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WRITER: Kevin Leininger

KEVIN LEININGER: If you're really looking for Christmas, you won't find it at the mall

I made my annual journalistic safari to Glenbrook Square Wednesday searching for signs of Christmas and, of course, to do a little shopping on company time. My quest yielded no purchases but no shortage of evidence that plenty of people don't mind profiting from the "C-word" so long as they don't have to use it. "Holiday 2019" read the fine print on the poster outside of one store, which together with the ...

IU Health breaks ground on $20 million surgery center

Ground was broken Thursday on IU Health's latest addition to the Fort Wayne medical market — a $20 million ambulatory surgery center on seven acres at Aboite Center and Dicke roads on the city's southwest side. The project, first reported by The News-Sentinel in June, could open by late next year or in early 2021 and will include about five operating rooms and five procedure rooms for more than 10 different ...

Allen County's regional water and sewer district fires executive director

The Allen County Regional Sewer and Water District is looking for a new executive director following the firing of its leader for the past two and one-half years. Trustees of the district, which was created in 1979 to extend sewer and water service into more sparsely populated areas of the county, on Wednesday terminated Jeff Morris for reasons attorney Andy Boxberger called "performance related. The board felt ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Happy New Year! State says county bridge taxes can go up in 2020

The new year will ring in a tax increase for Allen County residents — at least for those whose properties have not yet reached the state-imposed caps. That’s because the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance has denied an appeal filed in May by the Neighborhoods United group, clearing the way for an increase in the county’s bridge tax from $0.0129 for every $100 of assessed value to ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Thanks to new revenues and strong economy, area has weathered dreaded tax caps

"City Controller Pat Roller says the budget woes are due to property tax caps in effect since 2009 that have cost the city $53 million." The News-Sentinel reported that somber outlook on May 14, 2013. But when the city rolled out its proposed budget in September, my story began far more optimistically: "Calling it the city's strongest budget in 20 years, Mayor Tom Henry on Thursday announced the city's ...

Food-container maker to create 19 jobs through $30.7M expansion

A $30.7 million expansion will create 19 new jobs at a Fort Wayne food-container plant. New Jersey-based Sabert Corp. is seeking tax breaks on a manufacturing, tooling and testing facility at 8510 Ardmore Ave. near Fort Wayne International Airport. The company, which makes containers for food products, already operates a facility at 3511 Engle Road. According to the application for a tax abatement to be ...

KEVIN LEININGER: Christians endure Trump's 'feet of clay' because of policy, not hypocrisy

The question is not new, and will only become more common now that House Democrats have announced two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump: Why do so many Christians continue to support such an obviously flawed man? Despite the political bias and theological ignorance that often motivates the asking, the question is a fair one. As a recent survey by the Public Religion Research Institute ...

KEVIN LEININGER: New technology helps Salvation Army adapt to old challenges, shifting politics

"If you're not moving forward, you're moving backward," said Salvation Army-Fort Wayne Social Services Director Tim Smith, who this Christmas season is meeting new challenges with new technology for the sake of the 10,300 people the organization serves every year. What Charles Dickens said about the French Revolution — "it was the best of times and the worst of times" — might also apply to this year's ...

City Council resolution would make New Haven a 'right to life' city; McDonald awarded Sagamore

Thanks to Mayor Terry McDonald's legislative "bucket list," New Haven could soon officially be a pro-life city. City Council on Tuesday will consider a "resolution in support of human life" stating that because the Declaration guarantees a right to life, Allen County's second-largest city believes that human life should be protected and preserved from the moment of conception until the moment of natural ...

City Council considers changes to business tax incentives

Fort Wayne companies seeking tax breaks on new buildings and equipment could soon experience higher application fees. An ordinance to be introduced at Tuesday's City Council meeting would essentially double fees, restoring them to the level that existed before cuts were implemented several years ago, according to co-sponsor Russ Jehl, R-2nd. The ordinance, also sponsored by Glynn Hines, D-6th, would also ...

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. ...