General News

courtesy State of Indiana

Indiana is gearing up for a celebration of its 200-year history -- and former Congressman Lee Hamilton says the upcoming bicentennial party can’t just be about the state’s past, but also about its future. 

Hamilton – who co-chairs the Indiana Bicentennial Commission – says he wants the state’s Bicentennial Celebration to be about trying to make Indiana’s future a better one. 

Jim Grey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobilene/

Republican legislative leaders say a formal study on creating civil rights protections for the LGBT community won’t happen this year -- but they say they’ll be thinking about the issue regardless.

Republican leaders admitted earlier this year that controversy surrounding the religious freedom bill fast-forwarded the debate around adding LGBT protections to the state’s civil rights statute. 

Indiana Toll Road Under New Management

May 28, 2015
Ken Lund / WWW.FLICKR.COM/PHOTOS/KENLUND/

  The Indiana Toll Road is officially under new management Thursday as an Australian firm finalized its purchase of the previous operator, which went bankrupt last year. 

The Indiana Toll Road Concession Company, which took over operations of the toll road under a lease agreement in 2006, filed for bankruptcy in September of last year. IFM Investors, selected by the state from among four finalists, now assumes management of the 156 mile stretch of highway across northern Indiana. 

Donnelly Urges Senate To Reauthorize Suveillance Programs

May 28, 2015
http://www.donnelly.senate.gov/

Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly says the Senate can‘t afford to miss a Sunday deadline to reauthorize government surveillance programs.

Donnelly and Florida‘s Bill Nelson were the only Democrats to support a two-month extension last weekend -- most Democrats allied with Republican privacy advocates led by Kentucky Senator and presidential hopeful Rand Paul to defeat the bill.

Donnelly says he‘d prefer to simply extend the Patriot Act -- he notes the last reauthorization five years ago sailed through on a voice vote.

Bill Would Cut Price Of Hard Liquor

May 28, 2015
Bjorn / https://www.flickr.com/photos/62005704@N00/

The price of bourbon and other hard liquor could go down sharply under a bill introduced by an Indiana congressman.

Distilled spirits are subject to a $13.50 a gallon tax.

Ninth District Republican Todd Young says his district is home to several small distillers, and he thinks they‘re the kind of small business government should encourage.

Young argues the whole notion of so-called "sin taxes" on alcohol is out of date, and says the tax on bourbon and other spirits is out of proportion -- he says it can be responsible for as much as half the retail price.

Job Cuts Part Of Tippecanoe Court Services Reorganization

May 28, 2015
Pablo Malavenda

After several months of trying to dig itself out of a financial hole, Tippecanoe County’s Court Services division is undergoing a massive reorganization.

Four of the agency’s seven full-time positions will be eliminated at the end of June as part of a broader change in the way the department serves low-level offenders.

The move comes after Court Services sought help from the County Council to address a more than $100,000 deficit.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

As college students leave their dorm rooms for the summer, they have to make a decision: take their things home or get rid of them? What’s left behind used to be pitched in a dumpster, but more campuses are taking steps to repurpose as much as possible. Officials at Depauw University in Greencastle estimate they may be saving as much as two-thirds of what used to be thrown away and getting it into the hands of needy families.

Flazingo Photos / https://www.flickr.com/photos/124247024@N07/

Indiana is just shy of its peak employment level, set in March of 2000. That‘s when the Bureau of Labor Statistics says the Hoosier State had 2,612,600 private sector jobs.  

Indiana Department of Workforce Development Spokesman Joe Frank says the state is now only 7,800 jobs short of that figure. Frank says Indiana's unemployment rate for April dropped by nearly half of a percentage point to 5.4-percent, the lowest it's been since May of 2008.

Gretchen Frazee / indianapublicmedia.org/news

Last month, Indiana’s unemployment rate experienced its biggest one-month decrease in more than two decades, falling to its lowest level in seven years. 

Indiana’s private sector added more than ten thousand jobs in April, boosted by huge gains in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector. 

The unemployment rate fell to 5.4%, the lowest rate since May of 2008.  And the decrease of four-tenths of a percent is the largest since July of 1993. 

Lafayette Finishing Up Bicycle And Pedestrian Master Plan

May 26, 2015
Christopher Sessums / https://www.flickr.com/photos/csessums/

The City of Lafayette is putting the finishing touches on its Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.

City planner Margy Deverall says the document took more than a year to complete.

She says officials are still seeking input from various stakeholders before finalizing the plan and prioritizing projects.

“We’re getting a lot of input from people who ride and who walk looking at routes that they are currently using that they would like to see improved," says Deverall. "Or routes that they would like to use that aren’t necessarily safe.”

An Indianapolis 500 Quilt Tradition Continues

May 26, 2015
Jill Sheridan / indianapublicmedia.org/news

Besides his likeness on the Borg Warner trophy and $2.4 million prize, Juan Pablo Montoya, winner of Sunday's Indianapolis 500, will be going home with a custom made quilt.  

The "Quilt Lady", Jeanetta Holder, has been making quilts for Indy 500 winners since 1976, when she first presented one to Johnny Rutherford.  She’s a long time race fan and says she’s quilted a couple of extras for a few of her favorite drivers.

"I’ve also gone back and done one for Andretti, Jim Rathmann and one for Parnelli Jones, so this really makes 43 quilts," said Holder.

K. Latham / https://www.flickr.com/photos/programwitch/

Legislation to eliminate Indiana’s straight ticket voting system – or even to study its elimination – failed to clear the General Assembly this session. But some lawmakers – including legislative leaders – say a study committee on the issue is still possible.

Straight ticket voting allows people to vote for every candidate from one party with one check of a box on their ballot. A bill eliminating the practice cleared the House.

Gretchen Frazee / http://indianapublicmedia.org/news/

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard will be the Grand Marshal at this year’s Indianapolis Pride Parade. The Republican two-term incumbent says his jaw dropped when he was asked, but the group’s president says Ballard’s positions during the kerfuffle over the state’s religious objections law made him a natural choice.

Indy Pride President Chris Moore says he was impressed Ballard supported the LGBT community, despite his party affiliation. But Ballard says being a Republican is irrelevant to his stance on LGBT equality.

Boil Order For West Lafayette Expanded

May 22, 2015
Indiana American Water

*Updated at 11:35am*

Indiana American Water has expanded a precautionary boil water advisory for a majority of its West Lafayette customers.

The order includes customers north of Stadium Avenue and lasts until 5 a.m. Saturday.

Company officials say an electrical problem caused its Davis Ferry water treatment plant and backup power generation equipment to shut down overnight, resulting in low water pressure to customers in that area.

Dennis S Hurd / https://www.flickr.com/photos/dennissylvesterhurd/

Most people associate gangs with big cities.

But a forum for youth services workers this week brought attention to the problem in Tippecanoe County.

Local authorities say while there are gangs in the area they’re nowhere near the level of, say, Waco, Texas where a fight between rival bikers resulted in nine deaths this week.

But some fear gang influence could rise to that level if the community doesn’t band together to limit it.

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