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WRITER: Kevin Leininger

KEVIN LEININGER: COVID-19 response full of trade-offs, but responsibility always helps

In 1991, a day after several hundred AIDS activists had staged a “die-in” near his home in Kennebunkport, Maine, President George H. W. Bush actually dared to suggest that “Here’s a disease where you can control its spread by your own personal behavior. You can’t do that in cancer.” "If the president listened to public health officials instead of (then-Sen.) Jesse Helms, he'd understand that AIDS ...

Thanks to schedule change and COVID-19, 'inside' help and new locations could be needed election day

Thanks to COVID-19, Indiana's primary has been pushed back from May 5 to June 2. But it's possible a lot more than the date will have to change — including the enlistment of institutional and medical personnel in the voting process. Allen County elections officials have long sent so-called "traveling boards" to nursing homes and other institutions to help residents who cannot leave or fill out absentee ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Fortunately, 'essential' booze is there to help us cope with COVID-19

Three days before Gov. Eric Holcomb's March 23 order requiring Hoosiers not engaged in essential travel or services to stay home, my boss handed me a letter that was amazingly clairvoyant. "To whom it may concern," it began. "Persons engaged in the dissemination of news . . . are exempt from 'shelter at home' or curfews because . . . government at all levels recognize the vital role media plays in keeping the ...

New plan for former N. Anthony Scott's site, but owners say COVID-19 complicates things

It's been eight years since structural problems forced the closure of the Scott's Food store at North Anthony Boulevard and Crescent Avenue, four years since the now-defunct Marsh grocery chain expressed interest in the property and two years since the building was razed. The 3.5-acre site's owner, Fort Wayne-based Rogers Properties, figures it's time for a new plan — even though company spokesman John ...

KEVIN LEININGER: If we don't live by bread alone, churches are as 'essential' as groceries

Last Sunday's bulletin at Zion Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne included an admonition to practice "social distancing" in the pews, information about how to deal with COVID-19 both physically and spiritually, a "prayer for our nation, under duress" and a promise that "We are not shutting down church unless ordered to for a time by our political leaders." Most of my fellow Zion members never got to see it, ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Sure preservation feels good, but does it also make sense (and dollars)?

Four years after a $10 million renovation created a two-story ballroom that is one of the jewels of downtown Fort Wayne, it's hard to believe the Embassy Theatre and attached Indiana Hotel were once in danger of demolition — a fate other notable remnants of the city's past were not able to avoid. Today, however, even a cursory look around town reveals how times have changed: From the Clyde Theatre to the ...

'We'll get through this stronger,' local officials assure public

"We will come out of this as a community stronger and better," Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters asserted Tuesday as he, Mayor Tom Henry, Health Commissioner Deborah McMahan and other officials sought to reassure the public that necessary but prudent steps are being taken to combat the spread of COVID-19. McMahan also told reporters during a press conference at the Rousseau Centre that plans are being ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Plan to move, modernize aviation museum is taking flight at airport

Greg Bosk was just passing through the terminal at Fort Wayne International Airport last year when he noticed the aviation museum on the second floor was looking just a bit dingy. But instead of complaining he spent three days vacuuming, cleaning and dusting its display cases containing 500 items — and in the process became the leader of a campaign to make this tribute to local aviation more accessible, ...

Commissioners to approve COVID-19 policy for Allen County employees

The Allen County Commissioners on Friday were expected to approve a policy covering county employees and operations during disruptions caused by COVID-19. The policy, which would be retroactive to Monday, March 16, states the commissioners "place the highest priority on the health, safety and wellbeing of the Allen County community and its employees while protecting the continuity of essential county functions. ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Virus infecting Electric Works with uncertainty and mounting losses for Coliseum

Barely a month ago, the future of Electric Works seemed brighter than it had ever been. Bolstered by the third extension of the agreement with the city committing $65 million in public funds, developers welcomed Do it Best as the project's anchor tenant and state officials expressed a willingness to provide even more support for the $230 million redevelopment of the former General Electric campus. "I’m ...

City Council to consider COVID-19 policy for city workers, operations

Fort Wayne City Council is scheduled to conduct an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon to consider a COVID-19 policy for city employees and operations. With Citizens Square closed due to health concerns, the meeting will not be open to the public. The policy, which would remain in effect until April 1 pending subsequent review or changes, is intended to "maintain a continuity of essential city functions as ...

KEVIN LEININGER: COVID-19 unhealthy for city development funds, but recovery expected

Even before COVID-19 infected what had been a healthy economy, the dwindling amount of public money available to subsidize economic development projects had begun to trigger some concern. Capital Improvement Board President Jim Cook said as much last month when he talked about the need to establish spending priorities, and so did City Councilman Russ Jehl a week later when he suggested "the city is almost out ...

New Haven company plans $6.2 million 'shell' building in proposed industrial park

A New Haven company is seeking tax incentives on a proposed $6.24 million, 100,000-square-foot "shell" building it plans to develop in a proposed industrial park near U.S. 24. In an application to be considered Tuesday by New Haven City Council, Cedar Oak Ventures states it bought the site at 10511 Rose Lane in 2016 as part of a 56-acre deal with the Parker-Hannifin Corp. Since then, the company has leased ...

Public Catholic masses suspended in Fort Wayne, throughout Indiana due to COVID-19

Public Sunday and weekday Roman Catholic masses have been suspended throughout Indiana, including the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, because of COVID-19. "In light of new information and recommendations from health officials concerning the danger of the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgency to stem the spread of the virus, the five Catholic bishops of Indiana have suspended effective March 18 and until further ...

KEVIN LEININGER: It's all the rage, but is it harmless fun -- or a reflection of a deeper problem?

First came the white coverall, followed by the protective mask and gloves. Only then was Alyssa West cleared for action. But West was not preparing for combat against COVID-19. Rather, she had just paid to participate in that other great pandemic of our time: rage. "How often do you get a chance to break things and not get in trouble?" asked the 25-year-old DeBrand's Chocolates employee as she prepared to do ...

Health Department considering limits on public gatherings; Komets season suspended and TinCaps' delayed

In an effort to prevent local hospitals from being overwhelmed by the need to treat an onslaught of COVID-19 patients, the Allen County Department of Health seems poised to recommend or impose limits on various public activities, from schools to religious service to sports. And even before the Executive Health Board holds a special meeting Monday evening to make decisions that will affect the entire community, ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Coliseum warily watches COVID-19; Fort Wayne's dreams come true

I was one of the more than 9,000 people at the Komets hockey game Saturday night, but COVID-19 virus is preventing such crowds at sporting events elsewhere in the United States and around the world. And now that the virus has been confirmed as close as Noble County, you can bet local officials are at least preparing for such things here — as Monday's meeting of the Board of Health's "Closure Advisory Group" ...

New Haven Mayor Steve McMichael lays out his vision -- and it could include a wheel tax

In his first "state of the city" address as New Haven mayor, Steve McMichael was expected to commit to building on past successes while evolving to meet future challenges — a future that could include a city wheel tax that would raise about $175,000 annually for road improvements. "I know no one wants any additional taxes, myself included, but I have listened to the desires of the community to repair our ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Hopefully history won't repeat itself with COVID-19 -- but it could

Even as he was speaking, Dr. Scott Stienecker realized the irony of gathering 200 community leaders in a confined space to combat a virus that has already affected more than 94,000 people worldwide, killed more than 3,000 and — sooner of later — will make its way to Allen County. If it hasn't already. "This could be one of the last times we will want to get together in a large group like this," the ...

KEVIN LEININGER: With two big projects on table, council should be thinking about priorities

The Allen County-Fort Wayne Capital Improvement Board was in the process of awarding $25.7 million to two big downtown projects last week — roughly double the Henry administration's original request — when President Jim Cook suggested the need to establish priorities given the board's finite supply of food and beverage taxes. As City Council prepares for a vote on millions of additional dollars in ...