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WRITER: Kevin Leininger

KEVIN LEININGER: County looks to recoup its loss; one project moves to new phase as another regroups

Like most journalists, I'm always on the lookout for examples of government goofs or waste. In this case, however, one such story seems poised for a happy ending for everybody involved — even the taxpayers. As I reported in April 2018, the Allen County Commissioners paid Ellen Durnell nearly $207,000 for her six-acre property at 10209 Coverdale Road after the county's $2.7 million reconstruction of the road ...

City looking to develop nature park and sanctuary on Gump Road

The city will develop a nature park and sanctuary on Gump Road — but not just yet. On Tuesday, City Council will consider a request from the Parks and Recreation Department to pay $588,232 for 14.75 acres at 1825 E. Gump Road currently owned by Loren and Liz Thomas, who under the proposal could continue live on the property as long as they like. "Once the Thomases vacate the property, we will start the ...

Wayne Township Trustee Richard Stevenson retires after 13 years; caucus to replace him

Wayne Township Trustee Richard Stevenson on Friday announced his retirement after 13 years on the job. A Democrat, a party caucus still to be scheduled will select someone to fill out the remaining year of his fourth term. In the meantime, the trustee's duties will be assumed by current Chief Deputy Austin Knox. "We've worked together to do the job voters entrusted to me, trying to help give people a hand ...

New economic development commission aims to attract investment to New Haven

After years of dormancy, the New Haven Economic Development Commission will meet Wednesday in hopes of attracting more investment to Allen County's second-largest city. "The Planning Department began looking at this a year ago as a way to bring another tool to the table," said Brian Yoh, director of planning and economic development. That internal desire, along with encouragement from Mayor-Elect Steve ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Lawsuit has new strip-club bill in limbo, but why not enforce laws already on the books?

When City Council voted 5-1 in August to impose a series of new regulations on strip clubs and other sexually oriented businesses, supporters predicted the ordinance could withstand any court challenge because it was modeled on bills that had already passed legal muster elsewhere. That confidence may still prove justified, but it hasn't prevented a lawsuit that, at least for now, seems to have created a ...

KEVIN LEININGER: This is indeed the day to give thanks; just don't do it the wrong way

Depending on the translation, "thanks" or some variation of the word appears in the Bible about 140 times. And as you might expect, most are appropriate themes for a holiday Abraham Lincoln established in 1863 as "a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent father." Yet somehow I'm drawn to perhaps the only verse in Scripture that actually condemns giving thanks to God — if it's done for the wrong ...

KEVIN LEININGER: City seeks $37.8M for four downtown projects after denying $23M for Electric Works

Last week, even as it was denying Electric Works developers' request for a $23 million loan guarantee, city officials were also asking the CIB for $37.85 million they consider essential to the future of four downtown projects. It's unclear whether there's a connection (the city appears to believe the CIB can support the downtown projects without affecting its previous commitment to Electric Works), but the ...

Tax 'phase in' could save New Haven company $1.5M on $16M expansion

A New Haven company planning a $16 million expansion would save nearly $1.5 million in taxes over 10 years if City Council approves its request for a tax "phase in." SDI LaFarga LLC announced the expansion last week, which would bring up to 30 new jobs to its plant at 1640 S. Ryan Road by the end of 2021. The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has already pledged $255,000 in conditional tax credits to the ...

NAACP president Curry-Campbell appointed to County Council

The president of the Fort Wayne chapter of the NAACP will join Allen County Council Jan. 1, succeeding Sharon Tucker in the 1st District. Sheila Curry-Campbell was elected over two other candidates Friday by Democratic precinct officials. Also seeking the position were Stephanie Henry and Kathy Zoucha, a former state Senate candidate. Tucker will represent the 6th District on City Council starting next year, ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Yellow Brick Road comes downtown; mediocrity can be a wonderful thing

The Yellow Brick Road showed the way from Munchkinland to Oz. A similar project will connect the Arts United campus to the newly renovated Landing in downtown Fort Wayne. At an estimated cost of between $1.5 million and $2.5 million, the northern plaza of the county-owned Rousseau Center at 1 E. Main St. will be reconstructed next year to prevent storm water from leaking into the underground parking garage. ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Denial of $23M Electric Works guarantee may have been right, but secrecy invites skepticism

So far as I can tell, city officials were right this week when they denied Electric Works developers' request to provide a taxpayer-funded guarantee for a $23 million loan they say would have been "the final piece that will allow this project to come to fruition." The problem is that, thanks to the behind-the scenes process by which the decision was made, most of the public and perhaps even some of the ...

More security fencing coming to the Memorial Coliseum

The Memorial Coliseum is being surrounded. A $200,000 project that will install 4,000 feet of decorative fencing around the complex is set to enter its second phase soon, according to General Manager Randy Brown. As The News-Sentinel first reported last year, the 6-foot steel fencing is intended to improve security around the complex and was suggested by the federal government and the National Basketball ...

City Council honored Anthony Wayne; now Native Americans recognized too

Fort Wayne's namesake got his day. Now the area's original inhabitants will get their month. City Council made certain of that Tuesday in a resolution passed Tuesday that honors Native American Heritage Month and the contributions they have made to the community but also acknowledges its February decision to proclaim July 16th "Mad Anthony Wayne Day" was based in part on flawed history. The resolution ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Immigration remains a wonderful thing -- when it's done right

With the constitutionality of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program under Supreme Court review, more than a few of the 765,000 so-called "Dreamers" who came to the country illegally as children have insisted they have a right to permanent residence and even citizenship because "I'm an American." But as a 45-minute ceremony in Fort Wayne's U.S. District Courtroom last week ...

UPDATED: Electric Works denied request for $23 million advance; developers 'remain committed'

The clock appears to be ticking on Electric Works. Faced with a Feb. 1 deadline to comply with funding requirements under their agreement with the city, the project's developers learned Monday the city, Fort Wayne Redevelopment Commission, Allen County Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board and County Commissioners will not approve their recent request for an advanced funding commitment of $23 million for the ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Divisive social issues didn't cost Republicans the mayoral election, but they didn't help, either

Back on March 30, two months before Tim Smith easily defeated City Councilman John Crawford in a bitter Republican mayoral primary, my column about the potential divisiveness of Allen County Right-to-Life endorsements in local races concluded with these questions: "Has it already affected one general election? Could it happen again?" In a newspaper column that appeared days after pro-life favorite Smith won ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Plan is in place for use of hotel-tax increase; will 1 million new visitors follow?

When Visit Fort Wayne CEO Dan O'Connell gives his annual report to members of city and county councils next week, it's a good bet he'll be asked to explain how his organization plans to spend the extra $750,000 the recent 1 percent increase in the hotel tax is expected to generate every year. If so, O'Connell is prepared to roll out a strategy designed to increase local tourism by 1 million people within five ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Story of south-side eyesore may finally have a happy ending; Ruoff update

As if looking in the mirror weren't enough, you know you're getting older when the places that produced some of life's most vivid memories start disappearing. Sometimes demolition induces nostalgic regret, as it did for me when the former New Haven High School was turned into a vacant lot this past summer. Sometimes, however, it seems almost merciful — an overdue form of structural euthanasia. The planned ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Tuesday's drubbing offered Republicans a lesson: Are they smart enough to listen?

George Santayana's observation that "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" goes double for politics, especially after the sort of drubbing Republicans suffered in Tuesday's city election. But history improves the future only if it is interpreted accurately and honestly — which is why the GOP must avoid snap decisions even as it confronts the real challenges and opportunities that ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Being victimized by age is bad enough; don't let the scammers get you, too

I'll turn 65 in May, and if the prospect of joining the ever-growing ranks of the government-dependent is appealing — and it is — retirement offers risks as well as rewards. "We get about 25 calls a week about the Social Security scam," said Marjorie Stephens, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana, whose agency is so concerned about this chronic and consistent scheme that its ...