Tribute to Mr. Bernie Lootens

June 18 was a sad day for Michigan City. We lost a great and beloved educator to a tragic car crash in New Buffalo, Michigan.

Bernie Lootens lived 89 years and touched many young students' lives. As for me, he lit the fire for a life-long passion for the study of history that culminated in a teaching career at La Porte High School.

I remember my first day, back in 1960, when I shuffled into his world history class at Elston High School. I was 17 years old going on seven with a head full of ignorance and a heart full of mischief.

Mr. Lootens was not an imposing physical figure, but he dominated that classroom from the opening bell. He had an intense love and knowledge of the subject matter coupled with genuine desire to communicate the momentous events in history to all his students.

He was dazzlingly eloquent. What with his distinctive, high-pitched voice and ever present humor, he was able to captivate even the most indifferent classroom clown — yours truly.

After six months with Mr. Lootens, I was never the same. Books became important to me. The great mysteries of the past captured my attention. I knew then, because of Mr. Lootens' influence, I wanted to become a history teacher.

I did see Mr. Lootens on occasion as the decades rolled by. He received a standing ovation at my 50th class reunion.

I and a vast multitude of former students extend heartfelt condolences to his family and many friends. Rest in peace Mr. Lootens. You were the best.

Blaine Heric

La Porte

To the residents of Michigan City

As I rounded the corner of U.S. 20 and Cleveland Ave, heading south at 9:15 a.m. on June 10, I witnessed the last of a mass murder! A healthy, beautifully shaped tree was being repeatedly beaten and rammed by a yellow metal arm attached to a merciless mechanical monster. It eventually toppled, only to be dismembered. A couple days prior to that, I had seen the beginning of the process, but didn't realize the extreme carnage that was to follow. I ask, why must all the trees, birds, chipmunks, squirrels and whatever else be annihilated to put up a parking lot?

It takes so long to grow large hardwood trees, and they are being decimated without mercy. Even in our established neighborhoods, there are wonderful old trees, but, because our lawns are kept so preistine, where will the next generation come from? We're not allowing them to sprout. We just mow them down or spray them with chemicals. When will we realize that the gorgeous shade tree in the front yard will eventually succumb and our quaint communities will look naked and austere? Shame on us.

I know very little about ecology. I know nothing about politics or city planning — and — I don't understand why everything must be slaughtered to build another business with future obsolescence guaranteed. I have seen towns where moratoriums have been declared to prevent such devastation. Large stores nestled in the trees with shaded parking lots. Tasteful signs at street level announcing what store lies behind the beautiful landscaping. All sorts of flora and fauna allowed to coexist with humans. Why not Michigan City? Have we no control of the atrocities we are creating? How many obsolete strip (and I use the word strongly) malls sitting empty and ugly where there once were trees and forests that could have been converted back to parks if they had not been denuded.

Architects, city planners, engineers and citizens alike — get a clue. The deathof the last tree or bee signals the end of you and me.

Pick up after your dog

I am writing in regard to Striebel Pond. I use it very frequently. I love to walk there. It is getting very disturbing because people walking their dogs are not picking up their dog's droppings. It smells and you have to watch where you walk. I don't know what can be done about it, but they should be fined. Plastic bags are supplied for use at the pond so please use them.

Sally Piotrowski 

Michigan City


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