Local News Archives for 2023-09

Jail Visits Halted Due to Construction

(La Porte, IN) - Construction at the La Porte County Complex will be hindering jail visits temporarily.


Extensive work is still underway to rehab office damage done by a flood last December. According to the Sheriff’s Department, workers are erecting a tunnel from the building’s south entrance down the hallway to the main lobby, while rehab efforts continue in that area of the building. This will allow for public access to the front desk of the Sheriff’s Department. Normal operations will continue during regular business hours, and people can still post inmate bond 24/7.


However, on-site inmate visitation will be suspended during this brief phase of construction. The Sheriff’s Department expects the halt to in-person visits to last about a week.

New BMV Hours Going Into Effect

(Indianapolis IN) - The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles has announced a change to their hours of operation for many branches across the state.


In La Porte the license branch will open half an hour later, opening at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday through Saturday. It will close at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, 5:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays.


The BMV says the new hours will take effect on Monday, October 2.


Below are the new hours of operation for local license branches:


  • LaPorte - Tue - Sat (Tue: 9 a.m. - 6:30 p.m., Wed/Thu/Fri: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sat: 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.)
  • Valparaiso - M/Tue/Thu/Fri (8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.)
  • South Bend - M/Tue/Thu/Fri (8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.)
  • Knox - Mon/Wed/Fri (9 a.m. - 5 p.m.)
  • Winamac - Tue/Thu (9 a.m. - 5 p.m.)
  • Plymouth - Tue - Sat (Tue: 9 a.m. - 6:30 p.m., Wed/Thu/Fri: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., Sat: 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.)

Michigan City Woman Seriously Injured in Interstate Crash

(Merrillville, IN) - A Michigan City woman was seriously injured in a five-car collision on I-65.


It happened Monday afternoon around 3:45 p.m. just north of Merrillville. According to State Police, a distracted driver did not notice backed-up traffic in front of him and plowed into the traffic jam. A Chevy Malibu driven by an unidentified 40-year-old Michigan City woman took the brunt of the impact. Three other cars were struck in the chain reaction.


The woman was extricated by firefighters and airlifted to a Chicago Hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.


Other drivers involved were taken by ambulance to local hospitals. Alllanes of I-65 were briefly closed for the landing of the medical helicopter. Southbound lanes remained closed for several hours for cleanup. Neither drugs nor alcohol are suspected to be factors in this crash.

Wife Sentenced for Murdering Husband

(La Porte, IN) - A 63-year prison sentence was handed to a La Porte woman on Friday in connection with the fatal shooting of her husband and dismemberment of his body.


Thessalonica Allen, 36, formerly of South Bend, was convicted by a jury on July 27th of Murder, Abuse of a Corpse and Altering a Crime Scene, (the latter two both Level 6 Felonies), along with two Level 5 Felony counts of Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor and two Level 6 Felony counts of Neglect of a Dependent.


57 years of the sentence accounts for the 2021 killing of Randy Allen inside of his and Thessalonica's home at Maple Tree Apartments at 1405 West 18th Street.


Prior to sentencing, relatives of the victim told the court that Allen loved his wife and four stepchildren, and, if there were problems, Mrs. Allen should have just left instead of destroying the family.


Their two teenagers heard the gunshot before watching their stepfather bleed to death after being told by their mother not to call for help.


The victim’s uncle, Larry Allen of South Bend told her “you are strictly the devil.”


“So was he,” Allen said.


LaPorte Circuit Court Judge Tom Alevizos, with his outstretched arm and index finger, pointed to Allen and warned her not to speak again until given permission or he would hold her in contempt.


Testimony presented at trial indicated the couple was arguing over a social media post seen by Mr. Allen that led him to believe she was interested in another man.


At one point, Mr. Allen told her he was leaving.


According to the testimony, she told him he wasn't, before pulling out a gun and shooting him in the arm.  The bullet ricocheted toward his rib cage before ultimately coming to rest in his spinal cord.


According to prosecutors, Mrs. Allen manipulated her children into helping her clean up the bloody crime scene, as well as attempting to drag the body outside. Despite their efforts, it was too heavy for them to lift into her vehicle, and lead to it being dragged back inside their apartment. Mrs. Allen went out the next day and purchased an axe she used soon to dismember the late Mr. Allen's legs. Still, the body was still too heavy.


Her plan in response was to drive to South Bend and set the car on fire to destroy the body.


In a letter read out loud in the courtroom, the victim’s brother, Robert Allen, asked his sister in-law how she could do such a thing.


“It shows to me in this world monsters truly exist,” he said.


Mrs. Allen, claiming to be a battered wife, argued self-defense and that her husband lunged at her before she fired the gun.


After sentencing, LaPorte County Deputy Prosecutor Julianne Havens said there were no bruises or other injuries discovered on Mrs. Allen following her arrest, nor any other evidence of him striking her physically.


However, she said there were handwritten notes from Mrs. Allen recovered from the home that outlined different methods of murder, in addition to names of people she felt would help her carry out the plot.


“From the evidence that came out, there was no self-defense. I don’t think it held any water,” she said.


Alevizos said Mrs. Allen will be over 80-years-old before eligible for parole.

Man Facing Child Sex-Related Charges

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man is facing sex-related allegations involving two boys.


Ronald Garrett, 28, has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Child Molestation and two counts of Child Seduction.


La Porte Police started investigating on September 1st, when contacted by the mother of the children, ages 8 & 9. One of the boys had told her he was being inappropriately touched by Garrett, the last time being at the end of August.


About a week later, the lead detective in the case was informed by an Indiana Department of Child Services employee that she had spoken with the other boy about inappropriate contact in the past from Garrett.


The other boy told investigators the activity started when he was 7. Then, after turning 8, it happened “once or twice a weekend,” per court documents.


Garrett denied the allegations but when offered a lie detector test responded “he wanted his attorney,” police said. There were similar allegations against Garrett in 2017 and 2020 that authorities were not able to substantiate.


Garrett could face anywhere from a 20-to-40 year sentence on the child molesting count. The other charges could each bring an additional three-to-six year sentence.

He is currently being held on $100,000 bond.

Arson Ruled in Auto Graveyard Fire

(Michigan City, IN) - Arson has been ruled as the cause of a fire on Monday at what looked like a huge auto graveyard in Michigan City. This determination was made with help from the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office and the use of certified K9 dogs scouring the property at 8188 North Meer Road.


“Fire Marshal Jeff Bruder utilized several resources over the past three days to assist in determining the cause and origin,” per Michigan City Fire Department officials.


A large pole barn and garage containing various cars and vehicles were engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived at roughly 6p.m. to the heavily-wooded area.


Michigan City Fire Department spokesperson Tia Free said the owner told investigators he bought the property 25 years ago and kept bringing in vehicles over the years.


Hundreds of old and newer model vehicles, some with trees and vegetation growing through them, were also on the grounds, along with a couple of vintage fire engines. 


So far, no suspects have been reported.

Groundbreaking for New Prison

(Westville, IN) - There was a groundbreaking on Thursday for the new Westville Correctional Facility, costing an estimated $1.2 billion.


The building, expected to take four years to construct, will also become home to Indiana State Prison in Michigan City.


The WCF was originally a mental health facility when it opened in 1951, before later being converted into a penal institution.


Indiana Department of Correction officials say that the new prison will more secure and offer more services designed to keep inmates from reoffending.


Governor Eric Holcomb noted that the new prison will be the most expensive state building project in history, but one that will be a cost-saver in the long run because of the money saved from no longer needing to maintain the Indiana State Prison.


ISP prison was built in 1860.


“We are at that point right now where you can start to plan long term for a different use of a primo piece of property in Michigan City and not continue to pour money into a facility that was built before Lincoln was sworn in as president,” he said.


Right now, one vision is to demolish the state prison after it moves into the new WCF in five years and redevelop the 100-acre parcel for another purpose, like workforce housing.


The new prison will house up to 4,200 inmates. The population at both prisons combined is closer to 5,000, but other prisons in the state with vacancies will absorb the overflow.

La Porte Group to Celebrate 100th Concert Season

(La Porte, IN) - A local group bringing musicians in to perform is celebrating its 100th anniversary.


The La Porte Community Concert Association’s first sponsored performance of the season is scheduled October 22nd, set to begin at 2 p.m. at the Kesling Intermediate School Auditorium.


The featured performer will be Jason Lyle Black, an award-winning piano entertainer whose clever arrangements, fun stories and on-stage charm has won countless fans throughout the world, according to the LCCA.


Black takes audiences on a journey through numerous musical styles, playing nearly 100 songs in his fast-paced show interwoven with his comedic stories like “Songs Not to Play at People’s Weddings and Funerals," and the uncanny ability to play as easily sitting backward as forwards.


Program highlights during his performance will include:  Musicals – Les Miserables; The Sound of Music; West Side Story.  Movies – Beauty and the Beast; Star Wars; Indiana Jones.  Famous Classical hits – William Tell Overture; Toccata and Fuge (Bach); Flight of the Bumblebee; and Blue Danube Waltz.


The idea of Community Concerts began in 1923 when Ward French of New York came up with a plan to take live, professional talent to the small towns in America with the assurance the sponsoring organization would not lose money. His idea was to raise money first, then select the programs to fit the budget.


LaPorte was the second city, with Battle Creek Michigan being first, to try this new idea. 


Originally, the concerts were held at the LaPorte Theater, the old LaPorte High School and the Civic Opera House.  After 1930, most concerts were held at the Civic Auditorium, but today they are at Kesling Intermediate School Auditorium at 306 East 18th Street.


In 1948 the name was changed to LaPorte Community Concert Association and Walter Burger was elected president, a position he held for many years. 


For ten decades, the association has brought hundreds of renowned artists to LaPorte including the Indiana Symphony Orchestra, the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, Al Hurt, Marian Anderson, Mario Lanza, the Swedish Symphony, the Moscow Balalikas, the London Piano duo and the Shanghai Acrobats from China. This is in addition to dance companies, choral groups, comics and big bands that have performed in LaPorte at the Civic Auditorium.  


The LaPorte Community Concert Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization staffed entirely by volunteers.  All the money raised through ticket sales and contributions is used for artists’ fees and production expenses.


LaPorte has four concerts per year and has a reciprocity agreement with the associations in Portage (4 concerts) and Munster (6 concerts), allowing LaPorte members to attend any of their concerts. 


So, a $60 adult membership ticket will admit a member into 14 concerts a year.  Tickets are $20 at the door for a single performance. 


For more information, contact Bill Burger at 219-362-5292 or Beth LeRoy at 219-362-8262.

Another New Industrial Building for La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Another spec building is going up at the Thomas Rose Industrial Park in La Porte.


The developer behind the first 150,000 square foot structure, Bob Qualls of Quincy Development, is behind the second spec building of equal size that just started construction next to it.


The first 150,000 square foot spec building opened about a year ago and has become fully occupied by two firms.


Bert Cook, Executive Director of the Greater La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership, said there’s demand for such ready-to-occupy facilities locally. The hope on his end is to have tenants already lined up before the second spec building is finished sometime next year.


“We’re really excited to be able to have more product, more space that will be ready and we can pitch to companies who are interested in locating here,” he said.


American Renolit Corporation is using about 90,000 square feet in the first spec building for warehouse and distribution purposes.  The remainder of the space is occupied by Patrick Industries, a maker of components for the recreational vehicle and marine industries.


“To have one building built spec and then be very, very successful then on the heels of that have a second building, I think that’s a really nice story for La Porte and it really speaks to the demand that’s out there for our market,” he said.

Mayoral Candidate Questions Annexation

(La Porte, IN) - A candidate for mayor in LaPorte is expressing concerns about annexing the 39 North Conservancy District.


Democrat Ron Zimmer said he would do it only if the city has enough money to serve that area, as well as take care of current residents' needs.


Right now, Zimmer said he’s not sure if that can be done, considering the amount of money needed for upgrading the water system in the conservancy district. He feels the estimated $10 million cost might leave the city with inadequate resources to take care of civic matters like street repairs.


“We’re going to borrow money somewhere down the road to get a water tower and then a couple of years later borrow some more money to get something else.  It’s like a never ending the process and the citizens of La Porte drive around on streets with potholes.  That’s what I’m concerned about,” he said.


Recently, the city has obtained signatures from 57% of the property owners requesting to be annexed.


The city also reached an agreement with the 39 North Conservancy District to annex in exchange for items of note, like purchasing the existing infrastructure for two million dollars and giving the money to district property owners in the form of credits and utility bills.


Currently, there’s a 90 day period for the public to remonstrate against the annexation plans set to close in early December.


Zimmer, who has previously ran for mayor on two occasions, is facing Republican incumbent Tom Dermody.

DNR Advice for Upcoming Deer Season

(Indianapolis, IN) - With the deer reduction zone season underway and the statewide archery deer season starting Oct. 1st, Indiana Conservation Officers remind hunters to stay safe.


According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, more than 300,000 people are expected to participate in some form of deer hunting in Indiana during the various deer hunting seasons that run through Jan. 31st, 2024, and the overwhelming majority typically do so safely.


When injuries occur, the most common are from accidents involving hunting from tree stands and elevated platforms. To avoid such injuries, hunters should follow the safety tips listed below when hunting from an elevated position.

Before the hunt:

  • Read and understand the tree stand manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Check tree stands and equipment for wear; fatigue; and cracks or loose nuts and bolts, paying particularly close attention to parts made of material other than metal.
  • Pack and plan to use equipment specifically designed for hunting.
  • Practice tree stand use and setup at ground level.
  • Learn how to properly wear your full-body safety harness.

During the hunt:

  • Wear your full-body safety harness.
  • Use a tree stand safety rope.
  • Make certain to attach your harness to the tree before leaving the ground, and that it remains attached to the tree until you return to the ground.
  • Maintain three points of contact during ascent and descent.
  • Use boots with nonslip soles.
  • Use a haul line to raise and lower firearms, bows and other hunting gear.
  • Make sure firearms are unloaded, action is open, and safety is on before attaching them to the haul line.

When doing any kind of hunting, remember to do the following to stay safe:

  • Carry a cellphone and flashlight.
  • Make a plan before you hunt.
  • Tell someone your plan, including where you will be hunting and when you plan to return.
  • Stick to your plan.
  • Identify game before pointing a firearm.
  • Know your target and what is beyond it.

For more information, see hunting.IN.gov.  

Drug Bust During Search of Bicyclist

(La Porte, IN) - A man stopped by La Porte City Police on a bicycle was allegedly found with narcotics.


David Eskridge, 52, has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Posession of Methamphetamine, in addition to a smoking pipe.


According to court documents, an officer stopped him for not having rear lights and reflectors on his bicycle while out traveling late at night on Monroe Street. near Maple Avenue on September 21st.


He was previously found with meth and a gun earlier in the year, and  for that reason, he was searched. The officer then allegedly found a cigarette pack containing over three grams of methamphetamine in the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt.


A glass smoking device with burn marks and traces of meth was also seized.

Public Meetings Over Change in Utility Plans

(Berrien County, MI) - Indiana Michigan Power Company is adjusting its plans to rebuild a high voltage line from New Buffalo to Bridgman, and as a result, the utility company has scheduled meetings to collect feedback from the public.


According to I&M officials, the 75 foot tall steel or wooden poles to potentially comprise the structure would be about 10 feet shorter than originally planned.


The width of easements obtained for the work would also be reduced from 60 feet to 40 feet.  Reimbursement would also be offered for removal of trees on private property within the proposed easement.


According to the utility company, the upgrades would provide a stronger transmission grid to four local substations, as well as reduce outages. 


A majority of the existing wooden poles on the route date back to the 1960’s.


Public meetings to go over the change in plans are scheduled for October 9th at the Chikaming Township Center in Harbert and October 10th in the gymnasium at Three Oaks Elementary School.


Each session will begin at 6:30 p.m. (EST)

Medical Building Under Construction

(La Porte, IN) - A medical office building is being constructed on La Porte’s west side, going up beside the Walgreens pharmacy along Indiana 2 to house a new urgent care facility.


Executive Director of the La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership Bert Cook said that construction is about halfway finished and that the services provided will meet a need on that side of the community, especially for people lacking transportation.


“One of the things we heard from residents on the west side is the need to be able to walk to things in close proximity there with health care being one of them,” he said.


Urgent care facilities give people the opportunity to receive the medical attention they would need without going immediately to hospital emergency rooms.


So far, Cook said the medical provider that will operate the facility is not currently being disclosed, but will be revealed once construction is closer to completion. 

Bid to Outrun Police Fails

(Michigan City, IN) - A man fled during a traffic stop in Michigan City yesterday afternoon, but was soon captured.


La Porte County Police explained that 27-year-old Dyllon Hawkins was pulled over for tailgating on Interstate 94, the stop itself being made on U.S. 421.


The officer was questioning Hawkins after noticing the scent of marijuana when Hawkins sped off, heading northbound.


While in pursuit, the officer lost sight of the suspect but soon was able to locate his car, left abandoned nearby just west of Franklin Street on Crestwood Drive. A short time later, police said, Hawkins stepped out of a home across the street from the vehicle and ultimately surrendered.


The Michigan City man was arrested for Resisting Law Enforcement and having an outstanding warrant in Starke County.

Kora Replaces Resigned Councilwoman

(Michigan City, IN) - A member of the Michigan City Common Council has resigned, as Dalia Zygus has now stepped down with only a few months left on her term.


Former La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora will serve the rest of her term, voted in last night by precinct committee members of the La Porte County Democratic Party.


Zygus held one of the at-large seats on the council.


Currently, Kora, a former two-term La Porte County Commissioner, is running for one of the at-large seats in the November general election.


Councilman Don Przybylinski offered these thoughts about Zygus during the most recent City Council meeting.


“I would like to wish Councilwoman Zygus good luck in her future endeavors and with her health.  Get well soon Dalia,” he said.


Przybylinski went on to describe her as being very congenial and professional in turn.


“She wore her job through her heart and she had a lot of good intentions,” he said.


Zygus took her seat on the council in March of 2020, appointed to replace Johnny Stimley following his resignation.


Kora is also a former member of the Michigan City School Board and once served two terms as La Porte County Coroner, in addition to a term as chairman of the La Porte County Democratic Party.

Fallen Part from Semi Disables Vehicles

(La Porte County, IN) - A part from a moving semi-truck disabled three vehicles in La Porte County earlier this week on Monday at about 8 a.m. on U.S. 20 near Indiana 39.


La Porte County Police said the part came off the drive shaft of the eastbound semi, leaving two cars with flat tires and another vehicle out for the count..


Tow trucks came for at least two of the passenger vehicles and the semi, now immobilized in turn.

Restaurant Moving into Former Louie's Cafe

(La Porte, IN) - The old Louie’s Café in downtown La Porte will not be empty much longer, now to be filled by Lincolnway Café.


Owner Benjamin Paredes said his original October 1st opening date has been pushed back to October 5th due to unforeseen refridgerator problems he's currently in the process of correcting.


Paredes, who also owns a Mexican restaurant in Westville known as Vaqueros, said his expansion to La Porte is a chance to get involved with preparing breakfasts again. He had previously started out making pancakes and other breakfast items at the Round The Clock restaurant in Valparaiso, where he was previously employed for 12 years.


“My dream is like where I started; I want something like that for my own,” he said.


Paredes said the menu will be very similar to what was offered at Louie’s Café, which was at 920 Lincolnway for most of the nearly 50-year period the restaurant operated in La Porte until closing this past May. 


Food ranging from biscuits and gravy, to eggs, and other American dishes like patty melt sandwiches, pork chops and steak will be offered daily for both breakfast and lunch.


Paredes, 40, also operates the restaurant Fat Burrito in Crown Point.

Heavy Losses in Auto Graveyard Fire

(Michigan City, IN) - Investigators are looking into the cause of a fire at what could be mistaken as a motor vehicle graveyard in Michigan City.


Firefighters responded at about 6 p.m. on Monday to the blaze on Meer Road, just north of Tryon Road on the city’s far east side, where vintage fire engines were among the countless number of vehicles on the affectedproperty


Michigan City Fire Department spokesperson Tia Free said a large pole barn and garage, along with the vehicles inside them, were fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.


Vehicles closest to the burning structure were also heavily damaged from the spreading flames, which also caught numerous trees on fire in a nearby wooded area.


Free said there were so many vehicles on the grounds that an excavator had to be utilized in order to clear a path out of scattered automobiles for firefighters to reach the burning structures. Some of which had trees growing through them due to being parked on the property for so long.


Katrina Croy, 34, said her teenage daughter was at a friend’s house close to the site when she rushed over there after learning about the inferno.


“There was probably 30 to 40 foot flames. A massive amount of smoke plume. There’s hundreds, if not, a thousand cars back there,” she said.


“That’s our guess but we don’t have an official count,” Free said.


Free said the owner told investigators he purchased the property 25 years ago and kept adding cars to his collection. His reason for stockpiling the vehicles was not known.


Free said there was a mixture of antique and newer vehicles, the majority of which were moderately to heavily rusted due to age and years of exposure to the elements. Some of the automobiles had busted windows.


“Just a huge array of vehicles,” she said.


Free said there were no injuries, and firefighters were on the scene for roughly four hours.


The Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office is assisting in trying to uncover the cause of the fire.

Raiders Win in Final Seconds

(Three Oaks, MI) - The Red Arrow Raiders held on for another high school football victory in a thrilling offensive shootout undecided until there was no time left on the clock.


The Raiders (4-1) defeated Tri Unity Christian School 52-50 in a home game at River Valley High School on Friday, September 22nd.


The Raiders consists of players from New Buffalo and River Valley high schools.


There were two seconds left in the game when the Defenders threw a short pass knocked down by Owen Slavens in the endzone to seal the victory for the Raiders.


The score was 36-36 about midway through the fourth quarter, when both teams kept exchanging touchdowns.


“It was really cool final couple of minutes of the game,” said Raiders Head Coach Matt Johnson.


The Raiders were trailing with about 40 seconds left on the clock until quarterback Ethan Lijewski scored on a six-yard run before making a two-point conversation on a quarterback sneak.


After the kick-off, the Defenders began moving the ball again before winding up on the Raiders’ five-yard line on a 40-yard pass completion.


No time was left on the clock, but referees ruled that Tri Unity Christian called time out before time ran out and placed two seconds back on the clock.


On the final snap, Slavens, on a passing play, knocked the ball to the ground before it could reach the hands of the opposing receiver in the endzone.


On defense, the Raiders had trouble with the speed of the quarterback, who gained large chunks of yardage on runs as well as keeping the ball out of the hands of much taller receivers.


“We don’t have a lot of height so it was tough for us to cover those guys,” Johnson.


Both teams also kept exchanging leads in a high-scoring first half.


The Raiders struck first on a 19-yard touchdown run by Slavens but the Defenders came right back with a 49-yard touchdown pass.


Lijewski set up the next score for the Raiders by rushing for a 45-yard gain before M’Nason Smothers, following a 15 yard gain on a running play, took the ball on a hand-off seven yard run into the endzone.


The Raiders trailed 28-22 at halftime.


Lijewski completed seven of 14 passes for 90 yards while gaining another 278 yards on 31 carries.  Slavens ran the ball for 74 yards on six carries while Smothers, after a quick start, finished with 43 yards on 14 carries.


The defense was led by Vaughn Nikkel who had 11 solo tackles.  Nikkel also assisted with four other tackles, as well as four more for loss of yardage.

Major Injuries in Collision with Dump Truck

(La Porte County, IN) - Three people were seriously injured last evening in a collision between a dump truck and passenger van just outside of La Porte.


Emergency responders, at roughly 6 p.m., were called to Indiana 2 and County Road 500 West.


Per the La Porte County Police, investigation revealed that a southbound 1999 Dodge van driven by Terry Curry, 66, of Kingsford Heights, pulled out in front of a westbound dump truck.


Both vehicles overturned, with gravel from the 1990 Ford dump truck spilling out onto the two lane highway.


Curry and the other driver, David Henrich, 58, of Rolling Prairie were transported to an area hospital for treatment. Cheryl Curry, 71, who was a passenger in the van, was airlifted to a regional hospital.


Police are still waiting for the results of a standard toxicology test to determine if alcohol had anything to do with the collision.


La Porte County Emergency Medical Service Administrator Andrew McGuire said all three patients were viewed as being in critical condition at the crash site.


“They were all deemed critical was our initial assessment,” he said.

Blaze at Old Junkyard

(Michigan City, IN) - There was a major fire last night in Michigan City on Meer Road near Tryon on the city’s far east side.


So far, the fire department has not released specific details regarding the incident. However, Katrina Croy, a resident of the area, believes the fire was at an old abandoned junkyard which contained hundreds of vehicles on the property.



At least one pole barn containing vehicles was reportedly burning as Croy, 36, also noted how trees in a nearby wooded area along the edge of the property were also engulfed in flames.


“There was probably 30 to 40 foot flames. A massive amount of smoke plume. There’s hundreds, if not, a thousand cars back there,” she said.


Per Croy, the fire started at around 6:30 p.m. with firefighters leaving the scene four hours later. She said she had never seen any activity in the junkyard during the 20 years she has lived in that area.


We’ll provide more details when they’re made available.

State Funds to Help Fight Poverty

(Michigan City, IN) - The Indiana Department of Health has awarded $155,400 in grant money to help combat food insecurity and health issues related to obesity in Michigan City.


The funds will go to Operation Healthy, an effort involving local churches, non-profits, other organizations, and entrepreneurs, focused on creating a long-term plan for meeting the needs of people regarding food insecurity and health problems stemming from obesity.


Free physical fitness activities for families and school-aged children are among the current ideas for inclusion in the plan. Targeted food pantry events and holiday giveaways will be among the activities held at the Hope Community Center to disperse resources stemming from the effort.


Operation Healthy also calls for a community-based survey using the Center for Disease Control’s Healthier Food Retail Assessment Guide, to determine permanent options for long-term access to healthier food.


“Our team is so excited for the opportunity to impact health outcomes and food insecurity in Michigan City,” said City Councilwoman Angie Nelson Deuitch, who is spearheading the program.

Indiana 39 Closure Upcoming

(La Porte County, IN) - A stretch of local state highway is scheduled to be temporarily closed beginning early next month.


According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana 39 will be closed at the CSX Railroad crossing between Young Rd and County Road 800 South near Union Mills, beginning on or after Monday, October 2nd. 


The highway will be closed for approximately two weeks at that location while CSX rebuilds their at-grade crossing.


INDOT advises motorists to seek an alternate route, with the official detour to follow U.S. 6, U.S. 35 and U.S. 30.

OWI for Driver Posing Safety Threat

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte man, posing a real danger to himself and other travelers, has been charged with Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated.


Officers, on Saturday night, were notified about a possibly impaired driver heading out of the La Porte city limits while going southbound on U.S. 35.


The caller also reported that the vehicle in question was all over the roadway, sometimes driving off the pavement and nearly nearly striking objects.


A responding police officer, noticing the same driving behavior, pulled over 32-year-old Adrian Martinez on 250 South near 150 East. Martinez showed all of the classic signs of being impaired and had beer in a cooler behind the driver’s seat.


He was arrested after allegedly refusing to take a blood alcohol test.

New Prairie in Select Company for Results

(La Porte County, IN) - The New Prairie United School Corporation was recently recognized for its sustained success in raising student achievement.


The recognition from Solution Tree was largely due to the school corporation’s successful implementation of the Professional Learning Communities at Work process, credited for improved achievement of its students.


NPUSC is one of only about 500 schools and districts in the U.S. and Canada to receive this honor.


“There is still much to be done but this award shows we are on the right track to help all students learn at high levels,” said NPUSC Superintendent Dr. Paul White.


Schools are recognized based on strict criteria, including demonstration of a commitment to PLC concepts, implementation of these concepts for at least three years and clear evidence of improved student learning over that period.


Solution Tree is a leading provider of educational strategies and tools that improve staff and student performance. For more than 20 years, Solution Tree resources have helped K-12 teachers and administrators create schools where all children succeed.


PLC learning concepts calls upon educators to focus on learning, building a collaborative culture and create a results orientation.

OWI for Consuming Beer and Pot

(La Porte, IN) - It's hard to tell what was affecting a driver arrested last night in La Porte more: the beer or the marijuana.


Ricky Cooke, 69, has been charged with Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated.


After 7 p.m. that night, a patrol officer noticed a car headed northbound on Pine Lake Avenue near IN-39 without its headlights on.


The officer performed a U-turn to pursue the driver, who was promptly pulled over.


Police said Cooke, after stepping out of the vehicle, was staggering and using his car to hold himself up while claiming to have only consumed three beers.


His perceived high level of intoxication could have been due to marijuana, given the smell of raw substance on his person, described by the officer as “overwhelming" and not helped by the smell of burnt pot on the driver’s breath.


Cooke told the officer he smoked marijuana with his last beer about 30 minutes prior to being stopped. He had a blood alcohol level of .101 percent, or slightly above the legal .08 percent limit.

Cougars Win Fourth in a Row

(South Bend, IN) - For the second straight week, New Prairie spoiled a South Bend high school homecoming. After a victory against St. Joseph last week, the Cougars visited School Field on Friday to take on John Adams.


Early in the first quarter, blown coverage yielded a 39-yard pass play for the Eagles, but that was about the only offense Adams could muster all night. A successful fake punt to open the second quarter was their only other highlight.


The Cougars, however, provided plenty of highlights, starting with a 23-yard touchdown catch by a wide-open Isaac Fronk. It was the junior tight end’s first varsity reception.


The Cougars’ big men dominated the line of scrimmage, leading to rushing touchdowns by junior Zach Henrich and senior Brock Sinka. A 53-yard punt return touchdown by senior Reece Lapczynski broke the game wide open.


Then New Prairie took to the air. A 37-yard pass to senior tight end Matt Sorce set up a 20-yard touchdown catch by Lapczynski. The only blemish in an otherwise impeccable first half was a 70-yard Beau Kmiecik punt return negated by a penalty.


But that was no matter. New Prairie took a 42-0 lead into halftime. Another Henrich rushing touchdown capped off a punishing drive to begin the second half. New Prairie’s JV reserves took it from there. Final score: 49-0.


Senior quarterback Kmiecik completed eight of nine passes for 115 yards and three touchdowns. He also led the rushing attack with 74 yards. New Prairie’s defense had its best game of the year, holding Adams to only 86 total yards. Harrison Groves led the defense with nine tackles. Trenton Klute and Reed Robinson each had fumble recoveries.


Things now get interesting for New Prairie. The Cougars host their own homecoming next Friday against undefeated South Bend Riley, then end the regular season with Penn and Elkhart.

Wheels in Motion on New Battery Plant

(New Carlisle, IN) - Equipment is being deployed and dirt is about to be moved in preparation for a massive construction project east of New Carlisle.


According to St. Joseph County Economic Development Director Bill Schalliol, General Motors took possession of a 660-acre parcel on S.R. 2 last month. An electric car battery plant is going there.


This week heavy equipment started arriving at the site. “They’ve started fencing off some of the entrance locations, so the roadways are closed into the site, and they’ve got some security onsite,” Schalliol said. A fleet of construction trailers will roll in this week and next, as a “trailer city” is put in place. “A lot of preconstruction work right now,” Schalliol explained. “As soon as they get construction headquarters set up, they’re going to turn loose all those construction pieces and start grading the site.”


According to Schalliol, the goal is to get as much excavation done as quickly as possible so the main structure can be worked on over the winter. He says the process will start moving very quickly. “Once they get going, you’re going to see a lot more equipment come to the site—cranes, all sorts of heavy trailers, things like that. It is really going to start taking shape here in the next couple of weeks.”


Work to reroute Niespodziany Ditch around the site has yet to begin. In the meantime, Schalliol says engineers will work around the current and future sites of the ditch as utilities are run for the battery plant.


The lead construction contractor is Detroit-based Barton Malow. “They’re the site managers,” Schalliol said. “They’re well-geared to big projects. They understand the timelines and what’s at stake, very familiar with this type of construction.”  Barton Malow recently built two other battery cell plants for General Motors and handled the renovations to Notre Dame Stadium a few years ago.


The $3.5 billion battery plant could employ as many as 1,600 workers when it opens a couple of years from now.

Suspects Wreck Stolen Car After Interstate Chase

(Porter County, IN) - A stolen car prompted a police chase on I-94 Wednesday afternoon.


Around 3:00 p.m. Indiana State Policed identified a Chrysler 300 that had been reported stolen out of Chicago. The car exited 94 onto S.R. 49 in Chesterton and police attempted to pull it over. However, the driver returned to the interstate, and the chase was on.


Near the U.S. 20 Burns Harbor exit, the Chrysler crashed. Two male suspects fled into some nearby woods, but were soon flushed out by police. 35-year-old Julius A. Statham of Chicago was charged with Auto Theft and two counts of Resisting Law Enforcement. His passenger, 28-year-old Ka’darrius T. Roach of Miami, FL, was charged with Resisting Law Enforcement.

Restaurant in Old Barn Planned at Purdue

West Lafayette, IN) - There could be a slight change from the original plans of a combination restaurant-brewery or distillery inside of a nearly 90-year-old barn to be reassembled at Purdue University.


The barn, at a farm in Sheridan roughly 40 miles north of Indianapolis, was taken apart with the materials placed in storage after the original plans were announced in March.


The plan is still to reassemble the barn at some point at Squirrel Park in the Discovery Park District on the West Lafayette campus.


However, the barn can be strictly only for restaurant use, said Paul Bercot, Project Manager at the Discovery Park District.  Bercot said the original company that was going to operate a theoretical multi-purpose facility in the barn was not able to obtain financing because of factors like higher interest rates.


“That’s kind of in the direction it was going at that time,” he said.


Bercot said talks are now occurring with another restaurant-operating company that might have a slight change of vision for the over-10,000 square feet of space.


“We talk to different companies that operate and run those types of things and it’s kind of their job to figure out what would be the best of that space,” he said.


The barn will start being reassembled once a deal is struck, which he strongly believes could happen in the very near future.


“We’re in deep talks with a new operator now. I would be very surprised here if in the next six months we haven’t started construction on it,” he said.


Per Bercot, a vast majority of the barn's pieces, dating back to 1938, are in great shape. Each piece was inspected for insect damage and properly treated before placed into storage.


Every effort will be made during reassembly for the barn to look exactly as it once did, but there could be some changes or modernization depending on the needs of the operator and current building code requirements.


“The goal is that when you walk inside of it, it has at least the look and feel of the barn structure,” he said.


Originally, the barn housed horses before being converted into a swine feed lot. Most recently, Bercot said, it was used strictly for storing a variety of farm-related materials.


The Purdue Research Foundation has led the way in creating the Discovery Park District, a $1 billion development that includes about 150 residences and high-end office space, along with state of the art research facilities and laboratories atop 400 acres on the southwest side of the campus.


The still-evolving district opened in 2020.


Bercot said the vision is for it to become a "live-work-play community" primarily for faculty, and to attract future talent to the campus via offering the convenience of easy access to work and amenities like restaurants.


Right now, there are just a select number of food providers involved, such as a donut shop and coffee house in the district. Bercot said the barn is a perfect fit  because of Purdue University’s longstanding reputation in agriculture, and major role the school plays in the industry.


He said a barn-restaurant also has the potential to become a destination for people in the surrounding area.


“It’s definitely going to fit what we feel is going to be a niche in the market that currently isn’t represented,” he said.


Sonny Beck, CEO of Beck’s Superior Hybrids and member of the Purdue University Board of Trustees, donated the barn at his farm for future use in the district.


Under his direction, the company has grown to become the largest family-owned retail seed company in the U.S.


Beck is also a Purdue alumnus, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in agronomy in 1962, and later a Master of Arts degree in agricultural economics.


The Purdue Research Foundation is paying the cost of taking down the barn and putting it back up. Whoever operates it will be responsible for the expense of making the structure functional.


The district is also home to businesses that can benefit from the research, along with current and future talent at the university.


PRF President Brian Edelman said the park will continue to grow and evolve from adding more corporate partners and the jobs they bring to the area.


“Our job is to make sure the corporations that decide to locate in the Discovery Park District receive the keys to Purdue University, ensuring that all of the research and recruiting interests of the companies are met and met at the speed of business,” he said.

Gunshot Technology Leads to Arrests

(Michigan City, IN) - People firing guns in Michigan City are now at a higher risk of being caught, judging by arrests last night.


Police informed that the city’s new gunshot detection technology went off, indicating a gun was fired on Pleasant Avenue.


Responding officers soon located a vehicle matching the description of that linked to the gunfire, pulling it over after the driver disregarded a stop sign at the corner of North Dickson and Hobart streets.


The driver, 20-year-old Davion Washington, along with two boys ages 16 and 13, were arrested.


Washington was charged with Possession of Marijuana, while the 16-year-old boy was charged with Theft of a Firearm, Child in Possession of a Firearm and Possession of Marijuana.  The youngest boy was only charged with Possession of Marijuana.


Later, police went back to Pleasant Avenue and, during a search of a home, seized a loaded handgun along with additional ammunition.

Semi Flees After Striking House

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police are hoping to identify the driver of a semi-truck who hit a house last night.


Officers lwere called to County Road 875 West near LaCrosse, where nobody was home at the time the truck hit the residence.


A home surveillance camera showed a white semi-truck backing up in the driveway, the driver fleeing after the trailer it was hauling struck the house and the attached garage.


Unfortunately, police said, the video footage was not able to provide a license plate number or any other identifyable markings on the semi.


Investigators are still hopeful, though, because the owner plans to have the video footage cleaned up in an effort to get a better view of any vehicle registration number that might have been captured by the camera. 


The brick and lower frame of the residence was damaged, in addition to the main door on the garage.


According to police, the truck driver may have used the driveway to turn around after he veered off course from U.S. 421, due to it being closed at the Kankakee River. 

Christmas Candlelight Tour Returning

(La Porte, IN) - A holiday tradition in La Porte is coming back this year.


The Christmas Candlelight Tour will be back in early December, after a four-year hiatus caused by COVID-19.


The tour of historic structures is put on by a group called Preserve Historic La Porte. Preserve Historic La Porte Vice-President Ella Bilderback said the courthouse, six houses and a church are on this year’s tour.


“We expect to have a decent turnout. We’ve had folks asking are you going to have it? So, we’re finally back,” she said.


The tour is scheduled December 2nd and 3rd.


For more information, go to preservehistoriclaporte.org.


The Christmas Candlelight Tour was an annual event for about 20-years until the start of the pandemic.

New Yearly Clean-Up Approaching

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte residents looking to get rid of a few things before the cold of winter comes will be able to do so in the coming weeks.


Citizens, from October 16th to the 20th, can discard of  large and heavy trash on their regular trash pick-up day. However, this upcoming pick-up is not exactly like the previous fall and spring clean-ups.


Mayor Tom Dermody said the first “Large/Heavy Trash Pick Ups” will take place once annually and include some different guidelines.


“Our residents grew very accustomed to the Fall and Spring Clean Ups that were provided by RTS,” Dermody said.


RTS is the city’s former trash-hauler, whose contract was not renewed earlier this year due to many service complaints. Waste Management has now assumed the role of service-provider.


Dermody said the city’s Dumpter Program has reduced the need to have pick-ups in the spring and fall.


“With our new trash vendor comes a new set of guidelines for item size and weight, so I encourage all our residents to review these stipulations closely to ensure they aren’t missed,” he said.


For a complete list of acceptable and unacceptable items, visit cityoflaporte.com.

Arrest in Foot Chase from Go-Cart

(La Porte, IN) - A man on a go-cart wound up in an ultimately futile foot chase in a La Porte neighborhood last night.


Eric Powell, 43, has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Level 6 Felony Possession of Methamphetamine, as well as other counts including Misdemeanor Resisting Law Enforcement.


Around midnight, police said, an officer spotted a go-cart southbound on Lawrence St. and the driver, after seeing the officer, locked the brakes and turned before stopping when the engine died on Jefferson Avenue.


Powell was trying to restart the engine when the approaching officer asked what he was doing. According to court documents, Powell kept placing his hands in and out of his pockets despite commands to keep them in plain view.  Eventually Powell, when allegedly found with a plastic baggie containing more than three grams of meth, took off running.


The foot chase went between several houses before Powell was grabbed outside of a home in the 600 block of Lawrence Street. Powell also tripped, causing him to break a railing, a plexiglass window and flower pot.  The officer had to apply force to place him into handcuffs, and a search of his backpack allegedly turned up a glass smoking pipe.

Living in Storage Unit Arrest

(La Porte, IN) - A man is behind bars after being caught with drugs while living in a La Porte storage unit.


Nicholas Lee, 35, has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Level 6 Felony Possession of Methamphetamine and Misdemeanor Criminal Trespassing.


Last night, a police officer stopped at the Slicer Storage Units at 215 E. Lincolnway to check in on an ongoing problem regarding subjects living in storage units on the property.


Lee was previously given a trespassing warning, but the officer noticed his bicycle outside of the storage units.


The officer, noticing an extension cord going underneath a door to one of the units as well as voices from inside, then opened the door to find Lee and a woman sitting in lawn chairs alongside two plastic baggies, each containing a small amount of meth.


The La Porte man was arrested, while the woman was released after being given a warning for trespassing.

"Gotta Go Joe Tour" Stops in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Some people traveling the country voicing opposition to reelecting President Joe Biden next year stopped in La Porte this afternoon.


They pulled up next to Subway on Pine Lake Avenue in a red, white, and blue motorhome seemingly promoting the “Joe Gotta Go Tour” alongside a goofy-looking image of Biden’s face.


Shirts emblazoned with the slogan were placed on tables set up in the open lot for people to purchase.


Bruce Carter, from Texas, is with a group of about 20 other people going to different locations throughout the country expressing a belief that Biden and other Democrats are not good for the country or African Americans.


Carter alleged that more black people, like himself, are throwing their support behind conservatives because the Democrats have supposedly entrapped many African Americans into poverty and crime since the 60s with government assistance programs like welfare. On the other hand, to Carter, conservatives emphasize the importance of hard work to lift people and families out of poverty.


“We got to earn it. Everybody does,” he said.


Carter said the people in his group travel mostly to major urban centers, primarily having roundtable discussions with African Americans in hosts' homes.


“We teach them about conservative values and why we got to do this to protect our schools, to change the crime rate, and just show them why the Democrat party has failed them,” he said.


He said some of the stops, though, are in small towns “that are as redneck as can be but we have food and fun and enjoy each other.”


“When you hear people say people of color or colored people. No, we’re Americans.  A lot of the policies put into place by Democrats have just not been beneficial to black families,” he said.


Carter, 52, said he stopped in La Porte at the request of a local resident he met recently during his travels, also expressing support for the country music song “Try That In a Small Town” by Jason Aldean. Critics and major outlets have accused the song of containing racial dogwhistles, surrounding the song's subject matter of big city crimes a "small town" wouldn't tolerate.


Carter said crime is crime no matter what race is committing it, and shouldn’t be encouraged by Democratic Party beliefs and policies.


“At the end of the day, don’t do it,” he said.

Commissioner Cleared of Any Wrongdoing

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte County Commissioner has been cleared of alleged criminal wrongdoing by a special prosecutor after looking into the claims.


Connie Gramarossa was investigated, with help from Indiana State Police, for alleged acts such as taking a county-owned vehicle out of state without permission and signing a document in the name of Commissioner Joe Haney.


Marshall County Prosecutor E. Nelson Chipman, Jr. ruled that the findings of the investigation showed Gramarossa had committed the acts, but there was no intent on her part of breaking of the law. In his ruling, Chipman referred to the bitter political fighting amongst current and former commissioners and others in and around the county government over the past two and a half years in his written ruling.


“The people’s business is far too important for that to continue.  La Porte County government is no exception. This squabble is better resolved at the ballot box rather than a jury box,” he said.


The findings included Gramarossa visiting family members at Westville in March via her assigned county government-owned vehicle. She took the vehicle out-of-state upon beinginformed during her visit that her son was in a hospital emergency room in Chicago.  Several hours later, she left the hospital before striking the back end of another vehicle early in the morning.


Chipman said she violated county policy, but the policy is confusing in terms of who to seek permission from or if permission can be granted as an elected official herself before taking a vehicle to another state, adding to the liklihood of her being acquitted by a jury in the case of a trial.  


The allegations of forgery involved her signing the name of Commissioner Haney on the copy of a policy document requested in early January by Commissioner Rich Mrozinski while he was in Florida.


Gramarossa signed her name and Haney’s name on the signature lines of the document.


Per Chipman, Gramarossa explained she did so at Haney’s request, but Haney denied giving her permission. Regardless, Chipman said there was no attempt by Gramarossa to make the signature look like Haney’s, which shows no intention of breaking the law.


“No attempt was made to imitate or otherwise disguise the signature of Joe Haney as both names were obviously in the same handwriting,” he said.


Her attorney, Stan Wruble, of Indianapolis reacted to the decision at Wednesday night’s La Porte County Commissioners’ meeting.


“If you want to use the term witch hunt, you can use that term. It’s not a term I use but I am hoping through the remainder of the terms of the commissioners that La Porte County can do the work of the people. It’s very important work that the three of you do as commissioners. As a former elected official, I know how difficult that job can be,” he said.


Wruble is formerly from South Bend.

Boy Charged in School Dugout Fire

(Michigan City, IN) - A 14-year-old boy has been accused of setting a high school baseball dugout in Michigan City on fire, in addition to allegedly breaking into an adjacent concession stand.


This happened on Monday at the Marquette High School Athletic Complex on Pahs Road.


Police said the boy took flammable liquids while burglarizing the concession stand and used the materials to set a dugout on fire at the baseball field, still at the athletic complex when emergency responders arrived.


He then fled into a cornfield and wooded area before later reemerging while the crime scene was still being investigated. This attempt to allude authorities, however, was quickly resolved. 


The boy has been charged with Arson, Burglary and Institutional Criminal Mischief.


Emergency responders were contacted when a school bus driver spotted smoke coming from the athletic complex.


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

Man Dies After Crash During Chase

(Niles, MI) - A high speed chase in Michigan proved fatal for one of its participants.


According to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, 45-year-old Darrell Goodwin was driving a stolen vehicle when the pursuit began near South Bend on Tuesday.


The South Bend man crossed into Michigan and struck another vehicle before a traffic sign in Niles, fleeing on foot before being captured. Goodwin was then transported to Memorial Hospital in South Bend where he later died, apparently from injuries sustained in the crash.


No other people involved in the collision were injured. An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday.

Child Molestation Convictions Upheld

(Indianapolis, IN) - The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld the child molestation convictions of a man in La Porte County serving a 36-year sentence.


David Powers II, 52, was found guilty by a La Porte Circuit Court jury last year despite his absence from the trial. He later began serving his sentence after being apprehended in Tennessee.


According to court records, Powers unlawfully touched a 12-year-old girl on two occasions while the girl appeared to be sleeping.


Powers argued in his appeal that he did not receive a fair trial, and that the victim's testimony was so “incredibly dubious” and “inherently improbable” that no reasonable person could believe it.


The appeals court rejected Powers' claim, in part because the girl immediately sought help after being molested, and DNA testing following that second incident provided "very strong" circumstantial evidence that Powers molested her.


"Although Powers claims that (the girl's) DNA could have gotten on his fingers from touching another surface that contained her DNA, such as a doorknob, this argument was presented to the jury and rejected," the appellate judges said.


"The incredible dubiosity doctrine does not apply here," the appellate judges said. 


Powers, who lived in Lake Station at the time of the molestations, can request the Indiana Supreme Court review his case. Otherwise, his earliest possible release date from prison is February 12th, 2049, according to the Indiana Department of Correction.

Symbol of Future Now a Symbol of Past

(La Porte, IN) - The old La Porte Hospital building is a shell of its former self nearly three months after demolition started.


Mayor Tom Dermody was a bit stunned at the seven story structure looking sort-of like a skeleton but also excited about the future prospects of the site.


“You just always wondered what it would be without the hospital because I grew up with that hospital here.  Now, we’re going to have an opportunity to redevelop with the hospital something really neat for the future of La Porte,” he said.


It’s been close to three years since the downtown hospital along Lincolnway moved to the four story, 200,000 square foot Northwest Health facility a short distance away on State Street


Hospital and city officials have been working together on deciding how the use the site after completion of the demolition and clean-up. For the short term, the site owned by the hospital will become a grassy area for the public to enjoy. A decision on its long term use has not been made yet.


Dermody said his vision is for the site is a public gathering space for special events to further the new activities hosted in the downtown since he became mayor in 2020.


He also would like part of the grounds used for new housing.


“It’s a fresh start right downtown,” he said.


So far, no timetable has been set on when to begin long-term redevelopment of the property, with demolition on schedule to be finished before the end of the year.


Leigh Morris, a former president and chief executive officer of the hospital for more than 20-years, seemed more impacted by the teardown. Morris said he drove by the site early in the demolition, but hasn’t returned to avoid confronting emotions from a major chapter in his life vanishing from the landscape.


He called the building, which opened in 1972, a symbol of the community once served by two hospitals in aging facilities, both banding together for better medical care. Community members raised money to help finance construction of the former hospital originally overseen by a board of citizens.


Morris, who served one term as Mayor after his tenure at the hospital ended in the late 1990’s, accepts that nothing is forever, but asserts keeping an eye on the future.  


“Although I’m sad to see it go, I think we got to recognize that change is inevitable. Hopefully, the new hospital that we have is going to serve for another generation or two,” he said.


Whatever becomes of the site, Morris said he wants it to become something valuable for the city.


“I hope it’s developed in such a way that it adds to the vibrancy of downtown and makes it a more appealing place for people to want to be,” he said.

Driver Seriously Hurt in Semi Collision

(La Porte County, IN) - One person was seriously hurt in a collision between a semi-truck and a sport utility vehicle in La Porte County this week.


The accident happened at about 6 p.m. Monday on U.S. 20.


La Porte County Police said the driver of a westbound semi locked up his brakes for an upcoming traffic light at Fail Road, only to broadside a southbound SUV at the intersection.


Jing Wang, 50, who was the driver of the SUV, was airlifted to a South Bend hospital for injuries, including broken ribs and a fractured collar bone.


The 56-year-old truck driver refused medical attention.


The semi, which left more than 300 feet of skid marks on the pavement, overturned and spilled some of the cargo it was hauling.


According to witnesses, traffic was at a standstill for close to an hour until the highway was able to be reopened.


Mother of Children Targeted in Alleged Hit

(La Porte, IN) - A man is accused of hiring a hitman from inside the La Porte County Jail to kill the mother of his children and her new boyfriend.


The hitman was an undercover police officer, acting on a tip, who negotiated the terms of the murder-for-hire plot.


Those are among the new details obtained in the case against Daniel Shaffer, 45, who stands charged in La Porte Circuit Court with two counts each of Attempted Murder and Conspiracy to Commit Murder.


According to court records, Shaffer was in the jail waiting for a verdict on his prior auto theft and drug related-charges, when he allegedly began talking to a cellmate about wanting the individuals killed over an ongoing child custody battle. His cellmate told him he knew people on the outside who could possibly carry out the task.


Word then leaked out to authorities, who sent a police officer posing as a hitman to the jail to gauge his level of interest per La Porte County Police Detective James Fish during a probable cause hearing on Friday.


“We were not exactly sure how serious he was at the time,” he said.


Fish said the undercover investigation resulted in a deal where Shaffer would pay $4,000 per body, allegedly agreeing to a down payment of $1,000 in construction tools and making cash payments to retire the balance, ranging anywhere from $200 to $300 a month.


Fish testified that the undercover investigation included taking pictures of the man and woman coming to and from their residence on Rumely Street in La Porte, and showing the images to Shaffer who confirmed it was them he wanted killed before an upcoming child custody hearing.


“He did not want to know the details. He just wanted it done,” he said.


Fish noted it was uncovered that a newborn infant was in the home, but Shaffer did not want the baby harmed. He also revealed Shaffer, from the jail, made arrangements for the officer, whom he thought was the hitman, to pick up the tools, consisting of a wire stripper, a battery-powered skill saw, etc.


Eventually, he said, Shaffer apparently became suspicious that he had been "set up" when the killings did not occur.


If convicted, Shaffer would face an up to 40-year sentence on each of the attempted murder counts, and 10-to-30 years on each of the remaining charges.

Raiders Back on Winning Track in Football

(New Buffalo, MI) - The Red Arrow Raiders came back from their only defeat this season to win their third game of high school football, 36-20 at Eau Claire on Friday, September 15th.


“It was just a really good, physical, competitive football game,” said Raiders Head Coach Matt Johnson


The score was 8-8 at halftime.


During the third period, the Raiders (3-1) gave themselves some breathing room with two touchdowns before the Beavers put the ball into the endzone again.


The highlights for the Raiders included 48 yard touchdown runs by senior halfback Owen Slavens and junior quarterback Ethan Lijewski.


Senior Payton Lijewski wound up in the endzone twice on pass receptions, while junior M’Nason Smothers rushed for a touchdown.


On defense, Vaugh Nikkel had 11 tackles and assisted on 14 others. Slavens had three solo tackles and assisted with 15 in turn, while Cam Forker recorded five solo tackles and assisted with another seven (on top of recovering a fumble).


Payton Lijewski was involved in 12 total tackles while David Nicely added five solo tackles, including three for loss of yardage.


The Raiders' defense gave up only one big scoring play, a 46-yard touchdown run, and held the Beavers to 236 yards, rushing on 62 attempts.


Eau Claire had just seven yards passing.


“They had to fight tooth and nail for every yard they got. I would say that’s probably our best defensive effort of the season,” he said.


Offensively, the Raiders had 332 total yards with 256 of those yards gained on 32 rushes.


Lijewski threw for 76 yards by completing seven out of 14 passing attempts.


Johnson said he was pleased with how his team responded after starting the season with two blowout victories, then losing to Marcellus 68-26 the previous week.


The level of physical play against Eau Claire was what he had hoped to see against Marcellus, which was more dominating on the field with their strength and size.


“We were a week late but sometimes you have to learn those tough lessons,” he said.

Local School Brings Home National Recognition

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - Rolling Prairie Elementary has been named a National Blue Ribbon School for 2023 by the United States Department of Education. 


The National Blue Ribbon award is a prestigious honor, given to schools that show excellence in overall academic performance and show substantial progress at closing achievement gaps on state assessments.


Krissy Surma, a kindergarten teacher at the school, said called the award “an incredible honor for all of our staff and students.” 


“The work we do together as a team to make sure every student is educated, loved, and cared for makes this the best place to be,” she said.


Fourth Grade Teacher Michele Kenaga said the attitude at the school, nicknamed "Bulldogs," is to embrace change, move forward and celebrate successes.


“I love the way we hold each other up, yet also hold each other accountable to ensure all students are making gains on high levels of learning,” she said.


Principal Dr. Pamela Moore said the school promotes a culture that supports and believes in all of the students.

“Practice makes progress” is what we believe contributes to our academic excellence,” she said.


Rolling Prairie Elementary School is part of the New Prairie School Corporation, which lists total enrollment throughout the district at more than 2,800 students.

Another Daycare Provider Replacing YMCA

(La Porte, IN) - The YMCA in La Porte is getting out of the childcare business, but another group will immediately fill their shoes.


On October 1st, the Learning Tree, of Valparaiso, will take over the program operated out of a city-owned building on Monroe Street joining the rest of the locations it owns in Valpo.


Last night, the City Council agreed to transfer the lease of the building from the YMCA to the Learning Tree, a move that keeps the 70-or-so families currently using the service from having to find another provider.


City Councilman Tim Franke, who’s a member of the YMCA Board of Directors, said he expects the Learning Tree to provide a much better service.


“We knew as a board we weren’t really good at childcare. In fact, quite the opposite. It’s really not the Y’s mission to provide full-time day care,” he said.


La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership Executive Director Bert Cook was among the speakers at the City Council meeting. He said companies already have difficulty filling job openings, and access to affordable child care is one of the barriers that keep some parents from entering the workforce.


“We strongly encourage your support of this building lease and helping address what’s an issue not just in our community but in all of our neighboring communities and across the United States as well,” he said.


Jessica Romine, a member of the YMCA board and the La Porte Board of Public Works and Safety, said there will be no disruption in service or change in rates for at least the next 12 months. The facility will continue to be open daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.


Romine said the Learning Tree also has a four-star rating, which is the highest possible ranking in the state, at five of its facilities and is currently working to elevate the three-star rating at its other sites.


“We’re just really excited that this is going to take place and this is going to happen,” she said.


The YMCA provides childcare at a city-owned facility at 2510 Monroe Stret. The council agreed to transfer the lease to the Learning Tree and extend it for three years.


Officials said the hope is for the Learning Tree to grow the number of families it can serve by having a more stable workforce.  Romine said the YMCA has had trouble maintaining proper staffing levels at the daycare facility since COVID-19.

Suspect Develops in Theft Spree

(La Porte County, IN) - A Michigan City man linked to a number of thefts from motor vehicles has been arrested.


Cleophis Swanson, 31, has been charged with Level 6 Felony Theft and Misdemeanor Unauthorized Entry of a Motor Vehicle. His alleged activities came to an end Friday, when deputies, at about 1 a.m., were called to the 4600 block of Vintage Court.


A surveillance camera belonging to a resident captured the image of a subject entering a vehicle parked in a driveway. During a search for the suspect, police said, several articles belonging to recently victimized residents were discovered on the ground in addition to an abandoned vehicle elsewhere in the neighborhood.


Officers, waiting for the vehicle to leave, saw it drive away a few hours later and ultimately pulled it over at the corner of 400 North and 800 West. Swanson was identified as the driver, and vidence allegedly linking him to the recent thefts was also recovered.


His arrest came during a period of increased overnight  theft from motor vehicles mostly in that specific area 

Murder for Hire Plot Charges

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte man is accused of attempting to arrange the murders of two individuals.


Daniel Shaffer, 45, is currently being held in the La Porte County Jail on $100,000 bond for two counts of Attempted Murder and two counts of Conspiracy to Commit Murder. So far, the identities of those whom he was attempting to kill through a third party have not yet been released.


Law enforcement agencies at both local and federal levels recently began investigating the allegations while Shaffer was already in the La Porte County Jail on auto theft and drug-related charges.


When approached multiple times by undercover law enforcement, police noted, “Investigators not only verified Mr. Shaffer’s intent to solicit the two murders, but collected evidence that ultimately led to Mr. Shaffer’s arrest."


The latest charges were brought when Judge Tom Alevizos ruled the evidence was sufficient enough for Shaffer to have to defend himself against the allegations.


He’s scheduled for his initial court hearing on the case this Friday.


We'll provide more details as they become available. 

PNW Earning High Marks

(Hammond, Westville) - Purdue University Northwest has earned recognition for several undergraduate programs and social mobility in U.S. News & World Report’s 2024 annual Best Colleges rankings.


PNW has been named a top regional university in the Midwest and ranked 33rd among public institutions.


Among regional Midwest universities, PNW is also a top performer in social mobility, a category measuring how well a university graduates Pell Grant recipients. PNW, in addition, earned marks for its quality undergraduate programs in Engineering, Nursing, Psychology and Computer Science.


“Purdue University Northwest is recognized again as a top academic destination for motivated students to attain a high-quality college experience,” said PNW Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Kenneth C. Holford.


PNW’s School of Engineering ranked 58th nationally among engineering schools whose highest awarded degrees are Bachelor’s or Master’s.


PNW’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program was named 86 nationally among best undergraduate nursing programs, moving up 49 spots from the previous year’s rankings.


PNW’s College of Nursing was designated a Center of Nursing Excellence by the National League for Nursing.

Quite a Dent in Hospital Demolition

(La Porte, IN) - If they weren't already, the days are definitely numbered now for the old La Porte Hospital building.


Much of the seven-story structure resembles a skeleton due to the ongoing demolition work that began in late June.


Mayor Tom Dermody was taken back somewhat by what the building looks like now, but said he’s excited over what it could mean for the city in the future.


“You just always wondered what it would be without the hospital because I grew up with that hospital here.  Now, we’re going to have an opportunity to redevelop with the hospital something really neat for the future of La Porte,” he said.


So far, no decision has been made on how that site will be used for the long-term, but Dermody notes that talks are ongoing between the city and Northwest Health, the owner of the old hospital property.


In the short-term, the site will become a green space for the public to enjoy.


Eventually, Dermody's vision is for the site to become some type of a public gathering space for special events, perhaps. He would also like to see part of the site used for new housing.


So far, no timetable has been set for long-term redevelopment of the property.


“It’s a fresh start right downtown in the center of all activities,” he said.


The demolition is on schedule to be finished before the end of the year.

Man Charged with Multiple Sex-Related Crimes

(Michigan City, IN) - A recently-arrested Michigan City man could face spending the rest of his life in prison.


Anthony Johnson, Jr., 37, has been charged with seven counts of Child Molestation; six counts of Rape and one count of Vicarious Sexual Gratification. He could face anywhere from a 20-to-40 year sentence on each of the child molestation counts alone.


The investigation began on August 9th in response to a complaint received by the Indiana Department of Child Services. The findings were presented two days later, to a judge who ruled there was sufficient enough evidence gathered during the investigaton to warrant filing charges.


Johnson was arrested Sunday. and is currently being held in the La Porte County Jail on $100,000 cash-only bond.


Under Indiana law, Johnson could also face anywhere from 3-to-16 years on each of the Rape counts, and 2-to-12 years on the remaining count.


Further specifics on the allegations have not been released. 

Slicers Battle but Fall to Lake Central 17-12

The Slicer football team was one big play short of upsetting Lake Central Friday on Senior Night at Kiwanis Field. In the final 2:33 of game the Slicers had two possessions. A touchdown and extra point on the first could have tied the game, a touchdown on the second could have won it. Instead, the Slicers fall to 1-4 on the season and 0-3 in the Duneland.


La Porte, trailing 17-10 in the 4th quarter, forced a Lake Central punt with 2:47 remaining.  Starting at their own 37, the Slicers picked up 2 yards on a Drew Flores run, lost 6 yards on busted running play, then threw an incompletion. Facing 4th and 14 sophomore quarterback Aiden Penziol found Flores streaking down the right sideline for 27 yards and a first down with 1:00 left in the game. LP went for the end zone on the next play but Lake Central’s Mylan Davis wrestled the ball away from a Slicer receiver for an interception inside the one yard line to seemingly ice game. 


The Slicer defense had other ideas. The Indians lined up with quarterback Chase Kwiatkowski five yards behind center in the end zone. On the first snap, linebacker Kyle Freel blitzed and tackled Kwiatkowski for a safety making the score 17-12 with 45.5 seconds left. Lake Central’s short, free kick from the 20 yard line put the Slicers on the Indian’s 41 yard line.  


Penziol was forced to scramble on the first play and picked up 11 yards to the LC 30. After spiking the ball to stop the clock, a sack, then an incompletion the Slicers were facing 4th down and 21 from the 42. Penziol, again under pressure, somehow found Ollie Kring open at the 19 yard line for a first down. There were 9.2 seconds left after LP spiked the ball to stop the clock. Penziol then found Flores at the back of the end zone. The pass was complete but Flores was a step out of bounds. LP had time for one more play, but Penziol’s pass to Keigan Henckel was incomplete as time ran out.


It was a back and forth game throughout. The LP Defense forced Lake Central to punt on the game’s first possession. Kring had an excellent return to the LC 43 yard line. The Slicers drove to the Lake Central 16 before a penalty stalled the drive. Jack Doty kicked a 38 yard field goal at the 3:48 mark of the first quarter to give La Porte a 3-0 lead. The drive covered 43 yards in nine plays.


Lake Central answered three plays later. Kwiatkowski found speedy LJ Richardson for 53 yards and a touchdown. Trever Baldin kicked the extra point and LC led 7-3 with 3:02 left in the opening quarter. 


On Lake Central’s next possession, Kai Jones scooped up an Indian fumble and appeared to take it in for a touchdown. He was ruled out of bounds at the LC 38. On the first play of the second quarter Flores, lined up at quarterback, and sprinted 40 yards for a score. Doty’s kick made it 10-7 Slicers with 11:51 left in the half.


Neither team was able to score the remainder of the second quarter. LC did threaten but missed a 41 yard field goal with 5.7 seconds left. La Porte led 10-7 at the break.


The only scoring in the third came at the 6:11 mark on a 27 yard Baldin field goal tying the game at 10. Doty missed a 44 yarder to the left at the 3:11 mark.


Lake Central scored what proved to be the winning touchdown with 7:39 remaining. Richardson caught a 48 yard TD pass from Kwiatkowski. Baldin kicked the extra point. 


One of the game officials injured his leg late in the first quarter and was unable to continue. The remainder of the game was played with four referees. Slicer linebacker Javelle Broome was injured on the same play and did not return.  


Drew Flores was back in action for the first time since the New Prairie game. He was named the Salisbury and Spence Edward Jones Player of the Game. He caught four passes for 66 yards and ran 11 times from the wildcat formation for 90 yards and a touchdown.


Penziol was 9-21 passing for 101 yards. Tre Bechtel ran 15 times for 36 yards. Jon Laine ran twice for 18 yards. Kring caught 3 balls for 30 yards, Henckel had a catch for 7 yards.


The Slicers hit the road next Friday, travelling to Merrillville, kickoff at 7:00. The game can be heard on WCOE 96.7 the Eagle with pregame a 6:45.

Boy Charged with Having Gun in School

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City High School student has been accused of bringing a gun to school.


According to police, the 16-year-old boy displayed the gun to other students in one of the restrooms at Michigan City High on September 11th.


Police became involved the day after, having received a tip and then conducting an investigation that resulted in the juvenile being arrested two days later at his residence.


The evidence included a Snap Chat video of the boy, allegedly showing the gun to classmates in the restroom. He was absent from school the next two days, taken into custody after a brief foot chase.


The individual has been charged with the Unlawful Carrying of a Handgun on School Property, a Level 5 Felony, along with Pointing a Firearm and Criminal Recklessness, both Level 6 Felonies, and Misdemeanor Child in Possession of a Firearm.


An advisement was sent electronically and to the phones of all the students' parents once the tip about the gun in school was verified.

Heavy Turnout Again for Sunflower Fair

(La Porte, IN) - Close to 10,000 or more people attended the 24th annual Sunflower Fair in downtown La Porte.


Whatever the number, there’s no denying that a several-block section of Michigan Avenue closed to host much of the one-day fair on Saturday, which was packed with people enjoying what seemed like perfect late-summer weather.


La Porte Events Coordinator Brett Binversie said there were more than 140 artisan vendors and about 20 food vendors to go, in addition to the over-130 antique vehicles on display along the streets during the fair, which ran from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.


Other attractions included live music, along with carnival-type rides and games for young children.


Binversie said attendance may have set a Sunflower Fair record, but there was no way to know since people were allowed to stroll in from each direction at no cost are not counted.


“I see new people coming in every hour.  It’s a nice steady crowd,” he said.


A 1957 Volkswagen Beetle owned by Matthew Tulacz of La Porte was among the vehicles in the antique car show. Tulacz said he came across the once-baby blue colored vehicle stored in a barn in 1992 and purchased it for $1,000.


With help from his brother-in-law, Mike, restoration of the car began about 10-years later.


Tulacz said the now-indigo metallic blue car draws a lot of attention primarily because of its new, striking color.


“It still gets a lot of looks even here with all of the big muscle cars.  It gets a lot of looks,” he said.


Also turning heads was a 1927 Studebaker pick-up truck owned by Bob Paul of Hudson Lake. Paul said he obtained the truck after it burned up in a garage fire many years ago.


He put a new backend on the vehicle as part of its restoration.


Paul said he never repainted the truck, preferring the rustic look the metal body took on from exposure to the flames.


“It’s kind of a neat thing. It’s a lot of fun.  A lot of people like it,” he said.


A smooth-riding 1988 Rolls Royce owned by Joe Novak of La Porte also captured the imaginations of many onlookers.


Novak said the paint, and everything else on the car he purchased a few years ago from an estate for about $30,000, is original. He said the luxury car, when brand new, was priced at $159,000.


“It’s all hand-assembled,” he said.


Novak said he uses the car to provide rides for people to graduation ceremonies and other special events, while dressed as a chauffeur to reflect the culture in England where that brand of car is made.


“When this became available, I figured I’d snatch it up because I wanted something nobody else has,” he said.


Food vendors seemed very busy.


For example, the La Porte Assembly of God was expecting to sell up to 500 Chicago Dogs as a church fundraiser, judging by the number of sales at their booth by noon.


“We started doing this last year and it went over really well so now it’s sort of become our thing,” said Heidi Grace, whose husband, Jeff, is the church pastor.

New Prairie Spoils Homecoming for South Bend St. Joe

(South Bend, IN) - Two 3-1 teams, New Prairie and South Bend St. Joseph, met Friday night, vying for the top spot in the NIC-North. After dropping their season openers, each team had won three in a row coming into the night, which was Homecoming at Father Bly Field.


New Prairie’s defense was tested early and often. St. Joe’s returned the opening kickoff 40 yards, then had their way with the Cougar secondary, moving the ball easily through the air. The Indians scored quickly, but missed an extra point. New Prairie responded with a dominant running game. A long run by senior quarterback Marshall Kmieciek plus a St. Joe penalty put the Cougars at the Indians’ 25. A few plays later, a four-yard touchdown run by senior Brock Sinka tied the game.


St. Joe’s kept the air attack on, scoring another passing touchdown, but the extra point was blocked by senior lineman Dylan Wilson. New Prairie’s defense stiffened in the second quarter. Meanwhile Kmiecik broke free for touchdown runs of 63 and 42 yards to give the Cougars a 10-point lead at halftime.


Kmiecik’s otherwise stellar night was marred by a fumble on the first play of the second half. St. Joe’s capitalized with a 25-yard touchdown pass. A subsequent New Prairie drive stalled but was saved by an Indians roughing the kicker penalty. Kmiecik ran for a 3-yard score to put the Cougars back up by 10.


New Prairie’s bend-don’t-break defense gave up a long drive by St. Joseph early in the fourth quarter, but the Cougars were able to make a goal-line stand and recovered a fumbled snap exchange. The Indians pulled to within three with a subsequent scoring drive, but the Cougars were able to control the ball for nearly six minutes with seven straight running plays. The Indians received a punt with two seconds left in the game. On the last play, St. Joseph needed a Hail Mary, but their prayers weren’t answered. Final score: 29-26.


St. Joe's tandem of quarterback Alex Ortiz and wide receiver Hayden Miller connected for four touchdowns. Kmiecik countered with 223 rushing yards on 17 carries. He also completed all three of his pass attempts for 27 yards. The difference in the game was kicking. St. Joseph failed on two PATs. New Prairie made good on a two-point conversion, and senior kicker Owen Chalik made all three of his extra points attempts.


New Prairie’s defense kept St. Joe’s offense one-dimensional, allowing only 32 rushing yards. Junior Beau Kmiecik led Cougar tacklers with seven. Junior Brock Barcivic broke up two passes and recovered two fumbles.


New Prairie will return to South Bend next Friday to face John Adams (1-4).

Teen Arrested in Michigan City for Bringing Gun to School

(Michigan City, IN) - A 16-year-old Michigan City High School student is facing serious charges for allegedly bringing a gun to school earlier this week.


On Tuesday afternoon, an anonymous student reported that a classmate had brought a gun to the high school on Monday. A notice to parents was sent out via email and telephone.


Evidence collected, including a Snap Chat video, confirmed that a 16-year-old showed a gun to other students in a school bathroom. Police say the armed student was not present in the school building after Monday.


As a minor, the student has not been identified, but police say he was taken into custody Wednesday evening by two officers following a brief foot chase. The juvenile is being charged with Unlawful Carrying of a Handgun on School Property (Level 5 Felony), Pointing a Firearm (Level 6 Felony), Criminal Recklessness (Level 6 Felony) and Child in Possession of a Firearm (A- Misdemeanor).


Authorites commended the assistance of other students in bringing the matter to light. "Many students came forward to report what they knew about this incident," a statement by Michigan City Police said. "They took a stand for what is right and pointed out what should never be allowed to happen. They should be commended for the stance they took, and they should serve as a shining example to all."

Yakym Helping Lakeville Family with Legislation

(Washington, D.C.) - A Lakeville family is spearheading some possible life-saving legislation with the help of their local Congressman.


Janessa and Robert Newton learned the importance of monitoring a newborn’s heart rate and breathing when their son Bo had serious respiratory issues several years ago. They needed a device that would keep track of Bo’s vitals at home, but it wasn’t readily available, nor was it cheap.


Congresswoman Jackie Walorski was helping the Newtons push for legislation just prior to her death. This week 2nd District Representative Rudy Yakym picked up the cause, introducing a bill furthering the study of cardiorespiratory monitors. "The example of the Newton Family is inspiring," said Yakym. "They have helped shine a light on a pressing need in our nation: ensuring families have greater awareness of lifesaving medical technologies that can prevent infant deaths."


The Newtons are relieved that Bo's Act, which Walorski had supported, is now being carried forward, for the good of other children like their son. They said, "Knowing we have the possibility to change the lives of families with medically fragile children and infants, and lessen their burden even just a little bit, does our hearts good."


Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is the leading cause of death among newborns. About 3,400 sudden infant deaths occur each year in the U.S. Yakym and the Newtons hope that further research funding will turn that statistic around.

Closure on U.S. 421 Coming for Bridge Work

(Starke County, IN) - U.S. 421 south of La Crosse will be closed for a while on or after Monday, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.


A bridge deck overlay project is set to begin over the Kankakee River and Payne Ditch. That's in the area between C.R. W 400 S and C.R. W 2400 S.


The official detour will take traffic along S.R. 39 between S.R. 10 and S.R. 8.


That closure is expected to last through mid-November, so look for alternate routes south of La Crosse for the next couple of months.

Dirt Moved for High-rise Living

(Michigan City, IN) - A groundbreaking ceremony for a 14-story hotel and 12-story condominium tower was held Friday at a site close to Michigan City’s lakefront.


A rooftop swimming pool, fitness center and spa. along with restaurants, bars, cafes and retail shops are included in the construction plans for the site providing views of Lake Michigan on the upper levels of each building.


Farpoint Development, out of Chicago, is behind the estimated $240 million investment along U.S. 12, just a few hundred yards south of Washington Park.


Scott Goodman, founder and principal owner of the development firm, said the ongoing construction of a second South Shore Railroad commuter rail line to speed up travel to and from Chicago was a major factor behind the plans.


He spoke further, saying that there will be more than enough demand for the facilities because of the expected influx of Chicago residents coming here to visit and live due to round trip travel times by rail being reduced by more than one hour.


Construction of the second line between Gary and Michigan City is expected to be completed next year.


“We think it’s going to be a game changer for this part of Michigan City,” he said.


The site will contain 130 condominiums and 230 hotel rooms, along with 25,000 square feet of ground level retail and parking garage space, with room for close to 400 vehicles.


Alan Schachtman, a partner in the development firm, said 60 of the condominiums will be strictly for short-term rental use to meet demand for such housing locally. There will be two, three and four bedroom condominiums, with the larger ones priced at about $650,000.


“When you compare to Chicago, it’s going to be incredibly affordable,” he said.


About 100 of the hotel rooms will be suites, while the remaining rooms at the hotel will be more traditional.


Construction, likely starting before the end of the year, is expected to be completed in about two years.


Clarence Hulse, Executive Director of the Economic Development Corporation Michigan City, said the site is projected to generate $430 million in property, wages, and hotel taxes combined over a 15-year period.


“Not bad for a small town in the Midwest,” he said.


The double track project is also the incentive for a structure containing 200 luxury apartments on 12 floors above the new South Shore Railroad commuter line train station on 11th Street, just east of Franklin Street.


Skyler York, the city’s Director of Development and Planning, said construction of that facility will begin in about three weeks. He expects the economic impact from both sites to provide a significant boost to the revitalization that’s already taken place on the city’s north end over the past decade or so.


“We’ll have a lot of visitors here but also we’ll have permanent residents and people living downtown which is very important.  It’s a good thing,” he said.


Mayor Duane Parry called the hotel/condominium project “a turning point” for Michigan City realizing its potential of becoming “a jewel of the south shore of Lake Michigan.”


“This is going to set us apart,” he said.


Parry also said other developments, now in the talking stages, could emerge from the economic snowball effect anticipated from the double track as soon as early next year.


The entire lakefront area seems primed for major redevelopment.


Hulse said housing for the working class is the vision for the 100 acre Indiana State Prison site.


The Indiana Department of Correction has announced the prison in five years will merge into the new Westville Correctional Facility expected to start going up soon.


Higher end housing and other related amenities could go where the NIPSCO generating station now exists.  The lakefront generating station is slated to close in five years because of NIPSCO’s move toward solar and wind-powered energy.


The hotel/condominium site is also expected to be a springboard for reversing population decline and "brain drain" in the city.


Hulse said 20,000 new residents with 5,000 of those living on the north end is projected over the next 10 years.


“This parcel sets the tone for what’s going to come,” he said.

Arrests in Robbery

(Michigan City, IN) - Two La Porte County men could go to prison for a robbery in Michigan City.


Chance Bowlin, 22, of Kingsford Heights and Christopher Plantz, 19, of rural La Porte stand charged with Level 3 Felony Robbery and Class A Misdemeanor Resisting Law Enforcement.


Michigan City Police said a 27-year-old man reported being robbed of cash on Wednesday at about 7 p.m. at the BP gas station in the 1200 block of Franklin Street.


His description of the suspects quickly resulted in locating the suspects in the 1100 block of Cedar Street. 


The men fled on foot, but they were soon taken into custody. The stolen cash was also recovered.


The victim was transported to Franciscan Health for treatment of injuries suffered during the robbery that were thankfully not life-threatening.

Revolving Door to Jail for Drug Dealer

(Michigan City, IN) - A 20-year-old Michigan City man is again in trouble for drug and illegal gun-related allegations.


Kahlil Fly was arrested on Sunday in the 500 block of Pleasant Avenue in Michigan City. Officers, responding on a complaint, went inside a home and made contact with Fly, who was illegally in possession of a handgun with a machine gun conversion device attached to it.


Several different types of narcotics, such as pills and marijuana, were seized in plain view along with another gun and high capacity handgun magazines.


Fly is facing seven felony counts including Dealing in a Schedule I Controlled Substance, Dealing in a Narcotic Drug and Unlawful Carrying of a Handgun.


Less than a month ago, Fly was charged with Dealing Methamphetamine and Other Drugs.

Suicide Apparent in Motel Room Deaths

(La Porte County, IN) - It appears the two people found dead in a motel room outside Michigan City had committed suicide, according to La Porte County Coroner Lynn Swanson.


Swanson said that the man and woman seemingly took their own lives with a gun.


The bodies were discovered Tuesday morning at the Dunes Inn in the area of U.S. 421 and Interstate 94.


Whether or not drugs were involved in the apparent actions of the individuals is currently pending the results of a toxicology test.

Groundbreaking for High-Rises

(Michigan City, IN) - Groundbreaking is scheduled today at 10 AM on two high-rise buildings close to the lakefront in Michigan City.


A 14-story hotel and 12-story condominium tower is going to go up along U.S. 12 where the police station and News Dispatch building used to be, at what’s now the “You Are Beautiful” site.


A rooftop swimming pool, fitness center, and spa are included in the plans, along with restaurants, bars, cafes, and retail shops.


The estimated construction cost is $240 million.


The high rises are hoping to capitalize, in part, on the upgrades to the South Shore commuter line scheduled to be completed next year to significantly reduce travel times to and from Chicago.


The new buildings will be within a short walk of the new South Shore commuter line train station, Lighthouse Premium Outlets mall, and other nearby shops, as well as the Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa.

Recognition for Historic Furniture Store

(La Porte, IN) - A local business will soon be honored for well over a century of service.


Fenker’s Finer Furniture was established in 1903 by Fred Fenker and Robert Buck, who started the still-family-owned business in La Porte’s downtown at 709 Lincolnway.


In 1909, Fenker became the sole proprietor and moved the store to 717 Michigan Avenue, before moving again a year later to the 500 block of Lincolnway.


In 1925, the store moved into a new structure where it remains today in the 1100 block of Lincolnway.


In 1963, current owner Paul Fenker joined the business, which he now runs alongside his daughter, Allison Fenker Hertges.


The company, along with other businesses and individuals, will be recognized during a ceremony this Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the La Porte County Historical Society museum on U.S. 35 at the southern edge of the city.

Cops Grab Fugitives

(La Porte County, IN) - Members of the La Porte County Police Department’s Warrants Division, along with the Fugitive Apprehension Street Team, rounded up more fugitives Wednesday.

From 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., they rounded up three wanted felons.

They were Cherita Wright for Level 3 Felony Dealing in Methamphetamine; Benjamin Pomeroy for Level 5 Felony Domestic Battery and James Watt, wanted in Porter County for Level 5 Felony Child Solicitation.


Anyone who knows the whereabouts of a wanted person are encouraged to call law enforcement at (219) 608-9572.


Each of the suspects are being held without bond. 

Charges in Storage Unit Thefts

(La Porte County, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with the recurring theft of thousands of dollars in belongings from a storage facility near Rolling Prairie.


Jessica Bennett, 43, has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with two counts of Level 6 Felony Theft.


In late March, wo units were broken into at Parks Place Mini Storage at 2924 East Indiana 2.


According to court documents, a man showed up to one of the units to find a new lock on a door handle was missing. A tool box, valued at $4,000 and containing several thousands of dollars in sockets, socket extensions, and wrenches, was missing.  More sockets, socket extensions and wrenches were also taken from another tool box remaining in the storage unit.


Other items stolen included coolant testing kits and six five gallon buckets.


Surveillance video captured a Ford F-150 pick-up truck pulling in and leaving about 30 minutes later with a tool box and other items in the bed.


The South Bend woman was booked Monday into the La Porte County Jail, where she is still being held today on the charges and other previous theft-related counts.

Fall Enrollment Stable at PNW

(Westville-Hammond, IN) - Fall core enrollment at Purdue University Northwest is holding steady with increases in the graduate and international student populations.


“Enrollment data for 2023-24 show that motivated students continue to view Purdue Northwest as an excellent choice to attain a high-quality college education and enhance their lifelong career opportunities,” said PNW Chancellor Thomas L. Keon.


“It is also clear that continued investment in PNW’s advanced degree programs are attracting talented minds who want to earn additional credentials, grow their skills and improve their professional competitive advantage,” he said.


While the total number of undergraduate students at PNW decreased slightly compared to last fall, notable increases were observed in graduate student enrollment, up 5.7 percent, and international students, up about 43 percent.


Core undergraduate enrollment, which measures the number of students attending classes on the PNW campuses, was down by just 2.8%.


Causes of the decline include a lower number of college-age people in the population and fewer students in Indiana attending college.


According to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, 53 percent of Indiana’s high school graduating class of 2020 chose to go to college compared to 65 percent in 2015.

Another Candidate Enters Race

(La Porte, IN) - Another candidate has entered the race for a seat on the La Porte City Council, as Susan Antoszewski, a Democrat, is now running for one of the council at-large seats. 


Antoszewski, who has lived in La Porte for 15 years, said her focus includes public safety, drivable streets and walkable sidewalks. Her other priorities include keeping the cost of city services in check and citywide programs for everyone in the city, in addition to transparency.


“I want to help propel our community forward where members feel like they are part of the process rather than finding out after the fact they’ve been disregarded or unheard,” she adds.


Antoszewski used to work at the Chamber of Commerce in Valparaiso, where she spent close to 10-years helping small businesses and non-profits grow through positive programming and networking.


Currently, she serves as the Director of Customer Experience and Installation Coordinator at a large format printer in Valparaiso.


Her brother, retired La Porte firefighter Steve Luscomb, served on City  Council from 2009-2016 representing the 5th Ward.

Waste Collection Day Coming

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County residents have an upcoming opportunity for a good cleaning up of their properties.


The La Porte County Solid Waste District is holding its 7-In-1 recycling event on Saturday at the La Porte County Fairgrounds. From 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., people can bring appliances, household hazardous waste, bagged Styrofoam and cardboard along with other items for disposal. The materials will be collected and hauled away for recycling.


Tires will also be accepted but under a 50-tire limit.  There will be no charge for the first four standard car and truck tires.


Paper documents can also be brought in for shredding.  Various electronic items are among the other items that will be accepted.


Household hazardous waste items accepted include various solvents and cleaners, batteries, kerosene and gasoline along with oil based paints and aerosols.


Contact the La Porte County Solid Waste District for more information at (219) 326-0014.

Local Business Recognized for Longevity

(La Porte, IN) - Frank L. Keszei Funeral Home, Essling Chapel in La Porte is celebrating 65 years in business, and as a result, the funeral home has been issued a certificate of recognition and congratulations from Indiana Lieutenant Governor, Suzanne Crouch.


Keszei was also recently recognized by the Indiana Funeral Directors Association for holding a Funeral Director License for 40 years.


“It’s a team effort, I’ve been blessed to surround myself with great and caring people. The La Porte Community has been absolutely wonderful to be a part of,” he said.   


The Essling Funeral Home was founded in 1958 by Vincent and Ellen Essling. The original location of the funeral home was 1218 Michigan Avenue in La Porte.


In 1969 a new facility was built adjacent to the original funeral home to better serve a growing number of patrons, and was the first in LaPorte County to be built specifically as a funeral home.


The funeral home office is now located in the original building.

After Vincent and Ellen’s son, Mark, died in 2014, the Essling family was determined to find a funeral director to carry-on the family tradition. That same year, the funeral home was sold to Frank L. Keszei. Ever since, he said his aim has been holding true to the standards set by the founders in 1958. 


Mayor Tom Dermody and State Representative Jim Pressel were part of the recognition ceremonies. 

Marijuana Dispensary Customers Could Face Dealing Charges

(La Porte, IN) - A man and woman allegedly caught in Indiana with 15 pounds of dispensary marijuana products legally purchased in southwest Michigan could face drug-dealing charges.


Under Indiana law, marijuana is still illegal, and the large amount confiscated exceeds what’s necessary to look at while pursuing felony drug dealing charges.


The brother and sister from Wisconsin were apparently heading back home on the Indiana Toll Road before being pulled over by La Porte County Police for speeding on September 3rd.

During the traffic stop, the driver, Marsha Cruz, 43, purportedly told the officer they went to Buchanan (where several marijuana dispensaries operate) to “hang out” for a few hours.


Her answers to follow-up questions from the officer provided no real specifics on their purpose for driving over three hours from Waukesha County in Wisconsin, a state where marijuana also remains against the law.


Cruz also changed the subject multiple times during her conservation with the officer, seemingly trying to evade his efforts at getting to the truth.


According to police, she then denied having any drugs in the vehicle when asked by the officer, becoming more suspicious about their reason for the trip.


Eventually, her brother, Miguel Cruz, 49, allegedly revealed they drove to Buchanan to obtain dispensary marijuana. A search of the 2013 Cadillac allegedly turned up four large paper bags containing various dispensary products.


Some of the marijuana was raw or contained in pre-rolled cigarettes, others in the form of candy, drinks and wax containing THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.


The two individuals were given a warning ticket for speeding and allowed to go, but warrants for their arrests could be issued later, depending on the outcome of the investigation. The products were confiscated and stored as evidence for potential use in a criminal case.


Under Indiana law, marijuana weighing anywhere from 30 grams to 10 pounds could result in a Level 6 Felony Dealing in Marijuana charge punishable by a six month to 30 month sentence. Amounts exceeding 10 pounds can bring Level 5 Felony marijuana-dealing charge, which carries a potential one-to-six year sentence.


How the individuals obtained such a large quantity of dispensary marijuana is not known, but it could have been from multiple trips to more than one store.


In Michigan, there is no daily limit on how much dispensary marijuana can be purchased by an adult in a single day. However, each transaction is limited to no more than 2.5 grams.


La Porte County Sheriff Ron Heeg said he has no doubt anyone in possession of such large quantities of dispensary marijuana doesn’t have it just for their own personal use.


“15 pounds is not recreational. That’s distributing. Buying it to sell if off and everything else. That’s not recreational,” he said.


It could be difficult to pursue a drug-dealing charge in cases involving dispensary marijuana, because some products, like beverages, weigh much more than the intoxicating THC infused into the drinks.

More Than a Hit a Minute on License Plate Readers

(Michigan City, IN) - License plate readers are providing a lot of leads for police in Michigan City, averaging about 70 detections an hour over the past month as per statistics Police Chief Steve Forker provided to the City Council last week.


Forker indicated many of the vehicles setting off the devices are not linked to major offenses, the pings correlating to people wanted for violations ranging from auto theft to driving with expired plates and a suspended license.

Forker said there were 52,000 hits over the last 30 day period via license plate readers recently installed in various areas of the city.


He went further, saying these notices must be investigated before anyone is taken into custody..


“Just because we get a hit on one thing doesn’t mean it’s accurate and it’s true.  We actually have to go through and verify it.  I know that we haven’t had 52,000 arrests because of that.  Those are hits on individuals essentially coming through Michigan City,” he said.


License plate readers countywide have resulted in numerous crimes, like auto theft and bank robbery, being solved this year.

Fatal Motor Vehicle Collision

(La Porte County, IN) - A fatal motor vehicle collision happened Tuesday afternoon outside of La Porte.


The victim was identified as 62-year-old William Armour of Mill Creek.


La Porte County Police said he was traveling County Road 250 East in a Ford passenger vehicle when, for unknown reasons, the vehicle veered over the center line before going off the roadway and striking a tree.


The vehicle then returned to the roadway, continuing on for nearly 100 feet before leaving the pavement a second time and striking another tree.


Armour was pronounced dead at the scene.


Police have not provided any further details. 

Raiders Suffer First Loss in Blowout

(New Buffalo, MI) - The Red Arrow Raiders, after opening the season with blow-out victories, were humbled by a team more talented than their first two opponents in a 68 to 26 defeat on Friday, September 8 at Marcellus.


Head Coach Matt Johnson said he knew his players were in for a test, but felt it would be a much closer game, noting how lapses of execution on offense and defense were major factors in the drubbing along with an off night by the coaching staff.


“We were out played.  We were out-coached. They had a better game plan than we did,” he said.   


The Raiders, coming into the game with more than 1,000 passing and rushing yards combined, were limited to about 200 yards of total offense by a physical and disciplined Marcellus defense, aggressive in punching holes in the offensive line that cost the opposing team major yard losses on several plays.


“They were bringing pressure and we didn’t do a very good job blocking,” Johnson said.


The highlights for the Raiders on offense included a kick-off returned for a touchdown by Payton Lijewski.  M’nason Smothers caught a pass, then dodged would-be tacklers to make his way into the end zone.


Quarterback Ethan Lijewski also hooked up with Owen Slavens for a touchdown pass.


Johnson said the team was also hurt by the absence of full back and middle linebacker Ryder Wolnik, who was nursing a knee injury. He then blamed himself for not making the adjustments that could have been effective in stopping Marcellus.


“It’s on the staff.  It’s on me.  I need to do a better job of recognizing when something is not working and making the adjustments in the game,” he said.


Johnson said he also felt his players didn’t respond favorably after falling behind early in the game.


“We got to develop a little more mental fortitude.  When things are not going our way we got to learn how to fight out of those situations,” he said.


The Raiders consisting of players from New Buffalo and River Valley high schools play again on Friday at Eau Claire.

Traffic Stop Becomes Drug Bust

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte woman is facing drug related charges after being in a vehicle stopped for a traffic violation.


Rita Langford, 39, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with having methamphetamine, heroin, syringes and drug paraphernalia on her possession.


According to court documents, she was a front seat passenger in a vehicle stopped last week for a faulty brake light in the area of Jefferson Ave. and Indiana Ave.


With help from a K-9 dog, police said a box containing small amounts of each drug along with ready to use syringes and a long rubber band and spoon with residue on it were found in the glovebox.


A small amount of marijuana was also located in the vehicle, police said.


Langford was booked into the La Porte County Jail while the driver and one other individual in the vehicle were released pending the outcome of the ongoing investigation.

Adults Found Dead in Motel Room

(La Porte County, IN) - Police are investigating the deaths of two people found inside a motel room outside Michigan City.


The bodies of two adults were located at the Dunes Inn after sunrise earlier this morning in the area of U.S. 421 and Interstate 94.


So far, police have not shed light on the cause of their deaths. However the investigation, so far, indicates the deaths were an isolated incident and that there is no immediate public safety threat.


Michigan City Police are assisting with the investigation.


Anyone with information is asked to contacted Chief of Detectives Andy Hynek at the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office at (219) 326-7700 ext 2401 or ahynek@lcso.in.gov.

Drug Dealer Caught Making Rounds

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man was out delivering to his customers, but it wasn’t pizza. Authorities state that he was going to their doorsteps with methamphetamine and marijuana.


Jamel Williams, 43, was arrested during a traffic stop just outside of Michigan City last week by Indiana State Police. According to court documents, he was accepting orders on his cell phone that night and driving to South Bend and back, whenever necessary, to meet the drug needs of his customers.


With help from a K9 dog, police said a whopping 16 grams of methamphetamine were found in the vehicle, along with a small amount of marijuana. Williams claimed the meth was for his own personal use, but text messages on his cellphone revealed he was drug peddling.


The investigation also revealed he was about to make an alleged drug delivery to a customer at a Dunes Inn before being pulled over prior to reaching the motel in the area of U.S. 421 and 400 North.


Williams has been charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with Dealing and Possessing Methamphetamine.


He could face as much as 30 years on the drug-dealing count.

No Ruling Yet in Possible Drowning

(Whiting, IN) - Authorities are investigating the death of a man whose body was found in Lake Michigan.


According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the victim was Gerardo Casteneda-Soto, 27, of Chicago.


Emergency responders at about 4 p.m. on Saturday were called to Whiting Lakefront Park for a person struggling in the water and going under the surface near the boat ramps.


The man was later discovered in the water and pronounced dead at a hospital.


So far, the cause of his death is currently unknown. Authorities hope to be able to make an official ruling on the cause after obtaining the results of an autopsy.

Legal Marijuana Blamed for Crash Injury Rise

A new study suggests a link between dispensary marijuana and sharp rise in motor vehicle crashes involving serious injury.


The study, based in Canada, illustrates how four times the number of emergency room visits from motor vehicle accidents involve the use of dispensary marijuana over the past 10 years or so.


The findings are similar to a study conducted by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in which reported use of marijuana by drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes from 2009 to 2018 nearly doubled.


In Indiana, marijuana is still against the law. However, some public safety authorities locally believe marijuana is catching up to alcohol as the source for driver impairment.


La Porte County Sheriff Ron Heeg said he’s not surprised at the findings, noting how he doesn’t believe the impact of dispensary marijuana in La Porte County has been nearly as large, but could be over time.


“We are probably seeing more than we have in years past, especially now they allow recreational marijuana in the state of Michigan,” he said.


Marijuana dispensaries just began emerging in recent months and years across the Michigan line outside New Buffalo, and other surrounding communities like Three Oaks and Buchanan.


Last week, a driver stopped for speeding on the Indiana Toll Road near Rolling Prairie was found with 15 pounds of marijuana products bought from a dispensary in Buchanan, Michigan. Charges are pending the outcome of an investigation.


Heeg said he has no doubt anyone possessing that much marijuana from a dispensary is probably selling it on the black market.

Teen Driver Injured in Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - A New Buffalo teenager was injured in a La Porte County single vehicle crash over the weekend.


According to the Sheriff’s Office, 18-year-old Braden Huffer was traveling 850 North, about a quarter of a mile west of Indiana 39 in Springfield Township. He looked away from the road for a few seconds before veering off the pavement to his right and into a deep ditch.


His vehicle, a 2003 Nissan Altima, then struck a mailbox and a tree before coming to rest.


Police said Huffer sustained minor injuries to his face and hand in the late Saturday afternoon collision.  His heavily damaged car had to be towed from the scene. 

Car Fire Outside City Hall

(La Porte, IN) - A car next to La Porte City Hal was heavily damaged by fire this afternoon.


According to the fire department, a man living at the Rumely Historic Apartments pulled into a public parking space a short distance south of City Hall. He had just returned from a grocery store and saw smoke when he stepped out of vehicle, but didn’t think anything of it.


There were flames showing from the car, though, after he walked across the street to his apartment.


Fire Chief Andy Snyder said the flames posed a threat to a vehicle parked next to it. However, firefighters, with help from police officers, were successful in keeping the vehicle next to the burning car from being damaged.


The victim reported the engine of his car, a 2000 Mercury Marquis, was sputtering before he parked it. The fire did not start in the engine compartment, which suffered no damage. Pretty much the rest of the vehicle, though, was engulfed by flames.


Snyder said vehicle fires can start from other sources, like fuel leaking from a broken line and coming into contact with the catalytic converter, which can become hot enough to ignite gasoline.


La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz said he drove by the fire, which produced a smoky haze smelling like burning garbage through downtown.

Man Shoots Dog Killing His Chickens

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte County man shot a dog killing his chickens yesterday.


Late in the afternoon, some people reported that a dog came limping onto their property in the 3600 block of North 500 East,  bleeding from a gunshot wound to its right shoulder.


The investigation then led to a nearby residence, where a man had spotted the dog with one of his roosters in his mouth. The dog allegedly charged at him, causing the individual to shoot it with his .45 caliber pistol. The man reported having about 20 chickens, and feared that several others were dead after not being able to locate all of them.


According to authorities, it appeared the dog was attacking them, judging by the large amount of feathers around his chicken coup and barn.


An animal control officer came out and took the dog to an animal hospital for treatment.

Drunk Driver Flags Down Officer

(La Porte County, IN) - A Kingsford Heights woman, who was flagging down a police officer on a separate matter, was arrested for drunk driving.  Rachel Prichard, 36, has been charged with Class A misdemeanor Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated.


La Porte County Police were called Friday night to Northwest Health to take a report about the subject's dog biting her significant other at her residence.  Police said that when the deputy showed up at the hospital, Prichard had already left the facility to meet the officer at her home. 


The Police indicated that while the officer was on the way to her residence, Prichard began flashing the bright lights on her SUV to get his attention in the area of Tracy Road and Range Road.  The officer reportedly turned around and approached the woman, whom the officer described as unsteady on her feet outside of her vehicle. 


After gathering all of her information regarding the dog biting incident, police said the officer detected alcohol on her breath and asked if she had consumed any alcoholic beverages.  Prichard reportedly responded by stating that she had consumed nearly one bottle of beer about "three hours ago," police said.  Meanwile, a blood test allegedly revealed the alcohol in her system was more than two times the legal limit for operating a motor vehicle. 


Three empty miniature bottles of Fireball whiskey were also recovered from her SUV, police said. 

Chesterson Stifles Slicers 28-7

La Porte and Chesterton both entered Friday night’s Duneland Conference game looking for some offense. The Slicers had scored only 7 points in their last two games after putting up 20 in their opening night upset win over New Prairie. Chesterton had scored a total of 25 points in their first three games, all losses. The Trojans also lost starting quarterback Sebastian Boswell to a season ending knee injury the previous week.


Both teams offensive struggles continued through the first quarter and a half. There were nine possessions in the scoreless first quarter, five for the Trojans, four for the Slicers, all ending in punts. Each team managed just one first down. 


The Chesterton offense came to life scoring three touchdowns in nine minutes of second and third quarter play. The Trojans got on the board when talented running back Garrett Lewis broke loose for a 55 yard touchdown run at the 5:20 mark of the 2nd quarter. Alex Drewes kicked the extra point to make it 7-0.


Chesterton forced a Slicer punt on the next possession and were able to score a second touchdown with 27.9 seconds remaining in the half. The drive covered 67 yards in nine plays.  Drewes made it 14-0 with the extra point.


La Porte received the second half kickoff after an extended halftime break for Chesterton’s Homecoming festivities. The Slicers fumbled at their own 19 yard line setting up a one yard touchdown run by quarterback Brady McCormack three plays later. Once again, Drewes kicked the extra point giving the Trojans a 21-0 lead at the 9:23 mark of the third quarter. 


The Slicer offense came to life in the late third and early fourth quarter driving 73 yards in eight plays. The drive was capped by an Aiden Penziol to Keigan Henckel 3 yard pass. Jack Doty kicked the extra point making it 21-7 at the 10:37 mark of the fourth quarter. 


The Trojans capped off scoring with a 4 yard Lewis run with two minutes remaining in the game. Drewes kicked his fourth extra point making the final 28-7.


Penziol was 19-36 passing for 89 yards. Henkel caught six balls for 39 yards and a touchdown. Ollie Kring had nine catches for 16 yards. Joey Kirk and Vann Warner caught two passes each for 11 and 23 yards. Jon Laine ran nine times for 50 yards. Tre Beghtel added 12 yards on eight carries. Chesterton defended the Slicers’ short passing game well, allowing catches but very few yards after the catch.


Slicer inside linebackers RJ Carnes and Kyle Freel were named the Salisbury and Spence Edward Jones Players of the Game. 


Chesterton moves to 1-3 on the season and 1-1 in DAC. They will host Valpo next Friday. The Slicers fall to 1-3 on the year and 0-2 in the DAC. They will host Lake Central Friday night at Kiwanis Field, kickoff at 7:00 pm. The game will be broadcast on WCOE 96.7 the Eagle. Pregame at 6:45.

Cougars Not Flashy but Dominant in Win

(New Carlisle, IN) - New Prairie turned in a workmanlike performance Friday night and kept Mishawaka Marian at bay en route to their third victory of the year.


The Cougar defense forced a three-and-out for Marian on their opening drive, then scored on a 34-yard run by sophomore Reed Robinson. A quarterback sack by junior Harrison Groves thwarted a long drive by the Knights, but Marian came back with a 28-yard touchdown on their next possession to tie the game. New Prairie’s defense at times had trouble getting off the field, but came up with stops when they had to. A second-quarter fumble recovery by senior Matt Sorce stopped another Marian drive.


Meanwhile a stingy Knights defense made the Cougars earn their yardage. It took a roughing penalty on Marian to put New Prairie back in scoring position just before half. A 31-yard field goal by senior kicker Owen Chalik put the score at 10-7 for intermission.


Junior wideout Beau Kmiecik returned the second half kickoff 47 yards. Robinson punched it in from the one a few plays later. The teams traded punts until another Kmiecik, senior quarterback Marshall, broke free on a 69-yard touchdown run with 56 seconds left in the third quarter.


The Cougars added some insurance in the fourth quarter with a 28-yard touchdown catch by Matt Sorce. Marian managed to scratch together a long scoring drive in the game’s final minutes, scoring a touchdown on a short run as time expired. Final score: 31-13.


Penalty calls continued to be a bugaboo for the Cougars. They racked up eleven of them for 115 lost yards. But after the game, head coach Cakey McKim was not overly concerned. On offense, he attributed much of it to Marian’s athleticism. “There were really good athletes on the other side,” said McKim. “They have some guys who are really hard to lock up.” As for the defense, McKim was slow to criticize their aggressive play. It’s football.


New Prairie’s offence wasn’t flashy, but they managed to put up 31 points without many big plays. “We made some adjustments at halftime,” McKim said, “and they executed at a really high level.” Defensive turnovers at key times put the offence in good position.


Marshall Kmiecik rushed for over a hundred yards for the third time in four games. Junior Hayden Scott led the defense with nine tackles. Juniors Luke Maupin and Harrison Groves each recorded a sack.


New Prairie will travel to South Bend next Friday to take on St. Joseph in a match-up of 3-1 teams for control of the top spot in the NIC.

Local Gal to Vie for a Miss America Title

(Indianapolis, IN) - An area schoolteacher was just crowned Miss Indiana and will compete next month for a Miss America title.


Recently New Carlisle’s Hannah Stombaugh won the National American Miss Indiana Pageant down in Indianapolis. National American Miss is a brand of pageant unlike those of yesteryear with swimsuits and generic interview answers. “This system is all about female empowerment, interview skills, and opportunities,” Stombaugh explained.  “I like what it stands for—not just outward beauty, but actual skills and personal development.” She competed for three days in various categories. “I got to do evening gown, a personal introduction statement, and an interview.” She was chosen out of 15 young women to represent the Hoosier State at the national pageant in November in Orlando, Florida.


The 23-year-old Stombaugh says she started doing pageants a few years ago as a way of promoting a special cause. “I wanted to spread awareness about sudden cardiac arrest,” Stombaugh said. “When given the opportunity to compete, you have to have a cause.” Stombaugh says Jake West’s mom Julie was her gym teacher, and she was a classmate of Mark Mayfield, who also died of sudden cardiac arrest. “I didn’t feel that enough change was happening and not enough awareness in the community.” Stombaugh has been working with the Play for Jake Foundation, Bolt for the Heart, and the American Heart Association to spread awareness about AED and CPR usage.


A 2018 New Prairie grad, Stombaugh now teaches school at Prairie View Elementary. She says competing in pageants has been good practice for keeping the attention of second graders. “Teaching is kind of like pageantry,” Stombaugh admitted with a giggle. “You are on stage in front of a bunch of kids, and you are public speaking.”


Stombaugh is spending the coming months making some public appearances locally and around the state. Several of those stops will involve more than wearing a tiara and politely waving. She’ll be teaching CPR classes.

Local Dealership Delivers for Good Cause

(Crown Point, IN) - A local car dealership stepped up recently to help a hard-working man get some wheels.


Over in Crown Point, there’s a young man named Zack who just moved to northwest Indiana from Colorado with his kindergarten-age son. He had no car, and no phone. He had been riding his bicycle every day two miles to his job at the local Wendy’s.


He needed a car, but couldn’t afford one.


That’s where La Porte Chrysler Dodge comes in. They heard about Zack’s predicament from a business associate named Darren Zancan who had started a GoFundMe page for Zack. Recently, the dealership took in a 2005 Nissan Altima on trade and thought it would suit Zack just fine. “It’s definitely no BMW, it’s not a Mercedes, but it’s a super, super reliable car,” said La Porte Chrysler Dodge salesman Evan Messman. “We put new brakes on it, we sent it through service and made sure it was reliable and safe, and we just decided that would be for him.”


So on Tuesday, they delivered the Altima to the Wendy’s in Crown Point, where Zack starts work every day at 5:30 in the morning. Messman said Zack was surprised, to say the least. “As soon as Zack saw it, his hands went over his eyes; he was blown away,” said Messman, who received a hug from the grateful recipient. “It couldn’t have been a better reaction. He was completely shocked; he had no idea.”


The GoFundMe page is still raising money to help Zack pay for insurance, title fees, and gas. Any extra will go into a fund to help him and his son make a fresh start in northwest Indiana. The bottom of the page says, “Every member of our community is valuable and deserves an incredible life.”


It’s the kind of thing you see on reality television or internet viral videos, but Messman said it’s nice to know such a thing can happen right here close to home. 

School Bus Driver Seriously Injured in Interstate Crash

(Jasper County, IN) - An accident on I-65 in Jasper County left a bus driver in critical condition.


On Thursday around 11:15 p.m., State Police responded to the scene of a collision between a school bus and a semi on northbound I-65 about two miles north of the Fair Oaks exit. Troopers found the school bus in the right ditch.  The driver of the bus was its only occupant. He was conscious but pinned inside the vehicle. It took several hours for first responders to safely extricate him from the wreckage.  He was transported to Franciscan Health Hospital in Rensselaer and later taken to a hospital in Chicago for treatment of potentially life-threatening injuries.


The semi involved in the crash initially drove away but was located later at a nearby truck stop with significant damage. The driver of the semi, 57-year-old Aregay Tesfay Gebremariam from Atlanta, Georgia was taken into custody and transported to the Jasper County Jail.  He faces preliminary charges of Leaving the Scene of a Crash Involving Catastrophic Bodily Injury, a Level 4 felony.


An investigation is ongoing, pending inspections of both vehicles. Alcohol and drugs are not suspected to be factors in this crash. 

North Liberty Man Sentenced in Baby's Death

(Fulton County, IN) - A North Liberty man has received a hefty jail sentence in connection with the death of a baby last year in Fulton County.


In July of 2022, police responded to a home east of Rochester in response to a report of an unresponsive child. First responders found an unconscious three-month-old, who was pronounced dead.


32-year-old Darren Corbett, formerly of North Liberty, was living with the baby’s mother at the time. An autopsy showed blunt-force trauma caused brain bleeding, and the baby had traces of narcotics in his system.


Corbett was charged with Murder, Aggravated Battery of a Minor resulting in Death, and Neglect of a Dependent. In June, a jury found Corbett guilty of the two lesser charges. On Wednesday, a judge sentenced him to 40 years in prison.

Convicted Murderer Dead in Possible Homicide

(Michigan City, IN) - The death of a convicted murderer at Indiana State Prison is currently being investigated as a potential homicide.


According to authorities, investigators from Indiana State Police were called about the death at around 4:30 this morning.


The victim was identified as Victor Glenn, 44 of Indianapolis, who was serving time for the fatal shooting of a man and woman during a same-town home invasion in 2007.


His projected release date was in 2066.


No further details have been provided.

Elderly Man Injured in Dog Attack

(La Porte County, IN) - Yesterday, a man wound up at the hospital after a dog attacked him near Union Mills.


At about 2 p.m. yesterday, emergency responders were called to the 4500 block of W. U.S. 6.


Russell Sizemore, 74, was taken by ambulance.


According to La Porte County Police, Sizemore stopped by to visit, and while approaching, the homeowner’s German Shepherd started biting him. 


He was bitten on the arm, stomach, hip and lower leg.


Sizemore was transported to Northwest Health in La Porte.  He was in the emergency room when questioned further about the incident.


Police said it appears the dog was up to date on its shots, but they are waiting for confirmation from a local animal clinic as part of the ongoing investigation.

Passing Driver Causes Near Tragedy

(La Porte County, IN) - A truck carrying bags of ice wound up in a deep ditch in the southern part of La Porte County yesterday afternoon, thanks to an oncoming driver passing in the opposite lane.


At about 4: 30 p.m., the refrigerated truck was eastbound on Indiana 8 when another driver swerved to avoid a head-on collision with the westbound vehicle in the opposite lane, passing multiple vehicles from behind.


At the bottom of the very deep ditch, the roof of the truck broke open, and out came some of the bags of ice.


La Porte County HazMat Coordinator Jeff Hamilton responded to the scene to address a fuel leak from the box truck.  He said the rest of the ice bags were unloaded and placed on the ground before the truck, fastened to cables, was pulled back up to the roadway.


“John’s Garage used two large semi wreckers to pull the truck up out of there,” he said.


Hamilton said about 15 gallons of fuel leaked from the truck.


The driver was not seriously injured.


Hamilton said the ice was allowed to melt before the water-filled bags were picked up later for disposal.


Police are still trying to identify the driver who caused the accident.

Slicers Hope to End Losing Streak Tonight

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte will be trying to get back to the winning side of things in high school football tonight.


The Slicers are at Chesterton.


Seems like the Slicers have a good chance at victory, considering the Trojans have not yet won a game this season.


The Slicers defeated New Prairie during the season opener, but have since lost their last two games.


Chip Jones, our very own voice of the Slicers, said both teams have had trouble scoring and that putting points on the board could be even more of a challenge for Chesterton, who lost their starting quarterback to injury last week.


Chip said the Trojans seem better defensively, which could pose a challenge to the Slicers’ struggling offense.


“If La Porte can get their offense moving and get a couple of points on the board they could be in really good shape.  I think it’s going to be a tight game and really come down to who makes mistakes,” he said.


The game will be broadcast live on 96.7 The Eagle beginning with the pregame show with Chip and Steve Manering at 6:45 p.m.

Radio Fundraiser for Children

(La Porte, IN) - The 21st annual Roof Sit is happening right now here at the Broadcast Center.


Our Very Own Morning Mayhem host on 96.7 The Eagle, Dennis Siddall, is on the roof encouraging listeners to come and donate to the Deserving Children’s Christmas Shopping Tour.


Volunteers are outside here at State and Oregon streets accepting donations. All you have to do is pull up, donate and drive off. It’s that simple.


Dennis said the goal is to raise $45,000 during the one-day broadcasting marathon, to take 150 children shopping for Christmas in early December.


“I don’t care if it’s a dime.  I don’t care if it’s ten bucks. If it’s a thousand dollars.  Whatever you can afford, please, drop it off here because it all adds up,” he said.


Lunch will also be served today here at the broadcast center with money from the purchase of food going to the cause as well.


Dennis said the previous roof sits combined have raised about $800,000 for making sure deserving children have a good Christmas.

Spotlight to Shine on Local History

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte County Historical Society will be presenting its annual awards for the “Historians of the Year.”


The program is scheduled September 19th at 7:00 P.M. at the Historical Society Museum at 2405 Indiana Avenue in La Porte.


There will be five honorees.


The individual “Historian of the Year” will be Gloria Arndt, who has spent many years doing research not only on family genealogy, but has helped many others with their own family histories.


She has worked with other genealogists on researching and compiling listings of more than 85 La Porte County cemeteries, in addition to having written several books on Michigan City and La Porte County history.


The “Historian of the Past” is Jasper Packard, who was a local superintendent of schools, Civil War General, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, newspaper editor, and author of the first book of the history of La Porte County for the U.S. Centennial in 1876.


The historical organization being honored is the Michigan City Historical Society, founded in 1927. In 1965, Michigan City leased the old lighthouse to the organization for use as a museum. After 8 years of restoration, the Michigan City Historical Society opened their new home to the public in 1973 as the Old Lighthouse Museum.


Two county businesses will also be recognized for their many years of continuous service and beyond.


Fenker’s Furniture will be honored for 120 years of their family-owned business in La Porte. Fred Fenker started Fenker’s Finer Furniture in 1903, and after moving to several locations in downtown La Porte, opened its own newly-built store in 1925.

Horizon Bank is being recognized for 150 years of service in La Porte County. The bank was chartered as the First National Bank of Michigan City in 1873 and has been at its present location since 1920.


The event is open to the general public with refreshment to follow the presentations.

Local Girl a Hoosier Star Finalist

(La Porte, IN) - A freshman at La Porte High School will compete as one of five youth finalists in the upcoming La Porte County Symphony Orchestra Hoosier Star competition.


The competition is scheduled at the Civic Auditorium on September 9th.


Molly Cooper has been captivating audiences since the age of four. 


At La Porte Middle School, Molly played lead roles in plays like "Aladdin Jr." and "Beauty and Beast Jr."   She has also been part of multiple productions at the La Porte Little Theatre.


Molly, who has mastered various dance styles, has performed numerous recitals with the Indianapolis School of Ballet and La Porte’s Works In Motion Dance Company.


At 8, she played a Toy Soldier in the Indianapolis Ballet’s professional production of "The Nutcracker."


Molly likes singing the best.


She has led performances of the National Anthem at South Bend Cubs games and has worked with members of the Singing Company of La Porte County.


Molly is also actively involved in the choir program at school, where she has received multiple Gold ratings and perfect scores at Indiana State School Music Association (ISSMA) contests.


Her mother, Lindsey Cooper is a former Slicers singer.


“Of course as her mom, but also as a singer myself, it has been so fun to watch Molly’s growth as a singer and performer from the time she was just a little girl. She is naturally gifted, but she is also an incredibly hard worker and is always up for new challenges,” she said.

Lawsuit Threatened Over Homeless Housing Plans

(La Porte, IN) - A lawsuit is potentially in the works to try and stop plans to provide housing for homeless people with mental health issues, among others.


Recently, the La Porte City Council approved a zoning change that opened the door for Housing Opportunities, an organization that provides housing to destitute individuals and has other facilities in La Porte and Porter counties, to move forward on plans to create 16 housing units in the former Coca Cola bottling plant in the 200 block of Rumely Street.


Last night, Aurelio Melgoza of 204 North Street told the City Council that over 500 residents in that neighborhood have pledged, in writing, to contribute $1,000 apiece to help residents should anything bad happen to them as a result of someone living at the proposed housing facility.


“We will not live in fear,” he said.


Melgoza said residents in the neighborhood are also willing to file a lawsuit naming each member of the City Council as defendants in an attempt to try and stop the development.


“I suggest everyone rethink and ask if it is worth it,” he said.


Under the plans, housing applicants would have to be homeless, have some sort of confirmed physical or mental health disability, or be a substance abuser.


Melgoza and another neighborhood resident, Richard Horner, mentioned a murder in 2017 at a Housing Opportunities residence in Michigan City to underscore their argument.


Charges were just recently filed against the once-homeless suspect, John Hallett, 54, who allegedly told police that he choked his roommate to death and allowed his body to remain on the basement floor for nearly two months, before dismembering and and disposing of its parts in municipal trash cans.


“There are a lot of children in our neighborhood, many of whom are young girls, who walk to school.  Do you really want to expose them to these additional risks,” Horner questioned.


Resident Linda Dilks said she was a director of a facility serving low-income and homeless people with similar issues in South Bend, and that such housing should not be in a residential area.


“Somebody is going to get hurt,” she said.


Dilks said she already feels unsafe in her neighborhood and doesn’t want to feel even more unsafe.


“I carry mace outside with me to let the dog out at night because we are not safe now.   This is going to increase when you put people with substance abuse and mental health problems in that facility. I do know what I’m talking about,” she said.


Mayor Tom Dermody seemed unfazed by the latest expression of concerns from the residents, who also said they feel insulted and betrayed by their elected officials.


Dermody said Housing Opportunities has helped thousands of people by providing them with affordable housing, and also previously expressed there's a need locally for such housing. 


“We will not turn our backs on those individuals and we have people sitting in this room right now that have been supportive of not turning their backs on affordable housing.  We will not turn our backs,” he said.


Dilks pointed out the facility will not be for people who are simply down on their luck.


“I am not against housing people who need housing. What I am against is the type of people they are going to put in that housing,” she said.

Council Votes to Annex 39 North

(La Porte, IN) - Much of the 39 North Conservancy District is expected to become part of the city limits in La Porte before the end of the year.  


The La Porte City Council on Wednesday night voted to annex roughly two-thirds of the district along Indiana 39 from Severs Road to the Indiana Toll Road. The remaining part of the district was left out of the annexation for now, due to issues involving connectivity with the city boundaries.


The process for annexing that area north of the Indiana Toll Road is expected to begin once the first phase of the annexation previously acted upon becomes official.


City Planner Craig Phillips said the ground being annexed first will become part of the city in early December, if any attempts by the public to challenge it fail to succeed.


He said a public remonstrance would likely not succeed, because of the city having 57 percent of the signatures from property owners within the district requesting annexation, and the conservancy district board voting last week to support it.


City Attorney Nick Otis praised the conservancy district for the growth of new businesses and housing from the water and sewer lines placed into their service area since the district was created in 1997.


However, Otis said, the district has outlived its ability to finance the installation of larger water lines to accommodate future growth and provide better fire protection while the city has the means to pay the estimated $10 million cost of upgrading the infrastructure.


“There’s only about 150 property owners out there so you’re talking about a $10 million project that would have to be funded by a small group of individuals,” he said.


Mayor Tom Dermody, who aggressively pursued the annexation, gave thanks to everyone involved in making it become reality, including the 39 North Conservancy District Board.


“It’s been a long negotiation,” he said.


A Memorandum of Understanding approved last week by the conservancy district board was approved last night by the city council.


The MOU calls for the city to pay $2 million for the existing infrastructure, in the form of credits on the utility bills of district property owners and other promises including the upgrades to the infrastructure at the city’s expense.


Conservancy District Attorney Shaw Friedman said he advised the district to accept the deal because the city would likely win any legal effort to stop the annexation from having well above the required number of signatures from property owners.


Friedman said a legal defeat would mean the district being left empty-handed.


“It’s really the feeling of both the district and the city this is a win, win all the way around,” he said.


Phillips said the process to annex the remainder of the conservancy district land north of the Indiana Toll Road will begin toward the end of the year.

He said that ground containing more than 30 parcels could not be taken in until the first parcel was annexed because of connectivity issues with the city limits. 



Litterbug with Taste for Whiskey Ticketed

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police stopped a driver who flung a whiskey bottle out of his moving vehicle.


On Tuesday, an officer witnessed the 53-year-old driver throw a bottle out of his passenger side window on State Road 2 near Rolling Prairie.


After being stopped, the driver, with alcohol on his breath, admitted what he threw was a whiskey bottle. The South Bend man was not legally intoxicated, but had some alcohol in his system.


A records check revealed the driver, James Ison, is currently out on bond for drunk driving and other alcohol related offenses in Lake and Porter counties.


He was given a ticket for Littering and Operating a Vehicle while Consuming Alcohol, police said.

Shoplifting Attempt Turns Into Drug Arrest

(Michigan City, IN) - Trying to not to get caught shoplifting turned out to be the least of her problems.


Amber Saylor, 33, of Michigan City wound up allegedly being found with fentanyl inside Walmart.


According to court documents, a loss prevention officer at the store in Michigan City observed Saylor place several items into her purse.  At one point, Saylor, fearing she would be caught, placed her purse on a store shelf.


She was walking away from her purse when she was stopped by a security officer, who then called the police.


Several skin care products were found in her purse, along with a small amount of fentanyl and a broken glass smoking pipe containing burnt residue.


Saylor facing a Level 6 Felony and a Misdemeanor count in La Porte Superior Court 4.


This wasn't her first brush with the law, though. Earlier this year, Saylor was charged after her son tested positive for drugs such as methamphetamine and marijuana. It was alleged the boy tested positive from exposure to the drugs smoked by his parents inside their home.


The Level 6 Felony Neglect of a Dependent Charge filed in that case has not been decided yet in court.

Arrested for OWI Again But Never Licensed

(La Porte County, IN) - He’s never had a driver’s license, but a Westville man is possibly facing his second OWI conviction.


Evan Tolnay, 26, was arrested late Saturday night, where he was clocked in at 82 miles per hour on U.S. 421 near Indiana 2.


An officer was traveling 95 miles per hour to try and catch up to the vehicle, which continued northbound on U.S. 421 and nearly went off the two-lane highway while negotiating a sweeping right curve near Snyder Road.


Eventually, the vehicle slowed to 45 miles per hour and was stopped near County Road 50 North.


Three small jars of marijuana were located in the vehicle, along with a near empty bottle of tequila.


A computer records check revealed Tolnay has never obtained a driver’s license, and was convicted once before of OWI in 2011. His alleged blood alcohol level was .20 percent.


He’s been charged with OWI as a Level 6 Felony due to his prior OWI conviction, along with Misdemeanor offenses of Marijuana Possession and Driving Without ever Obtaining a License.

Sewer Service Closer to Reality

(La Porte County, IN) - Extending sewer service to Hudson Lake and Saugany Lake, the latter of which draws some visitors from Chicago, is closer becoming reality.


On Wednesday, the La Porte County Commissioners unanimously supported the proposed project, which would extend a sewer line to those communities from Rolling Prairie in the northeast portion of the county.  


Developer Ken Jones said the estimated cost right now stands at $4.5 million.


Jones feels sewer service would open the door to housing redevelopment, along with new housing in those communities, many of which have residential lots too small to install another septic tank in.


“I would say that a move by the county to support this project is an investment in that community that is sorely needed. We’re talking about a housing redevelopment process that cannot happen without a utility,” he said.


Jones said some of the housing growth would likely come from demand generated by the over 1,500 new jobs projected at a new electric vehicle battery-making facility planned for outside New Carlisle.


La Porte County government is being asked to contribute $1. 5 million dollars toward the cost of the project.


Final approval is now up to the La Porte County Council.


Commissioner Rich Mrozinski said he believes sewer service would place Hudson Lake on track for a comeback to when it used to be a bustling tourist community several decades ago.


Legend has it that gangster Al Capone used to go to Hudson Lake in 1920’s as a getaway from Chicago to take part in illegal gambling, among other activities.


“This will bring Hudson Lake back to what it once was many years ago. Many years ago back when Al Capone used to go there for things,” Mrozinski said.


Jones said residents in both communities, about a decade ago, initiated the process that resulted in a study and push for municipal sewer service. 

Charges for Disabling Medical Helicopter with Rock

(La Porte, IN) - A man could go to prison after alleged;y disabling a medical helicopter with a rock in LaPorte.


An infant with severe injuries had to wait more than one hour for a back-up helicopter to arrive to be transferred to another hospital for more specialized life-saving care.


Duane Lowery, 44, has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Level 6 Felony Criminal Mischief, Class A Misdemeanor Resisting Law Enforcement and Class B Misdemeanor Public Intoxication.


According to court documents, the Med-flight helicopter from South Bend landed Saturday on a concrete surface outside of Franciscan Beacon Hospital at 1010 West Indiana 2.


The infant, with life-threatening head injuries, and the medical personnel tending to his needs were inside the helicopter about to take off.


According to court documents, the LaPorte man then approached on a bicycle before picking up a rock, walking to the edge of the landing zone, and tossing it at the helicopter.


La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder, whose department was called to help mark the landing zone, said the rock put a dent in one of the propellers.


“The blade itself pretty much turned the rock into dust,” he said.


Crew members hearing a “loud bang” and, feeling the aircraft shaking, aborted the flight.


Another helicopter arrived just slightly over one hour later to transfer the infant to the University of Chicago Hospital.


The mother reported her baby had suffered a head injury, which caused his skull to fracture and brain to bleed.  No explanation was provided on how the injuries resulted.


A firefighter ran after Lowery after the incidient, and detained him until the arrival of law enforcement officers, who spotted him beside a half-empty 24 ounce can of beer and detected alcohol on his breath.


Officers placed the man into a police vehicle, but not until after a profanity-laced struggle.


The medical helicopter remained outside the hospital for a few days until the damaged propeller was replaced with a price tag of  roughly $100,000.


Lowery was still being held Wednesday in the LaPorte County Jail on $755 bond.

Dispensary Marijuana Seized Locally

(La Porte County, IN) - If you buy marijuana legally in Michigan, it's important to remember it’s against the law to bring it into Indiana.


That’s what two out-of-state people learned after being caught in La Porte with 15 pounds of dispensary marijuana products.


According to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office, they were in a vehicle that was stopped Sunday for speeding on the Indiana Toll Road near Rolling Prairie. The investigation revealed that the man and woman inside the vehicle were from Wisconsin, and had gone to a dispensary in Buchanan, Michigan.


Apparently, they were heading back to Wisconsin.


Various marijuana products such as joints, gummies, and drinks had been purchased and contained inside four large paper bags in the vehicle.


One of the individuals explained they were just “passing through” upon being informed that dispensary marijuana, although legal, is still against the law in Indiana.


The products were seized and placed into evidence just in case charges were filed against the individuals, both 49 and 43-years-old.  They were allowed to go after being issued a warning ticket for speeding.

Raiders Again Deliver Shellacking

(New Buffalo, MI) - The Red Arrow Raiders delivered another shellacking in their undefeated start to the season in high school football.


The Raiders (2-0) won 64-14 at Fennville on August 31st.


In both games combined, the team comprised of students from New Buffalo and River Valley High Schools have outscored the opposition 138 to 28.  


Head Coach Matt Johnson said there are not as many inexperienced players as last year when the team lost its first two games before winning six of their last seven contests.


“It’s been a little bit easier to kind of start the season in what I would consider a little more full force,” he said.


Despite the impressive start this year, Johnson said the team still needs to be more consistent on executing plays with more competitive teams on the schedule coming up.


“We’re going to have to be more disciplined,” he said.


The Raiders were led on offense by quarterback Ethan Lijewski, who had 146 yards passing and ran for another 118 yards.  Lijewski also ran for three touchdowns and passed for two scores in the end zone.


Owen Slavens ran for 121 yards on five carries while Ryder Wolnik gained 90 yards on his four rushing plays. Wolnik also caught four passes for 81 yards while Payton Lijewski had four catches for 52 yards and one touchdown.


Johnson said having multiple weapons on offense is a major advantage because it doesn’t allow opponents to focus on stopping a single player.


“We got some guys that can move with the ball pretty well,” he said.  


The Raiders, while gaining close to 500 yards on offense, held Fennville to just 149 yards rushing on 43 carries and 28 yards passing on five attempts. Fennville also turned the ball over seven times.


The defense was led by Wolnik and Lijewski, who each recorded five solo tackles along with multiple assists and tackles for lost yardage. Defensive lineman Cam Forker had two solo tackles along with three assists and three tackles for lost yardage. Slavens had four solo tackles and two assists along with a sack and fumble recovery for a touchdown.


Johnson said the first major test for his team could be Friday, September 8th at Marcellus, a team he described as physical.


“We’re going to find out what we’re made of a little bit more,” he said.

OWI Arrest in Crash with Injuries

(La Porte County, IN) - A suspected drunk driver allegedly caused a three-vehicle accident near Michigan City, resulting in a woman being seriously hurt.


Carey Johnson, 58, of Michigan City has been charged with Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated.


The charge was upgraded to a Level 5 Felony because of the serious injuries that resulted due to  the Sunday night crash on U.S. 20 near 300 West.


La Porte County Police said several people were assisting a disabled motorist when Johnson, while passing a slower-moving vehicle, struck the back end of a Chevy Tahoe. The Tahoe was then pushed into a disabled 2008 red Jeep Wrangler.


Andrea Snider, 30, was transported to a hospital in South Bend where she was treated for fractured ribs.


The injuries suffered by Johnson and seven other individuals did not require a lengthy hospital stay.


Johnson explained he consumed several beers while spending time at Lake Michigan earlier in the day. 


His alleged blood alcohol level was .129-percent.

Half Naked Man Suspected in Shoplifting

(La Porte County, IN) - La Porte County Police are investigating a shoplifting by a man completely naked from the waist down.


Officers on Thursday were called to the Speedway station near Michigan City at U.S 35 and U.S. 20. There, the store manager reported that a man came in wearing only a t-shirt, and left when asked to leave without incident.


About four hours later, though, the same man, still completely naked from below his waist, walked back in and grabbed a 12-pack of Twisted Tea before leaving without paying for the alcoholic beverages. 


He was last seen pulling onto U.S. 20 in a silver-colored vehicle thought to be an SUV. No arrests have been reported in the case.


The suspect was described as resembling a regular customer, as well as white and about 40-years of age.

Door Opens for Smooth Annexation

(La Porte, IN) - It appears the checkered flag is now waving in the journey by the City of La Porte to annex the 39 North Conservancy District without a legal fight. 


Mayor Tom Dermody said a Memorandum of Understanding was approved Friday by the 39 North Conservancy District Board.


The MOU will go before the city council for its consideration Wednesday night where, If approved, Dermody said the city and conservancy district board will be partners through the process of peacefully completing the annexation.

“We’re very thankful to the board and look forward to working with them,” he said.


The MOU approved by the conservancy district board declares intent to allow the city to annex.


Conservancy District Board Attorney Shaw Friedman said the city agreed to pay two million dollars for the existing water lines the district installed more than 20 years ago and replaced the lines with larger ones to increase the amount of water that can be delivered to existing and future property owners.


Friedman said the conservancy district board will remain intact to make sure the city lives up to its promises, which are in the process of being transferred to official legal documents so as to meet the requirements for annexation.


Friedman said the odds of stopping the city from annexing in court are likely slim, because 57 percent of the stakeholders in the district signed a petition requesting annexation. He said the money from the sale of the infrastructure will go to property owners in the district in the form of discounts on their utility bills.


Dermody said he expects the annexation to become official sometime before the end of the year.


Future growth in the district could not happen because of the inability of the existing water lines to take on more demand.


“The county has even been involved to see what land can be developed by the interested parties and see how we can move that forward once they know there will be upgrades made to the water system,” Dermody said.

Teen Drowns in Lake Michigan

(East Chicago, IN) - Indiana Conservation Officers are investigating the death of a juvenile recovered from Lake Michigan near Jeorse Park in East Chicago yesterday.


Emergency personnel, at about 4 p.m., were dispatched to the park’s breakwall area for a juvenile male missing in the water. 


Witnesses reported a group of juveniles were jumping off the breakwall after being advised not to by East Chicago Marina staff. A 14-year-old male jumped off the wall and began struggling in the water, before disappearing below the surface.


The boy was then recovered and transported to St. Catherine Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Local Family Joins Lawsuit Against DCS

(South Bend, IN) - An area family has joined forces with others in a lawsuit against the Department of Child Services.


A class-action civil suit has been filed by a nationwide child advocacy group called A Better Childhood on behalf of the families of ten Hoosier children who were negatively impacted by DCS policies.


The lawsuit blames Governor Eric Holcomb and the Director of DCS, Holcomb’s former Chief of Staff Eric Miller, for failing to provide children in custody with reasonable care and safety. It alleges that the former DCS Director Mary Beth Bonaventura had her authority usurped by Holcomb and his staff and places failures of the department at their feet. Specifically, Bonaventura has claimed that Miller hired unqualified employees for DCS, slashed budgets, and created a hostile work environment. The lawsuit also points to federal and independent investigations revealing major flaws in Indiana’s foster care system.


One of the ten plaintiffs is Jenna Hullett, the former foster-mom of 4-year-old Judah Morgan, who was brutally and fatally neglected and abused after being returned to his parents’ custody. One of Judah’s brothers, referred to anonymously as 8-year-old “Miles M.,” is named in the suit, along with another brother, an 11-month-old called “Daniel.” Details of their tragic situation are outlined in the 66-page lawsuit filed two weeks ago in South Bend’s U.S. District Court.


According to the documents, both boys were present during Judah’s ordeal. Miles was also abused and forced to sleep in a dog cage. Lawyers say Miles continues to suffer emotional and psychological harm due to lack of necessary services and adequate counseling.


Stories of the other nine plaintiffs paint a similarly sad picture: lack of professional intervention; abused children bounced around to multiple, ill-equipped foster homes; placement of children in situations where, at best they’re forgotten, at worst they’re further abused.


A Better Childhood is looking to add more plaintiffs to the lawsuit, which alleges over 11,000 Hoosier children have been adversely affected by DCS failures. The suit does not seek specific punitive damages, only concrete changes to DCS policies and procedures. Among the changes requested are adequate and timely mental health treatment for children in custody, the hiring of more DCS caseworkers, better record keeping, and better supervision of children throughout their foster care.

Mask Mandates Not on the Radar in La Porte County

(La Porte County, IN) - COVID-19 is back in the news.


A new strain of the virus, known as EG.5 or Eris, is getting some people’s attention. Hospital admissions for COVID are a small fraction of what they were two years ago, and northcentral Indiana is in the lower half of most COVID tracking metrics. Still, there has been a rise, at least in emergency room visits, for COVID-like illnesses across the state in the last month. That’s according to statistics from the Indiana Department of Health.


Republican elected officials in St. Joseph County have made a preemptive strike against potential COVID restrictions. They released a statement last week pledging not to seek any reinstatement of mask mandates in St. Joseph County.


Here in La Porte County, mask mandates have not been debated, at least not at the executive level. County Commissioners say they have not discussed the issue. Commissioners Rich Mrozinski and Joe Haney told HTNN they would vote against a mask mandate, if it came up. Haney released a statement of his own on Friday. He said he opposed mask mandates in 2020 before he was elected, and he will continue to support individuals’ rights to make their own decisions when it comes to their health and health care.

Plan to Move Niespodziany Ditch Under Review

(St. Joseph County, IN) - A proposal is under review to relocate over a mile of drainage ditch east of New Carlisle.


Niespodziany Ditch currently cuts right through the southern portion of the Indiana Enterprise Center where a massive electric battery plant is planned. Last week public notice was given that the St. Joseph County Drainage Board is seeking permission to redirect the ditch. The plan is to fill over a mile of the existing ditch with nearly 12,000 cubic yards of fill dirt. It will be redirected to the east, then south along Spruce Rd. where it will rejoin its normal path south of State Road 2.


The proposal claims that Niespodziany Ditch is currently in poor condition and will be improved with the modification. The Army Corps of Engineers is studying the plan.


Public comment, for or against the change, is being considered by the Army Corps through the end of this month.

No Bones About it: New Prairie Improves in Week 3

(New Carlisle, IN) - Prior to the start of the season, New Prairie football coaches earmarked the third game as one of key importance. In fact, they revived an old Cougar tradition to drive home the point. Friday’s matchup against Lowell was dubbed the “Bone Game.” Earlier in the week, a huge animal bone was chained to a cougar statue behind the east end zone. As head coach Casey McKim explained, “It’s one of those things that signifies a critical moment in our season. We pick a game, usually one out of conference, one that we feel like is a pivotal game. If we win, they get to keep it, if we don’t win, it stays locked up.”


Lowell was just coming off a big win against La Porte, the team that broke New Prairie’s heart in week one. Having lost the Milk Jug, could the Cougars bounce back to unlock the bone?


New Prairie wasted no time answering that question. Sophomore Reed Robinson took the opening kickoff 46 yards. Two plays later, senior quarterback Marshall Kmiecik hit sophomore Reece Lapczynski for a 38-yard touchdown pass. A two-point conversion by Robinson made it 8-0. The celebrating was brief, as Lowell returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a score. But it was the only highlight of the night for the Red Devils. The Cougars went on to add 39 unanswered points.


On New Prairie’s next possession, a 45-yard Kmiecik run set up another touchdown two plays later by senior Brock Sinka. Lowell broke loose again on the following kickoff return, but a New Prairie defender poked the ball loose, and the Cougars recovered. They would score two more touchdowns before the end of the first quarter. 


By halftime, New Prairie led 47-6. With the JV playing most of the second half, that’s where the score stayed.


New Prairie’s offense returned to previous form with senior quarterback Marshall Kmiecik throwing five touchdown passes. Senior Reece Lapczynski caught three of them. The other two were to Kmiecik’ brother Beau. Six New Prairie players contributed to a balanced running attack, sharing 228 rushing yards. Senior Brock Sinka and junior Zak Henrich each ran for a touchdown. Junior Hayden Scott led the Cougar defense with 12 tackles.


Following the game, McKim reflected on his team’s steady recovery from their letdown against La Porte. “Week one ripped our heart out,” he said. “It was really difficult. Took a lot of soul-searching on the coaching staff, the players, pretty much top to bottom you have to reevaluate everything.”


McKim said the offense is starting to gel after some consistent practices. “This week I really loved our practice,” he said. “No matter what happened out here, going into the game, I just felt like this was week that we got better. We need to string some weeks together like that to make some big improvements.”


McKim gathered his team behind the east end zone after the victory and unchained the bone trophy, presenting it to the seniors. They have the privilege of carrying it around school as the season progresses. A tradition revitalized, a season back on track. New Prairie will host Mishawka Marian this Friday.

Valpo Rolls Over Slicers 49-0

Valparaiso used a stingy defense and overwhelming size on offense to roll over La Porte 49-0 Friday night at Kiwanis Field. The defending 5A State Champions scored on their first seven possessions and allowed La Porte into their territory just once in the one-sided contest.


The Vikings scored three touchdowns in the first quarter to lead 21-0 at the break. Travis Davis scored on runs of six and five yards for Valpo’s first two scores. Scotty Bradney caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Justin Clark with 35.6 seconds left in the opening quarter for the third Vikings score.


Davis scored his third touchdown of the game at the 5:32 mark of the second quarter, followed by a 24-yard scamper by Clark. The Vikings lead 35-0 at the half scoring on drives of 80, 70, 43, 75, and 76 yards. 


The second half was played with a running clock. The Vikings scored at the 3:39 mark of the third quarter on an eight-yard run by Thomas Burda. This capped off an 80-yard drive. Backup running back Gage Finlay scored from 33 yards out at the 11-minute mark of the fourth quarter to make the final 49-0.


The Slicer offense had trouble sustaining momentum. Aiden Penziol was 4-16 passing for 32 yards. Ollie Kring caught all four of the completed passes. There wasn’t much room to run either as Jon Laine finished with 13 yards on nine rushes, while Tre Beghtel ran three times for 15 yards. Kicker/Punter Jack Doty had a nice night, putting his only in the end zone for a touchback and getting off seven impressive punts. 


La Porte played without starters Drew Flores and Sam Pressler who were out with injuries. 


Valparaiso’s starting offensive line is huge, ranging in size from 265lbs to 325lbs. 


Valpo, 2-1 on the year and 1-0 in the Duneland Conference, will host Michigan City, also 2-1 and 1-0 next Friday night. The Slicers, 1-2 and 0-1 travel to Chesterton to face the 0-3 Trojans. 96.7 The Eagle will cover the game with kickoff at 7:00 p.m. and the pregame show airing at 6:45.

Michigan City Man Arrested in Interstate Accident

(Lake County, IN) - Earlier this week a Michigan City man was arrested for various offenses connected to a late-night interstate accident in Lake County.


Shortly after 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, police responded to an accident on eastbound I-80/94. A 2015 Ford Taurus had sideswiped a semi, which crashed into a median wall and overturned. The semi also hit some construction equipment being used by two overnight highway workers.


Witnesses reported someone fleeing from the Taurus after it came to rest in a ditch. Later a man and a woman returned to the scene, the woman claiming to have been the driver. Police were suspicious of the story and determined that the man was driving and was drunk.


30-year-old Charles Luis Garcia Berrios of Michigan City was charged with OWI, driving with a suspended license, leaving the scene of an accident, and false informing. The woman, a 35-year-old from Merrillville, was also charged with false informing. 

State Allocates School Safety Money

(Indianapolis, IN) - This week Governor Eric Holcomb announced the approval of nearly $30 million for school safety across Indiana.


Over $29.8 million will be allocated to 474 school, public and private, in matching state grants for next year. The funds can be used for various safety and security applications.


Below are the eight area schools that have been awarded funding for safety measures.


La Porte Community Schools $77,061

New Prairie $76,525.89

South Central $50,000

Westville Area Schools $48,864

Tri-Township $35,000

Renaissance Academy $20,965.50

ND Catholic $29,750

Queen of All Saints $24,155

John Glenn $100,000

Slicers Take on Valpo Tonight at Home

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte High School football team is looking to get back on the winning track, but it could be quite a challenge.  


The Slicers take on last year’s Class 5A state champion Valparaiso tonight at Kiwanis Field.


Valparaiso lost their season opener to Penn, but defeated Andrean last week while La Porte upset New Prairie to start the season then lost to Lowell.


Voice of the Slicers Chip Jones said that Valparaiso, despite the early season loss, is still a very good team and likes to run the ball to take advantage of the size of their offensive line, with two players weighing more than 300 pounds.


He noted that the smallest offensive lineman for the Vikings weighs 265 pounds.


“They are just massive and they just kind of run it right at you.  That’ll be a challenge for La Porte.  We’re young and maybe a little bit undersized,” he said.


Chip said controlling the clock on offense and limiting turnovers will be key for the Slicers.


“You want to be in the game in the fourth quarter and see what happens,” he said.


The kick off scheduled for 7 p.m.  We’ll broadcast the game live on 96.7 The Eagle beginning with the pre-game show at 6:45 p.m.

Doorbell Thief Has Police Come Knocking

(Michigan City, IN) - A La Porte woman allegedly stole a door bell, only for police to come knocking.


Nancy Brown, 32, has been charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with Level 6 Felony Theft.


A loss prevention officer at Menards in late May located an empty doorbell box on a shelf.


He reviewed surveillance video, which showed Brown allegedly taking the doorbell from its package and placing it in her large purse while a man appeared to be serving as her lookout.


Police said she left the Michigan City store without paying alongside the man, who used a credit card to purchase strictly a bag of banana chips.


Both of them left in a gray Cadillac.


According to court documents, Brown has prior theft and drug-related convictions.

Charges in Safe Burglary

(Michigan City, IN) - Three men have been accused of stealing a safe containing a large amount of money in Michigan City.


Marvin Lewis, Jonathan Langham and Enrique Dominguez have been charged with Burglary.


In late July, a door was kicked in to get inside an upstairs apartment in the 1400 block of Franklin St.  A short time later, a safe was carried to the roof and dropped to the ground before being placed into an SUV. The three suspects, all from Michigan City, promptly fled in that vehicle.

The victim, who was not home during the burglary, reported about $3,000 in cash was inside the lock box and that his Playstation 5 video game console was also taken.


According to court documents, at least one of the suspects wore a mask but was still recognized in images captured by surveillance cameras at the apartment building.

Two People Injured in Head On Collision

(La Porte County, IN) - A La Porte woman was injured in a head-on collision near Michigan City just before 5 p.m. Wednesday on Johnson Road near 700 West.


According to police, 24-year-old Dakota Nice of Walkerton swerved across the center line to keep from striking the back end of a vehicle stopped to make a left-hand turn.  In the process, her pick-up truck and an oncoming car struck head-on.


Nice was not injured. The other driver, 40-year-old Jamie Szumanski was taken by ambulance after complaining of chest pain, along with abrasions and swelling to both legs.Her 17-year-old daughter only suffered minor injuries. 


Both vehicles were disabled from the collision and had to be towed. 

Charges in Two State Chase

(La Porte County, IN) - Charges have been filed in connection with a high speed chase that blew through Michigan and La Porte County.


Shawn Marlow and Jamari Williams, both of Merrillville, were among the people inside a fleeing vehicle.


Nearly two weeks ago, an officer in Berrien County tried stopping the vehicle for speeding on Interstate 94, but Williams did not pull over. This led into a pursuit into La Porte County that topped at more than 130 miles per hour.  


According to court documents, the Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy lost sight of the vehicle, which soon was spotted again at Michigan City in the area of U.S. 421 and 400 North.


La Porte County Police joined the chase, which veered back onto Interstate 94 and ended in Porter County when stop sticks flattened the fleeing vehicle’s tires.

Williams has been charged with Resisting Law Enforcement and Providing False Identification.  Police noted that he also had a warrant out for his arrest in Cook County, Illinois.


Marlow allegedly had marijuana and various pills in his posession, along with two guns.

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