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Monday, January 20, 2020
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  • NAPPANEE: AMISH ACRES AUCTION DRAWING WIDE INTEREST - From celebrity designer Joanna Gaines in Waco, Texas, to local theater lovers, interest has been growing for the upcoming auction of the Amish Acres property. The property is scheduled to be auctioned Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. in 16 tracts (Federow, CNHI). The sale and auction of the property is being handled by Schrader Realty and Auction of Columbia City. The 28-acre property has been divided into 16 tracts with tracts 1-4 each containing two-plus acres of development sites fronting U.S. 6. Tract 5 has four plus acres and includes the Round Barn Theatre, greeting barn, meeting house and paved parking. Tract 6 includes the restaurant barn, shop and two log cabins. Tracts 7-10 each includes older homes and or storage buildings. Tract 11 and 12 are one-plus acres of development sites fronting Arnott Street. Tract 13 includes the 62-room inn and three plus acres. Tract 14-16 includes buildings for removal, including the soda and fudge shop building (#14), meat and cheese building (#15) and cider and grist mill building (#16).  Roger Diehm of Schrader Realty and Auction is handling the sale of the property and said there’s been “a tremendous amount of interest.”

    TIPPECANOE COUNTY: JAIL AT AN EXPENSIVE CROSSROADS -  Tippecanoe County stands at an expensive crossroads (Lafayette Journal & Courier). Does it warehouse low-level criminals and accused criminals by expanding the jail or  provide treatment for underlying reasons commonly believed to be behind crime? One path — warehousing criminals — requires a $32 million jail expansion, and some believe it will not resolve the overcrowding conditions at the jail because offenders will just fill up the new spaces. The other path funds an estimated $7 million expansion of the community correction center on North Ninth Street so participants can be treated for mental illness and substance abuse. “A significant number of our (jail) population are frequent fliers, … and a substantial number are nonviolent,” Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh said.  “If we can get these people hooked up with mental health treatment or substance abuse treatment, that puts this (jail expansion) off,” he said.

  • INDIANAPOLIS: CIB AWARDS $62M IN CONTRACTS FOR FIELDHOUSE - The Capital Improvement Board on Friday voted to approve nearly $62 million in contracts for the massive overhaul to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, which is expected to begin this summer (Shuey, IBJ). The CIB, a quasi-governmental agency that owns the Fieldhouse and a handful of other major sports and convention venues downtown, approved nine contracts—mostly to local firms—for the first and second phases of the $360 million project. The bids totaled $61.9 million. The board last year struck a deal with Pacers Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Indiana Pacers and manages the Fieldhouse, for a sweeping overhaul of the venue and millions of dollars in new technology and operating subsidies.

    SOUTH BEND: DATA LACKED FOR PD DISCIPLINE - A set of proposed disciplinary guidelines for the South Bend Police Department has support from some community activists and the local police union in part because they say the punishment for violations by officers has sometimes seemed arbitrary or inconsistent over the years (Sheckler, South Bend Tribune). In December, as former mayor Pete Buttigieg’s tenure came to an end, the city administration proposed a disciplinary “matrix” that would group types of violations in categories and assign a range of advisory punishments for each category, from minor mistakes to severe misconduct. Supporters of the plan say the guidelines would benefit both the public and officers by creating clear expectations and more predictability in discipline. But, in fact, it’s almost impossible to know how South Bend police leaders have handled violations, or whether chiefs have, in reality, doled out inconsistent punishment. That’s because the city says it does not have records showing disciplinary actions on an annual basis.

    GARY: MAYOR PRINCE TAKES THE HELM OF TROUBLED CITY -  As Jerome Prince wrapped up his second day as the city's newest mayor, he couldn’t help but notice the tired-looking, torn American flag flying outside City Hall (Cross, NWI Times). “It was sort of cringing to me because even though I had been there two days, I take ownership of this, and I could only think about how many people had driven by and saw that,” Prince said. “The next day, we took it down and got a new flag. And now, when I come in and see the bright, beautiful flag flying there, to me that’s a symbol of the type of progress that we want to continue to experience on a daily basis. That’s sort of how we’re approaching it, day by day,” the Gary leader said. Prince sat down with The Times last week to recap his first two weeks in office and offer a preview of what's to come for his administration. The last two weeks largely have consisted of meetings with staff, department heads and senior advisers about short- and long-term objectives. “We’re still in a transition, obviously, but we’ve got a great team of folks that are working together to try to figure things out and deliver on some of the promises we made during the campaign,” Prince said. With the Steel City tallying six homicides already in the first 15 days of 2020, Prince said public safety remains a top priority, as is the city’s financial woes and the littered lots and blighted structures.

    GARY: HOMICIDE RATE AT 11-YEAR HIGH - Violence in Gary claimed more lives in 2019 than in each of the 11 years before (Cross, NWI Times). In all, the city recorded 58 homicides, up 45% from 40 in 2018. It’s the highest number of homicides logged since 2007, when 71 homicides were reported, FBI data shows. Police responded to a total of 123 shootings in 2019, 106 of which involved a victim who survived and 17 that were self-inflicted, Cmdr. Jack Hamady said.

    ELKHART: MAYOR ROBERSON MAKES KEY HIRES - Mayor Rod Roberson, who took office on Jan. 1, continues to make appointments for his new administration. So far, Roberson has made appointments for chief of staff, city controller, city attorney, city engineer and communications director (Jorgensen, Elkhart Truth). Dayna Bennett is the mayor’s chief of staff. Before joining the Roberson administration, she was chief of staff to then-mayor of Gary, Karen Freeman-Wilson.  City Controller will be Jamie Arce, whose career with the City of Elkhart began in 2016 as the deputy city controller overseeing the day-to-day operations of the Controller’s Office and its staff. City Attorney will be John Espar, who has replaced Lawrence Meteiver as the city attorney. Born and raised in Michigan City, Espar attended Indiana University for his undergraduate studies and received his law degree from USC.

    FORT WAYNE: ELECTRIC WORKS ANCHOR TENANT NEEDS MORE TIME - The future seems to be brighter for the highly discussed and anticipated Electric Works project (WANE-TV). Jeff Kingsbury, one of developer RTM’s partners, has confirmed to WANE 15 the project has found an anchor tenant that will allow the project to move forward. However, they will need a deadline extended to finalize details with the company and other tenants, Kingsbury added. The deadline to secure funding and leasing commitments to keep the deal afloat is Feb. 1. Developers have a current closing deadline of April 30, 2020. In a phone interview with WANE 15, Kingsbury said they would want the deadline for funding and leasing to be pushed back by 90 days to April 30, and the closing day by 60 days to June 30.

    FORT WAYNE: 2,500 MARCH FOR LIFE - Pro-life advocates and groups marched the streets of Fort Wayne in protest of legalized abortion Saturday (WANE-TV). Saturday was the 46th annual Northeast Indiana March for Life. The march began with a rally at the University of Saint Francis Performing Arts Center. At the rally, Allen County Right to Life unveiled expansion plans to become Right to Life of Northeast Indiana. The expansion includes 7 counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, and Wells. Nearly 2,500 people were expected to participate in the rally and March for Life.

    MONTICELLO: MAYOR GROSS HAS BIG PLANS - Mayor Cathy Gross has officially taking over office in Monticello. She's excited to start working to better the community and city (WLFI-TV). Mayor Gross spoke with news 18 and she said she is looking into is a river walk near the downtown area. She said the city is working on a grant to have the walk installed near Broadway and Bluff Street in Monticello. Gross is also very passionate about the young generation in Monticello. She's currently working with the Twin Lakes School Corporation to create a leadership council. Serving the community she grew up in is something Gross said, is a dream come true. "When I pulled into the parking lot and pulled into the space that said "Mayor parking only" it was like, this really happened," said Gross. She adds, "When I walk in the door my first thought is thank you. I'm a person of faith. So thank you, for giving me the opportunity to serve in this way," said Gross.

    PORTER COUNTY: VIOLENT CRIME UP - The overall crime rate fell last year in Porter County, but violent crimes, such as murder and robbery, increased by nearly 10%, according to a year-end evaluation done by the Sheriff's Department (Kasarda, NWI Times). In hopes of tempering the news somewhat, Sheriff Dave Reynolds said the increase came on the heels of 2018, which had the lowest violent crime rate in the past five years. The overall crime rate was down last year by nearly 8% and was lower than any other year going back to 2015, the department said. The violent crimes figure, however, was boosted, in part, by two murders from none the year before, according to the report. There also increases in the numbers of simple assaults, thefts and burglaries, in addition to eight rapes (the same as 2018) and four robberies (one more than 2018). Aggravated assaults and vehicle thefts were down, police said. "Some of our most notable numbers in our statistics show a 66.6% decrease in fatal crashes reported (three) and a 9.8% increase in DUI arrests," the Sheriff's Department said.

    MIAMI COUNTY: RULING ON DAM CONTESTED - Miami County is challenging a Marion County judge’s August ruling which found that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources had the authority to require property owners and Miami County to fix the dams at the Hidden Hills subdivision (AP). That judge also found that Miami County was fully responsible for those repairs. But Miami County has asked the Indiana Court of Appeals to overturn that decision, which could leave it saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars of repairs, the Kokomo Tribune reported. The county wrote in a brief that the subdivision’s property owners should share the burden of fixing the dams since the lakes created by them are only used by residents for their “own private pleasure.” That court filing also notes that the homes’ waterfront views have raised their property values. “The County, by contrast, gains no benefit from the dams,” the brief states. “It maintains roads. It does not matter whether those roads traverse dams or the ground.”

    BROWN COUNTY: WILLIE NELSON SELLS OUT IN 4 MINUTES - Tickets for the April 28 Willie Nelson concert at the Brown County Music Center went on sale Friday morning at 10 a.m., and the tickets sold out in a mere four minutes (Indiana Public Media). The Facebook group Brown County Matters was abuzz with comments about the speed at which they sold out and the high resale prices of remaining tickets available on Ticketmaster.

  • MUNCIE: MAYOR RIDENOUR'S PLAN FOR FINANCES - From overspent accounts to a falling general fund, problems with Muncie's finances are widespread. New Mayor Dan Ridenour and his staff are working to identify the issues, and discussions have ultimately led to one question: What is the administration doing to improve all the problems? Here is how Ridenour says he'll work to get the city finances under control (Ohlenkamp, Muncie Star Press). 1. Board of work. Ridenour is focusing on improving the process, and that includes the board of works. The board serves as a final step in city spending, so it's an important part of the process. City council appropriates money, and the board approves department spending of that money. 2. Better scrutiny on department spending: Ordinance 3-20 currently going through city council adjusts the quote requirements for department purchases from $5,000 to $150,000 in various ways to help slow down the process.

    WEST LAFAYETTE: 3RD STREET TO CLOSE ON PURDUE CAMPUS - In 2018, Purdue’s new Giant Leaps Master Plan put a priority on creating a series of pedestrian malls between the main, academic part of campus and the residence halls to the west (Lafayette Journal & Courier). The first step on that will come by the time the fall 2020 semester starts, when Purdue and West Lafayette close a stretch of Third Street to traffic. Here’s a look at what’s coming, according to Purdue’s announcement this week. Purdue will close Third Street between University Street and Martin Jischke Drive. According to the university, the two-block stretch will be lined with planters, a bike path and more room for pedestrians.

    INDIANAPOLIS: HOGSETT SEEKS TENANT INITIATIVE - Indianapolis is making a move to crack down on bad landlords (IBJ). Mayor Joe Hogsett on Wednesday announced a new city tenant protection and legal assistance initiative that is expected to increase resources for Indianapolis residents dealing with housing challenges that include substandard living conditions, eviction and retaliatory actions by “bad-actor” landlords. Indianapolis has the second highest number of evictions in the country, behind only New York, according to Princeton University database, and the state is one of only a few that doesn’t have an anti-retaliation law that prohibits landlords from evicting tenants after they complain about poor living conditions and other problems. Under Hogsett’s proposed initiative, $250,000 of new funding would be allocated toward increasing resources for tenants. The city will work in partnership with Indiana Legal Services, a not-for-profit law organization that provides free civil legal assistance to eligible low-income residents throughout Indiana.

    GARY: CLOSURE OF ROOSEVELT HS URGED - The emergency management team overseeing the state takeover Gary Community School Corp. is recommending the closure of Gary's Theodore Roosevelt College and Career Academy building (Lanich, NWI Times). Students were displaced from the historic Gary school last February after extreme cold weather led to damages estimated over the summer to cost more than $10 million. After seeking a second estimate this winter from Gary-based Power & Sons Construction Co., the district emergency management team determined it could not meet the $9.6 million to $15 million cost projected by Powers & Sons. "Gary Community Schools does not have the resources to take that on," said Eric Parish, of the emergency management team's MGT Consulting.

    GARY: FREEMAN-WILSON'S FAREWELL INTERVIEW - Karen Freeman-Wilson made history in November 2011 when she was elected as the state's first black female mayor, and Gary's first female mayor. Her landslide win brought a new sense of determination at City Hall and to the streets of Gary, but the celebration was short-lived (Cross, NWI Times). Now, she is passing that nearly impossible task to her successor, Jerome Prince, who took office Jan. 1 after he defeated Freeman-Wilson in the May primary. Freeman-Wilson sat down with The Times that day to reflect on her eight-year reign in Gary — her regrets, her accomplishments and what’s next for her. “You hear a lot of people say, ‘Well, you lost an election, and I’m really sorry.’ And I’m thinking to myself, ‘It's great. Sometimes God has to tell you what’s best for you.’ I’m not saying I’m not disappointed. The competitor in you always wants to win, but if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans,” Freeman-Wilson said.

    NOBLESVILLE: SCHOOLS USE VAPE DETECTORS - Another Indiana school district is coming up with new solutions to stop the teen vaping epidemic. Across the country, vaping has hospitalized thousands of young people and claimed 59 lives (WTHR-TV). Noblesville High School and the district's middle schools are getting new technology intended to catch kids vaping and getting them help to kick the potentially deadly habit. Schools across the country, including some in Indiana, have already installed vaping detectors in their bathrooms and locker rooms. They look similar to smoke detectors, but as Chris Lagoona from Next Tier Products demonstrated, it detects a variety of airborne chemicals including the ones specific to vaping. "The sensor is going to pick it up and it is going to alert someone that it is a vape and also, a vape with THC levels," he said.

    GEORGETOWN: FD CHIEF RESIGNS - Amid recent controversy within the Georgetown Fire Department, Chief Richard Bader Jr. resigned Wednesday at the request of the fire board of trustees (News & Tribune). A news release sent Wednesday by Michael Moody, chairman of the Georgetown Township Fire Protection District of Floyd County, states that the board has "taken preliminary steps to change the direction of the fire department it oversees," which includes asking for the resignation of Bader. “The Board felt that a change in leadership of the fire department was necessary for the organization to move past recent controversy and focus on providing quality fire, rescue and emergency services," Moody said, according to the release.

    BLOOMINGTON: NO CHARGES IN FARMERS MARKET INCIDENTS - No charges will be filed against five people cited for protesting an alleged white supremacist at the Bloomington Farmer’s Market last year (Pinsker, Indiana Public Media). The Purple-Shirt Brigade, which says it engages in creative non-violent protests, saw five of its members cited for disorderly conduct at the Bloomington Farmer’s Market in November. The group was protesting vendor Sarah Dye, a self-described white identitarian, whose presence at the market stirred up tensions between in the community. Charles Bond, who was among those cited, says if the city allowed Dye to stay at the market on the grounds of free speech, it has no right to penalize him. “Any advocate for free speech, whether they hate us or love should be thrilled that we’re not prosecuted," he says.

    PORTER COUNTY: TO PURCHASE VOTEMOBILE - Porter County election officials hope to set a state precedent by buying a votemobile in time for this year’s primary (Ross, NWI times). “This is a big election. We want to make it as voter-friendly as possible,” elections board member Jeff Chidester said. The county Board of Elections and Registration voted Thursday to show their support for the $62,750 purchase of a 2020 Starcraft Starlite — Valparaiso residents will recognize that style of vehicle because of the V-Line buses — to transport election equipment to polling places and training sessions and for use as a mobile polling place for early voting.

    LaGRANGE COUNTY: INDIANA'S LEAST EDUCATED COUNTY - LaGrange County is the least educated county in Indiana and the sixth-least educated in the nation, according to a recent report from data analysis site Stacker (KPC News). But Stacker's 50-state roundup doesn't contain a key piece of context — taking into account LaGrange County's large Amish population, much of which doesn't attend school past eighth grade.

  • MUNCIE: 18 CITY ACCOUNTS RUNNING IN RED - In the past three years, the city of Muncie has gone from six accounts with a negative balance totaling about a half million dollars, to 17 accounts with a current negative balance totaling more than $3 million (Ohlenkamp, Muncie Star Press). Major issues in city accounting practices are plaguing the new administration as officials dig into the city's books in the first few weeks. In an interview, Mayor Dan Ridneour and City Controller Trent Conway explained the state of the city's finances and some of the red flags they've found. The biggest concern for Ridenour: the number of accounts that are in the red at the start of the year and for how much. At the end of 2019, 18 of the city accounts were showing a negative balance of $3,310,928. For comparison, Ridenour said his office examined the same numbers from previous years. At the end of 2016, the city had six accounts in the red for negative $530,690. That number doubled going into 2017, as 12 accounts were in the red for a negative $1,019,475.

    ANDERSON: REVIEW OF DEMOTED PD CHIEF COMPLETED - The Anderson Civilian Review Board has officially closed the case brought against demoted Police Chief Tony Watters (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald-Bulletin). Local resident Derek O’Brien last year filed a complaint after a confrontation with Watters at the Dickmann Town Center in July. The board will not be making a recommendation to the Anderson City Council regarding O’Brien’s complaint. The Civilian Review Board voted not to take any action last October to give Watters a chance to respond to the complaint. Outgoing CRB chairman Carl Chambers did not respond and the case was closed.

    BROWN COUNTY: WILLIE NELSON APPEARING APRIL 28 - The Brown County Music Center announced Tuesday that country artist Willie Nelson will perform in April as part of the center's inaugural season (Indiana Public Media). Nelson has rebounded from a serious illness in 2018 that forced him to cancel a series of shows. He launched a new album in 2019 called Ride Me Back Home. Nelson will perform at the Brown County Music Center April 28, and tickets go on sale Friday, Jan. 17 at 10 a.m. on the BCMC website and through Ticketmaster.

    LaPORTE COUNTY: TASK FORCE COMPILES 2019 CRIME REPORT - A multi-agency law enforcement agency which investigates drug cases in La Porte County was busy in 2019, and as a result, a large amount of illegal narcotics was taken off the street (Michigan City News-Dispatch). In 2019, its third year of existence, the Drug Task Force: • Worked 393 total cases; • Made 175 controlled narcotics purchases; • Arrested 131 individuals; • Executed 24 search warrants; • Seized or purchased 49 firearms; and • Conducted 20 investigations assisting partnering agencies' detective divisions.

    MONROE COUNTY: LIBRARY MULLS DROPPING LATE FEES - The Monroe County Public Library may soon do away with fees for late-returns(Indiana Public Media). MCPL Board of Trustee members will meet tonight and vote on the matter at the Ellettsville Library Branch. The proposal was first brought to table during an MCPL Board of Trustees work session last week. Motivations for switching to a fine-free late return system included making the library more accessible and the large amount of time it takes for staff to explain to the current fine system to customers.

  • MARTINSVILLE: MAYOR CONCERNED BY I-69 CLOSURE - Martinsville Mayor Kenny Costin said he was concerned about increased traffic on city streets during the closure of I-69 for the year, with the impact on businesses along the highway and frustration among drivers traveling to Indiana University’s Bloomington campus (IBJ). “I understand their reasoning to do it, but it is going to really make people not want to come through Martinsville once this comes,” Costin said.

    ST. JOHN: PD CRITICIZED BY MURDER VICTIM'S FAMILY - Molley Lanham's disappearance was mishandled from the day she was reported missing to the St. John Police Department, the family said. Stacy Spejewski, Molley's mother, said Wednesday in a letter that after receiving and reviewing a final copy of the investigative report into Lanham's case, the family's feelings toward St. John police haven't changed (NWI Times). "I am so very disappointed in the findings and feel that our family and Molley were let down yet again by our town," Spejewski said. "My family and I were completely honest with the information we shared and the events that took place during and leading up to the time my daughter was missing." Lanham, 19, and Thomas Grill, 18, of Cedar Lake, disappeared Feb. 25. Police later found their bodies March 2 in a burned-out car in a remote, rural area southeast of Valparaiso. Both teens suffered gunshot wounds.

    EAST CHICAGO: MAYOR TO SELL CONTAMINATION SITE - Residents of East Chicago are upset with the mayor’s plans to sell contaminated land where a housing complex once stood to industrial developers instead of rebuilding housing there (Inside Indiana Business). Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland now says he wants to sell the abandoned property of the former West Calumet Housing Complex and allow for industrial purposes. The public housing complex was condemned three years ago and declared a federal Superfund site due to lead and arsenic contamination of the soil. "We want it cleaned up correctly, but by changing it this way, EPA is going to choose the lesser plan, and the surrounding neighborhood will be affected. That’s a big concern," said Marzita Lopez, an East Chicago resident.

    BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY: 3 DEPUTIES SUSPENDED AFTER MAN'S DEATH - Three Bartholomew County sheriff’s deputies have been suspended and demoted for failing to detain a man who was later killed after a vandalism spree (CBS4). An emergency detention order directed “any police officer” to detain Derek Anderson for his “own health and safety” as well as the safety of others. The deputies, identified as Lt. Gary Knoef, Sgt. Jason Lancaster and Sgt. Jason Williams, all made contact with Henderson, who refused to leave his home or let the deputies inside on Jan. 3. The deputies left without detaining him and made no further attempt to serve the emergency order, according to Bartholomew County Sheriff Matthew Myers. Henderson later went on a destructive vandalism spree; he entered a home about two blocks away on Jan. 4 and confronted the homeowner with a baseball bat. The homeowner opened fire; Henderson suffered gunshot wounds to the head, chest and abdomen, according to an autopsy. He’d been ordered to be detained on grounds of mental illness.

  • VIGO COUNTY: 2 OF 18 CHILD DEATHS OCCURRED - The recently released annual report of child abuse and neglect fatalities included the Vigo County death of a 2-month-old child who died of severe dehydration, and the death of a 3-month-old female due to co-sleeping (Trigg, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). One of those deaths led to criminal charges against a parent who removed a feeding tube in her infant. Because of confidentiality maintained in the cases, it is unclear if criminal charges were filed in the co-sleeping case. DCS is required to review all child fatalities involving children younger than age 1 when the child’s death was sudden, unexpected, unexplained or involves allegations of abuse or neglect, and must investigate all fatalities for children age 1 or older when the death involves allegations of abuse or neglect. “Child abuse or neglect do not discriminate by socioeconomic status,” said Heidi Decker, director of the Vigo County DCS office. “This can happen to any family. It takes communities working together to ensure families that are struggling have what they need. Everyone in Indiana is a mandatory reporter, and we encourage anyone with concerns about a child’s well-being to make a report.”

  • MICHIGAN CITY: BLACKS TAKE COUNCIL LEADERSHIP - For the first time in history, the Michigan City Common Council is majority-black and has all-black leadership (Michigan City News-Dispatch). At its meeting Tuesday, Fourth Ward Councilman Sean Fitzpatrick unseated Councilman At-Large Don Przybylinski as president by a 6-3 vote, split along racial lines. Third Ward Councilman Michael Mack was elected vice president, beating Second Ward Councilman Paul Przybylinski by a 6-3 vote, again split again along racial lines. Fitzpatrick also appointed Councilwoman At-Large Angie Nelson-Deuitch to serve as parliamentarian. “I’m truly humbled to be selected by my council peers as president of this council,” Fitzpatrick said Thursday, “and I have full confidence that we will be able to work with the new administration to ensure the residents of Michigan City are well-represented and their tax dollars are managed responsibly. I’m excited about the next four years.”

    INDIANAPOLIS: IPS SEEKS TO CONTROL 3 STATE SCHOOLS - Indianapolis Public Schools is revealing its plan to take back control of three of its schools currently run by the state (WRTV). The Indiana State Board of Education will vote Wednesday on whether or not it will return the three schools back over to IPS after a state takeover in 2012. IPS announced its intentions for each school at a meeting Saturday night. On the south side, Emma Donnan Middle School will be run by either Phalen Leadership Academy or Adelante Charter Schools, Manual High School will be turned into a Providence Cristo Rey charter and, on the east side, Howe High School will close its doors for good. IPS leaders said this plan has been years in the making. "A couple years ago we closed 3 of our public high schools, merged from seven to four and we had made a statement that if these high schools were returned to us, we were not going to reopen them as our high schools," IPS school board president Michael O'Connor said.

    INDIANAPOLIS: FIRE DAMAGES KOUNTRY KITCHEN - The Indianapolis Fire Department is investigating a two-alarm fire early Saturday morning on downtown’s near-north side at Kountry Kitchen Soul Food Place, a landmark eatery for the city’s black community (IBJ). The restaurant at 1831 N. College Ave. sustained significant damage but no injuries were reported. It was not immediately clear how operation of the restaurant would be affected.

    BLOOMINGTON: HERALD-TIMES MOVING PRINTING TO INDY - The Bloomington Herald-Times is moving all of its printing and production operations to Indianapolis (Wittmeyer, Indiana Public Media). According to a story in the paper, management made the announcement this morning. The decision will result in layoffs. General Manager Larry Hensley was quoted in the Herald-Times saying it was a financial decision and necessary to sustain the future of the paper. “This was not an easy decision at all, and in no way a reflection on the dedicated and talented staff that have produced our newspapers for so many years," Hensley said. Gannett, which now owns the newspaper, operates a printing facility in Indianapolis. In addition to printing the Herald-Times, the Bloomington press also currently prints the Indiana Daily Student and several community newspapers in the Hoosier Times newspaper group.

    ELKHART COUNTY: SHERIFF AGREES TO HOLD ICE INMATES - The Elkhart County Jail will hold detained immigrants for up to 72 hours, rather than the previous limit of 48 hours, following a request from U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement, Sheriff Jeff Siegel announced Thursday (Elkhart Truth). Siegel, in a statement, said he has allowed an amendment to the existing contract with the U.S. Marshals Service to hold no more than two individuals at a time up to 72 hours.

    LaPORTE COUNTY: SUCCESS TO TAKING WEAPONS OFF STREETS - A continuing effort to get illegal firearms off the street, started in response to a rash of violence in the Michigan City area in late 2018, led to the seizure of more than 50 illegal weapons last year (Michigan City News-Dispatch). The La Porte County Drug Task Force on Thursday announced that its officers seized 52 illegally possessed handguns in 2019 through joint operations with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearm and Explosives; and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The Drug Task Force is comprised of investigators from the La Porte County Sheriffs Office, Michigan City Police Department and La Porte Police Department, along with assigned agents from ATF and DEA, according to MCPD Lt. Tim Richardson, commander of the unit. The La Porte County Prosecutor’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Bend assisted in many of the cases.

  • PORTAGE: MAYOR CANNON SAYS HE WAS STIFFED ON PAY - The city’s former mayor said he and seven former city officials and employees have been denied their final paychecks by the city’s new clerk-treasurer (Dolan, NWI Times). John Cannon said Wednesday he has hired a lawyer to recover what he believes to be more than $10,000 in salary the city owes him, former city council members William Fekete, Mark Oprisko and Elizabeth Modesto and four others. Modesto said, “We are entitled to that money. We all took our jobs expecting to be paid to the end of our tenure. It doesn’t make sense.”

    KENDALLVILLE: TIF EXPANSION EXPECTED -  Kendallville officials have a lot of homework to do before making any decisions about whether to expand the city’s tax-increment financing districts or, at least, expand where they can spend the money they’re already collecting (KPC News). In a lengthy information session Wednesday morning, Kendallville Redevelopment Commission members hosted Heidi Amspaugh of financial consulting firm Baker-Tilley and Pattie Zelmer of law firm Ice Miller to discuss the city’s plan to potentially expand the reach of its TIF districts. Currently, Kendallville has two TIF districts, a Downtown TIF that covers the downtown area around Main Street, and the Eastside TIF, which covers the general area east of Fair Street to the eastern city limits along U.S. 6 and south to the railroad tracks.

    INDIANAPOLIS: RAMPING UP FO 2022 CHAMPIONSHIP GAME - Susan Baughman will spend this weekend getting learning the nuances of putting on a national championship game (Indiana Public Media). Then the Indianapolis College Football Playoff host committee president will spend the next two years using those lessons to come up with a game plan. On Wednesday, Baughman announced the rest of her team then took a few moments to contemplate the four-day event Indy be hosting in 2022. “We’re going to overprepare, we’re going to plan for everything,” Baughman said. “We’re going to take a look (in New Orleans) at how we can develop our plan here.” Indianapolis has plenty of experience hosting major events, including seven Final Fours, the 2000 NBA Finals, multiple Olympics trials, the 2002 basketball world championships, the 2012 Super Bowl and races including the annual Indianapolis 500 each May.

    INDIANAPOLIS: CHURCH ACQUIRES BROAD RIPPLE MARSH SITE - Another former Marsh Supermarkets property is heading toward a new use. Fast-growing Traders Point Christian Church has acquired the vacant Marsh grocery property in Broad Ripple for $7.6 million and apparently plans to use it for its new Midtown campus (IBJ). The sale of the 6.6-acre property, which closed Dec. 26, included the 57,000-square-foot store building at 2350 Broad Ripple Ave. and parking lots to the north and south, according to Marion County Assessor’s Office records. The name of the seller is listed as 2350 Broad Ripple Avenue. Traders Point, which has six church campuses around the Indianapolis area, is temporarily using the Glendale Seventh Day Adventist Church at 2900 E. 62nd St. as its Midtown Campus. The campus is about two blocks east of the Marsh site. On its website, the church says it plans to make an announcement about a permanent Midtown location soon.

    BLOOMINGTON: FARMERS MARKET WILL CONTINUE - The City of Bloomington will continue to run the Community Farmers’ Market through 2020. The Board of Park Commissioners voted unanimously Thursday evening to retain control of the market (Indiana Public Media). The vote eases tensions for many vendors who rely on the market to make ends meet. Earlier this week, over 90 market vendors sent a letter to city officials asking them to keep the market city-run. “Making the market private doesn’t solve our problem, it creates several new ones,” says Parks Board member Kathleen Mills. “Ones that would not be managed by experienced people and the considerable resources available through the Parks Department. Problems that would be up to some other unknown entity to grapple with. It also carelessly puts the livelihoods of 125 small farmers and gardeners, 17 prepared food vendors and 87 artists up to chance.”

    ROCHESTER: SPECIAL PROSECUTOR SOUGHT IN BUS CASE - A special prosecutor has been requested in the criminal proceedings against Brittany Ingle, the woman whose three children were killed when they were struck at a bus stop in 2018 by a car driven by Alyssa Shepherd. Fulton County prosecutors said they could not be unbiased in prosecuting Ingle on battery charges after she allegedly attacked Shepherd last month as the pair exited a Fulton County courtroom (AP). Shepherd, 25, was sentenced Dec. 18 to four years in prison after she failed to stop at the bus stop north of Rochester, killing three of Ingle’s children. As Shepherd was being led out of the courtroom that day, Ingle “attacked” Shepherd, according to a probable cause affidavit, and was led away in handcuffs. Ingle, 30, has not yet been charged in connection with the incident, according to Fulton County Prosecutor Michael Marrs. Marrs said he does not feel his office could be unbiased in its prosecution of the case because of how close staff came to Ingle and her family while working on the state’s case against Shepherd.

  • GRIFFITH: TOWN STILL SEEKING A TOWNSHIP -  With no luck, so far, in gaining membership to North Township or St. John Township, Griffith is presenting a bill to the state legislature that would let the town go it alone (Haber, NWI Times). After being rejected by two townships in 2018, town officials had been hoping for one of them to reconsider before the start of this year. "We are still working to find a home in a township," said Council President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd.

    INDIANAPOLIS: HEALTH CENTER FOR BROAD RIPPLE PARK -  Some major changes could soon be coming to Broad Ripple Park, but some residents say they have  serious concerns (CBS4). Indy Parks officials are hoping to enter into partnership with Community Health Network to build a new family center, which would include a health care clinic. The partnership would allow the parks department to build a new $19 million facility, which parks leaders say they wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. "We're very grateful, and we get a lot done with the dollars we are allocated, but to do a large capital project like this really requires us to think creatively how to finance it,” explained Director of Indy Parks Linda Broadfoot.

    GARY: MAYOR PRINCE MAKES COUNCIL HOMECOMING -  Jerome Prince returned Tuesday night to the Common Council as mayor (Cross, NWI Times). “It is definitely an honor to be here,” Prince said, recalling his previous service on the municipal legislative body. Prince, born in Gary and graduated from Gary's Lew Wallace High, first won election to the Gary Common Council in 2000 after a stint in the U.S. Marines. He left the city council in 2008 to become one of Gary’s representatives on the Lake County Council. Then, in 2014, he successfully ran for county assessor, overseeing the taxation of real estate across the county. He left that office last year to score an upset victory over former Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson in the Democratic primary and win election as Gary mayor last fall.

    SPENCER: RACIST FLIERS CIRCULATED - Last week’s report of plastic baggies containing rocks and white power notes with swastikas being tossed onto three properties in Bedford has been echoed in Spencer, where information and evidence gathered by local police have helped the FBI identify a possible suspect (Bloomington Herald-Times). A suspicious vehicle report sent officers to the Patriot Inn in Spencer last week. The three people in the vehicle said they were just there to get a room and denied causing any trouble.

    LAPORTE: MAYOR DERMODY'S ACTIVE START - The new mayor of LaPorte didn’t wait long to start his effort to further a sense of community and pride that he said is key to cleaning up the city and ushering in a brighter future (Maddux, NWI Times). The day after Mayor Tom Dermody was sworn in, he helped gather information from neighbors used by police to arrest a suspected drug dealer at Ohio and Norton streets. On Monday, Dermody and other members of his administration inspected an apartment building and spoke to the owner about their concerns in an effort to start the process of bringing the building into compliance.

    LAKE STATION: NEW PD CHIEF NAMED - The city’s new top cop isn’t wasting time to implement his plan to address crime in the community (Reilly, NWI Times). Mayor Bill Carroll has selected James Richardson to serve as Lake Station’s police chief. Richardson said he has placed a priority on increasing patrols in the community, and he is bulking up the city’s reserve officer program to accomplish that goal.

    LAKE COUNTY: NO SETTLEMENT IN PAY DISPUTE -  A former police officer said this week he is ready to put Lake County officials on trial over their refusal to grant higher pension benefits for disabled cops (Dolan, NWI Times). Thomas Ostrowski, Lake County Commissioner Mike Repay and a bevy of lawyers met this week in U.S. District Court, but failed to reach a compromise over Ostrowski’s lawsuit on behalf of 16 former county police officers now on disability. Court records indicate lawyers for Ostrowski and Repay conferred separately Tuesday with U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John E. Martin, who was mediating the dispute. The magistrate concluded the meeting with this statement for the record, “Settlement negotiations undertaken. Case does not settle.” “We were prepared to negotiate,” said Ostrowski, who is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana.

    VANDERBURGH COUNTY: COUNCIL OKs ACQUATICS CENTER FUNDS -  Ground is already broken at the Deaconess Aquatic Center site, but the Vanderburgh County Council on Wednesday formally approved a slice of the project's funding (Martin, Evansville Courier & Press). The County Council's 7-0 vote steered $750,000 in Evansville Convention & Visitors Bureau funds to the project. Convention & Visitors Bureau revenues come from taxes on hotel rooms. The Deaconess Aquatic Center's total budget is about $28.4 million. Completion in summer 2020 is expected. The center will replace Lloyd Pool on First Avenue, which opened in the 1970s and is outdated.

    MIAMI COUNTY: CAFO CHANGES PROPOSED - A study committee is considering whether to recommend changes to Miami County’s ordinance regulating large-scale animal farms after some residents expressed concerns about a new operation that will house over 4,600 pigs (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). The Miami County Plan Commission last year formed the study committee following push-back on the construction of the hog barn near the intersection of 100 East and 500 North. According to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, the facility has the capacity to store over 1.8 million gallons of manure and wastewater. The county’s ordinance regulating confined animal feeding operations (CAFO) says farms must be built at least 1,000 feet away from the nearest residence and be located on at least 10 acres of land that are zoned as agriculture. Miami County currently has 54 CAFOs.

  • GARY: COUNCILWOMAN CHARGED WITH INTIMIDATION - A Gary councilwoman is accused of attempting to run a woman off the road Nov. 28 and fight her, according to a law enforcement report obtained by the NWI Times. The allegations against Tai Adkins are detailed in a police report obtained Monday by The Times. Adkins, Gary's 4th District councilwoman, won the Democratic primary in May and ran unopposed in the November election. She replaced Carolyn D. Rogers, who didn't seek re-election in 2018. When reached by phone Monday, Adkins declined to comment about the report. Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter confirmed Monday that his office is reviewing the accusations against Adkins for possible criminal charges.

    COLUMBUS: NEW COUNCIL EYES TOWNSHIP ANNEXATION - A newly-reconfigured Columbus City Council with two new members will consider a proposed annexation and rezoning of nearly 80 acres in Wayne Township that has caused a stir among several area residents (Columbus Republic). The council will consider on first reading the Columbus Plan Commission’s recommendation to annex and rezone the 78-acre property at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Columbus City Hall council chambers, 123 Washington St. In November, council members approved annexing nearly 20 acres in Wayne Township, even after nearby residents begged the council to reconsider before taking a final vote.

    LAKE COUNTY: NEW SHERIFF 2ND IN COMMAND - A new second-in-command for Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez was sworn in on Monday, bringing 41 years of law enforcement experience with him (NWI Times). Vince Balbo, of Valparaiso, is a retired federal agent and former security administrator for the School City of East Chicago. He began his Lake County law enforcement career in 1979 when he was hired by the sheriff's office to work in the patrol division.

  • BEDFORD: RACIST FLIERS DISTRIBUTED - Bedford Police are investigating several complaints about flyers with Swastikas printed on them that were thrown into people’s yards (Indiana Public Media). Chief Terry Moore says three incidents were reported on New Year’s Day.  Moore says the flyers were placed in a clear plastic bag with a rock inside. The flyers read “White Power, Get Some.” Moore says he sent extra patrols into the neighborhoods where the incident occurred. He says 9 more flyers were found by officers on Thursday.

    INDIANAPOLIS: CHIEF TAYLOR BEGINS TODAY - IMPD Chief Randal Taylor begins his first full week as the city’s top cop Monday morning (CBS4). Last week, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett named Taylor to succeed Bryan Roach, who retired after a career that covered three decades. Taylor said Hogsett didn’t necessarily give him a mandate during his job interview last fall. “He told me he wants me to be out in the public, which was great because I told him that’s exactly what I wanted to do, to be out here in the streets,” said Taylor in his first one-on-one television interview since becoming chief early Saturday morning. “I’ll be at all the different events, but some of what I’m gonna have to do is be out here in these alleyways and these side streets talking individually with some people to see exactly what’s going on and what can we do to help.”

  • MISHAWAKA: FORMER MAYOR BEUTTER DIES - Robert C. Beutter, the man who was Mishawaka’s longest-serving mayor for 20 years, died Thursday at 84 (South Bend Tribune). Using the twinkle in his eye and a quick sense of humor, the amiable Republican had cultivated a sense of cooperation across party lines that got things done. He’d launched the transformation of both the downtown riverfront, where the Uniroyal plant once stood, as well as vast tracts of farmland that now are a retail hub for the region. His daughter, Lori Beutter, said her father’s death was a surprise to the family. He hadn’t been fighting a long illness, but he became sick Monday and was taken to the hospital. Until the end, he’d served as legal counsel for the city’s parks board and redevelopment commission.

    KOKOMO: MAYOR MOORE PRIORITIZES PUBLIC SAFETY - Mayor Tyler Moore says Kokomo is continuing to thrive, and he wants to hit the ground running (Fox59). "The biggest issues have been public safety and the staffing levels of both the police and fire," Mayor Tyler Moore said. "The most difficult aspect of that is having to make sure we have enough patrol officers on the street to answer everyone’s call for service when needed on all 3 shifts 24 hours a day 7 days a week," Kokomo Police Chief Doug Stout said. Kokomo’s new Police Chief Doug Stout started with the department 20 years ago and he has served as a captain of the uniform patrol division. He says in the past there have been a lot of cuts and the department has tried to adjust. "We, of course, have had an increase in certain amounts of crimes over the years and other times it goes back down," Chief Stout said.

    INDIANAPOLIS: CLIMATE CHANGE ORDINANCE PROPOSED - Indianapolis City-County Councilor John Barth introduced a proposal Friday to create a year-long commission to study the impact of climate change on Indianapolis and make recommendations to address it (Quinn, IBJ). The commission would look at how climate change is affecting the city and recommend any needed proposals that would advance the priorities of the Thrive Indianapolis plan. The plan, which was approved by the Metropolitan Development Commission last February, details goals and action to be taken to help the city achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. Co-sponsored by Democratic city councilors Zach Adamson, Dan Boots, Keith Potts, Jessica McCormick, Crista Carlino and Ali Brown, the proposal is one of the first to be introduced by city councilors in 2020. Democrats on the council now hold a supermajority with 20 council seats to the GOP’s five. Given enough support within their caucus, Democrats can approve their proposals with or without Republican councilors, but they likely would serve on the environment committee and offer input.

    MUNCIE: MAYOR RIDENOUR MAKES HIRES -  With a new administration and dozens of appointments, Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour added a few more to the city's staff on his second day in office (Ohlenkamp, Muncie Star Press). Ridenour spent most of Thursday getting to know employees and setting up systems for his office, including phones, email and more. In addition to multiple appointees that were previously announced, Ridenour appointed several new positions on the first full day of his term after the holiday. Carl Malone has been appointed parks superintendent. Malone has worked with community centers in Muncie, assisted in community programming and worked with the parks board for eight years. Brian Stephens-Hotopp has been appointed city engineer. Stephens-Hotopp has both undergraduate and master’s degrees in engineering, including experience with municipal site development and water resources. His position will oversee the street department, and this structure will do away with a person having the title of street superintendent. David Smith, who had been previously announced as the street superintendent, has been moved to a yet-unknown position within the administration, according to Ridenour.

    SOUTH BEND: MAYOR MUELLER LAYS OUT GOALS - Although many city staff and department heads won’t return from their holiday break until Monday, new Mayor James Mueller last week was already settling into his sparsely decorated office on the County-City Building’s 14th Floor. On Thursday, his first full day in office, he faced his first potential crisis following the New Year’s Eve deaths of two children after their mother’s minivan slid into a retention pond in Mishawaka — prompting questions about the handling of the call and the mapping system at the joint 911 center, which serves South Bend, Mishawaka and the county and has been plagued with personnel and technology issues in recent years. On Friday, Mueller paused for an interview with The Tribune, saying he will keep the department heads that worked under his predecessor, childhood friend and former boss Pete Buttigieg, while noting his plans also likely will differ in key ways from those of the ex-mayor.

    COLUMBUS: MAYOR LIENHOOP HAS BIG GOALS - It’s day five of the new year, and Columbus Mayor Jim Lienhoop already is looking beyond 2020 (Thomas, Columbus Republic). The city’s chief executive was sworn in Wednesday to a second term, having run unopposed in the November general election after defeating Republican challenger Glenn Petri in the May primary. With four years of experience, Lienhoop said he is ready to tackle the full plate of significant projects ahead. In his first four-year term, Lienhoop said his administration has been able to address some of the most significant challenges that the city has faced in recent years, alluding to the traffic delays on the city’s west side caused by increased railroad traffic and the city’s efforts to address substance use disorder. In November, the city broke ground on the long-awaited railroad overpass over the State Road 46 and State Road 11 crossing. At the Nov. 4 groundbreaking ceremony, Lienhoop said a railroad overpass was goal No. 1B of his first term. “The railroad project is underway, and it will have an ending,” Lienhoop said. “There will be a ribbon cutting and we’ll be able to drive over the new entryway into town.” Goal No. 1A? Establishing ASAP, the Alliance for Substance Abuse Progress. Lienhoop said he senses that the substance abuse issue is going to exist for a “long, long time.” With ASAP established, Lienhoop said the goal now is to make sure the program remains well-funded, well-staffed and well-led.

    LAFAYETTES: MAYORS ROSWARSKI, DENNIS PRIORITIZE -  2020 is a year for major redevelopment in Greater Lafayette. Both mayors are reflecting on a decade of positive growth and looking forward to finishing new projects this year. “First is the new city hall in the old Morton building, which will be named after former Mayor Sonya Margerum so we'll reference it as the Margerum Building,” said West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis (WLFI-TV). The second major project in West Lafayette is the Wellness and Aquatics Center. “It's going to have weight rooms, it's going to have cardio rooms, it's going to have an indoor pool, basketball courts, and an indoor running track, it will be a state of the art wellness facility,” said Dennis. Lafayette will finish up some major projects as well. “The baseball stadium will be primarily complete and the penguin exhibit is set to open,” said Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski. “We'll be bringing the carousel back to Columbian Park in 2020 and we're also starting the Lagoon in Memorial Island total restoration project.”

    RICHMOND: MAYOR SNOW'S PRIORITIES - Mayor Dave Snow thanked the outgoing members of Richmond Common Council — Misty Hollis, Jamie Lopeman, Clay Miller and Bruce Wissel — and welcomed their replacements — Jane Bumbalough, Jeff Cappa, Bill Engle and Larry Parker (Richmond Palladium-Item). Snow ran through a list of the successes from his first term in office and pointed to the bipartisan work that made those projects possible. "Over the last four years, we have made great strides for this community," he said. "We've seen millions of dollars in economic investment. We've bolstered the departments of our city government to better serve our citizens. We've grown our police department back to a full force after a decade of understaffing. We've delivered much-deserved pay raises to our hard-working employees. We took down the old hospital. And we've begun the implementation of key projects that are so crucial to our city's success. Among the projects that will come before the council in the coming months and years are Richmond's new comprehensive plan, the Opportunity Zones in the downtown and southern sections of the city, and redevelopment of the old Reid Hospital property and the former Elder-Beerman building. "I can't think of two opportunities for projects that could more influence a community's future than those two (old Reid and the Elder-Beerman property) do. And those will be things that we'll face if not this year, certainly within the next four years," Turner said.

    ALLEN COUNTY: 29 HOMICIDES IN 2019 - Of all the Allen County homicides in 2019, the one that bothers Detective Sgt. Timothy Hughes the most is Lashonda Eldridge's (Duffy, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). “This was a very violent killing,” said Hughes, head of the Fort Wayne Police Department's homicide unit. “She was a young mother and was killed in front of her children.” Eldridge's homicide was the county's 16th last year, one of 29 untimely deaths – lives cut short by guns, knives and, in one case, a 5-month-old who suffered blunt force injuries to his head. In 2018, the county had 46 homicides.  The Allen County prosecutor's office had two jury trial convictions and a guilty plea from last year's homicides. In two of the 29 homicides, the suspects are dead, one a suicide, according to a year-end report Hughes emailed to The Journal Gazette.

    ALLEN COUNTY: 40 TRAFFIC FATALITIES IN 2019 - Vehicle crashes claimed the lives of 40 people in Allen County in 2019. Thirteen of them – about a third – were riding motorcycles. Those totals are up over 2018 and the highest since 2017, when there were 45 deaths that included 11 motorcyclists (Chapman, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Five victims were pedestrians who were struck by vehicles. About half the county's fatal crashes were in Fort Wayne. Six were on major highways, including two motorcycle crashes and one case in which a pedestrian was killed.

    LaPORTE COUNTY: DEADLOCK ON COUCNIL PRESIDENT -  La Porte County Council president Randy Novak will remain in charge of the board – at least until its next meeting (Michigan City News-Dispatch). During a special reorganizational meeting Thursday, the six councilmen in attendance split the vote evenly between two nominees to head the seven-member council in 2020. As a result, Novak will retain his seat until the next meeting on Jan. 27, when the board will conduct another vote. Before the vote, council member Sean Quinn nominated Mike Mollenhauer to serve as president, while Mark Yagelski nominated Jeff Santana.

  • GARY: MAYOR PRINCE ORDERS RAZING OF 10 SHUTTERED SCHOOLS - Mayor Jerome Prince's administration is seeking to order the Gary Community School Corp. to demolish 10 shuttered schools by March 5 (Cross, NWI Times). The state's Unsafe Building Law, as adopted by the Gary Common Council, requires property owners to demolish unsafe buildings if deemed blighted, according to a news release from the Prince administration. Prince said he directed his building commissioner, Kenneth Williams, to hold a hearing Feb. 3 on the matter.

    FORT WAYNE: CITY HAD A STRONG YEAR - A new park. A new hospital. An entertainment district. And two hotels. Some downtown Fort Wayne projects were completed in 2019, while others reached critical milestones that included breaking ground, erecting structural steel and welcoming residential tenants (Slater, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). All contributed to “another strong year” for Allen County, Greater Fort Wayne Inc. said Thursday in its annual summary of local economic development and talent attraction efforts. Greater Fort Wayne is the primary point of contact for economic growth in the city and county. Allen set records for building construction and talent attraction and retention, the organization said. Allen's 2018 population increase of 3,141 residents included a net increase of 691 who moved here. That's the most since the Census Bureau started keeping the statistic in 1991.

    INDIANAPOLIS: 250 'SHOTS FIRED' CALLS ON NYE - Despite multiple warnings from police about firing a gun to celebrate the new year, police in Indianapolis say they received dozens of calls late December 31 and early January 1 for "shots fired" (WRTV). Fireworks or gun shots? It's hard to tell when things start "popping" outside your home after dark, but many residents assume those pops and bangs are coming from guns and they call 911 with their concerns. According to Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, dispatchers in the country received 250 calls for "shots fired" between 9 p.m. December 31, 2019 and 9 a.m. January 1, 2020.

    EVANSVILLE: WINNECKE VOWS TO WORK WITH COUNCIL - In an hour-long ceremony overflowing with hope and optimism, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke was sworn in Wednesday for his third-term, joined by a City Council with five new faces among its nine members (Evansville Courier & Press). Winnecke said he looks forward to working with city government's reshaped legislative body. "I'm very confident we'll be able to work in a really constructive way," Winnecke said after being sworn in. "When I ran eight years ago, I talked about collaborative leadership. I know that whoever holds this office can't do everything they want to do. They have to have support from a broad base of organization's throughout the community and council support."

    VALPARAISO: MAYOR MURPHY SWORN IN - With the start of the new year, the city government welcomed six new people, a new mayor, new clerk-treasurer and four new council members among the nine taking the oath of office Wednesday, so it was only fitting they were sworn in by a new Porter County judge (NWI Times). A standing-room-only crowd of family, friends and supporters filled the council chambers at the newly renovated city hall to cheer on the new administration of Mayor Matt Murphy. Retiring Mayor Jon Costas served as the master of the ceremonies, and Porter County Circuit Court Judge Mary DeBoer did the "repeat-after-me" honors for the nine. For DeBoer, it was her first official act since taking office 10 hours and 51 minutes earlier.  "I'm doing the county thing," she said, "but we'll be working together." The others taking the oaths of office included newly-elected Clerk-Treasurer Holly Taylor, taking over for Sharon Swihart, who served for 37 years; and council members George Douglas, at-large; Evan Costas, at-large; Diana Reed, District 1; Robert Cotton, District 2; Casey Schmidt, District 3; Jack Pupillo, District 4; and Peter Anderson, District 5. Evan Costas, Schmidt, Pupillo and Anderson are all serving their first term. Jon Costas introduced himself as "an average citizen," stepping down after 16 years as mayor. He said he slept very well Tuesday night, adding "I didn't even care if it snowed overnight."

    NEW ALBANY: CITY COMPLIES WITH RECORDS REQUEST - One of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the City of New Albany has stated that city officials have complied with a records request. The legal battle began Nov. 1, when Floyd County residents Irvin Stumler, Stephen Roberts and Heather Rae Peters sued the city for failing to respond to public records requests that were submitted in August. The trio sought documents related to River Run Family Water Park, Denton Floyd Real Estate Group, ProMedia Group and advertising in the News and Tribune. Up until Monday, the city had missed multiple deadlines to provide the information requested. Now, Stumler said he has learned that city officials have made a delivery to the office of his attorney. “I heard that sometime yesterday afternoon, the city brought some records and a check to my attorney’s office," he said. "I haven’t seen it. I don’t know what all’s in there. My attorney’s out of town.” The presence of the check is likely the product of a default judgment issued by special judge Vicki Carmichael on Dec. 18.

    JEFFERSONVILLE - $18K PAY RAISE FOR MAYOR MOORE -  Details surrounding a pair of special meetings conducted by Jeffersonville City Council last week are becoming more clear (Boyle, News & Tribune). Two amendments to the city's salary ordinance were approved at the meetings by the same five council members — Dustin White, Scottie Maples, Scott Hawkins, Matt Owen and Joe Paris. The first move increased Mayor Mike Moore's base salary out of the council's general fund to $93,000 from $84,000. The second was a "longevity resolution" that increased the mayor's salary by an extra 5% for each additional term served after initially entering office. In total, the amendments are set to raise Moore's base salary for the next four years to just under $103,000 — rounding out to roughly $18,000 in additional annual compensation. On Friday, Moore said he intended to veto the pay raise, as it was a matter of "respect, not money." Now, his plans aren't as firm, as he intends to sit down with council members to discuss the matter, he told the News and Tribune on Monday.

    ALLEN COUNTY: RECORDS CONSTRUCTION YEAR - Greater Fort Wayne Inc. today released an annual summary of economic development and talent attraction efforts. Officials described 2019 as "another strong year" (Slater, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Allen County set records for building construction and attracting and retaining talent, the organization said. The county's 2018 population increase of 3,141 residents included 691 who moved here from other counties. That's the most since the Census Bureau started keeping the statistic in 1991. The 2018 numbers are the most recent available and the second consecutive year when more people moved into Allen County than moved away.

  • FORT WAYNE: MAYOR HENRY MAKES HISTORY WITH 4TH TERM - The new decade brought a new historic dimension to Fort Wayne's city government as Mayor Tom Henry was sworn in for his fourth consecutive term Wednesday and the City Council welcomed two black women and a black man to the table (Duffy, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The nine-member council has more political balance as well, with five Republicans and four Democrats, replacing a Republican majority of seven. Henry is a Democrat. “This is the first time this has happened since the 1990s,” said Larry Gist, former local NAACP chair, referring to the council having more than one black member. And the council has never had black female representation. Now, Sharon Tucker will represent the sixth district and Michelle Chambers and Glynn Hines, a council veteran, will sit at-large on the council.

    KOKOMO: MOORE ERA BEGINS - It was the beginning of a new era Wednesday as newly-elected officials were sworn in at Central Middle School. The ceremony was highlighted by the swearing in of Tyler Moore, Kokomo’s new mayor. An excited Moore said he hadn’t had a lot of time to think about the ceremony and how it would make him feel (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). He credited that to all the time spent during the transition and appointing people to be ready for Jan. 1. Moore praised his transition team, which featured Howard County Republican Party Chair Team Jamie Bolser and state representative Mike Karickhoff, among others. “The transition team has been invaluable,” Moore said. “Their counsel has been invaluable in getting thing in place and thinking of things I hadn’t, but then also to stay ahead of the game so that we are on the ground running this afternoon or tomorrow.” While approaching the stage, Moore received a loud standing ovation and a second after officially being sworn in as Kokomo’s mayor. He described the reception of the crowd as “humbling.” “It’s been an exciting campaign,” he said. “It was an exciting election and just to see and feel the excitement and support that the community still has along with the trust that they placed in it is humbling and encouraging.” After being sworn in Moore enacted his first official duty as mayor and swore in the new Police Chief Doug Stout and Fire Chief Chris Frazier.

    SOUTH BEND: MUELER ERA COMMENCES - James Mueller officially took the oath at noon New Year’s Day to be the 33rd mayor of South Bend during a small ceremony at Howard Park, succeeding Pete Buttigieg, now a presidential candidate (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). Municipal code dictates the newly elected mayor takes over the office at noon in the new year, and Mueller said the ceremony was conducted so there was “no lapse in leadership.” A larger ceremony with other newly elected officials being sworn in and an onlooking public was held at 3 p.m. at Century Center in downtown South Bend. “I’m glad today has finally arrived,” Mueller said. “We’ve been working all year to get here. There’s been difficult times after the primary and after the general election that are strange times in transition, so there was a bit of relief that today has finally come, and I’m excited to start our next chapter.” In his first address to the crowd as mayor, Mueller thanked former mayors Buttigieg, Steve Luecke and others for their roles in “turning the corner and that South Bend is back on a positive trajectory.”

    GARY: PRINCE SWORN IN AS 21ST MAYOR:  Jerome Prince was sworn in Monday as the city’s 21st mayor to an animated round of applause at the Genesis Convention Center. He acknowledged the monumental task ahead of him in turning around Northwest Indiana’s most financially distressed city (Cross, NWI Times). “I don’t look at this world through rose-colored glasses. I ride my bicycle throughout the city as much as I can so I can get an up-close and personal look at the things that need to be accomplished. And as I do, I see many things that disturb me,” Prince said. “But I know that the disturbing things that I see didn’t come about just yesterday. They’ve been accumulating over the years and over many administrations and I know they’re fixable.” When Prince takes office Jan. 1, he will inherit the city’s crumbling infrastructure, troublesome fiscal record, a substandard school system, and one of the worst tax collection rates in the state. But his soon-to-be-predecessor, Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, has also set him up with $15 million in the bank to start the year off — something that she says hasn’t happened in years. And a lion’s share of the bills will be paid off.

    LaPORTE: DERMODY TAKES THE REINS - Echoing the message on the white pin — emblazoned with Slicer orange and black text that read "La Porte Proud" — affixed to his suit Wednesday, freshly sworn-in Mayor Tom Dermody said he believes his hometown is a special place (Michigan City News-Dispatch). To tackle the current challenges facing the city, the new mayor asked for leaders and residents of his beloved community to work hand-in-hand to help realize La Porte's untapped potential. "We're going to make this a place that our children and grandchildren want to come back home to and raise their family," Dermody said. "The only way we're going to be able to that is doing it together."

    INDIANAPOLIS: HOGSETT SWORN IN -  A festive and patriotic atmosphere Wednesday at a political event in Downtown Indianapolis (WRTV). Mayor Joe Hogsett and City-County Councilors are now sworn-in for duty. Judge Sarah Evans Barker presided over the swearing-in ceremony at the Indiana Landmarks Center. "The elections that brought you here today reflect our community's shared confidence as well as hopes that you will together figure out ways and find paths that will lead to economic prosperity as well as an atmosphere of civility and equal justice for all," Judge Barker said at the ceremony.

    INDIANAPOLIS: MILLENNIALS TAKE OVER COUNCIL -  The start of 2020 means Indy's City-County Council is swearing in new members. The ceremony happened Wednesday morning, and with that, it officially means the council will be decidedly younger (CBS4). Of all the members who were sworn in, eight of them are under the age of 38. In fact, this youth movement now means one third of the council are millennials. “Which means as a city we recognize that young leaders have a powerful voice," said councilor Blake Johnson. “We are the next step of leadership. We are the next generation coming up," said council minority leader Brian Mowery.

    INDIANAPOLIS: TAYLOR NEW IMPD CHIEF - Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Randal Taylor as the new chief for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (CBS4). Hogsett made the announcement during a press conference Tuesday morning. Chris Bailey will become the assistant chief. “Randy has proven himself to be a thoughtful, community-minded leader and a dedicated advocate for those impacted by violence,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “With decades of law enforcement experience in the Indianapolis community, I believe that Randy is uniquely positioned to build upon the progress of the last three years while moving the department forward with a renewed commitment to transparency, accountability, and collaboration.” Taylor is a familiar face from within the department. He is a longtime criminal investigator, and he most recently served as the assistant chief under Bryan Roach. He began his law enforcement career with the Champaign Police Department in 1987.

    VALPARAISO: CLERK SWIHART HOLDS OFFICE FOR 37 YEARS - After 37 years in office, Sharon Swihart is the only clerk-treasurer two generations of Valparaiso residents have known. So, it’s understandable some might think she was first elected during the Polk Administration (Wieland, NWI Times). Swihart actually got her first city job at the age of 20 when she was hired as an administrative assistant to the police chief. She got the opportunity after sitting in for a friend, who was the mayor’s secretary, while the friend went on her honeymoon. The chief asked if Swihart would like a part-time job. “They didn’t even have a budget for a secretary before that,” Swihart said. Swihart said she had just had a baby and the extra money sounded good. She worked for a while, then quit to have her second child before returning for several years, during which time she did the paperwork for several successful grant applications. She also worked with then city Clerk-Treasurer Hallie Edge on city budgets. That experience planted the idea of some day being clerk-treasurer herself. She spent seven years working for the Porter County Clerk’s office on the second floor of the old jail building downtown and began to get involved in local politics, managing campaigns and such, but never seriously considered putting her own name on the ballot until 1983 when the clerk-treasurer resigned for health reasons.

  • LaPORTE: DERMODY CHOOSES POLICE CHIEF -  The next mayor of LaPorte is bringing new leadership to the police department to help fulfill his major campaign pledge to crack down on drug activity (I). Capt. Paul Brettin will take over as police chief when Mayor-elect Tom Dermody takes office Jan. 1. Sgt. Nathan Thode has been appointed the new assistant police chief.

  • INDIANAPOLIS: BLUE INDY TO END SERVICE IN MAY - BlueIndy is pulling the plug on its Indianapolis operations. The electric car-sharing service will end service in May, saying on its website “the service did not reach the level of activity required to be economically viable here” (Inside Indiana Business). A statement on the site said, “We regret to announce that BlueIndy will end its collaboration with the City of Indianapolis, effective May 21st, 2020.” The company launched in Indianapolis in September 2015, the first U.S. market for the France-based company.

    INDIANAPOLIS: CHIEF ROACH ON HIS TENURE - When Mayor Joe Hogsett named Bryan Roach to lead the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in January of 2017, the newly promoted chief said he would commit to serving as the city’s top cop throughout the end of the mayor’s first term (CBS4). Joe Hogsett will be sworn in to serve his second term as mayor on January 1, 2020. Bryan Roach will retire two days later after almost 29 years of wearing an Indianapolis police uniform. In a recent interview, he shared this advice for the man or woman who follows him: “Be connected. You gotta show up,” said the chief, “Whether it's four kids that want to play chess with you in a small park on the northwest side or a megachurch that wants to recognize you on a Sunday. You gotta be all in.” For nearly three decades Roach was “all in,” first as a district officer on the near northside, then as a narcotics detective and later as a commander on the Southwest District and deputy chief of administration before taking over the helm of the department at Hogsett’s behest.

    GARY: CITY BORROWS $26M AGAINST FUTURE TAXES - Despite the city closing on a $40 million bond sale in November that shores up much-needed money for operating expenses and pays down debt, the Gary Common Council on Tuesday endorsed borrowing more money to keep the government afloat (Cross, NWI Times). Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who leaves office Dec. 31, said the $26 million loan is different than in past years because incoming mayor Jerome Prince's administration should be able to pay back the loans in the same year. “As long as there is adherence to a financial plan that watches spending as the year continues," she said. Cities and towns typically borrow in the form of tax anticipation warrants to keep cash flow more flexible throughout the year.

    MUNCIE: RIDNENOUR SELECTS FD CHIEF - Muncie Mayor-elect Dan Ridenour has named a 34-year veteran of the Muncie Fire Department as his new chief and selected a longtime city council member to serve on the Board on Works (Muncie Star Press). Ridenour announced his selections on Friday. David Miller, the department's current chief inspector, will be the new chief, and the deputy chief will be Alan Richards, a 25-year veteran of the department. Miller was promoted to chief investigator in 2009.

    NOBLESVILLE: MITCHELL SELECTED AS FD CHIEF - Mayor-elect Chris Jensen announced Matt Mitchell, currently Noblesville’s Assistant Fire Chief, will serve as Noblesville’s next Fire Chief (Howey Politics Indiana). “With his nearly three decades of experience at the Noblesville Fire Department and leadership at the local, state, and national levels in fire prevention and public safety, I’m proud to have Chief Mitchell continuing his leadership of Noblesville’s Fire Department as our next Chief," Mayor-elect Chris Jensen said. Alongside Director of Public Safety Chad Knecht and Police Chief John Mann, Chief Mitchell will work with Mayor-elect Jensen to face new challenges in public safety and ensure an even safer next chapter for Noblesville’s families and businesses.

    ELKHART: CLERK ANDERSON HONORED -  A local leader has been awarded for his election service this year. Elkhart County Clerk Chris Anderson was named Outstanding Election Administrative Clerk of the Year by the Indiana Election Administration’s Conference in Indianapolis (Elkhart Truth). Anderson began his tenure as the Elkhart County clerk in August 2018, after his predecessor, Wendy Hudson, resigned from the position early to fulfill her new position in California. Previously the chief deputy of elections since 2011, Anderson was knowledgeable on elections, but he still spent hours in the evenings on the phone with Hudson making sure he had everything perfect.

    ROCHESTER: SHEPARD GETS 4 YEAR SENTENCE IN BUS STOP DEATHS - The Indiana woman who killed three children after passing a stopped school bus in October 2018 has been sentenced to four years in prison (Indiana Public Media). Alyssa Shepherd drove past a stopped school bus in Rochester. She hit four children -- killing three siblings. In addition to four years in prison, the judge sentenced Shepherd to three years home detention and three years probation. Her driver’s license will be suspended for ten years. Michael Schwab, the children’s grandfather said they were hoping for a longer sentence. “From our position, at least mine is that, again, it was not an accident. It was a result of her decision making.” Since the incident, the Indiana legislature imposed stricter fines and punishments for illegally passing a school bus. Fulton County Prosecutor Michael Marrs said the laws need to be enforced. “It’s rampant statewide and we’re going to get more situations like that if we don’t do something. I know they’re changing the laws to make things tougher but we’re gonna have to crack down on it.”

    EAST CHICAGO: MAYOR COPELAND SUES COUNCIL - Mayor Anthony Copeland struck back Tuesday against the city council in their fight over who controls the city firefighters’ work schedule. John Bushemi, the city council attorney, announced Tuesday night to the council’s public safety committee that the mayor is suing to keep in place a new swing shift he imposed this month on firefighters (Dolan, NWI Indiana times). Bushemi said the mayor’s suit is aimed at blocking a city council ordinance that would return the firefighters to a schedule of 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off. City Councilman Robert Garcia said, despite the suit, the council is set to meet 6 p.m. Monday and vote on its ordinance on a second reading. The ordinance supports the firefighters, who oppose the mayor’s swing shift, saying it was an act of political retaliation for their union’s opposition to the mayor’s reelection earlier this year. Copeland has denied any political motivation for the schedule switch. The date for a third and final reading of the ordinance has yet to be announced. Bushemi said the mayor filed his suit Tuesday in state court. The case hadn’t yet been posted on the court’s online docket indicating when the matter would appear before a judge.

    GARY: HOOPS BAN TABLED - For now, a ban on basketball hoops in the city’s streets has been scrapped. The Gary City Council was set to vote on a ban at Tuesday night’s meeting, but public outcry against the proposed ordinance prompted the sole sponsor, outgoing Gary Councilwoman LaVetta Sparks-Wade, D-6th, to reconsider and bring it back to committee (Cross, NWI Times). “I sponsored this singularly because I didn’t want my colleagues to take a political hit for this. I’m on my way out. The hit is not damaging for me,” Sparks-Wade said at Tuesday’s council meeting. “What I want is for the discussion to continue. We have to have viable solutions to balance safety and recreation.” The complaint-driven ordinance would have banned hoops in the streets, but allow them in driveways and alleyways. The first violation would amount to a warning, and subsequent violations would lead to a fine of up to $500. Some residents at the meeting questioned how many kids had driveways or a garage to place a hoop, and one resident even called the proposed ban discriminatory against lower-class citizens. Supporters have argued children could visit the city’s parks to play ball, but councilmembers Michael Protho, D-2nd, and Mary Brown, D-3rd, questioned how many kids in Gary live in walking distance of a park.“Not everyone’s got a car,” Protho said.

    KOKOMO: MOORE UNDECIDED ON DEPUTY MAYOR - Mayor-elect Tyler Moore is still undecided on his choice for deputy mayor, he recently told the Tribune (Myers, Kokomo Tribune). Moore wrote in an email late Tuesday afternoon that there “has been no decision on the position of Deputy Mayor at this time” and said he does not have a timeline for when an announcement will be made. “Will let you know as soon as I do,” he remarked.

    BLOOMINGTON: COUNCIL PASSES UDO - In its last meeting of the year, the Bloomington City Council unanimously adopted a new Unified Development Ordinance after three and a half months of amending and debating portions of the city’s chief land use document (Bloomington Herald-Times). Since Oct. 2, the council has debated and amended the proposed UDO revision. The result will replace the previous ordinance that dictates land use, development and zoning within city limits. The draft, published in September, was written and researched by Clarion Associates, a national urban planning consulting firm. The previous UDO was passed in 2006.

    RICHMOND: 4 COUNCIL MEMBERS SAY FAREWELL -  With the night's regular business done, there was one last thing to do before Richmond Common Council adjourned its final meeting of the year Monday: Say goodbye (Richmond Palladium-Item). One by one, the group's four departing members — Misty Hollis, Jamie Lopeman, Clay Miller and Bruce Wissel — took turns saying their thank-yous and sharing their thoughts on a collective 48 years spent serving the city as members of the council. They'll officially be replaced on New Year's Eve night when Jane Bumbalough, Jeff Cappa, Bill Engle and Larry Parker are sworn in with the rest of Richmond's elected officials and city department heads in a public ceremony at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at the municipal building. But the quartet had one more meeting to participate in before time runs out on their terms.

    EVANSVILLE: 1 KILLED IN PLANE CRASH - The Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office says a small plane crash on the grounds of Camp Reveal off East Boonville-New Harmony Road has killed the pilot (WFIE-TV). The Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office has identified the pilot as 56-year-old Philip Burke of Newburgh. The sheriff’s office tells us this happened around 3:15 p.m. and says the plane was only carrying one person. They say the plane tried to make an emergency landing east of the main entrance to Camp Reveal.

    KOKOMO: CITY GIVES $250K TO IUK - The city of Kokomo is contributing $250,000 to Indiana University Kokomo for its incoming Student Activities and Events Center, the college announced Friday (Kokomo Tribune). The project, which broke ground in December 2018 and is expected to be completed in fall 2020, will cost roughly $8.4 million, according to IUK’s website. The school’s goal is to raise $3 million for the center, which is the first new building on its campus since 2002. With the city’s quarter-million-dollar contribution, IUK is now at nearly 50 percent of the fundraising goal, according to school officials. “The council members and I believe this is an important addition to the campus, and we want to make sure it’s completed,” said Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight in a media release announcing the contribution.

    MADISON COUNTY: COMMISSIONERS PASS GIFT BAN - The start of the New Year will bring changes to the operation of Madison County government following action by the county commissioners (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald-Bulletin). Commissioners Kelly Gaskill and Mike Phipps approved three motions Thursday that will have an impact on all elected officials, department heads and employees. Because of a death in his family, Commissioner John Richwine was not in attendance. Gaskill said with the county preparing to advertise for proposals for a study on the potential of needing to construct a new jail she wanted to avoid any problems in the future. Phipps requested that the County Attorney Jonathan Hughes draft an ethics ordinance that would prohibit any elected official or county employee from receiving a gift in any amount. The prohibition of accepting a gift takes place immediately while Hughes is drafting the ordinance.

    LAKE COUNTY: FEDERAL JAIL OVERSIGHT ENDS -  The federal government officially has ended its oversight of the operations and facilities at the Lake County Jail (Dolan, NWI Times). U.S. District Court Chief Judge Theresa Springmann signed an order Wednesday terminating federal supervision more than 10 years after the government determined Lake County was violating the civil rights of jail inmates by denying them adequate medical and mental health care. Documents filed Tuesday in Hammond federal court indicate the jail, which is run by Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr., largely has met the 92 different compliance targets set by a 2010 settlement agreement and has maintained compliance for at least one year.

    VIGO COUNTY: CONVENTION CENTER MANAGEMENT SOUGHT - The Vigo County Capital Improvement Board on Wednesday approved the first step toward selecting a manager to oversee a new Terre Haute Convention Center (Greninger, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). The board in a 5-0 vote, with board members Boo Lloyd and Steve Witt absent, approved a request for proposal for management, operation, maintenance and marketing services for the new downtown convention center. That request will be issued for interested parties Friday, said Steve Bauer, vice president of construction services for The Nations Group, which serves as project manager. A pre-proposal meeting is slated for Jan. 8 with the Nations Group to answer questions for those submitting. Proposals are due Jan 24. A CIB selection committee is to make its selection on Feb. 19, with contract negotiations following. The final contract for a new manager is to be enacted on Feb. 21, according to a schedule submitted for the proposals.

    MONROE COUNTY: 96 SCHOOL BUS ARM INFRACTIONS - The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office has cited nearly 100 people this year for breaking the law and ignoring stopped school buses (CBS4). The new law went into effect after three children died while trying to board their school bus. The horrific tragedy in Fulton County hit home for Deputy Andrew Blake. “It’s a very sad thing and I don’t ever want to be on scene like that,” said Blake. So, this year, he’s made school bus safety a top priority. In 2019, Deputy Blake and his team reported 96 school bus stop arm citations. Every citation could mean a fine of more than $200.

  • CITIES: COMMITTEE TO STUDY SEYMOUR POLICE, COUNTY HEALTH DIFFERENCES - A new study committee plans to address a disagreement between the county health department and a local law enforcement agency (Morey, Seymour Tribune). During a recent Jackson County commissioners meeting, Lt. John Watson with Seymour Police Department and Dr. Christopher Bunce, public health officer for the Jackson County Health Department, discussed a service that has affected both agencies. The subject involves the distribution of safety supply bags by the health department’s harm reduction program, called the CARES Clinic. The health department distributes the bags to help prevent the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C. Watson, who also spoke on the issue at a recent county council meeting, said he is concerned about the distribution of the bags.

    CITIES: GARY BORROWS $26M AGAINST FUTURE TAX COLLECTIONS - Despite the city closing on a $40 million bond sale in November that provides much-needed money for operating expenses and pays down debt, the Gary Common Council on Tuesday endorsed borrowing more money to keep the government afloat (Cross, NWI Times). Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, who leaves office Dec. 31, said the $26 million loan is different than in past years because incoming mayor Jerome Prince's administration should be able to pay back the loans in the same year, “as long as there is adherence to a financial plan that watches spending as the year continues."

    CITIES: COA TOSSES JURY VERDICT IN KOKOMO LAND-TAKING CASE - A Howard Superior jury’s damages award of $305,600 plus legal fees was voided Wednesday by the Indiana Court of Appeals, which instead ordered the trial court to enter judgment of just $100,000 to owners of property in Kokomo that the city condemned (Stafford, Indiana Lawyer). The appellate panel voided the jury’s verdict in a case involving property that formerly housed The Kokomo Glass Shop, which was forced to relocate because of the city’s taking of the property. 

    CITIES: TRIAL COURT RULING AGAINST PLYMOUTH REVERSED - A northern Indiana trial court erred in ordering the city of Plymouth to enforce a mediation settlement agreement to pay a contractor $130,000 because terms of the agreement had not been fulfilled, an appellate panel ruled Wednesday (Stafford, Indiana Lawyer). The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Plymouth, remanding the case to the Marshall Circuit Court, which previously had granted the contractor’s motion to enforce a mediation agreement.

    CITIES: MUNCIE MAYOR'S ATTORNEYS SEEK POSTPONEMENT - Attorneys for Dennis Tyler are asking a U.S. District Court judge to postpone the Muncie mayor’s trial on a federal count of theft of government funds (Walker, Muncie Star Press). Tyler – whose two-term, eight-year stint as Muncie mayor ends on Dec. 31 – was indicted by a federal court grand jury on Nov. 13, and arrested six days later at his northside home by FBI agents. His trial – on a charge carrying a maximum 10-year prison sentence and $250,000 fine – is set for Jan. 21.

    CITIES: PASTORS CONCERNED ABOUT DIVERSITY IN KOKOMO PD - A contingent of prominent African American pastors across Kokomo are voicing their concerns about what they feel is a lack of diversity on the Kokomo Police Department and the anticipated demotion of the longest-serving African American on the force (Dunlap & Myers, Kokomo Tribune). During a TenPoint Coalition meeting Wednesday at Mt. Pisgah Missionary Baptist Church, multiple ministers discussed maintaining solidarity when it comes to issues related to the KPD and Mayor-elect Tyler Moore’s incoming administration.

    CITIES: CROWN POINT POLICE SUIT DISMISSED - After spending four years in court, a suit alleging four Crown Point police officers used excessive force was permanently dismissed Thursday, records show (Freda, NWI Times). Craig Lozanovski brought the suit against the city and four police officers in 2015, stemming from a 2013 incident at Crown Theatre.

    CITIES: ST. JOHN TOWN MANAGER RESIGNS - The final Town Council meeting of the year was Town Manager Steve Kil’s last one, he announced on Thursday (Freda, NWI Times). Kil told dozens of people in the crowd he plans to pursue other opportunities, something he said he has disclosed to the council and Clerk-Treasurer Beth Hernandez months ago. Noticeably emotional, Kil thanked council members for their service and presented four council members, Rose Hejl, Mark Barenie, Libby Popovic and Mike Forbes, with plaques honoring their service to the city.

    CITIES: UNIFIED DEVELOPMENT ORDINANCE ADOPTED IN BLOOMINGTON - The Bloomington City Council unanimously voted to adopt the amended Unified Development Ordinance at Wednesday night’s special session (Legan, Indiana Public Media). The vote ends a two-year process that was punctuated by a marathon of meetings beginning in October. Since the City Council introduced the UDO on Oct. 16, it held 11 different meetings discussing and amending the city’s zoning guide.

    COUNTIES: VIGO CIB APPROVES MANAGEMENT RFP FOR NEW CONVENTION CENTER - The Vigo County Capital Improvement Board on Wednesday approved the first step toward selecting a manager to oversee a new Terre Haute Convention Center (Greninger, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). The board in a 5-0 vote, with board members Boo Lloyd and Steve Witt absent, approved a request for proposal for management, operation, maintenance and marketing services for the new downtown convention center. 

    COUNTIES: MUNCIE COUNCILMAN HAMPTON RULED INELIGIBLE - Muncie City Councilman John Hampton, who was appointed by the Democratic Party at the end of August to fill a vacant at-large council seat, was ruled ineligible to serve by a special judge during a hearing Wednesday morning (Ohlenkamp, Muncie Star Press).  Hampton had felony convictions for dealing marijuana in 1997 and possession of a controlled substance in 2001. Although the convictions were later reduced to misdemeanors, Indiana election law states that anyone convicted of a felony is not eligible to assume an elected office.

    COUNTIES: JUDGE AFFIRMS GRANT CAFO DENIAL - A local farmer’s legal fight to build a large hog farm in Grant County has come to a close for now (Oyler, Marion Chronicle-Tribune). Superior Court 3 Judge Warren Haas recently affirmed the Grant County Area Plan Commission’s (APC) decision to deny Nolan Holloway’s proposed confined feeding operation, also known as a CFO or CAFO. Holloway, of Marion, first applied for the feeding operation in July 2018, according to records.

    COUNTIES: MONROE, CITY DISCUSS CONVENTION CENTER PLANS - Members of the Monroe County Commissioners, County Council, Bloomington City Council and Bloomington mayor met at the Monroe County courthouse Thursday evening to discuss aspects of an interlocal agreement regarding the governing body for the proposed expansion of the Monroe County Convention Center (Legan, Indiana Public Media). Thursday’s discussion focused more on the technical aspects of the agreement, like the procedures for approving funds and where they go. Last week, Bloomington city officials released a list of things they would like to see in a capital improvement board, which will be the governing body for the convention center.

  • CITIES: INDY FOP CHIEF SAYS ELECTRONIC MONITORING SYSTEM OVERLOADED - The head of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police called out the Marion County Community Corrections electronic monitoring program Tuesday (McGill, Fox59). "Indy has hired a company to hunt down all the missing gps monitors that have been cut off by offenders," Rich Snyder tweeted. "Reports show the company recovers approx 100 monitors per month!! Cut Off Monitors are even found at the scene of new crimes." ” We’re swirling the drain here, and nobody wants to admit it,” Snyder said.

    CITIES: MAYOR COPELAND SUES EAST CHICAGO COUNCIL - Mayor Anthony Copeland struck back Tuesday against the city council in their fight over who controls the city firefighters’ work schedule (Dolan, NWI Times). John Bushemi, the city council attorney, announced Tuesday night to the council’s public safety committee that the mayor is suing to keep in place a new swing shift he imposed this month on firefighters. Bushemi said the mayor’s suit is aimed at blocking a city council ordinance that would return the firefighters to a schedule of 24 hours on duty and 48 hours off.

    CITIES: FORMER NEW CHICAGO CANDIDATE ACCUSED OF STEALING FROM POLICE - A woman who lost her bid to serve on the Town Council last month is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the New Chicago Police Department, where she worked as clerk (Cross, NWI Times). Jamie L. Murga was charged Thursday with theft and official misconduct, according to Lake County Superior Court charging documents. Murga allegedly confessed to stealing the money on Oct. 11 — less than a month before she was to appear on the Nov. 5 ballot running for Town Council Ward 4.

    CITIES: HAMMOND COUNCIL APPROVES DACA, DREAMERS RESOLUTION - Dozens of people filled the Hammond Common Council chamber Monday as the nine council members considered a resolution supporting the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, known as DACA, and The Dream Act (Franklin, Post-Tribune). The resolution, which urges the Trump administration and Congress to “protect DACA recipients and affirm support for all, regardless of citizen status and immigration status,” passed in a unanimous vote after a number of attendees spoke in favor of the action.

    CITIES: FOOD, BEVERAGE TAX APPROVED IN GREENWOOD - Come February, residents and visitors will fork over a little more dough at Greenwood eateries (Vaughn, Franklin Daily Journal). The Greenwood City Council on Monday approved a long-discussed food and beverage tax on a 7-2 vote. Mayor Mark Myers has been pushing for the 1% tax since he took office nearly eight years ago. It could add about $1.3 million to the city’s tax base initially, and an estimated $2.5 million a year after that, proponents say.

    COUNTIES: STEWART STEPPING DOWN AS FLOYD COMMISSIONER - Billy Stewart, who is in the third year of his first term as a Floyd County Commissioner, is resigning (Morris, News & Tribune). Stewart's last day as a commissioner is Saturday. Stewart, a Republican, is one of three commissioners and the current president of the body. He represents District 3, which consists of Franklin and Georgetown. Stewart said he is stepping down due to his job with Hofman USA expanding. 

    COUNTIES: RAISED VOICES DURING BROWN DEVELOPMENT DEBATE - Last week’s meeting between the Brown County Redevelopment Commission and Brown County Commissioners was called to review the county’s new economic development plan, but there wasn’t a lot of talking about that document (Clifford, Brown County Democrat). Much of the two-hour meeting was spent debating a proposal to do a survey of Brown County properties and grade them on their physical condition. The part that RDC members had a hard time agreeing on was the concept of a land bank. It would involve creating a corporation to purchase abandoned properties and convert them to a productive use — in this case, new housing units.

    COUNTIES: OWEN APPROVES EVENTS ORDINANCE WITHOUT PUBLIC COMMENT - The Owen County Commissioners introduced and adopted their revised festival ordinance at Monday night’s meeting in Spencer (Legan, Indiana Public Media). This came less than 12 hours after the Commissioners made the edited ordinance available to the public on Monday morning. Over 30 people attended Monday night's meeting in what many thought would be the first reading of a revised festival ordinance that has been the cause of immense controversy in the county since August.

    COUNTIES: FEDS END 10-YEAR OVERSIGHT OF LAKE JAIL - The federal government is poised to end its oversight of the Lake County Jail more than 10 years after it determined the county was violating the civil rights of jail inmates by denying them adequate medical and mental health care (Carden, NWI Times). Documents filed Tuesday in Hammond federal court indicate the jail largely has met the 92 different compliance targets set by a 2010 settlement agreement and has maintained compliance for at least one year. As a result, the federal government and the county jointly are asking U.S. District Court Judge Theresa Springmann to terminate the settlement agreement and end regular federal inspections of jail services and operations.

  • CITIES: NEW JUDGE TAKES OVER FORMER PORTAGE MAYOR TRIAL - If former Portage Mayor James Snyder has to face a new trial on a federal bribery count, it will be before a different federal judge (Dolan, NWI Times). U.S. District Court Judge Joseph S. Van Bokkelen recently announced he will no longer preside over the Snyder public corruption case, after three years on the job. Chief U.S. District Court Judge Theresa L. Springmann is taking over the matter.

    CITIES: FAMILY'S REQUEST TO JOIN SOUTH BEND POLICE TAPES CASE DENIED - Fearing more delays in a case that’s already dragged on for nearly eight years, a judge Monday denied the Eric Logan estate’s request to join the South Bend Common Council as plaintiffs in the police tapes case (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). “…(I)t appears very likely that an intervention by the Logan estate would necessarily involve some, and perhaps significant, delay,” St. Joseph Superior Court Judge Steven Hostetler wrote in his order. “Any material delay would prejudice the existing parties.” Hostetler ruled Logan’s survivors, who have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against Sgt. Ryan O’Neill and the city, can file a brief in reply to the officers’ pending motion to end the case in their favor without a trial. That motion is set for a Jan. 22 hearing.

    CITIES: TIPTON COUNCIL PRESIDENT NAMED ACTING MAYOR - Tipton City Council President Brett Curnutt is serving as the city’s acting mayor for the next two weeks following the passing of Mayor Don Havens, who died Friday after an extended battle with Crohn’s disease (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). Curnutt said Monday that Havens had appointed him as the city’s acting executive on Dec. 3 after Havens was hospitalized a few days prior and realized he would not be able to carry out the duties of the office.

    CITIES: GRIFFITH HOPES TO JOIN NEW TOWNSHIP BY END OF YEAR - Griffith's highest official remains hopeful the town will join a new township by the end of the year (Haber, NWI Times). "We're still hoping to be accepted by St. John Township or North Township" by the Dec. 31 deadline," said Town Council President Rick Ryfa, R-3rd. A year ago, Griffith's membership request was denied by both townships.

    CITIES: $75M SCHOOL REFERENDUM SET FOR SOUTH BEND - More than 1,000 voters signed a petition to get the South Bend Community School Corp.’s referendum put on the spring ballot (Kirkman, South Bend Tribune). During Monday’s school board meeting, Kareemah Fowler, the district’s chief financial officer, said officials had to gather at least 500 signatures in two weeks from homeowners or registered voters within the limits of the school corporation to get the referendum questions put on the May ballot.

    CITIES: EVANSVILLE APPROVES HIKE IN RECYCLING FEES - The City Council voted 8-1 to increase the monthly recycling fee paid by city residents over the next three years (Martin, Evansville Courier & Press). The current cost is $10.65, and it's been unchanged for the first seven years of Evansville's 10-year contract with Tri-State Resource Recovery and Republic Services. Passage of the increase means the cost will go to $12.80 in 2020, to $13.05 in 2021 and to $13.30 in 2022. The three-year increase is nearly 25 percent in total.

    COUNTIES: U.S. SUPREME COURT REFUSES TO HEAR BUNCICH APPEAL - The U.S. Supreme Court has denied a hearing to Lake County Sheriff John Buncich, who had hoped to reverse his 2017 conviction on public corruption charges (Dolan, NWI Times). This latest setback for Lake County’s former top cop may clear the way for a final decision on whether he must remain in prison for bribery and fraud.

    COUNTIES: FORMER VIGO SUPERINTENDENT TO APPEAL TO STATE SUPREME COURT - Former Vigo County schools Superintendent Danny Tanoos intends to ask the Indiana Supreme Court to review the bribery charges pending against him in Marion County (Trigg, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). The criminal case filed last September against Tanoos in Marion County had been set for a hearing on Wednesday, but it has now been continued to March 18, 2020 in Indianapolis. Attorneys for Tanoos on Friday afternoon filed a request for a continuance, citing their intent to file a petition to ask the Indiana Supreme Court to accept jurisdiction.

    COUNTIES: DELAWARE COUNCIL SETS DECORUM RULES - The Delaware County Commissioners passed a series of decorum rules on the heels of Muncie City Council meetings that have been filled with chaos in recent months (Ohlenkamp, Muncie Star Press). The commissioners have already used these rules, albeit informally at several controversial CAFO meetings in late 2018 and early 2019. The goal for Monday was to formally put the rules in the books so they can be enforced if needed. 

    COUNTIES: JOHNSON COMMISSIONERS APPROVE NEW JAIL CONTRACT - An expansion of the Johnson County jail is one step closer to reality after the county agreed to have a construction company oversee construction of the more than $23 million project (Kritsch, Franklin Daily Journal). The Johnson County Board of Commissioners on Monday unanimously approved a contract with C.H. Garmong and Son, Inc. at a cost of about $23.1 million. 

  • CITIES: LONGTIME SEYMOUR MAYOR PASSES - If a person had to use just one word to describe former Seymour Mayor John Steele Burkhart, it would have to be service (Spicer, Seymour Tribune). Burkhart, who died early Friday morning at the age of 80, served as mayor from 1990 to 2003. But those 13 years at the helm of the city are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the things the Seymour native did for his community.

    CITIES: GARY RESIDENTS WORRY DEVELOPER REG WILL GET WATERED DOWN - A new proposal, crafted with the help of a citizen-led committee, requires developers to invest 15% of any tax abatement or in-kind assistance back into the neighborhood for improvements; to participate in an apprenticeship training program; to provide health insurance to employees; to pay a living wage of $15.50; and to offer a certain percentage of construction jobs to local residents (Cross, NWI Times). However, a Gary resident who served on the committee said she is worried the proposal is now being "short-circuited" by the administration, with a last-minute added clause.

    COUNTIES: NEW COURT POSITIONS IN ELKHART TO RECOVER MILLIONS IN FEES - The Elkhart County Council on Saturday approved new positions meant to help manage the courts and recover millions in outstanding probation user fees (Fouts, Elkhart Truth). The council voted to allow Circuit Court Judge Michael Christofeno to seek out a court administrator, who would oversee his actions and those of the other judges in the county. The coordinator’s duties would include managing budgets, keeping records, assigning cases and handling employee matters.

    COUNTIES: BARTHOLOMEW FINDS BARGAIN IN NEW 911 SYSTEM - County taxpayers won’t have to pay anything more than what has already been allocated, said Todd Noblitt, director of the county’s 911 Emergency Operations Center (Webber, Columbus Republic). A consulting investment more than paid for itself when Barry Ritter of Hagerstown used his contacts to acquire a new 911 emergency phone system for $1.2 million — 20% less than what the old system cost nearly a decade ago, Noblitt said.

    COUNTIES: BARTHOLOMEW SCHOOLS WEIGHS TAX TO PAY TEACHERS - Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. will follow the lead of other school corporations around the state and ask county taxpayers to approve a property tax increase to help pay for teacher and support staff raises, along with other needs (Thomas, Columbus Republic). If BCSC school board members approve seeking a referendum, the public vote on the property tax increase could be on May’s primary ballot. Superintendent Jim Roberts said he will propose an operating referendum to BCSC school board members at Monday night’s school board meeting. The board meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday at Columbus East High School, 230 S. Marr Road.

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  • Parnas implicates Trump, Pence in Ukraine scandal
    “The announcement was the key at that time because of the inauguration and I told him Pence would not show up, nobody would show up to his inauguration. It was particularly Vice President Mike Pence.” - Lev Parnas, the indicted friend of President Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, in an interview on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, where he implicated Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General William Barr in the quid pro quo of the Ukraine scandal that prompted Trump's impeachment. Parnas said that Pence's attendance at Ukraine President Zelensky's inauguration was cancelled the day after Parnas called on Zelensky to announce an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden, When asked if Pence was aware of the quid pro quo, Parnas said, “I’m going to use a famous quote from [Ambassador Gordon] Sondland. Everybody was in the loop.” 
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  • Pence, Holcomb, Buttigieg head 2020 HPI Power 50
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY in Indianapolis
    and MARK SCHOEFF JR., 
    in Washington

    As we unveil the 2020 version of the Howey Politics Indiana Power 50 List, Hoosiers appear to be relatively satisfied with their state government, unsure about the federals and specifically President Trump, and are most concerned about health care and the economy.

    These are the latest survey numbers from the We Ask America Poll conducted in early December for the Indiana Manufacturers Association. They accentuate the formulation of our annual Power 50 list headed by Vice President Mike Pence, Gov. Eric Holcomb, former South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, and the state’s two Republican senators who will likely sit in judgment (and acquittal) of President Trump in an impeachment trial later this month. 

    As Pence appears to be heading off thinly veiled attempts by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to get him off the 2020 ticket, Hoosiers by 47.4% approve to 47.7% disapprove of President Trump’s job performance. This is consistent with 2019 polling by Ball State University and Morning Consult. On the national right/wrong track, just 37% of registered voters in Indiana feel that the country is headed in the right direction, while a majority, 52%, say that things have gotten off on the wrong track, including 51% of independents and 26% of Republicans. Among female voters, the right/wrong track split is 29%/58%.

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