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They lifted one for an icon at Harry’s
They came to Harry’s Monday to pay tribute to Herschel Cook, an owner since ’77. Plus: LSC still mulling districts. Indiana’s ‘divisive’ curriculum bill fades. Lafayette Jeff’s new AD team
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The front window just inside the door at Harry’s Chocolate Shop was filled Monday afternoon with a rotation of former bartenders, wait staff and long-time regulars at the iconic bar a block from Purdue’s campus.
The drink of choice by more than a few was Michelob Ultra, the choice of Herschel Cook, one of Harry’s owners since 1977. Cook died Sunday at age 75.
“I expect that’s just going to keep growing into tonight,” Laine Hastings, general manager at Harry’s, said looking at the crowd at the front of the place.
“The man was an icon,” Hastings, who has been at Harry’s for 22 years, said. “The man was here every day for 45 years, making this place what it is. He was a machine. I loved working for him. We all loved working for him.”
Harry’s is a campus mainstay at the corner of State and Pierce streets, first opened as an ice cream fountain and soda parlor in 1919 and eventually getting beer service in the 1933, after the end of Prohibition. And Herschel Cook had been an owner since 1977, the majority of that time with Mary Cook, his wife and co-owner.
“I first met him when I was in my 20s and a couple of my college friends worked there,” West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis said. “Later on in life, when my friends would come back to town we would always meet at Harry’s and would chat with Herschel for a while and catch up. Years later, while in this job we would occasionally have lunch there, and he was always the same Herschel.”
In the Cooks’ induction into Boiler Business Exchange Business Hall of Fame in 2019, Purdue told about how Herschel Cook was born in Lafayette and grew up in Franklin, graduated from Purdue in 1969 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial management and then spent two years in Vietnam in the Army. Back in West Lafayette, Cook worked for State Farm for several years before offering to buy Harry’s from Marack Jr.
Herschel and Mary Cook, who had been Harry’s first woman bartender, were married in 1979. In addition to Harry’s, the owned The Pub at Fifth and Union streets in Lafayette (now an empty lot), the Wabash Yacht Club in Chauncey Hill Mall and The Other Pub on South Ninth Street. (The restaurant because Walt’s Other Pub and eventually moved into a new space across Ninth Street, with the original location now home to Teays River Brewing). Herschel Cook was frequently seen through the years walking across Harrison Bridge, a shop towel still tucked in, between The Pub and Harry’s.
The tributes were flowing Monday night.
Funeral arrangements were pending Monday at Soller Baker Funeral Home in Lafayette. The wake started Monday, just inside the door at Harry’s.
Here’s a video from Purdue’s Business Exchange Hall of Fame induction in 2019:
THIS AND THAT …
LSC BOARD DISTRICTS: The Lafayette school board pulled back Monday night from a scheduled vote on a new setup for how board members are elected.
Monday night, the seven-member board seemed to agree to split corporation boundaries into four districts, with one representative elected from each district. The other three board members would be elected at-large, meaning they could live anywhere in the school district.
The board was still considering whether to redraw the lines, but this was the proposed map for 2022 released two weeks ago:
Now, the LSC school board is elected with representatives who live in one of seven districts. Here’s the map today:
Bob Laszyinski, LSC’s attorney, said questions remained about whether school board members from each district would be elected by voters in those districts or by voters across LSC. Laszyinski said those questions were being worked out with county election officials to make sure the LSC model passes muster.
Superintendent Les Huddle said the school board likely would call a special meeting in the coming weeks to vote on a redistricting plan once those issues were resolved.
The LSC boundary changes are part of redistricting efforts after the 2020 census. If the new plan is approved, the four district seats would be on the ballot in November 2022. The three at-large seats – meaning candidates may live anywhere in LSC – would be up in 2024.
Board members whose terms are up this year include Bob Stwalley, Brent Clemenz, Rebecca Sprague and Steve Bultinck. According to the new maps, Sprague and Bultinck live in District D, Stwalley lives in District C, and Clemenz lives in District B. No board member lives in the new District A – pending any shifts to come in the boundaries.
School board candidates, who are listed as independents on the ballot, may file to run July 27 to noon Aug. 26.
THE DEATH OF HOUSE BILL 1134: News of the apparent death of House Bill 1134 – a billed as a curriculum transparency measure by Republican lawmakers and derided as an onerous, sure way to make Indiana teachers bail on the profession – came at the end of a Lafayette school board work session Monday night.
Alicia Clevenger, LSC assistant superintendent for curriculum, delivered the word to school board members: “I bring good tidings.”
The bill would have barred classroom lessons or discussions around a series of “divisive topics,” including those surrounding race and politics and anything that might have made students uncomfortable. At various stages, the bill included requirements that would have had teachers posting individual lesson plans for community review. Lawmakers called it accountability. Teachers balked, calling it micromanaging.
On Monday, though, Indiana Senate Republicans decided they didn’t have the votes to keep the bill moving. So, it died, up against a deadline to advance bills this late in the General Assembly session. For a good look at how that played out, check this account from Indianapolis Star reporter Arika Herron.
At the LSC board meeting, the sense of relief was muted. (“I thought they were going to break into applause,” Superintendent Les Huddle said later.)
Board member Bob Stwalley said he was still skeptical. He noted that provision in the bill had cleared the House.
“They can still shove it back in at the 11th hour,” Stwalley said.
The board held off any celebration, for now.
LAFAYETTE JEFF AD, ASSISTANT AD LOCKED IN: When Justin Gardiner was promoted to interim athletic director at Lafayette Jeff in 2021, when then-AD Joe Hernandez resigned earlier that summer, the appointment was meant to give the high school time to do a wider search in time for the start of the 2022-23 school year. Turned out, LSC liked what it had.
Monday night, the Lafayette School Corp. board made Gardiner the full-fledged AD, starting July 1.
The board also named Scott Leverenz, an assistant principal at Lafayette Jeff, as the school’s assistant athletic director.
Gardiner was named assistant athletic director two years ago, before he was – a John Layton, associate superintendent put it – thrust into leading the athletic department at the 6A school.
“By all accounts, Justin has performed admirably,” Layton said.
About Leverenz, Layton said: “I think I speak probably for everyone that I don’t know of anyone who loves Jeff High School more than Scott.”
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