Local News Archives for 2023-06

State Supreme Court Upholds Abortion Ban

(Indianapolis, IN) - Yesterday Indiana’s Supreme Court upheld the state’s abortion ban.


The law passed last summer bans abortions except in three circumstances: when the mother’s life is in danger, when there is a fatal medical issue with the fetus, and in cases of rape or incest. In September an Owen County judge granted an injunction on behalf of the Indiana ACLU and various abortion clinics. They argued that the ban violated the state’s constitution. The state’s high court disagreed.


The opening paragraph of the majority opinion, written by Justice Derek Molter, acknowledged the tedious balance of interests which the court had to consider:


“Abortion is an intractable issue because it brings two irreconcilable interests into conflict: a woman’s interest in ending a pregnancy and the State’s interest in protecting the life that abortion would end. Pregnancy is a highly personal experience that can alter a woman’s life and health in countless ways. For some, a pregnancy may be planned, supported, or generally free of any significant health complications. But for others, a pregnancy may be unplanned, lacking significant support, or induce significant health complications. Given the nuance inherent in each woman’s experience and private life, a woman’s desire to continue or terminate a pregnancy is, likewise, intensely personal. At the same time, our laws have long reflected that Hoosiers, through their elected representatives, may collectively conclude that legal protections inherent in personhood commence before birth, so the State’s broad authority to protect the public’s health, welfare, and safety extends to protecting prenatal life.”


The opinion went on to outline the history of the state’s legal stance on abortion over the years and weighed the facts of this particualr case. Ultimately, the court decided that authority to regulate abortions rests with elected officials. “[The] General Assembly,” four of the five justices agreed, “otherwise retains broad legislative discretion for determining whether and the extent to which to prohibit abortions.”


When the abortion ban can take full effect is still in question. Friday’s ruling cancels the injunction against the ban and returns the matter to the Owen County Circuit Court where the case originated. Also still pending is another lawsuit, which argues the ban violates Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That matter is scheduled for oral argument in the Indiana Court of Appeals in September.


According to the Indiana Department of Health, over 8,400 abortions were documented in Indiana in 2021. The closest abortion clinic in this area, Whole Woman’s Health of South Bend, closed earlier this month.

Medicaid Fraud Investigation Turns Up Two in Michigan City

(Michigan City, IN) - Two La Porte County healthcare workers are facing charges of Medicaid fraud by allegedly stealing controlled substances.


The office of State Attorney General Todd Rokita has announced a total of eight cases of medical fraud statewide involving licensed healthcare professionals. Two of them locally are being assisted by the La Porte County Prosecutor’s Office.


50-year-old Traci Lindfors of Michigan City is accused of withholding, for her own use, medications from residents at the healthcare facility where she worked. She faces 3 Level-6 Felonies.


57-year-old Victoria Lee Bell is accused of stealing medication as a nurse at Life Care in Michigan City. Records show that Bell’s nursing license was suspended in 2018 as an investigation of her suspicious activity was launched. She now faces two Level-6 Felony charges.


Both cases are in La Porte Superior Court 4. They are part of a statewide crackdown on Medicaid fraud.

Out-of-Towners Involved in Michigan City Shooting

(Michigan City, IN) - Three people from Gary have been arrested in connection with a shooting in Michigan City.


The trouble started around 11:00 a.m. Wednesday as shots rang out at Canterbury House Apartments across from Michigan City High School.


According to police, a 21-year-old Merrillville man was shot and fled the scene. He was later found at a local business in Evergreen Plaza on U.S. 20 and taken to the hospital with a non-life-threatening wound.


About an hour later, police located the alleged shooter, 17-year-old Juan Montgomery, in a car with two others. The driver, another 17-year-old, was charged with Assisting a Criminal and Possession of Marijuana. 21-year-old Kyvonn Woods was arrested for a previous warrant and for driving without a license.


Montgomery has been charged with Aggravated Battery, Battery with a Deadly Weapon, and Dangerous Possession of a Firearm. He was immediately waived to adult court due to the severity of the charges.

Recognition for New Prairie State Softball Champs

New Carlisle, IN) - New Prairie’s first-ever state championship team gathered for some public recognition of their achievement earlier this week.


At Monday’s school board meeting, the New Prairie community recognized the girls’ historic run. Afterward, head coach Derek Hicks reflected on the team’s biggest accomplishments.


“Of course, winning the state championship is the biggest memory,” he said. “But I’m just really proud of the team as a whole, and I’m proud of the girls that worked so hard to get 55 home runs, which is an amazing number, in 36 games. One-and-a-half [homers] a game is pretty good—tied for 5th all-time.”


Hicks inherited a New Prairie team six years ago that had problems with clutch hitting. This year, nine different players hit homers. Two of them eclipsed the school record, and one of them, senior Abby Robakowski, beat the state’s home run record.


Robakowski said her best experience this year had more to do with family than with home runs. “Winning State with my sister— Randi and I have such a close connection that, you know, doing it with her just meant that much more to me,” said the Indiana State signee.


“Being able to run and hug her after that last out really was a great moment for me.” For the Robakowskis, softball is a family affair, Abby said. “We’ve had softball in our household from day one. My parents met through slow pitch softball, and softball’s just really big in my family. So Randi and I have just been working on the tee outside together, playing catch for as long as I can remember.”


Abby’s sister Randi will be a junior, returning next year with a number of talented girls, including rising junior pitcher Ava Geyer, who has already garnered attention from major collegiate programs. “We should be a very good team next year, should be in contention for the state championship again,” said Coach Hicks.


“Our strong sophomore class certainly will fill in nicely, so I’m thinking the next two years will be really, really strong.”


Following Monday night’s presentation, the team showed off their three state-level trophies, hosted a meet-and-greet in the high school cafeteria, and finished sizing up their fingers for their forthcoming state championship rings.

Federal Sentence for Former Michigan City Felon

(South Bend, IN) - A former Michigan City man has been sentenced in federal court on firearms charges.


32-year-old Phillip Carter Jr. appeared in South Bend’s U.S. District Court and pled guilty to aiding and abetting the making of false statements to acquire firearms.


According to court documents, in April of 2021, Carter paid someone to purchase up to 24 pistols for him from a licensed gun dealer. Carter was prohibited from owning firearms due to prior felony convictions.


Federal agents were assisted in Carter’s arrest by members of the La Porte County Drug Task Force and Michigan City police.


Carter was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison followed by 2 years of supervised release.

Oil Spill Slows Downtown Traffic Wednesday

(La Porte, IN) - Traffic in downtown La Porte was a little slower than usual Wednesday afternoon, due to a hazardous liquid spill. According to La Porte County Hazmat Director Jeff Hamilton, a truck or a container left a trail of hydraulic oil starting from Tyler Street east along Lincolnway, then north over the US 35 overpass.


The spill was reported sometime around 2:15 Wednesday afternoon. Indiana Department of Transportation crews reduced traffic to one lane at the intersection of Lincolnway and Indiana Avenue.


Hamilton told HTNN the spill was quite slick, and rather than use absorbent sand, INDOT had to call in a special cleanup crew so as not to make matters worse. “They were concerned that the sand was going to cause another accident,” he said,” so they just had a contractor come in and clean it all up.” The contractor came from out of the area, delaying cleanup, which lasted well into the evening.


As of Wednesday night, the vehicle that left the messy trail had not been identified.

State Trooper Killed by Car Near Indy

(Hendricks County, IN) - The Indiana State Police has lost another officer in the line of duty.


33-year-old Trooper Aaron Smith was struck by a fleeing car southwest of Indianapolis Wednesday night.


At about 8:40 p.m. Wednesday, Trooper Smith was helping with the pursuit of a stolen vehicle north of I-70 close to the Indianapolis International Airport. While deploying stop sticks in an attempt to slow the vehicle, Smith was hit and thrown into the air, suffering critical injuries. He died later at a nearby hospital.


Smith, a five-year veteran of the State Police, lived in Franklin, Indiana. He is survived by his wife.


The suspect driving the car, along with an adult and juvenile passenger were all transported to Indianapolis hospitals for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. An investigation into all aspects of the incident is ongoing.


Smith is the second State Trooper to be killed in the line of duty this year. Master Trooper James Bailey was killed in a similar runaway car incident near Ft. Wayne in early March.




On Thursday morning, the Indiana State Police issued the following update regarding the suspects in the fleeing car:


"Eddie P. Jones, Jr., 18 years of age from Sikeston, Missouri, who was driving the stolen 2016 Chevrolet Traverse has been preliminarily charged with Murder, a Level 1 Felony."


"The adult passenger, DeMareon L. Curry, 19 years of age from Sikeston, Missouri has been preliminarily charged with Auto Theft, a Level 5 Felony."


"A 15-year-old female, who was listed as a missing person from Missouri will be turned over to authorities from that state later today.  She is not being charged in connection with this incident."

La Crosse Man Charged with Child Exploitation

(La Crosse, IN) - A La Crosse man has been arrested for soliciting nude images from a minor.


68-year-old Daniel Orr of La Crosse was taken into custody Tuesday, following a yearlong investigation by the Indiana State Police Internet Crimes Against Children task force. According to police, they received information from the Lafayette Police Department involving a minor who was allegedly being paid by a man for nude images.


Orr is now charged with one count of Child Exploitation, a level 5 felony. He is incarcerated at the La Porte County Jail with an initial hearing set for Friday morning.


The followng agencies assisting in the investigation: Indiana State Police Digital Forensic Unit, Indiana State Police Toll Road District, Homeland Security Investigations, LaPorte County Sheriff Office, LaPorte County Prosecutor’s Office, Lafayette Police Department and Tippecanoe High Crimes Unit.

Double Track Development Coming to Life

(Michigan City, IN) - The $80 million mixed-use project planned for downtown Michigan City is coming into focus.


Representatives of developer Flaherty & Collins laid out plans to the Michigan City Common Council.


Dubbed “The Franklin at 11th Street Station,” the project features a 12-story residential building with 220 units, next to about 6,000 square feet for commercial space and a restaurant. A connected 540-space parking garage will have a rooftop garden.


The new Double Track runs in front of the red brick and limestone structure. The old 11th Street Station façade has been preserved and incorporated into the plan. The building's main lobby will feature design elements reminiscent of an old train station.


Developers say the parking garage will go up first, and units could be available about 18 months from this fall.

VA Hiring, but Area Congressman Wants More

(Washington, D.C.) - The Department of Veterans Affairs is on a hiring spree.


The VA has hired over 32,000 people since last October, bringing its total workforce to over 442,000.


Partly, it’s a move to replace almost 20,000 workers who have left the VA. Mostly, however, the push is to expand access to services for veterans, particularly for mental health treatment.


Last year, the VA tallied over 91 million outpatient visits for the 9 million veterans enrolled in its health care system. The reported cost of these services was over $112 billion.


The VA hopes to hire a total of 52,000 new employees to meet demand.


More veterans have been opting for local health care, which is easier to access, but still is billed to the VA.


Last week, 2nd District Congressman Rudy Yakym testified at the House Committee on Veterans Affairs’ Member Day Hearing. “I’ve only been in Congress for a few months, but the large number of veterans in crisis is alarming,” he told them. “I hosted a veteran town hall in early May, and mental health was the most-discussed issue. Veterans said local VA mental healthcare was disorganized, short staffed, and plagued by long wait times.” Yakym was in La Porte last month getting feedback from local veterans.


In a separate letter to the VA of Northern Indiana, Yakym stated, “More than a dozen veterans have contacted my staff to inform me that they are experiencing wait times in excess of two months to obtain an in-person appointment with a mental health professional.” He went on to say that telehealth services are not adequate, especially for veterans struggling with acute mental health issues.

Air Alert Again Wednesday

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Air Quality Alert has been extended through Wednesday.


It’s not just for this area. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has extended the alert across the state, as dust continues to move south from Canadian wildfires.


IDEM predicts another day of unhealthy air quality.


Fine particles include microscopic dust, soot, and liquid that settles deep into the lungs and cannot be easily exhaled. People should limit exposure to such air, especially those with respiratory problems.

La Porte Man Killed in Crash Identified

(Porter County, IN) - A LaPorte man killed in a motorcycle collision over the weekend has been identified.


Mark Lehker, 52, was found unconscious from a major head injury at the scene of the Saturday afternoon crash on U.S. 6 in Porter County’s Jackson Township where, while his motorcycle was slowing down at 400 East, he was rear ended by a car operated by a 17-year-old Portage resident.


Police blamed the accident on the young driver following Lehker too closely, the latter explaining that he tried slowing down in response to the 2014 Harley Davidson reducing its speed, but was unable to avoid striking the motorcycle.


Police said CPR was given to Lehker, who later died. The teenager was given a portable breathalyzer test and tested negative for alcohol consumption.

Police Targeting Impaired Driving

(La Porte County, IN) - While Independence Day will be in the middle of the week this year, police will be on the lookout for impaired drivers throughout the weekend leading up to the holiday.


The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office is taking part in the national Drive Sober or Get ­­Pulled Over enforcement mobilization program to educate motorists about the dangers and consequences of impaired driving.   


From June 30th until July 8th, additional deputies will be on patrol with the primary goal of preventing tragedies previously seen around the July 4th holiday.


The high-visibility enforcement effort is funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and administered through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI).


“The La Porte County Sheriff’s Office has zero tolerance for motorists who choose to operate while intoxicated,” said Captain Derek J. Allen. “Everyone knows the law,  It is illegal to drink and drive.  OWI is selfish and arrogant, and it endangers the drivers, their passengers, and other people on the road,” he said.


About 37 people die in the U.S. in OWI crashes every day. That’s approximately one person every 39 minutes and more than 13,000 annually, according to NHTSA. Of the 949 traffic fatalities that occurred last year in Indiana, 110  or 12 percent, were alcohol-related. 


"Impaired driving is a serious problem that claims the lives of thousands of people each year in our state and nation.  While increased enforcement efforts can help to reduce impaired driving, we cannot simply arrest our way out of this problem,” said Devon McDonald, Executive Director of the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. 


“We need to work together to raise awareness of the dangers of impaired driving and encourage people to make smart choices when they drink.  If you are going to drink, please designate a sober driver or call a taxi.  It is not worth risking your life or the lives of others," he said.


Impaired driving includes more than just alcohol, as authorities noted how drugs and even some over-the-counter medications can also cause impairment and slow coordination, judgment, and reaction times on the road.

Alcohol Suspected in Same Driver Crashes

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police are investigating whether a man, who crashed into a parked vehicle and fled, was impaired.


Late Sunday morning, authorities were called to the Colonial Trailer Park in the area of 600 North and 400 West where a man, inside his residence, heard a crash and discovered his Jeep Wrangler damaged and moved sideways in his driveway. A short time later, officials noted through the investigation that the suspect hit a tree prior to taking off again.


Later, the police were notified by other motorists about a driver acting all over the roadway, before ultimately finding the suspect at Eastside Produce on U.S. 20.  His vehicle jumped the parking block before coming to a stop in front of the business, pieces of wood stuck in his front bumper and other signs of damage to his vehicle visible.


When an officer approached 41-year-old Nathan Walenga, he allegedly had a couple of sips from a cup containing Twisted Tea- a known alcoholic beverage.


Police said charges of leaving the scene of a crash are being pursued in this case.  Whether he was intoxicated or not remains still under investigation.

Vote Centers Leap Another Hurdle

(La Porte County, IN) - The La Porte County Council unanimously voted in favor of switching to vote centers last night.


La Porte County Clerk, Heather Stevens, stated switching from precinct voting would be more convenient, because residents would then be able to vote at any polling location in the county.


Stevens said one of the ideas behind vote centers, which most Indiana counties have gone to, is increasing voter turnout. She added, saying that people returning home from work are often pressed for time to reach the nearest polling location to where they live before it closes.


“This is especially important for working people. This will make it much easier for those people to stop by any vote center to vote on Election Day,” she said.


Stevens noted that money would also be saved from having fewer polls to staff.


Council President Mike Rosenbaum said that voting would also become easier for people who relocate, rather than go to their former polling place to learn that they now have to vote in the precinct where they currently live.


“Then they go running around all over.  Some of them have had to wait in line then find that out,” he said.


Approval is now required from the La Porte County Commissioners for the switch to vote centers to become official.  Stevens said she expects to go before the commissioners sometime in August.

La Porte Man Killed in Motorcycle Crash

(Porter County, IN) - A La Porte man on a motorcycle was killed in a weekend collision this past Saturday.


Police said the 52-year-old man was traveling U.S. 6 on the east side of Porter County at around 4:30 PM, according to police, he was struck in the rear by a car following too closely behind him after slowing down.


The motorcyclist was transported to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.


Authorities have noted that the driver of the car was 17-years-old and did not have any alcohol in his system.


So far, the name of the motorcyclist has not been released. 

Old Hospital Demolition Begins

(La Porte, IN) - The much anticipated demolition of the old La Porte Hospital began Monday after having been replaced nearly three years ago with a new hospital a short distance away.


The work started with skid steers ripping pieces of metal trim and other items from the surface on the main level of the seven story structure, which opened in 1972.


La Porte resident Bill Netzer, who was part of a demolition crew that cleared the former downtown industrial site for the hospital to be constructed, went down memory lane as he watched the beginning of the tear down.


“The reason we got the job was we guaranteed it to be down at ground level for $84,000 in eight weeks,” he said.


The seven acre site housed a former Allis Chalmers machine shop that was no longer operating when the farm machine manufacturing company donated the property to construct the hospital, per Leigh Morris, President and Chief Executive Office of La Porte Hospital from 1978 to 1999.


The community was previously served by the long-established Holy Family Hospital and Community Hospital, which no longer exist, he said. Morris went on, noting that the hospital was a symbol of the community banding together for six years to negotiate a merger of the two hospitals, raising money to help build what was then a state of the art facility.


He said the hospital also represented “a major step forward in terms of health care for the community.”


Until now, all of the demolition work occurred strictly on the inside.


Gary-based Brandenburg Industiral Service Company was hired to tear down the building which should be finished before the end of the year, said Ashley Dickinson, CEO of Northwest Health.


La Porte Hospital, later known as I-U Health, was purchased by Community Health Systems in 2016 before becoming Northwest Health in a rebranding of the private health care provider. Northwest Health also has hospitals near Valparaiso and in Knox.  


Dickinson said the former La Porte Hospital site will be graded and seeded to prepare it for redevelopment at some point. No decisions have been made on what the site will become.


“Our end goal is to develop it with the right partner and, in accordance with the vision of the city,” she said.


La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody said one of his ideas is to turn the space into some type of public gathering area, with events to further downtown revitalization.  He also mentioned new housing and retail as among the other good possibilities for the property.


“There’s a variety of options and I look forward to seeing Northwest Health’s leadership on this and how the city can support it,” he said.            


Dermody also complimented Northwest Health for working with the city in the ongoing process of determine future use of the property.


“We appreciate them including us with some of our ideas.  We’re excited to see for the future what this is going to look like,” he said.


The new $125 million four story Northwest Health hospital opened in the fall of 2020 about a block away at 1331 State Street.


Netzer credited the demolition crew with its work, so far.


“They’re separating the steel from the paint.  They’re professionals,” he said.


Morris said the demolition “marks a time of sadness and reflection” but also a necessary step probably into the future


“Times change.  Things have to change with the times.  I’m very, very sorry to see that building go.  I think it had a lot of assets to it but if it didn’t meet the needs of the people going forward then, perhaps, the best thing to do is to replace it,” he said.

No Fireworks Show on July 4

(La Porte, IN) - There will be no Fourth of July fireworks in La Porte this year.


A few months ago, officials announced the fireworks would return to the fairgrounds this year after moving to Clear Lake in La Porte last year.


However just recently, those in charge explained that things just didn’t come together to make it happen this year, despite a great effort to have a fireworks show.


Regardless, they assured the goal for next year is to properly bring back the fireworks.

Refinery Suspected in Rotten Egg Smell

(La Porte County, IN) - The BP refinery in Whiting is suspected of causing a smell of rotten eggs stretching into St. Joseph County and southwest Michigan Sunday.


LaPorte County HazMat Director Jeff Hamilton, who’s also a volunteer firefighter in Walkerton, said he wasn’t notified about the release of sulfur dioxide from the plant until he and other first responders, along with NIPSCO, responded for hours to complaints about natural gas leaks from utility customers.


Hamilton said a lot of complaints in LaPorte County started being received at roughly 1:30 p.m., slowing down, and then resuming at a higher volume at 8:30 p.m.


He said no gas leaks were found at any of the locations. Hamilton also revealed he didn’t learn about the source of the odor until he contacted the Indiana Department of Environmental Management last night.


IDEM spokesman Barry Sneed noted that an investigator from the agency will be going to the plant today to begin looking into the situation. Otherwise, the spokeman said that he wouldn’t have any information to release until probably this afternoon, when the investigation is expected to begin turning up some findings.


Last night, information about the source of the odor and cause thereof, blaming severe weather, were posted on Facebook by various public safety agencies in both states.


“BP's Whiting refinery experienced an operational disruption that triggered unplanned flaring of gases from their facility. BP Crews have been on site to manage the situation. Community monitoring has been ongoing throughout the day and BP advises they expect the situation to be resolved in the coming hours.  They further advise there is no danger to the community at this time,” per a post from the Porter County Emergency Management Agency.


Firefighters from Galien Township posted they responded to a complaint of a gas leak and didn’t learn until after an extensive investigation about the source, “which is causing the odor to be smelled across southern Berrien County.”


Coolspring Township Assistant Fire Chief Warren Smith said his department responded to eight complaints of gas leaks, which were also made in Michigan City and surrounding areas including Long Beach and Michiana Shores.


“It was a countywide problem,” he said.


Per Hamilton, sulfur dioxide was released from the plant due to problems the refinery was having regarding power outages.


“The power losses caused issues within their plant and they had to go with what is called flaring off, which put their plant in bypass. When the relief device was working it was putting out sulfur dioxide.  That is the smell everyone was smelling across several counties yesterday,” he said.


Hamilton said the rain and humidity making the air heavy kept the gas close to the ground as it was being carried by the winds across the area. Wind direction had a lot to do with the initial complaints in LaPorte County tapering off until resuming several hours later.


“It was just the way the wind was coming off the lake and the weather that was making whether we was getting it or not,” he said.


Hamilton asserted the amount of sulfur dioxide drifting over from the plant was enough to smell, but not enough to cause any health concerns. He said the gas, by the time it reached here, dissipated enough to the point that it wasn’t detected by detection meters. 


Hamilton also noted that there were also complaints about a rotten egg smell in Lake and Starke, counties along with communities such as Knox and Walkerton.


“Those are the ones we know about,” he said.


UPDATE: Police Release Details on Saturday's Fiery Interstate Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - Indiana State Police have confirmed and elaborated on details related to Saturday’s two-car interstate accident in La Porte County that claimed three lives.


The accident happened around 8:37 a.m. on eastbound I-94 two miles east of the Michigan City exit at U.S. 421. Police determined that a white 2023 Kia became disabled in the inside shoulder emergency lane. Its driver, 29-year-old Nirmit Alkesh Patel of Apex, North Carolina, had activated the vehicle’s hazard lights and was awaiting roadside service. A gray 2017 Dodge Journey driven by 41-year-old Jol Ranay Taylor of Muscatine, Iowa left the travel lanes and rear-ended the Kia. The force of the impact sent the Kia into the center lane of the interstate, where it burst into flames.


According to police, Patel was able to force open the driver’s door and escape. Three occupants were trapped inside the Kia and died in the wreckage. They have been identified as 58-year-old Alkesh Patel, 54-year-old Hina Alkesh Patel, and 30-year-old Aditi Nirmit Patel, all from Apex, North Carolina. 


The driver of the Dodge and his two passengers were not injured. Police say they administered chemical tests for intoxication, as is standard procedure and required by law in fatal crashes. The results of those tests are pending analysis by the Indiana Department of Toxicology.


(Original story below)

A fiery car crash resulted in multiple fatalities and a closed interstate in La Porte County Saturday morning.


Reports indicate the accident happened on I-94 between Johnson Road and CR 400 N at about 8:35 a.m.


Indiana State Police responded to the scene, assisted by Michigan City Police. Early reports indicate that a disabled vehicle was parked on the shoulder of the interstate when it was rear-ended by another vehicle. The disabled vehicle burst into flames. Three people trapped inside perished. The driver was reportedly injured, but survived. The extent of the other driver’s injuries is unknown at this time.


All lanes of eastbound I-94 were closed for several hours for cleanup and accident reconstruction.


We’ll provide more details on this breaking story as they become available.  

Early Report on Fatal Interstate Crash in La Porte County

(La Porte County, IN) - A fiery car crash resulted in multiple fatalities and a closed interstate in La Porte County Saturday morning.


According to witness reports, the accident happened on I-94 between Johnson Road and CR 400 N at about 8:35 a.m.


Indiana State Police responded to the scene, assisted by Michigan City Police. An early police report indicated that a disabled vehicle was parked on the shoulder of the interstate when it was rear-ended by another vehicle. The parked vehicle burst into flames. The La Porte County Coroner's Office has confirmed that three people trapped inside perished. The driver was reportedly injured, but survived. The extent of the other driver’s injuries is unknown at this time.


All lanes of eastbound I-94 were closed for several hours for cleanup and accident reconstruction.


We’ll provide more details on this breaking story as they become available.   

Semi Accident Closes Westbound Toll Road

(Elkhart County, IN) - A crash Friday afternoon on the Indiana Toll Road closed westbound lanes and put two people in the hospital.


The accident happened just after 2 p.m. east of the Elkhart exit involving two semis and an SUV. According to State Police, while traffic was slowing due to construction, a semi hit the back of an SUV, then crashed into the flatbed trailer of another semi. Steel coils on the flatbed came loose and smashed into the first semi, trapping the driver in his cab.


The SUV driver was taken to South Bend’s Memorial Hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries. After being extricated, the semi-driver was airlifted to the same hospital. His injuries were later determined to be only minor.

Vote Center Plan Moving Forward

(La Porte, IN) - The LaPorte County Council is expected to consider switching from precinct-based voting to voting centers at its meeting on Monday.


The proposal, unanimously approved by the LaPorte County Election Board on June 16th, also requires approval from both the county council and the county commissioners.


LaPorte County Clerk Heather Stevens said her plan for switching to vote centers would reduce the number of polling locations countywide from 52 to 38. However, she noted that voters from LaPorte County would be able to cast ballots at any location here and not just the precinct in which they reside.  One of the ideas behind voting centers, which are now in place in most Indiana counties, is to increase voter turnout by making it more convenient to cast ballots.


For example, Stevens illustrated, a person running behind schedule polls about to close can go to the nearest voting center to cast a ballot, instead of running the risk of getting to their precinct location on time. She said convenience is important, especially in LaPorte County, which is the largest by square miles in the state.


“I feel it’ll increase turnout by having more convenient locations for a county our size,” she said.


Stevens said another benefit of switching from precinct voting would be saving money from not having to hire as many election workers since there would be fewer polling locations.  


Under her plan, the reduction in polling locations is mostly in Michigan City and LaPorte. The number of polling locations in the unincorporated areas is about the same to avoid people having to drive much longer distances, in some cases, to vote. Stevens said additional polling locations in lightly populated areas could be eliminated in the future, though, if they were drawing just a handful of voters from residents using other locations closer to their workplaces or wherever they happen to be when they wanted to cast a ballot.


“I’m sure we’re going to have to tweak a few things.  That’s fine, but this is definitely a good start,” she said.


LaPorte County Council President Mike Rosenbaum said he fully supports vote centers but is concerned about having enough poll workers to handle a potential increase in voters from switching to fewer, but more convenient locations.


“I caution there should be enough staffing for the increase in potential voters to each site,” he said.


Councilman Mark Yagelski said he’s leaning toward supporting the move primarily because of voter convenience. Yagelski has doubts, though, if voter centers will produce a higher turnout.


“I know everything sounds good.  I hope it works and we get more people to vote but, so far, everything we’ve put in has not,” he said.


Stevens said she plans to seek approval from the county commissioners sometime in August.

Two for One Deal in Fugitive Arrest

(La Porte, IN) - Police officers were in a La Porte neighborhood last night to make an arrest, but ultimately wound up taking two people into custody.


According to police, officers went to 409 D Street, having received a tip that a woman with a warrant out for her arrest was at that location. Upon arrival, police said officers spotted the woman, but a man refused to let officers inside to take her into custody.


Eventually, authorities forced their way in and arrested 24-year old Nicole Williams, who had an active warrant out for her arrest in St. Joseph County for possession of a syringe. 36-year-old Thomas McDonald was also cuffed for assisting a criminal.


McDonald insisted officers have a warrant to go inside his residence, but probable cause to go inside was established when the spotted the woman at the home. Officers forced their way in by removing sliding glass windows from the home that McDonald allegedly refused to unlock.

La Porte in Air Quality Advisory

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has issued an Air Quality Action Day for today in La Porte and surrounding areas.


According to IDEM, the declaration stems from forecasted high ozone levels in the air today.


The Air Quality Action Day has also been called for Michigan City and other communities in Northwest Indiana such as Valparaiso, Portage and Crown

Point. A state map displaying regions and affected counties is available  at SmogWatch.IN.gov.


IDEM encourages everyone to help reduce ozone by making changes to daily habits such as carpooling, using public transportation and working from home whenever possible.

Charges in Shooting Over Woman

(Michigan City, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with a Michigan City shooting that apparently was over a woman.


Authorities said 33-year-old Jeremy O’Neal on June 6th was inside a woman’s apartment on Pine Tree Court when a man knocked on the door.


The investigation shows Wayne Scott spotted O’Neal inside his ex-girlfriend’s apartment with a gun and was walking back to his vehicle when shots rang out, one of which hit Scott in the ankle. Scott then drove himself to a nearby convenience store on South Franklin Street for help before undergoing surgery to remove the round from his ankle.


O’Neal had three active warrants out for his arrest when taken into custody. Court documents also revealed Scott was arrested and had posted bond prior to the shooting for battering his ex-girlfriend at a liquor store.


O’Neal could face anywhere from a 3 to a 16-year sentence if convicted of level 3 felony aggravated battery.

Early Morning Fire Under Investigation

(La Porte, IN) - A home caught fire in La Porte this morning.


At about 6:30 a.m., firefighters responded to a duplex at 602 Kingsporte Avenue on the city’s south side.


La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said a guest in one of the homes, who was sleeping on a couch, got up to use the bathroom only to find smoke coming out from underneath the bathroom door and the knob now hot when they went to open it.


The guest saw flames in the bathroom, before shutting the door and alerting everyone to get out of the structure.  Snyder said residents in the other side of the duplex also made their way out.


“Everybody is safe. We were able to put out the fire in less than about 10 minutes,” he said.

Snyder said the fire was pretty much contained to the bathroom except for a small fire extension into the adjoining rooms. The unit which caught fire, though, suffered enough damage that it will have to be vacated for now.


“They won’t be able to stay in it until it gets repaired,” he said.


Snyder noted that the other unit was not damaged, and therefore residents on that side of the duplex will be able to continue living there.


Snyder said a candle left burning in the bathroom overnight is one of the possibilities being looked into as the potential cause of the fire, which currently remains under investigation. 

Commissioners Formally Terminate Stevens

(La Porte County, IN) - The La Porte County Highway Department superintendent has been officially terminated.


The La Porte County Commissioners voted 2-to-1 last night to remove Allen Stevens from that position, with Stevens having been on paid suspension for the past week.


However, Commissioner Joe Haney said he was under the impression he was already let go from what Stevens told him several days ago. 


Haney said he also heard the same thing from Commissioner Rich Mrozinski while listening to him last week in a news report on radio station 96.7 The Eagle and seeing his quotes in an article on hometownnewsnow.com.


“It’s in print and on the radio by you,” Haney said.


In response, Mrozinski said “I haven’t been on the radio.”


In a written statement, Stevens said he was let go because he refused to do political favors like hire and promote family members of Mrozinski and Gramarossa, adding that he also did not comply with their requests to fix roads near the homes of their family members and friends ahead of their original schedules.


Mrozinski said he could not give specific reasons for Stevens’ dismissal because it was a personnel matter. However, he said the termination was over Stevens repeatedly not following work related orders and not political in nature.


Stevens is chairman of the La Porte County Republican Party, which voted last year to remove Mrozinski as a member over his continued support of Shaw Friedman as county government attorney. 


Stevens left his position at the Indiana Department of Transportation to become county highway superintendent at the start of the year. His appointment was approved by Gramarossa and Haney when the two officials represented a majority on the three-member commission. A few months later, Gramarossa threw her support behind Mrozinski, which returned Haney to the minority on the governing body.

Hay Wagon Fire

(La Porte County, IN) - Scipio Township firefighters managed to keep flames from a burning hay wagon from spreading to a nearby shed, according to La Porte County Police.


Firefighters were called Tuesday before 2 p.m. to a residence on 400 West, where upon arrival, an 18 foot-long hay wagon on was fire next to a shed. The fifirefighters, however, arrived soon enough to contain the flames.


The owner, John Fritz, told investigators he uses the homemade hay wagon to sell items on the property, with items like fishing rods and wrenches reportedly being on the wagon prior to it catching fire.


Scipio Township Fire Chief Eric Fenstermaker noted there were combustible materials on the wagon which could have played a role in what he believes was an accidental fire, but ultimately stated that there were no signs of arson.

Kingsford Heights Sued by ACLU

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Town of Kingsford Heights is being sued for allegedly violating the public’s right to freedom of speech.


The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana filed a lawsuit, which claims the municipality removed two residents from the Town Council’s official private Facebook group.  Among other purposes, the Town Council of Kingsford Heights uses this group to publicize information of importance to Town residents, such as proposed ordinances. 


The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Michael Easley and Emily Galloway, alleges that the Council’s actions represent viewpoint-based discrimination, in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  According to the complaint, Easley was removed from the Town Council’s official Facebook group after he posted a Facebook comment in a different forum that was critical of Town Council leadership.


The lawsuit contends Galloway was removed from the group by the Town Council after she asked a question in a different Facebook forum a campaign-related statement. 


“The First Amendment protects people, who regardless of their views, attempt to hold the government accountable through expression,” said Gavin M. Rose, ACLU of Indiana Senior Attorney.


“Kingsford Heights’ practice of silencing citizens on Facebook who are critical of the Council’s actions is unconstitutional,” he said.  

Arson Fire Rescuers Honored

(Michigan City, IN) - Four men have been recognized for saving the lives of a woman and her great grandson trapped in a burning mobile home in Michigan City last month.


Trevor Brockshire, Pat O’Brien, Malik Shannon and Jonathan Steinman were given challenge coins for their life-saving efforts at the June 20th meeting of the Michigan City Common Council.

The ones they saved, Sandra Root, 77, and her four-year old great-grandson were there for the presentation.

At least three of the men were pouring concrete for a new driveway when they ran over to the nearby burning residence at the Dunewood Mobile Home Community on Indiana 212.


Not knowing if anyone was inside, they tried entering through the front door, but were driven back the smoke and flames. The men then started busting out windows and hollering to awaken anyone inside as flames started engulfing the home.


Soon enough, there were indications the home was occupied, and soon a woman and child walked up to the broken windows before being carried out by the men reaching in for them through the frames.


“These individuals used their own set of values and stopped whatever they were doing to aid another human being in a desperate time of need,” said Michigan City Fire Marshal Jeff Bruder.


Root, her voice cracking as she broke down in tears, gave each of the rescuers a hug during the brief presentation.


“Thank you guys.  Thank you so much,” she told them.


Root was airlifted to a hospital in Fort Wayne with burns on the inside of her throat from heated air inhalation. Her great-grandson was treated and released for undisclosed injuries.


According to Michigan City Police, the fire after sunrise was intentionally set and attempts to determine who set the blaze are still ongoing. Bruder noted he could not release further details as a result.


Council President Don Przybylinski called the men heroes in the fullest sense of the term.


“That’s being a true, true, loving human being when you put your life on the line to do what you gentlemen did.  God bless you,” he said.


Przybylinski also said he was glad to see the woman and boy at the council meeting and “doing fine.”

La Porte Again the State Capital on July 4

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte is once again the state capital for the day on the Fourth of July.


The annual declaration from the governor, making La Porte the state capital for the day, is a long-standing Independence Day tradition that lives on as Mayor Tom Dermody read the proclamation from Governor Eric Holcomb during yesterday’s Board of Public Works meeting. 


He later revealed the governor turned down his request for him to be in the La Porte parade, but said he hopes Holcomb will come next year during his final year as governor.


“Next year will be our last shot.  We hope that will happen,” Dermody said.


The Fourth of July parade in La Porte is viewed by many people as one of the best, if not, the best in the state. A flyover of military planes, scheduled at 10:15 a.m., will again kick off the start of the parade.

NIPSCO Investing in La Porte Training Facility

(La Porte, IN) - NIPSCO is going to invest $15 million dollars into its training facility in La Porte, as the local City Council last night approved a 10-year tax abatement on the project.


The NIPSCO building on the city’s west side is going to be expanded to house a new welding training program, while the current square footage training lineman and other skilled positions will be renovated.


Bert Cook, Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, said it’s the type of project the city likes to see.


“One of those type of projects is in training.  Bringing training opportunities to our community that better the lives of those that go through those programs. This project absolutely fits that mold,” he said.


Cook said NIPSCO was going to invest in one of its training facilities in its Northern Indiana service area and chose La Porte for that investment. The company also left open the possibility of another five-million-dollar investment in its La Porte facility at some point in the future.


According to city officials, the project will retain the 61 employees presently working at the facility, and possibly create a few new positions. 


The hope is to begin construction on what's intended to be a roughly two-year project in August.

Another Deadline in Annexation Battle

(La Porte, IN) -  Another deadline has been set over what appears to be a contested plan to annex the 39 North Conservancy District outside La Porte.


La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody said he set a June 30th deadline for the district to sign a Memorandum of Understanding over the city’s intentions to annex over 900 acres of partially developed ground along Indiana 39 from Severs Road to the Indiana Toll Road.


Dermody said the next steps will be decided if the district board fails to meet the deadline, noting it was established recently after his repeated attempts failed to return conservancy district board members to the negotiating table. Also playing a role in his decision was a post on social media containing the names of every district property owner who signed a petition requesting annexation, allegedly made after the city, in response to a public information request from the district, turned over the names.


“It’s clear in my opinion that the only reason they wanted these names was to shame the individuals who signed,” he said.


The city started moving forward in the process after obtaining the signatures of 57-percent of property owners in the district wanting to be annexed. Although, Dermody vowed to back away from annexation and focus on other much needed projects if property owners did not sign the petition by May 31st. Under state law, the signatures from 51-percent of property owners wanting to be annexed is required to move forward.


In previous discussions, the city agreed to compensate the district $2 million for the water and sewer lines property owners in the conservancy had installed for about $4 million over 20 years ago.


The city is the provider of water and sewage treatment in the district, and as hoped, the infrastructure brought a considerable amount of new industry and higher end housing to the district. More growth cannot occur, though, unless larger in diameter lines and a water tower are installed to meet demand for water from new customers.


The district could finance the estimated $10 million in necessary improvements on the backs of property owners. If allowed to annex, the city has promised to pay all costs and compensate property owners for their investment in the infrastructure with credits on their water and sewer bills. Dermody noted in turn that homestead land owners would also see a reduction in their property taxes.


39 North Conservancy District Attorney Shaw Friedman said he doesn’t know why the deadline was set because the board decided a month ago not to resume talks unless given a copy of the city’s fiscal plan for servicing the district.


The board also wants to know in writing from the state whether it’s legal to compensate property owners with credits on their utility bills.


Friedman said the fiscal plan was recently handed over but remains under review by the district’s financial advisor.


“We’re also wondering how the city intends to pay for all of the promised improvements without raising taxes on city and districts residents,” he said.


In addition, he said no answer has been provided yet on the legality of the city’s proposed method of compensating property owners.        


“We still don’t have that,” he said.


Friedman said there is no way the deadline is going to be met because of the still resolved uncertainties.


“The city needs to stop imposing ultimatums and negotiate in good faith,” he said.


Friedman denied he or any board member posted the names of the property owners on the petition.


“It simply didn’t happen,” he said.  


He did say whoever did it, though, posted a public document.


Friedman said he warned the city not to pursue annexation because of the immense friction such an effort can generate. Instead, he urged the city to renegotiate a new water agreement with the district that addresses improvements to the infrastructure.


Per Friedman, “These tend to be divisive and polarizing. Why all of a sudden declare war? Why not give peace a chance?”

Another Early Season Lake Michigan Drowning

(Porter County, IN) - It appears another drowning has occurred on the southern tip of Lake Michigan. According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the body of a 19-year-old man was pulled from the water at Porter Beach.


Emergency personnel were called late Monday afternoon on a report of two people struggling in the water.


So far, the investigation has revealed the 19-year-old was swimming with a 14-year-old family member when the current pulled them further away from the shoreline, forcing them to struggle.


A witness rescued the younger teenager, whereas the 19-year-old man was located unresponsive by other witnesses. Lifesaving efforts were provided on the scene but he was ultimately pronounced dead at Northwest Health-Porter Hospital.


The identity of the man is being withheld pending family notification.


Onyx Torres, 7, of Chicago drowned in Lake Michigan at Portage last week. A family member tried reaching the boy but the current was too strong, authorities stated.

Speed Demon Jailed on Warrant

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man is in jail after being clocked at nearly twice the speed limit last evening.


La Porte County Police said a patrol officer caught him traveling 97 miles per hour in the area of U.S. 20 and Indiana 212,  passing other vehicles fast enough to kick up dust and debris.


During a traffic stop, the driver was found to have an outstanding warrant for his arrest out of Lake County on a domestic battery charge.


Dustin Alcorn is currently being held in the La Porte County Jail so Lake County authorities can pick him up on the warrant, in addition to being charged here with reckless driving and ticketed for speeding.


According to police, Alcorn told the arresting officer he liked to drive fast and was told previously by a friend “to save it for the race track.”

OWI with Baby Arrest

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police stopped a driver traveling nearly twice the speed limit while allegedly being intoxicated and with a baby in the vehicle.


Eric Williams was clocked at 95 miles per hour Saturday afternoon on U.S. 20 at 125 West.


During a traffic stop, police said a baby born less than a month ago was in a car seat accompanied by its father, the 58-year-old Williams, and mother in the front driver and passenger seats, respectively.


The South Bend man, after displaying symptoms of possible impairment, was allegedly found with a blood alcohol level two times the legal limit, in addition to a suspended license.


Williams was charged with neglect of a dependent for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol with an infant in the vehicle, along with operating while intoxicated and other offenses.


According to court documents, Williams explained he was in a hurry because of a family emergency, among other reasons for driving so fast.

Anonymous Donor Honors Musician

(La Porte, IN) - A member of the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra is in select company. Principal Tuba Musician, Richard Watson, will be able to sit in a chair provided by an anonymous donor with his name on it while playing. 


Watson, who has music degrees from the University of Michigan and Northwestern University, will celebrate his 31st year with the LCSO during the upcoming 2023-2024 concert season. 


He also has been an adjunct professor of tuba/euphonium at Valparaiso University’s Department of Music for 30 years.


“What a wonderful honor for Rich Watson,” said LCSO Executive Director, Tim King. 


Watson joins seven other musicians in the orchestra now sitting in named chairs as a result of the LCSO’s 50th Anniversary MUSIC FOREVER campaign.


For more information on the naming of chairs inside the LCSO, go to:



Contact the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra office at (219) 362-9020 or executive@lcso.net for more information as well.



Man Facing Possible Return to Prison

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man with a prior criminal record is accused of selling cocaine.


Anthony Neal, 34, was allegedly caught selling cocaine in the area of U.S. 421 and U.S. 20. As a result, Neal has been charged in La Porte Superior Court 2 with dealing cocaine, a level 2 felony, which could bring him anywhere from a 10-to-30 year sentence.


According to court documents, he met the alleged buyer outside of White Castle and conducted the half-transaction inside of a vehicle. Neal, who didn’t have enough cocaine to complete the deal, drove to a residence in the 2200 block of Wabash St. in Michigan City, to retrieve the rest of the cocaine he promised to sell.


Court documents revealed nearly nine grams of cocaine were sold for $375 across both transactions. The alleged sale occurred in February.


In 2008, Neal was given a 10-year prison sentence for burglary, having also been sentenced to four years in prison in 2016 for robbery.

Chase of Motorcycle Ends in Wipe Out

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte man wiped out on his motocycle while allegedly attempting to flee police on Sunday night. Richard Upshaw has charged with resisting law enforcement.


A sheriff’s deputy spotted the motorcycle run past a stop sign without slowing down at Small Road and 500 West. During a traffic stop, police said Upshaw made a U-turn in the parking lot of the Pinola Saloon before taking off again.


The officer was giving chase when the motorcycle, while entering a curve, it wound up on its side a short time later. Upshaw was trying to stand the motorcycle back up when ultimately taken into custody at gunpoint.


The 32-year-old Upshaw was also ticketed for disregarding three stop signs and other violations like driving without insurance.


Authorities noted that Upshaw declined medical attention. 

Traffic Violation Leads to Drug Bust

(La Porte, IN) - Two men riding in the same vehicle searched by La Porte Police have been charged with drug-related counts.


Daniel Keeling, 32, and Garrett Butts, 21, are charged in La Porte Circuit Court with possession of methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.


Per the authorities, a police officer monitoring traffic on June 11th spotted a vehicle pulling away from the Conoco Station at about 3 a.m. The vehicle failed to use a turn signal while making a left hand turn onto Tipton Street.


The officer began going after the vehicle for the traffic violation, when the driver suddenly pulled to the right side of the road and turned off his headlights.


Butts stepped out of the driver’s seat and began walking away, before obeying commands to get back in the vehicle.


A glass smoking pipe, seemingly with methamphetamine residue and burn marks inside was recovered from the center console, in addition to a bag containing 1.9 grams of a crystal-like substance that later tested positive for meth, according to court documents.


Police noted both Keeling and Butts were charged because neither one of them took responsibility for the contraband.

Fire at Hand Sanitizer Recycling Plant

(La Porte County, IN) - There was a decently-sized industrial-type fire in La Porte County last evening that occured at Glycerin Traders along Indiana 104 in Stillwell.


The plant, recycling expired bottles of hand sanitizer, caught fire just before 5 p.m.  Pleasant Township Fire Chief, Kevin Bluhm, stated that about 30 workers exited safely as firefighters from multiple agencies were there until about 10 p.m.


Bluhm noted that it appears a conveyor belt had somehow malfunctioned, which generated sparks that came into contact with a flammable alcohol-based liquid.


The recycling process involves removing the liquid from the plastic bottles, which are then shredded and placed into a semi-trailer.  After, the liquid goes into a separate holding area until it is shipped to an incinerator for disposal.


“Inside the building, we had a semi-trailer that was loaded with plastic on fire and we had several totes of methanol also around the area on fire,” Bluhm said.


Fortunately, Bluhm said the facility was equipped with an automatic sprinkler system, which helped contain the flames to one corner of the roughly 100 x 160 foot metal framed structure.


Bluhm stated that fighting the fire was more dangerous than usual, because flames strictly from alcohol cannot be seen. Hand sanitizer is mostly comprised of alcohol, which led the Fire Chief to note that the fire was visible in an area where plastic and other materials were burning.


Two firefighters suffered minor burns, while another firefighter suffered minor smoke inhalation. Bluhm described the damage to the structure as being moderate.

Drowning Victim was Pregnant

(Lake County, IN) - A woman who drowned in Northwest Indiana over the weekend was reportedly pregnant as the 30-year-old Gary woman drowned in Robinson Lake near Interstate 65 in the Hobart area on Sunday.


According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, emergency personnel were called in response to two swimmers struggling in the water. Where a witness rescued a man but the woman after going under the water did not resurface. A DNR diver located the body about two hours later, where it was found the woman was reportedly more than seven months pregnant.


The Lake County Coroner’s Office has ruled the death an accident.

Highway Widening to be Examined

(La Porte County, IN) - Major highways that might need widening will be a focus of state lawmakers during the summer.


State Representative Jim Pressel of Rolling Prairie is President of the Transportation Committee in the House of Representatives, and a member of the task force that will examine the need for adding more lanes to major highways throughout the state.


Locally, a stretch of Indiana 2 could be reviewed on whether to add lanes to portions that currently have two lanes or strengthen the road to handle more truck traffic.


Pressel said an electric vehicle battery-making plant outside New Carlisle is expected to bring more vehicles and heavy trucks to Indiana 2 during its construction and after it begins operating. The plant will cost an estimated $3.5 billion to build and employ as many as 1,700 people.


“What is the upgrade that is going to be needed there to get that traffic in and out?  We’ve not really budgeted for those kind of things, so, that’s the need for that task force,” he said.


The task force will present its recommendations to the state legislature for possible action next year.

High Ozone Advisory Tuesday

(Indianapolis, IN) - La Porte County is included in a high ozone-related advisory for Tuesday.


The Indiana Department of Environmental Management has issued an Air Quality Action Day due to high ozone being in the forecast for Tuesday. The advisory is for La Porte, Michigan City, Knox, Valparaiso, Plymouth and other cities throughout much of northern Indiana.


A state map including regions and affected counties is available at SmogWatch.IN.gov


Continued sunny skies with highs in the upper 80's with east winds will contribute to high ozone, IDEM noted, encouraging everyone to help reduce ozone by making changes to daily habits such as driving less, carpooling, using public transportation, walking and biking.


Ground-level ozone that can irritate the lungs is formed when sunlight and hot weather combine with vehicle exhaust, factory emissions, and gasoline vapors.

Highway Superintendent Blames Firing on Politics

(La Porte County, IN) - The former La Porte County Highway Department superintendent says political retribution was the reason for his firing.


Allen Stevens said he took the job in January to bring change to a department with trucks, equipment and facilities in poor condition.


Stevens noted he was also implementing a plan to improve the condition of county roads and keep politics out of decision making. He said things were progressing smoothly until Commissioner Connie Gramarossa began letting Commissioner Rich Mrozinski “call all of the shots.”


Stevens alleged they demanded he hire and promote family members, fire perceived political opponents and perform other acts like manipulating county paving contracts for political gain.


Stevens also mentioned he was also instructed to talk to the Indiana Attorney General about backing off on his lawsuit against the county commissioners over their refusal to turn over emails from the former prosecutor to the current prosecutor, Sean Fagan.


Stevens insisted that he refused to carry out such demands and was fired as a result, blaming Mrozinski for his termination. Stevens is also chairman of the La Porte County Republican Party, which voted last year to remove Mrozinski as a member.


“I refused to perform unethical activities and he chose to terminate me,” he said.


Mrozinski denied politics had anything to do with the firing, which he blamed on Stevens' failture to perform a number of work-related requests.

Vote Centers Moving Forward in La Porte County

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County has taken a step toward having vote centers thanks to a unanimous decision by the La Porte County Election Board last Friday.


However, La Porte County Clerk Heather Stevens said approval is still required from the La Porte County Commissioners and La Porte County Council.


Vote centers would mean people being able to vote anywhere in the county not just the precincts where they reside.  Supporters say vote centers would also bring a cost-saving factor, from possibly needing fewer locations and fewer workers to run an election.


Vote centers are supported by the leaders of both major political parties locally.


“It’s going to increase the accessibility and the convenience for the voters in this county. I believe with the technology we have it’s just the logical step forward,” said La Porte County Democrat Party Chairperson Angle Hensman of Michigan City.


“Moving to vote centers will result in substantial cost savings to taxpayers and make voting easier and more accessible to the voters of La Porte County,” said La Porte County Republican Party chairman Allen Stevens of Hanna.


Clerk Heather Stevens said she also plans to have a series of public meetings about the plan to switch to vote centers in the coming weeks.  

Party Bus Rollover Jams I-65

(Lake County, IN) - A party bus took rock and roll to another level on I-65 Thursday.


A charter tour bus tipped over after taking evasive action in Lake County near Lowell just after 9:00 Thursday morning.


According to State Police, the driver of the northbound party bus did not notice traffic slowing down ahead. Swerving to avoid a pile-up, the driver hit a semi as well as about 75-feet of guardrail before rolling onto its side.


Police did not say how many passengers were in the bus, but they all refused medical treatment at the scene. Interstate traffic was interrupted for several hours as the bus was uprighted and towed away and debris from it was collected.

Residents Reminded to Slow Their Roll With Fireworks

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte is reminding residents to keep their powder dry. It’s not technically fireworks season yet.


The city's firework ordinance prohibits fireworks within city limits until June 28th. From then through July 9th, fireworks may be discharged between 5 and 11 p.m. On July 4th the time is extended from 10 a.m. to midnight. Also, it is against state law to discharge fireworks from any of the city parks. Violators could be fined up to $300.


La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder issued the following statement on the matter:


"While we know everyone is eager to start celebrating, we urge our residents to be respectful of their neighbors and to keep the city's firework ordinance in mind. Our fire and police departments, along with the code enforcement team, will be keeping a watchful eye over the next several weeks to make sure everyone is following the rules." 

State Transgender Law Blocked

(Indianapolis, IN) - The recent effort by state lawmakers to ban transgender procedures for minors has been blocked in federal court.


Senate Bill 480 bans the use of puberty blockers, hormones, and surgery to change the gender of a minor. It also forbids doctors from communicating with out-of-state medical providers related to such interventions for minors. Governor Eric Holcomb signed the legislation in April, despite referring to it as being "clear as mud." The law was set to take effect in two weeks.


On Friday a federal judge stepped in to allow the use of puberty blockers and hormones. The surgery ban is still in play, because that procedure is not currently provided in Indiana.


The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of a doctor and four individuals. U.S. District Court Judge James Patrick Hanlon, a Trump appointee, sided with them, saying the ban as written is an overreach. He issued a preliminary injunction and called for a trial date to settle the matter.


At least 20 states have now enacted laws restricting or banning such procedures for minors. Legal challenges have also blocked the laws in three other states.

High Honor for Retiring Banker

(Indianapolis, IN) - The outgoing Chairman and CEO at Horizon Bank has received the state’s top honor, as Craig Dwight was recently given the Sagamore of the Wabash award.


State Representative Jim Pressel of Rolling Prairie presented the award to Dwight while standing beside State Senator Mike Bohacek of Michiana Shores, crediting him for making significant contributions to improve Northwest Indiana over the years.


During his 40 years in banking, Dwight earned several accolades including his induction into the Northwest Indiana Business & Industry Hall of Fame. He’s also won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, a Banking Excellence Award from the Indiana Bankers Association and a Most Influential People Award from the Indianapolis Business Journal.


Dwight was also applauded for serving on the boards of the United Way of Lake County and the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City.   He also led fund raising campaigns for the United Way, Salvation Army, Boys & Girls Clubs, Martin Luther King Center, La Porte County YMCA and local schools.


"Local leaders like Dwight make our community and state an even better place to call home," Pressel said.  

Former Prosecutor Fighting Email Request

(La Porte, IN) - The former La Porte County Prosecutor has taken legal action to prevent his successor from gaining access to all of his emails during his final year in office. John Lake has filed a motion in LaPorte Circuit Court to intervene as a defendant in the lawsuit brought about by current prosecutor Sean Fagan, who has the support of Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita.


In his June 13th motion, Lake said he has an “unconditional right” under state law to intervene and wants to in order to argue his case as to why Fagan is not entitled to all of his emails during his last year as prosecutor. If the motion is granted, he will join the LaPorte County Commissioners as defendants in a lawsuit filed by LaPorte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan, who has the backing of Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita in the case.


In a letter to the commissioners about two months ago, Rokita demanded Fagan be given access to all of the emails, saying prosecutors are employees of the state and emails from their office are therefore state property. Lake, however, cites state statute and argues that he is allowed to keep confidential emails he described as “personal records” and prevent them from being “wrongfully disclosed.”


Fagan is suing the commissioners for rejecting on multiple occasions his request for access to all of the emails from Lake and four of his staff members in 2022. The emails sought originated from the prosecutor’s office and are held on a county government server.


In his lawsuit, Fagan insists he’s entitled under state statute to all of the emails because they’re owned by whoever is prosecutor. The lawsuit also claims the commissioners have no authority to deny access to emails from the office of prosecutor, who is a judicial officer of the state. The lawsuit also alleges failure to comply with a prosecutor’s request for emails from the office under Indiana law constitutes official misconduct, a level 6 felony offense. His position is supported by Rokita along with the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council and the Indiana Public Access Counselor.


Fagan said he needs all of the emails from last year to close any gaps in information on cases he inherited from his predecessor.


According to the lawsuit, information possibly important to a case could come from a wide range of emails, containing anything from talks with victims and between deputy prosecutors discussing strategy in a criminal matter. A majority of the commissioners agreed to give him emails specific to criminal cases to protect the privacy of county employees.  However, the lawsuit argues a prosecutor cannot know which emails to request unless all of them are opened to determine which ones might be helpful to a case.


Lake said personal records under state statute, though, are excluded from what a former prosecutor must transfer to a successor. He also claimed some of the emails sought by Fagan are protected from disclosure under attorney-client privilege and federal right to privacy laws. Likewise, he said he would be harmed if his personal records, in the form of emails including those of current and former employees in the prosecutor’s office, are disclosed to Fagan who allegedly doesn’t need such records in his capacity to uphold the law.


“These personal records do not relate to or have an effect upon the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory or other official duties of the Prosecuting Attorney,” Lake stated in his motion to intervene.


In his motion, Lake said not allowing him to intervene will impede his ability to protect the release of his personal records. He also revealed his intent to file a separate lawsuit to keep the emails confidential if the court were to grant Fagan “unfettered access” to them.

Boy Drowns in Lake Michigan

(Portage, IN) - A seven-year-old child from Chicago drowned in the southern tip of Lake Michigan in Portage yesterday.


According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, it appears the boy was playing in waist-deep water and, when making his way into deeper water, he apparently was caught in a current that pulled him further out.


A family member tried rescuing the boy before having lost sight of him.


Authorities said the boy was later found in Ogden Dunes and was pronounced dead at the hospital.


The name of the boy has not been released.

Market to Begin Accepting Food Cards

(La Porte, IN) - People on food assistance will start being able to purchase food at the Farmed and Forged market in downtown La Porte this weekend.


Officials said fruits, vegetables and other items like bread, cereal, meat and eggs can be purchased from a select number of vendors with a swipe of the national food assistance cards. In exchange, vouchers will be given to make the purchases.


Additionally, the market has teamed up with local chef Marcello Marino, founder of La Ventana Nonprofit Culinary School, to lead monthly cooking demonstrations. Chef Marino will lead these live cooking demonstrations on the second Sunday of every month, where all ingredients used for his dishes will be provided by local market vendors.


The demonstrations will take place in the parking lot next to the market at 11:30a and 1:30p.m. Attendees will learn about basic culinary skills, how to prepare the recipe from start to finish and will even get to sample the completed dish.


The revamped market at Lincolnway and Monroe Street is open every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through September 24th.

Charges in Motorcycle Chase

(La Porte, IN) - Charges have been filed against a motorcycle driver who failed in his effort to ditch the police in La Porte. Todd Saylor, 33, has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with two counts of resisting law enforcement.


According to court records, the La Porte man was clocked at 75 miles per hour on East Lincolnway last week, later attempting to flee when an officer tried to pull him over. The officer lost sight of the motorcycle after the suspect ran a number of traffic lights and stop signs on the northeast side of the city, but only briefly.


The officer then saw smoke at Park Street and Koomler Drive, discovering Saylor trying to start the now-on-fire motorcycle, flames beginning to engulf his feet as he took off. Soon enough, the motorcycle was found laying on the pavement near the railroad tracks as Saylor began running, leading to short and ultimately fruitless foot pursuit before giving up to authorities.


Court documents revealed Saylor had lost one of the slippers on his feet and had one foot covered by a sock with a hole at the big toe.

Flock Cameras Nail Burglary Suspects

(Michigan City, IN) - License plate readers led to the arrests of suspects in a recent Michigan City store burglary.


Last week, officers responded to a burglar alarm at Dunes Plaza on U.S. 20. There, they found survailence footage of a man getting out of a pick-up truck at 5:30 AM and kicking in a glass window before then going inside the store. 


The material obtained from the camera also showed the man placing merchandise in a duffel bag and leaving in a pickup truck described as a Dodge Ram.


Flock cameras indicated the vehicle was heading toward Interstate 94.


About 90 minutes later, flock cameras detected the vehicle on Interstate 65 in Lafayette, approaching Indianapolis an hour and a half after that. Officers from the area stopped the vehicle, finding a duffel bag inside the truck containing cologne and over a half-dozen power washers.


The suspects, Danny Torres and Rolando Pages Romero, are both from Louisville, Kentucky, and are currently being held in the La Porte County Jail to await court proceedings in the case. 

Peeping Tom Armed with Cell Phone

(Hanna, IN) - La Porte County Police are investigating a report of a Peeping Tom armed with a cell phone camera.


About 4 p.m. on Tuesday, police said officers were called to a home in the Hanna area.


After taking a shower, a 19 year old woman told investigators she spotted someone holding a phone up to the bathroom window, according to police.


According to police, the woman said she was either being recorded or having pictures taken of her then told family members who went outside. They didn’t see anyone but discovered muddy shoe prints on top of an air conditioning unit close to the bathroom window.


Police were not able to get a physical description of the suspect, but the phone was described by the woman as black with an American Flag and red stripe on it.

Bar Shooting Leads to Prison Sentence

(La Porte, IN) - A prison sentence has resulted from the shooting of man outside a downtown La Porte bar back in 2021.


Keith Davis, Jr. has received a 10-year prison sentence for aggravated battery.


The shooting ocurred at Lucky Bar at Lincolnway and Madison Street. Evidence shows the Michigan City man and the victim were arguing outside the establishment with Davis just six feet away from the victim where, at one point, Davis proceeded to shoot him in the face.


The victim, Jeremy Simmons, told the court in writing that he’s still impacted to a certain degree from the shooting.


Authorities said Davis was identified as the shooter by several witnesses, one of which having said he was causing problems in some of the other bars in the city earlier that night.


Davis was originally charged with attempted murder, but was ultimately sentenced for aggravated battery under the terms of a plea agreement. 

Firing Gun at Motor Vehicle Arrest

(Michigan City, IN) - It didn’t take police long to arrest a man suspected of firing numerous gunshots at a moving vehicle in Michigan City over the weekend.


Justin Hervey, 25, has been charged with criminal recklessness and unlawful carrying of a handgun.


According  to court documents, a man resembling Hervey was spotted firing a gun at a vehicle traveling late Saturday morning near the 300 block of North Calumet Avenue. Five shell casings were found on a sidewalk.


A witness saw the gunman with a stocky build and dreadlocks run inside a residence in the 100 block of Ridgeland Avenue. Hervey was taken into custody after a perimeter was formed around the dwelling, later telling investigators he fired at the vehicle believing the driver was involved in him being shot in the past.


Authorities note that it appears nobody was struck by the weekend gunfire.

Attorney Wants Brakes Applied to Annexation

(La Porte, IN) - A local official says annexation of the 39 North Conservancy District by the City of La Porte is NOT a done deal.


Shaw Friedman, attorney for the conservancy district, asserted that no deals have been struck and talks won’t resume until the district receives the information it’s asking from the city.


The district wants to receive a copy of the city’s fiscal plan and to know if discounts on water and sewer bills offered by the city as compensation for the investment property owners made in the infrastructure over 20-years ago are legal.


Friedman said 57 percent of freeholders in the district signed a petition requesting annexation. However, he's spoken about receiving calls from at least three people signing the petition who claim they were "incorrectly" led to believe they would receive a cash payout for their investment in the district’s water and sewer system.


Friedman said signatures can also be contested and possibly thrown out as not valid after they are submitted to a court.


“This is a long way from being approved by a court of law,” he said.


He also noted a judge will determine whether there is evidence to support the city’s plan on providing and paying for services to the targeted area.


“This isn’t a quick, easy or simple process,” he said.


Friedman also said the agreement for the city to supply water to the district expires in 2025 but the water cannot be turned off right away as threatened because of a two-year “cooling-off” period under state statute.


During the cooling-off period, he said attempts can be made to persuade the city into entering a new water service agreement without annexing.  Friedman also said the city provides water to areas like Legacy Hills and Rolling Prairie without insisting they be annexed.


“Why the rush and insistence on annexing 39 North,” Friedman asked.


Friedman said there’s also been no showing of any health or safety risk by the current fire protection offered by Center Township, noting that studies have shown future growth and development are inhibited until the capacity to deliver more water increases. The district, though, has applied for three grants to pay for a new water tower to help with pressure and capacity and is waiting for decisions on the grant applications.


The city has started the process toward annexing the district since it has signatures from more than one-half of the property owners.


Friedman, though, said there should not be any hurry.


“There’s no reason to rush or force annexation when there are many questions yet to be answered on the costs to taxpayers and whether this is truly in the interests of both the city and conservancy district residents,” he said.

Charges in Fatal Prison Worker Attack

(Michigan City, IN) - A murder charge has been filed in connection with an Indiana State Prison worker fatally attacked earlier this year.


Jeremy Davidson, 39, has been formally charged in La Porte Superior Court 2 for allegedly striking maintenance foreman Mike Keel in the head with a steel pipe in April. Keel, who was from the Valparaiso area, worked at the prison for nearly 30 years.


Davidson of Logansport is a convicted child molester serving what’s considered to be a life sentence. Despite his projected release date being well over 100 years from now, La Porte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan said the decision to prosecute boiled down to the seriousness of the offense and need to pursue justice for the victim’s family.


Fagan noted charges were not filed until recently to give the victim’s family enough time in the healing process before having to start dealing with the court proceedings.


“We really wanted to give the family some space and to grieve,” he said.


Authorities stated that Keel and the offender were involved in an argument before the attack in the steel shop of the prison where inmates work.


Judge Richard Stalbrink, Jr. is presiding over the case.

Attorney General Enters Local Email Dispute

(La Porte, IN) - The Indiana Attorney General is involved in a lawsuit against the LaPorte County Commissioners for refusing to provide the prosecutor with e-mails from the former prosecutor. The lawsuit, though not unexpected, comes after the commissioners were repeatedly warned that legal action was almost guaranteed if they had continued to deny the request of La Porte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan.


Fagan is listed as the plaintiff in the lawsuit, submitted June 2nd in La Porte Circuit Court by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita. Rokita’s office is paying the legal costs of the lawsuit from Fagan, who’s represented in the case by The Bopp Law Firm out of Terre Haute.


Fagan, who took office on January 1st, is asking for the e-mails of former prosecutor John Lake and several members of his staff from last year.


The lawsuit claims the e-mails on a county server are needed to close any gaps in information on cases Fagan inherited from his predecessor. According to the lawsuit, information that might be important to a case could come from a wide range of emails, potentially including talks with victims and opposing counsel in addition to communications between deputy prosecutors on matters like case strategy.


Citing state statute, the lawsuit maintains that, even though the e-mails are on a county server, they’re owned by whoever is prosecutor and the commissioners have no authority to deny access to the e-mails by the prosecutor, who is a judicial officer of the state. The lawsuit also alleges failure to comply with a prosecutor’s request for emails from the office under Indiana law constitutes official misconduct, a level 6 felony offense.


Commissioners Connie Gramarossa and Rich Mrozinski have stood their ground in repeatedly denying Fagan’s request, which was first made on January 5th. The last denial was made on April 5th, when the two commissioners again ignored the advice of their legal counsel along with a written demand from Rokita to turn over the e-mails. Andrew B. Jones has since been replaced as County Attorney by Scott Pejic, who chose not to comment on a pending legal matter.


Mrozinski also chose not to comment while attempts to reach Gramarossa were unsuccessful.


Gramarossa, though, has previously agreed to give Fagan the emails he needs from last year on specific cases only to protect county employees from having their privacy violated if total access was given to the server. However, the lawsuit argued a prosecutor cannot know which emails to request unless all of them are opened in advance to see which ones might be helpful to a case.


Mrozinski has repeatedly alleged Fagan is out to conduct a political witch hunt.


Commissioner Joe Haney, feeling the law is obviously on Fagan’s side, has consistently voted to grant his request, noting how the cost of the lawsuit for taxpayers is already estimated above $10,000 and could easily rise well into six figures.


“The actions of Commissioners Gramarossa and Mrozinski are absolutely reckless,” he said.


The lawsuit is asking Fagan be given all of the emails he requested along with a declaratory judgement that the emails were unlawfully withheld. A forensic audit of the server is also sought from the court to determine if any emails have been deleted and, if so, who had access to the emails.

City Issues Fireworks Advisory

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte residents are advised not to celebrate the 4th of July too early to avoid potential fines.


"While we know everyone is eager to start celebrating, we urge our residents to be respectful of their neighbors and to keep the city's firework ordinance in mind,” said La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder.


According to the municipal code, fireworks may be discharged within the city limits on the following dates and times:


  • June 28th through July 3rd from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.
  • July 4th, from 10 a.m. to midnight
  • July 5th through July 9th from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Snyder added it is against state law to discharge fireworks in city parks.  He said violators could be hit with as much as a $300 fine for illegal use of fireworks.


“Our fire and police departments, along with the code enforcement team, will be keeping a watchful eye over the next several weeks to make sure everyone is following the rules," Snyder said.  

Stevens Out as Highway Superintendent

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Highway Department Superintendent Al Stevens is out of a job after being terminated Monday after only being appointed to the position by the La Porte County Commissioners back in early January.


La Porte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski said he and Commissioner Connie Gramarossa made the decision after speaking to Stevens in person, albeit separately in the conference room of the commissioners inside the County Annex building.


“When we looked at all of the evidence there that we had it was more than enough for dismissal, so, that’s what we did,” Mrozinski said.


Mrozinski would not be too specific on the reasons cited because the decision involved a personnel matter. He did howeve reveal that there were work-related orders that weren't obeyed even after being given warnings about the violations.


“Trust me. This has been an ongoing thing and it finally came to a point where we had to do something,” Mrozinski said.


Stevens is also the La Porte County Republican Party Chairman.


Mrozinski was kicked out of the party last year by republicans feeling double-crossed by his choice to continue supporting then-County Attorney Shaw Friedman after promising not to support Friedman during his campaign.


The firing of Stevens seems to be part of a dismantling of the new power structure that was in place when Gramarossa took her seat on the commission and sided with Joe Haney to give them the majority back in January.


A few months ago, Gramarossa began voting with Mrozinski.


Ever since, Haney has been replaced by Gramarossa as Commission President, County Attorney Andrew Jones, who replaced Friedman at the beginning of the year, was terminated and replaced by Scott Pejic and now Stevens is out.


Mrozinski, while reflecting on his meeting with Stevens, denied his firing had anything to do with politics.


“The very first thing I said was this is not personal. This is business and running the business of the commissioners is a awesome responsibility and when things are not going right and when people are told to do things and they don’t do them or they lie to me then we have to make a change,” he said.


Mrozinski said he hopes to have a replacement for Stevens next week.


Stevens left his position with the Indiana Department of Transportation to become Highway Superintendent. 

Officer on Bicycle Snares Drug User

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte Police officer on bicycle patrol removed a suspected drug user from the streets.


Samuel Wilson, 37, has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with two counts of possession of a control substance and illegal possession of a syringe.


The officer was on a bicycle patrolling the 1300 block of Federal Ave. on June 1st when he spotted a moped owned by Wilson, who had warrants out for his arrest in La Porte and Starke counties at the time.


The officer then approached Wilson, who was found standing near a vehicle, with two syringes containing a dark liquid in one of his pants-pockets.


The liquid tested positive for heroin and methamphetamine.


According to court records, Wilson was wanted in La Porte County on charges of leaving the scene of an accident and on drug-related charges in Starke County,. 

New Leadership for Hudson Lake Conservation Association

(Hudson Lake, IN) - The Hudson Lake Conservation Association has announced the appointment of Kevin Smith as the new President of the organization, in addition to Georgette Joyce as a new board member at large.


With their extensive experience and passion for environmental conservation, Smith and Joyce are poised to lead the association into a new era of sustainable practices and increased community engagement. 


HLCA officials said Smith brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise and commitment to environmental conservation to his role. Smith has actively participated in various conservation initiatives throughout his career. His leadership and vision will guide the association towards a more sustainable and ecologically conscious future.


Joyce was described as a dedicated servant-leader with a deep understanding of the issues affecting Hudson Lake. As a board-member-at-large, Ms. Joyce will play a crucial role in shaping the association's strategic direction and fostering collaboration with local stakeholders.


"Her unique perspective and expertise will greatly contribute to the HLCA's efforts to protect and enhance the natural beauty of the lake," officials noted. 


Per the HCLA, the association is launching a new initiative aimed at expanding conservation activities around Hudson Lake. This initiative will focus on implementing sustainable practices, conducting environmental research, and organizing community outreach programs to raise awareness about the lake’s status and the importance of lake preservation. 


The Hudson Lake Conservation Association encourages all residents, local businesses, and community organizations to actively participate in these initiatives.


"Together, we can make a significant impact on the long-term quality and quantity of our cherished lake," HLCA officials said. 


For more information, inquiries can be directed to Steve A. Varela, press coordinator and vice-president for the Hudson Lake Conservation Association.


He can be reached at stevevarela@gmail.com or at 1-574-654-7500.


The Hudson Lake Conservation Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the natural environment of Hudson Lake and areas that influence its quality, quantity, and recreational usefulness.


The association works closely with local communities, government agencies, and other stakeholders to promote sustainable practices and raise awareness about the importance of lake conservation.


To join, go to www.hudsonlakeindiana.com

Kingsbury Industrial Park Nearing Prime Time

(La Porte County, IN) - Kingsbury Industrial Park could see further developments thanks to the announcement for a new electrical vehicle battery plant for outside New Carlisle that made public earlier today.


Matt Reardon of the Center for Economic Development, Planning and Government Affairs for LaPorte County said a percentage of the workforce at the plant in western St. Joseph County will almost certainly be from the La Porte area. He went further, explaining that that percentage means additional money coming back in wages and county income tax dollars paid on those earnings.


Reardon also noted that local contractors and subcontractors may be involved in the construction, while some of the materials needed for operating the plant could be from local suppliers.


“That’s always a good thing,” he said.


Reardon said he also believes a plant that size will shed light on the opportunities available for similar sized major companies to locate at Kingsbury Industrial Park.


He said the park will be served by two major rail lines, CSX and Canadian National, once a new rail bridge over Travis Ditch and an additional switch for directing trains in and out of the park is installed.


The LaPorte County Commissioners gave the green light for that work to begin last week.


Reardon said the work, costing over a million dollars, is being funded partially by a state grant and could be finished before the end of the year.


“Kingsbury is prepared for that level of investment. We’re ready to go,” he said.


Bert Cook, Executive Director of the LaPorte Economic Advancement Partnership, said another benefit could be higher demand for new housing and workers at the plant moving here to be closer to their jobs. That could result in population growth, which is a major focus of LaPorte Mayor Tom Dermody, he said. Dermody has set a goal of increasing the city’s stagnant population from about 22,000 to 30,000 by 2030.


A lot of new mostly higher end housing has been constructed in LaPorte since Dermody became mayor in 2020 and more across all income levels is about to start going up or on the drawing board.


"The growth of the population is something LaPorte has placed a premium on. LaPorte will be able to compete for those opportunities,” he said.


Cook also said more new housing also means additional property tax revenue for local governments.


Obviously, he said St. Joseph County is the major winner primarily because of collecting all of the property taxes generated by such a large facility but there are gains to be expected in the surrounding areas.  


“Anytime neighboring communities have success like that I think it has spillover positive effects in all of the other communities that are near and we are obviously very close.  I think there will be some really great impacts created here.”

La Porte Man Hits Glove with First Pitch

(La Porte, IN) - Practice paid off apparently for a LaPorte man very pleased with his ceremonial first pitch at a major league baseball game.


Mike Kellems said his throw Monday at Comerica Park in Detroit may have been a bit too high but it was close enough to the strike zone to avoid his worst fear going in: being laughed at on a network TV sports video displaying some of the not-so spectacular moments in baseball.


“I’m very thankful that I am not a highlight on SportsCenter today,” he said.


It was law enforcement appreciation night during the game between the Detroit Tigers and Atlanta Braves.


Kellems is a retired LaPorte County Police officer now working part time as a police officer for Purdue University Northwest at the Westville area campus. He’s also an ambassador for the National Law Enforcement Officer’s Memorial Fund, which provides financial help to families of fallen police officers.  The Washington D.C. based organization knowing it was going to have a presence at the pregame ceremonies asked Kellems to throw out the first pitch.


Kellems said he was honored to be chosen primarily to help pay tribute to officers who gave their lives during the line of duty.  He was also thrilled and nervous about the opportunity as a baseball fan.


Kellems said he played organized baseball for just one year as a child and men’s softball for a season or two, but never pitched. To avoid potential embarrassment, he sought advice from LaPorte High School head baseball coach, Scott Upp, who advised him to throw a lot of pitches to build arm strength and accuracy.


Kellems ended up throwing from a portable pitching mound to coaches in the athletic program at Michigan City High School where he was a lifeguard during physical education classes in the pool.  The indoor throwing sessions were held about twice a week for several weeks.


Kellems said he became a little emotional when a helicopter flew over the stadium and a law enforcement color guard marched on the field as part of the festivities honoring fallen and current police officers.


Suddenly, he was asked to stand in front of the mound and throw out the first pitch.


His toss to home plate not only had decent speed but landed nowhere near the dirt or back stop.  In fact, the catcher was still crouched behind the plate when he reached out and squeezed the ball with his glove.


“If I was an umpire I would have called it a strike. I think I might have caught the corner,” he said.


The catcher was Zach Short, who’s actually an infielder and outfielder for the Tigers.  He autographed the ball, which Kellems brought home as a keep sake.


“I can’t tell you enough what a thrill it was to be able to do something like that,” Kellems said.

Local Officials React to Battery Plant Coming

(New Carlisle, IN) - A more-than-$3 billion electric vehicle battery-making plant employing well over 1,000 people is going to be constructed outside New Carlisle.


The announcement Tuesday morning by Governor Eric Holcomb ends more than a year of suspense regarding whether it was going to be constructed there.


“This historic investment is further proof that Indiana has turned it up and shifted into higher gear when it comes to helping create the future of mobility and more customer options out on the open road,” Holcomb said.


Construction of the new facility containing three million square feet of space is expected to begin within the next year. The goal is for the plant with a projected workforce of 1,600 to 1,700 to be operating in 2026.


The facility becoming reality stems from a partnership in April between General Motors and Samsung. Originally, General Motors teamed up with LG Energy Solution on a slightly smaller proposed electric vehicle-making plant employing a similar amount of people. The same close-to-700 acre site, consisting of farmland along Indiana 2 southeast of New Carlisle, was in the running for the plant until LG Energy Solution broke from the partnership last year.


The plans came back to life when GM and Samsung later joined hands in the slightly revised venture.


The facility will house production lines to build nickel-rich prismatic and cylindrical cells for millions of all-electric vehicles for customers across North America. In addition, the plant is expected to be a major help in making electric vehicles more accessible and affordable.


“Securing Indiana as a strong foothold together with GM, Samsung SDI will supply products featuring the highest level of safety and quality in a bed to help the U.S. move forward to an era of electric vehicles,” said Yoonho Choi, President and CEO of Samsung SDI.


The announcement came about three weeks after the St. Joseph County Council unanimously approved tax abatement on the project.  St. Joseph County Commissioner Carl Baxmeyer said the project will impact the region for decades.


He also called it “the largest single investment and job commitment in St. Joseph County in the last 75-years.”


GM already has five facilities across the state, including one in Marion that’s going to be expanded and upgraded at a cost of nearly $500 million to support automaker’s growing electric vehicle production.


Officials in neighboring LaPorte County expecting benefits to the local economy from the plant seem happy with the decision.


Matt Reardon of the Center for Economic Development, Planning and Government Affairs for LaPorte County said a percentage of the workforce will almost certainly be from the La Porte area. He went further, saying that means additional money coming back in wages and county income tax dollars paid on those earnings.


Reardon also said local contractors may be involved in the construction while some of the materials needed for operating the plant could be from local suppliers.


“That’s always a good thing,” he said.


Bert Cook, Executive Director of the LaPorte Economic Advancement Partnership, said another benefit could be higher demand for new housing and workers at the plant moving here to be closer to their jobs.


“Anytime neighboring communities have success like that I think it has spillover positive effects in all of the other communities that are near and we are obviously very close.  I think there will be some really great impacts created here.”

New Carlisle Area Chosen for Battery Plant

(St. Joseph County, IN) - An electric vehicle battery-making plant is coming to the New Carlisle area as General Motors and Samsung have announced that they chose a more-than-600-acre site in Olive Township to build from. 


The cost of building the plant is estimated at $3 billion, as about 600 people are expected to work at the facility.


Construction is expected to begin sometime before the end of the year, potentially able to start operations in 2026.

Local Man Throwing First Pitch

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man is going to do something this evening most baseball fans can only dream about doing.


Police officer Mike Kellems is going to throw out the first pitch at a major league baseball game and he’ll be doing it from the mound at Comerica Park in Detroit, where it's Law Enforcement Day at the ballpark.


Kellems will be representing the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund where he serves as an ambassador for the organization.


“It’s a tremendous honor,” he said.


Kellems said he’s been practicing his throws and even received some pitching tips from Scott Upp, the head baseball coach at LaPorte High School.


“I’m really looking forward to it.  It’s exciting but at the same time there’s just a hint of nervousness because you want to do well,” he said.


The game is scheduled to start at 5:40 p.m. central time.


Kellems is a retired La Porte County Police officer who now works as a police officer for Purdue University Northwest at its Westville area campus.

More Offspring Champs from Sire

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte County farmer returned from a national contest with more grand champion awards thanks to the offspring of a single ram, who was a grand champion himself at a competition during the Washington State Fair in 2017.


Kessler, owner of Clay Hill Ranch, had a ram and ewe named rand champions in the 2023 National North Country Cheviot Show and Sale, held in conjunction with the 76th annual West Virginia Purebred Sheep Association Show and Sale in Petersburg.


“They got a heck of a pedigree behind them,” he said.         


He estimated nearly 20 other offspring from his sire, “John Snow,” have earned grand champion status at other competitions since he started breeding the over-six-year old male sheep. Two of his daughters came in second place and fifth place out of about 1,000 ewes in the grand champion contest during last year’s Indiana State Fair.


Kessler, who’s been showing farm animals for close to 30-years, said he’s had grand champions from other breeding stock, but none of his previous rams were close to producing as many prize winning animals as John Snow. He also said it might have been the first time he’s had two in one show named grand champion.


“This was a pretty special year. It was a great show. Great participation from all across the country,” he said.


Kessler said both of his most recent grand champions were later purchased as breeding stock by farms in Minnesota during the two day show held the first week in June.


Currently, he’s working with a ram and ewe born 16 months ago to his champion producing sire to compete in future shows.  The sire is nearing the end of his useful lifespan for breeding, though, but steps have been taken for him to keep producing offspring.


“We’re fortunate enough to have some semen collected and stored on him, so, we’ll be able to use him for many years into the future,” Kessler said.


In March, Kessler said he also purchased a grand champion ram from Canada for breeding in hopes of adding more notches to his championship belt.


Traveling the country to show animals is an annual tradition for Kessler and his wife, Heather, along with their sons, Blake, Brady and Brock.


“I would hate to know how many miles we have traveled,” he said.


Presently, Blake is studying aeronautical engineering at Purdue University while Brady is going to be a senior and Brock an eighth grader at the New Prairie School Corporation.


Kessler said everyone in his family helps raise and show their animals. Brock, for example, is working with the animals he plans to show during this year’s LaPorte County Fair and competitions elsewhere.


“He’s out here every day,” Kessler said.  


The family has about 300 ewes along with 10 to 20 rams at one time on land near Rolling Prairie. They also have around 100 head of beef cattle on 200 acres where they live just west of LaPorte. Kessler said most of the animals are sold to breeders while the rest are processed into meat for local restaurants and individuals to place in their freezers.


The farm also produces corn, soybeans and hay.


Despite the success rate of the offspring from his sire, Kessler said he was confident in how the sheep would perform but having two grand champions was not what he totally expected.


“We were a little surprised.  We thought we had a good shot. We always love doing well and you hope that you’re standing at the end,” he said.

OWI Follows Dip in Pond

(La Porte County, IN) - A man was allegedly impaired when he drove into a La Porte County pond over the weekend. Craig Pickett, 26, has been arrested for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.


At roughly 1 a.m. on Saturday, police were called to the Mill Creek area, where an off-road vehicle found itself in the middle of a pond in the area of 950 East and 200 South.


Pickett told authorities that he was a farmhand and was checking the fields for flooding and drought before winding up in the pond. The Rolling Prairie man was unsteady on his feet and had an odor of alcohol on his breath.


He was way above the legal limit on a portable breathalyzer test but refused a certified test, police said.


Pickett may have been driving the off-road vehicle on a path through a woods before entering the pond, which was just a short distance from where he came out of the woods.

Scrap Metal Thief Strikes at Farm

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police are investigating the theft of copper wire from an irrigation system at a farm. Michael Hayes, on June 9th, reported the theft at the request of his insurance company to cover the $10,000 cost of replacing the wire.


A sheriff’s deputy met the 55-year old Hayes in the Kingsford Heights area and was escorted to where the theft occurred on farmland along County Road 700 East near County Road 1125 South.  About 1,300 feet of one inch in diameter copper wire was removed from the top of the irrigation system.


Hayes, who lives along Koontz Lake, reported the theft occurred sometime between September of last year and June 8th.


So far, no leads have been reported in the case.


Authorities stated that whoever is responsible, if arrested, will be charged with theft as a Level 6 felony (which is punishable in Indiana by a six-to-30 month sentence).

Daring Rescue on Indiana Tollway

(Elkhart County, IN) - There was a harrowing rescue on the Indiana Tollway Friday.


An accident happened just before noon on a westbound 80/90 bridge overpass in Elkhart County. A Penske rental moving truck rear-ended a Jeep that was being pulled behind an RV. The RV had pulled to the left shoulder in the middle of slow-moving traffic in a construction area.


The Penske truck bounced between the Jeep and the guardrail, coming to rest with the cab dangling precariously off the bridge, over 30 feet in the air.


An Elkhart Fire Department tower ladder truck was summoned to rescue the trapped occupants. Firefighters extended the ladder all the way from the eastbound bridge, over rushing waters below. A man and a woman were returned to solid ground unharmed.


No other injuries were reported. Tollway lanes were restricted for a little over two hours.

Philanthropy Leaders Gather in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte played host to dozens of philanthropy leaders from around the state this week.


The Indiana Philanthropy Alliance held a two-day board meeting here in La Porte. The IPA represents foundations and grantmaking institutions that invest over $2 billion annually. It’s the first time the group has chosen to meet in northwest Indiana. Unity Foundation of LaPorte County and the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte hosted the meeting. They made use of the Healthcare Foundation’s new conference center on East Shore Parkway.


IPA Board Chair Maggi Spartz of Unity Foundation expressed her excitement, saying, "Through our collaborative efforts, we have witnessed tangible change and progress, and we are eager to share these inspiring stories with our esteemed colleagues from across Indiana." Maria Fruth of HFL and IPA board member, added, "We are delighted to host the IPA Board meeting at HFL Conference & Learning Center. This is a great opportunity to welcome members from throughout the state and showcase the philanthropic work in our community.”


On Wednesday, participants visited the Michigan City area. Stops included the future site of the large-scale multi-use facility at You Are Beautiful property, the Lubeznik Center for the Arts, Washington Park Zoo, the NIPSCO coal generating station, Mount Baldy at Indiana Dunes National Park, the STAR Center-- a cutting-edge nonprofit co-working space-- and Michigan City's portion of the South Shore Double Track project.


On Thursday, they turned their attention to La Porte and lived the lake life. Attendees explored a variety of HFL-funded Healthy Living projects, including the Chessie Trail, Stone Lake Beach with its accessible kayak launch and new beach access mat. They also visited Unity Park, a two-acre park on Pine Lake, dedicated in 2016 as a gift to the City from the Unity Foundation of La Porte County. 

Trooper Busy With Three Drug Arrests in One Day

(Porter County, IN) - One Indiana State Police trooper was busy with drug busts earlier this week. He made three of them in a single shift.


On Monday morning a little before 8 a.m. the officer pulled over a VW Jetta on I-94 near Chesterton. In the trunk, nearly two pounds of cocaine was recovered. The driver from Aurora, Illinois and the passenger from Jalisco, Mexico were taken to Porter County Jail.


Later in the afternoon, the same officer pulled over a Toyota Scion on I-80. After detecting a strong odor, the trooper found 17 pounds of marijuana products. That driver was charged and released.

Food Bank to Make June Deliveries in La Porte This Week

(La Porte County, IN) - The Food Bank of Northern Indiana will be making their rounds in the area this week.


On Monday, June 12th they’ll be at the La Porte County Fairgrounds from 1– 3 p.m., or while supplies last. That distribution is sponsored by HealthLinc and will serve 200 households.

On Wednesday, June 14th the Food Bank will set up in LaCrosee. The location is the Apostolic Christian Church. The time is 10 a.m. – Noon, or while supplies last. That distribution is sponsored by United Way of La Porte County and will serve 150 households.

As usual, these are drive-through distributions of pre-boxed and pre-bagged items, provided on a first-come, first-served basis with one per household.

Farmers Market Focusing on Inclusion

(La Porte, IN) - The Farmed and Forged Market will be happening in downtown La Porte again Sunday, rain or shine.


Organizers have announced an option to make the market even more inclusive to the general public.


Starting tomorrow, SNAP benefits will be honored.  This will allow those utilizing the national food-assistance program to purchase healthy, locally-produced foods.


Select vendors will accept SNAP benefits to purchase items such as fruit and vegetables; breads and cereals; meats, fish and poultry; as well as eggs and dairy. Just stop by the Farmed & Forged booth to swipe your debit card and receive vouchers.


The market takes place every Sunday between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on Monroe St. between Lincolnway and State St.


This Sunday, in addition to about 20 local vendors, a few area nonprofits will be setting up. PFLAG will be sharing information about their upcoming PRIDE event, while the Michigan City Black Business Association will have information about their Juneteenth event happening next weekend. The Michiana Humane Society is the designated nonprofit beneficiary this month. Due to the likelihood of rain, a cooking demonstration has been postponed until next Sunday.

New Prairie Wins It All

(West Lafayette, IN) - New Prairie High School history was made Friday night. The girls’ softball team brought home the school’s first team state championship.


The Lady Cougars held off Tri-West Hendricks for a 4-2 victory at Purdue’s Bittinger Stadium in West Lafayette.


Senior Makayla Collins hit a homer in the first inning to put the Lady Cougars up early. Tri-West answered right away, tying the game to end the first.


There was a hint of controversy in the second inning, as junior Emily Mrozinski hit a long ball that was ruled foul.


In the middle innings, the two teams traded runs. The Lady Bruins took the lead in the third. In the fourth, Abby Robakowski stole third base on a heads-up play but was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice ground ball. Mrozinski came through with an RBI single, scoring pinch runner Aria Gayton.


New Prairie scored twice in the sixth following a trio of Tri-West errors.  Mrozinski struck again, driving in a run with a base hit.


Tri-West staged a late rally in the bottom of the seventh. With two runners on base and one out, sophomore pitching phenom Ava Geyer struck out the last two batters to win the game. Geyer fanned nine on the night and out-pitched Tri-West’s Audrey Lowry, who has committed to play for recent NCAA National Champion Oklahoma.


Only four teams from New Prairie have made it to the State Finals, including this year’s football team. But this one is the first to return victorious. At about half past midnight, the team bus, escorted by police cars and fire trucks, took victory laps through Rolling Prairie and New Carlisle, before bringing home their first-ever team championship trophy.

Late Tax Payment Challenged

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte man is upset, claiming he paid his property taxes on time but was charged extra for being late. Bob Vaughn took his complaint to the La Porte County Commissioners on Wednesday.


Vaughn pleaded his case, saying he paid on May 10th when he dropped a check into a drop box outside the courthouse in La Porte. The deadline was May 10th, but Vaughn was considered late because he didn’t place his payment into the box until after business hours and the box had been emptied.


However, Vaughn said the printed deadline on the property tax documents and drop box mentions nothing about time.


“The box doesn’t say it has to be paid by four o’clock.  The documents I get from the county doesn’t say it has to be paid by four o’clock,” he said.


Vaughn said he explained the situation to a county employee, who told him he would have to pay a penalty of five-percent of his property tax bill,  then 10-percent if he’s late with the late fee.


“That’s crap,” he said.


Commissioner Rich Mrozinski told him it’s up the county assessor and county treasurer to decide whether to grant him a waiver and would look into the situation with both office holders.


“I think you have a legitimate complaint,” he said.

New Home for Dog After Long Stay at Shelter

(Michigan City, IN) - A dog has finally been adopted after spending well over a year at the Michiana Humane Society in Michigan City.


“Duke” arrived just after Christmas of 2021 when his owner passed away, where he was allowed to play with volunteers and staff members while being cared for on weekends by a foster mom.


However, he was still having bouts of kennel stress, which created doubt on whether he would ever find a new home. This doubt extended further, begging the question as to if his prolonged stay at the shelter was worth it considering what he was going through, per MHS Executive Director Johanna Humbert.


Over the Memorial Day weekend however, Humbert said a man came in to meet another dog, only to hit it off with Duke instead. A few days later, the man took the dog home after the adoption process was completed.


Humbert has thanked the many people who did their part to help Dule find relief from the stress of being at a kennel for so long, and pushed for his continued care.


“It took each and every one to get him to adoption day,” she said.

Charges in Beating of Woman

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man could face time in prison for the serious injuries he allegedly inflicted on a woman during two beatings.


Thomas Lopez, 41, has been charged with ten counts including domestic battery, strangulation, criminal confinement and possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.


According to court documents, the first attack occurred inside a home on the night of June 1st where police had prior responded to calls related to domestic violence.


The woman, slapped and punched in the face before being worked over with a baseball bat, was struck across the head with a large flashlight and an ashtray. Lopez then strangled her on a bed until she lost consciousness.


The woman lost consciousness again the following morning while being strangled by Lopez, seemingly still upset with her. After regaining consciousness, he started beating her again with the baseball bat, breaking one of her legs.


Police said the woman may have been confined at some point, judging by locks on the inside and outside all of the bedroom doors, alongside signs listing rules in the kitchen.


Lopez was still being held as of Friday on $25,000 bond.

Lady Cougars Play for State Title Tonight

The New Prairie girls’ softball team is gearing up for tonight’s Class 3A state championship game.


The Cougars (30-5) take on Tri-West Hendricks (27-5) at Purdue University in West Lafayette.


A victory would mean the first ever sports team from New Prairie bringing home a state title.


Several teams in other sports in the New Prairie program, including softball, have reached the state finals in the past but never captured the title.


The game tonight is at 7 o’clock central time.


 All four state championship games will stream exclusively at IHSAAtv.org via pay-per-view for $15 per game or $20 for all games.

Wildfires Impacting Hoosier Air Quality

(Indianapolis, IN) - The wildfires in Canada are having a negative impact on the air in Indiana. While not nearly as hazy as the smoke has been in places like New York City and Philadelphia, “the stagnant weather pattern continues to move smoke from Canadian wildfires across the state,” per the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.


As a result, IDEM has issued an Air Quality Action Day for Friday since high levels of fine particles in the air are in the forecast. Air quality statewide may continue to be impacted over the weekend.


Hoosiers are encouraged to visit smogwatch.IN.gov to view current and forecasted conditions and subscribe to email alerts.


IDEM encourages everyone to help reduce air particles by doing things such as carpooling, using public transportation and avoiding drive-throughs. The particles themselves consist of microscopic dust, soot, and liquid that can settle deep into the lungs and not be easily exhaled.


People at risk are especially vulnerable after several days of high exposure.

Home Again at Prison for Career Dealer

(South Bend, IN) - A heroin dealer from La Porte is now set to spend a considerable time in federal prison.


Donta Bridges, 39, has been sentenced at U.S. District Court in South Bend to 210 months in prison, followed by six years of supervised release. He was convicted by a jury in October of heroin distribution, attempted heroin distribution, possession with intent to distribute controlled substances and being a felon in possession of a firearm.


According to documents in the case, Bridges, in the fall of 2019, was selling heroin and other substances like fentanyl, methamphetamine and xylazine, the latter of all being best known as a horse tranquilizer. He had even told a customer to be careful consuming the drugs, knowing someone had previously overdosed on the narcotics he had sold.


Heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and a gun were found during a search of his residence.


Bridges has two prior felony convictions of possession with intent to deliver crack cocaine, as well as heroin distribution.


This case was investigated by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives with the assistance of the LaPorte County Drug Task Force.

Life Saving Grants Top Six Figures

(La Porte County, IN) - People should feel safer thanks to the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte.


HFL awarded 48 grants this year to organizations for purchasing Automated External Defibrillators under its “When Seconds Count” AED initiative.


The life saving devices are used on people suffering from cardiac arrest and, if necessary, a shock is applied to try and reestablish an effective heart rhythm.

The grant recipients this year were:

American Legion Post 83   

Anam Cara Stables   

Beats for Bub, Colton Davis Foundation  

Citizens Concerned for the Homeless   

Dunes Arts Foundation   

First Lutheran Church   

Foundation Property Management   

Friendship Botanic Gardens   

Independent Cat Society   

Kankakee Township Volunteer Fire Department   

La Lumiere School   

La Porte Community School Corporation   

La Porte County Historical Society Museum   

Michigan City Area Schools   

Michigan City Pop Warner Football and Cheer   

MSD of New Durham Township   

New Hope Missionary Baptist Church   


Service League of Michigan City

Solid Waste District of La Porte County   

St. Paul's Episcopal Church

Town of Long Beach

Tri-Township Consolidated School Corporation 


The total amount awarded this year was slightly more than $102,000.


Since 2017, HFL has awarded 185 AED’s to the community, with the total amount of all AED and CPR-related grants awarded since then exceeding $435,000, HFL officials said.

Orchestra Playing at Friendship Gardens

(Michigan City, IN) - The La Porte County Symphony Orchestra will present “Music Under the Stars” on July 16th at the Friendship Botanic Gardens’ Celebration Pavilion in Michigan City.


The concert begins at 7:30 PM and admission is free to the public. 


LCSO Music Director, Dr. Carolyn Watson, will lead the orchestra in selections of marches, music with an “Americana” theme as well as featuring the 2022 Hoosier Star winners, Savannah Holley and Julia Thorn.


Holley will be performing “Poor Wandering One” from The Pirates of Penzance and Thorn will be performing “In My Dreams” from Anastasia


“We would like to thank NIPSCO/NISOURCE for sponsoring this concert as they have been long time sponsors for Hoosier Star,” said LCSO Executive Director, Tim King. 


"The performance  will serve as the finale to the LCSO’s 50th Anniversary season.”


LCSO officials said the Gardens’ gates open at 6:30 PM. A cash bar and light refreshments will be available for purchase on site. Guests are allowed to bring in their own picnic baskets.


There will be lawn chairs on site available for seating, but guests are encouraged and welcomed to bring their own chairs and blankets, LCSO officials said.

Store Surveillance Catches Security Camera Thief

(Michigan City, IN) - Police say a La Porte woman has gone back to having sticky fingers.


Danielle Jones, 45, has been charged with two Level 6 felony counts of theft.


According to court documents, she took two outdoor security camera systems along with miscellaneous cell phone accessories from the Menards in Michigan City. The thefts occurred two days apart from each other at the end of January.


On one occasion, Jones allegedly came in with an empty-looking purse and later left without paying in spite of her handbag's seemingly fuller appearance. She fled in a dark blue four-door sedan each time, per the authorities.


Several weeks into the investigation, an officer reviewing in-store video surveillance recognized the suspect as Jones due to previous law enforcement-related encounters.


The charges were then elevated from a isdemeanor to a felony because of a prior conviction for burglary in Tennessee in 2012.

Local Charges Over Taylor Swift Obsession

(Michigan City, IN) - A Long Beach man was still being held Wednesday in the LaPorte County Jail on allegations that include being stopped multiple times by security in his bid to reach superstar recording artist Taylor Swift.


Mitchell Taebel, 36, of 2020 Golden Gate Drive is charged in LaPorte Superior Court 1 in Michigan City with Level 5 Felony Stalking and Level 6 Felony Intimidation (along with Invasion of Privacy and Harassment), both of which classify as misdemeanors.


The man was returned to the jail Tuesday following his initial hearing, after Judge Jamie Oss denied his request to be released on his own recognizance. Taebel is currently being held on $15,000 cash only bond.


The 33-year old Swift is in the midst of her wildly popular Eras Tour, which included three recent performances at Soldier Field in Chicago and upcoming shows this Friday and Saturday in Detroit.


According to court documents, his alleged criminal activity beginning on March 25th included sending a voice message to her official Instagram account stating that he "would happily wear a bomb if he cannot be with his soul mate.”


The following day, he allegedly left a message for Swift’s father claiming to be her “soulmate" then sent her a picture the following week on Instagram of someone firing a handgun at a gun range, with a message threatening harm to Swift and all of her dancers.


In another message to the pop artist, he said “Y’all get ready you thugs because we’re going to cancel this damn tour and still destroy you."  Attached to that message was a picture of a man holding an AR-15 rifle.


In the weeks that followed, there were also messages from Taebel expressing a desire to meet with the artist, for them to be together, and to then “shoot ourselves if we had to,” per further evidence from the court.


On May 5th, police said Taebel traveled to some luxury condominiums in Nashville, Tennessee believing Swift was there and, while claiming to be a “popular TV host," asked security to let her know he was in the lobby.


He allegedly fled when police were called, before heading to Nissan Stadium in Nashville where Swift was scheduled to perform that evening.  He was near a VIP area inside the stadium upon being recognized from a list of security threats and then removed for safety reasons.


After returning home, he allegedly posted a message wishing death upon those who think it’s illegal to go to where somebody lives to see if they want to meet.


Authorities state Taebel also maintained thoughts of him being elected President and Swift becoming his First Lady.


According to court documents, Swift’s management team obtained a temporary restraining order, which was served to Taebel on May 13th. He allegedly violated the order by posting more messages about Swift and tagging her on social media, having accounts dedicated to Swift on both YouTube and Facebook.

Auditor Defends Himself Against Emails

(La Porte County, IN) - More political fireworks erupted at today’s La Porte County Commissioners meeting, where La Porte area resident Patrick Meaney presented emails that he claims show La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz has weaponized his office.


The emails are about an $11,000 payment the commissioners approved for services provided by former county government attorney Shaw Friedman. Stabosz, though, still has possession of the check.


Meaney said the recent emails revealed Stabosz is not mailing the check until county government pays his current legal bills from a lawsuit filed against him by Friedman over withholding payment from him on previous checks approved by the commissioners.


“Basically, what we have here is an auditor who is using his office as a tool to withhold payment to bills that have been approved by the commissioners.  Vindictive,” he said.


Stabosz said past payments he withheld from Friedman were over services he questioned as valid while auditing his invoices.   


He said Friedman never provided the information he sought for him to try and justify those services. Stabosz would not say if he has any questions about the billings from Friedman he’s presently withholding payment on.


However, Stabosz said he’s being sued personally by Friedman over the previous billings when he should actually be sued in his capacity as auditor. He said the county council should be paying his legal tab since he was acting as auditor in the scrutiny he applied to Friedman’s billings to make sure tax dollars are spent properly.


His unpaid legal tab currently stands at $9,600.


“It’s inappropriate for the auditor not to have the support of the finance authority, the council, and the commission when he’s trying to protect La Porte County from a rogue vendor."


Commissioner Rich Mrozinski threatened to adjourn the meeting if Stabosz continued to speak but Stabosz insisted he would resume speaking once the meeting was called back into session.


He was allowed to have his entire say. 


Stabosz was often accused of targeting Friedman for political reasons, allegations he still steadfastly denies. 


In an out of court settlement reached with the county commissioners late in 2021, Stabosz agreed to pay Friedman more than $26,000 from payments he withheld but not the $2,500 he questioned on that billing statement.


Friedman is suing Stabosz personally over the previous billings, claiming his actions as auditor are driven by his personal feelings against him. However, Stabosz said some of the work listed on his invoices fell outside the scope of his duties as county attorney in areas like politics.


Friedman maintains all of the work on his invoices came under the wide range of his responsibilities as county attorney. 

Alligators and Snakes Popular at Zoo

(Michigan City, IN) - There are currently three alligators on display at the Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City, but another has escaped the enclosure and is on a mission: to teach the public.


Julia Cole, an education curator at the lakefront zoo, has been presenting the fourth, roughly two-year-old alligator to help educate schoolchildren and the public at large about these often misunderstood creatures, as well as other reptiles the facility houses, like snakes. 


Cole brought the young gator into our studios recently to "appear" on the Sound Off radio program (in addition to other residents of the zoo, including a snake).


During the program, the alligator, feeling threatened, made noises akin to a duck call. In the wild, Cole noted, the sound alerts the mother who responds by carrying her babies from the nest to a good hiding spot for protection from predators.


“She stays nearby so if something is coming like another alligator or birds or raccoons or anything coming to get the baby alligators, they would make that sound and mom would come running to defend them,” she said.


Among the other reptilian creatures on display include corn snakes, which Cole described as being not venomous yet able to squeeze their bodies in order to kill prey.


Currently, the Washington Park Zoo is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. seven days a week, where attendance last year purportedly exceeded 100,000 people.

Man Survives Train Crash

(Berrien County, MI) - A driver somehow survived being struck by a train while inside his vehicle in southwest Michigan late Tuesday morning near U.S. 12 outside Galien.


Police say the driver southbound on Pardee Road veered around the crossing arms and was hit by the westbound train.


The 44-year-old Three Oaks man, whose name was not released, was taken to Memorial Hospital in South Bend. He was reported in serious but stable condition.


The car was virtually left in two separate pieces along the rails.


Berrien County Police said the collision remains under investigation.

Online Auction for Historic Civic Seats

(La Porte, IN) - The public will get a chance to own some of the original wooden seats in the near century old Civic Auditorium in La Porte as a one-week online auction for the seats is scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. on Friday and will end at 12 p.m. on June 16th.


Civic Auditorium Director Brent Binversie said 270 of the 1,382 seats in the building where the late comedian Bob Hope once performed, will go out for bid. There are just three single seats in the building, while the rest come in sections of mostly 13 seats held together on a single steel frame.


Just the single seats and sections of two to seven seats along with a handful of 13 seat sections will be available for bidding. Binversie said the rest of the seats will be turned over to Larson Danielson Construction, the LaPorte based company hired to take out the seats as part of the final stage of a $6 million modernization of the building.  Larson Danielson was involved in constructing the Civic Auditorium completed in 1929.


“We’re very happy to have them involved in the renovation project here in 2023,” he said.


Work on removing the old seats is scheduled to begin June 12th. They will be replaced with plastic seats that are two inches wider with cushions and cup holders. In turn, the seating aisles and steps will be widened. Hand rails in the aisles are also going to be installed.


Binversie said the idea is for the audience to feel more comfortable and safer while attending concerts, sporting events and other functions.


He said the upcoming improvements, which include air conditioning, will better position the Civic Auditorium booked more for entertainment by the city in recent years for hosting additional events particularly during the summer.


Binversie believes there will be a good response to the auction because of the history of the seats. He said the seats also carry sentimental value for people who used to attend LaPorte High School basketball games years ago when the facility was the home of the Slicers or some other major event or special occasion.


“We have received a lot of calls about when they are going up for sale,” he said.


The bidding will start at $50 for single seats and climb until reaching $350 for 13 seat sections. Money collected from the auction will be placed into the general fund of the Park Department, which oversees the Civic Auditorium.


Big names acts who performed there in more recent times include country music superstars Randy Travis and Clint Black along with the late Davey Jones of the Monkees.


Park Department Superintendent Mark Schreiber said Charlie Finley brought his World Series champion Oakland A’s to the Civic Auditorium for a banquet in the early 70’s.


Finley, who died in 1996, lived just outside LaPorte.


“I think it’s a great opportunity for those who want a piece of LaPorte history to be able to own it,” he said.


The public can find the auction at laportecivicauditorium.com or on the Facebook pages of the Civic Auditorium, the Park Department and the City of LaPorte.

Orchestra Undergoing Leadership Change

(La Porte, IN) - There’s going to be a new person in charge of the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra.


The LCSO Board of Directors has named Emily Yiannias as its next Executive Director, beginning on June 22nd. She will succeed Tim King, who’s retiring July 16th after five years as Executive Director.


Yiannias, a resident of Valparaiso, is a former Adjunct Music Faculty member of both Valparaiso University and the University of Notre Dame and is now affiliated with Opportunity Enterprises. She earned her Bachelor of Music degree from DePauw University and her Master of Music degree from Northwestern University Bienen School of Music. 


Yiannias is also a vocal soloist, performing with many ensembles in the NW Indiana and Chicago regions. 


“I’m thrilled and honored to join the LCSO, an organization that is central to the cultural fabric of Northwest Indiana and its surrounding communities,” she said.


King said he was happy with the choice of his successor.


“She possesses the combination of musical knowledge, fundraising experience as well as the temperament to lead the LCSO into the next era,” he said.


Yiannias will work side by side with King for four weeks to ensure a smooth transition, LCSO officials said.

City Proceeds Toward Annexation

(La Porte, IN) - The City of La Porte is moving forward in the process of annexing the 39 North Conservancy District as last night, the city council voted to accept the signatures on a petition from property owners asking to be annexed.


Signatures were obtained from more than 51 percent of owners with taxable property in the district as required under state law to move forward, per City Attorney Nick Otis.


Otis also told council members accepting the petition is one of the legal steps that must be taken in what’s going to be at least a several month process.


“Per statute, this needs to be filed with the city and, by accepting it, you’re deeming it filed with the city of La Porte,” he said.


Otis said other steps must now be taken in the coming weeks and months before the city council can officially vote on whether to annex.  He said the requirements include a public hearing before the city council makes its decision.The district consists of close to 1,000 acres along Indiana 39 between Severs Road and the Indiana Toll Road.  


During the public comment portion of the meeting, 39 North Conservancy District resident Jody Slabaugh claimed the city was in violation because it was following a not-as-strict state law governing voluntary annexation. He alleged the city initiated the effort and, therefore, must follow the law governing that approach, which has more requirements such as the presentation of a fiscal plan on providing services and more public outreach meetings.


“It is my hope that 39 North quits negotiating with the city and proceeds to court.  It’s not a voluntary annexation,” he said.


Otis said copies of the fiscal plan once approved by the city council will be mailed to every property owner in the district.


“The city is not hiding anything.  We are following the statute.  We have nothing to hide,” he said.

Circus Coming to LaCrosse

(LaCrosse, IN) - The Culpepper & Merriweather Circus is coming to LaCrosse on June 8th.


The tented, one-ring circus will perform two 90-minute shows att 5:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.


“No seat is further than 40 feet away from the ring, so you don’t have to worry about missing any of the action,” officials said.


The circus will include Big Cats presented by Trey Key, Simone on the trapeze, the 10th-generation Loyal Bareback Horse Riders, the Perez Daredevil Duo on the Tight Rope and Wheel of Destiny by Elizabeth Ayala juggling with her feet.


Tickets can be purchased online at https://cm-circus.square.site/, while discounted advance tickets can be purchased in LaCrosse at The Hangar, Heinold & Feller, and the LaCrosse Public Library and in Westville at Old Time Country Market, officials said.


Online discounted tickets are also available until 10:00 p.m. the night before the circus arrives. On the day of the show, tickets can ONLY be purchased at the box office at full price.


Advance tickets are $13 apiece and $8 for senior citizens. Tickets for children under 2 are free.


The circus is sponsored by the LaCrosse Lions Club, which will keep a portion of the proceeds.

OWI Arrest in Chase

(La Porte County, IN) - An alegedly impaired driver was chased by police into La Porte County earlier this morning.


According to La Porte County Police, the pursuit began in St. Joseph County when the driver, spotted driving erratically, ignored an officer’s attempt to make a traffic stop. The officer, following the fleeing driver into La Porte County, lost sight of the vehicle near Hudson Lake.


A La Porte County Police officer, upon being given a description of the vehicle, located the suspect westbound on U.S. 20 near Rolling Prairie.  After witnessing the vehicle drifting over the center and fog lines several times, the officer then tried stopping the vehicle, which kept going at speeds ranging from above 60 mph to more than 90 mph.


Eventually, the driver was caught when stop sticks flattened the tires on the fleeing vehicle just west of U.S. 20 and Indiana 39.


Police said Armon Braswell, 22, of Chicago was arrested for Operating while Intoxicated after refusing a certified breathalyzer test, as well as for Resisting Law Enforcement.


There were allegedly four partially-consumed alcoholic beverage containers in the vehicle.

Slicer Athlete Now Head Football Coach

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte High School has signed on another head football coach who, as fate would have it, is a veteran of the local gridiron. 


Austin Epple, who been an assistant football coach for the Slicers since 2018, was approved by The La Porte School Board to act as interim head coach for the upcoming season during a meeting on Thursday. He replaces Bob James, a former longtime assistant football coach who served as interim head coach  last season.


“We are very excited to have Austin lead our football program.  He has a contagious energy about him and will be a great motivator and communicator,” said LPHS Athletic Director Steve Santana.


Epple will be formally introduced during the school board meeting on June 12th.


The 2012 LPHS graduate excelled in football and track as a Slicer athlete, going on to play football at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice.


Currently, Epple is a school resource officer in La Porte working on behalf of the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office.

OWI Crash at Family Express

(La Porte County, IN) - A police officer witnessed a single vehicle crash last night at a Michigan City area convenience store and ultimately the driver for being impaired.


The incident ocurred outside the Family Express at U.S. 20 and Johnson Road.


La Porte County Police said the driver was traveling slowly through the intersection when she abruptly turned southbound on Johnson Road before quickly heading into the parking lot of the Family Express. After some more erratic driving in the parking lot, she struck a metal barrier next to one of the gas pumps.


Athena Green, 37, of Niles, Michigan told the officer she had two Moscow Mules at a brew pub in New Buffalo about two hours prior to the crash. However, her blood alcohol level was more than two times the legal limit.

Recall Effort Fails to Clear First Hurdle

(New Buffalo, MI) - Another attempt to recall the mayor of New Buffalo has failed to clear the first hurdle.


The Berrien County Election Board on May 31st failed to approve the language on a petition seeking to recall John Humphrey over the dramatic increase in water and sewer bills.


The board felt the language stating the reason was not clear enough for voters to understand when deciding whether to remove Humphrey prior to the end of his four-year term.


The petition stated Humphrey should be recalled because of his decision at a city council meeting on June 20th, 2022 where he voted to approve updating the schedule of water and sewer rates effective August 1st, 2022.


The board felt the language was not factual because it sought to recall Humphrey as council member and mayor.


Humphrey was elected to the city council in November of 2020 and later appointed mayor by a majority of the city council.


The board also cited typos in the language that make it unclear.


“I thought they did a thorough job in review the petition and language based on state statute,” Humphrey said.


Humphrey said the language on the petition also made it seem as if he acted alone in raising the water and sewer rates.


He said the vote by the city council was unanimous after following the standard process used in decision making.


“We showed a tremendous amount of due diligence in how this decision was made. To act like this was an individual action or something I did by myself or took lightly is completely untrue,” he said.


During the hearing, Humphrey presented language he believed was more well-rounded for voters to make an educated decision on a petition.


His proposed language states the increase in water and sewer fees was a unanimous decision by the city council and came at the recommendation of the city manager and the city’s financial advisors to comply with the city’s legal requirements as a member of the Galien River Sanitary District Sewer Authority.


The election board did not respond to the language he suggested.


Humphrey said most of the rate hike is from increasing the ready to serve fee on sewer service from $14 to $60.


He said the increase was needed because rates hadn’t been raised enough since the late 1990’s to keep up with the city’s share of the rising cost for operating and maintaining the waste water treatment plant.


New Buffalo, New Buffalo Township, Chikaming Township, Lake Township and Bridgman form the Galien River Sanitary District, which operates and maintains the plant also serving Weesaw Township.


Humphrey said the city’s fund used for plant operation and maintenance had more than $300,000 in red ink annually in recent years because of inflation outpacing the amount collected in sewer fees.


Property tax revenue was allocated to cover the yearly sewer fund deficits, he said.


Humphrey said the sewer fund now has a surplus, which frees up property tax dollars once servicing the deficit to go toward roads and other projects in the city.


The recall petition was filed by New Buffalo resident and business owner John Taylor.


Taylor said chances are the language will be revised on another recall petition in hopes of gaining approval from the election board.


“I think we’ll have another run at it. I believe that to be the case,” he said.


Election board approval of language on any recall petition in Berrien County opens the door to a signature drive.


A required number of signatures from registered voters in a community where a recall is sought must be obtained by petitioners and validated by the election board for a special election to be called.


Taylor said Humphrey did not formally act alone in deciding to raise water and sewer rates but it’s his agenda a majority of the city council seems determined to put through ever since he was elected.


He said a ban on additional short term rentals in residential areas is one of Humphrey’s agenda items the council adopted last year. Taylor helped obtain signatures in a recall attempt of Humphrey last year over his support of the new the short term rental cap.


The drive fell short when the Berrien County Clerk’s Office threw out enough signatures to cause the amount to fall below the 219 verified signatures required for a special election.


Taylor said a lot of people, including business owners, are struggling from increases of 50-percent of more on their bi-monthly utility bills.  He said a better decision would have been to phase in the increase over a several year period to prepare water and sewer customers now left suffering from “sticker shock.”


Time is running out for opponents of Humphrey to have him removed from office early. In Michigan, elected officials in Michigan cannot be the target of a recall during their first year and final year in office. Humphrey will begin the final year of his current term in November, and has not decided whether to seek reelection.


Taylor said a lot of citizens are upset with Humphrey and his “cavalier attitude” on decision making despite how the public feels.


“There’s a fairly large ground swell of volunteers who want to see this go forward,” Taylor said.

Driver Flees Building Crash

(Westville, IN) - A hit and run driver crashed into a building in Westville over the weekend on Friday night at Parkman Storage Units.


La Porte County Police said it appears the vehicle turned from Indiana 2 onto Coulter Road, before immediately leaving the roadway.


The vehicle then traveled across a rock-filled ditch before crashing into two units and damaging others due to the vehicle making contact with interior walls once inside the structure.


“There’s probably at least five units up there that have damage from this one hit,” he said.


The vehicle traveled at an angle for about 50 feet before making impact with the storage building.


Parkman said the vehicle was traveling fast enough to drag more than a dozen limestone rocks measuring six inches in diameter out of an eight foot wide ditch to a nearby parking area.


He estimated the cost of repairs at about $7,500. 


So far, no suspects have been reported.  Parkman said he’s willing to give $500 to anyone with information leading to the driver.


It’s believed the crash occurred sometime between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Stranded Jet Skiers Recued

(La Porte, IN) - Two stranded jet-skiers were safely pulled from the water in La Porte when, at around 8 p.m. last night, a caller reported a capsized jet-ski a good distance from the shoreline on Pine Lake.


La Porte firefighters, using a rescue boat docked at Unity Park, went out and located the jet-ski along with two men in the water.  They were wearing lifejackets, fortunately, and placed on the rescue boat.


The jet-skiers, in their late teens-to-early 20’s. were described by firefighters as cold, tired, and scared.  They refused medical attention.


La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder said both individuals were on the same jet-ski when it overturned due to lake water somehow finding its way into the engine compartment.


“They noticed they started having mechanical problems with the jet-ski. It died on them and then it began taking on water,” he said, noting they were probably in the water for about 30 minutes.


Firefighters towed the jet ski back to the launch, where the victims put it back on their trailer for the ride home.

Cougars Advance to State, Robakowski Breaks Record

(Monticello, IN) - New Prairie is heading to the girls’ softball state finals following back-to-back wins at the Twin Lakes semi-state on Saturday.


In their first game, the Lady Cougars pounced on Hanover Central. Tied at one, New Prairie broke the game open in the third with a six-run barrage. The lead continued to grow, with New Prairie winning 12-2.

The highlight of the game came in the fifth inning with senior Abby Robakowski’s 23rd home run. The bomb to center field set the state record for most home runs in a season. Robakowski and junior Emily Mrozinski led the team with three RBIs each. Sophomore pitcher Eva Geyer struck out twelve batters in five innings.


In the regional championship, New Prairie clawed their way to a 1-0 win against Leo High School. It was underclassmen who came through with great plays in a clutch situation. After Geyer reached first with a single in the fourth inning, fellow sophomore Mya Dobrucki entered the game as a pinch runner. Following another Cougar hit by Mrozinski, sophomore Ella Chelminiak put down a perfect bunt to score Dobrucki for the game’s only run. Geyer gave up only two hits and one walk, with nine strike outs in yet another dominant pitching performance.


New Prairie will travel to Purdue University for the state championship game at Bittinger Stadium. The Lady Cougars will face the Lady Bruins of Tri-West Hendricks (27-5) on Friday, June 9 at 7pm Central time.

Cougars Fall Short But Optimistic About Future

(Plymouth, IN) - In Saturday’s Class 3A regional game between New Prairie and Andrean, both teams scored in bunches, but Andrean scored one bunch more to end the Cougars’ season.


Andrean grabbed a commanding lead early, putting up five runs in the second inning. Undaunted, New Prairie scored four of their own two innings later, but that was all they could muster. Andrean answered right back with four more, resulting in a final score of 9-4.


New Prairie finished the season with a record of 22-8-1 and a sectional championship. They lose six seniors: Grady Kepplin, Evan Haws, Francisco Bibian, Dallas Ryans, Ethan Hixon, and Gavin Gonzalez. But head coach Mark Schellinger says his team has a promising future.


“We have a real good mix of young and old,” he said. “We start four seniors, but we also start multiple juniors, one sophomore, and one freshman. I think we’ve gotten to a point in the program where we’ve got a good thing going. I think our program is heading in a good direction. Our seniors did a great job of setting the tone this year. And our young guys have done a great job of stepping up, and are very capable of performing at the varsity level.”


Next season the Cougars look to build around the talents of ace pitcher Tyson Greenwood and offensive leaders Mason Braun and Reed Robinson.

Penn Ends Slicer Season in La Porte Regional

(La Porte) - Defending 4A State Champion Penn banged out thirteen hits while allowing the Slicers only one, defeating La Porte 6-2 in Saturday’s Regional Championship Game at Schreiber Field.  Lake Central defeated Valparaiso 3-0 in the morning game and will face Penn in a four team 4A semi state at a location yet to be determined next Saturday.


The Slicers were the visiting team and got off to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Leadoff man Ben Dubbs dumped a single into center. Kade Flores laid a sacrifice bunt down in front of home plate. Penn catcher Zach Pelletier didn’t pick it up cleanly and Flores was safe at first putting runners on first and second for La Porte. After Drew Catron struck out, RJ Anglin hit a hard grounder to Penn third baseman RJ Cromartie. Penn got the force out at second but second baseman Colton Hudnall’s throw was wild to first allowing Dubbs to score giving the Slicers a 1-0 lead.


Penn came right back in the bottom of the inning. Cooper Hums singled up the middle and stole second. Slicer starter Anglin struck out Cam Dombrowski. Hums moved to third on a pass ball and scored on an Evan Tuesley base hit to tie the game at 1-1. Carter Moses threw out Tuesley trying to steal for the second out. A two out walk to Cromartie and a single to right by Pelletier put runners on the corners. Penn starting pitcher Adam Lehman singled to right to knock in Cromartie. It was 2-1 Penn after an inning.


La Porte went one two three in the top of the second and the Kingsmen picked up right where they left off. DH Casey Finn singled to lead the inning off. He was bunted to second by Hudnall and Hums flew out for the second out. The Kingsmen got an RBI single by Dombrowski, an RBI double by Tuesley and an RBI single by Cromartie to make it 5-1. Cody Ryden came in to relieve Anglin and got the final out of the inning.


Lehman had it on cruise control for Penn. He retired the Slicers in order in the third and fifth. In the fourth he hit Tommy Samuelson with a pitch but La Porte could not capitalize.


Penn picked up their sixth run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Ryden gave up a leadoff single to Hunter Morrett. Morrett advance to second on a ground out and scored on Hudnall’s RBI single making it 6-1.


The Slicers picked up an unearned run in the top of the sixth. Kade Flores reached on a two base throwing error by Cromartie. Lehman threw the ball into center field trying a pickoff, moving Flores to third. Catron bounced out to short driving in Flores making it 6-2.


Grant Olson entered the game for Ryden and tossed a scoreless bottom of the sixth. He gave up a single and struck out two.


In the Slicer seventh, pinch hitter AJ Mrozinske drew a walk with one out. DH Jax Land hit into to a 4-6-3 double play to end the game and the Slicer season.


Penn had a great offensive game plan against Slicer starter Anglin. They concentrated on hitting the ball to the opposite field as the touched up La Porte’s ace for five runs and seven hits in 1 2/3 innings. Though they had several solid hits they also dropped in several bloopers. All nine starters for Penn had at least one hit. Tuesley was 3-4 with a run and two RBI.


The Slicers, who were victims of a perfect game by Penn in the March season opener, managed only Dubbs’ single in the first. Both La Porte runs were unearned. The Kingsmen committed four errors.


Penn moves to the semi state with a 24-8 record. La Porte finishes 20-10. Ryden was named the Salisbury and Spence Player of the game on 96.7 The Eagle. He kept the Slicers in the game pitching 3 1/3 innings of one run, four hit baseball.


HTNN Editor Note:  We'd like to thank Chip Jones and Steve Mannering for not only calling the Slicer Baseball games on 96.7 The Eagle this season, but for also covering the major plays of the game for HometownNewsNow.com this season.   Thank you!

Cougars Capture First Boys' Golf Title

(La Porte, IN) - The New Prairie golf team made history by bringing home the school’s first sectional championship Friday.


New Prairie tallied a 343 total, beating second-place La Porte by 13 strokes. Hunter Zdyb paced the Cougars and the field with a 76, with Cole Shelton posting an 87. Owen Chalik (97), Gavin Goodman (91), and Brock Sinka (89) contributed in the victory.


As the other top-three finishers Friday, La Porte and John Glenn also advance to regionals, which will take place at Sandy Pines Golf Course in DeMotte on Thursday.

Summer Readers Off to Storyland

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte County Public Library is taking local readers on a trip though Storyland this summer. The annual Summer Reading Program is taking flight, and a launch party is happening Saturday afternoon.


“We’re calling our Summer Reading Program ‘A Trip Through Storyland,’” said youth librarian Jen Lux. It’s based on an interactive display on loan from the Minnesota Children’s Museum. The traveling exhibit immerses visitors in the world of three beloved picture books: The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and Where's Spot? by Eric Hill.


As usual, prizes for reading are a feature of the program. Readers keep track of their reading time on something like a bingo card. “Every time you track minutes and unlock a challenge,” says Lux, “you earn tickets.” Readers can place tickets into drawings for various prizes, which will be raffled at the end of the program in August.


To launch the program, a Summer Reading Block Party will happen Saturday afternoon. It’s an outdoor celebration of reading at the new Reading Wi-Fi Garden on the south side of the main branch. It takes place from 2-4 p.m. Kids can sign up for the reading program, get a free book, and even walk the red carpet. Because summer readers are superstars!

Accidents on 20 Mar Thursday Commutes

(La Porte County, IN) - Two accidents slowed traffic along US 20 in La Porte County Thursday—one in the morning and one in the afternoon.


Just after 7:00 a.m. first responders arrived at an accident across from the Family Express in Rolling Prairie. Police say a silver sedan and a black SUV collided when one of them pulled into traffic from the gas station. Officers at the scene say morning sun glare could have been a contributing factor.


Both vehicles came to rest off the roadway. Two people from the SUV were transported to a South Bend hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries. The occupants of the sedan walked away unharmed.


Later in the afternoon, another collision took place on 20 near the US 35 intersection. Westbound traffic was stopped for a time, but police say that accident was not as bad.

Bidding Opening Soon for Civic Seats

(La Porte, IN) - Admirers of the historic Civic Auditorium in La Porte will have the opportunity to own a piece of it forever.


The city will be accepting bids on the original seats being replaced soon with new, more comfortable seats.  Bids will start at anywhere from $50 to $350 for seats that come in sections ranging from one to 13 seats.


Although some people may be sad to see the old seats go, the new ones replacing them will make the building handicapped accessible and allow more people to experience the building and its charm, said Civic & Events Director Brett Binversie.


"As the Civic continues to host new events and welcome larger crowds, we must do what we can to accommodate all who walk through our doors," Binversie said.


He cited other reasons for replacing what some people believe help keep the history of the building alive.


"The new seats will provide more comfort for patrons and allow for the installation of handrails to make navigating the building safer and easier. Additionally, becoming ADA compliant opens us up to new funding sources which would empower us to grow and improve even more."


The link to the online auction will be posted on Civic Auditorium’s Facebook page and at laportecivicauditorium.com at 7 a.m. on June 9th.


Binversie said the bidding will end at noon on June 16th.


Anyone with questions may contact the Civic at 219-362-2325.

Pushback on Mayor's Annexation Bid

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody received pushback today after declaring the city has enough signatures to move forward with the process of annexing the 39 North Conservancy District.  This morning, the district board seemingly told the mayor "not so fast" if victory is what he’s trying to declare.  


Dermody made the announcement about having the necessary signatures the day after a city imposed May 31st deadline expired for property owners in the district to sign a petition in favor of annexation.


“We are excited to partner with the conservancy board and its residents to improve the infrastructure in this area and position the 39 North community for future growth,” he said.


In response, during their regularly scheduled meeting on Friday, the board voted not to further discuss permission to annex unless they're provided a fiscal plan on how the city will deliver services to district residents in the three years following annexation.


“The fiscal plan is required under statute so that both this board and the city council knows what’s the cost of taxpayers,” he said.


The city has offered $2 million to purchase the water and sewer lines the district paid $5.2 million to have installed over 20-years ago in exchange for the board approving a consent agreement for the city to annex.


The infrastructure worked to bring more industrial and residential growth to the district whose boundaries extend along Indiana 39 from the city limits to the Indiana Toll Road.


However, the district can no longer grow unless the water lines are replaced with larger ones to meet demand from more customers.  The city has presented a plan to finance what would be an over $10 million cost for adding water capacity to the system.  Currently, the district lacks the funding to pay for such improvements.


To return to the bargaining table, the board also wants to know if proceeds from a sale of the infrastructure can be given to district property owners in the form of credits on their water and sewer bills as compensation for their investment.


District Attorney Shaw Friedman said there is some reason to believe the funds might have to go to county government judging from a previous case law decision related to annexation.


“This board and the city council needs to know where’s that money go. Can it go out and be paid out as discounts to the freeholders of this district as I think folks would like to see or can it not,” he said.


Friedman also said he’s not been presented with any of the signatures Dermody claims to have obtained.  The signatures on a petition must be filed in court by October 1st.  Once filed, Friedman said they can be challenged to make sure they meet the requirements during a verification process, he said.


Under state law, municipalities have to acquire support from either a majority of property owners or property owners representing 60-percent of the assessed valuation to annex targeted areas. 


The effort in La Porte has turned bitter recently with people opposed to annexation criticizing Dermody for taking a heavy handed approach.  He’s been called a “bully” and portrayed as one in drawings posted on social media.  Dermody said it’s unfortunate some people took things personally since his push for annexation began three years ago.  He said the effort was strictly about doing what’s right for both sides.


Dermody said district residents would have better services without an increase in  property taxes while the city would expand to an area ripe for more growth once upgrades are made to the water system.


“What’s best for these residents and business owners has always been at the heart of this discussion and we are happy to have their support to move forward,” he said.


Friedman said litigation is an option for the district if Dermody were to move forward in the annexation process without a consent agreement.

La Porte Residents at Drug House Arrested

(Michigan City, IN) - A La Porte man is looking at potential time in prison after apparently driving to Michigan City to obtain illegal drugs. John Schadowsky, 44, is charged with Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of a Syringe.


According to court documents, his vehicle was parked at a suspected drug house under surveillance on May 25th in the 900 block of York St.  After leaving the residence, the vehicle was pulled over several minutes later for running a stop sign at Ohio and 10th streets. Methamphetamine, heroin, and marijuana as well as a glass smoking pipe were located in the vehicle with help from a K-9 dog.


Some of the methamphetamine along with the pipe allegedly belonged to Hollie Lachapelle, who also was arrested.  Lachapelle, 47, is also from La Porte.


Both suspects are still being held in La Porte County Jail to await the outcome of their cases.

Search Warrant Nets Dealer and Cash

(Michigan City, IN) - A suspected drug dealer, along with guns and a large amount of cash, were removed from a Michigan City neighborhood recently as Joseph Milsap, 32, has been charged with Dealing Cocaine.


A search warrant for his home was executed May 23rd after he was caught selling cocaine on multiple occasions. He was found laying on a couch with two loaded guns nearby when officers entered the residence in the 2000 block of Elston Street.


Court documents also revealed $1,800 in cash and another large amount currency, all in $20 bills, were located in the home during the search as well as an undisclosed amount of pills.


Milsap was prohibited from having a firearm under the conditions of a protective order issued against him by the court.


He is still being held in the La Porte County Jail on $2,500 bond.


Milsap could face anywhere from a three-to-16 year sentence on the Level 3 Felony charge.  Currently, he has a Drug Possession charge filed in 2020 that remains undecided in the courts.

Storm Described as Being Like a Monsoon

(La Porte County, IN) - A massive amount of rain in a very short period of time came down in La Porte yesterday alongside hail and strong winds, making an early afternoon storm look like a monsoon.


Emergency responders were called on several reports of fallen trees and power lines out in the county, with one report indicating a tree fell on a car at 500 West and 150 North.


La Porte County Highway Department Superintendent Al Stevens said damage to the car must have been minor because the vehicle and driver had already left when crews arrived.


“It was coming down in buckets,” he said.


Stevens said he was on Pine Lake Avenue on the city’s north side when, suddenly, the skies opened up.


“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that much rain come down at once,” he said.


Nate Martin, an operator in training at the La Porte Water Department, said more than a half an inch of a rain fell in a roughly 15 minute time period. He was at a water department substation on Indiana 39 when sprinkles turned into sheets of rain, and once-calm winds kicked up.


“Very monsoon-like.  Insane winds and insane amounts of water out of nowhere,” Martin said.

Not So Fast Mayor on Desire to Annex

(La Porte, IN) - The 39 North Conservancy District says it’s way too early for La Porte’s mayor to declare any sort of victory if that’s what he’s trying to do in his annexation effort.


Mayor Tom Dermody said he has the necessary amount of signatures following a May 31st deadline and looks forward to partnering with the conservancy district board and residents to improve the infrastructure.


39 North Conservancy District Attorney Shaw Friedman said he hasn’t been shown any signatures from property owners asking to be annexed.


He also said signatures can be thrown out if deemed not legitimate during a review process and the amount could fall below the necessary threshold if enough are ruled ineligible.


Friedman said other requirements governing signatures must also be met.


“It’s not a simple question when it’s a hostile annexation,” he said.


In addition, Friedman said the city has failed to meet the demands outlined by the board for members to grant a consent to annex agreement.


One of the demands is for the city to grant a $2.5 million credit to district property owners on their water and sewer bills to compensate for the investment they made in having the water and sewer lines put in over 20-years ago.


Currently, the mayor's original $1.5 million offers stands at $2 million, he said.


“There are a number of items that have to be hit before anything can move forward,” he said.


Friedman said the state must also grant approval on a number of matters in any annexation effort before it can materialize in a process that could take years if there are disputes and litigation.


Friedman said the city has also not provided a fiscal plan as required by state law on how it’s going to pay for capital and non-capital improvements in the district.


“We can’t say there’s a deal in place when key elements are still missing at this point,” he said.

Waiting Game Now for Battery Plant

(New Carlisle, IN) - Tax abatement has been approved for a proposed electric vehicle battery making plant that would employ a projected 1,600 people outside New Carlisle.


It’s now up to General Motors and Samsung to decide whether to go ahead with the estimated $3.5 billion investment.


“We’re just kind of in a waiting game,” said St. Joseph County Economic Development Corporation Director Bill Schalliol.


The St. Joseph County Council on May 23rd voted unanimously in favor of tax abatement on the development proposed on a close to 700 acre site on Indiana 2 in Olive Township.


Schalliol said that is the same site General Motors and LG Energy Solution single out last year for building an over $2 million dollar electric vehicle battery making operation with a projected similar sized workforce.


The plans were scrapped when LG Energy Solution broke away from the partnership but later revised when General Motors and Samsung joined hands to construct a facility to make batteries for electric vehicles.


To his knowledge, Schalliol said the New Carlisle area site consisting of all farmland is the only location being looked at for the proposed three million square foot development about four miles southeast of New Carlisle.


“We’re just waiting for them to finalize the decision.  We anticipate that will happen here in the next month or so,” he said.


If constructed, Schalliol said he doesn’t expect any problems with finding enough workers despite the tight labor market, citing a development agreement that calls for the average salary at the plant to be no less than $24 an hour.


The goal is for the plant to be operating in 2026.


“We believe it’ll be a pretty popular place to apply and work when they get up and running,” he said.


Bert Cook, Executive Director of the LaPorte Economic Advancement Partnership, said a plant that size would have a positive impact on the community located about 20 miles west of the site.


He said how much of an impact is difficult to predict but there would be LaPorte residents working there and bringing more money back for the local economy if they’re paid more than they’re making currently.


“I think those would be terrific wages for individuals and that would represent great opportunity for many people here,” he said.


Cook said additional businesses like suppliers to the plant would likely go up near the facility, creating more jobs for residents in the area.


“It’s a big project for sure.  Absolutely,” he said.


Schalliol said purchase agreements have been struck with all of the present land owners who agreed not to farm this year.


General Motors and Samsung want to begin construction before the end of the year and don’t want to compensate the farmers for their losses if dirt started being moved prior to the fall harvest.


“If they choose to move forward they can without having to buy out crops or anything,” he said.

Mayor Declares Majority Support for Annexation

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody says enough signatures have been obtained for the city to annex the 39 North Conservancy District.


The city established a May 31st deadline for property owners in the district to sign a petition in favor of annexation. If enough signatures were not obtained, the city planned on dropping matter and pursuing other projects, instead.


Late this morning, Dermody revealed the goal of his administration to acquire the necessary signatures was achieved.


However, Dermody said the city will “determine the appropriate path forward” after the regularly scheduled 39 North Conservancy District meeting on Friday.


Dermody said the city decided not to take the next step until the meeting was held at the request of the 39 North Conservancy District Board.


“We are excited to partner with the Conservancy board and its residents to improve the infrastructure in this area and position the 39 North community for future growth. What’s best for these residents and business owners has always been at the heart of this discussion and we are happy to have their support to move forward,” he said.


The board is scheduled to meet at 8 a.m. at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers  at 2751 Indiana 39.


A settlement agreement containing possible compensation from the city for infrastructure the district paid to have installed over 20-years could be presented to the board for its consideration as part of the city's annexation attempt. 


If both sides don’t come together on a settlement, the stage could be set for a potential legal battle.

Chase Ends in Arrest of Fugitive

(Michigan City, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with a recent police chase that ended with a crash in Michigan City.


Late Saturday afternoon, an officer spotted a vehicle reported stolen out of Chicago and tried pulling it over on Ohio Street on the city’s south side. This prompted the driver to flee, but it wasn’t long before he crashed near Franciscan Health hospital.


The driver took off running from there, before disappearing into a wooded area.


Another police officer with K-9 dog in tow arrived and announced he would release the animal if the suspect did not come out of hiding. Soon, the heavily tattooed driver emerged from the trees.


25-year-old Genesis Gavidia of Whiting was taken into custody, having also had warrants out for his arrest for probation violations on previous crimes of Battery and Theft.

OWI Arrest Follows Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police say alcohol was involved in a vehicle crashing off Interstate 94 outside Michigan City last night.


26-year-old Joseph Barrette was arrested for OWI, claiming he was traveling at about 40 miles per hour but was appartently fast enough to shear an I-beam used to support a traffic sign. His vehicle flipped and slid more than 200 feet before coming to rest in some trees about two miles from the Michigan state line.


The Valparaiso man was treated for minor injuries before being taken to the La Porte County Jail with an alleged blood alcohol level of about .12 percent.


According to police, Barrette said he was trying to pull into a rest area when he lost control of the vehicle.

Bison Ousted from Post Season

(New Buffalo, MI) - Two hard-hit singles to start the game by Our Lady of the Lake proved to be an indication of the drubbing New Buffalo was about to take in the high school baseball post season opener on Tuesday.


The Lakers won 11-1 in the District 4 tournament hosted this year in New Buffalo.


The first two batters for the Lakers, Owen McLaughlin and Matt Lage, led off the first inning with crisp line drive singles to left field off starting pitcher Gio Sanchez-Perez.  McLaughlin trying to score from third base got caught in a pickle but crossed the plate on a throwing error.


Lage trying to take third base on the overthrown slid safely underneath the tag and scored when the next hitter laid down a sacrifice bunt.


The next batter struck a screaming line drive caught by third baseman Nicholas Wolfe but Sanchez-Perez began struggling with his control.  He hit a batter who scored following a single, a walk then a wild pitch.


The Bison pulled to within 3-1 in the bottom of the first inning after Vaugh Nikkel reached base on a walk and scored on a deep sacrifice fly ball to right field by Ethan Lijewski.


Our Lady of the Lake scored again in the second inning on a bloop single followed by a fielding error by Lijewski at shortshop.  The Bison ended the inning when Sam Wendel-Suppa after catching a deep fly ball to centerfield made a strong throw to second base to nail the runner trying to get back to the bag.


Two more runners crossed the plate for the Lakers in the 4th inning after a hit batsman and two more line drive smash singles to left field.


The Bison threatened to score again with one out in the bottom of the fourth inning after Wolfe reached base on a throwing error to first base by the shortstop and an infield single by Wendel-Suppa.


The next two batters, though, flew out to center field and struck out.


Lijewski pitching in relief gave up no runs in the 5th inning.  Wendel-Suppa pitching for the Bison in the 6th inning hit a batter who scored on a fielder’s choice.  Another batter reached base on a fielding error and scored on a triple.


Three more runners scored for the Lakers in the final inning after the first two batters drew walks and scored on a double to the left center field gap by Lage who crossed the plate on a single to left field.


Lage, the ace of the Lakers pitching staff, recorded nine strikeouts while giving up just three walks.


The Bison, who won four of their first six games of the regular season, finished with a record of 8-10-1.

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