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Wednesday, October 28, 2020
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  • INDIANAPOLIS: DEMOCRAT CHAIR BELL REACTS TO EXPANDED INDY VOTING HOURS - The following statement can be attributed to Kate Sweeney Bell, Chair of the Marion County Democratic Party, regarding the expansion of early voting hours at the City-County Building (Howey Politics Indiana): “I applaud Clerk Myla Eldridge for expanding early voting hours at the City-County Building. Over the last few weeks, one thing is abundantly clear – voters want to make their voices heard. Because of the unanimous decision requirement, Democrat hands are tied. Repeated studies show that early voters tend to be Democrats, so it’s not hard to figure out why Republicans want to limit early voting opportunities. When it comes to voter suppression, Republicans know what they’re doing."

     

    ELWOOD: 92 POSITIVE IN NURSING HOME — A long-term care facility in Elwood has become the latest to experience an outbreak of COVID-19. Stephenie Grimes, administrator with the Madison County Health Department, said Tuesday that Elwood Health and Living had its first case on Oct. 16 (Anderson Herald Bulletin). Since that time 45 residents and 47 staff members have tested positive and two residents have died. “They have been very responsive in updating the Madison County Health Department, not only with the number of cases but their efforts to contain the virus,” Grimes said. A statement by Elwood Health and Living indicates that additional testing was done on all residents and staff since Oct. 16.

     

    FORT WAYNE: 1,000 JOBS COMING TO AMAZON - An Amazon facility planned near Fort Wayne International Airport will mean the creation of more than 1,000 full-time jobs. The fulfillment center will be the ninth of its kind in the state, and second Amazon building in Fort Wayne (WANE-TV). The Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority announced Monday the sale of 138 acres of land between Smith Road and Coverdale Road, along Airport Expressway to Amazon. An Amazon representative then confirmed details of the facility to WANE 15. The 630,000 square-foot fulfillment center’s 1,000 employees will receive inventory, as well as pick and ship customer orders. It’s expected to launch in 2021.The hiring process will begin a month or two before the facility opens.

     

    SOUTH BEND: COP IN LOGAN SHOOTING GETS PROBATION — Former South Bend police officer Ryan O’Neill was sentenced to two years of probation Tuesday in connection to a sexual encounter while on duty that came to light following the fatal shooting of Eric Logan (Mazurek, South Bend Tribune). O’Neill, 44, pleaded guilty last month to one count of ghost employment — a Level 6 felony. Prosecutors say he gave a woman $20 and performed a sex act with her while he was on duty one morning in May 2019. The meetup with the woman occurred a month before O’Neill shot and killed 54-year-old Eric Logan, but the encounter was uncovered later when a special prosecutor started an investigation into the controversial shooting.

     

    SOUTH BEND: COUNCIL OKs 8.7% RAISE FOR POLICE - The South Bend Common Council Monday night voted to give most police patrol officers an 8.7% pay raise over two years, over the objections of police-reform activists (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). Like Mayor James Mueller, council members supporting the raises said they’re aimed at boosting police recruiting and retention efforts, especially with many officers eligible to retire. They insisted they continue to work on a range of reforms happening in departments nationally, but this bill was strictly about approving the contract for sworn officer compensation, which officers are entitled to collectively bargain as the Fraternal Order of Police union. Of the council’s nine members, only Henry Davis Jr. and Lori Hamann spoke against the bill, and only Hamann voted against it.

     

    SOUTH BEND: MUELLER MAKES SCHOOL BOARD ENDORSEMENTS - South Bend Mayor James Mueller has made his decision on who he would like see on South Bend’s school board (WSBT-TV). That isn’t sitting well with some candidates he didn’t pick. Mayor Mueller came out in favor of re-electing the incumbent candidates for the school board. Normally, the mayor doesn’t weight-in on school board elections. That’s what has candidate Connor Stigner disappointed. Running for the 4th district seat along with Annette Malone and incumbent Stephanie Ball, Stigner says it makes it an unfair fight.

     

    BLOOMINGTON: 16TH EMPLOYEE TESTS POSITIVE - Another City of Bloomington employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The Office of the Mayor confirmed in a press release that a Parks and Recreation Department employee is self-isolating after receiving a positive result of a test administered Friday, Oct. 23. The employee last worked Oct. 22 (Indiana Public Media). According to the release, the employee works outdoors and does not interact with members of the public during their work. This is 16th city employee and second from the parks department to receive a positive test.

     

    DELAWARE COUNTY: NO CHARGES IN BB GUN SHOOTING NEAR CANDIDATE - Delaware County Prosecutor Eric Hoffman said Tuesday he would not request that two juveniles who fired a BB gun in downtown Muncie be formally declared delinquents (Walker, Muncie Star Press). The incident, on the early evening of Oct. 15, prompted four witnesses — including Jeannine Lee Lake, Democratic candidate for Congress — to report they had heard what might have been gunshots in or near the 200 block of South Walnut Street. City police reported there was no evidence the youths, ages 17 and 13, intended to hurt anyone when they fired the BB gun down an alley, in the direction of Lake's car. "No person was struck by a BB pellet, no person was injured and no property was damaged," Hoffman said Tuesday in a news release.

     

    ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: 44K VOTE EARLY - Between in-person and mail-in, St. Joseph County continued to see heavy early voting Tuesday and was on pace to more than double early voting from the 2016 presidential election, according to figures provided by County Clerk Rita Glenn (South Bend Tribune). As of mid-afternoon Tuesday, a week before Election Day, 44,857 people had voted in St. Joseph County — 22,856 in person and 22,001 by mail. People were waiting about two hours to vote at the Government Services Building in downtown Mishawaka and about 45 minutes to an hour and 10 minutes at the County-City Building in downtown South Bend.

     

    LaGRANGE COUNTY: COVID WORRIES HEALTH OFFICER - Just like the rest of Indiana, health officials in LaGrange County are worried as they’ve watched coronavirus numbers steadily increase. Again (Redmond, KPC News). After watching numbers fall to just one or two cases per day average in August and September, October’s numbers have been disappointing. Confirmed coronavirus infections continue to skyrocket. After reporting only about 50 new cases in LaGrange County for the entire month of September, health officials watched as that many new infections popped up in the first week of October alone. LaGrange county also received an orange rating in the state’s weekly COVID-19 transmission metric, indicating moderate to high spread of the virus.

     

    GRANT COUNTY: COVID INTERRUPTS MURDER TRIAL - The murder trial for a step-parent accused of strangling her stepdaughter was put on hold after three members of the court tested positive for COVID-19 (WPTA-TV). Amanda Carmack is accused of strangling her 10-year-old stepdaughter, Skylea Carmack, and hiding the body in a shed as investigators searched for the missing child last summer. She's charged with murder, neglect of a dependent resulting in death, domestic battery to a person under the age of 14 and strangulation.

     

    CASS COUNTY: ZINC PLANT HAS VOTERS LOOKING FOR NEW LEADERSHIP - The Cass County Citizens' Coalition group is hoping new elected officials will re-evaluate negotiations with a zinc factory coming to the area (WLFI-TV). People a part of CCCC told News 18 that they are looking for a "changing of the guard." As News 18 previously reported, people living in Cass County have accused county leaders of secretly negotiating with a zinc factory coming to the area. Several lawsuits have been filed involving the county and WSP. Another concern people have is safety. They are heavily concerned about the type of pollution and danger it could put families in. Right now construction on the factory is about 4 miles away from Clymers. Cass County Citizens Coalition member Bryon Stephens said people are all for economic development but not at the cost of the health of the citizens.

     

    BROWN COUNTY: HS YEARBOOK ADVISOR RESIGNS - Brown County Schools yearbook advisor Dr. Greg Mosley has resigned after naming a student “Black Guy” in the high school yearbook instead of using the student’s name (Indiana Public Media). Administrators at Brown County Schools had previously suspended Mosley for two weeks without pay. The district found no students past or present were involved. Both district officials and Mosley declined requests for an interview. Superintendent Dr. Laura Hammack previously said the district is open to absorbing the cost for new yearbooks to be printed, but updates were not immediately available.

  • EVANSVILLE: WINNECKE RENEWS COVID ORDER - Mayor Winnecke has renewed the Executive Order requiring social or civic gatherings expected to exceed 125 people to submit a written event plan to the Vanderburgh County Health Department (WFIE-TV). This extends the order for another seven days. Before the Mayor made his announcement to extend, Vanderburgh County health officials said it would be a good idea to renew. “I think there’s still a need,” said Joe Gries, County Health Department Administrator. “We still see a lot of cases here locally. There still is community spread, and we need to continue this...” “We could maybe hear some complaints, or we might start to see where an event might have some spread," said Gris.

     

    EDINBURGH: TOWN MANAGER FIRED — Two Edinburgh Town Council members Friday assumed leadership of the town after the council fired former town manager J.T. Doane (Columbus Republic). Jeff Simpson and Ryan Piercefield were named interim co-town managers, said Mary Patterson, the town’s director of administrative services. The town manager is responsible for operations of the town of about 4,600 in southern Johnson County. Requests for comment were not returned by Doane, Simpson or Piercefield by press time Monday. The town council amended its agenda prior to its Monday night meeting to discuss the search for a new town manager and consider a resolution that would formalize the acting town managers role with a vote.

     

    EAST CHICAGO: SCHOOL DISTRICT BOOTS STEM NON-PROFIT — A nonprofit organizer is threatening to take legal action after she says School City of East Chicago administrators moved to terminate an agreement with her nonprofit in retaliation for speaking up in support of teachers (Lanich,NWI Times). Cathleen Laporte, president of STEM literacy organization Athletes for Charity, says East Chicago Superintendent Dee-Etta Wright moved to terminate the school city’s relationship with her organization after Laporte publicly expressed her disapproval of the superintendent’s actions during the coronavirus pandemic. Athletes for Charity has partnered with the School City of East Chicago since 2014, organizing programs in and out of school introducing elementary-age students to the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

     

    PERU: HEALTH DEPT DIRECTS HS TO REMOTE LEARNING DUE TO COVID – Peru High School has been directed to move to remote learning for 14 days by the Miami County Health Department following increased COVID-19 cases in the county and the school (Kokomo Tribune). Remote learning will be put in place and begin on Thursday for Peru High School only. Contact tracing is in process. In the event that a student was exposed to a positive case (close contact), parents or guardians will be directly contacted by building administration. High school athletics, fine arts and any other practices or activities will also be put on hold from Oct. 22 to Nov. 4.

     

    WABASH: 2 PD OFFICERS CLEARED IN SHOOTING - The two Wabash officers who shot a man earlier this month after he fatally stabbed his 10-year-old son were justified in the shooting and will not face charges, Wabash County Prosecutor William Hartley Jr. said Monday (IndyStar). Wabash police officers Nick Brubaker and Daniel Henderson returned fire on William Sendelbach, 32, "in defense of their lives" after the man fired on officers responding to a report of a family disturbance on Oct. 8, according to a news release.

     

    ELKHART COUNTY: RECORD COVID HOSPITALIZATIONS - The number of COVID-19 inpatients at Elkhart County hospitals keeps climbing. As of Monday, there were 52 patients at Elkhart General and 26 at Goshen Hospital, almost four times as many as two months ago (Jorgensen, Elkhart Truth). Elkhart General’s 52 COVID-19 patients is a record, according to Dr. Michelle Bache, vice president of medical affairs at Elkhart General. Since hospitalizations tend to lag compared to cases – and cases keep increasing – there is reason to believe the number of COVID-19 patients will keep growing. “Every day, we’re just setting a new record,” Bache said.

     

    TIPPECANOE COUNTY: SITE TO DROP OFF BALLOTS - The Tippecanoe County Board of Elections is working to make early voting a little easier (WLFI-TV). On Sunday, poll workers came out for a ballot drop-off '"drive-thru" at Edgelea Elementary School. The goal of hosting it at Edgelea was to provide a fairly central place in Lafayette for voters to easily travel and drop off their mail-in ballots.  The ballots are taken straight to the election's office to be sorted by precinct. Poll workers representing both political parties are overseeing the sorting process together. All four poll workers operating this location are high school students in Tippecanoe County.

     

    MADISON COUNTY: JAIL DOORS INOPERABLE - Over the weekend 16 cell doors at the Madison County Jail were inoperable and Sheriff Scott Mellinger is now looking to house inmates out of county (Anderson Herald-Bulletin). On Monday, Mellinger said nine of the doors were repaired by Saturday afternoon, but since then two have broken. Currently seven cell doors are not working. “We’re looking at moving some inmates to other counties,” Mellinger said. “At this point we don’t know how many.” Bed space is available in Tipton, Rush, Fountain and Vermillion counties. Mellinger said those counties charge $35 to $45 per day for each inmate.

  • GARY: MAYOR'S LAWSUIT CALLED OUTRAGEOUS — A citizen-led committee that helped craft a 2019 law holding developers to local hiring, job training goals and the like said its members are disappointed in Mayor Jerome Prince’s recent lawsuit seeking to invalidate the ordinance (Cross, NWI Times). “It is outrageous that the Prince administration continues to thwart the needs of the people of Gary,” the Gary Committee for the Community Benefits Agreement said in a statement last week. “We now demand that this administration see the error of its ways by withdrawing this frivolous lawsuit that wastes taxpayer dollars and time that could be better spent working together,” the committee said.

     

    PORTAGE: NEW FIRE CHIEF NAMED — A 26-year veteran of the Portage Fire Department has been selected as its new leader. Mayor Sue Lynch last week announced Portage Fire Captain Randy Wilkening will succeed Chief Tim Sosby following Sosby's Nov. 5 retirement (Carden, NWI Times). "Following an extensive process, which included accepting applications, interviews with a three-person vetting committee, and final interviews with myself and City Attorney Dan Whitten, I am proud to announce that Captain Randy Wilkening will become Portage's next fire chief," Lynch said.

     

    JOHNSON COUNTY: HOSPITAL ACCUSED OF KICKBACKS - Hospitals are supposed to give advice based solely on the medical needs of their patients (IndyStar). But that’s not what happened at Community Health Network from 2013 to 2018, according to a federal whistleblower complaint filed by Thomas Fischer, Community's former chief financial officer. Fischer claims Johnson County's public hospital paid $6 million a year in illegal kickbacks to Community Health in exchange for patient referrals to its nursing homes. In his lawsuit, Fischer alleges his ex-employer disguised the kickbacks from Johnson Memorial Health as monitoring and consulting services for the nursing homes. The consulting agreement, however, was a "sham," Fischer claims. The agreement "was just a means of papering an illegal kickback arrangement where Community received excessive payment based on its ability to steer patients to Johnson Memorial’s nursing homes,” the complaint alleges.

     

    VIGO COUNTY: ALL EYES ON PRESIDENTIAL RACE - For more than a century, Vigo County has enjoyed a reputation as one of the country’s foremost electoral bellwethers (IndyStar). Since 1888, the county in western Indiana has had its finger on the pulse of American politics. In all but two presidential elections, its voters have chosen the winning candidate, and are so politically fluid that they voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, and for Donald Trump four years later. The small, rural county — Terre Haute is the county seat — has offered an unlikely glimpse into American political thought, mirroring the rest of the nation during election season and mystifying residents and national politicos alike. “It’s hard to wrap your head around a county that most recently had voted for President Obama on two occasions, then turns around and votes in an overwhelming way for President Trump,” said Joe Etling, chair of the county’s Democratic Party. “It’s pretty difficult to put all that together.”

  • ELKHART: MAYOR ROBERSON URGES COURTS TO REMAIN DOWNTOWN — Mayor Rod Roberson and more than 30 downtown Elkhart stakeholders held a rally Friday afternoon to keep Elkhart County courts downtown (Jorgensen, Elkhart Truth). Roberson encouraged residents, attorneys, business owners and others he said would be affected to call their county council members and commissioners and ask them to reconsider downtown Elkhart, after Commissioner Mike Yoder has said a new consolidated courthouse will be located on the outskirts of either Goshen or Elkhart, moving courts away from both city centers. County Council is scheduled to decide Nov. 14 on one of two locations along C.R. 17.

     

    INDIANAPOLIS: 3 HOSPITALS CALL RACISM PUBLIC HEALTH THREAT - Three of Central Indiana’s largest health systems want people to know racism is a preventable public health crisis (Indianapolis Recorder). In a joint statement, the presidents and chief executive officers of Community Health Network, Eskenazi Health and Indiana University Health said they want to go on record to pledge to do more to end health disparities and inequity in minority communities, calling systemic racism a public health crisis.  “Most of health is determined by things that have nothing to do with what we do in health care,” Eskenazi Health CEO Dr. Lisa Harris said. “It’s about opportunities, food, access to good nutrition to safe places to exercise.”  The leaders said social and economic inequities, including social impediments of health, such as poverty, inadequate housing, criminal justice bias, food deserts, joblessness and violence, contribute to health inequities in Hoosier Black and Latino communities.  “It’s not just our job to take care of people when they’re sick, but that it’s really our job to help them stay well,” said Dennis Murphy, president and CEO of IU Health.

     

    SOUTH BEND: PLAGIARISM IN SCHOOL BOARD RACE - South Bend Community School Corp. board Vice President Leslie Wesley admitted Saturday that a Viewpoint column recently published in The Tribune submitted in her name was plagiarized from a school board candidate in California, saying it was done by a campaign staffer without her knowledge (South Bend Tribune). Wesley said she discovered it early Saturday morning after someone posted on a local Facebook page that most of Wesley’s piece matched word-for-word one that Jane Chon, candidate for a San Marino, Calif. school board seat, had published in 2018 in the San Marino Tribune. Wesley said she had dictated what she wanted the staffer, who she said had been writing things for her since her first election in 2016, to write for the Viewpoint. When she read it before submitting to The Tribune, she thought it accurately captured her views.

     

    PORTER COUNTY: MORGAN TWP SCHOOLS GO TO VIRTUAL LEARNING - After seeing coronavirus cases significantly climb, Morgan Township Middle School/High School students will be temporarily pausing from in-person classes (Ortiz, NWI Times). On Saturday, Morgan Township Schools Superintendent Aaron Case sent a letter to parents and staff about the school’s learning plan. “Recently you have been informed of several positive cases of COVID-19 at Morgan Township,” Case said. “In an effort to further protect our students and staff, and after conferring with the Porter County Health Department, we have made the decision to shift Morgan Township Middle School/High School to virtual learning for the next two weeks.” Currently, Morgan Township has a total of 63 positive reported cases and zero deaths, according to the Porter County Health Department.

     

    BROWN COUNTY: MASKLESS CROWDS INVADE TOWN - It’s peak tourism season in Brown County. Thousands flock to the area to enjoy the state park, the shops and, of course, the fall foliage. But this year it’s all happening under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic (Hale, Indiana Public Media). And visitors continue to pack the town of Nashville despite the state’s recommendation to avoid crowds – and frustration from some of the business owners. “We come down and stay about four or five days in the campground here,” says Amy Ledbetter, a visitor from Hamilton county. “The kids love it. We come down with friends. And they can just run around. It’s safe, and you don’t have to worry about them. Sit by the campfire and just enjoy time together.” “Yeah, people have been excited to get out, enjoy the nice weather. Covid has really put a damper on people getting to spend time outside their houses” says Tanner Schoolcraft, a street photographer who spends weekends offering to take photos of passersby. Schoolcraft wears a mask, unlike many visitors here.

     

    KOSCIUSKO COUNTY: 14 GRADUATE JAIL ADDICTION PROGRAM - The Jail Chemical Addiction Program or JCAP at the Kosciusko County Jail is in its second year of providing an all-encompassing rehabilitation (WSBT-TV). It’s a program geared toward helping addicts recover and grow while behind bars. After eight months in the program, the next group is celebrating its graduation. Today, 14 more people reached the finish line. Like a puzzle, these men and women need all the pieces in their life to fit together to succeed when life outside of jail begins. JCAP provides different volunteer-based programs to give them that chance-- a chance that had to be put on pause in March.

  • EVANSVILLE: CITY HOSPITALS BRACE FOR COVID SURGE - For the staff at Ascension St. Vincent, preparation is essential when so much is unpredictable during the era of COVID-19. Dr. Heidi Dunniway with Ascension St. Vincent says they have plenty of space for an influx of patients. However, if hospital officials become overwhelmed, they have certain areas that can help accommodate (WFIE-TV). “We have areas in the ER that regularly care for those patients, so there’s not the unusual there," Dr. Dunniway said. “There are areas in the surgical and preoperative areas as well that routinely care for critically ill patients." While spacing is one thing, staffing is another. Dr. Dunniway says much of their staff is ready to adapt and change when needed. “We have cross-trained a lot of staff during this process," she said. “That actually started early in the pandemic. It was something that we all worked on and anticipated that people may need to step out of their usual roles, and so we wanted to prepare everyone as much as possible for that."

     

    MICHIGAN CITY: BLOOD SHORTAGE - Franciscan Health Michigan City will host a blood drive Friday amid a serious shortage (Pete, NWI Times). The blood drive will take place from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday in the Blessed Maria Theresia Bonzel Community Room at the hospital at 3500 Franciscan Way in Michigan City. Donations go to scores of hospitals across Indiana and Illinois. Versiti Blood Center of Indiana, the primary blood supplier to Franciscan Health, said supplies have dropped to critically low levels across the state. “The current blood supply in the U.S. is critically low and most of the country’s blood centers are reporting a significant decline in blood collection,” said Dr. Dan Waxman, vice president of transfusion medicine and senior medical officer at Versiti. “In Indiana, the state’s blood supply has dropped to a critically low level, with less than a day’s supply of life-saving blood on shelves to supply Versiti’s more than 80 hospital partners throughout the state.” 

     

    GARY: INDICTMENT OF EX-MAYOR'S CONFIDANT DELAYED — For a third time now, federal prosecutors have agreed to hold off formally indicting Mary Cossey, a former Gary city employee, in her federal bankruptcy fraud case (Cross, NWI Times). Cossey, a serial filer in bankruptcy court from Munster, was charged Aug. 4 with one count of wire fraud. She is a close confidant to former Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. Cossey was scheduled to be arraigned Friday, but U.S. prosecutors instead on Monday filed a request for an extension to allow time for a possible pre-indictment resolution of the matter."

     

    PERU: JUNIOR HIGH TO CONSOLIDATE WITH HIGH SCHOOL – Peru Community Schools is moving forward with consolidating its junior high classes into the high school building, in a move administrators say will allow for better programming and help offset declining enrollment (Kokomo Tribune). The Peru School Board last month narrowly approved the project with a 4-3 vote to move seventh- and eighth-grade classes into the high school and close down the current junior high building, located just behind the high school. Superintendent Sam Watkins said no decision has been made yet on what to do with the junior high building once it’s vacant.

     

    BEDFORD: HS CANCELS REST OF FOOTBALL SEASON DUE TO COVID - The high school football playoffs begin this weekend, but Bedford North Lawrence won’t be taking part this year (Indiana Public Media). Due to positive cases of COVID-19 at the school, the Stars cancelled the remainder of their football season Wednesday. BNL was scheduled to play New Albany in its Class 5A Sectional 16 opener on Oct. 30. Class 5A and 6A schools have a bye week built into the postseason, while Classes 1A-4A begin play this weekend. “In order to provide the safest environment possible, (we) feel that our best option is to cancel the remainder of the high school football season,” the school said in a release posted on Facebook. BNL finishes its season 2-7, and New Albany automatically advances to the next round of the playoffs.

     

    PORTAGE: SNYDER WILL HAVE NEW TRIAL - Former Portage Mayor James Snyder lost his bid to dismiss a second trial on a federal bribery charge against him (Ross, NWI Times). U.S. District Court Judge Theresa Springmann ruled Thursday a second trial for Snyder doesn’t amount to double jeopardy, which the U.S. Constitution prohibits. Springmann had canceled a jury trial that was to have begun last April to give Snyder’s defense team and federal prosecutors time to make their arguments on whether the new trial should go forward. Snyder was indicted Nov. 17, 2016, on a string of charges, including using his office as mayor to steer $1.125 million in city contracts for automated garbage trucks to a Portage trucking firm and then seeking and receiving $13,000 from the firm’s former owners in return.

     

    SOUTH BEND: CITY, PD UNION ANNOUNCE 9% PAY HIKE — City leaders and the police union announced a tentative agreement Thursday that would give the majority of South Bend officers an almost 9% pay increase as part of a new union contract (Mazurek, South Bend Tribune). The announcement comes as the South Bend Police Department continues to experience a shortage of officers with 224 current officers on the force out of a budgeted strength of 243. “Regardless of pay, we as a department are committed to excellence and we’re committed to be a national leader in 21st century policing, and to do so, we need to have competitive salaries,” South Bend Mayor James Mueller said. “That’s what this contract would set us up to do, is get more competitive and to have those salaries to retain and attract our talented officers.”

     

    LAKE COUNTY: COUNCIL TAKES DATA PROCESSING AWAY FROM COMMISSIONERS - The Lake County Council agreed Wednesday to take control of a second county department away from the Lake County Commissioners (Carden, NWI Times). The Democratic-controlled council voted 5-1 in favor of an ordinance, proposed by Councilman Christian Jorgensen, R-St. John, that would put data processing under the council's authority, as provided by a long-ignored 1981 Indiana statute. Jorgensen did not speak on the proposal prior to the final council vote that saw only Councilman Dan Dernulc, R-Highland, vote no. Councilwoman Christine Cid, D-East Chicago, was absent.

     

    ELKHART COUNTY: COVID RECORD SET THURSDAY - Elkhart County and the state both broke their one-day record for new COVID-19 cases Thursday (Jorgensen, Elkhart Truth). Statewide, 2,873 new cases were recorded Wednesday and reported Thursday. The previous record, set last Friday, was 2,487. Elkhart County topped 200 cases in a day for the first time Wednesday with 229 new cases. The previous record, set last Wednesday, was 147. The new tally pushed the county’s seven-day average up to 121 cases per day, which is also a new high. Three more Elkhart County residents have died from COVID-19, the Indiana State Department of Health reported Thursday. That makes the local death tally 135. In the last 30 days, 26 Elkhart County residents have died from COVID-19.

     

    WAYNE COUNTY: OFFICIALS WARN OF COVID SPIKE - One by one, local government officials, health professionals, community leaders and small business owners spoke Thursday from the front of the Council/Commissioners Chambers at the Wayne County Administration Building (Truitt, Richmond Palladium-Item). They shared the details of new pandemic-related restrictions being put in place and warned that more draconian measures still could come if the novel coronavirus can't be brought to heel. They walked through the statistics that outline the county's growing COVID-19 problem and the record toll it has taken so far this month in human lives. They shared stories of the impact the virus already has had on them and the community and talked about what still might come if the spread isn't dramatically slowed. But most of all, they pleaded with their fellow residents to take action and abide by the guidelines that health professionals have told us for months are our only real tools for fighting back.

     

    STEUBEN COUNTY: COVID SURGE CONTINUES - Steuben County continues to see increases in its COVID-19 cases (KPC News). In the weekly demographic report prepared by the Steuben County Health Department, it showed an increase of 72 case for the week ending Wednesday, bringing the county’s total to 612 cases since the pandemic began. The previous weekly increase was 71 cases. The greatest single increase was among people ages 20-29 where there were 30 cases logged in one week’s time. There are now 150 people in this age group who have contracted COVID-19. “Steuben County has a total of 612 COVID-19 positive cases, 372 individuals considered recovered and 8 deaths associated with COVID-19,” said Alicia van Ee, the Health Department’s chief environmental specialist. “The Steuben County Health Department was notified one of the COVID-19 positive cases resulting in a death recently reported was not associated with Steuben County as primary county of residence and was transferred out resulting in the number of deaths associated with COVID-19 to be reported as eight total.”

     

    MARION COUNTY: PROBE OF MISSING ABSENTEE BALLOTS - Marion County election officials say they’ve heard from voters concerned about long delays in receiving absentee ballots. Hundreds say they haven’t received their ballots yet (WTHR-TV). “I feel like it’s important for everyone to vote and voice their opinion,” said 66-year-old Elizabeth Simmons. The Alabama native, an Indianapolis resident since the 1970s, has voted in every election since she was 18. This year, she requested an absentee mail-in ballot. “The middle of August and never got it,” Simmons said of when she requested her ballot. Simmons said when she called the Marion County Election Board a few weeks ago to see what happened, she was upset to learn they had mailed out her ballot the month before. “They said my ballot was mailed out to me on September 19 and I never received my ballot,” Simmons said.

     

    MARION COUNTY: SHERIFF SEEKS FUNDS FOR INMATE TREATMENT - The Marion County Sheriff’s Office went before the Indianapolis City-County Council’s Public Safety & Criminal Justice Committee seeking approval to use grants for substance abuse treatment for inmates. They are also planning to use $105,000 in special funds to lease more than 60 tasers and purchase 120 gas masks (WRTV). The money for treatment and counseling for those incarcerated comes from federal, state, and local grants. The sheriff’s office plans to use $233,596.00 for inmate care supplies, equipment tracking software, and to fund the salary of a coordinator to provide medication-assisted treatment to certain incarcerated people.

     

    ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: SEHRIFF RECEIVES DOMESTIC VIOLENCE GRANT - The St. Joseph County Police Department will soon have a special team dedicated to handling domestic violence cases, thanks to a large grant (WSBT-TV). The executive director of the Family Justice Center says domestic violence is a public health crisis right here in our community. Sheriff Bill Redman says domestic violence calls are some of the most dangerous calls for police officers. "I assisted with the funeral preparation of the Indianapolis Metropolitan officer Breann Leath who was killed responding to a domestic violence call," said Redman. Now, the St. Joseph County Police Department will have a Domestic Violence Incident Response and Support Team that’ll be funded by a $407,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. They are one of 22 sites in the country to get this award, and the only one in Indiana.

  • INDIANAPOLIS: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROGRAM NAMED AFTER OFFICER LEATH - An initiative to reduce domestic violence named after a fallen Indianapolis police officer was announced Tuesday (IndyStar). Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Breann Leath, 24, was fatally shot while responding to a domestic violence call on April 9. On Tuesday, IMPD announced the Law Enforcement Action to Halt Domestic Violence Against Men, Women and Children, or LEATH for short. The initiative is a partnership between IMPD, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Indiana and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer Breann Leath was fatally shot while responding to a domestic disturbance call on the city's east side on  Thursday, April 9, 2020. The LEATH initiative will work to identify domestic violence offenders who are found to commit a crime with an illegally possessed gun, according to a news release. Those offenders would then be targeted for federal prosecution, which can mean harsher sentences.

     

    FORT WAYNE: COUNCIL APPROVES PATROLMAN PAY – Tuesday, Fort Wayne City Council approved the new contract for the Patrolman Benevolent Association (WANE-TV). This ordinance passed the Committee Session unanimously without out much questions from the council. This means that the Common Council approved a collective bargaining agreement for police officers represented by the Fort Wayne’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, Inc. for the year 2021. Under this new agreement, the contract is for one-year with a 3% pay increase. “I think this is a good thing for the city with one-year contract, it will put both police unions in the same schedule,” said Councilman Arp, 4th District.

     

    BUNKER HILL: CIVIL WORKERS ARRESTED AT GRISSOM – Two civil workers at Grissom Air Reserve Base face charges of theft after deputies say they stole thousands of items from the base over a 4-year period (Kokomo Tribune). Grissom security officers requested the assistance of the Miami County Sheriff’s Department last month after discovering several utility trailers and a Bobcat Skid Steer had been stolen from the base’s Contingency Equipment Management Facility. Deputies traveled to a residence in western Fulton County with a search warrant, where they discovered items from the base, including a trailer, cement mixer, air compressor and power tools, according to a release.

     

    HAMMOND: MAYOR McDERMOTT 'MAULED' BY K-9 - Watching police dog Aros lunge in the air, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. described the experience as a “fur missile” being launched his way. As the dog latched onto his arm, he was pulled to the ground with unexpected force (Ortiz,NWI Times). "I did not expect that,” McDermott said. “I am 220 pounds, I’m not small, and that dog took me down. I was impressed. I could not imagine what it would be like without the bite suit on. It shows it’s a great option to use for non-lethal force.” On Tuesday morning McDermott donned on a 100-pound bite suit and faced three of Hammond Police Department’s police dogs during training.

     

    WEST LAFAYETTE: MAYOR DENNIS JOINS LETTER TO BIG TEN - Mayors in Big Ten college communities have sent a letter to the conference urging caution before the football season (WLFI-TV). West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis was one of eleven city leaders to sign on to the letter. The letter requests the Big Ten Conference potentially cancel games if positivity rates are too high. It also discourages evening games, which it says are associated with increased community activity. Dennis says he believes West Lafayette can safely host evening games, but agrees with other points in the letter. "In spirit, I agree with it," he says. "I think that there are things that we need to do to continue to keep the lights on and keep our communities moving forward." The letter was sent after a meeting last week between the mayors of Big Ten cities.

     

    SOUTH BEND: BLM LEADER ARRESTED IN FLOYD COUNTY - A leader in the South Bend chapter of Black Lives Matter was arrested earlier this month and faces charges in Floyd County, Ind., after he allegedly interfered with police while they were trying to break up a fight between two women (South Bend Tribune). Jorden Giger, 29, is charged with disarming a police officer, a Level 5 felony, in addition to resisting law enforcement, disorderly conduct and public intoxication — all misdemeanors. The incident took place Oct. 2 in New Albany.

     

    BOONE COUNTY: COVID OUTBREAK AT NURSING HOME - A Boone County nursing home has been hit with a COVID-19 outbreak that has resulted in at least four resident deaths and at least 37 positive cases among residents and employees (IBJ). The Boone County Health Department said Tuesday that the outbreak occurred at Signature Healthcare at Parkwood, 1001 N. Grant St., in Lebanon. “A strike team from the Indiana Department of Health has been notified and is currently working with Parkwood to provide support, testing, and mitigation efforts,” the department said in a written statement. “The Boone County Health Department will continue to monitor the situation.” Signature Healthcare at Parkwood has a capacity of 138 residents, but a census report from the Indiana State Department of Health showed the facility had just 73 residents as of Jan. 1. Prior to the most recent outbreak, the facility had experienced 34 resident COVID-19 cases, five resident deaths and 23 staff cases during the pandemic, as of Oct. 7, according to the state health department.

     

    BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY: COUNCILWOMAN RESIGNS - With over two years left on her term, Laura DeDomenic has resigned from the Bartholomew County Council (Columbus Republic). The District 2 councilwoman notified council president Matt Miller late Tuesday morning that she was resigning immediately to accept a full-time job in the office of Bartholomew County Auditor Pia O’Connor, Miller said. Since the council sets salaries, nobody is allowed to simultaneously work for the county and serve on the council, Miller said.

     

    WAYNE COUNTY: SPIKE IN COVID CASES, DEATHS - October is proving to be Wayne County's grimmest stretch so far in the novel coronavirus pandemic, with four deaths since Sunday bringing the county's total death toll from COVID-19 up to 27 (Richmond Palladium-Item). Three women in their 90s and one man in his 80s have died since Sunday. All four were residents of local long-term care facilities. So far this month, Wayne County has lost 12 residents to the virus, nearly all of whom (10) were living in long-term care facilities. But transmission in the community is coming from many places, according to Dr. Thomas Huth, vice president of medical affairs at Reid Health. "We believe there are patterns with family spread, individuals connected with families who have recently been on fall break from school, also some cases linked to industrial (settings), lots of stories of connections to church groups and community events," he said.

     

    WARRICK COUNTY: EARLY VOTING TOPS 10K - Warrick County is also seeing a big turnout from early voters (WFIE-TV). Officials tell us so far, early voting has been extremely successful with the addition of two satellite locations in Newburgh and Lynville. Between the three locations, they have had over 10,000 people vote. On Election Day there will be 24 polling places In Warrick County. “Excited and happy to be able to come and vote early with no lines and machines are spread apart, socially distancing, sanitizing every machine between each voter,” said Election Board President Andrew Skinner. “So yeah, its been going really well.”

     

    MONROE COUNTY: 2021 BUDGET PASSED - The Monroe County Council approved its its 2021 budget Tuesday night. Council president Eric Spoonmore said this year’s budget process was especially challenging due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic (Indiana Public Media). “We wanted to make sure that we could shore up as much funding as possible to be able to prepare for future years," Spoonmore said. "And I think this budget reflects a lot of work and effort, preparing for a lot of uncertainty that we still don’t know about.” One way the council prepared for the unexpected was by allocating $3 million into the county’s rainy day fund as a financial safety net. "These are incredible times," Spoonmore said. "There's a lot of things about this budget that I'm very proud of."

  • ZIONSVILLE: COUNCIL UPHOLDS 2 MAYORAL VETOES - The Zionsville Town Council on Monday morning upheld Mayor Emily Styron’s vetoes of two ordinances that would have required her to get council approval before she could hire or fire the chief of police or the fire department (Christian,IBJ). The ordinances would have overhauled the processes for public safety board appointments, as well as police and fire personnel decisions, in Zionsville. In June, Zionsville’s administration realized the town’s police and fire safety boards had never been officially codified as the bodies responsible for exercising disciplinary powers over their respective departments. Earlier this month, when the town council considered official recognition of the boards, it passed an ordinance that gave the council power to appoint three of its own members to the five-person body. Styron vetoed the action and asked the council to reconsider the language, saying she was afforded those powers—and more—by state law. “We can draft ordinances that will not force us into litigation,” Styron said. “If this goes to litigation, it will be incredibly costly for this town. It does not need to be the next step.”

     

    FISHERS: COUNCIL OKs $10M INCENTIVES - The Fishers City Council on Monday approved more than $10 million in financial incentives for a new life sciences manufacturing facility and a mixed-use neighborhood near the downtown (Christian, IBJ). The council unanimously approved two economic development deals that are expected to lead to a combined $96 million in investment. Newly formed INCog Biopharma Services Inc. is poised to receive $3.7 million in tax abatements and fee waivers to help build a planned $60 million biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility in the city. Meanwhile, Hageman Group and J.C. Hart, the developers behind a proposed $36 million neighborhood near the downtown, also secured early approvals for a tax abatement worth up to $6.1 million.

     

    CARMEL: COUNCIL APPROVES BUDGET - The Carmel City Council voted to approve the $110 million 2021 budget on Monday by an 8-1 vote (Lange, IndyStar). Only council member Tony Green voted against it, arguing that the city should be making changes to shift more money to public safety in order to hire more police officers. He voted against the 2020 budget last year, too.  Green pointed to the record-breaking number of homicides in Indianapolis this year as proof that the city needs to start preparing by spending more on public safety now.  "At some point, that's got to spill over," he said. The budget already calls for two new police officers in 2021.

     

    EVANSVILLE: 11 MORE STUDENTS HAVE COVID - The Diocese of Evansville Catholic Education said Monday there are 11 additional positive tests for COVID-19 involving two employees and nine students from six schools (WFIE-TV). This brings the total to 92 students and 23 staff members who have had positive tests.

     

    VALPARAISO: SCHOOL DISTRICT SHIFTS TO VIRTUAL FORMAT — Washington Township schools in the East Porter County School Corp. have temporarily suspended in-person learning following "several" reports of COVID-19. Administrators first informed Washington Township Middle/High School families of a move to virtual learning in an email and phone call Oct. 14. Two days later, Washington Township Elementary families received a similar call (Lanich, NWI Times). Middle and high school students began virtual learning on Oct. 15. These students are expected to return to brick-and-mortar learning Oct. 29, said Wendy Kulczyk, director of business affairs and HR for the East Porter County School Corp.

     

    PORTAGE: RULING EXPECTED IN EX-MAYOR CASE - Former Republican Portage Mayor James Snyder should know by Saturday whether his request to dismiss a remaining federal bribery charge will be granted or whether he will need to prepare for another trial in his ongoing public corruption case (Kasarda, NWI Times). The deadline was set by U.S. District Court Judge Theresa Springmann, who heard arguments in August on Snyder's claim that a retrial of the bribery charge would violate his constitutional protection against being tried twice for the same crime. The defense argues prosecutorial gamesmanship that resulted in important defense witnesses not testifying in Snyder’s first trial last year caused U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Van Bokkelen to overturn a jury’s 2019 guilty verdict on allegations Snyder solicited bribes from a Portage truck dealership.

     

    VIGO COUNTY: HEAVY EARLY VOTE CONTINUES - More than 16,000 Vigo County voters have cast an absentee ballot in early voting (Greninger,Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Through Friday, Oct. 16, there were 16,588 absentee ballots casts, said LeAnna Moore, chief deputy clerk. "It is [going] exceptionally well. This is over the top good," Moore said Monday. "We are having about 1,100 to 1,500 voters a day since we opened vote centers," Moore said. Vigo County has 73,495 registered voters, according to the Vigo County Voter Registration Office. That means more than 22 percent of registered voters have cast a ballot so far.

     

    PORTER COUNTY: CRIMINAL CASE A HOT POTATO - The official misconduct felony case against former Democratic Portage Clerk-Treasurer Chris Stidham has been a bit of a hot potato among county judges (NWI Times). After Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary DeBoer recused herself in September over a past confrontation with the accused, the case was transferred to Porter Superior Court Judge Roger Bradford pending his acceptance.But Bradford declined the case later that month citing his upcoming retirement at the end of the year, according to court documents. The case was then randomly assigned to Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer, who accepted it earlier this month, documents show. The first hearing in that courtroom is scheduled for 10 a.m. Nov. 16. Stidham, 37, a former mayoral candidate of Portage, faces a felony count alleging he misused his position as the city’s top fiscal officer in 2015 and 2016 to illegally pay $70,000 in city funds to companies registered to his then-girlfriend and current wife, Rachel E. Glass.

     

    ALLEN COUNTY: CONTACT TRACERS SPREAD THIN - Allen County's top defenses against the spread of COVID-19 are straining to keep pace with an increasing number of new cases (LeBlanc, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter told the board of health during a meeting Monday that a county this size should have at least 100 contact tracers – workers who identify people who might have come into contact with an infected person. Allen County has eight, and that number includes an additional tracer added recently to the team officials have called “small but mighty.” Mindy Waldron, Allen County Department of Health administrator, said she is struggling to find ways to rest contact tracers who so far have investigated nearly 8,000 cases since the pandemic took hold in northeast Indiana early this year. “The big news in the past week and a half is we've had a big increase in cases,” Sutter said. “The current caseload is putting a big strain on us.”

     

    ALLEN COUNTY: HEALTH COMMISSIONER'S COVID WARNING - Allen County's health commissioner says he is concerned with the record high number of increased COVID-19 cases across the state and county (WPTA-TV). "We started to see this after labor day we think as people start to relax and maybe not be quite as cautious and with the cold weather--spending more time indoors," Dr. Matthew Sutter said. Dr. Sutter says Allen County's cases are rapidly increasing. He compares the rise to a speedometer when a car is accelerating. According to a map from the Indiana State Department of Health, Allen County is orange which means we're seeing 100 to 199 new cases per 100,000 residents a week.

     

    POSEY COUNTY: COMMISSIONERS EYE COVID RESTRICTIONS - Officials in Posey County are meeting to discuss how they can increase the safety of people in the community as COVID-19 continues to spread. Commissioners in Posey County are expected to vote on new restrictions when it comes to COVID-19 and keeping everyone safe (WFIE-TV). Overnight, the health department reported five new cases of coronavirus and says the country currently has 208 active cases. They have had five people die from the virus since it has hit the community. This is why the commissioners believe new restrictions should go into place to help bring those numbers back down. They could vote Tuesday morning to limit all gatherings in the county down to 150 people.

  • INDIANAPOLIS: CITY TO SPEND $3M ON ANTI-CRIME PROGRAM — This year, the City of Indianapolis has dedicated approximately $3 million to community crime prevention grants (CBS4). While overall violent crime was down significantly throughout the city during the first nine months of this year, IMPD has recorded more than 190 homicides, streaking past Indianapolis’ previous annual record on the way to more than 225 killings in 2020. Now, city leaders are set to make another seven figure investment in the community fight against crime. The City-County Council has approved $1,337,500 to be split unevenly among 25 council districts in targeted community crime prevention programs chosen by councilors with input from residents. “I think we need to acknowledge what does not work in reducing violence,” said Council President Vop Osili. “Blaming each other does not work. Staying in our silos does not work. The status quo does not work.”

     

    LAKE STATION: CITY HALL CLOSED DUE TO COVID CASE — City Hall will be closed until Thursday morning for deep cleaning after an employee tested positive for COVID-19, according to a Facebook post by Mayor Bill Carroll (NWI Times). The city was making arrangements to have City Hall employees tested, he said. All other city services will continue as scheduled.

     

    BLACKFORD COUNTY: AD, COACH BATTLE COVID — On Friday, Aug. 28, Blackford High School’s athletic director and baseball coach, Tony Uggen was getting ready to leave for a football game at Eastern High School when he started coughing (WANE-TV). “I jokingly yelled out to my secretary that ‘I’ve got COVID. I’m going to be out for two weeks,'” said Uggen. “She said something back like ‘oh heck, you’re not.'” Little did he know that once he got home from that game later that night, he’d find out his stepson tested positive for the virus. “I had just went to the game with a 70-year-old and two 80-year-old’s in the same car so my first thought was if my stepson has it, I probably got it and I probably just gave it to them,” said Uggen.

  • EVANSVILLE: WINNECKE OPPOSES COUNTY COVID RESTRICTIONS FOR NOW - The Vanderburgh County Health Board has voted to recommend tough new restrictions to stop of the recent surge of COVID-19 cases. However, Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke tells 14 News that he will not act on those recommendations at this time ((WFIE-TV). Instead, Mayor Winnecke said the city will proceed with his executive order, which takes effect Monday. In a virtual meeting on Thursday afternoon, the Vanderburgh County Health Board voted to recommend social gatherings and indoor sporting events with no more than 50 people. The board is also recommending 50% capacity for bars and restaurants. Bars would also be required to close at midnight. The mayor’s executive order requires that any social gathering over 125 people must be approved by the Vanderburgh County Health Department. Mayor Winnecke says the data he’s received from the state does not support restrictions on bars and restaurants at this time.

     

    LAFAYETTE: PD OFFICER FIRED FOR NEO-NAZI CHAT — Lafayette Police Department shared Saturday that one of their recruit officers has been terminated after learning that he participated in a Neo-Nazi internet chat forum (WTHR-TV). Lafayette PD said they were "tagged" in a tweet that contained information specifically identifying a recruit officer, Joseph Zacharek, as a person who participated in a Neo-Nazi internet chat forum known as Iron March in 2016. The department said they immediately opened an investigation with their Internal Affairs Division to determine if the information was credible and they found that it was accurate. "Officer Zacharek’s comments were not in harmony with the spirit of cooperation and inclusion in the community that the Lafayette Police Department values," the department wrote in a release.

     

    INDIANAPOLIS: 2ND INMATE MURDERED IN JAIL - IMPD is conducting a death investigation after a Marion County Jail inmate was found dead overnight (WTHR-TV). The Sheriff's Office identified the dead man as James Smith, 51, who is from Sullivan County. Smith was found unresponsive early Saturday morning, Oct. 17, and pronounced dead by medics just after 1 a.m. according to a statement released by the jail. The cause of death appears to be an inmate-on-inmate stabbing with an improvised weapon, according jail authorities. The Marion County Coroner’s Office and county crime lab will work to determine an official cause of death. Smith had been transferred to multiple housing locations for using racially-charged language toward fellow inmates. according to the jail's report of the incident. He had been assigned to a single cell before he died.

     

    BLOOMINGTON: KIRKWOOD CLOSURES EXPANDED - Bloomington is expanding the Kirkwood Avenue closure to motor traffic from a weekend event to an everyday occurrence (Indiana Public Media). The closure started as a pilot program in mid-June to allow downtown restaurants to offer safer outdoor dining for patrons during the coronavirus pandemic. Mayor John Hamilton said that service will now be 24/7 from now until Dec. 31. “We’ve been working very closely with the merchants’ association to close those [streets] to allow them to continue to use outdoor space through the end of the year,” Hamilton said. “And that lets them invest in a little more infrastructure.”

     

    MICHIGAN CITY: BEACH CLOSURE HAS MERCHANTS REELING - Michigan City has an outlet mall, a casino, a gaggle of arts galleries and a cluster of air compressor factories. But at its heart, the lakefront city in LaPorte County is a beach town (Pete, NWI Times). Now's the time of year when the crowds no longer flock to the Lake Michigan beachfront for surf and sun. Many businesses — especially downtown — shorten their hours, lighten their staff and even close up on more days of the week. But Michigan City businesses that rely heavily on the annual seasonal influx of out-of-town visitors saw tourism never got to have a beach season this year. The beach was closed much of the summer or restricted to just LaPorte County residents to limit the spread of the coronavirus that's killed more than 215,000 Americans so far this year. Michigan City merchants reported big drop-offs in business, seeing revenue fall by as much as 70% without the usual beach crowds.

     

    GARY: SANITARY DISTRICT PROPOSES TRASH FEE HIKE — The Sanitary District is seeking approval for a significant garbage collection rate hike — a move the district says is critical to pay down finance-straining debt, pay Republic Services what it's owed and continue cleanup services (Cross, NWI Times). Tony Walker, sanitary district attorney, said GSD has long used funds — arguably restricted for wastewater treatment — to cover its deficit, including payments to Republic Services for trash collection. “This is a deficit they’ve been carrying annually and part of the commitment that Mayor (Jerome) Prince made coming into office in January was that he was going to be serious about balancing the city’s budgets, not running a deficit, and being fiscally responsible,” Walker said. “We want to be aligning our expenses with our revenue.”

     

    PORTAGE: COUNCIL TO BORROW $5M TO PAY PAST-DUE BILLS — The City Council is planning to borrow up to $5.35 million to get caught up on past-due bills, finish projects and help with cash flow. Clerk-Treasurer Nina Rivas, who took office in January, said the city has been hit with a series of “surprise bills” from previous years (Ross, NWI Times). “We’re working on bank reconcilements going back to 2017,” she told the City Council last week. “I’ve been working with the State Board of Accounts to clean up an erroneous equipment lease fund that’s got $1 million in it that’s not really there.”

  • KOKOMO: CITY MAKES VIDEO PITCH FOR PD OFFICERS - The city of Kokomo is ramping up its recruitment efforts of police officers (Juranovich,Kokomo Tribune). The city launched a website Wednesday and began airing a TV commercial in the Indianapolis and South Bend areas this week asking for applicants to become an officer of the Kokomo Police Department and become a “valued” part of the city. The 30-second commercial features Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore, Kokomo Police Chief Doug Stout and a handful of other KPD officers and city Councilman Ray Collins, R-District 3. The commercial highlights a 20% pay raise over three years KPD officers will receive starting in 2021 after the city approved a new union contract with the Fraternal Order of Police Local 78 this past summer. It also takes a jab at cities that enacted or considered policies to “defund the police.”

     

    INDIANAPOLIS: 'SIGNIFICANT' COVID INCREASE - Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine says there has been a “significant and steady increase” in the number of positive cases of COVID-19 and hospital admissions. However, the city of Indianapolis will not be making changes to the city’s current orders (Inside Indiana Business). Caine says the seven-day average positivity rate for Marion County is 5%, but hospitalizations are trending in the wrong direction. “We are not going to move back just yet. We would like to monitor maybe one or two more weeks to get a feel for this a trend (to see if) that's going to continue, albeit it's slowly increasing, but we really are keeping our eye on it,” said Caine. She says closing hours for restaurants and bars in Marion County will remain at midnight for now. Three weeks ago, the administration eased restriction which allowed for more capacity at entertainment venues., but it kept an early closing in place.

     

    INDIANAPOLIS: HOGSETT SAYS 'BOO' TO HALLOWEEN ACTIVITIES - Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine gave an update Thursday on the city’s coronavirus response including Halloween guidelines (CBS4). Hogsett announced Marion County’s current coronavirus mitigation efforts will stay in place and asked residents to avoid face-to-face trick or treating and indoor Halloween gatherings.

     

    SOUTH BEND: MUELLER EYES COVID ENFORCEMENT - Businesses and even individuals who live in St. Joseph County can expect a crackdown on enforcing coronavirus restrictions and guidelines from city and county leaders (WIBC). South Bend Mayor James Mueller and Dr. Mark Fox with the county health department said in their regular press briefing on the coronavirus in the county Thursday that they will not be ramping up or rolling back any new restrictions. However, Fox said with the recent rise in people going to the hospital with COVID in St. Joseph County along with a higher number of people testing positive, they have to take measures to make sure everyone in the county is following the rules. “We will be issuing abatement orders for any business that is creating unsafe conditions,” Fox said. “Businesses are a part of it but it’s ultimately individual responsibility and behavior.” A point mirrored by Mayor Mueller. “We’ve seen a big spike in the last couple weeks to the highest level we’ve seen all year,” Mueller said. “This is going to be individuals making decisions. There’s no data right now to suggest it’s coming from bars or churches or different events.”

     

    ELKHART COUNTY: NEW COVID RECORD SET - For the second time in eight days, Elkhart County has broken its record for new COVID-19 cases, leading health officials to issue a warning to the public about taking the virus more seriously (Jorgensen, Elkhart Truth). There were 152 new cases of COVID-19 recorded in the county Wednesday and reported Thursday by the Indiana State Department of Health. The previous high, which was set a week earlier, was 128. Before that, the high was 112 on June 17. The seven-day average of new cases is 89 per day, which is worse than at any point during the first wave in the county, when the highest average was 78.

     

    FORT WAYNE: NCAA DIVISION III FINALS COMMIT TO CITY — Fort Wayne will host the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Final Four for several more years (WANE-TV). The NCAA on Thursday announced that Manchester University, the Memorial Coliseum and Visit Fort Wayne will host the tournament through 2026. The previous agreement, signed in 2017, was through 2022. “It is an honor to have been awarded the bid to host the NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Final Four through 2026!” said Manchester Athletics Office Manager and Tittle IX & Eligibility Coordinator Tami Hoagland. “The event we hosted in 2019 was highly praised by the participants and spectators, and the 2020 event would have surely met the same standards.”

     

    GOSHEN: COUNCIL VOTES FOR $330K IN STAFF BONUSES — Some Goshen councilmen are uneasy with a bonus proposed for city staff members to thank them for their work during a public health crisis (Elkhart Truth). Goshen Common Council on Tuesday voted 4-1 in favor of giving up to $330,000 in bonuses to city staff members. Another councilman voted “present” and the seventh member was absent.

     

    MARION COUNTY: PANDEMIC RULES REMAIN UNCHANGED - Marion County will keep its current pandemic rules in place, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Thursday afternoon at a virtual news conference (IndyStar). "While our numbers have not worsened, now is not the time to throw away all of the hard work that we've been doing together," Hogsett said. The announcement by the leader of Indiana's most heavily populated city and county came one day after Gov. Eric. Holcomb announced the state would also stay in its current phase of reopening, despite record highs in new coronavirus cases and an increase in hospitalized patients. Marion County's seven-day positivity rate is slightly lower than the state's: 5.1% compared to 5.4%.Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine said the city's positivity rate is slowly trending downward or plateauing.

     

    LAKE COUNTY: HIGGS FIRED FOR ALLEGED SEXUAL ADVANCES -  Longtime Region public official Anthony Higgs has been fired from his county job managing the Hammond courthouse for allegedly stalking and making sexual advances toward a male co-worker while on the government clock. That's according to a county memo issued Tuesday, and obtained by the NWI Times Thursday. The memo, written by county attorney Matthew Fech to the Lake County Commissioners, outlines the basis for Higgs' termination as building manager in Hammond. Higgs could not immediately be reached for comment by phone Thursday afternoon.

     

    ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: EARLY BALLOTING SURPASSES 30K -  With a little more than two weeks to go until Election Day, the number of early ballots already cast in St. Joseph County surpasses early vote numbers seen in the fall of 2016 (South Bend Tribune). As of Thursday, more than 30,000 early votes had been cast in the county, compared with just over 25,800 total early votes cast in the last presidential general election.

     

    ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: RECORD COVID CASES - St. Joseph County’s seven-day rolling average of new COVID-19 infections and the number of active cases were at all-time highs Thursday since the pandemic began as the average number of cases also are spiking statewide (South Bend Tribune). The county’s 110 cases per day average topped the former record of 108.4 cases on Aug. 23. Moreover, there are 1,338 active coronavirus cases in the county, also a record. The former high-water mark for active cases in the county was on Aug. 29, when there were 1,261 active cases. Both former records were related to the spike in the coronavirus cluster at the University of Notre Dame. Indiana health officials also confirmed 28 more COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, and the state’s seven-day rolling average of new cases of the respiratory disease has doubled in three weeks. The Health Department’s daily update showed Indiana’s seven-day rolling average of newly confirmed COVID-19 infections reached 1,653 as of Wednesday. That number, up from 825 new cases on Sept. 24, is the highest level the state has seen during the pandemic.

  • EVANSVILLE: COUNCIL PASSES BUDGET -  Evansville City Council approves the 2021 budget in a 6-3 vote Monday. This comes only days after Council President Alex Burton announced a withdraw of his proposed amendment to the budget that would consider moving money from the police department. In the process, a push to reduce city funding given to affordable housing failed (WFIE-TV). The pushing of the horn was an effort to persuade council members not to cut funding from the affording housing trust fund. Several cars circled the building ahead of the meeting with signs on their vehicles. Council members Jonathan Weaver and Justin Elpers sponsored what would have scaled down the allocation in half; from $500,000 to $250,000. “Everybody keeps saying ‘put money in this account, put money in this account’ but what is the plan?” questioned Missy Mosby. About half a dozen people showed up to the meeting to share their concerns if the funding were to be slashed. Just under a quarter-million dollars remains in the affording house fund now, according to Metropolitan Development Director Kelley Coures, Elpers pointed out the city is expecting about a 28% decrease from Casino revenue, which adds up to more than $3 million, because of the changes the business has had to make during the pandemic. Therefore, numerous city departments, such as police, fire, METS and the Mesker Zoo will be given fewer dollars.

     

    SOUTH BEND: POLICE REFORMS PROGRESS - With the July adoption of an officer discipline matrix and last week’s enactment of a common council bill creating a community police review board, the Mayor James Mueller administration will next focus on finalizing a new use-of-force policy, increasing de-escalation training for officers and establishing better mental health support for officers who undergo especially difficult situations on duty, Mueller’s chief of staff told council members Monday afternoon (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). Kacey Gergely gave the council’s Public Safety Committee an update on the administration’s progress in implementing recommendations from Chicago-based policing consultant 21st Century Policing, or “21CP.” Mueller’s predecessor, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, hired the high-profile firm in August 2019, two months after former officer Sgt. Ryan O’Neill fatally shot Eric Logan in a downtown parking lot as Logan allegedly was burglarizing cars and came at O’Neill with a knife.

     

    JASPER: POLICE GET DEFIBRILLATORS - The Jasper Police Department says they have received a grant for $27,600 from a partnership of donors to provide all police cars with Automatic Defibrillators (WFIE-TV). They say the partnership will put life saving devices all over this community. They will be in neighborhoods, at sporting events, stores, and many other places where officers take their vehicles during normal patrols. Police thank The Dubois County Community Foundation; Fund for Dubois County and Bill Fleck Legacy Endowment ($27,600.00), James and Patricia Thyen ($10,000.00), and Victory Assembly of God ($1,500.00).

     

    COLUMBUS: CITY BUDGETS FOR HIGHER HEALTH CARE COSTS - Columbus is budgeting for higher employee health care costs in 2021 and will be passing some of that cost on to its employees (Columbus Republic). The city’s 2021 budget includes a $350,000 increase in the cost insurance benefits funding due to rising health care costs. The city council passed the budget on its first reading on Oct. 6 with second reading set for Oct. 20. Health insurance premiums for city employees will increase by 6.2%, according to calculations provided by Johnson and Associates, a benefits consulting firm advising the city on insurance matters. “To maintain proper funding, Johnson and Associates has recommended a 6.2% increase, and so that’s what we’ve budgeted for on the city side, as well as for employees on their share of the premiums,” City Finance Director Jamie Brinegar said.

     

    ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: COUNCIL DEFEATS MASK FINES 5-4 - A nearly six-hour meeting ended with a narrow vote to hold off on a plan to allow fines for violations of the county’s face mask order (Spaulding, South Bend Tribune). St. Joseph County Council members voted 5-4 Tuesday night to table the proposed ordinance for a month pending a deeper dive into questions opponents raised and the possibility of an advisory opinion from the state on the measure’s constitutionality. County Health Officer Dr. Robert Einterz first proposed the ordinance in July to give the health department a way to compel businesses to adhere to a local public health order for residents to wear face coverings to curb spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The department would be able to issue fines of between $50 and $250 to businesses not enforcing the mask order among employees.

     

    ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: OFFICIALS SEEKS STOP IN IN-PERSON CHURCH SERVICES - St. Joseph County health officers are asking faith centers to end in-person worship and move to virtual services through March as COVID-19 cases continue to rise (South Bend Tribune). In a letter sent to churches and other houses of worship Tuesday, the county’s top public health leaders, Robert Einterz and Mark Fox, said avoiding large gatherings as people move indoors during the flu season will help lessen the spread of the coronavirus. “With the arrival of cooler weather and the traditional influenza season looming on the horizon, we write this letter to urge all faith communities in St. Joseph County to pivot to online or virtual worship formats from now through March 2021,” the letter said. In an interview, Fox said contact tracing conducted by the Indiana Department of Health on people who have tested positive for COVID-19 revealed five clusters of cases among those who had attended services in St. Joseph County.

     

    LaPORTE COUNTY: CSX TO CONNECT TO INDUSTRIAL PARK - Kingsbury Industrial Park will finally be served by a major rail line (Maddux, NWI Times). Efforts lasting more than a decade paid off last week when the LaPorte County Commissioners approved a contract for connecting the park to the CSX railroad. Eventually, the plan is to connect the park to another major trunk line owned by Canadian National railroad. The hope is two Class 1 railroads serving both ends of the park will attract major industries. “It’s been a long, long haul. We’re glad to see it at this stage,” said LaPorte County Commission president Sheila Matias. The work is being assisted by a $1 million grant from the Indiana Economic Development Corp.

     

    DELAWARE COUNTY: COVID SPIKE CONCERNS OFFICIALS – Health officials in Delaware County say they’re concerned over an increase in local hospitalizations due to COVID-19 (McKinny, WRTV). Delaware County Health Department Administrator Jammie Bane said the caseload and severity of illnesses in east central Indiana were manageable, but that’s started to change. "We’re seeing some changes to this now, with single digit hospitalization numbers in the past to numbers approaching 50 at some points now,” she said.

     

    LAKE COUNTY: $225M BUDGET APPROVED BY COUNCIL - The Lake County Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to adopt a $255 million spending plan for 2021 (Carden, NWI Times). County spending is slated to increase approximately 2% next year compared to this year, and most county employees in 2021 will receive a 3% pay raise, according to Scott Schmal, the council's finance director. At the same time, the budget is balanced by spending slightly less money than the county expects to collect in income taxes, property taxes, fees and other revenue, Schmal said. Aside from pay raises, there are few large spending items included in the new budget after the Democratic-controlled council generally discouraged county departments from seeking any significant new appropriations for next year. That strategy is intended to minimize the chances spending cuts will be needed in the 2022 budget due to the delayed county income tax revenue impact from this year's COVID-19 shutdowns, which won't be fully known until Lake County residents file their 2020 income tax returns starting in January.

     

    ALLEN COUNTY: VOTER TURNOUT RECORD - Allen County election leaders say records are already being broken compared to four years ago (WPTA-TV). One week after early voting began, 1600 people a day are voting at the Memorial Colisem, the pandemic-prompted temporary home of the Allen County Election Board. "We're estimating at this point if this kind of turnout continues, we'll probably see somewhere in the neighborhood of 50,000 people who will take advantage of early voting," election director Beth Dlug said.

  • INDIANAPOLIS: COUNCIL PASSES $1.2B BUDGET - The Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday unanimously approved a $1.29 million budget for 2021 Mayor Joe Hogsett made the budget proposal in early August and council members have spent the past two months vetting it in various committees (IBJ). Also, in a late-Monday vote, the council approved a controversial proposal that calls for adding four civilians to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department General Orders Committee. The committee, which guides and approves department procedures, is currently made up of two members appointed by the police chief and one appointed by the police union. Republican council members said adding civilian input to the committee was a good idea, but expressed concern at the major step of putting it under civilian control. The approved budget calls for revenue and expenses that are up about $78 million from 2020’s budget. It proposes taking in $113,884 more than it spends, leading Hogsett’s administration to characterize it as the fourth consecutive balanced budget since he took office in 2016. “This balanced budget prepares for an uncertain financial future while continuing to make investments that will keep our roads paved, our neighborhoods safe, and our community moving forward,” Hogsett said in written remarks.

     

    INDIANAPOLIS: OSILI COMMENTS ON BUDGET PASSAGE - The following statement may be attributed to City-County Council President Vop Osili upon passage of the City's 2021 budget proposal (Howey Politics Indiana): "Tonight’s unanimous vote on the city’s 2021 budget is the culmination of a months-long process in which this Council, for the first time in our city’s 200-year history, centered our budget review process on considerations of equity. I am thankful to every member of this Council and to our partners in the administration who undertook a thorough examination of whether, and how, the allocation of our city’s fiscal resources impacts inequities of race, place, and identity throughout our community. Their efforts made clear that we have a long way to go, but I’m confident our collective, cooperative work has set us on the right path."

     

    INDIANAPOLIS: HOGSETT AIDE DELETES TWEET - Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett’s chief of staff tweeted and then deleted a photo on his personal Twitter account over the weekend that included an image of him flipping off the camera while the mayor eats pizza (IBJ). Thomas Cook, who has worked with Hogsett almost a decade, since the Democrat’s time as U.S. attorney, said the post was meant to be a joke among friends. And he said he deleted it when he “saw people were misinterpreting things.” The tweet was a takeoff on a meme—which is essentially a themed, viral social media post—that has been sweeping across Twitter, Facebook and other sites over the past few days. The memes feature two photos, one labeled, “How it started,” and the other “How it’s going.” In a follow-up post, he credited the photos to the mayor’s deputy chief of staff, Taylor Schaffer, whom Cook said “did approve of this tweet and all complaints should be directed to her.” That post also has been deleted.

     

    INDIANAPOLIS: MIAMI NATION THANKS COUNCILMAN - City-County Councillor Jason Larrison (District 12) offered a proclamation recognizing today as Indigenous People’s Day in Indianapolis (Howey Politics Indiana). Standing with Dr. Scott Shoemaker, who is a member of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma and curator of Native American art, history and culture at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Larrison called recognition of Indigenous People’s Day “long overdue. I would like to thank the City of Indianapolis for recognizing today as Indigenous People’s Day.”

     

    FORT WAYNE: COMMISSION APPROVES NEW ELECTRIC WORKS AGREEMENT – Two months after the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission voted to terminate an economic development agreement with the Electric Works project, the same group approved a new agreement. It was done in a 3 to 2 vote (Darby, WANE-TV). The vote on the new agreement came just days after Mayor Tom Henry announced Cincinnati based Model Group was joining RTM Ventures in transforming the former General Electric campus. Ash Brokerage’s Tim Ash also revealed he would be a new investor in the project. The new agreement pledges the same amount of public funds, $65 million, to the project and must go through another round of approval votes from public entities including Fort Wayne City Council and the Capital Improvement Board. A closing date of December 31 of this year has been set as a requirement in the new agreement.

     

    GRIFFITH: 4 BARS, TOWN OFFICE CLOSE DUE TO COVID SPIKE - Four bars in Griffith and the clerk-treasurer's office have temporarily closed in recent days because of coronavirus exposure (Pete, NWI Times). Bridge's Scoreboard Restaurant and Sports Bar, John's Place, Set 'Em Up Lanes and the American Legion all reported positive cases of coronavirus. And the town of Griffith has shut down its clerk-treasurer's office for a deep cleaning after several employees ate lunch together at one of the closed restaurants last week. The Griffith Town Hall already has been closed to the public since March except for appointments, but town employees have still been working there. "It might have spread from one of the bars to the others," Town Council President Rick Ryfa said. "We're going to be talking to the bar owners today to see what's happening and how it's occurring."

     

    HAMILTON: COVID PROMPTS SCHOOL TO GO VIRTUAL – Hamilton Community Schools announced Monday evening that it would be going virtual for the remainder of the week. This decision comes after a second grader tested positive for COVID-19 and interreacted with multiple students and teachers outside of the school (WANE-TV).

     

    MICHIGAN CITY: COUNCIL EYES $800K IN BUDGET CUTS — Michigan City’s municipal budget for 2021 was cut by approximately $110,000 last week, and could be reduced by another $700,000 at the Common Council’s Oct. 20 meeting (LaPorte County Herald-Dispatch). The council voted to eliminate paid secretary positions for the Michigan City Police Commission, Fire Commission, Tree Board and Historic Review Board.

     

    EAST CHICAGO: COUNCIL ADJUSTS PD, FD SALARIES — Although facing a possible veto from the mayor's office, the City Council has approved an ordinance adjusting salaries for police and fire personnel for 2021 (Czapkowicz, NWI Times). "The intent of the adjustments made to the police and fire salary ordinance was to return benefits to the officers that existed a decade ago when there was substantial changes made in order to protect the fiscal health of the the city," said City Council financial advisor Steve Dalton.

     

    SEYMOUR: CUMMINS TO INVEST $25M IN PLANT - Cummins Inc. has announced plans to invest more than $25 million at its Seymour Engine Plant over the next several years, a move that is expected to create and retain more than 150 jobs over the next decade (Columbus Republic). The announcement was made acknowledging the support of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the City of Seymour and Duke Energy. “After our significant investments into our manufacturing and tech center infrastructure over the last 10 years, our latest expansion decision will once again expand our ability to serve global markets and bring new products and technology from our high horsepower engine hub in Seymour,” said Norbert Nusterer, President, Power Systems Business Segment, Cummins Inc.

     

    LaPORTE: RESIDENTS CAN SELF REPORT MINOR CRIMES — Residents of LaPorte no longer need to speak directly to a police officer to file a non-emergency police report (NWI Times). A new online system launched last week enables city residents to self-report many types of less serious incidents, including theft, vandalism, identity theft, fraud, harassing phone calls and civil matters. LaPorte Police Chief Paul Brettin said the technology will help free up the city's limited number of officers to spend more time patrolling the streets. "While our officers are always happy to help the residents of our city, reporting takes a good chunk of their time each day," Brettin said.

     

    LAKE COUNTY: SCHEUB SEEKS COMEBACK - The race for 2nd District Lake County Commissioner has become a debate over the cost of county government (Dolan, NWI Times). Commissioner Jerry Tippy, a Schererville Republican, is running for reelection on in the Nov. 3 general election. To win, Tippy must defeat Crown Point Democrat Gerry Scheub, the man who held the office from 1996 to 2016. Scheub held a lock on the job for 20 years by being, what he called, the mayor of south county. He attended to maintaining and plowing south county highways and worked the sandbag line in times of Kankakee River flooding. Scheub also benefitted from a district that includes the Democratic strongholds of Merrillville and Lake Station. The Indiana General Assembly redrew the district’s boundaries further south into the county where most Republicans live and vote. It was the game changer Tippy used to beat Scheub four years ago.

     

    VERMILLION COUNTY: COVID HITS COUNTY'S ONLY HOSPITAL - There is just one hospital in western Indiana’s Vermillion County. The slender, 37-mile long county is dotted with corn and soybean fields, and driving from one end to the other would take nearly an hour. Union Hospital Clinton is small, only 25 beds, but it also serves parts of two neighboring counties (Barrett, Indiana Public Media). The area suffers from some of Indiana’s highest rates of heart attack and stroke. Like many hospitals around the country, Union was shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic. Elective procedures were suspended, protective equipment was more expensive, and staff feared losing their jobs. And while Vermillion County has not seen a spike in coronavirus cases, the financial fallout is still troubling. “Our relationships in this health care sector in our rural communities is a very vital source,” says hospital Vice President and Administrator Stephanie Laws. “To take that away, you think, what would that alternative future look like?” Nationwide, more than 130 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, and the pace accelerated last year. Indiana has been largely spared, but now experts wonder if COVID-19 will push its small, rural hospitals to the point of closure. Union Hospital Clinton has higher profits from patient care than similar hospitals in Indiana. Statewide, the average profit from patient at rural hospitals was less than 1 percent in 2019, according to data compiled by the Chartis Center for Rural Health. Unlike many rural hospitals, the Union Hospital Clinton’s margin was in double digits.

  • INDIANAPOLIS: HOGSETT LOOKS TO CLARIFY IMPD REPORT - The City-County Council is poised to grant unprecedented citizen oversight to the rules that govern the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Mayor Joe Hogsett tells CBS4 News he is seeking some clarification on requirements about who can serve on the proposed General Orders Board. 17 of 25 councilors have signed on as co-sponsors of Proposal 237 which comes up for a final vote Monday night. The proposal would establish a General Orders Board and charge it with writing the rules that govern IMPD, everything from uniforms to Internal Affairs and fatal Use of Force investigations. Currently, a three-member General Orders Committee, made up of two appointees by the Chief of Police and one by the officers, writes and oversees 534 pages of rules. Under the new plan, the mayor and the Council would each appoint two citizens, the chief would name two and the Fraternal Order of Police would nominate one, giving community members a 4-3 voting majority. “What Proposition 237 really embodies is what I believe is the will of our city is given the challenges of what our city has faced,” said Hogsett. “I support 237 because I think it’s a step in the right direction and it is keeping in my estimation what the people of the city of Indianapolis demand, more accountability in terms of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.”

     

    ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: HEALTH OFFICIALS TIGHTEN BAR RULES - St. Joseph County health officials are looking to bars are restaurants to help stop some of the community spread of coronavirus (WSBT-TV). Last week the health department issued final warnings to 6 bars in St. Joseph County for violating coronavirus safety regulations. For now, most have fixed the problems. The county visited 5 of the 6 bars Friday night and all of them were in compliance. These checks come as Indiana is seeing record high case counts, two weeks after the state moved into stage 5. People still need to wear a mask at bars and restaurants if they aren’t sitting down and eating or drinking. That's a rule the owner of Corby’s Irish Pub said he's constantly having to explain to customers, which can be tricky at 1 in the morning. "I tell them it's not red versus blue, it’s not about if you think you need to be wearing a mask or not, it's not anything except for the pure fact that if we don’t do this we will have to close down," said Joe Mittiga.

     

    ALLEN COUNTY: COVID CLOSES SCHOOL - An influx of COVID-19 cases at a Northwest Allen County middle school is prompting a week of remote learning for that building, the district announced Sunday evening (Sloboda, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Maple Creek Middle School's extracurricular and after-school activities also are canceled, but they could be rescheduled as early as the week of Oct. 19, the district said. Teachers will work on-site this week, the district said, and custodial staff will thoroughly clean the school. The pivot from in-person classes followed an increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases at Maple Creek in the past two weeks, the district said. “Because of the number of students being quarantined at the moment, and because of the number of confirmed cases during such a short period of time, we are taking extra steps to help keep our students safe and on track,” Principal Bill Toler said in a statement.

     

    LAKE COUNTY: COMMISSIONERS SUE FIRM FOR LED LIGHTS - The Lake County Board of Commissioners is trying to recoup the $415,000 they paid to a company two years ago to purchase LED lights that were never delivered (Cross, NWI Times). The owner of LTN Solutions, Ryan Rettig, of Crown Point, breached his contract with the county and failed to pay his supplier and California lender, court records allege. At least 570 light fixtures are sitting in LTN and Rettig’s supplier’s warehouse waiting for shipment to America, the county has claimed. The county's crossclaim — which targets both LTN and sole owner Rettig — alleges LTN is not properly funded. The county also claims Rettig accepted the $415,000 payment, stopped efforts to fulfill his contract, and failed to reimburse his supplier.

     

    MARION COUNTY: INMATE MURDERED - A 38-year-old inmate at Marion County Jail has died after alleged assault by another inmate, authorities said Sunday (Indiana Public Media). The inmate was identified as Martin Cruz. Authorities said he was found unresponsive Saturday evening and was transported to an Indianapolis hospital where he was declared dead around 11:30 p.m. The apparent homicide is under investigation by several agencies including Indianapolis police, the Marion County sheriff’s office and the county coroner’s office. Cruz had been in custody since July on child molestation charges. His trial had been set for December, according to online court records.

  • INDIANAPOLIS: CIB PUMMELED BY PANDEMIC - The owner of the Indiana Convention Center and Indianapolis sports facilities is bracing for a challenging 2021, as tourism struggles to mount a recovery from six months—so far—of the pandemic’s grip (Shuey, IBJ). The budget for the Capital Improvement Board of Marion County, approved in September by the City-County Council, calls for $132.3 million in spending next year, including more than $30 million in debt payments. A $41.6 million deficit is projected. The CIB expects to draw only about two-thirds of its revenue from operational fees and various tourism-related tax streams. It will pay the rest of its bills by dipping into its reserve, which totaled $145 million on June 30. This will be the second straight year the CIB has had to use reserve funds to make ends meet.

     

    ADAMS COUNTY: COVID FORCES SCHOOLS TO E-LEARNING - Two students in the Adams Central Community Schools district tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday which prompted the district to move students to E-learning (WPTA-TV). That forced more than 80 students to quarantine.

     

    HUNTINGTON COUNTY: VIRTUALLY TRUENT STUDENTS WARNED - Huntington school administrators concerned about truancy say they're cracking down on students who are falling behind in their virtual classes (WPTA-TV). The director of curriculum is concerned that 150 of the district's 816 students who are learning remotely are falling behind. "Based on their attendance, based on their engagement that we have not seen, we feel it's in their best educational interest to come back on campus," Jay Peters said. Having already contacted parents electronically, school principals will now hand-deliver letters to the homes of those 150 virtual students who are falling far behind, asking them to return to the classroom.

  • NEW HAVEN: MAYOR McMICHAEL TESTS POSITIVE - New Haven Republican Mayor Steve McMichael has tested positive for COVID-19, and several members of his staff at city hall have gone home to isolate themselves pending test results, he said Thursday (Rodriguez, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). McMichael said he began experiencing multiple mild symptoms Monday morning at work and immediately went home and got tested. Although he was coughing and feeling chest congestion and shortness of breath, he did not have a fever, he said. Fever is a symptom often used to screen people for the illness caused by the novel conronavirus. "Frankly, I was shocked when it (the test) came back positive," McMichael said, adding he also felt "complete exhaustion" by Tuesday.

     

    LOGANSPORT: COVID BREAKOUT A NURSING HOME - More than half of the residents at Woodbridge Health Campus have tested positive or are presumed positive for COVID-19 (Kokomo Tribune). Currently, there are 66 in-house residents at the assisted-living facility. Of those, Woodbridge’s parent company, Trilogy Health Services LLC, reported Thursday that 48 people have developed virus-related symptoms. And despite having personal protective equipment, 17 of their 94 employees are COVID-19 positive or presumed positive. This equates to nearly 73% of individuals at the assisted-living and skilled-care facility being affected by COVID-19.

     

    RICHMOND: COVID OUTBREAK AT NURSING HOME — Half of the residents of a nursing home on the city's southeast side are either positive for COVID-19 or are presumed to be so after an outbreak of the novel coronavirus there (Richmond Palladium-Item). As of about 9 a.m. Wednesday, a dashboard for facilities of parent company Trilogy Health Services showed Forest Park Health Campus in Richmond with 32 of its 63 residents either positive for COVID-19 or presumed to be so. Nearly a quarter of the staff (18 of 82) fit the same description. Since the pandemic began back in March, Forest Park has had 73 COVID-19 cases among its staff and residents with four deaths attributed to the virus. "One of the things that we live in fear of at the health department is an outbreak in a nursing home," Wayne County Health Officer Dr. David Jetmore said on Friday's episode of "Ask the Doctors" on Whitewater Community Television.

     

    FORT WAYNE: CITY IN TOP 10 FOR FIRST TIME HOME BUYERS - With mortgage rates at all-time lows and the personal saving rate remaining relatively high after a spike in April, now may be a good time for Americans considering homeownership to take a serious look at their options (Howey Politics Indiana). To find the best cities for first-time homebuyers, SmartAsset analyzed data on 12 metrics across four major categories: home market favorability, affordability, livability and employment.  Fort Wayne cracks the top 10 cities for first-time homebuyers. To see exactly where Fort Wayne ranks and how the top-ranking cities stack up in the four major categories we analyzed, check out the table below.

     

    CROWN POINT: 2 FOOTBALL GAMES CANCELLED - Crown Point's regular season has come to a premature end. Bulldogs athletic director Bill Dorulla confirmed Thursday that his school's varsity football team will not compete in its next two games due to the coronavirus pandemic (NWI Times). "There were a specific amount of students that were impacted, and so the decision was made to cancel our varsity games this Friday at home against Chesterton and the varsity football game next week against Michigan City," Dorulla said. "Our (junior varsity) and freshman football, as well as all other sports, will continue to play. They have not been impacted."

     

    ELKHART: FOOTBALL GAME CANCELLED DUE TO COVID - Disappointment dominated what should have been a usual upbeat, end-of-the-week football team dinner Thursday at Marian High School (South Bend Tribune). What was the most anticipated/important game of the season in the Northern Indiana Conference has been canceled over caution. Undefeated Marian and undefeated Elkhart will not play Friday at Rice Field, where the winner would snag the inside track on the NIC North regular-season championship. Marian announced Thursday afternoon that while there are no players currently with coronavirus, contact tracing would keep a handful of Knights from participating in Friday’s game. A post on the Marian High School athletics website Thursday announcing the cancelation indicated that “there are a number of players that had to be quarantined.”

     

    FRANKLIN: COLLEGE STUDENTS HEAD BACK TO CLASS -  It's back to in-person learning for students at Franklin College beginning on Monday (WRTV). Last week, the college decided to move all classes online for a week due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. This week the situation has improved, so students will return to their regular classes next week.

     

    FRANKLIN: FORMER COLLEGE PRESIDENT PLEADS NOT GUILTY -  The former president of Franklin College has pleaded not guilty to child pornography charges (WIBC). The Franklin News says Thomas Minar, 57, appeared in a nearly-empty courtroom in Wisconsin Tuesday. His attorney, Brett Reetz announced Minar is entering a plea of not guilty for all charges. In January, Minar was caught sending sexual messages and photos to, who he thought, was a 15-year-old boy. It was actually an undercover cop. After he was arrested, Franklin College fired him. Then in March, investigators found child porn on Minar’s phone.

     

    PERU: POLICE TO GET 6.5% PAY RAISE – Peru police officers will get a 6.5% pay raise next year as part of a major push by the city to fully staff the department, which is currently down seven officers (Kokomo Tribune). The pay increase comes after the Peru City Council on Monday approved next year’s budget, which also includes higher wages for firefighters and employees in the mayor’s and clerk-treasurer’s offices. Police will see by far the largest pay increase, but Peru Mayor Miles Hewitt told the council the move is necessary to draw more applicants to the severely understaffed department.

     

    BROWN COUNTY: JUDGE ACCEPTS COUNCILMAN MILLER CASE - Brown County Circuit Court Judge Mary Wertz has agreed to preside over a lawsuit regarding the legal residency of a Bartholomew County Council member (Webber, Columbus Republic). The Nashville judge will consider the litigation filed Sept. 9 by Bartholomew County Democratic Party Chairman Steve Schoettmer, as well as Democratic county council at-large candidates Ruth Claudette Schroer, Olisa Humes and Tiffany D. Bosley. The plaintiffs want a determination on whether Bartholomew County Council President Matt Miller, a Republican, legally resides in Bartholomew County. Nearly a dozen residents of the Highland Ridge subdivision signed a petition last July claiming the house Miller calls his legal residence has been vacant for a lengthy period of time.

  • INDIANAPOLIS: CITY TO OFFER EARLY RETIREMENTS - The city of Indianapolis and Marion County plan to offer employees early retirement in an effort to reduce costs ahead of expected budget dips in 2022 and to increase diversity (Quinn, IBJ). The Administration and Finance Committee of the Indianapolis City-County Council on Tuesday voted unanimously to move forward an ordinance that would create an elective retirement program. The measure heads to the full council for approval. The program would offer monetary incentives to employees who volunteer to retire in 2020 or 2021, depending on their department.

     

    FORT WAYNE: EDA REVIVES ELECTRIC WORKS PROJECT - A massive effort to redevelop the former General Electric campus in downtown Fort Wayne is getting a boost after weeks of uncertainty. RTM Ventures, the developer behind the Electric Works mixed-use innovation district, and Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry have announced a tentative agreement to move the project forward. The deal includes a revised economic development agreement, as well as the addition of a co-developer and a new investor (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). The project had been in jeopardy after the Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission terminated the previous economic development agreement with RTM Ventures, citing concerns the developer would be able to secure the private financing needed to move forward. The moved caused concern for the Fort Wayne City Council, which had approved a preliminary resolution to investigate the reasoning behind the commission's move. The resolution did not come to a final vote after city officials said recent discussions about continuing the project had been positive. The city says the revised EDA will provide a framework that sets expectations for the public and private sectors to meet in order to close on the financing for the project. When finalized, the EDA must be approved by various local governing bodies, though a time frame for those votes is not yet known.

     

    WEST LAFAYETTE: COUNCILMAN UNDER FIRE FOR TRUMP TWEET — One West Lafayette city council member is under fire after sending out multiple tweets attacking President Donald Trump (WLFI-TV). One of the tweets, sent out by city council member Nick Deboer, said that he hopes the president dies. This following the president's diagnosis of COVID-19. He followed that tweet by saying "and I hope it's unpleasant and I hope a person with the absurd name Hope is responsible." Mayor John Dennis was made aware of the tweets yesterday and said while councilman Deboer has the right to free speech, like everyone in this country, he understands why people found what he said to be offensive. "When you have that level of disrespect for our commander and chief, it bleeds down to those that have served our country. I am a former police officer who served our community and it's offensive," said Dennis.

     

    CARMEL: PD SHOOTING VIDEO RELEASED - The Carmel Police Department has released police body camera footage and audio from the 911 call related to the July 27 deadly officer-involved shooting in a Carmel neighborhood (Sikich, IndyStar). The department also released Tuesday the name of the officer that shot and killed the suspect, Officer Shane VanNatter, who is assigned to the Carmel Police Department School Resource Unit and has 13 years of experience with CPD. VanNatter's body camera footage doesn't show the actual shooting, because it fell off when he was running after the suspect. Multiple shots fired can be heard in the background.

     

    ANDERSON: PD OFFICER CLEARED - An Anderson police officer is returning to active duty after the Board of Public Safety cleared him this week. The board reviewed video of an arrest in June which showed officer Brandon Reynolds wrapping an arm around the neck of a man (CBS4). The incident occurred just two days after the police department banned the use of chokeholds.

     

    SOUTH BEND: COUNCIL APPROVES CELL TOWER — A radio broadcasting business looking to build a 189-foot communication tower on Monroe Street was given the go-ahead by the South Bend Common Council, despite objections from nearby residents (South Bend Tribune). The council voted 8-1 Monday to grant a zoning special exception that will allow Mid-West Family Broadcasting to build a wireless communication tower at 316 E. Monroe St. The company plans to move four radio stations — WNSN (Sunny 101.5 FM), WSBT (960 AM/96.1 FM), WZOC (94.3 FM) and WQLQ (99.9 FM) — from Douglas Road in Mishawaka to the vacant building on Monroe once its lease with Schurz Communications comes to an end next year.

     

    CROWN POINT: DELAY IN DOWNTOWN CAMERAS - A city board has agreed to further explore partnering with local businesses to install cameras throughout downtown Crown Point (Freda, NWI Times). During a Monday evening meeting, the Crown Point Redevelopment Commission heard from Mayor David Uran about the proposed partnership, which was discussed during a Sunday meeting regarding cameras in the city. "The city has been looking to provide an extra tool to our law enforcement, or the community in general, for emergencies and/or another tool for litigation that may take place on the square," Uran said.  "There's an idea of putting some cameras ... in the square that will help assist in those areas that I just described."

     

    MONTICELLO: COMMUNITY RALLIES FOR DRY LAKE FREEMAN - As water levels are lowering on Lake Freeman, community concerns are getting louder. On Saturday, more than 200 people participated in a "Save Our Lakes Lives" Rally (WLFI-TV). "We are going to continue to make noise and we are going to continue to watch what they're doing because this experiment that they're doing needs to change,' said Gary Baldwin, organizer of the "Save Our Lakes Lives" Rally. Lake Freeman boaters are taking their concerns straight to state and local leaders. Those rallying are asking officials to change a federal mandate on NIPSCO gas and electric company. The company provides water for Lake Freeman and surrounding lakes. U.S. government group Fish and Wildlife put a regulation limiting the amount of water NIPSCO can release into Lake Freeman.

     

    BLOOMINGTON: SOUTH/RONCALLI GAME CALLED OFF DUE TO COVID - Bloomington High School South won’t be playing football Friday night after its game was cancelled due to positive COVID-19 tests (Indiana Public Media). The Panthers were scheduled to host Indianapolis Roncalli but the Monroe County Health Department called off practices Monday after the school administration reported the positive COVID tests. “We had a couple of positive tests, then, with the contact tracing, we had a lot of players out,” South athletic director J.R. Holmes said Tuesday.

     

    JEFFERSONVILLE: $23M PROJECT APPROVED - Vivera Senior Living of Jeffersonville received approval Monday to essentially use the city as a conduit to obtain up to $23 million through the sale of bonds for the construction of 130 units at 2105 Hamburg Pike (News & Tribune). The Jeffersonville City Council approved the bond ordinance 9-0 on initial readings after again being reassured the project will not affect the municipality’s finances. “This is not an obligation to the city. The city is not on the hook,” City Attorney Les Merkley said during the virtual meeting. “It does not count toward the city’s debt limit. This is just a funding mechanism for the developer to take advantage of some tax benefits that the state statute allows.” The Jeffersonville Economic Development Commission had previously agreed to issue multifamily housing revenue bonds for the project, which will feature an assisted-living community.

     

    NEW ALBANY: COUNCIL APPROVES $27M BUDGET - The New Albany City Council moved forward Monday on its 2021 non-reverting and general fund budgets, as both were approved on initial readings. The city’s 2021 general fund budget is a little more than $27.8 million. The fire department is slated to receive about $10.3 million next year, and the police department a little more than $9.3 million (News & Tribune). Councilman Josh Turner cast the lone no vote on the general fund budget. The non-reverting budget was approved 9-0. Turner said he sent requests to trim 25 line items from the budget, and that those requests weren’t met. “I’m thinking about the future,” Turner said. “With the way this pandemic was, one thing we should learn is we should be prepared for the emergency. There’s no telling economically what’s going to happen with COVID. Even if the virus itself ends, where are we going to be in two years?”

     

    WABASH: LANDMARKS TO REHAB 6 HOMES - Six historic homes in a Wabash neighborhood will be rehabilitated by Indiana Landmarks in an attempt to sell the homes next year. The organization plans to overhaul the exteriors of the homes and to add curb appeal before putting them on the market in early 2021 (Inside Indiana Business). “When 23 historic houses recently came up for auction in Wabash, we saw an opportunity to make a big impact,” said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks. “We decided to focus on six of the most architecturally significant homes in a concentrated area.” The homes are located in the East Wabash Historic District, which is listed on the National Register, and most recently were used as rental housing, with some being transformed into apartments. 

     

    BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY: PAY RAISES DISCUSSED - There’s no question Bartholomew County government will have more than sufficient funds to provide raises to more than 400 county employees next year (Webber, Columbus Republic). But a few county council members worry whether using taxpayer money for salary hikes is the right thing to do while so many local families remain in financial trouble. The entire 2021 county budget totaled $54.1 million from property taxes, local income tax revenue, grants, fees and other forms of income. During budget talks in August, the council had trimmed almost $2.5 million from requested expenses. They had decided to wait until Monday to discuss possible raises.

  • GARY: NON-FATAL SHOOTINGS UP 45% — Police have strategically used their limited resources to increase patrols in high-crime areas and focus on alleged gang members, but the number of nonfatal shootings has climbed 45% so far this year. Gary police responded to a total of 125 nonfatal shootings as of Oct. 1, up from 86 during the first three quarters of 2019 (NWI Times). Despite the increase in nonfatal shootings, 2020 is shaping up to be another average — but deadly — year for homicides. Gary had recorded 41 homicides as of Oct. 1, up from 40 at the same time last year, police Cmdr. Jack Hamady said. Gary's homicides account for 63% of all homicides in Lake County, which has logged 65 so far this year. In total, Gary logged 41 homicides; East Chicago, seven; Hammond, six; Merrillville, five; Munster, two; Indiana State Police, two; Lake County Sheriff's Department, one; and Lake Station, one, according to Lake County coroner's records and the Cook County medical examiner's office.

     

    SOUTH BEND: COUNCIL APPROVES PD REVIEW BOARD - After months of starts and stops, the South Bend Common Council has approved the bill establishing a community police review board (WSBT-TV). The original bill was drafted at the beginning of the year. Council members say it's still not a perfect plan. Even the bill sponsors say it's a good bill but it's not perfect. But they say getting the board approved is more important, and that changes can come late. Bill sponsors say they met with different community groups every week to come up with the measure that was voted on Monday night.

     

    SOUTH BEND: 75 HOMELESS TO STAY IN MOTELS — After a summer of moving from encampment to encampment, more than 75 homeless individuals will be able to stay in motels thanks to federal grant money distributed by St. Joseph County (Mazurek, South Bend Tribune). The county is supplying approximately $570,000 in CARES Act money to the Motels4Now program, which will pay for lodging, transportation and food for homeless individuals through March in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

     

    ANDERSON: FORMER PD CHIEF DIES AFTER HORNET ATTACK – The former chief of the Anderson Police Department, Larry Crenshaw, died Sunday after a hornet attack (WRTV). According to a post by the Edgewood Police Department, Crenshaw was hunting Sunday and stirred up a hornet's nest. He was stung multiple times and suffered a heart attack due to the lack of oxygen.

     

    CARMEL: COUNCIL APPROVED $180K FOR SCULPTURES - Photo provided by Seward Johnson Atelier Inc.The Carmel City Council approved spending $180,000 Monday night to purchase two bronze statues to bring greater racial diversity to the city’s art collection (IBJ). Brainard’s now-approved request for $180,000 paves the way for the city to purchase its first Johnson statues featuring people of Black and Indian descent. “This isn’t a one shot and we’re done. This is something we need to continue to do each year as we expand our collection to make sure the collection represents the entire community,” Brainard said to the finance committee earlier that day. “Not just in the people they portray, but in the artists that make the sculpture as well.” The appropriation passed 7-2, with council members Tim Hannon and Anthony Green voting against the request.

     

    EVANSVILLE: 59 CATHOLIC STUDENTS TEST POSITIVE - The Diocese of Evansville Catholic Education said Monday they learned of eight positive COVID-19 tests involving students and employees from six diocesan schools (WFIE-TV). – six students and two employees – tested positive for COVID-19. The Diocese is giving daily updates. This brings the total to 59 students and 14 staff members who have had positive tests.

     

    EAST CHICAGO: SCHOOLS PLAN TO REOPEN — School City of East Chicago administrators are moving forward in plans for how to bring students back to school buildings amid the coronavirus pandemic (NWI Times). East Chicago schools began its school year in mid-August with remote learning due to the coronavirus pandemic. In the East Chicago plan, teachers are required to lead instruction from their assigned classrooms while students follow along and complete assignments from home. School Board President Vanessa Hernandez-Orange pushed for a Monday night school board meeting to discuss administrators' plans with the community after as many as 20 teachers called off work last week in the district's Harrison Elementary School to get tested for COVID-19 after staff say they learned secondhand of a positive case in the building.

     

    ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: HEALTH OFFICIALS EYE MOVE BACK TO STAGE 2 - County health officials are considering taking new steps to stem the spread of COVID-19 as the community sees a growing number of hospitalizations (South Bend Tribune). St. Joseph County Health Officer Dr. Robert Einterz said early Monday afternoon that he expected to issue additional guidelines or possibly health orders within the next 24 hours. “We are considering all of our options at this point,” Einterz said. Options could include “moving back a stage or two” in the state’s reopening plan and “capitalizing on the authority already vested in the health officer to prohibit conditions that promote spread of the virus,” Einterz said.

  • MICHIGAN CITY: SOUTH SHORE GARAGE COULD COME EARLY — The city should get its downtown parking garage ahead of schedule after the Federal Transit Administration provided an advance of $50 million for the structure (LaPorte Herald-Dispatch). The Michigan City Board of Works and Common Council came together with NICTD for a workshop on the project Tuesday.

     

    ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: OVER DOSE DEATHS ON RISE - After two years of decreases in overdose deaths in St. Joseph County, the numbers are on the rise again. Areas around the country saw spikes in overdose deaths in 2017, with St. Joseph County recording 71 deaths that year (South Bend Tribune). Overdose deaths in the county dropped to 62 in 2018, and dropped again in 2019, to 35. Through August of this year, though, St. Joseph County already had 47 overdose deaths, according to the coroner’s office. There were 11 deaths in July alone. Through August of last year, the county had 23 overdose deaths.

  • FRANKLIN: COVID OUTBREAK MOVES COLLEGE CLASSES TO ONLINE — Franklin College is moving to online-only classes next week after an increase in COVID-19 cases on campus (WRTV). In a letter to the campus posted online, Franklin College President Kerry Prather said weekly surveillance began last week for student-athletes with the initiation of practice activities. Last week's testing revealed one positive COVID-19 case out of 46 student-athletes tested. Prather said this week's test results showed 15 positive COVID-19 results out of 73 student-athletes tested. "This higher rate of positivity is concerning and unusual, especially compared with the sample of a week prior," Prather said. "In order to fully assess the extent of that phenomenon, we need to verify the accuracy of that particular testing, obtain test results from a wider sample of the student population, and have time to analyze that data in order to make appropriate decisions to ensure the safety of our community."

     

    CROWN POINT: CITY EYES CAMERAS FOR CONTACT TRACING - wants to install a facial recognition video network camera system downtown in hopes of slowing the spread of the coronavirus (Indiana Public Media). The step comes as state health officials on Friday added 13 more COVID-19 deaths to the state’s pandemic toll. The newly recorded deaths raise the state’s death toll to 3,656, including confirmed and presumed coronavirus cases, since the state’s first such death was reported on March 15, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. Most of the new deaths happened Wednesday or Thursday. That is an increase of 90 deaths in the past week. Crown Point media director Adam Graper said the analytical cameras can identify when people aren’t social distancing through a heat map that shows the concentration of individuals, the (Northwest Indiana) Times reported Friday. Crown Point is waiting on proposals for the project.

     

    GARY: MISSED FD SHIFTS COST CITY $900K - Since 2018, 12 Gary firefighters alone have collectively missed 1,106 shifts using paid sick time, a move that's forced city government to spend an estimated $923,800 in salaries and overtime (Cross, NWI Times). That’s according to a data analysis provided to The Times by Fire Chief Sean O’Donnell and city attorneys. The Gary Fire Department’s business manager recently put together an analysis for the city and Common Council, showing how a handful of firefighters each tally dozens of sick days in a single calendar year, prompting use of overtime in many of those instances. "I couldn't believe it when I saw the numbers in black and white. To see the continued pattern, it shows a lack of respect for your co-workers. You're putting co-workers in jeopardy," said Gary Councilman Ron Brewer, D-at large.

     

    ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: HEALTH OFFICIALS URGE COMPLIANCE - With both President Donald Trump and Notre Dame President Rev. John Jenkins contracting coronavirus, we talked a local expert to see what he hopes people take away from the news (WSBT-TV). St. Joseph County health officer Dr. Mark Fox says the lesson here is to keep following the health department recommendations for staying safe -- because as we've seen, nobody is immune to coronavirus. Dr. Fox says in the President Trump's case, even constant testing won't make up for a lack of social distancing or wearing a mask. "Here is a person with great access to testing, access to the best information, and even he couldn’t be protected. Part of it is he didn’t follow appropriate steps to protect himself."

  • INDIANAPOLIS: ZAHN OF DOWNTOWN INDY DIES - Tamara Zahn, who led Indianapolis Downtown Inc. for nearly two decades—during a period of major growth for the city’s urban core—died Thursday at age 67 (IBJ). Details of her death weren’t available Thursday night. A statement from IDI, now known as Downtown Indy Inc., said it was “shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of our dear friend Tamara Zahn.” Sherry Seiwert, president and CEO of the organization, said the city “has lost its greatest cheerleader.” Zahn was named president of IDI when it was founded in 1993.

     

    INDIANAPOLIS: 172nd MURDER MATCHES 2019 TOTAL — A shooting Thursday morning on Indy’s west side left one woman dead (CBS4). The homicide on Taft means 52 more people have been killed this year compared to the same time last year. In fact, with three months left in the year, the city has already equaled the homicide total for all of last year. On a frigid New Year’s Eve in 2019, the final homicide of the year, number 172, took place on Belmont and claimed the life of 59-year-old Eddie Brown.

     

    INDIANAPOLIS: $12M FUND SET UP FOR BARS, RESTAURANTS - The city is throwing a lifeline to restaurants, bars and clubs still reeling from the pandemic (WIBC). Indy will use its last $12 million in federal CARES Act relief money for grants to help nightlife businesses with mortgage or rent payments. The grant fund is enough to give more than 400 restaurants assistance of up to $25,000. Mayor Joe Hogsett says the program “isn’t nearly enough.” But with Congress still deadlocked on a second relief package, he says he’s hopeful it can keep those businesses afloat until there’s more federal aid. In the meantime, he’s urging residents to do their part by eating out if they feel safe doing so, or order carryout or delivery if they don’t. And, as Governor Eric Holcomb did last week, he’s encouraging diners to leave hefty tips.

     

    FISHERS: FADNESS PROPOSES $117M BUDGET - Fishers' proposed 2021 budget includes pay raises for city employees and elected officials thanks to a higher than estimated haul from personal income tax collections (Tuohy, IndyStar). Government workers and city leaders will get a 3% pay raise and the city will hire two police department employees and one firefighter, under the $117.5 million proposal by Mayor Scott Fadness.

     

    MONTICELLO: LAKE FREEMAN DRIES UP — Lake Freeman in Monticello has essentially dried up. Photos and videos of the lake are going viral, showing a significant drop in the water levels (WIBC). The lake is down seven feet in the last month. “They’re literally walking out to the middle of the lake, where they would never be able to touch,” said Kyle Winings, whose family has owned property on Lake Freeman since the 1940s. “My great-grandfather originally purchased some property up on Lake Freeman. My grandparents still own property there. My parents and I have been doing the Lake Freeman weekend enjoyment pretty much our entire lives.” But not anytime recently. Winings says the Monticello economy has already been impacted significantly during the coronavirus pandemic, but the lack of people being able to visit Lake Freeman has made it even more frustrating. “There are multiple companies, like Tall Timbers Marina and Susan’s Bay, that have been affected,” he said.

     

    HAMILTON COUNTY: MISTAKE ON ABSENTEE BALLOTS - Some voters are already questioning the validity of the upcoming election results (WTHR-TV). A Hamilton County couple caught a mistake on an absentee ballot that could have kept it from being counted. County election workers are laboring over time as they process an expected 55,000 absentee ballots. Mindy Decker and her husband were ready to fill out theirs when they noticed an omission on his ballot. It was missing a signature in the R box, according to Mindy. "This ballot is not valid," she said. She notified election officials. They mailed a replacement ballot. "How many other people have already mailed these ballots in, and the ballots are invalid, and they have no idea," Mindy asked. Right now, there is no way to know. "You know we are only human, and we are sending out 40,000 of these in the next couple of weeks," Hamilton County Election Administrator Beth Sheller said.

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  • Walorski congratulates Justice Barrett
    “I want to congratulate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, the newest member of our nation’s highest court. Justice Barrett is a woman of strong faith, a dedicated mother of seven, an exceptional jurist, and a fellow Hoosier. I have no doubt she will faithfully uphold the rule of law, defend the Constitution, and protect the life and liberty of every American.” - U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, congratulating her 2nd CD constituent, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, after she was sworn in Monday night at the White House.
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  • Beau Bayh makes campaign debut
    “The first home I went home to in Indianapolis was the Governor’s Mansion, which is proof that Democrats can win in Indiana.” - Beau Bayh, campaigning on behalf of Democrat gubernatorial nominee Woody Myers. He is the son of former governor and senator Evan Bayh. In October 1984, a young Evan Bayh barnstormed the state with underdog gubernatorial hopeful Wayne Townsend ("Go get 'em, Wayne"). When the pair appeared at the Elkhart Truth, reporter (and future Bayh) staffer Phil Schermerhorn asked Bayh, "Evan, what are you running for?"). In 1986, Evan Bayh won the secretary of state's office, then ended the GOP's 20-year gubernatorial dynasty two years later. With Hoosier Democrats barely above the Libertarians in the party pecking order (Donald Rainwater is running TV and radio ads; Myers isn't), the young Bayh's appearance will stoke up speculation that it may take a third-generation Bayh to restore Indiana Democrats to major party status.
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