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Heroin investigation leads to two arrests in Michigan City

MICHIGAN CITY — An investigation into “an organization associated with the distribution of heroin throughout La Porte County” has resulted in two arrests and the seizure of narcotics in Michigan City, according to authorities.

During the past several months, the La Porte County Drug Task Force has been investigating the drug network, culminating in Friday’s arrests, according to a joint statement from Michigan City Police and the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office.

Over the course of this investigation, which covered areas across the county, detectives were able to “identify and infiltrate individuals tied to this organization,” according to MCPD Cpl. Kyle Shiparski.

On the evening hours of May 22, members of the Drug Task Force, MCPD, Sheriff’s Office and Indiana State Police executed two arrests at homes on the east and west sides of Michigan City, he said.

Taken into custody were 33-year old Michigan City resident Eric J. Betton; and 33-year old Lansing, Illinois, resident Bryan Harium Wells, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

During the arrests, detectives also located suspected heroin, suspected marijuana, drug paraphernalia, and cash.

On Tuesday afternoon, Judge Michael Bergerson found that probable cause existed to charge Betton with 2 counts of dealing in cocaine or a narcotic drug as a Level 2 felony, according to court records.

Wells was charged with a single count of dealing in cocaine or a narcotic drug as a Level 2 felony, according to records.

Both are being held at the La Porte County Jail – Betton without bond, and Wells on a $50,000 cash-only bond, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Both have had their initial appearance in La Porte Superior Court 1, and are next scheduled to appear in court on June 9

Michigan City Police Chief Dion Campbell said, “I could not be more proud of the previous and continued work produced by the members of the La Porte County Drug Task Force.

“This unit continues to be dedicated to eradicating illegal drugs, not only in Michigan City, but throughout La Porte County. The investigations conducted by LCDTF have undoubtedly made La Porte County a safer place for its residents.”

The Drug Task Force was assisted in this investigation by La Porte County Deputy Prosecutor Dennis Caviston.

Lt. Tim Richardson, commander of the Drug Task Force said, “The continued success of the La Porte County Drug Task Force is a direct result of the positive working relationship the unit has with its prosecutor’s office and court system.

“If it were not for this positive working relationship, the detectives within the Drug Task Force would not be able to efficiently and effectively investigate these complex drug trafficking investigations.”

The Drug Task Force asks anyone with information about criminal activity to contact them at 219-873-1488, or via social media.

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Marquette Catholic High School grads prepare for their big day

Dunebrook will once again be Lakefront Career Network's spotlight non-profit

MICHIGAN CITY — The Lakefront Career Network will continue its partnership with its 2020 Spotlight Organization, Dunebrook, in 2021.

Each year LCN, the young professionals committee of the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce, chooses a non-profit to spotlight through a partnership.

In doing so, LCN creates an increased awareness of the organization and what they do.

By connecting to a mission that resonates, LCN volunteers can connect with other people and make a huge difference in the community, according to LCN chair Anthony Novak

“We were super excited to announce our partnership with Dunebrook for 2020,” he said.

“When we made that announcement in December 2019, no one could have imagined what the first half of 2020 would look like. As we all know, the pandemic has caused the cancellation of numerous events and has prohibited many face-to-face interactions.

“As a result, LCN has had to cancel events, most notably, the Day of Giving that was originally scheduled for May 2.”

So the partnership with Dunebrook will continue.

“There are so many things left for LCN and Dunebrook to accomplish; we just need a little more time,” Novak said.

“Because of this, we were pleased to inform Dunebrook that we would extend our partnership with them all the way through 2021.”

LCN chair-elect Jessica O’Brien also expressed how important community support is to non-profit organizations, especially now.

“It is very unfortunate that our friends at Dunebrook did not receive the full benefits of being our Spotlight Organization during 2020. Non-profit organizations always rely upon their community to support them – especially during difficult times,” she said.

“Given the recent circumstances of COVID-19, we believe Dunebrook will need our help now more than ever, so we look forward to shining the spotlight on them again in 2021.”

Dunebrook executive director Jeanne Ann Cannon expressed gratitude to LCN.

“Dunebrook is so very grateful for everyone in the LCN family. It has been a great experience thus far, and due to the COVID-19 interruptions we appreciate them partnering with us for another year,” she said.

“Their support and passion for helping us and those we serve not only empowers families, but significantly strengthens the foundation of our community. We embolden parents to strengthen their challenging issues and build new, powerful tools and techniques for successfully caring for their children and holistic family management.

“Looking forward to another year of spreading the good news.”

To celebrate the news, the South Bend Chocolate Café located at 307 Lighthouse Place will host a Giveback Day for Dunebrook on June 2 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. The cafe will donated 20 percent of all sales to Dunebrook.

To learn more about Dunebrook, visit dunebrook.org. To learn more about Lakefront Career Network or the Michigan City Chamber of Commerce, visit Michigan CityChamber.com or call 219-874-6221.

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La Porte City Hall remains closed after employee tests positive for COVID-19

La PORTE — La Porte City Hall will remain closed to the public for several more weeks after an employee tested positive for COVID-19; and work on the new La Porte Hospital also remains on hold.

The employee, whose name and position were not released, recently tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to Mayor Tom Dermody.

“This news is a sobering reminder to all of us that the coronavirus situation is far from over,” he said.

“We are keeping this individual in our thoughts and prayers during this time, and we will continue taking every precaution to ensure the safety of our employees and residents as the pandemic maintains its hold in the United States.”

The employee’s name and condition were not disclosed due to privacy concerns.

City Hall has been open to the public exclusively by phone and email contact since March. To protect “both employees and residents,” Dermody said it will remain closed to the public until July 5.

The building was closed to all employees on Tuesday to allow for deep cleaning, he said.

As of Tuesday, the Indiana State Department of Health reported 415 COVID-19 cases and 23 deaths in La Porte County.

Of those cases, 89 were in La Porte; 109 were in Michigan City; and the majority – 173 inmates – were at the Westville Correctional Facility, according to the La Porte County Health Department.

The virus has also slowed construction of the new La Porte Hospital, where at least 45 workers have tested positive, according to Joe Forsthoffer, spokesman for the general contractor Robins & Morton.

Last week, Forsthoffer said 10 of the roughly 260 workers on the project tested positive, and construction was stopped to allow all workers to be tested, and the building to be cleaned and sanitized.

The Memorial Day holiday held up that process, but he said SERVPRO of La Porte County started the cleaning Tuesday and was expected to complete the job Wednesday.

Of the workers tested, 45 were positive and 59 negative, he said. He said they are close to having everyone screened and expect finals numbers on Thursday.

Though the CDC recommends that only those persons displaying symptoms be tested, Dermody said City Hall employees who had both direct and indirect contact with this individual were sent for testing “out of an abundance of caution.”

The city sent 32 employees for testing, none of whom have displayed symptoms, said Jessica Bruder, city communications director.

City employees have been working through a combination of remote work and in-office work, with no more than 10 employees in the building at a given time, Bruder said.

The city has also begun conducting City Council and other board meetings virtually to limit the number of people using the building.

The city has also implemented employee screening, with all employees required to have their temperatures checked before entering City Hall, Bruder said. They have also been supplied with various forms of personal protective equipment as a further safety measure.

Dermody said the City will continue to provide service to the public while employees work from home.

“We have gone above and beyond what is recommended to help ensure the safety of our employees and believe there is no risk to the public at this time,” Dermody said.

“Still, we must make safety a top priority as we continue to monitor the virus. Our team will continue to provide excellent service to residents through phone and email, and we will reopen City Hall when we feel it is safe to do so.”

Forsthoffer also said hospital construction will await results on all workers, but is expected to resume on June 1.

“We’ll return to work as soon as we know we can do it safely,” he said. “We are still on track to resume work on Monday.”

He said the delay should not affect the project’s completion date, estimated for late this year.

“We don’t see this as anything that will have a significant impact on the completion date of the project,” Forsthoffer said.

“We know that people want to get back to work, and we want to get back to work, but we want to do so safely.”