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Michigan City bank robbery suspect captured in Illinois

MICHIGAN CITY — A La Porte County man is behind bars Monday, charged with the robbery of a credit union on Michigan City’s south side.

On Tuesday, Jan. 14, at about 2:25 p.m., the suspect entered the La Porte Community Federal Credit Union at 1315 Southwind Dr., just off Kieffer Road near Ohio Street, according to Michigan City Police.

The suspect approached a teller and handed over a note demanding money, police said. He then ran out with an undisclosed amount of cash.

Several agencies, including the MCPD Investigative and Patrol divisions, the La Porte County Sheriff’s Department, and La Porte County Drug Task Force, responded to the scene.

Officers searched the area and followed up on initial leads but were unable to locate the suspect, described as a heavy-set white man, about 300-350 pounds and between 45-55 years old, police said.

Surveillance video from the bank provided investigators with a photograph of the suspect, which was immediately disseminated to members of the police department.

Based upon this video surveillance footage, the suspect was identified as Thomas R. Breese Jr., 49, of La Porte County, police said.

The Fugitive Apprehension Street Team (FAST) and the La Porte County Drug Task Force then began an extensive search for Breese, police said.

He was taken into custody without incident on Friday at a hotel in Lockport, Illinois, police said.

Breese – who police said had several area addresses, the most recent in Otis – was also found to have an active warrant out of Porter County charging theft as a Class D felony.

Breese is being held at the Will County Jail in Joliet, Illinois, pending extradition to Indiana.

On Monday, MCPD Det. Cpl. Tim Baker, lead investigator on the case, received an arrest warrant for Breese charging one count of robbery as a Level 5 felony.

The warrant was issued from La Porte County Superior Court 1 and carries a $15,000 cash-only bond.

Baker wished to thank all the officers and detectives who assisted in the investigation and helped bring the case to a quick conclusion.

Anyone with information on the case should contact Baker at 219-874-3221, ext. 1075. Information can also be provided via Facebook Messenger or the crime tip hotline at 219-873-1488. Anyone providing information can request anonymity.


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Salvation Army gets energy-saving LED lighting

MICHIGAN CITY — The Salvation Army of Michigan City has 478 new reasons to be thankful.

That’s the number of fluorescent light bulbs that were changed out with energy-saving LED replacements courtesy of Marquiss Electric of Michigan City.

“I see white now instead of yellow,” said Major Becky Simmons, who is the corps officer with her husband, Capt. Dale Simmons.

“It impacts our bottom line because LED lighting is so much cheaper than fluorescent lighting,” Simmons said. “Our utility bill will be much lower for many months to come.”

“The NIPSCO program estimated that $5,000 will be saved annually,” said Salvation Army of Michigan City board member Arnold Bos. “NIPSCO also is giving us a rebate, too.”

“We have to look at our operating budget and the bottom line,” Simmons said.

“When people think of the Salvation Army they think of donating a can of food or other items. We also have to have those key funds to pay our employees and open our doors every day. Something like this that impacts our bottom line is huge.”

Bos, a board member for about 20 years, spearheaded the project. It began in March 2019 when he met with Kabelins Commercial Supply for preliminary plans including pricing and light selection.

Changing the lighting over to LED bulbs was a goal of the Salvation Army’s property committee, which Bos joined about 18 months ago.

“He’s a hands-on board member,” Simmons said. “He rolls up his sleeves and gets involved. It’s awesome.”

The Salvation Army purchased the bulk of the necessary parts and Marquiss Electric donated labor and a few remaining necessary items for the job.

They started the work shortly after Thanksgiving and finished up on Jan. 17, fitting in the work as time allowed. The work included changing out exit lights to emergency lighting, which illuminates the path to the exit door.

“Without their help, we would not have been able to do this,” Bos said.

“The Salvation Army is a great cause,” said Andy Skwiat, owner of Marquiss Electric. “They help a lot of people in the community and I was honored to help them. Along with energy costs, it will save maintenance costs because they (LED lights) last longer.”

Last year, through the coordinated efforts of Michigan City Common Council member Don Przybylinski, Marquiss also completed work on the non-profit’s maintenance room and laundry/storage room.

Przybylinski and his wife, Jinny, were the 2018 Christmas Chair Family for the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign.


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Walorski to seek re-election to Congress

SOUTH BEND — U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski has filed for re-election to continue representing Indiana’s 2nd District in Congress for a fifth term.

“As a lifelong Hoosier, I’m grateful to be able to fight for the hardworking people of Indiana’s 2nd District,” the South Bend Republican said after filing candidacy papers in Indiana this week.

“Politicians in Washington are trying to divide the country with a radical agenda and a partisan impeachment charade, but I’m staying focused on what really matters,” she said.

“That’s why I’m committed to working with President Trump to build on our nation’s economic momentum, keep our country safe, fight for our veterans, and make sure working families have a chance to achieve the American Dream.”

She promised constituents, “I’ll always stand up for our shared values and fight for farmers, manufacturers, small businesses, workers, veterans, service members, and families across northern Indiana. I look forward to talking with my fellow Hoosiers about how we can keep working together to build a brighter future and a stronger America.”

Walorski’s campaign raised more than $360,000 during the fourth quarter of 2019 – the most the campaign has ever raised in the final quarter of a non-election year – bringing total cash on hand to more than $850,000.

Since 2nd District Hoosiers first elected Jackie Walorski to Congress, she has worked to achieve commonsense solutions, including passing laws to cut taxes on health care, combat the opioid epidemic, protect veterans, and strengthen families, her campaign said in a release.

Walorski serves on the House Ways and Means Committee and is the top Republican on the Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support. The president recently signed into law her bipartisan legislation to help states transform the foster care system and put families first.

She said she has “fought on behalf of northern Indiana to ensure our farmers, businesses, and workers are treated fairly when it comes to trade.”

That included playing a key role in passing the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, President Trump’s deal to modernize North American trade. She has also “led the charge to defend American manufacturers and farmers from tariffs and retaliation,” she said.

Walorski said she also fought “to permanently repeal the job-killing medical device tax and the costly health insurance tax. The president recently signed into law my legislation to repeal these Obamacare taxes that were driving up the cost of health care.”

She has also been a strong advocate for veterans, she said. In 2016, she authored a law to protect veterans from overprescribing of opioids; and in 2013, authored a bipartisan law that protects survivors of military sexual assault.

The 2nd District includes most of La Porte County, except for the far western edge (Michigan City, Westville, Wanatah, LaCrosse).


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Holiday Inn Express & Suites opening in Michigan City

MICHIGAN CITY — Michigan-based Amerilodge Group is opening its sixth hotel in Indiana with the opening of a new Holiday Inn Express & Suites hotel in Michigan City

Amerilodge Group has announced the opening of the hotel at 401 W. Kieffer Rd, just off I-94, only 58 miles away from Chicago and less than an hour from South Bend.

The 90-room hotel will feature the newest design for the Holiday Inn Express brand, “Introducing ... Formula Blue,” general manager Brooke James said.

“The guestrooms will include a flexible work space; functional storage units, providing horizontal luggage storage; convenient moveable seating allowing guests to use the space in ways that work best for them; and a newly designed decor for the guestroom,” she said.

“The open lobby design will enable guests, in particular the business traveler, to be able to connect and fulfill their overall technology needs.”

Additional hotel amenities include an indoor swimming pool, exercise room, and complimentary Wi-Fi, as well as fax and copy services, James said.

The hotel also offers more than 1,100 square feet of meeting space to accommodate functions of up to 100 people.

“It gives us great pleasure to be able to bring a clean, modern, and technology friendly driven lodging accommodation to the Michigan City community,” said Asad Malik, president and CEO of Amerilodge Group.

“With the Formula Blue Concept, we expect this to be an award-winning hotel and the preferred lodging choice for the business and leisure travelers in the Michigan City and La Porte County area.”

“On behalf of the Amerilodge Group this has been a very exciting project, that I am proud to be a part of,” said Courtney Graham, regional director of operations.

“We love the beauty of the city, and are looking forward to our guests enjoying our beautiful property.”

James said, “A lot of hard work went into the opening of this property and we are so glad to be able to share this amazing hotel with the community.”

The Holiday Inn Express & Suites is expected to add more than 25 jobs to the community.

“Summer is a great time to visit with Lake Michigan just minutes down Franklin Street,” according to James. “During the fall, your family can have a weekend full of wholesome fun enjoying Notre Dame Football and local fall activities like apple orchards and corn mazes.”

The Lighthouse Place Premium Outlets mall is just four miles away, she said, and “We are also only 10 minutes away from Blue Chip Casino, Hotel and Spa in Michigan City; and Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo, Michigan is just across state line.”

For more information or reservations, call 219-243-8300 or visit hiexpress.com/michigancity