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Playing catch up …
County, cities plan a new animal shelter. USPS addresses delayed ballots in Tippecanoe County. Revelations in the Delphi murder case. And Mitch Daniels to new grads: 'We’re all mutts here today’
A couple of programming notes before we get started:
First, thanks for the ongoing support from Little Engine Ventures, sponsor of today’s edition. For more about what the Lafayette company does, scroll to the bottom of the newsletter.
And thanks, I think, to everyone who asked how I was doing and what happened to the (nearly) daily dose of the Based in Lafayette reporting project. I took a couple of days off this week to run some long-distance family errands. So, no, your subscription didn’t lapse. I’ll need to step aside from more time off this summer, but I’ll be more intentional about letting you know when that happens.
Now, for some catching up …
A NEW ANIMAL SHELTER IN THE WORKS: Pressed by the impending last call for Crystal Creek Kennels – the spot on Goldsberry Road near Battle Ground that has handled Tippecanoe County’s stray pets for the past two decades-plus – the county, Lafayette and West Lafayette are making plans to put a combined $5 million toward a new animal shelter.
On Monday, county commissioners initiated a letter of intent with Lafayette, West Lafayette and a new entity called the Humane Society for Greater Lafayette to use space left along Sagamore Parkway South when the Tippecanoe County Extension Office moved this spring. (The Extension Office is in the former YMCA facility of South 18th Street, near the county fairgrounds, along with the county health department.)
According to the letter of intent – which county attorney Doug Masson said Monday still involved a lot of moving parts – included the concept of moving the Lafayette, West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County animal control operations on the property. The Humane Society for Greater Lafayette would house its sheltering and adoption services there, too. (Now, Lafayette and West Lafayette contract sheltering for strays with the Almost Home Humane Society, which has a shelter in Lafayette.)
The letter also has the county providing the land and $2 million; Lafayette would chip in $2.5 million; and West Lafayette would put in $500,000. The letter allows for expansion, if additional money is available.
Commissioner Tom Murtaugh said the Humane Society for Greater Lafayette, recently formed as a nonprofit organization, would lead at fundraising campaign for the project. After Monday’s meeting, Murtaugh said the project could be as much as $10 million, depending on what the nonprofit group is able to raise.
On Monday, county commissioners also hired Shelter Planners of America for $3,500 to help come up with initial drawings for a shelter. Those plans would be ready in four weeks, according to the company. Murtaugh said later that it hadn’t been decided whether the existing office building used by the Extension Office would work for the new animal shelter.
The timeline for a final agreement, construction and opening weren’t set.
DELPHI REVELATIONS: Another piece of once-sealed court documents uncovered by a true-crime podcast gives a new glimpse into an angle investigators were pursuing and crime scene details in the murders of Abby Williams and Libby German, teens found dead near a popular community trail in Delphi in 2017.
A request for a search warrant filed March 17, 2017, a month after the Feb. 13, 2017, murders, had an FBI investigator detailing that two pieces of clothing were missing from one of the girls – something the investigator wrote was “common for perpetrators of this type of crime to take a ‘souvenir’ or, in some fashion, memorialize the crime scene” – that given the type of wounds, it was “nearly certain” the killer would have had blood on himself; and that the teens were “moved and staged” where they were found.
The document, reported by the producers of a podcast called “The Murder Sheet,” was connected to a search warrant for the property of Ronald Logan, who owned the land where the girls were found and whom investigators said in the court document hadn’t been straight in initial conversations about where he was at the time of the murders and had some attributes of the man shown in Libby German’s cellphone video crossing the Monon High Bridge toward the girls. Logan died in January 2022 and was never charged. Police have not publicly named a suspect. Police, who have been particularly tight with public information released in the case, haven’t been terribly excited about the five-year-old document floating out there. For more, here are a couple of takes from WTHR, from WISH and from the J&C.
POSTAL SERVICE AND BALLOTS – A FOLLOW-UP: Last week brought unsettling news that in a lightly attended May 3 primary, as many as 24 ballots were left uncounted in Tippecanoe County because they were left in a U.S. Postal Service sorting facility because – as election officials say they were told – of staffing issues at the post office.
How did Tippecanoe County Clerk Julie Roush put it as the county’s election board was digesting that news as it certified the primary results? “It’s not just irritating, it’s unacceptable,” Roush said. “People’s votes didn’t get counted.”
The U.S. Postal Service didn’t have a formal response last week to report and a fairly scathing letter from Roush demanding better. (Here’s more on what went wrong, from locked post office doors on Election Night to ballots that were stuck somewhere they couldn’t be counted: “Dozens of Tippecanoe primary ballots marked too late; staffing shortage blamed at post office.”)
This week, Susan Wright, a member of the U.S. Postal Service’s corporate communications, said the post office was aware and working on it. As promised last week, here’s the full response:
“The Postal Service is committed to fulfilling our role in the electoral process when public policy makers choose to utilize us as a part of their election system. We provide election officials with a secure, efficient and effective means to enable citizens to participate in elections. The Postal Service is committed to delivering election mail in a timely manner. We have a robust and proven process to ensure proper handling of all election mail, including ballots.
“The Postal Service is aware of issues related to a few ballots in Tippecanoe County’s recent primary election but without a review of the actual mailpieces involved, we are unable to comment further. The Postal Service is working with the county and Board of Elections and looks forward to a successful November general election.”
Asked specific ways the postal service was addressing issues raised in Tippecanoe County, Wright said: “We have nothing further to add at this time.”
‘BACK A BOILER’ BREAKDOWN: Purdue’s income share agreement – student assistance alternative to student loans that President Mitch Daniels first dubbed “Bet on a Boiler” and then “Back a Boiler” in 2015 – has never been easy to understand. It’s clear in a deep dive this week from Indianapolis Star reporter Arika Herron that it’s still not all that easy for those on the back end of a deal that has investors kick in money to pay for a student's college years in return for a cut of future income. Among Daniels’ concepts for innovation in ways students can finance a college education, the rumblings are growing that not everyone got the bargain they thought. Purdue has been standing by the program. But as one Back a Boiler participant told Herron: “I was completely bamboozled.” Income share agreements still aren’t easy to fully understand, but this piece is worth a read. Here’s a link to it.
REPORT: GOOD GRADES = BONUSES FOR PURDUE STUDENT-ATHLETES: I’ll admit I missed the 2021 Supreme Court ruling that said universities could give student-athletes $5,980 a school year for academic-related expenses. According to reporting from the J&C’s Mike Carmin, Purdue is prepared to follow other schools who have gone that direction, with bonuses to student-athletes who hit certain academic benchmarks. Here’s a link to Carmin’s full story in the J&C.
DANIELS AND THIS YEAR’S COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS: Mitch Daniels’s commencement speech during the annual gantlet of ceremonies in Elliott Hall of Music – four days’ worth this year – had Purdue’s president telling fresh grads: “We’re all mutts here today. Hybrids, amalgams, crossbreeds, mongrels. Mutts.” The upshot: “There are no one-dimensional ‘you’s.’”
An outtake, about mid-speech:
“These days, your individuality is challenged by some who seek to slap a label on you, to lump you into one category or another, and to assert that whatever you are, your choices have little to do with it. What matters is not what you think or do, they claim, but what group they have assigned you to. You’re a prisoner of your genes, or of circumstance, or of some societal forces against which you are defenseless.
“Such views may be cloaked in caring, sympathetic terms, but they are deeply disrespectful of those they affect to be supporting. They are a denial of your personal dignity, and ability, and will power. Someone attempting to herd you into a group is someone with an agenda, and your personal wellbeing is not its main purpose.
“Your experience, and success, at this institution should convince you not to listen to such disrespect. In a few moments, when you walk up here, it will be your individual achievement we are honoring, and only you know how much individual effort it took to get here.”
For the full thing, here’s a link to what grads heard.
Of if you prefer to hear it straight from the mutt’s mouth …
Thanks, again, to sponsor Little Engine Ventures for the help to make this edition possible. Click on the graphic below to learn more about their Lafayette-based businesses.
THANKS FOR MAKING THE FIRST YEAR OF THE BASED IN LAFAYETTE REPORTING PROJECT WORK.