Discover more from Based in Lafayette, Indiana
Helicopter with a ‘hula hoop?’ Just the state checking out Tippecanoe Co. water it wants
Plus, comeback independent bid comes up short for candidate booted from primary ballot. Stars and Stripes schedule. Reads on court rulings on abortion, student debt and more
Thanks to the Long Center for the Performing Arts for sponsoring today’s edition. Long Center’s summer series at Loeb Stadium includes: Taylor Swift Laser Dance Party (Thursday, July 27); Air Supply (Friday, July 28), and Scotty McCreery (Thursday, Aug. 17). Tickets on sale now, at www.longpac.org, the Long Center box office at 111 N. Sixth St. or by calling 765-742-5664.
HELICOPTER WITH A ‘HULA HOOP’ CHECKING ON LOCAL WATER STUDY FOR LEAP DISTRICT PROJECT
If you spot a helicopter flying low south and west of West Lafayette, toting what looks like a giant hula hoop underneath, that’s a firm doing work tied to the Indiana Economic Development Corp.'s study of water from the Wabash River aquifer for the LEAP district near Lebanon.
Aqua Geo Frameworks, a company based in Wyoming, issued notices to comply with FAA regulations that flights started Thursday and would continue for up to a week.
In its notice, the company said the helicopter would fly at 100 to 200 feet for a geological and aquifer mapping study. The sensor hanging from the helicopter is used “to measure tiny electromagnetic signals that can be used to map features below Earth’s surface,” the firm said. Flights are not expected to go directly over populated areas.
Erin Sweitzer, vice president for communications with the IEDC, said the helicopter survey work is part of the current water study in Tippecanoe County. She said it’s not an expansion of the study.
Sweitzer said results of the study should be available by the end of the summer.
The IEDC has been working since at least 2022 on an idea about pulling as much as 100 million gallons of water a day from the aquifer along the Wabash River, southwest and downstream from Lafayette, and sending it to Boone County for the 9,000-acre LEAP Lebanon Innovation District.
At that site, near the merge of Interstate 65 and U.S. 52, the state is looking to recruit massive advanced manufacturing projects, including hopes of being in contention for a $50 billion semiconductor facility that came to light a week ago. Lebanon doesn’t have the water supplies to handle the intense needs of such facilities.
This week, during a forum that drew 300 people to the Tippecanoe County Fairgrounds, Greater Lafayette officials and Purdue researchers outlined what they knew and didn’t know about an IEDC pipeline plan that could cost as much as $2 billion and pump Tippecanoe County water for needs near Lebanon and across central Indiana.
Here’s a look at what was said that night: “Wary Tippecanoe Co. eyes state plan to ship local water to massive LEAP District.”
IEDC officials did not come to that meeting – Sweitzer said Friday that was because IEDC representatives weren’t available due to travel – but state Rep. Sharon Negele, R-Attica, read a statement from the agency, including this: “Ultimately, the amount of water that may potentially be drawn from the aquifer will be determined by the needs within the district, but most importantly, by its capacity to sustain the usage without detrimentally impacting current users. It is our vision that this project will benefit a much larger area than just Boone County and central Indiana.”
On Friday, Sweitzer said: “We continue to have regular, extensive discussions with Greater Lafayette stakeholders, state and local elected officials and other community partners. The IEDC is committed to attending an upcoming public meeting once we have results from the engineering study to share.”
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UPON FURTHER REVIEW, CANDIDATE BOOTED FROM BALLOT MISSES THRESHOLD TO GET BACK ON AS INDEPENDENT
The comeback Derek Reuter planned as an independent candidate for Lafayette City Council, months after being kicked off the ballot when he filed as a Democrat ahead of the May primary, fell just short at Friday’s deadline.
Reuter was eight signatures short of the 273 registered voters in Lafayette he needed by noon Friday to qualify for the November municipal ballot, Tippecanoe County Clerk Julie Roush said.
Reuter had filed paperwork Monday, with signatures still to collect, to run as an independent for one of three at-large seats on the Lafayette City Council, after having getting an Allen County judge to expunge a felony conviction for marijuana possession from 2005. That conviction led the county election board to remove Reuter from the ballot in March after he’d filed to run as a Democrat.
Reuter declined to comment Friday.
Without Reuter on the ballot, incumbents Kevin Klinker, Nancy Nargi and Steve Snyder, all Democrats, will win re-election uncontested, barring a last minute filing by Republicans, Democrats or Libertarians by their noon Monday deadline. (Republican and Democratic party chairs in the county said this week that they don’t anticipate that happening.)
Here’s how ballots shape up in West Lafayette and Lafayette ahead of the noon Monday deadline for parties to slate candidates. (Incumbents noted with an asterisk.)
Mayor: Tony Roswarski*, D; Benji Milanowski, Libertarian
Clerk: Cindy Murray*, D.
Council District 1: Jerry Reynolds*, R.
Council District 2: Eileen Hession Weiss*, D; Mary Fisher, R.
Council District 3: Perry Brown*, D.
Council District 4: Lauren Ahlersmeyer*, D; Josiah Eller, Libertarian
Council District 5: Melissa Weast Williamson*, D.
Council District 6: Bob Downing*, D; Perry Barbee, R
Council at-large (3): Kevin Klinker*, D; Nancy Nargi*, D; Steve Snyder*, D.
Mayor: Erin Easter, D.
Clerk: Sana Booker*, D.
City Judge: Lori Sabol*, D.
Council District 1: Aaron Abell, R; Laila Veidemanis, D.
Council District 2: Michelle Dennis, D.
Council District 3: Colin Lee*, D.
Council District 4: Larry Leverenz*, D.
Council District 5: Kathy Parker*, D; James Waters, R.
Council District 6: Jeff Brown*, R; Stacey Baitinger Burr, D.
Council at-large (3): James Blanco*, D; Iris O’Donnell Bellisario, D; David Sanders*, D; Brian Russell, R; Patrick Flannelly, R.
STARS AND STRIPES LINEUP FOR THE FOURTH
The big news for this year’s Stars and Stripes Celebration in downtown Lafayette? The fireworks will be launched from the deck of the Harrison Bridge, a few blocks north of downtown, instead of from city land nearby the way it was last year.
Lafayette City Clerk Cindy Murray, organizer of the annual Stars and Stripes, said the position of work on West Lafayette’s major combined sewer overflow along North River Road made Harrison Bridge off limits in 2022.
“We’re excited to have it back,” Murray said. “We had a nice display last year. But it was harder to see when they had to shoot things off where they did. It should be back to what it was, up on the bridge.”
Not happening this year: A Fourth of July parade. The city held one in 2022, but Murray said there wasn’t enough interest to be in the parade this year to hold it, again.
Here’s the schedule for Stars and Stripes at Riehle Plaza, near Second and Main streets in downtown Lafayette.
5 p.m.: Food truck vendors will open for business.
6 p.m.: Lafayette Jeff Jazz Combo and Alumni Band
7 p.m.: Clave Caribe
8 p.m.: Lafayette Citizens Band and the Freedom Singers
9 p.m.: Tippecanoe Ancient Fife and Drum Corps
9:10 p.m.: Lafayette Citizens Band and Freedom Singers
10 p.m.: Fireworks
OTHER READS …
ABORTION LAW RULING: The Indiana Supreme Court ruled Friday that the state’s near-total abortion ban, passed in August 2022 but on hold since then during court challenges, doesn’t violate the Indiana Constitution. The state had been waiting for a ruling in the case since the court heard oral arguments in January. The state’s ban – coming after Indiana General Assembly was the first legislature in the country to pass legislation after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v Wade – blocks nearly all abortions, except in cases of serious health risks to the mother and in cases of fatal fetal anomaly.
Here are a few reads:
WFYI reporter Brandon Smith had this report and reaction: “Indiana Supreme Court OKs near-total abortion ban, set to take effect soon.”
Indiana Capital Chronicle reporter had this: “Indiana Supreme Court upholds abortion ban, but leaves door open for other legal challenges.”
Here's a link to read the Indiana Supreme Court’s ruling in the abortion law case.
STUDENT LOAN FORGIVENESS RULING: In a 6-3 decision Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration overstepped his authority when he acted to forgive billions of dollars of student debt.
Here are a few reads with the reaction:
Associated Press reporter Mark Sherman had the main news: “The Supreme Court rejects Biden’s plan to wipe away $400 billion in student loan debt.”
NPR reporter Cory Turner had this analysis: “What the Supreme Court's rejection of student loan relief means for borrowers.”
WBAA reporter Ben Thorp had this look at the impact in Indiana: “Supreme Court decision will impact over 900,000 Indiana borrowers with student loan debt.”
SUPREME COURT RULES ON SAME-SEX QUESTION: The Supreme Court also ruled Friday that a Colorado-based graphic artist can refuse to work with same-sex couples looking to design wedding websites. The 6-3 ruling, seen as a blow to LGBTQ rights, said that forcing the business owner to create the websites would violate her free speech rights under the First Amendment.
AP reporter Jessica Gresko had the news here: “The Supreme Court rules for a designer who doesn’t want to make wedding websites for gay couples.”
Then this started rolling out after the ruling: A man referenced in the lawsuit as having asked the web designer to make a wedding site says that was news to him, because he didn’t ask her to do the work and already is married … to his wife. Here’s a report in The Guardian: “Key document may be fake in LGBTQ+ rights case before US supreme court: Christian website designer says she received email request from same-sex couple but ‘author’ says he did not send it – and is not gay.”
SPEAKING OF COLLEGE COSTS …: Purdue’s tuition freeze on its West Lafayette campus remains old hat, heading into its 11th year (with at least one more year coming) with tuition just under $10,000. Indiana Capital Chronicle reporter Casey Smith had this on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s report to the State Budget Committee last week about tuition increases at the state’s other public universities – including Purdue’s two regional campuses – and what’s driving the bumps. Here’s the report: “Tuition hikes on the way for Indiana’s public colleges and universities, with fewer students going.”
Thanks, again, to the Long Center for the Performing Arts for sponsorship help with today’s issue. For a rundown of shows at Long Center and Loeb Stadium, go to www.longpac.org.
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