the incident.

 

Smolen was not arrested.  Instead, he was given a summons to appear in court on the reckless driving charge.

 

Police ordered the car hauled away by a tow truck because of the plates being expired.

New Council President Appointed

(La Porte County, IN) - The La Porte County Council has a new president.

 

Mike Rosenbaum was named president when the council met last night for its annual reorganization meeting.  The vote was unanimous and there were no other nominations.

 

He replaced Randy Novak, who has been council president several times during his two terms.   Novak is beginning his third consecutive term.

 

Justin Kiel of LaCrosse was unanimously appointed council vice president.  There were also no other nominations for that position. 

Rosenbaum is beginning his second term on the council while Kiel is starting his first term.

 

Kiel, 26, was on the town council in LaCrosse for the previous eight years and for six of those years served as council president.

 

“I’m really passionate about the work that I’ve been able to do for the town of LaCrosse but I’m also really excited about what the future holds for being involved in the county council,” he said.

 

 

Drugs Move Couple from Home to Jail

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City woman is charged with dealing methamphetamine. Sarah Williams, 47, was being held in the La Porte County Jail on $2,000 bond following her arrest last week.

 

According to court documents, she was caught in October selling a small amount of methamphetamine from her residence at 6th and Spring streets.  The investigation shows Williams also claimed to be selling pressed fentanyl pills.

 

She could face anywhere from a 2-to-12 year sentence on each of three Level 4 Felony counts.

 

Authorities said one of the counts involves Williams carrying out the exchange while holding a small child, something that places a child at risk of having contact with narcotics during a transaction.

 

According to police, Williams was living there with 28-year-old Taige Canciglia.  He’s currently in the county jail on charges of unlawful possession of a syringe and possession of paraphernalia.

 

The investigation shows Canciglia may have helped Williams with the sale of drugs from their residence. 

 

Williams, who used to operate a higher end clothing store in downtown New Buffalo, has a history of arrests for crimes like Possession of Heroin and Theft. Canciglia in turn also has a history of arrests related to drugs and other crimes like Battery, court records disclosed.

Traffic Stop Results in Drug Arrest

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police arrested a suspected user of methamphetamine during a traffic stop.

 

Alexis Thompson, 32, of Plymouth is charged with possession of methamphetamine and marijuana along with possession of paraphernalia.

 

According to police, she was pulled over Saturday for traveling 71 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone on U.S 20 near 200 East.

 

The officer became suspicious because Thompson appeared very nervous and several blow torch lighters commonly used for consuming drugs were spotted in her sport utility vehicle.

 

Per authorities, suspicions were further raised when another officer spotted her tucking what appeared to be a bag of marijuana into her pants. A bag containing 2.4 grams of methamphetamine and a glass pipe with a burnt residue of possibly methamphetamine were recovered from the vehicle. The alleged marijuana was removed from her undergarments while she was being processed into the La Porte County Jail.

 

Police said it appeared Thompson was living out of her vehicle judging by a large amount clothing and other miscellaneous goods inside the SUV.

Courthouse Security Promotions

(La Porte County, IN) - Two members of the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office have been promoted.

 

Mike Raymer and Jon Keene are currently officers within the Courthouse Security Division of the Sheriff’s Office.

 

Raymer was promoted to Sergeant, to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of former courthouse security coordinator Vern Hohnke.  Raymer, a 31 year member of the sheriff’s office, will oversee the daily operations of courthouse security, police said. 

 

Police said Keene first joined the sheriff’s office in 1984 then spent the next seven years with Indiana State Police before returning to the sheriff’s office in 1991.  After a brief stint as a law enforcement officer in Minnesota, Keene returned to the sheriff’s office in 2021.

Police said he will assist with the day to day operations of courthouse security.

 

“Along with a tremendous amount of law enforcement experience, both gentlemen are humble and passionate about the security of the buildings and the safety of county employees,” said Major Pat Cicero.

 

The Courthouse Security Division handles security at the courthouses in La Porte and Michigan City along with the County Complex and County Annex building across from the jail.

Heavy Damage in House Fire

(Kingsbury, IN) - Fire heavily damaged a house in Kingsbury yesterday.

 

La Porte County Police were called about 7:30 a.m. to provide any assistance they could with the fire.

 

Upon arrival, firefighters from Kingsbury observed flames in the darkness and continued to battle the blaze after sunrise.

 

It appears damage was considerable.  

 

Firefighters from La Porte, Pleasant Township, Kingsford Heights and Scipio Township provided assistance.,

 

Repeated attempts to reach the Kingsbury Volunteer Fire Department for additional information were not successful.

Police Seek Third Suspect in Mall Burglary

(Michigan City, IN) - Arrests have been made but one person was still being sought for burglaries at a popular place for shopping in Michigan City.

 

Q’Marion Fisher, 19, of Pendleton, Ind. along with a 17 year old juvenile are charged with breaking into Lighthouse Premium Outlets mall after 11 p.m. on January 4th.

 

According to Michigan City Police, the burglaries happened at Polo Ralph Lauren and Adidas after 11 p.m. on January 4th.  A front glass door was shattered in at least one of the burglaries to gain entry.

 

Police said merchandise was taken from both stores but much, if not, all of the stolen goods were quickly located.  Officers responding to burglar alarms confronted both subjects, who fled on foot but were apprehended, eventually, on the west side of the mall. Stolen merchandise from both stores were found on their possession and in the mall parking lot.

 

Authorities noted a third suspect also fleeing on foot managed to get away.  Anyone with information is asked to contact police, who were still trying to identify that individual.

 

Fisher was being held in the La Porte County Jail on $15,000 bond on charges of Level 5 Felony Burglary, Level 6 Felony Criminal Gang Activity and Class A Misdemeanor Resisting Law Enforcement.  The other suspect arrested was transported to the La Porte County Juvenile Services Center.

 

Another burglary at the mall on January 3 to Finish Line is suspected to be linked to the most recent crimes, per police testimony.

High Caliber Player Tourney Returning

(La Porte, IN) - It appears an ESPN televised basketball tourney featuring some of the best high school players in the nation is coming back to La Porte.

 

Nothing is in writing, but a verbal commitment has been made for the tourney to return to the La Porte Civic Auditorium next year and possibly beyond.

 

Jack Arnett, Executive Director of the La Porte County Convention and Visitors Bureau along with Mayor Tom Dermody, engaged in talks with officials from the National Interscholastic Basketball Conference while they were here recently.  

 

The NIBC held its three day conference invitational at the Civic Auditorium this past Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the second consecutive year.   La Lumiere is among the college prep schools with teams in the conference.

 

Arnett said the NIBC agreed to a one-year deal for 2024 and try to hammer out a contract to bring the tournament here for another five-years.

 

“Couldn’t be a better, a better situation,” he said.

 

NIBC Commissioner Rashid Ghazy said he was very pleased with the attendance and hospitality the past two years La Porte has hosted the tournament.  He said La Porte also brings other positives to the table like the atmosphere of the historic Civic Auditorium.

“La Porte has been amazing.  The crowds this year have been as good or better than last year.  I think a lot of teams not from the Midwest love playing in a historic building that has a very Hoosier like feel,” he said.

 

Dermody at center court presented the ball used in the Saturday night game La Lumiere played in against a team from Long Island, New York.   The Lakers narrowly lost after a thrilling second half 15 point comeback.

 

“It’s a great partnership and we’re excited to see this happen for years to come,” Dermody said.

Man Killed in Weekend Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - The LaPorte County Sheriff's Office is investigating a fatal single vehicle crash that ocurred over the weekend at about 3 a.m. Sunday in the area of 500 East and 650 North near Rolling Prairie. 

 

Police said Dillon Cervi, 30, of Justice, Illinois was pronounced dead at the scene. Justin Cervi, 22, of Riverside, Illinois was taken by ambulance to a regional hospital with undisclosed injuries.

 

Both occupants of the vehicle were from the Chicago area.

 

According to police, the investigation shows a silver 2005 Saab was northbound on 500 East when the car left the roadway then began rolling after returning to the pavement.

 

The car came to rest on its roof facing in the opposite direction, police said.

 

So far, no indications have been given on whether alcohol or drugs were involved in the accident.

 

Investigators were still waiting for the results of a toxicology test. 

Lake Central Overwhelms Slicers in Conference Opener

A barrage of 3-pointers in the middle two quarters and a game-long stifling defense propelled Lake Central to a convincing 67-46 over La Porte Friday night at Lake Central. Lake Central defeated LP 65-48 a week ago in the championship game of the Steiner Homes La Porte Holiday Tournament. This made Friday’s game a rare back-to-back matchup for both teams.

Photo by Susan Anglin

The Slicers jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first minute of the game on a 3-pointer by Kyle Kirkham and a layup by Ja’Meriyon Cross. Lake Central’s defense allow LP only 5 more points in the quarter and led 12-10 after one period. Four different Indians hit 3-pointers in the second quarter as Lake Central outscored La Porte 23-11 to take a 35-21 lead into the half.

 

The halftime break didn’t cool the hot-shooting Indians off. They hit their first three shots, all 3 pointers, for a 9-0 run to start the third quarter and never looked back. Lake Central outscored the Slicers 27-13 in the third and held a 62-34 lead heading into the final period. Substitutes played much of the fourth quarter for both teams with the Slicers outscoring Lake Central 12-5 to make the final 67-46.

 

Lake Central hit twelve 3-pointers in the game and was the stronger and more physical team throughout.

Photo by Susan Anglin

La Porte was led in scoring by Cross with 11, Malik Corley with 10, and Kyle Kirkham, who had 8 points before leaving the game in the second half with a leg injury. Dominic Thomson, who was named the Salisbury and Spence Player of the game, had 6 fourth-quarter points. Dylan Salisbury and RJ Anglin each had 4 points while Tommy Samuelson hit a free throw. Jacob Smith led all scorers with 16 for the Indians while Xavier Williams tossed in 13.

The JV and freshmen teams had no more luck than the varsity. The JV’s fell 52-27 while the freshmen dropped a 41-23 decision.

 

La Porte’s record dropped to 8-4 on the year. Lake Central won their ninth straight game after losing their season opener to South Bend Washington.

 

The Slicers will return to Lake County on Tuesday night when they travel to Lowell. The JV game will tip off at 5:30, and Varsity at 7:00. Pre-game will air around 6:45 on WCOE 96.7.

 

Photos courtesy of Susan Anglin.

Library Makes Overdue Policy Change

(La Porte, IN) - Bookworm procrastinators, rejoice: The La Porte County Public Library is eliminating overdue fines.

 

The new program goes into effect on Monday, January 9. Customers will only be charged for items they damage, lose, or never return.

 

Library administrators say overdue fines and fees account for less than 1% of the library’s revenue.  They say taxpayer dollars will actually be saved by not having to track down and process fees.

 

Studies have shown that overdue fines do not encourage library customers to return borrowed items on time. Rather, unnecessary fees discourage people from using the library at all.

 

The library was closed on Saturday to update the catalogue system. It will reopen Monday. If you are a library fine fugitive, librarians will welcome you back with open arms.

Indiana Minimum Wage Falls Further Behind

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana is getting squeezed by increasing minimum wages in nearby states. 

 

With the New Year, Michigan’s minimum wage has gone up again, to $10.10 an hour. Legislation passed in 2018 calls for a minimum wage in Michigan of over $12 an hour by 2030. Ohio's minimum wage is also $10.10.

 

Illinois’ minimum wage has also gone up. Another year, another dollar for Illinois workers. This week, the new minimum wage went up a buck to $13 an hour. Also, workers under 18 who work fewer than 650 hours a year will earn a minimum wage of $10.50 per hour. This is the fifth increase to the minimum wage since Governor JB Pritzker signed legislation in 2019 that puts Illinois on the path to a $ 15-an-hour minimum wage by 2025.

 

23 states have raised their minimum wage for 2023. Minimum wage in Indiana is still $7.25, which is the federal minimum. Our neighbors to the south, Kentucky, have also held to $7.25.

Police Looking for Driver in New Year's Hit and Run

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police are investigating a hit-and-run that happened New Year’s Eve, leaving a local woman seriously injured.

 

According to reports, Angel Egmer of La Porte was struck by a black Mustang after leaving Barker Pub in Michigan City Sunday night. The car allegedly drove over her a second time before fleeing the scene.

 

The driver was described by witnesses as an African American male.

 

Egmer was taken to Franciscan Hospital and later transported to Indianapolis with serious injuries, including a lacerated liver, fractured jaw, and missing teeth. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help with Egmer’s expenses. According to the post, Egmer's jaw will be wired shut for six weeks, and she will miss work during that time. She can only consume liquids, but cannot use a straw due to the missing teeth.

 

Police are looking for any information from the public related to the event. Contact Oficers Patrick Lewis or Christopher Manns with the Michigan City Police Department.

Two More Promoted at Sheriff's Department

(La Porte County, IN) - Two La Porte County Sheriff’s Deputies have earned promotions.

 

Sergeant Jeff Wright has attained the rank of Captain, and Deputy Gabe Struss has been promoted to Sergeant.

 

The retirement of former Sheriff John Boyd and subsequent administrative appointments prompted the promotions.

 

Captain Wright, a 1994 New Prairie graduate, is a 15-year veteran of the department. He has assumed the role of the Midnight Patrol Shift Commander. He will also continue to handle the field training of any new Merit Division hires.

 

Sergeant Struss, a 2009 La Porte High School grad, is an 8-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department. He is also a current Senior Master Sergeant of the US Air Force Reserves. Upon being promoted, Sergeant Struss was transferred from the Criminal Investigations Division to the Midnight Patrol Shift where he will assist with the supervision of deputies and day-to-day operations of the shift.

Bill Could Put Legislators in Pickle

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indiana State Legislature is expected to have something not so serious to chew on during this year’s session, which begins on Monday.

 

After unveiling his 2023 Next Level Agenda this week, Gov. Eric Holcomb said a bill will be introduced to designate the breaded pork tenderloin as Indiana’s official state sandwich.

“We’re going to settle the question once and for all about what is the official state sandwich of Indiana. I will not let that get away from us,” Holcomb said.

 

Jeanette Merritt with the Indiana Pork Producers Association said the designation will benefit not only Indiana’s pork producers, but the numerous restaurants throughout the state that offer breaded tenderloins.

 

According to USDA, Indiana ranks 5th in the nation for pork production with about 3,000 hog producers. 

Arrest in Restaurant Assaults

(La Porte, IN) - An attack in a downtown La Porte restaurant resulted in an arrest.

 

Marlon Gladney, 29, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Class A misdemeanor battery and other counts such as level 6 felony resisting law enforcement.

 

Police responded Wednesday night to Mucho Mas in the 600 block of Lincolnway. According to court documents, the suspect from La Porte used to work there and showed up wanting free food.  At the time, the restaurant was closed and just a few employees were there finishing up for the night.

 

According to the authorities, Gladney asked a few more times for free food but his requests each time were turned down.  He became upset and began punching one of the male workers and a short time later hit the man with a chair before also punching a female worker trying to stop the physical altercation in the face.

 

Once grabbed by police, Gladney broke away and tried running but was quickly taken back into custody during a struggle, authorities said.  An officer suffered redness, swelling and pain to his right shin during the encounter with the suspect.

 

Gladney is being held in the La Porte County Jail on $755 bond.

Charges in Butcher Knife Scare

(La Porte, IN) - A butcher knife was involved in a case resulting in criminal charges in La Porte. Jimmy Nicely, 40, was being held in the La Porte County Jail without bond.

 

According to police, Nicely was inside a home in the 500 block of Talley Street on New Year’s Day.  A man who checks on him on a regular basis came inside. Nicely, sitting on a couch got up, and went into the kitchen then returned with a butcher knife.

 

Per court documents, Nicely was walking toward him with the knife when the man fearing for his life bolted out of the residence and called police.  Nicely was arrested without incident for criminal recklessness, police said.

 

He’s expected to undergo a mental evaluation as the case proceeds toward possible trial.

 

Nicely could face an up to 30 month prison sentence on the Level 6 Felony charge.

La Porte a Heaven for Basketball Fans

(La Porte, IN) - A full slate of high caliber nationally televised basketball is on tap again for today and Saturday at the Civic Auditorium in La Porte.

 

La Lumiere is among the best high school teams in the nation competing in the NIBC Invitational televised by ESPN.  The Lakers after winning Thursday play again on Saturday at 7 p.m.

 

Civic Auditorium Director Brett Binversie said he expects 1,000 or more people to be in attendance for some of the Friday and Saturday games.  It’s the second year in a row La Porte has hosted the tournament at the historic Civic Auditorium.

 

“We could not be happier.  It’s a great event,” he said.

 

30 of the players in the invitational are ranked among the best college basketball recruits in the nation.

 

“National talent.  All here in our community at the people’s house.  The Civic Auditorium,” said La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody.

 

La Porte County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Jack Arnett said there will be an attempt to make the invitational an annual long term event in the city.  The invitational is here again this year in the second year of a two year contract.

 

“Our goal is while they’re in town to start the discussions,” he said.

 

Arnett could not make any promises because many other communities are vying to host the tournament.

 

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to bring them back,” he said.

Man with Knife Alarms Neighborhood

(La Porte, IN) - People in a La Porte neighborhood are alarmed about a man caught on video holding a large knife outside a home.

 

The recording was made Monday night in the area of Tyler and Harrison streets.

In the video, the man holding a large knife walks up to a house and walks away a few seconds later.   The knife in his right hand looked threatening, obviously, but his actions did not seem violent.

 

It happened at the home of a woman watching TV Monday night when her security camera captured the man.  The woman later reviewed the video and went to the police the next day.

 

La Porte Police Chief Paul Brettin said investigators looked at the footage but were not able to identify the man.  He said no crime was committed but officers were informed to keep an eye out for the person.

“The information was passed on to everybody on patrol to watch for this type of activity,” he said.

 

The woman told police she has never seen the man before.  Brettin said a motive for such unusual behavior was not known.

 

He encouraged anyone who sees a stranger with a knife or some other weapon in front of their residence not to encounter such an individual.

 

“If this happens to yourself, don’t answer the door.  Call 911. I don’t think it’s something you want to open your door and confront.  Let us do that.  That’s what we’re trained for,” he said.

 

The man appears to be white and possibly in his 20’s, with a normal build.

Shelf Ice Warning

(Michigan City, IN) - The public is being urged to stay off the shelf ice on Lake Michigan.

 

Michigan City Mayor Duane Parry is among the officials giving the advice because of the dangers posed by shelf ice, which develops along the shoreline.

 

Parry said shelf ice can provide breathtaking views but it can also be deadly.

 

According to experts, shelf ice is formed from water carried in by waves and often contains air pockets.

 

Shelf ice can look tall and thick but it’s not always solid because of air pockets and can easily break.

 

People don’t always land in water after falling through shelf ice. 

 

However, they can fall deep enough into the ice to make it difficult for searchers to find them.

Drug Bust Halts Fast Food Order

(Michigan City, IN) - A suspected drug dealer was arrested at a McDonald’s restaurant before he could place his order. Bobby Holland, 41, of Michigan City could now face up to 30-years of eating only prison food.

 

He charged with dealing in methamphetamine as a Level 2 Felony.

 

According to court documents, Holland on December 29 was a passenger in a sport utility traveling above the speed limit on Karwick Road.  That drew the attention of a Michigan City Police officer, who began following the vehicle. Police said they were on Carroll Ave. when the officer activated his lights and siren to make a traffic stop.  The driver, though, continued on for another 600 feet until pulling into the drive thru at McDonald's.  When approached. The driver told the officer they were heading from Blue Chip Casino to McDonalds to get some food to take home.

 

After noticing Holland reaching toward the center console, an alleged plastic bag containing just over 10 grams of methamphetamine was recovered, police said. Inside the bag were smaller plastic bags each weighing 1.4 grams.  The equal weight was consistent with how narcotics are typically sold, police said.  Authorities also noted Blue Chip Casino is a common area for drug dealing, according to court documents.

 

Holland, who has drug related convictions and still undecided cases filed against him over the past 18 months, could face anywhere from a 10-to-30 year sentence.

Charges in Gun Involved Road Rage

(La Porte County, IN) - The firing of a gun during an act of road rage locally on Christmas Day has resulted in criminal charges. Brett Kurpiel, 39, bonded out of the La Porte County Jail five days after his arrest.

 

According to court documents, there was a dispute about 9 p.m. between he and a motorist at the Speedway station on U.S. 421 near Michigan City.   Kurpiel from the parking lot allegedly fired two shots into a concrete barrier and bed of the victim’s truck.

 

Further documents showed one of the responding officers was injured while they were attempting to place the Michigan City man into handcuffs.  The officer was bleeding from cuts to his mouth and right hand resulting from some type of physical contact during a struggle with the suspect.

 

Kurpiel is charged with Level 5 Felony Battery with Injury to a Law Enforcement Officer along with Resisting Law Enforcement and Criminal Recklessness, both Level 6 Felonies.

 

He is currentlly out waiting for the case to be decided on $1,500 cash bond.

Arrest in Home Improvement Fraud

(La Porte County, IN) - A local handyman is accused of taking thousands of dollars but not doing the work he was given the money to do.

 

Jeff Gidley, 31, is charged with fraud. According to court documents, the man received more than three thousand dollars in advance to remodel a kitchen on Monroe St. in La Porte. He was also allegedly paid over $18,000 in advance for improvements to a home in Michigan City.  According to court documents, the money was supposed to go for materials needed for the work, which was never done.

 

In both cases, contracts for the work were signed in the fall. Eventually, authorities said the victims went to the police when Gidley kept giving them excuses on why he wasn’t showing up to complete the work and failed to refund the money.

 

He’s the owner of Handyman Services by Jeff.

 

Gidley, who’s from La Porte, could face an up to five year prison sentence on each of the counts combined.

Cross Burning Skeleton Raised at Hiring

(La Porte County, IN) - The La Porte County Highway Department has a new superintendent.

 

Allen Stevens is a former longtime employee of the Indiana Department of Transportation.  He’s also the La Porte County Republican Party Chairman and member of the South Central School Board.

 

Stevens, 49, was named to the position Wednesday by the La Porte County Commissioners during a standard first of the year reorganization.

 

He replaces Duane Werner, who had been the superintendent for about two-years.

 

During the commissioners meeting, La Porte resident Rick Kentaft expressed outrage, citing Stevens’ history of burning a cross.

 

The cross was burned outside the home of a multi-racial family at Union Mills in 1993.  Kentaft said other people have paid a price for racist or shameful actions discovered from their past.

 

“That’s acceptable in this county?,” he said.

 

About two months ago, Stevens in response to a story about the skeleton in his closet described his actions as stupid and claimed that he has since changed.

 

Commissioner Connie Gramarossa said Werner was not reappointed for disciplinary reasons.  She would not reveal what Werner might have done to get himself in trouble since the decision was a personnel matter.

 

Gramarossa said the decision to hire Stevens was based strictly him being viewed as the most qualified given his experience at INDOT with roads and management.

 

“When we are filling these positions, what is important is that we are filling them with individuals that are capable of doing these jobs,” she said.

 

Commissioner Joe Haney said Stevens shouldn’t be “cancelled” for actions that occurred 30-years ago.  He believes Stevens deserves a second chance and has changed based on the way he’s conducted himself over the years.

 

“The individual I know is not like that and hasn’t been.  It was a horrible incident that occurred but we have to believe that people can change,” he said.

 

Sweet and Sour Shoe on Other Foot

(La Porte County, IN) - Sparks appeared to fly between two opposing elected officials following Wednesday’s La Porte County Commissioners meeting.

 

Commissioners Rich Mrozinski and Joe Haney, who are in different political camps, stood face to face within inches of each other.  There was an exchange involving at least one raised voice and some finger pointing.  

 

The encounter was brief yet caught the attention of Commissioner Connie Gramarossa and few other people in the audience until the two men walked away from each other.

 

She and Haney are now in the majority on the three member governing body after Gramarossa took her seat on the commission today for the first time. 

 

Mrozinski was in the majority the past four years until Gramarossa defeated his political ally, Sheila Matias, in the November 8 election.

 

During reorganization, Haney and Gramarossa wasted no time in casting Mrozinski aside.

 

They appointed themselves to almost every liaison position in county government. The crumbs left for Mrozinski was similar to what happened to Haney when he was in the minority on the commission the past two-years.

 

Haney and Gramarossa then replaced the legal counsel Mrozinski supported in each of the past four-years, Shaw Friedman.  Andrew B. Jones from South Bend is now the county attorney.

 

The screws on Mrozinski further tightened when Haney and Gramarossa restricted the number of meetings commissioners can attend electronically and vote to just one a year.

 

A commissioner will not be able to vote after that unless they’re physically present for meetings.

 

Haney and Gramarossa said the action was in response to Mrozinski voting at past meetings he attended repeatedly on ZOOM while living in Florida during the winter. They said a public servant has an obligation to not frequently rely on a screen to participate in meetings and cast votes  

 

“I believe that when everyone gets to a certain age they want to snowbird. That’s wonderful, but as long as you’re an elected official, I believe that is the time when you really dedicate your time to your county and the people that elected you,” Gramarossa said.

 

“People come here in person and they want to see us,” Haney said.

 

Later, a visibly upset Mrozinski called the actions of his colleagues personal.  Mrozinski also said he’s in the commissioners’ office on a daily basis and more than any other commissioner.  He said he also performs duties outside the office for a job officially classified as part-time.

 

“Every day I’m in that office.  I never see them.  I never see them at all.  I’m in there first thing in the morning and I’m in there until at least noon every day and that’s not good enough for them,” he said.

 

Haney and Gramarossa strongly denied his claims.

New County Attorney. Still Turmoil.

(La Porte County, IN) - For now, the selection of a new attorney for La Porte County government has not put a damper on two years of ongoing political turmoil as hoped.

 

Andrew B. Jones was appointed County Attorney Wednesday by a majority of the three member La Porte County Commission during its first meeting of 2023.

 

Jones replaced Shaw Friedman, who was alleged by his political opponents to be the primary source of the tremendous unrest on the commission and elsewhere in county government.

 

The 37-year old Jones lives and owns a legal practice in South Bend.  He openly expressed appreciation for his appointment.

 

“It is my solemn promise to everybody in this room that I will never seek to embarrass anyone, to ridicule anyone, to make anyone feel like a public comment that they have made is something that shouldn’t be taken seriously by this commission,” he said.  

 

Jones also said he looks forward to working with all three commissioners and contributing to a more peaceful environment.

 

“I try to be a no drama, no non-sense type of person. I think we need to lower the temperature in these meetings,” he said.

 

County Attorney is among the positions filled by the commissioners at the beginning of each year.

 

Opposing the appointment was Commissioner Rich Mrozinski, who helped provide majority support of Friedman being named county attorney the past four years. Mrozinski is in the minority now that Connie Gramarossa took her seat beside Commissioner Joe Haney after she defeated Sheila Matias in November.  

 

Mrozinski challenged the appointment because Jones once represented La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz in one of the lawsuits Friedman filed against Stabosz.

 

“To me, this sounds like a conflict of interest,” he said.

 

The lawsuits alleging defamation of character and wrongful non-payment for some of his legal services provided to county government remain undecided.

 

La Porte resident Rick Kentaft said the connection between Jones and Stabosz is nothing more than the “cronyism” Friedman and his supporters were accused and heavily criticized by their political opponents of taking part in.

 

“You’ve done exactly what you complained about before.  I find that very interesting,” he said.

 

Stabosz said he had nothing to do with Jones being hired and the appointment caught him by surprise.

 

“I was in no way involved with the interview or solicitation process involving any attorneys this new commission pursued or considered,” he said.

 

Arrest Made in 2021 Beating

(La Porte County, IN) - A man is accused of beating a woman who had to have surgery to repair her damaged face. Jacob Lang, 27, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with level 3 felony aggravated battery.

 

According to court documents, he and the victim once lived together in Fish Lake. Several months after breaking up, the woman returned to his home to collect her belongings and during an argument was hit in the face.

 

Police said the woman was knocked to the floor by the blow and it took several hours for her to recover enough to drive back home.

 

Her health continued to decline for several days before seeking medical help for what turned out to be multiple fractures to her face.  Despite the surgery, it was noted that the woman was still having blurred vision and numbness to the left side of her face several months later.

 

According to court documents, the incident happened more than a year ago and Lang, when questioned, denied punching the woman.  He spoke further, asserting he believed it was possible that his knee made contact with her face.

 

Lang could face anywhere from a 3 to 16 year sentence.

Charges in Tragic Death of Toddler

(Michigan City, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with the death of a toddler run over by a vehicle in Michigan City. Colleen Hopper, 30, is charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with reckless homicide.

 

In September of 2021, police said Hopper returned to her home in the 300 block of Detroit Street from a grocery store.  Some children, including the 23-month-old victim, helped her carry the groceries inside the residence.

 

According to court documents, Hopper once the groceries were put up returned to her car and while backing up failed to see the victim, Emersyn Woods, behind the vehicle.  A nearby video camera captured her operating the vehicle while using what appeared to be a cell phone when the head of the toddler was run over by the rear driver’s side tire, police said.

 

According to court documents, Hopper told investigators she last saw the girl in the dining room or living room area of the home and thought all of the children were inside the residence before placing the vehicle in reverse.

 

Hopper was being held in the La Porte County Jail on $1,500 bond.  She could face anywhere from a one to six-year sentence on the Level 5 Felony Offense.

New Sheriff Wraps Up First Official Day

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Sheriff Ron Heeg spent his first official day on the job today surrounded by a new administrative team.  Heeg said his administrators have a combined 110 years of law enforcement experience with the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office.

Chief Deputy – Allen W. Ott

Al Ott is a 28-year veteran of the LCSO.  He has been appointed to the position of Chief Deputy, second in command.  He previously held the rank of Captain and served as the Jail Commander for the past five (5) years.  Chief Deputy Ott is a 1990 graduate of La Porte High School and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science and Wellness from Ball State University, where he graduated in 1994.  He is a 1998 graduate of the 133rd session of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.  Chief Deputy Ott serves as the agency’s Firearms Range Master where he oversees all operations of the range and firearms instruction.   

Major – Patrick G. Cicero  

Pat Cicero is a 22-year veteran of the LCSO.  He will continue to serve in the same capacity as previously held, third in command.  Major Cicero is a 1990 graduate of Crown Point High School and holds a Bachelor’s Degree of General Studies in Social and Behavioral Science from Indiana University, where he graduated in 1997.  He is a US Army veteran and graduated from the Indiana University Law Enforcement Academy in 1996.  Major Cicero is an adjunct instructor with the National Forensic Academy at the University of Tennessee where he teaches investigative approaches and the collection of entomological evidence.   

 

Administrative Captain – Derek J. Allen

Derek Allen is a 21-year veteran of the LCSO.  He will continue to serve in the same capacity as held the previous (5) years, fourth in command.  Captain Allen is a 1996 graduate of South Central High School and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology from Ball State University, where he graduated in 2001.  He is a 2002 graduate of the 152nd session of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.  Captain Allen is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, located in Quantico, Virginia, where he was a member of the 274th session.  He will continue to serve as the agency’s Public Information Officer and be the point of contact for all media requests. 

Jail Commander – Andrew D. Hahn

Andrew Hahn is a 17-year veteran of the LCSO.  He has been appointed to serve as the Jail Commander, where he’ll retain his rank of Captain.  He previously held the position of Chief of Detectives.  Captain Hahn is a 2001 graduate of Michigan City High School.  He is a 2008 graduate of the 173rd session of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.  Captain Hahn will remain a member of the agency’s Emergency Response Team.

 

Chief of Detectives – Andrew S. Hynek

Andrew Hynek is a 22-year veteran of the LCSO.  He has been appointed to serve as the Chief of Detectives, where he’ll retain his rank of Captain.  He previously served as the Midnight Patrol Shift Commander.  Captain Hynek is a 1997 graduate of New Prairie High School and hold an Associates Degree in Criminal Justice from Indiana University – South Bend, where he graduated in 2005.  He is US Army veteran and a 2002 graduate of the 150th session of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy.

 

“This Administration has a tremendous amount of experience and world-renowned training.  All five are proven leaders and forward-thinking individuals.  Collectively as a group, we look forward to leading the agency and serving the citizens of La Porte County,” Heeg said.     

Offices Relocating After Flood

(La Porte, IN) - Most employees in the LaPorte County Government Complex are in the process of relocating after the building was heavily damaged in a flood caused by a broken frozen water pipe.

 

The two inch diameter line froze after temperatures plummeted to below zero during a blizzard a few days prior to Christmas, said LaPorte County Commissioner Joe Haney.

 

Haney said the broken line feeding a sprinkler head was discovered Christmas Day during a routine check of the building in downtown LaPorte.  He noted that building checks are ordered during long weekends as a precaution and, in this case, employees did not report for work on Friday because of the hazardous travel and had Monday off since Christmas this time fell on a Sunday.

 

“If it wasn’t for that, we may not have known at least until folks came in which would have been on that Tuesday,” he said.

 

Haney said a lot of drywall from soaking up standing water on floors at each level of the five story structure along with carpeting, light fixtures and ceiling tiles will have to be replaced.

 

Two dozen or more computers and other pieces of equipment also seem damaged beyond repair, he said.  The amount of damage was still being tabulated but Haney roughly estimated it in the “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

 

Fortunately, the County Commissioner assured that the county has insurance to cover the damage and will only have to pay a $25,000 deductible on the policy.

 

Haney said employees from areas like the Health Department and Prosecutor’s Office are relocating to other places inside the complex unaffected by the flooding.  Room has also been found to place them inside the nearby courthouse and across the street at the La Porte County Government Annex building.  Work stations were also being created at the Michigan City courthouse and a former county government office building at 302 West 8th Street in Michigan City.  Other employees are working from home. 

 

Haney said he hopes the repairs can be finished for all of the employees to return in the spring.

 

The LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office on the main level was impacted to a lesser degree by water running down from the upper floors.  Sheriff Ron Heeg said the damage was limited mostly to offices used sparingly by patrol supervisors toward the end of their shifts. Just one member of his administrative staff had to relocate.

 

“A little bit of an inconvenience but nothing we can’t handle,” he said.

 

Heeg said the jail, which has about 350 beds, was not impacted at all by the flooding.

               

Members of the public with business to conduct at the complex are urged to call in advance to find out where the departments and individuals they need to see are located and whether contact should be done with them electronically.

New Year's Eve in Jail for Driver in Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - A man apparently trying to drive back home to La Porte had a bad start to his New Year, having allegedly crashed and wound up spending New Year’s Eve in jail.

 

Francisco Marrufo-Torres, 39, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated. According to La Porte County Police, the investigation indicates he left a bar in Michigan City and was on his way home in La Porte.  He was about halfway home when he struck two telephone junction boxes on Johnson Road near 400 West.

 

He traveled a short distance before coming to rest in a field with parts of his car scattered on the ground. Police said an officer responding to another call before 4 a.m. on December 31 came across evidence of a motor vehicle crash and found him sleeping behind the wheel of his car.

 

According to the authorities, he refused to take a breathalyzer test after showing obvious signs of impairment, including the odor of alcohol on his breath and difficulty walking.  A can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer was also spotted in a cup holder in the vehicle, police said.

 

The charge was upgraded from a misdemeanor to a level 6 felony because of a prior OWI conviction from 2016.

New Buffalo Man Returned to Face Bank Robbery Charges

(La Porte County, IN) - A New Buffalo man previously held in Michigan has been returned to Indiana to face allegations that he held up a bank in Michigan City.

 

Ryan James, 43, was being held Tuesday in the LaPorte County Jail on a $15,000 bond on a Level 5 Felony charge of Robbery.  He appeared for his initial hearing on December 30th in LaPorte Circuit Court where a jury trial was scheduled for December 11. A customary plea of not guilty was entered by the court on behalf of the defendant, who also was appointed a public defender after a judge ruled he was unable to afford private legal counsel.

 

James allegedly robbed First Source Bank in the 3900 block of Franklin Street on December 15th, wearing a surgical-type mask when he slipped a note to a teller demanding money and claiming to have a gun.

 

James fled with about $4,000 in a dark-colored sport utility vehicle later spotted by a Pokagon Tribal Police officer parked outside Judy’s Motel on U.S. 12 just west of the New Buffalo city limits. The motel was placed under surveillance while police and prosecutors gathered evidence to present to a judge for an arrest warrant.

 

During that period of time, James had a pizza delivered to his motel room and paid the tab with the stolen money based on the serial numbers on the bills matching the currency taken from the bank, according to court documents.

 

The arrest warrant was issued about three hours later and James was taken into custody without incident. He was housed in the Berrien County Jail for about two weeks until the process required for transferring an offender to another jurisdiction to face charges was completed.

 

Police said James confessed to the robbery and stated he did not have a gun during the heist.

Alcohol Related New Year's Day Fatality

(La Porte County, IN) - A Michigan teenager is accused of being impaired when causing a deadly motor vehicle crash on New Year’s Day in La Porte County.

 

According to Indiana State Police, 19-year-old Jordan Morrissey was westbound in the far left lane of Interstate 94 at about 12:30 AM.  Police said he was traveling at a high rate of speed in a car when he swerved into the lane beside him, sideswiping a pick-up truck about three miles west of the Michigan state line.  The impact caused the truck to veer off the right side of the road and through a  guardrail before coming to rest down an embankment, police said.

 

Sarah Cantrell, 73, of Lake Station, Indiana was a backseat passenger in the truck. Police said she was unresponsive when taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend, where she died from her injuries. The driver of the truck, Robert Hinkle, 47, of Hobart, along with an unidentified front seat passenger, were treated for injuries described as "life-threatening".

 

According to police, Morrissey had an odor of alcohol on his breath.  There was also alleged evidence of recent drug use inside his 2009 Chevy Cobalt. Morrissey is charged with Level 4 Felony Operating while Intoxicated causing Death; Level 5 Felony Operating while Intoxicated causing serious bodily injury and other counts like Class B Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana and Class C misdemeanor Minor Consumption of Alcoholic Beverage.

 

Morrissey, who lives near Grand Rapids, is being held in the La Porte County Jail on a $20,000 bond.

Museum to Feature Local Yarn Spinners

(La Porte, IN) - Clothing made the old fashioned way is scheduled at the La Porte County Historical Society Museum beginning this month.  The Pioneer Land Spinners will be at the museum on U.S. 35 on the southern edge of the La Porte city limits January 14th from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

The spinning of yarn from natural fibers will also be performed at the museum on February 11th.  

 

“Come learn more about how pioneers made their textiles from these knowledgeable women,” said Savannah Jackson, the museum’s assistant director.


Pioneer Land is the popular 1800’s-like village open during the La Porte County Fair and other times during the year.  The spinners display their skills at Pioneer Land, which consists of more than a dozen buildings like a blacksmith shop, log cabin and one room school house.

ESPN Televised Basketball Tourney Nears

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody says high school hoops fans should gear up for the Region’s biggest sporting event this week,

 

The NIBC La Porte Invitational returns for its second consecutive year beginning Thursday and running through Saturday at the La Porte Civic Auditorium.

 

The three-day, nationally televised basketball invitational will feature 10 of the best high school programs in the nation, including La Lumiere.  La Lumiere School is located in the hills of northern La Porte County.  

 

The teams in the upcoming invitational have 30 of ESPN’s top-ranked college basketball recruits.

 

“These games were a hit last year and for good reason. I can’t think of another event that gives you the opportunity to see young talent of this caliber all in one place,” Dermody said.

 

Dermody said watching such talent at a historic venue like the near century old Civic Auditorium is the “icing on the cake.”

 

“This is how Hoosier basketball was meant to be played. If you missed it last year, we promise you won’t want to miss it this year,” he said.

 

As a bonus, Dermody said a 'battle of the states’ matchup has been added to this year’s schedule. Indiana 4A #3-ranked Indianapolis Cathedral will face off against Illinois 3A #1-ranked Chicago Simeon.

 

The games will once again be broadcast live on ESPN’s various networks, putting the Civic Auditorium and La Porte on the national stage.  A full game schedule and ticketing information is available online at laportecivicauditorium.com.

Good Response to Dumpster Program

(La Porte, IN) - The dumpster program in the city of La Porte is over for the season.  It will resume in the spring.  The dumpsters are made available in the spring, summer and fall for residents to dispose of things like old furniture and mattresses.

 

La Porte Code Enforcement Director Jeff Batchelor said there were 120 dumpster loads disposed of properly in 2022.  He thanked citizens for taking advantage of the program.

 

“It really makes the city look a heck of a lot better when we don’t see the stuff in front of people’s houses,” he said.

 

The dumpsters are in front of the water department on Lake Street and at the street department on 2nd Street when they’re out for use.  Each dumpster, typicallly, weighs 30 tons.

 

Batchelor said there is no charge to use the dumpsters, which will be made available again beginning in the spring for the fourth consecutive year.  He said a $50,000 annual grant from the city’s Urban Enterprise Association makes funding the program possible.

 

"We'll start it up when the weather begins to cooperate again," he said.

 

 

More Deaths on Hoosier Roads in 2022

(Indianapolis, IN) - The number of people killed in motor vehicle crashes was up last year in La Porte County and throughout the state.  Statistics show fatalities statewide went from 899 in 2021 to 945 in 2022. 

 

In La Porte County, there were 22 motor vehicle fatalities in 2022, which was an increase of two road related deaths over the previous year.

 

Fatalities in Porter County rose from 14 in 2021 to 22 last year.

Former Sheriff Recognized for Helping Youth

(Brazil, IN) - Former LaPorte County Sheriff John Boyd has received a high honor.  Boyd is among the first six members of a new Sheriff’s Wall of Fame at the Indiana Sheriff’s Youth Ranch in downstate Brazil.

 

Boyd was honored for his leadership during the planning, purchasing and opening of a not for profit center on 62 acres near Terre Haute.  The Indiana Sheriff’s Youth Ranch is for future law enforcement officers, at-risk children and others including victims of crime.  The facility reached out to over 1,500 youth last year.

 

Boyd, who recently completed his second and final year as sheriff, became a charter member of the youth ranch board in 2016.

 

“Sheriff Boyd’s positive attitude helped keep us making progress when many organizations simply made excuses or gave up entirely,” said ISYR Executive Director Scott Minier.

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