Local News Archives for 2023-10

Christmas Fund Raising Leaders Chosen

(Michigan City, IN) - The Salvation Army of Michigan City has chosen the leaders of this year’s Christmas funding campaign.


Gene Simmons is councilman from the 6th ward and a former police chief in the community who joined the Michigan City Police Department after serving in the Vietnam War with the U.S. Army.


His wife, Linda, is director of marketing for the La Porte County Convention and Visitors Bureau and was an owner/operator of two McDonalds restaurants in Chicago.


In their role as campaign chairs, Gene and Linda will assist The Salvation Army in raising funds to provide food and toys to more than 600 local families this Christmas.


According to the Salvation Army, the goal in Michigan City is to raise $230,000 this season to help meet the needs of the community in areas like food and utility bill assistance and free clothing.


The Simmons’ will officially be recognized as this year’s Christmas Campaign Chair during the annual Red Kettle Kick Off scheduled Wednesday at McDonald’s at 3507 Franklin Street from 7am to 10am.

Those interested in volunteering as a red kettle bell ringer this year can sign up online at www.RegisterToRing.com, or contact The Salvation Army at (219) 874-6885 ext. 1003 for more information.

Free Car Seats Available for the Needy

(La Porte, IN) - Car seats are available locally to people in need.


The Healthcare Foundation of La Porte recently awarded two grants to purchase car seats ranging from  infant-size car seats to five-point harness combo seats.


The La Porte County Health Department and the La Porte Fire Department received a total of 118 car seats between them to distribute as needed. 


HFL funded nearly $10,000 to these two entities to purchase the car seats from Evenflo.  


“We are extremely excited and appreciative to receive these funds,” said La Porte Fire Chief Andy Snyder.


Snyder said the fire department has had a car seat program but limited funding sources kept the department from acquiring as many as the HFL grant allows.


“This funding will allow us the ability to honor all applicable requests for the foreseeable future and grow the program to its full potential,” he said.  


Maria Fruth, HFL President and CEO, said the health and safety of children from La Porte County has been one of the greatest priorities since the foundation’s inception and car seats are an important need locally.


“Car seats are key to keeping children safe, and many families struggle to purchase needed seats," she said.


HFL is a private, independent foundation in La Porte dedicated to empowering La Porte County residents to live healthy and well.


Since 2017, HFL has invested more than $41 million in the La Porte County community for the purpose of realizing its vision for La Porte County to be one of the 10 healthiest in the state by 2030.

Woman Charged with Dealing Methamphetamine

(La Porte, IN) - A woman is facing a potential lengthy prison sentence on allegations she sold methamphetamine in La Porte.


Briana Knoebel, 25, of Knox is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with two counts of Level 2 felony dealing in methamphetamine.


According to court documents, a buyer in April picked her up at a home in the 500 block of Circle Drive in La Porte and drove her to South Bend to purchase methamphetamine.


An exchange involving a half ounce of methamphetamine for $180 was executed after returning to La Porte, police said.


About a week later, police said Knoebel was driven back to South Bend to retrieve a similar amount of methamphetamine she sold to a buyer at the same residence in La Porte.


According to court documents, the charges under state law were elevated to a level 2 felony because the exchanges occurred within 500 feet of a school or park where children frequent.  In this case, the alleged exchanges were in close proximity to Koomler Park.


Knoebel could face anywhere from 10 to 30 years on each count.

Snow Falling on Halloween

(La Porte County, IN) - The first flakes of snow have come a little early this year.


The forecast is calling for maybe an inch of snow before it stops tonight.  0 to 20 mile per hour winds are also in the forecast.

Jeff Batchelor, Code Enforcement and Street Department Director for the City of La Porte, is asking drivers to slow down especially during trick or treating this evening when the snow could be the heaviest.


“We really need to be careful on making sure when people are out watching and doing their trick or treating that everybody is safe,” he said.


Batchelor said the street department is monitoring the weather but they’re ready to do whatever is necessary for traveling not to be impacted by the snowfall as much as possible.


“We’ll be able to go out there and put some salt down so everybody is safe when they’re driving.  Hopefully, we don’t get that much snow,” he said.


Batchelor said there could also be some plowing, in spots, if high winds causing any blowing and drifting.

Alcohol Involved in Collision with Injuries

(La Porte County, IN) - It appears alcohol was involved in a motor vehicle crash resulting in injuries outside La Porte over the weekend.


La Porte County Police said the investigation shows 34 year old Jonathan Espinoza apparently struck the driver’s side of a vehicle after running a stop sign at U.S. 6 and State Road 39.


The collision happened about 6 p.m. on Saturday.


Police said Espinoza admitted consuming alcohol, but no charges have been filed because Investigators are still waiting for the results of a blood alcohol test.


Espinoza of Hammond was taken to the hospital complaining of pain to his chest and with visible laceration to his right hand.


The driver he struck, 66 year old Randy Popplewell, had to be extricated from his vehicle.


The La Porte man was taken by ambulance complaining of pain to his neck and not being able to feel the entire left side of his body, police said. 

Morris Named Honorary Board Member of Foundation

(La Porte, IN) - A former mayor of La Porte has been made an honorary member of a giving back to the community organization he helped create.


Leigh Morris is now an Honorary Member of the Board of Directors for the Unity Foundation of La Porte County.


Morris, 88, was a founding member of the foundation 30 years ago and helped chair the board for several years.


“It’s quite an honor and I’m very pleased,” he said.


Unity Foundation now has more than $40 million in assets used to provide scholarships and other beneficial things annually for La Porte County.


Many donors are people who leave money and other items of value from their estates upon death.  Just the interest from the donations are used to do positive things in the county.


“I know the organization well and I know just a bit about how significant its impact has been and will be into the future,” Morris said.


Morris said Unity Foundation was formed after the Indianapolis based Lilly Endowment suggested a foundation be formed strictly for La Porte County instead of separate foundations for La Porte and Michigan City.


“So, that’s what we did.   Now all 92 counties in Indiana are served by a community foundation,” he said.


Morris was mayor from 2004 to 2007 after a more than 20 year career as President and Chief Executive Officer at La Porte Hospital.


Currently, he’s an advisor for Purdue University Northwest and has served in many other capacities for various organizations in recent years.

Arrest in Stabbing at Planet Fitness

(Valparaiso, IN) - A man has been arrested in connection with a stabbing at a Planet Fitness in the area.  Valparaiso Police said the 24 year old suspect, Jordan Andrade, of Porter is charged with attempted murder and aggravated battery.


Emergency responders went to the gym after they received a call regarding a man sustaining a knife wound, police said.  The name of the victim was not released.


No light was shed on how the stabbing occurred or the chain of events leading up to it because of the ongoing investigation.  Police, though, called the act of brutality an isolated incident.


One of the Planet Fitness members reported partially seeing the victim not moving in one of the massage chairs of the gym.


Valparaiso Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to contact them.

Pedestrian Struck by Vehicle on Highway

(La Porte, IN) - A pedestrian was badly hurt when struck by a motor vehicle in Michigan City.  The accident happened about 3:30 a.m. on Friday in the area of Indiana 212 and Tryon Road on the city’s far east side.


Police said life saving measures were applied to the victim, who was taken by a medical helicopter to a trauma center. 


So far, police have not shed light on how the accident took place.  The people involved in the collision have also not been identified yet.


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

Arrest in Fatal Shooting

(Michigan City, IN) - A man has been arrested for what could be an execution style shooting death in Michigan City that occurred last Thursday night at about 9:00 p.m.  David "DJ" Wilson, Jr. is charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery and other counts like criminal confinement.


The victim, Susan Simmons, 58, and her husband, Thomas Simmons, 60, were shot while inside an SUV parked in front of a residence in the 200 block of Calumet Avenue, just north of Michigan Boulevard and west of Carroll Avenue, police said.


Police said the woman was found deceased inside the vehicle.  Mr. Simmons was shot multiple times and transported to the hospital with injuries described by police as “non-life threatening.”


Police said Wilson pulled up, stepped out of a vehicle and fired multiple shots into the SUV before fleeing.  He was taken into custody a short time later after crashing the vehicle in the 3200 block of Dody Avenue.  Police said a stolen handgun was recovered during his arrest and a database check revealed the vehicle he crashed was reported stolen.


Wilson was being held without bond pending a future court hearing. 

NIPSCO Beginning to Restore Power

(La Porte, IN) - Service is being restored to many people in La Porte, who woke up to no power this morning.


According to NIPSCO, the power outage which began after 5:00 a.m., was still impacting close to 1,800 customers before 7:00 a.m.  Service started being restored before 8:00 a.m.  As of 8:15 a.m., NIPSCO reported about 800 customers remaining without power. 


It appears the outage included much of Pine Lake Avenue from Indiana 39 to Truesdell Avenue and west of Indiana Avenue. to about J Street.


NIPSCO spokesman Megan Henning said the outage involved some type of equipment failure at a substation.  Henning said crews were out attempting to restore power, which could happen before 8:00 a.m.


“We’re focusing on getting power back up as quickly as possible,” she said.


The cause of the equipment failure was not yet known.

Huge Power Outage in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - A lot of people in La Porte are waking up this morning to no power.


According to NIPSCO, the power outage was effecting close to 1,800 customers before 6 a.m.


So far, the cause of the outages is not known.


It appears the outage includes much of Pine Lake Ave. from Indiana 39 to Truesdell Ave. and west of Indiana Ave. to about J St.

New Prairie Escapes with OT Win

(Wheatfield, IN) - After being pummeled by New Prairie to begin sectional play last year, Kankakee Valley hosted Friday night’s second round matchup looking for revenge. They almost got it.


New Prairie’s offense and defense looked promising in the first half, then fizzled in the second. On the Cougars’ second drive, 265-pound senior lineman John Klosinski, lining up in the backfield, rumbled in for the game’s first score. Constant pressure by New Prairie’s defense kept Kankakee Valley off balance for most of the night. A 34-yard touchdown run by sophomore Reed Robinson put New Prairie up 14-0 going into halftime.


Following a third-quarter stalemate, Kankakee Valley found themselves at New Prairie’s 15-yard line, thanks to two concurrent personal foul penalties. Two plays later, KV scored their first points. A 21-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Marshall Kmiecik seemed to put the game out of reach with 5:48 left to play. But New Prairie gave Kankakee Valley favorable field position, and the host Kougars scored two touchdowns in under two minutes, tying the game, forcing overtime, stunning the crowd.


A cold rain blew in as the teams prepared to trade shots at the end zone from the 10-yard line. On New Prairie’s first play, Kmiecik found just enough running room to make it to the two, before being stood up by a KV defender. With a strong second effort and little nudge by a hustling offensive lineman, Kmiecik willed his way into the end zone for the go-ahead score. New Prairie’s defense stonewalled Kankakee Valley on their overtime drive. A fourth-down snap sailed over the KV quarterback’s head and quashed their hopes of an upset.


Despite pulling out the win, head coach Casey McKim couldn’t hide his disappointment afterwards. “The biggest thing offensively is we struggled for far too long. We had some big, explosive plays, but we weren’t consistent enough,” he said. “I always say, the best lessons are learned after a win, but there’s no question we need to play significantly better to reach the goals that we hope to reach this year.”


New Prairie mustered just enough offense to win. Kmiecik and Robinson put up identical rushing numbers— 103 yards on 14 carries. But Kmiecik completed only two of six passes for a total of seven yards, and the Cougars managed only six first downs.


McKim praised his defense despite their giving up a few big plays. “They played really well, they kept us in it,” he said. “They were put in a bad spot… [Kankakee Valley] caught a big ball over the top late in the game, which was highly contested; sometimes that’s going to happen.”


The Cougar defense put on a tackling clinic. Six sacks pushed KV back 41 total yards. Three of those sacks, plus nine additional tackles, belonged to junior linebacker Harrison Groves. Senior Matt Sorce led the defense with 15 tackles.   Junior Hayden Scott took down 11; junior Brock Barcevic and senior Trenton Klute had 10 stops each. Senior tackle Dylan Wilson recovered a Kankakee Valley fumble, and senior cornerback Reece Lapczynski hauled in a big interception near the end of regulation.


New Prairie (9-2) will travel to Culver Academies (5-6) next Friday for the sectional championship.

Yoder Sentencing Postponed

(La Porte, IN) - The sentencing hearing for Judah Morgan’s mother has been postponed.


Mary Yoder had been scheduled for sentencing next Wednesday, November 1, but last week that date was pushed back to January 5 in La Porte Circuit Court.


Scheduling conflicts were given as a reason for the change. However, court documents also mention that Yoder’s mental health records from her teenage years are being reviewed as a possible mitigating factor in her sentencing.


In August, Yoder pleaded guilty to one count of neglect resulting in the death of a dependent and one count of domestic battery to a child. Her husband, Alan Morgan, is already serving a 70-year sentence for his part in the murder.

Wills Fire Protection Still Under Consideration

(La Porte County, IN) - The future of fire protection services for Wills Township residents is still uncertain.


Over 30 people attended a monthly budget approval meeting Tuesday night. Many attended the meeting thinking they would get some clarity on whether township leaders will continue contracting with the volunteer fire department in Rolling Prairie or switch to New Carlisle. There was no formal discussion on the matter, although board members did field a few questions from the crowd.


President Barry Halter said no decision has been made yet, but township leaders are open to all options. “We’re doing our due diligence to make sure our money is being spent the right way,” Halter said. The Township Board has retained the services of Michigan City attorney Chris Willoughby to help ensure that the process is handled correctly.


Wills Township residents have filed a petition in support of retaining the fire department in Rolling Prairie. There was some discussion at Tuesday’s meeting as to whether the petition was filed in a timely fashion.


Financial consulting firm Baker Tilly is preparing a report on the fiscal implications of the decision. Wills Township officials said, once the report is complete, they will announce another public hearing at a larger venue, such as New Prairie High School.

State Trooper Locates Missing Teen

(Hammond, IN) - An Indiana State trooper helped resolve an out-of-state Amber Alert.


On Wednesday night, police were alerted that a 14-year-old girl who was reported missing out of Iowa was possibly in the area of I-80 and Kennedy Avenue in Hammond. Trooper Adrian Garcia located the described vehicle leaving a hotel and promptly pulled it over.


A 36-year-old woman from Des Moines was taken into custody. At last report, authorities were working to transfer the 14-year-old to her rightful guardian in Iowa.

State Police Unveils New Lab

(Lowell, IN) - Governor Eric Holcomb was in the area Tuesday to help cut the ribbon on a new Indiana State Police facility.


In Lowell there’s a brand new forensic laboratory. The 40,000 square-foot building is five times bigger than the previous lab, which at 40 years old, was little out of date. The new state-of-the-art facility provides forensic analysis of criminal case evidence for all local police agencies across 15 counties in northern Indiana.


State Police Superintendent Doug Carter was on hand to unveil the new lab. He said, “It represents all that is the very best in law enforcement and our continuing, and unwavering partnerships with those agencies in and around the Lowell District coverage area who, too, will benefit from the services provided by our dedicated laboratory personnel.”


The new lab is part of a statewide effort to modernize State Police facilities. A few weeks ago, ground was broken at a new regional laboratory in Evansville, which is slated for completion by fall of 2024.

Goodbye Warthogs, Hello Vipers

(Ft. Wayne, IN) - Military flyovers in this area may pack more lightening than thunder from now on. The A-10 Thunderbolts located in Ft. Wayne are being replaced by F-16s. The A-10 "Warthogs" began being phased out last year.


This week the Indiana National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing in Ft. Wayne introduced two F-16 fighter planes. It’s been over a decade since F-16 Fighting Falcons, also known as "Vipers," have been on base. 21 will be there by the end of the year.


Recently, a Purdue University study estimated that Ft. Wayne’s air base generates $113 million in economic impact. "The 122nd Fighter Wing is extremely proud of our positive economic impact on the local and statewide communities we love and share," said base commander Col. Joshua C. Waggoner. "We now stand poised to promote enduring positive impact thanks to our conversion to the F-16 fighter aircraft, which will continue to grace the skies above Indiana for years to come."

La Porte Native Honored by Coast Guard

(Dubois County, IN) - A La Porte native has been honored by the U.S. Coast Guard.


Jon Watkins is a conservation officer for the Department of Natural Resources in southern Indiana. Watkins, who hails from La Porte, has been named the District 7 Officer of the Year and Indiana’s Boating Officer of the Year several times.


Recently, he was presented with a Coast Guard certificate of merit at the Area Maritime Security Committee meeting in Spencer County. The award recognizes Watkins’ years of exemplary service and dedication to protecting Indiana’s waterways. “The superior performance, attention to detail and initiative displayed are wholeheartedly commended and are in keeping with the noblest traditions of inter-agency cooperation and maritime safety and security on and along our nation’s inland waterways,” reads a portion of the certificate presented to Watkins.

Police Vehicle Struck in Chase

(Berrien County, MI) - Police from Indiana and Michigan are investigating a stolen car striking a law enforcement vehicle during chase Thursday night.


According to Berrien County Police, a vehicle reported stolen out of Mishawaka was spotted by sheriff’s deputy near Benton Harbor.   During an attempt to stop the vehicle, the driver of the vehicle struck a fully marked law enforcement vehicle, triggering a pursuit.  The pursuit ended when the stolen vehicle became disabled.


The driver, identified only as a male from Benton Harbor, was taken into custody at the scene and found with a loaded stolen handgun.


The Mishawaka Police Department and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office are currently working together on this case.

Local Woman from Maine Where Shootings Happened

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte woman used to work with one of the people killed in the mass shootings in Maine and lived in the same city where it occurred.


Nikki Haines said she also knows cousins and other distant relatives of the suspected gunman and played darts with her stepfather at Schemengees Bar and Grille where most of the people were shot.


After hearing about the Wednesday night shootings, Haines said “I was like, what the heck.”  Immediately, she tried contacting her mother, Brenda, and other immediate family members still living in the area to make sure they were safe.  She was not able to reach them right away, though.


“I was freaking out,” she said.


Haines said her mother later texted her that she was under lockdown as a precaution since the shooter was still at-large.


Eventually, she learned every family member was safe but didn’t know about her father, Kirk, until Friday morning when he called her cellphone.


“I didn’t sleep.  I had a hard time focusing.  I was constantly watching Maine news.  It was very heart wrenching,” she said.


For about two-years, Haines said she resided in Lewiston, where at least 18 people were killed and 13 others wounded in the shooting rampage at the bar and a bowling alley on the other side of the side of the city of more than 36,000 residents.


Haines also grew up in the nearby communities of Lisbon and Bowdoin, which have been major focuses of the ongoing search for the suspected gunman, Robert Card, 40, who resides in Bowdoin.  The search was still ongoing Friday.


Haines, 36, said she lived in that area her whole life until moving to La Porte close to three years ago.  She doesn’t recall knowing the gunman but went to school with some of his cousins and other more distant relatives.  They also used to babysit her and come to her family's home, regularly, to visit.


Haines said one of the shooting victims, Tricia Asselin, was a co-worker of hers at the local Walmart.  They were not friends but, occasionally, they spent time together at the store.


“We kind of hung out with each other on breaks,” she said.


Haines said she worked for about a year stocking shelves at the Walmart about a decade ago. 


Asselin was killed at the Just-In-Time Recreation bowling alley, which was the second location the gunman struck.  At times, Haines said she bowled there in her spare time and saw Asselin at the alley just in passing.


Haines said her nerves were still a bit on edge from worrying about her family members since the gunman was still on the run.  Her mother resides in Lisbon, a short distance from where a car belonging to the gunman was found abandoned at a boat launch area, triggering a massive search.  Haines said her father resides in nearby Brunswick, but he often travels to Lewiston to frequent places like Walmart and a hardware store or just hang out.


Haines said her stepfather, George, plays in dart tournaments at the bar where the gunman started the mass shootings.  She also used to play darts with her stepfather at the same establishment.


Haines said she came to La Porte to start a personal relationship, which didn’t work out.  She decided to stay after accepting an offer for a part-time job at the Jane Bernard Animal Adoption Center near the La Porte County Fairgrounds and later being promoted to a full-time animal control officer.


Haines said she may have gone to school with Card but is not sure since they’re four years apart and it’s been a long time ago.


“It’s been so long I probably wouldn’t even recognize him,” she said.

Leaf Pick Up Begins Monday in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - Leaf pick up begins Monday in the City of La Porte.  Code Enforcement and Streets Director Jeff Batchelor says the plan is to make multiple passes in neighborhoods until all of the leaves are picked up over the next several weeks


“This will be our first round of picking up all of the leaves. We’ll actually do two more rounds but we want to get started early.  So, get them out by the curb and we’ll pick them up,” he said.


Batchelor said crews will work 10 hour days.  When the second round of pick-up begins will be decided by how fast the trees are shedding their leaves.


“It just depends on how quick the leaves fall down,” he said.


Mayor Tom Dermody said the goal is the for city to be as free of leaves as possible.


“We want to be spotless with leaves,” he said.

Just Minor Injuries in Spectacular Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - A teenage driver suffered only minor injuries despite his airborne vehicle striking a tree. 


After 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, La Porte County Police responded to 0704 E. 200 North.  The driver, Maverick Ensign, 18, told investigators he lost control of his Dodge Ram pick-up truck while negotiating a curve just west of Fail Road, according to police.


Police said Ensign told investigators he went up an embankment and his truck began rolling then struck a tree about 15 feet above the ground.  According to police, there was damage to the landscaping, wooden fence, tree, flag pole and a NIPSCO utility box mounted to the home.


Ensign and his two passengers were treated at the scene but were not taken to the hospital.

Semi Driver at Fault in Student's Crash Death

(La Porte County, IN) - A semi-truck driver appears to be fault in the death of a South Central High School student in a crash yesterday.  That’s according to the findings of the investigation by La Porte County Police.


After 7:00 a.m., police said 16 year old Mark Steuer was traveling U.S. 6.  Police said an oncoming semi-truck driver began turning left onto 425 West but there wasn’t enough distance for him to clear.


The pick-up driven by Steuer struck the trailer pulled by the semi.  The boy was extricated from his pick-up  truck and transported to a hospital where he died a short time later, police said.


The 70 year old truck driver from Hobart was not injured.  Police said toxicology test results are pending.  

Murder Captured on Home Video

(La Porte County, IN) - The recent shooting death of a man outside Michigan City was captured on home surveillance video.  Dawson Mahoney, 22, is charged with murder in La Porte Superior Court 1.


According to court documents, the footage shows Mahoney and Travis Clemons on October 19th engaged in conversation outside a home in the 8600 block of West 400 North.  Police said Clemons appears to strike Mahoney once before Mahoney and a woman carrying a TV return to the residence.


The footage also captured Clemons going to the back door on two separate occasions and communicating with the occupants inside before returning to his vehicle in the driveway, police said.  Mahoney then steps outside and fires multiple rounds at the vehicle occupied by Clemons, who gets out of the vehicle.  Clemons is then hit with at least one of the five additional rounds fired by Mahoney, police said.


According to court documents, Mahoney told investigators he acted to protect his safety but the video shows no evidence of Clemons trying to force his way into the residence when he was inside.


Mahoney is awaiting trial in the La Porte County Jail on bond set at $1 million.

Halloween Times and Events Across The Area

(La Porte & Berrien Counties) - As Halloween approaches, 96.7 The Eagle and HometownNewsNow.com have teamed up to compile a list of the official "Trick or Treat" times for area communities along with "Trunk or Treat" and other area Halloween events. 


If you'd like for your Halloween related event to be posted here, please email details to morningmahem@967theeagle.com and we'll make sure it gets added to this list.



LaCrosse - Tuesday, October 31, 5pm - 7pm CDT
La Porte - Tuesday, October 31, 6pm - 8pm, CDT
Michigan City - Tuesday, October 31, 5pm - 7pm CDT
Pottawattomie Park - Sunday, October 29, 3pm - 5pm CDT
Rolling Prairie - Tuesday, October 31, 5pm - 7pm CDT
Westville - Tuesday, October 31, 5pm - 7pm CDT



October 27th:
Jane Bernard Small Animal Shelter, 5pm - 7pm CDT
La Porte YMCA, 5pm - 7:30pm CDT
St. John’s Lutheran Church, 6pm - 7pm CDT


October 28th:
Grace Baptist Church, 4pm - 5:30 pm CDT
La Porte County Museum, 2pm - 4pm CDT
Springville Church, 4pm - 6pm CDT
VFW - Noon, CDT


October 29th:

First Baptist Church, 4pm - 6pm CDT
JJ’s Side Out Bar, 3pm - 5pm CDT
First United Methodist Church, 1pm - 3pm CDT


October 31st:
Agape Christian Church, 6pm - 8pm CDT



Bridgeman - Tuesday, October 31, 5:30 pm - 7pm EST
Buchanan - Tuesday, October 31, 6pm - 8pm EST
Coloma - Tuesday, October, 31, 5pm - 7pm EST
Galien - Saturday, October, 28 5pm - 6pm EST
Niles - Tuesday, October 31, 6pm - 7:30pm EST
St. Joseph - Tuesday, October 31, 6pm - 7:30pm EST
Stevensville - Tuesday, October 31, 6pm - 7:30pm EST
Three Oaks - Saturday, October 28, 4pm - 6pm EST
Watervliet - Tuesday, October 31, 5pm - 7pm EST


Other Events:

New Buffalo Halloween Parade - October 29, 2:00 EST

Traffic Stop Leads to Arrest

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man is facing charges stemming from a physical assault of a woman with a firearm.  Thomas Hill, 34, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with criminal confinement and domestic battery from an encounter on October 12th.


According to court documents, Hill struck a woman in the face twice with a handgun and dragged her from a moving vehicle after he grabbed her by the shirt while she was attempting to jump out.


Police said the woman’s injuries included scrapes on her foot and left knee along with a bloody nose.  Nine days later, a police officer in the area of Grove Street and Boston Street spotted his vehicle and pulled him over.  He was taken into custody on warrants from the assault and for allegedly having methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia in the vehicle during the traffic stop.

Local Highway to be Temporarily Closed

(La Porte County, IN) - A stretch of state highway in La Porte County will be temporarily closed beginning next week.


According to the Indiana Department of Transportation, Indiana 39 between 1800 S and Indiana 8 will be closed beginning on or after November 1st.  The road closure will be for about 20 days for a bridge deck overlay project over the Kankakee River, INDOT said.


INDOT advises motorists to seek an alternate route.


Motorists in Northwest Indiana can monitor road closures, road conditions, and traffic alerts any time via:


Facebook: facebook.com/INDOTNorthwest

Twitter: @INDOTNorthwest

TrafficWise: 511in.org

Mobile App: iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store for Android

Pumpkin Patch Time Locally

(La Porte County, IN) - There's no need to panic for people looking for a pumpkin patch this time of year.  One of the places is go is Todd’s Pumpkin Patch on Cougar Road not far from New Prairie High School in the northeast portion of La Porte County.


Carol Zeigner says there are two acres of pumpkins for people to go out and pick themselves along with some already picked to take home.


“We have some pre-picked in the yard or we can give you a wheel burrow and a pair of cutters and you can go out in the field and, actually, cut your own pumpkin off the vine", Zeigner said.


Zeigner also says there’s plenty of pumpkins and a wide variety from having a bumper crop this season.



“We have the traditional orange ones anywhere from the size you can hold in your hand to some that it takes two people to lift.  We have white ones, pink ones, red ones, gray ones, tan ones,” she said.


Zeigner said there are also other kinds like green pumpkins and squash.   She said it’s a fun time of year with kids and even their parents excited to go out and cut their own pumpkin.

Student Killed in Crash This Morning

(La Porte County) - The South Central School District community is grieving the loss of a student in a motor vehicle collision this morning.  La Porte County Police said the collision involved a motor vehicle and commercial motor vehicle.  It happened about 7:30 this morning on U.S. 6 at County Road 425 West near Union Mills. 


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


How the crash occurred was still under investigation.  Police said additional information will be released once the accident is further along in the investigation. 



Emergency Responders at Motor Vehicle Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - Emergency responders were called to a motor vehicle accident this morning in the Union Mills area.  The crash occurred just before 7:30 a.m. at U.S. 6 and County Road 425 West.


Further details were not available because of the ongoing investigation.


For now, La Porte County Police are advising motorists to stay away from the area. 

City Leaf Collection Schedule Announced

(Michigan City, IN) - Fall leaf pick-up in Michigan City is scheduled to begin November 13th.  According to the mayor’s office, residents wanting weekly pickups of their leaves may use compost/yard waste bags available from area merchants.  No plastic bags or totes are allowed.


Leaves in paper yard bags or 32-gallon trash cans should be placed in the front of the property for pick-up by the city’s Refuse Department with regular compost.


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

  1. No plastic bags are to be used; however, you may use compost yard waste bags or 32-gallon containers.
  2. Branches, rocks, and other debris must be kept out of the leaf piles.
  3. Leaf piles should be loose in large piles in front of the property as close to the curb as possible, but away from the sewer drains, utility equipment, and fire hydrants.
  4. Please keep animal waste out of piles. 
  6. Leaves will not be picked up in alleys.
  7. The Street Department will be working on Saturdays in all areas as needed, taking off for Thanksgiving and working the following Friday, November 24th.


AREA #1:   November 13th thru November 17th / December 4th thru December 8th  Area 1 is marked by Franklin Street on the west, Michigan Boulevard and Roeske Avenue on the east, and Kieffer Road on the south.


AREA #2       November 20th, 21st, 22nd, 24th / December 11th thru December 15th  Area 2 is marked by Lake Shore Drive and U.S. 12 and Shoreland Drive on the north, Michigan Boulevard on the south, and Meer Road on the east.


AREA #3    November 27th thru December 1st / December 18th thru December 22nd  Area 3 is marked by County Line Road on the west, Franklin Street on the east, Kieffer Road on the south, and Lake Michigan on the north.

NIPSCO Seeking Higher Natural Gas Rates

(Merrillville, IN) - NIPSCO is looking to raise natural gas rates by an estimated 10.6%, or $8 a month for the average residential customer. This comes after the utility company raised its electrical rates by 10 percent in August.


NIPSCO is asking the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to approve the new rate hike to pay for items like modernizing its infrastructure, other system improvements, and economic development projects. A rate increase also would deliver higher returns to the utility's shareholders.


The company, a subsidiary of NiSource, plans to invest $1.1 billion through the end of next year.


“Required investments such as these align with our focus to continually improve customer service, enhance the availability and reliability of our natural gas system, and provide an infrastructure to support new jobs and economic growth,” said NIPSCO President Mike Hooper.


The public will get the chance to weigh in on the proposed rate hike, which state regulators will take about a year to review.


“As a regulated energy provider, we have a responsibility to replace older parts of our system, reduce potential risks, meet a host of federal compliance requirements, and improve the robustness and safety of our system for our approximately 859,000 natural gas customers and the communities we serve across 32 counties,” Hooper said.


The rate hike would apply to the cost of delivering natural gas.  NIPSCO is asking for a two-phase rate hike that would fully go into effect by March 2025.

Subdivision Plans a Cover for Mining Alleged

(La Porte, IN) - Plans for a subdivision outside La Porte have nearby residents fearing that the proposed development is an excuse to try and resume the mining and selling of sand that’s been disrupting their quality of life.  


The developer, Ryan Miller, president of D&M Excavating, went before the La Porte County Planning Commission Tuesday seeking permission to create a 39-unit subdivision on his property in the area of Schultz Road and 400 West.


Eight years ago, Miller began digging sand from the residentially-zoned property.  At the time, he explained it was for a pond he wanted for a dream home he planned on building for himself.


Nearby residents, complaining mostly about dust and noise as well as roads being damaged by heavy trucks hauling sand from the site, argued he was engaged in the commercial and industrial mining of sand in violation of the zoning.  They were previously successful in obtaining four stop-work orders from the county government in 2015, 2019, 2020, and 2022.  Gradually, though, the work resumed each time.


More recently, the county, alleging violations of the latest stop work order, sought relief from a judge, who issued a preliminary injunction to stop the digging for now.  The court order is temporary until the judge issues a final ruling on whether the activities comply with the permitted land use.  Miller also filed a still-pending lawsuit against the county alleging unconstitutional taking of property.


Attorney Andrew Voeltz, who represents Miller, denied the proposed subdivision is an effort to find a loophole for allowing the digging of sand to legally resume. He also told planning commission members the undecided legal issues have no bearing on their decision.


“None of that has any relevance to the board,” he said.


Instead, Voeltz said the only issue to consider during the initial stage of the approvals process is whether the subdivision plans meet the restrictions under the current residential zoning.        


“We have met the requirements and ask that it be approved,” he said.


Representing the county on legal matters is attorney Shaw Friedman, who asked the planning commission to turn down the subdivision request, noting that the past history of a petitioner is a legal factor for the planning commission to weigh in its decision.


He said digging a pond for a home is among the ways Miller has been deceptive to run what’s really been a lucrative commercial operation in a residential neighborhood.


Friedman went further, saying no water has been struck yet for the so-called pond, which is now an over three-acre, up to 30-foot deep hole in the ground from the mining of sand.  He also pointed out there’s never been any residential construction or even building or septic permit applications filed.


Friedman said that should raise concerns about whether just sand mining will occur where the subdivision is targeted.


Friedman also said that during a court hearing last week, Miller’s legal counsel announced a motion to dissolve the stop work order will be filed once approval is granted for the subdivision to resume the minding of sand.


“Don’t let anyone tell you this petition and the litigation aren’t related.  They absolutely are,” he said.


Randy Veatch, of 4177 West Schultz Road, said his property is much more prone to flooding because of changes the digging has brought to how the land naturally drains.


Jacqueline Thomas, of 3484 North 400 West, said roads in the neighborhood have also been heavily damaged from excessive truck traffic and the weight of the sand being hauled.


“Please, please don’t approve this. This man has not been a good neighbor,” Thomas said.


The request was tabled indefinitely to give planning commission members time to decide whether more requirements should be added to the petitioner’s construction application.

Crash Leaves Dirt Bike Operator Critical

(La Porte, IN) - A man on a dirt bike was critically injured in a collision with a pick-up truck in La Porte last night.  Bryan Porras, 31, of La Porte was taken to Northwest Health before later being flown to another hospital.  The collision occurred at about 7 p.m. outside of Kesling Park.


According to police, the pick-up truck driven by Michael Groth, 17, was headed southbound on A Street.  He turned left to enter Kesling Park, winding up in the path of the oncoming dirt bike, which then struck the front bumper on the passenger side of the 1997 Ford F-250.


Police said the boy told investigators he didn’t see the dirt bike, which was traveling at a high rate of speed.  Police indicate the dirt bike was not equipped with headlights or reflectors.


The teenager climbed out of his vehicle and began performing CPR on Porras, who was unresponsive from his severe injuries, and continued with his chest compressions until paramedics arrived, police said.   So far, there have been no updates on his condition.

State Legislator Reaching Out to Public Today

(Michigan City, IN) - A local state lawmaker is making herself available to her constituents today.  State Representative Pat Boy (D) of Michigan City said her community outreach is a way to make access to state government easier for the public.  Boy is scheduled to be at City Hall in Michigan City from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.  She will be there to listen and provide information on topics including property taxes and veterans’ benefits along with senior citizen and mental health resources.


Boy was elected to her seat in the state legislature in 2018 after serving 16 years on the Michigan City Common Council.  Currently, Boy is a member of the Indiana House of Representatives' Natural Resources Committee and the Environmental Affairs and Elections and Apportionment Committee.

Pedestrian Bridge Closer to Reality

(New Buffalo, MI) - It looks like a pedestrian bridge is going to go up near the lakefront in New Buffalo, as the city has received a $1 million state grant to help make it happen.


New Buffalo Mayor John Humphrey said the vision is to have a pedestrian bridge next to the Whittaker Street bridge, which is for motorists.


He said the pedestrian bridge is in response to pedestrians, during heavily attended summer weekends and special events, spilling over onto the travel portion of the Whittaker St. bridge.


The Whittaker St. bridge has sidewalks on both sides, but that hasn’t stopped large crowds from forming sometimes in the path of oncoming motorists.


“The pedestrian bridge has always been one of the more popular items from the public’s end for the improvements down at the lakefront. I’m glad to see that now we have the state helping us to make that a reality,” he said.


A prior estimate for building a pedestrian bridge over the Galien River, based on previous specifications, was about $2 million. Humphrey said a new estimate, calculated on specifications that could be adjusted, will need to be done to get a current idea of cost.


“Hopefully, it’s less,” he said.


Because it’s a matching grant, the city will have to come up with the remainder of the funds to pay for a pedestrian bridge.


However, Humphrey believes there are enough outside revenue sources like the Pokagon Fund to keep whatever the city has contributed from being a burden on taxpayers.

Outlaw Country Christmas Concert in La Porte

(La Porte, IN) - It’s going to be a Country Christmas at the Civic Auditorium this year as The Highwaymen Show – a Great American Outlaw tribute is scheduled to perform December 16th.


The group is a tribute band to country artists Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson, who played together as the Highwaymen in 1984.


Civic Auditorium Director Brett Binversie said the concert will include holiday favorites, along with classic hits from the original star-studded members of the Highwaymen.


“Country music fans and Christmas lovers alike will all be able to enjoy an evening of fantastic music,” he said.


General admission tickets are $10 and reserved table seating starts at $250.  Sponsor tables in the first three rows are available for $350.


Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m.


For more information and to purchase tickets, go to laportecivicauditorium.com.

Galloway Critical of Council for Ramrodding

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte official is defending his lone vote against plans for homeless housing in a residential neighborhood.


Councilman Roger Galloway said he went against the wishes of the administration because the people living in that neighborhood were vehemently opposed to the plans.  


In late August, Galloway was the only member of the City Council to vote no on a request to change the former commercial zoning on the property to multi-family residential zoning, as 16 housing units for qualifying homeless people have been planned in the former Rumely Street Coca-Cola bottling plant


Galloway asserts that the council should have listened to the residents in that neighborhood but has, instead, imposed its will on the people.


“Someone said I didn’t have any courage and backed down to the people. The courage was standing up to the whole council and sticking up for the people. That whole neighborhood did not want it. In my opinion, it shouldn’t have been put there. We forced our agenda on them,” he said.


To qualify, people must be homeless, have other issues in areas like substance abuse and mental health, and must be able to live independently despite any physical disabilities.


In-house services to address those issues, along with job training and placement, are planned to give them a chance at remaining off the streets.


Housing Opportunities, which has similar housing in La Porte and Porter County, plans to use a more-than $7 million state grant to redevelop the building.

Head Football Coach No Longer an Interim

(La Porte, IN) - The interim high school head football coach in La Porte is here to stay.


Last night, the school board, pointing to strong leadership, removed the interim label in approving Austin Epple as the head football coach.


The Slicers won only two games during the regular season, but La Porte School Superintendent Mark Francesconi told the board the attitude of his players was more of an accurate reflection of his job performance.


“They had an up and down season but they were working hard and kept their spirits up which is a tough thing to do and I think that’s a tribute to him and his staff for being able to maintain that sort of mentality,” he said.


Francesconi also cited a need for consistency in the head coaching job following years of high turnover in the position.


Chip Jones, our very own voice of the Slicers for live broadcasts on 96.7 The Eagle, also applauded the decision, saying that four head coaches over the past four seasons is likely a factor in the football program's struggles in recent years and in having 15 seniors on this year's team.


Jones also said the team won just two games but could have lost every game if not for Epple and his coaching staff.


"We got a pretty young staff that could stick together for a while and really do some great things.  I think it's a great step by the school board to take the interim tag off," he said. 


Epple had been an assistant football coach for the Slicers since 2018 before being named interim head coach for this season. He’s a 2012 graduate of La Porte High School, where he excelled in football and track as a Slicers athlete.


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


The football team opens sectional play at home Friday against Michigan City.


The Wolves defeated the Slicers 35-0 at Michigan City on October 6th.

Charges in Domestic Dispute Shooting

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City woman has been charged in connection with a shooting during a domestic dispute last week.


Kenya Atterbury, 23, allegedly fired a gun on Wednesday in the 200 block of East 7th Street.


Police note that it appears the bullet had been fired into the ground before ricocheting, a fragment of the round then hitting a 23-year-old woman in the face. The woman was then transported to a hospital with an injury described as non-life-threatening.


Officers, with help from license plate readers, located Atterbury in the 100 block of Pine Tree Court, allegedly being observed walking away from her vehicle.


A handgun was recovered during the arrest.


Atterbury has been charged with Level 3 Felony Aggravated Battery, Domestic Battery by Means of a Deadly Weapon, and Criminal Recklessness, both Level 5 Felonies.

NIPSCO Equity Sale Approved

(Merrillville, IN) - NiSource has announced the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has granted approval for the acquisition of a 19.9% equity interest in the company’s Northern Indiana Public Service Company.


Nearly 20 percent of the equity in NIPSCO was purchased by an affiliate of Blackstone Infrastructure Partners (NYSE: BX).


NiSource will continue to own the remaining 80.1 percent of the NIPSCO holdings.


“We are pleased to have received FERC’s approval of the proposed transaction with Blackstone Infrastructure Partners,” said Shawn Anderson, NiSource's executive vice president and CFO.


According to NiSource, the exchange will strengthen NiSource’s balance sheet and position the company to support an ongoing robust capital expenditures program.


“We believe this valued partnership with Blackstone will greatly benefit our communities in Northwest Indiana, and the further development of our NIPSCO operating company,” Anderson said.


He said doing so is a critical piece to ensuring “long-term safety and reliability while supporting the energy transition.”


NiSource expects the transaction to close by the end of the year.

Boy Killed in ATV Crash Identified

(Rolling Prairie, IN) - The identity of a La Porte County boy killed in an off-road vehicle crash over the weekend has been revealed.


Leo Lambert, 14, was driving the vehicle on private property at a "high rate of speed" when he struck an object, as per the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.


First responders were called to the scene in the Rolling Prairie area just after 4:30 p.m. on Saturday.


DNR officials said the victim was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, which occurred in the 3900 block of North County Road 350 East.


According to the coroner’s office, the Rolling Prairie boy struck a guide wire from a utility pole while operating the vehicle, the cause of death being ruled as blunt force trauma.

Two Crashes Linked to OWI Driver

(La Porte County, IN) - A man allegedly struck a utility pole just prior to having another single-vehicle crash over the weekend in Coolspring Township.


Jonathan Handtke, 32, has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Operating a Vehicle while Intoxicated and Fleeing the Scene of an Accident.


At around 6:30 a.m. this past Saturday, police were called to 300 North and 725 West to find Handkte's car resting against a mailbox.


La Porte County Police said Handtke explained he was heading home from a bar when he swerved to miss a deer, striking a tree in the process.


His blood alcohol level was .304 percent or nearly four times the legal limit per the authorities.


The investigation also revealed that there was a utility pole hanging by a wire less than a mile away, with parts from that crash site matching the suspect’s vehicle.

Chickens Perish in Coop Fire

(La Porte County, IN) - Some chickens died in a recent fire near Michigan City.


Firefighters, at about 10 a.m. this past Friday, responded to the 7100 block of West Johnson Road in Coolspring Township after smoke was spotted coming from behind a residence. 


Upon arrival, it was discovered a 6-by-12-foot chicken coop was on fire. All 13 chickens therein perished and a rear privacy fence was damaged by the flames. 


According to investigators, the cause of the fire was not known, but it might possibly be linked to a recently installed heating lamp used to keep the chickens warm. The owner told investigators she was not sure how the fire started, due to allegedly attaching the lamp to the ceiling away from any potentially flammable items. 

Siddall Receives Game Ball from Colts

(Indianapolis, IN) - Our very own Dennis Siddall received a game ball from the Indianapolis Colts yesterday for his fundraising efforts over the past 21 years to help take children shopping for Christmas.


Dennis, co-host of the Morning Mayhem program on 96.7 The Eagle and General Manager of the station alongside Rock 106.5, went to Lucas Oil Stadium to see the Colts for the first time. He didn’t know he was going to be honored on the field until after taking his seat.


The surprise was arranged with help from La Porte area resident Dan Bigg, who’s affiliated with the Colts.

“The next thing I knew the mascot, 'Blue,' came down along with a few of the Indianapolis Colts people and they presented to me a game ball from the team,” he said.


“Total surprise and and honor."


Dennis raises the funds annually by encouraging 96.7 The Eagle listeners to come to the radio station in La Porte and donate to the Deserving Children’s Christmas Shopping Tour, as well as helping take children shopping to purchase items such as clothing and shoes.


Over the past twenty-one years, close to one million dollars has been raised from the yearly Roof-Sit event, held at the station, to make sure children receive a good Christmas.

Boy Killed in Off Road Vehicle Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - A LaPorte County boy was killed in an off-road vehicle crash over the weekend.


According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the 14-year-old boy was driving the vehicle on private property at a "high rate of speed" upon hitting an object.


First responders were called to the scene in the Rolling Prairie area at around 4:30 p.m. Saturday in the 3900 block of North County Road 350 East.


DNR officials say the victim was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Their name has not yet been released to the public.


The investigation into the crash is currently ongoing.

New Prairie Wallops Hobart with Outburst of Offense

(New Carlisle, IN) - Following a couple of ugly games against Penn and Elkhart, New Prairie could have used a little luck when state tournament pairings were released last weekend. Instead, the Cougars drew an explosive Hobart team that had put up 113 points in their last two regular-season contests.


The two 7-2 teams clashed at New Prairie’s Amzie Miller Field Friday night.


It took the Brickies only three plays to jump out to a 7-0 lead. But the Cougars answered right back with a three-play drive of their own, culminating in a 57-yard Marshall Kmiecik touchdown run. A few minutes later, sophomore Reed Robinson scored the first of his three touchdowns on a five-yard scamper. That was all the breathing room needed for the Cougars, who dominated Hobart the rest of the game.


New Prairie closed out the first quarter with a 78-yard touchdown pass from Kmiecik to his brother Beau. With 4:22 left in the half, the Cougar defense made a fourth-down stand at their own eight-yard line. Two plays later, Robinson broke free for a 90-yard touchdown run. New Prairie squeezed in one more score before half when senior Dylan Wilson got a piece of a Hobart punt. Fellow senior Trenton Klute plucked the ball out of the air and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown.


New Prairie went on to win handily 49-14.


Though Hobart racked up 191 yards through the air, the Brickies couldn’t get much traction down the middle of a muddy field. New Prairie’s speedy runners, however, finding the grass greener outside the hash marks, accumulated 374 yards on the ground. Robinson and Kmiecik led the Cougars with 179 and 116 rushing yards, respectively. Junior Zach Henrich contributed 49 rushing yards, half of which came from a touchdown run late in the game. Kmiecik also completed three passes to three different receivers for 90 yards.


Once again, the Cougars’ key to survival was defense. Having come a long way this season, New Prairie displayed its penchant for taking a punch in the mouth early in a ball game. “It’s hard to play with butterflies,” said Coach Casey McKim after the game. “And you got to see how they’re going to attack you.” He credited his assistants— specifically Josh Bolakowski, Bobby Whitenack, and Jim Schwingendorf— for coaching up the defense. “Our coaching staff on the defensive side of the ball, those guys are just outstanding—years of experience; they’ve been around the block, they know how to break down a defense, and they know how to make adjustments. So I credit them making those adjustments and getting our kids refocused.”


New Prairie will travel to Jasper County to face Kankakee Valley (5-5) next Friday.

DCS, Local Caseworkers Named in Negligence Lawsuit

(South Bend, IN) - The Indiana Department of Child Services, along with three of its La Porte County employees, are facing more legal pressure for their alleged mishandling of Judah Morgan’s well-being.


Last week attorneys for Jenna Hullett, Judah’s personal representative, filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court. The suit alleges that caseworkers were negligent in allowing the four-year-old to be in the custody of his biological parents. After being returned to their Union Township home, Judah was neglected, abused, and killed in October of 2021.


Specifically, the suit names two La Porte County DCS caseworkers and the local director. According to court documents, all three are La Porte County residents, and one of them lived less than 1,500 feet from Judah’s home.


The claim paints a bleak picture of dysfunction in the Morgan household from the time of Judah’s birth. Attorneys allege that caseworkers ignored many parenting red flags and knew that Judah’s placement with his parents posed a risk for him and his older brother. The “reckless and deliberate indifference and intentional disregard of their duties,” the claim asserts, “were a proximate cause of [Judah Morgan’s] horrific neglect, abuse, torture, and death.”


The lawsuit requests a jury trial and unspecified punitive damages, along with attorney’s fees. An amended claim was also entered naming Alan Morgan and Mary Yoder as defendants. Morgan is serving 70 years for his actions; Yoder was scheduled to be sentenced on November 1st, but on Friday that date was pushed back to January 5th.


A Hendricks County judge has already found DCS in contempt of court for not releasing all documentation regarding Judah’s situation.  

AG Responds to Appeal in New Carlisle Murder Case

(Indianapolis, IN) - The state’s Attorney General has weighed in on the fate of Anthony Hutchens, the teenager who murdered a child in New Carlisle two years ago. In March Hutchens was sentenced to 64 years in prison.


Attorneys for Hutchens are appealing his sentence, claiming that their client should not have been tried in adult court. On Monday, the office of Attorney General Todd Rokita filed their support for the initial ruling.


Hutchens was 14 when he molested, strangled, and hid the body of 6-year-old Grace Ross behind their New Carlisle apartment in 2021. His attorneys have argued that adult court is not appropriate, since Hutchens was diagnosed with autism and ADHD. Two psychologists recommended trying him as a juvenile.


However, in Monday's appellate brief, the State reaffirmed its opinion that the safety and welfare of the community required that Hutchens be tried as an adult. Rokita's office maintains that Hutchens will still be incarcerated in juvenile detention until he’s at least 18 and will not receive any worse rehabilitative mental health service if treated as an adult.


The Indiana Court of Appeals is now considering the matter.

Michigan City Man Charged with Murder

(Michigan City, IN) - A shooting south of Michigan City Thursday evening left one man dead and another behind bars.


The violent incident took place at a residence in the 8600 West block of CR 400 North in Coolspring Township. According to the La Porte County Sheriff's Office, authorities were responding to a battery call and were alerted that someone may have been struck by a vehicle.


When they arrived a little after 8:30 p.m., authorities found 25-year-old Travis Clemons lying motionless near a vehicle with a bullet wound to his torso. He was taken to a hospital, where he died overnight.


22-year-old Dawson Mahoney was taken into custody at the scene. According to charging documents filed Friday in La Porte Superior Court 1, he is charged with fatally shooting Clemons. Mahoney is currently being held on a $1 million cash bond at La Porte County Jail.


Detectives are still investigating the incident. Anyone with additional information, especially cell phone or surveillance video, is encouraged to contact Captain Andrew Hynek at 219-326-7700, ext. 2401, or by email at ahynek@lcso.in.gov.

Arrest in Uptown Arts District Stabbing

(Michigan City, IN) - Both people involved in a stabbing Thursday in Uptown Arts District in Michigan City have been identified.


According to police, the victim, James Tallman, II, 59, was taken to a hospital with a stab wound to his lower back. The suspect fled on foot but was later identified by police as Jeffrey Kirkland, 59.


Tallman gave investigators a home address, but they're not sure if this information is accurate. There's a suspicion that the two men are potentially homeless, with Kirkland having been found at Keys for Hope, which provides various assistance to unhoused individuals.


Tallman was discovered in an alley behind 801 Franklin Street during the late morning/early afternoon hours following the incident, with authorities finding a small knife utilized in the stabbing.


Kirkland is being held on preliminary charges of Level 3 Felony Aggravated Battery and Level 6 Felony Possession of an Illegal Drug.


According to emergency responders, Tallman was not bleeding heavily from his wound.

Man Hits Rock Bottom on Roof

(La Porte, IN) - Charges have been filed against a man found on a roof prior to being taken into custody.


Donald Newland, Jr., 40, of Rolling Prairie, is accused of entering a home on Roberts Street in La Porte this past Wednesday without permission.


According to court documents, he went through a door, telling one of the residents that the police were chasing him. Newland was also allegedly doing a lot of mumbling before being given a bottle of water and leaving the home without incident.


Earlier in the day, several other citizens went to the police complaining about Newland not making any sense and claiming law enforcement was after him.


Later that evening, Newland was taken into custody after being located on the roof of a commercial building on Monroe Street, near Boyd Boulevard.


Newland, who has a prior criminal history, has also been charged with Resisting Law Enforcement and Disorderly Conduct. Additional charges related to matters like theft and burglary are possible, depending on the outcome of currently ongoing investigations. 

Pizzeria Uno in La Porte Opening Today

(La Porte, IN) - Authentic Chicago-style deep-dish pizza has come to La Porte as Pizzeria Uno, founded in Chicago in 1943, is opening a location today at the Pine Lake Resort Banquets Hotel at 444 Pine Lake Avenue. 


The hotel, formerly a Holiday Inn, fell into disrepair in recent years, but a nearly completed renovation has breathed new life into the entire facility.


“As everybody knows, they have a great history and we wanted to bring that Chicago-style tradition into the wonderful town of La Porte,” said Vikey Patel, one of the owners of the pizzeria and hotel.


Patel said the name Chicago-style deep dish pizza originated from Pizzeria Uno, which has other locations in communities such as Porter.


“They’re the creator of it,” he said.


The atmosphere of the restaurant, with soft music playing in the background, is sort of upscale.


“Everything is made fresh.  Fresh vegetables.  Fresh dough every day. Our ingredients are taste to please. You’ll enjoy every bite. Definitely,” said Sue Magee, general manager of Pizzeria Uno.


Magee said the menu also contains a wide variety of dishes, like Philly Cheese Steak sandwiches, cheeseburgers, spaghetti and meatballs, and rattlesnake pasta, along with food for kids such as chicken tenders.


Mayor Tom Dermody said he’s pleased the condition of the facility has returned to its former glory days, positioned again to be more of a contributor to the local economy.


He said having a Pizzeria Uno inside the hotel is also like the icing on the cake.


“It’s going to be welcoming to families and then you got a brand name I think most people will recognize out of Chicago,” he said.


La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership Executive Bert Cook said the hotel will play a key role in capturing dollars from people elsewhere coming here to attend tournaments at the Dunes Volleyball Center near Clear Lake.


He went further, citing that there’s a need for more hotel rooms in La Porte and how, recently, many people going to Dunes Volleyball Center events have been directed to Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa in Michigan City and other lodging facilities for overnight stays due to a shortage locally. 


The newly renovated hotel will be able to absorb some of that demand. 


“We want those people to stay here.  We want them to eat in our restaurants.  Providing the space for them to do so as well as another dining establishment is a huge advantage for us. It keeps all of those dollars in the city of La Porte,” he said.

State Park Inn for Potato Creek

(St. Joseph County, IN) - It was a somewhat historic day just a relatively short drive from La Porte County.


Gov. Eric J. Holcomb joined the Indiana Department of Natural Resources today to break ground on the Lodge at Potato Creek, which is the first state park lodge in Indiana built since 1939.

“There’s a reason why Indiana’s state park inns have the highest occupancy rate in the nation and continue to earn such high national rankings,” said Holcomb.


“Whether you’re out hiking a trail or sitting by the fire, our state parks offer an opportunity to immerse yourself in nature’s finest surroundings,” he said.  

The lodge, which will be the eighth to join the Indiana State Parks Inns system, will sit on the scenic south shore of Worster Lake at Potato Creek State Park, which is near North Liberty in St. Joseph County.


The preliminary plan for the lodge includes 120 guest rooms, a full-service dining room that seats 150, a conference center with three break-out rooms and capacity for 350 guests, an indoor aquatic center, a variety of indoor and outdoor spaces for small gatherings, a mini-nature room for programs and exhibits, a café, a gift shop, and access to the lake and other park features.


The lodge will provide a base for four seasons of outdoor recreation for guests, with activities ranging from bike riding and boating in summer to ice fishing and hiking in winter, along with the viewing of spring wildflowers, migratory birds, and fall colors in the woods and prairies.


To support the lodge’s construction, $100 million was appropriated earlier this year in the state budget. The lodge will be operated through the Indiana Inns Authority, a legislatively established, quasi-governmental entity that is a functional part of the DNR Division of State Parks.


“By building our second overnight lodging facility for Hoosiers in the northern part of the state, we’re both making history and making way for new opportunities to get out and explore our great outdoor Indiana,” said DNR Director Dan Bortner.


“Our park guests love making year-round memories at Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park, and we know this new lodge at Potato Creek is going to be a great place for more memories to be made.”

Uptown Arts District Stabbing This Afternoon.

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City Police are investigating a possible stabbing  this afternoon in the city’s Uptown Arts District


Just before 3 p.m., emergency responders were called to 801 Franklin Street, where an individual, described as a male, was reportedly in an alley with a stab wound in the back that was not bleeding heavily.


The caller indicated the suspect fled on foot.


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

Indiana Taking Tough Stand on Bail

(Indianapolis, IN) - Indiana will not join other states, who’ve been lenient on bail for violent criminals.


Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita said there have been legal challenges from the Bail Project to a law adopted by the state legislature in 2022.


The law prohibits charitable bail groups from bailing out anyone charged with a violent crime in Indiana, as well anyone with a past conviction for a violent crime charged with any new felony.


“Violent or potentially violent offenders should not be on the streets whatsoever, especially when they are being bailed out by biased, political organizations. There is an increase of crime in our country, and this only adds to this statistic,” he said.


“I am proud of our team for defending this smart piece of legislation, and we will continue to do so,” he said.


During the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, Rokita cited many looters, arsonists, and other aggressors having their bonds posted by organizations claiming to be supporters of racial justice.


“In actuality, they were advocating for people who took the opportunity of national unrest to steal from small businesses, destroy public property, and injure innocent people,” he said.


“Violent or potentially violent offenders should not be on the streets whatsoever, especially when they are being bailed out by biased, political organizations,” Rokita said.

Fines Now for Ignoring Swim Warnings

(New Buffalo, MI) - People going in the water during potential rip current conditions at the public beach in New Buffalo will now be subject to $500 fines.


Boaters also face the same penalty if heading to Lake Michigan in the city’s public channel during lake conditions viewed as too dangerous for their watercraft.


The fines, applying to violators of all ages, are contained in an ordinance that was approved unanimously by the City Council on Monday.


New Buffalo City Manager Darwin Watson said fines, under state law, cannot be given to people under the age of 18. However, parents or guardians of children in the water despite red flag conditions will be ticketed, even those not with them at the public beach at the time.


“We will look to fine the parent because there has to be a responsible person for anyone underage,” he said.


Mayor John Humphrey said a parent or guardian will also be subject to a $500 penalty for each person they’re responsible for in the water, despite warnings at the beach to stay out.


Humphrey said the ordinance is in response to at least 15 calls involving beachgoers and jet ski operators in distress at the public beach in July and

August, some of which required rescue.


In one case during the summer, Humphrey said two children nearly drowned in a rescue involving a lifeguard, who had to be pulled from the water by police due to exhaustion.


Earlier this month, he said six people were caught trying to launch a rowboat in the channel beside the public beach parking lot, despite a storm churning up nine-foot-high waves on the lake.


He said a police officer stopped them before they could venture out on the water.


“We got some people doing these things that are not very smart and they endanger the lives of our first responders trying to save them,” he said.


Humphrey said the portion of the ordinance governing boats is meant primarily for small watercraft like jet skis, citing an example where two passengers riding one overturned in rough conditions, winding up on the rocks at the breakwall.


“That’s what we had problems with this summer,” he said.


The ordinance was tailored after measures other Lake Michigan communities have placed in the books to try and reduce such problems.


“A sizable fine can be a deterrent,” he said.


Watson said the public will be informed about violators being subject to fines via signage at the beach, along with information posted on the city’s webpage among other forms of media.


“Hopefully, we don’t have to use it,”


Humphrey said the ordinance does not apply when the lake can be reached from private property.

Simulated Train Derailment Drill Today

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte will experience an emergency drill today, as emergency responders are conducting a simulated train derailment at the Thomas Rose Industrial Park on the city’s east side.


“It’s just a drill,” explained Jessica Bruder, a spokesperson from the mayor’s office.


Emergency vehicles are on the site with their lights flashing as part of the drill, which began at 8 a.m. and will last until 2 p.m. Radio communication is also being exchanged between emergency responders and dispatchers to make the drill as real-life as possible. 


The purpose of the drill is for emergency responders to sharpen their skills in the event of an actual train derailment.


"There's no danger to the public," Bruder said. 

Funeral Services for Longtime Community Servant

(La Porte County, IN) - Funeral services have been scheduled for a woman who had long been active in dairy farming in La Porte County and the general community.


Phyllis Eckovich passed away on Tuesday at her Springfield Township home, where she lived for close to 70 years. She was 93.


The family’s dairy farm is now run by a third generation of her family members.


According to her obituary, Eckovich was Dairy Barn Superintendent for 15 years at the La Porte County Fair and was President/Vice-President of Purdue Extension Homemakers, which she belonged to for 64 years.


She was also active in other organizations such as 4-H, La Porte County Republicans, and various churches.


Visitation is scheduled for Friday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Frank Keszei Funeral Home Essling Chapel at 1117 Indiana Avenue.


Funeral services at the funeral home are set for Saturday at 11 a.m., with visitation beginning at 10 a.m. prior to the service.

Police Outrun but Catch Up to Motorcyclist

(La Porte, IN) - After two chases of a motorcycle at speeds topping 100 miles per hour, the suspect over time could not out run the long arm of the law.


Wyatt Messer has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Resisting Law Enforcement, along with other counts from each pursuit.


On September 18th, officers began pursuing Messer, who was headed westbound at roughly 70 miles per hour on East Lincolnway.


Eventually, the pursuit topping 100 miles per hour veered onto 1st Street then Orchard Avenue but was called off when he nearly struck an oncoming motorist head-on in a no passing zone, police said. 


Five days later, Messer was spotted by police at Lincolnway and J Street on the same motorcycle, which triggered another chase down 1st and Central Avenue then Weller Avenue.


After a train blocked the motorcyclist’s path at a crossing, Messer allegedly veered down a gravel path beside the tracks at up to 40 miles per hour, police said. 


He then returned to Orchard Ave. and rode off again at more than 100 miles per hour.


Officers were able to get close enough during the chase to obtain the license plate number of the motorcycle, which turned out to be registered to Messer, police said. 


According to court documents, the address on his vehicle registration, ultimately, led to him being booked about three weeks later into the La Porte County Jail where he soon posted bond.


From Wrestling Bear to Running for Mayor

(La Porte, IN) - A former Chicago area resident is running for Mayor in La Porte, wanting to create a path for more locally-owned businesses as part of his plan to provide more job opportunities.


Democratic candidate Ron Zimmer, 75, is challenging Republican incumbent Tom Dermody in the November 7th election.   


Dermody, a former five-term state representative, served on the La Porte School Board prior to taking a seat in the legislature. 


Zimmer said his top priority is to create a board of directors that would oversee funds invested by members of the public, and decide the type of businesses to open with input from the investors.


He said his plan is similar to how the publicly-owned Green Bay Packers of the National Football League operate, with citizens able to receive potential dividends from the profits of those businesses and even work in the establishments as an option to further supplement their incomes.


For years, Zimmer said local officials have relied on recruiting or waiting for new businesses to open with little, if any gain in economic activity or filling up empty storefronts.


“My intention is to fill up every empty building in the city with the jobs the investors want,” he said.


Zimmer said he would like to see a roller rink and year-round flea market in the city, to help bring in additional people from the outside and provide more attractions for local residents. He feels those establishments would serve as a catalyst for the future success of new local investor-owned businesses, from the money people coming to La Porte would spend on such.


“We tire them out. They fill up the restaurants then they fill up the hotels because they’re too tired to go home. What a lovely problem for the city of LaPorte,” he said.


Zimmer, who twice previously ran for Mayor, said a firewood factory, as it did in the past, remains part of his platform as long as the local investors would want to establish such a business. Trees would be hauled in and cut into firewood for sale to the public, potentially creating 50 jobs or more. Zimmer said the now vacant former Coca-Cola bottling plant on Rumely Street would be a great facility to operate such a factory.


Currently, though, plans call for the structure in a residential neighborhood to be converted into housing for the homeless. On the matter, Zimmer said he would prefer such housing be established in a more open location away from single-family residences.


The retired electrician from the Ford Motor Co. on the south side of Chicago moved to LaPorte nearly 20 years ago.


About 50 years ago, Zimmer said he was an on-stage comedian and vocal impersonator of celebrities, such as the late singer and trumpet player Louis Armstrong.


Zimmer said his act was gaining regional attention but, sensing a need for a more secure future, he applied for the job at the Ford plant.


He also wrestled a bear for the entire three minutes after feeling God's presence following a major asthma attack.


He explained gloves were placed over the bear’s claws and a muzzle was over its mouth to protect him and the other wrestlers.


“I gave him a stiff arm and then we went to wrestling. The reason I did it was God wanted to see if I could live on,” he said.

Interest in Election Much Higher in City

(La Porte County, IN) - More than 400 early votes have been cast in the November 7th election to decide municipal roles like La Porte County's next Mayor and City Council.


It’s also the first time La Porte County has had voting centers, which allow county residents to vote at any polling location.  


So far, the voting seems to reflect a much higher interest in the races from Michigan City, as La Porte County Clerk Heather Stevens estimated that 85 percent of the over 450 early votes cast have come from the area.


“I know of people who live in La Porte who have voted in Michigan City, and I know people who live in Michigan City who have voted in La Porte,” she said.


Stevens said the numbers reflect the votes cast by mail or at early voting stations in both Michigan City and La Porte.


The heavy interest in Michigan City is primarily from the mayoral race, featuring incumbent Republican Duane Parry against Angie Nelson Deuitch, a Democratic member of the City Council.


If elected, Deuitch would become the first African-American to be mayor of Michigan City.


The low interest, so far in La Porte, is likely a result of people assuming Mayor Tom Dermody will win against Democrat Ron Zimmer and Democratic candidates in only three of the seven City Council races currently at stake.

Raiders Scare Still Undefeated Bridgman

(Bridgman, MI) - The Red Arrow Raiders were well within striking distance at halftime, but Bridgman showed why they've remained undefeated this high school football season.


The Bees defeated the Raiders 30-to-8 in an at-times-rainy homecoming game at River Valley High School on Friday, October 13th.


Bridgman, having trouble moving the ball, led 13-0 early in the second quarter when the defense for the Raiders came up with a big play.


Jaquan Pierce blocked a punt, recovered the ball, and then ran 33 yards for a touchdown for the Raiders, made up of players from River Valley and New Buffalo high schools. 


On their next series of downs, the Bees had a pass blocked by defensive lineman Cam Forker, who nearly intercepted the ball with about six minutes before halftime.


The Raiders (5-3) then sacked the Bridgman quarterback on a fourth down play.


Still training 13-to-8, the defense for the Raiders again held tight after the Bees drove the ball 35 yards to the four-yard line.


The time on the first half expired after a Bridgman pass hit the ground, just before reaching the hands of a receiver in the endzone.


In the second half, the Raiders, who put up some impressive numbers on offense in most of their previous games, continued to struggle moving the ball.


Gradually, the Bees (9-0) pulled away and coasted to victory about halfway through the fourth quarter.


Raiders Head Coach Matt Johnson praised his defense for keeping the dynamic Bridgman offense in check for most of the game.


“We played very spirited football. It was a physical game. The first half was probably the most competitive half that they’ve had. I felt like we gave them all they could handle,” he said.


Johnson wished things would have worked better on offense, which to him was manhandled the entire game.


“They are an aggressively defensive team.  We just couldn’t find any sort of rhythm,” he said.


Johnson said the offense simulated, in practice, how Bridgman would approach the game defensively, but the faster pace from their physical defenders proved too much.


Two of the points scored by Bridgman came from a safety by the defense in the fourth quarter.


“Offensively, we needed to do a better job but didn’t get it done,” he said.

Citizen Pleads for Dog Barking to Stop

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte woman is appealing for help to stop her neighbor’s dog from barking, saying that local officials, despite her past requests for action, have not responded.


Kimberly Krestan, who lives on West 11th Street, told the city council last night the dog barks for up to six hours sometimes, the barking being so bad that she put her house up for sale. She later took it off the market in that instance, because of the recent housing market slump.


“I’ve asked for help so many time. I don’t understand why I don’t get responses.  Why isn’t anything being done,” she said.


This morning, La Porte Code Enforcement Director Jeff Batchelor said his office has responded to her complaints, saying that, earlier this year. the dog was found with no food, water, and shelter in the yard it was kept in. After speaking to the owner, that situation was corrected.


Batchelor said a member of his office later went to the home on several occasions in response to more complaints about barking. However, the dog was not barking during those visits to the residence.


“Also, the mayor went there and talked to her, too. For her to say nobody has been in contact with her is just a lie,” he said.


Batchelor said the situation will be revisited in response to her latest complaints.

Suicide Victim Located in Train Car

(La Porte, IN) - Earlier this month, authorities say, a woman committed suicide by jumping from a bridge into a moving train car in Rolling Prairie.


On October 5th, police were called regarding a woman hanging over the bridge on U.S. 20, above the Norfolk Southern tracks.


Upon arrival, only a purse and cell phone, along with a pair of shoes, were located on the ground.


The westbound freight train was ordered to stop, doing so in downtown Chesterton. The woman was found dead in one of the train cars.


Chesterton Police released the information on the case Friday, with further details currently not having been provided.

Investigation of School Bus Fatality Completed

(La Porte, IN) -  An investigation into the death of a La Porte High School student, who died on Friday after striking the side of a school bus on his scooter, has been completed. 


The investigation reveals 15-year-old Julien Hernandez was riding a scooter eastbound on a sidewalk in La Porte after 4 p.m. on Friday.  The school bus, carrying 13 students, was also headed eastbound and passed Hernandez before stopping at a stop sign at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and South Avenue.


According the police report, the bus was in the process of turning right at the intersection when Hernandez drove into the passenger side door of the bus.  Police indicated the bus then stopped and pulled forward a short distance before the driver called for help on her radio. 


The victim was found lying unresponsive behind the bus and was pronounced dead at the hospital about 30 minutes later. According to the La Porte County Coroner’s Office, the cause of death was ruled blunt force trauma to the head.


Investigators reviewed footage from a video camera on the bus and concluded Hernandez was traveling at a high rate of speed on the scooter during heavy rain. He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt with the hood worn over his head.


Police stated Hernadez did not make an attempt to slow down or look for oncoming traffic before entering the roadway and colliding with the bottom right window on the passenger side door of the bus.


La Porte Police Chief, Paul Brettin, said he preferred to let the findings of the investigation speak for themselves instead of placing blame on either party.


“I’m just calling it a horrible freak accident. A few seconds each way, it would have never happened,” he said.


Brettin also revealed no charges will be pursued against the school bus driver. 


“She did what she was supposed to do.  There was nothing she did that would be criminal in nature or negligent,” he said.


The results of a blood test showed the driver had no alcohol in her system.


Brettin was unsure how fast the scooter was moving, but said Hernandez was traveling on a flat surface.  He said the scooter was able to be maneuvered with a handlebar and powered by standing with one foot on the platform and pushing against the traveled surface with the other foot.


“I call it a skateboard with a steering mechanism,” he said.

Crash Backs Up Overpass Traffic

(La Porte, IN) - Yesterday afternoon, a two-vehicle collision had traffic backed up on the U.S. 35 overpass in downtown La Porte.


The crash was between a semi-truck and a car on the north side of the overpass.


It took southbound motorists 30 minutes or longer to get through, because traffic had been backed up almost to Lincolnway.


Damage to both vehicles seemed to be moderate.


We’ll provide more details once further information about the crash is made available by the La Porte Police Department.

OWI Arrest in Fatality

(Berrien County, MI) - A driver has been accused of being drunk in a fatal two-vehicle collision on Interstate 94 in Berrien County, Michigan this past Sunday.


According to the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office, emergency responders at about 5 a.m. were called to the 15-mile marker near Bridgman.


So far, the investigation shows there was a rear-ended collision that claimed the life of a 69-year-old woman from Iowa in one of the eastbound lanes. 


The other driver was arrested for Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated causing death.


So far, police have not released the names of the drivers or where the surviving driver resides, with the crash currently being investigated by the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office Accident Investigation Team.


Alcohol and speed are both believed to be factors in the crash at this time.

Upcoming Senior Expo in La Porte

Older adults, retirees and caregivers are invited to learn about resources and opportunities available to them at an event next month.


The La Porte Activity Center for Older Adults, in partnership with the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte, will host its first-ever expo for older adults and caregivers, scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday, November 9th at the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte.


Assistant Director of the La Porte Park and Recreation Department, Susie Wireman, said the theme for the event, "Passport to Lifestyle & Health", is a reflection of the world of opportunities that exist for these individuals.


“Our community is so fortunate to have an abundance of resources, services, and activities available to older adults and caregivers alike. This expo is an excellent way to learn more about these offerings and meet other like-minded people in search of the same thing,” she said.


Wireman said the event is free to attend and does not require pre-registration.


The morning will feature a wide array of activities, speakers, resources, health screenings, giveaways, drawings, and free food and beverages. Goodie bags will also be available to the first 100 guests.


Businesses or organizations interested in participating in this expo are encouraged to call the park department office before this Friday’s deadline at 219-326-9600.

Michigan City Prepares for Fall and Winter Events

(Michigan City, IN) - Michigan City is getting the Uptown Arts District ready for the upcoming fall and winter event season, as Mayor Duane Parry has directed temporary bathroom facilities to be installed immediately.


According to the Mayor’s Office, the facilities will be placed at 7th and Frankin Streets on the southwest corner of the respective intersection.


That property is owned by the city’s Redevelopment Commission.


The Uptown Arts District, also referred to as Downtown Michigan City, runs from Wabash Street to Pine Street, and from 11th Street to Trail Creek.


More events there year-round are part of the city’s strategic plan for continued revitalization of that section of the city.

Forum Scheduled for La Porte Candidates

(La Porte, IN) - A candidates’ forum is scheduled in La Porte roughly two weeks before the November 7th election.


The La Porte Economic Advancement Partnership is hosting the forum in both mayoral and City Council races.


LEAP Executive Director Bert Cook will moderate the public event, scheduled for October 26th at the La Porte High School Performing Arts Center.


Each candidate will have an opportunity to make an opening statement, answer three questions, and make a closing statement.  


People attending can submit their questions for the candidates at the forum or online in advance at https://forms.gle/bY1uGm7DyuJHeC957.


According to LEAP, questions will be prioritized by topic and the moderator will ask the most frequently submitted questions.


In the race for the Mayor’s seat, Republican incumbent Tom Dermody is challenged by Democratic candidate Ron Zimmer.


The race for two City Council At Large seats features incumbent Republican Tim Franke, along with fellow Republican Lauren Huffman and Democrats Susan Antoszewski and Kim Glanders Noe.


Incumbent Laura Konieczny is challenged by former City Council Democrat Joe Mrozinske in the only other contested seat on the council.


The forum is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Students Mourn Loss of Classmate

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte High School students were dealing with their emotions Monday after a classmate was killed in a collision with a school bus while riding his scooter.


The La Porte County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as 15-year-old Julien Hernandez.


Just after 4 p.m. this past Friday, the boy was traveling eastbound on a sidewalk parallel to South Avenue on a scooter.


The bus, also eastbound on South Ave., stopped for a stop sign. While the vehicle was beginning to turn right onto Michigan Avenue, the boy slammed into the passenger side door while coming from behind.


Police said it was raining at the time of the accident.


Hernandez was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead about a half hour later, said LaPorte County Coroner Lynn Swanson. The boy, winding up underneath the chassis of the bus, was not run over by any of the tires.  The cause of death was ruled blunt force trauma to the head.


LaPorte Police Chief Paul Brettin said the boy was riding an unmotorized Razor scooter at the time of the incident, driven by the power of one's feet


“You stand and you steer it,” he said.


Brettin said the investigation will be finished once the results of a blood screening are known, so as to determine whether the bus driver was impaired by any foreign substances. He emphasized the blood test is standard procedure in any fatality or crash involving a motorist with a commercial driver’s license.


“There are no indications to show there was any impairment here. This is just a horrible accident,” he said.


La Porte Schools Superintendent Mark Francesconi said counseling would be offered on Monday to anyone at the school needing help dealing with grief, declining any further comment.


In a prepared statement, the school administration expressed deep sorrow for the untimely loss of the boy, saying "This loss has greatly impacted our community, and our thoughts and hearts are with the student’s family and friends during this incredibly difficult time."


School officials also declined to release further details, choosing to strictly allow law enforcement to shed light on any findings.


Teachers, counselors, and social workers, along with New Prairie School Corporation staff members and mental health experts from the Swanson Center have been made available to anyone seeking help in dealing with the loss.


“We will remember our young student with respect and love as we keep his family in our thoughts and hearts as they grieve this unimaginable loss. Please join us in keeping this family close in our thoughts as they mourn this heartbreaking tragedy,” school officials said.


Brettin also encouraged the public to refrain from making any further disparaging remarks or speculation on social media.


“For people to assume other things or say things about the victim and driver is just completely wrong.  Nobody would want somebody making these types of comments on social media or elsewhere if it was their family member involved,” he said.

Slicers End Football Season with Win

(La Porte, IN) - The Slicers defense threw a shutout and Keli Hay returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns giving LP a 12-0 win over Portage at a windy and soggy Kiwanis Field Friday Night.


The speedy Hay opened the game with a bang. The Indians won the coin and deferred possession until the second half. Hay took the kickoff at the 16-yard line in the middle of the field, cut toward the right sideline, and outran the Indians for the 84-yard score. Jack Doty’s extra point kick was blocked, making the score 6-0 LP just 13 seconds into the game.


The remainder of the first quarter plus the entire second and third quarters were battles for field position and turnovers as neither team was able to score.


The Slicers and Hay picked up their second score with 9:52 remaining in the game. Portage was forced to punt from near midfield. Hay caught the ball at the 5, beat containment on the right side, and sprinted 95 yards to the end zone. La Porte’s two-point conversion failed leaving the score at 12-0.


The wet, windy, and cold conditions made ball handling treacherous. The Slicers had five takeaways, two interceptions by Hay, one by Cam Neal plus fumble recoveries by Kai Jones and Malachi Washington. La Porte fumbled four times but lost just one.


Portage dominated time of possession and yardage gained but La Porte’s bend but don’t break defense never let the Indians inside the 25-yard line. The Slicer offense struggled to move the ball finishing with 65 yards of total offense.


The bulk of it came on a 44-yard pass from Aiden Penziol to Drew Flores. The Slicer offense did pick up some key rushing first downs by Flores in the game’s final minutes milking the clock.


Flores, who split time at quarterback with Penziol, was 2-4 passing for minus 2 yards. He caught a 44-yard pass and ran 16 times for 27 yards. Penziol was 1-6 passing connecting on the 44-yarder to Flores.


Hay, with his two kick return touchdowns and two interceptions, was named the Salisbury and Spence, Edward Jones player of the game. He actually had a third interception that was ruled incomplete. Video from the LPHS Radio/TV broadcast showed he made the catch.


The Slicers played without leading receiver, kick returner, and holder Ollie Kring who was out with an injury.


The Slicers, who finish the regular season at 2-7, have next Friday off. They will open sectional play at 7:00 pm on October 27th against Michigan City at Kiwanis Field. That game can be heard on WCOE 96.7 The Eagle with pregame beginning at 6:45.

New Prairie Outlasts Elkhart

(Elkhart, IN) - New Prairie would have liked to close out the regular season with their offense firing on all cylinders. Instead, they had to eke out a rain-soaked victory on the road at Elkhart Friday night.


New Prairie’s opening kick pinned Elkhart at their own 15. 45 seconds later, the Lions took advantage of relatively dry conditions and a mix-up in the Cougars’ backfield, scoring on an 84-yard passing play.


Then the rains came—and didn’t stop.


For most of the first half, on offense the Cougars couldn’t get out of their own way, struggling with penalties and ball security. A running play on third-and-30 turned into a lost fumble. An errant snap on a punt in the second quarter dribbled out of the back of the end zone for an Elkhart safety.


The Cougars regrouped at halftime, made some adjustments, and, despite the relentless rain, found an eight-point deficit not too much to overcome.


New Prairie put together a solid four-minute-long drive, culminating in a nine-yard touchdown pass to senior Reece Lapczynski. Senior Owen Chalik put the Cougars ahead with a 17-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. After Elkhart fumbled the ball away, New Prairie mounted another punishing drive. Senior Brock Sinka created some needed cushion with a four-yard touchdown run with under four minutes to play.


Senior quarterback Marshall Kmiecik threw for 158 yards on eight completions. Three of those went to his brother Beau for 80 yards. Lapczynski added 74 receiving yards on four catches. Sinka carried 10 times for 37 yards. Sophomore Reed Robinson added 31 yards on the ground.


New Prairie’s defense once again proved stout. Aside from the big pass play on the opening drive, they held Elkhart to only 60 total yards. 15 different Cougars registered a tackle. Junior Hayden Scott led the defense with nine tackles and a fumble recovery. Senior Matt Sorce and junior Harrison Groves each had a sack.


New Prairie finishes the regular season 7–2, 4-1 in the NIC North, good for second place. The Cougars got a tough draw for sectionals, opening tournament play next Friday against 7–2 Hobart.

Wills Township Fire Protection Update

(La Porte County, IN) - Wills Township residents came out in support of Rolling Prairie’s volunteer fire department Monday night.


Over 60 people packed the Wills Township Community Center to voice their opinions on an option to partner with the New Carlisle Fire Territory, instead of continuing service with the Kankakee Township Volunteer Fire Department.


Citizens seemed unanimous in wanting to stay with Kankakee.


The township’s current contract with the volunteer fire department is due to expire. The rate for renewal increased by 50%, so Wills Township officials said they began exploring other options. Kankakee Township has reportedly offered a three-year contract for $60,000 per year. New Carlisle will match that amount for a term of one year.


Officials present at Monday’s hearing were Wills Township board members Jordan Smith and John Houseknecht, along with Trustee Kristi Chadderdon. Board president Barry Halter did not attend.


At a New Carlisle Fire Territory meeting on Wednesday, board members said a contract for service is still on the table, but the decision is now up to Wills Township officials, none of whom were present at that meeting.


Another public meeting to discuss the Wills Township budget is scheduled for October 24th.

Multiple Injuries in South Bend Collision

(South Bend, IN) - A head-on collision on the northwest side of South Bend sent multiple people to the hospital Friday.


The accident happened at approximately 1:30 p.m. Central at the intersection of West Lincolnway and Eclipse Place, about four blocks east of Bendix Drive.


According to a witness at the scene, a full-size gray SUV driving eastbound on Lincolnway collided with the driver’s side of a westbound red passenger car, when the car veered into its path.


The witness reported that two occupants of the SUV were taken to a nearby hospital with minor injuries. First responders worked to extricate the driver of the car, and then transported her to the hospital.


Lincolnway was closed for about an hour for cleanup.

Armadillo Spotted at Hoosier Farm

(Rockport, IN) - Dustin Epperson still feels an adrenaline rush whenever he spots a bobcat running from the corn he’s harvesting.


Yet, he was more baffled upon first seeing an armadillo in the soybeans he was cutting in southern Indiana.


Epperson, 25, is employed full-time at Vogel Seed Farm, which has about 4,000 acres of corn and soybeans outside Rockport, about 40 miles east of Evansville near the Ohio River.


“It was pretty crazy,” he said.


On October 2nd, Epperson said he was cutting in the middle of a soybean field, and out from the dust stirred by the combine in the sandy ground came an armadillo, a species usually found in states like Texas and other areas of the south and southwest. He was able to get the combine close enough to snap pictures and video of the armadillo before it “jumped up and took off running.”


Epperson’s brief surge of virality occured shortly after he posted the images on social media.


“The next thing I know it was all over Facebook,” he said.


Epperson said he was also contacted by a reporter from WFIE TV out of Evansville about his discovery.


He’s known for years that bobcats populate the area and sees them, occasionally, darting out from the corn being harvested. However, the only armadillo he'd seen before was on television. Epperson knew it was an armadillo, though, because of its shell.


“It was pretty big, I guess.  It was bigger than a possum,” he said.


According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the nine-banded armadillo, growing to about the size of a cat, is the only armadillo species in the U.S.


In Spanish, armadillo translates to “little armored one,” referring to the bony, armor-like leathery skin covering most of their body that gives the species a unique, easy-to-identify appearance.


Originally, the nine-banded armadillo was native to South America and first documented in Texas in the mid-1800s as the species migrated north.


Designated the state small mammal in Texas, the species is also found in larger numbers in states like Oklahoma, Kansas, and Florida.


The first official spotting of an armadillo in Indiana was in 2003, with more than 70 other confirmed sightings mostly in the southern part of the state ever since. A decent number of those sightings have also been in the central and western parts of the state, and as far north as Porter County near Lake Michigan.


According to the DNR, the rate of armadillos marching into Indiana has increased with 80 percent of the sightings being from 2017 to 2021. Experts cite factors like warmer winters in the Midwest due to climate change to explain why armadillos are inching their way further north.


There’s more food now for the primarily insect-eating mammals to consume and the ground is less frozen, allowing the strong-muscled creatures to be active year-round, with their sharp claws on all four feet burrowing into the soil. Armadillos also eat things like roots, bird eggs, and earthworms.


Further migration of the species to the north is prohibited, because they’re susceptible to starvation along with hypothermia from having little fur and body fat to capture for warmth during extended cold periods, even while burrowed into the ground.


Per the DNR, armadillos also have a generally low body temperature.


Armadillos in Indiana are a protected species, with laws prohibiting them from being trapped or killed unless they are causing substantial property damage.


Epperson said he was still amazed at spotting an armadillo two weeks later.


“It was like looking at a unicorn. It took a minute for it to set in what it really was.  I never would have imagined we’d have them this far north as cold as it gets,” he said.

Police Imposter Phone Scam Warning

(St. Joseph, MI) - Berrien County, Michigan residents are being warned about phone calls from impostors pretending to be police in order to scam people.


According to authorities, the callers identify themselves as Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputies and attempt to scare people into transferring money over the phone. The targets are told they have some type of criminal or civil charge(s) against them as a scare tactic, as well as spoofing their numbers to make them appear as if they’re from Berrien County.


The Berrien County Sheriff’s Office would never contact someone over the phone and request money or use a payment app to retrieve funds.


Individuals receiving such calls are encouraged to hang up right away and not give them any money or personal information.

Undefeated Satellites Ready for Sectionals

(Union Mills, IN) - The undefeated South Central High School girls’ volleyball team begins the postseason tomorrow, as the 30-0 Satellites take on North Judson on their home court at 10 a.m.


North Judson advanced by defeating Hebron.  The Lady Satellites received a first-round bye.


South Central High School Principal Ben Anderson said it was a historic regular season but it’s either win or go home now.


“You have one bad game or one bad day and it’s all over with.  They’re 30-0 and they earned that.  I know they are taking this very seriously and they’re ready to go,” he said.


South Central defeated North Judson both times during the regular season.


The Satellites are ranked third in Class 2A.

Mayor Touts Progress at Reelection Rally

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody hosted a rally with his supporters last night as part of his bid for a second term in the upcoming November 7th election.


Dermody started his sub-10-minute speech by giving credit to his entire administration for successes over the past close to four years in areas like code enforcement, cracking down on drug dealers, and new housing construction.


“What we’re doing in the City of La Porte couldn’t happen without each and every one of you and I want to say thank you to all of you.  Just give yourselves a round of applause,” he said.


Dermody then emphasized he’s done what he had  promised to do in all areas of need in the city, declaring La Porte under his administration “a law and order community.”


“We are not going to tolerate the drug epidemic, the drug dealing that’s been happening in our community and I think since day one we’ve been making progress,” he said.

Dermody also cited progress on streets, and sidewalks, updated water and sewer systems, along with providing quality housing out of once-condemned properties through code enforcement.


He singled out the former Monroe Streety apartments at 701 Maple Avenue, which no longer attracts law enforcement as it once did in the past after being renovated by a new owner.


“Since two years ago, we haven’t had a police call there,” he said.


The rally, designed to energize his supporters, was held at the Silver Palace.


Dermody, a former member of the state legislature and school board, is challenged by Democrat Ron Zimmer, who recently announced that, if elected, he would donate half of his salary to high-achieving La Porte High School students..

Charges in Motorcycle Collisions

(Michigan City, IN) - A driver is accused of fleeing a motorcycle accident in Michigan City, intentionally crashing into another motorcyclist who confronted him about leaving.


Antoine Whiting, 50, has been charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with Level 5 Felony Battery with a Deadly Weapon and Misdemeanor Failure to Stop at an Accident.


On August 4th, Whiting was on U.S. 12 near Blue Chip Casino when, turning right, the passenger side mirror on his Jeep Cherokee struck a motorcycle that was attempting to veer around him.


The motorcycle driver, Anthony Lemanski, 31, of Valparaiso was ejected and sustained scrapes to his right shoulder, also complaining of pain.


According to court documents, Whiting continued eastbound on U.S. 12 but was followed by another motorcyclist, Robert Zeiger, who witnessed the crash. Zeiger of Three Oaks, Michigan confronted Whiting at the intersection at Liberty Trail and told him he should return to the accident scene. He also informed Whiting that he had his license plate number.


In response, Whiting put his SUV into reverse and crashed into Zeiger, who was knocked off his motorcycle, uninjured.


The Lake Station man could receive an up to six-year sentence on the battery charge and up to one year in jail for allegedly leaving the scene of the crash.

Mayoral Candidate Pledges Salary for Students

(La Porte, IN) - If elected, a man running for mayor in La Porte is promising to donate half of his salary. allegedly to go to the best academic performers at La Porte High School as an incentive to work as hard as possible.


He said $10,000 would go to the valedictorian; $5,000 to the salutatorian and $2,000 apiece to the next top five finishers, with the students able to spend the money any way they want to.


“I think we should give our students at La Porte High School a reason to excel.  Reward them,” he said.


Zimmer, a Democrat, is challenging Republican incumbent Tom Dermody, who’s seeking re-election.


Zimmer, a retired electrician at Ford Motor Co., ran for mayor in 2007 and 2011 but lost each time in the primary to Kathy Chroback, who served as mayor for two separate terms.

Rally to Reelect Mayor Dermody This Evening

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody is hosting what he calls a reelection rally this evening.


Dermody, a Republican, is seeking a second term in the November 7th election, challenged by Democratic candidate Ron Zimmer.


Leigh Morris, who was mayor from 2004 to 2007, said the current administration has accomplished a lot with Dermody playing a critical role with his leadership. He also called the team of department heads he’s assembled “unmatched at any time, I believe, in the history of La Porte.”


“So, the stars are aligned and I hope he will be returned with a strong endorsement from the voters,” said Morris, who, for more than 20 years, once served as president and chief executive officer of La Porte Hospital.


The public is invited to this evening’s rally at the Silver Place at 1719 State Street. The event is scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. with Dermody expected to speak to an anticipating house of supporters at 6:15 p.m.

Much Lower Heating Costs Projected

(Merrillville, IN) - NIPSCO is handing out an early treat for Halloween, with the utility company now projecting much lower heating bills for its customers during the upcoming heating season.


According to NIPSCO, the natural gas bills for residential customers from November through March are expected to be 24 percent lower than last year. The figures are based on current market projections under normal weather conditions for the winter.


An average residential customer’s monthly bill for natural gas is projected at just over $131.00 during the height of the heating season in January.


The market price for natural gas is 51 percent lower than last winter because of factors such as increased production and lower exports that have increased U.S. supplies.

Hard Drugs on Menu of Seller

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man remains in custody on allegations that he sold narcotics.


Cody Peck, 31, has been charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with Selling Methamphetamine and Fentanyl.


According to court documents, one of the alleged exchanges involved 3.5 grams of methamphetamine for $100 on October 4th at a residence in the two thousand block of Elston Street.


About three hours later, Peck, from the same Michigan City home, sold 3.6 grams of heroin containing fentanyl for $300.


Peck could face up to a 16-year sentence on one of the counts and a maximum of 12 years on the remaining charge. 


Peck has a lengthy criminal history of past drug and domestic battery-related offenses, along with resisting law enforcement.

PNW Named an Economic Driver

(Hammond, Westville) - Purdue University Northwest has been designated as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities.


The IEP designation is an acknowledgment for public research universities with strong evidence of collaboration with public and private sector partners to support economic development, innovation, entrepreneurship, technology transfer, talent and workforce development, and community development.


The designation is a significant mark of excellence for PNW that recognizes its mission as a metropolitan university and its proven impactful change for its surrounding communities.


“What has long made Purdue Northwest a unique and leading university in our region is its commitment to serve Northwest Indiana and support its growth as a prime destination to work and live,” said PNW Chancellor Thomas L. Keon.


“Purdue Northwest’s high-quality resources help catalyze initiatives with community partners that meet that goal. The university plays a leading part in charting a path forward for our neighboring communities,” he said.


The designation puts PNW in esteemed company with other major research institutions across the country. PNW became the third IEP in Indiana, joining Purdue University in West Lafayette and Indiana University Bloomington.


The designation was awarded following an independent panel review of PNW’s application, which included an internal review and analysis of economic engagement activities conducted with outside stakeholder input.


Several areas of institutional strength in economic engagement were identified. These included:


  • PNW’s Commercialization and Manufacturing Excellence Center catalyzes economic development and technological transfer for Northwest Indiana through product commercialization and related training for manufacturing companies. The future Roberts Impact Lab at PNW will be a workspace for entrepreneurship, innovation, and education collaboration.


  • Applied doctoral programs, particularly PNW’s Doctor of Technology, offers candidates an opportunity to do applied research and provide innovative solutions to the industry.


  • Over $30 million in sponsored research over the past three years, a total not matched by other mid-size or regional institutions in Indiana.


  • Involvement in regional boards and economic development initiatives, such as Legacy Foundation; One Region; and the Northwest Indiana Forum.


  • Status as an emerging Hispanic-Serving Institution, a testament to the diverse and inclusive learning environment PNW strives to foster.

An economic impact study conducted by a third party showed that PNW contributes nearly $746 million in total income to Northwest Indiana or 2% of the gross regional product. The university also supports 10,494 jobs in Northwest Indiana or one out of every 36 jobs. PNW impacts top local industries in health care and social assistance; government; education; construction; and professional and technical services.

Thousands of Dollars in Cocaine Found During Arrest

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man was arrested upon allegedly being found with thousands of dollars in narcotics.


Gregory Morrison, 53, has been charged in La Porte Superior Court 1 with Level 2 Felony Dealing Cocaine.


According to court documents, members of the La Porte County Drug Task Force on September 26th went to a home at 607 York Street to execute a search warrant. Morrison was located sitting on a couch in the living room, allegedly holding behind his head a small box containing close to 160 grams of cocaine- an estimated street value of at least $10,000. 


Also confiscated from the residence was a plastic bag containing a small amount of cocaine along with bags and small boxes labeled "marijuana" and “THC Gummies."


THC is the active ingredient in marijuana.


Three scales and sandwich bags along with various pills were also seized.


According to authorities, individuals selling drugs often possess large amounts, which are used to secure more orders for narcotics, and possess items such as scales and sandwich bags used to place the drugs into for sale.


Morrison could face anywhere from a 10-to-30-year sentence.

Crash Between Woman and Her Alleged Stalker

(La Porte, IN) - A man is accused of using a vehicle as a weapon against an ex-girlfriend he was allegedly stalking.


Kenneth Veal, Jr., 33, is charged in La Porte Circuit Court with criminal recklessness.


According to court documents, the woman had a protective order against Veal when he allegedly rammed into the side of a vehicle she was in with his Chevy Blazer on Saturday, October 4.


After the collision, police said the vehicle driven by Veal wound up overturning in the parking lot of North Side Barbecue at Indiana 39 and McClung Road.


The investigation revealed his ex-girlfriend and a man were in the drive-thru at Taco Bell on Pine Lake Ave.


After spotting Veal parked nearby, the woman said they left and Veal headed in the opposite direction, according to police.


She said they thought Veal was gone until he allegedly rammed into the side of their vehicle at high speeds, according to court documents.


According to police, Veal told investigators the SUV occupied by his ex-girlfriend struck his vehicle while he was trying to pass it from behind, which caused him to lose control and overturn.


According to court documents, the woman called police in July after spotting Veal allegedly driving by her residence constantly and revving his engine.


She also complained he was following her to stores and restaurants and has struck her residence with pellets fired from a BB gun, police said. 


According to police, Veal was also charged last year for allegedly throwing a “Drano Bomb” on her property.


The Michigan City man was being held in the La Porte County Jail without bond.

Overdose Leads to Neglect Charge

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man is facing criminal allegations in connection with a drug overdose.


Austin Steger, 30, has been charged with Level 6 Felony Neglect of a Dependent, incited by an incident when he dropped to the floor while playing with his stepchildren at their home in the 500 block of Jefferson Avenue.


Despite efforts from the children, Steger didn’t open his eyes until paramedics gave him eight doses of Narcan. The investigation revealed he has had a history of using heroin and possibly relapsed in his effort to stay clean. 


Authorities said neglect charges were filed because he was the only guardian in the home at the time.


The incident happened in May, and Steger was taken into custody last week. He is still being held in the La Porte County Jail on $755 bond.

Alleged Child Molester Arrested

(La Porte, IN) - A La Porte man is facing child sex-related allegations as Jason Wright, 44, has been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with two counts of Level 4 Felony Child Molesting.


Wright stands accused of having fondled a girl, starting when she was eight years old in 2019 and again in 2020 at a residence in La Porte.


Police said the investigation into the allegations began after the girl reported his alleged actions following a program at school about “good and bad touching,” in 2022.


The charges were not filed until last week after probable cause was found in the evidence presented to a judge. The delay could have been from difficulty reaching Wright for questioning.


According to court documents, Wright promised to speak to investigators when inquired at his workplace in July of 2022, but nine days later still had not contacted the police.


Wright, who was arrested Friday, is still being held in the La Porte County Jail on a $20,000 bond.

PNW Hosting Child Mental Health Expert

(Hammond & Westville, IN) - Purdue University Northwest will host influential clinician, researcher, and scholar Dr. Bruce Perry for a two-day visit to share his insights on trauma and resilience with campus and public audiences.


For over 30 years, Perry has conducted research and provided training and consultation on children’s mental health and the neuroscience of trauma.


His career has focused on the impact of abuse, neglect, and adverse childhood experiences on the developing brain which, in turn, has greatly influenced clinical practice, programs, and policy across the world.


His work has been instrumental in describing how childhood experiences, including neglect and traumatic stress, change the biology of the brain – and, thereby, the health of the child.


Perry is the principal of the Neurosequential Network, an adjunct professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago and the School of Allied Health, College of Science, Health and Engineering, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.


PNW Professor of Psychology, Dr. Amanda Zelechoski, expressed her excitement.


"Dr. Perry’s willingness to visit both of our PNW campuses and meet with multiple groups of students, clinicians, community partners and local residents is truly a testament to his ongoing collaboration with PNW and his commitment to helping us continue to provide the most cutting-edge clinical training and intervention programs for children and families in Northwest Indiana,” she said. 


In addition, Dr. Perry will present at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 15th at the Sinai Forum at Purdue Northwest at the James B. Dworkin Student Services and Activities Complex, 1401 S. U.S. 421, Westville, IN.


Perry’s program titled “What Happened to You? A Conversation on Trauma, Resilience and Healing” will discuss his clinical experience and research on how early childhood trauma influences people as they grow into adults, and how the healing process begins when we stop asking “What is wrong with you?” and instead start asking “What happened to you?”


To purchase Sinai Forum at PNW tickets, visit pnw.edu/sinai-forum. College and high school students can attend free of charge with pre-registration.

Homecoming Win in Football at New Buffalo

(New Buffalo, MI) - The Red Arrow Raiders scored the first 20 points before cruising to victory during a Homecoming game Friday against Wyoming Lee.


The final score was 72-to-28 on a blustery and sometimes rainy night in New Buffalo.


The offense for the Raiders scored on their first snap of the game when quarterback Ethan Lijewski hooked up with Ryder Wolnik for a 50-yard touchdown.


After catching the ball, Wolnik ran 35 yards into the endzone.


A short time later, Wolnik struck again on defense when he intercepted a pass at the 50-yard line and took the ball to the five-yard line.  Wolnik on third down then powered his way up the middle for a three-yard touchdown run.


He and Owen Slavens were major factors in the next scoring drive for the Raiders, mostly from rushing plays.


Slavens did have a nine-yard gain on a pass from Lijewski before gaining just enough ground on a rushing play for a first down.  A few plays later, Payton Lijewski caught a short pass for a touchdown to make the score 20-0.


The Legends came right back though, with a long kick-off return before running the ball on the next play 25 yards into the endzone.


Rain mixed with hail started falling rather heavily in the second quarter. Just before halftime, with the Raiders ahead 28-16, the game was delayed for 30 minutes due to lightning.


There was less than a minute left on the clock when play resumed, but the Raiders twice put the ball into the end zone once on a 37-yard touchdown pass to Wolnik.


The Raiders then recovered the ball on the kickoff and Lijewski soon ran it five yards into the endzone.


Wolnik, who grabbed another interception in the second half, finished with close to 200 yards receiving and 83 yards rushing, while Lijewski racked up more than 250 yards passing.


“It was a good win,” said Head Coach Matt Johnson.


Wolnik also ran the ball in for two two-point conversions and had several tackles for loss of yardage.


“He had a hell of a game,” Johnson said.


After a disappointing loss the previous week, Johnson said his players responded by executing much better and handling the athletic ability of the opposing quarterback and wide receivers.


“Everything we did ended up working,” he said

Arrest in Pursuit Through Farm Fields

(La Porte County, IN) - A pursuit through farm fields left a driver in custody last evening in La Porte County.


Marcus Koehn, 38, was arrested for Resisting Law Enforcement and Invasion of Privacy when, according to La Porte County Police, Koehn violated a no-contact order upon going inside a residence in the 3300 block of East 300 South.


Police were called but Koehn left before authorities could arrive.


However, when he returned to the scene officers were still there, causing him to off in his Chevy Silverado.


During a traffic stop, Koehn fled yet again, veering into a farm field where he “drove aimlessly in varying directions” until returning to the road, per the LPCPD.


He drove through a yard and another field, before returning to the road and entering the field he had just driven in a second time.


At no time did Koehn ever exceed the posted speed limit or violate basic traffic laws.


Police said it appears his behavior while behind the wheel and the no-contact order were influenced by an addiction to prescription pills.

Impaired Driver Overturns Car

La Porte County Police say alcohol was involved in a one-vehicle rollover in Saugany Lake over the weekend.


Late Friday night, a patrol officer was traveling 500 East when he discovered the overturned vehicle near 700 North, in the middle of the road.


The driver, 53-year-old Dawn Taviner, was standing beside the car bleeding heavily from her right knee. The North Liberty woman was treated for her injuries before being taken to the La Porte County Jail with an alleged blood alcohol level of .139 percent.


The OWI charge was upgraded to a felony because of her having a prior OWI conviction from 2019.


She was also driving on a suspended license. 


So far, police have not shed light on how the accident occurred. 

Driver Survives Car Split in Half Crash

(La Porte County, IN) - A teenage driver survived despite his car being split in half in a northern La Porte County tree collision.


At about 6 a.m. on Sunday, emergency responders were called to 1000 North near 125 East in Galena Township where the back end of a 1998 Oldsmobile was embedded in a tree, the front half of the vehicle lying roughly 50 feet away.


The driver, 19-year-old Dallas Ryans, was taken by ambulance to Northwest Health and later transferred to a trauma center in South Bend for treatment of an upper spinal fracture.


The investigation showed Ryans was traveling eastbound at high speeds when he veered off the two-lane road to his left and struck a tree, police said.


The rear half of the vehicle was embedded in the tree. The front half of the car went up and over a six-foot-high metal fence along the perimeter of the Hesston Steam Museum, before striking a utility pole.


Ryans told investigators he left the road trying to avoid a possible animal that jumped in front of him.


Charges of operating while intoxicated and underage drinking are being sought in the case. The New Carlisle man had an alleged blood alcohol level of .097 percent, which is slightly above the .08 percent legal limit.

People Urged to Help Stop Domestic Violence

(La Porte County, IN) - October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and local authorities are urging people to get involved if they suspect ongoing acts of violence in a home.


Advocates recommend approaching a person or persons they suspect are victims of abuse about it respectfully and helping them gain access to community services.


“Too often these heinous acts go unreported for a wide variety of reasons and many victims feel trapped with nowhere to go or are worried no one will believe them. We as a community must educate ourselves on understanding domestic violence and how we can best support victims and their families,” said La Porte County Prosecutor Sean Fagan.


Statistics show that more than 40 percent of women and more than 26 percent of men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetime.


Fagan said victims of domestic violence have the support of his office in terms of support and prosecuting cases.


“Domestic violence is a crime that can result in serious injury or even death. If you know that a battering incident is occurring or has taken place, do not hesitate to call the police immediately,” he said.


Fagan said survivors needing assistance or support should call the 24-hour domestic violence statewide hotline in Indiana at 800-332-7385 or visit thehotline.org to call/text/chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Search for Last Suspect in Hardee's Scheme

(La Porte County, IN) - Authorities are still searching for one of the suspects involved in a money laundering scheme involving the La Porte County Jail.


Dylnn Scott of Michigan City is the only suspect not currently in custody yet on charges related to credit cards stolen from customers at the Hardee’s restaurant in Michigan City.


The cards were used to insert funds into the accounts of inmates, who were then bonded out and traded much of the money in their accounts to the restaurant employees in exchange for bail.


La Porte County Police Chief of Detectives Andy Hynek said the Fugitive Apprehension Street Team is in the process of trying to locate the woman. Nine other suspects, including most of the bonded-out inmates, have been arrested and now face Fraud charges, among others.


Hynek said Scott is an acquaintance of at least one of the Hardee’s employees.


“I’m not sure how deep their friendship was,” he said.


According to court documents, Kristin Vanschoyck, 35, Darrien Ward, 20, and Prince Arnold, 21, were employed at Hardee's in Michigan City.


In August and September, Vanschoyck allegedly photographed and videotaped the numbers of credit/debit cards from drive-thru customers at the restaurant on 5223 Franklin Street. She then gave the numbers to Ward and Arnold, who used them to purchase clothing online and place anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 into the jail accounts of several inmates.


The accounts are for inmates to purchase food and other items from the commissary.


Scott is accused of showing up at the jail and posting bonds for the inmates in cash.


Before being released, Hynek said each inmate was issued a debit card to use on the outside for tapping into the money from their jail accounts, which is standard procedure for all offenders making bail. Right away, the inmates were taken to an ATM to use the cards for withdrawals from their jail accounts as part of their cut for taking part in the scheme. The inmates then gave the cards to the Hardee's employees, who used them to tap into the funds still left in their jail accounts.


“So, basically, they laundered money through the jail system. They put fraudulent money in and got clean money out,” Hynek said.


Police said the victims are in the process of having their banks return the funds to their respective accounts. 

Salvation Army Gearing Up for Holidays

(Michigan City, IN) - The Salvation Army in Michigan City is preparing for its annual Christmas fund raising drive.


The kick-off to the campaign is scheduled for November 1st at the McDonald's on 3507 Franklin Street from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m.  The public is welcome to join in on the festivities, including a short program at 8 a.m.


The theme of this year’s fundraising drive is “Love Beyond Christmas.”


“This Christmas and throughout the year we believe in loving beyond inflation, evictions, hunger, poverty, and other crises that affect residents here in Michigan City,” said Major Becky Simmons.


She and her husband, Major Dale Simmons, oversee the Salvation Army branch in Michigan City, which provided holiday assistance to more than 600 families last year.


Simmons said she expects that number to be higher this year because of inflation in the post-pandemic economy.


“Over the past year, the number of households seeking assistance has continued to increase due to the rising costs of groceries, rent and utilities,” she said.


The goal of the Christmas campaign this year is to raise $230,000.

Mixed Verdicts in Fatal Shooting

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man has been found not guilty of murder. However, a La Porte Superior Court 1 jury has convicted him of Aggravated battery and Dangerous Possession of a Firearm in this case.


Hakim Qualls, 20, stood trial last week on the allegation that he had fatally shot 18-year-old Dareon Brown nearly five years ago, when he was 16.


Qualls saw Brown standing outside of a vehicle and shot him in the 200 block of North Karwick Road on the city’s east side, before being taken into custody following a lengthy search involving tracking dogs in a heavily wooded area surrounding Trail Creek.


The defense, citing factors such as bad blood between Qualls and Brown, claimed the incident was a matter of self-defense.


It took this long to try him on the allegations because of a mistrial declared in the original trial, COVID-19-related delays in the court proceedings and Qualls going into hiding for a period of time.

Fisherman Attacked on Trail Creek

(La Porte County, IN) - Investigators are trying to find out who attacked a fisherman in La Porte County on Sunday.


Conservation officers said three individuals were involved in the attack on Trail Creek just east of Michigan City, with the fisherman suffering minor injuries as a result.


According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, two men and a woman fled in a white 2015 Dodge Ram pick-up with a black tailgate. They were last heading eastbound on U.S. 20.


Anyone with information is asked to contact police.


Further details were not provided.

New Prairie Sputters in Loss to Penn

(New Carlisle, IN) - New Prairie hosted NIC rival Penn at Amzie Miller Field Friday night with the conference championship on the line. The Cougars’ defense showed up, but the offense did not. New Prairie laid a goose egg, falling 22-0.


Highlights were few and far between. New Prairie mustered only two first downs and was held to nine yards of total offense. Senior quarterback Marshall Kmiecik completed two passes for 15 yards, and registered -41 yards rushing. Aside from sophomore Reed Robinson’s 34 yards on the ground, the only forward progress for the Cougars came from Kmiecik’s seven punts.


A heavy afternoon rain left the playing field a little messy just prior to game time, but Coach Casey McKim said it wasn’t the weather or any trickery by Penn that stymied the Cougars, just poor execution. “Game-plan-wise they really didn’t do anything that surprised us. It was all stuff that we were prepping for," McKim said after the game. “It was just our ability to execute up front. Their speed and size gave us some major problems, and we just weren’t able to execute at the level that we needed to.”


New Prairie’s stubborn defense gave the Cougars a fighting chance, giving up only 15 first-quarter points. (New Prairie’s offense handed Penn another score in the fourth quarter by fumbling in their own end zone.)


Three Cougar defenders had more tackles than the offense had yards: 14 for Harrison Groves, 12 for Hayden Scott, and 10 for Trenton Klute. Klute also recovered a fumble knocked loose by Groves. Despite being on the field for most of the game and giving up nearly 300 total yards, New Prairie’s defense held strong and turned back the Kingsmen on four different fourth down attempts.


New Prairie (6-2 overall, 3-1 in The NIC) looks to bounce back in their final regular season game next Friday at Elkhart (3-5).

DCS Found in Contempt in Judah Morgan Case

(Hendricks County, IN) - A judge has found the Indiana Department of Child Services in civil contempt for not producing adequate documentation regarding Judah Morgan.


After being returned to the custody of his biological parents, 4-year-old Judah was neglected and abused in his Union Township home. Following his tragic death in 2021, Judah’s foster family brought legal action against DCS, requesting that all documentation regarding the Morgans be released. DCS, however, labeled the information “confidential.” Officials initially released 122 documents and allegedly attempted to extend the deadline for releasing the rest until the statute of limitations had passed.


On Thursday a Hendricks County Superior Court judge agreed that DCS was in contempt of a court order for moving too slowly in providing the tens of thousands of documents pertaining to Judah. The ruling does not suggest that DCS contributed to Judah’s tragedy—only that it hindered the subsequent investigation. However, the court order does suggest that state authorities had been notified via email of Judah’s situation months before his death.


DCS now has until October 19th to turn over all documentation related to Judah.

Wills Township Considering Fire Protection Change

(La Porte County, IN) - Residents of Wills Township are weighing their options for fire protection services.


Wills Township includes about 800 households reaching from just north of New Prairie High School down to about a mile north of Mill Creek, and from the east side of Rolling Prairie to the county line.


On the table is a new partnership with the New Carlisle Fire Territory, instead of continuing service with the Kankakee Township Volunteer Fire Department in Rolling Prairie.


At a New Carlisle Fire Territory Board meeting last month, stakeholders discussed the possibility of taking on Wills Township. According to published minutes, Wills Trustee Kristi Chadderdon approached New Carlisle about the idea and has contracted with Baker Tilley to review the financial implications.


Wills Township may seek coverage from New Carlisle for next year if they cannot reach an agreement with Kankakee Township on their expiring contract. Kankakee is requesting a 50% service fee increase, from $40,000 to $60,000. According to Chief Chip Winters, the rate has not increased in over 20 years, despite inflation and rising costs.


New Carlisle is willing to match that amount, at least for one year. A legal process and new financial terms would have to be worked through for the township to join the fire territory. New Carlisle Fire Chief Josh Schweizer said his department, which employs 15 full-time firefighters and three volunteers, can provide the same, if not better, response time. Wills Township currently draws about 150 calls for emergency service per year. A La Porte County EMS base was just recently added to the area.


A public meeting will take place Monday, October 9th at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the situation. It will be held at the Wills Township Community Center, which is at the corner of 350 North and 700 East.

Upcoming Area Food Giveaways Scheduled

(La Porte County, IN) - The Food Bank of Northern Indiana will be making a few stops in the area this month with drive-through food distributions:


Kingsford Heights - Wednesday, October 11th

9 - 11 a.m. at the Kingsford Heights Community Center


Michigan City - Wednesday, October 18th

10 a.m. – Noon at the Marquette Mall


Walkerton - Thursday, October 19th

9 a.m. – 11 a.m. at Walkerton’s Koontz Lake Missionary Church


As usual, the food distributions are first come, first served.

Belle Gunness Featured in Program

(La Porte, IN) - A well-known serial killer from the past in La Porte will be the focus of an upcoming event, as The La Porte County Historical Society Museum is hosting "Belle Gunness: The History of the Mystery" on October 21st.


According to museum officials, the event starts with a showing of 'The Gunness Mystery' documentary beginning at 11 a.m.


At noon, a downtown historic walk will begin, allowing participants access to viewing spots in La Porte that Belle frequented.  Participants will start at the museum and receive a booklet with explanations of each of the locations to visit.


At 2 p.m., retired Judge William Boklund will give his program, "Stories from the Gunness Mystery."


The cost of this event is the regular admission fee for the Museum, which is $5 for adults, and $4 for people 60 and over. Admission is free for children ages 18 and under.


“Caution as this event may not be suitable for younger children,” museum officials noted.


Legend has it that Gunness invited a countless number of men to her home more than a century ago, murdering them on her property. It’s believed she died in a fire at her home, but speculators believe the fire was a cover-up for her to relocate to California.

Jail Money Theft Laundering Scheme

(La Porte County, IN) - Some workers at a fast food restaurant were stealing credit/debit card numbers from customers and using the La Porte County Jail as part of their fraudulent money-laundering and generation scheme.


Kristin Vanschoyck, 35, Darrien Ward, 20, and Prince Arnold, 21, have been charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Level 5 Felony Fraud on a Financial Institution and Level 6 Felony Criminal Organization Activity.


They were employed at the Hardee's restaurant at 5223 Franklin Street in Michigan City where, in August and September, Vanschoyck allegedly photographed and videotaped the numbers of credit/debit cards from drive-thru customers.


She then gave the numbers to Ward and Arnold, who used them to purchase clothing online and place anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 into the jail accounts of several inmates, according to court documents. 


La Porte County Police Chief of Detectives Andy Hynek said the internet was also used to place money into the jail accounts inmates use to purchase food and other items from the commissary.  Another alleged conspirator in the crime, whose name has not been released, went to the jail and posted bond for the inmates in cash.


Before being released, Hynek said each inmate was issued a debit card to use on the outside for tapping into the money from their jail accounts, which is standard procedure for all offenders making bail.


Right away, the inmates were taken to an ATM to use the cards to withdraw money from their jail accounts as their cut for taking part in the scheme. The inmates then gave the cards to the employees from Hardee's, who then used them to tap into the funds still left in their jail accounts, court documents showed.


“So, basically, they laundered money through the jail system. They put fraudulent money in and got clean money out,” Hynek said.


Hynek said only inmates with low bond amounts were targeted to maximize profit margins. Aanother offender helped recruit inmates to take part in the alleged criminal activity


Hynek said he began looking into the allegations after the victims discovered the withdrawals on their balance statements and contacted their respective banks. The banks then notified the company that operates the jail inmate account system.


According to court records, the bonded-out inmates charged with Fraud and Criminal Organization activity were Moesla Payne, Lawrence Armstrong, Carissa Bealor, and Hollie Lachapell.


All of the individuals charged are from Michigan City, except for Lachapell and Bealor, who are from LaPorte.


Hynek said as much as $15,000 was stolen from all of the victims in the bond posting scheme. However, he said the victims are in the process of having the stolen funds placed back into their accounts by their banks. Two other inmates bonded out have not been charged yet, due to lack of proof they knowingly took part.


Changes in how the jail inmate account system is operated are being discussed, so as to prevent another such occurrence in the future.

Police Release Details of Motorcycle Crashes

(La Porte County, IN) - Details have been released regarding a collision involving a car and more than one motorcycle in Rolling Prairie last weekend.


According to the Sheriff’s Office, 65-year-old Marilyn Jones veered across the center line in her car and struck an oncoming motorcycle on U.S. 20 and 400 East.


The motorcyclist, 43-year-old Brent Kline, was taken via helicopter to a Chicago hospital. Another bike rider, 39-year-old Ty Taverner, wiped out from turning sharply to avoid the car.


Jones and her 61-year-old husband, Anthony, were not injured.


Kline’s injuries included fractures to both legs. Information could not be obtained on the other injuries he sustained.


The injured motorcyclists were part of a group all riding together.


Police say there was no alcohol in the driver's system that caused the accident, which shut down U.S. 20 for an extended period Saturday evening.

Mail Theft Charges Against Postal Carrier

(La Porte, IN) - A postal carrier from La Porte has been accused of throwing away hundreds of pieces of mail instead of delivering them.


Megan Blake stands charged in La Porte Circuit Court with Official Misconduct and Theft, both Level 6 Felonies.


According to court documents, Blake started with the U.S. Postal Service at the La Porte branch in February. A few months later, she became the primary carrier on a route where hundreds of pieces of mail wound up in a dumpster on separate days. Both discoveries were made by a woman looking in her dumpster in late May and early June.


La Porte County Police said the discarded mail consisted of advertisements from a furniture company, as well as two other businesses, intended for delivery to various addresses.


When questioned, Blake denied throwing away mail. However, a GPS device allegedly placed her at the dumpster where mail was discovered on both occasions.


Blake, who has since been fired from her job, could face as much as 30 months in prison on each count.

Assurance on Future of PNW Campus near Westville

(La Porte, IN) - Officials at Purdue University Northwest insist there are no plans to close its campus near Westville. Instead, they’re investing in the campus and thinking of ways to reverse declining enrollment during a period of lower birth rates and high school graduates moving on to college.


That was the picture drawn by administrators during a Wednesday presentation before the La Porte County Commissioners. Commission President Connie Gramarossa thanked the administrators from the main Hammond campus for their assurances.


“I hope this really closes a lot of those rumors and I’m glad you’re looking at different opportunities and different ways of keeping the campus open,” she said.


PNW Chancellor Tom Keon said declining birth rates and fewer high school graduates attending college nationwide in recent years have been posing a challenge at many institutions of higher education. A trend of lower birth rates, which began in 2017, is not projected to get better anytime soon. In fact, Keon said, the forecast shows an even sharper decline in births nationwide beginning in 2026, with no flattening of the curve until 2036.


“There’s going to be a very steep decline in young people over the next 18 years,” he said.


One thing working in favor of the Westville-adjacent campus is that the birth rate in La Porte County is projected to decline by slightly more than two percent over the next 13 years. In comparison, Keon said that the birth rates over the same period are forecasted to drop by about 16 percent in both Lake and Porter counties.


However, the current number of students going on to college from high school in Michigan City, LaPorte, and Westville ranges from 54 to 40 percent.


Typically, Keon said, the percentages at other feeder schools in Lake and Porter counties are above 60 percent, with the highest being more than 80 percent in Munster.


“A lot of those are down 10 percent since 2015,” he said.


Enrollment at the Westville area campus has also been impacted by changes by the state legislature over the past decade or so that eliminated associate degree programs at public institutions and transferred them to Ivy Tech, per PNW Provost and Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Kenneth “Chris” Holford.


The campus along U.S. 421 was built on associate’s degree programs in areas like nursing and technology but now offers seven four-year degree programs.


In addition, Holford said that the campus near Westville has lost students from the Indiana Department of Correction switching from universities to community colleges on who provides higher education courses to offenders. The campus used to serve inmates from Westville Correctional Facility and Indiana State Prison.


Despite the challenges, Holford said, substantial investments have been made at facilities at the Westville area campus in areas like classrooms and labs.


Adjustments in student offerings and how they’re delivered are also under review, responding to a five-year analysis of the courses provided at the campus. 


Holford said the mission is still to provide the best educational experience possible at the campus while adapting to the changing times. He said one of the keys to stabilizing enrollment is better informing high school graduates about the option of completing their first two years of general studies at Westville, before advancing to the PNW campus at Hammond.


The campus in Hammond has 70 four-year degree programs.


“If we were interested in closing the campus down, we wouldn’t be looking for those types of opportunities,” Holford said.

Door Opens for Dog Splash Pad

(La Porte County, IN) - A local animal shelter could soon feature an outdoor splash pad for dogs.


Bethany Lutheran Church is offering to raise the money and have it built at the Jane Bernard Animal Adoption Center near the fairgrounds.


Church member Carrie Garwood said a splash pad for dogs open to the public would be great for the community, asking the La Porte County Commissioners for written permissions to begin the project.


Garwood said the church would raise $50,000 and secure a matching grant to cover the entire cost.


“We can pursue the project and give whatever is left over after the thing is built back to the shelter to help fund it going into the future,” she said.


Garwood said the hope is to begin raising funds in December and have enough money to construct it before March.  She said the drive should be successful judging from other fundraising drives sponsored by the church.


“It has not been a problem in the past with some other campaigns we’ve done,” she said.


The commissioners voted to start the process of approving the land use.


“I think it’s a great idea.  It would be a great people thing.   A quality of life thing not only for the dogs, but for the people who own dogs,” said Commissioner Rich Mrozinski.   


Final approval will be up to the county council since there could be some future taxpayer costs for maintenance.

Fentanyl Dealer Uncovered in Traffic Stop

(La Porte County, IN) - Police stopped a vehicle for a bad headlight and wound up making a good-sized drug bust in the Michigan City area.


Twanyae Johnson is being held in the La Porte County Jail on a $50,000 bond.


Early Monday, police said the bad headlight was spotted while Johnson was traveling U.S. 12 at Karwick Road.


22 grams of marijuana and over 30 grams of psychedelic mushrooms were found in his vehicle after the officer making the traffic stop detected the smell of marijuana.


Johnson was taken to the La Porte County Jail where he allegedly removed a plastic bag containing 27 grams of fentanyl from a body cavity. Johnson revealed he sells the rectangular-shaped fentanyl pills “for a couple of bucks each.”


According to court documents, the 22-year-old from Benton Harbor, Michigan was on probation at the time for selling fentanyl.

Alleged Rapist Fails in Latest Attempt

(Michigan City, IN) - An accused violent sex offender from Michigan City is allegedly at it again.


Thurmon DeVault, 48, has been charged with sexual battery.


This past Friday, police said, he met a woman at a Walmart in Michigan City and claimed he needed a place to stay. The woman took him to her house, where a room was available. While they were at her house, he allegedly ripped off her shirt and began touching her before the woman started fighting back.  She broke free from his grasp and ran outside where she used her cell phone to call the police.


According to court records, DeVault is no stranger to the criminal justice system. He has a Rape charge from two years ago still on his record, and a Battery Against a Police Officer charge still undecided by the court.  His prior history also includes admitting to a Sexual Battery charge in the late 90’s. 


DeVault was out on a reduced bond during his latest arrest.

Raiders Upset in Low-Scoring Game

(New Buffalo, MI) - The Red Arrow Raiders fell 4-2 in a game dominated by defense on Friday, September 29th.


The Raiders, consisting of players from both New Buffalo and River Valley high schools, lost on the road to the Twin City Sharks 18-8.


The offensive struggles for the Raiders came as a surprise, considering the team scored 252 points combined in their previous efforts.


However, the troubles moving the ball could be explained, at least partially, via losing quarterback Ethan Lijewski midway through the second quarter due to a pulled groin muscle. Lijewski completed just one pass out of five attempts for three yards prior to leaving the game.


His replacement, Ryder Wolnik, had just five yards passing on one completed pass out of ten attempts.


The Sharks also stopped the Raiders’ potent running attack by holding Lijewski to just 41 yards on nine carries. It took 14 carries for Wolnik to pick up 60 yards on the ground, while Owen Slavens and M’Nason Smothers combined for 136 yards on 23 carries.


It was the first game back for Wolnik following a knee injury that left him out of play for four weeks.


The only touchdown for the Raiders came from an 80-yard drive early in the third quarter to pull to within 12-8.


Scores for the teams stagnated until the Stars, with 19 seconds left on the clock, scored from a long gain on a rushing play.


Head Coach Matt Johnson said he felt the offense should have scored more points, but had trouble multiple times putting the ball into the end zone once inside the 20-yard line of the Sharks.


“We had some more red zone opportunities but couldn't capitalize.  Credit to Twin City for a good game plan and playing with a sense of urgency,” he said.


Johnson blamed the loss on giving up big plays from missed tackles and blown pass coverage, along with confusion on offense by the different looks the Stars presented on defense.


On defense, the Stars were able to commit more players to stop the run after Lijewski and his talented passing arm left the game.  


“We just had mental breakdowns on two plays.  That’s how they got their 12 points. We just didn’t play a good game all around,” he said.


Wolnik led the defense with seven tackles, four of which resulted in yardage loss. Payton Lijewski had six tackles while David Nicely had five tackles, including one for lost yardage.


Wolnik and Nicely each had one sack, while Jordan Serrano had an interception.


The Twin City Stars, composed of players from Our Lady of the Lake, Michigan Lutheran, and Countryside Academy, were limited to 112 yards passing from four completions on 18 attempts along with 175 yards rushing on 24 carries.

Trains to Start Rolling on Part of Double Track

(Michigan City, IN) - The South Shore commuter line is preparing to resume running trains between its Michigan City and Dune Park stations later this month.


For over a year now, passengers have been bused between the two locations due to the construction of a double track assured to be "practically done" per former Indiana State Senator and current member of the board overseeing the work, Jim Arnold of LaPorte


He said trial runs of trains on that stretch of new double track have been ongoing, with October 16th as the target date for service to resume between Michigan City and Dune Park.


“They are still conducting and finishing up the testing, and everything seems to be right on time,” he said.


Arnold said double track construction is still ongoing between Dune Park and Gary, but that leg should be finished before the end of the year, with trains potentially running on the double track from Michigan City to Gary in May.


The double track is projected to reduce the time of a one-way trip from Michigan City to Chicago by more than 30 minutes.


Experts believe quicker travel by rail will entice more people from the Chicago area to visit and live in Michigan City, a major incentive for high rises that will soon start being constructed near the lakefront. 

Local Student Nationally Recognized

(La Porte County, IN) - A New Prairie High School student has earned high recognition for their academic work.


James Henning has been named one of the Commended Students in the 2024 National Merit Scholarship Program.


A Letter of Commendation from the school and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), which conducts the program, will be presented by Principal Justin Heinold to this scholastically talented senior.

About 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise.


"We are extremely proud of what James has accomplished.  His effort and talent are a positive representation of NPHS, and we are excited to see how far James goes in his life and career!" Heinold said.

Truce Reached in Bitter Political War

(La Porte County, IN) - The political infighting that's run rampant in La Porte County government for almost three years now could be nearing its end.


Today, the La Porte County Commissioners unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding with La Porte County Auditor Tim Stabosz, who in turn signed the agreement.


Under the MOU, Stabosz agrees to pay the amount of money still owed to former county attorney Shaw Friedman, as well as for future legal work he performs for county government as an outside contractor in no less than 30 days.


Stabosz can take longer than 30 days to pay, but only under certain conditions.


La Porte County Attorney Scott Pejic said the agreement is non-binding, but expressed hope Stabosz will live up to the terms.


“I’m optimistic going forward that this will solve a lot of issues with this one vendor,” he said.


Friedman has been given legal work to perform for county government as an outside contractor since being ousted as county attorney in early January.  


La Porte County Commissioner Rich Mrozinski alleged Stabosz agreed to the terms out of fear that the commissioners might take legal action requesting his early removal from office.


Stabosz denied feeling intimidated to agree to the MOU, citing a prior failed attempt to seek his early removal.


Mrozinski said he also wouldn’t be surprised if Stabosz violates the terms of the MOU, judging by his previously confrontational behavior.


Commission President Connie Gramarossa also said she doesn’t trust Stabosz to live up to his bargain outlined in the MOU, but warned him the commissioners will go after him “twofold” if he fails to live up to the terms.

She expressed concerns that Stabosz might be late in paying other contractors, claiming that a few attorneys and a construction firm are still waiting for their late payments.


Gramarossa questioned, “Are we going to have to go into an MOU with every single vendor that he does not pay?”


Pejic said he will do everything he can for that not to happen.


Gramarossa then directed more heated words toward Stabosz as he began interrupting her while she was speaking, leading to a verbal exchange between the two officials. 


“Excuse me. I am trying to run a meeting here.  Mr. Secretary, please,” she said.


“Mr. Auditor,” he said.


“You are a secretary here.  You are here in the capacity as our secretary,” she said.


“Thank You for the lecture, Ma'am,” he said.


Pejic urged the commissioners to enter into the agreement with Stabosz to try and put an end to the extreme political fighting that has overshadowed the positive work of the organization.


“I think the county would be of great benefit, including all of ourselves and our mental health, that we can move forward and just concentrate on the good work that we do and let the public know the good work that all of us do individually and together,” he said.  


The MOU does not request Stabosz to pay Friedman for money tied to work Stabosz claims was performed outside the scope of his former duties as county attorney. That's because the roughly $10,000 owed is tied up in a still undecided lawsuit filed by Friedman, who alleges payment is being withheld by Stabosz because of his personal and political dislike for him.


Stabosz revealed a settlement is a possibility in that legal action.

Mayor Hosting Reelection Rally

(La Porte, IN) - La Porte Mayor Tom Dermody will be holding a reelection rally next week.


Dermody, a Republican, is seeking a second term against Democratic candidate Ron Zimmer in the November 7th election.


The rally is scheduled for October 12th  at the Silver Palace from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. There will also be an announcement, potentially by Dermody, at 6:15 p.m. It will be free to attend. However, people can become sponsors with campaign donations from $500 up to $5,000.


Checks can be made payable to Committee to Elect Tom Dermody; P.O. Box 771, La Porte IN 46352.


People are asked to make a reservation in advance at dermodyforlaporte@gmail.com.


Dermody is seeking a second term as mayor, having previously been a state representative for 10 years and a member of the La Porte School Board. 

Sex with Student Charges Against Teacher

(Valparaiso, IN) - A now-former English teacher at Chesterton High School has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a former student.


Dakota McCoy, 31, of Valparaiso has been charged with Child Seduction and Obstruction of Justice and has also reportedly been fired from his position in the Duneland School Corporation.


According to authorities, the female victim alleges she was 16 or 17 when she began having sex with McCoy, whom she accused of providing alcohol and cigarettes to students while hanging out with them. The former student claimed she and McCoy had sex as many as 50 times in his car or at his mother's house until the end of her senior year.


She also told police she began getting confused over right from wrong when he started giving her rides home and messaging her.

La Porte Makes Hiring History

(La Porte, IN) - History has been made today in the City of La Porte as Mayor Tom Dermody and the Board of Public Works & Safety announced the hiring of the city’s first-ever IT Director: Roscoe Hoffman.


According to the Mayor’s Office, Hoffman has 12 years of IT experience, mostly recently with La Porte County E-911 and the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office. Previously, he had worked at Dunebrook as both a Family Support Manager and IT Manager.


Mayor Tom Dermody said Hoffman’s focus will be to improve efficiencies among departments and bolster the city’s cybersecurity against potential hazards.


“Roscoe will be a fantastic addition to our City of La Porte leadership team. In this ever-changing world, it is critical that we do all we can to protect our employees' and residents’ information against bad actors. We are thrilled to add this staff position and ecstatic to have Roscoe be the one to fill it,” he said.


Hoffman earned a Bachelor’s degree in Communications from Purdue Northwest. He also has additional training and certifications in Fortigate and Cisco hardware, in addition to Caliber CAD and RM training for First Responder software.


He and his wife Adele reside in La Porte County with their four children.

Motorcyclist Wipes Out Avoiding Deer

(La Porte County, IN) - A motorcycle driver was injured after wiping out to avoid a deer between La Porte and Michigan City on Sunday afternoon.


Anthony Ritchie, 18, was on 400 West and accelerating when a deer ran out in front of him. Swerving and missing the deer, he and his 2003 Kawasaki motorcycle wound up sliding on the pavement.


Police said Ritchie wound up with a hole in his forearm and stitches in his right leg, in addition to gouging and long scrape marks left on the pavement from the motorcycle.


Damage to Ritchie's bike included scraped paint, a cracked exhaust, and a broken front shock. The damage was estimated at $3,000.

Officers in Daring Suicide Rescue Recognized

(La Porte, IN) - Two La Porte Police Officers have been recognized for saving the life of a young woman who tried jumping from the U.S. 35 overpass.


Ryan Helmecy and Taylor Atkinson were given awards for their life-saving efforts during last night’s La Porte City Council meeting. Likewise, Adam Jaskowiak and Justin Dyer were commended for assisting with the situation.


On August 28th, a bystander on the bridge roughly 30 feet above the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks was close to the woman, begging her not to jump. The woman was at the top of a chain link security fence erected along the edge of a sidewalk on the overpass a few years ago.


She was beginning to make her way down the other side of the fence when Helmecy, the first emergency responder to arrive, rushed over, jumped on top of the fence, and grabbed the crying woman by the arm until she let go.


With nothing but the ground below her feet, Police Chief Paul Brettin said Helmecy held on to her until Officer Atkinson climbed to the other side of the fence and grabbed the woman by the arm.


Atkinson kept a tight grip on her for several minutes, until being rescued via the bucket on a fire truck below the overpass. Atkinson then climbed back over the fence to the pavement.  


Jaskowiak called the actions of the two officers “probably one of the most heroic” in his 12 years of public service.


“They completely put their well-being aside to go over that fence and hang on,” he said.


“She was begging them to let go. They would not do that,” Brettin said.


The woman was taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation to begin the process of recovery.


Brettin said he’s since nicknamed Atkinson “Spider-Man," after the comic book superhero's ability to stick to and climb walls.


Historically, Brettin said, people have occasionally jumped or threatened to jump from the overpass, but not since the security fence was installed.


“I was quite surprised when they called me and told me that this occurred,” he said.

Wife Charged in Hit and Run Death

(Michigan City, IN) - A Michigan City man is dead after being struck by a car driven by his wife.


At about 3 p.m. yesterday, emergency responders were called to the Tall Timbers apartment complex near State Road 212 on the city’s far east side.


Kyle Suarez, 24, was found unresponsive and later died after being taken to a hospital for medical attention.


The investigation shows Suarez was involved in an altercation in the parking lot of the housing complex, where his spouse, 34-year-old Miranda Eggleston Suarez, wanted to leave and while doing so drove into her husband before hitting a pick-up truck and fleeing the scene. She later returned, only to be taken into custody.


Right now, she’s charged with Leaving the Scene of an Accident Causing Death, a Level 4 felony that carries a potential two-to-12-year sentence.


Additional charges are possible, dependent on the findings of the still-ongoing investigation.

Emergency Test Set for Wednesday

(Washington D.C.) - FEMA, in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission, will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System and Wireless Emergency Alerts this fall.


The national event, consisting of testing WEA and EAS capabilities, is scheduled to begin at about 2:20 p.m. ET on Wednesday.


The WEA portion of the test will be directed to all consumer cell phones, making this the third nationwide test, but only the second test for all cellular devices. The test message will display in either English or Spanish, depending on one's language settings.


The EAS portion of the test will be sent to radio and television stations and will be the seventh nationwide EAS test.


FEMA and the FCC are coordinating with EAS participants, wireless providers, emergency managers, and other stakeholders in preparation for this national test to minimize confusion and maximize the public safety value of the test.


According to FEMA officials, the purpose of the Wednesday test is to ensure that their systems continue to be effective means of warning the public about emergencies, particularly those on a national level.


For consumers, the message that appears on their phones will read: “THIS IS A TEST of the National Wireless Emergency Alert System. No action is needed.”


That’s similar to the regular monthly EAS test messages that state “This is a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This is only a test.  No action is required by the public.”

Water Line Flushing Coming Up

(La Porte, IN) - Water Department workers in La Porte will begin flushing the system in two weeks.


Beginning October 15th, crews will be flushing out fire hydrants throughout the community every Sunday through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.


Water Department Superintendent Tim Werner said the flushing, which happens twice annually, will run for three to four weeks. He said the process is a critical part of maintaining the city’s water quality and infrastructure. 


“Twice a year, our crews spend several weeks working through the night to help ensure the integrity of our water system for decades to come,” he said.


Flushing can produce discolored or rusty water in some areas but the water is safe to drink.  However, Werner noted, discolored water in washing machines may stain clothing.


Residents should check their water before doing laundry and not dry materials if there’s staining.  Instead, they should contact the Water Department for free rust-removing solutions.


“While we know that this process can be an inconvenience, it’s a very necessary part of our system maintenance.  We appreciate everyone’s patience,” he said.


Anyone with questions is urged to contact the Water Department at 219-326-9540.

La Porte Area Chase Ends in Porter County

(La Porte, IN) - A seat belt violation led to a high speed chase from near Springville into Porter County.


La Porte County Police said it was about 10 a.m. Sunday when the officer stopped the vehicle for a seat belt violation.


A computer check revealed the driver had a suspended license.


At one point, police said the driver put the vehicle back into gear and stepped on the gas pedal westbound on Interstate 94.


The SUV was chased into Porter County where it ended when stop sticks flattened the tires on the vehicle near Burns Harbor, police said.


Mareon Williams, 32, of Chicago was arrested for resisting law enforcement and allegedly having about a quarter ounce of marijuana in the vehicle.


Police said he was also cited for allegedly not wearing a seat belt and driving on a suspended license.

LPHS Marching Band Advances to State Finals

(La Porte, IN) - The La Porte High School Marching Band has made it to the state finals, having qualified during the Indiana State School Music Association scholastic class preliminary competition this past Saturday in Plymouth.


Mayor Tom Dermody greeted members of the band Saturday afternoon after they returned. stepping off the bus in the high school parking lot.


“The city is proud of you. Go LP,” he said.


The mayor’s brief pep talk drew loud applause from the marching band members.


According to school officials, the band achieved a gold rating during the preliminary competition.


The ISSMA marching band finals will be October 28th at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Man Taken by Helicopter from Golf Cart Accident

(La Porte County, IN) - A man driving a golf cart was taken by helicopter with injuries sustained in a La Porte County accident.


At 6 p.m. on Saturday, emergency responders were called to the 3200 block of East County Road 875 South in Union Township.


The investigation shows that 59-year-old Tony Lovins was westbound on 875 South when he ran off the roadway before returning to the pavement and rolling. The bucket seats in the golf cart were lying next to the machine after it came to rest in the opposite lane.


According to police, Lovins could not recall what happened.  However, a nearby resident heard a loud acceleration before stepping out of his garage to see the golf cart roll.


Lovins was airlifted to Memorial Hospital in South Bend with a bloody bandage on his head and blood on his clothing. It only appears Lovins had been drinking coffee at the time of the incident.

New Prairie Breaks Records and Riley's Winning Streak

(New Carlisle, IN) - New Prairie quarterback Marshall Kmiecik couldn’t have scripted a better Friday night. The senior led his team over undefeated South Bend Riley, broke a school passing record, and was named Homecoming King.


But the opening seconds were dicey. It took Riley less than a minute to jump out to a lead. A 72-yard bomb on their first play from scrimmage was followed by a 2-yard plunge into the end zone.


New Prairie fired back with a 56-yard touchdown throw from Kmiecik to senior wideout Reece Lapczynski on a 3rd-and-27 play.


Two holding penalties killed the next Riley drive, and the Wildcats’ offense sputtered from there. Near the end of the first quarter, Kmiecik found junior tight end Isaac Fronk for a 23-yard score. The two teams traded possessions, until a 67-yard Lapczynski touchdown reception put the Cougars up 20-6. A promising Riley drive at the end of the first half was thwarted by an interception by junior defensive back Hayden Scott.


Riley nearly rekindled their mojo in the second half, with a long pass play followed by a short touchdown run. But New Prairie’s backfield, which has been work in progress this season, rose to the challenge. “They’ve come a long way,” said head coach Casey McKim afer the game. “I really felt good about the way our DBs played, especially on the outside. There was a lot of deep balls thrown up, and we were in dominant position multiple times.”


On the first play of the fourth quarter, Kmiecik found Fronk again for a 55-yard touchdown. Senior two-way player Brock Sinka picked off a pass, and a Kmiecik rushing touchdown from the one with 3:34 remaining put the game on ice. The Cougars handed Riley their first loss, 35-12.


New Prairie’s passing game seems to have found its stride, and Friday night it ripped Riley’s vaunted defense for one big play after another. “I have a lot of respect for that defense,” McKim said. “They took away our strength; that’s what good defenses do. They took away the run game, which is really hard to do against us. We took advantage of it with some explosive plays in the passing game.”


Kmiecik’s 306 passing yards on 9 of 17 attempts set a school record. Lapczynski hauled in 155 of those yards, also a school record. Fronk accounted for 140 yards on three catches. Kmiecik also led the team in rushing, with 60 yards on the ground. (And don’t forget the Homecoming crown.)


According to McKim, Kmiecik has taken his game to another level. “Just unbelievable,” McKim said of his signal-caller. “He has multiple ways to beat you-- his calm under pressure, his skill set is unmatched at this level. He can beat you with his legs, he was some of our best running tonight. His ability to extend the plays, to get the ball out quickly, to get through his reads and to find that open guy, and then extend plays and get guys open that weren’t initially open is unrivaled.”


New Prairie’s defense registered two interceptions. Senior Aidan Zeiglar led the Cougars with eight tackles. Senior Trenton Klute had a sack.


The Cougars now brace themselves to face giants Penn and Elkhart in back-to-back games. Their final home game of the season is next Friday.

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