A message from Swanson Center
Timely access to services has historically been one of the greatest hurdles of those seeking treatment for mental and behavioral health issues. During the COVID-19 pandemic, timely access has become even more important, as anxiety and stress levels begin to rise due to the uncertainty surrounding us all. As a part of their commitment to LaPorte County, Swanson Center has created a process to help remove these barriers. The Open Access Center is designed to meet the needs of people who are seeking treatment and helps them to take that first step in the (treatment) process.
The Open Access Center at Swanson Center allows anyone seeking treatment for mental and behavioral health issues to have the ability to walk in during the specified times at the designated locations and begin the registration process. Nichole Semala, MSW, LCSW, Open Access Coordinator, said, “The goal is to provide an intake for each patient on the same day that they begin this process, and to facilitate the process of the scheduling a follow-up appointment for services within the agency.”
The intake process requires approximately two (2) hours to complete for each patient, from beginning to end. After each patient has completed the required intake forms, they meet with a staff member to begin an orientation. Semala said that the orientation includes a bit more information gathering and completion of a registration process. The next step is to then meet with an Open Access Center Intake Therapist who provides an evaluation in order to help determine the patient’s level of need and a discussion of the services that would be recommend. For some, this evaluation may take place immediately, while for others, it may be scheduled for a later date and time. Scheduling for same-day services at the Open Access Center is done on a first come, first served basis. “As a precaution (due to COVID-19), we have added some temporary processes, such as video assessments with the therapist and other temporary telehealth measures,” said Semala
Semala provided some important information to note: Persons seeking to use the Open Access Center should bring their photo ID, proof of insurance (if applicable), proof of income, and/or proof of guardianship or power of attorney. “This will help to make the registration and orientation processes more efficient for both the patients and our staff.”, she noted.
While the Open Access Center is available in both the LaPorte and Michigan City offices of Swanson Center at specific times during normal business hours, they are operating on a limited schedule due to COVID-19. In LaPorte, this program is available on Wednesday, from 9:00am-4:00pm; and in Michigan City, Tuesday through Thursday, from 9:00am-4:00pm. Once the restrictions are lifted from the state and local officials, these hours will be expanded. Persons entering the Swanson Center buildings are also asked to wear a face mask.
An Indiana community mental health center, Swanson Center provides the full continuum of mental and behavioral health services to La Porte County residents, including psychiatric medicine, outpatient individual, group, and family therapies, substance use disorder treatment, community-based, as well as school-based case management, child and adolescent services, and group home and semi-independent living environments. Swanson Center, with over 100 employees, maintains fulltime offices in both Michigan City and La Porte.
For more information regarding the Open Access Center or other services provided by Swanson Center, please call 219-879-4621, or visit our website at www.swansoncenter.org.
Photo was taken by Jennifer Heath
Photo: “Nicole Semala, MSW, LCSW, Access Center Coordinator, interviews a new patient during an intake session at Swanson Center.”
Ground has been broken on a new 200,000 square-foot facility
New Jersey-based manufacturer GAF Materials Corp. is planning a new warehouse in LaPorte County. Ground has been broken for a 200,000-square-foot facility to house office and warehouse space in Michigan City’s Millennium Business Park. GAF already operates a shingle manufacturing plant in Michigan City. The new building will be built on a 45-acre site, with at least 23 acres for concrete storage by Dallas-based Mohr Capital. The new facility is expected to be complete by December and could create up to 50 new jobs.
Michigan City man arrested on weapons and drug charges
On Thursday, in Michigan City 46 year old Edward Lee Sanders was arrested on drug and weapons possession charges. Shortly after 5:00 p.m. on January 2nd, Officer Adam Brinkman was on duty patrol when he observed a Dodge Charger commit a traffic infraction. Officer Brinkman conducted a traffic stop on the Dodge in the 900 block of Wabash Street. Immediately after, Officer Brinkman was assisted by Officer Mike Oberle, and his K-9 partner Axel, along with Troopers from Indiana State Police. K9 Axel alerted for the presence of narcotics on the Dodge Charger. A search of the vehicle led to the discovery of a significant amount of illegal drugs, and a firearm. Detectives from the LaPorte County Drug Task Force were called in to assist in the investigation. Detectives discovered that Sanders was in possession of illegal narcotics which had a street value of over $17,000. Over the course of the investigation, Edward Lee Sanders was arrested on gun and drug charges related to this incident. Sanders was arrested on the charges of dealing in cocaine, dealing in heroin, possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon.Arrest Made In Armed Robbery Investigation
Going 95MPH on I-80/94 then FLIPS it
Saturday morning at approximately 1:51 a.m., Trooper William Stancy was working on I-80/94 near the 2 mile-marker. A vehicle was clocked traveling eastbound at 95 mph. The speed limit on the roadway is posted 55 mph. As Trp. Stancy activated his emergency lighting in order to perform a traffic stop on the vehicle, a black 2019 Infiniti Q50, the driver attempted to elude the officer and made abrupt lane changes, eventually taking the exit to Cline Ave. As the vehicle drove on the ramp, the driver lost control, resulting in the car leaving the roadway, rolling several times before coming to a rest. The driver, who was the only occupant, was ejected through the sunroof. Trp. Stancy took the driver into custody and immediately began to render first aid to the driver. The driver was transported to Northlake Methodist Hospital in Gary for treatment of minor injuries.
While at the scene of the crash, several articles were recovered from inside the vehicle including a stolen Glock 9mm handgun and 17 grams of individually packaged marijuana. Other items of value were also recovered that the rightful owners have yet to be determined as the investigation is ongoing. The vehicle was a rental car owned by Enterprise Leasing.
Upon being released from the hospital, the driver, identified as Varnell Lamont Dixon, 23 years of age from Chicago, IL, was transported to the Lake County Jail. Mr. Dixon is facing the following charges:
- Unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon- Level 4 Felony
- Felon carrying a handgun without a license and having previous conviction- Level 5 Felony
- Carrying handgun without a license and having previous conviction- Level 5 Felony
- Resisting law enforcement with a vehicle- Level 6 Felony
- Theft of firearm- Level 6 Felony
- Theft of property- Level 6 Felony
- Receiving unidentified property- Class A Misdemeanor
- Dealing marijuana- Class A Misdemeanor
- Possession of marijuana with prior conviction- Class A Misdemeanor
- Reckless driving results in injury- Class A Misdemeanor
- Operating a vehicle without ever receiving a license- Class C Misdemeanor
- Speeding- 95/55- Infraction
- Failure of occupant to use safety belt- Infraction
Assisting at the scene were: Gary Fire/EMS, Sgt. Dwayne Dillahunty, Trooper Khari Walton, Trooper Alaa Hamed and AC Towing.
*All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court*
CEO Of Paladin Departing
President and CEO of Paladin, Bill Trowbridge, announced recently that after seven years he will be stepping down from the charitable non-profit dedicated to serving children, seniors, and persons with developmental disabilities. He is slated to become CEO of Regional Health Systems based in Merrillville, Indiana, comprised of affiliated organizations including Regional Mental Health Center, Geminus Corporation, and Lake Park Residential Care.
Trowbridge is credited with Paladin’s growth from a small struggling developmental disability center in Michigan City to a comprehensive human services organization that serves thousands of clients and families throughout Northwest Indiana. A tireless proponent of partnerships and collaborations, Trowbridge’s enthusiasm drove the consolidation of organizations such as Michiana Resources, Parents & Friends, the LaPorte County Council on Aging, and the Child Care Consortium—all of which make up Paladin.
Trowbridge is particularly proud of the acquisition of the LaPorte County Council on Aging in 2014 and the acquiring of disability services in Lake County from a for-profit company in 2018. In both cases, the services were in jeopardy of closing down. By stepping-in, Paladin ensured a transportation system would continue for tens of thousands medically-necessary rides for the elderly in LaPorte County, and hundreds of persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities would have a day service program available in Lake County.
Although Trowbridge has been the face of Paladin for several years, he is confident he is leaving it in good hands.
Upon Trowbridge’s departure, Kimberly Latchford, currently Paladin’s Vice President for Participant Services, will serve as the interim President until a permanent replacement is found.
AK Smith Career Center Receives Significant Amount Of Equipment For Fire Science Program
The AK Smith Career Center, celebrated the donation of a significant amount of equipment to the Fire Science Program.The Michigan City Fire Department donated an old fire engine no longer able to be used by the dept.Other items donated include equipment for the engine, such as hose, nozzles, hand tools, axes, turnout gear, SCBA (Self Contained Breathing Apparatus), helmets, gloves, thermal imaging camera, Ventilation Fans and a multitude of small firefighting tools.Departments that have donated to the program :Michigan City FireLaPorte FireKankakee Twp. FireCoolspring Twp. FireLong Beach FireKingsbury Fire Dept.Springfield Twp FireLincoln Twp. FirePleasant Twp. FireCenter Twp. FireNew Carlisle Fire Dept.Scipio Twp. Fi
Update on U.S. 35 bridge in La Porte
Yesterday, Crews laid asphalt on the U.S. 35 southbound bridge approaches in downtown La Porte. This bridge deck replacement project continues with the goal of having the bridge reopened to full traffic by November.
La Porte County Symphony Orchestra Elect Two New Board of Directors
Two new regional leaders are being elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the La Porte County Symphony Orchestra (LCSO) Board of Directors. Susan Aaron , Chairman of Vision Financial Services, and Dr. Thomas Keon , Chancellor of Purdue University Northwest will join the board at its September 9th meeting. Aaron and Keon will both serve on the LCSO’s Engagement Committee.
Gov. Holcomb Announces Farmers in All 92 Counties Eligible to Receive Assistance
Governor Eric J. Holcomb today announced that Indiana farmers are eligible for assistance under a secretarial natural disaster designation by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
This was in response to a letter Gov. Holcomb sent to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue in July, requesting assistance due to the excessive rain and flooding farmers experienced during planting season.
“I am grateful that Secretary Perdue and his team recognized the hardships Hoosier farmers experienced this planting season,” Gov. Holcomb said. “As a result of this designation, farmers in all 92 counties are now eligible for assistance, and I encourage those impacted to work with their local Farm Service Agency office.”
Seventy-four counties were designated as primary natural disaster areas. USDA deferred its decision on the remaining 18 counties. However, since they border one or more of the primary disaster areas, they are considered contiguous disaster counties – allowing farm operators in those areas to be eligible for the same assistance.
Under a secretarial natural disaster designation, farm operators in primary and contiguous counties are eligible for assistance from the Farm Service Agency, provided certain requirements are met. This includes access to low-interest FSA emergency loans, which may be used to: restore or replace essential property, pay all or part of production costs associated with the disaster year, pay essential family living expenses, reorganize the farming operation, and refinance certain debts.
In order to qualify, farm operators must show at least a 30 percent loss in crop production or a physical loss to livestock, livestock products, real estate or chattel property. Farmers can borrow up to 100 percent of actual production or physical losses to a maximum amount of $500,000, according to USDA.
“This has been an unprecedented year for Indiana farmers,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development. “I applaud Governor Holcomb, the Indiana Farm Service Agency and our state department of agriculture for making this assistance available.”
In addition to emergency loans, farmers with existing FSA loans, who are unable to make their payments, may be eligible to have certain payments deferred. Farmers are encouraged to work with their local FSA office for assistance regarding payment forbearance or emergency disaster loans.
La Porte Police Department to Patrol for Drugged and Alcohol-Impaired Drivers
The La Porte Police Department is joining about 230 law-enforcement agencies across Indiana and thousands nationwide in the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over mobilization. From mid-August through Labor Day, police will be working overtime to arrest impaired drivers. Expect to see increased sobriety checkpoints, roving patrols and saturation patrols.
Overtime patrols are supported with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds distributed by the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI). To assist with traffic enforcement, ICJI recently provided Indiana police agencies with:
2,600 portable breath tests to evaluate alcohol impairment in drivers,
Duneland Chamber Hosting Annual State of the Chamber and Community Awards
The Duneland Chamber of Commerce will host their annual State of the Chamber & Community Awards Wednesday, July 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Sand Creek Country Club in Chesterton. The event will start with a lively welcome from AM 1420-WIMS’ Ric Federighi as the Master of Ceremonies. Immediately following are the Community Awards portion of the program. Many local organizations, businesses, and individuals are being awarded for their efforts in making the Duneland community a better place to live, work, and play. For more information about the Duneland Chamber of Commerce or upcoming events, or to RSVP please call the Chamber at 219-926-5513, or email
Office of the Attorney General prevails in federal jury trial
Department of Insurance Warns Damage from Fireworks May Not Be Covered by Insurance
May Indiana Employment Report
AK Smith Hosts “Career Camps” for Area Middle School Students
National Small Business Week Kicks off
Art Curator Roundtable Discussion at Lubeznik Center for the Arts
On Wednesday, May 8th, from 6 to 8 p.m., Lubeznik Center for the Arts (LCA) will present its 2nd Annual Curatorial Roundtable. A panel of established and emerging art curators will exchange ideas about the role of the curator in this public, moderated discussion. All are welcome to observe the roundtable discussion and explore LCA’s exhibitions.
Passengers 18 years of age and under ride FREE on all South Shore trains April 25 With a Fare-paying Adult
As part of “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” on Thursday, April 25, the South Shore Line invites up to three youth 18 years of age and under to ride for FREE on all trains April 25 with a fare-paying adult. A fare-paying adult applies to any paying parent or guardian. The youth riding free do not need to purchase a train ticket during this promotional day, and may simply board the train with their paying adult.
East Chicago Station improvement project
The South Shore Line announces that construction is set to begin that will add a second entrance/exit to the East Chicago Station platform.
The project is expected to begin Monday, April 29, through December 2019, and will help accommodate the large influx of passengers at East Chicago Station.
The improvements include converting the low-level platform to the east of the station into a covered walkway to access a new head house, stairwell and tunnel leading to the eastern parking lot.
Additionally, other East Chicago Station projects include improvements to the existing head house, and the installation in 2020 of higher speed track switches to allow for faster and more efficient train movements.
During the construction, there will be some reduction in available commuter parking due to construction laydown and access. The SSL continues to work with the project’s construction firm to minimize the loss of parking spaces for commuters.
For more information, including station renderings, please visit https://www.mysouthshoreline.com/news/item/218-ssl-east-chicago-station-construction
Lowell District State Police Blitz’ Results
Troopers from the Indiana State Police Lowell District coordinated with state police agencies from five other states, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia last week on a joint ‘Six State Trooper’ enforcement project. As part of this traffic enforcement concentration was also given to catching those drivers who failed to slow down and move over for emergency vehicles. During this same time period April 14-April 20th, troopers were also doing Human Trafficking interdiction.
Their results were:
Move Over Violation 24 tickets
Move Over Violation 28 warnings
Total traffic arrests 123 tickets
Speeding arrests 36 tickets
Total warnings 267 warnings
Public Services 65
Driving While Suspended 11
Criminal Arrests 16
Seat belts 2 tickets
Child Restraint 1 ticket
Crashes Investigated 104
Also on April 14, Trooper Jerry George was hit while sitting inside his police car on I-94 covering another crash. Thankfully, Trooper George received non-life threatening injuries and has since returned to duty.
Senator Braun Announces Second Week of ‘Solutions Tour’
Last week, Senator Mike Braun embarked on a two-week Solutions Tour to listen to Hoosiers’ thoughts about lowering prescription drug prices, lowering the cost of higher education, and enacting policies that spur economic growth.
Upcoming Local stops include:
Wednesday, April 24, at 6:30 PM ET
LaPorte County Lincoln Day Dinner
La Porte Civic Auditorium
1001 Ridge St
La Porte, Indiana
Thursday, April 25, at 1:00 PM ET
Valparaiso Chamber Lunch
216 Ballantrae St
Thursday, April 25, at 2:45 PM ET
Tour of Indiana Dunes National Park
Indiana Dunes National Park
1215 N State Rd 49
Thursday, April 25, at 4:15 PM ET
Visit at Strack’s Grocery
Strack & Van Til
1600 Pioneer Trail
Thursday, April 25, at 6:00 PM ET
Porter County Lincoln Day Dinner
Sand Creek Country Club
1001 Sand Creek Drive
AG Curtis Hill prevails in defending constitutionality of Indiana’s Right to Farm Act
Attorney General Curtis Hill praised a decision this week by the Indiana Court of Appealsupholding the constitutionality of Indiana’s Right to Farm Act.
Indiana’s statute limits the scenarios in which an agricultural operation may be sued for nuisance. The purpose, as the law states, is “to conserve, protect, and encourage the development and improvement of agricultural land for the production of food and other agricultural products” and “to reduce the loss to the state of its agricultural resources.”
In a case decided Monday, property owners adjacent to an expanding livestock operation challenged the law on the premise that their residential properties lost market value as a result of the increased agricultural activities.
Barker Middle School Korean War Legacy Project
Barker Middle School’s Student Council on Saturday, April 13th, conducted video interviews of four Korean War Veterans. These four veterans were invited by the Student Council so that their legacy and sacrifices in the Korean War could be preserved and learned by future generations. Veterans that were interviewed were: Ed Werner of Michigan City, Indiana; Carl Grose of Valparaiso, Indiana; Jim Toutloff of LaPorte, Indiana; and Harold Broertjes of Hammond, Indiana.
Barker’s Student Council acted as oral historians connecting the gap between the region’s generations. The Korean War is often remembered as the “forgotten war”, however, Barker’s Student Council wants to help in any way to have our veterans sacrifices honored and remembered. Barker 8th grader and Student Council President Kayla Campbell, conducted the video interviews. She was assisted by 7th grader and Student Council Historian Heavenly Thompkins, who ran the camcorder equipment. The Student Council also digitally archived letters and photographs that the veterans brought in from their time in the service. 8th grade Student Council members Kendra Lamberg and Skylar Henderson ran the scanning equipment and digitally documented these primary sources. Davida Barney, Nelly Serrano, and Violet Murphy all assisted in guiding the veterans to the various interview and archiving stations and engaged in conversations with the veterans to learn first hand about their war experiences.
All of the veterans video interviews will be submitted to the Korean War Legacy Foundation. The Korean War Legacy Foundation collects Korean War veteran interviews from all around the world. They currently have over 1200 veteran interviews. The Korean War Legacy Foundation uses these veteran interviews to create veteran profiles for teachers around the world to use in their classroom lesson plans. All the interviews are transcribed, edited to classroom appropriate clips, and tagged by meta-data. Due to the Student Council’s efforts, our Northwest Indiana Korean War veterans will now be represented on this website’s archives. Barker’s Student Council sponsor Mariah Pol, is a Teacher Ambassador with the Korean War Legacy Foundation and helps to create curriculum used by the veterans as primary source material in the classroom.
Indiana Department of Education to Submit Teacher Shortage List to U.S. Department of Education
The Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) this week will submit to the U.S. Department of Education (USDOE) its most recent list of teacher shortage areas. Including such areas as Exceptional Needs and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), Indiana’s list highlights the statewide struggle to find teachers for nearly 15 subjects.
Beginning in 1990, USDOE began asking states to annually submit a list of areas highlighting the need for more teachers. IDOE’s submission includes: Business, Computer Education, Computer Science, CTE Licensure Areas (all), Early Childhood Education, Exceptional Needs (all), Fine Arts: Instrumental and General Music, Fine Arts: Vocal and General Music, Mathematics, Science (all), Secondary Language Arts, Technology Education, and Teachers of English Learners; and World Languages (all).
(To view the nationwide listing of teacher shortage areas, visit: www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/pol/ateachershortageareasreport2017-18.pdf. For more information on Indiana’s Educator Preparation Programs, please visit: www.doe.in.gov/epps .)
All You Can Eat Fish Fry: American Legion Westville
This Friday there will be an all you can eat fish fry from 5-8PM at American Legion Post #21 on Highway 421 in Westville. Dinner includes:hand breaded pollock, chicken strips, french fries, creamy coleslaw, salad, rolls and free homemade desserts. Special veterans and senior pricing: Adults-$9.00, Seniors(60yrs+) & Vets-$8.00, Kids 12 & under-$5.00, Preschoolers-Free. Carry-outs are available.
Jasper and Newton County Job Fair back for its second year
Jasper County Economic Development Organization, Newton County Economic Development, the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board and WorkOne are continuing their partnership to host the 2nd Annual Jasper and Newton County Job Fair. The job fair will be held on Wednesday, May 1, at the Jasper County Fairgrounds in the West Building from 2:30-4:00pm. Jobseekers are encouraged to bring multiple copies of their resume and dress in business professional attire. Anyone needing free assistance to prepare for the event can stop by a WorkOne Center. For a list of WorkOne locations visit www.gotoworkonenw.com or call 1-877-607-0680.
South Shore Line Temporary busing SB-Carroll Ave. May 6-17
The South Shore Line plans to periodically bus passengers between Carroll Ave. and the South Bend Airport while they upgrade track and segments of overhead wire between Michigan City and South Bend. The temporary busing periods will occur at various times throughout the spring/summer, with the first of these periods being scheduled for Monday, May 6 through Friday, May 17, (this includes the weekend of May 11-12). Busing availability at the South Bend Airport will be limited, therefore westbound passengers are encouraged to board at Carroll Ave. Station or other western stations. Bus service to and from Hudson Lake will not be available during this time. Hudson Lake passengers are encouraged to board at the Carroll Ave. station.
Lyme Disease Found in Ticks in a Number of Counties
Indiana health officials are encouraging Hoosiers to protect themselves from tick bites while outdoors as warmer temperatures bring an increase in tick activity across the state. Recent field sampling by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) has found adult and immature ticks (nymphs) carrying the bacterium that causes Lyme disease in a number of counties, particularly in the northern, west central, and south central parts of the state. Anyone who becomes ill after finding an attached tick should see a medical provider immediately and alert the provider to the exposure. Tick-borne diseases can be treated with antibiotics, and prompt diagnosis can help prevent complications. Maps displaying the tick infection data are available at https://www.in.gov/isdh/28130.htm
Two Semi Crash on Toll Road
A two semi crash eastbound on the Indiana Toll Road, at the 28.4 mile marker 2 1/2 miles west of the Chesterton exit, on Monday evening had traffic down to one lane for clean-up. Preliminary investigation revealed on Monday afternoon, a 2016 International semi pulling a box trailer, driven by 54 year old Glenn Christy of Valparaiso, was eastbound on the Indiana Toll Road in the right lane when he slowed down for a disabled car that was on the outer shoulder. Christy was changing lanes from the right to the left lane when a 2012 Peterbilt semi pulling a box trailer that was directly behind Christy, driven by 56 year old Mohamed Abid of Palos Park, Illinois, hit Christy’s trailer. This caused Abid’s semi to lose control, go off the roadway, and hit the outer guardrail head on. The Peterbilt leaked 150 gallons of diesel fuel because of the crash. The Peterbilt sustained heavy front end damage to the tractor and also damage to its trailer front right side. The International sustained damage to its trailer left rear side. Neither driver was injured.