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Tuesday, September 18, 2018
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  • CITIES: MAYOR SNYDER'S TRIAL BEGINS OCT. 9 - The federal corruption trial for Portage Mayor James Snyder and a tow operator in the city is ready to start on Oct. 9 (Lyons, Post-Tribune). Magistrate Judge John Martin on Friday set the schedule for pre-trial filings as attorneys for Snyder and John Cortina, of Kustom Auto Body, and federal prosecutors ready to seat a jury and begin arguments on Oct. 9. Snyder's case has been pending since November 2016, and been continued four times.

    CITIES: LATINOS RALLY OUTSIDE SOUTH BEND PD - More than 50 community members rallied for Erica Flores Monday evening, hand delivering a list of demands and proposals to the South Bend Police Department (South Bend Tribune). Flores, a 22-year-old mother of two daughters, was hit and killed by officer Justin Gorny in the early morning of July 20 as he traveled roughly 90 mph on Western Avenue while responding to a call of a reckless driver. The “Justice for Erica” rally started downtown outside the County-City Building. Those taking part walked a mile to the police department on West Sample Street, the entire time chanting, “We want justice.” The marchers called for accountability for Gorny’s actions, as well as changes in the justice system and police department. “I am very happy because this is not just for me, it’s for the community,” Soraida Flores, Erica’s older sister, said about the large gathering. “I don’t want my sister’s death to be like it never happened. Something needs to come out of this. I need to make sure this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

    CITIES: FORMER NOBLESVILLE MAYOR RESIGNS FROM COUNCIL - Longtime City Council member and former Noblesville Mayor Mary Sue Rowland has resigned from the council (Tuohy, IndyStar). No reason was given for the abrupt resignation, which was announced Monday by council President Chris Jensen. Jensen called Rowland "a fierce champion for our crown jewel, downtown Noblesville."

    CITIES: CONSULTANTS WARN OF FUTURE SHORTFALLS IN VINCENNES - City officials have finished putting together a spending plan for 2019 which their financial advisors say is full of "sound financial management decisions." (McNeece, Vincennes Sun-Commercial) But problems loom, say representatives of Seymour-based Reedy Financial Group. Reedy's financial advisors said it will become increasingly difficult to maintain city services as state revenues are projected to decrease across the board.

    CITIES: RUSHVILLE FD PROPOSES DUAL-DISPATCH AMBULANCES - The Rushville Fire Department wants to mobilize a dual dispatch and intra-facility transfer ambulance program (Younts,Rushville Republican). The program would reduce the time it takes to get patients initial care by dispatching an ambulance simultaneously with the fire department, while also giving patients access to hospitals with higher levels of care.

    CITIES: $20M FOR MERRILLVILLE COMMUNITY CENTER - The town has a better perception of what could be offered at a new community center and what it could cost to bring the project to fruition (Reilly, NWI Times). Parks Director Jan Orlich said latest plans for the facility call for three full gymnasiums and several multipurpose rooms to be offered there. The facility is projected to be about 90,000 square feet, and early cost estimates for construction is about $20 million, Orlich said.

    CITIES: PLAN WOULD BAN SITTING, LYING ON INDY STREETS, SIDEWALKS - A proposal that would make it illegal to sit or lie on the ground during most of the day in downtown Indianapolis will be introduced this month to the Indianapolis City-County Council by local Republicans (Colombo, IBJ). Council Minority Leader Mike McQuillen and fellow Republican Susie Cordi will introduce the proposal at the council's Sept. 24 meeting. It is not expected to have the support of Democrats, who control the council by a margin of 14-11.

    CITIES: BODY CAMS TOP GOAL OF INDY POLICE CHIEF - The chief of police in Indianapolis says getting body cameras for his officers is a top goal (Associated Press). Chief Bryan Roach tells TV station WRTV that there's a "trust issue" nationally with law enforcement and the cameras are seen as "one of those things to create transparency and a little more trust within the agency." They're already in place in various departments around the country.

    CITIES: HEALTH INSURANCE OPTIONS CHANGE IN FORT WAYNE - City government employees' health insurance options will change when Parkview Health becomes the city's Exclusive Provider Organization (Rodriguez, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The city is switching from a "dual choice option" that allows employees to pick Lutheran Health Network or Parkview for health care and have those services covered by insurance, John Perlich, city spokesman, confirmed in an email today. The move is expected to save the city $4.5 million annually, he said.

    CITIES: OLDENBURG CONSIDERS CREATING WEBSITE - A town of Oldenburg website may be established soon (Blank, Batesville Herald-Tribune). At the Sept. 10 town council meeting, Oldenburg Academy assistant principal Jonathon Maple suggested that 15 students in the school's National Business Honor Society, for which he serves as adviser, could take that task on as a spring project. He estimated the cost at $150-$250 annually.

    COUNTIES: PROGRESS ON HANCOCK'S PLANS FOR JAIL - Following months of back-and-forth discussions and disagreements between Hancock County's two boards, the county council might have taken a big step forward in the years-long jail project (Middlekamp, Greenfield Daily Reporter). The Hancock County Council agreed to work with the Hancock County Board of Commissioners to bond up to $8.5 million for a temporary jail, made up of modified semitrailers; and to start the process of designing a jail and sheriff's department administration building that would cost up to $65 million and would be paid for with a mix of property taxes and income taxes.

    COUNTIES: TOURIST HOMES WORRY SOME IN BROWN - Some on the Brown County Area Plan Commission expressed concerns that the popularity of tourist homes was crowding Brown Countians out of the home buying or long-term rental markets. (Clifford, Brown County Democrat). After studying the maps at their August meeting and hearing from audience members, the plan commission didn't make any decisions yet. They plan to gather more data and comments at their Sept. 25 meeting.

    COUNTIES: RANDOM DRUG TESTING FOR CLARK H.S. STUDENTS - High school students in West Clark Community Schools who are involved in anything outside the classroom will be subject to random, quarterly drug testing due to a new policy (Walden, News & Tribune). The policy went into effect at the start of this school year, according to Tom Brillhart, assistant superintendent for the district.

  • CITIES: COLLEGE AVE. CLOSES; MERIDIAN REOPENS - Heads up northsiders and southsiders - your commute this Monday morning could be incredibly wonky. I-465 on the southwest side will be shutdown, another Fall Creek Bridge will close, and Meridian St. will reopen (WIBC). Let's get right to it! I-465 - eastbound lanes only - are closed on the southwest side after the I-70 interchange to the I-65 interchange for ten days. Shortly after, the westbound lanes will shutdown over the same stretch of road. The College Ave. bridge over Fall Creek will close Monday after morning rush for 60-days to fix the deck and repair the sidewalks. The bridge will reopen on November, 17th - weather permitting. At the same time, Citizens Energy finished work early on a portion of its DigIndy project and reopened Meridian St. from Fall Creek Pkwy. to 30th St. The reopening of Central Ave. bridge - which has been closed all year because of erosion - has been DELAYED until SPRING of 2019. In a press release, the Department of Public Works (DPW) says extra time is needed because of the “historic nature of the bridge.”

    CITIES: CHESTERTON RAISES TRASH FEES -  Town residents will be paying a little more for their trash pickup come Oct. 1 (NWI Times). The Town Council has raised the rate to collect brush from $1 per month to $2 per month. The brush pickup fee is rolled into the trash and recycling fee and will boost the total fee to $17.38 per month. A second ordinance also unanimously approved allows the proceeds from the additional fees to pay for salaries of employees involved in those operations.

    COUNTIES: PORTER COURTHOUSE RENOVATED - The 135-year-old Porter County Courthouse is showing its age. That’s changing, though, with a nearly $2.7 million makeover (NWI Times). This week, the courthouse renovations will get into high gear. The courthouse today looks different than it did when it was built in 1883. A fire in 1934 gutted the building. A 1937 reconstruction of the building didn’t include the original tower, which was destroyed in the fire. The exterior has been getting a facelift this summer, with crumbling masonry, missing ornamentation and leaky windows being replaced.

  • CITIES: BIRD SCOOTERS COME TO BLOOMINGTON - The electric scooter service called Bird has landed in Bloomington this week. Similar to a bike share, the service allows renters to ride the scooters throughout the city using an app (Indiana Public Media). City officials say the scooters appeared throughout Bloomington overnight Thursday, but they received no prior notice from the scooter-sharing company. Public Works Director Adam Wason says he supports sharing services like Bird, but would’ve appreciated prior notice. “Not having been made aware that they were coming to advance, the things we would’ve wanted to focus on would’ve been the educational campaign for the users,” he says.  The scooters are not permitted on sidewalks, but may be docked on bike racks.

    CITIES: HEBRON CLERK ASKED TO REPAY FUNDS - Clerk-Treasurer Alan Kirkpatrick should repay the town more than $7,000 for his mistakes, the State Board of Accounts said in its latest audit (NWI Times). “I was paying, but there’s penalties for paying late, and I didn’t realize the gravity of it, I guess,” Kirkpatrick said Friday. The town also didn’t pay payroll withholding taxes on time to the appropriate federal and state agencies, the audit said. Penalties and interest added up to $7,170.97, according to the audit.

    CITIES: GARY SCHOOLS SEEKS $3M FOR PAYROLL - Gary's cash-strapped school district has won preliminary approval to borrow $3.3 million to cover its employee payroll expenses this fall (Indiana Public Media). The Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board unanimously recommended Thursday that the Gary Community School Corp. receive the state loan to cover employee payroll expenses for October and November. The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports the State Board of Finance will now decide Tuesday whether to finalize the 10-year, zero-interest loan. The loan request is the first since April by the northwestern Indiana school district, which is overseen by a state-appointed emergency manager.

    COUNTIES: MONROE OPIOD OVERDOSES DROP - So far this year, there have been fewer deaths from accidental opioid overdoses in Monroe County than there were by mid-September in 2017 (Bloomington Herald-Times). How much has it decreased? It depends on the source. Monroe County Coroner has different records than the the Indiana State Health Department. But the goal of new legislation that went into effect in July is to reconcile conflicting fatal overdose data at the county and state levels and to identify trends in drug use. According to records maintained by the Monroe County Coroner’s Office, 24 people died of accidental drug overdoses in 2017 from Jan. 1 through Sept. 11. Of those overdose deaths, 21 involved opioids. During the same date range this year, 18 people have died from accidental drug overdoses, and toxicology results are pending in another three death investigations.

  • CITIES: FORT WAYNE PD OFFICER DIES IN PURSUIT - Fort Wayne police have identified the officer who died following a pursuit Monday night (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). David A. Tinsley, a 16-year veteran with the police department, was chasing a suspect police believe was driving a stolen car, a statement from the department said. The pursuit began around 11:15 p.m. near Southcrest and Kent roads and ended at the Rivergreenway near Candlelite Apartments off of Fairfield Avenue just south of Paulding Road. Tinsley and his officer-in-training chased the suspect, Patrick Anthony Faiers, 49, of Fort Wayne, along the Rivergreenway after Faiers crashed the car he was driving in a wooded area just off the greenway, where he was eventually caught. On the way back to his vehicle, Tinsley collapsed, a statement from police said. Officers performed resuscitation efforts until medics arrived. Tinsley was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. Already wearing a black band around his badge, an emotional Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed on Tuesday called Tinsley a friend.

    CITIES: MAYOR HENRY LAUDS OFFICER TINSLEY - Statement from Mayor Tom Henry on the passing of Fort Wayne Police Officer David A. Tinsley (Howey Politics Indiana): "The Fort Wayne Police Department family and the entire City of Fort Wayne are mourning the loss of Fort Wayne Police Officer David A. Tinsley. Officer Tinsley passed away while serving and protecting our community. Officer Tinsley was a respected and valued member of the FWPD team, and he will be missed. My thoughts and prayers are with the Tinsley family during this most difficult time. We're fortunate to live in a community that appreciates and understands the important role that law enforcement has in our everyday lives. We're a safer and stronger City because of the men and women of the FWPD. I've asked that flags in the City of Fort Wayne remain at half-staff until the conclusion of Officer Tinsley's funeral."

    CITIES: STUDENT ALLEGED TO BRING GUN TO MICHIGAN CITY H.S. - A 17-year-old Michigan City High School student was arrested Monday on allegations he brought a gun to school Friday, police said (Reese, NWI Times). Police first learned about 9:15 p.m. Sunday of social media reference about the student having a handgun at school Friday, according to a news release. Police immediately began in investigation. School officials were notified, and safety plans were initiated.

    CITIES: COUNCIL QUESTIONS RICHMOND BUDGET PROPOSALS - After taking a couple of weeks to think things over, city leaders gathered together again Monday night to discuss some unanswered questions about next year's proposed budget (Truitt, Richmond Palladium-Item). Members of Richmond Common Council, Mayor Dave Snow and city department heads met twice a couple of weeks ago to go over the department's budget requests for 2019.

    CITIES: KOKOMO COUNCIL APPROVES RAISES, FIRST READING OF BUDGET - The Kokomo Common Council on Monday approved next year's salaries, including raises for city employees and elected officials, and OK'd a first reading of its 2019 budget (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). They gave first reading approval to the 2019 budget, including dramatic spending increases for the parks and recreation department. The salary ordinances include 2 percent raises for elected officials and all non-contractual employees.

    CITIES: $25M BOND APPROVED FOR EVANSVILLE AQUATICS CENTER - The Evansville Redevelopment Commission has unanimously approved a $25 million bond issuance request to finance the largest portion of the planned $28.4 million Deaconess Aquatics Center (McGowan, Inside Indiana Business). The project, championed by Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, would include recreational and competitive swimming amenities.

    CITIES: ANOTHER $11.2M BUDGETED FOR ELKHART RIVER PROJECT - Only one member of Elkhart's City Council voted against spending an additional $11.2 million on the Elkhart River District project, but there was plenty of discussion (Jorgensen, Elkhart Truth). The vote against the funding came from Dwight Fish, a Democrat representing the 4th District. "We've got a lot of money out here on the table that a lot of people are depending on," Fish said Monday.

    CITIES: APPEALS COURT OVERTURNS PLEASANT RIDGE DECISION - The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Monday that a trial court was erroneous in finding that the City of Charlestown was not in violation of the state's Unsafe Building Law when it imposed fines on homes in the Pleasant Ridge neighborhood for code violations (Rickert, News & Tribune).

    CITIES: FRANCISCAN PLANS $130M HOSPITAL IN CARMEL - Franciscan Health wants to build an orthopedic hospital and medical office building in Carmel, a project costing at least $130 million, to help it meet the growing demand for hip and knee replacements (Russell, IBJ). The health system, based in Mishawaka, has filed documents with Carmel outlining the project and asking for a rezoning for part of the site.

    CITIES: ANDERSON'S WHEELER WELL FIELD ADDED TO EPA LIST - The city's Wheeler well field along Broadway is being added to the national superfund list, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). The city of Anderson and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) announced that continued testing confirms the drinking water provided to city residents and businesses is safe and in compliance with the standards of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.

    COUNTIES: JAY SCHOOL BOARD LIKELY TO OK GUNS FOR SOME STAFF - A rural Indiana school board could authorize access to guns for some staff members next month (Brosher, WFYI). The district bought guns and gun safes in response to school shootings earlier this year. Nearly 50 Jay School Corporation employees volunteered to access the guns in the event of a school shooting, so they could respond while waiting for police.

    COUNTIES: LOCAL INCOME TAXES MAY PAY FOR CLARK JAIL EXPENSES - The Clark County Council is considering reallocating local income taxes to pay for jail and rehabilitation facility expenses (McAfee, News & Tribune). The council discussed options for a new ordinance to redistribute the funding at Monday's meeting. The county currently uses its general fund for correctional and rehabilitation facilities.

    COUNTIES: RANDOLPH APPROVES 2019 BUDGET - Randolph County Council Wednesday approved the final adoption of the county's operating budget for 2019 (Richmond, Winchester News-Gazette). It is still considered a preliminary budget until county officials receive definitive approval from representatives of the State Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF). The county portion of the county property tax rate for 2019 is .0626 cents for every $1,000 of assessed valuation, in comparison – the tax rate for this year is .061 cents per $1,000 of AV.

    COUNTIES: LAKE HEARS COMMENTS ON TARGET PRACTICE RESTRICTIONS - The Lake County Council has received more public comment on whether to restrict gun target practice near rural subdivisions (Dolan, NWI Times). Residents of the Arrowhead subdivision, southwest of Cedar Lake, called on the council in July to amend a county ordinance to put more distance between their homes and careless shooters.

    COUNTIES: LAKE BUDGET INCREASES - A Lake County Council flush with cash gave preliminary approval to a 2019 spending plan that creates new jobs and gives pay raises to many current employees (Dolan, NWI Times). The seven-member fiscal body passed on first read a budget with a surplus of more than $2 million thanks to swelling revenues amounting to a local property tax levy of more than $172 million, increasing income taxes and other government fees. Dante Rondelli, the council's financial director, said, "It's an unusual year and people shouldn't get used to it because it can't last." The council created 19 new job positions, including five additional E-911 dispatchers and eight people to manage the Odyssey court database that launched earlier this year. The council granted a 3-percent wage increase for full-time county employees, including elected official, but excluding positions in various departments including corrections, highway and E-911 whose salaries are governed by collective bargaining agreements.

    COUNTIES: BROADBAND COMING TO PARTS OF SPENCER - The Federal Communications Commission is helping finance broadband improvements across the country (Neal, Dubois County Herald). Perry Spencer Communications will use the money it receives from the FCC to improve broadband speeds in Spencer County, including in Mariah Hill, Santa Claus and southeast of Dale.

  • CITIES: INDY MOURNS PASSING OF REV. ELLIS - A beloved Indianapolis pastor and one of the leaders of the Ten Point Coalition anti-crime group has passed away (Mack, IndyStar). Rev. Charles J. Ellis, 54, died Sunday, according to fellow Ten Point Coalition leader and longtime friend Rev. Charles Harrison. Ellis, pastor of 25th Street Baptist Church on the north side, served as the executive director of the Indiana Ten Point Coalition for five years, before being promoted to serve as the faith-based organization's state director.

    CITIES: HAMMOND SCHOOL BOARD GETS DISTURBING LEAD REPORT - School board members were eager to craft an action plan Monday night after receiving a lengthy summary report hot off the presses that detailed how an environmental consulting firm discovered elevated lead levels in some school water fixtures (NWI Times). Testing conducted by the Whiting-based Pekron Consulting, Inc. discovered a series of drinking fountains and sinks registered at elevated lead levels when tested Aug. 9 through 14 at seven buildings, including six schools, within the School City of Hammond district.  The buildings include Morton High School, the Hammond Area Career Center,  Clark Middle/High School, Columbia Elementary School, Scott Middle School, Lafayette Elementary and the Miller school facility. Buildings were targeted if built before 1986 — the year lead was banned for use in water supply systems.  “(We sampled) any water source where people drink, cook, consumer or ingest,” said Brian Rempert, certified hygienist with Pekron. Of 247 sources tested, 193 fixtures had detectable levels — or above two parts per billion but below the government’s allowable level of 15 parts per billion, Rempert said. 

    CITIES: HEBRON POLICE DISCOUNT DISTURBING SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS - Police on Sunday investigated disturbing social media posts linked to Hebron High School but determined they don't pose a credible threat at this time, Police Chief Joshua Noel said (Reese, NWI Times). The superintendent of MSD of Boone Township notified police Sunday about the posts. Police determined the man who made the posts is currently living on the West Coast, where he is a patient at a mental health facility, Noel said.

    CITIES: BUNKER HILL COUNCILMAN FACES BATTERY CHARGE - A Bunker Hill town councilman is facing a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery after deputies say he grabbed a woman inside a house, causing her to fall and injure her leg (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). Luis Nino, 54, was arrested last Saturday and incarcerated at the Miami County jail. He bonded out on a $3,000, 10-percent cash bond the same day.

    CITIES: $3.75M LOAN TO FUND MICHIGAN CITY UPGRADES - The City Council has agreed to take out a bank loan to pay for energy-saving infrastructure upgrades throughout the city (Ross, NWI Times). The principal comes to $3.75 million, but the interest hasn't been determined yet. The city expects to recoup the money over seven years through reduced energy costs, said council President Don Przybylinski, D-At-large.

    CITIES: NASHVILLE WEIGHS PRESERVATION ORDINANCE - Nashville leaders are looking over a new ordinance that would create one or more Nashville historic districts and put greater protections on historic structures (Clifford, Brown County Democrat). The intention is to "preserve and protect historic or architecturally worthy buildings, structures, sites, monuments, streetscapes, squares and neighborhoods," the ordinance says.

    COUNTIES: TAX CAPS TO COST PORTER $2.3M NEXT YEAR - As local government officials draft budgets for 2019, Porter County Auditor Vicki Urbanik has alerted local officials there to limits they'll have to work within (Ross, NWI Times). Porter County government stands to lose $2,362,123 to tax caps next year, compared to $1,928,006 in 2018, Urbanik's report said. County government will be able to raise just under $41 million in property taxes, compared to just over $39.5 million in 2018, she said.

    COUNTIES: SEMI-TRAILERS PROPOSED TO HOUSE HANCOCK INMATES - Across the state, county jails are dealing with overcrowding, but the Hancock County Sheriff's Office is looking into a temporary solution it says could be a first of its kind for the state (Bull, Fox59). Following the failure of a referendum to build a new jail, the sheriff's office wants to turn semi-trailers into jail space. "My focus is relieving the pressure we currently have," Chief Deputy Brad Burkhart said.

    COUNTIES: 35-HOUR WORK WEEK FOR RUSH EMPLOYEES - The Rush County Council recommended that the county become more in line with other municipalities statewide by requiring hourly personnel to work a 35-hour work week to maintain full-time status that includes benefits and a vacation package (Denzler, Rushville Republican). Any change regarding what constitutes (full-time) hours will not affect elected officials, office holders, those employed by the Rush County Sheriff's Department or Rush County Highway Department.


  • CITIES: INDY COUNCIL TO VOTE ON ROAD PROPOSAL TONIGHT - The City County Council is expected to vote Monday night on road funding for Indianapolis (WTHR-TV). The proposal would approve up to $120 million in bonds to pay for infrastructure projects around the city. It would also approve all of the work planned for the infrastructure projects. The proposal is part of the city's response to awful potholes that have made many roads nearly impossible to drive on.

    COUNTIES: HOWARD COMMISSIONERS OPPOSE UNIONS - Howard County workers won’t be unionizing anytime soon after a decision by the county's commissioners closed the door on a vote that could have started the process toward organizing government employees (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). But a prominent labor leader says the fight isn’t over. The Howard County Board of Commissioners announced Tuesday that a vote on whether to bring unions into the realm of county government won’t take place. There’s no interest among county employees to unionize, say the commissioners; union leaders strongly dispute that assertion.   The announcement came in response to a campaign started this spring. At a March meeting, the commissioners were presented with a sample ordinance giving workers the right to collective bargaining and union representation.

  • CITIES: LATINO RELATIONS WITH SOUTH BEND AT CRITICAL POINT - In the wake of a crash with a police officer that killed Erica Flores, the relationship between South Bend police and the city’s Latino population is at a crucial juncture, according to one community leader (Wright, South Bend Tribune). “I’m not rallying against the police. There are things the city has done to create good, positive momentum,” said Sam Centellas, executive director of La Casa de Amistad, a local community center. “But this instance can erode all of that, and will erode all of that, if they don’t act soon.” With a grand jury deciding not to indict the officer in the crash, all eyes are now on the police department and its ongoing internal investigation, Centellas said. The investigation will determine if the officer, Justin Gorny, violated department policies. “What’s going to happen to him as a police officer?” Centellas asked. The crash occurred on July 20 at the intersection of Western Avenue and Kaley Street, killing Flores, 22. Last week, the grand jury decided not to charge Gorny with reckless homicide. Family members of Flores were upset with the decision and with St. Joseph County Prosecutor Ken Cotter for taking the case to the grand jury instead of directly filing charges himself.

    CITIES: HOGSETT TRIBUTE TO MORIARTY-ADAMS - The following statement can be attributed to Mayor Joe Hogsett, following the passing of Mary Moriarty-Adams (Howey Politics Indiana): “Last night, our city lost a community leader and public servant who dedicated her life to making Indianapolis a better place. For nearly three decades as a City-County Councillor, Mary was a tireless worker on behalf of her constituents and proud advocate for the men and women of our public safety departments. But like so many others, she was more than that to me: Mary was a lifelong friend who freely offered the same unwavering loyalty and razor-sharp wit that she gave everyone in her life. I had the privilege to work alongside Mary on many issues over the years, and there was no one better to have at your side when it came time to roll up your sleeves and get things done. It was that grit and indomitable spirit that helped her improve the lives of those on the Eastside and bend the trajectory of Indianapolis toward greater heights for this and future generations. Her legacy of service has forever changed our city for the better.”

    CITIES: WARSAW WINS LIABILITY JUDGMENT - Attorney General Curtis Hill this week won a judgment of nearly $1 million for the city of Warsaw from a former employee who bilked the city out of hundreds of thousands of dollars (Kelly, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Former Street Superintendent Lacy Francis Jr. participated in a kickback scheme involving a private contractor, Pro Form Pipe Lining Co., and its owner, Marc Campbell, a news release said. Francis helped the company win bids on 11 city projects involving installation of new lining for sewer pipes. The company deliberately overcharged for its work – sometimes by claiming to have done more work than what was actually performed – and shared the windfall with Francis. Last year, Francis was convicted and sentenced to 13 years in jail on multiple felonies related to the scheme. Hill said the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Indiana ruled Tuesday that Francis is responsible for a judgment of $955,707 – plus interest, costs, and attorneys' fees. The judgment represents the misappropriated amounts, audit costs and damages. The former official's attorneys had sought to relieve Francis of his full liability because of his declared bankruptcy. Under the ruling, however, Francis will be responsible for paying the judgment against him once he emerges from bankruptcy.

    CITIES: PORTAGE SEEKS MEDIATOR - The two sides in the lawsuit brought by Portage Mayor James Snyder against the City Council over the legality of the Utility Services Board have asked the court to appoint a mediator (NWI Times). According to a recent joint status report filed in court, a court-ordered plan to transition the Utility Services Board to separate Storm Water and Sanitary boards did not meet an Aug. 28 deadline. Snyder filed a lawsuit against the City Council earlier this year, claiming the Utility Service Board was in violation of Indiana law. The council, which also serves as the USB, took away control of the USB from Snyder last year, citing questionable spending. The two sides reached a consent agreement in late April, approved by Porter Circuit Court Judge Mary Harper, which would eventually disband the USB and establish the two separate boards. The City Council in May approved an ordinance establishing the two boards. The newly formed Storm Water Board and Sanitary Board have been meeting since June. While the transition teams have been working toward the transition, according to court records, they have reached an impasse on two issues.

    CITIES: BUNKER HILL COUNCILMAN FACES BATTERY CHARGE - A Bunker Hill town councilman is facing a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery after deputies say he grabbed a woman inside a house, causing her to fall and injure her leg (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). Luis Nino, 54, was arrested last Saturday and incarcerated at the Miami County jail. He bonded out on a $3,000, 10-percent cash bond the same day.  Miami Superior II Judge Daniel Banina issued an arrest warrant for Nino on Aug. 30, as well as a no-contact order for the victim. His next court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 20, according to court documents.

    CITIES: SURGE IN SOUTH BEND HOTEL ROOMS - There has been an unprecedented surge in the number of new hotel rooms added in the South Bend market over the past couple of years as developers continue to bet tens of millions of dollars that the local economy and the draw of the University of Notre Dame will continue to expand (South Bend Tribune). South Bend’s newest hotel — Embassy Suites by Hilton — is set to open late this week on the south side of E. Angela Boulevard adjacent to Eddy Street Commons. With a price tag of about $40 million, the new hotel is decidedly more upscale than a facility that might be built in an outlying location.

    COUNTIES: MIAMI COURTHOUSE ELEVATOR REPAIRED - The elevator inside the Miami County Courthouse was finally fixed Thursday and is operational after it broke down more than three months ago, causing serious complications for some residents and headaches for some government offices (Kokomo Tribune). The courthouse’s one elevator broke down in mid-May when its driver mechanism went out. County commissioners have been trying to get it fixed since then, but repairs were put on hold because the parts required to make the repair were not available. That’s because the only company in the country that makes the parts is located in California. Commissioner Josh Francis said after months of prodding the company for the parts, they finally arrived Tuesday.

    COUNTIES: PORTER DETAILS TAX CAP IMPACTS - As local government officials draft budgets for 2019, Porter County Auditor Vicki Urbanik has alerted local officials there to limits they’ll have to work within (NWI Times). Porter County government stands to lose $2,362,123 to tax caps next year, compared to $1,928,006 in 2018, Urbanik’s report said. County government will be able to raise just under $41 million in property taxes, compared to just over $39.5 million in 2018, she said. Some county departments are essentially self-funded, like the Department of Development and Stormwater Management, which relies on user fees.

  • CITIES: ANDERSON CITY ATTORNEY, MAYOR'S SON, ARRESTED - Assistant Anderson City Attorney Evan Broderick, the son of Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr., was arrested Wednesday night by Edgewood Police on suspicion of drunken driving and suspicion of leaving the scene of a property damage accident after allegedly running into a utility pole (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said Thursday that Broderick, 36, 1200 block of Winding Way, was arrested about 7:30 p.m. in the Wendy's restaurant parking lot at Nichol and Raible avenues.

    CITIES: GARY INVESTIGATES MISSING EMS FUNDS - In town hall on Wednesday evening, City of Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson addressed the unauthorized use of a city account that supports emergency medical services and fire equipment (Ortiz, NWI Times). Whittaker Company PLLC analyzed withdrawals on the bank account between January 1, 2015 to March 31, 2018, looking into $8,160,403.37 of unaccounted transfers from Fund 224. However, of the transactions reviewed, $131,850.49 was not fully identified during the account analysis, something that raised questions at the meeting.

    CITIES: GREENFIELD OKS 10-YEAR IMPROVEMENT PLAN - Greenfield leaders have big plans for the city over the next decade (Middelkamp, Greenfield Daily Reporter). The Greenfield City Council recently approved the city's 2019-29 Capital Improvement Plan, a proposal that's meant to guide the city in its future development. City officials have spent the past year talking with community members and determining what could make past planning efforts a reality.

    CITIES: RULING FAVORS KOKOMO FIRE UNION - The Kokomo Board of Public Works and Safety ruled Wednesday on the local fire union's latest grievance, agreeing with a main union point and noting confusion caused by the transition into a new collective bargaining agreement (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). Originally filed on Aug. 3, the grievance alleged that Kokomo Fire Department officials used administrative personnel to fill contractual non-administrative positions.

    CITIES: WINNECKE UNHAPPY AS AIRPORT CUTS SECURITY - During 2017 and 2018, Evansville Regional Airport eliminated a total of three unfilled security and safety job positions (Martin, Evansville Courier & Press). Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and James Raben, finance chair of the county council oppose cutting the three jobs. Airport officials said safety is always their top priority, but the attrition occurred because EVV is comfortable with its current staffing.

    CITIES: SMOKING BAN IN GOSHEN - The city council passed a ban on smoking in parks and other places Tuesday but not before losing the support of some anti-smoking advocates (Fouts, Elkhart Truth). Goshen council members passed the restriction on tobacco and e-cigarette smoking by a 6-1 vote, after further amending it to grandfather in existing bars and to make outdoor dining areas smoke-free. They also reduced the distance from bus stops from a proposed 15 feet to eight feet.

    CITIES: FIREWORKS ORDINANCE IN JEFFERSONVILLE - The Jeffersonville City Council hopes to address residents' concerns about noisy fireworks with a more restrictive ordinance (McAfee, News & Tribune). At Tuesday's meeting, the Jeffersonville City Council unanimously voted on the first and second readings in favor of replacing the city's existing fireworks ordinance. The new ordinance defines specific dates and times people are allowed to use fireworks.

    CITIES: NAZI FLYERS IN LAFAYETTE STADIUM, PARK - Lafayette parks security spent the days after the Labor Day weekend, one of the busiest times at Columbian Park this year, trying to figure out who might have put a handful of white nationalist propaganda on Loeb Stadium walls and trees outside the Tropicanoe Cove water park (Bangert, Lafayette Journal & Courier). But security camera footage in the park did not turn up any clues about who might have left them Saturday along a sidewalk leading into Columbian Park from Main Street, Claudine Laufman, Lafayette parks superintendent, said.

    CITIES: McCORDSVILLE WORKING UP DOWNTOWN PLANS The town of McCordsville has a plan in the works to construct a downtown area that will both attract outside visitors and give the community a distinguished town center they can be proud of, officials said (Myers, Greenfield Daily Reporter). For the past few months, a Town Center Advisory Group has been periodically meeting with Context Design to perfect a downtown blueprint that will fit the style and the budget of McCordsville, said town manager Tonya Galbraith.

    CITIES: GREENCASTLE SCHOOL CLOSED, AWAITS MOLD TESTING - A Greencastle elementary school will remain closed due to mold (McGerr, Indiana Public Media). Tzouanakis Intermediate School was supposed to reopen to students Thursday. The district has yet to receive tests indicating the air quality at the school is safe.

    COUNTIES: NORTH LAWRENCE SCHOOLS DISCUSS DETECTOR USE - North Lawrence Community Schools recently received 20 handheld metal detectors from the state (Atkinson, Indiana Public Media). But, they'll remain in their boxes until the district determines how they'll be used. The North Lawrence school board has to approve any policy that dictates how school administrators and resource officers will use the wands.

  • CITIES: COUNCILMAN ARP TAKES SHOT AT REPUBLICANS - Following a decisive defeat of one of his key initiatives, a Fort Wayne city councilman has taken aim at fellow local Republicans in a letter submitted to the Journal Gazette. “My stint on City Council has been enlightening,” Councilman Jason Arp, R-4th, wrote. “I serve on a body that consists of seven Republicans and two Democrats. Looking at the track record of this body of the last few years, you would never know it.” Accusing his fellow councilmen of being in the pocket of “the cottage industry of commercial real estate development,” Arp decried the use of public funds in private developments and the use of tax abatements as an economic development tool. “A well-organized lobby, partially funded by the city and county government, pushes for tax expenditures on private projects to benefit its constituency of lawyers, architects, construction managers and real estate developers,” Arp wrote. “This is a national trend in its second decade of this iteration in second- and third-tier cities eager to be more like Chicago or San Francisco. The first go around bankrupted places like Detroit and Flint in the early 1980s.” Councilman John Crawford, R-at large, who is seeking the Republican nomination for mayor in next year's election, declined to comment. He described Arp's position as “a matter of opinion.”

    CITIES: GRIFFITH PUSHES FOR SECESSION FROM TOWNSHIP - The Town Council on Tuesday urged residents to vote "yes" at the upcoming referendum on whether to leave Calumet Township (NWI Times). This resolution dovetails with last month's council resolution to leave the township and hold a special election on Sept. 25 to let Griffith residents vote yes or no. "The Town Council has based its decision to encourage voters to support leaving Calumet Township for an adjacent township due to overwhelming evidence of financial savings to the town and taxpayers," the document says in part. "The motivation to leave Calumet Township is purely financial." This is also a one-time chance to bid adios to the township, said Council President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd. If the referendum fails, another vote cannot be taken in the future.

    CITIES: COLUMBUS EYES MALL FOR 'SPORTS TOURISM' PROJECT - Columbus plans to spend about $6M to purchase the nearly three-decade-old FairOaks Mall for a proposed sports tourism project (McClure, Columbus Republic). The city wants to purchase FairOaks Mall and work with Columbus Regional Health and the Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County to turn it into a year-round community recreational center and sports tourism complex. Mayor Jim Lienhoop tells says the city expects to finalize its $5.9 million purchase of the 35-acre property by December. For at least the next three years, retail businesses operating in the mall will have an opportunity to be part of the transformation, Mayor Jim Lienhoop said. All existing tenant leases will be honored, he said. The property could include an indoor recreation center within the mall and an air-supported domed facility developed elsewhere on the site to house indoor softball, soccer, volleyball and other sports, creating a year-round community recreational asset and sports tourism magnet.

    COUNTIES: ST. JOE COMMISSIONERS DEADLOCKED ON 911 CENTER - An effort to potentially replace the St. Joseph County 911 center’s computer-aided dispatch system was delayed Tuesday by a split among the only two county commissioners present for their regular meeting (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). Since the center starting using software it bought from Plano, Texas-based New World Systems in June 2017, responses to thousands of 911 calls have been delayed. Center and county officials have largely blamed Tyler Technologies, New World’s parent company, while Tyler has blamed the county’s existing Geographic Information System data. Sometimes the system can’t verify addresses of 911 callers if they’re located on streets whose names also exist elsewhere in the county. Commissioners last month had solicited bids to replace New World, and six firms, including New World, submitted proposals. Republican commissioners Andy Kostielney and Deb Fleming had voted to seek the bids, while Democratic commissioner Dave Thomas had voted against it.

    COUNTIES: MIAMI COURTHOUSE ELEVATOR DISRUPTS COURT - For more than three months, a broken elevator inside the Miami County Courthouse has created serious complications for some residents who can’t make it up the three flights of stairs to pay their taxes or make it to court hearings  (Kokomo Tribune). In at least two instances, county officials reported a person in a wheelchair was physically carried up the stairs by a family member in order to make it to a court hearing. The courthouse’s one elevator broke down in mid-May when its driver mechanism went out. County commissioners having been trying to get it fixed since then. But it hasn’t been repaired, and it may not be up and running for months. That’s because the part that needs replaced doesn’t exist anymore, and the only company in the country that can make it is located in California.

  • CITIES: JEFFERSONVILLE APPROVES 397 HOUSING UNITS -  Once again, the Jeffersonville Plan Commission fielded a frenzy of requests from the developers wanting to build housing in Jeffersonville (News & Tribune). On Tuesday, 397 apartments, patio homes and more received some sort of approval from the planning board.  Perhaps the grandest plan was for 256 new apartments ranging from around $800 to $1,400 located across from Autoneum along Ind. 62. “With all the jobs that are coming to Clark County and Jeffersonville, this is exactly what we need,” said Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore. “[Planning and Zoning Director] Nathan Pruitt has preached this for well over a year, a master plan to create new housing. We are getting top of the line, state of the art housing here.”

    CITIES: EX-RONCALLI COUNSELOR TO BE ON ‘ELLEN’ SHOW - A guidance counselor on administrative leave from Roncalli High School will make an appearance on "The Ellen Show" this week (WIBC). Shelly Fitzgerald has worked at Roncalli for the last 15 years and has been married to a woman since 2014. She has been in a relationship with her wife for the last 22 years. When her marriage certificate was presented to Roncalli and the Archdiocese by a parent, she was placed on administrative leave and told she would have a few options. She could resign, end her marriage, or stay at the school through the end of this school year with it likely that her contract will not be renewed for next year.

    COUNTIES: PORTER COUNCIL PONDERS LONGEVITY PAY - A routine money transfer at last week’s Porter County Council meeting turned into a discussion of whether and how to fund longevity pay for employees in the future (Ross, NWI Times). The council took $140,000 out of the riverboat casino fund and $100,000 out of the general fund to cover the first payout for longevity pay in 2018. Another payment is looming, with the Board of Commissioners and council undecided on where the money will come from. The riverboat fund also pays for money for undercover police officers, which will take $90,000 this year, leaving just over $30,000 in the fund. Councilman Dan Whitten, D-At-large, asked why the commissioners recommended the general fund be tapped for the longevity payment. “We are carving away at that safety net,” he said.

  • CITIES: INDY IS AT&T'S NEXT 5G CITY - Indianapolis is the latest city to have 5G technology from AT&T (Parker, Inside Indiana Business). Indy is the seventh city in the country to have the innovation introduced, joining Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Oklahoma City, Raleigh and Waco. AT&T invested nearly $425M into their wireless and wired networks from 2015-2017, laying the groundwork to launch 5G. "I'm thrilled that AT&T chose Indianapolis as an early adopter for this impressive technology infrastructure investment,” said TechPoint CEO Mike Langellier. “Indy is home to one of the fastest growing tech hubs in the country, an impressive base of talent, and a combination of Fortune 500's and up-and-coming startups that will leverage this 5G infrastructure to further accelerate growth."

    CITIES: VALPO COUNCILWOMAN HAS LAW LICENSE SUSPENDED - The Indiana Supreme Court has suspended the law license of former Porter County Prosecutor and current Valparaiso City Councilwoman Trista Hudson for ethical violations that the court said are among the most serious a prosecutor could commit (Kasarda, NWI Times). The attorney misconduct dates back two years when serving as a Porter County deputy prosecutor, Hudson failed to reveal during trial that one of two alleged victims in a child molesting case admitted to having made up at least part of the accusations at the urging of his father. Hudson learned about the fabricated accusations five days before trial but did not disclose the finding to the defense nor withdraw the charge stemming from the accusation, according to the Indiana Supreme Court's opinion. She was dismissed from her position as prosecutor in July 2016 for the incident. Hudson's license is to be suspended for at least 18 months beginning Oct. 10 without automatic reinstatement, according to the court. Hudson may petition the court at the end of this minimum period of suspension to be reinstated to the practice of law.

    CITIES: GREENWOOD COUNCILOR FACES VOYEURISM ALLEGATION - A Greenwood City Councilman is under investigation by the Indiana State Police in response to allegations of voyeurism (Milz, WTHR-TV). Republican Brent Corey, an at-large councilor for ten years abruptly resigned last week saying he no longer lived in the city. The resignation came just before State Police issued warrants to search his two homes and former business. The investigation began after an employee at Sizemore Insurance, the business Corey recently sold, called police about images she found on the company computer. According to court documents, those images included photos and videos of women, many naked or in a state of undress. The employee told police she found the images, some of herself, in public folder called "peek-n-scans" while looking up a claim for a client. The file was not password-protected. State Police got warrants to search his office, his Greenwood home and his Prince's Lakes home. It's the lake home where two women say they were unknowingly photographed while using a bathroom or bedroom to change. Investigators looked deeper into Corey's computer and found more than 20,000 images and videos with a large number of these photos depicting women in a state of undress. Documents indicate they also determined that 149 still images and 41 videos had been deleted.

    CITIES: MUNCIE SCHOOL BOARD ENDS COLLECTIVE BARGAINING - During a question-and-answer session with the media at the end of this week's Muncie Community School Board meeting, board President Jim Williams was asked whether the district would start collective bargaining with teachers in September - and gave a simple "no" in response (Slabaugh, Muncie Star Press). "The Legislature has given, specifically in House Enrolled Act 1315, that we would have to specifically opt in, and frankly, everything is on the table, and right now this board is not in a position to opt in," Williams said. Williams said the board had not discussed this with the Muncie Teachers Association. The MTA had previously criticized the provision that made collective bargaining with teachers optional. "What the Legislature did is, they exempted MCS from almost every law," Pat Kennedy, president of the Muncie Teachers Association, told The Star Press after the school board meeting. "It's just amazing why they would have excepted MCS from it." She said she was puzzled by the board's reasoning for opting out of bargaining as well but hopes that the two parties will be able to figure out "some structure" so they can work together.

    CITIES: HAMMOND SCHOOLS GET BOTTLED WATER AFTER LEAD REPORT - Schools in the city of Hammond, Northwest Indiana's largest school district, will provide bottled water to students in building where elevated lead levels were found in drinker water tested earlier this month (Colias-Pete,Chicago Tribune). Seven buildings, including six schools, registered lead levels above the recommended EPA threshold when tested on Aug. 9, 10, and 13, Superintendent Walter Watkins said in an email to staff on Thursday. School officials said in a release Wednesday that the results may be “skewed” because testing was done after water lines were largely dormant in the summer. As a precaution, those fountains with unsafe levels were taken out of service until further testing is done. In a statement on Wednesday, Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said the presence of lead did not come from the city’s water supply.

    CITIES: WINFIELD COUNCILMAN FACES INDICTMENT - Winfield Town Councilman Jim Simmons was slated to appear in Lake Criminal Court Thursday, but the hearing was reset to Oct. 29 before the start of court proceedings (NWI Times). In June, a grand jury indicted the 55-year-old Simmons on two felony counts, one a Level 5 felony of battery by means of a deadly weapon and a Level 6 felony count of leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in serious bodily injury. He was arrested on June 14 and posted a $3,000 cash bond on June 15 to be released from Lake County Jail. Thursday was to be his first court appearance before Judge Diane Boswell with his defense attorney Paul Stracci. Simmons allegedly struck landscaper James Ballard with his pickup truck on Sept. 23 after a dispute over wood chips in the 5200 block of 105th Lane in Winfield. According to court records, Simmons demanded the chips be cleaned up, and Ballard, the owner of a Gary landscaping firm, said it would be done when they finished the job.

    COUNTIES: JOHNSON LOOKING AT PROJECT MANAGER FOR JAIL - As of Wednesday morning, the Johnson County jail had 338 inmates, above the maximum capacity of 322, and the population has been high for months (Goeller, Daily Journal). Now, the county is looking to hire a project manager, who would work with designers and architects to come up with a plan. The committee has gone as far as it can, and this is the next step that needs to be taken, Johnson County Commissioner Kevin Walls said. The committee continues discussing and researching all options. Walls said an expansion is the most likely option, as the jail is also in need of a multi-use facility for counseling and other programs. The plan is to bring in a project manager to draw up designs and work with architects for a feasible expansion. The county will now prepare a request for proposals from project managers, which would need to be approved by the commissioners. According to Commissioner Walls, the goal is to have someone hired by the fall.

  • CITIES: EX-EAST CHICAGO COUNCILMAN SEEKS LENIENCY - Ex-East Chicago Councilman Robert "Coop" Battle spells out in newly filed court records this week why he deserves a minimum sentence of 10 years for the 2015 murder of Reinmundo Camarillo Jr. (Cross, NWI Times). Battle is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 11. Members of the Camarillo family have said they want U.S. District Court Judge Philip P. Simon to impose the longest sentence possible of 20 years under a plea agreement.  However, through Battle's attorney Jack Friedlander, the 45-year-old argued in Wednesday’s court filing that prolonged imprisonment will neither deter, nor properly rehabilitate, him. Battle pleaded guilty in June to second-degree murder, which is intentional murder with malice aforethought, in which he shot and killed Camarillo Oct. 12, 2015, in East Chicago when Camarillo arrived at Battle's home to discuss an outstanding drug debt owed to him. Friedlander has asked Simon to consider several factors outside of federal sentencing guidelines — such as Battle’s lack of violent criminal history and the low recidivism rate associated with ex-convicts in their 40s, court records state. Battle turned 45 in May, records state.

    CITIES: BRAINARD CAMPAIGN AIDE SEEKS TO EXPAND COUNCIL - Mayor Jim Brainard's longtime political campaign adviser is consulting with the City Council as it expands by two seats and redraws district boundaries, leading to concerns he has a conflict of interest and that the new map could be drawn to favor candidates the mayor supports (Sikich, IndyStar). "'I'm concerned because he's the same guy that runs the mayor's campaigns," said Matt Milam, one of several people considering running for council. “I'm sure he is making sure the districts are set up so the mayor has an advantage. Why wouldn't he?” The matter is compounded by the council's decision to wait until just days before the Nov. 8 deadline to make what likely will be sweeping changes to district boundaries, which challengers say is leaving little time to mount campaigns ahead of the May primary. “If it’s not deliberate, it seems to be poor planning," said Michelle Krcmery, a former city spokeswoman considering running for council. "We need clearly defined districts before we can embark on a plan." The city has contracted with the Indianapolis-based Kroger Gardis & Regas law firm for up to $35,000 to advise the council on redistricting. The firm hired Allan Sutherlin, a Republican campaign strategist who runs a business consulting on redistricting at the local and state level.

    CITIES: IPS BOARD TO DETERMINE NEXT STEP ON VACANT SCHOOLS - Tuesday night the Indianapolis Public Schools board heard recommendations on the next steps to determine the future uses of the vacant Broad Ripple and John Marshall high schools (Barrett, WFYI). Joe Gramelspacher, the special projects director for IPS, recommended the approval of two independent market analyses to determine the schools’ financial value. He says they will also take community wishes into account. On Aug. 24, IPS requested nonprofits submit proposals for the vacant schools, which IPS leaders say will help determine a preliminary analysis of possible future uses. IPS will accept proposals through Oct. 11. The board will vote today to approve or reject the plan to move forward with the market analyses. If approved, the final reports are expected to be completed in January 2019.

    CITIES: BRITISH AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH BUTTIGIEG - A visit this week to South Bend by British Ambassador to the United States was designed to help boost the relationship between the United Kingdom and the U.S. regarding clean growth and energy efficiency (McGowan, Inside Indiana Business). Kim Darroch met with Mayor Pete Buttigieg to discuss development of electric vehicle and green energy technology. The discussions highlighted the city's "smart transportation" efforts, which include municipal charging stations at City Hall. The pair met Monday at the Studebaker National Museum. Buttigieg said "it was an honor to host Ambassador Darroch in South Bend to discuss the City's commitment to a sustainable future. Through our historic investment in parks and trails, natural gas-powered fleets, and downtown electric vehicle charging stations, we are distinguishing South Bend as a model for clean energy."

    CITIES: BAN KI-MOON TO VISIT SOUTH BEND - The eighth secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, will deliver a lecture during the Asia Leadership Forum at the University of Notre Dame next month (Parker, Inside Indiana Business). The sold-out event will feature Ban speaking on "The United Nations and Global Citizenship" September 12th in the Patricia George Decio Theatre at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. The South Korea native served as secretary-general from 2007-2016 and was the first East Asian elected to the position. The event will be moderated by General Secretary of Rotary International John Hewko, and Notre Dame associate dean for policy and practice at the Keough School, Sara Sievers, will speak with Ban after the lecture about his career at the UN, and his current work at the Ban Ki-Moon Centre for Global Citizens.

    CITIES: MUNCIE ENROLLMENT DIPS LESS THAN EXPECTED - Muncie Community Schools is losing students this year, but according to officials, the unofficial number is small, and less than the district planned for (WFYI). Unofficially, Muncie Community Schools says it lost 63 students this school year.  That’s much less than the district lost in previous years, as it consolidated two high schools into one and made headlines for being a “distressed district.” “The district lost 438 students last year,” says MCS Emergency Manager Steve Edwards. It was prepared for a drop of 200 students this year. That means losing just 63 students has officials feeling more optimistic. “If I cross my fingers.  If that – and we have every reason to believe that’s accurate – that will be a major, major success for this district.” The Indiana Department of Education says the state’s official enrollment count date is Sept. 14.

    COUNTIES: MONROE SCHOOLS NOT GETTING METAL SCANNERS - The Monroe County Community School Corporation will not be getting handheld metal detectors for its school buildings (Eady, Indiana Public Media). The district was considering whether to request 43 of the devices.MCCSC leaders hosted a community conversation earlier this month to answer questions from students and parents about how the district might use the metal scanners. MCCSC Superintendent Dr. Judy DeMuth motioned to approve the scanners. She had initially questioned the option, but she says the wands would have been used on a limited basis throughout the schools. The board had divided opinions about the scanners with several members voicing concerns about taking away from a welcoming school environment. Board president Kelly Smith says he worries about the scanners being used in a way they were not intended. “We’re going to have different principals and I’m just worried they’re going to get into the hands of somebody that they were never intended to be," says Smith. The board voted 4-3 not to participate in the scanner program.

  • CITIES: VACANT DOWNTOWN INDY BUILDING TO BECOME HOTEL - Officials of Everwood Hospitality Partners this month announced that the company has acquired a 12-story building located at 136 E. Market St. in Downtown Indianapolis and will convert it into an Aloft Hotel (Mack,Indianapolis Star). Built in 1898, the building has served as law offices, a law library and a bank. The building's most recent anchor tenant was Stock Yards Bank & Trust. According to Everwood officials, the company invested $5M to acquire the building and will invest an additional $13M to turn it into a hotel. “We’re excited to have a hotel that sits squarely in the midst of an exciting, bustling urban setting. The hotel has been designed to meet the needs of the variety of business and leisure travelers to the Indianapolis region" said Amit Patel, principal for Everwood Hospitality Partners. Everwood officials plan to begin construction of Aloft Indianapolis Downtown during the fourth quarter of 2018 and open the doors during the third quarter 2019.

    CITIES: INDY GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO SCOOTERS - The city of Indianapolis has given final approval for two companies to return their scooters to the streets (Ober, Inside Indiana Business). The licenses for Bird and Lime will become effective September 4. The City-County Council last month approved regulations for shared electric scooter companies. The city's Department of Business and Neighborhood Services says it has worked closely with both companies to return their scooters to the city. Director of Business and Neighborhood Services Brian Madison says it's a positive for the city to have "a variety of transportation options for residents." Bird and Lime made waves in Indy earlier this summer until agreeing to cease operations until the council could pass regulations. The rules state the companies must pay $1 per day/per device and have each scooter marked with a unique serial number and equipped with a bell or horn. Companies must also pay $15K for an annual license.

    CITIES: 6 OFFERS MADE FOR GARY SCHOOLS - Six bids totaling $555K were made on six Gary Community School Corp. properties in a sale that ended Friday (Carlson, Chicago Tribune). School officials opened the bids Monday on the public sale that included 33 vacant properties, primarily schools. School district emergency manager Peggy Hinckley said the offers will be discussed at a closed-door meeting on Sept. 4. Proposed uses of the properties included housing, expansion of a water treatment plant and a waste drop-off facility. One bid offer entails a large-scale proposal to create a Broadway Logistics Complex. The bid proposal from Little Calumet Greenspace LLC, based in Chicago, stated it has been acquiring vacant lots and homes to the east of Carver and seeks to collaborate with the city to develop a 1 to 1.2 million-square-foot Class A logistics warehouse on Interstate 80-94. The number of jobs estimated to be created was 1,000 to 1,400.

    CITIES: NONPROFIT TO OVERHAUL NEGLECTED SOUTH BEND APARTMENTS - A long-neglected apartment complex in South Bend will receive new life (McGowan, Inside Indiana Business). South Bend Heritage, a nonprofit service and community development corporation, has acquired the Washington-Colfax Apartments and will invest $3.2M into renovations. The overhaul will include roof replacement and repairs to the masonry, plumbing and electrical systems. The property has been renamed Gemini. It will include studio and one-bedroom apartments that are expected to cost around $600 and $1K per month, respectively. The West Washington Tax Increment Financing District, the South Bend Regional Chamber says, will cover $1M of the project. The number of jobs estimated to be created was 1,000 to 1,400.

    COUNTIES: MIAMI CLERK SAYS ELECTION MACHINES SECURE -  Miami County Clerk Tawna Leffel-Sands said the county’s electronic voting machines, which don’t produce voter-verifiable paper ballots, are secure from any outside meddling despite ongoing threats from Russia and other entities (Kokomo Tribune). The county adopted electronic voting more than a decade ago, but with the threat of meddling in the midterm election, those kinds of vote machines have come under scrutiny for being vulnerable to hackers and others who want to manipulate ballots. Indiana was one of five states to receive a failing grade this year in the liberal Center for American Progress assessment of election security. Indiana's "F'' grade was in part because some of the state's voting machines don't include voter-verifiable paper ballots. But, Leffel-Sands said, there is little chance of meddling in Miami County. That’s because the vote machines are not connected to the internet and are kept under lock-and-key until Election Day. Leffel-Sands said votes cast on the machines are kept on an electronic hard drive. Before any votes are cast, poll workers run what is called a “zero tape” through each machine, which confirms there are no votes on it.

    COUNTIES: DELAWARE COUNCIL CUTS PROPOSED JAIL FUNDING IN HALF - Funding to help alleviate overcrowding at the Delaware County jail got cut in half during Tuesday's meeting of Delaware County Council (Roysdon, Muncie Star Press). The county's fiscal body cut half of the $350K funding request made by the Delaware County commissioners for housing inmates in other jails and paying for supervised release programs through Delaware County Community Corrections. The commissioners had hoped the $350K would cover those costs through the remainder of 2018, having spent more than $200K already this year. Council members were initially reluctant to even bring the request up for a vote. An initial motion to approve to allow discussion was slow to come and a second came only after council president Ron Quakenbush had said, "Due to lack of a second, the motion fails." Jeni Honeycutt of the commissioners' office said that after meeting with council, she believed the $350K amount could be reduced to about $250K. Quakenbush suggested, however, that council members appropriate only half of the $350K. Council member Chris Matchett moved that $175K be appropriated and council members approved it.

    COUNTIES: ST. JOE DEM CHAIR MAKES COMLAINT V. JUDGE - The chairman of the St. Joseph County Democratic Party has filed an ethics complaint with the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications against St. Joseph Probate Court Judge James Fox (Booker, South Bend Tribune). Jason Critchlow, the Democratic chairman, in February accused Fox, a Republican up for re-election in November, of hiring two employees improperly. At least one of those employees denies she was hired improperly. The commission, citing “confidentiality rules,” declined to confirm if it is investigating the complaint, which Critchlow provided to The Tribune. At issue are two people hired by Fox, who oversees the St. Joseph County Juvenile Justice Center. In the case of David Varner, who served as a part-time bailiff at the Probate Court for about four months in 2013 while also a Republican member of the South Bend Common Council, court records show there was an apparent violation with his employment because of his status as an elected official; Fox addressed the matter by letting Varner go. But in the case of Cynthia Nelson, executive director of the JJC, it’s unclear if there was an issue with Fox’s decision to hire her for the post. Fox didn’t return calls seeking comment.

    COUNTIES: ST. JOE EYES LEAD FUND - The St. Joseph County Council is setting up a “lead crisis fund” to address the area’s stubborn problem with lead-poisoned kids, and it hopes local governments and health systems will also chip in (Booker, South Bend Tribune). The St. Joseph County Health Department will tap the fund to pay for staff needed to tackle the lead problem, including environmental specialists and nurses, said Dr. Mark Fox, the department’s newly appointed part-time deputy health officer. Fox said the county’s support should help the department’s efforts to raise more money for the fund from local governments, health systems and medical clinics. Council members plan to set aside $200,000 in general fund money for the fund this year, and they plan to later commit another $200,000 as part of the department’s 2019 budget.

  • CITIES: CEMETERY VANDALIZED IN MORRISTOWN - An update regarding the repairs for nearly two dozen vandalized headstones at a historic cemetery in Shelby County: The work is all done! That's according to our newsgathering partners at the Shelbyville News. Investigators say a group of juveniles damaged 22 headstones at the David-Bennet Cemetery in Morristown earlier this month. They've all been arrested. And a granite company restored the toppled headstones at no cost.

  • CITIES: ATTORNEY PAGE REMEMBERED IN CROWN POINT - T. "Tracy" Edward Page was fondly remembered and missed sadly by dozens of mourners Friday (Dolan, NWI Times). "The last time I saw him, he was so happy and talking to me about wrapping up his law practice and doing senior judge work," Tom O'Donnell, a Highland attorney and former county councilman, said. "It's not a good day for us," Chief Lake Superior Court Judge John Pera said of Page's passing. Page was 64 when an angry client, William Landske, 83, of Cedar Lake fatally shot him Aug. 15 at Page's home in Hobart. Landske is awaiting trial on murder charges in Lake Criminal Court before a special judge brought in to avoid any appearance favoritism since Page was known to all local state court judges, who might otherwise have presided over the case. Landske is the husband of deceased state Sen. Sue Landske. Page's wake at the Geisen Funeral Home in Crown Point was well attended Friday by members of the law community, both local and statewide. Newly appointed Indiana Supreme Court Judges Geoffrey G. Slaughter, who grew up in Crown Point was in attendance.

    CITIES: CEDAR LAKE CLERK RESIGNS - The town’s longtime clerk-treasurer has resigned her position and Cedar Lake Republicans will meet Aug. 31 to choose her replacement (NWI Times). Clerk-Treasurer Amy J. Gross left the post she held for the last 10 years to take a job with the St. John Police Department. During Tuesday's Town Council meeting,  officials opted to appoint chief deputy clerk Margo Nagy as her temporary replacement. A caucus is set for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 31 to choose the person who will serve out the rest of her term. Gross was up for re-election in 2019. Town Council President Randy Niemeyer, a Republican, did not speculate about who the party might choose as a replacement. “We’ll be having a party caucus” to make the decision, he said. “That’s normally (how) these things (are done.)”

    CITIES: ANOTHER GUILTY PLEA FROM EX-BUNKER HILL OFFICIAL - Former Bunker Hill Clerk Treasurer Lisa Wilson took a plea agreement, which doesn’t include any jail time, after she admitted to stealing $43,200 from the town to purchase personal items and make payments to her real estate business (Kokomo Tribune). Wilson pleaded guilty to felony theft Thursday in Miami Superior Court II and was sentenced to nine months of in-home detention followed by nine months of probation. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a felony charge of official misconduct. Wilson also admitted in the plea agreement that a special investigation by the Indiana State Board of Accounts accurately determined she stole the money from the town.

    COUNTIES: EX-OWEN OFFICIAL FOUND GUILTY - The men in the hallway outside the courtroom represented a Who’s Who of Owen County dignitaries and included the sheriff, Spencer’s police chief, a bank president and political candidates ,as well as current and former elected officials (Bloomington Herald-Times). Some have known one another for decades, growing up and working together in a county with just 20,000 residents. They all had been subpoenaed to testify in Friday’s trial of Donnie Minnick, whom Monroe Circuit Judge Teresa Harper found guilty of two felonies, conflict of interest and official misconduct, after hearing a day of testimony during a bench trial. The case centered on whether Minnick deceived county officials and profited from selling his semi tractor-trailer to the county using a middleman, a worker on his Gosport farm. The charges also allege Minnick kept $2,500 from a broken-down county-owned semi he sold for scrap when the engine blew. Minnick’s sentencing is set for Sept. 28.

    COUNTIES: ARREST IN BROWN, BARTHOLOMEW CHURCH VANDALISM CASES - Police in Brown and Bartholomew counties have made an arrest in the vandalism of four area churches more than a year ago (Columbus Republic). The break in the case came last week during an investigation into vandalism at a synagogue in Carmel. Renzo Signorino, 20, of Columbus, was arrested Thursday on a warrant in Bartholomew County for the Bartholomew and Brown county incidents, but not the Carmel case. A 17-year-old girl also is connected to the rash of vandalism and charges against her are pending, authorities said. The agent said he was helping with the arson and criminal mischief case that occurred at a Carmel synagogue July 28, and that two people had been arrested: a 17-year-old girl and a 20-year-old man. The detective said the girl had alluded to possibly doing a similar act in Hope in Bartholomew County.

    COUNTIES: 3 JUDGES RECUSE IN LaPORTE COUNCILMAN’S CASE - The criminal case against La Porte County Councilman John P. Sullivan is at a standstill as the county clerk tries to find a judge who will accept it (Michigan City News-Dispatch). Judge Jeff Thorne recused himself Friday morning from hearing the residential entry case in La Porte Superior Court 3. It had been transferred to him from La Porte Circuit Court, where Judge Thomas Alevizos recused himself on Aug. 9. County Clerk Kathy Chroback said Friday that her next step is to transfer the case to one of the three county courts in Michigan City, in the hopes that a judge there will take it. If all three Michigan City-based judges recuse themselves, Chroback will be forced to contact judges in Porter and Starke counties until she can land a court for the case. Sullivan was charged with a Level 6 felony count of residential entry on Aug. 3 after witnesses reportedly saw him enter a 39-year-old Wanatah woman’s house without her permission.

    COUNTIES: WAYNE NOW LEADS IN HEP A CASES - Wayne County is now one of the nation's leaders in cases of hepatitis A, after 14 new cases were reported in the county within the last week. The area has seen 85 reported cases of the liver-affecting virus this year, as part of a larger outbreak throughout Indiana and nine other states that began in 2017. The growth is part of nearly two-month-long trend that has placed the county among the national leaders in the number of cases (Richmond Palladium-Item). The county has seen an average increase of about 14 cases per week — on par with the new reports this week — though little is known about the nature of the disease's spread because details are limited to protect the privacy and identities of those infected. New numbers released Friday morning by the Indiana State Department of Health show the county surpassed the previous leader, Clark County, which had only two new instances since last week. Clark County's numbers have slowed significantly in recent weeks, as have those in most other areas around the state.

  • CITIES: STUDY SAYS INDY PARK ACCESS WELL BELOW NATIONAL AVERAGE - A new study of the 100 largest U.S. cities shows access to Indianapolis parks is below the national average (Barrett, WFYI). Only, 32% of residents live within 10 minutes of a park –– the national average is 70%. Indianapolis did not officially participate in the study, but the report still released data on the city’s parks. Indianapolis Department of Parks and Recreation director Linda Broadfoot says they chose not to participate in the study because of the hefty time commitment. The Trust for Public Land’s yearly report looks at several factors, including spending per resident and median park size to rank cities. Minnesota claimed the top two spots in the study. Minneapolis ranked No. 1 and St. Paul was No. 2. San Francisco, Washington D.C. and Portland rounded out the top five.  

    CITIES: INDY TAKING NEXT STEPS ON MUSIC STRATEGY - The Indy Chamber says it will continue on to the next phases of an effort designed to tap into a music strategy to serve as an economic development catalyst (McGowan, Inside Indiana Business). In partnership with the city of Indianapolis, the chamber says it will continue to engage with global consulting firm Sound Diplomacy on a report that Develop Indy Regulatory and Permitting Ombudsman Jim Rawlinson says will investigate the "ecology and economy" of the music scene and its potential economic impact. The chamber is beginning a fundraising process to cover a proposed budget for the effort. The progression follows a strategic forum in May that involved citywide stakeholders and the recent launch of the city's new Create Indy program, which will provide grants to "emerging cultural economies."

    CITIES: EX-BUNKER HILL OFFICIAL GUILTY - A former Town of Bunker Hill clerk-treasurer pleaded guilty Thursday to one count of theft amid allegations she used taxpayer money for personal expenses (WRTV). Lisa Wilson reached a plea agreement in which Miami County prosecutors agreed to dismiss the official misconduct charge. Wilson will serve a one and a half year sentence including nine months on home detention with the Miami County Community Corrections program and the remainder Wilson will serve on probation. Wilson was arrested following an investigation by the Indiana State Board of Accounts and Indiana State Police. A recent State Board of Accounts audit asked Wilson to pay $73,424 to the state of Indiana and the town after a special investigation found she funneled money into her business, Hoosier State Realty, and purchased items at a home improvement store, including landscaping materials, that were found at Wilson’s residence. Auditors also found Wilson used city checking accounts to pay her personal debts, usually utility or credit card bills.

    CITIES: FEUD WITH PORTAGE RESOURCE OFFICERS - The feud over police officers in Portage Township schools remains at a boiling point (NWI Times). School Superintendent Amanda Alaniz and Portage Association of Teachers President Deb Porter held a news conference Thursday to protest what Alaniz called “inconsistent, reckless, unilateral decisions” by Mayor James Snyder and Police Chief Troy Williams. Williams, who has filed his Portage Township School Board candidacy for the November election, assigned officers to Fegely Middle School and Portage High School West on the first day of school last week. They were in addition to the school resource officers already assigned to Portage High School and Willowcreek Middle School. School officials told those additional officers to leave the buildings. The officers stationed themselves in the parking lots. Alaniz said the officers were not approved by the School Board and were not part of the district’s comprehensive school safety program. Alaniz threatened to take legal action against the city. “This has nothing to do with me. This has everything to do with keeping the kids safe,” Synder said Thursday.

    CITIES: CENTRA PLANS $18.5M EXPANSION IN COLUMBUS - Centra Credit Union, the state’s fifth-largest, plans to build an $18.5M corporate headquarters in Columbus, where it was founded nearly 78 years ago (Johannesen, Columbus Republic). The credit union plans to construct a three-story, 55,000-square-foot building on a 5-acre lot it owns next to its current headquarters on the city’s west side. The new headquarters, needed to accommodate the not-for-profit company’s growth and future needs, will house more than 150 employees and will allow consolidation of some back-office operations now conducted in offices Centra has around the city. “This is a big step forward for our credit union,” Centra President and CEO Rick Silvers said. “This is home. This is where we grew up. We’re excited to be here and excited to stay.” The company’s timetable calls for the building design to be completed in September, breaking ground on the new building early next year and moving in during 2020, he said.

    CITIES: KOKOMO FIRE UNION FILES GRIEVANCE - Kokomo’s fire union is again at odds with the city administration, after a new grievance alleges that Kokomo fire department officials have used administrative personnel to fill contractual non-administrative positions (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). The grievance comes roughly two months after the union and city officials ended an exceptionally contentious yearlong contract dispute, coming to an agreement that ended the first ever stretch of Kokomo firefighters operating without a contract. The grievance was originally filed on August 3 but was denied by Fire Chief Nick Glover. Chris Frazier, president of the Professional Firefighters of Kokomo Local 396, is now bringing it forward to the Board of Works. “This practice reduces overtime available to [Local 396] members while removing crucial administrative fire response,” wrote Frazier, “The Board of Public Works and Safety needs to be aware that removing the Safety officer from their position also puts the Kokomo Fire Department in violation of [national industry standards].” 

    CITIES: COLIN POWELL TO VISIT EVANSVILLE - Former Secretary of State Colin Powell will moderate a lecture at the University of Southern Indiana early next year (Erbacher, Evansville Courier & Press). Powell will moderate discussion during USI’s “Leadership: Taking Charge” at April 4 in the university’s newly renovated arena within the Physical Activities Center. The discussion is free and open to the public. Powell will be the fourth speaker in USI’s Romain College of Business Innovative Speaker Series, sponsored through private gifts to the USI Foundation.

    COUNTIES: ALLEN CONCERNED BY WEST NILE SPIKE - A recent spike in the number of mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile has local health officials concerned (LeBlanc, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Nearly a quarter of samples taken since early July have indicated the presence of the virus, and positive tests are on pace to surpass those recorded all of last year, the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health announced Thursday. “Obviously, the season's not over,” department Director of Environmental Services Dave Fiess said. “It is a little concerning.” The disease is carried by mosquitoes that feed on infected birds and lay their eggs in swampy areas such as ditches and in areas of standing water such as unmaintained pools and old tires. When transmitted to humans, symptoms are typically mild and include headache, dizziness and fatigue. In rare cases, the disease can cause coma and death. Of 182 samples tested this summer, 43 were positive. The department analyzed 243 samples last year, and 43 tested positive for West Nile.

  • CITIES: MAYOR DENNIS DEFENDS GUN RESOLUTION - The Mayor of West Lafayette says the logic behind a gun control resolution passed by he and city leaders is sound (WIBC). West Lafayette city leaders passed a non-binding resolution, meaning it does not change any standing ordinance or law, which urges state lawmakers to pass legislation clamping down on loop-holes in the second amendment. Primarily, the resolution is asking for a bill to better regulate private sales of guns between close friends and neighbors. That would mean additional background checks, similar to those conducted when you buy a gun from a licensed gun store. "In this particular resolution we have gotten a lot of challenges from folks who have misinterpreted the intent," said Mayor John Dennis. "What we are trying to do with this resolution is to encourage our legislators to be aware, not so much of the legal processes and not trying to inhibit those who are qualified to have a gun. We're just trying to make sure that some of those qualifications will highlight some of those areas that we now know are some of the pit falls of gun ownership." "These are feel good resolutions based on misguided beliefs," Indiana State Director of the National Rifle Association Chris Kopacki responded. "Really they're just wasting a lot of time and tax payer dollars. The laws are tight enough as it is. How do criminals get possession of firearms? They get them from the black market [or] steal them. All this does is make it tougher for law-abiding citizens to legally purchase a firearm.”

    CITIES: INDY MAYOR, POLICE CHIEF, LEAD PUBLIC SAFETY WALK - Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and IMPD Chief Bryan Roach joined community leaders for a public safety walk on South East St. Wednesday (WTHR-TV). They reminded neighbors and business owners of their crucial role in speaking up to keep the peace. "There are no better safety protectors for neighborhoods than the neighbors themselves. They are the eyes and ears that our community needs," Hogsett said. "It was a difficult weekend, but the fact is that we've made some arrests, and we're making some progress in holding people accountable." The mayor also commented on the city's new grant program for crime prevention groups, which he says should help reduce the gun violence.

    CITIES: GROUND BROKEN ON KOKOMO WATER TREATMENT PROJECT - Greenwood-based Indiana American Water has broken ground on an $11M effort in Kokomo (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). The project includes a new facility intended to upgrade the water treatment process to improve water quality. Indiana American Water says the project will help meet new water quality regulations and enhance efficiency, system reliability, and plant safety. The project also includes additional improvements at the plant that are ongoing such as replacing aging groundwater wells and retiring a smaller off-channel surface water impoundment, which has reached the end of its useful life. "From its earliest days, the Kokomo area’s water resources have played an important role in the development and continued success of the area over the last two centuries," said Indiana American Water President Deborah Dewey. "While we have continued to upgrade our infrastructure over the years in this community, these investments will help us to take our water quality, service and reliability to a new level of excellence."

    CITIES: WINNECKE ADVOCATES KEEPING RIVER POLLUTION STANDARDS - Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke is urging the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO) not to discontinue pollution control standards for the river (Evansville Courier & Press). ORSANCO, an interstate commission overseeing the health of the Ohio River, is considering eliminating those standards. Winnecke sent the commission a letter Monday opposing a proposal to eliminate its pollution control standards.  "Eliminating ORSANCO regulations could be a negative game changer for our community," he wrote.

    CITIES: GARY COUNCIL EXPLORES SELLING PUBLIC SAFETY BUILDING - During Tuesday’s meeting, the Gary City Council voted 7-1 for an ordinance to explore the option of selling and leasing back the public safety building at 555 Polk St. to raise money needed to balance the city's budget (Franklin, NWI Times). Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson originally proposed the idea earlier this summer and presented the ordinance at the last council meeting on Aug. 7, when it was added to the agenda. Although no buyer has been lined up yet, the mayor said banks have expressed some confidence in the future success of the sale/lease back. The council is confronted with an expected $24M deficit between property tax revenue and the $54M budget. First District Councilwoman Rebecca Wyatt said the city could realize between $35M to $40M that would be used to pay down the city's debt, particularly the more than $3M owed on employee health insurance.

    CITIES: GREENVILLE TAKING STEPS TO FORM FIRE DISTRICT - Representatives from Greenville Township Volunteer Fire Department told the Floyd County Commissioners on Tuesday they are preparing to take the necessary steps to form a fire district (Morris, News and Tribune). The move would raise property taxes but improve the ISO rating, on which homeowners' insurance rates are based, for Greenville residents. Reuben Cummings, representing the fire department, said it's still too early to provide numbers on how much taxes would increase. There would be at least two public meetings on forming a fire district before the measure could move forward. Greenville Town Board and Greenville Township would both have to approve it and the Floyd County Commissioners would have the final vote. The commissioners could adopt an ordinance to approve it with or without homeowners' signatures on a petition, although some commissioners have expressed that this is not their preference.

    CITIES: PITCHIN’ NUN HAS REGION TIES - Sister Mary Jo Sobieck's first pitch Saturday at a White Sox game made her an overnight, viral sensation. But those already acquainted with the Marian Catholic theology teacher, many with Region ties, already knew about her star quality (NWI Times).  "Sister MoJo," as she's known to students, has made the national TV rounds appearing on "Good Morning America," "Fox & Friends," "Inside Edition" and ESPN's "First Take" just to name a few. Saturday night's White Sox game had a Marian Catholic theme. The Chicago Heights school's renowned marching band — winners of 39 straight state titles — played the national anthem. Then Sobieck stepped on the mound, bounced the baseball off her right bicep, snatched it out of the air and tossed a perfect, looping curveball 60 feet, 6 inches into the waiting glove of White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito. The video became a viral smash that night. By Monday, Sobieck was being flown to New York with Marian Catholic Vice President for Advancement Dan Kozlowski to meet various national media outlets and share her story. Kozlowski, a Cedar Lake native and 2004 Hanover Central grad, said the attention the school has gotten has been overwhelming.

    COUNTIES: MARION EMERGENCY RADIO SYSTEM GOES DOWN - Marion County officials are still investigating what cause the county’s emergency radio system to go down Wednesday morning (WRTV). Public Safety Communications says the system failed at 9:07 a.m. Wednesday and caused every walkie-talkie carried by police officers, firefighters and paramedics in the county to go offline. “We’re still trying to determine the root cause,” said Al Stovall, Public Safety Communications chief. “We know it was during the testing of our failure for generator backup that it occurred. But we’re waiting for the vendor to do a complete analysis and give us that determination.” There is a backup system in place, but, as Call 6 Investigates has learned, many emergency employees had never heard of the system or how to switch to it.

    COUNTIES: DECATUR JAIL 60 INMATES OVER CAPACITY - Last Monday, there were 145 inmates within the Decatur County Jail – 60 more inmates than the jail has accommodations for (Heath, Greensburg Daily News). Decatur County Prosecutor Nathan Harter reported these numbers to the public last week. Harter said he recently received a call from Decatur County Jail Commander Tony Blodgett regarding concerns about the current jail overcrowding. Harter explained there have been conversations as to what the jail population should be, while also focusing on keeping the community safe and making the criminal justice system function more efficiently. According to Blodgett, Decatur County didn't project to see current inmate numbers for another five years. “We’ve taken some big steps toward making that right here in Decatur County,” Harter said. “We’re on pace to build a new jail. It’s due to be finished in approximately two years, and it’s going to house 246 people if it’s built as currently planned." Harter says his staff has been working for a year and a half to find solutions to the overcrowding, including community corrections placement and sending inmates to other counties.

    COUNTIES: OWEN OFFICIAL TRIAL BEGINS FRIDAY - Four days before his jury trial on felony charges of official misconduct and conflict of interest arising from the suspicious sale of a truck, Owen County Commissioner Donnie Minnick's lawyers filed a motion in court to have a judge, not jurors, decide if he is guilty or innocent (Bloomington Herald-Times). So Monroe Circuit Judge Teresa Harper, assigned as special judge in the case, canceled Minnick's jury trial that had been set for Wednesday and scheduled a bench trial for 9 a.m. Friday at the Owen County Courthouse in Spencer. Court records indicate that 20 witnesses, including current and former county officials — Sheriff Sam Hobbs and Spencer Town Marshal Richard Foutch among them — received subpoenas last month summoning them to testify at the trial. Minnick, a lifelong Owen County resident and a Republican, stands accused of lying about the procurement of two county trucks from which he may have pocketed $8,500.

  • CITIES: TERRE HAUTE MAKES FISCAL RECOVERY - New state audits confirm the city of Terre Haute’s improving financial situation. State Board of Accounts reviews of 2016 and 2017 are notable for what they don’t say. They express no doubts about the city’s “ability to continue as a going concern,” something audits for the previous two years had brought into question as the city struggled with significant deficits (Taylor, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). That’s the “most important issue” concerning the audits, said City Councilman Earl Elliott, R-2nd, who chairs the council’s finance committee. Also gone is a phrase warning that “routinely overdrawn funds could be an indicator of serious financial problems,” a note that had appeared in nearly every audit since 2005. Although overdrawn funds remain, they are now far fewer in number. Mayor Duke Bennett said Tuesday he is “very excited” about the audits and is pleased the state examined both years because 2017 marked the most progress.

    CITIES: FIRE MARSHAL MAY SHUT DOWN PALLET MAKER - A northern Indiana fire marshal has threatened to shut down a pallet company because factory conditions pose a threat to worker safety. Michigan City Fire Marshal Kyle Kazmierczak wants to shutter Calumet Pallet’s plant until company officials improve safety conditions, the NWI Times reported. The plant doesn’t comply with National Fire Protection Association standards, Kazmierczak told the city’s Board of Works on Monday. He also said there are life-threatening conditions company officials haven’t addressed despite repeated orders to do so. The 13-acre (5.3-hectare) site is nearly 75 percent full of pallets and debris, Kazmierczak said. A pallet is a flat transport structure that supports materials while being lifted by machinery. “There is no ability to get into that site safely,” he said, adding that doorways meant to be emergency exits at the plant are blocked by debris or parked vehicles.

    CITIES: COLUMBUS DISBANDS 3 PANELS AMID OPEN RECORDS QUESTIONS - Columbus has disbanded three of its redevelopment commission's subcommittees amid ongoing questions about whether they were covered by the state's open records law (Associated Press). Mayor Jim Lienhoop said in disbanding the three panels that his city was just trying to "figure out the rules and follow them." His action followed repeated complaints and requests for information by former Mayor Kristen Brown and some of her supporters about the Columbus Redevelopment Commission's activities. Brown served as mayor from 2012 to 2015 and was defeated by Lienhoop. The Columbus Republic reports the most recent complaint alleges that the redevelopment commission isn't making its committee meetings public despite an October 2016 opinion by Indiana's public access counselor that the committees were subject to Indiana's open records law.

    CITIES: GARY SCHOOLS DEFICIT DROPPING - The state-appointed manager of the Gary Community School Corporation told state officials Monday the district faces less of a deficit than it did a year ago (Weddle, WFYI). The annual operating deficit is $15M -- that’s $7M less than the original deficit when state lawmakers approved the takeover. Eliminating the deficit by the end of 2019 remains the manager’s goal. Yet, the district remains in debt by $98M, much of that coming from outstanding bonds and loans from banks and the state. The $6.2M state contract for the emergency manager includes an additional nearly $1.5 million in financial incentives for making financial and academic benchmarks. Peggy Hinckley, the first emergency manager to run a public school district in Indiana, wants to see a return to pre-2013 enrollment levels to help fight the deficit. Her team is also planning to ask voters to approve a property tax increase referendum in November 2019, according to a report released to the Distressed Unit Appeal Board on Monday.

    CITIES: JEFFERSONVILLE MOVES ON SEWER, STORMWATER IMPROVEMENT - The Jeffersonville City Council is proceeding with plans to address its sewer overflow issue (McAfee, News and Tribune). At Monday's meeting, the council unanimously approved an ordinance establishing a non-reverting fund for a wastewater treatment capital improvement plan. The funds would go only toward the city's Eighth Street Stormwater Separation Project. The council also voted 8-1 to transfer $1.5M for professional services and stormwater improvements into the new fund, with Councilman Dustin White opposing. The money will be transferred from the city's general and EDIT funds. The City of Jeffersonville is under a mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency to lower its number of untreated sewer overflows into streams and rivers. The mandate states that the city can't have more than one overflow into the Ohio River and three into Cane Run Creek each year. Under a 2009 agreement, Jeffersonville has until 2025 to comply with the mandate through its long-term control plan, but the city is still grappling with funding and may need to renegotiate with the EPA.

    CITIES: GRIFFITH SECESSION SCHEDULE QUESTIONED BY COUNTY BOARD - Griffith’s vote on splitting from Calumet Township is moving forward, but questions arose Tuesday on whether there was enough time to properly run the election (Lyons, Chicago Tribune). The Lake County Board of Elections and Voter Registration on Tuesday received the timeline to prepare for Griffith’s Sept. 25 question asking voters on whether they want to split from Calumet Township. Board members questioned if its staff had enough time to meet all the deadlines ahead of the date. “This is an important election,” said board President Kevin Smith. Smith said he’s concerned whether Griffith voters knew the deadline to request an absentee ballot had already passed, and if they know voter registration ends Friday. Smith, a Democrat, said he doesn’t think appropriate time has been given. Board member Michael Mellon, a Republican, said the onus is on the board to make the election happen. Mellon warned that delaying the vote could mean taking away voters' ability to decide on the matter entirely.

    CITIES: HIGH PROFILE VALPO ATTORNEY FACES SUSPENSION - One of the region’s high-profile defense attorneys, who in the past helped represent former Lake County Sheriff John Buncich and recently took on the case of a former Cedar Lake town councilman charged with murder for allegedly shooting a Hobart attorney, now faces possible sanctions from the Indiana Supreme Court Disciplinary Commission (Lavalley, Chicago Tribune). According to documents filed in April, Larry Rogers allegedly agreed to represent a client in an appeal in 2015 and was paid at least $8K by the client’s family but did not put the money into a trust account, order a transcript of the client’s trial, or file the notice of appeal with the court. A Newton Superior Court judge, acting as a hearing officer, has concurred with the commission’s recommendation that Larry Rogers should have his law license suspended for at least 30 days, with the court setting terms for his re-admission “unique to his circumstances,” according to Aug. 16 court documents.

    CITIES: FORT WAYNE NOT YET LOOKING TO TERMINATE TRASH CONTRACT - Fort Wayne administration announced they are not looking at a breach of contract yet with Red River Waste Solutions (Rose and Burbink, WPTA21). Leaders from various Fort Wayne divisions met with Red River Waste Solutions today to give an update on the garbage and recycling collection efforts. Last week, city councilman Russ Jehl said it was time for the city to act, introducing a resolution that would hold Red River in breach of its contract with the city. The city administration says the city council resolution would not result in formal action, rather it is only a statement of the view of the situation only by those members who sign it. The administration indicated it will not pursue a declaration of material default, saying they do not believe the contractor has met the threshold for such action. “We expect more and are demanding more from Red River,” said Mayor Henry. "By working together, we can make a meaningful difference and restore the public’s trust in the garbage and recycling process in our City.”

    CITIES: HENRY SAYS TRASH HAULER NOT IN BREACH - Mayor Tom Henry's administration will not attempt to hold its garbage collection company in material breach of contract, officials announced Tuesday (Gong, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The announcement came mere hours before the Fort Wayne City Council approved a non-binding resolution to declare that Texas-based Red River Waste Solutions had breached its $5 million contract to collect garbage and recycling in Fort Wayne. “I certainly understand the frustration that many of our residents are feeling right now,” Henry said. “All of us have experienced some problems and challenges with our current disposing service.”

    CITIES: FORT WAYNE TRAIL SYSTEM EXPANDS - The city of Fort Wayne is celebrating the opening of its newest public trail segments (McGowan,Inside Indiana Business). The additional 2.2 miles bring the total length of the Pufferbelly Trail to just over six miles. The city says the two new segments connect some 1,900 residents within a half-mile radius of the trail to more than 200 businesses and organizations. Pufferbelly's four segments cost $10.3M and included $1.8M from the state's Regional Cities Initiative. Mayor Tom Henry says "the growth of our trails network continues to position Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana as leaders in providing quality of life amenities for residents, businesses, and guests. I'm encouraged by the collaboration we’ve been experiencing as we invest in projects that will have a lasting and meaningful impact. High-performing partnerships are making a positive difference in our community."

    COUNTIES: VANDERBURGH COMMISSIONERS FILE JAIL REQUEST - Vanderburgh County Commissioners aren't backing down on their funding request to kick-off the potential $40 million jail expansion project (March, Evansville Courier & Press). County Council unanimously decided to table the $1 million request from commissioners on Aug. 1. Council members wanted to delay the request for another 30-45 days, until more financial details were presented.  However, commissioners decided to push forward and re-filed the request with the Vanderburgh County Auditor's Office on Aug. 7. Commissioner Cheryl Musgrave said there were no updates made to the re-filed funding request.  "Sometimes their rules and filing procedures are a little unclear, and we were being cautious," Musgrave said. "(We) just (wanted) to make sure we were on the agenda." If the Council decided to move forward with investing $1 million to start on the engineering design portion of the jail expansion, funding would come from the Local Income Tax- Public Safety Fund Account, according to city documents.

    COUNTIES: BARTHOLOMEW SHERIFF SEEKS 16% INCREASE - The Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department is asking for a 16 percent increase in its 2019 budget (Webber, Columbus Republic). A total of $4,378,137 in expenditures — up $615,794 from this year — was proposed by Sheriff Matt Myers as the Bartholomew County Council began its annual budget sessions Monday. Myers’ request does not include expenditures for the Bartholomew County Jail, which will be presented to the council during a separate meeting at 2:15 p.m. Thursday. The largest proposed increase reflects a desire to drop the department’s long-held practice of longevity pay, and replace it with established wages for all merit officers that are comparable to what both Columbus Police Department officers and Indiana State Police troopers earn, Myers said.

  • CITIES: SOUTH BEND LAUNCHES 'DIGITAL INCLUSION' CENTER - The city of South Bend has launched an effort aimed at growing "digital inclusion" (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). In partnership with the St. Joseph County Public Library and St. Joe Valley Metronet, the city has created the Center for Learning, Information, Connectivity, and Knowledge, which will have a focus on helping residents "gain the technology and digital literacy skills demanded by the modern age." The center will be located at the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in South Bend. It will include high-speed Internet, public Wi-Fi, laptop and desktop computers, and services such as copying, faxing, scanning, and printing.  The city says the goal is the develop more CLICK locations throughout the city. "Educational and economic empowerment requires high quality access to the Internet and technology for residents," said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. "The CLICK at MLK will connect residents to digital resources and aligns with our efforts to make access to the Internet a core element of equity in the 21st century."

    CITIES: WABASH EMBARKING ON ASIAN TRADE MISSION - Wabash Mayor Scott Long will this fall lead a delegation on a trade mission to Asia (Brown, Inside Indiana Business). Long says the trip, which will be the first of its kind for leaders from throughout Wabash County, has been a key focus of his administration. The group will include leaders from the Honeywell Foundation, Grow Wabash County, Wabash City Schools, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership and local businesses. The delegation will meet with business and government officials in Japan and China during the trip. The city says the delegation will meet with companies that currently have a presence in Wabash County in an effort to explore opportunities for expansion and educational collaborations. The second leg of the trip will see the delegation travel to China, where the city will continue efforts to establish a sister-city relationship with Linhai City. Linhai is a suburb of Taizhou, which is already a sister-city to Fort Wayne.

    CITIES: FORT WAYNE SNACK-MAKER SEYFERT'S SHUTTING DOWN - A local company with more than 80 years of history has notified employees that it is closing down because it is no longer profitable (Shelley, ABC21). Sources said the manufacturer of chips, pretzels, cheese puffs and other snacks had explored options, including the possible sale of the company, but that officials were unable to find a viable alternative to closure. Employees will receive one week of pay for every year of service and will be offered job placement services. Seyfert's was founded in Fort Wayne in 1934 by Charles Seyfert, who moved west to Indiana from Pennsylvania to launch the business.

    CITIES: TERRE HAUTE THEATER ON TAX SALE LIST - While it is listed in a September tax sale, the owner of the Indiana Theatre in downtown Terre Haute said that doesn't mean the historic property necessarily will change hands (Greninger, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Indiana Theatre LLC owes $102,425 in unpaid property taxes relating to the building at 7th and Ohio, which is on the National Register of Historical Places. In March 2013, David R. Lundstrom formed Indiana Theatre LLC to buy the Indiana Theatre, transforming it into the Indiana Theatre Event Center. The event center hosts events including weddings and rehearsal dinners/receptions, private parties and dinner events, corporate meetings and events, holiday parties, private movie shows and stage shows, concerts and live entertainment, fundraising events and theatrical productions. And the theater will continue to do so, Lundstrom said Monday. He said he is working to resolve the unpaid taxes, and the event center remains viable.

    CITIES: ELLETTSVILLE EYES DRIVER TAX - A drop in state funds for road improvements has Ellettsville officials considering another source of funding — a new tax for drivers (Bloomington Herald-Times). Sandy Hash, Ellettsville clerk-treasurer, said the town council has requested more information on adopting vehicle excise surtax and wheel tax to help recoup a decrease in state dollars. A final decision on the taxes is expected later this month, at the council’s August 25 meeting. “I know a new tax is never fun but everyone does really like nice smooth roads and this would go 100 percent for road repair,” Hash said during last week’s Ellettsville Town Council meeting. According to the proposed ordinance, a surtax of $25 would be assessed annually on passenger vehicles and trucks under 11,000 pounds. This is the maximum amount allowed under state law. Hash said the range is from $7.50 to $25. For motorcycles and motor driven cycles, $15 per year is being proposed.

    COUNTIES: STATE TAX REVIEW REVERSES BARTHOLOMEW HOUSING CASE - In a reversal of a tax case stretching out for a dozen years, the Indiana Board of Tax Review has ruled in favor of the nonprofit Housing Partnerships Inc. (Webber, The Republic). The Indiana Board of Tax Review has ordered that HPI be granted property tax exemptions for its housing projects for each year under appeal. The determination refers to about 60 properties during the assessment years of 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016. The ruling calls for Bartholomew County to repay the nonprofit $750,000 for property taxes paid from 2009-17, which includes all back taxes the county had charged during the appeals process. When all expenses are considered, the state is now ordering the county to surrender nearly $1 million to HPI, Bartholomew County Assessor Lew Wilson said. Wilson’s office is asking the Indiana Tax Court to review the board decision. In its Aug. 11 petition, the assessor’s office describes the board’s decision as “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.”

    COUNTIES: FATAL OVERDOSE NUMBERS DOWN IN VANDERBURGH - Fewer people have died of confirmed overdoses in Vanderburgh County so far this year than last at the same time, according to Coroner Steve Lockyear (Fater, Evansville Courier & Press). Twenty people died of confirmed overdoses in Vanderburgh County from January to May this year, Lockyear said. In that five-month period in 2017, drug overdoses killed 36 people in the county. Opioid overdoses increased quickly in Vanderburgh County over the last few years. In 2016, the death toll of heroin and fentanyl was 29 people, a jump to more than four times 2015's total of six. However, emergency services' use of naloxone (or Narcan), a medication which reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, has not significantly diminished. In fact, Evansville Fire Department Chief of Administration Charles Hertzberger pointed out that from April to August last year the medication was used 34 times, while that period this year has seen 44 uses. Other departments have reported similar or slightly reduced numbers.

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  • Chairman Brown still in critical, but making progress
    House Speaker Brian Bosma is in regular contact with House Ways & Means Chairman Tim Brown’s family, and Bosma reported today that Dr. Brown remains in critical but stable condition at the hospital in Ann Arbor. Brown was injured in a motorcycle accident near the Mackinaw Bridge in Michigan. The family also conveyed that he has made positive progress since the accident.
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  • Bloomberg ponders 2020 presidential run as a Democrat

    Chalk this one up in the what-goes-around-comes-around category. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is pondering a 2020 presidential run as a Democrat, telling the New York Times“It’s impossible to conceive that I could run as a Republican — things like choice, so many of the issues, I’m just way away from where the Republican Party is today. That’s not to say I’m with the Democratic Party on everything, but I don’t see how you could possibly run as a Republican. So if you ran, yeah, you’d have to run as a Democrat.”

    Should he win the Democratic nomination, the billionaire Bloomberg would likely face President Trump, a billionaire Manhattan Democrat who turned Republican and has said he will seek reelection. - Brian A. Howey, publisher

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