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WRITER: Kevin Leininger

KEVIN LEININGER: Surack backs Electric Works; swingers club 'indecent,' suit against FWCS ends

This week's announcement that Sweetwater Urban Farms plans to open a greenhouse in the food hall at Electric Works may have led some to believe that Sweetwater Sound Chuck Surack had agreed to lend his Midas touch to the project. Surack's 2017 infusion of $1.5 million helped turn the abandoned Clyde Theatre into a hip entertainment venue, after all. Why shouldn't he want to do the same for the former General ...

UPDATED: Assistant fire chief resigns post in wake of union complaint; union not satisfied

An assistant Fort Wayne fire chief accused of falsifying training records has resigned from the position and will return to the rank of captain, according to Chief Eric Lahey. According to an official complaint lodged last week by International Association of Firefighters Local 124, Assistant Chief/Operations Todd Prindle “knowingly submitted a false report via email (public record) to Battalion Chief Todd ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Fire union's safety complaint is just latest sign of discord in crucial city department

The quality of work depends to a large degree on the skill and integrity with which it is done. That is especially true when lives and property are at stake, which is why the latest flareup between Fort Wayne firefighters and the department's command structure is troubling no matter who's right. According to an official complaint lodged last week by International Association of Firefighters Local 124, ...

New Allen County program hopes to entice private developers to fund public projects

Even privately funded factories, shops, hospitals and homes often require some sort of public expenditure on streets, lights, utilities and other forms of infrastructure. A new proposal is intended to bring more investment and jobs to Allen County by rewarding developers and businesses to bear the cost instead. County Council on Thursday is expected to consider a program already approved by the county ...

New $70 million project planned along river near Promenade Park

When the city pulled the plug on Minnesota-based Continental Development's $62 million HIVE project in February, officials said they would seek another developer for the site at Harrison and Superior streets. That developer has been found, with Mayor Tom Henry announcing Wednesday that Barrett & Stokely of Indianapolis will build a $70 million mixed-use project along the St. Marys River just east of ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Do zoning issues with swingers' club, 'commercial' house encourage bad behavior?

The city's only swingers' club apparently continues to operate despite notification from the Plan Commission's attorney that it violates the city's zoning laws. And, just last week, City Council rezoned a 10,000 square-foot building on West Jefferson Boulevard for commercial use despite the owner's written promise it would be used for single-family residential purposes only. Do such examples encourage ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Gladieux's target wants at least $300,000; a Crawford gives $2,500 (and maybe more) to Henry

It appears Allen County Sheriff Dave Gladieux's legal problems did not end with the misdemeanor battery charge announced this week. And taxpayers may be on the hook this time around. The parents of the 15-year-old Three Rivers Festival volunteer Gladieux allegedly roughed up July 16 have given notice of their intent to file a civil suit seeking at least $300,000 from Gladieux in his individual and official ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Demise of Indiana Virtual School helped create 'hybrid' educational option in Fort Wayne

What do you get when you combine on-line education, a brick-and-mortar charter school and a not-for-profit tutoring and mentoring business? The answer is in the former Early Childhood Alliance building at 3320 Fairfield, where the partnership between Noblesville-based Options Schools and Growing Minds of Fort Wayne also offers a lesson in how to turn a problem into an opportunity. "We had been working with ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Whether it's $104 million or 'just' $48 million, Allen County needs to have a plan for its excess cash

As I write this, the federal government is nearly $22.6 trillion in the red. But the on-line national debt clock’s numbers are spinning so fast the total will be millions more by the time you read this. That’s bad. Allen County government, on the other hand, reported a cash balance of about $114.5 million as of Jan. 1. But is that good? In one sense, the answer is an obvious “yes.” If ordinary ...

KEVIN LEININGER: City Council is right: When it comes to spending public money, the public should have a bigger voice

Decades ago Allen County Council members would spend a whole week on budget discussions each summer, debating about whether to buy a copier or some other mundane gizmo for what seemed like hours. Even so, I seemed to write a story every few months about how the county had almost no money left beyond what was already in the budget. Today Allen County government has well over $100 million in cash reserves (on ...

UPDATED: City Council plan wants $1.25 million cut last month to go to neighborhoods; maybe drug prevention

Two weeks ago City Council cut $1.25 million from Mayor Tom Henry's plan to distribute $3.25 in unanticipated income tax revenues and delayed a vote on the rest until October. A resolution to be introduced Tuesday specifies how council wants to use that $1.25 million and makes it clear the entire amount should be part of a cooperative, bipartisan budget process. According to Council Finance Committee ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Allen County working to preserve some bits of history, avoid threat from others

According to the Film Foundation, half of all American motion pictures made before 1950 and more than 90 percent made prior to 1929 are lost forever — mostly because they were shot on nitrite film that over time tended to decompose or even burst into flame. A telltale whiff of vinegar has alerted officials to take action before some of Allen County's vital documents suffer a similar fate. "We have 3,800 ...

UPDATED: It's official: Ruoff Home Mortgage plans new downtown headquarters

Nearly two years after The News-Sentinel first reported the project, Ruoff Home Mortgage has filed plans to build a new headquarters in downtown Fort Wayne. The company is seeking permission from the Department or Planning Services to erect the building on 0.728 acres of city-owned property at 405 W. Jefferson Blvd. Because the structure's height would exceed 170 feet, the company is seeking a waiver from ...

City saves $2 million by rebidding parking garage expansion

An unexpected $3.5 million increase in the cost of expanding a city-owned downtown parking garage has been reduced significantly. As The News-Sentinel reported Saturday, the city decided to seek new bids after a project that had been expected to cost $7 million increased by about 50 percent to $10.5 million — something Redevelopment Director Nancy Townsend previously attributed to a strong economy that made ...

Allen County building permits hit $1 billion mark faster than ever

The value of construction permits in Allen County has surpassed $1 billion for the third consecutive year — and months earlier than ever before. The County Commissioners and Building Department announced Tuesday that $1.185 billion in permits had been issued by the department through August. In 2017 it took until December to reach the bill-dollar mark with $1.032 billion in permits issued; in 2018 it took ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Mayoral campaign should address Electric Works' future; city rebids pricey garage

What I first reported as a possibility nearly three months ago has become a reality: Apparently unable to meet Sunday's deadline requiring certain leasing and financial benchmarks, Electric Works' developers have requested an extension — and officials who have pledged $65 million in local public funds to the $230 million project seem inclined to grant it. If only I could predict the stock market as ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Thanks to 'urban pioneers' like this one, what's old could be new again

In one sense Janie Garrison is an American anachronism, living above the "Simply N Style" boutique she recently opened on the first floor of the newly renovated century-old house at 1401 Fairfield Ave. just south of downtown. That sort of arrangement is just, well, so old-fashioned. But if Garrison and the backers of the "Brackenridge Village" project are right, she will be the latter-day pioneer who proved ...

UPDATED: Electric Works developers likely to miss leasing, funding deadline; another extension expected

Developers of the Electric Works project are likely receive another extension in deadlines to meet leasing, financial and other benchmarks. RTM Ventures, whose original development deal by the city established a June deadline, in April saw the closing deadline pushed into November, with Sept. 1 as the date by which funding had to be secured and 250,000 square feet under lease. RTM spokesman Kevin Erb said ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Safety concerns shouldn't mask other questions raised by 'Fill the Boot' campaign

Did Fort Wayne firefighters endanger themselves and possibly others when they were allowed to solicit support for the Muscular Dystrophy Association on city streets? Even if City Council authorizes such activity Tuesday night, the question is moot because departmental commanders and other officials don't want to take the risk and have ordered the annual 'Fill the Boot" campaign to collect at local businesses ...

'Fill the Boot' campaign to begin Thursday -- but not on the street

Fort Wayne firefighters will be conducting their annual "Fill the Boot" campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association starting this Thursday, Aug. 29, through Sept. 3. But they won't be collecting on the streets no matter what City Council decides Tuesday. According to a statement issued Monday by the Fort Wayne Professional Firefighters, IAFF Local 124, "Collection will not be done in the public right-of-way ...