WRITER: Kevin Leininger

KEVIN LEININGER: From Fort Wayne to Africa, award-winning educator has reason to believe in miracles

When Francis Mustapha reflects on the past six years of his extraordinary life, he is often drawn to the evangelist Matthew's story of how Jesus fed more than 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two fish — with plenty left over. The retired Fort Wayne Community Schools biology teacher is not God incarnate, but what he and wife Bobbie have accomplished in Sierra Leone, West Africa is a similar ...

Public hearing attracts few opponents of proposed bridge-tax increase

Little opposition surfaced Tuesday during a state-led public hearing that could help determine the fate of a proposed bridge-tax increase for Allen County property owners. Just three people spoke against the plan to increase the bridge tax by $.0095 per $100 in a property’s assessed value, which county officials say is needed to pay for $54.2 million in bridge needs over the next eight years. Despite the ...

Demand for downtown parking wins OK for garage expansion despite extra $3.5M

About 225 badly needed downtown parking spaces could be under construction by next month — but at a much higher cost than originally anticipated. The Fort Wayne-Allen County Capital Improvement Board, which in 2018 agreed to provide up to $7 million in food and beverages taxes to add two floors to the Civic Center Parking Garage adjacent to the Indiana Michigan Power Center, on Tuesday agreed to provide an ...

KEVIN LEININGER: If County Council is serious about promoting Fort Wayne, it will increase the hotel tax

The way Visit Fort Wayne CEO Dan O'Connell sees it, three members of Allen County Council support a plan to promote tourism through a 1 percent increase in the hotel tax and three are firmly opposed — leaving Joel Benz as the swing vote. "We'll spend the next 30 days trying to document that this is a good method (to bring more visitors to town)," said O'Connell, whose organization would receive an ...

City Council to revisit sexually oriented business bills next week

Members of Fort Wayne City Council will have sex on their minds next week. Confirming previous News-Sentinel reports, two ordinances are scheduled for introduction that would regulate and license sexually oriented businesses and prohibit "live sex act businesses" such as swingers clubs. The ordinances are similar to laws passed recently by the Allen County Commissioners. Contending that businesses featuring ...

State to consider legality of Allen County bridge-tax hike at public hearing Tuesday

The Indiana Department of Local Government Finance will conduct a public hearing next week on whether the Allen County Commissioners acted legally when they voted to increase the bridge tax in April. County officials say increasing the bridge tax by $.0095 per $100 in a property’s assessed value is needed to pay for $54.2 million in bridge needs over the next eight years. But the Neighborhoods United Group ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Latest 'North River' clean up is cause for caution, but not yet alarm

To the doggedly pessimistic, Tuesday's news that another $234,400 will apparently be needed to remove and monitor contamination on the so-called "North River" site confirmed their belief that City Council was duped into paying $4.63 million for a 30-acre former industrial site and assuming liability for any clean up despite being denied all available information about possible environmental problems. That ...

County Council appears cool to hotel-tax increase but postpones a decision until next month

On the same day Fort Wayne's newest hotel opened, members of Allen County Council appeared likely to defeat a proposed increase in the innkeeper's tax before postponing the vote until next month. The Indiana Legislature this year gave the seven-member council the option of increasing the tax on hotel rooms from 7 to 8 percent, which would provide Visit Fort Wayne an additional $750,000 with which to promote ...

Ground broken on Lutheran Downtown Hospital; opening in 2022

"Welcome to the future of health care in downtown Fort Wayne. Lives will be saved here." With that, Lutheran Health Network CEO Mark Medley welcomes the large crowd of employees. dignitaries and others who gathered at West Main and Van Buren streets Wednesday afternoon to witness the groundbreaking for the new $120 million Lutheran Downtown Hospital, which will be built to the west of the current St. Joseph ...

KEVIN LEININGER: All will soon be 'well' with city water supply; Wrigley Field comes to Fort Wayne?

Fort Wayne's drinking water has won awards for quality and taste. But every now and then — usually when spring thaws and rain wash leaves and other organic material into the St. Joseph River — what comes out of the tap can be a little unappetizing. Now, at a cost of $1.62 million, City Utilities is going back to the future to make skunky water a thing of the past. By late next year or early 2021, two ...

More clean-up needed at 'North River' site; $283,400 federal grant approved

The city paid $4.63 million for the 29-acre "North River" former industrial site in 2017. Now a federal grant of up to $283,400 will pay for additional environmental clean up and monitoring. The city’s Redevelopment Department will soon begin remediatio work at the former OmniSource scrap metals recycling site thanks to a grant from the Indiana Brownfields Program, funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Marker for Anthony Wayne's fort gleams but is still obscure; more on city's adult-business plans

My July 2 column about the city's need for more and better historical markers inspired a call from a woman whose story is as bittersweet as it is timely, in light of the first-ever "Anthony Wayne Day" planned for this Tuesday. "I love history, and we mustn't lose it," said Cathy Simonds, a member of the Mary Penrose Chapter of the Daughter of the American Revolution, who noticed the sorry state of various ...

KEVIN LEININGER: With more hotels on the way, boosting the room tax would help make sure they are used

If you could entice hundreds of thousands of people and millions of dollars to Fort Wayne every year — at the visitors' expense, no less — what would you say? Supporters of a proposed 1 percent increase in Allen County's hotel tax are mounting a campaign to persuade County Council members to say "yes" when they consider the proposal next week. There are good arguments to be made either way, but they ...

KEVIN LEININGER: County's effort to regulate sexually oriented businesses may see city try again

Two years ago, some City Council members tried to impose a midnight-to-7 a.m. curfew on sexually oriented businesses to combat the crime they insisted was linked to the "toxic mix" of late-night booze and sex. A deeply divided council ultimately tabled the proposal but by an 8-1 vote a month later approved a bill targeting "chronic problem" properties of all sorts, whether sex-related or not. Now, in the wake ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Can historic buildings and modern art coexist? As it turns out, they can

There are 83 local historic districts in Fort Wayne, areas in which the desire to preserve the past requires property owners to receive city permission before making exterior alterations or repairs — including the choice of paint color. There is also a growing public-art movement that has inspired the conversion of numerous old brick walls into brightly colored and often modernistic murals. What happens ...

KEVIN LEININGER: As Americans celebrate their freedoms, religious liberty is under attack

Forty-four years after his 1776 Declaration of Independence America celebrates every Fourth of July, Thomas Jefferson took a razor and glue to the New Testament and was left with something he called "The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth — a condensed "Jefferson Bible" that excluded Christ's miracles, resurrection and even his divinity. There is a connection between the two, as the recent debate over ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Fort Wayne has a lot of good stories to tell, and should do a better job of it

If not for the glitzy historic marker dedicated last month, how many visitors to Packard Park would know that the playground, ball diamond and green space just off Fairfield Avenue was the site of the Packard Piano & Organ Co. factory from 1871 to 1930? Not many, I suspect — which is precisely why the overdue telling of this chapter of Fort Wayne history should not mark the end of the story. "Fort ...

City employees make 30 trash collections on first day of program

The first day of a new plan to improve trash and recycling service saw four city Street Department employees using two trucks make about 30 collections between 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday, according to city spokesman John Perlich. Mayor Tom Henry announced last week that, starting July 1,Street Department employees would work during their off-hours to collect materials that have gone uncollected by Red River ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Fort Wayne's history is linked to water, and it's worth preserving

With a five-mile, $200 million tunnel being bored 250 feet below ground to prevent raw sewage from flowing into the rivers, the cost of maintaining and upgrading Fort Wayne's aging subterranean utilities is obvious, if not always visible. But some of the city's above-ground sewer and water facilities also need attention of a less technical, more-aesthetic nature. They're getting it, and deservedly so because ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Scrutiny of government is always a good thing, even if it looks political

It appears a long-simmering dispute between some City Council members and the board responsible for some of Fort Wayne's most expensive and prominent redevelopment projects is about to heat up. Council member Jason Arp, who has been questioning the accountability of the Redevelopment Commission since at least February 2017, is co-author of a resolution to be introduced Tuesday accusing the commission of ...