Indiana Civil Rights Commission Investigating Mental Health Facility

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Last month’s protest outside a Marshall County mental health facility has prompted a state agency to investigate reports of wrongdoing there. The Indiana Civil Rights Commission is looking into operations at Michiana Behavioral Health. Former employees of the Plymouth facility claim it is understaffed and puts patients in danger. Officials there deny the claims. Findings from the ongoing investigation should be available in a couple of weeks.

 

Don’t Miss the Boat for Ed Hasnerl’s Mississippi Riverboat Adventure

News Contributor, Ed Hasnerl
Ed Hasnerl
The deadline to reserve your spot for Ed Hanserl’s upcoming Mississippi Riverboat Adventure is a mere two weeks away, and that’s no April Fool. Join him June 3-6 for a trip via Cardinal bus to LaClaire, Iowa where you will board a riverboat for a day trip to Dubuque. Travelers will spend the night at the Grand Harbor Resort Hotel and visit many of the city’s attractions, including the Mississippi Riverboat Museum.

The trip also includes a stop in Galena, Ill. It should appeal to history buffs, as it is President Ulysses S. Grant’s hometown. Dinner in Galena will be enjoyed at the restored Desoto Historic Hotel where Abraham Lincoln once slept. These are just a few of the stops and attractions along the way. Give WKVI a call at (574) 772-6241 to reserve your spot on this historic trip, and we’ll mail you a packet of information. Don’t miss the boat; the deadline to sign up is Monday, April 15.

Pedestrians Treated and for Minor Injuries After Being Hit by a Truck

 
 

Two women who work in the Marshall County building were treated at a local hospital for minor injuries sustained yesterday as they were struck by a truck while walking to work. The incident occurred just before 8 a.m. at the corner of Jefferson and Center Streets in downtown Plymouth. Police there say Timothy J. Patterson, 42, of Plymouth, was blinded by the sun as he was turning left from Center Street onto Jefferson Street and did not see the women crossing the street. Catherine A. Hamman of Plymouth was treated at St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Plymouth for a concussion, Angela L. Wilson of Plymouth received stitches to her face for some minor cuts. Hamman told the police officer she and Wilson were talking as they crossed the street with the light and did not see Patterson’s truck before it hit them.

Court Filing Seeks Release of Names of Kenny Becker’s Accusers

Pulaski County Commissioners Larry Brady, Vice President Terry Young, and President Tracey Shorter
Pulaski County Commissioners Larry Brady, Vice President Terry Young, and President Tracey Shorter

The legal battle over longtime Pulaski County Highway Superintendent Kenny Becker’s firing continues. He was reappointed by the county commissioners on January 7th, suspended with pay on January 22nd so allegations raised by a current and a former employee could be looked into and reinstated as highway manager on February 4th following an investigation by an outside consultant. Commissioner Larry Brady served as interim superintendent, and Becker was subsequently fired by the commissioners on March 4th. He’s since hired an attorney and filed a $500,000 notice of tort claim against the county commissioners for slander and defamation of character.

Pulaski County attorney Kevin Tankersley reluctantly released a copy of the consultant’s investigation report after being ordered to do so by the state Public Access Counselor’s office but redacted the names of Becker’s accusers. The new filing seeks to force the release of that information, noting “the Commissioners have failed to comply fully with the requirements of the Open Door Law.” It also states the names are necessary for possible legal action by Becker for slander and defamation of character.

 

 

 

IU Health LaPorte Sleep Services Offers Home Sleep Test Option

 
 
If you suffer from excessive sleepiness, loud snoring, frequently wake up with a dry mouth or sore throat, have a hard time staying asleep, suffer from high blood pressure, uncontrolled diabetes or are overweight, you may suffer from sleep apnea. The condition affects at least 40 million adult Americans. is a common disorder involving abnormal pauses in breathing or extreme shallow breathing during sleep. These respiratory disruptions can last 10 seconds to a few minutes, and may occur multiple times within a rest period. Usually, when normal breathing resumes, the sleeper will snort or snore loudly. Sleep apnea is diagnosed through a sleep study, which usually involves an overnight stay at a sleep center where technicians monitor your sleep. IU Health LaPorte Sleep Services now offers an in-home test as an alternative. It measures breathing patterns, heart rate and oxygen levels during the night and is significantly cheaper than traditional overnight testing in a sleep center. It’s also covered by most insurance plans.

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Suspect Shot During Police Standoff

police investigation 2A Fulton County man is in serious condition at a Fort Wayne hospital after being shot during a standoff with police. Nicholas S. Westerhoff, 46, was airlifted to Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne after the incident in the town of Fulton. It started around 8:15 last night with a report of a domestic situation with shots fired at a Brown Street home. Officers found Westerhoff holed up in the residence refusing to come out. The Indiana State Police North Emergency Response Team was called in to secure the area. Several attempts to negotiate with with Westerhoff were unsuccessful. He came to the door of the home around 11:40 p.m. and started firing his weapon, according to police. Officers returned fire, and Westerhoff was injured during the exchange. It’s unclear if his injury was self-inflicted or if he was shot by officers returning fire. No police officers were injured. The incident remains under investigation. Officers from the Indiana State Police, Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, Rochester, Kewanna and Fulton Police Departments responded to the incident, along with the Liberty Township Fire Department and Fulton County EMS.

 

Local Golf Course Closes

A local attraction will not reopen for the season. The co-owner of Bass Lake Golf Course confirms the course, pro shop and restaurant are closed for good. Rudy and Cindy DeSabatine have owned the course since 2006. It is one of the oldest in the Kankakee Valley. Bass Lake Golf Course originally opened in 1921.

LaPorte Man Faces Theft and Drug Charges Following Shoplifting Incident

Zacheria Faiyaz
Zacheria Faiyaz

A LaPorte man faces felony theft and drug charges after he reportedly stole an item from an auto parts store there last night. Employees at Advance Auto Parts on State Road 2 called the police around 8:20 last night to report the theft of a cell phone mount. They gave officers a description of the suspect and the vehicle he got into when he left the store. Officers pulled it over a short time later and found a man, later identified as Zacheria Faiyaz, 20, who matched the description of the thief. Faiyaz denied any knowledge of the incident, according to police. He consented to a search, and police reportedly found various drug paraphernalia items on his person. The driver of the vehicle gave officers permission to search it. They found the phone mount, still in its store packaging, behind where Faiyaz had been sitting. Faiyaz faces felony charges of theft and possession of syringes, along with misdemeanor charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana. Officers reportedly found a baggie of the latter during a search at the LaPorte County Jail.

Indiana Supreme Court Upholds Constitutionality of School Vouchers

 
 
Indiana’s comprehensive, and controversial, school choice program is constitutional. The Indiana Supreme Court unanimously upheld the sweeping program. It allows public tax dollars to be used to pay for private education. A group of teachers and other public school advocates filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of funding a religious activity with public tax dollars. Indiana State Teachers Association Vice President Teresa Meredith is disappointed by the decision. She says the plaintiffs have not yet discussed their appeal options. The Supreme Court previously ruled that a similar law in Ohio was constitutional. Governor Mike Pence is pleased with today’s ruling. He says in a statement that Indiana must continue to find ways to expand educational opportunities for all Indiana families.

DNR Announces Becoming an Outdoors Woman Workshop

 
 

Hoosier women ranging in age from 18 to 80 are invited to take a walk on the wild side the first weekend in May. Registration is now open for the annual Indiana’s Becoming an Outdoors Woman workshop. It gives women a chance to learn outdoor skills in a relaxed, low-pressure environment. Participants can design their own weekend experience based on their interests. Activities include learning to shoot clay targets, canoeing, fishing for trophy bass, campfire gourmet cooking, turkey calling and more. This year’s workshop takes place May 3-5 at Ross Camp in West Lafayette. Find more information and an online registration form at http://www.indianabow.com/.

House Passes Bill to Limit Pseudoephedrine Sales

pseudoephedrineHoosier allergy sufferers could soon face tougher limits on how much over-the-counter cold medication they can purchase. A bill to set an annual cap on pseudoephedrine purchases passed the House by a vote of 91-1. The goal of the legislation is to curb the manufacture of methamphetamine by crimping the supply of one of the drug’s main ingredients. Plymouth Mayor and former Indiana State Police Trooper Mark Senter testified in support of the limits during a House hearing on the bill. Cold medications containing pseudoephedrine are already sold behind the counter in pharmacies in limited quantities, and purchasers must show a photo identification to buy them. The 61 gram per person limit is about an eight-month supply of the current law’s monthly limit. The bill now goes back to the Senate for consideration of a few minor changes before it can be sent to Governor Mike Pence for consideration.

 

LaPorte Police Searching for Armed Robbery Suspects

police investigation 2LaPorte Police are searching for two masked suspects who robbed a restaurant at gunpoint Friday night. Officers responded to the Little Caesar’s on Monroe Street at 11:17 p.m. Victims told police they were cleaning up for the night when two masked suspects wearing all black clothing came inside. They displayed a handgun, demanded money, forced the victims into a restroom and fled. One of the suspects was described as skinny and the other as heavy-set.

Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to contact LaPorte Police Detective Brian Phillips at 219-362-9446, Ext. 205, or at www.lpcitypd.com to submit a crime tip. You can remain anonymous while providing important information to help make your community safer. Please be as specific as you can about the activity you are reporting.

 

Snow Keeps State Troopers Busy

State troopers from the Indiana State Police Lowell Post are staying busy as a result of the snow that fell overnight into the early morning hours. They responded to 26 property damage crashes, 7 personal injury crashes, 30 slide off’s and 10 calls to assist motorists. The Lowell district includes Starke, Pulaski, LaPorte, Porter, Lake, Newton and Jasper Counties. Motorists are reminded to travel cautiously, as roads remain wet, snow-covered and slushy. Slow down and allow plenty of stopping distance.

 

March Madness Snowstorm Socks Kankakee Valley

It’s a whole different kind of March Madness across the Kankakee Valley this morning. Roads are slick and snow-covered after a late season overnight snowstorm. This is making for hazardous travel. If you do have to be out, allow yourself plenty of time to reach your destination, and remember, ice and snow, take it slow. Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles, brake early and accelerate slowly. If you see a snow plow, stay back and give it plenty of room to operate. Don’t tailgate or try to pass a plow truck, as the roadway will be clearer behind the plow than in front of it.

You can check road conditions anywhere in the state by visiting www.trafficwise.in.gov or by dialing toll-free 1-800-261-ROAD (7623) for updated Indiana travel information, including road conditions, road closures, construction information and other traffic alerts.

Snow should taper off into flurries by midday, but additional snowfall is expected tonight and into tomorrow before temperatures warm up into the 40s by the middle of the week. Fortunately the snow will not be a factor for schools today, as most school systems within the WKVI listening area are on spring break this week. However, if we receive word of any other weather-related closings or delays we will pass it along on the closings and delays page at www.wkvi.com as well as on the air and on our Facebook page.

 

Pulaski County Commissioners Discuss Defibrillator Purchases

 
 
Pulaski County Commissioners recently discussed the purchase of some potentially life-saving technology.

“We’re looking at automatic external defibrillators – they get your heart going again,” Commissioner Larry Brady said. “We’d station these throughout the county buildings to use until the EMS system arrives. Most buildings have them laying around, and they are a wonderful asset when minutes count.”

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Local Residents Warned of Jury Duty Scam

Be on alert for a scam that’s been out for several years and could happen to you.

This is the scam: A caller identifying himself or herself as an officer of the court will mention that you failed to report to jury duty and a warrant is out for your arrest.

The caller will tell you that in order to clear up this mistake you will need to provide some verification which includes your birth date, social security number and maybe even a credit card number.

Keep in mind that court officers do not call you to say you are truant or that you need to provide any information to clear up an alleged warrant. Court officers never ask for confidential information over the phone. They normally correspond with prospective jurors by mail.

If you receive this type of call, call your local Sheriff’s Department or your local FBI District Office. Police remind you to never give out personal information when you receive an unsolicited phone call.

Marshall County Commissioners Approve Payment to Humane Society

The Marshall County Commissioners approved the payment of $7,000 to the Marshall County Humane Society. The county usually supports the humane society with $40,000 a year and had been behind in payments to the group.

The commissioners discussed the payment system and decided that the cost should be paid in January so the officials can budget their money they way they need to at the beginning of the year.

Auditor Penny Lukenbill urged the commissioners to draw up a contract with the humane society pertaining to the payment system as she can’t find a current contract. There was a contract, but the paper trail can not be accounted for.

The commissioners also approved a motion to pay EMA Director Clyde Avery out of county’s funds instead of having him get his salary through a grant distributed by the state. All three commissioners commented on how well Avery is conducting business out of his office. The state keeps raising the bar on points needed to obtain the grant and the commissioners know how hard he works to make sure the county is in compliance for a variety of issues.

It was unanimously approved to fund Avery’s salary out of the county budget.

Local Democratic Chairman Named 2nd District Chairman

A local Democratic Chairperson has been elected treasurer of the state’s Second Congressional District.

Kenny Wallace will join newly installed chairperson Carol McDaniel of LaPorte, Vice-Chair Lynn Coleman of South Bend and Secretary Jane Long of Wabash County.

Carol McDaniel stated that she looks forward to working with the team of officers for the next four years on issues that matter to working families.

Wallace, who is Starke County’s Starke County Democratic Chairman, expressed his excitement to serve as treasurer for the Second Congressional District. He will continue in his local duties to the Democrat party.

Open House Scheduled For Knox Elementary School Palmer Wing

An open house will be held Tuesday, April 2 from 6:00-7:00 p.m. in the Palmer Wing of the Knox Elementary School so you can tour the portion of the building that is up for a proposed construction project.

The construction of the Palmer Wing is in the fate of the voters of the Knox Community School District on May 7 where a yes or no majority vote determines the future of that portion of the building.

Superintendent A.J. Gappa said the open house is sponsored by the “Whatever it Takes Committee” who supports the project. The event will be held in the all-purpose room in the elementary school.

“That’s kind of the heart of the old building,” explained Gappa. “It’s connected to the affected areas including the kitchen and the boiler rooms. Tours will be offered to anybody who hasn’t been through the building.”

The open house is intended to be an informational meeting to address current building concerns, overview of the project and the impact on community members.

Plymouth City Council Approves Bids for New Police Vehicles

Newly installed Plymouth Police Chief Dave Bacon recently approached the Plymouth City Council to request three vehicles for the police department that were budgeted for the year. He says two will be used for regular patrol and an SUV will be used for the K9 unit. “We were looking at the all-wheel drive Ford utility vehicle, which is basically the Explorer to give to the K9,” explained Bacon. “We did get a bid on that and an approval for that. The two other vehicles will go into our patrol fleet.”

The council decided to purchase a sport utility vehicle for K9 officer John Wier and K9 Jax as it’s a more sturdy vehicle for the needs of the K9 unit.

“K9 units sometimes go off-road, depending on what type of situation they have, and that might call for a track out in the woods. In order to get him to where he needs to go, we thought a four-wheel drive vehicle would be the best for that,” Bacon explained.

The purchases were approved by the Council.