WRITER: Kevin Leininger

KEVIN LEININGER: A story of how a cigar shop helped light the flame of something bigger in downtown Fort Wayne

When Rudy Mahara opened his self-named cigar bar in a restored Victorian house at 409 W. Brackenridge St. five years ago, the area just west of Parkview Field was mostly dotted with dilapidated old homes that gave little reason for optimism that additional investment would come anytime soon. Then the $22 million Cityscape Flats housing project transformed 2.7 acres across the street, real estate prices and ...

Rescue Mission expansion grows in scope and cost; now includes Charis House

When the Rescue Mission held a ceremonial groundbreaking last September for its new facility at East Washington Boulevard and Lafayette Street, the project was expected to cost about $20 million. But with construction scheduled to begin early next year, the budget has now jumped to about $23 million thanks to a planned simultaneous expansion of the mission's shelter for women. Charis House opened at 431 ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Abortion, taxes already looming as key issues in 2019 GOP campaign for mayor

City Councilman John Crawford had just announced his intention to run for mayor next year during a press conference at Republican headquarters in May when a woman he didn't know raised her hand. What, she wondered, is your position on abortion? Crawford avoided a direct answer, insisting that as mayor he would have little influence over what is essentially a state and federal issue. The question that seemed ...

KEVIN LEININGER: If real men are now obsolete, don't be surprised by rise of 'toxic masculinity'

President Donald Trump wasted no time in linking illegal immigration to the recent murder of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, and if his exploitation of the tragedy was unseemly it was at least factual: Mexican national Cristhian Bahena Rivera would have been in no position to kill the 20-year-old as she jogged had he not been allowed to live and work in this country illegally. Where race and ...

UPDATED: Development agreement reached on massive Electric Works project

Calling it a "great day for Fort Wayne," Mayor Tom Henry and backers of the Electric Works project Thursday announced completion of a development agreement after two months of negotiations. "There's been a lot going on behind the scenes," Henry told a crowd gathered for the press conference in the gymnasium of the former General Electric campus, a reference to suggestions the talks had been dragging or that ...

Skyline Tower opens in downtown Fort Wayne; more than half of its 123 apartments rented

Nearly two years after construction began, the $43 million Skyline Tower residential project in downtown Fort Wayne was officially opened Thursday. The 12-story tower at 855 Webster St. is next to the Ash Brokerage building and contains a Ruths Chris Steakhouse, a First Merchants Bank and 123 apartments — more than half of which are rented, according to Dave Arnold of Great Lakes Capital, the project's ...

Fort Wayne Parks Foundation fund drive aims to benefit riverfront, increase responsiveness

The Fort Wayne Parks Foundation was created in 1974 to raise and distribute funds on behalf of the city's recreational facilities, but even with $10 million in the bank its ability to respond quickly to specific needs is limited because the use of 90 percent of its endowment has been limited by donors. A new two-pronged fundraising campaign aims to change that. "If something happens, there's not a lot we can ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Church should put God's rules first as struggles to heal itself -- and its victims

In Sunday's Gospel reading from Mark, Christ condemned the hypocrisy of the Pharisees by telling them: "You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!" How prophetic: By the time I got home from church it was being reported that that the former Vatican ambassador to Washington, D.C., had called on Pope Francis to resign because of his alleged cover up of sexual ...

'Most expensive primary' is official as Tim Smith challenges Councilman John Crawford in GOP race for Fort Wayne mayor

Officially kicking off what he expects to be the most expensive primary contest in city history, insurance executive Tim Smith Tuesday confirmed he will run for mayor next to make Fort Wayne the "safest, smartest, strongest city in the Midwest." City Councilman John Crawford, R-at large, announced in April he will also compete in the May 2019 Republican primary that will select the candidate to face three-term ...

Rousseau Centre fountains flowing again thanks to $2 million facelift

After an absence of about six years, water is once again flowing from the pair of fountains on the Rousseau Centre plaza in downtown Fort Wayne. The fountains at the count-owned former City-County Building have been turned off since 2012 after several attempts to repair leaks were unsuccessful. Last year, the County Commissioners approved plans that called for demolishing the old concrete stands, replacing the ...

KEVIN LEININGER: 'Failure' of one industrial dream could help New Haven land another one

It's been said that when life closes one door, it often opens another. That seems to be the case with New Haven's longstanding and often-frustrating effort to boost its economy by converting the former Casad Depot into an industrial park. For years Mayor Terry McDonald worked to buy the dormant 258-acre site just of town but, as I first reported in May, that plan was dashed when the U.S, General Services ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Trump only mocks news he doesn't like; the Internet can make it disappear

If the experts are right, and they always are — just ask them! — more and more Americans are relying on "social media" as their primary news source. It's an alarming trend, and not just because newspapers and even television are struggling to keep up with fast-changing tastes, technologies and the revenues that go with them. As the traditional media and President Trump spar over what does and does not ...

Looming $45 million ask from Electric Works complicates rural area's bid for $4.25 million

Faced with a potential request for about $45 million from the developers of Electric Works, members of the Fort Wayne-Allen County Capital Improvement Board Thursday reacted cautiously to a rural-development group's bid for a $4.25 million grant representatives said would help secure about $51 million in capital improvements in eastern Allen County. Although CIB Board member Tim Pape questioned whether ...

Kroger to replace plastic with reusable bags

The nation's largest grocery chain says it will stop using plastic bags at its nearly 2,800 stores within seven years. Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., which uses about 6 billion bags each year, serves almost 9 million people daily through two dozen different grocery chains in 35 states and the District of Columbia. Kroger said it is seeking customer feedback and will begin phasing out plastic bag use Thursday at ...

Bob Nelson begins run for New Haven mayor; promises 'inclusive' government

Promising to put "the citizens and leaders of New Haven at the core of everything he does," Bob Nelson officially kicked off his campaign to be the city's next mayor Thursday during an address at the Community Center. Steve McMichael, owner of a real estate firm and member of the New Haven City Council, has also said he plans to compete in next May's GOP primary. Republican Terry McDonald, mayor since 1999, is ...

Terry McDonald endorses Steve McMichael for New Haven mayor

As one long-expected candidate for New Haven mayor prepared to make it official Thursday evening, the man who has the job now announced his support for the opponent. Incumbent Republican Terry McDonald, who will not seek re-election this year, said in a statement he is endorsing businessman and City Council member Steve McMichael in next May's Republican primary because McMichael "will be ready day one of the ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Media are right to worry about 'fake news' charges, but wrong to blame it all on Trump

"If you watch (a certain network), you are living on a different planet . . . It's a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country," the president said in a critique a top White House official defended by promising to "treat them the way we would treat an opponent. We don't need to pretend that this is the way legitimate news organizations behave." The president ...

Meetings will explore plans for $50 million in improvements in East Allen County

The New Allen Alliance, a coalition of seven communities working to improve quality of life in rural East Allen County, will host a series of meetings to explain the priorities established in "Rural Revival Initiative" plan. In cooperation with the Allen County Board of Commissioners the Alliance submitted a concept proposal of the plan to the Indiana Regional Stellar Communities Program in April and was ...

UPDATED: Fort Wayne won't try to end troubled trash contract, but one city councilman says improved communications would help while another takes matters into his own hands -- and campaign van

Mayor Tom Henry says the city won't try to terminate the contract with its problem-plagued trash and recycling contractor even if City Council wants it to -- a vote expected to come Tuesday night. He also said several steps are being taken to improve service. At an afternoon press conference, Henry said that despite numerous complaints and fines Texas-based Red River Waste Solutions the city "doesn't believe ...

KEVIN LEININGER: St. Mary's Catholic will bless two newly discovered relics from former church 25 years after devastating fire

Twenty-five years to the day after lightning from heaven sparked one of the most spectacular fires in Fort Wayne history, members of St. Mary Mother of God Catholic Church will commemorate the event in prayer and by resurrecting iconic remnants of their destroyed sanctuary they thought had been lost forever. "After the fire, we didn't know these existed," said the Rev. Phillip Widmann, who has served the ...