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Sunday, December 17, 2017
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  • CITIES: INDY SCHOOL BOARD APPROVES $930M REFERENDUM - The Indianapolis Public School Board approved a referendum Thursday night that will ask taxpayers for nearly $1 billion during the May primary election (Fox59). It is geared to fund competitive teacher compensation, provide services to its high proportion of special needs students and make safety improvements on school campuses. If passed, the referendum proposes a local property levy of no more than $0.59 on each $100 of assessed valuation.

    CITIES: EAST CHICAGO CLEANUP COULD COST $84.9M - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expecting the cost to remediate two portions of East Chicago's Calumet neighborhood to grow to almost four times earlier estimates (Lyons, Post-Tribune). The EPA on Friday released a document explaining the previously estimated costs for the clean up in two of the zones of the U.S.S. Lead Superfund site will cost more than initially anticipated. The EPA said the cost anticipated for the two residential zones of the Calumet neighborhood are expected to increase from the estimated $22.8 million to an estimated $84.9 million.

    CITIES: BLOOMINGTON, COUNTY TO SUE OPIOID MAKERS, DISTRIBUTORS - Monroe County and the city of Bloomington are the most recent Indiana municipalities taking on opioid manufacturers in court (McGowan, Inside Indiana Business). Mayor John Hamilton says the lawsuit is "one of many avenues" the city and county are pursuing to address social and "significant financial burdens" caused by the opioid epidemic. Commissioner Amanda Barge says the suit aims to take opioid distributors and manufacturers "to task on the immeasurable harm their practices have caused our residents."

    CITIES: COUNCIL OVERRIDES LEBANON MAYOR'S VETO - The Lebanon City Council again overrode Mayor Matt Gentry's veto of elected official raises (Doerflein, Lebanon Reporter). The council voted 5-2 on Monday ,the same way the members did when overturning Gentry's veto of raises for elected officials on Oct. 18. Both votes squeaked through by the required two-thirds majority margin, with Councilmen Corey Kutz and Dan Fleming voting nay.

    CITIES: NESTLE TO INVEST $79.5M IN ANDERSON PLANT - Since locating in Anderson in 2009, the Nestle company has expanded its operations in the community at least six times and is planning to make another investment (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). The Anderson City Council on Thursday set final consideration for a requested tax abatement on an investment of $79.5 million in new equipment that will create an additional 30 jobs with an average annual salary of $75,000. The average hourly wage would be $36.06.

    CITIES: MUNCIE COUNCILMAN SAYS MADJAX FINANCIALS DON'T ADD UP - A member of Muncie City Council says financial information he obtained through a recent court hearing doesn't match numbers that council members were given before voting on a $4.5-million loan for the Madjax makers hub (Roysdon, Muncie Star Press). A city official denied that, however, saying the assumption was based on obsolete information. Council member Dan Ridenour, who asked for more information about the Madjax project before the September meeting in which other council members approved the backup loan, said the financial records he recently obtained showed lower assets and higher expenses for the project.

    CITIES: DOUGLAS JOINS VALPO COUNCIL - George Douglas was chosen to replace John Bowker on the City County Thursday night (NWI Times). Douglas was chosen by an unanimous vote of Republican precinct committee persons in the city's 5th district. Bowker, who will resign effective Dec. 31, cited work and family responsibilities for his decision. He has been on the council for 13 years and has served on the Redevelopment Commission since 1995. Douglas, 49, is senior vice president of Indiana Beverage.

    CITIES: OFFICIALS DEFEND GARY SCHOOL SUPER'S $30K BONUS - Two Gary School Board members are vigorously defending the award of a $30,000 bonus to Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt (Carlson, Post-Tribune). During Wednesday's meeting at the Wirt-Emerson Center for Visual and Performing Arts, board president Rosie Washington held up documents she said affirmed the board's actions in establishing Pruitt's bonus, awarded in March 2016.

    CITIES: INDY PILOT PROGRAM TO FUND INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS - The City of Indianapolis Thursday announced a pilot program to help fund infrastructure projects in 2018 (Daudelin, WFYI). The program allows nonprofit community organizations in Marion County to submit proposals for projects that improve public infrastructure like roads, sidewalks and bridges. If accepted, the city will match funds for the project, contributing up to $1.5 million.

    CITIES: COMMUNITY CENTER DISCUSSION IN ELKHART - Mayor Tim Neese's Tolson Advisory Committee met for the second time on Tuesday night at the Roosevelt STEAM Academy to discuss plans and develop a future strategy for the community center (Horvath, Elkhart Truth). The group must develop a viable plan to present to the City Council in April, which will determine future funding of the center, whose 2018 budget was slashed in half.

    CITIES: CARMEL'S KARL HAAS PASSES AWAY - The attorney responsible for crafting many of Carmel's redevelopment deals has died (Sikich, IndyStar). Karl Haas, 57, passed away at his home Dec. 6. He was the attorney for the Carmel Redevelopment Commission for the past 20 years, writing many of the public-private partnerships Carmel used to redevelop the city.

    COUNTIES: LAKE TO SUE 10 OPOID MAKERS & DISTRIBUTORS - The Lake County Board of Commissioners is suing 10 opioid manufacturers and distributors (Dolan, NWI Times). County officials have joined the cities of Hammond and Indianapolis, which also have filed litigation alleging the pain-killing drugs are creating an unnecessary burden on local government and taxpayers to treat those who have become addicted. The suit alleges opioid overdoses claimed the lives of 114 Lake residents last year and that the number has been increasing since 2012.

    COUNTIES: JURY FINDS VIGO SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR GUILTY - A federal jury tonight convicted Franklin Fennell of all charges in a years-long kickback scheme the FBI says cost Vigo County School Corp. more than $100,000 (Trigg, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). It took the jury only about two and a half hours to reach its verdicts. Jurors received the case from U.S. Chief District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson about 4:30 p.m. About 7 p.m. , they notified the bailiff they were ready to return. With everyone returned to the courtroom and the verdicts read aloud, the judge polled the jurors, asking each if these were their verdicts. All said guilty. The government has indicated it will seek a sentence of 30 to 37 months in prison.

    COUNTIES: LAKE COUNCILMAN'S HOME POSSIBLE AT TAX SALE - The unpaid taxes continue to mount on Lake County Councilman Jamal Washington's home (Dolan, NWI Times). Lake County government records indicate the treasurer has yet to collect back taxes and penalties of more than $13,000 on the single-family residence and two adjacent lots in the 5600 block of Connecticut Street in Merrillville's Hilldale subdivision.

    COUNTIES: $55M JAIL PROJECT IN HANCOCK - The county commissioners have agreed to ask voters in May whether they support building a new criminal justice complex and paying for the project with money funded by an increase in property taxes (VanOverberghe, Greenfield Daily Reporter). Following a nearly four-hour long public hearing Tuesday night, the three-member board voted to put the issue on the ballot, allowing residents to decide the fate of the proposed $55 million project.

    COUNTIES: OPIOID DEATHS EXCEED LAST YEAR IN PORTER - The number of opioid-related deaths in Porter County through the first three quarters of 2017 exceeds the number of all such deaths recorded last year, Coroner Chuck Harris is reporting (Chesterton Tribune). According to Harris' quarterly report, of the 320 deaths investigated by his office through September, 65 were accidental, and of those 38 were drug-related.

    COUNTIES: ALLEN WILL ASK STATE TO HELP PAY FOR DRUG INMATES - Allen County commissioners are making addiction and its consequences their top priority for the 2018 session of the state legislature (Rodriguez, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The commissioners, all Republicans, want more help from the state in paying for the high numbers of those arrested for lower-level drug-related crimes. Those arrests have at times pushed the jail count into overcrowding. County lawmakers also want to see drug-related initiatives pushed by Gov. Eric Holcomb passed.

    COUNTIES: PARENTAL LEAVE PROPOSAL IN LAKE - As Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the state will soon offer paid parental leave for its employees, the Lake County Council is advancing its own program to support new parents (Lyons, Post-Tribune). Councilwoman Christine Cid, D-East Chicago, who proposed the program, said both parents should share in taking care of a newborn and having time to bond with a child.

    COUNTIES: MONROE COUNCIL APPROVES 1% FOOD & BEVERAGE TAX - The Monroe County Council narrowly voted Wednesday to adopt a 1 percent food and beverage tax to help pay for the expansion of the Monroe Convention Center — a project some members of the community have been trying to get done for decades (Rollins, Bloomington Herald-Times). County council members voted 4-3 on the countywide tax that would apply to food or beverages sold at restaurants, prepared food items from grocery stores and food truck sales.

    COUNTIES: BARTHOLOMEW TO BALANCE BUDGET WITH NEW TAX - Bartholomew County will use a good chunk of the revenues from the recently enacted income tax hike to patch a hole in next year's county budget (WCSI). County officials were looking at almost a $1.7 million dollar deficit for next year, before the tax was enacted. This week the County Council agreed to move an entire department out of the general fund and to pay for it out of the income tax revenues, balancing next year's budget in one swoop.

    COUNTIES: WIND POWER PROPOSAL SPURS DEBATE IN CASS - The wind is kicking up in a debate over a project that would dot northern Cass County with energy-producing towers (Kirk, Logansport Pharos-Tribune). Opponents say local rules that would govern the proposed wind turbines are weak. They claim the turbines create health issues. They wonder how the turbines will affect aerial application on farm fields and if local firefighters are equipped to handle a blaze atop one.

    COUNTIES: BOONE OKAYS SECOND SALARY STUDY - The Boone County Council on Dec. 12 approved a study that could cost up to $35,000 to ensure county employees are paid fairly (Doerflein, Zionsville Times-Sentinel). Muncie firm, Waggoner, Irwin, Scheele and Associates, will study compensation and job classifications of county employees. The firm completed a previous study on salaries for the council in 2016. That study cost about $40,000.

    COUNTIES: DEMAND UP AT HANCOCK FOOD PANTIES - Higher utility bills. Employment that slows or stops in the winter. Children wishing for gifts under the Christmas tree (Hatcher, Greenfield Reporter). The Hancock County Food Pantry, which serves some 528 households a month, already is seeing a jump. The food pantry served about 615 clients last month, a roughly 16 percent increase compared to a normal month, said president Tom Ferguson.

  • CITIES: COUNCIL OVERRIDES MAYOR HENRY'S VETO - In a terse 6-3 vote, the Fort Wayne City Council narrowly overrode Mayor Tom Henry's veto of a pay-to-play ordinance that city officials say likely runs afoul of state and federal law (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The ordinance in question limits corporate campaign contributions to elected city officials to $2,000 per calendar year. Donations from any employee who owns more than 7.5 percent of a firm, as well as donations from that employee's spouse or live-in children, would count toward that limit. Any firm that exceeds that limit would be barred from bidding on city contracts.

    CITIES: MILLER UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR NO-CONTACT VIOLATION - Sources confirm to Eyewitness News that Indianapolis Councilman Jeff Miller is under investigation for violating a no-contact order in his child molestation case (WTHR-TV). Eyewitness News Crimebeat reporter Steve Jefferson reports Miller attended a meeting for the Fletcher Place Neighborhood Association Tuesday night at Fletcher Place Arts & Books. In all, three people on Miller's no contact list attended the meeting, but one left for unrelated reasons before Miller arrived. The accused councilman reportedly stayed at the meeting even after realizing the two remaining people on the no contact order were there.

    CITIES: BIG YEAR FOR GARY AIRPORT - The Gary-Chicago International Airport is marking a year of significant developments (McGowan, Inside Indiana Business). The most recent involves Gary-based LEE Companies' selection as construction manager for a new customs facility, which will open up the airport for incoming international flights. Last month, LEE Companies completed the new Corporate Flight Center at the Gary Jet Center and B. Coleman Aviation recently opened a 40,000 square-foot hangar that is part of $20 million in planned investment.

    CITIES: FORT WAYNE INVESTED $25M IN INFRASTRUCTURE THIS YEAR - As 2017 comes to a close, Mayor Tom Henry on Tuesday lauded Fort Wayne's Division of Public Works for the neighborhood infrastructure projects completed throughout the year (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). About $25 million was invested into 41.5 miles of asphalt resurfacing; 5.7 miles of concrete reconstruction; 9.2 miles of concrete sidewalks; 14 miles of concrete curbs; 11 miles of trails; 768 concrete ramps; 3,000 replaced traffic signs and other work.

    CITIES: NORTH VERNON TALKS JAIL WITH COUNTY - North Vernon and Jennings County are a step closer to addressing the need of a new jail and other long-standing issues (WCSI). Last month, the city council received a letter from county officials wanting to collaborate to address the jail issue. Larry Greathouse, city attorney, said then that this would be a good opportunity to address several, unspecified, issues affecting both units of government. The council voted two weeks ago to allow Greathouse to start further discussions between the city and county.

    CITIES: MUNCIE WON'T RELEASE SPENDING IN LAWSUIT - The City of Muncie doesn't want you to know how much they're spending in legal fees (Zepelin, WISH-TV). The City and Mayor Dennis Tyler are fighting a lawsuit from the former police chief, Steve Stewart. I-Team 8 wants to know how much the city is paying an outside law firm to defend them, but they won't tell us... We went to Luke Britt, the Indiana Public Access Counselor, who is an expert on what information public officials are required to share. "Constituents have a right to know what their money is being used for and so, typically invoices, letters of engagement, service agreements, contracts are well within the scope of what is in-bounds for a public records request," said Britt, who read our request and the City of Muncie's response.

    CITIES: NEW WHITELAND MAY SET UP CAMERAS IN PARKS - After parks in New Whiteland were vandalized multiple times this summer, the town is looking into setting up a new security camera system to catch or deter vandals (Tellers, Franklin Daily Journal). Vandals have damaged picnic tables, broken lights and spray-painted monuments. The cost of fixing the damage quickly adds up, with the town spending about $8,000 to replace picnic tables at Country Gate Park and to replace lights at Proctor Park this year, New Whiteland Town Council President John Perrin said.

    COUNTIES: ADDICTION TOP 2018 PRIORITY FOR ALLEN COMMISSIONERS - Allen County commissioners are making addiction and its consequences a top priority for the 2018 session of the state legislature (Rodriguez, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The commissioners, all Republicans, want more help from the state in paying for the high numbers of those arrested for drug-related crimes that have pushed the jail into overcrowding. And county lawmakers also want to see initiatives pushed by Gov. Eric Holcomb passed, including more approved opiate treatment facilities, improved reporting of drug overdose deaths and increased penalties for those who manufacture drugs resulting in overdose deaths.

    COUNTIES: MORE TRADITIONAL CALENDAR FOR CLARKSVILLE SCHOOLS - Clarksville Community School Corp. is the third and final public school corporation in Clark County to abandon the balanced calendar and move to a more traditional schedule (Walden, News & Tribune). The school board voted unanimously Tuesday night to adopt the 2018-19 calendar, which reflects an Aug. 8 start date, two one-week breaks in the fall and spring, 10 days off for Christmas and a release date in late May.

    COUNTIES: GRANT TO LAUNCH LAKE CDC - Merrillville-based Legacy Foundation has announced plans to launch a new community development corporation for Lake County (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). The organization says the nonprofit CDC, which is being funded by a grant from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation, will provide much needed support for area neighborhoods.

    COUNTIES: LAKE COUNCIL STRIP WASHINGTON OF COMMITTEES - Lake County Council officials on Tuesday stripped Councilman Jamal Washington of influence he had over county law enforcement agencies (Dolan, NWI Times). They voted to remove Washington, D-Merrillville, from the council budget committees overseeing the Lake County Sheriff's police force, the county jail, animal control, the prosecutor, the county's public defenders, local court judges, the county's Emergency Management Agency and the Community Corrections Advisory Board. Washington remains in county jail.

    COUNTIES: ST. JOSEPH LAUNCHES AUDIT OF HEALTH INSURANCE CLAIMS - St. Joseph County commissioners unanimously voted Tuesday to approve a $41,600 audit of health insurance claims, which they hope will result in savings for the county by correcting potential billing mistakes (Booker, South Bend Tribune). BMI Audit Services, a health care benefits auditing firm in South Bend, was hired to complete the four-month audit, which calls for reviewing medical and prescription drug claims paid by the county for participants in its self-funded insurance plan. The plan provides coverage for about 1,070 county employees and 200 retirees.

    COUNTIES: BARTHOLOMEW MULLS SEIZING STATE TAX REFUNDS - A proposal that would allow Bartholomew County to collect on past-due property taxes by seizing state tax refunds is being considered (WCSI). County Treasurer Pia O'Connor brought up the proposal during Monday morning's meeting of the county commissioners. O'Connor explains that the program allows local governments to collect delinquent debts from an individual's state income tax refund.

  • CITIES: HOGSETT ROLLS OUT NEW PLAN TO FIGHT VIOLENT CRIME - With Indianapolis expected to soon top last year's record 150 homicides, Mayor Joe Hogsett rolled out a new strategy Monday afternoon to curb violent crime (Milz, WTHR-TV). Referring to the 148 homicides as of Monday, the mayor said, "it is disheartening, maddening and it is senseless and unacceptable."... The mayor's plan calls for a crackdown on illegal guns, making the police beat system countywide, investing in neighborhood programs that work to prevent crime and expanding access to social services.

    CITIES: FORMER EMPLOYEE ACCUSES MUNCIE SUPER OF HARASSMENT - Kathy Ray, a former human resources director at Muncie Community Schools, claims in a federal lawsuit that Superintendent Steven Baule regularly made sexist, racist and intimidating remarks (Slabaugh, Muncie Star Press). The lawsuit filed Friday cites more than two dozen instances of Baule's "inappropriate, severely offensive and intimidating conduct that undoubtedly created a hostile work environment for several employees," including Ray, who is white. The school district denied the allegations in a statement to The Star Press.

    CITIES: MAYOR BARTON REPORTS ON STELLAR PROJECTS – Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton released details Monday on the progress of each of the Stellar Projects, and announced new tools the city will be using to keep residents informed about this significant community development initiative (Crawfordsville Journal Review). "Much of the work to-date has been behind the scenes with planning and design, so it is difficult to know if real progress is happening," Barton said. "As you will read, considerable work has been done and all projects continue on schedule."

    CITIES: BLOOMINGTON COMMISSION APPROVES DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL - Bloomington officials are pushing forward a proposal to more strictly regulate downtown development (Wright, Indiana Public Media). The Plan Commission approved the plan Monday night. It would reduce the baseline approval for the height and density of new buildings. The proposal is a response to Bloomington's rapid growth. Mayor John Hamilton says it's "not to deter development, but enhance it."

    CITIES: NEW ALBANY-FLOYD COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD TALKS REFERENDUM - Referendum projects in the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. overall are on time and under budget, giving the superintendent and school board the chance to consider broadening the scope of work (Walden, News & Tribune). "Things are going well. We have had some change orders but nothing that wasn't in the budget. We are [under] budget at this time," Bill Wiseheart, director of facilities, said.

    CITIES: $61.7M PRIVATE INVESTMENT FOR FORT WAYNE RIVERFRONT - Continental Property Group is proposing to build a $61.7 million mixed-use development on about 3.3 acres at the northeast corner of Harrison and Superior streets, on the city's riverfront (Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly). Continental and Mayor Tom Henry made the announcement at a press conference. The Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission will consider the proposal for the new development and the development agreement.

    CITIES: AWAITING MEETING WITH CAESARS IN SHELBYVILLE - Shelbyville city officials are in wait-and-see mode when it comes to learning what Caesars Entertainment's announced acquisition of Centaur Gaming's properties in Shelbyville and Anderson will mean locally (Brown, Shelbyville News). "I've talked to some employees at Indiana Grand and they don't seem too concerned," said Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun. "Everybody seems pretty upbeat about it but I want to hear firsthand what kind of corporate citizen (Caesars) is in other communities."

    CITIES: MUNSTER APPROVES SALARY ORDINANCE IN FIRST READING - The Town Council approved on first reading the 2018 salary ordinance during the Dec. 4 meeting (Wilds, NWI Times). It will be taken up for final approval during the Dec. 18 meeting. The ordinance proposes a 5-percent pay increase, though that rate can be adjusted up or down prior to the final reading. The town's contribution, 11.2 percent, to the Indiana Public Retirement System (INPRS) will remain unchanged, as will employee contributions for health insurance premiums.

    CITIES: HOBART DEBATES NEW ORDINANCES FOR BUILDING PERMITS - The City Council is looking at multiple ordinances to tackle separate issues encountered in the community (Reilly, NWI Times). One of the possible measures would set how long building permits would be valid. Those obtaining building permits in Hobart are required to start projects within one year of receiving the permits, but there isn't a deadline to finish the work.

    CITIES: BUTTIGIEG WEIGHS MOVING SOUTH SHORE STATION - South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg likes a possible spot to move the South Shore station (WSBT-TV). Right now the city is looking at options, including moving the tracks through the Ardmore neighborhood, but that would take dozens of homes. The Mayor says having tracks at the Honeywell site makes it intriguing.

    CITIES: COLD WEATHER CREATES WATER MAIN WOES FOR INDY - Cold temperatures are causing major issues for water mains in the city (Houser, Fox59). According to data provided by Citizens, in 2016 there were 509 breaks. This year, there have been more than 542 breaks. The most ever reported happened in 2014, with more than 830 water main breaks. That was the year of the polar vortex. Cold temperatures combined with pipes that are 50 to 100 years old are causing problems on city streets, but Citizens said they're working to fix it.

    CITIES: COLUMBUS PROGRAM REMOVES 84 INOPERABLE VEHICLES - A new city program identifying and removing inoperable vehicles from public and private property has resulted in 84 vehicles being towed since September (Kent, Columbus Republic). Of the 84 vehicles that have been removed, 25 of those have been on public property, while the remaining were on private property, said Fred Barnett, the city's code enforcement officer. Columbus city councilmen approved changes to a city ordinance Sept. 5 allowing Barnett to investigate complaints about abandoned vehicles on private property and to issue fines.

    CITIES: NEW ROLE FOR CARMICHAEL IN BLOOMINGTON - Bloomington Communications Director Mary Catherine Carmichael will take on a new role in January as the city's director of public engagement (Bloomington Herald-Times). Carmichael has served as the city's communications director since January 2016. Prior to that role, Carmichael served as Mayor John Hamilton's transition director as he took office. Starting in the new role on Jan. 2, 2018, Carmichael will earn a salary of $72,828. “Much of my work over the last two years has been focused on sharing important information with the community," Carmichael said in a city news release.

    COUNTIES: LAKE COUNCILMAN TO SPEND CHRISTMAS IN JAIL - Lake County Councilman Jamal Washington will remain in jail until after Christmas on new domestic violence charges that threaten his career as a public official for the second time in two years (Dolan, NWI Times). Washington, 44, of Merrillville, also faces the prospect of a longer period of incarceration if a judge finds he violated the terms of his probation for battering his wife in 2015.

    COUNTIES: MONROE TO CONTINUE NEEDLE EXCHANGE - Monroe County will continue its needle exchange program for at least the next two years (Bloomington Herald-Times). A needle exchange program, interchangeably called a syringe exchange program, allows injection drug users to receive clean needles intended for one-time use and has been operating in Monroe County since February 2016. “We were not surprised, and very pleased, the commissioners agreed to extend the syringe services program,” Penny Caudill, administrator of the Monroe County Health Department, said Monday. The county commissioners last week approved the program in Monroe County through the end of 2019.

    COUNTIES: SUIT AGAINST HUNTINGTON JUDGE MOVED TO U.S. COURT - A lawsuit alleging harassment and retaliation against a Huntington County judge has been moved to federal court (LeBlanc, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Filed last week by Heather Malone, the county's chief probation officer, the lawsuit says Huntington Circuit Court Judge Thomas Hakes sent her unwanted online messages and emails from 2015 to this year... The lawsuit was moved Monday from Huntington Superior Court to U.S. District Court of Northern Indiana. Paperwork signed by Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill says the federal court has jurisdiction in the case because it alleges the violation of constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection under the law.

    COUNTIES: FORMER FRANKLIN TRUSTEE REPORTEDLY TO PLEAD - The former trustee of Franklin County's largest township is set to plead in the criminal case involving her and allegations of misuse of taxpayer funds (Sprague, Connersville News Examiner). Britney D. Ison, who served as Brookville Township trustee from February 2012 to December 2014, has a change of plea and sentencing hearing set for Jan. 9, 2018 in Franklin Circuit Court 2 regarding a Class D felony count of theft and a Level 6 felony count of theft, stemming from an investigation conducted by the Indiana State Board of Accounts in December 2015 into alleged financial misconduct during her tenure as trustee.

    COUNTIES: OVERCROWDING AT VIGO JAIL COSTING TAXPAYERS - A new jail in Vigo County is effectively on hold after critics raised questions about its projected costs (Haggerty, Indiana Public Media). In the meantime, residents are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to house inmates at other jails. Vigo County Sheriff Greg Ewing says overcrowding has been an issue since the original jail was constructed. "Well we have spent, you know, $370,000 in just housing our inmates in other counties, year to date," Ewing says.

    COUNTIES: EDUCATING PUBLIC IN KOSCIUSKO ABOUT OPIOID EPIDEMIC - Opioid overdoses are on the rise in Kosciusko County, and Monday night community leaders and law enforcement officials are educating the public about how to combat this epidemic (Short, WNDU-TV). Dozens of residents filled Center Lake Pavilion in Warsaw Monday in a 'call to action' against drugs.

    COUNTIES: ELKHART RV FIRM TO ADD 100 ROBOTS - The number one component supplier to the RV industry plans to add at least 100 additional robots to its factory floors over the next five years (Peterson, WNDU-TV). "More and more people are using automated machinery as well as robotics to be able to get their work done," Lippert Components Inc.President Scott Mereness told NewsCenter 16. "Just like everyone else we're struggling with the labor market."

    COUNTIES: WABASH SITE CERTIFIED PRIME - Officials in Wabash County will Tuesday celebrate a major designation for the Wabash Business Complex (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). The city of Wabash and Grow Wabash County will hold a dedication event in recognition of the business park being deemed Indiana Site Certified Prime by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs.

    COUNTIES: FULTON ZONING BOARD BANS WIND FARM - Monday, the Fulton County zoning board voted five to five, leading to no action on an amendment to ban wind farms (Burton, WSBT-TV). This means that the wind farms are still banned and the commission's amendment would be in effect 45 days later. The Fulton County zoning board met Monday to discuss a major wind farm proposal.

    COUNTIES: ST. JOE COUNCIL WEIGHS HEALTH BROKER -  Amid debate over what role St. Joseph County's health insurance broker should play to help prevent future budget mistakes, concerns have been raised that the county doesn't have a contract outlining the firm's responsibilities (Booker, South Bend Tribune). When the county Board of Commissioners hired R&R Benefits in 2013, it did so by approving a "letter of engagement" that — unlike a contract — doesn't outline all of the South Bend firm's responsibilities and how much it is paid. But commissioners are now expected to consider approving such a contract, according to Andy Kostielney, commissioner president. The issue, raised during a County Council meeting last week, comes as officials recently found a budget error that caused a $5.8 million deficit in the county's health insurance fund going into 2018. The mistake has called attention to County Auditor Mike Hamann, as well as the role other officials play in financial decisions.

    COUNTIES: HOWARD COUNCIL VOTES AGAINST US31 J-TURN - The Howard County Council has followed the lead of its northern neighbors and voted to tell state officials J-turns are not welcome on U.S. 31 (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). The council recently voted to approve a resolution that urges Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Joe McGinness to complete U.S. 31 from Hamilton County to Howard County, and on to Marshall County, as a freeway without any of the previously proposed J-turns. Authoring the resolution was Brad Bagwell, an officer on the U.S. 31 Coalition Board who believes transitioning U.S. 31 into a “stoplight-free limited-access freeway” would enhance transportation and increase economic development opportunities for north central Indiana. “This was originally brought up because of the J-turn issue. The state wanted to put J-turns on U.S. 31, and that’s been resolved, at least for now,” said Bagwell, who first submitted the resolution to the council in June.  

  • CITIES: FORT WAYNE CHURCH ARMING -  Church shootings are becoming more common in the U.S. and churches across the country are taking steps to prepare themselves, either through hired security or active shooting training. That added security is no exception for a Fort Wayne church (WANE-TV). Members of Abundant Life Church on Coliseum Boulevard have been mapping out security plans and taking shooting classes. Five or 10 years ago they wouldn’t have thought it was necessary, but now they believe this type of security is a must. “I think after the Texas shooting it became very real to all of us that unfortunately this is starting to become more and more prevalent,” said head of security Chris Williams.

    COUNTIES: IU STUDENTS OPPOSE TAX INCREASE - Some Indiana University students are voicing their opposition to the proposed controversial food and beverage tax in Monroe County. Another issue for some of the IU College Republicans is that the next public hearing, and perhaps a vote on the tax, is this week — finals week at IU (Bloomington Herald-Times). “This tax is also being voted on in the middle of finals week at IU, so students will be busy studying and taking their exams and will not be aware that such a one-sided bill will be going up for vote,” the IU GOP executive board said in a statement on the proposed tax. The students are encouraging their peers to contact local officials and ask them to vote “no” on the 1 percent food and beverage tax.

  • CITIES: MILLER REGAINS CUSTODY OF SON - Jeff Miller will regain custody of his son while the Indianapolis councilman's molestation case moves through court (IndyStar). The decision by Hendricks Superior Judge Mark A. Smith came after Miller's attorneys filed a motion to lift a no-contact order issued late last month. Smith granted the defense's motion Friday afternoon. Miller, 50, faces three level 4 felony counts of child molestation after being accused of fondling two young girls in his Fletcher Place home. Miller told investigators that he did not intend for his touching to be sexual, according to court documents.

    CITIES: INDY DOUBLES DOWN ON IMMIGRANT EFFORTS - The Immigrant Welcome Center is partnering with the city on a new strategy designed to help immigrants, a population a new study suggests has a $9.2 billion impact on the greater Indianapolis area's Gross Domestic Product (Ober, IBJ). The "Beyond Welcome" plan includes creating an Office For International and Immigrant Affairs and language and cultural training for agencies that serve immigrants.

    CITIES: STATE SAYS HOPE FIRE DEPT. TREASURER OWES $48K - An Indiana State Board of Accounts audit has determined the former Hope Volunteer Fire Department treasurer needs to pay back more than $40,000 in missing funds to the department (McClure, Columbus Republic). The state audit, released Thursday, says former treasurer Mathew Mathis owes $48,252.21 for a variety of financial improprieties, including issuing checks to himself without supporting documentation, more than $31,000 in undocumented cash withdrawals and failure to deposit money from fundraisers and other events into fire department accounts.

    CITIES: TEACHERS UNION BACKS TAKEOVER OF MUNCIE SCHOOLS - The leader of the teachers union at Muncie Community Schools is urging the state to assume control of the district, a move opposed by the chamber of commerce (Muncie Star Press). The state's Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB) has scheduled a meeting next week to decide whether a state-appointed emergency manager should be given full control over the district's finances and academics.

    CITIES: KOKOMO FIRE UNION TAKES CITY TO COURT - Kokomo's fire union is taking the city to court in the latest development of what's become a months-long battle over the two sides' collective bargaining efforts (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). The Professional Firefighters of Kokomo Local 396, in a civil suit filed this week in Howard Superior Court 4, is requesting that Judge George Hopkins prohibit the city from terminating the existing fire contract at the end of this year and "until such time that the matter can be arbitrated."

    CITIES: EMS, 911 DISPUTE BETWEEN MUNCIE, DELAWARE COUNTY - The latex gloves are not only off, but they've been flung across downtown (Roysdon & Walker, Muncie Star Press). During Monday's Muncie City Council meeting, in which Mayor Dennis Tyler and Fire Chief Eddie Bell asked for creation of a fire-based city ambulance service, one speaker said that Muncie Fire Department fire responders routinely used Delaware County EMS supplies in instances when both departments have responded to a call.

    CITIES: COMPETITORS PROTEST AWARD TO WESTFIELD'S MAYOR'S NEPHEW - The city of Westfield is moving forward with a proposal from the mayor's nephew to construct a baseball training facility at Grand Park Sports Campus—and another local baseball training center is crying foul (Erdody, IBJ). Sue and Chris Estep, owners of RoundTripper Baseball Academy in Westfield, say they met with Mayor Andy Cook to discuss the possibility of relocating to Grand Park. The discussions took place before the city issued a request for proposals for development of land at the nearly 400-acre youth sports complex.

    COUNTIES: LAKE COUNCILMAN ALLEGEDLY THREATENED WOMAN - Lake County Councilman Jamal Washington is facing several felony and misdemeanor charges in connection to an alleged incident at his Merrillville home, authorities said (Quinn & Lyons, Post-Tribune). Washington, 44, turned himself in to the Lake County Jail Friday, according to the Lake County Prosecutor's Office. Washington was charged with three counts of felony criminal confinement; two felony counts of intimidation; one count of misdemeanor battery resulting in bodily injury; one count of misdemeanor battery and one count of misdemeanor interference with the reporting of a crime, authorities said.

    COUNTIES: DAVIESS HIRES HEALTH LIAISON TO DROP INFANT MORTALITY - According to the latest statistics, Daviess County has the highest infant mortality rate in the state (Grant, Washington Times Herald). That is something officials want to see reversed and they have taken a step to fix the problem. The county has now hired a community health liaison designed to specifically deal with women facing those issues. Guerrero "G" Volcy joined the Daviess County Health Department last month.

    COUNTIES: DEADLINE EXTENDED FOR JOHNSON JAIL PROPOSAL - The county is getting more time to respond to an order from the state to develop a plan to address overcrowding at the jail (Goeller, Franklin Daily Journal). But the issue is still pressing, with more than 400 inmates at the jail as of Thursday — significantly more than the maximum of 322 inmates, county officials said.

    COUNTIES: JUDGE ACCUSED TO HARASSMENT: The chief probation officer for a northeastern Indiana county is suing a county judge, alleging that he subjected her to "a campaign of sex-based harassment, discrimination, and retaliation." Heather Malone's lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that Huntington County Circuit Judge Thomas Hakes sent her dozens of unwanted online messages and emails, tracked her activity on social media and reacted negatively to her dating another man (Associated Press). She alleges the messages continued even after she asked for Hakes to stop. Her suit contends the judge retaliated against her by recommending she be denied a pay raise and told others to circumvent her at the county courthouse, creating a "hostile and oppressive" workplace. A member of the Hakes' staff said Friday the judge has declined to comment on the suit at this time.

    COUNTIES: AUDIT COULD LEAD TO BARTHOLOMEW TRUSTEE CHARGES - The Jackson County prosecutor has agreed to determine whether criminal charges will be filed against a former Rockcreek Township trustee in Bartholomew County (Columbus Republic). AmyMarie Travis has been appointed to serve as special prosecutor in the matter of David E. Buzzard, 16750 E. County Road 200S, and his wife, Jacqueline, court officials said. The Buzzards, both 50, were paid more than twice as much over a four-and-a-half-year period than they were entitled to receive — he as trustee, the highest-ranking position in township government, and she as township clerk, according to a State Board of Accounts audit filed Sept. 12.

  • CITIES: INDIANA FIRM PICKS COLUMBUS FOR 500-WORKER HQ - A Bangalore-based engineering firm that announced plans in November to open a $10 million North American headquarters in Indiana has chosen Columbus for the facility, state officials announced Wednesday in conjunction with company officials (IBJ). Axiscades, which provides product engineering to businesses in a variety of industries, including aerospace, defense, heavy engineering, automotive, energy, medical and health care, said it expects to hire 100 employees in Indiana within a year of establishing operations and 500 workers by the end of 2023. The company said it will initially lease space at 810 Brown St. in Columbus, within three blocks of Cummins Inc.'s corporate headquarters.

    CITIES: ITALPOLLINA PLANS RESEARCH CENTER IN ANDERSON - In addition to an expansion of its production facility, Italpollina has announced it is planning to construct a research center in Anderson (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). Italpollina began constructing its North American headquarters in Anderson in March 2016 and now plans to develop a research center specializing in the sciences such as phenomics and metabolomics, the very basis of Italpollina's product development process.

    CITIES: BLOOMINGTON CHAMBER OPPOSES DEVELOPMENT PROPOSAL - Mayor John Hamilton's administration announced last week it wants to temporarily change Title 20 of the city's Unified Development Ordinance (Wright, Indiana Public Media). The changes would reduce the height and density a developer is automatically allowed to build... The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, which represents nearly 900 businesses, is against the proposal. Interim President and CEO Anne Bono says the city typically adopts a comprehensive master plan before changing the UDO to align with its vision. But the comprehensive master plan, which hasn't been updated since 2002, isn't expected to be approved until January.

    CITIES: HENRY URGES RECONSIDERATION OF PAY-TO-PLAY ORDINANCE - The fate of Fort Wayne's newly-adopted ordinance limiting corporate campaign contributions hangs in the balance following a letter Thursday from Mayor Tom Henry to the City Council urging reconsideration and threatening a veto if the ordinance is not revised (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). "However, since I do agree something needs to be done to make the campaign donation process more transparent, I would prefer to return the ordinance to you, unsigned, for further discussion, debate and modification," Henry said.

    CITIES: MT. VERNON SUPT GETS LETTER AFTER PRAYER COMMENTS - After comments made about coaches praying with students, the Metropolitan School District of Mount Vernon Superintendent Tom Kopatich received a letter from the same national separation of church and state advocacy nonprofit that sent a letter to the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. (Erbacher, Evansville Courier & Press). The Freedom From Religion Foundation said Kopatich's comments raise concerns because "voluntariness does not excuse a constitutional violation" and "leading students in prayers is illegal, not something to 'be careful with.'"

    CITIES: GARY DIVIDED ON HOW TO RESPOND TO LAWSUIT - Gary officials are split on how they should react to a lawsuit challenging the city's declaration as a welcoming city (Tejeda, Post-Tribune). The nonbinding designation, passed in May, states that city officials will not engage in actions that harass people of uncertain immigration status. Common Council member Herb Smith Jr. on Tuesday urged his colleagues to consider revisiting the immigration-related issue so they could consider repealing their action.

    CITIES: PORTAGE MULLS SUING U.S. STEEL - Officials of a northern Indiana city have condemned U.S. Steel's silence over an October spill of a potentially carcinogenic chemical into a Lake Michigan tributary (Associated Press). Portage officials have also threatened to take legal action against the steelmaker. They said they learned of the hexavalent chromium spill through a newspaper article. "We were told this wouldn't happen again. We would told we would be informed. We weren't informed. We need to explore our options legally," said Councilman Collin Czilli.

    CITIES: PUSHBACK OVER CLARKSVILLE MOTEL REDEVELOPMENT PLAN - A plan to redevelop a vacant Clarksville motel into "class A" apartments is receiving pushback from the town's planning and zoning department, which doesn't believe the area is appropriate for residences (Grady, News & Tribune). Denton Floyd Real Estate Group closed on the Crest Motel along U.S. Highway 31 a month and a half ago after it was deemed unsafe for human occupancy and shut down by the Clarksville Building Commissioner around five months ago.

    CITIES: SHELBYVILLE MARKETING DIRECTOR COULD COST $500K - A marketing person to promote the city of Shelbyville for economic and community development could potentially cost more than one-half million dollars over two years (Walker, Shelbyville News). The matter came up for discussion at a meeting of the City Council Monday evening. Mayor Tom DeBaun proposed hiring a director of marketing and communications for $75,000 per year to sell the city as a location for new businesses that would create new jobs. A draft of the job description described "tools needed for success" which included a $100,000 yearly budget. "It's not $100,000," said City Councilman Brad Ridgeway, who contacted The Shelbyville News after the council meeting.

    CITIES: HOMELESS PROTEST FIZZLES AS BUTTIGIEG DEFENDS CITY - Less than a handful of people turned out Wednesday to protest how Mayor Pete Buttigieg has handled the homeless encampments under the Main Street viaduct (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). Michiana Five for the Homeless founder John Shafer, who organized the protest in front of the County-City Building, blamed the sparse showing on the cold weather and said people "are busy."

    CITIES: MUNCIE TO RAZE THREE SCHOOLS - Three former Muncie elementary schools will be sold and demolished for salvage and the property where they now stand will end up in the city of Muncie's hands for potential redevelopment as housing (Roysdon, Muncie Star Press). Details of the fate of the former Storer, Sutton and Mitchell elementary schools, as well as some land at the former Wilson Middle School site, were discussed at Thursday's meeting of the Muncie Redevelopment Commission.

    CITIES: INDYGO BOARD SET TO AWARD RED LINE CONTRACTS - IndyGo's Red Line project is expected to take a big step forward Thursday evening when public transit group's board of directors meets to consider awarding construction contract (Orr, IBJ). IndyGo's staff is recommending that the organization's board award construction contracts to two companies—Goshen-based Rieth-Riley Construction Co. Inc., which has an office in Indianapolis; and Indianapolis-based F.A. Wilhelm Construction Co. Inc. Rieth-Riley submitted a base bid of $30.3 million to build the Red Line route itself, which includes things like road paving and sidewalk improvements.

    COUNTIES: HEALTH PROMPTS BAKER TO RESIGN GREENE AUDITOR POST - Greene County Auditor Patty Baker has announced her resignation (Christman, Greene County Daily World). Baker stated her resignation will take effect Jan. 10, at which time a special caucus will be held and a replacement will finish out her term, which concludes December of 2018. "I've been having health issues for the past few months and my doctor said the stress has not been helping," Baker said. "I have to get me better first." Baker added she still plans to run for county recorder in 2018 after she has recovered.

    COUNTIES: WAYNE COUNCIL HEARS DATA TO BOOST DEPUTY PAY - Wayne County council members saw data showing the county's new sheriff's department patrolmen earn considerably less than new officers at selected other Indiana law enforcement agencies (Emery, Richmond Palladium-Item). Kent Irwin of Muncie's Waggoner, Irwin, Scheele & Associates, Inc., recommended that council raise the beginning patrol salaries. "My initial recommendation to you would be to make the adjustment to patrol officers' hiring and starting rate and build the (pay) system from there," Irwin said.

    COUNTIES: SPENCER SITE DEEMED FIBER-READY - The Lincoln Commerce Center in Rockport is the latest facility to be certified as AT&T Fiber Ready (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). AT&T Inc. says the Spencer County facility received the designation for its high-speed Internet infrastructure that will help local organizations drive economic investment and job creation.

    COULD BE A ‘GOODIN YEAR’ IN SCOTT COUNTY: Indiana Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer said the GOP will target new House Minority Leader Terry Goodin in 2018, but local sources tell Howey Politics Indiana it could be a difficult task.

    HOLCOMB JOINS GOP GOVERNORS URGING TAX CUTS: Gov. Eric Holcomb joined 20 other Republican state chief executives Thursday calling on Republican congressional leaders to approve "meaningful tax reform legislation and send it to the president's desk." (Carden, NWI Times).

    COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT NAMED TO HEAD INDY FBI OFFICE: FBI Director Christopher A. Wray has appointed a counterterrorism expert to be the top bureau official in Indianapolis (Associated Press).

    TRUMP'S APPROVAL HITS NEW LOW IN PEW POLL: President Trump's approval rating has hit a new low, according to a national poll released Thursday (Carter, The Hill). The Pew Research Center poll finds that just 32 percent of Americans polled approve of how Trump is handling his job as president, while 63 percent say they disapprove.

    DEFIANT FRANKEN RESIGNS SENATE: In a stunning close to his congressional career, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) on Thursday announced that he will resign amid multiple allegations that he touched women inappropriately, becoming the second lawmaker to step aside over such accusations in three days (Washington Post).

    REP. FRANKS RESIGNS OVER SURROGACY DISCUSSIONS: Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) announced Thursday that he would resign from office as of Jan. 31, 2018, after discussing surrogacy issues with female staffers (Politico).

    CONGRESS WARDS OFF SHUTDOWN FOR 2 WEEKS: Congress on Thursday passed a two-week stopgap spending bill, deferring until later in the month a bigger fight over what issues should be resolved before lawmakers leave Washington for the year (Wall Street Journal).

    PALESTINIANS WON’T MEET WITH PENCE: A senior Palestinian official says the Palestinians will not meet with Vice President Mike Pence during his upcoming visit to the region because of the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital announced by President Trump Wednesday (CBS News

    VANDERBURGH CORONER SAYS OPIOID CRISIS GROWING WORSE: Last year, the coroner's office worked 50 fatal drug overdoses (Webb, Evansville Courier & Press). This year? "We're way up," Steve Lockyear said. "We were past the 50th at the beginning of November." As of Tuesday, the coroner's office had worked 65 confirmed fatal drug overdoses; 24 came from heroin or fentanyl.

    LoBIANCO TO WRITE BOOK ON PENCE: Tom LoBianco, an AP White House reporter, has signed a deal to write a book on Vice President Mike Pence (Politico Playbook).

    HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Axios reports that Neil King, former Wall Street Journal deputy bureau chief, tweets that he's hearing the total number of congressmen with sexual-harassment skeletons "may top 40." Many lawmakers are scared that Sen. Al Franken set a new threshold for resignation. And yet, Alabama voters appear to be ready to send Roy Moore to the U.S. Senate. GOP sources tell Axios if Moore wins, senators are highly unlikely to fight to boot him. So the partisan divide in Washington grows. - Brian A. Howey

  • CITIES: BOPP SUES GARY OVER 'WELCOMING CITY' ORDINANCE - A prominent Hoosier attorney with strong connections to conservative political causes is suing the city of Gary for allegedly violating Indiana's prohibition on sanctuary cities (Carden, NWI Times). But some Gary city councilmen are willing to consider repealing the ordinance if it means having to defend the lawsuit, they said at Tuesday night's council meeting. Attorney James Bopp Jr., of Terre Haute's Bopp Law Firm, filed suit Tuesday in Lake Circuit Court on behalf of four plaintiffs seeking to prohibit enforcement of the "welcoming city" ordinance approved by the Gary City Council and enacted May 22 by Democratic Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson. Bopp claims the ordinance runs afoul of a 2011 Indiana law that prohibits local governments and their employees, including police, from refusing to communicate or cooperate with federal immigration authorities to protect noncitizens who entered or remained in the United States without legal permission.

    CITIES: CHARLESTOWN MAYOR SAYS CITY HAS DONE NOTHING WRONG - Smiles and applause filled an Indiana library late Monday night as the Pleasant Ridge Neighborhood Association celebrated a judge's ruling in its lawsuit against the city of Charlestown (Sayers, Louisville Courier-Journal). Charlestown Mayor Bob Hall told reporters after the regularly scheduled City Council meeting at City Hall that he saw the ruling differently. He referred to a Monday statement in which the city said a judge "affirmed that the city can inspect, impose fines, and collect those fines" in the low-income Pleasant Ridge neighborhood.

    CITIES: FEDS OUTLINE CASE AGAINST TERRE HAUTE'S FENNELL - With the federal fraud case against Franklin Fennell due to start next week, prosecutors on Monday afternoon filed what amounts to an outline of their case (Fitton, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). In short, it appears the government's case is pegged largely to co-conspirator testimony — including that of an as-yet-publicly unnamed vendor — backed by recordings and documents. Fennell, 49, of Terre Haute, formerly a transportation and building administrator for the Vigo County School Corp., is facing nine counts of wire fraud, one count of theft from a program receiving federal funds and two counts of lying to federal agents.

    CITIES: JUDGE ACCEPTING ARGUMENTS IN MUNCIE LAWSUIT - The resolution to the lawsuit over the city of Muncie's funding for the Madjax makers hub might not come until early 2018 (Roysdon, Muncie Star Press). A Hamilton County judge also ruled as "moot" the city's motion to require Thomas Bracken to post a bond of $4.5 million to match the cost of the $4.5-million city loan that was the target of his lawsuit, filed in September. Attorneys for the city of Muncie and for Bracken, a Ball State University trustee and vocal critic of the city's $4.5-million backup loan for Sustainable Muncie's Madjax makers hub, argued the case and presented testimony during the hearing.

    CITIES: MILLER STATEMENT ON DECISION TO REMAIN ON INDY COUNCIL - Jeff Miller is addressing his decision to keep his seat on the City-County Council while facing three charges of child molestation (WTHR-TV). He released a statement Tuesday saying, "... But I did want to address why I am remaining in my council seat. When I ran for council in 2011, it was for one reason only…to give a voice to those who felt they didn't have a voice. As a former neighborhood president, I knew firsthand how it can be difficult to navigate city and county government. I also heard about areas where people felt enough wasn't being done to protect the quality of life we all desire..."

    CITIES: JEFF COUNCIL APPROVES RAISES FOR MAYOR, CLERK - The mayor and city clerk both will see an annual raise for 2018, after the Jeffersonville City Council approved the final reading of a salary ordinance Monday (Rickert, News & Tribune). According to the ordinance, Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore will get a raise to $104,000 from $94,000, effective January 2018. The sewer department funds $15,000 of Moore's salary with an additional $5,000 being paid to him in his capacity as president of the sewer board... Jeffersonville City Clerk Vicki Conlin's salary will be raised to $70,000 from her current $60,000.

    CITIES: LEBANON MAYOR AGAIN TRIES TO BLOCK PAY INCREASE - Lebanon Mayor Matt Gentry announced a second attempt to stop a pay raise for elected officials Friday morning in an email to Clerk-Treasurer Tonya Thayer and the city council (Doerflein, Zionsville Times-Sentinel). With this, Gentry will have twice tried to stop raises for elected officials, as he had campaigned that he would. The newest veto was announced for the ordinance setting salaries of elected officials for the 2018 budget year. Though the ordinance concerns all elected officials of the city, the only elected official requesting a raise this year is Thayer, who wants a 3 percent bump.

    CITIES: RICHMOND COUNCIL APPROVES MAYOR’S LOOP PLAN - While running for the mayor's office in 2015, Dave Snow often would bring up his vision for a "loop" that would connect Richmond's major amenities, specifically those in the downtown and Historic Depot District areas (Truitt,Richmond Palladium-Item). Bicycle paths and pedestrian crossings would make it easier for residents and visitors to cross the handful of blocks from one part of town to the other. That vision now is one step closer to become reality. Richmond Common Council this week gave its blessing to the project in the form of an 8-1 vote in favor of allowing city officials to apply for a grant to pay for the majority of the cost. Some concerns were expressed by council members about the potential financial impact of the $621,500 that represents the city's 20 percent match for the grant.

    CITIES: LAPORTE TABLES REDISTRICTING REFORM PROPOSAL - A resolution urging state lawmakers to adopt comprehensive redistricting reform drew a long discussion about why it was needed, how it would work and who would be held accountable (Gard, LaPorte Herald Argus). Ultimately, however, members of the La Porte City Council voted to table the measure Monday. Periodic redrawing of electoral and political district boundaries to account for changes in population helps ensure an equal number of people in each district and upholds the constitutional principal of "one person, one vote," according to Leigh Morris, former mayor of La Porte and a member of the Better Government Study Group.

    CITIES: GARY COUNCIL EYES GENESIS CENTER FUNDING - The City Council is likely to move forward with providing the necessary funding to continue operating the Genesis Convention Center for the time being, but questions remain about its future (NWI Times). The City Council on Tuesday moved the ordinance for the 2018 salary and operating budgets to the Dec. 12 Finance Committee for consideration prior to a public hearing at the Dec. 19 council meeting. The budget for the Genesis Center for next year is $848,190 and a $207,165 transfer from the city's casino revenue needs to be made to help fund salaries there.

    CITIES: HIV CLINIC OPENS IN BLOOMINGTON - A Bloomington clinic focused entirely on HIV treatment and prevention will start seeing patients (Fulmore, Indiana Public Media). It is Positive Link's first ever primary care clinic in the southwestern region of Indiana. The facility offers HIV testing and treatment.

    CITIES: INDY INDUSTRIAL BAKERY PLANS $56M EXPANSiON - CraftMark Bakery LLC, an industrial bakery on the west side of Indianapolis, is planning a $56 million expansion that would create 118 jobs over the next three years (Orr, IBJ). CraftMark makes frozen bread dough, frozen cookie dough and ready-to-eat flatbread for quick-service restaurants and in-store bakeries. The company's current facility, a 225,000-square-foot building in the Purdue Research Park at AmeriPlex, was built in 2014 and started shipping its first products early the following year.

    CITIES: WHITESTOWN TO RUN MICROLOAN PROGRAM FOR BUSINESSES - Whitestown businesses will soon be able to borrow money from the town government to purchase land, make improvements to their buildings, or buy machinery and furnishings (Pearl, Zionsville Times-Sentinel). The Whitestown Town Council has appropriated $50,000 for the new revolving fund program, which will provide loans of up to $10,000 to town businesses in an attempt to improve infrastructure and foster economic development.

    CITIES: ANDERSON LOOKS TO INCREASE ELECTRIC CAPACITY BY 25% - Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr.'s administration is looking to use available funding to increase the capacity of Anderson Municipal Light & Power by 25 percent (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). The city administration outlined plans to spend $1.5 million, available through a previous bond issue, to members of the city council during three information sessions on Monday.

    CITIES: FORT WAYNE DISTRICT TO HELP SMALL BUSINESS - The Fort Wayne City Council voted Tuesday to establish the Summit City Entrepreneur and Enterprise District to encourage small business growth in the city (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The Entrepreneur and Enterprise District pilot program was established by the Indiana General Assembly through Senate Bill 514 last spring. According to City Council documents, the program is "designed to enable communities to leverage the past success of their Urban Enterprise Zones into districts of entrepreneurship and innovation more relevant to today's economic environment."

    CITIES: WEST LAFAYETTE APPROVES TRASH EXPANSION ON FIRST VOTE - The West Lafayette City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would expand trash services to about 1,100 county residents (Hall, Lafayette Journal & Courier). The city council voted 8 to 1 with City Councilman Steve Dietrich voting against the ordinance, which would expand trash services to everyone in a residential home that's connected to the city's sewer lines. The second reading won't be until January. The city council can amend the ordinance in between readings.

    CITIES: PRESS ASSOC. HONORS GREENFIELD POLICE CHIEF - Greenfield's police chief has earned a state award for the transparency he showed while his department was under investigation following an officer-involved death (VanOverberghe, Greenfield Reporter). The Hoosier State Press Association awarded Greenfield Police Chief Jeff Rasche the Frank O'Bannon Sunshine Award on Saturday during the press association's annual banquet. The association, which represents newspapers across Indiana, honored Rasche for his openness with the community when an Indianapolis man died after being shot with a Taser by two Greenfield officers in May.

    COUNTIES: DRUG DETOX FACILITY PROPOSED FOR MONROE - If the Indiana Center for Recovery gets county approval, the former Hoosier Energy headquarters north of Bloomington may find new life as an inpatient drug detox facility (Christian, Bloomington Herald-Times). Called "The Haven," the for-profit center would use the office building on Ellis Road, on the east side of Ind. 37, to house 60 people recovering from drug addiction. Most patients would stay at the facility from seven to 15 days under the direction of licensed medical professionals; the center anticipates hiring 55 people.

    CITIES: STATE OKS GARY SCHOOLS HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN - The emergency management firm operating the Gary Community School Corp. won state approval Monday for a health insurance contract that minimizes premium increases and potentially eliminates $2.3 million in debt (Carden, NWI Times). The Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board voted 4-0 to authorize Gary Schools Recovery, Inc., to maintain Cigna as the health insurance provider for the cash-strapped district's 380 employees.

    CITIES: GARY SCHOOL BOARD UNHAPPY WITH POWERLESS STATUS - It's been seven months since the state stripped Gary School Board members of their authority as elected officials (Carlson, Post-Tribune). Despite the time lapse, the new reality continues to be an adjustment for some board members who continue to openly spar with school officials who've inherited their power. Most of the rancor is aimed at emergency manager Peggy Hinckley, whose firm, Gary Schools Recovery LLC, was hired by the state in July to run the financial and academic operations of the troubled district as it wrestles with debts exceeding $100 million and a $1.8 million monthly operating deficit.

    CITIES: GARY SCHOOL BOARD PRESIDENT TO RESIGN - Frustrated by what she termed a lack of direction from state agencies, Gary School Board President Rosie G. Washington on Monday announced her plans to resign at the end of 2017 (Carlson, Post-Tribune). Washington, who joined the board in 2011, represents the sixth district. She submitted a resignation letter to Lake County Clerk Michael A. Brown. Washington's decision to step down on Dec. 31 came three days after Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt announced she was leaving early next year. Washington said her departure from the school board was unrelated to Pruitt's decision to leave.

    COUNTIES: DECATUR MULLS JOINING OPIOID SUIT - County officials are mulling the possibility of joining a class action lawsuit that targets manufacturers and distributors of opioid drugs that, if successful, could see Hoosier cities and counties receive compensation for costs related to the state's "opioid epidemic" (Brown, Greensburg Daily News). Attorneys with the Indianapolis-based Cohen and Malad, LLP detailed the pending litigation for the Decatur County Board of Commissioners Monday morning, which they said includes Marion County and the cities of Lafayette and Hammond as plaintiffs.

    COUNTIES: PULASKI OFFICIALS MULL SHORT-TERM LODGING RULE - Pulaski County officials will consider changes later this month to development rules, including one that would address short-term lodging like the kind provided through Airbnb (Kirk, Logansport Pharos-Tribune). Nathan Origer, executive director of the Pulaski County Community Development Commission/Economic Development, said in an email that the county commissioners will deliberate the Pulaski County Advisory Plan Commission's 9-0 certification of map and text amendments to the county's unified development ordinance, or UDO.

    COUNTIES: ST. JOE LEADS STATE IN UNTESTED RAPE KITS - For years, a massive backlog of sexual assault kits from Indiana’s counties has sat untested for unknown reasons — and St. Joseph County has nearly 500, which is the most in the state (Booker, South Bend Tribune). That’s according to results of a recent state police audit that some local officials and advocates find troubling, arguing that justice for rape accusers has been put on hold. But questions about why it happened remain unanswered, with local and state officials vowing to eventually get to the bottom of the problem. The audit, conducted at the behest of state senators, found the county has 478 kits that have inexplicably not been tested at state police labs. 

  • CITIES: CBD OIL FLIES OFF SHELF IN KOKOMO - Despite confusion and frustration over statements from the Indiana governor and attorney general, local businesses are continuing to sell cannabidiol, or CBD, and they're seeing a spike in sales (Pemberton, CNHI). Mike Wilson, owner of American Dream Hi-Fi in Kokomo, said there has been a lot of confusion around CBD oils, which are used by people for a variety of reasons, including to help relieve stress and pain. Wilson himself uses the CBD products he sells out of his store for anxiety, claiming he cannot use traditional anxiety medications. These oils, he said, help calm him down, and they offer a variety of benefits to his customers who purchase the products.

    CITIES: PLANS FILED FOR IMMIGRATION DETENTION CENTER NEAR ELKHART - A new immigration detention center is one step closer to becoming a reality after documents were filed with the Elkhart County Planning Department on Monday (Bauer, South Bend Tribune). Private prison company CoreCivic submitted a detailed plan on Monday signaling that the company intends to move forward with the construction of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility south of Elkhart. CoreCivic said it will begin planning construction of an approximately $100 million detention facility as soon as it receives approval from the Elkhart County Commissioners and completes negotiations with ICE.

    CITIES: MARTINSVILLE INVESTIGATES $650K PAID WITHOUT BID, CONTRACT - The Martinsville City Council has hired an outside law firm to investigate why a city contractor has received more than $650,000 without a bid or contract (Smith, WTTV). City documents indicate more than $564,000 in infrastructure projects in 2017, like new sidewalks and storm sewers, have all been billed to a single company on top of nearly $88,000 worth of projects in 2016.

    CITIES: INDY DOCTOR ADVOCATES FOR NEEDLE EXCHANGE - IU Emergency Medicine's Dr. Krista Brucker is on a mission to change the way patients who overdose on opioids are treated, ensuring they receive the same level of care as a gunshot wound victim or heart attack survivor (Wren,Indianapolis Monthly). Along the way, she's gained respect as one of the city's most serious opioid fighters. Now, she's trying to convince city officials to set up a needle exchange to avoid deadly—and costly—HIV and hepatitis C outbreaks.

    CITIES: NEW ALBANY COUNCIL OKS $75K FOR HOMELESS COALITION - The Homeless Coalition of Southern Indiana got a foot in the door when the New Albany City Council initially approved $75,000 in funding Monday, but officials want to see some harder financial numbers before the final vote later this month (Rickert, News & Tribune). Keeley Stingel, executive director of the coalition, requested $75,000 from the council Monday, which passed the first two readings 6-1 with Councilman Robert Caesar not present and Council President Patrick McLaughlin against.

    CITIES: SOUTH BEND CREWS CLEAR HOMELESS CAMP - City crews on Monday cleared a homeless encampment from under downtown's Main Street viaduct, following through on the administration's warnings that it would no longer allow people to camp there as winter sets in (South Bend Tribune). The effort drew at least 10 city workers, four police officers, a front-end loader and a large trash truck. The removal was mostly peaceful. One man initially refused to leave but quickly moved aside.

    CITIES: NOTRE DAME PROF PROPOSES SOUTH SHORE RELOCATION - A Notre Dame English professor has an idea he says could save homes in South Bend (Ortega, WSBT-TV). The homes in the Ardmore neighborhood are in danger of being torn down to make way for the re-routed South Shore Line. His proposal is gaining support. That's because it would save 40 homes in the Ardmore neighborhood. He says relocating the train station to the vacant space by the Honeywell plant makes the most sense.

    CITIES: INJUNCTION GRANTED IN CHARLESTOWN SUIT - An Indiana judge granted a temporary injunction that forces Charlestown officials to treat the residents of Pleasant Ridge the same as they do a developer seeking to redevelop the low-income neighborhood (Sayers, Louisville Courier-Journal). In his Monday ruling, Scott County Judge Jason Mount wrote that if the city waives fines for properties owned by Pleasant Ridge Redevelopment LLC, "then it must waive fines imposed on other property owners" in the neighborhood, according to court records.

    CITIES: PERSONAL INCOMES JUMP IN SOUTH BEND-ELKHART - Economic development leaders in the South Bend-Elkhart Region are touting a big jump in per capita personal income (McGowan, Inside Indiana Business). Based on U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data, the South Bend - Elkhart Regional Partnership says total personal income in the regional economy jumped by $1 billion in 2016, compared to a year earlier. The region, which consists of Elkhart, Marshall and St. Joseph counties in Indiana and Berrien and Cass counties in Michigan, includes more than 725,000 residents.

    CITIES: MUNCIE CHANGES EMS PLANS SPENDING LIMITS - The city of Muncie's ordinance creating a fire department-based ambulance service has been amended late in the process to allow for broader spending of revenue created by a potential new ambulance department (Roysdon,Muncie Star Press). The amended ordinance was filed on Friday, in advance of Monday evening's Muncie City Council meeting, and allows "all fees collected by the city assessed for emergency ambulance services within such fund to be used, on proper appropriation, for any lawful purpose."

    CITIES: FEDS SPENT NEARLY $2M IN RICHMOND THIS YEAR - Several local businesses were paid more than $2 million by the U.S. government in the past year for work they've received on-contract from a variety of federal departments and bureaus (Shuey, Richmond Palladium-Item). A total of 11 companies were awarded contracts worth $1,832,103.74 during the federal government's 2017 fiscal year — Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30, 2017 — according to an analysis of data found on by The Palladium-Item. The federal government awarded $456 billion in contracts during the 2017 fiscal year.

    CITIES: STATE SUPREME COURT REFUSES EVANSVILLE APPEAL - The Indiana Supreme Court's refusal to take up the city of Evansville's bid at tossing out a gun owner's lawsuit means the six-year-old case might finally go to trial or mediation (Wilson, Evansville Courier & Press). The Supreme Court last week declined, for a second time, a petition by the city to accept jurisdiction of its an appeal arguing gun owner Benjamin Magenheimer did not properly file a lawsuit claiming his rights were violated. Magenheimer was removed from Mesker Park Zoo while openly wearing a handgun in September 2011. He filed a lawsuit against the city the same month claiming his removal violated a newly enacted state law barring local governments from regulating guns.

    CITIES: BLUEINDY STRIVES TO BE IN BLACK BY 2020 - BlueIndy LLC is facing a big challenge: How do you succeed when so many potential customers are unaware of, uninterested in, or even intimidated by what you're trying to sell? (Orr, IBJ). That's the situation facing James Delgado, 48, who became the electric-car-sharing company's general manager in May. The company, which launched in September 2015, still hasn't turned a profit. And Delgado acknowledges that BlueIndy has yet to be "fully embraced" by Indianapolis.

    CITIES: FEDEX PLANS $385M UPGRADE FOR INDY HUB - Package delivery giant FedEx Corp. plans to invest a whopping $385 million for new equipment over several years at its Indianapolis sorting hub—a project for which it is requesting a $29.2 million tax break from the city of Indianapolis (King, IBJ). The investment would result in the creation of about 125 full-time jobs and 450 part-time positions, according to city filings. FedEx would begin installing the equipment in 2018 and finish in 2026. The jobs would be created over that period of time. The project also would allow FedEx to retain 805 existing full-time jobs at its airport facility and 2,940 part-time positions.

    CITIES: UP TO 400 JOBS COMING TO LIGONIER - Three months after purchasing property and creating more than 100 jobs in Ligonier, Elkhart-based Forest River Inc. is set to expand and bring with it a potential addition of 400 jobs (Lynch, Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly). Ligonier Mayor Patty Fisel said Nov. 22 that the recreational-vehicle manufacturer made an agreement with the Ligonier Industrial Development Corp. to purchase 50 acres of agricultural-zoned land southwest of the intersection of North Main Street and Perry Road, with plans to close on the purchase contract early next week.

    CITIES: FIVE COMPANIES COMMIT TO ADD 500 JOBS IN FISHERS - More than 500 new technology and engineering jobs are coming to Fishers over the next four years, the city announced Monday (Erdody, IBJ). Five Fishers-based companies plan to add a total of 511 jobs and make capital investments totaling $9.6 million by the end of 2021, the city said. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered the five companies a total of $5.6 million in conditional tax credits and up to $495,000 in training grants based on their job-creation plans. The companies must meet their hiring goals before they can receive the incentives.

    CITIES: LAFAYETTE NEWS VETERAN SHOWALTER DIES - Max Showalter, whose career in news spanned four decades in Lafayette... died Sunday (Bangert, Lafayette Journal & Courier). He was 72.

    CITIES: MUNSTER APPROVES BONDS FOR TOWN IMPROVEMENTS - The Town Council passed on first reading an ordinance authorizing the issuance and sale of 2017 Municipal Bonds following a public hearing during its Nov. 20 meeting (Wilds, NWI Times). Two council members were absent. The $1.97 million bond will cover such projects as street lights for Calumet Avenue, vehicles and equipment for the Fire and Police departments and sidewalk replacement.

    CITIES: BLOOMINGTON MAYOR PROPOSES BUILDING HEIGHT RESTRICTIONS - Buildings higher than three stories could still be allowed in downtown Bloomington under proposed changes to the city code (Wright, Indiana Public Media). Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton's office released a proposal last week that would tighten restrictions on building height and density for future projects. Hamilton says the changes wouldn't prohibit tall buildings altogether.

    CITIES: ANNEXATION DELAYED ON ELWOOD COUNCILWOMAN'S OBJECTION - An Elwood City Council member's nay vote on Monday prevented the immediate voluntary annexation of property owned by Elwood Community Schools Board of Trustees member Brent Kane (Bibbs,Anderson Herald Bulletin). As a result, the council has scheduled a special meeting for 6 p.m. Thursday to approve a financial resolution. A financial resolution must be adopted before an annexation ordinance can be approved. "I am all about anyone wanting to be annexed into the city but please remember that the decisions we make and then forget effect (sic) others for years to come," said Linda Moore in an email circulated earlier in the day to her colleagues on the council.

    CITIES: GREENFIELD INVESTS $50,000 IN EVENT SPACE - The Greenfield City Council is putting $50,000 toward an effort to renovate a downtown event space (Quinn, Greenfield Reporter). Council members this week voted to allocate $50,000 of economic development income tax funding toward a project to double the size of 'Lizbeth Ann's Kitchen, an outbuilding behind the James Whitcomb Riley Boyhood Home and Museum.

    COUNTIES: 3% RAISE FOR LAPORTE WORKERS - Full-time employees of LaPorte County government will be given 3 percent pay increases in 2018 (Maddux, NWI Times). LaPorte County Council President Jeff Santana said the hike was a good step toward getting salaries back to where they should be. Until last year, employees had gone without a raise because of money shortages caused by the countywide property tax reassessment from 2006.

    COUNTIES: DAVIESS SEEKS GRANT TO REPLACE COURTHOUSE WINDOWS - Daviess County Commissioners are working with the Southern Indiana Development Commission to land a grant to replace the 104 windows in the Daviess County Courthouse (Grant, Washington Times Herald). SIDC officials on Thursday presented a notice to apply for a $500,000 grant from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs. "That grant would help us get the project done in one season and it would really benefit us toward getting this courthouse back in order again," said Commissioner Michael Taylor.

  • CITIES: WHITING SEEKING VIETNAM SOLDIER FAMILIES - A Vietnam War memorial is getting a face-lift in northwestern Indiana, and officials want to reach the families of four soldiers who died in battle. Whiting hopes to complete the work by Memorial Day. The mayor says the city is looking for anyone who knew David Brown, Ted Hamel, Mike Kurella and Ronald Soucy. Mayor Joe Stahura says the city wants input from their families about the new design. He tells The (Northwest Indiana) Times that a glass panel will depict the history of the war. There also will be photos of the soldiers.

    COUNTIES: MIAMI GETS $10K GRANT - A Miami County program that helps find employment for people facing incarceration for failing to make child-support payments has been awarded a $10,000 grant (Kokomo Tribune). The Miami County Community Foundation awarded the impact grant to United Way of Miami County for its Miami County Works program. The program is free to the public and was formed to help reduce employment barriers for residents.

  • CITIES: MILLER SAYS HE WON’T RESIGN FROM COUNCIL - An Indianapolis city-county councilor at the center of a child molestation investigation has indicated he has no intentions of stepping down from his position at this time (WRTV). The message came to Miller's constituents in Indianapolis' 16th District in his weekly email which was sent Friday afternoon.  The email stated any councilor can attend committee meetings, and share support or disapproval on a proposal. “So regardless of which committees I serve on in the future, know that I will always be at any meeting that impacts the quality of life of neighborhoods in our city,” Miller wrote.

    CITIES: MERIDIAN STREET TO CLOSE AT 28TH ST. - Commuters who travel along Meridian Street to and from work every day will need to find another route beginning in January (WRTV). Meridian Street at 28th Street will be closed due the construction of a tunnel project to clean up Indianapolis' waterways. It is not scheduled to reopen until November of 2018.  28th Street will also be closed east of Illinois Street to Pennsylvania Street for the same duration. The primary detour will be marked at 30th Street from the north and Fall Creek Parkway from the south. You can see a map of the routes below.  The project includes two large sewers to capture and divert combined sewer overflows to the Fall Creek Tunnel. It is part of the DigIndy Tunnel System, which is slated to be completed by 2025. Sidewalks, curbs and pavement will all be restored as part of the project.

    CITIES: EAST CHICAGO COUNCIL WON’T OK IDEM PERMITS - The City Council lent its voice to an environmental issue on Monday when it voted 8-0 to adopt a resolution that opposes a proposed air quality permit application by the Indiana Harbor Coke Co (NWI Times). The resolution expresses a desire that the Indiana Department of Environmental Management deny any request by the company for a modification of its current air quality restrictions without a schedule of compliance, and calls for stricter limits on toxic releases.

  • CITIES: COURT DENIES SELLERSBURG CLERK-TREASURER'S LAWSUIT - A state judge has ruled that Sellersburg Clerk-Treasurer Michelle Miller is not entitled to staff an additional employee in her office without approval by the town council (Beilman, News & Tribune). The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a decision by a special judge from Scott County, who ruled a year ago that the town council had the authority to defund a position in the clerk-treasurer's office in 2015, right before newly elected Clerk-Treasurer Michelle Miller took office. The ruling closes the chapter on the dispute among town officials, whose disagreements initially caused tension.

    CITIES: MILLER MAY BE REMOVED FROM INDY COMMITTEES - Minority leader McQuillen says they can't force Indianapolis City-County Councilor Jeff Miller to resign (Milz, WTHR-TV). He hasn't been convicted, but leadership can and likely will remove him from his three committee assignments. The vote would come just before the start of Monday's meeting... Again, Miller has been charged but not convicted of any crime. Still, McQuillen says going through the legal process could be a long ordeal and that Miller's constituents deserve to be fully represented.

    CITIES: SOUTH BEND'S JOE DORAN DEAD AT 96 - W. Joseph Doran, for decades a power in St. Joseph County politics, died Wednesday in South Bend. He was 96. (Colwell, South Bend Tribune). Doran served five years as St. Joseph Democratic chairman, 1972-77, when the county was known as a bastion of Democratic strength. He also was elected to two terms as county clerk and two terms as county treasurer. A highlight he often cited was working at the 1960 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles with Paul Butler, a South Bend attorney who was then national Democratic chairman, in supporting John F. Kennedy for the presidential nomination.

    CITIES: CEDAR LAKE'S $150M PLAN FOR LAKEFRONT - Town leaders now hope some of Cedar Lake's lustrous past can be incorporated into its future with help from a new economic development project they are spearheading along the lake and in an area of town known as Midway Gardens, on the northeast side of the lake (Wilds, NWI Times). "It's really cool. It's a game-changer," Town Council President Randy Niemeyer said. Town officials formulated an estimate of $150 million for the project by talking to engineers, real estate brokers and other professionals.

    CITIES: BYSTANDER SHOT BY POLICE SUES GOSHEN - A man left paralyzed from the waist down after being shot by a Goshen officer who mistook him for a threat has filed a lawsuit against the officer and the city (Fouts, Elkhart Truth). Fernando Cuevas, 68, was shot by Goshen Police Sgt. Gregory Smith April 5 while officers were responding to a report of a man with a shotgun at Double D's Hometown Bar and Grill. Two other officers fired 25 shots at the man who had the gun, Michael Alcaraz, 19, of Bristol, killing him, according to the suit filed Nov. 22 in the U.S. District Court in South Bend.

    CITIES: BIG CROWD OPPOSES ELKART ICE OFFICE - On Thursday night, more than 140 people gathered at the Our Lady of the Road to organize their opposition to a proposed Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Elkhart County (South Bend Tribune). The proposed facility would sit on 55 acres of land on the west side of Elkhart County Road 7, north of County Road 26 and across the road from the Elkhart County Solid Waste facility. The facility would have 800 to 1,200 beds for ICE detainees and be managed by CoreCivic, a private prison company previously known as Corrections Corporation of America. For the group assembled Thursday night, letter writing and advocacy to local officials is the medium through which they hope to stop the opening of the detention facility. Richard Aguirre, director of corporate and foundation relations at Goshen College, was one of the main speakers at the event. The grandson of Mexican immigrants, Aguirre said his mission in life has become to defend immigrants and refugees. “Over the last 10 months, we have experienced the worst and most radical changes in immigration laws and policies in at least a half century,” Aguirre said. “The government is in the process of constructing this unnecessary wall with Mexico, hiring more immigration agents at a time when undocumented immigration is declining … prioritizing the removal of anyone in this country who is undocumented.”

    CITIES: LEBANON DEMOCRATS CONCERNED OVER CONSOLIDATION PLANS - Mayor Matt Gentry's proposal to consolidate the Lebanon Stormwater Management Board and the Lebanon Board of Public Works and Safety is drawing scrutiny from some local Democrats (Doerflein, Lebanon Reporter). "It looks to some like just two boards getting put together, but I think this needs another look," said Michele Thomas, a local Democrat and Gentry's opponent in the 2015 mayoral race.

    CITIES: MUNCIE CREATING OWN AMBULANCE SERVICE - The city of Muncie is moving ahead with creating its own ambulance service (Roysdon, Muncie Star Press). Muncie City Council is set to hear an ordinance creating a city Emergency Medical Service at its meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the auditorium at Muncie City Hall. The ordinance, which will be introduced Monday evening, establishes a fire department-based EMS, provides a mechanism for assessing fees and allows the city to contract with a provider "until the city determines that it has adequate personnel and equipment to provide the service."

    CITIES: EVANSVILLE MAN INDICTED FOR MURDER AFTER OVERDOSE DEATH - An Evansville man was indicted by grand jury Thursday afternoon for murder after the death of 35-year-old Kourtney Fields (Loesch, Evansville Courier & Press). David Dimmett, 37, is said to have supplied Fields the heroin that led to his overdose. According to a news release from the Vanderburgh County Prosecutors Office, police were able to determine Dimmett had sold Fields the drugs through cell phone records and police interviews.

    CITIES: INDY'S KINETREX PROPOSES $20M LNG PLANT INVESTMENT - Indianapolis-based Kinetrex Energy is planning to invest $20 million into a new plant to turn methane gas captured at landfills and by anaerobic digesters into liquefied natural gas (McGowan, Inside Indiana Business). The former Citizens Energy Group subsidiary has not yet detailed where in central Indiana the plant will be or how many jobs it could create, but says the facility could be operational in 2019. The plant is expected to produce 7 million gallons of LNG per year for transportation fuel.

    CITIES: FISHERS TECH FIRM PLANS $8M EXPANSION - Flexware Innovation Inc., a 21-year-old software development and engineering services firm based in Fishers, said Thursday that it plans to spend $8 million on an expansion that will create 68 high-wage jobs over the next four years(IBJ). The company said it will renovate and update equipment at its 10,000-square-foot facility at 9128 Technology Lane, west of the Interstate 69 and State Road 37 exit. The improvements are slated to be begin early next year and be completed in 2019.

    CITIES: COLUMBUS RIVERFRONT PROJECT AT $8.6M - There are many opportunities as it relates to Columbus' downtown riverfront (WCSI). That was the message shared during Thursday night's presentation by many of the players involved during a joint meeting of the City Council and Redevelopment Commission. The Hitchcock Design Group led the discussion of the proposal, which includes a walking and cycling connection taking people under the Second Street bridge and connecting it to Mill Race Park. Organizers say the idea is to essentially "extend the atmosphere" of the park further downstream.

    CITIES: GREENSBURG EDC NAMES ROBBINS AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR - The Board of Directors of Economic Development Corporation (EDC) Greensburg Decatur County has named Bryan Robbins as the corporation's new Executive Director (Heath, Greensburg Daily News). Robbins will lead efforts to bring new business and industry to the community, assist existing business to grow and expand, and improve the quality of life in Greensburg and Decatur County, according to a statement from the board.

    CITIES: LOOKING FOR STRATEGIES TO ADDRESS INDY'S ABANDONED HOMES - As hundreds of abandoned homes line the streets of Indianapolis, a group of city and community partners are looking to develop strategies to eliminate the eyesores (Heinz, WRTV). Members of city and county government, law enforcement and other community stakeholders have formed the Problem Property Work Group, which has a goal to identify empty buildings and classify them as vacant, abandoned or chronically abandoned.

    COUNTIES: O’DAY BEGINS AS AIC VEEP - Allen County Assessor Stacey O'Day on Nov. 1 began her term as first vice president of the Association of Indiana Counties. She was elected in September during the association's annual conference in Switzerland County (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). "It is my privilege to serve in such an important leadership position," O'Day said in a statement. "The AIC mission is to assist county officials to better serve taxpayers. I look forward to using what I've learned in my assessing career to advocate for policies that help county officials to just that and more."

    COUNTIES: JUDGE GRANTS MORE TIME FOR BUNCICH'S LAWYERS - A federal judge is postponing next week's sentencing of former Sheriff John Buncich, giving his legal team a chance to better prepare for new allegations of his wrongdoing (Dolan, NWI Times). U.S. District Judge James T. Moody issued an order Thursday afternoon granting an urgent request for more time by Valparaiso attorney Bryan Truitt. Truitt complained Wednesday he was being blindsided by government prosecutors who have hinted at new information they intend to use to lengthen any prison term the 71-year-old law enforcement veteran could receive for his bribery and fraud convictions.

    COUNTIES: OPPOSITION TO PROPOSED ICE FACILITY IN ELKHART - On Thursday night, more than 140 people gathered at the Our Lady of the Road to organize their opposition to a proposed Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility in Elkhart County (Bauer, South Bend Tribune). The proposed facility would sit on 55 acres of land on the west side of Elkhart County Road 7, north of County Road 26 and across the road from the Elkhart County Solid Waste facility. The facility would have 800 to 1,200 beds for ICE detainees and be managed by CoreCivic, a private prison company previously known as Corrections Corporation of America. For the group assembled Thursday night, letter writing and advocacy to local officials is the medium through which they hope to stop the opening of the detention facility.

    COUNTIES: JAIL STAFF SHORTAGE NEARS END IN HOWARD - Howard County Jail officials are hopeful a long-time staffing shortage of correction officers is nearing an end (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). The deficiency, impacted by both attraction and retention problems, has for years been an issue at the forefront of jail operations, and has led to recent salary and benefit increases meant to help solve the county's ongoing predicament. Sheriff Steve Rogers – while requesting from the Howard County Council a transfer of $100,000 in overtime pay for corrections officers – told council members Tuesday the jail has made progress in the training of new employees "in an effort, again, to catch up with our deficit of correction officers."

    COUNTIES: ST. JOSEPH TO REFUND $10M IN PROPERTY TAXES - St. Joseph County will refund nearly $10 million in taxes to property owners who successfully appealed assessments, more than twice as much as last year (Booker, South Bend Tribune). So far this year, the county has calculated it will refund $9.7 million in taxes, which includes $1.3 million interest, because of appeals. That's more than double the total refund of $4.7 million in 2016, which included $264,000 in interest. Most of the 2017 refunds have been made, but some large refunds have been put on hold.

  • CITIES: $22.6M CLEANUP PLANNED FOR EAST CHICAGO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday announced a $22.6 million plan to clean up former DuPont industrial land in East Chicago (Lyons, Post-Tribune). The EPA said the 440-acre DuPont facility, at 5215 Kennedy Ave., will focus on removing contaminated material from a solid waste landfill, open or filled land and other industrial property at the site and treating ground water. The EPA said the industrial land and water is contaminated with arsenic, lead, zinc and cadmium. The EPA is collecting public comments on the proposed plans until Jan. 26, according to a news release, and will hold a public hearing Jan. 10... The proposed work at the DuPont site is separate from the EPA's work at the nearby U.S.S. Lead Superfund site.

    CITIES: INDY AREA HOME SALES, PRICES SOAR - Existing-home sales in central Indiana jumped 10.5 percent in October amid soaring prices and rapidly shrinking inventories (IBJ). In the 15-county area, home sales rose from 2,844 in October 2016 to 3,144 last month, according to data released Tuesday by the MIBOR Realtor Association. Area home sales have risen on a year-over-year basis in 21 of the last 24 months. The total number of active home listings in the region dropped a whopping 15.2 percent, from 10,690 a year ago to 9,066 at the end of last month. New listings were up by 1 percent, to 3,268. The average area home sale price during the year-over-year period soared 7.6 percent, to $201,180. The median price rose 7.2 percent, to $164,000.

    CITIES: GALVESTON MARSHALL QUITS - A Cass County town is without a police force for the third time in less than two years (Thieke, WLFI-TV). This comes after the resignation of the Galveston town clerk last week. Galveston is without a police force, again. Town Marshal Gary Fordyce resigned, effective Friday. It comes after less than a year in the position. "He's been the best police officer we've had in years," said Galveston Town Council Vice President Butch Alcorn.

    CITIES: COMPANY TO INVEST $30M IN ANDERSON FACILITY - A Fort Wayne company is investing $30 million in the first phase of a cold storage facility in the Flagship Enterprise Center that will bring 60 jobs to the area by the end of 2018 (de al Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). Interstate Warehousing Inc., a Tippmann Group company, has bought 77 acres near the intersection of Layton Road and 73rd Street. The company broke ground on the facility Wednesday. The 250,000-square-foot facility expected to be completed by the end of August.

    CITIES: HUNTINGBURG ELECTRIC RATES TO DECREASE - Electric rates will decrease some next year for Huntingburg residents, Energy Superintendent John Reutepohler told the Huntingburg Common Council Tuesday evening (Neal, Dubois County Herald). For customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, rates will decrease by $6.07 a month, he said, also saying that the decrease will not affect minimum charges for minimum service. The decrease is the result of the Indiana Municipal Power Agency electric provider planning to decrease its rates to the city by 5 percent next year, Reutepohler explained.

    CITIES: INDY COUNCIL MILLER REQUESTS SPECIAL PROSECUTOR - City-County Councilor Jeff Miller is requesting a special prosecutor to oversee his child molestation case (WTHR-TV). Miller has yet to formally resign from the City-County Council despite facing accusations that he touched two girls inappropriately. The case was already moved to Hendricks County after the judge in Marion County recused himself. Miller's initial hearing is coming up next Monday.

    CITIES: LEBANON APPROPRIATES $69K FOR I-65 STUDY - After tabling the request twice, the Lebanon City Council appropriated $86,900 for a feasibility study to reorganize Lebanon's northern Interstate 65 interchange at exit 141 (Doerflein, Lebanon Reporter). The feasibility study is aimed to determine the best possible configuration of the city's Interstate 65 and U.S. 52 interchange and the best position for an exit to replace the Lafayette Avenue exit.

    CITIES: JUDGE RULES FOR EAST CHICAGO RESIDENTS - A federal judge will let a group of East Chicago residents argue their case in an effort to get a role in negotiations between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and companies held responsible for contamination in the city's Calumet neighborhood (Lyons, Post-Tribune). Judge Philip Simon on Wednesday set a Jan. 18 hearing for both the residents and federal officials to argue whether the intervener status should be granted.

    CITIES: LAFAYETTE SPORTS WRITER WASHBURN DIES - Jeff Washburn, a Hall of Fame sports writer whose career at the Journal & Courier spanned five decades, died Wednesday at his home (Thompson, Lafayette Journal & Courier). He was 63. Washburn had been battling esophageal cancer for several months but was working as a sports writer for several media outlets up to Tuesday night's Purdue basketball victory against Louisville. He began his career as a part-time sports writer in 1972, the same year he graduated from Lafayette Jefferson High School, and was hired full-time by the Journal & Courier following his graduation from Purdue in 1976.

    COUNTIES: ST. JOE TO REFUND $10M IN TAXES - St. Joseph County will refund nearly $10 million in taxes to property owners who successfully appealed assessments, more than twice as much as last year (Booker, South Bend Tribune). So far this year, the county has calculated it will refund $9.7 million in taxes, which includes $1.3 million interest, because of appeals. That’s more than double the total refund of $4.7 million in 2016, which included $264,000 in interest. Most of the 2017 refunds have been made, but some large refunds have been put on hold.

    COUNTIES: NEW ALLEGATIONS FOR BUNCICH - Lawyers for former Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said Wednesday the government has new allegations of wrongdoing it plans to reveal at his Dec. 6 sentencing (Dolan, NWI Times). Valparaiso attorney Bryan M. Truitt asked U.S. District Court Judge James Moody, in a memo made public Wednesday night, to delay the proceedings "a week or two" to better prepare for such a broadside. Truitt doesn't detail the government's new allegations, which Truitt said federal prosecutors intend to use to oppose any leniency for the 71-year-old law enforcement veteran, now facing a lengthy prison term.

    COUNTIES: TEMPORARY SUSPENSION FOR HENRY SPECIAL OLYMPICS - Special Olympics of Henry County is still paying off the debt it incurred from Summer Games and the long-time county coordinator has stepped down (Weik, Shelbyville News). Special Olympics Indiana hosted a conference call Monday night for Special Olympics of Henry County (SOHC) volunteers. Special Olympics Indiana President and CEO Michael Furnish announced that the Henry County organization was approximately $11,000 in debt as of Nov. 21.

  • CITIES: INDY COUNCILMAN MILLER ATTENDING EVENTS -  A city-county councilor facing calls for resignation over child molestation charges attended several community meetings Tuesday night (WTHR-TV). Councilor Jeff Miller was charged November 17 with three counts of child molestation after two young girls told detectives Miller had touched them inappropriately. Miller admitted to massaging the children, but never inappropriately. He was booked into the Marion County Jail the day he was charged and posted bond hours later. Marion County Republican Central Committee Chairman Jim Merritt said Miller was expected to resign his council seat November 20, but has yet to officially step down. Tuesday, Miller attended community events in his district, including a Christmas tree lighting, a crime watch meeting and a neighborhood meeting in Carson Heights.

    CITIES: HENRY WEIGHS VETO AFTER COUNCIL LIMITS CONTRIBUTIONS - The Fort Wayne City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday barring contractors from bidding on city projects if they donate more than $2,000 a year to an elected official's campaign (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Mayor Tom Henry is considering vetoing the ordinance, which passed by a 6-2 vote. Councilmen Geoff Paddock, D-5th, and Glynn Hines, D-6th, opposed the measure sponsored by Councilmen Jason Arp, R-4th and John Crawford, R-at large. Councilman Michael Barranda, R-at large, opposed the ordinance at the council's Nov. 21 meeting, but was absent for the final vote Tuesday.

    CITIES: FORT WAYNE COUNCIL PASSES NORTH RIVER PURCHASE - The Fort Wayne City Council narrowly approved a purchase agreement Tuesday for the vacant North River property north of downtown (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The purchase agreement, approved in a 5-3 vote, went hand-in-hand with an environmental indemnification for the property's current owners to absolve them of liability for any environmental cleanup costs necessary for future development. There are several entities interested in the property, including the Headwaters Junction roundhouse and railroad attraction. Lutheran Health Network previously expressed interest in the property, across from Science Central on North Clinton Street, but withdrew shortly after city officials announced the purchase agreement. The city announced plans this month to buy the 29-acre site for $4.63 million from the Rifkin family, who are the property's current owners. The purchase agreement expires at the end of the month, and city officials plan to close on the property by Friday.

    CITIES: PORTAGE MAYOR SEEKS FEDERAL TRIAL CONTINUANCE - Mayor James Snyder is seeking another continuance in his federal corruption trial (Russell, NWI Times). In a filing Monday in the U.S. District Court in Hammond, Snyder, via his attorney Jackie Bennett, of Indianapolis, has asked the trial be pushed back to no sooner than June 4. According to the filing, the latest request to delay the trial includes a conflict with Bennett's schedule and the need for adequate time to prepare for the trial.

    CITIES: CAMPAIGN HOPES TO BRING MILLENNIALS TO GREENFIELD - Four community organizations have partnered to launch a $100,000 marketing campaign to attract young people to Greenfield (Quinn, Greenfield Daily Reporter). The city of Greenfield, Greenfield-Central School Corp., Hancock Regional Hospital and NineStar Connect have teamed up to hire a firm to oversee a marketing effort stakeholders hope attracts more people — particularly millennials — to move to the city. The groups will invest more than $100,000 — with $80,000 being funded by the city — to work with Matchbook Creative of Indianapolis to create a plan for marketing and branding the city and all it offers.

    CITIES: CHESTERTON CONSIDERS OBTAINING SAFE HAVEN BABY BOX - To date, only two communities in Indiana currently have a Safe Haven Baby Box available to mothers of newborns: Woodburn--where the boxes were developed--and Coolspring Township in LaPorte County (Nevers,Chesterton Tribune). The latter--located at the Coolspring Township Volunteer Fire Department (CTVFD)--was used earlier this month by a mother to give her infant up, safely and anonymously... The incident, however, has prompted an interest on the Chesterton Town Council in Safe Haven Baby Boxes.

    CITIES: DOWNTOWN TAX APPROVED IN EVANSVILLE - Downtown property owners will collectively pay more than half million extra dollars on their property tax bills next year (Evans, Evansville Courier & Press). City Council approved the new tax 9-0 Monday night. The money is to form the Downtown Economic Improvement District, a privately run nonprofit. The organization could use funds for several things, including seasonal decorations, marketing, helping with events, efforts to reduce crime or homelessness, and implementing the Downtown Master Plan released last year.

    CITIES: EVANSVILLE AIRPORT REACHES 17-YEAR MONTLY HIGH - Usage of Evansville Regional Airport in October reached a 17-year high for that month, officials said (Martin, Evansville Courier & Press). Passengers boarding planes in the month totaled 21,539, up from 19,430 in October 2016, an increase of nearly 11 percent. American Airlines boardings for October grew 26 percent, while use of Allegiant's flight to Orlando-Sanford International Airport jumped 39 percent. Allegiant's service connecting EVV and Orlando-Sanford started in June 2016. For the year through Oct. 31, EVV had 183,705 passenger boardings compared to 175,079 for the same time period.

    CITIES: GROUP SAYS EVANSVILLE COACH'S PRAYER VIOLATES 1ST AMENDMENT - Reitz High School football coach Andy Hape's prayer with his team after a game broke constitutional religious laws, says a national separation of church and state advocacy group (Evans & Erbacher, Evansville Courier & Press). The Freedom From Religion Foundation called it a "serious and flagrant violation of the First Amendment" and wants the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. to investigate Hape. An EVSC spokesman said the school district supports those who stand with students during student-led prayer.

    CITIES: CLARKSVILLE REACHES AGREEMENT ON FLOODING FIX - It took almost a year, but two Clark County communities have finally reached a cost-sharing agreement for a project aimed at decreasing downtown Clarksville flooding (Beilman, News & Tribune). The Clarksville Redevelopment Commission and the Jeffersonville-Clarksville Flood Control District each will contribute $2 million to fund the construction of a new pump station at Cane Run Creek. The flood control district also is paying for project design.

    CITIES: WASHINGTON COUNCIL OKS TAX ABATEMENT - The Washington City Council has agreed to offer a tax abatement to Alliance Barrier and its partner Sigma Plastics if the company decides to locate a pair of new production lines in the plant on the city's east side (Grant, Washington Times Herald). The agreement would call for the company to install two lines costing more than $5.1 million. Each of those lines would employ eight people. In exchange, the city would give the company 100 percent abatement on the improvements over five years.

    CITIES: MUNCIE WANTS MADJAZ CRITIC TO POST $4.5M BOND - The city of Muncie wants the critic who filed a lawsuit over funding for the Madjax project to be ordered to post a $4.5-million bond, equaling the amount the city has earmarked for the project (Roysdon, Muncie Star Press). Attorneys for the city have asked a Hamilton County judge to order Thomas Bracken to post a $4.5-million bond. "Defendants respectfully request that the court require the plaintiff to post a bond of at least $4,500,000 to protect defendants from the damages they will incur if this matter is allowed to proceed," Mark Crandley, an attorney representing the city, wrote in a motion filed this week.

    CITIES: BASEBALL STADIUM QUEST COSTS MUNCIE $20K SO FAR - City officials have spent nearly $20,000 so far in pursuing the possibility of a baseball stadium in Muncie (Roysdon, Muncie Star Press). Officials told The Star Press they either didn't know or couldn't talk about the expenditure, which was paid to the Muncie Downtown Development Partnership in payments of $7,000 and $12,500, the latter made in recent days.

    CITIES: RATE INCREASE LIKELY FOR COLUMBUS UTILITIES - Columbus City Utilities will be looking for a rate increase in the face of falling revenue and increasing infrastructure costs (WCSI). Keith Reeves, utilities director, gave a preliminary look at the department's 2018 budget needs during last week's City Council meeting… Reeves says that the projected income for 2018 is down 1.5 percent from the 2017 projections. He adds that there will have to be a rate increase at some point. He says that the utilities department's 2018 proposed budget includes a rate consultant to help determine what kind of rate increases will be needed, and when.

    CITIES: GREENSBURG WATER PLANT IN DESIGN PHASE - All property purchases necessary for the construction of the new Water Treatment plant are finalized and the $18 million project will now move into the design phase (Rethlake, Greensburg Daily News). Darren Burkhart of HNTB reported to the Water Board on Tuesday evening that all landowners involved were "extremely easy to work with" and the proposed new water treatment plant plans are "a go."

    CITIES: WASTE TRANSFER FACILITY UNCERTAIN FOR BLOOMINGTON - The status of a proposed waste transfer facility on the west side of Bloomington is up the air as a private company waits for clearance from state and local entities (Saliby, Indiana Public Media). The company, Indiana Green Transfer and Recycling, wants to expand waste and recycling options where municipal services are less available.

    CITIES: PARKING DEBATE IN TERRE HAUTE - An advisory committee is being formed to address parking concerns in downtown Terre Haute and Mayor Duke Bennett hopes the panel will hold its first meeting in December (Taylor, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Bringing back parking meters is expected to be among the topics discussed, something another college town did several years ago. The 2013 installation of about 1,500 meters in Bloomington after a more than 30-year absence is generating more revenue for the city but reviews are mixed among businesses and customers.

    CITIES: BLOOMINGTON HOSPITALS SETTLE AMBULANCE QUARREL - Two Bloomington hospitals that have been quarreling for nearly two years over ambulance service have decided to settle the matter quietly (Russell, IBJ). The agreement ends a bitter struggle between Monroe Hospital, a money-losing, 11-year-old hospital with 32 beds, and its larger rival, Indiana University Bloomington Hospital, with 273 beds and about 10 times the patient revenue... Under the arrangement, IU Health's ambulances respond to all 911 calls in Monroe County.

    CITIES: CHAMBER BACKS BLOOMINGTON FOOD & BEVERAGE TAX - A proposed 1 percent food and beverage tax in Monroe County has gained additional support (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce says it is backing the tax, funds from which would be used toward the expansion of the Monroe Convention Center in downtown Bloomington. Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton expressed his support for the measure last month. He says the tax would generate $17 million annually.

    CITIES: TERRE HAUTE POLICE CONTRACT SETS MINIMUM STAFF LEVELS - A new two-year contract for Terre Haute police officers requires the city to maintain a minimum level of staffing in the department (Taylor, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). The provision is one of the most significant changes in union contracts for police, firefighters and police department civilian employees that were approved today by the city's Board of Public Works and Safety. All three contracts hold the line on salaries, except for annual increases in longevity for police and firefighters based on years of service.

    CITIES: POLICE CONTRACT RATIFIED IN GOSHEN - Goshen Board of Public Works and Safety members Monday approved a new three-year agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council Inc. (Kline, Goshen News). The agreement includes the hiring of two new police officers for the Goshen department in 2018.

    CITIES: VALPARAISO TO HIRE COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT DIRECTOR - The city soon will be hiring a director of community engagement (Emery, NWI Times). Heath Carter, chair of the city's advisory Human Relations Council, said at his group's meeting Tuesday that more than 80 job applications have been received, and he expects the position will be filled before the HRC has its next meeting on Jan. 23.

    COUNTIES: WAYNE PROSECUTOR SAYS EXCHANGE'S SYRINGES SHOULD BE LABELED - The number of people charged with illegal possession of a syringe in Wayne County is on pace to triple this year, and Prosecutor Mike Shipman wants to know if those needles are coming from the county's exchange program (Truitt, Richmond Palladium-Item). In 2016, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office charged 84 people with that crime. Through mid-November this year, that number has grown to 223. Shipman said he's been told by local law enforcement that the county's syringe exchange is at least partially to blame.

    COUNTIES: PORTER VOTING EQUIPMENT INADEQUATE, OFFICIAL SAYS - The heat is being turned up on a $1.83 million proposal to upgrade Porter County to electronic voting equipment (Kasarda, NWI Times). Sundae Schoon, the Republican director at the Porter County Voter Registration Office, told the Porter County Council Tuesday night that the current equipment is no longer adequate for the county.

    COUNTIES: MARION INMATES HELD FOR DAYS AFTER POSTING BOND - An internal court audit obtained exclusively by CBS4 News shows that despite promised improvements by Marion County Sheriff John Layton, some offenders in the Marion County criminal justice system languish in jail for hours and even days after courts have ordered them released on bond (McQuaid, WTTV). One offender lucky enough to be whisked right through the system in a timely manner was a City-County councilman charged with child molest. The Office of the Marion County Superior Court Administrator last week undertook an audit of offenders who posted bond on Nov. 17 and could reasonably be expected to be set free within hours.

    COUNTIES: SHELBY CONTRACTS WITH KENTUCKY CO. FOR 911 SERVICES - Starting at the end of this week, 911 calls in Shelby County will be answered by a different company that's based in Kentucky (Flint, Shelbyville News). The Shelby County Commissioners approved Mercy Ambulance of Evansville, Inc., based in Lexington, Ky., Monday morning. The company will provide emergency medical dispatch services starting Friday. The vote passed, 3-0. The agreement was previously approved by the city council.

    COUNTIES: MONTGOMERY TO SELF-FUND HEALTH INSURANCE - Montgomery County Commissioners took an important step to save the cost of county employees' health insurance (Cox, Crawfordsville Journal Review). On Monday, commissioners accepted a proposal from Apex, its health insurance agent of record, to pursue self-funding employee health insurance. Commissioners have been pursuing the change for a couple of years and now believe the cost of insurance is justifying the change. The county presently spends nearly $1.5 million in health care. Now, with the change, commissioners expect to save more than $200,000 in 2018.

    COUNTIES: BARTHOLOMEW BUDGET PROCESS WILL RUN INTO NEW YEAR - An almost 17 percent hike in funding for law enforcement — and a nearly 14 percent increase for jail operations — are the biggest spending increases expected in Bartholomew County government next year (Webber,Columbus Republic). Compared to this year, nearly a million more dollars may be funneled into the Bartholomew County Sheriff's Department mainly to fund new vehicles and personnel. But it's not a sure thing. For the first time in recent memory, the county's budget process for a new year will still be going on when the new year begins.

    COUNTIES: MORE THAN $500K REPAIRS FOR BARTHOLOMEW BUILDINGS - Two renovation projects involving county owned government buildings — which, combined, will cost in excess of $500,000 — will get underway in the spring (Webber, Columbus Republic). The Bartholomew County Commissioners announced Monday that they are involved in plans to replace the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the County Courthouse.

    COUNTIES: TIPPECANOE TO STEP UP ANIMAL NEGLECT PROSECUTIONS - Animal rescuers and advocates hauled 64 dogs and eight birds out of Dennis Hansen's rural home on a cold night in October 2016 (Wilkins, Lafayette Journal & Courier). They worried for the pets' safety and survival and less about Hansen's criminal prosecution. That's changed, Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Patrick Harrington said at a recent meeting with members of the media and law enforcement. Harrington formed an animal advisory committee to help prosecute the increasing number of animal abuse cases that find their way to Harrington's office, he said.

    COUNTIES: BROWN PLEDGES TAX FUNDS FOR MAPLE LEAF VENUE - The Brown County Council voted unanimously last week to pledge innkeepers tax revenue to pay the mortgage of the Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center (Couch, Brown County Democrat). That was the third of three board votes needed to move the project along to the next step. Before the council voted, council President Dave Critser told the audience twice that income and property taxes would not be used to pay for the venue.

    COUNTIES: ELKHART PASSES LANDFILL AGREEMENT WITH CITY - A written agreement between Elkhart city and county over solid waste formalizes several longstanding landfill practices, Elkhart County Commissioners heard Monday (Fouts, Elkhart Truth). Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding between the city Board of Works and the county landfill which specifies what each one will be responsible for in terms of waste like leaves, logs and treated sludge as well as cost and maintenance.

  • CITIES: MICHIGAN TAX ABATEMENT BRINGS JOBS - A manufacturing firm with deep roots in Michigan City is bringing jobs from China as part of its latest expansion (NWI Times). The city council awarded Michigan City Paper Box Co. a five-year tax abatement Tuesday night on $1.2 million in new equipment. "I love hearing that,’" said councilman Don Pryzbylinski about work overseas coming back to the United States. At least 12 new jobs could be added to the existing workforce of 87.

    CITIES: COOK BEGINS BLOOMINGTON EXPANSION - Medical-device maker Cook Group expects to start work in December on an expansion project as it takes over a former General Electric refrigerator factory in Bloomington. Company spokeswoman Marsha Lovejoy says it should soon complete its purchase of the factory site that was shut down last year. Cook announced in September it would buy the 70-acre property, where it plans spending $125 million on renovations. The company says it could add 500 jobs over the next decade with the expansion of its Cook Medical unit that makes products such as heart stents and surgical instruments. The Bloomington Herald-Times reports local officials are considering a special tax district that would fund $5 million in landscaping, repaving and exterior building work on the site.

    CITIES: KOKOMO FIREFIGHTERS HEAD TO COURT WITH CITY - Professional Firefighters of Kokomo Local 396 and the city of Kokomo likely are moving headlong into a court saga, after city officials denied a grievance filed by the union relating to collective bargaining efforts (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). The Kokomo Board of Public Works last week denied the union’s grievance, saying in a findings-of-fact document no articles or sections in the previous agreement between the two sides were violated. On Nov. 1, the firefighters’ union filed a grievance against the city of Kokomo relating specifically to the city’s denial of a request for arbitration. The grievance, first disclosed by Local 396 President Chris Frazier, stated, “the city has failed and refused to engage in collective bargaining in good faith.”

    CITIES: RICHMOND CONTRACT TO RAZE OLD REID SITE - The effort to clean up and tear down the former Reid Hospital site began in earnest eight months ago with the hiring of an Indianapolis company to help the city with the process of applying for loans from the state (Truitt, Richmond Palladium-Item). The project is expected to end in July 2019, and TRC Environmental Corporation will be around to see it through the rest of the way. TRC's contract with the city of Richmond recently was amended to include construction management service and professional field oversight for both the remediation and demolition portions of the old Reid project.

  • CITIES: REGION TOWNS COULD BECOME CITIES - Northwest Indiana has the distinction of being home to seven of the state's 10 most populous towns, and 10 in the top 20. According to 2016 U.S. Census estimates, Merrillville has the most residents of any town in Indiana with 34,994, immediately followed by Schererville with 28,701 (Carden, NWI Times). The other Region towns ranked highest in the state by population are Munster (fourth), Highland (fifth), St. John (eighth), Griffith (ninth) and Dyer (10th). Chesterton places 12th, Cedar Lake 15th and Lowell 18th. Under Indiana law, every one of those towns could have become a city years, or even decades, ago, once their population exceeded the city minimum of 2,000 residents. So why do many of the Region's most bustling communities have the same status as Indiana's least-populated locales? "It really just comes down to the preference of the local community, whether they want to remain a town or look at becoming a city," said Matt Greller, CEO of Accelerate Indiana Municipalities, or AIM, which advocates for cities and towns at the Statehouse. Since 1976, only six Indiana towns — none located in Northwest Indiana — have become cities: Carmel, Greendale, Jonesboro, Austin, Westfield and Fishers.

    CITIES: CONTAMINATED WATER FOUND NEAR EVANSVILLE SCHOOLS -  High levels of hazardous dry cleaning solvents are contaminating groundwater near two schools, prompting cleanups (Wilson, Evansville Courier & Press). An environmental consultant working on the cleanups says neither school is at risk. Amy Hood, a resident of a home next door to one of the contaminated sites, says she has struggled with neurological health effects similar to those that might be caused by the chemicals, as well as cancer, and she wonders if there is a connection.  The contaminated sites at 1404 Washington Ave. and 4600 Bellemeade Ave. are located directly across from Bosse High School and Hebron Elementary.

    CITIES: FEDS QUESTION PORTAGE BUSINESS'S TAX BREAK - A recent federal inquiry may center on a significant tax break a local business received several years ago (Dolan, NWI Times). FBI and IRS agents visited Portage Township Assessor Alta Neri last week to ask questions about SRH LLC, which previously owned a multiacre real estate parcel at 5900 Southport Road on which Great Lakes Peterbilt trucks has been doing business for more than 20 years. While the federal agents didn't serve a subpoena for records, they did ask about routine practices of the township assessor's office and took copies of documents related to a decision to reduce SRH's property tax assessments.

    CITIES: ELKHART COUNCIL OKS $1.9M FUNDS FOR DOWNTOWN PROJECT - The Elkhart City Council unanimously approved $1,950,000 worth of funds to aid in the renovation of the Hotel Elkhart in the city's downtown (Horvath, Elkhart Truth). The city is partnering with Mishawaka-based Cressy Commercial Real Estate, who plans to invest some $12 million in the project. Prior to Monday evening's Council meeting, Cressy Commercial Real Estate Senior Vice President Ed Bradley, Jr., delivered a presentation to the Council which provided details of the renovation project. When complete, the renovated building will have multiple uses which include a boutique hotel, retail and office tenants, and a new brewpub.

    CITIES: GRIFFITH IN SECESSION PETITION DRIVE - The signature drive to exit Calumet Township will likely slow down during the holidays, the Town Council said Tuesday (Haber, NWI Times). "We have in (the neighborhood) of 530 signatures," said Council President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd. He said the drive will continue until it is in the thousands. The town needs about 1,300 valid Griffith signatures to request the Lake County Board of Elections to schedule a referendum. If this happens, Griffith voters would be allowed to determine whether to stay with the township or leave it to join another.

    COUNTIES: LAKE CORONER SAYS OPIOID FUNDING 'DESPERATELY NEEDED' - [A]s the opioid crisis presses on, toxicology costs related to overdose deaths is draining the budget, according to Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey (Lyons, NWI Times). One of the concerns we have here at the Lake County Coroner's Office is the huge increase in toxicology expenses," Frey said. In 2016, the department spent more than $86,000 on toxicology tests, Frey said. The cost for 2017 has exceeded $97,000, Frey said. "That lends to this opioid crisis," Frey said.

    COUNTIES: DAYS NUMBERED FOR TIPPECANOE NEEDLE EXCHANGE? - Could all the voices calling for the end to Tippecanoe County's syringe exchange get what they want, just one year in? (Bangert, Lafayette Journal & Courier). David Byers says he's listening. And he's struggling, a week away from a vote that could pull the plug on Gateway to Hope, the county health department's year-old program that offers free syringes in the name of harm reduction – in the form of enticing a growing number of heroin addicts into treatment and keeping a secondary outbreak of hepatitis C and HIV caused by shared needles from leaving Tippecanoe County with two crises on its hands. "I'm still in the middle," said Byers, one of three Republican county commissioners.

    COUNTIES: VANDERBURGH PONDERS NEW JAIL - Vanderburgh County needs to fix its jail. The solution won't be cheap (Evans, Evansville Courier & Press). This month, Indiana Department of Correction told Vanderburgh County officials they must form a plan to address overcrowding and understaffing at the Vanderburgh County Jail. Vanderburgh County officials still have six months to get a jail plan started, but here are a few ways taxpayers may end up paying for adding more bed space at the county jail. Luckily enough for county government, but unluckily for taxpayers, Evansville and Vanderburgh County workers will be taxed 20 percent more on their income in 2018. The City Council-approved tax hike is expected to add more than $4 million into the city's tax revenues and more than $3 million into the county's bank. The caveat on the new income tax revenue is it must go toward public safety expenses. It's not a one-time payout. The city and county will rake in the money annually, which could make a good source for bond payments or salaries.

    COUNTIES: VETERANS COURT MOVES FORWARD IN HOWARD - Howard County officials say they hope to have a veterans court up and running by early next year that will allow offenders in a four-county region who served in the military to get treatment or enter a diversion program rather than go to jail (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). Superior Court II Judge Brant Parry, who will oversee the program, said he has assembled a team of elected and criminal-justice officials who have taken the first steps to get the program off the ground.

    COUNTIES: I-65 LANES OPENING IN CLARK AFTER 2 YEARS - Next week, drivers will notice lanes opening up on Interstate 65 after two years of construction (Beilman, News & Tribune). New lanes on the east side of I-65 between mile markers 8 and 11.2 will open overnight Tuesday. Currently, northbound traffic is routed to the southbound side of the interstate. The switch will result in two lanes of traffic in each direction, marking the return to normal flow since construction began last spring.

  • CITIES: INDY REPUBLICANS UNHAPPY WITH MILLER - Indianapolis City-County Councilman Jeff Miller, who was charged with three counts of child molesting Friday, is drawing frustration from his fellow council Republicans by not resigning from his seat (Colombo, IBJ). Marion County GOP chairman Jim Merritt said Tuesday in a written statement that Miller indicated he would resign from the council on Friday, but he had yet to do so by Tuesday afternoon. "Jeff Miller directly informed me on Friday that he intended to resign from his position on the Indianapolis City-County Council and I expect him to do the right thing and resign immediately," Merritt said in the statement. "Jeff Miller has been investigated and charged with deplorable acts that should immediately disqualify anyone from public office." The Republican caucus of the council also released a statement urging him to resign, and Indiana Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer did so as well.

    CITIES: NOTRE DAME GIVES SOUTH BEND LEAD TESTS KITS -  The city has lots of lead-tainted homes that can poison young kids, but exactly how serious is the problem in different neighborhoods? To help answer that question, the University of Notre Dame Lead Innovation Team has partnered with Adams High School on a unique research project (South Bend Tribune). Earlier this week, university students and faculty handed out a total of 1,340 lead test kits to students in science classes, who will take them home to collect samples of dust, paint and soil.

    CITIES: ERROR COULD COST SCHOOLS $9 MILLION - Schools could see a $9 million cut in funding statewide because lawmakers missed the enrollment projection in the current budget cycle (Kelly, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). An Indiana Department of Education memo going out Friday to schools said the tuition support appropriation of $7.041 billion is not enough to cover the costs, and future payments to schools could see a reduction if legislators don't shift money in the next session... The error is because 6,000 more students enrolled in public school than expected. Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) says it's a top priority once the session begins (Lindsay, WFYI). It's not a bad problem – we have more kids going into to public schools than we did last year," Long says. "But it's a challenge for us only in the sense we need to adjust our numbers."

    CITIES: CONNERSVILLE JOINS LAWSUIT AGAINST OPIOID MAKERS - Add the city of Connersville to the ever-growing list of cities and municipalities nationwide filing suit against opioid manufacturers and distributors, in response to the ongoing opioid epidemic across the country (Sprague, Connersville News Examiner). The city announced Monday, in advance of its Board of Works and Public Safety meeting, that it had hired the law firm of Cohen & Malad, LLP to file a lawsuit on behalf of the city against the opioid manufacturers and distributors.

    CITIES: FORT WAYNE ORDINANCE LIMITS CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS - In a 6-3 preliminary vote Tuesday, the Fort Wayne City Council approved an ordinance that would prohibit companies from bidding on public contracts if they donate more than $2,000 in a calendar year to an elected city official's campaign (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The bill was sponsored by City Councilmen Jason Arp, R-4th, and John Crawford, R-at large, who argued the measure was necessary to curb the appearance of impropriety generated when major campaign donors are awarded municipal contracts. The two industries most affected by the ordinance approved Tuesday are law and engineering firms, Arp said.

    CITIES: MADISON ACCEPTS BIDS FOR WASTEWATER IMPROVEMENTS - Two bids totaling $10,880,996.10 for the final phase of the wastewater utility improvements project were accepted by the Madison Board of Public Works and Safety at its meeting Monday night (Bruck, Madison Courier). Board members accepted the low bids from Thieneman Construction Inc. of Westfield by a vote of 3-0. One bid for collection system improvements was $10,186,996.10 and the other bid, $694,000, was for water-pollution-control facility improvements.

    CITIES: NEW CASTLE PLANS IMPROVEMENTS TO WASTEWATER PLANT - Updates to the City of New Castle's wastewater treatment plant are being considered and a contract with Kleinpeter Consulting Group of Whiteland, Indiana has been approved to provide technical assistance for the effort (Green, New Castle Courier-Times). In early February 2018, city officials are expected to apply to the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) for a grant from the State Community Block Grant (CDBG) planning program.

    CITIES: LIBERTY MUTUAL ADDING UP TO 400 JOBS IN CARMEL - Boston-based Liberty Mutual Group Inc. is planning to add up to 400 Carmel jobs as part of a $14 million expansion plan (McGowan, Inside Indiana Business). The insurance company has a global presence and currently employs 1,430 in central Indiana. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. says the new jobs, expected to be created by 2021, will pay more than the state and Hamilton County average wages.

    CITIES: SHOWALTER RETIRES FROM REPUBLIC - Doug Showalter, a Republic reporter, columnist and editor for nearly 30 years, steps into retirement after today (Columbus Republic). Since 1990, Showalter has served as regional reporter and editor, features editor, city editor, special projects editor and, since 2001, special publications editor. His column writing, an additional contribution to the newspaper that he did for more than 20 of those years, often covered humorous topics from troublesome garden hoses to sleep deprivation.

    COUNTIES: HOWARD JOINS LAWSUIT AGAINST OPIOID DISTRIBUTORS - Howard County is joining the city of Kokomo and government agencies across the United States in a lawsuit against the country's three largest drug distributors for their role in a still-strengthening drug crisis (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). The Howard County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to approve a letter of engagement that allows the county "to participate in the civil suit against those legally responsible for the wrongful distribution of prescription opiates and damages caused thereby."

    COUNTIES: INCREASE IN CASS JAIL STAFF TO MEET DEMAND - For three days last week, no Cass County sheriff's deputies worked the road because they all had to be in the local courts transporting inmates, Sheriff Randy Pryor told the county council on Nov. 17 (Kirk, Logansport Pharos-Tribune). The jail's staff isn't big enough to keep up with the rising inmate population, Pryor explained. County officials have decided to add three more positions at the jail with the possibility of another four more next year.

    COUNTIES: MARION JUDICIAL COMMITTEE INAUGURAL MEETING SET - The body create to make recommendations on the selection and endorsement of Indianapolis judges will hold its first meeting next week (Indiana Lawyer). The Marion County Judicial Selection Committee's organizational meeting Nov. 28 will lay the groundwork for selecting nominees for and making recommendations concerning the retention of judges in Marion County trial courts for the 2018 election cycle. Justice Mark Massa chairs the commission and Court of Appeals Judge Cale Bradford is vice chair. Other members are Billie Breaux, Cordelia Lewis Burks, Bryce A. Carpenter, Lee C. Christie, Susan E. Cline, K. Michael Gaerte, Rick Hurst, Katherine (Katie) F. Jackson-Lindsay, Lacy M. Johnson, Andrew J. Mallon, Adrianne L. Slash and Jennifer Thuma.

  • CITIES: MILLER DOESN’T RESIGN FROM COUNCIL - Jeff Miller is holding onto his City-County Council seat for now, rebuffing Republican Party leaders who are calling on him to step down (Briggs & Ryckaert, IndyStar). Miller on Friday was charged with three level 4 felony counts of child molestation, according to court records in which he is quoted as acknowledging there might be truth to the allegations. He was arrested and released Friday after posting a $10,000 surety bond. Marion County Republican Chairman Jim Merritt said Miller, a Republican, agreed during a Friday phone call to step down from the council. But, as of Monday afternoon, Miller had not yet submitted a letter of resignation. Neither Miller nor his attorney, Jennifer Lukemeyer, responded to requests for comment Monday.

    CITIES: MICHIGAN CITY'S AL WHITLOW DIES UNEXPECTEDLY – Michigan City Councilman Al Whitlow touched many lives, especially children, during his career in education and other forms of public service (Maddux, NWI Times). Whitlow, 78, who was also an assistant coach on the 1966 Elston High School state championship basketball team, died unexpectedly Sunday. Whitlow was executive director of the Michigan City Boys & Girls Club from 2001 to 2014. Funeral arrangements for Whitlow were pending Monday with Coleman & Hicks Funeral Home in Michigan City.

    CITIES: REDISTRICTING PANEL CAUSES STIR IN WHITESTOWN - In light of its booming population growth, the Whitestown Town Council has created a committee that will look into redistricting the town's five council seats — but not all the council members are happy about the way the redistricting is being done (Pearl, Zionsville Times-Sentinel). The council voted 3-2 at their Nov. 8 meeting to form an ad hoc committee, made up of council president Eric Miller and council member Clinton Bohm, that will take charge of remapping the council districts. Council members Jeff Wishek and Kevin Russell voted against the formation of the committee after raising concerns that they were being pushed out of many facets of the town's leadership by Miller, Bohm and council member Susan Austin.

    CITIES: JEFFERSONVILLE MAYOR, CLERK MAY SEE RAISES - An ordinance that would effectively raise the salaries of Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore and City Clerk Vicki Conlin passed the first two readings unanimously at Monday's council meeting (Rickert, News & Tribune). If approved by a final vote at the next meeting Dec. 4, Moore's salary would rise to $104,000 starting in 2018 — a $5,000 increase from what Moore says is his current salary of $99,000.

    CITIES: GARY COUNCILWOMAN TO WITHDRAW SMOKING BAN PROPOSAL - Gary Councilwoman LaVetta Sparks-Wade, D-6th, announced Monday she will withdraw her support and sponsorship of a proposed smoking ban at Tuesday's City Council meeting (Bierschenk, NWI Times). Council Attorney Rinzer Williams said that will effectively kill the proposal unless someone else steps up to support it at Tuesday's meeting. The ordinance was sponsored by Sparks-Wade and brought out supporters and opponents, primarily those from the Majestic Star casinos, to the last City Council meeting.

    CITIES: EX-MERRILLVILLE COUNCILMAN ADMITS TO BRIBERY - A former councilman for the town of Merrillville has admitted taking bribes in a federal plea agreement. The NWI Times reports that 51-year-old Thomas Goralczyk of Merrillville was indicted on felony bribery charges Wednesday by a grand jury in Hammond. The plea agreement was entered Friday. Federal prosecutors say a plea hearing hasn't yet been scheduled.

    CITIES: OPPOSITION TO FEE PROPOSED FOR INDY'S MILE SQUARE - The not-for-profit promotion group Downtown Indy is encountering resistance from some big property owners to its plan to create an economic improvement district within the Mile Square that would raise about $3 million annually through a new fee (Olson, IBJ). For residential property owners, it would be a flat fee of $100. For commercial property owners, it would be one-eighth of 1 percent of assessed value. But detractors of the EID, such as the Indiana Apartment Association, view the fee as an unnecessary tax.

    CITIES: COLUMBUS TO PAY $10M FOR RR OVERPASS - The Columbus City Council is scheduled to take the first step Tuesday night to pay $10 million to the Indiana Department of Transportation for the railroad overpass project (WCSI). Jamie Brinegar, the city's director of finance, says that construction is slated to begin in 2019, much sooner than a typical project of this size. The overpass project is estimated to cost $30 million with the city picking up half of the tab, with help from Bartholomew County, Cummins and the railroad. If approved, the second reading of this ordinance is scheduled for early December.

    CITIES: INVESTMENT BRINGS NEW LIFE TO DOWNTOWN ANDERSON - Investors are bringing new life to four apartment complexes in the near downtown area with plans to add more than 200 newly remodeled units within the next year(de la Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). The Delaware Court, Beverly Terrace and Tower Apartments buildings have sat vacant for several years, and only a portion of the Arbor Village Apartments has been utilized. Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. is encouraged by the projects.

    CITIES: INCREASE IN INDY BUILDING PERMITS - The Builders Association of Greater Indianapolis says single-family building permits in central Indiana rose 11 percent in October (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). The organization, which covers a nine-county region, says even with the increase, room remains for future growth. The BAGI says 550 permits were issued last month, compared with 494 during the same month last year. The organization says 5,258 permits have been issued year-to-date, which is a 6 percent increase over the same period in 2016.

    CITIES: ZIONSVILLE BRACES FOR LITTLE LEAGUE HQ IMPACT - The next few months will be busy for both the Town of Zionsville and Little League International (Leichty, Zionsville Times-Sentinel). With the announcement of the Little League Central Region headquarters relocating to Zionsville on Nov. 10 comes a new batch of preparations. Plans for land acquisition, facility design, and more will be in the works as the end of the year approaches.

    COUNTIES: ALLEN JAIL STAFF EVALUATED FOR OPIOID EXPOSURE - At least 31 Allen County Jail employees, most of them confinement officers, were taken to hospitals for observation Monday after an opioid substance was found in a cell, police said (Chapman, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The Allen County Sheriff's Department is also bringing in a company to decontaminate parts of the jail, Steve Stone, sheriff's department spokesman, said. The sheriff's department is investigating how the opioid substance was brought in, he said.

    COUNTIES: PUTNAM DEPUTY RESENTENCED TO 33 MONTHS - Former Putnam County sheriff's deputy and Greencastle city councilman Terry Joe Smith this morning received a 33-month federal prison sentence for police brutality (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Smith was previously convicted of battering two handcuffed suspects and issue a 14-month sentence by U.S. District Judge William T. Lawrence. However, a panel of three judges for the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on two appeals that Smith must be re-sentenced due the "light sentence" imposed by Lawrence.

    COUNTIES: FUTURE OF TOWNSHIPS TOPIC OF LAPORTE CONFAB - Officials from numerous townships throughout LaPorte County gathered Saturday at Purdue University Northwest in Westville to discuss the future role and outlook of township government (Izquierdo, NWI Times). The meeting was sponsored by the LaPorte County League of Women Voters and the LaPorte County Better Government Study Group. Deborah Driskell, Indiana Township Government Association's executive director and keynote speaker, explained the current role of township government and essential services it offers.

    COUNTIES: PRISON OPERATOR EYES ELKHART FOR ICE CENTER - An Elkhart County official says the nation's largest private prison operator is seeking land for a proposed detention center for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (Associated Press). Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder says he learned of Nashville, Tennessee-based CoreCivic's plans earlier this fall and says it's interested in land adjacent to the Elkhart County landfill. Yoder tells The Goshen News he expects the detention center proposal will be contentious but urged residents to carefully study the proposal when it's unveiled.

    COUNTIES: MOBILE NEEDLE EXCHANGE FINDS HOME IN TIPPECANOE - Tippecanoe County's yearlong search for a spot willing to host a health department trailer carrying its controversial syringe exchange program paid off Monday, when Indiana Health Arnett and county commissioners cut a deal (Bangert, Lafayette Journal & Courier). Starting in December, IU Health Arnett, which operates a hospital and a physicians group in Lafayette, will offer space at one of its Lafayette facilities in the 1500 block of Salem Street.

    COUNTIES: RESIDENTS PUSH BACK AGAINST MIAMI WIND FARM - A group of area residents Monday spoke out against a proposed wind farm project that could bring around 75 turbines to the northern part of Miami County (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). some Miami County residents are pushing back against the proposal, saying the project would mar the landscape and impede landowners near the turbines from building on their property. A group of around 10 people spoke out Monday during a regular meeting of the Miami County Board of Commissioners.

    COUNTIES: HENRY CONTINUES WIND ORDINANCE REVIEW - The Henry County Commissioners continued the process of reviewing the county's Wind Energy Conversion System (WECS) ordinance during a specially-called meeting Thursday night at the W.G. Smith Building in Memorial Park. It was the third such meeting held in recent weeks (Green, New Castle Courier-Times). Commissioners Butch Baker, Kim Cronk and Ed Yanos were joined by concerned citizens Gary Rodgers and Rosalind Richey, who have helped lead the opposition to the development of "wind farms" in Henry County, and David Chambers and Amy Cornell.

    COUNTIES: MIAMI LOOKS TO BOOST GRISSOM BUSINESS - Officials are looking for ways to boost military-related business around Indiana's Grissom Air Reserve Base (Associated Press). The Miami County Economic Development Authority has been awarded a $45,000 contract to analyze business opportunities in a six-county area surrounding the base about 12 miles north of Kokomo. That area is composed of Howard, Miami, Tipton, Cass, Clinton and Fulton counties.

    COUNTIES: PERFORMING ARTS VENUE MOVES FORWARD IN BROWN - The Maple Leaf Performing Arts Center has received two votes of approval from government groups, and it will go before the Brown County Council for an additional vote on financing Monday night (Couch, Brown County Democrat). On Nov. 14, the Brown County Convention and Visitors Commission voted 4-0 to use innkeepers tax revenue to fund the building of the proposed performing arts center. The commission approved a resolution "irrevocably pledging certain innkeepers tax revenues" to make loan payments for 30 years.

    COUNTIES: BROWN JOBLESS RATE LOWEST IN REGION - Brown County continued to be the region's best county for employment in October, and surrounding counties are improving (Bloomington Herald-Times). Brown County's unemployment rate matched its October 2016 benchmark of 3.1 percent in the Indiana Department of Workforce Development's labor force estimate report for October 2017. All other counties in the region saw an improvement over the past year, as did the state and nation. Indiana once again fell short of Minnesota's and Wisconsin's numbers in the Midwest, making its jobless percentage the third-best of states in that region with a non-seasonally adjusted rate of 3.4 percent. Monroe County also saw its joblessness rate drop, from 4.0 percent in October 2016 to 3.4 percent in the same month this year. Within that, the city of Bloomington's October figures moved from 4.4 percent in 2016 to 3.8 percent in 2017.

    COUNTIES: KOSCIUSKO COMMISSIONER PULLS TEEN FROM POND - A Kosciusko County Commissioner pulled a boy out of a pond following an off-road vehicle (ORV) accident Friday night, according to a news release from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (Anderson, Warsaw Times-Union). Two juveniles were riding the ORV near a private pond on Commissioner Cary Groninger's property at 6005 W. Schilling Road around 7 p.m. Friday. The driver, an unidentified 15-year-old from Fort Wayne, lost control of the vehicle near an embankment, causing the ORV to roll over and enter the pond.

    COUNTIES: ELKHART PASSES PRIVATE WATER WELL ORDINANCE - After nearly a year and a half of work, the Elkhart County Commissioners unanimously passed a private water well ordinance Monday (Selman, Goshen News). The approval came directly after a public hearing where several people spoke for and against the legislation, which sets out several new requirements in an effort to map wells and keep groundwater from becoming contaminated.

  • CITIES: 7 IFD FIREFIGHTERS INJURED THIS MONTH -  It's been a busy month for firefighters with the Indianapolis Fire Department. Crews have battled more than 30 fires in November alone - 15 of those fires were in vacant homes - and seven firefighters have been injured (WRTV).

    CITIES: DASH CAM AUDIO MISSING FROM BRAINARD’S CAR - After Carmel Mayor James Brainard crashed his city vehicle in April, Call 6Investigates uncovered that some of the dash camera video recordings from the scene are missing their audio. Two Carmel Police officers arrived at scene minutes after Mayor Brainard crashed his city Ford Fusion along Third Avenue SW on April 20. Their two dash camera systems were recording, but for a period of almost 10 minutes, you can't hear any of the conversations between the two officers or their conversation with the mayor. Instead, those two officer's dash camera systems only record audio from inside the car. In the first car on the scene, you can faintly hear the radio. In the second police car to arrive, just the sound of wipers.

    CITIES: MANSON’S HARD SCRABBLE LIFE IN INDY - Before Charles Manson was a convicted mass murderer, the leader of a cult and one of the most infamous names in the history of American crime, he was a 14-year-old kid living in Indianapolis (WRTV). Manson, 83, was taken to a Bakersfield, California hospital Wednesday. He died late Sunday evening.  Born in Cincinnati, Manson was sent to a boy's school in Terre Haute, Indiana after he was caught stealing, but how and why he left is still unclear. The Indianapolis News reported that his mother quit paying for his care, but other reports show that he escaped after a few days. In a hearing at Juvenile Court on March 7, 1949, the 14-year-old Manson discussed his life with  Judge Joseph O. Hoffman. The hearing resulted in Manson being sent to "Boys Town," a refuge center near Omaha, Nebraska. "I think I could be happy working around cows and horses," Manson said of Boys Town. "I like animals." Judge Hoffman seemed optimistic about Manson's future at Boys Town. "Maybe you'll have that farm yet and be a real farmer, son." Hoffman said, patting Manson on the shoulder. "You just try hard to learn the things they teach." Manson was at Boys Town for three days. He didn't even make it out of orientation.  A 1949 Indianapolis News article was sympathetic to Manson's difficult childhood, with no inkling of the crimes he would commit in the late 1960s. Manson's mother, Kathleen Maddox, would tell him to "get out of the house" while she entertained a "boy friend (sic)," The Indianapolis News reported. He hated living with his mother so much, he got a job and rented a room for himself downtown.

    COUNTIES: MONROE TO UPDATE ZONING LAWS - The last time Monroe County did a complete update of its zoning ordinance was in 1997 (Bloomington Herald-Times). County Planning Director Larry Wilson said a lot has changed in the past 20 years, including the county resuming jurisdiction or zoning control over areas just outside Bloomington city limits, formerly known as the two-mile fringe. The county council last week approved a $200,000 contract with a consulting firm to help rewrite the county zoning ordinance, but the contract still requires additional approvals. “This is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time, and we are very happy to have the opportunity to move ahead,” Wilson said.

  • CITIES: BUTTIGIEG NATIONAL TRAVEL WAY UP - Pete Buttigieg made national news in November 2011 when, at age 29, he was elected the nation’s youngest mayor of a city with at least 100,000 residents. Six years later, his national profile continues to grow, having surged earlier this year when he ran for chair of the Democratic National Committee. He didn’t win but his campaign impressed national party figures, who praised him as a rising star. As his reputation has grown, so has his travel. In the last two years, his number of trips and days out of town have more than doubled compared to his earliest years in office, according to copies of his daily calendar reviewed by The Tribune. From 2016 through September of this year, Buttigieg had taken at least 74 trips spanning 136 days. In his first two years in office, 2012 and 2013, he took less than half as many trips, 30, spanning 52 days. Put another way, Buttigieg was out of town at least 19 percent of the days in 2016-17, with three months still left to go this year. That already is nearly triple the 7 percent of days he was gone in 2012-13, and he has more trips planned before the year ends.

    CITIES: TYLER DENIES WITHHOLDING PUBLIC INFORMATION - Mayor Dennis Tyler on Friday denied that the city of Muncie was withholding public information in The Star Press' request for details in legal fees for attorneys representing the mayor in a federal court lawsuit (Roysdon, Muncie Star Press). Tyler spoke for less than a minute in a Muncie City Hall press conference early Friday afternoon and maintained there was "confusion that the city of Muncie may be refusing to release public information. "We apologize for the internal miscommunication created earlier this week," the mayor said in apparent reference to a letter given to The Star Press on Monday denying the newspaper's Freedom of Information Act records request. "However, the city's refusal to release information is inaccurate."

    CITIES: PORTAGE EYES NEW CITY HALL SITE -  If and when the city builds a new city hall, it will be smack dab in the middle of its newly created downtown area (NWI Times). The City Council Strategic Planning Committee reached a consensus last week that the best place for a new building would be on Vivian and Main streets, centered in a new city square that would be the western twin of the square housing Founders Square Park. While the location, dubbed by the committee the Modesto site because it was initially suggested by City Councilwoman Liz Modesto, D-1st, has presumptively been determined, when it will be built and how it will be financed still is up in the air. Dan Botich, of the consulting firm SEH, suggested before the city moves further they review the 2000 downtown plan that outlined proposed development and improvements in the area between Hamstrom and Willowcreek roads and Central Avenue and the Indiana Toll Road before moving forward.

    CITIES: 5 YEAR PLAN FOR CLARKSVILLE - The first draft of a five-year master plan for the Clarksville park system shows new dog and riverfront archeology parks and a $30 million community center for the city, as well as major renovations to already existing parks (Walden, News & Tribune). Some renovations are minor, such as adding dog waste receptacles to Ashland Park and signage to Cedar Park, but others are significant. A new water feature and miniature golf course for the town waterpark, Clarksville Cove, comes in at an estimated $1.9 million and a new community center, with an indoor pool, would cost as much as $30 million. Parks and recreation board president Bill Wilson says not everything on the list is a guarantee, but rather the list “gives a direction and a prioritization of things we feel we need to do. We can’t do them all at once, but we need to have a focus and a plan.”

    COUNTIES: VIGO VOTE CENTERS TABLED - The Vigo County Election Board decided Thursday to table any potential changes to voting centers and early voting times after hearing from concerned residents during a heated meeting (Indiana Public Media). Several members of the community protested outside the courthouse earlier this week, claiming the board was trying to suppress voters by considering reducing the number of vote centers and early voting hours in the community. Vigo County Clerk Brad Newman says while the board was considering changes to some voting centers, they planned to replace them with larger, handicap-accessible locations. He says the board is tabling any of those decisions until a later meeting after hearing other concerns from the public. “I think that the community’s engagement shows that there’s a passion for voting in Vigo County and I think we need to address that,” Newman says.

    COUNTIES: NW INDIANA TRAFFIC UP 40% - Traffic on the Region's roads has grown dramatically in recent years. Daily vehicle-miles traveled grew 38 percent from 2006 to 2016, ending the period at 30.9 million miles after starting at 22.3 million (NWI Times). Meanwhile, the miles of roads those vehicles travel grew less than 5 percent, to 6,097 miles in 2016 from 5,829 in 2006. Lake County's daily travel grew from 13.2 million miles in 2006 to 19.3 million in 2016; Porter County's from 4.9 million in 2006 to 6.9 million in 2016; and LaPorte County's from 4.1 million to 4.7 million. The previous decade saw a smaller increase in traffic, with region-wide growth of about 12 percent.

    COUNTIES: YODER PULLS OUT OF WASTE DEAL - Monroe County Council member Shelli Yoder is no longer involved with a controversial project to bring a solid waste transfer station to western Monroe County (Rollins, Bloomington Herald-Times). Yoder voluntarily resigned Nov. 6 as one of the owners of Indiana Green Transfer and Recycling after having her name on an application to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management for a permit to construct a solid waste transfer facility. Yoder said she pulled out of the company and the project because she no longer has the time. “The vision of the project, as explained to me at that time, was to introduce much-needed competition into a market that lacks competition entirely, with a purpose of bringing innovative and green approaches to solid waste transfer as well as reducing the current carbon imprint of the community,” Yoder said in an email last week. “I believe in that vision, and continue to want this for all Monroe County residents.”

    COUNTIES: MONROE COUNCIL EYES NEW TAX - A final decision on whether Monroe County should implement a controversial food and beverage tax could be reached by the end of the year (Bloomington Herald-Times). The Monroe County Council will have its first of two meetings on the tax Nov. 28. The seven-member council will consider a 1 percent food and beverage tax for Monroe County. The tax would apply to food sold in restaurants; food trucks; and prepared food items sold in grocery stores. If approved, revenue from the tax would help pay for a proposed expansion of the downtown Monroe Convention Center.

    COUNTIES: ST. JOE CAN’T EXPLAIN $5.8M BUDGET ERROR - St. Joseph County officials blame communication problems for a budget mistake that wasn’t caught for years, causing the employee health insurance fund to sink into the red by $5.8 million (Booker, South Bend Tribune). The oversight, and the deficit it caused, have called attention to County Auditor Mike Hamann, as well as the role other county leaders play in financial decisions. But should the mistake also have been caught by the county’s health insurance broker, R&R Benefits? The South Bend firm doesn’t help the county prepare its budget, but should it be responsible for doing so? Officials are at odds over those questions, with some defending R&R and others saying the county should explore other options.

  • Local

    CITIES: HAMMOND SUES PAIN PILL MAKERS, DISTRIBUTORS - The city of Hammond filed a racketeering lawsuit in federal court Thursday against more than a dozen opioid manufacturers and distributors for their alleged role in causing the opioid addiction crisis (Garrison, NWI Times). The city's lawsuit alleges the manufacturing companies, which include Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson and Teva Pharmaceuticals, used deceptive marketing practices to promote opioid medications beyond their effective short-term use, which has helped fuel a growing crisis in Hammond.

    CITIES: EVANSVILLE EMPLOYEES BUSTED FOR NARCOTICS IN CITY TRUCK - Two Evansville men were caught with narcotics while driving a city water truck around Evansville, police said (Fater, Evansville Courier & Press). Kyle Dillman, 35, and Shawn Williams, 29, were arrested on preliminary charges of possession of a Schedule II narcotic. Law enforcement got a tip in February that city water employees were using and selling prescription pills and other drugs, according to a probable cause affidavit. The Evansville-Vanderburgh County Drug Task Force investigated for several months.

    CITIES: DEBT RATING DIPS AS CARMEL'S FINANCIAL BURDEN RISES - Standard & Poor's has downgraded the city of Carmel's debt rating, saying the suburb is "vulnerable to unanticipated economic or operating swings" given its growing debt levels (Erdody, IBJ). In a press release issued Tuesday, the credit rating agency announced it lowered its long-term rating for Carmel by one notch from AA+ (the second-highest rating) to AA. S&P also lowered the city's rating for a set of 2016 bonds from A+ to A. "The downgrade reflects our view of the city's rapidly increasing debt burden, with mounting leverage that can pressure flexibility and budgetary performance over time," S&P Global Ratings credit analyst Anna Uboytseva said in a media statement.

    CITIES: NEW ALBANY RESIDENTS PLEAD WITH CITY TO CHANGE COURSE - A group of New Albany Housing Authority residents are partnering with a non-partisan activist group to send their message to officials — don't demolish public housing units without a plan to replace every last unit (Beilman, News & Tribune). We Are New Albany, the opposition group, in partnership with non-profit organization Hoosier Action, launched their campaign in a news conference Thursday in front of the City-County Building in New Albany... The plan now calls for the demolition of 515 units without replacing them, instead giving residents the option to locate in another housing complex or to use a Housing Choice Voucher that will subsidize rent in the private market. The plan also involves demolishing other units and rebuilding them, and repairing others.

    CITIES: JEFF/LOUISVILLE AREA MISSES JOB PREDICTIONS - Last year, Uric Dufrene, a Southern Indiana economist, predicted at the college's annual economic outlook breakfast, that the region would see "banner year" growth in 2017 (Grady, News & Tribune). At this year's event, which took place on Tuesday, Dufrene admitted that he was wrong. The Louisville metropolitan area, including Southern Indiana, did add jobs in the past year: just not as many as Dufrene, IUS' executive vice chancellor of academic affairs, had hoped. The economist blamed the results on an inadequate available labor force and asked for local leaders to take action.

    CITIES: FORT WAYNE ARENA/EVENT CENTER DELAYED - The proposed downtown Fort Wayne arena/event center is a lost cause – at least for now (Rodriguez, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Mayor Tom Henry this morning issued a statement saying following through on current development initiatives will take precedence over the $105-million center. "After much debate, study and deliberation, I've made the decision to delay further action by the City of Fort Wayne on the downtown event center project," Henry said in the statement.

    CITIES: PORTAGE ENDS ‘LAVISH’ CARS FOR MAYOR - Mayor James Snyder and the city's economic development director are going to be downsizing the city vehicles they drive after a decision to end leases on a 2016 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2016 Ford Expedition (NWI Times). The Utility Services Board last week approved terminating both leases. Snyder, in an email to city officials Thursday morning, said the two vehicles are parked and ready to be picked up by the leasing company. When contacted Thursday, Snyder declined further comment. The issue of the leased vehicles has been debated by city officials for some time, but last week at a USB meeting, Chairman Mark Oprisko motioned for Snyder to "send back" the two vehicles to the leasing company. "The cost of the vehicles is so lavish," Oprisko said Thursday, adding he brought up the issue because "enough is enough" and the USB has been trying to get things in order since the City Council took it over in March from Snyder's leadership. The USB has been paying $3,624 per month for the lease of the Tahoe, two Expeditions and two Ford Explorers.

    CITIES: DAMAGED MUNCIE FIELDHOUSE INSURED FOR $10M - The historic Muncie Fieldhouse, one of the largest high school basketball gyms in the United States, was insured for nearly $10 million when a severe thunderstorm damaged it recently (Slabaugh, Muncie Star Press). "We're in the (insurance claim) process, and how long the process will take no one knows," MCS chief financial officer Bob Coddington told The Star Press.

    CITIES: DNR PERMIT DELAYS ANDERSON BRIDGE WORK - Barriers are in place, but delay of a state permit is holding up some of the work toward replacing the Eisenhower Bridge in downtown Anderson (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). Work to remove the bridge's westbound lanes is expected to start within the next week. The county is awaiting an Indiana Department of Natural Resources permit to construct a temporary bridge across the White River.

    CITIES: NEW ALBANY CONSIDERS BOND TO FUND PROJECTS - The New Albany City Council will Thursday consider a capital development bond for the Clark/Floyd Counties Convention Tourism Bureau (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). The city says the bond will be funded through an $825,000 grant awarded to the city earlier this year and will support the New Albany Visitor and Historic Generator Project. The city applied for and received the grant in July in partnership with the Culbertson Mansion, which is undergoing several restoration projects. More than $230,000 of the bond will be used toward the full restoration of the historic home's original cast iron.

    CITIES: SOUTH BEND PROJECT AIMS TO GROW SMALL BUSINESS - A new initiative by the city hopes to address the racial wealth divide that exists in South Bend, by fostering the growth of small businesses and developing community organizations (Bauer, South Bend Tribune). The city of South Bend's Office of Diversity and Inclusion hopes to bridge the city's racial wealth divide through it's new Plan for an Inclusive Economy (PIE), which is designed to connect individuals to resources that can help foster new business ventures and address wealth disparities and reduce economic inequality.

    CITIES: GOSHEN WEIGHS NEW TIF DISTRICT - A new tax increment finance district proposed for Dierdorff Road could draw from $20 million in new assessed value, the Goshen Redevelopment Commission heard Tuesday (Fouts, Elkhart Truth). Tentatively called the Dierdorff Economic Development Area, the district would include a proposed hotel to the north and proposed assisted living facility to the south.

    CITIES: BLOOMINGTON VOTES TO RAISE ONE-TIME FEES - Bloomington City Council chose Wednesday night not to increase water and sewer rates but instead voted to increase a number of single charge fees (Lake, Indiana Public Media). City officials say most current customers will not see their bills changed by the increased charges because the fees are associated with specific services. Vic Kelson, Director of Utilities for the city of Bloomington says many of the fees, such as the water test fees, have gone unchanged since 2002.

    COUNTIES: ONLY 14 FAMILIES SIGN UP FOR PRE-K IN MONROE - Just 14 families have applied for free preschool under a state expansion of the On My Way Pre-K pilot program, which will provide 50 Monroe County students with grants to use at approved providers starting in January (Howell, Bloomington Herald-Times). Jennifer Myers coordinates the Monroe Smart Start pre-kindergarten program through the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County. She said the foundation is trying to raise awareness in the county, so more people will apply.

    COUNTIES: HOWARD CORRECTIONS HEAD FIRED - The head of Howard County's community corrections department was fired Thursday as part of a two-week saga that has kept local officials tight-lipped about the director's possible misdeeds (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). The firing, effective Nov. 30 and imposed by the Howard County Community Corrections Advisory Board, will end Ray Tetrault's tenure as director of Howard County community corrections. Tetrault was initially suspended Nov. 2 for up to 60 days, with pay. Howard County Superior Court I Judge William Menges said in a brief and vague statement following an hour-long executive session, not open to the public, that Tetrault's focus had shifted away from the board's philosophy.

    COUNTIES: $3.5M FOR MADISON COURTHOUSE WORK - By a split vote the Madison County Council has approved a $3.5 million loan for the asbestos abatement and remodeling of the courthouse (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). The council voted 5-2 Tuesday to approve the 14-year loan to remove the asbestos that was discovered earlier this year in the Madison County Government Center. Councilmen Brent Holland and Fred Reese cast the dissenting votes. The County Council is pledging the county's share of the local option income tax revenues to repay the loan.

    CITIES: MARION PROGRAM TO GET CHILDREN OUT OF WELFARE QUICKLY - The number of children coming through Marion County's child welfare system has doubled over the past two years (Brosher, WFYI). A new pilot program aims to get some of those kids out of the system and into homes more quickly. The partnership between Child Advocates and the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society is being funded through a nearly $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment. The new Child Permanency Pilot Project is designed to help potential caregivers obtain guardianship of a child that's in the system.

    COUNTIES: INNKEEPER TAX APPROVED IN UNION - Union County soon will be collecting an innkeeper's tax, after the Union County Council approved that action on Thursday (Tharp, Richmond Palladium-Item). While facts concerning the tax have been difficult to find, Melissa Browning, Union County's economic development director, said the county could use the new tax to pay half of her salary, freeing those dollars for other county needs.

    COUNTIES: NANTWORKS SETTLES WITH VIGO RDC - Vigo County and Nantworks have reached a proposed settlement in a lawsuit the county filed earlier this month alleging breach of contract (Greninger, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). The Vigo County Redevelopment Commission approved a resolution for an agreement to settle the suit, in which the county said Nantworks Terre Haute LLC failed to create more than 200 jobs after accepting incentives, including a county-owned building. The deal requires Nantworks to return the former Pfizer Inc. building and 211-acre parcel to the commission.

    COUNTIES: 150 WIND TURBINES CONSIDERED FOR CASS - A wind farm project an energy firm is considering could mean as many as 150 wind turbines coming to northern Cass County (Kirk, Logansport Pharos-Tribune). Renewable Energy Systems, or RES, headquartered in Kings Langley, England, is pursuing the project, which would also bring wind turbines to Fulton and Miami counties. Brad Lila, development director for RES, said in an email that the company is looking at Adams, Bethlehem, Boone and Harrison townships in northern Cass County for the turbines.

    COUNTIES: LAKE COUNCIL TRANSFERS $500K TO COVER SHORTAGES - A series of requests to move around $500,000 to cover end of year expenses at the Lake County Jail illustrates how that department runs short on its budget, according to a county financial adviser (Lyons, Post-Tribune). The Lake County Sheriff's Department asked the County Council to shift the bulk of the $500,000 into its food and lodging and health care budget lines, to cover expenses for the remainder of the year but also cover 2017 bills that come in during 2018.

    COUNTIES: PLEA DEAL REACHED WITH VIGO OFFICIAL - A plea agreement has been signed for a Vigo County official accused of living in Illinois but voting in Indiana (Trigg, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). A suspended one-year jail sentence and informal probation are the plea agreement terms for Jerome D. Kesler, 61, of Paris, Illinois. A trial was to begin Thursday in Vigo Superior Court 1 for Kesler. Instead, the plea agreement is expected to be considered by Judge John Roach on Thursday.

    COUNTIES: MADISON FACING $2.2M IN SICK PAY DEBT - Facing a potential unsecured liability of $2.2 million in accrued sick pay by employees, the Madison County Council wants a change in the policy (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). The council voted 5-2 on Tuesday to approve a resolution asking the Madison County commissioners to revise the current sick leave and sick leave conversion policy for employees.

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  • Bonaventura resigns from Dept. of Child Services
    “I am grateful to Director Bonaventura for her service at the Department of Child Services over the past five years. She has demonstrated unwavering commitment to keeping Hoosier children safe and has led this important state agency in the midst of a growing opioid epidemic that has impacted so many families.” - Gov. Eric Holcomb, reacting to the resignation of Department of Child Services Director Mary Beth Bonaventura on Friday.
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  • Trump continues attacks on FBI
    President Trump continued his war with the FBI on Friday, days after he described the agency as in “tatters” on Twitter. It’s leading to speculation that Trump and allies on Capitol Hill are waging war on the agency as a precursor to discrediting the Mueller investigation and possibly dismissing the former FBI director. “It’s a shame what’s happened with the FBI,” Trump said before heading to the FBI Academy at Quantico. “It’s a very sad thing to watch.”

    Trump suggested the public has a “level of anger” at the FBI and labeled recent text messages from agents on the Mueller investigation as “disgraceful.” Special Counsel Robert Mueller fired an agent from the probe last summer after learning of disparaging tweets of Trump and support for Hillary Clinton. - Brian A. Howey, publisher
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